Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The worst store in the world = the best thing that ever happened to her? Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes

"What a great story this is, full of all the teenage peer pressure, poblems with parents, trying to control hormonal reactions - it has the lot! [...]
This is a well written, believable story with strong characters all trying to cope with life's problems in their own way.
"  - Goodreads


Welcome to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage...

Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at the store, where the only thing stranger than the staff is the customers.

Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and completely below her social sphere—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her starting spot on the school softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst store in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?


One of the best things about being a writer is the chance you often get to look at perspectives from the other side. For example, with OLIVIA TWISTED, I was able to look at crime from the point of view of the criminal—finding an answer to the “why would they do this” question. Looking at situations from other perspectives has certainly made me more open-minded in general, I think.

PAPER OR PLASTIC was born from my many frustrations of shopping at big-box retail. You know—walk into any Wal-Mart—the sheer size of the place is overwhelming. So many choices, so many people (and some of the people shopping there are, well, fascinating). Kind of freaks me out, actually, and all I can think is how the employees handle it every day. That sparked an idea—what if a rather privileged girl shoplifted from a store and was forced to work there for the summer, but then as she started to understand her coworkers, found it to be not quite what she expected. 

The main character, Lex, starts out as a somewhat entitled teenager, completely mortified at working at SmartMart for the summer. But the longer she works there, and the closer she gets to many of the employees, especially her teenage boss Noah whom she originally thought of as the school geek, the more she realizes there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye. One thing is for sure—Lex will never be the same after her summer at SmartMart. 

Several of the things that happen in PAPER OR PLASTIC are inspired by real-life situations (even some of the most outlandish ones) that I’ve personally witnessed. Of course, it takes all kinds of people to make this world go round, and, as a writer, for that I’m grateful. 


Oh those first jobs—sometimes we wanted to poke our eyes out with a fork! Of course, working in a big box retail store isn’t the worst thing in the world, but for a girl who had counted on spending her summer playing softball and hanging out at the beach, it wasn’t exactly ideal. Lex had a rocky start at SmartMart before she realized how great the place really was. Isn’t that the way it usually works?

My second week of work started with training in bagging groceries. It wasn’t quite as boring as greeter, and at least I could use half a brain to sort out frozen items from pantry items. Noah asked Ruthie to train me, and he never so much as looked at me. I guess he was still mad. I couldn’t blame him.

Ruthie cackled loudly every time I mixed items that weren’t supposed to be mixed. It made me learn a whole lot faster, since I couldn’t stand the constant tee-heeing when I’d get something wrong. And unfortunately, I seemed to get a lot wrong in the beginning. Sometimes she’d take over and I’d watch her. One thing was for sure—Ruthie could organize items into bags faster than anyone I’d ever seen. All the frozen food together, boxes together—never a mistake like putting a can on top of a loaf of bread like I did. But even the fact that Ruthie laughed every time I’d screw up wasn’t the worst part.

No. The biggest pain in the ass about this position was that I had to ask every single customer if he or she wanted paper or plastic.

“Most places don’t ask anymore,” Bessie had told me on my first day. “But at SmartMart, we want to offer our customers every possible convenience.”

Convenience? Some of the customers looked annoyed at even having an option. They’d sling their environmentally friendly reusable bags at me, scowling as if the offer of evil plastic or foul paper was offensive. I even stopped for a while, until Mr. Hanson passed by once and said quietly, “Don’t forget to ask about paper or plastic, Alexis.”

About the author:

Originally from East Texas (the accent comes out more often than not), I now live in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, FL with my very understanding husband and three kids. 

I’m an extrovert with awkward blogging tendencies. My debut novel, OLIVIA TWISTED, comes out November 5, 2013 from Entangled Teen!

You can connect with me or visit the official Olivia Twisted site at:

Author's Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway


Joseph Hawkshaw said...

Love the cover book looks great would love to read.

Julie Waldron said...

I like the cover and the giveaway, thanks :)