Lit It Girl: Debut Author

Lit IT Girl: Debut author Allie Kingsley

Today's guest: Allie Kingsley Why we love her: We love discovering fabulous new authors!

Her debut: The Liar, The Bitch and The Wardrobe

The scoop on it: If you’re going to step on people on your way to the top, you might as well do it in stilettos . . .

. . . Or so she’s been told. Lucy Butler, former wallflower, lands her dream job working for her idol, world-famous fashion photographer Stefano Lepres. But in a world where getting doused in coffee for not getting the order right is the new normal, she isn’t getting any closer to her ideal of being behind the camera herself.
Then a superstar actress generously takes Lucy under her wing and teaches her the ways of the rich and famous—treating her to racks of designer clothes and introducing her to a life of private planes and penthouse suites. Soon Lucy is dating a rock star, attending the hottest Hollywood parties, and dressing the part.
Lost in the luxury, she loses sight of the things that once mattered most. It’s going to take a hard blow from the high life to send Lucy back to the real life she always wanted.
Our thoughts on it: LOVED this book loosely based on Allie's own real-life experiences in Hollywood. So juicy! You will love it too!

Giveaway: FIVE COPIES. Leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3PM PST on Monday, September 10th.

Fun fact: Allie's book is the first ever where the characters have been professionally styled.

Where you can read more about Allie: Twitter, Hello Giggles and Facebook.


1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"? I was days away from signing with the second agent that I queried not because I felt he was 'the one' but because he was very good on paper and well known in publishing. Then, I happened to have met my agent by chance through an acquaintance. She is also very good at what she does but furthermore, we had a connection and our faith in each other was instinctive and mutual from the start. Things got a little dramatic when I made the (right) choice to go with my (awesome) agent. It was very much like The Notebook. Except it was all done sans pin curls. And via e-mail.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter? I know that it's not the type of rejection letter that you're referring to, but my favorite line comes from my Mother. She begged of me last year, "Please don't count on this book-thing happening. Please get a real job..." When she said it, once the sting subsided, it was as if she threw a can of kerosene onto my little bonfire. It was the obvious choice to quote her on my dedication page.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel?  Being a starving artist at thirty is not a good look. In order to give the novel my full attention, I made it my full-time job which made me my own full-time unpaid intern. I made so many sacrifices to keep it moving, ie; sold my coveted black patent peep-toe Louboutins on ebay to cover bills (moment of silence), slept on my friends couches for weeks at a time - countless times - to sublet my apartment, at one point lived on a $5 a day budget in one of the most expensive cities in the world - all while watching my friends excel at their jobs and missing out while they got to do lavish, exciting things. The hardest part about it was not knowing for certain whether it would pay off in the end or not. Everyone in my life thought that I was insane taking the risk. And you know what? It was totally worth it.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz? The best advice came from my best friend. She said to me on a regular basis: "Keep your head down", meaning don't look behind you and don't look ten steps ahead either - focus on right where you are in that moment and address what needs to be done today to get you to tomorrow. To this day, I remind myself daily to 'keep my head down' because all of the excitement ahead can feel very overwhelming, daunting even and the best and only thing one can do is to remain present.

5. How did you celebrate your book deal? Lots of champagne. Jumped into a pool fully clothed. Got a Penguin tattoo on my forearm. In that order... I think.

6. Who is your writer crush? Hank Moody.

7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be? How to Build A Sailboat Out of Desert Island Material For Dummies

8. What's on your iPod right now? The Doors, Britney Spears, Rolling Stones, Fiona Apple, White Stripes, Jay-Z.  I'm a fan of the random shuffle.

9. What's your #1 stress reliever? The best way I know how to quiet my mind chatter is to plug into a loud playlist and walk around aimlessly, whether along the beach or about the streets of NYC. Well that and black tar heroin.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye? My book. And Jesus.

Thanks, Allie! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

Lit IT Girl: Debut Author Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Our latest Lit IT Girl: Kristyn Kusek-Lewis Why we love her: Her writing is heartfelt and real.

Her debut: How Lucky You Are (September 4th!)

The scoop on it: An engaging and moving novel about three women struggling to keep their longstanding friendship alive. Waverly, who's always been the group's anchor, runs a cozy bakery but worries each month about her mounting debt. Kate is married to a man who's on track to be the next governor of Virginia, but the larger questions brewing in their future are unsettling her. Stay-at-home mom Amy has a perfect life on paper, but as the horrific secret she's keeping from her friends threatens to reveal itself, she panics.

As life's pressures build all around them, Waverly knows she has some big decisions to make. In doing so, she will discover that the lines between loyalty and betrayal can become blurred, happy endings aren't always clear-cut, and sometimes you have to risk everything to gain the life you deserve.

Our thoughts: As lifelong friends, we loved and appreciated this heartwarming and authentic story about the complexities of female friendship.  (Side note: We also love the charming cover!)

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

Fun fact: Before writing her novel, Kristyn was a writer and editor for many major magazines including Glamour.

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


1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"? About 25. I made a massive list of agents by finding out who reps authors I love, surfing sites like AgentQuery, and, in a couple of cases, asking for referrals from author friends. The whole process took about six months. I’ll never forget getting the voicemail from my agent saying that she loved my book and would like to represent me. It was a moment that I’d dreamt about for years.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter? I wish that I had a good, juicy story but my rejections were actually pretty standard “thanks, but no thanks” letters, and in the cases where agents asked to read the manuscript and ultimately declined, they sent some surprisingly lovely letters. It’s of course a bummer to get a rejection but I just kept reminding myself of Stephen King’s famous story about how, when he was first starting out, he got so many rejections that he hung them on a wall with a metal stake.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel? Not knowing whether I’d eventually sell it. I took a break from magazine writing, the career I’ve had for the past fifteen years, to focus on the book and I definitely had days when I wondered if I was wasting my time. I’d already written another novel and scrapped it because I just wasn’t in love with it, and I really wanted this one to work. I was ready.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz? I didn’t get any horrible advice but the best that I got was to take the “long view.” In other words, don’t let the day-to-day stuff get in the way of what you ultimately want out of a writing career. This is a business that is completely subjective and constantly changing, and you can’t get yourself down if you have one bad day of writing or get a single rejection or bad review. There are always going to be highs and lows.

5. How did you celebrate your book deal? Champagne, of course! But I’d just had my second child three months earlier so I’m fairly certain that I had a glass and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Glamorous, I know.

6. Who is your writer crush?
 There are so many! Right now, I’d say Gillian Flynn. I’m reading Gone Girl and it is blowing my mind that she managed to write something that is simultaneously smart, funny, and terrifying. But my ultimate is Nora Ephron. In my twenties, I lived a few blocks from her building in New York and there were so many times when I wished I could just pop in and hang out with her. She managed to write about relationships in such a smart yet relatable way.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be? Only one?! Probably Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Unoriginal, yes, but there’s good reason why that book makes every “best books about writing” list, and her advice about life in general is just so terrifically down to earth.

8. What's on your iPod right now? A bizarre mix of music—Willie Nelson, Jay Z, Mary J. Blige, The Band, Beyonce, that Taio Cruz “Dynamite” song, Dolly Parton, Fugazi, Led Zeppelin. And “Dora the Explorer Party Favorites,” of course (my daughters are 4 and 2).

9. What's your #1 stress reliever? Running. My dad was a big runner and I spent a good part of my early childhood standing on the sidelines of various road races, passing out orange slices to the runners. It definitely rubbed off. That said, I’m a sucker for a spa treatment.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye? Can I say the entire Bravo network? My addiction to their lineup is embarrassing—I just can’t get enough of those damn “Housewives.”

Thanks, Kristyn!


Liz & Lisa


Lit IT Girl: Debut author Jennifer Gooch Hummer

Today's guest: Jennifer Gooch Hummer Why we love her: Her dazzling debut reminds us why we love to mix it up with a great YA novel.

Her debut: Girl Unmoored

The scoop:  Apron Bramhall has come unmoored. It’s 1985 and her mom has passed away, her evil stepmother is pregnant, and her best friend has traded her in for a newer model. Fortunately, she’s about to be saved by Jesus. Not that Jesus—the actor who plays him in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Apron is desperate to avoid the look-alike Mike (no one should look that much like Jesus unless they can perform a miracle or two), but suddenly he’s everywhere. Until one day, she’s stuck in church with him—of all places. And then something happens; Apron’s broken teenage heart blinks on for the first time since she’s been adrift.

Mike and his grumpy boyfriend, Chad, offer her a summer job in their flower store, Apron’s world seems to calm. But when she uncovers Chad’s secret, coming of age becomes almost too much bear. She’s forced to see things the adults around her fail to—like what love really means and who is paying too much for it.

Our thoughts: Loved. With a capital L-O-V-E-D.

Giveaway: 5 copies. Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm on Sunday, April 22.

CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...Lit IT Girl Debut author Jennifer Gooch Hummer

1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"? Oh boy. Agents. Well it took me about two years and fifty-ish rejections to get my first agent. This one was at a huge talent agency and I had first queried her “boss” whom I had a college connection with. My connection ended up passing my information onto the agent she was training, and this junior agent ended up representing me. When she couldn’t sell my first book (which is now Girl Unmoored) she told me to put it aside and write another book. I did. This second novel is a chick lit and just when she started pitching it, she left the agency. I went with her to her new agency, but felt like she had given up on me. So we parted ways. I then entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and ended up making it to the semi-final round. I thought this would help with the agent querying process. It didn’t. After another fifty rejections, I was finally picked out of a slush pile and offered representation. The weird thing is that I ended up getting my own book deal for Girl Unmoored after submitting it to the publisher myself.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter? “Dear ________,”

Sometimes they don’t even fill in your name!

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel? Not giving up. I wrote the novel in two years and spent the next eight trying to get it published. In that time, I was constantly rewriting, querying, submitting. A sane person would have quit, but writers aren’t really sane. I ended up framing a piece of paper with “I’m quitting…. tomorrow!” on it and keeping it on my desk. I meant it too, but then there was tomorrow… and tomorrow… and tomorrow… It’s a strange but effective strategy for me to keep writing.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz? Best: Anne Lamott’s advice to allow yourself to write the most horrible, pathetic, lame-o first draft possible. Because no one is ever going to see this draft, and inside all that awful-ness is the beautiful gem of your story that you’ll find in your second draft.

Worst: Quit, you’re never going to get published anyway. (But that was me saying that to myself. Luckily I didn’t listen.)

5. How did you celebrate your book deal? Quietly, because I’m really superstitious and generally suspecting. I got the email from my publisher while we were in Maine where we live in the summer. When my husband called from France (he’s a sport broadcaster and was covering the Tour de France) he was surrounded by his co-workers so I didn’t want to tell him. But my daughters, who I’d just read the email to, made me. Just like I thought, he had the whole crew congratulate me - exactly what I didn’t want him to do. I’d had so many close calls up to that point that I wasn’t a hundred percent sure this one was going to be it. I proved myself wrong though. And have since suffered through my family’s constant reminder of what a buzz-kill I am. But now every day that I wake up knowing my book is finally published is the real celebration.

6. Who is your writer crush? David Sedaris. I needed windshield wipers for my eyes while I was reading Me Talk Pretty One Day. That man is hi-larious. He has such a gifted way of describing the most mundane yet absolutely hysterical events of every day life. I wish he’d rewrite The Constitution. That would be the best!

7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be? Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.

8. What's on your iPod right now? I have no idea because we have a family iTunes account so whatever my daughters and husband have recently purchased just shows up on mine. For the past two weeks it’s been The Hunger Games album non-stop. But yesterday my nine year-old discovered Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” so I’m guessing I’ll be running to that pretty soon. It’s a good song actually.

9. What's your #1 stress reliever? Exercising. I swim on a master’s swim team every weekday morning at 5:30 so I’m ahead on the day. I also run or spin or go to a barre class. If I don’t work out, I’m really hard to live with.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye? AAPL   (Apple Stock)

Thanks, Jennifer!


Liz & Lisa

To find out more about Jennifer Gooch Hummer, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Lit IT girl: Debut Author Sarah Pinneo

Trying to feed our kids healthy food can be a full-time job in itself.  I don't know about you, but it's something we are constantly stressing about-all the organic, whole grain and fiber rich labels at the store make our heads spin! Which is why we really loved Julia's Child, Sarah Pinneo's fun fiction debut novel about Julia, a mom who is heading up a startup organic children's food brand.  It's a fast-paced read that's perfect for the beach(um, hello, it was 80 degrees in LA this past weekend!).  We're ecstatic that Sarah agreed to strike a pose and wear our Lit IT girl crown-we think you guys will love her!

Here's the 411 on Julia's child: Julia Bailey is a mompreneur with too many principles and too little time. Her fledgling company, Julia's Child, makes organic toddler meals like Gentle Lentil and Give Peas a Chance. But turning a profit while saving the world proves tricky as Julia must face a ninety-two-pound TV diva, an ill-timed protest rally, and a room full of one hundred lactating breasts. Will she get her big break before her family reaches the breaking point? In the end, it is a story about motherhood's choices: organic versus local, paper versus plastic, staying at home versus risking it all.

Sound good?  We have FIVE copies to give away!  Just leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Sunday, March 11th after 6pm PST. Good Luck!


1. How many agents did you query before you found "the one"?  For me, you have to ask that question this way: how many agents did you have before you found “the one.” And the answer is three! The first one handles only cookbooks. So we were great together, until the minute I finished my novel. But it wasn’t a bitter divorce. We keep in touch. My second agent couldn’t sell my first novel, and then he fired me—by email—immediately after reading the second.

But somehow I scraped myself up off the floor and queried widely for Julia’s Child. And in only 60 days I had three offers of representation. I learned something valuable from that experience—that it really isn’t personal.

My third agent, bless her, is amazing. I say a little prayer for her health on a daily basis.

2. What's a line from your "favorite" rejection letter?  Rejection letters are mostly alike: “not for me,” etc. So I tend to remember them more for their speed than their contents. There is a certain New York agent who always ranks among the “Top 10 Most Non-Responsive agents” list maintained over at—meaning that he can’t even be bothered to reject anyone.


I sent him a snail mail query, dropping it into an Upper East Side mailbox on a Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon my SASE had made it, complete with tiny 1/4 page pre-printed rejection, into my Upper West Side mailbox. I’m not quite sure how he pulled it off, unless he has a mole in the Post Office. He couldn’t wait to get my query off his desk.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your debut novel?  I had so many things I wanted to say—points I wanted to make. But that’s not what drives a good novel. So (with my editor’s help) I cut a lot of things that didn’t move the story forward. All my trade reviews have praised the book’s fast pace, which feels like a victory.

4. What is the best/worst advice you received while you were trying to break into the book biz? The best and worse advice is the same: to have a thick skin. I get it, I really do. You can’t feel too strongly about rejection and stay sane in this business. But nobody tells you where to get a thick skin. Amazon doesn’t even sell them. I’ve looked.

5. How did you celebrate your book deal?  The call came at about ten in the morning, and my husband popped open a bottle of champagne even before I hung up the phone. Isn’t he a great guy?

6. Who is your writer crush? Carl Hiaasen. Any man who can write really funny novels about South Florida while also writing terrific investigative journalism is a man after my own heart. I hope I get to meet him some day

7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could have only one book, what would it be? Well, if How to Survive a Desert Island weren’t available, I guess I’d opt for Pride and Prejudice. It’s my literary comfort food.

8. What's on your iPod right now? I’m listening to Girlyman’s Through to Sunrise. I love that song.

9. What's your #1 stress reliever? A cool flute of Prosecco. I could use one right about now.

10. Who/what would you place in the center of the Entertainment Weekly bullseye? The sisters of Downton Abbey. In a perfect world I would have Mary’s waist, Edith’s bust and Sybil’s smoky voice.

Thanks Sarah! xoxo, L&L

To read more about Sarah, head on over to her website or find her on Twitter.

Lit IT Girl: Debut Author Kaira Rouda

Happy Launch to the amazingly talented, Kaira Rouda! Her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope is a must-read for any woman who's ever thought about changing her life. Which, let's admit it, is pretty much all of us!  We'll admit that we've each had a "mid-life" crisis meltdown (or five!). So when we read, Here, Home, Hope, we were seriously LOL'ing  (and you know it takes a lot to get a real LOL out of us!) as we thought about our own lives.

So Liz was beyond honored to be asked by Kaira to blurb for her book.

And here it is... (so official!)

“A must read for anyone who's had their own mid-life crisis, Here, Home, Hope reminds us that it's never too late to reinvent ourselves.” – Liz Fenton, author of I'll Have Who She's Having, The D Word and creator of Chick Lit is not Dead

Synopsis of Here, Home, Hope: Kelly Mills Johnson is a 39-year-old mother and wife stuck in the rut of her middle-American suburban life.  A routine relationship with her lawyer husband, two uber-successful businesswomen for best friends to envy and an all-around predictable existence motivate Kelly to reinvent herself.

In an often-times humorous manner, Kelly begins diving into new projects (armed with Post-it notes and a Things to Change list), revisiting old memories and rediscovering passions.  Whether she is taking care of the anorexic teenager dumped on her doorstep, making up with an old high school friend or avoiding the boozy advances of her divorced neighbor, Kelly’s insistence on moving her life in a new direction and finding the perfect blend of home and career is inspiring and entertaining.

And if you leave a comment here, you could be one of the five lucky winners of a copy of Here Home Hope! We'll randomly select the winners after 6pm EST on Wednesday, May 4.


1.  How many agents did you query before you found "the one"?

Yes, well that is the question. I looked back at my files and I would guess, since 1997 – the year I first started querying literary agents – that I’ve approached/pitched about 300. That’s funny, actually. And sort of depressing if you let it be.

My first agent very much believed in my manuscript, WARNING. We met at the Antioch Writer’s Workshop and we had it sold, too, to a huge editor at a big house. The famous editor actually called me. I’ll never forget it. She loved the book. The next day, she died in a taxi in Manhattan. I didn’t have a contract.

My second agent was wonderful. I found her because she was in the same literary agency as my nonfiction agent who represented REAL YOU INCORPORATED. My second agent helped me understand what was selling, what the basic structure should be. She helped me draft the very first version of what is now HERE, HOME, HOPE. But she was, as all agents are, extremely busy. When we didn’t get a hit, she needed to move on.

So, the answer is, I haven’t found the one. Would I love to have a partner to guide my career and to help me through the next book, to help place it and make it better? Absolutely. Will that person come along? I don’t know. I guess it all depends on whether HERE, HOME, HOPE resonates with people – whether readers like it and want to read more. I hope that happens. I hope an agent comes into my life. It’s tough going it alone, it really is. But, given the choice of going it alone, or never going for it – I decided to go for it.

I’d love “the one” beside me.

2.  What was your rock bottom moment during the process?

December 13, 2010. I’m not kidding. I realized it is all up to me. I’m publishing my first novel with a small press and I don’t have an agent. I don’t have a big six publisher. For the first time in my life I don’t have a full time job. I have four kids – one in college and one about to go. I had that ….oh my goodness what are you thinking moment. It comes back, quite often. But I’m trying to climb out of the bottom.

I know I’ve written the best novel I can. I’ve done the best I can. I’ve partnered with the best publisher, publicist, event planner and support folks I can. My family is behind me. I have hope.

3.  How long did it take to write your book?

About 2 ½ years.

4.  What did you do to celebrate your book deal?

With a bottle of champagne and a walk on the beach with my husband, my biggest fan.

5.  Knowing what you know now about publishing your first novel, what would you have done differently?

I truly believe things happen when you’re ready; if I had been ready sooner, I would have published the novel sooner. That said, I wish I would have had the confidence to publish the novel sooner.

6.  Who is your writer crush?

Jenna Blum. She’s an adventurer, an author of amazing range and a great supporter of other authors. That said, I’m also enamored with Eleanor Brown, Beth Hoffman and, from a very far distance, Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult who stick up for women writers whenever they can. Love that!

7.  What's your biggest distraction or vice while writing?

My new puppy, Tucker. I cannot stop smiling at him. He is a living, walking Teddy Bear.

8.  GNO drink of choice?

Dirty martini. Stuffed olives. But most of the time, it’s Chardonnay. California, preferably.

9.  Favorite trashy TV show?

Housewives of ______ fill in the blank. I am fascinated, but not usually remembering to tune in. When I do, love it. I do have Bachelor/Bachelorette moments, too.

10.  What celeb would you love to have a Twitter war with?

Whichever celeb happens to be denigrating women at the moment…pick one. There are many. That sounds snarky, but it drives me crazy. We need to stand up for ourselves, for other women. Stick together.

Thanks so much for having me here!

You're welcome, Kaira! xoxo, L&L

For more information about the incredibly talented Kaira Rouda, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!