Five Links 7/12/19 Loleta Abi

cowboy, cowgirl

Five Links…7/12/19

Loleta Abi


1. “Recently I’ve seen sad posts by a number of new writers who are having trouble marketing a self-published debut novel, or are discouraged by numerous rejections. Some are furious at the world for not loving their stuff.

In a lot of their work, I see the same problem. It’s usually right there in the title or on the cover (if the cover is homemade.)

The books are too cluttered. The authors are hoarding too many characters, themes and messages. It’s time for them to Marie Kondo their work.

For anybody who doesn’t pay attention to popular culture, Marie Kondo is a superstar organizing consultant and author with her own show on Netflix.

Her principles can be applied to writing as well as housekeeping.” Good stuff!

2. “A story I often find myself reflecting on, with no prompting, is 45 Years. It’s a British drama based on the short story “In Another Country” by David Constantine.

While the movie portrays some of the most ordinary events you can imagine, the context of those events amplifies every scene. It’s about a married couple planning their 45th wedding anniversary right when a stunning revelation surfaces from the husband’s past.

Without the context of the anniversary—which is right there in the movie title—the story wouldn’t be half as affecting. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Monica Wood discusses how context is a “descriptive background in a story that sheds light on its meaning.” And, as she points out, it’s larger than plot:”

3. “Did you see the badge number or nameplate of the officer who hit you?” I heard myself say as I played back the interview tape.

“No.” As the tinny reply sounded in my headphones, I could picture the speaker, a white guy in his early thirties, chubby and tentative. After his arrest outside his apartment building, his mother had filed a complaint on his behalf with the Civilian Complaint Review Board. She said a female cop had struck him with a baton while kneeling on his back. I was the investigator assigned to the case, charged with determining if unnecessary force had been used. In a bare room at 40 Rector Street, the agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, I’d taken sworn statements from both mother and son. Now I was transcribing the tapes for the case file.”


5. “The stars aligned, angels sang, and the gates of heaven opened wide. That’s how it felt, anyway, when an amazing opportunity to write true crime came my way.

In May, someone tweeted to me, asking if I could follow them back so they could DM me. I saw that the woman was an acquisitions editor and not a cam girl, so I followed her back. Then apologized for my delay in responding, and explained that I’d been offline for a few days while completing final edits for RACKED. She asked if she could email me instead.

After giving her my email address, I still didn’t give the quick exchange much thought. But then my curiosity got the better of me and I engaged in a little online stalking research and discovered she’s an acquisitions editor for Globe Pequot, subsidiary of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., one of the largest publishers of nonfiction and America’s leading book distributor.

Now, she had my full attention.” Amazing news!

Research & Fun Bits:


2. “Romance is a part of life, and so it should also play some part in our novels—if we intend for our characters to mirror real life. Even if you don’t write in the romance genre, don’t be too quick to dismiss adding the element of romance to your story.

However, just slapping a few romantic moments into a scene or developing a romantic interest to add flavor may not help your story. In fact, it could even sabotage it.

Depending on your genre and plot, your story structure is going to vary. As will the role romance plays in your novel. And this is important to understand.

Romance Threads Need to Serve a Clear Purpose”

3. “Few tasks concentrate the mind more than an assignment to give a 5-minute talk on a publishing panel. Recently, my assignment was: “Lee, since you’ve done books both self-published and with traditional publishers, what are the prospects for both strategies in 2020?”

The subject requested is something I am thinking about constantly.”

4. “We all come to the writing world through different paths, and our starting points encompass countless different experiences and backgrounds. That means we all discover the existence of the writing community in different ways as well.

Some of us might have Googled a question and discovered a helpful author’s blog. Or we might have encountered authors on social media or came across a flyer for a writing workshop. Or we might have noticed the support around an online fandom.

Soon, we realize that most writers support and encourage each other through tons of resources, blog posts, social media, etc. However, it’s also nice to have a more personal writing community that we can reach out to for help.”

5. “A lot of professions use visuals to brainstorm. Storyboarding is an essential tool for filmmakers, while mood boards are used in advertising. If you think about it, the ultimate goal of a writer is to transport their readers into another dimension so completely that they experience words on paper at a visceral level. So plotting a story using visual techniques would seem a natural extension of writing. I imagine many writers do this in some form or another. But what if you could have your pictures all in one place? Enter the muse board.

It would not be surprising if you haven’t heard of this writing technique, because I recently developed it to streamline and improve the efficiency of my writing process.”

Some Things More Serious:

1. “The first time I met him, my father-in-law Art regaled me with stories of the Spanish conquistador who claimed territory and opened trade routes for his queen before he traveled to California, married a local woman and sired Art’s family tree. His connection to this valiant man was a great source of pride, but what he didn’t know was that the story wasn’t true.

I used a genealogy site to uncover all I could about Art’s conquistador connection. I hoped to be able to find documentation of his ancestor’s swashbuckling and present the information to him on his 85th birthday. Unfortunately, I learned the so-called conquistador was, in fact, “Mexican Prisoner Number Four” — a criminal who made his way to California to start a new life after his release.

I’m not sure whether the prisoner sold himself as the conquistador Art believed him to be, or other family members changed the story later to avoid embarrassment. However, the lie came about, my father-in-law and his family aren’t unique. Plenty of families hide skeletons behind more appealing, albeit fictitious, versions of their history. It’s not easy to accept the ugly parts of the past, whether it’s our family’s past, our community’s or our country’s.”

2. “One of my favorite books when I was young was T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, and one of its central themes is the attempt of King Arthur to replace an ethos of “might is right” with something closer to justice. Justice means everyone is equal under the law—and equality means both that everyone has equal value under the law and that everyone is subject to the law. That’s been a foundational concept for the United States, but might is right has never ceased to be how things actually work at least some of the time. In White’s novel, might means in part the capacity for physical violence on the part of individual warriors, armies, tribes, and kingdoms, but the ability of individuals (and corporations and nations) to commit that violence with impunity is another kind of might that matters now.

The great work of investigative journalists in recent years has let us see might, naked and corrupt, doing its best to trample, silence, discredit the less powerful and their rights and with it the idea of right as an ethic independent of power. That these men actually run the media, the government, the financial system says everything about what kind of systems they are. Those systems have toiled to protect them, over and over. Indeed, power is not vested in them but in the individuals and institutions all around them. This makes it essential to look past individual perpetrators to the systems that allow them to commit crimes with impunity.”

3. “What was the first book you fell in love with?
Certainly it’s hard to say, for sure. I’ve loved books for so long! I remember a book calledOur Universe, from National Geographic, which was this big unruly thing, and I remember being most captivated by their painted imaginings of what extraterrestrials from other planets looked like. I remember greedily collecting comic strip collections of Garfield, Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side. I have in my heart books like The Cricket in Times Square, Bunnicula, and everything by Beverly Cleary.

But the first book I remember falling into as if it were a hole dug in the earth—or a hole that went all the way through the Earth and out the other side—was The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. Hell, not just that one, but the whole Prydain Chronicles series. I’ve read The Hobbit and several of the Narnia books, but nothing clicked with me like the Prydain books.”

4. “Composing political poetry is one way a poet can weigh in and share their opinion on current events and politics around the world. These poems tend to critique or defend the social and political issues of the day.

The Poetry shares:

“Plato wanted to banish poets from his Republic because they can make lies seem like truth. Shelley thought poets were “the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and Auden insisted that “poetry makes nothing happen.”

5. “The following is a list of 7 new literary journals. All of these journals have been around for less than six months.

In my experience, there are many reasons to seek publication in these journals. When a literary journal is new, the editors tend to be a lot more passionate. I have gotten handwritten thank you cards from editors of new publications, something that has never happened when my work was published by a more established journal.”

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:




4. “The world is getting uncomfortably warm. At present, much of Europe is suffering under a heat wave of record-breaking temperatures. It’s so hot that piles of manure are spontaneously combustingand setting off wildfires in Spain. Across the pond, mussels looking to cool off on Californian beaches are actually cooking in their shells and starfish are melting. This is not good, to put it mildly.

Meanwhile, in many parts of the United States, you just might not know it. Around 90% of US homes are air-conditioned, compared to a paltry 5% of European homes. In modern buildings, climate is controlled through mechanical means. A heck of a lot of energy is needed to avoid climate realities. Builders in the U.S., especially in more hot and humid climes in the south, are wont to warn homeowners not to even open their windows, lest nature seep in, and mold eat away at the very walls. This is the way many of us live now, isolated from the outdoors.”

5. “Iwouldn’t normally air my dirty literary linen in public, but here goes. When I finished writing my novel Putney, about a 13-year-old girl who has a “love affair” in the 1970s with an older man and realises decades later that it was actually abuse, my previous editor at Jonathan Cape chose not to publish it. The reasons emerged this year when he was interviewed in the Spectator. “If Lolita was offered to me today,” Dan Franklin said, “I’d never be able to get it past the acquisition team – a committee of 30-year-olds, who’d say: ‘If you publish this book we will all resign.’” He pointed to #MeToo and social media as fundamental factors: “You can organise outrage at the drop of a hat.”

Fortunately, Bloomsbury’s acquisition team – overwhelmingly female and mixed aged – were brave enough to take on Putney, which was described in the Observer as “a Lolita for the era of #MeToo”. Whether there was any truth in his words or not, Franklin’s position reveals how much fear now exists in publishing.”

Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “In 1949, Aloysius Archer arrives in the dusty Southern town of Poca City. He has nothing but a handful of dollars, the clothes he’s wearing and an appointment with his new parole officer. After his wartime experiences in Italy and a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Archer is looking for a fresh start and a peaceful life.

On his first night of freedom, Archer meets local business tycoon Hank Pittleman, who promises Archer handsome compensation to work as his debt collector. Yet Archer takes on more than he bargains for, as he becomes embroiled in a long-running feud between the drought-struck town’s most dangerous residents. When one of them dies, the authorities label Archer as their number one suspect.

A bloody game is being played above and below the law. Everybody playing has a deeply buried secret, and Archer must uncover them all – if he’s to avoid going back behind bars.”

2. “Lucas Rockworth—a hard-driving force of nature has been ordered by his
doctor to take some time off and get his blood pressure under
control. You would think buying a cabin in the natural splendor known
as Gray Horse Lake, Idaho, would do the trick. All that mountain
greenery, crystal blue lakes and rivers, and nature-run-amok had to
be exactly what the doctor had ordered.

Enter Sarah Burke…

The innocently enticing young entrepreneur who’s
opening an equestrian camp for children with handicaps.

Her initial impression of him is clearly wrong. For some reason, known to
the reader but unknown to him, Sarah mistakenly believes that Lucas
Rockworth is a shy, sensitive man. After having to deal a lifetime
with a dominating older brother and controlling father, she finds
these traits very appealing.

Her recent breakup with someone who could best be described as a bully
has Sarah longing for a kinder, gentler man in her life.”


A group of explorers arrive in the remote town of Birchlake, Northern California, to investigate the appearance of mysterious stone walls. 


A teenage girl has disappeared without a trace. 


Soon it becomes clear that the two events may be connected in the most terrifying way. Because sometimes the walls we build end up closing us in . . .”

4. A lethal virus is awoken on an abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.

They thought the ship would be their salvation.

Zahra knew every detail of the plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.

But what Zahra and her crew could not know was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the orbiting dead.

And then they woke it up.

5. “Last night I betrayed my husband.

This morning my daughter disappeared.

My husband may have forgiven my first mistake. But he will never forget this.

And so I have to find her.

Before it’s too late. For all of us.”

2 responses to “Five Links 7/12/19 Loleta Abi”

  1. Thanks so much Traci. ❤

    1. You’re welcome, Colleen!

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