Lisa Brown Roberts: It Takes a Village (of Characters)


 the-replacement-crushI’m excited today to host Lisa Brown Roberts, who has a few books out that I’ve loved this year: The Replacement Crush, which I told you about a while back, and Playing the Player, which happens to be on sale for .99 for the next couple of weeks. You can click on the book covers to find them on Amazon.

One of the things I love most about Lisa’s writing is her characters. They’re fun and engaging and realistically flawed… like they’re all people you’d actually enjoy hanging out with. And, that doesn’t end with the main characters; Lisa makes sure every character, from parents to best friends to even the smallest of supporting roles, is interesting and somehow makes the book better. I asked her to share a little bit with us about how her characters take shape, so I’ll turn it over to her!playing-the-player

I think it’s safe to say my books are character-driven, because my stories always grow from the characters- who they are at the beginning, the choices they make (good and not so good), and how they grow. I love creating the main characters of my books, but I really enjoy developing the secondary characters, too. They often surprise me and end up being the funniest or most memorable characters, according to a lot of my readers.

For instance in THE REPLACEMENT CRUSH, there’s a rock star who ends up playing a significant role in the story. When I first drafted the book, he didn’t even have a speaking role, he was just a guy on the beach to drool over and provide comic relief for my heroine and her bestie. He had other ideas, however, and I’ve heard from so many readers about him, as well as other secondary characters. I’m often asked if I’ll write another story set in Shady Cove, giving a couple of the secondary characters their own romance. That’s always a good sign, when readers want more of a setting and characters!

In PLAYING THE PLAYER, though the book is a romance, much of the story focuses on friendship. Both Trina and Slade, the hero and heroine, have best friends (Desi and Alex) who are the types of friends I love- honest, supportive, funny, and kind. Desi and Alex call out bad behavior and push Slade and Trina to be better people. They also know when to just listen, and laugh. And when Slade and Trina’s opposites-attract summer romance hits a rocky patch, it’s their best friends who encourage them not to give up, and to stop being stupid.

This book also features two crazy little kids, who often steal the show. When I first wrote PLAYING THE PLAYER I wasn’t sure how readers would respond to a story about two teen nannies dealing with two crazy kids, but I was in love with the idea, and really in love with those little kids, so I wrote it anyway. Fortunately it was a big hit with readers, and I’m so happy I trusted my intuition.

As a mom, I like to write books that include parents as well, because teens don’t live in a vacuum- but I don’t ever want to write “lecturing” books. I strive to create relatable parents who aren’t perfect but aren’t horrible, either, just real people who love their kids. In some cases the parents make painful choices, like in my first book HOW (NOT) TO FALL IN LOVE, when the heroine’s father leaves the family rather than deal with problems he caused, and the mom doesn’t cope with the abandonment very well.

However, I’m a firm believer in redemption and resilience, so this book ends on a hopeful note, and both parents are inspired to do better by their daughter’s courage.

Our real lives are peopled with amazing characters, and I hope to the same with the imaginary worlds I create, inventing characters who come to life, and who you’d like to meet in real life.

Guest Post: Rachel Harris, author of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

It’s a pleasure to have Rachel Harris, with us, author of the lovely My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, which I told you guys about a few days ago. You can see my recommendation here.

Hi everyone! First, I want to thank Melissa for having me on her blog today, and for featuring My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century. This book was so much fun for me to write, and my main character, Cat Crawford is a hoot! Today, she’s here to give us all some quick and easy tips for how to dress in the Renaissance. It’s important to note that she’s a twenty-first century girl, so her opinions may not exactly be shared by her sixteenth-century cousins  (*grin*).

Take it, Cat!

Fashion Dos and Don’ts of the 16th Century with Cat Crawford

Okay peeps, as you may know, I recently returned from a time travel adventure to the past. Like, 500 years in the past. And there was a lot to love, but I also spotted some major faux pas going on. So today, I’m here to share Quick and Easy Renaissance Fashion 411 for all future time travelers.


  • Go for the natural look. People, the sickly white makeup with garish scarlet cheeks is not doing anyone any favors.


  • Immediately dismiss the men’s colored tights and puffy shorts look. I know, it’s not exactly what hotties today are sporting, but once you get over the eye-popping shock, you actually come to appreciate the yum-a-licious views of their legs. Well, when they’re attached to a hottie, that is.


  • Work the skirt. See, you’re gonna be in dresses—actually surcoats—the entire time, so start practicing the hip sway now. With those swishing skirts accentuating your shrunken waistline (we’ll get to that in a second), attention will be drawn away from the bazillion cultural mistakes you’re bound to be making. (Case in point: do not say the word dude or mention drinking water. Trust me.)


  • Freak out about the corset or corselet if you’re in Florence. The upside, you don’t have to wear them every day. The down side, they do exist. And they suck. And they are from the devil.


  • Sneak a couple pairs of underwear somewhere on your person before you depart. Chicas in the past? Yeah, lots of layers going on, but there’s no primitive version of Victoria’s Secret. I hear some wore option linen drawers, but I saw none of that. So, either embrace the commando or bring some undies from home. You’ll thank me.

And Finally, Don’t:

  • Forget to enjoy the hairstyles. Seriously, the most creative thing I do at home is a French twist or plugging in my curling iron. These women go all out. And bonus, you get your own maid to brush your hair. I guarantee you’ll turn into a pile of goo…unless you get a maid like my cousin Alessandra. Yanking sucks.


Click the image below to check find the book on Amazon!


My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris


I really enjoyed My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century! It was lots of fun overall, especially if you like art from Renaissance times. There were some fun surprises in this book related to the Renaissance and things Cat was able to see on her magical trip back in time, and while there was some cheesiness in that “magic,” it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I thought Cat’s Renaissance family was fascinating and well written, Lorenzo was beyond dreamy, and I loved the clash between modern and Renaissance society as Cat tried to fit in. I actually laughed out loud at some of the situations she got herself into, and some of the modern language she used, that resulted in awkward, funny scenes.


Check it out on Amazon (where it’s currently on sale for $.99 on kindle!)or at your favorite book store. :)

Official Blurb from Goodreads:

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze. Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?


The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg


I am always, always, always up for a good Sherlock Holmes retelling, and Eulberg’s Shelby Holmes story is a perfect middle grade entry into the Sherlock world.

In it, Shelby Holmes is a 9 year old sixth grader with all the brains, sass, and social awkwardness you’d expect from a character based on Sherlock, and John Watson has just moved into the building. John, whose military parents have just gone through a divorce, is in need of new friends and sort of falls into Shelby’s crime solving world when a classmate of theirs discovers that her prize-winning dog has been stolen.

Shelby and John are both well-written characters who work together in their own quirky ways, and they have depth to them that goes far beyond the crime to be solved. With John’s family situation and Shelby’s trouble making friends, there’s plenty here for readers to identify with and cheer the characters through.

The mystery itself is both clever enough to be worthy of a 9 year-old Holmes and solvable enough for a middle grade audience. The Great Shelby Holmes would be perfect for readers as young as 4th grade and I can see its appeal going up through middle school. Also, for those adults (like me!) who love Sherlockian literature, it’s a really fun look into the classic characters as modern day kids. Elizabeth confirmed for me that there will be at least two more Shelby Holmes books, and I’m already looking forward to them!