Tuesday, August 7, 2012

MSFV Blog Hop--Interview and Book Giveaway by Leah Petersen

Welcome to what will hopefully be the first of the Annual Authoress’ Success Story blog tours! Those of us who have owed our publishing successes, at least in part, to the Miss Snark’s First Victim contests and blog have decided to come together and help cross promote each other’s work.  Every day in the first two weeks of August, a different author will be posting an interview of one of our fellow Success Stories, so make sure to tune in to everyone’s blogs (there’s a list below). Also, if you haven't checked out my interview on Amanda Sun's blog from yesterday, you still have time to enter to win a first chapter critique from moi.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the awesome Leah Petersen. Leah is giving away an ebook copy of her book Fighting Gravity to one lucky commenter! Just comment below for a chance to win this:

"When Jacob Dawes is selected for the Imperial Intellectual Complex as a child, he's catapulted from the poverty-stricken slums of his birth into a world where his status as an unclass is something no one can forget, or forgive. His growing scientific renown draws the attention of the emperor, a young man Jacob's own age, and they find themselves drawn to each other in an unlikely and ill-advised relationship. Jacob may have won the emperor's heart, but it's no protection when he's accused of treason. And fighting his own execution would mean betraying the man he loves."
Leah Petersen lives in North Carolina. She does the day-job, wife, and mother thing, much like everyone else. She prides herself on being able to hold a book with her feet so she can knit while reading. She’s still working on knitting while writing. Make sure to check out Leah's blog and follow her on Twitter.
Her first novel, Fighting Gravity, is available now from Dragon Moon Press.

Welcome Leah--I'm from North Carolina too! I think you need to post a pic of the knitting while reading thing, because that is amazing. So can you tell us how participating on the MSFV blog helped get you where you are now?
Leah: The short(ish) version is that I got into one of the monthly Secret Agent contests (back when it was simply the first 25 or 50 that got into the mailbox, purely a trigger finger rather than a merit thing.) The agent had some pointed criticism of my opening, and little about it that she thought worked. Ouch. Well, I took her critique and worked on making it better. The next month, Authoress announced the open submission period for Dragon Moon Press. They looked like a good fit for me so I queried with my revised draft and they asked for the full. The next day I got an email asking if we could have a phone conversation. And the rest is history.

I think the nice thing about my story is that it shows how many ways authors can benefit from Authoress's site and the community there. It's not just about winning the contests or auctions. There's value in what you can learn there, and the connections and network and community Authoress has built there.
That's a great story, and highlights how every path to publication is different. One of the things that struck me about your book was the LGBT aspect. As a writer who has a gay character in my current novel, I'm wondering if this was an obstacle for you in terms of publishing.

Leah: You know, I expected it to, but the opposite was true. In fact, my editor told me that someone she mentioned it to remarked that it was the LGBT angle that made it such a unique and interesting concept.

That's awesome. So can you tell us what you're working on right now, and why are you excited about it?
Right now I'm working on the sequel to Fighting Gravity, currently called Cascade Effect. I was actually less than excited about it a few weeks ago because the summer is such a busy time for me and it was just another thing that required my time. But a couple of weeks ago my dad read Fighting Gravity for the first time and he liked it so much that my aunt decided to read it and she raved about it so her assistant is now reading it and my coworker... (this is a family business, so we're all working in the same office.) 

Anyway, watching real people in my life get excited about my characters and want to know what happens next has helped my find my excitement again.
I can relate to summer being super busy, but how cool to have family that is so supportive of you!  What advice do you have for those who are still in the query trenches?

Learn from it. Don't just flog the query process with an exclusive focus on landing an agent. I learned A LOT about writing and the publishing industry from querying at a slow, measured pace and reading as much as I could about how to go about it in the meantime. 
That is so true--I felt like I had gained so much knowledge about writing and the publishing industry by the time I got an agent. What is your writing process like (e.g. are you a morning/evening writer?)

I'm a catch-it-when-you-can writer. I tend to devote chunks of time to writing one or two days a week rather than smaller, regular periods. Even I don't think it's ideal, but it's what works for me. My muse resents being told what to do. If I dictate time and place to her, she tends to get huffy and uncooperative.  
Your writing style sounds a lot like mine--your muse and my muse must be related. Can you tell us something about yourself we'd be surprised to know?

I celebrated the sale of Fighting Gravity by getting a new tattoo. It's a solar eclipse.   
That is very cool, and very brave. My tattoos are applied by my 5-yo and wash off easily. Last bonus question for you: What are you reading right now? Which authors inspire you?

I've been on a huge reading kick lately and I've probably read three books this week already. (It's Wednesday as I write this.) Today I'm on Kushiel's Avatar, by Jacqueline Carey.

If the characters are compelling enough that I hurt and bleed and jump for joy with them, then that's a good book. I'm inspired by any author who can do that. 

Oh, the Kushiel series have been read by several women in my book club (myself included), and are such a great guilty-pleasure read! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today, Leah.  

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in Leah's book giveaway, and check out Leah's blog tomorrow when she interviews Monica Bustamante Wagner.   
Visit the whole crew:
Blog Twitter Posting   Date
David   Kazzie @davidkazzie 1-Aug
Leigh   Talbert Moore @leightmoore 2-Aug
J.Anderson   Coats @jandersoncoats 3-Aug
J.M.   Frey @scifrey 4-Aug
Elissa   Cruz @elissacruz 5-Aug
Amanda   Sun @Amanda_Sun 6-Aug
Kristi Helvig @KristiHelvig 7-Aug
Leah   Petersen @Leahpetersen 8-Aug
Monica   Bustamante Wagner @Monica_BW 9-Aug
Emily   Kokie @emkokie 10-Aug
Monica   Goulet @MonicaGoulet 11-Aug
Peter   Salomon @petersalomon 12-Aug
Sarah   Brand @sarahbbrand 13-Aug
Angela Ackerman @angelaackerman   & @writerthesaurus 14-Aug
Tara   Dairman @TaraDairman 15-Aug


  1. Thanks for having me, Kristi! This was a fun interview!


  2. Great interview, Kristi!! And I think I've said this before, but it makes me so happy that your dad, Leah, loved your book! :) Good luck writing Cascade Effect! :)

  3. Thanks for sharing her story and giving hope to other writers out there. Publishing is a complex thing in today's world as I know myself. As a gay individual and LGBT advocate, I do enjoy seeing gay characters become more and more part of the mainstream as it both educates and normalizes another aspect of our society here and everywhere. Keep up the great work and the publishing of fabulous literature!

  4. Awesome! And I agree with Kristi--this is an interesting, unique take on the romance story! :o) Best of luck with FIGHTING GRAVITY, and yes! It was cool when you posted about your dad liking your book. I bet that was a little scary.

    Now for that picture of you knitting w/your feet! :D

  5. I am so impressed with eh knitting and reading thing--I agree, you should post a picture of this mad skillz.

    Nice to hear your tale of success, and to see the people around you be so supportive! :)


  6. So nice to hear a success story, Leah. Love how you celebrated with a tattoo. Congrats! Great interview, Kristi!

  7. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me.

  8. Great interview, gals! :) (I also want to see a picture of you knitting and reading! LOL)

  9. Ladies, I think that my muse must be related to yours as well!

    Great questions, Kristi, and Leah, your book sounds so awesome! Also, I think I may recognize the name of the person who blurbed the cover... =)

  10. It is wonderful reading about all the successes that the Authoress had a hand in. Congratulations, Leah!

  11. Thanks everyone!! So, since you asked, here are the pictures:



  12. What a small world! I am just amazed at how many writers whom I follow via blogs or facebook have been influenced by MSFV. I am excited to (hopefully) join their ranks one day. Great interview and thanks for the giveaway.

  13. Leah, I'm a write-when-it's-flowing writer, too. But trying to schedule more time. One of the things I'm loving about this blog hop is seeing how many different paths people followed, and all the different ways the MSFV blog has helped. Goodluck with Fighting Gravity! And Great interview, Kristi and Leah!

  14. Leah, I was fascinated by your less than conventional route to publication. I also like the novel idea of a YA novel with gay heroes. Good luck with this book and the rest in the series.

  15. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you guys! Thank you so much for all the comments and encouragement!

    I used Random.org to pick a winner for a copy of Fighting Gravity and it chose...


    Only I don't see any way to contact you. :( I hope you see this message. You can email me at leah at leah petersen dot com. Mind the spelling of my last name, there are no o's in it.