Fun Fact Friday!!! Post #6 – How Writing Affects Your Brain

Sorry ya’ll for being MIA the last couple of days! I had some kind of virus and I literally could barely move from my couch to the kitchen. Anyway, it all that “fun” I was having, it some how got to be Friday! Sooo…Happy Friday ya’ll!!!

I found this little article and it’s pretty cool! Take a look!

As a writer, you likely practice your craft without really thinking about how the process of writing affects your brain. However, it is pretty fascinating the way that our brains are hardwired to interpret the written word. You might not realize how much of an effect that reading and writing has on the brain, or what is happening in the brain as you write down a story or read a novel. In order to improve your writing skills, it’s helpful to know how writing and reading work in the human brain so that you can create written content that will have the most effect on the reader.

Check out this intriguing infographic to learn more about the connection between writing and the brain. It just might give you some insight into how you can become a better and more effective writer and understand how your stories affect your readers.

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Writing Stimulates Our Brain’s Memories

Many scientists have done studies on how we understand reading and writing, with some pretty interesting results. They have found out about why stories help us remember information better than lists of facts and how our brains react to descriptive passages.

They have even discovered the scientific why clichés are so boring and should be avoided in writing. It turns out that our brains become de-sensitized to metaphors and sensory language that are used too often and these phrases no longer produce the same reaction in the brain. That is why being original is so important in your writing.

Mix-It Up Monday Post #5 – Wild Animals in Zoos

For those of you who don’t know, as a teenager I worked/volunteered at the local zoo in the city I grew up in. It was an amazing experience, one where I was able to raise birds, squirrels, deer, and even lion cubs. Along with capturing alligators and crocodiles, that was just a few experiences I had along the way.

Of course, I also learned how to respect these feral creatures while watching them interact with their own species, zoo visitors, and the zookeepers who cared for them daily. One of the most constant and stressed teachings I had with the zookeepers was that even caged animals born into captivity still held the wild thread within their blood. They were not to be underestimated at any time. As the Educational Curator placed emphasis upon, “Anything with a mouth can bite.” Just because they were in a zoo didn’t mean they were tame by any means.

Unfortunately, situations or mistakes take place and there can be deadly consequences. Some were provoked while others were not. However, I stand to say that each of the zookeepers I worked along side knew each time they put themselves in danger. Which was every day they fed out or walked into an animal’s enclosure, their home, their territory.

With that said, I find it ironic as well as a little daunting that someone would have to decide “what to do with the animal”. We’re not talking about a rogue dog that wandered into your yard and bit you. We’re talking about known wild animals that are caged. Why would it automatically be thought it their fault when that’s what they are…wild. Is it not human illusion that they could make them be anything but that? Has television really made kids as well as adults think they can be tamed just because the guy on T.V. wrestled with one and it looked like fun?

This is not me talking without experience. I raised lion cubs that were days old taken from their mother until nearly a year old and over a 100 pounds. In many senses they were my children, my babies. But even in play they would go for my neck, not realizing their strength and power against me. So, I add to this question. Does their wildness automatically charge them as being faulty? Faulty and dangerous are two totally different things. Just as I said with my lion cubs who thought they were only playing with me as they did with each other. Not because they were intentionally trying to kill me.

Should you be punished for defending your home? Should you be labeled as bad because you did something that was just human nature? What about their animal nature?

Here are just a few stories about zoo animal attacks, even one as short as a few days ago. What do you think? What would you do?

1. Animal keeper killed in lion attack at Seoul zoo – Feb. 2015

SEOUL, South Korea — An animal keeper died Thursday after apparently being attacked by two lions at a zoo in South Korea’s capital, officials said.

A colleague found the keeper, 52-year-old Kim Geun-bae, unconscious and bleeding heavily from his neck and legs in the animals’ enclosure, as a male and female lion wandered near him, according to Seoul Children’s Grand Park official Jisun Lee. Kim was pronounced dead at a hospital about two hours later, she said.

There were no witnesses or visitors at the time of the attack because the zoo has been closed since last week to prevent the spread of avian flu, Lee said.

The park said Kim had 20 years’ experience as an animal keeper and had been working with dangerous animals such as lions, tigers and leopards for the past three years.

Lee said the zoo is waiting for police to examine security camera video and other evidence before deciding what to do with the lions.

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2. Fuzhou, China

In September 2007, a visitor to the Fuzhou Zoo was taking pictures of Assamese macaques when one of the monkeys grabbed his phone and began chewing it. The man climbed over the railing to get his phone back and was scratched by three enraged monkeys.

3. Beijing, China

In January 2009, a visitor at the Beijing Zoo jumped over a barrier to retrieve a toy dropped by his son. Instead of getting the toy, he got attacked by a 240 pound panda named Gu Gu, who bit his legs and refused to let go. Apparently this cuddly panda has developed a taste for human flesh, as it has previously attacked two other humans.

4. Kiev, Ukraine

In July 2008, a visitor at the Mykolaev city zoo was trying to take some close-up pictures of the Siberian Brown bears. The visibly intoxicated man lost his footing and fell into the enclosure. He was promptly attacked by three bears, who ripped him apart, killing him.

5. San Francisco, California

On Christmas 2007, four visitors to the San Francisco Zoo were seen taunting a 243-pound Siberian tiger named Tatiana. Less than an hour later, the tiger escaped from her enclosure and attacked three of her agitators, killing one of them. It is unclear how the tiger escaped and there is suspicion that it was aided by humans.

6. Calgary, Canada

In October 2009, two drunken men snuck into the Calgary Zoo at one in the morning to surprise a friend working there. They climbed over a safety fence and approached the tiger cage. One of the men was mauled and severely injured by a Siberian tiger named Vitali. Their friend was no doubt surprised, not by their visit, but at how stupid they are.

7. Guwahati, India

In December 2009, a visitor at the Guwahati Zoo jumped over a barrier to get an up-close shot of the tigers on his cell phone. Although there were bars separating the man from the tigers, one tiger managed to rip off the man’s hand and another tiger soon joined in on the attack. It seems these tigers were quite camera-shy, as their would-be photographer was later pronounced dead.

8. Manitowoc, Wisconsin

In March 2010, a woman ignored barriers and warning signs and approached two bears, intending to feed them. While humans enjoy chicken fingers, apparently bears prefer human fingers, and one bear bit off her thumb and forefinger and partially severed her middle and ring fingers.

9. Hyderabad, India

Along with driving, operating heavy machinery, and calling your grandma, add “feeding large carnivorous felines” to the list of things that don’t mix well with alcohol. In August 2009, a drunk man snuck into the Nehru Zoological Park after visiting hours. He approached a white tiger, with grass in hand, and tried to feed it through the bars. The tiger found his arm much more appealing and mauled him, ripping a great deal of flesh off of his right arm.

10. Berlin, Germany

Desiring to play with the animals, a woman jumped into an animal enclosure at the Berlin Zoo in April, 2009. She soon learned that polar bears, the world’s largest land carnivores, don’t make good playmates, as the polar bears bit her several times, severely injuring her.

11. Kiev, Ukraine

It seems lions hate having religion shoved down their throats just as much as humans do. In June 2006, a man climbed into the lion enclosure at the Kiev Zoo, ranting about God and how he would not be killed by the lions. One lion disagreed and seized him at the throat, killing him.

If you have any doubts, I simply leave you with this.

One of the last years I volunteered, we constructed a new habitat native to the state I lived in. One of the enclosures had a net where bobcats could walk above you. Great for pictures and seeing the animal from all angles. However, I was horrified one day as I witnessed a man holding a toddler above his head. As the little girl reached towards the large wild cat with her tiny fingers he said to her, “Awww, pet the kitty.”

Is there really anything else to say?

Fun Fact Friday!!! Post #5 – Children’s Books

Alice in Wonderland used to be banned in parts of China. “Bears, lions and other beasts cannot use a human language,” said General Ho Chien in 1931. “To attribute to them such a power is an insult to the human race.”

Other names considered for Nancy Drew included Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Helen Hale and Nan Nelson.

Before the Nazis invaded Paris, H.A. and Margret Rey fled on bicycles. They were carrying a rough manuscript for Curious George.

How did Curious George get to America? He was captured in Africa by The Man With the Yellow Hat — with his yellow hat.

Margaret Wise Brown had no children and left all of her Goodnight Moon money and future earnings to Albert Edward Clark III, a young neighbor boy.

E.B. White is the “White” of Strunk and White (of Elements of Style fame).

Before jumping to books and TV and Happy Meals, Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears were just designs on greeting cards.

While in art school, Maurice Sendak was a window dresser for F.A.O. Schwarz in New York.

Norman Bridwell almost called his big red dog Tiny, but his wife suggested Clifford — the name of her childhood imaginary friend.

To get detainees to talk, one of the songs interrogators at Guantanamo Bay use most is Barney’s “I Love You.”

In 1929, author J.M. Barrie gave the rights to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital in London. The copyright expired in 2007, but a deal was worked out where the hospital continues to collect royalties from stage performances of Peter Pan in the U.K.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar was almost called A Week With Willi Worm.

Goosebumps author R.L. Stine was also the head writer on Eureeka’s Castle, a Nickelodeon show featuring lovable puppets.

Chris Farley was the original voice of Shrek. Almost a year after Farley died, Mike Myers took on the role.

Dr. Seuss said he expected to spend “a week or so” writing The Cat in the Hat. It ended up taking a year and a half.

Stan and Jan Berenstain didn’t just write about bears. Among their other credits: How to Teach Your Children About Sex.

I mean, who knew right? Happy Friday!!!!

Is it time again already!?!

Untitled 66Soooo…of course I am a huge fan of the Writer’s Digest Conference since I was able to experience it first hand last August. Icing on the cake is that it’s in New York City, my most favorite city in the WHOLE world!

Anyway, like I’ve said before, if you’re a writer and you can go to a writing conference, DO IT. They are priceless in so many ways and totally worth your money!

This particular conference though, gives you even more of an immeasurable experience with it’s well know Pitch Slam. It’s incredible. You, along with a group of other writers can pitch your manuscript to agents in 1 of 3, 1-hour sessions of your choice. There’s like 50 different agents or more for you to choose from. 50 AGENTS! When do you have the opportunity to look an agent eye to eye and get their one-on-one attention any other time when you’re in the querying process? Very rarely if ever. This alone is worth you going.

Pitch Slam is scary, amazing, nerve-wracking, and unbelievable all at once. I simply, love it. 🙂 Truly, I just can’t say enough good things about this conference.

So with that said here’s a preview: Hope you get to go!!!

Writer's Digest Annual Conference

Hello there!
I hope you are doing well and getting a lot of writing done during these chilly winter months.
I’m thrilled to announce the details of the 2015 Writer’s Digest Annual Conference, once again taking place in New York City the weekend of July 31–August 2. It’s my favorite writing event of the year, jam-packed with great speakers, special events, and hundreds of energized, attentive attendees.

This year, we’re once again hosting our massive Pitch Slam, with more than fifty agents and editors in attendance, ready and willing to hear about your book. As with last year, we’ll be running a minimum of three one-hour pitch sessions with a limited number of writers permitted into each one. It’s an exciting, energizing, exhilarating experience that gives you an opportunity to meet with the industry pros who are actively looking for new talent to represent or publish.

As in the past, we’ll have stellar educational tracks devoted to publishing and self-publishing, platform and promotion, and the craft of writing. But I’m even happier to announce we’ve added two new tracks of education. The Business of Being an Author examines what it takes to live the writer’s life, think like an entrepreneur, and manage your writing like, well, a business. And our new Genre Studies track will provide you with a full roster of sessions devoted to a wide variety of genres, enabling us to dig down into what makes each genre tick, what their respective audiences want, and how to excel in each.

We’ll also have dozens of fantastic speakers and instructors, including New York Times bestsellers Jonathan Maberry, Hallie Ephron and M.J. Rose, self-publishing sensation G.P. Ching, and Writer Beware co-founder Victoria Strauss. The program is still in its early days and there are many more big names to come. Keep your eyes peeled—we’ll announce new speakers regularly!
Finally, be sure to join us on Saturday night for our massive cocktail party and author signing, plus a number of other social activities during which you can network, share war stories, good news, or even form a new writers group.

It’s going to be our biggest and best event yet. I sincerely hope you can join us. The Early-Bird deadline is March 9, so be sure to register right away!

I look forward to seeing you this summer.

Phil Sexton
Keep writing
Phil
Phil Sexton
Publisher, Writer’s Digest
Twitter @psexton1
Register Now!

Just a small update…but a BIG change!

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I am super super excited to announce that I am working with Ms. Katelyn Stark of Stark Contrast Editing on my adult paranormal manuscript, Guarded Light. She is fantastic and I feel so blessed that she will be guiding me through this process.

If anyone needs editing help, please check her out:

http://starkcontrastediting.com/

With that said, I know that most of my blogs so far haven’t touched much on the description of my manuscript and where exactly on the writing path I am. Soon, however, that will all change.

Here’s a little background info though I’d like to share first.

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I’ve always enjoyed writing. It somehow makes me feel alive. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade. Like most girls my age it was about a horse…and a boy. With a little added bad grammar and spelling too. LOL!

After that however, life got busy, I grew up and my ambition to write was pushed aside. It never left completely though. About 7 years ago I tried to pick up a pen again and write but was overwhelmed by the enormity of it and the lack of knowledge I had in the industry. So I put the pen down again.

A lost dream like so many others. Or so I thought…I didn’t realize at the time that I wasn’t choosing the writing, it was choosing me. Life was molding and creating me for the exact moment when I was ready to hold tightly to that pen and jump.

About 3 or 4 years ago I was daydreaming on the car ride home. I began envisioning what would later be one of my main characters in my manuscript (a cloaked woman walking amongst ancient graves in a forest). Finally, there it was. With God’s nudging, my story began. I started writing. Really writing, fearlessly.

It took about 2 years to finish my manuscript and it was hard and long. I can’t tell you how many times I nearly quit. Throughout all of it, I basically felt like I was incompetent and had no right to even think I could possibly achieve the treasure of writing a book. But I kept trudging through even with a full-time job, 2 kids, and a husband.

Just like every writer out there I poured my heart and soul out onto the pages. With my words I gave my characters breath. There, Guarded Light, was born with the promise that one day readers would live and experience along with me. That is my ultimate goal.

Soooo to get this party started and hopefully get readers excited, I will continue to blog updates, clips, maybe even chapters to see what everyone thinks.

This has been a solitary journey for me up until now, but change is here. NOW it will be a journey I travel together with all of you!

Please enjoy Guarded Light and know there will be more to come:

In a world of supernatural magic, the lands within are now plagued by darkness and tyranny. Angels and demons for centuries have battled for one sole purpose, to possess the daughter of Adam and Eve. Callan is the lifeblood that will sway the balance of good and evil by her choice alone. After believing he had lost her forever, Avek, her beloved, finds his destiny entwined with Callan once again. In his quest to protect her from the darkness, Avek discovers who he was meant to be and where his purpose lies in this struggle of epic proportion. Joining their strength together, Heaven and Hell will never be the same, only one will survive.

Mix-It Up Monday Post #4 – Seeds Anyone?

Do we have any gardeners out there?? If so and you’re in the New York area this might be of interest to you. Heck, maybe you could even make a suggestion to your local library about starting a new trend like this.

My husband who absolutely LOVES to garden and is an avid one in the spring and winter (yes, there are winter veggies), thought this was a pretty cool thing for this New York library to offer its members. Check it out!

You can now check out seeds from New York libraries

by Public Libraries on January 26, 2015

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There have been plenty of stories in the past couple of years about the interesting ways in which libraries are trying to bring new utility to their communities.  This one might just top the list in its uniqueness, however:  The Chemung County Library District in New York state has started offering gardeners the opportunity to “check out” seeds from the libraries themselves.
The library district says that they hope to provide fresh and healthy food growing opportunities to their surrounding communities, and recognize that high quality seeds for healthy crops can be difficult to come across.  Gardeners of all skills levels are welcome, and the project is actually a continuation of one that started last summer at the Big Flats and Horseheads Free libraries.  Pam Lee, who heads the project at the Horseheads library, says that the idea was that growers could take seeds away and grow their crops, and then return with a portion of the seeds from their harvests later in the year.  In this way, much like a regular library book lending system, the number of items in the seed library could be maintained and kept self-sustaining.  Currently, patrons can take up to five packets of seeds with them at a time.

Just like with anything else at the library, however, you do need a library card to ‘check out’ any seeds.  In some ways, this may entice new community members to become library patrons and get their own cards.  Officials note that while they hope that patrons’ plantings are successful, they “understand some plants are harder to seed than others.”  With that in mind, the library asks that anyone who checks out seeds brings back any that they end up not using, whatever the reason.

The library also says that it wants to work hard to maintain the quality of the seeds.  When seeds are returned, relevant staff will work to verify the origin of returned seeds.  “Open-pollinated or heirloom seems,” the rules state, “but no hybrids.”

While the program saw only marginal usage last year, having seeds from the very start of the year – combined with greater awareness as time goes on – will probably bring about much larger engagement in the program this year.  In fact, as planting season approaches, some branches have already seen a rising rate in seeds being checked out.

Apparently, the range of seeds available is also quite large:  vegetables, squash, flowers, Swiss chard, beans, and more are ready for use by the community.  All in all, there are around 50 different species available.

Not confident in your own planting and gardening skills?  No problem!  Local experts on horticulture will be putting on workshops at various branches throughout the year, so even newbies can get growing in no time.  Both of the libraries currently offering the program plan to have their own workshops every month that will help establish the basics of planting a garden as well.  Some of the classes offered will also focus on certain topics, like growing in certain adverse conditions, or how those living in apartments or with other limited-space setups can get involved as well.

Fun Fact Friday!!! Post # 4 – Whoa!

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Did you know???

1. One out of every eight letters you read is the letter ‘e’.

2. In 1939 an author named Ernest Vincent wrote a 50,000 word novel called Gadsby. The only thing unusual about the novel is that there is not a single letter ‘e’ in the whole thing.

3. There have been over 20,000 books written about the game of Chess.

4. Perhaps the most uninteresting book ever written is the calculation of pi to two million places, in 800 pages. Just think of the TV special that could be made from this script.

5. In the book, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is one sentence that is 823 words long. When Vic wrote to his editor inquiring about their opinion of the manuscript, he wrote, “?” They answered, “!”

6. If you stretched out all the shelves in the New York Public Library, they would extend eighty miles. The books most often requested at this library are about drugs, witchcraft, astrology and Shakespeare.

7. Interestingly, William Shakespeare invented the word “hurry.”

8. And speaking of Shakespeare, can you imagine John Wayne reciting Shakespeare? Well, he did one time, and won a Shakespeare contest.

9. The following words were invented by William Shakespeare: boredom, disgraceful, hostile, money’s worth, obscene, puke, perplex, on purpose, shooting star, and sneak. Until his time, people had to have their conversations without these words.

10. In America, we buy 57 books per second. It would take a shelf 78 miles long to hold all of one day’s books.

11. More than two and a half billion Bibles have been made. If you put them on a long bookshelf and started driving along the shelf at 55 mph, you would have to drive 40 hours per week for over four months to get to the end. All these Bibles would fill the New York public library 467 and one-half times.

12. The Bible contains 3,566,480 letters or 810,697 words.

13. Leo Tolstoy wrote a large book called War and Peace before computers and copying machines. His wife had to copy his manuscript by hand seven times.

14. Americans buy approximately five million books a day. 125 new titles are published every day.

15. The first published book ever written on a typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain used a Remington in 1875.

16. It took Noah Webster 36 years to write his first dictionary.

17. Jonathan Swift wrote a classic book called Gulliver’s Travels that borders on science fiction. It was written before science fiction was what you called such books. In this book he wrote about two moons circling Mars. He described their size and speed of orbit. He did this one hundred years before they were described by astronomers.

18. The man who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories, A. Conan Doyle, was a professional ophthalmologist, an eye doctor. Because in his time specialty medical practices were hard to build and didn’t pay well, he had to take up writing to make ends meet.

19. For the last 12 years of his life, Casanova was a librarian.

20. Charles Dickens had to be facing north before he could write a word.

21. There are 72,466,926 books in the Library of Congress on 327 miles of bookshelves.

Pretty cool huh? Happy Friday!