Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

Nothing, at all. I have a good excuse though. I have been writing like crazy. See more details below.

What I'm Writing

I started my next novel. I've had a shiny new idea poking around in my brain for a couple of months now, but refused to let myself start it until I finished The Evolution of Emily. I sent EoE off to beta readers about a week and a half ago. So last week I decided to open up a new document and start drafting.

My SNI is now officially a WIP. In the past week, I've written 18k words. My novels are normally about 60k, so that's almost a third of the book, in a week. And I have so many more scenes in my head just waiting to be typed. I hadn't planned to do Camp NaNo. I never even do normal NaNo. But I fully expect to have a completed rough draft by the end of the month.

Sometimes I seriously love writing. This week is one of those times.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Myself. Seriously. Not only am I drafting like a crazy person. I also became a motivational speaker this week. I spoke to a group of students at Thomas Edison High School last Thursday. Edison is a local HS exclusively for students with learning differences. I talked at one of their assemblies about my experiences as a dyslexic author. The students were very engaged the whole time and even laughed at my most of my jokes. I feel like that's a big accomplishment in any high school, but especially inspiration worthy at a school full of teens with ADHD.

In case you're in need of some inspiration of your own, I'll share the most popular line from my presentation. I would love to be a great speller. I'd also love to learn how to fly. It's important to set realistic goals. There you have it, do you feel inspired yet?

What Else I've Been Up To

Writing 18k words in a week take up the majority of my free time. I did go to a Timbers game last Saturday though. The Timbers are Portland's professional soccer team. There are 1.5 million people in the Portland metro area and we have exactly two professional sports teams. Basketball and Soccer. Soccer might be a sport reserved for elementary school kids in most of the country, but around here the Timbers are insanely popular.

I make it to maybe two Timbers games a year. I don't have a green scarf (which all true Timbers fans wear and wave in unison during important cheers), but I still enjoy going to games. The game I went to on Saturday was especially fun, because I ended up sitting right next to Suzy Vitello (author of The Moment Before).

I love being a part of the on-line writing community. But I have to be honest. It's even more fun to randomly run into an author friend at a professional soccer game. Sometimes, it's great living in Portland.

So what's up with you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kris's Story

I love to read, and write, because I love stories. Everyone has a story to tell. That's what makes this crazy world we live in so interesting. I've decided to start a new weekly feature on this blog. Every Monday, I'll interview a different person. At first glance, my guests may appear ordinary, but I promise they're not. They're people. And all people are fascinating. We all have a story to tell. 

Today, I'm reposting the story that started it all. Kris Atkins is my fabulous critique partner. She first shared her story on August 5, 2013. 

ME: Let's get started. Kris, describe yourself in 50 words or less.

KA: Spastic, ambivert, organized, enthusiastic, and a little emotionally unstable thrown in for fun. I’m a Southerner in Denver, and loving it. Words and sentences and paragraphs are some of my favorite things, and I linguistically analyze people’s speech way too often.  I pretty much adore life.

ME: Great, I'm intrigued already. Tell me more. What do you love most in the world?

KA: Can I get all religious on you and say God? Because that's my answer.

ME: There is nothing wrong with religion, as long as it doesn't scare you. So that better not be the answer to this next question. What do you fear most?

KA: Okay, seriously? Tornadoes. Or maybe being buried alive. ... Definitely that one, actually. 

ME: Eek, being buried alive is definitely fear worthy. But now I want to know, what is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
KA: To be published! And I'm writing books and stories and what not.

ME: I hope that dream comes true for you, but becoming a published writer definitely isn't easy. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?

KA: Physically: birth a child. Spiritually/mentally/emotionally: be a mother to said child. I haven't cried so much and felt so lost (at times) in my entire life. But it's also pretty rockin', so I'm glad I'm doing it.

ME: Thanks so much for answering all my questions. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?

KA: I was a lifeguard at a water park for two years, then a lifeguard supervisor for three years, spanning from junior year of high school to junior year of college. One summer as a supervisor, one of my lifeguards, Josh, called me over. 

"What's the Spanish word for 'walk'?" he asked. "There are some Hispanic guys that I'm pretty sure don't understand English and they keep running." (When you are a lifeguard, walking becomes sacred. Years later, sometimes when I see kids running at the mall, I still itch to blow my whistle and yell, "Walk!") I didn't know, so went around asking other guards if they knew. Finally, I found one kid who'd taken some Spanish in high school. 

"Correr," he said. Now, I minored in Italian and there are a lot of cognates between the two languages, and correre in Italian means to run. But, I figured this kid knew better than me,` and I relayed this information to Josh.

Half an hour later, Josh came on break. He told me every time he said, "Correr!" the Hispanic guys would look at him and keep running. At this moment, another guard walked in and heard our conversation. This guy, Adam, turned out to be minoring in Spanish. (Wish I'd known that 30 minutes before!) He laughed and told us that correr actually means to run, and andar means to walk. So of course those guys were confused. A lifeguard was commanding them to run!

ME: I love it. Thanks again for sharing Kris.

So what's your story? If you would like to participate in a future installment of What's Your Story, leave your contact information in the comments or contact me directly at katherine.elliott.scott@gmail.com.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Realistic Goals

I'm now a motivational speaker. Today, I talked to a group of students at Thomas Edison High School. Edison is a local HS exclusively for students with learning differences. I dropped by for their latest assembly to talk about my experiences as a dyslexic author.

I tried to make my talk entertaining. Most teens have short attention spans, and Edison has a large ADD population, so humor seemed like a good strategy for my motivational speaking debut. Some of the tidbits of wisdom I had to share were funnier in my own head than students'. There was one thing I said that resulted in so much laughter I had to stop talking for a good ten seconds to wait for everyone to calm down.

So I'll spare you my thirty minute oration and just share that one line here.

I would love to be a great speller. I'd also love to learn how to fly. It's important to set realistic goals.

There you have it. Realistic goals are definitely a good thing. Thankfully, being a good speller isn't a requirement for being an author. Having an imagination is. I might not know how to spell big words like of, but I've always been a fabulous daydreamer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk.  Head over to Jaime's page for links to find out what's up with everyone else. Here's what's up with me.

What I'm Reading

This week I read Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy. It's a teen with cancer book. Like all teen with cancer books, it was very sad in parts and poignantly human in others.

The thing that makes this book stand out compared to all the other teen with cancer books I've read is that Alice, the terminally ill teen, is a horrible character. She's the classic mean girl that should be the villain of every story she appear in, not the hero.

It's hard to hate someone who is actively dying though. Maybe that means it should be hard to hate someone living too. I enjoyed Murphy's writing style and the duel narration/duel timeline style worked well in this story.

Over all I enjoyed Side Effects May Vary. Still, I think I would have enjoyed it more if there had been a slightly more likable main character.

What I'm Writing

I sent The Evolution of Emily off to beta readers last week. One person has already gotten me comments back, and given me some good ideas of changes I need to make. I want to wait until I hear back from more people before diving back into revisions.

So this week, I started a new project. My new WIP doesn't have a title yet. And right now, it's only 3k words long. I think it has potential though. I don't have any real goals for writing it this month. But anything I get down now will be a start when I start seriously thinking about this project after The Evolution of Emily is truly complete.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Last week I went to a screening of Rethinking Dyslexia. I wrote a longer post about my thoughts on the film here. It was an inspiring event. I hope Counting to D can be a source of inspiration for some of my readers. Watching Rethinking Dyslexia didn't teach me anything I didn't already know, but it did remind me that alternative thinking can be very entertaining.

Best line in the movie. Sir Richard Branson (the business tycoon) said, "When I was fifteen I accepted that I wasn't learning anything at school and dropped out. When I gave my headmaster the news, he said, 'You will either end up in prison or a billionaire.' Thank God, I didn't wind up in prison."

What Else I've Been Up To

The audiobook for Counting to D has been in the works for a while now. I had been planning to release it May 1st. But it might pop up on audible a little bit earlier than that. Because it's done and fabulous. I have always loved audiobooks and can't wait to connect with listeners through my words.

It's really fun listening to an audiobook of a story I wrote. The actor I hired did an awesome job. She gave all the characters their own personalities, some in ways that were different than I imagined them in my own head. It's an exciting reminder that every reader, not only professional actors, add bits of themselves to the characters they read.

My characters can be lots of different things to lots of different people. I love that. And I love my audiobook too. I'll be sure to let you know when it goes live, but for now, plan on May 1st.

So what's up with you?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

One, Two, Three... Cover Reveal

Mark your calendars, because One, Two, Three... by Elodie Nowodazkij is coming to a bookstore near you on June 26th, 2014. Today, I'm excited to be able to share it's gorgeous cover. I can't wait to find out what's inside. 

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.

Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.
But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and use her commuting time to write the stories swirling in my head. She's also a serial smiley user. 
ONE TWO THREE is her first novel. 

Author Links:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rethinking Dyslexia

I went to a screening of "The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia" tonight. The event was sponsored by the Oregon branch of Decoding Dyslexia and involved a panel discussion with several dyslexic students and educators after the film.

I want to begin by recommending this film. The DVD is available on their webpage and is worth watching if you are new to the dyslexic world and want up to date accurate information about what dyslexia actual is, and isn't.

Several of the big name dyslexic success stories like Charles Schwab, David Boies, and Richard Branson appear in the film. There is one point when Richard Branson talks about dropping out of school at age fifteen because he wasn't learning anything there. His principal at the time said, "You're either going to end up in prison or become a billionaire." Lucky for Branson, he became a billionaire.

I'm not a billionaire, but I'm not a felon either. While I enjoyed the event, in some ways I felt like the panel discussion afterwards missed the point. The film featured all these super successful craptastic readers, then a bunch of special education teachers talked about resources to help teach current struggling kids how to read.

Learning how to read is a very good thing. And I definitely encourage all parents of dyslexic children to advocate for their children and get them all the support they need to succeed. I'm also a realist though. And I know Sir Richard Branson wasn't knighted for his spelling abilities.

I am a published author. Nobody is inviting me to star in their films, but I still qualify as a dyslexic success story by most peoples standards. I can read, actual books. I can write them too. You should be very thankful that I use spell check though. I still misspell of on a regular basis. The word has two letters, and I write for my job, but I still can't remember how to spell it. I'm just fortunate enough to understand being able to spell two letter words is not a requirement for writing novels. Making up compelling stories is, and that is something I can do.

One of the other people featured in the film was a young girl who reminded me a lot of Sam from Counting to D, which means she reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger. Towards the end of the film, the seventh grade Skye Lucas makes the comment that she might grow up to innovate clean water solutions in the developing world, or she might cure cancer. She can do anything.

Skye, you are right, you can do anything. Never set your self expectations to low. Because if spelling isn't a requirement for writing novels, it's definitely not a requirement for curing cancer.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rebecca's Story

I love to read, and write, because I love stories. Everyone has a story to tell. That's what makes this crazy world we live in so interesting. Every Monday, I interview a different person here and share their stories. At first glance, my guests may appear ordinary, but I promise they're not. They're people. And all people are fascinating. We all have a story to tell.

This week, I'm talking to Rebecca Behrens. Rebecca debut novel When Audrey Met Alice came out earlier this year. It's a great middle grade novel that blends modern tween angst and historical fiction through the eyes of first children. I'm thrilled that Rebecca has agreed to share her personal story here today. 

Let's get started, Rebecca, describe yourself in 50 words or less.

RB: I believe there is a story in everything, and I’m grateful that I get to spend so much time telling them. I still feel like I’m thirtysomething going on thirteen, which is probably why I’m drawn to writing middle grade. I’m an observant introvert who loves to laugh.

Me: I expect a lot of writers can relate to your observant introvert self-concept. What do you love most in the world?

RB: Family and friends, sunshine and fresh air, creativity and compassion.

Me: All very lovable things. What do you fear most?

RB: I'm a worrier with many fears, from airplanes to toilet spiders to illness, but they pretty much all boil down to lack of control.

Me: Toilet spiders, I've never thought about those, but I could imagine them being very scary. What's your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to achieve it?

RB: Being an author has been my largest dream, and I work on that one every day.

Me: I'm glad this dream of yours has become a reality. I can't wait to read whatever you write next. I'm sure getting to this point hasn't been easy. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?

RB: Probably packing up a Budget truck and moving from the midwest to New York. It was really hard to leave family and friends, but this is where I (and my now-husband) needed to be. (Also, Budget trucks are not the easiest things to load and drive.)

Me: That move sounds even scarier than toilet spiders--okay maybe not. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?

RB: One of the first years after I moved out east, my sister and I had the idea that I should fly back to Wisconsin to surprise my mom for her birthday. Because it was the weekend before Thanksgiving, one of us joked that I should show up unexpectedly on the front steps dressed as a turkey. Probably because we found that image so funny, we started to take that idea seriously . . . and my sister started sewing a felt turkey costume. 

I took the earliest flight on a Saturday morning, and my sister picked me up at the airport. I took the wheel for the three-hour drive to my parents' house, while she sat in the passenger seat and put the finishing touches on the costume. My parents live next to a large park, and wild turkeys roam one of the wooded fields in it. So then we got the idea that it would be even funnier for me to wait in the field to surprise my mom.

We drove straight there. My sister helped me into the costume and then headed back to my parents house, where she'd convince my mom to take a morning walk. I sat down on a rock to wait, with a magazine from the car.

The one thing I had not factored in with this plan was that I was going to have to wait in there for a while, and this park is a popular place for hikers and walkers. On a pleasant fall morning it was busy. I got a lot of weird looks. Nobody quite knew what to make of the turkey girl sitting on a rock, reading a fashion magazine. Including me.

(Eventually, my family came strolling down the park road, and my mom got a big, happy surprise. It says a lot that finding her adult child dressed as a turkey in the woods did not faze her.)  

Me: I love that story! Although now I wish I'd interviewed you in November instead of March. Thank you so much for sharing. And for all you readers, if you like authors dressed like turkeys you'll probably love learning about Alice Roosevelt's pet snake that she carried in her purse and occasionally let loose at state dinners. You can read all about it in Rebecca's novel.

So what's your story? If you're interested in participating in a future installment of What's Your Story, please leave your contact information in the comments of this post or email me directly at katherine(dot)elliott(dot)scott(at)gmail(dot)com.