Posts Tagged ‘muse’

Clarita from Morquefile.

The Stage

Traci Kenworth


My hand closed on the curtain leading to the stage. This was it. The big moment. Before I’d been a part of the audience, this time, the devue had come for me. At fourteen, I’d longed for the year I’d be chosen. My chance to escape from this nightmarish world. Death would be welcome, a gift from being a food for one of the hellish creatures, who roamed the American Republic. I shivered as a shove came from behind and literally tripped onto the theater floor.

A woman, most likely a pet of the Society that ran these auditions, dressed in an all-black costume that looked like something out of a long-ago, whispered fairytale. I’d been a first-grader when the third world war struck, two years later, the monsters had attacked.  Now the Society ran the 1/3 of the country not governed by the enemy factions. Slowly, they were working their way into the military areas as well.

I could hear the children in the cages below, begging, pleading to be me. I’d been in their shoes many a time. First when I watched my Momma and then my Daddy take that chair, draw their chance at a lottery to be free. No more feeding pigs to an army of darkness. I’d gazed at their broken, weary bodies and wished I were them. To have it all end. I couldn’t stand the sucking, the slurping, or the chewing. Most of all, looking into a face so—human—it was eerie.

Picking myself up from the platform, I staggered thanks to a twisted ankle, over to the chair in the center. Tears clung to my eyelashes. Would they turn me away? Repulsed by an offering not perfect? There came no warning bells, no whistles and I breathed a sigh of relief. I sat down, braced myself, and waited.

I heard the sound of ropes swaying above, imagining which of the creatures would descend on her. The dark lady in the costume introduced me. “Mereketh, everyone. She looks to be a fine morsel indeed.” She cued the buckets of blood to be dropped on me. Hisses and yowls came from around me in the faces of a human population gone wrong.

I waited for just the right moment, balling my fists, as they crept toward me. It would be so easy—to let go—but I continued to let them surround me. As they began to fight among one another to see who would be leader of the pack, I drew my hands forward and uncurled my fingers. The toxic fumes reached into their midst and slashed the flesh from their bones as they’d done to many of ours.

I heard the children cry out and then cheer, something they hadn’t done in forever. When I hobbled from the chair, not a monster was standing, they’d all succumbed to magic they’d long forgotten. A magic not always grown on the Akara Mountains, but sometimes, in the heart of people everywhere.


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Ardelfin at morquefile.com

The Three Faces of Death

Traci Kenworth


That summer came in early, wet and stormy. I danced in a few puddles, and then cringed at the thought of someone seeing me out here, acting so childish. Seventeen wasn’t an age to veer from your course, otherwise, you could end up backtracked to Antarctica when it came to the popular crowd. I’d just stepped into their midst, and wasn’t about to be banished again. All my life, I’d watched them, hated them, and envied them.

A horn beeped twice before the car pulled over, Jesse inside.

I smiled just the way any cheerleader had been taught. Models had nothing on us. We were the it deal and everybody knew it.

He patted the seat beside him. “Get in.”

“Sure,” I said as butterflies somersaulted inside my stomach. Jesse Andrews was the hot everything at Fairlawn High. I’d worked my way up through the chain of command to shine in a tiny yellow skirt beside him.

He took the curves fast, the open road even faster. Soon we’d left the city lights behind us headed for anywhere. Jesse ran his hand up my thigh and I giggled my encouragement. Everything was falling into place. This was the best time of my life. His fingers explored further. He swerved over into the other lane. We skirted another curve. The Neon appeared in the headlights moments before Jesse hit the brakes. He had time to curse and dig down into my skin and then the crunch of metal silenced all.

Everyone said I was lucky I escaped the crash without a scratch. At the funeral, I could see it all in my classmates’ gazes: the blame. It took me a good year to drown the sorrow and the pain. I mean, how do you get over something like that? I couldn’t bear to shut my eyes at night because the image of Jesse was always there. Except, now, he wore a black cape and visited others in my nightmares. At the end of every one, he’d swing around and wink at me. As if we shared some great secret.

Jenny Bartlett was the last of the popular crowd to stick by me. Mostly, I suppose, because she was the one who took pity on me in the first place and invited me into the circle. She was smart, funny, talented, an all-around loved girl. But her efforts to save those beneath her loosened her crown. Others whispered. Said it wasn’t right. They somehow convinced themselves that we were dragging her down into a pit she couldn’t crawl out of. The rumors began to prey on her. Her boyfriend convinced me to talk to her about getting help when the depression deepened.

Five months later, she committed suicide.

I was left alone for good. The hallways cleared when I walked down them, others spit on my tracks after I was gone. Cyber-stalking took on a new meaning when it came to me. I was nicknamed, “Death.” I transferred schools twice but the identity followed as did the dreams. Jenny had joined Jesse as a reaper. Both motioned to me to follow them but I didn’t know how. Until my Mom left.

What little was left of my world came crashing down. I tried drugs, drank harder liquor, shoved myself into danger again and again. One night I went so high, I was able to grasp their hands. They held on tight and wouldn’t let me fall again. Now, I walk through darkness, side by side with my friends. We are the haunts in your night terrors, the last faces you see before you die. We are everything perfect, and everything to be feared.

We are death. Three faces united, statues in the cemetery, sprung to life.

Rebekah Purdy

Kelbian Naidoo

Vanessa Barger

Miranda Buchanon

Jenn Fischetto

Kit Forbes

Joey Nichols

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July Musings

July Musings

Traci Kenworth


Spent the 4th down in the Columbus area with family. It was a treat to catch up on the happenings in each other’s lives and meet some new people as well. It was a country-fine time. We hit garage sales on the way down where I picked a small Home Exterior cowboy boot and a framed picture of a Native American on horseback chasing down some buffalo. A chief silhouette was in the background.  I have an Old West theme going in my house and love to pick up things like this. I also found some cute presents for my niece’s daughter.

The small town we go through has century homes in it that look so cute and charming. I just love their antique feel. They have one that is known as the Ferdona Mall and is just the one small building. Now, I grew up in a century village so it felt like home to me. My nephew, who’s a firefighter, makes the best sausage & gravy biscuits with hash brown and eggs. He also made a mean barbecued pork tenderloin on the grill. We rounded the meal out with potato, pasta, and fruit salads. Yummy.

Looking at this month, there’s a lot of busy ahead. Have to make more progress on revisions, research more agents, and take care of home life, of course. I have a couple of windows in my house to fix and a whole lot of little renovations to look into. As anyone knows, house repairs are expensive, so a small amount at a time is the way to go for me.

I am so blessed with a wonderful family and friends. I look forward to the next half of this year and getting things straightened out that need to be. So any musings you’re doing with the new month here? Maybe turning your eyes toward Christmas(yeah, I’ve done a little so far)? Planning to hit those books, wrap up your story, start a new one?




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  Photo credit jppi from morguefile.

The Gaming Hall

Traci Kenworth


I wasn’t supposed to be in here, to see what went on, but hey, when your sixteen rules are meant to be broken. Especially when it may attract attention from parents who act like you don’t exist anymore since the divorce. Not that I wanted them crushing my world further than it was, but I’d heard things about this place. Things I hoped were true.

“What’s your name?” the woman in charge of the dice asked.

“Madeline Grace Hill,” I squeaked.

“Do you prefer Maddy?”

I nodded.

“Well, this table you’re sitting at is special but I can see right away that you need this more than most.”

I leaned forward. “Can it really help me? Get the two of them together again? To fix everything?”

She smiled. “I can promise, if the dice rolls right, they’ll never be apart again.”

I took the dice in hand. They felt cold, slimy to the touch. I shivered in despite of the sweltering heat outside and in the room. The background around us seemed to fade, the noise of the crowd drowned out. There was only the two of us—and a wish.

“Choose your bet,” she said.


“Lucky sevens. Let’s roll.”

I wiggled the pieces in my hand and then let them fly forth.

The dice tipped and landed on—seven.

My hand went to my throat.

“A winner in the house,” the woman called. She glanced at me and her smile appeared a bit—toothy. And not the crooked kind of way, but gappy like a creature in a horror flick. “Go home, Maddy.”

I stood then paused. “But how will I know it worked?”

She tapped the dice. “The magic is in the dice.”

I hurried home through twisted, populated streets. Caught the subway and felt the splash as we went under the river above. I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other as I went to the door. A blood-curdling scream unlocked my hesitancy.

Inside, I found them.

Hooked together like Siamese twins.

On the sofa, the woman from the table stood. “You see, now they’ll have to get along.”

I stared in horror as each reached for a knife.

The woman shrugged. “Or maybe not.” She stepped toward me. “But, in any case, there’s a price to be paid for the wish.” She licked her needle-like teeth.

The End




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How to Breathe Life into Your Characters

Part 1: What is in a Name?

Traci Kenworth


How do you go about naming your characters? Do you just close your eyes, dip

your finger onto the page, and choose that one? Or do you meticulously search for one? In any case, the one you end up is going to say a lot about your character. It’s instantly going to give us an image of who he/she is. The type of profession we see them in. Family person or single? And more come to mind.

Take Harry for instance. If we look into the meanings of baby names it means, “Army Ruler.” But when I think of the name Harry, I don’t see that. I see an average Joe, just trying to get along. A family man who brings home the bread. Solid. Dependable. Someone who makes a good Grandpa or friend. Harry’s got a lot going for him, if you want his type of character in your story. But if you want, say a British character, or a villain, his name wouldn’t do at all.

All right, let’s try: Caydan. His name means, “Fighter.” And he sounds like a hero, tough as nails, someone who will go the extra mile. Someone devoted, tough when called for, and a popular guy. Friends growing out of his ears and the like. Oh, and his name is American. So that leaves out a foreign tribute. He definitely makes Harry come across as a bit boring, a bit set in his way. Caydan promises danger, romance, intrigue.

Gabriel means, “God is my strength.” This name evokes heavenly references, of course, but it was one of the most popular old-fashioned baby names. To me, a Gabriel sounds like he would be Lord of the castle, a gentleman of means. He also sounds a bit edgy, on the outskirts of what society might find as the norm. Compared to Caydan and Harry, Gabriel is unique. He could be the hero or the villain of the piece. He could even be a “she.”

Which brings us to the heroine names. Let’s start with: Abedabun is Cheyenne for Sight of the Day. Her name could encompass many different character traits. She is the maiden that saves the village, a Present-Day champion of Native American values. We have loads of possibilities with this one. She can be anything and everyone. A secret agent perhaps? A mother defending her children? A heroine who has been framed for a crime she didn’t commit?

Whereas Abigail is stoic, someone certain in the path they choose. She is old-fashioned, perhaps a bit wealthy, upper-crust. One doesn’t see Abigail fighting off alligators, running from terrorists, or blazing a path of glory. But she could. Twisting the fate/name of a character broadens their horizons and ours. It calls for us to stretch as writers. And that alone could make planting the seed of her name worth it.

Queeny. Wife. Grandmother. Someone trying to break out of the mold. She wishes for so much more out of life than what has befallen her. She strives to make a better live for her children even in the face of danger. She is courageous, a bit rebellious, freedom-loving. You could do so many fascinating things with this character. She has no boundaries, no limits.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Picking names that resonate with our ideas of the character? We can take Harry and Abigail together and make them uproot from our perceptions. We can make them heroes or villains, a force to be reckoned with, or a prop for laughs. They can be the loyal friends of our hero/heroine, or monsters waiting to be noticed. The truth is, any name can become unique because it’s how we see it, what our imagination pulls forth. So the next time you need a name for a character, stroll through the possibilities of baby names, their meanings, their origination, hidden perks that can bring them to life.

And paint that picture of them. Let them soar into creation, designed to be all that they can be, with just a whisper of a name. That’s the first test of breathing life into your characters…


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Writer At Work

Traci Kenworth


So what do our days really look like? Where do they take us?

Well, for me, it begins after I get the kids off to school. About 7 a.m. if not sooner, I try

to be at my computer. I do the email and boards thing first then settle into whatever project I’m working on at the moment. Most weekend mornings, I try and write for the blogs I’m part of: Totally4YA, the YAFF Muse blog, and my own WordPress one. Once I knock these out of the way, I get down to business with writing.

Now, admittedly, all that “writing” time is not always spent doing so. Sometimes it’s research time. I’ve recently researched ghouls, Native American prophecies, skin-walkers, and Genetic Engineering. Research can take hours or days depending on what you’re looking for. Fascinating things catch your eyes, lead you off on a merry chase to discover more about the subject.

Those mentioned above are in reference to a horror story I’ve been working on initialed, SH. I wanted my creatures to be something different than traditional vampires, werewolves or zombies. So I’ve begun to blend, blend, blend the myth with new twists. I love re-working legends. You can take a creature’s fear of the sunlight and make it into so much more. How they came into being can be twisted to suit your purposes.

I’d say 50% of writing time is done researching for me, that’s how much I want what I’m doing to make sense, explore the impossible. The other half is meant to pull the research, characters, plotline etc. together. It’s hard to explain the “magic” that happens to a non-writer. You simply sit at the keyboard or with a pad and a pencil/pen and “listen” to the characters tell their stories. It doesn’t always happen right away. There are days when you fight to get a sentence out of them, and others when the flow can’t be stopped. But as you progress, you realize that you’ve really got something here: a story others might be interested to read/hear.

And so you keep at it, fighting, pushing, and sometimes shoving toward that ending. Is it difficult? Yes and no. But the joy of the finished product can’t be compared. A lot of people want to write a book someday but the truth is it’s harder than it looks and can take years of practice before you even get noticed. There are no short-cuts, no secret formulas. It’s mostly sit in the chair and work to apply what you’ve learned to what you still are learning. It never becomes stagnant.

A writer’s work like housework is never done. It keeps building into searching for an agent, rewrites, more rewrites, hoping to catch the eye of the elusive editor, rewriting again, and even after the books sees print there’s promotion to be concerned with. In today’s market, the reality is, you have to get out there and run the bases to earn your readers. And once you have them, don’t ever take them for granted. They support us to do what we love to do.

It all begins with that first page and carries on to the last. And then, even before you’re done with one story, you must begin the next. You never want to come out of the gate betting on just one horse. At the moment, while I’m re-writing SH, I’ve got Walking in the background, calling out for its rewrites. And then there’s a new story clamoring for my attention. Like I said, the Muse never sleeps. It may get rusty from time to time but it merely needs recharged. Watching a movie, reading a book, observing life can jog it.

Then the challenge begins again. Can I do it? Will it even see light of day? Sometimes it’s frustrating. The road to publication is paved with rejections but don’t lose heart. You came into this business to tell stories, to share them with others, if you never reach bestsellerdom, that’s okay. You did what was in your heart, touched lives out there, all in all, you did your job. And that’s all anyone can ask. Good luck with your writing.

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Photo Credit: Vanessa Barger

Ghost Cannons

Traci Kenworth

The billows of smoke stung my nostrils. So much for a summer to relax, I thought.

Instead, I’d spend it here among old artifacts and forgotten memories. Talking to ghosts. And wishing for so much more.

“Maggie,” Josh Winters sprinted to catch up.

I slowed my pace, hoping I wouldn’t blush at his nearness again. A cute boy to share the warm weather with wasn’t a bad trade. Still, I wished that all this history stuff would just go back into the dusty archives it rested in. Josh, my father, and Dean Wittimer’s father felt different though. To them, this was the life. They spent all their free time searching past volumes, shedding light on a time long past. What good did it serve to know about eighteenth-century mortars, howitzers, and guns or cannons? Not like they could help me pursue the one thing I wanted: someone to share my life.

It did give us something to talk about though.

“Did you see it?” he said as he pushed his glasses back on his face. “The four-pounder galloper? So much for being lightning fast on the military field?”

“Yes, but revolutionary for its time.”

He laughed. “You had to sneak that word in there, didn’t you?”

“Why not?” I smiled. “So many people study the Civil War, fewer truly know of the Revolutionary one.”

“But our dads are going to make that difference, aren’t they?”

I nodded.

“So,” he said as we walked along, “I saw you and Dean talking the other day—”

“Oh, yeah. We were discussing projectiles and the idea of the Americans dodging the British cannonballs like they were no more than soccer balls on the field.”

“Imagine kicking one of those things. You’d break your foot in many different places.”

“Good thing they were better at dancing a jig over them.”

Josh cleared his throat. “Speaking of dancing…were you going to Friday’s at Gayle’s house?”

Gayle Anderson? The girl rumored to be Josh’s girlfriend? Even Alexander had hinted he’d seen Josh and her out near the monuments. My heart sank. Love just wasn’t meant for me I guess. I shrugged. “Don’t know.”

“Well, I wanted to invite you. To you know, hang out with me and Gayle. If you want.”

Dean came over to us then. He was another hottie, but we were just good friends. He frowned at Josh. “She’s no second stringer.”

Josh gulped and backed a bit at Dean’s muscles.

“It’s not like that,” Josh said.

Dean hovered over him. “Isn’t it?”

Josh continued to stammer.

I opened my mouth but Dean said, “Say, Maggie, take a walk with me?”

I glanced from him to Josh and back again. “Sure.”

Josh didn’t protest as Dean led me away.

I pulled my arm from his several yards out. “What was that about?”

“You want to date the guy, right?”

I nodded.

“Then give him a little competition.”

“I suppose you want to volunteer to help me along?”

He grinned and my heart just about stopped. What was it about best guy friends? “Sure, why not?”

We began to walk again. Coming upon an old howitzer, we both stopped as a ghost stepped out before us.

“Morning to you.”

I crossed my arms. “Alexander, you’ve got to stop doing this.”

He gave me an innocent smile. “Doing what?”

Dean laughed. “She just doesn’t want you interfering with her catching Josh.”

Alexander eyed me. “The Winters chap?” He gestured to Dean. “Always thought you’d get along more famously with this one.”

Dean lifted his arms. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her. Our dads are both good friends, we share the same distaste of history, and then there’s you. Who knew we’d both be able to see and talk to you?”

“Careful there now, lad.” He jerked his thumb back behind us. “The fog of war is about to come out.”

Sure enough the billows of cannon fire swept around us, scrubbing us from each other’s sight. The acrid smell of the pineapple shot made my nose wrinkle. I held my breath, waiting for the smoke to clear. When it did, both grinned at me.

“Take the advice of an old ghost, Maggie. There are a thousand Josh Winters out there. Smart boy, handsome enough, but these,” he jabbed a finger at Dean, “only come once in a lifetime. Snap him up.” He winked. “Besides, didn’t I hear those friends of yours saying most girls prefer the bad boy to the good one.”

“Hey,” Dean scowled, “I’m not bad—”

“Shush, lad. Trying to help your case here.”

“Well, maybe,” Dean stepped real close to me, put his arms around me, and leaned down to kiss me, “This will prove it better.”

Cannon fire erupted around us once more, and the thick fog moved in, but we stood within each other’s arms, lost to everything but the kiss.

Alexander muttered something about his job being done here.

“Does that mean you won’t return?” I asked.

“Oh, I’ll be around, just a little less visible.”

“We’ll miss you,” Dean said, his hand covering mine.

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Here it is phrase of the week again for the YAFF Muse Blog:

A rock sailed through the broken window, catching a jagged piece of glass and spraying shards….


Traci Kenworth

A rock sailed through the broken window, catching a jagged piece of glass and spraying shards of the test tubes, Bunson burners, and glass specimens of different species over the lab floor. My containment tank cracked at the force of the next missile. I flailed as the liquid burst forth sending me crashing onto the tile. My eyes blinked, adjusting to the light.

I put a hand to a steel cabinet and hauled myself up.

Empty, staring gazes met mine as I looked around the room.

And I remembered.

Signing up.

The handshakes.

Mysterious smiles.

Clauses I couldn’t understand.

There’d been no choice. I was destitute. No family, no friends. The perfect choice for an experiment. I touched my face and looked down at my body. No six legs, two, just the same as I remembered them. Likewise with my hands. I looked for all appearances the same as when I came in. So what had they done to me? The sterile atmosphere of the lab mixed with the smells of strong coffee. My nostrils picked up another scent. Faint but getting closer. I zeroed in on it. Pounding, steady, alive. My mouth watered. I slid to the side of the doors just as the whooshed open, admitted an intern. I was on her before she had a chance to turn.

My teeth extended, as thick as a cougar’s, and ravaged her neck.

Blood, warm, juicy, filled me and yet, I hungered for more.

Her cold, lifeless body slipped from my grasp.

I glanced around.

The other tanks caught my gaze.

I smirked.

My own army.

I released the first…

The End.


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Odds & Ends

Traci Kenworth

I’m reading Girl From Mars by Tamara Bach. It’s not my usual type of book. It’s

Contemporary and I’m more into fantasy/horror but it was on the list of The Best Books of 2010, so I thought I’d give it a try. Should finish it up today. I’m hoping by expanding my reading, it will help my “voice” and the dynamics of approaching the Young Adult market. I always want to write to the reader. After all, that’s why I do what I do.

Next up is 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, then a western by Tabor Evans followed by ta-dah(and OMG, I can’t wait!)Mockingjay!! Paranormal and dystopian are also a big part of my reading. But then, to be honest, other than contemporaries, I read most anything. And it has improved my writing drastically. Each time I pick up a book, it teaches me something new. Either a way of looking at things, or how to draw my characters, setting, etc. better. It’s a win-win situation.

I’m so enamored of the Young Adult market right now. There is such good stuff!! And I’m loving it as that’s what I strive to write. My characters just usually call out to me from that direction though I have had several adult voices as well. Right now, I’ve pulled The Safe House or SH for short, off the market until I can do a first-person re-write. It’s coming along good and faster than I thought. Which is a nice surprise. I hope to get it back out there in the next couple of months, then focus on re-writing Walking.

It is so hard to know what direction you’re going in. That’s where critique partners or beta readers come in. They help you polish things. I so appreciate each and everyone of the ladies from YoungAdultFictionFanatics(or YAFF)that do so for me. They’ve seen my work in the raw stages as well as further along. They’re my first readers and they can be tough but they really push me along and help me grow as a writer.

I’m also branching out into reading new blogs and putting my fiction out there in hopes of good reviews or the presence of at least one fan. You don’t know how important you are to us as writers. Without you, we have no future in this business. So each piece of feedback you give us matters tremendously!! In these blogs, I’m finding a lot of research avenues, ones I didn’t know existed.

Like take for instance, The Bookshelf Muse, recommended by fellow writer friend and YAFF member, Miranda Buchanan and I fell in love with their informative pieces. When I need to evoke something in the five senses, setting, emotional-wise or so on, I go here. They never let me down. Then there’s Writer’s Thesaurus that points me in the direction of research sites I might not otherwise discover. YAFantasyGuide is another to name a few. There are so many wonderful ones out there waiting to be discovered.

Two new ones I plan to look into to display my work are inkpop.com and Scribed.com. I hear they’re some of the best places to get your writing out there, to build a fan base. And isn’t that what we’re all really after? Fans make the world go round for an author. So, if you’d like to drop a line to your favorite, rest assured, they’re going to want to read it and bask in the warmth that someone out there cares.

So have your read any good books lately? Have any blogs you want to give a shout out to? As always, the ladies at YAFF are mentioned on my page, so if you’d like give them a try. They won’t disappoint you.

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