Michille: Ambient Noise and Creativity

noiseI recently stumbled on an ambient noise website (Ambient Mixer) and found it helpful in my creative process. It blocked out the death rattle on our aging Advatium oven, the scritching and scratching of our highly allergic dog, and other aural distractions. I started to dig around for more sites that might have other ambient mixers that I could use and stumbled on a research study from 2012. Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition (Mehta, R., Zhu, R., & Cheema, A. (2012). Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(4), 784-799). I’ll start with the conclusion:

“Results from five experiments demonstrate that a moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products. A high level of noise (85 dB), on the other hand, hurts creativity. Process measures reveal that a moderate (vs. low) level of noise increases processing difficulty, inducing a higher construal level [physiological distance] and thus promoting abstract processing, which subsequently leads to higher creativity. A high level of noise, however, reduces the extent of information processing and thus impairs creativity.” Continue reading

Michille: First Lines

heath-when-the-duke-was-wickedEvery now and then, I (or my daughter, another voracious reader) bring home a bag of random books. This time, it was a bag of books from a colleague. We sat around the dining table after dinner tonight (last night for those reading this on Thursday) and read the first paragraphs of several of the books. There were several Debbie Macombers which I brushed off. I’ve read her stuff before and it’s great, but she doesn’t even open the bedroom door, much less close it after the kiss, and I like the sexual tension in stories and she doesn’t deliver that. There was a Nora Roberts and since she breaks a lot of rules, I wasn’t surprised that hers didn’t deliver the expected (it was a prologue), but Chapter 1 nailed it. We added in a Fern Michaels, a Susan Wiggs, a Lorraine Heath, a Kresley Cole, an Elizabeth Hoyt, and a Jayne Ann Krentz. In the interest of brevity, I’m going with the first lines of these books. It was illuminating to discuss which first lines intrigued us into an interest in reading further. Here is what we read. Continue reading

Michille: Mythological Romance

gerard_francoispascalsimon-cupid_psyche_endI’m digging back into my limited knowledge of mythology and looking for love stories, even the ones that end in tragedy. Well, if I threw all of those out there would be precious few to work with. A quick check on Wikipedia pulled up a page listing more than 40 pairs in 15+ cultures. A separate list of love/lust deities has more again. There are a lot of stories out there based on mythological couples. I know a friend of Justine has a series based on them. One of my stories is and I am exploring the possibility of adding that element to more of them. So which ones should I dig into? Continue reading

Michille: Never Too Late

SjhillWe Ladies are all writers. Some of us have more years of life experience than others among us, some of us have been writing for more years than others among us, also, but none of us are wet-behind-the-ears young. But we write. Every now and then there are articles, blog posts, 8LW conversations about ageism and age discrimination in the writing industry. Some writers wrote for a long time before getting published. Some didn’t start writing until later in life.

And for every article/post/conversation about ageism, there is one about how young a writer was when he/she got started. I was reading about Chaim Potok today (a clue in today’s NY Times Crossword – yes, I cheated and googled where he went to college, because, honestly, who actually knows that kind of stuff). He started writing fiction at 16. At 17, he made his first submission. It was rejected, but by 20 he was published and went on to achieve literary greatness. Continue reading

Michille: NaNoWriMo – A Different Approach

nanowrimo

I am doing NaNo this year. Sort of. I don’t intend to write 40,000 new words. I do intend to edit 40,000. In fact, I’d like to edit 100,000 words. I’ve been picking away at my first manuscript but haven’t been super dedicated so I haven’t gotten very far. I thought NaNo would be a month to re-focus on writing, but coming at it from the editing angle instead of the writing angle. Continue reading

Nancy: A Diamond in the Rough: Opening Scene

rough_diamondThis past week, I’ve been struggling with a side project, which is actually yet another revision of an old project, the Women’s Fiction manuscript I wrote during our McDaniel classes. The book is complete. It’s been through beta readers and revisions. It even made the rounds to a few agents and was roundly rejected. There was a lot of positive feedback in those rejections, but some negative comments as well. And the kicker was that story aspects some readers saw as positives and even loved, others saw as negatives.

Over the months of those rejections, I slowly (and painfully) made peace with the possibility that this book just wasn’t going to connect with publishing gatekeepers. Maybe someday I’d self-publish it, maybe not, but either way, other projects and deadlines and career choices called.

While I was finally ready to pack that old story into a drawer, my brain had other plans. I’d be happily immersed in 1870’s London with my new cast of characters when the three modern women from a rural Virginia town would take over my mind’s limited bandwidth. I’d be catching up with writing friends and discussing current projects, and my conversation would drift back to that old manuscript and we’d ponder what its fatal flaw might be.

The final straw came when I dreamed about the book. I spend a lot of time thinking and daydreaming about my characters and plot lines. I also tend to have vivid dreams. But rarely do these two things intertwine. I almost never dream about my writing projects. This story was different. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t quit it.

To end the constant interruptions, I decided to carve out a few hours of each day’s writing time to reread that old story in an attempt to figure out where it went wrong and whether I could rescue it. What better place to start than at the beginning? Continue reading

Michille: Planning for NaNo

nanoWith NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I am trying to plan out the rest of my story so I have lots of writing fodder to meet the 1,667 words-per-day goal. Just looking at that number doesn’t seem that hard to do, but I’ve done NaNo a couple times, and it is tough. I made the goal once, but only got to 35,000 the other time. Both times, I was starting from scratch. This time I have 40,000 and just want to finish the darned book. Continue reading