Getting the Most Out of the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference

By Mike Befeler

Writers conferences are a blast. Having attended a number of different ones, the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference ranks up there right at the top. This will be my twelfth year, and I get something new out of each one. Here are my thoughts on getting the most out of the conference.

1. If this is your first conference, jump in and meet people. If this is your umpteenth conference, make an effort to meet the people who are here for the first time. At my first conference, I knew one other person attending. Now I have many friends I’ve made over the years.

2. Take the time to peruse the schedule and pick out a variety of sessions. For my first few years, I concentrated on craft. Then I migrated to sessions on how to pitch and sell your manuscript. Then with my first publication, I focused on how to promote your books. Now, I find myself jumping in at all levels. It’s said you need to write a million words to learn the craft of writing. I’ve written over a million words, and I’ll still learning. We all can continue to tune our craft.

3. Think about what you’re currently writing and go to sessions with the frame of mind that you’re going to learn something to improve that manuscript.

4. Volunteer. It’s a great way to meet people. I’m coordinating moderators this year and moderating. We all can contribute to making the conference a success.

5. At the meals sit with someone you don’t know. Although it’s great to catch up with old friends, meal time is a chance to also make some new friends.

6. Make an effort to pitch to agents and editors. This works much better than sending in blind query letters. I sold my first book as a result of a pitch at the 2005 RMFW Colorado Gold Conference. Just don’t follow agents or editor into the restroom to pitch to them, particularly if of the opposite sex.

7. Spend time at the book sale on Friday night. Go around and meet the published authors. If you’re a published author, stand up and greet the people coming by. For the first five people who stop by to see me at the book signing and mention they’ve read this blog, I’ll give you a free book.

8. Drop by the hospitality suite after the conference Friday and Saturday nights. This is an excellent opportunity to schmooze with editors, agents and other writers. By the way, the hospitality suite is sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Hug a mystery writer.

9. Have fun.

Mike Befeler has five published books in his Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, the most recent being Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder and Care Homes Are Murder. He also has two published paranormal mysteries, The V V Agency and The Back Wing. Mike is president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Learn more about Mike and his books at his website and blog. He can also be found on Facebook.


The Art of Balancing Writing and a Full Time Job

By Mike Befeler

When I started writing in 2001, I made a decision that fiction writing was something I wanted to retire into. I began writing and training myself so I could eventually retire from the computer industry where I had worked for years. I had learned that you can take any course for free at the University of Colorado with the instructor’s permission if you’re fifty-five or older. Coming to writing later in life and living in Boulder, I availed myself of this opportunity. We wrote short stories in the courses and critiqued each other, my first exposure to critique groups. Then I decided to try my hand at novel length material. At this time I was still working full time so I devised a way to write on a regular basis while paying the bills through my day job.

I had read the book, The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron. I highly recommend it since it provides excellent exercises to improve creativity. One of her techniques is called Morning Pages. Every morning first thing, sit down and write three handwritten pages. They can be anything—your journal or whatever pops into your head. It’s a means of getting the creative juices flowing for the day.

Since I didn’t have a lot of time to spend beyond my job and family responsibilities, I decided to adapt the Morning Pages concept for my own use. Here’s the approach I took: First thing every morning, I’d review where I left of in my novel manuscript the day before. Then I’d write three handwritten pages to continue the story before heading off to my job. After work, I’d enter those three pages into the computer, doing an editing pass along the way. This typically produced two typed pages.

If you do the math, in a hundred fifty days, I had the rough draft for a three hundred page novel. I wrote the initial draft of my first three published novel (Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder and Senior Moments Are Murder) using this approach.

In August, 2007, I was able to retire from the computer industry into my full time writing career. Since I now don’t have to dash out of the house in the mornings (unless I’m giving a breakfast presentation), I write directly on the computer. But for those years of balancing writing and a full time job, my adapted Morning Pages technique served me well.


mike_befelerMike Befeler has five published books in his Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, the most recent being Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder and Care Homes Are Murder. He also has two published paranormal mysteries, The V V Agency and The Back Wing. Mike is president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Learn more about Mike and his books at his website and blog. He can also be found on Facebook.

Why I’m Loyal to RMFW

By Mike Befeler

I’ve been to every RMFW Gold Conference since 2002. The first year I went, I had no clue what I was doing. A writing friend had suggested the conference, so I decided to give it a shot. She was the only person I knew at the conference.

I had started writing in the fall of 2001, having made the decision that I wanted to retire into fiction writing. I had learned that if you’re 55 or over you can take any course for free at the University of Colorado with the instructor’s permission and had signed up for a fiction writing course. I also negotiated with my boss so that I could work 3 days a week, allowing me to take the course and do some writing.

In fact, the first day I was going to write for the whole morning was a Tuesday morning in September. I got organized at my writing desk and was about to start when my phone rang. It was the CEO of the company I worked for asking if I had seen the reports on what had happened. I hadn’t watched television that morning because I didn’t want to get distracted from my first morning of writing. That was September 11, and, needless to say, I never got any writing done that day.

At my first conference I learned about critique groups and over the years have joined several RMFW critique groups, which helped me improve my writing.

By 2005 I had a novel that I decided to submit in the mystery category for the contest at the conference. I didn’t place in the top 3 but received a packet back with some excellent suggestions and madly rewrote my manuscript, so by the time of the conference, I had an improved novel that I had a lot of confidence in. At the conference that year, I pitched my idea to two agents and two editors. Deni Dietz of Five Star liked the concept and told me to email my complete manuscript to her.

After the conference, I went home, completed one more editing pass on my manuscript, emailed it to Deni and crossed my fingers. Two months later I received an email with a contract offer, and my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in January, 2007, the result of a pitch session at the RMFW conference.

Attending the first conference in 2001, I took careful notes on writing craft, which helped me improve my skills. Then I started paying attention to how to pitch a novel, which prepared me for 2005. Next, I focused on sessions of what to do to sell your novel once it’s been published. I still attend as many sessions as possible, and learn more each year.

That’s the beauty of being in the writing world. It’s an ongoing education.

See you at the RMFW Gold Conference this year.


Mike Befeler is active in organizations promoting a positive image of aging. He holds a Master's degree from UCLA and a Bachelor's degree from Stanford. Author of the popular "geezer lit" Paul Jacobson mystery series, he has recently branched out into standalones such as The V V Agency.

Writing Unchained

By Mike Befeler

mike_befelerThis is my first post on the RMFW blog, so let me introduce myself. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Mike Befeler. For those of you who do know me, I’m still Mike Befeler. In the past I’ve been know as the Geezer-lit Guy because I’m author of the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery series, which includes Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder, Senior Moments Are Murder, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder and Care Homes Are Murder. Like Clark Kent, I’ve now taken on a new persona. I have two published paranormal mysteries, The V V Agency and The Back Wing. The V V Agency introduces a new type of shape-shifter called a transvictus, and The Back Wing gets back to my roots (they’re blond)—it’s a paranormal geezer-lit mystery. Don’t believe the myth that vampires don’t age. They get older, lose their teeth and gum people on the neck.

I want to thank Pat Stoltey for inviting me to join this blog. I’ll be your entertainment for the first and third Mondays of the month. I enjoy hearing from readers, so please respond, bug me, send notes, etc. I’d particularly like to hear what subjects you haven’t seen addressed in blogs that you’d like commented on.

The topic I’d like to address today is experimenting with different genres. When I started writing, which was in 2001 when I was 56 years old, I had no clue what I was doing. Some may say that’s still the case, but what the heck. Along the way I’ve learned a thing or two, which is important, because if our ancestors hadn’t, we’d still be watching cave drawings instead of Downton Abbey. One lesson learned is that we can write whatever we chose. Nothing says we have to be pigeonholed as one type of writer or another.

My first published novel didn’t even start as a mystery. I began writing a relationship story about three men and three women in a retirement community. At the same time I was writing a collection of mystery short stories featuring older people, and the two concepts combined, and Retirement Homes Are Murder was born.

The best part of the writing process for me is being intrigued with a subject and then pursuing it. As a mystery writer I can investigate different ways to kill people (don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything more than kill off people I don’t like on the printed page or e–book page). I keep a manila folder full of writing ideas—things clipped from magazines and newspapers (yeah, I still read print newspapers) and notes I make when a person, event or location fascinates me.

The beauty is we can write about anything. We can invent new worlds, take actual events to their absurd conclusions and turn the ordinary into the extra-ordinary.

That’s what brought me to writing paranormal mysteries as well as geezer-lit mysteries. I’ve also become fascinated with historical characters. Two that have led me to written manuscripts are Athanasius Kircher, the last man to know everything, and Nikola Tesla, a brilliant eccentric. So I’ve tried my hand at historical novels and thrillers.

But wait, there’s more. I recently met a 94-year-old man who was an infantryman in World War II and fought in Operation North Wind. He was captured, put in a prisoner of war camp, and repatriated by the Russians. He recounts some of the most amazing stories about his experiences, so I’m writing his biography.

So don’t feel you have to be chained to whatever you have been writing. Let your imagination soar. Try something new.

What are your thoughts?


Learn more about Mike Befeler and his novels at his website.