Rocky Mountain Writer #85

Charles Kowalski & Mind Virus

We’ve got sage advice this time ... all the way from Japan.

Charles Kowalski a few weeks away from the release of his first novel, Mind Virus, but it’s been a long road to reach this point.

And Charles knows it was all meant to be. He had just the right amount of encouragement, he says, at just the right time to keep going, to not give up.

Charles Kowalski is a two-time winner of the Action/Thriller category for Colorado Gold Award, for Mind Virus in 2013 and also in 2016 for the forthcoming Day of the Watchers.

Charles divides his time between Japan, where he teaches at a university, and his family home of Maine.

This is a special podcast because it marks the first international interview for the Rocky Mountain Writer. And, yes, members of RMFW live all around the world.

Charles Kowalski's website

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 #84

Teresa Funke & The Self-Publishing Blueprint

Teresa Funke is a high-in-demand coach who assists writers with all sorts of advice for every step of the process.

As a writer and self-publisher, she has has done some creative and innovative things that have worked.

And a few that have not.

So she wanted to share what she’s learned, to help others avoid making the same mistakes.

Today, with decades of experience under her belt, Teresa talks about a new online tool called the Self-Publishing Blueprint that she produced to help writers sort through the many options and choices that are out there.

As Teresa puts it, the Self-Publishing Blueprint is the only tool you will ever need to cut through the confusion of self-publishing and save yourself from costly mistakes.

Teresa Funke is the author of six award-winning works of fiction set in World War II. She is the owner of Victory House Press, and successfully
produces and markets her own books.

Visit her website to learn more about Teresa and access additional resources for writers or read her motivational blog "Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life."

Follow this link to the blueprint, including a $50 discount.

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 #83

Michael F. Haspil & Graveyard Shift

Michael F. Haspil has a soft spot for villains.

He also has a mountain of patience.

His journey to publication was so long he still doesn’t believe Graveyard Shift will actually be in the hands of readers in mid-July.

On the podcast, Mike talks about that bumpy road to publication for his first urban fantasy and he sheds light on the many benefits of working with a good critique group. He also talks about the unusual jobs he has held, including work as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch director for the U.S. Air Force at Cape Canaveral.

Mike is a self-described geeky engineer and nerdy artist with an role-playing, cosplaying, computer gaming, and collecting and creating replica movie props. Mike devotes the largest share of his gaming time to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game and he is a regular contribut to “The Long War,” a podcast and webcast dedicated to tabletop gaming.

Stay tuned after the interview as Mike reads a selection from Graveyard Shift.

This episode also includes another installment of Writer’s Rehab with Natasha Watts. This time, Natasha has some great tips to help you avoid the dreaded issue of repeating gestures as you describe your characters and their actions.

Mike Haspil's website

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

Completely Annihilated

No, "completely annihilated" does not mean this a column about drinking.

This is about something Mario Vargas Llosa once said.

Okay, I’ll back up.

Last week I had a cool opportunity in New York to moderate a panel at the Edgar Symposium. This is a day-long event prior to the Edgar Awards, the annual prizes for the best in mystery and crime fiction.

The title of my panel was “The Author’s Life.” My panelists were all finalists for one of the top Edgar Awards—best short story, best paperback original, best novel, etc.

Left to right: Tyler Dilts, Reed Farrel Coleman, Wendy Corsi Staub, Megan Abbott, Patricia Abbott, yours truly.
My panelists were Patricia Abbott (“Shot in Detroit,” best paperback original); Megan Abbott (“Oxford Girl,” best short story); Wendy Corsi Staub (“Blue Moon,” Mary Higgins Clark award); Reed Farrel Coleman (“Where It Hurts,” best novel); and Tyler Dilts (“Come Twilight,” best paperback original).

In prepping ideas for the group, I thought it might be fun to pose the same questions to my panelists that were also asked of famous writers by The Paris Review.

For instance, in 1957 Truman Capote was asked “Do you like anything you wrote long ago as well as what you write now?”

In 1996, Richard Price was asked, “When you’re writing a book do you tend to avoid reading other books?”

In 1993, Don DeLillo was asked: “Athletes—basketball players, football players—talk about ‘getting into the zone.’ Is there a writer’s zone you get into?"

In 2013, Ursula LeGuin was asked, “Did you ever catch yourself thinking about potential book sales when you were considering a project?”

And in 1968, John Updike was asked, “Are you conscious of belonging to a definable American literary tradition? Would you describe yourself as part of an American tradition?”

After we went around on the panel hearing answers from Edgar Award nominees, I read a portion of the answers from what the writers said in The Paris Review. It was interesting. There’s not enough room here to include the Paris Review answers or what my panelists offered up, but it was fun.

Llosa was asked: “Do you choose the subjects of your books or do they choose you?”

(Great question, huh?)

I highly recommend the entire interview, but his answer to this specific questions prompts Llosa to make a great case for the “irrational” elements of literary creation.

Llosa says he wants to write novels that “read the way I read the novels I love.”

And then he says this: “The novels that have fascinated me most are the ones that have reached me less through the channels of the intellect or reason than bewitched me. These are stories capable of completely annihilating all my critical faculties so that I’m left there, in suspense … I think it’s very important that the intellectual element, whose presence is inevitable in a novel, dissolves into the action, into the stories that must seduce the reader not by their ideas but by their color, by the emotions they inspire, by their element of surprise, and by all the suspense and mystery they’re capable of generating.”

Yeah, who doesn’t want to write a novel that is capable of “completely annihilating” all of a reader’s critical faculties.

Just a new standard to shoot for.

I thought I would share.

Sometimes you have to put technique aside and let the imagination go.

Right?

++++

PS: The guy who ultimately won for best paperback original (Adrian McKinty, “Rain Dogs”) was unable to sit in on my panel due to personal issues, alas.

PPS: Megan Abbott and Patricia Abbott are the first daughter-mother combination of writers to ever be finalists for the Edgar Award in the same year. How cool is that??

Rocky Mountain Writer #82

Margaret Mizushima & The Timber Creek K-9 Mystery Series

It’s been about 17 months since we had Margaret Mizushima on the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast, way back on episode number 23. At the time, her debut novel Killing Trail was a few weeks from publication and the buzz was just building for the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series.

Now, her second book Stalking Ground is a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, the release of her third, Hunting Hour, is only a few months away, and she is writing her fourth. And the series is set for its United Kingdom debut in early May with plans for publication in France coming, too.

So it's hard to imagine a better time to chat with Margaret Mizushima, who catches up with her cast of characters, including K-9 cop Mattie Cobb, her dog Robo, and local veterinarian Cole Walker.

Margaret also talks about how being under contract and facing deadlines has changed her writing process.

After earning a master’s degree in speech pathology, Margaret Mizushima practiced in a hospital and her own rehabilitation agency, and now she assists her husband with their veterinary clinic and her of Angus cattle. She enjoys reading and hiking and lives in Colorado on a small farm where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Margaret Mizushima's website

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 #81

Terri Benson & PubCon 2017

RMFW Education Chair Terri Benson offers an overview of PubCon 2017, coming up on Saturday, April 29 in Golden.

A few spots remain for this day-long event that will explore both traditional and independent publishing.

More about PubCon 2017 is here.

 

 

 

 

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 #80

Kevin Ikenberry & Sleeper Protocol

Sleeper Protocol started with one sentence on a blank page. The sentence became a short story.

Then the short story became a novella and soon Kevin Ikenberry realized he needed to write the story as a full-length novel.

Now, Sleeper Protocol is a finalist this year in the genre fiction category for the Colorado Book Award.

Kevin is a life-long space geek and retired Army officer. He’s a former manager of the world-renowned U.S. Space Camp program and a former executive with two Challenger Learning Centers—learning environments that engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities to study space.

All the way along, through college and beyond, others noted Kevin’s talents as a writer but it took years for Kevin to take his writing more seriously. A serious disease prompted Kevin to bear down on getting Sleeper Protocol in final shape and ready to search for a publisher.

In short, Kevin Ikenberry’s story about writing and getting published is one you won’t soon forget.

Kevin Ikenberry

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 #79

Kevin Michaels & Still Black Remains

Kevin Michaels is the author of the just-released Still Black Remains, a novel that takes readers down into the gritty streets of New Jersey with gangs and the Mafia.

Michaels is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Lost Exit, as well as two entries in the Fight Card Books series: Hard Road and Can't Miss Contender.

Michaels' short stories and flash fiction have also appeared in a number of magazines and indie zines, and in 2011 he was nominated for two separate Pushcart Prize awards.

On the podcast, Michaels talks about the appeal of writing gritty crime fiction and he talks about an organization he founded called Story Tellers that works with under-served teenagers and young adults in a community-based effort to develop and promote literacy through writing.

Michaels left the corporate world to focus on writing but he's realistic about the work ahead. “Writing is a craft,” he says. “Study it, play with it, keep improving.”

Kevin Michaels on Facebook

Literary Wanderlust

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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

Everything Is Broken

I hate it when things aren’t working right.

Last week was a doozy.

First, it was the microphone I use to record podcasts. (Yes, RMFW, the microphone you purchased to help start the podcasts– all $50 worth. It worked for two years & 77 podcasts and then pfffft.)

It looked the same as always. Nothing rattled. But, busted. Gone.

I spent 3.5 hours online with a tech service trying to see what was wrong with my computer.

Turns out, it was the microphone.

Then, our refrigerator started making an annoying rattle.

$850 later, we had a new compressor.  (I can’t show it to you; it’s tucked inside the refrigerator now, doing its job).

These guys came to my house twice in one week!

The next day, one of the flaps in the dryer’s tumbler thing came loose. Whump-whump-whump.

The credit card took another $208 hit.

No joke.

(Bob Dylan was ringing in my ear …. Broken lines, broken strings, Broken threads, broken springs…)

What else breaks?

Sometimes, it’s our words.

A word. A sentence. A paragraph.

George Saunders (Lincoln in The Bardo; many, many killer short stories) has a terrific piece in The Guardian about writing. It's called 'What writers really do when they write.'

He talks about evaluating the words he has written “without hope and without despair.”

George Saunders says he imagines a meter mounted on his forehead as he reads his own stuff, with “P” on one side for positive and “N” on the other for negative.

“Accept the result without whining,” he suggests.

Then edit, he writes, “so as to move the needle into the ‘P’ zone.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in this piece.

It’s long but entirely worth absorbing.

I won’t come right out and say a sentence is “broken” or a paragraph is “broken."

I mean, you’ve got something work with--that's a huge accomplishment.

Those words on the page. You can’t edit thin air.

But there might be a way to make those words work better.

To make them, well, work.

There’s P, there’s N.

Fix them!

No whining.

Final thought from George Saunders: “Any work of art quickly reveals itself to be a linked system of problems.”

Rocky Mountain Writer #78

Angie Hodapp & Warren Hammond - New RMFW Anthology False Faces

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is getting ready to publish a new short story anthology in 2018: False Faces: Tales of Fakes, Frauds, and Facades.

This time on the podcast co-editors Angie Hodapp and Warren Hammond walk us through the process they have developed for selecting and editing stories between now and the anticipated publication in September of 2018.

Angie Hodapp holds a BA in English and secondary education and an MA in English and communication development, and she is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has worked in publishing and professional writing and editing, in one form or another, for sixteen years. She currently works at Nelson Literary Agency as the Director of Literary Development.

Warren Hammond is known for his gritty, futuristic KOP series. The third book in the series, KOP Killer, won the Colorado Book Award. Warren's latest novel, Tides of Maritinia, is a spy novel set in a science-fictional world.

First up on this episode is another episode of Writer’s Rehab from Natasha Watts. Natasha goes after what she calls an issue of attitude. If your writing role model is Harper Lee or if you are treating your first novel like a passion project, these few minutes of commentary are for you.

False Faces Anthology Guidelines

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