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 Greatest Blogpost Ever Posted

So this is going to be the last RMFW blog post that I’m doing for a bit. I told Patricia Stoltey and Julie Kazimer that I’m stepping down. I just can’t juggle it all.

So I promised Ms. Kazimer thatI would write the greatest blogpost ever. I thought about calling it “The Greatest Story Ever Told” but I think that might have been done already. Then I was going to call it “The Myth of Success” but that didn’t feel right, so then I was thinking “Go Into the Light, Carol Ann” but that would date me.

So whatever this last post is called, the point of it all is this: I am claiming success and I am making definite choices about what my goals are.

That’s been my problem for a decade now. I couldn’t make a choice when it came writing. I wanna write for the market. No, I wanna write the book of my heart. I want millions of fans and trillions of dollars and billions of groupies. Er, wait, trillions of fans, billions of groupies…no…anyway…

I am deciding that my main writing is goal is to only write books I’m proud of and publish them by any means necessary. And whatever happens, happens.

That’s what I’m choosing. But choosing is hard. Take me to a Vegas breakfast buffet with both donuts and waffles, and you’ll see me eat both. Dammit! But no, I’m learning, I have to choose.

I can’t work on five projects all at the same time. I can’t accept every opportunity to market my books. I am a limited resource. So I have to choose where my time goes. In 2017, I should have five more books on the market, three romances I wrote with Andrea K. Stein and two more books in The Juniper Wars Series. And that’s a lot right there. I can’t do more. I am being forced to choose.

And I’m choosing to drop some of my commitments to focus on finishing those projects.

And I’m choosing to think of myself as a successful writer.

It’s December, my friends, and darkness reigns. The days are short, the nights are long, but even before the Christós event of 0 A.D. (ish), human beings have celebrated the light in the middle of these long, cold days.

For my writing career, I thought the only light that counted, the only success, was a long day of blazing sunshine lighting up every corner of every continent. I thought that J.K. Rowling or James Patterson international success was the only light that mattered.

And so I counted myself as a failure.

But no more!

I have a flickering candle of a writing career, five flickering books lighting up my little corner of the world. I am truly proud of the five books I have published, and that is a success. And I’m celebrating that success.

And I think I’m finding the courage and contrariness needed to write a whole bunch more. I will light the world with candles, one uncertain flame at a time. I’m trying to go back to basics: to write what I love and to let go of expectations, and to do the work while enjoying the work.

And that is key…to do the work of writing while enjoying the work of writing.

Knowing that all the while, there are people who will not like my books, that will criticize how I use commas, or sniff at me because I am not traditionally published. Let ‘em. What other people think of me and my books is none of my business. That’s not my job.

My job is to write Aaron Michael Ritchey novels.

And so, I have to let go of a few things, but what a great achievement that is, that I’m busy enough that I have to choose what to work and and what to step way from.

But I am truly grateful to Patricia, Julie, and to everyone at RMFW. Without that mighty Colorado organization, my entire life would be different.

I’ll be back though, when I come up with something I just have to share with ya’ll.

Until then, come gather around. It’s dark, but we have light.

For that’s the great promise of Christmas, that there will always be light even if it’s just a single candle burning.

The Dos and Don’ts of Writing for Children … by Rachel Craft

When writers first venture into the realm of middle grade and young adult fiction, they often bring with them some bad habits and unhelpful misconceptions. Leave your baggage at the door, and follow these guidelines to start off on the right foot.

DO capture the MG/YA voice

Children don’t think the way adults do. They have a different worldview and different emotional responses to stimuli. Your MG or YA character’s voice will be unique to his personality, but the attitude, humor, and phrasing should sound true to his age. Always put yourself in your character’s shoes, and consider how you, your friends, or your children would have behaved at that age.

DON’T agonize over vocabulary

Writing for middle graders doesn’t limit you to three-syllable words. Children are curious and perceptive readers; if they don’t recognize a word, they’ll either figure it out from context or Google it. Don’t be afraid to challenge them a little. Similarly, don’t exhaust yourself trying to keep up with whatever slang is #trending at the moment. At best, slang is a poor excuse for voice—and at worst, it will date your book before it even hits the shelves.

DO write about what matters to your age group

Your story conflict and character arc should resonate with your readers. For instance, most MG stories have to do with coming of age because that’s what real middle graders are struggling with. YA stories, on the other hand, often deal with discovering oneself and one’s place in the world. Children and teens also tend to place more emphasis on how they fit into their social group and how others see them than adults. For instance, going dateless to prom may not seem like a big deal to you, but it might feel like the end of the world to a teenager. Make sure the things that matter to your character will also matter to your readers.

DON’T lower the stakes

Some writers worry that if they put their protagonist in too much peril, their young readers will be frightened. But middle graders don’t want their stories sugar-coated. Life-or-death scenarios—for the protagonist, a side character, or the entire world—are welcome, as long as you avoid graphic violence, sex, and profanity. YA readers want high stakes too, and they can handle more mature themes and intense situations. Almost nothing is off the table in YA, including sex, drugs, language, and abuse.

DO let the kids steal the show

There’s a reason many MG and YA characters are orphaned, away at summer camp, or shipped off to boarding school: it gets the adults out of the way. While adults can appear in your story as side characters, it’s important to make sure your young heroine is driving the plot and making the story-critical decisions. She should not spend most of the book watching adults make decisions or following adults’ instructions. In fact, it often works well to use adults as obstacles, getting in the child’s way by imposing curfew or chores.

DON’T teach them a lesson

Children don’t read because they want to be preached to by adults—they get enough of that at home. They can smell a moral from a mile away, and as soon as they do, they’ll close your book forever. So don’t write with a moral in mind. Most stories will have some kind of lesson in the end, but let it grow organically, and don’t be afraid to make it a little vague or oblique. Children are perceptive; they don’t need to be hit over the head with your message. Let them discover as they read, rather than spelling things out for them.

DO read widely in your genre

Reread the books that fascinated you when you were a child, and think about what made you love them. Also read plenty of current releases to see what today’s kids are reading. And if you can, spend time with children in your age group to learn how they think, speak, and interact. This will make you a better MG or YA writer, and your readers will notice.

Writing for children can be both fun and challenging. If you normally write for adults, switching gears to MG or YA can be a good exercise for your writing muscles—and you may find yourself a convert of a new genre. Happy writing!

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

Rachel writes speculative fiction for all ages. Her short fiction has appeared in Cricket magazine and the RMFW anthology Found, and she’s working on a middle grade novel. She lives in Boulder, where she works as an engineer and runs a local critique group.

Knowing What You Don’t Know (or Not Knowing What You Do Know)

Putting together the Western Slope workshops has allowed me to meet a lot of new writers. Just this last weekend we had two dozen writers attend, and nearly all of them were new faces. It’s amazing to know how many writers are around me when before I joined RMFW I thought I was the lone stranger in these parts.

I’ve been writing for almost 4 decades (I started in the womb, of course). My first manuscript was partially hand-written, partially typed, some “wheelwriter” (part typewriter/part computer), and eventually I had to type the whole thing into my first PC. It took me nearly 25 years to write “the end.” By that time I’d raised two kids, worked at several different jobs, bought a business, and gone through a lot of LIFE.

When I finished that manuscript I was so excited! I immediately printed it out, typed up my letter to the publisher, boxed it up (yeah, that was before the days of e-mail, you young whipper-snappers!) and sent it to Avon because they published Kathleen Woodiwiss and my book was really similar to her style of writing. (I can hear you laughing – that’s not very polite!).

It didn’t take long to get my first rejection letter. But about that time I also stumbled on RWA (Romance Writers of America) and joined them even though the annual rate was pretty steep for someone in my financial condition. I started getting their magazine, which I devoured. After the first paragraph of the first article I was already cringing from the realization that I had no idea what I was doing writing a book.

Yes, I could write a story. I had interesting characters. I had excitement. And, of course, romance. But I also had POV issues all over the place (mainly because I’d never hear of point of view and when I got contest notes back that said I had POV problems I still had no idea what they were talking about). It wasn’t until one poor judge took pity on me and highlighted the different POVs that I actually figured out what they were talking about (again, this is before I could Google the answer - you younger writers have no idea how lucky you are!).

Over the years I joined RMFW, entered contests, joined a critique group, went to conferences and workshops, read books on writing, followed blogs – whatever I could find that would teach me to know what I didn’t know. And learned a ton about writing. I’ve set that original manuscript aside, although I think some day it WILL see the light of day. I wrote a book that a small publisher picked up and went through four rounds of edits, learning more about what I didn’t know. I’ve written several more manuscripts and have seen my contest scores increase, but never been #1 with a bullet.

Now I understand that there are a lot of things about writing that I don’t know, and a lot of things about writing that I do know. Most of all I know I’ll keep learning more as I go along. My manuscripts are better. I believe I’ll publish again. I know I’ll make more mistakes. I just sent a query letter to an agent that had me waking up in the middle of the night and saying, out loud, “Did I really write that sentence like I think I did, and if so, WHY!!!!!” (by the way, yes I did, and it resulted in the by-then-expected rejection).

So learn. Listen. Read. Attend. Critique. AND WRITE ON! See you at Gold or one of the workshops or at the bookstore or library.

And Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!

Give Your Characters a Sense of #Humor … by Rainey Hall

Just like a well-delivered one-liner, writers must have great timing and dynamics when their characters produce a sentence—or word—meant to be funny.

timing

noun
the ability to select the precise moment for doing something for optimum effect

Don’t forget—to show your character’s sense of humor—readers need to know the character’s usual personality, and/or the situation, that to most people, is serious.

In the following excerpts from my attempt at historical fiction, readers can see and feel the seriousness of the situation: (Please note, the passive voice is supposed to be passive.)

Today is the 23rd of October, 1861. My daughter and I are standing inside our home waiting for the preacher and his missus to arrive in their carriage to take us to the cemetery. Through the window, I study clouds surrounding the mountains, both which are practically a step away. The clouds seem as sorcerers brewing a storm, the first of the season. Several yellow and orange leaves cling to branches of aspen trees as if begging nature to stay the arctic frost, and let them live if for only one day more.

Then readers learn more about our protagonist and what is normal for her:

“She’s going to San Francisco,” I tell the elderly woman. (on the train) “Will you help her? Please?” I have never begged for anything, but as I kneel between my daughter and the woman, I clasp my hands together, searching the old woman’s eyes. The feeling, the situation is so very odd.

The set up:

Some moments later, I realize I am sitting on the ground. If more of my tears were to fall, they would practically create their own puddle.

The joke and in this case, the lesson:

A miner and his wife, new to the area…help me to my feet…Then he steps backward into a fairly fresh pile of horse manure. His wife holds her handkerchief over her nose. And then she giggles, almost unperceptively. Trying to hide his laughter, the miner snorts, steps out of the pile, and then wipes his boots in the dirt. He and his wife are now laughing quite loudly because, instead of cleaning his boots, the dry dirt only sticks to them, making an even bigger mess.

…I cannot help but chuckle. …But then laughter leaves my mouth before I can stop it. Perhaps I should be ashamed, but the moment reminds me what is the best medicine.

Okay, maybe you’re not busting a gut over this, but when the miner steps into manure and creates a bigger mess, all three characters laugh—allowing readers to laugh—thus lending a respite from grief.

dynamics

noun plural but singular or plural in construction
a pattern or process of change, growth, or activity; variation and contrast in force or intensity

The protagonist in my debut, *The Frozen Moose, a short story is a mess; such a mess she has planned her suicide.

The below scene shows her mindset, as well as a bit of her normal thought process:

My plan of self-elimination was simple. Winter was in full swing— International Skeptics Day, January, 13. The valley near the riverbed was coldest. I would simply freeze myself. Unsophisticated but effective….

…Then the phone rang.

Now we get a glimpse of our protagonist’s normal world and the set up:

The caller’s monotone worked well either as a sleeping aid or entertainment, dependent upon the subject matter. Halley, my social worker friend, “Hey, my dear…. “I’ve got a foster child. She’s been in eight homes in the last six years. I need you to care for her.”

The one-liner:

...“Pretend I’m Catholic, and it’s Lent.”

funny

adjective
affording light mirth and laughter; seeking or intended to amuse; differing from the ordinary in a suspicious, perplexing, quaint, or eccentric way

tundracomics.com

Check these sites for additional advice on writing funny:

Humor Writing for People Who Aren't Funny by Jeff Goins at The Write Practice.
The Secret of Writing Funny by Ghulam at Write to Done.
Comedy Writing: How to Be Funny -- an interview of humor writers by Scott Simon on npr.org

Give the gift of humor to your characters, but remember one man’s humor is another man’s white elephant gift.

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

A Colorado native, Rainey, (writing as L. Treloar), has been a RMFW member since 2012 (or so), and is happy to belong to one of the best critique groups ever: The 93rd Street Irregulars. She has self-published The Frozen Moose, is currently re-editing the first manuscript in a political thriller series, and has entered two contests with her 2016 NaNoWriMo Historical Fiction novella. In her spare time, she enjoys organizing anything from closets, to military family retreats, to rodeos and parades. Along with teaching her cat to retrieve, she volunteers at church and The Horse Protection League. With an Associate degree in Applied Science/Land Surveying, she learned she far prefers words over math.

*The Frozen Moose, a short story is available on Barnes and Noble in e-book.

Newsletter Conclusions – Worldbuilding!

I know that various RMFW writers have talked about newsletters, but this is my personal, particular (and perhaps peculiar – sorry, I'm having fun with the alliteration!) take on the business and pleasures of newsletters.

I started (after many years, and AGAIN), a monthly newsletter last July, soon after I epublished my first novella (Lost Heart).

Publishing a newsletter is a love/hate relationship:
I hate taking the time from writing.
I love writing something creative for the newsletter instead of struggling with my current manuscript.
I hate formatting the sucker with pictures and text. It takes ALL DAY.
I love finding pictures (mostly my own due to copyright restrictions) for the newsletter . . . and I can use an old graphic I still love from my first website as a header.

And so it goes. Since it's a monthly newsletter, it usually goes out in the last days of the month, because that's how I am, I procrastinate.

Though I have two current series going, the reader favorite is my Celta HeartMate series. Unless I have a book out in the Ghost series (contemporary paranormal featuring ghosts of the Old West, mostly Colorado), I spend most of my time on Celta.

I have done: maps of the world, maps of portions of the world, pictures of the Residences (intelligent houses, mostly castles or manor houses), timeline of the books (from the colonists leaving Earth and the generational starships in outer space, to the current year of a short story due at the end of the month – 425 years after colonization).

Most recently I did an article from one of the news sheets, the Druida City Times, announcing the building of a new village, Multiplicity. Included were pictures of a model mansion, the community center, and a home designed by the architect planning the community. I wanted to do this as a teaser for my work in progress and the next full book.

I predated this "article" two and a half months before the day of the erection of the community (magic, folks), which is the next scene I'm writing in the manuscript, so comments about the newsletter HELPED WITH MY OWN MOTIVATION TO WRITE.

That is another way a newsletter can help you:

You know from feedback that you aren't alone, no matter how dark and cold is the early winter night. People like your work, and will support your writing, again, motivation to write, other writers as well as readers.

You can clarify the story in your own mind if you talk about a work in progress.
You can remind yourself why you like the story, and why you're writing it.

If you're promoting a recently released story/novella/book, you can reconnect with that story and get re-energized about it. (I don't know about you, but the piece I like best is the one I've just finished and is being released). You can be excited about sharing another story, a brand new story to your readers.

YOU are in control of the newsletter, what goes in, photos or character interviews or fake news articles or maps. You can be creative with this in a totally different manner than you have when writing.

Be free, and experiment with your newsletter, and have fun. That will show in your newsletter (like it does in your stories).

Have wonderful holidays and I'll talk to you in the new year.

Merry meet and merry part and merry meet again.
Robin

Rocky Mountain Writer #68

Frederick Bloetscher  & "The Old Coyote"

The guest is Frederick Bloetscher, who has an entry in the latest RMFW short story anthology, FOUND.

Fred’s story is “The Old Coyote” and it’s his first work of fiction.

On the podcast, talks about the inspiration for the story and, since Fred is someone who works in water issues on a national basis, the conversation veers for a while into the inevitable topic of climate change.

Fred Boetschler has 30 years of experience as a civil engineer focusing on water and infrastructure issues.

His hobbies include hiking and photography, both of which played a role in leading to the moment that prompted him to write “The Old Coyote.”

Quick note: the podcast will return in early 2017 after a brief holiday break.

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

A crutch, a hat and a nightcap

Memorable character tags from A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol is one of the most endearing, enduring redemption stories ever told. Written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1843, it’s now 173 years old and is still entertaining – and teaching us. It reminds us of the power and joy of redemption, and it’s also a great example of a fictional  character’s arc—and a clear example of character tags.christmas-carol

I attended a musical version of A Christmas Carol last week at The Stage in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. I’ve seen it several times on stage. I proudly own the Mickey Mouse and Muppets versions, the Alastair Sim version, and most especially the George C. Scott version, lush with its scenes and of course the brilliance of George C. Scott.

The version I saw this year is a relatively new adaptation by Richard Hellesen. Those attending can identify the differences quickly. In the beginning scene, the actors appear first as narrators, then step into scene and assume their characters roles. Scrooge is no less miserable than in the older versions, but in the Hellesen version, he’s comedic and includes the children in the fun. The ghostly apparitions are still there, but even in his fear, Scrooge pokes fun into the dialogue.

We want our characters to be memorable. There are several ways to accomplish that—in-depth character studies, psychological analyses, applying enneagrams and such—to be sure our characters are interesting and multi-dimensional.

A Christmas Carol makes full use of physical tags. In written form, the story comes alive with images that help the reader remember the characters. Dickens wrote them so well that, even if you’re given nosebleed theater seats, you can still recognize the characters as they come on stage.

Character tags from A Christmas Carol

Physical tags

Scrooge’s stovepipe hat

His long black coat

Tiny Tim’s crutch

Bob Cratchett’s scarf

Cratchett’s wife’s bonnet

Marley’s chains

Mrs. Fezziwig’s outlandish party hat

Verbal tags

“Bah. Humbug!”

“God bless us, every one.”

The actors have readily identifiable voices, as well, using tone, vocabulary and pace to differentiate one from the other.

In addition to what one can visualize, tags identify characters through sound – a gruff policeman, a nasal-voiced girlfriend, a foreign spy with a heavy accent. One who stutters.

I often write down “EYE PATCH:” and list potential character tags early in my plotting. A character can wear so much perfume that people tear up and sneeze when she gets on the elevator. Another character can stink so much that people can smell him before they see him. A female character can have silky red hair that reaches her waist. An aging brunette can have a perky bob and whenever she flips her hair, her neck cracks. The possibilities are endless. Have fun with your writing, and ...

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

And God bless us, every one.

 

PS: The DCPA presentation of A Christmas Carol plays through Dec. 24.

A final note on Hellesen (replace “theatre” and “Play” with “novel.”)

When an interviewer asked what kind of theatre excites him, Hellesen replied, “…given the abundance of falsity in our world, I simply want to witness engrossing moments of recognizable human truth, things I knew were true but forgot until the play reminded me--and if possible to be allowed to feel genuine emotion in doing so.”

For a holiday treat to yourself, you can read Hellesen’s interview at http://aszym.blogspot.com/2013/06/i-interview-playwrights-part-588.html

On the first day of NaNoWriMo, my pen gave to me…

Not a dang word.

Stupid writing.

Disclaimed: I didn’t do NaNoWriMo. In fact, I haven’t done it in years. While in the past I’ve lied to myself, saying I would write every day in November, hitting 50k with the greatest of ease, I didn't even bother this year.

Hi, I’m Julie, a failed NaNoWriMo participant.

I have never, since my first try in 2007, hit the 50k mark. The most I ever did was 30k. Odd, since my latest project, a writer for hire deal for a film studio, came in around 50k and I completed it in a few weeks. So why can’t I win in November?

I’ve blamed it on the time of year. Like I only write in certain months, November just isn’t one of them…A crap excuse. What else? I have too much going on to write that much in a month…Considering I had 5 days off last week from my day job, that excuse doesn’t hold any turkey. Writing is hard, I whine. Again, not so much when I’m not kicking and screaming like a big baby. I sprained my index finger and since I type like two-year-old…

You see my point? I have a million excuses as to why I don't write. We all do. If I could only add this energy to writing, I’d have a book out every week.

And yet, I’ll continue to have reasons why I can’t succeed. It’s easier to never try than to fail. But all my time doing NaNoWriMo, that’s my greatest takeaway, it’s okay to fail. This is what I do because I love to do it. If it becomes a forced chore, like hitting 50k in November, I might reconsider.

How about you? Did you NaNo? Did you hit your word count? Have you failed at a project before? And finally, what’s your best/lamest excuse for not writing? Give 'em to me so I can use them next time I fumble with my own BS.

Happy Holidays! I'll see you again next year (unless I get hit by a bus or sprain my finger...or if I....).

Workshop Proposals: Submissions Open Jan 1

2017conferenceblog_workshopproposalsopenjan1It's that time of year again! Workshop proposals for the 2017 Colorado Gold Conference will be accepted January 1 through March 31st. (Midnight 4/1/17)

Before you submit your proposals, DOWNLOAD the Conference Proposal Worksheet for instructions and other information that will help you complete the form.

As always, look to the Conference Home Page for any information and updates about conference.


Thinking about presenting at Colorado Gold? 

You may be asking yourself if you're qualified to teach at a writers conference or if it’s worth your time and effort to develop a course. We’re here to tell you that everyone has something to offer. Below are just a few of the reasons why you should submit a proposal for this year’s conference.

It Inspires Others
Writers need endless inspiration. We probably want to quit more often than people in any other career including those who clean port-a-potties for a living. Experienced writers who publicly share their failures and successes captivate and inspire conference attendees. Be a part of an event that sends writers home with a renewed sense of creativity and drive to complete their works in progress.

It’s Challenging
Taking time to develop a workshop is challenging and well worth the effort. Many of us writers are introverts and teaching is an opportunity to interact in a public setting. Students will test your knowledge, and you may even learn something from them. In the end, you’ll leave the conference closer to perfecting your own skills.

It Renews Your Ingenuity
Taking time away from fiction writing to develop a course for writers redirects your creativity. Your efforts will leave a lasting impression on students, and you’ll return to your own work with a refreshed frame of mind.

It Shares Your Knowledge
Think about how much you’ve learned at the writers conferences you’ve attended. It’s time to give back and share your knowledge with fellow writers. Mold the minds of future fiction authors and set them on the right path. Help fellow writers perfect their skills and bring their stories closer to publication.

It’s Rewarding
With all the rejection writers face on a regular basis, we need to frequently rejuvenate our spirits. One way to do this is through the rewards that come along with teaching and inspiring others. You will gain a sense of accomplishment by coaching fellow writers on their journey to publication. Students will inspire you, and you’ll leave the conference with a positive outlook about your own work as well.

It’s a Responsibility
If you’ve been writing for years, whether you are published or not, you are a leader and shouldn’t be afraid to see yourself as such. New writers look up to your knowledge and experience. They want to know how you succeeded. Share your skills and wisdom with confidence.

It Earns Compensation
One of the best reasons to teach at the Colorado Gold Conference is to save a little cash. Presenters receive compensation that’s good toward discounts off the base conference registration fee. Panelists receive a $50 discount on the conference registration fee per discussion panel they sit on. Co-presenters of workshops receive half off the normal registration fee per workshop. Solo workshop presenters may attend the conference at no base charge.

Note that the maximum compensation for any presenter is one base conference registration fee. Paid add ons are not included in the base conference registration fee and are not part of the compensation. RMFW does not provide travel or other expenses. More information about compensation is found in the conference proposal form and Conference Proposal Worksheet.

Teaching or speaking at a conference can benefit you as well as the writing community. One of the best things about attending a writers conference is the opportunity to gather and grow with your tribe. Being able to share your knowledge and guide others down a path that’s familiar to you is a great way to be a part of that. You get to connect with other writers, give back, and get your name out there as an expert. If you have knowledge to share, consider teaching a workshop at RMFW’s Colorado Gold. We look forward to seeing your proposals!

Check out the Conference page or go directly to the conference proposal form for additional details.


Conference Calendar: 

  • JANUARY 1: Workshop Proposal Submissions OPEN
  • MARCH 31: Workshop Proposal Submissions CLOSE (April 1 at midnight)
  • APRIL 20: Workshops Notifications Sent to Presenters
  • MAY 1: Registration Opens for 2017 Colorado Gold!

I am very excited to be your chairperson for the 2017 Colorado Gold. We have a fantastic lineup of guests, agents, editors already and we're adding more! We're looking for your proposals to make it exceptional!

Looking forward to 2017!
Corinne O'Flynn
Colorado Gold Conference Chair