Monday, February 01, 2010


Elisa Lorello, author of Ordinary World, discusses genres

Author Blog Tour & Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Elisa Lorello grew up on Long Island, NY as the baby to six older siblings. Growing up during the '80s, Elisa covered her walls with Duran Duran posters and used lots of hairspray. She explored many passions, including drawing, tennis, and music, but in her early 20's, exercised her gossiping skills while working as a manicurist.

In 1995, Elisa left Long Island to attend the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for both her bachelor and master's degrees. In 2000, as part of her graduate education in Professional Writing, she became a teaching associate, and met two professors of rhetoric and composition who took her under their wings. This union of teaching, rhetoric, and writing ultimately became Elisa's calling, and remains so to this day. She now lives in North Carolina where she teaches academic writing at North Carolina State.

In 2004, Elisa began her first novel, Faking It. Since then, Elisa has written a sequel, Ordinary World, and is currently co-writing a third novel with a friend and former student. That is, when she can tear herself away from her favorite form of entertainment--Facebook.

Find our more about Elisa by visiting her websites:
Elisa's website:
Elisa's blog: I'll Have What She's Having
Facebook: Faking It Fans

Ordinary World

By Elisa Lorello

Andi Vanzant had everything she wanted--a husband, a home, a job she loved, a cat named Donny Most. Then a drunk college student plowed into her husband's car and she lost everything...except the cat.

Andi's faced with a nightmare world and the work of trying to transform it into an ordinary world. She's certain that life will never be ordinary again but begins to find her way with the help of an unlikely support group that spans the world--a widowed mother on Long Island, a supportive boss in Massachusetts, an old boyfriend in Italy, and a fortune telling housewife in Peru.

Ordinary World is the story of a woman accepting losses and embracing gifts. To some degree it is the story every woman fears and every woman must some day live.

Genre: Chick Lit/Women's Fiction
Ordinary World is available in both print and Kindle versions.

Video (below): Elisa reading an excerpt from Ordinary World at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina. I had to include this video clip because Elisa is fantastic! You'll definitely want to read her book after hearing this. Enjoy!

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a print copy of Elisa Lorello's book, Ordinary World, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome, Elisa! Ordinary World, the sequel to Faking It, has a female protagonist and touches of romance, but also has more serious issues like the loss of a partner. From my point of view, it could fall under several categories: romance, chick lit, women's fiction, literary fiction. But what do I know! If I headed to my local bookstore under what category would I find Ordinary World?

Great question. An agent or editor or even marketing director of a publishing company might tell you otherwise, but I categorize Ordinary World as women's fiction. Although it's a sequel to a romantic comedy, the characters and story are a bit more complex and contain more depth. The protagonist is dealing with issues of loss and relationships, not only with men but also her mother, and trying to reclaim her authentic self. And yet, by far one of the most touching responses I've received was from a widower who really related to Andi's stages of grief.

WOW: The narrowness of some categories confuses me. For instance, what differentiates women's fiction from chick lit?

I'm going to quote directly from (a great site for writers seeking an agent!): "Chick lit often has light-hearted, amusing tales of dating woes, career foibles, and personal antics as they relate to the problems of average female 20- & 30-somethings: finding the right career, the right man, and the right attitude. The stories are usually fun, down-to-earth, quirky, and entertaining--a good beach read... Like chick lit, women's fiction often explores similar themes related to women's struggles with men, their friends and family, or their own sense of self. Unlike chick lit, women's fiction often delves into deeper, more serious conflicts and utilizes a more poetic literary writing style."

Many of my readers characterize
Faking It as a beach read, and Ordinary World as something you curl up on the couch with, along with a cup of tea or hot cocoa. Others call Faking It "chick lit with oomph." Moreover, I have quite a large male readership for both books.

(An independent bookstore in Raleigh, NC shelves Faking It in Southern Fiction because they consider me a local author--makes me laugh, however, since Andi is such a New Yorker!)

[Note: Elisa is originally from New York City, as is her main character Andi. However, Elisa recently moved to North Carolina for work.]

WOW: Do you feel that categories are perceived differently by critics and readers?

Elisa: There's always been a divide between literary fiction and popular fiction. Some readers/writers of literary fiction look down on popular fiction as being too formulaic or simplified, while some popular fiction readers/writers think literary fiction is too snobby or elitist. I've read forums where readers call popular authors like John Grisham and Stephen King "hacks," and Jennifer Weiner is often hailed as the Queen of Chick Lit. And yet, these writers are quite talented and have a solid grasp of their genre. Their prosaic styles are quite different from more literary writers like Theodore Sturgeon, but I don't think it's fair to call one better than another.

I think chick lit definitely receives less respect than women's fiction because it's seen as more shallow, but I don't think it has to be the rule. In Faking It, Andi definitely spends a lot of time fixating on who's wearing what and is constantly reacting to Devin in very physical ways, but there's something else happening under the surface. She's coming to terms with who she really is and making peace with it. She makes peace with her body, her sexuality, and her way of relating to men.

WOW: From a writer's viewpoint, are very specific categories a good or bad thing?

Elisa: The categories seem to be getting narrower. The genre of romance can be broken down into historical romance, paranormal romance, mystery romance, Christian romance, and gay romance, to name a few. On one hand, it makes it easier to query an agent and have a specific category to describe your work. It's also easy for the average consumer to target his/her interests. On the other hand, I think it's getting to the point where it's so specific that an author or an agent may have difficulty determining where the work fits, and that could hinder the ability to sell it.

Faking It topped three different best-seller lists in Amazon's Kindle Store: Humor; Love, Sex & Marriage; and Contemporary Romance. However, if you'll look at what else is on the humor list, for example, you might be surprised to find it there.
Ordinary World is also topping the Contemporary Romance list.

WOW: Sounds like the publishing gods that fit books into slots can't agree about your novels. What would you call Ordinary World?

Elisa: I call it a "dramedy," even though Barnes & Noble doesn't have that section in their stores! The term is usually reserved for film or television (M*A*S*H* or The West Wing, for example), but I think it applies to Ordinary World. Despite the storyline being so much about loss, there's till quite a bit of humor in the novel. Even the opening chapter has comically absurd images, although the protagonist is really suffering.

WOW: What types of books do you read?

Elisa: If you were to ask me to name the primary genre of books that I read, I don't think I could give you just one. My favorite writers range from Richard Russo to Bill Bryson to David Sedaris to Marian Keyes to Jennifer Weiner to Nora Ephron to Aaron Sorkin. Bill Bryson is known as a travel writer, but his books are hilarious. Sedaris is primarily nonfiction. Aaron Sorkin is a playwright, first and foremost, and doesn't write books. Nora Ephron was a journalist before she wrote screenplays. What these writers/authors have in common is a sense of language, wit, humor, timing, story, description, and character. Their characters are smart, as are they. Every time I read (or watch) something that these authors have written, I think, I wish I'd thought of that! and I get motivated to work on my own story. Better still is when I read something from Jennifer Weiner, for example, and notice that I did, in fact, think of something similar!

WOW: As writers, should we be considering these pesky categories as we write? I've read that if, as an author, you can't point exactly to where your book should be shelved in a bookstore you need to refine your subject. Do you agree?

Elisa: Yes and no. I think the first obligation you have as a writer is to write the best story you can, and write it well. The last thing on my mind while drafting both Faking It and Ordinary World was where it was going to be shelved. Andi's story needed to be told. However, it's very important to get reader feedback before you start querying agents or independently publish, and list to agents' feedback if they give you any. That will help you refine your writing, which will ultimately help you with genre placement.

I worried that Ordinary World was too different from Faking It in terms of style and tone, but so far it hasn't been a problem.

WOW: What's coming up next for you? And, in keeping with today's theme--under what category will we find your new book?

Elisa: My next novel is called Why I Love Singlehood and it's about a coffee shop owner who blogs about the benefits of living single--all while trying to get a date. I'm co-writing it with a dear friend and we're having a blast with it. We would definitely call it a romantic comedy--more chick lit with oomph!

WOW: That sounds fun! Thank you, Elisa, for chatting with us today, and for sharing your wisdom on genres. You really helped clarify the puzzle of book categories. :)

Want to join Elisa on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

February 1, 2010 Monday
Elisa will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Elisa's novel!

February 2, 2010 Tuesday
What makes you a book lover? Today novelist Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, shares her thoughts on books and reading in the "Because of a Book" feature on Write for a Reader.

February 4, 2010 Thursday
What do you collect? Share your hunting and gathering instincts with Elisa Lorello, a novelist who gave the characters in her novels Faking It and Ordinary World collections of art and...bobbleheads!

February 5, 2010 Friday
The blogosphere is alive with opinions about e-books. Good, bad, or ugly? Elisa Lorello, who is releasing her second novel in both print and e-book, shares her opinions about Kindle and print books with Susan Johnston today. What are your thoughts on e-books?

February 8, 2010 Monday
Don't you just love book reviews? Stop by Fiona Ingram's blog today for her take on Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World.

February 9, 2010 Tuesday
Could you bow to another's muse? Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, writes today about her experience collaborating on her third book with a former student. Readers also have a chance to win a copy of her latest novel--print or e-book--winner's choice!

February 10, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello shares her tips on leaving the humdrum behind and making your next bookstore reading fun, fun, fun! Elisa's latest novel Ordinary World is the sequel to her debut novel Faking It.

February 12, 2010 Friday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing on "How to Mix Comedy with Grief" at Writer Inspired today--something she's done in her latest book Ordinary World. Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.

February 15, 2010 Monday
Elisa Lorello will be visiting Fresh Fiction for a surprise guest post! Stop by today for a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.

February 16, 2010 Tuesday
The interesting people from Elisa Lorello's debut novel Faking It have returned in Ordinary World. Elisa talks about "The Evolution of Character" in today's post. You also have a chance to win a copy of Ordinary World.

February 17, 2010 Wednesday
Today novelist Elisa Lorello writes about e-books and print books--can they co-exist? Stop by to tell us what you think!

February 18, 2010 Thursday
Get a peek into the world of novelist Elisa Lorello with an interview by Cathy Stucker.

February 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by for reviews of Elisa Lorello's Faking It and the sequel Ordinary World.

February 22, 2010 Monday
Novelist Elisa Lorello will be writing about e-books and, in celebration of blog host Michelle Fabio finally getting on the e-book bandwagon, Elisa will be giving away an e-book of Ordinary World and one of Faking It.

February 24, 2010 Wednesday
Elisa Lorello calls her latest novel Ordinary World a 'dramedy'. Find out why she thinks a combination of comedy and grief can make a book stronger. Also, don't miss the last chance to win a copy of Ordinary World! Elisa's giving away a print and e-book copy and an e-book or her debut novel Faking It.

February 26, 2010 Friday
Elisa Lorello, author of Faking It and Ordinary World, guests posts about how characters go from wisps of idea to full fledged people. And this is your last chance...drumroll win an e-copy of Ordinary World. This is Elisa's last stop. What fun we've had!

To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a signed copy of Elisa Lorello's novel Ordinary World! (In the print version.) And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

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Monday, March 23, 2009


Sybil Baker, Author of The Life Plan, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Sybil Baker spent twelve years teaching in South Korea prior to accepting a position as an assistant professor of English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga after earning her MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. During her extensive travels throughout Asia, she became increasingly interested in the allure and alienation of American travelers and expatriates, and this has heavily influenced her writing. Her fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals, including Upstreet, The Bitter Oleander, Paper Street, and Alehouse. Her essay on American expatriate literature appeared in AWP's The Writer's Chronicle in September 2005.

Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.

Sybil has such a great trailer for her book, The Life Plan, that we had to share it with you here! Enjoy the trailer and the interview below, and be sure to comment to be entered in the book giveaway contest!

What would you do if your carefully planned life was falling apart?

Like many women, Kat Miller dreams of having a satisfying career, a loving family, and a house of her own. But Kat has taken things further than most, documenting her dreams in a "Life Plan," so that nothing will go wrong. Yet something has: Dan, her husband of five years. Kat suspects that Dan, recently unemployed, is spending more time in yoga class with his beautiful classmate than he is looking for a job. When Dan announces that he has enrolled in a massage course in Thailand, Kat is convinced she has to go with him to save her marriage.

From the offices of Washington, DC, to the gritty streets of Bangkok to the mountain region of Chiang Mai, from the serenity of ancient Buddhist ruins to the passion of the jungle to all-night beach parties, Kat narrates her quest to have it all, only to wonder if having it all is all there is.

Click here to read the first chapter of The Life Plan.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Sybil's book, The Life Plan, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

---------------- Interview by Joanne Stacey

WOW: Hi Sybil! We are so excited to have you join us for a blog tour for you new book The Life Plan. It is such a great book in all senses: it is funny, sad, and soul searching. How long did it take you to write The Life Plan?

Sybil: I wrote this novel when I was still living in South Korea. I started it in late 2004 and had a rough draft finished by October 2005. I worked on it off and on based on friends’ feedback and in between other projects until I submitted it to Casperian in September 2007.

WOW: I am always so interested in the writing process for successful authors. I've tried writing with an outline and writing without an outline and found that with an outline, my muse never wants to stay on track, and without one, I can't stay focused. Do you outline before you write?

Sybil: I did use a basic outline for this novel, as I'm "plot challenged." I wrote scenes and ideas on index cards. The book often deviated from the outline, especially the final third, which I rewrote after I got feedback from the editors at Casperian. I expect to deviate from outlines--they're a starting point rather than a final template.

WOW: I love the term "plot challenged!" But after reading your book, I would have never guessed that. Especially since you created such colorful characters. Do you complete full character sketches so you know what each one is like?

Sybil: Thanks! For this novel I did do character sketches of the main characters in the book. I've also met a lot of colorful people in my life and used composites of them to create my characters.

WOW: I'm sure that through your many travels you've met very interesting people to draw from! I love your main character, Kat Miller. She is someone I definitely can relate to on so many levels. How did you decide to write The Life Plan in first person as opposed to third person?

Sybil: My short stories are often darker than this novel, and I really wanted to write something with more humor in it. I thought a first person approach would allow me to create a stronger voice and use my character's sense of humor more authentically.

WOW: There definitely are some great laugh out loud moments in your book! What really drew me in though, are the rich descriptions. They are so well written, it seems it was really effortless for you to write them. Since you lived and traveled around Asia, did you have to do much research?

Sybil: I wish it had been effortless! If you read my blog from August to October you'll know how much I complained about the rewrites and edits I had to do for this novel. I rewrote this novel on many levels many times.

I've been to Thailand five or six times and used my own experience for some of the settings, but I also did a lot of research to fill in the hazy parts of my memory. I also wrote about a few places I hadn't visited, and had to do more research on those areas. I also interviewed friends who had also been to Thailand about their experiences. Research is much easier with the Internet though.

WOW: (laughs) Yes, the Internet. What would we do without it? Can you imagine going back to the system of library card catalogs and sitting in front of those huge microfiche machines, trying to find information? And, how much more difficult it would have been to find a publisher? How did you go about getting published?

Sybil: I'd just moved back to the States and had sent the manuscript out to a few agents with some nibbles and interest but no takers. I decided that instead of querying a new batch of agents I'd try a small press. I was lucky in that Casperian was one of the first small presses I queried, and they wrote back right away.

WOW: I've heard such good things about small presses. When you were looking at them, how did you decide to query Casperian Books?

Sybil: I loved Casperian's eclectic book list--they're open to a wide variety of fiction, and I liked that about them. Also, from their website they seemed well-organized and up front about their contract and what they could/could not do regarding publicity.

I've not been disappointed. It's been a joy working with Casperian and I'd recommend the press to anyone who thinks their work might mesh with their catalogue.

WOW: What a great endorsement for Casperian! Since every publisher is different, can you tell me what Casperian's publishing process is like?

Sybil: As I mentioned earlier, I talk about the different steps of the publishing process in more detail on my blog. Basically though, there is lots and lots of editing and proofreading. With Casperian the actual publishing of the book (cover design, etc.) was a collaborative effort, which I appreciated. Since then it's been marketing--setting up readings, giving out advanced review copies, blogging, etc.

WOW: I do love the cover of your book! I know some authors have no say in any of the artistic process, so I think it's wonderful that it was a collaborative effort. And speaking of marketing, how else will you promote your book?

Sybil: First, I have a great book trailer on YouTube that I'm hoping will help get the word out (see above).

Second, I'll be reading at any place that will take me! For March and April I'll be reading a lot in the Atlanta-Chattanooga-Knoxville area. I'll be in South Africa in May, but am planning on creating my own book tour for parts of June and all of July.

In addition to this blog tour, I hope to continue to host authors on my blog (, be a guest author on other blogs, and be active in the online community.

And finally, I've been very lucky to have a team helping me at little or no cost. My assistant, Katie Christie, has been a workhorse helping me plan and coordinate readings and other events. My husband, who happens to be an excellent web designer, maintains my website ( My friend Todd Bradley has his own production company and made my book trailer for free. A photographer Katie who took the author photos.

WOW: You are so together! I love the book trailer, and your blog. Best of luck to you with all your promotions! I know I enjoyed reading The Life Plan and really hope you have something new in the works so I have something to look forward to reading next.

Sybil: I'm in the final edits of a novel tentatively titled "Replay." Readers who enjoy The Life Plan will be interested in this new novel, which takes place in Washington, DC, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Los Angeles. Like The Life Plan, "Replay" has a female protagonist who is having relationship and career conflicts.

WOW: Sounds fantastic, Sybil! Maybe we'll get to see yet another book set in South Africa? Thanks a bunch for taking the time to share some insight with us as your blog tour begins. Do you have any parting gems for our WOW! readers?

Sybil: Thanks for your support of women writers by being such great readers. The best way to sell a book is by word of mouth--readers have the most power to help a book along. And if you're an aspiring writer, find your voice and keep writing.

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Want to join Sybil on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MARCH 23, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Sybil's book!

MARCH 25, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Modern Single Momma to chat about developing a life plan. Not to miss!

MARCH 30, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Bleeding Espresso to share her experiences about being an ex-pat--a subject both Sybil and blog owner Michelle Fabio have in common!

MARCH 31, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Susan Johnston's blog The Urban Muse to share her best tips for organizing your writing time. I need to read this one!

APRIL 2, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Liz Lewis' blog Write To Travel to share her tips about travel writing--a subject both are passionate about.

APRIL 3, 2009 Friday
Sybil will be stopping by Mary Jo Campbell's blog, Writer Inspired, for an exclusive interview on novel writing!

APRIL 6, 2009 Monday
Sybil will be stopping by Joanne DeMaio's blog, Whole Latte Life, to share her thoughts on developing a life plan and fitting passion into your busy life. An inspiring and important topic!

APRIL 8, 2009 Wednesday
Sybil will be stopping by Cheryl Phillips' blog, The Daily Blonde, for a surprise post and book giveaway! Be sure to stop by and comment for a chance to win a copy of Sybil's book.

APRIL 9, 2009 Thursday
Sybil will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' blog, A Mama's Rant, to share her expert writing advice on travel writing and how to get press rates!

APRIL 14, 2009 Tuesday
Sybil will be stopping by Allena Tapia's blog, GardenWall Publications, to share her expert writing advice on crafting a novel from your travels. Not to miss!

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Sybil Baker's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Sybil Baker's book, The Life Plan. Learn more about Sybil by visiting her website: and her blog, An Ex-patriate's Musings on Writing, Teaching, and Travel.

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