Why I Entered the Colorado Gold Contest

I was thrilled to hear this week that I was a finalist in the Colorado Gold Writer’s contest, but why should you care? Well, if you are a multi-published author, you probably don’t, and shouldn’t. But if you’re a writer struggling to get your work in front of agents and/or editors, maybe you should.typewriter winner

Colorado Gold, and other contests like it, is a GREAT way for you to get your work exposed to acquiring editors and agents. They are also really good at making you hone your craft. And teach you to be careful with submission guidelines (I lost 2 of 5 points for submitting a DOCx file instead of DOC).

The score sheets and comments on the manuscript are really helpful for seeing if there is a consensus that something may need to be tweaked, and they make you look closer at your writing. I always have to read them, rant just a little, then re-read and determine which comments I have to (sometimes grudgingly) agree with.

I’ve entered several contests over the years, with my scores starting below 50 (out of 100) and gradually, as I improved my craft, rising until I’ve finaled in the last four I entered, with three different manuscripts. So far, always a bridesmaid, never a bride – but I have high hopes for Gold.

I’ve learned that not all judges are great, and some are truly fantastic. One judge became a mentor for me, reviewed my edited submission, and gave me a blurb for my novel (which, alas, hasn’t sold enough to prevent me from qualifying for Gold!). I’ve also learned to thank my judges, if I’m given a method for doing so, and to NEVER dis a judge. Reading is subjective. I can’t always explain why I love or hate a book, scene, or character, while others rave about them. Judges are human, and have likes and dislikes; one judge may give you very low scores, while two others are much higher. Those same judges might be sitting next to you at a conference or workshop. They won’t know whose pages they judged, but if you’re sitting there telling them about your story and how bad the judge was, trust me, they’ll remember. Likewise, if you talk about how much you learned about your writing from the judge’s scores and comments, they might just be willing to open a door that helps your career along.

My biggest challenge now is to make sure I put as much effort into the other 350 pages as I did those first 10 the judges saw. I’ve heard a lot of stories about editors and agents who can tell, to the word, how far into the manuscript the writer had polished for submitting to contests and critiques and then didn’t bother with the rest.

winner imageIf you didn’t submit, and you do qualify for the contest, consider it, or others, in the future. For the small price of admission you get new sets of eyes on your work, and get a feel for how you fit within your genre in relation to other writers. If you, like me, notice your scores are rising, it’s a great feeling to know that you are improving as a writer – plus the plaques look really pretty on the wall.

So, as always, I urge us all to Write On!

RMFW and me . . . and you.

RMFW's Colorado Gold conference is in a few weeks, and, of course, I'm going.

In fact, this year I am an "Honored Guiding Member" which means I've been in RMFW for a **mumbledy mumble** years. Okay, we'll just leave it at decades.

And, yes, RMFW has given me some awesome awards (I've been Writer of the Year twice and received the Jasmine service award). And, yes, I've been a member of a few . . . several . . . many committees and boards.

But that's not what's important to me. What's important is that Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers taught me how to write.

That is the simple truth. My critique group taught me how to write.

And my critique group continues to help me with my writing. They are my closest friends.

So that's the basis of my relationship with RMFW. It gave me friends and it taught me to write, and when a volunteer organization does that, a person feels like they have to give back, so I did and I have.

The basic unit for me of RMFW is my critique group.

After the critique group are the larger classes, the get-togethers. When I joined there were monthly in-person business meetings followed by seminars or presentations. I attended most of those, soaking up technique and different points of view and processes of writing...and information on publishing. Now, I attend the presentations when a topic applies to my work (private detectives), or when I'm asked to help out (earlier this year).

So, basic unit the critique group, next level up is the monthly presentations and gatherings, then come semi-annual Writer of the Year revelation and panels and the winter holiday party. I rarely miss those.

Another level is the Colorado Gold Writing Contest, more often than not, I judge contest entries, though I have had busy years with deadlines that I haven't been able to be a judge. I swung back into that stream this year and am pleased to see a couple of the entries I judged have made the finals, as well as one by a critique buddy.

Yes, I'm pleased to help beginning writers, and I enjoy reading good work that is completely different than my genre and world view (I write fantasy and fantasy romance).

Finally, there is the one and only Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' annual Colorado Gold conference. I can't recall the last time I missed one. In fact, I don't think I have missed one in . . . decades. This year I changed the dates of a family trip because I wouldn't miss the Colorado Gold – and I gave up my dibs on the family Bronco tickets to the Broncos-Panthers game because it is the Thursday before conference which is the meet-and-greet with our out of town guests (for volunteers).

Yes, I try to present a workshop myself at the conference, mostly on self-motivation or on characters. This year, as an Honored Guiding Member, my topic is on writing series (on Sunday, one of the last sessions). I'm in the midst of two series now, and have written another two.

But most of all at the conference I enjoy meeting with other writers, no matter what genre or level of writing they're at. If brainstorming is needed, that's fine. Or character motivation or development. Or finding your own writing process.

There's nothing like talking to other writers and knowing that their eyes won't glaze over in two minutes.

So, at whatever level you are in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, WELCOME! I hope you find a home here like I have.

And may all your writing dreams come true.
Robin

Tips for Pitching Your Novel to an Agent or Editor

With Colorado Gold just around the corner (and other conferences happening around the country throughout the rest of the summer and the autumn), many authors are preparing to pitch a manuscript to a literary agent, an editor, or both. In hopes of reducing stress and helping you land a request for pages, here are some tips for pitching your work to publishing professionals:

1. BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN (AND PITCH) YOUR BOOK IN A SINGLE SENTENCE.

Yes. ONE sentence. No more than a single breath - and that's not negotiable. The longer you talk before the conversation part of the pitch begins (see tip #2...) the less likely the agent or editor is to ask to read your manuscript.

The point of the initial one-sentence "elevator pitch" is to make the listener want to read the book, or at least to ask you for more information. The initial pitch is not the place to explain your protagonist's intricate backstory, six things that happened before the novel opens, or your favorite twisted subplot involving a carp full of angry bees.

Find a way to explain your book in a single sentence. You don't have to tell the entire story--just enough to make the listener curious enough to want to know more. (If you're having trouble condensing or figuring out what to say in that sentence, sign up for a pitch coaching session, ask a friend for help, or read up on elevator pitches in various trustworthy corners of the Internet.)

2. REMEMBER THAT PITCHING IS A CONVERSATION, NOT A MONOLOGUE.

When you sit down with an editor or agent (or ask to pitch them elsewhere at the conference), the opening salvo is a single sentence (or single breath) but after that--if the listener is interested in your work--there's going to be a conversation.

Yes, I know that's terrifying. Yes, you have to do it anyway.

The good news (great news, really) is that agents and editors are human beings, and I have never known one to actually bite an author in public. (Lawyers, like me, are another story. Get your shots before you engage.) Jokes aside: try to remember that agents and editors come to conferences voluntarily in order to find new authors and projects to acquire. They love stories, books, and publishing. . .just like we do. Plan for your pitch to involve a conversation, and try to enjoy it.

3. KNOW YOUR GENRE AND TARGET AUDIENCE.

It's not enough to know your book and be able to pitch it succinctly. You need to follow up by knowing the genre and target audience for your book. (Spoiler alert: "ALL GENRES IN ONE" and "EVERY LIVING HUMAN" are not the right answers.) Every traditionally published book will have to be placed on a specific shelf in a bookstore or library--and you need to know which shelf that is before you pitch to an agent or publishing house.

(Note: author-publishers have a bit more freedom if their plans for the work do not involve library, bookstore, or similar sales. Otherwise, this applies to self-published authors as well, though admittedly not in the agent/editor context.) 

4. RESEARCH THE AGENT (OR EDITOR'S PUBLISHING HOUSE) AHEAD OF TIME.

Agents and editors normally specialize in certain types of books and certain genres. Pitching your dystopian YA romance to an agent who only represents mystery wastes your time (and also the agent's), and offering your erotic graphic novel to a children's publishing house won't end much better.

Most agents and publishing houses have websites. Visit those sites, as well as the agent or editor's Facebook and Twitter feeds (if any) before the conference. Know the person you're pitching and his or her preferences as well as possible, so you know how to pitch your work to best advantage.

5. DON'T RE-PITCH THE SAME PROJECT (UNLESS IT'S TRULY A DIFFERENT BOOK).

This is a difficult one for many authors, especially those for whom it takes more than a year to write a book. However, it's also a serious turn-off to literary agents and editors to hear a pitch for the same project they considered (and, presumably, passed on) once before.

Exceptions to this are:

  • Where the agent or editor asked you to revise and resubmit, and you've finished and polished the project as requested.
  • Where you have revised the project so much, and so thoroughly, that it truly constitutes a different project. (Have someone else evaluate it if you can't be objective.)

Literary agents hear a lot of "repeat pitches" for the same projects, and I've never heard of one changing his or her mind unless the book was truly different. You'll have a much better chance approaching a different agent or editor--or writing a new and even better book! (And you CAN write another, better book. Trust me. I had to do it five times before I found my agent, and although those years were difficult, I learned a lot along the way. If I could do it, you can do it too.)

6. HAVE FUN.

7.  NO, SERIOUSLY. THIS IS ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.

Pitching your work to an agent or editor means .... (wait for it...) YOU FINISHED A MANUSCRIPT! That's awesome, and something to celebrate! Don't let it go entirely to your head, but be proud of your achievement, proud of your book, and happy about the fact that you have a manuscript to pitch.

Authors often feel frightened of pitching because they find industry professionals intimidating to talk with. (Don't. They put peas in their ears just like you do. On second thought, nevermind. And my mother says "don't put peas in your ears.") Sometimes authors worry that agents and editors won't like their manuscripts. Maybe not everyone will...but no one will if you don't try.

If you're still nervous, come find me at Colorado Gold or talk to another author who's been through the pitching process and come out the other side. (There are lots of us, and we're glad to talk with you about our experiences.) Pitching isn't easy, but if you go in with the right attitude, it can be educational and fun.

Pitching veterans...what are YOUR top tips for pitching an agent or editor at a conference?

In Love with Colorado Gold

I just realized that the Colorado Gold conference is less than a month away, and I did a little happy dance right in the middle of my kitchen.

This is, unreservedly, my favorite conference, the only no brainer when I sit down to plan my conference going schedule for the year. Okay, who am I kidding? I never really sit down and plan a year worth of everything. But it's true that I don't have to even think about whether I'll be heading to Colorado in September.

What makes this conference so special?

I'm glad you asked.

Part of the awesome is the great workshops, the pitch appointments, the pitch coaching, the fabulous keynote speakers, and the always top notch organization and programming. And these are all wonderful reasons to attend. But what really sets Colorado Gold apart is the group of writers who come here.

This is the warmest, friendliest, most accessible conference I have ever been to. From the very first day of my very first time, I felt welcome, comfortable, and like I belonged. If you, like me, always feel a bit out of sync with the rest of the world, then you know how incredibly wonderful it is to find somebody you click with. And when you find a whole group of people who get you?

Priceless.

It seems I'm not the only one who feels this way. I asked my writer friends on Facebook who are Colorado Gold regulars what they love about this conference, and here's what some of them had to say:

What Colorado Gold Writers Have to Say
What Colorado Gold Writers Have to Say

Colorado Gold is the perfect size: big enough to invite quality teachers and speakers, and small enough to prevent first timers from getting lost. There are hosted tables at the group dinners, which facilitate making connections and new friends. Usually there's a hospitality room set aside where we can hang out and have a few drinks in the evening. And yes, there is always the bar.

So if you've never been, consider making this your con this year. It's not too late to register. When you get there, be sure to find me and say hi.

Conference Workshop Preview: 25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Since I typed the END to my first manuscript to the release of my 10th traditionally published book on August 15th
(The Assassin’s Kiss,if you’re interested) I’ve learned so much about the business and industry we’re in. Some good. assassins_kissSome bad.

In September at the RMFW Conference I’ll be facilitating a workshop on the things I’ve learned, but in the meantime, I’ll spill some BIG INDUSTRY SECRETS.

Like I know any.

But I do know the struggle--the ups and downs, the roller coaster of signing contracts, marketing, failing and getting back up.

If you didn’t already know, I hold a record of specific distinction around town. I amassed over 1,000 rejections before I sold my first book.

So trust me when I declare, this business is all about patience. That’s my greatest advice. The slow and steady wins this race. Write. Work hard. Submit. Grin and bear each rejection. And celebrate the hell out of each victory.

25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Friday, Sept 9th 4-4:50pm Durango Room

Last workshop of the day! Margaritas welcome and very encouraged.

Do you have any burning questions about going from pre-pubbed to multi? Or better yet, any advice for the journey you’d give a new writer?

What to Expect at the 2016 Colorado Gold Conference

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

We've also added some new programming to the schedule this year—testing the waters in an attempt to give you all more opportunities to learn and grow and hone your craft.

I thought it would be helpful to do a kind of walk-through of the conference explaining what to expect each day.

The At-A-Glance Schedule

First, I wanted to point out that the at a glance 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. They 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 brochure, which is available online right now. You will also receive a printed 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. Please download to your device or print them before coming to conference. There is NO WI-FI in the classrooms. 

WiFi

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

Joyco 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 conference and you'll pick up your recordings before you leave.


Friday, September 9

On Friday Morning, we have:

  • Master Classes
  • 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.

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.

On Friday Afternoon, we have:

  • Regular Workshops
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • Hook Your Book Appointments
  • One-on-One Pitch Coaching Appointments
  • Afternoon Agent & Editor Critique Round Tables
  • Buffet Dinner
  • Author Signing and Book Sale

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

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.

Hook Your Book appointments: Hook Your Book is located in the Aspen room on the atrium level. If you signed up for an appointment, your specific appointment details will be included in your registration packet. There will be a separate check-in table for the Hook Your Book sessions located outside the Aspen room. Please arrive 10 minutes before your appointment to check in.

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: Buffet dinner on Friday is located in Ballrooms C/D at 6 PM. Join us as we welcome you and hear from the 2016 Writers of the Year. 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 10

On Saturday morning, we have:

  • Continental breakfast
  • Morning Author Readings
  • Mentor Room Appointments
  • One Master Class
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments

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

Author Readings in Ballroom A: Feel free to grab some breakfast, and listen in to the authors read their work live. If you signed up to read your work, you will have received your appointment details from our author signing coordinator. Please make sure you arrive before your scheduled reading time.

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.

Master Class:  The Master Class on Saturday morning is located in the Aspen 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.

On Saturday afternoon, we have:

  • New Attendee Luncheon
  • Regular Workshops
  • Mentor Room
  • One Master Class
  • Agent & Editor Pitch Appointments
  • One-on-One Critique/Blue Pencil Appointments
  • Awards Banquet Dinner
  • Author Readings

Lunch on Saturday afternoon is not provided. Lunch is available in the hotel restaurant, or many off-site locations. Please consult the back of the brochure for a list of nearby restaurant options.

New Attendee Luncheon: If you signed up to attend the new attendee luncheon, you will receive a ticket in your registration packet. This meeting will be located in the Vail room on the atrium level. New attendees who wish to attend this lunch must have signed up ahead of time. However, if you are a new attendee and wish to bring lunch or sit in on this meeting without taking part in the food, you are welcome to attend the meeting without prior registration.

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.

Master Class:  The Master Class on Saturday morning is located in the Aspen 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.

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: Dinner is located in Ballrooms C/D. Please join us for an evening of fun and celebration as we present awards for the year and hear an inspiring speech from our keynote speaker, Robert Sawyer. There will be a cash bar.

Author Readings in Ballroom A: 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 11

On Sunday morning, we have:

  • Continental Breakfast
  • Author Readings
  • Regular Workshops
  • Agent & Editor Pitch appointments
  • One-on-One Critique appointments
  • Farewell Luncheon

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

Author Readings in Ballroom A: Feel free to grab some breakfast, and listen in to the authors read their work live. If you signed up to read your work, you will have received your appointment details from our author signing coordinator. Please make sure you arrive before your scheduled reading time.

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.

Farewell Luncheon: The farewell luncheon will be located in Ballrooms C/D. Please join us as our keynote Ann Hood closes our conference with an inspirational speech.


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

See you in September!

 

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.

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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!