Tuesday, December 31, 2013


My favorite time of the year has rolled around again when I can dream about all the things I want to learn, do, create and become.

My list for 2014:

- Wear RED lipstick
- Draw in my sketchbook
- Finish my books (write, revise, repeat)
- Write a movie
- Learn a new word every week
- Write, write, write
- Read, read, read
- Learn to bake sourdough bread
- Write thank you letters
- Be happy! Don't let other people have control of my happiness
- Publish another essay
- Organize one room each month
- Be thoughtful
- Dance a lot!
- Sing a lot!
- Make other people happy!

Those are my resolutions. What are yours?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Perfection of a Short Story

This weekend I had the opportunity to read some of my favorite short stories out loud to my husband. He wanted to understand my passion for writing and the most obvious way for me to explain it to him was to show him, firsthand, some of the stories that have moved me most deeply. 

I've never had the opportunity to read these stories out loud. With the exception of all the picture books and chapter books that I've read out loud to my kids at bedtime, all of my reading has been a very solitary experience, so it was a thrill to be able to not only relive some of my favorite words, but to speak them, to slow down and savor them.

There are dozens and dozens of short stories that have really resonated with me over the years, but there are a few that I come back to over and over again:

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor 
White Angel by Michael Cunningham 
Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff
The Fourth State of Matter by Jo Ann Beard (really an essay)

Are there any short stories that you revisit time and again?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Congratulations to...

Simon P. Clark 

You are the winner of the Custom Art Contest! I can't wait to get busy designing something fantastic for another amazing writer!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Middle Grade Books of All Time!

Some of the most influential books in my life were introduced to me when I was just a little girl. They were the first ray of light into the dark tunnel of my imagination and they've stayed with me through the years, informing me about all the books I'd come to love over the years. 

Here's a list of my favorite middle grade novels, some from my childhood and some from my second childhood (let's face it, I'll never grow up). 

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams

2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

3. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

4. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

5. Doll Bones by Holly Black

6. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt

7. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

8. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

10. The Evolution of Culpurnia Tate by Jaqueline Kelly

Friday, September 13, 2013

Put a Star on It!

Let's face it... I'm a little lazy. I'm not a member of the 5 a.m Writer's Club. I don't crank out thousands of words a day. In fact, some days pass where I haven't typed a single word. But if Malcolm Gladwell has taught me anything, it's that to be an expert, I have to put in the hours. I have to put my butt in that chair and WRITE!!! 

Enter Victoria Schwab and her brilliant video...

The Best Writing Trick I Know

One trip to the office supply store, two packages of shiny stickers, and a new calendar later, and I'm newly inspired. Who knew that I basically had the same motivation as a preschooler? But hey, as long as it works...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Freckled Kate

Introducing my newest endeavor ... 

Come visit my website, The Freckled Kate, and check out my most recent illustrations. I'm still adding new work regularly, so check back soon to see what's hot off the press. 

And if you're in the market for new web art, blog banners or custom illustrations, send me an email and I'll give you a quick quote.

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's a Deal... a BOOK deal

Yes, you heard me right... I have another book deal!!! I'm so excited to announce that I've accepted an offer from Bloomsbury Spark to publish my YA dystopian novel, DELIVER ME (Spring 2014). Finally, DELIVER ME has found a home, and I couldn't be more excited to get the chance to work with the fantastic Meredith Rich!

My rock star agent, Kerry Sparks, finalized the deal today (which, I have to point out, was her LAST day in the office before maternity leave). The timing was perfect. 

And here's the announcement from Publisher's Marketplace:

Kate Birch's DELIVER ME, in a dystopian society governed by people who are determined to create the perfect race, for the first time in her life a girl has a choice to make: submit to the will of the Union, or find a way to save her best friend before she is lost forever, to Meredith Rich at Bloomsbury Spark, for publication in Spring 2014, by Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (World).

EEEK! I'm over the moon... and here's an illustration to go with it.

SIDELINED Cover Reveal

I'm so excited to get to introduce another cover from one of my publishing sisters, Kendra Highley. Today Entangled Teen Ember is revealing the cover for SIDELINED. Coming out this September! 

On to the reveal!

After being pushed to excel her entire life, high school basketball star Genna Pierce is finally where she wants to be. University scouts are taking notice, her team is on its way to the state tourney, and Jake Butler, the hot boy she's daydreamed about since ninth grade, is showing somedefinite interest. When he asks her out and their relationship takes off, Genna believes things can't get better.

Then, it's over.

A freak accident ends her career before it's even begun. Her parents are fighting more than ever, her friends don't understand what she's going through, and she's not sure who she is without basketball. And while he tries to be there for her, Genna doesn't understand how Jake could ever want the broken version of the girl he fell for.

Her life in a tailspin, Genna turns to the only solace that eases her pain: Vicodin. 

About Kendra: 

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most critical job. She believes in everyday magic, extraordinary love stories and the restorative powers of dark chocolate.

1 eBook of SIDELINED International

Rafflecopter Link:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cover Reveal ALLURE

Today, we're celebrating the cover reveal of Allure, the sequel to Lea Nolan's Conjure, coming October 1st from Entangled Teen!

Worst. Summer. Ever.

Emma Guthrie races to learn the hoodoo magic needed to break The Beaumont Curse before her marked boyfriend Cooper's sixteenth birthday. But deep in the South Carolina Lowcountry, dark, mysterious forces encroach, conspiring to separate Emma and Cooper forever. When Cooper starts to change, turning cold and indifferent, Emma discovers that both his heart and body are marked for possession by competing but equally powerful adversaries.

Desperate to save him, Emma and her twin brother, Jack, risk their lives to uncover the source of the black magic that has allured Cooper and holds him in its grip. Face with the horror of a soul-eating boohag, Emma and Jack must fight to resist its fiendish power to free Cooper long enough to join their strengths and face it together, before it destroys them all.

Praise for Conjure

"Richly filled with exquisite imagery, a compelling story, and a strong, smart heroine, Conjure will keep you up way past your bedtime." ~ Trinity Faegen, author of The Mephisto Covenant series

"A true adventure, complete with pirates, romance, a flesh-eating curse, and ancient magic. I couldn't put it down!"  ~ Inara Scott, author of The Talents (Delcroix Academy) series

"If there is one book teens and adults should have on their must read list, Conjure is it! Fans of young love and adventure will hurry to the end of each chapter, in anticipation of what will happen next. Unfolding at an easy pace, this tale is magical and spellbinding. Nolan is one to watch!" ~ RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ Stars Top Pick

"Conjure is a sweet, adventure-packed romp for young teen readers... There are pirates, lost treasure, curses, and ancient curses, chases, narrow escapes, and secret letters galore." ~ New York Journal of Books

"This is an unexpected read: exciting, dangerous, adventurous - everything we want from a good book. Yet Nolan puts that creative twist on all the elements, making Conjure something special. Conjure is recommended, 4 out of 5 stars." ~ Teen Librarian's Toolbox

About the Author

Lea Nolan couldn’t read until the third grade. After a lot of hard work she finally got the hang of it and quickly learned the best way to get out of doing chores was to tell her parents she was reading. Soon she was hooked, devouring books by Roald Dahl, E.B. White, Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis, and anything with a shiny Newberry Award sticker on the cover. Books provided a portal to enchanted lands where anything was possible and characters relied on their wits to wiggle out of sticky situations. Today, even though she’s all grown up, Lea writes the kinds of stories she sought as a teen--smart paranormals with bright heroines, crazy-hot heroes, diabolical plot twists, plus a dose of magic, a draft of romance, and a sprinkle of history. She holds degrees in history and women’s studies concentrating in public policy and spent fifteen years as a health policy analyst and researcher. She lives in Maryland with her heroically supportive husband and three clever children, who’ve figured out how to get out of doing their chores.


Enter the giveaway below to win one of the first five electronic ARCs of Allure from Entangled Teen!
Rafflecopter Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1cb554136/

Saturday, August 31, 2013

On a roll...

My latest illustration might be a metaphor for my obsessions... or it might just be another picture of a whale.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Custom Art Contest

You know I love having contests, but I'm REALLY excited about this one. I just finished up the artwork for Dana Alison Levy's gorgeous, new website (you'll be able to visit it very soon) and now I'm dying to create something else. So I'm turning to you, dear reader. I want to design some custom artwork for YOU.

Maybe you're in the market for original artwork for your own website, or maybe your blog needs a new look. I'm happy to design almost anything from Facebook or Etsy headers, to book covers.  

To enter:
1. Leave me a comment telling me what you'd like me to illustrate for you.
2. Make sure you're a follower.
3. Spread the news: tweet it, Facebook it, email your friends, anything to get the word out.

I'll announce the winner September 25th.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Damsel Distressed

It's almost impossible for me to pass up a contest, especially when it's one as awesome as Kelsey Macke's Cover Design Contest for her upcoming novel DAMSEL DISTRESSED.

The contest runs through September 22nd, so if your feeling artsy, head on over and give it a go. You can read the rules here and watch the entry video here.

You can design as many covers as your little heart desires and although I'd like to spend the next month designing my own, I think my family will be happy if I keep it at one.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Writing Material or Kindling?

Last night we got home from a family camping trip to the Uintahs. For two days we sat in the sun reading books and relaxing, spent hours around the campfire laughing and eating s'mores, and went fishing in the Provo river. Oh... and there was also those few hours in the middle of the night where we counted down the minutes to our sure and painful death.

I know I shouldn't complain. It's great to find writing material in real life. Authentic moments that drive gritty and real stories can't be bought, right? But I'd rather not find mine at midnight in a remote camp site in the middle of the mountains.

A little past midnight I woke to the sound of a gunshot echoing through the canyon. Of course I nudged my husband awake and a moment later when the next shot sounded he mumbled in agreement, "Yeah, sounds like a gunshot." Already I was on high alert, but a few moments later when a woman's bloodcurdling scream traveled down the canyon I bolted up, ready to get in the car RIGHT THAT SECOND to drive down the canyon. Forget our camper trailer, forget our camping equipment and clothes. We would leave it all behind.

In my mind, a pair of murderous thugs were already making their way towards our camp site to take out our family next. I saw it all: their stubbled faces, the terror in my kids' eyes, our last minutes together as a family. 

I love having an active imagination, but on occasion it can be an almost lethal power. For hours my mind circled through scenario after scenario, not limited to: deranged murderers, killer mountain lions, and zombie apocalypse. 

After hours of staring at the dark ceiling, I only started to relax after I began composing a short story in my mind. Maybe I'll put that material to use after all... 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Life Goals for the Quasi Insane

There are typical life goals (write a book, travel to Europe, learn French) and then there are the goals that you only tell to your closest friends (and even then, you might only admit them when the lights are off). 

 You know what I'm talking about, they're the mad hatter dreams. The goals that you're secretly hoping will happen to you, even though you'd probably sound a bit kookie if you admitted them out loud.

Here are some of my crazy life goals:

1. Invent my own word that will become so widely used that it gets recognized in Merriam-Webster.

2. While we're at it, I'd like my own catch phrase.

3. Cultivate the power of telekinesis which I could then use to do all my housework. Yes, I'm that lazy.

4. Own a genetically modified mini elephant that I can hold in my hand. (Maybe a whole zoo of mini animals).

5. Learn to fly, or at least invent something that I can use to fly (but not too high, because I'm kind of afraid of heights).

These are just some of my crazy dreams. If you want to know the rest you'll have to come snuggle with me when the lights are off.

What's on your crazy life goal list?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Time Muncher

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, gather round while the world famous Time Muncher demonstrates feats of daring like none you've ever seen before. Not only can she avoid doing the laundry and dishes (or all manner of household chores for that matter) she can avoid doing any sort of work entirely. Don't cover your eyes. Don't look away, or you might miss as she wastes even more time. There. Did you see it happen? Another perfectly good hour gone in the blink of an eye.

Help, I've been possessed by the Time Muncher. I looked deep into her Candy Crush eyes and weeks have vanished from my life. I've definitely fallen prey to my time wasting ways. How do you avoid getting sucked into the vortex?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Introducing the Treadmill Desk

My New Office

A lot like Homer Simpson, I've got a butt-shaped indentation in my couch that I've spent endless hours perfecting. I've always been one to write with my feet up on the ottoman and my computer propped up on my lap, but lately my back (and my waistline) haven't been too happy with this arrangement. 

Over the past year I've been jealously watching as other writers made the leap to the treadmill desk. On twitter I listened as authors like John Green talked about the thousands of steps they took each day while simultaneously cranking out thousands of words. 

Of course as my birthday inched closer I dropped hint after hint (well, maybe they weren't hints so much as outright pleading) for a treadmill desk. But with the big price tag that comes with one, I assumed it was out of the question.

On my birthday-- after a lovely lunch date-- my husband told me he just had to run a quick errand for work on our way home. I must be pretty easy to deceive because I didn't even question the fact that my mom wanted to come along. 

You can imagine my surprise when we pulled into the LifeSpan parking lot and my mom and husband told me what they were giving me for my birthday. It was even better than a PONY. 

I'd done a lot of research about what sort of desk I wanted and a LifeSpan was at the very top of my list, but I hadn't realized that the company was actually based out of Salt Lake. Not only did I not have to wait to have my treadmill desk delivered, but we also saved $200 by picking it up ourselves.

I've only had my desk for a few days, but I'm a total convert. It's amazing how easy is to walk and type at the same time. After a couple minutes I forget that my legs are even moving. Today I walked over three miles while I was editing. THREE MILES. 

I have to warn you now, if you run into me, I might start proselytizing about how great treadmill desks are. Hopefully I can convert you all!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Banner Winner!

Yesterday I was spoiled rotten on my birthday with a fancy lunch date, a tasty homemade dinner (made by my daughter), two trips to the park with our sweet dog and the coolest gift of all... a treadmill desk. (Don't worry, there will be a whole post on the awesomeness of my new desk.)

But enough taking. It's time to give back a little. I'm excited to announce the winner of the Banner Contest. I can't wait to get started making some original artwork for...


Congratulations Dana. Start brainstorming about your new banner and then shoot me an email and I'll get started designing it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's Official

Yep, it's official, I can finally announce my exciting news. I signed my very first book deal (well two-book deal to be more precise). I'm thrilled to get to work with Heather Howland from Entangled on my series, PET. 

Here's the Publisher's Marketplace listing:

Kate Birch's debut PET, set in a world where the government has passed legislation allowing people to be genetically engineered and raised as pets so the rich and powerful can own beautiful girls like sixteen-year-old Gigi as their new companions, to Heather Howland at Entangled digiTeen in a two-book deal, by Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (World).

Of course, to celebrate, the first thing I did was treat myself to a new book from The King's English. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Win a Banner

In celebration of Kristin Lippert-Martin's gorgeous new website (which you can visit here) I decided it was time for another contest. I had so much fun designing her banner-- which she happened to win during my last banner design contest-- that I decided it was time to duplicate all that cheer.

You too can win a new banner for your blog, website, facebook page... whatever you want. Heck, maybe you just want a banner to wear around your neck when you go grocery shopping. I won't judge. It's up to you. The sky's the limit.

How to enter: 
1. Make sure to follow my blog (unless of course you already do).
2. Leave me a message telling me what fun banner you want me to design for you.
3. Spread the word... Tell your friends on twitter or Facebook, post it on your blog or knock on your neighbor's door, whatever works for you :)

That's it! 

The contest will run until midnight on my birthday, June 6th. I'll announce the winner on June 7th.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

One Lucky Mama

This is the amazing list that my daughter made me for Mother's Day.

 77 Things I Love About You...

  • You and I are always on the same brain wave
  • You let us make fun of you
  • You make fun of us
  • Your imagination is endless
  • You can't cook to save your life
  • You dance like nobody is watching
  • You're easily amused
  • You are a horrible driver
  • You turn every bad situation into a fun one
  • You pick me up from school when I just don't want to go
  • You can make fun of strangers and only feel a little bad about it
  • You can't follow directions
  • You call us by the wrong name
  • You let us do art projects even when we are still in the middle of our last one
  • You get scared during movies
  • I can hear you laughing at the TV when I'm going to sleep
  • You aren't afraid of talking to strangers
  • You like to give things away
  • You can't keep a secret for more than a few hours
  • You aren't afraid to take chances
  • You can make a bag of candy disappear almost instantly
  • You get addicted to video games (i.e. Candy Crush)
  • You aren't afraid to stick up for yourself and your kids
  • You're crazy
  • Your handwriting should be a font
  • You have the cutest sneezes
  • You laugh at my jokes even when they aren't funny
  • You make me laugh
  • You love Dad and you say so a lot
  • You let Dad go camping/fishing/snowboarding/golfing even when you don't want him to
  • You don't pay attention to the outside world when you are reading
  • You sing at the top of your lungs even though you can't hit the notes
  • Your laugh is infectious
  • You're a worry wart
  • We would own a zoo if you had the choice
  • You have great style
  • You know when something is bothering me
  • You understand what I'm talking about even when I don't
  • You try to be a handyman even if you fail
  • You are genuine
  • You drive me places at a moment's notice
  • You have good taste in music
  • You take every opportunity to learn about something
  • You read every book you can get your hands on
  • You can finish a word search in three minutes flat
  • You never get angry at me
  • You always have the most interesting things to say
  • You have baby-child hands
  • You can stop biting your nails for a few months and know right when you will start again
  • You get so excited about little things
  • You spend every penny you earn on your kids
  • You don't let the big things worry you
  • You always worry about the little things
  • You let me rant on about what I see on Pinterest
  • You have a never ending supply of book ideas
  • You are a dork
  • You see the beauty in everything
  • You are opinionated
  • You know just what to say to make me feel better
  • You make everyone around you happy
  • You put up with my crazy sleep talking and remember them well enough to tell me about them the next day
  • You are just the right amount of awkward
  • We always have something to talk about
  • You get so worked up about politics
  • You would make a great president
  • You are always willing to help me with homework
  • You are just a slightly older version of me
  • You are so organized, yet such a mess all the time
  • You are willing to do anything to help me
  • If a mini pony wandered into our yard, you would already have a name picked out and a stable built
  • You're always on the hunt for a new farm to move to
  • You always speak your mind
  • You are so passionate about everything you do
  • You think you're the coolest person on Earth, and you're right
  • You love us so much and would go to the moon and back to show us
  • You're my mommy
It feels good to be known inside and out!