Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

I'm home sick today and feel pretty sickish. That's something like Jack would say from ROOM. And I have fallen in love with Jack.

He's a five year old boy who has lived his entire short life in an 11 X 11 converted storage shed with his mother...Ma. Room is all he's ever known.

The circumstances that land his mother in Room are harrowing and heartbreaking. But Ma, like any mother worth her salt, has made a life for her little boy inside Room. Jack is happy. Ma is not. She knows she has to get out...get him out...get him away from Old Nick.

ROOM is unlike any book I've ever read because of a few things. The way Ms. Donoghue uses the language is very unique - like Jack. She masterfully has climbed inside of a five year old's head and tells the story through his eyes...not hers. She is a genius.

I read the book in one day. One short day is all it took for me to get lost inside of Jack's head. I felt his wonder, his love, and ultimately his fear. I think it was his innocence that will stay with me, even more than his fear (which is heartbreaking and had me unable to stop reading). Yeah, it was definitely his innocence.

Thank you Ms. Donoghue for creating this character and for writing this book. Your story will stay with me for a long, long time. And that's what writing is all about.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

25 Year High School Reunion

For reals.

Yep, I'm that old. Whatever. Get over it.

My 25 year high school reunion was this past Saturday night. It was...hmmm...how do I put it into words? Umm. Yeah, struggling here - and I'm rather good with words, honest. Let me say this, I think I could get an essay out of the night, maybe even a chapter in a yet-to-be-written-memoir. The evening obviously took a tremendous amount of work and planning (*waves at Kris G.*) and I really did enjoy seeing the people I went to grade school with - we all traveled onto high school together.

Two events stand out in my memory:

1. I'm walking through the room with the one person I've actually kept in touch with from high school - as in we get together once or twice a year and it is like no time has escaped (hi Carol Q.) and a woman stops her. I look at her face and recognize her as "one of the popular" girls from high school. She looks at me, ignores me completely and says to Carol, "Yay, Carol's here, now all the popular girls are here!"

Uh-huh. I swear. I literally shook my head at her and said, "Wow." And then went on my merry way. As I reapplied my lipstick in the bathroom I laughed out loud at that moment. I felt sorry for her because she is clearly stuck. Stuck in the past. Stuck in labels. Stuck in crap that just doesn't matter after high school.

Now that I write books for high school aged readers I also realized something else. Drama, labels, popular girls/boys and crap are what make up good YA. So I am thankful for all of those things.

2. The music at reunions suck. Now, I know I may be alone in this opinion, but I don't want to hear music from 1985. Why? Because it is twenty-freaking-five years old, and I'm sort of over it. Give me some Rhianna or LCD Soundsystem or even Usher. Something I really want to dance to. Cuz I can dance.

Okay so the words I'll use to describe last nights' experience:
Uncomfortable (at times)
Interesting (people watching)
Final (as in, never attending another HS reunion)

See...the makings of some good writing...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Got Nothing

I have been sitting here for like ten minutes staring at the screen and here's what my brain came up with to blog about:

- Being thankful (Can't do it because I just blogged about Gratitude. Good timing on my part, eh?)

- Revising (My brain hurts, whine, whine, whine. So not interesting for anyone to read about.)

- The Harry Potter movie (It was great. I loved it. That's all I've got there.)

And that, my friends, is my pathetic list of nothing.

Oh, wait, remind me to tell you all my jump drive HORROR story some time. It's still too close to me to even write about, but know this, I cried and cried and cried. My husband and kids were seriously worried about me. It was that bad.



Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Harry Potter Day

I read my first three Harry Potter book in two days when I was thirty years old and I've never looked back. Those books hooked me more than any other books I've ever read. People that don't "get" Harry Potter (I know...who ARE these people?) have either never read the books or read the books but failed to put themselves into Harry's shoes from book 1.

I mean, seriously, how amazing would it be to find out your are actually a wizard and are headed off (and away from the psychotic Dursley's) to WIZARDING school? Spectacularly mind-blowingly amazing...that's how amazing it would be.

Those of you who know me, know that I used to be a Language Arts teacher and I took a workshop with this brilliant woman named Ellin Keene - she wrote an equally brilliant book called Mosaic of Thought. When I listened to her presentation she made the distinct point that the highest form of reading comprehension is empathy...putting yourself into the character's shoes and feeling things with them...as them.


That's exactly what I did with Harry. That first read linked me to him so deeply because I put myself right in his ill fitting clothes and taped up glasses and then slid into a Hogwarts robe too. Ahhh, magical.

But let me say this, there are COUNTLESS books I read where I try my damndest to connect with the MC...feel what they're feeling...be empathetic. And I just can't. Why? Because the writing is hollow. Empty. Or just plain awful. All hail the unbelievable world-builder and character-creator JK Rowling. Her writing snagged me in book 1 and never let go. Incredible.

I see the movie tonight at 7:00 - in the IMAX theater - with my boys and hubbie. But to be quite honest I am by far the most excited.

I will leave you with a short clip of the three main stars trying on American accents. Just try not to love them all even more. I dare you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Gratitude

Does anyone out there remember the gratitude craze generated by Oprah back in 1995? In particular...by this book:I bought that book. I kept a gratitude journal. I learned the value in being thankful for the small things in life like holding hands and the way fallen leaves sound when you crunch them with your feet.

Recently I was going through my humongous pile of journals - one goes back to 8th grade and would make you pee your pants if I ever read it to you - some are travel journals - two are the journals I kept for each of my boys...from the day I found out I was pregnant all the way until they were two years old - some are just stream of consciousness journals. But I put my hands on my gratitude journal and read every entry.

At first, like all thing I'm excited about, I wrote in that journal every single day. That lasted for a few months and then my dad died. El sucko. Some time past and I started journaling my thanks again, but not consistently. I always kept it to five things per entry I was thankful for, no matter if there were days, months or even years in between my entries.

You may be wondering - why am I babbling on about gratitude? I guess because I still think it's a crucial part of living and working towards your dreams. I can distinctly remember the days when a heart-gouging rejection would come through on a full request (heck, that was only a few months ago, right?) and I would cry and my assorted cast of loved ones would say everything possible to pull me up from the mud and get me believing again. But you know what? You know what also helped to keep me going?


Isolating and concentrating on whatever good I could find, either in the rejection email (sometimes an agent would compliment my writing or my story idea but then follow it up with a rejection) or the encouraging words from people I love or the fact I even had a completed novel to query...those small yet gratitude-worthy things were the padding my heart needed to keep beating.

Here's my latest gratitude journal entry:
I am thankful...
1. That my boys are such kind human beings
2. That I still (even after 23 years of being a couple) am in love with my husband
3. For the way the dark chocolate/sea salt/almond candy bar squares taste. Pure awesome.
4. That I have Sarah (my lovely agent) and Annette (my lovely editor) in my life now.
5. That I already have my IMAX tickets for opening night of Harry Potter.

What are you thankful for????

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mumbo Jumbo

Hey, remember me? I'm your online blog friend. I used to blog two or three times a week. Remember?

I'm baaaaaack.

I was away, literally, in this fine, fine place, aka Vail, Colorado:

I've never been out West and my mouth hung open wide many a time. Five of my college girlfriends met me out there and we laughed and danced and talked and laughed and reminisced and shopped and laughed and spa'ed and laughed some more. Great fun.

Before I left I was wading around in fresh agent revision notes for my MG trilogy (and loving it). And when I came back I received...drum roll please...revision notes from my editor and I've been adding and deepening and submersing myself back into that book.

Exciting times all around. Hard work, but exciting nonetheless.

So, what's going on in your world? I've missed everyone!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wait? Am I Dreaming?

On a random Tuesday afternoon I got home from work, did some kid related stuff, sat down at my beloved laptop to check my blog, go through tweets, see what's doing on facebook, you know, the regular old stuff. While at my desk, the phone rang and of course there IS NEVER A FLIPPING PHONE NEAR ME WHEN IT STARTS RINGING. As in never ever. My boys were in the basement xboxing their brains into mush, so they weren't answering it. I mumbled a few choice words and stomped through to the kitchen.

I missed the call.

I picked up the phone and saw on my phone's display that Curtis Brown Ltd. had just called me.

I said, "Huh?" And then I had a mini-inner-freak-out because why would my agent be calling me unless it was with news of some kind. My one contemporary YA book had gone out on submission a little over a month before...so...in the five seconds it took me to call the number back, about 8,765 scenarios ran through my mind.

The very nice woman answered the phone and I think I said, "HiI'mKateWaltonandIThinkSarahLaPollaJustCalledMeButIMissedTheCallBecauseThereAreNeverAnyPhonesNearMe WhenTheyRing." And then I took a breath. She took pity on me and only said, "Hold on please," and didn't make me do any more talking. I'm sure she was either smiling or shaking her head.


Sarah answered and said, "This is Sarah."

I said, "Sarah, it's Kate, what's up?" I'm almost sure I babbled something else after this but I have absolutely no recollection as to what I may or may not have said. I am a spaz, what can I say?

She said, "Well, we got an offer." (and let me say this here - Sarah has the best voice - she is so calm and so confident and she is the anti-me on the phone. I'm a rambler and can be a wee bit loud when I'm excited.)

I yelled out, "No way!" at the top of my lungs. (sorry about that Sarah)

"Yes, we did. And are you sitting down?"

"I'm sitting now. Oh my God, Sarah, I'm completely freaking out. But you keep talking because if you don't I'll just keep blubbering on and on. So go."

"Okay, well it's from Simon and Schuster."

"No way!" I yell again. I am nothing if not consistent with my reactions.

And then we got into the deets and I smiled and yelped and paced around the first floor of my house like a pinball. When I hung up the phone I stood at the top of my basement stairs and screamed down to my boys, "Guys, my book is going to be published!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

They flew up the stairs like three at a time and I was wrapped in a son sandwich. We did some jumping and hooting and high-fiving. It was a great moment. Then I called my husband and we cried together on the phone. Those tears represented years and years of writing, revising, querying, highs and disappointments, patience, lenience, understanding, respect and love.

Most of all love.

My husband and sons have loved me through my writing journey from word-one (you three make me happy to be alive). So have my mother (you and your never ending belief in me is nothing short of amazing) and my sisters (the 3 coolest and most supportive chicks on the planet) and my cousins (every single one of you are THE best), my in-laws (letting me finish writing my very first book in your pool house finally paid off, eh?!) friends (I'm talking to YOU Margie!), former co-workers (ETR forever!!!) -- so many people have cheered me on (Ron, Mercedes, Jewel, Marissa & Martina, Paul, Michelle, Buffy, Jill, Sarah, Elise, Jared, Nancy C, Arleen, The Australian Contingency & Dorothy) pushed me to continue (or start...Rina), read/critiqued my work (Susan, Weronika, Alex, Sandra & Christina), encouraged me through the dark spots with kind words and actions (Patty, Allison G, Jimmy), given me stellar advice (Ray, Carrie, Lisa & Laura, Authoress & her minions, Casey, Elana, Mary Kate, Evil Editor, Absolute Write peeps,YALitchat members & Georgia, Kim W & Jim).

I would be nothing without all of your love, support and encouragement. And I certainly wouldn't be announcing this news today, that's for sure.

It's always about the love in the end, right? Love makes the world go 'round. I love, love. We were put on this earth to love and love well. And I love this book and my characters. I love how incredible Sarah LaPolla has been to me (a HUGE TY to you). I love this online writing community that I am privileged to be a part of - you people all rock AND roll. I love how this is the beginning of it all...

I can't wait to see this book as a real book. I can't wait to get to know Annette from Simon Pulse. I can't wait for the whole freaking thing - start to finish.

Oh and here's the Publishers Marketplace announcement that came out on Friday:
October 29, 2010 Children's:Young Adult K.M. Walton's debut EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST, about two boys, a bully and his victim, whose very different circumstances at home have led them to become roommates in the same psych ward, to Annette Pollert at Simon Pulse, in a nice deal, by Sarah LaPolla at Curtis Brown.

WHOO-FREAKING-HOO. Put your hands in the air and wave 'em like you just don't care. Oh you fancy huh? Hell yeah, today I am!!!!!!

And I will leave you with the poetic words of one, Lil Wayne, "Life's a beach and I'm just playing in the sand."