If you thought “9AM passed, there’s not going to be a Writer Wednesday today,” well . . .
- AWW. That’s so nice of you for even remembering/keeping up with my all-over-the-place posting schedule!
Today’s Writer Wednesday might be a little late, but it’s still Wednesday where I live, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun! I’m so happy to have Lauren Morrill on my blog today, talking about her past novels and her upcoming novel, Better Than the Best Plan!
I’m really excited for this one and love the sound of romance, happy endings, foster care, and cute boys next door! So, read on for five things in all Lauren Morrill books, and stay tuned for a giveaway!
Five Rules of a Lauren Morrill Book
Better Than the Best Plan is my fifth YA novel, which, you guys, is absolutely bananas. Five books and seven years makes one want to take a look back, and well, I started noticing a few patterns. If any of these speak to you, you should definitely pick up a copy of my new!
A fish out of water story
One of the first things my agent said to me when I was pitching him potential books was, “wow, you really love a fish out of water story, don’t you?” And, uh, yeah. I really do. I stories that take a character out of their world. In Meant to Be, it was sending Julia to London on a class trip. In Being Sloane Jacobs, it was having the figure skater and the hockey player switch places at summer camp. And with Better Than the Best Plan, it’s all about taking Ritzy out of her world, where she and her kooky mom struggle to get by, and sending her to Helena Island, where the high school kids “look like a promotional shot for better living through plaid and khaki.” Throw in a foster mother she never knew she had, a private beach, and a boy next door, and you’ve got a book I couldn’t wait to write and one I hope you can’t put down.
I watched Gilmore Girls when it originally aired on television (starting with the pilot – I’m an OG fan y’all). You can’t be a die-hard Gilmore fan without some of that banter seeping into your soul, and I think that’s why my characters are always engaging in sparky, romantic banter. Want a preview of Better Than the Best Plan? Ok, here’s a scene where Spencer is out for a run and has just come upon Ritzy, who is reading in a beach chair.
“Join me?” he asks, barely breathing hard as he prances in the sand next to me.
“You’re kidding,” I reply, a statement of fact, not a question.
“Come on, join me!” He tosses his head down the beach, as if the route of the run is going to rouse me from this chair.
“I’m wearing flip-flops.”
He shrugs. “I’ll wait.”
I arch an eyebrow at him. “Jogging in place the whole time?”
Guess I’m going to have to lay the hammer to his dreams that he made out with a sporty girl, because no.
“Look, tennis was one thing, but I only run if –”
“Bears are chasing you, yeah, yeah, yeah,” he says.
“Actually, no, if a bear is chasing me, I’m curling up on the ground playing dead and hoping for the best. Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel?”
“So under what circumstances do you run?”
I pause, tapping my finger on my chin. “Now that I’m pressed to think about it, none. Under no circumstances do I run.”
A killer first kiss
Look, I really laid the gauntlet down with my debut, Meant to Be, when Julia has the most incredible first kiss in a field in Stratford-Upon-Avon in – oh yeah – a rainstorm. I hate to toot my own horn (lies!), but you guys, it was a good kiss. I’ve been working to top that ever since. For Better Than the Best Plan, my characters are living on an island. I knew I needed to take them off dry land for the big moment. So I sent them off to stargaze on the 4th of July and well, you’re going to have to read the book to find out what happens next!
Lots of delicious food
If there’s one solid trope in a Lauren Morrill book, it’s luxurious descriptions of tasty treats. I mean, I wrote a book set on a cruise ship. If you think I didn’t have fun describing a million buffets, then you’ve never read a Lauren Morrill book (what are you waiting for?). And Better Than the Best Plan has one of my favorite food scenes yet. When Ritzy and Spencer find themselves at one of those pop-up carnivals in an old Kmart parking lot, of course they were going to get funnel cakes. Passing a funnel cake booth without partaking is basically a violation of international law (that’s right … right?). It helps that the ensuing scene, involving some very sassy children’s performers named Taffy and Joe and some trademark snarky banter between our main characters, is one of my favorite scenes I’ve ever written.
A happy ending
I write romance, and there’s only one hard and fast rule in romance: there must be a happy ending. But Better Than the Best Plan proved to be a tricky one to untangle. Ritzy is on Helena Island because her mother has abandoned her. She’s in foster care, staying with the foster mother who took care of her for the first two years of her life, a fact Ritzy never knew – until now. As I wrote, I had to figure out where Ritzy belonged right along with her.
This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, because my sister worked as a social worker. I know that the American foster care system is so often broken. I know a lot of kids suffer inside it. But I also know that there are good people – social workers and foster families and biological families – all living inside it, too. And I wanted to give those people a voice on the page. I wanted the dedicated, competent social worker to see herself. I wanted the loving foster mom to see herself. I wanted the mom who worked her ass off to get her kid back to see herself. And I wanted to write a foster care story that wasn’t predicated on pain, but perhaps offered a ray of hope or a vision of something good. It might seem like a fantasy, but I know it’s real. And besides, I think we could all use more happy endings in this world. Maybe reading about them can inspire us to go out and make them real.
If you want to help kids in foster care in America, check out Together We Rise. Their mission is to transform the way kids experience foster care. Visit them at https://www.togetherwerise.org/
The banter excerpt was SO CUTE ohmygosh
This book was made for me and I want to read it so badly after the excerpt. The not running part is a big mood and ooooh it had so much flair for such a short passage wow
I’m really excited, and I haven’t read any of Lauren’s books, so this might end up being my first one! Fingers crossed!
Plus, if you enjoyed this post, make sure to let Lauren know on her social channels found in the “More About the Author” section!
More About the Book
Better Than the Best Plan by Lauren Morrill
Hardcover, 336 pages
June 25th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Lauren Morrill’s Better Than the Best Plan is a fresh, funny, romantic YA novel about a teenage girl who finds an unexpected silver lining in her life when plans get turned upside down.
Plans are made to be broken.
It’s the last day of junior year, and seventeen-year-old Ritzy—short for Maritza—is pretty sure she has a great plan. Summer job—check. Hang with friends at the beach—check. Keep looking after herself as she’s been doing since her mom bailed to follow her bliss—check. Or no check?
After someone reports that Ritzy is living alone, a social worker shows up and puts her into foster care. That’s surprise enough. Even more surprising? Ritzy has been in foster care before, as an infant, and the woman who cared for her then takes her in again. But maybe the greatest surprise of all for Ritzy is that living with her foster mother, Kristin, in Kristin’s gorgeous house, isn’t all that bad. And neither is the cute, friendly boy next door. If Ritzy’s mom hadn’t gotten her back all those years ago, this is the life she could have had. But is it the life she should have had?
When Ritzy’s old life catches up with her new one, she has some decisions to make. Can she plan for the worst, but still hope for the best?
More About the Author
LAUREN MORRILL grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was a short-term Girl Scout, a (not so) proud member of the marching band, and a trouble-making editor for the school newspaper. She graduated from Indiana University with a major in history and a minor in rock & roll, and now lives in Macon, GA with her husband and sons.
Lauren is the author of several YA novels, including MEANT TO BE (Random House) and the forthcoming BETTER THAN THE BEST PLAN (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / June 25, 2019).
Hehe, I did promise you a giveaway!
If you’re feeling lucky (or even if you’re not), enter this giveaway through the Rafflecopter button below where one lucky winner will receive a signed hardcover of Better Than the Best Plan! (US Only–sorry!)
Good luck! You can also enter on Twitter for another entry.