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Posts Tagged fiction

Fiction Vs Non-Fiction: What’s your fancy?

Hanging BooksMy reading pattern lately has included reading fiction and non-fiction book simultaneously. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve always been a one book at a time reader, but the last ten or twelve books I’ve read have been six non-fiction with six fiction. Oh and an audio book being thrown into the mix for good measure, now I’ve signed up to Audible (more on that in a later post).

To qualify non-fiction for a second. What I’m referring to here is a non-fiction book. Newspapers, journals, editorials, etc. all count but they tend to be pieces of writing with a smaller amount of dedicated reading time.

In the past, I’ve attempted to read multiple fiction books and found it a little distracting and at times even a bit frustrating. Distracting, because I find I’m thinking of one story while trying to read another and at times frustrating because if one story trumps (sorry to use that awful word guys!) another story, then I’ll want only to read the better of the two. I hate leaving a book unread. This is why I read through Birdsong… just wasn’t my cup of tea, sorry (o;

These are the reasons I’ve lived the one book at a time motto. Non-fiction books have been making their way into my book collection and onto my kindle. When I had a look at what I had, I thought I better start reading them, so I cracked one open and began. During this initial break away from fiction, I realised I needed something imaginative to peruse so I grabbed a fiction book from my to be read pile and began that also. What I found was a surprise. I found reading a non-fiction book, something related to facts, knowledge, and learning made me focus, think deeper and enjoy more of my fiction book of choice.

Right and Left BrainMy thinking is that this is feeding the right side of my brain what it needs with non-fiction given that it is the logical, rational and ordered thinking side while the left side of my brain enjoys art, free and random thinking and imagination. It would make sense until I found a report regarding a research study that has started the ball rolling on debunking this theory.

Anyway, I’ve found benefits to reading both simultaneously as opposed to reading multiple fiction books or multiple non-fiction books at the same time.

Let me know what you think or if you have a preference?

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4 Reasons Why We Should Read Every day!

little girl reading.pngReading is something we learn from a very early age. We begin by reciting out ABC’s then moving onto simple stories before we finally open up our first book. It’s an activity that unfortunately doesn’t last for some. Where many become avid readers, which is great, some fall by the wayside and don’t pick up a book or switch on a reading device for a long time, if at all.

So in this post I’d like to lay bare the benefits to reading some may not automatically think of when they consider sitting down with a good story.

Reading can make you live longer
In a study Health and Retirement study, it was found that adults 50 years and older who read for only 3.5 hours a week were likely to live two years longer than those who didn’t and were 23% less likely to die.

Fiction can improve empathy
Keith Oatley of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto found those who read fiction, especially literary fiction, outscored those in a test of empathy than those who did not read fiction. In his paper ‘Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds‘ Oatley found that engagement in the story, which includes the reader becoming emotionally involved and making inferences regarding the story and meeting complex characters which we may not meet in out day to day lives, people can improve their understanding of others.

Reducing stress through reading
A piece from The Telegraph newspaper reports Dr. David Lewis of the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. After reading for only 6 minutes, subjects of Dr. Lewis’ study lowered their heart rate and eased muscle tension. They found that stress levels were lower than when they started the study. This reduction in stress was shown to be more efficient and quicker than, going for a walk (42% reduction), playing video games (21% reduction), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54% reduction) and listening to music (61% reduction).

Audio books give a boost to gym sessions
Something I’ve found to work on a personal level is bringing a good audio book to the gym. Listening to music as you blast the calories is one thing but an audio book can suck you into its plot and block out everything else. I’ve pushed through more pain and discomfort by focusing on a story than I have with music. No research to provide for this one, apart from my own (o:

Image by Poodar Chu

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Something that made me chuckle (o:

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To Study or Not To Study?

Goals setting for year resolution and new project

A Masters degree in creative writing.

Advice on whether to study this is mixed at best. The verdict is that people simply don’t know whether you need some formal study to become a writer or better writer.

A nice piece I found on the Guardian.com describes what a lot of writers think about writing courses, that

A. That is cannot be taught

AND

B. That a course can only enhance what talent the writer naturally has, to begin with.

This might be so but there are other merits I believe to studying a writing course, whether it be taken in a University or otherwise. Firstly a formal course will expose you to other forms of writing and teach you how to work with a variation of the craft. By this, I mean writing poetry or script writing or non-fiction. Using the course I plan on taking with the Open University in Ireland as an example, I have the option to choose two different styles of writing. The choices are fiction, script, poetry, and non-fiction. Having the choice to tackle two styles teaches new techniques and perspectives on the craft itself. Pushing one’s skills into another area may change their writing, in general, for the better.

Another benefit to studying a course is the access you gain to not only a community of like minded people but experts in the area too, in the form of lecturers and tutors. Using the resources at hand on a writing course can only help when it comes to shaping the craft of writing and pushing it to the next level. Critical analysis and critique of your work can be tough to take. It can be even harder to find people to do it sometimes. Having assignments and people paid to read and work through them in depth can only help a writer become an even better writer.

There are other benefits to studying regardless of the subject. It can be liberating to feel you are gaining knowledge about a particular subject and bettering yourself in the process. I, myself am a life long learner and would happily study anything but, from now and for the next two years it’ll be the Masters of Creative Writing (o;

Two preparatory books I’ve been working through are recommended for the course I’m about to start. The first is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings and the second is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings . I’ve found both books to be very comprehensive and the readings in each are excellent pieces to teach with. I’d recommend them to anyone who writes or is thinking about writing.

So, that’s it on the Masters in Creative Writing. I’ll update on how it is going but as always let me know what you think about writing courses below.

Until next time (o:

 

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Reading Pratchett and Writing Crime.

pablo (17)
This week I’ve been busy getting back into the writing swing of things and attempting to read a little more.

Writing is going pretty well. Book 2 is running along smoothly and learning so much about social media by working the the 30 day Book Marketing challenge as mentioned in my previous post (Online Book Marketing)

Twitter has become something I really enjoy using now, thanks to the great information gleaned from the challenge. Even decided to give Instagram a go (davidjdelaney1 if anybody wants to connect)

My other goal this week is to read more. I’ve fallen into a non-reading rut and find my imagination is shot without it. So I hit a couple of second hand book stores and grabbed a few books to line up (I love browsing through secondhand books, some great early and unique editions to find). Picked up Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wintersmith’, which I’m reading at the moment, about 25% through. I’m enjoying it a lot. The late, great writer had a wonderful way with words and can bring a smile to your face most of the time. I picked up Hugh Howey’s ‘Sand’ novel. This is such a good find as it shows how far reaching an author, who started as an indie, can reach. Picking up his book in a charity shop in Dublin city center was pretty nice. Lastly, I found a copy of Dean Koontz ‘The City’. I’ve heard good things about it and I’m a Koontz fan so it’s win win.

Short one this week but if there is anything to add I’ll be sure to pop up another post.

What have you been reading and what have you picked up secondhand that’s made you smile?

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Online Book Marketing

30-Day-BRHM-Marketing-Challenge-with-Logo_Twitter-ShareableThe last few weeks has been pretty deep troughs but quite nice peaks.

To get to to the peaky part I’ve been working on a 30 day book marketing challenge through Bad Red Head Media (it was a recommendation from the fantastic author and person Sue Colleta, please head on over to http://www.suecoletta.com/)
It’s a week into the challenge and there is still time to jump on board the challenge at http://badredheadmedia.com/services/the-30-day-badredheadmedia-book-marketing-challenge/ but so far it has been really great to work through twitter and the many tools available to manage it. I’ve learned a lot in regards to sharing content efficiently, managing follows and unfollows, using twitter to promote my fiction without the dreadful ‘PLEASE BUY MY BOOK’ tweets that fill most of our feeds. One of the main aspects I’ve likes about this has been the focus on building relationships on social media that not only highlight my fiction but lead to better and more meaningful interaction online.
I would highly recommend following the link above and checking it out.

Now, the word count. It’s been okay-ish. Managed 7,300 this week with a zero word count on Sunday. Would like to get to 10k this week or even double the number but we’ll see how it goes.

Recently I’ve had a longing to write short stories again. There is something about the format that really interests me and keeps me coming back to it time and time again. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know this how my writing journey started. Reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, he really advocate for the format and this struck a cord in me. The problem is I suppose is that the format does not earn much money and magazines are so inundated with submissions the likelihood of being published is slim… still something I like about the idea of writing them though!

Book 2 of my Dean Cornell series is coming along nicely. Have managed to write the ending already. One of those moments that simply came to me as I was day dreaming about something completely unrelated. I’m pretty happy with the results though. My Science Fiction story has stagnated a little. I familiar with the genre to read but writing it can be a tough one. Either way, the challenge is well underway so all that it left to do it continue until there is something worthwhile to show for it.

So, it’s back to my scrivener file and time to get that 10k down.

Let me know how you are going and as always thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

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Week 1 of 2016 down… and a little about writing barriers.

ebook; real book

One week down.

Hope is been great for everyone reading this out there…and just to throw it out there I came across the website… http://www.xmasclock.com/  (o;

So, the writing has been patchy. Here and there. Still struggling to nail the daily word count but I’m still trying. I’ll talk about a little why later but for now I wanted to throw a project out there that I’m working on. I met a group of awesome people online who write in a variety of genres and rock each one. They were really to invite me into their group to collaborate on a science fiction project with a difference. The twist was to choose a fairy tale and give it a science fiction twist. Not wanted to give myself an easy road, I chose ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ I loved the story as a child and knew it more than any other so thought, ‘why not.’

The story was difficult to give a sci fi twist but I think I’ve come up with something. My story involve interstellar colonization and invasion which tie in well to the story but it’s giving the story a feel of arrogance, arrogance of those who feel they know better but end up loosing nearly everything. Anyway, it’s in the process and will hopefully come to fruition by end of Feb.

My other project is my second book in the Dean Cornell Series. This has been a slow build for me but I can safely say the juices are flowing again. It’s been really influenced by two sources, 1. Angela Marson’s amazing Detective Kim Stone series of books (check them out if this is your cup of tea, awesome Angela’s Amazon Page) and 2. A BBC series called ‘Luther,’ which has such great characters and develop them incredibly well (Luther on IMDB). 

Both are well worth a look and are really giving me much to think about with my own fiction.

 

Now the other thing I wanted to talk about was a little more sensitive and something I would suspect affects many other people out there.

Depression Relief and conquering mental adversity with a pencil eraser removing a tear drop from a close up of a human face and eye as a concept of emotional support and therapy.

It’s about depression and anxiety. This is something that has plagued me on and off for as long as I can remember and it’s one thing that has placed the biggest and most difficult to remove barriers to my motivation to write. I have had days where ideas would desperately want to get out, my imagination would be running wild with thoughts, fueled inspirations galore only to fall flat when something triggers a sense of deep sadness within me. It’s so very hard to explain sometimes how and why this happens but it does and it’s very real. Help is everywhere, people are more than willing to listen but having to tell them or having to hear the words of admission from your own mouth can be like a dagger to the heart. At least, it was for me.

I’ve written about character who have been depressed and anxious and know exactly what they should do. I know who they should see and why but when fiction becomes real life those plans don’t seem to translate quite as easily. I only write this now and say these things because I’ve recently opened up about the darkness that descends sometimes. It’s been unbelievably frightening but cathartic to do so. People were willing to listen to me and begin to understand why I was feeling like that. It hasn’t been easy and sometimes people take it as a failure on their part for not being there for you but they do understand eventually. Admittance is one part. The next part is far bigger, it’s getting help for it. This is where I feel we all differ completely and one size does not fit all. Therapy is a powerful tool to use but doesn’t work for everyone. There are various types of therapies to avail of too so if depression and/or anxiety are something you suffer with. Pharmacological therapies are aplenty and these work very well for people in the short and long term but getting to the root cause is always the long term goal with mental health issues. Once the core of the issues is exposed which can be very very tough to do and even tougher to understand and deal with but once it’s out there it’s there to be dealt with.

A resource I’ve been using lately which I find really good. Happify (Happify) is an app based site that uses a variety of methods to improve moods and help deal with an array of mental health issues.

So that’s my small piece to add to this very vast subject. All I can say to finish here is that it’s okay to admit it, it’s better to talk about it and it’s a journey to deal with it but in the end it’ll be a well worth it.

The words Road to Happiness in white letters on a street leading to a smiley face

 

 

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