The RMFW Spotlight: Janet Fogg, Vice-President

Our monthly feature, The RMFW Spotlight, is intended to provide members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers with more information about our board members as well as featured volunteers. This month we're pleased to present our new vice-president, Janet Fogg. First comes the Q&A, but you'll find Janet's bio below with links to her social media sites.

2016_Janet Fogg1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I'm currently Vice-President and in 2010 I was the Published Author Liaison. I'm on both the WOTY and I-WOTY nominating committees and am chairing a committee that's researching a possible Mentoring Program for RMFW. Over the years I've volunteered at the conference registration desk, with agent-editor appointments, taught a few panels, and moderated workshops.

Why am I involved? It's simple.

Back in the dark ages I attended a Life Long Learning class on how to get published, taught by Carol Caverly. In addition to teaching the ins and outs of the publishing world, Carol strongly suggested joining a critique group and also mentioned RMFW's writing contest.

I entered the contest, won 3rd place, and (nervously) attended my first conference. Everyone was so kind and welcoming that I joined, continued to learn (and learn, and learn!), made new friends, and landed my first agent at a much later conference.

RMFW is an all-volunteer organization, which I like, and we're fortunate that there are members who donate an extraordinary amount of time and talent to keep it strong and growing. Smart, committed writers. Who better to spend my time with?

2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

2016_Fogg_AnnieI have two current WIPs rarin' to go: a YA novella with an April release date, and a BIG non-fiction that I hope will be published next year.

In Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper, co-written with Dave Jackson, you'll meet 16 year-old Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west. She's called Misfortune Annie because of her knack for winding up in unlucky predicaments, and when she inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train—and he wears a suit that enables him to fly!—the government catches wind of it and believes she’s the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and lived to tell the tale.

A Manifest Spirit, co-written with Charlotte Baldridge and Richard Fogg, is a 400+photo, 165,000 word military history about the 359th Fighter Group during World War II. Go on, ask me about P-51s.

3. We've all heard of bucket lists -- you know, those life-wish lists of experiences, dreams or goals we want to accomplish-- what's one of yours?

Of course I want to write more books, but to be specific, I'm excited to finish a SF manuscript that I started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It always seems to end up on the back burner, though lately I have been day-dreaming about the sagging, middle-of-the-book plot line, so perhaps this fall...

And then there's dreaming of flying a helicopter.

4. Most writers have an Achilles heel with their writing. Confess, what's yours?

I always work on multiple projects at the same time, so I'm slower than The Blob.

5. What do you love most about the writing life?

My alone time, when I can simply stare at the lake and think. The friends I've made, brainstorming plots, reading and (gasp!) editing. Yes, editing!

6. Now that you have a little writing experience, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning writer?

Don't put so much pressure on yourself to get published. Enjoy writing your manuscript. Enjoy editing. Enjoy the research. Enjoy learning.

2016_Fogg_Worktable dragon7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

My worktable often has piles of paper or folders on it, though I prefer it to be completely empty, save for my computer, a small dragon, and the giant crystal she's guarding. Periodically, she'll turn her head and all the folders go up in flames, so the surface is clear for a few days.

8. What book are you currently reading (or what was the last one you read)?

I just finished Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey, and thoroughly enjoyed it. That man is a master of throwing rocks at his characters.

I'm currently reading sample chapters for RMFW's WOTY and I-WOTY nominees, and have been blown away by their stories and talent. So much fun! Many of these will go on my wish list.


Ye olde bio by Janet Fogg:

My focus on writing began when I was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. I now serve as an adviser to KGA Studio Architects, P.C., and on the Board of Directors of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

Perhaps closer to my heart, fifteen writing awards after attending my first writing conference I resigned from OZ to follow the yellow brick road, and ten months after that signed a contract for Soliloquy, a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

My next book, Fogg in the Cockpit, a military history co-written with husband Richard, earned a coveted nomination by the Air Force Historical Society for best WWII book reviewed in Air Power History. Last year I was honored to be invited by Fighting High Publications to submit three of ten stories needed for a new Failed to Return anthology about USAAF fighter pilots during WWII, to be published in 2017 or 2018.

On a more rambunctious note, I once participated in a successful rattlesnake hunt, climbed two dozen of Colorado’s Fourteeners, was alternate on a winning trap-shooting team, and several years ago received my motorcycle license. Which reminds me, I've always wanted to learn to fly helicopters. Hmmm.

Social media:
359th Fighter Group on Facebook:
Sisters of the Quill blog:
Fogg in the Cockpit blog:
YouTube channel:

Guest Post: “We’d like to request an R&R” By Janet Fogg

Receiving any sort of positive response from an editor or agent is always a shiny moment, but when one such response included an acronym with multiple definitions, I found it impossible to resist substituting a few of those alternatives.

Excerpt from an editor's recent email after reviewing full manuscript:  [We've] highlighted a number of ways that the story could be tightened and angled a little more towards the target audience. We’d like to request an R&R if you’re open to taking a look at the notes.  Please let me know how you’d like to proceed.


Rest and recuperation?  Reading our manuscript must have exhausted this editor.  Poor thing.  Yes, please take some R&R.  Wind and waves?  Mountains and trails?  Regardless, margaritas are on us.

Refuse and resist!  This could work.  In fact a friend of mine had an agent request revisions three times before declining to represent her manuscript.  That didn't seem fair when it happened and it still doesn't sit well with me.  I suspect my friend might refuse any query-related R&R unless it's for rest and recuperation.  And margaritas.

Roles and responsibility?  This one's easy!  My role is to write a terrific book.  Yours, dearest editor, is to offer a multi-book contract with a million dollar advance.  Wait, that creates too much performance pressure.  How about a nice six figure advance?  Yep.  That'll work perfectly.

Revise and resubmit?  Or request for revisions?  This is what the editor meant and his notes  provided some terrific insight.  Did I agree with all of his suggestions?  After re-reading our manuscript with his suggestions in mind, I did.


My first agent tried to sell my third novel for about six months, and after a number of declines she received a request for revisions (R&R) from an editor.  As in, change the book from dark fantasy into a romance.  A complete re-write.  I pondered this for a long time.  After all, I'd hooked that agent with the dark fantasy version.  Plus, I'd never set out to write "romance."  After some R&R (Research and Reconnaissance) about what was selling well (Romance and more Romance), I decided to try a few chapters, which evolved into my changing the entire story.  And that version did sell, ultimately earning a HOLT Medallion for Best First Book. (Romance Rocks!)

For this newest manuscript, even though the editor liked the revisions, he eventually declined because of word count.  (Hello!  We only cut 2,000 words!)  But all is well.  I'm enormously grateful for his R&R (Review and Recommendations), as the new, improved version is so much better and already under consideration by an agent.

Do I love R&R?  You betcha!  (Rock and roll, baby!  Rock and roll!)

Have you received a request for revisions from an editor or agent before signing a contract?  Did you choose to edit your manuscript?


Janet Fogg

Janet Fogg’s interest in writing began in the 5th grade when she won bronze for a statewide essay contest. Her focus on writing flourished while CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture. Several decades and 15 writing awards later she resigned from OZ to follow the yellow brick road, and 10 months after that signed a contract for Soliloquy, her HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner. Her military history, Fogg in the Cockpit, co-written with her husband, Richard, received an Air Force Historical Foundation nomination for best WWII book reviewed in Air Power History.

Janet joined RMFW in 1993 and has volunteered at conference and served on RMFW's Board of Directors. She has also served on the boards of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Boulder, Inc., OZ Architecture, and KGA Studio Architects, P.C.


An Interview with Literary Associate Elizabeth Copps

Interview by Janet Fogg (We're simul-publishing Janet's interview with Chiseled in Rock blog)

Elizabeth CoppsToday, I have the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Copps, Literary Associate with the Maria Carvainis Agency, Inc.

Elizabeth began her publishing career in 2010 as an MCA intern after graduating from Florida State University with a BA in English Literature. She was thrilled to join the agency full-time in 2011 as the new literary assistant. Two years later, she was offered the position of literary associate and is incredibly excited to build her own list of authors.

Elizabeth considers herself an eclectic reader, but she is particularly interested in literary, multicultural and contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, young adult and young adult crossover, gritty thrillers and mysteries, memoir and romantic suspense. She appreciates rich and believable characters who immediately draw readers into their world, and she is always captivated by a startling plot twist. Her favorite authors include, John Boyne, Chris Cleave, Gillian Flynn, John Green, Joanne Harris, Jhumpa Lahiri, Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Daphne du Maurier, David Sedaris, Jeanette Walls, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

MCA’s clients include Mary Balogh, Sandra Brown, Candace Camp, Cindy Gerard, Kristan Higgins, Will Thomas, and Laura Wright among others.

Thank you for joining us, Elizabeth!

JF: Please tell us about your typical work day (and how many manuscripts you usually have waiting in your inbox).

EC: Our solicited manuscript log is ongoing, so I have a lot to sift through every day. I usually read between 5 and 10 manuscripts a week depending on whether I am reading partial or full projects. Regarding query letters—the agency usually receives between 20 and 25 letters a day. We try our best to respond to every query within 10 business days of receipt.

JF: What gets you excited in a query letter? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to submissions?

EC: Queries that read similarly to a blurb on the back of a book always make me sit up and take notice. I love tight, witty language. Additionally, I want to be hooked by a story’s concept from the first sentence or two of the pitch—but fascinating and unusual characters appeal to me as equally as an intriguing plot.

As far as pet peeves are concerned, I have three biggies:
1. Failing to research our agency’s submission guidelines. It’s clear to me when authors have not done their due diligence. Query letters that are not personalized, or queries with 30 other agents copied on the same email are giveaways.

2. Providing biographical information before describing the writing project. I’m very interested in hearing about a writer’s credentials or reading a short biography, but a writer’s first job is to sell me on their book.

3. Starting with an excerpt of the novel instead of a formal pitch. I appreciate receiving 10-15 sample pages in a separate attachment so I can get a sense of the writing, but it is disorienting to begin reading a sample without any context.

JF: Certain agents edit a manuscript prior to shopping it to editors. Others don’t. How would you describe your process?

EC: Providing our authors strong editorial feedback is a service we pride ourselves on at MCA. We want the best, most polished version of our client’s work to land on an editor’s desk.

JF: What do you enjoy most about representing authors to the publishing industry? Least?

EC: In publishing, I really do feel like I get to have my cake and eat it too. I have the privilege of working with highly creative minds as well as impressively business-savvy men and women. I love that I’m in a position where the two sides of the industry merge.

The most unenjoyable aspect of the business has to be sending rejection letters. It’s a necessity, but it can be really difficult. Agents receive rejection letters too, so I know that it is never a good feeling to see one pop up in your inbox.

JF: Which social media venues do you consider most important for authors: a website, a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads? Are there others you recommend?

EC: Knowing their way around all types of social media platforms can only benefit authors, especially those who are hybrid or self-published writers. I will say that I believe having a strong website is a necessary foundation for any writer. A website should contain links to an author’s Facebook, Twitter, blog etc. as well as the option to sign up for a weekly or monthly newsletter. Play to your strengths. For example, if you know you can keep up a Twitter account, do so. If you know you hate Facebook and will rarely post, you won’t do yourself or your readers any favors by starting up an account.

JF: What one piece of advice would you offer to authors who plan to pitch their novel to you at Colorado Gold?

EC: Have fun with it! Tell me why you’re passionate about the book you wrote. If I can see how enthusiastic you are about the characters and the plot, chances are I’ll be excited to read your work too.

JF: What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

EC: I’m a big foodie, and I should probably make my motto something along the lines of, “no cookie left behind.” I also have a serious travel bug. This year I am lucky enough to be doing quite a bit of domestic travel for business. Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and of course Colorado are on the docket thus far for 2014.

JF: Now I would like to ask an off-track question. What did you dream of doing when you were twelve years old?

EC: I was convinced that I was going to be a famous painter. The best afterschool class my mom ever enrolled me in was called “Art Safari.” The classroom was in a converted warehouse, and the teacher filled it floor to ceiling with every art supply imaginable. The first day I walked in she looked at me and said, “Create!” It was pretty magical.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

You can visit for submission guidelines, or meet with Elizabeth in Denver when she joins us at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer's Colorado Gold Conference, September 5-7, 2014.


Janet Fogg by Aspen copyJanet Fogg’s focus on novel-length fiction began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest (and coolest!) architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later Janet resigned from OZ to follow the yellow brick road, and Soliloquy, a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner, was released by The Wild Rose Press in 2009. Fogg in the Cockpit, co-authored by Janet and her husband Richard, was released worldwide in 2011 by Casemate Publishing. This Military Book Club best seller received a 2013 Air Force Historical Foundation nomination for best WWII book reviewed in Air Power History. Janet served on RMFW's 2010 Board of Directors as PAL Liaison. You can visit Janet at her website.