Seven Links 9/7/19 Traci Kenworth


Seven Links 9/7/19

Traci Kenworth


1. “My sixth pick for The A.N. 10 reaaaaally makes me want to re-read a favorite novel. “Thoughts on Beloved by Toni Morrison and Horror’s Literary Problem” is one of those posts that hasn’t gotten enough attention. Not that my post is just that amazing (honestly, it’s mostly fangirling!), but because the topic is so important and I wish I could make more people take notice.

The most important part is that Beloved is incredible. It’s a top-top book, and I talk all about why in the post. But there are also issues of bias, discrimination, genre, and literature tied up in it. Y’all know how passionate I am about this stuff. I hope you’ll go give it a read (or re-read), and then I hope you’ll pick up Beloved if you haven’t already.”

2. “Labor Day means many things to us Americans. But this article provides a brief history of the naming of this day and the reason it was instituted.

In reading about the history of Labor Day, I realized its foundations were built on the back of civil unrest. Who knew that a three-day weekend we see as signaling the end of summer, sales (!), tucking away our white shoes (you can read about how the idea of not wearing white after Labor Day began here), and wolfing down barbecue, actually arose out of violence, disgruntled workers, and the Federal government’s decision to quell the protests?

Now that I’ve done a little research about Labor Day, I’m mindful that this isn’t just a day of quiet in our usually tumultuous, computer-driven work week, but a day whose genesis is in the struggle for workers to overcome hardships borne in an economic depression.”

3. “I’ve been editing in one capacity or another all of my adult life. Why, I just finished editing my grandson’s résumé for his first job out of college. And I’ve edited all sorts of work-related documents, from brochures to books. I’ve seen so many manuscripts and proposals that I pretty much can list the top errors committed by earnest writers. Despite being a bit of a grammar nerd, I’ve found there’s always more to learn. Hence today, how about tidying up your grammar with me?

The inspiration for tidying up my grammar

I was inspired to write this blog when Michelle Ule presented me with a gift that had no special occasion tied to it: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer. His august position is that of copy chief of Random House, which means he oversees all those editors who nitpick manuscripts. And he rose to those ranks by starting on the bottom rung of nitpickers.

Michelle assured me I could spend many a gleeful hour poring over this volume, as had tens of thousands of others who bought so many copies the book made the New York Times best-seller list. I opened the book with expectation and gusto. I couldn’t image anything more delightful than to read about grammar and guffaw while doing so.”

4. “When I run errands, I park in the lot’s equivalent of the North Pole, so my car doesn’t get dinged. I walk quickly, with swagger and purpose. I learned to do this in my twenties under the advice of security types who said women can deter attacks against themselves by adopting this attitude. I stride everywhere, thinking nothing of how far I need to walk. I whip around impediments.

When I took care of my mother after her knee surgery, my experience was quite different. I drove her in Daddy’s Lincoln Town Car, looking for accessible parking. Believe me, when you’re driving a land yacht, you’re grateful you get to park in an ample space. I had no idea how scarce these spaces are though. I’m thinking, This is a doctor’s office. Why is there ONE accessible space? And why is the parking lot a steep hill? Or if there are a lot of spaces, they are so far away you have to walk a distance to get to the door. Inside one building, we had to traipse the length of a football field to get to the office we needed. Granted, a volunteer offered her a wheelchair; but that’s a long way.

We went to a big box store, which had lots of accessible spaces; but those were all far, far away from the door. I let Momma off at the entrance, and then I looked for a scooter for her. A clerk said they were scarce that day because “It’s the first of the month.” Oh. That’s right. The first is payday for a lot of disabled people and older adults. We managed to get a scooter, but competition was fierce and vigorous. So vigorous that a caretaker who wanted a scooter for her charge rapidly loaded our goods in the car I had pulled up to the curb for Momma, so she could more quickly claim the scooter Momma was in the process of abandoning. I thought of home, where I can work in peace. At that moment I felt like Greta Garbo. “I want to be let alone.”

5. “Since we are focusing on the humorous side of things this month at the Blood Red Pencil, it’s only right that I provide some light-hearted reading possibilities for your consideration. Let’s start with mysteries (because I am all about the mysteries).

6. “All of us have at least one project we started but never got around to finishing.

Let’s be honest: Most of us probably have dozens.

There are many reasons writers who start projects don’t finish them. But maybe if we talked a little more about some of them, more writers would be able to work through their struggles before and while they work so they can successfully complete more things.

The rewards that come with finishing what you start go beyond financial gain or recognition. With each new completed project you learn something new — something you are not very likely to forget.

It’s really, really hard to write a complete story — but it is ALWAYS worth it.

Most writers start out as readers, and when you spend a lot of time reading other people’s work, it can start to seem like storytelling is a total no-brainer. “This is probably so easy,” you think. “I could do that! I’m totally going to do it!”

7. “Your book cover is one of the most important pieces of your product (besides your awesome writing, obviously!). Covers are meant to be judged–despite how much we’re warned against it! It often feels impossible to create a cover that catches the eye, seems unique, yet still fits your genre and your author brand.

In this article, I’ll share the most important things to consider before jumping into design your book cover and how to know what’s right for you–whether you’re going DIY or hiring a full team!”

Research & Some Fun Bits:


2. “Time for another teaser leading up to publication of my next book. Tap the video and turn your speakers up. Then ponder Lisa’s poster and see if you’re imagination gives you any clues about this story.”

3. “For those of you who are too busy to read this post, here’s the secret to great writing according to Stephen King:

Take out the bad parts.

If this sounds like useless advice, you have yet to understand that great writing is all about rewriting. And you rewrite by taking out the words that aren’t necessary.

What words are necessary?

You must get rid of the words that serve no purpose. You cut out verbiage that slows down the reader and detracts from the persuasiveness of your writing instead of enhancing it.

Also, there are a lot of phrases that are there simply to stroke our egos. Yes, they may sound brilliant, but they serve no purpose.”

4. “It was already midnight as we drove along the shores of Loch Lomond. The black, shimmering banks seemed far less than ‘bonny’ as the water lapped at the kerb, the rain blurring the lines between the loch and the road that runs right along its edge. The roads and visibility were terrible… we hadn’t stopped for hours… and seeing a lay-by at the water’s edge, the decision was made to pull in and get some sleep. So much for the hotel that had been paid for… and any plans we had for recharging our own and our technology’s batteries.

Oddly enough, when I looked up our route on Google Maps later, I found we had given in and parked just below Lochan Uiane, the Fairy Loch, a sacred spring so named because in certain lights geometrical shapes in blue and green appear in the water. Science attributes this magical rainbow…”

5. “My son bought me a book in York called A Speller’s Companion published by Brown and Brown. What a fascinating little book this has proved to be. It provides information about the origins of the spelling of many of the places in the UK and also of many words that have been incorporated into modern English over time.

The contributors to the English language and names off UK cities, towns and villages are as follows:”

6. “Scrivener has three “group view” modes: Scrivenings, Corkboard, and Outline. Group view modes only have something to display if you’ve selected a folder, or a group of files in the Binder. Hence, the group part.

Scrivenings (multiple document view) and Corkboard (synopsis/index card view) get the most attention, but Outline view is pretty powerful, especially if you use metadata.

(If you’re thinking, “Hold up, what’s metadata?” skim this post from last November before you continue.)”

7. “Many traditionally published books are translated into other languages.

If you self-publish, is that option entirely out of reach? Not necessarily. There are foreign rights agents: difficult, but not impossible to connect with.

Another option is to pay for a translation. This is tricky. If you are unable to read the language, it is impossible to know if they have done a credible job of translating your fiction. Cost is one factor. You can expect to pay a good literary translator ten to twenty-five cents a word. Cost versus benefit is another consideration. How much would you earn?

It is crucial to hire a professional translator. Do not rely on Google translate. Artificial intelligence translators lack nuance. It’s fine for a blunt instrument such as product instructions, but not poetry. In addition to a translator, you might also require a new cover design. It is possible to keep the original cover artwork and change the title. If you did not design your own cover, however, the changes can lead to additional expense.”

Some Things More Serious:

1. “Throw away all preconceptions that you’ve got what it takes to make a great story by following a formula. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how high you scored on the SAT, or how prestigious your creative writing program was. Your conscious mind and your intellect cannot create a great story alone. If there’s a mathematical formula for learning how to write fiction, it’s probably too complicated for humans to quantify. If you’ve ever read a story that should “technically” be good—because it had characters who went through sufficient growth arcs, a plot that progressed at an even pace, and a lesson to be learned at the end—but it lacked a certain something, that’s probably because it was built by someone who intellectualized the entire thing and didn’t give it their own essence.

The writer’s primary tool is not their intelligence. It is their creativity.

The essence of creativity lies in the subconscious. It is “the place where ideas come from.” And it is the conscious mind’s relationship with the subconscious that allows creative people to create great stories.

The subconscious is all the processes taking place in your brain that your conscious mind is not aware of. It is void-matter. It is the dream swirling underneath reality. It is your primate and your fairy brain. It is a powerful processing machine that can hold way more data and make more assessments than your conscious brain ever could. It is a lizard that crawled out of the sea with computational power greater than a supercomputer.”

2. “Hey, everyone. I always try to make Thursday Thoughts upbeat and inspiring. However, my original intent was to share something that stood out in my mind – good or bad. To be honest, I found it challenging to find a “happy” topic this week, so please forgive this rather bleak post.

For the second time in less than a month flags are flying half-staff across the state of Texas for victims of mass shootings. The second occurred in Midland-Odessa on August 31. Seven people lost their lives ranging in age from fifteen to fifty-seven.

Among the victims was a teenage girl who had accompanied her older brother to a car dealership. He had just purchased a new vehicle after saving his money. A mail carrier and an army veteran were also killed.

Seventeen others were hospitalized with injuries, including a seventeen-month-old toddler who is expected to make a full recovery.”

3. “I swear, I’ve never been through a hurricane that moved this slowly before, and after 75 years of Florida living, I’ve been through quite a few. The Stalking Turtle reference becomes more obvious every day. The image above shows you very clearly that the danger of this storm is not in the eye, which is a quiet, calm area in the center of the storm. The danger is in the bands of powerful winds which circle the eye in a counterclockwise direction. Yellow, orange, and red are the DANGER colors.

I’ve used an image from last night because it gives you a good idea of just how far these bands can reach out to wreak havoc. The eye of the storm was approximately 100 miles off the coast of Florida when this image was taken. I’ve tweaked it a bit to show you roughly where it is now, in relation…”




7. “Hate to say it, but that quote is pretty spot on.  The human heart is a very fragile thing when it comes to love.  If one person in a relationship changes without the other and no attempts are made to bridge the gap then pain is the only result.  Our emotional state is tied to our physical and mental states, so heartbreak can have a domino effect that some people never get out of.  Depression, gaining weight, anxiety, phantom pains, lethargy, and the list of ailments that can be traced by to heartbreak is pretty long.  Geez, I’m started to get some phantom chest pains just writing this one.  We’re going to see how far I get because this is a subject that hits pretty close to broken home.

As authors, I think many of us enjoy the concept of romance.  There’s a complaint that it’s found too often in fiction, but it’s a journey that most people go through or hope they can experience.  If we are to create believable heroes then we have to consider if they would be interested in dating or getting married.  Romance makes sense for some heroes because they are already caring about other people, so it’s almost like they’re destined to fall for somebody.  There’s a higher level of emotional connections from them and love is the most powerful positive one in the book.  That isn’t to say it’s mandatory, but it can make a lot of sense that these characters have romantic encounters.  A way to avoid this is to make them cold and interested only in sex if they have any interest in relations at all.  Still, I think this is one reason why relationships turn up even in non-romance stories.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

1. am re-sharing this information as I still have three FREE Kindle books remaining for my free giveaway of Fairies, Myths, & Magic – A Summer Celebration. I would love to gift these three books to my regular readers – NOT just my poetry challenge participants. If you live overseas, I will gladly email you a mobi copy.







Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “ fell in love with Small Spaces (2018) from the first paragraph. Before I even realized this was the same Katherine Arden whose adult fiction I’ve been meaning to read for years, and before I got caught up in the richly drawn characters and the spooky plot, I was smitten by this:

October in East Evansburg, and the last warm sun of the year slanted red through the sugar maples. Olivia Adler sat nearest the big window in Mr. Easton’s math class, trying, catlike, to fit her entire body into a patch of light. She wished she were on the other side of the glass. You don’t waste October sunshine. Soon the old autumn sun would bed down in cloud blankets, and there would be weeks of gray rain before it finally decided to snow. But Mr. Easton was teaching fractions and had no sympathy for Olivia’s fidgets.”

2. Elliott has a well-deserved reputation for writing excellent science-fiction and fantasy for adults. Her characters, world-building, and societies are not only entertaining but well-crafted. It seems only natural that, at some point in her career, she would try her hand at Young Adult fiction. The result is Court of Fives, the first in a planned fantasy trilogy which is sure to appeal to younger readers as well as Elliott’s established fan base. While I’ve seen the novel described as “YA meets Game of Thrones,” Elliott herself has said, “I prefer Little Women meets American Ninja Warrior,” which is far more relevant to my personal interests (and a more unique combination).

A quick note for readers who may not be aware: American Ninja Warrior is a program which was recently adapted for American television from a long-running Japanese television series, Sasuke. Both shows feature a multi-stage obstacle course, and each stage must be completed by participants before they can move on to the next. Frequently, though not always, the stage must be finished within a certain time limit. For the most part, the obstacles are weighted toward male contestants, favoring strength and a range of body sizes which are generally not achieved by female contestants. Sasuke has also created a version of the obstacle course exclusively for women, called Kunoichi, which favors agility and balance and is engineered for smaller statures. None of this is required knowledge in order to enjoy Court of Fives, since Elliott creates the Fives course and its challenges from the ground up, but I always find it interesting to learn what elements of the real world have an influence on a writer’s choices. (And even though it only aired for eight seasons, I’m a big fan of Kunoichi.)”

3. “I loved Small SpacesKatherine Arden’s first foray into children’s horror, and so I jumped right into its sequel, Dead Voices (2019). A few months have passed since Ollie, Coco, and Brian outsmarted the Smiling Man who wanted to turn them, and all their classmates, into scarecrows. The ordeal left them with recurring nightmares, but also made them best friends. It’s December now, and Ollie’s dad has won a stay at Mount Hemlock, the new ski lodge a few hours outside of town. He’s taking all three kids, along with Coco’s mom.

I didn’t fall in love as immediately this time, and I think I’ve distilled that down to two reasons. One is that, from an adult perspective, it seemed out of character for Ollie’s dad to endanger the kids by driving in a blizzard. The other is that I’m greedy, and Arden’s writing is lovely, and I wanted to read her description of the snow in quiet beauty before it became a threat instead. So, for both of these reasons, I kind of wanted the storm to hold off until the characters reached the lodge. At the same time, though, I understand the narrative logic of keeping most of the other guests from showing up.”


5. “Space opera meets mythic fantasy in Sangu Mandanna’s young adult novel A Spark of White Fire, the first book in the Mahabharata-inspired Celestial Trilogy. This riveting, expertly paced tale features gods and goddesses, prophecies and curses, a divided royal family, and a sentient warship who is not particularly fond of the destruction and bloodshed for which she was crafted. I loved every moment of reading it and have already pre-ordered the sequel, A House of Rage and Sorrow (coming September 17 in the US and September 19 in the UK).

A Spark of White Fire is the story of Esmae Rey, a princess separated from her parents and twin brother shorty after her birth—a princess whose very existence was kept secret due to the curse that prompted her mother to send her away in the first place, though she herself learned the truth of her identity from the war goddess Amba. For seventeen years, Esmae lived in obscurity while her twin became renowned, beloved even, for his courage, honor, and accomplishments. She dreamed of one day reuniting with him, and after their uncle became king in her brother’s stead and exiled him, she envisioned herself joining him on a quest to take back his crown.”

6. “I haven’t read many short story collections, but for me, a horror/supernatural compilation is irresistable.

At the end of each tale, the author shares what sparked the idea – a nice personal touch.  I find story origins interesting.  All are eerie and enjoyable, but I have my favorites.

When I Snap My Fingers – The concept of reincarnation has always fascinated me, and the way it’s incorporated will give you chills down your spine.  And have you avoiding hypnotists.

Ghost Tennis – You might be lured into thinking this is a friendly ghost story – don’t be fooled.  The ending is wickedly perfect.

Drip-Drip-Drip – As someone who is slightly claustrophobic, I was uncomfortable reading this one.”


5 thoughts on “Seven Links 9/7/19 Traci Kenworth

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