Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD

chemicals in the brainI ordered this book, Meet Your Happy Chemicals by Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD. The following is a summary of what the back book cover states about four brain chemicals. I thought learning about the chemicals would be useful in showing how our POV character or the antagonist could be deficient in

one or more of the chemicals, which could explain some of their behaviors.

Dopamine makes us jump for joy. Dopamine feels great so we try to get more. It rewarded our ancestors’ will to explore.

Endorphin helps us to mask pain. Our ancestors survived from predator attack because endorphin caused them to feel good. Exercise triggers endorphin so we can safely reach home. Laughing or crying triggers it too.

Serotonin is stimulated by the status aspect…the pride of associating with a person of a certain stature. It triggers our need for respect.

Oxytocin is stimulated by touch and by social trust. It flows when we stick with the herd and create social bonds. Herds protected our ancestors from harm.

In my WIP, Norman in the Painting, my protagonist, Jill, has a need for more dopamine and endorphin. Her inner fears cause her to love running. Her goal is to run three miles every day. The endorphin rush makes her feel safe. Her lack of dopamine causes her to have no desire to explore. She spent most of her years close to her hometown and has no interest in travel. I’ll make sure she will produce more dopamine that will help her grow in her character arc.

The antagonist has a severe deficiency in oxytocin and serotonin.

Does your character have a chemical deficiency?

Flash Fiction Book, UP, DO

Flash fiction bookPatricia Flaherty Pagan edited Up, Do, an anthology of thirty-three flash stories by award-winning and emerging writers. The four categories are “Our Hearts”, “Our Bodies”, “Our possible Futures”, and “Our Dreams; Our nightmares.” In the Introduction, Pagan writes:

“I subscribe to the theory that flash fiction is like a geode of a larger narrative. Slicing through the characters and the highest arc of the plot, the flash writer reveals the crystals shining within. Every movement of the blade, every word typed on the page, is crucial.”

Short stories have become popular again with readers. For writers, flash fiction in its required minimal word count is challenging . Pagan captures the essence of the form in her description. When well-written, flash fiction sparkles like gems in the mind.

I opened Up, Do at random and read, “Time Machine” by Melissa Webster. In its brevity, it evoked as strong a response as I had with the three hour movie in theaters now, Interstellar.

Flaherty Pagan earned her MFAW from Goddard College and founded the mission-oriented indie publisher Spider Road Press. Up, Do is available on Amazon and Kindle.

What Are You Reading?

Open book on top of three closedSince October is National Reading Group Month, are you in a reading group?

I’m not. But if I were, I’d request the group members read The Gravity of Birds, by Tracy Guzeman.

Here in the East Bay of San Francisco, the forecast is rain tomorrow, which we need for our drought. It was cloudy and windy today. I was happy to curl up with Guzeman’s book. Her settings put me right with the characters and I found myself hanging out with people I probably wouldn’t in real life. But they are my friends now and I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen next. TheGravityofBirds-158x240I should have been writing the last half of the next chapter in my novel, but the artist and the men who acquisition art in Guzeman’s book tore me away from the computer. It’s not just an excuse not to write, it was a special treat for me since I don’t schedule enough reading time.

What are you reading? Or what book have you finished lately?

Interview with Jordan Bernal

d-jordan-bernalJordan Bernal is president of The California Writers Club, Tri-Valley Writers Chapter. She has won awards for her recently published novel, The Keepers of Eire, and has several stories and poems in various publications.

In my anthology, Written Across the Genres, Jordan has an essay titled “Reflections”, a poem called “Dreams”,  and a novel excerpt from The Keepers of Eire. An interview with her is below.

Julaina:  Who is your favorite author and genre?

Jordan: I love Anne McCaffrey. Her Dragonriders of Pern series encouraged me to use my imagination. I was able to delve into the world of dragons and become a dragonrider—how fantastic is that?

Julaina:  Why do you write?

Jordan: When I read I want to immerse myself in another world, another life, not the ordinary. My writing is a way to share my love of dragons and imagination with others.

Julaina:  Where do you like to write?

Jordan: I write in various places: the Danville library or Peet’s Coffee are the most prevalent. I like to put in my ear buds and crank up the music in my iPod shuffle, so once I’m in the zone, the location doesn’t really register with me. I just need a place where I’m not interrupted.

Julaina: What are you working on now?

Jordan: Book 2 of my Keepers series, The Keepers of Caledonia.

Julaina: Looking forward to Books 2 and 3. Thanks, Jordan.

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Ransom Stephens The God Patent

A movie producer talked with Ransom Stephens on the phone for an hour and a half about THE GOD PATENT, Ransom’s book that was published before THE SENSORY DECEPTION. The producer loved THE GOD PATENT and did most of the talking…fast. Ransom says he doesn’t know what it means yet.

I’m hoping both books will be made into movies very soon.

Need Last Minute Gift Ideas?

For readers, here are some recommendations for books published this last year:

Anne Ayers Koch has written two books of essays:

It’s all About the Story: Composing a Life in Books “speaks to everyone who appreciates mystery, detective and romance stories. In a series of twent-two brief essays, the author reflects on these genres—why they work, when they help, and what makes them relevant to modern life. This book is a tribute to the ability of old fashioned storytelling to sharpen our awareness of the human condition and lessons that are found not only in “serious literature” but popular fiction as well.”

Finding Home: A Memoir of Arts and Crafts. Amazon’s description is: “Finding Home speaks to everyone who appreciates arts and crafts and the role they play making a home. In a series of twenty-six brief essays the author reflects on a range of topics-from rug hooking and macrame to tole painting, letter writing, calligraphy, card making, and porcelain painting. The book is a tribute to the ability of modest excursions into popular crafts to make a difference-by making us aware of the beauty and lessons found as we create in multiple mediums. Lessons not only for the projects we undertake, but for living.”

Semper by Peter Dudley: Dane’s sixteenth birthday holds a choice he didn’t expect to face: Should he take his place as Semper, obeying his cruel uncle and twelve generations of Southshaw Truth, or should he follow his heart and risk exile and death to unearth the real truth? An exotic huntress, a mythical ghost-man, and a tailor’s daughter hold the keys to his answer. And to the survival of Southshaw itself.

Check out Stacey Gustafson’s humorous story about hair in Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being A Woman  Funny! Daring! DIFFERENT! Not Your Mother’s Book (NYMB) is a new anthology for a new century. Women of all ages and with very different life experiences have shared their personal stories for “Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Being a Woman.” Some are seasoned writers, others simply have great stories to tell, but all are stories that women can relate to–and laugh about. The authors write candidly and most with great humor.

Rock’N’Roll in Locker Seventeen by Shannon Brown A story set in 1964 Ricky Stevenson was living the rock’n’roll dream. He was on the top of the charts, and on the cover of almost every fan magazine. What those publications didn’t tell you was that he had no privacy, few real friends, and a hectic schedule of touring and recording. Though tempted to lose himself in a haze of drugs and alcohol, Ricky knew it would only be a temporary escape. What Ricky wanted was to be rid of the pressures of fame for good, so one day he simply disappeared.

A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season by Jennifer Basye Sander: True stories about the kindness of strangers and the blessings of answered prayers, this collection with its small miracles truly captures the spirit of the season. These stories of hope, faith, and joy are a moving tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and remind us all that the greatest gifts in life can’t be gift wrapped.

The God Patent by Ransom Stephens:  The memo said they’d get bonuses for submitting patents, so why not? Money came easily during the dot-com boom. Concealed in engineering jargon, Ryan McNear submits a patent for the soul disguised as a software algorithm and his best friend Foster Reed rewrites Genesis and calls it a “power generator.” What he thought was a joke is generating stacks of money amid claims that it will provide a source of limitless energy and prove the existence of God. Ryan stakes a legal claim to the patent. Racing against time and aided by a motley group of assistants that includes an attorney/conman, a beautiful and passionate physicist and a death-obsessed adolescent math prodigy, Ryan gets caught in a battle between hard science and fundamentalist religion that threatens his sanity, his freedom and his son.