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October 31, 2011

BOOk Pumpkins, Part 2

Kate Hart
Happy Halloween!

under the mesquite pumpkin divergent pumpkin going bovine pumpkin
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Want to make one?
Use a template from here or design your own,
then enter the contest at YA Highway!

eta: I failed to mention that the far left pumpkin was actually carved by my talented and patient husband. :)

October 27, 2011

BOOk Pumpkins!

Kate Hart

Want to make a terrifying jack o'lantern for Hallowen? Well, all year long we've been hearing how dark and scary YA is, so book-themed carvings are a logical choice! Use the patterns below or design your own, then be sure to enter the contest at YA Highway to win some great ARCs!

October 26, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: October's Best Book

Kate Hart
Man, everything I read this month was good, but here are my top three:

before i die scorpio races abundance of katherines

1. Before I Die by Jenny Downham:
Owww. My heart. Well worth the pain.

2. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater:
Unlike anything else I've read in YA, including Maggie's own books.

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green:
Almost too clever for its own good. As always, John made me laugh until I cried at random intervals.

What's the best book you've read recently?
Leave your link in the comments at YA Highway!

October 18, 2011

The Game of Write

Kate Hart

Everybody gets a board game. Doctors and sailors and bankers and detectives and rock stars and pirates and farmers and bratz and rednecks-- even dogs get their own game. 

Well, it's time writers did too (and don't tell me Scrabble counts). Spin the wheel and take your own publication journey...

(click to enlarge, or CTRL + + to zoom)

Not responsible for tears shed, dreams shattered, chocolate consumed, heads desked, or muscles pulled doing happy dances.

October 17, 2011

Up In The Trees

Kate Hart

A few months ago, I mentioned that my husband and I had quit our jobs and were starting a treehouse-building business. (If you thought we were crazy, it's okay. Lots of people did. We weren't so sure ourselves.)

Well, the business is doing really well, and that is 98% thanks to my husband (whose name I might as well use-- y'all know how to work the magic Google machine). I designed some brochures; Josh drives to the sawmill, does all the designing, heavy lifting, and tree climbing, and deals with customers (aka STRANGERS. On the PHONE. He's like Superman.)

But here's the thing: no one wants to hire you to build an awesome treehouse until you can prove that you are, in fact, capable of building an awesome treehouse. So guess what went up in my backyard?

Right now, the inside is "Up In The Trees Restaurant," where my children have been serving tasty meals of leaves and acorns. But this winter, once the structure is watertight, I will KICK THEM OUT move a bunch of pillows and blankets out there and set up writing camp.

Josh uses locally-sourced cedar and cypress, so that we don't have to ship redwood in from the West Coast.  I know not everyone is familiar with Arkansas geography, so I made this handy explanatory map.

The treehouses themselves are designed to impact the environment as little as possible, too. You can see how the walls are built around the trunks of our elm tree, and when possible, we use recycled materials. For example, the front window came from a neighbor's house, and the back window is my parents' old sliding glass door.

There's a real door now, and this winter, we're going to replace the ladder with something like these!

I'm already stressing over which titles to use though. What books would you choose for your own book steps?


I realize very few of you live near me (see handy map above for confirmation), but if you want to check out our other projects, you can do so on Facebook or on our website.
Stairs picture is from this Tumblr.

October 6, 2011

"I was only trying to spell a loss..."

Kate Hart

bon iver kansas city marquee
credit: kelsey
A few weeks ago, I went to a concert.

Since then, nothing has been loud enough.

Not even loud. Loud's not the right word. Nothing has been chest-rattlingly amazing enough. Nothing has been bone-shakingly mind-blowing enough.

Something in me got pushed out of place and I can't push it back.

And I kind of don't want to.

So here's the thing. Maybe you like Bon Iver, maybe you don't, but hopefully you have a favorite band that shreds on stage and shreds your insides. Nine piece band, flashing lights, monster sound, and if you're lucky like we were, a super chill, super happy crowd that cheers at the right times and shuts up when it should. "His songs hit like a car crash, jolt at the core." "The entire concert had the fervent feel of a religious revival." "Listening to him is like eating rich chocolate cake, and once you’ve had rich chocolate cake, it’s all you want. At this point all the other music in my library seems bland, unoriginal, vanilla. Justin Vernon [the man behind Bon Iver] is like really fucking good cake."

It was amazing. Obviously.

Now I'm home with my two albums and an EP and a compilation and a soundtrack and some side project bands and some covers and all the YouTube videos and Tumblr posts I can find. I even have a live concert recorded by NPR, just a few weeks before the Kansas City show.

But they're not LOUD ENOUGH.

Recordings just can't capture live music. There's no way to replicate that dome of sound vibrating every blood vessel in your body. Whatever got moved left an empty space and I can't fill it and it's pushing into my perception of other things too.

Like books. (You knew that was coming, right? Of course you did.)

Some books just aren't LOUD ENOUGH. I don't mean "books with high concept hooks" or "books written by famous people" or "books so edgy that they're banned before they're even printed." I mean books that reach down and twist your guts around. You're walking along days later, minding your own business, and then you see something that throws you face-first back into the story, even though you've already closed the cover. Books that make you stop and stare at the bookshelf because you can't pass the title without thinking about the characters, the setting, the plot, the way he kissed her when he shouldn't have, the way the mom cut her hair and the daughter cried just like when you were thirteen, the way the banter made you miss friends from a long time ago, the way something moved something else and now you're not the same.

How do you recover from work like that?

More importantly: How do you even begin to produce work like that? 

The passion on that stage was insane. I want to channel it. I want to plug into Justin Vernon's amp and translate the chords into sentences.

Except I don't want them to be his sentences. I want them to be mine.

I'm not pretending to have a tenth of the kid's talent, but maybe we're a little alike. He rearranged his European tour around deer season; I combined our annual family fishing trip with my own redneck writing retreat. He has a tattoo of his home state on his shoulder, which happens to be where I keep the large chip about my own. He also played with Kanye, and Peter Gabriel covered one of his songs, and then he covered one of Gabriel's (and one of Bjork's. And this awesome 80s song. And Bob Dylan. And Bonnie Raitt.)

I... do not have any similar experiences.

credit: richard pepper
But you know how long it took him to write his second album? Three years! That's 1.2 words per day, with some margin of error built in for the nonsense words he throws in occasionally. Vernon says that "it happened so metamorphously, if that's even a word... slow and steady. It was all at once and all over the course of three years at the same time."

Every complicated layer was there... but also not there. Then it all came together and melted my face off.

It gives me hope for this project I'm working on. The one that feels like it started forever ago and keeps metamorphousing into something else about the time I think it's nearly done. I get so. freaking. frustrated.

But every day is another layer of sound. Come along, little story. Let's go rattle some bones.


Whose talent do you want to siphon off? Whose picture do you stick on the dartboard and purposely miss? Who do you blast at top volume or hang on the wall or relentlessly stalk on the internet when you need inspiration?  

And what's the best concert you've ever seen?


Post title is from "Calgary." 

October 5, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Hold Me Closer, Tiny Cooper

Kate Hart
This week, YA Highway wants to know:
What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?


“You may choose your song, but know this: Tiny. Cooper. Hates. Over. The. Rainbow."
tiny cooper rules
This is what you get from a Tiny Cooper image search.
sources here, here, and here

Seriously. Why isn't Will Grayson Will Grayson a movie yet?

eta: I forgot to mention that the BFF is teaching this book to college freshmen. And one of them is a Nerdfighter. YA TAKEOVER: 90% COMPLETE. (She also taught Wintergirls. Because she, and it, are the bomb.)


Head over to YA Highway and leave a link to your own post in the comments!

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