Less Than a Month Until Conference Registration Opens

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_getreadyforregCan you believe it? There’s less than a month before registration opens for the 2016 Colorado Gold Conference.

In this month’s conference post we want to let you know about a few new events along with a reminder about our usual programming. Some events are free and others are paid add-ons with limited space.

Make sure you register early to take full advantage of everything the Colorado Gold Conference has to offer.

New! Blue Pencil Café with Keynote Speaker Robert J. Sawyer
Meet with keynote speaker and best-selling author Robert J. Sawyer for a 15-minute Blue Pencil Cafe. Bring up to four pages from your manuscript for a cold read, if you wish. Or use your one-on-one session with Robert to ask questions and receive advice about your work or publishing in general. Space is limited.

One-on-One Critique with Keynote Speaker Ann Hood
Schedule a critique session with keynote speaker and best-selling author Ann Hood. During your one-on-one session, Ann will provide a personalized critique of your work-in-progress. Space is limited. Submit 10 pages by July 1, 2016.

One-on-One Critique with Freelance Editors
Freelance editors Jessica Morrell and Jeff Seymour are available for a limited number of one-on-one critique sessions. This is a excellent opportunity to find out what it’s like to work with a professional editor. Or, if you’re having issues with your work in progress, they can help you get over the hump. Submit 10 pages by July 1, 2016.

One-on-One Pitch Sessions
Every attendee may register for one free 10-minute pitch appointment with an attending agent or editor. At the time you register, you may choose three acquiring agents/editors. We then do our best to schedule your pitch session with your first choice of agent/editor. You will receive your pitch appointment in your registration materials when you arrive at conference. If you are missing your appointment or unhappy with your assigned agent/editor, see the pitch scheduling volunteers to resolve any conflicts. Additional pitch appointments are also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you check in 5 to 10 minutes before your pitch.

One-on-One Pitch Coaching Sessions
Many authors have written great work, but they don’t know how to convey their concepts in a short, intriguing pitch. Or maybe the idea of attending a pitch session scares you to death. If this sounds familiar, add pitch coaching to your registration. Susan Spann and Heather Webb are back by popular demand and are joined this year by Angie Hodapp. Schedule a Friday afternoon session with one of these ladies to practice your pitch. A fifteen-minute session will help tighten and pump up your pitch before your appointment with an agent/editor. These sessions are only $40 and well worth the increased chances you’ll be asked to submit pages.

Agent/Editor Critique Round Tables
These round table critique sessions are monitored by an attending agent or editor. Sessions are offered Friday morning and afternoon, and tables are open to 8 critique participants and 2 auditors. If you register as a critique participant, you will submit the first ten pages of your manuscript, plus a one-page synopsis of your story, to be critiqued by the agent/editor of your choice as well as by the other participants at your table. If you register as an auditor you will only observe; you will neither submit pages nor offer critiques to participants. Participants will receive further instructions once their registration is confirmed. These sessions are a $40 add on. Deadline to register and submit pages is July 15, 2016.

Master Classes
Master classes are back this year and expanded for more offerings. These classes are four hours in length and provide more specialized instruction on writing and the business of being an author. This year’s classes are scheduled for Friday morning and, based on attendee feedback surveys, we're adding a Saturday morning and afternoon class as well. The fee to attend a master class is $60. Space is limited.

NEW! Hook Your Book Sessions
We all spend countless hours perfecting our book summary for the cover copy, online bookstores, and query letter because first impressions count. Without a hook, a reader will pass your book by. That’s why we’ve added a new event to this year’s conference. Hook Your Book is a free thirty-minute opportunity to run your book summary by two experts in your genre. In fact, it’s a little like speed-dating for your book. During conference registration, you’ll request a Hook Your Book session and will be asked for a genre preference. When you check in at conference, your envelope will contain a Hook Your Book appointment. Check with the scheduling volunteers if you have a scheduling conflict and need to reschedule. Additional Hook Your Book appointments may also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you check in 5 to 10 minutes prior to your appointment.

NEW! Mentor Room
This year we've added a room for one-on-one mentor sessions with an industry expert. Book 20 minutes of coaching on things like your cover copy, query letter, a specific scene in your work in progress, publicity, and marketing. The Mentor Room is also open to ask legal questions or make other publishing inquiries. We will have more information about this event in next month’s conference blog post along with a list of scheduled experts. As this is a new program, we're making appointments available for $25 each. Book early, appointments will be limited.

Birds of a Feather Genre Chat
Back by popular demand! Birds of a Feather sessions are an opportunity for authors to gather and discuss trends, challenges, and other opportunities specific to the genre in which they write. This year we have a room devoted to Birds of a Feather sessions all day Saturday and Sunday morning. At the time of this blog, this year’s confirmed Birds of a Feather genre chats include mystery/suspense, romance, western, horror, science fiction/fantasy, young adult, and historical fiction. Sessions are open to all attendees, so get there early to make sure you get a seat to take part in the discussion.

NEW! Post-Panel Book Signing
There will be signing table outside the bookstore this year. Authors who are also presenters will be available to answer questions and sign their books for a short time after the completion of their session. Authors will also be at the table in the morning, during the lunch break, and before evening meals.

Professional Headshots
Schedule a 10-minute photo shoot with photographer Mark Stevens, RMFW volunteer and owner of a Denver-based communications firm. Mark takes thousands of pictures every year for a variety of clients. We are lucky to have him conduct photo shoots for us again this year. Schedule a casual session during the conference or pre-banquet (in your fancy duds). The price for a photo shoot is $40 and includes photo editing and large-size files for all your publicity needs. Expect delivery within two weeks following conference. Appointments will be limited, so sign up early.

Workshops & Panels
As usual, we have an amazing lineup of workshops and panels. Improve your writing skills, learn about publishing options, better your marketing plan, and more. You’re sure to leave this year’s Colorado Gold Conference with a brightened outlook on your career.

Lastly, we want to mention that the Conference Brochure and At-A-Glance will be available soon on the Conference Page. The Conference Page is the hub for all information about pricing, keynote speakers, agents, editors, special guests, and other important information about conference. It is updated regularly.

If you have any questions about conference, email us at conference@rmfw.org.

Hook Your Book at the Colorado Gold Conference

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_hookyourbookWriting a good book summary for a cover, online bookstore, or query letter is both challenging and frustrating. After all, summarizing your book in 150-200 words seems like an impossible feat. We all spend countless hours perfecting our book summaries because first impressions count, and you can easily lose a reader or agent in just two short sentences. Without a hook, a reader will pass your book by.

That’s why we’ve added a new event to this year’s conference. Hook Your Book is a free thirty-minute opportunity to run your book summary by two experts in your genre.

How does Hook Your Book work? During conference registration, you’ll have the option to sign up for both a Free Pitch and a Hook Your Book session. When you check in at conference, your envelope will contain appointments for the free events you chose.

Show up at your scheduled time with your already-prepared book summary on paper, a mobile device, or off the tip of your tongue. This is where Hook Your Book is a little like speed-dating for your book. You’ll have approximately 12 minutes with each of the two experts in your genre to discuss the description for your book (or story portion of your query letter). When you’re done, you’ll leave with valuable tips to perfect your book summary.

Get ready! There’s six months before conference to revisit the description of one of your books and get it ready for this new event. In case you need a few tips, we asked RMFW PAL and IPAL members for advice on writing book descriptions. Here’s some valuable advice to get you started:

Get a punchy log line. Just a few words to attract the reader.

Tell what the story is about. Your goal is to hook the reader into grabbing a sample. Use present tense and lay out just enough bait to convince them.

Let the sample sell the story.

Nathan Lowell
Quarter Share
nathanlowell.com

__________

Just the facts comes to mind when I think of blurb writing. Not in the strict sense for that would be one boring blurb, but keeping to the main problem your book solves, whether that’s a relationship between two people, man against wild, or how to get blood stains out of murder weapons. Then, of course, make sure the blurb keeps to the voice of the book. Otherwise, as a reader, I am disappointed when I start reading the book that doesn’t live up to the blurb voice or saddened that I missed out because the blurb didn’t do it justice.

J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
The Lady in Pink
Jakazimer.com

__________

I’m fairly formulaic and specific in my queries, and it must work okay because the approach has sold three novellas and five novels. I start with the protagonist’s name and position in their world before the precipitating crisis. This is the most important sentence because it also sets motivation, gives a taste of the world, and introduces a bit of voice. Then comes the “But when” statement that describes the event that Changes Everything and introduces the antagonist. After that things get a little looser, but I use specific plot events that I think are particularly interesting and powerful rather than giving an overarching explanation. The rest of the paragraph includes the protagonist’s reaction, which includes some motivation; how the antagonist makes it worse; another reaction; and I wrap on how the antagonist makes things much, much worse. In other words, I end on a cliffhanger. I love writing queries!

Betsy Dornbusch
Books of the Seven Eyes Trilogy
betsydornbusch.com

__________

The book blurb and the query letter each serve as an introduction to your writing. They are your first and best opportunities to whet the appetite. Brevity, a well-turned phrase, and a soupcon of humor all signal to the reader that more of the same awaits her. A bread basket is nice, but serve the reader caviar and she'll stick around for the main course.

C. Joseph Greaves
Tom & Lucky and George & Cokey Flo (Bloomsbury)
chuckgreaves.com

In addition, one of the best ways to learn to write an irresistible book description is to browse online bookstores. Look for stories in your genre. What attracts your attention? What makes you cringe? Don’t start with a brag about book sales and bestseller status right off the bat.

Remember that some mobile devices show four or five lines of an abbreviated description. Readers only want insight into your story. They won’t tap to reveal the remainder of the summary unless you capture their attention at a glance.

It is our hope that this new event will help you improve your book summary, agent response rate, and book sales. No matter who your audience, your goal is to get your book noticed, and a reader or agent won’t read your description twice.

How to Make the 2016 Conference Even Better . . . Volunteer

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_volunteersEveryone involved with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is familiar with our mission:

RMFW is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization dedicated to supporting, encouraging, and educating writers seeking publication in commercial fiction.

As a ‘volunteer-run organization’ RMFW can only remain beneficial to members through our volunteers’ contributions. Volunteers strengthen our community and nurture an environment of members helping members.

From my time with RMFW, I've learned volunteering is more rewarding for the volunteer than the organization. I've learned how to find and build my community. I've learned how to speak in public, organize big events and, from hanging out with talented writers, I've learned much about writing. RMFW has helped me find my voice, both in the real world and on the page.

Vicki Law
RMFW President

The Colorado Gold Conference’s success is dependent on the critical services provided by our volunteers. They keep our costs down, and even the smallest jobs help us provide an exceptional experience for all attendees year after year.

The more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it. I credit RMFW as the one organization above all others that helped me get published. My first attendance at the Gold conference thoroughly impressed me, and I knew then that RMFW was the place to be if I was serious about my writing. Volunteering was a way of showing my commitment to the organization and a great way to meet people. I figured that the experienced members would take me more seriously if I gave of my time to support RMFW. I initially volunteered as the Education Chair, then served as Vice-President and as President. I’ve never been accused of being the shy type but if you’re an introvert, serving as a volunteer is a wonderful way of stepping outside your shell.

Mario Acevedo
Anthology Chair
Rescue From Planet Pleasure, Urban Fantasy

Volunteering is all about giving back. Remember when you were new and nervous at the conference? Think about the people who helped you. Think about the impact they had on your conference experience. By volunteering you bring that same experience to others. A satisfying feeling in the end for you the volunteer.

Why do I volunteer? I'll give you the altruistic and honest answers. As writer I have benefited from what I have learned at the Saturday workshops, Gold Conference and critique groups and I wanted to a way to give back. Honestly, I've met great people who have become valued friends and I have had a ton of fun.

Kevin Wolf
New Conference Attendee Liaison
The Home Place; A Mystery
www.kevinwolfstoryteller.com

What would the conference be like without volunteers? Everyone at conference needs something, be it guidance or just an extra pencil. Volunteers bring people together and ensure that everyone has a great time.

First and foremost, meeting other writers is a great benefit to volunteering. It's a good feeling, too, to know that the volunteer work we do helps other writers on their journeys. The GOLD conference is an important part of what RMFW does to support writers and helping the conference run smoothly results in a more valuable experience for everyone!

Rene Zimbelman
Publicity Chair
Miserably Happy, Women's Fiction, available soon.

Studies conducted on the effects of volunteering have shown that giving time to nonprofits makes us healthier. Boost your own self-confidence through volunteering at this year’s conference. With a sense of well-being you’ll have a greater focus on learning.

I volunteer for RMFW for a couple of reasons. Chiefly, I want to give back to an organization that has helped me become a better writer. From the critique groups, to the free Saturday programs and even the yearly conference, my writing skills have improved because of my membership in RMFW. In addition, being a volunteer allows me to expand my tribe. I am convinced that to be good at anything, you need to be around other people who do that skill better than you. Volunteering for RMFW allows me to meet pros like Betsy Dornbusch, Susan Spann, Aaron Michael Ritchey, & Christine Jorgensen. If you want to grow in the craft of writing, don't just join RMFW, volunteer!

Jason Henry Evans
Online Clases & Conference Volunteer
Co-author, I Am Hathor, Caped Anthology

Volunteering in general promotes personal growth, and your volunteer service counts as professional experience. You are guaranteed to learn something new while you give your time.

I initially got involved with RMFW for a few reasons. I wanted to find a critique group, I wanted to learn craft and become a better writer, and I wanted to meet like-minded people. I have a passion for education, and conference was a natural progression.

Susie Brooks
RMFW Retreat Chair
Editor in Chief at Literary Wanderlust

Need an opportunity to come out of your shell and improve your social skills? If you don’t know many writers, volunteering at conference gives you an opportunity to meet people at a reduced stress level.

Without the support of RMFW, and the friends I've made there, I'm not sure I would be a published author today. Attending the conference is fabulous from an educational perspective, but if you want to make the most of the time, and make more friends, you need to get involved. Volunteering takes you off the sidelines and helps even shy people get to know the other authors and participants much better.

Susan Spann
2015 Writer of the Year
Flask of the Drunken Master, Mystery

Anytime is the right time to volunteer for RMFW because we always need volunteers. We are one big community of writers helping writers. The more involved you are in our community the more you will receive in return.

Volunteering is an excellent way to meet people and expand your network of writers. You'll discover that writers come from all paths and roads and freeways of life--the creative mind knows no limits. Volunteering is also a way to share your passion in a different way, and give back to an organization that offers so much to every person who asks for support or assistance. Whether you spend a few hours once a year, or a few hours every month, volunteers are cherished and appreciated at RMFW, and you'll feel the goodness.

Wendy Terrien
RMFW Secretary
The Rampart Guards, YA Urban Fantasy

We want your help, but before you join us, ask yourself what you want to get out of volunteering:

  • What skills do you bring to the table?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • Are you looking to do something new and different?
  • Do you want to work behind the scenes or with people?
  • Would you like to try something outside your comfort zone?

Now CLICK HERE to become a 2016 Colorado Gold volunteer, or contact Pam Nowak at volunteer@rmfw.org to volunteer for other positions.

7 Reasons to Teach at a Writers Conference

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_7reasonsWorkshop proposal submissions for the Colorado Gold Conference opened January 1st and we’ve already received quite a few excellent proposals.

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.

Saturday Panel 8It’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.

Saturday Workshop 2It 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 Self-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.

Mario Acevedo and someone else leading a workshopIt 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.

Anthology, Workshops, the Blog

Don't Forget the RMFW Anthology

Theme: FOUND. Sometimes things are better off lost. And sometimes they were never meant to disappear. Either way, when they're found, everything changes.

Submissions opened January 1st at midnight and close February 29th at 11:59 PM. Contact Mario Acevedo, Anthology Editor at anthology@rmfw.org with questions. Or go directly to the RMFW website Anthology page for more information.

January Denver Workshop

Exploring YA: Trends, High Concept and You

ColleenOakesPresented by Colleen Oakes
Saturday, January 9, 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Anythink Wright Farms Library
5877 E. 120th Ave., Thornton, CO 80602
MEMBERS & NON-MEMBERS WELCOME
No RSVP Required

January Western Slope Program

Published Author Panel (Self/Indie/Traditional/Hybrid):
Saturday, January 16, 2016
More information at the RMFW website Western Slope program page.

In this interactive panel of published authors from all types of publishing (James VanPelt, Jan Weeks and Cindy Myers), the panelist will answer a set of specific questions that will provide information on how each type of publishing works. The audience will also have the opportunity to ask questions of their own about the types of publishing and based on their particular situation.

And Don't Forget About Those Conference Proposals.

You'll read more about that on Monday here at the RMFW blog. In the meantime, visit the member section of the website for the proposal submission form.

The Blog

Are you visiting the RMFW blog on a regular basis? Our team of contributors and guest authors work hard to produce educational and humorous posts about writing and the writing life to add to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers member experience. We feature spotlight interviews with board members so you know who's who. The two most recent past presidents, Mark Stevens and Pam Nowak, are regular contributors along with Mary Gillgannon, Kevin Tracy, Julie Kazimer, Jeffe Kennedy, Jeanne Stein, Robin Owens, Kerry Schafer, Susan Spann, Liesa Malik, Janet Lane, Terri Benson, and Aaron Ritchey.

And we have openings for guest posts from members, published and unpublished. You can contact co-editors Pat Stoltey and Julie Kazimer using the blog@rmfw.org email address if you're interested.

What Makes a Winning Conference Proposal?

Conference Prep Chalkboard

During preparations for Colorado Gold last year, I had the opportunity to sit on the committee that selected which workshop and discussion panel proposals would be chosen for conference.

This was my first time taking part in the selection process, and I came away with several tidbits that I thought would be useful for would-be presenters who are thinking about submitting a proposal for future conferences.

First off, a tiny bit of conference workshop trivia from 2015:

  • We had nearly 200 proposals submitted for workshops and panels.
  • 79 workshops and panels were ultimately scheduled, with a handful of these being reserved for Agent and Editor Workshops, Special Guest Classes, and Classes by our Keynote Speakers.

A lot of consideration and planning goes into the selection process on the part of the committee and then by the conference chair(s). Our goal is to ensure we are providing the widest range of classes to suit writers at every level of their career from beginning writers to published authors. As publishing continues to evolve, so will the types of workshops and panels at conference.

During the proposal selection process, the committee focused on the proposed topic as well as the proposal itself. Knowing that your proposal will be one among many, it's worth your time to make sure it showcases your workshop in the best possible way. When putting your proposal together for submission, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your topic specific, fresh, and unique? Conference will always seek proposals on writing craft basics, best practices, how to, and industry standards, but if your proposal comes off as run-of-the-mill during the proposal process, what does that say about your class? There are many ways to talk about outlining, character development, queries, marketing, and publishing as a whole, but if your topic feels stale, it simply won't stand out.
  • Is your topic relevant to the industry's current climate? Publishing is changing at a rapid pace, and authors are savvy to what's going on. If you've presented on this topic before, how have you updated your class to keep it fresh?
  • Is your topic positive in nature? One of the goals of Colorado Gold is to pump up our attendees and fill them with the knowledge and information they need to face their writing with a fresh attitude and renewed excitement. A workshop or class that is geared toward the negative or focuses solely on what not-to-do will have the opposite effect.
  • Have you taught before? It's perfectly fine if this is your first proposal and your first time teaching. We welcome fresh talent! But make sure you share your credentials so the committee can see that you're the perfect person to teach a class on your proposed topic. Also, be sure to include enough content in your description and outline so it's clear you know your subject and are prepared to teach the material. This goes for experienced presenters who are teaching a new course for the first time.
  • Are you submitting a proposal for a discussion panel? How do you plan to engage the audience? How do you plan to moderate the discussion? Have you listed all of the speakers? What topics will you discuss that will provide insights to attendees they can use? Is your topic so broad it lacks clarity? So narrow as to limit its appeal? Is your panel audience-focused? A panel heavy with self-promotion won't appeal to attendees who are looking for usable knowledge to apply to their own writing careers.
  • Does your proposal indicate concrete knowledge or skills?  What do you plan to share with your audience that they can take away and apply to their writing? Be detailed so that the committee can understand what attendees will learn in your workshop or panel.
  • Does your proposal clearly state your audience?  Is it for Beginner, Intermediate, Professional level writers? For everyone? Is it for published or pre-published writers? If it's geared toward already-published writers, does the content pertain to traditionally published, indie, or both? Does the content of your outline match the expected track level?
  • Is your outline detailed enough without being too detailed? If you submit an outline for your two-hour workshop that contains a handful of five bullet points and no supporting detail, it will seem as though you don't have enough content to fill your time slot. Conversely, if your outline for your one-hour workshop is fifteen pages single-spaced, it will seem as though you might not have a firm grasp on your subject matter or enough time to present all the material. Find a balance that allows you to show what you'll cover, how it will flow, how long it will take, and what attendees will take away.
  • Is your outline well organized?  A well-planned outline is easy to spot. It shows the main topic, the sub-topics in the order you plan to present them, and shares a bit of the direction your class will take. An organized outline indicates a solid grasp of subject knowledge and information flow, which results in a class attendees will be glad they attended.
  • Have you proofread your proposal and provided all the information requested? This might seem like a no-brainer, but think about it. Just like a resume, your proposal represents you during this process. Typos and errors reflect poorly on your proposal. You want to give the selection committee every reason to choose yours over another proposal. Do yourself a favor and submit your best possible proposal.

What are we looking for? If you have something that you think will be of interest to the attendees at RMFW Colorado Gold, we invite you to submit your proposals regardless of topic. Based on feedback from our conference attendee surveys, attendees have requested workshops and panels on the following subjects:

Writing Craft

  • Character Development, Character Arcs
  • How to Write a Beginning
  • Plotting Stories and Series
  • Genre-specific Tropes: Dos and Don'ts
  • Pacing
  • Writing Diversity: Other Cultures, Other Abilities, LGBTQ

Author Business & Professional Level

  • Marketing & PR
  • Networking: How-to, Strategies, New Avenues, What's Coming
  • Managing Financials, Taxes, Accounting, Best Practices
  • Contracts for Traditional and Indie Published Authors, Dos and Don'ts
  • Author Events, Public Speaking, Book Signings, Best Practices
  • Industry Insights for Traditional and Indie Publishing
  • Indie Publishing, What it Entails, How to Manage, DIY versus Hiring a Team
  • Social Media Management for Authors
  • Book Formatting
  • Book Reviews, How to Get Them
  • Audiobook Production, Options, How To
  • Cover Design
  • Discoverability
  • Author Platform, Building an Audience, How Tos, Options
  • Author Websites, DIY, How To, Options
  • Readers: Where to Find Them
  • Writing as a Career

This list is by no means complete, but hopefully it triggers ideas and provides some insights about the kinds of things we're hearing from our conference goers about what they want to see. 2016 Proposal Submissions will open January 1, 2016 and close at midnight on April 1, 2016. Keep an eye on the conference page, your email, and the RMFW home page for details.

We look forward to receiving your proposals and building another fabulous conference for 2016!

Ann Hood – 2016 Colorado Gold Keynote Speaker

AnnHood-smRMFW is pleased to announce Ann Hood is our 2016 Colorado Gold Conference Sunday afternoon keynote speaker.

Ann Hood wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. Her favorite books when she was a kid were Little Women and Nancy Drew. Later, she loved Marjorie Morningstar, Les Miserables and Doctor Zhivago, obviously choosing books by size!

A Rhode Island native, she was born in West Warwick and spent high school working as a Marsha Jordan Girl, modeling for the Jordan Marsh department store at the Warwick Mall. She majored in English at the University of Rhode Island, and that's where she fell in love with Shakespeare, Willa Cather, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

When she was in seventh grade, she read a book called How To Become An Airline Stewardess that fueled her desire to see the world. And that's just what she did when she graduated from URI--she went to work for TWA as a flight attendant. Back then, she thought you needed adventures in order to be a writer. Of course, she now knows that all you need, as Eudora Welty said, is to sit on your own front porch.

AH-AnItalianWifeBut she did see a lot of the world with TWA, and she moved from Boston to St. Louis and finally to NYC, a place she'd dreamed of living ever since she watched Doris Day movies as a little girl. She wrote her first novel, Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine, on international flights and on the Train to the Plane, which was the subway out to JFK. It was published in 1987. Since then, she’s published in The New York Times, The Paris Review, O, Bon Appetit, Tin House, The Atlantic Monthly, Real Simple, and other wonderful places; and she’s won two Pushcart Prizes, two Best American Food Writing Awards, Best American Spiritual Writing and Travel Writing Awards, and a Boston Public Library Literary Light Award.

Over a dozen years ago, Ann began writing stories about the Rimaldi's, a fictional Italian-American family who, like her own Italian-American family, arrived in Rhode Island in the late 1800's. The Rimaldi's struggle with homesickness and alienation, and the desire to be American as they try to stay connected to their culture and traditions. When she finished a Rimaldi story last year, she realized that she had over 300 pages about the family. She printed them, placed them in chronological order--spanning one hundred years!--wrote two more, and with great delight created a family saga that centers on Josephine Rimaldi and her children and grandchildren. Josephine and her daughters and granddaughters seek love and acceptance, suffer loss and disappointment, live through wars and historical upheavals. But like all of us, they make their way--in family, in regret, in dreams, and desire. An Italian Wife is, really, everyone's story.

Visit Ann’s website and blog and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Robert J. Sawyer – 2016 Colorado Gold Keynote Speaker

RobertJSawyer-smRMFW is pleased to announce Robert J. Sawyer is the Saturday evening keynote speaker at the 2016 Colorado Gold Conference.

Robert J. Sawyer—called “just about the best science-fiction writer out there” by the Rocky Mountain News—is known for exploring deep philosophical and moral questions in his work. He is one of only eight people ever to have won all three of the science-fiction field’s top awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo (which he won for Hominids), the Nebula (which he won for The Terminal Experiment), and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (which he won for Mindscan). He’s also won an Arthur Ellis Award from the Crime Writers of Canada, and the top science-fiction awards in Canada (thirteen times), Japan (three times), Spain (three times), China, and France. According to the Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards, he has won more awards for his novels than anyone else in the history of the science-fiction and fantasy fields. The 2009-2010 ABC television series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name. Quill & Quire, the Canadian publishing trade journal, calls him “one of the thirty most influential, innovative, and just plain powerful people in Canadian publishing.”

With such compelling and provocative works as Red Planet Blues, FlashForward, and the novels of the WWW trilogy, Robert J. Sawyer has proven himself to be “a writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation.” * Now, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing... His twenty-third novel, Quantum Night, is a March 2016 title from Penguin.

RobertJSawyer-QuantumNightCover-smExperimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined about his breakthrough in court, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life from twenty years previously—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible—change human nature—before the entire world descends into darkness.

“Sawyer’s work is scientifically plausible, fictionally intriguing and ethically important.”—New Scientist

Rob was the first science-fiction writer to have a website; visit it at sfwriter.com. You can also follow Rob on Twitter and Facebook.

* The New York Times

After the Glow of Conference Fades … by Sharon Mignerey

“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.” ~Zig Zigler

Sharon MignereyIt’s been weeks since the Colorado Gold Conference. You know how it is immediately after conference … you’re enthused, recharged, ready to move on with The Plan and move toward success (or possibly, continued success). Or … you’re comparing yourself to John or Jane Writer, who has achieved the latest accolades, who writes the most compelling characters and the best plot twists ever, who has a starred review in PW, not to mention a six-figure contract. Ahhh. To be the current darling of publishing and the Awards circuits. Wouldn’t that be something?

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way a month or so after conference. When the job that pays bills sucks up all my time and energy, my motivation begins to slip. That vow to write six pages a day slips to six pages a week … or a month. Those solutions that were so clear for how to solve a plot or character problem when I was with my writer friends (translation – MY herd of other little sea horses [thank you, Susan Spann!]) begins to fade. Instead of remembering that an editor asked to see a full manuscript, I’m focused on the nit-picky and negative things that other person in my reading workshop said about my work … and I’m tempted by chocolate instead of writing. What is a writer to do?

The short answer is this: build a system of accountability and tribe building that works for you. In short, find your herd of sea horses and the part of the reef that best suits your particular style of writing.

  • Get together with a small group of writers on some regular schedule. Thanks to the internet, you can have contact even if it’s not a face-to-face critique group. You can use plain old email, not to mention Skype or Face Time. Granted, it may not be quite the same as being in the same room, but it’s close … and you can do it in PJs! In short, you don’t have to be in Denver to find your herd of like-minded writers.
  • If critique works for you, find critique partners. If your need is to set aside a certain time every day or week and write with others, then find partners who are willing to do that with you. If being accountable to someone that you’ve met your writing goals this week, find partners for that.
  • If an editor or agent has asked to see your work, send it! An editor once told me that fewer than 20% of the writers she asked material from sent it. Can you imagine that? Are you one of the 20% or the 80%? To my way of thinking, the odds of the editor liking my project just went up.

If work needs to be done on the project before you can send it, set a date for when you’re doing to send it, then parse the tasks between now and that date into manageable pieces, and get to work. I think setting a date is similar to giving a sick sea horse a name—there’s power in the commitment represented. The date … and the name … make things real. If you’re married, you made the commitment, set a date, and went to work to make it happen. The same thing applies here.

I grew up with the mantra instilled in me that “anything work doing is worth doing well.” What is easy to forget is this: before doing something well, I’m probably going to do it badly. This is where having a support system for my writer’s life becomes even more important—my herd of other writers who hang around in the part of the reef that I call home. Who are there to applaud my successes (growth in skills, finaling in contests, making a sale), chase away the predators (worry and rejection), and help me see where the best food can be found (story craft and submission markets).

RMFW has a wonderful discussion group (if you don’t belong, send a request (rmfw-subscribe@yahoogroups.com) and ask to join), where you can put out the call to find others of like mind … or respond to others who have put out a call that appeals to you. I promise, a big reef though RMFW may be, your part of the reef is also home to a group of writers who want to be part of your herd.

Happy writing, everyone!

… Sharon Mignerey

p.s. If you’re wondering about the references to sea horses, order the CD for Susan Spann’s wonderful Writer-of-the-Year talk by calling Joyco Multimedia at 720-541-7905.

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Sharon Mignerey has been a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers since 1984 and says her successes would not have come without the support of her friends and fellow writers in the group. She’s the author of eleven books, and she’s currently polishing two submissions that have been requested by editors she met at the most recent Colorado Gold Conference.

KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, SOMETIMES

I remember one of my first writers conferences. I pitched a project to one of the visiting agents or editors, and I remember being so thrilled when he asked to see the first three chapters. Later, one of the more seasoned conference attendees asked me how my pitch went and in my excitement I told her. Instead of being excited for me, she said, "Oh he asks everyone for the first three chapters."

Sad PuppyI don't know what was in this person's heart, what the intent was of the remark, but I know the effect. I was instantly deflated. I was being told, whether in mean spirits or total thoughtlessness, that I ought not be so excited, that I was not so special after all, and that in spite of having an actively acquiring New York publishing professional ask to see an excerpt of my manuscript I was in truth no closer to being published than I had ever been. It was a cruel thing to say, whether it was meant to be or not.

For several years after that, when asked how a pitch went, I always dodged the question, whether the pitch went well or not. It is easy to dodge such questions, just ask the person something about their work and they forget all about the question they asked. Whether a request for pages, or even the entire manuscript, meant I was about to be represented or not, I preferred the boost it gave to my inspiration to think so, than to have someone again poke it with a pin.

We are so often thoughtless in our comments to others that we often aren't mindful of how it may affect the listener. Especially new members or first time conference attendees. So let me set the record straight.

Happy DanceIf the agent or editor you pitched to at September's Colorado Gold conference, or any conference for that matter, has asked to see pages, never mind how many, that is rare. Don't pay attention to how many others he or she may have requested from other people. The fact is each agent/editor will never request pages of something in which they are not interested, they just don't have the time for such foolishness, even to spare feelings. Remember that the agent/editor you spoke to was at the conference for a reason. They want you to be a good writer, they want your project to be the one they pick for representation, they are there to find the next great novel for their list, and they would not have requested pages from you if they didn't want you to be the author of that novel. They are actually rooting for you.

Be excited. Be very excited. And don't let any off-hand comment from anyone dampen that excitement. Enthusiastically polish that excerpt and kiss the screen before you email it out for good luck. Then, don't sit by the phone with baited breath and wait for that phone call. Use the energy from your excitement to finish the project, or start another one. Take the inspiration and run with it. If an agent/editor asks to see pages, you are that much closer to getting published. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise!