Posted in a bit of seriousness, blogs, Craft, Family life, Links, Links, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

The Design of Genres by Traci Kenworth


The Design of Genres

Traci Kenworth

The design of genres is meant to showcase what each has to offer the reader as well as the writer. Each genre has its own set of expectations. Rules, if you like. You can follow them or break them to a degree but you’d better know the why behind each. It’s like when you begin that new book. You don’t expect to find a herring (mystery clue) in a romance, for example. And, if you do, you need to explain how that came to be.

Just like, if you set off in a train under a golden sunset and ended up awakening to a traveling wagon train in the 1800s, you might want to check what you know. Things like that don’t happen in the normal world. Ah, but in fiction, they do. It’s merely how you bring things about. You can take the straight path, or you can simply drive off the cliff.

That’s what excites readers: the unexpected. No, boring holes for them.  They have to be occupied by a hobbit. Or a village. That skyline on the horizon? It must be dotted with witches and their wyverns. Or even to bring it down to a normal world: something we haven’t seen before or at least, not on a usual basis, has to occur. It can be a St. Bernard on a hot day when we stop by to service our car with our son. Or the crest of a fin in the water.

Every genre relays its foundations on what’s gone before. And then stays on the same page or defers. No two stories are the same though. Even on a calm day, the same sidewalk can be shared by different people on their own adventure. One might be going to buy an orange kitten who loves the taste of lasagna. Another might be off to Scotland on a writer’s retreat and discover there’s more to the people and the land than its history.

Some writers groan about genres stifling them with boundaries. I say there are no boundaries, if you think about it. Dragons can be brought into any era. Aliens into any environment. Humans can walk among the stars or tread the depths of the oceans. Black holes puncture the atmosphere for a reason. You just have to figure out what that reason is. And make use of it.

Even if you’re in a “normal” world, there can still be frills. Not all bank robberies go according to plan. Construction sites get botched. Subways become a hazard. Maybe it’s the weather. Or just a villain that enters the fray. Anything can happen in any genre. You just have to use your imagination. Think about what would’ve happened if those children hadn’t explored that closet at their uncle’s house. No Terabithia.

If Harry hadn’t gone to Hogwarts, what would’ve ended up happening to the Wizard World? There’d be no Twilight if Bella hadn’t gone to Forks. But you say, it had to be that way. For that story, sure. But there are other stories. Other solutions. The boy doesn’t always get the girl. Unicorns exist somewhere. And fairies can be devious individuals. It’s all about perspective. The design of genres can take you anywhere from Walton’s Mountain to the moons of Alderaan.  

Happenings: This week I suffered through something I wonder if a lot of other disabled individuals do as well. That is, the feeling of being “useless.” Now, my daughter and son were quick to assure me it wasn’t true but I just felt like I couldn’t do the number of things I did say ten, or twenty years ago or even to the quality of such. My mobility has become a real issue for me and tbh, I have a secret fear of losing the loss of my legs or hands altogether. They sometimes feel so numb and unable to respond to what I want them to do. Anyway, I wondered if others shared these helpless emotions and worried about them? I mean, I don’t know where my life’s headed. I could end up in a nursing home in the future, unable to care for myself. I always thought that getting dementia or Alzheimer’s would be my greatest fear but now I wonder if it might not be, loss of mobility or even God forbid, amputation of limbs. Depending on someone would be very hard for me. I’ve had to depend on myself for so long, the idea seems preposterous. It’s odd the things we consider. I know I could still write. V.C. Andrews was very successful even though she was paralyzed. I’m sure there have been others. Even when I fall now, it’s hard for me to let someone help me up. I don’t know why accepting help stresses me. Unless it’s part of the PTSD I suffered for years.

Some links around the web I found interesting and you might as well:

  1. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/writing-insecure-characters/ All successful novels, no matter what genre, have one thing in common: emotion. It lies at the core of every character’s decision, action, and word, all of which drive the story. Without emotion, a character’s personal journey is pointless. Stakes cease to exist. The plot line becomes a dry riverbed of meaningless events that no reader will take time to read. Why? Because above all else, readers pick up a book to have an emotional experience. But they don’t want to be told how a character feels; they want to experience the emotion for themselves. To make this happen, we must ensure that our characters express their feelings in ways that are both recognizable and compelling to read. How we convey a character’s emotional state is vital to the reader’s experience. They don’t want to be bashed over the head with this information, nor do they appreciate clunky methods that jerk them out of the story. This is where show-don’t-tell comes into play. Show the character’s emotion through their natural responses to it, and readers will figure it out on their own. Use universal responses, and you’ll have the added benefit of readers connecting to the character through a sense of shared experience. I often think of the Writer’s Digest Book, “Open Your Veins.” It says a lot. Let that emotion bleed down on the page. Become the character until you’re done for the day and then pick up that yoke again the next and the next until you’ve got a book and edits begin.
  2. Life in the Realm of Fantasy https://conniejjasperson.com/2023/01/11/the-business-side-of-the-business-managing-inventory-writerlife/ Authors make readers when they do in-person book signings. We have the chance to connect with potential readers on a personal level, and they might buy a paper book. If we are personable and friendly, they might tell their friends how much they liked meeting us. Those friends will buy eBooks. (We hope!) Most shows and events will require you to have a business license if you intend to sell books in person. This means you will have a small amount of paperwork after each in-person signing, so I am revisiting a post from 2022 detailing how authors can manage an inventory of books and have the right numbers for tax purposes. For eBook sales, you have no obligation to report sales taxes, only your royalties as listed on the 1099 issued by Amazon or Draft2Digital, or other eBook sellers. Whether you are traditionally published or indie, if you intend to make personal appearances at local bookstores, fairs, or conventions, you will have an inventory of books on hand to manage and account for at the end of the year. But more importantly, even if you are traditionally published, you pay for the books you sell at shows. The good businessperson has a spreadsheet of some sort to account for this side of the business, as it will be part of your annual business tax report. An excellent method for assembling the information you will generate for your tax report is discussed the previous post, The Business Sequence for Writers. Ellen King Rice has given us a great framework for keeping our business records straight. This is an important part of the writing business. She simplifies what you might keep on file for your tax purposes, Indie or traditional.
  3. Robbie’s Inspiration https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2023/01/11/growing-bookworms-teaching-children-about-nature-and-conservation/ Teaching our children about the natural environment and conservation is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. There are a few good ways of making sharing about nature and conservation with children, as follows: Reading books about nature with your child; Exploring nature with your child; Art and play; and Watching documentaries Teaching young readers to read is close to my heart as my son struggled with reading at a young age and his school admitted that they failed to help him in this regard.
  4. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2023/01/the-importance-of-great-mentors-for-you-and-your-books/ All of us here at Writers In the Storm know that veteran-WITS contributor, Julie Glover, is both funny and wise. She and I were talking about the importance of mentors and she made this observation: “Being storytellers, we’re likely all fans of a good mentor. Where would Harry Potter be without Dumbledore? Wilbur without Charlotte? Peter Parker without Uncle Ben? Cinderella without her fairy godmother?” She’s got a great point. Even though it seems like the mentors always die or disappear in every genre except romance (where they get their own book in the series), we never forget a great mentor. I mean, come on…what would Star Wars be without Obi Wan, or Yoda? A lot of the ladies at YAFF taught me things I didn’t want to learn at first. As did my first few cps, Steve and Pat. They both taught me to love the story for the story and the YAFF ladies helped me to whip things into shape. I had some bad ones in between but that happens to everyone. I also had a lovely cp, Lisa, who helped me with my romances. I continue to work with Rebecca, Barb, and Pen on occasion.
  5. Tel Aviv Feral Cats https://telavivsferalcats.home.blog/2023/01/12/cute-feral-cat-with-huge-eyes/ It’s not easy to shoot a video of feral cats, but I was walking back from my brother’s apartment, which is maybe five minutes walk from my building, and there was this cat with extremely expressive eyes, and two cute kittens up on the windowsills, and I had to try. A lot of people don’t consider how those feral cats ended on the street: some careless person didn’t fix their pets and they multiplied and the results were carelessly tossed out. Ferals can be rehabilitated. I have a tiger cat that was on the streets till he was six months old.
  6. Story Empire Blog https://storyempire.com/2023/01/13/birth-order-and-character-development/ When we craft our characters, many of us include comments about their placement in the family. We attach traits we’ve experienced with siblings or others close to us. I will explore some of those traits in my posts over the next several months. Full disclosure, birth order theory is somewhat controversial because, in and of itself, it is not a determinant of someone’s personality. Many other factors include genetics, physical environment, gender, culture, family trauma, and much more. Still, birth order offers writers a tool for developing their characters. For that reason, in the next posts, I will focus on the traits of the (1) first-born, (2) the middle-born, (3) the last-born, and (4) the only child. I leave you with a curious detail. Per the research, if there’s an age difference of three or more years between siblings, the birth order restarts. Given this tidbit, each of my four children is an “only” child. Between my eldest and my next child, there are seven years. Then there are five years between the next, and three and a half years between the final two. No wonder I had my hands full, right? Just for fun consider these three sets of accomplished men and women: I definitely think birth order plays a part in who we are in life. I’m a second to the last child. I missed the middle by one. My oldest sister got most of the responsibility put on her shoulders all these years. I didn’t get away with a lot like some might think of a younger child. In fact, I was the first to go to college in my family then my older sister tried her hand. I respect her for trying to make her life better and not giving up on things. I’m a lot like that. I push for the things I want and don’t give up easily. I’m also more open to change than some in my family as I educated myself to think for myself in a lot of instances. Reading and writing, I think, allows you to accept unpopular opinions and come to respect other’s opinions on things.
  7. Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2023/01/13/blogtour-a-tale-of-two-princes-by-eric-geron-bookreview-romcom-lgbtq/ Will these long-lost twin princes be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations together—or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal mess? Edward Dinnissen, Crown Prince of Canada, loves getting the royal treatment at his exclusive Manhattan private school and living in a fancy mansion on Park Avenue. But despite living a royal life of luxury, Edward is unsure how to tell his parents, his expectant country, and his adoring fans that he’s gay. Billy Boone couldn’t be happier: he loves small-town life and his family’s Montana ranch, and his boyfriend is the cutest guy at Little Timber High. But this out-and-proud cowboy is finally admitting to himself that he feels destined for more . . .
    • When Edward and Billy meet by chance in New York City and discover that they are long-lost twins, their lives are forever changed. Will the twin princes—“twinces”— be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations together? Or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal disaster? This description sounded like a blend of Red, White, and Royal Blue (a pure delight) and The Parent Trap. Royal twins separated at birth? A Canadian monarchy? I was intrigued.
  8. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/sketch-comedy-%f0%9f%98%83-key-peele-cool-teacher-vs-class-clown/
  9. Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/angel-messages-jan-14-2023/
  10. Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/smorgasbord-public-relations-for-authors-recycled-part-two-author-biographies-tips-and-translations-by-sally-cronin/ With approximately 150 authors on the Smorgasbord bookshelf, I am in Amazon and Goodreads oftn checking for updated information new releases and reviews to share in the author features. In the upcoming series of Meet the Authors I will also be updating biographies to include and I am afraid that I have had to update quite a few myself with new books, or the numbers of books that have been written. My suggestions today are not carved in stone, and how you write your biography is entirely your decision. The one area that is key and seems to be echoed around the writing sites is the fact that a biography that is overlong will be overlooked. The biography is your advertisement that combined with your photograph is going to grab the attention of the potential reader who has landed on your author page. Last week I shared the fact that there are 20,000 new ebooks uploaded each week on Amazon that are in direct competition with your books. Provided you have listed your books with the genre or sub-genre, when searching for books a reader will be offered a selection to choose from. Hopefully that will land them on your book page or your Amazon Author Page.
  11. Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2023/01/14/enterprisemuseum-centralfloridawildlife-hugefun/ Off to visit with the good folks at Enterprise Museum today, to chat about two  of the more unusual critters which live here in Central Florida: opossums and armadillos. It’s been months since I was feeling well enough to give one of these presentations, and I’m looking forward to this one more than I can say! Especially since I’ll be talking about two animals which are so very interesting, yet so misunderstood. If you happen to be in the area, come on by and see exactly what I mean for yourself! The little restored 1930s schoolhouse is worth the trip all by itself!
  12. Myths of the Mirror https://mythsofthemirror.com/2023/01/14/weekend-blog-share-silent-pariah/
  13. Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2023/01/14/am-i-done-maybe/ My only goal today was to do some writing. I’ve previously mentioned that Once Upon a Time in the Swamp required a long denouement. My intent here was to wrap things up, but also provide a potential future for Mari. I have no intention of a sequel, but I want readers to know life goes on after her traumatic events. Today, I reached that point. Mari’s tale came in over 70,000 words, but that’s not real lengthy. I’m of the mind a story will be as long as it needs to be. I like the story, but there are always things to second guess about one. Time for that later. At some point, I’m going to have to spend some real money on cover art for all these stories. I think they’re worth the cost of good art, and that industry also needs a few patrons. In fact that gives me an idea for a possible Story Empire post in the future. It’s time for me to embrace the thing I hate most about these projects… editing. I have three finished books at this time. They are tentatively called: I’m in the same mess with three manuscripts in need of edits in my hands at the moment.
  14. John Howell https://johnwhowell.com/2023/01/14/the-last-drive-tour-with-dan-antion/

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 a bit of seriousness, blogs, Craft, Family life, humor & fun, John Howell, author, Links, Links, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Genre Sorts What We Write by Traci Kenworth


Genre Sorts What We Write

Traci Kenworth

Do you have a struggle to figure out what you’re writing? Let genre sort that out. What I mean is, instead of tearing at a piece to get the feel of it, mind what genre/s you have chosen to write in. Mystery? How about a cozy? Or a more traditional who-dun-it? Either one will shorten the time it takes to come up with a great idea to run with for the story.

Now, I hear you. That didn’t exactly tell you what to write. Well, I can’t give you a bare-bones-fits-all outline, but I can shave time off finding a story to run with in the days ahead. What do you like to read? That usually brings up a few promises. Narrow them down. Are you more sci-fi or fantasy? Get that outline ready to go with again, either more traditional or something new hatched up for the occasion.

Once you know what genre/s you prefer, you can outfit your story. I write in the YA category so there are endless possibilities to choose from there. You can have romance in your story. Mystery. A shade of horror. Or more if you want. Blending genres is also fun. I often write fantasy-horror or even sci-fi-horror. You can do this somewhat with the adult audience as well.

Want a romance? Historical or contemporary might intrigue you. You can weave in time travel if you like. Or bring on the pomp of the gilded ages. You see, coming up with the genre usually falls into something you like to read. Because if you don’t read that genre, you won’t know the structure and details of such a world.

Knowing what to expect in a genre doesn’t make the formula hard and fast. You won’t get bored from the staleness. Instead, you’ll find new boundaries to stretch and bring in something new and exciting with each. It’s not just a group of campers on Crystal Lake that intrigues us. It’s the story of each and how they survive or fall.

It’s the characters that do the hard work in a story. They have to make an impression, good or bad. If we’re willing to follow them down that hall, evade the killer, and win the day, that’s what makes a character grow on a reader. It instills fear of what might happen to that mother and child all the way out in an abandoned part of town when a dog goes mad.

Now, I’m not saying if you ever hit on a story outside your regular writing, you shouldn’t stretch your writing muscles. I’m just saying that when you’re starting out, getting to hit those marks, you want to consider what type of genre you like. Sticking close to home will teach you the basics. It will improve your skills before you move on. After all, Agatha Christie wasn’t famous for her characters sunny dispositions.

Happenings:

The Topiary meds they prescribed me have been doing a good job to take away a majority of the pain most of the time, thankfully. I feel better than in a long time and I’ve been able to do more. I’ve started walking a bit again. I’m almost ready for Christmas. I have a few more presents to buy. I’ll pick a day or two to do the wrapping of all that I have. How are you all doing on your plans? Enjoy your holidays!

Some links around the web you might like:

  1. Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2022/12/16/fairies-myths-magic-ii/ Let’s welcome a special guest to Entertaining Stories today. Coleen is a long-time friend and she has something to share with us today. This is her newest book baby, so feel free to use those sharing buttons. She also shares one heck of a great story hook. She also has a prize to be drawn from those who leave comments along her tour. *** Thank you, Craig for the opportunity to share the news of my new book, just in time for the winter solstice and Yule. Every Halloween, Craig joins me to celebrate the holiday. I think we’ve done this for eight years now, so I couldn’t think of anyone better to share my spooky Halloween tale with from Fairies, Myths, & Magic II, called The Changeling. In this second book in the series, I start with late autumn and work forward into winter and Yule. What do you know about the scary fairies? Celtic traditions share with us the fey, or Good Neighbors, are nothing to mess around with. During the darkness of autumn and into winter, the Unseelie Court of fairies makes its appearance. The darkness and lack of sunlight during this time of year spawned many a myth and tale. Here’s a short excerpt from The Changeling, in Fairies, Myths, & Magic II: “Alyssa, it’s time to come inside. Daddy’s home.” I read a book like this by Mary Downing Hahn. I don’t think they were called dark fairies though. Changelings, yes and it had to do with a witch. The book was twisty and turny just like I like.
  2. Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2022/12/16/booksforchristmas-boldblatantselfpromo-theemissary-review/ Looking for something different to read over the holidays? Check out my Emissary series of novellas. Available for download for just $1.99 each, or free with Kindle Unlimited. BLURB for TE1: An angel’s work is never done—that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.
  3. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2022/12/16/friday-inspiration-ryan-stevenson-ft-gabriel-real-eye-of-the-storm/ Such powerful poems!
  4. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2022/12/fear-thesaurus-entry-being-physically-touched/ While many people are sensitive to physical contact, an actual fear of being touched can lead to a host of difficulties. It can come about from a past trauma, learned experiences (through growing up in a family where touch was discouraged or punished), a physical sensitivity, or a mental health condition, to name just a few possible causes. What It Looks Like Backing away from handshakes, kisses, or other cultural greetings Sticking to the fringes of crowds Avoiding romantic relationships Not eating certain foods due to their texture Not participating in contact sports, dancing, and other activities that require touch Difficulty making new friends Only being able to wear certain kinds of clothing that don’t chafe or irritate the skin The character keeping their hands in their pockets I can’t imagine this fear. It must be so overwhelming to live with throughout your day.
  5. Annette Rochelle Aben https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2022/12/17/angel-messages-dec-17-2022/
  6. John Howell.com https://johnwhowell.com/2022/12/16/friday-johnku-aka-tgif-fri-yay-good-news-29/ End-of-year bonuses are always a welcomed sight, but these smiles bear witness to an extraordinary act of corporate generosity. Ruppert Landscaping gave bonuses of between $7,000 to $200,000 to all employees with a tenure of over one year “as a thanks for the role they’ve played in the company’s growth and development.” A total of 1,200 workers, excluding those in top leadership positions, received the enormous thank you presents which added up to be $28 million. The company says normal end-of-year bonuses were not deducted or altered by the gifts, which were announced at staff meetings, nor were any of the other benefits, which include 401(K) matching, health insurance, paid time off, and holidays. “Everyone receiving this bonus was instrumental in helping create the value that we’ve been able to realize,” said CEO Craig Ruppert. “This bonus is money that is well-deserved and a way for us to acknowledge the value of our teams’ contributions and the essential role that they will play in our company’s future.”
  7. This is Horror https://www.thisishorror.co.uk/news-round-up-week-ending-16-december-2022/ Monsters and monster-killers come in all shapes and sizes in this collection of three horror novellas by Glenn Rolfe, Tom Deady, and Nick Kolakowski. In ‘It Came From The Lake’ by Glenn Rolfe, Owens Lake is protected by a reclusive war vet by the name of Francis Owens, but this man is not the only threat around. In ‘In The Glastenbury Woods’ by Tom Deady, It was supposed to be the road trip to end all road trips. The summer of 1986, a few weeks before Dave and his two friends went their separate ways to college and the military. One last hurrah to Toronto to see Hulk Hogan and the rest of the WWF in The Big Event. It all goes wrong when they take a detour through Vermont’s notorious Glastenbury Woods. In ‘Groundhog Slay’ by Nick Kolakowski, It’s the summer of 1987. Around Lake Legionnaire, locals whisper tales of an unstoppable monster rampaging through the night, killing everyone in its way. But what if the monster’s just trying to stop something far worse—a threat that could destroy all existence? Available now in paperback and eBook editions, you can grab your copy here.
  8. AC Flory https://acflory.wordpress.com/2022/12/18/theres-no-such-thing-as-them-theres-only-us/ If you watch only one video today, please, make it this one:
  9. Smorgasbord Magzine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/12/18/smorgasbord-christmas-book-fair-new-book-on-the-shelves-memoir-fifteen-first-times-beginnings-a-collection-of-indelible-firsts-by-d-g-kaye/ This book is a collection of stories about some of Kaye’s first-time experiences with life’s most natural events. Told through the intimate conversational writing we’ve come to know from this author, poignant personal steppingstones to learning moments are revealed. She encompasses the heart of each matter with sincerity and sprinkled inflections of humor. From first kiss to first car to walking in the desert with four-inch heels, Kaye’s short coming-of-age stories take us through her awakenings and important moments of growth, often without warning. Some good and some not, life lessons are learned through trial and error, winging it and navigating by the seat of her pants. Editorial Review: D.G. Kaye writes with heartfelt regard and unabashed honesty. The life experiences she shares in Fifteen First Times evoke tears as well as laughter. Kaye’s candor and compassion will no doubt appeal to and help many seeking to grow and come into their own. I highly recommend this book and all others by this forthright author. The reader will be left with an ardent desire for more. ~ Author, Tina Frisco
  10. Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2022/12/18/3-action-reaction-misfires-that-flatten-your-writing-by-lisa-poisso/ Cause and effect. Stimulus and response. Action and reaction. Everything in a story depends on what the characters do about whatever the story pushes them up against. Stiff, disconnected, or missing character reactions snap the chain of cause and effect that constitutes your story. When readers can no longer see how and why the characters are doing what they’re doing, they lose the thread. She’s got good points here.
  11. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2022/12/welcome-to-the-future-part-3/ Story is core to the human experience and is a fundamental part of how we communicate. People who are unhappy in their day-to-day existence like to escape into a world of story, and that trend has not gone away. While sales trends show a decline in print, the digital reading trends show readers want to be even more immersed in a story than ever before. Readers love it when their favorite authors allow the story to grow and bring them into it. How we Interact with Story is Changing Have you noticed “dark mode” on your devices? I read a fascinating article about holographic technology. In some ways, dark mode is a gateway to preparing our technology for holographic displays. Important Geek note: WordPress and other websites are using “blocks” in their design so they can control the way different types of words — think headings, paragraphs, pull quotes — display, preparing for this transition. You want to be using the latest technology in your website designs and in your writing. You want your writing to be stored in such a way that readers can use it in this future technology. TBH, not sure how I feel about this. Yes, I know. The future is advancing. I like to play around with ideas on my own. But then, new tech is harder for me to learn these days. I suppose it always will be and one day I just won’t be able to anymore. I’ll rant against the AI wall when I’m ready, I suppose.
  12. Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/12/19/smorgasbord-christmas-book-fair-new-book-on-the-shelves-supernatural-adventure-the-last-drive-by-john-w-howell/ In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing. The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey takes the pair to horrifying testing grounds. The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943. This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good. I’m trying not to read this as I haven’t been able to read the first one yet and don’t want spoiled.
  13. Rosie Amber https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2022/12/19/%f0%9f%8e%84two-historicalromance-christmas-novellas-rosies-bookreview-of-under-the-mistletoe-by-margueritekaye-and-bronwynscott/ Under The Mistletoe is a book containing two historical Christmas romance novellas written by Marguerite Kaye and Bronwyn Scott. Each novella can be read as a stand-alone, but they are also connected to series by the authors, individually.
  14. Story Empire https://storyempire.com/2022/12/19/mktg-22-wrap-up/ Greetings, SE’ers. It’s Jan again. Since July 2021, I have explored a variety of different avenues of book marketing opportunities, and I’ve come to the end of that journey. This is my last Story Empire post for 2022 and my last book marketing post. That’s not to say I won’t pop back in with something new if it comes to my attention, but for now, I’m leaving the subject of marketing behind.
Posted in blogs, Craft, Family life, John Howell, author, Links, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry

Beauty, It’s All in the Lash by Traci Kenworth


Beauty: It’s All in the Lash

Traci Kenworth

What makes the eyes so central to the makeup? I would suggest, that’s it’s all in the lashes. Such tiny, exquisite hairs that frame the eye. They can be muted with no makeup at all, or they can shine like the lenses they are to the eye. It’s like your main character. They can be less than stellar in their existence, or they can pack a punch. You want the later when it comes to fiction.

You want someone who will be noticed. Who can hold the world’s attention. Someone who draws us in. That makes us read on page after page. No shrinking violets, no overblown dragons. The trick is to get the reader to like the character or at least, be interested in what they have to say and do. Once they care, they’ll read on and judge the story through the protagonist’s gaze.

How do we do that? Time and effort. I used to think writing was easy. That it just came to you. And it does. But you have to work to make that little puff of magic into a story. You have to dig deeper and deeper to bring those characters to life. At first, they may look just fine. Fine doesn’t win readers though, they want superstar.

How do you manage when you don’t know the first thing about being the center of attention? You draw on the moments you were and make them bigger for the character. You make them the homecoming queen, the star quarterback. Or you bring the ordinary into the spotlight. What makes a character shine? Their connection to the reader.

Without a reader, there’d be no life brought to the story. The reader brings the actor to life on the page much like an actor brings the character to life on the stage or movie set. We need both to interact with the story, to find a foothold into that reality. It’s like an invisible projector springs to life inside us and plays what’s happening on that page before us.

Connecting with one another is hard a lot of times. We each have our own share of burdens. Our own, different loved ones. We may wish it were otherwise. That we all had more in common. The truth is, we’re never going to all be alike. But what we can do is to each find something within those characters to like, to find decent, or curious and so discover a way to tag along on their journey.

Yes, beauty is all in the lash. Like the focal point of the story is the character. He or she sees everything, hears everything, and embraces everything in their own way. No two of us are alike. It shouldn’t be that way for characters either if we want authenticity. We are who we are until we become something more. But that’s a character arc, something down the road maybe. Have a great week all and God bless!

Happenings:

Monday, I go see the neurolgist. It seems like it’s taken forever to get here. In other news, I’m continuing to submit short stories to markets. Mostly, set in my book’s world. I’m getting good feedback but so far, no acceptance. I’ve been drawing in the new details of my world and finalizing some bits. It’s been helpful to see some confusing things that didn’t add up in the other versions.

Some links around the webs you might find interesting:

  1. Charles French https://jenniefitzkee.com/2022/11/27/my-teacher-lightbulb-moment-part-2/ Once I had my Lightbulb Moment, my teaching world turned upside down.  Children came first.  What they were interested in, who they were as children/people mattered most.  I needed to get to know them better.I started to use a tape recorder to “interview” children, as this not only helped me to get to know them, but also was a good tool for language development (and it was fun).  Our curriculum at that time was France and learning about the old masters in art.  Young children love to paint, and they were practicing being artists with real palettes.  I was learning so much about them, why not have the children do an autobiography to accompany their work of art?  And, why not have the children name their work of art, and call it a ‘masterpiece’?  The result was so profound that we had an art show at school, and then moved the art show to our local post office for the community to enjoy.  What a success, and what a wonderful experience for the children.  Our art show has since become a yearly event in the community. I think this goes a long way to show what special teachers mean to our children.
  2. Smorgasboard Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/12/03/smorgasbord-christmas-book-fair-2022-new-book-on-the-shelves-childrens-the-christmas-bird-by-robbie-cheadle/ About the story. The Deanne family is having a difficult time financially. Mr. Deanne’s business has failed and there is no money for Christmas presents and other luxuries. The family’s undernourished dogs discover a bird’s nest on Christmas Day and attack and kill the chicks. All except one tiny ball of fluff with luminous bright eyes like drops of oil. The baby bird is in shock, but the four Deanne girls try to save it. Will the Christmas Bird survive? One of the early reviews for the book D.L. Finn 4.0 out of 5 stars I love how the family took in this tiny chick. Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2022 The Deanne family was short on funds at Christmas time. They made the best of it until their hungry dogs found a bird’s nest and ate all but one baby chick. The family rescued the baby chick and set out to save it. I love the family’s selflessness as they put the bird’s needs above theirs. It was a good lesson that giving of yourself is much more important than material possessions. This heartwarming story is perfect for sharing with a child or for beginning readers 
  3. Annette Rochelle Aben https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2022/12/04/angel-messages-dec-4-2022/#like-22673 Love these angel messages!
  4. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2022/12/creating-bonus-content-to-double-your-reader-engagement/ Book marketing and promotion can feel like a full-time job, and not one that’s always easy to excel at. That’s because effective promotion takes consistency and creativity, and it’s challenging to not only stay on schedule, but to continually come up with new ideas. So that’s why I’m a huge proponent of tapping into what you already know, which is your work, by creating bonus content and using it to bolster your book marketing efforts. Especially when you’re trying to be mindful of your budget if you’re taking the DIY route. Or when you’re looking for ways to support the work you hired a marketing team to do. Creating and using bonus content is a fabulous way to contribute to the success of a professional marketing campaign! And the reason I recommend bonus content so enthusiastically is because in many cases, authors already have everything they need to make this strategy work. So let’s dig into some ideas for promoting a book and enhancing reader engagement using bonus content!
  5. Roberta Writes https://roberta-writes.com/2022/12/06/roberta-writes-book-review-letting-go-the-defiant-sisters-duet-book-1-by-jacquie-biggar-bookreview-readingcommunity/ A coming-of-age novel about the pain of misconceptions and learning from them. When life gives you lemons… Izzy Mom is barely in the grave and the prodigal child is here to pick the bones clean. I don’t want her here. My sister’s defection is a wound that won’t heal, and her return simply rubs at the scabs covering my heart. I’ve managed just fine without her. She can go back to her fancy college and forget about us- that’s what she does best anyway. If only I didn’t need her help. Or miss her so much. Renee The day my dad committed suicide I ran. I’ve been running ever since. Going home is supposed to be the answer. Instead, it makes me question every thoughtless decision I’ve made.
  6. Myths of the Mirror https://mythsofthemirror.com/2022/12/06/november-book-reviews-part-two/ Wishing you all a wonderful winter as we head toward the solstice and the return of the light. I’m finishing off autumn with more books and reviews from November! I hope you find a few to enjoy over the holidays. To all my blogger friends in the southern hemisphere… have a wonderful start to your summer, and I hope you find some beach reads! November’s reviews (part two) include my 4 and 5-star reads of a romance/thriller mash-up, paranormal short stories, fantasy, and a children’s book.
  7. ACFlory https://acflory.wordpress.com/2022/12/07/i-hate-december/ I was going to say “I hate Christmas!” but that’s not completely true. It’s not so much that I hate Christmas, it’s that I hate the lead up to Christmas, especially this year. December in Australia is the first month of summer, and summer means bushfires and snakes [we’ve seen two already]. In normal years I would have spent most of spring mowing a little bit every day. We’re on 1.6 hectares, and that equates to a lot of grass. The alpacas do their best, but in spring they can’t eat the new grass fast enough, and once the grass sets seed they won’t touch it. So that’s in a normal year – a little bit of mowing spread out over a couple of months. This year has been different though. Australia is experiencing its third La Nina event in a row which has meant rain, rain and more rain. All that rain has triggered unprecedented floods all along the eastern seaboard with lives lost, crops lost and whole towns inundated. We don’t have to worry about floods here in Warrandyte as we’re on a ridge, but all that rain means the grass grows an inch over night. And it’s too wet to mow during the day, especially with a small, cordless lawnmower. In desperation, I paid for a guy to come in and whipper snipper1 the worst of it, but that’s left sheaths of grass drying on the ground. Exhibit A:
  8. Connie J Jasperson https://conniejjasperson.com/2022/12/07/pinning-down-the-themes-when-your-characters-have-agency-amwriting/ My writing mind has temporarily lost momentum in my current work. At this point, I’m unsure how to proceed with a pivotal chapter. This has me momentarily stalled on that book. Fortunately, Irene is editing the final draft of a book I finished during lockdown. She sends me one or two chapters with notes for final revisions each evening. That makes me happy—it’s been a while since I published a book. When I am stalled on a first draft, it helps to stop and consider the central themes. Theme is one of the elements that drive a plot. This novel’s central theme is redemption, which hasn’t changed. But this novel is in the first draft stage, and things have already shifted from what was initially plotted. And now I find that some of my characters aren’t as well-planned as I thought they were. This happens at some point in every first draft. I don’t know the themes of three important characters. I was under the impression that I was the only writer who took longer than a year to get my story together and then go back in for edits.
  9. Annette Rochelle Aben https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2022/12/08/angel-messages-dec-8-2022/
  10. Smorgasboard Blog Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/12/08/smorgasbord-christmas-book-fair-2022-childrensbooks-fantasy-jemima-pett-ya-travel-darlene-foster-bathtime-sue-wickstead/ About the book In north-west Mull, three guinea pig friends live in a remote castle. Tale no.1: Dylan’s life is in danger when he discovers something brewing in the hillside. Tale 2: Deirdre uses her initiative to find Dylan when he is washed into the sea. Tale 3: Dougall gets into trouble when he makes friends with a reindeer. Tale 4: Dylan is tempted by some mysterious lights. Fantasy adventures for age 8+ A review for the book Chris Graham5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful easy to read short stories. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 May 2021 Having read the Princelings of the East Series, it was a delight to read about the earlier adventures of Dylan, Dougall and Deirdre on their Scottish Island. I wish there were more such tales to be had.  
  11. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2022/12/writing-spies-honeypots-and-the-honey-trap/ Honeypots are spies trained to use sex for the purpose of wheedling information out of targets, luring targets to specific locations, and/or enticing targets into behavior that can be used to blackmail them. These professionals are highly skilled in the arts of seduction and pleasure, and they will perform literally any act the target desires. While many of them work directly for governments, like Holmes’s dates did during the Cold War, they are sometimes prostitutes working with a pimp who uses them to gather information in order to sell it to the highest bidder, or several bidders. Whether they are official government agents or freelancers, honeypots are one of the most effective tools of the espionage profession. Honeypot Myths One of the most common myths about honeypots in fiction is that of the Honeypot Assassin—the seductress who murders her mark in the name of espionage. It’s not that it never happens in real life, but it pretty much doesn’t happen on purpose. This goes back to the fact that most people aren’t black widow spiders. As a general rule, we humans like to keep our killing and our sex compartmentalized far away from each other. The seductive love-kitten personality and the assassin personality are fundamentally different from each other—a rather universal fact that even the Soviets recognized. For example, the assassin will likely balk at the simple act of surrendering their hair to a barber for a trim. Honeypots, on the other hand, must freely surrender their entire bodies to total strangers.
  12. Rosie Amber https://rosieamber.wordpress.com/2022/12/09/%f0%9f%93%9afeaturing-a-very-talented-witch-rosies-bookreview-of-paranormalromance-entwined-within-the-darkness-by-charley-black/ Patience is a talented witch who knows very little about her past. She shares a flat with her best friend Michael, a half-demon, and she works in a wonderful magical bookshop. On a night out, Patience and Michael go to a Vampire club. Passion and death threats result; Michael bonds with his vampire lover but locks the duo in a dangerous coma. Meanwhile, Patience and Lucius, an infamous witch-hunter, must join forces to save Michael and his mate. What I liked: I liked Patience’s witch skills and particularly the bookshop where she worked. I enjoyed the worlds created and the general plot. There were several secondary characters who were also well written and likeable. The first third of the story was very enjoyable. What I didn’t like so much: After the first third the story felt a little rushed, a lot more characters were introduced, but they weren’t as rounded as the initial ones. As the story progressed, I felt that Patience lost some of her original finesse as a talented witch while the sexual tug-of-war between her and Lucius became predictable. The ending was odd; I felt that the plot twist did not quite gel with the rest of the storyline.
  13. Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2022/12/09/a-quick-tip-for-getting-to-know-your-characters-and-your-plot-by-janice-hardy/ Several years ago I sat in on an RWA workshop on character building, led by romance author Susan Elizabeth Philips. I’ve attended her workshops before and she’s always been entertaining and informative. She gave a tip (and did an exercise) that I’ve tried before: This has never worked for me since my fantasy characters don’t usually have purses, but she added the phrase “or their backpack or pockets” to it. That broadened it some, and I realized that ultimately, what she was saying was:
  14. John Howell https://johnwhowell.com/2022/12/08/thursday-a-little-personal-twiggy-and-lucy-in-the-warm-again/ “What do you suppose happened out here?” “Looks like the trees have finally let go of their leaves.”
Posted in a bit of seriousness, Colleen's Weekly Poetry Challenge, Family life, Uncategorized, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Beauty and the Person by Traci Kenworth


Beauty and the Person

Traci Kenworth

Beauty touches every human being whether we realize it or not. Oh, not the makeup but the part of us that shines within our souls. There, we’re all unique. Growing up, I spent a lot of time running from who I was. I was convinced if I could just find the right concealer, the right lipstick everything in my life would change. Nowadays, I don’t usually wear much makeup. Instead, I hope that who I am emerges through it all.

Pieces of the same girl remain but not the whole. I’ve lost fragments here and there. Everybody does. It doesn’t matter if you have freckles, braces, or a big lump on your face. You’re still you. Still loveable. It took me a long while to realize this, to believe it. They’re right when they say that some people’s heart blares through in opportunities presented to them. Those are the real heroes. The ones that can reach out to the hurting, the vulnerable.

The essence of who we are, what we’re willing to give to make ours and others lives better begins to develop when we’re just a small child. We learn certain responses get us rewards. It’s not until we break free from what’s expected of us however, that we truly develop our individuality. Who we’ll become is important because when it’s all said and done, what you make of yourself inside that soul is what counts.

We want people to be proud of us. Sometimes, that happens easily. More often, it takes work. Even a person so far gone from the grid can turn their lives around. It might take a lot of time and more road than we have, but you can get there. I’m not proud of all the decisions I made in my life, but I stand by who I am and the two children I raised. They gave me a better future because they made me fight to find that truth, that hope inside myself.

Just the other day, I saw the truly awfulness we can be inside an old lady at the store when she thought I’d cut in front of her in line. I’d been waiting over twenty minutes for my meds, and they called me. She considered me a bastard among other things, shaking her fist and flipping me off without even letting me explain. I have never been confronted by an older person like that before. Oh, I’ve seen mean, yes but not such hatred. I don’t know why it was there, only that it shocked me. And that she could get others behind her in a place that wasn’t even the line to attack me as well, I just know that that isn’t how I want to live.

All pruned up and ready to assault another person because I think they’ve offended me. I was in the process of having my order stapled up when she started her rant, and I heard them call for security. I took my order and headed out, wishing her a good day. It was hard to say that after everything she’d said to me. It reminded me of my past and other times I’ve run up on such cruelty. You never see it coming. It’s like kicking a dog. That poor animal doesn’t even realize what they’ve done to harm you. They don’t get it. Don’t live like that, please. It’s not good for anybody. Least of all, yourself.

Put your good into everything you do. It’ll win you peace. Not to mention, less wrinkles. Why are we so concerned with the outside of our person when it’s the inside that houses who we are? We store our love there to be showered on others. We hold on to the wisdom we’ve learned, the fun we were offered. Life is meant to share there not bottle it up. When we stop giving a piece of ourselves to those around us, we start to die, I think.

We’re not meant to be hermits, left to our own devices. That’s what makes me so sad when elderly people are shut off from their loved ones later in life. We all need each other to stay alive, to hope, to find a reason to go on. It’s easy to give up when you think no one cares any longer. There’s nothing to bring you back. Don’t exclude anybody from gatherings if you can help it. You just might change a life, open their heart. They might’ve been kept from others for so long they forgot what it was like. How to participate.

That goes for younger participants as well. You never know what teenager is isolated and needs to be drawn back into the fold, to feel someone cares. They might be getting less and less from the emotional stage of their time in school, in sports, whatever. A job they took might not be working out. Dreams they have might’ve been put on hold for financial reasons. Find a way to make them believe again, to make them soar.

It’ll come back to you tenfold. All this time we’re here on Earth could be used for something better. To help others. To bring them back to life, to spark their dreams again. It’s never too late for anyone. It just takes a helping hand. That reaching out and bringing things back to the beauty and person inside themselves. We’ve all got a reason for being a reason to go on. It’s in that face next to you, in that hand you hold. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Live. Rejoice. And let those dreams grow. You won’t regret it, and neither will they.

Some products that you might like. I may receive a small compensation from the seller.

Some blog posts you might like:

Enjoy your Labor Day, everyone! God bless!
Posted in blogs, Craft, Family life, humor & fun, Links, Links, MG & YA, Muse, Reading, Uncategorized, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

Finding the Inner Truth/Beauty in Yourself by Traci Kenworth


Finding the Inner Truth/Beauty in Yourself

Traci Kenworth

The taunts and cruelty growing up can cause you to lose faith in yourself. To not want to be who you are. Anything special, anything unique, you work to do away with. Because that would make you different. And different is bad. Or at least, that seems to be what we’re taught. Keep the formation. Don’t step out of line. Dream these dreams, not those.

It can be a daunting reality for a lot of kids. If there’s one thing, I think school’s get wrong: it’s that. We’re not all meant to be put in a binder together. We’re not all meant to follow the same path despite how much easier it would be for the higher-ups. Being different is good. It brings other perspectives to the table. It can show us a path forward in life that we should’ve taken all along.

So, what do you do years down the road when you look back with regret at some of the things you wish you’d done but didn’t? Dreams have a way of passing us by if we don’t grip them hard and run with them. Things change though. Sometimes due to finances, sometimes to personal problems. Or through no fault of our own. We wake up one day and look back and wonder if we’d chosen a different way, where we’d be.

We can wonder and wish all we want. The fact is life happens. That career we wanted since we were old enough to decide, didn’t pan out. The marriage we hoped for fell apart. A lot of times I think it has to do with letting other people’s perspectives influence our own. We don’t think we’re good at something, so we turn aside. If we’d stuck it out longer maybe the pegs would’ve lined up.

Still, there’s always a new start. One day you might decide to go back to one of those dreams, make a living at it. You could ignore all the naysayers and just do what’s best for you. After all, no one has to live your life but you. No one has to decide what you will be, what you will find. Uncovering that inner beauty of something we’ve always wanted to do takes time.

It doesn’t shortchange us. We weren’t supposed to pursue the path before that moment for whatever reason. It doesn’t make it wrong or silly to try and recover the dream. It makes us fulfill a promise to ourselves maybe. We let our children grow and now it’s time to rediscover something for our benefit. Maybe you always wanted that mechanic shop. Or a trip to Europe. You can do so at a later date. Nothing wrong with that.

In your pursuit of dreams, things get overturned. When you’re young, it seems you have all the time in the world. All the energy. All the faith. As the day ages, you lose some of that enthusiasm. There are those sent to talk you out of an idea for whatever reason. Holding true to what you want and believe takes a lot of determination. It takes a lot of perseverance, but you can do what you set your mind to.

Only you can hold you back when it comes down to it. You promise yourself one day. Well, one day has arrived. Dig down deep and find that core, that strength that was always there. Waiting. Find the foundation, discover the new road. Life can be anything you want it to be. Sure, you might be starting down the end road in life. Your finances might not be where you want them to be. A few kids, a few grandkids later might seem like time to retire.

Don’t give up on yourself. Take that moment. Pursue that dream. And find the inner beauty within, that truth that was always meant to be. Have a great week, take care, God bless.

Some products you may be interested in. I may receive a small compensation for the advertising from the seller.

Some blogs around the web you may enjoy:

Come swim with me in Jupiter’s moons,

roam the red rolling hills of Mars

come back to rest against blue earth.

Welcome to a repeat of the series from Carol Taylor, the wonderful Culinary A – Z and a reminder, not only of the amazing variety of food we have available to us today from around the world, but delicious recipes to showcase them. Carol also introduces to cooking methods and kitchen equipment that assist in creating meals for all occasions.

Welcome today it’s the letter D …I have some exotic fruits for you and some lovely recipes I hope you enjoy!

  • Chris the Story Reading Ape: The Teritary Principles of Plot: https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2022/08/03/the-tertiary-principles-of-plot-plans-gaps-crises-by-september-fawkes/ In storytelling, the primary principles of plot include goal, antagonist, conflict, and consequences. You can’t have a great plot without those elements first. The secondary principles of plot build directly off the primary, and they include progress, setbacks, costs, and turning points. As you likely guessed, the tertiary principles build off the prior two sets, and they include plans, gaps, and crises. Chris, always has such interesting posts! Check this out!
  • John Howell.com: https://johnwhowell.com/2022/08/02/30535/ In Keith’s words. “Using this photo (below) as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph (If you are curious about what we were photographing, it was the sun beginning to set over one of the domes of the mosque adjacent to the Taj Mahal. Click here to see my effort). Either put your offering (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at keithchanning@gmail.com before Sunday evening UK time. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.
  • Story Empire: https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2022/08/03/characters-and-diversity-part-3-physical-ability/ Hello SE friends, Gwen with you today, and together we will venture further into the theme of diversity. In June, I wrote about including racial diversity in your stories. Here’s a link to that post. In July, I focused on financial diversity and offered suggestions which you can read here. Today’s topic is PHYSICAL ABILITY. Just as in the prior two posts, I will write from personal experience and invite you to share your experiences as well.
Posted in Links, MG & YA, traditional, Uncategorized, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

When Do You Make Yourself Happy? by Traci Kenworth


When Do You Choose What Makes You Happy?

Traci Kenworth

Our lives are built around doing things for others. When do you choose what’s right for you? When do you choose what makes you happy? I hear you. Kids. The spouse. Your boss at work. Friends. They all pull us in different directions. And I get that they’re important. That you love them with all your heart. That’s great. That’s good.

We spend so much time doing for others, we sometimes forget our own priorities. And I’m not saying family, friends, or work aren’t a priority. The truth of the matter is, if you continue to let dreams crumble, one day they’ll be no more. We need to take a step back here and there to see what we’d like to do with our goals/our futures.

I’ve written since I was little but had no idea that that’s what I wanted to do with my life till after I left college. To me, words were something sacred, something that wouldn’t be practical for my life. Don’t all those guidance tests tell us that? Or at least, the guidance counselor? Choose something else. That was hammered in me from those days.

So, I did. Nothing worked out for me. I struggled to find a job that interested me. They were all boring. Or a necessity. But you know, I came to realize that’s what the draw to writing was about. It wasn’t boring. In fact, it was damn exciting. It thrummed through my veins as soon as I put my fingers to the keyboard or picked up a pen.

I stopped fighting what others told me was impossible. In a lot of areas of my life. Today, I’m so glad that I didn’t give up. I wouldn’t have kids. I wouldn’t have a good life. And starting this journey again would be so much harder. My health, admittedly, is something I still have to consider. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m taking strides further.

By the way, if you see someone you used to know from wherever, don’t assume things about them without knowing their health. I’ve had classmates from school and old neighbors assume my weight problems were due to pregnancy. The truth was far from that. I didn’t gain this weight till I ended up in the hospital and then they jerked me from medicine to medicine trying to solve my problems.

There comes a time when you have to realize that if something makes you happy, do more of it. Writing is the elixir of my life. I need it to feel accomplished in my day. No matter if I ever reach the goals I wish, I will keep going, keep fighting. Because to not do so, doesn’t give me anything to shoot for.

It might not seem like much to you, but for me, it’s more than enough. It’s a hope that I haven’t always had a lot of in my life. It’s a strength that builds my day. Who knows how long we have left in this existence? I don’t want to waste another minute. No matter what happens, I will always keep stringing words together. Hoping. Smiling. Keeping the faith. Have a great week, everyone.

Some products you might like. Keep in mind that I may receive a small compensation from the sellers.

  1. Empowered Women Empower Women https://amzn.to/3QT2Xks
  2. Inspirational Gifts for Women https://amzn.to/39VpNYd
  3. The True Measure of a Man https://amzn.to/3OIx7pr

Some blogs you might enjoy:

  1. The Killzone https://killzoneblog.com/2022/06/tips-to-deceive-characters-and-readers.html

Fictional truth is never quite as clear as it seems on the surface. Deceptiveness boils down to manipulation, disguise, and misdirection. The writer can deceive characters and readers in numerous ways.

A villain might murder another character, then lie to avoid detection. This leads to more lies, more misdirection, and deepening deceptions, creating tension and conflict.

What if the main character lies to themselves about who they are or their current circumstances? Because the truth may be too difficult to accept, the charade continues. One of the most widely known examples is The Sixth Sense.

2. Writer’s Helping Writer’s https://writershelpingwriters.net/2022/06/3-design-secrets-for-captivating-book-ads/ With so many books in the world and ads on every platform imaginable, social media can often feel like screaming into a void. In order to get any traction, you need ad design that gets noticed by your ideal reader or target audience. Following these 3 tips will give you a bit of a secret sauce foundation for capturing those clicks.

3. Middle Grade Mojo https://middlegrademojo.com/2022/06/28/mg-summer-reading-5-fun-cinderella-retellings/

Who can resist a fun retelling of a classic fairytale? Having some knowledge of the backstory allows the reader to get invested in the story quickly. Today’s guest post is a fairytale specialist—Leah Cypess is the author of the SISTERS EVER AFTER series and shares some of her favorite retellings of Cinderella.

Leah Cypess: While writing GLASS SLIPPERS, I avoided reading other retellings of Cinderella. But now that GLASS SLIPPERS is out in the world, I was able to revisit some old favorites — and discover some new ones — to recommend to any middle grade readers who are looking for more takes on Cinderella! Here are my 5 favorites:

  1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I know, I know! It’s so obvious it almost doesn’t bear mentioning. But it’s so good that it has to be mentioned. (And don’t just take my word for it — the Newbery Committee thought so too!) The story of a girl named Ella who is “blessed” with the gift of obedience, this retelling is inventive, enthralling, and thoroughly magical. (And if you’ve watched the movie — go read the book anyhow. Seriously. They are barely telling the same story.)
  2. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George. This book is the second in a series, and I highly recommend starting with the first, Princess of the Midnight Ball (a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses). With that said, if for some reason you must, you can also read Princess of Glass as a stand-alone. This book is actually about a different princess at that famous ball, thus setting it up for a series of fascinating and fairy-tale-bending twists. It’s a sweet and fast-paced entry in George’s fabulous Princess trilogy.

4. Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2022/06/29/too-many-windows/

I generally only have one or two windows open at a time. Recently, it’s gotten kind of crazy. I’m working on two manuscripts at once, so when I find something interesting or informative, I currently leave that window open. Beats adding a bunch of bookmarks when I only need them temporarily.

Let’s take a look at them, just for a laugh.

Entertaining Stories – you are here.

Facts about Potassium Iodide – used for radiation poisoning

Google window -for saltwater taffy

Recipe – for saltwater taffy – vehicle for Potassium Iodide

Google translate – for English to Spanish

5. The Write Stuff https://marciamearawrites.com/2022/06/30/thorsdaysmile-humor-amlaughing-11/ Are you ready for a few smiles this morning? Thor thinks you are, so let’s get right to it! Here is a bit of a mixed bag for you, and I hope you find a couple of things you enjoy!

Posted in blogs, horror, Links, traditional, YA

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


Bookcover

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 https://amzn.to/3uNfQ5B
  2. The Shadow and the Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo https://amzn.to/3K01lSa Highly recommend!
  3. The Cursebreaker Series by Brigid Kemmerer https://amzn.to/3IVlGXG Another highly recommend!
  4. The Caravel Series by Stephanie Garber https://amzn.to/3DsZjaJ Still another highly recommended!
  5. The Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger https://amzn.to/3wRz5O3 A classic!

Below are some links you may enjoy:

  1. The Indie Spot https://beemweeks.wordpress.com/2022/04/02/the-hat-is-humorous-and-original/

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 https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2022/04/02/word-count-and-future-ideas/

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?”

“Probably.”

“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 https://wordcraftpoetry.com/2022/04/02/shareyourday/#comment-113240

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 https://killzoneblog.com/2022/04/up-front-money.html

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 https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2022/04/02/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-memories-music-and-movies-1993-40th-mr2-m-people-mrs-doubtfire/

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 a bit of seriousness, blogs, Craft, John Howell, author, Links, Muse, writers, Writing and Poetry

A Little Bit of Rouge There… by Traci Kenworth


A Little Bit of Rouge There, A Little Bit of Shade to Our Characters

Traci Kenworth

Foreshadowing has never been my strong suit. I see authors such as J.K. Rowling that have snuck items in books that the reader wouldn’t have even noticed in the beginning. And then you just look back in awe. How did they think that far ahead? I know mystery writers do it all the time. Sneaking things in that the reader might see as a diversion but are the absolute truth.

How do they know when to do that? I have a hard time figuring out when to add things as you can see. I know I have to slip it in somewhere but where is the question? Do you find yourself in the same boat or do you totally get those details in just where they need to be? Of course, I know the majority of writers go back through in drafts and add what they need. My problem is knowing how much to put in and where exactly.

I’ve read that some writers know the significance of every detail in the scene including the green curtains in the background. Elsewhere, a butterfly could symbolize rebirth. I’m not that meticulous when it comes to framing things. I would love to be. As I’ve said before, adding something in the second book that shows back up in the sixth is just phenomenal talent for some writers.

I know that in school, stories are examined by teachers and students to determine just what that antique doll sitting on the shelf means. What did the author mean by focusing on that sled in the movie? Theories are sought and discussed over and over. I’ve never been a fan of pulling things apart like that. I like to be more subtle. What does the story mean to me? What are the relevant details and how did they fit in that spot? Would I have done something different? It’s hard to say.

In college, further studies of the classics happened. If Beale Street Could Talk. The Catcher and the Rye. Both books to make you think. Especially as a younger person. It broadened your world. Made you see that everyone has their own suckish life but once you work through things, you discovered life is what life is. You make the best of it. It helps to put your own in perspective. Maybe you didn’t have it as bad as you think.

That’s what books do. They help us explore options. What could be versus what is. It’s only in the learning and exploring that we understand what the story is about. Foreshadowing is a tool writers use to set up a scene further in the future. Discovering when and how to add the clue is done differently by every writer. And let’s face it, some of the clues readers discover ended up there by accident.

I know it’s popular nowadays to think that a writer might have broken down every scene with objects that meant something to the story. The chair in the middle of the floor might showcase a kidnapping. A chest might lead a character on to a quest. Sometimes however, a detail in the story is just there. A character needs a place to rest. To discuss options with his or her friends.

I suppose I’d understand the ways writers insert shade into their stories more if I did the breakdowns of stories. Somehow though, that feels like almost an intrusion into them. I like a bit of mystery, a bit of wonder as to where the writer pulled that out of their page. Mystery writer I may never be, but from what I’ve learned while reading and absorbing the story, I can see the value in adding the clues.

It’ll be something I need to observe more in my reading so that I can apply it to my writing in the years to come. How about you? Do you like to tear stories apart and put them back together? Are you like me and don’t like to study every detail down to the author’s name? I just know what I like when I read it. It’s in the pages that we uncover the magic, the talent of each writer before us and how they came to weave their genius into the story.

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Below are some links you might like to view:

  1. Pitch Wars https://pitchwars.org/upcoming-release-red-thread-of-fate-by-lyn-liao-butler/ Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China, Tony and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident. A shell-shocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s five-year-old daughter, Angela. With no other family around, Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since the child was an infant. Overwhelmed by her life suddenly being upended, Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when a long-concealed secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.
  2. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2022/01/how-to-use-touch-in-writing/

Touch is a basic human need. It’s the first sense we develop and our first social interaction at birth.

The Power of Touch.

Imagine walking barefoot through a forest. The softness of moss between your toes, the cool slime of mud, the pokes and scratches of pine needles, sticks, and stones.

Think of the kitchen and the intense heat of the oven. Remember kneading and punching bread dough, making deep indentations in the mixture, releasing stored aggression on the dough. (Good therapy.)

Touch has two different systems, factual (location, movement, and pressure) and emotional. Both types are used in writing.

3. Story Empire Blog https://storyempirecom.wordpress.com/2022/01/28/what-can-be-done-if-the-desire-to-write-is-missing/

Hi SEers, John is with you today. I hope you are looking forward to a great weekend. I know I am. Today’s post is all about providing some perspective on those times when no matter how much a writer knows they should get to their writing, they just dread it. I have had those moments. It’s that awful time where writing sounds like it will be a miserable experience.

These times may not last long, but while they are there, they become a cause for unreasonable concern about the future as a writer. I mention unreasonable since, like most things that go bump in the night, these concerns under the white-hot light of reality tend to fall away.

So, what kind of white-hot light can be switched on to expose these feelings of not wanting to write to a reality check. The title of this post gives a hint. Some things can be said out loud that will chase the specter of doubt to St Louis. I am suggesting some things can be said when faced with a lack of desire to write. Once any of these are expressed, writing will take on a revitalized characteristic. Some of these are meant to be humorous to show how laughable it is not wanting to write.

4. Robbie’s Inspiration https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2022/01/27/robbies-inspiration-my-word-for-the-year-patience/

Several people in the blogosphere had selected a word to inspire them for 2022. One of the best such words I’ve encountered is curator shared by Marsh Ingrao of Always Write blog. You can read her post here: https://alwayswrite.blog/2022/01/26/wqw-4-word-of-the-year-or-writers-choice/

Seeing as the bloggers have collective colluded to twist my rubber arm with regards to a wordy inspiration, I have chosen ‘Patience’. I shared my choice with my long suffering husband and, after he’d picked himself up off the floor after laughing himself silly, I composed this poem to keep me on the path of patient virtuousness:

5. Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2022/01/27/light-years-from-home-by-mike-chen-blogtour-bookreview-scifi-family/

Every family has issues. Most can’t blame them on extraterrestrials.

Evie Shao and her sister, Kass, aren’t on speaking terms. Fifteen years ago on a family camping trip, their father and brother vanished. Their dad turned up days later, dehydrated and confused—and convinced he’d been abducted by aliens. Their brother, Jakob, remained missing. The women dealt with it very differently. Kass, suspecting her college-dropout twin simply ran off, became the rock of the family. Evie traded academics to pursue alien conspiracy theories, always looking for Jakob.

When Evie’s UFO network uncovers a new event, she goes to investigate. And discovers Jakob is back. He’s different—older, stranger, and talking of an intergalactic war—but the tensions between the siblings haven’t changed at all. If the family is going to come together to help Jakob, then Kass and Evie are going to have to fix their issues, and fast. Because the FBI is after Jakob, and if their brother is telling the truth, possibly an entire space armada, too.

Posted in a bit of seriousness, blogs, Craft, Reading, writers, Writing and Poetry, YA

The Beauty of Writing by Traci Kenworth


The Beauty of Writing

Traci Kenworth

I was probably twelve or thirteen when I began using makeup. Eye shadow. Liner. Rouge. Lipstick. Any and all of it. I wished in later years, that I’d taken it slower like my one friend in high school whose parents only allowed her lipstick for many years. Of course, I found out from another friend that she ditched that restriction when it came to parties and hanging out with friends. I just thought maybe less was more as I got older.

I guess that’s how we all start off with writing as well. Experimenting to see what worked best. Sometimes, certain words didn’t work at all. I thought you had to be distant from the piece but as time advanced, I learned how close you really want to be with your reader. Almost as if you could whisper to them, “Here, I have a tale I want to tell you about.” That’s what draws them in. It’s what gets them to share the character’s journey.

Truth be told, I’d rather spend time reading the majority of the time. Unfortunately, things continue to get in my way of such and I have to really work to enjoy stories nowadays. There’s something about sitting down, focusing on that character that’s magical. Like the first time you look into the mirror with makeup on and find someone you don’t quite recognize. It’s all about relating to that person you see. Listening to their secrets. Sharing the possibilities.

The tools of makeup bring out the canvas of one’s beauty just like those used for writing. When we begin a story, we have to learn how to contour things just right, so they enhance a scene, bring out the best in a character, or showcase the genre in question. The more we write, the more we learn. We could also say the same about reading. It should go hand in hand with our works. We need to learn what authors who’ve gone before us have done and improve on our own manuscripts with the things we discover. Of course, don’t copy their efforts. We grow by adapting and trying new ideas.

Imitating is fine at first, but you want to break out into your own path. Much like you want to tailor makeup to you, instead of following the trends and looking like every other face out there. There’s room for you in whatever you do. To shine, to explore, to rise to new heights. I’m not talking author intrusion. Still, you want the story to reflect what you want to say and how you want to say it. Don’t channel Anne Rice or Stephen King. Put a bit of you into the work. What do you believe? What matters to you? Show your characters searching for what they want or putting an end to the thing that could destroy their world.

As you age, you become less inclined to wear makeup. There just isn’t the time or anybody to impress. Still, a small amount can do wonders for your confidence. At least it does for me. I was a lonely girl looking for a way to fit in as a teenager. I didn’t quite make it until my senior year in high school. I opened up. Spoke my mind sometimes. And won new friends. When I think about those times, I realize it was training ground. Everyone at some time in their life experiences awkwardness. The best thing to do is to work through those times. Pick up your pen. Put your fingers to the keys. Write about tragedy, hope, and forgiveness. It heals the soul.

Where Genres Collide

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Five Links You Might Find Interesting:

. https://syl65.wordpress.com/2021/12/30/thursdaythoughts-the-year-to-come/ Syl65's Blog.com Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
2. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/12/30/smorgasbord-book-reviews-december-2021-round-up-contemporary-anne-goodwin-romance-jan-sikes-romance-staci-troilo-shortstories-mae-clair-thriller-jane-buckley/ Smorgasboard Blog Magazine.com Welcome to the last of the book reviews for 2021 with some wonderful books that I can highly recommend.

The first book I read in December was the thought provoking contemporary novel Matilda Wilson is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin.
3.  https://teripolen.com/2021/12/29/www-wednesday-what-am-i-reading-amreading-65/ Books and Such The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m literally starting Bright Ruined Things today, so I really can’t comment on it. It’s been on my NetGalley shelf for months, but I’m excited to finally get to it. The cover gives me a Great Gatsby feel.
4. https://conniejjasperson.com/2021/12/29/writing-drabbles-and-exploring-theme-amwriting/ Life in the Realm of Fantasy I think of writing as a muscle of sorts, working the way all other muscles do. Our bodies are healthiest when we exercise regularly, and with respect to our creativity, writing works the same way.

WritingCraft_short-story-drabbleDaily writing becomes easier once you make it a behavioral habit. The more frequently you write, the more confident you become. Spend a small amount of time writing every day and you will develop discipline.
5. https://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2021/12/traditional-publishing.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email The Blood-Red Pencil Although we now focus quite heavily on indie and self-publishing here at The Blood-Red Pencil, many of our early posts were geared towards helping authors navigate the traditional publishing gauntlet, from completed manuscript, to agent queries and pitches, to landing that much-coveted book deal with one of the large publishing houses.

 



Countdown to a Book

One of the most comprehensive series of posts we ran here was Kathryn Craft's seventeen-post epic account of her journey through the traditional publication process, starting with her realisation that she needed help long before she could even think about querying an agent.