Random Thoughts

A Little Bit Every Day
DSC01502I started writing the fifth book in the Allison Coil Mystery Series on Jan. 1, 2014. (Yeah, New Year’s Day. Just Because.) I finished the draft on Monday, March 28. I wrote 500 words a day. That’s 453 days, which would have been 165,433 words if I made forward progress every day. But I needed to back up a few times, re-work a few things. I took a break to write a short story. And another. I finished Draft 1 with 112,000 words, still too many. Lots of cutting to come. What’s my point? 500 words a day isn’t much. It adds up. Do the math.




There’s A Feeling I Get
April2015StairwayThis excellent column by Bob Lefsetz is all about rock and roll. But I thought about writing the whole time. Led Zeppelin went their own way with “Stairway to Heaven.” Their previous album was a dud.

Here’s Lefsetz: “What Led Zeppelin said back in ’71 is that you’re best doing it your way, by yourself, with your peeps, than hiring outside hands to meddle with your vision … That we react to and love most that which is personal and human.”







Lessons Learned
April2016WeirdI’ve had some excellent podcast guests lately, but check out the one with Eleanor Brown. She had a huge hit with The Weird Sisters. Huge! She was on the road doing promotion for 18 months! And then she wrote three more books that all went pffffft before finding the groove for the one that comes later this year, The Light in Paris.

Much like Led Zeppelin, she listened to her heart. (I guess Tom Petty sang that, too.) Humility, folks. It’s a tough business. Listen.

Her workshop is Saturday, April 30 at Columbine Library in Littleton.






Legends of the Fall
Harrison & ReillyEverything they’re saying about Jim Harrison, who died recently, is true.

Read his stuff if you don’t know his work—gritty, singular, raw, honest. I looked up an old review I wrote of his three-novella collection, The Woman Lit By Fireflies.

Anyway, at the bottom of the review I came across a funny exchange with my late pal Gary Reilly and I shook my head (yet again) at Gary’s dry humor. I miss that guy. (Click on the picture to read the exchange.)





The Detachment
The Detachment Cover - FINALSpeaking of Gary, Running Meter Press is launching The Detachment at The Tattered Cover on Friday, April 15 (Colfax Store) at 7 p.m.

I managed to get advance blurbs from some amazing writers—Stewart O’Nan, Ron Carlson, John Mort, Fred Haefele.

Carlson compared The Detachment to Catch 22 and that’s a guy who teaches fiction in an elite program out in California. O’Nan (pals with Stephen King and one prolific writer himself) called it a ‘classic.’

Speaking of length, The Detachment is 534 pages. It’s a powerful, heavy book based on Gary’s experiences in Vietnam as a military policeman.





Honors for Gary
Pick Up at Union Station - Final JPGSpeaking of Gary, Pick Up At Union Station (his seventh novel in The Asphalt Warrior series) was named a finalist in literary fiction for the 2016 Colorado Book Award.

That’s three finalist nominations out of that seven-book series.

The other two were Ticket to Hollywood in 2013 and Doctor Lovebeads in 2014.








My pal Gary Reilly.
My pal Gary Reilly.

The Detachment is the ninth title we’ve published of Gary’s—after seven books in The Asphalt Warrior series and The Enlisted Men’s Club, the first book in his series about Vietnam following Private Palmer.

And Running Meter Press still has about 15 books to go.


Gary wrote more than 500 words a day.






Tethered by Letters

April2015FrictionIs Metro Denver and the Colorado Front Range chock full of writer groups?


There’s bound to be one out there to suit your needs.

Here’s a new one I came across last year. Tethered by Letters.

Yes, based here but with connections all over the world, really. One reason I mention them is because they do a great job—web site, online interactions, classes and a literary magazine called F(r)iction.

The other reason to mention them is because they offer pretty good money for flash fiction, short stories, poetry and more. Check ‘em out!




Are You Following the New RMFW Podcast Series Hosted by Mark Stevens?

Is there anything Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers doesn't do for its members (and all writers for that matter)? Not too much. One of the newest offerings is a series of podcasts that features a variety of professionals to entertain and enlighten all those who tune in. Hosted by Mark Stevens, the podcasts are another great way to meet RMFW members and Colorado Gold guests.

The link to the most recent podcast was posted just this week. Featuring two of the three finalists for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers of the Year, Susan Spann and Cindi Myers, the panel took place at the downtown Denver Tattered Cover in August. Tune in to hear these two authors discuss their writing lives and offer advice based on their own experiences. The third finalist, Joan Johnston, was unable to attend.

Susan Spann

The podcast posted at the end of August featured long-time RMFW member and volunteer, Mario Acevedo. His focus was on the Sept. 5 workshop held in Grand Junction: "Everything You Need to Know About the Next RMFW Anthology."

Mario, who has agreed to step in as editor for the anthology, talks about the submission schedule and selection process and reveals the selected theme. In addition, Mario talks about writing short stories and about his ongoing series featuring vampire Felix Gomez. If you think you'll want to submit a story for consideration in the anthology, you might want to check out Mario's podcast.


The previous interview was with one of the Colorado Gold keynote speakers, erotic romance writer Desiree Holt. In this podcast, Desiree chatted about her six series of books, her daily writing schedule and a preview of the three classes she will be teaching at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference this weekend.DesireeHolt200x263

The podcast before that featured Aaron Michael Ritchey, a highly productive writer and frequent workshop presenter. He'll participate in three writing workshops at Colorado Gold Conference. He talks about his daily dedication to writing and the series he's producing for WordFire Press called The Juniper Wars. As he puts it, the series is "cowgirls with machine guns on a post-apocalyptic cattle drive." Aaron is the author of three books--The Never Prayer, Long Live the Suicide King and Elizabeth's Midnight. He is also the author of numerous collaborations and short stories, including a story in the upcoming Nightmares Unhinged, an anthology from Hex Publishers.Aaron_Michael_Ritchey.jpg

For summaries of the other podcasts produced so far, and for future interviews, check out the page of links on the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website.

Writing and Reading and Podcasts. Oh my!

By Mark Stevens

If you’re addicted to reading and writing—like me—I’m here with a few tips so you can pack more into your day.

First, an important fact:

I only write—pen on paper—for about 45 minutes a day. Sometimes, it’s an hour. But most days, 45 minutes.

However, I’m thinking about those 45 minutes frequently throughout the rest of the day. I’m thinking about that precise moment in my current story—the attitude of my characters, what’s happening, what’s next, what they are thinking, what they will think next, what they will do next, what memory haunts them. Etcetera. You get the picture.

So when my 45-minute window rolls around, I’m writing (not thinking).

But what about the other 23 hours and 15 minutes?

Well, there’s work. And eating. And sleeping.

But my tip for being able to think about writing (and reading) more is to start listening to three dynamite podcasts—ideal for the car and for walks (mine happen to be with a dog).

  • The Bookworm. Just listening to Michael Silverblatt chat with an author is incredibly inspiring, at least to me. This is ‘serious fiction,’ whatever that is, but I find his questions are thoughtful and the authors are a talented bunch from the literary side of the tracks.
  • Scriptnotes. Yes, a podcast for ‘screenwriters,’ but it’s also about story structure and plot and characters. The three-page challenge is the most useful stuff—it’s where John August and Craig Mazin dissect the opening three pages of a screenplay for what works and what doesn’t. Many of the problems they find apply to writing fiction—and they post the challenges on their web site, too. Is there a similar podcast about ‘regular’ fiction writing? Want to start one? Let me know. In the meantime, check this out: http://johnaugust.com/podcast
  •  Authors on Tour. Do you see the events at The Tattered Cover and wish you could go? I do. Many of the presentations are recorded here. A great way to “meet” new authors or listen to famous ones—and find out how they approach their book tour presentations, how they answer questions. Inspiring—through and through. I’ve found several terrific authors this way. Just can’t your book signed.

I also like the Slate Audio Book Club, The Reading and Writing Podcast with Jeff Rutherford, The New Yorker Fiction Podcast (one short story per month, read by another famous writer, and includes a thoughtful discussion of the work). All of these are available on I-Tunes. All free. All will help you get more reading (and writing) into your day.

By the way, I’m serious about the podcast proposal. I’m thinking it would be very cool to have a podcast with an established agent, a publisher and an author discussing the business as well as the art.

Do you have a favorite podcast? Let me know. I’d love to check it out.


Profile_Mark_StevensMark Stevens is the President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the author of the Western hunting guide Allison Coil mysteries Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan.

You can learn more about Mark and his novels at his website. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.