Author Spotlight: Niki Lenz


Oct. 16, 2020

We are excited to feature middle grade author Niki Lenz and her recent novel, THE STEPMOM SHAKEUP (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020). Enter to win a copy (US only)!

Design by Michelle Cunningham, art by Susann Hoffmann

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.

Hi! My name is Niki Lenz, and I am the author of BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN and most recently THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP. I started writing novels back when I was a stay at home mom, mostly just out of boredom! It gave my brain someplace to go while I was changing diapers and washing dishes. I’d always loved reading and enjoyed writing, but I’d never thought about seriously perusing a career as an author. But once I typed THE END on my first novel I was hooked!


Congrats on your recent middle grade novel, THE STEPMOM SHAKEUP. Tell us about the book and what inspired you.

THE PARENT TRAP was one of my very favorite movies when I was a kid. I loved the team-up between the girls and the hilarious pranks on the adults. So I wanted to write a story that had the same kind of friendship and shenanigans but maybe without the whole lying-about-having-a-twin thing.

Here's a trailer for the book:


Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

I think a lot of people would say that my road to publication was short, comparatively speaking. It took me several years, and around 300 rejections on three different novels before I got my agent. And then the book she signed me with didn’t sell after a year on submission. But lucky novel number four was BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN, the bully with a heart of gold that we’ve all come to know and love. 


What projects are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on the project of going back to work full time teaching fourth grade! I don’t have much space in my brain for writing new stories at the moment, but luckily my agent has some completed manuscripts that we are about to submit. They are all pretty much contemporary middle grade- funny, but with heart.


What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Read, read, read. If the last middle grade book you read was written in the 1950’s you need to read what came out last year! Whatever age level you write for you need to be really familiar with what it currently on the market. 


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

One thing most people don’t know about me is that I have a really good memory for song lyrics. You cannot stump me at Name That Tune. 


Where can people find you online?

For the most current info about books and event go to

I am @NikiRLenz on Twitter

And @Smile4Niki on Instagram



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  1. This books sounds awesome! I also loved The Parent Trap as a kid, then absolutely adored the newer version when my daughter was young. Great premise for a book. I also taught fourth grade and loved that age! Good luck with all your endeavors, and congrats on the new book!

  2. This books sounds great, look forward to reading it!

  3. Your book sounds humorous, Niki. I loved "The parent Trap" also, both versions. I like the premise of your book and can't wait to see how you use humor in it. Great post and trailer. I taught too but middle school. Good luck with your book!

  4. I already have this fun middle grade book on my Goodreads TBR and can't wait to read it. Best of luck getting back into teaching!

  5. This sounds very fun - I read my copy of the Parent Trap junior novel to smithereens!

  6. I haven't thought about The Parent Trap in years. It was a lot of fun back in the day. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this fun book.

  7. As soon as I read the title, I was immediately taken back to my younger days watching Parent Trap with my sister and laughing hysterically. I can't wait to read the book before sharing it with my readers. We could all use more reasons to smile right now.

  8. I loved that movie as well! Great inspiration for a middle grade book! Congrats and best wishes!


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