I'm welcoming back a VERY special guest today to celebrate the recent release of their new book! So exciting!!!!!!
Here we go...
Niki Lenz lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. She is the author of BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN and THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP. Follow her on Twitter at @NikiRLenz or visit nikilenz.com.
THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP (June 16, 2020, Random House)
Filled with reverse Parent Trap-like pranks, The Stepmom Shake-Up is a hilarious and heartfelt look at what it means to be a family.
After Grace's mom died, she and her dad grew extra close. They have special nicknames and are always busy with new projects- like building a puppy condo for their dog, Potus- and they love learning random facts about US presidents. Grace thinks her little family of two is perfect.
Then some committee members at church suggest it's time for Dad to start dating again. And Dad agrees! Grace knows that adding a new member to the team will end in disaster. No problem! She and her best friend have a plan. Operation: Stepmom Shake-Up! But what if a little shake-up is exactly what Grace's family needs?
Why middle grade?
I never get asked this question by people who know me personally, because it is pretty obvious if you’ve spent more than ten minutes with me that I am basically still a twelve-year-old at heart. I like writing things that make me laugh, and I guess it’s fun that my stories amuse other people too. I remember well the feeling of not quite fitting in when I was that age (and heck, sometimes now as an adult) and I think that theme of belonging resonates in pretty much all middle-grade writing.
Why humorous books?
There’s already plenty of sadness and fear in the world. I’d like to contribute something happy.
Do you write for different age groups and in different genres?
I have attempted to write a few YA novels in my day, but I am afraid to say I am just not very good at writing all that kissing. Yuck. And adult problems really bore me. So, I’ll probably just stick to middle grade. Although I wouldn’t mind writing a picture book or a chapter book series.
Favorite part of the writing process?
I always start a writing project by making a Pinterest board and then staring out of a window for hours at a time. This is my favorite part because literally anything can happen! There are no wrong answers! You can just think about whatever kind of story makes you happy. The hard work begins when you have to start writing it all down.
Strongest writing skill?
I think I am good at capturing a middle-grade voice that is authentic and not too syrupy sweet. I am a substitute teacher, and I have two children of my own, so I am around kids a lot. Pretty much the only thing that will make me put down a middle-grade book and never pick it up again is when the kids don’t sound like kids.
Weakest writing skill?
I, unlike many of my writer friends, am not a visual person. When I write a scene, I hear the words in my head, instead of seeing a movie in my head. Therefore, I often forget to describe the setting. I always have to add that in when I do edits.
Favorite genre to read?
I read pretty broadly, anything that is recommended to me really. I love sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary for all age groups. The only thing I don’t really like is scary stuff (sorry Kate!) I am a big wimp and I will have nightmares.
Got any party tricks or unusual skills?
My best party trick is asking every adult at the party what books they have been reading and then watching them look at me like I am an alien from another planet. Awkward. But I can also play the guitar and the ukulele, and I know the words to like every song ever written.
Most embarrassing moment you can share?
Oh, I’ve got a really good one, but I’m saving it for a future book. Sorry. No spoilers.
Coolest moment as a kid?
We used to live near a lake and my Dad taught me to sail. We had a tiny yellow sailboat with a sunset-colored sail and my Dad and I spent many a summer afternoon drifting across the lake together and getting hit in the head with the boom.
If not a writer, what's your dream job?
I think I would make an amazing cruise boat activities director or professional ice skater.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
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