My First The End

In July I sat on a panel at Regis University with two other authors and was asked the question, “What advice do you have for writers just starting out?”

I thought for a second, leaned into the microphone, then whispered, “Finish a book.”

Was my response flippant? Not in the least.

I remember writing my first book, it was a contemporary adult family saga. I remember writing slowly, I remember taking chapters to critique group, I remember having no particular thoughts about publication.

I remember not really believing I would ever finish it.

But one day, years after I had started, I typed The End and took a deep and satisfying breath. I had done it. I had finished writing my first book. The feelings were amazing; such a sense of accomplishment, such a wave of relief. Up until The End my book was a huge project I had taken on for reasons I didn’t understand, and every day, week, month, and year that it sat unfinished felt like a broken promise to myself.

There were many days I wished I had never started writing that book, never made myself such a big promise that was then making me feel like such a huge failure for not doing it. It was a commitment I considered never making again because what if I was never able to make it to The End again?

I tell that story a lot because that first book was enormously important to my writing career in a way I wouldn’t understand until many years later. The first book was the hardest for me—true. And it taught me a lot; about writing and about myself. All lessons I’m grateful for and that I continue to grow and build from as a writer and a human being.

But the most vital insight I clawed out of the hours I spent tending those four hundred pages is the single greatest influence on the writing career I’ve had since my first The End.

It’s the belief that I could do it.

It was hard, and there were many, many doubts along the way. But I finished that book. I. Did. It. From that moment forward, my entire perspective shifted. I became, immediately, a person who had finished writing a book! A whole book that made sense.

(Well, it mostly made sense. But that’s another blog topic, really.)

The point is, when my next book idea came to me, I may have hesitated diving into that pool again, but I did eventually jump because I KNEW I could swim.

Last week, I published my fifth book.

Next week, I begin writing my sixth.

There will always be more books, I believe this now and it’s all because of number one. So when I’m asked which of my books is my favorite, which book has had the greatest impact on my career, the answer must always be “my first book” because with out it, there wouldn’t have been anymore.

So if you are just starting out, the best thing you can do for yourself is finish a book.

From there, you will always know you can do it again.

Making A Mark In Marketing

Farmers_MarketMarketing isn't complicated or difficult. It needn't be expensive in either time or money.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a list of my ten rules of the road for fiction authors who are just getting started with sales and promotion. Some of you may have seen it before. It's aimed at self-published authors or traditionally published who want to become hybrids. When considering how best to frame this month's post, this list continues to be my best answer.

Rule 1: Be interesting.

The fastest way to be interesting is to be interested. If you're not engaging with people, they have no reason to care what you say. When you become part of their experience, they become part of yours. This is a good thing. Make friends, not sales.

Rule 2: Don't be dumb

This shouldn't need to be a rule but way too many authors are trying for attention with the same verve as the half-naked drunk dancing on a coffee table with a lampshade on his head. Don't. That is not the attention you really need. It's the kind of attention that gets you uninvited to the good parties.

Rule 3: Publish it

You don't get fans for the things you're going to write. You only get fans of stuff you've finished and they can get. Farting around with agents, trying to time a release for the next advantageous month with the appropriate full moon, anything that stands between you and "publish it" is a problem. *

Rule 4: Niche, Niche, Baby

You are not trying to sell a million books. In the beginning your goal is to sell one book. A book that your mother doesn't buy. A book that a fan purchases and lurves with the fiery passion of ten thousand suns.

That's your goal. That one sale.

You're working in niche markets. You will get fat and sassy with a thousand people who lurve your work as much as that first one because that means there are 10x that many who will probably buy your work as well. It means there are probably 10x more who will buy one of your works if it strikes their fancy that day.

Do the math, but it starts with one. Just one.

5. Face to the audience.

Stop messing around writing blog posts about how to make good characters or twenty-five ways to aggravate the establishment. Face your audience and write to them. Yes, I know you have none yet. Write to the ones who'll find you next year and want to see how this all started.

Fans care about who you are (not what you do). They care about where the next book is (and where they can find the older ones). They care about where they can meet you, hear about you, learn more about your work.

Fans do not care about writer's block, how you learned to write up to 500 words a day, or where you find the minutes you need to write them.

Answer the question: "What can I do for them?"

Anything else is pointless.

6. Network at your back.

Your fellow authors and word herding colleagues are not your competition. They are your reinforcement. Make friends. They can help you by doing things for you that you cannot do for yourself -- like telling their audiences about you if they like what you do and they think their audiences will, too.

A good network can give you beta reads, cover blurbs, and help you prime the sales pump so you never have to be that guy who says, "Buy my book!"

7. Back list - You Need One.

Make that happen. Tomorrow is good. Today would be better.

Social media is the fulcrum against which you will press the lever of back list. If the lever is too short, you will have a heck of a time gaining purchase.

Don't make the common mistake of writing a few short pieces to attract people to your one novel. While that's marginally effective, you're dealing with two different markets. People who read long, don't necessarily read short and vice versa.

You are looking for the one person who lurves your book. Not somebody who likes it, kinda. Write for that one person. Bite the bullet and write the next book. The majority of successful indie authors have five or more novels in circulation before they begin to gain traction.

8. Advertising, reviews, SEO

Unless you've got a back list to support spending money on advertising, skip it.

Advertising is unlikely to pay off and will probably not find that one person you're looking for. It's not a tool for early-stage publishing unless you've got deep pockets and a risk-taking mentality.

Reviews do not drive sales. Sales drive reviews. Reviews are a gauge of marketing reach, not quality. Spending time pursuing book bloggers - particularly in the beginning - seldom pays royalties.

SEO ... see 9.

9. Discovery Happens At The Bookstore

For non-fiction authors, having a strong presence and a reputation for knowing what you're doing can help you sell books. For non-fiction people, SEO can help people who are looking for your level of expertise to find you.

There is no search in the world that will help somebody looking for a good SF book to find you.

Except the search on the Amazon/B&N/Kobo website. Your website SEO doesn't matter there.

You don't go to the grocery store to buy 2x4s and you don't go to the hardware store to buy mangos. Readers don't look for fiction on Google.

Your blog is for collecting people who already know your name. The only searches that matter are 1) your name, 2) your titles, and 3) your characters.

In the bookstore, the trinity is Cover, Blurb, and Holy Sample. You cannot afford to mess-up any one of those or your books will sink into the purgatory that are sales ranks below #500,000.

Notice where reviews and ads fall on that list.

Yes, you need good meta-data. You need to find the right keywords for Amazon. No, you don't need to optimize your website to maximize time on page. You don't want people spending time reading your blog. You want them reading your books which they will find at the bookstore (or on a handy catalog page on your website).

10. Email List

Yes, it's old school. Yes, it's frequently abused. Yes, you need one. Mail Chimp. If you haven't already, start now.

Don't send them junk. Your freebie stories are not incentives. The one piece of information they've signed up for is "The new book is available. Here's the link."

See the previous point about not being dumb.

None of these will guarantee success. I know great authors with over a dozen titles out there who can't seem to get traction.

Over the last nine years, I've observed that the authors who have the most success are the ones who have followed these guidelines.

No question that luck is involved, but luck favors the prepared.

I'll take questions...

Image Credit:
Crocker Galleria Farmer's Market
Creative Commons 2.0 Generic (CC-BY-2.0) License

Decisions, Decisions—Formatting My Ebook

html is so confusing...
html is so confusing...

I’ve been in the process of moving from Colorado to Illinois, which is very time- and energy-consuming, so I haven’t spent much time on the next stages of getting my book ready to submit. However, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I need to do for the next step and ways to give the book the best possible chances once it hits Kindle Scout.

It occurred to me that good formatting might give the book an edge. I have no idea what criteria KS uses to determined which books to publish—other than the crowdsourcing part—but there’s mention that the more complete and ready a book is, the better its chances. I’d been thinking of this in terms of finished text and quality editing, but then suddenly realized formatting could be a part of the equation as well.

There are many ways to format your ebook. Probably the easiest is to upload a prepared .doc file (or similar) to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Kobo and let their auto-formatting take care of it. However, I got curious and downloaded the html markup for a book I’d done this way and discovered it had been formatted in probably the most convoluted way possible. It had, for example, style tags on every individual sentence. Just looking at it gave me hives.

So I started looking into other ways to do final formatting for upload. There are numerous articles and series of blog posts, etc. discussing different ways to approach the task. One way is just to use straightforward, clean html markup, but you have to put it all in there by hand, more or less. Amazon offers a guide on their KDP site.

Some other approaches are presented here:

You’ll also find guides at Barnes & Noble and Kobo, Draft2Digital, and probably any other e-book outlet providing information on how to format in the best way for their particular system. There’s a lot of overlap, though some places are pickier than others *cough*ibooks*cough*.

I’ve been self-publishing for a few years now, so I figured I had all the formatting stuff down pat. However, as I’ve been reading (and looking at the markup actually created when I upload my books to KDP), I’m starting to suspect I’m not going about things in the most efficient or effective way. So I’m going to look into some other options.

I use Scrivener as my main writing software, and I’ve heard that it also does an excellent job of exporting manuscripts into various e-book formats. I haven’t tried it yet, mostly because I do my drafting in Scrivener, then export to Word for final edits. I’d have to pull the manuscript back into Scrivener and divide it up again to make use of this functionality (at least that’s the way I understand it). I want to try it at some point in the future to see how it works and how easy it is.

Here are a few articles about how to put your final e-book together using Scrivener:

What I’m really intrigued with right now, though, is Vellum. It costs money ($29.99 for a single book, or $199.99 for an unlimited license), but people seem to be raving about it. I’ve downloaded and fiddled with it, though I haven’t paid the licensing fee yet, and so far it seems to be easy to use and also allows you to easily add visual elements that give your book a very polished look. It’s Mac-only (sorry, PC folks), but it appears to be turning into an automatic go-to for a lot of self-pubs.

Some information about Vellum:

So basically, right now I’m wavering between using Scrivener, which I already own, or spending money for Vellum, which may or may not make the process smoother, easier, and prettier. Whichever way I decide, I hope a nicely formatted book will give me a little bit of an edge when it comes to being chosen for publication.

Getting to Know You: The RMFW Q&A Project #4

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

Mari Christie (Mariana Gabrielle)

Website: http://www.marianagabrielle.com/
Professional Services Website: http://www.marichristie.info/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MariChristieAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MChristieAuthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marichristie/

2015_Mariana Gabrielle1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

My historical novels feature second chances for scarred souls; all of my characters come to my books broken in spirit and are, in some way, uplifted. I write Historical Romance (Regency and Victorian) as Mariana Gabrielle, and Mainstream Historical (American Civil War and Turn-of-the-Century New York) as Mari Anne Christie. In my day-to-day life, I am a professional writer, editor, and designer in various corporate, government, academic, and publishing industries.

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

I chose writing over auditioning for the National Musical Theatre Conservatory.

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

I don’t do anything except write. I am a very boring person in that respect.

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

Karen Duvall

Website:  http://www.karenduvallauthor.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Karen.Duvall.Author/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KarenDuvall
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/405199.Karen_Duvall

2016_KarenDuvall1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

That’s a tough question because my process changes and evolves all the time. In fact, I’ve recently switched genres. I used to write strictly fantasy, but now write mainstream fiction with elements of magic or the supernatural (magical realism). I write because I’m compelled to, yet I don’t write as enough as I’d like. My day job has interfered more than ever, leaving me very little time to get much writing done. I write on my desktop computer in my home office. As for how I write, I can’t write with music playing, that’s for sure. I need a blank auditory background to get in the flow.

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

During my first year of college at the University of Hawaii, I took a skydiving class on a dare and loved it so much that I went on to do it competitively. I bought my own rig and logged in over 60 jumps before I moved to Colorado and hung up my parachute because the altitude was too much for my sea level-accustomed body. A few months later a bunch of the people I jumped with in Hawaii, including my skydiving instructor, died together in an evening skydiving accident while doing an exhibit jump into football stadium.

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

I’d have to say my day job as a graphic designer. I’ve been a professional graphic artist for well over 30 years and I now specialize in designing book covers for self-published authors. However, I also design 3D art for an online computer game called Second Life. The Second Life virtual world gets 40,000 to 50,000 registered uses from all over the world logging on every day. I’ve been a Second Life resident for seven years and though it’s a way for me to make a good income, it has also been a tremendous help to my writing through inspiration and roleplay opportunities for character development.

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

Karen Albright Lin

Website: http://www.karenalbrightlin.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.a.lin
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-lin-8778135

2016_Karen Albright Lin1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I do my first drafts longhand at restaurants over lunch. I typically work on more than one project at a time. I used to be a contest junky; every win offered oxygen. I'm a produced screenwriter who has done work-for-hire, script doctoring, and happily collaborated on a few projects (most importantly with my Sister of the Quill, Janet Fogg). I've been represented by a few very successful agents for a novel, cookbook, and a ghostwriting gig. Why did they fall through? I’ll tell you when I'm keynote! I've published articles, personal essays, shorts, flash, and a column for BTS Book Reviews. I'm also an editor for award-winning and bestselling fiction and nonfiction writers. The best perk of all--I get to teach for cruise lines and that means cruise for two for free to places like Russia, Tahiti, and Costa Rica.

Why do I write? I'm a show-off. But I probably would have been a forensic entomologist, if not for a high school teacher who encouraged my writing by taking me to a writer's conference, helping me get a full-ride creative writing university scholarship, and getting the principal to announce writing awards instead of only news of winning football games.

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

My first genre was erotica (the middle school kind). I still write it, but thank goodness it's different now.

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

Dancing and food tourism with my husband of 29 years.

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

Elizabeth Richards

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethlrichards

2016_Elizabeth Richards1. We know the who (that's you), so will you give us the what, why, when, where, and how you write?

I am working on a historical mystery set in Colorado in 1893. I’m fairly sure I didn’t spend all my growing up years in the 20th Century so historical fiction is a natural for me. I spend 10-20 minutes writing every morning before going to work. On the weekends I am often found writing at EverBean Coffee Shop in Evergreen.

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

My career has spanned everything from cleaning up sheep poop at a petting zoo to being the director of operations at an Artificial Intelligence start up company. Both were fun in their own way.

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

Is it too much of a cliche to say reading? I grew up a military brat, often moving every one to two years. Books were friends when life could be lonely. They opened up a world beyond our everyday life. When I was in 5th grade (New York City) I discovered Rosemary Sutcliffe and read Warrior Scarlet, the coming of age story of a Celtic boy. The next year, in Miesau Germany, we lived near a Celtic graveyard from the time of Isiah. It was as if, out of the corner of my eye, I could glimpse the echo of people who’d lived there a hundred, a thousand, three thousand years ago.

Many thanks to Mari, Karen D., Karen L., and Elizabeth 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

Rocky Mountain Writer #52


Dylan YatesDylan Yates & Vocal Training for Writers

On the podcast this time is vocal coach Dylan Yates, who is giving a master class for writers at Colorado Gold in September.

Yes, writers, at some point, must also get out there and talk.

Dylan Yates is also the author of an award-winning novel, The Belief in Angels.  She has a teaching career that spans public schools, theater direction for regional and national theaters, and vocal training in corporate environments.

Her experience also includes private vocal coaching and radio commercials.
She Writes Press - Dylan Yates

 

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

Conference Workshop Preview: 25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Since I typed the END to my first manuscript to the release of my 10th traditionally published book on August 15th
(The Assassin’s Kiss,if you’re interested) I’ve learned so much about the business and industry we’re in. Some good. assassins_kissSome bad.

In September at the RMFW Conference I’ll be facilitating a workshop on the things I’ve learned, but in the meantime, I’ll spill some BIG INDUSTRY SECRETS.

Like I know any.

But I do know the struggle--the ups and downs, the roller coaster of signing contracts, marketing, failing and getting back up.

If you didn’t already know, I hold a record of specific distinction around town. I amassed over 1,000 rejections before I sold my first book.

So trust me when I declare, this business is all about patience. That’s my greatest advice. The slow and steady wins this race. Write. Work hard. Submit. Grin and bear each rejection. And celebrate the hell out of each victory.

25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Friday, Sept 9th 4-4:50pm Durango Room

Last workshop of the day! Margaritas welcome and very encouraged.

Do you have any burning questions about going from pre-pubbed to multi? Or better yet, any advice for the journey you’d give a new writer?

What to Expect at the 2016 Colorado Gold Conference

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_WalkThroughColorado Gold is only a month away! We're back at the Denver Renaissance Hotel, in Stapleton, which will be familiar to some attendees and new to many.

We've also added some new programming to the schedule this year—testing the waters in an attempt to give you all more opportunities to learn and grow and hone your craft.

I thought it would be helpful to do a kind of walk-through of the conference explaining what to expect each day.

The At-A-Glance Schedule

First, I wanted to point out that the at a glance schedule is organized by floor.

The left-most classrooms are located on the ballroom floor, which is the lower level of the hotel. These include the Ballrooms, Big Thompson, Platte River, and Boulder Creek.

The middle classrooms are located on the atrium level, these are Winter Park, Breckenridge, Snowmass, Telluride, Durango, Steamboat, and Aspen.

The right-most rooms, called the "Peak Rooms" on the schedule are located on the third floor. They aren't listed on the schedule individually because they are not part of the workshop space. They include Blanca Peak, Longs Peak, Capital Peak, Gray's Peak, Bennett Peak, Maroon Peak, and Pike's Peak.

There is a floor plan printed on the back page of the brochure, which is available online right now. You will also receive a printed brochure when you check in at conference.

Registration

Registration is located on the ballroom level, at the bottom of the escalators. Someone will be at the registration table for the duration of conference, and available to answer questions or help you with whatever you need. Registration opens Friday at 7:00 AM for the morning sessions and 10:30 AM for the regular conference attendees.

About Appointments and One-on-Ones

If you signed up for an appointment, it is likely that you will have to leave a workshop in session in order to attend. If you need to leave a workshop in session, this is perfectly fine and happens throughout conference. Simply gather your things and quietly depart. Once your appointment is over, feel free to return to any workshop in session.

Handouts

Handouts are available online. Please download to your device or print them before coming to conference. There is NO WI-FI in the classrooms. 

WiFi

There is no WiFi in the classrooms, for the presenters or for the attendees. WiFi is available in the common areas of the hotel.

Bookstore

The bookstore is located in Clear Creek on the ballroom level for the duration of conference.

Conference Recordings

Joyco recordings of all the workshops will be available for purchase near the registration table on the ballroom level. Place your order before the end of conference and you'll pick up your recordings before you leave.


Friday, September 9

On Friday Morning, we have:

  • Master Classes
  • Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables

Check-in for the Friday morning sessions is at the registration table starting at 7:00 AM. Master Classes and Agent and Editor Critique Round Tables begin at 8 AM. Once you collect your registration materials, you will proceed to your assigned room. Check-in for the rest of the conference attendees will open at 10:30 AM.

Master Classes: The Master Classes are located on the ballroom level and atrium level. Check the schedule for your specific room and plan to arrive a few minutes early.

Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables: If you signed up for a Round Table, these sessions are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Please arrive a few minutes early, and note that there will be signs on the doors so that you know you are in the right place.

On Friday Afternoon, we have:

  • Regular Workshops
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • Hook Your Book Appointments
  • One-on-One Pitch Coaching Appointments
  • Afternoon Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables
  • Buffet Dinner
  • Author Signing and Book Sale

Check-in for the conference attendees will open at 10:30 AM.  Workshops and appointments begin at 1 PM.

Mentor Room: The Mentor room is located in Boulder Creek, on the ballroom level. If you have an appointment for the Mentor room, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. Check in at the main registration table 10 minutes before your appointment.

Hook Your Book appointments: Hook Your Book is located in the Aspen room on the atrium level. If you signed up for an appointment, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the Hook Your Book sessions located outside the Aspen room. Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to check in.

One-on-One Pitch Coaching appointments: If you signed up for Pitch Coaching, these sessions are located on the atrium level in Winter Park, Breckenridge, Snowmass rooms. Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table outside the rooms. Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to check in.

Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables: If you signed up for a Round Table, these sessions are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Please arrive a few minutes early, and note that there will be signs on the doors so that you know you are in the right place.

Friday Dinner: Buffet dinner on Friday is located in Ballrooms C/D at 6 PM. Join us as we welcome you and hear from the 2016 Writers of the Year. There will be a cash bar in the hall outside the ballrooms prior to dinner and a cash bar inside during the meal.

Author Signing and Book Sale: Join us in Ballrooms A/B for an author signing extravaganza! Meet dozens of RMFW authors, our keynote speakers, presenters, and special guests. Buy books and have them signed. The cash bar will be open during this time. This is open to the public, so spread the word!


Saturday, September 10

On Saturday morning, we have:

  • Continental breakfast
  • Morning Author Readings
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • One Master Class
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments

Continental breakfast: This is optional and available starting at 7 AM in the hall outside the ballrooms.

Author Readings in Ballroom A: Feel free to grab some breakfast, and listen in to the authors read their work live. If you signed up to read your work, you will have received your appointment details from our author signing coordinator. Please make sure you arrive before your scheduled reading time.

Mentor Room: The Mentor room is located in Boulder Creek, on the ballroom level. If you have an appointment for the Mentor room, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. Check in at the main registration table 10 minutes before your appointment.

Master Class:  The Master Class on Saturday morning is located in the Aspen room on the atrium level.

Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments: Pitch Appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the pitch appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment. If you have any questions or conflicts regarding your pitch appointment, you will need to speak to the volunteers at the third-floor check-in table.

On Saturday afternoon, we have:

  • New Attendee Luncheon
  • Regular Workshops
  • Mentor Room
  • One Master Class
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments
  • One-on-One Critique/Blue Pencil Appointments
  • Awards Banquet Dinner
  • Author Readings

Lunch on Saturday afternoon is not provided. Lunch is available in the hotel restaurant, or many off-site locations. Please consult the back of the brochure for a list of nearby restaurant options.

New Attendee Luncheon: If you signed up to attend the new attendee luncheon, you will receive a ticket in your registration packet. This meeting will be located in the Vail room on the atrium level. New attendees who wish to attend this lunch must have signed up ahead of time. However, if you are a new attendee and wish to bring lunch or sit in on this meeting without taking part in the food, you are welcome to attend the meeting without prior registration.

Mentor Room: The Mentor room is located in Boulder Creek, on the ballroom level. If you have an appointment for the Mentor room, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. Check in at the main registration table 10 minutes before your appointment.

Master Class:  The Master Class on Saturday morning is located in the Aspen room on the atrium level.

Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments: Pitch Appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the pitch appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment. If you have any questions or conflicts regarding your pitch appointment, you will need to speak to the volunteers at the third-floor check-in table.

One-on-One Critique/Blue Pencil Appointments: One-on-One Critiques and Blue Pencil Cafe appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for these appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment.

Awards Banquet Dinner: Dinner is located in Ballrooms C/D. Please join us for an evening of fun and celebration as we present awards for the year and hear an inspiring speech from our keynote speaker, Robert Sawyer. There will be a cash bar.

Author Readings in Ballroom A: Please join us and listen to RMFW authors read their work live. If you signed up to read your work, you will have received your appointment details from our author reading coordinator. Please make sure you arrive before your scheduled reading time.

Cash Bar in "Hospitality Hall": Hang out in the hall outside the ballrooms after dinner and mingle. There will be a cash bar.


Sunday, September 11

On Sunday morning, we have:

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Author Readings
  • Regular Workshops
  • Agent & Editor Pitch appointments
  • One-on-One Critique appointments
  • Farewell Luncheon

Continental breakfast: This is optional and available starting at 7 AM in the hall outside the ballrooms.

Author Readings in Ballroom A: Feel free to grab some breakfast, and listen in to the authors read their work live. If you signed up to read your work, you will have received your appointment details from our author signing coordinator. Please make sure you arrive before your scheduled reading time.

Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments: Pitch Appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the pitch appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment. If you have any questions or conflicts regarding your pitch appointment, you will need to speak to the volunteers at the third-floor check-in table.

One-on-One Critique Appointments: One-on-One Critiques and Blue Pencil Cafe Appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for these appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment.

Farewell Luncheon: The farewell luncheon will be located in Ballrooms C/D. Please join us as our keynote Ann Hood closes our conference with an inspirational speech.


I hope this information is useful as you prepare for conference.

See you in September!

 

The Trouble With Muses

A fellow author shared an in-depth look at her writing process on her blog. It was so methodical and logical. I was overwhelmed with envy. All of you writers who can plot and outline and plan—you don’t know how lucky you are. I’ve tried to do those things, but I’m always thwarted by my muse.

My muse doesn’t care for plotting and all that boring stuff. She prefers to follow her instincts. Because of the hundreds of books I/she has read over the years, my muse figures she knows how stories work and can create them without all that plotting crap.

Most of the time, I can’t really argue with her. I’ve published sixteen books and finished drafts of several more. So obviously, her way works…sort of. But there are times I get frustrated with her and can’t help wondering: If my writing process was more organized and structured, would I not be only more productive, but also more successful?

Because not only am I at the mercy of my muse in terms of the creative process, but also when it comes to what book I write at any given time. If not for her, I’m certain it would be easier for me to write the books that would advance my career. Instead of bouncing around from sub-genre to sub-genre, I could keep going in the same one, or write the books in a series one after another instead of having gaps of years between them.

Even though she’s made me what I am as a writer, my muse can be aggravatingly arrogant. Not to mention capricious, moody and stubborn. And she’s getting worse as she gets older. It used to be a lot easier to control her. In the past I sometimes insisted she get to work on a certain story. Forced her to help me write books that weren’t really what she was interested in at the time. Now, granted, those were not my most successful or best-reviewed books. But at least I had the illusion of being disciplined and responsible in terms of my career. Now if I tried to make her work on a book she had no interest in she would just laugh at me, or go off and sulk.

And the truth is, without her, I can’t create. I can write blog posts and letters and even blurbs. But I can’t write fiction. No short stories or novels. For that I need her. And she knows that. Knows I’m at her mercy and without her, I’m someone who’s literate and can put words together but who lacks the creative spark to tell stories and make them come to life.

My muse doesn’t ever seem to get older or mature. She remains a stubborn, bratty child. Because that’s what she is, my childish self. Before I grew up and learned to pay attention in school and do what I was told. She is the daydreaming, fanciful child inside me. The one who spent hours in imaginary play, alone, outside in the Midwestern countryside, spinning stories in my head and sometimes telling them to myself out loud, with no one to listen but the birds and butterflies and caterpillars and the flowers and the trees.

I grow older, and hopefully, wiser. But my muse doesn’t. She remains frozen in time. With all the gifts of her childish outlook and all the flaws. I can’t tame her or make her mind me. I’ve learned not to try. And so I coax and nudge. I coddle and indulge her. Anything to keep her by my side. Without her, there’s no magic. No creativity. I’m just a boring, ordinary…adult.

TO SERIALIZE OR NOT TO SERIALIZE

The Cereal AisleSERIALIZE (sîr′ē-ə-līz′) verb 1. to transform cookies, donuts, waffles, french toast, crunch berries, etc. into miniature candy-like form to be dredged in milk and consumed for breakfast. 2. to broadcast or publish (something, such as a story) in separate parts over a period of time.

No sooner was my latest thriller Presence of Malice released than readers began asking if there was to be a sequel or series following it. To be honest, when writing Malice I never envisioned it as a series. It was always to be a stand-alone thriller, one of many other non-related thrillers I plan to release. I already have two ongoing series, taking on a third is, frankly, daunting.

On one hand, Malice is by far the best received book I've ever released, and not to capitalize on it's popularity by releasing a sequel or series feels like leaving money on the table. On the other hand, my writing muse has never been very motivated by monetary concerns, but mostly on whether or not I have a worthy story to tell.

On the other hand (I know, that's three hands) you always want to please your readers, and to have them clamoring for more of something you've written is not only awfully flattering, it also makes you want to do it, if for no other reason than to please them. JK Rowling can't seem to leave the Harry Potter franchise alone - even though she promised after the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows that there would be no new Harry Potter books, she has repeatedly tweeted or blogged new information about the wizarding world she created in those books, then released The Tales of Beedle the Bard, then the movie Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them followed by a book of the same name, then the stage play Harry Potter and The Cursed Child...

The point is, it's hard to walk away from something you so enjoyed writing and that readers so enjoy reading. So while it never started that way, Presence of Malice will most likely become a third ongoing series, if perhaps more episodic than serialized. In the end, while you may have other stories teaming around in your head demanding to be written, it's also irresistible to go back a revisit old friends and favorite villains.

Ah, had I but world enough and time!

The Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour … by Shannon Baker and Jess Lourey

2016_Shannon BakerHi Guys! (waving from sunny Tucson)

Being here today feels so much like coming home. I’ve been a member of RMFW for over 20 years and if I’ve gained any knowledge of business and craft (and let’s hope some of it stuck) I owe it all to RMFW. So even if I’m soaking up the desert instead of the Rockies (and you don’t know how much I miss them) I always feel like RMFW is my writer home.

So imagine how excited I am to bring Jess Lourey home with me. She’s not a stranger to a lot of you. Jess is the author of the Murder by the Month series from Midnight Ink. If you haven’t read them, you must. They are a ton o’ fun. She taught at RMFW’s one-day May workshop in 2013 and if you were there, you know how lucky we were to have her. Today, she’s here to talk about her upcoming thriller, Salem’s Cipher, featuring agoraphobic cryptanalyst Salem Wiley, who finds herself both target and detective in a modern day witch hunt. This is one smart book, full of twists and turns, and such cool stuff you will hold your breath the whole time. (Not literally, ‘cause then, you know, you’d die.)

2016_Baker_Stripped BareAnd I’m here to talk about my new book, Stripped Bare. It’s been called Longmire meets The Good Wife and is about a woman sheriff in the Nebraska Sandhills. Both books release on September 6 and are available for pre-order. Salem’s Cipher. Stripped Bare. This is our first stop on the month-long, pre-launch—cue angelic chorus—Lourey/Baker Double Booked Tour, and I got to pick the topic so I decided both of us will give a tip about marketing and promotion.

I don’t know about you, but for me, marketing is hard. Planning, researching, angsting, peopleing. (Writing books is hard, too, with much of the same hardness topics, but stick with us on the—angels singingLourey/Baker Double Booked Tour, and we’ll give tips and clues on dealing with much of it.) Most of us have a hard time saying, “Read my book. Read my book,” but in the sea full of books, we have to do something to alert the fishermen hungering for ours where to cast their line. Good marketing is a service to readers, really. And those who do it correctly are saints—a little more angels’ song.

Didn’t your mother ever tell you that many hands make light the work? No? Well, mine didn’t either, but she should have. And, a road trip is ever-more fun with a buddy. Jess and I discovered we both have books launching on the same day. Jess is one of my favorite people to hang out with. She always makes me laugh or think deeply about life (which makes me squirm but is good for my personal character development).

But even more important than my good time, if we want to perform the selfless service of informing people about our books, we should do it with some humor, something interesting, and add some value for readers. So, ta da, welcome to the—you knowLourey/Baker Double Booked Tour.

My marketing tip of the day is have fun, or as much as you can, because if it’s fun for you, hopefully, your efforts will be less like “Buy my book” and more like a public service announcement with some value added.

Jess, when I got my contract with Midnight Ink, you were one of the first people I contacted about how to market. You told me a lot of methods you’d tried. Now, after 13 books, can you tell us what you’ve learned? (Not everything you’ve learned obviously, because you’re really smart and know a lot.)

2016_Jess LoureyCripes, Shannon (Jess here), everything I’ve learned fits on a one-sheet handout. Seriously. Especially when it comes to marketing, where there is only one surefire method: make a sex tape. But for those of us from Minnesota (where the women are pale, the men quiet, and the sex is done rarely and in the dark), we must look to riskier routes. Obviously, you begin by writing the best book you can, and then…forget the book trailers, for sure forget the swag (postcards, bookmarks, and pens do not a book sell), and give yourself a time budget for marketing.

For example, I spend 5 hours a week on marketing in the three months leading up to a book release. That doubles to 10 hours a week the month of release. I treat marketing like a job during those allotted hours, and I do my best not to think about it outside of that time. There’s always one more thing I could do, and I refuse to make myself crazy by chasing that.

2016_Lourey_Salem'sMy favorite marketing avenues during my allotted marketing time: guest blogging (because it’s like having grandkids in that you get all the fun and don’t have to change any diapers); reaching out to reviewers to offer the NetGalley link to my latest; setting up signings at bookstores that handsell; posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest following the social media rule of thirds: a third are personal posts, a third are blatant self-promotion, and a third are useful posts (writing tips, for example); and setting up writing workshops.

I choose those routes because I enjoy them (more or less), which brings us full circle to Shannon’s advice, with which I’m about to craft an open-faced advice sandwich with my advice as the single slice of bread: choose marketing efforts that sound fun to you, and put yourself on a strict time budget because if you don’t, you’ll always feel there was one more thing you could have done. Then, get back to the writing, because after all, isn’t that why we’re here?

Jess is giving away a Salem’s Cipher and I’m giving away a Stripped Bare. Tell us your marketing advice or leave a comment for a chance to win. Comment before midnight MT, Saturday, August 6th.

But wait, there’s more!

If you order Salem's Cipher before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to salemscipher@gmail.com to receive a Salem short story and to be automatically entered in a drawing to win a 50-book gift basket mailed to the winner's home!

If you order Stripped Bare before September 6, 2016, you are invited to forward your receipt to katefoxstrippedbare@gmail.com to receive a Kate Fox short story and be entered for a book gift basket mailed to your home.

Pop on over to Pat Stoltey’s Blog tomorrow as we continue the—angels singingLourey/Baker Double Booked Tour. We’re going to sit back with a glass of wine and talk about all kinds of stuff.

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

Jessica (Jess) Lourey is best known for her critically-acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing "a splendid mix of humor and suspense." She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft's 2014 Excellence in Teaching fellowship, and leads interactive writing workshops all over the world. Salem’s Cipher, the first in her thrilling Witch Hunt Series, hits stores September 2016. Visit Jess at http://jessicalourey.com/

Shannon Baker is the author of the Nora Abbott mystery series from Midnight Ink, a fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder set in western landscapes of Flagstaff, AZ, Boulder, CO, and Moab, UT. Seconds before quitting writing forever and taking up competitive drinking, Shannon was nominated for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s 2014 Writer of the Year. Buoyed with that confidence, she acquired an agent who secured a multi-book contract with Tor/Forge. The first in the Kate Fox Mystery Series, Stripped Bare is set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, it’s been called Longmire meets The Good Wife. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com.