Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bookanistas: Trauma Queen and...We have a Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan (bought at my favorite indie, Third Place Books)...   LOGAN!


Plot without spoilers...Marigold Bailey is sick of being the daughter of a performance artist.  Her mom's "art" presentations have even driven a wedge between Marigold and her best friend Emma.  Can Marigold ever forgive her mom for ruining her life--and is her mom even the person who needs forgiveness in the first place?

Of literary merit...From nail polish, to textile art, to vegetarian foods, Trauma Queen is a richly textured middle grade novel inhabited by unique, yet very relatable characters.  Marigold's prairie-days worshipping younger sister Kennedy and "good/bad girl" classmate Layla were particularly well-draw.

Finally, just gotta say...I especially enjoyed the description of the improv games and the way various characters related to their onstage work.  Coming from an arts background myself, these moments rang with authenticity for me.  A delightful middle grade novel that I read in one sitting!

What are the other Bookanistas belting about this week...?

Elana Johnson adores A Need So Beautiful

LiLa Roecker is gaga for Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?

Christine Fonseca interviews YA Fiction for Dummies author Deborah Halverson – with giveaway

Beth Revis interviews A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie author Matt Blackstone

Carolina Valdez Miller is wowed by Wildfire – with giveaway

Shana Silver and Veronica Rossi gush over Hourglass

Jen Hayley delves into Divergent

Rosemary Clement-Moore thinks Chime is divine

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cover Love!

This week, Veronica Rossi revealed the gorgeous cover of her debut novel UNDER THE NEVER SKY.  Go take a look and read her lovely thoughts HERE!  Veronica also blogs at the fabulous YA MUSES if you're seeking some terrific, warm and supportive writing advice.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My Writing Quirks Revealed!

I'm over at Matt Blackstone Books spilling about some of my oddities and obsessions.  Just some, mind you, since Matt gave me a word limit :)  If he hadn't, I probably could have written something the length of War & Peace.

Matt's debut novel, about a teen with OCD, pubs next month. Check it out HERE!

Friday, June 24, 2011


They say there's a season for everything but when you've got a book coming out, it's the season for everything all at once!  Finding time to work, time to parent, time to write and time to market said book is an immense challenge.  I've been moaning at chatting with writer friends, mom friends, and anyone else who'll listen to me whine and I've come to realize that, while prioritizing is good, there may actually be some things that I need to ADD to my to-do list so I don't turn into a zombie or something.  Here's what I've got:

1. Re-establish an exercise routine. I haven't been taking enough care of my physical self and I think I'd have more energy for the rest of life if I got back into shape NOW (not later).

2. Cut back on coffee and chocolate. The caffeine-and-sugar survival plan is not tenable long-term :)

3. Take a vacation.  This may sound a bit crazy but I think everyone needs the occasional computer-free weekend (at least) where they go outside and look at the ACTUAL SKY instead of just describing one on paper, and give the SPF-10million moisturizer they put on their face every morning a reason to be there.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bookanistas: Possession by Elana Johnson

Plot without spoilers...Violet Schoenfeld has always lived in the Goodlands, but she has not always been entirely good.  It's been worth breaking rules to be with handsome Zenn.  Then, suddenly, she is arrested and imprisoned by the Thinkers--the dominant, mind-controlling rulers of her world.  In prison, she meets handsome Badlander, Jag, and suddenly her feelings for Zenn, her beliefs about Goodies and Baddies, and even the mystery surrounding her lost father come into question.  Is Jag really who he says he is? And is Vi the person she believes herself to be?

Of literary merit...Readers are dropped headlong with Vi into a world of shifting alliances and terrifying technologies.  The world of "tech," from gadgets to simulations to monitoring systems, is dynamic and thoroughly realized.

Finally, just gotta say...Possession is both an action-packed dystopian thriller and a thought-provoking exploration of good versus bad, right versus wrong and, most importantly, the grey area where there is no perfect choice to be made.

What are the other Bookanistas breathlessly reading this week?

Elana Johnson adores Hourglass

Beth Revis has cover love for Incarnate

Shana Silver swoons over Supernaturally

Rosemary Clement-Moore jumps for Jinx

Gretchen McNeil is giddy about Moonglass

Sarah Frances Hardy brags about The Grandma Book

Carrie Harris raves about Variant

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reflections on Romance in YA

As part of "Camp Eve" over at Eve's Fan Garden, I was asked to share a few thoughts on romance in Young Adult novels, so...

I started to write this really long, issue-driven post about romance in YA, its potential boundaries, how it relates to the definition of the genre…all that stuff. Honestly, I started to bore myself. Or maybe I’m just tired from working on my new manuscript. Anyway, I decided to try the old writer trick of going the memory route.

At my first backward glance, I thought, "Gee, I wasn’t a romantic kid." My dreams were about being a great performer or playwright. Honestly, I didn’t have a serious boyfriend until college. Can you say uber-ballerina-geek? But, if I squeeze my eyes shut more tightly, dig back into that dark miasma of unpleasant high school years, a thousand memories of THINKING about romance float into my mind. I thought about romance a lot. I had a crush on somebody almost every day. I swooned over smart boys, theatre geeks, jocks (very occasionally), student council types, sometimes even teachers. When a boy occasionally flirted back, I retreated. Oh, the stories I could tell about embarrassing retreats… Ah, for another day.

What I came to realize is that all that time, I was looking to grow up. My crushes were a timid way of wanting to see myself reflected in other (er, handsome) people. I admired the talent of the boy with the lead in the school play, thus I was in love with him. I envied the way the boy in the front row of math class raced through what (to me) were agonizing calculus problems, ergo, heart palpitations. Small children mature by understanding their separateness from their parents, discovering their own agency. In young adulthood (and partly thanks to hormones), we re-attach our independent self to another person of our choosing: Someone with a talent we admire, an attitude we wish we had, or even, sometimes, someone who just drives us inexplicably crazy.

I raise my eyes to a shelf laden with books by Sarah Dessen, Courtney Summers, Jandy Nelson, Gayle Forman, and Judy Blundell. What I admire in these books is what the romantic relationships they feature reveal about their main characters. In the boy (or girl) we love, we see the dream we almost don’t dare to dream, the rebellion in which we may or may not enlist, the answers we seek about ourselves.

For more authors' thoughts on romance in YA, click on over to Eve's Fan Garden today!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm telling tales over at Eve's Fan Garden

Sharing a few fun facts about my culinary preferences, geekish qualities, and memories of summer camp...

Check it out HERE!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I love my local library.  It's neither huge, nor fancy, but the librarians are delightful and the place is always humming with kids and adults.  There's this wonderful sculpture of a bronze frog sitting on a carved wooden book in the children's section.  By the teen shelves is a black-and-white egg chair (very Star Trek) in which my kids always want to sit.  I've brought toddlers to storytime there, culled the biography and science shelves for myriad school projects, and frequently visit the YA section to see what's new. A trip to this library always brightens my day. Like many writers, I guess the library is just a place that feels like home to me.

Last week, I made an appointment with the super-sweet Children & Teen's Librarian, Pam, to talk about offering a writing workshop for teens this summer.  We had a fantastic chat and I'm on the August calendar.  So exciting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A theatrical writing tip from Lena Roy

"I am a writer with the sensibility of an actress. I love translating acting exercises into writing prompts. One of my favorite ones is for character development. I used to sit on the subway and look at everyone’s shoes across from me, and I would pick a pair to focus on. What kind of person are they? Where are they going? How do they hold their body? Where do they hold their tension? How are they different from me? Then I would get off the subway, and get into character, walking around in a different body. You can do the same with writing!"
--Lena Roy, author of EDGES (FSG, 2010)

Why does Lena write like an actress?  Read her audition story HERE!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bookanistas: GIRL, STOLEN by April Henry

Plot without spoilers…Griffin meant to steal a car, not kidnap a girl. But in his haste to escape, he didn’t realize there was a passenger in the back seat. Cheyenne--sixteen, ill with pneumonia, and blind—has already lost her mother and her sight. She is not about to have her life stolen, too.

Of literary interest…Told from the alternating viewpoints of Cheyenne and Griffin, the book has great elements of fast-paced adventure, but is also a musing on how life can change in an instant and, perhaps, how one can make peace with people who have caused you pain. I am no authority on this but I felt the author really connected me, as the reader, to the plight of a blind protagonist, in the way she describes both Cheyenne’s use of her other senses and the limited visual experiences Cheyenne still has.

Finally, just gotta say…Cheyenne is a terrific main character, compelling and realistic. This book reads like a movie to me. I felt my heart racing as I read to the finish line!

What are the other Bookanistas lovin' this week?

Beth Revis interviews Hourglass author Myra McEntire – with giveaway

Christine Fonseca and Rosemary Clement-Moore devour Bad taste in Boys

Shannon Messenger croons over Uncommon Criminals – with giveaway

Myra McEntire invites Possession author Elana Johnson into the Fort

Shana Silver gushes about Bloodlines – with arc giveaway

Jen Hayley is mesmerized by Imaginary Girls

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: Possesssion Virtual Launch Party Tomorrow!

What a busy week in cyberspace.  Tuesday, WriteOnCon, and...

Tomorrow at 9 PM EST, goddess-of-the-blogospohere, fellow Bookanistas, and awesome author Elana Johnson is holding a virtual launch party for her novel, POSSESSION.

You'll need to go here and then click on the "chat" tab.

I must admit that I've never actually participated in a virtual launch party.  I'm pretty much techno-stupid and these type of things scare me a little bit.  BUT that is actually why I am so excited to participate in Elana's event.  I know that it will be extraordinary and that I'll learn a ton--about her book and about how to have fun at a virtual fiesta.

So...I'll be there.  Hope you will, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My East Coast Marketing Team!

Okay, not my OFFICIAL Penguin team, but my very sweet and adorable family team:  My niece, who handed out bookmarks to her whole class.  My mother-in-law, who's getting all of her neighbors to pre-order the book on Amazon.  My sister-in-law, who has churned out about a zillion marketing ideas and whose enthusiasm for the book is just so lovely.  A giant cyber-hug to you all!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Back-to-Business Monday: My Agent...

...who totally rocks, will be doing a live Write on Con event with NYT best-selling author Becca Fitzpatrick.

It's tomorrow!
Click HERE for the details
(or go to
and join the conversation. 

Should be a blast!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Audition tips from Nichelle

Today, Dance Advantage publisher Nichelle Strzepek shares audition tips at A Year of Auditions

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bookanistas: BAD TASTE IN BOYS by Carrie Harris

Carrie Harris goes all the way. And I don’t think she’d mind my saying that because it’s true—in her writing. Her book about high school and popularity and zombies and football is BEYOND funny because she never steps back from the edge. Her zombies don’t just stalk around. They puke and grab and bite (literally). Her main character, Kate, is smart, snarky, silly and insecure—sometimes all at the same time. BAD TASTE IN BOYS is the kind of book you’ll pick up and won’t put down until you reach the end because you just won’t want to stop laughing (sometimes while wincing). So, I guess Carrie will make you go all the way, too.

(I know this isn’t my standard review format, but Carrie makes you want to break the mold.)

What are the other Bookanistas drooling over this week?

Elana Johnson savors Bad Taste in Boys, too!

LiLa Roecker celebrates The Summer of the Bear

Christine Fonseca has got a surprise for a Bookanista buddy (ooh—curious?)

Shelli Johannes-Wells raves about A Need So Beautiful

Beth Revis interviews Blood Magic author Teresa Gratton

Carolina Valdez Miller enjoys a special celebration

Jessi Kirby and Megan Miranda gush about Imaginary Girls

Bethany Wiggins is crazy about Delirium

Shana Silver sings praises for Starcrossed

Jen Hayley applauds Possession

Veronica Rossi hails Hereafter

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordy Wednesday: Awesome Writer People

Some days on the road to publication are tougher than others. Though at first it seems like getting an agent and selling a book means you've beaten the odds, it turns out you've just upped the ante--found odds with higher stakes and steeper falls. If you're a compulsive rule-follower like me, you discover that there's a HUGE amount of work involved in trying to give your book the best possible launch into the world.  And your family and friends, who love you and are so proud of you, find it hard to believe you can be such a wreck just months before the publication of YOUR N.O.V.E.L.

It can feel very lonely. But there are people who understand.  This week, especially, these writer-people HEARD me.

Jessi Kirby, whose kind note and
perfect little gift made me smile!
Carrie Harris, my clone sister,
who totally gets it!

Conrad Wesselhoeft, who handed out my bookmarks
at HIS author appearance!

(If you want to about great books at lovely blogs,visit Carrie's and Jessi's and Conrad's)

They didn't say, "oh, your book will do great" or "it's all gonna be fine." Nope.  They said, "I get it" and "How can I help" and, most of all, "KEEP WRITING."  Because, in the end, the truth for me is that I write because I would rather be writing than doing most anything else.

And I have to remember that part when things get too scary.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Happy Book Birthday, Elana Johnson!


And, just for fun, here's how I look as a barcode (heehee!):

(It's my profile pic on Twitter @swkehoe, too!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Back-to-Business Monday: Taught by Teens

I had a most amazing morning on Saturday.  Inspired by some advice from SCBWI-WWa colleague Carol Lucas, I held a get-together for ACTUAL TEEN READERS to talk about the books they read, how and when they read them, and how they find them.  We met in the Starbucks corner of our local B&N and had a very fun chat. 

Kathryn, Sarah H., Erika, Alice, Colleen, Katy, Britta, Katrina, Mia & Sarah B. represented girls ranging from (almost finished with) eighth grade to college sophomores.  They were all super-nice and so gracious about giving up their morning to enlighten a forty-something newbie writer.  I brought a bunch of arcs along to share with them.  The one that sparked the most interest was Kieran Scott's HE'S SO NOT WORTH IT.

It is amazing how much the girls know about Facebook.  It is definitely their go-to social media resource.  They belong to groups for everything from sports teams to prom committee, and use the event/invitation feature, tagging, etc.  Some of them "like" authors, bands, etc., but not excessively.  One of the girls, who does follow some authors, mentioned that she got annoyed when she'd "accidentally" find herself on the author's website via their like page, preferring to get all of her information while on Facebook. They also explained some details of "like" pages of which I was unaware--very helpful stuff for techno-dense folks like me :)

The girls also had lots of suggestions for fun websites to visit, favorite teen magazines, and so much more that I'm still digesting.  It's quite incredible how much these teens do, and how capable they seem to be at managing their time and keeping focused on their interests despite the barrage of advertisers, etc., trying to get their attention.  Wow!  Way more savvy than I ever was (or am).

I was so grateful to all the girls for their time.  I hope they had some fun. For me, the conversation opened the door to many more questions.  Oh, and I'm definitely going to learn how to vlog!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Almost Too Much Awesomeness for One Friday

First, the super-charismatic Gretchen McNeil has a new trailer for POSSESS and it is, well amazingly-spooktacularly, incredibly...well, just watch it yourself!

Next, from the supernatural to the supersweet, fellow Viking author Katy Longshore (GIRL IN A DIAMOND COLLAR, Fall 2012) is sharing a stage story over at A YEAR OF AUDITIONS.  Click on over to read about Shakespeare, boys and screaming lunatics (okay, so it's not entirely spook-free).  You heard me!  Not curious enough yet?  Check out this:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bookanistas: DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

My secretary & Delirium!
 Plot without spoilers…Lena cannot wait to turn eighteen so that she can have the procedure that will prevent her from succumbing to “deliria”—or love. The government is right, isn’t it? The cure makes civilization safe, and the world run smoothly. Then, she meets Alex and they fall in love. Suddenly, Lena begins to question the worth of a life without strong emotion, without pain--without poetry.

Of literary interest…Each chapter of the novel begins with a quotation from a fictional but realistic-sounding source such as the government’s “Safety, Health and Happiness Handbook,” a “proverb” or even a nursery tale that sounds almost as if it could be from our own world. These headings give the book a very near-future feeling.

Finally, just gotta say…A great love story set in an incredibly authentic-feeling dystopian world, complete with its own literary canon.

What are the other Bookanistas going crazy about this week?

Elana Johnson gushes over Blood Magic

LiLa Roecker & Shelli Johannes-Wells adore Hourglass

Christine Fonseca raves about Cryer’s Cross – with giveaway

Shannon Messenger applauds A Need So Beautiful – with giveaway

Megan Miranda has a passion for Possession

Carolina Valdez Miller sees beauty in Between Shades of Gray

Bethany Wiggins finds Bad Taste in Boys delicious

Shana Silver celebrates A Need So Beautiful

Carrie Harris thinks Wrapped simply rocks

Rosemary Clement-Moore is giddy about Hourglass

Sarah Frances Hardy finds the awesome in Okay for Now

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Winner & BEA Best-of!

First, the winner of a signed copy of DRAMARAMA by E. Lockhart is JESSICA LOVE.

Next, better late than never and with apologies for my (typical) lack of picture-taking, here are a few "Guiness Book" experiences from BEA 2011:

1. Heaviest Arc - WHY WE BROKE UP by Daniel Handler (aka that Lemony dude) & Maira Kalman (aka awesome artist chic).  Boy that paper is fancy or maybe it's DH's signature that makes it so weighty! Look out for a giveaway of this one, soon!

2. Best Invented Word - "Kick-assery" with credit to Teen Author Carnival panelist/Angelfire author Courtney Allison Moulton.

3. Ultimate Swag Bags - a two-way tie:

Cutest-adopted by
Batman as a bunny

Most colorful

 4. Fangirliest (perhaps inventing my own word here) Moment - meeting romance author Anna DeStefano whose lecture on revision at the Surrey International Writers Conference (CA) a few years back was A HUGE HELP to me as I was writing/revising Audition.  You seriously would not believe how much (or how long) I gushed.  BTW, she was super-nice!

5. Yummiest Fun - Dinner with fellow Bookanistas Michelle Hodkin, Matt Blackstone, Kirsten Hubbard, Shana Silver and Gretchen McNeil.  (Sadly, they are ALL younger than me. Sighs.)