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The 411

My name's Lauren. I'm the author of books for teens and tweens, including TWO-WAY STREET, THE SECRET IDENTITY OF DEVON DELANEY, and FOUR TRUTHS AND A LIE. Feel free to friend me, leave a comment, or check out my website.


A road trip with her ex?
Danger ahead....

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22 Nov 2010 @ 10:02 AM
I'm Alive! I'm Alive!
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I was going to say it’s been a busy summer, but then I realized that we’re already, like, wayyy into fall, and that it’s going to be December in nine days. Yikes! (FYI, I hate December. And January. Except for Christmas, what’s the point? It’s only light, for, like, six hours a day. It makes me want to sleep through the whole two months.)

Anyway, I guess it’s been a busy summer/start of fall.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. Writing. Of course writing! My new tween book, RULES FOR SECRET KEEPING, is now out, and the new Hailey Twitch book, HAILEY TWITCH AND THE GREAT TEACHER SWITCH, came out at the beginning of the month.

(Those actually weren’t the books I was writing, though. Those books were done a while ago, obvs. I was working on my new YA that will be out next summer, which is called SOMETIMES IT HAPPENS, and a new tween that will be out next fall.)

2. Moving. This one’s actually still going on. The Boy and I bought a house, and we closed on it on September 30th. Yay! I was shocked at how hard it was to buy a house. We were serious! We wanted to buy! But every time we put an offer in on something, it seemed to fall apart for some reason. It was either a short sale, or the inspection didn’t go well, or SOMETHING. In fact, at one point someone referred to our home search as “tumultuous.” (Which actually wasn’t very nice when you think about it. Even if it was tumultuous. Of course, the person who said it was kind of a brat, so that could be clouding my judgment.)
Anyway, I kept telling myself that buying a house was like writing – you just have to keep trying until something hits. And finally it did! We love our new house. We’re all moved in, but we only have furniture for, like, three rooms so far. And we have a lot more painting to do, although we’re getting so sick of painting that the really weird green color in the room that is going to be the library (!!) is starting to look not so bad.

3. Reading My mom bought me a kindle for my birthday. I’ve been reading sooo much more since I got it! I love it. I think I’ll always buy books, though, especially because of the aforementioned library in our new house. Speaking of my mom, we started a book club. It’s kind of weird, though, in the sense that we’re reading different books. We each picked a book for the other to read. She’s making me read SARAH’S KEY, and I’m making her read LAST NIGHT AT CHATEAU MARMONT. You can see we have very different taste in books.

4. Watching fall TV. Parenthood, Dancing with the Stars, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, Property Virgins, and Life Unexpected is usually what’s on my DVR. (Although I’m really sad that The Situation got voted off DWTS. He was the best part of the show, imo. It was just so funny watching him dance.)

5. Taking care of our new puppy! We have a new puppy. Her name is Ally, and she’s a labradoodle. She’s soooo good, like, the best puppy ever. Well, except for when she’s eating socks and jumping around and grabbing the bottom of my pants and pulling them down when we are in the backyard.

Okay, so now that I look at it, it doesn’t really seem like that much. But really, it was a lot, I swear. And I know I’m probably forgetting like three bazillion things that happened. Oh! Like how there’s going to be audio books of TWO WAY STREET, WATCH ME, and ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING! They’ll be out at the end of this year/beginning of next year, starting with TWO-WAY STREET. And how I went to my sister-in-law’s wedding, and how I bought the coziest boots, like, ever at Target and how I got bit by the dog next door. Yikes!

Anyway, now that things have sort of settled down, I’ll be back to blogging more regularly.

What have YOU all been up to?

More later,
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6 Jul 2010 @ 10:01 AM
Release Day!
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Today is the day!!! ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING and WATCH ME are out in stores!

Pics are already coming in:

Okay, I took those myself, ha. But I have gotten some from other people, I swear! From California and Texas, even!

And Jessica from Confessions of a Bookaholic made this for my contest:

And Collegiate Bookworm (who made the awesome widgets in my last post), made a trailer that is so cute! 

If you read either of the books and post a review on amazon, or tweet about it, or post on goodreads or your blog, or make a trailer or ANYTHING, please let me know by commenting on this post or emailing me at laurenbarnholdtsummer (at) gmail.com because you could win an ipad. Details at laurenbarnholdtsummer.com

Also I’m going to be giving away tons of stuff on twitter this week, so come follow me at @laurenbarnholdt

I cannot believe the books are out in the world! I'm so excited to finally be able to share them with you, and I really hope you love reading them.

And now I am getting back to writing, because in the midst of all this release craziness, I have a book due. (And I think it might have finally gotten a title!)

More later,
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23 Jun 2010 @ 2:59 PM
Summer Contest!
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I have been busy writing, and so I haven’t blogged in a while. I have a book due, like, NOW, and I am so close to finishing it that I’ve been immersed in writing, writing, writing.

I’ve been writing so much that June just flew by! And now, ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERTHING and WATCH ME will be out in two weeks. Two. Weeks. Fourteen days. Seven hundred and eight minutes. Forty six thousand, eight hundred seconds.

(FYI, I had to use my calculator to do that. It’s so easy on your Mac dashboard! Although somehow I have a picture of the High School Musical cast on there that I can’t get off, hmmm..)

Anyway! To celebrate my three releases this summer – ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, WATCH ME, and ACES UP, I’m having a huge summer contest!

AND I’M GIVING AWAY AN IPAD!!! If you help get the word out about any or all of the books and post to your blog, facebook, or twitter, email me at laurenbarnholdtsummer (at) gmail (dot) (com) or leave a comment on this post, linking to whatever you’ve done. There are also more prizes to give away, including copies of my books, a Best Buy gift card, and more! You can find all the details (and read a sneak peek of all the books) here – www.laurenbarnholdtsummer.com

Also, on twitter, I’m giving away gift cards almost every single day! You can follow me there at @laurenbarnholdt

And now I have to get back to work on the book with no name. Because it really doesn’t have a name yet. But it will be out next summer. As long as it finds a name. And as long as, you know, I finish it.

More later,
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3 May 2010 @ 12:02 PM
Twenty Books Up For Grabs!
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We have no water because of the big water pipe break! Actually, we do have water, we just can’t drink it unless we boil it first.

We’re kind of lucky that we didn’t die or anything, because we didn’t find out about the bad water until hours after it started. The Boy’s friend sent us this really ominous text that just said “don’t drink ur tap water.” Yikes! Luckily we hadn’t had any tap water in the past few hours. But we totally could have. (I’m exaggerating, obvi, about the dying – they don’t even really know if the water is contaminated, but it could be. I guess the water we have now is kind of like lake water.)

Anyway, at least we had our new TV to cheer us up, even though The Boy almost broke it when it fell over in the back of the van he rented to transport it home. (The place we bought it from has free set-up and delivery, but we just HAD to have it before the fight on Saturday night. And by we, I mean he, so he rented a van and brought it home. And then had trouble setting it up, so I had to take over.)

Plus this weekend I got to see HAILEY TWITCH in the bookstore!!


The book is officially out, and should be on shelves everywhere!

So to celebrate, I’m having a contest. The first twenty people to paste the below code into their blog will win a surprise book of my choice. (It could be Hailey, or it could be something else. It might be one of mine, it might not. Yay for surprises!) When you’ve pasted the code below into your blog, send an email to Lauren (at) laurenbarnholdt (dot) (com) and link to the post. The rules: You have to have had your blog for at least three months, and update it on a regular basis. And I’ll only ship to the US.

I’m not sure how much response I’ll get, but if you don’t hear from me, it means you weren’t one of the first twenty. And if you do, then yay for you!

Here's what will appear on your blog once you paste in the code:

Seven-year-old Hailey Twitch knows three things for sure: who she’s the boss of, how to throw a tantrum, and above all, how to get exactly what she wants. But all that changes when Hailey gets paired up with annoying Addie Jokobeck on the class project. No matter what Hailey does, she can’t seem to change her teacher’s mind.

At home, a cranky Hailey is feeling sorry for herself when – poof! -- Maybelle, a magic sprite, comes flying out of Hailey’s dollhouse. Maybelle’s on probation with the Department of Magic, and on a special mission to get Hailey to have fun.
The only problem? The invisible Maybelle starts causing a lot of trouble, and when Hailey’s teacher wants to know who’s to blame, Hailey takes responsibility. After all, Hailey Twitch is not a snitch! Now if only Hailey can convince the Department of Magic that Maybelle has reformed…

You can buy Hailey Twitch from amazon by clicking here, and find out how to win a free book from Lauren by clicking here!

So to enter, paste the code below into your blog, then email me! Good luck!

More later,

The code:

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30 Apr 2010 @ 11:37 AM
Evolution Of A Cover (Part Three)
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So I blogged here about the new cover of ACES UP, and I blogged here about the new cover of WATCH ME, and now it’s time for the new cover of ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING!

First, here’s what the book is about:

Four dares - Two secrets - One night

Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper.

Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her.

Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide ...

And here was the original cover:

I have to admit that I literally gasped when I saw this cover. I loved it. It was my favorite cover of all of my books, EVER. It’s just really striking, and I loved the colors and the image.

But when the fab team at S&S went to sell the book to bookstores, there was some concern that the book looks like something BAD happens in it. And I do have to admit that the first itme I saw it (after I gasped), I did think, ‘hmm, does it look like something BAD happens in this book?’

I mean, there ARE bad things that happen in the book, -- poor Eliza is getting blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend -- but there is nothing BAD that happens. It’s not a dark book. It has the same kind of fun, light voice that all my books have.

So I definitely saw their point, and even though I loved this cover, I agreed that it needed to be changed.

I waited and waited for S&S to come up with something else. I trust them completely, so I wasn’t too worried, but I did wonder if I would love the new cover as much as I loved the first.

And here’s what they came up with:

And this will be the new cover!

I LOVE IT. I love that they kept the elements I liked most about the first cover – the city lights, the night scene, the colors of the title – but made the image fit the book a more, so that it looks fun and more dynamic. Like I said, I loved the first cover, but I think this one represents the book accurately, and will attract the right kind of audience.

It’s my new fave cover ever, and I cannot wait for the book to come out on July 6th!

Also, I’m planning a huge contest next week to celebrate the release of HAILEY TWITCH IS NOT A SNITCH, along with posting some events I’ll be doing for the book, so I hope you’ll check back!

I will probably also be blogging over the weekend about our new TV, which we kind of sort of bought on a whim, and which we are picking up today in a truck that The Boy rented. It could definitely be a disaster…

More later,
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26 Apr 2010 @ 1:21 PM
An Email From My Mom (We Call Her Mudd)
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An email from my mom:

Been reading your blog and you forgot to mention that you also sold your first book on my b’day. I think it is a great FYI for your readers. Also... you forgot to mention about my makeover abilities which is way more interesting than sparkle sandals. Just trying to help.
Love you,

Yes, we call my mom Mudd sometimes. It’s a long story that I won’t get into here, but I will say that my mom did fight the name for, like, fifteen years but now she is obviously embracing it. (It was one of those nicknames that started as a total joke, but ended up sticking – we even used to buy her MUDD purses for prank gifts. Although typing it here, it actually doesn’t seem as funny as it really is, hmmm...)

And it’s true, my mom did makeovers on everyone in Sephora. Well, not, like, everyone in the store. Just me and my sister. She should have gotten a commission, honestly, because I ended up spending way too much money on makeup that my mom picked out for me.

It’s also true that I sold REALITY CHICK on my mom’s birthday – (five years ago, eek!) It was actually really cool, because we were getting ready to go out to dinner, and I got the call that I sold, so it was like a double celebration. I tried to tell my mom that I have told that story in this blog numerous times, but apparently she is like the cast of Jersey Shore -- she just keeps wanting more and more fame. (I’m not exaggerating – this is the first email I’ve gotten instructing me to blog about her, but she calls me all the time wanting to be on the blog. Which is weird. Most people I know tell me to keep them OFF of my blog.)

In other, book-related news, HAILEY TWITCH IS NOT A SNITCH will be out on May 1st!

And my author copies arrived! They look adorable, and are even pinker than I expected. (More pink is always a good thing in my book. I tried to post a picture, but it wasn't working for some reason. You can see them here.)

Now I have to get back to working on my new YA book, which will be out Summer 2011. And if I meet my word count, I am so making The Boy take me to see The Back-Up Plan. Or maybe Date Night. …

More later,
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7 Apr 2010 @ 3:49 PM
Sparkly Gladiator Sandals (And The Winner)
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I’m sitting at a table in a little corner of my sister’s college, waiting for her while she’s in her biology class. It’s early, about 7:57 in the morning, but I’ll have to post this later, since there’s no internet here. Well, there is, but I don’t have a login and password. I do, however, have a hazelnut coffee filled with cream and splenda, but it’s still too hot to drink.

I’m looking around, trying to pay attention to what kids are wearing, mostly because I feel like the guys in my book especially are always wearing the same kinds of clothes. But as kids pass by here, I realize that that’s mostly because, um, everyone kind of wears the same things. There are a lot of hoodies, a lot of t-shirts and jeans. (And for some reason, the last, like, five girls that walked by were wearing sparkly gladiator sandals. I wonder if it’s because it’s just one of the first nice days? Or are sparkly gladiator sandals all the rage? I guess both. Note to self: Get sparkly gladiator sandals. Other note to self: Do I even like sparkly gladiator sandals?)

When my sis gets out of class, we’ll meet up with my mom and my other sister for breakfast, and then I’m hoping that I can convince them to hit up Sephora. Usually I end up at Sephora with The Boy, which isn’t really the same as going to Sephora with, you know, girls. Although he tries to be a good sport about it. (ETA: We DID go to Sephora and it was really fun, although I tried this airbrush foundation stuff that I’d read about online and my whole face started turning red. It didn’t stop me, though, I just washed it off and moved on, then ended up spending way too much money.)

Right now, though, I’m getting back to work on the book I’m working on. I don’t think I’ve talked too much about it here, because it’s sooo early yet and the book doesn’t even have a title. But I will say that it’s about a semi-scandalous love triangle and BFFs and frenemies and lies and it has the same back-and-forth time jump that I used in TWO-WAY STREET. It will be out in Summer 2011 from Simon Pulse…

Wow, as I typed that I just realized that’s actually not even THAT far away. Like, a little over a year. So, um, I better get back to writing.

But first, the winner of a copy of DEVON DELANEY SHOULD TOTALLY KNOW BETTER is …..Nancye Davis! Please email me your address so I can send it out.

And come back here tomorrow for a TWO-WAY STREET giveaway, along with some info on what I have planned for when HAILEY TWITCH IS NOT A SNITCH comes out in a few more weeks!

More later,
Hit Me Up!

2 Apr 2010 @ 10:16 AM
Debacle At The Arcade (and win a copy of Devon Delaney)
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Confession time.

Kids kind of scare me.

I know. You’d think that since I write for them, I would love them. And I DO love them, I do! They just scare me. Babies, I’m okay with. Teenagers, totally fine. But say, from like the ages of 4-10? They’re just so unpredictable! You never know what they’re going to do. In fact, they could pretty much do anything.

Anyway, my niece is ten, so she is on the upper range of children I’m not afraid of. And she’s really cool. She likes to talk about all the same things I do, like tween books and the show Make It Or Break It and the merits of dangly earrings.

The other night, The Boy and I went over to baby-sit her and her sisters, and I took her out to the bookstore and the arcade. The bookstore was fun -- we looked at the books and talked about the Diary of A Wimpy Kid movie, and looked at all those board games and magic kits and things that they have in the middle of the store.

Then we went to the arcade.

The Niece loves arcades. She thinks that maybe they are the best things ever. I like them, too, for the most part. I mean, what’s not to like? Games, tickets you can spend all night earning and then turn in for a pixie stick… it’s really fun for all.

We got there sort of toward the end of the night, so the place wasn’t busy at all. (Thank God there weren’t more people there, because if there were, what happened later could have been a lot more embarrassing.) The Niece went to work, playing games, earning tickets, etc. Finally, it was almost time to leave, so I told her she had fifteen minutes to use up the rest of her tokens.

And that’s when it happened.

The Niece put her quarter into a machine where the point of the game was to shoot it into these colorful slots -- each slot earned you a different number of tickets. One red slot said “bonus” and it was like, the width of the token, pretty much impossible to get.

But The Niece did. Her token went flying into the tiny “bonus” slot, and tickets started pouring out of the machine.

“Wow!” I said. “That’s awesome!” We stood there smiling and watching the tickets, feeling smug and superior to this other little girl who was clutching her measly twenty tickets while she played skee-ball.

“Can I go play that?” The Niece asked after a couple of minutes. “While you gather up the tickets?”

“Sure,” I said. We didn’t have much time left, and I wanted her to be able to use up the rest of her tokens. She walked over to some other game that involved shooting balls into these cups that sort of looked like owls.

I picked up the line of tickets and started to fold them up. (They are those long lines of tickets, like you get sometimes for raffles.)

But the tickets kept coming. And coming. And coming. They started pooling around my feet, and people started to stare. I was folding them up as fast as I could, into little compact rectangles and then shoving them in my pockets. But my pockets filled up fast, and I couldn’t keep up with the tickets. I had nowhere to put them.

At one point, I looked up at the machine and it said “tickets remaining = 497”

A girl who worked there was vacuuming, and she gave me a dirty look as she passed by and almost vacuumed up my line of tickets. It was very embarrassing. Finally I stopped trying to fold them up and just gathered the whole mess up into my hands.

When The Niece returned, we looked around for the machine to put them in. Usually in arcades you feed your tickets into a machine, it counts them automatically, and then you get a receipt that has the number of tickets you have printed on it.

Not at this one.

“Excuse me?” I said to the teenage boy who was working the counter. “Where do we put these tickets?” I peeked at him over the mountain that was in my arms. “Do we… do we have to count them ourselves?” I was almost crying.

“No,” he said. “You put them in this bucket.”

He shoved a Dubble Bubble bucket across the counter at me, and I started trying to put the tickets in gently, figuring he had a machine back there to feed them into. But he didn’t! He grabbed the tickets and like SMUSHED them down into the bucket. He was very rough, actually.

Then he took the bucket and brought it back to this very shady looking scale in the back, set the bucket on it, and announced that we’d won 1050 tickets. It didn’t seem that scientific, but whatever.

The Niece picked out some prizes – this huge bouncy ball that bounced to the ceiling, and various pieces of candy. (That’s the thing about arcades – you spend the whole time earning all these tickets and then you get tricked into thinking these sorts of cheap little prizes are, like, the best things ever.)

Then we went home.

I am going to hang out with her again on Saturday, so maybe we’ll be back. But this time I’m totally going to play DDR.

And in celebration of tweens and DDR and arcades, anyone who leaves a comment on this entry will be entered to win a copy of DEVON DELANEY SHOULD TOTALLY KNOW BETTER. (Devon has been known to DDR once in a while, in between all her fake boyfriends.)

The contest will run through Sunday, and I’ll pick and post the winner on Monday.

More later,
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1 Apr 2010 @ 11:26 AM
Evolution Of A Cover (Part Two)
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Yesterday I blogged about ACES UP, and how and why the cover got changed.

Next up? WATCH ME.

In 2005, I sold my first novel, about a girl named Ally Cavanaugh who tries out for a reality TV show called In The House, which will broadcast her first semester at college. She figures she has no chance of getting cast, because she’s the most normal girl in the world, and everyone knows those shows only want people that are kind of wacky.

But to her surprise, she DOES get cast and (shocker) – ends up in a house full of crazies. She realizes later that she was chosen because she has a long distance boyfriend, and the producers are totally hoping that her relationship will fall apart. Add a hot new roommate named Drew who’s always there when she needs him, and the fact that her boyfriend can watch her every move on TV, and you have a recipe for tons of scandals.

Here is the original title and cover:

I loved this cover. It was my very first cover EVER, and I had been waiting and waiting to get a cover for one of my books ever since I’d started writing. Getting a cover is one of the first times your book actually seems “real” and I can still remember the moment when I opened that email from my editor.

The title, however, I wasn’t so sure about. Originally I had been calling this book IN THE HOUSE after the name of the show that Ally goes on. Everyone agreed it had to be changed, but when they suggested REALITY CHICK, I just didn’t know if I liked it. Something about the word “chick.” But I also realized that I’m a writer, not a marketer. And everyone at Simon Pulse loved it, and all my friends loved it, and eventually I ended up liking it, too.

The book came out in the summer of 2006, and did its time in stores. But with the success of TWO-WAY STREET, the amazing team at Simon Pulse decided that there should be a reissue.

This time, they thought we should make the cover not so reality-tv focused, and try to show that the book is a lot about Ally’s journey, her new friends and fun, and the fact that she’s sort of torn between two boys. They didn’t want focus so much on the reality TV show angle, or the college freshmen angle, since college YAs don’t usually do as well as those set in high school.

Therefore, the back cover copy got changed from this:

All-hour study fests . . . all-night parties . . .

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if school isn’t panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old crushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally’s got bigger issues — like how her long-distance bf can watch her loopy late-night “episode” with a certain housemate. . . .

Freshman year on film.

It’s outrageous.

It’s juicy.

And like all good reality TV,

it’s impossible to turn off.

To this:

She thinks she has nothing to hide?

Ally has everything under control. She's about to move into a house full of strangers and have her life broadcast to the world, but as long as she still has her long-distance boyfriend, Corey, nothing can go wrong. Nothing, that is, until Ally starts spending time with her housemate Drew, the hot and sensitive guy who always seems to be around when she needs someone the most.

As suspicions and lies start pulling Ally and Corey apart, she's not sure if she can trust anyone, not even herself. Ally is about to learn the hard way that life is what happens when everyone is looking, and it doesn't always capture her good side....

We also went back and forth on titles (note: I am HORRIBLE with titles), and finally someone at S&S came up with WATCH ME, which I LOVED on lots of different levels. There’s the obvious – that people can watch her – but also it’s just really catchy and gives it a little sass, which I felt fit Ally’s personality and character arc through the book.

And here was the new cover:

I thought it was striking -- it was actually one of my favorite covers ever. I loved everything about it – the colors, the image, everything.

Then we heard from Barnes and Noble.  They felt that the image didn’t really tell you what the book was about, and had dark overtones. The book is a fun, light story, so I definitely agreed with all of that. But I was also a little disappointed, because I loved this cover so much, that I was sure I wouldn’t be able to love a new cover even close to as much. (Kind of like kids.)

And then the incredible designer at S&S came up with this:

And this will be the cover!!!

I love it! I think it looks a lot more modern than the original, and it really gives you a sense that it’s a fun story about a girl finding her way instead of “omg, hi, this is a reality tv book.”

It will be out on July 6th, and I can't wait....

(Next up, Part Three which will focus on ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, although that might take a couple more weeks, since there are still tweaks being made. So before that I will probably blog about how I took my niece to an arcade and she won some kind of impossible-to-get bonus on this one machine and then ran off to spend her tokens and left me to gather up the tickets that were pooling at my feet while people stared.)
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31 Mar 2010 @ 12:23 PM
Evolution Of A Cover (Part One)
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So I have three YA books coming out this summer – ONE NIGHT THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING, ACES UP, and the rerelease of Reality Chick, which will be called WATCH ME.

All three books are getting new covers.

I know! What are the chances? (Actually, I guess a lot since covers get changed all the time. But still! Three for three!)

I love all three new covers more than their originals, which is crazy, seeing as how I thought the original ONE NIGHT cover was especially amazing.

I thought I’d post each cover here, and talk about how the cover was changed, and the reasons for the changes.

First, ACES UP.

This book is about a girl named Shannon who lies about her age so she can get a job waitressing at a local casino. While she’s there, she gets caught up in this scandalous undercover poker ring led by this super sexy guy named Cole. She has a lot of other stuff going on, too, like a crazy boss, a dad who’s out of work, and the fact that her best guy friend (well, until they almost kissed) Max and his new girlfriend are creating all sorts of drama for her. (Including more almost kisses.)

Here was the original cover:

Honestly, I thought it was just okay. I didn’t love it, because to me, it seemed very poker. And, yes, it IS a poker book, but I was afraid that people who DIDN’T like poker wouldn’t pick it up because they’d think it’s was just a story about gambling and casinos. The romance is a huge part of the story, and I felt like that kind of got lost with this cover. Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the feathers on the boa, which I thought were a little bit old-fashioned, and are never featured in the story.

I loved the red, though, (I think I actually heard somewhere that red covers sell better than any other color?) and Delacorte’s thinking was that teens have a certain fascination with casinos, and so this cover would appeal to them. I started liking it more as time went on, and figured it was different enough from my usual covers (read: pink and girly) that it would stand out from ONE NIGHT and WATCH ME, which are coming out around the same time.

Then we heard back from my editor, with some requests from the buyer at Barnes and Noble. (Note: If you don’t know, the buyers at big accounts – usually B&N, since they’re the biggest – can have an impact on the cover. If a buyer is going to up an order because of a cover change, or not carry the book at all because they don’t like the cover, the publisher usually tries to accommodate their request.)

In this case, the buyer thought it would be a good idea to make this cover look more like the cover for TWO-WAY STREET:

His feeling was that TWO-WAY STREET had done so well, and had such a contemporary, sexy look, that the ACES UP cover would do better if updated. He also requested a tagline calling me out as the author of TWO-WAY STREET.

So Delacorte came up with this:

I liked this one better a lot better than the original. Even though the tweaks were small, I thought it made a huge difference. The font is more modern, and I liked that it linked me to TWO-WAY STREET – I hoped this would make people who liked TWO-WAY STREET pick it up, even if they thought it was a poker book.

The boa was still a bit much for my taste, but overall I was really happy with these updates.

Then, a couple of weeks later, we got word that B&N felt the cover still wasn’t working. They talked about the TWO-WAY STREET cover again, how it made it clear that there was a relationship between the guy and the girl. (The TWO-WAY STREET cover is a wraparound, and the back shows a guy trying to fix the car.)

So Delacorte went back to the drawing board and came up with this:

And this will be the cover! I really love, love, love it. I think it’s so cute and really shows that there’s a lot of romance (even though the story does center around gambling, and my MC does get herself in a lot more trouble than my heroines are used to.)

I feel so fortunate that my wonderful editor Stephanie Elliott and the team at Random House were willing to keep at it.

Tomorrow? The cover for WATCH ME, and why that one’s changing not only covers (twice!) but titles…

More later,
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22 Mar 2010 @ 9:25 AM
How I Stole A Vacuum From Some People
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So last weekend we got a new vacuum. I know, that’s really lame.

But I WANTED ONE. That goes to show how old I am getting. (But maybe not, since I also became totally excited that GIMME A CALL by Sarah Mlynowski and THE CARRIE DIARIES by Candace Bushnell are coming out on the same day. Also sometimes when I am in Justice with my niece, I really wish they made the clothes in there in grown-up sizes.)


I looked up reviews for vacuums on the internet, since the last two vacuums I bought were just whatever was pretty and cheap, which is not a very effective way to buy a vacuum. It results in vacuums, like, dying and clogging and making very horrible noises and then spitting dirt back out all over your floor.

So I googled and searched and scoured, and found a lot of good reviews for this one:

It is a Shark Vac and it says it “never loses suction.”

Which sounds fab. But of course I was a little suspicious, because a lot of the reviews I saw were left by people who had posted only ONE review. Also most of them used the same phrases, like “this is for people who want a Dyson but don’t want to spend the money!” Which meant nothing to me, but I could kind of glean that people who are in the know about vacuums are just falling all over themselves for an expensive, shiny new Dyson. Also all of the reviews had user names likes “HappyWithVacInNY” which is very suspect.

I knew these reviews were probably left by people who work at Shark. Still, I was intrigued.

I made The Boy come with me to Target, which he didn’t really want to do, because he hates vacuum shopping. (And clothes shopping and grocery shopping and any kind of shopping really except for book and DVD shopping.)

When we got there, I immediately spotted the Shark! And there was a floor model you could push around Target!

“Oh, look!” I said to The Boy, pushing around the floor model. “This is the one that got all those good reviews online!”

“So we’ll get this one,” The Boy said. He was ready to go because we had already been there for one minute and thirty seconds.

“No, I want to look at all of them,” I said. I mean, I couldn’t be swayed that easily. I wanted to check ALL of them out before I committed.

Then I noticed there was another couple there, too, looking at the vacuums. It was kind of nice, actually, like a “look at us, all in this together, trying to find a good vacuum, la la la.”

I wandered down to the other end of the aisle. I picked up a few more vacuums, one that said it was great at picking up dog hair. We don’t have a dog, but we do have guinea pigs, and also, maybe we will have a dog someday. (At that point, I was looking for a vacuum that I felt could be an investment in our future.)

And that’s when it happened.

The lady from the other couple PICKED UP THE PURPLE SHARK VAC! (Note: Purple wasn’t really my reason for wanting it, but it’s a bonus. I mean, how cute!)

And then she said, “Oh, honey, how about this one? It’s light, right?” She started pushing it all around. I watched her out of the corner of my eye and realized:

SHE ONLY WANTED IT BECAUSE I SAID IT HAD GOOD REVIEWS! She was totally trying to rip off my research!

And there was only one purple Shark that never loses suction left!

I had to do something.

So I said, “Maybe we should just get this one,” really loud to The Boy. “Since this is the one that got good reviews.”

I started pushing around a random vacuum. It was a big lie. I had no idea if that one was good or not.

Then I wandered a few feet away and waited. The lady immediately glommed onto the one I just said had good reviews (aka The Lie Vacuum), and I swooped in and grabbed the beautiful purple Shark that never loses suction and dropped it in the cart.

When we were safely out of earshot, I proudly told The Boy what I did.

He wasn’t impressed. He said, “That’s kind of sad, those people seemed nice.”

So then I felt kind of guilty. And I thought maybe the Shark Vac that never loses suction would punish me when I got home by being made of fail. But it’s amazing! It’s so powerful that it leads you around the room by itself, almost.

Still, though.

I do hope those other people found a good vacuum…. (Sort of.)

More later
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18 Mar 2010 @ 9:10 AM
A few quick updates...
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My new tween book coming October 5, 2010!

Also, HAILEY TWITCH IS NOT A SNITCH comes out on May 1st. If you're a blogger that would like a review copy, please leave a comment with your email address, or drop me a line at lauren (at) laurenbarnholdt (dot) (com) so that I can pass it along to my publicist. You can find out more about Hailey here.

Back later with a proper update, including how I almost fainted while getting blood drawn (I'm squeamish!), and how I stole a vacuum from these people at Target (they were totally trying to steal it from me first).....
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8 Mar 2010 @ 11:13 AM
Silence in the Writing Lair
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The Boy and I decided we were going to do a writing retreat this weekend. We had use of a house that we don’t usually have access to. FOR FREE. A big, beautiful, perfect house with lots of rooms and wifi and awesomeness.

So on Saturday morning we packed up our things and hit the road. We arrived at the writing lair at around eleven, and immediately got to work. We worked until around one, then broke for lunch.

“Isn’t this so fun?” we said. “We are going to get so much done, we love the writing lair!”

We ordered Chinese, because the Chinese place near the writing lair is THE BEST. Seriously, we had been looking forward to it all week. After lunch, we decided to nap for like an hour, then get up and start working again.

We napped. We started working again. At around six or so, we started heating up our leftover Chinese food for dinner. And while I was eating my wonton soup, I realized that… it was really quiet at the writing lair.

Like, really, really quiet.

No TV.

No guinea pigs squeaking in the corner.

No neighbors upstairs who make really weird banging noises every single night.

No one buzzing because they are drunk and looking for a different apartment. (That’s never happened, actually. The drunk part, I mean. As far as I know. But it could.)

In fact, in the writing lair, I could hear the clink of my spoon as it hit the bowl. That was the only sound in the whole place.

“Do you hear that?” I asked The Boy. “My spoon is ECHOING THROUGH THE WRITING LAIR!”

For some reason, this was disturbing. We looked around. The place seemed suddenly…dark. And, like, very much in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe we should just write for a little longer and then go home tonight,” The Boy said. “Then we could get an early start on writing at home tomorrow. I think I’m allergic to something in here anyway.”

“Isn’t that kind of a waste of the writing lair?” I asked, hoping he would say no.

“No,” he said.

So we stared at our screens for a little longer. But it was no use. The place was TOO QUIET. We should have put music on, but it was too late. Frankly, we were slightly creeped out.

So we left. We’d only lasted eight hours. But at least we did get SOME writing done, and we had excellent Chinese food and an okay nap.

It’s not that I can’t write in silence. (Okay, maybe I can’t. Maybe I need at least SOME kind of noise.) But it was more like once I became aware of the silence, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I might be crazy.

How about you guys? Do you do better writing in silence or do you need noise? Anything else you must have to write?
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18 Feb 2010 @ 10:23 AM
Welcome, Hailey Twitch!
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Coming May 1st, 2010.....

This is my first chapter book. It’s also my first series. It’s about a seven-year-old girl who gets a magic sprite that causes all sorts of crazy trouble.

This is what it says on the Barnes and Noble website:

Featuring a seven year-old mastermind who tries really hard not to blame her imaginary friend for getting her into heaps of delicious trouble, Lauren Barnholdt's new series is both hilarious and heart-warming. Watch out Ramona, Judy, and the rest, Hailey Twitch is coming soon!

I can’t believe it’s going to be out in just a couple of months! This book went through soo many drafts before it sold, I can’t even tell you. It actually started out being a book about ballet, and now the book has absolutely nothing to do with ballet, which is kind of funny. (But maybe not so funny when I was writing drafts ten through fifteen.)

This is the book that I submitted to my agent when she first signed me. It was right after TWO-WAY STREET came out -- I was switching agents then, and sort of in flux, so this book is really close to my heart. It was the first book we submitted together, even though it wasn’t the first book we sold.

I love Hailey, I loved writing all the drafts , and I hope other people end up loving her too…
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16 Feb 2010 @ 10:14 AM
Why Being A Writer Is Better Than Being An Olympian
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We have been watching The Olympics non-stop! I can’t get enough! It doesn’t even matter what event it is, or if I don’t know any of the athletes. It’s just FUN and exciting. It also makes being a writer seem very easy in comparison.

Reasons that being a writer is better than being an Olympian:

1. You can be warm while writing books. In fact, I would suggest a nice pair of cozy yoga pants and some comfy socks. Maybe even a space heater. And I guess, if you absolutely must, you could wear one of these:

BUT ONLY IF YOU MUST, because honestly they are pretty dorky.

2. You don’t have to worry about staying skinny so that you can be hoisted over someone’s head. Have you seen those figure skaters?! They are tiny and petite and their partners hoist them up like they are feathers! With one hand sometimes even! That’s crazy! Luckily, if you are a writer, no one really wants to pick you up and twirl you around. At least, I’ve never encountered it. So feel free to eat these:

(But not too many. You don’t want to scream when you get your author photos done.)

3. You have more than one chance to go after your dream. At the Olympics, your chance might come down to ONE MOMENT. One moment that comes around EVERY FOUR YEARS. What if you get nervous and slip? What if you feel sick that day? With writing, you can just write another book, or revise the one you have. In the Olympics there is no such thing as revision! *SCREAM*

4. In writing, you are only competing with yourself
. This is good for lots of reasons. It means there are enough dreams to go around for everyone! If you sell your book, it doesn’t mean that your friend can’t! Yay! *throws sparkles*

5. Writing doesn't have TV cameras
.   Yes, rejections hurt. You might scream and cry and maybe even swear. But you won’t have to do it with THE ENTIRE WORLD WATCHING. You will not have a big camera in your face, taunting you. You can cry in private.

Of course, the reason I probably like watching The Olympics so much is That Moment. You know the one I’m talking about. The moment where everything you’ve worked for comes together, and you’ve got that medal or book deal or agent request or new galley. The moment that you’ve been working toward, waiting for, hoping for…the moment that makes it all worth it. No matter what your dream.

More later,
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