Cover Reveal and Upcoming Events

I already shared this in my newsletter, but I wanted to put it here to make it official: Here’s the cover for The Truth Game, the fourth book in the Dirt Diary series, coming out in May. Yay!

Truth Game Final Cover

Also, I have a few events coming up in the next few weeks. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!

Saturday, November 21

Join me and twenty other authors for The Writers’ Loft’s 2nd annual Holiday Bazaar and Book Fair, to be held at An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Mass. from 1-4pm.

Sunday, November 29

Three other authors and I will be at the Festival of Trees in Easton, Mass, a fundraising event for the Easton Garden Club, taking place at the Easton Country Club from 2-5pm.

Saturday, December 5

I’ll be one of several authors signing books at the Framingham High School Holiday Marketplace in Framingham, Mass. from 1-3pm.

Cruising Into a New Book Deal!

I don’t think of myself as a terribly patient person, so it’s been killing me to sit on this news since January, but I can finally spill the beans that I’ve sold a new book to Scholastic! Here’s the official announcement from Publishers Weekly:

Erin Black at Scholastic Press has bought the middle-grade novel Once Upon a Cruise by Anna Staniszewski, about a 12-year-old girl who lands a summer job on a cruise, only to find her magical vacation quickly turning into a titanic mess. Publication is set for fall 2016; Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.

Woohoo! This book has been such a fun project to work on. When you put a bunch of people in the middle of the ocean on a Disney Cruise knock-off, shenanigans must ensue, right?

Also, I’ll be doing some story times in the next few weeks. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you!

Monday, October 19 at 10:30am at Books on the Square in Providence, RI

I’ll be reading Power Down, Little Robot and leading some robot crafts and activities. Come have your picture taken with a real-life Little Robot! (Bonus: I’ll be bringing BabyBot with me to the event, so if you want to pinch her robo-cheeks, here’s your chance.)

Saturday, October 24  at 11am at Wellesley Books in Wellesley, MA

It’s a multi-author storytime! I’ll be joining fellow authors Josh Funk, Nancy Tupper Ling, Jane McCormick Sutcliffe, and Ammi-Joan Paquette for a morning of picture book fun.

Book Awards and Cover Reveals

I feel like I’m always in the drafting/revising cave these days, but I had to peek out to share some great news. The Dirt Diary is one of 12 titles nominated for the 2017 Louisiana Readers’ Choice Award for grades 6-8! That means students in Louisiana will be reading the nominated books throughout the school year and then voting on a winner. I’m beyond honored to be nominated, especially since the other titles on the list are big-time books like The Crossover and Rain Reign.

In other news, I just sent in copyedits for Finders Reapers, the second book in the Switched at First Kiss series, which means it’s pretty much all done! I should be getting ARCs soon, and the book will be out in March. And since the cover popped up on Amazon and B&N, I guess it’s okay to share it.


And now I’m switching gears and working on The Truth Game, the fourth book in the Dirt Diary series, which will be out in May. Hopefully, I’ll have a cover to share for it soon!

Hollihock Conference Presentation

This weekend, I traveled down to New Bedford, Mass. to take part in the Hollihock Writing Conference, a brand new conference affiliated with UMass Dartmouth. It was great to hear speakers from so many different genres and to chat with fellow writers. Since the conference was small, there was a nice laid-back atmosphere which was particularly nice for those of us who tend to be a bit shy.

In addition to being on an “MFA or not to MFA” panel, I also did an encore of the “Don’t Let Common Writing Missteps Hold You Back” workshop that I presented at NESCBWI a while back. I promised the attendees that I’d post my PowerPoint, so for them (or for anyone else who might be interested) here is the presentation of 7 common writing missteps and how to avoid them:

Common Writing Missteps

(Note: I’ll keep this presentation up for the next month or so.)

It was a long but inspiring day, and I hope to visit the conference again next year.

Happy writing!

Originally published at

Some Upcoming Events

I’ve been pretty much a shut-in the past few months as I’ve been caring for BabyBot and furiously trying to keep up with writing deadlines. (If you’re waiting on an email from me or I promised to mail you some swag, rest assured that I haven’t forgotten!) But in the next few weeks, I’m going to start easing back into society. Fingers crossed I still remember how to have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around diapers and spit-up.

In addition to going back to teaching at Simmons College this fall, here are some other places I’ll be in coming months:

Saturday, August 22

I’ll be leading a workshop on common writing missteps and speaking on a “To MFA or Not to MFA” panel at the Hollihock Writing Conference in New Bedford, Mass. I’ll also be doing a short reading, which is free and open to the public, at 3pm.

Friday, September 11

Come celebrate recent releases by Writers’ Loft members (including I’m With Cupid by yours truly) at the first ever Book Bash at 7:00pm at The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass.

Saturday, October 24

It’s a multi-author storytime! I’ll be joining fellow authors Josh Funk, Nancy Tupper Ling, Jane McCormick Sutcliffe, and Ammi-Joan Paquette for a morning of picture book fun at 11am atWellesley Books in Wellesley, Mass.

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you!

Originally published at


A Quick Tip for Revising a Sequel

I’m currently in what I’m calling the Super Cave, a combination of a revising cave, drafting cave, and baby cave, but I’ve emerged to share a quick tip that’s really helping me with my current revision.

I’m working on revising FINDERS REAPERS, the sequel to I’M WITH CUPID, and trying something a little bit different this time. In order to make sure that the tone and pacing of the second book are comparable to the first book, I’m doing a side-by-side, chapter-by-chapter reread for both. That means I’ll read Chapter 1 of Book 1, and then switch over and read Chapter 1 of Book 2, and then move on to Chapter 2, etc.

This technique might sound a little bizarre, but it’s been helping me tremendously. Not only have I caught a couple of tiny inconsistencies between the two books, but I’ve also noticed places in Book 2 where things are dragging or where the tone and humor aren’t quite right. I love having new revising tools to put into my toolbox, and this one is definitely a keeper.

Have you tried out any new writing or revising tricks lately?

I’M WITH CUPID Release Day!

Today is the day! My newest book, I’M WITH CUPID, is officially out from Sourcebooks!

i"m with cupid final cover

Almost exactly two years ago, I was rereading The Children of Green Knowe by LM Boston for a class I was teaching at Simmons College, and a brief mention of a play in which Cupid and Death accidentally swap powers jumped out at me. I started to wonder what would happen if Cupid and Death were thirteen-year-old kids (because that’s how my brain works), and of course I had to write that story to find out.

I must admit that this is probably my favorite of the books I’ve written, partly because balancing the humor with the slightly darker themes was a fun challenge. I’m so excited that the story is out in the world!

If you’re on Twitter, I’m having a release day contest. Which 2 fictional characters would YOU fix up Cupid-style? Tweet your entry with the hashtag #ImWithCupid by 12am EST Wednesday, and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the book.

Also, if you happen to be near Cambridge, Mass. this Friday at 7pm, I’d love to see you at the launch party at Porter Square Books.

How am I celebrating this momentous day? By working on a revision of Book 2, of course! We writers sure know how to party.

Originally published at

What Does “Have More Fun with the Story” Really Mean?

It’s July! Which means I’M WITH CUPID will be officially out in a few days! I’m getting really excited for the launch party next week. Think people would be freaked out if I went around shooting them with love arrows? ;-) It’ll be my first time bringing the baby to a book event. We’ll see how that goes!

Okay, on to writing matters.

I’m working on revising the CUPID sequel, titled FINDERS, REAPERS, and even though I’m several drafts into the manuscript, there’s still a lot of work to do. One of my editor’s suggestions was to have more fun with the story, and I realized she was absolutely right. But I started to think about what this advice–advice I’ve given my students many times–actually means.

Here are a few things I came up with, and I think they apply to writing comedy as well as more serious stories.

-Don’t Censor

If you think something is too stupid or too silly, try to run with it and see where it takes you. Sometimes the craziest ideas lead you to storytelling gold. Plus, it’s always easier to rein a story in than it is to amp it up.

-Keep Asking “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?”

I think sometimes we just don’t push our characters enough, either because we’re lazy or because we’re being too nice. But a story doesn’t really work if you’re not pushing characters to their breaking points. That’s when the really interesting things happen. So if your character makes a bad decision, for example, try to make the consequences of that decision as plausibly bad as you can.

-Write What Entertains You

This might seem obvious, but if you’re bored then your readers will be too. If you find yourself skimming scenes as you reread them, that might be a clue that something is awry. Or if there’s a scene that’s always felt a little off, be honest with yourself about it. I had this problem with a couple of scenes that I knew weren’t right, but I didn’t know how to fix them. A nudge from my editor pushed me to cut them out, and now I’m working away to replace them with ones that are (hopefully) better.

I think having fun with a story really means being brave. Letting your wacky side loose. Writing scenes that are so ridiculous that you know you’ll probably cut them. But sometimes those extreme, over-the-top ideas are the ones that will bring your story to the next level. And, if nothing else, having more fun with a manuscript means that your story will never be boring.

Originally published at

Board Book Reading List

BabyBot is seven weeks old now which means I’m still not getting a lot of writing done, but I’ve been enjoying lots of cooing, smiling, and general baby cuteness (in addition to the crying and stinky diapers). We’ve been doing more and more reading together now that BabyBot is starting to really engage with what she’s seeing. Here are some of our current favorite board books.

Black on White and White on Black by Tana Hoban

These have been a hit since the baby was just a week old. She loves staring at the silhouettes, and I like coming up with different things to say about them. Wordless books are also nice because I can “read” them to her in both English and Polish.

Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter

BabyBot is a little young to fully engage with this interactive story, but she seems to enjoy us making funny sound effects and having her touch the pages.

Early Bird by Toni Yuly

I like the simple yet clear narrative, and BabyBot is fascinated by the illustrations. There’s one flower-filled page that she stares at intently every time we read it.

Baby Baby Baby by Marilyn Janovitz

This is another interactive book that’s full of fun,  active language and bright illustrations, and one that we reread often.

Those are our current favorites. What board books do you enjoy?

A New Cover for I’M WITH CUPID

As I mentioned last time, my newest book, I’m With Cupid, is getting a new cover! The publisher decided to go with a look that would appeal more specifically to fans of the Dirt Diary series. I hope this fun, new cover will entice readers to pick it up!

i"m with cupid final cover

I can’t believe the book comes out in a few short weeks! If you’re in the area, I’ll be having a launch party on Friday, July 10th at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass. It should be a fun time. Maybe I’ll even bring the Girl-Bot along. :)

Speaking of the baby, I can’t resist sharing a picture of her wearing a Little Robot onesie that some awesome friends had made for us. She’s clearly very excited about it!

lia little robot


We’re still working on teaching her how to power down for the night…



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