Monday, May 5, 2014

Grief and hope and the little book in-between

THE CHAPEL WARS releases tomorrow.
Here's what some reviewers have said about it:

“Leavitt creates some hilarious scenes that could only be set in Las Vegas (kissing Elvises, anyone?) while maintaining a serious emotional tone. Like a Sarah Dessen heroine, Holly discovers that her heart has answers that are neither easy nor perfect. Recommend to readers who enjoy novels that blend light-hearted moments and gravitas.” ~Booklist

“Holly’s story could almost be a sitcom. But the hilarity is tempered by moments of genuine feeling, whether it’s grief… or romance.” ~Horn Book

And this is the one I really want to talk about

“Leavitt’s sense of place and ability to balance grief with hope make for an entertaining read.” ~Publisher's Weekly

This was a difficult book for me to write. Nearly an impossible book for me to write. Like, I can’t believe I wrote this book and tomorrow you can buy it (or preorder it today. Before you forget.)

Impossible? Why so glum? Lindsey Leavitt writes breezy! Fun! Fluff! What’s so hard about that? What challenges could you possibly know? Surely you take a few hours away from your charmed life to jot down some fun ideas that magically swirl into something resembling a novel. 

My friends. No.
Let’s shoot for full disclosure. My personal life has been NF (Not Fun) for the past year or so. Please don’t ask why—that’s why I used the word personal. It’s enough to say that I’ve battled crippling depression, grief, and anxiety. I’ve had physical issues and mental issues and family issues and faith issues and professional issues and can’t-get-out-of-bed issues and *insert any other issue*. They’re lonely emotions, emotions not expected from an author who formerly complained about too-small tiaras at book signings. Writing light and funny romance when it feels like your world is falling a part is difficult on the best of days, paralyzing on the worst. It’s why THE CHAPEL WARS has a bittersweet edge. I didn’t mean to add it. Just art imitating life.

As a result, I spent a lot of time hating this book. I hated the (missed) deadlines attached to this book. Hated talking about writing with authors who had brushed their teeth that morning and had Big Plans! for their thriving careers. Hated driving to wedding chapels and bridal expos and seeing all these giddy brides and thinking, “LIFE ISN’T ALL ROSES, LADIES!” Hated myself—honestly, there were times I really hated myself.

I would sit down in my cheetah-print recliner and stare at my cracked laptop screen and think, “This will never be a book. I am ruined. I will never publish again, never write again, and then I will have no excuse for all this not-showering business.” My amazing editor, Caroline Abbey, pulled me through the half-finished drafts and flimsy plot lines with positivity and grace. She believed in me and this story when I didn’t, and for that I dedicated this book to her. The original title for this novel, btw, was ARE YOU THERE, CAROLINE? IT’S ME, YOUR (LATE) AUTHOR.

You’re probably thinking, Why should I read this book? It sounds depressing and the author is a hot mess and that doesn’t really match a book with a heart on the cover. I just want a cute boy and a quick read, okay?

Because what I discovered writing this book is even on the darkest days, there is always light. That people still laugh (and even fall in love) at funerals. Babies are born and books are published and morning follows the night. Charles Dickens knew what he was talking about with all that best of times, worst of times crap.

Mostly, especially, there is always hope. 

And that’s what I conjured up when I came to the blank page. It took coaching and lots of bribery, but I found humor and perspective and even joy as I filled the pages. I’m more proud of this book than any other book I’ve written. I’m proud because I learned so much about myself, so much about life, just from writing some witty dialogue and a super fun kissing scene. This isn’t The Next Great American novel, but it’s a fun story about my hometown and childhood and personal struggles and, yes, a cute southern boy who dresses up like cupid. 

Thomas Paine once said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” It’s going to be triumphant for me to walk into Barnes and Noble and buy my own book tomorrow. It was triumphant to co-write a book with my sweet friend, Robin Mellom, this year and sell it at auction last week. Writing has literally saved my life during all of this, and I am grateful that I get to share this... share my stories with you. 

Friday, May 2, 2014


The Chapel Wars is out May 6. And it's May NOW. And it will be MAY when I go on tour with many other Bloomsbury authors. Where? Glad you asked.

May 13: Barnes and Noble, The Woodlands, TX, 6 pm with Emery Lord and Kristin Rae
May 14: Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ, 7 pm with Emery Lord and Jillian Cantor
May 15: Third Place Books, Lake Forest, WA, 7 pm with Emery Lord and Mandy Hubbard
May 31: Rainbow Barnes and Noble, Las Vegas, NV Just little old me and maybe wedding cake :)
TBD: The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

And you must check out the adorable tumblr Bloomsbury set up to celebrate The First Loves tour.

Only 4 more days until release! Please help spread the word about my quirky little Vegas book--send email, post on social networks, buy, sit by the bookshelf at your local bookstore and yell into a megaphone, "Ra ra CHAPEL WARS!!!"
I'm sure you can be creative. Thanks, I like you a lot!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

THE CHAPEL WARS. The cover. The creation. The everything

*blows dust off of ye ol' blog*

This last weekend at the Vegas Valley Book Festival, I had a conversation with some authors about blogs as a platform, on their relevancy, on how often we blog (cough, cough), etc. etc. And valid points were made all around, but I still like having my blog HERE, even if I only post a couple times a year, even if google reader no longer exists and I know this isn't read very often. As a writer, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name... CUE THEME SONG FROM CHEERS

and they're always glad you came. 

You wanna be where you can see, 
our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows 
Your name.

Yes, I know that has no relevancy to my topic, but that song's been stuck in my head and I wanted to share. You're welcome, those alive in the eighties.
Anyway, quick catch up... 
Vegas Valley book festival was awesome! We had 60+ YA authors, dozens of panels, and an adorably awkward YA Prom through the ages. Here are a couple of pics...

PROM THROUGH THE AGES!!!! Yes. It was as amazing as it looks. No, I can't name everyone. Well, I can, but it takes SOO long to type.

I'm in there somewhere. Doing something.

And I've done other things lately, like began writing a book for National Novel Writing Month, which might be the worse thing I've ever done. Or the best. We'll see.
But that's not why you're here, right? You're really here because you want to see my new book cover. Maybe even hear about this mysterious book. Chapel? Is this book religious? Wars? Is it violent?
No and no. You're getting another Lindsey Leavitt book with my trademark Lindsey Leavittness-which according to my publisher is humor and heart. Although I must say, this one starts with someone dead, so The Funny is a little more respectful of such circumstances. And The Angst is perhaps more amped up. But The Awesome? It's all in there. Or as in there as I am able. 
This was a brutal writing and personal year for me, which is why I haven't been online as much as usual. I'm glad to come out of it with a book of which I am very proud. I imagine this book is the closest I will ever come to understanding natural childbirth. But, you know, in a good way.

This is what the book is about....
Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?  
And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.  
Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

And this is one of my favorite publishing peeps said about it....
"You'll want to place your bets on Lindsey Leavitt's hilarious and heartfelt novel filled with family rivalry, forbidden love, life-changing secrets, and a hot boy dressed up like Cupid. Just like Vegas, The Chapel Wars kept me up all night." —Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality
(isn't she the very best? Thank you Elizabeth Eulberg! *throws confetti*)

*unless they change the cover. This is the cover for the ARC. Things could change. Things always change. But I hope not because OHMIGOSH I am hearting this cover so hard. Get it? HEART 

Monday, June 24, 2013

From the writing cave. Summer edition

Summer! Summer! Summer! How I adore you in all your 111 degree Vegas glory. Here's a little update on what I've been up to...
1. I'm coming at you from my new office, which is 78% done. I will post pictures as soon as I'm 100% and ready to show off all the loveliness (also, once my office is, erm, clean. So it might be awhile). But in the meantime, here is a messy sneak peak, taken from my comfy leopard-print writing recliner. You read all those words right.

That white board is my next novel, which I'm hard at work on right now. It's also my 9-year-olds favorite place to leave me notes, which is cute until she erases a major plot point. I'm living off a diet of pepsi and granola bars, which is far healthier than my diet for my last book--cheetos and, well, pepsi.
Yes, my keyboard still has orange stains from those days.
And those bookcases. I can't wait to show you the full glory of those bookcases.
2. Speaking of glory, I went to Hawaii last week to relax with the hubsters and do a little research for a possible book idea. I wanted to get the full view of the island Kauai, which to me means driving around, maybe with the windows down. But to my darling husband, "view" meant a helicopter ride with no doors and only a flimsy seatbelt saving me from certain death. I almost have to write a book about it now, just so that experience wasn't for naught
(it really wasn't for naught. Despite my feelings on heights, it was serene and beautiful and I'm (usually) grateful my husband pushes me in directions I wouldn't usually go. Like: UP)

3. GOING VINTAGE ebook is on sale for $2.99. Barrrrrrgain, yo. It's been up a few days, so not sure how long the sale runs. I love summer ebook sales!

4. Oh, and speaking of helicopters, I am woefully behind on my reading, but Hawaii did give me time to catch up, and I'm so glad I finally got to devour (literally, in 2 1/2 hours), Blythe Woolston's gripping BLACK HELICOPTERS. (I read it after the helicopter ride. Inspired, I guess). It's one of the books I don't want to summarize, just.. read it. At only 100 something pages, it's good at showing a lot without having too say much, and the suspense was something else.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Blog Post I Wrote On the Morning My Book Officially Released

So today my book, GOING VINTAGE, releases. RELEASES is a glamorous word for Books Get Stocked On Shelves, which for booksellers is often called TUESDAY, but for the author, it's kinda a big deal. Writing a book takes roughly as long as a pregnancy, an elephant pregnancy, so kissing our babies on the top of the head and nudging them out into the world is always a little scary and sweet.
Mommy loves you GOING VINTAGE! Now go make me some money proud.
 And maybe you want to buy my book, maybe you want to check it out from your library (after making sure your library orders it), maybe it's not your thing but you want to do something just for support. Maybe you are sick of hearing about it, in which case, last post, promise! (Note: I break a lot of promises).
Anyway, my friend Lisa Schroeder wrote a post a few years ago explaining how best to support an author, and I hope you will check it out. 
Whether it's a shout out on facebook, a review, or just a good word, it all adds up. 
Also, if you are reading this, you know likely are aware I/my books exist, and for that I am grateful, more the book than me, because I don't need to get existential about my existence too often. Anyway, thank you for reading. Always always. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

8 things I love about the internet

I've started in on my interviews for the Going Vintage release (2 weeks!), and I'm finding a common question is: What piece of technology can you not give up? And every time I answer something new, because it's what is on the top of my head right then. There are just so many things at the top of my head (the bottom, woefully, is empty).
I mean, the other day I got lost, and my phone was dead, and my kids were like, mom, how do people know where they are going without phones? And I explained maps, which they'd learned about, of course, but they didn't know people USED them to get places driving. Like, 5 years ago. 
So what I love about technology changes based on what technology I am using. Right now, I'm pretty stoked on this laptop, because I am lying down and typing. And of course, the internet is on said laptop, so I thought today I would like to share a list. I had to write something like 25 lists for Going Vintage, since my main character is a lister, so fun getting back in the spirit.
8 things (today) that I love about the internet

1. Youtube 
According to my children, the thing that makes me "famous" is not being an author. No, my fame comes from my YouTube exposure. I have like 4 videos on there and they watch them again and again. I have not told them that anyone can be on youtube, because, well, the reasons for that would be another list.
Last week was the world premiere (see, if you use words like WORLD, sounds famousy) of GOING VINTAGE trailer. Here it is:

2. Blogs
A few years ago, I read blogs daily, but got overwhelmed while drafting a book and sort of unplugged, the exception being when someone linked on twitter (I realize the irony of saying this AS I BLOG). But At NCTE, I met with some teachers and librarians at NerdyBookClub, and just love the community they've created. I started linking around and reading again. I'll probably stop here soon since my book is coming out and I would just go crazy reading everything, but my favorite posts are more what is happening in the classroom or a bloggers top five characters, etc. Two that I particularly like (besides nerdy, read it!) are Teen Librarian Toolbox and Stacked. 
TLT: Karen and I got into a discussion on siblings and families in YA books on Twitter. This is one of my favorite themes to explore in writing, as I sometimes find families are pushed to the side, or entirely dysfunctional. And these are certainly true to life for some teens, but different than my own experince, coming from a home with 5 kids. After our dicussion, Karen wrote this amazing post that really gave me perspective as I worked on my WIP. The whole blog is packed with insight.
Also, librarians, if you want to use GOING VINTAGE in your programming (or, of course, teachers in classroom), TLT has some fabulous ideas 
Stacked Books: I've never met librarian Kelly Jensen. I have no idea if she's ever read or liked my books. But I am a fangirl of her blog. It's crammed with thoughtful reviews, explores literary trends and genres and gives an honest and intriguing peek into librarianship as a whole. And her recent posts on sexism are so spot on, it's made me examine how best to raise my 3 girls.

3. Tabeso 
Some friends of ours recently launched their app on the I-phone, and it's just the greatest idea since bacon on donuts. It's still growing, but basically you can look up events in your area and see what events your friends are attending. Sadly, my girls learned through this app that One Direction is coming here. I need to stop letting them use my phone.
Here's another fun video for Tabeso. Click around, they have a bunch.

4. Kiva
Oh John Green. Your last name says it all. Who wouldn't envy this man's energy, kindness, talent, and ingenuity? He finds ways to do good, and teens listen. Kiva is a classic example. In very short, Kiva lends money to fight poverty. You pick your borrower, they share how they will use the money, and the world sucks less. Powerful stuff. I'm a lender, you should be too. Sign up!

5. Tumblr
I'm late to the party for tumblr, but the more I'm on, the more I like. It has a much more positive atmosphere than other social networks. 
Some of my favorites:
Librarian Hey Girl (haven't posted forever, but still lots of love)
Also, the going vintage tumblr will go live on Wednesday. Authors and publishing folks have been sending me pictures for weeks, and I can't wait to share their vintage pictures and stories. (or yours! Scroll down blog for info on how to submit)
This is a bit of an experiment for me, we'll see how it works!

6. Boden

I'm 5'10", and I always wear dresses with sleeves that cover my butt. It can be a tricky game, finding the right length, and thus I am so in love with Boden--cute and classic clothing from UK. Without the glory of the interwebz, I would never have clicked on a dress on pinterest and found this site. Their spring season is probably the most adorable I've seen yet. 

7. Society 6
Capillya at That Cover Girl (another fabulous blog) turned me onto this site. I could lose hours looking at the art. We're moving to a new house in less than 2 weeks, and I'm trying to find that perfect print for my new office. (yeah, MY NEW OFFICE). 

8. Facebook 
I'm not on here that much anymore, but I still appreciate the connectivity thereof. My fifth grade teacher, Miss Dean, sent met his beaut yesterday, composed by my little brother who was also a student. I think we'll end with this...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bookmarks! Get yer bookmarks here!

Howdy! Only 1 month until Going Vintage releases, which means it's time for my favorite pre-release game ever. This party involves me paying way too much on postage and zipping through sparkly pens at a delirious pace. Yep, I'm sending out signed bookmarks for GOING VINTAGE. 

It's bookmark bonanza again, folks!

But what do I have to do to get said bookmark? you might ask.

Expose a vulnerable piece of myself? (no. Keep those over-shares to yourself and your status updates)
Write an amazon or goodreads review for your book (no, but please, please do this anyway)
Splash the news on twitter/blogs/facebook/instagram/tumblr/every corner of the world wide web? (no, but any way you can spread the word about my books is always greatly appreciated. You're so awesome like that. I <3 i="" u="">
Jumping jacks? Do you want me to do jumping jacks, Lindsey Leavitt? (Well, yes I do, but that is only because jumping jacks are excellent cardiovascular activity)

As far as bookmarks go, you need only do TWO THINGS.

1. Email me your shipping address at contact @ lindsey leavitt dot com.
2. I will then send you 5 signed bookmarks. Mention that you are a teacher or librarian and I will up that number to 10. You may keep one or two of these bookmarks to use in your own copy of Going Vintage. But the other ones I humbly ask you spread around. Give to another reader. Donate to your library. Visit the White House and slyly deposit in the Obama girls' bedrooms. Help me make the world a more vintage place.

3. (bet you didn't see that coming!!) If you pre-order Going Vintage, I will also include a signed bookplate. Just comment below, letting me know the retailer, and I will take your word, because I am a big time word taker. And thank you for planning ahead. Pre-orders make a huge difference for authors. 

This offer goes until release day, or while supplies last, or until I get sick of the post office, so tell your friends. Let's get the word out while preserving our reading spot in countless works of literature.