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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Au Revoir!

I'm heading off today to Europe. I'll be hop-scotching between Switzerland, Monaco (fancy!!, and Paris, and I am super excited.

I'm going to try not to annoy my friends by doing too much work while I'm there, so my plan is to be pretty much off-line for ten days. Eek! I'm feeling the withdrawal already.

I will, however, be writing, writing, writing. I also brought tons of wonderful books, including a collection of Nabokov short stories my wonderful agent, Stephen Barbara, gave me for Christmas. I've also packed my sketch pad and (of course!) my computer, so it looks to be a fun and creative holiday.

Stay warm, safe, and healthy...and have a very happy New Year! May '10 bring great things to everyone...


Thursday, December 24, 2009


Hi all...

Just wanted to say everybody is having a joyful holiday season, no matter what you celebrate or believe in. I, for one, believe very strongly in COOKIES and PRESENTS!

I'm off to my mom's in a few, loaded down like Father Christmas with gifts for the fam...Then a little later, we head to Bayside for our traditional Christmas-Carol-and-Jewish-Deli-Food Xmas Eve Celebration... :) What can I say? We're suckers for pastrami and Silent Night.

To the Rubin/Davison clan--can't wait to see you tonight!!!!
To everyone else, NO PEEKING at your presents. Be safe, be happy, and be well.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Have Yourself A Morbid Little Christmas--CONTEST!

Hi all....

Well, as my end-of-the-year gift to all of you I am giving away not one, not two, but three fabulous prizes to the winner of my "Have-Yourself-A-Morbid-Little-Christmas" Contest! I'll be giving away three books, all of which deal in some way with death--cheerful, right?

The books are:

Before I Fall (my book--in ARC form)
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman (in hardcover)
Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (in hardcover)

That's right, the lucky winner will receive all three books! (Check out the pic below--you can see my Xmas tree in the corner of the frame! he he he.)

All you have to do to enter is answer my question: What's on your Christmas (or Hanukkah, or non-denominational holiday) wishlist this year? And please leave your email address so I can contact you!

This contest will run from now until 12/25, so hurry up and enter already!!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Check Out This Awesome Video!!

I'm not going to lie, people. There are very few things I like more than a good book trailer. Someday, I hope my baby book grows up and gets a movie appearance of its own.

But in the meantime, check out my friend Lauren Mechling's book trailer here.

If that doesn't make you want to run out and by her forthcoming novel, Dream Life, in January 2010, then I'm sorry to be pointing fingers but...you're crazy!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Live Like You Were Dying

...Cue the Tim McGraw soundtrack!

Seriously, thank you for everyone who participated in the BEFORE I FALL giveaway contest! I have selected a winner (literally, out of a hat--Marianna, your name came up, and I'll be emailing you shortly), but I am sincerely moved by all of the amazing responses I received in answer to the question: What would you do on the last day of your life?

Some people's ideas: bungee jump. Attend a live show of a favorite band. Travel somewhere new. Climb a mountain. Buy a really phenomenal dress (definitely agree with that one!). Eat tons of food--'cuz who cares about calories? (Also agree with that one, incidentally.)

Again and again, though, people said the same thing: on their last day, they would spend time with the people who matter most--husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, parents, friends, pets. I think that's super significant. Not to be a cheeseball, but it's that time of the year when we are supposed to celebrate our most significant relationships and family ties, so get a jump-start on your Last Day Agenda and let the family- or friend- bonding begin! I know I will. :)

Also, for those of you who did not win (sorry!!), you can enter to win my book on Goodreads here. Additionally, since this is the season of giving, I'll be hosting another contest soon in which I give away not one, not two, but three prizes to the lucky winner, so be sure to check back soon!

Hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying the holiday season.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Win a Copy of BEFORE I FALL!!

Hi all...

Since I received additional galleys from my publisher recently (yay!), I have decided to start giving them away! 'Tis better to give than to receive, after all.

I'll also be hosting a giveaway through Goodreads (more details on that as I have them), but in the meantime I thought I would have a little mini-contest! I actually plan on having a different contest every week in December, so please check back frequently!

Here's the deal: In order to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is respond to a question I have selected. The questions will be loosely related to Before I Fall, and generally pertain to issues/themes that interest me.

The first question is:

What would you do on the last day of your life?

I know--shallow question, peeps! Please comment back here. The winner will be selected at random but in order to enter you MUST reply to the question in a comment. It is THEMATIC, you see, as Before I Fall is partly about a girl trying to sort out how best to live her last day.

PLEASE RESPOND BY DECEMBER 10TH, when I will be selecting a winner! And make sure you leave me a way to contact you (email or twitter or whatever works for you).

Good luck!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mexico, Querida

I hardly ever share pictures and that is a mistake, according to my friend Suzanne Young, who blogs here and whose forthcoming book, The Naughty List, will be out in February 2010! She knows everything, so I thought I would share pics from my recent fabulous trip to Todos Santos, Mexico...and you can expect MORE PICS from me from now on, people!

Todos Santos is awesome...It's a small fishing-village an hour and a half away from Cabo (through the desert). There's not a whole lot of tourism so the beaches are remote and private and empty...Except for the wild horses! (No lie--one of them bit my friend! They are wild for a reason, I suppose). We saw whales and baby turtles and ate ceviche and I did lots of writing and reading and it was a good time, as you can probably tell. :)

Now I'm back in frigid NYC, so I am projecting myself backwards through time and into the pics and the warmth of the Mexican sun.


PS. In group pics I am the very pale one!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Very Necessary Shout-Out

See that oh-so-gorgeous time-keeping widget in the upper right corner of my blog, which is even now counting down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Before I Fall hits the shelves (and you guys hit the stores to snag a copy? Right, guys? Please? Pretty please??)?

Well, guess who made that fine-looking functional piece of work?


Okay, so I've never actually met Carla in person, but she blogs here (thecrookedshelf.blogspot.com) and she is participated in my international Before I Fall ARC tour, and from our various communications back and forth I can tell she's awesome. I am really looking forward to meeting her next year when I go to England (crossing fingers she and Jenny of Wondrous Reads will be in London at the same time as me and we can all meet up at a pub!).

Anyway, just had to say a public thank-you. Carla, You Rock.

Okay. Off to snooze. A manana, amigos.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Junot Diaz, Putting Your Writer's Block In Perspective

A very good friend of mine sent me this article today. Extremely encouraging for anyone who has ever doubted his/her writing abilities (which, in my experience, is anyone who has every written).

Doubly appreciated since I am sick in bed with the flu and need lots of reading material, having exhausted all of the Glee episodes on Hulu.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!

Since yesterday I was too busy stuffing my face with delicious things like turkey and roasted butternut squash (thanks, mom!), I did not get to post about all the things I am very thankful for this year. Because this is '09, I am going to try and limit myself to 9 of them.

1. Skype, because it allows me to talk to my sister while she is doing a post-doc in Oxford.

2. The fact that I live in the same city as my parents. Nothing like getting to take the subway home with a bag full of leftovers!

3. My passionate, brilliant, generous, beautiful friends. They inspire me to be better.

4. Oceans, whales, beaches; mountains, trees, and woods; sunshine and stormy days.

5. Toasters, for making bread so much better.

6. Stephen Barbara, agent extraordinaire and surprisingly effective relay team member...

7. Book bloggers! (Especially teen book bloggers.) They keep the passion for books alive.

8. Rosemary Brosnan and everyone at Harper who has worked on Before I Fall, from acquiring editor Brenda Bowen to cover designer Joel Tippie and marketing director Suzanne Daghlian and everyone in between, for the dream that has so far been this publishing experience.

9. This last one is a little harder to explain, but I will try. After the death of one of my closest friends this year, I went very deep into myself for a long time, and I discovered a lot of darkness there. Then I went even deeper than that, and at the bottom of the bottom of myself, I discovered joy. I am very thankful for that.

I hope everyone had a happy and healthy thanksgiving (except for the turkeys of the world--sorry, guys.)


Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Does Reading Sound Like?

A few interviewers have asked me what song or playlist best embodies Before I Fall, and I think this is a fascinating question. Due to our exposure to film and TV, we are so used to the amplifying and evocative power of music, and I love the idea that books, too, conjure up specific songs for their readers. Unfortunately, it's a question I feel uniquely unqualified to answer, as I know practically nothing about music (although it is true that I often give my characters "theme songs," songs I listen to when I need to insert myself into their mindsets or emotional lives. The first novel I ever wrote featured a character whose "theme" song was "Little by Little," by Oasis, and when I wanted to get into Sam's head while writing BIF--and evoke her confusion, anger, and desperate desire to break free from the endless reiteration of her last day--I often listened to "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence.).

That's why I was *so psyched* to learn that 9th-grader Caroline S. had actually generated a playlist for my entire book! I was even more psyched when I perused her musical suggestions and found that among them were some of my favorite songs, like "Party in the USA" (my summer anthem) and "Apologize," by Timbaland, as well as some of my favorite singers/artists: Rascall Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland (hey, what can I say? I'm a country music fan). Even better, thanks to Caroline S I've now added a bunch of new songs to my ipod (I've been listening to "Popular," by the Veronicas, on repeat for several days now!).

So, Caroline, thanks for the awesomeness! You rock. And for everyone's listening pleasure, I've posted Caroline's playlist recommendations below. BTW, check out the page numbers; Caroline synced up the writing and the music like a deejay syncing up turntables. Love it.

Before I Fall Playlist

1. “Party in the USA” Miley Cyrus (page 59)

2. “Bring on the Rain” Jo Dee Messina and Tim McCraw (page 73)

3. “Stay” Sugarland (page 76)

4. “I Hate This Part” Pussy Cat Dolls (page 128)

5. “Here It Goes Again” Ok Go (page 131)

6. “S.O.S” Rihanna (page 162)

7. “So What” P!nk (page 184)

8. “Popular” The Veronicas (page 225)

9. “Shopaholic” Verbz (page 231)

10. “Just a Dream” Carrie Underwood (page 332)

11. “Light Up the Sky” Yellowcard (page 337)

12. “Apologize” Timbaland (page 404)

13. “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight” Outfield (page414)

14. “True Friend” Hannah Montana (page 421)

15. “Stand” Rascal Flatts (page 438)

16. “Thunder” Nuttin’ But Stringz (page 466)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Book is a Cheese-Head!

While I roast on a beach in Todos Santos, Mexico, the Traveling Copy of Before I Fall is continuing its cross-country trek back in The Homeland. This time, it has landed in Wisconsin, where it has braced itself against the chilly autumnal weather by snuggling up with a pig t-shirt and a cuddly pig stuffed animal (special thanks to Erica at the book cellar for providing the pic and taking such good care of my book, despite the fact that she was unable to unearth a cheese hat for it to wear!).

For your viewing pleasure....

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Am Going On A Trip, And I Am Going to Bring...

Does anybody remember this game? I remember very clearly that when I was in first/second grade we had to sit in a big circle and play. The game was an alphabet game; you would go around the circle and each person would select an item to bring on the fictitious trip that started with the next successive letter of the alphabet. (I'm going to bring an apple! I'm going to bring a bear! I'm going to bring a circus!)

Anyway, I remember always feeling like the game was really dumb because, it's like, really? You're going to bring a circus on vacation? In your suitcase? Even at the time I was clearly obsessed with realism. And then I always felt like we would all be totally unprepared for an actual vacation, since no one ever said I'm going to bring sunscreen for s or a pullover for p in case the weather gets cold at night.

But anyway, I'm leaving today on vacation for two weeks to lovely Todos Santos, Mexico (yay!!), and I realized that my suitcase is so filled with an assortment of oddities that it could totally have been assembled by a bunch of first-graders playing this game. A selection of the items in my suitcase, below:

2 Cookbooks
7 Regular books
6 bikinis
1 Chef's knife
2 tubes sunscreen
1 Rash guard (for surfing)
1 Meat thermometer
1 very nice bottle of wine
Running Shoes
1 jar of peanut butter

In other words...I'm ready to go!

Will post from south of the border (if Wifi is available)--in the meantime, happy weekend to you all!


Embarrassing high school pictures here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wisdom of the Ages

So... This weekend was my birthday, and as I am now a year older and allegedly a year wiser, I thought I should do a post about all the things (or, at least, some of the things) I learned this year:

1. Chocolate truffles and anxiety do not make a good combination. (Okay, so that's not the most profound thing, but it's the one that occurred to me first.)

2. If you are nice to other people, the world is a much easier place.

3. Corollary to #2: It really is true that you get what you give.

4. When you park your car in NYC, you really have to pay attention to the parking regulations. (3 parking tickets down, an infinity to go!)

5. Freud said in order to have a meaningful life, you needed two things: work and love. He was onto something.

6. You cannot change people, for better or for worse.

7. If you have one friend or, in my extremely lucky case, several friends, who will fly with you to a funeral, and hold you while you are sobbing, you have already led a very, very successful life.

8. Sometimes, a book and an early bedtime really are the answer for everything.

9. Scones are delicious, especially when enjoyed with one's sister in Oxford.

10. Time may heal all things, but it won't do so linearly: the healing comes in fits and starts and loops and curls.

11. When all else fails, put on some really great music and dance.

12. Barefeet on grass, the smell of barbecue, and warm berry pie with ice cream: a combination good for the soul.

Okay, so I've probably learned more than this but it seems like a pretty solid list. And lastly, this year I discovered a wonderful new quote:

"We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warmly and loved each other."--Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Amen, Hem.
Can't wait to see what next year brings!


Monday, November 2, 2009

Before I Fall a Borders Original Voices pick!

This weekend, in the midst of navigating adorable children dressed up as bunny rabbits and trying mostly unsuccessfully not to consume every piece of candy I'd picked up for the trick-or-treaters, I got a piece of fabulous news. There I was, minding my own business, munching a Greek Omelette and pretending to read the paper while really people-watching, when my editor called to let me know that Before I Fall had been chosen as Borders' March 2010 Original Voices pick!!

I was so excited I almost choked on a piece of feta...which is hard to do, because feta is a semi-soft cheese. THAT'S HOW EXCITED I WAS.

According to their website, Borders defines their Original Voices selections thusly:

Borders Original Voices recognize fresh, compelling, and ambitious written works from new and emerging talents in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, and kids' books. We select innovative and inspiring new books from first-time authors, as well as works that represent a new direction for established authors.

All I can say is: :D :D :D. (Okay, I recognize that using emoticons isn't exactly "saying" anything, but for this purpose we'll have to consider funny visual representations of smiley faces vehicles of speech.)

Yayyy! Thanks for the faith, Borders. Just so you know: my book (and I) really, really appreciate it.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh. My. God. I'm IN A MOVIE

Check it out:

My starring role.

(yes, I'm a dork, but this is very exciting for me as I barely know how to use a computer.)


That Which We Call a Rose, By Any Other Name...

...Would smell as Sweet?

Possibly, though not necessarily if written in German!

Okay, here's the deal: I absolutely love Germany, and the German language. My favorite philosophers are all German (Kant; Nietzsche; Schopenhauer); some of my favorite writers are German (Goethe; Hesse; Brecht); Beethoven was German...and, of course, nobody does beer and sausages (two of my favorite things) as well as the Germans!

But I think it's fair to say that the German language isn't as melodic as, let's say, French...

Point is, I just received an email about the German translation of the title of my book. Ladies and Gentlemen, the German version of "Before I Fall" is... (drumroll, please)...

"Wenn du stirbst, zieht dein ganzes Leben an dir vorbei, sagen sie".

Which translates to something like:

"When you die, your whole life will pass before your eyes, they say"

As my agent says...just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? :P

Seriously, I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to be published there and don't care whether they call my book GobbledyGook and the Story of Nonsense (okay, I might mind that), but I just had to share. You have to admit--it's kinda funny.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Rules

The lovely Mandy of HeaddeskForWriters.blogspot.com contacted me recently about doing an interview on her site closer to the publication of Before I Fall. I of course acquiesced happily and gratefully (in my fam, no one asks for my opinion on anything more significant than shoes and restaurant selection--not that either shoes or restaurants is insignificant, by any means--so it's always fabulous to get solicited for my feelings on writing/books/the creative process).

Anyway, Mandy asked me a question that really struck a chord with me. She wrote:

Here on Headdesk, I have a minor obsession with the rules of writing. Is there any particular rule you write by?

First of all, I want to say that I think this is a great question. Second of all, I want to clarify that I am reprinting this question without having consulted Mandy, so I am hoping she will forgive me for the shout-out. (Sorry, Mandy.)

In general, I'm not sure I believe in writing "rules." I certainly don't "only write what [I] know," for example. My first-ever novel, completed when I was nineteen, was told from the perspective of a 35-year-old man with a sex worker addiction whose first wife died of cancer. (I was very angsty back then...actually, I'm still angsty, but whatever.) And I don't show instead of telling, necessarily; I use exposition with liberal abandonment, in fact.

There's only a single writing "rule" I rigorously adhere to: I write Every. Single. Day. No matter what. At my desk. In the subway. On the train from Champagne to Paris. In the park. I think the most difficult part of being a writer is overcoming daily Resistance, those hundreds of myriad excuses and time-sucks and procrastination techniques that keep you from digging into your manuscript (like, um, blogging...). The only way to get good at beating resistance is to beat it again and again and again; that's why I write every day.

I'm going to do a longer post about Resistance at some point because it's a topic that really interests me and is, I believe, pertinent to all creative endeavors, but now I want to know: Writers, what about YOU? Is there a writing rule you follow?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boys On The Side?

So, in the past week I got some very interesting responses about what people are tired of--and what they'd like to see more of--in YA literature. One issue that arose? The male protagonist, and whether it is possible/desirable to have a greater quantity of male protagonists in books primarily targeted to teen girls.

People seem divided on this, and to be honest I am too. @Wavekeeper always prefers female main characters, no matter how subtly characterized the boy protag might be. And as a girl, I think it is easier to "relate" to a female main character.

But is our ability to relate ultimately the thing that makes a book worth reading, or a character's story worth pursuing? I wonder. And might it help reduce some of the Men-are-from-Mars, Women-are-From-Venus style-polarized thinking if we were forced to try and relate, at least through fiction, to members of the opposite sex? (Any girl knows there's almost no hope of relating to guys in real life.... :P)

@LovesSam just read Beautiful Creatures (which looks amazing, btw, and which you can order from Amazon here), which apparently totally rocks out a successful male MC (main character). Now I'm dying to read it, even though I often resist books in which the main character is a guy--strangely, though, only in YA literature. (I didn't put down Great Expectations with a sigh of frustration because Pip wasn't stressing over the shoes he was going to wear to Homecoming...) JessJordan (are you on twitter??) is ready for it to be raining--or at least drizzling--men...in the pages of a book, at least.

The idea of someday writing a book with a male main character does appeal to me, primarily because it seems extremely challenging, and I'm always up for a challenge. Who knows? Maybe writing from a guy's POV would help me sort out/untangle the complexities of the male psyche (if there are any! kidding, kidding)...which, for anybody who has ever tried to navigate the the NYC dating scene, would DEFINITELY be a giant plus!

Okay, those are my thoughts for the day! Happy Thursday!

www.laurenoliverbooks.com (oh, by the way, I will be ending all of posts with a link to my website from now on just in CASE you want to go there and check it out and look at funny prom pictures of me.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Location, Location, Location

So...my book has begun its journey, both across the United States and to foreign lands.

One copy is currently in Washington with Sarah, who very kindly assured me that my book was keeping very good company by photographing it hobnobbing with some Tenner books (that's the UK galley cover, in case you are wondering--my book is in the middle).

On the other side of the ocean, Jenny informed me that my book arrived dusty, tired, and craving a hot shower and a cold beer on her doorstep in England.

Annnnd...she's off!

Monday, October 19, 2009

YA LIT: What's Hot, What's Not, What We Wish Would Go Away

Inspired by the spate of Fall Fashion Features in various female-targeted magazines (which I never read, by the way, as they only leave me feeling bitterly insecure about not being able to buy a $4,000 fur-trimmed-Vanessa-Bruno-skirt in a size OO and then fit it with ease) trumpeting articles about What's New This Season, I decided to do a little twitter round-up of all the things in YA lit we wish we could see more of, and all of the things we wish would be DONE. Basically, I just asked what subjects/genres people would like to see better represented in the YA world. I got some very interesting answers, and will share them below. (For the record, if you do not follow any of these peeps, you really should.)

@Wavekeeper likes standalone novels, and also dystopias, alternative histories, and post-apocalyptic novels. Ed note: This made me giggle with glee, as my book 2 is a stand-alone dystopian alternative history of the United States, coming out in March 2011!

@LovesSam rightly points out that angels seem to be the next big thing, and wishes someone would draw inspiration from Paradise Lost. Ed note: I love the idea of taking inspiration from great literary works, and as Paradise Lost is one of my faves, can only wish I had the smarts to have come up with this myself.

@suzanne_young wants to see more REALISTIC teen romance, and @EmilyJGriffin agrees. She is sick of stories in which people meet and within two days have vowed their eternal devotion to one another, and suggests a cross between Laurie Halse Anderson-style realism and romance.

@sharonlovescats is tired of paranormal, and extremely tired of books in which boys pine after girls who treat them like dirt, just because those boys are smolderingly good-looking. Ed note: I couldn't agree more. I know this is a convention that extends way beyond YA literature (girl pines for asshole), but I just find it horrifying that it continues to perpetuate a very unhealthy and unfulfilling view of romantic relationships, and about how girls should be treated.

@susan_adrian posted a whole fascinating article about this here.

and lastly...Sophie Jordan, who is on facebook but not twitter (c'mon, Sophie--you know you want to join!) is tired of seeing paranormals that only feature vampires, and would also like to see more male protagonists. Ed note: I've been mulling the problem of male protagonists over for a long time. The issue is, would you/could you target girl readers with a male protagonists? Or boys? Or both? Are the sexes so divided by high school about what kind of books they like to read that you could not find a book/theme of universal resonance? I doubt it, but it might be tricky...

So there it is, folks. Feel free to comment back with your own Wishlist/Blacklist of YA trends.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Muffins--Better Than Reviews?

Yesterday I had a lovely, lovely meeting with the sales and marketing team at Harper. I brought yummy Morning Glory Muffins and people ate them and we drank coffee and spoke about Before I Fall. It was all very exciting and (because of the muffins and bagels) delicious.

I received some other good news, which is that my first review in an "official" review publication will be appearing in next week's issue of Booklist. I am posting it below for your reading pleasure:

Before I Fall.

Oliver, Lauren (Author)

Mar 2010. 480 p. HarperTeen, hardcover, $17.99. (9780061726804). If you could relive your last day, what would you do differently? This is what Samantha asks herself when, after a fatal accident driving from a party on Friday, she wakes in her bed to find she must repeat the entire day again. And again. As Samantha lives through multiple Fridays, desperate to prevent her death, she is struck by how even the most insignificant acts, like running late for school instead of being on time, can change everything. Suddenly she is noticing uncomfortable things—about her friends, about herself—she has never noticed before. It’s the ultimate learning experience, and it takes Samantha seven times—not to save her own life but to leave with one she can be proud of. Oliver, in a pitch-perfect teen voice, explores the power we have to affect the people around us in this intensely believable first novel. Samantha grows from an entitled, popular, yet insecure girl to one with the compassion and guts to make the right decisions. This is a compelling book with a powerful message and should not be missed.

I liked the review, though probably not as much as I liked eating piping hot muffins straight from the oven. Just sayin'. Simple pleasures, folks, simple pleasures.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bon Voyage, Before I Fall!

Tomorrow my book sets out on a transatlantic adventure. One ARC will go trekking across the United States to meet up with fabulous bloggers in various far-flung states like Washington, Florida, and Texas, while another ARC will pack itself up and ship itself off to Europe, where it will bash around Manchester and take a siesta in Spain. Here is a picture of my book, wearing a hat and holding its passport and a ticket in preparation for its departure (and yes, I know I'm weird):

When my book comes back it will be all grown up! Sniff. I'll be updating about its location, so check back for details of its itinerary.

And thanks to all of the bloggers who are participating! You will soon get individual shout-outs. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wanna Read My Book?

Come on, you know you do. :)

So...there's a dearth of available galleys (I only have one copy in my possession!) and a few wonderfully enthusiastic bloggers/reviewers have been asking to read my book, so I decided to send my galley off on a little cross-country adventure. On its journey, it will make pit-stops at the homes of interested readers, before jaunting off to the next location. Think of it like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Copy of Before I Fall.

Comment back with your email if you're interested in placing your house/office/school as one of the Destination Stops on my book's road trip. The only catch is you will have to send the book on to the next reader after reading, which means 1. You have to pay for postage :( and 2. You can't, like, horde the book under your bed for five weeks.

On the plus side, you'll get an early, early look since the book isn't out until March 2010! And being a trendsetter is always good. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion? You Betcha.

So, Lenore of presentinglenore.blogspot.com-- a powerhouse blogger if there ever was one-- read my book last week, and it's not an exaggeration to say I was on pins and needles the whole time. (Suffice it to say, my twitter kept tapping out because I was refreshing it so often to see whether she would drop any hints about her reaction.) I knew she'd been anticipating the read, and having obsessively stalked her blog for the last few months, I knew that I really valued her opinion and would be forced (good or bad!) to respect what she had to say about Before I Fall. Fortunately, she had very good things to say. :) Check out her pre-review review, here:

There's no other way to say this: I'm over the frigging moon. And very, very relieved.

Off to eat a scone to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Extremely Quick Thoughts, UK Edition

"Hot buttered homemade teacake."

Most beautiful words in the English language?

I think so.

Shakespeare, you got nuthin' on the Muffin Man. Zip zero.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

London, London Bridge

Today I am leaving to take my brilliant sister (Dr. Lizzie) to Oxford, where she will be living for two years doing a post-doc (that's a fancy word for what people do after they get their Ph.D.--because obviously, six years of graduate work is not enough!).

After making sure she is safely ensconced on the Oxford campus (where I am convinced, after reading His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman, and all of the Harry Potter books, that everyone will be wearing pointed wizard caps and secret doors will give entrance to alternative worlds) I'll be chilling in London for a bit, doing various fun things that may or may not include:
1. Taking the tube.
2. Using the word "chuffed," whenever possible.
3. Ordering chips, receiving fries, and laughing like a maniac.
4. Scoping cute british boys.
5. Meeting my UK editor!!

(This list is ordered inversely, from least to most important.)

I am SO. FRIGGING. EXCITED. Next time I post it will be Lauren Oliver: UK edition.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I <3 Harper

Title of the post says it all...During my meeting at Harper on Tuesday I met a lot of the people who have been, and will continue to be, working on BEFORE I FALL, from the cover designer to the marketing director. (I started to try to list the people I met by name but then realized that my post would be, like, enormously long, because everyone was so fabulous I couldn't bear to leave anyone out!)

The warmth, enthusiasm, and support I felt during that meeting was just overwhelming...I really think some of them are more excited about Before I Fall than I am! :P I was incredibly nervous before the meeting but everyone made me feel just so comfortable and welcome. I know this post is essentially just a big mushy gush but I'm really still so keyed up I can't truly articulate how glad and proud I am to have my book shepherded into the world by such a dynamic and smart and lovely group of people.

The only downside of the whole day was that after the meeting was over, I was still so overwhelmed/excited/happy I ended up eating, like, five big Godiva truffles in a row and then feeling sick. :/ Take note, people: large quantities of sushi + large quantities of chocolate, consumed in extremely rapid succession and then mixed with a high dose of very nervous energy, do NOT go well together.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wayward Girls WOOT WOOT

This post is dedicated to my very brilliant--and absolutely hilarious friend--Leila Sales. Leila wrote a brilliant and hilarious book (obviously) called WAYWARD GIRLS, and on Friday she got her VERY FIRST BOOK DEAL! That's right, she is going to have a book in the stores, people.

This makes me happy for so many reasons. I'm going to list some of them now.

1. I was lucky enough to read WAYWARD GIRLS in an early pass, and it really was special. Leila's voice is sharp and funny and her characters are sharp and funny and, most importantly, real. She doesn't just write about a bunch of girls blow-drying their hair and talking about boys with yummy butts. The girls in her books are quirky and smart and ambitious and insecure and just feel like real people you would know and be friends with.
2. Leila and I share an EXTREMELY talented agent (and friend!), Stephen Barbara, and so a triumph for her is, by extension, a triumph for him. And a triumph for me, too, because it just reaffirms how talented my friends are!
3. Leila is really nice and really cool and she likes to do things like have long lazy picnics that culminate in spontaneous dance parties, so if anyone deserves a book deal, it's her.
4. Okay, here's where it gets crazy: Leila, Stephen B, and I all attended the University of Chicago and graduated within a few years of each other. Stephen B just recently made another deal for a fellow U of C grad, so basically I feel like the U of C is slowly putting the smack down on the YA book industry (in a good way). College pride!

Anyway, just wanted to give the lady--and WAYWARD GIRLS--a shout-out. Keep your eye on this Miss Leila Sales...she is one to watch. And congrats, Leila!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You Gotta Have Faith, Faith, Faith

…This post was inspired by Molly O’Neill of Harper, as was my last one. Molly and I were talking about how important faith—and not just religious faith—is to a meaningful life. I did not grow up in any traditional religious background, and she asked me what I had faith in. I told her that I had faith in books (of course), and art, and ideas; but as anyone who has read Before I Fall should know, I also have tremendous faith in connection and, perhaps most importantly, in friends.

So I just wanted to do a little shout-out to some of the ladies (and gents) who have kept me sane all these years (relatively speaking, that is), and who have also made life joyful and worthwhile. Thanks for the giggles, the cries, the conversations, and the spontaneous dance parties.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monsters and Mayhem and Middle Grade, Oh My

Monday I had drinks with the wonderful Harper editor Molly O’Neill. Molly has been a fan of and an advocate for my book from the very beginning (when my book is finally released, you can check out her shout-out in my acknowledgments) but this was the first time we’d ever spent time together one-on-one.

And lordy, was it fun.

Molly is completely, completely passionate about children’s books, and she’s also smart and deeply engaged with the world around her and absolutely fascinating to talk to. I feel like I’ll probably be blogging about our girl-date for days to come, because our conversation was so interesting and rich and took so many twists and turns and zig-zags—and I feel like we only scratched the surface of all the things we have to discuss!

Okay, I’ll stop geeking out about Molly now and get onto one of the major things we discussed. Basically, as I wait for edits on my second book (eek!) I am trying to distract myself by working on a book for younger readers. I suppose it falls under the rubric of middle grade, although it might skew even younger. (But it is definitely a chapter book, with a fairly sophisticated vocabulary.) I’m sure that this question is irrelevant because the book is probably terrible and will no doubt never see the light of day, but I’ve been curious about how dark/disturbing books for younger readers can go? It’s probably a difficult question to answer in the abstract, but I’m just wondering what people think…

Coraline’s pretty dark, for example, but I’m not sure what age group Neil Gaiman is targeting? And I always felt Roald Dahl’s books were pretty dark, and I absolutely adored them when I was younger (I still read Matilda every time I’m sick).

One thing I love that Molly said—and an illustration of why she’s such a great editor!—was that children’s books need to leave their readers feeling more in control of their worlds than they were before reading. They need to give their readers some kind of key, or door—a way of understanding the world and feeling comfortable in it. I love this idea, and totally agree (actually, I think this is true of every great book…).

Opinions? Thoughts? Comments? Expressions of concern?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bloggers ROCK.


I am overjoyed and over-the-moon and generally feeling xD about the fact that the lovely Sharon from this wonderful blog is hosting a contest in which she is giving away her galley copy of Before I Fall! And I didn't even have to bribe her!

Don't believe me? Check out the contest here.

This is really so wonderful and generous of her, I can't gush about it sufficiently.

Another blogger who really made my day is Suzana, who is based in Slovenia (!!) and who recently read my book and reviewed it on her fabulous blog. Please read the review here. I read it with a mixture of gratitude, joy, relief, and incredulity. Seriously, I am just so thrilled that she found lots of layers and meaning in the book--I can only wish/hope/pray desperately that other readers will have a similar experience.

Seriously, what on earth did I do in a past life to deserve this? Whatever it was, I was obviously racking up karmic brownie points faster than a teen starlet can rack up DUIs (sorry, couldn't resist), because all of this very early support is just incredible and has already exceeded/surpassed my hopes!


Hope everyone is gearing up for a great Labor Day weekend...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

End of the Summer Round-Up

It's the first day of September, and so for no particular reason I thought I'd do a round-up of all the things I learned this summer. Here are all the kernels of wisdom I harvested during the past three months:

1. "Kernels" + "Harvest" in a single sentence = abusively cutesy seasonal metaphor that should never be used again. (Okay, to be fair I just learned that five seconds ago.)

2. Jumping into cold water at the end of a long, hot run is the best feeling in the world...

3. ...Except for eating hot berry bread pudding with cold melty ice cream, which actually might be the best feeling in the world.

4. Despite what people are always saying about teens (they're self-involved! They can't write except in text-speak! They're all having crazy house parties featuring drugs synthesized from cold medicine and horrible, immoral acts!), the teens I've begun to have the pleasure to speak to are articulate, creative, kind, and deeply engaged with the world around them...and none of them appear to be on drugs! In your face, stereotyping. :)

5. You should never consent to be smaller just so that someone else can feel bigger; shorter so that they can feel taller; cheaper so that they can feel more generous, etc etc.

6. I love to write. No, really. I love to write. I love to create things in general, but I really love to write.

7. I also really love to read.

8. March 2010 (when my book pubs) is still really, really far away.

9. Portland, Maine is beautiful; as a corollary to that, no matter what is happening in life, it is impossible to feel depressed when you have a best friend to giggle with.

10. Cool Whip is really good, but not when you eat a whole tub of it in one evening. Then it's gross.

Some of these lessons may be frivolous, some of them may be petty, some may be profound...but that's the way it goes, folks. And trust me, it's just as important to know not to eat a tub of cool whip as it is to understand the value of a good friend--ignoring either piece of wisdom will leave you with a really gross feeling at the bottom of your stomach. (Another thing I learned at some point, but probably not this past summer--what may initially seem silly might actually be quite critical, and vice versa.)

Happy autumn...Here's to another season of Life Lessons, big and small. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Book Has An Accent!

Received a beautiful copy of the UK ARC yesterday, and here is a picture of me holding it:

It's so interesting what different publishers will choose to highlight and emphasize about the book and on the galleys. You can't really see it, but the cover is basically this beautiful silver with gorgeous silhouettes of trees and birds patterned on the back. Overlaying it all is a quote from the novel:

I know some of you are thinking maybe I deserved it. But before you start pointing fingers, let me ask you: Is what I did really so bad? So bad I deserved to die? So bad I deserved to die like that?
Is what I did really so much worse than what anybody else does?
Is it really so much worse than what you do?
Think about it.

Anyway, I'm super super excited. In this picture the galley is also serving a secondary useful function, as I am holding it up and using it to conceal a mosquito bite ON MY FACE, procured yesterday, like, ten minutes before I was supposed to go on a date. Yes, peeps. This kind of stuff only happens to me.

This post is dedicated to my friend Lisa, who a) didn't know I had a blog until this weekend and b) had to listen to me complain about the aforementioned disfiguring bug bite yesterday and miraculously was able to keep her laughter in check.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Do you KNOW that you can read the prologue to BEFORE I FALL on my website?

Well, you can! You can read it here:

If you do read it, though, make sure you keep pressing "next" at the bottom of the screen until it's done! Because it would be really sad if you only read the first page and then thought, "How strange. This seems unfinished..." And didn't realize that yes, it *was* unfinished because you'd missed the "next" button!

Also...don't feel obligated to read. But if you're sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs, or waiting for reruns of The Real Housewives of New Jersey to come on, and thinking--I wish I had the 3-4 page prologue of an upcoming YA novel to read right now...

Then honey, I got you covered.

Okay...That's my Public Service Announcement for the day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Meditations (and High-Dives) from Vermont

So...my mom rents a house in Vermont every summer. Nearby, there is a particular spot in the woods where a little makeshift beach has sprung up at the edge of an absolutely frigid river. Seriously. Like, freezing.

But if you manage to coax your protesting muscles and quivering, goose-pimpled skin into the aforementioned river, and swim across to the opposite side, where a craggy series of rock extends upwards all along the bank, you can--by scampering, swinging, heaving, and cursing--climb up to a small lip of rock that extends invitingly--or, okay, terrifyingly--over the water. Someone has attached a rope swing to a tree branch up there, and all summer long kids (and adults!) swing out of the woods and into the river. You can, alternatively, just take a running leap from the rock lip into the water (fifteen-? twenty-? feet) below.

A few years ago I'd made a New Year's resolution to Be Less Lame. This rather generalized and poorly articulated goal meant, to me, that I would do things that frightened me; that I would take advantage of any and all opportunities presented to me; that I would travel more and stress less and eat full-fat ice cream and cheeseburgers when I felt like it and get really sweaty when I danced in nightclubs and always listen when someone was speaking to me--like, actually listen, not just sit there thinking about what I was going to say next. In short, it meant that I would try as much as possible to recognize that life is full of myriad things--some of them strange, some of them scary, some of them painful, all of them miraculous--and that they should all be experienced, devoured, luxuriated in.

So yeah. Be Less Lame. That's my motto.

Point is, I was REALLY scared to jump the first year. Trust me, it's freaky once you get up there. But I did, and now I make it a kind of annual pilgrimage, an opportunity to take stock and reaffirm my promise to myself. It's my mid-year, late-summer resolution, a chance to say: "Hey, Life. You're vast and weird and you've got a lot of strange, twisty tricks up your sleeves...But I've got grit, so you can go ahead and bring it on."

This is me jumping this year:
So...yeah. It's a little early, but...Holla back at me, 2010. Let's make it a good year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

OMG It's Aliiiiiiiiive

(Cue Diabolical laughter, a la Dr. Frankenstein).

And yes, those are extremely embarrassing pictures of me as a high school student in the "About the Author/Inspiration" section. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dunkin Donuts Fiend.


I am so excited.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Endings, Musings, First Review

So, for some reason google alerts dug up a very old review of my book--the first, I think, of its kind:

(And by the way...Is everyone impressed I figured out how to post in a link? You should be!).

I think it's extremely interesting/fortuitous/bizarre that this review just popped up on my radar today, because it makes particular reference to the ending of BEFORE I FALL, and endings--of one kind or another--have certainly been today's general theme. I am grateful for the five-star rating, of course, and for Irish's kind words about my characters' voice and the writing style in general. I have to say, though, for the record...as today proved to me yet again, endings are very often not happy...and just because an ending was unanticipated doesn't mean that it also wasn't, in some sense, inevitable.

Those are my Deep Thoughts for the day, anyway...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ode to my agent

I'd just like to take this moment to shout out to my agent extraordinaire, Stephen Barbara. Here is a pic of us doing our best "Blue Steel"-Zoolander-inspired faces at The Standard on Wednesday night, where we were out celebrating the newest deal. Apparently everyone else in the restaurant must also have been celebrating book deals because they were all doing their best impression of ri
diculously self-involved models...

Point is, he rocks.
We actually went to the U of
C together, and he just signed my friend Leila Sales, also a fellow U of C-er and an insanely smart and funny YA writer, so we have a whole coalition of U of C peeps going on.

Stephen B, this post's for you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I See Dead People

Or rather, I hear them. And they're not really dead, they're fictional. But whatever, it feels like a form of Sixth Sense...

Point is: I was minding my own business yesterday on a run (more like a walk, interspersed with brief periods of half-hearted jogging--it was, like, ninety degrees), when I suddenly started to hear these two characters speak to me...and I knew I'd found the basis/heart/core of my third book. It's really hard to describe how or why this happens, exactly, but the recognition of these two girls, and their developing story, literally stopped me in my tracks. As in, I stopped running (or, walking) and just stood there, heart pounding, feeling a flood of gratitude and relief. Gratitude because I know this is a story I can write and want to write; relief because no matter how often I write, there is always the fear after completing one story/manuscript that it is the last I will ever produce.

I'm still in the very, very earliest flickering stages of thinking about this project, so I don't want to disclose too much. But I will say that I believe it will incorporate elements of an adult novel I finished and then abandoned while attending the MFA program at NYU, which I am super excited about; and also, that it will be a split narrative POV involving two sisters; and thirdly, that while my first book is about death, and my second book is about love, this book will be about beauty. As my agent said last night, I like to tackle the small stuff. :)
Lastly, I will share the first line:

I was nine years old when I started the fire that almost killed my sister.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Okay, I did it. I broke down and joined twitter. So far I still don't really "get" it though. I think I have to figure out a way to update from my phone. Otherwise I have to sign on to my computer just to let people know that, I don't know, the person sitting to my left has visible nose hairs or it's still impossible to get into Milk & Honey in NYC! (It is, by the way. Not impossible, but pretty durn close.)

The point is...THIS IS ALL KHY'S FAULT!! (Sorry, Khy...I had to shout you out.) Khy blogs over at freneticreader.blogspot.com and we were put in touch by the lovely Suzanne Young, author of the forthcoming Naughty List. (Incidentally, I woke up this morning and saw that Khy had posted something SO NICE about Before I Fall. Yay!! Thanks, Khy.) Anyway, during our correspondence she mentioned she was obsessed with twitter...so I decided to give it a shot. She has already been incredibly nice and helpful and sweet, and even taught me one of my favorite new emoticons: xD. I'm not sure exactly what this is meant to express but in my mind it is a devilish, gleeful grin.

Point is...you can blame her. And the fact that I love the word "tweet." I mean, for real. Or you can just go follow me at www.twitter.com/OliverBooks.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Best. Week. Ever

So much to celebrate this week...

I've been unable to blog before now because I had to wait for the internet to be installed in my (SPOILER ALERT) brand-new apartment, but now I am happy to post and say: I moved into abrand new apartment! (I warned you about the spoiler, didn't I?) It is absolutely beautiful, albeit devoid of all furniture save a desk and a bed. But really, what else does one really need? Here is a lovely (or, um, terrifying) picture of me enjoying my very first cup of coffee in my brand-new office. Yes, I have a separate office!

Bonus to anybody who can figure out why on earth one part of my hair looks like the cosmetic version of a ski jump...

My week got even more ridiculously good when I found out that my incredible publisher, Harper, offered me another TWO-BOOK DEAL!! I just feel so happy/relieved knowing my writing career is secure (as much as a writing career can ever be secure) a little bit longer. Unfortunately (for everybody else), this means I will not be shutting up anytime soon.
The moving madness has made it impossible for me to celebrate this week but New York City is on high-alert as of tonight: I am putting on heels, a dress, and makeup, and I am prepared to boogie down until the wee hours of the morning.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Lastly, but not leastly, last night I had the chance to go to New Jersey and see Jay Asher speak/read. His book Thirteen Reasons Why has been on the New York Times bestseller list for forty weeks--unbelievable--but even more unbelievable is how sane, humble, helpful, and wonderful he is. He's, like, the anti-diva! We had dinner after the event and apart from scarfing an entire bread basket myself and probably making people suspicious of my table manners (or lack thereof), it was wonderful. I'm just really happy that I got to see Jay's event--he is so lucid and smart and comfortable and great with teens, it was inspiring--and I continue to be honored that he gave my book such a great blurb and has continued to advocate for it.

So, like I said...Best. Week. Ever.

Off to put on those heels...

Monday, July 27, 2009


Brought to you courtesy of Suzanne Young--prolific novelist (can't wait to read the Naughty List!), blogger extraordinaire, and all-around good and helpful and generous person. I'm so excited about seeing her star rise--she deserves it!
I mean, seriously, how pretty is this banner?
Since starting in YA, I've met so many truly kind people--people who, despite having absolutely no reason to be nice to me, have been incredibly generous with their time and energy and intellect. Like, the other day Jay Asher emailed me just to say congratulations about the blurb I'd received from Carolyn Mackler. That bears repeating: Jay Asher emailed ME to congratulate me. I was like, "Um, yeah, congratulations on having a monster best-seller and being on a cross-country book tour yourself." Craziness.
My point is, it's really starting to chip away at the hardened and cynical views of human nature I have maintained (some would say as a defense mechanism) my whole life. Can I survive without them?? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's My Very First Time...

...In Publisher's Weekly!

The lovely Suzanne Young (whose book is also featured in PW's recent Spring 2010 Sneak-Peak line-up) pointed out to me yesterday that BEFORE I FALL also made the list. I'm so technologically inept I'm not even sure how to post a link in this blog, but I'll go ahead and try.


That probably didn't work but hey...I'm a writer, not a programmer. :)

The point IS, being featured along with so many amazing books--including Suzanne's forthcoming THE NAUGHTY LIST, which I'd actually acquired before leaving my job at Penguin, making the whole thing sweeter (or more incestuous, depending on how cynical you are), and Carolyn Mackler's new book, TANGLED (speaking of tangled, ready for more bizarre YA convolution? Carolyn recently gave an incredible blurb to BEFORE I FALL!)--is thrilling, surreal, bizarre...and totally gratifying.

So yes. I am a PW virgin no longer. Hurrah!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Joy of Editing

I only intend the title of this blog post to be half-sarcastic.

I've been in Portland, Maine for two weeks now, ostensibly doing research for my second book, which is set here (amazingly, I managed to write an entire first draft without even a basic geographical understanding of the city--woops!). Unfortunately I got slammed with a different editing project immediately after my arrival, so not only has my own work been delayed, I've been watching a series of glorious summer days drift by from the window of a dark coffee shop, where I am imprisoned from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day.


At least today I have time to do my own writing again. It never ceases to amaze me how anxious and unhappy I get when I don't write; it is the single thing that eclipses the feelings of anxiety and unhappiness I have to confront when I *do* write. What a strange and paradoxical profession.

I am including in this post a weekly roundup of the things I am liking this week, Portland-edition:
1. Coffee and toast at Arabica.
2. Friendly strangers, helpful waitstaff, smiling commuters. WTF?? We ain't in NYC anymore, Toto.
3. Dinner at Fore Street. Unreal.
4. Bunking with best friends.
5. Giggling with best friends over absolutely nothing/everything.
6. Running along the bay in glorious sunshine.
7. Long phone conversations with Philadelphia boys.
8. Kambucha cold tea.
9. Seagulls, and the way they drift overhead, seeming to float on currents of air, like a snow. Also, the sound of them: waking up to seagulls calling to each other might just be my favorite way to wake up.
10. The smell of the ocean, of course.

Things I am not liking, Portland-edition:
1. Waking up at 6:30 a.m. to input copyedits into a 210-page book.
2. Never being able to leave the house without running into several people you've recently been introduced to.
3. Having to return to NYC.

Content by Lauren Oliver - Copyright 2011. Blog designed by Ella Press Studio - 2011.

Author Photo by Jonathan Alpeyrie - Copyright 2010. Original Font Idea by Erin Fitzsimmons - 2010.