The RMFW Spotlight is on Terri Benson, Education Chair and Western Slope Liaison

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 Terri Benson. You can also connect with Terri at her website.

2016_terri-benson1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am the Education Chair and the Western Slope Liaison, and the western slope events take place where I work so I get the room ready and put together the press releases, etc. I initially stumbled into RMFW from a newspaper ad about a workshop and was so excited to find that there were actually people like me out in the world. I have gotten so much from the group, both in terms of camaraderie and education that I felt I needed to do whatever I could to give back.

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

I am currently working on a new series. It’s a female amateur sleuth who is also a classic car restorer. I’m having fun with the story, but finding I need to be a sneakier person to get enough “mystery” in there to qualify. I have one book out (paperback and ebook), an historical romance, titled An Unsinkable Love which is set half on the Titanic, and half in the New England garment factories.

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?

I want to travel the world for research – SEE the history that I love to write about. My bucket list would have that at the top, but then several hundred “sub-items” because there are so many places I want to go.

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

I get so involved with my characters that sometimes I lose track of what it is they’re actually supposed to be doing, as in the case of the Bad Carma character – solving a mystery instead of having fun restoring all those cool cars. And research. Lots and lots of interesting research often sidetracks me from putting words on paper.

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

I can be anyone and do anything I want. I have no limitations on what I can write (that’s not to say anyone will want to read some of it). It is so much fun to decide what I want to know about, and what I have to do to “become” it and how I can make a story from it.

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

Read more. Turn off the TV or go somewhere no one can find me and write (and hope my husband doesn’t divorce me).

2016_terri-benson-office7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

The room my desk is in is also the “Christmas present” room, so right now it’s full of bags and boxes of shopping. When it’s usable, I have 4 bookcases full of (mostly read) books, binders of WIP and/or finished manuscripts and research, and a big wall calendar that was supposed to keep me on task and on schedule (but since I’m not in there writing….). I don’t keep much on my desk. I’m not a knick-knacky kind of person – I prefer to have my space pretty utilitarian.

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

I’m in the middle of a post-death Sidney Sheldon (written by another author) that a friend gave me, as well as a cozy mystery on my I-pad. I’m really terrible about book names and authors (unless I know the writer). I generally don’t worry so much about who wrote it, if it was a best seller, or that it had all 4 star reviews – it’s usually because the blurb sounds interesting, it’s a genre I like, or a writer I know or have met or who was recommended by someone at Gold/in RMFW. I like finding someone with a style I enjoy – I have a ton of Dick Francis novels because I really like the way he writes.

Thank you, Terri. One of the many services Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers performs for its members (and non-members as well) is education. Thank you for filling that important role of Education Chair and coordinating programs for the Western Slope.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Corinne O’Flynn, Conference Chair

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 finally corral the Colorado Gold Conference chairperson, Corinne O'Flynn. Her focus on Colorado Gold in Denver on September 9-11, 2016 kept her very busy, but she's finally recovering and ready to roll as one of our regular contributors.

2016_corinneoflynn1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am currently the Conference Chair for Colorado Gold. 2016 was my first year as chair, and I am super excited to be planning 2017 already. Before this, I was Technology Co-Chair with Wendy Howard. Before that, I was an aimless writer. I got involved because I believe in being active in the communities where I belong. It's the best way to meet people and be a part of the momentum. 🙂

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

My most recent publication is TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time, an anthology I did with six other RMFW members through our publishing company, Wicked Ink Books. It recently took home two CIPA EVVY awards! We’re working on the next anthology now. I am also working on PROMISE OF THE SCHOLAR, Book Two of my fantasy series, The Expatriates. You can find my books on my Amazon author page.

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?

I am currently working on meditation and making time to mindfully slow down in my life. I operate at a pretty high speed, which is great when there are a lot of balls in the air, but I find moving at this pace is less sustainable as I get older. I would love to make meditation a daily habit, but I struggle with finding time for everything.

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

Ah... it’s like you saw that coming. My problem in writing and in life is time management. I am incredibly organized but not very disciplined. It’s something I struggle with daily.

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

I love the discovery that comes with writing. Its seems like everything is an opportunity to dig into and develop. And, of course, I love my writing tribe!

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

I’d tell myself not to stress so much about the timing of everything. When I was first starting out I felt this urgency about getting it all done. There was a rush to write, to finish, to query, to enter contests, to publish, and, and... I’d tell myself that the urgency is not real.

2016_oflynn_office7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

I love my office! I am a memento keeper and I also hang on to most of the stuff my kids give me as presents. So, my office is like a gigantic scrap book. When I am sitting at my desk, I have a stack of books on my left that act as a lamp-table and a writing shrine full of things that inspire me and have meaning. One of my favorite things is my moss terrarium which was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. I loved that story.

One of the more inspirational things in my office are the sparrows. The morning I published my first book in 2014, I woke up to find a sparrow flying above me in my bed. We were in NY visiting family so it was doubly disorienting to wake in a strange room with this sparrow circling a few feet above me. It didn't seem real. One source of animal wisdom I found said that the sparrow signifies power, productivity, and self worth. It also is one bird that persists in many climates despite external factors. That felt extremely meaningful and resonates with me today.

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

I’m currently reading CLOSER HOME by our very own Kerry Anne King (Kerry Schafer)! It’s fantastic and I highly recommend. Before this I read BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty and HEART OF THE GOBLIN KING by our IWOTY, Lisa Manifold. On deck is a re-read of DIVINE EVIL by Nora Roberts because it’s mentioned in a writing class I am taking and I am intrigued to revisit it as a writer with my class notes in hand!

Thank you, Corinne. Your hard work for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and this year's Colorado Gold Writers Conference is much appreciated. We'll be looking for your regular posts on the blog (the second Monday of the month starting October 10th).

The RMFW Spotlight is on Liesa Malik

2015_Liesa Malik_Author1. Welcome, Liesa! Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I love being involved with RMFW! In 2003, I never imagined being so engaged, but each time I volunteer for something, new rewards come right along with the responsibilities. Currently, I am critique group moderator for the Littleton Writers critique group that meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Aspen Groves’ Tattered Cover. Actually, Mike Hope does a great job taking care of Tuesdays, so I’m more often at the Thursday meetings. I also write a monthly post for the RMFW blog, and am the PAL chair, which means I welcome new traditionally published authors into the group, help with the Writer of the Year, and have the pleasure of moderating the First Sale Panel at Colorado Gold.

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

Thanks so much for asking! My second book, Sliced Vegetarian, was recently released through Five Star Publishing. You can purchase the book through the major venues of B&N.com and Amazon.com, but if you’re in Littleton, please check out the Barnes and Noble at Chanson Crossing (Wadsworth & Bowles) or Natural Surroundings gift shop in old town Littleton. Ron and Nina Else of the Broadway Book Mall also carry my books. And if you haven’t read my work and aren’t sure you’re ready to invest in this new author, please ask for either Faith on the Rocks or Sliced Vegetarian at your local library. Both are cozy mysteries set in Littleton, CO with a widow and retired special education teacher as the protagonist. Next up? I’m working on a story called Pot Shots—heh, heh, heh.

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?

To make a living writing. Seriously, I’m about as old as the Rockies and have learned that enjoying today is the real goal in life. I enjoy writing, of course, ballroom dance, sketching and watercolor painting, and my family. What else could I ask for but to win the lottery, run for president of the United States, or help make Denver the literary capital of the West?

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

In a word, Pat? Productivity. It is amazing to me how long it takes to get an idea into a readable format--all part of the downside of a plotter personality. Until I know where I’m going with a work, writing doesn’t really happen.

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

Spiral notebooks, index cards, introducing myself to potential interview subjects by saying I’m a novelist, flowing pen strokes and clacking keyboards. It’s all great, and I love every bit of it—even revisions and edits!

2015_Liesa Malik_Sliced Vegetarian6. Now that you have a little writing experience, what advice would you go back and give yourself as a beginning writer?

Stop playing solitaire and use your time better. Learn to read, and read voraciously. Even if you’re never published, your mind will grow and you’ll have a better chance of developing your creativity. Reading can take all sorts of forms these days, and to understand that you don’t have to read from page one to “the end” to consider yourself as having read a work is important. Learn to skim, to search for facts in the written word, to keep a quotation log, to enjoy words everywhere and in all sorts of combinations. Then go for what you want in writing. Develop that vision and make it so.

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

I’m somewhat spoiled here, Pat. I have a desk with my computer and a couple of monitors on it. Very cool. But sometimes that computer can run my life more than the other way around, so I also have a table that’s clear except for my spiral notebook. That’s where I brainstorm a lot.

As for the little things on my desktop, I have a timer that motivates and helps me structure any project I’m working on. I also have a slinky because I need to be moving a lot, and my husband isn’t too fond of my bad habit of gum chewing while thinking.

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

Yea! Books! This summer I had the chance to read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Readaholics and the Falcon Fiasco by Laura DiSilvario. I also got to read some pre-published samples for the CO Gold writing contest. THANKS to everyone who entered, I had some super reading there. Lastly, I’m reading a couple of non-fiction books: Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino and The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. And yes, I keep those great writer safety nets—The Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style close at hand always. Sorry, Goodreads, I’m really far behind on updating you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Liesa Malik is a freelance writer and marketing consultant originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, but currently living in Littleton, Colorado, with her husband and two pets. She has always enjoyed reading mysteries, from The Happy Hollister series, through Trixie Belden and into Reader’s Digest’s Great True Stories of Crime, Mystery and Detection.

A graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications, Liesa has built on her writing interest with long-standing membership in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and recently joined the board of Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America. Most days you can find Liesa either at her desk, at a local ballroom dance studio, or on the web. Visit her website or blog. Liesa’s most recent book release is Sliced Vegetarian, a Daisy Arthur mystery.

RMFW Spotlight

Mike Befeler, who posts here every other Monday, is recovering from a recent health setback. Mike, we send you lots of good wishes and prayers for a quick and full recovery.

While Mike gets a little R&R, we thought we'd take this time to introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions.

Today, we introduce you to Vicki Rubin, RMFW's esteemed and much appreciated Vice President. Vicki we are so grateful for all you do for our group and the time you took to answer a few of our questions.

 

Let the grilling begin.

1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am the RMFW Vice President. As such, I have few official duties. In fact, none. It’s a great gig. In addition to being VP, I am Co-chair Volunteer Coordinator. I get to help Scott Brendel recruit volunteers when the need arises. In both positions I get to meet people and help them figure out ways to become involved in RMFW. Being involved with RMFW allows me to visit with interesting people and learn how they create amazing worlds and fascinating characters.

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

I’m working on a couple of short stories with a Twilight Zone flair as well as a manuscript about two reluctant (yet effective) sister private detectives: Calli Sheridan and Buttercup Rollins. In this book their adventurous grandfather, Chance, an ex-jewel thief, has been charged with--dang--jewel theft. He promised he’d gone straight. The sisters must clear him or he’ll lose his apartment at Beautiful Gardens Retirement Community and have to live with one of the women. That will never do.

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?

I am a “worlds-biggest-ball-of-yarn” girl. I love to see stuff that is unique and incredible, like the Corn Palace in South Dakota or a moonshine still hidden in the Okefenokee Swamps of Georgia. In addition, I enjoy participating in things that scare the life out of me. I’ve zip-lined, tightrope walked, and rock climbed. Don’t ask what possessed me to do those things. I’m still trying to figure it out.

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

Being Southern, telling stories comes naturally; we have an oral tradition down there that I took to like a moth to a flame. Writing those stories down is a little more challenging for me. I duct tape myself to my computer to produce material. It’s not pretty, but it is effective.

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

I suppose I love the solitary life.The eyestrain acquired by glaring at a computer screen for hours at a time appeals to me. Not to mention the posture problems. Then there are the public conversations I have (complete with hand gestures) with people who aren’t there causing the people who are there to give me a wide berth. Honestly, what’s not to love about writing?

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

Rejection is not about me. It’s about not being in the exact right spot at the exact right time with the exact right manuscript. No more, no less.

7. 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 blond-wood flattop desk is a wreck most of the time with different sized stacks for different projects on different corners sharing apace with reference books and a printer. My laptop has a little clean spot in the front center. My desk is next to an oversized chair where I read with Gracie, my Dalmatian. Mostly she pretends to read, but is really sleeping.

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

Just finished a writing book recommended by Angie Hodapp. It’s by David Farland and is called Million Dollar Outlines. He presents lots of insight into what makes a strong story and creates a solid bond with the reader. It was terrific. Thank you, Angie! I’m also reading Lee Child’s books because I love Jack Reacher.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Vicki, for being such a good sport and granting us this opportunity to get to know you a bit better.

Stay tuned to October 21st to see who is the next victim...er...gracious volunteer for our RMFW Spotlight series!