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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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Blogger avinn888 said...

I have long wondered how to categorize my writing. This article gave me much needed insight therefore giving me a little more focus but more importantly inspired me to not worry about it, keep writing and let my publisher decide. Thanks ladies!

6:46 AM  
Blogger Melissa Sarno said...

Thanks for this interview. As I begin the agent search, I have been very confused about the lines between chick lit/women's fiction/literary fiction. I am glad there is some grey in between.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...


By all means keep writing, and write the best story you can, but when it's time to query agents, do your homework and let them know that you understand the distinctions between this genre. They want to make sure you understand the market rather than your leaving it all up to them. Agents are looking for authors who will actively participate in making their book a success!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Bryna Kranzler said...

This discussion is timely, as I'm trying to figure out how to classify my project. I'm editing my grandfather's diaries from the Russo-Japanese War, during which period he was sentenced to death 4 times (this forms the spine of the book). He was also involved in a plot to assassinate the czar, as well as other underground activities. I would never call it a "memoir" because my grandfather is dead and I can't ask him questions, plus I'm editing it, which not only involves shortening it but will require my writing a new opening chapter (in his voice) that will contain the relevant information presented during the first 5 chapters.

I suppose this is what is known as "Narrative NonFiction," or "Creative Nonfiction," but when I've walked into a bookstore to ask where that section is located, I end up having to explain all of the above and then often get directed to "Memoirs," or "History." (I should see where In Cold Blood in shelved, but that has become so mainstream it might even be shelved in Fiction). What do you think?

11:54 AM  
Blogger LuAnn said...

A cat named Donny Most? As in Happy Days?
That's too funny. I love it.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...


First of all, WOW! Your project sounds fascinating. Second of all, WOW! I can see where you'd have difficulty placing it. Creative nonfiction can cross over several genres, including memoir and personal essay, but your project sounds like historical memoir. Is there such a category? I don't know -- it's possible I just made it up. But if you're querying agents (and the good thing about nonfiction is that you can submit a proposal w/out having completed the manuscript), that might be the way to go.

Best of luck with it!


2:07 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

LuAnn, that's pretty much the reaction everyone in the book has. I love it too. In fact, I would so want that cat.

2:09 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

If I could just make two minor clarifications. I never grew up in New York City, but rather the Long Island suburbs. It's true that Long Islanders call Manhattan and the five boroughs "the city", or they call them and Long Island "New York" and the rest of New York "Upstate", as if that's its name, but Long Island was always my home turf.

Also, I sucked at gossip while I was a manicurist and gave it up rather early -- found other conversations much more productive, as did my clients. (Although those were the OJ Simpson and Amy Fisher days, and those topics were inescapable. Man, I just outed my age, huh...)


2:15 PM  
Blogger PatriciaW said...

I'm drawn to books for so many reasons. I love books set in the NY metro area and even more books by authors from that area, since I grew up on Long Island too.

I love women's fiction (and chick-lit).

I'm intrigued by all the locales mentioned, and wondering how Elisa is able to weave her plot across those settings.

Ordinary World sounds like an interesting read.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Hi Patricia-

*Faking It* opens with Andi recently moving back to NY after having spent years in MA. Add her daily commute and suddenly I had multiple locations to work with. Most of Faking It takes place in Manhattan, while Ordinary World took place mostly in the Boston area.

The plot kind of weaved itself, I think. There's a lot of commuting and movement from place to place, but not in a way that makes the reader feel disoriented. It worked out really well, actually, because it allowed the characters to figure out where they really belonged.

I don't know if I answered your question, but I hope you'll pick up the books! Faking It especially pays homage to a lot of locales on Long Island. :)

3:25 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Melissa Sarno, thanks for your comment, and good luck with your writing!

3:26 PM  
Blogger Wow! said...

Hi Ladies,

Thank you for your insightful comments! We held a random drawing for Elisa's book, Ordinary World, and the winner is...Patricia!

Congratulations, Patricia! Please e-mail us with your mailing address and we'll pass the info along to Elisa.


11:46 AM  

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