Friday, December 31, 2010

Fiction Friday: What to read on New Year's Eve?

I know, I know, it's New Year's Eve and I should party.  But it's very cold here in the mountains.  So, after watching the skiers' annual torchlight parade around 8 pm (a gorgeous scene about which I should probably someday write), I'm going home with family and friends to cozy up by the fire with a hot cocoa (oh yeah, I'm that wild).  Here's what I'll be reading:

If  you're feeling lucky on the eve of this new year, enter my CENTURY-STYLE giveaway to win a copy of any YA novel first published in 2010 (your choice) plus a surprise century-old classic!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Celebrate the New Year with Cool YA Book Swag

Gearing up for a party tomorrow?  Start celebrating today...

YA Bookshelf is hosting a cool Out With A Bang reading mini-challenge.

While you're in an entering mode, check out my Century Style Giveaway.

And do leave a comment if you know of other end-of-year contests I should be entering.  Thanks!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordy Wednesday: GIFT GUILT

First...Don't forget to enter to win your FAVORITE YA NOVEL OF 2010 (you choose) plus a century-old classic.

Next...Guess what I got for Christmas?
On the one hand, there's the whole e-book controversy and the question of how virtual books will affect publishers' and authors' bottom lines.  And, from a romantic perspective, I do love the feel of crisp, dry pages, the smell of ink on paper, and the beauty of a great book cover.  So, I am a bit conflicted about my new techno-gadget.

On the other hand, I do a lot of writing in a tiny town high up in the mountains where there is neither bookstore nor library but lots of quiet evenings reading by the fire.  And these days, packing books in your airline luggage can be a costly and cumbersome proposition.  So I'm thinking I'll read many more books with this new device.

First on the list?  So buying FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers (truth--already finished it--awesome--review coming soon), A LITTLE WANTING SONG by Cath Crowley, THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney, PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A. S. King, and MATCHED by Allie Condie.  That's day one!  Thinking this Kindle thing may put me in the poor house!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to Business Monday: A SWEET TWEET BOOK PRIZE!!!

Okay, I'll admit to a mild Twitter addiction.  So because I'm not ready for the holiday gift-giving to end AND in anticipation of the upcoming New Year AND because I'm going to try an experiment with a Twitter contest countdown, I'm sharing some "Tweet" love with...

for one lucky winner!

What'll you get? 
ANY YOUNG ADULT NOVEL YOU'D LIKE ($20 limit!) first published in 2010 plus a copy of a 1910 classic children's book (can you guess it?).

How do you enter?
Leave a comment here at the blog naming your 2010 book of choice PLUS a contact email. 

What DON'T you have to do?
Follow my blog, retweet my contest, follow-me-on-Twitter, friend me on Facebook or any of that stuff (I hate pressure) though I won't complain if you do!

How will I choose a winner?
As usual, I will write each entrant's name on a slip of paper, and place them all in a stainless steel mixing bowl from which my assistant, Batman, will draw the winner.  Hoping someday to have enough people enter my contests that I'll have to figure out how to use those cool Google contest entering gadgets but, for now, let's just say your chances of winning are likely pretty good!

The deadline for entry is 1 PM EST on Thursday, January 6, 2011, and the winner will be announced here at the blog (I'll also contact you) on Friday, January 7.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

AUDITION is on Goodreads!

I've read all the stuff about how you shouldn't use your blog to promote your book too much but here's the story... Christmas Day is drawing to a close.  Batman's asleep and the big boys are playing with their new games and reading their new books.  Husband and dog are dozing by the fire. Compulsive writer-chick (me) pops onto Facebook to see which friends have posted adorable pix of their kids.  Somehow, I wind up on Goodreads and discover (not quite sure how I got there) that AUDITION is now listed..

There's no cover, just a placeholder and I'm not on any lists or anything, but WOW.  Somehow I find it so cool!  Merry Christmas to me :) 

Friday, December 24, 2010


Festive lights, caroling, baking cookies, and wrapping presents are all wonderful but, for me, December is not complete without seeing The Nutcracker Ballet. I began taking ballet lessons at age four and didn't completely stop until my knees gave out nearly thirty years later. Some of my favorite holiday memories are of feeling that particular excitement of waiting backstage for YOUR Nutcracker music to begin--of being part of something so magical and beautiful. As an adult, my tastes in ballet have expanded from the great story ballets to also appreciate the experimental and non-narrative, to enjoy modern and ethnic dance forms. Still, I don't think Nutcracker at Christmastime is something I'll ever outgrow.

There are nearly as many storybook retellings of The Nutcracker as there are versions of this ballet produced in America. A favorite of mine is the Maurice Sendak-illustrated version. Sendak also designed sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's gorgeous production.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE!  Hope you're enjoying some of your own festive traditions.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Feelin' festive and don't want to stop the giving, so I'm thinking of having a contest here at the blog.  The only question is whether that between-Christmas-and-New-Years is really a good time to hold a contest.  Will anyone be reading blogs?  Or will the blogosphere be too quiet for a really fun contest?  Personally, I do tend to meander round the interwebs when I'm on vacation but maybe most people have more self control and are actually able to unplug.

Have you found a particularly good time of year to hold contests or other blog events?  Any words of advice as I gear up for what I hope will be a winter full of fun contests?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back to Business Monday: COOKIN' & BOOKIN'

Maybe it's because I've got a cold.  Or perhaps because there's such beautiful snow outside my window, but I confess, I don't feel like blogging or working or doing anything today except baking...

(seriously wish I'd made these)

 ...and crafting and getting all festive. 

I recently discovered Maggie Smith's utterly charming compendium of recipes, crafts, and warm winter tales:

So, what am I going to do?  Put in my minimum two hours of writing time and then head on over to the kitchen for some serious cookie baking with the kids.

Are you feeling festive?  In need of a break?  In posession of an awesome Christmas book?
Do share!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiction Friday: PLOT OR CHARACTER (a "hoppin'" question)

Book Blogger Hop

Hopping along this holiday season with Crazy-for-Books' Book Blogger Hop.  The topic this week, straight from Geek on the Brink, is (drumroll please)...

What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?

This is a great question.  I feel that character is at the center of every novel.  This is not to say that I don't want a good story but, for me, an excellent story means that the main character behaves in an authentic way at every turn.  Each twist of the plot comes from a choice the character makes and I need to believe completely in that choice--that this is the action s/he would take at that moment--to continue to be drawn forward into the story.

Agree?  Disagree?  Feel like joining along in the hop?  Lots of places to click above or comment below.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordy Wednesday: #YALITCHAT

I'm delighted to be a part of an awesome website, Dear Teen Me, at which authors write letters to their teen selves.  I could explain how amazing, hilarious and inspiring it is but, oh, JUST GO ON OVER and check it out for yourself.

If you're interested in learning more about Dear Teen Me and the authors involved in the project, the amazing Georgia McBride is featuring the project on #YALITCHAT tonight (Wednesday 12/15) from 9-11 PM EST on Twitter.  I'll be there @swkehoe.  Come on over and join the conversation!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back-to-Business Monday: AUTHOR BIO ADVENTURES

Well, my website author bio is written.  It's too long.  But I'm going to let it simmer a few days (just like a manuscript, though I let those simmer longer) and then, hopefully, edit it down.  Meanwhile, here are two fun pix and some bio-related thoughts.

I'm the littlest one in tutu- right

Ballerina-me at age 16
 1. As I wrote the bio, I realized that some of this material might be better in another part of the website, such as an "advice to writers" page or as part of my also-coming-in-March A YEAR OF AUDITIONS blog.

2. In this process, I've realized that I spent about a decade dancing before every trying writing, so it's hard to make the early-life part seem like a writer bio when it's mostly a dancer bio.  (This problem remains unresolved.)

3. I remember quite clearly when I started to enjoy writing (eighth grade).

4. I am not hugely fond of writing about myself.  Much prefer writing fiction.  Even doing revisions :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fiction Friday: ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS

This month, some of my favorite bloggers have been gushing about Stephanie Perkins' debut novel. 

So today, I finally made it to my local B&N, bought my copy (and a mocha), and raced home to my favorite reading chair from which I did not rise for three hours.  Yep.  Read it from cover to cover.  Just like that.  Will probably read it again, too.  Here, without spoilers but with French numbering, are four reasons why.

UN - Paris, oh la la.  From Notre Dame to the corner creperie, this novel just makes you feel like you're there -- or seriously WANT to visit the city of lights.

DEUX - Anna Oliphant (Banana Elephant), a heartbreakingly honest, occassionally romantically dimwitted, supremely likeable narrator.

TROIS - Ultimate prep school-iness - a pitch-perfect rendering of elite boarding school life with a European flair (wait until you read about the SOAP cafeteria).

QUATRE -  One imperfectly perfect, shortish, tousle-haired history buff named Etienne St. Claire!

Oh, now I'm just going all swoony.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordy Wednesday: VERIFICATION

First, as I've been assigning myself weekly blog maintenance tasks, I may be getting carried away.  Do let me know if you like the new layout (added L & R columns, search box, my name in the subhead, and a "grown-up" profile pic).

Now, on to more serious matters...I am such a word nerd that I've actually been tracking the un-words I've had to type in the process of posting comments on blogs?  Has it struck you that frequently, the un-words feel almost like real words? Searching the web for images to illustrate this point, I found hilarious pictures of verification words that named historical villains, described amorous activities, and even accidentally wished you well.  In moments of astonishing procrastination, I play stupid wordgames like this one in which I make up definitions for verification pseudo-words.

bundly - A state of being well-dressed for cold weather

badmer - Opposite of a goodmer, which would be interesting if "mer" meant anything in English.  Well, it is a prefix referring to the sea, so "bad sea," perhaps in the vicinity of a BP oil rig.

eulgab - When a person goes on too long while delivering a euology

creeing - Rhymes with... (okay, my ten-year-old suggested this one)

smsist  -  No, you tiny virtual person, I "sim-sist"!

frostsom  - When the grass on your front lawn is covered with frost, the yard looks frostsom

Seen any funnies lately?  Got better definitions?  Been gifted with a "kindly" or "fudgy" verification word lately? Know a more insanely, time-wasting web game?  Think I should take a break from the blogosphere?  Drop a comment!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back-to-Business Monday: ON-TASK TWEETING

First, check out the nifty labels on my last seven months of posts (or don't, really, what a dull idea).  Anyhow, my menial web-presence-maintenance task of last week is accomplished.  This week I am going to write the "about the author" page for my website and decide which old photos to include with the text.  Look forward to a sneak peak of me as a teeny ballerina next week!

Another thing I've been trying out is Tweeting.  So far, here is what I've learned:

1. It can be rather addictive and there's almost always some amazing writing chat going on or a cool book give-away contest to enter.

2. There's some super-annoying spam out there for writers (surely you've read about that writers needed thingy) that found me almost instantly (blocking as best I can with my limited technological ability).

3. MOST IMPORTANT!  It is surprisingly hard to find that line between tweeting about life and tweeting about writer-life.  This morning I found myself Tweet-musing on the deliciousness of Fritos with a sandwich.  Really, this is not the kind of thing I should be dumping into the Tweet feed BUT I know that regular Tweeting is important AND I'm a little uncomfortable just retweeting cool blog posts and talking about my own writing career so...are Fritos okay?

Do you worry about staying "on-task" with your Tweets?  Where do you draw the line?  Do you like Fritos?

Friday, December 3, 2010


As we reach the last month of 2010 (my book will be on shelves in LESS THAN A YEAR - eek!!!), I'm finding many lovely ways to reflect on what I've read this year and plan for 2011. Here are three fun links for getting your YA fiction house in order for the new year:

Discover a great blog and cast your vote!

Feeling high-tech? Anticipating an e-reader this holiday season?

Celebrate the YA/MG debut authors of 2011
by reading at least a dozen of their bright and shiny new novels
(okay, shameless plug here for AUDITION).
I've mentioned this one before but, well, it rocks!

Are you taking any challenges next year?  Share the linky goodness, please!  And Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordy Wednesday: NanoFAILMo

I've been seeing this word all over the interwebs this week and it's making me a little blue.  A few Novembers back, I completed a 50k NaNo manuscript.  It was fun, the constant writing was a rush and all that but, in the end, the most important thing I took away from the experience was a better understanding of myself as a writer (I don't imagine that manuscript will ever see the light of day).  Turns out, I can churn out mediocre prose quite rapidly and am willing to shut down the inner critic if neccessary.  However, I don't particularly LIKE writing that way.  And the first draft that I produced was so weak that the thought of revising it made me a little bit queasy. 

I am not an outliner because I worry that if I make a list of plot "rules," my efforts to follow them may keep me from being completely true to my characters.  I'm a huge fan of "and then what did s/he think/say/do...?"  That said, I do a lot of character backstory work--reading the books they read, studying their hobbies.  For my new manuscript, I actually went to NYC and took photographs of the apartment building in which I wanted my mc to live.  NONE of this would probably count in a NaNo ms, but it's definitely writing!

I guess what I want to say is that, hey, if you participated in NaNo and wrote a 50k word ms, neat.  But if you didn't get to the magical 50k finish line, you DID NOT FAIL.  You were writing, thinking, learning...trying.  That's what the process is all about.

So, congratulations!  (And stop beating up on yourselves!)