The StepMom Shake Up - Niki Lenz Interview and Book Review

The Stepmom Shake Up by Niki Lenz

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 the 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 Stepmoom Shake-Up! But what if a little shake-up is exactly what Grace's family needs?

Reverse PARENT TRAP-like antics offer a hilarious and heartwarming look at what it means to be a family.

Kirkus Review:
"A funny, sympathetic look at a kid grappling with family change."

Join the Stepmom Shake-Up Launch Party Here: 

Q: Welcome to Teachers Who Read! Tell us a little bit about YOU J
A: Hi! My name is Niki Lenz and I am a wife, mom, substitute teacher and author living in Kansas City, MO. I enjoy reading, travel, glamping, Oldies music and red lipstick.
Q: What inspired you to become a middle grade author? 
A: I started writing when my kids were little and I was a stay at home mom. It was a way to entertain myself and avoid cleaning during nap time. The first few manuscripts I wrote were for teens and they were terrible, but I learned that I would much prefer fart jokes to kissing scenes and so enter middle grade.
Q: What was your influence for The Stepmom Shake Up? I feel like so many kids can relate to Grace’s emotions, you did such a great job portraying those!   
A: The blended family aspect of this book did not come from any personal experience other than my deep love for the movie The Parent Trap. I wanted to write a story with the kids pranking the parents. But maybe without the creepy part where you had a twin your whole life they never told you about.
Q: Can you describe your revision/editing process for students? Also, do you start writing on paper/computer/etc?
A: I usually brainstorm on paper, but draft and edit on the computer. It takes many many rounds of revision to go from idea to publishable manuscript. I like to edit in layers, meaning I will read the whole manuscript looking for one thing I want to change (like, “make this character funnier!”) and don’t try changing anything else. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Q: How different was writing The Stepmom Shake Up than Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen?  
A: The process of producing a work of fiction is always a painful but rewarding one. I have written thirteen full manuscripts now and I can’t say that the process has ever been the same twice. Specifically, I would say the voice came to me quite easily in BERNICE and the theme came a bit easier in THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP.
Q: What advice would you give to middle grade students who are writing?  
A: Don’t try to compare your writing to anyone else’s. Everyone has a unique voice and story to tell. And the good thing about writing is that it is a craft in which you can always improve.
Q: Future middle grade projects that you are currently working on? 
A: My agent currently has FOUR of my projects that we are trying to decide what to do with. They are all funny contemporary stories as well.
Q: What were your favorite books as a kid, and what do you recommend to middle grade classrooms?   
A: My favorite books as a kid were The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High (this is probably dating myself). But here are some better recommendations for the classroom: Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai and Meena Meets Her Match by Karla Manternach. Both funny and awesome.
Please hop on over to my website and explore the virtual launch party for THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP that is going on right now! There are more interviews, games and prizes!

To purchase The StepMom Shake Up click the photo below! 

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