Monday, June 30, 2014

Does Your Brain Storm?

How do you generate and expand writing ideas? Do you brainstorm?

I do on occasion, depending on the project. Sometimes brainstorming is simple, like jotting down ideas, doing research, or talking to fellow writers. Other times it's more extensive, like using one of the following methods. 

Freewriting - Set a time limit (like five minutes), and write down anything that comes to mind. If you can't think of anything to write, write that down and then see what flows next. When the time limit is up, review what you’ve written. Some of the content won’t be useful, but it might surprise you to see that there may be good ideas. Save potential ideas and toss the rest.

Clustering (or Mapping) – Take a word or two from the topic, write it down in the middle of a blank piece of paper and circle it. Write related words around the main word/s, circle them, and draw a line from each to the main word/s.  For example, if the topic is teen cell phone use, related words might include texting, convenience, communication, data plans, billing overages, texting and driving, etc.

The Five W’s – Ask the questions that journalists do when writing an article. These include Who, What, Where, When, and Why. List these five words on a sheet of paper, then answer each one using thoughts about the topic. The answers do not have to be extensive, just write any thoughts that come to mind that might apply. 

The Flip Side – Consider the topic from a different angle. This is especially helpful if the topic is a controversial issue. For instance, if the topic is requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, consider both sides. Why do people think it is important to wear a helmet? Why do opponents feel that they shouldn’t have to? 

Ideas are everywhere, but sometimes the brain needs a little nudge to get that storm going.

Do you use any of these methods? What helps you generate ideas and work through the process?

Happy writing,

P.S. Congratulations to Jeanette Levellie, the winner of Cathy Gohlke's Saving Amelie! Thanks to everyone who stopped by last week's post.

Copyright 2014 Karen Lange. No part of the text may be used without prior written permission.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview and Giveaway With Cathy Gohlke

I'm honored to be a part of Christy Award winning author Cathy Gohlke's blog tour for her latest book, Saving Amelie. Cathy's one of the most talented authors I know, so it's always a treat to have her visit. She's giving away a paperback copy, so check out the details below.

Here's a Peek at Saving Amelie:

Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.

Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.

Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.


Welcome Cathy! Congratulations on Saving Amelie!  What inspired you to write this book? 

Thank you! It's great to be here. After attending the world’s longest running Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany (380 years), I wondered how the Alpine village had responded to Hitler and the Nazis, which represented anything but the sacrificial love of Christ.

When I learned that the scheme to create a master race by eliminating bloodlines deemed “unworthy” was not confined to the Nazis, I wondered how we can prevent stepping onto such slippery moral slopes today. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a WWII controversial German pastor and author of The Cost of Discipleship, gave me that answer, and a story was born.

It is indeed a thought provoking story. How did you first learn about the pseudo-science of eugenics and its bent toward creating a superior race of humans? 

I’d come across tidbits in history in relation to human experiments conducted by the Nazis, but my first real awareness came when I read in the news—just a few years ago—about people in NC seeking compensation for forced sterilization. I was astonished. How could such a thing happen in America? From that moment the research trail opened, winding its way through history I’d never learned in school.

I read that story too, and like you, never learned about it in school. Very sobering. Stories or characters sometimes mirror the author’s life in some way. Is that true for Saving Amelie

I think there is something of the things authors have learned or known or emotions we’ve experienced in every book, even if no part of the story is truly ours or no character portrays us. Sometimes stories are simply stories, parables clearly parables.

While that is true, there was a time that I feared I would not be able to bear children, so I understand Lea’s anguish and how very much Amelie means to her. There have also been times I’ve struggled—like all of us—with whether to do the right thing or the expedient thing, with “who is my neighbor” and how to identify those answers and act upon them.

"Who is my neighbor?" That is a good question, and one I've thought more of since reading Saving Amelie. What do you hope readers will take away from the story?

I hope Saving Amelie will provoke thought and questions for discussion. Questions like, how do we keep history from repeating itself? How do we make certain we are not taken unawares, that we are not seduced in the name of “progress” or “compassion” into giving up our rights and taking away the rights of others—the sick, the elderly, the handicapped, the unborn, people of nationalities other than our own?

What must we do to stop the changing of our laws and culture by those with agendas they claim are more “compassionate” than God’s laws? Where do we find the courage to rise from apathy, indifference, from political correctness and fear of offending others to stand for God’s truth and for liberty in Christ?

Saving Amelie does all that and more, Cathy. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Wishing you all the best with your books! :)

Thank you, Karen!

My Review 

Saving Amelie offers an interesting perspective on the events prior to and during World War II. The story illustrates inner workings of not just the Nazi regime, but of the resistance. It was this inside view of the resistance that I found most interesting. It’s easy to see the German citizens as the enemy, but many who were swept into the fray did not embrace the beliefs and atrocities that unfolded in their homeland.  This book offers insight into the hearts and actions of the people who risked their lives to help others.

Through her wonderful, signature style, Cathy Gohlke shares how Rachel, Jason and their friends and family stretch beyond their comfort zone through this terrible war. I enjoyed getting to know each one as they faced unimaginable danger on their heart-changing adventure.  The thing I found particularly interesting was Jason’s spiritual awakening, the journey he took after meeting Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Once again, Cathy has written an entertaining and compelling story that shares thought provoking and timeless lessons. Saving Amelie‘s intricate plot offers the whole package:  great characters, redemption, adventure, and suspense.  Two thumbs up – definitely.

Visit Cathy at her website, blog, or Facebook

Find Saving Amelie on Amazon

Giveaway Info

  • You must be a GFC (Google Friend Connect) follower of Write Now.
  • You must leave your email address with your comment.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST Thursday, June 26, 2014. Winner will be chosen by, notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Do you have any questions for Cathy? What are you reading this week?

Happy reading and writing,