Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

Back in March of 2013, Mark Stevens caught up with me at Left Coast Crime in Colorado Springs and asked if I might be interested in reviving the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog. It's possible he caught me in a weak moment, perhaps after a glass of wine, but I said I'd think it over.

Then I decided yes, I'd give it a shot. We went live on August 1, 2013 with a new lineup of regular contributors and a few open spots for guests.

Even though I knew very little about the WordPress program that houses the blog.

Even though I had just signed a book contract and had the whole editing cycle and promotion planning ahead of me.

Even though I knew very few RMFW members and up to that time had only volunteered as a conference registrar or workshop moderator.

As I said, it's possible Mark caught me in a weak moment, mellowed by that glass of wine (and probably a chocolate dessert as well).

ClipartPanda.com

Little did I know that "yes" would take me down a yellow brick road leading to a whole new world of information, networking, and just plain fun--a kind of Oz, if you will.

As I move on down that yellow brick road to new adventures (two first drafts that need revisions, a new project just started, and another November book release that will be here way too fast), I want to encourage other members who've never volunteered to give one of the tasks a try. I promise you'll make new friends, no matter what job  you take on.

If you volunteer to help out at Colorado Gold, you might moderate and keep time for a panel of agents or editors. If you're a published author, you might host one of the tables at the banquet -- I got to sit next to an agent one time, and since the room was very noisy, she spent most of her time talking to the two of us who sat closest to her. Conference opportunities are many, so fill out and submit the form on the Conference Volunteer page or contact Corinne O'Flynn for more information (conference@rmfw.org)

If you decide to write a guest post for the blog, you'll be introducing yourself to new people, both members and non-members. Watch for new procedures when they're announced in the newsletter, or contact blog@rmfw.org

If you have good critiquing skills and a good knowledge of the craft of writing, you'd be a natural to volunteer as a first-round judge for the Colorado Gold Contest, and those judge positions need to be filled very soon.  (Contact  contest@rmfw.org)

Offer to present a program or workshop, write an article, help the social media gurus, and more (contact volunteering@rmfw.org).

I am grateful to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for many things, but that opportunity to meet my future Five Star editor during a critique workshop tops the list. Attending that one Colorado Gold Conference led to three books published and a fourth on the way. I hope I've managed to show my appreciation through my volunteer activities so far, especially the 3.5 years as blog coordinator alongside my co-editor and good friend, Julie Kazimer. After I whip all my unfinished projects into shape and get through the November book release, I'll probably be back looking for some little thing I can do for RMFW. Maybe I'll see you there.

After all, once you discover there's a kind of Oz in your life, you really don't want to let it go.

Speaking of Podcasts…

Mark Stevens, RMFW's podcast guru, published a post yesterday that mentioned his broken podcast microphone, and that reminded me we haven't mentioned those podcasts here on the blog for quite a while.

You do listen to the podcasts, right?

I mean, you are aware that RMFW has a series of excellent podcasts for your education and amusement, right? Seventy-eight of them so far!

Ahem!

Number #78 is a must-listen for any member who wants to submit to the new short story anthology:  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.

Head on over to the podcast page to scroll through the whole list and read the descriptions.

Five Reasons to Submit Your Work to Anthologies

I'm sure by now you've heard that Found: Short Stories by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, is a finalist in the 2017 Colorado Book Awards from Colorado Humanities.

And hopefully  you've also heard that I have an essay in a new anthology called Still Me ... After All These Years: 24 Writers Reflect on Aging.

Those two facts triggered this blog post designed to encourage all writers to think seriously about submitting your work to every legitimate anthology opportunity that comes your way. I came up with five good reasons to take on these extra projects even if you generally write only novel-length fiction.

1. Increases name recognition

The more often readers see your name, the more likely they are to remember and recognize it when they're browsing bookstores, online, and at the library

2. More people see your bio

That bio can include your most recent publications, the urls for your website and social media, and some tidbit of information to remember you by. For ebooks, the links are often clickable for speedy friending and following.

3. Many anthologies are entered into book award competitions

Found is a good example. Submissions were solicited from RMFW members only.

A second anthology on the finalist list, Sunrise Summits: A Poetry Anthology, was edited by Dean K. Miller and contains poetry by member of Northern Colorado Writers. The call for submissions went out to NCW members via the website, newsletter, and Facebook page.

4. Submitting to anthologies is good practice

If you have any hope of getting your work accepted for publication, it's important to learn to follow all submission rules and requirements. That includes tie-in to theme or topic, sticking to the correct genre, quality writing with no grammar errors or typos, proper formatting and style according to instructions, submitting only if you qualify (for member-only publications, submit only if you're a member).

5. New individual or group promotion opportunities lead back to that number one reason: increase name recognition.

With the release of anthologies, you may participate in book signings, blog book tours, social media promotions on Facebook or Twitter, book giveaways as part of the tours or separately on Goodreads.

Examples include the signing and book sale at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writers Conference in Denver in September for the authors of the RMFW anthology Found; the book sale and signing opportunities at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference May 5-6 for the poets in Sunrise Summits.

MC Book Tours handled the blog book tour for Still Me ... After All These Years which included this post on my own blog: "What? Me Aging?" And I'm giving away three copies of this anthology of personal essays on Goodreads as part of the promotion. The giveaway ends April 5th, so if you're interested, click here to get to the widget on my blog.

Anthologies That Want Your Submissions

Rocky Mountain Fictions Writers is seeking submissions from RMFW members only for the 2018 anthology: False Faces: Tales of Fakes, Frauds, and Facades. Find more information and the guidelines on the RMFW website. Submissions are open now and close on June 30th, 2017.

Tulip Tree Publishing has issued a call for submissions for the next Stories That Need to be Told. The 2016 issue of this anthology series is also a finalist in the anthology category of the Colorado Book Awards. The submission guidelines and award information are available on the Tulip Tree Publishing website. The deadline is September 6, 2017.

The top publisher of personal essays is, of course, Chicken Soup for the Soul. That publisher always has a list of potential and planned projects so periodically checking their list is a great idea. Here's that link.

And one more for good measure: Ploughshares Emerging Writer's Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer (no published work, traditional or indie) in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $1,000 and publication in the literary journal. More information can be found at the Ploughshares at Emerson College site. This competition closes on May 15, 2017.

Pay attention to the bloggers you follow, the writerly folks on Facebook and Twitter, and the organizations you've joined. Any of those places can be a source of information for anthology editors seeking submission.

Now it's up to you. Will you polish a short story and submit to False Faces, find the perfect topic at Chicken Soup for the Soul, or perhaps submit  a story to the Tulip Tree anthology? Do you know of another great anthology that is open to submissions? Have you recently had a piece published in an anthology? Let us know in the comments below.

Getting to Know You: The RMFW Q&A Project #8

The Getting to Know You Project is intended to introduce RMFW members with short responses to three questions, a photo, and a few social media links if available. If you would like to participate in the project for future months, please email Pat Stoltey at blog@rmfw.org

Betsy Dornbusch

Website: http://betsydornbusch.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/betsydornbusch
Twitter: http://twitter.com/betsydornbusch
Instagram: http://instagram.com/betsydornbusch

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I write epic fantasy and my fourth and fifth novels come out next year. For my next series, I'm merging fantasy with mystery, so that's fun and super scary. I write as my job so I tend to work when the kids are at high school, though business stuff, planning for cons, promo and coughcoughFacebookahem all seem to cut in. Total homebody, so I write in my office on my big antique library table. I plot by synopsis, draft doing constant revisions, and then do one more full pass before I turn it in. After that it's up to my editors, who are much smarter than me about my own stories.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I used to be a professional artist with some success. I have a chronic injury that destroyed my fine motor skills.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

Watching the Broncos and my favorite, Von Miller, play football. I've been watching with the same group of friends for several years and we have a lot of fun. ORANGE CRUSH!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Andre Gonzalez

Website: http://andregonzalez.net/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AndreGonzalezAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Monito0408
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/monito0408/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/monito0408/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14644829.Andre_Gonzalez

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I write thriller, horror, and a splash of sci-fi. I have been writing since I was 12 after falling in love with Stephen King books. He is by far my inspiration in writing. Working a full time job with a wife and two little ones at home, finding time to write is difficult. I write by hand with my Colorado-made fountain pen as I find it easier to take my book with me instead of carrying around a computer to type on. I can squeeze in some words during my lunch break and before bedtime after the wife and kids have gone to sleep for the night!! My goal in writing is to be able to do it full time, and right now I'm focused on one page at a time to get there! My first book, Followed Home, was released in October and I am enjoying the challenge of getting it in front of readers!

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I wouldn't necessarily call it a fun thing, but I am blessed to have survived the Aurora Movie Theater shooting in 2012. I use a lot of that fear and mix of emotions to drive my writing in what I hope makes it stronger for the readers.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

Outside of writing I enjoy many hobbies from baseball, golfing, poker, and of course, spending time with my family and traveling!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greg Henry

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greg.henry.142

1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

My most recent novels are Young Adult. I love writing across genres in YA: paranormal, fantasy, contemporary. I love creating stories. I’ve been studying writing craft for years, since I wrote my first novel in 1991. I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I’m an unpublished author of thirteen novels that seem to be rejection magnets, but I’m technically published anyhow. That means, an author threw my name on a horrific book that I didn’t write a single sentence in, with the hope that I might help sell it on social media. If only I had any followers, it might have actually been useful.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

Spending time with my family.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many thanks to Betsy, Andre, and Greg for volunteering for the Getting to Know You Project. If you'd like to participate in future GTKY posts, please email me at blog@rmfw.org

Should We Continue the Getting to Know You (GTKY) Posts?

I would love to continue the Getting to Know You (GTKY) blog posts if we get enough volunteers. Here's one example of a member who was featured in the September 30, 2016 GTKY post:

Janet Lane

Website: http://janetlane.net/
Blog: https://janetlane.wordpress.com/ and RMFW Blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetlaneauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/janetlaneauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15418008.Janet_Lane

2016_Janet Lane1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I write "History, made passionate in medieval England," aka historical romance and women's fiction. It's my passion because I firmly believe that "Amor vincit omnia" -- Love conquers all. I love exploring relationships and making the impossible, possible through my characters. My favorite reviews mention that my writing transports them to my story worlds and makes them care for my characters. I write from my home office at an elevation of 8,300 ft. in Morrison, frequently crashing my husband's home office (better view), and wherever my MacPro and I travel.

2. What is one fun thing few RMFW members know about you?

I directed my community's annual musical production for 22 years, and I ran away from home at 6, 12, and 14. Oh, and my husband, John, and I were married at the Renaissance Festival.

3. What is your most favorite non-writing activity, the one that gives you the greatest joy?

Must I choose one? I love to ski, spend time with my family and new grandson, and play tennis. And I love good treasure finds at estate sales and consignment stores.

 

We also have openings for guest bloggers throughout the year, so consider volunteering for one of those spots as well. Submission guidelines for guest bloggers can be found on the website.

Contact me at blog@rmfw.org and I'll email you the instructions for the GTKY posts.

You must be a Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers member to participate in these opportunities, but it doesn't matter if you're published or unpublished, a long-time member or brand new to the organization. We want you to have a chance to introduce yourself to the membership and get acquainted with other members.

What’s the Scoop on Colorado Gold 2017?

Every bit of information available so far about this year's Colorado Gold Conference can be found on the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website, conference page.

Conference dates: September 8-10, 2017
The location: Renaissance Hotel, Denver, Colorado

Want to submit a workshop proposal? Start here!

Want to know who the keynote speakers and visiting agents and editors will be or learn all about the conference fees? Hop back to the conference page.

You've probably already heard Diana Gabaldon has graciously accepted the invitation to attend as a keynote speaker. That's enough incentive right there to register as soon as registration opens on May 1st.

There's a Conference Facebook page where you'll find timely announcements and connect with other potential conference-goers.

More information coming soon. Don't forget about those workshop proposals...you can submit between now and March 31st.

 

The RMFW Spotlight is on LS Hawker

Our monthly feature, The RMFW Spotlight, is intended to provide members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers with more information about our board members as well as featured volunteers. This month we’re pleased to present LS Hawker.

2016_ls-hawker1. Hi Lisa! Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I'm the new PAL Coordinator. RMFW has been instrumental in my success as an author and I want to help other writers realize the same success.

2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

My newest suspense novel END OF THE ROAD comes out January 31 from HarperCollins Witness Impulse. You can buy it at any online retailer.

3. We've all heard of bucket lists -- you know, those life-wish lists of experiences, dreams or goals we want to accomplish -- what's one of yours?

One that I'm going to realize next summer is to witness a total solar eclipse. Ever since I read Annie Dillard's description in Teaching a Stone to Talk, it's been an obsession.

4. Most writers have an Achilles heel with their writing. Confess, what's yours?

As with most areas of my life, I'm a binge writer. I don't write every day. But I'll write up to sixteen hours at a stretch when I'm on deadline. I wish it could be different, but I've come accept that it's part of my process.

5. What do you love most about the writing life?

I love traveling, speaking, reading, dreaming — but most of all, I love that I get to write for a living.

6. Now that you have a little writing experience, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning writer?

Don't rely on your "talent." Work your ass off learning your craft. Don't wait until you're in your forties, for the love of God.

2016_desk-ls-hawker7. What does your desk look like?

It's an electric adjustable desk so I can sit or stand, with two large monitors. What item must be on your desk? Coffee or bourbon, depending on the time of day, and a quote from Calvin Coolidge about persistence. Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it? A pair of wax lips, a rhinestone tiara, and Story Cubes.

8. What book are you currently reading (or what was the last one you read)?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Thanks Lisa!

You can learn more about LS Hawker at her website, blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.

An Imaginary Conversation by Liesa Malik

September 1843 – London, England

Hannah Brown knocked gently on her mistress’ parlor door as she opened it and peeped around, a slight smile hovering on her lips.

“He’s here, Miss Angela.” Hannah had been Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts’ governess, then paid companion for many years, and shared a sense of fun and generosity with her mistress. This afternoon would be a real treat with this special friend come a calling.

England’s richest woman, a mere slip of a girl in her mid-twenties, looked up from her knitting and returned Hannah’s smile. “Why, you must show him in then, Hannah. Oh! Do I look all right?” The young woman smoothed her dress and dark hair almost unconsciously. Hannah nodded her approval and went to fetch their visitor.

“Miss Angela, you look charming as always,” said her young gentleman caller. He bowed over her hand and twinkled into her face. “The autumn air suits you.”

“Nonsense, Charles. You flatter. But do sit, for I adore flatterers. Especially those who bring gossip and good news.” Angela winked, and patted the couch near her. Charles took his seat. Hannah went to fetch tea. “Now, how is our dear Catherine?”

“You mean Kate, my wife? She is well and sends her regards. She’s taking our Charlie for a walk and to the London zoo today, so you and I have our time to talk.”

“Ah. So all is well. Now, Charles, have you completed the quest I set you upon when we last met?”

“So quick to the point, as always, my dear. No on-dit from the court? No noise or famous turn-aways at Almack’s? Well then, I will be as pointed as you, and we shall not draw swords over the matter.”

Angela nodded. “Do proceed, Charles. I must know whether to invest my pounds in my scheme, and you are the only one who can help me decide. Are things as I heard they are in Saffron Hill? Is there hope, or is all lost?” She leaned in and let her perfume settle in the air between them.

“All I can say, my dear madam, is that I am very glad you chose to send me as your ambassador to our most deplorable slum, rather than approaching on your own.” He shook his head and gave a theatrical shudder. “I simply cannot imagine subjecting you to that squalor.”

Angela wrapped Charles on the wrist with her fan. “Oh please, Charles, you behave as if I were one of the China dolls on my shelf, and not your friend in all schemes, up to the pluck for anything. Besides, you tricked me into not going with you. So now you must pay the price by spending the afternoon with me and telling me all you saw. Every bit. Out with it now.”

Charles sighed, shook his head, and stood. “If you insist, dear madam and great friend.

“I went to Saffron Hill, just as you suggested. There I found the streets as narrow as two twigs bound together, and the air thick with soot, and smells worse than any I could describe. There was indeed, in this most obscure and squalid part of the Metropolis, a building open at night for the gratuitous instruction of all comers, children and adults, the Field Lane Ragged School. Oh, Angela, how you would have wept to see it. My recollections as a youth working in a blacking factory pale by comparison.”

Hannah brought in the tea, and the three companions continued their chat.

“Within the walls of the Ragged School, even the rats found it hard to make room for themselves. One could not distinguish between the downtrodden and the criminals, for everyone is treated with the same lack of care and concern. The girls can sit for a while in their room, pretending to absorb what the volunteer teachers have to share, but the boys are as wild as any creature known to man or God. They cannot be trusted with books or civilized supplies.”

“Is there no hope then, Charles? Would it be a useless venture to try to support this school, this area?”

“I think, truth be told, that there is hope. I saw a lad of no more than five or six there. Tiny creature with large eyes and a gentle air. He’s been working since he was three. Chimney sweep, I think. Rickets have him in their grasp. Poor boy’s bones are as fragile and bendable as a willow branch, but he spoke to me of all good things. For him alone, it would be worth your time and money to invest in projects to help the poor of Saffron Hill.

Tears sprang to Angela’s eyes. “Did you bring him out, Charles? Did you help him escape?”

“No, Angela. For every little Timmy is like him. Poor chaps. How could I take one and not them all? Miss Hannah would have her hands full if I brought the wild boys all here.” The ladies smiled at Charles’ absurdity.

“There must be something we can do.” Angela wrung her hangs in desperation.

“I will write and post a report of what I saw,” replied Charles. “Surely, I can persuade the good people of London to care for our poor, and not accuse them. I think The Daily News could use this story."

"Perhaps, Charles. But I think there is a better way for you to reach Londoners. Do you think, my dear friend, you might write a story about the plight of Saffron Hill, in one of your fictions? I have heard that even our new queen, Victoria, reads your stories until midnight.”

“Bah,” said Charles. “That’s a humbug. But for you Angela, I will try. For you and for Tim, and for all who want to see England address the needs of the poor with something better than jails, workhouses, and ragged schools. England must see that we cannot leave a legacy of Want and Ignorance if our great empire is to survive. Yes. I think I shall.”

Good to his word, Charles Dickens began writing A Christmas Carol that month and had completed the story in six weeks. It was first published December 19, 1843.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good write.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Mari Christie

Our monthly feature, The RMFW Spotlight, is intended to provide members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers with more information about our board members as well as featured volunteers. This month we're pleased to present Mari Christie.

2015_Mariana Gabrielle1. Mari, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I’ve just started as PR Chair, which means I get the word out about RMFW news and events. (Currently looking for social media volunteers…)

2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

Right now, my books on sale are historical romance, The Sailing Home Series and a standalone, La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess. I’m also co-writing a serialized Victorian romance posted weekly on Wattpad, Never Kiss a Toad. I am, however, presently moving into mainstream historical, currently working on a Civil War story, Blind Tribute, to come out next year.

3. We've all heard of bucket lists -- you know, those life-wish lists of experiences, dreams or goals we want to accomplish-- what's one of yours?

I don’t believe in bucket lists. I try to live in such a way as to avoid regrets at the end of my life. That said, if fantasies count, I would not mind at all if Anson Mount played the lead role in the Paramount Pictures version of Blind Tribute.

4. Most writers have an Achilles heel with their writing. Confess, what's yours?

Setting and description. That is always second draft work. Pacing is a hard slog, too, but better than it used to be.

5. What do you love most about the writing life?

The writing.

6. Now that you have a little writing experience, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning writer?

Start sooner. Don’t be afraid of failing.

7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

My desk is a serious mess. The only things that must be on it are my cats, India and Burton (they told me to write that, but it isn’t really true), and my computer. One thing I’ve had at eye level for years is a brass ingot of a meditating lion.

8. What book are you currently reading (or what was the last one you read)?

I’m currently reading A Bohemian Brigade: The Civil War Correspondents.

Thank you, Mari. We wish you well in your new position with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.