About the book:Shelley and David are a couple of almost-empty-nesters whose kids are just about all off to college. They've just ordered white furniture and are planning the vacation they've waited their entire lives to take.
Their lives are catapulted in a completely different direction when Alexandra, seventeen and pregnant, shows up at their door and announces that she’s the daughter they never knew they had!
Shelley feels like she no longer fits in anywhere and to top it off, having two teenaged girls suddenly plunged into being sisters and school mates is not exactly warm and fuzzy. When Alexandra's behavior becomes erratic, the couple is faced with even tougher decisions to make.
Interview with Lori Verni-Fogarsi
Lori, Unexpecting isn't your first book. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Unexpecting is my third book. I’ve also written the novel, Momnesia, which has won two awards, and Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs, which continues to be one of the most highly recommended in its genre since 2005.
My writing career started in an unusual way: with my Best Paw Forward newsletter, back in 1995 when I owned a dog training school! I was surprised when I began receiving writing requests from other magazines and newspapers, and things just sort of took off from there!
Do you have another job outside of writing?
In addition to being an author, I also offer small business consulting on a case-by-case basis. I build websites, design branding, establish social media connections, and coordinate both in person and online events for small businesses. I occasionally teach seminars at colleges or large conferences on Creative Marketing Outside the Box.
Is that all? You slacker! What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants, or let your characters tell you what to write?
I come up with the idea for the story, then just write it. I don’t worry about formatting or editing at first. Often, the story takes turns that are different than what I’d anticipated. Then, after the whole book is finished, I create an outline of what I’ve already done, and search for things that need to be removed, expanded upon, reorganized, etc.
Sophie’s choice: Do you have a favorite of your characters?
I’m really very fond of Tiny, the dog in Unexpecting. I just love the way he’s a big, snuggly goofball! He even has his own page: www.LoriTheAuthor.com/Tiny.
What a great idea. I'll have to tell Ezzie about that. What would your main character say about you?
“Holy crap! That biatch is even more Type A than I am!”
LOL. I like writing characters who do and say things I never would, as well as characters who do and say things I wish I could. Do you have characters who fit into one of those categories?
Goodness! That question sounds like how I would answer an interview question! In both Momnesia and Unexpecting, the main character explores and voices emotions that many people feel, but barely dare think about in the privacy of their own minds, never mind speak out loud!
Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
I absolutely love the scene where Claire shows up at the house to talk privately with Shelley. It was very difficult to write, but I love the way it came out, and I love Claire’s philosophy on how she handled the very difficult time in her marriage.
Where’s home for you?
I was born and raised in New York City, and I now divide my time between Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Yes, for sure. And when I do, instead of panicking I just work on editing, preparing marketing materials, or something else. I find that if I just set it aside, the story will start flowing again another day and time soon.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“If you choose not do decide, you still have made a choice.” ~Getty Lee, from the band, Rush. (Also quoted throughout Momnesia.)
What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
So glad you asked! I’ve recently read several books of the variety that you feel compelled to run around telling people about!
Scent of Triumph, by Jan Moran.
Is This All There Is, by Patricia Mann.
The Wisdom of Hair, by Kim Boykin.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Lisbon, Portugal. It’s a beautiful, clean, and historic city with friendly people and great public transportation. It’s also close to Cascais, which has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, as well as Sintra, which is steeped with history and beautiful castles. Plus, the wine and food are great, and the nightclubs never close!
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog! I hope you readers have enjoyed getting to know me, and I hope to get to know them too, perhaps through comments or in other ways!
Thank you, Lori, for being here. Come back anytime!
Excerpt from UnexpectingChapter 1
It all started on a Tuesday morning. Shelley stood in her kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee and marveling that there was any left in the pot. The house was completely silent; no one else was home and during the busy summer season, that felt like a near miracle.
With three college-aged kids home for their break and a fourth living at home full-time, she and David would often joke that the kids and their friends were like a mathematical phenomenon: They seemed to multiply faster than amoebae, resulting in somewhere around nine teenagers at any given time. Sleeping, running around in bathing suits, asking for a ride, and eating, eating, eating...ceaselessly eating.
So when the doorbell rang, Shelley didn’t run to answer it. The UPS man, whose job brought him to their door with astonishing regularity, would ring it whenever he left a package on the porch. And since she wasn’t expecting anyone, she saw no need to go to the door in her PJs and reveal to the young-ish, good-looking courier that she was still in a state of undress even though it was after ten o’clock.
Then it rang a second time, which meant that either it was a package she had to sign for, or a neighbor stopping by for some as-yet-unknown favor to ask. Sighing, she set down her mug, still her favorite despite the chip on its rim because it said, I’m 30...it seems like I should have money by now. It had been modified with a Sharpie on its ten-year anniversary to read, I’m 40, and when she’d reached forty-five she decided not to bother updating it anymore; it was still funny.
As she approached the door she could see through its glass oval that there was a woman standing on the porch. Bracing herself to deal with whatever solicitation it might possibly be, Shelley opened the door and discovered that it wasn’t a woman at all. It was a girl-woman. And not just any older girl/younger woman, but one that was hugely pregnant, her glistening face pocked full of acne, and bright blue eyes so watery they reminded her that she’d been meaning to water the hanging flower baskets on the porch.
“Is this the Morsony household?”
Shelley knew immediately that this was not someone intimately acquainted with the family: She had pronounced Morsony the way most people would, more-sewn-ee, when in fact her husband’s unusual ancestors had decided to pronounce it more-sunny.
“Yes it is. Can I help you?”
“I need to talk to David Morsony.”
“He’s not here at the moment. May I help you with something?”
The girl blinked. Her first tear fell and she fidgeted with her blonde ponytail. Shelley noticed that her hand was trembling and watched with horror as the girl’s lips began to quiver in a fashion that she knew could be a precursor to the bawling, snot-bubbling drama she was very familiar with, having raised two girls of her own.
Averting her eyes, Shelley glanced toward the driveway, noticing that there was a Ford Focus that looked as if its only opportunity to move would be via a tow truck. It was blue, with a dented front fender and two different colors of duct tape hanging off one of the headlights. The windows were open and at first glance it appeared that someone was sitting in the passenger seat. Then she realized that it was a dog; one of those gigantic brindle dogs that made her think of that 1980s movie starring Tom Hanks.
The girl was sniffling and wiping under her eyes while Shelley thought longingly—and selfishly—about her coffee, abandoned on the counter inside. She didn’t mean to seem uncaring, it was just that after raising four kids through their teen years, including all the ups and downs with friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and so on, the sight of a crying teenager on the porch seemed like yet another daily drama rather than an actual event.
At the same time, there was a niggling sense of foreboding lurking in the back of her mind. Shelley noted that she didn’t appear to be selling anything, yet she had asked for her husband, David. Strange.
Slapping at yet another mosquito and beginning to perspire, Shelley looked at the girl, waiting for her to say something. Neither the bugs nor the heat ever let up during North Carolina summers and they were both out in full-force that morning. The girl leaned up against one of the porch columns, causing Shelley to realize that since she was so uncomfortable, the pregnant young lady must be about ready to collapse.
Mentally relinquishing any hope of enjoying her quiet morning, Shelley gestured toward the rocking chairs and asked if the girl would like to sit down. But either she didn’t notice the gesture or chose to ignore it because she said, “That would be amazing,” and stepped toward the entry.
Quickly deciding that she didn’t meet the qualifications for a dangerous intruder, Shelley held the door open and the girl squeezed past with her big, tight belly leading the way. Walking straight ahead into the kitchen the way all visitors do, she sat at the counter where Shelley’s stool was already pulled out from her earlier attempt at solitude.
“Would you like some iced tea?”
“Sweet tea? That would be great!” Disproportionately appreciative, Shelley hoped she realized that this was no home-steeped, prepared-in-the-sun-all-day sweet tea. It was Crystal Light, the former New Yorker’s halfhearted attempt at Southern hospitality.
Accepting the glass and a napkin, the girl immediately started mopping the sweat that had beaded up on her forehead.
“So, can I ask why you’re wanting to speak to my husband?”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess so. So, you’re David’s wife?”
A dawning sensation swept over Shelley, bringing pinpricks to her formerly relaxed body as it occurred to her that this girl was not only similar to her own seventeen and nineteen-year-old girls, but she was also not that much younger than her twenty-two and twenty-four-year-old stepsons. And she was pregnant. Very pregnant. Her internal rosary beads started twisting as she understood that they could be in for some seriously bad news. How many times have I talked to those boys about safe sex? The anger welled up inside her even though she had no information yet. I’ll kill them!
The girl fidgeted with her napkin, twisting it into a pointy little cone, then tapping its end with her fingertip. “You’re probably going to be surprised,” she said, her eyes turned downward.
“I may not be as surprised as you think,” Shelley replied, looking pointedly at her stomach.
Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been an author, speaker, and small business consultant since 1995. She has been featured in media including “Lifetime Women’s Network,” the “My Carolina Today Show,” and “Boston Globe Forums Live.”
Her public speaking has occurred at many prestigious venues including North Carolina State
University, Nassau Community College, and many more.
She has received two awards for her novel,
Momnesia, and her nonfiction, Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs, continues to be one of the most highly recommended in its genre since 2005.
Lori is a happy married mom of two, step mom of two more, and has two cats, both rotten. Originally a native New Yorker, she now divides her time between Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA.
She is very excited about the release of Unexpecting, and looks forward to her book tour, interviews, launch parties, and other festivities!
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