Guest Post: Writing and Travel Boost Brain Power

Here’s a great guest post from Rita Robinson, an author and journalist.

Writing and Travel Boost Brain Power

Rita Robinson

Lone Horse Rider

 

Lightening flashed, thunder roared, and unrelenting rain bombarded our 21-foot RV as we crept along at about 20 miles per hour on I-40 near Nashville, Tennessee. We could barely see the windshield wipers slapping across the front window, and finally took an off-ramp toward a crowded Flying J truck stop.

Andy, my husband, squeezed our small RV in among the big rigs jammed side-by-side at the truck stop, while a steady stream of other trucks parked along the adjoining road, and the parking lots of nearby churches. The truck stop, without electricity and using generators, kept everything, except the gas pumps working, as it became the hub of activity for all who parked vehicles in the area.

Portions of I-40, a main interstate highway for cross-country truckers, eventually flooded, causing closures, during the news-making, and record-breaking torrential storms in May of 2010 in Tennessee.

Once the sun shown three days later, and the sweet smell of grass and spring flowers permeated the air, a mélange of people gathered outside the station’s restaurant chatting and shaking hands as if all had known each other forever. We felt rejuvenated, and ready to continue our trip.

Stimulate Writing by Breaking Routines

Such is the stuff of travel and also writing. We change our routines or plans, and consider it part of the travel or writing experience. Not that routines are bad, but it’s good to break them once in a while.

A few times traveling, with tornado warnings ahead of us, we’ve changed routes. We had once driven through a town hit by a tornado and had seen an RV like ours that had been thrown on top of a barn.

These types of experiences make us acutely aware of our surroundings, feelings, motivations, and the idea that we’re not always in charge. As writers, Andy and I know that writing also leads to adventures.

Change and Surprise Boosts the Brain’s Power

We’re at our best when we surprise ourselves with what we put on the page. Writing transports us, as if on a magic carpet, to places of delight, anxiety, fright, awe, insight, imagery, depth, spectacle, and unanticipated adventures, virtual or real. As Robert Frost said, “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

“Traveling new places, meeting different people and taking part in variety of lifestyles, including foods, shops, noises, and cultures, stimulates cellular connections and promotes brain resilience, so important to the health of your brain,” says Paul D. Nussbaum, Ph.D., Brain Health Center,  and Clinical Neuropsychologist and Adjunct Professor of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Could this be why so many noted writers have also been travelers, or vice versa? Consider Mark Twain’s, The Innocents Abroad. He wrote “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Out of Our Comfort Zones

It does not take traveling great distances to jazz up the writing mind. Changing minor routines at home can give the brain’s neurons a kick in the synapses. Sitting in a different chair than usual; eating something never tried before; walking backward; changing the writing location, maybe from a customary desk to the kitchen table; sitting on the floor to write; or writing by hand on a tablet, removes our comfort zone and fires up the brain.

Published writers have composed in coffee shops, bus terminals, airplanes, on couches in front of TVs, sitting beneath cherry trees, at the beach, in prisons, and just about any place the imagination can travel.

Emily Dickinson wrote in an attic, Ben Franklin in a bathtub, and several have written in bed, including Marcel Proust (Remembrance of Things Past) and Barbara Cartland, prolific writer of conservative romance novels.

The editor-in-chief of a newspaper where I once worked knew about the beauty of making minor changes to jazz up a place. About every six months he would stomp out of his glassed-in office with, “OK, time to change our desks around.” We grumbled, since most had piles of other work to do. All, however, pitched in to push and shove desks and chairs to new locations with new views, and across from someone different. It worked, and we laughed at the feel of that kick in the synapsis.

We’re on an adventure when we travel, or when we write, and being open to change and surprises not only recharges the brain, it enriches our lives.

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Discount Sale on Urban/Dystopian Fantasy Sparks Price War Between Amazon and Google

So, like many folks, my novels occasionally go on sale. Right now, Reparation’s ebook is on sale until October 3 (links at bottom of this post). Usually, this is where I would give you the book’s slugline, which is:

ReparationEbookHaruki Murakami’s 1Q84 meets Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale as a man battles sinister forces associated with a Native American peyote cult.

I would also inform you that the work has won a national award, and that the usual ebook price is $9.99.

Now, here’s where things get interesting.

The sale price was made available through two ebook channels: Amazon and Google Play. Both provide worldwide distribution, and both offer fast and easy access for readers.

Usually the buying choice is entirely about habits and preferred methods. Some folks like to run all their purchases through Amazon. Others prefer Google, while another set don’t display any particular loyalty.

Today, with Google’s continual efforts to pry their way further into the book market, we see one clear step they are taking to gain more share: beat Amazon’s price. Importantly, this will be done without dropping the revenue earned by the book. So, everyone wins…especially the ecosystem that provides readers with more choice through more distribution channels.

Where will you buy today? Let me know, and we’ll see if the sales figures back you up!

Now, finally, about Reparation!

A beautifully written supernatural story—the work of a master craftsman.”
“Endlessly compelling. A fascinating fusion of forms.”

“Whatever is dangerous, let me do it…I am supposed to die.”

When Aidan Little Boy leaves his ailing mother’s side to visit his sister on a peyote church property in South Dakota, he encounters a religious cult run by an apparently superhuman leader. Suddenly his nondescript life becomes tangled in a world that has grown disturbing and strange.

In a series of remarkable events, the ancient beings of Native American folktales are manipulated by people with strong connections to the parallel world of spirits. Soon Aidan uncovers evidence that his sister and the rapidly growing congregation are in danger. He must understand these unknown powerful forces before the Reparation, a ceremony that will slaughter thousands of innocents.

This complex and surreal novel merges folktales, history, and contemporary lifestyles with magical realism in a hypnotically addictive original tale.

Honorable Mention, Writer’s Digest 2016 Ebook Award

Currently discounted on Amazon and Google Play. At the time of this post, Google is beating Amazon’s price by $0.48!

Grab it now, because these deep discounts won’t last long!

Giveaway: Amazon Gift Card & Book Swag

Head’s up, everyone! Kim Peterson, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance author who was highlighted for great book sale prices here and here, has sweetened the deal. Now she’s offering a signed copy of Angels & Vixens, an Angels & Vixens tote bag, and a $20 Amazon gift card.

Go here to take advantage of this great giveaway. Hurry! The deal runs for only 13 more days!

Another Great Deal for Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Thriller

Last week, I told you about a great preorder deal from Kim Petersen. Now I want to let you know that you can get another book from the same author for a great price.

This one, usually $3.99, has “steamy scenes and dark themes.” Grab it now at this great lower price! It’s called Millie’s Angel. Here’s the description:

Betrayal is always the last place you expect.

When her mother decides to leave, Millie’s life is turned upside down as she faces life with a father who has a mysterious dark pallor shrouding his countenance. Millie grows up relying on her own strength and the comfort that comes from a friend and a romantic connection that has her heart smitten.
As she struggles to make sense of life, Millie discovers her growing thirst for love while learning to overcome the adversity that plagues her family.
When Millie discovers the dark secrets surrounding her birth, she realises the unthinkable acts of her father, and finds herself battling between love and hatred while finding a sense of balance through a powerful bond with an angel.
When her mother contacts her a decade later, Millie visits with her just in time to realise her own angelic gift, when she finds she is not alone in discovering her mother’s whereabouts. With evil lurking between the cracks in her family, the appearance of Millie’s gift – a phenomenon that will heal and shine brighter than she could ever have imagined – changes her family’s perspectives and the direction of their lives forever.

And here’s the link to the discounted ebook.

 

Free Sample and Slashed Preorder and Launch Price on Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance Thriller

A&D coverI’ve just come across a great deal for all you urban fantasy and paranormal romance thriller fans. This is the latest from Kim Petersen, who has several novels out already. That’s great because once you’ve seen this one, you can binge read all her books!

Angels & Vixens has it all: a brother lost in dreams, a budding romance, and the reappearance of old troubles with a black witch conjuring for the dark side.

Here’s the description:

Her love has no limits.
His vengeance knows no bounds.

With her brother Ace dangerously lurking in her dreams, Millie finds herself captive in a delicately woven love-triangle between past desires and her faithful fiance. When she finally decides to follow the path which beckons her heart, Ace and his black witch lover sweep into town; leaving a poisonous trail of death and vengeance in their wake.
Millie’s life blackens as her brother’s vendetta becomes her reality and she is drawn into a savage game where the stakes are higher than she could have ever imagined. Can she save her brother from the evil that clutches his heart before he is lost to her forever?  And will the men in her life learn to accept her truths?

Now, if you’re like me, you want to read a bit to make sure the book is for you. So, the author has provided samples from the beginning here.

Stay tuned for another great deal from this author posting on Sep 25. Mark your calendars!

 

 

 

Do Good and Get Fee Stuff!

In just a very short time, North Carolina Kindness_FrontCoverfinalforwebresidents will be able to do some good in the world and possibly win free stuff at the same time!

An author is coming to North Carolina to read from her new book. The work is a children’s picture book that tackles a very tough subject: how to talk to young kids about terrorism.

I was honored to be able to work with the author, Rebecca Hubbard, while she wrote this story. We have worked on an entire series together, all of which help parents and kids face difficult issues.

This event is for the launch of the entire series. The book, Kindness in a Scary World, is full of heartfelt moments. Anyone who has wondered how to help kids understand tragic events should come!

This event includes freebies that are very cool. One is a raffle for a signed print featuring one of the illustrations from the book. There will be drawings for other prizes. All proceeds from the raffle benefit the Center for Child and Family Health.

Sept. 15 th 6:00-8:00pm
Center for Child and Family Health
1121 W. Chapel Hill Street Suite 100, Durham, NC

Author Interview: Dr. Barbara Culp

As mentioned in last week’s post about great books for the back-to-school season, now we’re going to hear directly from Dr. Barbara Culp herself.

Culp Teachers

Dr. Culp started out as a preschool teacher before teaching at the elementary and middle school levels. The area superintendent promoted her until she became the principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Georgia.

After retiring, she found that education was a field she could never leave. She returned to work as a field supervisor of aspiring teachers before founding a tutorial service. The books she has written allow her to reach out to everyone who is focused on academic excellence.

More than four decades of experience have been distilled into this series. Each of the comprehensive books targets teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, and students with thoughtful, relevant advice. Readers empower themselves with wisdom from an educator who has been where they want to go.

She kindly took a break from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for this blog.

How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?

To a new writer, I would say it takes time to fine tune your writing skills. Don’t give up, because your passion and purpose will take you places you never dreamed of.

To a seasoned writer, I would say you owe it to your voice in the world to mentor others who have a calling on their lives to write.

When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder? What does that parsing look like? How does it make you feel as an artist? As a human being?

For me, my mind is constantly at work searching within and without looking for more thoughts and information to fill the void with respect to the project I’m currently working on. It resembles an outline or table of contents; it is part of the whole that inspires more.

It makes me feel that I have something of value to add to the big picture of reading and writing and, as an artist, I am challenged to always put my best foot forward.

From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? Is there a way to solve that challenge?

I think the greatest challenge to publishers is to get people reading again. In a world where technology rules, reading a book seems to be the last thing people want to do.

I hate to offer this suggestion, but the right incentives usually motivate people to doing things they might not do on their own…so, hide messages in books that lead to monetary rewards/incentives or put books on audio to be listened to as we travel to and from.

What books are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the Bible and The Moses Code.

Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? (The authors do not have to be living.)

I think James Baldwin was an underappreciated Black author during his time, and that was one of the reasons why he left America and moved to France. If he were living today, his novels would probably be bestsellers as he had a tendency to speak about human sexuality as it exists in the world today.

Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?

Michelle Alexander is a new author, civil rights attorney, and Professor of Law at Ohio State University who wrote a book titled The New Jim Crow. She spotlights racism based on her insight as a civil rights lawyer. In her book, she helps us to see the imbalance in our justice system when it comes to race in America.

Culp Principals

Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?

Believe it or not, I believe I write best when I am bored or depressed. When I am feeling low, I can write my way back to a place of happiness, self-acceptance and self-reliance. The ideas, words, and thoughts seems to just flow.

Can you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

Again, my next project is school/workplace related, and it centers on building highly effective and efficient operating teams in support of greater student success.