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Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Collaboration Writing Challenge!!!

I was so impressed by the submissions to the Spindlers Writing Contest that I had an idea: how about we work on a short story together?! 

Here's how it will work... today I'm going to post the opening paragraph of a middle grade story. You guys will have a week to submit your ideas for the next 200 words of the story to laurenoliverbooks@gmail.com. I'll pick the one I think works the best, post it...and then we'll keep repeating the process!

Occasionally, I might put some of my own writing into the story, or give you a specific feedback if I think the story is faltering or needs more action or more context or whatever. We'll aim for a FULL story, of about 5,000 words, that makes SENSE.  This will be a real collaboration: a group narrative that we all shape together.

I'm really excited about this! Who's with me? Read the first paragraph below.... and let me know what happens next! And as always, please keep it to 200 words! And make sure to get it in by July 6th!

Molly Lampart's 12th birthday was much like every other day, only more boring: first tea with the governess and a posed photograph with her parents, then a procession of girls who giggled and brought china dolls wrapped in pink paper, despite the fact that Molly hated pink and that most of her dolls ended up dissected for medical research purposes. There was no sneaking out the door to climb trees in the narrow, well-tended backyard, or hanging out her window hollering at the trains steaming into the station two blocks away, or helping Tabby chase rats from the cellar. 

It was a day to be quickly forgotten, except for one thing: 

On Molly's 12th birthday, just as evening was starting to turn the sky the exact color pink Molly particularly despised, the emerald train arrived, seemingly out of nowhere.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Spindlers Sneak Peek!

Last week so many people wrote in with amazing ideas in the Spindlers Writing Challenge. Now that we've seen some of them, I thought I'd give a sneak peek of the real book! Enjoy!

One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated her and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. 
She could not describe the difference. He looked the same, and was wearing the same pair of ratty space-alien pajamas, with the same fat toe sticking out of the hole in the left foot of his red socks, and he came down the stairs exactly the same way the real Patrick would have done: bump, bump, bump, sliding on his rump.
But he was not the same.
In fact, he was quite, quite different.
It was something in the way he looked at her: It was as though someone had reached behind his eyes and wrung away all the sparkle, leaving only a blank gaze. He walked quietly--too quietly--to the table, sat nicely in his chair, and placed a napkin on his lap.
The real Patrick never used a napkin.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Spindlers Writing Challenge Results!

I want to start out this post by saying that this prompt led to some of the best writing, from a bunch of talented writers, that I've received yet! I had the hardest time narrowing it down to just four submissions to post on here. So really, a huge thank you to all of you! You are IMMENSELY talented and, in fact, I fear now you'll be disappointed by the actual "real" beginning of the Spindlers. Ha! I'm going to have to have you all ghost write my books more often. ;)

Untitled by Samuel Szetela

He was, in fact, a Spindle. Of course, Liza had no way of actually knowing that the lanky, skinny, shifty thing that used to be Patrick was something called a Spindle. But make no mistake, that’s exactly what Patrick had become.
He announced his new identity by leaning over Liza’s puffy-looking, sleeping face. His body swayed back and forth, like a candle flame. He stared until Liza woke up with a start.
Well, it was more like a scream – the kind that can blow out a candle or shatter expensive crystal. Luckily, all Liza had to her name was a duffel bag filled with hand-me-down clothes and an old photo album with faded pictures of her father and mother. The orphanage had strict rules about clutter, after all.
Still, the edges of the photos just may have curled a bit more before Liza’s scream came to an abrupt end when Patrick put his skeletal-like fingers over her mouth.
“Hush now, Liza. It’s me, Patrick.” His eyes glittered mischievously. “A magician was here last night. She said she would help me find out what happened to Mum and Dad in the mines. What do you think? Are you coming with me?”

What I love here is that Sam sets up a whole story in these first few sentences. Just from 200 words we are introduced to something called a Spindle (and I love the description!), a world with magicians, and some kind of mystery/tragedy with Liza and Patricks parents. I really want to read the rest of this story!

Untitled by Kristi Chestnutt

It took but two words for her to know something was wrong—two small, tiny, insignificant words that every other normal human being uttered every day of their lives. But not her brother. Not usually. Not ever.
She wasn’t sure which was worse, the way he walked by and casually said “Good morning,” or the way he smiled at her. Smiled! In the morning!
There was no smart remark, no jabbing of his elbow into her back as he walked by, no comment on the outfit she’d picked out to wear for school today. And as tempting as it was to ignore the sudden change of attitude, to just go with it, she couldn’t. Everything about this new easy-going Patrick was wrong. Right down to the way he was eating his pancakes without dripping syrup all over his chin.

Creepy huh? I love the way that this one mixes classic horror elements with comedy. The subtle overnight change of someone you love is a terrifying thing, but the indicators that Kristi uses to demonstrate Patrick's change are so funny. Being polite in the morning? Totally scary!

Untitled by Jamie Borenstein-Laurie

It was a metamorphosis down to his very core, an irrevocable transformation—all, it seemed, in the silence of a single, muggy summer night.
Gone was Patty (a nickname he loathed), the boy without a single care. The outrageously witless and foolhardy younger brother that she knew down to the very last detail of his outlandish dreams. Her partner in crime and trustworthy confidant—thieved away from her before she could truly appreciated his worth.
Now, he was quiet…keeping himself hidden behind a veil of slightly greasy hair and the single (first!) pimple above his left eyebrow.
Now, he shuffled awkwardly on too-long limbs and canoe-sized feet, bulging joints knocking.
Now, he was a creature decidedly teenage-boy-ish…hidden away behind a closed bedroom door, barely offering a word.
And Liza was a lone mourner, yearning for the times when her little brother was…well, little. Patrick the Youthful was nothing but a memory, trapped behind the glass of a dusty picture frame.

This story took an interesting direction with the idea of transformation. I love that instead of a literal sudden physical transformation, it used the opening line to talk about how sudden growing up can feel, even when it's not. It did a great job with interpreting the prompt, it really goes to show how many different places the imagination can go.

Untitled by Kate Ormand

One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated her and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not.
He was the complete opposite of his usual self: he wasn’t annoying; he wasn’t funny; he wasn’t anything. His face was sunken, which wouldn’t be noticeable to the average person, but Liza was his sister and she spotted these things. She could see the way his skin was paler, and the dark rings that hung like gloomy shadows below his eyes.
Patrick sat on a chair at the kitchen table. His dry, thinning hands were placed flat on either side of an empty plate. He wasn’t moving, doing nothing other than staring vacantly ahead at the dreary, beige wallpaper.
“Patrick?” He didn’t answer, didn’t even acknowledge her. She bit her lip. Trying another approach she said: “pancakes for breakfast?”
He would usually jump from his seat at the mention of pancakes. But not today.
Patrick turned his head slowly to face her, there was something almost mechanical about his movements. His eyes didn’t shift, he didn’t blink.
A black spider crawled over his hand and straight up the sleeve of his pajama top. Liza suppressed a scream, her fear of spiders being no secret, but Patrick didn’t flinch. His gaze didn’t even waver.

Again... super creepy! This passage was really terrifying. Kate uses imagery very effectively here to paint a picture of what kind of horrible transformation has overcome Patrick. The spider at the end is an especially wonderful gruesome touch!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Underground Spaces

My friend e-mailed me today with an article about a proposed new underground park for New York City. The images are pretty spectacular  on their own, but the real reason she sent it to me is that the majority of "The Spindlers" takes place in a crazy topsy-turvy underground world. I started wondering about real-life underground spaces. What was out there? What kinds of things are hidden below the surface? Turns out... some pretty amazing stuff! Some of them are man made, some are totally natural, but they all have a strange other-worldly feeling about them. Check out what I found, and let me know if I missed anything!

First, the Proposals for the New York City "Low Line"
This is the Stockholm Subway... kind of creepy huh?
Never mind... THIS is creepy. The Paris Catacombs
This is a picture of the Crystal Caves in Mexico. 

This is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, in Cundinamarca, Colombia. The entire room there is carved out of Salt!
The Lava Tube Cave in Tulelake, California. I think it looks like it's leading to fairy land.
The Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, China. I think this one looks like an Alien Planet. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Favorite First Lines

A couple of days ago I announced the new Writing Challenge, in which asked you guys to take the first sentence of my new book The Spindlers and write the next 200 words. This got me thinking about first lines in general.It's amazing that sometimes the very first words leap straight off the page and into your heart. So to help further inspire you all in your writing, here are some of my favorite first lines in books! I'd love to hear what some of yours are!

And don't forget to get me your challenge submissions by 6.20.12!

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road and met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo...
-James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember the distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
--One Hundred Years of solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were normal, thank you very much.
--Harry Potter, dur

Strike spotted her: baby fat, baby face, Shanelle or Shanette, fourteen years old maybe, standing there with that queasy smile, trying to work up the nerve.
--Clockers, Richard Price

It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think he or she is wonderful.
--Roald Dahl, Matilda

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Very Special Spindlers Writing Challenge!

Hey guys! So... I've decide to quit writing and join the circus instead. Ha ha, just kidding--there's no way I'm walking the tight rope. But I am going to let you all take a swing at writing my forthcoming book "The Spindlers!"

Here's what's up: For the new Writing Challenge I'm going to provide you all the first sentence of The Spindlers as a prompt...and I want all of you to tell me what the next 200 words will be! This time you only have ONE WEEK to get me your amazing ideas, and I'll post some of my favorites on this blog! Remember, stick to the 200 word limit--you don't want your fab writing to get disqualified because you went too far over.

Next week, after the challenge is over, I'll reveal the REAL first paragraph of The Spindlers! So hurry up and get me your pieces by 6/20/12... I can't wait to read them!

The first line of The Spindlers is...
"One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated her and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday With My Friends... and books... and chocolate!)


I can't think of a better way to pass a Saturday than among friends, at one of my favorite bookstores, laughing, chatting, and talking books. The crowd that showed up to Books and Wonder yesterday to see me and six of my for-real friends (Jess Rothenberg - The Catastrophic History of You and Me, Courtney Sheinmel - All the Things You Are, Rebecca Serle - When You Were Mine, Kate Ellison - The Butterfly Clues, Elizabeth Miles - Fury, Lauren Morrill - Meant to Be, Lenore Appelhans - Level 2discuss books, both past and upcoming, was both engaged and engaging, and our moderator, the lovely owner of the bookstore, Peter, stimulated a lively discussion about everything from e-readers to drafting to categorizing books.

It was a particular joy for me to be sitting at a table with some of the most talented, generous, and mutually supportive women I've ever met, and to know that I am dedicating my life to the industry that first bonded us.

The panel concluded with a lively signing, an awesome raffle of some of fall's hottest galleys, and, more importantly, CHOCOLATE!

Thanks to everyone who came out. You rock my world. And for the rest of you...I better see you next time!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Liesl and Po Paperback Cover Reveal!

So the exciting news for today is that Liesl and Po is available to pre-order in paperback! And maybe it's just my proud book-mama instincts, but isn't that a beautiful cover? I love all the magic spilling out of the box! What do you guys think?

Monday, June 4, 2012

BEA Events!

It's that time of the year again, peeps--a special time of inedible food and delicious books, of authors and impossible taxi lines, of Javitz Center bathrooms and a race for free galleys! That's right...Book Expo America is here! For the first time, BEA will be open to the general public, so I hope I get a chance to see y'all at one of my events below. Happy BEA week!

Tuesday, June 5th:
2:00-2:30 pm   The Spindlers signing (Table 8)
My new book! Come by, check it out, and say hey!

Thursday, June 7th:
11:00-11:30 am    Middle Grade Panel:  Writing Strong Female Characters in Middle Grade Books   (Uptown Stage)
This is a topic that's very important to me, so it's a real honor to have been selected for this panel. Come by to hear my thoughts, as well as those of Sharon Creech, Shannon Messenger, Jennifer M. Brown, and Judith Viost.

Saturday, June 9th:
 12 p.m.-2 p.m. Books of Wonder
Lauren Oliver and Friends Saturday Extravaganza!
I posted about this before, but I'm mentioning it again because THAT'S HOW EXCITED I AM! Seriously, I get to hang out with my good friends and with all of you guys (because it's open to everyone!)... I'm thinking best afternoon ever!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Announcing Lauren Oliver and Friends!

Hey Guys,
I'm really excited to announce that on Saturday June 9,th I'm hosting an extra-special event at Books of Wonder in NYC!
Why is it extra special, you ask?
Firstly, because Books of Wonder is one of my all-time favorite independent bookstores. If you've never been there and you're in the New York City area, you should really make a pit-stop there some afternoon. It's got a fantastic selection of children's and young adult books... not to mention maple walnut cupcakes! 'Nuff said.
Secondly, (SPOILER ALERT!) the event is called Lauren Oliver & Friends, and it's actually not a literary exaggeration! I really am reading with a bunch of my friends, including my BFF since 8th grade, Elizabeth Miles, and the fabulous Jess Rothenberg, who honored me by inviting me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. It's so special for me to be able to share the fun with such a large group of brilliant, kind, and talented young women.
Below I've posted some banner images about the event for all of you book bloggers and facebook users. Please spread the word, and I can't WAIT to see you all there!

Here's the Facebook page for the event:


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.