What if your greatest talent is…Being Weird??

I was on the rowing team my freshman year of college. During a one-on-one meeting, my crew coach asked me what I was going to major in. I stared at her, point blank, and without hesitating said, “Beer and Men.” This boast wasn’t far from the truth, and while my social life escalated, sadly, my academic pursuits dwindled. I dropped out of college after my sophomore year and spent about three years getting my butt kicked in the “real world,” via Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Milwaukee.

My dad, always trying to give me sound parental advice which I usually swept under the rug of my overbearing immaturity, told me, “Katie, figure out what you’re good at. Figure out a way to make money doing it. That is the key.”

I juggled his words around in my head for years. What was I good at? I never excelled at sports (even in high school it appeared I wanted to focus my studies on beer and men). I was a lousy student. I excelled more at the art of skipping class, rather than actually attending it. I never had a teacher pull me aside and say, “Hey, you’re really good at _________.” I was the kid who had teachers pull me aside to tell me they thought I was cheating, to give me in-school suspensions, to give me basketball suspensions because I was caught at a party, or to switch me into remedial courses because I wasn’t making the grades.

I kept thinking, what if I just excel at sucking at everything? What do I do with that?

Then, I decided to do a little internal study. I started to think abut the comments I heard most often from people, that were directed at me. Some people hear, “You’re so smart.” Some people hear, “You’re so artistic,” or, “You’re such a good athlete,” or, “You’re such a great people-person.” The thing that I’ve consistently heard throughout my life is, “Wow, you are really, really weird.”

I started to think about this idea of being weird. In high school, I took it as an insult. It’s painfully awkward to be different. It is so much easier to be in a click, to be in a group, to fall in a label. Being weird is like being a mutant.

In college, I heard these comments on a daily basis. “You’re so weird. You’re so strange. Are you high all the time?” So what if I wanted to tie sweatpants around my head instead of a scarf in the winter? I was resourceful. So what if I’d rather sit in a coffee shop and watch people out the window and write down the dialogue I imagined they were saying instead of doing my homework? I was inventive. So what if I preferred dancing with inanimate objects over people? I was non-discriminatory. So what if I enjoyed wearing my Micheal Jordan face mask to class and quoting Dennis Rodman’s bio, Walk on the Wild Side like it was my bible? I was a Bull’s fan.

I started to realize that what people saw as weird, and strange, was actually a compliment. I was creative. My brain registered things in a different way. I began writing down all of my thoughts. I started to piece them into stories. Turns out, my dad was right. And, to his relief, I went back to college to pursue a degree in writing.

School is strange because logic and creativity are two very different types of intelligence. In school, we focus so much on logic that often creative kids fall through the cracks. Creative people don’t want to think inside the box. We don’t want to memorize other people’s ideas, we want to form our own. We don’t want to learn what WAS. We want to imagine WHAT COULD BE. We don’t want to be TOLD, we want to QUESTION. We don’t want ANSWERS. We prefer to WONDER. This frame of mind doesn’t work well in modern education. Logic is great for some brains, but stifling for others.

You want to know who some of the smartest kids in school are? Check out where the rejects hang out. The pottery rooms, the art rooms, the music rooms. They skulk away in corners and if they do actually show up for class, they’re usually brooding in the back. Sometimes they’re the obnoxious ones, the disciplinary cases, or the class clowns always acting out or giving hell to the teachers. And it’s not because they’re misfits. It’s not because they’re stupid. They’re bored out of their MINDS and their survival mechanism is to either quietly retreat or to boldly stick it to the man.

For any of you struggling to figure out what you’re good at, think back to what people most often say about you. What comments keep resurfacing? Also, I’ve learned that many times our strengths don’t show up until we are tested. Our strengths are what pull us out, they’re the roots of what we can excel at.

What pulls you out when you feel like you’re falling through the cracks? There lies your strength. Own it. Embrace it. And if anyone ever calls you weird, take it as a compliment. It’s better than being normal any day.

~Katie

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SCREENPLAY

A lot of my readers are asking me, now that I’ve wrapped up two book series, what I’m working on now? Well…

About ten years ago, I started imagining a story with a male protagonist named Frank Lucky. I began writing it as a short story, and I ended up setting it aside, but Frank’s character has always stayed in the back of my mind, as well as his love interest, Luna.

This summer, after finishing up two trilogies I had dedicated my writing energy to, Frank’s voice immediately resurfaced and he started pestering me to write his story. Since film is probably my favorite form of story telling, I decided to try this out in a screenplay format. After discussing it with seven beta readers, and eight rewrites later, I feel like I have a strong script in my hands.

What I’m looking for now is a script agent to take a look at the screenplay. It is not a commercial script. It definitely has more of an indie feel (which are the types of movies I usually prefer). It’s a romantic dramedy, aimed at audiences who enjoyed the quirky humor and relationships in 500 Days of Summer or Garden State.

If anyone out there knows of a script agent (or if you are one!!) and you are interested in hearing a pitch, please email me: katiekacvinsky(at)uwalumni(dot)com

Peace out.

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Sexism in Cereal

So, random thought, but the other day, while eating my healthy breakfast of Boo Berries, after finishing my box of Count Chocula and Franken Berries (yes, I’m loving the seasonal cereals), it dawned on me there are no female mascots on cereal boxes.

No. Not one. I picked my brain, but they’re all male. Tony the Tiger, Lucky the Leprechaun, the Trix Rabbit, the Honey Nut Cheerios Bumble Bee. They’re all dudes.

This is blasphemy, I tell you, this covert sexism, and I will boycott eating cereal until a female marketing design hits the shelf. (**I need to exempt Boo Berries from this claim because I already opened the box and I hate wasting food. Also, cereal dye that turns my milk blue is really hard to pass up.)

My question is why? Why don’t we want to eat cereal marketed by females? Does it seem like it wouldn’t be as filling, as hearty, as full-bodied in flavor? What is the psychological element at play here? Why isn’t there Barbie cereal? Do we not want to eat her accessories, her shoes, combs, and purses? We have no problem eating Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Sully and Mike. We seem to enjoy the thought of eating hairy monsters that spray wet-dog odorizer on their fur. How is that even appetizing? Why don’t we want to eat beautiful Elsa and Anna? What does this mean, psychologically?

For those marketing entrepreneurs out there, I have your answer. Use She-Ra for a cereal campaign. Call it She-Real. Bam. Done. I’d be all over that marshmallow explosion.

Okay, so this isn’t quite breaking news. Not even bending news. But thanks for reading.

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Infinite JETS!

Good News: Any electronic glitches with the STILL POINT ebook has been fixed. The book should be live and available on your world wide web, (sadly, however, not in print). You can read it, NOW! Thank you to that man or woman probably wearing those thick-rimmed glasses, most likely sitting in a dark lower level of a building streaming Pandora who emailed that other guy or lady probably wearing glasses, drinking their third cup of coffee or maybe a Diet Coke, in that other lower level building who clicked that button and fixed that html code and made this book POSSIBLE (online only, sorry)!

So… I just started reading Infinite Jest and I’m only on page thirty and I’m exhausted, stuffed, a little dizzy, but I know I don’t want this book to end. Since I only read children’s books these days, (no offense Mo Willems, love Gerald and Piggie) I’m feeling sluggish in the brain cell department. Mentally emaciated would be another way to describe it. I decided to pick up something challenging and the lure of 200 pages of footnotes sold me.

I’m just glad I started out reading David Foster Wallace with his much, much smaller book, This is Water, a commencement speech he wrote in 2005. I feel like I got a watered down version of his brain before I plunged into the MIND GRINADE that is Infinite Jest.

I only read one review before I bought Infinite Jest. It was on Amazon, and the review was from a disappointed fan who shout-wrote “There are no jets in this book! Not one single mention of a jet! Who puts the word JET in a title and doesn’t even write about any aeronautical machines??” This review summed up why I avoid reading reviews in general from anonymous sources: Misunderstood, subjective, strangely inaccurate rants that make me question and feel embarrassed for the reviewer much more than the work being reviewed. Anyway, after reading that review and feeling robbed of my time, I drove downtown to my local bookstore to physically see this book. It weighs about as much as a newborn child. In a way, that’s how a see it. This complete entity. This being. In other words, yes, I’m loving this book.

Later.

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Where Can I Find STILL POINT?

People have been emailing me all week saying they are having problems finding STILL POINT. I’ve also had some very disappointed fans email me their frustrations that this book is only available digitally. One stubborn fan told me, “I love your books and I love this series but I refuse to read ebooks, so I WILL NOT READ THIS BOOK.” Other people commented, “You wrote a book about an anti-digital movement and then you only make it available digitally???”

But, let’s be optimistic for a minute. STILL POINT is available! You can read it, NOW. And believe me, you should. You would still be supporting me, as a writer, and supporting all of the amazing editors and people that got behind this book to make it happen. Here are some links where you can find it:

AMAZON
KOBO
BARNES AND NOBLE

Some of you are concerned that you can’t read STILL POINT because you don’t own an ereader. Well, you don’t need to own a Nook or a Kindle to read it. You can simply download the software onto your computer or laptop, and read my book from there. For example, here is a link to download Kindle to your computer: DOWNLOAD.

Here is the same idea, but for NOOK (digital books sold by Barnes and Noble).

I’ve had several of my foreign fans tell me that they can’t download my book. I would try the sites I provided, but if it isn’t working it might be because the rights to this book are not available in your country yet. You can email me if you are having a specific problem and I can forward the information on to my publicist. Just let me know what country you are in and what site isn’t working. My email is: katiekacvinsky(at)uwalumni(dot)com. If you’re in Germany, I will let you know as soon as I hear about the release date. It’s coming soon.

Finally…for those of you reading STILL POINT, I highly recommend checking out the short story I wrote last fall, MADDIE’S TATTOO. It’s a prequel to AWAKEN, but it sets up characters and events in STILL POINT. I actually think you would get the most out of it after you read STILL POINT, since it introduces a new character. Here is a link to MADDIE’S TATTOO. You can download this story worldwide.

MTcoverart

Okay. I think I answered all the questions! Thanks again for your support and for reaching out to me. Read up.

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Happy Book Birthday, STILL POINT

About six years ago I was driving to the coast on Highway 34, a road that twists through the Oregon coastal range that separates the ocean from the valley. I remember passing through a lush rainforest with ferns as thick as curtains. Coming from the flat farmlands of Wisconsin, I was caught in a world that was so different from what I knew it felt surreal most of the time. It made me fall in love with trees, with nature, and with getting unplugged and being fully aware, and in the moment. That drive inspired the opening journal entry for AWAKEN.

Six years later, the trilogy’s come to a close with STILL POINT. If you want to know more behind the meaning of the title which was inspired by Sting’s song, LOVE IS THE SEVENTH WAVE (great song), check out an old post I wrote.

Happy Book Birthday to STILL POINT! I had so much fun writing this series. It was challenging, sometimes terrifying, but more than anything, it was inspiring. I grew up alongside Maddie. Life lessons, struggles and personal experiences I had flooded into these books. These characters are close to my heart and I’ll never forget them. Thanks for taking the time to read this series. I hope it’s inspired you to carve out your own path and live in the moment.

Okay, I’ll stop babbling now so you can READ.

STILLPOINT_coverFINAL

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TECHNOLOGY and THE HEAD-DOWN FAMILY

One of my favorite things to talk about (well, argue about) is technology and the way it is shaping our lives. I recently interviewed one of my fans, Gloria Kwan, who is sixteen years old and lives in Hong Kong. This is a real person, just like you, going to school, and dealing with technology and how it is impacting our lives. One of her issues with technology is the “head-down family,” a virus that is spreading in her country. She is fighting to avoid it. Here are some of Gloria’s thoughts about technology in the real word:

As a student in Hong Kong, can you describe what a typical school day is like for you?

I am studying in an international school, and a typical school day would be sitting in front of my lap top for most of the classes for the entire lesson. During lunch time, I use technology (laptop) for homework and studies.

How does technology play a part in your school life?
We don’t usually use textbooks nowadays, we use laptops for most of our lessons, so laptops have replaced the use of textbooks almost completely.

How does technology affect your social life? How important is it to you and your friends?
In Hong Kong, people mainly communicate with Whatsapp, Snapchat and Facebook. As people use these apps all the time, your popularity on these social websites are your reputation in real life. In order to be famous or have a good reputation at school, you need to spend a lot of time online to “connect” with your friends. The more you use it, the more swag you’re considered to have. Moreover, our topics and gossips are mainly about others’ online statuses, so you have to be alert to the latest online trend in order to stay in your group. Basically everyone has at least one of these apps. The more you use it, the more popular you are at school!

How much time do you spend behind a screen on a given day?
During school days, apart from sleeping and dinner, I spend most of the time in front of the screen, at most 2-3 hours without my laptop. There’s no way you can avoid it, because every piece of homework needs to be done online.

During weekends, I only spend 2-3 hours in front of the screen for homework. It is because my parents have persuaded me not to use technology too much. But for most of my friends, they just spend most of their time in front of the screen too, even more than on school days.

Can you discuss the “the head-down family” and why you feel this is a virus you don’t want to catch?
“The head-down family” is a social phenomenon in Hong Kong due to the abuse of smart phones. When you take the MTR (underground train) in Hong Kong, there will be 90% of the people with their heads down, flirting with their phones, as everyone is busy using their smart phones. You barely see anyone with their heads up. Since the invention of smart phones, the head-down family virus has spread like moths. The situation is even more obvious in Hong Kong.

Luckily, I’m immune to this virus, well at least I’m still fighting against this virus. It is because of my parents, as they are also anti-smartphones. They refuse to let me be one of them (the head-down family), because they start to ignore everything around them and cut themselves off from the real world. People don’t notice small things around them, all they care about are their smart phones. I just don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to waste all my time in front of the screen. I’d rather spend more time with my family. I’d rather see my friends in real life than text them every single minute. I don’t want to be a smartphone slave!

How do you think technology is affecting your culture?
First of all, the only time I use pen and paper now is either exams or math homework. As technology is more convenient, our knowledge of language is being affected. Especially for Chinese, we can type Chinese characters without actually writing it when we are trying to send messages. It seems like everyone is forgetting how to write Chinese in real life now. The less time we use to write, the less Chinese characters we remember. Chinese words are difficult to remember, and with less opportunities we have to write, the culture will certainly be affected.

On the other hand, I think more and more people are staying indoors, because you can talk to a lot of people without actually seeing them. In Hong Kong, a lot of boys play video games at home and they never get out. We have a special term for them, which is called “home-boy.” I think because of this consequence, less people are willing to go out now. Therefore, their communication and social skills are considered as bad.

Moreover, people talk less and less nowadays, because they can communicate without speaking. They use less with their voice and more with their fingers. Even sometimes, my friends text me when we’re having dinner together while they’re just sitting right across me!

Do you personally know anyone who is addicted to technology? (Tweeting, facebooking, texting, emailing, gaming, watching TV…)
Yes. I think 90% of my friends are addicted to technology now. I am not exaggerating the fact, it is true that I can barely find any people who can leave their phone for more than an hour now.

Do you think your country is more “plugged-in” compared to other countries? Why or why not?
Yes. I think Hong Kong is a more “plugged-in” city, but China may not be the most “plugged-in” country. It is because the demand of smartphones is increasing rapidly. Moreover, Hong Kong is a busy city, people intend to do things in a faster speed, and technology is the only way to solve the problem. Hong Kong has a really high density of population but not enough land. Since everywhere is so crowded in Hong Kong, people avoid going out and choose to stay indoors for less troubles. Therefore, the only entertainment we have is the internet.

Why does my Awaken series connect with you? 
The Awaken series has pointed out the problem we have nowadays. Although it is a dystopian story that is set in 2060, I don’t find it exaggerated or unreal, because I am sure that such a society will happen in a blink of an eye. Especially with the serious situation in Hong Kong, I don’t even find anything odd about the series. The story is the consequence in the future if we keep on ignoring the problem now.

As the major idea of the series is about being unplugged, I think that is what everyone should listen to. People are blinded by the pros of technology but they don’t even realise that they are so “plugged-in.” The Awaken series has reminded us what kind of problem we are facing and the consequence it will lead us to.

The Awaken series have given me sparks of hope, when I think the world is going downhill, it gives me hope that we may change the world if we are willing to. That’s why I feel so connected to the book, because I no longer feel lonely about my special point of view towards technology. I finally find someone who feels the same as me.

What do you and your friends enjoy doing for fun?
I enjoy being surrounded by people, and discovering different places in Hong Kong with my family. My favourite thing to do is go swimming at the beach with my parents at least once a week in summer. I love doing all kinds of sports with my friends, because I’m a really sporty person. To be honest, as long as it includes interactions with others, I consider it fun.

For my friends, they really enjoy going on Tumblr, Youtube and surfing online or maybe going shopping in the malls. Even though I love making friends who love being outdoors, I think it is really rare now.

Additional comments:
When I was answering the above questions, I felt really bad for what our world is turning into, especially when I am writing about the problems in Hong Kong. I feel really desperate about it. I have witnessed people around me who have changed since the invention of smart phones and the saddest part is the people who inspired me to stop using smart phones (my parents) are turning into a part of them without noticing it. I really hope more people can read the Awaken series and change their minds because I feel like I’m losing people around me day by day and I really hope such problems can be stopped. I hope people can wake up.

~Thanks so much to Gloria for her time and thoughtful answers to all of my questions! I hope you enjoyed reading about her perspective. I think this is a very important dialogue to have circulating.

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Join the STILL POINT STREET TEAM

As many of you know, STILL POINT, the grand finale to the AWAKEN series, has a release date of September 2nd! That is coming up close, my friends. My publicist is currently reaching out to bloggers and reviewers to help spread the word about this book. If any of you are interested in joining the marketing team to promote STILL POINT, please shoot me an email and I will forward your information along.

You can email me at: katiekacvinsky(at)uwalumni(dot)com

Just let me know your what your blog/website link is, and how you would like to help out, and I’ll contact you. Thanks for your support for my books and thanks SO MUCH to everyone who is tweeting to HMH, begging for a print edition! I appreciate all of your support.

Also, for those of you eagerly awaiting the release date, I published a short story last fall called MADDIE’S TATTOO. Although the short story is a prequel to Awaken, more than anything it sets up people and events for Still Point. I’m pretty sure after you read Still Point you will want to go back and check out MADDIE’S TATTOO, but I would recommend reading it now. It will give you something to think about before the final installment. Here is a link to the story.

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STILL POINT COVER REVEAL

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, or Twitter, you have probably already seen this, but I wanted to officially reveal the cover of STILL POINT, the final book in the AWAKEN trilogy.

STILLPOINT_coverFINAL

Gorgeous, right? I want to frame it. The more I look at the design, the more it makes me think. I love the hand behind the pixelated screen—that is definitely my favorite element, and very fitting to the story. What do you guys think?

For all of my German fans, I will post news about the German release date as soon as I hear it (yes, it WILL be released in German translation). The US release date is:
September 2nd. It’s available to preorder now, through the usual links: Barnes and Noble, Amazon…wherever you prefer to shop.

There is something else you need to know about this book. As of right now, STILL POINT is scheduled as an Ebook only release (I’m talking about the US edition). Yes, this means it will only be available to read in a digital format. It’s a bit ironic, since my series is about an anti-digital movement, yet you will only be able to read it using a digital device. I am hoping and praying that a print edition becomes available, but honestly, that is up to YOU. My READERS and my FANS. The more you help to spread the word about this series, the better are the chances a print book will be published. If I can get enough preorders of STILL POINT, it would definitely encourage HMH to publish the print copies sooner. I am still bugging them (politely) and my editor is trying very hard to make a print edition possible. But, like I said, it’s up to my readers and fans to help make it happen.

You could even send HMH a kind Twitter message, asking them (or begging, or bribing them) to make a print edition available! (Their handle is @HMHKids)

Why isn’t there currently plans for a print book? Well, the answer’s simple. It comes down to sales. The print editions of MIDDLE GROUND didn’t sell very well, but the ebook sales for this series has always been strong. When my agent and I pitched STILL POINT, Houghton Mifflin teeter-tottered over whether to take on the last book of the series. My editor, Julia Richardson, loved the manuscript and was able to make an offer. But it was an ebook only offer. HMH still owns the print rights, so I can’t make the book available by print-on-demand. That is why it is up to you to spread the word and get people talking about this must-read series. Help me make this print book a reality! I really, really want to hold this book in my arms.

How do I feel about this decision? At first I was disappointed. Obviously every writer wants to see their books and words in print. I mean, I don’t even read ebooks. But…I feel like the pros outweigh the cons. I got to work with an AMAZING editor on this book. Julia Richardson is my coach and my greatest writing teacher. I’m thrilled I got to write an entire series with her and finish off Maddie’s story. I feel privileged and blessed to have a publishing team behind me. After trying out self publishing, which has its own perks, what it lacks is a TEAM. A team of talented editors, designers, copy editors, agents…all the components that take a sloppy manuscript and help to make it shine. I want to produce quality writing. That’s what it comes down to.

And the best news of all is: I LOVE THIS BOOK. I do. So much. It might be my favorite book in the series. I don’t really reread my books after I publish them but I seriously CAN’T WAIT to reread STILL POINT. Yes, I will even go so far as to read it digitally. Because I’m very proud of this book. There are so many poignant scenes and messages that will truly make you think. There are new characters to meet. There is action, there is romance. Lots of good drama. I can’t wait for you to read it.

So, get online, get plugged in and preorder this book! (But, as soon as you’re done reading it, go outside, take a walk, talk to someone face-to-face, and always be in the moment). :)

~Katie

 

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One More Week

FF 1_sale

So, I am leaving Finally, Forever at .99 cents for one week. Basically, I just want everybody in the world to read this book. That’s a realistic goal, I know.

I want everyone to know Gray and Dylan, and to experience their story. I want to write NA books that touch on the emotional issues we face during this season of our lives. We break away from high school–this authoritative lifestyle paroled by so many schedules and rules–and all of a sudden WE ARE SET FREE. It is such an unknown, experimental phase of our lives. I would say my NA years (17 to 24) were the most complicated, challenging, liberating, scary and emotionally packed years of my life. It is endless writing material.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s move on to Gray and Dylan. I hope you enjoy their journey. And, I always love to hear your thoughts: katiekacvinsky(at)uwalumni(dot)com

~Katie

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