Friday, December 17, 2010

Revelations

So, a few days ago I had a revelation about my main character. Here's the thing: when I wrote The Hamsa's Song, I knew Satya (the MC) backwards and forwards. I knew her favorite foods. I knew how she walked, how she spoke, how she responded to fear and confusion and happiness. Satya was clear in my mind from the beginning, as were the rest of the characters in the story.

I guess I was just lucky. The Hamsa's Song was my first novel to receive any public attention, and part of me assumed it would be easy the second time around. Not so. With Untitled Novel (my WIP), the characters started out blurry, and remained so because I didn't want to take the time to develop them. I thought they would simply appear fully formed, as they did in The Hamsa's Song.

It didn't work out, and I found myself with a plot that I loved accompanied by mediocre characters. I pulled my hair out for weeks, trying to convince myself nobody would notice, even though I knew I would have to fix them at some point or another. Trouble was, I had no idea how.

Then BAM! Revelation.

I was half-asleep in Statistics when Mal popped into my head, waving her arms like a lunatic, just begging to be translated into my computer. She retained some aspects of the original character, but, as with Satya, I suddenly understood her thought process and the motivations behind her actions. For days I had agonized over how to develop Mal's personality, only to have it hit me like a big yellow school bus (think Mean Girls).

The changes didn't take all that long. I've been working furiously for the past couple days, and I'm almost finished. Thing is, once I had a better comprehension of Mal's character, I began to realize things about the other characters that hadn't occurred to me before. I feel like I've added a whole new layer to the story; it's amazing how much a simple change can affect the entire feel of the novel. I am so grateful. My book is a million times better than it was, and I'm starting to gain more confidence that the story will eventually find a home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I begin to doubt....

Now, I'm generally a pretty optimistic person. Glass half full, if you will. I try to keep a smile on my face and when things go wrong I look forward to better times.

That being said, I have constant doubts about myself as a writer. Tonight I read through part of my manuscript. It was all right. Not great, not even good, but just okay. Now, perhaps if I read that section again tomorrow it will seem a lot better. Perhaps it's all a matter of perspective. But when I finished reading this evening, I sincerely began to doubt whether or not I'm cut out to be an author.

It's hard to write books. Really, really hard. It's hard to revise and kill your babies and listen to critique and stay up late on school nights because you have to finish another page. Everything about writing a book is hard. And the thing is, it never stops. Agents reject you. Editors want a seemingly endless number of revisions. You pull the book apart piece by piece, in the hopes that when you splice it back together things will still make sense. And if you're lucky, the story will be better for it. Once the book is published the critics will tear into it and point out all the logistic flaws you missed while writing. Some readers will hate it. And then you go at it again, sitting down in front of a blank page on a computer screen, ready to subject yourself a second time around to the same emotional torture.

Okay, so I'm being dramatic, but you get what I'm saying. Writing is hard. I've always wanted to be an author, and I never questioned the legitimacy of this sentiment until recently. Because when it comes down to it I'm not sure if I can pull this off.

Discouragement. It's part of the process. I guess the real question is, how far are you willing to go before the discouragement becomes too much to handle?

Monday, December 6, 2010

PUSH Novel Contest

Again, I'm a horrible blogger. My posts are becoming more and more erratic by the month. I don't have time for a real post today, what with college apps and homework, but I just thought I'd share a short article about the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Novel Contest:

Article

As you might've noticed, me and my book are mentioned at the end of the article. Hope you enjoy, and if you know any young novelists out there tell them to google Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why I Love Critiques

First of all, I've never been one to share my writing. I wrote five novels before the age of 17 and it's only in the past six months that I've actually let people read them. In fact, David Levithan and the Scholastic Editorial Board were the first to look at any of my work, back in April when I submitted to the PUSH Novel Contest.

I thought receiving critique would be difficult for me. Like all writers, I become emotionally invested in my efforts, and thus criticism becomes personal no matter how hard I try to distance myself. I've been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to work with critique partners. I may not always agree with what they say, but in the end we both want the same thing: to make our books the best they can be. So here's a shoutout to all the people who have read my work so far:

Liz Whelan, who read the first, completely unedited draft of my WIP. Thanks so much for putting up with the initial suckage!

Ali Cross, Liesl Shurtliff, Sarah Johnston, and Kathleen, my first set of beta readers. I haven't gotten your comments back yet, but I'm sure they will be awesome and incredibly helpful.


I am thankful for my CP's!!!



P.S. College applications are kicking my ass...seriously, I think I'm mentally slow or something because I do not understand common app. My English teacher laughed at me yesterday for asking stupid questions about transcripts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

SCBWI Conference

So, I am officially the worst blogger ever, I know....but hey, college applications are due in the next month so at least I have an excuse. Things have been pretty busy lately. I'm over my head in school work/friend stuff, but I set aside time last weekend in order to attend the SCBWI Conference at the SLC Main Library.

First off, I had a really great time getting to know people at the conference. I don't have many writer friends, what with the whole being 17 thing, but when I get the chance it's so much fun to meet others who are passionate about the written word. All the presentations were wonderful, particularly Matt Kirby's speech on voice and how to obtain one. The day was rather long for me (I've got a pretty limited attention span) but overall the experience was wonderful. Also, I'll take free food any day ;).

The highlight of my conference experience came at the end of the day, when I got to meet with an editor from Random House. I sent her the first chapter of my WIP back in October. She read it, asked some questions, and gave me a list of notes and suggestions. Her input was very helpful.

Anyways, I hope you are all writing like crazy! Anybody doing NaNo? If you are, I applaud your diligence, and maybe you can share some of your secrets with me :). I have a feeling I'd fail at NaNo even if I did have extra time.

On an entirely unrelated note, I finally joined twitter. If you're on there you should stop by and say hello!

Kate's Twitter


See ya!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Award!

Thanks to Ali Cross for the wonderful blog award! She's one of my favorite writers on the net, and I'm so honored she chose to give me the Cherry on Top Award:



Cute, right? Anyways, the award requires me to answer this question:

"If you had the chance to go back and change on thing in your life, would you, and what would you change?"

Oh boy. Where to start. I know I'm only seventeen, but I've done plenty of things I'm not proud of, particularly during middle school and high school. It's hard to choose one incident, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say my entire sophomore year.

Parts of 10th grade were awesome. Actually, I'd say it was one of the happiest years of my life, when you add everything up. I had a pretty close-knit group of friends, and the kids in my grade got along well. What I really regret are the lies I told. I regret all our stupid, rash decisions. As a sophomore I had a lot of senior friends, and thus lived a senior lifestyle, complete with broken curfews and weekend parties. Looking back I can't believe some of the things we did. If I had the chance, I would take back and lies and the rumors. It wasn't worth it in the end.

I'd like to pass this on to Liesl, an incredibly talented writer who I met this summer at WIFYR. Her blog is wonderful! Definitely deserving of the Cherry on Top Award.


~Kate

Monday, October 25, 2010

Because Madeleine L'Engle said it so much better....

Going back to my post on fantasy fiction and whether or not it has literary merit, here is Madeleine L'Engle's take on the subject. She made this comment based on submissions to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in the 1970's. I think this perfectly sums up what I was trying to say, albeit with much more grace, clarity, and eloquence:

“I am pleased to note a wider enthusiasm for the world which is beyond the world of provable fact, an awareness of fantasy and fairy tale as vehicles of truth, rather than as escape from truth.”

I have to admit, she's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beta Suggestions Needed

So I finished the second draft of my manuscript today, and it's almost time for betas (probably around the beginning of November). I've never done the whole beta-thing before. With The Hamsa's Song I just did self-edits, read through the story once or twice, and sent it off to my editor.

Sigh. If only things were that simple.

With this story I need betas. I can't objectively evaluate my work at this point and outside opinions would be invaluable. Trouble is, I'm not sure how to go about finding betas, especially people who have the time to turn over an entire manuscript in about three weeks. I want readers who I know and trust. A lot of writers find betas through conferences, or networking at various writing events. With not much experience in the conference department, and as a relatively new face in the Utah writing community, my pool of potential betas is rather small. Obviously I'd be willing to do an exchange of manuscripts. Two cousins (ages 14 and 15) have agreed to read my WIP, but I'd really love to get critiqued by other writers.

So what are your suggestions? How do you go about finding betas, and are you picky about who is allowed to read your manuscripts? Do you choose people you've met in person or look for readers online?

I'm going to go eat chocolate now, because revisions always make me crave sugars and saturated fats. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Does fantasy fiction have literary merit?

When I attended the Yourword creative writing residency this summer, I met a girl named Kim. She and I became great friends, but a few weeks ago Kim mentioned something, something which got me thinking about the fantasy genre and how it fits within the academic community. She said, "When I first met you, and you said you wrote fantasy, I was worried you were going to be weird and socially awkward. I'm glad you're not!" I can't blame her. There are so many stereotypes surrounding fantasy, it's hard for many people to understand why someone would choose to write genre fiction.

The other day my little sister, who's almost 16, asked her English teacher if she could read The Lord of the Rings as an independent reading book. The teacher responded no, because The Lord of the Rings is fantasy and therefore lacks literary merit. This ticked me off. Just because something's made up, doesn't mean it can't be insightful, philosophical, and deeply rooted in the human experience. I don't write fantasy simply for the pleasure of using strange creatures or magic spells. I write fantasy because it goes back to the beginnings of human civilization, the myths and legends that defined the evolution of culture.

As living creatures, humans are different from other animals. We build cities and have highly organized systems of government. We communicate through language and the written word. But what really separates us, what defines our role as conscious beings, is the ability to create, to contemplate those things we don't fully understand. For me, fantasy is about the exploration of the unknown. I spend all of my life living in the real world. Writing fantasy is a way to answer the questions that don't have concrete answers. It delves into the human imagination, the strange, sometimes twisted workings of the mind, and explores a character's psyche by having them face challenges and tasks which don't exist in our version of reality. By mentally placing myself in such situations, I've gained a deeper understand of myself as a person and the thoughts of my characters. Many of the great fantasy authors use their writing as a catalyst to explore philosophy, religion, and politics. It is a genre of subtle metaphors and moral condundrums. Having read so many wonderful fantasy books, which contain underlying political and social contexts, themes rooted in today's society, and complex, well-developed characters, it is beyond me how an English teacher could condemn an entire genre as being inferior and lacking in terms of literary merit.

Humans don't understand the world. We turn to religion, science, and other explanations in an attempt to ground ourselves, to stave off the panic of not knowing how we came to be or where we'll end up. In a constantly shifting universe, our ability to imagine is the only thing we can be sure of.

Truth is hard to define. But, as humans, I believe fantasy is the closest thing to truth we have.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book Week, and guest blogging

First off, I did a guest blog post over at QueryTracker.net. Thanks so much to Suzette Saxton for giving me the opportunity!

I'm sure most of you have heard of the Speak/Slaughterhouse-Five/Twenty Boy Summer controversy. In honor of Banned Book Week, I've decided to share some thoughts on censorship.

First off, one of my favorite book series, His Dark Materials, made the top ten list of most challenged books in the past decade. It's not particularly surprising. His Dark Materials has content that could be considered anti-Christian, and many parents do not want their children exposed to literature which challenged their beliefs. Religious censorship in particular bothers me. If a person is sure of their faith, why would they object to reading books from all different points of view? For instance, I'm not Christian, but I still enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia. Why should kids not read from a wide variety of perspectives? After examining many religious angles, they will be more equipped to choose their own set of beliefs rather than having an adult choose for them.

While I understand parents censoring what young children read, it is beyond me why an adult would want to stop teenagers from reading literature with mature content. As a teen I feel my intelligence has been insulted. Do people think we don't know about rape and sex and drugs? The book Speak is often challenged for the rape scene, which is, in my opinion, poignant and sparse in terms of graphic description. Rape happens. It's important teenagers know about sexual violence, because having the right information is the only way to prevent it/seek help once it occurs. Shielding kids will only hurt them in the long run.

As writers and non-writers alike, I urge everyone to speak out against censorship. Other people should not be able to dictate what we can and can't read. To wrap up my little rant, here is a link to a poem by Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Speak, composed entirely of snippets from letters she's received: Speak Up About Speak.

Kate

Monday, September 13, 2010

New Favorite

In case any of you writers haven't come across this blog, check it out:

SlushPile Hell


Basically, the site is run by a literary agent who posts excerpts from awful query letters (italicized), then responds with comments of her own. Here are some of my favorites:


I started writing my novel 10 years ago. I never realized it would be this long and hard.

In the words of Michael Scott, “That’s what she said.”


I have an idea for a book about a dog. Before I take the time to write it, can you tell me if dog books are still hot?

I’m glad you didn’t waste your time. Dog books are out. Manatee books are in.



With all due respect, please keep in mind that I am hiring an agent, not applying for a job, and I do insist on keeping a certain amount of mystery surrounding myself for my own protection.

And don’t forget to wear your aluminum foil hat to protect yourself from the government’s mind control signals.


I want an agent who’s confident to get me a 7 figure book deal or high 6 figure deal, not some bull crap deal.

Funny, that’s exactly what I say to editors when I send them a proposal. Works every time.


How do you think it would be to live without emotions?

You do know I’m a literary agent, right?


God told me to write this book and that it would become a bestseller.

I talked to God. He said he was just messing with you.


I feel my book would be perfect for Penguin, Random House, or Simon & Schuster. Can you tell me whether you have good contacts at those publishers?

Sorry, I’ve never heard of those publishers.



The list goes on and on. I know I shouldn't laugh at the failure of others, but in this case, I just can't help myself :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

A little bit late....Writing for Charity

This past weekend I attended the Writing for Charity event at Waterford School. First off, it was so nice to be back at Waterford!!! I have such good memories from WIFYR and it was great to spend time there again. One or two people even recognized me (I got some questions about the first page contest), and I met a few wonderful writers who I've heard about through blogs/facebook.


Some highlights:

~Me eating about nine cookies. Yeah, I know, the fat person inside me is determined to get out.

~Talking to Matt Kirby and Sheila Nielson, both of whom are published by Scholastic.

~Meeting Ann Dee Ellis. I read her blog all the time (Throwing Up Words) and I know Carol, but I hadn't met her in person until this event. She's wonderful :).

~Listening to other people's first pages. Even though i didn't bring my own, it was fun to hear the work of such talented writers.

~Getting my book signed by Sara Zarr. Let's face it, she's awesome.

~James Dashner offering to auction off Shannon Hale's placenta in front of a large family-oriented audience.

~Brandon Mull talking about sex in front of said audience, then laughing.

~Getting frozen yogurt.

~The author panel.

~Shannon Hale in general, who is hilarious.

~Emily Wing Smith. She's the nicest person, an awesome writer, and she always makes me laugh.


So there you go. What an great event! I'm happy to support such a wonderful cause, and I'm looking forward to attending next year.

On a different note, I started school Wednesday. Three hours into the first day and I already had Senioritis. Much as I love my school friends, this summer was the best, and I miss all my writing buddies so much!!!! I'm flying out to see Kita in October (and visit colleges, but that's not important). Can't wait!

My school schedule:

Red Days:
1st period - Teacher's aide for Ms. Thompson
2nd period - World Civilizations
3rd period - FREE
4th period - FREE

Black Days:
1st period - IB English
2nd period - FREE
3rd period - AP Statistics
4th period - AP Biology


Pretty easy, if I do say so myself. Nothing in comparison to what my schedule was last year. Still, I'm worried about keeping up on my school work, since I'm already struggling to focus on writing. There are just so many social distractions! Every time I sit down to get stuff done someone invites me out, and I just can't resist a good party.

Sigh.

I need to focus.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Skittles

Sorry I haven't blogged in so long. This past month has been really busy, and it's hard to find time to keep up with all my writing obligations.

I just spent two weeks at the yourword creative writing residency in New Smyrna, Florida. There are no words to describe how this experience impacted me. I got to work with some amazing writers, both my peers and the Master Artists. Benjamin Percy headed our fiction group. He likes purple skittles (or so we speculated), knows how to present an engaging seminar, and has the deepest voice of any person I've ever heard. We had so much fun in his class, and I'm really going to miss his humorous comments and creative insight. Although they were not my main teachers, I absolutely loved working with Denise Duhamel and Beverley Donofrio. Denise was brilliant in her use of poetry to help us fiction writers develop characters. She smiled so much I'm surprised her face doesn't hurt, and she always had kind words for all participants. Bev was amazing. If you haven't read Riding in Cars with Boys (or seen the movies, for that matter) you should definitely check it out. I will be eternally grateful for her thoughtful evaluation, and also for giving me the courage to write and present a memoir piece on the final night of the program.

My time at Atlantic Center for the Arts has taught me many things, but I am most grateful for the friends I made, friends who I'm sure I'll be in touch with many years from now. Caroline, Kim, and especially Kita, you guys made this trip for me. I love you so much! Can't wait for y'all to fly to Utah. Sundance 2011 baby!!!

Anyways, that's about all I can think of for this post without becoming incredibly redundant. Below are some pictures. Aren't writerly people just awesome? :)




Kita and I before the final public reading




Waves!





Kita and I in the ocean




Piggy-back!




Me and Kim





Kita Kate Kim





Haha. Love this one.




Me, Caroline, and Zac Effron





Kita and I in the library




Me, Kita, and Caroline

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

ATTENTION UTAH WRITERS

If you are going to be in town August 21, and you read/write children's literature, click here:

Writing for Charity 2010

Everyone should sign up for this. Everyone. The money goes to a good cause, it's not super expensive, and I've heard through the grapevine that many, many authors are going to make an appearance. What better way to network with fellow writers? Plus I'm going to be there, and I would love to see you all again.

Come on. You know you want to.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Those days....

True: Kate tends to fall off stationary objects, like chairs and couches.

Do you ever have one of those days? You know, one of THOSE days?

Yeah. I'm having one. Everything I write seems awful, my manuscript is bogged down with purple prose and pathetic attempts at character development, and all potential titles are, to be quite frank, lame. I tried to write. Instead, I ended up staring at the blank TV, folding pieces of tape into triangles, and throwing erasers at the wall. ADD kicked in fast and hard.

My motivation has gone on vacation. A long, very expensive vacation, in a place with no cell phone service or wireless connections. We have had no contact at all. Thus the quality (and quantity) of my writing has suffered.

So I ask you this, dear readers (all 10 of you). How do you motivate yourself? What do you do when your motivation joins your muse on an island in Hawaii, leaving you to flounder in the muddled realm of your own brain? How do you cope? Why are we writers in the first place?

Sigh. I'm going to go wallow in despair now. If, by any chance, you happen to come across my motivation, please call and let me know. I will collect it promptly.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I've fallen in love....

....with Africa. On June 23, 2010, our Youthlinc team set out for Kenya. We flew from SLC to Denver, Denver to Washington, Washington to Rome, Rome to Ethiopia, and Ethiopia to Kenya. More than 30 hours of travel....by the time we arrived at the Nairobi airport, I was already wishing I was back home.

How glad I am I decided to stay. We spent the majority of our time in Kiamuri, a small village about eight hours north of Nairobi, living in a convent with Sister Mary and seven other nuns. This trip has changed my life forever. It is impossible to describe how I felt, playing with the Kenyan children, mixing cement to build classrooms, teaching in the schools, and spending time with all of my fellow Youthlinc students. I love these people so much. The experience of service has truly made me a better person, and I am determined to return to Africa someday and continue the projects I started.

Our Youthlinc team worked very hard this past year. From October through May we completed a total of 2,436 hours of local community service, as well as raising the money necessary to fund all of our projects in Kenya. We collected over 3,000 pairs of shoes for the shoe drive (although we only ended up taking 250), raised money to fund microenterprise loans, gathered donations to build three classrooms at Kiamuri secondary and Gikuuru primary, bought computers and baking supplies to teach vocational training, and collected hundreds of school kits and hygiene/medical supplies. In-country we worked on construction, taught the children, and distributed all of the items we had compiled. Every night I went to bed exhausted. We had group reflection periods on certain evenings, which forged a very deep emotional connection between all members. In the mornings we got up and walked several miles, by way of Kenya's dusty red roads, just to get to the schools where projects took place. We walked back to the convent for lunch, then again to the schools, then back to the convent. I've never walked so much in my life. We didn't just visit Kenya, we experienced it.

There's no possible way for me to adequately describe the time I spent with Youthlinc, so I'm just going to list some of the highlights of the trip (both good and bad):

~Power outage at the Ethiopian hotel.
~The day our bus tipped over because our driver backed into a ditch - scary at first, funny afterwards.
~Opening ceremonies, when all of the kids came running down the road to greet us, fighting for the chance to give us a hug or touch our hands.
~Opening ceremonies, when the children performed traditional dances to welcome us to the village.
~Walking for almost two hours to get to church.
~Visiting shambas (farms).
~Sister Mary singing, "How old are you now?"
~The kitten at the convent which everyone hated (except me)
~Eating potatoes EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR EVERY SINGLE MEAL - Scott talking on the phone, saying, "You have no idea what the potato situation is here..."
~Goat meat, untrimmed.
~Singing "Don't stop believing"
~Dancing to Waka Waka
~Watching House on Danielle's laptop at night.
~Talking about all the America food we were going to eat when we got home (nothing with potatoes, of course).
~Having no electricity in the room with 12 girls.
~Doing the hokie pokie with the kids.
~Soda in Kenya tastes better than soda in the US...drinking Fanta all the time.
~Eating Glucose cookies.
~Becca and I trying to teach about the earth/sun to nursery (kindergarten) kids who didn't understand English.
~Walking down the street, and every single person waves/greets you.
~Children asking "What is my name?" instead of "What is your name?"
~Looking at a picture of Becca in a short dress, one of the Kenyan girls goes, "You wear very tiny clothes in America."
~Playing soccer, and getting our asses kicked (Fact: All Kenyans are ninja at soccer, or "football," as they call it)
~All kids are trilingual: English, Kiswahili, and Kimeru (local language)
~Being bad at construction.
~Banana trees.
~Kyler pretending to freak out when we did a seance.
~Playing with the cutest kids in the world.
~The day the nuns had a dance circle of women come to entertain us, and we all joined in.
~"When the whites and the blacks get together with the Lord, get together, get together with the Lord, they will treat each other like sisters and brothers when we all get together with the Lord."
~"The time to be happy is now now now and the place to be happy is here and the way to be happy is to make someone happy and have a little heaven down here."
~Me falling backwards in my chair in the middle of a team meeting - twice.
~Everything Emily says is hilarious.
~The day Matthew brought Scott a chicken as a present, because they were "age mates" (as in, they're the same age).
~The day Becca and I joined the juggling (soccer) circle with the Kenyan boys, who were all very impressed with our mad skills.
~Watching Anna cry when she taught maturation to the older girls.
~The day I caught an African sickness, and threw up for 24 hours straight.
~Britnie's hair.
~Britnie yelling at all of us because of water bottles and pens.
~Trying to bargain with Dickson.
~Kyler and I trying to teach math to the secondary school kids, who were all smarter than us.
~Being coated from head to toe in red dust.
~The nuns scolding us for not showering.
~The day we got up at 6:00 in the morning to go on a 3 hour hike to the top of a mountain to see the water source for Kiamuri. We were expecting a spring or a waterfall. Our guide hacked his way through the jungle with a machete, carving a path to the mountaintop. We arrived, sweaty, exhausted, and dirty, to find that the water source was a 2 by 2 foot metal box with some dirty water at the bottom. Most anti-climactic hike ever.
~Doting on Bahati.
~Passing the equator four times on our way to Sweetwaters, the hotel we stayed in for one night on the way back to Nairobi.
~Lying out to "tan" in our bras by the pool.
~Kenya's five star hotel has tents for bedrooms.
~Watching the World Cup game between Spain and Germany.
~Going on safari for a day.
~Streaking naked across the entire hotel compound in the middle of the night. We didn't tell Britnie (our team leader) because we thought she would be mad, but in the morning she was bummed that she didn't get to streak with us. Reason #428 that we love Britnie: she's willing to streak with a bunch of teenagers.
~Tearful goodbyes.

Well, there's a very brief recap of my Kenya experience. I miss it so much! Below are some of my favorite pictures from the trip, in no particular order. It really is a beautiful place...I can't wait to go back someday!!!





Outside our Ethiopian hotel





Convent in Meru





After Opening Ceremonies





Grades 1-8 classrooms at Gikuuru primary school





Cute kids




More kids!!!!





This girl was so sweet





There really is no end to the amount of pictures I have with cute children.





This little girl was sick....wouldn't stop crying. She fell asleep like this.





Me, Abbie, Marla, and Ayrowyn, at Kiamuri's water source after our hike through the African bush





Me, wearing the brown, at the African dance circle....props to Kyler (pictured) and Trent for putting on skirts and joining the dance!





Chiseling bricks for construction




Secondary school girls!!!




Camel!!!





Trent, Becca, Abbie, Me, Lisa, Chelsea, Hannah, Emily, Genevieve, Ayrowyn, Kelly Jo, Sam, and Kevin at Sweetwaters after our safari.


I love you all, Kenya Youthlinc 2010!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Back!

Well, everyone, I'm back from Kenya! First of all, I'm happy to announce that my bunny has made a miraculous recovery! Although the vet previously told us he had brain cancer, his head has gone back to normal, which means he most likely suffered from a rare stroke. He may live for many years to come!

I can't even begin to describe the experience I had in Kenya. There are no words for what I felt, no way to explain how it changed me. I fell in love with Africa. I cried for hours on the plane ride home, wishing I could stay longer, especially considering how difficult it was to get there in the first place. I love every member of my Youthlinc team, and I'm already going through separation anxiety now that I don't get to see them everyday. We shared something truly special. We will always hold Africa in our hearts.

I'm super jet-lagged at the moment, so I'll do a more detailed Kenya post later. For now, though, I'm going to share with you our team's dance to Waka Waka, which we performed at the closing ceremonies in Kiamuri. We didn't have much time to prepare for the ceremony, what with all of the other work we did in the village, so this is the best we could come up with. Here's to you, Youthlinc 2010 team!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hiatus

Well, tomorrow's the day. I depart for Kenya at 9:20 in the morning. See you all in a few weeks!

On an entirely unrelated note, this made me laugh:




P.S. I just found out about the whole background/template thing.....so many to choose from! This discovery made my day :).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Being a kid in an adult's world...

....can be very confusing. When I attended WIFYR, I was by far the youngest in my critique group, and one of the youngest at the conference in general. I'm not saying there aren't other young aspiring authors out there, but the majority of serious writers are definitely adults. And once you get into the business of publishing....well, that's when you leave the world of kid-hood behind.

Now, I'm not a published author. I've taken some steps in the right direction, but I still have a long way to go before any one of my "books" hits the shelves. That being said, I've had some positive interactions with people in the publishing world, mainly editors and agents. It makes me wonder how other industry professionals view young writers. Do they look down on us? Do they ever take us seriously?

The whole idea of adult superiority has been a barrier that I've struggled to overcome. In my WIFYR critique group, it was hard for me to think of myself as an equal, even though we all attended the conference for the same reason. I assumed the others were looking down on me as they would a child. By the end of the week, however, I had made friends with all of these wonderful men and women, and my inferiority complex was drastically reduced. For the first time, I knew I was being taken seriously as a writer and person. I think winning the first page contest was especially gratifying for this exact reason. Although I've won contests before (Scholastic being the biggest), I had never entered one with adults. Winning has verified, in my mind at least, that my writing can stand up against adult work as well as teenage writing.

On a different note, my poor bunny has developed head tilt. He is eight and a half years old, and the sweetest little creature you ever did meet. I got him for my ninth birthday. He loves to snuggle, lick people, and fall asleep in your arms. He's gone downhill very quickly, and now he can hardly move because his balance is so skewed. He falls over and thrashes around and has to be fed through a syringe. It's heart-breaking to watch, and I'm afraid we may have to euthanize him by the end of the week.

Lastly, I leave for Kenya on Wednesday morning. I'm participating in a two week humanitarian project in the village of Kiamuri. Due to our isolated location, I won't be able to post/answer messages until after July 9th, the day we return.

That's it for today.

Love,
Kate

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers

This week I attended the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference in Sandy, Utah. I went in not knowing what to expect, and ended up improving my manuscript, making connections, and meeting tons of awesome writers who will surely become rich and famous in the next couple years :).

The morning workshops lasted four hours, during which a relatively small group of writers met together to exchange advice and critiques. My group was headed by Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series and Candy Shop War. The insight I gained into my own work through their thoughtful editing suggestions was invaluable. I will be forever grateful to these people, who are all talented, kind, open-minded, and well-educated. Here's to all of you: Ali, Michelle, Jeni, Gwen, Chersti, Joel, Sally, Brandon, Jason, Liesl, Gina, Gaylene, and Lana. Also, my heart goes out to Taylor, who had to return home after the first day of the workshop due to a family emergency.



Our Group



Liesl and I


The afternoon events varied with each day. After the plenary address I usually went to the mingle, where aspiring writers such as myself got to speak with published authors. I love authors. Seriously, being around people who are just as crazy as I am has been the highlight of my year so far. The encouragement I received made me excited to continue working on my project.

Thursday morning, I found out I won the WIFYR first page contest. This allowed me the opportunity to meet with an agent, Mary Kole of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Our session was wonderful! I really understood all of the advice she gave me, and I'm grateful that she took the time to go over the first section of my manuscript. I'm really hoping I'll get to work with her at some point in the future! She also told me she liked my shoes, which in my opinion makes her extra awesome :).

One of the best parts of the conference, as I already mentioned, was the authors. These are but a few of the people I met:



Carol Lynch Williams runs Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers. She's also the author of 5,623 different books*, including The Chosen One, which I read in a single day while I was in New York. It made me cry (almost).

When I arrived at the conference, I was convinced Carol was mean. Why, you might ask? Well, I'm not exactly sure. I think it's because she's not smiling in the picture on the back of her book (don't get me wrong, it's a great picture...she looks very dignified). Also, it might have something to do with her middle name being Lynch. It wasn't a conscious decision on my part, but I had gotten it into my head that Carol was the sort of person who's always very serious (and therefore somewhat scary).

Carol is actually hilarious. Plus, she's super nice, despite what I might have thought before attending the conference. I had so much fun listening to her speak and I absolutely love her writing. As the person who organizes Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, I have to say, thank you thank you thank you! It was an amazing experience. Barring death or serious physical incapacitation (knowing me, it's highly possible), I'll be back next year for sure!

And isn't our picture just adorable? :)

Carol's Blog (with Ann Dee Ellis)



Alane Ferguson has written 5.3 million books*, even more than Carol, if you can believe it. She is known for her flash critiques and brutal honesty. She's also an incredibly talented dancer, even if she won't let us (me) post the video on YouTube.

Alane is my new favorite person. Everybody buy her books. Seriously. The reason she is my favorite person is because she encourages all aspiring authors, no matter how good or bad their writing is, and because she doesn't hold back in her editing suggestions. Her advice helped me revise my first page and win the WIFYR contest. In essence, I owe her for my consultation with Mary, and I'm so grateful that she took the time to speak with me and critique my work. She's also hilarious, and I loved all of her presentations. Funny people are great. I like funny people.

Anyways, you should all visit her blog. Yes. I mean you. Click here:

Alane's Blog




This is me and Gentry with Sara Zarr, author of Story of a Girl, Sweethearts, and Once was Lost. First off, Gentry is awesome. She's 12 and she's already an amazing writer. I had a great time getting to know her and her aunt, Paige Kimball, during the afternoon sessions of WIFYR.

Anyways, Sara's books are very, very good. I've read the first two, and Once was Lost is next on my list. If you like contemporary YA, go buy her work right this moment. You won't regret it. I loved the presentation she did with her editor, and I feel like I really learned a lot from the things Sara said. She's always been so kind and encouraging (we first met back in November) and she's really inspired me to keep writing. You should also visit her blog:

Sara's Blog



Brandon is so cool. If you haven't read Fablehaven, you're missing out. He really knows how to cater to a young audience, and I loved hearing about his journey to publication and how he markets his books. As the head of my critique group, he did a wonderful job reviewing and editing our manuscripts. His advice was so helpful and I loved his sense of humor! He's secretly a nerd, like me, so we had fun talking about Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter :).

THANK YOU BRANDON!!!

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to The King's English, the most amazing bookstore in the entire world. I could spend forever in the children's room there. If any of you are ever in Salt Lake City, go here:

King's English


Anyways, that's about all I can think of to write, apart from reiterating how amazing this conference has been for me. I've never had an experience remotely like it. Thanks to all of you out there who made WIFYR possible, and I hope to see you next year!

*All figures are approximate

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Article+Teen Conference

Finally, it's here! This is the link to the article, published June 13 in the Mix section of the Salt Lake Tribune.

Article

Also, I attended a teen writing conference last weekend which I haven't yet had the chance to blog about. The conference was a day-long event at Weber University. I met tons of awesome young writers, as well as several published professionals including Julie Wright, Lisa Mangum, and Dan Wells. The classes were great and I loved getting the chance to socialize with other people who write fiction (we're definitely an interesting bunch). As a plus, the first page of my next novel won $50 in the first page contest!

On a different note, you should all check out Anna Waggener's blog (since I finally learned how to make a link). She's the 2008 winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards (there was no 2009 winner, so she's the most recent apart from me) and her blog is hilarious! Click the link. You know you want to.

That's it for today. Hope you are all doing well!

~Kate

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Recap

Tuesday, June 8:


First of all, let's start off this post with a story:

Once upon a time, a girl named Kate really, really wanted to see all of her senior friends graduate. Because the graduation was scheduled for Tuesday, Kate made her parents buy tickets on the midnight flight to New York so she would get a chance to attend. Then, West High School, most likely in an effort to annoy Kate, decided to change the date of graduation to Wednesday. Thus Kate was unable to see her best buddy Coco get her diploma. It was also too late to change the plane tickets. In conclusion, Kate and her parents were scheduled to fly to New York at 11:59 pm on Tuesday, June 8.

The End.


Anyways, Tuesday morning I got out of bed determined to finish self-editing The Hamsa's Song. I sat down at the computer, rolled up my sleeves, and promptly engaged in a riveting hour of surfing the internet. My inner motivator had seemingly dropped dead of some unknown cause. Having no alternative, I turned to my muse, who has been somewhat testy and irritable these past few weeks.

Me: Muse, Muse, wherefore art thou Muse?

Muse: *blinks*

Me: Aw, come on. It's just a bit of editing. Once I'm done with this we both get to relax for a few weeks.

Muse: I'm on vacation in the tropics. Leave me alone.

Me: What if I bribe you? How about mocha Frappuccinos and chocolate cheesecake?

Muse: *perks up*

And that, my friends, is how I found myself in Starbucks on a Tuesday morning, downing a 20 oz frappuccino and several slices of chocolate cheesecake. It was an impressive feat, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, however, my muse was obstinate, and refused to bring me the inspiration needed to finish my editing. Apparently vacationing in Hawaii is much more fun than sitting in SLC helping me pound my wayward thoughts into the semblance of a story. Thus the afternoon was spent watching mindless television, eating cheesy popcorn, and waiting for 10:00 when my family and I would head out to the airport. Awards tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 9:

My mom always says you should try to learn something new every day.

Today, I learned that I am physically incapable of sleeping on an airplane. We departed SLC at midnight, arriving in New York at 6:00 am. All in all I slept for about fifteen minutes. One train ride, a subway trip, and two bad cafes later, my parents and I arrived at the "bed and breakfast" where we were set to stay. I say "bed and breakfast" because it was actually the home of an old woman, who rents out her extra rooms to tourists who do not have the money (aka my family) to stay in a real hotel.

At noon we headed out to Scholastic, which was fortunately only five blocks away. I wasted no time taking pictures with Harry Potter and the Magic School Bus, as shown, before proceeding to the registration booth in the auditorium.




THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS




HARRY POTTER

The lines were long, but eventually I got all the necessary information, as well as my medal. It's awesome. I think I'm going to sleep with it from now on, like a teddy bear :)




Okay, not really, but I still think it's pretty cool. Anyways, after Scholastic we went back to the hotel to get dressed, then took a cab to Carnegie Hall for the dress rehearsal. I've never been in a cab before. Life Goal #137: Complete.





Upon arriving, I was greeted by a horde of other young artists and writers, dressed in their finest with medals swinging around their necks. It was all quite overwhelming, I assure you. Following a rather embarrassing incident (during which I almost skewered some poor girl on the end of my umbrella, due to my woeful inability to properly operate such a device), the award winners were ushered backstage to await the arrival of parents/media/other attendees. Below is a picture of backstage (are you bored by all the photos yet?).



The ceremony itself was absolutely wonderful. They had several speakers address the assembly, including past award winners, and some of the work was shown/read to the audience. Okay, I admit, I dozed off once or twice, but you can't really blame me after the horrific experience that was our plane flight. At eight o'clock Carnegie Hall erupted in applause, and the award winners were released to enjoy the remnants of the evening with our families.




I, of course, was starving, and thus our celebration consisted of eating the finest cheesecake New York had to offer. Below is (yet another) picture.




Sort of disgusting, right? Yeah, I know. What can I say, I like to eat. At the end of the night we returned to our rooms, where I promptly fell into bed without so much as showering or removing my contacts. Exhaustion does not even begin to describe it. All in all, however, it was a wonderful day, one I'm sure will forever change the course of my life and writing future.


Thursday, June 10:

This morning I woke up at 8:00. Determined not to look like a hobo, I showered, put on mascara, dressed, and departed the bed and breakfast for the Parson's School of Design. For those of you who don't know, Scholastic holds workshops for the award winners, which gives us a chance to socialize and learn more about our craft. My first workshop was a panel of editors and writers. The topic was the future of publication, and we had a discussion about blogs, facebook, ebook publishing, and kindle. On the whole informative, but not the most interesting workshop I've ever been to.



Afterwards my family and I took the Subway to Bryant Park, where the writing award winners were allowed to read their material before a large audience. I didn't read. No, it's not because I'm shy, it's simply because I don't like public speaking. There is a difference (looking at you, Ms. Thompson). I was very impressed with all of the reading and I consider myself lucky to be counted among such talented individuals. Seriously, everyone was awesome! From the park I took the subway down to 53rd Street. Now, I've been known to lack a certain amount of common sense, a fact which manifested itself in my complete and total inability to get through the gates to the subway. Eventually a merciful woman stopped to help. Turns out I was swiping the card upside down. Sigh. There's no hope for me.

My second (and final) workshop of the day was probably the highlight of my awards experience. Myself, several teachers, and about twelve other students had the opportunity to tour Harper Collins Publishing. The building is a huge skyscraper, very official-looking, with tons of security measures in place. Our guides took us up to a conference room on the 20th floor and served refreshments. Then we had a presentation from a group of Harper Collins employees, including an editor, a cover designer, and members of the marketing, publicity, and design teams. It was fascinating to hear how a book comes together with work from all different departments. Below is a picture of our conference room:





After the presentation, our guides took us on a tour of the building. It's very big. And amazing. And somewhat scary. The walls were lined with rows of books, all of which were (obviously) published by Harper Collins. I took pictures. Many pictures :).



Also, here is Aprilynne Pike's book Spells in the main case in the lobby of Harper Collins. I had the pleasure of meeting this author when she visited The King's English, so I was really excited to see her work in such a prominent area of display.



At the end of the tour our guides presented us with a bag of goodies :D. We received five Harper Collins books, two of which were ARCs (for those of you who might not know, ARCs are Advanced Readers Copies, meaning the book hasn't actually been released to the public). All of the books look really good and I can't wait to read them! In addition the bag contained several examples of promotional materials, including a brain-shaped stress ball and a bracelet that doubles as a USB thumb drive. On the way out we passed through a pair of swinging gates. The gates only move when an employee swipes his/her card. Now, being me, I freaked out when the gates slammed shut in front of me. Seriously, those things move fast! I don't like them. Not one little bit. In the end I ran through, praying fervently that they weren't about to skewer me through the middle.



Harper Collins Inside




Harper Collins Outside


After Harper Collins we headed straight to the World Financial Center, where the reception for the art exhibit was being held. The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards exhibit tours the country for two years after the June ceremony. The Financial Center is also right next to the World Trade Center site, so we got a chance to look around at the memorial.



The exhibit itself was amazing. Some of the pieces blew my mind, and I wish I was half as talented an artist as these kids. There was also food :). My family and I stuck around for a while, chatting with the other award winners, before heading out to get dinner. On Ms. Thompson's suggestion we went for New York pizza. The food was amazing, and I pretty much stuffed myself, but the highlight was probably seeing Justin Long buying a pizza at the same place we were eating (the guy from the Mac commercials, He's Just Not That Into You, Jeepers Creepers, Dodgeball, etc). Here is a picture of Justin Long:



Pretty cool, right? After pizza we returned to the bed and breakfast, where I immediately crashed and slept the night away.


Friday, June 11th:

With awards activities complete, my family and I spent the day wandering New York City. I bought clothes. And some more clothes. And...more clothes. I pretty much blew my college fund on clothes. I have a certain lack of self-restraint when it comes to shopping, and the absence of my best friend Coco to rein me in had a serious effect on my spending spree. Other than that the day consisted of walking. We checked out China Town, ate lots of high-calorie food, and returned to the bed and breakfast at four o'clock to prepare for the airport.

The Scholastic Awards are amazing. The organization has spent years and years honoring the nation's best artists and writers, rewarding creativity, and encouraging an appreciation of the arts. I am honored to be among the winners. I met a ton of awesome people who are both talented and humble, including Lisa, Emily, Mckenzie, Darcy, and many others. You guys rock! These awards have forever altered my future, and I am eternally grateful to the editors at Scholastic who have given me this opportunity to start my career.

There's my recap. Hope you enjoyed it :).

~Kate


P.S. Despite being severely technologically challenged, I've learned how to upload photos to my blog!!! Aren't you proud of me?

P.P.S. I'm pretty sure I used the words "amazing" and "awesome" about ten times each in this post. I apologize for the redundancy.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Yet another useless post

Yes, I know. I really am abusing this blog. I promise the next post will be less self-indulgent.

Behold, a censored excerpt from the "Things We Hate" list, as created by Kate, Katie, and Chloe during a rather boring English period. For the sake of being politically correct, the title has been changed to the "Things That Annoy Us" list.

-People who chew really loudly.
-The word "hella."
-When skinny girls complain about being fat.
-Theory of Knowledge (if you are or ever were an IB student, you know what we mean).
-Doing the dishes.
-Spending all your money on gas/food, then realizing it was all you had.
-Paraguay.
-Soccer tan lines (trust me, they can get pretty ugly).
-When your hair won't fall the right way no matter what you do.
-Summer reading.
-ANY summer homework.
-Homework in general.
-Snow in May (curse you, SLC).
-Teacher's pets.
-Being expected to fill highschool stereotypes.
-Dress code.
-Men (haha).
-Glen Beck (hahahahaha).
-Narwhal poaching.
-The fact that the dinosaurs died out, because let's face it, the dinosaurs were awesome.
-The word "shoot".
-People who use the words "lol" or "omg" as part of their regular vocabulary.


Now, to counteract all that negative energy, here's a list of things that are completely and irrevocably awesome:

-Narwhals.
-Dinosaurs.
-Comfort food of all kinds.
-Joss Whedon/Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
-Frozen yogurt.
-Cheesecake from the cheesecake factory (1500 calories per slice=heaven).
-Night swimming in the summer.
-Dress shopping, especially when your parents pay.
-Seeing how many saltine crackers you can eat in under a minute.
-Eating the frosting off cupcakes.
-Ice blocking.
-Bunnies.
-Drawing pictures on our IB Math Studies tests because we didn't know the answers.
-Doing interpretive dance as a way to answer a math problem (didn't work, by the way).
-Making fun of Mr. Marsden.
-Making fun of Ms. King.
-Making fun of Mr. Case.
-Not making fun of Ms. Thompson, because she's pregnant so we feel bad.
-Holding hands in Spanish class.


Yup. That pretty much sums it up. I feel like I should at least mention writing (after all, that's what this blog is all about) but nothing much has happened since I last posted. We leave for New York in eight days, and I'm so excited to attend the workshops at Scholastic! Chapter 33 is now complete. Just a few more to go, and then I get to enter the wonderful world of revisions. Wish me luck!

~Kate

Monday, May 24, 2010

Snow, Interviews, and Narwhals

Hello everyone! Hope you are all having a wonderful week...just a few more days until summer! I'm liking the whole list-type blog I tried in my previous post, so I think I'll stick with it for now.

1. Snow. Today is May 24th, and it's snowing. I hate Utah.

2. Interview. I spoke with a reporter last Wednesday, and the interview should be published sometime next week in the Close Up section of the Salt Lake Tribune. Overall I thought it went rather well, although I was nervous and I think I babbled a little bit during the Q&A.

3. Chapter 31 is now complete! My manuscript should be finished by early June, and I'm planning on doing a quick round of self-editing before I send it off to my editor. I'm hoping to get it in before June 23, the date I leave for Kenya.

4. Gossip Girl is awesome.

5. Frozen yogurt is awesome.

6. Writing is awesome!

7. 15 days until I leave for New York!

8. On Friday night I went out to a movie with some friends. We chose to see MacGruber, simply because it was the only movie that started at 8:00, and we wanted to take advantage of being 17. It was horrible.

9. 6 more days of school!

10. The other day my English teacher called me shy. Five minutes later she told me I talk too much.

11. Katie and Chloe and I like to draw Narwhals on the back of our essay papers.

12. This is a really useless post. I apologize to everyone who wasted time reading it.

13. Love, Kate

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Events of the Week.

1. Frostbite. Yes, I got frostbite....reffing a soccer game, of all things. Every Saturday my friend Coco and I get up early to ref the U11/U12 girls. It was raining, and we had to hang around after the games to take down the goals and nets. My feet were soaked. When I got home, I stood in a hot shower until all the water ran out, in a fruitless attempt to thaw my frozen toes. I ended up having a day of "bed rest" to allow my frost-bitten feet to regain feeling. Still can't curl my toes all the way.

2. Horrible, horrible experience with medication for Kenya. The first night, I took two pills, as instructed, and ended up vomiting for twelve straight hours. I missed my AP Psychology test and couldn't eat all day. A few days later I tried for a second time, reducing my intake to one pill. Once again, I spent the night throwing up every half hour, then had to drag myself out of bed at seven to go to work. I'm still a little shaky. Apparently my body doesn't metabolize this particular medication very well.

3. Interview with the Salt Lake Tribune. Next week I'll be meeting with a newspaper reporter, who's doing a story in the Close Up section about my novel and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. I'm super nervous! Publicity is something entirely new for me, and I'm not exactly sure how to act, especially since they'll be taking photos. What do I wear? What do I say? How does this whole newspaper thing even work?

4. I've been in touch with my editor, Jody Corbett. I'm sending her the completed manuscript at the end of the month. I'm very excited to work with her! This is an amazing opportunity, and I'm hoping I'll be able to launch a career with this novel, or at least pay my way through the first year of college.

5. Yesterday, I went to a total of 1 class (out of 4). I know what you're thinking: Kate, you're such a slacker! Thing is, my first three classes are AP/IB, and since we've already taken all our tests most teachers don't care whether or not we show up. In the immortal words of Ms. King: "I'm not going to be here tomorrow, and I'm not getting a sub to babysit you all. If you still want to come to class, then you can go sit in Ms. Anderson's room down the hall." Instead, I went and sat as Reservoir Park with Chloe and Ella, where we proceeded to play on the playground, throw woodchips at each other, and take pictures on top of the plastic dinosaur. Most productive school day of the year so far. :)

That's all for now.

~Kate

Thursday, May 6, 2010

FREAKING OUT

Today, I got a call from the entire editorial department of Scholastic PUSH.

Yes, you heard me right. The entire editorial department of Scholastic on speakerphone.

My novel, The Hamsa's Song, has won the Gold Medal in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards 2010. I will be going to Carnegie Hall on June 9th to accept the award. In addition, I have been assigned an editor from Scholastic, who will help me polish my novel with the goal that it will acquired and published sometime in the near future. My editor's name is Jody. To learn more about the awards, you can visit this website:

http://www.artandwriting.org/



Scholastic. As in, the company that published Harry Potter. As in, the largest distributor of children's books in the world.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm done freaking out.
:D

Monday, February 15, 2010

LTUE 2010, Service Work

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I attended the LTUE 2010 writing conference. I got to miss school. I got to drive two hours each day (with no coffee, I might add, since BYU doesn't sell any). I met people. I talked to people. I ate food. I saw authors. I spoke in disjointed sentences, which tends to happen when I'm tired.

My syntax aside, LTUE was amazing! It's hard to believe that such a wonderful conference is free and open to the public. I met so many great people, learned a lot from the discussions and the panelists, and got books signed by some of my favorite authors. I wish I had had a chance to talk to Stacy Whitman, but by Saturday I was too worn out to stay any longer.

Book #5 is about halfway done. I'm one of those 'edit as you go along' people, so my first drafts tend to be pretty well put together. I'm going to need readers. It's scary, giving a manuscript to someone else for the first time, especially since so much hard work and effort goes into its creation. The working title is The Hamsa's Song. I'm excited about this one, far more excited than I've ever been about a manuscript. Book #5 is special. Book #5 is going to help me take the next step.

Of course, that's all wishful thinking, but I'm trying to be optimistic. In the meanwhile, I just thought I'd write a little bit about Youthlinc. This summer, I will be traveling to Kenya with the Youthlinc program, to perform a 2-3 week service project in the village of Kiamuri. For those of you who don't know, I've wanted to go to Kenya since my Kindergarten class did an art lesson on Kenyan masks. I was five then. I'm 17 now, and finally, finally, I get to go to Africa. There are no words to express how excited I am.

In order to go to Kenya I have to complete 100 hours of local community service this school year. I have a Little Sister, Elsy, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Elsy is eight years old. We paint nails, swing on the jungle gym, play soccer, make videos, and play various games that are reminiscent of my elementary school days. Apart from my duties as a Big Sister, I volunteer at Shriners Children's Hospital in the Recreational Therapy program. It's a humbling experience to work with people who are less fortunate, and to realize how much we take for granted here in America.

Well, that's pretty much all I can think to write about my semi-boring life. Until next time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Authors I have met

I just thought I'd make a list. These are some of the authors I've met/had them sign my book/talked to.

-Brandon Mull.
-Scott Savage.
-Jessica Day George.
-Shannon Hale.
-Michelle Zink.
-James Dashner.
-That woman who wrote the Sammy Keys mysteries. Don't remember much of her, I was like 9.
-Kaleb Nation.
-Sara Zarr.
-Bree Despain.
-Mette Ivie Harrison.
-Julie Wright.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year...

Well, today is the first day of the New Year. January 1, 2010. One can only hope that 2010 will be better than 2009.

I finished the first draft of my manuscript on December 27, 2009. For some reason, I thought I'd feed a little more elated and less daunted by all the work that lies ahead. Now I have to revise. I have to edit. I have to actually let people read it (up until now I've been very adamant about keeping my book personal). Writing a novel is an effort that takes an extraordinary amount of time and creative energy. It's hard to accept criticism, when you've put so much work into something. However, criticism will make me a better writer, so I'm just going to have to grit my teeth and send it off.

Last week I caved in and read the Hunger Games, after reading review after review saying how great it was. I've never been much for sci-fi, but I wasn't disappointing. It's a great YA read! The writing wasn't particularly artful or poetic, but the plain, steady prose fit perfectly with the plot and the characters. Can't wait to read the next one.

Well, that's about all I can think of to write about today. Hope everyone has a great start of 2010!