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Thursday, April 28, 2011

What do a Tibetan monk, an aging hippie, a playboy preppie, and a woman made of plastic have in common?

They were all sitting next to me at lunch yesterday!

No, no, for real. That is actually an accurate description of the table next to mine yesterday. I had a blast trying to figure out what they might possibly have in common. Also in the restaurant was: a star of a very popular TV show, a “lady” of the night and her ahem, more aged gentleman companion; and various pulled and wrinkle-free women throwing down bottles of champagne at noon.

That’s right, everybody…I’m in LA! Today I had lunch with the lovely women of Fox 2000 (the studio that has optioned both Before I Fall and Delirium), at the super-swank Polo lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, a Hollywood institution. Pretty much every single car in the lot was either a Porsche or a Benz, and I had the most delicious $26 shrimp cocktail I’ve ever had in my life! (Okay, granted, it’s the only $26 shrimp cocktail I’ve ever had in my life.)

I have to say, I have NO idea how anyone gets any work done out here. If I lived in LA, I’m pretty sure I would spend my whole life lounging by a pool with a cocktail. (Witness pic below--but at least I was surrounded by business cards, which makes it SEEM like I was working!)

Actually, though, my meetings have all been pretty fab—I’m getting to know some of the other people at Fox, and we’ve been buzzing about possible directors (and shoes, and boys, among other more pertinent topics). So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Introducing...LIESL & PO!!

I am so, so, excited about what I have to share with you today...Advance Readers Copies of my new middle-grade book, LIESL & PO!! Some of the sketches aren't final, but the ARCs come swaddled in this absolutely gorgeous box; check out the pictures below. Isn't it magic??


Well, GOOD. Because I'm giving away THREE COPIES NOW, and I'll give away THREE COPIES EACH MONTH until the book comes out in October.

You might be asking--Why am I so nice? Because I love you, of course!

You might ALSO be asking, how do I enter to win?? Well, in this round, I'm going to keep it simple. You get +1 entry for responding to this post (with your email, of course), and telling me what your favorite book was when you were a little kid. (Mine was probably Matilda, by Roald Dahl, or the Redwall Series, by the brilliant and recently deceased Brian Jacques). Please remember to include your email address!
Additionally, you get +2 for being a follower of my blog, and + 3 for twittering about it. If you do a blog post about the contest/my first foray into middle-grade, you get a whopping +4!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calling All Writers...

I know I've talked about Figment.com, a great new site for writers and readers, and now I'm putting my money (er, time and books) where my mouth is! This week I'll be judging an awesome contest for Figment--you can find all the details here. Winners get copies of my books, and featured spots in Figment's blog and newsletter! PLUS you get entered for the chance to win a Kindle!

What are you waiting for?? Hop to it! Deadline's April 24th so you better get those ideas flowing....

Good luck!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Venice Challenge--Your Responses!

Thanks to everyone who submitted! It makes me so happy that more and more people turn in pieces every week. I get so inspired by the variety of voices I see, and by the different creative choices writers make in response to the same cues. As always, I have read and enjoyed everything and posted only a small sample, due to space constraints!

From the lovely Liz Douitsis:

Fairies & Mermaids

The boat rocks back and forth. Mummy says it’s called a ‘gondola’. She is talking to the man who owns the boat while I sit with my friend Tanya in the back. Tanya has purple wings and orange eyes. I tell her all of my secrets. Tanya says something that makes me laugh, and mummy looks at me with angry eyes like when I make too much noise in church.

Mummy was yelling at the man, but I don’t know what she was saying. Something is wrong with mummy today. I think she is scared. Maybe she is afraid that the boat will tip. I want to tell her that I won’t let us fall into the river, but Tanya tells me to be quiet. We float past people’s houses, with boats outside of their doors like cars. Tanya wants to go swimming.

Mummy still looks cross. She is not talking to the man anymore. She is staring at the river. Sometimes I think mummy has a make-believe friend too. Maybe it is a mermaid. I would like to meet mummy’s mermaid friend.

The man smiles at me. I smile too. Mummy is not happy. She yells at him again. Mummy never yells like that unless I have been bad. I wonder why is mummy so mad today? It is a pretty day. I would like to stay in this gondola for ever. I do not want to go back to our house. It is lonely with just mummy and me. We do not have rivers.

Mummy says it’s time to go. The man looks sad. He says something to mummy, and then he talks to me. His eyes are green, like mine. I don’t know what he says, but I like his voice. Mommy takes my hand and pulls me away. She doesn’t talk to the man.

Tanya tells me he was speaking in a different language, and ‘Papa’ means ‘daddy’.

The thing that most impressed me about this submission is that I think it really captured the voice of a young child. I find that so often, writers are NOT able to convincingly evoke a child's voice and POV. Well done, Liz!

The following piece comes from 14-year-old (!) Jessica Dailey, a first-time submitter:

My fingers dance through the reflections of Italy. I pull my hand over the edge of the boat and
rest it on my leg, feeling the warm river soaking through my jeans.
The setting orange orb in the sky is suddenly overcrowded by black, menacing clouds. Warm gusts of air blow loose strands of hair into my face. I turn to meet the wind but instead, I am greeted by a wave of rain. The small droplets race down my cheeks and fall to the river, sinking deep into the depths of the canal. My translation fails me as I try to convey to the gondolier that I wish to get off.
The man in stripes returns my poor Italian with a puzzled look and stumbles with the rocking of the gondola. With the waters now gaining speed and current, my fingers grasp the edge of the wooden boat. I turn to find the captain of our small shipsitting down in order to keep from falling into the clouded depths of the canal. His eyes widen slightly as he gazes past my head. I turn.
A dark, liquid blanket rises up out of the water. Flowing with swirls of rain, the river jumps at the férro. Snapping my eyes shut and my mouth closed, my body grips the gondola as we are tipped
and swallowed by the narrow Italian river.

I was really impressed by the first-line, which serves to both insert us directly into the action of the story and convincingly evoke the background--we're introduced to both narrator and setting in eight words alone. There is some lovely description here, and I was also very impressed that Jessica took the time to research the word "ferro!" Obviously, this is a writer dedicated to her craft. :)

From Natalie Ward:


This was the closest he’d been to her in the four days he had been watching. Today, it had to be today. He knew this, but for now he just wanted to watch. Rialto Bridge they called it. That was where he stood as she floated on a gondola in the water underneath.

He couldn’t see her face, hidden behind a black hat, but her legs…those he could see. Long, tanned legs stretched out, crossed at the ankles. Her right hand was trailing in the water as the boat moved slowly along. She was heading towards him, in another few minutes she would float right underneath him. His body tensed.

He had only had two instructions, it had to happen in Venice and it had to be discreet. She was leaving tonight, so today was his last chance, he knew that. He knew how to be discreet too. The problem lay in whether he could do it. Did he want to?

He was beginning to think no. She was mesmerising. Those long tanned legs didn’t hurt, but it was surely more than that. As she passed beneath him, he couldn’t help but glance down. She didn’t look up. As her gondola floated to the jetty, he moved off the bridge and towards her. Confident steps, ready with a hand as she stepped out of the boat. She glanced at him now and he saw it, a brief flicker of recognition, definitely. Smiling, he took her hand “buongiorno”.

This has the wonderful, fast-paced quality of a good pulp fiction mystery, and I love how Natalie convincingly assumes that voice. I also love how she layers in a lot of suspense in a short span of time and text. WHAT does he have to do? (Kill her?) WHO gave him these instructions? WHY? And of course, WILL he do it? This could be a great opening to a longer piece.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Goodbye, Paris. Hello...Texas?

From the Eiffel Tower to the place of towering hair...Texas, here I come!

My last few days in Paris were a whirlwind of promotional activities to support the launch of Before I Fall (french translation: Le Dernier Jour de Ma Vie, or The Last Day of My Life), including MY FIRST EVER INTERNATIONAL TV APPEARANCE (I'm at minute 5:30, for those of you who are impatient to see my face!). Additionally, I had a FABULOUS event at the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysee...I felt like a total rockstar!

Now I'm off to the Texas Library Association in Austin, Texas, which happens to be one of my favorite newly discovered cities. For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you MAY remember that I stopped in Austin on my book tour earlier this year, and had a whirlwind 24 hours of fun featuring new tattoos and brunch in the sun (read all about my first taste of Austin here).

If you're going to be at TLA, please come say hi to me at my signing, from 11:30-12:30 on Wednesday, April 13th!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Picture is Worth...200 Words?

Welcome to the first-ever edition of the Photo Writing Challenge! I'm sure you've all heard the adage "A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words." I won't bore you hear with a lecture on my feelings regarding the difference in mediums, and how images and words convey meaning in fundamentally distinct ways, and we'll instead take this statement at face value. Actually, for the purposes of this writing challenge, we're going to place images on a steep discount. A picture is now worth only a bargain two hundred words!

The rules of the game are simple. Write 200-250 words inspired by the image above, a recent snapshot from my trip to Venice. That's it. You'll need to find a narrative perspective--(who's telling the story? A visiting tourist? A 90-year-old local? A cat on a windowsill)--and as usual, it's helpful to try and generate a problem, conflict, or tension right away, to keep the reader's interest. But the goal is also simply to draw inspiration from a new source. Writers have to train themselves to see stories everywhere, just like (I imagine) photographers have to train themselves to see interesting photo opportunities. (Full disclosure: in high school, I nearly failed Photo 1. Apparently I was too busy finding story opps!)

As always, submit to laurenoliverbooks@gmail.com. As always, I'll read everything and post several responses. Let's give it a week and a half...and say we'll have submissions in by 4/18 (a Monday).

Enjoy, and happy inspiration!

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I know I'm Prolific...But I'm not THAT prolific

Recently I was coasting through Goodreads (I love goodreads--don't you??), and I came across a book that apparently I wrote, and never knew I wrote! It is called Graham-the-Kind-Hearted.

I am sure it is a wonderful book but it is NOT WRITTEN BY ME!! (Unless I wrote, submitted, and published it in my sleep). Just a disclaimer/FYI. Does anyone know how to contact the administrators at Goodreads?


Paris, Je T'Aime!

So show me some love in return, people!

(Alors montre-moi de l'amour en retour!)

I'll be at the Virgin Champs-Elysee tomorrow, Wednesday, at 6:00, for the French launch of Before I Fall, and I expect to see YOU! Yes, YOU!

(Je serais au Virgin du Champs-Elysee demain, le 6 Mercredi, a 18:30, pour le lancement francais du DERNIER JOUR DE MA VIE, et j'ai hate de te voir!! Oui, c'est a TOI que je parle!!)

Make me happy and come celebrate with me! Rend-moi heureuse et viens feter avec moi!

See you tomorrow/a demain :)



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.