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Re: What were you before you were a writer? I was a guard at a juvenile corrections facility for 14 years. I was laid off last autumn, but fortunately I already had a book contract and my first novel was out in stores, so that has cushioned the blow.

July 12, 2011, 11:06:20 PM
Re: In creating your own magic system, For creating your own magic system, I've found Brandon Sanderson's three laws very helpful. They're not just good for creating magic systems. They're good storytelling principles as well.
December 30, 2014, 08:56:50 PM
Depression, Struggles and Light at the End of Every Tunnel Although this Forum is and should be mainly about fun and a shared creative passion, we have a community and sometimes real life intrudes. A forum friend sent me the poem below expressing the debilitating impact of depression. We all know that depression is a physical illness, like osteoporosis, if you will - not a disease of lifestyle or personal "issues." But while there shouldn't be any stigma on it, there can tend to be. Fear of this can reinforce the emotional dark night of the soul for the depression sufferer and make the person feel even more isolated.

Here's the poem:

Do you know what depression is?
Feeling down, black dog, grey clouds…
No. Wrong.
Depression is an illness, a disease. Faulty brain cells.

Do you know what depression feels like?
Feeling down, black dog, grey clouds…
No. Wrong.
Be thankful you don’t know. It’s different for every single person, every single time.

This time, a switch was installed.
It flickers on and off, with neither rhyme nor reason.
One moment you’re ok, the next you’re sobbing uncontrollably. Tears are optional, just the ragged breathing and the feeling are there.
One moment you’re walking, moving, the next you stop. You’re paralysed. Your legs feel heavy, your arms like they belong to someone else. Everything about you is frozen.
One moment the world is normal, the next the smallest decision feels overwhelming. There’s no future beyond the now.
One moment you’re laughing, the next there’s a knot in your throat and you’ve forgotten what it feels to be ok.
Nothing makes sense. There’s no night nor day.

Chemicals mean hope. Repair.
Weeks pass, months pass, a year or more. And you no longer know what depression feels like.
Until next time…

The friend asked me to share this poem, and doesn't want some big outpouring of "OMG! Are you okay?" no matter how heart-felt and well-intended.

But you may know someone - or be someone - who suffers from this disease, and the words here may be a balm or an opening of the eyes. We hope so.

May 08, 2015, 04:19:12 PM
Re: Why I don't generally recommend self-publishing. I tend to feel that self-publishing is a bit jumping the gun. People who don't want to go through the work and criticism and improvement that 'all that' (i.e. trying to be published properly) brings.
Like people who want to go on the X-Factor and that kind of programs without really knowing the ins and outs of music; just because some (and I stress *some*) can carry a tune, it doesn't mean they're prepared to be professional singers.
Similarly, just because some can write a few things, doesn't mean they're prepared to be professional authors.

I don't know, maybe I'm just being unreasonable :-\ I've seen how difficult and frustrating it is for writers, previously-main-house-published writers, to get a new contract. Each book is a mountain to climb. And in a way I understand why some are tempted to 'jump the gun'.
Does it make it right? I don't know.

August 04, 2015, 10:01:59 PM
Re: Calling All Maps! I"m a little late to the party but here's mine:

The geography is political and magical and religious:  the mountain range, the Fell, housed a city that was once the gate to Heaven (like Shangrila), but it got cast into Ghenna (Hell, sort of) so now it's a creepy-ass place with all kinds of terrible shit and 1,000 years ago and now there are these enormous statues that keep anything from leaving the mountain range (in addition to dragons and ogre-like dudes, anyone who dies there comes back to life as a gollog (like a golem) in 7 days unless you cut their body into 7 pieces and cuts 1/7th off of people to sew onto themselves to replace their rotting parts).  On the other side of the range is a whole other set of countries-- the two sides have forgotten about each other-- and their legends/religion has evolved very differently from the other side.

I used a combination of AUTOmap and photoshop

August 29, 2015, 06:10:54 AM
Re: Calling All Maps! Oh I LOVE maps. I've been drawing them since I was a kid. I have several maps I've drawn for my works-in-progress. 

This one has been finalized, though. Hand drawn and then messed with in photoshop. I'm not exactly sure how to upload the image, but here's my attempt.

August 29, 2015, 10:34:10 PM
Re: A Day in the Life of an Agent
Brandon Sanderson talks about this in his youtube lectures... he says how you have to research the specific agents and figure out which agents signed similar books and then query them directly.... but how the hell are you supposed to do that???  Where is that information even found?  Seems like we all have to shoot in the dark and just hope.

There are ways to get that information, but most of them cost money. For instance, the website Publisher's Marketplace keeps track of which agent sold what book to what publisher. So, say you're researching Bob Jones, agent. You can look up Bob Jones on Publisher's Marketplace (not all agents are on there, but most are) and see the last few books Bob Jones sold to various publishers.

From there, it's easy to backtrack to see who wrote the books Bob Jones sold, and thus know who Bob Jones signed recently. Then, you can (usually) read at least the first chapter or each book that Bob Jones bought on Amazon via the "Look Inside" feature to give you a feel for what Bob Jones might like.

Typically, research of this type allows you to add something like "I noticed you recently signed [author's book about dragons]. My book also has dragons and I hope it will catch your interest" to your cover letter ... assuming that's actually the case. That said, I don't think this gives you too much of an advantage in a cold query stack, given there's so much subjectivity involved, including the agent's mood and what they just had for lunch. Also, agents tend to search for stuff different from what they've already signed (since they've already got a guy or gal writing that stuff) to keep a diverse client list.

Every little bit helps, but I'm honestly not sure a Publisher's Marketplace subscription is worth the money. If you use it all, I'd say it's best to get a list of 20 or so agents you want to query, subscribe to Publisher's Marketplace, gather all the information you can, and unsubscribe before they re-bill you. But that's me. :)

Eighteen agents have thus far rejected my espionage SF novel without even a request for the manuscript (a manuscript which 25 advance readers, including published authors, have told me is their favorite thing I've ever written). I've had several published authors with publishers like Tor and Baen critique my query letters and give them a thumbs up,  so that doesn't seem to be the problem either. It's just hard to hop of out the cold query stack.

EDIT: On meeting agents in person - if they have a website or a Twitter account, they will often post upcoming convention appearances there. So, you just have to keep an eye on one you're hoping to query (cyberstalking them, essentially ;p) and then see if you can make the conference they're attending and pitch them in person.

I wish you luck, my friend!

November 23, 2015, 09:21:46 PM
Re: How much did you write today? 2.441

5k to finish NaNo!

November 25, 2015, 12:37:14 AM
Re: Depression is a bitch... from a friend
Doc said there's not anything else she can do for me, just keep the medication going, and I should really try therapy. I've done it in the past, and loved the therapist, she was quite good and helped lots, but it kinda feels like a failure to go back to her once again.
Maybe I'll try the local groups... maybe in January...

Hi Scarlet,
Besides being a writer (and Sci-Fi fan), I work as a psychiatrist. I often get this complaint, that returning to treatment sounds like a defeat. Or that the previous treatment did not work. This is common, for depression, in most cases, is recurrent. However, one must recognize early signs of relapse so that treatment can be reinitiated ASAP. For better outcome, quality of life, etc. I have some patients that refrain from stopping medication (or therapy), even if I tell them they could stop, because they are feeling so well with the treatment they do not want to risk it. Well, that's it, good luck with your treatment.

December 03, 2015, 05:57:36 PM
Re: Jobs or Degrees outside of Writing? I remember reading that the medical show that is closest to the reality of the medical profession is Scrubs. Seriously.  ;D
December 07, 2015, 03:12:01 AM