Lessons Learned: Words Hurt Your Career

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

In case you hadn’t heard, and really how could you not have since I’ve begged everyone to The Fairyland Murders_ebook (1)notice, that I have a new novel coming out…well…yesterday. The Fairyland Murders hit the streets and all of the publishing world is abuzz. Reviews are coming in. Newspapers are asking for interviews. Readers are smiling in anticipation of spending the entire night reading.

In my fantasy world.

In the real world, it’s more like a slight blip on anyone’s radar. The publishing world is hardly abuzz with my name, let alone excited by anything but the promise of two weeks off at the end of the month. Newspapers can’t ask for interviews because they don’t exist anymore.

But I hold out hope for those readers, the ones who wait months for a release. I’m that kind of gal. I pre-order than mark it on my calendar so I know when it will pop up (at 1am) on my kindle.

But this isn’t going to be a rant on how no one loves me.

Today’s post was going to be on what I’ve learned since 2012 when CURSES! first came out. Trust me, it’s a lot. But something else came on to my radar that I think might be more important to talk about.

What is appropriate for us writers to say and NOT to say on social media.

In case you haven’t read recently about a certain writer’s twitter blowup when her book didn’t make the 2014 most notable list. Now a couple of things came to mind when I read her response. The first was, though I hate to admit it, yeah, well mine didn’t either so what makes you so special? Then I started to think of all the writers behaving badly things we’re seen over the last five years. And how many writers refuse to get personal on social media and all the articles that say we shouldn’t discuss anything on social media we wouldn’t discuss over a nice dinner.

I suggest if you agree with that advice, when I invite you over for (pre-made) dinner, you say no. Yes, I see why people offer this advice, and why many writers think social media is akin to standing outside in your underwear flagging passing by cars over while singing tunes from The Sound of Music. Again, I get it. TMI is all around, especially at the dinner table when sat at the adult table and Aunt Mary discusses her latest colonoscopy results…in vivid, mind shearing detail.

However, social media proves that individuals have power. That, whether their individual voice is heard or not, documenting the world matters. In good and bad ways. If you’re not on social media or if you are and are afraid to post personal stuff, please don’t be. Yes, no one wants to hear about your colon I detail, but knowing a little about you and your personality is a good thing…until you go off the deep end, and then we can point and laugh. After all, life is about jeering your peers.

What social media lessons have you learned? How do you feel about writers behaving badly on social media? What is our responsibility to our readers?

Writing a reader-friendly historical romance

by Janet Lane

For thou with me while iuel shall I not dread…

???????????????????????????????My first inspiration to write fiction involved a thought that flashed through my mind when entering rather boring sales data into date fields. I inadvertently entered something like 1798 instead of 1998, and a “What if?” idea flashed above my head, just like in the commercials. What if my protagonist entered an ancient date and was somehow transported to that time?

That initial spark grew into a time travel romance, which has yet to see the light of day, but the vision revealed my passion for the past. I told my husband, John, that I was writing a novel. I visited Denver Public Library and hauled home a dozen monster books on England, covering the twelfth through the eighteenth centuries, and dragged them to bed with me for late-night research.

“I thought you were going to write a book,” John said. “You’ve been reading these books for a month.”

And so my research began. I eventually settled in the fifteenth century, in Somerset. To this day it feels to me as if I indeed traveled to the past.

Writing about it, though, was a different story. I studied dialogue in historical fiction novels, learning antiquated sentence structure and vocabulary, and laboriously inserted it into my story. I was bombarded by helpful contest judges with comments like, “Your dialogue is so stilted.” “Your scenes sound formal, unnatural.” And, “Don’t be afraid to use contractions!”

My research was helpful for scene-setting, describing dinners and clothing, but dialogue continued to mystify. Writing in the 1400s, was I limited to the vocabulary of the time? Fearful of being called a research flunkie, I hauled entire chapters to the library (little was available on the Internet then), painstakingly researching the history of each suspect word.

Chaucer was not much help: “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heath.” (During a plotting session, I asked Jasmine Cresswell for help. She amazed me by speaking flawless Middle English. It was exquisitely beautiful, but more suited for academic tomes than historical romances.)

Four historical romance novels later, I’ve reached a comfort level with my dialogue. Here’s what I have found useful for my fifteenth century characters.

  1. I write my first draft dialogue as it naturally leaves my pen or keyboard. I refine it later in revisions.
  2. I take more freedoms with narrative than dialogue. For example, if I find a word that came into use in the sixteenth century, I have no problem with using it in narrative. I hesitate to use such words in dialogue, however, and research further for similar words specific to my century. If I can’t find a suitable substitute, however, I am not a slave to etymology. My genre is historical fiction.
  3. I purge all obvious slang and anachronistic words or expressions that will wrench my reader from the historical world I’ve so carefully created. I purge them from both narrative and dialogue.
  4. I get help. Fresh, more experienced eyes can catch seemingly small errors that may disappoint and upset an avid reader who knows better. For example, fellow RMFW member and accomplished historical writer Denee Cody pointed out that I used a screw-top lid when a scrivener inked his pen to begin recording a legal document. Forewarned, I had the scrivener remove the stopper. (I also avoided referring to a cork.)

Contractions and more familiar sentence structure make the writing more graceful and easy to read–provided it isn’t peppered with anachronistic words or phrases such as my protagonist “rocking” his latest set of armor or having a “meltdown” moment.

Lane_TraitorCover11_14_14And there are appropriate times to inject a feeling for the past, when my characters appropriately say, “Good morrow,” “Nay,” or “Godspeed.”

To evoke the past, I added historical dialogue in my latest release, Traitor’s Moon, but I made it brief and added a succinct background for the reader. Queen Margaret is recruiting young boys to accompany the king to the Battle of Blore Heath (King Henry VI was devout and ill, and even in times of war, Margaret brought young boys to the battles to entertain him by singing hymns.)

Here’s that dialogue.
Enchanted, James clapped his hands and began singing, “Gabriel fram heven-King, sent to the Maide sweete, Broute hir blisful tiding, And fair he gan hir greet…” He sang the carol with a clear and perfect pitch, a song of the angel coming to Mary with news of the conception and salvation of mankind.

That’s my personal history on the struggle with historical dialogue. Have you had a similar struggle in your genre? If so, how did you solve it?

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

Lane_Coin Forest 1 2 3 copyJanet Lane is an Amazon Bestselling Author. The latest book in her Coin Forest series, Traitor’s Moon, released recently on Amazon as a Kindle. Her awards include Best Novel of 2006 Award–Preditors and Editors; Best Seller List–Rocky Mountain News, and Best Romance Novel—RMFW Colorado Gold contest. Her social media sites include her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

A Book List for Holiday Shopping — Part Two

The members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers are both traditionally and indie-published in almost any genre you can imagine. Yesterday I posted a few books available for purchase along with a buy link so you can learn more about the novels (and click that “Buy” button, of course). That was just a drop in the bucket for an organization like RMFW. Here’s another list for you, and if I receive more book info from members over the next week, I’ll do this again next weekend.

crossingcolfax150Crossing Colfax: Short Stories by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
RMFW published
Paperback; ebook

“Playboy Magazine once called Colfax Avenue ‘the longest, wickedest street in America.’ A hundred years ago, it was the main road into and out of Denver, Colorado. East Colfax was the address to have for many of the city’s elite, and West Colfax was a trail that led to the mountains and dreams of Gold Rush riches.”

~~~~~~~~~~

TitledTexansBoxedSetTitled Texans Trilogy: To Love a Lady, Educating Abbie, The Runaway
by Cynthia Sterling
Re-issued by Cynthia Sterling
Available as an ebook boxed set, or as individual ebook titles.

“The three sons of an Earl travel to America to run a Texas cattle ranch and get more than they bargain for from the three women who pursue them.”

~~~~~~~~~~

McGuire_Sticks and StonesSticks and Stones
by Shawn McGuire
Brown Bag Books
Available as a paperback and ebook

“When sixteen-year-old Mandy Matteo makes a wish that accidentally brings her childhood imaginary friend to life, she thinks her desire to simply be happy has finally come true. But the friend has a plan of her own that doesn’t include Mandy, and Desiree, the genie, is a hippie with an attitude problem which puts a whole new twist ‘be careful what you wish for.'”

~~~~~~~~~~

Break My BonesBreak My Bones
by Shawn McGuire
Brown Bag Books
available as a paperback and ebook

“When seventeen-year-old Crissy Sheets learns that her wish for a better future has been granted, she’s cautiously hopeful that she’ll be able to leave her messed-up past behind. Getting this wish to come true is anything but simple as Crissy’s controlling boyfriend doesn’t like her newfound confidence, and Desiree, the hippie-genie, can’t stop herself from getting in the middle of things.”

~~~~~~~~~~

MontgomeryYvonneWisdomCourtSeriesBook1EdgeOfTheShadowCOVEREdge of the Shadow (The Wisdom Court Series, Book One)
by Yvonne Montgomery
ePublishing Works
ebook, trade paperback

“Forensic artist Andrea Bellamy comes to famed institute Wisdom Court to pursue her dream of becoming a painter. As she begins trance-painting a man she’s never seen, her dream turns to a nightmare caused by the evil that has haunted the Boulder landmark for over a century.”

~~~~~~~~~~

MontgomeryA Signal Shown (The Wisdom Court Series, Book Two)
by Yvonne Montgomery
ePublishing Works
ebook, trade paperback

“Filmmaker Brenna Payne’s joy at her invitation to Wisdom Court is clouded by grief following the death of her beloved grandmother. When she arrives at the Boulder institute, she finds the place in a supernatural tailspin, and each night her terrifying dreams threaten to consume her.”

~~~~~~~~~~

?????????????????????????????????????????????Murder with Altitude
by Sue Star
D.M. Kreg Publishing
Trade paperback and ebook

“Nell Letterly, martial artist and menopausal mom of a teenager, finds the body of her student’s girlfriend while on a training run in Boulder CO. She has to prove her student didn’t do it, before one powerful, established family with attitudinal issues ruins her life–or worse.”

~~~~~~~~~~

GalacticThe Galactic Circle Veterinary Service
by Stephen A. Benjamin
TWB Press, Lakewood, CO
Trade paperback and e-book

“His family threatened by his world’s tyrannical theocracy, a young veterinarian is forced to run an interstellar veterinary service as cover for a sadistic government spy seeking intelligence in advance of a galactic invasion. Treating werewolves for mange only scratches the surface of his adventures as he makes allies of the alien life-forms he meets to help him free his parents and his world from oppression.”

~~~~~~~~~~

WillieImmortal Duplicity
by Daniel A. Willis
Bygone Era Books, Ltd.
Paperback and ebook

Edward first encounters his long-lost twin on the prairie of 1864 Eastern Colorado. After Bart delights in the Sand Creek Massacre, Edward chases him through the decades and lands in the middle of his brother’s insidious plot, nestled away in Nazi Germany.

~~~~~~~~~~

Tales of Firelight and Shadow coverTales in Firelight and Shadow
Edited by Alexis Brooks de Vita
Double Dragon
ebook (print version available through Lulu)

Tales in Firelight and Shadow is a collection of short stories by well-known and fresh new writers of fantasy, speculative and science fiction, retelling folktales from many lands and cultures.

~~~~~~~~~~

DeadWrongFront-264x408Dead Wrong
by Patricia Stoltey
Five Star/Cengage
Hardcover and ebook

“Lynnette Foster is a woman on the run, but she’s dead wrong about who’s chasing her.”

~~~~~~~~~~

If you’re a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, but didn’t see your book in Part One or Two this weekend, I’ll be happy to publish Parts Three and Four next weekend.  You’ll need to contact me at blog@rmfw.org with your book title, author name, publisher, formats available, two-sentence synopsis, and buy link.

A Book List for Holiday Shopping — Part One

RMFW member Bree Ervin suggested we publish lists of books available from RMFW members to help everyone with holiday shopping. Is there anything better to give as a gift than a book? Well, for obvious reasons, we think books should top your list.

I started by putting out a call to RMFW members to submit a teeny-mini-synopsis, cover art, and purchase information. Here’s the first installment. Note that books are listed in the order I received the author’s information.

Forkner_Waking Up JoyWaking Up Joy
by Tina Ann Forkner
Tule Publishing
Available in paperback and ebook

“Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…when adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final CoverRisky Brides
by Bayard & Holmes, Vicki Hinze, Kathy Carmichael, Donna Fletcher, Rita Herron
Magnolia Press
Available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook

“Find your next must-read author in this limited-time-only collection from USA Today Bestsellers Vicki Hinze, Rita Herron, Donna Fletcher, Peggy Webb, Kathy Carmichael, veteran authors Kimberly Llewellyn and Tara Randel, and dynamic newcomers Bayard & Holmes. 8 novels and novellas, 8 genres, and 8 unique takes on what it means to be a risky bride for only $0.99.”

~~~~~~~~~

Tides of Maritinia
by Warren Hammond
Harper Voyager Impulse
ebook release 12/2/14, mass maker paperback 1/20/15

“Tides tells the story of an assassin on a mission to overthrow the despotic regime of a far-flung world. Working undercover, he’ll soon find himself trapped in a web of conflicting loyalties that will leave him wondering who his true enemies are.”

~~~~~~~~~~

CallDownTheMoon_w9128_100Call Down the Moon
by Mary Gillgannon
The Wild Rose Press
Currently available in print; ebook releases 12/29/14

“In the ninth century, Irish warrior Connar fell hopelessly in love with Aisling. When she came to a tragic end, he used magic to travel to the future to be reunited with her. In modern Denver, he must fight a treacherous enemy from the past and win the heart of his beloved, now Allison Hunter, all over again.”

~~~~~~~~~~

viewfromhereThe View From Here
Cindy Myers
Kensington Books
Available in trade paper, ebook and audiobook

“When newly divorced Maggie Stevens inherits a gold mine from the father she never knew, she travels to the small Rocky Mountain town of Eureka, Colorado and learns that it takes a village to heal a broken heart. Book one in the Eureka, Colorado series. Winner of the Colorado Book Award, 2013.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Trapline Cover with Kirkus QuoteTrapline
by Mark Stevens
Midnight Ink
Paperback

“A badly chewed-up corpse high in the Flat Tops Wilderness leaves Colorado hunting guide Allison Coil mystified and wary. Obvious signs suggest the dead man is the victim of a mountain lion attack but Allison’s wilderness-savvy bones scream otherwise.”

~~~~~~~~~~

book-brokentrustBroken Trust
by Shannon Baker
Midnight Ink
Trade paperback and ebook

“A fast-paced mix of Hopi Indians, wierd science, and murder, set in Boulder, Colorado.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Nowak_ChangesChanges (Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Genre Fiction and the HOLT Award of Merit)
by Pamela Nowak
Five Star/Gale
Hardcover and ebook

“What begins as a quest for justice becomes a search for identity as part-Sioux librarian Lise Dupree encounters ambitious district attorney Zach Spencer in an 1879 legal battle that will force them both to change the roles they have created for themselves. Their struggle leads them to confront Lise’s haunting past, Zach’s political aspirations, the dangerous prejudice of an unstable Indian agent, and the subtle differences between justice and the law.”

~~~~~~~~~~

The Fairyland Murders_ebook (1)The Fairyland Murders
by J.A. Kazimer
Kensington Books
ebook and trade

“Blue Reynolds knows the darker side of New Never City–the side that’s hopped-up on fairy dust and doesn’t care if your house gets blown down. Rent’s due and his PI business is all but make believe, but even Blue shudders at having to chase after the tooth fairy, Isabella Davis, a freckle-nosed redhead five feet tall on her tip-toes…if you don’t count the pretty pink wings.”

~~~~~~~~~~

DuvallDemon Fare
by Cory Dale
Karen Duvall
Paperback and ebook

In an alternate history New York City, steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. A half-demon taxi driver and an exorcist become partners to stop the rogue demons, and a tyrant who controls them, from taking over the city.

~~~~~~~~~~

Burn OutBurn Out
by Kristi Helvig
Egmont USA
Hardcover

“Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora years to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.”

Another Reason To Write

By Mary Gillgannon

In recent months I have read about several studies showing that people who use their brains in their jobs and in their pastimes age better and retain more mental acuity. Many of articles quote the old cliché “use it or lose it”. Certainly dementia, Alzheimer’s and declining mental capacity are serious concerns as we get older. A lot of our risk factors we can’t do anything about, like genetic predispositions and our previous exposure to toxins in the environment (which I personally believe is a causative factor in the high levels of dementia these days). But there are lifestyle changes we can make to slow down the process, and one of these is keeping active mentally and challenging our brains with new tasks and experiences.

I figure as writers, we’re way ahead of the game on that. Writing itself is a complex mental process and the demands of the current market often push us to explore new genres and techniques. We’re always learning and trying new ways of doing things. If we don’t, we’ll be left behind and see our writing careers stagnate.

That was really brought home to me in the last few weeks. I’m having my website redesigned, and my web designer is pushing me to have a newsletter and oh, am I on Pinterest yet? I figure I was doing good to get my blog going again! I opt out of a lot of the new marketing techniques, figuring I don’t have enough time to do everything. But I am gradually adding things as well. I figure I have to, or there is no way I can keep up. And everything I add means learning new systems and techniques to utilize those systems.

And there is the writing process itself. I’m working on my second reincarnation/time travel story, which is mostly set in the present, and once again I’m finding it very different than writing historical novels. There is research. But not the kind you can find in books, like I did in the old days, or even on the internet. To make my twenty-something heroine realistic, I have to figure out how she would talk, what slang she would use, and how she views the world. It helps that I have a daughter that age. But it helps even more that I work with the public in my job and get to observe people of all ages and backgrounds. And that I travel and spend significant time in airports, hotels and other public places.

Still, it’s a difficult kind of research for someone like me, who tends to get caught up in my current task or be occupied with my own thoughts. I have to learn to pay attention to people in my environment. To immerse myself in the modern world. It’s not something I would probably do if I was a normal person and didn’t write books. For that matter, I suspect I probably wouldn’t even be writing a book that demands this kind of research if the writing market hadn’t become so difficult. I would probably still be writing historical novels and not branching out with contemporary ones.

A part of me longs for the old days, when writers got to hide away in their offices or writing nooks and write the books that came to them easily. When they didn’t have to learn more and more technology and keep up with everything new. When they didn’t necessarily have to grow and change and stretch and take risks to have any hope of keeping their career going. But it’s probably a lot better for me this way. I’ll not only (hopefully) keep selling books, but I’ll age better, too. All of us writers will.

I HATE MY BOOK!

By Kevin Paul Tracy

As you grow up you become more aware of a developing ability to hold multiple emotions at a time on any given subject, sometimes quite contradictory. For example, anyone who is married can attest to how it is possible to both loathe and love that same person at the same time. I’m a big James Carville fan even though I detest almost everything he stands for. I think Tom Cruise is a giant flake, but I’ll go see any movie he’s in because he’s a very engaging actor.

So when I say, “I hate my book!” other writers understand this is a transient state – I don’t in fact hate my book, but during the rewrite and editing process, I do! I loved it when I was writing it, and even during the first read-through and edit, I’m thinking, “Damn, this is pert’near genius!” But after the fourth and fifth read-through and edit, you wish you weren’t the author if only so you could take the author by the throat and throttle him for putting out such drek!

Cap'n Crunch Cereal

It happens the same way with Cap’n Crunch cereal, to which I am, sadly, addicted. So I buy the big economy-sized box. Then, next Saturday morning I get up excited, pull up the last episode of Person of Interest on the DVR, pour myself a giant bowl of Crunch Berries, and sit down to a meal fit for a king.

Sidebar: Does anyone remember Cap’n Crunch’s arch-nemesis, the pirate Cap’n LaFoote? He had a cereal of his own as well, a cinnamon something or other. No? Not surprising, it wasn’t very good.

About two-thirds into my precious bowl of cereal the orange pieces are getting soggy and the berries are sticking to my teeth and I’m wishing I hadn’t poured myself such a big bowl. I’m sick of Cap’n Crunch with Crunch Berries and don’t care if I never see another bowl again. And yet, three or four weeks later, there I am, buying another box and getting all excited for the next Saturday morning!

You don’t, in fact, hate your book as you enter the fifth read-through. You’re just burned out on it. Compounded by the fact that with each read-through you keep finding more that needs fixing, and it’s getting a little redundant and monotonous, especially if many edits are the same mistake repeated over and over again. You’re frustrated and you’re a little down on your own skill as a writer.

Well, let me clue you in on something I recently learned myself. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break. I know, you want to get it done and over with and off to the printers. But when you’re burned out like this, you make mistakes and miss things, which is why it seems like you keep finding the same errors over and again. Taking a break gives you a chance to recharge the batteries. Catch up on your own reading, attend a few critique group meetings, remind yourself what it was that inspired you to write to begin with.

Most critical, though, however long your break, get back to it. You’ll find yourself much less stressed and frustrated, you’ll find yourself making much fewer errors, and you might even fall in love with your book all over again!


Check out Kevin’s latest releases, the wonderfully entertaining espionage thriller, “Rogue Agenda,” a startling and engrossing gothic thriller “Bloodflow,” and don’t miss Bloodtrail, the upcoming sequel to Bloodflow.

Follow Kevin at:
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Running a Kickstarter – Is it for everyone?

By Guest Contributor Mason J. Torall

The Internet, in all the craziness that it’s added to our world today, has done some amazing things. Chief among them is definitely the power to network with damn near anyone around the globe. The whole world has been opened to us in the past two decades, and I hope that the positive impacts of that continue to grow.

In being a budding writer (I hesitate to call myself ‘professional’ yet), I’ve found that the crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, is a special opportunity. Kickstarter is a website where you may host a project, ask for donations, and offer rewards in exchange for pledges in order to make your project happen. In a way, it’s like a PBS telethon for the digital age but a bit more… you.
Now, speaking to my personal experience on the site, I can’t say definitively how I’ll feel, since my own project is still live, but as to my experience thus far?

That I can go into, both as a backer and as a creator.

As a backer, Kickstarter is a piece of cake. The site itself is friendly, well designed, and easy to navigate. If you know what project you’re looking for, that’s awesome, but I will say it’s a pain in the ass to try and find “that project I heard about for that thing”, unless it’s featured at the top of the searches. There are over 700 projects live in the Publishing section ALONE, so it’s obvious to say that if the project you want isn’t making waves, you better start digging.

On the flipside, as a creator, you should know that putting a project on Kickstarter—or any crowdfunding site—is serious business. Don’t take it lightly, especially if its something that means something to you, which it should. I made the mistake of announcing my Kickstarter WAY too early, and I may have suffered for it, I’m not sure yet. But what I can say is that I wish I’d held my tongue longer.

In order to launch a project on Kickstarter you have to consider EVERYTHING. You need to know what you’re offering, how you want to make it, who you want to make it through, etc. And then you have to answer all of these damn questions: Who are you working with? What rewards should you offer? How much should you ask for? What rewards should go for what money? How much will it cost to fulfill rewards and retain positive funds to actually make the project?

And that’s only the tip. Turns out, you also need to open an Amazon Payments account, which requires you to have a business entity in order to handle funds, which took me well over two months because I had no idea what I was doing. Also, if you have questions, be ready to wait. The Kickstarter staff are understandably busy, but they are also slow. The FAQ page on the site will answer 95% of your questions, but of course it’s that last one that’ll get ya. When I had a query, it took over two weeks to get a response. Granted, they were nice and informative when I heard back, it just took awhile.

Additionally, you can’t see a lot of useful stuff beyond the project itself until you actually go live, but when you do, the creator page has everything you need: names of backers, lists of pledges, on-the-fly editing to the campaign, a directory of activity, updates you’ve put out, surveys you can submit to backers regarding rewards or their preferences and/or upgrades, and statistics about where your pledges are coming from, for how much, which rewards, and other useful breakdowns.

In short, there’s a lot there. Kickstarter is a lot of work. Hell, mine took me nearly a year to get up, and I know I still probably should have waited to grow an audience of willing backers. Don’t let that overwhelm you though. I always say there’s no substitute for hard work, and I know that whatever happens with my project, I’ve put my best into it.

Ultimately though, I can say with confidence that running a Kickstarter has been a worthy experience. Getting support feels great, no matter how small, and you’d be surprised who comes out of the woodwork to support you. It’s interesting to see. Not to mention the fact that if you do get funded, you’ve proven that your idea has monetary merit, and no matter who you are or what you want to create, that’s an encouraging thought.

Finally, I’d be an idiot if I didn’t plug my own Kickstarter, so if you’re interested, check out my live project for my debut novel, The Dark Element, right here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/689142360/the-dark-element-a-debut-novel

As of this writing, I’m nearly halfway to my goal and 9 days into the campaign, so we’re doing well. Please check me out, email me with questions if you like, and support a budding author! The project will be live until December 17, and you can donate as little as $5 to get your name printed in the book!

On Productivity

By Mark Stevens

I did the math so you don’t have to.

25 + 38 + 18 + 52 = 133.

???????????????????????????????Left to right—Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, Sara Paretsky, J.A. Jance.

They are on the panel, dubbed “A Conversation Among Authors.”

It should be called “A Conversation Among Crank Monsters.”

I mean, holy cow that’s a lot of books represented up there and the 133 doesn’t include short stories, non-fiction and other books and anthologies the four have helped edit.

I’m at Bouchercon in Long Beach at the Convention Center. It’s 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon (Nov. 14) and the huge room is filling up well before the start time. The room buzzes with a rock concert vibe. Bouchercon has a special energy (this was my first) in part because the whole place is teeming with both writers and readers.

???????????????????????????????So at the panel, the fan fest flavor is in full effect. The room takes a few minutes to settle down. People are standing to take pictures as this quartet of mystery masters take their seats on the panel and start taking questions from moderator Clare Toohey.

As a writer in the crowd, I wonder:

Is it all about volume?

I know the answer:

Of course not.

The quality has to be there, too. Right?

In order to ride up escalator into the echelon of dependable writers with large audiences and sizable contracts, the quality has to be there also.

Right?

I’m going to come out and say that none of these four are exactly my cup of mystery or suspense prose. I tend to like my stories darker than Grafton and Jance produce (from what I know, at least) and Harris (most famous for all the paranormal themes that ended up in the True Blood television series.). I have read—and liked—a few of the Paretsky novels featuring V.I. Warshawski.

But even the least productive of these four has written 18 novels! That’s a mountain of words and writing experience. They are certainly testament to the number one tip you here for up-and-coming writers: keep writing.

More writing is more practice. Practice makes you better. Etc.

If Grafton pulled up stakes after A is for Alibi was first published in 1982, would she be here?

I think we know the answer.

J.A. Jance? What a career. Prolific and clearly imaginative—she juggles a multitude of series and even a quick glance through her works and you think, what would it take to keep up that kind of sheer productivity and storytelling energy for the course of 52 books?

Jance didn’t even get published until she was 41, if my math is accurate. She was born in 1944 and didn’t get published until 1985, according to Wikipedia.

So maybe it’s quality and productivity. Readers (the audience) clearly enjoy having a whole shelf full of books to explore once they latch onto a writer.

So as the hour-long panel drew to a close, the moderator gave audience members a chance to pose a few questions. One asked: “what would you do differently?”

Well, what would you do differently if you were a rock star mystery writer who could sign books all day and still not sign enough to keep the fans happy?

I loved the answer given by Charlaine Harris: “Take more risks.”

Yeah, that’s it. Keep writing and take more risks.

As good a recipe as any I can conjure up.

Kudos to the four writers for long and healthy writing careers: even if it’s not your precise shade of darkness, an inspiration for sure.

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

Mark StevensMark Stevens is the monthly programs coordinator for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the author of the Western hunting guide Allison Coil mysteries Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan.

Book three in the series, Trapline, was published by Midnight Ink in November 2014

Let’s Change It Up, Baby!

By Patricia Stoltey

Our RMFW Spotlight post for board members and volunteers is going on vacation in 2015. We have a neverending supply of incredible members who have served RMFW well over the years and continue to volunteer,  but when I see that enormous pool of potential interviewees, I realize there’s no fair way to pick and choose who deserves recognition now and who can be deferred until later.

Some of our members have been with the organization for dozens of years and helped build the RMFW we see today. They’ve passed on the volunteer work to newer members, and those newer folks are the ones who are visible, they’re the names we recognize.  In a future post, I hope to talk more about our pioneers and why we owe them a very special thank you.

Meanwhile, I’m going to steal this first Monday spot to write about other things, probably not cabbages and kings, but perhaps some observations about writing and the writing life, book promotion (or the lack thereof), new books on these topics, or just about anything else that might pop into my head.

We’re happy to take questions and blog topic suggestions, which you can ask through the Ask the Author link on the blog page. The link is in the right sidebar and it looks like this:

askanauthorTo begin, I have a little quiz for you. Did you know…..

1.  There’s a new release feature on the front page of the website that shows RMFW member books’ cover art and tiny synopsis? Yep, down there in the right sidebar.

2.  You can sign up to receive the blog posts by email? Check out the right sidebar on the blog page, not too far under the Ask an Author badge. Just fill in your email address and click subscribe so you never miss a post.

3.  Registration for the 2015 RMFW Retreat opened yesterday, November 30th? This year the retreat is scheduled for March 11-15 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. There’s so much to know about this incredible writing opportunity, I’ll merely direct you to the retreat page on the website to learn more. I can tell you, however, that I recently attended a writers’ retreat with Northern Colorado Writers at the same location, and from Thursday afternoon to Sunday mid-morning, I churned out over 18,000 words, and I still had time for good meals, wildlife watching (like the mule deer wandering outside my window, the wild turkeys, and the elk), and a bit of fun.

And now I invite you to help us all out with our holiday shopping by leaving your book information in a comment below. Please include a buy link to your favorite bookseller and let us know if the book is available in print or ebook. Don’t forget to add the Crossing Colfax Anthology to your list for a lucky reader. If you’re up in the Fort Collins area, some of the authors will be at the Barnes & Noble on Sunday December 7th from 1-3.

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