Monday, December 26, 2011

Favorite Books In 2011

Christmas Morning!
Christmas has passed, and mine was spectacular. I hope yours was too! And now, with 2011 creeping to a close, it's time for the traditional reading wrap-up! My tally at this point is somewhere in the low 60s, but since I'm spending the rest of 2011 on vacation, I'll probably add a couple more books to the list (I'm almost done with Jennifer Weiner's Then Came You, a rare grown-up read that I'm totally digging ... JW knows characters). You'll notice everything on my list is contemporary, because even though I'll make the brief foray into paranormal, contemp is my one true love.

Mostly Good Girls/Past Perfect by Leila Sales
This was a great year for me discovering new authors for The List. For those unfamiliar, The List is the collection of authors who I'll read anything that they write ever. John Green, Sarah Dessen, Courtney Summers ... and now Leila Sales. Her books are the embodiment of a fresh, fun voice, and I can't wait to see what comes next

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I lusted after this book from the second I finished Anna and the French Kiss. It's one of the first books I've ever pre-ordered, and I ran home through a monsoon without an umbrella just to make sure I could get the Amazon box off my front stoop. Stephanie Perkins wrote one of the most swoon-worthy contemp YA boys I've ever read. Oh Cricket Bell ... sigh

If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman
It takes a lot to make me cry while reading. In fact, I think it's only ever happened to me 2 or 3 times in my whole life. So imagine my surprise when I'm sitting in my neighborhood burger joint, sobbing like a baby. I had to get my fries to go and bolt home before I thoroughly embarrassed myself! And if Cricket Bell is one of the most swoon-worthy boys I've ever read, I think Adam is THE most swoon-worthy YA guy I've ever read EVER. TEAM ADAM!

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Sarah Ockler is another other author who joined The List this year. I picked up Fixing Delilah, then promptly moved on to Twenty Boy Summer. Ockler definitely sits on the shelf beside Sarah Dessen, writing really heartfelt contemporary. I already preordered Bittersweet!

Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski
I was on a trip and out of books to read, so I ran to the nearby Target and picked this one up. I thought I was getting just another fun, funny contemp, but what I found was one of the single most realistic depiction of teenage sexuality and the teenage sexual experience ... with hilarity and heart! Which is definitely why her tweet about reading my book seriously made my heart explode! This is one I'll definitely keep and reread (and probably study for my own writerly ambitions!).

Jingle Dog says "Merry Christmas! Now get these damn bells off me!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

This post started about me being sick, and ended with AMAZING NEWS!

You guys, this Christmas season has really been kicking my behind! First I got heinously sick with an inner ear and throat infection that necessitated an antihistamine, an antibiotic, an inhaler, and nasal spray ... and two sick days that were the least enjoyable days off of work I've ever experienced.

Welcome to my world...

Then, after flying home to Tennessee to surprise my grandpa for his 80th birthday, both the Guy and I picked up a cold. Mine came and went pretty fast, but the Guy has been home sick for three straight days and is now coughing like he's got tuberculosis. I finally got him to go to the doctor this afternoon, so we'll see what becomes of that.

Then you add in lots of work (yay admissions season!), manic Christmas shopping, wrapping and shipping, and oh yeah, what was that one thing?

I have the outline for Book 2!

My trusty Rhodia notebook
Yep, everything's been approved, and I'm on to working away on Book 2! I've got a finalized outline due next week and am going to start writing over the winter break. This one's set in Montreal (one of my favorite cities!) and while there's definitely some juicy romance, this one is more about family and friendship and finding yourself. It's written with in two POVs, and I'm loving these characters. And I hope you will too! More info to come later, but for now just know that I'm working hard so that you can have this one in your hands sometime in 2013.

Oh, and I saw an updated proof of the Meant to Be cover ... IT. IS. SO. AMAZING! I can't wait to show it to you, but it'll probably be a while before the big reveal. I think they're still doing some tweaking on it. Also got to see a mock-up of my author bio page ... oh AND I'm getting new headshots taken on Dec 29th, so my face will be all bright and shiny on the back cover.

Um, and one more really cool thing ... What was it? Oh yeah, this:

Uh, yeah... I think that's pretty much all the news! *dies*

November 13, 2012 gets closer and closer every day!

*For anyone who misses my more regular blogging, feel free to follow me over on Tumblr, where there's some more fun micro-stuff ... once-a-week blogging is about all I can do with so much on my plate right now!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In which I turned 29, but sort of missed it

I went a whole week without blogging. Eek! But life in my world has been pretty insane-o lately. First, Thanksgiving travel, which was fun and delightful. Then back to work, where I discovered I had a wicked bad inner ear and throat infection. Two hideous sick days and several prescriptions later, and I was feeling marginally better, just in time for my 29th birthday.

Yep, that's right, I'm now in my very last year of my 20s (sob!). To be honest, I'm not one who gets all in a twist about getting older. It just feels weird to be almost 30 ... that doesn't seem right to me. But ultimately what matters is how you feel inside, and I feel about 23. So take that, 29!

Since I was still a little sick, we skipped doing any kind of fancy dinner for my birthday and instead just ordered Thai takeout and went to pick out our Christmas tree. The holiday season has begun in my house!

Oh, and there was cake, of course! Triple chocolate mousse separated by layers of flourless chocolate cake, from my very favorite bakery, Flour.

Very funny, my dear!

If you want to give me a gift for my birthday (because duh, why wouldn't you?), head on over to Goodreads and add Meant to Be to your to-read list. And guess what? I've seen cover comps, and they're AWESOME! Soon that little brown box will have a real live cover in it.

Speaking of book news, my editor approved the outline for book 2, and I'll be starting that right around Christmas (when I have a glorious 10 paid days off for the winter break ... thanks Harvard!). I'll share some info on it as soon as I get the a-ok (publishing is so full of secrets!), but it's another book set during travel, and this one is told from two perspectives! I'm really REALLY excited to get started on.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Holidaze

I'm in a post-Thanksgiving coma! 20 hours in the car round trip is EXHAUSTING, and I'm glad to be spending my Sunday vegging at home, reading Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, and smelling homemade enchiladas cooking. I even made my own margarita mix (simple syrup with lime/lemon/orange zest, the juice of many limes, 2 oranges, and 1 lemons, plus tequila).

I'm also starting to get the house ready for holiday decorations. We're getting a REAL. LIVE. TREE. this year, and I'm psyched to cover it with ornaments and have the scent of evergreen fill my house. This will only be the second time we've had our own tree. It usually seems like a big production to put it up and take it down, when we're gone for the whole week around Christmas. But this year we're doing Christmas in Boston!

Decorating back in 2009
Our very first Christmas tree, Bloomington, IN
And yes, the Christmas music is on full rotation. Currently enjoying "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses and "Christmas in Hollis" by RUN-DMC

Before I go, a huge thanks to Danya at A Tapestry of Words, who included Meant to Be in her Signed, Sealed, Delivered post on Thursday. So awesome to hear that people are looking forward to it! We're now officially less than a year from publication .. holy crap! SO. EXCITING!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lights, please? It's time to get psyched for the holidays!

Tomorrow I embark on a road trip from Boston to Ohio with Boy and dog in tow. I've got my laptop with AC adaptor charger, my notebook with many pens, and 9 library books to make the trip totally awesome. I never dread a long drive. We'll make it as far as we can tomorrow, stop for the night, then drive the rest of the way Thursday morning.

I'm not a big Thanksgiving fan. I love food and eating, but I have a relatively small appetite, so the dinner portion of the experience goes pretty fast for me. And believe it or not, I don't really like leftovers (I know... if you ever see me take leftovers home from a restaurant, it's because I'm too polite to have the waiter throw away my food. Instead I take it home in a box, leave it in my fridge for a day, THEN throw it away ... I suck).

For me, Thanksgiving has always been a day where the entire family hangs out in the family room, the parade followed by football is on tv, we eat, we snooze, we might eat again, we might play a board game, but mostly we just hang out. And that's awesome, but for me, Thanksgiving is just really the starter's pistol that sets me off and running towards the best holiday of all...

I love Christmas! December is so full of excitement for me, kicking off with my birthday on December 2. I set the tradition long ago that my birthday is the day I deck my house out for the holidays.

First, there's Christmas music, which I'll start listening to on the way home from Thanksgiving, whether the Boy and the dog like it or not! Confession: I love love LOVE Christina Aguilera's version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas! (warning, she gets a little off in this live version ... the album version gives me serious chills, though)

And of course, Mariah goes on heavy rotation:

I also love Christmas oldies, including "What Christmas Means to Me" and "Someday at Christmas" by Stevie Wonder. I'd share my Christmas playlist with you, but there's 167 songs on it... yes, I have a problem. No, I don't care to solve it.

But it doesn't just stop at Christmas music ... there's the Christmas movies, too!

I have an unending debate with my friend Patrick over whether or not Love Actually is a Christmas movie. I say absolutely yes (and so does Wikipedia!). He vehemently disagrees. Where do you guys fall on that one?

I also love watching Christmas Vacation ... enjoy this scene! (Not at work though ... NSFW due to language.)

I actually saw Elf in the theater, totally against my wishes, thinking it was just another stupid Will Ferrell kiddie movie. Oh how wrong I was. I love Elf! How could you not?

But the best of all....

A Charlie Brown Christmas. I love Linus, and during this scene my heart feels like it's going to burst from its chest and I get a lil tear in my eye. It's not Christmas until I've watched this very scene about ten bajillion times.

I'm also a big fan of All I Want for Christmas (an often-forgotten early 90s piece of awesome cinema), A Christmas Story, The Family Stone, The Holiday, It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged, The Muppet Christmas Carol (well, really ANY version of A Christmas Carol, except for the one with Jim Carrey ... no thank you), Rudolph and the stop-motion/claymation classics, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (ok, so not totally in the Christmas spirit, but I love it anyway).

Holy crap, just putting all this together is getting me so psyched up for the Christmas season.

BTW, one way I definitely WON'T be getting in the Christmas spirit? Black Friday. I've never participated, and I don't intend to. Ever. I will be trying to do the whole shop local thing for the holidays this year. I'll definitely be checking out my favorite local book shops to try and fill all my gift-giving needs!

So, what about you? Christmas music? Christmas movies? Baking Christmas cookies? How do you get in the holiday spirit?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I have been hiding ... and here's why

I'm woefully behind on NaNoWriMo. Like, possibly so far behind that without some kind of Popeye-inspired feat of strength and a hiccup in the time space continuum, I likely won't hit 50k by November 30th.

But here's the thing.

I'm not quitting.

I'm going to keep writing, and even if I only hit 20k or 15k on November 30, I'm still going to call that a win. Why? Because that's 20k or 15k more than I had on November 1. Progress! And that's what NaNoWriMo is really all about. And who knows, maybe with that never-say-die attitude, I might actually hit 50k during my epic Thanksgiving road trip to Ohio.

And now onto the why I'm not making my NaNoWriMo goals ... well, remember when I said I got a new job? Well, new job is AWESOME, but it is also BUSY. I work in admissions, our deadline is December 2 (which also happens to be my birthday). So I'm busy learning a brand new job while also working through the busiest and most stressful season of that job's year. So yeah, I haven't been getting my hour-long lunch-writing breaks in.

I've also been knee-deep in roller derby, even though it's the off-season. Long story short, the Boston Derby Dames have, in the past, practices at rinks and community centers all over the city. Lots of commuting, lots of hauling gear, lots of changing wheels to adapt to different types of floors. Well, as a member of the league executive board, I've been helping a team of skaters who are looking for a permanent home for our league. And we found one! We're going through the arduous legal process of securing a warehouse space in Somerville that we can call home.

The good news is that even though I haven't been writing as much, I've definitely been reading. I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor is an ARTIST. Her writing is just beautiful. I don't know how she weaves those stories, but WOW). And then I read Au Revoir Crazy European Chick in one sitting. That's a fun book that is destined to be a movie. If you have reluctant boy readers, put this book in their hands. They'll love it. And THEN I read Pretty Bad Things by CJ Skuse ... in one day! That's another good one to put in the hand of a reluctant boy. That's two books in two days, and now I'm on to Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My 11:11 Wishes

1. That you all love reading Meant to Be as much as I loved writing it. That you think my jokes are funny, my love interests are studly, and my main character, Julia, is someone you'd want to be friends with. It's a good year before it hits shelves, but some of you will be lucky enough to read it as early as the summer maybe (I've even heard there's a copy floating around Random House right now that folks are reading ... eek!). It's a sweet, funny, swoony story, and I just can't wait to hear what you think of it!

2. That I can get some kind of first draft done by the end of 2011. Working at a college means you actually get a full week+ of vacation around the New Year, because we close for winter break! That's many many days of uninterrupted writing time.

3. That 2012 brings as many amazing reads as I've had in 2011. Lola and the Boy Next Door, If I Stay/Where She Went, Mostly Good Girls, Fixing Delilah, Amy and Roger's Epic Detour ... I've had some great times reading this year. Many more to come, I hope!

What did you wish for on 11:11?

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 7: Procrastination Nation

Current Word Count: 9,922

Here are all the ways I procrastinated this weekend, instead of being a good lil NaNo and meeting my word count:

I finally went to Target and bought a frame for my Boston postcards. Not only that, I actually put the postcards in the frame AND hung it! Um, and tonight I plan to hang all my derby awards/pictures ... but I'll write tonight, too. I swear!

While at Target, I took a swing through the toy aisle. Because, why not? Aaaaaaaaand I came home with a 1000 piece puzzle of a vintage travel poster. We're a little bit farther now than when this photo was taken, but there's still several hundred puzzles pieces waiting to be snapped into place. This will provide quality procrastination FOR DAYZ.

I changed my closet over for winter, stored away all my sandals and sundresses (sob!), and got all my sweaters and jackets out. I don't know if you actually change over your closet, but I highly recommend it. Not only do you get more storage space, but when you open up your storage box, you'll get to see all those cute wool skirts and sweaters that you forgot you had. Early Christmas!

I made a scrapbook page for my teammate, Claire D. Way, who made Team USA for the first ever roller derby World Cup. She leaves for Denver this week to train, and then is off to Canada to compete. Our team made her a scrapbook full of fun pep talks and inspiration to take with her (my pep talk went in the little white cloud in the middle ... but I decided not to share it with the Internet).

I'm also in the middle of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. It's a little bit too much paranormal for me, but it's ok because the story at the heart of all those monsters and angels is FREAKING AWESOME. I totally don't care that the sexy guy has wings or that people are walking around with animal parts of everyone has names I can't pronounce ... I'm sucked in. I'm reading it now in hopes of going to the Forever YA book club in my area, but I don't know if I'll finish in time. Oh well, still an excellent read!

Turns out the weekends are by far the hardest for me to buckle down and write. I do better on the weekdays, when I'm cramming 15 minute sprints in between meetings and lunches and bedtime. It's the same phenomenon that kept me from being a productive writer when I was only working part time. But never fear, NaNoWriMos... because though I fell just a bit short of my required Sunday word count, it was only by a little. Little enough that I  can easily make it up today and be back on track to finish. By the end of today, I WILL have 11,669.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Day 4

Current Word Count: 6,949

Work was busy yesterday, so I wasn't able to take my standard lunch hour to eat and write. And then I got home and did something stupid ... I watched the pilot for Revenge. I can't help it! So many of you are going bananas for it on Twitter, so I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Uh, I totally get it. This show is crazy campy and borderline ridiculous, but it's somehow aware of itself in a way that makes it cool and ok. And it's ADDICTING. I watched three episodes last night. But then I realized it was almost 10pm, and I still hadn't written a word. Uh oh.

Emily Thorne says knock that shit off and write, dammit!
I was far enough ahead on my overall word count that I could have afforded to skip the day. I was totally tempted. I even closed my laptop and curled up in bed, ready to leave my word count behind. But who skips day 3? Seriously! It's way too early to start slacking, so I opened up Scrivener bound and determined to write SOMETHING. And what came out was an epic meltdown scene for my main character, which may or may not have been inspired by 3 hours of the 21st century version of Dynasty.

I didn't quite hit my daily word count, but I'm still ahead enough that it was ok. And today I'm going to make up for it by churning out an awesome follow-up scene where my main character has to pay for her epic meltdown.

And I'll probably watch some more Revenge ...

If you want to add me as a writing buddy on the NaNo website, just click here (my username is laurenemorrill, same as Twitter!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo: DAY 2!

Well, that first shiny day, when everything is possible and you think you might actually write 50k in ONE WEEK ... is over! Now we're on to day 2. Things are still sort of shiny, and if you wrote ahead yesterday, then you're feeling pretty comfortable. If you didn't? You're already feeling the pressure to break even or *shudder* catch up.

I'm up to 4,111 words, but I haven't written anything yet today (saving that for lunch). I'm definitely going to hit 5,000 today, maybe more if I'm a good little writer. The key for me is to get ahead in the early days, so that when I hit the dreaded middle, I can slog through without my procrastination doing too much damage. Then the end is just a dead spring downhill.

This is just a pop in to share my progress and hopefully inspire you guys to put your fingers on the keyboard and get writing. SO GET WRITING! And if you need a moment more of procrastination, here's a few fun things:

This NaNo wallpaper is pretty adorable, and it features a quote from the Gospel According to John Green. Amen. This came from a Tumblr user named serendipity-is-my-stripper-name (which is also pretty awesome).

Another tumblr post, this one from YA author Robyn Schneider ... isn't this writing fort just lovely? If I had a space like this, I could write ALL. THE. BOOKS.

And finally, some inspiration for when the going gets tough (and it will ... oh it will)

If you're looking for some more procrastination (because everyone needs a few minutes of mindless entertainment to keep the words flowing!) head on over to my tumblr. There will be plenty of mindless fun full of YA quotes, Downton Abbey, good looking fellas, and feminist humor.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy NaNoWriMo!

First thing's first, thanks to everyone who jumped on board my one-day-giveaway of Possess by Gretchen McNeil! The contest ended at midnight, but I was fast asleep at that point, so I drew a winner this morning. Congrats to Jesse B! I sent you and email, Jesse, so keep your eyes peeled.

So now that the Halloween giveaway closed and we've dawned on November 1st ...

Yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Yes, I've participated a few other times. No, I've never won. In fact, I usually don't make it past the first week. But this is the year, friends, I can feel it. I've got a great new idea (some of you saw on Twitter, but I've got a kickin' new character who, in my notes, I described as Lola Nolan + Blair Waldorf). I've got an excellent strategy (just write scenes, don't worry too much about flow). I've got my snazzy new MacBook Air to tote around with me everywhere so I can always write when inspiration hits. I'm using Scrivener to keep track of all my scraps of writing and my word counts. I've got NaNoWordSprints added on Twitter for some healthy competition and motivation. I might even hit up a local write-in or two!

Mark my words, blog readers. This year, I will win.

But in order to do that, I need you, writer and reader friends. I need you to motivate me. Kick my ass. Make me write! You can harass me via Facebook, you can Tweet at me like a drill sergeant, or you can leave inspirational comments right here on this very blog. And anyone who does this who is ALSO doing NaNoWriMo will get their very own inspirational, drill sergeant-y, harassing (with love!) e-pep-talks from me!

So c'mon, let's go write our 1,667 words of the day RIGHT. NOW. Ready? GO! 

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

Friday, September 30, 2011

A collection of Friday awesomeness

First thing's first: Meant to Be has a new release date! Mark your calendars for November 13, 2012. You can read straight through your Thanksgiving holiday, and then buy it for all your favorite readers for the holidays!

Thanks for the great comments and tweets on my post about YA guys with heart. Here's a few suggestions that were added in the discussion

  • Noah Shaw, from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
  • Ky, from Matched
  • Luke, from Forgotten (haven't read this yet, definitely going to!)
  • James, from Audrey, Wait!
  • Ethan Wate, from Beautiful Creatures
  • Will Grayson, from Will Grayson, Will Grayson
  • Tyler, from Moonglass
Thanks to everyone who chimed in!

The best part of this week was definitely yesterday, when I ran from the train to my apartment in a monsoon just so I could get this out of my mailbox and start reading:

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

It's every bit as good as every other blogger on the Internet said it would be! And the finished product is just gorgeous. I love the colors.

And finally, here's a video of my buddy Hayward Williams, performing an encore at a show he did recently with Jeff Foucault. I've known Hayward for years (he's married to one of my college besties, Kathleen), and he graciously let me steal his name/music to use in Meant to Be (spoiler alert: I thanked him in the acknowledgements, too).

Anyway, his music rules and this cover is awesome.

So enjoy today, this last day of September, and get psyched up for my favorite month, OCTOBER! I'll be eating lots of pumpkin things and planning a trip to New York to meet with some folks in ye olde publishing industry.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

REVIEW: If I Stay/Where She Went aka TEAM ADAM!

Last week I noticed a lot of bloggers posting about books it seemed like everyone else had read that they hadn't. Which got me thinking about it on my end. I bought a copy of If I Stay by Gayle Forman about a month ago when I was visiting my mom. I was worried I'd need another book to read if my flight home got delayed, but it didn't, and so I've had If I Stay hanging around on my nightstand ever since. Everyone and their dog raves over it, but it just never jumped out at me to read.

Well, I finished Sarah Mlynowski's Ten Things We Did (review forthcoming on that one, because I really loved it), and I needed something to fill the void between that and the release of Lola and the Boy Next Door. And so on Friday morning, I picked up If I Stay. I read it on  the train ride to get my haircut, on the train ride back, and at lunch. Midway through my meal at Four Bugers, I realized I was going to have to get my lunch wrapped up to go, because I was about the burst into the loudest, hardest sobs of my life.

Because If I Stay is WONDERFUL. I don't want to write a crazy in-depth review, because I think the book really is better if you just sort of enter the world on the first page and get wrapped up in the story. And you will. I finished the book by Friday night, and that was WITH finishing up my copyedits AND cleaning my entire house in preparation for my mom's visit on Saturday!

It was so good, that I hadn't even finished If I Stay yet when I ran out to pick up the sequel, Where She Went. And then I read that in TWO days, and that's while my mom was in town!

The one thing I want to say about Gayle Forman's writing: she makes you feel like you've known these characters your whole life. I don't know how, in about seven pages, she makes you fall so deeply in love with Mia's parents that when the big bad occurs, you can barely hold yourself together. I have never sobbed as hard and as many times in a book as I did while reading If I Stay, and it's 100% a result of the incredibly rich and wonderful characters Gayle wrote.

And the last thing I'll say?

Team Adam. All the way.

Which brings me to the last thing: I now have an Adam-shaped hole in my reading life. I need more of him, or characters like him, which is to say YA guys with some serious heart. Examples? Marcus Flutie, Patrick from Fixing Delilah, Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss, pretty much any of Sarah Dessen's homeboys, especially Dexter, Owen, and Wes.

So, dear blog readers, what books should I read if I want more Adam in my life?! Leave the suggestions in the comments, or tweet them with the  hashtag #YAguys