How It Feels to Fly

It's the NYC Teen Author Festival!

Welcome to one of my favorite weeks of the year: the NYC Teen Author Festival! Every March, a ton of YA authors from all over the country come together to celebrate our books and talk about things that are important to our readers—and this year, it's the festival's 10th anniversary, which makes it extra special. I've been going to these events since I was in graduate school, aka several years before I was published. The fact that what was once inspiration and aspiration is now part of my professional life makes NYCTAF all the more sweet. 

I will admit, I haven't been as active this week as I have in years past. Pregnancy and a busy schedule have slowed me down a bit. But! Yesterday, I had my first formal event, as part of the annual Big Read. Groups of authors go to schools and libraries all over the city to read from their work and talk to students. My team was sent to Murry Bergtraum High School, which is in lower Manhattan. We spent an hour presenting our books and answering questions from a few different high school English classes—and the kids were fantastic! They listened attentively and had great questions. A few came up to talk to us afterward, and I ended up giving away my author copy of HOW IT FEELS TO FLY to a sophomore who said she'd enjoyed the excerpt I read. Fingers crossed she enjoys the whole book! 

Our Big Read team went out to lunch after leaving the high school. From l-r: Michael Northrop, me, J.J. Howard, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Tara Crowl. (Not pictured, but also on our team: Sara Mlynowski.)

Our Big Read team went out to lunch after leaving the high school. From l-r: Michael Northrop, me, J.J. Howard, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Tara Crowl. (Not pictured, but also on our team: Sara Mlynowski.)

Tomorrow, I'll be paneling at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Manhattan—yes, that's the one with the stone lions. The entire afternoon is filled with author panels; come from 1-5pm to catch them all! I'm on at 4:10, and my group will be sharing snippets from our childhood/teen writings as well as our newest publications, to show how far we've come. 

Then, on Sunday, I'll be at the festival's mega-signing at Books of Wonder! You can catch me from 1-1:30pm, but authors will be at the bookstore until 4pm. 

Check out the full NYCTAF schedule HERE! And if you end up coming to one of the events, please say hello! 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: The Returned-From-Awesome-Travels Edition

I'm back at my desk today after nine days away, and it's so nice to be sitting here with my coffee and my manuscript and my usual to-do list. Don't get me wrong—the time away was fantastic! But nine days on the road is a lot. For today's Friday Five, I thought I'd give a little recap of my travels, because as I said, it's been a blast. 

1) Last Wednesday, my husband and I flew to North Carolina to meet his family at the Outer Banks. It's our third year renting a beach house there, and this year was by far the most relaxing. I sat on the beach and jumped around in the waves and got some reading done and tanned a tiny, tiny bit...and even got in a couple hours of revision, with a nice view. When I was younger, beach vacations weren't my favorite. Now, I love the sand between my toes and the sound of the waves. (I've also learned how to sunscreen for optimal protection, making it less likely I'll end up as a lobster...) Plus, spending time with family is always a good thing! 

2) Duck Donuts, y'all. One of my favorite things about heading to the Outer Banks is this (now not-so-local) donut chain. They make them fresh on demand, literally churning out warm cakes and topping them with your choice of glazes and extras. While I am normally a chocolate person, at Duck Donuts I am addicted to their maple-bacon option. Seriously. To die for. 

3) After leaving the beach, my husband and I drove to Raleigh, where we enjoyed a relaxing day and a half before he had to head back to NYC. We ate some amazing food (if you're in the area, don't miss Angus Barn and Relish Cafe & Bar) and—hope he's not mad at me for sharing this—even got side-by-side pedicures. 

4) I continued solo to Asheville, where I had my first of two book events! I was lucky to get to panel with Jaye Robin Brown, Lauren Gibaldi, Ashley Herring Blake, and Amy Reed at Malaprop's, a beloved independent bookstore downtown, and the event went great. We were celebrating the release of Jaye's second book, GEORGIA PEACHES & OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, which I can't wait to read! 

5) Our second panel was in Greenville, South Carolina, at Fiction Addiction—and it was extra fun because the audience included several fellow YA authors. Afterward, a bunch of us went out for Mexican food—and plenty of publishing gossip. Get a bunch of writers together and we'll book-talk for ages... Oh, and I have to give a shout-out to Lauren Gibaldi, for being an excellent travel buddy. We had so much fun exploring Asheville and Greenville together. :) 

What's been going on in your world? Can you believe it's already September?!?!

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: Book Events, Book Events, Book Events!

Two weeks ago, I was having a hard time coming up with a consistent Friday Five when there was so much ugliness and fear in the world. And today, I'm writing after a period of multiple new shootings, as well as a terrorist attack in Nice, France. It's really overwhelming. But that doesn't mean there haven't been good things happening, as well. So in the spirit of focusing on the positive, here's this week's Friday Five: 

1) I've had some really great book events for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY so far in July! On July 6, I paneled at the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan, along with a bunch of other authors with new YA releases. And this past Tuesday, July 12, I had the privilege of participating in a panel that was all YA books featuring dancers—aka, right in my wheelhouse. Both events had wonderful discussions and attentive audiences, which is really all a writer can ask for. (I mean, that and selling some books...which I did. Yay!)

2) Tomorrow (July 16), I'm doing the first hometown event for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY! I'm so excited about this one. I've teamed up with fellow author Brooks Benjamin (MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS) and my hometown dance studio, Van Metre School of Dance in Maryville, TN, for a fun dance/book extravaganza. There will be book signings, dance performances, and more. I really hope some people—especially young dancers—show up!  

3) I did a forearm stand in yoga class on Wednesday. This is a pose I've only done successfully once or twice before—and that was several years ago. So I'm thrilled to think maybe I'm getting some of my old skills back! 

4) I've been rewatching the TV show Farscape (aired in the early 2000s, when I was in college), and I've reached season 3...which is all about the 'ship. I mean, other stuff happens, but...John/Aeryn truly happens, and it's amazing and swoony and heartbreaking. I can't wait to be emotionally compromised all over again. 

5) I'm currently reading (and loving) Victoria Schwab's newest YA novel, THIS SAVAGE SONG. What are you reading right now? Anything I should check out? 

Until next week! 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: What a Long, Strange Week (Couple of Weeks...) It's Been

It can feel strange to celebrate anything personal when there's bad or scary news all over the world. But maybe when things feel uncertain or crazy, that's actually a good time to celebrate small victories and joys. So here's my Friday Five, encompassing the past two weeks! 

1) Yeah, so...my book came out! HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is officially on shelves, and I couldn't be happier. It seems to be finding readers and getting a generally positive response—and hopefully the momentum will only build from here. Also, this past Tuesday I had my launch party at Books of Wonder, alongside authors Caela Carter (Tumbling) and Jennifer Castle (What Happens Now), and it went so well. We had a great panel conversation—here we are chatting about our books and our writing process. Can't wait to do more of these events and meet more readers. 

2) My wonderful sister was here to celebrate the book launch with me! It's always a pleasure to have her visit and catch up on sister-bonding time. Love you, Mary-Owen! :) 

3) I love seeing friends I don't see that often, and I love meeting their adorable babies, and in the past week I got to do both: first at a Prospect Park meetup with my grad school crew (two of whom now have baby girls) and then at my Books of Wonder party. (Not to mention all the book-world friends I've gotten to hang with at the other panels and events I've attended recently—June has been such a packed book month!) 

4) On Saturday night, my husband, sister, and I went to the Broadway musical Waitress, which is based on the 2007 movie of the same name. The show was so lovely, and I can't stop singing/humming the songs. Two thumbs way up! 

5) Last week I read my grad school friend Mia Garcia's debut YA novel, EVEN IF THE SKY FALLS, and I just loved it. It's a 24-hour whirlwind romance set in New Orleans during midsummer Mardi Gras, with a hurricane on the horizon. But it's not all about the swoons (of which there are many!). Protagonist Julie is in New Orleans on a Habitat for Humanity–style youth group trip, hoping to take a break from the mess of her life back home. When she ditches her group and heads off into the city by herself, she meets Miles, a charismatic musician with family/home life problems of his own. They agree not to share real names or baggage and embark on one of the most charming not-really-a-date first dates I've read in a while. This book made me smile, but it also had moments that were really wrenching and real. More Mia books, please! 

What are you happy about this week? 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: It's the Final Countdown!

Okay, loyal blog readers: this is it. HOW IT FEELS TO FLY comes out in four days! 

How am I supposed to focus on anything else?? Nonetheless, I'll try to come up with a Friday Five that isn't all about me, me, me... ;) 

1) I've read some really great books lately. On Saturday, I blazed through Caela Carter's new YA, TUMBLING. It takes place during the Olympic gymnastics trials, and follows five girls whose fate will be sealed by two days of intense competition. Grace wants to be the perfect gymnast, but she always seems to come in second to her friend Leigh—whose parents push her to have a life that doesn't revolve around gymnastics. Wilhelmina wants a come-from-behind win, while Camille wants to walk away but fears disappointing everyone who's invested in her. And Monica is the girl no one notices—until she starts having the meet of her life. This book has so much power and emotion. If you're a sports fan, you'll love this story. But it's also for anyone who's a fan of girls dreaming big and kicking butt. (I can't wait to talk more about TUMBLING and the themes it shares with HOW IT FEELS TO FLY at my, Caela's, and Jennifer Castle's shared book launch on June 21 at Books of Wonder!) 

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2) Another spectacular recent read: Neal Shusterman's CHALLENGER DEEP. It's no surprise that this book won last year's National Book Award for Young People's Literature—it's a gripping, raw, beautiful, and harrowing depiction of a teenager's descent into mental illness. Caden Bosch is a sophomore when his mind starts to fill with strange thoughts and beliefs that eventually take over. These early chapters are interspersed with Caden as a crew member on a ship traveling to Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench, the deepest place on earth. As Caden's reality slips further and further away, the sea journey becomes more and more interwoven with his struggle. I don't want to spoil how it all fits together, but I will say that it's stunningly done. To read CHALLENGER DEEP is to get a tiny taste of the havoc schizophrenia wreaks on the mind. I was blown away. 

3) I'm almost at the halfway point of my current manuscript revision! Onward and upward. 

4) Hm. Had some really good ice cream this week. Thanks, Blue Marble!

5) HOW IT FEELS TO FLY comes out on Tuesday! Have you preordered? (If so, don't forget to fill out THIS FORM in order to claim your preorder prize!) Are you coming to see me at one of my upcoming EVENTS? Are you available to give me a hug and calm me down? I'd be so very grateful... :) 

What's new with you? 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: Holy Heat Wave, Batman!

Well—summer is here! We went from a chilly and gray mid-May to 80+ degrees the past couple days. I'm not complaining too much, except that, well, our apartment is a sauna. Time to put in those window air conditioners... 

Here's the Friday Five: 

1) Another positive review for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY! This one's from Booklist: "Holmes’ look at anxiety feels wonderfully authentic, and readers will recognize, and sympathize with, the pressure Sam feels from family and friends. Filtering these issues through the lens of an athletic endeavor gives this added appeal." Yay! 

2) I finally feel like I'm hitting my stride with the revision of my next YA manuscript! It took me a while to find my way in, which definitely sometimes happens but was pretty discouraging. Hopefully it will be smooth(ish) sailing from here on out, no matter how long it takes.

3) Three-day weekend! Not only that—a three-day weekend with nice weather! Granted, as a freelancer, taking Monday off is my own choice rather than a luxury, but...three-day weekend!

4) I think all of our shows (aside from Game of Thrones and Orphan Black) ended this week. While this season of Arrow wasn't my favorite, I thought The Flash went out strong—and I'm especially excited to see where that ending twist takes season 3. Thoughts? 

5) Related to the above comment on the heat wave—I have just found perhaps the only cool spot in the apartment (sitting on the floor next to an open window), and I plan to stay here for some time. Hopefully it's conducive to some amazing writing/revising! 

How was your week?

~Kathryn  

Friday Five: I Think I'm Getting a Cold Edition

I think I'm getting a cold. I really, really don't want to be sick. But oh, the sinus headache...

Let's talk about good things, instead! 

1) I really enjoyed last weekend's production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. Gillian Anderson was amazing, but so was the rest of the cast. The staging was so innovative—the set rotated and seating was in the round, which meant that our view of things was constantly changing. Geek-out moment: after the show, my friend and I were able to wave at Gillian in her Uber by the stage door, and she totally waved back. 

2) I'm slowly but surely making my way into my current book revision. It's detailed character work rather than plot work, which takes longer—and consequently feels like you've accomplished less at the end of each writing session than when you can say "I wrote 1000 new words!" or whatever. But I will crack these characters! I will! 

3) We finally had nice weather again this week. On Wednesday, I walked to and from my new yoga studio (~20 minutes one way), and it was really lovely to be outside in the middle of the day. Sun shining, but not too hot. Birds chirping. Trees and flowers in bloom. The walk really put me in the yoga mindset. Plus, walking is great for thinking about the above revision problems! 

4) Agents of SHIELD got really good this season, huh. Tuesday's season finale was awesome! 

5) My preorder giveaway is up and running! If you've preordered HOW IT FEELS TO FLY or plan to do so before June 13, and you want some exclusive book-themed goodies, go HERE to sign up. Your swag will go in the mail as soon as the book hits shelves! 

That's all for now. I've got writing to do... 

Have a great weekend! 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: My Books Arrived, My Books Arrived!

Yesterday, I received the first finished hardcovers for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, as well as finished paperback editions of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND. I'm still floating from seeing my books all lined up for their Instagram photo. So that seems like a good place to start! 

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1) There really is nothing like holding the finished product of a thing you worked so, so hard on for so, so long. I had to feel the finish on the jacket, and then check out the naked spine, and flip through the pages.... And then I found one of my absolute favorite bits: the page where it says "Also by Kathryn Holmes: The Distance Between Lost and Found." (Meanwhile, inside the DISTANCE paperback: "Also by Kathryn Holmes: How It Feels to Fly.") I am officially a two-book author! Ahhh! 

(NB: HOW IT FEELS TO FLY still comes out June 14. This is just an early copy from the printer!)

2) Last night, I got to attend the debut launch party for one of my New School MFA friends, Mia Garcia. Her book, EVEN IF THE SKY FALLS, came out on Tuesday, and I can't wait to read it! It's a YA romance set in New Orleans, and the action takes place in 24 hours...with a big storm on the horizon. Congratulations, Mia! 

3) Do you like YA thrillers? You'll love Amanda Panitch's second book, NEVER MISSING, NEVER FOUND, which releases in late June. I got to read an ARC this week, and it kept me up far too late on Tuesday night. I couldn't stop turning pages until I found out how it ended! The book is about Scarlett, who was kidnapped and held hostage for several years as a child before escaping. Now a teen, she just wants a normal life and a normal summer job. But when one of her new amusement park coworkers reminds her a bit too much of the girl she was held captive with all those years ago, the past threatens to swallow Scarlett all over again. Plus, another park employee has gone missing. Is it all connected? This book is fast-paced and twisty, and I loved it. You will too. 

4) Y'all, y'all, y'all: tomorrow (tomorrow!) I get to see Gillian Anderson in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. I am SO EXCITED. 

5) I managed to make a particularly good pot of coffee this morning. Sometimes, it's the little things. *sips* 

What's good with you this week? 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: Catching Up After a Few Weeks Off...

You may have noticed there was no Friday Five last week—and no Friday Five the week before that. Mea culpa! Real Life kicked me in the pants. Plus, my husband and I managed to visit both of our families in a 10-day span. That part wasn't so bad. In fact, it leads me right into...

Justin took this picture of me with nephews #3, #4, and #5 piled on my lap! All the snuggles. *heart-eyes*

Justin took this picture of me with nephews #3, #4, and #5 piled on my lap! All the snuggles. *heart-eyes*

1) Family time. We have five *adorable* nephews, two on his side of the family and three on mine, and it was a pleasure to see them all over the last two weeks! (The almost-nine-year-old would probably bristle at being called "adorable" on the Internet, but so be it.) Justin and I got to be super-uncle and super-aunt. We took the almost-six-year-old to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport. We (along with my sister, the other super-aunt) shuttled the three-year-old and the almost-two-year-old to a fast-food playspace for lunch and running around, when my sister-in-law needed them out of the house. We played catch and pushed rope swings and watched various guys play on various mobile devices. It was a blast. 

2) When Real Life cuts in and I don't have time to write for a while, I always come back to it intimidated. I feel like maybe I'll have forgotten how to make stories. This is silly, I know. But nonetheless, it was a huge relief to sit down yesterday morning and write a tentative new first chapter for the magical Middle-Grade I'm starting to rewrite. Maybe I haven't forgotten, after all.

3) I've got a few events officially planned to promote HOW IT FEELS TO FLY this summer! Keep an eye on my EVENTS page for more details... 

4) Speaking of HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, there's been some great news on that front. First, I just found out that the book has sold to a French publisher, Hugo & CIE, who will translate it and produce a French edition (sometime within the next 18 months or so). Magnifique! Also, the first reviews are trickling in, and they're positive, which is such a relief. School Library Journal said FLY is "An empowering story for middle and high school readers searching for acceptance from themselves as well as others" and recommended it for summer reading. Yay! 

5) Captain America: Civil War tonight! #TeamCap

What's new with you? 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: Friends and Rereads...and a Manuscript Milestone

It's time once again for the Friday Five! 

1) It's been Reread Week for me. I powered through two YA favorites, Jandy Nelson's THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE and Heather Demetrios's I'LL MEET YOU THERE, before picking up THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I devour new-to-me stories, but there's something so lovely about returning to a book you've read before and *know* will do exactly what you need it to do in the moment you pick it up. 

2) On Wednesday, I got to catch up with two friends I haven't seen in far too long. One had a baby five months ago (and so I got some baby snuggles as well!) and the other opened her own dance studio a year ago and has been swallowed up by that. I'm so glad we found time to hang out. Sometimes, it's all about making time—especially when, like me, you're the one that *doesn't* have the amazing excuse for being a recluse...

3) Yesterday, I got to the end of the current draft of my new manuscript! Since finishing the (admittedly abridged) first draft in January, I've added about 28,000 words, reorganized the whole middle, straightened out the emotional arc a bit... Yes, there's still quite a ways to go before it's anything resembling goodbut finishing a draft gets it one step closer. :) 

4) I'm planning book launch and promo stuff for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY. Fun fun fun, coming your way in just a couple months! 

5) We booked tickets to visit my family in Tennessee at the end of the month. Can't wait. 

What are you happy about this week? 

~Kathryn 

Welcome to the Spring 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt!

It's that time again—time for someone to win a WHOLE LOT of books! Welcome to the Spring 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt. Here's what you need to know: 

Somewhere in this blog post, I've hidden an important number. Collect all of the secret numbers of the authors on TEAM ORANGE and add them up. (Don't worry—you can use a calculator!) Then, fill out the entry form HERE. People who have the correct number will be entered to win a copy of every book from TEAM ORANGE! 

The contest is open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY, APRIL 3, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

There are NINE contests going on simultaneously this time around, and you can enter one or all! Find out more about the hunt and see all of the authors participating by going to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

And now...to business! 

I'm excited to be hosting Paula Stokes, author of GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE!

Paula Stokes writes stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. She’s the author of several YA novels, Including Vicarious, Girl Against the Universe, Liars Inc., and The Art of Lainey. Her first new adult novel will be published in late 2016 or early 2017. Paula loves interacting with readers. Find her online at authorpaulastokes.com or on Twitter as @pstokesbooks.

About GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE

Maguire is bad luck. Horrible things happen when she's around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

And here's what Paula had to say: 

Hi YASHers! I had trouble deciding on a scene to share, because as many of you know, I have over 100 pages of cut scenes from Girl Against the Universe. I ultimately decided on a deleted phone conversation between main character, Maguire, and book-boyfriend Jordy.

Maguire is completing a list of seven tasks with the help of her therapist in order to get over her fear that she’s bad luck to people around her. In the earlier draft, she told Jordy she would go out with him only after she successfully completed all of her therapy challenges. This conversation occurred between challenges #5 and #6, but there’s nothing spoilery here.

***

My phone buzzes in the center console as I pull my mom’s car into the driveway. I cut the engine and glance down at the display. It’s Jordy.

I swipe at the screen. “Hey. What’s up? I just got home.”

“Have you picked a place for our first date yet?” he asks.

“No,” I say firmly. “Because I don’t want to jinx things.”

“Are you actually worried that you’re going to fail? Or are you more scared you’re going to succeed?”

I unclick my seatbelt. “A little of both,” I admit. “I’ve never been anyone’s girlfriend, you know? I’m not sure how all of that works.”

The closer I get to finishing my therapy challenges, the more I realize that my bad luck isn’t the only thing I’d have to worry about if Jordy and I actually got together. There’s his parents and his schedule and the way he makes me feel when we’re alone. It’s intense—a lot to process. What if I’m not ready?

“It works like we hang out and have fun together. It’s that simple.”

My eyelids flutter closed as I think about the kiss we shared at Joshua Tree. It did seem simple in that moment, but since then everything feels different. “Yeah, but are there certain…expectations?”

“What do you mean?” he asks. “Like going to my tennis matches?”

“Um, I’d love to go to your matches, but I meant more like the stuff we do…when we’re alone. You have a lot more experience than I do…” My cheeks start to burn.

“Oh.” He pauses for a second. “Maguire, I’ve spent the last few years feeling pressured from all sides. I’m not going to do that to you. Besides, I’m not in any major hurry. We can do or not do whatever you want. So don’t worry, okay?”

Relief surges through me. My eyes flick open. “Wow, you seriously are a people pleaser,” I tease.

He laughs lightly. “That’s a trait you might come to really appreciate someday.”

My face goes even hotter. “Stop it. I have to go inside eventually and I think you have me set on permanent blush.”

“Are you sitting in your mom’s car, in the dark, thinking about me?”

“Maybe,” I say. “Why?”

“Because I’m just lying here in my room, in the dark, thinking about you.”

***

Paula: This conversation was cut because I revised the progression of Maguire and Jordy’s relationship, but I was sad to lose the sex-positivity and the way that Jordy reassures Maguire that he’s not going to pressure her.

I’m sharing it for YASH because I think it captures the dynamics between the two of them and shows you a bit of their chemistry. He’s a little bit pushy, but ultimately supportive and decent. She’s crazy about him, even if she spends most of the book afraid to let herself get too close.

Okay—it's Kathryn again: 

Still on the YA Scavenger Hunt? There are two things you'll need to move forward. One: My secret number—33. And two: Your next stop on the Hunt. Head to Elle Cosimano's website for more great book content and goodies! 

And don't forget that somewhere on the TEAM ORANGE hunt, you'll find a sneak peek at Chapter One of my new book, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, which comes out June 14. To celebrate, I'm giving away five swag packs via the Rafflecopter below! Want some HOW IT FEELS TO FLY goodies? You know what to do. :) 

Happy Hunting! 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: WIP Goals, Author Events, Music, and More

I think I jinxed us when I gushed about the weather last week. I just checked the 10-day forecast to discover that NYC is supposed to get SNOW on Sunday. It's 60 degrees right now (Thursday evening). Bah. 

But with that gripe out of the way, it's been a pretty cool week. Here's my Friday Five! 

1) I passed 75,000 words on my manuscript-in-progress! Given that the book was hovering around 55K when I wrote "The End" on the first draft in January, I'm pretty pleased with my forward momentum. Can I get to the end in the next month or so? How many more words do I need? Stay tuned... 

2) It's been a fantastic NYC Teen Author Festival so far! I went to an author event at the New York Public Library on Monday evening and another at Dixon Place last night, and participated in a group author visit with GED students yesterday morning. That presentation was definitely a highlight of the whole week. The students asked wonderful questions about writing and publishing and inspiration...and our favorite movie stars and films. I love interacting with readers! 

3) It hasn't all been book-stuff this week. I also managed to squeeze in my friend Kohli Calhoun's latest performance. She's a talented singer-songwriter who's releasing a new album this spring, and trust me—you will be hearing more about her from me once that comes out. For now, you can access a free EP on her website, which I linked to above. 

4) The sprained ankle is on the mend. Still a little sore, but nothing I can't handle. 

5) HOW IT FEELS TO FLY got its first trade review this week! This particular reviewing outlet, Kirkus, is notoriously snarky, so I'm relieved to have had two books make it through the Kirkus gauntlet unscathed. Here's a spoiler-free snippet of the review: 

"Holmes concentrates on demonstrating the benefits of therapy, dissecting Samantha’s emotions, and depicting her increasing strength in overcoming her traumas and her difficult relationship with her obsessive mother. The book winds up as almost a paean to clinical psychology, but it should resonate with driven readers and those with their own body issues."

Less than three months until HOW IT FEELS TO FLY hits bookshelves. Eek! That's a scary/good thing for another post... 

Did you have a good week? 

~Kathryn 

Friday Five: Cirque du Soleil and Fearless Fifteeners and More

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you're running and running on your hamster wheel, trying not to trip and do a complete spin over the top? That was my week. (And it's still ongoing...) So here's a quick Friday Five! 

1) On Tuesday, I got to go out to Long Island to observe rehearsals for the new Cirque du Soleil show, Paramour, which is planned to open on Broadway in May. Yes, taking this quick-turnaround assignment for Dance Magazine contributed to the overall hamster-wheel sensation, but how could I turn it down? It's not every day you get to watch some of the world's best dancers and acrobats in rehearsal—or interview a Cirque du Soleil director and two choreographers. I can't wait to see the finished product in a couple months! 

2) Fellow author launch parties are the best. I missed the one I'd hoped to attend on Tuesday night (post-Cirque du Soleil stuff), but did get to go to one on Wednesday. Lauren Magaziner writes adorable, magical middle-grade books, and it was a pleasure to celebrate her sophomore novel, PILFER ACADEMY: A SCHOOL SO BAD IT'S CRIMINAL. I can't wait to read it! 

3) Remember the Fearless Fifteener ARC tours I used to post about all the time? A few of them are still running, which means I am finally catching up on some fellow debuts' books that have been on my TBR for a long time. This week, I read THE FIX by Natasha Sinel and THE ONE THING by Marci Lyn Curtis. Both books are about teens healing emotionally after difficult times. In THE FIX, Macy has been holding on to a shameful secret, but a chance conversation with a boy at a party cracks her walls and lets those memories bubble to the surface. In THE ONE THING, Maggie is barely coping after losing her sight—and her promising soccer career—six months ago, but a chance meeting with a kid she can see sets her on the path to recovery. Neither author tiptoes around the tough stuff. Check these books out for realistic and heart-wrenching situations and lots of feels. 

4) My husband and I are headed to Philadelphia tonight for a family event—my first bar mitzvah! He tells me I have no real reason to be excited, but I've never been to one before, so I can't help it. ;) (Mazel tov, David!) 

5) My HOW IT FEELS TO FLY promotional bookmarks have arrived! I'll be sharing pictures all over social media soon... 

How's your week been?

~Kathryn  

Ready to Go on a Scavenger Hunt?

The YA book blogger community is truly awesome, and so when Montana from The Book Belles (www.thebookbelles.blogspot.com) got in touch to see if I wanted to join an online scavenger hunt featuring 2016 Young Adult Contemporary titles, I said yes without hesitation!

Here's the deal: Below, you'll get exclusive interview content from author K.C. Heldwhose debut, HOLDING COURT, comes out on March 1. After you read about HOLDING COURT, you'll get a link to another author's blog, where you'll learn about another book—and so on, and so forth. Somewhere along the way, you'll come across an interview with me about HOW IT FEELS TO FLY! Each post will also have a code word hidden somewhere in it. Collect all of the code words and go HERE before end-of-day Wednesday, January 27, for a chance to win a great prize pack! 

Oh, and at the end of this post, I'll also be giving away an ARC of HOW IT FEELS TO FLY. I'd ***love*** for you to enter! 

About HOLDING COURT:

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what's in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty—and completely unavailable—Grayson Chandler. Except that it's not quite what she imagined.

For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there's the dead body she finds that just kind of...well, disappears. Oh, and there's the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls "Psychic Tourette's Syndrome"—spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.

The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson's attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson's interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it's starting to look suspicious...

About K.C. Held:

K.C. HELD was born and raised in California with stopovers in Honduras, Mexico, and France. Married to her high school sweetheart, and mom to two avid bookworms, she holds an MFA in costume design and has worked as a freelance costumer in opera, theater, film and television. Although she once spent a summer working in a castle, there were no dead bodies involved.

K.C. is represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her debut young adult novel, HOLDING COURT, will be published by Entangled Teen on March 1, 2016.

The Interview: 

1) Congrats on your debut! Is HOLDING COURT the first book you wrote, as well as being the first you published? What was your path to publication like? 

K.C.: Thank you! I wrote most of HOLDING COURT during a frenzied two week period after finally realizing it was time to break up with my first book. I wanted to write a YA mystery that combined elements from TV shows, movies, and books I love: the Stars Hollow feel of Gilmore Girls, the interconnected affect of Amélie, the impossible romance and quirky characters of Pushing Daisies, the fast-paced mix of humor and mystery in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and a heroine who was a whip-smart wisecracker like Buffy and Veronica Mars. I put it all in a blender, reblended it a few times, and HOLDING COURT was the result. Which makes it sound like a smoothie rather than a book, but that’s essentially how HOLDING COURT came about!

2) I love the idea of a supernatural mystery set at a period dinner theater. Did you write Tudor Times based on personal experience? If not, what's the craziest summer job you ever had? 

K.C.: I would’ve loved to have had a job at a period dinner theater! I did have a summer internship in textile conservation at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, which was crazy awesome, and there are definitely parts of the castle in Tudor Times that were inspired by Hearst Castle. 

3) What sets your main character, Jules, apart from her peers? (I mean, aside from the whole "psychic prophesy" thing mentioned in the book's teaser...) Do you tend to write protagonists who share a lot of characteristics with teen you, or are they very different?

K.C.: While Jules’s gift is something no one else has, she’s like me, and everyone I knew as a teen, in that there’s something about herself that she desperately wishes she could change. I’m not sure what other characteristics we share besides the fact that we’re both tall people who love vintage clothing and the movie The Princess Bride. Also, as a teen I once had to dress up in the same costume Jules has to wear at her job. But the less said about that, the better. :)

4) What are you most excited about heading into your publishing debut? 

K.C.: I can’t wait to see how it feels to hold a physical copy of HOLDING COURT in my hands!

5) What are you working on next? 

K.C.: “Another mystery,” she said mysteriously.

Your next scavenger hunt stop: 

Did you find the code word hidden in this post? Hint: I put lots of asterisks around it. :)

Once you've got it, head over to author Kim Culbertson's blog: http://kimculbertson.com.  

Want to win an ARC of HOW IT FEELS TO FLY? 

Friday Five: Coffee Shop Chats and Early Reviews

This wasn't the world's most upbeat week—especially with the loss of acting icon Alan Rickman, aka Severus Snape aka Colonel Brandon, yesterday—but that doesn't mean there aren't things to celebrate and be grateful for. Here are mine:  

1) HOW IT FEELS TO FLY galleys are out in the world! I spotted my ARC in various bloggers' and writers' book haul stacks from the American Library Association's midwinter conference last weekend, as well as on the shelf at the HarperCollins booth. Also, on Monday, the incredibly talented Stacey Lee said lovely things about the book on Instagram and Twitter, while yesterday book blogger Nori tweeted that she'd enjoyed it. I've been so nervous to find out what people think, and now that the ARCs are spreading, it's a relief to hear good things! 

2) On Monday evening, I got a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy the random interactions life throws at you sometimes. I stopped at a Starbucks to get some work done before meeting my husband and two friends for dinner... but their wi-fi was down. And then, this elderly man wouldn't stop talking to me. But rather than excuse myself and pack up my computer and head for another coffee shop, I decided to stay and chat with him. And I'm so glad I did! John is 78, a native of Scotland, and an almost lifelong Brooklyn resident. He's a screenwriter for the BBC and other networks; we talked a lot about the creative process. And we talked about Brooklyn in the 1950s, and his wife who was a dancer and is now a world-traveling Pilates instructor, and watching cooking shows on the Food Network... and more than an hour passed. Chatty strangers are normally not my favorite thing—not at all—but if I hadn't decided to let it happen, I would have missed out on a really fascinating conversation. 

3) I read my first 2016 ARC, Lauren Gibaldi's AUTOFOCUS! Lauren's a fellow Fearless Fifteener, and I'm so excited that our sophomore novels share a release date: June 14. Not only did I love this book—a contemporary YA about a girl who's determined to find out more information about her birth mother, who died giving birth to her—but I'm also hoping Lauren and I can do at least one joint event to celebrate and promote our books. Stay tuned! 

4) I'm almost done with my X-Files rewatch, and the new six-episode season premieres in just over a week, and if I talk about that any longer I'm going to hyperventilate, so...

5) I made the most delicious apple pecan bread this week. I really love baking, and when something turns out even better than I anticipated, it's such a treat. The apartment still smells like apple-cinnamon.  

What's got you in a good mood this week? 

~Kathryn