Growing up in Belleville, Jennifer Fernicola Ronay always enjoyed the feeling of freedom she experienced whenever she wrote – even if her initial career choices to become an accountant and lawyer, followed by a stint as a legal blogger, stifled her creativity.
And then one day last year, she looked at the copy on her computer screen and decided upon a sea change away from writing in legalese because, as she said matter-of-factly, “I just didn't feel like it was the right fit for me and as I was writing it didn't feel like it was my voice.”
Soon after returning from her honeymoon last spring, Fernicola Ronay found her voice. From June 1, 2010, through May 31 of this year, the 1993 Belleville High School alumnus began her Stop and Blog the Roses blog. Each day, after letting her thoughts and feelings flow, she listed three things for which she was thankful.
The end result was her first book, self-published through Amazon.com's CreateSpace released in August: "Stop and Blog the Roses: A 2012 Calendar and Gratitude Journal for the Feisty, the Fabulous and Old Souls Everywhere." It is a potential stocking-stuffer or holiday gift selling for $14 on Amazon that serves as a reminder of reasons to express gratitude.
“There's so many blogs out there where people just vent. I wanted to end (each entry) on a positive note,” said Fernicola Ronay, nicknamed “Fern” by her Belleville friends. “There are some entries that are heartwarming and reflections of my childhood and there are some entries where I vent, but I wanted to end on a positive note. … I wanted it to be entertain but also inspiring.”
Fernicola Ronay found inspiration through writing by taking a circuitous route. After graduating from BHS, she received her degree in accounting from Lehigh University in 1997 and worked in Deloitte & Touche's audit department for two years before going north to get her law degree in 2002 from Boston College.
Upon finishing law school, Fernicola moved to New York City and took writing classes at Media Bistro while going back to work for Deloitte. Eventually, she met her now-husband Howie and moved to Chicago when he was transferred with his job – which led to her legal blogging for ChicagoNow.com.
And also led to a discovery.
“I discovered what interested me are human-interest stories and people and the chance to be creative,” Fernicola Roney said. “I thought I would love (blogging) because I love to write, but I love to write creatively.”
Through her blog, Fernicola Roney began work not only on her first self-published book, but also an offshoot – a gratitude journal without a calendar she hopes to publish this coming January that will have 77 entries because she met her husband on 7/7/07. She is currently completing a chicklet novel she began writing during her days at Media Bistro she described as “Sex and the City meets Ghost.”
In the meantime, Fernicola Roney also works as a legal temp while building a new career in front of the camera co-hosting a cable-access TV show Ms. Esquire and reporting for Chicago 3 Media. She is also active on Twitter as @FernRonay.
And she is coming back to Belleville for Thanksgiving, the place where she first discovered her love of writing.
“I don't live there anymore, but it was a funny and interesting place to grow up,” Fernicola Roney said. “I just think people from Belleville have big personalities and big hearts.”