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Friday, December 30, 2011

Would You Help Me with my Writing Project?

Dear Ms. Curtiss,

My name is Amy, and I am 11 years old. For a school project, I am working on a career I-search about how to become an author of children’s fiction books.  As part of my project, I have been asked to interview an author, and I would like to interview you by email. If this is ok with you, could you please help me by answering the questions below?

Thank you for your help.  Also, thank you for the autographed copy of your poster on the Legend of the Giant Panda!


How to Be a Writer
1.           What are the best colleges and universities to become a writer?

2.          What kinds of classes do you have to take to be a writer?

3.          What kind of college degrees do you need to be a writer?

4.          What can I do as an 11-year old to prepare to become a children’s fiction writer?

Career Description
5.          What is the process to get a book published?
6.          How do you know if the people who read your books like them?
7.          What is a typical day for an author like?

8.           How did you decide to become a writer?

9.           How do writers develop their own style of writing?

10.      Do children’s fiction authors need to be able to write well in all styles of writing (such as persuasive writing, compare and contrast, and response to literature) to be a good children’s fiction writer?

11.       Since children read at different skill levels, how does a children’s author adjust their writing style and content to each particular skill level?
12.      Is it easy being an author? Why or Why not?

13.      Do good authors tend to love writing when they are very young and just know that they want to write books someday?
14.     How do you find new topics and story ideas to write about?
15.      What time of the day do you usually create your best writing?

16.     How many years do authors tend to continue to write books before they decide to retire from writing?

17.     Could you write your whole life because you want to?  Do you think that you will ever retire from writing books?

18.      What are some advantages of being an author?

19.      What are some disadvantages of being an author?

20.     What is the average amount of time that you usually spend writing every day?

21.      Is it possible to be a successful author and also a devoted mother raising kids?

22.     Do you have to travel a lot to be an author?  If so, where do you travel to?

23.     What is the average salary of a writer?

24.    What is the range of salaries for children’s book writers?

25.     What is a good alternative job if it is too difficult to get a book published?

Dear Amy,

1. The best colleges to become a writer are those colleges that teach you how to think, not what to think. Hillsdale College is the best for this.

2. Take a humanities course, and great literature courses. Shakespeare is a must!

3. You don't need any degrees to be a writer. But you need to know how to think and the process of writing. I would recommend Robert McKee's book Story and John Truby's book Anatomy of Story

4. Read everything, especially myths and legends, and fables.

5. In the past you sent query letters out to get and agent, an agent would get your work published. Now so much is on the Internet that you can publish yourself directly on amazon.com. However, the important thing is to form or join a writer's group so you can get feedback for your work. My next book, Hanner and the Bullies, went through over a hundred drafts and was read several times by more than a dozen people.

6. People write me and tell me how much they like my books.

7. My days vary. Many days I am booksigning and do not write. On days when I'm not booksigning I write several hours a day.

8. I knew by the time I was four years old that I was supposed to write. You can read my bio on my website  www.abcurtiss.com

9. Your style develops according to your personality.

10. I write simple books for younger children and more complicated books for older children. No children's book is any good unless adults can enjoy it as well.

11. The main thing is to have a good story to tell.

12. Writing is very difficult to do it well. You have to keep plugging on even when you get discouraged.

13. Yes

14. They come to me from observing ordinary life. To be a writer you must be the kind of person who notices everything.

15. I write anytime. No time is better than another.

16. Writers never retire. Writing is a craft not a career

17. I will write as long as I can think straight. I'm 77 now and am working on three novels.

18. I don't know any disadvantages.

19. The advantage in being a writer is that you get paid for doing something you love

20.  Sometimes I write for 4 to 5 hours at a time. I have no set schedule. Other authors have a set time when they sit down to the computer.

21. Yes.

22. Authors mainly travel in their imagination and create their own worlds.

23. There is no average salary.  Few writers can support themselves on their writing along.

24. There is no average range of salary for any writer. Many children's books these days are self-published.

25. Many writers have other careers as doctors, lawyers, mothers. There is no alternative to having a craft. A craft is a talent that you pursue.

Good luck with your project. A. B. Curtiss

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I was Taken Aback by Your Response to my Letter

This letter is a response to the post on December 24, 2011.

Dear A. B.

Thank you so much for replying so thoughtfully to my message. Your books have helped me so much. My sister gave me her copy of Brainswitch and I love it. At first, when you wrote that I was
probably very angry that my life wasn't working out the way I wanted, I was taken aback. I never think of myself as angry but I guess I am. .Some things in life cannot be willed or forced...like the big ones. I want...marriage and family. And it definitely bothers me that it has come easily to friends and not to me.

I am really going to take your advice to heart. I'm going to join a toast masters group because I am doing a toast at my sister's wedding. And I am going to take French classes so that I can pursue my dream of working in Africa with Doctors without Borders. And, I'm going to take art classes because I love art and miss it.

Meanwhile, I'm just living minute by minute...praying a lot, talking to my family a lot, being fully present and compassionate with my patients...and planning to not spend much time alone until I feel better. With some searching and being present, I hope my next step in life will be a good one.

Thank you so much for your kindness and help. T.

Dear T,

Sounds like you are headed in a very positive direction. A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Emitons are not Logical or Intelligent, just Powerful

Dear AB,

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!  I did, though my Christmas Eve was rather crazy  and full of drama, courtesy of my husband.

He has been on his "best behavior" for the last several months.  I have appreciated his supportive, friendly presence and have tried to let him know that over this period.  As I've told you before, I try very hard to be a good wife, and to keep our household orderly, functional, attractive, clean etc.  I try to be emotionally supportive and nurturing. Marriage and home life are my priorities. My husband is very important to me. 

As I mentioned, Christmas Eve was chaotic.  Everything changed.  Dr. Jeckyl exited and Mr. Hyde arrived full throttle.  This happened last Xmas Eve too.  Long story short, he told me both this year & last that he was afraid that I would get grumpy, sad or depressed, so he felt undue pressure and made things miserable before they had a chance to get miserable on their own, I guess you could say.  He picked a fight with me.  It took a while, but I finally caved in, lost my patience.  He blamed me for it all, of course, and said vicious, malicious, nasty things to me in the heat of it.  He also brought up things (tender feelings, self-doubts, etc.) I had shared with him during good times, and acted as if I was horrible for having those feelings.  At the time I originally shared these details, he had behaved as a friend and confidant, but now was holding my weaknesses against me in a brutal verbal assault.

We ate dinner with my family at a restaurant the following day, then all came to our house for dessert.  He was on his best behavior, and was helpful preparing the house and food early Christmas morning.  He gave me a couple of Christmas gifts, & a nice visit unfolded with my family that evening. 

I guess my question is...how can I trust him again?  Should I trust him again? He says he didn't want to hear me whine or get depressed if the evening with my family went poorly.  Indeed, if it had, I would have wanted to talk about it.  Is that so bad?  How much should I keep to myself in this life?   Aren't partners for sharing our inner selves with?  Do I have to suffer some disappointment or confusion and keep it all inside?  I think he's smart and I want his feedback a lot of times.  To me this sort of disclosure and sharing of vulnerability is part of intimacy, being married, being human.

HE  seems to want a more superficial existence.  He doesn't want to hear any bad news.  He doesn't seem terribly interested in my process of personal growth and changes and revelations I experience regarding family and others in my life.  How much is healthy to keep within ourselves?  Point me in a direction please, that will help me understand what is normal & healthy! 

I wanted to create a nice evening for my family.  Yes, I was fearful of criticism, of being laughed at, of not doing something "right."  Would the house be clean enough, my food good enough, etc. ?  I shared those thoughts with him.  Wasn't the end of the world though...I was going forward with my plans, cheerfully too, for better or worse. 

I don't know if I am making sense.  Can you shed any light on this mess?

Thanks, AB!


I'm very tired at the moment--been booksigning everyday. But I wanted to send you a short reply at least. First, I think most men are not interested in the "personal growth" of their wives, or hearing minutia of their emotional experiences. Only men who have been feminized or are in the psychotherapy field are deeply interested in this. Most men barely tolerate it.

The best place for this kind of conversation is women friends. Unfortunately, as we have moved out of the small-town kind of existence, it is often difficult to maintain a "best friend" when we move every couple of years. But we must actively seek for such friendship. Being fearful of criticism, of being laughed at, of worrying about whether your house is clean enough or your food good enough is perfect conversation for girlfriends but may be threatening to menfolk who tend to feel guilty if their womenfolk are unhappy because they immediately think they are going to be blamed for the shortfall. This is why they get so short-tempered—out of fear of getting blamed for your unhappiness, they become defensive and attack you before you can attack them. Of course it doesn’t make any sense. Our emotions are not intelligent, just 

Men generally are ready to die for you, to spend their whole life working to support you, to jump in front of a car to save your life, to take on the charging grizzly that threatens you. But they can't bear to hear you complain. And the saddest thing of all is that although they might walk all over your feelings in their haste to take care of you, they are super sensitive to the slightest rebuke or hint of criticism from you. It's a wonder any marriage ever survives its occupants.

 A. B. Curtiss

Thank you, thank you so much, AB!  I so appreciate your replies.  Your ideas make a great deal of sense.  These thoughts will help me re-frame my perspective to one that is less stressful. You did indeed point me in a better direction!

Sorry I caught you at a time when you were tired.  Of course...I'm sure your holiday was very full. Hope it was full of fun and love!

Again, I appreciate your time, thought & effort very much.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Am Suffering from Anxiety because I Can't Find a Life Partner.

Dear A. B.:

Thank you so much for your book, Depression is a Choice. Your book helps me enormously. I have written to you before a couple of times. I think for the most part I have only experienced major depression once.This was when I was 22. I wrote to you a few years ago because I was feeling down about living in New York and having difficulty making friends and meeting a man for a long-term relationship.

I'm writing to you now because I am in the throes of another problem. I finished my masters in nursing in January and thought that I wanted to move from New York. I blamed living in New York for my problems with meeting friends and a partner. People constantly talk about how hard it is to meet people here. Since my sister had moved recently, I decided I would try where she lived. I went on job interviews. 

About 2 weeks ago, I went  for interviews. I felt very anxious prior to going and went I got there, the anxiety intensified. I have never felt so anxious. I was offered the job but turned it down. I felt so consumed with anxiety about moving and just really had no desire to move. This put me into some kind of a tailspin. My sister prescribed Effexor. I have never taken anti-depressants but I just could not deal with the panic. Even though I am home, I am still panicking and waking up in the middle of the night, vomitting, etc.

When I am working (I am working as a nurse), I am ok. And last night I slept through the night with no panic. However, I still feel shaky in the mornings. I also wonder if my feelings about  New York are validand I do need to leave. Or if that is just depression talking. I am shaken from all of this.

I guess there are certain things I want in life and am not getting...friends that I have are having children and moving on and so I feel the friendships I do have are dwindling. Also, I am 32 and still haven't met a life partner.

Do you have any advice for me? I don't want to self-focus. I really do want to just be a good person and make a difference but I also need community and relationships. I have a big supportive family but they are mostly in NJ and have children and their own lives. One of my sisters moved to Brazil and at 39 met someone and is getting married. She spent many years in New York single. I guess this was a big incentive for me to move too.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thank you,


Dear T,

If I were you I would not take any drugs for anxiety. If you are lacking in body  nutrients that causes anxiety then go to a nutritionist or a doctor of  Chinese medicine to see what nutritional supplements or hormones you need.

 It seems to me from your description that you are probably very angry that  life is not going the way you want. This is perfectly normal. We all hate it  when things aren't going the way we want. But this emotion does set us up  for depression and anxiety. The chemical imbalance is caused by our own anxious thinking and can be cured by curbing our anxious thinking and choosing more productive thinking.

Generally speaking, to rush all around until we find the "right spot" where  our life is waiting for us is like chasing our own tail. We get wound up and  make no progress. Life is always right where we are. That does not mean that  if some opportunity arises at a distance--a job, a group we want to join,  etc., that we can't pick up and go there. Or even, if we have some desire to  move to some other place "on a whim" we can't go for it. Or to go where  friends and family are there already may make sense as well. It makes sense  to assess your opportunities and chose the best option.

In every city there are small groups of like -minded people. You seek them  out through their interests: church, book groups, dance groups,  philosophical lecture groups, local choirs, hiking or biking clubs, or singing choruses you can join. People met in Starbucks all the time or Barnes and  Noble. You can volunteer for various groups and meet other volunteers. Many  people meet over the internet these days. I met two wonderful friends when I  took a course in public speaking through Toastmaster's International which is in every town. One of my friends met her life partner by signing up for  dance lessons. Through your work as a nurse you should be meeting people  where you work. Set your mind that every day is an opportunity. If not  today, then tomorrow. Do magical thinking rathing than anxious thinking.  You can get an idea of magical thinking exercises from my book Brainswitch out of Depression.

There may be some opportunities in chat rooms, I'm not too familiar with  internet opportunities. There are men who are also looking for someone. But  taking drugs because you don't like how your life is going does not make any sense at all. If you're in a Sushi Bar, or waiting in line, start talking to strangers. You never know.  And be sure and let everyone in your family know you are looking for someone.
A. B. Curtiss

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I used the Green Frog Thing this Morning and it WORKED!


I read your brainswitch book. I used the green frog thing this morning and it actually worked. I live in Orange county. Is there anyone to go to here that  uses your stuff- are you still counseling? I related so much to the descriptions in your book- the pain is excruciating- but I am gonna get out of it. K.

Dear K.

I'm sorry but I don't know anyone in your area who uses my techniques and I no longer take private patients. However, I will always answer any question you have via email and I do not charge for that.

Getting out of depression is a matter of training your brain and making the neural patterns of getting out of depression stronger than the neural patterns that get you into depression. No one can do the work for you. You have to do it yourself.

I still get downer thoughts now and then and I am so used to immediately turning my mind to another thought pattern that I just don't get depression anymore. Now I seem to be able to stop it before it even gets started. The big hits don't seem to come anymore.

Works for insomnia as well. For instance, I have used the really simple rhyme so often to get to sleep that it just gets stronger and stronger and I never have insomnia anymore. An old high school cheer "One two three four who are we for." It's like my brain is trained now to immediately power down when I start the rhyme. I might get into a bunch of heavy thinking and notice I'm not getting to sleep. I ask my self "Do you want to think or do you want to sleep?" It is a matter of insistence upon your own thought rather than the thought that pops up. A. B. Curtiss

Friday, December 16, 2011

How Will Anti Depressants Affect My Baby? Please advise.

Dear Ms.Curtiss,

At first, I wuold like apologise of my English.I am Lina. I am from Lithuania, it is east Europe. I have read your book "BRAIN SWITCH". It is a wonderful book. I believe yuo are the best doctor-
psychotherapists that I have ever meet. I have got very big problem. Can yuo advice me, please. I am 35 years old. Depression came into my life when I was 29.
Now I am pregnant and I use drugs (Cipralex 10 mg). I know yuo was in depression for along time.Did you drink the medicine when you were pregnant?Do  yuo know what is the antidepressant effects for a baby. I started use drugs 23 week of pregnancy. I am very much afraid of my baby. Maybe you can share your experiences, please.Your book helps me very, but I am very afraid to refuse drug.I think this will take time.I know yuo are very busy, but   I wuold like ask yuo respond to my letter, please. It is very important for me.Thanks in advance.


 Dear L
I never took any drugs for my depression because I was more afraid of the drugs than the depression. In this country there are now big suits because Prozac and other anti-depressants have caused problems for pregnant women. On the other hand, many  women took these drugs and had no problem so all may be well with you and your baby.  I don't know how to advise you because I don't know anything about drugs. I don't think anti-depressants do any good. I do think that hormonal problems and lack of nutrients in some people can cause depression which can than be alleviated by natural homeopathic supplements such as vitamins, hormone replacement etc. I hope all goes well for you and I'm sorry I can't be of more help. 

A. B. Curtiss -

Monday, December 5, 2011

Drug Work, but in My Case They Stopped Working

Dear Ms. Curtiss,

I bought the Kindle version of your "Brainswitch" book, and found it very helpful. I do believe that many of us suffering from depression have a "wrong thinking" problem, and your "green frog" technique is very helpful. I am wondering if the words one recites have to necessarily have to be nonsense words. For instance, I am memorizing some phrases of Moroccan Arabic for when I visit my daughter who is teaching there this winter. As long as I am reciting the phrases, it seems to work. The one caveat here is that depression definitely makes it hard to memorize. 
Well, thank you for this great book. I am sure drugs do work, but in my case, they stopped working. 

Shokran, (thank you!)

Dear D,

Any cognitive activity works to 'thoughtjam" and distract the neocortex from acknowledging that depression is taking place in the subcortex. Moroccan phrases or mathematical formulas, nonsense rhymes, anything works. Without that acknowledgment and concentration on it, depression soon weakens.

A. B. Curtiss