Lisa is pitching Calamity Becomes Her to agents who represent memoir writers she admires and whose stories deeply resonate with her own life experiences. Such writers include Pam Houston, Gretel Ehrlink, Cheryl Strayed, Glynnis MacNicol and Robyn Davidson.
Calamity is a memoir full of joy, “a serious romp,” one of her colleagues has called it. Lisa has taken huge risks, at times with catastrophic consequences. The woman you will meet is brave, brazen and battle-scared from love—and three car accidents.
Born with an erratic heartbeat and later, her body broken from an accident on a snowy road in the car of a young man she adored, her mother forbade her to see him again, the driver of that car. She triumphs, but not before she stumbles. She’s an adrenaline junky. Again and again, she makes poor choices—in jobs and in men, but she leaps with such faith and humor, that she trusts readers will root for her to succeed. She flunks out of an MBA program and flees to the American West, where her adventures demonstrate what happens to such a young woman as she was when she competes with ranch hands to see who’s most adept at handling a hay truck, races against a Corvette headlong into the Shoshone River and tutors the children of a Christian fundamentalist who invites her to join him at a strip club.
By her late twenties, she realizes that the risks she’s taken haven’t paid off—the failures and disappointments in love and career—have everything to do with her bottled up grief for the young man her mother disappeared from her life. With that understanding dawning, she heads back East to read his letters, long stashed in the bottom of a drawer, unopened. On the trek home, she buys a typewriter, holes up in a motel and begins to write, and she does not stop writing for two decades. Calamity, the first of two memoirs, is the fruit of that endeavor.
While Calamity has a plot-driven narrative, passages of reflection punctuate the story. On Lisa’s journey West, she meets cowboys, wanna-be cowboys, barkeeps, evangelists, swindlers and friends. She interrogates the history of her parents, most especially her mother, who married her father after a series of deaths in her own family from which she never recovered.
Lisa has been publishing essays for five years on the writing life, sex and relationships, and her love for horses, dogs and cowboy country. One appeared in the IPPY-award-winning anthology Unmasked: Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty, published in 2017. Calamity is her first full-length manuscript. She lives near Boston, where she rides horses and commutes by bike to her job writing and editing technology blogs for Dell Technologies. She is at work on the sequel to Calamity.
To see some of Lisa’s published work, click here.
Lisa can be reached at lisa dot demasi at gmail dot com.