Brain Science for Writers Roundup 9/19/14

Top Pick:  A fascinating video on brain changes while people are listening to a story, and how those changes predict behavior.  I'm not quite sure I agree with their conclusions about any specific type of story structure, but still, very interesting.

When are jokes about a tragedy funny rather than offensive?

Apparently there's a link between hotter temperatures and increased violence.

An interesting article about a language in which smell is described much more specifically than in English. Takeaway for writers?  "Even if language doesn’t strictly limit the concepts you’re able to think about, it’s still easier to notice distinctions if you can put them into words. Which means that if you take the time to recognize the nuances of your favorite scents, you may find yourself developing a more elaborate smell vocabulary of your own."

One professor argues why digital reading is bad for a humanities education.  (via Passive Guy)

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 9/12/2014

Moving into fall now!  I just turned in the first draft of the sequel to Midnight Thief, so I'm taking a few days to decompress and catch up on blogging :-)

An excellent article about creativity, from a neuroscientist who studies it. (via @artsylliu)

Men who are ashamed of their bodies are more prone to sexual aggression against women. Some useful character building ideas here -- the interaction between self image and aggression toward others.

We're more scared of things that are moving toward us. This definitely has applications in film, though there might be some creative applications in writing as well.

An interesting article about how your emotional state can influence how you perceive others.

Writing about love makes things taste sweeter. This love-sweet connection is a useful one to keep in mind.

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Different Viewpoints Different Worlds

Note:  Did I mention that Midnight Thief released a few weeks ago?  Well, it did :-)

And onto the topic of the day....
In my predominantly white/Hispanic middle school, we watch Disney’s The Little Mermaid and discuss the themes. I’ve drawn the conclusion that the story is a fairy tale about a young girl who’s rewarded for disobeying her parents. To my surprise, everybody else frames it as a positive story of Ariel following her dreams, breaking free of societal expectation and finding true love.

Fast forward several years and I’m in college, hanging out with a group of Asian American friends. The Little Mermaid comes up in conversation, and someone remarks that the story is a fable about selfish behavior paying off. This time, people nod in agreement and the conversation moves on without a hiccup. Apparently that conclusion is a no brainer for a group of people who grew up in a society that valued filial piety above all else.

I guest posted at Diversity in YA a few weeks ago about being an Asian American writer and what that means.  See the rest of the post here.

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Brain Science for Writers Roundup 7-5-14

Midnight Thief launches in three days!  Remember, I'm sending signed bookmarks and bookplates to people who preorder!  Details here.

And... on to brain science links.

Here's an interesting article on the components of creativity.

I love this thoughtful piece from Maria Konnikova analyzing the factors that turned Frozen into a hit.

Having a group brainstorming session?  Try standing up! 

Here's a useful character building tidbit. Men with wider faces are better fighters.  They're also perceived to be more dangerous by others.

A researcher in Germany is scanning the brains of writers while they're writing.  I agree with Pinker that this is definitely a very rough look so far, and it's unclear what it all means, but still interesting!

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Interview with MIDNIGHT THIEF's cover designer. And win a signed hardcover!

The bookstore at the Ontario Teen Bookfest. Do you see MIDNIGHT THIEF?

Note: I'm still giving signed bookplates to people who preorder.  See details here.

While I've always theoretically understood the importance of good cover art, but I didn't really appreciate it until the months before Midnight Thief's release.

Disney-Hyperion really hit it out of the park with this one.  As soon as the cover went up on goodreads, people started telling me they became interested in the book because of the cover.  And when Midnight Thief went on sale for the first time at Ontario Teen Book Fest (yes, we released 20 copies early for the festival!) I saw people crossing the room to pick up the book because the art caught their eye.  We sold out all 20 copies around lunchtime, and given that I was a complete unknown who didn't even technically have a book out yet, it can only be because of the cover art and description.

Today I'm thrilled to have my cover designer Tanya Ross-Hughes over to talk a little bit about the design process. And stick around after the interview because I'm giving away a signed finished copy of Midnight Thief!

In which I gush about readers and bribe people to preorder with bookplates

Less than a month until MIDNIGHT THIEF releases! The event page for MIDNIGHT THIEF’s official launch party is live :-) Between the mood swings, Amazon sales rank refreshing, picking up my newly printed hardcover to read a few pages and becoming convinced that IT’S ALL WRONG HOW DID I THINK I COULD EVER PUBLISH THIS CALL MY AGENT TO PULL THE BOOK NOW, I’m having a great time!

Hehe, I’m kidding. Sort of.

Seriously though, despite the crazymaking roller coaster, there are also some truly magical things about approaching the launch of my debut book. Or actually, it’s mostly one thing. Readers.

You know who you are. I love you so much, and my novel isn’t even out yet.

I’m at the stage in my career where it’s still possible for me to know by name a good proportion of the people who enjoyed my books. And while I know that maintaining a career as a writer requires working to move beyond that point, I’m also very aware that this is a special time, and hope I never forget how awesome it is to interact with people who have taken the time to jump into these imaginary worlds I’ve created and experience them with me. Thank you.

Generally, going forward, I hope to offer special deals and freebies to people who follow me via blog/social media/mailing list. With self published works, it will usually be a discounted price. With traditionally published books I can’t change the price, so it has to be something else.

Those who are familiar with the publishing industry know how important preorders are to a book’s success. Publishers monitor these numbers get an idea of how well the book will sell, and this in turn informs how they approach the marketing, print runs, etc.

From now until July 7th, if you email me proof of preorder for MIDNIGHT THIEF along with your mailing address, I’ll mail you a signed bookplate and bookmark. 

1.  My email address is liviablackburne[at]gmail[dot]com. You can include a name if you want the bookplate signed to anyone in particular, and feel free to obscure any credit card/other sensitive info when you email your receipts.
2. Feel free to get MIDNIGHT THIEF at any vendor your prefer.  Though if you plan to attend any of my in-person signings in Los Angeles, Boston, or Albuquerque, please consider buying your book at the event in order to support that venue and ensure their ability to host future signings (no need to preorder in this case, though an RSVP to the event would be helpful!). And of course, I’ll happy to sign your book and give you a bookmark in person
3.  Update: Crystal brought up the good point that some people prefer to support their local indie, and not all independent bookstores do preorders.  So, for those folks, feel free to email me receipts up to July 21st.

Here’s a picture of the bookmark. (Thanks to Amber at Me, Myshelf, and I!).

 I haven’t settled on a bookplate yet, but I'm leaning toward this one:

Thank you again for your support!

Brain Science For Writers Roundup 5-31-14

And some more articles for your perusing pleasure...  Also, some feedback on this type of article roundup would be helpful going forward.  Is it worth continuing?

Teary Testimony From Children is More Credible.  Raises some interesting implications for how to portray children and/or victims in your story.  Certainly worth thinking about how different portrayals would affect the reader.

Don’t Believe What You Read (Only Once): Comprehension Is Supported by Regressions During Reading :  So, you know those speed reading apps?  They might be too good to be true. (Linked to abstract.  Subscription required for full article)

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking
 I love taking notes on a laptop, but there's some evidence that it promotes lazy notetaking.  (Linked to abstract)

Creative juices getting stuck?  Try taking a walk. (via Passive Guy)

Can't decide what your male character should look like?  Check out this article on how the messages that facial hair sends to others.

And finally, a fascinating article on how communicating in a different language might affect your moral judgements. 

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