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Garden flower

Garden flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Jan, 24, 2013: Update

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Editing is going well. I tend to pick at things writing-wise and it takes me longer than getting that first draft written which, I suppose, is as it should be. Editing takes times. It’s about looking at things and making sure you have everything where the camera-in-your-mind wants it. There is usually some pruning (whether it’s taking out a character/s, changing a situation, rewriting a scene) and some juggling (switching everything around to improve the flow), not to mention tweaking of material to get it just right.

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve concentrated on the people in my story more than the events happening around them. I’ve brought them front-and-center and shown how life around them bulldozes them or makes them stronger. You see, I’m learning the story is about the character with the problem not the problem itself. Now, there are writers out there who focus on the plot and not the protagonist and they’re skilled at the twists and turns, but for me, I “love” the story that brings me into the world of the hero/heroine and shows me who they are and how they react to the situation they’re put in.

 

I was having a particular problem with one heroine who I couldn’t get to “care” about the situation she was in. Turns out, I had the “wrong” character in mind for her and had to crush her and begin from scratch again. Her looks changed from a brunette to a blonde and I “cast” a different actress to play her. Instantly, the world opened up around her from my ability to see   how she’d face things, to who she was as a person. Sometimes it takes a bit of shaking up to get a character just right. Now, I know not everyone pictures particular actors for a part, but I feel it helps me if I can zoom in on their facial expressions, how they walk and talk, how they encounter a problem and persevere, or not.

 

Other unexpected things happened. My hero found out some things about the people in his life that he wish he hadn’t which took him to a darker place. Grief does that. As in reality, some people disappoint us, while others surprise us. It all works together as a whole, to enrich our story. Sometimes I think that’s why certain ones take us longer to write: we haven’t grasped the concept of what they’re all about yet. So, yeah, my work’s not done yet, I still have to continue on with the tweaking, doing all the things mentioned beforehand, and seam things back together but I’m happy and that’s what it’s all about: bringing your story to fruition. Good luck out there with yours.

 

 

 

 

 

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The other side of the Story

The other side of the Story (Photo credit: mumchancegaloot)

 

First Update for the Year

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

I intended to post this early this morning but got sidetracked by black ice and a fall. I’m okay, my knees are just a little banged up and hand and legs hurt but otherwise, A-OK.  Just wasn’t expecting the ground to slip out from beneath my feet, lol. I think that sometimes happens in our writing life too. We’re sprinting along on a project and then bam, something happens to set us back. I had plenty of that for the last 3-4 weeks with editing. Most of it involved not being sure of where I was going but some of it was a sneak-attack that left me crawling over a puddle of ice, trying to reach solid or stable ground.

 

I have learned SO much from The Other Side of the Story and taking the approach of having my character/s face a problem in every scene, usually stemming from something’s that’s gone before like little ripples on a pond.  It’s really shaped my story up nicely. Now, I’m not just giving them just ANY problem but one that relates either to my main plot or is an off-shoot of one of my subplots.  I can’t tell you how much stronger my characters are for doing this. I’ve had to step back and dissect each scene and figure out the heart of them. The result is amazing.

 

Never stop learning your craft. It’s so important to grow as writers. When it comes to my stories, I want to always reach beyond the ordinary. I want to make the reader laugh, cry, sing, dance, all the emotions available to us, but most of all, I want to leave them with hope. A hope that light can shine into the darkness and beat it back. My characters have gone from stick-figures to people you can almost hear breathe. That’s no accident. It’s pushing myself that stretches those boundaries, moves me into the next level. Don’t be afraid to reach for the seemingly impossible. You’ll love where it takes you and your work. Good luck and happy writing.

 

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9780765328663

Book Review: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Traci Kenworth

 

Tor Books 2012       332 pages

Hook: I think I killed a girl who looked like this once.

Spoiler Alert for Anna if you haven’t read.

This is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, of course and Theseus Cassio Lowood is back as the ghost hunter with the athame who only sends ghosts that do harm to others. He, Cas, is on a date thanks to Carmel, but all he can think about is how Cait reminds him of Emily Danagger, a dead girl he killed four years ago. It was when he was younger and more easily rattled before a ghost named Anna Korlov saved his life. He’s a pariah at school as others think he killed Mike (Anna did due to curse) and Will and Chase (a ghost who murdered his dad did) last year.

The date goes bad and he and Carmel end up leaving and meeting up with Thomas, whose become his best friend over the year he’s been in Thunder Bay. Both accompany him on a hunt in Grand Morais, Minnesota. The ghost almost kills Carmel. For the first time, he didn’t worry about where the ghost went when it died (the athame has been cleansed of the Obeahman).

While the athame is being purified, he worries that Carmel and Thomas shouldn’t be around him anymore. It can get them killed. Also worries that he heard Anna’s laugh in the ghost he killed. Carmel calls Cas on his hesitation to wield the athame. He tells them he can’t give up on Anna until he knows she’s at peace. He says he wants to cool things for a while.

One of his mom’s clarity candles breaks at his feet and later at the mall he sees a mannequin step off the platform wearing Anna’s dress. Carmel and Thomas say he was shouting. Some of her crowd is around and looks shell-shocked. He’ll be the gossip of the school tomorrow. More and more episodes happen with Anna until Cas realizes she’s with the Obeahman in a hell where he’s torturing her. He searches for a way to free her.

This book was every bit as promising as the first one. There’s action, heart-break, love, and redemption. The trio of Cas, Carmel, and Thomas is at times tragic and endearing to watch. I really like that the grown-ups aren’t out of the picture in this either. Not that they tell the story or take over anywhere, it’s just nice to see that they’re not the sometimes uncaring individuals in some books out there. They feel real. Cas and company feel real. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!! Can’t wait to see what Kendare Blake has planned for us with Anti-Goddess, I’m unsure if this next one is a Cas book or not. We’ll see, I suppose.

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Flower & pot

Flower & pot (Photo credit: Vijay Sonar)

 

Progress Update

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Things are going well so far. I’m digging deeper and deeper into edits and the changes

 

and questions that have come up. So far, I’ve changed one character’s gender and ethnicity, tweaked the background, and considered whether to leave-in or take-out the brief backstories I gave my two main characters. All the while, reading, and discovering that things are not as bad as they could be at this point. I like the story. It needs chipped away at still to become what it will, but it’s off to a good start.

 

Lest you should wonder if I’ve read the whole thing in its entirety yet, the answer is no.

 

I’m only on chapter four and still jotting down notes. Most of what I’m doing at this point, is absorbing what needs to be done to make things better. I’m enjoying myself though. Yes, that’s right. I used the right word. Lol. Editing is a tool used to shape the possibilities. A writer should learn to like the process if not love it because it helps to bring everything into focus for the story.

 

Good luck with your own stories, I’ll update from time to time as I go along.

 

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Edit of Death

Edit of Death (Photo credit: Ric James)

 

Off I go, Editing

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

The days have passed quicker than I thought. Editing time has arrived. I’m going to begin

 

with a read-through of LATWD and see what catches/problems I see. I began writing the book about March of this year. So I guess it’s been about a six-month process. From here on out, I want to concentrate on shaping it, making it better. I’m so hoping I don’t find it a big, jumbled mess but instead the awesome story I think it is. It’s taken a lot to get it to this point, and I thank my critique partners for helping me arrive here.

 

Now, the real hurdles begin. Are the characters strong enough? Is the plot riveting? Will

 

it maintain reader interest? All these questions and more need to be answered. The truth of the matter is though, I prefer this stage. What? Editing can be a preference? For me, yes. I like it because it’s like being an archaeologist and discovering a fossil. You have to carefully dig out the finished project. It’s not ready, till it’s completely unearthed. With your manuscript, at this point, you only have the bones. Now you need to flesh things out, bring to life the dinosaur.

 

It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Trying to recreate something you imagined months ago into

 

something that’s going to hold your reader’s attention into the years beyond this hopefully? Of course, we want to imagine what we put down the first time is perfect, but the truth is manuscripts take work, lots of it. No one unearths an exhibit that’s ready for viewers overnight. It takes time, many plans, help from outside ourselves, and patience. In the end, you want things to be perfect when it takes the stage. So no hurrying. Step back and observe, lay the groundwork for success.

 

 

 

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Book Review: Love Across Time by Anne Meredith

Traci Kenworth

 

376 pages        St. Martin’s paperbacks 1995

Hook line: In her dreams, the man calls her name.

Lindsey runs in fear of a portrait Jonathan showed her. It’s the man from her dreams

every summer she returns to Windsor Hall(Jonathan’s aunt owns, Lindsey’s Grandma brings her there.). The ghost haunts the grounds the keeper says. His granddaddy knew him and he was the saddest man alive. He was also a murderer.

Years pass and Lindsey is hiding from her father, Edward Quinn at Windsor Hall. She

doesn’t remember him. All he cares about is himself her Grandma says. His super model wife won’t have children. She thinks it’ll ruin her body. Grandma sends Lindsey to hide out with Joanathan and Irene. Lindsey hasn’t seen Jonathan in six years.

Jonathan finds her and hides her down passageway leading to the old room in which

Confederate soldiers had been hid from Union patrols. It had been the painting that kept her away. Her grandmother parted ways with her telling her to trust the legend of the Callahan women for it’s true.

“In saving his life, hers will be saved, and a new life be found.” The legend is that a

Callahan woman saved King’s life by betraying the man she loved. He granted one wish to her ever century. She asked for the man who tried to kill him, to be freed. They were banished from England forever.

A knock sounds on the door they came through. Her daddy knows she’s in there.

Jonathan is shot in a struggle with her father’s men. He tells her to make a good wish before he dies. She wishes to go back, to change the man who made Jonathan’s family unhappy. A peculiar woman appears telling her about three centuries, three wishes, the last to save the heir to the rightful throne. She leads Lindsey into fog and tells she must change a heart, to save a life, to fulfill a wish.

She finds Devlin Windsor and tells him it’s all right, she’s there. He lets go of her and

she finds herself escorted by Miss Cora Brody, Shannon Windsor’s great aunt. She’s there to be a governess to him by word of Emily Van Kirk, the wish granter. Shannon never knew his father (Devlin’s brother), he died in Civil War and his mother died giving birth to him. Agrees to one month trial or she leaves without pay.

Devlin rides in and looks up at her window with such yearning. She finds spiders in her

bed. Devlin enters. Miss Brody mutters about “that boy.” Shannon looks like Jonathan as a boy. Lindsey instantly loves. Lindsey learns from Cora that she expects Devlin to be engaged to Cynthia McKenzie in a month.

Lindsey takes Shannon for a ride and gets a hard-to-control mount. Devlin saves her from

cliff. She expects him to fire her after she kisses his throat on an intimate double ride but he doesn’t. Cora determines to fire her but Devlin hires her back. The copperhead penny she wears is a symbol of Southern sympathizers, Devlin tells her. She removes it. Kendrick was not Devlin’s older brother but his younger twin. He died not in war, but defending a woman of ill repute’s honor. He does care about Shannon. And he’s not at all anxious to marry Cynthia.

Devlin’s father was no blue blood. He was illegitimate. He married an Irish barmaid and

came to a new world. Devlin and Kendrick were on opposite sides of the war. Devlin, Union; Kendrick, Confederate. War changed Kendrick. Both suffered shrapnel to back. They fought and loved same woman since birth. Devlin murdered Kendrick over her.

Devlin shows kindness to Shannon and Lindsey gets her first glimpse of Cynthia. The

two seem intimate. Cora is angry over Devlin’s change in attitude and the fact that Lindsey doesn’t know Latin. Devlin says there’s a teacher in town. Devlin had forgotten how old Shannon is. He sends a new wardrobe Lindsey’s way for a ball for Shannon. He refuses to let her not attend. He says women are deceitful. She tells him a woman would be a fool to love him.

At the dance, Lindsey realizes she loves Devlin. When she returns to Shannon and he

opens her gifts, Cynthia McKenzie enters. Lindsey is shocked to see Cynthia is Shannon’s mother. Cynthia is very ill. The woman bids Lindsey to visit her. She lives on the landing. Lindsey dances with Cynthia’s brother, Colin, who is bitter about loses his family’s estate. Colin says Cynthia will never marry Yankee Devlin.

Devlin and Lindsey end up on a balcony in an alcove thanks to Shannon. They kiss and

more. The curtains open to an audience. Lindsey is mortified. Devlin believes Lindsey set up the scene with the help of a servant. Now he will marry her but it will be a bitter marriage he tells her, no love. She pleads her innocence, agrees because of Shannon, and tells him in the end he’ll regret that her love will never be his.

I just have to say that Anne Meredith is a superb storyteller. Her characters are haunting

and so larger-than-life. I’m a big fan of Time-Travel Romance and this is no exception. I loved it from cover to cover. Every time I picked up the book, I was transported back in time to a romance that is truly magical. It’s a tale about forgiveness and how love can heal even the darkest past. I like to think that’s true in real life as well. I am definitely going to look up other stories by Anne Meredith. I believe this was the third book in a series by her, but you don’t have to read the others to read this one. Although the legend wasn’t filled into detail as I’d have liked, I had no trouble following it. So, yes, I highly recommend this author and this book. Enjoy.

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Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

The Confident Writer

Traci Kenworth

 

When I first began to take this journey to write for publication, I still viewed it through

the lens of an unsure writer. I lacked discipline, a regular schedule, and knowledge of my craft. I was ready to grow, I just wasn’t sure how. That’s why writing in itself is so hard to teach to another. It takes a drive, a confidence in yourself that builds over time through experience. What works for me, might not work for you and vice versa.

Something happens as you practice putting all those words together, into forming

sentences, and developing your writing. There’s no style at first. The story part is not quite there. You have the passion, but not the know-how to breathe life into your stories. Don’t give up. There’s untapped magic there waiting to be brought to the surface. Each of us will approach the study part of writing just like the journey itself.

I started with craft books. Tons and tons of them. A writing course here and there. They

helped but I still wasn’t seeing what I wanted to in my stories. I studied my favorite writers, even first-time novelists to find the key. What I discovered was this: there is no key. No one can tell you how to do it. Because the trials and tribulations we all experience are like life: no two paths are alike. They diverge at points sure, but the getting there happens different for everyone.

The next part of my journey involved cps (critique partners). I had some bad and good

ones. Those were more lessons that helped me grow. I was still unsure of myself at this point, not trusting myself to go with my gut about things. Along came one of the best things to happen to me as a writer: I met a wonderful cp who introduced me to a writing group called yaff (YoungAdultFictionFanatics). These ladies took me under their wings and taught me how to write a story, queries, etc. Some of which I didn’t realize were necessary in my earlier efforts.

Under their tutelage, I have seen my writing go from shoddy to better. I won’t say I’m an

expert. I doubt any real writer ever thinks their work is good enough. But I have seen the potential for telling a good story emerge over the last year. I can look at something I wrote a long while ago and something current and see a vast difference. The growth I was seeking is there. I’ve learned that I don’t ever want to stop learning. Perhaps, in truth, there is a key to be learned after all. It comes in having a confidence in yourself, in seeing a truth to what you put down on your paper.

You have to learn to let go, to let your writing happen, to trust that you’re doing what the

story needs, when it needs it. Talk to your characters, build those settings, but don’t forget: everything begins with you. Your life lessons, the study of your craft, and building writing relationships. Don’t try and be some other writer. Be yourself. You’re unique. No one will ever approach the story you’re writing the way you do. That’s where you find your voice, that’s where your path widens to draw in the things you’ll need to continue your journey. Confidence will grow inside you and that will help you face the rejections, the pitfalls, and the bad breaks then when you reach the horizon, everything before you will be blessed. Good luck on your journey.

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Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

To Wait or Not…

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

So, I’ve got this dilemma. Now that I’ve finished my first draft of my current wip, I’m

 

not sure how long to wait in-between drafts. I’ve gone a couple weeks already since writing “the end.” I’m wondering if I should wait another two, or perhaps longer. You see, when I start “tearing things apart” or as we like to call, “editing,” I tend to take a long time doing so. And before you know it, the holidays are going to be upon us. I’ve read that agents don’t like their e-mail boxes cluttered during that time.

 

I’m excited about this book. I think it could possibly be “the one.” The trouble is, I don’t

 

want to rush it. I get all butterfly-feeling inside when I think of doing things wrong. Yet, I know that I also tend to procrastinate when it comes time to query and hold myself back when I should be pressing forward. I don’t think there’s too much to be changed, as far as major plot points right now. Though that may change after I get the results back from my beta readers perhaps. I’ve already sent it the rounds through my cps.

 

This morning, I came up with a cool new idea for another short story(I’ve already

 

finished one.) I could start that while I’m doing the waiting game. It should be time to polish the finished short story after that. There’s things to do. It’s just a matter of whether I want to put aside LATWD longer or shove into the editing phase. The way things look, if I do wait and get caught in the holiday crunch, it may be next year before I can query it. I’m not sure I want to wait that long.

 

Opinions? How long do you usually wait before digging into edits? Has there ever been a

 

time you’ve felt you rushed it? Or taken too long to get back to it?

 

 

 

 

 

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Image representing Google Gears as depicted in...

Image via CrunchBase

 

High Gears in Writing can be Grueling

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

Sometimes high gears in writing can be great. You’re flying past the curves, staying on the road, headed in the right direction but things can quickly get out of control. There are times when slow processes are needed. Such as when you’re trying to transition a scene. You don’t want to drive all-out, you could go off the pavement. Instead, take your time, savor the scene, get the details just right. Give your reader a breather, so to speak. After all, you don’t want one race track from start to finish.

 

Everything has to be done in a step-by-step action. Introduce us to your characters. Bring on the inciting incident but don’t go speeding through it all. Readers like to linger by the roadside, enjoy the scenery, digest things. If you just rush through things, we’ll never get a chance to get to know the characters, understand why their goal is so important to them, cringe at the risks of tackling the obstacle.

 

But you say readers want the big bang up-front. Actually, they like to take their time and get to know you’re people, their hopes, theh dreams. I’m not saying to go on forever with these details. There has to be just enough. How do you know when you’ve reached that? By paying attention during your revisions. Do you yawn in some places? That’s where you need to step in and speed things up. Do you struggle to figure out what’s going on among the latest action dispersed on the pages? Slow it down and add breathers.

 

An obstacle course isn’t something most readers enjoy. If you want to get Sally and Joe across the raging river, show the fear, the struggles, the disappointment, but also include the moments when they break their progress to interact, to hug, to encourage each other. Danger keeps things hopping, sure. Give your reader too much of it though from page one to finish and you may send them dodging for the comforts of reality. So, yeah, use different gears when you write. Save the high gear for the climax and spurts threaded throughout your story. As you gain experience, you’ll know when to use each.

 

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Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: baejaar)

 

Book Review: Happiness Is…

 

Traci Kenworth

 

 

 

The book is published by Word Publishing and has no author listed. 1995.

 

 

 

I ran across this little book on my shelf the other day and waxed nostalgic. This book was gifted to me about seven months before my marriage, by my sister. I miss little books like these sometimes. So positive. Uplifting. A treasure to find when you’re having a less than fantastic day. Oh, how I wish my then-self could have known more, realized what was going on in my life, but things happen for a reason and I would not have wanted to miss my children despite the pain and loss of the later years.

 

In any case, sometimes I think we forget to look inside ourselves at what’s going on in our lives and see the signs, the warnings. Books like this one make our eyes see what our heart must have and ignored. Here’s a verse from it that I love:

 

“The world’s joy glows brightly for a moment and then fades away. God’s joy is forever!”

 

How true for me. The things I’ve always wanted—and got—did not satisfy me for long. There was always something else to reach for, something more to gain. But when I come to God, in his presence, all things make sense. He instills a peace in me that I fought many years to find. Books like these are needed. To remind us to look, to realize, to inspire us to not settle for the lonely and the despair but to open our hearts to what God is for me: love and healing.

 

I encourage you to seek out little gifts like these, to become amazed when you look into your heart and see the truth. Happiness is believing in something greater than ourselves. It’s having the faith of a little child to begin again. And in doing so, persevere.

 

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