Friday, September 21, 2012

Author's Sandbox: Terri and Ann

From the 19th to 21st of September, award-winning bestseller Terri Giuliano Long and Pulitzer prize nominee Ann Pearlman will be joining together to share their experiences of different publishing journeys.

In celebration of this great event, Ann and Terri are also giving away paperback copies of their novels, plus a Kindle Fire!

At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.

As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves–turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes–In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.

Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share–by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.

Amazon Kindle 

Interview with Terri:
1. What is one book everyone should read?

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. This powerful novel transports us to a harsh post-apocalyptic world, where humans have been reduced to animal instinct—for the inhabitants of this world, murder and cannibalism are a means of survival.

In this unforgiving environment, McCarthy gives us a tender, elegantly rendered father and son. In their travels, the man and his son meet horrific challenges and hardships, yet they face each challenge with dignity and grace. Near death, the man says to his son: “You have my whole heart. You always did.” Years after reading the novel, the love of this father and son—their amazing bond—awes and inspires me.

This stunning work ends unexpectedly, with a promise of rebirth and renewal.

2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Almond Joy. In my novel, In Leah’s Wake, there’s an ice cream stand called Sullivan Farms, run by Bob Sullivan. Bob is a real person. Sullivan Farms Ice Cream is located in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts. Bob’s homemade Almond Joy ice cream is to die for.

3. If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?

Jesus. Growing up Catholic, I don’t think I fully appreciated the historical Jesus. A few years ago, considering a PhD in theology, I took two grad courses. The critical analyses fascinated me—literary, historical, archeological, feminist, etc.—and I realized how relevant the readings continue to be. From a humanist perspective, Jesus was a brilliant man with a tremendous capacity for love and forgiveness. He loved, trusted and forgave even those who didn’t deserve love, trust or forgiveness, and he forgave out of strength, not weakness. I’d love the chance to learn from him.

4. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

If I could eat anything at all without gaining weight, I’d start each day with a stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup. In the real world, I typically go for a low-ish fat protein. In San Francisco, Dave and I enjoyed a wonderful egg white omelet with broccoli, arugula, leeks and goat cheese. That’s now my favorite breakfast treat.

5. Night owl, or early bird?

I was an early bird for most of my life. Lately, because I tend to over-commit and am usually behind in my work, I’ve turned into a night owl. I also hate to miss anything.

6. One food you would never eat?

I don’t care for fennel and I’m allergic to shellfish and cherries. Otherwise, I’ll eat most foods. When a guest, to avoid insulting my host or hostess, I’ll try almost anything. In Beijing, Dave and I went to a local restaurant with two students. The menu was written in Chinese, so our friends ordered. When the steaming bowl arrived, I dug in – and pulled out a frog. Its head had been removed, but the body was fully intact. Lots of people eat frog, but this was green. I also ate mystery fish and chicken feet. Unless I didn’t know what it was, I think I’d draw the line at bugs.

7. Pet Peeves?

Selfishness and entitlement bother me. We share one world with limited resources. Circumstances sometimes require privileging certain people – for instance, in a health emergency medical personnel must be first to receive medical attention so they can care for the rest of us. In everyday life, there is no excuse for pushing and shoving. We’re all in a hurry. We all want what we want. That doesn’t give us the right to cut the line or demand special treatment. In a piece called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” Robert Fulghum writes that he learned, among other things, to: “share everything; play fair; don’t hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt someone.” There is a lot of wisdom in those lessons.

8. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

In Leah’s Wake, about a family in transition, tells a topical story that people relate to, but it’s also about the need for community and connection and, although sometimes sad, offers hope and redemption.

9. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I’m currently at work on a psychological thriller with a historical twist. Nowhere to Run takes place in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire.

After the brutal unsolved murder of her six-year-old daughter, award-winning writer Abby Minot had put her laptop away. A year later, emerging from a deep depression, she accepts her first assignment, a human-interest story on the wealthy and powerful Chase clan, the immediate family of Matthias Chase—a wildly popular congressman from northern New Hampshire.

Congressman Chase—a self-described “new Republican,” fiscally conservative, socially just—has built his platform on unsubstantiated claims that his ancestors were abolitionists. When a subterranean chamber is discovered under a barn on the family property, the Chase estate is declared an official stop on the Underground Railroad. Soon after, Chase launches a campaign for the presidency.

After accepting the assignment, Abby and her two surviving children travel to the Chase estate in the White Mountains for a month-long stay. In her initial research, she glimpses darkness under the 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.

10. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

When I published In Leah’s Wake, I had no clue as to what I was doing. Stupidly, too embarrassed to self-promote, I posted the book on Amazon and left it at that. I mean really left it at that– not even my parents knew I’d published the book!

I sold two copies in October, four in November, and thirty-four in December. By March, with sales lagging, I realized that if I didn’t do something my book would die. In early March, I began blogging and activated my Twitter account.

Once I got used to the idea that marketing didn’t have to mean shameless self-promotion, 24/7, I began to have fun and I actually enjoyed it. I’ve now sold close to 100,000 books. Getting there took a lot of hard work and dedication, and I’m proud of that accomplishment. Publishing In Leah’s Wake forced me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to respect and value my work and share it with other people. It was hard and it took time to figure it all out. But it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’ve also had the great good fortune of meeting many wonderful people!

11. What is your dream cast for your book?

Will Tyler – Matt Damon. Mr. Damon exudes fatherly love and protectiveness and he’s very intense. If his daughter were in trouble, I can picture him going into overdrive, like Will, and doing whatever it takes to pull her back.

Zoe Tyler – Sandra Bullock. I see her as loving, driven and ditzy, a less strident version of Leigh Anne Tuohy, the mom she played in The Blind Side.

Leah Tyler – For the role of Leah, I’d search for new talent. Caroline Wakefield, as played by Erika Christensen in the film Traffic, reminded me of Leah, in her all-American beauty and stunning transformation from preppy to drug-addicted prostitute. Ms. Christensen is too old for this role, but she’d be the prototype.

Justine Tyler – Abigail Breslin. Like Justine, she’s sweet and dorky and cute. She’s also precocious and strong.

Jerry Johnson – Vince Vaughn. He’s not the guy who walks into a room and gets the girl, but he’s centered and responsible, the rock for the others to lean on.

Todd Corbett (Leah’s boyfriend) – Jordan Masek. Jordan plays the role of Todd in my trailer. In real life, Jordan is actually a very sweet guy. But he knows how to channel his inner bad boy. I can’t imagine a more appropriately cast Todd.

12. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Believe in yourself. To deal with rejection, boot your computer, day after day, when it seems as if no one cares and you wonder if maybe the stars are misaligned, you have to believe in yourself.

Writing is a lonely profession. Most of the time, we’re alone with our work. That loneliness can wear on you and cause you to question yourself. Cherish your friendships. A community of supportive writer friends can encourage and sustain you when your confidence flags.

Keep the faith. Don’t ever give up. You can make your dreams happen!

13. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Whenever we travel at some point in the trip I think, wouldn’t it be great to live here. But there really is no place like home. Dave and I have four daughters. Right now, our children are spread across the country—in Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California—fulfilling their own journeys. When everyone is settled or finished with school, I hope to live near or within a reasonable drive of all our children. That’s my dream home.

14. What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?

I once had an idea for a novel about a woman who marries a dog. The idea grew out of an article I’d read, so it wasn’t quite as bizarre as it seems. Or maybe it was. Obviously it never went anywhere.

15. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

Be grateful and appreciate others. At the end of the day, the people in our life are all we have. No one ever dies wishing she’d worked longer hours or made more money or sold more books. It’s tough, because our culture values things over people and rewards monetary success. It’s important to remember that, in fact, we’ve got it backward. People – our friends, our family, our community – are our most valuable and precious assets. It’s far easier to recognize this and appreciate others if we’re grateful for what we have and all we’ve been given.

16. What do you do in your free time?

Hands down, my favorite activity is spending time with my family. I also enjoy walking and hiking, and I’m a passionate traveller and foodie. Dave and I have had the good fortune of visiting many interesting places over the years. For most of my life, I dreamed of travelling to China. It’s hard to describe the wonder of the Great Wall. From the towers, you see the wall continuing into the horizon. It’s positively breathtaking. I was awed by the power of humankind. I’ve felt this way in many places, inspired by the perseverance, creativity and ingenuity of people, awed by the beauty of the mountains, the valleys, the sun setting over the water.

17. If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

There’s a book already – called The Little Engine That Could. In Leah’s Wake is a quiet literary novel. When I first began marketing, a former agent told me she’d found the book boring and assured me that I’d never sell 1000 copies (my goal at the time). I was so distraught; had I not been in the midst of a blog tour, I might have packed up my book and gone home. The bloggers had been gracious enough to read my novel and host me on their blog, so I felt I owed it to them to soldier on. There were many days when I questioned myself, wondering why I’d published the book. Those four words, I think I can, drove me on. If you think you can—accomplish whatever your goal—you’re right. You truly can!

18. What’s your favorite season/weather?

I’m partial to spring, though on a bright sunny day, any season feels perfect. I’ve spent much of my life in the Boston area and currently live in Vermont. There is nothing quite as stunning as a clear fall day in New England, with the warm sun and colorful leaves. But in spring, as the days get longer, I feel hopeful and alive.

19. Who or what inspired you to become an author?

When I was a child, my mom read to us every day. Her reading instilled and nurtured a love of reading and stories. As a young child, I entertained myself by making up stories and plays. In high school, I worked as a stringer for the town paper – my first paid writing job – and I loved every minute. They paid me ten cents a word. Soon I was offered a column, called “High School News.” I wrote about anything that occurred to me or that I considered interesting, really. People actually read the column. That was exciting – and it launched my writing career.

When my children were young, I wrote news and feature articles for a local and regional paper, edited technical articles for trade magazines, and wrote marketing and web copy. In the nineties, I turned my attention to writing fiction. Early on, I published several short stories in lit magazines. In Leah’s Wake is my first novel. Nowhere to Run will be my second full-length work of fiction.

20. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m a closet nerd. To the world, I appear cool and relaxed, but I’m actually very shy. Before a public appearance, I’m anxious for days and it takes me forever to decide what to wear. I’m also a choc-o-holic and a shoe whore.

Ann Pearlman’s The Christmas Cookie Club enthralled readers everywhere with a heartwarming and touching story about the power of female friendship.

Now, in A Gift for My Sister, she once again explores the depth of the human heart, and this time it’s through the eyes of two sisters. Tara and Sky share a mother, but aside from that they seem to differ in almost every way. When a series of tragedies strikes, they must somehow come together in the face of heartbreak, dashed hopes, and demons of the past. The journey they embark on forces each woman to take a walk in the other’s shoes and examine what sisterhood really means to them. It’s a long road to understanding, and everyone who knows them hopes these two sisters can find a way back to each other.
Amazon Paperback 

Interview with Ann:
1. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future? 

I would go back to the past, about 30,000 or more years ago and see what it is like to be one of the first hominids on the planet wandering around on the Serengeti.

2. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? 

Butter Pecan with additional Pecans and some Amaretto.

3. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 

Poached egg on high fiber, five grain bread with my home made fruit preserves.

4. Night owl, or early bird? 

Early bird, but I used to be a night owl. My kids changed me. But now they’re all night owls.

5. One food you would never eat? 

I take pride in being able to eat anything.

6. Skittles or M&Ms? 

M&Ms. But I’d rather have plain 85% dark chocolate.

7. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 

A Gift for My Sister is a riveting novel exploring the depth of the heart as two sisters embark on a journey in each other’s shoes and on that long road remake themselves and their family.

8. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 

The publicity from the Christmas Cookie Club reunited one of my friends with her sister! (want to read more about this:

9. What is your dream cast for your book?

Michelle Williams for Sky because she reveals huge amounts of emotion in small gestures. She can portray a cautious, yet internally anxious and angry, character.

Katherine McPhee for Tara because she can sing, act, and has an edge. She can do impetuous, loving and self-sacrificing.

T.I. for Aaron/Special Intent because he looks and raps a bit as I imagine Aaron. And he has experience in front of a camera.

Cathy Bates for Allie , the friend who helps them on their journey across the country, because she can be wise, loving, yet tough, bridging those characteristics effortlessly.

Alfre Woodward for Sissy (Aaron’s mom) because of her welcoming warmth.

10. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 

Write, write, write! But only if you have to.

11. When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? 

It changed with time: Cowgirl, (and I actually competed in a rodeo in the barrel races) Ballerina, (still dance) Archaeologist. (just came back from a week long dig.) But somewhere between ballerina and archaeologist, I always knew I’d write.

12. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why? 

A movie was made from my memoir, Infidelity. Kim Delaney played me, but the plot was turned around 180 degrees so she was exactly opposite me. Strange.

13. How did you know you should become an author?

I knew I loved writing by the time I was in high school. If “author” means writer who is sort of professional…I guess that was when my second book was published and I went on a book tour.

14. Who are your favorite authors of all time? 

Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, David Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Julian Barnes, Jodi Picoult

15. Can you see yourself in any of your characters? 

Like people one dreams about, I think all characters are pieces or parts of the writer’s personality. So I see parts of myself—fears, hopes, desires, — in all of my characters.

16. What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year? 

The movie of Cloud Atlas. I loved the book.

17. How do you react to a bad review? 

First, I’m hurt and want to argue with the negatives. Then I reread and try to decide if there’s something I can learn from the criticism or if is it simply a matter of taste.

18. If you were a bird, which one would you be? 

Grackle. I fell in love with one and here’s the blog I wrote about how amazing he was:

19. You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?

Something on a beach somewhere.

20. Which authors have influence you most how? 

Different authors influenced me at different times in my life. It’s as though I find them so they can show me something. For example, when I was a teenager, I loved books about other cultures whether real or fantasy, from Pearl Buck to Ursula K. Le Guin. Right now, I’m interested in Translit fiction like David Mitchell and Hari Kunzu.

21. What do you do in your free time?

 I work out (aerobics, yoga, weight lifting, swimming), I paint and do metal sculpture, cook and bake. Read. Hang out with family and friends. Watch TV.

22. Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again. 

Write from 8-12. Work out Paint, clean house, read Cook dinner, Hang out with friends or family/watch tv/ read, talk on the phone. Go to sleep at about 11:30, reading in bed.

23. What’s your favorite season/weather? 

I love them all, but wish winter only lasted for 2 weeks and the snow stayed white and on the trees.

24. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

It was written with two friends (Getting Free: Women and Psychotherapy) I think we went for a trip to New York City and ate at a restaurant overlooking central park.

25. What is your guilty pleasure? 

I don’t do guilt.

26. Favorite music? 

Love it all. From chamber music, to blues, to rap, to rock, to Indie. Don’t like techno much.

Here's the rest of the tour...Check it out ;)

September 19th – Round Table Discussion on the Novel Publicity Blog 
September 20th at 2PM EST – Blog Talk Radio show with Ann and Terri 
September 21st – Blog Swaps 
Ann Pearlman will visit The Art & Craft of Writing Creatively to discuss her new title ‘A Gift for My Sister’ 
Terri Giuliano Long will visit Ann Pearlman’s blog to discuss her bestselling literary fiction novel ‘In Leah’s Wake’ 
September 21st – Twitter View at 4PM EST using hashtag #AuthorSandbox 

This tour hosted by Orangeberry Tours. Check them out here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this, Brittany. I really enjoyed The Bestsellers' Sandbox event and appreciate you spreading the word!

    With my best,