Friday, August 31, 2012

Cover Reveal for RISE OF A RECTOR, by Heather McCorkle

I'm lucky enough to know Heather well and to have spent many hours with her at writers' retreats, conferences, cocktail bars and bookstores and more, and she's seriously cool. So are her young adult paranormal books. It's an honor to help with her cover reveal for her latest novel: RISE OF A RECTOR. Here it is . . . enjoy!

It's finally here, the cover reveal for Heather McCorkle's Rise of a Rector, the final novel in her channeler series (due out this October). To celebrate Heather is giving away two copies of her historical fantasy novel, To Ride A Puca. Before we get to that though, here is the cover:

To add it to your Goodreads lists click here. If you'd like to check out the rest of the channeler series (her novella Born of Fire is now FREE on Amazon & B&N!) you can do so on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. To win an eBook of To Ride A Puca, all you have to do is help Heather spread the word. There will be two winners! To enter fill out the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Week's E-book News

E-Book News:

For the first time, an e-book has been nominated for the International Thriller Writer Awards, reports Digital Book World (DBW). The author of the nominated novella is James Scott Bell.  By sheer coincidence, Bell was the writer featured in my Monday post this week for his advice on how to structure a piece of dramatic writing. I just saw the DBW write-up yesterday. Weird!  But more to the point, the industry is changing in dramatic ways very fast, now.

Also from DBW, a new, weekly bestseller list for e-books. I'm predicting this will gain traction fast.

Then there's this: a less optimistic look at e-reading trends as predicted by Forbes Magazine in an article on the effect of Tablets, like the iPad, on e-reading. Will readers read less? The author predicts, among other things, that because tablets are more appealing in many ways that straight e-readers, readers will be distracted by other capabilities of their tablet and spend less time actually reading books they've uploaded to them. Therefore:

  • " The rise of e-books and e-reading might slow.
  •  Publishers have to start thinking about content in new ways."
An interesting read. We seem to be on a fast path of change, but with no end in sight. Are there changes in the publishing world that you're particularly noticing right now?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Novel Structure: James Scott Bell's LOCK System

James Scott Bell is a fiction writer, an author of outstanding books on writing (including one of my favorites, The Art of War for Writers), and an excellent teacher. I attended a seminar of his at the San Diego State University Writers Conference last year. Below is a reprise of what Bell said about how to structure a novel. He made the point that these guidelines hold true for all dramatic writing, whether genre or literary. His examples are taken from the movies, which he explained as perfect for observing structure in action, and totally transferable to dramatic writing.

Bell calls his structure system LOCK.
L: Lead
O: Opposition
C: Confrontation
K: Knockout

L is the Lead Character. Readers get into a novel by bonding with the character. You want to open with a Boom! Pull readers in right away. The lead character in trouble works well. This will immediately interest readers and get them rooting for the character.
1. trouble for the character/imminent jeopardy
2. hardship, not of the character's own making, and the character doesn't whine about it. Example: Forrest Gump
3. inner conflict—two voices in the character's head: a) "you have to do this," and b) fear (usually)
4. vulnerability: at any point this character could be smashed by forces arraigned against her
5. no wimps: can start out there, but must see change very quickly

You are shooting for your character to display inner strength and likability.

Likability often comes from a character who cares about others. Bell suggests a technique for incorporating this characteristic. It is called the pet the dog or save the cat beat. (He spoke in terms of 'beats,' as in music.) This is where the character takes a moment to protect someone else while they are themselves in great jeopardy.

For example, Harrison Ford in The Fugitive: the moment when Tommy Lee Jones (U.S. Marshall)' hunt for him is closing in. HF (aka Dr. Richard Kimball) has figured out part of the truth about who murdered his wife and framed him for the crime, and is in Cook County Hospital in Chicago tracking down the proof he needs, with the U.S. Marshalls hot on his trail, when he sees an injured boy on a gurney in the overcrowded, understaffed hospital. He risks blowing his cover and getting caught by taking an interest in the boy, talking to him and realizing (because he's a great doctor), that this boy will die without immediate surgery. As HF forges a doctor's signature on an order for surgery and wheels the gurney to the surgical suite, the Feds are bursting through the front doors of the hospital in pursuit of him. We LOVE this lead character, who demonstrates his humanity in a moment of personal peril. His act of kindness can get him in more trouble. It raises the stakes and his likabilty.

O is Objective: the main goal of the character for the novel. It has to be about impending death. This can be:
1. physical death
2. professional death—if the character fails, their professional life will either be over or severely damaged. (For example, Clarisse Starling in Silence of the Lambs.)
3. psychological death—this is the key to category romance, for example. If the one great love is lost, that's death.

The Objective can take two forms: to get something, or to get away from something. The stakes are death. You must make the stakes matter to the character that much. These things have to be thought through before you start writing.

C is Confrontation: the opposition character. The opposition must be stronger than the lead character. The opposition character doesn't have to be a villain. It can be someone with the opposite agenda (e.g. U.S. Marshall Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive). But you need to explain the opposition character's justification, so the reader feels some sympathy. Fully justify who they are, be able to crawl into their skin, and ask yourself, why do I love this character?

K is Knockout Ending: the reader thinks, this is the perfect ending, but I didn't see it coming.

Endings are the hardest things to write because each is unique to the story.

Think of the climax as the final battle: inside and outside. Inner conflict. Example: Casablanca—the final battle is inside Rick. He can have Ilsa, but at a moral cost. He makes the moral choice and loses Ilso, but his reward is he becomes a full person again and rejoins the war effort.

As writers, we all know that guidelines are only guidelines. Great writers break rules all the time, and the rules presented here by James Scott Bell are beautifully effective but malleable, based on your personal approach. Some outstanding books, for example, open with elegant descriptive passages of settings. Nonetheless, it is still important that they get to the importance of that setting to the character soon. 

Do you write to a structure, or does the structure of your novel unfold as you write? If the latter, do you go back and make sure it is consistent with guidelines?

Friday, August 24, 2012


~ What's more important—love or money?
~ Would you rather be a teacher or a student?
~ Are you a task-oriented person or an idea person?
~ Do you define success as recognition/reward, or happiness/contentment?

These are trick questions. We live in a binary world, where questions about success are set up as binary opposites that make us think most people are either one or the other. The truth is likely to be not so crystal-clear, either/or.

Those questions are great for helping us develop characters in our writing, especially minor characters, who might strongly display one leaning or another. But major characters, like us, will have more layers and contradictions. Plenty of us have split personalities on these issues, or maybe omnivorous personalities, if there is such a thing. We want parts of it all. And that makes us normal, if a little frustrated and confused.

So what kind of mindset does translate into success in writing? After spending my time and energy on manuscripts, and questioning myself because people who know and care about me think I must be a little crazy to keep going without that mega-$millions contract, I've stumbled across a couple of home truths.

OneIt's about the work. If you care more about the quality of your work than you do about being recognized for your work, you will likely be recognized for your work. (It's no mistake that paradox is a fundamental truth in great literature.)

Two: To succeed, it's necessary to complete the projectIf this is true for you, too (I say that because there are people—one or two—who don't feel this way), then, you can adopt part of a success model from 'the outside world' where people don't do 'what-if'-hypothetical work so much. A key to success there is task orientation.  Get things done. One at a time. Break your project down into the pieces you need to accomplish, whatever they are (and you may find more layers and more pieces as time goes on). Focus on completing those, one little piece at a time. That was a tough one for me to get my mind around for a while, since, as a young adult, and even well into my business career, my answer to the third question at the beginning of this post was "I'm an idea person, of course!!" Seriously? Who isn't, in the writing world? Writers who know how to make their ideas work are successful. And 'work' here means completing the tasks of writing.

That's what works for me. But we are not all the same, thank goodness. What mindset works best for you?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ingram Sees Big Changes Ahead for the Retail Book Market

This week's issue of Publishers Weekly includes an article by Phil Ollila, Chief Content Officer of Ingram Content Group, that, based on a mass of data they've collected, offers a number of changes Ingram expects to see in the book retail market.

First, a little background on Ingram Content Group: they are a U.S. based service provider to the book publishing industry formed in 2009 as Ingram Lightning Group (if you've published a book independently, you may be familiar with Lightning Source, which is one of the Content Group's operating units). Ingram Content Group has the industry's largest active book inventory with access to 7.5 million titles, according to Wikipedia, and is a major distributor for independent book stores. In addition to print distribution, they provide digital content services and distribution.

Some findings from Ingram's data (which is all from their own sales and distribution, and largely focused on independent book stores):

  • Unit sales have declined in independent bookstores, but the number of unique titles have gone up. In other words, independents are buying more 'unique' books, but selling less units overall. Ingram sees this as a problem for independents.
  • Independents are still focused on fiction (68% of what they buy from Ingram is fiction, 32% is nonfiction). However, the opportunities for independents, based on the data, are to "develop category strengths outside of fiction." In other words, independents would be well advised to carry more nonfiction titles.
  • Fiction is shifting to e-book formats, and aggressive discounting in fiction in internet and mass merchant channels makes competitive pricing difficult for independent bookstores.
  • Fiction sales are largely concentrated in a low number of titles and few publishers, primarily the big six.
  • "Going Vertical' is a good option, meaning "communities will be built around enthusiastic categories." He doesn't mention it, but think Mystery Bookstores or SciFi Bookstores.
  • If you are a nonfiction writer, here are the categories Ollila thinks will do best at independents: travel, cooking, art, and other visual or reference.
  • The industry has changed toward easier developing, editing, acquiring and distributing books (by people who are not traditional publishers), so publishers, Olilla thinks, will have to acquire better content, market to both retail accounts and consumers more specifically, and be prepared to contend with a huge number of competitive titles.
  • Prediction: a massive change in distribution strategies for publishers. Many will trade their infrastructure and distribution costs for content development money. "The most nimble publishers will have great content, marketing, and distribution reach—and no back office or warehouse."
There's more, but this is enough to chew on . . . and chew and chew. Of course it's important to keep in mind who this information is coming from--a non-traditional and fast growing book distributor and producer with a focus on independent bookstores and e-books. Ollila does make his points somewhat difficult to understand with a lot of insider language, but nonetheless, this does appear to be solid information worth considering. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

When and How to Tell, Not Show

Show, don't tell, is perhaps the most often quoted axiom for fiction writers. And for good reason. Telling is distancing and takes the reader away from the story to be 'informed' about something by the author, unless it's done just right.

But there are times when telling is an important choice. Describing a setting is an example of when telling often works best. In fact, descriptions in general, whether of settings or characters or even action, can benefit from deft telling. Such descriptions tend to be more involving for the reader. They allow the reader to feel a connection to the characters and their dilemmas in a surrounding, contextual sense, like they're there with them.

As a writer, you need to develop good techniques for telling. So how do you do that?

The key, as Elizabeth Lyon explains in her book on writing, A Writer's Guide to Fiction, is to avoid distancing by making sure the telling doesn't sound like it's in the author's voice. It needs to come from the character's voice and express a legitimate character need, not the author's need to describe the setting or character or action.

Here's an example from a classic—F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night. We are with the protagonist, a young psychiatrist named Dick Diver. Diver is an American who has been in France for a while, doing his duty as a non-combat officer in W.W. I, and has just come to Zurich, Switzerland to pursue his career. Here is Fitzgerald telling us, through Dick Diver, what Zurich is like:

"It was a damp April day, with long diagonal clouds over the Albishorn and water inert in the low places. Zurich is not unlike an American city. Missing something ever since his arrival two days before, Dick perceived that it was the sense he had had in finite French lanes that there was nothing more. In Zurich there was a lot besides Zurich—the roofs upled the eyes to tinkling cow pastures, which in turn modified hilltops further up—so life was a perpendicular starting off to a postcard heaven. . . "

Not only do we get a clear description of how Zurich looked and felt to Dick Diver on that April day, we get a sense of what he is looking for, what he's open to, and what he's perceiving in relation to those things. At the moment of this description, readers know that Diver is a young man at a pivotal point in his professional development, and his new life in Zurich is related to that development. We can intuit what Zurich offers him (at least in his mind) from the description. The possibilities seem infinite to Diver (as opposed to 'finite lanes offering nothing more' in France).  Fitzgerald, master that he was, also slips in the danger of stagnation for Dick if he doesn't enthusiastically pursue his good opportunities in Zurich. This is done with the small phrase, 'and water inert in the low places,' a metaphor for moral stagnation.

Telling is not only for writers of literary novels, though. Here's an example from a fast-paced suspense story by Robert Crais (Chasing Darkness), in which police officers are doing an emergency evacuation door-to-door because of fire in a steep, heavily populated canyon near Los Angeles. They are about to discover a body . . .

"When they reached the top of Lookout Mountain, they started door-to-door. If the inhabitants weren't already in the act of evacuating, Beakman knocked and rang the bell, then pounded on the jamb with his Maglite. . . . When they reached the first cross street, Trenchard joined him. The cross street cut up a twisting break in the ridge and was lined with clapboard cabins and crumbling stone bungalows that had probably been built in the thirties. The lots were so narrow that most of the houses sat on top of their own garages."

This is all telling, and yet it's so clearly a statement of what these men are facing (and perceiving) in an urgent situation that it feels necessary to the story. Next comes more description, broken up with action and dialogue, when they get to a door that no one answers:

Trenchard used his own Maglite on the door.
"Police officers. This is an emergency. Please open the door."
Both of them leaned close to listen, and that's when Beakman caught the sour smell. Trenchard smelled it, too, . . .
Trenchard holstered his Maglite. Beakman stepped back, figuring Trenchard was going to kick down the door, but Trenchard just tried the knob and opened it. A swarm of black flies rode out on the smell, engulfed them, then flew back into the house. Beakman swatted at the flies. He didn't want them to touch him, not after where they had been.

Again, the description all comes from the characters' needs, observations, feelings; so it all works to deepen the story and move it forward.

One more example, from Elizabeth Lyon's book (p. 164, A Writer's Guide to Fiction). Here she shows us the difference between good and bad telling with a self-description by the point-of-view character in a story. (This is one of the hardest descriptions to pull off). First, the bad version, as created by Lyon:

"Mazy stood five-foot-nine inches and, since twelve years old, might best be described as ample. By the time she reached seventeen years old, ample had been replaced by "large." That's how she saw herself."

And here's how the author of the actual story (Jane Kirkpatrick, All Together in One Place) narrated this character description from Mazy's point of view :

"Finished, Mazy stood, brushed dirt from her ample knees. Ample. Ever since she was twelve years old and stood head to head with her father's five-foot-nine inch frame, she'd thought of herself as ample. By the time she turned seventeen and married Jeremy Bacon, a man twice her age and exactly her height, the image of herself as large was as set as a wagon wheel in Wisconsin's spring mud."

Kirkpatrick's rendering of the description tells us worlds about Mazy and how she feels about herself and what her life's been like. The 'bad' description, on the other hand, seems to tell us how Mazy looked from others' viewpoint, which she adopted herself. Nothing more.

Narrative, or telling, does slow a manuscript down, so we don't want to overuse it. However, it definitely has its place, and if it is done well, the reader will not only experience a satisfying sense of place, character, etc., but will keep turning those pages.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'm on a mini-break for the weekend, Back Monday. Hope to see you then! :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Used e-Books May Now Be Sold

If you are the author of a book that is sold as an e-book, you may be able to gain additional revenue from that book in the near future through its resale in used form in a digital marketplace called ReDigi.

ReDigi is a company that sells digitally pre-owned music, and is poised to do the same with pre-owned e-books. It calls itself "the world's first pre-owned digital marketplace." The company partners with iTunes to sell its digital files. (It cannot partner with Amazon, presumably because Amazon is not willing.)

Currently there's a lawsuit against ReDigi by Capitol Records that claims copyright infringement and is trying to shut the company down, but ReDigi executives say this is a mere blip that will not be a problem for them. According to an article in the July 30 issue of Publisher's Weekly (ReDigi Plans to Sell Used E-Books), "(i)f ReDigi prevails in court, it could upend the way e-books and other digital products are sold, since such products would get a second life on the resale market and provide a new revenue stream for publishers and authors."

In the music world, ReDigi is working directly with artists rather than the record labels, because of the lawsuit, and paying the artists 20% of the sale of their pre-owned music. With e-books, the company "plans to pay authors through their publishers. Publishers and authors will get paid in cash; sellers get cash or credit in their ReDigi account."

Cost to consumers is what is driving the marketplace that ReDigi envisions for pre-owned e-books. The lower price of e-books versus paper books is a major factor in many consumers' choice to read e-books, and ReDigi believes that the even lower price of pre-owned e-books creates huge market potential.

The e-revolution just keeps getting more interesting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Building Blocks: Use of Adjectives and Adverbs

The more you write, the more sophisticated you become in your use of language, unless you're not paying attention. :-) Even writers who've written several books, however, often get a little lazy and fall back on bad habits from their early days, and that can be deadly to the quality of the writing. A common problem is one that is often covered: overuse of adjectives and adverbs, which translates into sloppy sentences that are not tight, and drag the momentum of the story away from its essence.

It's worth it to remind ourselves of the basics on this issue. Literary agent Noah Lukeman, in his book on writing, The First Five Pages, covers this topic at the outset of his book. Below is a list of the points he makes, and an exercise he suggests that is great for all writers to go back to with every book they write, in my opinion. Combine these guidelines with Priscilla Long's suggestions for using concrete nouns and verbs (see July 23 post), and you've got what you need to be sure your writing style will be strong enough to catch the attention of discerning readers.

Lukeman's reasons why manuscripts heavy on adjectives and adverbs don't usually work:

  • More is less. A string of adjectives or adverbs can confuse the reader.
  • It can be demeaning to the reader when the writer fills in every last detail for him.
  • It is often preferable to leave things blank and force the reader to use his imagination (and thereby become more involved in the manuscript).
  • Writers who overuse adjectives/adverbs tend to use common ones . . . and the hackneyed result is immediately apparent.
  • Adjectives and adverbs often, ironically, weaken their subjects.
  • The overall effect of (too many) adjectives and adverbs and the inevitable commas in between makes for very slow, awkward reading.

Lukeman's suggestions for overcoming this problem:

  • Cut back your usage. When deciding where to cut, there are three places to look: 1) where more than one adjective or adverb is used. Remove all but one. 2) where commonplace or cliché adjectives are used—a "hot" day, for instance. Cut these. 3) where strong or unusual nouns or verbs have been used (if strong enough, they don't need to be modified by an adjective or adverb).
  • Replace your existing adjectives and adverbs with more unusual ones. (The existing ones are those that remain after you've cut the unneeded ones.)
  • Strengthen your nouns and verbs so you don't need adjectives and adverbs. (See my July 23 post)
  • Occasionally substitute a comparison (analogy, simile, or metaphor) for an adjective. You can say "He ran his office like a ship" instead of "He ran a clean, well-organized office," for example.

And here's a paraphrase of the eye-opening, easy exercise Lukeman suggests:

  • Remove every adjective and adverb from your first page, and list them separately. Now read the first page aloud (without the adjectives and adverbs). . . . Are your major ideas still conveyed without them?
  • Look at your list of removed adjectives and adverbs and cross out those that are common or cliché. Beside each crossed out word write a less expected replacement. Insert the replacements in your page and read aloud. How does it sound?
  • Remove every noun or verb from your manuscript's first page and list them separately. Cross out each that is commonplace or cliché, and write a less expected replacement. Insert replacements in your first page and read aloud. How does it sound now?
  • Finally, rewrite the first page completely, using no adjectives or adverbs at all. See how this forces you to come up with strong nouns and verbs. Can any of these be incorporated?
Once you've done this exercise, pick and choose which changes you want to use for a stronger, better first page.

Obviously, Lukeman is not saying to get rid of modifiers altogether. (I notice he used quite a few adjectives and adverbs himself in his discussion.) Not overusing, and selecting less common modifiers can make a huge, positive difference, though. Do you love using great adjectives and adverbs, or do you love cutting them? Do you have suggestions/favorites to share?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Doing What Comes Naturally

The past ten days have been a whirlwind of nearby travel for me, including a big family reunion in the mountain states with four generations, ages ranging from brand new to ninety-three (I hadn't seen a few of those people for years); a trip to the Oregon coast with some of the family; and a lot of catching up—shopping, eating, drinking, talking. Whew. I'm tired, but it's been an excellent ten days.

I hadn't thought about it, but these kinds of concentrated interpersonal experiences are loaded with creative possibility, not only from intense feelings that always come up with families, but just opening up your mind to worlds you don't normally consider as real and immediate in your own life.

I came away with a renewed sense of the value of knowing others on a deep level, and of knowing myself, even though I've been close to most of these people (and me!) much or all my life. Simple as that. It's the sort of thing we think we already have nailed, until we come face-to-face with all the layers people have that we haven't explored. Peeling that onion—it's an endless source of creative energy.

Psychologists say that virtually all personal growth is relational. We understand not only others, but ourselves, through relating to others who are important to us (especially loved ones—isn't it amazing how much you learn about yourself through raising a child, for example?)

Have you noticed this sort of growth in your own relations? Has it been a source of creativity for you? Does it feel like learning and finding a more authentic voice by doing what comes naturally?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Rules

In an article from the New York Times, Colson Whitehead gives us a new version of one of our favorite topics— the rules for writers, with interesting twists and humorous common sense that's a little different.

Among my favorites in the eleven rules he provides: Show and Tell, because "when writers put their work out into the world, they're like kids bringing their broken unicorns and chewed-up teddy bears into class in the sad hope that someone else will love them as much as they do." He also makes great points about other rules, like the importance of silence in writing: what isn't said is more important than what is; and about how to kill your darlings: never use three words when one will do (including an example that will make you think). And the main rule: there are no rules. You can do anything, as long as you do it well.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Writing Great Sentences

Once again, I'm delving into teachings from Priscilla Long's excellent book, The Writer's Portable Mentor, to pull specific information on writer's craft that is key to all of us. This is the third Monday in a row I've referred to this book so, as you might guess, it's one that is chock full of superb information to help us write our stories. Today's topic: sentences.

The basic building block of stories, sentences are so important that no writer can afford to ignore the importance of knowing basic sentence structures and how to use them well. As Long says, "All really good writers use fragments. They repeat words and phrases as a saxophonist repeats notes and phrases. They use parallel structures to express parallel thoughts. They write very short sentences and they write very long sentences. They write list sentences, that is, sentences that contain a list."

Here are a few of the types of sentences Long talks about, with examples:

List: "They haven't seen our gardens full of lemongrass, mint, cilantro, and basil." (Le Thi Diem Thuy, "The Gangster We Are All Looking For," 197)

Making a sentence perform its own meaning/do what it says: "Each of the stone steps up to the heavy wooden doorway is worn in the middle into a smooth hollow. All those years of weight in the same place, like a promise kept and kept and kept." (Helen Humphreys, The Lost Garden, 15)

When a sentence expresses physical action, making it move the same way the action does: "The gong rings. No fooling this time. The dwarfs set to. They clinch. The referee parts them. One swings a cruel upper-cut and knocks the other down. A huge head hits the floor. Pop! . . . ." (Jean Toomer, Cane, 67)

Making a sentence accumulate, as in accumulating a disaster at a farmhouse: "The sifter's handle was bent, the clocks didn't work, the wooden blocks were covered with scribbling, the Magic Markers were dried up, the sofa was filthy, the wing chair was ripped, the stereo was missing half the knobs, the books had been gnawed on, by children, or mice." (Jane Hamilton, A Map of the World, 252)

Other sentence types covered: fragments, the simple sentence, the compound sentence, the complex (and compound-complex) sentence.

Long provides explanations, examples, and exercises for learning to write great sentences. Her primary recommendation: before you start practicing different sentence structures, make sure you know two things cold:

  • the prepositional phrase (and the critical importance of never separating a preposition from its complement*)
  • and distinguishing between a clause (which has a subject and a verb) from a phrase.  
She explains these concepts in detail and why they are so important. 

If this sounds like something you could grow from, you will never regret getting a copy of The Writer's Portable Mentor.

*examples of prepositions and their complements: at (preposition) the store (complement); during (preposition) the summer (complement); despite (preposition) the cold (complement).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Enhancing Creativity Scientifically

There's a new player on the block that is taking the brain strengthening world by storm. It's a fascinating company called Lumosity, made up a very bright people using algorithms and game science and creativity to show how people can improve their brain function. You've probably seen their ads on tv or in magazines or read about them in the newspapers.

I haven't yet indulged in the brain games that these young geniuses created to help us all grow, but I've read a lot about them, and one of the most interesting pieces of their puzzle is their take on creativity.

Here's a bit of what they say about their approach to enhancing creativity:

"Creativity can be difficult to define. Most people think of it as a spark, an energy tasked with breathing life into the world. According to conventional wisdom, this creative energy fuels art, humor and even scientific discovery.
Cognitive psychology, though, has a different perspective about creativity. Like many other researchers, those at Lumosity understand creativity to be the ability to solve novel problems – regardless of whether those problems are artistic, scientific or pragmatic. This creative problem-solving, in turn, requires flexible thinking. To create something new, we must first have the ability to see the world from a different perspective."
Fascinating, no? To read more about it, check this out.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Social Media Time vs. Writing Time

Can you be a social media mavin and write the book you really want to? It's an old question by now, and I'm sure plenty of you are yawning or rolling your eyes. But that might be a mistake. Tweeting and FBing and even blogging are certainly very different media efforts than novel writing. Do you have to have a split personality to do both, and split your creative time between them? Or do you try to do both at once?

If you find you are drawn more to flash fiction and/or journalistic analyses than taking hours to flesh out scenes with tension, metaphor, powerful description, action, dialogue etc., perhaps that novel will have to wait.

Voices are once again weighing in to make sure we all understand that nobody can write a polished novel (or a great song or poem or any such thing) in a first draft or an online splurge. Check out this article from Forbes, and be sure to read the John Mayer section.

What do you think?