Home My Books About Me Contests

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten Things I Loved in June

10. The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly. Not necessarily a beach read, but an incredible book.

9. Spring break with old best friends, even if we're a little too old to be spring breaking.

8. First peach of the season: purchased at the farmers' market, eaten over the sink. So. Frigging. Good.

7. The Borderline/Open Your Heart mash-up, from Glee.

6. The smell of charcoal grills! This has to be one of the happiest smells on the planet.

5. Rose wine, enjoyed outside on terraces.

4. The return of strappy sandals and sundresses. Girls' night!

3. Amazing kisses...in the back seat of taxicabs, on streetcorners, in nightclubs. Summer love, baby!

2. Boys who know when to use four ellipses...and when to use three. I am swooning....

1. Picnics in the park...even the ones that get rained on. Especially those, actually.

And lastly...that we still have two months left of summer! Holla holla.

How about YOU? What were your greatest hits for June?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Drumroll, please...Meet the Fabulous Elizabeth Miles, Up-and-Coming Novelist and my BFF!

Hey all...So. This is a super, super special post for me. One of my very best friends in the world (see photo evidence below--two pics from very different visits--seasonally speaking--to Elizabeth Miles in Portland, Maine, where DELIRIUM, my second book, is set; one pic from our recent vacay to Mexico...looks like she has GREAT taste in beach reads, huh??) just got her first big book deal! I could gush all about it, but rather than do that, I thought I'd let her do the talking!

1. You're working on your first novel. What can you tell us about it?
I'm thrilled to be writing FURY, which is the first book of a paranormal horror trilogy that takes place in New England. It's sexy and scary! The first book will be published in Fall 2011 by Simon Pulse.

2. How does it feel to be writing your first book? What is the most challenging part so far? What about the most gratifying?
It feels amazing, truly. The biggest hurdle so far as been carving out time to write regularly. It comes so much easier when I do. The most gratifying part is when the words just come spilling out, and I know in my fingertips and my brain that they're good. I've also really enjoyed observing and participating in the editing process. This is a new experience for me and I am learning so much.

3. You're a journalist. How does writing fiction differ from journalism, in your view?
Gosh, they are such different animals, fiction and journalism. For one thing, when I'm working on FURY I don't have to constantly worry about "getting something wrong" -- stuff that I make up can never be factually inaccurate! I also have to learn to linger. When I write news stories and analysis, the goal is to be as straightforward and concise as possible. Certainly I don't strive for abstruseness when writing fiction, but there is room to wander, to provide backstory, to describe details that might not immediately push forward the plot, but that help create mood and atmosphere. It's more lyrical.

4. So--you live in Portland, Maine, huh? Tell me three of your favorite things about Portland (and "when Lauren comes to visit" does not have to be one of them, as it goes without saying!).
a) Being so close to the water, and the woods.
b) Portland is a small city full of creative, exciting people who also know how to relax, enjoy good food, and create the lives they want to live. Everyone knows everyone, after a while. I feel like I'm part of a community.
c) When I moved here, I caught an acting bug that had been dormant since high school. On a whim, I tried out for a community theater production of "Oklahoma!" and got cast as Ado Annie -- one of my all-time favorite female roles ("I'm just a girl who cain't say no / kissing's my favorite food" -- ahem...). I've been performing pretty much non-stop ever since, and the opportunities just keep getting better and better. I love the people I've met through theater, and I love the chance I get to inhabit different characters and behave in ways I'd never be able to off-stage.

5. What about your three least favorite things about living in Maine?
a) Being six hours away from my best friends and my family (not just trying to earn points here).
b) See "everyone knows everyone," in "b," above.
c) The cold can get rather oppressive, after about five months. But it just makes summer that much more delicious...

6. You have two cats. Describe, discuss.
Wow, I can't believe you're giving me a separate platform to discuss the cats. Their names are Ender and Bean (named after two characters in a great sci-fi book called Ender's Game). I got them as kittens when I moved to Maine. They are brothers, with orange fur and terrifically sweet dispositions. When I moved to Maine I was going through a bit of a rough patch, emotionally, and they really helped brighten my spirits. Bean is slightly aloof and has outstanding jumping abilities. Ender, who prefers being held, often sits with his legs splayed -- very crass. I love them so much. Thank you for asking.

7. What are three things readers would be surprised to know about you?
a) I'm actually a big scardey cat. I can't watch scary movies without covering my eyes and I am a little afraid of the dark. In this way, it's rather strange that I'm writing a book that's meant to send shivers up people's spines.
b) I'm an only child.
c) I love frogs and toads.

8. What are some of your favorite books? Music?
Before I Fall, obviously. Also: The End of the Affair (Graham Greene), anything by David Foster Wallace, Middlemarch (George Eliot), Anna Karenina (Tolstoy), the Anne of Green Gables series, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Avi), anything by Anne Carson, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizbeth George Speare), My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway), The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley), Very Far Away from Anywhere Else (Ursula K. LeGuin)...I could go on, but I won't. I really love books, you know?
As for music: I love showtunes, of course, plus classic rock like Dylan and Van Morrison, pop heroines like Britney and Beyonce, and indie-rock girl stuff like Rilo Kiley, Joanna Newsom, and Neko Case. I've been listening to The National a lot recently.

9. If you could eat one thing RIGHT NOW, what would it be?
My grandmother used to make this steak-and-potatoes dish that had a virtually unpronounceable German name (phonetically, it's something like "Gedinska steak and kertuffletushspice"). The steak was simmered in a tomato-based sauce, and the potatoes were cubed and cooked with sour cream and paprika. She made a lot of delicious things, but that was my favorite, and I'd kill for some right now, and always.

10. Will you corroborate the fact that you and I used to be part of a cheese club in high school? What about the same a cappella group? Do you remember any of your solos?
Will I corroborate it??? It has a permanent spot on my resume. And of course our shared experience in the Quaker Notes was formative. My solos, duh: Silver Thunderbird, Right Here Waiting (sniff sniff), O L'amour? (or was that you? omg go listen to that right now, btw -- it's like a nostalgia tsunami), Soul to Soul, Because the Night. I also remember that you sang Better Man, among others, and that a few of those a cappella parties reached levels of crazy I haven't seen since.

That's it!
Okay! Thank you for having me! It's so great being best friends with you!

Elizabeth Miles

Go follow Elizabeth at her brand new blog!! (With correct link this time!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Writing Workshop, Part I

This blog series is inspired by a message I recently received from a reader/fan/writer, Chris Alexander. He wrote:

Do you think you could make a blog post about how you as a writer every day are focused and motivated to writing a whole novel... Many aspiring writers may want some more advice besides just hearing " just write". I'd really like to hear your personal point of view on how u yourself just are focused and just sit down and write.

I'm all up and down the blogosphere telling aspiring authors to "write! write every day!" But Chris is right. That advice is almost too general to be helpful, and writing consistently is hard--I often believe that disciplining yourself to write every day is, in fact, the hardest part of writing! Besides, I got my Master's in Fine Arts for fiction--and despite the fact that I do not at all think that getting an MFA is necessary to the creative process, obviously I believed that in school there were lessons I could learn, and techniques I could absorb, beyond "just write"!

So I've decided to do a few posts over the next couple of weeks in which I try to give advice that is slightly more concrete...and potentially more helpful to people struggling through their first (or second, or third) novel. Chris, this one's for you.

First and foremost, I want to get something out of the way. Nobody writes novels. People write pages, word counts, chapters. If you sit down and think about writing a whole novel, it's incredibly daunting; however, if you just try to write a page a day, it becomes manageable. It's like running a marathon. You don't think about the whole distance; you just worry about putting one foot in front of the other.

I try to write 1,000 words each day, every day, with very limited exceptions. For younger or beginning writers, I think 500 words is a more reasonable number: you want it to be challenging and do-able.

Then there's the age-old question: But what do I write about? One thing we discussed a lot at my MFA program was the idea of an "inciting incident"; a change, conflict, tension, or circumstance that causes the rest of the story to unfold. This might be as small as an argument, or as dramatic as an alien invasion. But you as a writer--and we as a reader--need to know why the story is beginning now, at this point, on this specific day in the life of such-and-such character.

Brainstorming conflicts and inciting incidents is fun. Look! I'll do it now:

1. A door appears out of nowhere, and the main character chooses to go through it
2. Someone pulls a gun on someone else
3. A girl kisses her best friend's boyfriend
4. A girl kisses her best friend
5. A new boy moves to town

I could go on and on!

Keep a notebook (or an iPhone) on you. When you read or hear or see something interesting, write it down. Then you'll have a running list of story starts/ideas to work from later.

Next workshop: staying motivated, fleshing out story. Or something in that vein. As you can probably tell if you've been following this blog for any length of time, I don't actually really plan my blog posts. :)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


How cool is THIS?

Recently a friend snapped this pic for me:

Sure, it's a little blurry, but since I'm used to stalking my own book I can EASILY recognize that the pic features a woman reading BEFORE I FALL on the subway platform!!! (At Union Square, you will notice--perhaps she bought it at The Strand?)

I think this is so cool. I have never seen my book out and about before...but it looks like it is having a grand ol' time, doesn't it?

It's the small things that really help me get through Wednesdays...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ah, the Beauties of Emergent Technology

Recently I signed up for google voice. Essentially, when someone calls and leaves me a voice mail, google transcribes it for me and send to me via email and text. At least, that is how the process is supposed to work.

The reality is slightly more problematic, as the transcriptions are so wildly inaccurate that they diverge into dada-esque absurdism. Fortunately, this means that although I will never actually know what someone has called to say, I am treated to a daily dose of nonsense...which never ceases to be endlessly amusing! For your reading pleasure, please find below some recent "transcriptions".

From my friend Claire:
Hey claire and i can get anyway, and I'm just heading over to Paul not be in. I'll be done it 8. So here. Give me a call. I'll try again later tonight we can figure out tomatoes. I'll and palo you'd very excited and I'll talk to you later. Love you bye.

I literally have no idea who this is from:
Hi, It's your site of questions. 9.

From my dad:
Hey Sweetie it's me a call back. So line here in our Love you kid beach for department in Provincetown, with through the listing out on my chest actually give it a try. Pierre, because I can't move dog is asleep another one just Herbert. Anyway home. So yeah, you can get a very. I am life, you are doing some work done taken beach logs, but they were Trudy and I'll see you next week. You know if you.

From my friend Bram, calling to complain about his first transcription:
Yeah, I'd like to call and complain about my transcription. I had a message, It's very important that you we're, and I don't know. Not sure if you guys think that they are. But anyway, we're going to a live bird winner, lunch, dinner or something like that. And if I could you can, weekly, but so I don't know expensive Mr with one or we're gonna get this straightened out and I guess a Friday Network Money.

From a restaurant:
Good afternoon, This is Deborah calling from look on the bed. Hey, I was calling to confirm your reservation with us to worry evening, Thursday cheese 17th at 10:15 for party to you could please give us a call back to reconfirm our telephone number is (212) 925-3797. Thank you.

Thursday cheese?? OMG, it's so good. It's like the longest-running game of ad-libs ever, with google as participant.

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Dude, I'm so obsessed with this today. Check out the beautiful art at GoodGoneGirl.blogspot, inspired by Before I Fall. Below is just a little sample.

Thanks, Anna! I <3 creativity.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Writing: The Cross-Training Approach

Recently, I've been working on multiple projects simultaneously (one YA; one middle grade). The experience is challenging in many regards--since I work on both every day, it requires double the discipline (and straight-up mental wrangling) to get my a$$ parked in front of the computer in the mornings. Additionally, it is difficult to transition between voices, characters, and contexts.

So why, oh why do I do it? you might ask. Lauren, are you really that straight-up desperate for cash? Do you have so many voices in your head that require expression?

The answer to the last question is, of course, yes. (Well, probably the answer to both questions is yes. In the immortal words of All-Time Low: "...because the cash flow leaves me always wanting more!") But I like writing two books at once because each book provides a break, a respite, from the other.

Let me explain. When I run, I often stop and do strength-training exercises at various timed intervals--and as a result, it feels like I'm taking a break. I'll get really tired of running, and I'll think, "Oh, thank god, I get to stop and do squats now." And then, by the time I'm finished with squats/lunges/etc, and my muscles are burning, running will feel like a break. I'll think, "Oh, thank god, I get to go back to running now."

Nifty, huh?

So when I get stuck on my YA, I'll think--"Just a few more words, then I'll get to jump to the middle-grade!" And vice versa when I hit a roadblock in the middle-grade book.

Part of it, too, is that I've always been a very handy multi-tasker. I mean, I can talk, text, apply mascara, brew coffee, and cook an egg at the same time, people.

What kind of tasks do YOU like to multi-task? And what are your writing-block-busters?

Hey? Want a Sneak Peek at Delirium?

...Then check it out, here: HARPER'S DELIRIUM PAGE! Make sure to click through to the excerpt to read the from the first chapter!

And then tell me WHAT YOU THINK (but be nice). :P

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Laurens Walk Into A Bar...

Hey all!

Dying for something fabulous to read this summer? (And DON'T SAY DELIRIUM, because you know it's not out yet and I only have one galley!!). Well, I have got a little bundle of fabulousness for you, then: an awesome new YA novel that is (in addition to its awesomeness) FREE! (So you can save all that babysitting money for ice cream cones and bikinis...)

I'm pretty psyched about "My Darklyng" (thats the name of the book) for a couple of reasons:
1. It's a thriller, and I love thrillers.
2. The book will be published on the internet, and have tons of multiplatform coolness (funny Twitter feeds and photos and videos featuring the characters), which I think is really exciting. And before I get crucified: I LIKE PAPER BOOKS TOO, PEOPLE, BUT THERE IS ROOM FOR BOTH!
3. It comes straight from the wild minds of Lauren Mechling (the Dream Girl series) and Laura Moser (the 10th Grade Social Clmber series, as well as various celebrity books she’s not allowed to say she ghostwrote, but she did!). AND LAUREN IS A FRIEND OF MINE! AND LAURA'S NAME IS CLOSE TO LAUREN! So I'm excited about that.
4. It's also just a good story, which is ultimately what it's all about. My Darklyng is about a regular 16 year old girl named Natalie Pollock who ends up becoming friends with the cover model on all the books in her favorite vampire series. The story is about the behind-the-scenes world of vampire novels as well as what it’s like when a seemingly perfect friendship gets a little too intense. We’ve all been there.

Here's the deal: The editors at Slate, which usually runs essays about politics and culture, are so convinced this is the newest hot book, they’re publishing three chapters every Friday for the rest of the summer. The first chapter ran last Friday but if you go today, it will be way easy to catch up to speed. I highly recommend camping out here every Friday this summer: www.slate.com/mydarklyng. That's where I'll be!

My special guest Lauren Mechling can explain a little more. We recently met at a romantic rooftop bar overlooking the East River a(okay, actually, we did these questions over the internet, but can't fiction writers fantasize?) to do a little interview—here are some of the highlights:

Lauren O: Hi Lauren. Man, you look fabulous!

Lauren M: Stop. YOU’RE the one in a white bandage dress and 56 inch tall platforms.

Lauren O: I always get dressed up for you. What's with the hickey, Lauren?

Lauren M: It’s fake, like a Lee Press-On Nail, or a sticker. [pulls it off neck]. See? Its in honor of My Darklyng’s vampire theme.

Lauren O: Classy. [rolls eyes] So why did you decide to publish a book on the Internet?

Lauren M: Because I live on the internet, and all I do is read words on my many screens all day. Some people say the Internet kills your soul and your attention span and ability to read, but my co-author Laura and I didn’t think that has to be the case. Why not bring a smart book TO the internet?

Lauren O: Right on. And there’s also a big Facebook component to this story, right?

Lauren M: Natalie Pollock has her own Facebook page. If you "like" it you can watch creepy clues that get posted to her wall by some mysterious stalker-type person, as well as check out the photos and videos she makes of her day-to-day life. It’s a way to provide texture to a fictional charater.

Lauren O: So friggin cool. Who plays Natalie and James, the model character?

Lauren M: Two amazing real life teenagers who both happen to be super creative as well as to be a lot like the characters they represent. I strongly urge your readers to “like” Natalie’s page to see all the crazy stuff they’ve shot.

Lauren O: I concur. Today's video of Natalie and the vampire model having coffee at Bar 6 was terrific. Readers, LIKE the My Darklyng page on Facebook: facebook.com/mydarklyng.

Lauren M: Thanks! If your readers leave comments on your page saying they pressed “like,” I will choose one at random to send an amazing care package to.

Lauren O: Whoo-hoo! I already registered my like for the page. Am I eligible?

Lauren M: Only if I can borrow that dress sometime.

Lauren O: As long as I get to wear that hickey thing.

Isn't she fabulous? So, Lauren will be sending a care package filled with goodness to one of the readers who "likes" the facebook page at www.facebook.com/mydarklyng, so jump on it!

And definitely check out the story on Slate...you know you don't want to do anything productive on Fridays anyway! It goes against the Rules of Summer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My name is Lauren, and I'm a Coffee Addict...

Writing is tricky business. Words are sneaky: they skate, and slide, and slip away just when you need them. Characters turn unruly. Plot lines bend and waver like light through water. Writing is like mental rodeo: exhausting, frightening, and extremely taxing on the lower back.

I think that's why a lot of writers develop certain inflexible habits when it comes to their routines. It's almost shamanistic. We tend to believe a certain desk, a certain pen, or a certain word processor will confer upon us the luck we'll need in order to stay the ride for another day. It's kind of like a major league baseball player who always wears the same pair of socks during a winning spree, except much less smelly. Hopefully.

I've always thought myself relatively free of those kind of superstitions. I can write anywhere, on anything, with anything. I can write during a meeting (and make it look like I'm taking notes--snap!). I can type onn my blackberry in the subway (I wrote much of Before I Fall this way). I'm like a one-woman Dr. Seuss poem: I can write in a train, I can write on a plane...I can write in a car! On a bus! In a bar!

However, recently I've discovered there is one thing I absolutely, positively need in order to write.


And I'm not just sayin' I need my morning cup of Joe to wake me up. Coffee is my crutch. Pausing to sip, or refill, or brew more provides me a welcome distraction when I'm stuck; it is also my reward for working.

Unfortunately, I write a lot. Which means I drink about ten cups of coffee a day. I could basically run an entire Starbucks franchise out of my stomach.

So recently, on vacation in Mexico, I went down to one--ONE!--cup a day.

I am happy to report that I still got a lot of writing done. I am unhappy to report that I essentially did nothing else, since I was asleep all the time.

Now that I'm back in NYC, I'm going to try my hardest not to hit the coffee pot as hard as I have been. I'm staying on the wagon, people...at least until I tumble off, snoring.

What are YOUR worst habits/biggest crutches? You know you can tell me!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Big Beach Reads Bash

There's nothing better than curling up under a blanket, in front of a fire, with a good book...unless it's stretching out on a picnic blanket or a beach towel, in a bikini, with a good book! Certain books, it seems, were made to be read in summertime...just like watermelon was made to be eaten outside, on a lawn, and burgers taste better at a friend's fourth of July bbq than they do at any four-star restaurant.

So here's my question to you: what are your favorite summer reads of all time? And what books are you looking forward to reading THIS summer? And what is so special about summer reading?

Everyone who comments will be automatically entered to receive a lucky prize pack of fabulous beach reads--all selected from among the answers YOU provide! That's called symbiosis, my friends.

So come on and share!

(Contest runs through June 30th).

Break out the Popcorn!

It's official--DELIRIUM has been optioned for film! Check it out:

Film rights to New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver’s forthcoming YA novel, Delirium, optioned to producers
Paula Mazur and Mitch Kaplan (Nim’s Island, Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Society), by Stephen Moore at Paul Kohner
Agency on behalf of Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media.

Promise to read the book first, k guys? Pinky swear??

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.