Conference Spotlight: Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_RoundTablesThinking about signing up for a critique round table at conference? Act now, because registration is required and registration for those sessions closes this week (July 15).

The critique round table sessions are among the most popular offerings at RMFW Colorado Gold. Three and a half hours in length, the round tables offer you a chance to receive detailed critique on ten pages of your work and allow you the time to give feedback on the work of the other members in your group.

The round tables are a unique opportunity to experience specific critique with other writers as well as an agent or editor.

This year, we have 15 sessions to choose from, monitored by an attending agent or editor. Attendees may sign up for one or two round tables. Sessions are offered Friday morning at 8:00 AM and Friday afternoon at 1:00 PM. The tables are open to 8 critique participants and 2 auditors.

Critique participants: 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.

Critique Auditors will only observe; you will neither submit pages nor offer critiques to participants. This is a great way to see how critique works and be a fly on the wall. Hear other authors' feedback on the submitted work and listen as the attending agent or editor shares their insights.

Once registration closes, participants will receive further instructions from RMFW volunteer, Scott Brendel, who manages all the things with Round Table Critiques, and will provide details on everything, including where and when to submit your pages, which will be due in August.

These sessions are a $40 add on for participants, $15 for auditors. Deadline to register is this Friday, July 15!

Colorado Gold: It Takes a Village … by Angela La Voie

2016_Angela LaVoieEach September, hundreds of RMFW members from around Colorado, members from other states, and other fiction writers convene in metro Denver for Colorado Gold, but preparing for the event starts months earlier, and dozens of volunteers contribute to the event’s success.

Before the conference, planning tasks include: screening proposals from potential presenters; recruiting VIP agents, editors, and guest authors; coordinating donations for the swag bags, free tables, and scholarships; planning new events; ensuring the technology is in place; and assembling the brochure. At the event, volunteers: check in attendees; check in writers for appointments with pitch coaches, agents, editors, and guest authors; emcee the author readings; run the simile contest; ensure the workshops run smoothly; welcome first-time attendees; and photograph the event.

Volunteering not only helps fellow attendees. For members, it can bring a new level of engagement with the conference and with RMFW. It might even push your writing career forward.

Conference Chair Corinne O’Flynn cited Colorado Gold as a turning point in her own commitment to the organization. “I signed up to be a volunteer for RMFW the day after I got home from my first Colorado Gold conference,” she said.

“We have an exceptional community here in RMFW, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it. Volunteers are vital to this organization and to this conference. It takes a lot of people working together to make it all happen, so if you’re thinking about getting involved and are not sure, I invite you to jump in,” she said.

The Benefits of Volunteering

Some of the benefits include:

- Paying it forward
- Getting to know other members
- Expanding your circle of industry connections
- Growing personally

Paying It Forward

The creative work we publish reflects the many other writers who’ve influenced us—from authors we read as a child to editors who put their trust in us, to writers we’ve met with over coffee to brainstorm ideas, critique pages, or share encouragement. Volunteering at the conference gives you the opportunity to repay the kindness others have offered you. Information you may take for granted at the current stage of your career might be the very form of insight another member is seeking. If you’re new to RMFW, it’s a wonderful way to get connected. Sharing your time and talents builds community.

Getting to Know Other Members

As a member organization with a wide service area, there are always new members to meet. Opportunities tend to multiply through connection. You may find someone who shares a common interest in subject matter, genre, or craft. For example, you may run across someone who studied 19th century U.S. migration patterns for her last novel and can offer you some research sources for your current project. Or, staffing the information table, you may meet someone who shares your passion for author trivia or writing dialogue. You may invite a new acquaintance to write a guest post on your blog or be invited to participate in a future panel.

Expanding Your Circle of Industry Connections

Similarly, lending your time can help you get to know new agents or editors. You might also meet someone who can connect you with a new Web site designer, cover artist, or publicist. You might befriend an author who becomes your next agent.

Growing Personally

Are you willing to take a risk? We all know that writing involves much more than our creative output. With luck, we are also always in a cycle of evolution from novice to mentor to newcomer in another domain. If you’ve considered volunteering at RMFW or serving in a new capacity, assisting at Gold is a great way to test the waters. You may realize you’re ready to submit a workshop proposal next year, serve as a volunteer liaison, or screen proposals.

Conference Volunteer Opportunities

Colorado Gold Registration Volunteers 2015

What jobs are available? Some roles are always in need of additional volunteers because of the sheer number of helpers required. Have you considered stepping forward, but weren’t sure what’s involved? Here are some examples:

VIP Drivers – drive out-of-town special guests to and from the airport.

Bookstore and Author Signing Helpers – set up the bookstore, set up for the author signing, pack up books after the author signing, and set up for the next day’s sales.

Table Hosts – Members of PAL (Published Authors Liaison) or IPAL (Independent Published Authors Liaison) break the ice at their tables during Friday’s dinner and keep the conversation flowing.

Workshop Timekeepers – formerly known as “moderator;” ensure the microphone is working and the session is being recorded, introduce the speaker using the bio in the conference brochure, record an approximate headcount, give the presenter ten-minute and five-minute warnings, and coordinate the break for recording continuity for two-hour sessions.

These present a sampling; there are many ways to contribute. If you’d like to volunteer at this year’s conference, visit http://rmfw.org/conference/conference-volunteer-preferences/ or contact Angela La Voie at volunteer@rmfw.org.

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

Angela La Voie is Volunteer Coordinator for RMFW and Volunteer Coordinator for Colorado Gold. A long-time Colorado resident, she lives outside Washington, D.C. in coastal Maryland. Although she has yet to try Smith Island Cake, a multi-tiered yellow cake with chocolate frosting that is the official state dessert, she has sampled several award-winning crab soups.

For more information about Angela and her writing, visit her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Master Classes at 2016 Colorado Gold

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_MasterClassesLooking to dig deep and expand your learning at conference? Master Classes are back this year and we've added new times 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've added a new Saturday morning and afternoon class as well.

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

Check out this year's lineup:

Friday Morning Master Classes

Avoid Real Life Drama: Nuts and Bolts of Contracts and Tax Law | by Lisa Adams
When you enter the digital or print marketplace, it helps to understand both the contract and tax aspects of your publishing adventure beforehand. This is true regardless of whether you are an indie author or traditionally-published. Knowledge is power and a wonderful drama avoidance tool.

Emotion in Fiction: Making Characters Real, Making Readers Feel | by Angie Hodapp
Memorable stories are rooted in emotion. Come learn how to make the three actors of emotion in fiction-writer, character, reader-connect on the page. Then learn dozens of ways you can use character, story, and prose to elicit emotion in readers-and make your stories unforgettable!

Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: The Secrets of Book Architecture| by Stuart Horwitz
Have you ever asked yourself while writing: How many drafts is this going to take? It doesn’t seem like such a question would have an answer but Stuart Horwitz proposes it does–and that the answer is three, provided you approach each draft in the right spirit, and know what action steps to take between drafts. This presentation will discuss the best outlook and direction for each of the three drafts so that you can increase your efficiency, satisfaction, and engagement with both your writing process and your final product.

Nailing an Agent-Grabbing Opening | by Heather Webb (Submit pages by August 1)
Learn what makes an opening grabby-or trite-and how to win the agent's eye for which you're vying. The class will be divided into instruction and workshop time. Attendees are invited to submit up to five (5) pages ahead of time for feedback from the instructor, as well as during class from peer groups.

Writing a Killer Mystery | by Susan Spann
Plotting the perfect crime requires more than merely killing off imaginary friends. You need a sterling sleuth, well-crafted clues, a cast of (un)usual suspects, and a killer eye for details. Come learn the inside tricks of writing standalone and series mysteries, with useful techniques for both plotters and pantsers. Whether you’re a veteran mystery writer or plotting your very first (fictional) murder, this master’s class will give you the practical tools to write complex and compelling crime fiction.

New! Saturday AM and PM Master Classes

Vocal Training for Writers: An Introvert’s Guide to Developing a Fabulous Book Tour Persona | by J. Dylan Yates
55% of people fear public speaking more than death. Why? Lack of training! Writers can overcome public speaking fears using writing skills. This workshop helps align your storytelling talents with your vocal presentations. Get prepared to deliver your biggest promotional asset-your own voice! This fun, engaging workshop utilizes relaxation exercises, professional acting techniques and 1-on-1 coaching. You’ll be given the tools to create a polished, professional speaking presentation. Traditional public speaking principles will be used to develop individual promotional plans. We’ll use vocal and physical relaxation exercises, beginning acting techniques, individual vocal production feedback using personal writing pieces chosen by the attendees. Each attendee will receive a handbook for future reference. BRING: yoga mat or towel, a personal writing piece for reading, a sense of fun, humor, and wear comfy clothing.

Tell and Sell Your Story Smarter | by Betsy Dornbusch
Queries and Synopses are required sales tools for any writer who wants to be-and stay-professionally published. Besides being necessary to sell on spec, they can become valuable tools not just for selling, but for writing. A big secret for success is to write them from the very start, before you get much past the idea stage, and let them evolve with your book. They can validate your idea and give you a process to balance market vs. craft. But even if your book is finished, you can figure out how to write selling copy for your story. In this workshop we'll learn how to write queries and synopses to use not only as sales tools but as novel-crafting aids. There will be plenty of writing time and work-shopping opportunities so participants can walk out of the class with a solid query and synopsis. BRING: Laptop and/or pen and paper.

Terri Benson Sets Fire to Words Along with Genre Con (Literally)

I’m coming out of the closet. Yep. I’m an…introvert. What, you already knew?

That’s a pretty simple reveal. Most writers are introverts, and since writing is a fairly lonely job, it can have theWhy-Introverts-Are-Like-Cats makings for hermithood (you know, like motherhood—no wait, it’s not at all like motherhood unless you’re a mother and don’t have any friends with kiddies). Anyway, you know who you are, and what it’s like to try to network in a busy room, or to stand in front of a group and say things that make sense: right up there with a trip to the DMV.

I’m learning to come out of my shell. And the major reason is that I volunteer for RMFW. It started perfectly innocently, helping Vicki Law with the Western Slope workshops. Then, when Vicki decided to run for President of RMFW, she asked if I’d be willing to step in to run the W/S workshops, and be the Education Chair. Innocent that I was, I accepted, thinking it would be a piece of cake. Hmmm, maybe an upside down cake. I quickly realized I would have round up speakers, arrange a venue, stand up and talk in front of large groups, and all kinds of scary things.  And guess what? I survived. OK, except for the fire alarm and smoke and firetruck at the annual event last month in Golden. But there was that hunky fireman….which sort of made up for it. And despite rumors, I DID NOT set e fire. So our romance workshop got a little hot…it wasn’t my fault.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say (oh, no, there goes that song again) is that to grow as a writer I believe you have to do two things: learn to do new things, and get yourself out there. Become an ambivert - that’s someone with a little of both introvert and extrovert. The perfect place to debut the new you is at Colorado Gold. It’s too late to present, but you can still submit your story to the contest (until the end of May), which can be a little scary, but might get you a read by an agent or editor, or at least will be a good learning experience. And then there’s the Gold Conference itself. Three days of non-stop immersion in writing. You’ll be surrounded by other intro/ambi/extr-overts, all of whom are writers like you. THEY have the same worries, fears, and interests you do. They want to talk about their WIP just as much as you do. They want to discuss genres, protagonists, POV and all that ad naseum, just like you.

Take the plunge. Go to Gold. Don’t make excuses. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend. You will learn more than you ever imagined about the craft of writing and marketing, you’ll make friends that will last as long as you do (and if they put you in their book, longer), and you’ll have a chance to strut (or show) your stuff to agents or editors, but only if you DO IT.

Come on, if I can do it, so can you. It’s much more difficult to take that first step than it is to be there, in the moment. Trust me. And Write ON!

Schmooze Cruise

icann_photoIf there’s anything scarier than public speaking, it’s private speaking. Not the quiet conversations you have with friends but the prospect of being thrown into a room of strangers and having to get out with any shred of dignity intact. Some people have no trouble making new friends, but introverted and anti-social writers seem to have a harder time than average. The normal strategies of hiding behind a potted plant all evening or orbiting the room clutching a beverage like a life-ring while refusing to make eye contact may leave you feeling like you survived but somehow missed out on opportunities.

With the Colorado Gold Conference right around the corner, now is the time to address the burning question.

How do people do that schmooze thing without feeling icky?

It takes a just bit of mental jujitsu.

First, you have to understand that everybody in the room is there for the same reason. You’re there because you’re passionate enough about the subject matter to have found the time and resources to attend. Just by being there, you’ve got common ground with every other attendee.

Second, you need to check your excuses at the door. Even introverts can get satisfaction from sharing ideas they’re passionate about. The “I’ve got nothing to talk about” excuse and the “Who’d want to talk to me?” excuse  and the "They're all famous!" excuse all need to be left at the door.

Third, the hardest room is the first one. Not everybody in the room is a first timer, but everybody in that room was a first timer once. Most of them remember it. Newcomers are always welcome. Remember that when it's your second room. If nothing else, you'll have someone to talk to.

A few simple ideas can help even the shyest individual over the threshold.

Have a goal or two.
I believe too many people struggle because they have goals that place too much emphasis on measurable return on investment. They want to pitch their stories to three agents or get an acquisition editor to request a manuscript. While those are certainly valid goals, for somebody trying to learn the art of the schmooze these goals put Olympic-sized pressure on Wading Pool skills.

My goals for every convention I attend — writer oriented, fan oriented, whatever — are always the same. Meet three interesting people and take home one actionable idea. I don’t limit myself to what I think “interesting” means or what kind of action I want to take. Sometimes I meet interesting people in the lobby or sitting beside me in the audience at a panel. Sometimes the ideas are time management or dealing with stress. Occasionally I learn about new tools, gain insight into new techniques, or find writers I want to learn more about. I can’t achieve any of those goals unless I get out there and meet people.

Listen more than you talk.
You'll often find yourself forced into potentially awkward situations at organized dinners. Simple courtesy can ease the conversation into starting on its own. Take a seat, smile at the person on your left/right, offer your hand, and say, “Hi, I’m Nathan.” If nothing else, they'll look at you funny unless you use your own name. Typically, that triggers a response around the table. This also works at meet-and-greet events, BarCons, session audiences, and other situations where you’re in a room full of strangers all wearing the same badges. If the conversation lags, you can always ask “Who came the farthest to get here?” Chances are nobody will know so you’ll have to compare notes. After that the conversations generally sort themselves out.

The thing about listening is that you always have something to do. If you’re focused on listening, you’re not thinking about what to do with your hands or whether your hair is sticking out at an odd angle. You’re thinking about what the other person is saying and maybe asking questions about it. Listening has the added advantage of making you seem smart, even when you don’t think you are. Do it regularly, and the odds are good that you’ll become smarter, too.

Wallflowers Unite
There will always be somebody who’s off to the side, out of the path, and standing alone. The art of the schmooze is making sure you’re not that person. Find the wallflower or the person standing or sitting alone and introduce yourself. You’ll each find you have a lot in common and both of you will be able to practice the art.

Breaking In
What about when you’re trying to join a conversation that’s already going on? A lot of people feel like they might be intruding if the conversation is already in full swing. Sometimes you might be, but more typically, there’s always room for one more smiling face. Stepping into the gap—often literally—with a smile and a nod usually works. If the conversation doesn’t stop, chances are you’re just as welcome as anybody else. This is a great opportunity for you to practice listening. Asking a pertinent question at the next pause in the festivities works very well to cement your place in the conversation.

Semper Paratus
Awkward silence is awkward, but a little preparation can push awkwardness to the backseat. Questions like “So, what are you reading these days?” or “How are you dealing with social media?” often yield interesting responses. A bit of noodling time with your favorite professional online sources can add currency to your conversation as well. Finally, when awkward just won’t leave, have an exit line of your own ready. A simple “Nice to meet you. I need to circulate a little. Enjoy the convention” lets you wander off without feeling like you’ve stepped on anybody’s puppy. You can change it up with “I need another drink” or “I need to find my partner.” Even “I need to find the little writer’s room” can give you the exit you need without falling into TMI.

Have fun.
That probably sounds a bit like “Hey, they’ll only hang you once. Enjoy the gallows.” This is one place where you actually can “fake it til you make it.” Smile at people. Meet their eyes and nod. Extend a hand and introduce yourself. Before you know it, that person you met in the first session on the first day will show up and you can compare notes. Or the person you had breakfast with will invite you to eat dinner with them. Take a few selfies with other attendees. Ask for cards from interesting people. By the time you have to leave, you’ll find you’ve actually had more fun than you thought.

After all, these people all cared enough to arrange their lives to be in that space with you, even when they didn’t know you’d be there. The least you can do is make it worth their while.

Image credit: ICANN Photos 1361
Licensed under Creative Commons-BY-SA 2.0

About This Year’s Conference Bookstore and Signing

RMFWConference_Chalkboard_booksaleandsigningThe 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.

It takes time to order books, design the book signing area layout, and get the bookkeeping set up for our seller, Who Else! Books. And space is limited in both the bookstore and at the Friday night signing. That’s why we ask that everyone eligible provide advance notice they wish to participate. If you miss the deadline to sign up or we’ve reached our limit, you will be out of luck. So read on, be informed, and don’t miss out on this event!

Eligibility

Lots of people ask if they are eligible for the bookstore and signing on Friday, so here’s a list of who can participate in the Friday night signing:

  • Anyone who is presenting a workshop or participating on a panel
  • RMFW PAL members
  • RMFW IPAL members

If you are an RMFW member, you can have your books in the bookstore, even if you can’t attend the conference.

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: Members > IPAL or PAL Membership

Ways to Participate

  1. Eligible authors can request a spot at the Friday night signing. That way, you can talk to readers, sign your books, and sell copies through Who Else! Books. Nina and Ron Else are happy to order books for the store or take copies on consignment. They will pay you 75% of the selling price of your consigned books sold at Conference.
  2. Authors can have copies of their books at the conference bookstore, whether or not they participate in the book signing. Nina and Ron Else are happy to order books for the store or take copies on consignment.
  3. This year we’ve added after-panel book signings outside the bookstore, another opportunity to meet readers. If you are a panelist and you want to participate in an after-panel signing, you are responsible to sign up to ensure your book is available in the bookstore. Also make sure you identify that you want to participate in one of these signings on the sign up form. And in case you’re wondering, you can participate in both after-panel signings and the Friday night signing.

How Are Authors Chosen for the Book Signing?

Special guests, Honored Guiding Members, and WOTY and IWOTY nominees are guaranteed a table at the Friday night book signing. Because space is limited, we are implementing a lottery drawing to select all other authors. That way, there is no need to hurry and sign up early this year, although you must sign up before the deadline. We will draw participating authors in the signing proportionately, based on total PAL and total IPAL members.

After the lottery selection process, Nina Else will contact you personally mid to late July about your books. We will also post the authors drawn on the website in case emails don’t reach recipients. Please make sure to add who_else@att.net to your email address book and promptly reply to her emails. Also note that if there are any cancellations by lottery winners, we will draw for replacements.

When and How to Sign Up

Sign up begins May 20th and runs through July 1st at 11:59 (Edit: date moved up on 5/23) PM MDT. This year 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 plus a few more items. Make sure you complete the entire form. If you leave out information Who Else! Books needs for accounting, you risk not being a part of the book sale and signing.

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, book signing, and/or after-panel signing
  • 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 need your books ordered
  • Any additional special instructions for Who Else! Books

Now mark your calendar! Return here to the RMFW website on May 20th and reserve your spot in the bookstore and enter the book signing lottery.

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.

Post by Nina & Ron Else of Who Else! Books and Bonnie Biafore, Book Signing Coordinator

5/17/16 Correction: When originally published, this article incorrectly stated "Special guests, presenters, Honored Guiding Members, and WOTY and IWOTY nominees are guaranteed a table at the Friday night book signing..." This has been corrected to remove presenters from those guaranteed a table. 

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.