Another Successful Year at Colorado Gold

What a wonderful weekend we had at the 33rd Annual Colorado Gold Conference! On behalf of our board and volunteers, we hope you learned new things to apply to your writing, found yourself encouraged and inspired to keep developing your ideas, and felt supported and connected after three days of classes, panels, critiques, workshops, speeches, and one-on-one coaching with your tribe.

Cheers to each of our presenters and panelists. The conference doesn't happen without you. Content of the workshops was great. We all learned a tremendous amount with the variety of topics and expertise of the presenters. Even Jeffery Deaver and Desiree Holt were found taking notes. Thank you for making the 2015 Colorado Gold Conference the best one yet.

A very special thanks to each of our first-time attendees. There were 123 of you, and it was fun spotting your green ribbons and seeing you with new friends, sharing stories, and becoming a part of our wonderful tribe.

Many of us appreciated the return of the hospitality suite, but don't worry, no photos. What happens in the hospitality suite, stays in the hospitality suite.

If you missed the conference or didn't want it to end, read on for a recap of all the amazing presentations, contest results and honored attendees.

Writer of the Year

On Friday night, 2015 Writer of the Year Susan Spann moved the room with an emotional and inspirational keynote address about the power of a name. Using the story of Weeble, her seahorse who defied the odds despite serious setbacks, she challenged us all. She gave us all a name: Writer. In addition, she gave us the mandate to follow our dreams.

Keynote Speakers

Saturday night, Keynote Speaker and acclaimed author Jeffery Deaver brought us back in time to meet his younger nerd self (before being a nerd was cool), striving to find his way as a professional author. Through his own experiences he shared how subjective this business is, and how important it is to never give up.

On Sunday afternoon, Desiree Holt, The Queen of Erotic Romance, closed the conference with her Keynote address where she shared through her own experience that it is truly never too late to get started or to make it in this business.

The thread that carried through each of these keynote speeches was clear: Never give up. Don't stop writing.

Honored Members

There were so many wonderful notes of love and thanks that our attendees left for our honored guiding members Carol Caverly, Kay Bergstrom and Christine Goff.

Pen Awards

Congratulations to the Pen Award recipients! The Pen Award is given to authors who have published their debut novel.

Maura Weiler • Margaret Mizushima • Rae James • Catherine Dilts
Stephen Benjamin • Emily France • Thom Nicholson
Katherine Lampe • Corinne O'Flynn • Shawn McGuire
Yvonne Montgomery • Muffie Humphry • Laura V. Keegan
P.J. Hermanson • Kendrick E. Knight • Stephen C. Merlino
D.L. Orton • Liz Roadifer • Benadette Marie • Catherine Winters
Monica Poole • LM Manifold • C.R. Lemons • Cheryl Carpinello
John Turley • Laura Reeves • Lisa Stormes Hawker • Sue Duff

2015 Colorado Gold Contest Results - CONGRATS to This Year's WINNERS!

The Colorado Gold contest has given aspiring novelists the chance to get their work in front of an acquiring agent or editor while also providing feedback and encouragement for the craft of writing. The quality of this year's finalists was so high that our judges had an extra hard time deciding on the following winners:

First Place: Michael Hope Searing Flames (Littleton, CO)
Second Place: Douglas Adcock Massacre (Breckenridge, CO)
Third Place: Bruce Leaf Fire Step (Boulder, CO)

First Place: Trish Hermanson Mrs. Robinson's Reunion (Lakewood, CO)
Second Place: Michelle Boelter After the End (Delta, CO)
Third Place: Rebecca Hopkins The Orchid Girl's Chase (Tarakan, Indonesia)

First Place: Alan Larson Hard Red Winter (Scottsdale, AZ)
Second Place: Sherry Nelson Turning Stones (Cheyenne Wells, CO)
Third Place: Michael Hope Hallelujah is Dying (Littleton, CO)

First Place: Elisabeth Burns Rinse and Repeat (Mount Olive, IL)
Second Place: Michelle Boelter Nena (Delta, CO)
Third Place: Louise Jones Memory Lane (Arvada, CO)

Speculative Fiction
First Place: Shantal LaViolette The Iron Duke: Voices at the Door (El Prado, NM)
Second Place: D.L. Orton Crossing in Time (Colorado Springs, CO)
Third Place: CJ Collins In the Ghost Prints of Dragons (Clovis, CA)

First Place: John Christenson Starball (Boulder, CO)
Second Place: Corinne O'Flynn The Ghosts of Witches Past (Parker, CO)
Third Place: Mary Johnson Awoken (Englewood, CO)

Special Thanks to Ron and Nina Else!

As always, the bookstore and signing were fabulous thanks to Bonnie Biafore and Who Else Books.

"The bookstore with Ron and Nina Else was well stocked, and I brought home an armful of new treasures at great prices."

Liesa Malik, PAL Liaison

Thank You to Our Volunteers

Jasmine Award

Wendy Howard is this year's Jasmine Award winner. She reminds everyone that volunteering with fellow writers is an important part of personal and career growth. During those times she is down and ready to quit, the rewards of volunteering with RMFW keep her focused on achieving the ultimate goal of publication. In addition, she adds that never has she volunteered with a more amazing group of people. She encourages everyone to email and get involved.

Nugget Awards

Thank you to those volunteers who won Nugget Awards this year.

Mark Stevens • Vicki Rubin • Wendy Howard • Charles Senseman • Susan Smith
Angie Hodapp • Wendy Terrien • Vicki Law • Terri Benson • Linda Joffe Hull
Corinne O'Flynn • Susan Brooks • Susan Spann • Not pictured: Maura Weiler
Margaret Mizushima • Rae James • Catherine Dilts • Michael Ruchhoeft

Special Thanks to Mark Stevens! THANK YOU Mark (top left) for all your hard work capturing the heart of the conference in all the amazing photos you have taken and shared.

Simile Contest

As usual, the Simile Contest was a fun time for all and had us rolling on the floor laughing. Thanks to Peggy Waidde and Alice Kober for picking some real winners! Congrats to Chad Mathine, Matthew Porter, and Michele Winkler for making us laugh.

Take Aways from #RMFW2015 by Martha Husain: Winner of the Treasure Hunt

Martha Husain won the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize in the treasure hunt contest. Well, she was the only entry but did get ALL the answers correct. Below are the lessons Martha took away from this year's conference:

  1. Reconsider having first drafts critiqued before the whole story is completed. Reworking the same passage may be futile because you may have to ditch it when you put it all together.
  2. Meet, make friends, and keep up with your fellow authors in your genre. They are your future blurb writers when you all become published and famous.
  3. Having multiple WIP at once is a good way to deal with "getting stuck."
  4. Avoid spending a lot of time on research before editing for story. The need to research may get cut.
  5. World building should include macro, micro, backstory, and (what was the fourth thing? Something like context?)
  6. Take pictures of people you meet and post them on social media. The memories survive better with a visual record.
  7. The Corinne O'Flynn method of avoiding the awkward memory lapse on names: "Hi, I know we've been introduced about four times now, but remind me what your name is?"
  8. The "herd" is there to support you and they're rooting for you to succeed. Show them you can do it.

The Biggest Thanks to Susan Brooks, Conference Chair

Susan Brooks took on the role of conference chair four years ago and gave herself the mandate to make each year's conference better than the one before. Well, this year she's done it again. This is no small feat, as RMFW has a reputation for bringing a stellar event to the Denver area for over 30 years! In fact, she was presented with the Jasmine Award in 2014 for the level of excellence she has brought to Colorado Gold. While Susan has stepped down as conference chair, we are fortunate to have her take on the role of retreat chair. Thank you Susan for all you've done to make this year's conference the best one yet and all you will do for RMFW in the future.

Life is Fun with Carol Caverly

Author Carol Caverly
Carol Caverly, still writing and enjoying life today.

Carol Caverly said recently that she’s the kind of person who goes from being interested in something to becoming almost obsessed once she’s had a chance to see what’s going on. It’s no wonder then, that when she borrowed her first Writer’s Digest magazine as a young Wyoming mother in the 1980’s, both the magazine and creative writing in general sucked her in. Soon she was writing more and more, and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers benefited as a result.

“It was all so much fun!” said Carol. Over the years she’s written three books and several short stories, was a founding member of Wyoming Writers and then Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She participated in Mystery Writers of America as a chapter president and is a long-standing member of Sisters in Crime.

The death of her first husband resulted in Carol moving from Wyoming to Colorado, where she met among others, Kay Bergstrom, Pat Dalton, and Jasmine Cresswell, and helped to set-up RMFW.

“I found the three or four gals, and we started getting together to discuss writing. The group kept getting bigger and bigger and we added critiques as well as meetings,” said Carol. “Our first RMFW Colorado Gold conference was held at the Aurora Public Library where I worked. I remember we had sack lunches and donuts for food, and Rex Burns was our keynote speaker.” The meeting was quite a bit different from the 400 member strong Colorado Gold conference held these days.

Carol seems to have fun wherever she’s involved, and writing has been a big part of it all. She’s been an avid reader since her childhood just outside of Chicago, Illinois. There, she enjoyed Nancy Drew books from the library, and shared that interest in mysteries with her mom. Years later, when her books won recognition as Detective Book Club selections and local best sellers, she was filled with nostalgia for those times spent reading with her mother.

While in Wyoming, Carol subscribed to Writer’s Digest and read every issue for 20 years. She also read every book she could get her hands on with regard to writing and still has a copy of Dean Koontz’s How To Write Best Selling Fiction which she pointed out currently sells for over $50 on (a check in August revealed the book is now worth $72).

“His books are excellent,” said Carol. “Of course, I love his writing.” She said that Donald Maass is also her guru, and she keeps a copy of his book handy too.

One of the best things about talking to Carol is the story of all the people she’s met and shared writing memories with.

“At one of the first conferences we held in Colorado Springs, Clive Cussler was a speaker,” said Carol. “He was a nut when we were signing books together. I remember he signed a book for a woman who didn’t know him at all. He wrote, ‘I’ll never forget that wonderful evening we had here.’ That woman about died! What would her husband say?”

“But when my first novel came out and I was at a signing in Cherry Creek, Clive came in with his wife and bought one of my books because I was a new author.”

Carol also is good friends with Deni Dietz, one of the visiting editors to Colorado Gold this year.

“We used to carpool to critique in Colorado Springs together,” said Carol. “She’d tell me her plots as we went. I’ve been so proud of what Deni’s done. She works hard to this day, and is very diligent. I’m really happy for her.

“The first time Deni came to conference to hear pitches, I signed up for a session with her, even though I had nothing to sell. I sat down and said, ‘So you’re an agent now. Good for you!”

Carol said that she has had fun watching everyone’s careers take off, that she soaked it all up, and has enjoyed the entire writing community, from dear friends like Christine Jorgenson to Sharon Mignerly to Kay Bergstrom.

“Kay is an inspiration,” said Carol. “She’s one of the few who earns a living with their writing. She’s so knowledgeable, and she’s funny—just delightful.”

Carol will be one of the celebrated Guiding Members at Colorado Gold in September and left with this last piece of wisdom:

“I suppose it’s most important when you want to write, is to write right now. So many say they’re working on a novel or a thriller, and will probably write them when they retire. I say, do it now.”

And one more thing. If you’re Carol Caverly, be sure you’re having fun.

Trying to Retire

By Carol Caverly

Carol CaverlyI've been in the writing business for a long time, since the late fifties, I think. It's been a long wondrous, fascinating journey. But as the years have passed, and the business changing completely (some for the better, some for the worse) the fire in the belly has disappeared, or perhaps worn thin like a creaky joint. The book in progress has been in progress too long. The idea is still intriguing but the long days of hard work needed to complete it are not appealing. I decided the time had come to throw down the pen/pencil/keyboard and do all those other things I've always wanted to try.

It wasn't easy. I mean, I couldn't do it right now. I still had to get the third book in my mystery series onto Kindle and finish up with a big well-planned promotion before sending the aging darlings off into the ether to live or die among all the millions of other books out there. So, okay, that would be my final project.

Happy to not be sitting at my computer, I wandered into Barnes and Noble looking for one of those learn-French-the-easy-way books (one of the other things I want to do,) gathered a couple of possibles and looked for a place to sit down. As you probably know, B&N no longer has comfy chairs scattered all over the place, just a couple of wooden benches and hard chairs opposite the magazine racks. I sat in a well-worn arm chair and glanced at the racks. Directly in front of me were copies of The Writer, Writers Digest, and a Writer' Digest Yearbook edition boldly titled Novel Writing. With a rush of nostalgia I put the French books aside and grabbed the magazines. Way back when I was a young bride on a ranch in Wyoming, a chance encounter with The Writer, which I borrowed from a friend and quickly devoured, was the beginning of my writing adventure. A life long reader, it never occurred to me that just anybody could be a writer. I thought they were a special breed. How enticing the articles were. I was snagged.

For twenty years I read every issue of The Writer and Writer's Digest from cover to cover. The Writer was smaller then, printed on pulp paper, but very dignified. It stuck quite closely to "good" writing. Writer's Digest was much noisier. It covered everything--fiction, poetry, articles, true confessions, westerns, greeting cards, me and Joe stories for outdoor magazines, picture books for children. I loved it all! I added books to the mixture and eventually found, built and joined the writing community that has been an important part of my life ever since.

But that was a long time ago. The discipline is gone. I don't want to spend all that time alone staring at a computer screen. Priorities change. Now is the time for families and travel.

I selected French in 10 Minutes a Day from my pile, gasped at the price of the magazines but decided to buy them, too. For old times sake. I'm sure you know where this is going. Of course I read the magazines. Of course I found a market that sounds like a good shot for a short story in my files. Of course I found an article in the newsletter that encouraged me to respond to the call for bloggers for the RMFW blog. I've never written a blog post before.

So I've been hedging my bets a bit. Here are my new rules for retirement: I don't have to write, but if I feel compelled...yes. No more novels (unless compelled.) Stick to shorter projects and maybe a blog here and there. And no matter what happens, I'll never give up my writing friends.

I'm on page two of the French book.


Carol Cavalry is the author of the Thea Barlow Wyoming mystery series, All the Old Lions, Frogskin and Muttonfat, and Dead In Hog Heaven. Though now living in Colorado Springs, Carol used her extensive background of Wyoming ranch living for the settings of her mysteries. Her books also appeared as selections of the Detective Book Club. Her latest short story was included in the anthology, Homicide Host Presents. Her books are available on Amazon with the first two also available as Kindle editions. A Kindle edition of the third will be available in November. You can learn more about Carol and her books at her website.