Posted in blogs, Craft, MG & YA

Seven Links7/13/19 Traci Kenworth


Seven Links…7/13/19

Traci Kenworth


1. “And so it ends, after 67 years. One of the great American institutions, Mad Magazine, is closing up shop. Gone but not forgotten will be the famous Mad mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, whose mysterious background is discussed here. So popular was he that he occasionally ran for president, with the slogan: “You could do worse… and always have!”

Along with my parents and my teachers, Madplayed a major part in the formation of my young life. Its influence is with me still—and I hope it always will be.” I remember Mad. Funny!



4. “Show of hands – who’s looked at social media posts from favorite authors and coveted (no, that’s not one of the c words … keep reading) that author’s success? And since we all know how real those social media posts are, I’m going to share with you my C-tips.


We’ve all heard that there are no unique stories to be told, that it’s only our personal spin that makes a version of the story stand out. Our super-power as writers is to see the magic in the ordinary. A headline or inanimate object or a person in the grocery store line can trigger an avalanche of story ideas.

A couple of years ago, my son and I took an ice cream making class/tour at a local boutique ice cream maker’s factory. At one point while listening to the owner explain the process, I realized I was watching a character in the book I was working on. The character in the book is male and looks nothing like her, but I’d been struggling to who he was and what he did. I can’t tell you what it was about her that triggered the connection, but standing in front of me, waxing poetic about cream was the missing piece of my book.” This happened to me the other day while talking to my daughter. She explained the relationship between my two protagonists without knowing about either.

5. “Turning something into a daily practice, be it writing or exercising or even flossing, can be a daunting process. In the case of writing, having a schedule is important. It’s also a good way to keep the writer sane.

What do I mean by that? Well, a writer who is not working is a dangerous creature. Although some writers can take days or weeks off from their work and not feel the effect at all, many cannot. To those writers, a day without writing feels off and unsettled and incomplete.”

6. “You’d be forgiven for thinking that only horror books should contain an element of fear, but I’m here to challenge that thought by claiming that all books – regardless of genre – need a sprinkling of it.

Why You Need Fear in Your Novel

Fear is a driver. It drives plot, pace, tension, and emotion—which, when you combine those elements, creates the climax of your story. Status quo would suggest that desire is the predominant motivation pushing a hero towards the climax of a story, and sure, it might be. But fear is a secondary motive.

Why?” I personally think it’s because he has something to lose!

7. “To paraphrase a pretty good writer of several centuries ago, “Some are born writers, some learn to be writers, and others have writing thrust upon them.”

Whichever category you fit into, it takes practice and perseverance to write well. But it takes only a little effort to write poorly. Here are seven tips to help you write poorly:

  1. Write for everyone.

Don’t write for a specific demographic or a target audience. Don’t write with a specific reader in mind. Just write for anyone and everyone. Keep it general, broad, and one-size-fits-all.”

Research & Fun Bits:




4. “Hi gang, Craig here again with another Expansion Pack. These are designed to enhance the series I wrote about The Hero’s Journey, also known as the Writing Monomyth.

It’s worth repeating that none of the Expansion Pack material is required for your stories. These are just as advertised. If you want to get a bit deeper into the optional stuff, you might find them helpful.

There is an old writing rule, that I’m going to paraphrase. Every scene must do two of three things or it doesn’t belong in your story. These things are:” Hmm, I’ve written scenes like this. Bring the characters together, at first resistant, and then they open up to one another.

5. “The standard advice given to writers is to brand yourself. Find a genre, and stick with it. This strategy has proven successful for many contemporary authors such as Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins Clark, but even Jane Austen had perfected the practice years earlier, and Agatha Christie used it to pen mysteries that ranked her in the sales zone with Shakespeare and the Bible!

So why have I chosen to go against the gold standard of good advice and cross genres? I admit, it’s probably because I have no business sense, but it’s also because I love to learn new things and to challenge myself creatively.”

6. “Today we go a little deeper into the Word-Pond that we call Story. In talking about literature, the word mood is sometimes used interchangeably with atmosphere. Like conjoined twins, mood and atmosphere march along together; separate, but intertwined so closely that they seem as one. Mood is long term in the background and makes the emotions evoked within the story specific. Atmosphere is also long term but is part of world-building. Atmosphere is the aspect of mood that setting conveys.

Emotion is immediate, short term. It exists in the foreground but works best when in conjunction with the overall atmosphere/mood.”


Some Things More Serious:


2. “evin and Alex Malarkey were alone together when the accident happened. It was November 2004, and the Malarkeys had moved to rural Huntsville, Ohio, from suburban Columbus just weeks earlier. The family was struggling financially, and Kevin and his wife, Beth, wanted to pursue a quieter life. Beth had given birth to their fourth child a few days before. Six-year-old Alex was the oldest of the bunch. He and his father went to church that Sunday morning, just the two of them.

On the drive home, Kevin answered a call on his cellphone just as he approached an intersection with a blind spot that locals knew to fear. He didn’t see the other car coming. Kevin was thrown from his vehicle but was unhurt. Alex was taken in a helicopter to Columbus Children’s Hospital. (The occupants of the other car were not seriously injured.) Alex had suffered an “internal decapitation”—his skull essentially separated from his spine. His injuries were so serious that the coroner was called to the scene of the crash.”

3. “I have previously written about the happiness of reading, a pleasure I hope everyone, or at least, most people experience. As I wrote before, I consider reading to be one of the main joys of life.

I also want to consider the benefits of reading. I think the first, and perhaps most obvious, value is that of education. Regardless of where the reading is done, or if it is for class or for self, all reading informs the reader in some way. While there are a myriad of ways to learn in life, reading still stands out as the primary, and most efficient, way of gaining information. (I am not in any way discounting the importance of learning through experience.) Readers can learn about areas of study that exist far outside of their particular areas of understanding or expertise. For example, I am a student of English literature, but I love reading books about quantum mechanics and the extraordinarily esoteric world of String Theory. I do not understand these ideas the way a physicist would, but I can still appreciate the ideas from books aimed at intelligent, non-specialist readers. Such reading allows the book lover to explore an almost unlimited range of ideas.”

4. “wouldn’t normally air my dirty literary linen in public, but here goes. When I finished writing my novel Putney, about a 13-year-old girl who has a “love affair” in the 1970s with an older man and realises decades later that it was actually abuse, my previous editor at Jonathan Cape chose not to publish it. The reasons emerged this year when he was interviewed in the Spectator. “If Lolita was offered to me today,” Dan Franklin said, “I’d never be able to get it past the acquisition team – a committee of 30-year-olds, who’d say: ‘If you publish this book we will all resign.’” He pointed to #MeToo and social media as fundamental factors: “You can organise outrage at the drop of a hat.”

Fortunately, Bloomsbury’s acquisition team – overwhelmingly female and mixed aged – were brave enough to take on Putney, which was described in the Observer as “a Lolita for the era of #MeToo”. Whether there was any truth in his words or not, Franklin’s position reveals how much fear now exists in publishing.”

5. “Baltimore is a city where they give directions according to what’s not there anymore,” Laura Lippman says, quoting an old newspaper colleague of hers named Linell Smith. Lippman ought to know because she, apart from several years away in her 20s, has spent her entire adulthood in town. She was a reporter for more than a decade at the Baltimore Sun, and in the past 22 years has set 23 crime novels and thrillers in and around the city. Her latest book, Lady in the Lake, takes place mostly downtown in the mid-’60s, and today she and I are headed out to find some places that used to be here.

Baltimore is layered with loss. It was a factory town with aspirations, one that was built to house nearly twice its current population with great civic imagery to match — the Beaux-Arts monuments and crab houses, Pimlico races and rowhouses with white marble steps. If you’re searching for Lost”

6. “Kindle and Nook readers: You know you don’t own those books, right?

You don’t own e-books the same way you own paper volumes, a point made more apparent by Microsoft Store’s recent decision to close its books section and remove previously bought e-books from readers’ devices.

While my book recommending skills are truly legendary, to the point of approaching the mystical — this is why I call myself the Biblioracle, after all — this is not my only predictive talent.

In fact, for every single reader, regardless of age, gender, location, height or hair color, I can tell how many Kindle, Nook and Apple iBooks they own.

The answer is zero. You, me, them, everybody, own exactly zero of these books.

The reality of this was recently highlighted by the impending demise of the Microsoft Store books section, which stopped new sales in early April and will soon start removing the books from devices, never to be seen again.

7. “ As was recently, and perhaps shockingly, reported, life expectancy gains in the US, which plateaued in 2012, have declined for the past two years. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported that the new average life expectancy for Americans is 78.7 years, 1.6 years behind the average in developed nations (including Canada, Germany, Mexico, France, Japan, and the UK), which is 80.3. As Dartmouth economists Ellen Meara and Jonathan Skinner remarked about the downward reversal of US life expectancy, “It is difficult to find modern settings with survival losses of this magnitude.”

Why this is happening is the direct result of the wasteful, inefficient, and woefully illogical profit-based healthcare system that has been built here in the 75 years since the end of World War II, fueled in part by an addiction not just to opioids but to many other drugs such as Adderall, created and reinforced by corrosive marketing, and collusion in rigged science, rank profiteering, and sloppy prescribing. But the decline in life expectancy has also been caused by our longstanding lack of attention to the many social factors that affect health. This is in stark contrast to the vision we showed at the end of WWII.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

1. “There’s an idea I’ve been wanting to try for a while now, and National Poetry Month seems like the perfect time. I think it would be cool to take a poem, here on the blog, and go through the process of reading it, interpreting it, studying it, etc. It’s a concept I’ve been calling “Unpack the Poem” in my head–thanks to all of my professors over the years saying, “Can you unpack that?” when they want deeper analysis–but I’ve been hesitant to try it for several reasons. First of all, if it were to become an occasional series I add to my blog topic repertoire (as I hope it will, if there’s enough interest), I’m somewhat limited in my choice of poems. For legal reasons (copyright) I can only “unpack” poems that are in the public domain.”







Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “Three children are tested by puzzles, spies, a monster and more when they get lost in the woods. As you might expect, because this is a Christopher Edge book it’s the more that’s really interesting.

Hair-raising interesting.

Thought-provoking interesting.

Pull- at- your-heartstrings interesting.”


  1. 3. “Never stare at a fairy’s wings
  2. Never touch a fairy wings
  3. Fairies are weakened by metal—unless they’re half-human
  4. Fairies can’t kill.
  5. Fairies can torture”







I write YA as Traci Kenworth. I also write romance as Loleta Abi.

8 thoughts on “Seven Links7/13/19 Traci Kenworth

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