A Conversation with Lisa Maggiore, author of 'Home From Within'

Lisa Maggiore is the author of a children’s picture book, Ava the Monster Slayer: A Warrior Who Wears Glasses and a fiction short story, Pinterest Saved My Marriage. Lisa is currently working on other writing projects and practicing her storytelling skills during Live Lit performances. Lisa resides in Chicago with her husband and four children. Lisa loves to travel, watch da Bears during the NFL season and be silly with her family.

Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Home From Within.

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About the Book:

Title: Home From Within
Author: Lisa Maggiore
Publisher: Vagabond Publishing
Pages: 253
Genre: Women’s Fiction

It’s the fall of ’82, and Jessica Turner has finally been set free, entering a public high school after being homeschooled. But her mother wears a frown and her father wears his Colt .45s, with a warning: no dating allowed. Seeking warmth, Jessica finds herself in a secret relationship with bad boy Paul Peterson. When the relationship–and Jessica’s pregnancy–are discovered, Paul will be dead by nightfall.

Seventeen years later Jessica and her daughter live a quiet life with horse farmer, Matt Johnson. Marriage is on the table but Jessica’s remorseful heart will not comply. When an unexpected death brings Jessica back home, she uncovers her father’s secrets and discovers that her true path in life, and love, are just a choice away.

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  • Home From Within is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The premise for Home from Within came to me during my senior year in high school, (which was a very long time ago.) A friend got pregnant and decided to keep the baby and get married once she graduated high school. As the writers mind often wanders into the “what if” I wondered what would have happened if the father of her child did not know she was pregnant, because she was whisked off in the middle of the night, and sent to live with relatives far away. After many years, the father discovers that he has a child by the girl/woman he loved from his youth. But, they are both in committed relationships with other people, so where does that leave them, or their child? I love a great love story and the hardships in navigating between the head and the heart. My novel is that journey of mapping out a path to connect the head and the heart.  I also based my character, Paul, loosely on a high school crush (he didn’t know I existed.) The premise for the book stuck with me through many years and when I finally decided to write the story, I used my long hours commuting in Chicago traffic to create scenes, characters, and dialogue, even before putting my fingers on a keyboard. (I was a social worker for twenty years and leaped from my career to write.)

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The easy part of writing this book was that it came straight from the imagination and was set in places I knew well with characters that were familiar since they were loosely based on acquaintances. I did whatever felt organic to my characters and the plot. I stuck with some suggested tips like write from a place you know, so I set my places in Chicago (born and raised) and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (where my grandparents lived.) The harder part involved finessing my manuscript. I sought out people who had expert knowledge about areas I did not and joined a critique group to help fine-tune my flawed manuscript. Finding the right critique group was crucial. My first tip would be to not join a critique group because it’s the only one around. Not all critique groups are created equal. I joined one that was part of  StoryStudio in Chicago, a reputable place for writers. I attended conferences and writing classes. A second tip is that it’s very important to be open to feedback. I love Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. She says what we think, but are too afraid to say. She also puts a writer’s life in perspective, which is very helpful since it’s hard to see the trees when you’re chasing the wolf.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published Home from Within, along with another short story, but I also have a traditionally published picture book.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

With any published work, writing the book is a piece in a larger puzzle of marketing, social media, and how to be heard in a crowded world. I write half of the time; the other half is spent relationship building, learning about marketing via webinars, reading blog posts, and following authors who are experiencing success by joining their newsletters and imitating their best habits. I also have Facebook fan pages that I’m on daily so I can interact and build my audience. So there is a lot more involved than what I first thought when considering publishing a book.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have a Young Adult novel called Children of the Dust about Tin, a Black Amerasian who survives the fall of Saigon and comes to America to find his father. It’s in the revision process and once finished, I’ll hand over to my many expert beta readers (Black Vietnam Vets, Vietnamese that escaped while Saigon was falling, English teachers in middle and high school) all patiently waiting to critique it. My agent also pitched the story in NY last week and we have some interest from publishing houses, so that’s positive.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

Facebook but I also love to read publishing blogs, especially The Passive Voice. 

Q: What’s your nightly ritual before retiring for the night?

I have four children, and my oldest is twenty-six and she still lives at home. I make sure to kiss everyone good night, rub their backs, and maybe even give a few minutes of a head massage. Then I get on the computer and answer e-mails, or check my Facebook fan pages. After all that, I do my nightly ritual, i.e. wash face, brush teeth, crawl into bed and pray, then read. Even if I’m exhausted, I’ll still read one page. It’s a habit that makes me feel safe and warm, well, besides my husband next to me in bed!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

That a bad moment does not define a person. That often decisions being made are the best that could be offered at that moment based on where someone is at in their life. That love motivates people to do better, be better. And, loving yourself is the most important love of all.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about me and my book! That’s always fun!

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