At thirty-nine, Leona Accorsi is broke, single, back in school, and living in her sister Carly’s basement. She’s perfectly content being quirky Auntie Lee to Carly’s four children. That is, until Leona’s doctor tells her that if she wants to have a child, she’d better do it now.
Leona does want a baby. She always has, but the circumstances have never been right. Now she has a huge decision to make: face motherhood on her own or risk missing out on its rewards.
Unfortunately, she’s let her romantic life go stagnant. She barely even knows any single men. She has just a few prospects: a Vietnam vet and partial amputee, his intimidating son, the sweet but troubled man who tutors her niece, and a fellow nursing student she’s never actually met.
As Leona discovers more about each one, she realizes any of them could be the right man for the job. The more important question is, has she become the right woman?
“All the Good Parts is wildly original and features a mixture of heartfelt and laugh-out-loud moments. The main character’s quest for motherhood is poignant and relatable...[but] it’s the ensuing complexities that arise as the main character tries to find a suitable daddy donor from a varied potential list that make this story hard to put down.” —RT Book Reviews
“[Nyhan] creates an original and endearing contemporary heroine in Leona Accorsi...[Her] novel tells a surprising, sweet, and unconventional story about family and friendship.” —Booklist
Some Q & A with Loretta:
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
I wrote for trade magazines after college, but the thought of trying to write fiction was terrifying to me in my twenties. Instead, I went back to school for an advanced degree and then taught college writing. The desire to write fiction never left me, though, and after my youngest son started school, I told myself either I was going to really give writing a try or I wasn’t, and if it was the latter, it was time to retire that particular dream. I couldn’t give up. I started writing and I haven’t stopped.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
Um…I’m usually writing! When I’m not, I ride my bike, bake, watch Catastrophe and Homeland, and hang out with my kids.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I teach part-time, online only.
Where do you get your ideas?
I’ve never heard a writer give a good answer for this, because there really isn’t one. Basically, a bunch of different things you’ve noticed, people you’ve met, ideologies you’ve considered, come together to form a cohesive story. Sometimes, just a character shows up and you figure out what her story is while you write it. It’s magical and then…it isn’t. It’s just how your brain works if you are a creative type of person.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew), Judy Blume, and S. E. Hinton made me an obsessive reader, which is how all writers start out. Later, Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, and Kerouac’s On the Road showed me what really well written books could do—they could powerfully shape a reader’s worldview. Those three are still my all-time favorites.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My first book was published because publishing is such a challenging business. I’LL BE SEEING YOU, was written because Suzanne Palmieri Hayes and I had other books on submission with publishers. Suzy said, “Why don’t we write something to keep our minds off things while we wait?” That project ended up being the first I sold, to Harlequin-MIRA.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve met some of the loveliest, smartest, kindest people on this publishing journey.
How do you market your work?
Marketing is not my strong suit. I have a strong Facebook presence, and I visit book clubs. I’ve visited over fifty book clubs!
What are you working on now?
Finishing up another women’s contemporary novel, DIGGING IN. It’s the story of a woman who, at the lowest point in her life, digs up her backyard to start a one-woman urban farm. She’s a disaster at it, but learns some important life lessons along the way.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
Elements of my life will always filter into my writing. I think this is true for all writers, because the initial spark will usually come from life experience. I don’t recreate people I know on the page in a recognizable way—that wouldn’t be fair. However, I have created characters by borrowing traits from multiple people I’ve known at different times in my life.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
Any scenes with humor. Comedic writing is definitely the most difficult, but it’s the most rewarding. I think my favorite scene in ALL THE GOOD PARTS is the baby shower from hell. It was so fun—and challenging—to write!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep at it. I’ve known plenty of very talented people who never finish a novel. Success really is most determined by persistence.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
The only negative is instability. Nothing is predictable in publishing. Everything else falls into the positive column. The absolute best? When my book connects with a reader, and she tells me it gave her joy/made her think/entertained her for a few evenings.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you. It sounds cheesy, but I am so grateful to every person who has ever read my work.