Monday, April 30, 2012

Back-to-Business: WRITING FATIGUE

There are several kinds of fatigue in the writer-verse.

REVISION FATIGUE -- you are so sick of your story you never want to see it again.  Also, you never want to see a comma, a quotation mark, or red pencils of any sort.

SUBMISSION FATIGUE -- you just don't want to send your next ms in because you can't bear the emotional exhaustion of the submission process.

READING FATIGUE -- that pile of arcs on your bedside table?  Well, it isn't getting any smaller.  And there are three packages on your kitchen counter that you know hold MORE ARCs but you just don't have the heart to open them.  You start thinking all your rants against television-watching were premature.  Plus, you've become addicted to Dance Moms (the original--the Miami one is kind of lame).

WRITING FATIGUE -- your arse is sore and you just don't want to sit at the keyboard anymore. It's sunny outside and even though you consider yourself an indoor sort, you have this sudden urge to, I dunno, go kayak on a lake or something.  That would be if your arms weren't permanently bent into typing position.

PROMOTION FATIGUE -- you are sick of pimping your book and yourself.  Sick of Bookscan, Amazon Author Central, Goodreads, Google Alerts.  You know too much.  You think nostalgically of your innocent prepublication days but in publishing and, er, other stuff, you just can't go back to holding hands.

I may have them all.

Yawn. Y-A-W-N!

You got any?

Friday, April 27, 2012


I'm gearing up for some fun at the Tumwater Timberland Library  (7023 New Market St SW, Tumwater, WA / (360) 943-7790) this Saturday, April 28,  from 2-3:30, where I'll be on a panel with...

Melissa Meyer, Jennifer Wolf, Danny Marks, Megan Bostic, J. Anderson Coats, Helen Landalf and Kiki Hamilton.

So, um, beyond the awesome of spending time with such a great group of writers--and readers (come!!!), I was thinking about reasons I enjoy group author events.  Here are my top 6.

1. Serious shop talk.  Revision tips, works-in-progress gripes, business woes.  Luuuurve shop talk.
2. Less pressure and more fun. Even if the event turnout is low, we writers are in it together.
3. See how other writers structure their presentations and get ideas for improving one's own appearance plans.
4. Laughs.  Writing is a serious, lonely business. When we find ourselves in a room with Actual People, we writers tend to get giggly. In a good way.  Mostly.
5. Okay, in all honesty, I decided to list six because I'm a writer and I liked the assonance of SIX SUPER (sounds so much better than FIVE super, doesn't it?).  Yet, now, I'm stumped so, uh, that's my five.  Embarassing writer admission.  Well, at least I didn't rhyme!
6. Afterwards, we often partake of wine.  Or chocolate.  If the stars align, both! And, btw, the more the merrier so if you're an aspiring MG or YA writer or just an avid reader, come, chat, and celebrate with us!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bookanistas: BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Disclaimer: I first met Jennifer Shaw Wolf in the "virtual world" when we took an online writing class with the amazing Ann Gonzalez.  Though we did not know it then, both of us would soon become agented, published writers.  And, because I've taken a writing class with Jennifer, I can assure you that she is the real deal: Passionate about her craft and brimming with spectacular ideas.

BREAKING BEAUTIFUL is Jennifer's gorgeous debut novel, just out this week.  It is the story of Allie, who survives the terrible wreck that kills her boyfriend, Trip.  But was it an accident?  And can there be such a thing is a love triangle between a girl, a boy...and a ghost?

This novel is part romance, part mystery.  Partly about a girl grappling with past abuse, partly about a girl learning to recognize an artist.  And like love, like art, very little is black-and-white. There are so many layers of character, such exquisitely textured relationships, that I chose not to write my standard "just gotta say" review line because I was worried that I might give something important away that readers should have the pleasure of discovering for themselves.   A gorgeous read.

Here are some more beautiful books, courtesy of the Bookanistas!
Elana Johnson more than “likes” BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS
Nikki Katz is crazy about CREWEL
Katy Upperman wonders at WANDERLOVE
Tracy Banghart takes a shine to A MILLION SUNS
Jessica Love is wowed by WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Conferences (and a book signing)

It's Monday and I'm back at my desk after a ten days so whirlwind they're worthy of a Dickens-esque title! Here's the recap with pictures.

April 13: Joined Rosanne Parry for a wonderful Book Fan Friday event at Powell's Bookstore where we were joined by a very talented group from the Portland Symphonic girlchoir. Lots of fun giving a mini-writing workshop for the singers and audience!  Plus I had the pleasure of grabbing a bite with Rosanne and the ever-amazing Sara of, who has authored a fantastic graphic novel biography of Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins (a must-have volume for all who love things Mockingjay!).

April 17: Hopped a plane to Houston for the A-MA-ZING 2012 Texas Library Association conference where I participated in a Texas Author Tea with the likes of (wait for it) Orson Scott Card, Deb Caletti, and so many more amazing folks. Presented on a poetry panel with Douglas Florian and Guadalupe Garcia McCall. Went to a cocktail party where I shook hands with John Green and Neal Schusterman.  Dined with Megan Walker and Allen Zadoff.  Hung out tons with Bookanista buddies Megan Miranda and Jessi Kirby.  Oh, heck, I could name-drop all day but instead I'll finish by saying that the MOST AMAZING PART of TxLA was the incredible librarians and book bloggers I met (many in person for the first time) whose passion for and support of YA brought, well, SQUEALS (oh, just ask @JessiKirby or @GReads for the embarassing details). You can also read a nice TxLA wrap-up at Mundie Moms:
with Jessi & Kari of

Out-of-focus pic of an amazing dinner with bloggers & fellow DEAR TEEN ME contributors.

Cowgirl hatted and ready for Texas Tea with Jessi Kirby!

With Jessi and Ginger of
With Stacey of

Friday evening it was back in the air and jetting west to Redmond, WA, for SCBWI Western Washington's annual spring conference to do a panel with Kiki Hamilton, Ben Clanton & Deb Lund (here are the deets:

Disclaimer: This is not my ordinary life.  Or even a semi-ordinary week for me. This was insane, wild, exhausting, super-fun.  Now, I'm back home at the computer, writing and wishing for chocolate (also, a nap!).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bookanistasa: MEDUSA THE MEAN and the whole mythology thing

In my opinion, middle grade is a tricky space for writing.  Especially in the 21st century when gradeschoolers have cellphones and internet access and are all kinds of savvy that I certainly wasn't at 10 or 11 or 12.  Sometimes when this slippery mixture of sophistication and immaturity makes me scared to work on a middle grade piece, I think about mythology.

Many kids go through a period of fascination with the Greek myths.  I remember gifting my eldest (now a teenager) with D'Aulaire's Greek Myths.  He went from there to a quirky little series called Myth-o-Mania (this series, btw, has been reissued due to long-standing popularity) then on to Edith Hamilton's Mythology. The myths are not stories for the faint of heart--for folks who don't want to think about BIG questions of love and loyalty. This mythology interest suggests that middle graders want to confront big issues even if they don't have driver's licenses or credit cards.  They are concerned about their friends, their families and their futures.  They have a lot to learn--but also a lot to say.  The whole mythology thing is, to me, heartening.  It is one of the things that gets me excited about writing for this readership.

Which brings me to Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub's contribution to the myths-for-middle-graders canon.  The Goddess Girls series is set in a mythical high school populated by teen versions of the Greek greats.  And they deal with issues of fitting in, of reputation and of growing up with Grecian style and lots of fun.  MEDUSA THE MEAN is no exception--imagine trying to be popular with a snakes-on-your-head hairdo!  This is a brightly written story perfect for girls seeking a break from 700-page Harry Potter marathons.  It's a brisk, confidence-building read for those middle-graders struggling to think those big, grown-up thoughts while still hanging on to a bit of their childhoods.

Head over to for more Bookanista goodness!

Monday, April 16, 2012

TxLA Yahoo!!!

I'm packing my bags and heading to Houston for the Texas Library Association Conference.  I am so looking forward to connecting with some great writer friends, bloggers, and of course librarians!

WILL YOU BE IN TEXAS?  Tweet me @swkehoe.  Or you can find me at the events below. And, IF YOU COME TO MY SIGNING & say you came because you read this blog post, I'll give you a PRESENT!  Oh yeah!
Wednesday, April 18
*12:00 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. Texas Tea with YA Authors Hilton Hotel, 1600 Lamar Street, Lanier Grand Ballroom JK, Level 4

Friday, April 20th
*9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Author Signing in the Author Signing Area, Aisle #4
*10:00 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Face to Face for All (F2F4L) 8th Poetry Roundup with  Douglas Florian, Dana Jensen, Timothy McLaughlin, and Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  Moderated by Sylvia Vardell,
George R. Brown Convention Center, Room 360 CF, Level 3

ALSO, for those in the know, I've got me a black-and-silver boa. Sparkle time!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Hey, Oregonians! COME SEE ME TOMORROW (April 13) at POWELL'S BOOKS at Cedar Hills Crossing (3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR (503/228-4651)) from 4:30-5:30 PM. Author Rosanne Parry, some talented young performers and I will discuss writing about the performing arts, sign books and all that jazz!

NOW, more importantly, the Bookanista business!

Kim Culbertson, the author of SONGS FOR A TEENAGE NOMAD and INSTRUCTIONS FOR A BROKEN HEART (don't you just love her titles?) has published a terrific e-book novella, THE LIBERATION OF MAX McTRUE

Recently, I've spoken to several authors who have chosen to make shorter, novella-length works available as e-books.  I'm getting increasingly excited by this concept because (1) it enables fans to read more without having to endure the sometimes very-long wait between traditionally published books and (2) it's a way for authors to share pieces that just don't fit easily into a full-length book model. Hence I found myself reading this e-charmer by Kim Culbertson..

MAX McTRUE is a boy you know--a seemingly ordinary boy who appears to be perfectly content with the course of his life.  Until one day: The day this story takes place.  Culbertson manages to be both achingly honest and brightly entertaining in her depiction of the enormity of the journey Max takes in merely hours.  You'll read the novella that quickly, too, and finish, maybe tearing up a bit, maybe smiling ruefully, but surely reflecting on what it means to be a teenager facing the challenge of "growing up."

Definitely at the top of my "downloads that stopped me from being an e-book skeptic" list. It'll be on yours, too.  Is there an e-book or two that got you excited about this mode of publication?  Lemme know!

And, for more Bookanista goodness, click along...
Christine Fonseca gives a shout out for REGRET

Carrie Harris swoons for STRUCK
Corrine Jackson cries heaps over STORY OF A GIRL
Katy Upperman delights in GRACELING
Tracy Banghart shares some CLARITY and PERCEPTION
Jessica Love cheers for THE SCORPIO RACES
Hilary Wagner hosts a Guest Post by Author Aaron Kato on YA Voice

Monday, April 9, 2012


May I begin by saying that I love blogging. 
I love connecting with book bloggers who are so passionate about the YA genre.  I love getting to answer questions about my craft, my characters, my chocolate-versus-chips preferences. I love winning swag :)

However, of late I've spoken with several authors who are having difficulty setting up blog tours. Some bloggers who used to set up tours are so booked they're no longer adding titles to their roster. And so many blogger/reviewers (myself included) are overwhelmed with arcs, debut and otherwise.

Don't get me wrong. There's great fun to be had at  GReads (check out her fantabulous Blogger-Behind-the-Book and TGIF features), at Chick Loves Lit (luurve the Fun Five Interviews), at Novel Novice (projects and features galore plus great content for educators), and many more incredible sites.

But I'm just wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts on blog tours of late in terms of theme, duration, giveaways, who coordinates them, how to do the best work for your publisher, and so on.

Please share your thoughts.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bookanistas: It's NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and...

I'm preparing to participate in Face to Face for All 8th Poetry Roundup at the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference along with Douglas Florian, Dana Jensen, Timothy McLaughlin, and Guadalupe Garcia McCall.  So, here's the start of my National Poetry Month Reading List (in pictures, not poems!)...


Are you planning to read any poetry this April?

Learn more about National Poetry Month at this page at the Academy of American Poets' beautiful site.

And here are some more Bookanista goodies to start your spring!

Christine Fonseca is wowed by WANDERLOVE

Katy Upperman delights in SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY
Tracy Banghart honors THE HEX HALL trilogy

Corrine Jackson is thrilled over A TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER

Hilary Wagner deems the DANNY DRAGONBREATH Series Fantastic!

Let me know if there are mistakes, problems with the links, etc...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back to Business: THE MAGIC HOUR (for writing)

It is 10:35 am.  The kids are at school, I've done my sit-ups, and my stomach isn't even growling for lunch yet.  I'm here, alone, at my computer until 3 pm when "mommy time" begins again. But I'm not working on my manuscript yet.  Instead, I've zipped through my social media routine (email; updates for Twitter/Facebook/websites; and a bit of inexcusable surfing), returned two phone calls, and drafted the itinerary for the next leg of the Stages on Pages tour.

Sometimes I have guilt about this routine.  However, I've discovered over the years that I do my best creative writing after lunch.  Maybe it's the carbs.  Maybe I just need to know I've handled the business side of life before I can settle down.  And it could be that my "magic time" for writing will change.  But, for now, I've given myself permission to do NON-MANUSCRIPT-RELATED STUFF until 11 am.  Along with that, I MUST GIVE AT LEAST 2 HOURS to creative writing between 11 and 3.  Sometimes I go the whole four hours.  Sometimes, it's jittery segments of time interrupted by the phone, email, the dog, whatever.  But I get at least two hours in!

What's the insight here?

1. I have created space in my writer-life for the marketing stuff and have made my peace with it.
2. I have created a MANDATE TO WRITE that is flexible enough that I manage it almost every day.

What is your MAGIC HOUR for writing? Have you made peace with some kind of schedule?