Thursday, November 21, 2013

Story: Your Brain on Drugs

with guest Mary Curry

Confession time: I'm a craft book junkie. More accurately, I'm addicted to buying craft books. I can't claim to have read all (or even most) of them, but I have A LOT. Over the years I've developed favorites. Anne Lamott's bird by bird gets credit for keeping me sane as a writer. Robert McKee's Story intimidates me simply by its size. Elizabeth Sinclair's The Dreaded Synopsis and Deb Dixon's GMC have held places of honor on my writing shelf for over a decade. There's Vogler and Swain, Maass and Bell,  Gardner and Snyder, Cameron and Hauge. Rebecca McClanahan teaches me to paint with words and Noah Lukeman offers advice on staying out of the rejection pile in The First Five Pages. The list goes on and on. King, Stein, Goldberg, etc., etc.

So seriously, is there any way to justify purchasing another craft book?

Can you see me cocking my head and giving you the evil eye?

One can never have too many craft books, right?

We could debate that, but today I just want to share with you my newest favorite.

Wired for Story:  The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence. By Lisa Cron

How can a title like that not snag your interest?

The back cover blurb says:

Imagine knowing what the brain craves from every tale it encounters, what fuels the success of any great story, and what keeps readers transfixed. Wired for Story reveals these cognitive secrets - and it's a game changer for anyone who has ever set pen to paper.

That was enough to convince me to purchase a copy!  (Clearly Barnes & Noble has reason to love me!)

I'm really, really glad I did. I've learned so much about storytelling from this book. My copy is full of Post its and underlining and notes written in the margins. I read and thought about my stories, realized where I was going wrong, and got excited about new ways to do it right.  And I've learned to look at story in a whole new light.

The book is chock full of so many interesting points that I'd need a month of posts to do it justice. Rather than doing a poor job summarizing, I'm hoping to whet your appetite with some of the more intriguing thoughts, and prompt some discussion on your thoughts about neuroscience and writing.

I also want to use this study of brain science and story as a lens to look at our roles as writers of inspirational fiction.

Calgon Take me Away

Any of you who are a certain age may recall the Calgon ads - usually a harried housewife pleading, "Calgon, take me away."

Stories have always been my Calgon. The one reliable escape from madness.

But according to Lisa Cron, I've had it all wrong. Stories aren't about escape, but rather about survival.

 "Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience reveal that our brain is hardwired to respond to story; the pleasure we derive from a tale well old is nature's way of seducing us into paying attention to it." (p. 1)

And why do we have to pay attention? 

To survive.

Lisa Cron discussed her book on Writer Unboxed saying,

 "By letting us vicariously experience difficult situations and problems we haven’t actually lived through, story bestows upon us, risk free, a treasure trove of useful intel, just in case. And so back in the Stone Age, even though those shiny red berries looked delicious, we remembered the story of the Neanderthal next door who gobbled ‘em down and promptly keeled over, and made do with a couple of stale old beetles instead."

So story is essential to our survival.

What does that have to do with us as writers?

Because of the way our brains are wired, we respond in certain ways. According to Cron, this explains why some stories captivate us while others leave us cold.

She claims writers often mistakenly believe that beautiful prose and fascinating plots make good stories.


Have you ever read a beautifully crafted writing sample that left you feeling nothing? Or one that was so perfectly structured you were conscious of the craft? By contrast, books that are universally acknowledged as horribly written often become mega best sellers.


Because they appeal to our cravings for story.

What makes a story work is that inescapable need for the brain to know what is going to happen next. That's what keeps us awake at night reading. Curiosity is roused. Your survival instincts kick in. It's a drug - literally
. A dopamine* rush. 

Sounds easy, right?

Apparently that's another way we go wrong.

Because stories engage our attention effortlessly, they seem easy to write. And that's where our job can become difficult.

"Not only do we crave story, but we have very specific hardwired expectations for every story we read." (p. 10)

For the remainder of the book, Cron goes through these expectations step by step, explaining how we can create our stories in a manner that gives readers that dopamine high.  Each section begins with a Cognitive Secret and a related Story Secret.

There's so much more information about mirror neurons, plot expectations, the protagonist as her own worst enemy, meeting reader expectations, etc.  So much  good stuff that not only do I seriously recommend this book for your own reading, but I'm going to give away a copy to one lucky commenter. More about that in a bit.

Now I'd like to shift the focus slightly. Seeing that this is Seekerville and most of us write inspirational fiction, I couldn't help but think of discussing this book with our particular writing in mind.

We're following in the footsteps of the greatest storyteller ever known. Jesus taught with stories to make lessons accessible and meaningful to his people.

As I read Wired for Story, I couldn't help but wonder, can we use the discoveries of neuroscience to help build the Kingdom of God?

Early in the book, Cron writes;

"Writers can change the way people think simply by giving them a glimpse of life through their characters' eyes. They can transport readers to places they've never been, catapult them into situations they've never dreamed of, and reveal subtle universal truths that just might alter their entire perception of reality." (p. 2)

That can be a powerful burden or an awesome opportunity.

There's so much wonderful information in this book about how to carefully craft your story to meet reader expectations. I think we could easily learn to adapt those techniques to subtly craft a message that inspires.

So what do you think?

Are you interested in learning more about how neuroscience can help you craft engaging stories?

Do you think we should use this knowledge and these skills to evangelize?

Did I thoroughly confuse you?

I can't really begin to do neuroscience credit in one blog post, so I'm offering a copy of Lisa Cron's book, Wired for Story (ebook or paper), as a prize. Please let us know in the comments if you want to be in the drawing. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

If you're interested in more information, Lisa Cron has a website here. 

and can be found on Writer Unboxed  

*According to Psychology Today, Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses.

Mary Curry

Mary is a teacher, mother, wife and writer.  And a lifelong reader. That passion for reading transformed over time into a compulsion to create stories of her own. She’s been writing  and contesting for many years and along the way has garnered a few writing credits including being a three time Golden Heart finalist and the 2011 Genesis winner for Contemporary Romance. She has recently won Duel on the Delta, Touched by Love, and the Laurie.

Mary can be found on Facebook:


Her own blog can be found at My Place By the Sea


  1. collect craft books...I'm a collector, too. I collect all kinds of things that I never use, including coupons! But I am a collector of books.. Especially good books. And why wouldn't we be wired for stories? Jesus knew that when he taught through stories. Great post, even for those of us that are not writers, but readers, listeners. Have a great day!

  2. MARY!!! WELCOME BACK!! I loved this post so much, I already bought the book.

    Thank you for this cerebral post.

  3. Loved the book excerpts. Please include my name in the drawing. Thank you.

  4. I also collect craft books. I love these ideas. Total win. Going over to Amazon. Thanks, Mary!

  5. Hey, there, Mary!!! So good to see you here :)

    I always knew there was something about stories beyond putting nouns and verbs together...this book has me intrigued!

    Put my name in the drawing, but I'm still putting the book in my Amazon cart just in case.

  6. MARY CURRY!!!! My friend who took the train into Wall Street to have coffee with me on the sweet streets of Manhattan in August!!!! How delightful was that????

    LOVED IT!! Mary and Dave and I chatted a morning away with coffee and a few bugs... :) In the shadow of Our Lady of Victory Church, a beautiful church tucked amidst the wheelings and dealings of the financial district.

    Okay, I love what you've uncovered here, because I think you've actually spelled out what I see/call "an organic" story, a story that effortlessly flows from the trunk of the plant, into the flowering, fruit-bearing branches, and touches feelings all the way.

    Mary, this is my goal with every story. To engage the reader at some level of thinking, to give them delight but also provoke an image that won't just disappear or dissipate at the book's close. You know the Harvard research project on Alzheimer's? The one that says you can help refresh your brain and memory skills by linking things to something memorable?

    I believe that organic or neuro-science linking books do just that. It's the mix of emotions, that roller coaster ride, that seem to offer the best all-around memorable experience and that inspires readers to want more books. (so then it becomes a numbers game, always down to the numbers!!!)

    And not all books will do that for all people, tastes are individual, but you nailed it, Mary! And said it so well that I totally identified with the post even though the craft book obsession is making my brow furrow... (runs for anti-wrinkle cream, applies liberally!!!)



    Thank you, Mary Curry, my New Yorker buddy!

  7. Hi Mary,
    What a great post. Thanks for sharing this book with us and the great tips. Please add my name to the drawing. Thanks!

  8. Good opening, Seekerville!

    Okay, my brain isn't fully awake yet, but for some reason I heard that in Robin Williams's voice yelling, "Good morning, Vietnam!" Have I just dated myself?

    It's good to be back here today. Originally this post was going to be an update on my "Into the Mist" post from awhile back, but I told Tina I had something better. Hope you all agree. :)

    I guess the spread today should be brain food, so let's roll out some blueberries and almonds or walnuts. You can choose - muffins or oatmeal.

    And of course it's a good excuse for dark chocolate.

  9. Good morning, Marianne.

    I'm a compulsive ooh collector. My husband and I have date day at Barnes & Noble every week. Even though we can't possibly read fast enough, we feel lost if we don't get our weekly bookstore time. I guess bookstores are my happy place.

  10. Hi Tina,
    Just had a thought as I read Marianne's comments. I don't want readers left out, so I'm adding a prize. Anyone who would prefer to be in the drawing for a Seeker book instead, leave a note in the comments. I'll toss that in as a prize because hey, it's just another chance to buy a book!

    Plus I get to support my wonderful Seeker friends in the process.

  11. Love this. Put me in the drawing.

    Oh, those Calgon ads. Like how many moms out there would really be left in peace to enjoy their bubbles?

    Oh, and Ruthy, just a reminder Mary was my roommate at RWA this past summer. She spreads the joy she brings around!

    Peace, Julie

  12. *waves madly to Mary!*

    Oh, this is a great post! I have a few craft books. Not many. But I did just buy 'How To Steal Like An Artist', a little book full of wisdom on the creative process.

    I got half-way through Ruthy's comment and had to get more coffee.

  13. You're in, Cathy!

    Piper! Someone who understands my addiction!

    I have to admit, the reason I usually never finish reading craft books is because they make me eager to go try out the skill on my own writing, and then once I'm sucked in, I forget to go back (or life just interferes).

    This one had that same effect, but it captivated me so much, I had to keep reading - which sort of proves her point.

  14. Good morning, Jan.

    Yes - so much more than simply linking nouns and verbs, true? But on the other hand, it's simply about choosing which nouns and verbs and asking how and why we're putting them together for maximum effect.

  15. Hi MARY and welcome to Seekerville. What an interesting book you presented to us. I love stuff like that and will surely have to get that book.

    Thanks for sharing and have fun today. I still think of you often everytime I see someone running around taking photos with their ipad. You were so much fun at the RWA conference in Atlanta.

  16. MARY that is so thoughtful of you to include a Seeker book for our readers in case their name is drawn. Again. Have fun today. smile

  17. Mary Curry! A woman after my own heart! I have almost all the books you mentioned. I have the three books on writing that Sol Stein wrote. I like those really well!
    Going to check this new one out!! Thanks for this very interesting post.

  18. I am a collector of books. Much to the dismay of my husband. I learned this skill early in life and while I have let many of my collectibles go through the years I currently have a wonderful collection with books form pretty much all of the Seekers.

    Mary, thank you for introducing us to this book. It sounds wonderful and YES, I want to be entered to win a copy. Thank you so much.

    Today is my birthday and I think I'm going to ask my hubby to take me to the book store so I can add a book or two to my collection. I do read the books in my collection although I think the collection is gaining on me. :)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com


    Wow, this is a fascinating post. It deserves more time to be read and absorbed and I already need to go over it a second time and maybe a third.

    Wired for Story.

    How do people think of these things.

    I can NEVER write a How To book. I'm already panicking about next month's installment of creating characters.

  20. PS we don't even HAVE a bathtub in the house anymore. We just RIPPED IT OUT! Who were we kidding anyway?
    Who's got time to soak in a tub?

  21. Recognized some of those craft books from my own shelf! LOL This craft book sounds intriguing. Please include me in the drawing. The one quote from the book is much of the reason I write. How exciting to give to the reader such an experience, right?

  22. I shouldn't answer out of order because I'll end up missing someone. I still feel guilty for missing Jan's comment the last time I was here.

    But, I want to respond to Mary Connealy's comment.

    One of my problems with this book was that each time I read a chapter, I'd think it was the best one yet.
    The. I'd read the next one and think the same thing.

    I guess which chapter is best for you depends on what you most want to work on, but the chapter on character development was SO helpful to me.

    Hope lightning doesn't strike me down, but it may be the chapter that turned me into a plotter. Lisa Cron made such a great case for the importance of plotting out your character's backstory and motivations, that she convinced even this diehard mist writer.

  23. Chilly day here in AZ. Loving it. Great day to curl up with a great craft book!!!

  24. I like craft books, but I only have a few, so count me in for the drawing! I could definitely use it.
    I've read a couple of books lately that were written well, but the stories did nothing for me. Now I know why lol!

  25. Oh, Mary. I LOVED THIS. PLEASE put me in for the drawing for the craft book!

    I remember those Calgon ads. ;) We used to reenact them when I was a girl.

    I am a collector of books too. We have floor to ceiling book cases in the house, and both are filled with books. Most of which I have yet to read. I have a few craft books, but not tons. This one sounds like a must-read. I'm so glad you mentioned it here!

    TINA—It's SNOWING in Colorado. I'm sure you're missing being here today. ;)

  26. I love it when you find a book that really clicks!!!

  27. Hi Mary

    I never buy craft books, though I do follow writer how-to blogs. I'd make an exception for Wired for Story. I agree with everything it says. Yes, scare me, worry me, make me yearn, surprise me, keep me guessing.

    Yes, Jesus taught in parables so people could understand, and we can make people relate to our stories for good.

    Please put me in the drawing, but if I don't win, I'll probably have to buy the book anyway.

    Thanks for pointing out that story is king.

  28. Mary, I love me a good writing craft book! I have several (most) of the ones you mentioned. Everything you wrote about WFS sounds fascinating.

    I believe some authors write that way instinctively. The rest of us need the book. :p Please enter me.

  29. I'm at work, so just ducking in to respond to some comments while the children are off at computer class.

    Hey roomie, Julie. San Antonio is coming closer. Just saying.

    Funny thing about those Calgon ads - I must have been a kid when they were on (no snorting please!), but I remember them so much. I wonder if my mom made sure we saw them so we'd give her some peace. I think I remember buying Calgon for my grandmother.

    It's interesting to apply this post to the story in commercials too. Why do some stick in our minds?

    I still remember sighing over the Prince Matchabelli Windsong heroes. "I can't seem to forget you, your Windsong stays on my mind." I shudder to think how much money I spent on Windsong because my adolescent heart went pitter- patter over that commercial.

    Or those Nescafe ads with the ruggedly handsome sailor on the ship. I searched out those world mugs just so I could sip my coffee from the same kind of mugs he used.

  30. Donna, YES! Actually Lisa Cron raises that point - that some authors do this instinctively. The encouraging part is that she believes even those of us w ho don't can learn how to do it and write a compelling story.

    The exact quote (from page 88) is "Some lucky pups are simply born with a natural sense of story, the way some people have perfect pitch. They can toss off a laundry list and it comes out so nuanced and moving that you're weeping over the plight of poorly sorted socks."

    I know some writers like that. I've even been a critique partner to one. Hint Hint.

  31. Oh - that last comment wasn't meant to be cryptic or to ignore all the other talented writers here, but reading that quote made me think of Virginia's post yesterday on the Yankee Belle. If you haven't read it - go see how easy and entertaining she made it seem to have a retirement party for a hand mixer.

  32. Jackie, you're in for the drawing. Thanks for stopping by.

  33. Virginia - another craft book! Oh yay. You can be sure my husband thanks you. ;)

  34. Hi Mary Hicks. I'm so glad you understand my addiction. I'm not sure I fit even half of my books in that picture. My husband was very relieved w hen our eldest moved out and I could take over her room for my overflowing collection because if you think I have a lot of craft books, you should see my collection of books on teaching and education!


  35. You're in Courtney.

    It's frustrating to have a beautifully written book leave you cold. I have the same reaction to books where I can feel the writer's effort to be clever. Those are wallbangers for me. I don't want to be pulled out of the story by the writing.

    I guess this would be a good place to add in that there is definitely an appreciation for beautiful writing in Lisa's book. Her point is simply that the writing must serve the story. If not, it puzzles our brain which expects all of the information to be relevant.

  36. RUTHY! Did I skip over Ruthy? I might have ignited a Seekerville brush fire because I skipped over my fellow New Yorker to comment on the other Mary C's comment.

    No foul intended. ;) I'll even buy the coffee next time you're in town.

    I love how brain research helps us in areas as diverse as writing and Alzheimer prevention.

    In my education classes I learned how brain scans have shown that the brains of children with dyslexia light up in different places than do non-dyslexic brains. That knowledge provides such useful knowledge in working with young children because we can retrain the reading responses and build new neural pathways.

  37. Oh dear - looks like I'm hogging the comments. Can you tell how much I love visiting with you all at Seekerville?

    Hello Sandra! Meeting you was one of the highlights of RWA for me. Thanks for stopping by to hang out with me today.

  38. Cindy, I'm lucky because my husband is as much of a book collector as I am. His books line the walls of our hallways, living room, bedroom, office. And that doesn't even count the boxes of books he gave away to a local church book sale last year. He had to stop himself from going to the sale and buying more than he had donated.

  39. Elaine, you might want to check out the link for Writer Unboxed. Lisa posts there.

    Kids are coming back. I'll be back at lunch. ;)

    By the way - this book had way more info than I could possibly include in the post so if anyone has any specific questions, I'd be happy to try to answer them.

  40. Mary tell us how (besides plotting) this book impacted your current WIP.

    And then explain to me how you write with such a busy life.

    Going to RWA San Antonio???

  41. Oh, Mary, over the past 30+ years I've probably collected every single one of those craft books you mentioned. They're all still weighing down my office bookshelves, and with each one I read, I always found at least one gem of writerly advice, inspiration, or instruction.

    I finally gave up my addiction to craft books, figuring if I haven't picked up on a skill by now, reading another book isn't going to help.

    And yet . . . here you go tempting me with one more!

    And the concept is so intriguing! I know I'm personally addicted to story. Books, movies, TV--if it tells an emotion-packed story with characters that draw me in, I can't resist. I even make up stories in my head at night as I'm falling asleep!

    So I'm with Tina--would LOVE to hear specifics about how this book made an impact on the writing of your current wip. Convince me and I just might have to order it!

  42. Thanks for all the information. I'm a huge book collector. Please put me in the drawing for the craft book. I've actually read the ones I have. Course, I only have 5-6 of them.

    Jeanne T, your snow is headed my way! Yay! I live just south of the Texas Panhandle. By the time it gets here we'll be lucky to get a flurry or two!

  43. Mary, put me in the drawing. You're not the first person to recommend this book. I'm going to have to get my hands on it and read it soon.

    I used to be a craft book junkie, but I haven't read one in a few years now. May have to change that soon. :)

  44. awesome post! i would LOVE to be in the drawing for the book. i think i could use the help. i have a few craft books, more for animation than writing (since I animate...*heh*) I try to limit book purchases because I've no more bookshelf space. My poor little four year old doesn't have a room completely his own because of all of mommy's books (but side good thing - there's lots there for him to grow into loving reading).

    RUTHY is a born wired for story storyteller. Her books hit my emotional core from page one to THE END. I think the Connealy is too, because of the same.

    Definitely a food for thought post today and dad-gum... yet another book for my Amazon Wish List *sigh*.

  45. Tina, the second question is easier to answer – not very well. When life is going smoothly (HAH!), I like to get up and write before work because I don’t have much energy left after school and tutoring. But that’s when it’s going well. ;)

    That actually leads me into how this book helped though. I would bring it with me to read on the subway to and from work. Because it excited my brain, and got me to thinking, it sort of helped revive my energy . That and a lot of coffee help me get some words in.

    Specifically though, there were a couple of lightbulb moments.
    I may be showing myself for a completely clueless writer to admit these, but here goes. I’m a very visual learner so seeing how to do something was invaluable. For example – in the chapter on character I mentioned above, Lisa actually went through the process of developing two characters. Much of what she said is very similar to the ideas in Deb Dixon’s book, but the way she did it helped me.

    I know my characters need goals, motivations, and conflict, but developing those in coherent ways that propel a story is critical.

    What Lisa did was essentially work backwards, keeping in mind always that story is about change. You need to know how your character was before and what changed them to how they are after. This is the story arc we all know, but the key is in knowing your character so well that you’re “seeding” backstory as you go along.

    Let me just quote her – A butterfly may be beautiful in and of itself, but what makes it interesting is that it used to be a caterpillar. The “before” is the yardstick that allows the reader to measure the protagonist’s progress toward “after.”

    So, when you’re developing your characters, you’re going backwards in time to find that moment when the character’s life went out of whack. You’re looking for that moment when everything changed. Now, what about that is going to intersect with the dysfunction in your opposing character’s life?

    I know it probably sounds very familiar, but it was the step-by-step working backwards from the opening moment of the story – in search of the real driving forces – that was so instructive for me.

    To be continued...

  46. Ironically, my brain is not cooperating so maybe someone else can fill in the exact phrase, but one thing I’ve long heard editors complain about is submissions that are just a collection of scenes that don’t propel the story forward.

    Lisa specifically addresses this in terms of cognitive secrets. Our brains are wired to search for what has meaning, what is truly important to survival., so they instinctively filter out unimportant things. The implication for this in terms of writing is that all those scenes we love – that actually don’t impact the story – interfere with the brain’s appreciation of the story. Maybe that explains why editors who are so tuned into story instinctively react against it.

    Anyway, your first job is to zero in on the point you want your story to make and then be sure that everything else is focused toward that end and not just a collection of lovely scenes. Apparently our brains “abhor randomness” so that is actually a turnoff.

    There’s SO much more I could write about that impacted me, but I don’t want to bore you to tears. ;)

  47. That book sounds amazing, Mary! It's definitely going on my Christmas list...unless I win this one. :)

  48. Sally, I'm glad to hear someone else recommended it. I actually have banned myself from the craft book aisle for awhile because I still have so many I haven't finished reading.

    I'm like Myra though. If I glean even one gem from it, I'm satisfied.

    Meghan, you're in. Hope you enjoy the book whichever way you get it. Thanks for commenting.

    Readers out there, don't be turned off by the topic. Le me know you're here and you're in for a Seeker book drawing.

    I know I misses some people up above. I'll catch up once school is over.

  49. Mary, great to have you post side in Seekerville!! Thanks for sharing your take on Wired For Story. I'm impressed and will order it. I've got most of the craft books you mention. :-)

    I think we do use story to evangelize. Or would, if our readers didn't already know the Good News. So the question is, How can we attract those who don't to our stories?


  50. Hello Mary Curry.

    I'm one of those people who used to to take bubble baths fairly often until the tub got a leak. The thing is, I enjoyed it, but not as much as I should. I'd run a nice hot bath, get settled, then get up to get a book, settle back in and then worry about getting the pages wet, then the water would cool and I'd spend the rest of time trying to get it hot again. Big tubs are hard on the hot-water heater.

    Aren't ya'll happy to know that about me? Not really, huh?

    I have a few craft books, but I can walk past them. I'm always afraid I'll learn even more I need to implement and I'll go crazy.

    I like the point about survival. Some of the simpliest plots are the most stressful. Behind Enemy Lines is a literal life and death story, but I feel the same tension in Hoosiers when the town is against Gene Hackman. As if the townspeople weren't bad enough, then Barbara Hershey threatens to reveal his past.

  51. I'm a visual and auditory learner so I am very excited. Going to go see if it is available with audio.

  52. Do remember that you can always SAMPLE this book on Kindle or borrow it from the Lending Library if you are a Prime Member.

    Everyone connects differently with craft books. Find out if this one does it for you!!

  53. Hey Tina,

    I got the sample (and just reading the table of contents made me excited), but I don't see the borrowing link for Kindle on this one. Maybe you have pull with them I don't...


  54. You are right, Piper. And this is Random House, so possibly why. But no audio yet either.

    Hello Random House! I want to listen to this in my car.

  55. Weird, I thought I responded to Tina, but I guess it didn't go through. Thank you for reminding people they can sample. I've been a bit nervous that not everyone would find the book as intriguing as I do.

  56. Wow. Interesting info, Mary.
    You are deep.

  57. Seriously, Lyndee. This borders on Vince-land.

  58. I use to buy cross stitch and other craft magazines. have now whittled it down. I do it with books now.
    Oh a friend sent me Calgon once it was interesting I liked it but we dont have it here.

    My pain level is up today seems when I feel ill the pain increases. Cant concentrate today.

  59. Phew, read this earlier today but haven't had a chance to comment until now.

    Loved this post, Mary. I love the idea of the brain being hardwired to respond to story. That's certainly the way it is for me. I learn more from fiction than non-fiction. Reading good books is my go-to how-to. :-)

  60. WOW, Mare, I'm not much of a "how to" kind of gal when it comes to books. Like Ruthy, I don't read too many writing-craft novels, and I know I should.

    BUT ... I have to say that your presentation of this book reallllly makes me want to buy, so now see what you did???

    SO fun to see you here in this role -- you do it SO very well, my friend! :)


  61. I apologize to the people I didn't respond to earlier. Answering on an iPad with limited time isn't very reliable.

    I thought I was caught up, but OOOPS!

    Paula, I'm so glad you enjoyed that quote. Yes, absolutely a reason to write. Counting you in for the drawing.

    Jeanne, your house sounds like mine. I thank God my husband loves books as much as I do. I'm not sure I could have handled marriage to someone who didn't understand my need for books and reading time.

    Hi PatW. Hope you get some snow. As Jeanne said, a snowy day is great for snuggling up with a good book. Although I'm still pining over Debby Giusti's gorgeous windows.

  62. Jenny, I'm so sorry you're still feeling so poorly. My sister suffers chronic pain and I know how much it dominates her life. I'll be praying for you to feel better.

  63. Kav, that's particularly interesting with all the emphasis in education on reading non-fiction.

    I read a story to my class yesterday and when we discussed it afterwards, they remembered minute details. They sure don't remember out science text the same way.

    Thanks so much for coming back to comment.

  64. Wow, Tina. Vince land? I'm honored.

    Lyndee, I don't know if I deserve the credit for being deep. Lisa sure does because she goes deep but makes it so easy to understand.

    Janet, thanks so much for picking up on my question and asking one of your own. That is the all-important question, isn't it? I would love to hear what others think.

  65. Hello dear Mary!! I've been gone ALL day so am just now getting on my computer (after 9 p.m.) but HAD to say hello and what a GREAT post this is!

    And I didn't realize (or either I've forgotten *sigh*) your contest credentials - - WOW!! Very impressive!!

    I still have such fond memories of hanging out with you and sweet Julie Hilton Steele at RWA in July. It was so amazing that I'd never met you ladies in person, yet when I was with you both I felt like I'd known ya'll forever!

    Thanks again for sharing with us! Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

  66. Gosh, Julie, practically no one calls me Mare anymore. Makes me feel loved. ;)

    Sherri, I missed replying to you earlier. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Connie, your description of your bath sounds all too much like me when I'm reading a craft book - which is why so many of them go unfinished. ;(

    Great examples about compelling stories! Thanks for sharing.

    DebH - my kids grew up in a house where they were surrounded by books. Their classmates used to joke that they'd come to our house when they got a school assignment. Both girls are voracious readers so I guess surroundings helped.

  67. Hey there, PattiJo. I'm so glad I got to meet you in Atlanta. I totally agree that it felt like we'd known each other forever. Hope to see you again next year.

    Thanks for stopping by at the end of your long day.

  68. Mary, thanks for great information about the process of creating stories! Love your craft books. I have many of them.

    Ask if I've read them...

    Ah, no! Not all of them for sure!

  69. Wow! Ive got to have this book. Please enter me in the drawing, and thank you for sharing about this craft book, as if I need another one. :)

  70. Mary ... bird by bird is one of my all-time favorite writing books! Your post was so interesting and intriguing that I downloaded Wired for Writing, so don't enter me in the drawing.

    When I read "story is essential to our survival" it suddenly seemed so obvious ... that's one of the reasons oral traditions were to be repeated exactly as taught and the person they were entrusted to was honored. Wow and double wow!

    Thanks so much for the enlightenment :-)

    Nancy C

  71. Nancy, you'll have to let me know what you think. I hope you find it useful.

    Christina, I'm glad you like it, but apparently you're doing quite well without it. Congratulations on your beautiful new cover!

    Hello Debby,

    No beautiful homes to view in today's post, but hopefully an intriguing look into our story homes (and our brains).

  72. Mary,
    Excellent post and recommendation. I'm off to get my hands on a copy. I have long viewed Jesus as the ultimate teacher, sharing God's truth through relatable situations that every man could "see" themselves in. That's what stuck with each listener and helped them gain a new perspective.
    Thank you.

  73. Wow! This book sounds really interesting. Especially since it combines two of my favorite things- writing and science! I would love to be entered to win a copy. Thank you for this opportunity!

  74. Wow! I never would have thought that science had anything to do with stories! But now I know differently. And that's kind-of neat to think about. :)

    Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

  75. Mary, I'm so sorry I didn't get by yesterday! I was literally gone all day. Didn't get in until 10:30pm and then had to bake a pie and do my Yankee-Belle blog post about the pie! :)

    This is a fantastic post! Only you took my idea!!! LOL I saw an article about this and planned to write about it in my next post. :) :) Oh, well, maybe I can focus on another aspect after I buy the book and read it. :) Great minds think alike and all that, huh? :)

    Thanks for sharing! Very cool, interesting stuff. I know I certainly feel addicted while reading a really good book. I think this could be that "spark" we've heard talked about but can't really put a finger on.

    Now, I'm off to buy the book! :)

  76. I collect writing books too. This sounds like a good one. Please enter me in you draw.

  77. What fun to check back and see people are still visiting.

    KD, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you find the book useful Congrats on your GH win!

    Hi Lindsey, Janet, and Esther. Glad you found it interesting. I'm putting you in the drawing.

    Missy - OOOPS. Sorry to take up something you wanted to write about but honestly, there's so much in the book, we could probably do ten more posts on it.