Category Archives: Writing

Have you read, “Peak–Secrets from the New Science of Expertise”?

artist-mom

By: Tina Davidson

Did you ever dream of becoming great at something? Maybe it was singing or playing piano?

Well, with enough deliberate practice you might just make your dreams come true.

I’ve been reading,”Peak–Secrets from the New Science of Expertise,” by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. I recommend you pick up a copy. It is fascinating stuff and I won’t give away too much. Let’s just say I was especially impressed with the memorization skills of London taxi drivers.  I was also quite intrigued with Laszlo Polgar’s experiment–his goal was to raise three genius children. It seems he succeeded.

Here’s my favorite quote from Peak (pg. 179):

“Deliberate practice can open the door to a world of possibilities that you may have been convinced were out of reach. Open that door.”

I hope I’ve shared enough to “peak” your interest about the book.

Let me know what you think!

 

 

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Mud… Friend or Foe?

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Foot model: Thea Gavin

By: Tina Davidson

Book Review

Fuzzy Mud (2015) by Louis Sachar

When I was growing up, I don’t remember reading any good fiction on microscopic creatures.

Recently, when looking for quality reading material (anything that didn’t have Star Wars in the title) for my third grade son, I stumbled upon Fuzzy Mud. It had been placed on the top shelf by a kind librarian, making it easy for tall children (and short mothers) to spot. As any good mother would, I checked out the front and back cover to see if it was appropriate for my child. To my glee, this was no longer a book I was checking out for my son… I had stumbled on a book for me.

Louis Sachar had me at Fuzzy Mud because the Fuzzy Mud book cover mentioned his Newberry Medal Winner, Holes.

I remember Holes fondly because as an adult I got paid to read it. Technically, my supervisors had tasked me with the job of cataloging books to create a mobile library but I found time on my “breaks” to finish Holes in two days. Holes stood out among the other books for young readers that I had the chance to peruse while on the job.  I found Holes humorous and fun–a great escape from the reality of my job (creating the library was the highlight of that job).

When glancing at the cover of Fuzzy Mud, after noticing who the author was, the book did not give off the vibe of fun. The cover art of Fuzzy Mud depicts two children wandering into the woods with one child trailing behind them. The woods do not look inviting. The text on the back cover of the book reads, “Be careful. Your next step may be your last.” Yikes…

The book features Tamaya, Sachar’s 5th grade heroine, and two other main characters, Marshall and Chad,  7th grade boys. Fuzzy Mud features a silent villain, slime mold. This “fuzzy mud” contains “a single-celled, high-energy microorganism” referred to as an ergie or ergonym.  Although the ergie was invented for good it eventually becomes a “Frankengerm.” According to the book, an ergie can only be seen by an electron microscope.  When the characters come in contact with the contaminated mud scary things happen.

I read this book out loud to my son.  When I asked him about it later and if his younger brother would enjoy it, he said, “No. It is too scary.”

This is a good family read that sparks discussion, but there are elements of suspense and danger that might frighten some young children.

It will definitely make you think twice before stepping in a mud puddle.

TinaDavidson-Barefeet-mud

Disclaimer: No one was injured by ergies when stepping in this mud puddle.

What about you? Read any good books on slime mold or microorganisms lately?

 I’d love to hear about them.

 

**This is my personal blog. It is solely my opinion.**

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Filed under Barefoot, Book Review, Uncategorized, Writing

The 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference and My Brain

fishtank

By: Tina Davidson

What’s scarier? That the average human attention span is 8 seconds? Or that the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds?

(I want to know what gives goldfish the edge to hang on for that extra second and was it Gill’s good looks or his attention span that got him the part as Bob’s pet goldfish in the movie, “What About Bob?”)

With attention span on the decline due to the distractions caused by shiny electronic gadgets, it is a wonder I sat and listened to a recent FOUR HOUR talk given by Brian Schwartz. Thankfully, there was a break, so I didn’t actually sit the entire four hours and the material was engaging so my brain didn’t feel like exploding. While Brian was talking, I felt like I was back in the good old days– when I attended Cal Poly and took notes with a pen and notebook that couldn’t be powered on or off.

(Brain Tip: Handwriting is actually better for your brain than typing– watch the video linked on the further reading section of my post Can Writing and Success Help Your Brain?).

Schwartz’s presentation, “12 Steps to Becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author,” was one of the several workshops at the 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference, which took place at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo on September 19 & 20.

About four years ago, I was pretty excited about self-publishing, so my mom lent me her copy of Dan Poynter’s manual on self-publishing. This topic still interests me so my brain soaked up all the new information that Schwartz presented on the subject. Schwartz is an expert when it comes to publishing and helping authors market their Kindle books.  He’s a great resource and I recommend you listen to one of his talks, sign up for his email tutorials, and purchase his ebook software if you have self-publishing aspirations.

What are you afraid of?

Maybe you’ve always wanted to write something or attend a writers’ conference but fear stopped you from pursuing your dream. It is common to let fear prevent one from taking action. Both Brian Schwartz and the closing speaker, Don Maruska, touched on the issue of fear. Maruska’s presentation really caught my attention because he touched on neuroscience and how we lose our best thinking to fear.

As a Master Certified Coach, Maruska helps people figure out how to get their best brain working for them so they can achieve their goals.

One simple way Maruska helped the conference attendees get their best brains working was to have them perform an exercise meant to start pumping oxygen into their brains.

Something as simple as standing up and touching your right elbow to your left knee and then switching elbows and knees will suffice. This exercise crosses the midline in your brain (meaning you get the right and left side of your brain working) and this helps you to focus better and use your cerebral cortex, thinking brain, instead of your amaygdala, the flight or fight part of your brain. These helpful exercise tips apply to anyone who needs to keep their mind sharp or pay attention longer than a goldfish.

How can you just sit there?

So, perhaps you’ve pushed your writing fears aside but now you have writer’s block. Might I suggest a walk?

Deborah Netburn, journalist for the Los Angeles Times, covered a study that showed how walking, as opposed to sitting, boosts creativity.  She quoted Marily Oppezzo, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University and the lead author of the study:

“Our study shows everybody’s creativity improved when they were walking compared to themselves when they were sitting,” she said. “It’s so cool that you can just go out, take a walk, and make your creativity better.”

So, whether you have writer’s block or need a creative boost, walking can help.

One of the conference attendees asked Anne Perry, author and key-note speaker at the conference, how she dealt with writer’s block.  Apparently, she doesn’t have it because she writes around 42 page outlines for each of her books and recommends this approach to others.

No one asked Anne Perry if she walks regularly. I’m curious.

What inspires you? 

Now that you’ve walked, written your outline, and your muse is talking to you again, perhaps you need a little more inspiration?

Jeannett Hanscome’s class was just the inspiration I needed to get back on track with my writing.

Hanscome, an author, writer, and teacher, encouraged me with her insight on writing to inspire. She co-authored the book, “Running with Roselle,” based on the experiences of a blind man, Michael Hingson, and his guide dog, Roselle, who escaped together from the world trade center on September 11th. The story alone is inspiring and also the fact that Hanscome collaborated with Hingson.  Hanscome by definition is considered legally blind although she wouldn’t agree with that label.

Now what?

I hope you plan to be the hero in your own talent story as Maruska encouraged.

Will I see you at next year’s writing conference in San Luis Obispo?

I’ve already signed up at the early early bird rate. You can find information to sign up here. My brain always loves a bargain and is eager to learn more.

Sources & Writing Resources

http://www.statisticbrain.com

Netburn, Deborah. “Researchers concluded cognitive benefits of walking were specific to creative thought.” Los Angeles Times April 26, 2014.

A special thanks to the following 2014 Central Coast Writers’ Conference presenters whose workshops I attended:

Brian Schwartz -12 Steps to Becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author

Jeanette Hanscome – Write to Inspire

Anne Perry – Plotting to Enhance Your Backstory

Mara Purl – World Building for a Series

Greg Pincus –  Don’t Tell- Write a Scene

Don Maruska – Take Charge: Become the Hero of Your Talent Story

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