Monday, May 30, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Make Good Friends

This may be my most helpful Monday post ever. Don't worry, I'll try to shove some nonsense in here somewhere. But my Monday advice to you today is to make good friends. My new blog is the result of one of my very dear friends, Natalie Whipple. Isn't my header pretty?? She drew it. She's talented like that. She's one of those people who hogged all the talents in life and didn't leave any for the rest of us. She can write, draw, cook and has excellent fashion sense. (Plus, she's hot, but I don't know if that qualifies as a talent. It's really just a fact.) So when I was searching the blogosphere for some writers to stalk until they became my friends, you can see why I chose Natalie.

Just kidding, I didn't stalk her.....did I? Hmm, maybe I did.

Which leads me to my second bit of advice relating to this topic. Surround yourself with supportive people who know your goals. Don't keep your writing hidden. The more people you tell, the more likely you are to complete your goals. And you might find out that some other people you know have the same goal. When I first started writing, I kept it to myself. Then one day I told my best friend Candi and much to my surprise, found out she was writing too. Together we formed our first support group. Without those initial "meetings" I might not have had the motivation to continue, especially during the times I really wanted to quit. But by that time, I had told so many people that it made quitting hard. That's a good thing.

So tell people you're writing (including family. My sisters have been the best cheerleaders ever). Surround yourself with other writers who are at the same stage of the journey as you are. Support each other. Share your work with each other and grow in the business together. I've had the same critique group (with one or two more recent additions) for going on three years now. I wouldn't have gotten this far without them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday Review-What Happened to Goodbye

So someone said the other day in my comments section: "Your book is paranormal? With your obsession (and by obsession, I think she meant 'appreciation') for Sarah Dessen (okay, she meant obsession. She actually didn't use the word 'obsession' but I sensed that's what she meant.) I just assumed you were a contemporary writer."

It's true, I have a thing for Sarah. And I do love contemporary. I have exactly one half of a contemporary book written. Maybe one day I will finish it. But in the mean time, I will read the queen of contemporary herself, Miss Sarah Dessen. If you write contemporary or want to write contemporary or just love to read contemporary and haven't read her, you are missing out. Even if you don't write contemporary, I think reading contemporary can help us learn how to write rich, deep relationships because nobody does them better than contemporary writers.

Now, I would not be a good obsessed fan if I didn't review Sarah Dessen's newest: What Happened to Goodbye

Book Blurb: "After a scandal involving her mother and a famous college basketball coach rocked her family and her old hometown, McClean decided to live with her dad. His job as a restaurant consultant requires they pick up often, and at each new place she carefully selects who she’ll be—Eliza, Beth, or someone else with a new name and different interests. It’s easier this way for McClean, who is reluctant to form any true attachments. Then at their latest stop, McClean does something she’s not done in a long while—reveal her real name. But who is this McClean and is she ready to forgive her mother, fall for the boy next door, and finally stick around?"

The book was super cute and was definitely a study in amazing characters and relationships. If you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, you will love it. If you have never read anything by her, may I suggest you start with "The Truth About Forever" though. That is my all time favorite. The others all tie for second.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Junior Mint Warning

I am the self-appointed expert on all things Junior Mints. As such, I have a very important bit of advice for you. It is best for the inexperienced Junior Mint eater to avoid them on long car trips. Actually, avoiding them in the car altogether may be best. For even an experienced eater, such as myself, may have the following experience after a long car trip.

While, driving, singing badly to the radio, and attempting to eat Junior Mints at the same time, one or two may have slipped out of my grasp. They're slippery little guys. Thinking they fell between the middle console and the driver's seat, I didn't worry too much about them (I would never go searching for them down there, that is a scary place where probably all missing items in my life, wanted and unwanted, can be found). After arriving at my destination, greeting the people we were visiting, and sitting on their nice couch in their formal living room, a smear of chocolate was discovered across the couch cushion. "What kid has chocolate hands?" the owner of nice couch asked. I just shrugged my shoulders and watched as she cleaned the mess. Ten minutes later someone asks: "Kasie, are those Junior Mints smeared all over your backside?" I knew right away they were. Not because I remembered that I had dropped a few, but because this wasn't the first time this had happened to me.

Hmmm, maybe I'm the only one that needs to avoid eating Junior Mints in the car.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Several of you have asked me what PIVOT POINT is about. I haven't talked about it much on my blog...okay...I haven't talked about it AT ALL on my blog. Call it superstitious. Call it paranoid. But probably the most honest reason is insecurity. In this industry full of rejection, it's easy to start doubting ourselves and our ideas. So I kept this one close. But, since HarperTeen and my lovely editor Sarah Landis think it's pretty great, I thought I could share my query with you.

I loved seeing queries when I was in that stage. So I hope this will help those of you who are querying right now. It will also tell you about my book.

Although I'm tempted to change a few things about it now, I will resist because (aside from the first paragraph) this is the actual query I sent out. Wow. I'm still super nervous. Be kind.

Dear Agent whose name I will spell right,

Here is where I will say something personal about you and why I chose to query you. For example, my amazing agent, Michelle Wolfson, I follow you on twitter and for the last year you have made me laugh while simultaneously informing me how not to catch a mouse and that querying a hundred agents with the same email will save me loads of time. (Because I followed Michelle on twitter, I knew she had a sense of humor and although that's not the exact sentence I used for her in my query, it was something slightly sarcastic.) I am seeking representation for my YA paranormal PIVOT POINT, complete at around 75,000.

When Addison Coleman is faced with a choice, she has the ultimate insurance plan against disaster—the ability to see both outcomes. It may not be as flashy as Telekinesis or Telepathy, but it’s the perfect ability to maintain a suck-free life. Or so she thought. But after her parents ambush her with a divorce announcement and ask her who she wants to live with, she knows either road leads to Anywhere-But-Here.

With her father leaving the paranormal compound to live amongst the masses of underused brains and her mother staying with the gifted in the life she’s always known, both futures seem lacking. It isn’t until she Searches the two possibilities that she realizes how hard the choice really is. And it’s not just because the popular quarterback is interested in her in one life and the troubled artist in the other. When her father, a human lie detector, is assigned as the lead investigator of a murder and her best friend, a mind eraser, becomes involved with a criminal, she learns either path holds the potential for loss. It all comes down to which loss she’s willing to live through.

Reminiscent of the movie “Sliding Doors” the chapters alternate between the two possibilities. The intertwining futures provide the reader with insights the main character can’t see, building tension for when the knowledge of both worlds collide.

I have included (however many pages your website told me to include) below. Thank you for your consideration.

Kasie West

Ah, that brought back memories of the emotional highs and lows of querying. It's a lot of work. Good luck to those in that stage. You can do it. Surround yourself with supportive, helpful friends and never give up.

Monday, May 16, 2011

I Interrupt My Brain Eating Post to Announce.....

PIVOT POINT is going to be published! I SOLD MY BOOK!!! Well, I didn't sell it, my agent, Michelle Wolfson, did because she is amazing! I don't have a lot of specifics right now and my head is spinning and my brain (which really feels like it has been eaten) is still wondering if it's true (especially after my agent played a prank on me this morning), but I am so incredibly happy!

The things I do know are: I want to marry HarperTeen, I want to kiss editor Sarah Landis (and just might so she better watch out when we meet), and I get to write a sequel!! Wahoo!!!!!!!!!! I'll have more details in the coming weeks. But I am so happy....have I already said that?

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--Obsessed

So, I've gotten more comments/emails/phone calls about my last Monday "Duck Post" than any other post before. Which makes me wonder: What is wrong with you people?!? A duck's life hung in the balance, children were in the process of being scarred for life. What was so funny about that?

Just kidding. I left out the part in my post where I was laughing so hard that my daughter threatened to throw her iTouch at me. So, yes, I'm glad we all found the situation amusing. All that matters is the duck is safe. Right? We don't have to feel bad about our laughter because the duck is safe.

Now, on to today's post.

Welcome to my new obsession:

Like with most things, I'm probably late to the party. But have you played this game yet? It meets all the requirements of a great game: Plotting, Tension, and Zombies trying to eat your brains. (I know, the requirements are pretty specific so you can imagine how excited I was when I found a game that fits them.) It's awesome. You have to find the right plants to plant at the right time and in the right place that will hopefully kill the zombies before they invade your house and eat your brains.

I started playing it yesterday and am ashamed to admit that I ended up playing it for nine million hours or until the battery on my iPhone ran out. My husband kept trying to look over my shoulder, saying, "What are you playing?" "Shhhh," I'd hiss, "I have to kill the zombies." An hour later, "Are you still playing that dumb game?!" This is where I would've backhanded him across the stomach for such blasphemy, but I was too busy killing the disco-dancing zombie.

So, when you are all addicted to this game, I just want you to remember who helped you on your way to being extremely unproductive. Me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ah, Blogger is Back

Welcome back, Blogger. Where have you been? I hope that was a one time only vacation you took yesterday. Twitter has been giving me problems as well lately. This may place entirely too much importance on me and my influence but I believe I broke the Internet with my mind powers.

In other news, Sarah Dessen is going to be in Utah tonight and I am going to be here....not in Utah. Sarah is my author crush. I was up way too late last night reading her newest: What Happened to Goodbye. I haven't finished it, but so far it's everything I hoped for. Sarah never lets me down.......oh, wait, except when her signing tour doesn't include California! Come on, Sarah, why didn't you consult me on this. Maybe my mind powers can get her plane to make a landing here (not because of an emergency or anything but maybe because the pilot has realized that the woman he broke up with the week before is really his true love and he must prove his love by landing his plane on her street and proposing to her) and then Sarah will just have to do a last minute signing. Come on Mind Powers, don't fail me now. *Thinks really hard*

Monday, May 9, 2011

Maddeningly Unhelpful Monday--How to Traumatize Your Children

In honor of mother's day, I thought I would share a motherhood failure story to make you all feel better about your parenting. Or, you can take notes if you're looking for a way to traumatize your children.

Some of you may remember the baby duck that adopted our family. We named him Ding Dong and he lived in our pond.

He grew into a big healthy duck. Look at us, aren't we good duck parents. We raised a healthy duck.

But as the days got hotter, our pond (which is really a rain water drainage ditch) began to dry up and we knew we needed to find a real home for Ding Dong. We noticed at the end of our street some other ducks that looked exactly like ours living in a permanent pond complete with water lilies and grass. The ducks seemed so happy and nice waddling around their pond scavenging for food. So we thought when our pond became too low for our duck to swim in, we would take him down to the corner and ask the owners if our duck could join with the others.

In preparation of this inevitable day we began to mentally ready our children for the separation because they had become rather attached to the duck. So every time we drove by, I'd say things like, "Oh look, there's Ding Dong's family." I said this so much that soon my kids started saying it. My 4 year old son would wave when we drove by and scream, "Hi Ding Dong's brothers and sisters!" It was so cute and heartwarming that I just knew things were going to be fine.

Fast forward to a month later. It was time. Our pond was dry. The duck needed to be moved. We got a box, put the duck inside and drove to the corner. The owners were very nice and agreed to the addition. So we walked, as a family, up to the fence. "Have fun with your new family," I said. My husband threw Ding Dong over. He spread his wings and gently glided to a landing.

Immediately the ducks were on him, tackling him to the ground and pecking his neck. I gasped in surprise, my husband said, "It's okay, let's wait a few minutes, they'll work it out." A few minutes go by, Ding Dong is running, wings flapping around the pond with the other ducks in pursuit. They tackle him again. My son screams, "They're killing him!!" My daughters burst into tears. I look at my husband and start laughing. My daughters tell me to save him. "They'll work it out," my husband keeps saying. We drag our kids, crying, to the car where we look on for a few more minutes, still horrified. Finally, we drive away.

When we get home I look up 'How to introduce a duck to a new flock' on Google.

Short answer: Don't. Or: Take your time, it's very hard and can result in duck murder.

I get back in the car and retrieve my duck. The next day I buy a kiddie pool for the months our pond is dry. We still have a duck.

Every time we drive by the house on the corner my son stares out the window and in a low voice says, "Those are the mean ducks, mommy."

End result: Traumatized children with a life lesson on the pecking order.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday Review-The Voice

I tried to resist. "Self," I said, "You are not going to talk about The Voice on your blog because it will come off as an Adam Levine love fest." I listened to myself really well for one whole week.....until The Voice came on again. And then I said to myself, "Self, considering how much you talk about this subject ("this subject" being Adam) on twitter, people already know, they already know." So here I am. Talking about The Adam...I mean The Voice. I love this show. And surprisingly, my love for the show, goes beyond this guy:

(Not very far beyond this guy. I mean, look at him!)

I've decided that shows such as these really get me because, in a way, they remind me of trying to get published. You start with a dream that you've worked hard on, poured your soul into. It's a passion. Then you take that dream (by this point that dream is an actual book), write a query letter (or in their case, stand in front of four judges) and hope someone can hear your voice. Hope they can see your potential. Dream they'll want to help you reach that potential. So when that chair turns around (sorry, if you haven't seen The Voice, you probably won't get that) it makes my heart so happy for those people. And when it doesn't, I feel their pain. I've just really been so happy with this show.

If you've seen the show, do you like it? If not, what show do you love?

Next week, back to regularly scheduled programming (meaning, I might actually review a book).