Thursday, December 31, 2009

0 Days Left of 2009...My Top 5 Writer'y Moments...In Book Title Form

My Top 5 Writer'y Moments...In Book Title Form

Today is one of those magical lazy days. Curled up on the sofa with my kids watching 4 episodes in a row of Ghost Lab on Discovery Channel. No pressure. Still in pj's. Ahhh.

But Ghost Lab grows old and my blog calls me from the other room...

"Kaaaatttteeee, today's the laaaassttt day. You just can't not write a post today. Get off of the sofa and get in here. Right now. Yes, I said now."

I think, "Wow, when did you get so bossy? Haven't you ever heard of doing nothing?"

Blog calls back, "Yeah, I've heard of doing nothing, that's what I'M doing right now! Nothing! Let's go, little lady. You created me. You pumped me up with all of your, "Top 5" nonsense. You think you can just leave the readers hanging on the last day? Oh no. Up and adam!"

I think, "Relax, Blogtator I'm coming."

So, the creative pressure is on. I think I've come up with a fairly interesting way to end my Top 5 posts. End the year with a bang, so to speak.

Here are my top five Writer'y Moments, but not in boring old plain'ness, oh no, I'd like to present them in Book Title form (adapted from my Top 5 reads of 2009).

Take that, Blog.

5. Many Queries, Many Rejections (Many Lives, Many Masters)
I queried quite a bit this year with some requests still "out there" but no offers...yet. But, this is a list of my top 5 writer moments. I had to include querying because of the enormous ah-ha moment I experienced while Query Ninja'ing my query letters. If you are a writer, check it out.

4. Sandra's Key (Sarah's Key)
At the SCBWI conference in NYC I met many interesting people. Perhaps one of the most delightful and helpful was the chance meeting of Sandra. She sat next to me at my first writer's intensive group where each writer read aloud their first 500 words. And a real, live Harper Collins editor ran the group. Intense, helpful and oh-so-full-of-positive-feedback. I'm pretty sure I floated out of the ballroom. But see, Sandra took her helpfulness 1000 steps further when she offered to read the rest of my book. We communicated back and forth via email and she gave me incredible feedback. She actually got signed by Barry Goldblatt last spring. Go Sandra!

3. The Writer (The Alchemist)
Revisiting one of my picture book manuscripts with a fresh eye. A real writer's eye. Reading it and realizing it had no conflict, no problem. It was just a cute little story. After listening to Lee Harper at the SCBWI Fall Philly conference, I learned that even picture books need conflict. So, I revised the heck out of the manuscript and have just sent out my first query. We'll see. This experience made me realize a crucial reality - I am a writer.

2. The Absolutely True Story of an Ah-ha Moment (The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian)
At the SCBWI Pocono Writer's Retreat I had a true ah-ha moment. I realized my middle grade novel needed a prologue. What did I do about that? I wrote myself a kickin' prologue - if I do say so myself.

1. MY Corner of the Universe (Corner of the Universe)
There were so many people in my universe this past year that tried to help me, encourage me and guide me. You know who you are. Thank you for cheering me on, telling me to keep writing, giving me critique advice, reaching out to your contacts, talking about my writing, giving me new ideas, advising me and most importantly believing in me and my writing.

2010 will be my year.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

4 Days Left of 2009...My Top 5 Movies of the Year

My Top 5 Movies of 2009

I love going to the movies almost as much as I love diving into a new book. The whole experience excites me from the previews right down to the bite of Raisinettes followed immediately by a bite of salty popcorn.

*I decided to "go big" with the you feel like you're at the movies.

5. Star Trek
I loved this movie for the obvious big screen moments of thrill and jaw dropping effects. It was highly entertaining. And it was directed by LOST director, J. J. Abrams. If you follow my blog you know how deeply fanatical I am about LOST.

4. Avatar
I just saw this yesterday in 3D. In my opinion, the special effects in this movie blow Star Trek away. But that's not why it is up one notch on my movie scale. The real reason, well, it was the "human" story behind the effects that made me love it so much.

3. The Proposal
I saw this movie 4 times in the theater. Each time I'd say to whoever I was with, "No, it's okay, I want to see it again. Really." And I meant it. I love a good romantic comedy and this movie nails both the romance and the comedy.

2. UP
I love movies (and books) where I can put myself in the character's shoes. I've done that since I was a little girl. Watching The Wizard of Oz and imagining being Dorothy. I don't know. It always makes the movie or the book so real to much better...more intense. Anyway. I had no idea the emotional wallop I would receive from the beginning of UP. I'm talking sobbing here. I kept putting my husband and I in the shoes of Carl and Ellie. Whoa. Crying. A lot. I absolutely loved every single thing about this movie and plan to watch it again and again.

1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Oh come on, it's Harry-freakin'-Potter! The books are my number 1 favorite. Even though this movie paled in comparison to the book (as usual) it's still the best story ever told and the movie is dang good. Again, see, I've always put myself in Harry's shoes and tried to imagine how insane it would be to find out you're a wizard, and not just any wizard, the most powerful wizard ever. How cool would that be?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

8 Days of 2009 Left...My Top 5 Spectacular Moments of 2009

My Top 5 Spectacular Moments of 2009

I have to say, 2009 was a pretty decent year. Definitely filled with changes and frustration yet sprinkled with super-high-highs. I quit teaching in 09 which was a really big deal. Quit the job I left teaching for and then landed another new job. Changes deluxe. My goals morphed and then morphed again. As I said before, I'm feeling like 2010 will be my year.

Drum roll top 5 spectacular moments of 2009.

5. Telling the birthday wish fairy to suck it.

4. Having 45 of my 2008-2009 students get published in a poetry anthology. The particularly satisfying "wins" are my reluctant writers, the boys who "hated writing" or the girls who had zero writing confidence. And they won. And they're published.

3. Affording my inner writer time to mingle and write during the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC and the SCBWI Pocono Writer's Retreat. Both juiced me up as a writer. I can't wait for NYC this year...

2. Realizing I'm a writer and I'll always be a writer. No matter what.

1. This one was a no brainer. My number one moment of 2009 was definitely flying half way around the world to meet my newest niece, Scarlett Jane...aka the Australian Wonder. And seeing my treasured sister Christina and her equally treasured husband Iain. What a trip it was.

Monday, December 21, 2009

11 Days Left of 2009...My Top 5 Books of 09

My Top 5 Books of 2009

I did a fair amount of reading in 09. Some good and some not so good. Since I plan to be in the publishing business someday, preferably sooner than later, I'm going to keep the "not so good" reads all to myself. I'm sticking with the positive here.
*these are books I've read this year and some were not published in 09

5. Corner of the Universe by: Ann M. Martin
A former student passed this off to me as a good read last winter and let me tell you, I agree. It is a middle grade realistic fiction with a very memorable MC and a mentally challenged uncle as a side character.

4. Sarah's Key by: Tatiana de Rosnay
Adult fiction dually set in 1940's Paris and modern day Paris. The book alternates between Sarah's POV during the French round up of Parisian Jewish families and a modern day American woman married to a French man. Their lives are seriously intertwined and they don't find out till mid-way through the novel. It will haunt you for days.

3. The Alchemist by: Paulo Coelho
A simple story of a shephard boy following his dreams. The inspirational power of this book is in Coelho's thinking, told through the character of The Alchemist. It is a must read.

2. Many Lives, Many Masters by: Dr. Brian Weiss
Non-fiction that will stay with you, toying with all you believe, challenge all you know and make you think deeply about just about everything. Yeah, it's one of those books that will never leave your psyche. One hell of a read.

1. The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by: Sherman Alexie
This was, hands down, up and sideways, the best book of the year for me; and it's YA. I don't think I've ever laughed harder with a character than I did with Junior. Alexie's writing is brilliant and endearing and I LOVED this book.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days Left of 2009...My Top 5 Dreams of the Year

My Top 5 Dreams of 2009

This'll be a well-duh post. A, yeah, I figured as much post. An obviously-obvious post.

5. My number 5 dream of 2009: Have one of my queries be completely fruitful and land me an agent.

4. My number 4 dream of 2009: Have my query stats end with a big happy bang (aka an agent).

3. My number 3 dream of 2009: Have my book trailer end up impressing an agent.

2. My number 2 dream of 2009: To "stop looking at the warts," and just believe I'll get an agent.

1. My number 1 dream of 2009: To never stop being inspired by life. And get an agent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

14 Days left of 2009: My Top 5 Things I Learned This Year as a Writer...

My Top 5 Things I've Learned as a Writer

5. It is nearly impossible for me to write when I don't have large chunks of time. I'm not a late-nighter. I'm a 'write like a maniac till I have a first draft' kind of writer and that requires hours and quiet. Looks like summer is my time to write, being in education and all.

4. Just because readers, who are not agents, read your manuscripts and freaking love them, doesn't mean donkey doo in the real world of publishing. Hard lesson to learn. Real hard lesson. But valuable.

3. I can wish and pray and "Secret" and meditate and every other spiritual thing out there all I want. The only way I'll land an agent is when an agent reads my manuscript and loves it, like a whole lot. I'm done with wishing.

2. My journey towards publication has been one hell of a fight. My nails hurt from the scratching and clawing I've done. My brain hurts from all of the research and research and research and research. I am sick to death of revising my manuscripts, and if I look at them one more time I may commit harry carry. So, I shall let them be for now.

1. I have grown to,, wish evil, hate more than bathing suit shopping, the words, 'this is a subjective business.'

Monday, December 14, 2009

17 Days left of 2009

My Top 5 WORST Songs of 2009
*Disclaimer: Now, don't go being offended if you happen to like a song or artist that ended up on this here list. These are MY top 5 worst...not yours. I'm just sayin' And, just in case you do like any of these songs, I went ahead and linked some of them to their youtube music videos, for your viewing pleasure. Not mine. What can I say? I'm a giver.

5. Blame It by Jamie Foxx
I say, blame it on your irresponsibility, not the innocent alcohol.

4. Waking Up In Vegas by Katie Perry
I say, shut up and put your...oh how 'bout you just shut up?

3. Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship
I say, just be good already. Enough with the bad.

2. I Gotta Feeling by Black Eyed Peas
I say, I gotta feeling, whoo-hooo, that this song runs through my nauseum.

1. Don't Trust Me by 3 Oh! 3
I say, I don't like this song the most'est.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

19 Days Left of 2009

Since there are only 19 days left of the year I call 2000-WANT ("want" because all I wanted in 2009 was an agent - blah, blah, blah). Boy did I do everything in my writerly power to make that happen. Alas, I am, at present moment still agentless. Again, blah, blah, blah.

Back to my, "Since there are only 19 days left of the year I call..."focus. In honor of the upcoming 2010 or as I like to call, The Year of Kate. Yeah, I said it. 2010 is all about me and me getting everything I ever dreamed of. And I mean everything. I think 2010 is going down in the history books as the year of years...for me. My brain tells me so. My heart tells me so. And my soul tells me so. I have no secret news -- nothing to reveal -- just a feeling.

2010, I welcome you, fine year, welcome to my life. Come on in and make yourself comfortable, Best-Year-Ev-Ah. I have a feeling we'll be tighter than peanut butter and jelly.

I HEART 2010.

Now to properly close out 2009 and bid it a decent farewell, I thought I'd jump back into the blog-O-sphere with a plan. My big plan is to share my top 5 "stuff" with you on a variety of life, book, and me related topics. I am going to try to blog as much as I can over the next 19 days.

Here are some of my planned topics:
~ My top 5 books of 2009
~ My top 5 songs of 2009
~ My top 5 super spectacular moments of 2009
~ My top 5 ultimate CRAPtacular moments of 2009 - I should probably enlarge this category to 10 and call it a day
~ My top 5 dreams of 2009
~ My top 5 bloggie moments of 2009
~ My top 5 videos of 2009
~ My top 5 movies of 2009
~ My top 5 things I learned as a writer in 2009
~ My top 5 online moments of 2009
~ My top 5 moments of travel in 2009
~ My top 5 writing ideas of 2009
~ My top 5 worst songs of 2009
~ Mt top 5 cool things I overheard in 2009

And to start it all off...

Drum roll please...

My Top 5 Moments of HOPE in 2009

5. Back on November 17, 2009 I came to a personal crossroads and then on November 18, 2009 came the sweet nugget of HOPE by way of a partial request. It ended up in a rejection, but HOPE is HOPE in my book. And I needed some HOPE at that moment and the universe listened.

4. About two weeks ago I walked without wrapping my ankle. Not an aircast, not an ace bandage, not a nothing. It gave me HOPE that I was on the way to a full recovery. I love HOPE.

3. Realizing that the reason my youngest sister, Christina and her cool husband Iain, had to move to Australia. Sure, Iain's from there and all, but the real reason they had to move there was revealed to me one evening in the month of April, 2009. I was hanging out in my dining room, listening to tunes with my husband, when it dawned on me. My youngest sister had to move SO-FREAKING-FAR-AWAY because my other younger sister was going to need me. And I mean need the ever loving hell out of me. This other sister and I needed this moment actually, because we needed to realize that beyond loving each other like good sisters do...we really did like each other. As in we thought the other was cool and fun to hang around with. And we spent inordinate amounts of time on the phone -- me listening -- and her sharing, etc... She started coming over to hang out, have some drinks...and enjoy being together.

Now, I know what you're wondering. I can hear it now, "Alright, yeah, I get it, you got close to your one sister. But what does that have to do with your youngest sister moving to Australia with her cool husband? I don't get it. Come on, K.M. keep it together here. You've lost me."

Relax. I'm gonna tell you now.

See, Christina and Iain were always at our house before they moved to Australia. If you didn't click on dining room up there then you don't have a proper picture of the fun we used to have. It's worth the read.

So, she moves away and guess who I end up spending a ton more time with? Oh, you're good. Yep, my other sister. You follow me now? Can you feel the HOPE?

2. When, after watching the brilliantly written JUNO, I understood that I am a good writer too. And that I am worth the time it takes to write. HOPE was severely undernourished at that moment, and JUNO was a big steaming plate of, "Keep Writing."

1. On December 10, 2009, from an agent I queried on December 9, 2009: Dear Kate, This sounds great; we’d love to take a look. Please email me the manuscript as one Word doc attachment and we’ll be in touch soon. (aka H. O. P. E.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gotta Say it Again

I honestly can't say enough "good" about, From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson...aka the Query Ninja. Why the second post of kudos? Well, I went back and Query Ninja'd my first query for THE END OF NORMAL (my first-ever novel). Wow did my query miss the mark on so many levels.

I was over at Literary Rambles and saw that Susan Hawk just joined Jenny Bent Agency, and she's looking for MG science fiction. And that's what THE END OF NORMAL is!!!!

I just hit send on my Query-Ninja-revised query to Ms. Hawk. You never know...