Lori Verni-Fogarsi of Holly Springs was a successful business owner; a writer and author; and a mom of two girls.
But when a reporter, who was working on a story about her as a successful entrepreneur and mom, asked her what her hobbies were, she couldn't think of one. All of her time was spent being a mom and a business owner. She realized at that moment a few years ago that she'd lost touch with who she really was.
"Gardening," she told the reporter, though she really considers yard work just another chore. Holly Springs author tells the story of "Momnesia"
That moment eventually spawned the idea for her new book "Momnesia," which will be available in book stores, including local Barnes & Noble stores, on Friday. The novel traces the story of a mom, who is frustrated in her marriage and life, and sets out to find some balance between taking care of everybody else and taking care of herself.
"The more I thought about it, the more I felt I had become invisible to my family, myself and everybody else around me where I was just a mom," she tells me. "I think being a mom is important. It was just there was no other part of me."
Verni-Fogarsi's writing career began in a roundabout way. The New York native studied to be a paralegal, but soon realized she wanted to go into business for herself. She looked at her options and, at age 23, decided to become a certified master dog trainer.
She started her dog training business and, as a benefit to her clients, began writing a newsletter with tips and dog training advice. The popularity of her newsletter, along with her business, grew. Magazines and newspapers began contacting her to write on the topic.
Her writing continued and went in other directions when she and her first husband moved to Holly Springs. They sold the dog training business on Long Island and started a new one here - Best Paw Forward, which her first husband continues to run. She wrote her first book, "Everything You Need to Know About House Training Puppies & Adult Dogs!" and has written as a freelance journalist for local newspapers.
When Verni-Fogarsi married her second husband a few years ago, she no longer needed to work. She took the opportunity to turn those thoughts and concerns about her own life, prompted by that question by the reporter, into a novel.
She spent two years writing and editing "Momnesia." She spent part of another year going to conferences and contacting agents. While people were interested in the book, she said, she had trouble landing an agent. So many publishers, she said, are investing in celebrity authors.
So she started her own publishing house, Brickstone Publishing. She hired an editor to work on her book and an artist to create the cover art.
"I'm working harder now than back when I was 23 and starting the dog training business," said Verni-Fogarsi, who also has two stepsons.
"Momnesia" is based on some of Verni-Fogarsi's own experience and those of her friends, but she's quick to point out that it is a novel. Her main character explores all aspects of her own life in an attempt to find balance between her "momminess" and "sexiness." (There are definitely some steamy, blush-worthy scenes here during all this exploration). There also are many moments in the book that a lot of moms out there will recognize.
In her own life, Verni-Fogarsi has worked to find the same balance that her character is looking for. She has regular lunch dates with a best friend and is better at taking time for herself and not feeling guilty about it. On her Facebook page, she asks her fans what they've done for themselves on a regular basis.
She said moms don't need to plan out a day-long spa outing. Taking time for themselves can be as simple as savoring a piece of chocolate or lighting a scented candle, she said. Still, she admits, with child care, housework and career, it can be easy even for her to slip back into another bout of "momnesia."
"It's something I need to fight against day in and day out," she said. "I force myself to not feel guilty about it."
The public is invited to the "Momnesia" launch party from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., March 22, at the Chef's Palette in Cary. For more information and to RSVP, go to the Facebook event's page. She'll have food, prizes and more. Sounds like it could be a great moms' night out excursion (an outing that Verni-Fogarsi would surely endorse)!
Hear more from Verni-Fogarsi in my video interview with her. Check her website for more information about her books.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.