Seven Links 8/24/19 Traci Kenworth


Seven Links 8/24/19

Traci Kenworth


1. “Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.”


3. “We all care about how many copies our book sells, right? But who among us is thinking about sales velocity?

Velocity is created when you emphasize garnering significant sales for the day (or week) the book releases rather than being concerned about how many copies the book ultimately sells.

Why does velocity matter?

It can:”

4. “This month I’m launching my new online video course: Emotional Mastery for Fiction Writers.

Let me just share a tiny bit of what you’ll learn in the more than six hours of intense instruction.

One of the most important emotional components of a novel or short story is the showing of emotion in a character. It’s not easy to do well. Often writers cram in tons of body sensations and physical tells, hoping to get the emotion across. But that is overkill.

What’s needed is masterful description of “showing emotion” in addition to revealing a character’s thoughts.

Utilizing body language should be minimal, original, and targeted, for best effect. 
Keep these points in mind. There are 3 ways to show emotion in characters.”

5. “I spent some time with a recent research report from the ILH Group called “Retail’s Renaissance – True Story of Store Openings/Closings.” In this study, they looked at the last three years of all segments of brick-and-mortar retail stores and discovered some facts that counter what we hear in the news.

In the media, we only hear bad things about physical stores. Chains are closing, malls are dying, buyers are only buying online, etc. And yet, quoting from their August 13, 2019 press release:

More than five retail chains are opening stores for every retailer that is closing stores in 2019…. This is up from 3.7 in 2018. The company also reports that the number of chains adding stores in 2019 has increased 56%, while the number of closing stores has decreased by 66% in the last year….

Since 2017, apparel and department store chains have seen the net closure of 9,651 stores. During this same period, all other segments represented 18,226 net new openings.

The VP of research for the ILH Group said further:

“U.S. retail has increased $565 billion in sales since January of 2017, fed not just by online sales growth but net store sales growth,” said Lee Holman, VP of Research for IHL Group. “Clearly there is significant pressure in apparel and department stores, however, in every single retail segment there are more chains that are expanding their number of stores than closing stores.”

6. “1) Get Your Brain Out of the Way

Thinking doesn’t create monsters. Your unconscious does. Don’t think about recent movie hits. Don’t think of old movie legends. In fact, don’t think of anything. Cultivate a dream-time, a coffee-scape. Think of the worst that can happen. Don’t self-censor before you even dream. Go there and return with ideasAnd trust them.

2) It’s All About Point of View

As I say in my book Coffinmaker’s Blues it’s not about the creature, ghost or alien … It’s about who is seeing it, and why? That’s the key to their inner life and why the hell we should care. POV in the story … In a sequence … Or in a scene.”

7. “Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a theory about what each human needs. The hierarchy, shown below as a five-tier pyramid, attempts to explain the connection between our basic human needs and our motivation.”

Research & Fun Bits:


2. “Failures are just learning opportunities that have presented themselves successfully.” If you’ve come across that sentiment before, it’s probably because there are countless quotes from numerous successful people about the value of making mistakes. If you’ve read a few self-help books or follow any motivational influencers in Instagram, it mayeven seem a little trite.

But the reason this idea is so pervasive is because it’s true — especially when it comes to writing and publishing a book! Around every turn is another possible mistake, but that’s okay, because those are also chances to get better and better at conquering this process.

That said, if you’re just embarking on your publishing journey, you’re probably hoping not to make too many mistakes. In which case, you might find this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt more helpful: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

3. “When my brother and I were little, our house used to have more LEGO in it than just about anything else.

I’m fairly certain building with LEGO so young is one of the reasons I became a writer. Creativity needs constant fuel, and when you’re only given instructions to build one model, after you’ve done that, suddenly you have hundreds of parts to choose from and the possibilities pile up before your eyes.

Everyone has different methods for preparing to build a LEGO castle, tower, boat, or whatever your imaginary choice of task might be. We always started by doing the thing our parents hated the most — dumping every single LEGO piece we owned onto the floor in one giant pile.

They never seemed to understand this, for us, was the most effective way of creating skyscrapers out of bricks. You don’t know what you have to work with until it’s all laid out in front of you.

It would be years before I realized this same method can also apply to writing.”

4. “Summertime is fun time! And with ‘back to school’ just around the corner, it’s a great time to write limericks and get the kids writing too…

Whether you’re a writer, a reader, a teacher, a parent or simply want to share the love of reading and writing, get the kids together and give “Limericks” a try. You’ll be glad you did!

Some of my favorite things about summer are butterflies, long lazy summer days, gardens and sunshine. I love to sit on the porch with my camera at the ready just in case I spot an amazing monarch or any of our sensational butterfly friends dropping by to enjoy the view. So far this year I’ve spotted twelve monarchs and dozens of other butterflies too—and managed to capture several of these exquisite creatures with my Canon “PowerShot.”

Butterflies are very sensitive to the environment and with their natural habitat areas being increasingly eroded and with significantly greater use of chemicals, our butterfly population is in decline. Planting and cultivating milkweed (Monarch caterpillars need milkweed) and other blooms that our pollinators need for survival is one way that I can help.”

5. “Writing Through Your Fear

by Kate M. Colby

Whether you’re a beginning writer or a seasoned veteran, writing can be scary. Fiction authors put out original imaginings that often hold deeper truths (or are falsely judged to reveal something about the writer). Nonfiction authors declare themselves an authority on a topic, who readers depend upon for knowledge or assistance.

When you think about it, that’s a lot of pressure (especially if you’re an independent author). It’s no wonder we writers get scared of our craft.

I’d like to tell you it gets better, that after the first novel the fear magically goes away. Maybe it does for some people. However, two novels and eleven nonfiction booklets in, I’m still nervous every time I sit down to write.”



Some Things More Serious:

1. “Welcome to Must Read Horror. Last week, we lost one of the most celebrated writers ever, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison. Author of BelovedSong of SolomonSula, and The Bluest Eye, among many other works, she often used magic realism, fantasy, and horror to explore the boundaries of human experience in a way that was distinctly her own. As a tribute, the five entries below are among the must-read articles that celebrate her life. Without further ado:

2. “Who doesn’t have a bad habit? It would be hard to find someone that you know that won’t admit to having some type of bad habit. These habits can be related to your health, your relationship or to your business.  

One of the hardest things about breaking a bad habit is getting enough motivation to actually take steps to break it. Some of the most well-known ways to break a habit include: 

  • Quitting cold turkey
  • Setting a date to quit your habit
  • Replacing the bad habit with a good one”

3. “If we’ve ever paid attention to story structure, we might have noticed that near the end of a story, the protagonist often takes “a leap of faith” (at least in a positive-character-arc story, where the character has learned and overcome self-doubts). But it’s not always obvious how to add one to our story.

When I talk about this turning point in my Lost Your Pants? workshop, writers sometimes want to find a logical or factual explanation for why characters take this step. That’s understandable, as we do want our characters’ actions to be grounded in their motivations and previous characterization details.

However, this leap of faith is often a break from those previous details (which is where the “faith” part comes into play *smile*). At the same time, an unearned leap of faith can feel too convenient.

Let’s take a closer look at what we can do to make our protagonist’s leap feel earned and a powerful element of our story’s theme.”

4. “Often as writers, we put a lot of our focus on the starting, climax, and middle of a story, and the denouement or falling action may be somewhat of an afterthought. If you grew up like me, you were kind of taught that the denouement should just be a quick wrap up that can end the story, and you weren’t given much direction on how to do that in a satisfying way. But when crafted well, the denouement can sometimes feel like the most powerful part of a story–not because it has heightened tension and conflict, like the rest of the novel probably has, but precisely because it’s the emotional release of all that. 

Here are some things to keep in mind when working with denouements.”

5. “hen I read this week that Olivia Laing would be sharing her James Tait Black prize winnings with her fellow shortlisted novelists, I was less surprised than some. Not because I know Laing (I don’t), but because her decision made sense.

In 2017, I donated half my winnings for the International Dublin Literary award to establish a new prize for debut translators, the TA First Translation prize. The previous week, Jessica Cohen won the Man Booker International prize and announced that half of her £25,000 would be going to B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO. What we spend money on – especially in a business where there isn’t enough to go around – is a statement of what we value.”

6. “WE ARE LIVING in a political and cultural moment increasingly defined by dehumanization. Many of the crimes of our age are predicated on a profound dislike of the other. Whether it’s asylum seekers being shuttled into sordid concentration camps, proposals to deny homeless trans Americans shelter, or “electability” debates raging around women presidential candidates, much of the discrimination and dismissal seems to revolve around the likability/unlikability axis. The vituperative dialogue on social media seethes in an environment of anonymity that breeds an inability to treat anyone — likable or not — with civility and respect. Meanwhile, many of us stand by silent, helpless in our discomfort. But this all raises the question: why is likability even relevant?” Until recently, I thought likeable characters was the best way to go, but I’ve since seen a case for slightly skewed characters.

7. Skea  has written several historical novels – her most recent being Katharina: Fortitude, a sequel to Katharina: Deliverance, both based on the life of Martin Luther’s wife. She grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders. Thanks for being on the blog, Margaret.


The Katharina books have been the most challenging of any I have written to date, on several counts.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

1. “My fifth pick for The A.N. 10 has a deceptively specific title: “Titling Poems.” Poetry advice is surprisingly popular, yes, but it’s nothing compared to advice on writing in general. I think that’s why today’s A.N. 10 post is one of the most traffic-searched posts on my blog: writers want help coming up with titles! (A runner up for this series was my list “25 Beautiful Unique Book Titles.”)

I actually think this post has many functions. Of course the main one is to help poets in the process of titling their poems. It includes tips, warnings, and brainstorming prompts. But I also think it’s a roundabout way of discussing poetry and the importance of titles from a reader’s perspective, too. When’s the last time you paid attention to a title and really asked yourself what its value is? Last but not least, these titling tips can apply to far more than just poems. There’s plenty of food for thought here about titling short stories, novels, blog posts, essays, lectures, and more.”

2. “Is your poetry folder chock-full of files called “Untitled 1,” “Untitled 2,” and so on? You’d think that if we poets can find inspiration, import meaning, write a poem, revise it, and polish it, that we’d be able to slap a title on the thing, but it’s rarely that easy. Many poets struggle with what to call their work. Some poets think it’s the hardest part about writing a poem. Today, as part of my continued celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m going to do my best to help poets beat those title-searching blues.”






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:


2. “Richard (“Dodge”) Forthrast, the famous and popular billionaire who created a much-loved video gaming company, unexpectedly dies during a routine medical procedure. Many years previously he had been duped into signing a contract that specified that his brain should be preserved until technology was developed that could scan and upload it to a virtual environment. He never changed his will. Unable to get out of this legal predicament, his family is forced to adhere to his youthful whims.

Dodge’s niece Zula, and her daughter Sophia, who remembers her great-uncle with great fondness, are determined to be part of the creation and evolution of the virtual space where the brains of rich dead people go. Unfortunately, they have a rival — Elmo Shepherd, the man who owns the company that’s got Dodge’s brain. He’s a zealot who’s anxious to create the virtual world as fast as possible because he knows he’s got a genetic disease that causes early-onset dementia. He’s in a race with time to advance the technology as far as he can before he starts losing his faculties.”

3. “I probably would never have known about The House on Parchment Street (1973) were I not such a huge fan of Patricia McKillip‘s fantasy stories, and while browsing her name on a library search engine, this title popped up. It was obviously one of her earliest published works, so I was willing to give it a go.

The House on Parchment Street is profoundly different from her later stories, which are not only told with dense poetic-prose, but focus more on fantasy worlds and creatures. This is a fairly straightforward ghost story, with equally straightforward prose, about a girl called Carol Christopher who travels from America to stay with her cousin Bruce, Aunt Catherine, and Uncle Harold in a small English village.

Carol and Bruce don’t exactly get off on the right foot, but soon both are forced to bond over their shared experiences with a ghost in the cellar. No one but they have seen the ghostly young woman in the period-garb who seems unaware of the man with a sword who lurks behind her – but who is the “Edward” that she speaks of, and why does she disappear into the wall behind her?”

4. “Layla Beckett has a secret. For the past ten years, she’s run the most trafficked fan site on the Internet for her favorite band—under an alias, naturally. When she lands a job at the prestigious New York City music magazine The Rock Paper, she’s suddenly thrust into the world she’s only observed from the cheap seats. Now that she’s brushing elbows with sexy guitarists and hot frontmen, she wants to play it cool and keep her superfan status on the down low. Although she’s dying to gush on her forum, posting her insider adventures online could expose her real-life identity and blow her cover.

And that’s all before one of those sexy musicians becomes a fan of her.

From the minute he meets Layla, Shane Morgan’s heart beats a heavy metal rhythm, but his head is full of doubt. Since only the most hardcore fans could pick the drummer out of a lineup, he’s resigned to groupies using him to get closer to the more famous guitarists. But he doesn’t want to be Layla’s passthrough.

As Layla gets to know the real people behind the music, she’s drawn to the less-than-flashy drummer’s sweet charms, fascinating mind, and banging hot body, but she worries about his insecurities. She needs to convince Shane she’s moved beyond fandom before he discovers her online history and loses all faith in her intentions. But the Internet is forever, and secrets have a way of getting out.”

5. The First Adventure is, indeed, the first volume of well-known fantasy author Tamora Pierce’s four-book series THE SONG OF THE LIONESS. First published back in the 1980s, the quartet was remarkable in many ways, tackling issues like gender roles, cultural tensions, self-determination, and inherited versus achieved power. Written at a time when “young adult” didn’t exist as a genre and feisty teenage girls couldn’t find much positive representation in mainstream fantasy, the series laid out many of the familiar paths and tropes of what has become modern YA fantasy. Since I’ve read a lot of novels influenced by Pierce’s work, the series’ 2014 hardcover re-release and their attending Author Afterwords was rather like following a river back to its source.”

6. “The Maelstrom Early Warning System has been activated! This is not a test!

For new readers, Maelstrom is the publishing imprint I curate for Thunderstorm Books. Each year, we release a three-book set. That set always consists of a novel-length work by me, a novella-length work by me, and a novel-length work by an author whom I feel more readers should be familiar with. Previous authors showcased in Maelstrom who have since gone on to great things include Kelli Owen, Bracken MacLeod, Chesya Burke, John Urbancik, Rachel Autumn Deering and many more. Maelstrom’s other function is to introduce Millennial and Generation Z readers to the centuries old tradition of collectible, signed limited edition hardcover books. So, when you buy a Maelstrom set, you are not only getting great fiction and discovering new authors — you are also investing in a keepsake that stands out on your bookshelf.

There was no Maelstrom set last year because I set myself on fire.

But now we are back. The 2019 Maelstrom set will go up for pre-order next month (September). This year’s books include:”

7. “A medieval fantasy with a party of adventurers all ready to make a name
for themselves and earn some gold.

Tankards and Heroes is set in the city of Kortufan, where spies, assassins,
mercenaries, arms dealers, rebels, smugglers, and informants do dirty
deals dirt cheap.

The Poxy Dragon is a rough bar outside the worst part of the medieval
Silk Road. It takes serious courage just to walk into the place, not
only from its reputation but because of the rough clientele,
questionable food, awful beer, and abysmal hygiene. Lots of taverns
in Kortufan are home to ruffians and illegal dealings, but the Poxy
Dragon is the proving ground for heroes – with a cemetery out back
for the ones who don’t make the cut.

Lady Leota, the resident demigoddess at the Poxy Dragon, sends would-be
heroes to different realms on quests. Once committed, there is no
turning back, and if they want their reward, every party member must
return through the portal – dead or alive.”

5 thoughts on “Seven Links 8/24/19 Traci Kenworth

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