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 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 :).


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.


  1. Haha! I turn 18, and you get two ARC's! Visit New York, turn 18, visit New York, turn 18. Visit New York! You can turn 18 any day ;D

    Yay, I love the pictures! You can never post to many pictures. After all, that's what facebook was pretty much made for :) My personal favorite is the cake. I have multiple pictures of me in almost the exact same position. I think you'd be able to appreciate them very much ;)

    Hope you're okay with answering this, but what point of view did you write The Hamsa's Song in? Do you normally write in that point of view? What is your philosophy on the different point of views? Probably my biggest dilemma in writing a book is not how main character A is going to escape the big bad meanie, but what point of view I'm going to write the thing in. So I'm just curious how another author feels about the subject :)

    To answer your question about the job, I do have one. I work at Pirates Island where I man the desk (or "woman" it, as my sister says XD). I also help with birthday parties, give tours, and do anything else they want me to do. I'm their wench. A pirate wench. (And I do dress up like a pirate. Arrrrg! :) )

    Ok, more random digression. It's about your book, the Hammmmsa's Song. At least, that's how I have to think about it every time I write it or say it. I want to say "Hasma's Song". I don't know why. Do you have problems with that? I always think that if I'm the author I won't purposefully choose something that's difficult for me to say or type, but I've done that before. You'd think we authors would be smart enough to not shoot ourselves in the foot.

    Your update was awesome! Totally fun, and stamina-challenging. For the writer, not the reader ;D It's always that way, sadly...
    Though I did read a book recently that did challenge my stamina! I absolutely did not like the book, but I read the entire thing either way. I was kinda sad. It has so much promise...

    There I go again. Digressing off the deep end.


  2. I want to turn 18!! ;)

    Ah, the cake. I still feel full every time I think about it. New York is awesome, but if I lived there I would probably be fat. Seriously, I didn't eat a single healthy thing the entire time.

    The Hamsa's Song is written in third person, but for my next two books I'm planning on writing in first person past tense and first person present tense. I think it really depends. For me, I spend a long time contemplating the story I'm intending to write, and whether or not the reader should have an intimate view of what the main character is thinking. It really comes down to the character and the story. I've never written in first person before, but for some reason I feel like my next two books need that extra foray into the MC's imagination. It's definitely an important decision.

    Sounds like a great job! I would love to dress up as a pirate. Haha I'm not doing anything money-related this summer, since Kenya will suck too much of my time away from work.

    I guess I don't usually say the title of my book out loud. Since I don't often give it to others to read, I haven't really spoken about it much. I guess the word has become so ingrained into my skull that I know how to pronounce it without thinking. Same with the MC's name, Satya.

    I had fun writing the update! I was so excited when I got back from New York, and I just wanted to tell everyone all about it (everyone, of course, being my four followers). Actually, I met a woman who might interview me on her blog, which has 30,000 followers. I'm hoping it will help me get more people visiting this page.

    Anyways, hope your summer's starting out great!!!


  3. Yay pictures! I'm glad NY went so well for you!

  4. What a fun experience! I'm glad you got to see and do and learn so much. Can't wait to read your debut. I'm ultra-super-stoked-excited!

  5. Haha thanks!

    Hopefully things will work out :)