Monday, November 26, 2018

Depression in Writers

Edgar Allan Poe famously suffered from depression, but he wasn't a rarity. Authors are among the most likely professions to have issues with depression. Yet we often dismiss it as being part of our creative process. Some even fear treating it in case it impacts their writing.

I've seen a trend as the weather changes to cold, with night falling earlier and earlier. Writing friends who've sunk into depression. A change in tone on their blogs, Facebook pages, and in-person interactions. Seasonal Affective Disorder runs rampant this time of year, and for those who suffer year-round depression, the change in seasons can deepen it.

I'm someone who suffers moderate depression all year, with severe anxiety and PTSD. I also come from a family in which Bipolar Disorder is common, though I have been lucky to avoid it, so far. After decades of learning and employing coping mechanisms, I finally went on a mild anti-anxiety medication to help with the side-effects of my PTSD after a downward spiral was triggered by a fairly minor incident related to the initial cause. I was incredibly resistant to using medication for this, which is why it took so long. It took feeling completely out of control of myself and my life, constant panic attacks throughout the day, and beginning a withdrawal from normal life events, though I kept forcing myself forward. In the past, I made it through a combination of PTSD and Postpartum Depression on my own, and I was proud of that, but why did I put myself through it in the first place?

I say all this so you know you're not alone. No one can tell you everything will be okay, but there are ways to get through the harder times. Sometimes it takes admitting there's an issue. Seeking out that one person who can reach out to you. Maybe it's a friend or family member. Maybe it's a doctor. Below you'll find some coping mechanisms and options that might help.

1. Get some sun. As writers, especially those of us with day jobs, small children, disabilities, or some other reason that keeps us out of the sun, it's important to try to get as much sun as you can. Even if it involves sitting on your porch, resting in front of a window (I know it's super cold some places), going for a walk around the block, taking a hike, or even driving around on a sunny day. If you absolutely can't get outside, maybe check out one of those natural sun lamps.

2. Journal. A lot of writers already journal. It can help vent frustrations, fears, etc. and get the poison out. It can also help you track it to see if there are particular patterns or triggers.

3. Exercise. A walk is good exercise. It doesn't have to be anything intensive. If you want more than that, you can join a gym, do home workout tapes, join an adult sports group or team in your area, or even find short workouts (including ones intended to be done at your desk) online. I love 30 Days of Yoga workouts by Bad Yogi, found on YouTube. Her yoga workouts are brief, usually about 10 minutes, give or take. The main thing is to get active and get away from your desk, even in short bursts if that's what it takes.

4. Socialize. Find a writer's group or an online community (if you're blogging and visiting other blogs, you're already ahead of the game on that one.) Attend workshops and writing social events. We writers tend to lock ourselves away from people to focus on our writing. It's a solitary pursuit. We forget to see our friends and family. We forget to get out of the house and do something other than work.

5. Tell someone. Find someone you trust to talk to. Admit what's going on. Seek help. If you don't have someone in your life you trust, consider telling your regular doctor and getting a referral to a mental health professional.

6. Positive Reinforcement. As authors, we often punish ourselves when we don't feel we're being productive enough. We talk down to ourselves. We judge ourselves. We try to harden ourselves against rejection, but it's hard to deal with constant rejection. Instead of beating yourself up or having unrealistic expectations for yourself, consider setting small, realistic goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them. You can reward yourself with a movie or an outing with friends, buy something small when you reach higher goals (like the Funko Pops I buy for each short story sale), treat yourself to a special treat or diet cheat day, etc. You know yourself best, so you know best what rewards will matter and what to strive for that's achievable, but somewhat challenging.

7. Consider medication. Only if you're comfortable with it. Do you avoid it because of a stigma attached to it? Things others said? Or have you researched it and it's not for you? I avoided it because I have severe reactions to medications, and I was afraid of what type of reaction that would be when it's for something meant to treat my brain. Every medication they put me on for the permanent migraine I have (I've had it 8 years now) had horrific side effects, and many of those medications doubled as treatments for ADHD, depression, OCD, seizures, etc. My rule was nothing mind altering. Nothing with severe side effects. Nothing that made me feel numb or caused me to shut down in any way.

If you can find something that helps you (or, most likely, a combination of things), it can help you through those harder times. As writers, depression can keep us from being productive. It can taint how we see our work. Sometimes small steps are all the help you need. Sometimes you need more intensive help. No matter where you are in this, I wish you luck, and hope you can find whatever helps you most.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores is seeking fantasy, science fiction, myth, legend, eldritch, and fairy tales. 1000 words and up. Pays $.06/word. Deadline December 28.

Sigil House Publishing is seeking short stories of any genre or combination of them. 2000 to 15,000 words. Pays $10. Deadline December 31.

Carte Blanche is seeking short fiction, memoir, and personal essays. Up to 3500 words. Pays a modest honorarium. Deadline December 31.

Workers Write! is seeking stories and poems in educational settings for More Tales From the Classroom. 500 to 5000 words. Pays $5 to $50. Deadline December 31.

Allegory is seeking speculative fiction short stories. Prefer works between 500 and 5000 words, but will consider stories outside that range. Pays $15. Deadline December 31.

Zizzle is seeking stories for both young and adult readers. 500 to 1200 words. Pays $100. Deadline December 31.

Split Lip Magazine is seeking literary or mainstream fiction, poetry, and memoir. Word counts vary depending upon type of submission. Pays $5 per printed page. Deadline December 31.

Fireside Magazine is seeking short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 4000 words. Pays 12.5 cents per word. Deadline December 31. (Note: Does not open until December 15).

Horror Queen Media is seeking witch stories for Vex No More. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline December 31.

Have you dealt with depression? What have you found helps you? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.


Edgar Allan Poe: By Unknown; most likely George C. Gilchrest, Samuel P. Howes, James M. Pearson, or Andrew J. Simpson, all of Lowell, MA - and, Public Domain,

Aerobics Clip Art:, OCAL

Meeting Clip Art:, OCAL

Medicine Jar Clip Art:, OCAL

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Writer Nation Interview & Birthday Fun

With everyone in the U.S. (including me) ramping up for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I wanted to do a light post to share some birthday fun and let you know about a podcast interview with Writer Nation that just went live.

Yesterday was my birthday. Sometimes it's an entirely different week than Thanksgiving, and sometimes it's two days before! Like this year. I had volunteer work in the evening, and while I was onstage, I got surprised by friends with a clown bringing me donuts. Apparently, my husband knew ahead of time, and he still got me a cake, so between my birthday and Thanksgiving, I'm not weighing myself for the next week.

And because my friends know me so well, the clown was bloody. I even got some on the announcements I was in the middle of when the clown arrived (who was my friend's daughter, by the way, because the doughnut place I'd been wanting a doughnut delivery from only does it in October).

I got to go out with a couple friends after the event and get some wings (way more appropriate for sticking to my keto diet, which I blew straight out of the water yesterday). It was a nice way to celebrate turning 41.

And then I found out my podcast interview with Writer Nation was going live today, which was also fun! My interviewer is a writing friend who also happens to share my birthday, so the timing is perfect.

To listen to the interview, which runs about half an hour, and features discussions of writing while also being a work-at-home mom (WAHM), sentient bouncy balls, Longridge Writer's Academy, fangirling, middle school operas, and my first ever short story submissions, click HERE. This was actually my first podcast interview done in person! The rest have been via phone or Skype, so this was a new experience for me. There's a lot of laughing. You'll see how easy Jenny is to talk to. She also runs the Writer Nation Facebook group, and is a super busy working mom and writer. She's had the most fascinating job, and gotten to be part of some monumental things this past year that have left me in awe. I hope you'll check it out!

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Iridium Magazine is seeking short stories, essays, and art. Must feature QUILTBAG+ content. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline December 15.

Copper Nickel is seeking poetry, fiction, and essays. Pays $30/printed page. Deadline December 15.

Arsenika is seeking fiction and poetry. Up to 1000 words long. Pays $30-$60. Deadline December 15.

Matter Press is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed media, and visual arts for The Journal of Compressed Arts. Pays $50. Deadline December 15.

Otter Libris is seeking stories about submariners lost at sea and what might be happening if they're still out there. This is for Still on Patrol. 3000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25. Deadline December 15.

Smoking Pen Press is seeking stories about supernatural beings for Vampires, Zombies, and Ghosts, Oh My! 1200 to 6000 words. Pays $20. Deadline December 15.

Infernal Ink is seeking H.P. Lovecraft inspired erotic short stories for Lustcraftian Horrors. 2000 to 10,000 words. Pays $25 or royalties. Deadline December 21.

The Puritan is seeking interviews, essays, and reviews. Pays $100. Deadline December 25. Also check out their call for Editors in Residence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you doing anything for Thanksgiving? Do you get to see family? Would you love it if a clown delivered your doughnuts or would you run screaming? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Horror List Book Review: The Resort

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling and M.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.)

This week I'm reviewing The Resort, by Bentley Little.

Bentley Little has a formula that's worked for him for quite some time. He takes a normal person (or family, in this case), sticks them somewhere seemingly normal, even idyllic, then all hell breaks loose. Things go terribly wrong. That's precisely what happens here.

A family goes to a resort in the Arizona desert. They've gotten a deep discount. Weird things start happening right away, including getting back to their hotel room to discover someone else is in there. The management has to convince this someone to let them in long enough to get their things, and they're given a new room.

The little things build for quite some time, and we see different POVs, but this family provides the bulk of the POVs. The adults are having one set of experiences, while the kids have others. The vacation sounds great until everything goes nuts.

When it goes nuts, it goes full Lord of the Flies in the Overlook Hotel nuts. Animalistic behavior takes over some of the residents of the resort, and it's normals against psychos. There's full on violence and odd sexual behavior. The family tries to escape, but the resort throws barriers in their way.

I had certain expectation for a Little novel, and they were met. However, the ending was overly simplistic and the violence and behavior over the top. Still, I accepted the behavior until being disappointed in the end. I would have liked to see a real resolution.

Expect absurdity, violence, and odd, over the top characters if you read this.

My Top Ten:  

1. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
2. The Girl Next Door (Jack Ketchum)
3. The Bottoms (Joe R. Lansdale)
4. The Collector (John Fowles)
5. Coraline (Neil Gaiman)
6. The Bridge (John Skipp and Craig Spector)
7. A Choir of Ill Children (Tom Piccirilli)
8. Needful Things (Stephen King)
9. 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)
10. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)

The next book I review will be Dark Descent, edited by David G. Hartwell.

Have you read The Resort? How about a different Bentley Little novel? Are you a fan? 

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

IWSG - It's the Little Things & Links

Happy November! My second favorite month after October. It's the first Wednesday, which means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Alex created the IWSG to lend support to fellow writers. Anyone can join. Simply click HERE and sign up via your blog (or participate on Facebook!). Post your insecurities and inspirations, and visit your fellow bloggers to lend support and advice.

Our co-hosts this month are  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Ann V. Friend, JQ Rose, and Elizabeth Seckman! Be sure to stop by and tell them thanks for co-hosting.

Our optional question of the month is: How has your creativity in life evolved sine you started writing?

Since I started writing, I've expanded my horizons and trying things I hadn't attempted before. I've gotten involved in writer's groups, and everything those led to. I've worked on cool projects like writing fantasy pieces inspired by music, and had writing published in different genres, such as YA, horror, mystery, humor, memoir, and fantasy. The more I stretch the muscles, the more ideas I have, and the more I want to try out new things and dabble in other art forms.

My insecurity this month really just has to do with not having gotten much writing done recently. Too busy! I'm trying to fix that with ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo and having some write-ins with friends since November is a much calmer month than October. October was stifling, both time-wise and creativity-wise, but it's time to get back to work!

We're running a contest for the February WEP theme, and there are only a few days remaining to enter!

Rules: Submit your idea for a WEP February theme by November 12 to Nothing so U.S. culturally bound. Should have wide appeal.

Prize: Feature in the December newsletter for the winner. And, of course, the winning theme will be the official February WEP theme!

Deadline: November 12. Winner announced in the November newsletter on November 28.  

And the December theme is as follows:

Each month I post my submission stats for the previous month on my IWSG post to keep myself accountable.

In October:

5 submissions
1 rejection
0 acceptances
12 pieces currently on submission

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Narratively is seeking personal essays/memoir that delves deeper than the usual. 2000 to 3000 words. Pays $300.

Perihelion is seeking science fiction. 2500 to 7000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Rivet is seeking poetry, nonfiction, and literary short works. 15 to 15,000 words. Pays $25.

Automata Review is seeking short works that explore new spaces. 1000 to 6000 words. Pays $25.

The Sea Letter is seeking short fiction, poetry, and photography. Up to 7500 words (1000 for poetry). Pays $25.

Craft is seeking short fiction, flash fiction, craft essays, interviews, and book reviews. Up to 7000 words (1000 for flash fiction--other types of submissions have different limits). Pays $100 to $200, depending upon submission type.

Crimson Streets is seeking pulp of various genres. 800 to 6000 words. Pays $.01/word.

Daily Science Fiction is seeking short science fiction. 100 to 1500 words. Pays $.08/word.

Unshattering is seeking science fiction and fantasy that show the way back to a livable future. Also seeking poetry, memoir, and art. Up to 4500 words. Pays $.10/word.

Aotearotica is seeking erotica. Poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Up to 3000 words. Pays NZD$50.

What are your insecurities? Have you sent in an entry for the WEP theme? How has your creativity changed since you started writing? Did you submit a story for the anthology? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share? How were your submissions this month?

May you find your Muse.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo Kick-off Day!

It's November 1st! You know what that means! ShaNoShoStoWriEdSubMo time!

No? You're doing NaNoWriMo instead? That's okay.

Each year, I hijack the energy of NaNo to jump start some projects. This year it's especially needed. I've allowed business to steal my writing time, and after an 11 day migraine, I hadn't written anything until last night. So it's time to catch up. (Not that I wouldn't have been doing ShaNo anyway.)

What it is: I set my own relevant writing-related goals during the month of November. Simple!

This year's goals:

Finish a minimum of five already begun short stories.
Write two new stories.
Edit a minimum of three pending stories.
Make 10,000 words progress on squirrel horror (both editing and writing).
Submit at least three new stories.
Send out a minimum of five queries for Myth Stalker novel.
Do a weekly blog post that includes updates.

I'm hoping this will get me back on a regular schedule of some sort.

Before I get to links, I want to share a project Tyrean Martinson put out in October!

Ashes Burn, Seasons 1-7 includes all the seasons from the hint fiction fantasy series. Following the lives of the three characters, the story takes place in a unique format of micro-fiction episodes.

Wend runs a strange path to find a new future.
Teresa hunts for the man she loves.
Bryant blazes a destructive path to a new empire.
Who will survive their methods?

Ashes hold the inner heat of fire, the spark and ember of flame. Like those, micro-fiction holds the spark of a larger story that may grow inside the mind of a reader. Consider each piece a frame of embers. Picture the story in your imagination.

Please note that micro-fiction is an experimental form of story-writing and the whole series is very short.

Now Available for:

The Reviewer's Special is a Coupon Code I've generated for up to 50 downloads between now and November 29th at Smashwords ONLY. If you use this code, you'll get 100% off and be able to read the whole hint fiction series for FREE. However, this is a limited time, limited download offer. If you like the book or find it interesting, please leave a review. The code is: ZG27Q

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

ServiceScape Short Story Award closes this month. Fiction or non-fiction under 5000 words. $1000 prize. Deadline November 29.

Ninth Letter is seeking poetry and prose that are literary or experimental. Up to 8000 words. Pays $25 per printed page. Deadline November 30.

Martian Migraine Press is seeking horror short stories for Monstrous Outlines. The theme is Camouflage. 1500-7000 words. Pays .03CAD/word. Deadline November 30.

Twelfth Planet Press is seeking novellas for their novella series. They want grit and rebellion. 17,000-40,000 words. $300 advance, plus royalties. Deadline November 30.

Pen and Ink Pub is seeking short ghost stories of women scorned for Haunted. 4000 words and up. Pays $20. Deadline November 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking first person stories in the theme of Life Lessons From the Cat. Up to 1200 words. Pays $200. Deadline November 30.

Crannog Magazine is seeking prose and poems. Up to 2000 words. Pays 30 to 50 Euros. Deadline November 30.

Baltimore Review is seeking short works. Pays $40. Deadline November 30.

Goblin Fruit is seeking fantastical poetry. Pays $15. Deadline December 1.

Eternal Haunted Summer is seeking poetry and short fiction gods, goddesses, and Pagan traditions. Preferably less than 5000 words or it will be serialized. Theme: Dark Spirits of Winter. Pays $5. Deadline December 1.

Pedestal Magazine is seeking poetry. Submit up to 5 poems. Pays $40 per poem. Deadline December 2.

Are you doing NaNo or some version of it? Have you heard of micro-fiction? Are any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Artwork by OCAL,