I was  recently asked to give the keynote speech at my high-school graduation ceremony. It was a great honor and not something I ever imagined happening in my life. I’m sure no one was really listening since I was the least important person there, but I thought I’d post a transcript in case anyone wanted to see what I had to say. This is just like being there without having to witness the flop sweat and constant lip licking. Enjoy!


Thank you. As a writer, I love this idea that our lives are like a story, so to be with you at such an important chapter in your story, even as a small footnote is exciting for me. I’ll admit it’s also a little surprising to find myself a keynote speaker, considering the type of student I was while at LA.

On the day I graduated I only knew two things about my future. One was that in a few short months I’d be following my friend Gina Coleman to Murfreesboro where we were going to start college at MTSU. And secondly, I knew that immediately following the graduation ceremony, I was going to Dale Hollow Lake because Martha Carmack’s daddy had taken the family camper there for us and a group of girls were going to have a graduation party. And I was super excited and had put a lot of thought into one of those things. The other, not so much. I figured whatever happened, happened. I wasn’t a particularly focused or ambitious student.

Read More For the Graduate


A few months ago, I interviewed my awesome agent, Susan Hawk, for The Middle Grade Mafia. In case you missed it, I thought I’d share her thoughts here.  Here are quick Ten Questions with Susan Hawk. Enjoy!


The number one questions has to be, “What are you looking for?” I found this on your website: In middle-grade and YA, I’m looking for unforgettable characters, rich world-building, and I’m a sucker for bittersweet; bonus points for something that makes me laugh out loud. I’m open to mystery, fantasy, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). In picture books, I’m looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and indelible characters. I’m interested in non-fiction that relates to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world. I’m actively looking for diversity in the stories and authors that I represent. My favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial.    Is this still correct? Anything else you’d like to add?

SH: It is! The books that I love the very most all share a couple things in common: the characters are complicated people whose hearts are big, as big as the mistakes they sometimes make. And in spite of those mistakes, these characters are wrestling with life, engaged in discovering the best parts of themselves and the people around them, all while seeing how people are unexpected, contradictory. I want writers who are interested in complexity, who aren’t afraid to show the good parts, and the bad, of their characters. The richest, most memorable books come directly from characters of the same quality.

Read More Looking for a Literary Agent? Meet mine!


After hours and hours of reading, and debating the merits of each entry, the Middle Grade Mafia has made their decision!

The Bertie - Shorty Story Contest

The Bertie Short-Story Contest winners will be posted on the Mafia website at 1 pm (EST) today! Thank you to everyone who entered, and to Winnwood Retirement for providing the prize money.

See you next year!





The Bertie is a contest open to 11-13 year olds. It gets its name from Bertie, a favorite character in LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS.


The Bertie - Shorty Story Contest

I have had a blast reading all of the wonderful entries to The Bertie. The Middle Grade Mafia folks are the official judges, but that didn’t mean they got to have all of the fun! I read through each story before sending them to the judges and I was very impressed. Talk about imagination!

I don’t know how the Mafia managed to narrow it down, but below you will find the finalists. The winners/honorable mentions will be chosen from the names below and announced on May 15th on the Middle Grade Mafia website. If your name is NOT on this list, don’t despair. EVERY entry was entertaining, which is the goal of a good storyteller, and you have created a world that didn’t exist before you put the words on paper. How cool is that??

Keep writing, keep submitting, keep telling stories. I can’t wait to read what you write next!

The Bertie Short List –

Brandon Bell, Beyond Reality

Mary Bielamowicz, Chronicles of Plastimandu

Cadence, The Dreamer

Maddie Cargile, The Basement

Rosie Curtis, Faces on the Ceiling

Hunter Echols, There Goes Breakfast

Allison Fawley, Fabia Fredrick and the Dragon

Morgan Hairfield, Waves

Sydney Hairfield, The Poachers

Zachary Harrison, Make Life Worth It

Kendra Hernandez, Mom

Joseph Lupi, The Jurassic Pocket Watch

Emily Meier, When We Meet Again

Evie Mendez, Evelyn: The Adventure Begins

Lily Reed- Nordwall, The Red Eyes in the Dark Corner

Niharika Panjala, The Door Not Opened

Noel Vanderbilt, Seasonal Rounds

Isabel Worley, An Everlasting Promise

Ansleigh Wyman, The One Who Felt Alone

Again, thank you to my wonderful sponsor, Winnwood Retirement. This contest would be a lot less fun without prize money. :)


Reading Last In A Long Line of Rebels in your classroom and looking for teacher resources? Homeschooling and looking for a free curriculum guide to supplement your studies? I am happy to provide this curriculum guide, aligned with Common Core State Standards, to you at no cost.


To download the free guide, click HERE.

This curriculum guide is aligned for grades 4th through 8th. Need details?

Common Core Aligned for Grades 4-8

4th grade: ELA. RL.4.1,2,3,4; RI.4.3,5,7; W.4.1,2,3,4,7,8,9

5th grade: ELA. RL.5.1,2,3,4,5; RI.5.3,5,7; W.5.1,2,3,4,7,8,9

6th grade: ELA. RL.6.1,2,3,4,5; RI.6.1,2,3,4,7; W.6.1,2,3,4,7,8,9

7th grade: ELA. RL.7.1,2,3,4; RI.7.1,2,3,4; W.7.1,2,3,4,7,8,9

8th grade: ELA. RL.8.1,2,3,4; RI.8.1,2,3,4; W.8.1,2,3,4,7,8,9

6th-8th grade: RH.6-8.1,2,7; WHST.6-8.2,4,7,8

I hope you and your student/students enjoy!

Teacher Resources

The Bertie - Shorty Story Contest

I have received some awesome submissions for The Bertie! I feel bad for the Middle Grade Mafia judges as they try to choose the winning submissions. If you haven’t yet uploaded your story, no worries. You have until midnight on Friday, April 1.

General Guidelines

The submission window is between March 1 and April 1

Writers may submit only one story per contest year

 Stories must be written by only one writer

 Writers must be ages 11, 12, or 13 years old

Previously submitted or published stories will not be accepted

Story must be no longer than 1500 words total

Story MUST contain a intergenerational aspect (two characters from different generations) no matter how minor.

Finalists posted online May 1, 2016

Winners posted online May 15, 2016

Submitting Your Story

Write your story in any word processing program

Go to

Click on the submission form link

Fill out the submission form. Copy and paste your story into the text box

Submit your story!

Writers will receive an e-mail confirmation up

If you have any issues, feel free to comment or send me an email at LisaLewisTyre (at) gmail (dot) com.

Good luck!


Blog The Bertie

L.S. Bridgers has been a part of the Mafia since the beginning, and the only one of the family with fans! At a recent writer’s conference, a young woman raced up to her and GUSHED about how much she enjoyed the reviews that L.S. writes. L.S. is fun, writes amazingly creative fiction, and knows good stories when she reads one – perfect for The Bertie!


L.S. Bridgers was born in the U.S. but raised in Rome, Italy

I find it gives me a unique way of looking at things. It probably explains why I love to write about magic so much. Magic is universal. But how we come to believe magic is real is individual. It’s that process that interest me. It tells us who we are and where we come from.

Bridgers began writing when she was at Rice University and the continued while she was at the University of Georgia School of Law. She began to write for children after her children were born. She credits her experiences as a lawyer for teaching her how to write about heroes and villains and the endless energy of her sons for inspiring her imagination.

A former lawyer, L.S. Bridgers lives outside Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, three sons and three dogs.

I can’t wait to see what L.S. picks!

Contest The Bertie

Very few people make me laugh like Kevin Springer! I met Kevin a few years ago when he joined our critique group and he has made a huge impact on my writing. I am so happy that he found time in his schedule to help judge manuscripts for The Bertie.

Kevin A. Springer


Kevin grew up on a farm in Maryland where his imagination knew no limits. As a husband and father, he reconnected with his creativity while telling bedtime stories to his two young boys. One such story evolved into his debut book, Extraordinary Sam & the Adventurers’ Guild (March 2015, Bookfish Books LLC.), which tells the tale of an ordinary boy who finds a hatbox and discovers a world of adventure and self-discovery.

Kevin is a self-proclaimed dreamer and a kid at heart. When he’s not writing or reading, he is coaching soccer or helping with homework. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife, two extraordinary boys, and dogs.


You can learn more about Kevin on his website, Twitter, and on Goodreads.



His book, Extraordinary Sam and The Adventures’ Guild is awesome and HERE.

Blog The Bertie

When I joined my current critique group, Alison Hertz was the first person I met. I immediately LOVED her. How could you not love a former clown? Since then, Alison and I have become fast friends and travel companions. We always share a room at writing conferences which is an extra bonus for a shy person like me because Alison knows everybody. She is a talented writer and illustrator and I am thrilled that she’s going to be judging manuscripts for The Bertie.

Alison Hertz

alisonAlison has always followed the tune of a different drummer. At age 10, she began performing as a juggler and when she was just 14 years old, Alison joined a circus. Really. So when her friends were going to football games and prom, Alison was riding a unicycle and walking a high wire. When it was time for her to attend college, Alison’s circus days abruptly ended and she headed to New York City to become a Toy Designer. After designing hundreds of toys that were sold in major retail stores including Toys R Us and WalMart, Alison returned to college to earn a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction so she could use her talents for entertaining children to get them excited about reading, writing and art. Alison also used these skills to write and illustrate her debut picture book, FLAP, which released in 2012. This teaching, toy designing, circus performing writer/artist mom is currently writing and illustrating picture books, chapter books, and mid-grade novels about her wildly exciting experiences. Alison has also illustrated hidden picture puzzles for Highlights. When Alison isn’t writing, drawing, painting, reading, creating puzzles, or volunteering at her children’s school she can be found doodling and is host of Doodle Day, an online daily drawing challenge with more than 500 participants around the world.

Check out her website, follow her on twitter, and like her on Facebook.


I have an awesome critique group and a big reason for its success is our leader – Debbie D’Aurelio. She’s a great leader, writer and friend. Also, HILARIOUS.

IMG_0556 - Version 2Debbie lived on three coasts growing up – California, Long Island and Florida. She began her fifteen year career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson in Los Angeles and also worked in Cleveland and Atlanta. Debbie loves to travel and learn how people choose to work, live and play and has been known to ask complete strangers about their life story.

When not writing, she can be found playing ball in the house with her husband and two energetic kids. From whiffle ball to basketball and riding scooters, she’s proud to say in nine years only two items have broke . . . totally worth it.

She is a member of SCBWI and The Atlanta Writers Club. Debbie is rep’d by Storm Literary Agency.

I’m thrilled that she’s agreed to be a judge for The Bertie. Read more about Debbie on her website, her Facebook Page, or follow her on Twitter.