Posted in blogs, horror, Links, traditional, YA

Book Review: The Girl From the Well Rin Chupeco by Traci Kenworth


Book Review: The Girl From the Well Rin Chupeco by Traci Kenworth

Book Blurb: “[A] Stephen Kinglike horror story…A chilling, bloody ghost story that resonates.”― Kirkus

From the highly acclaimed author of the Bone Witch trilogy comes a chilling story of a Japanese ghost looking for vengeance and the boy who has no choice but to trust her, lauded as a “a fantastically creepy story sure to keep readers up at night” (RT Book Reviews)

I am where dead children go.

Okiku is a lonely soul. She has wandered the world for centuries, freeing the spirits of the murdered-dead. Once a victim herself, she now takes the lives of killers with the vengeance they’re due. But releasing innocent ghosts from their ethereal tethers does not bring Okiku peace. Still, she drifts on.

Such is her existence, until she meets Tark. Evil writhes beneath the moody teen’s skin, trapped by a series of intricate tattoos. While his neighbors fear him, Okiku knows the boy is not a monster. Tark needs to be freed from the malevolence that clings to him. There’s just one problem:  if the demon dies, so does its host.

Suspenseful and creepy, The Girl from the Well is perfect for readers looking for

  • Spooky books for young adults
  • Japanese horror novels
  • Ghost stories for teens
  • East Asian folklore

Praise for The Girl from the Well

“There’s a superior creep factor that is pervasive in every lyrical word of Chupeco’s debut, and it’s perfect for teens who enjoy traditional horror movies…the story is solidly scary and well worth the read.” ― Booklist

“Chupeco makes a powerful debut with this unsettling ghost story…told in a marvelously disjointed fashion from Okiku’s numbers-obsessed point of view, this story unfolds with creepy imagery and an intimate appreciation for Japanese horror, myth, and legend.” ― Publishers Weekly STARRED review

“It hit all the right horror notes with me, and I absolutely recommend it to fans looking for a good scare. ” ― The Book Smugglers

My Review: The book opens with a serial killer snatching a young Tark. His cousin joins the search for him. When she discovers his location and frantically tries to get him away, she discovers that Tark is not alone. Something haunts him. A young girl who saves both their lives in her vengeance for victims that’ve gone before.

The cousin watches Tark in the months that follow worried over the presence within him. She doesn’t realize that an even darker force rules the boy due to his mother. Okiku, the ghost, is determined to keep Tark save from the same. When Tark’s father invites the cousin to Japan where his mother was from to delve into the sickness that has grown in the boy, she jumps at the chance to keep him safe.

Okiku begins to reveal to the cousin her past in Japan as they journey along to the mountain village Tark’s mother is from. Once there, they learn secrets about Tark’s mother, what she was trying to do, and what must be done to save him if possible. Because there’s a curse deeper than the one his mother cast on him, one that could cause Tark to die.

Thoughts: This was a decent horror read. I had a bit of trouble getting into the book because of all that I didn’t know about the Japanese culture. At times, it did distract me from the story. I liked when they arrived in Japan versus the American part better. Learning about Okiku was interesting. Also, diving into Tark’s mother’s history.

I think I liked the Japan part of the story because it seemed more grounded, more relevant. While in America, the background wasn’t as well drawn in and therefore, harder to get into. This won’t stop me from reading the sequel, however.

         I have other book reviews to deliver next as part of my getting back into things. At some point however, I do have to go in for a more complicated surgery and I’m not sure how that will play out as far as recovery. I plan to get back to two books by Indie authors that I owe a review for asap. In the meantime, the Netgalley ones have to be gotten through as I go along to keep with their time schedules. This happened to be a Netgalley one. The opinions are my own given in exchange for a free review copy.

Here are some products you may like. I do receive a small compensation from the site for posting them.

  1. The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
  2. The Shadow and the Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo Highly recommend!
  3. The Cursebreaker Series by Brigid Kemmerer Another highly recommend!
  4. The Caravel Series by Stephanie Garber Still another highly recommended!
  5. The Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger A classic!

Below are some links you may enjoy:

  1. The Indie Spot

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon. Craig’s work is always worth a read!

2. Entertaining Stories

I closed my iPad, then leaned back in my lounge chair. “That’s a wrap for today, folks.”

Lisa Burton, my robot assistant picked the twin ponytails from her hair. “Back to more Cicis tomorrow?”


“You really need to get these girls some better clothes.”

“I did, but they tend to wear jumpsuits while they’re on the ship. We’re deep into the mission right now.”

Percy, the Space Chimp, perked up. “Not bad, dude. I’m finally in the shuttle and weapons are hot. I’m expecting to kick some major ass tomorrow.”

“Me, too. We’re nearly finished. You have two adventures left in this book and I should easily break eighty-thousand words.”

3. Word Craft Poetry

Okay, I’ve finally found a theme that works for me. Whew! WP definitely upgraded the editor again, because everything looks different in the post template. I also had to change my browser to Chrome. Not my favorite, but everything seems to be working on WP. Fingers Crossed!! Many thanks to David for his theme inspiration… the Libre2 theme is working. 🙏🏻 🌸

This week for #TankaTuesday, I’m sharing the spot where I do all my writing and creating. Sophie spends the day (and nights) with me most of the time. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m still in my jammies as it’s been another wintry day here in Michigan. I’m looking forward to spring!

4. Kill Zone Blog

Not long ago, (but before the lockdown) I was invited to speak at a library down in Mason, just west of San Antonio. That little south Texas town was where Fred Gipson lived, one of my favorite authors who wrote Old Yeller and Savage Sam.

They put me up in a quaint old hotel down there in the hill country, overlooking the town square that wasn’t much more than an intersection of two lane roads. It was one of those little perks I enjoy as an author. I spoke that night and signed my latest novel, then retired to the balcony and sipped a gin and tonic under the stars, thinking about an elderly woman who came to me after the talk, asking if I could help her with a problem.

I’d signed my last book and was getting ready to leave when she took a chair beside me. “You’re a famous author.” She spoke with a German accent, which isn’t unusual in that part of the Lone Star State. The German-Texan culture began here in 1831, five years before the Alamo fell, and significantly increased after the close of the Civil War. It’s estimated that over 40,000 emigrants moved to Texas by the close of the nineteenth century.

“No ma’am. I’m far from famous, just a pretty good writer who entertains people.”

“Well, you surely have an agent.” A note to anyone thinking of publishing. Read this!

5. Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

It is 1993 and in the February I hit the big 40. At the beginning of the year, I looked at my wish list as most of us do before hitting a milestone birthday. One of my top ‘things to do before I am 40’ was to own a racy little number.

As a teenager I had a number of boyfriends who owned sports cars. Whilst they may have anticipated something a little different when I suggested that we adjourn to the car park at Clarence Parade after a date, they were disappointed. I only wanted their car keys! I had spent many a happy hour in a Triumph Spitfire or a later model TR4 doing circuits of the car park.

I did not get my official driving licence until 1980 and had driven for both work and pleasure in the intervening years. We had enjoyed many road trips when living in Texas including across from Houston to New Mexico, a distance of 650 miles without stopping except for gas.

Posted in blogs, Craft, Family life, horror

Writerly Things 8/32/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Writerly Things 8/31/2020: What We Do in the Shadows

Traci Kenworth

Have any of you watched the TV series: What We Do in the Shadows or read the books? I find the series extremely kooky and funny. There are four vampires but basically three of them ignore the fourth, an energy vampire, Collin. A familiar who wants to become one of them serves the Master, Nandor the Relentless. The female vampire is Nadja and her husband, Laszlo.

They make fun of themselves and other vampires. Nandor who when the Barron came to town, wanted to layer himself with glitter to get that Twilight effect. Nadja has a former lover who keeps getting reborn and beheaded over the years. She longs to be with him but is bored with the latest rebirth. His name is Jeff and she just can’t get interested in someone named Jeff.

Laszlo has a row with vampires who according to an ancient scroll have to fight on an ancient neutral turf. A roof top. There, each is to choose their best warrior. A huge beast is chosen for the werewolf pack, the vampires chose, Nandor, of course. He wins the battle by aid of a chew toy.

One episode has them facing the Vampire Council after the Barron is killed. The familiar tries to take the blame but the council does not believe him despite his insistence that it’s true. Instead, Nandor confesses the three killed him. They are sentenced to die by sunlight. When they are left in a pit to die, the familiar and Collin rescue them.

There are just such hilarious turns in this show. It’s on Netflix if you’re interested. So far, there are two seasons. It may be a bit racy for children.

Bestselling in Writing. Multifunctional Desk 43 inches with Drawers. Ateboo Writing Desk with Drawers. OFM Functional Writing Desk with Drawers. Omfa Computer Writing Desk with Drawers. Adorneve Writing Desk with Drawers and Hutch.

Posted in blogs, fantasy, horror, MG & YA, Reading, YA

Book Talk 5/22/2020: Kiersten White’s Chosen Traci Kenworth

Book Talk 5/22/2020: Kiersten White’s Chosen

Traci Kenworth

Chosen by Kiersten White. Simon Pulse. Jan 2020. YA.

Amazon’s blurb: Seventeen Best YA Book of 2020 So Far
Hypable Most Anticipated YA Fantasy Sequel of 2020
“Will get Buffy fans up in their feels.” —Entertainment Weekly on Slayer

Nina continues to learn how to use her slayer powers against enemies old and new in this second novel in the New York Times bestselling series from Kiersten White, set in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Now that Nina has turned the Watcher’s Castle into a utopia for hurt and lonely demons, she’s still waiting for the utopia part to kick in. With her sister Artemis gone and only a few people remaining at the castle—including her still-distant mother—Nina has her hands full. Plus, though she gained back her Slayer powers from Leo, they’re not feeling quite right after being held by the seriously evil succubus Eve, a.k.a. fake Watcher’s Council member and Leo’s mom.

And while Nina is dealing with the darkness inside, there’s also a new threat on the outside, portended by an odd triangle symbol that seems to be popping up everywhere, in connection with Sean’s demon drug ring as well as someone a bit closer to home. Because one near-apocalypse just isn’t enough, right?

The darkness always finds you. And once again, it’s coming for the Slayer.

My Review: Most of this book I guessed wrong at. Lol. Always a good thing. Nina and her sister, Artemis, are at odds. Artemis has joined Sean’s cult group and is trying to help a god get back his glory. She sneaks into the castle at night and steals a book. Although Nina catches her, she allows Artemis to leave with the book hoping Artemis will realize she can still come home. Out on a hunt with Doug, she is shocked to discover Leo still alive, a fractured shell of himself who is dying because he won’t feed like his mother did. She also picks up three other slayers from Buffy’s fold and takes them back to the castle. Meanwhile, Artemis, hungry for power, attacks the castle with Sean’s minions to retrieve something they need. When Nina realizes the extent her sister is willing to go to, to bring her and the Watchers down, will the prophecy at last come true?

It was a nice edition to the slayer universe. I like how everything ended up. Fighting the darkness within is sometimes the hardest thing to do as evident by both Artemis and Nina. I did find the bit pertaining to Oz’s portrayal weird. It didn’t seem like him at all. Faith was dead-on. Buffy—off in the time she was shown.

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

Five Links 3/27/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by JacekBen from Pixabay

Five Links 3/27/2020

Traci Kenworth


1. “Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: Bad Weather”



4. “If your brain is any amount of scattered like mine, now might be a good time to cover some of the basics of our writing craft. So let’s tackle a subject I haven’t dug into here before: dialogue formatting and a few do’s and don’ts.

I originally started this post intending to dig deeper into a dialogue point-of-view question a reader asked, but the introduction of these formatting basics took up the whole post. Oops! So rather than shortchanging either topic, I’ll cover the basics today and we’ll come back to the more advanced stuff on Thursday. *smile*

Most of us who want to write also love reading, so we might think we already know everything about dialogue formatting, but sometimes a tricky situation can catch us by surprise. So let’s make sure we know all there is to know about dialogue formatting.”

5. “All across the nation, people are staying home, socially distancing, and generally isolating themselves. Which means, getting together with your critique partners has become a national no-no, unless you’re FaceTiming or using one of those conferencing aps like Zoom.

So what’s a writer to do when you’re staring a new book, and that writer’s retreat that you scheduled where you were going to plot it out with friends has been postponed indefinitely? Short answer: you gotta suck it up and figure it out on your own.

Here’s something I do whenever I get stuck, or I’m just starting a book, and my critique partners and brainstorming posse is unavailable.

Step One: I get a piece of paper and at the top I write the character’s name. And right under that I write down his/her major external goal or problem.

Step Two: For ten minutes I write down stuff that could happen that would make it harder to achieve that goal, or which would make the goal more important. I write down everything including dumb ideas, cliches, and stuff that’s just silly. When the timer goes off, I usually have a list of at least 20 things that could happen, and usually the last few are kind of interesting.

Step Three:  I get a second piece of paper, write down the character’s name and his/her goal at the top.  And then instead of thinking about things that would make the goal more important or harder, I think about all the things that could happen that would make the character’s goal more important/problematic for the community in which the character operates.  In my case that’s always a small town, but for a police procedure it could be the local government or police force.

Step Four:  I get a third piece of paper, write down the character’s name and his/her goal at the top.  And then I list out all the things that might happen that would make achieving the goal or solving the problem a life or death proposition.  This one is harder than the rest because of the kind of books I write.  But I always find ideas when I do this.

When you’re finished with this exercise you will have more ideas on how to “raise the stakes” in your story, and add conflict, which is what people want to read.”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “‘…Maybe it is because it is our third visit or maybe it is because there are three of us, or maybe we had to work out the St Andrew thing before we were allowed to ascend, who knows?

Whatever the reasons, we re-convene on top of the man-made-conical-mound which hides behind the Church of St Nicholas, High Bradfield and Wen has an interesting take on proceedings.

“If St Andrew of Scotland is Andrew the Disciple of Christ then he may have come over here with Joseph of Arimathea.”

2. “Now, this may be a better topic for War of Nytefall: Ravenous, but I felt like I couldn’t risk forgetting it.  Spying and gathering intelligence is still very important in Eradication, especially when you see one of the big moves that Leo Kandrel makes.  In fact, the Dawn Fangs and their enemies have come to see that gathering information is more important than battles.  This is where the real struggle comes from since many events come down to who knows what and who learns of things first.  The side that pinpoints the location of the Fist of Durag could very well turn the tide of the slow-moving war.

Now, I’ve noticed about 6 types of spying that goes on in War of Nytefall.  It’s actually 3 to each side.  There is a 7th that I can’t talk about though because of spoilers.  Let’s leave that one alone and dive right into the methods.”

3. “A wild black stallion has cautiously watched a beautiful white mare, from the safety of the forest for many years. He longs to be with her, and ventures close to the barn nightly to communicate with her. They share their deepest desires and secrets. Now it is winter, and the rest of the wild herd has moved on, but the stallion stays. He cannot stand the thought of being so far away from her. The scent of sweet alfalfa hay and the enticing lure of the white mare is too much for him. He must find a way to be with her. But will it be worth the risk? Satin and Cinders is a story of courage and determination.”

4. were supposed to be in Scotland this week, revisiting a magical place. However, that cannot happen at the moment. As things are rather up in the air, I thought I’d revisit a past trip this week and share a bit of history from a past adventure… and a Yorkshire parish church with an awful lot of history:”

5. “If you’ve been following my reblogs of C. S. Boyack’s series on archetypes, you’ll really enjoy his Story Empire post today on Tricksters. What are they and how can writers use them to add surprising elements to their stories? Just head on over and check it out. You’ll be glad you did! Oh, and please don’t forget to share so others can learn more about archetypes, too. Thanks, and thanks to Craig for such an interesting and helpful post. 🙂

Some Things More Serious:

1. “his is the question I’m getting over and over again from my authors. COVID-19 has changed everything. How is this going to affect us? What’s going to happen to publishing?

The short answer is: Nobody knows. But there are a few truths we can point to.

First, people are going to continue to read. If you’re a writer, keep doing what you do, because we need you.

Second, publishing has already survived pandemics, recessions, the Great Depression, two world wars, the advent of television, the growth of the Internet, and the proliferation of ways to entertain ourselves. Publishing has changed with the times and will continue to do so. My best guess is that books will still be published and people will continue to read them.

In the short term, there may be fallout. Some independent bookstores, which have thankfully been doing well lately, might not survive. That would be a big loss. (You can help by supporting your local indie right now!)”

2. “We live in difficult times. You might be temporarily unemployed unless your work is the sort where you can telecommute. My husband falls into the “work from home” category. My brother does not. Like many others, he is mostly unemployed once again.

If you live in Washington State, you have some help available. They’re small, but better than nothing. Our governor immediately put our fallback resources in place, trying to help our struggling workers and our healthcare system.”

3. ““Every persons’ definition of happy may hold a different meaning. I feel it’s important that you recognize what that meaning is for you and once you have defined it, understand that it is up to you to walk toward it.

“It’s so very easy to blame those around us or circumstances we find ourselves in for our happiness. What we do not always realize is that we have control of nothing but our inner voice and a choice. A choice to make our lives more amazing than we thought possible.

“Your happiness depends on you, and while it may not always be clear or it may seem like a dark path to walk, when we realize the light comes from within, the search for it elsewhere is no longer required.”

4. you have an anxious child right now? Will they benefit from direct strategies to combat this feeling or will a subtle approach work better? This article provides both.

via 6 Ways to Help Anxious Children during Coronavirus — Behaviour101

5. “The Blank Page is a new weekly series on Novelty Revisions dedicated to any writer who is just beginning their journey or starting again after a long pause. Check back every Monday for more tips and inspiration.

Writing — and being a writer — is as fulfilling and worthwhile as it often sounds. There are downsides to every hobby and profession. Writing is also exhausting, sometimes overwhelming and frustrating. But that just makes the entire experience worth the occasional struggle.

Something that isn’t talked about enough is writing and its relation to socialization — mainly that you don’t always understand how lonely writing can be until you experience it firsthand.

It must be discouraging to finally dive into the hobby that could one day become your dream job, only to realize how isolating and lonely it can feel. Especially on days writing is more of a struggle and you wish you had someone to talk with about your frustrations.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:


2. “A highly illustrated middle-grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone

Ever since they can remember, fifth-graders Kenzie (aka Kenzilla) and Shelly (aka Bomb Shell) have dreamed of becoming roller derby superstars. When Austin’s city league introduces a brand-new junior league, the dynamic duo celebrates! But they’ll need to try out as a five-person team. Kenzie and Shelly have just one week to convince three other girls that roller derby is the coolest thing on wheels. But Kenzie starts to have second thoughts when Shelly starts acting like everyone’s best friend . . . Isn’t she supposed to be Kenzie’s best friend? And things get really awkward when Shelly recruits Kenzie’s neighbor (and secret crush!) for the team. With lots of humor and an authentic middle-grade voice, book one of this illustrated series follows Kenzie, Shelly, and the rest of the Derby Daredevils as they learn how to fall—and get back up again.”

3. “Gods, Dragons, a mercenary with a blade and no memory of his past…. The world of Tiamhaal is alight in war. Men ruled by kings slay their opposition in the name of their God, but there are others who claim the Gods are little more than scorned Dragons of ages past. Scar has come to find the truth, but is the truth an absolute certainty, or is it just the skewed memory of a forgotten kingdom?”



In need of some post-its?

What about printer paper? Pens?

What about an inspirational book to keep you company during your down time?

Or a good YA title?

Posted in blogs, Christian, Craft, fantasy, Historicals, horror, Indie, MG & YA, Music/playlists, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Paranormal, Reading, Romance, Short stories, traditional, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Book Talk 3/19/2020: What I'm Reading in YA Traci Kenworth

Image by Ronny Overhate from Pixabay

Book Talk 3/15/2020: What I’m Reading in YA

Traci Kenworth

I’m reading Kalona’s Fall: A House of Night novella by Kristin and P.C. Cast, Uglies by Scott Westerfield, So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer, Through The Nethergate by Robbie Cheadle, Chosen by Kiersten White, Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, Subject A36 by Teri Polen, The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith, The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, How to Write a Children’s Book by the Children’s Institute of Literature, Sightwitch by Susan Dennard, How to Write Kidlit by Mary Kole, and How to Write & Sell YA by K.L. Going.

How are you doing amid the crisis? Do you have all the supplies you need? Cleaning supplies: one, two, three, four, and five.

Baby supplies: one, two, three, and four.

Hygiene Care: one, two, three.

Pets: one and two.

Grooming: one and two.

Beauty: one.

Books: one, two, three, four, and five.

Art: one, two, three and four.

Music: one, two, and three.

Movies: one and two.

Thinking of starting your own website? Try Bluehost, link to left, WordPress, link to left, or Rubix, link to left. I use Bluehost and WordPress, they’re both easy and reliable. Then there’s Jetpack, link to the left, security for your website. Definitely use this!

Stay safe and peaceful! There’s a lot of craziness out there, don’t let it get to you, or worse, become you. Take a deep breath. Remember, we’re all in this together. Take care and God bless.

Posted in blogs, Craft, dark fantasy, fantasy, horror, Indie, MG & YA, Reading, traditional, writers, Writing and Poetry

Book Talk 2/26/2020: What I’m Reading in YA Traci Kenworth

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Book Talk 2/7/2020: What I’m Reading in YA

Traci Kenworth

Nefertiti’s Curse (a House of Night novella) by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast, Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard, Sightwitch by Susan Dennard, The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman, How to Write a Children’s Book from the Institute of Children’s Literature, The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith, The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco, Dark Alley by Mike Anka, Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I will shortly be adding to this list and hope to add, an arc by Robbie Cheadle. #reading #book #books #dark fantasy #fantasy #craft

Posted in blogs, Craft, Dystopian, fantasy, horror, Indie, Links, Links, MG & YA, Reading, SF, Short stories, traditional, Writing and Poetry

Five Links 2/26/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Five Links 2/8/2020

Traci Kenworth


1. “There are times when I need ten minutes of The Three Stooges. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve spent a long day writing some tough pages. Or you were bottled up in your cubicle at work, untangling your boss’s mess. Or maybe you were caught up in the latest news cycle, and you find yourself neck deep in the blues.

That’s what the Stooges are for. You don’t have to think. In fact thinking is precisely the wrong thing to do when watching the boys.

Now, I know the Stooges are not everyone’s comedic cup o’ noodles. Moe is often hard to take. Anything could set him off and get you a slap in the face or, worse, two fingers in the eyes. I had my run-ins with bullies as a kid, so Moe always made me uncomfortable (in real life, Moe Howard was a delightful man—who I met—and a great storyteller about the film business and the history of the Stooges).

But there is always Curly to save the day by giving us a nice, hearty belly laugh. (When Curly suffered a stroke in 1947, he was replaced by his and Moe’s real brother, Shemp. Most of my kid contemporaries didn’t like Shemp, but I did. While no one could ever replace Curly, Shemp is funny in his own way.)” Looking at these, I can see why in my earlier works they were so in-your-face. Awful. The staged dialogue bits just ring false.


3. I think everything can be done in moderation. Once you give in to your writing, you’ll want to spend more time doing that than doing some of the things you used to do such as internet, TV, etc.

4. “The start of the year is when I pay close attention to what is happening in our industry: what publishers and organizations are focusing on, the changes occurring on sales platforms, and what author advocates are suggesting writers pay attention to in order to succeed.

One of the big things I keep reading over and over is that 2020 will be a year where many authors will invest in tools and services to help them do more.”

So with that in mind, I have a roundup of resources that can help you be more productive and write stronger fiction, faster. Even better, they all have a free trial or version so you can test them out before investing, or they are a free resource altogether.

5. “By now, if you’re a writer or an aspiring writer, you’ve heard all the advice about what it takes to get your story down on paper. Write consistently, plow through a crappy first draft, toughen up and learn to take criticism and rejection, read a lot of other people’s books.

But people don’t talk as often about the weird-o things that keep the pages coming. When I wrote One Night Gone, my first novel, a suspense, cold-case mystery set in a beach town during the off-season, it was hard to find the time to write. I have a full-time job and an 8-year-old son, and I was a longtime editor of an online literary journal until very recently. Plus, you know, occasionally I like to sleep and watch a little TV or something. 

So I had to find the small stuff to help keep me motivated. Here are a few surprising things that worked for me.”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “For the first time ever, I’m turning Fantasy Author’s Handbook over to another author, and one who’s been dead for almost eighty-three years. Love him or hate him, H.P. Lovecraft is one of the undying masters of horror and dark fantasy fiction. This essay, apparently written in 1933 but first published in the May-June 1937 issue of Amateur Correspondent, draws back the covers on not just his reasons for writing horror fiction, but describes his process as well.  Though not as detailed or proscriptive as Lester Dent’s Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot, Lovecraft’s five-step process is certainly worth a look-see, and I’m going to try my hand at his method in the weeks ahead. I’ll let you know how that works out, but in the meantime, I give you, in its entirety…”


3. ““Crepuscular!” He was getting desperate now, having exhausted his list of the most obscure words. His face fell as I gave him the definition. He tried another and scowled… “How do you do that?”

“I read.” The words he dangled before me, trying to catch me out, may not be common in verbal usage, but they have cropped up often  enough in books to learn their meaning through meeting them in different contexts and from different angles. Except for unfamiliar technical terms, I don’t look up words when I read. It isn’t necessary to fully understand every word to experience a story… you need, instead, to enter fully into the tale and feel it as you read.  Over decades of reading, you encounter words in so many phrases that your understanding of their layers of meaning evolves and eventually becomes clear.

For me, that seems the best way to expand…”

4. “People often say they want to write a book. I used to say that too.

In 1985 I came across my first stumbling block on my path to becoming a writer. I didn’t know it, but to go from dreamer to storyteller is easy. Anyone can do it.

But if we choose to become an author, we’re taking a walk through an unknown landscape.

And the place where we go from dreamer to storyteller to author is the hardest part.

At first the path is gentle and easy to walk. As children, we invent stories and tell them to ourselves. As adults, we daydream about the stories we want to read, and we tell them to ourselves.

That part of the walk is easy. At some point, we become brave enough to sit down and put the story on paper.

The blank screen or paper is like an empty pond. All we have to do is add words, and the story will tell itself.

The first impedance that would-be authors come to on their way to filling the word-pond with words is a wide, deep river. It’s running high and fast with a flood of “what ifs” and partially visualized ideas.”


Some Things More Serious:



3. “What if we believed women? That’s the question at the heart of the new anthology Believe Me, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti which gathers together more than two-dozen leading voices on gender, power, and the most pressing issues shaping feminism today. Among them are Dahlia Lithwick and Moira Donegan, who came together for a conversation on the ways in which institutions are ill-equipped to address violence against women along with the systemic failures on display during the Kavanaugh hearings in 2018.


Dahlia Lithwick: Hi Moira. I loved your essay on the way early psychoanalysis failed to address women’s trauma but it also broke my heart a bit. The parallel narratives of Dr. Freud attempting to talk truthfully about women and sexual assault and then being forced to retract it to save his career, while Bertha Pappenheim had to save herself by escaping the world of men and building a life in feminist advocacy and organizing, feels all too contemporary to me; you can pass in a man’s world or you can be full throated in a woman’s world, but never dare to hope for more.

In my essay I tried to get at the ways in which the machinery of our ostensibly neutral justice system is propped up by the machinery of agents, lobbyists, pricey attorneys, and all the things that mean—to paraphrase our colleague Irin Carmon—that the system is in the room, toiling at great expense to press and defend the narrative you depict as “the rapist as an upstanding man, their memory of the past as happy or peaceful.” I wonder what you think about what happens when women in mainstream media are essentially forced to choose between Pappenheim’s lane and Freud’s? We can try to forge through the turgid he says/she says conventions, or we can try to invent new forms with which to do journalism. Are we making any headway, covering abuse and assault in the mainstream press? And are we taking care of ourselves as we do the work?”

4. “n a photo studio high above midtown Manhattan, five of the most accomplished new voices in young adult fiction have gathered. While getting glammed up, Tomi Adeyemi, Akwaeke Emezi, Elizabeth Acevedo, Angie Thomas, and Nic Stone chat about everything from preferred moisturizers to career updates, the latter of which there are several. Only yesterday, Emezi’s Pet was named a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature—a prize Acevedo nabbed the previous year with The Poet X. Stone was gearing up to release three new books (JackpotClean Getaway, and Shuri). Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, which reportedly landed her a seven-figure deal, was being adapted by Fox 2000/Lucasfilm. And Thomas’s The Hate U Give was holding strong at or near the top of the New York Times Young Adult Hardcover Best Sellers list (141 weeks and counting).”

5. “In a recent media interview (yes, I am that cool), I was asked if as a literary agent I liked saying “no.” I answered emphatically—even a bit rudely, I’m afraid, as I started my answer before my questioner finished asking. “I hate it,” I said. It’s a part of the job. In fact, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named sometimes answers the question, “Steve Laube, what do you do?” by saying, “I say no for a living.”

That’s close enough to the truth to sting. A lot. Way down deep. But no one—at this agency, at least—enjoys saying “no.” We do it a lot, but we hate it every time. Well, except for the one person who compared her proposed book to this Christian agent to E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

But otherwise, it’s no fun to say “no.” And, I know, it’s no fun to hear “no,” either. Believe me, I hear it far too often, both as an agent and as an author myself. But it makes a difference how you hear the word “no.” The temptation is to hear, “not you.” Or even “you stink.” Even, sometimes, “give up.” But none of those are helpful, and they’re far from accurate, in the vast majority of cases. How should you hear “no?” I suggest five ways:”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:


2. “Jamie had gone to bed as soon as the others had left and Merlin had followed shortly afterwards. He was still considering the problem of the barguest as he undressed and threw his clothes in a heap on the chair.

Not a pretty sight, Merlin! Must you look so old, dear one?”  Merlin made a lunge for a dressing gown to cover his nakedness, only to find an intruder sitting on it, employing very similar tactics to Heilyn’s sheep. He retreated behind the inadequate cover provided by a small towel and swore graphically.

“Aren’t you pleased to see me, dearest?” The lithe figure reclining on the bed stretched provocatively, trapping the dressing gown ever more firmly beneath her. Long black hair billowed across the bedspread in curling tendrils and the diaphanous gown left little doubt that most men would be very pleased to see her. Merlin bowed with considerable dignity, holding tightly to his towel.”




Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “I am visiting the lovely Sue Vincent‘s blog with a post about the Old Man of the Sea and how I wove this myth into a short paranormal story I wrote. Thank you, Sue, for hosting me.


In Greek Mythology, the Old Man of the Sea is the term used for several water-gods, purported to have existed since the beginning of time. The water-gods most often referred to in terms of this expression are Nereus, the eldest son of Gaia and her son, Pontus, and Proteus, a prophetic water-god whom was referred to as “Old Man of the Sea” by Homer. Triton, a Greek god of the sea and the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite; Pontus, an ancient, pre-Olympian sea-god and the fatherless son of Gaia; Phorcys or Phorcus, a primedial sea god and the son of Pontus and Gaia, and Glaucus, a Greek prophetic sea-god born mortal and turned immortal as a result of eating a magical herb, are also referred to using this expression.”

2. “Welcome to my new children’s book series which will run for February and March 2020. I have a wonderful selection of children’s books by both Indie and traditionally published authors lined up and will be sharing these posts on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

I have selected The Land of Far Beyond to review for this first post because it is my favourite children’s books. I remembered reading it, as a young girl, but it was a library book and I couldn’t remember the title or author. All I could remember was that it was a children’s version of The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. When my first son was born and I started buying all the books that had enchanted”

3. “It’s been a while since I’ve written a Monday Musings post, but there’s been something weighing on my mind that I want to share.

Being a published author is a huge gift. A dream come true. Seeing my book on the shelf at bookstores always puts a smile on my face. In truth, I have a very soft spot in my heart for bookstores. When I worked for a major book distributor in the late 90s, there was a huge dust-up after a major retailer wanted to handle all the company’s distribution in the U.S. This made dozens of stores, whom the company served, reach out in protest. The deal never went through, but after that incident many smaller bookstores began to close their doors. After that, I still insisted on spending my money at my local stores because I understood how important they were to my community.

In the mid-2010s, the small bookseller had a resurgence. This fact made me so happy. Finally, once again there was a local place where I could spend my dollars rather than a chain. Back then, I was just a reader and not a published writer yet.

Once my first book was published, I was excited to finally get to work hand-in-hand with some of my favorite bookstores around the country. But when it came time to approach some of those stores to do events, I was surprised by the rigorous requirements they required of a debut author. One store made me fill out a five-page application along with the reasonings why it was “in the store’s best interest” to host me. I painstakingly filled out all the paperwork, including adding another author to the mix so that we could draw a larger crowd. The event coordinator at the store did not respond to follow-up emails. When they finally did, it was with a terse one line reply that basically said “No thank you.” That’s a shame. I would hope local bookstores would be more welcoming to a debut author. Perhaps, it’s just the name they want.


What I know: a boy in my class will one day wipe out two-thirds of the population with a virus.

What I don’t know: who he is.

In a race against the clock, I not only have to figure out his identity, but I’ll have to outwit a voice from the future telling me to kill him. Because I’m starting to realize no one is telling the truth. But how can I play chess with someone who already knows the outcome of my every move? Someone so filled with malice they’ve lost all hope in humanity? Well, I’ll just have to find a way—because now they’ve drawn a target on the only boy I’ve ever loved…”


Posted in Craft, horror, Interviews, writers, Writing and Poetry

Let’s Talk with Matt Molgaard

Let’s Talk

Traci Kenworth


This is a new feature on the blog. Please welcome Matt Molgaard of Horror Novel Reviews. Matt is the author of The Belmont Brothers: Binds Part One; Horror Novel Reviews: Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss; My Hero, Peter Cushing; and his current novel, Say No to Drugs.


Matt, tell us a little bit about Horror Novel Reviews?

Well, we’re working hard to ensure that HNR is the go-to site for genre novel coverage. We’re all over the place handling news, reviews, release schedules, editorials. And we were able to branch out and begin publishing last year. To date we’ve released a trio of collections (When Red Snow Melts, One Hellacious Halloween and Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss) in addition to this new release, Say No to Drugs. We’re about to move into the poster field as well. I work with an amazing artist by the name of Dan Melby and he does anything and everything. We’ll be launching a new run of limited edition collectible posters that fans of horror novels and fans of horror movies are really going to love. 


What is it about the horror genre that draws you into writing for it?

Fear just riles me up. I love to be frightened. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading a book or watching a movie, or walking to the local Walgreens at midnight. I just love that sensation. Fear is very unique and it’s a nice reminder that we’re still alive. 


Who are your influences?

There are a lot of people who inspire me, I can tell you that. I always try to do my own thing, and close myself off to outside influences as much as possible when writing, but it’s impossible to completely eliminate the impact that work that people like Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling and HP Lovecraft were involved in. Those were true geniuses. You just don’t stumble upon minds like that everyday.  


What are some tips you’d recommend for today’s horror writer?

Always write as much as you can. It’s best to stay as disciplined as possible and make writing a serious habit. And it isn’t too hard to do that really. Once you’ve created something that you’re attached to, it’s pretty easy to really get on a comfortable schedule. There are a lot of things authors can do to create the best fiction they possibly can, and that’s a really big one, in my opinion.


Could you tell us about your writing process?

I’m extremely sporadic, and I always, always answer the call of my imagination. If I’ve got 15k words banked on a specific story, and I suddenly feel compelled to work on a completely different story, I’ll drop what I’m doing and move to the next thing. I’ll eventually make it back to what I was working on, but if it isn’t burning me up inside, and I’ve got something else that is, then that’s where I’m going to really invest my time and energies. Other than that, I try to approach every story from different angles. Sometimes I’ll plot everything out meticulously. Outlines, storyboards, five (if not more) drafts. And sometimes the stories fly by and I blow through everything with little premeditated thoughts or actual structuring of any sort. It’s always different for me, and it changes with each story and how the characters in those stories move me. 


What are some of your greatest fears? And how do you use them to enliven your writing?

Being powerless absolutely scares the hell out of me. That often manifests itself in my dreams, which are the inspiration for at least eight out of every 10 of the stories I write. 


What do you see as the future for the horror genre?

I don’t know. I’m hoping zombies finally die… really die. I can still handle the films and there are some good programs on TV. I still get a kick out of Robert Kirkman’s monster, The Walking Dead. But when it comes to zombie in novels I am absolutely shot. O’m just fried on them. That’s the only major swing I’d like to see in the genre at this point. As long as we continue to see awesome movies and novels hitting the market, I’m happy.


You’ve written in Fangoria, Horror Asylum, Relativity Media, and currently, Horror Novel Reviews. Is there any advice you offer those trying to write for the short story markets?

No matter what branch of this tree you want to walk on, you’ve got to be prepared to do serious work. Writing is a blast, but the moment you decide you’re going to take it seriously and look to make it a career, you’ve got to understand that it is work. It’s not just fun and games. It’s a job and it takes time and energy. You will not climb any mountains if you’re not prepared to work hard. 


Finally, I understand that Say No to Drugs is two stories in one volume. Can you tell us about each of them?

They’re both nods to vintage EC Comics, but they’re also cautionary in nature without (well, I hope) being too preachy. The Pot is the story of a few high school guys who just want to get high. Unfortunately doing drugs doesn’t come without a price and these characters run face first into that realization when they discover their drug dealer in a strange state. The second story in the book is called Blue, and it’s about severe drug abuse, intense hallucinations and all the wrong things that can happen to someone when they’ve pumped enough toxins into their body to numb an elephant. 


Here is an excerpt: of the book:

The door of Mrs. Macy’s classroom swung open, creaking on its rusted hinges. A cold draft blew in, accompanied by an uncharacteristically large plume of fog. Both propelled Jimmy Hanniger in the direction of the front of the class. He hadn’t given up on practicing miserable hygiene, it seemed. A rotten stench leaked from his every pore, trapped in the disintegrating fog, torturing all in its wake. The stink trailed behind him like a lost puppy in search of a new owner as he made the trek to his seat; giving way to sneers, turned heads and plugged noses. His dirty-blonde hair was in shambles, knotted and filthy, tangles overtaking his cranium. A smudge – of what looked like chocolate (but who the hell really knew?) – smeared the length of his left cheek. He wore the same Bob Dylan tee-shirt he’d worn the previous two days, and it didn’t seem as though he’d changed his jeans recently either. Both were covered in stains and riddled with holes, one of which, located in the crotch of his jeans, revealed glimpses of dingy white boxer shorts with each stride.


Perhaps he’d be a fashion genius, were it 1986 and the punk scene still thrived. Hell, he could have fit in quite well with the loser youth of the 1990s, or the rogues of the ‘70s. Today, he was sorely out of place.


He yawned, exposing a series of green teeth, dark tendrils snaked through his rotten gums. That was an orifice that had started heading south years ago, never to look back. Those dark green tones creeping through the gums were an obvious indicator of years of neglect. “What’s up, Mrs. Macy? What did I miss?” He shuffled onward, his left index finger reached for the concave of a nostril before – immediately – straying south to scratch at his crotch.


“A shower and a change of clothing, Mr. Hanniger,” Mrs. Macy’s frustration shone through her flush complexion.


He kept silent (save for a quick fart that summoned groans from the girls and laughter from the boys) as he crossed the room and slid lazily into his chair. Positioned directly to his right was Ray Waltz. Ray was the rebellious type. The leader of a small band of misfits who probably couldn’t put two and two together, if four consolation prizes were on the line. If a rule was made, Ray was there to break it – to Hell with everything else. He didn’t care for authority figures, and, while he was happy to use Jimmy for his resourcefulness when it came to obtaining weed, he didn’t particularly care for the kid. “You get all high before school again, dipshit,” Ray asked as Jimmy’s jiggly structure plopped into a seat two sizes too small for his husky frame.


Jimmy stifled a laugh and scratched at a beard that had yet to grow in. Not so much as a strand of peach fuzz peaked through his blemish (and chocolate, most likely) covered face. “If you only knew, Waltz. If you only fuckin’ knew.” This time he did laugh, which drew an immediate scowl from the teacher.


“Well, don’t be a fuckin’ prick. Cough some of that shit up.”


“Next shipment doesn’t come up until five. And I’m not sure you wanna flirt with this shit.”


“Boys!” Mrs. Macy’s voice rang out, the entire room overcome by sudden tension as she strode forward. “Are you finished?” Her gaze was piercing, boring a hole through both Ray and Jimmy, who opted to turn toward the nearest window and embrace the quiet of an early spring morning rather than engage in a war of words with their snarky teacher. Mrs. Macy shook her head violently before returning to the front of the room. A healthy stretch of first period expired before Ray reignited the conversation.


“Is your old man gonna be home? Should we hook up at the skate park, or what?”


“Ray… listen,” Jimmy leaned over and lowered his voice, “you might be a hard ass, but I’m tellin’ ya right now, ya can’t handle this shit. Just do yourself a favor and drop it. Wait till tomorrow when I get the KGB in. This stuff,” He said, pointing at his head with the same finger that had moments ago ventured deep into nasal passages before straying south of the border, “really… gets inside ya,” Jimmy’s eyes took on a strangely hardened edge, his pupils dilated. He shattered the suddenly eerie atmosphere as he let out a high pitched cackle.


An ice cold stare and a warning of a trip to the dean’s office led to another brief stretch of quasi-attentiveness.


“Handle what shit,” Terry Krager, one of Ray’s notorious cronies who sat in front of Jimmy had turned around after detecting a lull in Mrs. Macy’s observational habits. A devious grin crept across his freckle covered face. “You got some more of that smoka choka, dontcha buddy,” Terry poked at Jimmy, which garnered no response. “Well spit it out mother fucker, you got the chronic or what?”


“You guys think you want the chronic, huh?”


“Bitch, did we stutter,” Ray leered at the sad excuse for a human being who sat beside him, all patronizing grins, obnoxious odor, rolls of flab and tattered garments.


Kids like that always ended up in a gutter somewhere. No money, no friends… hell, no life.


“You get your fuckin’ money, and we get our fuckin’ weed. That’s always been the deal,” Ray hissed in frustration.


Then again, kids like that didn’t typically do too well either.


“That’s always been the deal,” Jimmy nodded in casual agreement.


“Look, we graduate in eight days. I wanna spend this last week partyin’ right. You know what I mean? So wadda ya say, you show up at the skate park around seven and we take care of business?”


“No can do, Ray.”


Terry let out a controlled chuckle, pointing at Ray, whispering harsh antagonism. “This piece of trailer trash is fuckin’ with you son! He’s fuckin’ with you! The junkie, makin’ you look like a junkie…. Ah man ain’t that funny business,” Terry had a way of pushing everyone’s buttons. If the slightest crack in the window of opportunity presented itself, he’d slide a snide joke right on through and watch it crawl inside you till you were ready to explode. Always the first to prod.


The trio cut their conversation short when Mrs. Macy advanced, a fearsome glower aimed in their direction, patience all but extinct. Her eyes always seemed to glow, a bright red burning away behind the surface; a furnace within the face of authority. A tirade of edited insults and a follow through threat (this time, technically, a promise) of a trip to the dean’s office spewed from lips wrinkled by years of long draws on Kools before she spun and headed for the front of the class once more.


Smoking did a hell of a job on that one. Take the chap-stick away and those lips sure look like an asshole, Terry thought as the teacher stormed away. He turned to Ray, crossed his eyes and made an unsettling puckering motion with his lips before quickly returning his attention to the front of the class.



I want to thank you for your time and being on Traci Kenworth: A Writer’s World. Good luck with your book and Horror Novel Reviews.

Thank you, Tracy. The pleasure was certainly mine!

Matt Molgaard





Posted in dark fantasy, fantasy, horror, writers, Writing and Poetry

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Short Story:


















Posted in dark fantasy, horror, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry

Horror Reveal

Horror Reveal

Traci Kenworth


Is it better to reveal the monster in the beginning all at once or to show glimpses as you go along? I prefer doing the snaps, the flashes that make the characters wonder: what’s out there? To tease the reader with your monster leads to a build-up that you must pay off in the end, each time the monster enters, you show a bit more than before. The teeth. The claws. The horrible, stinky breath. Each reveal getting a little closer and in-your-face. That’s how you build suspense, that’s how you make your reader gasp when the reveal happens.

When you go all out in the beginning, there’s no mystery, nothing to make the terror in your heart grow. Most horror writers know this and stick to this pattern. You don’t show the thing in the basement in scene one, but make the reader hear it, smell it, imagine it in their minds before you bring it on stage. It ups the ante, so to speak. So when, at last, that door opens and the thing creeps up behind the hero or heroine, we anticipate/shrink in fear/scream at what they see when they turn around.

What do you think? Show things up front, or take it slow?