Book Author Circle
I finally broke down and created a new circle to organize the many book author interviews I seem to be doing. In “Book Author Circle” on the Creative Idea Gal blog, you’ll now start to see a tidy listing of my interviews with book authors and read about some great, fascinating journeys to publication – - something I’m very interested in as I approach my own road to publication for A Slice of Faith. First up in this new circle is book author Lori Verni-Fogarsi, celebrating the official launch of her latest book, Unexpecting.
Introduced by Book Author Melissa Foster
Before getting to the interview, however, I just wanted to say a few words about how I “met” Lori. It all began in late August 2012, when I became affiliated with book author and promoter Melissa Foster. Melissa invented a creative online street team of fellow authors and bloggers known as TEAM PIF (Team Pay it Forward) to spread the word about each other’s book projects. Since then, I have met a lot of fascinating and interesting book authors including Lori Verni-Fogarsi.
In early 2013, Lori put out a call looking for people to host her on a virtual blog tour to promote a book launch for her latest book, Unexpecting. Having participated once before in my first virtual book tour to promote the semi-fictional historical romance, Pegasus Falling published by the author’s loving grandson, Mike Harris, I jumped at the chance to do it again for a different book author and a totally different genre. It was fun the first time and I knew it would be fun and educational this time, too.
Meet the Well-Organized Lori Verni-Fogarsi!
As I looked through Lori’s materials, I was incredibly impressed with her level of organization and her attention to detail. Lori left no stone unturned in her exquisitely crafted “application process” for bloggers to host her on her virtual book tour. Using online Google forms and docs, Lori smartly created a set of options and questionnaires for prospective tour blog hosts to read, review, and fill out. She offered three different options and plenty of supporting materials to help bloggers easily promote Unexpecting. Wow, what a learning experience that was!
And before you knew it, I was getting invited to Lori’s online parties and even a real party in North Carolina near where she lives. Talk about a creative book marketer in her own right! Quite the gal to learn from!
Questions for Lori
Of course, I couldn’t gloss over the title of today’s blog post, now could I? Can you guess the reason why I called today’s blog post “Q is for Questions with Author Lori Verni-Fogarsi”? Here’s a hint. This also explains the reason why I phrased the following author questions in an alphabetical format. (wink)
The Creative Idea Gal interview of Lori Verni-Fogarsi’s book, Unexpecting, is one of many dedicated to promoting Lori’s book. Please visit Lori’s author website or her Facebook page for full details about the book and a glimpse into Lori’s supportive set of blog tour hosts. Enjoy!
(1) A is for Artistic Vision - How did you determine the artistic vision for Unexpecting?
I write from the heart, with the goal of making people feel; whether those feelings might be commiseration, laughter, fear, or whatever bubbles up for that reader.
(2) B is for Brand - What is your brand? How does Unexpecting fit into your brand?
“Find Yourself… In a Good Book” is my slogan/brand. Even with fiction, I believe people can learn about themselves, their feelings, and even potentially experience personal growth from the “experiences” of the characters. At the very least, the entertainment factor of separating from the real world when reading a book can help people become more centered and re-energized.
(3) C is for Characters - Describe some character quirks and flaws of each character in Unexpecting.
Shelley, the main character, is definitely Type A and as a result, sometimes struggles with feelings of guilt and frustration that I think are very common for most moms. She’s also a shoot-from-the-hip mom who relates to her teens less traditionally than most.
David, her husband, as is typical of many men, struggles with being the head of this huge, dynamic, ever-changing family, and his love for Shelley is so strong that it causes him angst that gets out of control at one crucial point in the story.
Alexandra (and the rest of the teens) are typical in that they’re hormonal and trying to figure out their own ways in life, although later in the story, Alexandra’s way of handling things is every parent’s worst nightmare.
Grace, the teen daughter who is still in high school, struggles with having a “competitor” (Alexandra) and a newborn move into her home and school life.
Tiny, the dog, is just a big, sweet goofball. He can’t help it that his slime gets on everything! And he just loves his companion, Frick, their elderly cat.
(4) D is for Dilemma - What is the central dilemma in Unexpecting?
Shelley and David are ready to move on with their lives as parents of adult kids. They loved raising their kids but have no urge to begin again “from scratch,” raising another baby. Yet when Alexandra appears on the scene—seventeen and pregnant, and with nowhere else to go—they feel an ethical, moral, and emotional obligation to help her raise the baby and give him the best possible start in life.
(5) E is for Everyone - There is a rating on some movies and games that means it’s for everyone. If you were to rate your book, what rating would it receive? Is it E for everyone? Why or why not?
No and yes. There is very little content in the book that I think would be considered objectionable. There is a little bit of foul language here and there, and any scenes involving sexual relations are not described in detail. Although it’s contemporary women’s fiction, I do think teens would enjoy it too. I wouldn’t say “E for Everyone” because I think the vocabulary and storyline would not be in line with, let’s say, a fourth-grader’s reading level or interest, and although the romantic scenes are not graphic, they don’t need to be reading books that contain romance at that age.
(6) F is for Family - In today’s society, the definition of family is no longer a nucleus of mom, dad, and child. Unexpecting features a blended family. Why did you choose to feature a blended family in your story?
Being the mom of a blended family myself, I’ve experienced so many things that were not what I’d initially expected. Strangely, although we’re in a world where blended families have become extremely common, there is still a sense of everyone feeling like it “should be” like The Brady Bunch, which it is not. I hope that Unexpecting depicts more of a realistic view that may make many readers feel more okay with the fact that their blended family is not “perfect” either.
(7) G is for Girls - It seems that the storyline of Unexpecting rides on there being girls as the central characters. How different would Unexpecting have turned out if the central characters were boys?
Other than the main character, I don’t think the majority of central characters are girls. There are several dilemmas surrounding one of the sons, Michael, and a big terrible incident with the husband, David.
(8) H is for Humor - The description of Unexpecting lists humor as one of its features. How did you incorporate humor within the plot?
Mostly with the ironies that are internal thoughts of the main character, Shelley, but also by having the narrator possess some wryness in storytelling personality.
(9) I is for Inspiration - What was your inspiration for writing Unexpecting?
In real life, my husband and I have often discussed how it would affect our lives (aside from our kids’) if one of our children were to have a child before they’re ready to take care of them on their own. I thought, “How would I really feel if that happened? What would I really do? How would other people feel or handle it that might be the same or different than I?” Writing this book involved a lot of personal introspection on my part, as well as a lot of research and interviewing of others.
(10) J is for Juxtaposition - Juxtaposition is a literary technique used to compare or contrast two strong elements. Does Unexpecting contain any instances of juxtaposition?
There is a vast contrast between the mom/grandma, Shelley’s perspective on how much she takes care of the baby, versus the teen mom, Alexandra’s opinion of the situation. I also think the title, Unexpecting, manages to juxtapose two meanings into one word.
(11) K is for Kids - How many kids are in Unexpecting? The description of the book is a little confusing; it lists only one girl, although the first line explains that the children of the main characters are almost off to college.
There are five teens/twenty-somethings and one baby:
Michael, the oldest, is getting his master’s at Appalachian and just comes home to visit (until later in the book)
Russell is away at Colorado State and comes home on holidays and in summer
Rose lives on campus at UNC Chapel Hill (until later in the story) but comes home on breaks and in summer
Grace lives at home full-time and is still in high school
Alexandra, the daughter they never knew about, shows up at their door pregnant is still in high school
Patrick is the baby Alexandra gives birth to
(12) L is for Live Party - According to your website, you were scheduled to have a live party in North Carolina yesterday on April 18. That is awesome! How did that come about?
I’m fortunate to have a lot of local fans as well as book clubs and other groups that enjoy my books. The launch party is a way for me to show them a good time, and for us to all celebrate my new book together! Plus, what better excuse to have a big party?
(13) M is for Melissa Foster - Melissa Foster is a gal who is prominent in the book promotion industry. Tell me about your relationship with Melissa and how she has helped you promote and market Unexpecting.
I’ve gotten to know Melissa more in the past year or so. I’ve enjoyed being a part of her online communities, as well as reading her books! I think she has a good grasp on effective book marketing and provides many opportunities for authors to network together.
(14) N is for Next - You are an accomplished book author, having written several books before Unexpecting. What’s next on the horizon after Unexpecting? Any new book projects in the works?
I am struggling with what I want to work on next and may just go ahead and work on them both at once instead of deciding. There will be another novel, which will explore a man’s viewpoint on raising a family, trying to do it all, being the family provider, tee-ball coach, garbage man, lawn guy, etc. Similar to Momnesia, but from a man’s point of view. I also have an idea for a nonfiction book for teens and twenty-somethings called “The Party Animal’s Guide to Beginner Party Animalism.” It will be a book of tips on how to have fun without ruining your life, redefining what it means to be a “party animal” in the first place, etc.
(15) O is for Obstacles - Every writer faces obstacles in the writing process. What are some of the writing obstacles you had and how did you get over them?
The two major obstacles I faced with this book were both emotional. One was exploring how I would feel if I were Shelley—faced with raising another baby at that point in my life—and contrasting with how others might feel, etc. The other was the big terrible incident with David. It was difficult to write and I actually had to set the manuscript aside for about three weeks while I worked through it.
(16) P is for Paperback vs. Ebook - There is such an uproar over the types of books that people want to write or buy. Some people advocate strongly for e-books while others prefer paperbacks. What is your position on this subject?
I’m a cross between a new-age gal and an old-fashioned gal. I think e-books are more widely read by the general public at this point, but I also feel that every book should also be available as a physical book. As for my position, it doesn’t matter to me which format people read, I’m just glad that they’re reading my books (and still reading books in general)!
(17) Q is for Quiet Time - In the ideal world, writers get some sort of quiet time to complete writing projects. For those who have children, like you and me, quiet time is not always possible. How did you manage writing your book? Lots of quiet time or just a little bit?
I get most of my writing done during the day when the kids are at school, but I do usually get to a point where a couple of solid, uninterrupted days would really be valuable. For each book, I probably go away for about two writing weekends at our second home on Lake Gaston, either by myself or with one other friend who is a writer and just… write!
(18) R is for Really Awesome Blog Tour - I have never seen a more organized blog tour than yours! Therefore, I classify it as a “really awesome blog tour.” How did you manage to get so many people involved in your project? Can you share some of your secrets?
Thank you! I’m so excited and I’m feeling like the blog tour is really awesome too! I think there are three main reasons I was able to entice so many quality bloggers to participate:
1. I’ve developed and maintained mutually supportive relationships with many bloggers and authors over the past several years.
2. Because this is my third book and my others have received great reviews, I think people are confident working with me because I’m a reputable, established author. (It feels so good to be able to say that after all these years!)
3. I made it really, really easy for them! There was one page where everyone could register to participate and let me know what they choose to do (interview, book review, etc.) All of the resources are provided online, in one place, so they don’t have to hunt me down for each book cover image, etc. It was also easier for me to organize everything this way, as I could simply e-mail or ship the books to the people using my spreadsheet from their signup forms, set up their listing on the blog tour page, etc. The only emails that had to go back and forth were for the interviews themselves. I think (and hope) most people found this very convenient!
(19) S is for Southern - Do you consider yourself to be a southern writer? Why or why not?
That question is funnier than you might realize! Although I’ve lived in North Carolina for the past nine years, I was born and raised in New York City. I could live here a hundred years and still never be considered “Southern!” (Especially not with my New Yawk accent!) With that said, I do think that my experience living in North Carolina enables me to impart certain Southern aspects (such as the character, Donna Lee from the wedding dress store in “Unexpecting”) with authenticity.
(20) T is for Time - How much time did you spend working on Unexpecting? Was this a quick writing project or did you spend a considerable amount of time developing the characters and their dialogue?
It took me about sixteen months in total to write Unexpecting from start to finish. This does not include final editing, but does include me rewriting the entire book in the third person after having already written the entire manuscript in the first person, then changing my mind!
(21) U is for Unique - The premise of Unexpecting is unique. How did you develop this unique idea for writing Unexpecting?
I’m a very tell-it-like-it-is person and I think that’s reflected in my stories. I often share perspectives and feelings that most people barely dare think in the privacy of their own minds, never mind speak out loud! It is my hope that reading my book/s helps people feel like it’s okay to feel however you feel; that not everything in life is always going to be like it “should be” (in the Invisible Rule Book), and that’s okay.
(22) V is for Victory - I’m sure you must sense a feeling of accomplishment or victory after completing Unexpecting. How is this victory different than previous victories?
You’re right! It is very different. When I wrote my first book, the nonfiction, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs I didn’t worry much about whether I was perceived as a reputable author, because I was already recognized and respected as an expert in my field of dog training.
With my first novel, Momnesia, I found that, as a relatively unknown author, there was a sense of, “Who the heck are you and why should we read your book?” (Whether real or imagined in my own mind.) Now, after receiving recognition in two awards for Momnesia and many great reviews, I think I’ve become more known and trusted in the literary community. I feel more comfortable and I think others feel more comfortable with me.
(23) W is for Word Choice - Your word choice for using the word “unexpecting” as the title of your book is interesting. How did you come up with this unusual word choice?
I feel like “unexpecting” sums up the story in one word. I like the juxtaposition it imparts, in being both about not expecting something to happen, and not being expecting in the sense of having a baby.
(24) X is for XOXO - Your book description mentions that love is part of the storyline. How does XOXO fit in with so many dilemmas?
There are two main types of love in Unexpecting. One is family love… how one may do things, make sacrifices for, or having feelings for their family that they never thought they would. The other is romantic love, between Shelley and David, the struggles in their marriage and how they work through them.
(25) Y is for YA - YA or Young Adult is a popular category to describe a type of book that is written for a young adult audience. Is Unexpecting categorized as YA? If not, what is the category?
It is categorized as contemporary women’s fiction, but I do think many YA readers will enjoy it too, just like The Hunger Games is YA but many adults enjoy reading it. Although I can only dream it will become as popular as The Hunger Games!
(26) Z is for Zenith - Does Unexpecting offer a zenith or central theme? If so, what is it?
The central theme is that however you feel, you feel, and that’s okay. We don’t have to try to make ourselves feel how we think we “should,” and it wouldn’t work anyway.