My mother, Zora Prosperi Lucchesi left her family and her home in Riolo, Italy when she was a 17-year-old bride. She and her new husband, Guglielmo Lucchesi (who was from her village, but had come to America six years earlier) settled in Connecticut, and lived with or near his brothers and their wives while establishing their own business, and raising a family.
I had always wondered about my mother, her motivations to leave her homeland with a practical stranger; her dreams, her hopes and her disappointments. When people ask me why I chose this topic to write about, I answer, "I wanted to get to know my mother and learn more about my Italian heritage."
Zora: The Life of an Ordinary Girl Living in Extraordinary Times
was published in December of 2009. This creative nonfiction book was based on the life of my mother, Zora, and the ever-changing world she lived in-both in Italy and America.
How to go about this task was the question I pondered following my retirement. I had collected interviews of family members, drawn genograms of the family trees with names, ages, causes of death and collected photographs from the family albums. All of this had been sitting in a box since the nineteen seventies, and as I examined all of these records, I was struck with an idea: write about the family, its triumphs and travails through the eyes of my mother.
Thoughts were brewing as I slept, read and cooked dinner. It was as if I was putting ingredients into a beef bourguignon and was letting it simmer. Then I met Kelly Ferjutz, a writer and editor, at One to One Gym; and as we chatted about writing and music, we seemed to click and form a bond. I told her that I was thinking of writing a book, and she offered to help if I needed some editing or guidance.
Although I'd not read any of her books, I had seen a staged reading of her play, "More Than Strangers " at Karamu and was impressed with her talent. Having set aside writing for family and career, I enthusiastically jumped back in with both feet.
As it happens, Kelly was beginning a new venture for her, as well - that of writing coach for those who wanted to write, and had no good idea of where or how to begin.
Kelly encouraged me to write an outline of what I wanted to say, how I would say it and how the action would evolve. Many revisions later, we were satisfied with the final version and decided to find photographs of some of the main characters, include some of the poems I had written over the years, and find an appropriate publishing venue.
The publishing world has changed drastically in the last ten years, and seems to change more nearly every week! But, because of her own experience in publishing (and her own books being published - now five in all) she was in a good position to advise her clients.
She mentioned Create Space and other online publishers as possibilities. I explored the new technology, and since I had no illusions of having a New York Times best seller, I decided to try this avenue to publish my work.
With Kelly's invaluable help as editor and proof-reader, I managed to get all of the pieces of my manuscript together in the proper pdf form and send it along to Create Space, a division of Amazon.com. Within seemingly just days, I received the proof copy for my approval. I was thrilled since the process of getting all the details of the publishing done correctly was intense and a challenge, especially since I am not a computer whiz.
The proof copy duly arrived, and I cried with joy, inspecting every page for errors and enjoying the feel of the paper in my hands. It really was a book! I contacted the Create Space Support Team and told them to go ahead and publish. The book was then advertized on Amazon.com and there it was-a book for family, friends and even a few strangers.
What a great experience! For the cost of a proof copy (under $10 including postage), I was a published author. To my delight, we discovered that the book was also available to other on-line and walk-in booksellers-around the world! Also, it will soon be available in e-book format.
Of course, there are any number of on-line publishers out there. Each is different in its approach; some charge upfront, some don't. Some put all the creative input into your hands, some don't. Take some time to find the right one for you.
If you are looking for some way to unlock your creativity, write, edit, write some more and then explore online publishing. Try it; you'll like it.
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Italians in Cleveland