Monday, August 4, 2014

Nice Enough for Publishing (and Parenthood)

Last week, I became "mom" to two absolutely adorable children. Technically, my kiddo's are still in foster care, but we've been selected as their forever family. A big part of the adoption process involves the agency (in my case DHS) getting to know the family, so the right kids can be matched with the right family. Early in our home study process, I gave my social worker a copy of Counting to D.

I have a lot in common, personality wise, with Sam and figured reading my fiction would be a better way to get to know me than asking a lot of generic questions. The plan worked, sort of. My social worker loved my book, and me, and helped match us with aforementioned adorable children. But she didn't view my book as an example of what I must have been like as a teen, or proof that I'm a very creative person. She took it as evidence of my remarkable empathy.

I am very empathetic it real life. It's easy for me to relate to other people and see things from their point of view. That is one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to adopt foster children. But, it's also one of the reasons why I'm a good writer.

Fiction in general, and YA in particular, is all about the feels. Emotions are huge! Writing emotionally charged scenes that the reader can empathize with, and then weaving them together into something that resembles a plot is basically 90% of my job. Okay, maybe only 70%. But it's big.

I'm not only empathetic, I'm also creative. I enjoy making up stories. That is the personality trait I've always viewed as the driving force behind my desire to become make a career out of writing. But I've realized my social worker was onto something. Empathy is just as important, if not more important, than creativity.

Writers need to be able to understand emotion, even if they haven't felt it personally, and describe it in a believable way. That is what writers do. We're an empathetic group. That's probably why I always have so much fun when I hang out with other authors.

So are you nice enough to be a writer? Or a parent? I'm glad that I'm both, 'cause right now I LOVE both om my jobs. And love is a very strong emotion, that I feel and recognize in others.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Evolution of Kate

As an author, I spend a lot of time thinking about character arcs. The idea that people can and do change sits at the root of storytelling. If characters can change, it makes sense that real life people would change too.

During the summer and fall of 2012, I changed. Or at least, I should have changed. I got very very sick and spent a lot of time in the hospital. At the time, I thought my life was going to be forever different. I remember thinking my previous life was over, and I need to figure out who I was now and what my life will be moving forward.

The time I spent in the hospital was definitely different than my regular old pre-illness life. But eventually, I got better, and discovered I was still the same person. I felt like fiction had lied to me. Old friends who I lost touch with during that period of illness could see me afterwards and not know anything had happened. I began to joke that while I had lost a few internal organs, my brain wasn’t one of them. I’m the same person now as I was two years ago. I am, always have been, and always will be myself.

Now, my life is changing again. Today is the two year anniversary of my getting sick. Tomorrow, I'm going to meet my children for the first time. I mentioned that during this whole illness fiasco I lost a couple internal organs. I may have kept my brain, but all my reproductive organs were removed. So I didn’t give birth to my kids. We are adopting them out of the foster care system.

I am, and always have been, myself. I love kids. I’m naturally patient and slow to anger. I’m playful and imaginative. I will be a good mom. If I’d been able to give birth, I would have been a good mom to my bio-kids. If I’d adopted two and a half years ago, I would have been a good mom then. But I’m not giving birth, and I didn’t adopt two and a half years ago.

I lived through a horrible illness. My husband stayed by my side through months of hospitalization. We were hurt, physically and emotionally, and we survived. The act of surviving changed us. At our cores, we are the same people we have always been. But we are also different, new people, with a new perspective on life and the ability to understand tragedy. We will be better parents because of it.

I would never wish what I went through two years ago on anyone, ever. Trust me, blood poisoning isn’t fun. But a part of me is grateful for that experience. Because being admitted to the ICU was the beginning of a two year journey that’s lead me to where I am today. About to become the mother of two wonderful children who have also experienced far more trauma than anyone should have to endure.

As a writer, I feel like this is an important lesson on character as well. Lives change not people--people grow. My second novel, coming out this fall, is titled The Evolution of Emily. I titled this blog post The Evolution of Kate in homage to that book. And just like in my own life, Emily is Emily at the beginning, middle, and end of her story. But that doesn’t mean her life is stagnant. She grows, and evolves because of the changes in her life. We all do, I certainly have. And I can't wait to live my next chapter.

Tuesday, July 22, 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 One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. It was a good book, I don't think reading it this week was the smartest plan on my part though. It's a middle grade book about a foster kid. There aren't very many books about foster kids, and One for the Murphys is a very good one.

It's basically a love story about a girl and her foster mom. The emotions are all there, the characters are well developed, and the picture of foster care presented is relatively accurate.

The problem is that I'm currently in the process of adopting two foster kids. They are actually scheduled to move into my house next week. So this emotionally charged story hit a little too close to home in some places. Carly may be a tough girl who never cries, but I cried A LOT while reading it.

What I'm Writing

The Evolution of Emily is set to be released on November 18th, so I have three and a half months to get everything ready for publication. I thought I was doing great schedule wise, but this whole new parenting thing is demanding a lot of my mental energy, so this week I really haven't gotten much done at all.

My goal had been to finish picking up all my latest notes from my copy editor, do one more complete read through, and send the "final" version off to my layout guy to make ARCs before the kids moved in. Um, yeah, they're moving in next week. I don't think I'm going to make that deadline.

Hopefully, I'll be able to find some time to work on stuff after they arrive, because November 18th really is right around the corner. My little guy will be in kindergarten, so I'll hopefully be able to get some work done while the kids are at school. But school doesn't start until September, and I have a lot of deadlines to meet between now and Labor Day if I'm going to keep my November release.

I did write a first attempt at the back cover copy this week. What do you think, is this a catchy blurb?

Emily Charles knows how to run away. Away from her agoraphobic mother. Away from her autistic sister. Away from her quiet sheltered homeschool life. When Emily's escape plan involves starting her junior year at Kennedy High School, she realizes she's no longer running away. Now she's running towards. Towards her cross-country teammate August, and her lab partner Miles. Towards friendship, love, independence, and life.

Thanks to her sister's special interest in biology, Emily knows all about the birds and the bees. Boys are a lot more confusing.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Last week, I talked to a group of aspiring young writers at a creative writing themed summer camp. The kids ranged in age from 3rd grade to high school. A few of them shared samples of their writing with me afterwards, and wow they were talented. Seeing these kids get excited about story telling, and connecting with my characters, was definitely inspiring.

I love writing. And I love knowing that there are so many other people who also love writing, both old and young. There are so many stories to tell, I'm glad it's my job to share them with others.

What Else I've Been Up To

As my previous answers alluded, I'm in the process of adopting two absolutely adorable foster kids. We get to take them home next week! Legally, I can't post their names or photos on the internet, because they are still in foster care. But even after the adoption is finalized, I want to respect their privacy.

In preparation for the kids eminent arrival, I bought a minivan on Saturday. And I just finished putting the final touches on their rooms earlier today. Here are pictures of my kiddo's beds. This is probably the cleanest these rooms will ever be, so I might as well post the photos now.


So what's up with you?

Tuesday, July 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

I recently read This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. It's a cute romance that was a fun summer read. A lot of contemporary YA has "issues" in addition to the romance. This book is really only romance and the characters didn't have all that much depth. It was still a very fun read.

What I'm Writing

I can now officially announce that my second novel, The Evolution of Emily, will be released on November 18th! So I've been working on that. I just got my final edits back from my copy editor and am working on getting polished and ready for publication.

I'll be posting the cover, blurb, etc, next month. But for now, I'll give you the tag line.

Emily knows all about the birds and the bees; boys are a lot more confusing.

What Inspires Me Right Now

It's been two months since my last blog post, so I think that means I'm not all that inspired. I've been really busy lately! Life is good. Life is great. But pushing the pause button on life long enough to write has been a challenge lately.

What Else I've Been Up To

A lot! Most notably, I'm becoming a mom. I've been trying to adopt kids out of the foster care system for the past year and a half. The process is long and very time consuming. But my wait is almost over. Chances are high there will be kids in my house by the end of the summer. Possibly even the end of the month. So that's what I've been doing for the last two months while not blogging. I've been getting all ready for my eminent embarkation into parenthood.

I don't want to share any personal info about my future kids online. All children deserve privacy, especially foster kids. I will likely write more about the adoption process in general in the future though. Right now, I mainly just want to get through it all.

It has been a very crazy past couple weeks, and things are only getting crazier.

So what's up with you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

LeeAnn'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'll 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 reposting my conversation with LeeAnn McLennan (originally posted 9/9/13). LeeAnn is an aspiring scifi/
fantasy writer who I met at a writing retreat last spring. I love both her fiction and her easy going disposition. I'm excited for this opportunity to get to know more about her. 


ME: So let's get started, LeeAnn, describe yourself in 50 words or less.

LM: I am a computer engineer and scifi/fantasy writer. I am both introverted and extroverted – depending on time or day, mood, and how my writing is going. I live with three cats and a darling husband who is my best cheerleader. When I’m not working or writing I’m hiking or cooking or thinking about the fact that I’m not writing. I spend way too much time worrying about what others think. When I get over myself and stop worrying I find that life is pretty nice and fluid.  So I’m trying to step outside my head more often.

ME: Um, LeeAnn, aren't computer engineer's supposed to be good at math? That was 98 words, which last time I checked is more than 50. I'll try to forgive you if you keep your next answer concise. What do you love most in the world?

LM: A good belly laugh.

ME: Four words says it all. Laughter is wonderful. So what do you fear most?

LM: Not connecting with other people.

ME: I think that is a very real fear for a lot of people, especially writers. The few times I've met you, I've found you very easy to connect with, so I don't think you need to spend much time cowering in fear. Now I want to know your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?

LM: To be able to live comfortably as a scifi/fantasy writer who sometimes teaches. I’m working to get my first book published right now.

ME: Good luck with that! I've only read the first chapter, but I loved it! I'm sure you will be able to find a place for it. And hopefully it will be a place that enables you to fulfill the rest of your dreams. Getting there won't be easy though. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?

LM: Facing my father after learning of his drug addiction. And ultimately, forgiving him for it. 

ME: That does sound hard. Your ability to forgive him shows what a strong person you are. 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?

LM: A few weeks ago I had a hiking accident. I slipped down a steep slope, grasping for anything to arrest me but there was nothing to stop my fall. One after another I lost my new trekking poles, my hat, and most horribly my glasses.  After about 30 feet I flew off a ledge into the air for another 30 feet, landed and slid for a final 30 feet. 

I still don’t exactly know what stopped me, my backpack still on my back or the bark and rocks on the hillside, all I know is I did finally stop. As I sat there stunned and beginning to take inventory of my body I heard my husband shout my name in a strong voice. He says he didn’t know if I would answer.  By then I could tell him I’d lost my glasses, was pretty banged up and had a lot of cuts but that in general I was okay. 

The subsequent rescue by EMTs, ambulance ride to the hospital, examination and stitches have the quality of a movie of the week that happened to someone else. However I have two sprained ankles, bruises, and stitches to remind me it happened to me and not someone else. 

One by one, almost like the items I lost while falling, I’ve shed the evidence of the fall; first the stitches came out, next the bruises began to fade (though they were sometimes replaced by new ones), then the swelling in my ankles went down so that I no longer have cankles. Three week later I can walk normally and most of the bruises have disappeared.  

I’m still pondering if there is a lesson to be learned from my fall. Though I’m not sure if there really is one, here are a few observations; my husband is awesome under pressure, I am able to keep my sense of humor even when trapped in a ravine, I prefer to be well rather than laid up, and this won’t stop me from hiking.

ME: Wow! What an ordeal. I'm so glad you're okay. Maybe sometime we can go hiking together, but only if you promise to stay on the trail.

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.elliott.scott(at)gmail.

Wednesday, May 7, 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 Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. I totally loved this book! It is a super cute ya romantic-comedy. Emphasis on the comedy. Better off Friends is billed as a YA version of When Harry Met Sally and just as funny. The witty banter between best friends Macallen and Levi had me laughing out loud several times.

My absolute favorite section of dialogue:

"So does this mean we're officially young adults now?" I asked her.
"I don't know. I've already been reading those kinds of books for a few years."
"Uh-oh, does this mean I'm still a baby? I really love Everyone Poops."

This book is too funny. It really should come with a warning label or something. I definitely recommend it.

What I'm Writing

I've set my third book, that I started in April, aside and gone back to cleaning up THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY. My goal is to release EoE in October, but in order to make that deadline, I have to get it to my copy editor in June. So um, THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY will probably be coming out in November. :)

My beta readers all gave me really great feedback and I've already made a few key changes that improve the story A LOT. There are more changes that I want to make though. They involve things like re-writing entire subplots though and require a lot of work. Hopefully the end result will be worth it though.

I did have one beta reader tell me she liked THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY better than COUNTING TO D already. So if I can actually make all the necessary changes, this could be a really fabulous book.

What Inspires Me Right Now

It's spring. The North West didn't get the same crazy winter as the rest of the country, no polar vortex here, but it's still nice to see the sun again. I've been trying to get out and hike more lately. Yesterday, I went for a mini-hike at a nature park near my house with a couple friends after work. This is a very bad picture I took with my cell phone of a blue heron on said hike.

Having the sun out actually makes it harder, not easier, for me to put my butt in the chair and get done all the revisions I need to make. But I'm going to call spring my inspiration anyway.

What Else I've Been Up To

I'm going to be a parent at some point in the future. I've posted about adoption a few times, but not all that much mainly because this process takes SO LONG there usually isn't anything to say.

I can now report that our home study is almost complete. All we have left to do is review the report the social worker wrote about us and then we'll be ready to start the matching process. This means, we could potentially have children as early as this fall. But considering how long every other step in this crazy process has taken, kids by the fall of 2015 is probably more realistic.

I know every state is different, but I'm going to give a bit of advice to anyone considering adopting out of the foster care system. Use a private agency anyway. Yes, it's free if you use DHS, and they have to get involved eventually, since they run the foster care system. But DHS is also very understaffed and inefficient. So yeah, this process takes for ever. It's even worse than publishing. :)

So what's up with you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Medeia'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'll 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 reposting my past discussion with 
Medeia Sharif (originally posted 8/26/13). Medeia writes both young adult and middle grade fiction and her latest young adult novel, Snip Snip Revenge, was just released last week. Enter to win a free copy in a goodreads giveaway




ME: Medeia, describe yourself in 50 words or less.


MS: I believe in brevity, so I’ll use three words: introverted, nerdy, and kind.

ME: Being introverted, nerdy, and kind are all great things. Tell me more. What do you love most in the world?

MS: Literature. I love writing and reading.

ME: Me too, there is nothing better than a great story. So what do you fear most?

MS: I’m afraid of losing control. I become agitated when I can’t control a situation and if someone tries to control me. I get upset, become avoidant since I’m not argumentative, and sometimes I lose my temper. Mild discomfort can lead to full panic mode. I don't want anyone or anything compromising my freedom.

ME: Eek, that's no good. I'll make sure to never try and control you. Thanks for agreeing to answer my somewhat controlling questions. Now I want to know your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?

MS: I always wanted to be a multi-published author with my name on several books. Now with one book behind me, I’m still trying hard to fulfill that dream. The industry can be brutal and there’s a lot of subjectivity, but I keep at it. I’m working on various manuscripts and submitting projects.

ME: Having read and enjoyed your one book, I sincerely hope you reach that dream for the purely selfish reason that I want to read your other books. I'm sure you will get there. So, what is the hardest thing you've ever done?

MS: In my twenties, I became independent with my own place and source of income. This was no easy thing since I grew up sheltered. Things were hard at first and there was so much to be afraid of. After numerous adjustments, I eventually became resourceful and self-reliant.

ME: Being a grownup has it's benifits, but there are still times when I wish I could go back to the carefree nature of childhood. I agree gaining independence and self-reliance aren't easy tasks to achieve. If you can do that, there's know way you can't get another book published. 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?

MS: Last spring break I visited my childhood neighborhood, the one I spent the first ten years of my life in. I hadn’t seen the area in twenty-six years. I remember emerging from the subway early in the afternoon with my heart pounding. Because of the time of day, the parks and residential streets weren't heavily populated. Anytime I was alone, I went ahead and talked to myself. I said things like, “Wow, it’s changed,” or “It’s the same,” or “Oh my God, it’s beautiful.” I went through parks, admired the river view, walked past my old apartment building, and traveled on familiar streets. I didn’t cry or anything, but it was an emotional experience.

ME: I imagine that return to an old familiar place was not only a great experience for you as a person but also for you as a writer. Thank you, for sharing your story. I definitely feel like I now have a better understanding of who you are. And I'll definitely be waiting to read that second book.

ME again, several months later: Now that your new book is out, why don't you tell us a little bit about Snip Snip Revenge.

MS (via goodreads): Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald.

With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.



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.