Sunday, March 15, 2015

Goodreads Review - The Husband's Secret

The Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a masterfully crafted story. So often, the little clues and connecting points in the first part of the book feel obvious and wedged in, but by the end, everything had a purpose and felt right at home where you discovered it. The way the three main character's stories dovetailed was so natural and believable. This really is three stories in one. Unlike so other books that use this storytelling device, I never found myself bored with one of the three. They all held my attention equally, with a minor exception near the end when a critical moment in two of the stories finally developed. Only one minor complaint is the epilogue. While interesting, I found it a little heavy handed and almost apologetic for some of the edge in the book, but not enough to sour me on any of it. Great read from an author who can fill a story with the minutia and detail of ordinary lives while still keeping you spellbound.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Goodreads Review - Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book came highly recommended by a friend, and I was not disappointed. It’s a young adult, first love story without false angst. The angst is warranted, purposeful, and understandable. The characters are perfectly unique without being at all cartoony. Eleanor and Park are real people that could easily exist somewhere. Within just a few quick chapters I was heavily invested in both characters. About halfway through the story I reached that critical point: the book had potential for greatness, everything was lining up. Would it make a huge mistake, just finish well, or become one of those stories that will affect you for days? I would say it finished well and stayed with me for a few days. The last fourth of the book moved along like it needed to and kept me up late reading it. And the finish was quick and not drawn out. Without spoiling anything, I will say the ending was satisfying if not as impactful as it had the potential to be.

I really love these two characters equally, which is not that common. Usually one of the two main characters in a book like this comes across as more complete or more relatable, especially when both of them are quite different. In this case, I felt compassion for both Park and Eleanor. Their story did an amazing job of capturing the uncertain, awkward, exhilarating first pangs of new love.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

#Mywritingprocess Blog Tour

My friend Dan Koboldt asked me to answer four questions as a part of the #Mywritingprocess Blog Tour.  You can check out his answers on his site at  Dan writes fantasy and science fiction, he works as a research scientist in the field of human genetics and genomics, and he shoots things with a giant bow Katniss style.  Obviously, I said yes right away. 

So here are my answers.  They will rock your world. 

What Am I Working On?
I’m in a super awkward place at the moment.  I feel disconnected from my most recently finished work but not yet connected with my next project.  I’ve started a few stories, gotten a few thousand words into each and stopped.  For me, I have to be really seduced by a story idea before I can fully commit to writing an entire book.  The characters become friends or extensions of myself.  Without that passion for telling their stories, it’s easy to lose interest.  The concept I’m exploring currently is what I like to call Pretty Woman if Gillian Flynn wrote it.  It feels like an idea I could get into, but I’m still gut checking all the themes I want to explore in it to be sure it’s a fully realized concept and not just a lark.

How Does My Work Differ from Others of Its Genre?
Sometimes I worry it differs a little too much at times.  I’ve written YA novels to date.  My first one was pure indulgence on my part, pulling inspiration from some of my favorite stories, books, and movies.  Ultimately, it may have been too many genres at once.  I want to read and write stories that have a little of everything I love in them.  I try to find humor in situations and don’t let my characters take themselves too seriously all the time.  Some YA stories tend to skew toward the melodramatic.  I want the drama in my writing to feel natural, not manufactured.  That usually comes from nurturing a connection between the reader and the characters.

Why Do I Write What I Do?
I find myself having the best time writing when I’m exploring a side of myself that doesn’t get much free rein in the real world.  I think we all have multiple facets to our personalities and only a few of those sides ever get to see the light of day.  It’s also cathartic to research something you wouldn’t necessarily do yourself but that you need to write intelligently about one of your characters doing.  I love to write as an outlet for my creative side.  Writing is a great way to create and share and invent and hopefully inspire.  It can be lonely work at times, but ultimately, the idea is for my work to connect with others.  That’s when I know I’ve written something worthwhile.

How Does My Writing Process Work?
I’ve experimented with different techniques and I think the story I’m writing dictates what method I use.  It starts with an idea, obviously: Some concept you want to inflict on a fictional character to find out what happens to them.  That usually requires some unconscious inspiration.  Once I have that, I work on deciding what kind of story could best explore that concept.  Where would it take place, who would be involved, and most importantly, why do I care about it?  After fleshing out the basic mechanics of the story, I look for opportunities for little twists.  I love something unexpected in the stories I read.  A balance of “I never saw that coming!” and “Of course that had to happen!”  I usually do a chapter outline and try to get the basic pacing laid out, but that is heavily altered as the story is written, and then completely butchered once it’s edited.  Typically, the best parts of my stories are never in the outline, they come about naturally as I discover my characters and understand what they would do in a given situation.     

Tune back in later this week when I'll post the authors I'm passing the baton to in the tour.  This is no way a stalling tactic and was planned all along.  This is to build suspense, not buy me time because I'm way behind on ... well, everything.

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.