The Meat and Potatoes of Life Is Multiple Awards Finalist

UPDATE: Elva Resa is honored to receive a Silver IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Humor. Enjoy author Lisa Molinari’s entertaining acceptance speech (video marker 2:39):

Lisa Molinari acceptance speech IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards

(St. Paul, MN, May 12, 2021)—Award-winning independent publisher Elva Resa Publishing is pleased to announce that The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com by Lisa Smith Molinari has been recognized as a finalist in the humor category for three distinguished publishing awards: The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Awards, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, and the Midwest Book Awards. All three awards recognize independent publishers for creating exceptional books.

The Meat and Potatoes of Life is Lisa’s witty memoir about her real-life family’s coming of age story. Lisa gives up her law career to become a navy wife and stay-at-home mom of three quirky kids and a perpetually-shedding dog. Written in episodes contained in seasons, the lit com (like a sit com for book lovers) follows the Molinari family from marriage through raising kids to empty nest.

“Editing a memoir can be challenging, especially one based on newspaper columns and that spans decades of life moments,” says publisher Karen Pavlicin. “Elva Resa’s senior editor Terri Barnes did an exceptional job helping Lisa arrange her episodes into seasons so they can be enjoyed individually and as a compelling, thematic narrative.”

One challenge for the team in both editing and marketing the book was being sensitive to other people’s stories that were weaved throughout, especially Lisa’s son Hayden’s story.

Lisa says, “I realize that writing about my own experiences dealing with Hayden’s early childhood developmental delays has been cathartic for me. But my need to write about my memories, feelings, and worries sometimes conflicts with my [now adult] son’s needs. His perspective of his childhood is that it was completely normal. He doesn’t remember having an IEP, he doesn’t really think much about his therapies, and he never realized that I was tracking his progress every day in my notebook. Hayden primarily remembers boy scout meetings, vacations at the beach, riding his bike in the cul-de-sac—normal childhood experiences—because we wove his therapies, doctor’s appointments, and exercises into his routine in a way that wasn’t disruptive.”

While Hayden’s childhood experience is central to Lisa’s journey as a mom-turned-writer, it was important to the team to recognize that this is just one chapter of Hayden’s life story.

Lisa says, “Everyone wants to be normal, and now that my son is an educated, responsible, independent adult, I have to show him respect by balancing his perspective of a normal childhood with my own experiences as the mother of a child who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.” 

At the heart of Lisa’s memoir is a story every mom can see herself in and an opportunity to find humor in the day-to-day challenges and rewards of marriage and family life.

“Ever since I won class clown in junior high school, I’ve found joy in making someone else laugh,” Lisa says. “Humor is so much funnier when the reader can relate to the story. Yes, my husband does that, too! or I’ve made that parenting mistake, too! Which is why I like to write about everyday things that all moms experience. I think readers just want someone to put their own experiences into words. It’s satisfying to articulate life in vivid descriptions.”

The team working on the book happened to all be moms, plus the daughter of one of the moms. “We were all conscious of mom-thoughts, like giving all three of Lisa’s kids equitable story time in the book,” says Karen. “And we had some playful fun with the illustrations and hand lettering of the book design. Collaborating with illustrator Jessie Barnes (Terri’s daughter) was such a joy. I could simply mention an idea like bathing suits on the line or having the mischievous dog run away with the suits, and Jessie made them come to life in a perfect way! In fact, we were able to incorporate those playful elements into all the marketing materials.”

The Meat and Potatoes of Life released in May 2020, amid the pandemic shutdown and growing civil unrest. Despite many launch events being canceled, Lisa decided to move forward with the release and the Elva Resa team supported her efforts completely.

“While Elva Resa has won national and regional awards in the past, this is a special honor because of the tremendous effort of our team to launch this book during the pandemic,” says Karen. “We had to pivot quickly and Lisa as a new book author had to be so creative and flexible when her in-person readings and comedy events were canceled. This awards recognition, for us, represents not only the tremendous quality of the book’s creation, but also the commitment to maintaining its integrity and value for readers who needed a good dose of laughter during an incredibly stressful and isolating time. I’m very proud of our team and especially Lisa.”

Gold winners for each award will be announced by IBPA during a virtual live ceremony on May 13, Foreword on June 17, and the Midwest Independent Publishers Association at a virtual book awards gala on June 27.

The Meat and Potatoes of Life is available everywhere books are sold, with case and bulk sales from

About the Author
Lisa Smith Molinari is an award-winning newspaper columnist and a featured comedienne at a variety of shows and events. Most recently, she spoke on a panel at the Comics Rising Festival, where panelists discussed how they pivoted during the pandemic.

Her memoir The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com is based on her award-winning column appearing weekly in Stars and Stripes and other newspapers around the world. Lisa also wrote “Secrets of My Success” in Stories Around the Table: Laughter, Wisdom, and Strength in Military Life to help military spouses not feel guilty (like she did) about managing a military family, rather than pursuing a career.

Read more about Lisa’s journey as a writer in this Books Make a Difference article.


ELVA RESA PUBLISHING LLC is an independent publisher based in St. Paul, Minnesota, whose mission is to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Its primary imprint specializes in books for and about military families.

MEDIA: Please contact Elva Resa PR at 651-357-8770 or pr[@]

Title: The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com
Author: Lisa Smith Molinari
Publisher: Elva Resa Publishing
First Published: May 1, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-934617-54-0
Format: 6″ x 9″ Hardcover 256 pages
Retail Price: $26.95
Category: Memoir, Humor


“… lively and resonant memoir …  capturing the service of motherhood with candor, humor, and grace.”— Kirkus Reviews

“… wry and lighthearted …”­­­— W. Bruce Cameron, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose

“…hilariously honest, beautifully engaging, and vividly written … A must-read.”— Gina Barreca, author of They Used to Call Me Snow White … But I Drifted

“This is a wonderful look inside the kind of family we all want to invite home to dinner.”— Amy Newmark, editor-in-chief, Chicken Soup for the Soul

Elva Resa Publishing