Atria Books

Diary of a Debut: Revision Hell

Liz and Lisa writing revisonsThere have been A LOT of exciting things going on around here lately. Did you hear?  Simon & Schuster bought TWO more books from us!  Yep, that means they are stuck with us for THREE novels. (We love a publisher that isn't afraid to commit...)  So, in addition to Your Perfect Life, which follows two childhood best friends who switch bodies at their 20 year high school reunion (June 2014), we are currently revising Famous Last Words, about a celebrity who kills herself and the tabloid reporter who's blamed for sending her over the edge. And then we'll be digging in on book #3! (Details coming soon. In fact, if you haven't already, you should subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you're getting the latest news.)

Bottom line? We are incredibly thankful and still wondering how the hell we got here! But as excited as we are that S&S is going to publish Famous Last Words, there's one thing we that we aren't so excited about.  The part of the process that strikes fear into our hearts:


We kind of hate on them. And each other while we work on them.

Well, hate is probably too strong of a word.  Let's just say we'd rather get a full body wax or watch a Teen Mom marathon while getting said wax.

We've mentioned before that our editor and agent are uh-mazing.  But with an amazing editor and agent comes incredibly thoughtful and smart notes that you NEED TO LISTEN TO because those notes will take your book to the next level.  Many notes that have us thinking, duh, why didn't WE think of that or that or that? *bangs palm onto forehead*

Thankfully, after writing together for 5 years, we've finally reached the point where we no longer argue for hours over one word or whether or not a character should wear a trucker hat.  So, this time around, we feel we've honed our editing skills (and attitudes!) and have been volleying the manuscript back and forth like Venus and Serena at the US Open. In fact, we *think* we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank GAWD!

And we've  learned a few new things about each other, too. Yep, that's right, after over 25+ years of friendship, there are STILL things to discover! You see, Lisa can be bit OCD and Liz a bit ADD.  Put those together and what do you get?  A very interesting editing experience.

Oh, and before we forget, leave a comment on this post and you'll be entered to win a copy of Anita Hughes' Lake Como!



What Lisa says: Wow! Nice job on these edits!  Your descriptions were awesome!

What Lisa means: I *might* have taken out a *few* things from your last edit and turned the boyfriend into a flea-market shopping hipster. Oh, and I may have said the leather couch you put in his home was "cliche."


What Lisa says: When you get into the manuscript, you'll see I have a few "questions."

What Lisa means: I am questioning EVERYTHING. No stone will go unturned!


What Liz says: I MUST have the manuscript by Saturday morning at 6am--not a moment later! I'm going to work on it ALL day.

What Liz means: I'm going to sleep in, then post all my Hawaii pics on Facebook, play Candy Crush, try out a new recipe and then watch that new episode of Catfish before cramming ten hours of editing into two. But no worries!


What Liz says: Oh, ya, I totally read through that, it was genius!

What Liz means:  I skimmed it over a thirty second period while posting pictures to Instagram. I can't remember exactly what I read, but it seemed fine! Let's move on to the next thing!

As always, thanks for taking this journey with us. We couldn't do it without your support! Leave a comment below about your own writing experience or anything that's on your mind and be entered to win a copy of Anita Hughes' Lake Como! We'll choose the winner after 8am on September 2nd.




Diary of a Debut: 5 reasons to have a writing retreat in Vegas

Vagas_nightWe're still pinching ourselves that our book is going to be published by Simon & Schuster/Atria Books next year. As Lisa's two-year-old would say, O-M-G. As Lisa and Liz would say O-M-EFFING-G. Did we mention EFFING? So there we were. Sin City. Lisa with her Beats by Dr. Dre hugging her ears and Liz with her shiny new Macbook air polished and ready to go. Lisa with her never-before-listened-to-but-oh-so-perfectly-planned-writing retreat-playlist filled with umpteen songs to inspire her but who would only end up playing Undermine from Nashville(SUCH a great show!) on repeat for thirty-six hours instead. Liz with her gossip magazines scattered about for "research." (Stars without make up can be very motivating!) Both trying not to think about the dinging of the slot machines thirty-seven stories below.

The screams of people winning at the craps table. The multiple bars with cocktails at the ready. You see, we might now have a dream agent. We might now have a dream publishing deal. We might now be living the dream of writing our second novel. But...

We are also moms. Moms who NEVER GET OUT.  Moms who, after seeing multiple bachelor parties streaming through the lobby as they checked into Mandalay Bay, had to exercise MAJUH will power  in order to stay in their room and meet their word count goal. And you know what? Not only did we meet that number (and then some!), but we'd do it all over again (well maybe not the sharing a bed part--more on that in a minute!).

And so begins our Diary of a Debut--the online journal chronicling our road to publication. We'll also be snapping photos along the way and sharing them on Instagram. (Follow us there: LisaandLiz.)

And of course we have a GIVEAWAY. Leave a comment and be entered to win a bundle of 15 *surprise* books! We'll select the winner this Sunday, January 20th after 3pm PST.



1. You could get randomly upgraded to gigantic suite so large that you wonder if Mike Tyson, a tiger--or God willing--Bradley Cooper-- will round the corner at any moment. And while neither of us woke up with a missing tooth or a baby in our safe, we did have quite an adventure. Dedicated to our craft and feeling palpable pressure to perform, we spent the entire time in one small corner of the suite. Why? Because that's where the only desk was located, of course. Apparently, most people don't come to Vegas to write. The 12 flat screen TVs unwatched, the second and third bathroom unused, the minibar *sniffle* untouched, we pecked away at novel number two. (Check out the view from our room in the pic!)

What Lisa learned: JUST SAY NO when you get upgraded to a palatial room with a steamer shower (gotta get me one of those!) and an incredible view of the Vegas strip--only before seen through the eyes of a doe-eyed girl vying for a rose on The Bachelor, when you are told that there is only ONE bed that you're going to have to SHARE.  Lisa, with her ear plugs secured tightly is ready to get her first full-night of uninterrupted sleep in months was awakened every hour by Liz, who was tossing and turning because she couldn't sleep through the noise of the elevator shaft nearby and drunk ass people stumbling back to their rooms. #getLizearplugsforchristmas

2. When you need to take a "break" the people watching alone is enough to inspire the next three books Let's just say being holed up in a room--albeit 2500 square feet large--can get claustrophobic. (Bradley Cooper still hasn't shown up! And this has nothing to do with anything, but did you know he's fluent in French?  ) The walls start to close in when the pressure to write that book your aforementioned dream editor and agent are hopefully going to swoon over, when that pressure is so overwhelming you seriously consider chucking that MacBook Air into the jacuzzi tub, heading down to the casino and ordering a bloody mary (extra spicy, please!) instead. But you don't--mostly because one of you (ahem, Lisa) is a nazi and has imposed a strict rule: we cannot even breathe in the stale smoky air of the casino until we've met our word count goal. But because she's not a totally meanie and, at one point, suffered from a case of writer's block so bad she wondered if she had in fact switched bodies with a qualified author while writing THE TOAST, gives in and allows you to take a break and stroll through the casino. Stroll.

Not stop. Not sit. Not order. And so we head downstairs in our sweat pants (because if you wear something cute who knows what could happen?) but immediately curse ourselves when the first encounter we have  is with two smokin' hot guys who also happen to write for Esquire magazine. And despite the sweats--or maybe in spite of them--we still get our flirt on because maybe they'll write about our book! #flirtinginsweatpantssucks

40-is-the-new-20-t-shirt3. Getting carded can inspire 5,000 words Before you fall into (a shared!) bed after a long day of writing, you might just be inspired by the encounter with the Esquire guys and change into something sassy. And you might just make your way back down to the bar for a nightcap (or two). And when you do, you might nearly fall off your bar stool when you are asked for an ID. Did we even bring them down with us? we bemused, rifling through our purses.  Turns out, getting carded can be quite inspirational! After celebrating plowing through the first day, only breaking for Starbucks, we wrote 5,000 more words. (Who cares that the bartender was probably required to inspect the drivers license of anyone who appeared to be under 50.) #we'lltakeit


RoomServicebreadbasket-1-of-1-14. Room service never tasted so good--not In an unexpected twist, the gluten gestapo (a.k.a. Liz) joined us on our writing retreat. Apparently, just before heading to Vegas, she decided that she was no longer going to consume wheat. And neither was anyone around her! Cut to the first time we order room service. Two cobb salads, please. The salads arrive, looking delicious. But so did the bag of warm bread that came with them. Lisa reaches out to grab one, and her hand is instantly batted away. "You can go ahead and take that," Liz says to the server. Lisa watches the bread basket leave, tears in her eyes. They couldn't drink. They couldn't gamble. And now they couldn't even have bread? And don't even get her started on the gluten free waffles that were consumed. Good thing we are in Vegas and the food choices are endless. There may or may not have been a secret hamburger WITH THE BUN consumed when Liz wasn't looking. #wheatbellyisunattractive


5. After you meet your writing goal, dancing like you're 21 again never felt so good.  The reason we were in Vegas was not just for a writing retreat. Liz was also hosting her hubs 40th birthday party there later that week.  So we decided to arrive early, write, then drink our faces off! And party we did. Let's just say we cleared out the dance floor, (and not in a good way) our arms flailing, sipping from our drinks, dancing to remixed versions of songs by MC Hammer and Ace of Base that the horrified twenty-somethings looking on had never heard of. No matter that we were celebrating like we'd finished our second book, not just made a dent in it! #anyreasontohaveacocktail

As far as what happened next? I think the sign proudly displayed on the inside of Lisa's Spirit Airlines plane said it best: Vacuum sealed to hold all Vegas Secrets

THANK YOU for taking this journey with us. We couldn't do it with out you! Here's to the next 55,000 words!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa



Amy Hill Hearth's 5 Things I'd Tell The Teen Me

Our guest today: Amy Hill Hearth Why we love her: Her writing is delightful!

Her latest: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

The scoop: Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962.

With humor and insight the novel chronicles the awkward North-South cultural divide as Jackie, this hapless but charming “Yankee,” looks for some excitement in her life by accepting an opportunity to host a local radio show where she creates a mysterious, late-night persona, “Miss Dreamsville,” and by launching a reading group—the Collier County Women’s Literary Society—thus sending the conservative and racially segregated town into uproar. The only townspeople who venture to join are regarded as outsiders at best—a young gay man, a divorced woman, a poet, and a young black woman who dreams of going to college.

Inspired by a real person, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society will touch the heart of anyone and everyone who has ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.

Our thoughts: We think you'll love this heartwarming tale.

Giveaway: THREE Copies!  Leave a comment and you'll be entered to win!  We'll choose the winners on Sunday, October 21st after 6pm PST.

Fun fact: Amy has written several very interesting non-fiction books, check them out!

Where to read more about Amy: Her website, or Facebook.


1.     Being an outsider or outcast can make you strong.

2.     Ask more questions. Don’t accept lame answers.

3.     Be kind to everyone, but never, ever allow yourself to become a doormat.

4.     Don’t wear your trendiest clothes and wildest hairdo for your class picture.

5.     Seek advice from older people. They really do know more than you do (most of the time).

Thanks Amy! 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