Posted in blogs, Craft, Family life, John Howell, author, Links, Reading, Short stories, traditional, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

How Much Character Do You Put On? By Traci Kenworth


How Much Character Do You Put On?

Traci Kenworth

In the world of beauty, we’re always concerned about what we are or aren’t putting on our faces. The goal is to improve on them, of course. Just like, if you think about it, our characters in our stories. So, how much character do you put on when it comes to your stories? By which, I mean, how true or authentic to themselves do you work to make each character?

Take an old lady. Easy character, right? Pruned skin. Cane to bend to her will. Ah, but how many other disabled these days carry canes? I do. And I’m fifty-five going on fifty-six. Mine is for my progressive neuropathy but also my fall risk. Sometimes my legs just want to buckle under me.

Not exactly the old lady you had in mind, huh? What would make her so for you? Gray hair? Blue-rinsed, white hair? Knobby knees? A pack of cats? A granny sweater? Eyeglasses on a chain? Add up the little details that make the whole. And each character is different. No two of us see the same old lady.

That’s how characters and people are. The truth comes in who we make them. What we pull into their makeup. We can make them rigid, aggravated, or complete bores. Think of a bully in high school. Most would think of guys. I knew some of those but mostly, my high school world was made up of female bullies.

I think that’s why I have a bit of hesitancy relating to my peers. Because so many of them were just ghastly to me. I had overweight girls try and keep me locked out of the school doors in the morning. And skinny ones spitting wads of paper at me in class. I’ve had senior girls tell me that I couldn’t use a certain door, or else. I’ve had girls younger than me harass me with ex guys that used to like me. Like I said, the role of bully is in the eye of the beholder.

Just like a mother. Some of us grew up with mothers who didn’t work outside the home. Some of us didn’t. I’d bet that on both sides of those coins, neither mom looked nor acted alike. Take their manner of clothing. They could’ve wore mostly skirts and dresses. Or pants. And there’s loads of combos in either of those sets. Some liked cotton. Some silk. Different patterns. Thickness. Accessories. The list goes on.

And fathers are more than just the standard ties that are advertised on TV sets. My dad never wore a tie. Even to funerals. He drove trucks. Worked in factories. Plastered ceilings of houses and buildings such as churches like the Mormon Church down in Kirtland, OH. He went fishing and hunting. Other dads did that too but not all. I’m sure there are more differences between our dads.

The point is: all characters come in different shapes and sizes. No two are alike. Pick any two books. No protagonist is like another. No matter the genre, no matter the similarity in the story. There is always something, some detail, that makes each unique to themselves. Katniss and Aelin. Two strong fighters in their different worlds. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Their heart and their truths. Their sins and their mistakes.

The cost of each character’s life is their own. But on the battlefield, they’re formidable. They know their opponents well and use every advantage they have against them. It’s never just a game to them. That’s how you create a story. You put a character on the field an audience can cheer for despite the odds. They make be just another serial killer but it’s the mold of that killer that makes him/her spring to life.

Know your character. The details that go into them. Their background. Their struggles. Triumphs. Everything blends together into the mix. They are the whole of that being. Do your homework. So, how much character do you put on?

Happenings: Happy 2023! The last year ended with a fizzle for us but hopefully, it jump-boarded us into a new opportunity for my family. Prayers and fingers crossed. Our electricity ended up going out the night before Christmas Eve with the big blizzard rolling in. We didn’t get a lot of snow, thank God. Because I still had to get my kids back and forth to work those days. We were out of electricity until the afternoon of the next day. We lost our water as well. That was out until a few days before the new year. Yes, I kid you not. And the place where I live, the landlords blamed the tenants for it being off. They said we didn’t replace the heat tape like we were told. We bought our new home and the heat tape they put in was good for three years. So them blaming us was just, there are no words. They claimed the tenants pulled the park employees away from their families and holidays and ruined them for them. You couldn’t find an employee in this park even this week. You know how they fixed the water situation? They let the water pipes thaw. Yeah. Real effort on their part. So, we heard about a nice piece of land and we’re hoping to buy and get out of here in 2024 when our contract to keep this house here expires in Sept. I have never liked landlords. They are devious in my opinion. At least, the ones I’ve run across. That being said, I know people who are landlords and I believe they treat their tenants better. Life is hard. Why make it harder by being an a**hole to people?

Here are some links around the web you might like:

  1. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/force-your-character-to-make-hard-choices/ One of the best things about conflict is that it pushes your characters to act. In every scene, your characters are making choices—big ones and small ones, and thereby steering their fate. Some decisions will be obvious and require little to no thought, but others will be muddier, with no clear “better” option, generating inner conflict. These choices, provided the characters feel personally invested in the decision, act as a test, revealing who they are. Finding ways to naturally characterize our characters is gold in storytelling, so making the most of a character’s decisions is a wise move. But when we make choices a bit more complex, they go beyond black-and-white options, which creates tension and potentially painful consequences. Hm. Working with two fears or two needs. Sounds delightful.
  2. Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2023/01/03/forgottenwords-doyouremember/ Interesting series!
  3. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/03/surging-forward/
  4. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/5-reasons-why-its-still-a-good-idea-for-writers-to-have-a-blog/ It’s 2023. Should writers have a blog? It’s been the subject of debate for several years now. There was a time when, if you intended to publish and sell books, you were expected to write a blog too. But it’s not so clear-cut today. There are a lot of ways to communicate with your potential readers, and blogging is only one of them. Here are five reasons why I think it’s still one of the best. I think a blog is an important outreach to your readers. It helps you to get to know them and they, to know you. I’m finding more confidence in my writing nowadays and I believe part of that comes from this blog. I know I can express myself and get my point across to others. I feel at home here, like I’m talking to old friends.
  5. Life in the Realm of Fantasy https://conniejjasperson.com/2023/01/04/the-business-side-of-the-business-finding-places-to-submit-your-work-amwriting/ Today, we’re going to explore the various forms of short fiction publishers are looking for and how the market drives what they will buy. Each publication only buys work they think will appeal to their readers, and each serves a different segment of the reading public. We are looking for markets that will pay you for your work. They are difficult to get into, but once you are in, you will be offered more opportunities. If you are writing science fiction, you most likely dream of having your work published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. They are seeking work that is strictly science-based, because that is what their readers expect. You might also want to submit to Uncanny, as they publish both sci-fi and fantasy. Their readers are more eclectic. Apex Magazine publishes work that pushes the limits, and that is what their readers expect. I’ve been working to break into these markets for a year and a half now. Frustrating but definitely builds your confidence and teaches you to revise, revise, revise with every resubmission.
  6. Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/angel-messages-jan-5-2023/
  7. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/thoughtfulthursday-dr-seuss/ No one could say it better than Dr. Suess!
  8. The Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/smorgasbord-health-column-2023-the-body-our-greatest-asset-the-brain-introduction-and-anatomy-by-sally-cronin/ I have featured this series over the last ten years on a regular basis for new readers who might have joined the blog. Our bodies are are greatest asset. It has a long road ahead of if from birth, through the teen years, work life, parenthood, middle age and then into our 70s and beyond. At every stage of our life healthy nutrition is essential to help the body develop and remain as disease free as possible. I appreciate that many of you may have read this series before three years ago, but I hope it will be a reminder of how amazing our bodies are, and simply eating the right foods, exercising moderately and not doing anything too reckless…will go a long way to enjoying later life to the full. Losing who I’ve become is one of my biggest fears. Up there with losing certain loved ones. I don’t know how I would cope with either situation and I’m not eager to find out.
  9. Staci Trilio https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/review-colettas-unnatural-mayhem/ With the fate of the Natural World at stake, can Shawnee and Mayhem stop trophy hunters before it’s too late? Explosive news of a crow hunt rings out in the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire, and one hundred crows gather to put an end to it. With so many lives at stake—including Poe’s—Shawnee and Mayhem must work together to stop the trophy hunters before they obliterate the local murder. Taking on twenty-five experienced hunters armed with shotguns is no small feat. If they fail, Poe may lead his brethren to their death. No matter what it takes, this group must be stopped. But what if Shawnee and Mayhem aren’t seeing the full picture? What if these men have secrets worth killing over? Sounds exciting to me!
  10. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2023/01/get-booked-on-a-podcast-by-answering-one-question/ A critical way to build awareness of your work and credibility as a writer is by sharing your ideas, writing, and opinions with people in your niche. Podcasts are an excellent marketplace for ideas — according to PodcastHosting.org, there are two million podcasts out there, so surely there are a few shows that can help you grow your brand by booking you as a guest. The secret to getting booked comes down to answering one question. While likely not a traditional media organization, a podcast still deserves the same level of professionalism. If the show does regular guest interviews, assume the producers or host gets numerous pitches for guests every week (I know my shows do!). This means you are in competition to get placed, and you need to put your best foot forward by answering this question:
  11. Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2023/01/05/lumara-by-melissa-landers-bookreview-ya-magic-fantasy/ Boarding school student Talia Morris has no idea her boyfriend, Nathaniel, is a Mystic, let alone second in line to the throne of a secretive, aspirational magical community―one no mortal has ever been allowed to step inside. Until now. Nathanial’s cousin is about to be married in the biggest wedding the magical world has ever seen, and Nathaniel is allowed to bring a date. Talia is the lucky recipient of the golden ticket every Mystic wannabe in the world would kill for―only she doesn’t want it. Talia thinks Mystic worship unnecessarily aggrandizes people for being born a certain way. When she finds out Nathaniel is “one of them,” she almost jumps ship. But Nathaniel loves her, and she loves him. So when he begs her to give his family and their community a shot, she reluctantly agrees.Enter the most fantastical world any mortal has ever seen, and a magical wedding straight out of a dream. After a few days of bonding with Nathaniel’s family on the island, of seeing how beautiful their magic is and how peaceful their community, Talia’s about to be won over―until the entire wedding party suddenly falls into an unexplainable coma and the community goes on lockdown. Talia, the outsider, is pegged as the culprit and has to do everything in her meager non-power to prove her innocence. As she embarks on a journey to find the truth, Talia soon discovers reality is not all it seems, and her past may put her in more danger than she ever imagined. Love to find reviews like this!
  12. Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/01/06/what-i-learned-from-90-queries-by-eva-langston/ Don’t be fooled by the title. I’ve actually sent hundreds of queries for four different novels over the past decade. Without going into detail, I queried a novel and eventually got an agent, parted ways with that agent, queried some more, collected rejections, wrote three more novels, queried more, revised a lot, had some babies, and then got back to querying. My summary: traditional publishing is a long game, so get yourself some gumption. Now, when I say 90 queries, I’m talking about the queries I sent for my most recent novel. The novel that, after a year and a half in the query trenches, got me an agent. I’m now happily represented by the brilliant Ali Lake of Janklow & Nesbit. In the fall of 2020, I started querying with what I thought was my best novel yet: a YA paranormal suspense. At first I was getting nothing but form rejections. So I sought advice from my writing group and revised the query letter and opening pages. But still, crickets. Finally I paid for a one-on-one Manuscript Academy meeting with agent Fiona Kenshole. And she laid a finger on why I wasn’t getting any requests. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the right details to put into a query. She gives good advice and insight.
  13. Fiction Favorites https://johnwhowell.com/2023/01/04/the-last-drive-blog-tour-with-chris-graham-the-story-reading-ape/ I doubt there is anyone in the blogging world who does not know about Chris Graham. Chris has spent the last ten years providing an avenue for authors to meet each other and to have a reliable source of all things writing. I am honored to be a guest of Chris’. So here is the link to the stop with Chris today. https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/01/04/reserved-for-john-howell-2/ The purpose of his blog, according to Chris, is fourfold. (In Chris’ words) 1. To introduce YOU to new (to me) authors I’ve come across in my wanderings through books and the cyberforest. 2. To provide a platform (battered old homemade soapbox) for authors to introduce themselves to you. (See my Contact Me Section for Guest Author article Guidelines) 3. As an informal information service to authors, poets, or anyone else who is thinking of becoming a published person of that ilk. 4. To promote FUN and an OASIS OF CALM and Font of useful Knowledge andTips for Indies (please do NOT feed my naughty chimps, or they may follow you home) from the woes and stresses of the real world. If you are not part of The Story Reading Ape’s team, you are missing an opportunity to learn, see, be seen, and be entertained. Thank you so much for helping spread the word on my latest, Chris. Follow John Howell as he guest over at Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog for his new story, “The Long Drive.”
  14. Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2023/01/04/my-2023-business-plan/ I have to confess, Craig’s business plans started me doing my own about three to four years ago now. They help immensely as they point you toward your goals for the year.
Posted in Craft, Reading, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Teen Topics to the Tune of Characters: Heartbreak Traci Kenworth


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Teen Topics to the Tune of Characters: Heartbreak

Traci Kenworth

Can you imagine waited bated breath as your crush focused on his best friend, your current best female friend as well? The torture suffocated her. Oh, why couldn’t he look at her that way? She knew every angle to his face. Every deep lash that shaded those green eyes. The idea of him knowing something, anything intimate about her brought a grimace. All he saw was what every other person saw: chubbiness that rendered her all but invisible.

“Alan is going to be so all-over-himself at this one,” Scott said.

She hung on every word, rewarded with a blink when she lost her balance when he glanced her way. Darn. Why did she always spaz around him?

The female friend, Lenore drew his attention back to her with a snap of her gum. “That’s his problem. He gets too overwhelmed by a girl.”

“Not his problem. He just puts his bar to high.”

Lenore huffed. “Not with Arlene.”

“Well.” Scott shrugged.

It’s now or never.

“A hard one to figure,” she added.

Scott swung to her. He frowned. “What do you mean?”

She colored. “Just, anyone could see that one had a problem.”

“You may be right.”

“Of course, she’s right,” Lenore said.

She exchanged a grin with Lenore.

“Are you two saying you knew something was up with her? Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Like any of you would’ve listened,” Lenore retorted.

She gazed at Scott. “You mean, you didn’t notice?”

He shrugged. “Well.”

“Admit it.” Lenore nodded.

“Okay. She wasn’t the best apple in the bunch.”

“More like the meanest beehive ever set loose.”

She burst into laughter. Scott followed. They shared a grin. Her heart nearly paused. The only thing that saved her was Lenore’s gesture.

“Here, he comes.”

Alan always looked like his wheat-colored hair was caught in the wind. He surveyed each of them, a hint of suspicion in his gaze. “What’s up?”

Scott curled a hand over his mouth. “Betty Rocklin.”

He took a step back. “You heard?”

“That she put you through the meatgrinder in gym?”

“Damn. I never catch a break.”

Posted in Craft, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Teen Topics To the Tune of Characters 5/31/2021 Unconditional Love by Traci Kenworth


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Teen Topics: To the Tune of Characters 5/31/2021

Traci Kenworth

Unconditional Love

Jori glanced around the bedroom painted teal with flower bordering. She swallowed hard. How did she luck into this? A queen bed shoved alongside one wall with gold sheet sets matching the white and gold bedroom set.

“Do you-like it?” the woman said, a hand to her husband’s arm.

No, not woman. Her new mom and dad for that matter.

She’d never had either. Her twelve-year-old self attempted a half-smile. Her voice rose scratchy as she spoke. “Sure.”

Behind them, the lovely interior of one of the wealthiest residents in Backwater, Tennessee caused her to step back. What if she broke something? Would they toss her out? Send her back to the orphanage? Or another foster family? Her hand curled around the suitcase they’d brought for her to put her things in. Her things. One pair of pants. Two shirts. A pair of shorts.

The woman-mom waved her inside the room. “Make yourself welcome.”

“Check out everything,” her dad said.

Taking a deep breathe, she inched into the setting. This couldn’t be real. She didn’t deserve this luxury. As if to hit that message home, two shadows appeared behind the parents. One boy. One girl. The boy smiled. The girl frowned. What a joy it must be for them to get a new sister, almost grown.

Her mother opened the closet. “We got your sizes from the- We hope you like them.”

Inside, every color of dress shimmered.

“The dressers are filled too. If you need anything else. Let us know.”

Her dad nodded. “You’ll be given an allowance to manage. We expect some chores. Same as any family.”

And if she didn’t do it to their satisfaction?

Her mother patted her arm. “Don’t worry. We won’t throw everything at you all at once.” She glanced at the rest of her family. “Let’s give her some space. To sort through things.”

The girl lingered behind the others. She flashed her teeth at Jori. Go ahead. Just relax. She’d be there to set her straight, that look said.

Jori cringed. Well, she couldn’t expect it all to be pudding could she?

Posted in blogs, Craft, Links, Links, MG & YA, Reading, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Five Links 8/29/2020 Traci Kenworth


Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Five Links 8/29/2020

Traci Kenworth

Writing:

1. https://killzoneblog.com/2020/08/have-your-characters-say-what-you-wish-youd-said.html “We’ve all been there. We’re driving home from a party where we were engaged in robust conversation. Someone said something boneheaded and we thought, That was a boneheaded thing to say. But not wishing to hammer that very obvious nail, we did not reply.

Now, halfway home, it comes to us. The perfect comeback! Witty, wise, pithy. If only we could go back in time! We’d be like the legendary members of the Algonquin round table. (“He and I had an office so tiny, that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery.” – Dorothy Parker.)

There’s an entire Seinfeld episode based on this premise. George is at a Yankees’ board meeting where a platter of shrimp is served. He over-enthusiastically consumes the crustaceans, prompting another board member, Reilly, to remark, “Hey, George. The ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.” The other members laugh. George can think of nothing to say in return.

Only later does he come up with what he thinks is the perfect comeback. “Oh, yeah? Well, the Jerk Store called, and they’re running out of you!” George’s friends are not impressed and offer alternatives. “No!” George insists. “It’s Jerk Store!” I sometimes have characters do what I didn’t necessarily do in those situations as well. The words and the actions can make the character stand out.

2.  https://stevelaube.com/a-growing-readership/ “It recently came to my attention that the email list for our agency’s blog has grown by 40% over the last two years. It’s now the size of a small town or a rather large church!

That is only the email list. It doesn’t count those of you who use the Facebook feed, the Twitter feed, an RSS feed, or come to the site directly on a regular basis. That is a pretty big crowd, and it is humbling to say the least.

It does raise a few questions.

Why do you read this blog?

Is it for the ever-delightful Tamela? For the always-fetching Bob? For the fascinating podcaster Thomas? For the curmudgeon comments of grumpy Steve? Or do you only come to watch videos on Fun Friday?

Actually, it is a serious question. We are regularly asking ourselves, “What do we address next?” “What do our readers want to read?” “What do our readers need to read?”

3. https://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/knowing-what-we-dont-know/

4. https://marciamearawrites.com/2020/08/28/the-nutshell-catch-and-the-point-of-no-return/ “Staci Troilo’s back on Story Empire today explaining the next part of The Nutshell Theory. This is great stuff, and something we can all learn from, so I hope you’ll stop by and check it out. As usual, please consider sharing on your favorite social media sites so others can learn as well. Thanks, and thanks to Staci for giving me a whole new batch of things to consider before I start my next book. Great job!”

5.

Research & Fun Tidbits:

1. https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/a-fantasy-word-list/ “One thing I do, and have done, with every edit (at least of a fantasy or science fiction novel or story) since starting at TSR in 1995 is create a word list/style guide. I’ll share my basic template here and encourage everyone to create and maintain this resource. I guarantee it will be a valuable tool not just for you while you finish your story or book—or series, even more so!—but it’s something you not only can but should give to editors and others who will be working with your text.

You might be surprised how often, as an editor, I get manuscripts in which the spelling of even the primary characters’ names change subtly throughout the text. Rules for initial caps and other things can easily end up being more or less randomly applied, too. But a sense of plausibility is often signaled in the subtlest of ways, including the judicious application or careful revision of an exiting rule of grammar and usage that works on a subconscious level so your world just “feels real.” Believe me, you’ll really come to appreciate it when it prevents an editor like me from “fixing” a perceived “mistake” that was an intentional component of your worldbuilding. The word list will warn your editor ahead of time that this was intentional, and not a typo.” This sounds like an awesome thing to do! I’m going to try this while I edit and going forward, each story I write.

2.  https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2020/08/29/one-of-those-kind-of-days-2/ “I’m glad there is pumpkin beer in the refrigerator, because I need it.

I wanted to pick up some kind of fuel additive to use on my generators. I have one that runs beautifully, and one that acts like it’s on life support. When I ran them a couple of weeks ago, one would only run if I left the choke on. Home Depot was our first stop.

My brother said to get one of two specific products, but they didn’t have either one. I found something that sounded like it would do the job and bought it.

My Dad and my Grandfather each had small generators. Even after 20 years they started right up with a couple of pulls. I whined to my brother about that, and he said it’s all because gasoline has ethanol in it today. I can see how that might be the” Not sure what a jackfruit is, lol.

3. https://pitchwars.org/day-1-part-1-of-the-pitch-wars-mentor-workshops-with-keena-roberts/ “Welcome to the Pitch Wars Workshops with some of our amazing past and 2020 mentors. From a lottery drawing, we selected writers to receive a query and first page critique from one of our mentors. We’ll be posting some of the critiques leading up to the Pitch Wars submission window. Our hope is that these samples will help you in shining up your query and first page.

We appreciate our mentors for generously dedicating their time to do the critiques. If you have something encouraging to add, feel free to comment below. Please keep all comments tasteful. Our comments are set to moderate, and we will delete any inappropriate or hurtful ones before approving them.

First up we have …

Pitch Wars Mentor Keena Roberts  … 

Keena Roberts is a 2020 Pitch Wars mentor for the Adult category. She is the author of Wild Life (Grand Central, 2019), about her childhood growing up in her primatologist parents’ research camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. She lives outside New York in the mountains with her wife, daughter, and several pets and enjoys reading by campfires, wherever she can find them.”

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Some Things More Serious:

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Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

1. https://dlfinnauthor.com/2020/08/28/fiction-in-a-flash-challenge-week-15-iartg-asmsg-pursoot-writingcommunity-fiction/

2. https://charmedchaos.com/2020/08/28/haiku-setting-sun/

3. https://padresramblings.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/darkest-abp-15/

4. https://pilgrimage.studio/2020/08/28/todays-shot-192/

5. https://reinventionsreena.wordpress.com/2020/08/28/end-of-a-dream/

Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

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Bestselling in Writing Books. 2,000 to 10,000. Complete English Grammar Rules. Burn After Writing. Writing Tools. The Blue Book of Grammar & Punctuation. 642 Things to Write About.

Posted in #tanka #haiku #poetry, #tanka#haigu#senryu#haiku#haibun#cinquain#etheree#nonet#shadorma, blogs, Colleen's Weekly Poetry Challenge, Craft, Muse, Reading, senryu, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry

Three Senryu and a Short Story Traci Kenworth


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Mementos scattered
across the map of the world
pictures of times past

all recall
happier days now
singed in ash

journals
the spyglass
no clues

Keepsakes

Traci Kenworth

How long had it been? Those stolen moments? Those discovered treasures. She pressed her fingertips to each. Oh, how she missed him. Days scattered into weeks and months. And finally, years.

She picked up the spyglass. When had he used it last? Had he found what he’d been looking for? Or did the engravings deny him translation. Many times, over their relationship, she’d seen him baffled and intrigued by what history had to offer.

Egypt had been their last work-vacation. Her, in the hotel conference her boss had arranged for his employees. Him, the remains of a new-found mummy. When she’d last held his hand, he’d croaked out something about plagues. Had she heard him correctly?

The map slowly curled its edges while she went to prepare something for lunch. She turned on the faucet to get water to boil, and the liquid splattered in the metal sink, blood-red. Thick as molasses.

Outside, locusts flung themselves repeatedly at the windows.

She backed away from it all. Closed her eyes. No, she was imagining. When she looked again, a meteor of fire flashed across the skies.

Bestselling in Vacation Essentials. Party Punch Natural Hangover Defense. Citronella Essentials Treats Fevers, Colds. Dehydration Fast Relief. Yanuck Women’s Sling-Toe Sandals. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets. Veckle Waterproof Phone Pouch.

Posted in blogs, Craft, MG & YA, Reading, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Writerly Things 8/24/2020 Traci Kenworth


Image by Valiphotos from Pixabay

Writerly Things 8/24/2020: Settling in to a New Routine

Traci Kenworth

Things are finally starting to settle into a new routine for me with driving the kids to their work, errands, cleaning, and writing. Thankfully, the kids work at the same place and the same hours but not always the same days off with the exception of Fridays. We were hoping when my son put his application in that it would work out that way. He’d applied for another job way back but they didn’t get back to him until after he got hired for this one. Their background checks take way too long!

Recipes.

I’ll be trying to return to posting recipes every Sun. on http://www.adashofseasons.com. I’d fallen behind on enough recipes to do the customary three I did. I had a post up just this past week and plan another for this weekend. Because I’ve changed posting times to the late evenings (after 9p.m.), you won’t see them till then. I’m hoping to draw more people in with more regular postings again.

I’m also scheduling the Inspirational Mondays or Random, Mythical Horses or Beasts or Humor and fun on Tuesdays, Writing or Dollar Hacks/decorating on Wednesdays, Pet Stories/Sci-Fi/Fantasy on Thursdays, and Fridays are off for me. Now these days of the week rotate but I do try and do two to three postings a week. Oh, and Saturdays, if I have them, I do book reviews that I’ve posted on either here or Loleta Abi.

Reading.

I’m going to be spending my days split between the Kindle, digital books from Netgalley, and arcs. I’ll be reading the Kindle on Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The digital books from Netgalley will be read on Sundays and Fridays. The arcs, if I have them, on Mondays and Wednesdays. I think this schedule will help me the most. Of course, I always read my physical copies while waiting for the kids, at appointments, etc. Or at night, before bed.

I’ve been neglecting my reading since early this year because of the chaos and then more recently, all the time we spent job searching, running errands, etc. I still don’t have everything rearranged but I’m getting there. Like I said, sometimes they have different rotating days off from each other and I’m still running one to work. The other is usually helping me clean or taking care of outside chores on one of their days off. The other is free for them.

Guest Posts.

I’ve been very slow on getting these out as of late. I intend to buckle down and get more out there. I hope my editor will be patient with me regarding Two Drops of Ink. In addition, I’d like to appear on some other sites in the future to keep my writing chops working. It helps to finish something more often than your novel, per se. When you finish a post, it makes you feel like you’re making progress. You might not have the book out there but you have something to show others.

At the moment, I’m working on two posts. I’m halfway through both of them so hopefully, it won’t be long. When I started writing posts early this year for Two Drops, I had no idea (just as all of you didn’t) what was going to be happening around the country in the months to come. We’re still not back to normal, whatever that is. I’m not sure we ever will be. There’s just so much risk and this spreads so rapidly.

Edits.

I’ve had to juggle my nights. Edits won out for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’ve had a hard time working on these with such uncertainty out there. Recently however, I’ve come to realize the possibility that we’ll return to normal will be far off down the road so there’s no point in not doing something I enjoy. It was hard to concentrate on it with everything going on.

I’ll make no more excuses, just get back to work on them.

Short Stories and Poems.

These, I’ve actually had more luck with since they’re shorter and the turn-over is quick. I came real close to getting one published a few months back and got word that I’d made it to Round Two but in the end, they had to pass. They encouraged me to resubmit. It was the nicest rejection I’ve received so far. I mean, cause hey, Round Two. They’re also some of the nicest people in the horror community so that was also a plus for me.

I have been participating in Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry challenge as some of you know when I have the time. I’ve tried to write three poems and a story to go with them of late. I’m starting to see a real improvement in my work because of them. They give me just enough confidence to keep at my regular writing.

Other Things.

I’ve returned to working on character builder on OneStopforWriters.com. I had slowed on that as well. I’m returning to my agent research where I read what the agents I’m interested in are saying and where they are toward their wants and query piles. Genealogy, I’ve picked back up and am working on new leads. I’ve also started watching podcasts again. I have a lot of these to catch up on. I haven’t been able to get over to discord in some time. I hope to pick back up there eventually. I’m sorting through my craft books again and started up where I left off with them.

Masterclass.

A generous and wonderful writer in her own light gifted me a year of Masterclass. I finished going through Neil Gaiman’s classes last Sunday. They were SO fabulous! I learned so much from him. He used examples from his own work such as The Sandman, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book to mention a few. The man has such a lovely voice and is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

Up next, I’m not sure if I’ll listen to R.L. Stine or James Patterson or one of the many other talented writers they have on there. They also have many other professionals on there including Ron Howard, famous chefs, interior designers, you name it. It’s kind of on the expensive side but I’ve heard from people you probably wouldn’t normally run into in your own life unless you perhaps moved into their community.

Hope you have a great week, take care, and God bless!

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Three Senryu and a Short Story Traci Kenworth


Image credit: Snapwire from Pexels

a piece of fabric
lies cluttered beside rail tracks
its owner misplaced

did she run along 
the train’s rails, heart in her throat,
or did her dress tear

did she see the beast
leave the shadows of the trees
no bones or blood tracked

The Girl Running Beside the Train Tracks

Traci Kenworth

Millie lost her shoe in the flight from whatever lunged after her. She’d been about to tie her laces at the time. Bent down, she’d heard a noise. Low, keening. Like a wounded animal. She’d thought perhaps a dog—

And gone to look. Eyes hooded like a snake; the beast had crept from the woods. She’d shouted but no one came. Perhaps the train drowned out all sound from around her. Gusting down the tracks, the people inside paid her no mind as they went about their travels. Never mind, that she’d been a passenger. She’d gotten down to investigate some flowers and that was that.

She raced down the path beside the rails, the beast coming near enough to snatch a piece of her purple dress. It spun her around as it did so. She stumbled and braced herself on a tree trunk. Please. Whatever god was out there—

She wanted to live. To grow up. To do so many things.

Why she hadn’t even kissed a frog and turned it into a prince yet.

Okay, maybe that was a stretch. But what about the pony she wanted? Surely, she should have that. Or at least, a kitten.

Maybe both.

She sucked in air. Must run. She bolted toward the blue sky ahead. Someone, help.

The beast panted behind her, its claws snarling in her hair. It swung her around. She batted at it, pushing those great snapping jaws to the side. Her gaze widened at the trickle of blood on its paw. She examined it further, the beast stifling its rage. At once, she saw the problem.

The thorn removed; the beast bowed to her. “My thanks.” He gestured to a saddled and bridled pony. “Yours.”

“I’ll treasure it always.”

The End.

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Posted in blogs, Craft, Family life, MG & YA, Reading, Short stories, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Writerly Things 8/17/2020 Traci Kenworth


Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Writerly Things 8/17/2020: Forgiveness as We Age

Traci Kenworth

Mistakes run the course of our lives. So does forgiveness, if we let it. God doesn’t just forgive you one time and if you backslide, that’s it. He does so infinitely. We can be disappointed in ourselves when we realize the error of our ways but there is always grace that will lead us back to him.

Judgment.

We find this in our fellow man. He is quick to anger. Quick to burn out when it’s all said and done. The problem in judging others is that Jesus gave us the commandment to love one another as we would our neighbors. If we constantly accuse others of wrong-course and don’t look to our own back door, trouble enters.

The thing is: we have a limited supply of time on earth. Forgiveness can help us hold on to our health. Believe me, I know how easy it is to hate and curse someone. I’m not saying I’ve never done it. Or that I won’t again. But I look to God and pray that all that is released from me. There was a darkness that surrounded me with my marriage. Even going through the divorce and custody battle, it was there.

It wasn’t until the kids and I went to counseling that I started to let all that drift away. Believe me, there was a lot to move on from. At times, some of that still boils up when one of his relatives or him tries to contact me. (I was awarded sole custody so the kids have not seen him since those dark days.) They are not even remotely interested in contacting him. To them, I was their mother as well as their father.

Atoning.

Not saying I was perfect or didn’t ever do anything wrong in my life. I floundered many times. Especially with my bipolar. That darkness I spoke of, swallowed me whole and I had a breakdown a few years after the divorce and the loss of the job that injured me. I was so convinced that I was right that I couldn’t see that I was hurting those around me that loved me. The paranoia of those days haunts me. I was ambushed daily with the idea that those around me were conspiring against me. I know this all stemmed from what I went through in those dark years.

I couldn’t see that though. My mind wouldn’t let me. It took many treatments before I stabilized. Do I have regrets from that time? Oh my God, yes. However, the strengths that came along with healing showed me that I had more going for me than I realized. For my children, I would endure all that pain and hell again. They are my true joys. They encourage me and help me as I struggle with bipolar. No, it doesn’t go away. But I’ve accepted it as part of who I am.

Did I atone for the hurt I caused? I hope, in the end. I hope others do as well. I don’t wish anyone that pain and misery holed up inside them. It might not be easy. Maybe the person has moved or died. They don’t necessarily have to be there for you to release that burden from your life. And it is a burden. Do it for yourself and your loved ones. They deserve all of you. Not whatever has you hanging onto the past. Have a great week, take care, and God bless!

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Three Senryu and a Short Story Traci Kenworth


Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Challenge using the words Circled and Squared, synonyms only.

Image by Albina Mukhtarova from Pixabay

The sketch encompassed
her day of who he was, this
balance boy and man

he seemed all
shadows and light both
brash and bold

girded
by life ink
and bone

The Rival

Traci Kenworth

All day she sat, sketching him first then adding ink. He leapt off the page, part boy, part man, all shadows and light. Who was this mystery man? Had she met him somewhere before? Glimpsed him in a dream? She tapped her finger slightly one the edge of the canvas. So brash, so bold. His image balanced perfectly there.

A knock came at her door.

“Judy?”

“Yes, Mother?”

“Beau is here to see you.”

She straightened her dress and hair. Oh, no. She nearly upset her chair when she launched to her feet, determined he not find her like this. What would he think?

He strolled into the room, hat in hand. Her mother behind.

“Judy, darling,” he said, reaching for her hands and kissing the palms. He eyed her painting. “Is this then my rival?”

Her mother tittered.

“You have no rival, Beau. He’s merely a dream.”

He studied her work. “Well, I hope he won’t steal you away to often. I don’t intend to share.”

She smiled at him.

“I merely stopped by to tell you our reservations are set for this Friday. We’ll share a booth at the opera with my parents and yours.”

Her mother beamed.

Judy squeezed his hand. “I’ll look forward to it.”

Beau and his mother left her to her thoughts. She turned back to the painting to find it empty. What? She stepped over her chair. Where had the image gone?

Try as she might, she never got the subject back. It was almost as if the mystery man didn’t want to compete either.

Motherhood descended on her not long after she and Beau married. She never took up her art again. Perhaps he had represented what she knew she would lose with her vows.

Then again, look at those towheads out the window. What a gain.

The End.

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Five Links 8/9/2020 Traci Kenworth


Image by currens from Pixabay

Five Links 8/8/2020

Traci Kenworth

Writing:

1. https://stevelaube.com/realistic-language-in-fiction/ “I’m a former crime reporter and trauma survivor with lots of counseling writing a suspense novel. I’m trying to balance Christian fiction guidelines with the speech and behavior I’ve seen in police stations and at crime scenes. I’ve come up with some of my own ways to show through action that a cop is angry or frustrated, but can you guide us to some books where cops sound like cops without the swear words? I’m not a big fan of “he swore softly under his breath,” which I see a good bit. Also, is there such a thing as a character being too angry with God, as long as she turns back to him well before the story ends? 

I admire and understand that you want to be realistic. But since Christian readers are looking for uplifting fiction, I think you are safe focusing on the victory of God’s glory over the day-to-day grit of how some police officers and criminals might speak and act. At the same time, I agree that using the same dialogue as you would for small children would take the reader out of the story. Many an author before you has tackled this problem and succeeded. I recommend reading popular Christian authors writing in the suspense genre for guidelines. Here is an excellent link that will take you to 35 recommendations from Family Fiction online magazine. They often publish similar lists in various genres.”

2. https://megdowell.com/2020/08/07/10-things-youll-always-be-afraid-of-as-a-writer/

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Research & Fun Bits:

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Some Things More Serious:

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Teaser Fiction & Poetry:

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Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2020/08/06/released-curses-dark-and-foul/ “The title of the anthology has a rather grim connotation to it as well it should since all three stories involve a curse. Each of the stories places a main character in a situation of coping with an insurmountable challenge with a curse. Each one of the characters is in a situation where they likely have no way out but forward into the teeth of a inescapable fate. Dark and foul certainly well describes the circumstances for these characters which hopefully makes for an intriguing read.”

2. https://culturevultureexpress.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/amazing-you-a-celebration-of-individuality-by-connie-goyette-crawley-review/ “The book is about protagonist Jenna and an elephant Ed, a zebra Maxine, a hippo Sue, a giraffe Paul, a monkey Mike and a rhino Jax. Each of them have something about them which they see as a flaw and wish to change. The book has a fantastic message about embracing your individuality and respecting the differences in both yourself and other people. It is a lovely story of friendship and kindness. The illustrations are also wonderful and really get the author’s story across really well.

This was a joy to read. I think it’s wonderful that there is a book out there like this for children in a world where kids are not always encouraged to embrace their individuality and may face bullying. It shows that there is others out there who will not judge you with the same horrible cruelty and therefore the message the writer puts across here in a very entertaining and sweet way is a very vital message. It is also a great book for adults as it is a nice reminder to be confident in you as even we have moments where we forget to embrace who we are too. And it is a reminder to us all that everyone has insecurities about something too.”

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