Jennifer Tress' 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

You're Not Pretty Enough by Jennifer TressOur guest today: Jennifer Tress Why we love her: She tells it like it is!

Her latest: You're Not Pretty Enough

The Scoop: From the "Sex Papers" Jen drew as a four-year-old when her mom was pregnant with her younger sister, to her sole teenage act of rebellion: going to church. "We're very disappointed in you," her nonreligious parents said. When she was sixteen Jennifer fell in love with Jon Bon Jovi and felt certain that if he just met her, he'd feel exactly the same way. They met all right. But that's not what happened. At twenty-three Jen married her college sweetheart and divorced him at twenty-six after he'd had an affair. Affairs happen every day. What doesn't happen every day? The wife and the girlfriend meeting at a bar, discovering they liked each other, and then confronting Jen's husband that same night. The true stories contained her are smart, uproarious and utterly relatable. Told chronologically and chock full of truths, You're Not Pretty Enough provides an example of how to be comfortable in your own skin and ultimately live a full life (even if you screw up, royally, along the way).

From the “Sex Papers” Jen drew as a four-year-old when her mom was pregnant with her younger sister to her sole teenage act of rebellion: going to church. “We’re very disappointed in you,” her nonreligious parents said. When she was sixteen, Jennifer fell in love with Jon Bon Jovi and felt certain that if he just met her, he’d feel exactly the same way. They met all right. But that’s not what happened.

At twenty-three Jen married her college sweetheart and divorced him at twenty-six after he’d had an affair. Affairs happen every day. What doesn’t happen every day? The wife and the girlfriend meeting at a bar, discovering they liked each other, and then confronting Jen’s husband that same night.

Smart, uproarious and utterly relatable You’re Not Pretty Enough is chock full of truths and provides an example of how to be comfortable in your own skin and ultimately live a full life (even if you screw up, royally, along the way).

- See more at:

From the “Sex Papers” Jen drew as a four-year-old when her mom was pregnant with her younger sister to her sole teenage act of rebellion: going to church. “We’re very disappointed in you,” her nonreligious parents said. When she was sixteen, Jennifer fell in love with Jon Bon Jovi and felt certain that if he just met her, he’d feel exactly the same way. They met all right. But that’s not what happened.

At twenty-three Jen married her college sweetheart and divorced him at twenty-six after he’d had an affair. Affairs happen every day. What doesn’t happen every day? The wife and the girlfriend meeting at a bar, discovering they liked each other, and then confronting Jen’s husband that same night.

Smart, uproarious and utterly relatable You’re Not Pretty Enough is chock full of truths and provides an example of how to be comfortable in your own skin and ultimately live a full life (even if you screw up, royally, along the way).

- See more at:

Our thoughts: Three words: Laugh. Out. LOUD!

Giveaway: ONE copy!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  We'll choose the winners on Sunday December 8th after 3pm PST.

Where to read more about Jennifer: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Jennifer Tress auhtor photo1. Remember that you are more than your body. Your breasts will come in at around 12 and they will be big right from the start. You’re a little taller than average, and since you have a well-proportioned body in that hourglass way, you will get unwelcome and sometimes unseemly attention from grown men. The deli guy, even a teacher or two, will give you that explicit, expressionless up and down or a direct verbal innuendo. At first you will feel shame and you will hide your “assets” under baggy clothes. You will turn off your personality, and look down to the ground so that you don’t make eye contact. It will make you unhappy for a little while, until you…

2. Choose empowerment. As you get to be a sophomore, you’ll realize you have some control over that leering behavior and how you react in the face of it. You’ll realize you’re just becoming a woman and hey these boobs ain’t half bad! And, wouldn’t it be fun if I could force the creepy dudes to face their creepy behavior? So you’ll go into Spencer Gifts at the mall and buy a smallish red pin with white lettering. And it will say “Stop Staring At My Tits” and you will wear it on the jean jacket you wear every day (with Jon Bon Jovi’s face inked on the back) and place it strategically…over your breasts. And you will laaaaugggh (in your head) when the deli guy reads it and looks you in the face by mistake and then quickly looks away, ashamed.

3. Putting out is not going to make you popular. You will try this time and time again (way past your teens, even) not realizing that you’re seeking validation that you’re pretty/good enough or using it as a trophy that says “hey…I just made it with this dude and he’s popular, so that must make me…[fill in the blank].” The problem is, if you don’t fill in the blank, they will; with “a slut,” or “pathetic,” or whatever. Putting out doesn’t make you a slut. It makes you sexual. And if you’re sexual in a way that shows respect for yourself, and you engage when you’re mature enough to handle it, that’s healthy. Putting out to fill a void is not, however. So…

4. Make choices that honor you. If you’re in that moment where you’re leading up to something sexual or otherwise unhealthy, and something starts nagging at you like, I don’t really want to do this, but I don’t want to look like a prude/disappoint anyone, listen to it. Say, “you know what? I’m not ready for this.” So what if the guy or a peer is disappointed? You made a choice that honored you. When you’re 15, you’ll go out with a guy a couple years older who will be mad (or embarrassed?) that you didn’t have sex with him so he lied and told people you did. When you hear the rumor, you’ll catch him in the hallway, pull him by your locker and say, “you better tell people the truth, or I’ll just tell everyone you had a really, really small…” Guess what? Things got better.

5. Continue to invest time in activities that light you up and get you excited. You will do that with theater and writing and art throughout your high school experience, but you’ll push those passions aside in favor of a more practical path once you enter college. Hey, you come from a long line of hard workers who tow that heavy line into the sweet shores of responsible career choices and savings accounts. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just...if the world could deliver me a time machine where I could go back to you as a teen, then instead of merely dipping our toes into la vie boheme, we would wade up to our middle, take a long swim, and then decide.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Meg Waite Clayton's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Wednesday Daughters book coverToday's guest: Meg Waite Clayton Why we love her: Her writing draws us in from page one.

Her latest: The Wednesday Daughters (Out July 16th!)

The scoop: It is early evening when Hope Tantry arrives at the small cottage in England’s pastoral Lake District where her mother, Ally, spent the last years of her life. Ally—one of a close-knit group of women who called themselves the Wednesday Sisters—had used the cottage as a writer’s retreat while she worked on her unpublished biography of Beatrix Potter, yet Hope knows little about her mother’s time there. Traveling with Hope are friends Anna Page and Julie, first introduced as little girls in The Wednesday Sisters, now grown women grappling with issues of a different era. They’ve come to help Hope sort through her mother’s personal effects, yet what they find is a tangled family history—one steeped in Lake District lore.

Hope finds a stack of Ally’s old notebooks tucked away in a hidden drawer, all written in a mysterious code. As she, Julie, and Anna Page try to decipher Ally’s writings—the reason for their encryption, their possible connection to the Potter manuscript—they are forced to confront their own personal struggles: Hope’s doubts about her marriage, Julie’s grief over losing her twin sister, Anna Page’s fear of commitment in relationships. And as the real reason for Ally’s stay in England comes to light, Hope, Julie, and Anna Page reach a new understanding about the enduring bonds of family, the unwavering strength of love, and the inescapable pull of the past.

Our thoughts: A layered and rich novel, we love this follow-up to The Wednesday Sisters!

Giveaway: ONE copy. Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winner on Sunday, July 14th at 3pm PST.

Fun fact: Check out this special pre-order offer!

Where you can read more about Meg: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Meg Waite Clayton author photo1. Embrace Your Brains.

Smart girls are sexy, at least to the right kind of guy. And who wants the wrong kind? But more importantly, who you are is going to be a lot more important to you than who your date is—or if it isn’t you are in big trouble.

But while you’re at it, check out that guy sitting next to you in honors math. In twenty years, he’s going to look a whole lot better than some of those jocks, and be much better company. Honestly, he’s a better bet for the prom, too.

 2. Success Starts with Being Willing to Fail.

There is some possibility your mom and dad are already telling you this, but all that Catholic girls-are-meant-to-be-perfect stuff is getting in the way. Perfect is boring, and while success is nice, safe success is nothing compared to taking risks. If you want to be every thing you were meant to be, giving up worrying about failing and reach. It might feel sort of like driving too fast, but you know you like that too.

3. Appreciate Your Neck.

There are so many parts of you that are that you’re missing as you’re appling the benzoil peroxide. I’m sorry to report that the acne is not ever going away. Seriously. You have a beautiful neck.

4. Don’t Ever Think You Can’t.

See #2 above. You won't know how much you can do until you try.

 5. Make Sure “The One” Will Do His Share of the Laundry.

You hate doing laundry already. What makes you think you’re going to like doing twice as much? Any guy who respects you is going to want to do his share of the drudge work. Don’t settle for less.

Thanks, Meg!

Yona Zeldis McDonough's 5 Things I'd tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Yona Zeldis McDonough Why we love her: In a nutshell, she writes novels that excite us.

Her latest: A Wedding in Great Neck

The scoop on it: An effervescent yet deep story about family and the ways in which the powerful ties that bind us can also cut us off and keep us apart. Taking place in a single day, A Wedding In Great Neck follows the Silverstein clan as they come together for nuptials of the youngest daughter, Angelica. Angelica is the family’s golden girl—intelligent, beautiful and accomplished, she is both everyone’s favorite, and the object of much envy and resentment.  She has planned a fairy tale wedding to her Israeli fiancé—a former fighter pilot—and is determined to have everything go perfectly.  But things do not go according to plan, and there are complications, dramas and confrontations at every turn.

Our thoughts: There's nothing like a wedding to bring out the best kind of family drama. McDonough nails it in this entertaining novel that unfolds over the course of just one day (love that!).

Giveaway: FIVE copies. Leave a comment to be entered to win and we'll select the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, October 22nd.

Fun fact: She also writes non-fiction and children's books. C'mon Yona, you're just making us all look bad here! :)

Where you can read more about Yona: Her website.


1. Stop worrying about your nose/hair/eyes/thighs etc.  Whether you know it or not, you are at the peak of your physical beauty, right here, right now.  Don’t spend a single second of your precious youth thinking you are insufficient because you don’t resemble a highly made-up, superbly lit, airbrushed image of a model.  Don’t just enjoy, but revel in the loveliness that is you.

2. Learn to save money.  I know, it’s the last thing you want to think about.  But it’s a great habit to develop early and it will last you throughout your life.  Sure it’s fun to spend your allowance or hard-earned cash on pizza and prom dresses, but make sure you tuck a little aside on a regular basis. Set up a saving account and make a pact with yourself not to touch it until you are at least eighteen, or even twenty-one if you can stand it.  You’d be surprised with what you can accomplish with a little fiscal willpower. And when you want to pay for a car or a trip to Europe, you’ll have your stash all ready and waiting.

3.  Explore your creative side to the fullest.  Remember when you were a little kid? You were unafraid to draw, paint, dance, sing and engage in just about any other artistic pursuit you could.  But as we grow older, we grow critical of our efforts, and we gradually lose the habit of creativity. Don’t.  Even if you aren’t an artist/writer/performer, give yourself the gift of creative expression.  Keep a journal or diary. Write poetry.  Take a dance class or sit on the beach with a sketchpad and pencil.  Don’t surrender the joy of expressing yourself through a variety of creative outlets—ever.

4. Get over the mean girl stuff.  Let me tell you a secret: mean girls are insecure girls.  Confident girls have the generosity to be kind and openhearted. Don’t build yourself up by tearing someone else down; it puts you in a bad light.  Focus on your own talents, abilities, goals and dreams; you won’t have the time—or the need—to be a mean girl.

5.  Give back.  By this I mean step outside your world and your concerns and do some small thing to help someone else.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, daycare center or animal shelter.  Help clean up a park or work in a community garden. Adolescence is a particularly fraught time and it’s easy to get caught up in your own life: school, friends, and boys. But when you can step back and help someone else, it puts your own problems in perspective and they may not seem as big or daunting any more.  Added bonus: helping someone else gives you a sense of satisfaction and happiness that just won’t quit—promise!

Thanks, Yona! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Keith Price

Marisa de los Santos' 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Marisa de los Santos Why we love her: Very simple: her writing is beautiful!

Her latest: the paperback of Falling Together

The Scoop: It's been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can't refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey around the world, with Pen's five-year-old daughter and Cat's hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.

Our thoughts: We couldn't put this one down-LOVE it!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Sunday October 7th after 6pm PST.

Fun Fact: Marisa has a Ph.D in English and creative writing.

Where you can read more about Marisa: Check her out on Facebook!


1. That thing where you dumb yourself down to be more popular? Forget it.  If it ever worked at all, and high school is just a goofy enough place that it might have, it never works anywhere else.  Ever.  And whether it works or not, every time you keep your burning opinions to yourself or laugh at the cute boy’s really dumb joke or pretend, eyelashes fluttering, that you just don’t get it, a tiny part of your soul goes into hibernation and you’ll have to work way too hard later to wake it up. Don’t get me wrong:  you’re not a genius.  But you are quick, articulate, passionate, full of ideas, some of them good, and you really do know that George Eliot is a woman (a smart one).  The world needs girls like you.  Let your brainy girl flag fly.

2. Enjoy your mother as much as you possibly can. I’m not talking about love.  As a mother myself, I can tell you that even when you are at your most sarcastic, snarliest, eye-rolling worst, she will know that you love her almost more than you can bear.  What I mean is when you’re with her, singing at the top your lungs to records in the basement, talking about a book you’ve both read, dancing, listening to her ringing, ravishing laugh, really be there.  When you are in your twenties, she will be diagnosed with MS and over the years, will lose so much.  The singing voice, the dancing, the ability to stay up with you late into the night.  Drink her up.  Cherish her.

3. Believe this: you are pretty enough.  I’m not just saying that.  Despite the terrible ‘80s hair and the eye shadow, you are lovely.  One day, you’ll have a ten year old daughter who will dance all over the house, so luminous, so at home inside her skin, and you will ache with wanting her to hold onto it, the easy knowledge of her own fabulousness.  So you do it:  stop the dieting; wipe off at least half the makeup; love your legs because they’re strong; lose the dark streaks on the side of your nose that are meant to make it look like Brooke Shields’s. They don’t and your nose is fine.  Trust me.

4. And while we’re on the subject, stop wanting to be blond.  Yes, your friend Allison is beautiful, but your dark hair, brown skin, and black eyes are their own brand of awesome.  Not because of the men who will call you “exotic” (and there will be plenty, most of them creepy), but because they’re yours and they come from someplace.  Right after you stop being a teenager (and I promise it will end), you’ll go to the Philippines where your dad was born, and you’ll fall in love with the place and with his family—your family.  And you’ll realize that to want to be blond is to deny those beautiful people and to want to look like you is to embrace them.  Plus, blond means a lifetime of maintenance, and when it comes to crap like that, you will be forever and hopelessly lazy.

5. Learn how to do stuff.  Seriously.  Wit and a way with words will get you pretty far, but at some point, you’ll need to cook something or fix something or put a coat of paint on something or read an instruction manual and make something run, and the older you get, the harder it will be to learn.  So start now:  program your VCR, fry an egg.  I know you can do it.

Thanks Marisa!  xoxo, L&L

Charity Shumway's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Charity Shumway Why we love her: Her witty and insightful narrative is addicting!

Her debut: Ten Girls To Watch

The scoop: Like so many other recent graduates, Dawn West is trying to make her way in New York City. She’s got an ex-boyfriend she can’t quite stop seeing, a roommate who views rent checks and basic hygiene as optional, and a writing career that’s gotten as far as penning an online lawn care advice column.

So when Dawn lands a job tracking down the past winners of Charm magazine’s “Ten Girls to Watch” contest, she’s thrilled. After all, she’s being paid to interview hundreds of fascinating women: once outstanding college students, they have gone on to become mayors, opera singers, and air force pilots. As Dawn gets to know their life stories, she’ll discover that success, love, and friendship can be found in the most unexpected of places. Most importantly, she’ll learn that while those who came before us can be role models, ultimately, we each have to create our own happy ending.

Our thoughts: A dazzling debut! Seriously loved this one and we think you will too.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, October 7th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

Fun Fact: Charity has a green thumb and runs a super cute site called Spade & Spatula!

Where you can read more about Charity: her website, Facebook and Twitter.


 1. Effort is not embarrassing. As a teenager, I had this idea that trying was deeply uncool, and so there were plenty of things I would have enjoyed or that would have been good for me (say, wearing eyeshadow, taking the time to revise papers, or talking to boys...ever) that I simply cut myself off from. I’d tell teenage me that it’s worth the risk to put yourself out there every now and again.

2. Your journals are priceless. I wrote in a journal every night from 7th grade through my senior year of college. Those journals are hilarious and grimace-inducing and touching. I’d just like to say to teen me: thank you. Grown up me is grateful you took the time to write all that down.

3. Figure out a way to get out of the country. I didn’t travel anywhere till after college, and wow, the world is a wonderful place. I’d give teen me pamphlets for study abroad, get her a weekend job and an account where she can stash the cash, and get her on a plane.

4. Be nicer to your sister. I’m five years older than my younger sister, and now she’s one of my best friends in the world. But when I was a teenager, I pretty much ignored her or scorned her. She didn’t exactly have it easy in our family, and I wish I could go back and make teen me pay attention.

5. Ditch the barrettes. Just sayin.

Thanks Charity! xoxo, L&L

Maya Bank's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Maya Banks Why we love her: When we're fixin' for some romance, we reach for Maya's books!

Her latest: Softly at Sunrise

The scoop: Rachel Kelly has traveled a long, hard road in her journey back to her husband, Ethan, and the Kelly family. Now, as she and Ethan are poised to move into their new home, safe behind the walls of the Kelly compound, Rachel wonders if she’ll finally be free of the ghosts that have haunted her for so long and if she’ll step into the sun after a past steeped in darkness.

Our thoughts: If you need a little romance if your life(and who doesn't?), then this one is for you!

Giveaway: THREE e-Copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners after 6pm on Sunday September 16th.

Fun Fact: Maya loves to go hunting and fishing with her family!

Where you can read more about Maya: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


1. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up.

2. Enjoy life while your responsibilities are fewer.

3. Don’t take so much to heart. It’s never as bad as it seems.

4. Don’t let others define you.

5. Be fierce. Always.


Thanks Maya!  xoxo, L&L


Jody Gehrman's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Jody Gehrman Why we love her: Her words leap off the page! So. Much. Fun!

Her latest: Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft

The Scoop: Falling in Love, baking a magical cake, fighting an evil necromancer—it’s all in a day’s work for Audrey Oliver, seventeen-year-old witch-in-training. When her mother goes missing and her twenty-one-year-old witchy cousin shows up out of the blue, Audrey knows something’s gone horribly, dangerously wrong. Now it’s up to her to get her own magical powers up to speed before everyone she loves is destroyed by the sorcerer intricately connected to her mother’s secret past.

Our thoughts: Liz, our YA/New Adult whore, er, we mean expert, LOVED LOVED LOVED it.   Perfect Halloween reading! And priced at 2.99, there's no reason not to download it right now! Seriously, Jody, when is the next installment coming?

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and you'll be entered. We'll choose the winners on Sunday, September 16th after 6pm PST.

Fun Fact: Jody's YA novel, Babe in Boyland was recently optioned by Disney!

Where you can read more about Jody: Her website, or Twitter.


1. Embrace Your Weirdness: You won't fool anyone by trying to pass as "normal," and if you flaunt your own freakiness it may seem kind of cool someday.

2. True Love is Not a Myth: Despite the many divorces you'll witness and the cynical phases you'll pass through, know this: Your dude is out there, and he's amazing. Plus he cooks, so don't worry if you're not a mini Martha Stewart.

3. Dreaminess is Not a Crime: In fact, someday people will pay you to dream up stories for them. Score!

4. Your Parents Are Awesome: Sure, you'll go through your "my parents messed me up" phase, but really, they're incredible. And they work hard to ensure your happiness, so hug them often.

5. Art Matters: You kind of know this already, but cling to it. Again and again, art will save your life.

Thanks Jody! xoxo, L&L

Jane Porter's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Jane Porter Why we love her: Her novels, Flirting with Forty and She's Gone Country are two of our faves!

Her latest: The Good Woman (Out today: September 4th.)

The scoop on it: Is it possible to leave it all behind? The firstborn of a large Irish-American family, Meg Brennan Roberts is a successful publicist, faithful wife, and doting mother who prides herself on always making the right decisions. But years of being “the good woman” have taken a toll and though her winery career thrives, Meg feels burned out and empty, and more disconnected than ever from her increasingly distant husband. Lonely and disheartened, she attends the London Wine Fair with her boss, ruggedly handsome vintner, Chad Hallahan. It’s here, alone together in an exotic city, far from “real” life, that Chad confesses his long-standing desire for Meg.

Overwhelmed, flattered, and desperately confused, Meg returns home, only to suddenly question every choice she’s ever made, especially that of her marriage. For Meg, something’s got to give, and for once in her life she flees her responsibilities—but with consequences as reckless and irreversible as they are liberating. Now she must decide whether being the person everyone needs is worth losing the woman she was meant to be.

Read chapter one and two here.

Our thoughts: Engaging and heartfelt, we hated to reach the final page. But there's good news: This is the first book of three!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll pick the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, September 10th.

Fun fact: Jane also writes romance novels.

Where you can read more about Jane: Twitter, Facebook, her blog and her website.


(NOTE: Photo of Jane as a teen also included! She looks exactly the same!)

1. You are not fat and you do not have a big butt.  In fact, your thighs and butt are the smallest now they will ever be so stop obsessing about your body and enjoy the fact that it doesn’t jiggle and ache.   And while we’re discussing your body, lets talk about something that’s a little nit picky but its been bothering me for awhile:  Please, please stop using flesh colored Clearasil.  It doesn’t look natural and its not invisible and it its obvious you’re trying to cover up a pimple.   You’re not hiding anything, you’re just making the zit look worse.

2. Jane, Jane,’re a swimmer, not a cheer leader, a book worm, not a model.  The football players don’t dig you and you’re never going to be popular.  But that’s okay.  It’s okay to not be popular.  In fact, being unpopular will prove to be very good for you.  It will a) give you stories for the future, and b) help you push yourself harder, dream bigger, and take greater risks because you’ve got something to prove, and you can, because you’re not constantly worrying about what the popular crowd thinks.

3. Those guys that seemed so hot in high school?   A little secret, teen Jane: they’re not so hot later.   Sure, they look great now to your 16 year old eyes because they hit puberty earlier than others, and have been shaving since they were thirteen, but those skinny, short, nerdy guys you don’t even notice right now?  They change.  They become the real heartbreakers.  They’re the hunks of the future, as well as the brainy, cool mavericks who transform the world as we know it.

4. To have the life you want to have, to get to where you want to go, you’re going to have to fight hard.  You’re going to have to work hard.  Really hard.  There will be a lot of obstacles in the way, and a lot of naysayers telling you that you’re wrong, and you can’t succeed, but they don’t know you, Jane.   I do, though, and I’m going to tell you something that’s really important: gird yourself.  Be prepared to take some hard hits on the way.  The hits won’t feel good, but they won’t destroy you.  Some hits will hurt more than others, and you might fall down and cry, but you’re tough.  You’re strong.  Get up.  Shake yourself off.   And keep going.  As long as you’re resilient and tenacious you really can do anything.  You can be anyone you want to be.  It’s your life.  It’s your dream.  Fight for it.  Always.

5. Lastly, Jane, you don’t have to please everyone.  In fact, you don’t have to please anyone as long as you’re happy with you.  (Hard to believe when you’re a pleaser, but it’s true).   But how to be happy with yourself?  Stop apologizing for being yourself.   There’s nothing wrong with you.  Sure, you’re geeky and emotional and socially awkward, but that’s part of your charm.   It’s who you are, and your real friends accept the real you.  So stop looking outward for truth, and those answers you think everyone has.  (They don’ least, they don’t have the answers you want for you.)  It’s time you realized you have the answers already.  They’re there in your head, and your heart, and lucky you, it’s a good heart.   And it’s a heart that needs to be protected.  So protect yourself, and your heart, and be the person you want to be because that’s the only way you’ll ever be happy.  Loving yourself will allow you to love everyone else and you’ll have the happy ever after you’ve always wanted.

Thanks, Jane! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Author photo credit: Kira Stewart Photography

Suzy Duffy's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me plus EXCLUSIVE excerpt!

Our guest today: Suzy Duffy Why we love her: She's freakin' SASSY and we love it!

Her latest: Wellesley Wives (Out September 27th!)

The Scoop: Popsy Power - a Boston society-wife and her best friend, Sandra seem to have it all with billionaire husbands and beautiful daughters. But things change.

From Bollinger to basic-wage, it's a roller coaster for the ladies who lunch. When the daughters land in a heap of trouble too, it's hardly surprising that their mother should worry about the next generation of Wellesley Wives.

Life can't always be fun in the sun, but that's why there's fur!

Our thoughts: This one definitely put a smile on our face!

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners after 6pm on Monday, September 3rd.

Fun fact: Suzy provided CLIND with an exclusive excerpt-see below!

Where to read more about Suzy: her website, Facebook and Twitter.


To a teen me, I’d say … SMILE

Style. Don’t buy a pair of jeans just because they’re three bucks.  Chances are, there’s a reason they didn’t sell at full price.  Save your money. Buy one quality item instead of four flashy fiascos.  Classic style always wins over this year’s fad.  (Ankle warmers were my personal downfall – what was I thinking??)

Men.  They really aren’t as complicated as we make them out to be!  A guy will usually say what’s on his mind – up front, straight out. We women overanalyse everything they mumble. If he likes you, he’ll call. If he doesn’t call, he not into you. It’s that simple.  Don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. Just move on to the next one.  There are loads of them!!

Intent. Live your life with Intent. This isn’t a dress rehearsal – push yourself to be the best you, you can be.  Work hard at school because you’ll get a better job and have more money to blow on the things you love. It’s worth the effort. I remember thinking that life was lame when I was a teenager. I was wrong. It was me who was lame (those bloody hormones!) Your life is what you make it. This is your shot, your adventure, your rules. Gulp down life, enjoy every moment and make yours great.

Love your parents; even if they’re driving you nuts at the moment.  Believe me, if they’re annoying you, then you’re annoying them too. This will pass and if you’re lucky, one day you’ll be friends.  Sadly, they’ll be leaving this world before you, so cherish the time you have with them. Love your close friends too. Respect them. Be a loyal friend and never speak about them behind their backs.  Even when you move up and on in life and meet lots of other great people, nothing will ever take the place of your best friends through your teenage years. Fall in Love. Don’t be afraid.  You’ll probably get your heart broken once or twice before you find the final love of your life but we all go through that. The pain will pass and it’s better than watching from the sidelines.

Everybody else. I remember the teen years being very rough in the friend department.  Everybody seems to blow hot and cold. Nobody is fun and the cool girls are all bitches.  The good news is you’re not going nuts. Your world really is like that – it’s not your imagination.  All teens are wildly neurotic and moody. It’s the hormones, the same ones that bring along all those zits.  Hey, I’d forgotten how tough being a teenager is! But, when your hormones are done, you’re going to look like the X factor winning version of yourself. Having come through it - let me tell you, it’s worth it. Hang in there. Regarding the bitches; it’s a fact of life that the girls on the top through the teen years are never on top in later life. They’ve peaked too soon and your time to shine is just around the corner, when it really matters…

And if all else fails – SMILE, it makes everybody feel you know something they don’t.

Any questions just mail me

Lots of love,

Suzy Duffy (ex-teen)



Jenny Lennox was a consummate hostess. Because she’d chosen to live farther out of town, she had more land. In Wellesley, where Popsy lived, real estate was at its priciest. To have a pool at the end of the garden, which of course she had, was considered an achievement. But living just fifteen miles west meant tennis courts and swimming pools were the norm. The paddocks and the helipad were the new “must haves,” and now Jenny had a Renoir to top it all off.

Popsy couldn’t help but be a little envious as she glided up the perfectly landscaped, one-mile driveway. She watched a chopper take off just as they arrived at the front of the house.

Sandra, it seemed, felt likewise. “Who would be so tacky as to arrive in a chopper?”

“We would, if we could,” Popsy said, thinking about the Ferrari she’d test-driven only a few hours earlier.

The Victorian-style house looked exquisite in its country setting, and at this time of year, it was festooned in a blaze of deep crimson Virginia creeper. Enormous oaks flanked the house, magnificent in their autumn color. It was impossible to look at it and not long to live in the country. As the thud-thud-thud of the chopper faded into the distance, a flock of crows cawed overhead, reclaiming their territory in the large and ancient trees along the front driveway. The house had perfect symmetry with three windows on the right and three on the left of the grandiose front door. Steps swept up to the door, which for today’s event was left open. Popsy took a moment to admire the huge urns on either side.

Pyracanthas had been clipped to look like a giant ball and were in full bloom; they were covered in bright orange berries. These were under-planted with variegated ivy, which spilled out of the urns and down to the ground. It gave a feeling of understated opulence with a Halloween twist. Popsy made a mental note to do something similar in twelve months’ time.

Once inside, they were greeted by beaming caterers offering a choice of sparkling water or even more sparkling champagne. Both women went for the champagne.

Jenny Lennox descended upon them in a flurry of air kisses and exclamations of how good everybody looked. Popsy gave her the flower arrangement she’d brought, and Sandra presented her with a jar of limited-edition caviar. As usual, Jenny insisted that they “shouldn’t have” but took the gifts with grace.

Checks were deposited into an aquamarine objet d’art that was stationed just inside the front door. It was, doubtless, a terrifyingly expensive piece of glasswork, but Jenny was blasé.

“Just toss the donations into the vase there and come in to where all the fun is.”

Stripped of their checks and armed with a champagne flute each, they were ushered into the drawing room. Popsy got the distinct impression that they were being herded like cows.

“Cheers, to your health and future decisions.” She winked and clinked glasses with Sandra, and they headed into the fray.

Popsy and Sandra had a way of working a party. They would arrive together, then drift apart to mingle, but then they would drift back together again at regular intervals when either one of them needed moral support. This way they got to meet interesting new people but had each other as backup if they were a little lost. This method had worked well for them over the last thirteen years.

It didn’t take long before Popsy was standing in front of the much-discussed Renoir. It was larger than she expected, almost two feet by two feet, and the frame made it look even bigger. It was hardly surprising then that it took pride of place over the mantelpiece in Jenny Lennox’s enormous drawing room.

“Exquisite, isn’t it?” the lady beside Popsy inquired.

“It is beautiful. Isn’t she lucky? A genuine Renoir.”

“It better be genuine. Eddie paid a cool $100 million for it.”

It was enough to make Popsy snap around to face the lady she was talking to as opposed to admiring the painting. “I’m sure it can’t have been that much. $100 million dollars? That’s too expensive, isn’t it?”

“Cheap at the price.” The lady sniffed.

Popsy wondered if perhaps her companion had drunk a little too much champagne. “How do you work that out?”

“That’s what Jenny told him it would cost to stay in the marriage.” The redhead moved closer to whisper. “I understand that poor Eddie was caught being a naughty boy, and when Jenny discovered it, she threw him out. He begged her to take him back, which of course she did, but for a price. This little token of affection.”

Popsy was incredulous. “That’s a lot of affection,” she said and looked back at the painting.

“Yes, I hear it is a really good painting—La Petite Fille. Jenny tells me it’s a charming and irreverent portrayal of the hedonistic life and subtlety of lust in the late 1800s.”

“Ah.” Popsy felt the need for more champagne. “Good to know.” As far as she was concerned, it was just a really pretty painting done by a very famous artist. But wasn’t art full of hyperbole like that?

Before she had to expand on her views, mercifully her art critic companion took her leave, which gave Popsy a few moments to admire the painting by herself. It was a true gem, beautiful, but how in tarnation did anything get to a value of $100 million? She understood how it could happen with diamonds and precious stones, but art? Wasn’t that subjective?

“So what do you think?” Sandra asked as she came up beside her.

“I think it’s gorgeous, and did you know that it was a ‘charming and irreverent portrayal of the hedonistic life and subtlety of lust in the late 1800s’?”

Sandra looked at Popsy, arching her eyebrows. “I never would have guessed.”

Popsy nodded. “I also heard that Eddie Lennox paid $100 million for it.”

“In fact, I had heard a rumor, but I wasn’t sure that it was true. Nice round figure. You know, in all likelihood it’ll be worth double that in twelve months. Do you get taxed on fine art appreciation?”

Popsy pulled her friend closer and glanced around to ensure that nobody was within earshot. “Yes, but did you hear why he bought it? I heard Jenny discovered he was having an affair. This is the peace offering, his ‘get out of jail free card,’ if you will. A frigging Renoir.”

Sandra said nothing and studied the painting.

“Did you hear me, Sandy? Did you know about this? Was Eddie Lennox offside? Evidently he had a mistress. Well, I assume it’s had and not has if he’s bought the painting and the Lennoxs are all happy family again.

At last, Sandra tore herself away from the painting and looked at her friend. “Who told you this?”

“That woman over there. The tall, striking strawberry-blonde.” Popsy gestured discreetly.

“Figures.” Sandra sighed.


“Because she’s the mistress.”

Laura Lippman's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Laura Lippman Why we love her: She's simply the best.

Her latest: And When She Was Good

The scoop on it: When Hector Lewis told his daughter that she had a nothing face, it was just another bit of tossed-off cruelty from a man who specialized in harsh words and harsher deeds. But twenty years later, Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who knows how to avoid attention. In the comfortable suburb where she lives, she's just a mom, the youngish widow with a forgettable job who somehow never misses a soccer game or a school play. In the state capitol, she's the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record.

But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she's the woman of your dreams—if you can afford her hourly fee.

For more than a decade, Heloise has believed she is safe. She has created a rigidly compartmentalized life, maintaining no real friendships, trusting few confidantes. Only now her secret life, a life she was forced to build after the legitimate world turned its back on her, is under siege. Her once oblivious accountant is asking loaded questions. Her longtime protector is hinting at new, mysterious dangers. Her employees can't be trusted. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, a suicide. Or is it?

Nothing is as it seems as Heloise faces a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know.

And then she learns that her son's father might be released from prison, which is problematic because he doesn't know he has a son. The killer and former pimp also doesn't realize that he's serving a life sentence because Heloise betrayed him. But he's clearly beginning to suspect that Heloise has been holding something back all these years.

With no formal education, no real family, and no friends, Heloise has to remake her life—again. Disappearing will be the easy part. She's done it before and she can do it again. A new name and a new place aren't hard to come by if you know the right people. The trick will be living long enough to start a new life.

Our thoughts: She made us care about a suburban madam. That takes serious talent!

Giveaway: FIVE COPIES. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, August 27th.

Fun fact: She wrote her first SEVEN books while working full time at The (Baltimore) Sun.

Where you can read more about Laura: Facebook and her website.


1. Stop dieting. Stop right now. Read about mindful eating (Geneen Roth and Martha Beck). Read Susie Orbach's "Fat is a Feminist Issue." Read Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman." Sorry to pile on so much homework, but you'll need all this and more. Eat exactly what you want to eat, when you want to eat and stop when you are full and you really will end up at a healthy weight. Do not describe food as "bad." Do not describe your own eating habits as "bad." Do not say "I hate my [fill in the blank]." Do not say anything about your body that you would not say to a beloved. Listen to it. Learn to identify physical hunger, ponder the emotional hunger when you recognize it, try to figure out what it really means. Wanting more is the human condition.

2. Practice being a gracious loser because you're going to get lots of opportunities to trot this skill out. Besides, if you know how to lose graciously, you'll also know how to win graciously.

3. Learn to take a compliment. It goes like this: "Thank you." Not -- "Oh, it wasn't really much of anything, anyone could have done it." Not -- "Well, the others who worked on the project deserve credit, too." Or, even: "I made so many mistakes at first and I really screwed up and I thought I would never finish." Again, this is how you do it. "Thank you."

4. Find a physical activity that you love, preferably one that takes you outside, and do it. Long, slow walks count.

5. Resist the urge to be cruel to others. Years later, of everything you have done, nothing will horrify you more than the tossed-off sarcasm you wielded against others like a weapon. Put it on paper. Keep notes. Use it against imaginary foes. Because, in the end, almost all your foes are imaginary.

Thanks, Laura!


Liz & Lisa

Photo credit: Jan Cobb

Fiona Neill's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Fiona Neill Why we love her:  She's written a standout book, one that will stick with us for a long time.

Her latest: What the Nanny Saw

The scoop on it: It’s the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal: their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in their own home. And Ali, their trusted nanny, watches it all. As the babysitter, she brings a unique insider-outsider perspective to the family, seeing far more than even the family itself is capable of. But when a reporter with a personal connection to the story comes asking her for the inside scoop, will Ali remain loyal to the family who never saw her as anything other than the help? Or will she tell her side?

Our thoughts: It's a novel that demands your full attention- in a good way. It's incredibly well-written, the scenes so realistic that you can envision yourself smack in the middle of the story.

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm on Monday, August 27th.

Fun fact: Her first novel, The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy has been optioned to be a TV series in the US.

Where you can read more about Fiona Neill: Her website.


1. Wear a bikini. Youth is lovely, beautiful and effortless so make the most of it. I look back at photos of myself as a teenager and can’t believe how critical I was about my appearance. Teenagers have wonderful bodies in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate it and don’t over-analyze tiny flaws. And be kind to your hair. I had a perm. It looked terrible and required too much upkeep.

2. Parents are mostly right. ‘You’re wearing too much make-up.’ ‘Thirteen is too young to see the Sex Pistols live, even if it might be their last concert.’ ‘I’m picking you up at midnight even if the party is meant to end at 3am.’ ‘Your grandfather’s long johns are not a good look.’  I grew up on a remote farm in rural East England with fairly strict Scottish parents. My friend’s parents were all very laissez faire and Bohemian and I resented the way my parents interfered in my life. I now realize that they prevented me from developing many of the vices that have plagued the lives of some of my contemporaries. They also made me work in the holidays from a young age, which engendered a good work ethic.

3. Don’t burn your diaries. Sometime in my late teens I re-read the diaries I had assiduously kept on a daily basis since I was eleven and decided to destroy them. Obviously they were a testimony to the mood swings and utter self-absorption of adolescence and had no literary value. But now that I have teenage children and am writing teenage characters in my novels, I wish that could read through them to remind myself how it all felt. I would like to pick up the threads of who I was then to see how it impacted on who I am and what I do now.

4. Don’t give up sport. This isn’t post-Olympic euphoria. Until I was sixteen, I played sport six days a week at school. Then when I had the choice to give up, I abandoned it in a fit of pique and stopped taking regular exercise for the next two decades. It has taken me years to make the association between exercise and emotional and physical wellbeing and I wish someone had pointed this out for me before I became a couch potato. Now I am fitter than I have been since I was eighteen.

5. Stop obsessing over Mark Robbins (not his real name). Your friends are right. He is taking up too much headspace and you would be much better off reading even more books, playing sport, writing about subjects other than him in your diary and wondering if your saggy knees (I know) might be putting him off making a move.  He is now a very over-weight, bald middle-aged man who sells industrial storage space.  Don’t waste time on people who don’t make you feel good about yourself and sidetrack you from the things that you are really interested in.

Thanks, Fiona! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa









Thérèse's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Thérèse Why we love her: She wrote the perfect end of summer read.

Her latest: India's Summer

The scoop on it: It's the story of India Butler, single and about to turn forty, who travels from London to LA to reinvent herself. In a world illuminated by the flashbulbs of the paparazzi, she discovers the true meaning of “having it all’ while spending the summer with her sister Annabelle, a famous Hollywood actress, and her brother -in -law, a legendary rock musician.

They welcome India into their opulent, fast-paced lifestyle, whisking her from fabulous fundraisers to parties each more opulent than the last. This does nothing for India’s confidence and she maintains a wry detachment until she begins dating Adam, a gorgeous A- list actor. In an attempt to appear more successful she lies to him about her career.

Disaster strikes and India is drawn behind the veneer of Hollywood glitz and glamor and into Hollywood’s private lives. As her illusions about the perfection of their LA lifestyle fade away, India has an epiphany about her own real talents. .

India is in her element until her new life in LA unravels.

Our thoughts: We love a character we can root for. We were with India every step of the way.

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm PST on Monday, August 27th.

Fun fact: Orlando Bloom, Goldie Hawn and Jane Green have all praised India's Summer.

Where you can read  more about Therese: Facebook, Twitter and her website.


1. Pay more attention in your French classes because one day you will fall in love with Paris and be embarrassed that you can’t speak the language properly. This will lead you to be rendered speechless in case anyone suspects. You look French. You have a French name. You like French food and French style, so learn the language why don’t you.

2. This is not an appropriate age to go steady. Why have you become so attached to one boy? You should be out dancing not sitting at home playing Scrabble. Dancing is legal at all ages- but ‘dirty- dancing’ looks ridiculous at a certain age. You’ll know what that age is when you reach it.

3. Don’t listen to those nuns. They haven’t been out in the world for years. What would they know? One day a woman called Madonna, (the one who is not the mother of Jesus)  will make you feel a whole lot less guilty about not being a Catholic.

4. Neon is not a fashion forward choice at any age. White pants only really work in denim or linen and only then if you have a change of clothes in your purse.

5. Good girlfriends will last a lifetime. Pick wisely. I know you will.

Thanks, Therese!


Liz & Lisa

Megan Abbott's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Megan Abbott Why we love her: We love, love, LOVE the way she tells a story!

Her latest: Dare Me

The Scoop: Addy Hanlon has always been Beth Cassidy's best friend and trusted lieutenant. Beth calls the shots and Addy carries them out, a long-established order of things that has brought them to the pinnacle of their high-school careers. Now they're seniors who rule the intensely competitive cheer squad, feared and followed by the other girls -- until the young new coach arrives.

Cool and commanding, an emissary from the adult world just beyond their reach, Coach Colette French draws Addy and the other cheerleaders into her life. Only Beth, unsettled by the new regime, remains outside Coach's golden circle, waging a subtle but vicious campaign to regain her position as "top girl" -- both with the team and with Addy herself.

Then a suicide focuses a police investigation on Coach and her squad. After the first wave of shock and grief, Addy tries to uncover the truth behind the death -- and learns that the boundary between loyalty and love can be dangerous terrain.

The raw passions of girlhood are brought to life in this taut, unflinching exploration of friendship, ambition, and power.

Our thoughts: We loved this one-it's edgy and fun!

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Leave a comment and we'll choose a winner on August 19th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

Fun Fact: Smarty-pants alert: Megan has a PHD in English!

Where to read more about Megan: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


1. Weird is good. It’s not only okay that you get lost in biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald, can recite every line of Double Indemnity, and even kind of think your parents are great—it’s a really good thing. Later, you’ll be glad for all those odd corners of life, history, culture  you burrowed yourself into. They’ll matter to you always.

2. Just because he has a guitar, doesn’t mean he’s Paul Westerberg. Also, just because he appears aloof doesn’t mean he’s tortured. Just because he can’t show up at school doesn’t mean he’s off in some dive bar, composing songs just for you. And most of all, just because he’s charming and smart and loves J.D. Salinger, doesn’t mean he hung the moon, or that he knows what he’s doing any more than you do. That said, all these boys will teach you things too. And you’ll write about them, in on way or another, for the rest of your life.

3. You’ll never remember that disappointing A minus in Physics. Except you will. Which is why you also won’t read book reviews for the rest of your life, even the really good ones. But you should try to let all that matter less.

4. There will be many, many great men out there in the larger world who really, really like smart women. In fact, there will be so many great men out there, you will feel dizzy with opportunities and wonder where these men (boys) were when you were sixteen.

5. The high school cafeteria will prepare you for life. It may feel awful, tenuous, complicated and perilous before you hit sixteen, when you get more comfortable in your skin, but even so, those harrowing experiences in the cafeteria, navigating cliques, dealing with power machinations to rival the Age of Caesar—they will toughen you, smarten you up. Because the rest of life is just like that, except you’ll be the stronger for it. (And you won’t have to eat the chili dogs.)

Thanks Megan! xoxo, L&L

Sarah McCoy's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Todays' guest: Sarah McCoy Why we love her: The Baker's Daughter is one of the best books we read this year. We've always admired Sarah from afar and are so glad she's hanging out with us today!

Her latest: The Baker's Daughter (in paperback today!)

The scoop on it: 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

Our thoughts: A truly beautiful story.

Fun fact: Sarah also blogs! Check it out here.

Giveaway: 5 copies! Leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm on Monday, August 20th.

Where you can read more about Sarah: Her website, Facebook and Twitter.


1. Listen to your momma. Wash your face with soap at night only. Rinse with water in the morning. Stop with the facial scrubs: they’re just making your skin breakout more. Stop with the tweezers: you should not be drawing eyebrows beside your grandma. Stop with the tanning salons: blushing purple is going to cost you.

2. Hug your baby brothers even when they push you away. Let your mom, dad and grandparents hug you even when you do the same. Never choose the mall with ‘cool kids’ over board games with the family. You’ll be clicking your heels for the rest of your life: there’s no place like family.

3. Listen to your momma. You’ll get further on grit, drive, dreaming big and working as hard as you possibly can than talent alone will ever hand you. She’s not being critical when she tells you this. She’s preparing you, making you stronger.

4. That guy you think you’re utterly in love with? He’s going to toss your heart around like a basketball and leave you deflated and sorry. But I know you. Nothing I say is going to stop you from bouncing into his hands. In fact, you’ll need to go through this despair. It’ll toughen you up and help you know without a shadow of a doubt when you’re really in love. It’s coming soon. So wipe your eyes. That jerk isn’t even worth the smeared mascara.

5. Listen to your momma. You don’t have to agree with what she says now or ever, but she loves you and she’s been around longer than you have. She’s wiser than you want to concede. I get that. You’re two firecrackers lit under one roof. Hold firm to what you feel passionately about. That’ll do you well in the future. But hush for one minute and listen to me, listen to her. Listen.

Thanks, Sarah!


Liz & Lisa

Mary Carter's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Todays' guest: Mary Carter Why we love her: Although she's written several novels, this is the first we've read. We always love discovering an author we adore and can't wait to read more from.

Her latest: The Things I Do For You

The scoop on it: After years of supporting her husband Brad's generally ill-fated career ventures, Bailey Jordan has a job and a life she loves, working as a high profile real estate agent in Manhattan. Things are wonderful, and she's ready to start a family. Everything changes when Brad is involved in a car crash and dies for thirteen minutes. Previously an agnostic, Brad comes back to life on a mission. Unbeknownst to his wife, he buys a lighthouse on the Hudson River and plans to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Bailey reluctantly joins him, but she's overwhelmed by business stresses, eclectic guests, and strange rumours. And as Brad's behaviour grows increasingly erratic, she must find a way to get him to come back down to earth if their marriage is to survive...

Our thoughts: We're always suckers for a good love story. This was sweet, heartfelt and hit home.

Giveaway:5 copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners after 3PM PST on Sunday, August 12.

Fun fact: Mary has started, The Writers’ Den, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where she will be teaching the exact writing course that helped her write and publish her first novel. Aspiring writers in the New York City area can go to to this website for more information.

Where you can read more about Mary: Her website.


1. Don’t put more effort into a boy than he is putting into you I wasted a lot of time chasing boys, concentrating all of my energy on whichever one I had a crush on, putting a higher value on them than I did myself. It not only doesn’t work, the guy you think is so wonderful often disappoints. If he likes you, you can bet he’ll return your calls, be interested in your dreams and goals, and treat you like you treat him. Be happy and confident, let boys be the icing on the cake.

2. You are not fat I would give anything for the body I had back in high school. Problem was, I didn’t appreciate it then either. I thought I was fat. I hated my thighs. I would go on fad diets, and stay up nights before vacations exercising. Taking care of your body is one thing, obsessing over it is another. Crazy thing is? It usually has nothing to do with what you really look like. If you can get it out of your head, you’ll be much happier.

3. Doing a little bit every day adds up to a lot more than cramming it in all at once I used to wait until the last minute to do most things: practice piano, write that essay or report that was due the next day, even exercise. Now, as an author with deadlines, I realize the time I spend every day working on my projects gets me a lot further at the end of the year than procrastinating until it’s do or die. Take writing for example: One page a day equals the first draft of a novel at the end of a year. A little bit really does add up to a lot.

4. Don’t quit the saxophone or piano I played both growing up, then just drifted away from them after high school. I’d give anything now to be able to whip out my saxophone while waiting for the subway and serenade the commuters. Or have a few gigs a week in little clubs in the village. Or tinkle the ivories on the side. If you have a talent like that, don’t let it slip away! May seem like drudgery now, but some day it will be way cool.

5. Cherish your family My mom and I fought a lot when I was a teenager. Our temperaments were too similar. I remember one screaming match before school where I yelled: “You’re acting like my mother!” There was a pause, then she said quietly, “I am your mother.” It made us both crack up. These days my mother is my best friend and has been the one person who has always had my back. At times, we tend to treat those we love the most the worst.  Once in awhile step back and realize they really are on your side, even when they’re driving you crazy.

Thanks, Mary!


Liz & Lisa

Kathleen McCleary's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Today's guest: Kathleen McCleary Why we love her:  Her writing is honest and heartfelt. We've all been where her characters have been. We love that we can relate.

Her latest: A Simple Thing

The scoop on it: When Susannah Delaney discovers her young son is being bullied and her adolescent daughter is spinning out of control, she moves them to remote, rustic Sounder Island to live for a year. A simple island existence—with no computers or electricity and only a one-room schoolhouse—is just what her over scheduled East Coast kids need to learn what's really important in life. But the move threatens her marriage to the man she's loved since childhood, and her very sense of self.

For Betty Pavalak, who moved to Sounder to save her own troubled marriage, the island has been a haven for fifty years. But Betty also knows the guilt of living with choices made long ago and actions that cannot be undone. The unlikely friendship between Susannah and Betty ignites a journey of self-discovery for both women and brings them both home to what they love most. A Simple Thing moves beyond friendship, children, and marriages to look deeply into what it means to love and forgive—yourself.

Our thoughts: A moving story about friendship and forgiveness.

Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, August 5 after 3PM PST.

Fun fact: At age 12 she was briefly considered for the lead role in “The Exorcist,” until her mother found out what the movie was about. (Her mom had a friend who was a casting agent.)

Where you can read more about Kathleen: Twitter, Facebook or her website.


1. No one is really paying that much attention. Do you know how self-conscious you feel? How shy? Let it go. Really. Everyone around you is busy thinking their own thoughts and worrying about the minutiae of their own lives. They don’t notice your pimples (well, okay, maybe that one giant one in the middle of your forehead) or your bad hair days or your bowlegs or that stupid thing you said at a party three weeks ago. And if they do notice all that stuff and tell you about it, they’re not worth your notice. Let them go.

2. Hang on to that friend. Your girlfriend across the street, the one you share most things with, including your biggest crushes, a love of Motown music, and your first taste of alcohol? She’s a keeper. She’ll be the maid of honor in your wedding; you’ll care for her oldest daughter while she’s in the hospital giving birth to baby number two, she’ll cry with you when your father dies, and you’ll still laugh so hard every time you get together that your face hurts. Friends like that don’t come along too often. When you run across one, hang on to her as though your life depends on it. Someday, it will.

3. You get better with age. I’m not kidding. That baby fat will drop away. You’ll lose those chubby cheeks and that awkward way of standing with both arms crossed over your stomach (which believe me, is flatter than you think). You’ll figure out that you are at least as smart as everyone else. You won’t be afraid to express your opinions, to admit it when you’re wrong, or to apologize. You’ll be great at things you never dreamed you’d be good at, like soothing a fussy baby and writing and doing handstands (no kidding!). You’ll learn to love your body for what it can do, and not hate it for what it doesn’t look like. You’ll laugh more easily and without self-consciousness. You’ll understand with your whole being how important it is to be kind. You’ll understand that this is what true beauty is about.

4. It’s okay to be a book nerd. Keep reading. I know you spend a lot of time alone in the library. You know what? One day, you’re going to write books that will sit on those shelves. It’s your little shot at immortality. Grab it.

5. You are worthy. Of attention, of respect, of love, of understanding, of forgiveness—from yourself most of all. You’re a keeper, too. Take care of yourself. Be kind.

Thanks, Kathleen!


Liz & Lisa



Emily Arsenault's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Our guest today: Emily Arsenault Why we love her: Her books are captivating-we can't get anything else done once we crack it open!

Her latest: Miss Me When I'm Gone

The scoop: Author Gretchen Waters made a name for herself with her bestseller Tammyland—a memoir about her divorce and her admiration for country music icons Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton that was praised as a "honky-tonk Eat, Pray, Love." But her writing career is cut abruptly short when she dies from a fall down a set of stone library steps. It is a tragic accident and no one suspects foul play, certainly not Gretchen's best friend from college, Jamie, who's been named the late author's literary executor.

But there's an unfinished manuscript Gretchen left behind that is much darker than Tammyland: a book ostensibly about male country musicians yet centered on a murder in Gretchen's family that haunted her childhood. In its pages, Gretchen seems to be speaking to Jamie from beyond the grave—suggesting her death was no accident . . . and that Jamie must piece together the story someone would kill to keep untold.

Our thoughts: Beautifully written-we think you'll love this one.  Throw a copy in your suitcase and relax with it by the pool.

Giveaway: FIVE copies!  Leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Sunday, August 5th after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: Emily and her husband served in the Peace Corps together in South Africa!

Where to read more about Emily: her website, or Facebook.


1. Stop trying to write confessional poetry. You are sixteen years old. You have nothing to confess. Put down the pen, close the notebook, and go read a good book or have a cookie or something. You’re embarrassing yourself.

2. Talk to your grandmother more. Ask her about her life. Your grandmother lives just up the street from you, but you are so focused on personal dramas and grades and getting into a fancy college that you rarely have real conversations with her. During your first semester of college, she’ll pass away and they’ll bury her in Arlington National Cemetery because she was an army nurse in WWII. They’ll mention in the eulogy that the ship she served on was called the Mercy. It’ll dawn on you that you never knew that before. You never asked. Over the next few months and years, you’ll think of about a hundred more questions you wish you’d asked. For this you will feel very sad and very foolish.

3.  You know who your real friends are. Pay more attention to treating them well than obtaining newer, “cooler” ones. Your friends put up with a lot from you. You don’t always deserve it.  Do you remember their birthdays? Do you make a real effort to cheer them up when they feel down or stressed? Bring them chicken soup when they’re sick? Not so often? You might try a little bit harder

4.  Quit obsessing about grades. Yes, doing well in school is important, but grades are relatively meaningless symbols on a piece of paper, not assessments of your worth as a person. To put it in perspective: a few years from now you’ll be helping your mother clean her house and you’ll toss those precious report cards of yours in a Dumpster without even glancing at them.

5. Yes, you’re weird. The sooner you own it, the happier you’ll be. You’re not fooling anyone pretending to like the music, books, and movies you think you’re supposed to like. You’re too much of a nerd for anyone to notice if you’re wearing Gap clothes or not, so why not spend that money instead on a harmonica or The Collected Plays of Edward Albee or a trip to Graceland? And no, not everyone will “get” your sense of humor, but always biting your tongue makes you feel invisible and miserable.

Thanks Emily! xoxo, L&L

Liz & Lisa's 5 Things I'd Tell My Teen Me with SWEET VALLEY HIGH giveaway!

We are LOVING the teen me feature.  Maybe it's because we met in high school. Or maybe it's because there's so much we WISH we had known back then.(Like to just say no to MC Hammer pants...) Liz is feeling especially reminiscent lately, having just moved back to her hometown last week-one mile away from Lisa's dad and a handful of houses away from her own mom!So when got the chance to do a super cool giveaway with one of our teen faves, Sweet Valley High, we figured it was finally time to give our teen selves some serious advice. If you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies of the ENTIRE series of Sweet Valley Confidential-a new six part e-series! We'll choose the winners on Sunday, August 5th, after 6pm PST.

Here's the scoop on SVH:From Francine Pascal, creator of the bestselling SWEET VALLEY HIGH series and author of the NY Times bestselling SWEET VALLEY CONFIDENTIAL, comes the continuing adventures of beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in an exciting new six-part e-serial, THE SWEET LIFE.The first novella-length episode – THE SWEET LIFE #1 – begins three years after the events of Sweet Valley Confidential; Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. Things are looking up for both twins: Elizabeth is a star reporter at the LA Tribune with a popular blog, and Jessica’s PR career is on the fast-track. But while the professional lives of the Wakefield sisters are secure, their personal lives may be in jeopardy. Jessica, now a mother, finds that managing parenthood, marriage, and a job is harder than she expected, while Elizabeth and Bruce must face a scandal that could strengthen their bond…or tear them apart for ever.Meanwhile, life goes on in Sweet Valley. Families are made, hearts are broken, and…Lila Fowler is a reality TV star? Some things never change.Sound good?  Then don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win!  We'd love to hear what advice you'd give YOUR teen self!




1. Like yourself and others will follow suit. This is a tough one. But something I wish someone had told my shoulder-pad wearing self-it would have saved me YEARS of angst. Admittedly, I still hate myself sometimes(last night I told my husband that my arms looked like those huge slabs of meat that hang at the butcher shop), but at least I'm self-aware of it now, so that's progress, right?

2. Forgive often. Trust me on this one.  Holding onto that anger will only make things worse-there's a freedom in letting go of the past and moving forward that can bring true happiness.  P.S. don't forget to forgive YOURSELF often too-we all make mistakes, girlfrin'.  Time to move on!

3. Be nice to your Mother. Gawd, I was a horrible bitch to my poor mom.  Thankfully, I got the chance to make it right later in life.  But, time is precious and you never know if you'll have that luxury, so tell your Mom TODAY how much you love her, even if she did embarrass the shit out of you last week at the mall.  That woman shoved your big, fat head out of her va-jay-jay, so show some respect!

4. Pluck your eyebrows. Please. Why the HELL did no one mention this to me until I was TWENTY-TWO years old?  I'm ITALIAN for God's sake. It was BAD. (the picture above is photographic evidence.)

5. Stop trying to grow up so fast. Seriously, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.  Take time to be a kid-wear those Mickey Mouse ears at Disneyland and have pillow fights with your girlfriends.  There will be plenty of time to have grown-up issues. Until then, have fun going to the mall, making  s'mores and eating whatever the hell you want without gaining a pound!


1. Journal the hell out of this time in your life. At the very least, it will be good fodder later- especially when you decide you want to write novels. (Yes, it happens!)

2. Don't get that spiral perm. Don't use Sun-In. Don't use a crimping iron. Your hair is beautiful as it is- au natural. Trust me, you'll spend thousands of dollars later trying to get it to look just like it does right now.

3. Don't wear high-waisted shorts or jeans. Ask for help in purchasing a decent bra when your boobs grow from an "A" to a "D" in one summer (Yes, it happens!). Burn all of your boxy t-shirts. If for no other reason, do these things so your husband doesn't get the chance to find the pictures during a move and mercilessly make fun of you for months-years even.

4. Date, date, date. (Did I mention date?) WAIT until you get married to have that long long-term relationship. Before then, have all the fun you can dating different people. Have many relationships. Figure out who you are and what type of man you're most compatible with. Although you're going to fall in love- a lot- which is a good thing if you ask me, you don't want to fall in love and stay with that person for a long time. You won't end up marrying him. Trust me.

5. Learn to spend time alone (to be okay being alone). Somewhere along the way, I figured out that it's nice to be able to see a movie by yourself, have lunch by yourself, hang at home by yourself. Being comfortable being with just you. And this might not make much sense to you now, but  it will serve you well later to not need someone else to fill up that space, but rather to find people to compliment it.

xoxo, L&L


Jessica Park's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Jessica Park Why we love her:  She's freakin' fierce-kicking ass and taking names.  Not to mention the fact that she's funny as hell.

Her latest: Flat Out Love

The scoop: Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Our thoughts: Another great YA novel that adults will love too!  Pick it up today!

Giveaway: FIVE Smashwords e-copies!  Just leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win-we'll choose the winners after 6pm EST on Sunday July 29th.

Fun fact: Flat out Love hit the NYT ebook bestseller list recently after Jessica was featured on Amazon.  A true inspiration to all self-pubbers!

Where to read more about Jessica: her website, Facebook and Twitter.


1. All those boys who seem so hot and desirable in high school are not the boys you should be crushing on. The super popular, gorgeous, girls-hanging-all-over-them guys who are not paying attention to you? This is their heyday.  Screw ‘em. Don’t waste your time getting caught up in hype. Ignore what the media tells you is boyfriend material because you are probably missing out on some pretty spectacular guys.

2. Along those same lines, stop worrying about what you look like. Enough with the self-loathing because you don’t have a 95 lb. body, huge boobs, and a perfect ass. You are beautiful just as you are. If your classmates don’t see that, brush it off. Wait until you get out of high school and you can create an amazing world for yourself. You have no control over who you are stuck with in math class, but high school is only high school. There are beautiful people who will come into your life.

3. Friendships can last forever. Friendships can also die a horrible death. It happens. You might screw up and get dumped by your bestie. If a friend isn’t willing to work something out with you, you don’t need that friend.

OR, maybe there is someone in your life who is simply exhausting and awful. You have the right to weed people out of your life. We put so much pressure on ourselves to stay loyal to friends no matter what, and there’s no reason for that. Sometimes it’s healthier to let people go.

Friends and relationships come in and out of our lives. It’s okay. That’s just how the world works. When we lose one connection, another takes its place. So mourn and be sad, but don’t drown in it.

4. Don’t be a slave to fashion trends. You will be severely traumatized later in life when you look at photographs of yourself in which you’re wearing a v-neck Gap sweater BACKWARDS with pegged acid-washed jeans and giant socks under your high-top sneakers. Seriously. You knew that you looked stupid and you did it anyway.

Wear what you want, not what you’re told to want. But don’t forget that you’ll have to look at yourself twenty years later.

5. You will fall in love, you will get your heart splintered into hideous little shards. It will hurt like all hell.

Most importantly, you will recover. It doesn’t feel like it in the moment, but there will come a day when you want to do something other than eat vats of ice cream and sob on the floor of the bathtub. I promise you. Don’t let the heartache stop you from falling in love again.

Thanks Jessica! xoxo, L&L