2016 Writer of the Year & Independent Writer of the Year

Past Writers of the Year

Each year, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers honors one of its published members as its Writer of the Year. The winner of the award is a member in good standing selected by RMFW's membership from candidates who have been published during the previous calendar year.

CLICK HERE to nominate an author for WOTY & I-WOTY
Opens January 22nd & Closes February 24th

If you or someone you know is eligible to enter their credentials for consideration by RMFW’s two selection committees into the recognition process for either Writer of the Year or Independent Writer of the Year, return here on January 22nd for a link to the form to nominate authors.

The WOTY is recognition for those authors with books traditionally published January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. The I-WOTY is for those authors with books independently published January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015. These authors will also meet the following criteria for recognition:

  • Applicants or Nominees (Applicants) must be members in good standing with RMFW
  • Applicants must have been members in good standing with RMFW for the entire year during which their work came out
  • The application will be judged on the following skills:
  • Quality of writing overall
  • Significant personal achievements
  • Participation in RMFW (though, please remember, this is NOT a volunteer award)

The WOTY and I-WOTY selection committees will narrow down our list of talented authors to three finalists, who will be announced at the end of March. From there, RMFW’s community at large will be invited to vote for the author whose writing and achievements appeal to them the most. In June the voting will close, and at the summer gathering in July the WOTY will be announced.

The 2015 Writer of the Year
Susan Spann

2015WOTY Susan SpannSusan Spann's mysteries have made a splash, published in hard cover to unfailingly good reviews. Her third Shinobi mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master, was published earlier this month and now Susan has been named 2015 Writer of the Year. Her mysteries are set in sixteenth-century Japan and feature ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Jesuit Sidekick, Father Mateo. The first book was Claws of the Catand the second was titled Blade of the Sumarai. Claws of the Cat was named a Library Journal mystery debut of the month and was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. As a result, Susan was interviewed for an article in Writers Digest by Chuck Sambuchino. Please visit Susan’s website to find out more.

If you have any questions, contact Christine Jorgensen at woty@rmfw.org if you are a PAL member and have WOTY questions or Monica Poole at iwoty@rmfw.org if you are an IPAL member and have an I-WOTY question.

Writer of the Year
Eligibility Assessment/Nomination Form

I. Eligibility
a. Name of work(s) published in the past calendar year.
b. Name of the book you’d like considered for the eligibility assessment (one book only representing your best work for 2015).
c. Publication Date for representative work (first publication only, reprints are not eligible for consideration.).
d. Publisher name and full address for representative work (independently published works are not eligible).
e. Are you [the potential nominee] or any family member the owner, co-owner, or an employee of this publishing company?
f. Format(s) of each work (hardcover, trade paper, mass market paper, ebook, audio).
g. Approximate word counts of each work.

II. RMFW Participation
a. Are you [the potential nominee] a member of RMFW in good standing?
b. Were you [the potential nominee] a member of RMFW for the entire calendar year this work was published?
c. Briefly let us know the ways you [the potential nominee] participate in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (ie. attendee, officeholder, teacher, volunteer, contest judge etc.).

III. Quality of Writing
a. Where can these work(s) be found (bookstores, online sites)?
b. Tell us briefly about any significant awards you [the potential nominee] have received in the past year for literary merit, award shortlists, notable reviews such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, RT Book Reviews, NY Times, et al, professional author commentary, or professional blogger or podcast commentary on your work. These may pertain to the eligible work or a previous work.

IV. Significant Professional Achievement – both aspects are important!
a. Tell us briefly about your [the potential nominee’s] most significant professional writing achievements in the past calendar year. This can be bestseller lists or “notable book” lists, literary awards, featured or guest of honor speaking engagements, new book contracts, foreign/audio/movie rights sales, career reinvention, anthology invitations/appearances, offices in other literary organizations, or other milestones of significance. Don’t be shy!
b. Tell us briefly about your [the potential nominee’s] body of work and significant professional writing achievements prior to the previous calendar year or since.

Independent Writer of the Year
Eligibility Assessment/Nomination Form

I. Eligibility—Published in 2014/2015
a. Name of work(s) published in the past calendar year (please let us know which work you’d like the committee to look at although we’d like to see a listing of all your work for the eligibility period).
b. Publication Date for each work (first publication only, reprints are not eligible for consideration.).
c. Format(s) of each work (hardcover, trade paper, mass market paper, ebook, audio).
d. Approximate word counts of each work.

II. RMFW Participation
a. Are you [the potential nominee] a member of RMFW in good standing?
b. Were you [the potential nominee] a member of RMFW for the entire calendar year this work was published?
c. Briefly let us know the ways you [the potential nominee] participate in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (ie. attendee, officeholder, teacher, volunteer, contest judge etc.)

III. Quality of Writing
a. Where can these work(s) be found (online retailers, local/regional/national bookstores, and your own website)?
b. Tell us briefly about any significant awards you [the potential nominee] have received in the past year for literary merit, award shortlists, notable reviews, professional author commentary, or professional blogger or podcast commentary on your work. These may pertain to the eligible work or a previous work.

IV. Significant Professional Achievement – both aspects are important!
a. Tell us briefly about your [the potential nominee’s] most significant professional writing achievements in the past calendar year. This can be bestseller lists or “notable book” lists, literary awards, featured or guest of honor speaking engagements, new book contracts, foreign/audio/movie rights sales, career reinvention, anthology invitations/appearances, offices in other literary organizations, or other milestones of significance. Don’t be shy!
b. Tell us briefly about your [the potential nominee’s] body of work and significant professional writing achievements prior to the previous calendar year or since.

Established, recognized literary awards in independent publishing include, but are not limited to, the Ben Franklin Book Awards (Independent Publishing Association); the Colorado Book Awards (Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book); the EVVY Award (Colorado Independent Publishers Association/CIPA); Foreward Magazine’s Book of the Year/Indie Fab Awards; Global Ebooks Award; Historical Novels Society Awards; International Book Awards (USA Book News); IPPY Awards (Independent Publisher Book Awards); Midwest Book Awards (MIPA): National Book Awards; Next Generation “Indie” Book Awards; Indie Excellence Award (National); Pen Center USA Literary Awards; WILLA Literary Awards; Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards; USA Book Awards/Book News Awards; and genre specific awards such as the RITA (Romance Writers of America and the HUGO (World Science Fiction Society/Worldcon).

Writer of the Year

Carol Berg

Carol Berg’s roots are in Texas in a family of teachers, musicians, and railroad men. She loved school, but even more she loved reading. Hot Texas summers were perfect for reading science fiction, classics, mysteries, spy thrillers, and historicals, but she always had a soft spot for mythology and "otherworld" stories like Alice in Wonderland and King Arthur. She charged off to Rice University, determined to have a career in science and engineering. But she also chose to take every English course offered that listed novels on the syllabus - just so she would have time to keep reading.

A degree in mathematics fueled a short teaching career, but it was her college roommate’s dog-eared copy of Tolkien that changed Carol's life. Eventually. Somewhere in the midst of raising three sons, earning another degree - this time in computer science - and a seventeen year software engineering career, another friend teased her into exchanging letters written "in character." The game turned into a passion for writing that exploded into a yet another career.

Since her first novel was published in 2000, Carol's fifteen epic fantasy novels have earned national and international acclaim, including the Geffen Award, the Prism Award, multiple Colorado Book Awards, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. She regularly earns starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and RT Book Reviews. Besides the writing itself, she loves meeting readers and fellow writers at conventions and conferences and drawing on the family teaching tradition to share the craft of writing with aspiring writers.

Carol's Website

Chris Goff

Chris Goff is an award-winning author of six novels based on environmental themes and a new international thriller series.

Chris began her career writing non-fiction, penning columns for several local newspapers in Summit County, Colorado, as well as articles for regional and national publication. Later she edited rock and iceclimbing guides for Chockstone Press, and worked in graphic production for “Living the Good News,” a division of The Morehouse Publishing Group. She has taught writing workshops at the Colorado Free University, the University of Colorado. A long-standing member of multiple writing organizations, she has served on several local, regional and national boards, including Mystery Writers of America.

The bestselling Birdwatcher's Mystery series was nominated for two WILLA Literary Awards, a Colorado Author's League Award, and published Japan. Astor + Blue Editions reissued her complete backlist in print and E-book on February 2, 2016 and the sixth book in the series, A Parliament of Owls, is scheduled for release on May 10, 2016. Dark Waters, the first title in her international thriller series, was published September 15, 2015. Set amid the Israel-Palestine conflict this book promises to keep the reader frantically turning pages. The Manhattan Book Review deemed it "Absolutely masterful..." Dark Waters is a Finalist for a Colorado Book Award, Thriller, to be awarded in May 2016. Goff is currently working on the next in the series, Red Sky, scheduled for release in early-2017.

Chris joined RMFW in 1988, and has played several key roles our group. She is the 2002 RMFW Writer of the Year, and has a number of other successes in the Rocky Mountain writing communities. “I’ve often judged 30 or more entries a year in the Colorado Gold contest,” said Chris. “We all have a responsibility to give back. I got a tremendous amount out of RMFW in my formative years, and enjoy celebrating the new success stories.” Chris’s multiple roles in RMFW have been a tremendous boost to our community, but the three she enjoyed most are Newsletter Chair, PAL Chair, and President.

Chris's Website

Mark Stevens

The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He graduated from LincolnSudbury Regional High School in the suburbs of Boston and from Principia College in Illinois. He worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver; as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post. After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business. He lives in Denver with his wife and has two grown daughters.

Mark is the author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series— Antler Dust (2007), Buried by the Roan (2011), Trapline (2014) and Lake of Fire (Sept., 2015). Trapline won the 2015 Colorado Book Award for best mystery and the 2015 Colorado Authors League award for best genre fiction. Lake of Fire is a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award in the mystery category.

Mark is a past president and past monthly workshop coordinator for RMFW. He currently hosts the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. Lake of Fire was inspired by real-life events from a tragic police shooting and subsequent manhunt in Cortez in the late 1990's and also the late Randy Udall's ideas about energy sustainability.

Mark's Website

Independent Writer of the Year

Sue Duff

Sue Duff dreamed of dragons and spaceships before she could read and she combines both fantasy and science fiction in her acclaimed series, The Weir Chronicles. Sue has been writing since high school but never became serious about it until a skiing accident laid her up for an entire summer and she turned on the word processor to combat the boredom. A couple years later, her first urban fantasy novel, Fade to Black, was a finalist in the RMFW Colorado Gold Writing Contest. She is also an author at Wicked Ink Books, a partnership of Colorado authors who publish anthologies. When not saving the world one page at a time, Sue works as a speech therapist in an inner city school district. Her life as a writer is her true passion and the creative outlet keeps her sane.

When not writing, she can be found walking her Great Dane, cooking up something delicious in her kitchen, or waging battle with struggling plants and unappreciated pests in her garden. Sue is a member of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The Pikes Peak Writers. Her creativity extends into her garden and the culinary arts. She is the second oldest of six girls with an avid reader mom and her dad, the family’s single drop of testosterone in a sea of estrogen.

Sue's Website

Nathan Lowell

Nathan has been a writer for more than forty years, and first entered the literary world by podcasting his novels. He has been practicing what he preaches in social media for a couple of decades. He began writing science fiction in 2007 as an experiment in fiction podcasting. Eleven novels, a handful of short stories, uncounted numbers of voice acting roles later, he's a full time author making his living by telling the truth through fiction.

His sci-fi series, The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper grew from his long time fascination with space opera and his own experiences shipboard in the United States Coast Guard. Unlike most works which focus on a larger-than-life hero (prophesized savior, charismatic captain, or exiled prince), Nathan centers on the people behind the scenes–ordinary men and women trying to make a living in the depths of space.

In his novels, there are no bug-eyed monsters, or galactic space battles, instead he paints a richly vivid and realistic world where the “hero” uses hard work and his own innate talents to improve his station and the lives of those of his community.

Dr. Nathan Lowell holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology with specializations in Distance Education and Instructional Design. He also holds an M.A. in Educational Technology and a BS in Business Administration. He grew up on the south coast of Maine and is strongly rooted in the maritime heritage of the sea-farer. He served in the USCG from 1970 to 1975, seeing duty aboard a cutter on hurricane patrol in the North Atlantic and at a communications station in Kodiak, Alaska. He currently lives in the plains east of the Rocky Mountains with his wife and two daughters.

Nathan's Website

Lisa Manifold

Lisa published four books in 2015: Thea’s Tale, her debut novel, and Casimir’s Journey in the Sisters Of The Curse series. One Night At The Ball is a novella in the same series. Three Wishes, originally published in The Fantastical Collection: Five Tales of Fantasy, is the first book of the Heart Of The Djinn trilogy. The final two books of the trilogy, as well as the fourth book in the Sisters Of The Curse series will be released in 2016. Her plans for 2016, in addition to finishing the two series, are to release noels in two new series, both paranormal romance.

Lisa has been a voracious reader since she first picked up a book, often running late for everything because she wanted to get through ‘just one more chapter!’ In high school, she wrote morbid poetry and continued that habit until college. Thankfully, her poetry gave way to fantasy and romance short stories. In 2006, she began work on her first novel-length work of fiction, and in 2013, managed to finish it. After shopping it around for nearly a year, she began work on Thea’s Tale, and that first novel now resides under the figurative bed, where it shall stay forevermore.

While in the midst of querying, Lisa discovered that mysterious animal in the publishing world called selfpublishing. To her great surprise, she found the idea very attractive. Once Thea’s Tale was finished and edited, she decided to self-publish rather than looking for representation. That was all it took.

Lisa joined RMFW in 2013, one week prior to the Gold Conference. In 2015, she joined the RMFW Board, first as the Hospitality Chair, and then as the Newsletter Editor. She also serves as the IPAL Liaison. Given her commitment to independent publishing, this is a perfect match.

Lisa's Website