2017 Keynote Speakers

Diana Gabaldon, Sherry Thomas &
Lori Rader-Day

Got Questions? Contact Corinne O'Flynn, Conference Chair at conference@rmfw.org.

2017 Colorado Gold Conference
September 8-10, 2017
Renaissance Hotel
Denver, Colorado

Workshop Proposal Submissions
Submit Proposals Jan 1 - March 31, 2017

Download the Proposal Submission Worksheet to help you prepare for the submission form.

Attendee Registration Opens May 1, 2017

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Conference Calendar

Jan 1: Proposal Submissions Open
Mar 31: Proposal Submissions Close
Apr 20: Proposal Presenters Notified
May 1: Registration Opens
Sept 8: 2017 Colorado Gold!

About Colorado Gold Conference

Every year, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is pleased to present the Colorado Gold Conference, where hundreds of writers from all over the US and beyond gather for a full weekend of writerly camaraderie, exciting programming, and opportunities to pitch projects to the industry's top agents and editors. Programming focuses on the following key areas such as craft improvement, genre knowledge, career management, industry savvy, and continuing education and professional development for published authors.

Whether you're new to the idea of becoming a writer or you're a veteran published author, whether you hope to pursue a traditional publishing contract with a big New York publishing house or launch a self-publishing venture, you're sure to find the skills, knowledge, inspiration, motivation, and support you need at Colorado Gold.

Keynote Speakers

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as "the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics."

The adventure began in 1991 with the classic OUTLANDER ("historical fiction with a Moebius twist"), has continued through seven more New York Times-bestselling novels— DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, DRUMS OF AUTUMN, THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, AN ECHO IN THE BONE, and WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD, with more than twenty-eight million copies in print worldwide.

The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, Volumes One and Two, which are nonfiction (well, relatively) works which provide details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the first eight novels in the Outlander series of novels. Gabaldon (it’s pronounced “GAA-bull-dohn”—rhymes with “stone”) has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS, and THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.

Diana is serving as a Co-Producer and advisor for the popular Outlander TV series, produced by the Starz network and Tall Ship Productions and distributed by Sony International, which is based on her novels. She has written a script for an episode of the series, also.

Her main current writing project is the ninth major novel in the OUTLANDER series, GO TELL THE BEES THAT I AM GONE.

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.

Diana and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas writes historical romance, historical mystery, and young adult fantasy.

On the romance side, she is one of the most acclaimed authors working in the genre today, her books regularly receiving starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.

On the young adult fantasy side, THE BURNING SKY, book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy, was a finalist for the 2014 RITA® Award for Best Paranormal Romance, the 2014 Pick for Tayshas State Reading List (Texas), has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and been named to the Autumn ’13 Kids’ Indie Next List.

On the historical mystery side, her brand-new A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN, released this month to critical acclaim:

“Clever and absorbing. Thomas’s gorgeous prose and expert characterizations shine in this new incarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Readers will wait with baited breath to discover how Thomas will skillfully weave in each aspect of the Sherlockian canon, and devour the pages to learn how the mystery unfolds.” – Anna Lee Huber, National Bestselling Author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

"Gender bending is just the first sign that unusual happenings are afoot in this origin story for a revamped Sherlock Holmes series by bestselling author Thomas...There is also a tantalizing, slow-burn love story between Holmes and a longtime friend befitting Thomas' skills as a romance novelist....The ground has been laid well for future incidents in the professional and intimate life of Charlotte Holmes." —Kirkus

"Author Sherry Thomas didn’t just insert Charlotte into Sherlock’s area of expertise, she made a character completely different from the well-known man. Cute and blonde, Charlotte doesn’t have Sherlock’s scorn for everyone. And because she is a lady in Victorian England, Charlotte has to be creative in her investigation in order to preserve the illusion of Sherlock Holmes to the man on the street and the police. The various characters introduced are quite interesting and the plotlines are great. This is the first in the new Lady Sherlock series, and if this is any clue, Charlotte and her continuing adventures will be thrilling to read."—Suspense Magazine

Sherry writes in her second language. She learned English by reading romance and science fiction—every word Isaac Asimov ever wrote, in fact. She is proud to say that her son is her biggest fanboy—for the YA fantasy, not the romances. At least, not yet…

Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the Anthony Award-winning mystery The Black Hour and the Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning mystery Little Pretty Things, both from Seventh Street Books. Her third novel, The Day I Died, will be published by Harper Collins William Morrow on April 11, 2017.

Her fiction has been previously published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, TimeOut Chicago, Crab Orchard Review, Freight Stories, and in the anthology Dia de los Muertos (Elektrik Milkbath Press), and others. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult chose her story as the grand prize winner of Good Housekeeping’s first fiction contest.

Originally from central Indiana, Lori grew up frequenting the local libraries, reading all the Judy Blume and Lois Duncan she could get her hands on. Then she discovered Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. She may have wandered off the mystery writer path a few times, but everyone knew she would get back there eventually.

Lori studied journalism at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, but eventually gave in to her dream and studied creative writing at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Now a resident of Chicago for fifteen years, she has a favorite deep dish pizza and is active in the area’s crime writing community.

Lori is the president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and a member of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland, and the International Thriller Writers. Chicago is a really great town in which to be a mystery writer.

Stacy Abrams
Editorial Director, Entangled TEEN, an imprint of Entangled Publishing

Stacy Cantor Abrams has been the editorial director of Entangled TEEN, an imprint of Entangled Publishing, since 2012, before which she was an editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books. She loves working on high-intensity contemporary romances, psychological thrillers, unique paranormal creatures, time travel, gritty across-the-tracks romances, or historicals if they are set in the twentieth century. Some of her favorite projects she’s edited recently have been the Lovely Vicious series by Sara Wolf, Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton, The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel, and The Body Institute by Carol Riggs. In the adult genre, Stacy loves light contemporary romances, ripped-from-the-headlines thrillers, friendship stories, and humor. She doesn’t tend to lean toward vampires, zombies, adult historicals, or high-heat levels—though if any one were done in just the right way, she wouldn’t say no! Stacy lives in Chicago with her husband, young son, and fluffy puppy. Find her on Twitter at @StacyAbramsEdit.

Acquiring: High-intensity contemporary romances, psychological thrillers, unique paranormal creatures, time travel, gritty across-the-tracks romances, or historicals if they are set in the twentieth century.

Elise Capron
Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Elise Capron is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, which was established over 35 years ago and represents a wide range of award-winning and best-selling fiction and non-fiction authors, including Amy Tan, Lisa See, Maxine Hong Kingston, Chitra Divakaruni, Diane Mott Davidson, and many more. On the fiction side, Elise focuses on serious adult literary fiction, including short story collections. She loves family sagas, coming-of-age, magical realism, and multicultural fiction, and looks for unique narrative voices and memorable characters. A few of her representative fiction titles include Tiphanie Yanique’s How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf) and The Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead), Courtney Brkic's The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown), Maureen McHugh's After the Apocalypse (Small Beer Press), which was picked as a "Top 10 Best of the Year" by Publishers Weekly, and Jonathon Keats's The Book of the Unknown (Random House). A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She has been with the Dijkstra Agency since 2003.

Acquiring: Literary Fiction, Family sagas, coming-of-age, magical realism, and multicultural fiction.

Sharon Bowers
Bowers Griffin Literary Management

Before becoming an agent, Sharon worked as an editor at HarperCollins. She represents a wide range of narrative nonfiction, including Irish National Book Award-nominated Hopscotch by playwright Hilary Fannin; practical and prescriptive nonfiction, including health, food and lifestyle, with clients such as Cal Peternell, executive chef of Chez Panisse; and James Beard-winners such as Deborah Madison and Amy Chaplin. Her fiction list is heavily populated with mysteries and thrillers, ranging from Alexander Campion’s Capucine Culinary Series to Unreliable by Lee Irby, as well as the Anthony Award-winning The Black Hour and the Mary Higgins Clark winner Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day. Sharon is Looking For: "I always want to read a distinctive, resonant voice and a strong point of view, no matter what the subject is. I never greatly enjoy reading about a lot of gore and violence, or small children in peril. What I do look for in standalone fiction—and who doesn’t, really?—is a commercial plot-driven story that nonetheless features literary writing with complex, multilayered characters. In series fiction, I don't mind if the protagonist is NOT fatally flawed, if he or she can grip the reader's attention from book to book."

Acquiring: Mysteries, thrillers; Non-fiction: practical and prescriptive nonfiction, including health, food and lifestyle.

Danielle Burby
Nelson Literary Agency

Based in New York City, Danielle became an agent at Nelson Literary Agency (NLA) in January 2017. She previously agented at an NYC firm and has interned at top literary agencies and publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, among others. She graduated from Hamilton College with a dual degree in creative writing and women's studies.

She represents YA and MG along with select mystery and women's fiction. She particularly enjoys complex female characters, quirky adventures, narratives that ask the reader to think deeply, girls with swords, and seaside novels. Danielle also looks for a strong narrative voice and characters she wants to spend time with. For more information about her wishlist, check out NLA's Submission Guidelines page. You can find details about her recent sales on Publishers Marketplace.

Acquiring: MG & YA (all genres), select adult mysteries, thrillers, and women’s fiction.

Eric Campbell
Founder & Publisher
Down & Out Books

Eric Campbell is the founder and publisher of Down & Out Books. After spending twenty-five years in healthcare, Eric started Down & Out Books as an avenue to help develop and build “lost” authors. The company specializes in the crime, thriller and suspense genres.

Acquiring: Crime, thriller and suspense genres.

Terri Bischoff
Acquiring Editor
Midnight Ink

Terri Bischoff joined Midnight Ink as Acquiring Editor in October 2009. She leads all editorial directions and creates the seasonal lists. She has dramatically increased the number of titles per season, publishing between 36 to 40 titles per year, as well as expanded the type of crime fiction MI has published. Terri has a wealth of experience and knowledge in both mysteries and in bookselling, particularly as book buyer and reviewer. She has worked at Kramer Books in Washington, DC, and more recently, Terri owned and operated Booked for Murder Mystery Bookstore in Madison, WI.

Acquiring: Crime fiction, Mystery

Alicia Clancy
Assistant Editor
St. Martin’s Press

Alicia Clancy is an Assistant Editor at St. Martin’s Press, where she works on a range of projects from young adult fiction to women’s fiction to photobooks about raccoons! She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in English Literature, and moved immediately to NYC to pursue a career in publishing. After interning at FinePrint Literary Management, she joined Palgrave Macmillan in Sales before finally finding her home in Editorial at St. Martin’s Press. Alicia is looking for young adult fiction across all genres (excluding paranormal), as well as upmarket and commercial women’s fiction, literary fiction with a commercial hook, speculative fiction, mystery/thrillers/suspense, high fantasy/dystopian sci-fi, and select pop-culture/humor/lifestyle nonfiction projects.

The most important elements of any novel to her, regardless of genre, are a strong voice and beautiful writing. She has a soft spot for books featuring diversity of all varieties, and an even softer spot for books set in the South. She lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and her cattle dog puppy, Whiskey. She is also the author of an illustrated gift book titled, BE MY GALENTINE: Celebrating Badass Female Friendship.

Acquiring: Young adult fiction across all genres (excluding paranormal), upmarket and commercial women’s fiction, literary fiction with a commercial hook, speculative fiction, mystery/thrillers/suspense, high fantasy/dystopian sci-fi, and select pop-culture/humor/lifestyle nonfiction projects.

Lori Graham
Senior Editor
The Wild Rose Press

Lori Graham has worked with The Wild Rose Press since their first year of business, and this year, they will be celebrating eleven years in publishing. Their passion is working with an author to develop their voice and technique, and Lori has truly enjoyed helping authors “bloom.” Along with this, she also enjoys working with the other genres within Wild Rose as they often have submission calls that cross all genres.

She serves as the Senior Editor acquiring manuscripts for the romantic suspense, cozy mystery, and thriller lines. While she personally enjoys reading many different genres, the mysterious tendencies in a manuscript are what intrigue her. The exciting part of editing comes from helping a new author achieve a life-long dream to become a writer or an already published writer to expand their imagination and set higher goals. Lori is looking for strong characters who balance each other within the storyline, and yet, show some vulnerability.
When not working, Lori enjoys participating in various vocal groups, reading, cooking, and spending time with her adult children.

Acquiring: Romantic suspense, cozy mystery, and thriller lines.

Carrie Howland
Empire Literary

Carrie Howland joined Empire Literary after eleven years as an agent at Donadio & Olson, Inc. She represents adult literary and upmarket fiction, narrative non-fiction, young adult, and middle grade authors. Carrie’s background is in poetry, so beautiful language is one of the first things she looks for in any project. Also important are a strong voice and great story, which she’s looking for across genres. Currently, she’s actively seeking music-related books for her non-fiction list. Her remarkably talented clients include Kaitlyn Greenidge (We Love You, Charlie Freeman), Carmiel Banasky (The Suicide of Claire Bishop), and Melissa Gorzelanczyk (Arrows).

Carrie is a member of the AAR as well as SCBWI. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Albion College. In her spare time, Carrie volunteers as a foster for a local dog rescue and with deployed military men and women through an organization called Soldiers’ Angels. She is an active volunteer and member of the New York Junior League, through which she teaches a third grade art class once a week, as well as a member of the executive board of the New York City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Gamma.

Acquiring: adult literary upmarket, narrative NF, YA, MG, Music-related NF

Website - Twitter

Shana Kelly
Literary Agent
Einstein Literary Management

Shana Kelly started her publishing career in the Literary Department of the William Morris Agency, where she worked for 10 years.  She began in foreign rights in the New York office, and later worked out of the London office for two years.  Shana was the signing agent for many successful authors, including New York Times bestseller Curtis Sittenfeld, author of PREP and ELIGIBLE. For the past nine years, Shana has worked as a freelance editor and publishing consultant.

Shana joined Einstein Literary Management as a literary agent in 2016. She is looking for adult novels with great writing and surprising plots—her favorite books fall between commercial and literary. She has a soft spot for well-written thrillers and psychological suspense. Shana has a Bachelor of Philosophy from Miami University, and attended the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute. She currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and daughter.

Acquiring: adult commercial, adult literary, thrillers, psychological suspense

Becky LeJeune
Associate Agent
Bond Literary Agency

Becky LeJeune is an associate agent at Bond Literary Agency, a Denver-based agency run by Sandra Bond. Before working with Sandra, Becky was a commissioning editor for The History Press and a freelance cookbook editor. She is a Denver Publishing Institute alumni with a bookseller background.

Becky is interested in the adult and teen titles in the following genres: horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy, and general fiction.

Acquiring: Adult and Teen: Horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy, and general fiction.

Kristin Nelson
President and Founding Literary Agent
Nelson Literary Agency, LLC

Kristin established Nelson Literary Agency, LLC, in 2002 and over the last decade+ of her career has represented over thirty-five New York Times bestselling titles and many USA Today bestsellers. Clients include Jamie Ford, Hugh Howey, Gail Carriger, Josh Malerman, J.D. Barker, Marie Lu, Ally Carter, Stacey Lee, Simone Elkeles, Jasinda Wilder, Jana DeLeon, Courtney Milan, and RITA-award winners Kristen Callihan, Sherry Thomas, and Linnea Sinclair.

She is currently looking for literary commercial novels, big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre, upmarket women's fiction, lead title or hardcover science fiction and fantasy, single-title romance (with a special passion for historicals), and young adult and upper-level middle grade novels in all genres. When she is not busy selling books, Kristin attempts to play golf & tennis. She also enjoys playing Bridge (where she is the youngest person in her club), and can be found hiking in the mountains with her husband and their dog Chutney. Member: AAR, RWA, SFWA, SCBWI.

Acquiring: Literary commercial novels, big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre, upmarket women's fiction, lead title or hardcover science fiction and fantasy, single-title romance (with a special passion for historicals), and young adult and upper-level middle grade novels in all genres.

Website - Blog - Twitter - Facebook

Saffel Steve
Senior Acquisitions Editor
Titan Books

Steve Saffel is a Senior Acquisitions Editor at Titan Books, the world’s premiere popular culture publisher, acquiring original science fiction, fantasy (epic, heroic, and dark), horror, crime fiction, art books, and media tie-ins such as Alien, Planet of the Apes (new and classic), The Flash, Mass Effect, and more. Some of his recent and upcoming projects include the military science fiction series Virtues of War by Bennett Coles, the epic fantasy The Dragon's Legacy by Dehorah Wolf, the dark urban fantasies Relics by Tim Lebbon and Conspiracy of Angels by Michelle Belanger, the heroic fantasy Robin Hood: Mark of the Black Arrow by Debbie Vigue and James Tuck, a Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu trilogy by Lois Gresh, the space opera anthology Infinite Stars edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, the mystery novels starring Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse, and The Art of Robert E. McGinnis by Robert E. McGinnis and Art Scott.

Acquiring: Original science fiction, fantasy (epic, heroic, and dark), horror, crime fiction, art books, and media tie-ins

Mentors & Special Guests


Conference Fees & Refund Policy

The base cost of registration for the 2017 Colorado Gold Conference:

  • Early Bird (May 1st through May 31st) Members $319, Non-Members $374
  • Regular (June 1st through June 30th) Members $344, Non-Members $399
  • Summer (July 1st through July 31st) Members $369, Non-Members $424
  • Late (August 1st through August 31st) Members $394, Non-Members $449
  • Last Minute (September 1st through September 3rd) Members $419, Non-Members $474
  • At the Door (September 11th only) Members $444, Non-Members $499

Refund Policy: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers will gladly refund your conference registration fees, less a $50.00 processing fee. You must notify the conference chair to cancel your conference registration on or before AUG 7, 2017 (31 or more days before the conference date). Please contact conference@rmfw.org, to cancel. RMFW is unable to refund any conference registration fees 30 days or fewer before the conference date.

Registration fee includes:

  • A free pitch appointment with one of your top-choice agents, editors or publishers.
  • A free author reading of your work in progress to an audience of supportive peers. Space is limited.
  • A free 30-minute “Hook Your Book” appointment to work on your cover copy or query letter with two partners. Space is limited.
  • Entry to the Friday-night book sale and author-signing extravaganza
  • Access to all open programming
  • Access to hotel amenities, including business center, wireless Internet in hotel lobby and bar, restaurant, lounge, coffee shop, and gift shop (WiFi is not available in the classrooms)
  • Tote bag containing conference literature and small gifts
  • Friday night kickoff banquet
  • Saturday continental breakfast
  • Saturday afternoon luncheon (new!)
  • Saturday night awards and recognition banquet
  • Saturday continental breakfast
  • Sunday afternoon luncheon

Optional special sessions and add-ons include:

  • $60 for a 4-hour Master Class. Space is limited.
  • $40 for a 15-minute one-on-one pitch coaching session with Susan Spann, Heather Webb or Angie Hodapp. Space is limited.
  • $40 Blue-Pencil Critique/Mentor session with guest author, Diana Gabaldon. Bring up to 4 pages or bring questions. Space is limited.
  • $40 for a 15-minute one-on-one critique of 10 pages with a guest author. Authors TBA. Register and submit pages by July 1. Space is limited.
  • $40 to participate in a 4-hour Friday-morning or Friday-afternoon critique round table with a small group moderated by an attending agent or editor. Register by July 15. Pages due mid-August. Space is limited.
  • $15 to audit a 4-hour Friday-morning or Friday-afternoon critique workshop with a small group moderated by an attending agent or editor. Auditors attend but do not submit pages or participate in the critiques. Space is limited.
  • $40 for a 30-minute appointment in our “Mentor Room”. Work one-on-one with experts on whatever you choose. Space is limited.
  • $40 Professional Head shot photography appointment. Space is limited.
  • $70 to add a guest to the Friday-night dinner. (Limit: 3 guests) Space is limited.
  • $50 to add a guest to the Saturday luncheon. (Limit: 3 guests) Space is limited.
  • $70 to add a guest to the Saturday-night banquet. (Limit: 3 guests) Space is limited.
  • $50 to add a guest to the Sunday luncheon. (Limit: 3 guests) Space is limited.

Notice of photography, audio and video recording: 

When you attend the Colorado Gold Conference, you enter an area where photography, audio and video recording may and will occur. By entering the Conference premises, you consent to such photography and recording and to its release, publication, exhibition, reproduction, distribution, and use for news, sale, educational, promotional, advertising, and sale purposes and to its inclusion on and distribution through websites and in hard copy formats (collectively, “Uses”). By entering the Colorado Gold Conference, you also consent to use of your image and voice, to the extent they appear in audio and/or video recordings and photographs. You waive all rights you may have to any claims in connection with All Uses of recordings and photographs, regardless of the purpose or sponsoring of such uses. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak with the conference organizers.

Thank You to Our Scholarship Donors