Friday, September 30, 2011

Random Friday Goodness

First there's THIS

I went to see Ellen Hopkins at the Chester County Book and Music Company for her book signing of PERFECT. I admit I had an ulterior motive: to watch an author who knows what the heck they're doing, do a book signing. I learned a lot.

I bumbled through meeting her and sounded like a dope. She smiled up at me and probably thought, this woman wrote a book? She was lovely and kind and after Anne Marie introduced me, Ellen said, "Wait, pills in a cup, right?" My eyes went wide and I was speechless.

And as an added bonus, A. S. King was there in the audience. It was surreal that she recognized me. I mean, seriously, she won the Printz Honor and wrote one of my favorite books of all time.

It was a great experience all around and I even got to see Joanne Fritz!

Then I read a tweet from fellow writer and friend Kelly Lyman that said: Awesome review of @KMWalton1 debut novel CRACKED 5 stars out of go girl!

Corrine Jackson, I'm humbled by your review, and I thank you for loving "my boys" as much as I do.

And to keep up with the randomness I will share three final things:
1. I switched from Firefox to Google Chrome and I survived. I'm loving the chrome.
2. Russel Hantz' nephew Brandon on SURVIVOR is fascinating to watch. God I love that show.
3. CRACKED has it's very own fan page on Facebook. Check it out HERE.

Hope you have a great weekend. 

P.S. Anyone who left a bloghop comment a while back should check HERE to see if you're a bloghop prize winner!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Campaigner Spotlights round 3

It's time for a fresh round of Platform Building Campaigner Spotlights. Today's group of five is a varied and interesting group of bloggers. I sincerely hope you take the time and make some new blogosphere friends today.

Meet Andrew Leon
Andrew is a huge movie and comic book fan and when comic books get turned into movies, well, he's a happy dude. He's a writer, a family man and has his first novel available on Amazon.

Visit his blog: StrangePegs

Meet The Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is the name this Chinese teenaged girl living in America goes by when blogging. How mysterious. She's a writer who loves creating new worlds. A reader who loves escaping into grand adventures. And a learner who likes to have fun. Her blog is as varied as she is.

Visit her blog: The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Meet Beth Fred
Beth writes books about demons and reviewed 52 books last year. She has studied both law and physics (yeah, wow) and is working on her third manuscript.

Visit her blog: Beth's Blog

Meet Lady Gwen
Gwen blogs about running and writing. She admits it's a strange combo but it works. She writes paranormal YA and is in the editing stage.

Visit her blog: Run, Gwen, Run! Write, Gwen, Write!

Meet Rachele Alpine
Rachele's first novel, CANARY will be released from Medallion Press, fall 2013. She is a high school teacher by day, a MFA fiction writing student by night and she uses her free time in between to write.

Visit her blog: Freckle Head



Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with Michele Helene & Bloghop Winners

Happy Monday!

If you participated in the WHO STARTED YOUR DREAM bloghop by leaving a comment on any of the bloghop blogs (this one included) then click HERE to see if you've won. Hint, a few bloggers who left a comment here are winners : ) Email me (kmwalton1 at verizon dot net) if you see your name on the list and I'll give you the contact info of the prize giver.

In honor of Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign, a fellow blogger from my Campaign group and I decided to exchange interviews.

I'd like to introduce you to Michele Helene....

Tell us a little bit about your writing and where you are in your journey.

While I can always remember writing, I can only describe it as a hobby I didn't have the first clue about what to do with it all. About six years ago I realised I needed to write. I had been fannying about doing this and that when all I really wanted to do was write. I started with short stories, flash fiction and poetry and before the year was out I was working on a YA fantasy novel. I had a bit of a Mummy break, but I've just finished a revision of a second book, this time a children's book and I'm looking for BETA readers while I go back to a complete rework of the YA novel. I am hoping (fingers tightly crossed) that I will finally be able to query something in 2012.

Walk us through your revision style – do you have a critique group, BETA readers?

Yep I live for my critique group. I knock the first draft out by myself quickly, then I do a quick revise and send it month by month to the critique group. I also have a new critique partner through Litopia (an online writing community). She's critting the chapters that have been revised after critique. Now that I've finished the revision though, what I'm hoping to do is send the whole MS out to BETA readers and forget about it for a few months. Then I will do a final revision (hopefully there won't be too many big changes) before I query.

I see that you live in Paris. How does the city influence your writing?

Oh my! OK, firstly I love Paris. I've been here eleven years and even though Parisians are arrogant, there are strikes every five minutes and you get caught up in work, I really love this city, but it isn't in my writing, yet. There are so many of those A YEAR IN THE MERDE type books that I really don't want to inadvertently churn out another. So the way it influences me is that by being here I have this great job where I hardly ever have to take work home, I get good holidays and I have the time to write.

What have been your favorite two reads as of late? Why did you enjoy them so much?

THE BOOK OF DEAD DAYS and THE ROAD. I've read a lot of good stuff about Marcus Sedgwick and when there is hype I step back and am wary, but I was given this book token and because I have NO MEMORY while I was scanning the shelves, his was the only name that stood out. I've realised lately that I read like a writer. If there are problems with the book I start critiquing, with this book I was hooked from the first page and I read like a reader.  I liked the fact that the MC was not perfect, in fact I even found myself getting a little frustrated with Boy at times. I also liked the fact that right up to the end I was hoping the antagonist wasn't all bad. If I can write a baddie like that one day I will be so happy.

THE ROAD, well I challenge anybody to say they enjoyed it. It is hard going, but it was recommended by some friends who said it had touched them deeply and another friend said it was the best thing she had read all year. I had no idea what to expect. I've since read a thread on Litopia about it and people either love it or hate it. Those who hate it, hate MAcCarthy's writing style, his lack of punctuation etc. But I loved his style, it didn't bother me at all. Everything was so bare in this world he had created that the writing style suited it. The relationship between the boy and his father was just so all encompassing. And boy did I cry at the end.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

For now, my ultimate goal is to be published. It's my driving passion, and what I work hardest at. I haven't actually queried anything yet, so I think I can still say that.

For fun: If you could only listen to one album—or ten different songs from various artists—for the rest of your days—which would you choose? Which album or which songs would you pick?

I would be one totally UNHAPPY bunny, that's what I would be, but this is just for fun isn't it, so:
1.    The Mariner's Revenge - The Decemberists
2.    Jeremy - Pearl Jam
3.    Alison - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
4.    Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
5.    Verdi Cries - 10,000 Maniacs
6.    Must I paint you a picture - Billy Bragg
7.    Sing the Absurd - The Wonderstuff
8.    Angel - Massive Attack
9.    Perfect Smile - The The
10.   The Pretender - Foo Fighters

You can find Michele:
Twitter: @Michverillion
Blog: A Wanderer in Paris

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting Ideas for Writing

*Don't forget to leave a comment on THIS POST, sharing the book that started your dream, and you will be officially entered into the bloghop giveaway that ends Thursday, September 22nd*

Any writer, regardless of where they are on their journey towards publication, gets asked this question: how do you get your ideas for writing. It matters not what the writer writes. It matters not if they are school-aged or adult. The question is universal.

For me, my ideas come from life. For example, I recently spent a considerable amount of time in a hospice just before my father-in-law passed. As I sat there in the quiet, watching him breathe, a new story began to take shape.

When this happens I let my mind go with it and everything speeds up in there--ideas form and begin to bounce off of each other. It's wild. I typically don't say anything out loud until I've worked out the major heartbeat of the story - the "why" of it. Once I hit that point I tell my husband my idea, and it's then, when I'm talking about it out loud, that my characters form from the fog. Again, it's wild. Character traits are born, right there on the fly.

My process goes on from there. But that's not the reason for this post. I want to go back to the "getting ideas part" because that's clearly a crucial part of the process.

Life. That's where all ideas for writing come from. Back in 2005 I had the priviledge of being in the audience while James Howe gave a presentation on the craft of writing. One of the many brilliant things I took away from that day was how he carried a small homework pad with him at all times, to capture life as it happened - for future writing.

When I taught middle school I did mini-lessons on how to listen and watch life and get ideas for writing. It was a completely foreign concept to the majority of my students. I'd tell them that if they thought like the writers they were, and opened up their ears, their eyes and their hearts to the world around them, the stories and ideas would find them.

I used to show them some of my ideas that I'd jotted down on post-its and then explain the real life moment that inspired it. Sometimes the post-it'ed note was a snippet of a conversation I'd overheard - something that interested or captivated me in some way. Sometimes the post-it'ed note was my reaction to something I'd seen human beings doing - or something in nature - or something from TV. Whatever ended up on my post-its meant something to me, the writer.

Once I started to look at life with my "writer glasses" on everything shifted over one square, and I realized story ideas were everywhere and in everything.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Mayhem

 Happy Monday everyone.

I have a few random things to blog about today so I thought I'd put them all in one place. Welcome to the mayhem....

First, a ginormous THANK YOU to every person who voted (and re-voted) for my blog in the CBS Philly's Most Valuable Blog contest. I didn't win, but that's okay, because this blog won in my category. It's a mighty cool blog.

Second, be sure to visit my previous post by clicking HERE. It involves loads of prizes and the chance to stumble upon some new blogs. You can also share the book that started your dream in the comments (or your favorite read of all time). Go on, you know you want to.

Third, I will be starting something new around here, in which I share a killer song/video of the moment. The mtvU channel is my favorite music channel to watch because it has fresh, new music--you know, stuff you don't hear on the radio. It'll just be for fun. And for rocking out.

Here's today's killer tune: Vomit by Girls (gross title, I know, but the song is hauntingly awesome and has zero to do with puke. It's rather Beatle'esque and has a major bit of spectacular in the middle. Advice: listen to it LOUD).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who Started Your Dream Bloghop

I've never done a bloghop before, so I'm excited. First, this bloghop came about because of the Platform Building Campaign I am participating in this year. Ten of my fellow Campaigners banded together and put this bloghop together.

Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign is fantastic (if you're not one of the Campaigners this year, visit her blog and get the details for next year's. It's such an incredible way to meet new bloggers and build your follower list.)

To begin, behold our button created by fellow Campaigner and bloghopper Ali Cross.

I am to start out by sharing the book that, "started my dream" of being a writer. I'd like to slightly re-phrase the question to: which book started your dream to write CRACKED. While John Green's LOOKING FOR ALASKA and Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE strongly influenced me before I wrote CRACKED, the one book that "started my dream" was definitely Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN.

Before reading that book I didn't realize a story could be so real or so raw for teenaged readers. The main character spoke like an actual sixteen-year-old guy - not what the adult writer thought a sixteen-year-old guy should talk like. He felt completely authentic to me as I read. I distinctly remember gasping a few time and raising my brows in a "Wow, can he say that in a YA book?" kind of way. The book is genius from start to finish and remains one of my all-time-favorite-reads.

I wanted to write a real and raw book after turning the last page of INDIAN, and CRACKED was conceived and born. Hopefully, when it is released on January 3, 2012, readers will fall in love with my boys as much as I fell in love with Alexie's MC....

Now onto official bloghop business.

ANY comment left on this post (and subsequent comments you may make if you do some bloghopping) qualifies for PRIZES. Yep, not only do you meet some new bloggers, but you have the chance to win these super spectacular prizes:

- QUERY CRITIQUE from Robyn Campbell
- 500 WORD CRITIQUE from Michele Helene
- A 30 PAGE CRITIQUE from Stephanie
- A 25 PAGE CRITIQUE from Rachele Alpine
- A YA BOOK from Bonnie Ray

How 'bout them apples?

Now here's how the hopping of blogs works:
  1. Leave a comment here with perhaps the book that started your dream - or your favorite read of the moment or just a straight-up-comment of your choosing. Whatever works for you.
  2. Hop to the next two blogs on the list below and leave a comment there as well. The more comments you leave, the more you increase your chance of winning one of those awesome prizes listed above.
  3. Each blog has shiny new people to hop to at the bottom of their post. Just think of all the new blogs you'll experience today.
  4. The last day to comment is Thursday, September 22nd.
  5. Winners will be selected through
Blogs to hop on over to:

Cat Gerlach - click HERE
And Ali Cross (quick but important side note, Ali will be posting her bloghop post tomorrow, so check back on her blog Friday, September 16th and comment) - click HERE

I wish you happy hopping my friends!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Campgaigner Spotlights Round Two

As you know, I'm participating in Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign. I'd like to formally welcome all of my new blog followers and say how nice it is to have you stop by here.

Since I have a 9:00 a.m. dentist appointment tomorrow I thought it better to post this right now. I'd like to introduce you to five of my fellow Campaigners by giving them each their own spotlight. I hope you take a few moments, visit their blogs and make some new  friends!

Meet J. A. Bennett
She believes that you can live in the moment and have goals if you focus on what matters most.

Visit her blog A BOOK, A GIRL, A JOURNEY

Meet Brittany

She is a thirteen-year-old blogger and writer who is witty and intelligent.


Meet Stephanie
She's a certified english teacher on the hunt for a job. She writes YA fantasy and urban fantasy.

Visit her blog WORD BY WORD

Meet Roger Eschbacher
 He is a self-proclaimed thug novelista keepin' it real. He also writes TV animation (how cool is that?) and MG fantasy.

Visit his blog THE NOVEL PROJECT

Meet J. R. Williams
She is a proud Chicago native who has experience writing just about everything.

Visit her blog MY ROAD TO FREEDOM

*to the fellow Campaigner who corresponded with me via email and I wrote that you would be in my next Spotlight Outlook has crashed, and I've been forced to view my email through the Yahoo site. All of my folders are in Outlook - and I put your email in my Spotlight folder. I apologize and if you email me and tell me who you are, I will be sure to put in you my next Spotlight group!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

SCBWI Eastern PA Critique Fest

Hi, blog friends. I've been unable to blog for quite some time due to the passing of my father-in-law. Anyone who has lost a close family member knows how complicated and draining death is. I am glad to be on the other side and jumping back into my normal routines.

I'd like to share an extraordinary experience I had this past Saturday. The Eastern PA chapter of the SCBWI held a critique fest in Lancaster, and I was lucky enough to moderate one of the YA critique tables (thanks, Marilyn Hershey!). My agent was on the critique staff for the event, so I was fortunate enough to be invited to have breakfast and lunch with the staff. It was a surreal moment to be eating stuffed baked potatoes with the likes of Chris Richman, Jenny Bent, Pat Easton, Sandy Asher, Wendy Schmalz, Mary Kate Castellani and of course Sarah LaPolla.

But the reason I'm blogging about the event is not to name drop (even though it was fun to type those heavy hitter names out ; ) it's to share a few key things I took away from my experience moderating the crit group. After the critiques ended - which went quite well (the eight writers at the table were intelligent, kind, witty, helpful and interesting) we all just sat around and talked. As I reflected, three consistent critique points rose to the top, and I thought it would be helpful to share - especially if anyone out there is in the revising cave at the moment.

1. Pacing. Do you start your novel at the "just right moment" or do you try and tell us too much before that "just right moment" comes? Believe me, it isn't easy to discern where that moment is - that's why critiques are so crucial to subject yourself to before you query. And not critiques from your family, friends, children or students - believe me - I went that route, and while the praise felt awesome, it did nothing to improve my writing. Join a writer's group or critique group. Allow your work to be shredded by someone who knows how to shred it.

2. If you write YA then you must read YA. Tons and tons and tons of it. Same goes for whatever it is that you write - read your genre and read a lot of it. It will save you rejections in the long run. It will help to ensure that you're book is truly marketable.

3. Critique reaction. You can't get defensive. It's counterproductive. Let me say this - every writer at my table handled their critique with grace and wisdom. No one got their back up. Each writer listened intently and took notes on what the other seven writers, and myself, said. Kudos to Eastern PA SCBWI for explaining the critique rules beforehand, in which the writer had to remove themselves from the circle and not engage anyone critiquing - and we, the critiquers, couldn't engage the writer as well. We spoke as if the writer wasn't there. It was so effective, and I hope the writers at my table felt the same way.

If you write for children I highly advise joining SCBWI and attending local, regional and national events. Good things happen at these conferences. Professional acquaintances and friends are made - invaluable knowledge on our craft of writing is gained - and even requests happen. No matter what you write there is a professional organization to join. Join it. There is nothing like sitting around a table with other human beings that truly understand your craft and talking shop.

Side notes:
1. Check back Wednesday for five new Campaigner Spotlights.
2. THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my blog in the CBS Philly's Most Valuable Blog Challenge. I truly appreciate you taking the time to vote.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The First Campaigner Challenge

Today starts the first Platform Building Campaigner Challenge.

Rachael Harrie has cooked up a good one. Today's challenge is as follows:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

Here's my go & it's exactly 200 words (since I wrote it in first person present tense, I changed "swung" to "swings"):
The door swings open and crashes into my bedroom wall. I sit up and stare at the empty doorway. I hear my little brother screaming from his room. “You are a bad man, a bad, bad man!”

I leap from my bed in the darkness and stumble over my shoes. My hands grope for something to prevent me from smashing onto the floor. There is nothing to grab. I land on the hard wood and crab-crawl into the hallway, ignoring the sharp pain in my knees.

“Fi-fi,” Henry whimpers. “I need you.”

“I’m coming!” I shout as I right myself to standing. The hallway suddenly goes ice cold and my useless tank top, shorts and bare feet do nothing to help. My skin instantly aches. It’s that cold. I orient myself and feel my way down the hallway as quickly as I can.

Something shoves me backwards and I free fall for what seems like minutes. Every bone in my body feels the landing, especially my head. I blink once, twice, and then close my eyes.

My head. Hurts.

Henry’s desperate cries fill the hallway. “You don’t belong here! Fi-fi, he’s hurting me!”

From behind, my bedroom door swings shut.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Campaigner Spotlights

As you know I am participating in Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign this year. Each week during the Campaign I plan to spotlight five fellow Campaigners. I hope you go and visit their blogs, join in their conversations, and make some new connections.

Meet Michele Helene

She writes for children, has lived in many interesting places and blogs about her life as a writer. Visit her blog, A Wanderer in Paris.

Meet MFlick
She's a high school English teacher and YA writer who loves dogs and dance. Visit her blog: Oh! For LOVE of BOOKS!

Meet Kelley

Kelley writes on an Alphasmart 3000, thinks mornings should be productive and loves to read YA and horror. Visit her blog Writtled.

Meet Robyn Campbell

Robyn is a woman of faith, lives on a farm and writes Picture books and MG. Visit her blog Putting Pen to Paper.

Meet Jules

Jules is a book reviewer living in Scotland, who loves to read and says she drinks far too much coffee. Visit her blog The Great, The Good and The Bad.

That's it for today's Campaigner Spotlights. I hope you stop by each of their blogs and get to know some new people. Check back next week for five fresh spotlights.

*CONTINUED THANKS TO ALL WHO VOTE FOR MY BLOG EACH DAY IN THE PHILLY'S MVB CONTEST (I need all of the daily votes I can get!! The icon is up there to the right and it is very click. Thank you, times a million).

**Also, I had this crazy idea last night and I did THIS. Tell me what you think.... Will it work? Could it work? Anyone want to participate?