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Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of The Santangelos in exchange for a post about it on elisazied.com. As always, opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here.

When I was invited by Get Red PR and Socially Speaking Media to an intimate lunch at The Hotel Plaza Athenee in New York City with other bloggers who came from as far as Mississippi to celebrate the launch of Jackie Collins' latest book, The Santangelos, I immediately said yes. Of course I’ve heard of her and her work—the best-selling novelist has sold more than 500 million books in more than 40 countries. I said yes because I loved the idea of not only having an opportunity to read an early copy of her latest book, but to meet and interview the author herself.

I can tell you in all honestly that not only did I enjoy reading my first—and Collins’ 32nd—book (despite its > 500 page count), but I had an absolute blast at a really beautiful event. And boy, did Collins deliver in every way possible!

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When we first sat down at the gorgeous lunch table (see photo below), I felt like I was having high tea in London (which I’ve done only once before). After brief introductions, Collins greeted us all like as if we were her girlfriends. She didn’t have to try to be personable or present—she just was. She had tons of charisma and I could tell immediately that her charm and likeability are at least partly why she is as successful as she is.

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At the start of our conversation, she proudly mentioned her daughter Rory Samantha Greene, also a writer, and her book, Playing Along. Then we talked about girl power, and about the strong female characters she writes. We focused on Lucky who has been the central and very strong character of many of Collins’ books. Collins said she loves Lucky because she does and says what many of us want to do and say and she gets away with it. Collins seemed to take pride in the fact that her female characters are for the most part strong and independent women who kick ass. And I can tell you that in The Santangelos, Lucky and the other female characters—everyone from Denver to Max to Willow to Venus—however flawed they may be do indeed woop some serious butt. (Here is a link to Collins’ wonderful message for women: IMG_2733)

We talked about Hollywood, Snoop Dog, and sex. We talked fashion (inappropriate or not) at the 2015 Met Gala. We talked sex (did I already mention that)? And we talked about men. And their endowments. Blush. (If you know me personally, you know I blushed a lot during the two-hour gabfest). In fact, Collins said that over the years several fans have told her that they learned everything they know about sex from her. If the writing thing doesn’t work out for Collins, I can totally see her carving out a successful career for herself as a sex therapist. Move over, Dr. Ruth!

jackie signing book

Collins also shared a little bit about her writing life. She writes at various desks  (and works at a different one for each novel or project she works on). She also writes the old fashioned way—in longhand. And she writes the world she sees and doesn’t hold back. After reading The Santangelos, it seemed clear to me that she has a pretty exciting life and lots of fodder around her about which to write. And at least for me, her gift as a writer is that she creates characters that really come to life. When reading The Santangelos, some of them practically jumped off the page and smacked me in the face at times. Even a week after finishing The Santangelos, I find myself thinking about them and what’s next for them.

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(Pictured above: yours truly with Tina Seitzinger of Socially Speaking Media)

When asked her advice for writers, she said her number one tip is to not talk about it but to do it and to write what you know. (You can learn more about Collins’ writing process and life if you click here.)

Of course because I'm a nutrition expert and fitness guru, I couldn't leave the lunch without asking Collins how she eats and how she stays so active and fit in the context of being a writer who sits a lot. She said she could do better when it comes to eating, and doesn't like to eat while she's writing because it makes her want to sleep. (I gave her a signed copy of my latest book, Younger Next Week, so I hope she'll like it and learn from it, not that she needs my help.) Collins also said that she stays active by swimming and  going to the gym (which is next to her study) where she does arm exercises and rides her life cycle or runs on the treadmill. Whatever she's doing is working, that's for sure, and I'm so glad I had the chance to get to know Collins at least a little bit. She's someone all of us (especially women) can be entertained by if not learn from!

To learn more about The Santangelos, a great guilty-pleasure summer or anytime read, click here. To learn more about the Santangelo family here.  

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of The Santangelos in exchange for a post about it on elisazied.com. As always, opinions are my own. Read my disclosure statement here.

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I recently had the pleasure of chatting via telephone with Tamara Ireland Stone. Self-described as a word lover, music addict, world traveler, and hyperproductive insomniac, the mother of two who resides with her family in California is the author of three wonderful books: Time Between Us and its sequel, Time After Time, and her brand new release, Every Last Word.

If you ask me which of Stone’s books I like best, I’d have to say it’s a toss-up. They are all beautifully written, and I especially enjoyed the sweet and complicated romance between Anna and Bennett in Stone’s first two books. If you’ve ever been a teenager in love, you know how exciting and complicated that can be. But imagine if your boyfriend had to travel through space and time to be with you? That’s Bennett’s blessing and curse, and it makes his relationship with Anna even more compelling and much more challenging. Stone makes us care about the characters and feel for each of them on their unique journey. I also got to know and understand the main characters because Stone gave each of them an opportunity to tell their story. Time Between Us is told from Anna’s perspective, and Time After Time is told from Bennett’s perspective.

Having an undergraduate degree in psychology, I also enjoyed reading Stone’s latest book, Every Last Word. It’s the story of Sam, a popular junior in high school who works hard to conceal her secret diagnosis, Purely Obsessional OCD, from her friends. The condition consumes Sam with deep-seeded worry and morbid thoughts. You really get a sense of what goes on inside Sam’s head and Stone does a wonderful job of showing how Sam finds ‘her people’—others with whom she feels she can be herself without fear of judgment or not being accepted. Don’t we all need and deserve this?

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When we spoke, it was clear that besides being a talented writer, Stone was friendly and  unpretentious despite all her success. Below are just a few things I learned about Stone as well as some of her sage advice for aspiring authors.

*Her favorite color is blue

*Her all-time literary hero is Judy Blume. Stone said, “Her books shaped my youth and were so meaningful to me as a teen. I related with her characters so closely; they really spoke to me. They felt like my friends and people I could talk to.” Amen to that!

*She does her best work in her windowed office usually between 9-3 when her kids are at school but also writes anywhere and everywhere on her iPhone

*She loves to snow ski and hike, and often writes while working out on an elliptical (Stone says she’s always in motion and likes to move often—something I can definitely relate to)

*When writing, she often listens to piano or guitar music without lyrics "so the words in the songs don’t compete with the words in my head," she said

*She does not write everyday unless she’s on deadline; she feels she writes better when she does it in big chunks several days a week rather than every day

*When asked about her writing process or style, Stone said she relates much more to a panter than to a plotter; however, she says that creating an extensive outline for Every Last Word made the writing process so much easier and more productive for her

*Stone says she owes everything to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators –you can learn about how she met her agent here. (Incidentally, I joined SCBWI several months ago and will attend my first annual conference this summer, so stay tuned.)

*As far as resources for novelists go, Stone recommends Save the Cat resources (even though technically they’re designed to help with screenplays); she likes to use the Save the Cat outline early in the process of writing a novel to help her figure out top to bottom how to tell the story and what happens. She says it helps her with the flow of the story and to not miss big moments.

At the end of our wonderful conversation, Stone offered one last piece of advice for aspiring novelists. She says that if you love to write – if it’s something that’s a part of you and if you really want to be published and want to get your words out there into the world – find 15 minutes, find a half hour. She admits that when she began on her novel writing journey, she stopped watching TV because she was more excited to be with Time Between Us (her first book) than to watch TV. As a former TV addict and someone who loves and is entrenched in writing my first YA novel, I can definitely relate!

To learn more about Tamara Ireland Stone and her work, visit her website here. To learn more about Every Last Word and her other books, visit Amazon or wherever books are sold. And if you're going to the launch of  Every Last Word at Books of Wonder in New York City (Manhattan) on 6/17/15 at 6 pm, please say hello!

 

 

 

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Being a writer and author and a long-time New York City resident, you'd think that by now I would have attended at least one BookExpo America (BEA). Can you believe that I never attended it? Until about a year ago, I considered myself more of an expert who wrote and who read for leisure only occasionally. Before then, I really didn’t know or think much about what the fuss about BEA was all about BEA. Having attended my first just last week, I can now say I get it.

A full-fledged lover of fiction, especially the kind that falls under the Young Adult category (I'm still 16-years-old at heart, aren't I?!), I can honestly say that BEA's self description on its website as "the largest publishing event in North America that gives you access to what's new, what's next, and everything exciting in the world of books” is all true. My first time was magical and did not disappoint in the least.

I thought it would be fun to share some thoughts about this past BEA—my own thoughts, and those of two fellow attendees (including a debut author) I met while there. If you attended and would like to share a comment about your experience, we’d love to hear from you!

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As for my experience, it was fantastic. Before the conference actually started, I attended the BEA Bloggers Conference. I did this because even though I’ve been blogging for years (not just for my own website, but for Parents.com, Today.com, USNews.com, and other outlets), there’s STILL so much for me to learn and to stay on top of. It was especially important for me to learn a few new things as I’m transitioning my current blog into a Food, Fitness, and Fiction blog that celebrates my two professional passions (food/nutrition and fitness) and my latest but sure to endure passion (fiction- especially young adult (YA) books). I’m especially excited to share author interviews and if you follow my blog I’ve already posted a few of them (thank you, Jennifer Niven, Densie Webb, Melissa Walker, and several others in the pipeline).

I enjoyed all the sessions I attended (see here), especially Tactics to Create Killer Content Fast. I also appreciated Optimizing Your WordPress Blog and even got some one-on-one help from one of the presenters, Rhys Jones, during lunch (see his interview below).

As for Day One of BEA, the highlights for me were attending the Young Adult Editors’ Buzz panel at which the following books were presented:

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (St. Martin’s Griffin, September 1, 2015) (I happened to sit next to the author, and she was so lovely and her book sounds fantastic.)

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte Press, September 1, 2015) – I read this and it’s fantastic and quite original; stay tuned for my interview with the author (pictured below)

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Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, October 13, 2015)

and

The Death And Life Of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At The Edge Of Empire by Daniel Kraus (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 25, 2015); and This Raging Light by Estelle Laure (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, January 5, 2016).

On Day Two, I attended the Children’s Book Author Breakfast. It was a fantastic panel moderated by Nathan Lane (pictured below) who presented Naughty Mabel, coauthored with Devlin Elliott and illustrated by Dan Krall (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, October 6, 2015).

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Artist/illustrator Oliver Jeffers entertained and delighted all of us with his drawings, and even a one-minute movie, and James Patterson talked about the need for us all to encourage young people to read. I loved ALL the presenters.

However, the absolute highlight of the breakfast for me was seeing the amazing Rainbow Rowell in person. She was humble, hilarious, and simply delightful. A tremendous fan of her work (especially Eleanor and Park, though I also really really enjoyed Fan Girl and Landline and will soon read Attachments), I was thrilled to hear her speak about her beginnings and even her insecurities. It’s great to know that no matter how accomplished a person is, we all are alike in our core in our doubts and insecurities. To me, she’s a rock star.

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So you can imagine how I felt when I met her (pictured above!), when she signed my books, and when she gave me a hug. A HUG!!!! I even wrote her a note and gave it to her to read at a later time. (I hope she read it. It was the second draft. I didn't want to come on TOO strong). Knowing I'm (just a little) obsessed with Rainbow, my husband said (jokingly) to just tell her “You complete me.” (If you’re reading this Rainbow, you DO complete me, and I adore you!)

 rainbow books rainbow ticket

But enough about me... Read on about the experiences of a UK student/blogger and a debut author at BEA.

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Name: Rhys Jones

Where you live: Canterbury, UK

Occupation: College student

Website: Thirst for Fiction (pictured above)

Favorite authors/books: Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy; Becky Albertalli, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda; Jenny Han, To All the Boys I've Loved Before; Elizabeth Wein, Black Dove, White Raven

Favorite book acquired at BEA: I only acquired two because of luggage restrictions (I'm backpacking) so I'm just gonna say both of them - Another Day (David Levithan) and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Jesse Andrews)

Favorite author(s) you met at BEA: Ruta Sepetys

Favorite panel(s) attended and why you loved it/them: N/A

Any mishap or low point or something or someone you missed that you regret? I wish I had met David Levithan, Jenny Han, and Katy McGarry

You can follow Rhys on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Instagram at @RhysWolfgang / thirstforfiction

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Name: Sarah J. Schmitt

Where you live: Indianapolis, IN

Occupation: Librarian/Author

Website: Sarah J Schmitt (pictured above)

Favorite authors/books: Libba Bray, Beauty Queens; Tina Fey, Bossypants; Candace Fleming, The Family Romanov; and J.R. Roper, The Hunter Awakens

Favorite book acquired at BEA: Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Favorite author(s) you met at BEA: Libba Bray, Rainbow Rowell, Julie Murphy, Kim Liggett, Kaitlin Ward, and Mo Willems

Anyone you wish you had met? In person, Nathan Lane... because he's Nathan Lane, and Oliver Jeffers

Favorite panel(s) attended and why you loved it/them. The Children's Author Breakfast was great! It was fun to hear about how other authors got started in writing and some of the struggles they have faced. Plus, Nathan Lane was the MC and he was hilarious!

Any mishap or low point or something you missed that you regret? Finding out that I was standing in line for almost an hour for a cupcake and foam shield from Disney. Still, I also got a free sample of Pinkberry while waiting, so it wasn't all bad. LOL.

You can follow Sarah and learn more about her upcoming book, It’s A Wonderful Death (she signed ARCS of it at BEA!), on twitter, facebook, and instagram at @SJSchmitt

Click here to receive updates from my Food, Fitness, and Fiction blog in your inbox.

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If you or a teen you know is looking for a summer read, you may want to consider Duplicity, a debut novel by N.K. Traver (Thomas Dunne Books, March 17, 2015). In exchange for a brief description and honest review of a book of her choice, I sent Jordan “Mack" McCormack, a 10th grade student from Asheville, North Carolina, a copy of Duplicity. A lover of fiction, Mack reads about six or seven books outside of those she reads for school each year. Her hobbies include horseback riding, running track, and photography. Here’s what she had to say about Duplicity.

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Duplicity is about a hacker who seems like a misunderstood 17-year-old boy named Brandon. He eventually meets the love of his life, only to be kidnapped through his computer to a center for criminal hackers. In his place is a cone who seems to be a perfectly good version of himself. Brandon must find his way back home with the help of a fellow inmate at the hacker center. He also has to find a way to fix his relationship with the girl he loves.

Even though I found a lot of mistakes that the editor didn’t catch and the plot was pretty predictable, I enjoyed the book. But what excited me most about it was the main character, Brandon. In many ways, he is very relatable. He is misunderstood, feels lost, and is just looking for a way to be noticed by the ones he loves most. His parents don't seem to pay much attention to him, and he does all these bad things to get their attention. I think a lot of teens do this and feel misunderstood by those around them.

Duplicity is an easy and super fast read. You won't notice how fast you have gone through the book until you get to the last two pages. at the last two pages. I think young teens between the ages of 11-14 would enjoy this book—especially those who like stories about a bad boy who falls in love with a good girl.

You can check out some other reviews of Duplicity here and on goodreads.

Note from Elisa: If you’re a young adult and would like to write a brief book review for my Food, Fiction, & Fitness blog, email me at elisa@elisazied.com with Book Review in the subject line.

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Over this last year, I've become a big reader. People often ask me, a working mom, how I have time to read. I don't really have time to read... I make time to read. I admit I often choose to read over watching TV, a favorite pastime of mine. I read on the treadmill or while commuting or even while hula hooping. I try to read a few books a month from the various piles of books all over out apartment.* And my favorite way to read is to binge read; my pattern as of late has been to read two or three books in the span of a week or so each month. I don't always make as much time as I'd like to read, but often make reading a book a reward for writing a certain amount (I'm about 2/3 done with the first draft of my novel: it ain't pretty, but the important thing is that I'm getting there and I absolutely love writing it).

When I look back on my adult life, I realize that the only reading I really truly ever loved was when it involved my kids. I read to and with my kids until they were in middle school. Our schedules have gotten more erratic and it has unfortunately been easy to put other things before reading together. And even though the last thing they want to do at ages 16 and 13 is to read with their mother, I am glad that I can show them the new found joy I get out of a good book. Sometimes they'll even indulge me and read what I'm reading. And I'll take sometimes!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked some of my favorite mothers to share two of their favorite books: a fiction book and a book they've read to or withtheir kids when they were young. Before I share their picks, here are two of mine:

Fiction: I love so many, but the one that stands out for me because it became part of my heart is I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. It’s outer-worldly and the characters are so beautifully developed. The story is mesmerizing and gorgeously fleshed out and reading it (twice!) made me feel every emotion imaginable. (You can read some of my other recent fiction picks here.)

Kid book: A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein. The book just celebrated its 50th anniversary since publication. I used to read it all the time to my sons when they were little. The rhyming, the rhythm, the story… they’re all magical.

Here are some other moms' favorite picks:

~Amy Nagler, mother of two

Fiction: I loved The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown because it gave me an idea of what it was like to live in the U.S. during the 1930's before WWII began.

Kid book: I loved reading Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter to my girls because it gave them some motivation to stop complaining.

~Jenny Starkey, mother of two

Fiction: My favorite recent books include Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is a very sweet story about a non-traditional mom and a daughter who loves her exactly as she is. When Bernadette goes missing after displaying increasingly odd behavior, her daughter delves into her e-mails to learn more about her mom as a person and everything she had been dealing with. It’s a good reminder that we moms don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be there.

I joke a lot to friends that “grown-upping is hard” and Dept. of Speculation takes a sad and sweet look at a marriage from beginning to middle and onward. It shows how children change your relationship for better (and for worse) but it also captures the beauty of a family and why you fight for it.

Kid book: Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney: It’s hard to be a working mom and I deal with guilt from time to time. I love this book because while they don’t specifically say that Llama Mama is off to a job, it shows little Llama at pre-school all day and helped both of my little ones understand that it’s OK to miss being around your mom during the day, but it’s also OK to really enjoy being at school. It also helps me remember the same for myself—that I can miss my kiddos but still enjoy my work.

~Nicky Rubens, mother of three

Fiction: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. This was a great read for me because it was relevant, true and deep but still light and filled with laughter.

Kid book: The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin. I have three daughters close in age and this was something I could read that we could all enjoy together, and the trilogy kept it coming.

~Vandana Sheth, mother of two

Fiction: Hard to pick one. Nora Roberts, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steele, and Lisa Scottoline are a few of my favorite authors. I like their books because they deal with human emotions, family dynamics, and often with a strong female character.

Kid book: The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I loved reading her books because they transported us to another place and because of the characters, details, and emotions they evoke.

~Karen Portugal-Whiton, mother of two

Fiction: I just read The Boarding House by Sharon Sala. A page turner. Could not believe the twist it took.

Kid book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Loved hearing my kids giggle with all the rhyming that goes on in it.

~Leslee Kunzinger, mother of three

Fiction: I really enjoyed the middle grade novel Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I loved how complex the characters were in a very understated way. (EZ note: I read this and really enjoyed it. Reading it made me want to adopt the main character, Willow. Just so damn lovable.)

Kid Book: We recently listened to the audio CD of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane every night before bed. We loved the first person account of this porcelain rabbit's journey of being cast aside and then of being united with new strangers who cared for him, and his internal "journey" of learning to love.

*Image of books I have yet to read via me.

What are some of your favorite fiction and kid reads? Share them in your comments below. And Happy Mother's Day! :)

 

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Check out the lesson I taught my mom, and other lessons taught by my RD/RDN colleagues and friends, in this Eat + Run piece for USNews.com.

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What would you add to this USNews.com list of underrated foods?

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Melissa Walker headshot

Melissa Walker and I have been connected via email for years. A former senior features editor at ELLEgirl and Seventeen Prom editor, Walker freelances for many magazines including Glamour, Teen Vogue, Fitness, Redbook, Marie Claire and More. In fact, she’s quoted me a number of times in articles she’s written for Fitness, Self, and You Beauty to name a few.

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Before last summer, I didn’t give more than a passing thought about the fact that, besides being a magazine writer and editor and freelancer, Walker was an accomplished young adult book author. She has penned eight young adult novels. EIGHT! These include her latest book, Dust to Dust, published this month by HarperCollins. Impressive, yes. But why would I, a grown woman who has spent her entire professional life reading and writing about health, food, and nutrition, have any real interest in young adult literature? After a series of events including my mother's unexpected illness (she's doing great, by the way, knock on wood), my personal and professional passions took a turn toward writing young adult fiction. So naturally, my eyes lit up when I checked out the enormous body of work Walker has successfully created. Did I mention she has written EIGHT young adult books?!

In awe of her talent and accomplishments, I decided to turn the tables on Walker and interview her via email about her career. Here are some highlights.

EZ: Did you always want to be a writer? What was the first thing you wrote and got paid for?

MW: I always loved writing and I dreamed of working at SASSY when I was a teenager in the 90s because it was such a cool magazine. My first published article that paid a significant amount was for BRIDE’s magazine—it was about how to be a good bridesmaid, and I remember thinking it was a BOONDOGGLE to get $1/word. I was so excited.

EZ: What’s the most gratifying part about writing for teens?

MW: Things matter to teenage readers in a way that they don’t to most adults. They are invested in the characters, and they don’t have as much of a filter about telling you what they LOVE and what they HATE. I enjoy that raw reaction so much more than the polite stuff.

EZ: I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed one of your books, Unbreak My Heart. For those who haven’t read it, it’s a very sweet story about a girl named Clem who’s trying to overcome a broken heart and starts to do just that over the summer on her family’s sailboat. Where did you get the idea for the book, and are most of your ideas for your books drawn more from your past experiences or your imagination or some combination of both?

MW: My parents always had a sailboat when I was growing up, and when I was a teenager I wanted to be ANYWHERE but on the boat with them. I knew it would be a good setting. As for the broken heart stuff, details are always changed, of course. Emotions, though? Straight outta real life.

EZ: You are a prolific writer and have churned out an impressive number of books as well as articles and blogs for magazines and websites. Is there a medium/form of writing that you find the most challenging/grueling, and do you find it difficult to switch gears while working on multiple projects?

MW: I like both fiction and nonfiction for different reasons, and being able to do both is a real pleasure. Right now I have two small children, so I don’t always feel like I have time to do both, and I have to pause on one in order to focus on another. But in a past life I used to write fiction in the mornings and magazine stories in the afternoon, and I hope to get back to that schedule once my girls are a little older. There’s definitely a separation that I need to do each type of writing well, and breaking the time up that way helped my brain switch gears.

EZ: Do you have any set writing schedule? And how do you keep yourself organized?

MW: Oh, I used to! And I aspire to again one day. But in the meantime, I like reading other people’s answers to this question because I’m a big ball of “each day is different and none feel that productive” at the moment!

EZ: What advice would you give someone who wants to write books for teens (especially for someone like me who’s already a writer but wants to try something new, or someone who’s brand new to book writing but wants to write for the young adult market)?

MW: I would say not to try to write for teenagers, just write for people and if the story you’re telling has teenagers at its core, so be it. Also, look back, remember the FEELINGS you had when you were 15/16/17. If you get the emotions right, the rest of the details will fall into place.

EZ: Can you share a few of your favorite writing resources?

MW: My favorite “craft” book is BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott, and I also like Stephen King’s ON WRITING. Lately I’ve been really into podcasts. Sara Zarr’s THIS CREATIVE LIFE is fantastic, and Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden’s WRITING IN REAL LIFE (this one’s new) talks a lot about balancing writing and parenting, which is of particular interest to me at this moment in time. I can listen to these when I take my new baby on long walks, and it helps to think about writing, even if I’m having trouble finding the time to actually DO it these days.

EZ: What’s your favorite color?

MW: Carolina Blue (Go Heels!).

EZ: What’s your favorite book(s) and/or authors?

MW: I read and re-read Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy because something in it really struck me as true, but my favorite book as a teenager was probably Gone With the Wind. I am also no stranger to Judy Blume, of course (who made me feel normal whenever I feared I wasn’t).

EZ: What would you do for a living if you didn’t write?

MW: Edit. (Is that cheating?)

EZ: Where do you think you’ll be professionally and personally in 5 years (still writing? More YA books in your future?)

MW: I hope to keep writing books—really my goal is to be in this for the long haul and keep telling stories for as long as I can!

EZ: What’s your favorite place/way to write?

MW: Cafes with no Wi-Fi and great foamy coffees.

EZ: What’s the hardest part about writing for you?

MW: The first draft. It always feels so hopeless and messy. Revising is easier once it’s all spilled on the page.

EZ: Anything else you want to share about yourself with readers?

MW:  I really really love talking on twitter. It feels like I have co-workers there in the writing community, and I highly recommend it.

EZ: Anything else you want to share about yourself with aspiring writers?

MW: Make time to read. This is more a “note to self” than anything else, because I don’t give myself enough reading time. But I should. And I plan to. It’ll make me a better writer.

Image of Melissa Walker via Marcie Hume.

To learn more about Melissa and her terrific work, check out her website. You can also follow her on Twitter (@melissawalker) and on Instagram (MelissaWalkerAuthor).

To receive my Food, Fitness, and Fiction blog in your inbox, subscribe here.

 

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Check out some top picks to make your spice rack complete in this Greatist list.

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Think your diet is healthy? Even so-called healthy foods can backfire if you overdo them. Check out RDN comments (including mine) in the Chicago Tribune.

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