Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Contest for Writers

Check out Chuck Sambuchino's (of Guide to Literary Agents fame) latest contest for authors at This one's for YA manuscripts.  All the dets are there.  Great way to get your work seen!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January Giveaway Almost Over!

Elementary, my dear blogger!
Don't forget to follow this blog and me on twitter to take this fine British gent home with you tonight.  (Technically, he'll be shipped to you).  Follow @ShawnPKeenan and and leave a comment in the posts.  That's it, you're entered!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Errant Author's First Giveaway!

All that's missing is a little button you push to hear his voice.
It's amazing to think how long I've had this blog going without doing a giveaway.  Everybody knows you buy friends, happiness, and followers with bribes.  Well, our first contest is custom tailored for fans of pasty-white British thespians with sophisticated, baritone voices.

This giveaway's prize is a one-of-a-kind charcoal rendition of everybody's favorite Sherlock Holmes, as recently featured on Entertainment Magazine's January 24th cover.  Here's how you win:

Become a Twitter and blog follower before the end of January.  The Twitter handle to follow is @ShawnPKeenan and the blog is  Once you're following both, just comment on this post and you're entered to win.  What if I'm already following you on Twitter and on this lovely blog, Shawn?  Great!  Just post!  And feel free to mention who you might like to see drawn for future contests.  The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via Twitter.

Best of luck to all you Cumberbatch fans out there.  See you in the comments section!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Kirkus Review of my 2013 Workout Routine

An enthusiastic effort that yielded minimal results.

Keenan’s latest attempt to defy genetics, heredity, and history by weighing more than a wet Great Dane left this reviewer wondering the delusion necessary to make this repetitive effort year after year expecting different results.  The workouts started with a blind optimism only expressed by the most naive of hearts or by those recovering poorly from sun stroke.  The sentiment imbuing the entire effort that “things will be different this time” left me wondering if Keenan knew something he wasn’t sharing, or if perhaps that much needed steroids were finally involved.

A few short months into the routine, it was clear that performance enhancing drugs had not been utilized and that the aforementioned optimism was already giving way to a more natural and reasonable acceptance of ultimate failure.  For every pound of muscle gained, an inexplicable two pounds of some other bodily matter escaped his frame, disproving the Law of Conservation of Matter as well as promises made on the wrappers of protein power bars.

By Fall, with only a statistically insignificant amount of gains made, it appeared Keenan could still achieve his goal by either wearing thicker clothes or ingesting non-lethal heavy metals.  Unwilling to compromise his principles, Keenan continued on his path undeterred, insistent that he fail on his own terms, in his own way, the way he always did and always would.

Frustratingly relatable, unforgettably devastating, and completely predictable, this effort by Keenan checked all the boxes you want checked in a yearlong workout goal.  Coming within a pound of his objective with a week to go was a thrilling end to the journey, but it was his unexpected throwing in of towel at the eleventh hour that left this reviewer wondering, “Will he even bother to try this again?”  Only if he learned nothing.  And I think it’s clear he never does.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Trying to Get An Agent has Turned Me Into the Joker

It's not about the foreign rights, it's about ... sending a message.

Have you ever wanted something to happen and dreaded it happening all within the same moment?  It’s not easy to do.  It involves two disparate emotions flowing through your uh … internal feeling tunnels … simultaneously, and it’s a weird sensation.  I imagine it’s a bit like driving up the Holland Tunnel in the wrong lane.  In a bathtub.  Nude.

That’s how I feel about hearing back from an agent with my novel UNSEND.  Every few days (fine every hour) I go to my inbox to see if I’ve gotten an email from that stranger onto whom I’ve pinned almost five years of hopes and dreams.  Now, keep in mind, said person didn’t ask for this responsibility.  This is still a very one-sided relationship and she is undoubtedly considering many, many works to represent.  If she is the sun of my publishing universe right now, I’m at best, a Pluto.  And that’s Pluto the demoted dwarf planet, not even Pluto the furthest, coldest, smallest planet on the fringe of everything.      

So I really want to hear back from her and learn if she’s going to invite me to the dance.  Another possibility is an “It’s Not Me, It’s You” letter.  There really is no in between at this point.  I’ve sent a revised version of my book that I believe addresses the concerns she expressed with my first submission.  This rewrite will either appeal to her or it won’t.  It’s like brie, or blue cheese dressing.  (Hopefully it's like ranch.  Everybody loves ranch).  It wouldn’t make sense for her to suggest more rewrites at this stage without an offer of representation, so this will be an all-or-nothing response.  There is, undoubtedly, a line of wonderful submissions waiting their turn behind mine.  If I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do with this rewrite, there is somebody else waiting in the wings who can and will, or did and has with theirs.  And I truly wish them the best. 

Remember that scene in The Dark Knight when the Joker is standing in the street watching the Batcycle scream toward him?  In his deranged (and typical) state, the Joker was mumbling to himself.  “Come on.  I want you to hit me!  I want you to do it, I want you to do it.”  He was twitchy, he was agitated.  And he was excited.

That’s me checking my email.  “Come on.  I want you to email me!  I want you to do it, I want you to do it.”  Do I really?  I don’t actually want to be rejected.  In theory, I only want that email to show up if it’s a positive response.  But I also want to make progress, and that requires accepting that there are two ways forward from here.  So with nothing but lint and knives in my purple, hand sewn suit, I stare down my inbox and invite that moment.  I feel the emotions.  Excitement, dread, anticipation, apprehension.

It’s time for a breakthrough or a breakdown.  They'll probably feel about the same at this point.

Come on.  Email me!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Great Expectation Movie Review

Subtitle : The Harry Potter Reunion
My lovely wife took me out to the movies last night.  And guess what she went to see with me?  Great Expectations.  This was after I dragged her to see Jane Eyre at the same little independent movie theater a few years back, so, yes, I'm the woman in the relationship when it comes to period piece movies.

I truly don't have the time to reread so many of the classics that I love every few years as I'd like to do, so when a well reviewed movie version comes out, I love to catch it and refresh my memory of all the indelible characters and timeless themes that make a classic, well, a classic.  This adaptation is very true to the source material, not one of those contemporary re-imaginings where the whole thing is done in rap verse or the guy is in the girl role or the girl is in the role of the dog or whatever.  This is crazy Miss (funny I almost put Mrs., and wouldn't she just hate that) Havisham, pitiable Pip, and ruined Estella just as you remember them from the novel.  I love Helena Bonham Carter as a crazy anything, and her portrayal of Miss Havisham was no exception.

Seeing the movie as a dad, I now felt especially sentimental about Pip and Joe's relationship and even Pip and Magwitch's.  They portrayed Estella in a more favorable light in this one than I remember her from the book, and for those who know the book, the movie follows the altered ending that I, personally, appreciate given all that Pip has to go through in life in getting to that point.   

Great Expectations is a sobering reminder of what a master storyteller can accomplish with multidimensional characters, rich atmosphere, true drama, and meaningful plot twists.  It's wonderful to realize that many of the same trials and tribulations that affected people over one hundred and fifty years ago still resonate today in how we feel about family, how we fall in love, and how we strive to become someone valuable in our own life and the lives of others. 

I had great expectations for Mike Newell's take on one of my favorite novels and I was not let down.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trying Not To Stub My Toe

A little kinky, but should do the trick.

The rewrite continues!  I have imagined this rewrite going down in three phases that will probably end up being about forty-seven.  Phase I is basically done.  The first two-fifths (is that a little more than a third but less than half?) of the book had pacing problems, among other things.  Getting this right required a lot of gutting of scenes, rewriting of characters, and a little adding in of new plot lines.  Characters who met for the first time before now already know each other.   Characters who used to think about doing something now just do it, Nike style.  There’s less getting from point A to point B and more just being at point B. 

The end result is fourteen chapters whittled down to about eight.  I found there were a lot of redundant location visits, all of which were reduced to one or otherwise combined.  There were some bushes beating around that got a serious hedge trimming, and all that slashing and burning got me through what I consider to be Phase I of my rewrite.

Now I’m in Phase II.  That’s taking the carnage I created in Phase I and carrying it through the remaining three-fifths of the book.  Oh, that character is a step-brother now, not a natural born brother, so he wouldn’t have sheets from his childhood in this vacation condo, because I established this is the sister’s family condo, not his.  Or, someone can’t refer to another character by name because they didn’t actually meet anymore, she just saw her across the room, and so on and so on.

Phase II, I imagine, will actually be the easiest phase.  This portion of the story is solid and the pacing is good.  I just have to bring forward the changes and see it through to the end.

Phase III is the one that will end up being forty-five stages.  That’s where I have to look at the work as a whole again.  Does it flow?  Does it all still matter, do I still care about what’s happening to all these characters?  In speeding up the beginning, did I leave a door open and let anyone fall out of the car?  And most importantly, is this a great story now?

I compare doing this rewrite to rearranging the furniture in a room.  Imagine you’ve set up a room, a very large room, filled with hundreds of individual items.  You know where everything is and why it's where it is because, after all, you imagined the whole thing from scratch, it's your baby.  If a table is next to a chair, it’s because you sat down in that chair one time with a drink and had nowhere to put it, so you added the table.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

So, let's pull all the furniture out.  Build a bonfire with a bunch of it and strike a match.  Bring in a few new items.  Make sure the new colors go with everything, the patterns, the wood tones.  Put everything back in the room in different spots.  Mind the feng shui!  Everything’s in place.  You think it makes sense.  You think it’s better than before.  There’s a lot of stuff in here, all of it where you didn’t put it the first time around.

Now take off your shoes, turn off the lights, and walk to the other side of the room.  

And pray for the toes.