Thursday, December 29, 2011

Special New Year's contest!

Yes, you too can own a personally autographed copy of the chilling new novel, "The Missionary and the Brute"! Here's how:

Book signing for my Disney book.
To qualify, there are two easy steps:
  • First - join this site.
  • Then - reply to this thread with a comment and your email address. (Comments are moderated so if your comment does not immediately appear - no worries - it will be added within 24 hours. One comment per entrant please.) 
One lucky winner chosen at random will receive a copy of "The Missionary and the Brute" personally autographed by author John Kenworthy - that's ME!

You know, not everyone in this life knows precisely what they are worth, but I do. Exactly $3.28. Yup. That's right. $THREE DOLLARS and TWENTY-EIGHT CENTS! Woohoo!

How do I know this?

Quite simply that's the average increase in value for autographed copies of my first two books sold on ebay compared to those sold without a signature. $3.28. That means that this prize winning book will have an actual perceived value of $14.95 + $3.28ish...

Not bad.

This contest will be open from now until January 6th. (Over 200 people have registered to win copies of my book on GoodReads. I assume your odds will be much better here!)

I do ask that you please be over 18 years old as this novel has adult elements of sensuality and violence.
After registering - Why don't you stop by other pages on the blog to read about the 'Making of "The Missionary and the Brute"'. I think you'll enjoy.

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wicked humor...

It is somewhat strange that I find "The Missionary and the Brute" to have been so fun to write. It is a dark novel with plenty of death, intrigue, dust, death, sex, depravation and more death. Not everyone walks away from this novel. It is filled with wicked twists, horror-filled tableaus (An avocado placed rudely in a gaping neck wound anyone?), and unsympathetic protagonists. Yet there is something light and humorous within as well. Or so I think...

When I first conceived the novel, I saw the twists and misdirections guiding the path - and as a writer the foreshadowing and leading astray are joys to undertake. But as the bodies piled up, and the mood turned more somber for the characters - I nonetheless still felt a lightness in my literary step.

Some of it was planned.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Best writing books...

Sometimes people ask me what reading material I would recommend for young writers. I have been privileged of late to read a lot of great writing from young writers who are doing quite brilliant stuff and aside from a fresh set of eyes to purvey their work, not sure they really need much more assistance than gentle encouragement to embrace the passion for their art. Sometimes I read work that is so literate, so remarkably, consistently brilliant that I feel as if I have stumbled across a nascent John Irving. Amazing and humbling to witness. (And yes, Sam Kirshaw - I'm talking about you.)

As a writer, I feel I can honestly learn as much from others as I can in teaching them. It's an odd supportive community that somehow oddly works.

But since folks ask, I will trot out my list of helpful tomes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Roman a Clef and the Brute

"Newton, Iowa it was..."

Newton, Iowa it was...
I love that. It's my favorite line from "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac by far and for reason. I love it because Newton, Iowa - don't you know - is my hometown. I was born there and grew up there. I spent a couple of decades of my existence in that small midwestern industrial community and felt it was an absolutely lovely place in which to be born and raised.

Newton born; Newton bred; when we die, we'll be Newton dead.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Hey... we're finally on the charts - "The Missionary and the Brute" is now #975,535 in Books on (My previous books are "The Hand Behind the Mouse" - #227,909 and "Bungee Jumping & Cocoons" - #3,311,955). So it is nestled nice and snuggly betwixt the two for now. More and more people are following this blog and are LIKE-ing "The Missionary and the Brute" on GoodReads, Amazon, LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook, so I am happy the word is getting out and know that those numbers will grow and grow! Thanks so much for sharing with your friends. Keep up the good work!

It's not too late to order your own copy with delivery in time for Christmas. If you have a reader who enjoys challenging adult, literary horror - order now here or on Amazon! Great late night fireplace reading. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Fiddler on the Hut

There is a certain device that some writers have used wherein they populate an otherwise natural story with a character so unique as to be wholly unreal. The classic case of this is the title character of "The Fiddler on the Roof". The Fiddler plays a very real role as being one of Tevya's village-mates, but yet has a more important role as an otherworldly symbol as well. It is almost as if the Fiddler is the very conscience of the play. What he plays upon his violin, is the pure ethereal thread of hope and light that sustains. Even though it is not a speaking part, it is an essential role - one that is part mime, part soundtrack, part Greek Chorus, and every bit amazing as a unifying element.

There are similar character elements throughout literature - from the Fiddler to Beatrice in Dante's "Il Purgatorio" to Jiminy Cricket.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview on Indie Blog

A new interview of me is now live on Kris Wampler's blog about Independent Writers. As a writer himself (Love Train) Kris is interested in the ever-changing way books go to market and the Indie Writing scene in general. Not sure I said anything overly profound or insightful here, but I think it is interesting nonetheless. Enjoy!

Here is the opening bit of his interview.

Interview: John Kenworthy

John Kenworthy is the quintessential eclectic writer, using his various life experiences to craft his writing. In this interview, John discusses how he uses social media and how he directs much of his marketing to independent bookstores.

1. Tell me briefly about your books – what are they about and what motivated you to write them?

My first book, The Hand About the Mouse: An Intimate Biography of Ub Iwerks, was published by Disney in 2001. Co-written with Ub’s granddaughter, Leslie, we tell the compelling story of one of the most amazing minds in entertainment history. Ub is the forgotten man. For me personally, I have always been drawn to those geniuses who work seemingly without ego behind the scenes to lift up technology and art – and Ub is an incredible example of that.

Read more at:

And while you're there - check out his book, Love Train!

Friday, December 9, 2011

What color pen?

Sometimes young writers are intrigued as to the pure mechanics of writing a novel. I know I was.

Notebook, computer, pda or typewriter?

Pen or pencil?

What color pen?
Black lately but I once wrote a really good short story in green ink so I standardized on that for a year!

Truthfully. It doesn't matter as long as it works for the individual writer, but still we try to find that magic combination.

Way back when, there was a magazine called SMART. It was the perfect magazine for me - hit me where I lived... brilliantly written, clever, cultural and aesthetically really cool.

I recall that there was once an article about Hunter S. Thompson and part of it detailed the mechanics. He used to put his chapters in plastic bags and pin them to his bulletin board. That was his organizational technique. Since I was a fan of Hunter and struggled with organizing my writing - I tried his method.

Didn't do so great.

My chapters kept falling off the bulletin board. I used bags that were too small so the chapters squished in awkwardly. And it was cumbersome to my nervous reading and re-reading to always be going in and out of the bags. It worked for Hunter. Not for me.

My technique of writing "The Missionary and the Brute" is pretty much the standard one I have come to adopt for all my writing. I begin writing in a notebook. (For "The Hand Behind the Mouse" I used spiral notebooks. They are all stacked in bankers boxes in storage. For "Bungee Jumping & Cocoons" I used composition books.) With age, I have become snobbish and have come to love the nice notebooks with leatherette covers and latches...

I tend to write/scrawl/draw quite rapidly. The words fly out upon the page for the first draft. Sometimes I can even read them later if I'm lucky. The main thing for me is to get something on that blank page. Words, thoughts, sentences, and then I'm off and running...

After I have a chapter done in the notebook, I transfer to the computer. Using Microsoft Word, I type the text in. This is really my second pass at the writing. I tidy up some things here and there, but mostly I just deepen it, enhance it and give it more resonance. Sometimes in my notebooks, I leave huge gaps knowing that there is a transition to be filled in later, those get filled as I type.

Then I print it out.

Usually it sits for a bit because I'm onto the next chapter in the notebook, but eventually I'll find a peaceful time to read what I have done thus far. On the printed out version - I edit it further with all kinds of scrawls and self-made diacritical marks. This is usually quite messy. For even though I have 'written' twice, this is polishing and making it resonant. Very critical time in the process for me.

To make this process manageable for me, I use a spreadsheet to document my routine. Typically I set myself a reachable daily goal in terms of words written. It is accumulated so I know what my total goal is for the book and how I am progressing. I tend to be really realistic in my numbers. I have never NOT made my quota. And in fact as I get into it, I adjust my quotas - typically up quite significantly - to accommodate my current pace.

When it is all done - I let it sit for a few months. Simmering in a drawer. Clearing the head of all preconceived encumbrances. And then I go back in and re-read my paper copy, edit and scrawl again (usually minimal - whew!) and then call it complete.

Sometimes I make an X on the title page to signify closure...

... in red ink.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hey, Look Inside!

Just rolled out on the Amazon page for "The Missionary and the Brute" is the LOOK INSIDE feature. Now you can get a sneak peek at the first pages of the book without giving away too much. Way cool! Check it out here: LOOK INSIDE

And while you're there - how about signing in and LIKEing my book!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Palahniuk: the king of transgressive novelists...

"The Missionary and the Brute" could rightly be categorized as being 'transgressive fiction'. It is an unrelenting look at the characters of a group of people interacting in a land that strips away all pretense to the bare-knuckle bones of raw intensity. There are few idealized characters, opting instead for rich portraits of people on their own journeys of suffering and turmoil. A few have devolved into beasts that contradict the strictures of a civilized culture that thus created them. In these ways it is transgressive and well in keeping with some of the other novels on our shelves thus labeled.

Labels, as always, are limiting and not completely accurate, but there are certain novelists whose work does indeed fall largely in this category. The king among these is Chuck Palahniuk. Bursting on the literary scene with the absolutely incendiary "Fight Club", Chuck's subsequent work has walked much the same treacherous terrain as that - his most famous novel. "Fight Club" is rightly deemed a classic. My gosh. It shines the harsh light of reality in the face of some aspects of our world in a unique and quite disturbing way. (Disturbing in a good way.) Boiled down to one sentence it can be summed up as 'we spend so much time psychically beating ourselves up that the act of beating ourselves up becomes the thing for which we beat ourselves up...'

Or something like that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What do you want to know about "The Missionary and the Brute"?

From time to time - I'll open this up to do an informal interview on here. Post your comments and I'll answer them as best I am able. Try not to spoil anything if you have read the book, and I'll do the same. But I would be happy to answer your messages.

One of the zillion lessons I have learned from Anne Rice is the loving care she takes with her readers. Despite her extreme success she still answers her own mail because it's important. For those of us who are nowhere near Anne's stature, we have much humility to learn from that.

So what do you want to know? About the book? About the process? About the characters, setting, style? About Africa? About me as a writer? Give it a whirl...

For the best question (from now until next Tuesday) I'll reward an autographed copy of the book.
(If your comments don't post immediately be patient, I'll release them as I'm able).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Book Trailer - YouTube

I just added a little video 'book trailer' to YouTube. Simply a teaser to entice folks to have an interest in the book. Enjoy and share. I'm trying to spread the word far and wide about the unique work of art that is "The Missionary and the Brute".

Thanks for watching.

Friday, December 2, 2011

MIS- oh, wait, what's that moving over there? - DIRECTION...

Misdirection is key to "The Missionary and the Brute". I had the idea from the very start that nothing would be as it seemed. I wanted to disorient and slightly confuse the reader at times as to place and time and I wanted to lead them astray with every step.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Foremost is that it's darned fun to do. I especially work this at transitional scenes. I will pose a hypothetical question at the end of a chapter and sometimes literally answer it in the beginning of the next. Only it may or may not be the real answer - it may just seem that way. Like the time when I tell you that the killer is actually...