Picking Giveaway Winners Today!

9780425271483_large_The Art of Floating_HIGH RESLater today I’ll pick 5 winners of the galley giveaway of THE ART OF FLOATING! The response over on my Facebook author page has been terrific…lots of wonderful readers posting the titles of their current and past favorites. Although I didn’t do a precise count, it looks like Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH took the lead in current favs.

Looking forward to pulling the names of winners from a hat!



5 Galley Giveaway of THE ART OF FLOATING! Enter now!

9780425271483_large_The Art of Floating_HIGH RESIn honor of great love and Valentine’s Day, I’m giving away 5 galleys of my new novel THE ART OF FLOATING (which comes out on April 1, 2014)!

To enter the contest (Feb 12–18), pop on over to my author page on Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/KristinBairOKeeffeAuthor.

All (very easy) instructions for entering the giveaway are on my author page. I’ll select the lucky winners randomly on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. One galley can go to an overseas reader, so if you’re outside of the U.S., please enter!

Good luck! Whoop! Whoop!


A Sneak Peek at the Cover of My Upcoming Novel THE ART OF FLOATING!

(drum roll, please)

Here it is! A big thanks to the cover designers at Berkley Books | Penguin Random House. The novel isn’t due in bookstores until April 2014, but until then, I’m going to enjoy the cover.


the cover for my new novel THE ART OF FLOATING (Berkley Books | Penguin Random House, April 2014)

the cover for my new novel THE ART OF FLOATING (Berkley Books | Penguin Random House, April 2014)

Big, happy news! My next novel will be published by Penguin’s Berkley Books!

Oh, so happy to share this good news!

My next novel will be published in early 2014 by Penguin’s Berkley Books!

And the title is:

(drum roll…)



Huge thanks to my kick-arse agent Barbara Poelle! And a big SMOOCH to all the friends, family, and writers around the world who support me in this writing life. Y’all rock!

Smiley Balls_MorgueFileFree


Writerhead Wednesday: The New Season Launches Next Week

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.

Although I refuse to admit that summer may be heading to a close in just a few short weeks, I am happy to announce that the fall season of Writerhead Wednesday will launch next Wednesday, August 29, with none other than (drum roll, please)…

Erika Robuck

Erika’s second novel HEMINGWAY’S GIRL is due in bookstores during the first week of September. You, lovely readers, will be lucky enough next week to tiptoe into her writerhead.

See you next Wednesday!

Writerhead Wednesday: Happy Summer Hiatus

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.

Writerhead Wednesday is officially on summer hiatus. I promise, this feature will resume in a few weeks, but in the meantime, enjoy your own writerhead. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, bask in the buttery warmth of summer; if you’re in the southern hemisphere where it’s cold and blustery right now, I’m sorry for you.

Just kidding.

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can hunker down in writerhead just as easily as those of us who are warm and buttery. Probably much more easily, since you’re not being lured outside by lightning bugs and barbecues and sandy beaches.

So go, beautiful writers. Be in writerhead. Write.

And in the meantime, if you need a little inspiration, a writerhead fix, head over to the Writerhead Wednesday archives; there’s something there for everyone.

See you soon!

Mojo Monday: Toni Morrison Talks About Her New Novel “Home” & the Presidential Medal of Freedom

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.

Toni Morrison recently talked to Charlie Rose about her new novel Home, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, and why she writes. Here are a few gold nuggets:

“Well, you know, I’m trying not to write just because I can. Or just write more. I’m trying to write less that needs more. That says more. To refine it in a way.”

“I think art really is the acquisition of knowledge. And it can lead knowledge to wisdom. That’s what I write for. That’s what I read about in other people’s work. It’s not playground. It’s not just creative writing, you know, sort of a nice little self-involved enterprise. For me, it’s extremely important, for the clarification, not only of the past, but of who we are as human beings in this country.”

“Writing books for me is Eden. It’s everything. It’s free. It’s so free. And it has a danger that I can control. You know, the danger of making a mistake and doing it wrong. But I can control that. And it’s mine. And nobody tells me what to do.”

And when Charlie asks, “Have you written the stories you want to write?” she says, “Not all of them. There’s one more.”

Oh, thank goodness, Toni. One more.

[For the rest of her shiny brilliance, here’s the video…]

38Write: Is This Writing Workshop Right For You?

38Write—my [new-ish] global writing initiative—is a monthly series of online writing adventure workshops for place-passionate, culturally curious writers around the world. Each writing adventure focuses on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life (for example, writing kick-butt descriptions), and during each 38-hour adventure, you’ll be connecting with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. It’s new. It’s different. It’s crazy, mad fun!


I sat down just now to write a blog entry about why #38Write is the writing workshop for you, but instead, I find myself in writerhead, being drawn to work on a piece I’ve been writing about the chicken man in Shanghai. All kinds of things are stirring me up creatively this morning: this NYTimes piece about singer/songwriter Frank Ocean; Julian Gough’s open letter to Jonathan Ive (and Apple) about a short story he wrote called “iHole” (which I discovered via a Tweet on Sunday morning); and even this study about how dogs in an office setting can reduce stress (weaving it into my argument for taking my new pup to work).

So if you’re sitting out there in China or Ireland or Boracay or Alaska, thinking, hhhmmm, 38Write? Yay? Nay?

Yay. For sure, yay. And let’s get on with telling the story.


Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Lydia Netzer

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.

Here’s what I want to say about Lydia Netzer‘s debut novel Shine Shine Shine: It’s special. It’s one of those soul-changing, DNA-altering, oh-my-god-I-see-the-world-differently-since-reading-this-book kind of books. Lydia and Shine Shine Shine came to my attention via Sarah Reed Callender, and I’m forever grateful. (Thank you, Sarah!)

You know that quote by Franz Kafka? The one that goes like this: “A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul.” Well, Shine Shine Shine is an ice-axe that broke the sea frozen inside my soul.

Crack! Crash! Smash! Damn the frozen f’ing sea!

You should read Shine Shine Shine. As soon as possible. But first, read about Lydia’s writerhead. It’s as cool as the book.

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Writerhead can happen anywhere: on my back porch, in my office, on someone’s mountain cabin’s kitchen island, as long as there is a computer there, and a rectangular screen where I can look at the words coming up. Place doesn’t matter much, but there are very specific rituals and routines that can be used to invoke writerhead, and draw the words out of the brain. Here are a few of mine:

A. Music

I like to put a song on endless, endless repeat until it melts away into nothing but a feeling. Often I endlessly repeat a song my iPod calls Luilak / Fiere Pinkster Bloem (http://www.amazon.com/Luilak-Fiere-Pinkster-Bloem/dp/B005EU16B8). I have no idea what language it’s in or what the words mean but I think it might be Bulgadavian and the song is probably about sheep or political oppression. The words sound like this:

Lilac, sometimes a brick,

Hatches up a lilac tit

Hatches up a lilac tit

And a brick, and a block, and a very bad block,

Is a head that wants to be softened!

Dogs have thumbs so lie like a dog

In a head that’s spun so often!

Okay, in the interest of accuracy, I just Googled Luilak and came up with this image (http://www.50plusser.nl/forum/userpix/50570_luilak_2012_tndt_copy_1.jpg) of Wilma Flintstone hovering over three kids in a bed, while Ringo Starr sweeps the floor and agitates a tiny man with no pants pooping into a case of Dr. Pepper and waving a white flag at Mrs. Garrett who is smoking a gigantic purple doobie. So you can see that I really do prefer a song with lyrics that are intensely relevant to my themes.

I also do well with Spicy McHaggis by The Dropkick Murphys, the Brahms violin concerto, Imogen Heap, and other obscure Bulgadavian folk music.

B. Clothing

Clothing can be crucial in drawing out writerhead—the wrong pants and you’re stumbling uphill, the right pants and you’re like a solar flare on the keyboard. I have these terrible brown cargo shorts with a very unattractive rip in the rear, a pilly black tank top and a chewed-on athletic hoodie: these are the best garments for engaging writerhead. Other cargo pants can be substituted but they must be a bilious green or noxious brown, other tank tops will suffice but they must be black, and as for replacing the hoodie, well I’m not sure I even want to speak those words aloud. If I whisper I can tell you that a replacement has been attempted, in the interest in not looking like a flipping lunatic in public, but the attempt was abandoned.

 C. Odors

When I pack for a writing retreat, I need certain smells: Crabtree & Evelyn “West Indian Lime,” Viktor & Rolf “Flowerbomb,” Thierry Mugler “Angel.” Also Vick’s Vapor Rub, grapefruit shampoo, and rosemary. When I was writing Shine Shine Shine, the smell of lavender evoked the character Emma for me, and bergamot helped me think about Sunny and Maxon’s burgeoning love affair. Some smells turn my brain off: stuff that’s too floral or bready or nice and virtuous like Ivory soap or lemons. Limes are for writing dark, interesting novels. Lemons are for washing dishes and being really cheerful. This is the difference between limes and lemons.

I think I may be exposing myself as a superstitious nutjob.

When I was 20, I wrote with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of red wine in the other, and I used my irresponsible whims to do the typing while my reckless disregard for health and virtue was popping the pill bottle. So this is better. Nutjob perhaps, but now that I have children and a pot rack I need to replace the martini glass with something that looks better in church. Like a ripped up hoodie that smells like eucalyptus.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

The children do interrupt. And it always makes me feel like a terrible person. I remember one night, I was sitting in my office in the dark, writing a particularly horrible scene where someone died or was killed or killed themselves or something. My daughter opened the door, and stood there framed in the light: two years old and sweet and innocent as the dawn. “Mommy,” she said. I looked at what I had been writing, and looked at her, and as she crawled into my lap, I wanted to turn myself in as an unfit mother, and have my child re-homed with someone who lives on a farm and writes about the antics of goats or about how kindness is really nice.

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/lostcheerio/3593128093/in/set-72157615890062020/)This is why I can’t write sex scenes with my children in the same geographical region. All the sex scenes in Shine Shine Shine (there are four—would you like page numbers?) were written at the aforementioned mountain cabin, 600 miles away from my children. At home, I would always just allow the curtains to sweetly close. It took a full 24 hours of absolute separation to get me into a space where I could even get to PG-13.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is like beating through walls with a sledgehammer. It’s not some easy bliss on the other side, that you have to beat through walls to get to—it is the beating and it is the walls.

When something’s not working, that’s hitting at the wall and your mallet is accidentally rubber, or the wall is actually granite, and it just makes a dull, thumping sound, and doesn’t even ricochet, just thuds.

Writerhead is when the walls get big, dark cracks in them and then your mallet turns to steel and with a whooshing sound the walls break open and you’re smashing through, climbing through, finding another wall, crashing through that, and on. It’s paragraph after paragraph of going somewhere, changing the landscape, opening up new air pockets, consuming those and opening more. And when you’re done, it’s a complete mess (that’s what edits are for!) but you’re standing in a new place, a place you couldn’t see from where you started. When I started writing Shine Shine Shine, I did not know where it was going. I don’t even remember, from where I ended up, what I thought was on the other side of that first wall. That’s what writing books is for me: trying to see what’s on the other side, hammer in my hand, smashing for all I’m worth.

BIO: Bio: Lydia Netzer lives in Virginia with her two homeschooled children and her math-making husband. She plays in a rock band, pulls weeds, and is afraid of bears. Her first novel—Shine Shine Shine—will be published by St. Martin’s Press on July 17, 2012.

If you want to connect with Lydia—and I’m quite sure you will; how could you not?—become her friend on Facebook, Tweet her on Twitter (@lostcheerio), visit her website, or read the first 50 pages of Shine Shine Shine for free here.


Mojo Monday: The Next 38Write Workshop Is Open for Registration

It’s Mojo Monday, and as always, I’ve got a little something-something to lift your creative spirits, buoy you up, help you get your mojo on, and nudge (or better yet, catapult) you into writerhead.

Ready to write, folks?

Looking for a unique writing workshop?

Perfect timing…because the next edition of the 38Write writing adventure series—38Write  Structure—is now open for registration. (Click over to the CLASSES page for lots more information about this specific workshop and to sign up.)


38Write is a writing adventure workshop designed specifically for place-passionate, culturally curious writers that will get you out of your house—no matter where you live—and into your environs.

Last month, I launched the first 38Write online writing adventure with 38Write | Description, and yowza! It more than exceeded my hopes and expectations. Thirteen writers in 7 countries signed up, set off on their adventures, and wrote some intense, provocative prose.


  • Each writing adventure is 38 hours long. It’s a manageable amount of time that fits into anyone’s busy schedule. (Good gracious, no, you will not be writing or adventuring for 38 hours straight. I’m ambitious for you, but not crazy. You will need approximately 2-4 hours to work during the 38-hour period…give or take an hour.)
  • Each writing adventure will focus on one particular aspect of craft or the writing life. You will not be writing an entire essay or short story (but you might accidentally do so). Some adventures will focus on a skill, like writing kick-butt descriptions; others might get you to look at what inspires you or how you move from idea to writing.
  • During each 38-hour period, you’ll be able to connect with me and 38Write writers around the world via a Twitter hashtag. (How cool is that?!)
  • You will get feedback from me. (For more info about me, click here.)
  • Terrific for folks writing fiction, essays, or memoir.
  • Beginners and experienced writers are welcome and encouraged to join.
  • It’s affordable. A single 38Write writing adventure costs only $38 (U.S.).


While living, writing, and teaching writing in Shanghai, I learned (and/or relearned) a number of things:

    1. Each of us has a heck of a lot to learn from folks in other countries (and not usually the things we think we need to learn).
    2. Story is an international conversation that can help us better understand one another.
    3. By helping writers from all over the world to improve their craft, I can play a wee role in facilitating this global conversation.
    4. Writing is recursive. You must practice. (And if I do say so myself, I’m pretty darn good at getting writers to practice.)


38Write adventures are designed for all place-passionate writers, including expats and repats, globetrotters, armchair travelers, nomads, cultural spelunkers, deeply rooted souls, mapmakers and mapbreakers, wanderers and wayfarers, voyagers, and all writers interested in exploring and writing about their environs.

So, yup, if you’re asking, 38Write is probably for you.

To learn more and sign up for 38Write | Structure, visit CLASSES.


Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net