Liz's Best Books of 2014 plus giveaway!

The Vacationers by Emma StraubMiss Brenda and The Loveladiesa Paris Apertment by Michelle GableindexBig Little Lies by Liane MoriartyTwisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster  



The Good Girl by Mary KubicaThe Art of Adapting by Cassandra DunnA little bit of everything lost






OMGEEEEE. Where the hell did 2014 go? It feels like just yesterday we were getting ready to launch Your Perfect Life. And speaking of launches--we can't wait for The Status of All Things--officially launching June 2, 2015! Read what it's about here!

But one thing is for sure--we read a great TON of books this year. SO many that it was really hard to narrow it down. And we want to know what YOUR favorite books of 2014 were. Tell us here and you'll be entered a stack of TEN mystery books. Yep, ten! Leave a comment--contest closes December 14th at 8am PST.

Oh, and be one the lookout tomorrow for Lisa's top books of the year plus another major TEN book giveaway!

1. The Vacationers by Emma Straub

The Vacationers by Emma StraubConfession: I didn't want to like this book. It was so over-hyped last summer that I was sure I'd be disappointed. But to my surprise and delight, this story about a family vacation was both witty and slyly insightful. And it even inspired us write our next book in a third person narrative. So if that ends up sucking, you know who to blame! (Emma Straub, of course!)

The Scoop: For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

2. Miss Brenda and The Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell

Miss Brenda and The LoveladiesI sat down one Saturday afternoon and thought I'd read a few chapters of this non-fiction book and then get a few things done around the house. Five hours later, my house was still a total mess and i was wiping tears off my face as I read the last page. If you only read one non-fiction book this year, READ THIS. It will restore your faith in humanity, I promise.

The Scoop: For Brenda Spahn, entrepreneur and businesswoman, wealth was a lifestyle—until a brush with the law threatened to send her to prison. In those dark moments, Brenda made a promise to God.  Spared incarceration, a renewed Brenda glimpsed into the lives of women serving time in one of the worst places in America—the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.

What she saw prompted a God-inspired vision.

With a heart to help and a will that couldn’t be crushed, Brenda fought the system and overcame tremendous obstacles to take ex-cons into her own home and help them navigate the alien world of life on the outside.

This is the story of Brenda’s journey from rags to riches to redemption. It’s the story of the first unlikely year of her “Whole Way House” and of the extraordinary lives of the first seven women who came to call her “Miss Brenda.” It’s a story that testifies to the power of faith and how God changes hearts every day.

3. A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable

a Paris Apertment by Michelle GableI felt as if I was walking through Paris as I turned the pages of this beautifully written novel. Fast paced and smartly written, there's a reason why this charming debut novel is a national bestseller!

The Scoop: When April Vogt's boss tells her about an apartment in the ninth arrondissement that has been discovered after being shuttered for the past seventy years, the Sotheby's continental furniture specialist does not hear the words "dust" or "rats" or "decrepit." She hears Paris. She hears escape.

Once in France, April quickly learns the apartment is not merely some rich hoarder's repository. Beneath the cobwebs and stale perfumed air is a goldmine, and not because of the actual gold (or painted ostrich eggs or mounted rhinoceros horns or bronze bathtub). First, there's a portrait by one of the masters of the Belle Epoque, Giovanni Boldini. And then there are letters and journals written by the very woman in the painting, Marthe de Florian. These documents reveal that she was more than a renowned courtesan with enviable decolletage. Suddenly April's quest is no longer about the bureaux plats and Louis-style armchairs that will fetch millions at auction. It's about discovering the story behind this charismatic woman.

It's about discovering two women, actually.

With the help of a salty (and annoyingly sexy) Parisian solicitor and the courtesan's private diaries, April tries to uncover the many secrets buried in the apartment. As she digs into Marthe's life, April can't help but take a deeper look into her own. Having left behind in the States a cheating husband, a family crisis about to erupt, and a career she's been using as the crutch to simply get by, she feels compelled to sort out her own life too. When the things she left bubbling back home begin to boil over, and Parisian delicacies beyond flaky pâtisseries tempt her better judgment, April knows that both she and Marthe deserve happy finales.


4. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

indexFor the record, another novel that absolutely lives up the its hype. Suspenseful and entertaining, you won't be able to a thing done until you read the last page and find out what the hell happened. (And FYI, one of our all-time fave books is Liane's The Hypnotist's Love Story--check it out!)

The Scoop: What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.


5. Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany

Safe With Me by Amy HatvanyAmy does it again in this gripping and brilliant story about a grieving mother who intersects with the family who received her daughter's donated organ. So, so SO well done--and my new personal favorite of hers!

The Scoop: The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. A year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, survived only because Hannah’s daughter had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him in the wake of the transplant that saved their daughter’s life. Meanwhile, Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

A masterful narrative shaped by nuanced characters whose delicate bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a riveting triumph

6. Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Twisted Sisters by Jen LancasterCome on, now. How could I resist a good body switching story? There's magic, humor and a fast paced plot. Who could ask for anything more?

The Scoop: Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.

Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution…

Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled…

7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl by Mary KubicaAre you a Gone Girl  fan? Then you must pick up this thriller--I devoured it and was gaping at the ending. Another marvelous debut by a talented author.

The Scoop: "I've been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don't know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she's scared. But I will."

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Colin's job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.


8. The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn

The Art of Adapting by Cassandra DunnLoved The Rosie Project? Then you'll flip for this irresistible debut novel about a recently divorced woman woman who finds herself while picking up the pieces of her life.

The Scoop: In this warm and winning first novel, a recently divorced woman rises to the challenge and experiences the exhilaration of independence with the unlikely help of her brother with Asperger's, who she takes in to help pay the rent.

Seven months after her husband leaves her, Lana is still reeling. Being single means she is in charge of every part of her life, and for the first time in nineteen years, she can do things the way she always wanted to do them. But that also leaves her with all the responsibility. With two teenage children—Byron and Abby, who are each dealing with their own struggles—in a house she can barely afford on her solo salary, her new life is a balancing act made even more complicated when her brother Matt moves in.

Matt has Asperger’s syndrome, which makes social situations difficult for him and flexibility and change nearly impossible. He only eats certain foods in a certain order and fixates on minor details. When Lana took him in, he was self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to numb his active mind enough to sleep at night. Adding Matt’s regimented routine to her already disrupted household seems like the last thing Lana needs, but her brother’s unique attention to detail makes him an invaluable addition to the family: he sees things differently.



A Little Bit of Everything Lost by Stephanie Elliot

A little bit of everything lostWhoa! I really enjoyed this--it's sultry and soulful--not to mention hot, hot HOT!

The scoop: Falling in love for the first time made Marnie feel a little bit lost... At 19, Marnie plunged into first love with Joe, a guy who was completely wrong for her. Their romance was fast and exhilarating and like nothing Marnie had ever experienced or understood. Just as quickly as it began, it was over, with no explanation. He left her with unanswered questions and unexpected feelings of loss and regret, and a quiet grief she would carry with her for the next fifteen years.

When Joe returns, Marnie is a 34-year-old wife and mother to two rambunctious little boys, who is slowly healing from a devastating loss. All the emotions she suppressed from the past fifteen years surge to the surface, threatening to ruin her marriage and destroy her family. She'll need to confront the one person who hurt her the most to realize that love and loss sometimes go hand in hand… and that you have to live with some of your toughest choices for the rest of your life.

A Little Bit of Everything Lost is part coming-of-age/part love story. It's a story about a woman desperate to make peace with the past. It's for all women who have ever experienced the magnitude of first love, whether it was a lasting bond or a fleeting moment. Because first love - while it might not have been the best love - is a love none of us ever forgets.


Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Twisted_Sisters_coverY'all know how much we love on Jen Lancaster. In fact, we gushed about her just yesterday, the day her latest novel, TWISTED SISTERS, was released. Three words: BUY. IT. NOW. We can't say enough times how lucky we feel that Jen and so many other talented authors have not only taken the time to read our novel, but have also praised it. (Thank you, thank you, thank you, lovely ladies!). In the coming weeks, we will reveal who else gave us a glowing review. But today is about Jen and her tenth book, TWISTED SISTERS! Yes, we just wrote TENTH. Let's take a moment of silence to praise her for that! We loved her novel so much we chose it for our book club pick of the month. It's funny. It's thought-provoking. It's the perfect book to read if you need an escape from the weather or whatever else you're hatin' on right now.

And guess what? We have one copy to give away (US). Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll select that lucky someone on Sunday, February 9th after 3pm PST.

Here's the scoop: Reagan Bishop is a pusher. A licensed psychologist who stars on the Wendy Winsberg cable breakout show I Need a Push, Reagan helps participants become their best selves by urging them to overcome obstacles and change behaviors. An overachiever, Reagan is used to delivering results.

Despite her overwhelming professional success, Reagan never seems to earn her family’s respect. Her younger sister, Geri, is and always will be the Bishop family favorite. When a national network buys Reagan’s show, the pressures for unreasonably quick results and higher ratings mount. But Reagan’s a clinician, not a magician, and fears witnessing her own personal failings in prime time. (And seriously? Her family will never let her hear the end of it.) Desperate to make the show work and keep her family at bay, Reagan actually listens when the show’s New Age healer offers an unconventional solution…

Record Nielsen ratings follow. But when Reagan decides to use her newfound power to teach everyone a lesson about sibling rivalry, she’s the one who will be schooled…

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

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

Photo credit: Deborah Feingold

1. In honor of your novel, TWISTED SISTERS, you've been posting "twisted" photos during the month of January. What's been your favorite picture?

I love the shot of my dogs posing with a copy of the book.  It’s really hard for dogs to look “fierce” wearing matching cableknit turtlenecks and posing in front of a floral wallpaper backdrop, but Libby and Hambone manage to pull it off.  Miss Tyra Banks would give the girls extra credit for smizing, too.  They have definite Top Model potential.

2. Your hilarious novel includes sibling rivalry, body-swapping and reality TV. How did you think of the plot?

To fully answer this question, I have to explain that I would rather die than write a love scene.  DIE.  There’s not enough bourbon in the world to keep me from giggling like a twelve year old at the thought of penning anything vaguely sexy.  (So, no, there will never, ever be a Fifty Shades of Bitter book.)  Because romance is off the table, I’m constantly trying to look at relationships outside of the sexual realm.  And, really is there anything more fascinating than the way women relate to other women?  Plus, I wanted to explore the nuances of what it might be like to have a sister.  (My theory is it’s like having a best friend you occasionally hate.)  I also had such fun with the magical realism element of Here I Go Again that I was anxious to try it again, hence the Freaky Friday aspect.  And reality TV?  Well, I wish I could quit you, reality TV, yet here we are.

3. The cover is brilliant, as was your last. You are on an awesome cover roll! What's the story behind this cover? And while we're at it, how did you think of the title and when in the writing process did you come up with it?

Thank you!  (I happen to think YOUR new cover is pretty awesome, too.)  This one is my all-time favorite.  In the beginning, the covers of my memoirs were mostly text-based.  To differentiate between the fiction and non-fiction, we wanted to diversify the brands, so the art department tried something new.  As someone who often buys a book for the cover (I know, I know), I was thrilled when this option was presented because it sums up the story so succinctly.

4. You are a huge Breaking Bad fan. Now that you've finished binge watching that show, what's next? Or what have you started that you recommend?

I plowed through seven seasons of Weeds over the summer after inhaling Orange Is the New Black.  (Jenji Kohan, you’re the best.  Call me!)  I’m currently binge-watching The Good Wife and now I’m mad at all my friends who clearly didn’t insist strongly enough that I watch this show.  The one thing that’s making me absolutely crazy is that for as well as they nail Chicago politics, they’ve completely biffed the logistics.  Why would the Cook County State’s Attorney live in Lake County?  Why would a realtor in Oak Park list a house in Highland Park?  And hot dog vendors?  On the street in this city?  No.  And how come no one ever walks around in Chicago team shirts or has a mustache?  The tiny details annoy me, I guess largely because they get all the larger points right.

5. You're very open with your fans on social media. But is there something they might be surprised to know about you?

After writing seven damn memoirs, I’m not really sure there are a lot of surprises left.  People know how much I love husband and my friends and how I spoil my pets.  I always share reading/watching/listening suggestions and they’re kept abreast of whatever my hobby-du-jour is, such as my current obsessions with refurbishing old furniture and learning Italian and growing roses.  I guess they don’t know I just ordered a bunch of supplies to start building my own terrariums?  So, terrariums.  When I start to yammer on about terrariums, please, everyone, do your best to seem surprised.

Thanks, Jen!



Flash Giveaway! Jen Lancaster's The Tao of Martha

tao_of_martha.inddGiveaway: TWO copies of The Tao of Martha: My Year of LIVING; Or, Why I'm Never Getting All of That Glitter off of the Dog The scoop: One would think that with Jen Lancaster’s impressive list of bestselling self-improvement memoirs—Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such a Pretty Fat; Pretty in Plaid; My Fair Lazy; and Jeneration X—that she would have it all together by now.

One would be wrong.Jen’s still a little rough around the edges. Suffice it to say, she’s no Martha Stewart. And that is exactly why Jen is going to Martha up and live her life according to the advice of America’s overachieving older sister—the woman who turns lemons into lavender-infused lemonade.By immersing herself in Martha’s media empire, Jen will embark on a yearlong quest to take herself, her house, her husband (and maybe even her pets) to the next level—from closet organization to craft making, from party planning to kitchen prep.

Maybe Jen can go four days without giving herself food poisoning if she follows Martha’s dictates on proper storage....Maybe she can grow closer to her girlfriends by taking up their boring-ass hobbies like knitting and sewing.…Maybe she can finally rid her workout clothes of meatball stains by using Martha’s laundry tips.… Maybe she can create a more meaningful anniversary celebration than just getting drunk in the pool with her husband....again. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll discover that the key to happiness does, in fact, lie in Martha’s perfectly arranged cupboards and artfully displayed charcuterie platters.

Or maybe not.

Our thoughts: HILARIOUS. Absolutely loved, loved, loved! And are now inspired to do something domestic (SANS glitter!).

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

Leave a comment to be entered. The winners will be chosen on Wednesday, June 12th after 8am PST.

Jen Lancaster's 5 BEST EVERS

9780451236722N9780451236722Our guest today: Jen Lancaster! Why we love her: The question should be, how can you NOT love her?! She is SASSY and so are her books.

Her latest: Here I Go Again

The scoop: Twenty years after ruling the halls of her suburban Chicago high school, Lissy Ryder doesn’t understand why her glory days ended. Back then, she was worshipped...beloved...feared. Present day, not so much. She’s been pink-slipped from her high-paying job, dumped by her husband and kicked out of her condo. Now, at thirty-seven, she’s struggling to start a business out of her parents’ garage and sleeping under the hair-band posters in her old bedroom.

Lissy finally realizes karma is the only bitch bigger than she was. Her present is miserable because of her past. But it’s not like she can go back in time and change who she was...or can she?

Our thoughts: This one is our FAVE of Jen's so far.  It's Back To The Future meets Mean Girls and we promise you are going to devour every word. LOVED it!

Giveaway: FIVE copies, yo!  Leave a comment and we'll choose winners after February 4th at 8am.

Fun fact: Want to meet Jen in person?  She might be coming your way on her book tour--check out the dates here.

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


6cd96de10c080ad8976f57.L._V213787453_SX200_1. BEST SONG I’m mercurial when it comes to music.  I’ll get into a mode and a handful of songs will suddenly become my Best Evers before quickly fading back into oblivion.  (Ahem, Taylor Swift.  Ahem.)  Right now I’m obsessed with 80s metal.  In Here I Go Again, heroine - and I use that term loosely - Lissy Ryder is a closet fan of all things Whitesnake, which is so far removed from the new wave/alternative music I lived for back in the day.  To get into Lissy’s character, I required a YouTube-based rock education.   Often, my husband would walk past my office, incredulous to hear Pantera coming out of my speakers.

Turns out, the more I listened to old metal, the more I came to appreciate the power behind it.  I defy anyone to not be moved watching Metallica doing Enter Sandman live in Moscow in 1991 in front of 100,000  screaming Russians.  So, I feel like I’ve discovered the entirely new universe, particularly the hair metal genre.  Some of my new (old) favorites include Whitesnake, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue.  Plus, I’m so tickled by the reaction I get from hipsters every time I pull up in my sweet convertible, wearing soccer-mom Capris, a ponytail, and pearls, with Rock You Like a Hurricane cranked up to eleven.  They look at their vintage Schwinns and skinny jeans, all, “My life is a lie.”  (Thus, my work here is done.)

2. BEST BOOK Again, mercurial.  Right now I’m obsessed with J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, which is just as brilliant as the Harry Potter novels, in an entirely dissimilar way.  I didn’t realize exactly how different it would be until I got to a part about a miserable teenage boy and I thought to myself, “Wait a minute… wizards don’t wank!”  I have so much additional respect for Rowling after reading this book.  She took everything she learned about creating a magical universe and used it to breathe life into her version of the sleepy little town of Pagford.  I’m bowled over by her prowess in crafting so many distinct, complex characters.  I’m in awe of her bravery for working against the archetype of pure evil and pure good like she did in Harry Potter.  Every character is layered and nuanced and imperfect.  Are any of them likable?  Generally, no, and that’s part of this quiet book’s subtle genius.  And spoiler alert?  She’s not afraid to eschew the happy ending.  The Casual Vacancy isn’t for everyone, especially for those yearning for a grown up version of Hogwarts.  But for me?  It’s my Best Ever for 2012.

3. BEST MOVIE Do I even need to mention that my favorites change depending on my mood?  My perennial must-watch-each-time-they’re-on films score pretty high on the cheese-o-meter, e.g. Day After Tomorrow, The Hot Chick (and really, anything with Rob Schneider), 13 Going on 30, MIB, Independence Day, and The Incredible Mr. Limpet (wherein Don Knotts is a cartoon fish who helps the US win WWII in the Pacific Theater), so I’m probably not the Best Ever person to ask.  I saw Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild last winter and I left the theater completely confused, thinking to myself, “So, the earth is sick, the little girl eats dog food, the rains come down and they have to sail around a motorized bathtub, and then she visits her mom on Prostitute Island.  I don’t get it.”  I guess I prefer to do my thinking while reading.  In movies, Will Smith + alien invaders + quirky sidekick = Best Ever.

4. BEST LIFE MOMENT The first time I realized that I wouldn’t have to go back to temping while trying to make it as an author.  I had an event at the Chicago Barnes & Noble where I’d also signed my first two books.  Each time, I had twenty to thirty people attend, which was outstanding.  There’s nothing worse than having a book signing where no one comes.  Trust me on this one.  So when I walked in the store, I noticed that there was no one in the area where the event was always held and I was disappointed.  Not surprised, having had it happen before, but bummed nonetheless.  But then the event coordinator spotted me and brought me upstairs to where two hundred and fifty women were waiting.  I was astounded and humbled.  A week later, my memoir Such a Pretty Fat not only hit the New York Times bestseller list, but stayed there for most of the summer, and that’s when I knew I was finally done fetching coffee and making copies.

5. BEST PIECE OF ADVICE The minute you stop being fixated on looking cool is the minute your entire world changes for the better.  Whatever you pursue in life, do it because it makes you happy, and not because you want to post an impressive Facebook status update.  There’s no shame in loving cheesy music or opting for onion rings over escargot, if that’s what you want in the moment.  Generally, people are too self-absorbed to even notice your efforts, so you may as well do what you like.  Ultimately, the only opinion that really matters is your own.

Thanks, Jen! xoxo, L&L

Jen Lancaster's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We're pinching ourselves. Jen Lancaster on our site twice? In three months? WTF?

Last time Jen was here--celebrating CLIND's 3rd birthday and sharing the 5 things she'd tell her teen self--our website LITERALLY crashed (the most exciting thing to happen to us in a long time!) because y'all flooded it with over 600 comments about how much you CRUSH on her and LOVE her books.

Well, we're prepared (and weirdly excited) that it may happen again. Because she's baaaaack and of course giving away 5 copies of her latest- and if you ask us her funniest (we're Gen X'ers, it was a no-brainer)- Jeneration X and sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over, which, of course, are perfection. Check out #4- so amazing and makes us love her even more.

So leave a comment to be entered to win!  We'll choose FIVE winners on Sunday May 13th after 6pm PST.  Good luck!

But first, here's the scoop on Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner: In Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster learned how to come to terms with her body. In My Fair Lazy, she expanded her mind. Now the New York Times bestselling author gives herself—and her generation—a kick in the X, by facing her greatest challenge to date: acting her age.

Jen is finally ready to put away childish things (except her Barbie Styling Head, of course) and embrace the investment-making, mortgage-carrying, life-insurance-having adult she’s become. From getting a mammogram to volunteering at a halfway house, she tackles the grown-up activities she’s resisted for years, and with each rite of passage she completes, she’ll uncover a valuable—and probably humiliating—life lesson that will ease her path to full-fledged, if reluctant, adulthood.


Greetings from the Jeneration X World (okay, National) Tour!  I'm delighted to be here at Chick Lit Is Not Dead again and so pleased to share this latest round of Dos and a Do-Over. Thanks, ladies - you rock!

Although I'm fairly prolific in telling people what they should and should not do, it's nice when my advice is actually solicited instead of, um... offered anyway. (Read: communicated from the front seat of my car by way of the horn and an obscene finger gesture.)  But seriously, if some kid feels it's imperative to post on Facebook while driving and thus endanger my life over a scintillating missive regarding her great distaste for Mondays, then it's MY job to set her straight.

Not just for me, though.

For the future of America.

The topic of the way things ought to be has been weighing heavily on my mind ever since I began writing Jeneration X, a guide to helping reluctant adults everywhere grow up!  (I realize it's difficult to take the great leap to maturity, but I've done all the hard work for you.)  This book is a bit of a throwback to my early work, meaning I've gotten a little too nice in my past few memoirs. But fear not... the bitch from Bitter is back!

And with that being said, here we go!

1. DO stop flying by the seat of your pants.  For the longest time, I let important things like writing a will fall by the wayside.  I didn't want to have to face the idea of my own mortality so I evaded the whole process.  In my head, I equivocated "no will" with "no untimely demise."  But after one particularly turbulent cross-country flight, it occurred to me that I needed more than a cocktail napkin declaring "I leave everything to my pit bull Maisy" if things suddenly went awry.  Didn't want to do one, but I did it anyway.  Now I'm not prematurely aging from the stress of having so many loose ends, which, clearly, is a priority.

2. DO believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, but not in that "I've had zero formal training, yet I'm shocked I didn't make it to Hollywood on American Idol" way.  Dream big, but understand that success doesn't happen by accident.  Put in the effort to cultivate your talent and then you'll be unstoppable.

3. DO your homework when it comes to your bottom line.  Now's the time to take advantage of those lower interest rates, boring though the process may seem.  A quick caveat here - try not to get so wrapped up watching an internet girl-fight before you leave that you barely have enough time to get dressed and, thus, end up throwing on a bra that's too tight and spend the whole refinancing meeting quietly moaning about the shackles binding your chest.  And then also remember that the bank's reflective windows mean you can't see in, but they can see out.  So, when you remove your bra all Flashdance-style in the parking lot, you will have an unintended audience.  I realize this is a very specific example, but trust me when I say the new bank will not be impressed with applicants who strip in the parking lot.

4. DO spread the love.  Over the years, I've learned that my favorite people are other authors.  You'd think that we'd all be ultra-competitive with one another so I was pleasantly surprised at what a supportive sisterhood I've found in wonderful writers like Caprice Crane, Karyn Bosnak, Stacey Ballis, Quinn Cummings, Sarah Pekkanen, Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Allison Winn Scotch, Jane Green, and Beth Harbison (and many, many others.) Writing isn't Highlander in that there can be only one.  And this year, at Jen Weiner's suggestion, we're making it our job to champion up and coming authors because it's tough sledding out there for the new gals and we want to do what we can to help them reach larger audiences.

5. DO live in the moment.  I got my start as a writer when I was laid off ten years ago.  In that time while I was searching for a job, I never once just enjoyed the moment.  Granted it's hard to unclench when the wolves are at the door, but I feel like if I'd ever stopped for one second and thought, "For the next couple of hours, I should quit worrying and just appreciate that I don't have eleven bosses telling me what to do," then I probably would have been a lot less intense in my job interviews.  In retrospect, I am very happy with how it all turned out, but I wish I could have cut myself a small break now and again.

And finally...

DO NOT hire the cheapest accountant you can find.  Believe me when I say this is the most expensive lesson I ever learned. Ditto for doctors and lawyers.  These are instances where credentials far outweigh savings.

So... that's it!  Again, ladies, thanks so much for having me and don't forget, it's never too late to unarrest your arrested development.  I know I've crossed over to the dark side of adulthood, but it's clean and nice over here and we never run out of toilet paper...

Thank YOU, Jen!



To find out more about Jen Lancaster, check out her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Jen Lancaster's 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me

Happy 3rd Birthday to our perfect baby, Chick Lit Is Not Dead. Thank you for never keeping us up all night, never having a diaper blow out, for never going through those terrible twos--and most importantly, for never talking back! We love you. In the last three years, we've hosted over 150 authors, launched five features (number six revealed today!) and written two (almost three) books.

But today it's all about the number ONE.

One majuhly talented and funny as hell author who's on our site to help us celebrate...

You know that feeling when you see a young guy that's so hot you don't care that you're openly salivating like a cougar in heat?

Or when you bite into that rich, chocolate dessert that's so good you don't care that it's going straight to your ass?

Or when you cry just a little when Phillip Phillips makes it into American Idol's top 24. (Okay, maybe that's just Lisa.)


That's how we felt when this author not only said YES to our invitation to help us celebrate, but to launch our latest feature: 5 Things I'd Tell the Teen Me.

Jen. Effing. Lancaster

Need we say more?

Oh and just for shits and giggles, we also asked if she'd give away FIVE copies of her fabulous novel, If You Were Here (out in paperback March 6th). She said yes to that too. Y'all can thank us later. Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win one of five copies. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm PST on Sunday, March 4.

So we're not going to make you wait any longer because we're not dumb asses. We know you want to find out what Jen Lancaster has to say.


First, happy anniversary! Cheers to three great years of bringing chick lit authors and readers together!

I’m really excited to share the advice I’d give to a teenage me. This topic is at the very front of my mind as I’m in the middle of writing a novel called Here I Go Again which takes an in-depth look at the origin of high school mean girls. The central theme is how decisions we make in the past can impact us for years to come. (I realize this sounds uber-serious, so please note there’s also a time travel element and a tribute to David Coverdale of Whitesnake.)

Anyway, if I could offer a seventeen year old Jeni five bits of advice, I’d say the following:

1. Stop calling yourself “Jeni” and dotting the “i” with a sunflower. You sound like an asshole.

2. Okay, the first suggestion is pretty specific, so I’ll do six instead. Ahem, here goes… everyone is currently going through something. Yeah, maybe you know some girls who seem to have their shit together more than you. Maybe they’re thinner and more popular, maybe they’re dating the guy you wish you were with, maybe they have a designer bag for which you’d kill. Don’t waste your time envying them because you have no idea what happens behind the closed doors of their life. All is not what it seems. Maybe the skinny chick has an eating disorder. Maybe the girl with the hot boyfriend puts up with his abuse. Maybe the one with an awesome bag would rather have nothing if it meant her divorcing parents weren’t engaged in a possession-based arms race. Don’t let yourself be distracted by what anyone else has or what you believe you lack. You just worry about you. The grass is rarely greener.

3. Don’t be so wrapped up in looking cool. Follow the Tao of Snookie on Jersey Shore when she says, “You do you and I’ll do me.” (I assume this is more of a “to thine own self be true” aphorism and not something sexual.) (At least I hope.) Be who you want to be, not who everyone peer-pressures you to be. Individuality is cool. Following the pack for the sake of belonging isn’t.

4. You’re not fat. Seriously, you’ll never have the metabolism of a seventeen year old again. Appreciate what you have now, because trust me, your ass will never be this high again.

5. If you believe high school is the best time of your life, then you’re doing it wrong. “It gets better” should ring true for almost everyone. If it doesn’t resonate with you, then you’re probably your high school’s version of Regina George. Fix that shit immediately or you’re going to be the gal who peaked at seventeen and who everyone shuns at the reunion.

6. The harder you work now, the easier it will be when you get older. I coasted through high school, doing what was expected and not a lick more. Then in college, I did even less. Sure, eventually everything worked out for me, but not without having to move some major boulders in my thirties. I wish that I’d possessed awareness that my path would have been so much smoother if I’d buckled down when I was building a foundation.

Now if only I could travel back in time and tell my high school self these things…

Anyway, happy anniversary, thanks for having me, and rock on!

Thanks, Jen!


Liz & Lisa

If you're not already, you should be following Jen Lancaster's hilarious and refreshingly honest blog, Jennsylvania. And be on the look out for her upcoming book, Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult's Attempt to Unarrest Her Arrested Development; Or, Why It's Never Too Late for Her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not for Dinner.


Wendy Wax's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Can we just pat ourselves on the back for a second and say that we're really lovin on our 5 Do's and Do-Over feature? It's been uhmazing to get such great advice from some of our favorite authors including Sarah Pekkanen, Kristin Hannah and Jen Lancaster. And now we get to add the immensely talented Wendy Wax to that list! (And she has some powerful advice- more on that in a minute.) But first...since The Accidental Bestseller, we've been hooked on Wendy's writing and are always giddy with anticipation as we wait to see what she comes up with next. And with Ten Beach Road she wowed us again. First of all, when we look at the cover of Ten Beach Road it makes us think of Summer- in a good way! Not in the OMG, we have to sqeeze our booties into bikinis way, but in an I'm excited to lounge by the pool with a cocktail and pretend I don't have a spare tire (Lisa) kind of way.  And then when we read Ten Beach Road, a powerful novel about friendship, trust and love, we were inspired and excited to tell y'all all about it.

Synopsis: Madeline, Avery and Nikki are strangers to one another, but they have one thing in common.  They each wake up one morning to discover that their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager…leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.

Madeline Singer is a homemaker coping with empty-nest syndrome and an unemployed husband. Avery Lawford is an architect—or was, until she somehow became the sidekick on her ex-husband’s TV show.   And professional matchmaker Nikki Grant is trying to recover from her biggest mistake…

No on is going to save them but themselves. Determined to fight back, they throw their lots in together and take on the challenge of restoring the historic beach house to its former glory. But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, their secrets threaten to tear down their trust, and destroy their lives a second time…

And if you leave a comment, you'll be entered to win one of FIVE copies of Ten Beach Road. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm on Wednesday, May 11.



1.      Do try to see the positive. I didn’t come wired this way, but my goal is to become a ‘glass is half full’ person instead of a ‘half empty’, or ‘always-holding-a- dribble-glass’ kind of person. I’m drawn to positive people, and I’d like to be one of them!

2.      Do study or travel abroad if you get the chance. My six months in Florence as a college student were filled with constant challenges, but I learned a lot, much of it about myself. And if you’re single, go ahead and date that Italian guy that you need a dictionary to communicate with. I still remember my Italian boyfriend, Umberto, with fondness and, frankly, sometimes not knowing what they’re saying is a plus.

3.      Do embrace change. Life is too short to settle for less than you want or deserve in either your professional or personal life.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert was right! After years of being attracted to ‘bad boys’ I finally said yes when a ‘nice’ guy asked me out. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and based on my father-in -law’s maxim that ‘the first forty years are the most difficult’ we’re only fifteen years away from Nirvana.

4.      Do listen to your mother – at least on occasion. I spent a lot of my life rebelling and, in fact, when my entirely suitable husband asked me to marry him, right after I said yes I may have actually added that I hated to make my mother that happy.

It’s amazing how much smarter your mother seems after you become one.

5.      Do open your mind. Step outside your comfort zone. Find new things that interest you. It sounds so obvious, but it can be hard to do. I doubt I’ll ever take up wildlife medicine or hang gliding, but I’m thinking about finally learning golf (one of the many things I rebelled against as a teenager) or rowing, or... I don’t know, but just thinking about what I might try next is invigorating.


For me, this ties in to becoming a ‘glass is half full’ person. I think we all need to be able to appreciate and accept ourselves right now, in the moment. This photo was taken on Pass-a-Grille beach (where Ten Beach Road is set) about 25 years ago. Today I think, hmmm, not bad. (Okay, actually I would kill to look like this now!) At the time I was wishing my thighs weren’t so fat.

To find out more about the lovely and talented Wendy Wax, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks, Wendy! xoxo,


Jen Lancaster's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

There's a reason why the fabulous Jen Lancaster has a bazillon-million Facebook fans.  She. Rocks!  And we're as giddy as little schoolgirls at a Justin Bieber concert about the fact that she's sharing her Do's and a Do-Over today here at CLIND! Jen's bestselling memoirs are freakin' hilarious.  Now, with If You Were Here, she makes her fiction debut and we couldn't be happier about it.  In fact, when we discovered that If You Were Herehad more John Hughes's references than a VH1 special-we were SOLD.  Because nothing makes us happier than waxing nostalgic over the movies we grew up with.  And we gotta love anyone that, like us, drooled over Jake and that damn Porsche in the movie Sixteen Candles.  Too bad our "Jake Complex" led us to make some very unfortunate dating choices growing up!  But hey, we don't know about you, but there's still a spot for him and his Porsche on our short list. *wink wink*

And we loved If You Were Here-it's a fun read that will have you LOLing in every chapter!  A perfect pick-me-up after a long week!

If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John Hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations.

Sounds fun, right?  We have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win.  Doesn't get much easier than that, people.  We'll choose the winners on Friday May 6th after 6pm PST.  Good Luck!



5 DO'S

1. Be prepared. No one will fight harder for what you want than you.  Doing your homework gives you the confidence to fight.  Take job hunting, for example.  When people are asked to come interview, most applicants read the employer’s website and can parrot back the company’s mission statement if asked.  But if you want this job, dig deeper.  Work harder than your competition.  Research the organization in-depth.  Read trade journals.  Gain some perspective on how this employer has the competitive advantage, or what they might need to improve it.  Become well-versed in how legislation/lobbyists are changing the corporate landscape.  Take inventory of your personal strengths and practice explaining how these skills dovetail into the organization’s very specific needs.  Yes, it’s a lot of extra effort.  But if you’re properly prepared, the employer will snap you up if for no reason other than to keep their competitors from hiring you.

2.  Be charming. The above only works if you can do it all with a genuine smile on your face.  Life is a lot like one of my favorite reality shows - Survivor.  Yeah, it’s important to excel at challenges and carry your own weight around camp, but ultimately positive social interactions win the game.  Boston Rob always goes far because he’s smart and he’s strong, but being funny and cute has been of equal importance.  (Maybe he hasn’t won the million yet, but his charm is what keeps CBS asking him back.)

3.  Embrace failure. Despite your best efforts to be both prepared and charming, bad things still happen.  Learn that failure doesn’t define you; recovering from failure does.  When I was laid off from my executive job, I thought my life was over.  Yet during my jobless tenure, I discovered that I didn’t actually like working a boring corporate desk job.  If I hadn’t failed at being an executive, I’d never have had the opportunity to pursue a more creative line of work.  To pass the long, empty days home alone, I wrote scathing blog posts about being unemployed, only to discover that the act of writing fueled me.  Documenting the story of my failure turned into writing Bitter Is the New Black and the rest is history.

4.  More Ferris, Less Cameron.  Ferris Bueller said it best – sometimes you need to take the day off.  Life does move pretty fast sometimes, and if you don’t, say, steal your dad’s vintage Ferrari to cruise around the city on occasion, you might miss it.  Goof off once in a while.  Spend a long, leisurely afternoon with Real Housewives on the TiVo and some Ben & Jerry’s.  You might be surprised at how productive you’ll be if you allow yourself a minute to recharge your batteries.

5.  Charlie Sheen is not #winning.  Ever. Despite Sheen’s deplorable behavior, there are still women out there – clever, confident, capable women – who honestly believe they can change him.  And yet his string of unhappy ex-wives and girlfriends begs to differ.  Sure, it’s always exhilarating to date the Charlies of the world, but ultimately the stress of loving a bad boy is going to break your heart and make you wrinkle prematurely.  A nice guy will give you a happily ever after whereas a bad boy will make a few unhappy months feel like an eternity.  Choose wisely – there’s only so much Botox can fix.


Do not do it yourself. You know how your hairdresser makes a simple bang-trim look effortless?  Like, so easy that anyone could do it?  Including yourself?  And so you tried?  And had to wear a hat for a month?  You see, your stylist is a trained professional and she cuts bangs all day, every day, for fifty-plus weeks a year.  You cannot replicate this.  Do not try.  A while ago, my husband and I took this lesson to heart, only instead of cutting our own hair, we wanted to rehab a house after watching HGTV.  We rationalized, “Hey!  That’s not so hard!  We could rehab a house!  And I could write a memoir about it!”  And then I remembered the last time I cut my own bangs and those were the longest eight weeks of my life, so we didn’t buy the fixer-upper.  Instead, I let my character Mia give home renovations a whirl in my novel If You Were Here.  And when the first toilet came crashing through the ceiling in her office, I bet Mia wished she’d heeded my advice.  Leave it to the professionals.  You’ll thank me later.

To read more about the hilarious Jen Lancaster, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter and Facebook!

Thanks Jen!  xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Ask Liz & Lisa-How do we book authors?

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Ask Liz & Lisa! Want some blogging advice?  In a twit over a tweet?  Have some mama drama you need to hug out? We're here for you, girlfrin'! Just send us an email and ask us anything!  And because we know y'all love to win things, if we feature your Q, we'll send you a book!  So what are you waiting for? Email  Operators are standing by. No, not really.  But Liz keeps glancing down at her Blackberry.  So please put her out-oh-her misery and send an email already!

We've already received some fab Qs from you guys-so thank you!  Our first is from Shannon and we selected it because it's one of the questions we're most frequently asked when we meet new people.  And because we chose Shannon's Q, she'll be receiving Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen- the first author booked EVEH on Chick Lit is Not Dead.  Your question didn't get chosen?  No worries-this will be a regular feature here so look for it next time!

And leave a comment today and we'll enter you to win a book too! How about another copy of Cindy Jones' My Jane Austen Summer:A Season in Mansfield Park?  We'll choose the winners Wednesday April 13th after 6pm PST.

Dear Liz & Lisa,

I want to know how you come up with all these great authors for the blogs? Ask and they volunteer or how does it work? There are just so many great authors and books and I have no idea how any of it works- just love to read the blog!!!



*blushes* Thanks so much, Shannon!

There are a few ways we book authors for the site.

1. The publicist or author pitches us via email. We receive pitches daily from authors and/or publicists requesting to be interviewed for the site.  We request the books that pique our interest and put them into our (freakishly huge) TBR pile.  After we read them, we discuss each one and request interviews and giveaways from the ones we think you'll love!  We usually agree-although everyone once in a while we'll have a girlfight lively discussion about which ones to feature.  But we really try to bring you books and authors we think you'll love as much as we do.

2. We stalk contact authors via email and Facebook. We're always looking for the next great author for the site so we are constantly searching online and in bookstores to find that gem that we may have missed.  Or maybe it's someone that we'd pretty much do anything (well, almost anything- we draw the line at anything involving a stripper pole!)  to get our hot little hands on her (or his) 5 Do's and a Do-Over. (Judy Blume-we're talking to you!) Facebook is a great way to connect with our favorite authors and we've booked many of them this way!

3. Crystal Patriarche, publicist extraordinaire and the entire BookSparksPR team. We're incredibly lucky to work with Crystal and she books many of our authors- like the fabulous Lauren Weisberger, Jen Lancaster and Emily Giffin, as well as celebrity-turned-authors like Tori Spelling and Jessica Seinfeld.  She's also incredibly creative and helps us brainstorm our new features and huge giveaways as well as provides PR for the site. We would NOT be where we are without her!

That pretty much sums it up.  And we're appreciative that y'all keep coming to the site to read about authors, books, bucket lists, 5 things you didn't know lists, 5 Do's and a Do-over lists and more! Thanks for continuing to support us with your comments and majuh Facebook page love.  YOU make our job fun!

xoxo, L&L

Five Things Liz & Lisa didn't know about...Jen Lancaster

So let's be honest.  No one comes up with better titles than NYT bestselling author Jen Lancaster. When we first came across Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-centered Smart-Ass, Or why you should never carry your Prada bag to the unemployment office a few years ago, the title stopped us in our tracks. Any book with that funny of a title just HAD to be good.  And it didn't disappoint!

Now on her fifth memoir, Lancaster just keeps getting better and better!  In her latest, My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover if not Being a Dumb Ass is the New Black, or a Culture-Up Manifesto, Jen attempts to achieve cultural enlightenment and gives us a front row seat to the hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration she encounters along the way.

And we're as giddy as schoolgirls that she reached deep down for five things we didn't know about her.  Liz is a huge fan, even going so far as to stand in line for over an hour at a Pretty in Plaid book signing and then shamelessly forced her to take the copy of I'll Have Who She's Having that she had brought for her. (Sorry about that Jen!) But it was worth it to meet her-she was just as fabulous in person as she is in her books.

We just gave away a copy of the fabulous My Fair Lazy last week as part of our Flip for Liz & Lisa giveaway. And guess what?  We have two more copies for some lucky readers!  Just leave a comment to be entered!

5 Things Liz & Lisa didn't know about...Jen Lancaster!

You guys want five things no one knows about me?  Considering I make my living by writing about myself in books, on my website, though my syndicated column, and via Twitter, that’s a little harder than it sounds, but I’ll do my best.

Okay, first… I am Always Prepared. I’m prepared to the point of needing to capitalize the first letters of the words Always Prepared for I’m that prepared.  I perpetually hurt my back and strain my shoulder because of the amount of preparations I’m always carting around in my handbag.  Of course, I have the requisite chick-stuff in my bag… lipstick, compact, wallet, keys, sunglasses, pens, notepaper, business cards, dental floss, sunglasses, mints, gum, Kleenex, Kindle, iPhone, iTouch, hand sanitizer, dog treats, combination lock, four kinds of tampons, earplugs, a spare string of pearls in case I forget to wear them, and three different tubes of mascara depending on if I’m going for fullness, length, or curl.  Yet it’s those extra items that make all the difference in terms of preparedness.  For example, right now I’m not only carting around a gossamer-thin-matches-everything cashmere Burberry wrap but also a folding Benchmade combat knife.  I mean, how many times have you found yourself chilly or in need of a sharp knife for stabbing?  Well, not me, for I am Always Prepared.

Second, apparently my friends find my preparedness an endless source of amusement. I’m often tasked with emptying the contents of my purse at parties.  And yet I’m the only one of them who can pack for seven days on the road with a single carry-on bag.  I’m pretty sure that means I win.

Third, I missed the entire summer after my sophomore year of high school due to a particularly virulent case of mono. For two months, I did nothing but watch James Bond movies and read Danielle Steel books, thus beginning a lifelong love affair with smart-mouthed British dudes, well-timed explosions, and epic, cheesy romances.  Should Hugh Grant ever make a movie where something blew up, I’m pretty sure my heart would fly out of my chest.

Fourth, despite having my last three books debut on the New York Times best seller list, I can’t quite shake the feeling that the success is fleeting. Ergo, I still have every outfit I used to wear while working as a temp.  Should I suddenly need to take a letter, make a copy, or fetch some coffee, I’m all over it.

Last, I recently pre-ordered the entire set of Mad Men Barbies. (Seriously, how does any fan of the show not want these?  I mean Don and Betty Draper AND Joan Holloway?  Come on!)  However, in order to be allowed to purchase the Roger Sterling doll – and everyone wants a lecherous old white-haired Barbie, yes? - I had to join the Barbie Fan Club.  My official collector packet came via UPS.  I had to sign for the big pink envelope and I’m fairly sure my UPS guy is still laughing at me.  Mattel even sent me an official fan club membership card.  I carry it in my purse for I am Always Prepared.

You can read more about the lovely Jen Lancaster at her website or follow her on Twitter so you don't miss her sassy tweets!

xoxo, Liz & Lisa