Author Archives: katieslivensky

Writers Need Cats

Writers need cats. Not to say that other pets aren’t lovely, as well. In fact, I don’t consider myself a strictly cat person–more of an “everything” person (bring on the critters!). But when it comes down to it, as a writer, there’s no better companion than a cat. Or two. (Or more.)

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Meet Galileo. He’s my 9 year-old cat, and resident mischievous genius. He’s been with me since nearly day 1 of my journey to publication. Whenever I would get frustrated or down, he’s always be there for me, doing something absolutely absurd to distract me. Sure, that “something” often is breaking through child safety locks to open up cupboards and pull out every item he can get his paws on, but the point stands. Cats provide much needed levity and laughter, and sometimes even remind a person to get out of their writing chair and move around. Quickly. No, seriously. Hurry! Catch him before he–! …Too late, there goes everything from the medicine cabinet.

 

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Meet Darwin. He’s my four year-old cat, and is Galileo’s polar opposite. To be honest, not a lot happening upstairs with him, but he’s a sweetheart and impossible not to love. He came home with me a month before I signed with my agent, Joan, so he just as tied to my writing journey as Galileo. Darwin is a simple cat of simple needs. He is a wonderful reminder to stop and look out the window at the trees and the birds. While Galileo provides distraction, Darwin provides peace. Both are needed in a writer’s life.

Cats are natural writing companions. They are usually totally cool with sitting around, doing nothing, hanging out with their favorite person. They love routine, which writers tend to cling to for dear life, so that works out well. They like warm places, so your writerly blanket fort + coffee/tea nook is an inviting space for them to curl up and cuddle next to you in. They’re relatively independent, so when you get absorbed in your work, that’s A-OK. Usually. Unless it is time to eat, which honestly? Is a good reminder for you, too!

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Food time! Darwin begs for food by sitting next to me on the floor and opening his mouth wide, hoping I will put something in it. Galileo begs for food by…

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Well, let’s just say Galileo doesn’t beg. He lays claim.

Anyway, now that your cats have reminded you to feed them and yourself, let’s move onto another benefit. Cats keep the mind active! For example: “What was that noise?” “What’s he getting into in the other room?” “Oh my gosh, why is there toilet paper EVERYWHERE?!” These are important questions in any manuscript. Uh…well, maybe not, but they certainly keep an author on their toes! And that in turn, helps us keep our manuscripts full of surprises and plot twists.

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Speaking of mental challenges, how many cats are in the picture above? Just one? Look closer! Cats are great at hiding–just like our character motivations, or the solution to the plot hole you’ve dug yourself into. Odds are, the answer is in plain sight. We just need to look again in a different way.

Finally, cats are wonderful at helping you celebrate your big moments. Like when I got my ARCs in the mail last November, Darwin helped me inspect the box to make sure it wasn’t going to come alive and kill us all, and Galileo helped me by modeling for a photo-shoot. Thanks, guys! You made this milestone even more special.

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So have I convinced you to get a cat yet? Maybe not. But all us cool authors have them, so if you think you have a good home for a feline companion, talk to your local shelters and take your next step on the road to becoming a professional author!


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for August 1st, 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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The Terrible Twos …Book 2, that is.

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What does it mean when a debut author talks about writing “Book 2”? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that the author is writing their second story ever. In actuality, most people’s Book 2s are their fifth, tenth, or twentieth full novels. For me, it’s my thirteenth. I think. I have sort of lost track by this point.

When an author says they are working on Book 2, they usually mean they’re working on the next manuscript that they plan on publishing. In my case, I have a two book deal with my publisher, so my Book 2 fulfills this second novel of that deal.

It’s intimidating to write a Book 2! Struggling with Book 2 is something that seems to unite all debut authors, more than any other stress of the “new author” process.

It may be because it’s what we’re writing while in the middle of editing our debuts, or in the middle of learning how to do all the other things associated with debuting (*cough*marketing*cough*). It may be because it’s the first new words we have written since our ability as a writer was finally validated–and with first drafts always being terrible, we feel like fakes and failures just looking at our feeble attempts at a new story. It may be because we’re on faster timelines to produce material than we are used to being on. And it definitely may be because the pressure to perform is now on like it never had been before.

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Whatever the reason, Book 2 SUCKS. It SUCKS, man. S.U.C.K.S.

The good news is that most of this is in our minds. The better news is, it doesn’t always suck.

I just finished my first truly solid draft of my Book 2. And guess what? I like it.

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I spent months crafting it, hating almost every second. But now that I’ve shaped it into something resembling a proper novel? It’s not so bad. It’s actually pretty good. Well, I think it is. (I’m sure my opinion will change in a week or two, so I’m soaking in these positive feelings while I can!)

The point of this post is to give hope to debut authors who are in the throes of drafting that dreaded Book 2. First, you are not alone. Second, you are doing a good job. Really. Your Book 2 is wonderful, even if you can’t see that for yourself just yet.

You got this! We got this! Go, go, go!


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Words.

Words matter.

Words can sway opinions. Words can spark emotions. Words can grant permission–and take it away. Words can chain someone down or raise them up.

Words matter.

As children’s authors, we are the keeper of words for the next generation. We are all part of the education industry and the entertainment industry. We are media.

Our words matter.

History is being written right now because of the power of words. And what a mighty power they wield. It is easy to forget, and easy to ignore, until it isn’t.

I didn’t know at first how I was going to write this blog post. My original post I’d drafted I decided to save for another time. Once Tuesday’s events happened, I knew I would need to have different, better words for today.

And here they are.

Courage.

Kindness.

Empathy.

Love.

Bravery.

Heart.

Small.

Big.

Teacher.

Student.

Voice.

Pride.

Strength.

Compassion.

Together.

Forward.


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

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The launch week for Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP continues! Between roughly 1898-1906, around two million people signed the original Jim Key Pledge of Kindness towards animals, which you can read the introduction of above. Most of the signatures were from kids! Today, our EMUs share personal moments of kindness towards animals. Be sure to read all the way to the end to check out Donna Janell Bowman’s revised Pledge of Kindness! And also, of course, for a chance to win a copy of her debut!

Little Jason Wanted to Rescue a Dog

I was a persistent little thing when I was a kid. When my family decided to move out of the big city of Spokane, Washington, to the small town of Deer Park, WA, I was convinced we needed another dog to go with all the extra acreage. My parents were pretty neutral about the idea, so I said, “Why don’t we just go to the shelter and *look* at dogs. We don’t have to get one.” In my mind, however, I was thinking, “I’m not walking out of that shelter without a dog,” which in hindsight I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad knew. I walked through the front door of that shelter, pointed at the first dog I saw, and said, “I want that one.” I don’t even think I fully saw what the cute canine was, I just really, REALLY wanted a new puppy. I’m so glad the first dog I saw was Shilo. She was the sweetest border collie/black lab mix with a heart of gold and a tail that could do more damage than a baseball bat. Like, Carrie Underwood should have trashed that truck in the music video of “Before He Cheats” with Shilo’s tail. – Jason Gallaher

Hayley’s Sister Spent the Night in a Kennel

My look-a-like sister spent 24 hrs. in a kennel recently to raise money for Cape Ann Animal Aid. There’s a picture too! – Hayley Barrett

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Terry found an unexpected friend at the beach!

My problem is figuring out which rescue animal to choose from. All but one of our pets are rescue animals, but the one that truly needed rescuing because she was homeless was our 14543720_10210872113177661_6213554251607200980_odog, Rin. We had driven to a favorite windsurfing site for a week of vacation. After we’d parked, we opened the door, and a dog jumped in our van, right on my 6-year old son’s lap! We asked around trying to find the owner. Finally, one of the local windsurfers told us that the week before, he saw someone drive up, open their door and kick the dog out; then drove away. I was so angry at their cruelty! But it was soon tempered by the kindness of the local windsurfers, who had been taking care of her, trading off “dog duty” until they could find someone to adopt her. In that week, she and my son were inseparable. She was sweet, smart, loyal and affectionate, and I still can’t figure out why anyone would have abandoned her like that, or how they could be so cruel to just dump a her. But Rin soon became a member of our family and we loved her until she passed away at age 17 (the vet estimated she was a year old when she came into our lives).

After Rin passed away, we adopted two cats from a rescue center, one of which has vision problems and allergy issues…he soon became my “co-author” cat! (See, I could go on and on…). – Terry Pierce

Debbi rescues raptors!

When I was in college (a long time ago), I spent 3 years volunteering at a raptor rehabilitation center. I helped care for injured and orphaned owls, hawks, vultures, and eagles. I did education programs visiting area schools and organizations with (unreleasable) raptors. It was especially rewarding to release rehabilitated raptors back into the wild. That was many years ago. But three years ago, after we moved to Connecticut, I was sitting in my writing studio that overlooks a pond, and saw an osprey in the water! I was so excited! I ran to get my camera, hoping she wouldn’t fly away. She hadn’t. I snapped photo after photo. After awhile though, I wondered why she hadn’t flown away and waIMG_0353sn’t moving at all. I realized belatedly that she was in distress. The pond is mucky and I didn’t have waders so I asked the guy mowing our lawn for help (he had waders). We got the osprey out of the pond and into a carrier and I took her to the nearby rescue center. Turned out she was fine, just waterlogged. After rest and hydration, she was released and she flew away. YAY! – Debbi Michiko Florence

Katie became a Mouse Mom!

In my late teens, I worked at a zoo and one day came in to find a surprise. My coworkers had found a stranded baby mouse in the pony yard the day before. Clearly one of the barn mice mothers had lost a kiddo! It barely had fur, its eyes and ears were shut, and I was pretty sure it was dead when they showed it to me. They’d left it overnight already in a box with no warmth, no milk, nothing. But for whatever reason, they were sure I would be the one to bring it back to life. My coworkers begged me to take charge of it.

cheezitmeasureSince it wasn’t dead yet, I felt I had to at least try. I spent all day holding it, trying to warm it up, and trying to get it to drink at least a lick of milk. At the end of the day, I was about to give up and sadly place the mouse in the bushes to let nature take its course. But just then–a tiny pink tongue stuck out and took a small sip of the milk I’d been offering it. It was alive after all! And in a single moment, my heart was stolen.

We named him Cheezit because the box he was originally kept in, and after research told me he wouldn’t survive in the wild if I released him as an adult, he became my little buddy for nearly four years. Video here. – Katie Slivensky


Being kind to animals is something everyone is capable of. Doc Key knew this, and created his pledge to encourage others to embrace kindness over cruelty. Here is Donna’s updated and more inclusive version of the pledge. Soon, it will be downloadable, with original art, from Donna’s website.  Let’s make this a thing again, friends!

The Jim Key Pledge of Kindness

I promise to step right up and choose kindness.

I will respect the needs and feelings of others, including

furry, feathered, and finned friends.

I will share kind words, do good deeds, and help those in need—

because kindness can change the world. 

X___________

 Kindness, kindness, and more kindness—that’s the way.”

                           –William “Doc” Key

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You can grab your own copy of Donna Janell Bowman’s STEP RIGHT UP on October 15 at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Donna is also giving away a signed copy of her book! All you have to do is comment on any of the posts celebrating Donna’s launch this week, and a winner will be randomly selected.

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“I Don’t Know.”

When you land that book deal, it’s tempting to think that you’ve got the writing business figured out. But as soon as people begin asking you questions, you realize…

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(Confession: I’ve never read nor watched Game of Thrones, but I’m a meme addict, so there you go.)

The conversation usually goes something like this:

“Wow! You have a book deal? That’s so cool! When can I buy it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, what’s the cover look like so I’ll know it when I see it?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s the title?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s it about?”

“I DON’T KNOW!”

Okay, as the author, you should probably know the answer to that last one. Though I won’t fault you for saying, “I don’t know” to that question, either. (I’ve done it.)

Eventually, you do start collecting answers to these questions. But the process is long, and the people in your life probably have no concept of how the publishing business works. It was half a year after my deal announcement before I had a title for my book (it was changed from its original). It was another six months later that I found out what the cover will look like (though I still can’t share it with anyone). As to when my book comes out…

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Next summer? At some point?

The thing is, this is normal. It’s normal to not have all the answers–or any of the answers!–as you head down a new road. Well-meaning friends will ask you all sorts of things you can’t answer, and you just have to live with that fact. It’s part of the journey. And what a journey to be on! I don’t think anyone would trade it for anything.

“When will it be on Amazon pre-order?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will you do a book tour?”

“I don’t know.”

“How long will your edits take?”

“I don’t know.”

“Will I ever see you again?”

*sticks head out of revision cave for a moment, squints in the sunlight* “…I don’t know.”

If this sounds obnoxious, don’t worry. Every now and again, you’ll get a question that you do know the answer to.

“So, are you going to quit your day job and buy a mansion in the countryside?”

“Hahaha, NO!”


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Create.

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A lot of bad stuff has been happening in the world. There’s no getting around that. And when the world is tearing people down, it can be hard to find the strength to build back up.

But as authors, that’s what we do. We build. We create.

We create places and people and relationships and ideas and adventures for others to enjoy. We broaden people’s horizons, and take them to places they’ve never been. We make them fall in love, experience fear, feel rage, and sometimes even cry, just from our words. And when the world isn’t safe, we provide a space for people–for children–to go and express themselves. A place to escape. A place to process emotions. A place where hearts and minds can be filled with something different.

That’s so powerful.

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Dwelling on all the bad 24/7 is no good to anyone.

I decided to write this post because I realized that the best way I’ve personally found to cope with all the horrific news we’ve had lately is to burrow into fiction. The books and shows I’m reading and watching act as my friends–friends who aren’t going to talk about the latest mass shooting, bombing, murder, or election cycle. We all need an escape at times, to keep ourselves balanced and healthy.

And as I was thinking about this coping method the other day, a thought struck me. I create fiction. People may be using my words to escape and bring some light into their lives. Whoa!

So during these times of darkness, destruction, and loss, as debut authors, I urge us all to continue to create. Create! Write, dream, build someplace for readers to go, and invent characters for readers to love. It’s our superpower. Now is a really good time to use it.


Katie Headshot.jpgKatie Slivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Stepping Back

Sometimes, you’re just too close to your project.

Sometimes, you are your own worst stumbling block.

Sometimes, you just gotta step back.

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…And sometimes, stepping back just happens TO you, whether you’d like it to or not.

I’ve spent the last two weeks not writing. Not revising. Not even scribbling out notes. Now, this hasn’t been by choice–life has been busy! I haven’t had any time to sit and work on my Book 2. And while this had been stressing me out beyond belief, it turns out it’s actually been a blessing in disguise.

Without the pressures of a blank page in front of me, I have had time to think. Both consciously and subconsciously. I’ve taken all the tidbits I had rattling around in my head, and merged them into nuggets of pure creative gold. Thanks to this forced break, I now know not just what my main character’s biggest passion is (something I’ve two dimensionally known for ages), but how she acts on it and applies it in the real world. I also know the backstory on my antagonists–where they align with one another and where they definitively do not. And there’s so much more. I know which characters need to show up when. I know at what point I can throw in the twists I have planned. I know when I need to bring in tension, and when to bring in conflict.

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I had time to sit down and work on writing today for the first time in two weeks. I chose to spend that time with blank scrap paper, rewriting my outline chapter by chapter. When I was done, I read it over, and sat back, amazed.

I have what (at least on scrap paper) sounds like…a book.

This means tossing out the draft I’d been working on up until now, but it also means the next draft is likely going to kick serious butt. I will take it. Yes!

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Feeling stuck or overwhelmed? Take some time off. Step away. Breathe. And watch what happens. You might surprise yourself.


Katie Slkatiemarsivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program.  She lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin, and is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or at her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

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Nervouscited!

I’m about to turn in my final manuscript to my editor so we can go off to copy-edits. Which means this is it. This is the last time I can make significant changes. After this point, my book is pretty much done.

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…WHAT?!?!

Okay, so I thought I’d already come to terms with the fact that I’m going to be published, and therefore people (real people–people I don’t know and who aren’t in the industry) are going to read my words.

I was wrong.

PEOPLE ARE GOING TO READ MY BOOK, YOU GUYS! This is happening!

There is only one way to describe how I feel, and it’s best summed up by Pinkie Pie. (Yes, I use a lot of My Little Pony references in my blog posts. This is how my brain works, if you haven’t yet noticed.)

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I’m nervouscited.

As Pinkie Pie explains, “It’s like you want to jump up and down and yell YAY ME! But you also want to curl up in a teeny tiny ball and hide at the same time.”

I’ve tried to think up other things in my life–more normal things–to compare this moment to, in order to help my friends and family understand what exactly is going through my mind right now. But I can’t. There’s just nothing like it.

In a matter of days, a book I’ve worked on for four years is going to go off to be finalized, and I won’t be able to play with its pieces any longer. All I’ll be able to do is maybe make a few last tweaks to wording. All the major stuff is in its final form.

And people are going to read it.

Yes, nervouscited is the right word for me right now. It probably will remain the right word up until when my book launches next year. Probably past that, too. Maybe forever? Maybe this is what it feels like to be an author?

Excuse me, I think I need to find some chocolate.


Katie Slkatiemarsivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. With an academic background in paleontology and zoology, she only began dabbling in astronomy when she joined the Museum in 2009. It soon became a major passion, and spilled straight over into her writing life.

Katie lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or at her website, www.katieslivensky.com.

 

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Work/Work/Life Balance

While on the phone with my sister the other day, I listed off all the writing-related things I need to get done this month and next.

“So you basically have two full time jobs right now, huh?” was her response.

I laughed. But in reality…yes. Yes I do.

I’ve had two jobs for a while now. I’d say since around 2010, when I joined my critique group and began putting in 15-20 hours a week towards publishing-related efforts. Now that I’m on my way to being published, the responsibilities, deadlines, and time commitments have greatly increased. Additionally, after many years of putting in the time, I’m starting to get paid for my writing work. Writing at this point is most definitely, by anyone’s definition, a job.

Which is pretty cool.

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But like many writers, I have another job. The “Day Job”. The one that takes up the vast majority of my time Monday-Friday. I enjoy this job and have no plans to abandon it, even if it was financially feasible to do so (which, for the record, it would not be). However, this does leave me in an odd position. How can a person achieve a work/life balance when their “life” side is taken up by more work?

I wish this blog post could provide an easy answer for anyone reading it, but in reality, there is no simple solution.

The best I can say is what I’ve managed to figure out thus far:

  1. You need to make time to relax. If you don’t, you end up hurting yourself. (See my first EMU post, where I talk about my 2015 bought of pneumonia.) Identify something that makes you smile and relieves tension, and make sure to include it in your day, every day, as much as you can. Is it a good book? A TV show? Games with friends or family? Long walks with your dog? Whatever it is, don’t let that part of your life go when you get busy. It’s necessary!
  2. Learn to compartmentalize tasks. You can’t get a revision done when worrying about a grant you’re writing at your day job, and vice versa. This is particularly challenging for me. Shifting my focus takes a lot of effort, and a lot of coffee.
  3. Forgive yourself for not being able to do it all. You can’t! You’re leading essentially two lives, two careers. Learn to say no and not feel guilty for it. You aren’t turning down work and tasks because you’re lazy. You’re doing so because you’re already booked up. There is a HUGE difference. Donna Janell Bowman had a great post related to this a few weeks ago.
  4. Be honest with friends and family. There are people you love who, frankly, aren’t going to see you as much as you or they would like. This is the cost of juggling two careers. But if you’re honest, feelings won’t be hurt so much, and those who are close to you should understand how important this all is to you.

I would give further advice, but honestly, I’m still figuring it out myself! Perfecting the work/work/life balance is going to require more experimentation and practice, that’s for sure. Perhaps I’ll report back in a year with an update on this topic. Oh–one final thing that definitely helps is to identify people to lean on for emotional support. For me, that’s my parents, sister, friends, and my amazing critique group. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

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Here’s to everyone who is balancing two careers, writing and otherwise. Here’s to everyone who’s balancing writing with raising kids. Here’s to everyone who’s balancing multiple careers AND kids. Let’s face it. We’re all exhausted. It’s okay to talk about that. The more we do, the more solutions we can come up with to better factor in the “life” side of our personal, incredibly busy equations.


 

Katie Slkatiemarsivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. With an academic background in paleontology and zoology, she only began dabbling in astronomy when she joined the Museum in 2009. It soon became a major passion, and spilled straight over into her writing life.

Katie lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her personal blog, Discoverific.

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What’s in a Title?

In the spirit of this blog unveiling the mysteries between getting a deal and hitting the shelves, I’ve decided to talk about my journey of landing on a title for my debut MG novel.

Like many authors, I was asked to change my original title. Which, luckily enough for me, was a request that didn’t actually crush my soul. My original title for this story was always just a placeholder in my mind. I wasn’t that attached.

My novel was written with the title DESTINED FOR MARS, which is the name of the training program my main character, Miranda, is in. Miranda’s been chosen for the first ever mission to Mars, along with five other international cadets. However, as my editor pointethe-martian-600_mkt_0950_sharp-1047CC_rgbd out, the book isn’t really about exploring Mars. It’s about the unfolding sinister plot that threatens the lives of the cadets during their first few months of astronaut training. Therefore, DESTINED FOR MARS might be misleading–it could imply the book takes place on Mars!

I’d hate to disappoint a reader. I immediately agreed a title change was in order.

My editor asked me for alternative ideas. Ideally something that would convey the excitement of the story.

“Sure!” I said. “Can do!”

Hah.

…Right.

batman thinksAs it turned out, thinking of something that sounded exciting but not cheesy was almost impossible. A bunch of ideas were thrown around, each more cringe-worthy than the next. I lost count of how many emails my editor and I exchanged. My book is upper middle grade, which meant overly gimmicky titles were out the window, but overly poetic titles wouldn’t work, either. We also had to avoid a title that would include spoilers for the book itself. Once you read it, (as I’m sure all of you lovely people will someday, right?) you’ll see how easy it would be to give it a super cool title that would simultaneously completely spoil the plot.

Months passed. MONTHS. When people would find out I was being published, they’d always ask what the book title was, and I had to keep coming back with, “Uh…it doesn’t have one yet.” Yep. Awkward.

It was destroying me that I had no name for my book. Especially when I was in the revision process and had nothing to put on the top of the manuscript!

…Then, one day, I changed how I thought about my title. My title needed to be catchy, sure, but most importantly, it had to be honest as to what the book was about. DESTINED FOR MARS was thrown out because it was misleading…so…

What was my book really about?suddenrealizationbert

Easy. It was about a sinister plot. But I couldn’t call my book, THE STORY ABOUT A PLOT. So off to thesaurus.com I went, and immediately hit upon the word “conspiracy”.

Ooooooh.

That sounded pretty cool! But I need to get more specific. I had to have something that could imply that this conspiracy had to do with space and astronaut training.

Then I remember my dad’s title suggestion: THE COUNTDOWN TO CHAOS. (My incredibly supportive parents had many, many suggestions, as I’m sure some of you in similar positions can imagine.)

Countdown.

Conspiracy.

That…that’s my book. That’s it!

So I sent the idea to my editor, along with a few others I liked, and she took it to her sales and marketing team while I waited and tried not to melt from nerves. A meeting later (and six months after getting the deal), it was settled!

DESTINED FOR MARS became THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY.

Totally. Awesome.

missionaccomplished

 

And that, blog readers, is at least one way a book can change titles and have all parties involved be happy about it! It can be done!

 


Katie Slkatiemarsivensky’s debut novel (THE COUNTDOWN CONSPIRACY) tells the story of a 13 year-old robotics whiz who is thrilled to be chosen to train for an international mission to Mars, but soon finds herself and her fellow cadets in a situation far more dire and deadly than any of them could have imagined. Publication is set for Summer 2017 with HarperCollins Children’s.

Katie is a science educator at the Museum of Science in Boston, where she coordinates school visits, does live presentations, and runs the rooftop observatory program. With an academic background in paleontology and zoology, she only began dabbling in astronomy when she joined the Museum in 2009. It soon became a major passion, and spilled straight over into her writing life.

Katie lives in a suburb of Boston with her two completely absurd cats, Galileo and Darwin. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Visit Katie on Twitter (@paleopaws) or on her personal blog, Discoverific.

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