Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Let's celebrate with a FREE BOOK!

It's here!

Sadly, Halloween is on a Monday, which means I'm not dressed up or planning on doing anything spectacular tonight other than going to bed early. I live in an apartment building in Cambridge, so we don't get any trick-or-treaters (though I will buy one bag of candy just in case, and then eat it all myself when we, once again, don't get any knocks at the door).

We did do a little Halloween celebrating this weekend, when we got together with a couple friends and volunteered as chaperones for the annual Halloween Dance hosted by the Boston Alliance for GLBT Teens. The dance is meant to provide a safe, fun, bully-free space for youth to celebrate the holiday. It was a little hard for me to believe I was at a Halloween dance as a chaperone, but it was actually really fun. Watching a bunch of wicked cool, be-costumed GLBT Teens and Allies lose their mind to Katy Perry's Firework might be the most adorable thing I've ever seen.

The chaperones were encouraged to dress up, so I ran to the costume shop and picked up two little items to make a kickass costume:

Amelia Earhart!
Being a chaperone required a non-slutty, youth-appropriate Halloween costume (plus being a derby girl, the novelty of going outside without pants on has long since worn off....), so this was a perfect costume for a history nerd like me. Plus, it was comfortable and warm! BONUS!

Anyway, Halloween fun was had by all. But the holiday is not over yet, so I want to spread some more Halloween cheer! As I mentioned last night on Twitter, I'm giving away a copy of Possess by Gretchen McNeil. Gretchen is a fellow Apocalypsie (and shares the coolest name ever with my mom!). Possess is a super creepy, really engaging mystery/thriller that I think is totally in the spirit of the holiday, and if you haven't read it, you definitely need to.

Since this is a Halloween giveaway, and today is Halloween, we're doing this quick and dirty. All you have to do is comment on this post by midnight (um, the witching hour!), and you're entered to win! And while you're commenting, why don't you tell me your all-time favorite Halloween costume (links to pictures would be AWESOME). I'll announce the winner tomorrow and will ship the book out to you asap. Tweeting and Facebook sharing is always appreciated, but this time around it'll just be out of the kindness of your own heart.

I think Amelia is up there with my all-time fave costumes, but here's a good one my mom made me when I was just 2 (maybe 3?).

That's lil Lauren as a ladybug, in a costume lovingly made by my mom. I was pretty cute, huh? Hope you all have a fantastic holiday filled with candy and super-scary books (like Possess! Enter to win!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This post is brought to you by...

I subscribe to several fashion blogs. This is weird on a number of levels. First of all, I'm only "stylish" if jeans, tees, tanks, flip flops, or ballet flats happen to be in season. Which I think means I'm fashionable for a few months every couple of years. And I'm totally fine with that. If I had lots of money, I'd buy the entirety of an Anthropologie store, but beyond that, I just can't bring myself to get that into fashion. I think the blogs are just pretty inspiration for me and my writing. Besides, I may not be stylish, but some of my characters are. I owe it to them to dress them in something other than jeans and ballet flats.

But this isn't a post about fashion. It's a post about sponsorships. Because on fashion blogs, you'll always see "Dress c/o..." or "Shoes courtesy of..." or "This outfit brought to you by..." Jessica Quirk of What I Wore is a tremendous hustler when it comes to sponsorships. She's got Modcloth and Timex and Coach on the regular, plus all the fabulous other freebies she stumbles across (btw, Jessica and I both went to IU, graduated in the same year, and she was in the same sorority as one of my very best friends ... also, she dated one of my boyfriend's best friends, so we were in the same circle, but never met. That can happen at a gigantic state school...)

So all that is to say that I'm now thinking about what it would be like to be a sponsored author. What brands would I want to hawk on my writing blog?

Who amongst all ye writers out there wouldn't give your first born book to be sponsored by Apple? To have iPads and iPhones and MacBook Airs just APPEAR in your mailbox? I would vlog EVERY. DAY. OF. MY. LIFE. and wear only tee shirts with the Apple logo and make all my characters Mac nerds just to get sponsored by the almighty Apple.

And it's not just lusting over the shiny products. I use the time on my iPhone to do word sprints when I'm first drafting. 10 and 15 minute increments are perfect for getting words on the page. I use the Evernote app to keep track of ideas and brainstorms when I'm on the go. I write using Scrivener on my MacBook Air and my shiny new iMac. If I had an iPad? Oh the writing I could do on the go


Post-Its are a necessity for me during my revision process, mostly because I revise on a hard copy. Thus, I print out the entire beast of a manuscript and set about flagging all the passages that need adjustment. This helps me visualize my progress and also not miss an important revision. If Post-It were to sponsor my writing, I could have a rainbow of stickies in all shapes and sizes. I could have the ruled notepads for outlining, the little flags for revisions, the fun shapes for drafting.


Ok, I think I need my life should be sponsored by Coke, but my writing definitely owes a lot that fizzy beverage, too. I think about 93% of Meant to Be was brought to you by a very large Coke. I prefer a fountain Coke (preferably from McDonald's. Did you know they have their own formula of Coke? It's seriously the best), followed by a nice cold can. I really hate the 20oz plastic bottles. I think they go flat really fast and just don't taste as good. And yes, I'm more than a little crazy when it comes to my consumption of Coca-Cola.

What are your author brands? Your can't-live-without-them writing products?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Favorite Book Covers

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that last week my editor sent me a couple proofs for the cover of Meant to Be. I believe the postings all had a lot of capital letters and exclamation points ... you definitely couldn't miss them. There were about three different cover designs in different colors, adding up to seven total proofs.

I supposed the number one question I've been asked since I sold the book is, "Do you get to pick the cover?" The answer is no, but it's a little more complicated. The cover is made by an incredible talented graphic designer (thanks Heather!), who collaborates with my editor to get it just right. But marketing of course can get involved, as can actual booksellers like Barns & Noble and Amazon. When I received the proofs, I wrote back with my opinions, but I knew that while the folks at Random House are kind and listen to what I have to say, the decision is ultimately up to them.

Luckily, all seven of the cover options ROCKED. And though I have a favorite, I'd be wicked psyched to see any of them on the shelves at my local Barnes & Noble. I wish I could share it with you, but that's a ways off. For now, I'm going to leave you with a selection of some of my favorite book covers ... since I loved what Heather at Random House did so much, I guess you could say this collection of amazing covers serves as a bit of a hint!

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
The paperback cover is widely known to be an epic fail (even John Green says so), but the original hardback cover was unique and fresh. It captured the spirit of the book and the characters, and definitely made me want to read it before I really even knew how great John Green is. And best of all? Dutton is re-releasing the paperback version, and they're hosting a contest for fans to design the new cover! I also think the cover to his upcoming book, The Fault in Our Stars, is bold and badass, too.

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
I love Sarah Dessen books. I don't always love the covers. This one, though, perfectly encapsulates everything that is sweet and delicate and perfect about This Lullaby.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I had almost no early interest in this book until I saw the cover. It's both beautiful and haunting. And where can I buy this dress?

Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
I LOVE GRAPHIC COVERS! I strongly prefer them to photos. The brighter the colors, the quirkier the design, the more it looks like it could be for sale on Etsy, the better. This looks like a print I want for the wall of my office, not just a book cover.

I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) by Lauries Notaro
If a book is going to have a photo of a person on it, though, I prefer not seeing the face. I know, the decapitated cover girl is kind of an overused trope, but there's a reason. It gets in the way of a reader imagining the character (or even better, imagining herself as the character), when there's already such a clear example of who that person is. Also, if you haven't read anything by Laurie Notaro, I highly recommend it. Her memoirs are a scream, and I've read this one maybe three times.

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
I love the paperback cover for Gimme a Call. The colors. The outfit. The vintage phone. The fonts. It all comes together to look like a book that will jump straight of the shelves and into my bag.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
It's pretty hard to have your book cover suck when the name on the front is Ransom Riggs. Ransom freakin' Riggs. And this book cover doesn't disappoint. What looks, at first glance, like a simple cover, is actually really complex and visually interesting. I just keep looking and looking, drawn in by so many elements of the picture.

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham
Hilary is a fellow Apocalypsie, and I got to see this cover on her iPhone not long after she received it. I was already intrigued by the premise of Reunited, but I'm not an ounce ashamed to say that the moment I saw this cover, I was like, "Yup, going to read this one on release day." Perhaps I'm a very specific breed of YA fan, but when I see a cover like this, I just  know the book is going to be my cup of tea. It's bright and cute, stylish but not cheesy, and gives me a sense of the characters without serving them to me on a silver platter. I can't wait to read Reunited for the book cover alone.

And a final shoutout to all the UK covers of all the Sarah Dessen novels. If I could have book covers like these, I'd be fine just locking myself in a room and staring at them all day long. Aren't they just lovely?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'll read anything by ...

This post is brought to you by the last week, when I picked up Past Perfect, burned through it in about 2 days, then promptly got Mostly Good Girls, which I read in another 2 days. And now? Now I'll read anything Leila Sales writes. Ever.

A couple quick reviews:

Past Perfect is ... oh god, I'm going to do it ... well, it's perfect. I mean, the book is about teenagers who work at a Colonial Reenactment Village, and they stage a summer-long war with the kids who work at the Civil War Reenactment camp across the street. Oh, and there's a little Romeo and Juliet going on there, too. It's sweet and funny and swoony, and then at the end, it pack an incredible emotional punch.

When I finished, I wanted more of the Leila Sales voice. MORE I SAY! I grabbed her debut novel, Mostly Good Girls. MGG isn't about anything, in the traditional sense. There's no twist or hook or interesting plot device. It's essentially a book about friendship and growing up. But this book is all voice. It's Opera, I tell you. Voilet, the main character, leaps off the page. It reads as if you're hanging out in a coffee shop and Violet is just filling you on life, with lots of snarky sarcasm and jokes to color the story. MGG reminded me that you can write a perfect YA novel without any ghosts or vampires or characters getting amnesia or nearly dying. You can write a perfect YA novel that's just about getting through every day as a teenage girl. Can I say perfect again? It's perfect. PERFECT!

So Leila Sales? Yeah, she goes on the list. I will preorder anything she writes from now until forever. I want her characters to sit on my couch and be my friends and just talk to me while we eat brownies and drink root beer. Leila Sales joins a pretty great list ... these are the authors for whom I will preorder YEARS in advance if I have to.

John Green
John Green has definitely never written a miss. All hits. Top 40. Beatles, I Wanna Hold Your Hand-style hits. Don't ask me to pick a favorite. I really don't understand people who do ... how did you make that choice, Sophie?

Courtney Summers 
I picked up Cracked Up To Be at my local library a couple years ago, based solely on the cover. I'd never heard a word about it, and I didn't even read the blurb on the back. I just threw it on my stack and headed to the check out desk. I've been a CS fan ever since. The emotional weight to her writing and the grit to her characters makes reading her books an experience. Her upcoming book is a bit of a detour for her (it's about zombies), but I'll read it anyway. And even though zombies scare me and I'm not a big paranormal fan, I'm pretty sure it'll be excellent.

Megan McCafferty 
Here's another author whose voice is so strong I'll read her even if she writes a YA novel about centipedes. Those would be some damn funny centipedes, I tell you. I'm really looking forward to the Bumped sequel.

Sarah Dessen
Her novels are like big, fluffy quilts. Comfortable, homey, perfect for a snow day or a rainy day or a beach day. Her characters are sweet and relatable, and the fact that she brings old ones back for cameo appearances makes reading them a little bit like an Easter egg hunt, except instead of chocolate you get to find out what Remy and Dexter have been up to.

Stephanie Perkins 
SWOON. 'nuff said. (Is Isla out yet? Is it????)

Sarah Ockler
Her books are a lot like Dessen books, in that I always know it's going to be a fun, funny, comforting experience to read whatever she writes. I nearly broke my mouse adding The Language of Impossible Dreams on GoodReads (as if a good, hearty click will make it come faster!)

QUESTION: Who are your "must preorder" authors? Leave your answers in the comments!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Work, and lots of it

For the past year and a half, I've been really fortunate to work only part-time, so that I dedicate a lot of time to writing my first novel. Right about the time that Meant to Be landed in my lap, I saw a posting for an amazing part-time job in my field that paid really well and ... well, it just all worked out (you can read more about that here ... it was a big decision to leave my full-time job). Lucky me! So I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9-3:30 every week, and I wrote all day on Mondays and Fridays.

Or at least, that was the plan...

I learned a few things about myself over the last year and a half. The first is that excessive time is my enemy. The more time I have to waste, the more time I'll waste. And man, am I champion time waster. Often on those magical Mondays and Fridays, I wouldn't start at my computer until 6 ... PM! And if I had something due on Friday ... well, let's just say I'm not making the best use of all my days. Another thing I learned about myself is that it turns out that there's nothing like the crushing threat of an impending deadline to really get my creative juices flowing. I wrote nearly all of Meant to Be in the days leading up to various deadlines.

What I'm saying is that my part-time job and time off was starting to feel a little ... indulgent. Slovenly. Just plain lazy. Sure, I ran errands and did housewife stuff and took the dog to the park several times a day, but the purpose of the part-time job was to actually be WRITING.

I'm bringin' back the classic navy JanSport backpack for my daily writing/commute (er, maybe not...)
So when a full-time job came open in my office (which I love, by the way), I jumped on it. And today marks the first day of my return to the 9-5, Monday-Friday work force. And I'm PSYCHED about it (not least of all because a full-time paycheck is pretty great, but also because I love my office and the people I work with). I've got my MacBook Air in my backpack ready to write for a half hour around lunchtime, and I'll be using my evenings more fruitfully to get stuff done. Because when there's only a few free hours, I've got not choice but to fill them with writing.

Lucy wishes I would have kept the part-time job
Oh, and one last thing before I start organizing my snazzy new office (pictures to come, of course!). I posted this over on my Tumblr (are you following my Tumblr? Because you totally should). Random House made an It Gets Better video! I was always insanely proud to be a Random House author, but this just makes it even better.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In love with Lola

I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door last night, and I couldn't even begin to wipe the stupid grin off my face. What a perfectly sweet yet totally realistic depiction of love and teen relationships. I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can say about Lola that hasn't already been said by every other person in the book blogosphere (seriously, people are going bananas over this book, and rightly so). So I'll just leave it at saying it was a perfect book, and it lived up to every expectation I had. Stephanie Perkins, you are a goddess. If I ever meet you, I might have to quote one of my favorite flicks, Notting Hill:

Oh God, this is one of those key moments in life, when it's possible you can be really, genuinely cool - and I'm failing 100%. I absolutely and totally and utterly adore you and I think you're the most beautiful woman in the world and more importantly I genuinely believe, and have believed for some time now, that we can be best friends. What do YOU think?

Please don't be afraid of me, Stephanie Perkins
 Now let's get down to some business. My YA book collection is growing a little faster than my lil Boston apartment can handle. The husband has started giving me the side-eye every time I come home with a new book, which means it's time to pare down my collection. So lucky you guys, I'm going to start giving away books! Here's just a few that I have to send out into the world:
And there may be more added to the list! These are all shiny new hardcovers, not ARCs, read by me. I totally fell in love with all of them (seriously, these are amongst the best books I read this year), but if my collection of books starts to creep off the bookcase that contains it, husband's side-eye will turn to the evil-eye. And frankly, there's way too many fabulous debuts coming up to go on a book-buying ban.

So how can you get one of these books? Stay tuned to Twitter (follow me @laurenemorrill), where throughout the week I'll be letting you know when I'm giving something away. Easy as that! No need for comments or Google forms. Just watch and wait, and you could end up with a fabulous YA title in your mailbox.

UPDATE: For those who may have missed the first tweet ... as soon as this blog hits 100 followers, I'll give away The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer! So if you're reading this and not following, go click on that little Google Friend Connect button on the right sidebar. As soon as we hit 100, I'll announce a giveaway via Twitter!

And since this post is woefully short on pictures, please enjoy this ridiculous shot of my smiling puppy, Lucy. I call this her "senior portrait."

Lucy at the park