Monday, September 30, 2013

About bicycles

Did I mention that while I am trying to finish this manuscript, my husband is RIDING HIS BIKE ACROSS AMERICA? You heard me. The man is, well, as crazy as his wife :)

Here's his cute picture:

And, if you can't get enough Kehoe family insanity from my blog, you can follow him at his: A LAWYER ON A BIKE.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I Love Banned Books Week

Because those lists are filled with books I have loved so,
you know, they're useful :)

Some of my must-reads on the banned list are LOOKING FOR ALASKA, THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN and, a personal favorite CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (I mean, really?). Head over to the Academy of American Poets longer list of banned books and you'll also find GRENDEL, JUNIE B. JONES (yep), A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and so many other examples of powerful, thought-provoking BOOKS PEOPLE SHOULD READ!

Even more telling than the titles to which people have chose to object are the REASONS they don't like the books--from homophobia to objection to a particular religious viewpoint to what seems to me to be nothing less than ignorant misinterpretation of what an author is trying to do.

I know authors who wear their "bans" like badges of pride and others who are deeply hurt at being misunderstood. I feel for both types. And I am NOT a fan of people who put other people on lists and those who elect themselves arbiters of their community's morals.

Pop on over to the BANNED BOOKS WEEK website and see if you agree.

Monday, September 23, 2013

So, about that blog break... And something oddly cool

I am discovering that drafting a quick blog post helps me warm up to write fiction or get focused for freelance work or other "author business." Hmmm...

On another procrastinatory ('cuz that's a word) note, I was checking my B&N presence and noticed something cool: If you search for "The Sound of Letting Go," my book turns up first and the movie adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's amazing novel, "Never Let Me Go," is next. Why should it delight me that my lovely cover sits right beside close-ups of Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield? I don't know...but it does :)

PS: Should this post inspire you to pre-order my novel, let me know by midnight (Friday 9/27) Pacific Time and I will SEND YOU A PACK OF TSoLG sticky notes. Unless you live outside the US. Then I can't afford it. But I'll be super-grateful and will happily do an email interview no matter where you live in non-virtual space!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ways I Waste Time

Stopping to look at beautiful things.
Making breakfast for my kids.
Reading the morning paper.
Sending silly texts to my husband when he's traveling.
Shopping for Christmas presents all year round.
Hanging out with my little sister.
No, I'm not sorry.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Happy Book Birthday to 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil!

Science-fiction-horror YA fans have something to celebrate today!

Want it? You can find it at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Here's my review of Gretchen's debut novel, Possess. I also adored TEN, which somehow I missed reviewing but, seriously, Gretchen has a knack for snarky scares and suspense-building that you DON'T want to miss. OR ELSE (heehee)!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Flipping that Playlist - A Fun Writing Exercise

These days lots of writers share playlists--collections of songs that inspired their novels, helped them develop characters, etc.  I have such a roster of tunes for THE SOUND OF LETTING GO. As a forty-something, I like a lot of songs teen readers that may be unfamiliar to teen readers. Luckily, I am also the mom of two teenagers and, as such, have been exposed to a lot of great post-millennium bands and tunes. So my playlists are a bit of a mix of "vintage" and new stuff.

Today, though, I want to talk about a cool writing exercise I have discovered. Instead of finding
music to reflect the thoughts and moods of a character, I listen to the tracks my sixteen-year-old plays when I pick him up from school. They speak a lot to his mood and current concerns. And I build in my head a story about a character living out the same playlist he is choosing.

Give it a try: Ask a teenager to give you a list of three to five songs to play. Write the story those songs sing to you.

For me, it can be very freeing to not have to find the songs to fit into some character box, but instead to build the box that could hold songs you did not choose.

Lemme know how it goes for you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writing, Blogging, Books and Balance

For years, most of my Thursday posts have featured books I have read and enjoyed. While I have loved giving shout-outs to titles and authors whose work I enjoy, the burden of reading and writing this material for the blog has gotten overwhelming. Meanwhile (for all of you other author-bloggers out there), I have not seen any measurable return in terms of my own book sales. 

Lately, I've also been struggling more than usual with balancing promotion of my upcoming novel with completion of my next manuscript. Maybe it's the unusual amount of freelance work I've picked up this fall. Maybe it's missing my eldest son, off to college. (Tuition bills are one reason I tend to accept all the aforementioned freelance work, btw!) Regardless of the "why," I still have to try to realign the scales.

So, for the fall, the "how" is going to be a commitment to just once-weekly blogging (Mondays) and to allow myself to just read for fun at night without the self-imposed pressure of having to write about books. Meanwhile, I full intent to FINISH the book I am writing by October 25th. New deadline. The first, missed, date was August 30th.

Here's hoping the second deadline is the charm. Are you doing any realigning this fall? Got any good advice? Spill, okay?

Monday, September 2, 2013


My secretary:
always available for feedback
I haven't written about the day job for quite awhile but let's just say that while my own fiction is in the hopper, I am also writing promotional and educational copy for other authors' books. There are lots of upsides to this gig, including the opportunity to read and celebrate the work of others in my book-loving community. The downside? It's a lot of work and I usually get jealous when I realize that publishers are paying me to do stuff for other books that I know is not happening for my own work. Sigh. Grievances aside, here's what I've been doing this weekend in the process of writing a reading guide for a terrific steampunk YA:
  1. Rereading the novel (I try to do a first-pass read a few weeks before beginning the guide.)
  2. Scouring author website and related resources to learn about writer's POV and body of work.
  3. Reading acknowledged source literature (gleaned via author notes, quotes in text, etc.).
  4. Trying to figure out the origins of the names the author has given various characters (is this just my thing?).
  5. Analyzing the vast sea of definitions of steampunk culled from various literary reference sources.
  6. Correlating Common Core Standards with state education grade level objectives to determine the best form for questions directed at readers of this novel.
  7. Emailing the editor who hired me to ask any questions I might not have been able to answer through my research. (So far, on this book, one big question.)
  8. Writing first draft of guide.
After this, whenever possible, I take at least several days off from the material so that I can come back with fresh eyes for correction and revision.

Sound like anyone's fiction writing process?