The AHA Moments

Every writer has one—or two—or three.

When I first started writing fiction, I was writing blind. I was a trained journalist and understood non-fiction, but writing a novel… Suffice it to say, it presented a number of new challenges. At the time, we were living in Frisco (Colorado), and there were no writers groups, no published authors, and no creative writing classes offered at the mountain college. Then in rode Maggie Osborne.

Maggie, a founding member of RMFW and an award-winning romance writer, moved to Summit County around 1986. Her first summer, she gave an author talk at the Frisco Library. I went up at the end to chat, and ended up cajoling her into putting on a workshop. By the time the librarian barred the door, Maggie had agreed to teach 5 two-hour sessions, once a week at her house, for $20, provided I could find at least two other writers to join in. A bargain, to say the least.

It didn’t take long to find two other interested parties, and we were brimming with excitement that first session. Maggie focused on character—point-of-view, motivation, physical attributes, flaws, strengths, desires… At the end of the session, she asked each of us to go home and write a few paragraphs from the POV of our heroine and bring back the pages the following week.

I was the only one who showed up. During the course of the week, the others had decided it was too much work, claimed Maggie was demanding too much. But I wasn’t complaining—we’d paid upfront, which meant, I had four one-on-one sessions coming with a master.

My first AHA moment came during that second class.

Here’s a sample of that early work.

“Why should I?” Lauren stepped back as Alex moved a step forward. “Look, my ex-husband introduced us. Once. I hardly know the man.” She returned Alex’s defiant glare.
Alex felt the muscles twitch in his neck. He had been furious when his contact suggested Lauren was involved in her partner’s business indiscretions. If they discovered that she knew Woodley, it would only fuel his colleague’s doubts.
“Did you mention Harmon’s accident in the conversation?”
“Yes, I didn’t realize it was a secret.” She studied him with dark eyes. “Now, it’s your turn to explain something to me.”

The important lesson that night was about POV. As Maggie pointed out, in addition to wonderful choreography, the above four paragraphs included four POV switches. Not to mention that Lauren can magically see her own “dark eyes.” It was like a lightbulb went off.

Is it any wonder that this book never got published?!

My second AHA moment came during critique.

I was at Lee Karr’s, another founding member of RMFW and award-winning romance writer. Here’s a small slice of what I offered up:

“Hello, how are you?”
“Great, great. Nice day, isn’t it?”
“Beautiful. They say it’s supposed to reach 90 degrees.”
“A scorcher, which reminds me, you were getting hot when you started asking questions about…”

The important lesson that afternoon was about Dialogue. When it was Lee’s turn, she pointed out that the dialogue served no purpose whatsoever. Her advice, make sure your dialogue does one if not two of the following things:

1. Advance the plot.
2. Characterize the characters.
3. Create suspense and intensify the conflict.
4. Reveal motivation.
5. Control the pace.

Another lightbulb moment.

My latest AHA moment came during this year’s RMFW conference. I signed up for a master class with Stuart Horwitz, Book Architecture. I’ll admit, I was skeptical. His method encourages a pantzer-plotter-pantzer/plotter type of model. In the first draft, you just write. Whatever you want, in whatever order you want. Pantzer technique. In the second draft, you apply a method for structuring the novel, cutting up the scenes and reordering them as necessary, discovering what you put in that you don’t need and what you didn’t put in that you need. Plotter technique. In the third draft, you rewrite, in any order you want. You punch up the scenes already written, write the scenes that you left out and add transitions between chapters. Of course, this is a very encapsulated version of a four hour workshop, but the point is—I think Horwitz’s method may be just what I need.

Here’s to all the AHA moments.

Including the ones yet to come. That’s why I still go to critique, still attend conferences like the Colorado Gold. It’s important to me to stretch my abilities as a writer, to always write a better book. It’s my hope that the AHA moments keep on coming.

Take Two Advice, and Call Me in the Morning: GOLD EDITION

I’ll bet you came back from the RMFW Gold Conference, excited to dive into your current project, filling it with all those things you learned over the weekend. Right up until it came time to actually write. The post-conference blue/block is a very real thing. Trust me, I’m not a doctor.

And I don’t play one on TV either (*millennials, google that those last two sentences, it’s funny. Really).

Anyway, you, like me, might be sitting around in your pajamas (because, what else would you wear?) wondering about how to incorporate what you learned with your writing style and voice or promotional style and voice.

The thing about the advice provided at conference is, the facilitators aren’t looking to change you as a writer, but rather let you explore their ways and means of creating great books. The whole take some, leave some approach. Try things out, see what fits and what doesn’t with your own writing life.

There are no perfect fits when it comes to being an author. What works for one writer, might fail for another. My best advice, and you can take it or stick your tongue out at me, is don’t live your writerly journey in the shoes of another writer. For one thing, they pinch, but most importantly, wearing someone’s shoe is unsanitary. Trust me, I’m NOT a doctor.

What advice did you learn at the conference that you plan on implementing in your own style/journey?

Colorado Gold 2017: Some Practical Information

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Conference is almost here!

In addition to the previous conference day-by-day walk-through info post, here is some practical information to help you get organized:

Parking: Parking is free at the hotel for conference attendees. Yay! You'll need to validate your parking ticket at the front desk before you leave.

Airport Train Info: From the airport, you'll need to take the Light Rail train, ($9.00) to the the Central Park Station, which is 0.7 miles from the hotel. If you arrive and there is no shuttle present, call the hotel. They will pick you up at the station. For more details about train times, station stops, and other info, download the RTD info flyer or check out the LIGHT RAIL schedule. There is no longer a free shuttle from the airport.

First-Timer Meeting: On Friday at 12:00pm (before conference officially begins), our New Attendee Liaison, Kevin Wolf, will be hosting our "first timer meeting" in the Vail Room.  This is an opportunity to meet some of the RMFW conference staff and get a brief orientation about conference. We will also have a special prize to give away to one lucky attendee! This meeting will last about 30 minutes. Feel free to bring lunch or purchase a boxed lunch from the hotel kiosk.

Conference Badges: Your 2017 official conference badge must be worn AT ALL TIMES. If you are not wearing your official conference badge, you'll be asked to retrieve it. Without your official conference badge you will not be able to attend the meals. If you RSVP'd to bring a guest to any meals, your guest must wear their official guest badge in order to attend the meals. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

Don't Forget! Bring a Blank Journal to Conference! RMFW Special Guest, Stuart Horwitz, is delighted to share: Book Architecture has partnered with Cocoon Journal, a non-profit organization that puts blank books in the hands of high school writers.

The idea is that by writing, they can clear their head (and maybe generate the first draft of a future project). Do you have some blank journals lying around that you aren't using? Now, the solution: BRING THEM TO CONFERENCE! Cocoon Journal will be collecting unused, blank journals during Colorado Gold this September. You can also ship blank journals to: Cocoon Journal P.O. Box 740340, Arvada, CO 80006.

Classes to Prep For: If there are classes on the schedule that you're planning to attend, be sure to read the class description in the event the instructor wants you to bring something to use in class. Some that have requested a mention:

  • Deep Revision Master Class - Heather Webb: Bring a some pages of your writing to work on in this session.
  • The Joy of Writing Great Sex - Andrea Catalano & Heather Webb: Anyone who'd like to participate in an anonymous critique may bring one printed page from one of their scenes without a name on it. We'll read aloud and talk about what's working and what isn't.
  • The Art of the Author Reading - Aimie Runyan: please bring a short cutting from one of your works! Laptop, printed pages, bound book--anything you can read from comfortably.
  • The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get - Becky Clark:  Check the handouts download and bring a paper copy of the calendar with the times down the side.  We'll be doing an exercise with that one

Handouts: Handouts are available online. Check the HANDOUTS page often as we get closer to conference and more are added by our presenters. Please download handouts to your device or print them at home. You *can* download them at the hotel using the public wifi in the common areas of the hotel, but you will have to leave the classrooms to do so. While there is Wi-Fi in the hotel, there is NO Wi-Fi in the classrooms. 

Wi-Fi: There is wifi in the hotel public areas but there is NO WIFI in the classrooms for presenters or attendees. If you wish to access the handouts for a class but your device requires wifi, you will need to download them before your class.

Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments: If you requested one, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the pitch appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment. If you have any questions or conflicts regarding your pitch appointment, you will need to speak to the volunteers at the third-floor check-in table. Additional pitch appointments are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis while space allows. Any questions about booking additional free pitches should be handled at the check-in table for the pitches with our Pitch Master, Mike Ruchhoeft, and his team of volunteers.

Preparing for Your Pitch Appointment: We always have many questions about pitch appointments. Remember to relax and know that the agent is there to hear about your story. It's ok to be nervous. It's ok to ask questions. Your appointment should be a conversation. It's not a requirement that you have your pitch memorized; bring notes and read from them if that's what you need to get it right. For more prep, here is an excellent blog post from RMFW Pitch Coach, Susan Spann.

Have a Special Appointment? Arrive 10-minutes early please! If you have an appointment with Pitch Coaching, Mentor Room, One-on-Ones, or Agent/Editor Pitches, etc., please arrive 10-minutes before your appointment. This helps everyone stay on schedule and prevents delays.

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

Conference Check-in/Registration: Conference Check-in will be at the bottom of the escalators, accessible from the lobby. If you're attending a Friday morning session (Master Class or a Critique Round Table) check-in opens at 7am. If you're not attending a morning session, check-in opens at 10:30am.

Need Help? Have Questions? “ASK ME”: We have a whole army of conference veterans who know the ropes and are there for you to ask questions. If you see someone with an ASK ME ribbon on their badge… don’t be shy! Also, the Registration Table is HQ for conference. We will have volunteers there just about all the time throughout conference, so this is another place to go if you need assistance.

At-A-Glance Schedule & Brochure: The AAG is the go-to document when you're looking for the workshop schedule. There are lots of shifts that happen with the AAG over the months leading up to the conference, and the brochure updates lag behind. In the event the brochure elves slip up and there is a discrepancy, the AAG is the true schedule.

Workshop Recordings: All the open workshops/panel programming at conference are recorded. If you’re unable to be in two places at once, or if a class was especially helpful to you and you want to listen to it in the future, purchase a copy during conference at the recording room, next door to Boulder Creek. Orders placed before the end of the day on Saturday will be available on Sunday. Orders placed on Sunday will be shipped to you.

What to Wear: Dress comfortably for conference, and wear shoes that make walking easy. You’ll do a lot of walking at conference. Dress in layers to be sure you aren’t too hot or cold as the temperature shifts. Some people do dress up for the Friday Kickoff and Saturday Awards Banquets, but you’re going to see everything from jeans to cocktail dresses and capri pants to suits. Don’t be afraid to dress up, but be equally assured that you can wear whatever makes you comfortable.

Need a Break? Take a Break! You don’t have to attend a session every hour. If you need to take a break, then you’re totally welcome to skip a session, go back to your room, hang in the open areas, or find a quiet place to write.

Drink Water! CO is very dry, and if you’re not from here, it can come as quite a shock how easy it is to become dehydrated. Drink lots of water. Drink lots of water. Drink lots of water. And if you're not sure... DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

Meals: Your conference registration includes several meals:

  • Fri Lunch - ON YOUR OWN
  • Fri Dinner - Kickoff Banquet, Plated Meal, Included
  • Sat Breakfast - Continental style, Included (7-8a)
  • Sat Lunch - Buffet style, Included
  • Sat Dinner - Awards Banquet - Plated Meal, Included
  • Sun Breakfast - Continental style, Included (7-8a)
  • Sun Lunch - Buffet style, Included

Conference Badges: Your 2017 official conference badge must be worn AT ALL TIMES. If you are not wearing your official conference badge, you'll be asked to retrieve it. Without your official conference badge you will not be able to attend the meals. If you RSVP'd to bring a guest to any meals, your guest must wear their official guest badge in order to attend the meals. There will be no exceptions to this rule.

More Questions? Join our
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for Conference attendees!

Power-charge your blurb with hooks

As we prepare for this year’s RMFW conference, I’m guessing that many of you are tearing your hair out, trying to write good blurbs or condensing your 100,000-word novel into a short, captivating sentence worthy of the so-called “elevator pitch.”

I’m going to expand on a blog by my fellow RMFW blogger, Mary Gilgannon. She wrote, candidly and entertaining again this month, about how difficult it is to write good blurbs. When her publisher recently needed a blurb for her latest novel, she did the RMFW thing and consulted her writer friends. They met, brain-stormed, and she produced a good blurb.

I, too, cringe from writing blurbs. I’ve even given workshops on blurbs. I recognize great ones when I see them, and can de-construct them to reveal their strengths. I can write blurbs for other people. Yet sitting down to write my own? Blek.

Among her many other strengths, Kay Bergstrom is a genius at blurbs. I, too, used to use the journalistic approach Mary mentioned in her Aug. 4 blog. I thought of the blurb as a mini-synopsis. Thanks to Kay, I've come to think of the blurb more as a fishing expedition. Fish don't always want the same things, and all fish don't respond to the same temptations. Sometimes they want a sparkling lure, other times they’ll bite some drab, rubbery thingy. Sometimes its best to adjust your bobber so the hook sinks deeper in the water, other times more shallow. Whatever the variation, though, readers (and agents and editors) need to be hooked.

What are the currently hot tropes/hooks? The editors and agents are always quick to point out that they only know what they used to be—what they were last week, last month. They are ever-changing, fickle as the market.

There are some trusty tropes that seem to live forever, though. Cinderella. Survival. Strong female lead. Fish out of water. Returning home. Family betrayal. Change of fortunes.

What makes your story unique? I think this question is what paralyzes writers. Their answer (like ours) is probably … everything! “It’s my story,” we may say. “I’ve never seen anything like it, and there are many reasons why it’s unique.”  So we expound and expand.

If we stay with the fishing analogy, this would be like spilling a dump truck of junk into the water, gooey stuff that contains an odd mixture of many, many ingredients. Some of it may be really good, but it’s been amalgamated into an incomprehensible sludge.

Setting aside all the wonderfulness of your story, what sets your protagonist apart? Perhaps your response is: My novel has a kick-ass heroine. Okay, but how can you make that more interesting, and specific to your novel? Consider these from the archives:

Tough widow Norma Rae has a lot on her hands, working to the bone at a textile mill--and fighting to unionize her hazardous workplace.

Feisty young mother fights for justice any way she knows how. She takes on a powerful utility company and won’t take no for an answer. (Erin Brokovich)

 It is one woman’s fearless quest, criss-crossing the globe in an amazing attempt to save the world.  (Lara Croft, Tomb Raider)

 Gutsy Lieutenant O’Neil dares to earn a place with the elite Navy SEALS.  (G.I. Jane)

 Going beyond the cliché of something like “kick-ass heroine,” what dominant trait does your female protagonist possess? In what unique/interesting ways does she demonstrate that?

Be it kick-ass heroines, secret codes, ghosts, secrets, or intergalactic wars, remember to craft your hook as well as you crafted your book--and use tantalizing bait.

So here's your chance to practice before conference ... what's your blurb? Hook me!

What to Expect at 2017 Colorado Gold

The fun never ends at Conference HQ!

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

We have over 150 first-timers attending this year, and there are always little changes taking place, so I've put together this day-by-day run-through of what to expect at Colorado Gold this year.

Registration is SOLD OUT. Please make sure you register for the waiting list if you would like to attend. We do typically have last-minute cancellations and we will use the waiting list to bring new attendees on board.

Even though we are sold out, there are still a few sessions that existing attendees can ADD to their registration.

Sessions you can still add (if you're already registered):

  • Master Classes
  • Hypnosis Sessions (group or one-on-one available)
  • Audit Critique Round Table (select sessions only)

If you wish to add a session to your existing registration, the steps to do so are simple:

  1. Click on the SOLD OUT graphic from http://RMFW.org/conference
  2. When you get to the wait list page, click "already registered" and follow the prompts
  3. Click "OK"
  4. When you're at the summary page, click the MODIFY button on the upper row of buttons.
  5. Add your sessions.
  6. Click through to the end.
  7. Process your payment.

Don't Forget! Bring a Blank Journal to Conference!
RMFW Special Guest, Stuart Horwitz, is delighted to share: Book Architecture has partnered with Cocoon Journal, a non-profit organization that puts blank books in the hands of high school writers. The idea is that by writing, they can clear their head (and maybe generate the first draft of a future project). Do you have some blank journals lying around that you aren't using? Now, the solution: BRING THEM TO CONFERENCE! Cocoon Journal will be collecting unused, blank journals during Colorado Gold this September. You can also ship blank journals to: Cocoon Journal P.O. Box 740340, Arvada, CO 80006.

The At-A-Glance Schedule and Brochure

First, I wanted to point out that the At-A-Glance (AAG) schedule is organized by floor.

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

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

The right-most rooms, called the "Peak Rooms" on the schedule are located on the third floor. They aren't listed on the schedule individually because they are not part of the workshop space. This is where the one-on-ones, the critique groups, and other appointment-only sessions happen. These rooms include Blanca Peak, Longs Peak, Capital Peak, Gray's Peak, Bennett Peak, Maroon Peak, and Pike's Peak.

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

Registration

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

About Appointments and One-on-Ones

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

Handouts

Handouts are available online. Check the HANDOUTS page often as we get closer to conference and more are added by our presenters. Please download handouts to your device or print them at home. You *can* download them at the hotel using the public wifi in the common areas of the hotel, but you will have to leave the classrooms to do so. While there is Wi-Fi in the hotel, there is NO Wi-Fi in the classrooms. 

WiFi

Since this comes up quite often, it get's its own section! There is no WiFi in the classrooms for the presenters or for the attendees. WiFi is available in the common areas of the hotel.

Bookstore

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

Conference Recordings

CES recordings of all the workshops will be available for purchase near the registration table on the ballroom level. Place your order before the end of the day on Saturday for pickup on Sunday. Orders placed on Sunday will be shipped to you after conference.

And now... here's a day-by-day walk through of our wonderful conferece!


Friday, September 8

On Friday Morning, we have appointment-only sessions from 8am to 12pm.

  • Master Classes (still open for add-on registration)
  • Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables

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

Master Classes: The Master Classes are located on the ballroom level and atrium level. Check the schedule for your specific room and plan to arrive a few minutes early. Registration is available for these sessions if you're registered and wish to add it

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

Conference Officially Begins On Friday Afternoon:

  • 12pm:  New Attendee (or it's-been-awhile-attendee) Orientation Meeting (bring lunch or plan to eat before)
  • 1245pm: 15-minute Standing Yoga to get your day started out right! *stretch*
  • Regular Workshops
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • 2pm: Hypnosis Group Session (still open for add-on registration)
  • One-on-One Pitch Coaching Appointments
  • Afternoon Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables
  • Plated Banquet Dinner
  • Author Signing and Book Sale (free and open to the public)

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

Standing Yoga: Come as you are and enjoy a 15-minute yoga session to get your body ready for the afternoon sessions. Hosted by Bonnie Ramthun.

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

Hypnosis Group Session: This session will be held in Kingston Peak from 2-4pm. Registration is required. Join this session to unlock your potential and increase productivity, overcome writer’s block, and open up your imagination and creativity.

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

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

Friday Dinner: Plated Banquet Dinner on Friday is located in Ballrooms C/D at 6 PM. Join us as we welcome you, honor our volunteers and hear from Diana Gabaldon, our Kickoff Keynote Speaker. There will be a cash bar in the hall outside the ballrooms prior to dinner and a cash bar inside during the meal.

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


Saturday, September 9

On Saturday morning, we have:

  • 6am: 1-hour traditional Yoga Class in Ballroom A. Bring a towel or your own mat. (free and open to drop-in)
  • Hypnosis one-on-one sessions (still open for add-on registration)
  • Continental breakfast
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • NLA Story Clinic Master Class
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments
  • Buffet Lunch (new!)

Morning Yoga: 1-hour traditional yoga class. Bring a towel or your yoga mat from home and enjoy a 1-hour yoga session to get your body ready for the long day of conference. Hosted by Bonnie Ramthun.

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

Hypnosis One-on-One Session: These are available by appointment only. Experience an immersive one-on-one session to unlock your potential and increase productivity, overcome writer’s block, and open up your imagination and creativity.

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

NLA Story Clinic Special Intensive Master Class:  The NLA Story Clinic on Saturday morning is located in the Durango room on the atrium level.

Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments: Pitch Appointments are located on the third floor in the "Peak Rooms". Your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the pitch appointments located on the third floor. Please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before your appointment. If you have any questions or conflicts regarding your pitch appointment, you will need to speak to the volunteers at the third-floor check-in table. Additional pitch appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis while space allows. Any questions about booking additional free pitches should be handled at the check-in table for the pitches with our Pitch Master, Mike Ruchhoeft, and his team of volunteers.

On Saturday afternoon, we have:

  • Buffet Lunch (new!)
  • 1:15pm: 15-minute Standing Yoga to get your afternoon started out right! *stretch*
  • 1:30pm: Regular Workshops Begin
  • Hypnosis one-on-one sessions (still open for add-on registration)
  • Mentor Room
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments
  • One-on-One Critique/Blue Pencil Appointments
  • Awards Banquet Dinner
  • Author Readings

Lunch Saturday is provided. Buffet Lunch on Saturday is located in Ballrooms C/D at 12 PM. Join us as we honor our 2017 PEN Award recipients, and our 2017 Writers of the Year, Shannon Baker and Wendy Terrien.

Standing Yoga: Come as you are and enjoy a 15-minute yoga session to get your body ready for the afternoon sessions. Hosted by Bonnie Ramthun.

Hypnosis One-on-One Session: These are available by appointment only. Experience an immersive one-on-one session to unlock your potential and increase productivity, overcome writer’s block, and open up your imagination and creativity.

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

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

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

Awards Banquet Dinner: Plated Banquet Dinner is located in Ballrooms C/D at 6:30pm. Please join us for an evening of fun and celebration as we present awards to our Colorado Gold Writing Contest Finalists and Winners, the Jasmine Award, and hear an inspiring speech from our keynote speaker, Sherry Thomas. There will be a cash bar.

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

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


Sunday, September 10

On Sunday morning, we have:

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Regular Workshops
  • Hypnosis one-on-one sessions (still open for add-on registration)
  • Agent & Editor Pitch appointments
  • One-on-One Critique appointments
  • Farewell Luncheon with giveaways!

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

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

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

Hypnosis One-on-One Session: These are available by appointment only. Experience an immersive one-on-one session to unlock your potential and increase productivity, overcome writer’s block, and open up your imagination and creativity.

Farewell Luncheon: The farewell buffet luncheon will be located in Ballrooms C/D. Please join us as our keynote, Lori Rader-Day closes our conference with an inspirational speech and we draw winners for various giveaway prizes.


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

See you in September!

Checklist for Business Cards

Conference is just seven weeks away. Do you even need business cards? Now’s the time to decide and start designing them so you can take advantage of those great printing deals…and ensure that your card will work hard for you.

Over the years, I’ve shared my business cards with editors and agents during appointments and while circulating during programs and hallway conversations. I’ve also collected cards from graphic designers, editors, cover designers and other service providers.

Will you meet someone at conference and wish you had prepared one? Will you miss a connection with another writer that may prove useful and eventually enhance your support team?

Business cards can be useful well past conference time, too. I’m in two tennis leagues, and the Evergreen tennis team we played became very enthusiastic about my books. They all wanted a business card so they could look up my books on Amazon and iBooks. Because I spent the time preparing one for last year’s conference, I was able to distribute them.

I could have just as easily given them a bookmark, for example, or a postcard with my latest release on the front. Personally, my preferences have changed since I became an indie publisher. I no longer need postcards or bookmarks, as I did with my first two big book signings when I sent large mailings promoting them. I have found the business card to be a more convenient size throughout the year.

Should you decide it’s a good idea to have them at the ready, here’s a quick and dirty checklist.

Just the facts, Ma’am. Name, genre, website or Facebook page—make your card point to your strongest landing page.

Go first class! A poor quality card shouts poor quality writing or services. Upgrade your card stock, and remember that quality starts with you. Proof, proof, and proof again. Words are your business, so make every effort to get them right. Always put another set of eyeballs to your copy to catch errors like website URLs and email addies. Home printers are notorious for faded colors and colors that run if exposed to moisture, which also sends a bad message.

Strut your stuff! Same rules apply to cards as with book covers. Reveal your genre or service, which involves colors and hues. This includes your brand. If your website landing page and newsletter masthead features red, white and blue, design your card to echo the color theme for consistency.

Make a promise. If you provide service/s, don your “clever” hat and give them one good reason to contact you.

Send ‘em to your website. This will help you avoid a cluttered card with 6-point type that no one can read without strong reading glasses. It will also remind you to have your website or Facebook page up to date and operating properly, with all links working.

Be ready. What good is all this preparation if you don’t have your cards at the ready? Store them in your purse, pocket, car glove compartment, and briefcase.

Include a call to action. "Click here." Can't do that on a card, but include it in some way. "See my website for rate schedule/more info/free book offer--whatever entices them to act.

Research = inspiration. Play the information game. Give and collect cards. Check the free tables this year to see how other authors position/brand themselves, and what they include on their cards. This is not to promote copying them, but rather to give you inspiration to develop your own message and layout.   Research printers, too. There are some great deals out there, and if you order early, your odds for getting them in time are much higher.

"Do you have a card?"

Honoring Alice Kober – Our 2017 Honored Guiding Member

Each year around the Colorado Gold Conference, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers recognizes members who have significantly contributed to the success of our organization over the years. These individuals are honored for their talent and abilities, as well as the leadership they've shown.

It is my distinct pleasure to share with you this year's honoree. Please join me in honoring Alice Kober, who has been named this year's Honored Guiding Member.

2017 Honored Guiding Member

Alice Kober
Adult Fiction Librarian, Arapahoe Libraries

Alice Kober has been a member of RMFW for over 20 years. She has volunteered for numerous jobs, including Conference Chair and RMFW President, and was given the Jasmine Award in 2005 to honor the long-term service of individuals to the organization.

After writing for business for many years, she changed careers and became a librarian 15 years ago. She’s currently the Adult Fiction Collection Librarian for Arapahoe Libraries and buys both print and e-book fiction.

She especially loves buying books by Colorado authors.

Be sure to check out Alice's class at 2017 Colorado Gold Conference where she talks about the importance of book covers and the role they play in genre. From a librarian who chooses the books that sit on the shelves in Arapahoe County libraries, it's definitely a must-attend. Read more from Alice in an interview she did for the RMFW Blog!

Conference Update!

Can you believe conference is only two months away? I don't know about you but I am STOKED!

Things at Conference HQ have not stopped moving, and there is still more planning to come!

Here is an update on various pending items for attendees and those still thinking about attending. If you've already registered and wish to add a session to your registration, the instructions for doing so are at the bottom of this blog.

As always, if you have questions about any of these things, or run into trouble trying to add a session to your registration, just let me know at: conference@rmfw.org we also have the Conference Facebook page where you can connect with other attendees and ask questions.

Cheers!
Corinne O'Flynn
Conference Chair

Special Master Class Intensive: The Nelson Literary Agency Story Clinic | Register by July 15
Kristin Nelson, Danielle Burby, Angie Hodapp, James Persichetti
Each attendee will submit a 750-1,000-word synopsis for a story idea—one you're working on, stuck on, or unsure how to develop. Include specific questions or frustrations you have about your story idea. Manuscripts do not need to be complete. You’ll read and critique each attendee's synopsis ahead of time—not on its merits as a piece of writing, but on the story idea it presents—and be prepared to discuss with the NLA team what works, what doesn’t, and what it will take for each author to take their stories to the next level. Limit: 12, Register by July 15 - Currently on a waiting list.

Critique Round Tables | Register by 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 14 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.  Registration closes JULY 15, Pages are due Aug 9.

One-on-One Critiques | Pages Due JULY 20
Registration for these sessions closed July 1. If you signed up for a one-on-one critique with Keynotes Sherry Thomas or Lori Rader-Day, you should have received an email from the conference chair with instructions about submitting your pages. The one-on-one appointments with Keynote Diana Gabaldon are in a blue-pencil cafe format, which means you will bring your pages to be read real time.

Conference Bookstore | Sign up by JULY 15 for Bookstore
If you wish to have your books in the Conference Bookstore (runs Friday through Sunday during conference) you need to sign up by JULY 15th. Read the eligibility details on the link. Bookstore is for all members (even if you won't be there), presenters, vips, and other faculty. The Friday Book Sale is only open to PAL and IPAL members, presenters, vips, and other faculty. (PAL and IPAL are the trad and indie pub groups within RMFW.) As of this blog post, the Friday Signing Event is FULL. Check the conference Facebook page for updates if this changes.

Headshots | One Opening Left!
We had a cancellation which made a single headshot appointment available at conference. 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.

Open the Gates to Imagination and Creativity with Hypnosis
2-Hour Group Session: You’ve heard about hypnosis helping people stop smoking or lose weight. Did you know hypnosis can also help increase productivity, overcome writer’s block, and open up your imagination and creativity? Sign up for this group session to learn about hypnosis, and experience group hypnosis at its best with Easton Harrison, Certified Hypnotherapist. Registration is required. Space is limited.

Master Classes | Registration Open Through September
We have six amazing classes available this year, with some impressive faculty:

  • MFA in Half a Day: Your Guide to Artful Prose | Angie Hodapp
  • Self-Publish Like a Pro | David Gaughran
  • Deep Character Building: Analyze, Traumatize, Accessorize & Eulogize Your Character | Chris Mandeville
  • B.A.M!: Crafting Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction with the Book Architecture Method | Stuart Horwitz
  • Deep Revisions: Making the Good Even Better | Heather Webb
  • How to Write a Series that Sells | Susan Spann

Support Cocoon Journal - Bring a Blank Journal to Conference!
RMFW Special Guest, Stuart Horwitz, is delighted to share: Book Architecture has partnered with Cocoon Journal, a non-profit organization that puts blank books in the hands of high school writers. The idea is that by writing, they can clear their head (and maybe generate the first draft of a future project). Do you have some blank journals lying around that you aren't using?Now, the solution: BRING THEM TO CONFERENCE! Cocoon Journal will be collecting unused, blank journals during Colorado Gold this September. You can also ship blank journals to: Cocoon Journal P.O. Box 740340, Arvada, CO 80006.

 

How to edit your conference registration:

  1. Go to the registration link from RMFW.org/conference as if you're starting from scratch.
  2. When you get to the page that asks for name and email, click "already registered" and follow the prompts.
  3. Click "OK."
  4. When you're at the summary page, click MODIFY on the upper left.
  5. Make your changes.
  6. Click through to the payment screen and it should prompt you to pay only for the added item.

 

 

Conference Spotlight: Critique Round Table Sessions

Greeting from Conference HQ!

Thinking about signing up for a critique round table at conference? Act now, because registration is required and these sessions are filling up! NOTE: Registration for these sessions closes 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 14 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: You 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. He will provide details on everything, including where and how to submit your pages, which will be due August 9.

These sessions are a $40 add-on for participants, $15 for auditors. Deadline to register is July 15. Pages are Due Aug 9.

Invest in your Writing Career

If you didn’t attend the 2017 Annual Education Event last month in Golden, take a moment to kick yourself. Really.

The event was nearly sold out, and if not for a last minute storm that came through it would have been a tight fit to get everyone in, and for good reason. With a morning panel of published author, editor and agent, a small publisher speaking at lunch, and a panel of self-publishing experts in the afternoon, the full range of publishing options was well represented. We had lively Q&A sessions, specific information on what works and doesn’t straight from the editor and agent, and step-by-step instructions and timelines on self-publishing. It’s rare to have this many experts all in one place and those of us who braved the weather were well rewarded.

I often hear writers say they don’t go to workshops or conferences, or join groups like RMFW because they “can’t afford it.” I say if you want to be a published author, either traditionally or self, you can’t afford not to. Often new writers finish a story and think that because they got to “the end” it’s ready to go, only to be heartbroken when they can’t get an agent or publisher interested, or their 150,000 word tome sits on the Amazon shelf and doesn’t sell a single copy.

Attending education events can prevent heartache, and heartburn, by getting you to the place where you’re ready to submit or self-publish. It allows you to network with other writers, hook up with critique groups, and hear how other authors have overcome problems with their books. Big events like Colorado Gold have dozens of workshops that let you focus on areas you might be weak in, or you don’t know about.

Going it alone, trying to save a few bucks, will cost you in the long run. Cut back on a latte or two each month, watch network movies instead of paying for on-demand, have a yard sale and dedicate the profits to paying for a conference, or find some other non-critical habit you can cut back on and SPEND THE MONEY ON YOUR WRITING CAREER, if you actually want a career. RMFW costs $45 annually, and anyone who has attended a workshop that I moderated has heard me say it’s the best $45 you’ll ever spend. Most of our workshops are free. Conference has scholarships, volunteer opportunities, and low cost on-line classes. Genre-specific groups like Sisters in Crime or RWA offer the same things.

I know many writers, including me, don’t have unlimited funds to pay for attending events and classes, travel, software, cover art, etc. But as the adage says, fail to plan and you plan to fail. Set a budget of money you can allocate. Just $10 a month gets you a RMFW membership and you still have more than half of it left over for an on-line class or two. If you can manage $50 per bi-monthly payroll, you’ll have more than enough to attend a major conference each year, plus membership fees for a couple groups. We all have stuff we don’t need – put it on Craig’s List and stash the proceeds in your writing fund. You don’t have to shortchange your family or let bills go unpaid to support your writing habit, you just have to make a plan and stick to it.

It’s time to think about Colorado Gold in September. You still have time to register, but from what I’ve heard they will probably sell out. If you can’t swing Gold, at least get your plan in place going forward. Get the education you need to produce the best possible book you can, and WRITE ON!