Monthly Archives: March 2015

Interview with Leah Griffith, Author of Cosette’s Tribe

Leah Griffith is the award-winning author of Cosette’s Tribe (review here). She joins us today for a few questions about her writing process, her books, and her inspiration.

LC: When did you begin writing?
LG: I was in my late teens when I began writing. I felt a push within, something deep and soulful trying to find a mode of expression. In the early years my writing took on more of a spiritual nature. This type of writing has always helped me to remember how to breathe. In my twenties I began writing short stories and essays.
My mother was an avid reader, and shared her love for great literature with us children. When she was carrying me, she was reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable`s, and fell in love with young Cosette. Consequently she chose that as my middle name. As a kid I hated the name but after reading Les Miserable`s myself, I became proud to have the name and delighted to name my protagonist Cosette.

LC: Cossette’s Tribe is somewhat autobiographical. What drew you to writing about certain times in your life?
LG: I’ve always felt the urge to write about my life in hopes that I could recycle my pain and use it to help others. This sort of powerful exchange helps me to remain a victor rather than a victim.
My life so far can be divided into three parts. Early childhood, ages 1-4: these were the magical years before the first sexual assault took place. During that phase I felt connected to unconditional love, and still possessed the lighthearted twirl of being a little girl.
Ages 4-14 were a belly crawl through impossible situations. These were the years of abuse, where shame kept me isolated from “…everything nice.”
And 12 through today: these have been the messy years…and the best of years. It has been a time of getting up and getting up and getting up again, and feeling the generous healing power of my fall downs. These have been the years of sunny ah-has and moody reflections, illuminating all that I believe in and discovering that my little girl dreams could still be found optimistically tucked between bravery and forgiveness.

LC: Tell us about the second book you’re working on.
LG: My latest novel is a continuation of Cosette’s Tribe. In book two, we find 14 year-old Cosette still living at home with her mother and sexually abusive stepfather Ken. Although Cosette was able to put an end to Ken’s advances a couple of years before, she now faces his vindictive side where Ken’s main form of entertainment is how to make Cosette suffer for rejecting him. Cosette continues to search for purpose as she follows a pale stream of hope into the future.
Cosette’s mother remains clueless about the past sexual abuse and spends most of her time playing referee between Cosette and Ken. But Cosette has more sinister foes to face; enemies of her own making, for the escape route she chooses from her unhappy childhood could shatter her young life in an instant.
I’m aiming for a launch of book two (still untitled) in the spring of 2016.
LC: Meanwhile, you can read more from Leah at her blog or her other blog.

LC: What do you hope readers experience while reading your books? What do you hope they take away?
LG: It took me years to find the courage to write Cosette’s Tribe because of the personal nature of the story. Presenting my novel as a work of fiction created a cushion for me, providing just enough space between myself and the story, which was sorely needed. My hope was that my words would inspire readers to get back up after they’ve been knocked down, no matter what their struggles are. I want to encourage readers to trust life and embrace their own stories, perhaps discovering that it takes a certain amount of light to cast a shadow, and ironically, it’s that light which moves us beyond our pain.
As a woman I found creating this work incredibly empowering. It helped to move me from the space of a silent victim into the place of a vocal victor. It’s a mighty feeling to take part in one’s own redemption…to be your own hero.
LC: Connect with Leah on Facebook.

LC: Tell us about any awards or honors you’ve received as an author. What did those honors mean to you as an artist?
LG: Cosette’s Tribe is a self-published work, which means that it’s up to me to market and sell my precious story. Although I’m a bit shy and I should probably push a lot harder with the marketing of my novel, Cosette’s Tribe is not without awards and honors.
Cosette’s Tribe was the first place winner of the 2011 Laine Cunningham, New Novel Award present by The Blotter Magazine. As a new author this was thrilling for me. After all, this wasn’t family and friends praising me, it was my peers, and it meant the world to me, as did the fat check and prizes they gave me.
Cosette’s Tribe took first place for both Best Novel and Mainstream Fiction in the 2013 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBooks Awards. Cosette’s Tribe was also chosen by Florida Weekly’s book reviewer Phil Jason as one of his favorites for 2012.
Of course my biggest reward has been the overwhelmingly positive response from my readers.
LC: Find Leah’s book trailer and website here.

LC: Cossette is told from an intimate viewpoint of a young girl. How did this present challenges to your prose? How did you overcome those challenges?
LG: The language I chose to use while writing Cosette’s Tribe was a challenge. I had to “Be the kid” in order to write the kid. I kept things simple using the pure language of childhood when creating metaphors and expressions. Sometimes it became very difficult when describing scenes of a sexual nature, requiring me to enter and feel the darkness of a situation anew.
Writing Cosette’s Tribe was a work of bravery requiring me to look at my childhood with both eyes open. This is how I discovered the light in my childhood, which was there all along. I just never noticed it because of the trauma I endured. It was the surprise of seeing this happy light that kept me writing, and it is this same generous light that I hope to share with my readers.

LC: Describe your writing space.
LG: My writing space is wherever I can open my laptop and type. I wrote most of Cosette’s Tribe on an ancient IBM laptop facing a blank wall at work. Today, I write from half a tiny booth in my kitchen. My husband Mike uses the other half to run his online business. Our booth is the only writing space in the 350 square-foot trailer that we share with Duchess, our tiny dog. I also do my artwork from the booth. Virginia Woolfe would be appalled.

Job at Penguin Young Readers #nowhiring

Penguin Young Readers Group is seeking a Marketing Manager, reporting to the Director of Marketing for Young Adult and Middle Grade. This is an exciting opportunity to join an innovative and collaborative team to strategize and execute integrated marketing campaigns across a variety of Young Adult and Middle Grade titles.
Click here for details.

World Lit Snark #books #novels

Well, trolls come in every shape, yes?
Recently I posted about the lack of leading roles (or even fully formed roles) for women, GLBTQ, and ethnic characters (link here). When the post was shared on a world literature discussion board, the response was…interesting.
The discussion that ensued pointed out that I couldn’t possibly be referring to world lit because, well, the characters came from around the world. And of course, the original post “must” be referring to American lit, because again, world lit springs from beyond those borders.
But…not true.
World Lit is defined broadly as any work that circulates beyond the borders of its home nation. Therefore any American work that is sold in any other country is defined as world lit. So strike one.
More importantly, the post was about diversity in literature. So any book that does not integrate diverse characters fails the test whether it circulates beyond the boundaries of its own country or not. Strike two.
Finally, discussions should be enlightening, debate should be firm but polite. Not snarky and ego-puffed and snobby. Strike three.
The troll is out.

Job at Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) #nowhiring

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) seeks a Vendor Relations Manager responsible for managing the day-to-day relationships with the association’s national vendor accounts with the goal of optimizing advertising and sponsorship sales.
Click here for details.

Publishing Job at United Methodist Publishing #nowhiring

United Methodist Publishing House
The Sales Manager – Inside Sales & Customer Service is responsible for selling Abingdon Press products via outbound phone and/or e-mail campaigns to Trade customers and managing the Abingdon Press customer service team. The incumbent works cross functionally with UMPH departments to effectively and efficiently implement all customer service processes and relationships for Trade sales, working especially with the Director of Trade Sales for Abingdon Press. The incumbent is responsible for overseeing all timely and accurate communication to meet the expectations of each customer. The incumbent provides liaison support for Abingdon Press Trade Sales with distribution and accounting communication regarding sales operations and logistics needs on a regular basis. The incumbent also manages the Trade Customer Service team. Additionally, the incumbent develops and implements a strategy to increase sales through CBA (independent Christian bookstores), academic, and international customers via inbound and outbound sales calls.
Click here for details.

Book Review: Cosette’s Tribe by Leah Griffith #reviews #literature

I was the final judge for a novel contest the year this manuscript came in to be judged. Right from the first reading, I knew this book was going to be among the top finalists. When it came time to sort through the top ten, then the top five, and finally to rank the top four entries in order, Cosette’s Tribe rose straight to the top.
It was truly an honor to be able to read this work. The literary magazine that administers the prize still to this day talks about the author and this, her first novel. Don’t miss this…and I’m waiting for the author’s next book!
5 stars!

Publishing Job at Sterling #nowhiring

Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, is seeking an Editor to work within its Hearst Editorial department. We are seeking a creative, innovative, and passionate, yet responsible risk taker who is looking to make an impact within the department as well as the organization. We require excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
Click here for details.

Publishing Job at Timber Press #nowhiring

Timber Press is a publisher located in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to share the wonders of the natural world by publishing books from experts in the fields of gardening, horticulture, and natural history.
Click here for details.

What’s Hot in Fantasy #fantasy #novel

This week I posted about some interesting results of the annual What Kids are Reading report in dystopian fiction. The report also showed some interesting trends in other fantasy areas among young readers in the UK.
Cassandra Clare had one book in the top 20 last year. This year her showing counted five titles among secondary-school children’s most popular books. What’s all the fuss about? Her urban fantasy Mortal Instruments series, in which human-angel hybrids walk the earth.
In primary schools, the most popular title was David Walliams’s Demon Dentist.
In that same category Liz Pichon took second place with Everything’s Amazing (Sort of), part of a comic series.
And of course no list would be complete without something from JK Rowling. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets took third place.
The report found that UK pupils’ most popular reads were either heavily dystopian fantasies or “irreverent, larger than life anti-hero comedies” like the Wimpy Kid stories and Dahl’s The Twits .
Of special note was that while the overall top 20 split equally between comedy and fantasy, by secondary school the most popular were nearly exclusively darker conflicts from an epic fantasy genre.
The report’s author, Keith Topping, is a professor of educational and social research at Dundee University. He noted a “sharp contrast” in the difficulty of books read by primary and secondary pupils.
“Primary-school pupils, particularly in years one to five, show a strong preference for challenging books that are significantly beyond their natural reading age,” he said.
But “we then see a marked difference in year seven, where favoured books are no longer above chronological age, but six months below it and in ensuing years the difficulty of books plateaus or declines,” he added.
So don’t be afraid to challenge younger readers.

Job at Sterling Publishing #nowhiring

Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, is seeking an Editor to work within its Hearst Editorial department. We are seeking a creative, innovative, and passionate, yet responsible risk taker who is looking to make an impact within the department as well as the organization. We require excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
Click here for details.

Publishing Job at Living Well #nowhiring

Laissez Faire’s Living Well is seeking a Health Division Publisher – someone who is a marketer, writer and experienced direct response professional in the publishing business to become the head of a health group and grow a new business. The ideal candidate will be an IDEAS driven marketer and possess skills necessary to lead a team and push marketing and editorial ideas into the marketplace in a direct response environment.
Click here for details.

Publishing Job at Oxford University Press #nowhiring

Oxford University Press is looking for a Senior Publicist to handle all aspects of publicity for Oxford University Press’s Trade & Impact titles, Journal articles, and Online products. Senior Publicist will also be responsible for coordinating multi-city author tours, creating and executing publicity campaigns, and securing national/regional/local publicity. Publicist will be in direct contact with authors and media regarding publicity.
Click here for details.

Dystopian is Not Dead!

Oh, woe, dystopian is dead. How often have I heard that lately, and how wrong is it?
The annual What Kids Are Reading report found that dystopian fantasy and larger-than-life comedies dominate among young readers in the UK.
It notes that JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels, which almost always rose to the top of the annual lineup, has been replaced by a deluge of dark dystopias and urban fantasies.
The report studies the reading habits of half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools. After six years of running the survey, this is the first time Tolkien’s titles haven’t featured in the top 10 places.
The most popular title for this year’s survey was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, followed by two (wait for it) dystopian stories: Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire and Veronica Roth’s Divergent.
Dystopia is alive and well…OK, perhaps oppressed and in need of an uprising, but well enough, shall we say.
And what plays overseas, I’ve found, often plays well with American readers.

Another Job at Division of Rowman & Littlefield

Globe Pequot, located in Guilford, Connecticut, a trade division of Rowman & Littlefield is seeking an entry-level Assistant Editor for its imprint. This position will provide editorial and administrative support to the publisher and acquiring editors of non-fiction trade titles to the Editorial department.
Click here for details.

Book Review: The Bone People by Keri Hulme

After I got used to how the author handled the dialog and internal monolog, I really fell into the world she’d created. I was as fascinated by the boy as the primary character. I felt like I was there, in that world, looking through the protagonist’s eyes. This is a real triumph for any author. I WILL be reading more by Hulme!
5 stars!
For more fiction that deals with indigenous people, check out Message Stick, winner of two national awards.