Posted in blogs, Craft, Links, MG & YA, Writing and Poetry

Five Links 12/14/19 Traci Kenworth

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Five Links 12/14/19

Traci Kenworth


1. “One of my favorite comedies from the 1940s Is The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. This little gem (with an Academy Award-winning screenplay by Sidney Sheldon) stars Cary Grant as the bachelor, Shirley Temple as the bobby-soxer, and Myrna Loy as a judge who happens to be Shirley’s big sister.

The plot is simple. Grant gives a speech at Shirley’s high school, and Shirley becomes infatuated with him. Grant has to fight her off even as her suspicious sister brings the arm of the law down upon him. I’ll bet you can guess who Grant ends up romancing. It’s all great fun, especially a scene where Grant takes on the persona of a teenager for a little bit of payback.”


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

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

4. “Start with a Definition

Summarizing for the reader.

Reporting information.

Letting the reader draw her own conclusions.
Using action, thoughts, senses, and feelings to allow the reader to experience the story for herself.

Now let’s take this abstract idea and make it concrete.

TELLING is writing:
He was short.                                                    

SHOWING is writing:”

5. “You might not realize it. But it’s very possible you’re not dreaming “big” enough.

Oh, I know — I, too, thought I had gone as close to the edge of realistic possibility with my dreams as I could. With every dream there does come a point where you have to ask yourself: “Am I really capable of doing this? Do I have the resources and time and capacity to make this happen?” Sometimes, you do have to make adjustments.

But that should NEVER stop you from aiming high. And strangely, it is much easier to say this when it’s someone else trying to hold you back than when you are the one holding yourself back.

We get so caught up in our own thoughts and beliefs that we often don’t even realize when we are talking ourselves so far down we become convinced what we want, at least in some capacity, is not possible.

But it is. At least, it is if we MAKE it possible.”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “It has been a busy week at the homestead with the new fence up and awaiting staining once the weather dries out a bit… excellent job by the workmen who stuck it out through wind, hail, pouring rain, up to the knees in mud… brilliant. Now we need to put tons of stones down for drainage all along the bottom covered by more tons of topsoil and new turf.. The last major job before we put the house on the market in the spring.”

2. ““I think I accomplished what I set out to do today. The Fulminites are terrifying, and no root monsters were killed in this adventure.”

“You killed the Fulminites though.”

“Did I, or did they do that themselves?”

Flattop, the root monster, sat beside my iPad. “Whew! Modders all go splat, but okey dokey at the end. Then get to throw hailstones.”

“I thought you guys deserved a bit of fun.”

“I like how Fēngbào came out, Lisa said.”

3. “A critical part of writing a good book—and a good pitch or proposal for a book—is defining your book’s audience.

We all know, of course, that you shouldn’t try to write a book “for everyone.” But your book’s audience can be an elusive target. I suggest three distinct and mutually exclusive phases for the process, which apply primarily to nonfiction but could also be kept in mind for various forms of fiction.

Define your reader clearly, specifically, even singularly, as you write. When I was an editor of a teen magazine (back when teens were mostly concerned with fighting off dinosaurs and getting their own room in the family cave), I kept two school snapshots taped to either side of my computer monitor. Both were kids who had attended the church I had pastored before taking on the editorial position. One was a fifteen-year-old white, lower-middle-class girl, and the other was a sixteen-year-old African-American boy from an upper middle-class family. They were my audience. Everything in that magazine had to pass their test, so to speak.”

4. “During the first draft of a novel, the writing can sometimes be pretty ordinary. We are intent on getting the story on paper and we write what we are familiar with. The challenge is to freshen everything up in the second draft. Here are just a few pointers that haven’t been covered here in a while:

AVOID clichés and shop-worn phrases.

I recently edited a book and the author wanted to keep all the clichés, defending her stance with the fact that people use clichés all the time. She didn’t seem to understand that that is the main reason a good author avoids them. Give the reader something fresh and original. Another author tried to justify her clichés by pointing out how many books get published that have them. My response was that that doesn’t make it okay.

How many times have you read something like: Her heels clicked across the hard tile of the floor? That is okay writing, but it could be stronger.”

5. “One of the most common habits I see burdening stories is overemphasis on conversational tags, which goes hand in hand with not making good use of action tags. Here’s an example I just made up:

“No,” she exclaimed. She looked at the the pot of stew bubbling on the stove and saw red juice splattering. She began to stir.

Unable to resist multitasking, I demonstrated several bad habits in the above sample of poor writing.

First, punctuation. When a character exclaims, use an exclamation point.


Some Things More Serious:

1. “Do you want to write more but feel frustrated at your lack of time? Are you doing ‘busy’ work instead of moving toward your creative goals? Is your To-Do list overwhelming?

It’s time to stop, reassess and take control. Productivity for Authors will help you discover the path to becoming a productive writer.”

2. “ensitivity readers have been on our radar for the last few years, and in some circles they’ve even become controversial. Here’s a brief overview of what sensitivity readers do so that you can decide whether to consider incorporating them into your process.

What do sensitivity readers do?

They typically read unpublished manuscripts early in the editing process, giving feedback on sensitive cultural issues, accurate racial portrayals, and concerns about bias or stereotypes represented in the book.”

3. “Hi, Gang, Craig with you again. I need to come up with a post, and this one has been gnawing at me for a while now. Recently, I struggled with a section of a draft I’m working on, and the best solution was to just write it. It came out pretty good, so I’m taking that approach today.

Various experts write about our unique author voice, and how to find it. Is it missing under the couch? Maybe behind the dust bunny? Did the dog swallow it?” I think it finds you when it’s ready. It’s all part of the confidence you grow into through experimentation with writing tools.

4. “In the following weeks, I will be highlighting past articles on various topics from the previous years’ posts.

The following information on genre can also be found in the book Story Building Blocks The Four Layers of Conflict in ebook and print editions. Much of the material from my Story Building Block series is available in my blog posts and on my website ( along with free forms.

This week, I begin with the importance of defining the type of story you wish to tell your readers.”

5. “Most writers have more story or marketing ideas than they have time for. If we don’t intentionally prioritize, the urgent or the easy or the involves-others projects will weed out what we most want to accomplish.

Last week, I was excitedly talking to someone about a new opportunity, and it wasn’t until a day or two later that I realized I needed to pass. As cool as their idea was, it would take time and effort away from other projects I’m doing—projects that are more meaningful to me.

We simply have to say “no” to some projects so that we can say “yes” to others.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name – Ged – and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught. There, Ged’s natural talents enable him to surpass his classmates in little time. But when his vanity prompts him to summon Elfarran, the fair lady of the Deed of Enlad, he unleashes a shapeless mass of darkness – the shadow.

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (Book 1)
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Publisher: Parnassus Press (1968)
Page Count: 205

I’ve seen people recommending Ursula K Le Guin for years. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about her until her passing in 2018. I saw all of the blog posts across the community about how much Le Guin meant to so many people. But because of all of these heartfelt words I’ve wanted to read some of her work. I also saw Studio Ghibli’s Tales of Earthsea. The world seemed so fun, I really wanted to dive into it.”

2. “asha Suri’s fantasy debut novel inspired by Mughal India, is a gorgeous novel and one that I found deeply affecting—I loved it so much that it was my choice for Book of the Year in 2018 with its rich storytelling, fascinating world, and beautiful writing. Most of all, I was enchanted by the main characters and the vividly drawn relationships, especially the slow burn romance that grew from respect and common values, and its exploration of choice and connection.

Realm of Ash, the second novel in The Books of Ambha, was one of my most anticipated books of 2019, possibly even my most anticipated book of the year given my fondness for Tasha Suri’s first novel—and just like her debut, it’s a gorgeous book. It’s difficult to say which of the two I enjoyed more, even though I preferred the main characters and love story in the first and thought this one was slower overall. It still has a lovely slow build romance, wonderful characters, and the quality storytelling, world building, and writing that I appreciated about the first, but it’s also a more mature, complex book. It kept me reading late into the night and is one of those special books I expect to reread in the future despite the never-ending pile of books I want to read for the first time.

In short: I loved Realm of Ash and found it deeply affecting, just like Empire of Sand.”

3. happens when you’re living the good life after retirement and your world suddenly turns upside down? Will and Cass Henderson learn the truth after a family member is murdered, but no one believes them because they’re the prime suspects. The Hendersons have a red-eyed killer in the family, and they’re next on its kill list”

4. “Prior to starting my blog in October 2016, I had only ever written a book review for school purposes. Those were grudge purchases and done with the aim of getting a good mark not highlighting for other readers the pros and cons of the book.

Since I started blogging, I have written over 150 book reviews and have gradually developed a method of assessing a book and a style of writing book reviews. Although I read all sorts of books from poetry and memoir to children’s books and thrillers and horror books. I read both classic books and contemporary novels.

I have five primary pillars that I consider, to a greater or lessor extent depending on the genre and nature of the book, when writing a book review.”

5. “No Entry is a young adult story dealing with elephant poaching in South Africa.

The setting appealed to me and the first few pages intrigued me enough to want to read on. The story is fast-paced, but sometimes the speed of movement between the scenes had me questioning how characters knew particular details while the reader was left behind.

I enjoyed the descriptions and animals at Kruger National Park, while the elephant poaching was an horrific element. I also found the story informative about the harsher side of living in this part of the world. However, the author relied heavily on ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ the reader the details, with information dumps, rather than blending fact with fiction with subtle narrative and realistic dialogue.  I like books that have something to say, and educate me, but the ‘purpose’ of the book should never take over from the story, or the reader can feel as if they are”

Posted in blogs, Craft, Links, Links, MG & YA

Five Links 10/26/19 Traci Kenworth

black cat

Five Links 10/26/19

Traci Kenworth


1. “When I first started writing, I remember someone asking me what my book was about. I stammered and stalled, trying to think about how to best describe it.

“Um…it’s about this guy, see? He um…well…he’s kind of a…”

“Just give me your elevator pitch.”

I stood there like a deer caught in the headlights.

“You know, your logline.”

“Logline? What’s a logline?”

Thus began my real education as an author. That was the day I learned it wasn’t just about writing books, but also being able to talk to people about what I’d written. I needed to be ready at any moment to clearly and coherently communicate the bones of my story. And that, my friends, is the logline.”

2. “I stand in the shower with my eyes closed letting the hot water hit me. It always clears my head. It always forces me to spend time alone with my thoughts, to confront them and acknowledge their existence.

From these moments almost always comes an idea, if not several. We don’t call them “shower thoughts” for nothing. When there is nowhere else to turn, we face our ideas head-on. Almost as if we are giving them permission to approach, and all the chances in the world to show us what they are capable of.

Ideas are the most thrilling when you don’t go looking for them. I don’t stand in the shower expecting an idea to appear — there are plenty of much more important reasons for maintaining adequate hygiene. But I won’t lie and say I’m not pleasantly surprised when I do encounter an idea I can’t refuse.”




Research & Fun Bits:






Some Things More Serious:

1. “There is no documentation for these narratives. Call them what you wish. This cannot be fact checked. There are no police reports/medical examinations/official statements/newspaper stories. No proof in the way that you want proof. No paper trail. Only story. That’s what women have had forever. How can we ascertain whether any of this is true? Where did your friend/cousin/sister/teammate tell you this? She told me in the bleachers/near the lockers/in the gym/in my car/in the dorm room/with the candles lit/in the driveway/on the train/in the parking lot.

This is not he said/she said, because we said these things only to each other. Every day, in the southern California city where I was born and still live, I drive past the places where we were attacked. Passing the parking lots where my friends and I were in cars, I remember the silver mushrooms of the door locks. We took rides home from football games and house parties. Gas, grass or ass—no one rides for free. I remember the bumper sticker on vans, cars, trucks. Does this hurt? Does this hurtWhat about that? Not murmured in apology, but in anticipation. We were 14. We did not ride for free. We were told if we walked home, worse could happen to us.

I drive past the bleachers at the park where my brothers played Little League. I worked the snack bar because girls didn’t play baseball. We sold snacks. In the dark storage room behind the bleachers. I was 12. The two boys only a year older. First base and you can go. Do boys still use that term now?”





Teaser Fiction & Poetry:






Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:


2., amici! For the last two days in the Story Empire Something Wicked tour, I discussed some of the ancient lore woven into my Astral Conspiracy series (specifically the first book, The Gate).

Today, I’m going in the other direction.

My series is a combination of ancient history and futuristic tech. It’s time to delve into the futuristic tech part.

Science fiction can be a fascinating genre, with story worlds as rich and complex as the fantasy genre. But instead of magical realms filled with dragons, elves, and ogres, we’re looking at medical, communication, and transportation advancements.”

3. Marie is affectionately known as the giant redwood, probably because she is very tall, but also because of her love for trees. Most afternoons she can be found repotting or taking care of her bonsai collection, but her love of detective mysteries soon brings her back indoors. She has written three fiction novels in this genre, Nine Lives, Out of Time and Crossfire and is looking forward to publishing Silent Payback, her fourth book.

She spends any free time learning everything she can about self-publishing, and despite all the obstacles, she never gives up on anything and is as stubborn as a mule. She also shares a website with Anita Dawes…

Amazon Author Page U.S.



Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, Muse, writers, Writing and Poetry

Off I go, Editing


Edit of Death
Edit of Death (Photo credit: Ric James)


Off I go, Editing


Traci Kenworth




The days have passed quicker than I thought. Editing time has arrived. I’m going to begin


with a read-through of LATWD and see what catches/problems I see. I began writing the book about March of this year. So I guess it’s been about a six-month process. From here on out, I want to concentrate on shaping it, making it better. I’m so hoping I don’t find it a big, jumbled mess but instead the awesome story I think it is. It’s taken a lot to get it to this point, and I thank my critique partners for helping me arrive here.


Now, the real hurdles begin. Are the characters strong enough? Is the plot riveting? Will


it maintain reader interest? All these questions and more need to be answered. The truth of the matter is though, I prefer this stage. What? Editing can be a preference? For me, yes. I like it because it’s like being an archaeologist and discovering a fossil. You have to carefully dig out the finished project. It’s not ready, till it’s completely unearthed. With your manuscript, at this point, you only have the bones. Now you need to flesh things out, bring to life the dinosaur.


It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? Trying to recreate something you imagined months ago into


something that’s going to hold your reader’s attention into the years beyond this hopefully? Of course, we want to imagine what we put down the first time is perfect, but the truth is manuscripts take work, lots of it. No one unearths an exhibit that’s ready for viewers overnight. It takes time, many plans, help from outside ourselves, and patience. In the end, you want things to be perfect when it takes the stage. So no hurrying. Step back and observe, lay the groundwork for success.




Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

The Monster Show


Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from The Br...
Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from The Bride of Frankenstein as Frankenstein’s monster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Monster Show


Traci Kenworth




Who didn’t go to a monster show at some point growing up? I remember sitting on the couch every Saturday when I was twelve or thirteen watching the local channel’s Scream Theater showing. Frankenstein’s monster, the she-devil, and BIG bugs reigned. Armed with a bowl of buttered popcorn (oh, those innocent, before I became weight-conscious days), and a group of friends, it was something I looked forward to all week. Perhaps because of these screenings, horror often topped the list of my readings growing up.


I loved to root for the characters, praying fervently that each would make it. I think this weekly ritual was the stepping-stone to my writing. It brought an eagerness to tell stories, even those heroes/heroines that didn’t make it, of my own. Writing just clicked with me. I could explore new worlds, the human psyche, and wrong decisions. I found myself at peace when I got it all down on paper (the way it was done before computers came along). At least, into my household. I didn’t own my first computer until I was married.


When divorce hit me, my next computer helped bring me through the rough patches, and pointed me back down the road toward writing. It wasn’t easy, raising two kids by myself, buying a house, and paying the bills, but I did it. I’m still doing it. I watch very little of what’s called horror these days (mostly because it’s become so much of a gore-fest), but when I do, I’m reminded of those Saturdays spent cringing from this week’s monster.


Oh, I have my favorite shows still to keep me tuned in. From Supernatural to The Vampire Diaries, I’ve learned that it truly is the protagonist/s in trouble that capture my attention and less the nameless ones that flee the masked murderer in the forest that capture my efforts. I like fear to count for something, I guess. When I get to know a character, their family, their hopes, their dreams, I want to see them survive. It’s what I try and do in my own stories. Capture the essence of who they are, where they’re going, and how they’re going to come through things. In short, I want people attached to my stories, not a body count.


All this has helped me make some recent cut-backs in my own work. I, too, went for the high amount of corpses versus the character, but I came to realize: less is more. If you want your reader to care about what’s happening, give them heroes/heroines to root for not walk-ons who are just there to get cut up by some psycho. It’s the story that counts, the truth behind what is happening, it’s the meat on the bones.


Yes, those Monster shows educated me on what’s important: the survivors. If you’re having trouble in your work-in-progress, it may mean that you need to step back and look at the people in your story. Are they fully-rounded? Do we care about them? Or is the boogeyman the main character? Readers want to read about people. What makes them tick, how they survived a day in hell, and what their future may look like. Concentrate on the protagonist/s and the curtain on your show will continue to go up every time.


Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, Muse, writers, Writing and Poetry

Writing in the Dark

Writing in the Dark

Traci Kenworth


I used to write religiously with an outline as I’ve said on here before but lately, I’ve been “writing in the dark” so to speak. Which is to say, I’ve thrown out my outline with my current project and what I’ve begun to do is to take each chap as one/or several long scenes and jot down notes before writing the chapter. Then I proceed to the next chapter and start the process over again. I’ve discovered a freedom in this type of writing and it’s really opened up the creative doors for me.

Part of why I’ve down so is reading several Stephen King interviews as well as going back over his The Stephen King Companion. He’s admitted he isn’t one for knowing exactly how a story is going to go, but with his writing, “finds what he needs, when he needs it.” I’m paraphrasing here, these aren’t his exact words, but I’ve found this to be true when it comes to my own writing. See, I was having a hard time getting enthused about a wip when I knew what was going to happen down to the ending. Writing this way lately, has multiplied the possibilities.

I’ve found new life in my story, my cps are enthusiastic about it, and it’s turning out to be one of the most complex stories I’ve written. So, it just goes to show, sometimes if you throw all the rules out, you find the will to go on, and what’s more, you’ll soar in your efforts. How about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser or a little of both? Any tips on how to do writing your way that you think might help others?

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

Writing Goals

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Image via Wikipedia

Writing Goals

Traci Kenworth


What are yours for the new year? After reading a recent blog about diversifying your genres so that you don’t end up stuck in one type, limiting the type of writing you can do, I’ve decided to try my hand at something other than horror this year. I want to be able to write the novel I want to write and not be pigeonholed into writing what others expect me to. That doesn’t mean that I plan to give up writing horror. It just means I want to explore new bridges alongside the old.

I have a time-travel and a western waiting in the wings I will pull out sometime this year. As well as delve into something perhaps I haven’t tried before. A writer pal of mine has done this for herself this past year and she’s not only succeeded at this different genre, but excelled. SO proud of her. Her success (as well as that blog) inspired me to think outside the box.

My first love, believe it or not, was fantasy. So, it might be time to look into writing something on that behalf. Marion Zimmer Bradley once gave me the advice to wait to write fantasy till you’ve lived. I think I’m ready, at last, to do so. I have a MG (I think) on my mind that I might try my hand at writing. It would be a good departure for me and stretch my wings. Yes, I think I’ve decided what I’ll do after I finish editing my last book, and writing my current and see where the road takes me.

So what are your goals this year? Do you intend to try something new? Even if it doesn’t work out, it’ll be an experience to learn from. And so, I’ll end with a favorite line of mine: “Have fun storming the castle.

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

Starting Again

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.
Image via Wikipedia

Starting Again

Traci Kenworth


One of the hardest things to do, at first, is to concentrate on another book while the first’s out being subbed. Your attention span is centered on the former to the point of giving you little freeze episodes when you attempt to begin the next. But you have to push through that until the excitement of the new takes over and you can almost forget you have one out there.

I do this by picking out my cast. Seeing and focusing on each character involved in the new work helps to ignite the excitement of the quest to do it again, only better. Yes, it’s true. Finishing the first book is a great triumph. Most people don’t get that far. So pat yourself on the back. But the truth is, if you want to be published, and become an author, you have to write, write, write.

Your story has to become part of you. It has to enter your thoughts while your washing dishes, doing the laundry, running errands. You have to jot notes down on it while running through the day. Think of it while tuning into your favorite TV shows. Dream of it at night, even when you’re exhausted. In short, it has to become a part of you.

The more you write, the more experience you gain, the better your book gets. The material starts to flow, to pick up rhythm. Soon, it will gain that center place in your thoughts and help you ease through the waiting on the first. So, you see, that’s why the writing community (agents, editors, etc.) advices to begin a new work, because not only does it help buffer you from any rejections you receive, it feeds you with a new hope, a new chance to beat the odds. It also gives you something else to offer should an agent ask, “What else do you have?”

So get to work on your next book while subbing. It will only help you grow on your journey through a writer’s life. After all, you want this to be a career, right? So, make sure you dig into the next step with everything you’ve learned, everything you are learning right now, and you will go far in your career.

What are some of your tips to focus on a new book while the others out to agents? Editors?

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

Where has the Year Gone?

Acer platanoides in autumn colors.
Image via Wikipedia

Where has this Year Gone?

Traci Kenworth


As I go through this week, waiting for the clocks to change back one hour, I’m reflecting on the year and thinking: where has it gone? It seems like it was just Spring yesterday and I was getting ready to plant, and enjoy the warm weather. Now, it’s blustery and cold and headed for that dreaded “S” word. I try and think back over my goals. Have I met them?

Not as I hoped I would, but I did end the year with two manuscripts to whip into shape, one to go out soon. So, it’s not a total loss. It’s not like I did nothing to advance my writing. A lot of hard work, researching agents, making sure things are fixed just right. It’ll pay off, just not as soon as I’d like.

This year saw the introduction of two new kitties to our household. They’re fitting in just fine. The kids and I survived another year and things are on their way. Sometimes, we’re filled with regret for what we don’t do, but we should focus on what we’ve accomplished. I know as a writer I’ve grown more in this year than ever before. I also know that my family is strong and my children make me proud. What more could I ask for on the home-front?

I don’t think I’m going to make New Year’s Resolutions this year, I think I’ll just let happen what will. I think if we work toward our goals without specifying that we’ll have A or B done at a certain time, we take the pressure off ourselves. It’s good to push yourself to succeed, just remember you’re human, and to try your best. You’ll see some improvement even if it’s just that you finally finished that book you’ve been talking about writing forever. Every little step counts. So maybe the year’s flown by, but we can still keep our chins up, content in the knowledge, we’re on our way.

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

When it’s Okay

Computer feestje
Image by arneheijenga via Flickr

When it’s Okay to be in Love with Your Writing

& when it’s not

Traci Kenworth


Okay, so you just know you’ve written the one. You’re trembling with excitement, on fire with ambition, ready to shoot past the stars. Hold on there. Have you ran your brilliant creation past your critique groups and beta readers and gotten their thoughts/pointers? Although you may be tempted to skip these steps, because you can’t possibly make it any better, do them anyway. That’s right. Resist the temptation to just hit send to that agent on your list.

Instead, step back, take a look, and breathe. Let the comments settle a while if you must, and then pare your work. Yes, that’s right, doing so will improve it further. I know how hard it is to put something you’ve sweated, cried, and driven yourself mad over, but it has to be done. And when you do so, keep in mind that the critiquer is not out to get you, someone who lives to cut others down, or tempted to steal your work. They’ve got their own.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t some unscrupulous people out there. Do your research. Find a group that cares about you as well as your writing. Support is a major factor in winning the battle. I trust my cps. I’ve been the rounds with them, know when to listen, and when to stay with my vision. I can tell you one thing though: what they say carries impact because I know they really want the best for me.

I try to give that back as well. Are there times I don’t like what they say? Yes. Are there times when they don’t like what I say? Yes. But we get through it like a family does. The best advice I can give you is to put that manuscript aside and let what was pointed out sink in. Then when you go back, approach it with new eyes. Does that paragraph really border on telling? Tweak it. Is your character too passive? Go back and look them over. Are they doing their job? Is this really their story? Or does it belong to the poor boy, Jack? Is your prose overwritten? Weed, weed, weed.

It’s amazing how much we learn from book to book, if we let ourselves. One of the best compliments I’ve received was after advice to put what I was working with aside and go back to it. My cp simply told me, “Anyone can be taught to write, but you’re a storyteller. That’s a rare gift.” I treasure and hold onto that when the reviews don’t turn in my favor. This is the same person who gave me a key that I like to think will open the door to success for me one day. See, we are like a family. Support and constructive criticism.

Has anyone ever been hurt or put off by my comments in the past? Yes, I’m sure more than once. I tend to be honest and straight forward in a critique and that doesn’t always agree with some people. And some do take what I say the wrong way. I wish this wasn’t so, but it is. I’ve had relationships destroyed by the fact, and people ask me not to critique their work any longer. The hurt goes both ways. I was trying to help, they took offense.

Luckily, the ladies at YAFF (YoungAdultFictionFanatics) keep the communication lines open. Just remember to find someone to critique your work that doesn’t approach it as a tear-down session. They should compliment what you’re doing as well as point out the bad. It’s give-and-take.

Remember to digest what they say, and if it remains true to your vision of the story, or can improve it, go with it. If it deviates from how you want to go, weigh the pros and cons. Trust your gut. It’s hard to do at first, but the more you write, the stronger your belief in yourself will become. Eventually, you’ll learn which path to take. Don’t be so in love with your writing you’re unwilling to change it, but fight for what you believe in.

Posted in a bit of seriousness, humor & fun, writers, Writing and Poetry

Fingerprints across the Pages

Robinia pseudoacacia à Médis
Image via Wikipedia

Fingerprints across the Pages

Traci Kenworth


What makes us toil at a job that is often beyond the limelight, looked down at by others with their snide off-hand comments, and generally takes our all? Love, plain and simple. If we didn’t care about what we put down on that page, the stories we have to tell, the driving inspiration behind them, we wouldn’t do it. Because we do face rejection after rejection, sleepless nights, scattered thoughts, shows us how committed to writing we are.

To an outsider, writing a book sounds easy enough. They don’t see us poised over our paper, computer, scratch notes, napkins even, scribbling away for just that right sentence or idea that will advance the plot. The starving artist has long been both a romantic and tragic figure though that’s not often the case. Nowadays, we work full-time jobs, raise kids, sneak a load of laundry and housekeeping in here and there to tame the mess, all the while tapping our fingers to the keyboard.

It’s a passion that drives us to crawl out of bed at 2 a.m. in the morning to write that latest scene. What would I do without this career? Be a lot less happy. To me, writing is an escape, my saving grace. I love to relay my stories to others, to bring a smile to their face, laughter to their lips, and terror to their hearts. It makes my day when I get positive responses. For years, I had to fight the wish to write because it wasn’t deemed “practical” or acceptable by society’s standards. But you can’t change the yearning inside.

Eventually, you find a way to stoke the flames even if only for ten minutes a day. I haven’t always believed in myself, but I’ve always known that what I put down on a page was good. Not great, at first, no, but there was a seed, a kernel, that told me what I was doing was right. True to myself.

Storytelling, I’m convinced comes from deep within us. If we don’t have the fuel to sustain it, we’ll wander away again. Listen to your dreams, those snippets of conversation that cause a spark, a billboard that catches your eye. They’re all kindling. I still study, study, study my craft. You have to, to keep up in this business. The more you learn the better chance you have.

I don’t have the answers to how to avoid the confrontations, glazed eyes, general contempt from others when you announce one day your intentions to write a book. But the longer you keep at it, the less those things will bother you. It’ll inspire you to write deeper, more in touch with yourself than before, if only to prove to the naysayers you’ve got a chance, what it takes.

So if you have the wish inside to write, but are afraid to pick up that pen, open that document, don’t bury it. Let it grow, build a fire inside. You can and will blaze a new path in your life, find the stepping stone that you needed to all along. Don’t doubt yourself. Writing can be a healing profession; it can also take you higher than the stars.