Monday, June 30, 2014

Are you writing this summer?

Summer is a challenge for the writer-mom. The beautiful, reliable schedules of the school year have fallen to late night family poker games, pilgrimmages to SafeCo field to watch the Mariners play, and hours spent shuttling kids to drama camps, baseball clinics and so on. S'mores? We've made 'em. Thrice.

With a manuscript nearly done, I am torn between my desire to make memories with the kids (particularly my eldest who is briefly home from college) and my deep love of routine, my anxiety about getting to the end of this new story. I've also got several freelance jobs awaiting my attention and things are starting to break down in the house (broken drawer in kitchen; irremovable stain on living room rug; and the dust, oh the dust!).

So, where does that leave me?

I have not cracked the spine of a single book I've been saving for summer reading. I have not knocked off any freelance jobs. The manuscript still hovers at 350 pages of not-yet-finished.

I can't figure out whether I'm procrastinating OR I've lost my touch OR I'm reprioritizing OR I'm burnt out OR spending too much time on social media (well, I am doing that, too) OR what. Am I lazy? Maybe. Am I depressed somehow? Who knows? I keep wanting to get the book done and then failing.

Some days I feel ready to really focus on the work and then the phone rings and somebody needs a ride or a bit of conversation. Or the sun starts to set and my husband gets home from work and suggests we open a bottle of wine. Or I go to sit at the computer and get that LOOK from my eight-year-old that reminds me about the weight of the guilt I carry over ignoring my family to write.

This post has reached the point at which it requires an upside, some insight...A CONCLUSION. Have you got one?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

When to let go of your book...and what that really means for a writing career.

On February 6, 2014, my second novel, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO hit the shelves. It got lovely reviews and sold better than the first novel, AUDITION. Now, on the brink of July, the book hovers above the Amazon rankings million mark. Despite great feedback from teens, librarians and adult readers, it hasn't made lists, YALSA or otherwise. My Google alerts (I know, turn them off) begin with free download links so, thanks internet. I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway to remind people I exist and have spent wasted $50 on a Goodreads ad. And I've been toying with some summer promo. But maybe it's time to let go. I've done all I can and the time has come to focus on the next manuscript. That's logical, right?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The Sound of Letting Go

by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Giveaway ends August 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Here's the catch in terms of a baseball metaphor in honor of my 8yo son: The odds of continuing a writing career after two base hits but no home runs are worse than the odds of the Mariners winning the World Series. You can write the book of your heart. It can be fantastic and beautiful. But you're tainted goods. You've been tried in the big leagues and come up short. Publishers, like ball club managers, now weigh the odds of betting on you a third time (heck, a few seasons of experience probably HAVE made you a better writer) or signing a fresh-faced, sales-figure-unblemished rookie debut novelist too green to realize the marketing department is ignoring them. OR they could pass on you AND somebody else and sign a sexy nerd superstar like Neil Gaiman or John Green or Andrew Smith who you will never be due to your enormous knockers (your welcome, hubs!) (and yes, that is me being a touch cynical & bitter).

What to do? Give up this business? Realize it's a chew-you-up-spit-you-out endeavor and even many editors wind up bailing so writers are likely to finish as casualties? Self-pub, try to monetize your blog, write swill for hire for the insurance industry? Realize you rolled the dice, lost and it's time to leave the table? Go back to school for your teaching certificate or an MBA?  Focus of marriage, parenting, friendships, communities less focused on word counts?

I know this isn't pretty. It's not meant to be a downer, either. However, I have met many wonderful writers in this business and, as we "grow up" together, these are the endgame questions for most of us. Prescriptives? Suggestions? Writing prompt for the week? Nah. But I'll leave with this fact:

Me? I'm still writing. So my Twitter description must be right. I am SLIGHTLY CRAZY

Monday, June 23, 2014

On July 30, 2007...

I wrote my first post at Writer on the Side. That's nearly seven years ago. At the time, I was writing plays, not novels. I had no agent, no book deal. My youngest son was not yet two. I hadn't skied on any run that wasn't green.

In the seven years since I started chronicling my writing journey, I've achieved some writing goals, survived two rounds of driver's ed, seen my eldest off to college, taught, choreographed, and skied a black diamond. The requirement that authors have an internet presence to support book sales has gone from "give it a try" to "you must" to "kind of optional unless you've a YouTube channel, a Tumblr, and a kazillion Twitter followers since the rest of you struggling author types are pretty much white noise."

I've watched some book bloggers succeed marvelously, some give up, and some become authors in their own right. I've seen some authors have great success, some flame out, and some continue to tread the waters of the midlist, like me.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The Sound of Letting Go

by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Giveaway ends August 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
So, why am I still blogging? Do I have some great revelation to share? Nope. But this blog is a nice memento. A kind of public personal journal. And, for what it's worth, here are a few micro-insights:
  • Blogging helps you figure out your internet presence and is an inexpensive online "home base" for authors who aren't super tech-savvy
  • It's up to you whether you want to be snarky and political, or peace-loving and rather neutral. I've seen authors succeed both ways but it's best to choose and not flip-flop
  • Goodreads Giveaways are effective and generally well-subscribed (I'm running one above, see?!).
  • Rafflecopter giveaways on your own blog are not worth the cost of prize mailing UNLESS you engage the help of other bloggers to publicize your giveaway.
  • The blogger community is amazing and blog tours for books are tremendously helpful for getting the word out about your books but don't overdo it--the community is fab but insular
  • Make peace with who you are as a writer, self-marketer, and PERSON-OUTSIDE-OF-THE-WRITING/BLOGGING-WORLD. Your family needs you, too. Probably more than your computer :)
  • Don't blog at the expense of writing your books!

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm not bitter...a midlist author's thoughts about the BIG BOOK CONFERENCES

As we wrap up the frenzied and fabulous spring conference season, let me be the first to tell you that BEA and ALA are awesome. If you haven’t been, you should go. Invite yourself. Anyone can buy a pass to the exhibit halls and they're amazing. 

This year (and last), however, I made it to neither. As a midlist author, you don't get invited to much. While missing book events is a bummer, it can be depressing wandering  through convention centers beneath enormous posters celebrating John Green, Laini Taylor and Andrew Smith while you worry whether anyone will ever want you to sign anything.

Am I jealous? A little. But after decades in the biz, I've got perspective. So many books are being published so fast and the industry is in such a state of confusion that you can’t be bitter if your book isn't chosen as your imprint’s banner title. Writing, like acting, dancing, filmmaking, ice skating and baseball (look at farm teams, everybody) are tough, competitive and (for most) low-paying professions BUT...

That is because we've chosen to try to make a career doing something we LOVE, something LOTS of people are willing to work at for very little compensation. Let's not pretend we didn't see this going in. We get to be WRITERS; nobody ever promised us more than that. The amazing Nova Ren Suma writes compellingly about keeping perspective on writing on her blog while encouragement for fighting the good fight is given by Elizabeth Eulberg via Novel Novice.

So, I'm not griping. I'm facing facts and celebrating the choice I have made. How? By giving stuff away. Enter and celebrate with me! Who’s partying now, huh? Okay, okay, it’s still the BEA people but you get it!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The Sound of Letting Go

by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Giveaway ends August 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to BRAZEN by Katherine Longshore!

Katherine writes British historical fiction like nobody's business. I adored GILT and TARNISH and can't wait to read this third Tudor-era novel. In fact, I've already ordered from IndieBound and YOU CAN TOO! If you want to learn more about Katy and her amazing books, pop on over and say hello at!

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Summer Giveaway...

Here are some truths about me:
  • I am not Veronica Roth.
  • I did not write the amazing Grasshopper Jungle nor the delightful Eleanor & Park.
  • I did not get to go to Book Expo America this year, therefore...
  • There was no giant flag featuring the cover of my latest book hanging from the ceiling of the Javits Center.
But I'm hanging in. I'm writing and teaching. I'm walking my dog. I invented a pretty amazing recipe for a sort of tiramisu/trifle thingy bathed in dark chocolate. And, despite not having been the toast of NYC...

(honestly, it's been getting great reviews and I think you may enjoy it)
I'm giving away 2 signed hardcover copies PLUS swag

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The Sound of Letting Go

by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Giveaway ends August 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, June 5, 2014

John Green & the Beautiful Brain

From ALA to Bologna to BEA, the young adult publishing world has been abuzz with two notions/ideas/people:


Perhaps these two concepts can, at this point in the dire, scary, Amazon-Hachette battle scarred world of publishing, be conflated into one notion: HOPE.

This word, HOPE, brings me to the central topic in today's post--what I think is John Green's secret to writing books that capture hearts and minds of teens and tons of other-aged folk. His characters, despite diseases, emotional scars, loss and fear, offer readers a very special kind of hope.

Green's protagonists are ALL super-intelligent, puzzle-solving actors in their worlds. Their worlds are our world, dystopian only insofar as modern life is dystopian; oppressive in the ways as we oppress ourselves through negativity and lack of understanding. Green's characters testify to one of the great faith notions of our time: THAT INTELLIGENCE IS THE GREATEST GIFT and our minds hold the keys to living a full, rich life, no matter its length or economic circumstance or related heartbreaks.

And here's another piece of the fascinating phenomenon that reaches at least one apex this week with the opening of the movie, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. Green himself is a sort of extension of his protagonists. Google him and learn about his complicated childhood, his love for his brother, his passion for learning, his genuine admiration for the talents of teens--those up-and-comers upon whose shoulders our world's future rests. Swing by one of multitudinous vlogs and allow yourself to be swept up in the wordplay, the ability to connect disparate ideas into some odd, temporal sculpture of words--of moment.

Rabelais...a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke...Neutral Milk Hotel...a book (and movie) title inspired by Shakespeare's Julius Caesar...and teens, lots of quirky, sharp-talking, dynamic, crazy, philosophical, often funny teens who draw connections between the confusing, bizarre, old, new, classic, imaginary, not-yet-invented images they encounter. Who make meaning.

Readers want to BE Green protagonists because they want to be smart enough to see the grace, elegance, and value in the world beneath the detrius of high school hallways, lost friends, even cancer. The hope that John Green depicts in his novels is in the beauty of the brain. 

It's hope enough to make a 46-year-old woman Google the term "nerdfighter." Need I say more?

DFTBA, everybody. D.F.T.B.A.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How much do you know about THE SOUND OF LETTING GO?

Take the quiz and let me know
via the comment form below!

Goodreads Quiz
6 questions