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Daughter and Author Rolled Into One

Many authors draw inspiration from reality, and ANNAROSE INGARRA-MILCH is no exception. The sassy, optimistic central character of her first work of fiction, Lunch with Lucille, is based heavily on her own beloved mother, who knew how to live life to its fullest. Like the real woman who was her muse, the fictional Lucille offers readers a wise yet humorous way to deal with the phases of life. Born and raised in Kingston, NY, Ingarra-Milch has lived in Reading since 1998, where she also owns ROI Training and Consulting, a professional development firm, with her husband Charles.

How did you find your way from Kingston to Berks County? For work.
My husband and I left upstate New York for Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the late 1980s. Then in 1998, he had an offer here. We’ve since founded our own firm specializing in business management and professional development.

Q | Did you always want to be a writer–is that how Lunch with Lucille came to be?
It’s actually a component of my background in professional development and grew out of a keynote speech I’d given about the value of age. When I began work on it, I kept hearing a voice in my head saying "write what you know"–a woman’s voice–and, after hearing it repeatedly, I realized it was my [late] mother’s voice. I knew then that the way to combine my background in motivational speaking, this message on valuing age, and my mom’s lessons was to write it as a work of fiction but with real, practical advice.

Q | So the central message of the book is that aging is not something to be fought against but rather celebrated?
Absolutely. We learn so much just from living; however our youth-centered culture can make it difficult to appreciate the great things that come with the years. Lunch with Lucille looks at life from a totally different perspective and breaks things down for readers into a step-by-step formula–a four-step approach–to celebrate life. My mom lived that way; she lived in the now and made the most of every day. It’s an extraordinary way to live, full of laughter and appreciation, without stress and garbage that can weigh you down.

Q | What a gift to be raised by a mother with such a positive outlook and zest for life. Do you have a favorite memory of her?
Oh that would be impossible; there are too many to choose just one. She lived a life we all aspire to. She really should’ve had "Carpe Diem" tattooed on her chest!

Q | Speaking of Carpe Diem, between running a business, being an author and lecturing as a motivational speaker, what do you do to seize your downtime?
Believe it or not, even though we are together all the time, I have the best time just hanging out with my husband. We got married, raised three children and each had separate careers but always wanted to work together–now we do. We’re literally working toward a common goal and I find the most joy and inspiration in our relationship.

Q |  Will there be another book?
Yes, I’m already preparing to work on a sequel that picks up where the first left off. The message of the story, and the follow-up book, lend themselves to a way of life, a brand, and I’m developing that and a way for readers to report back on the results they’ve experienced by taking Lucille’s advice.

Q | Do you feel like you’re living the way Lucille, your character, wants you to?
Yes, I’m exactly where I want to be and I have a few gray hairs [laughs].  I want others to feel the same way and that’s why making this book a success means a lot to me. Don’t get me wrong; I want it to be financially and professionally successful too, but it is rewarding that people really get Lucille. They want to enjoy life, all of it. Her name means light and that’s what she is–she lights things up.

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