Brain Science for Writers Roundup 04-13-2014

Hi All!  It's been an eventful few weeks, as the Midnight Thief launch approaches (3 more months!).  There's a goodreads giveaway going on right now for a Midnight Thief ARC.  The ARC is also available now on Netgalley. Also, I'm happy to announce that Midnight Thief has been named one of the top YA debuts of Summer/Fall 2014 by the American Bookseller's Association's Indies Introduce program.  :-)


 I'm trying out a new feature now, which is a roundup of neuroscience/psychology articles that might be of interest to writers.  We'll see how it goes!


Ebooks might interfere with reading comprehension in students and young children. (via Passive Guy)

Is internet reading destroying our reading comprehension?  This article argues yes, while this one says no.  My thoughts?  The brain optimizes itself to the type of tasks that we give it.  That is neither a good or bad thing in and of itself.

This article on how robot eye contact differs from humans might be useful for writing dialogue scenes.  (Again via Passive Guy)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, children who read stories about anthropomorphic animals are more likely to later ascribe anthropomorphic characteristics to real animals.

Here's a fascinating article about why people lie.


Okay, that's it for this roundup. Hope you find the links interesting!

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Making Book Themed Pinterest Boards

Poison Dance

It's one of those moments that make you go, "So that's why I became a writer."  A link from Pinterest showed up on my Google Alerts, and I clicked through to find a board inspired by my novella Poison Dance.

It blew me away.  The pinner had posted images for everything from characters to settings to the Minadan spices that play a key role in the plot.  As Poison Dance's author, I obviously have images of the story in my head, but there's something about seeing it presented visually that really brought it to life.

So... after I finished squealing, I tracked down the pinner:  Morgan Mittelbrun, an art student who loves to read books and dance.  Turns out that Morgan makes a lot Pinterest boards based on books she reads.  I thought they were awesome, both from the perspective of a fellow reader who loves to fangirl over my favorite series, and as a writer who might use boards like these for writing and marketing.  I invited Morgan to drop by the blog for an interview, and she kindly agreed.

Giveaway: Custom Business Cards or Bookmarks

I don't usually do sponsored posts, but Chris Mullen from Print Keg contacted me with a giveaway that I thought would be of interest to the writerly types who read this blog.  Print Keg will giveaway 1000 custom printed business cards or bookmarks to two winners. (I get 1000 printed cards as well for hosting this giveaway.)  

According to Chris, "PrintKEG (printkeg.com) prints flyers, posters, t-shirts, cards and much more. Our primary mission is to help designers and artists resell their work more profitably."

If you'd like to enter, simply use the rafflecopter widget below.  And Chris didn't give specifics, but I'm going to assume that this giveaway is for US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, a friendly reminder that From Words to Brain is on sale for .99 cents through Monday the 17th.


What is it that transforms a page full of words into a tale that entertains us, informs us, and ultimately leaves us changed? In her essay From Words to Brain, former MIT neuroscientist Livia Blackburne explores the brain basis of reading–a skill that is incredibly complex and integral to modern culture. Using the classic fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood as a guide, Blackburne follows the story from its physical manifestation on the page, through the reader’s visual system, and ultimately into the reader’s imagination and beyond. Because the experience of reading a story does not end with the last page. That’s the point at which the real magic begins. From Words to Brain is 6700 words long, or roughly 27 printed pages.

Buy the essay from: Amazon |Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

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A Brain Scientist's Take on Bad Reviews

"I’ve noticed a pattern in the blog posts of debut authors. Before the book comes out, there’s a flurry of activity about prelaunch preparations. Then there’s a celebration on launch day and a big promotional push. And finally, after things have quieted down there’s a philosophical post about bad reviews. This is mine."

 I'm at The Creative Penn today talking about bad reviews. 


Also, I got the rights back for From Words to Brain, and it's on sale for .99 cents until February 17th, 2014.  If you like the tour of reading in my guest post, check out the essay.



Buy the essay from: Amazon |Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play





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My Five Favorite Reads of 2013

This isn't a book review blog, but every December I like to share my favorites of the books that I've read this year.  I read a lot of great books from all different genres, but I guess I'm still a YA fantasy  nut at heart.  All five of these are speculative fiction, and four of the five are YA. 

And without any further ado...

1.  The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

I find that I often get really invested into a series at the second book.  It happened with Catching Fire and The Queen of Attolia (see below), and also with Rae Carson's debut trilogy.  I enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (the first book in the series) when I read it last year, but I loooved The Crown of Embers.  Rae Carson does strong female characters incredibly well.  Too often, "strong female character" is taken simply to mean "good at beating people up" or  "stubborn."  But Carson's Elisa learns strength in the ways that matter -- in compassion, self confidence, independence, confidence, and integrity.  Elisa in The Crown of Embers is a stronger, surer one than in TGoFaT, but we still see her grow as a woman and a queen.  And Hector (swoon)!   Who knew he'd be so dreamy without the mustache? The Bitter Kingdom is on my bookshelf, and I'm very much looking forward to it.


How I Got An Awesome Cover Design from 99 Designs, and Why I'll Think Twice Before Using it Again




Note: Poison Dance is still on sale for .99 cents until December 15th. Also, from December 11 through December 14, Poison Dance is part of the Fantasy Romance promotion. Check out eleven fantasy romance books on sale for $.99 and enter our giveaway to win a $100 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card.

Last week, I mentioned using 99 Designs for Poison Dance’s cover. I love the book cover I ended up with, but I'm hesitant to use the service again. A few people asked me to elaborate.

My Traditional Debut and My Indie Debut: A Case Study Comparison



Note: Poison Dance is available at the following stores:
Ebook: Kindle (US) | Nook | Kobo | iBooks
Paperback: Amazon


I’m in the interesting position of being a first time author in both traditional and self publishing in the same year. My novel Midnight Thief comes out with Disney-Hyperion in July 2014, and I’ve recently self published Poison Dance, a prequel novella. (Is it a prequel if it was written after the novel but published before?)

Since there's so much discussion of traditional vs. indie these days, I thought it be interesting to do a step-by-step comparison of the process for both books. Obviously, there are differences – Midnight Thief is a 370 page novel and Poison Dance is a 54 page novella for one thing. Also, Poison Dance was published partly to help market Midnight Thief. But still, it’s an interesting case study.

So I broke it down by each step. I also noted the cost of each self publishing step when relevant.