Five Links 2/27/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Five Links 2/1/2020

Traci Kenworth


1. “I enjoy getting emails and tweets from writers regarding the “mirror moment,” which is the subject of my book, Write Your Novel From the Middle. Recently I received two that I thought would make good fodder for a post (we at TKZ are always looking for good fodder).

The first email was a great question from someone who asked about the mirror moment in a long series. She used Sue Grafton’s alphabet series as an example. Should each book have a mirror moment? How can a series character go through so many changes?

I wrote back reminding her that there are two kinds of mirror moments. The first kind is about identity. It asks questions like, “Who am I? Why am I this way? What must I become?” It’s Rick in Casablanca.I think the mirror moment is one of the most powerful techniques. And we’re not talking of the character viewing their physical details in the frame.


3. “Empowering Authors Around Copyright With Rebecca Giblin

Your author career is in your hands. Publishers are not charities and even if you have an agent, you need to know about the importance and value of copyright so you can make informed and empowered decisions about your writing. If you’re an indie author, you still need to understand copyright, because when you sign up with online distributors, you are making choices around licensing.

In today’s show, I interview Rebecca Giblin about a recent study on publishing contracts, what clauses to watch out for, why this is so important for authors, plus the potential impact of AI on copyright.” I’ve been looking into contracts for some time now. She has a good list of what to look out for. You want to be prepared before you sign on that dotted line. Don’t let happiness sour to distaste because you didn’t look into things.

4. “During one of my previous posts as a Resident Writing Coach, we talked about the importance of strong goals for helping our story move forward. But as we discussed in the comments of that post, our characters can start off with weaker—passive—goals, as they might not embrace the need to solve the story-level problem right away.

In fact, with many cases, the story problem and main conflicts don’t make an appearance until later in the story. Think of stories with thriller-type elements, where the protagonist can’t possibly know the villain is making evil plans in their secret lair until rumors, spy reports, or weird things occur later.

In those types of stories, our characters obviously can’t create strong goals to overcome the story problem right from the start because they’re not even aware the problem exists. In the meantime, bridging conflict kickstarts story momentum and grabs reader interest before the big story problem introduces the main craft.” Interesting to know!

5. “How do you “get good” at something you have always wanted to learn?

The answer itself isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. Pretty much everyone, expert or not, agrees that in order to improve a particular skill, one must practice that skill. How often and for how long is where the debate comes in. But even that isn’t the barrier preventing most beginning writers from, well … beginning.

You see, in order to “get good,” you have to first “be bad.” In gentler terms, you pretty much have to start from the ground if you want to build up a skill or get better at a certain hobby. No one starts with an advantage from the beginning — not technically. You start knowing nothing. And one way or another, you learn.” She’s right. You go from rough draft to revision after revision just like your WIP.

Research & Fun Bits:

1. all the learned professions, literature is the most poorly paid. —Dr. Edward Eggleston, 1890 Lately, I have taken to answer publishing-related questions on Quora. Yesterday, I came across someone who asked, What percentage of novelists earn a living wage (i.e. $40,000-$50,000 a year)? After a little research, I came across some data that I […]” This is encouraging news!

2. “I have file after file on my computer of story ideas, the beginnings of stories, notes for stories and novels… Please tell me you’re doing this too. Please tell me you aren’t letting story ideas just pass you by. I might not ever actually write any of these, but here are a few, just for fun, and just to show that sometimes an idea can come to you kinda sorta semi-formed, and maybe an idea is only:” I have notebooks, files, jars, boxes etc. Lol.

3. “Discussions of arts and culture, like discussions of politics, have become increasingly acrimonious and polarized in recent years. Lines of belief are drawn with indelible ink, and if you step over them — wittingly or otherwise — you find yourself in the social-media version of the stocks and subject to a barrage of electronic turnips and cabbages.

I stepped over one of those lines recently, by saying something on Twitter that I mistakenly thought was noncontroversial: “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” The subject was the Academy Awards. I also said, in essence, that those judging creative excellence should be blind to questions of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

4. “So, you did the math and realized that your brand-new book could really benefit from having an awesome trailer. Good job!

While riveting writing is often enough to trap avid readers between two covers for a while, it takes much more to pique someone’s interest online. There are just too many distractions on the internet to bet all your chips on written promotion alone!

The problem, though, is that working on making a great book trailer can be rather tricky – especially if you have no previous experience with video marketing. Or trailers, for that matter.

But fret not, you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we are going to talk a little bit about the most important elements you’ll need to consider for your fledgling trailer. And by the time we are done, I’m sure you’ll be brimming with ideas to bring”

5. “Reading at least a few chapters of a book is a worthy goal for each day. One app I have recommends a half hour of reading. Seems doable to me!

Since I have at least a thousand books in my collection begging to be read, I’m attempting to be discerning as to where I spend my reading time. To wit, I went to a public library book sale over the weekend and confess I was tempted by Kitty Kelley’s old biography of Nancy Reagan.

I know, from reading a few, that the biographies Kelley wrote are gossipy and thorough. She will find and interview the boy who hated you in first grade. You do not, I repeat not, want to be one of her subjects.

I thought, Do I need to learn about every sin Nancy Reagan ever committed and what every enemy thought of her? She’s passed away; and her era is history, however nostalgic we may be for the Reagan Years. I instead purchased 10 Things Jesus Never Said and Why You Should Stop Believing Them by Will Davis, Jr.”

Some Things More Serious:


2. ““It was a cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

That arresting line begins one of the most famous novels of the twentieth century: George Orwell’s 1984.

The first sentence of any article or book is kinda important, even if it’s borrowed, like the first line of this blog post. Your first sentence should be well-written and striking, intriguing, promising, and/or inviting. It should draw in the reader like a carnival barker’s pitch or a Buzzfeed headline.

Some of the most famous lines in literature are opening sentences, such as “Call me Ishmael” (Moby Dick) and “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” (A Tale of Two Cities).

To give you great examples and (one can hope) inspire your future first lines, below are eighteen opening lines. Can you identify the book and author? (Here’s a hint: All but two are from novels, and one is from an acclaimed children’s book).”

3. “When Jim Mattis went up on Capitol Hill to request funding for the low-yield Trident II, he was met with apprehension. Not because of the cost—the price tag for modifying a few dozen warheads was $65 million, a pittance in a defense budget exceeding $700 billion. Nor were many lawmakers concerned about this new weapon per se. Rather, they were concerned about the man who had the power to launch it. 

Arms control advocates had long argued that low-yield nuclear weapons were destabilizing because they lowered the threshold between conventional and nuclear war. They seemed to be—they were designed to be—more usable as weapons of war, and, therefore, some president, in a crisis, might feel more tempted to use them. The human factor was key: some presidents might resist the temptation; others might risk all. 

Donald Trump wasn’t the first president who inspired mistrust on this score. In 2003, after the”

4. “We who write stories are damn brave.

We spin out people with whom we live in almost every moment of our lives. We create their world. They create ours. We take them places. They take us. We live with them, fuss over them, argue with them, let ourselves be surprised by them. We dive into their lives, and they swim in ours. Through drafts, through editing, through copyediting, through proofing of page proofs, until it’s finally over, and the book’s out there and other people are reading it – the characters are all ours. And just as readers are getting to know them, we have lost them. 

That’s when writers get lonely.

And that’s where I am now. Between books. Between universes. Letting go and thinking about what’s next, and nothing’s right.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with myself. I think I’m onto something, but it vanishes. Doesn’t work. Like a good lover you’ve loved for years, now gone for whatever reason, no one else really measures up. But someone will. It takes time.

I’d finished one book that took six years (Banished From Memory). It came out this past May. I’d been living with the Fletcher family, an acting family like the Barrymores, living it up in the movie star world of 1960 Hollywood with the blacklist as a villain in the background that grew larger and larger. Dianna was sixteen when the book started, famous, lovely, unhappy as teenagers are. She bumped into Bill. He made her unhappier until they both challenged each other as actors and as people. Then Dianna found out about Alice, and…”

5. “Every story is broken down into scenes. A chapter may have more than one scene.

The most important takeaway is this: make every scene count. Don’t just kill time or add filler. A scene has a job to do.

It can be an action scene, a taut conversation, a love scene, a chase scene, or an introspective scene.

Make sure you scenes earn their page time.

Much of the material from my Story Building Block books is available in my blog posts and website along with free forms.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “The paranatural community isn’t done with Alex. She’s been summoned to the fae court, and she’s got her hands full trying to prepare. But her date with the fae will have to wait. There’s been a death at the gallery, and the man she hoped would be a part of her future is the prime suspect.

Bitter enemies pull her into the middle of a paranatural war for territory that has her dodging police, swords, teeth, and claws—not to mention the truth. The deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers, and the less certain she is about the innocence of the one man she wanted to trust.

She thought she was done with murder and monsters, but she’ll have to enter the belly of the beast if she hopes to save her friend.”

2. “Did you have a crush on a pop star when you were a teenager?

Did you spend hours in your bedroom gazing longingly at a poster on your wall which showed your pop star crush looking gorgeous and hot?

I did. Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran and I had something going on back in the day. Simon was pinned up on my wall and my favourite poster was of him clad in army gear with beautiful bare feet. Thanks to him I would inspect all the feet of future boyfriends.

I spoke to him a lot on my wall, sang to him and had many dreams where we would meet in the future and fall in love. OMG – Stephie Chapman you read my teenage mind with this book!

In terms of intensity my crush on Simon was just like Cassie’s (the character in this book) crush on her heart-throb. My love for Simon was also at the ‘actual, fierce, slap-you-in-the-face, punch-you-in-the-gut’ level. In hindsight now I should have had a crush on John Taylor, the Duran Duran guitarist, who was much better looking back then, but that’s a different blog post and one titled, ‘what happens when you realise years later that you were crushing on the wrong pop star?’

This book by the wonderful and very talented Stephie Chapman helped me through a hangover at the weekend. Who needs paracetamol or Ibuprofen when you have a funny and uplifting romantic comedy to lose yourself in? It took me down memory lane as well which was another bonus.

Here’s the blurb:

What if you got a second chance with your first love?

What happens when you meet your teenage heart-throb – when you’re both all grown up?

When Cassie was fifteen, all she wanted was to marry Jesse Franklin, the bassist from her favourite band, Franko. Now she’s single, in her late twenties and wondering what happened to that teenage dream.

A chance encounter on Facebook soon leads to a transatlantic hook up, and soon, Jesse and Cassie are having a long-distance love affair spanning five thousand miles.

Cassie is on cloud nine – until she hears something that makes her think that Jesse might not be all that he seems. They say never meet your heroes – but what happens when you fall in love with them…?

Are Cassie and Jesse star crossed lovers, destined to be together? Or should Cassie have left her crush”

3. “The one thing I like about poetry books is that once read, you can return to them and find something new that speaks to your soul. Such is the case with “Everything Becomes a Poem.”

A couple of years ago, the author gifted me with a copy of this book. I’d read it, and for whatever reason, simply placed it on my bookshelf. After a recent move, I unpacked a box of books, rediscovering this gem. One glance, and I knew the muse demanded I reread the magic contained within its pages. Done!”



5 thoughts on “Five Links 2/27/2020 Traci Kenworth

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