Seven Links 9/14/19 Traci Kenworth


Seven Links 9/14/19

Traci Kenworth


1. There’s a veil of mystery surrounding publishing, which can make it hard for new authors (and soon to be authors) to know how their careers are doing. Susan Dennard visits the lecture hall today to offer a candid and close look at the realities of traditional publishing. And definitely check out her article links for more eye-opening reveals.

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the 
Something Strange and Deadly series, as well as the New York Times bestselling Witchlands series, and she also hosts the popular newsletter for writers, the Misfits & Daydreamers. When not writing, she can be found slaying darkspawn (on her PS4) or earning bruises at the dojo.” Nice to get a look behind the scenes at traditional publishing.

2. “When I was a kid my big brother loved the TV Western Maverick. It’s been running on a cable channel and I’ve enjoyed catching up with it. The series introduced the American audience to James Garner as Bret Maverick (who often shared adventures with his brother Bart, played by Jack Kelly).

Garner became an instant star, and it’s not hard to see why. He was masculine without being obnoxious; handsome but not too pretty; charming but not cloying. Most of all he was a natural, relaxed actor (though he put in a lot of hard work to get that way!)

Which all led to a storied career. He created not one, but two, iconic television characters—Maverick and Jim Rockford. He transitioned easily to movies, and was at home in light comedy (The Thrill of it AllVictor/Victoria), action adventure (The Great EscapeHour of the Gun), romance (Murphy’s Romance), and showed considerable dramatic chops in the experimental Mister Buddwing.” I loved his characters in the shows Maverick and Rockford. Also, his comedy westerns about a sheriff and a gunslinger. Always a class act! My mom’s favorite actor!

3. “I am running through a forest, searching for a path or a clearing or some sign that will signal my journey is nearing its end. But the trees don’t stop. So neither do I.

This is the best way I’ve come up with to describe creative burnout.

A lot of people think burnout is an automatic, forced shutdown — that you push your body and mind so hard for so long that you simply stop functioning. And for some people, this can happen at varying degrees of severity. It’s dangerous, unpleasant, and probably more widespread among creators than we know.

But even more dangerous, even more prevalent and unfavorable, is the more common “running through the forest” analogy. You can also compare it to running on a treadmill or hamster wheel. Burnout happens when you’re so worn down by your routines and rituals and work that you go on complete autopilot. You go through the motions, expecting there to be an end to it all, but an end often doesn’t come. Not until you or someone else forces an ending.”


5. “As a musician, writer, wife and mother, it matters to me that these labels are just that—merely labels. Descriptors or definers but never confiners.

If I am slapping bumper stickers on my car such as “I’d Rather Be Writing” or “Without Music Life Would Bb” I’m telling you to think of me a certain way. If I am announcing on social media #iamthis #iamthat, I may very well dilute the very identities I am wishing to confer upon myself.

But the skills I use in each of these categories overlap endlessly and they did not originate with my life as a musician, writer, wife, and mother. That is a partial list of where I am and where I have come from.

For instance, what I gleaned from the jobs I sometimes grumped through in my younger years is often still serving me well today. I worked a karaoke machine/smoke machine/disco ball while hoping the kimchee I was microwaving in back didn’t burn, and I got the ratio of Sprite to vodka right so that the customers’ taste buds read “sake”.”

6. “What kind of writing goals do you set? Word count, revised pages, finished drafts, submitted stories, queried agents? These are examples of goals driven by measurable performance. Research has shown that when “a person is committed to the goal, has the requisite ability to attain it, and does not have conflicting goals, there is a positive, linear relationship between goal difficulty and task performance.” But is there more to succeeding than setting clear, attainable goals you’re committed to?

Writing is rarely as straightforward as setting a goal, working, and achieving it. You can set a solid goal. So why do you end up stuck at a blank sheet of paper or that lone, blinking cursor in a new document? There is a huge gap between a performance goal such as “write 1,000 words” and finishing a draft of a novel. Something as complex as a novel is more than a collection of word count goals. To address this gap, we need to address the shortcomings of performance goals.” I’ve said before, I don’t worry about word count goals. I just make progress each day, sometimes writing more, sometimes writing less.

7. “Some writers motivate themselves with a “carrot” and others with a “stick.” That is, some use rewards for motivation (i.e., “a Snickers bar if I write 3,000 words today”) and others lean more on—for lack of a better term—punishments (“No soup for you!” Okay, that’s a Seinfeld reference, but I hope you get the gist). I asked some of my favorite authors and clients what works best for them. Here’s what they said:

“I work well under pressure, so deadlines are great for me. May sound silly, but I open a fresh bag of M&Ms as fuel for the journey and sit down at my desk. After I meet the deadline, I’ve been known to treat myself to a pedicure and dinner out with my husband. Then I read a book for pleasure” (Angel Moore, author of A Ready-Made Texas Family).

“I’m more of a ‘stick’ girl. It’s amazing how much I get done on a deadline (and how little happens without one). Between deadlines, my ‘stick’ is accountability to a critiquing group. We meet weekly (Becca Witham, author of The Telegraph Prop

Research & Fun Bits:

“The September 5, 2019, prompt from 
Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows true grit. You can use the phrase or embody the theme. Who or what has true grit? Go where the prompt leads you!

Respond by September 10, 2019.” Colleen always has such fun things to inspire our craft! Take a peek!

2. “You’ve seen a number of agent blogs and agent twitters talking about query tips and #queryfail. Agent websites are filled with instructions on how and how-not to query. Nearly every writers conference offers a session or two on queries and pitching.

It’s enough to make a writer go apoplectic.

If someone had unlimited time and decided to collect all the tips and all the rules from every tweet, blog and website, I’m guessing those tips could fill a book. Or two. And interestingly enough, I’ll bet every single rule will be contradicted a number of times.

So what’s a writer to do?

Keyboard with key for querying

Here are my own common sense generic rules for queries:”


4. “At the end of the post I will share any offers that the authors on the shelves have on their books. If you can let me know a week in advance that would  be great so I can include in one of the updates.

On with the recent reviews…..

The first author with a review to share is Marjorie Mallon for The Curse of Time : Book One – Bloodstone a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.”

5. “Vacation was fabulous!  And I’m ready to go back.  Out on the beach by 9 am under the umbrella where I stayed, book in hand, until 5 pm.  Perfection.

Yesterday I attended Victoria Schwab’s book signing at Parnassus Books in Nashville, and it was a full house.  She’s one of my favorite authors, and I’ve often said I’d love to spend a day in her head to see how her mind works.  Marcia, if you’re reading this, I told her you had cats named Rhy and Kell, and she asked why I didn’t have their pics.  But I do have the pic you requested I take with her!

This week, I’ll be leaving on Thursday for Penned Con in St. Louis.  Last year was my first time signing, and it was one of most well-organized book festivals I’ve attended – plus, the”


7. “This is a topic that I’ve been tempted to do for a long time, but I was never sure how it would go over.  Wednesday’s ‘7 Tips’ post is probably going to be worse.  Yet, I’ve been wondering a lot about this archetype after finishing ‘Naruto’, continuing ‘One Piece’, starting ‘Inuyasha’, and talking about ‘Dragonball’.  You’ll notice that all of these are animes and mangas.  To be honest, I can’t think of an American show or movie with a perverted character who isn’t a villain.  So, why is that?

Much of it has to do with cultural taboos.  I think.  Here’s the problem.  I tried to look all of this up and found essay after essay on the topic.  Half of them explained that Japanese culture is more open to nakedness and male desire (not female desire), so this is an acceptable character.  Meanwhile, America has been heavily influenced from the beginning by Christianity, which demonizes nakedness and sex.  So, we would put perverts down as villains while the Japanese have them more as comical heroes.  Still, I couldn’t quite get a full understanding because the Internet is filled with articles by Americans complaining about the perverted characters.  There was a feeling that our cultural sensibilities and standards were being used in place of the one where the stories were created.  This makes it a difficult opinion to go by because it only shows one side.  In the end, I think it does come down to one culture being more open to these types of characters while the other doesn’t like them.  (I’m pretty sure many people who read my blog are already rushing to the comments in order to voice their complaint about the archetype.)”

Some Things More Serious:

1. “Two years nearly to the day after bringing his big-top routine to the big screen, Pennywise The Clown is floating back into multiplexes. Like its predecessor, now the highest-grossing horror film of all time, It Chapter Two is a reasonably entertaining (if inelegantly paced) funhouse ride of a blockbuster. But it’s not, at least in the eyes of this fan, a particularly satisfying adaptation of Stephen King’s hefty 1986 bestseller. “The book is better” is not an expression I find myself writing or uttering very often—not because it’s never true (it often is), only because I generally believe that a movie’s value shouldn’t rest on how well it reproduces its source material. Sometimes, though, you’re just too close to a book to cut the film(s) they make out of it any kind of slack. And for me, It is one of those books. It’s haunted my imagination, slithering deep into its crawlspaces, for most of my life.

I was maybe 11, the same age as the heroes of It, when I first read the novel, a page-turner with enough pages to make carrying the heavy tome a two-handed task. There were passages so scary I had to put the book down (though I couldn’t put it down for long): Mike Hanlon looking into the empty water tower and locking eyes with the giant bird nesting within; crazy Patrick Hockstetter beset upon by flying leeches; and—in a scene that’s grown on my subconscious like a hostile fungus—Eddie Kaspbrak facing the self-fulfilling prophecy of the leper under the old house, a terror that was “so sudden, so startling (and yet at the same time so expected),” like the face that haunts Patrick Fischler’s dreams in Mulholland Drive. But I wasn’t just shaken by It’s nonstop scares. I was totally wrapped up, completely emotionally invested, in its portrait of camaraderie among outcasts. I remember sobbing when I got to the end, as these childhood companions gradually forget each other again, their memories of Derry fading away as they put their hometown in the rearview mirror.”

2. “Equipment is supposed to work perfectly, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter what kind of equipment—computers, kitchen appliances, our bodies, or in the case of my most recent skirmish with disaster, automobiles.”


4. “Back in April, I reviewed an online video creation tool, Flexclip. I have now discovered a second tool that allows you to create a video in mere minutes: Lumen5.

Lumen5 takes video creation one step further: it can read a web or blog page and create a video on its own, using some impressive AI!

But let’s take it from the top.”

5. “Will Barnes and Noble survive the takeover by a hedge fund company?

Will Amazon Publishing continue to take market share?

Will audio-first become more dominant for readers?

How will AI impact the publishing industry?

I discuss these things and more with Mike Shatzkin on today’s episode.”

6. “When I decided to write a story set in the 16th century, I knew that a lot of research lay ahead. It actually turned out to be a whole year of research. I studied monarchs and dates of wars, major events and conflicts, and of course the central subject of the book: witchcraft accusations. But it was the small things, the everyday actions, belongings, meals and, yes, even underwear, of ordinary people that proved a little elusive, and I set out to find them with an obsessive determination.

It wasn’t enough to read time traveller style guides and watch historical films, informative as those were. I wanted to be totally immersed in the time; I wanted to be thinking the thoughts that people would have thought then, eating the food they would have enjoyed or endured and, as far as was possible, really feeling like I was living in that world.

To do this, ironically, I used technology. I started every morning and ended every day on various internet video sites. There I discovered several old television series where historians lived as people in medieval times, sometimes for a whole year, more often just for Christmas.

When they baked a Twelfth Night Cake, I did too.”

7. “Authors have certainly endured our fair share of upheaval. We witnessed a business model that had barely changed in over a century collapse in less than a decade.

Many of us felt the initial seismic activity back in the 90s when the big-box stores obliterated the bookstores we’d known all our lives. Witnessed the places we learned to love reading shutter one by one.

Those aisles where we daydreamed that maybe…just maybe one day WE would be on those shelves? Vanished.

We retooled the dream. Imagined our books in large hardback displays in the front of a Barnes & Noble. Or, perhaps on a kiosk next to the coffee bar at a Borders.

Then that went away as well.

Now, thrust into a digital age where anyone can be published and it seems there are too many hats for one head? It’s hard not to get discouraged.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:








Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “Lost in the Annals of Time: A Story of Love and War

The Captain’s Witch is a hauntingly beautiful story of love that transcends time. Sara Windsor Knightly, born into a family with generations of witches inherits Windsor Manor, a colonial era manor built in 1680. She had no idea that the Manor is haunted by Jacobite ghosts, and a ghost named Christian Windsor.

He is a gentleman farmer who is also a Captain in the British Brigade in the year 1690 in Colonial Connecticut during King William’s war with the French and the Abenaki Indians. To complicate matters, the White Oak Tree on the property of Windsor Manor, is haunted by the ghost of Alice Windsor Hall. The White Oak Tree was once a…”

2. “The lovely Sally Cronin has hosted me for the first post in a five post series about the York Chocolate Story. Do pop over to Smorgasbord and find out about the origin of your favourite chocolates and have a look around Sally’s amazing blog while you are there.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted that over the next five weeks, author Robbie Cheadle will be sharing the The York Chocolatestory with us, following her recent trip to the UK.. And I will be featuring a different Sir Chocolate Story and Cookbook each week.”

3. “Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.”

4. “Poetry speaks from the heart and it takes the soul with it. In Samir’s Satam’s The Camphor of Night, I found my recent favourite book of poetry. With 10 designated topics, the poet appears to have poured his heart out in words. From the sleeves of his cover, he introduces a poem ‘Ode to an Unfinished Coin’ where he talks about feelings that visit us in tranquillity, about the past and the future that flows through the language of poetry. From the very first poem, he manages to touch the strings of the heart.

The collection of poetry is so aptly named as ‘The Camphor of Night’ as through his poems, Samir Satam speaks of love, of abandonment, of nature, of unsaid pleasures, of the numerous truths of human lives; he has touched on every topic in subtle short and long forms. His words are relatable and take in the feelings of the present generation, unsaid emotions that escape from the gaps of human insecurity.”

5. “This is going way back!  Before The Life & Times of Ichabod Brooks, I gave our favorite adventurer a smaller outing.  It was a single short story that I put out (and still have out) for 99 cents.  I figured it was a great way to introduce people to him, my writing style, and Windemere.  It’s called Ichabod Brooks & The City of Beasts.  Feel free to check it out since it’s cheap and a quick read.

Here’s a little taste for the upcoming release.  Due to the work being a 27 page short story, this isn’t going to be very long.  Enjoy.”

6. and Bethany are two mismatched high school seniors in a new relationship.

It’s doomed to fail.

Mark has adored Bethany since middle school, and she’s finally giving him a chance. Only, he’s clumsy at romance and knows he’ll lose her because of it. Bethany thinks Mark is sweet. Only, she’s afraid to commit her whole heart to him because he’s going into the army and she’s headed off to college.

Fifty years earlier, a boy and a girl from the same high school shared an amazing but tragic love story. They have now returned as ghosts and are interfering in Mark and Bethany’s relationship.

7. “A chilling fantasy retelling of the Snow White fairy tale by New York Times bestselling creators Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran!
A not-so-evil queen is terrified of her monstrous stepdaughter and determined to repel this creature and save her kingdom from a world where happy endings aren’t so happily ever after.
From the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Locus, World Fantasy, Nebula award-winning, and New York Timesbestselling writer Neil Gaiman (American Gods) comes this graphic novel adaptation by Colleen Doran (Troll Bridge)!”

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