Rocky Mountain Writer #77


Diane Byington & Run Away Home

Diane Byington is the guest with a story about the long and winding road to finding a publisher for her first novel, Run Away Home.

After seven years of work and writing and re-writing, Run Away Home is due out later this year or early next from Red Adept Publishing.

On the podcast, Diane talks about the inspiration for her first novel and why she couldn’t let the idea go, even after dozens of rewrites.

Diane Byington has been a tenured college professor, yoga teacher, psychotherapist, and executive coach. Also, she raised goats for fiber and once took a job cooking hot dogs for a NASCAR event. She still enjoys spinning and weaving, but she hasn’t eaten a hot dog or watched a car race since.

Diane and her husband divide their time between Boulder, Colorado, and the small Central Florida town they discovered while doing research for the book.

More about Diane Byington

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #76

Anita Mumm, Freelance Editor

Freelance editor Anita Mumm recently made the switch from working at a Denver-based literary agency to establishing her own editing and critique services firm. She also made the move from the big city to a small town in the mountains.

On the podcast, Anita gives a rundown on the services she offers through her well-named business, Mumm’s the Word.

She also talks about what she learned from sorting through hundreds (many thousands) of query letters at the Nelson Literary Agency and she talks about the unusual thing she does with her spare time, a globe-trotting effort that helps her keep things in perspective.

If you’re thinking about hiring a professional editor in the near future, this chat might be helpful in understanding precisely what you need. By the way, Anita will be one of three featured guests at the upcoming RMFW writing retreat in Colorado Springs (long since sold-out).

More: Mumm's the Word

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #75

Abby J. Reed & When Planets Fall

Abby J. Reed is the guest with her first novel, When Planets Fall.

The young adult science fiction fantasy comes out later this spring from Soul Mate Press and it has already drawn nifty advance praise.

Kirkus Reviews has already called it “propulsive” and “sharply crafted.”

On the podcast, Abby talks about a disorder she deals with called chronic migraine and how it ties in with the characters and events on her distant planet in a galaxy far, far away.

She also tells us about the Twitter pitch that led to her publishing deal and she’s got some excellent ideas about how to define success.

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if?. She has a degree in English Writing and lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups.

First up on this episode Rocky Mountain Writer is a fresh installment of Writer’s Rehab with Natasha Watts. This time, Natasha has some great tips to make sure your writing doesn’t lose its your point of view - or even begin to wander.

More about Abby J. Reed

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Random Thoughts

1. In the latest review on Amazon for The Asphalt Warrior, the first book in the eight-book series by the late Gary Reilly, a reader wrote:

"Writers, good ones, create their readers. And this book does that.”

Do good writers “create their own readers?”

I love that idea. Are you going after your readers? Or someone else's?

2. On a similar note, I’m currently reading Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott. It’s a finalist for an Edgar Award in the Best Paperback Original category. So, it’s a mystery. And mysteries are supposed to have a body (a victim) near the beginning. There are bodies in Shot in Detroit. In fact, lots of bodies. But the first half of this book is all character development. It’s a slow burn and a gritty build-up. The main character is dour and down—and interesting. She's different. She sees the world in her own unique way. And halfway into the book, we get the shift into that sort of “who done it?” format. It’s great to see the rules being broken—and broken so well. But I don’t think Shot in Detroit is for everybody. What book is?

3. Did "Moonlight" deserve Best Picture? I thought so. (Haven't seen "La La Land," though.) Could the story be any more…simple? More straightforward?

Does every story need layers and layers of complicated plot to pull us in?

Didn't you feel like you knew these characters, particularly after that long scene in the diner at the end?

4. I’ve had some great guests on the podcasts recently, but I highly recommend the one with Marc Graham. He makes some excellent points for up and coming writers about connecting with mentors. He talks about making a concerted effort to emulate success and how he “reverse engineered” the accomplishments of others. Marc also talks about the advantages of being “relentlessly helpful” along the way. These were some powerful insights from a guy whose first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, is being published two weeks from today. Listen here. Or check your favorite podcast provider.

5. Can reading make you happy? Have ever heard of The Novel Cure? Can you match a book to what ails you?  Can reading make you happy? Alter your mood?

There is an excellent article in The New Yorker about this topic.

The article cites the example of George Eliot, "who is rumored to have overcome her grief at losing her life partner through a program of guided reading with a young man who went on to become her husband." (Now, that is healing!) Eliot is quoted as saying: “art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot.”

Agreed.

Rocky Mountain Writer #74

Lisa Manifold - WOTY and I-WOTY  Nominations

This episode is a quick chat with Lisa Manifold about the Writer of the Year and Independent Writer of the Year Nominations.

The deadline is coming up: March 11!

Don't miss an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of a fellow writer and/or nominate yourself. (It's perfectly legitimate to do so.)

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #73

LS Hawker & End of the Road

This episode of the Rocky Mountain Writer is a chat with Lisa (a.k.a. LS) Hawker.

LS Hawker's third novel, End of the Road, was published last month by the Witness Impulse imprint of Harper Collins.

Lisa offers fun, interesting and heartfelt stories about her books, including an amazing story about her path to publication that took a significant turn on a famous date, 9/11.

Lisa talks about making the conversion from plotting from an organic approach to someone who now adheres to a tool called Story Grid to make sure she’s got all the necessary thriller elements in the right places.

LS Hawker is the author of the thrillers The Drowning Game, Body and Bone, and the brand new End of the Road.

The Drowning Game was a USA Today bestseller and also was a finalist in the ITW Thriller Awards in the Best First Novel category.

LS Hawker

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #72

Marc Graham & Of Ashes and Dust

This episode features a chat with historical novelist Marc Graham and the latest installment of Writer's Rehab from Natasha Watts.

Marc is back on the podcast (listen to episode #35 for his first visit) a few weeks before the launch of his debut novel, Of Ashes and Dust.

We caught Marc just a few minutes after he returned home from attending an out-of-state workshop for writers about growing and building your online audience.

Marc offers a few tips he picked up, including some ideas about being “relentlessly helpful” when you get the opportunity.

Marc also talks about the power of knowing the core idea of your novel and how that key concept can help you both with the writing itself and with getting the attention of agents and editors.

Marc Graham is an actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado When not on stage, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found traipsing about Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

This episode starts with a quick burst of inspiration in the latest Writer’s Rehab entry from Natasha Watts. Natasha offers ideas to help make sure your dialogue-heavy scenes come alive for your readers.

Marc Graham

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Motivation

Motivation.

You hear it all the time. Your characters need to be motivated to pick up that sword and slay the dragon, venture to a distant galaxy, or figure out why there’s a dead body at the bottom of the well.

What motivates your character to do what they need to do in your story?

But, wait.

Strip away the story for a second. Let’s get back to your character before your story starts.

Long before...

Before she needed to grasp the sword, before he climbed into the rocket, before she lowered herself in the well to study the corpse.

Who is this person—at the core? How motivated was he or she--in general? As a person?

Was she ambitious to begin with? Or filled with ennui? Where did she draw motivation to, say, go to college or get a job? No, really, what drives her to get out of bed in the morning and go pursue her dream? Any dream?

And is it her own dream? Or a course charted by a parental unit? Family pressure? Family influence?

I’m thinking about all of this because I recently met a guy who was successful and highly visible for a long period of time.

And then, wham.

I mean, he got creamed. He was below down and he was below out. He had made some mistakes. He over-extended himself. He went completely belly up. He owed millions of dollars. It was a bleak scene. It took several years, but he’s picked himself back up. And now he's making another run at big-time business success.

He can trace his character and grit back to his parents and how he was raised. It’s such a key part of his life, how he absorbed what they taught him about how to approach that big wide world.

Why does anybody want to do anything?

That’s a common refrain of Brendan Murphy, a.k.a. “Murph,” the Asphalt Warrior (star of eight novels to date). Murph, the creation of the late Gary Reilly, lives a very alternative lifestyle. He questions capitalism, even the need for much of an income. How many people do you know who share that worldview?

With his idiosyncratic ways, Murph reminds me of Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov, one of the most memorable novels I read in college, and Herman Melville’s Bartleby The Scrivener. Oblomov is incapable of doing anything significant. In the first 50 pages, he only moves from his bed to his chair. Told you. Great story.

And Bartleby declines most of the work assignments he’s given, even when the consequences mount.

Murph, Oblomov and Bartleby have their reasons. They are three-dimensional human beings.

Their lives are fascinating on their own because their sheer essence cuts against the grain of what’s acceptable.

Ignatius Reilly, also, the central character in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.

Ignatius Reilly: “I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.” Yes, to varying degrees, these four are anti-social.

The vast majority of fictional characters are not.

Your dragon-slayer.

Your astronaut.

Your detective.

Before the inciting incident that interrupts your character's routine life, who was this person? What got them up in the morning?

I don’t think it hurts, at a very fundamental level, to understand the answer to that question.

So your character stands out from the crowd.

Final thought from George Carlin: “Actually, if you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me. Serial killers, stock swindlers, drug dealers, Christian Republicans. I’m not sure motivation is always a good thing. You show me a lazy prick who’s lying in bed all day, watching TV … and I’ll show you a guy who’s not causing any trouble.”

Rocky Mountain Writer #71

David S. Atkinson & Apocalypse All The Time

One reviewer said David Atkinson’s novel Apocalypse All The Time combines absurdism, science fiction and sly commentary in a story reminiscent of Orwell, Kafka and Swift.

This time on the podcast, David Atkinson discusses his latest work and talks about his writing process, including his eclectic approach to reading – some 200 to 300 books a year.

He also talks about how he blends work as a patent attorney with his writing life.

In addition to Apocalypse All The Time, David Atkinson is also the author of Not Quite so Stories, The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes, and Bones Buried in the Dirt.

He is a Staff Reader for Digging Through The Fat and his writing appears in "Bartleby Snopes," "Literary Orphans," "Atticus Review," and others.

David Atkinson's website.

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

Intro music by Moby Gratis
Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com

Rocky Mountain Writer #70

Jamie Raintree & Your Most Productive Writing Year

The guest is Jamie Raintree, who is presenting this month’s free workshop (Saturday, Jan. 21) for RMFW in downtown Denver.

The presentation is called "Your Most Productive Writing Year" and on the podcast Jamie offers highlights from her approach to planning your writing and your writing career.

Jamie also talks about her debut novel Perfectly Undone, due to be published later this year from Graydon House.

Jamie Raintree is a writing and productivity teacher and also the creator of many writing productivity tools, including the Writing & Revision Tracker. She is also a mom, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi.

Jaimie Raintree

Intro music by Moby Gratis

Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

Intro music by Moby Gratis
Outro music by Dan-o-Songs

For suggestions about content or to comment on the show, email Mark Stevens. Also feel free to leave a comment about the podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast provider.

Host Mark Stevens: http://www.writermarkstevens.com