Conference Bookstore & Friday Author Signing Event

The Colorado Gold Conference Book Sale is a great way to promote yourself as an author and sell copies of your books. Not only are there over 400 attendees, the public is also invited to attend the Friday night book signing. Please spread the word to your friends and fans.

Sign up begins June 1st at 10:00 AM

Eligibility

There are two book sale opportunities at Colorado Gold:

1. The Conference Bookstore (Fri 1pm - Sun 2pm)
2. The Friday Author Signing Event (Fri 8-10pm)

Lots of people ask if they are eligible for the bookstore and signing on Friday. Here is a breakdown of who is eligible for both of these things:

Eligible for Bookstore:

  • Keynotes, Mentors, Special Guests, Presenters, and Panelists.
  • All RMFW Members, even if you're unable to attend the conference.

Eligible for Friday Night Author Signing:

  • Keynotes, Mentors, Special Guests, Presenters, and Panelists.
  • RMFW PAL members (Traditionally Published Author League)
  • RMFW IPAL members (Independently Published Author League)

For information on how to become a member of RMFW PAL or RMFW IPAL, click the links or locate the information under the menu above: About > Published Authors > IPAL or PAL Membership.

Ways to Participate in Friday Night Author Signing and/or Bookstore

  1. CONSIGNMENT (Bring your own books): 
    • New for 2017: If you choose to consign your books, this will be handled through RMFW. RMFW will pay you 85% of the selling price of your books sold. You will be responsible for bringing your own books and checking them in at the bookstore on Friday. If you are coming in from out of state and consigning, we have arranged for you to be able to ship your books to us ahead of time. Be sure to contact us to arrange this.
  2. ORDERED through WHO ELSE! BOOKS:
    • If you choose to have your books ordered and brought to conference by Who Else! Books, Nina and Ron Else are happy to order your books for the conference bookstore.

How Are Authors Chosen for the Friday Author Signing Event?

VIPs, Mentors and Special Guests, our Honored Guiding Member, and WOTY and IWOTY nominees are guaranteed a table at the Friday night book signing. We are currently working on the floorplan for the Friday night event. At the time of this writing, it appears we will have a total of 54 spaces for authors. Because space is limited, we are implementing a first-come, first-served sign-up for all other authors. There will be a proportionate amount of space allocated for IPAL and PAL members, based on their membership.

After the sign-up process, we will contact you personally to confirm the information you submitted about your books. We will also post the authors on the website in case emails don’t reach recipients. Also note that if there are any cancellations by those authors who were assigned a table, the next name on the waitlist will be chosen as a replacement.

When and How to Sign Up

Sign up begins June 1st at 10:00 AM and runs through July 15th at 11:59 PM (or until we are at capacity). You’ll fill out a form on the rmfw.org website, accessible from a link on the home page and conference page. The form will ask for the same information as in previous years. Make sure you complete the entire form.

Everyone who wants to be in the bookstore and signing must complete the form. Be prepared to provide the following information:

  • How you plan to participate: bookstore, Friday author signing, or both
  • Author information including your name, pen name, and email address
  • PAL/IPAL membership status and additional information about your eligibility
  • Information about each of your books for ordering and payment purposes
  • Whether you’re bringing books on consignment or prefer to have your books ordered
  • Any additional special instructions

Now mark your calendar! Return here to the RMFW website on June 1st and reserve your spot in the bookstore Friday author signing event. Because space is limited, we are implementing a first-come, first-served sign-up for all other authors. There will be a proportionate amount of space allocated for IPAL and PAL members, based on their membership.

Note to Presenters: If you plan to recommend any books on writing craft during your sessions, we appreciate your sending the titles to Nina of Who Else! Books at who_else@att.net. She will do her best to include your recommendations in the conference bookstore. And don’t forget to mention during your workshop that the bookstore has your suggestions in stock.

Correction: 5/8/17 - This blog was originally posted with language that stated books ordered through Who Else! Books would pay a percentage back to the authors. This was incorrect. Only consigned books will result in payments back to the authors. 

 

Mortality and the Writer

I just finished a book and went through my usual ritual of cleaning my office while mourning a little for the characters who have been such a large part of my life the last year. Now it’s time to start the next book. In the past, my first consideration would be the market: What book could I write now that I would have the best chance of getting published? What book is most likely to attract readers and earn me the most sales?

But I just hit a milestone birthday, and I realize I no longer think like that. All at once, I am keenly aware I have only a finite number of years left to write books. With time ticking away, I’m starting to think of my career as a legacy rather than a business concern. What do I want to be known for as a writer?

I am proud of my epic historical fantasy, but I’m not ready to return to the world of early Roman Britain. And then there is the fantasy series I dabbled with for three years. I would like to finish it, but my instincts tell me I still don’t have a vision of the story arc that I need to do justice to that tale. My Regency romances have sold the best, but I think as a writer my hallmark has been my dark age and medieval stories. The book I just finished is set in medieval times, and I really love the medieval world. And I have a proposal that’s been whispering to me ever since my trip to Wales last year.

So, I decided to heed that whisper and start writing it. I feel especially good about writing a book that connects to the last one. If there is one mistake I made throughout my career, it was bouncing around in different eras and worlds. This time I’m going to keep going in the same one. I want to finish a solid “series”.

That decision may seem pretty obvious. But in the past, I would probably have switched to a romance sub-genre that is popular now, like the Regency or Victorian eras. Or I would have tried to come up with a mystery since they seem to be selling well, even though I have no solid ideas in my head. In other words, I would have “written to the market”, instead of following my heart.

But I’ve decided it’s too late in my life not to follow my heart. When I first got published in my early 30’s, I was surrounded by authors who saw writing as a career and believed that part of being a professional was to write books that advanced your career. For several years I fought the urge to write what would sell and was indulged by my editor, who allowed me to make a lot of questionable career decisions. Then my career fell apart and I spent the next ten years chasing the elusive dream of recapturing what had been a promising career.

The last few years I’ve finally given up the dream. Not in a bitter, resentful way, but a calm resignation. And I’m in good company. I know few authors who are where they would have hoped to be when they started out, at least if it was ten or more years ago. But we keep writing because it feeds our souls. Because it is who we are.

The gift of age is knowledge and insight. The downside is the lack of time to use that knowledge. For all of you young writers out there, do what you must, but remember that writing time, like every aspect of our lives, is precious. Use it wisely.

Deep Work

This topic was suggested by Patricia Stolty, who recently stepped down as our blog administrator after years of hard work and dedication. She will be missed, but is moving on to focus on her own writing, so good luck Pat!

One of the challenges writers face, especially those just starting to focus on their writing over other professional pursuits, is sitting at the computer for such extended periods of time as it takes to churn out the roughly 60k-100k words to make a novel. They find themselves eager to answer the phone when it rings or leaping to read emails whenever the alert pops up at the bottom of their screen, or simply playing solitaire instead of writing. It's true, writing requires the ability to settle in a focus for considerable amounts of time. That is if you want to write more than a book every five years or so. For many, sitting still and typing for that long is an excruciating challenge.

Beep Work by Dr. Cal Newport"Deep work" is a term coined by Cal Newport, PhD., writer and professor, and the topic of his book of the same name. It refers to, in his words, "the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task." In his book, he talks about the ever shortening of the American attention span, all of the demands on our attention, and even the tendency of people to simply not attempt or to give up on activities that aren't almost immediately rewarding.

Dr. Newport explodes the myth of multitasking and offers studies and interviews showing how the most successful among us are able to focus and persevere in tasks before them in ways the rest of us rarely do. He shows how deep work can actually render more thorough and solid results, and in less time than splitting your attention between several activities at once.

Finally, he offers tools and techniques to exercise and develop your own ability to do deep work, to quit flitting around from one thing to the next without ever actually completing any one of them, to churn out deeper, more complete and satisfying work product than you've been able to before. Even if you are one of those able to focus for long periods, I think there is much to learn from Dr. Newport's book.

Look, I'm no fan of self-help books. I think many of them simply restate the obvious or that which is obvious to me, anyway, in creative ways so you feel like you're learning something new. Self-improvement, to me, falls into the category of diets - if you can't stick to it, it does you no good.

But this book, I think, offers some compelling arguments for learning and putting into practice the precepts it sets forth. At the very least it's worth a look.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

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

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

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

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

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

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

ClipartPanda.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Have What it Takes to Be a Fiction Writer in the Modern Age? A Quiz … by Tim Weed

Photo by Rachel Portesi

It requires a huge investment of time and years of immersion in the literary craft to write a viable novel or short story collection, and let’s face it: publishing these days is worse than a crapshoot. You may not find a publisher, and even if you do find one – or if you take the risky decision to self-publish – your painstakingly crafted literary opus may never reach a wider audience. It takes a special kind of person to voluntarily undertake such an ordeal, especially in the current cultural environment, where film and television and high-tech gaming, not books, appear to be the ascendant forms of narrative.

On the other hand, fiction meets basic human needs. You can’t get the same kind of transportation effect from a film or a video that you can from a novel or a story. Good fiction generates a connective electrical current; it creates a living interface between two minds, and in the process, it gives readers a personal stake in the creative process. Ernest Hemingway once wrote:

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”

The visceral, all-encompassing experience Hemingway put his finger on is why fiction isn’t going away any time soon. There will always be a demand for fiction, and there will always be opportunities, therefore, available to those who can master the art of writing to the extent that they can attract and inspire readers.

Do you have the unique combination of character traits it takes to be a fiction writer in the modern era? Take this handy quiz to find out. Rate yourself from 0-3 on the following character traits, with 0 for it doesn’t ring a bell at all, and 3 for it describes you to a tee.

1.  You’ve always had an overactive imagination. You are a dreamer who finds rich sources of distraction and spiritual nourishment within your own head.

2.  You’re more of an outsider/observer than a participant at the center of things. Fiction writers tend to be introverts: noticing, observing keenly, and ideally taking notes.

3.  You’re a voracious reader, and likely have been since you were very young. This should go without saying and is sine qua non for a fiction writer, but it’s amazing how many people try to do without it.

4.  Partly as a result of the above, you possess natural storytelling skills and an ingrained sensitivity for language.

5.  You’re comfortable with uncertainty and doubt. In other words, you have a capacity to dwell within what Keats called Negative Capability. You’re okay when things are not cut and dried; you don’t mind living “slant,” guided by your subconscious, in a state of constant mystery and not-quite-knowing.

6.  You’re arrogant and brash, at least some of the time. You don’t mind playing God if that’s what’s called for, and you’re impudent enough to create your own rules.

7.  On the other hand, you may be absent-minded or forgetful. Why is this important? It allows you to forget everything you’ve been told in workshops and read in craft books. It gives you a fresh ticket to re-inhabit your drafts as if you’re experiencing the story for the first time.

8.  You’re as self-motivated as the most successful entrepreneur, only unlike an entrepreneur you don’t care about money. You possess the sort of overdeveloped self-reliance you can call upon every single day to overcome the paralyzing inertia of knowing that no one, NO ONE, is waiting for you to finish your book.

9.  You have an advanced ability to lie to yourself. To get through the slog, you can tell yourself with a straight face—and really believe it—that this draft you’re working on this year is really, truly the final one. Guess what? It’s probably not. Also? It may never get published. Are you still willing to keep working on it?

10. You’re shockingly persistent. You write with grinding regularity and you read voraciously, like a writer, analyzing everything you read in ways that help you improve your fluency in the craft. You may have been born with it or you may have learned it, but in either case you have it in spades: jaw-clenching, invincible, damn the torpedoes persistence in the face of constant resistance, rejection, and failure.

If you scored less than 15, please find a different hobby. We hear model airplanes are fun. Also knitting.

If you scored between 16 and 24, you’ve got a chance at this, though you’ll have some difficult barriers to overcome. It’s a tough road. Are you sure you want to try it?

If you scored between 25 and 30, what the hell are you doing reading this? Get back to work!

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

Tim Weed’s first novel, Will Poole’s Island (2014), was named one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year. He​'​s the winner of Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction and Solas Best Travel Writing awards, and his work has appeared in Colorado Review, The Millions, Backcountry, Writer's Chronicle, and elsewhere.

Tim serves as a featured expert for National Geographic Expeditions and is the co-founder of the Cuba Writers’ Program. His new short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder and Fly Fishing (Green Writers Press), has been shortlisted for the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project, the Autumn House Press Fiction Prize, and the Lewis-Clark Press Discovery Award.​

Read more at Tim's website.​and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Coping with Rejection: a 12-Step Program

Rejection can take many forms. For some of us, it’s our short fiction being turned away by one magazine after another. For others, it’s agents rejecting our novels at the query letter, partial, or full manuscript stage. And if you go the indie route, it can rear its ugly head as poor sales or harsh (so harsh!) reviews.

Since we can’t get our work into readers’ hands without facing rejection at some point, we have to learn to deal with it. Follow these steps to build a healthy relationship with your own rejection monster.

1. Expect it.

Even before the rejection happens—while you’re writing, revising, sending your submissions out, or waiting for responses—remind yourself that rejection is inevitable. Start preparing yourself mentally. And when the rejection does come…

2. Acknowledge it.

Sometimes rejection bounces right off you; other times it punches you in the gut. It’s hard to admit that a two-sentence email from someone you’ve never met just made you crawl under your desk and weep (been there!), but it’s important to stop and think about those feelings. Why did you want this so badly? Why are you so disappointed? Remind yourself that it's okay to feel this way.

3. But don’t wallow.

Every rejection needs time to process those feelings—sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few days. But once you’ve unpacked your emotions, it’s time to let it go and get back to writing. No use crying over spilled ink.

4. Lean on other writers.

Commiserate with your critique partners and writer friends. Read the blogs and memoirs of published writers, who often share their own rejection experiences. Stephen King famously got so many rejection letters that the nail on his wall couldn’t hold them all. If he could go from that to being, well, Stephen King, there’s hope for you too.

5. But know that everyone’s journey is different.

Just because Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling, or your critique partner Bubba got a hundred rejections before their big break, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a hundred and one. Or two hundred. Or twenty-five. Or a thousand. Everyone’s journey is different, and your rejection count is no reflection of your quality as a writer. Because…

6. There are many reasons for rejection.

A rejection doesn’t mean your story sucks; it just means it wasn’t a good fit for that agent, editor, or reader at that time. Maybe it doesn’t mesh with the other stories she’s acquired for the next issue of her magazine. Maybe he’s currently representing something very similar to your book. And maybe they genuinely didn’t like your work—but that doesn’t mean none of the other seven billion people on the planet will.

7. Remember, it isn’t personal.

For whatever reason, this piece of writing didn’t work for this person. It’s as simple as that. No, they don’t hate you. No, they haven’t stuck your first page on the water cooler for their colleagues to laugh at. Don’t let your fragile writerly ego jump to the worst conclusion; give yourself the benefit of the doubt.

8. And it is personal.

Agents and editors have varying tastes just like us mere mortals. And because they get so many submissions, they have to genuinely love a manuscript before they add it to their already-full plate. They may like your work or think you’re a talented writer, but if this book doesn’t give them that glowing, choir-singing-in-the-background feeling, they don’t have time for it. That’s no fault of yours. You just have to keep submitting until you find someone who loves your book as much as you do.

9. When one door closes...

I know, I know, this isn't what your bruised ego wants to hear after suffering yet another rejection black eye. But it's true. Submitting your work is like dating: now that this agent/editor/magazine has rejected you, you're free to court others. It's only a matter of time before you find someone who really connects with your writing.

10. Learn from it.

Make the most of rejection by using it as a learning experience. If you get feedback with a rejection letter or one-star review, use it (or at least consider it). Next time you submit, that feedback could make the difference between a big fat No and a Yes, please!

11. Remember how far you’ve come.

Maybe you’d hoped to be agented/published/famous/obscenely wealthy by now. But where were you a year ago? Ten years ago? Landing a book deal or self-publishing a bestseller aren’t the only measures of progress on the writing journey. Reading, writing, revising, learning the craft, joining a critique group, going to conferences—that all counts as progress. Take some time to recognize what you have accomplished, rather than fixating on what you haven’t.

12. Stay brave.

Remember Step 1, Expect rejection? You knew what you were getting into before you typed your first sentence—and you still sent your baby out into the unforgiving world of publishing. That takes guts, so give yourself some credit. And don’t let the rejection scare you into not being brave next time.

How Busy is Too Busy?

For writers, and most other people, this is an individual question. How many things you work into your schedule, and how much time you choose to spend not writing, is predicated by your life and will never be like anyone else’s.

If you’re like Corrine O’Flynn, the coordinator for the Colorado Gold Conference, you must be working in your sleep in order to put together that massive, amazing event, take care of kids in all kinds of activities, work, keep up with social media, write…I’m tired just thinking about it.

For me, I hit that wall a lot earlier. The RMFW Annual Event with Traditional, Indie, and Self Publishing tracks, is coming up on the 29th (like, right now!) and I’ve been working a lot on it over the last couple of months. My day job has been very busy for the past year, even though everyone keeps saying it will slow down. My husband has been gone more than home lately for his job, leaving me to manage some of the things that are out of my comfort zone. I’m writing this at 4:00 a.m. on a Saturday, because I woke up at 2:00 and realized how many things are not done that need to be.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention anything about writing in that last paragraph? I did, and that’s the problem. It’s been all work and no write and it’s making Terri a very grumpy girl. I’m looking at the weather and know that it’s time to get the garden ready, massacre the already-prolific weeds, and generally get the yard in shape before it gets out of control, so I find myself looking at this tunnel of yuck when I want to be looking at my WIP.

After I submit this blog, I plan to drag out my calendar and start scheduling myself – you know, that thing where you put stuff on your calendar today so you can move or delete it tomorrow when you realize life got in the way again. But at least I’m going to try, because Colorado Gold is coming up and I want to submit for the contest, I just found out I’ll be presenting again this year, and I really, really want to have at least one story submitted to the Anthology. Not to mention I need to enter all the edits I made on the hard copy of my most recent Bad Carma manuscript.

If any of you have found the magic bullet (not you Corrine – you must have cheated and got a clone or two made of you!) that allows you to keep on task for your writing, and get everything else you need to get done, please shoot me with it. I’m sure there are lots of you out there who are like me. What do you do to help keep on track?

Hope to see you all in Golden on the 29th, but no matter where you are, Write On!

The Big Wait: What to do when you have nothing to do

So here we are. As of the writing of this post, I've found myself in a strange place. Limbo, some call it. That place of infinite waiting caught inexorably between supposed and longed for happiness, and that of dejection, unrequited feelings of elation and acceptance. "But Josh," you may say, as I place these words in your mouth by way of my head, "These other places, are they heaven and hell?" "You might think that," I replay with a reverent whisper, definitely not talking to myself in this dark and lonely room. "But, no. For these places are known well among our kind. They are: Published, and unpublished."

DUN, DUN, DUH!

I know, right? Never saw that coming.

So, okay. I may have gone a little overboard there, so perhaps I should move onto the actual point of this post as it reflects my own current state of affairs in my writing career in a way you might find useful. The Big Wait, referring to the period of time as you wait for your manuscript, sent out by your agent, to be picked up by an editor for a publishing deal. It really is a sort of limbo, biblical references and spirituality aside. So here I sit, thumb firmly up...somewhere. Why? Because I'm waiting. Waiting to see what happens next with my book as publishers pour over it, judging it, and probably saying mean spirited things about it like the cool girls in highs school. Sigh. So I continue to wait, the fate of this thing I've spent far too many uncertain hours stressing over. And so the question remains...what do I do now?

Now, this isn't some personal existential crisis, but a real thing, easily applicable to other similar situations during your writing career, such as: After you've finished a draft on a novel. After you've queried agents and are waiting for a response. While your agent reads and re-reads your novel, giving you suggestions for changes. And, my current rent-free apartment in hell, while you're waiting to hear back from publishers to see if you will finally receive the external validation you so desperately, and perhaps foolishly, crave in the form of a publishing contract. So...now that you've got all this time, what now? Well, here's a few things you can do in that terrifying meantime:

Start a new project:

I think this one explains itself. Don't sit on hind quarters, waiting for your one little baby to sprout its wings and fly as only a mother knows it can. Do something! Write the next book in that series. Write the first book in a new series. Write a short story. A novella. Anything! The sky is the metaphorical limit in the finite ways the publishing industry works.

Take a break from writing:

Some people might disagree with this one, but I find it useful. Sometimes you just get burnt out. This can be especially true after completing a big project. Don't let yourself drown ever so slowly in the white hot mud of mental exhaustion. Not cool, bro! Take a break. Don't think about writing...if that's possible. Do something (and this is key)...else! Find something that completely absorbs your mind that isn't writing related. Then come back fresh and ready to burn the sweet smelling oils of midnight.

Read (many) something(s):

Books. Fiction. Non-fiction. Play a video game (with good writing). This blog (ha!). So, ya know. There's a lesson there...somewhere. Writers read. So do it.

Attend a conference:

Conferences are great for people in all different phases of their writing careers. Beginning. Middle...not middle. Whatever. Attend a conference. Learn some things. Meet some people. Have drinks. Comport yourself in the ways of a fool. I hear Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers throws a pretty mean conference (Teehee)! Check it out.

All of the above:

There you have it. Laid out all nice and neat, and possibly even semi-presentable. As craftsmen (and craftswomen), we have a lot of tools in our belts. Or purses...or knap-sacks, or fanny-packs, or handkerchiefs dangling from the ends of our hobo sticks. And it's our job to utilize them to keep our writing (and ourselves) sharp. So if you're in a similar spot as me, don't just wait around slowly strangling yourself in the brittle spider-webs of solitary hope, uncertainty, and self-loathing. DO. SOMETHING. ELSE. Now get to it.

 

Spring! Time for cloud-watching!

Puffy white cyber-sites feed creativity

Ah, spring—longer days, warmer temperatures. I strive to invest my BICHOK (butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard) time daily, but there are times my brain wants to get off the gerbil wheel of word quotas and plots and marketing, and put in some time just staring at the clouds.

There are “clouds” of sorts on the internet, not those storage sites, but sites that re-charge the brain. I visit those that provide inspiration, little bursts that refresh me after a good writing session.

Here are some I’ve enjoyed. Slip into your hammock, look to the sky, and enjoy!

http://lauradavis.net/category/prompts  Author Laura Davis offers prompts that let you mine veins of gold from your own experiences. Here’s a sample:

     Tell me about a time you found the courage or necessity to express yourself from the deepest part of you—a time you truly showed your soul.

Answering questions of this depth can help you discover and/or clarify your author’s mission statement, and help you find your writer’s “true north.”

http://inkygirl.com/  If you’re having a bad day, set your timer for fifteen minutes and drop by Ohi’s website. She authors and illustrates children’s books, but she also creates cartoons about the writing life that resonate and make you laugh out loud. After reading a few of them, you will not take yourself so seriously, which makes for a much more fruitful and creative you.

http://marthaalderson.com/what-motivates-you-to-keep-writing/  Alderson has a wealth of tips to help you become and stay productive and motivated. I listed the motivation blog because it seems like a real spring topic—the beginning of a new season, and the wonderful promise of spring.

thestorystarter.com  This website generates over 39 billion story starters. Like many generators, it can trigger more than just a story. It can provide a setting for your next scene. Trigger an idea for a secondary character. Help you decide on a dominant emotion for your next scene. It beats letting Facebook suck you into its rabbit hole, and its wild randomness helps loosen the rusty hinges in your mind. A sample: The brilliant Olympic gymnast painted a portrait in an abandoned toy store during the hurricane.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-387  Brewer offers prompts for poetry, a wonderful way to “clear the palate” and digest one delicious word at a time. It’s a chance to re-discover the power of the right word, the right combination of words, and the beauty of cadence.

http://www.hughhowey.com/eyes-like-hers/  Described as one of indie publishing’s great successes by Writer’s Digest, Howey tracks his lessons learned through both self- and traditional publishing. I apologize ahead of time for this, but the story’s too beautiful to overlook. The power of a short story—it inspires me to dig deep, to get the emotions on the page.

Last one:

http://www.fantasynamegenerators.com/book-title-generator.php#.WMWzoclzU5s

Book title generator that covers several genres. Beware—it will entertain you for much longer than the allotted fifteen minute “cloud-watching” session, so set your phone to bring you back to earth.

Did you like these? Do you have some sites to share? RSVP, and happy cloud-watching! --Janet

 

Master Classes and Special NLA Story Clinic at Colorado Gold

Greetings from Conference HQ!

We're putting the final polish on the brochure and at-a-glance (AAG) schedule and will have that online very soon. But until then, feast your eyes on the Friday Master Class offerings we have for you this year!

In addition to our fabulous master classes, we are very excited to offer a special Master Class Intensive on Saturday:

The Nelson Literary Agency Story Clinic.

Looking to dig deep and expand your learning at conference? We've worked to put together classes that cover a range of topics taught by excellent instructors with the aim to have something for everyone. Each class is four hours in length and provides more specialized instruction on writing, story development, and the business of being an author. This year’s classes are scheduled for Friday morning and, based on attendee feedback surveys, we've added a Saturday session to the schedule as well.

The fee to attend a master class is $60. Space is limited!

Check out this year's lineup:

MFA in Half a Day: Your Guide to Artful Prose | Angie Hodapp
Writers tend to think that artful prose belongs solely to the realm of literary fiction—that writers of genre fiction need only concern themselves with matters of story craft: plot, structure, character arc, pacing, and so on. Not true! For agents, a great disappointment is a manuscript that scores high on all the elements of story craft but falls flat in narrative style. This master class is all about what genre writers can learn from their literary cousins. Come prepared to write! Learn various poetic and literary devices and practice applying them to your prose, from simple sentences to complex scenes. How can description be used to make meaning? How can voice be used to support theme? And, most importantly, how can you develop a personal writing style that leaves a lasting impression on your reader?

Self-Publish Like a Pro | David Gaughran
Out of the three main tasks an author has – writing, publishing, and marketing – publishing is the most straight-forward, and this masterclass will prove that. It will cover the current state of the industry, delve into the incredible new opportunities that exist for writers today, and also teach you how to self-publish like a pro. You will learn: *How to find an editor, cover designer, and formatter, and how to put the package together professionally. *Pitfalls you must avoid as a writer in the digital age, and how to spot scammers. *Building a readership: Facebook, blogging and Twitter don’t really sell books. We’ll cover what does. The class will also cover common myths, piracy, and the biggest mistakes self-publishers make (and how to avoid them). We'll finish by looking at the marketing strategies of successful self-publishers, and how they have taken over a third of the US e-book market.

Deep Character Building: Analyze, Traumatize, Accessorize & Eulogize Your Character | Chris Mandeville
Your characters are the heart of your story. If you want them to capture the hearts of readers, you need to know them deeply and personally, and be able to convey their richness on the page. This hands-on, writing-intensive master class enables you to dive deep into the history and personality of one character. It can be a protagonist, antagonist, mentor, love interest--any character you want to explore and expand. You'll do four exercises: analyzing, traumatizing, accessorizing, and eulogizing this character. Then we'll explore how to use this information in your story to allow readers to know and understand your character. We'll also look at how you can use what you've learned to build a strong arc for this character. You'll leave the class with exercises and techniques you can use to enrich and enhance any character.

B.A.M!: Crafting Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction with the Book Architecture Method | Stuart Horwitz
It’s the age-old battle between the outliners and the pantsers – those who meticulously script every writing session, and those who pilot solely by feel. Finding your unique approach requires a method rather than a formula. The Book Architecture Method has helped bestselling writers transform their messy manuscripts into polished books. Accomplished and aspiring writers alike will learn the secrets of how to painlessly create a complex narrative such as: • what “plotting” actually means, and why there isn’t one narrative arc but several • how to make sure your book has one “theme” – and one theme only • how to separate your work into scenes and use this disassembly to diagnose what’s going wrong with your manuscript • the secret to why some narratives feel like they are all coming together at an emotional pay-off while others do not. This workshop will introduce writers to a process for organization and revision that includes in-depth exercises. This workshop assumes nothing of a writer’s previous knowledge of technique, nor how much of their manuscript is complete.

Deep Revisions: Making the Good Even Better | Heather Webb
It’s easy to get tangled in our stories while editing. Often we lose hours, months, even years, never knowing if we’re truly finished. In this session, learn how to navigate the three major components to effective editing: the emotional, the organizational, and the mechanical (craft). Attendees will discover when to battle on or to call in help—or when to move on. They will also walk away with concrete tips of how to streamline their process, use betas to the best advantage, and fine-tune specific aspects of their craft. The class is a hands-on approach through exercises as well as examining samples from expert writers. Attendees should bring two copies of the same five-page sample from their manuscript as well.

How to Write a Series that Sells | Susan Spann
Whether you want to write a series or already have one under way, come learn to write--and improve--your series world with multi-published mystery author Susan Spann. Topics include creating a realistic 'series world;' believable protagonists, foils, and villains; plotting the 'series arc' and more! This class examines the series as a whole. Hour 1: establishing a 'series world' and building it effectively. Hour 2: creating protagonists, believable foils, and other supporting characters. Hour 3: 'plotting the larger series through' -Including both overarching series arcs and the arcs for each individual novel. Hour 4: continuity, keeping the details straight, how to weave secondary characters through various novels within the series without creating gaps.

Special Master Class Intensive:
The Nelson Literary Agency Story Clinic | Kristin Nelson, Danielle Burby, Angie Hodapp, James Persichetti
Limit: 12, Register by July 15
Join Nelson Literary Agency for this intensive story clinic designed to help you step back from your prose and turn your premise into a solid plot: Do you have a clear “what-if” premise and story question? Is your novel structured so that it makes promises in the first half that you deliver on in the second? Is character conflict driving your plot, and in the right direction? Do story events progress logically, plausibly, and with clear motivation? Can you identify your major turning points? Is your story idea unique enough to stand out in the marketplace while still delivering on tropes readers of your genre expect? In preparation for this session, each attendee will submit a 750-1,000-word synopsis for a story idea—one you're working on, stuck on, or unsure how to develop. Include specific questions or frustrations you have about your story idea. Manuscripts do not need to be complete. You’ll read and critique each attendee's synopsis ahead of time—not on its merits as a piece of writing, but on the story idea it presents—and be prepared to discuss with the NLA team what works, what doesn’t, and what it will take for each author to take their stories to the next level.