Friday, December 21, 2007

GCC Tour - The

Yay! I'm touring the paperback edition of one of my favorite writer's books: Melissa Senate's Theodora Twist.

Order the book!

“Senate sets up a tantalizing premise and the plot is equally entertaining.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“Theodora Twist has sugar and spice and everything nice. I loved it!”
–Sarah Mlynowski, bestselling author of Spells and Sleeping Bags

“A fun read!”
–Teen People magazine

You’re sixteen. A high school junior. A major teen celebrity like Blake Lively or Amanda Duff or Vanessa Hudgens moves into your house for a month and shares your bedroom, your friends, your clothes, your school. Your entire life. And it’s all caught on camera, for all of America to see. This is what happens to Emily Fine in Melissa Senate’s debut young adult novel, THEODORA TWIST (Delacorte Press). One day she’s ordinary nobody Emily Fine, practically invisible to everyone (including her own mother) and the next, she’s roommates with teen idol Theodora Twist and co-star of a TV reality show.

Theodora Twist is Hollywood’s hottest young actress—the girl everyone wants to be. Producers court her, tabloids love her, fans mob her, and US Weekly has covered every catfight with her co-stars, her ongoing feud with her mother, her yo-yo dieting, and her threesome with two Hollywood it-boys. Needless to say, Theodora doesn’t have the best reputation around.

So when Theodora’s publicity team decides to clean up her act with a reality show called Theodora Twist—Just a Regular Teen!, they send Theodora back to her hometown to live with Emily’s family for a month. Theodora has to do everything Emily does: attend high school, care about grades, friends, boys, the prom, zits (as though Theodora has ever had one). And a very unlikely friendship is formed.

Read an excerpt at Random House Teens ( and visit Melissa’s website at

Here are Melissa's answers to my GCC questions:

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL “WRITING DAY”?: Now that my son is in kindergarten, I have set hours to work that don’t require paying a fortune. Love that. I reread the last two chapters of my WIP, then go from there, usually getting a scene down and the bare bones of the next two.

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK?: I was mindlessly watching MTV or VH1 and caught a show about Christina Aguilera visiting her hometown, camera crew capturing her every move. The next morning I woke up with the idea for Theodora Twist, about a teen movie queen with a seriously bad reputation who is forced back to her hometown to film a reality TV show about how she’s really just a regular teen. (She’s not!)

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER.: No matter what else you can call her, Theodora has a good heart. I’d like to think I do too.

IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A MAGICAL TRUNK THAT GAVE YOU LIMITLESS BOOKS TO READ, OR A LIMITLESS SUPPLY OF PAPER ON WHICH TO WRITE?: Limitless books to read. I can make up my own stories in my head, but I can’t make up other people’s.

BEER OR WINE?: Red wine.


WHAT’S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK? I have so many, but the one I’ve loved the longest is Anne of Green Gables.

About Melissa

Melissa Senate is the author of several novels for adults, including the bestseller See Jane Date, which was made into a TV movie. Before becoming a writer, Melissa was a New York City book editor and worked on many teen novels. She now lives on the southern coast of Maine, where outside her door is foot of fresh snow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Snowflakes, books, and crunching the numbers!

I've been planning ever since Day One of this school year to update this blog regularly. As you can see, I've fallen a bit down on the job. Ahem.

But I did want to post a recent update, and leave the rest to the mercy of New Year's Resolutions.

Catherine read 61 books in November (yay!) which was her stated goal for getting her ReadIt! pizza. So we'll be having a pizza lunch sometime next week. (In truth, she read more. Those are the ones she remembered to tell me about so that I'd mark them on my list.) A mix of chapter books and easier readers.

Yesterday, Isabella and Catherine made snowflakes out of pipe cleaners, string, and supersaturated Borax. They turned out great. My advice would be to use as wide a jar as possible. The crystals form b/w the jar and the flake, and I had to pry it loose! Here's a link to the instructions if you want to try it yourself.

Oh, and our big news! Catherine is done with first grade math! We're moving on to Level 2A in Singapore Math, having completed Level 1A and 1B (along with Alpha in Math-U-See). Catherine's very proud of herself, and I'm proud of her, too. We've spent a lot of time working on the word problems in particular, and she's really developed a sense of how to think in mathematical terms.

As for Isabella, she's doing so great! Her speech is coming along nicely, and she "reads" (i.e., carries a book around) all the time. She's doing great at counting (though she skips "six" all the time ... poor Mr. Six!). Both girls are taking piano, and are doing great!

That's enough for now. Next homeschool post will be more in depth ... and with pictures!

Monday, December 3, 2007

"He gave his life for tourism ..."

So ...

we've been doing Egypt, and Catherine read a book on King Tut. I got on line, found out the Tut exhibit is coming to Dallas next year, reserved slots, and then showed the girls the material on the web. They thought it was very cool.

And then ...

I remembered Steve Martin's King Tut, so I searched YouTube and found it.

Who would have thought two little girls, ages 6 and 4, would be sooooo enamored. Isabella has (for two days now) come over and over into my study making the sign for silly and pointing to the television. Needless to say, they are enraptured. And dancing "Egyptian" too.

In case you don't remember it (or are just too dang young) here you go:

Thanks, Steve Martin, for making my week. Not to mention entertaining my kids and supplementing our classical education with a mixture of whimsy, retro, and pop culture!

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Touring today is Elizabeth Lenhard's CHICKS WITH STICKS (KNITWISE), a new novel in her popular trilogy. (And the timing is perfect, since at the park the other day, I met a woman knitting with circular needles, and I was bowled-over impressed!)

At any rate, the Chicks trilogy began in 2005 with Chicks with Sticks (It’s a purl thing) (Dutton). Fifteen-year-old Scottie lives in a cool, Chicago loft, goes to a progressive-to-the-point-of-wacky private school—and she’s miserable. Her former best friend, trust-fund princess Amanda, is just that—her former best friend—and her mom has become an It girl in Chicago’s art world. Meanwhile, Scottie just wants to blend in.

Then she discovers knitting, and it’s as if she’s been thrown a cashmerino lifeline. Soon Scottie and Amanda find themselves hanging at their local yarn store, bound together by a yen for yarn and a hunger for friendship. They make two more knitty friends: Bella, a new age yoga goddess, and Tay, an indie tomboy with “anger issues” in the wake of her parents’ divorce. The friends’ stitches and their relationships become so intertwined that it’s hard to remember which came first: the girls or the purls.

Chicks #2, Chicks with Sticks (Knit two together), could be called the Chicks’ boy book. At sixteen, Scottie is finally smitten and thrilled to have her first boyfriend—or does she? Amanda’s heart is broken when she wakes up one day and finds that she’s a trophy girlfriend. Tay wonders if her b.f.—an adorable basketball player who knits on the side—is a cling-on. And Bella swears off boys altogether. Drama ensues—all, of course, to the tune of the girls’ click-clacking needles.

And now, there’s Chicks with Sticks (KnitWise). For Scottie, Amanda, Bella, and Tay, life in Chicago has been all about seeking shelter. They’ve found it in their firelit stitch ’n bitch at Joe Coffee; in the halls of their quirky private school; in the arms of boyfriends—and always in the comfort of the friendship that bonds them together.

But now the Chicks are staring down the end of high school and it's time to contemplate life beyond the protective web of their knitty ensemble. Will the stresses of college applications and service projects, debutante balls and long-distance loves, mean the end of the Chicks? Or can this unlikely foursome bind-off the happy ending that only true friendship can craft?

The Chicks with Sticks books aren’t just for crafty types (though each book does include several original knitting patterns and projects). They’re for anyone juggling the works-in-progress that are friendship, first love, and surviving high school; for anyone who’s ever found friends in the most unlikely place—or wanted to. Sometimes you just need some string and sticks—with some full-fat hot chocolate on the side—to get you there.

You can order the book HERE

Elizabeth's answers to my GCC questions:

I take care of my daughter from wake-up time (6:30ish) until my mother, aka "granny nanny," arrives (11:30ish) and go into the office and shut the door. I then realize I'm exhausted from all the momming, so I ease into things with some e-mailing, blogging, and blog-reading. I rarely get rolling before the clock strikes noon, but then I try to work until around 5, with occasional breaks for cuddling with the baby and chatting with my mom. It's a longer, messier work day than it would be if I went somewhere "off-site" and just FOCUSED for several hours, but apparently, I don't have the discipline for that kind of work day!

DO YOU RECALL THE KERNEL OF INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOOK? I must admit, my editor was the one who came up with the concept of a knitter grrrl novel. But I came up with the setting and characters as an ode to a life I'd just left behind. Only a couple months before I started writing the first Chicks book, "Chicks with Sticks (It's a purl thing)" I'd moved away from Chicago and a really great, tight-knit group of girlfriends. None of the characters are directly based on these friends, but the sweet, silly, familial vibe of our friendship definitely inspired the Chicks.

PICK A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK AND TELL US WHAT TRAIT YOU SHARE (OR COME CLOSEST TO SHARING) WITH THAT CHARACTER. Scottie (the main character in the quartet of Chicks) is closer to my teenage self than my current one. We both have/had a tendency to brood and to go a bit overboard with new obsessions, like knitting or boys.

Books! Without them, frankly, I'd curl up and die. And, though I guess writers shouldn't admit this, I can't say the same about writing.

BEER OR WINE? Wine (red)


WHAT’S YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOK? All time!?! That's too much pressure. I cannot choose. But ONE of my faves is "Feast of Love" by Charles Baxter.

More about the author…

Elizabeth Lenhard grew up in Atlanta and studied English and creative writing at the University of Michigan. She’s been a features reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a contributing dining critic for Chicago magazine, and the author of more than thirty series books for teens and children. Elizabeth lives with her husband and daughter in Atlanta. Now that the Chicks are college-bound, she’s assuaging her empty nest syndrome with lots and lots of knitting. Visit her online at or at her blog at