May 20, 2011

In Leah's Wake - Q&A and Review

Today I am SUPER excited to feature Terri Giuliano Long and her book In Leah's Wake as part of the Novel Publicity Blog Tour! I have reviewed the book as well as interviewed Terri. The book has an excellent message, Terri is a sweetheart who we can all learn from, and I'm eager to share this with you.

And, you could win a free copy of the book! Read on for more details!


Protecting their children comes naturally for Zoe and Will Tyler—until their daughter Leah decides to actively destroy her own future.

Leah grew up in a privileged upper-middle class world. Her parents spared no expense for her happiness; she had all-but secured an Ivy League scholarship and a future as a star athlete. Then she met Todd.

Leah’s parents watch helplessly as their daughter falls into a world of drugs, sex, and wild parties. While Will attempts to control his daughter’s every move to prevent her from falling deeper into this dangerous new life, Zoe prefers to give Leah slack in the hope that she may learn from her mistakes. Their divided approach drives their daughter out of their home and a wedge into their marriage.

Twelve-year-old Justine observes Leah’s rebellion from the shadows of their fragmented family. She desperately seeks her big sister’s approval and will do whatever it takes to obtain it. Meanwhile she is left to question whether her parents love her and whether God even knows she exists.

What happens when love just isn’t enough? Who will pay the consequences of Leah’s vagrant lifestyle? Can this broken family survive the destruction left in Leah’s wake?

This mesmerizing debut novel tells the tale of a contemporary American family caught in the throes of adolescent rebellion - a heartbreaking, funny, ultimately redemptive quest for love, independence, connection and grace.

5 Point Review:

  1. Perspective changes allow a greater view and understanding of all the characters. By writing in third person, Terri is able to easily transform the current perspective. These frequent shifts allow you the reader to hate a character one minute, and sympathize with them the next. It allows the best understanding of the emotions of everyone involved. This love-hate relationship makes the characters and the story seem real and alive.
  2. Terri's writing style is natural, casual, and easy to read. She is able to describe accurate descriptions of difficult situations effectively. She also has the gift of being bluntly honest about drugs, sex, and rebellious teenage feelings in a natural way without overdramatizing it.
  3. There isn't a single moment when you realize you truly care about these characters, rather you unconsciously knew it all along. They're all so relatable and understandable that you just feel a natural tenderness, sympathy, and curiosity toward the Tyler family.
  4. All the characters have natural flaws that take time to recognize and fix. This makes each character individually complex, and brings them to life. Sometimes when writing flaws for a character it can seem fake or forced. But Terri allows her characters to feel life-like.
  5. The way Leah thinks about her family when she's missing them is touching and sweet. It makes you love and appreciate your family more. As you grow closer to the Tyler family, you also grow closer to your own.
17 Q&A With Terri:

When did you know you wanted to be an author?

I’ve always been a writer at heart. As a child, I entertained myself by making up stories and acting in my own improvisational plays. In high school, my hobbies and activities mostly involved writing. One day, brazenly, I walked into the editor’s office at the town paper and asked for a job. Initially, I covered sports and other high school news. Eventually, the editor gave me my own column. I was sixteen. That column was my first paid writing job. I earned about a dollar a week – and I knew then that the only job I’d ever want would be as a writer.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Writing – I can’t imagine not writing. I’ve been a writer, in one form or another, my whole life. Writing transports me; I lose myself in the process.

What is your writing schedule like?

Ideally, I blog in the morning and either write or edit the novel I’m working on from early afternoon until dinnertime. This schedule doesn’t always work. We just finished the school year at Boston College; during crunch time, when I’m busy editing and grading students’ papers, my own work falls by the wayside. I’ve neglected my novel for the last month, and I’m eager to dig in again. Typically, it takes me a few weeks to catch up and get back into a regular routine.

In the past, I insisted that students write every day. I believe now that rules are counterproductive. The right way to do anything is the way that works best for you. Life interferes with the best-laid plans. You can fight it or go with it. I try to go with it. Of course, I don’t always succeed.

What is your book, In Leah's Wake, about, in your own words?

In Leah’s Wake tells the story of a family in collapse. Sixteen-year-old Leah, a star soccer player, has led a perfect life. When she meets a sexy older guy, attracted to his independence, she begins to spread her wings. Drinking, ignoring curfew, dabbling in drugs—this feels like freedom to her; her terrified parents, thinking they’re losing their daughter, pull the reigns tighter. Unfortunately, they get it all wrong, pushing when they ought to be pulling, and communication breaks down. Soon, there’s no turning back. Twelve-year-old Justine caught between the parents she loves, and the big sister she adores, finds herself in the fight of her life, trying desperately to pull her family together. 

What inspired you to write this story?

Years ago, I wrote a series of feature articles about families with drug and alcohol-addicted teens. The moms talked candidly about their children, their heartbreaking struggles. Those stories stayed with me. 

My husband and I have four daughters. When I began writing In Leah's Wake, they were teens. Most families struggle in some way during their children's teenage years. We’re no different - though, thank goodness, we experienced nothing remotely like the problems and challenges the Tylers face in the book.

As a parent, I know how it feels to be scared, concerned for your children’s future. That, I think, was the primary force behind this story.

All these things played on my conscious and subconscious mind, and ultimately emerged as this book. 

What successes have you had with this novel?

Publishing it myself is, in my mind, a success story. In 2006, the book was under contract with an indie publisher. Shortly before the release, things fell apart. Not long after (unrelated to me), the company folded. I sent the book to a handful of agents, received lovely, complimentary responses, but no offers. I really believed in this book. I’d received so much encouragement over the years, from agents, editors, readers, writer friends—I’m grateful, truly grateful to all of them—that I had a hard time letting go. For years, I tried to revise. Eventually, I realized I was writing in circles. The book had changed, but it had gotten no better. Reluctantly, I put it away.

Last year, after several false starts, I finally gained traction on a new novel, a psychological thriller, Nowhere to Run. Like In Leah’s WakeNowhere is, at heart, a family story. I anticipate finishing the new novel this fall. I knew I’d need a platform and hoped that self-publishing In Leah’s Wake would help me build one. A lot of people are self-publishing, but this was a new – and scary – avenue for me. It’s been bumpy ride – and the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. 

What was difficult about writing this novel, or any other books you’ve written?

For a lot of writers, it’s facing a blank screen, revising, dealing with rejection. I struggle with all of this, too, to varying degrees. For me, sustaining belief—not in the project, but in myself—is, by far, the biggest challenge. I wonder if I’m on the right track, constantly second-guess myself, which results in periods of, let’s say, creative procrastination. 

Why do you like writing in this genre?

Families fascinate me. While my stories differ—I’m currently working on a psychological thriller with a historical twist—they always tie back to the family, the ways we love, yet often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, the joy. I think people connect with these stories. I’ve heard from so many readers – family, friends, reviewers, readers I’ve never met. They tell me In Leah’s Wake feels real, the problems complex. They’ve been there – as a parent or a teen. They feel like they know these characters, and they care about them. This connection, for me, is the most important reason for writing.

What do you hope readers will get from your story?

The epigraph, from The Grand Inquisitor, says it best: “everyone is really responsible to all men for all men and for everything.” The Tyler family is far from perfect, but they love one another. Our flaws make us human and our humanity connects us. I hope readers feel that sense of connection—and hope. 

Where can readers get a copy of your novel?  

In Leah’s Wake is available as an e-book or paperback through all the major online bookstores – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, and others. If you’d prefer to support your local bookstore or borrow the book from your library, please ask the person in charge to order a copy. Early this summer – I’m excited about this – In Leah’s Wake will be available as an audio book. 

What was the process you went through for publishing this novel?

It took 12 years, with periodic breaks, to finish and publish this book. Before it went under contract with the indie publisher, two major houses expressed interest; in both cases, the timing was bad. While it’s frustrating to come so close, it’s not uncommon in this business.

Last year, when I decided to self-publish, I contacted a wonderful press. They still print my promotional copies, but I decided not to publish with them because their price structure was inflexible and I felt it important for the novel to be affordable for readers. For a reasonable fee, they designed the cover and interiors and gave me the files to load into Createspace and Kindle, and they’ve helped me make changes along the way. Novel Publicity will produce the audio book.

What are your thoughts on the publishing revolution concerning e-books and self-publishing?

This is an exciting time for both readers and writers. The gatekeepers no longer hold all the power; today readers can choose from a rich selection of traditionally and indie published books. Writers whose books might never have been published under the old system are enjoying phenomenal success. I’m awed and encouraged by this.

That said, self-publishing is by no means easy. The logistics of self- publishing aside, you have to work tirelessly to promote yourself, and not everyone has the stomach for that. I haven’t heard anyone else say this, so I may be out to lunch, but I also see a disturbing trend among some traditionally published writers to denigrate self-publishers.

We’re in a brave new world of publishing. No one knows how this will shake out. I think we should remember that we’re all is this together. We need each other – writers are avid readers, after all – and we should, to the best of our ability, respect and support one another.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a contemporary psychological thriller with a historical twist. 

Nowhere to Run takes place in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. A year after the brutal murder of her six-year-old daughter, Abby Minot, formerly an award-winning writer, accepts her first assignment—a profile of the philanthropic Chase family, kin of the popular New Hampshire senator and presidential hopeful, Matthias Chase.

In her initial research, Abby glimpses darkness under the Chase family’s shiny veneer. Digging deeper, she uncovers a shocking web of lies and betrayal, dating back to the nineteenth century. Abby soon finds herself trapped—between an editor obsessed with uncovering the truth and the town and family who will stop at nothing to ensure it stays hidden.

I hope to complete the novel this fall. 

What are your future goals?

I’d love to see In Leah’s Wake turned into a major motion picture. LOL. What writer wouldn’t love to see his or her book on the big screen? Realistically, I hope to continue writing, building an audience. I hope readers enjoy my books and that, in some small way, my works gives them hope and makes them feel connected to the community around them.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Believe in yourself. I know wonderful writers whose first, second or third books, really good, strong books, were rejected. To deal with the rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares, the stars misaligned – to self-publish in a world that still privileges the traditionally published - you have to believe in yourself.

Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. The loneliness can wear on you, and cause you to question yourself. A few supportive writer friends can help and encourage you.

Hold onto your dreams. You can make them happen. Don’t ever give up!

What do you like to do in your free time?

My favorite activity is spending time with my family. I also enjoy traveling, meeting new people. Now that we’re in California, I love to walk on the beach. I also love reading, cooking, and trying new foods.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Let’s see: I’m a closet dork. I walk into things. I have zero sense of direction. I’m addicted to chocolate. I think Rachel covered everything else.

Thank you so much, Rachel, for hosting me on your blog. I appreciate your generosity. And thank you, readers, for visiting with me!


Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a lecturer at Boston College.

While her passion lies in the written word, Terri’s primary inspiration comes from her interest in existential philosophy and her observations of people and human nature. Her stories expand upon the subtle truths and what-ifs of everyday life. No matter where her stories journey, they always tie back to the family—the ways we love yet, in loving, too often hurt one another, the grief, the sorrow, the revelation, and the joy. Terri’s goal is to offer lasting hope and deep emotional connection in a compact and entertaining package.

Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her spare time, she enjoys walking, traveling to far-flung places, and meeting interesting people. True to her Italian-American heritage, she’s an enthusiastic cook and she loves fine wine and good food. In an alternate reality, she could have been very happy as an international food writer.

Terri loves meeting and connecting with people who share her passions. Visit on or Facebook:

Contact Terri

Tour Notes:

Please vote for my blog, Writing Wonder, in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting the official In Leah’s Wake blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.

The next word for the book give-away is ABOUT . Learn more about the give-away and enter to win 1 of 3 copies on the official In Leah's Wake blog tour page. The other 2 copies are being given-away courtesy of the GoodReads author program, go here to enter. And don’t forget to stop by the Q&A with Terri Giuliano Long Group to discuss In Leah’s Wake (including questions from the official book club guide), the author, her writing process, and advice.



  1. Thank you so much for your amazing review, Rachel! You have a wonderful blog! I really appreciate your hosting me. Thank you, visitors, for reading.

  2. Very good interview. I loved reading her answers and lerning about her reasons for going the self-published route. I'm contemplating that myself. To get close to publication (agent, editing, submission) but then have the agent decide to jump ship (get out of the agenting business) is hard. I love reading about others successes with self publishing. The cover looks amazing and the story intriguing.

    Best of luck.

    And Rachel, let me know how to get my hands on your book and workbook. I've tried but can't seem to get it to work right.

  3. Thank you so much, Angela! If you decide to go the self-publishing route and I can help in any way, please give me a holler. There's a lot to consider; sometimes it's nice to chat with someone who's been there. :)

    Thank you again for hosting me, Rachel! Can't wait for your guest post!

  4. Terri, you are so sweet! I'm glad you like the post! I'm happy to host you (;

    I loved all of Terri's responses too, Angela! She's awesome and such a sweetheart. You should definitely read her book!

    Try this link for the purchasing the book and workbook. I think it's working now, but if not, let me know! (:

  5. Thank you again, Rachel! It's such an honor and pleasure to be here! Can't wait to read your book! :)

  6. Hi Rach, great write up!

    Just wanted to say 'thank you' for your support during my A-Z blogging month. I've created a fun "no strings attached" blog award for you and all of the other awesome bloggers who offered feedback and encouragement.

    You can view the award and my thank you note here:

    Hope you are well and that I see you around in the future!


  7. Good Job Rachel!!!!!!