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Thursday, May 31, 2012

From the Archives: Ten-Year-Old Lauren Oliver, Budding Poet

Just because I've been writing for a long, long time doesn't mean I've been good for a long time. In fact, I always tell aspiring writers that it is critical to practice, to cultivate a discipline and a daily habit of writing, just as you would if you wanted to become a soccer player, cellist, marathon runner...or anything else, for that matter. Scientists spend years doing research; politicians spend years...well, I'm not sure what politicians do for years. Collect bribes, maybe?

The point is, I really agree with Albert Einstein when he said E = MC squared, and ALSO when he said that genius is 1 percent talent and 99 percent hard work. I didn't become decent at writing until very recently. And I can prove it!

Recently my father unearthed my attempts at poetic composition at the tender age of ten. We were living in France at the time, so the original (which is somewhat difficult to read) is written in French, although my ten-year-old self also handily included an English translation. In my defense, the poem does at least rhyme in French. In my counter-defense...there is no rhyme scheme; I am not sure why almost every line begins with "wooo"; and the subject matter...well, see for yourself.
Stay tuned for more "from the archives" posts!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Coucou de St Malo!

I don't want to hate on Book Expo, but the french festival Etonnants Voyageurs--perched on the gorgeous french coastline, just outside the charming walled city of St Malo--really puts BEA and the Javitz Center to shame. I've just spent three glorious days strolling the beach, eating moules frites, drinking delicious wine...oh, and signing lots of books!

I was invited to attend by my French publisher, because both Before I Fall and Delirium were nominated for a very special prize, Le Grand Prix de L'Imaginaire, in the category of foreign young adult fiction. And guess what?? I won for not one, but BOTH books, because the jury couldn't decide between them!! I was absolutely blown away. What made the experience even more special is that both my fiance and my father accompanied me to France and were there to witness the ceremony.

Tonight I head back to Paris for a last day of working-vacation. And if you're in Paris, you can come and see me!!

Dedicace: 18h00 - 19h30, Mardi 29 Mai
Librairie le Divan Jeunesse
226 r Convention
Paris 75015

There will be reading! And maybe singing! Come show me some amour....


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Live-blogging the Pandemonium Ap!

For the first time today I finally had the time to try out the awesome new pandemonium app that I blogged about some time ago! (find it here! https://www.facebook.com/deliriumtrilogy?sk=app_346071285441526&requestID= ) I thought I would live-blog some of my thoughts as I went through the app. Please bear with me as I inevitably struggle through this... I'm not known for my computer prowess!

Right off the bat, I'm having a hard time picking out an image to represent me. I'm deciding to go with the simple slogan "JOIN THE RESISTANCE &; SPREAD THE DELIRIA." I love the graphic; it for some reason reminds me what a title card would look like for an old movie.

The game allows you to share images and recruit friends to the cause. You can only send invites to 50 people at a time, but if you return, you can send out additional invites.When I go back to my homepage, I see that the picture I chose has been posted on my timeline, along with text urging people to join the resistance.

What I love about this app is that it really mimics the tactics used by real grassroots movements to spread information and rally people to a cause. And isn't Love a good cause to rally around? Even if we don't actually live in the world of Delirium and Pandemonium, our world is filled with dissension, anger, and negativity. It feels good to make a push for Love!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rainy Day Thoughts For Rainy Day Things

Image courtesy of ffffound.com

I don't know how the weather is for everyone else, but here in New York, it is DREARY. I'm really starting to believe that the rain picks up to monsoon levels of downpour only when I am forced to leave the house. As much as there are things I love about rain (another list for another time), today the damp and generally sludgy quality of the day is making me super grumpy! Now I KNOW it's important to think positively, but today my thinking is positively foul...and I'm rolling with it. They say misery loves company, so here is a list of the basically minor but really irritating things that always put a storm cloud on my mental horizon. And hey, share the misery! I want to hear what gets you gruff and grumpy!

I could write a whole special sub-section just for the cable company. Things that especially frustrate about me about dealing with any kind of customer service telephone number include a) not being able to talk to an actual human being, b) the ever-changing and completely confusing menu options and c) that hold music!

I don't know why it seems like more work then just putting away your laundry, especially since most of what you brought home just needs to get dumped in the hamper. (Actually, I kinda hate putting away the laundry, too.) My record is letting a still half-packed suitcase chill in my bedroom for a solid two weeks.

Especially when you don't have handy access to a sink. Stickiness!!!

No matter what the noise actually is, I will come to hate whatever sound drags me out of bed in the morning. That includes birdsong, and is the reason I never set one of my favorite songs as an alarm! I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am NOT a morning person!

Variations on this include forgetting to buy a crucial ingredient for a baking project, getting to the store and realizing you've forgotten your shopping list/money/re-useable bags, and accidentally buying the second book in a series before the first.

This happened today. It's one of my biggest pet peeves, and also sounds like it should be a line in an Alanis Morissette song.

When it's hard to find the information you need, or when you have to sit through a three minute long animation just to find out what hours a restaurant is open. That's when I start yelling at my computer. My poor computer...

   Enough said!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Awkward Writing Challenge!

Now THAT is awkward.

Thanks to everyone who entered my “Awkward” writing challenge! I got so many great entries, it was almost impossible to showcase only three. Weirdly, it was really a pleasure to read through all your depictions of this incredibly awful feeling. Additionally, I was inspired by the fact that many of you embraced awkwardness as a positive thing.

Check out some of my favorites below. Thank you again to everyone who entered, we will post another challenge soon. I can't wait see what you all come up with next!

- By Ainsley Shay

 Pick me. Pick me. Pick me.
My hand can't get any higher, and I’m sure my crossed fingers are wrapped so tight they’ll have to be surgically separated.
"Miss Bailey, you seem quite eager. Why don't you be our first presenter?" says Mr. Sputnick.
Instant terror descends and settles comfortably in my belly. Just get it over with. Two minutes, that’s it, then instant relief. Two minutes. Taking a deep breath, I gather my notecards, my courage, and head to the front of the class. I’m not going to throw up. I’m not going to throw up. Just picture them all naked, isn’t that what everyone always says? Oh, God, Tim Riley, so don’t want to imagine him naked. Ugh!
After the last word is said, I let out the air that's been trapped in my lungs for what seems like eternity. The taste of relief is sweet until I look up and see twenty mouths gaped open.
What? Why are they looking at me like that?
"Ah, um…thank you, Miss Bailey. That was…educational, but the topic was propagation as in spreading beliefs into a new region, not propagation as in the act of reproduction.”
Being first sucks.

What I really liked about this one was the pacing. Despite its brevity, it was a real story with a beginning, middle, and an end. . .with a great punch line. What's also great about this story is that it portrays awkwardness in two different ways. I love that the narrator's initial nervousness about giving the presentation misleads the reader, so that the ultimate reveal--which shows the truly awkward moment at play here—is a surprise. Great job!

  By Kate Picard: http://www.sithereandread.com/

I stare down at my naked, shivering body and groan.
Mental note: Get towel before shower.
I tiptoe from the bathroom, down the empty hallway. Stacey’s room is a
few feet away. But just as I take two steps, I hear a voice coming up
the stairs behind me.
I make a quick decision and burst through closest door. I press my ear
against the cool wood and listen as the voice fades away. Just as I am
about to continue my journey, I hear a shuffling noise.
I turn slowly to see the sleepy eyes of my biggest crush and Stacey’s
twin brother, Connor, laying in bed. His eyes widen and he graciously
turns away.
Holy crap!
I scan the room quickly to find something to hide behind until I see
his open closet. I trip over my fumbling feet and fall face down—or
ass up, onto the carpet.
“Are you alright?” Connor says, with a hint of a smile in his voice.
My face flushes. “Yes,” I say meekly. “Just give me a sec please.”
“You can have as many secs as you need,” he says. “Er, I mean. Well
you know what I mean.”

Hilarious, Kate! Again, this is a very short story that still conveys a great and distinct sense of different characters. Even though we only get two lines out of his mouth, we can tell that Connor is a basically good guy, with a good sense of humor (so basically perfect!). It's funny, relate-able (I ALWAYS forget a towel when I shower some place new!), and really. . .well, awkward!

  by Sallie D. Mazzur

My eyes refuse to open. I am standing in the middle of the courtyard on campus, wearing my favorite white summer dress, delicate sheer lace detail lining the trim. My fingers grip the sides of the tray in front of me, knuckles straining against the plastic, practically numb from holding on so tightly. I feel it dripping slowly through my hair, down the front of my dress, sliding further down to pool around my feet, becoming drenched in it. I’ve become a live wire encased in liquid, fearing an explosion, trying to refrain from letting it escape, scratching at the insides of my chest, clawing its way out into the open. My composure slipping, I feel tears begin to add to the already cool water flowing down my body, showcasing my embarrassment. I feel their eyes on me, painful goose bumps forming on my skin as if their gaze was causing an allergic reaction. A chill runs through my body as I hear gasps surrounding me. I drop the tray and wrap my arms around myself, laughter and cat calls ringing in my ears, slicing through my self-control and shredding any dignity I could muster up. I cursed myself for not wearing a bra that day. 

I love that this one emphasizes awkwardness as a feeling, not just a set of circumstances. Sallie describes each moment, each physical aspect, in excruciating detail, with some inventive language and vivid metaphor. It's also great that she defuses the tension somewhat at the end of the paragraph by adding a humorous detail. It makes it even more relate-able, and all the more traumatizing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

JOIN THE RESISTANCE! (New Facebook App!)

I could not be more happy or excited to announce an amazing super fun new way to immerse yourself in the world of Delirium!
Now on Facebook we have a new Pandemonium game! Join to rally the people for the cause, and try to become a leader of the revolution.
Fight for Love! Fight for Humanity! Fight for truth! Fight for Fun! 
Join the resistance at https://www.facebook.com/deliriumtrilogy/app_346071285441526 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mother's Day Gift To My Readers

www.jujubeandlolo.com (They have instructions on how to make it!)

I've been getting a lot of emails from very well-meaning fans who threaten to fall into some kind of horrible looming depression that cannot be cured by anything but a sneak peak of Requiem or a sequel to Before I Fall. Sadly, neither one of those things is going to happen--but I think I might have fold a partial solution.
As some of you already know, (and the rest of you must now be kicking yourself for forgetting), today is Mother's Day. I've got a great mother, a really excellent super awesome one, but in many of my books, moms are notoriously absent. thinking about my books I realized that there is a notable absence of good mothers hanging around!
In Delirium and Pandemonium, Lena's mom impacts the story partly as a result of her absence. And so, dear readers, I thought as a special Mother's day present, and to help tide you over during the long wait forRequiem, I would share some of her thoughts with you. Here is an exclusive scene from Lena's Mom's POV!

When I was a girl, it snowed for a whole summer.
            Every day, the sun rose smudgy behind a smoke-gray sky, and hovered behind its haze; in the evenings, it sank, orange and defeated, like the glowing embers of a dying flame.
            And the flakes came down and down—not cold to touch, but with their own peculiar burn--as the wind brought smells of burning.
            Every night, on TV, my mother and father sat us down to watch the news. All of the pictures were the same: towns neatly evacuated, cities enclosed, grateful citizens waving from the windows of shiny new buses, as they were carted off to a new future, a life of perfect happiness. A life of painlessness.
            “See?” my mother would say, smiling at me and my sister Carol in turn. “We live in the greatest country on earth. See how lucky we are?”
            And yet the ash continued swirling down, and the smells of death came through the windows, crept under the door, hung in our carpets and curtains, and screamed of her lie.

Is it possible to tell the truth in a society of lies? Or must you always, of necessity, become a liar?
And if you lie to a liar, is the sin somehow negated or reversed?
These are the kinds of questions I ask myself now: in these dark, watery hours, when night and day are interchangeable. No. Not true. During the day the guards come, to deliver food and take the bucket; and at night the others moan, scratch, and scream. They are the lucky ones. They are the ones who still believe that sound, that voice, will do any good. The rest of us know better, and have learned to live in silence.
I wonder what Lena is doing now. I always wonder what Lena is doing. Rachel, too: both my girls, my beautiful, big-eyed girls. But I worry about Rachel less. Rachel was always harder than Lena, somehow. More defiant, more stubborn, less feeling. Even as a little girl, she frightened me a little—fierce and fiery-eyed, with a temper like my father’s once was.
But Lena...little darling Lena, with her wide eyes and her flushed, chubby cheeks: she used to rescue spiders from the pavement to keep them getting squashed; quiet, thoughtful Lena, with the sweetest lisp to break your heart. To break my heart: my wild, uncured, erratic, incomprehensible heart. I wonder whether her front teeth still overlap a little; whether she still confuses the words pretzel and pencil occasionally; whether the wispy brown hair grew straight and long, or began to curl.
I wonder whether she believes the lies they told her.
I, too, am a liar now. I’ve become one, of necessity. I lie when I smile and return an empty tray. I lie when I ask for the Book of Shhh, pretending to have repented.
I lie just by being here, on my cot, in the dark.
Soon, it will be over. Soon, I will escape.
And then the lies will end.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

FAQ Part II!

Hey guys,
Here's the answers to more questions that you had! 

What books are coming up for you? 
My second book for middle-grade readers, THE SPINDLERS, will be released in October of this year. In the spring of 2013, the last book in my Delirium series, Requiem, comes out; and after that...who knows! I'm working on a teen standalone right now but it's in its very early stages.

How do you come up with names for your characters?
With difficulty! I keep lists of names I like, street names, and place names on my computer. But sometimes I just mix-and-match the names of people I know! 

How old were you when you started writing?
I started writing pretty much as soon as I was old enough to hold a pen and read on my own. My first stories were spin-offs of the books I loved, like CS Lewis and the Redwall series.

How is Hana's name pronounced?
I pronounce it Hah-na (the way a British person might!), but most people say Hana to rhyme with the last syllable of banana, which is fine too. She's used to it!

How do you overcome obstacles/writers block?
Discipline, discipline, discipline. I've trained myself to write every day, no matter what. And remember: the first drafts don't have to be good, or even readable!

Hope this helps!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here in Brooklyn, the weather can't seem to make up its mind about what season it is. Just when I get to put on my flip flops and remember to shave my legs, walking everywhere with an iced coffee in hand, the sky turns gray and I'm back in the house wearing sweaters again.
Spring is always a mixed-up season that can't decide if it wants to be sunny and flowery and pink, or gray and rainy and mossy. I happen to love both kinds of spring, and apparently so so a lot of other writers. Poets especially seem to latch onto something about the transience of the season. Here are some great spring poems, what are your favorites?

[in Just-]
by E.E. Cummings
in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and




balloonMan whistles

Despite the somewhat creepy shadow-figure of the “goat-footed balloonman,” I think this is one of the most delicious spring poems, mostly because of the language. What is spring if not “mud-lucious” and “puddle-wonderfull”?

From “Two Tramps in Mud Time”
by Robert Frost
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And fronts the wind to unruffle a plume
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake: and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn’t blue,
But he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheel rut’s now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don’t forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The perfect description of the tricks the weather plays this time of year. I love the idea of a bluebird advising the flowers on the best time to bloom.

by Lisel Mueller

This year spring and summer decided
to make it quick, roll themselves into one
season of three days
and steam right out of the winter.
In the front yard the reluctant
magnolia buds lost control
and suddenly stood wide open.
Two days later their pale pink silks
heaped up around the trunk
like cast-off petticoats.

Remember how long spring used to take?
And how long from the first locking of fingers
to the first real kiss?
And after that
the other eternity, endless motion
toward the undoing of a button?

I've been feeling this way a lot about the seasons in general, but especially Spring. They used to seem so endless! I love how Mueller uses spring as a metaphor to describe something more specific: the way intimacy, both in our perceptions and behaviors, also evolves as we get older. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Exciting Spindlers News!

I just got the amazingly exciting news that my new book "The Spindlers" got a starred Kirkus review! This is such a wonderful moment for me, and I'm so excited for it to be released. Review is Below!

Liza must venture Below to rescue her little brother's soul, stolen by evil, power-hungry spider people called spindlers, in this refreshingly creepy, intricately woven tale. 
A concealed hole in the wall behind a narrow bookcase in her family's basement is her entry, and amid loud scratching noises, Liza trips, falling down into the darkness Below. Mirabella, a giant rat who wears newspaper for a skirt, becomes her trusted guide to the spindlers' nests, which Liza must reach before the Feast of the Souls. But things are never what they seem in Oliver's vividly imagined world. ... An arduous, dangerous and fantastical journey ensues. As in the author's first terrific book for middle-grade readers, Liesl & Po (2011), there is a smorgasbord of literary references, including strong echoes of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is laced with humor and engaging wordplay, as well as riddles and death-defying tests and enchantments. Wholly original creatures populate the tale, some reassuring and wise, like the nocturni and lumer-lumpen, others wonderfully macabre (and ferocious), like the queen of the spindlers and the shape-shifting scawgs. In the course of her episodic quest, Liza discovers she is resourceful and brave; she sees things differently than before.
Richly detailed, at times poetic, ultimately moving; a book to be puzzled over, enjoyed and, ideally, read aloud. 

Find out more about the book at it's page on Goodreads!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I get so many e-mails that begin with people saying “I'm embarrassed to ask this...” or “this is probably stupid but...”. This is unfortunate for two reasons. 1) There's no such thing as a stupid question! (Unless the question is: "Do I look fat?" Stop worrying so much about how you look! And stop seeking external validation!) and 2) So many of my readers who pose “embarrassing” questions are, in fact, in very good company. 
In an attempt to end the embarrassment, here are some questions I get asked all the time, and some answers to go with them!

 I'm glad that you're all as excited about the movie as I am! It's especially gratifying to know how many of you identify so strongly with Lena's character. It's comforting to know there's so many smart, thoughtful, loving--and, of course, butt-kicking--girls out there! Unfortunately, I have very little input into the process of casting; in fact, the casting decisions lie with the producers and the studio. I encourage all of you burgeoning actresses to direct your passion to local plays/productions and open auditions...and, of course, if you're down to write and star in your own version of Delirium, I'm all about it!

Requiem is finished, but it needs to be edited, designed, shipped, etc. It usually takes about a year from the time a book leaves my computer to the time it hits shelves! So please be patient. It’s worth the wait, I promise! :)

You guys know I'm not going to give anything away, right? That would spoil all the fun! All I will say is that unlike the first two books in the trilogy, Requiem is told from the point of view of two different characters. Other then that, you're gonna have to trust me that there's a lot of fun surprises, and the return of some characters that we haven't seen since Delirium!

Not because they're paying me to - not that I'm complaining. :) I have to write. I have a very deep and compelling desire to write that I can't really turn off, so I'm very lucky and grateful that my life has turned out the way it has. Otherwise I'd probably be a failed back-up dancer and/or a very disgruntled waitress.

Anything you're still dying to know? Email me at laurenoliverbooks@gmail.com and put FAQ in the subject line, and I'll do a Part II soon!

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.