Book Deal

I can FINALLY talk about it.

I have a book deal.

Brave Enough will be published by Flux in the spring of 2018.

And y’all…. I probably started writing this book in 2008 (well, not really, but it sure feels like it).

Here’s the announcement in Publishers Weekly.

Screenshot 2017-07-06 18.30.49

And here’s a little summary thanks to my amazing agent, Eric Smith. 

In BRAVE ENOUGH, readers meet Cason, a ballerina pushing herself to the limit, with the opportunity of a lifetime on the line… a scholarship and the chance to join one of the most prestigious ballet troupes in the country. And then there’s Davis, a recovering drug addict, volunteering in his old oncology unit, with the same people who saved him from the cancer that drove him to drugs three years ago.

The two of them collide when Cason is hospitalized, setting them on a path of physical and emotional recovery, as they navigate their new relationship and get ready to attend cancer camp together.

It reads like a mashup of Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson, Bunheads by Sophie Flack, Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I can’t wait for you to read it.

I sat down and decided to write a book about a ballerina with cancer. I wanted a book where the girl loses her leg and doesn’t receive a miracle. I wanted a book where I could talk about some of the things I saw as a cancer survivor. I had no idea that this would happen.

But, oh, I am so glad it is.

 

Camp

I was lucky enough to go back home again this year. And by that I mean Camp Sunshine.

Before I get too far into this post, let me take a minute to thank the people who made it possible for me to go.

  1. My awesome Mother-In-Law who took care of E this week. I think they burned more miles at the local children’s museum than anyone else. E is still talking about her new friends from “my camp” and all the fun they had together.
  2. One of my best friends from our old neighborhood, Stacy. She took K this week and I’m pretty sure K would have been content to spend the rest of her summer there. She most definitely did not want to come home.
  3. And last, but never least, Jason. Jason is my amazing husband. He encourages me and sends me love notes almost everyday. He sent me sweet texts reminding me that what I was doing at camp was invaluable. J- thank you so much for keeping everything moving and going while I was gone.

This was my 20th summer at Camp Sunshine.

Last summer was my first summer back after a seven-year hiatus of raising our girls and moving to a different state.

This was also camp’s 35th year. I started going to camp in 1990 when it was only seven years old. That’s a long time to be in one place. And I have to say, it’s never enough.

Camp Sunshine is a magical place. It is filled with love. Seriously. I know how it sounds. I know that when I write it out that I can never fully express what it is like to go.

When I was a camper I remember thinking that it must be hard to be a counselor. It was so obvious to me that my counselors would do anything to make camp amazing for us. In someways they would literally bend over backwards for us.

And that’s still true. As a counselor for my 9th year I absolutely knew that I would do anything for my campers. If they had a goal or wanted to try something I was going to do whatever I could to make sure they reached it.

I was talking with a camper that was graduating from camp this past week. He was a little sad that he’d just completed his last activity as a camper. And it was a great activity. One that involved courage and strength. I was lucky enough to watch him help one of my campers do this same brave activity. But after it was done, he was uncertain. I understood these feelings. I understood them in a deep way.

“I promise that being a counselor is better than being a camper could every be.” I told him.

And that is the truest thing I know about Camp Sunshine.

I had nine campers this past week.

They were all in different places in their treatments. All came with their own feelings and concerns from home. Some of their concerns had nothing to do with cancer. Some had everything to do with cancer. But I was privileged enough to listen to these girls as they talked to one another. They gave suggestions on the best pre-meds before chemo. They talked to each other about how surgeries felt and worked. They also talked about the struggles with homework, their favorite books (PS- Romana Blue by Julie Murphy was a clear winner amongst them), and how irritating siblings could be. We talked about boys and the upcoming camp dance.

I can tell you all about how camp normalizes cancer.

It does.

But more importantly Camp Sunshine gives weary souls a place to rest.

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Our Cabin’s Not-So-Secret Handshake.

May 25, 1989

At about this time in 1989 I was checking into the grown-up hospital in downtown Atlanta. I wasn’t scared, maybe a little anxious.

I knew what was happening that day.

I was also eight and a kid. The same age as my own second-grader who I helped on the bus this morning.

It’a my amputation anniversary.

It is a day I remember and celebrate. My amputation saved my life. I don’t suffer from it or feel helpless because of it. I just live my life a little differently.

I’m going to put more pink in my hair and take my kid to her end of the year picnic.

And I’m here to do it because of one surgery that irrevocably changed my life on this day in 1989.

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Not your inspiration.

 

525,600

Anyone who has done theater since the mid-90’s knows this.  It’s the most recognized song from the show RENT.

It’s the minutes in a year.

And for me, it’s the amount of time I’ve been without my mom.

I’ve had a lot of practice with grief. Years  of losing friends and peers. And what I’ve learned through my practice is that I actively hate it. I’m not good at it. I hate the feeling of sadness, the loneliness, this flesh-eating hole that swallows you up. I know I’ve said before how perpetually optimistic I am. And I am. Grief, that sadness, is the opposite of my optimism. And I think that’s part of the reason I hate it so much.

I had been dreading Thursday for about a month. I stopped looking at my memories on Facebook, seeing where just weeks before she died, my Mom had liked something destroyed me. They were so terribly bitter sweet because I knew what was coming. That Kati before April 13, didn’t know. She was blissful in her little happy world where she was writing, and raising her little family, keeping all of her ducks in a row.

And then death and grief knocked her world off by three feet.

Those first few weeks were like walking through a world I knew, but every thing just felt a little out of place.

But, there is a little relief in the one-year mark.

Because in those 525,600 minutes I have lived through all of the firsts without my mom. I have lived through our birthdays, holidays, random irritations at life, rejections, and writers block. I have lived through successes (both personal and professional) and exciting things, going back to camp, and performing again.

I have lived through them and at times the grief was so overwhelming I couldn’t swallow.

But I made it through this year. And I will make it through the next and the one after that. And though I will probably still reach for my phone and long to call her, I’ve done the first terrible year. And dude, can we all agree that 2016 was a hell of a year to do without someone?

There is hope. And with the hope is the ability to keep writing, keep performing, keep raising my family.

Today I am givin away five books to honor my sweet Mama. 

Head over to my Twitter (@KatiTheWriter) and reply to my thread. At 9:00 EST I’m giving away books! 

Because my mom loved books and I can celebrate her this way.

My Fears

I’ve been quiet here. Mostly because I’ve been working a lot lately. And that’s great. I love working and I love thinking about what I’m writing and all of that.

But also? I’ve been fearful.

 

In 1989 I was on my father’s insurance through his former employer. I had been diagnosed with cancer. I had three rounds of chemotherapy and we were making life altering surgical choices.

Then my insurance company told my parents they were dropping me.

Let that sink in for a minute.

On top of every decision that had to be made then my parents had to find a way to pay for 15 more rounds of chemotherapy (each requiring a hospitalization for up to five nights) and major surgery. Potentially more surgeries. Countless lab draws and scans. Clinic visits. Nurse visits. Prosthetics? Crutches? Physical therapy? All of these things.

My parents were able to come to terms with the insurance company and the employer that they would pay for COBRA. Which, for those of you lucky enough to know, is STUPIDLY EXPENSIVE.

I was mostly unaware of a lot of this going on. Mostly. I could see the tension in my mom’s face. I saw her talking with the billing specialists at the hospital. I heard snippets of conversations between her and the social worker at the hospital.

Fast forward to me graduating college. I was at the Long Term Survivors Clinic at the hospital where I’d been treated. I was graduating from the hospital and moving to the adult world of follow-up care. I was told that it was necessary for me to ALWAYS HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. Always. If I lapsed in coverage at any point in time I could be denied coverage in the future because of my pre-existing condition.

Then the ACA happened. And even though I’d always had coverage. Even though I had never really been denied coverage (I was denied a C-Leg by my insurance company, but I moved on). I remember breathing because it meant I could ALWAYS get coverage. And not go broke paying for it. That even though I now I had more health complications that were directly related to my cancer I would always get insurance.

But now? All of that is up in the air.

I still have insurance through an employer, but if this repeal goes through. If it goes through as it is written?

I won’t.

And I don’t have a nice way to close this entry. I can ask that you call your Representatives. If you can’t. Fax them.

It’s not about lower premiums or a free market. It is, quite literally, about lives.