My Night as a 13-year-old Girl

Have you ever seen the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty? That’s me. I’m a thirteen-year-old girl stuck in the body of an adult (snoozefest).

But luckily, I have Shasta (this is the nickname her mother and I made for her). Shasta is the daughter of a good friend of mine, and I ADORE this child. She is my connection to the teen world, and I run LOTS of stuff by her when I’m writing YA.

So you can imagine my delight when Shasta invited me to her thirteenth birthday

IMG_1695
Shrimp, avocado, and mango. Three of my favorites!

party! This was my chance to hang out with three thirteen-year-old girls (along with Shasta’s mom), do crafts, watch If I Stay, eat sushi, and dress up like a monkey. Yes, you heard me right.

So the night started with Shasta, who aspires to be a make-up artist, doing everyone’s makeup…except we ran out of time being silly, and she only had time to do her own. ūüôā Then we headed to a sushi bar and to T.J. Maxx afterward for a little bit of browsing.

We IMG_1696got back to Shasta’s house and got into our animal¬†costumes. Shasta had handpicked them for us, and¬†we all had to wear them for the rest of the night. I was a monkey.¬†The costume was surprisingly comfy and cozy, except that my tail kept¬†knocking into stuff all night.¬†ūüôā

IMG_1699
Shasta’s fancy nails

Next we opened Shasta’s presents. Shasta is a sucker for a sad story, so I had to get her a few of my favorite sad YA books for her birthday. You’ll note Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda is in that pile. Not sad, but I loved it so much I had to get her a copy. *Side note: My good friend Greg Howard had lunch with the author and came back with a SIGNED COPY for Shasta, totally outshining my unsigned copy. But I couldn’t have been happier for her!

Next we put in If I Stay and hit our craft project – decorating clipboards! This was my contribution, and since¬†Shasta, her mother, and I had been planning this night for months, I was able to save a bunch of magazines for us to cut up with our favorite quotes, pictures, and¬†slogans and affix them to our boards using clear contact paper. All the girls’ boards looked fantastic, and we all had them to take home with us to commemorate the special night!

We finally hit the hay a little after midnight, and I slept like a baby monkey after our exciting night. I giggled nonstop and had an absolute blast during my night as a thirteen-year-old girl, and Shasta and her mom assured me we could do it again sometime soon. Yes!!!!!

A Million Thanks

After so many years of blood, sweat, and tears, my first published novel, The Summer Before Forever, is being released today!

In these past weeks and months leading up to this day, I have been OVERWHELMED by the amount of support and kindness from not only my friends and family, but from complete strangers who have reached out to me via my Facebook Author Page and Twitter. I cannot begin to express how unbelievably awesome and lifted up it makes me feel to receive these kind notes of celebration. (Moriah Chavis, you are my new favorite person!)

I thanked a handful of people in the acknowledgements of my book, but I am SO thankful, that I want to share those thanks here again and add some more to the list. (It was like pulling a tooth trying to whittle down the first list to a reasonable page count.)

I am so lucky to have gotten Heather Howland and Kari Olson as my editors extraordinaire on this book. Without their wonderful advice and gentle shoves, this book wouldn’t be close to what it turned out to be. Thanks and appreciation don’t begin to cover it!

Melissa Montovani is a seriously hard worker, and has graciously answered every one of my billion questions through this process. I appreciate her beyond measure!

Samantha Harris was essential in my research¬†of dyscalculia, and Ella Cain kept me from making a few embarrassing mistakes since it’s been a few *ahem* years since I’ve been a teen.

My special friend and fantastic author Jessica Calla has held my hand through this whole process, showing me the way to releasing a first book, and I’m actually not sure what I would do without her.

My “writing husband” Greg Howard has encouraged¬†me, literally on a daily basis for six years now. Golden.

Tom Amirante, Victoria Austin, Courtney Beisner, Rhonda Celsor, Jan Cook, Melanie Dukes, Wendy Egli, Jenny Fuller, Cathy Gibson, Ray Gibson, Jeanne Hardt, Gina Kelley, Andy Norris, Lori Odom, Rae Ann Parker, Laura Santini, Tricia Swaney, Regina Turner, Tamara Waters, Charissa Weaks, Amy Willis, and Maria Wolfgang all played parts in encouraging me very early on in my writing path to publication, and I will never forget their kind words and support.

So many sweet friends have helped me celebrate this book, but ones who have been over the top awesome are Kali & Trey Cain, Melanie Dukes, Kristen & David Kovach, Holly Mathis, and Mike Haynes.

My critique partners over the years helped me get to the point that I was ready to submit and get a yes! Those helpful people include Lindsey Anderson, Jessica Calla, Ellen Hairr, Greg Howard, Anna Landry, Laura Trentham, and the precious Jackie Ivey who I was lucky enough to get as a contest judge years ago and basically showed me how to write.

And finally, I am the luckiest wife on the planet to have the love and support that I do from my wonderful husband, Jody Chambers. He encourages me in everything I do, and he makes sure I have the time to do it. I really couldn’t ask for more from him.

I know I’m forgetting people, so I’ll apologize for that now. But I could not let today pass without a big out shout out. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are all appreciated beyond measure!

TheSummerBeforeForever-final-500x750

Available Now! Read the first chapter here!

Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram or sign up for my newsletter to be notified of new releases.

A July 4th Weekend to Remember

Once in ten blue moons, the stars aline and come together to produce one epic weekend. This past July 4th weekend was that for my family.

13512148_10206620145007815_5902140052055037627_n
Hubby rockin the mic.

We started out on Friday night at my hubby’s show. Lots of friends came out to see him, and it was an all-ages show for NotQuiteRight, so there were tons of kids there. My kiddo got to see his dad perform for the first time, which was super-cool to watch.

20160702_150356
Me gettin my float on.

Saturday, we were invited to the lake with some fabulous friends who rented a double-decker pontoon boat with a slide. I hadn’t been on the lake in over a decade. I floated on an inner tube, slid down the slide, and swam in the lake. We couldn’t have ordered up a better day for it.

IMG_2848
My favorite food to go with the best weekend ever.

Sunday, we went to a birthday party at our sweet friends’ house who cooked the most fabulous shrimp and grits with a fried egg on top. We ate birthday cake, and I discovered my new favorite drink: the Dark and Stormy, which is made with ginger beer. Fun facts: Ginger beer is nonalcoholic, has less than half the sugar as soda, and is fantastic. We finished off the evening at our good¬†friends’ house with a night swim in their pool where I did back dives off the diving board like I was back at the country club my family belonged to when we were kids.

IMG_2032
Meat. Good.

Monday, we finished the weekend with a pool party at the same friends’ house who we went on the lake with. We ate ribs, beef brisket, pork bar-be-que, and hot dogs. As my friend’s mom said, “It sucks to be a vegetarian here!” I am not, so it was quite wonderful¬†for me!

We met new friends this weekend and cultivated relationships with old ones. We ate and drank like gluttons, laughed and relaxed, and overall had the time of our lives.

Last night, as hubby and I recounted our weekend, he said to me, “I think this is the most fun weekend we’ve had.” I agreed. But the fact didn’t escape either of us that we are fortunate beyond measure to have been afforded the luxury to indulge the way we did this weekend.¬†We appreciate more than anything:

  • Our healthy bodies and that we are able physically to do all that we did this weekend.
  • The generosity of our precious friends.
  • The people who risk and have risked their lives and who have died to continue to keep our country safe and free.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone! Stay safe this summer, and keep lathering
on that sunscreen!