Category Archives: RMFW Conference

Colorado Gold Conference Master Class: Author’s Guide to Social Media

The five master classes scheduled for Friday during the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference (September 20-22 in Denver) are featured on this blog August 7, August 8, August 12, August 20, and August 29.

Author’s Guide to Social Media
Instructor: Bree Ervin
Friday, September 20, 8:00-11:50 Telluride

The social media master class is a hands on course that will give participants the confidence they need to get going on social media. We will go over the basics of the most popular social media sites, become familiar with the lingo and jargon as well as the tools that can be used to make it all more painless. The rest of the time will be spent learning best practices, ways to use social media effectively and how not to alienate all your friends! You’ll learn how not to feed the trolls, and, more importantly, how not to be a troll.

This course will NOT teach you how to become a best selling author using only social media, because that’s impossible. It WILL give you the raw unvarnished truth about what social media can and cannot do for you.

It is recommended that all participants set up Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail accounts and a blog (even if they have never actually used any of the above) prior to coming to class.

Bree ErvinBree Ervin has worked as an independent editor and marketer for 5 years. She was head of social marketing at a corporate firm before striking out on her own. She has since helped authors develop and deploy their own social media plans.

The registration link for the Colorado Gold Conference scheduled for September 20-22, 2013, is http://www.rmfw.org/conference/. The deadline to register for Master Classes is September 15th. The cost of each workshop is $50 add-on to the regular conference fee. More information on the conference schedule, hotel accommodations, and presenters is available in the brochure at: http://www.rmfw.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Colorado-Gold-Brochure-07.17.13.pdf. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Brooks, Conference Chair, conference@rmfw.org

Why I’m Loyal to RMFW

By Mike Befeler

I’ve been to every RMFW Gold Conference since 2002. The first year I went, I had no clue what I was doing. A writing friend had suggested the conference, so I decided to give it a shot. She was the only person I knew at the conference.

I had started writing in the fall of 2001, having made the decision that I wanted to retire into fiction writing. I had learned that if you’re 55 or over you can take any course for free at the University of Colorado with the instructor’s permission and had signed up for a fiction writing course. I also negotiated with my boss so that I could work 3 days a week, allowing me to take the course and do some writing.

In fact, the first day I was going to write for the whole morning was a Tuesday morning in September. I got organized at my writing desk and was about to start when my phone rang. It was the CEO of the company I worked for asking if I had seen the reports on what had happened. I hadn’t watched television that morning because I didn’t want to get distracted from my first morning of writing. That was September 11, and, needless to say, I never got any writing done that day.

At my first conference I learned about critique groups and over the years have joined several RMFW critique groups, which helped me improve my writing.

By 2005 I had a novel that I decided to submit in the mystery category for the contest at the conference. I didn’t place in the top 3 but received a packet back with some excellent suggestions and madly rewrote my manuscript, so by the time of the conference, I had an improved novel that I had a lot of confidence in. At the conference that year, I pitched my idea to two agents and two editors. Deni Dietz of Five Star liked the concept and told me to email my complete manuscript to her.

After the conference, I went home, completed one more editing pass on my manuscript, emailed it to Deni and crossed my fingers. Two months later I received an email with a contract offer, and my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in January, 2007, the result of a pitch session at the RMFW conference.

Attending the first conference in 2001, I took careful notes on writing craft, which helped me improve my skills. Then I started paying attention to how to pitch a novel, which prepared me for 2005. Next, I focused on sessions of what to do to sell your novel once it’s been published. I still attend as many sessions as possible, and learn more each year.

That’s the beauty of being in the writing world. It’s an ongoing education.

See you at the RMFW Gold Conference this year.

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

Mike Befeler is active in organizations promoting a positive image of aging. He holds a Master’s degree from UCLA and a Bachelor’s degree from Stanford. Author of the popular “geezer lit” Paul Jacobson mystery series, he has recently branched out into standalones such as The V V Agency.

Knock Your Pitch Out of the Park!

By Susan Spann

Since I’m doctoring pitches one-on-one at the Colorado Gold Conference in September, it seemed natural to start my posting here on the RMFW blog by looking at pitch construction.

I’ve got two guest posts between now and Colorado Gold, so here’s Part 1 of a 2-part series on “How to Build a Winning Pitch Pitch”

Now, there are many ways to construct a pitch, and I don’t claim my way is the only one. It is, however, the one I used when pitching my debut Shinobi mystery, CLAWS OF THE CAT, and the one I use when helping other people pitch.

Winning pitches do one thing: they make a listener want to read your book.

Always keep that goal in mind. If your pitch does not intrigue, it fails, regardless of its contents. You start constructing a pitch by culling four elements from your work. We’ll look at those elements today and then, on September 19, we’ll put them together (just in time for the RMFW Conference!).

1. Who is the protagonist? Describe him (or her) with 1-2 adjectives.

For example: a ninja detective.

2. Who is your active antagonist?

The active antagonist is the person, place, or thing the hero is fighting against for most of the novelthe thing that creates “the stakes.” This might or might not be the same as the antagonist the hero ultimately defeats or reveals, especially in a mystery novel, because unlike a synopsis, the elevator pitch does not reveal the ending of the story.

3. Stakes! (Preferably, through the protagonist’s heart).

Note that I haven’t asked about where the hero started the journey, how many quirky talking teapots (s)he meets along the way, or why there’s a pregnant emu at the turn from Act 2 to Act 3. For purposes of your pitch, none of that is important.

Having trouble with stakes? Try to answer the question: What does your protagonist have to accomplish before “the end,” and why will the world fall apart if he or she fails?

Answer it in one sentence or less. If you can’t, you might need to revisit your plot.

In my novel, the stakes are clear: a ninja detective must find a killer in three days time, or the ninja, his Jesuit friend, and a lovely young geisha will die. In addition, the death of the priest will plunge Japan into war with Portugal.

Those are stakes.

Stakes can be personal (death, financial ruin, homelessness, exile) or large-scale (war, natural disaster, the end of the world). Many novels feature both. A novel without stakes is boring, and a pitch which doesn’t reveal the stakes won’t pique a listener’s interest.

Which brings us to the fourth and final element of the pitch:

4. High Concept.

High concept is premise. It’s what makes your story unique. In a nutshell, “high concept” is a concept with mass appeal that you can sum up in one sentence or less.

The high concept for my mystery series is ninja detective. The high Concept for the movie JAWS is “killer shark.”

Your high concept might not appear in your pitch, but creating the pitch with high concept in mind will always result in a stronger pitch than one which ignores high concept.

Struggling with high concept? Try the “What if” method: summarize your story in no more than 15 words, the first two of which must be “What if?”

Between now and my next guest post on September 19, your homework is to pull these four elements out of YOUR work and get ready to pitch like a pro! Then, tune in for our second installment, in which we discuss transforming your elements into a winning pitch.

Do you have an elevator pitch for your work in progress? Does it utilize all four of these critical elements?

Bio: Susan Spann is a transactional attorney and former law school professor whose practice focuses on business and publishing law. Her debut Shinobi mystery, Claws of the Cat (Minotaur Books) released on July 16, 2013. You can find Susan online at http://www.susanspann.com, or on Twitter @SusanSpann, where she created the #PubLaw hashtag to provide business and legal information for authors.

 

Colorado Gold Conference Master Class: The Only Character Class You’ll Ever Need

We’ll be featuring information about the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference and the Friday morning master classes throughout the month.

The Only Character Class You’ll Ever Need
Instructor: Trai Cartwright
Friday, September 20, 8:00-11:50 Platte River

From your hero to your villain to your comedic relief, characters are what every story is all about. Learn the key questions to ask yourself when you start creating the people that populate your fiction, how to build them in a dynamic, dramatic way, and of course, what to do with them once you’ve got them. We’ll discuss arcs, motivation, and why you never ever give your character what they want. Then we’ll move from a conceptual perspective to a craft one by breaking down 10 techniques for making our characters come to life.

This master class hits on all levels: from understanding how to build a protagonist (and a villain), to knowing how to assign roles for the secondary characters, and then of course looking at how a character’s story drives the plot (I firmly believe it’s not the other way around), and then even exploring motivation with some Shakespearean actor-ly input. Finally, I show them ten fiction-writing techniques, 5 overt and 5 subtexual, for taking all those those thoughts and ideas and executing them on the page in a high-level craft-intensive way.

Trai Cartwright HeadshotTrai Cartwright, MFA, is a 20-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing specialist. While in Los Angeles, she was a development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. A new Denver arrival, Trai currently teaches creative writing, film studies and screenwriting for Colorado universities, MFA residencies, writers groups, conferences, and one-on-one as an editor for fiction and screenplays. More information is available at Trai’s Craftwrite website.

The registration link for the Colorado Gold Conference, scheduled for September 20-22, 2013, is http://www.rmfw.org/conference/ The deadline to register is September 15th. The cost of each workshop is $50 add-on to the regular conference fee.

Additional information on the conference schedule, hotel accommodations, and presenters is available in the brochure at: http://www.rmfw.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Colorado-Gold-Brochure-07.17.13.pdf. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Brooks, Conference Chair, conference@rmfw.org

Colorado Gold Conference Master Class — Formatting and Distributing to the Big Three: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks

We’ll be featuring information about the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference and the Friday morning master classes throughout the month.

Formatting and Distributing to the Big Three: Amazon, B&N, and iBooks
Instructor: Jessica France
Friday, September 20, 8:00-11:50 Ballroom A

Join author and publishing consultant Jessica France for a step-by-step workshop on how to take your manuscript from a single Word or Pages document to clean, compliant e-book formats for the top three digital markets. At the end of the workshop, you’ll leave with knowledge of a reliable conversion process based on freely available software that will quickly get your book exported to files for the Amazon KDP, Barnes & Noble, PubIt, and Apple iTunes marketplaces. Attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops with a finished manuscript, although it is not required. Bonus instructions will include how to further create a clean file for Smashwords submission.

Attendees will be leaving the class with lots of cheat sheets and shortcuts for working with Microsoft Word, and some bonus info on how to create their own covers for free (or very low cost). Those who arrive with Amazon’s Kindle Gen and Kindle Previewer software already downloaded, the Calibre software, and Google Sigil will have a head start on the rest of the class.

Jessica FranceJessica France is an independently published author who provides publishing assistance to new and established writers across all genres. She has been writing web content and mastering the digital sphere for over 10 years and continues to do so as a business partner at Mission Marketing and Content Systems. Jessica’s brain child is the indieBook Library, a website which aims to provide a wealth of free resources for independent authors and presses to help them produce the best books possible.

The registration link for the Colorado Gold Conference, scheduled for September 20-22, 2013, is http://www.rmfw.org/conference/. The deadline to register is September 15th. The cost of each workshop is $50 add-on to the regular conference fee.

Additional information on the conference schedule, hotel accommodations, and presenters is available in the brochure at: http://www.rmfw.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Colorado-Gold-Brochure-07.17.13.pdf. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Brooks, Conference Chair, conference@rmfw.org.

Colorado Gold Conference Master Class: Copyediting for Fun and Profit

We’ll be featuring information about the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference and the Friday morning master classes throughout the month.

Master Class: Copyediting for Fun and Profit
Instructor: Angie Hodapp
Friday, September 20, 8:00-11:50 Ballroom B

Copyediting is tough. It takes years of professional practice just to become proficient. Whether you’re interested in learning to copyedit for yourself or for others, this intensive, hands-on master class will set you on the right path. How do you mark up a manuscript? Why are there so many style manuals, and which one is best for copyediting fiction? Is it better to copyedit on paper or on screen? What’s the difference between copyediting and proofreading? Is editing fiction different from editing nonfiction? How do you find clients, and what should you charge? Come find out!

Headshot_Angie HodappAngie Hodapp holds an MA in English and is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute. A 2011 winner of the Colorado Gold Contest and a 2012 semifinalist in the Writers of the Future Contest, she has extensive editorial experience in both the book- and magazine-publishing industries. She has taught workshops and developed curricula for Writer’s Digest University and currently works at Nelson Literary Agency in Denver.

The registration link for the Colorado Gold Conference, scheduled for September 20-22, 2013, is http://www.rmfw.org/conference/ The deadline to register is September 15th. The cost of each workshop is $50 add-on to the regular conference fee.

Additional information on the conference schedule, hotel accommodations, and presenters is available in the brochure at: http://www.rmfw.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2013-Colorado-Gold-Brochure-07.17.13.pdf. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Brooks, Conference Chair, conference@rmfw.org

Scrub Your Mindscape Clean

By Mark Stevens

Skip the tips.

Forget everything you’ve learned.

Put down your copy of 100 Fabulous Secrets to Better Writing Now!

Move away from the stack of books you slowly acquired ever since you first had the thought that you might want to write fiction. (Spoiler alert: all those books pretty much all say the same thing. They are as repetitive as magazines about how to swing a golf club. Or how to diet.)

That’s right.

Forget it all.

Put it aside, shove it to the back of your brain or, even better, scrub the whole mindscape clean. Lesson-free, worry-free, anxiety-proofed. Silence the inner coach.

Oh yeah, one more thing: don’t even think about your favorite author or some writing style you’d like to emulate.

There. Got it?

Now, tell me a story. Only, pretend I’m in a soundproof room and you’re going to have to slide me pages under the door as the story unfolds—as you write it down. In your writing voice. With your words.

Okay, there you go.

Here’s what I want: I want to know your character—inside and out. And, well, it would be pretty cool if something actually, you know, happened.

There must be a reason this is a story and not just an account of some random, meaningless day. Or week. Or series of connected events.

My point? My point is sometimes you have to get back to basics. And those basics are:

1. See clearly.
2. Describe honestly.
3. Keep things moving.

Sometimes (drum roll, please) you just have to write.

And write some more.

(Of ALL the writing advice you’ve received over the years, isn’t that the most common refrain? “Write every day.” “Keep on writing.” “Write, write, write.” “Write a million words.” Or some such variation. Has one writing coach or respected elder of the writing community ever suggested that you think more or suck your thumb harder? Didn’t think so.)

And after you’ve written, have some other readers check what you’ve written, to see if they get the story you’re trying to tell.

That’s it.

Your voice, your words, your damn story.

It’s bound to be one of a kind.

But if you do need a jump-start or if you’re looking for that one magical moment of inspiration, come to Colorado Gold, RMFW’s massively brilliant three-day conference Sept. 20, 21 and 22 in Denver.

For more information about the conference, visit the RMFW website.

I can promise you one thing: you won’t starve for advice.

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Mark Stevens is the President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the author of the Western hunting guide Allison Coil mysteries Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan.