Thursday, August 13, 2015

How has your summer been going so far? ANY SURPRISES?

I did not start off the summer intending to back away from social media but that's what I've done. My accidental efforts were helped by three weeks visiting my parents who are lively quite solidly in the 20th century--WiFi and microwave-free! So, instead of Facebooking and tweeting, I've been doing stuff like this:



 And I've been reading books, including these:



And writing a little bit--not enough but a bit.

Has your summer turned out the way you planned? Tweet me your answers to @swkehoe with the hashtag #summersurprise -- and I"ll lumber over to social mediaville and tweet you back!




Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Book Birthday to THE SECRETS OF BLUEBERRIES, BROTHERS, MOOSE & ME by Sara Nickerson


Run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore (or computer) to order this gorgeous middle-grade novel about a twelve-year-old Missy's struggle to not feel left behind as the lives of her family and friends undergo big changes.

If you won't take my word for the awesomeness of THE SECRETS..., here's what Kirkus said:

"Heart-rendingly unflagging in the face of life-changing events, 
Missy's a funny, compelling heroine that readers will cheer for.”

Here's the Amazon link if you're so inclined. Or go visit Sara at her website to learn about her books, events, and school visits!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Been awhile, blogosphere...

I am happy to report that the family has survived two graduations and other end-of-school-year festivities (and stresses). Boys #1 and #2 are gainfully employed for the summer. Boy #3 is hanging with friends and teaching himself to play the guitar (no, I haven't asked him if it's part of some plan to get girls). Boy #4 starts basketball camp next week with his bestie. And I've just become part of the MOST amazing, tiny, heart-filling critique group.


So there's the update along with an apology for my continued sporadic blogging in the coming weeks as I try to finish writing this novel.

Best wishes to you for a summer of sun, fun & beautiful words!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Graduation Frenzy

This month Boy #2 will graduate from high school. Boy #3 will graduate from middle school. Boy #1 will miss the fun because he's back on the east coast for his summer research job. Boy #4 is celebrating the completion of third grade and the fact that baseball season is not yet over. I'll be doing a lot of smiling and picture-taking.

Many of my friends' kids are excitedly planning to attend first-choice schools in the fall, making lemonade out of some less-than-ideal choices, partying, and working. But a few have lost their way. A few have not managed to complete their senior year of high school. And those parents? They are as sad and confused as their children.

Watching this spring unfold has really driven home how much pressure we middle class parents put on our kids. Do well in school. Play a sport. Be creative. Take a leadership position in some club. Intentional or not, it's like we see only one way--one path to a success we define as being just like us.

It's a lot of pressure. While all of our good intentions, financial and emotional support, home-cooked meals and tickets to enrichment events have made some kids feel loved, happy, motivated while others feel terribly stressed and confused. As a writer of YA, observing these kinds of kids try to face graduation time breaks my heart and fills me with questions about the narrowly circumscribed way we show our children what it means to grow up into a happy, productive adult.

Am I going to follow up with some great advice? A writing exercise? A calm-inducing insight? Nope. I'm just going to raise a glass to all the parents and kids I know--those for whom our well-worn path is an easy route and those who are going to have to hack the weeds away from a less-traveled trail--and toast the reality that love and success can take a lot of different shapes. So give your kid a hug. Congrats to the graduates. And, if your kid's "big celebration" doesn't happen to be happening this June, remember that it's just a stupid month and it'll be back next year.

Don't get me wrong. No adventure raising kids is easy.
I have stories I could tell but I know, in truth,
that I've been very lucky so far.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Writing Craft: GREAT OPENINGS

I've been thinking a lot recently about the cliche, "To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader." I teach a workshop about writing cliches and have found this one particularly annoying because there is a LONG journey between identifying and enjoying good books and writing one of your own. In trying to break this down, one thing I have realized is that, as a reader and writer, I have maintained a personal bibliography of novels that do certain things well (such as great openings, great development of secondary characters, great happy (or sad) endings) and I turn to these works when I feel my own manuscript comes up short in one of these areas. I also use these books when I teach about various elements of writing craft.

Here's a short list of novels I've recently cited in workshops about honing the opening pages of your novel:

JUST LISTEN by Sarah Dessen
LEGEND by Marie Lu
ALCATRAZ VERSUS THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson
I AM THE MESSENGER by Markus Zusak

And here are a few old favorites:
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson
FEED by M. T. Anderson
THE PRINCESS DIARIES by Meg Cabot
A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman
MONSTER by Walter Dean Myers
DEFIANCE by C. J. Redwine
UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld

What inspires you when you're stuck revising that all-important CHAPTER 1?