Home My Books About Me Contests

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Show Me Some Love!

I'm so very proud that DELIRIUM was featured in this NPR round-up of YA titles suitable for all ages. Check it out here.

And for all of you who know that YA love extends far beyond your teen years, please "recommend" or comment on the post. If NPR gets a sufficient quantity of comments, the piece will go on air!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The release of the goodreads summary of PANDEMONIUM has, appropriately enough, inspired its own bit of pandemonium! I've been deluged with facebook messages and tweets about the direction of the series--some expressing excitement, some disapproval, and some anger. So I wanted to take this opportunity to respond.

I'm actually super grateful for all the discussion, dialogue, and debate; it proves how richly my fans have become invested in the world of Delirium, in Alex, and Lena, and Alex and Lena together; it proves, too, how strongly books begin to belong to the readers themselves, to their mental and emotional landscapes. Readers make predictions; they stake their hopes on certain outcomes.

I totally get it. I, too, feel that way about books I love. And I want to say: thank you for reading, and thank you for caring so much.

I also want to say--please be patient with me, with Lena, and with the unfolding of the story. Pandemonium took me to some very unexpected places. It is a different book from Delirium, just as Requiem will be a different book than the ones that preceded it. I need to follow the thread of the character; I need to be authentic to her growth. Lena lived through a deeply traumatic experience--her vision of the world needs enrichment and expansion. She is a young woman on the cusp of great change.

Please have a little faith! :) I promise, promise, promise, that ultimately I do not think my fans will be disappointed by the direction of the series, although I also promise that in my novels, as in life, there may be many twists, turns, and bumps in the road before we hit any truly happy endings.

But of course, it must be that way. As old Billy Shakespeare so eloquently said: The course of true love never did run smooth.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Meta: A Definition

If you read a lot, you've probably come across the term "meta", used to describe a type of current fiction that often explores or exposes the conventions of fiction. In popular culture, it is often used more loosely to describe any set of circumstances that is a kind of commentary on the circumstances themselves. Witness this definition from Urban Dictionary:

1. A term, especially in art, used to characterize something that is characteristically self-referential.

Example: "So I just saw this film about these people making a movie, and the movie they were making was about the film industry..."
"Dude, that's so meta. Stop before my brain explodes."

Still confused? Wondering what my point is?

Check out this Kirkus video in which I discuss the genesis for the idea for Delirium--and, additionally, discuss whether or not love can be considered a dangerous disease--only an hour before I had to kick my lyin', cheatin', scummy ex-boyfriend to the curb!

Dude. It's so meta.

(But don't worry, loyal readers. Like Lena in Delirium, I have recently discovered that the only cure for the dangerous side effects of amor deliria nervosa is simply to fall in love again!)


xo Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Delirium: The Makeover!

Delirium is getting an updated wardrobe for fall, along with some tricked out new features! Check out the special edition cover:

What do you think?? I think it's gorgeous, personally. I think I may like it even better than the original cover! The special edition also features an exclusive Q & A with yours truly and...drum roll...the first few chapters of PANDEMONIUM! (Don't all squee at once.) xD

Let me know what you think, lovelies!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Writing Challenges: Your Submissions!

Thanks for all of you who entered this month’s writing challenge; your submissions continue to inspire me. I guess the warm weather is getting the creative juices flowing! There were a ton of fabulous submissions this month, and as always I could only pick a few:

From Jenny Porat:

The first time I saw Kyle, I was standing in between the Dunk-A-Dunce booth and the Hoop Hop, wrestling with a giant stuffed panda. Not the best way to make a good first impression.

It was a humid June day, the sun beating down on my head, heat clinging to me like a blanket. The smells of funnel cakes and sweat drifted through the air. Clutched in my hand were a few slightly sticky game tokens, their once shiny surface dulled over years of toddlers’ greasy fingerprints.

I remember the day clearly; running over to the Hoop Hop, gazing up at the giant stuffed panda hanging from the stand. I handed the girl working the station some coins, and took at shot, praying for the panda. I watched with anticipation as the ball circled around the hoop- time seemed to slow down. As the ball slowly tumbled in, I reached for the panda, longing to feel its soft fur when the girl running the booth reached across the counter and plucked it out of my arms.

Like a typical eight year old, I grabbed it back, only too slow to get it. Tears burning my eyes, I turned away to see a group of kids about my age crowded around a boy, the sun reflecting off his golden waves. I looked at his nametag. KYLE.

The smell of funnel cakes and sweat clung to Kyle, tangling itself in his hair and warm embrace, reminding me of the summer we met.

Want to know something unbelievable? Jenny is only fourteen! Can you believe it? I’m blown away by her talent., and also by her commitment to her craft at such a young age. Remember the name, peeps—you’ll be seeing it on the shelves someday!

From McKay Jervis, You and Me:

The first time I saw Kyle, I was standing in between the Dunk-A-Dunce booth and the Hoop Hop, wrestling with a gigantic stuffed panda bear. Not the best way to make a good first impression. He, on the other hand, left a great impression. He was crowded by people as he strummed on Ibanez acoustic guitar, his audience clapping and dancing along as he sang, “Cause you and your heart shouldn't feel so far apart…”
I swear, his voice was magical. It was soft and smooth, like waves crashing onto the sandy shore. The evening sun glittered his damp salty hair, dark brown and chopped wildly. His eyes gleamed the color of water droplets on a leaf. His tan showed he was local. My best friend, Brandie, was behind me, chattering away about the love of her life-- a senior she would never be able to date back home in Cranberry, Pennsylvania.
Her words went in one ear and out the other. I was mesmerized by this boy at the Labor Day Fair on the shore of Boynton Beach, Florida on this Summer Vacation, not even 500 feet away from me. Me. Lexa Darnley. This boy would surely never talk to me—not the girl who was still trying to find a comfortable way to hold that god awful bear.
And yet, here he was, waltzing towards me and my stalker-staring brown eyes, his guitar swinging from its shoulder strap.

“Hello,” he said.

This makes me want to go to a country fair and steal a kiss from a stranger! Summer lovin’, people. Miracles happen, I swear….

From Laura Wettersten:

The first time I saw Kyle, I was standing in between the Dunk-A-Dunce booth and the Hoop Hop, wrestling with a gigantic stuffed panda bear. Not the best way to make a good first impression.

Not that he was doing any better. A thick stripe of chili sauce dripped down his white shirt – evidence that not only did he dare to eat Frank’s Famous Frankfurters, he also considered them a fashion statement.

I didn’t give him a second glance and continued my efforts to tug the monstrous panda over my shoulders.

“Need some help? It looks heavy.”

I turned to him, a rude retort about how heavy his mama probably was on my tongue, but he’d moved closer to me and on second glance, I realized that the chili sauce on his shirt was just a red herring. This boy was CUTE.

I swallowed down the comment about his mother and tried to play it cool, like he wasn’t the prettiest boy I’d ever seen. I narrowed my eyes at him, regarding him with theatrical distrust. “How do I know you’re not going to run off with it as soon as I hand it over?”

His smirk almost made him cuter. “You really think I’d try something like that after I just saw you threaten that carnie’s life over this thing?”

“I didn’t threaten him. Not exactly.”

“So you don’t consider, ‘Give me that panda or I’m telling the Rent-a-Cop that you’re a swindling, fraudulent rat bastard’ a threat?”

I love the first few lines of this submission. Laura manages to insert humor and realism into the piece right away; the narrator has a saucy (no pun intended) unique point of view that is immediately apparent. And who can resist verbal sparring of the kind she evokes in this dialogue exchange?

From: Teresa Szandtner, Data

The first time I saw Kyle, I was standing in between the Dunk-A-Dunce booth and the Hoop Hop, wrestling with a gigantic stuffed panda bear. Not the best way to make a first impression, but I hadn’t been inside the Program before. Part of my brain told me this wasn’t real, but my senses begged to differ. I marvelled at how my arms were free of IVs and my surgery scars were gone. In here, I was beautiful. I gingerly put down the bear, which smelled of polyester, and bravely walked over to Kyle. He wasn’t real anyway, so what was there to be afraid of?

“Hi,” I stammered. “I’m Sara.”

“Hey Sara, would you like a balloon?” he asked, offering be a pink sparkly one. His fingers grazed mine as he handed it to me, sending a chill down my spine. His smile reached his eyes, as if he meant it.

As we walked along, I noticed a beeping noise that was steadily becoming louder. I looked around, thinking how the noise didn’t fit into this beautiful place. I felt Kyle’s hand on my back as I fell to my knees. When I opened my eyes, someone was placing an oxygen mask on my face, the strap bristling against my shaved head. A male nurse above me was speaking.

“Hi, my name is Kyle. I’m going to be your nurse this evening.” I sighed. Reality had returned.

I was really impressed by this submission as it took a relatively straight-forward writing prompt and twisted it into something sophisticated and sci-fi. This is an intriguing beginning. Well done!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend Workshop!

I've been more than a little slack in my writing posts, but in the spirit of Wednesday's Mission Statement about craft (thank you, all, for your amazing, heartfelt, and reassuring responses!), and my constant efforts to improve my writing—as well as to help others improve (check out the work we do at Paper Lantern Lit)—I thought I should get back into the Weekend Writing Workshop bandwagon.

I've been doing a lot of editing over the past few weeks, and I've noticed a particular device used, and overused, in many young writers' submissions. I'm going to call it Action Anticipation. Here's an example:

I was day-dreaming about that one second when Andy leaned into me, when it almost looked like he was about to kiss me, when a voice pulled me rudely from my thoughts.

"Hey, Lauren! Nod-off, much?"

I whipped around. Chris was standing behind me, smirking.

There's nothing WRONG with this, but please note that the bolded portion of the sentence anticipates—and thus renders slightly redundant—the dialogue. Also, this is not exactly in line with how we experience interruptions. The interruption HAPPENS, and we process it afterward. Take this revise:

I was day-dreaming about that one second when Andy leaned into me, when it almost looked like he was about to kiss me…

"Hey, Lauren! Nod off, much?"

I whipped around. Chris was standing behind me, smirking.

This achieves the exact same effect, doesn't it, using slightly fewer words? It has the added bonus of being more "real" to our experience. That is: the reader has an experience while reading that is closer to the experience of the characters. The reader's train of thought is interrupted, just as the character's is. Does this make sense?

Similarly, take this example.

Staring out over the stillness of the water, the motionless boats moored in the harbor, with their white brushstroke masts standing vividly against the purple sky, it was impossible to imagine that anything could go wrong.

Until, that is, a loud explosion sounded behind me, and I dropped to my knees, cursing.

"What the hell was that?"

Versus this revise:

Staring out over the stillness of the water, the motionless boats moored in the harbor, with their white brushstroke masts standing vividly against the purple sky, it was impossible to imagine that anything could go wrong.


A loud explosion sounded behind me and I dropped to my knees, cursing.

"What the hell was that?"

Again, the goal is to move the reader's experience and the character's more closely into alignment, and not provide the reader with information that the character does not yet have.

Action Anticipation can be used as an effective tool occasionally, but it's important not to over-use it, because it places a divide between the reader and the story—like all "devices," it reveals the "craft" behind the novel, and thus takes the reader out of the story itself. It is a little bit like showing the seams on a piece of clothing. Every so often, that can be cool and avant-garde. But too much, and it just makes you start thinking about the stitching.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A wee bit of a rant...

It's my policy to abstain from reading my reviews as much as possible. It's not because I don't care—it's because I care too much! I think it's really hard to do authentic work if you're always obsessing about what other people think about your writing, just like it's really hard to be an authentic person if you're always obsessing about other people's opinions of you!

But recently I stumbled across a semi-review (I say "semi" because it wasn't actually a review of my new book, Liesl & Po, which the author of the review had not read, but more of a review of my whole career thus far and Personhood) that I thought deserved a response. The author of the Semi-Review criticized me for genre hopping, and specifically seemed irritated that—after jumping from contemporary YA (Before I Fall) to YA dystopia/fantasy (Delirium)—I should now be so brazen as to "think" I can write middle-grade (Liesl & Po, coming out this October).

Well, you know what? She's right! I DO think I can. Maybe I read the story of The Little Engine That Could one too many times when I was a child, but I believe that if I work hard enough at something, I will eventually be able to achieve it.

Sorry, lady! That's just my sty-lo.

The Semi-Review also exhorted me to stick with what I already know how to do—i.e., contemporary fiction in the style of Before I Fall. This is problematic on a few different levels. First of all, it's arbitrary, by those standards, to say that I know how to do contemporary YA well. I only wrote one contemporary YA book—what if I ONLY know how to write contemporary YA books about a high school senior named Samantha Kingston who dies and relives the day of her death multiple times? Should I just kill poor Sam off another half dozen times?

Second of all, I was twenty-five when I wrote Before I Fall. Should I assume it is the best, and the only, thing I can ever achieve in my life? How can I possibly know what else I'm good at, unless I try a variety of things? If people never tried anything new—including things they might risk failing at—they would never learn to ride bikes, play tennis, SPEAK, kiss, do cannonballs into a pool…they would never learn ANYTHING! C'mon, now.

Doing something I'm already good at over and over sounds like a great big SNOOZE. I am writing because I love writing. I want to push myself, always, to be better and better at it. I think about craft and narrative; I read voraciously; I dream about writing and think about writing when I run and when I shower and when I eat and when I'm out at parties. I will write books that are good. I will write books that are not. I will—maybe, maybe!—get out a book or two that is great. But I will never find greatness if I am unwilling to embrace failure, too.

So anyway, thank you for your opinion. I really do value and respect it; in the immortal words of the cast of the Jersey Shore, it's important that You Do You.

I'm gonna do me…and honestly, I hope I don't yet know all of the things that doing me entails. In fact, I hope I never stop learning.

Monday Procrastination? I got you covered.

Hey guys!

I hope you all had a great weekend. As you do your best to avoid settling into the weekday routine, don't worry: I got your back. I have about fifteen minutes of solid procrastination available for you right here, in the form of fabulous and funny videos shot during my Canadian tour with the lovely Veronica Roth, author of the excellent Divergent. So go ahead...forget about your inbox/To-Do list!

Click here--Veronica and I are chatting about bookish things!

Here it's just Veronica alone! Isn't she cute??

Now I'm going solo! (If you're lucky, I might even be SINGING at the end.)

NOW WE ARE MAKING CHOCOLATE HAND-PRINTS for the Moroco Chocolat Wall of Fame!! Yum, yum. Better than Hollywood, baby.

Happy Monday! And may the force of procrastination be with you.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Writing Challenge: The June Edition!

It has been far too long since I’ve posted a writing challenge. Blame it on post-tour exhaustion, lots of napping, and a decent amount of blowing off work to frolic in Prospect Park! But I’m back on the blog and I expect you to be back at your computers, too.

This month’s challenge is about—what else?—Summer Lovin.’ Your challenge is to complete a 200-250 word submission that begins with or incorporates the following sentence:

“The first time I saw Kyle, I was standing in between the Dunk-A-Dunce booth and the Hoop Hop, wrestling with a gigantic stuffed panda bear. Not the best way to make a good first impression.”

Please note that Kyle might be either a girl’s name or a boy’s name. And the submission can focus on a romantic entanglement, or it can just explore the brand-new friendships that often seem to sprout around June and wither away by Labor Day.

Get writing! I’ll expect your submissions by June 18th. Remember to send them to laurenoliverbooks at gmail dot com.

And in the meantime…happy summering!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Contest Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered My #1 Crush Contest, for a chance to win the fabulous new anthology about first love (check out my post about the collection here). The winner is...

Devon! Here's what she had to say about first love:
Oh goodness...young love. I swear I had a new crush every year at the beginning of each grade. I think my first one was in first grade and I think his name was Tim. My middle school crushes stick out the most in my memory though because everyone's love lives were so dramatic. My favorite part that I remember was receiving the notes in class with the question "will you be my girlfriend? Circle yes or no."

For the rest of you, never fear! You can order a copy of Crush for your shelves right here.

And for May's THREE Liesl and Po winners (and their favorite childhood books)...drum roll....

Jason Lalljee: My favorite book when I was a kid was Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davis. Wonderful story and beautiful illustrations. "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to."

Coffee and a Book Chick: My favorite book series when I was a kid was either anything by Beverly Cleary or Anne of Green Gables!

Bee: My favourite book was the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. I lived for those books!

Congratulations, everyone! And remember...I'm giving away THREE copies PER MONTH all the way up until October...so don't be shy about continuing to enter here.

Happy Friday, everyone!!


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.