Barbara O'Neal's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Barbara O'Neal Why we love her: We LOVED her last book, How to Bake a Perfect Life and couldn't wait for the next one!

Her latest book: The Garden of Happy Endings

The scoop on it: After tragedy shatters her small community in Seattle, the Reverend Elsa Montgomery has a crisis of faith. Returning to her hometown of Pueblo, Colorado, she seeks work in a local soup kitchen. Preparing nourishing meals for folks in need, she keeps her hands busy while her heart searches for understanding.

Meanwhile, her sister, Tamsin, as pretty and colorful as Elsa is unadorned and steadfast, finds her perfect life shattered when she learns that her financier husband is a criminal. Enduring shock and humiliation as her beautiful house and possessions are seized, the woman who had everything now has nothing but the clothes on her back.

But when the going gets tough, the tough get growing. A community garden in the poorest, roughest part of town becomes a lifeline. Creating a place of hope and sustenance opens Elsa and Tamsin to the renewing power of rich earth, sunshine, and the warm cleansing rain of tears. While Elsa finds her heart blooming in the care of a rugged landscaper, Tamsin discovers the joy of losing herself in the act of giving—and both women discover that with time and care, happy endings flourish.

Our thoughts: Perfect Mother's Day gift for your favorite Mom! Or anyone else for that matter.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners May 13 after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: Barbara has a blog called Writer Afoot-check it out!


1.  Get a sport.  I don’t care what you choose (as long as it isn’t a ball sport, because you and I both know that we have very little coordination and are chosen last for team sports for a reason).   But go ahead, join the cross country team or the swim team—you’ll have fun and make better friends and will be forced to stop the silly smoking thing way before you get lines around your mouth.

2.  You are so much smarter than you think you are.  All those counselors trying to get you to go to college, telling you that you’re smart and you’ll like it and they can find you the money?  Listen to them.  Smart is better that hot and you’re going to end up in college anyway in a couple of years, at which time the guy you think you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT is going to be pissed off and you’ll end up leaving him. Let me say it again: smart will get you a lot more satisfaction than being hot. Not that hotness is bad.

3. Trust your sisters.  They are going to be in your corner for so much longer than anyone else you know right now.   They might be annoying, but hey, you’re annoying, too, and they still love you.  Even when you borrow shirts without asking.

4.  High school will not last forever. I promise.  It’s boring and exhausting and the hours are incredibly irritating, but college will be fantastic.  You will love it and you will finally get to explore all the things you think are incredibly interesting—writing, of course, but also photography and life drawing and anthropology and psychology and horticulture. The parties are great, but the classes are even better.

5.  There are approximately 150 million young men in the world.  A lot of them will be interesting and exciting to you, so don’t put up with guys who cannot hold a conversation and only want to go out to their friends’ houses and drink beer.  Find somebody who likes the things you do, which is talking and writing and thinking and movies, and hang out with HIM.  Smart guys will bring more satisfaction than a merely hot one. Not that hotness is bad.

Thanks Barbara!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Barbara, head on over to her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.