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Messages - Juan Dolor

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Writing Group / Re: Pen names
« on: July 06, 2011, 04:51:56 AM »
I've also wondered about the etiquette of choosing a name that doesn't fit my ethnic background.   I think it would be fun to use a pen name from another culture, but I'm not sure how that would go down. 

For the record, I'm a white American of British and Scandinavian stock.  If I chose a German or French last name  (Bill Albrecht, Jack le Pen), I think I would be safe, even though I'm not French or German.  But for some reason, it seems like if I chose a Spanish name (J.C. Rey), it feels like I might get in trouble.  Worse trouble if I chose a name that sounds African-American (Terrell Jackson).  Or Asian (Henry Pu-yi).

It's a shame, but I think if I choose one that doesn't sound "white," I'll get called a racist of some kind.  That doesn't really make sense to me, because I would be choosing that name because I like that culture.  But whatever, this is the world we live in, I guess.

Writing Group / Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: July 05, 2011, 04:22:53 PM »
If any single dream is too fragmented, one option is (similar to the powers idea) start crossing them.

Another option for both magic and story ideas is to randomize two wikipedia articles. Or one wikipedia article with a dream.

I think this is really important. 

Larry Correia and John Brown have a lecture about generating story ideas-- you can find it on youtube.  And one of the things they talk about is the need to push your ideas just a little bit.  You begin by brainstorming, just writing down things that go 'zing' in your brain, things you think are interesting or exciting.  But then you take another step.  Maybe you start combining these ideas together.  Or maybe you do what they call the "list and twist" approach, where you go down your list of ideas and think about how to take them in a novel or strange direction.

So a dream journal, or wiki-walking, or anything else is a good start.  But you have to take that next step and push your ideas.

Writing Group / Pen names
« on: July 05, 2011, 04:21:35 PM »
I may be doing some writing for hire soon.  (See:  And Iíve been thinking that this work should be published under a psuedonym.

There are at least two reasons that I think using a nom de plume might be good.  First, it's work for hire.  And the work would be an adaptation of another person's script.  So these would not be my own ideas, my own world, my own creation.

Second, I publish under my real name for my day job in academia.  I think people would take that work less seriously if it were known that I publish genre fiction as well.  For better or for worse, there is a stigma.  So, I'd like to compartmentalize.

So, any thoughts on choosing a pen name?  What makes a good one, or a bad one? 

Are there conventions or customs I should be aware of?  (For example, lots of women authors use male or gender-neutral names to publish under, but I don't see men doing the same thing.)

Writing Group / Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: July 05, 2011, 04:09:08 PM »
I want to make one final plug here that I respectfully disagree with the premise behind your original question.

It is phrased in such a way as to indicate:

1. You have an existing world or story and
2. You want to add magic over the top of said world/story

I challenge you, rather than using magic to SUPPLEMENT your existing world (adding fire magic or healing magic), build a story AROUND the magic (or in SciFi, technology).

I'm a firm believer that a love story with elves should just delete the elves, or a mystery story with fireballs should just delete the fireballs. Tolkien's story, however, would not have worked without rings of power. Without Feruchemy and Allomancy, there is no story for Mistborn. Without runes, Elantris is meaningless. Without a tainted Saidin, the fear of men channeling doesn't exist.

In each case, the magic is as vital to the story as the characters and setting (in good fantasy, magic is indistinguishable from setting), not something the author added to an existing story which could stand alone without the magic.

I disagree.  I think a magic system that's only window dressing is totally fine. 

I like Brandon Sanderson and other authors who write novels where the whole point is to understand the magic system and how the world works and then transcend in godlike fashion.  But that's not the only way to write a fantasy novel. 

For example, I love lots of sword and sorcery-- Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, etc.-- and in those novels the magic system is complete window dressing.  But that's okay, because the plot is not about the magic system, or even people who use magic.  So the magic just adds flavor. 

In the same way, there are novels in which the plot is built around a religion or a culture.  Judaism and Hasidic culture, are absolutely central to The Chosen, for example.  You take that out, and there is no book.  But there are lots of books in which those same cultural or religious elements just add a little flavor.  They supplement.  And that's not a bad thing at all.

« on: July 05, 2011, 03:55:28 PM »
I defuse the situation by killing them with kindness and logic. No matter how inane their comments are, I simply say that I understand their point of view and appreciate their comments, and then I apply logic to destroy the framework of their presuppositions from beneath them. If they continue, they simply show themselves to be illogical to all who see them and are simply another example of the uselessness of their kind.

Man, this comment is weird.  He starts by talking about 'defusing the situation' and 'killing with kindness,' which I actually think are good ways to deal with a nasty argument.  (Better, in fact, than my own sarcastic post above.)  But then he starts in about how he destroys people with logic, and how people who disagree with him are useless.  Yikes!

Am I the only one who sees a real disconnect there?

Writing Group / Re: work for hire - HELP!
« on: June 28, 2011, 02:41:15 PM »
So I heard back from my friend.  His offer is actually in the ballpark of what Renoard and others were suggesting would be a fair price.   I think we're going to do this thing.  Hooray!

Writing Group / Re: work for hire - HELP!
« on: June 27, 2011, 04:15:12 PM »
Good points, all.  This has been very helpful for me. 

I told my friend I was interested in exploring the project, and that we should talk about payment.  Haven't heard back from him yet.  When I do, I'll post here.

Writing Group / Re: work for hire - HELP!
« on: June 26, 2011, 12:35:50 AM »
Thanks, everyone.  That's a lot to think about.

And for me the most valuable part of this may not be the money, but having my name on a published novel.   So that's something to think about, too.

Writing Group / Re: Advice on Moving Forward
« on: June 24, 2011, 03:05:14 PM »
I believe he now acknowledges that he wasn't really ready for a large series. I think he had to almost completely rewrite Way of Kings before it was publishable.

And if Brandon Sanderson wasn't ready at that point, then probably the original poster isn't ready to write a really great 12-book series.  Or at least not as ready as he would be after writing (and publishing) a few stand-alones.

Writing Group / work for hire - HELP!
« on: June 24, 2011, 02:58:02 PM »
A friend in the movie business has approached me about writing novelizations of film scripts.  He wants to know what I would charge.  I'm very flattered, but I have no idea what would be a fair price.

For the record, this friend has actually written and produced several movies.  None of them have made a ton of money, but they've had theatrical releases. He's a professional.  He's on IMDB.  He's also a nice guy and I would like to help him.

As for me, I have never finished a novel before, and have only published one short story, for which I was paid nothing.  (it was in a university literary magazine.)  So I would think I couldn't ask for much.  But on the other hand, I am on the academic job market this coming year and am working on getting published in my own field.  So my time is precious.  (I am also getting married.)

What do you think, random internet strangers?

Writing Group / Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: June 24, 2011, 02:31:42 PM »
Mine are, too.  So the short stories they influenced came out pretty weird.   But after writing a few, the setting started to come together in a very interesting way.

Rants and Stuff / Re: Stupid joke.
« on: June 24, 2011, 02:29:45 PM »
At coach outlet store online sites, you

could see various authentic coach handbags, coach purses and coach wallets at discounted prices and, you also get 80% off retail coach products. As well as looked at

coach outlet online shop? ;D

Good guess, spambot.† But the answer is:


Writing Group / Re: Need ideas for what Magic can do
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:52:20 PM »
I find myself coming up with what I think are fairly interesting ways to receive, transmit, use, and limit magic. Yet I constantly get stuck on exactly what I want it to do. I usually end up with the basic Elemental magic, or magic that enhances natural abilities and properties of people and items: strength, speed etc.† but I want something different. Any suggestions?

If you want your magic to do something different, start a dream journal.  Your  brain is coming up with strange ideas that defy logic and physics every night.  Start writing these down.  At first you will remember very little, but after a few weeks this will change and you will get a lot more.

Most of what you write down will not be directly useful, but you will get a lot of new ideas.  And the exercise will ensure that you write every day, which is really a good idea for writers.

Writing Group / Re: Advice on Moving Forward
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:48:57 PM »
Of course, I have only published one short story, not a novel.  I haven't even finished writing my first novel.  So maybe you shouldn't listen to closely to me.  :)

Writing Group / Re: Advice on Moving Forward
« on: June 23, 2011, 03:46:16 PM »
If this is the first of twelve, don't self-publish it.   You want someone else to publish all twelve, and some people won't want to reprint it.  So don't close any doors.  Keep writing, keep moving forward.  Most of the authors I have heard talk about this say it takes several years (5-10) of serious writing to get a deal with a publisher. 

And listen to the writing excuses podcast-- especially the ones about the business of writing, including the previously mentioned one with Larry Correia.  Published writers are your best source of information.

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