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Five Links 2/26/2020 Traci Kenworth

Image by Enrique Meseguer from Pixabay

Five Links 2/8/2020

Traci Kenworth


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Research & Fun Bits:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some Things More Serious:



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:


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

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

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




Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

What I don’t know: who he is.

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