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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Guest Post+Giveaway: Stories from My Mother by Terri Giuliano Long

I would like to welcome Terri Giuliano Long, author of In Leah's Wake to the blog. She has written a special tribute to her mother in honor of her birthday! So sweet!!
Stories from My Mother
One of my earliest memories: naptime, I’m lying in bed with my mother, my little sisters and baby brother. Our mom’s reading Sleeping Beauty. And I’m caught in the story. But it’s not only the story. It’s the book, the feel of its cardboard cover, the gorgeous, painstaking drawings, with their muted, pastel colors. It’s the dim light—it’s the rhythm and cadence of my loving mother’s voice.

My mother read to us every day. I loved the simple stories, like Dinky Donkey or The Saggy, Baggy Elephant, but it was the fairytales, stories by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, that transported me. As my mom read, an enchanted door opened to an imaginary parallel universe and I became the characters, Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. The little match girl, looking in on the holiday feast, the blazing fire and table laden with food, lighting matches to keep my fingers from freezing.

Around age five, I began to make up my own stories. I’d spend hours, alone in my sunny attic bedroom. With the window open, I could hear the kids outside, playing hide and seek, laughing, calling each other. The crack of a baseball bat, the kids squealing, cheering the runner around the bases. I would be sprawled on the floor, drawing, cutting outfits for my paper dolls, and making up stories.

Once I was old enough to read, I immersed myself in books. I read any and everything—fairytales, King Arthur. This love of reading - of stories - cultivated by my mother, stayed with me as I grew older. Stories shaped my perceptions and gave me a framework for looking at life. For me, life is a series of stories, with beginning, middle, and end, each story, seen at a distance, concluding in growth, understanding, a lesson learned. A transcendent arch connects these everyday stories and helps me to make sense of life. With an end - an outcome to strive for, a goal to reach – life has value and meaning.

In the midst of a story – a challenge – I’m often confused. I’m not sure where I’m headed or why I’ve put myself in the story at all. A job change, a move, a difficult project – until I’ve found my way, these challenges weigh on and confound me. The same is true of the stories I write. Drafting a story or novel, I feel lost and confused. The parts feel unrelated, discrete. A character says or does something and I wonder, why? In the midst of a project, frustrated, unsettled, I’m tempted to quit. Trusting that the story will have an end, stories are – life is - more than a compilation of irrelevant events, I push on.

All at once, the story takes shape. I see connections, relationships among the various parts. Those aha moments are few, yes – we don’t experience them often – but when they do occur, in that moment of wonder, I know that, whatever changes must be made, I can see my way through to the end.

The stories I listened to as a child take on new meaning as I grow older, the tales giving shape and meaning to my existence. Stories give me joy and stories comfort me. Lying in bed, I tell stories to put myself to sleep. Telling stories has become my life’s work. I tell stories for myself and I tell stories for others. Always, inside my head, I hear the echo, the rise and fall of my mother’s tender, loving voice.
Happy birthday, Mom!

Terri Giuliano Long is the author of the award-winning novel In Leah's Wake. Her life outside of books is devoted to her family. In her free time, she enjoys walking, traveling, and listening to music. True to her Italian-American heritage, she's an enthusiastic cook. In an alternate reality, she might be an international food writer. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. In Leah's Wake is her debut novel.

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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?


Terri has offered an amazing prize package! The Grand Prize Winner (US Only) will win a signed copy of In Leah's Wake, a bookmark (they are gorgeous!) and a $15.00 Starbucks card (what else goes perfect with a book!) and there will be 10 Second Prize winners (Intl.)!! That's right 10! They will receive an e-copy of In Leah's Wake in either mobi, ePub or a Smashwords coupon. Winners choice! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below (make sure the prize is what is stated above, if not click on the title of this post and the correct form should show up).


R.S. Guthrie said...

Happy Birthday to your mom, Terri! Moms are great, especially those who read to us and instill within our souls a deep appreciation for books, stories, and the greater imagination that makes writing (and reading) such a profound experience. Great post!

Terri Giuliano Long said...

It's such an honor and a pleasure to be here, Kels! Thank you so very much for introducing me to your readers - and for giving me this space to write a guest post in honor of my mother!

Warmest wishes,


Terri Giuliano Long said...

Thank you so much, Rob! I hope my mom likes the post. :)

I think it's interesting how much things influence us, whether or not we realize it. Although I've always credited my writing to my mom, until I wrote this post, I hadn't realized all the ways those stories shaped me. Writing crystallized that for me.

erin said...

Thanks for a great post and giveaway! Happy Birthday to your mom :)

I've always admired and respected my parents. They did the best the could, with what they had and they were great examples of hard work and high morals. As I get older (in my 30s now) I realize that they weren't perfect and were growing along with us and the bad memories of being mad at them for being too strict are tempered by that fact.

Maureen said...

My favorite memory of my mom is of baking with her.

IdentitySeeker said...

My favourite memory of my dad is of the times we went shopping together after he's fetch me from university or on one of my day's off. My favourite memory of my mum is when we spend time at home together watching our favourite movies and baking. Or discussing our favourite books:)

Thanks for this great giveaway!

I'd love to read In Leah's Wake:)


Kelley said...

My favorite Memory is when I was 6 years old and we went on an amazing family vacation to NC. Unfortunately it was the last one as my parents divorced the very next year. At least I have a wonderful trip with everyone getting alone and happy. I will forever remember it.