The Book Aunt strikes again!

For my niece’s 10th birthday, I got her a copy of Lindsey Leavitt and Robin Mellom‘s The Pages Between Us. But of course, that’s not all she got!

leavitt-giftleavitt-gift-2A simple trip to a big super store made it easy to pick up lots of items to help the book come alive: snickerdoodles (you’d be surprised how hard it was to find a cookie with this actual name on the box, but the cinnamon Chips Ahoy! package was close enough), pickle chips (my niece had never had these before so I didn’t know if she will like them…but we’ll soon find out!), sea salt chips (I couldn’t find hummus and sea salt flavor, unfortunately–if only I’d had a chance to hit Fresh Market before the big day!), super cute pencils, and a few other items, including…(drumroll, please)…


sparkly-notebookTA-DA! The sparkly blue notebook! And what a bonus: my niece’s birthday is about a month after the back-to-school frenzy, so this was even on clearance!

Now my niece and a friend can have their very own version of the book’s adventure in friendship.

She even loved the inexpensive hot pink plastic basket in which all her goodies were nestled away. I think it was fun for my niece to get a basketful of neat snacks and special items. And it will be even more fun when she reads her new book and can, say, try pickle chips, just like the girls in the story.

I love the book-and-related-items-tie-in for gifts. It makes shopping more of an adventure and less of a chore. I can’t wait to get Lindsey’s Commander in Cheese series for my younger nieces and nephews. However, I may stop short of buying them a mouse to go with their books. My sisters-in-law have their limits!


A POV Tip I Picked up Somewhere

When one begins to write a novel, one of the first things one has to decide is which point of view one should use. (And how to avoid ever having to use “one” because you can see how awkward that quickly becomes.)

I struggle with this, too. In Brand-New Emily, I used first person point of view, and I think it worked out nicely. In Jump, I used third, which I think ended up being the better choice for that particular novel (I’ll explain why in a minute). And with my new book Tig Ripley, Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel, I used third again, but for a different reason than in JumpContinue reading ‘A POV Tip I Picked up Somewhere’

Anything to Keep from Reading the Book

I got some interesting news this summer: a few different schools contacted me because they were using my novel Brand-New Emily in their classroom, and now that the novel is out of print, the teachers were hoping I could help them get copies of the book. Unfortunately, I wasn’t much help as I have only so many copies in my attic, but frankly, I was kind of surprised and definitely honored that something I had written is/was a school text. Then I had this epiphany: some kid or kids at these schools have probably treated my book like any other required reading for school…meaning they’ve done no-telling-what to try to get out of having to actually read it! Knowing this makes me feel like I’ve somehow arrived. Charles Dickens, you are now my homeboy! We are both being forced upon schoolchildren!

With this in mind, I asked some friends this question: What are some of the things you did to get out of reading a book for school? Here are their pretty funny responses: Continue reading ‘Anything to Keep from Reading the Book’

16 Things Writers Wish You Knew (Part Two)

(A continuation of my rant from last week…)

9. When I say I work from home, I mean I actually WORK from home. I’d like to dedicate number 9 on this list to the teacher who called me up when my daughter was little and said, “Well, since you don’t work outside the home…” and then gave me a laundry list of ways I could help her out in her classroom. It was as though she thought she were saving me from all this free time on my hands! Yes, I can be flexible when I’m not on deadline, but that doesn’t mean I’m just sitting around waiting for something to do. Why? Because…  Continue reading ’16 Things Writers Wish You Knew (Part Two)’

16 Things Writers Wish You Knew (Part One)

Warning: It’s about to get real up in here.

Every profession has its list of petty annoyances. I’m sure doctors get sick of everyone they meet asking them about their physical ailments at cocktail parties. I’m sure stockbrokers would probably like to talk about their favorite movie once in a while instead of constantly being pumped for info about which investments to choose. But I don’t know much about being a doctor or a stockbroker, so I’m going to tell you about what drives writers nuts…because THAT, I know. And, hey, our writing teachers’ mantra was always, “Write what you know.”

I’ve compiled a list of 16 things I think every professional writer has at some point wanted to say (or scream) to someone. But since that’s a lot to scream at once, these are the first 8. I’ll post the remaining 8 next week. And if you have any to add in the meantime, please comment! Here we go…. Continue reading ’16 Things Writers Wish You Knew (Part One)’

Writing and Gratitude

Painting: just another one of the zillion things I can't do.

Painting: just another one of the zillion things I can’t do.

A while back, an older friend of mine (in her 80s) was telling me about some needlework she’d recently done. “Oh, I wish I could learn how to do that,” I remarked. “I’m just not good at anything handy.”

Imagine my surprise when, instead of offering to teach me her skill, my friend looked at me and responded pointedly, “I think instead of trying to learn new tricks, you ought to be thankful that you can write, and just keep on working on doing that better and better every day. Be grateful you’re good at something and keep with it.”

It’s good to hang out with the older and wiser folk. They give you some good perspective…and sometimes keep you from blowing a lot of money at the fabric or craft store on stuff that you will never, ever actually use.

So, I hope you weren’t counting on an embroidered or crocheted or knitted gift from me for Christmas, because it’s not happening. Perhaps you’d appreciate a copy of Tig Ripley? Writing is pretty much all I know how to do.

But it’s enough. And I’m grateful.


The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived

Recently a friend of mine was telling me how he strives to be the best at what he does professionally. “I don’t just want to be good, I want to be the best,” he said. Then he asked if I strive for the same thing. I was a little confused.

“Don’t you want to be the greatest writer who ever lived?” my friend asked.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Now he was the one who was confused. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t set my sights higher.

The truth is, the whole “being the greatest writer who ever lived” thing? I’ll pass. And here’s why. Continue reading ‘The Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived’

Supporting Characters Rock

I posted recently about how to be your own leading lady/protagonist. But honestly, protagonists in real life can be overrated.

When choosing your friends, would you rather have someone single-mindedly dedicated to a goal, who will often stop at nothing to achieve it, or would you rather have someone supportive who doesn’t have to be the center of attention all the time?

Supporting characters are also sometimes a lot more fun to write. Unlike your protagonist, your supporting characters can start out awesome and stay awesome–they don’t require the character arc your main character does. For example, my agent, editor, and I are all unanimously giddy over Tig’s friend Robbie Chan in my new novel Tig Ripley: Rock’n’Roll Rebel. We all three agree that we want to be Robbie! I call Robbie “The Fonz” of the book because she’s ridiculously cool, fearless, and can do anything. She was so much fun to create…all I had to do is imagine how cool I could be if I were actually, you know, cool.

What do supporting characters tend to have in common? 

  1. They’re quirky. These characters can be a bit overdrawn to make them more memorable. One of my favorite things when writing is choosing my supporting characters’ quirks. Quirky people are so much more interesting, don’t you think?
  2. They tend to be a lot more settled. While protagonists are on a quest, supporting characters are often way chill. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that in real life?
  3. They fulfill a need. Sometimes a supporting character serves as the conscience of the protagonist, or the sympathetic ear, or the Ethel to their Lucy. They are the kind of friend you wish you had or that you should strive to be.
  4. They don’t need to be the center of attention. I don’t know about you, but in real life, I quickly tire of “look at me! pay attention to me!” people. Supporting characters are much less needy, and I love that about them.

Sure, sometimes in life you have to be your own leading lady/protagonist. But there’s a lot to be said for playing the part of the supporting character, too.


Teaching TIG

If you’re a middle school teacher looking for a new, fun, wholesome book for your reading list, I may just happen to know of one. Tig Ripley, Rock ‘n’ Roll Rebel will be available this September.

And to make your teaching life a little easier, here are some classroom activities based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Tig_TeachersGuide-2(1)

In the meantime, here’s hoping that all you teachers are currently enjoying a much-deserved restful summer break!


How to Be Your Own Leading Lady


It’s not surprising that women love the 2006 movie The Holiday. I liked it, too, but not for the obvious chick-flickness of it all. What I really loved was the old screenwriter who kept applying screenwriting techniques to real life. One scene that so many women adore is the dinner scene when the writer tells Kate Winslet’s character she should be the leading lady, not the best friend, in her own life. That sounds great, doesn’t it? But how do you do that? Continue reading ‘How to Be Your Own Leading Lady’