Home My Books About Me Contests

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear Email Scam: Please Proofread Your Work Before Submitting

It's one thing to be spammed by people soliciting your bank account information. It's quite another to be spammed ungrammatically by people soliciting your bank account information. It does not--how shall I put this?--inspire confidence.

Thus, the following post.

Dear Email Scam:

I would really prefer that you proofread your work before submitting to my attention. For example, let us take the following message.

It is obvious that you have not received your fund which is to the tune of 5.8million dollars due to past corrupt Governmental Officials who almost held the fund to themselves for their selfish reason and some individuals who have taken advantage of your fund all in an attempt to swindle your fund which has led to so many losses from your end and unnecessary delay in the receipt of your fund.

Oh, la, la. Where do I begin?? First of all, it is customary to include a standard greeting or salutation at the beginning of the message. Something as simple as: "To Whom It May Concern," will do, although if you would like to form any kind of interpersonal relationship with me before requesting that I give you my social security number, you might bother to look up and include my name--spelled correctly, of course!

Second of all, your description of both the sum I am allegedly due and the corruption of the officials who have delayed its receipt is, I'm sorry to say, a hopeless run-on. How can I possibly take an interest in the procedures I will need to take in order to recoup my money--which, as you specify further in the email, involve providing you my current bank account info--if I am still floundering through a forest of interlinked independent clauses?

Let's take the next section:

The National Central Bureau of Interpol enhanced by the United Nations and Federal Bureau of Investigation have successfully passed a mandate...

Hmmm. I'm not sure "enhanced by" is the right word choice. Do you mean "supervised by," perhaps? Or maybe "with the cooperation of"? And careful--you're missing some commas!

...to boost the exercise of clearing all foreign debts owed to you and other individuals and organizations who have been found not to have receive their Contract Sum, Lottery/Gambling, Inheritance and the likes.

Again, I'm uncertain of your word choices. I'm not sure that either boost or exercise convincingly emulates the language of a valid financial communication, and I'm disinclined to permit my checking account to be emptied out by someone unfamiliar with the correct past participle form of the verb "receive."

Thank you so much for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to trapping your emails in my spam filter in the future.

Lauren Oliver

Monday, March 28, 2011

Le Havre, A Recap!

I have something very exciting to share: the gorgeous French cover of Before I Fall!

(My favorite part? The wraparound "belt" that proclaims the book an international bestseller!) Interestingly, France released Delirium in February, but Before I Fall doesn't come out until April 6th. (Pour les Parisiens, j'espere vous voir a la fete pour le lancer au Virgin du Champs Elysee!)

Isn't it lovely? I'm happy with the title change, too, which translates into: THE LAST DAY OF MY LIFE. That would have been too literal a title in America, I think, but Before I Fall, once translated to French, sounds kind of clunky and awkward and doesn't connote as many symbolic meanings.

On the subject of showing the french some love, I had a charming visit to Le Havre on Saturday. Before my event, I managed to sneak in some writing in the park (I'm working on Requiem), which was followed by a lovely story hour and some conversation with my french fans, who were very understanding of the fact that I was still under the weather.

Today I am off to take a two-day spin through the BOLOGNA BOOK FAIR!! And the international tour continues...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Did you miss the chance to meet me in person in the UK??

Is it because you were sick?

Or because, perhaps, you live somewhere other than London??

Or because you're allergic to teacups???

Whatever the reason, thanks to the miracle of semi-modern technology (i.e., videocameras) you can now get in on the action by watching this incredibly moving video of my recent Blogger Appreciation Event at Eat, Shop, Do in London. I have probably watched this about five times now, and each time I get choked up by the commentaries at the end, and of course by the gorgeous and haunting soundtrack, which was provided by the lovely folk band Minnie Birch. (This wonderful trio of ladies has a Myspace page here.)

So, okay, I understand that watching a video is not EXACTLY like being at the event in person because there was cake there, but if you eat cake and watch the video, you'll get almost the full experience!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Cheerio, England! Salut, France...

I'm back from my whirlwind UK tour, prominently featuring:

1. Night Nurse/Day Nurse
2. Many packets of tissues
3. Adorable British accents
4. Four different train stations
5. Three different schools (witness pics below from two of my visits)
6. One delicious cardamom pudding
7. An extremely expensive (for me) trip to Waterstone's in Piccadilly Square

And NOT prominently featuring:

1. Jude Law, since I apparently missed encountering him on a film set we accidentally stormed through by about three minutes.

Now I'm back in Paris, and reunited with two of my lovely friends, who are visiting me from New York. Jess Rothenberg is a fellow YA writer and Lexa is the co-creator of Paper Lantern Lit. Don't they look french??

Tomorrow I'll be in Le Havre doing a reading and book signing at the Librairie La Galerne at 3 pm...so come show me some love if you're in the area.

And PARISIANS! DON'T FORGET that I will be at the Virgin on the Champs-Elysee at 17h30 on April 6th to launch Before I Fall--"Le Dernier Jour De Ma Vie"--so come party with me!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cheerio, Chaps! Updates from the UK Tour

Stereotypes be damned! All I can say is this: the Brits really do know how to show some love.
On Monday I had the most wonderful event with various British bloggers, some of them (Carla from the Crooked Bookshelf; Jenny from Wondrous Reads) I’ve been corresponding with for two years! I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to finally put a face to the sassy voice and font-style, as well as chat with blogger friends both old and new. We drank cocktails out of teacups (God bless the 18-year-old drinking age!) and listened to music by the incredible talented Minnie Birch, the adorably cute and outrageously talented folk trio that composed this Delirium song. We also noshed on delicious cakes and discussed our favorite animals. Some contenders? Manatees, elephants, dolphins, donkeys, and penguins. (My fave? Teacup pigs.)

The next evening, I went off to the Beneden school for the second year in a row, an absolutely gorgeous boarding school nestled in the English country side where the food is delicious and the girls are all absolutely delightful. So delightful, in fact, that I have requested to return next year to teach a week-long creative writing workshop there! I’m crossing my fingers that it pans out.

Now, sadly, I'm SICK!!! Yes, it's true: spending essentially two months in airports/trains/buses/public bathrooms is apparently challenging for the immune system. But it has been worth it!

More updates soon...


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Updates from France!!!


I've been having a wonderful time in Paris, hobnobbing with fans and various people of literary ilk. On Friday I participated in the enormous Salon du Livre, essentially an enormous conference for various publishing houses and presses. Here I am sitting on a panel about the "Litterature de Jeunes Adultes." Don't I look fancy?? (Everything is fancier in France.)

On Saturday, I flew to Toulouse--a quite lovely city, filled with houses of a gorgeous, dusky rose brick, at the center of which is a gorgeous church and fountain--where I got to meet some of my lovely fans, and even had my visit immortalized in drawing!

I obviously couldn't leave Toulouse without singing "La Petite Sirene" (The Little Mermaid). Don't ask me why. It was necessary, I tell you! Here I am embarrassing myself...

Don't forget to check out my writing tips, posted today on Inkpop.com. And DEFINITELY don't forget to come chat with me there at 2 pm EST! You can post your questions here.

Tomorrow, I head to London to meet bloggers and speak at various schools...and I could not be more excited! I'll be sure to post updates from the road, so please check back this week.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Hollywood Challenge: MY Submission

You want to know how a nice girl from Kansas City ends up working the day shift at Cheetas' on the strip?
It sounds almost like a joke, doesn't it? A nice girl walks into a strip club...
Except it isn't a joke. In fact, there's nothing funny about it.
This is for real, and this is my life.

"Eighty bucks." I fan four crumpled twenties on the narrow counter, trying to keep the desperation from my voice. "That's all I have."
Behind the grimy, bullet-proof window, the woman looks at me disdainfully. The windowpane has become distorted over time, and her eyes appear to bulge, like I'm on the wrong side of a fishbowl. I've been here for ten minutes, pleading, arguing, practically begging for my car back, but the woman--Cherie, according to the plastic name tag tacked just above her right breast--hasn't said a single word other than, "No."
Actually, that's not true. She has also said: "That will be three hundred and sixty dollars."
Now she repeats, "Three hundred and sixty." She pops her gum once. A small table fan on her side of the divider blows chemically-treated blond hair away from the folds of fat around her neck, the deep crevices of skin at her cleavage. She adds: "Or the car stays here."
Sweat trickles down my back, pooling at the waistband of my jeans--my only jeans, except for the pair I have shoved in my trunk, along with every single other worldly belonging I own.
"You don't understand." Now I know I sound desperate, but I'm past caring. "My car is...it's everything. I've kind of had a rough run for a while. I got kicked out of my apartment." I pause so she can appreciate the significance of this: without my car, I have nowhere to live.
She says, "That's not my problem, honey." She wads a tissue between long, curved fingernails--predatory fingers--and dabs at the sweat on her forehead. "Look, if you want to leave your eighty bucks, like a down payment, we'll keep the car here for a couple weeks. When you get the rest of the money together, you can have it back."
I leave CityLights Towing Corp with exactly two dollars and thirty-seven cents; no car; and no options.
They tell you that LA is a city of dreams. But they don't tell you it is also a city of nightmares.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The DELIRIUM tour: Euro Remix

Bonjour, my little chou-fleurs!

Greetings from belle Paris, a city I’ve decided really might be my spiritual homeland. Why, you ask? Witness the evidence below. (Okay, I'm aware that one of these pictures is actually a picture of fresh pasta, which I know is Italian…but the point is that the plethora of incredible food, artisanal and local, and the emphasis people place on eating, is very French!)

I’m happily mixing both pleasure and business—pleasure is another French value I can totally get behind—and yesterday I took a trip to Lyons to have my first dedicace au librairie! (FYI, librairie is actually the word for bookstore in French, not library.) I got to meet a bunch of wonderful French readers/fans, and I even struggled through a reading of Before I Fall in French, which has actually not yet been released. One of my lovely fans, Ingrid, filmed this video, in case you’re interested in a. Seeing me babble nonsensically in another language or b. Watching a cross-continental event unfold.

I'll be posting a complete itinerary for my European appearances soon both here and at Deliriously Falling, so make sure to check back soon! (Particularly if you live in Europe and want to come say hi!)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Hollywood Challenge--Your Submissions!

Once again, I was incredibly humbled and impressed by the Hollywood Challenge samples you submitted. Every week I see improvement and expansion, both in the quantity of people submitting and the quality of each individual piece. And as always, I could only select a fraction of samples to display here. Keep up the awesome work, guys! It's a joy to be able to vibe off your creativity. I'm going to submit my own sample in a few days, so look out for that, too...y'all have inspired me!

From Lisa Aldin, The Stunt Girl:

The thing they never tell you about Hollywood--it may be the city of dreams, but it's also the city of nightmares. This is what goes through my head as I lay face down on the hot pavement, gravel burrowing into my cheek as Johnny's foot slams against the back of my neck. Again.

I go to a special place during these moments, moments where I hurt but not enough to say anything. I close my eyes and tremble under his weight. The gravel bits will leave pot holes in my skin again, same as yesterday, same as the day before. I will need to use a special lotion to sooth the ache until the next round.

In the distance I think I hear someone yell, "Cut!" but I don't break until Johnny helps me up. He brushes the gravel from my swollen cheek and smiles. "Hope I wasn't too hard on you," he says.

I shake my head and shield my eyes from the setting sun. A shadow falls over his beautiful face and I resist tracing his cheekbones with my electrified fingertips. Everything is static when Johnny's around. My shoulders are burnt and cracked from long days like this, days where I let him beat me, all for the sake of art. Or money. I'm beginning to wonder if there's even a difference.

Johnny takes me back to his trailer. As he applies the lotion to my cheek, he kisses my neck. He's the only actor on set who does his own stunts. He says he loves to be in the thick of it all. In a world of fake, Johnny craves something real. So do I.

I wonder if I will ever find it.

I love how Lisa starts us in media res--in the middle of the action--and evokes her MC's physical discomfort unabashedly, so we can almost feel the pain alongside her. Additionally, she sets up two complex characterizations within a few short paragraph, and articulates a WANT (truth/realness) for each of them. Awesome.

From Shaira Martinez:

The thing they never tell you about Hollywood--it may be the city of dreams, but it's also the city of nightmares. You know how they tell you how going to Hollywood to sign a contract with a major company is exactly like selling your soul? Well, they meant it. Literally. And now, since I've really always wanted to say this.... I'm Shea and this is my story. (That always sounded a lot cooler in my head.)

I moved to Hollywood just to audition for this big role in a movie adaptation for my favorite book. And I don't mean to brag, but I've always been a pretty good actress. I have some pretty epic stories about just how good I am, but that would take up a lot of time and I don’t exactly get a lot of it for free anymore. I went into the audition and nailed it. I’m not even kidding, they didn’t see a single girl after me. They just went ahead and said, “You’re it.” Though, at the time, I didn’t know being it was actually a bad thing.

The next day, I went over to SSProductions to officially sign my contract. It was creepy. As soon as I entered, dead silence hit and every head in the lobby turned my way. They looked ravenous.

“Wow, I guess they weren’t kidding when they said these people were like corporate zombies,” I said to myself. I had no idea.

Fast forward, I head up to Dante’s office. He’s owns SSP so he’s kind of a big deal. He has me sign a contract, which is fine, until he pricks my finger and blood drips all over it. I swore, apologized, swore again, and waited for them to kick me out, but instead, Dante licks my finger, looks me with his blood red – yes, red – eyes and says five words that ring through my head every minute of every day when I’m not being fed on by some vamp or incubus.

“Welcome to Soul Sucker Productions.”

Ha. Shaira wastes no time in impugning/parodying the Hollywood stereotype of blood-sucking agencies and soulless lawyers. I would totally read a book about the paranormal LA scene.

From Stephanie Monahan, "From California":

You tell someone you’re from California and immediately they think they know you. You must be a hippie, or a vegan, or one of those health nuts who eats only raw food. A surfer, a singer. Rich, or famous—probably both. And if you’re grown up in Hollywood, like me, they know that your life is like a movie. Sure, there may be bumps. But they’re only there to create a story arc, dramatic interest. In the end, everything will be okay.

On the bus, the sullen boy beside me brightens when I tell him I’m from California. Know any movie stars, he asks, wrapping ear buds around his wrist, and I nod. My golden hair falls to my shoulders like the mane of a wild horse. He can’t look away. He’s undressing me with his eyes. If I could, I would tell him not to bother. Once the shirt comes off, and he sees the bruises rising on my skin like disease, he’ll run off, scared that I’m contagious. I know. I’ve acted out the scene too many times.

So when he asks, I tell him about my amazing life. My father, the screenwriter. My mother, the dancer who gave up her career to stay home with me. I tell him I’m taking the bus to Houston to visit my best friend. I don’t feel bad about my lies. The thing they never tell you about Hollywood--it may be the city of dreams, but it's also the city of nightmares. He doesn’t need to know.

He asks if I’m an actress. More lies tumble out, but I tell myself they’re not lies, they’re lines, and I’m just doing my job. Today, I’m playing the part of a girl visiting her best friend. Tomorrow, I could be anyone.

This is a beautifully written submission. I love how Stephanie mentions narrative/story arc in the first 'graph, making this submission slightly "meta" (i.e., self-referential). And her almost-casual reference to the MC's bruising and troubled history, piques our curiosity and makes us want to read on. This is an excellent technique for generating suspense/interest at the start of the story. You want the reader to ask questions--he/she will then read on for the answers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bon Voyage

I am VERY excited...tomorrow I leave for Europe for a whole month! I'll be touring in France and England, as well as swinging through the Bologna Book Fair and making a final (and just-for-fun) pitstop in Venice. Along the way, I'll of course be gorging myself on cheese, bread, and all kinds of european deliciousness. I promise to take lots of pictures and be much better about blogging regular updates!
As many of you know, my US tour did not exactly go smoothly (we're calling it the dystopian tour, in fact). Let's hope there's no french version of disaster...I don't want people to throw handfuls of brie at me! (Actually, that sounds kind of yummy...)
Now I'm off to squeeze a month's worth of belongings into two teensy tiny suitcases...so wish me luck!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Fairy Tale Fantasy?

I've been noticing the resurgence of fairy tale remakes of late--Beast and Little Red Riding Hood are both roaring into theaters soon (bad pun unavoidable--sorry!), and it got me thinking about other fairy tales I knew and loved as a kid. Maybe some of them are even ripe for a redux?
Unsurprisingly, maybe, since I was a serious dancer into my teens, my favorite fairy tales involved dancing, like the Red Shoes (about a girl who is forced to dance herself to death--or, in one version, cut off her own feet so she DOESN'T dance herself to death) and a Grimm's story whose name I've forgotten, which features twelve princesses who descend every night into a subterranean world to attend a ball, and end up dancing off the soles of their shoes--literally. (I'm pretty sure my shoe obsession grew out of this story. I was just as enthralled by the idea of daily shoe replacements as I was by nighly dancing.)
What about you guys? What are some of your favorite fairy tales? Which ones would you like to see updated and reloaded?

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

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.