Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been a freelance writer, journalist, columnist, and seminar speaker for more than fifteen years. Momnesia is her first novel, and she is also the author of the nonfiction book Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs.
When did you start writing professionally?
My professional career in writing started off in an unusual way! In 1993, I opened my first business--a dog training school. I decided to start a monthly newsletter to send to clients, vets, groomers, etc. I was pleasantly surprised when shortly after, magazines started contacting me for writing assignments. At first, I was asked to write only about dog behavior, but then things progressed to include small business marketing, parenting, and eventually fiction, as people enjoyed my "writing voice" that was evident, even in my nonfiction work.
My career has progressed over the years to include working as a journalist and newspaper columnist, seminar speaker, small business consultant, and more! My first book, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs, was published in 2005.
Why do you write women's fiction?
There are so many life issues that are specific to women; many of which we tend to feel "alone" about. I think there is incredible pressure on women (some of which we put on ourselves), to be "perfect." Perfect mothers, perfect career women, perfect runners of our households, perfect daughters, wives, neighbors, etc. One of the things I personally enjoy when I read women's fiction is the sense of being understood; not feeling like I'm the only one who feels a certain way.
My goal in writing women's fiction is to put a humorous, yet realistic and heartfelt twist on the issues we face. I enjoy putting emotions into words about things most of us barely dare think, even in the privacy of our minds! Presenting it with a certain level of candid humor helps bring even the more dire emotions into perspective.
How did you get your novel published? Tell us about your journey to publication.
I began by following the traditional route: querying agents. I received a lot of great feedback including many requests for the full manuscript, and numerous heartfelt personal letters from top agents saying that I had strong writing and they loved my novel, but due to changes in the industry they simply couldn't take on another project. Even their referrals to other agents yielded the same results.
After a long and frustrating year of querying, I was reading an article in Writer's Digest Magazine. It was called something like "50 Things Authors Must Do For Their Book to Be Successful." It included obvious things like social networking and blog posting, but also included things like personally phoning and visiting bookstores to try and get events scheduled, booking and paying for your own travel, advertising in trade publications, etc. I remember feeling shocked, and saying to myself, "Remind me again... why would I pay an agent and a publisher to produce my book and receive lower per-book royalties if I still have to do and pay all this?"
Having been self-employed my entire life and having a strong business marketing background, I realized that perhaps going the traditional route wasn't right for me, considering the new way the industry works. However, I didn't want to self-publish, as there is a sea of self-published authors out there whose work is not professionally edited, and I didn't want to be a part of that crowd either.
My solution? I opened my own publishing company, Brickstone Publishing. I set up the entire business correctly as a professional micro-press, hired a professional editor to edit Momnesia, commissioned an artist to custom-paint the cover art, and hired a professional graphic designer to make the rest of the cover perfect. Meanwhile, I studied the publishing industry and learned all I needed to know to execute a professional book launch, from ISBN to ARCs and beyond.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
Generally, they come from wildly embellished versions of my own experiences, or those of my friends. I also work from imagination: What would it be like if such-and-such happened? For example, my next novel is about a couple of almost-empty-nesters. Their combined family of four kids are just about all off to college and they've just ordered new, white furniture when a pregnant teenage girl shows up on their doorstep and announces she's the daughter they never knew they had! (There is a first chapter preview of my next book at the end of Momnesia!)
What is the most challenging part about being a writer? What is the most rewarding?
Without question there are two things I find the most challenging. One is the revising of the manuscript. Definitely not what I consider the fun part of being a writer, but certainly one I understand is necessary in order to turn out top work. The other? Not worrying about the fact that people assume everything they read in my books is a thinly veiled accounting of my own personal life!
The most rewarding is when people--actual strangers!--buy my book and love it. It's one thing for your mother or best friend to read your book and love it, but receiving five star reviews from total strangers? It's a charge to say the least!
Why should people buy your book?
My hope is for readers to buy my book for the same reasons I buy books: Because you enjoy escaping into some other person's world for a time. Because you want to laugh, cry, feel understood, feel better or worse about your own life. To FEEL, I guess, in general.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Yes. Three main things. 1) Just write your book. Don't worry about what you're going to do with it later; it can never be published if you still haven't written it! 2) Make sure it's professionally edited. Even though I've actually worked as an editor and proofreader on other people's work, I still had a professional, impartial editor go over my book, and it's important! 3) Be patient: If your goal is to have your book be successful, don't expect it to be a project that takes only a few months.
Thanks for answering our questions, Lori!
To be entered to win a copy of Momnesia, please leave a comment. The winner will be randomly chosen on March 29th.