Three Links 4/9/2020 Loleta Abi

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Three Links 4/10/2020

Loleta Abi


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

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.” This is a good tension provider. Man wants woman but so does another man. Or vice versa.

2. “All I want to do is have coffee with my parents under a shade tree.

It’s day 30 of self-isolating in the era of Covid-19. I’m sixty-five and immunosuppressed (a double-organ transplant patient) so I started drawing back during my spring break from N.C. State. The first week, I went out for groceries and once to the garden shop, where I found, of all things, hand sanitizer—along with the pansies I felt I must have to power through these weeks. 

Today, for the first time, I’m depressed. Maybe it’s the one month mark. Maybe it’s the Sunday blues. Maybe my husband and I are getting on each other’s last nerve. Maybe I’m depressed because the number of deaths in the U.S. doubled in the last forty-eight. 

At first I imagined a bullet discharged from a gun on the other side of the world was barreling to the bullseye of my heart. Now I worry about everyone else.

My parents are dead so I can’t have coffee with them. My father died in 2000, my mother in 2014. Even if they were living, they would be, presumably, self-isolating as I am and in a facility on lockdown.”

3. Schafer, also writing as Kerry Anne King, is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestseller  family drama, Whisper Me This. Check out her new podcast, Write Healthy, Write Whole, featuring tips on mind, body, spirit and creative health for writers. 

 Over the last few days I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster, cycling through tears, anxiety, anger, frustration, laughter, and random moments of joy. My brain alternates from a state akin to a herd of cats turned loose at a laser show, to feeling like it’s caught in quicksand and the smallest twitch of a neuron will bury it forever. I’ve needed to lie down a lot, my body just suddenly deciding that it’s exhausted for no particular reason.

This, my friends, is grief. Deep, pervasive, life-altering grief on a global and dramatic scale.

I’m familiar with grief, personally and professionally, but in this case it’s taken me awhile to recognize it for what it is. I haven’t lost anybody I love to this #&#@!! virus, at least not yet. I’ve still got my job. I know I’m blessed to be able to say both of these things, but all of us, even the most fortunate, have lost our ordinary, taken-for-granted reality. 

Restaurants. Social gatherings large and small. Conferences and book launches. Weddings and funerals and graduation ceremonies. Many of us have families home full-time and we’ve lost the luxury of long stretches of uninterrupted writing and thinking time. 

The process of grief impacts our creative lives, sometimes in unexpected ways. I have friends who are completely immersed in words right now as the ultimate escape strategy, barely coming up for air. I have friends who are finding it almost impossible to focus. Some of us (me) are getting words written but it’s damn hard slogging. And some of us are doing well to get out of bed.

The grieving process—and how it impacts our writing—is highly individualized, so I can’t offer a clear roadmap that reads How to Write While Grieving for the Effects of a Pandemic. But I can offer what has worked for me. Take what feel helpful and ignore the rest, keeping in mind that what feels right on one day might be all wrong the next.”

Research & Fun Bits:

1. “I had a reasonable opportunity to do some writing today, and squandered it away. This is my two day weekend, and Old What’s Her Face is off. That makes it kind of hard, but not impossible.

I dabbled. I switched back to Lanternfish, but it probably didn’t amount to 300 words. I also made some adjustments to an earlier part of the story. Nothing too Earth shattering.

Mostly, there were some decent movies on television. A couple of old James Garner comedies were on, back-to-back. I keep thinking I create wild characters, but I have a long way to go. Watching Harry Morgan and Dub Taylor yell at each other was hilarious. I’m calling it a study session.”

2. “Those of you who have been following Harmony Kent’s series on how to publish with KDP will want to check out her post on Story Empire today. She gives a very comprehensive explanation of how to create a cover for a paperback novel, and you’ll probably want to save this for future reference. Enjoy, and pass it along if you can, so that others can learn from it, too. Thanks, and thanks, Harmony, for such a well thought-out and informative post! 🙂


Some Things More Serious:


2. “During shelter-in-place I’ve been reading Italian writer Elsa Morante’s supremely adroit and quietly enthralling World War II novel History, that turning point in human civilization experienced on the subdued wartime streets of Rome. Morante writes with studied precision about the two men dominating the lives of her characters, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Both, she wrote (in the English translation by William Weaver), were “sick with a vindictive sense of inferiority” that warps and distorts their unfulfilled dreams.

It’s hard not to think these days, in the grist of the coronavirus pandemic, about the human cost of the vindictive sense of male inferiority. It’s playing out nearly everywhere, from Australia to Brazil to Chile, to England, Mexico, and certainly the United States, where small, frightened men seemingly incapable of preparation, careful study, or collaboration have turned a significant public health challenge into an unnecessary global crisis of mass suffering. Notably, given the domination of men shaping the response, Covid-19 is far more deadly to men; the Washington Post estimates that males account for 60 percent of fatalities worldwide.”

3. “I’ve said before that the most important question we can ask when it comes to our writing is why. That question helps us get in touch with every aspect of our story.

Let’s dig into all the ways that asking why can help our storytelling, even helping us escape generic or cliché writing…

The Basis of Storytelling is the Question “Why?”

We’ve probably heard that many authors come up with their story idea by thinking of a “what if?” What if a woman’s lottery win leads to trouble?

Okay, what about it? That’s a story seed, but it’s not yet a story. Why would we care about this woman or her troubles?

Instead of what if?, a question that better gets us to the heart of a story might be why?

    • Why would a lottery win lead to trouble?” helps us find the story to go with that initial situation.
    • Why are these troubles happening now and not earlier?” helps us find where our story should start.
    • Why would readers care?” helps us figure out what’s going to make our story special.

In short, the question of why helps us discover and develop additional layers of our story. Without digging into the why, our story will be shallower.

I’ve posted before about two specific ways that asking why can help our story: editing and character motivations. Let’s review those first and then talk about how the question also helps us escape clichéd writing.” Asking why gives us specifics. What a great idea and way to look at things! We need to do more of us during outlining as well as revision.

Teaser Fiction & Poetry:




Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author Interviews:

1. “In 19th century Paris, Justin Trotter, an immigrant from England, is making his way as a book translator while paying for his blind twin sister’s care. One evening, Marc Noël, Justin’s well-to-do friend and fellow thespian, invites him to a masquerade party at an abandoned schoolhouse. Justin hopes this will be an opportunity to get to know Marc’s lovely though sharp-tongued sister, Francine.

At the event, Justin meets four ghostly strangers—two adults and two children—who warn him that the party guests are in danger, and they must leave at once. True to their prediction, a murder takes place, and Justin is the prime suspect. He escapes and becomes a fugitive, hiding in the Paris catacombs.

Mystery and intrigue swirl as the ghost of Joan of Arc and other martyrs guide Justin on a lonely journey to prove his innocence and protect his sister from an abusive caretaker. Who really committed the crime? Marc? Francine? A ghost? And does seeing these ghosts mean he is going insane? Maybe he really is the murderer after all.”

2. “In his relatively short literary career, Danish philosopher, Sǿren Kierkegaard, challenged the religious orthodoxy of his age with a series of exquisitely penned philosophical works which he placed before the reading public under a plethora of different aliases.

All these writings addressed the spiritual concerns of his age and, on a broader note, questioned just what it means to be human. Losing the ability to think for ourselves, and to question the decisions of a ruling elite, for Kierkegaard, was a prelude to surrendering our very freedom as a people.

Recognising alarming parallels with our own times, and taking Kierkegaard’s classic, Fear and Trembling as a start, author and essayist, Stuart France, heads straight to the heart of the Jewish and Christian spiritual traditions with this poetic foray into high ideas…”

3. “Where Are You Now? (2008) by Mary Higgins Clark is an enthralling read which holds your interest throughout.

The plot follows 26-year-old law graduate Carolyn MacKenzie whose older brother Mack went missing ten years previously. However, each year she and her mother receive a message on Mother’s Day from Mack. In the decade since Mack has mysteriously disappeared, seemingly out of nowhere, Carolyn’s and Mack’s father has passed away in the 9/11 attacks. Following a possible sighting of her brother and a note left by Mack warning Carolyn to stay away, Carolyn is on a mission to find out what really happened once and for all and to try to put some closure on the torment and pain she has felt since he has been gone. Her mission brings her into much danger from those who don’t want her poking her nose into the past and finding out secrets related to Mack’s disappearance and for their own reasons separate from it. While Carolyn begins her investigations, a young woman Leesey Andrews goes missing and it soon becomes apparent that the two cases are connected in one way or another.

I really like Carolyn as a character. I think her passion and strength drives a lot of this book forward and you find yourself rooting for her to complete her mission and find some peace. The plot is incredibly engrossing and flows with a gorgeously interesting ease from page to page. The cast of suspects is wide and we learn so much about each of them as well as the family and those missing. My only downside to this book is that I could partly work out from the page I met one of those involved that they were involved. Not meaning to give too much away but there is one than one person involved. I got one part of it and I felt it was very obvious. That was a shame because otherwise this book is splendid but sadly the killer cannot be obvious and one part of this reveal was from very early on. However that aside, I found this a very enjoyable read. I loved the main character which really made the book very character-driven in a way which I absolutely love. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and hearing more about these characters’ lives and what they were hiding.”

2 responses to “Three Links 4/9/2020 Loleta Abi”

  1. Thank you, much appreciated. Hope you are keeping safe. 🙂

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