A Journey through Chaos

my kingdom

By Janice McCaffrey

Where do creative ideas come from? I didn’t know so, of course, executed a Google search. One of the sites I found suggested that a person write down a word and follow that word with another that begins with the last letter of the previous word. And so on, and so on. The idea being that while your left-brain is busy thinking up words your right-brain will be inspired. H-m-m-m. I gave it a try.

Since I needed ideas for a Montana Women Writers blog entry, I started with the word “writers,” And this is how it went:

words for blog

How many creative ideas did I have at the end of this exercise? NONE!

Weeks later while working on another project I found an interesting article on creativity (of course, through a Google search). Nancy C. Andreason, M.D., Ph.D. directs research at the University of Iowa using brain scans and wrote a paper entitled: A Journey into Chaos: Creativity and the Unconscious.

The paper first describes four steps that her team established after interviews with creative people. 1). Preparation-when basic information and/or skills are gathered. 2). Incubation-a relaxed time during which the person does not work consciously to solve the problem. 3). Inspiration-what she calls the “eureka experience” when suddenly ideas come to mind and 4). Production-when the ideas are put into action.

Her group then ran brain scans on people while they were in a relaxed state. Their minds wandered freely without censorship. She reported that while the participants experienced a relaxed state, their neural level association cortices were working actively. She explains that while we’re relaxed our brains throw out feelers for concrete associations of colors, images, and concepts. These ideas collide until pairs interlock and make stable combinations. Then the brain’s self-organizing system spontaneously and frequently changes the pairs to produce something new. Her Take home message: The creative process is characterized by flashes of insight that arise from unconscious reservoirs of the mind and brain.

Oh, that’s why the good ideas come when in the shower, in bed but awake, or taking a walk alone.

So, need to enhance your creativity? Think about what you need…ideas for a blog, description of a setting, a character’s name, plot points, best color to paint your living room? Whatever. Find a quiet spot and relax, meditate or just sit in quiet (without falling asleep) and without thinking about what you need. Just float for 20-30 minutes. Inspiration will come to your mind either right then or some time later.

The journey takes our thoughts from chaos to creativity. Enjoy the ride!

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January Book News

McCaffrey

 

 

Blame the Car Ride will be released in the first part of January. Exact date will be announced soon on my website.

A simple game of chance results in Corinne Cooper’s best friend’s death and set her on a collision course with a detective still nursing hate from the past.

Three years of lonesome widowhood leads Corinne Cooper to a simple need. She wants a man. She cons her friend Edgy Brewster into helping her find just the right guy. They visit a honkytonk, the biggest church in town, and a bingo parlor looking for an eligible bachelor. Nothing goes as planned. Now Corinne is the prime suspect in a murder and must prove her innocence. Any of the four men she has met could have committed the heinous act. But which one?

 

Marie F Martin

Hope & Joy in a Classic Tale

By Janice McCaffrey      a christmas carol

While pondering the upcoming holidays my stream of consciousness meandered over past memories and future dreams. A few quiet moments of reflection led of course to Dickens’ ghosts.  My favorite version is The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine.

I love the little mice bookkeepers working dutifully and diligently in the cold office under the supervision of the kind-hearted Bob Cratchit performed by Kermit. Best of all though is the interplay between Rizzo the Rat acting as sidekick to Gonzo while he narrates the story as Charles Dickens himself.

My thoughts bumped over the moral of the story and what it means in today’s world. I got stuck on ‘don’t be stingy’ but wanted more. So what else is Dickens telling us?

On enotes.com’s website where they proclaim “We’re the Literature Experts” I found an article by Christian Themes (literary essentials: Christian fiction and nonfiction) titled     A Christmas Carol Themes. Let me paraphrase:

Scrooge’s initial penny-pinching reflects the values taking hold during the Industrial Revolution. Dickens illustrates what happens when individuals view relationships and other people through their financial worth. The author exposes the tremendous gap between the rich and the poor.

Then he illustrates a solution, individual redemption. The world becomes a better place almost immediately after Scrooge changes his outlook. The story implies that a renewed connection to humanity is, in fact, the very essence of redemption. His change is not introspective and personal; it is outward-looking and social.

While the results of Scrooge’s change didn’t alter the social structure itself, the compassion he showed to individual people did change the social relationships they shared. Despair turned to hope. isolation to belonging, and unhappiness to joy.

Wow! And I thought it was just fun to watch.

Yes, it’s a Christian based tale, but certainly can be applied to all of us no matter our beliefs. Let’s follow Scrooge’s example, enhance our relationships, and join Tiny Tim in his prayer.

tiny tim 2

 

“God bless us, every one!”

 

December Book News

december holidays 2018

 

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Flathead Valley Go Find Book Tour Fall 2018

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In case you want to catch a lecture from Susan or attend a book signing, here is her December schedule:

Whitefish Library, Montana. Dec 3rd. Avalanche awareness discussion and book signing. 7 pm.

Kalispell Rotary, December 6th at noon. Discussion and book signing. Hilton Garden Inn. 

Imagine Library, Kalispell, Montana December 18, 2018, 6 pm. Avalanche awareness discussion and book signing. 

Questions? Call Susan Purvis 970-596-2999 or email at susan@susanpurvis.com

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Cookie CrumblesLESLIE BUDEWITZ:  ‘Tis the season for a good book! Join me during the Kalispell Holiday Art Stroll on Friday, December 7, from 5-8 pm. I’ll be signing books at Montana Marie on Main Street, formerly Think Local, a terrific emporium of Montana-made art, cards, candles, lotions, books and much more. Shops and galleries throughout downtown Kalispell will be open late with food, drink, music, and more.

And if you can’t make it that evening, you can find signed copies of my books on the shelves of these Flathead Valley shops: in Whitefish, BookWorks. In Kalispell, Montana Marie and the BookShelf on Main Street, and Montana Art & Gift in the airport. And in Bigfork, Roma’s Kitchen Shop, Nancy O’s Interiors, and the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center. (E-books and audio books available in the usual online sources.)

Wishing you and yours a joy-filled season of love and friendship, regardless of what and how you celebrate. 

ACTION PACKED SCENES

911DR - 2BAll of us are risk-takers. Just getting out of bed in the morning sets us on the road to making hundreds of decisions each day. What a character eats and wears aren’t very interesting unless they’re enjoying exotic foods in faraway places. No one really cares if the character brushes her teeth, we just assume she has. A reader wants to experience life by living vicariously through the activities of others.

Choices have consequences. Our characters get themselves into terrible predicaments. It’s those crises readers like. They experience being stalked by a madman or chased by zombies from the comfort of a Barcalounger. Driving too fast, mountain hiking without bear spray, driving while drunk, aerobatic flying, firing someone and getting pregnant are all potentially dangerous common experiences from choices made and sometimes regretted. When characters get themselves into dangerous situations the events must be realistic.

We like to read exciting books about complex characters who keep us awake long after the lights should be out. How do we write action scenes about risks and make them compelling? Conflict drives a story. The character is often in deep trouble because of poor choices that carry risk to lives, safety, lovers, finances, family or world. If you are writing an action scene, reading how other great authors do it can save you time and angst.

The event must be appropriate to your genre and characters. Accuracy is also important. If you are writing a gun scene and have never fired a weapon, research online and handling the type of weapon used in the scene along with interviewing a reliable shooter will make your scene more accurate and believable. If, on the other hand, you’re writing a memoir, you have the emotion, circumstances and scene embedded in your brain forever, but can you write it effectively?

Be sure the scene reveals your character accurately? Having someone critique your work is important to assure validity and readability. Being factually correct is essential in nonfiction. In fiction, we just make it up, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be accurate. Each of us has expertise in varied areas and when scenes are factually incorrect, readers will notice, and reviews may be negative.

If you have questions about specific aspects of your scene, ask another writer with expertise in the area, or interview someone in that field. My history of flying, marksmanship, and practicing ER medicine frequently generates questions from authors who are writing related scenes. A law enforcement crime scene evaluation course I took has proven valuable when writing about investigation processes.

Here are a few thoughts on constructing action scenes:

  • Remember, each scene has a beginning, middle and end.
  • Building tension with conflict begins with simmering emotion that accelerates and foreshadows the event. Include mood and setting.
  • Action verbs are key to sweeping a reader into the scene. Example: He ran quickly… is not nearly as effective as: He bolted through….
  • Clarify the characters’ needs and emotions. What is at stake? What if she/he loses?
  • Use time-lapse to intensify the scene. Is time running out?
  • Be sure actions are shown and dialogue is short. Intensify a visual of emotion by few words and a descriptive action. Examples: He yelled, “You can’t go. Please stay. I love you so much.” More effective: He pulled her back in an embrace. “Marry me.”

 Take some risks in your writing, join a critique group. Contact Authors of the Flathead.org to join a group of writers helping writers.

Be safe and enjoy life.

Happy Thanksgiving from my yard to yours.

6027.cropped Turkey

Betty Kuffel

Dr. Kuffel’s books on Amazon