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Five Links 3/6/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Five Links 3/6/2020

Traci Kenworth


1. “Not many people know that the decades-long feud between the Hatfields and McCoys started at a writers conference. The head of the Hatfield clan was an outliner. McCoy was a pantser. They were on a panel together and things got heated. Then the shooting started.

In those days, several McCoys were heard to say that they had to write the book in order to “discover” what the book was really about. If they got tied down to an outline, that’d take all the originality and “fun” out of the writing. They’d chew tobacco when they said such things, and every now and then they’d spit and say something about how an outline removes spontaneity (although they didn’t know words like spontaneity). A McCoy once remarked, “Them ’liners don’t never have no surprises. They don’t discover nuthin’. Got no use for ’em.”

Well, the guns are put away now, but the outliner (plotter) v. pantser divide is still grist for the panel mill. What I want to home in on today is this notion that the best method for “discovering” your story is by not knowing what you’re going to write until you write it. That way the whole thing is organic and surprising. And if the author is surprised (so goes the reasoning) the reader surely will be surprised as well.

Implied in this is the idea that plotters are stuck with their outline and are thus discovery challenged.” Wow. That’s something I didn’t know. Strange, how little differences can make us enemies.

2. “When I pondered what to write about for this month’s theme of “Best writing hacks ever,” it occurred to me that better minds than mine have probably made lists and offered suggestions on the topic. I decided to do a little search and see what I could find. As you might imagine, I found plenty!

Without further ado, here is a random compendium of offerings from the vast world of the internet, in ever-ascending numbers of suggestions per list…

3. “In my last post, we talked about how writers can pay they help they’ve received forward to others, especially to newer writers. However, there’s another aspect to writing life: readers.

Those of us who publish owe thanks to readers. Without readers, we’d just be publishing books for no reason. Readers help make the time and work we put into writing and editing all worth it.

Those of us who read are grateful to those who write the wonderful books we enjoy. But we also shouldn’t forget to be grateful for our literacy skills. Being able to read probably feels like a basic thing or a given to many of us, but not everyone we encounter in a day possesses those skills.

So to circle back to my previous post, whether we’re a writer and/or a reader, let’s talk about how we all can pay our blessings forward when it comes to literacy. How can we give others the same benefits of literacy we’ve enjoyed?”

4. “Before I started using One Stop for Writers, I purchased The Emotion Thesaurus on Amazon, then The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and so on. After starting to use One Stop for Writers I fell in love with having all the thesauruses available to use online, but I ran into a problem: often, more than one entry applied to what I was working on, and in a given entry, only a few lines might apply. I ended up with multiple books lying open and half a dozen browser tabs open as I frantically flipped back and forth between all of them looking for the crucial details I knew were there. Little did I know that One Stop for Writers has a solution for this. It’s called Notes.” I can’t say enough good things about One Stop for Writers! I didn’t know about the note feature but I’m SO in love with the Character Builder!

5. “If you’re a writer trying to wrap your mind around the business end of publishing, I hope you’re watching ABC’s Shark Tank. The show has nothing to do with publishing, but it has everything to do with understanding exactly what you are doing when you put your query or proposal in front of an agent or publisher. Whether you know it or not, you’re going into the shark tank.

The program features a group of six venture capitalists looking for businesses in which to invest. The contestants are entrepreneurs with small businesses needing capital. Each contestant stands before the “sharks,” pitches their business, and specifies the amount of money they’re asking for, and what percentage of their business they’re offering for that investment.

It’s fascinating hearing the pitches, the investors’ reactions and questions, and the negotiations. Then you get to see which businesses come away with an investment and which walk away empty-handed. I love it! I’m”

Research & Fun Tidbits:

1. “nternational situations are normal for me. I’m American, I live in Germany, and my wonderful agent is based in the UK. When the book deals for my debut novel Finding Clara (UK) / The German Heiress (US) started rolling in, I hadn’t really given a thought to how the editors at the different publishing houses would approach revisions. Turns out I had deals in the UK and the US within weeks of eachother, and two editors eager to work in tandem with me on the editorial process. 

Two editors instead of one! Would this mean too many cooks spoiling the book? I wasn’t sure going in. But I was so excited by the enthusiasm of the teams that I was more than willing to jump in. Here’s how it worked on a practical level. 

The editorial letter

I won’t lie. It was intimidating because it was long! About 10 single-spaced pages of the most indepth analysis of my book that I’d ever experienced.”

2. “Misfortune and struggle create opportunities for growth. We place obstacles in our protagonists’ paths that will force change on them. Crises, even small ones on the most personal of levels, are the fertile ground from which adventure springs.

In the editing process, we must ensure these opportunities are clearly defined, logical, and in the right place.

Most disasters are preceded by one or more points of no return.




Some Things More Serious:

1. “Val McDermid is one of the most successful crime authors in the world. Her novels have been translated into 40 languages, they’ve sold over 15 million copies and show no sign of letting up. She has written procedural crime, cold-case crime, and even penned the first ever ‘cynical, socialist, lesbian, feminist journalist’.

We talk about how her method of writing has changed over the course of 38 books, moving from heavy plotting to hardly plotting at all. Also we chat about how much she cares about her readers, and how she knows which of her characters will solve the crime currently swirling around her mind.”

2. “I expect most people, whether they agree with it or not, are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality classification system which divides the population into 16 groups. Many psychologists complain this is over simplified, but although the system appears to consist of four binary couples, each pair is, in fact, a spectrum and the four letter classification merely a place to start. Be that as it may, the idea can be a pretty good place to start when developing characters. It also raises a yellow caution flag for writers.

One thing I find difficult is separating myself from my characters. So, for example, using Myers-Briggs, I am INTJ. An ESFP character would react differently in just about every situation. Consider a scene in which the main character, a marketing manager, is meeting with his team prior to a product launch. The first question I would ask in such a meeting would involve clarifying the timeline so I could plan an effective campaign, verifying my resources and evaluating demographic possibilities, but if this guy is ESFP, his chief concern would be how the customer might relate at an emotional level to the new product, how they might create a marketing campaign fully inclusive of women, indigenous people and minorities, and how the campaign might grab the buyers at a visceral level. However, before even getting to the question stage, this main character would likely lead off the meeting by displaying considerable excitement at the opportunity. He would be effusive in his praise for the product, how it would contribute to the company brand and how it would enhance the lives of customers. This might inspire his team; however, someone such as myself would find him lacking in substance.”

3. “Mine never was a voice to blend in and certain never to be stifled. From the moment I was old enough to join the local children’s choir, I was a thorn in my director’s side, and despite her encouragement in cheerful falsetto, her attempts to teach me balance, my voice – already too big and too bold – possessed of far too much vibrato for a twelve year old…stood out.  

 So off to vocal lessons I went, a three-hour drive away as no teacher in my small hometown wanted to grapple with a middle school student who yearned to sing Puccini, but needed to start with Mozart, then work her way up by way of French mélodie and German lieder. My parents, who were (and still are) inexhaustible givers and my greatest champions, made the journey with me once a month, sometimes twice. 

 However, despite ensuring I practiced diligently and mouthing the words to every song I sang so often I was forced to ignore them whenever I sang in front of an audience, they also gently encouraged me to pursue my love of books and writing rather than music. I was a top student in my advanced placement and running start Language Arts courses, and had won several writing competitions, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. I preferred storytelling through song, crafting and coloring phrases with the timbre and tone of my emergent soprano instrument. I craved the thrill of the spotlight and the applause. I wanted people to adore me. After all, my vocal teachers and collaborators likened my voice to a bell: high, clear, and resounding. A herald, a siren, impossible to ignore. “



Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

1. “Mountain Justice is an intense and short read about a woman who is the victim of horrific physical and mental abuse by her husband. Anne is six months pregnant when her savage and mentally unstable husband beats her nearly to death because he thought she looked at another man with interest. Annie is discovered, beaten and bleeding, by her old school friend, veterinarian, Rob, who also helps her care for her horse, Czar. Due to his early intervention, Annie lives, although she loses her baby, and returns to live on the farm, which is actually hers. Her husband, George, is sent to prison for five years.

During this five year period, Annie continues her life on the farm while George nurses his hatred for her from afar. He blames her for his imprisonment and vows to punish her. At the end of the five years, George is released from prison and at the same time, Annie’s horse starts behaving in a strange and unsettled way.”



4. “Where is Mister Fox? The night howls in triumph… pale eyes watch from the shadows… It is the night of the Hunter’s Moon and the dancing ground should be alive with flame as the Foxes dance in the dark. But the dancing ground is deserted. They are gone. No earthly light pierces the gloom, only the sickly glow of a veiled moon.

Don and Wen stare in disbelief. Whispers in the shadows, a faceless voice, a tale of ambush and betrayal… of Foxes driven from their home and scattered, condemned to wander far from their ancestral lands. Charles James Fox wounded… none has seen him since that fateful night. Will the Hunter’s Moon pass in darkness? Have the Demon Dogs succeeded in their mission to bring eternal winter to the land? Or will their celebrations be short-lived?”


Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “There are a lot of layers in Grinders. I’m at Charles’s place today to discuss one of the sub-plots that wrapped up fairly well. While you’re there, check out Charles’s blog and his War of Nytefall series. He just released a new volume about the same time I published Grinders.”

2. “One of the best things about being a book blogger is being able to shout about a damn good read. This book by Angela Barton is one of these.

It made me devour it in two days and took my mind off a certain virus which everyone is talking about and my tumble dryer breaking for a 4th time.

This book is not one you can put down for a few days and pick back up. Angela’s style of writing and her twisty plot make it difficult for you to walk away from it. I kept telling everyone I was going to tidy my house and then a few minutes later find myself back in the world of Tess Fenton.

Here’s the blurb:

Three isn’t always a magic number … 
There are three reasons Tess Fenton should be happy. One, her job at the Blue Olive deli may be dull, but at least she gets to work with her best friend. Two, she lives in a cosy cottage in the pretty village of Halston. Three, she’s in love with her boyfriend, Blake.”





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

4 thoughts on “Five Links 3/6/2020 Traci Kenworth

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