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

Today's guest: Sarah Pekkanen Why we love her: Her books fit women like the perfect little black dress.

Her latest book: These Girls (Out tomorrow: April 10th!)

The scoop: Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.

Cate’s roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

Our thoughts: As BFF's for 25 years, to say we relate to the novel's central theme of friendship is an understatement. Hands down, this is Sarah's best book yet. Our question: How does she keep topping herself?

Fun fact: She was the first author we hosted on Chick Lit is Not Dead over three years ago.

Giveaway: 5 copies! Just leave a comment to be entered to win. We'll randomly select the winners on Sunday, April 15 after 6pm PST.


1. You're not as dorky as you suspect you are.  Stand up straighter and smile and talk to some of the people milling past you in the hallway. I promise they're not all laughing at you behind your back. In fact, many of them are every bit as insecure as you. Even the mean girls. Especially the mean girls! Okay, so don't talk to them, but your high school is bursting with interesting, smart, funny, quirky people. One of them, a blonde girl who also loves to write, will become your best friend two decades after you graduate. Go over and say hi to her - you can do it! (I'm nudging my teen self  in the shoulder now).

2. That spiral perm you're saving up for? Oh, dear God, no - back away from the hair salon, slowly, and your 9th grade pictures won't make you cringe forever. I know you think fun, bouncy curls will make a zippy change from your stick-staright hair. But you're going to end up with a head full of frizz, a look that will not be improved upon when your hair begins to grow out and the top half is stick-straight and the bottom half is a mass of frizz. For the next few months, people will come up to you and say, "Oh... you got a perm." And then there will be a long, painful silence as they desperately try to come up with something positive to say about your new 'do. They will be unsuccessful in their attempts. If you really want a change, put more lemon juice in your hair and sit out by the pool. Yes, I realize that doesn't work, but I'm trying to distract you from the perm horror that awaits you.

3. Keep doing sports. You're on the track team and the field hockey team, and there's no better way for a teenage girl to spend her time. You're checking out the bruises on your shins (admit it, you're proud of them) instead of the size of your ass in the mirror, and that's pretty wonderful. You're learning about teamwork, and commitments, and losing when you want to win more than anything in the world, and giving it your all until you're about to collapse. Those lessons that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life.

4. The local Saks Fifth Avenue that hired you as a teen model? Um, one of the first jobs they're going to call you for will involved you putting on a giant, fuzzy, Winnie-the-Pooh costume. You're not really going to understand why, but they're paying you, so it's all good. Except for the fact that you invited a guy to come see you model, and he will instead witness you lurching around Saks dressed as a bear named Pooh. This may not help your reputation.

5. Stay open, stay hopeful, stay positive. And always follow your heart, kiddo. Like everyone else, you're going to have your share of heartache and sadness. But your'e also going to have a really good life.

Thanks, Sarah! xoxo,

Liz & Lisa

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


Sarah Pekkanen's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

We. Love. Sarah. Pekkanen. There-it's out in the open now.  We've been huge fans since her off-the-charts debut, The Opposite of Me. (Fun fact: she was our first author interview EVEH on CLIND!) Since then, we've been eagerly anticipating her follow-up, Skipping a Beat. And it did not disappoint!  We couldn't put it down and someone (Liz!) may have even bawled her eyes out for the last three chapters.  But even though Skipping a Beat can reach even the most emotionally unavailable robot with it's pitch-perfect insights on love and marriage, it's also a funny and heartwarming story that will have you thinking about it long after you finish.  Check out the book trailer for it here!

What would you do if your husband wanted to rewrite the rules of your relationship?

Julia Dunhill, a thirty-something party planner, seems to have it all: Married to her high school sweetheart and living in a gorgeous home in Washington D.C., she imagines her future unfolding very much as it has for the past few years, since she and her husband Michael successfully launched their companies.  But in her darker moments, she worries that her marriage has dissolved from a true partnership into a façade, but she convinces herself it’s due to the intensity of their careers and fast-paced lifestyle.

So as she arranges the molten chocolate cupcakes for the annual Opera benefit, how can she know that her carefully-constructed world is about to fall apart? That her husband will stand up from the head of the table in his company’s boardroom, open his mouth to speak, and crash to the carpeted floor… all in the amount of time it will take her to walk across a ballroom floor just a few miles away. Four minutes and eight seconds after his cardiac arrest, a portable defibrillator jump-starts Michael’s heart. But in those lost minutes he becomes a different man, with an altered perspective on the rarified life they’ve been living and a determination to regain the true intimacy they once shared.  Now it is up to Julia to decide — is it worth upending her comfortable world to try to find her way back to the husband she once adored, or should she walk away from this new Michael, who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his change of heart?

We LOVED Skipping a Beat-do yourself a favor and pre-order it RIGHT NOW (or pick it up at your favorite bookstore tomorrow, Tuesday February 22nd).  And check out her Do's and a Do-Over and you'll understand why Sarah had us at hello.

We also have FIVE copies to give away to lucky readers!  Just leave a comment and you'll be entered to win-how damn easy is that? We'll pick the winners on Thursday night after 6pm PST.


5 Do's

1. Backpack through Europe After college, I threw some clothes and a Eurorail pass into a backpack and set off alone for three months. I was too young to be nervous; I was certain I'd have an amazing adventure, and I did! I slept on a sidewalk in Portugal with a group of Canadian travelers (we woke up to find stray dogs nuzzling up with us); arrived in Switzerland at a deserted train station late at night only to realize I had no money, had taken in the last train, and had no idea how to get to the hostel; and watched sunsets in Greece with a handsome rugby player from New Zealand. Sigh.

2.  Ask a girl out I'm not getting all Katy Perry on you - I mean it in a platonic way. There was a Mom at my kids' preschool who seemed like so much fun. She was always smiling and I loved chatting with her in the hallways, but I never took it to the next level. One day my husband said, "I think Rachel likes you. You guys should go out!" So I invited her out for drinks, and we spent the whole night laughing. Now she's one of the closest friends I've ever had.

3. Get a two-hour massage Pure decadence. It seems counter-intuitive, but there's nothing quite as relaxing as having a complete stranger rub your naked body with hot oil. After I sold my first book, I lay down on a table and experienced a hundred and twenty minutes of bliss. I felt like I was floating for days afterwards!

4.  Rescue a dog Stop counting calories - adopt a dog instead and keep eating cupcakes! You'll get an hour or more a day of brisk walking and you'll love doing it. My lab Bella is the sweetest creature alive, and even on cold winter mornings, I look forward to taking her out. I've gotten to know my neighbors and I notice little things in nature that I'd otherwise never see.

5.  Sing with a rock band I went to see the Rock Bottom Remainders - a surprisingly good band made up of authors Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, and guest singer Jennifer Weiner - in Philadelphia last year. It was a charity concert, and one of the auction items was a chance to sing back up on "Wild Thing." I won it and even though I can't carry a tune, I got up there and sang my heart out, then threw my kazoo into the crowd. (Surprising trivia: Amy Tan wore a Lady Gaga-style wig and at one point, began spanking the male members of the band. Had not expected to see that side of her!) One of the best nights of my life!

1 Do-over

I'd appreciate college so much more if I could do it again! I'd pay attention in classes instead of staring at cute boys, get to know more people, and learn more about myself. I went to college at 17 and was pretty young emotionally, and only now do I realize how much more I could have gotten out of the experience.

Thanks Sarah!  xo, L&L

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

Writing Wednesday- Query Quandary

Some might say climbing Mt. Everest is an accomplishment. Others might argue that a true victory is winning a gold medal or being awarded an Oscar.

And although we salute all the incredible people who fall into those categories and agree that those would be amazing achievements, we're not athletic or skilled enough to join them in those ranks so we'll settle for believing that writing a query for our manuscript The D Word is one of the toughest challenges we've ever faced. (Liz would like it duly noted that she deserves a close second for giving birth- twice!)

And to celebrate not only finishing our query, but making it through the process alive (more on that below), we're giving away two $20 itunes gift cards (because music helps us write) and six autographed books by authors who've inspired us-Sarah Pekkanen (THE OPPOSITE OF ME) and Kristin Hannah (WINTER GARDEN). Just leave a comment (you know the drill--we're fabulous, you love us, love the blog, blah, blah...) and you'll  be entered to win.

So back to the query quandary...Condensing the plot of our novel into two paragraphs was only half the battle. Agreeing on what the content of those two sections should be was the other. And although we feel we have an incredibly successful writing partnership, that doesn't discount the cold hard fact that we're both Type-A control freaks who always want to be right.

Let us take you back to the day we decided that we'd each independently take a stab at the query and then reveal our work to the other. In Southern California, it was an El-Nino-esque rainstorm that included a hurricane. In the Chicago 'burbs, it was eighteen degrees, gloomy and included a "delightful" present from Mother Nature- Eight. Inches. Of. Snow.

Cut to Lisa holed up in her house, wrapped in an afghan blanket, tears of sadness spilling down her cheeks as she cried for the sun (okay, so maybe that's a wee bit of an embellishment- there was no afghan). She put in her ipod headphones and typed away as she imagined she was in Maui as she listened to Bob Marley belt out Don't Worry, Be Happy (alright, so maybe she was actually listening to Party in the U.S.A.- don't judge!). When she finished, she smiled broadly. "This is damn good," she said to her fountain of prosperity in the corner. It was time to send it to Liz who was going to be so pleased!

Open email form, attach query, add self-congratulatory quip to Liz, send. Wait....

Two thousand miles away, Liz stared out at the pouring rain, part of her ecstatic that she finally had an excuse to wear her new Burberry wellies, the other half of her semi-panicked that, as a result of the hurricane in SEAL BEACH, her daughter's school was on lockdown. As Jordan Sparks sang in her ears, she wrote fast and furiously, taking the time to pat herself on the back along the way because she was still able to crank out such great content on such a miserable day. It was time to send it to Lisa who was going to be so pleased!

Open email form, attach query, add self-congratulatory quip to Lisa, send. Wait...

I'm sure you see where this story is going. Well, it's safe to say that neither of us were as in love with our partner's work as we were with our own! Lisa got up on her soapbox and actually said the words, "How do you not LOVE this?" and Liz retaliated with, "Um, because mine is So. Much. Better!" For an hour we debated everything- including the true definition of divorce. There was even a particularly ugly moment when someone threatened that both queries should be sent to an "unbiased" party who would decide which one should "win". Finally, exhaustion took hold and the right-fighters agreed to sleep on it.

The next day, with much-needed perspective, fresh attitudes and plenty of caffeine all around, we decided to merge our work.  Over the next week, we methodically deleted, rearranged and reworked until we were as close to satisfied as we were ever going to get. Then, we were lucky enough to have brilliant authors including Allison Winn Scotch, Laura Dave and Sarah Pekkanen agree to review our query and give us invaluable feedback. Thank you, ladies! We are forever indebted to you!

And now as we write this blog post, our query for The D Word is complete and sitting in the inbox of our dream agent.  And now we wait. And wait. And wait some more. And it will probably be harder than when Lisa waited by the home phone (literally) to find out if she'd made the junior varsity cheerleading squad (she didn't-and they FORGOT to call-long story!) or when Liz waited at her graduation lunch for her date  to show up (he never did- even longer story!). But many moons and hopefully more maturity later, we're all about positive thinking- affirmations, fountains and the whole nine yards. And because of that, we know find the right agent to rep us. (That is, if we don't kill each other trying to perfect our synopsis-but that's a whole other blog!)

xoxo, Liz & Lisa

Five Things Liz & Lisa didn't know about...Sarah Pekkanen

We've made no secret about the fact that we LOVE Sarah Pekkanen. Her debut novel, The Opposite of Me, will be published by Washington Square Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, next week.  But before it hits bookstores, she's holding a Sarah Spike Day with a big raffle for everyone who pre-orders her book this Wednesday, March 3. So, what's in it for you if you pre-order The Opposite of Me on 3/3?  Here are the raffle prizes:

  • A gift bag containing five hot new Simon & Schuster releases
  • Five high-end, cotton t-shirts from Heart Threads Clothing ( You pick the size, color and secret message printed on the inside of your shirt and worn close to your heart. Five winners!
  • A 30-minute phone consultation with Sarah, in which she'll explain, step-by-step, how she got signed by a literary agent and publisher. This will include an editorial critique of your manuscript of up to 40 pages. If you're not interested in writing a novel, you can gift this prize to anyone you choose.
  • This last prize is one a character in her book, Lindsey, would especially like:  A $35 gift certificate to MAC cosmetics (Lindsey is a fan of their eyeshadow) and a gorgeous red bustier from Affinitas Intimates. It would probably look best on a woman, but we won't pass judgment if the guys want to win it!

If you want to be entered in Sarah's raffle, here’s what to do:

1) On Wednesday, March 3, order The Opposite of Me online from places including, or If you buy more than one book, you’ll get more than one chance to win.

2) Email your receipt within 24 hours to this address: and make sure to put CONTEST as the subject line.

3) Wait to hear if you are one of the winners!

Now for the even bigger news…#1 New York Times bestseller Jennifer Weiner, author of seven blockbusters including Best Friends Forever and In Her Shoes, which was made into a major motion picture staring Cameron Diaz, is supporting The Opposite of Me by holding an extraordinary giveaway of her own! Please visit Jen’s website for the details of how she is giving a free, autographed copy of one of her books to everyone who orders The Opposite of Me!

Remember, these are separate giveaways. So you can enter Sarah's raffle, or Jen’s giveaway, or both! The possibilities are endless!

If you’d like to read the first chapter of The Opposite of Me, a Redbook magazine book club pick, it’s on Sarah's website, And trust us, it's as good as everyone is saying it is!

And just when you thought things couldn't get ANY better, we also asked Sarah to share five things we didn't know about her.  And, if it's even possible, we think we love her even more after reading them!  We think you will too.

Five Things Liz and Lisa didn't know about...Sarah Pekkanen!

1. I was rejected as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, despite the fact that I have a Rain Man-like ability to solve puzzles with no letters showing. I’m still bitter; I really wanted to spin that wheel!

2. I wrote part of The Opposite of Me at Chuck E. Cheese. I’ve got three young boys, so I bring my laptop with me wherever I go and squeeze in snatches of writing time. I’ve got this system down at Chuck E.’s: I keep all the tokens on my table and my kids have to come to me every time they need one. So they’re checking in every couple of minutes, and in the meantime, I’m pecking away on my laptop.

3. The Opposite of Me isn’t even the slightest bit autobiographical. The first thing people ask me when they hear the premise of my book – it’s the story of twin sisters who are complete opposites – is whether I’m a twin. Nope; I don’t even have a sister. But I've always been intrigued by the complex relationships my friends have with their sisters, so I tried to make the relationship of my main characters, Lindsey and Alex, as juicy and competitive and loving and tangled as possible. I've heard about twins who are so close that they create their own language, and can feel each other's pain from miles away - but I wondered what would happen to twins who were completely different. What if two sisters had nothing in common, but were constantly being compared? How would that shape their relationship?

4. I started writing books when I was a kid. A few years ago, my niece discovered an old letter I’d written on Raggedy Ann stationery asking a publisher when my book, titled, “Miscellaneous Tales and Poems” would be published. I carry that letter with me every time I go to New York to meet with my publisher, as a reminder that dreams really do come true. Well, at least some dreams. Brad Pitt has yet to show up on my doorstep wearing nothing but a toolbelt and a knowing smile and asking me if I need anything fixed. So maybe it’s only G-rated dreams that come true.

5. When I'm not writing, I love to run marathons and study Latin and organize the clothes in my closet by color and season. Naw, not really. I watch reality TV and eat too much chocolate and worry if my butt looks fat in my favorite jeans.

To read more about Sarah, head on over to or become a fan on Facebook.

xoxo, Liz & Lisa