The Gifts of Writing

Everything in the city was clammy, doorknobs and train handrails slick with other people’s sweat, the air heavy with the smell of yesterday’s lunch.

If that isn’t enough from page one of Sara Novic’s debut novel, Girl at War, perhaps sentences from page two will prick your writer self:

We took cold showers and walked around the flat in our underwear. Under the run of cool water, I imagined my skin sizzling, steam rising from it. At night we lay atop our sheets, awaiting fitful and fever dreams.

There are many wonderfully written books on the market today, including those from RMFW members, both PAL and IPAL. However, I chose Novic’s work to illustrate two important gifts writers need:

  1. Descriptions that arouse the senses.
  2. Not everyone will like, let alone enjoy, your work.

Following are excerpts from a review of Girl at War:

“Girl at War draws loosely and unconvincingly on the war in Croatia…”

“Dialogue is not a strong point.”

“Of course, the war is what gives the novel its relevance, yet many readers will be bewildered by the author’s apparent confusion of Croatia with Bosnia. The war-torn version of Zagreb that appears here never existed…”

Read the full review here.

Gifts writers give:

  1. Characters who converse naturally and with era-appropriate clarity.
  2. A story that starts strong, stays strong, and ends stronger. These books can’t be forgotten, nor can penetrating characters and stunning descriptions.
  3. Well-utilized research—especially for historical fiction.
  4. Willingness to help others.

This holiday season, give yourself and your readers your best. (I’ve sent a list to Santa which contains many works of RMFW members.)

A Year In The Life Of IPAL

In October, 2015, I attended my first IPAL meeting at the Gold Conference. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was delighted to find that there were a healthy number of my fellow writers, all of whom had amazing ideas on how to further IPthumbnail_gkbk2lisaeditAL to work for us both as a group within RMFW, and individually. I made some great friends that day.

What also happened was that Sean Curley, our first IPAL Chair, said that after starting up IPAL he thought it was time for someone new to take over. I immediately raised my hand. Sometimes, my immediate joiner response is not a good thing, but in this case, it was.

And like that, I was the IPAL Chair. Like anyone taking over a position within a group they love, I have my own thoughts on the vision for our group. But the most important idea of what I wanted for IPAL came from the 2015 Conference.

I was all excited to be a part of IPAL, and I was meeting people in person, and talking and sharing ideas with those I’d only met online before, and I happened to be chatting with another attendee. She was an indie author, and we were talking about RMFW and how it helped us. I asked her if she was in IPAL. (I’m also an enthusiastic member – if I join something, it’s like #forlife with me in regards to that organization.)

The other woman looked at me, and asked, “What could I ever get out of IPAL?”

As a new member, I didn’t know.


That question has stuck with me. Why would she want to join IPAL if she couldn’t see an iota of benefit from it? So with that attendee in mind, here is what IPAL has done over the past year.


  • Established a Facebook group that is an active place for discussion.
  • Held a winter signing event in December 2015 at Book Bar for 12 authors
  • Held quarterly Facebook Takeover events online to promote bringing together readers with IPAL authors – we’ve had 4 of them so far.
  • Scheduled two more Takeovers before the end of 2016.
  • Established a Facebook Takeover group to better facilitate the Takeover events
  • Held a meeting in May 2016 to discuss plans for the rest of the year.
  • Held the NovelRama writing event in July/August. 37 people participated. Even those who didn’t meet the 25k in 4 Days goal stated that it helped them to break personal barriers with writing and the response was favorable.
  • Held IWOTY nominations and nominated three amazing finalists for the first ever IWOTY Award.
  • Awarded our first IWOTY.
  • Held a Summer Signing in July at the Fiction Beer Company for 12 authors
  • Met in the Annual Meeting at Conference.
  • Made plans for marketing IPAL members for 2017
  • Committed to at least quarterly Takeover events online with one member dedicated to the management of the events.
  • Began planning for two NovelRama events for 2017 so that there is more time for advertising and spreading the word to members. This is based on the IPAL participation and enthusiasm for a weekend of writing.
  • Decided that we wanted to open to non-members for the NovelRama events – kind of like our Monthly Programs.
  • Are instituting some online classes via FB for the members of IPAL to answer marketing and craft questions.
  • Have begun building a How-To library of files in the Facebook group.
  • Have grown the membership from 48 in October 2015 to 72 in October 2016. (I have added more members since then, but this was based on a calendar year – from October 2015 to October 2016.
  • Worked with the PAL Chair to bring IPAL authors into the RMFW event for the Mountains and Plains booksellers’ event earlier this week.
  • Secured a table for RMFW IPAL for Denver Comic Con 2017


This is only a part of what the members of IPAL have been up to this year. If, like the woman I met last year, you’re wondering what it might do for you to be a member, get in touch with me. It’s a great group of people. Are we going to solve all your authoring woes?

  1. Let me say that again – NO.

But we will be a supportive group that you can turn to with questions, and we are always looking for ways to improve our craft, our marketing, and all the other things that go into being an author.

The greatest thing about the author community, in my opinion, is other authors. I love working with my fellow members of IPAL. I hope that this post gives you an idea of the sort of things we do, and where we’re headed.

Most of all, I hope it answers that question of “What could I ever get out of IPAL?”



thumbnail_lisaheadshot2016rszdLisa Manifold is a Colorado based author living outside of Denver with her husband, two children, two dogs, and one offended cat. When not writing, she loves to hunt for “treasures” at local thrift stores, ski, and costume within her favorite fandoms.

Lisa is the author of the Sisters Of The Curse series, Three Wishes, and The Realm Trilogy. The second book in The Realm Trilogy, To Wed The Goblin King, released November 5, 2016. She is humbled and honored to be the 2016 Independent Writer Of The Year.

You can reach her at

NovelRama: 4 Days to 25k … by Lisa Manifold

RMFW’s Independently Published Authors Liaison (IPAL) is sponsoring an event for all RMFW members this summer designed to kick your writing into high gear. Whether you’ve been noodling an idea around in your head and haven’t done anything further, or if you’ve been finishing up a writing project for what seems like an eternity, we all have things on our writing to-do list. Things that never seem to get completed.

2016Llamav5_IPAL NovelRama
What you need is NovelRama, the four-day IPAL sponsored writing event for all Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers members. In four days, we’ll help you to bring that idea to fruition or wrap up that never-ending project. Beginning at midnight on July 29th, we’ll begin the sprint to 25,000 words.

That’s right, four days to 25k.

But wait, you say, 25k? In four days? How?

Well, we’re glad you asked! Over the course of this four day event, IPAL will host get-togethers where you can put your butt in a different chair than usual, while you bounce your ideas off of fellow authors, and spur your creativity in a fresh location surrounded by people who understand the struggle!

Sounds great, but where do I start?

First, head over to, our new members-only discussion forum (which you should totally go and check out anyway), and register for the forum. After a moderator approves your account, go to the NovelRama category and open the Participant Check In & Greetings board. Introduce yourself in a new post to let us know you plan to join the four days of challenging FUN!

Then, it’s time to start your planning. Even if you are the proudest of proud pantsers, write down some ideas for that new project. Read through that WIP, decide whether your thoughts on finishing it are still legit, and outline the ending. Even if you only outline in brief, grammatically incorrect sentences, make a plan of some sort.

Then what?

IPAL members will host a kick off, location to be decided, on Thursday, July 28th. We’ll have meet-ups on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but there can be only one (daily), because we all need to keep butt-in-chair.

After that, it’s all writing, all the time. For four days, anyway. Ignore the lack of showering. Meh. You can shower on Tuesday.

What happens on Monday, August 1st? Well, at 11:59, NovelRama is done for the year. You’ll be able to look back over the past four days and see the pages of words you’ve produced. Editing, schmediting. There’s always next week! There will also be some fun badges, you know, to show off your writing chops. Later in August, IPAL will host their Summer Sale and NovelRama Celebration.

So join us! This is the perfect time to add a metric ton of wordage to whatever it is you’re working on, and NovelRama is the perfect method to get you there.

Any questions, email We’re happy to help. Because when one of us succeeds, we all do.

4 Days To 25k.

2016Llamav5_IPAL NovelRama

2016_Lisa ManifoldLisa Manifold is fortunate to live in the amazing state of Colorado with her husband, two kids, two dogs, and one offended cat.

She enjoys skiing and carting kids and dogs to wherever they need to go, and she adores "treasure hunting" at local thrift stores. Her other hobbies include costuming within her favorite fandoms and periods.

She is the author of the Sisters Of The Curse series, based on the Grimm Brothers fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Her new series, The Heart Of The Djinn, is a trilogy that shows what happens when a free-lancing djinn does his own thing. THREE WISHES, the first book in The Heart Of The Djinn series is out now. Book two, FORGOTTEN WISHES, will be out soon! Finally, Brennan, the Goblin King will be making his debut in the Realm trilogy in early summer.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, and her Website.

Viewing the World as a Writer

By Sean Curley

As part of my efforts to publish a professional-level book independently, I went back to school at the University of Denver for a graduate degree in Creative Writing. One of the concepts school tried to teach me was to view the world as a writer. I didn't understand that for a long time. However, as my craft grew I began to see the nuances in writing all around me. I had just not been paying attention.

One key moment for me was while I was sitting at a Sting concert one evening. He was playing at the Red Rocks Amphitheater (the best venue in the world) with the London Philharmonic. The wind was whistling through the rock formations and the lights of Denver scintillated in the background. Part of the way through the concert, I actually lost track of the music for a while as I sat pondering the words and their hidden meanings. And then, I started to see how the music presented a mood to go along with and enhance those meanings. Of course, it helps that Sting is an intelligent person and writes complex, almost 3-dimensional, music.

After that, I started paying attention to the subtleties and the art of the written word. I saw it in posters and advertisements, on the sides of buses, in lyrics and speeches, in lectures and well-done movies. Sometimes, I even found it in casual conversation and wondered if the speaker knew how clever his/her statement was.

It also completely changed how I read books and possibly not for the better. Now, I tend to notice a word here or a phrase there and how they change the feeling of the writing. Poorly written books also annoy me more than they used to. Reading as a writer is improving my writing, but I think in some ways it has lessened my pleasure in reading because now I am as much critic and student as I am reader.

As I see it, viewing the world as a writer is one step in the journey to becoming accomplished at our craft. Each time we see the subtleties in how others form their words, sentences, and paragraphs, we improve our own writing.


    About the Author:
Sean Curley - Author Photo
Sean Curley, Author

Sean Curley (1961-) was born and raised in California. His Catholic upbringing shifted to Philosophy and Computers during college. Others have referred to him as a Renaissance man because of his diverse educational background in Computer Science, Philosophy, Management, Space Studies, and Creative Writing. He is frequently found speaking on diverse topics such as Humanism, management, parenting, separation of church and state, and religious history. He has published one non-fiction book, Humanism for Parents, and one novel, Propositum – A Novel. He is currently working on two more novels. Mr. Curley lives in Colorado with his children.

Supporting our Independent Authors — RMFW Spotlight on Sean Curley and IPAL

By Sean Curley

Sean CurleyIPAL is the Independently Published Author’s List within the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization. Similar to PAL (the Published Author’s List), it is meant to be a cohesive group of people who have successfully published at least one book independently. As we all know, the publishing industry has changed a great deal in the last decade. At the forefront of this change is the ability to publish a book independently. This has brought both challenges and incredible opportunity. On the one hand, anyone (and I do mean anyone) can now publish a book without thought of quality or professionalism. On the other hand, we have access to an incredible diversity of writing that may never have made it to print (in the all-inclusive meaning) otherwise.

The organization was created through a collaboration of RMFW members who debated and defined the various entrance criteria (see below). Membership is permanent as long as the individual maintains membership in RMFW.

In order to become a member of IPAL, the author must:

  • be a RMFW member in good standing
  • have independently published at least one novel-length book of fiction, or equivalent in fictional short stories
  • The book(s) must have obtain at least $250 of income for both print and digital versions
  • Send a request to and provide a website or location where the book can be confirmed along with statements or evidence of $250 of income

There is no specific time limit on the income for the book(s). Income is defined as monies paid for the purchase of the book, independent of royalties or print costs. Direct sales of books (e.g. at talks or signings) may be included in the sales numbers if those sales are tracked.

There are numerous benefits of being a member of IPAL. These include:

"It's a Book!" Mailer is the quarterly announcement to RMFW members, bookstores and libraries regarding new releases. This is a great promotional tool since the Mailer goes out to hundreds of bookstores in five states. IPAL members are eligible to have their book(s) included in this mailer.

RMFW newsletter is the organization’s newsletter. This is where IPAL members may write articles or promote their books. As a RMFW member, they should already be receiving this newsletter and should be aware of its value.

IPAL link on the RMFW website. The IPAL author’s name will be added to the RMFW IPAL list and optionally linked to their website. These are available from the RMFW web site.

Facebook Page Promotion. The administrators of the RMFW Facebook Page will be happy to push out notices for any and all book signings and similar events for IPAL members. The page has almost 4,000 members, which is a very good reach.

Twitter Announcements. Similar to the Facebook Page, announcements of book signings and events can be pushed out to the RMFW twitter account by sending the needed information to

RMFW IPAL Yahoo! Group Membership: Please send a blank email to: This will initiate a request to have you added to the Yahoo! Group. You will be able to send and receive emails to other IPAL members or to the entire group. You can use Yahoo! Group Settings to specify how and how often you would like to receive emails.

Colorado Gold Conference Book Sales. IPAL members have the opportunity to sign and sell books at the fabulous book sale at the Colorado Gold conference. They will also receive an “IPAL Author” tag to wear during the conference to show they are in the ranks of independently published authors.

Neither standard membership nor provisional membership is automatic. The author must contact the IPAL Liaison at and provide the needed documentation to be granted membership.

CurleyAs for myself, I have been a member of RMFW for about four years now and am the current IPAL Liaison. I was ecstatic that the organization decided to include support for independently published authors. My first novel, Propositum, was a five year effort that included taking time to get a master’s degree at DU in creative writing in order to improve my craft. I put a lot of research and effort into producing a professionally written, independently published book and love the opportunity to contribute to the industry and to RMFW through IPAL. I have lived in Golden for the past thirteen years and currently work for Oracle running a software development team. I have four children; three of them (mostly) out of the home now and the fourth in high school.

IPAL currently has about fifteen members with three more currently going through the process (of confirming their entrance criteria) and is growing at a steady rate. For more information or to join, please contact me at


You can learn more about Sean and his work at his website and the Propositum site (where you can also purchase his book at a discount)..