Tag Archives: RMFW Spotlight

RMFW Spotlight on Chris Devlin, Colorado Gold Writers Contest Chair

This month we’re shining the light on Chris Devlin who is coordinating the RMFW Colorado Gold Writers Contest. If you want to know more about the contest which opened for submissions on April 1st, just scroll down to yesterday’s special post or visit the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website contest page.

Welcome, Chris, and thanks for all you do to help unpublished writers get their work recognized.

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profile_chris_devlin1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I’m the Contest Chair of the Colorado Gold writers contest. I volunteered for the position a few years back because I’ve been a member of this august organization since the 80s and I felt like it was time to give back. From the beginning, I’ve been surrounded by hard-working and dedicated members who gave their all so RMFW could be the great group it is and I thought–why not me? Commitment, involvement, engagement…it sounds like I’ve sort of grown up, or something. Scary.

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

I’m afraid I’m among the pre-published, so no promos here. I’m currently working on a young adult urban fantasy series about alchemy in a Catholic boarding school. The biggest challenge is shutting up and cutting the word length so it’s not the War and Peace of YA novels. Check back for progress reports.

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’d love to fly on an airship someday. I have this thing about dirigibles. Of course, I’ll have to overcome my terror of flying and also transport back in time to before the Hindenburg disaster…

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

Procrastination. Lack of discipline. It takes me forever to finish anything and that’s just not cool.

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

The moments late at night when I sink into the other worlds I’ve created and I get to experience the depth and texture of having a rich inner life. I’m rarely ever bored because there’s always my imagination to keep me occupied. That, and other writers. We’re all nuts, but what a fun ride.

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

Commit yourself to this life and stop being distracted by outside drama and/or trying to save the world.

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?

Chris Devlin's deskThese days, because of a bad lower back, I do most of my writing in a recliner with a laptop ironing board across my lap for support. It’s tragically middle-aged. My formal desk mostly has my cats on it now, as they love to step on the keyboard and turn the screen on. Cats. What can you do?

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

The last fiction book I read was a bargain edition of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova that I bought at the Tattered Cover. It’s about Dracula and traveling by train throughout Europe. Good book and at 700+ pages long, it made me feel better about my tendency to overwrite.

Thanks for letting me spout off, Pat, and thanks for the RMFW blog!

Well, doggone — no RMFW post today?

By Patricia Stoltey

I have an explanation.

See, I was going to do the Coming Events post today, but then I realized one of the classes I wanted to promote started last Monday. I moved the Events post back to Sunday, and that worked fine.

Except, of course, now there was nothing scheduled for today.

So I thought about it, did some other stuff, procrastinated, went for coffee with a friend, did a batch of critiques and attended my critique group’s meeting, enjoyed a massage appointment, and finally ended back up at my computer wondering if anyone would notice if we just skipped a day.

I couldn’t do it.

Here’s what you’ll find on the RMFW Blog:

Posts from regular contributors Mark Stevens, Mary Gillgannon, Julie Kazimer, Jeffe Kennedy, Lori DeBoer, Karen Duvall, Pam Nowak, Kerry Schafer, Susan Spann, Sean Curley, Katriena Knights, Liesa Malik (and starting in April, Tiffany Lawson Inman).

In March and April, we have scheduled guest authors Jan Weeks, Lucinda Stein, Ann Gordon, Julie Luek, Mario Acevedo, Mark and Kym Todd, and Aaron Michael Ritchey.

We’ll continue with a monthly RMFW Spotlight on board members and volunteers. Chris Devlin is our victim for April.

And from April through mid-August, we’ll be interviewing as many of the Colorado Gold agents, editors, and guest speakers as we can.

You can sign up to receive notice of our posts via email, or watch for the links on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPatricia Stoltey is the author of two amateur sleuth mysteries published by Five Star/Cengage in hardcover and Harlequin Worldwide mass market paperbacks. The Prairie Grass Murders and The Desert Hedge Murders are now available for Kindle and Nook. Five Star will also release her new standalone suspense novel Dead Wrong in November 2014. You can find Patricia hanging out at her own blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

RMFW Spotlight – Wendy Howard, Website Liaison

Introducing the wonderful board members and volunteers who do so much for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is one of the missions of this blog. This month we shine the Spotlight on Wendy Howard who works behind the scenes to inform and educate writers at all levels, whether they belong to RMFW or not. Her job is neverending. Thanks, Wendy. We couldn’t have brought this blog online without you.

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wendy12131. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I do a number of things for RMFW, my main job being Website Liaison. I’m a long-time computer geek, and serving as Website Liaison gives me something fun to do when I need a break from writing and editing. If you have any questions or suggestions for the website, contact me at website_liaison@rmfw.org.

I’m also a member of the Publicity team. I prepare and distribute email communications twice a week to remind everyone about events, classes and such. If you have a new release or event to promote, email the details to communications@rmfw.org. Time permitting, I’ll include your announcement in an email.

And I recently set up our new RMFW Google+ community. I help run the page with other members of the Publicity team. Be sure to join us at https://plus.google.com/communities/104404222760779325232.

2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available? (Feel free to attach photos of book covers—platform opportunity time!)

My current work in progress is a re-work in progress. Heavy sigh! The first in The Courier series, Call for Obstruction won an award in 2009 and was published by a small press late 2011. Unfortunately, the publisher went out of business and returned my book shortly after it was published. Instead of being upset about losing a publishing contract, I decided to take advantage of the situation and restore the book to the short length I originally intended it to be. That meant cutting out 150 pages, one of the hardest editing task I’ve ever tackled. It’s almost done, and I’m hoping to self-publish it in April. My long-term goal is to find another agent and editor and do the traditional publishing thing with it again.

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?

Go on an archeological dig anywhere in South America, but if I do it, I’ll probably never come back to the U.S.

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

I’ve been a professional writer for over 25 years and I still struggle to call a work complete. I want to edit to perfection and there really is no such thing.

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

Developing a new story from an idea, especially inventing the characters and creating new worlds or planets. I also enjoy research and writing the first draft.

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

Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Learn the craft and be cautious with editors, publishers, and other writers. Over the last five years, I’ve worked with and managed small presses, and have moderated online networking communities for writers and filmmakers. While I’ve met some of the most amazing people, I can also tell you quite a few horror stories. Join a writer’s organization like RMFW. Being a part of a community is an important step to becoming a better writer and protecting yourself against predators in the publishing industry.

wendydesk7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it? (Include a picture of your work area, if possible)

I move around a lot while writing and editing, and work outside as much as I can during warm months. There’s just something about a change of scenery that stimulates my imagination. I do have an office and on my desk are my idols: Jesus and Abraham Lincoln. Whenever the going gets tough, I sit back and look to them for inspiration. And every now and then I rub the Laughing Buddha’s belly for a little luck.

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

I just finished Faith on the Rocks by fellow RMFW member Liesa Malik. I attend the Southwest Critique Group with Liesa when I can and sat in on a few critique sessions for Faith on the Rocks. I bought her book at conference last year and had her sign it. I really enjoyed the read, probably more so for knowing a little about the blood sweat and tears Liesa put into her baby.

I’m also reading Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger by Jeff Wise. A very interesting read, and one I’d suggest any writer read. Halfway through the book I’ve learned better ways to torture characters and describe their panicked reactions.

You can also find me on my website, @by_wjhoward, Google+, and sometimes on Facebook.

RMFW Spotlight — Bonnie Ramthun PAL Liaison

The RMFW Spotlight feature will introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We started out with the board of directors, sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions. This month, we’ve interrogated our PAL Liaison, Bonnie Ramthun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Bonnie, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I’m the PAL for RMFW, which means the Published Author Liaison. I volunteered for this position because I wanted to give back to the RMFW community. When I started attending the Colorado Gold conference I was already a published author but I knew nothing about… well, let’s just stop there. I knew nothing! RMFW has taught me so much. The amazing workshops, the excellent publishing advice, and the support of what Mario Acevedo calls “the writing tribe” means the world to me. I found my terrific agent, Becca Stumpf of Prospect Agency, at the conference. I found new publishing contracts. I’ve discovered amazing authors whose novels take me away for hours of happy reading.

What can I possibly do to give back to such a wonderful organization? I do what I can. I volunteer at every conference, and as the PAL I manage the Friday Night Networking Tables. Each January I form a committee to select the Writer of the Year, and I present new RMFW authors with a PEN award and showcase them at the First Sale Panel at the conference. I make a poster every year of the WOTY winners and present the WOTY with a special pin commemorating their award. This past year I formed the committee to create the new Independent Published Author group, the IPAL, and I put our conference director, Suzie Brooks, in contact with Smashword’s Mark Croker to see if he would come to Colorado Gold and talk about independent publishing. (He will!) I try to think of new ways to improve our organization all the time because that means greater success for all of us.

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

I have an eclectic set of stories and novels available for readers on Amazon. If you like romance, there’s a sweet short story called Love out of Time, with a cover design by RMFW’s own Karen Duvall. My horror story The Little Hitchhiker was selected for Horror Novel Review’s anthology and RMFW author Yvonne Montgomery called it “a deftly written, fast-paced tale that veers into nightmare territory.” (Thanks, Yvonne!) If mystery is more your style, try the Detective Eileen Reed trilogy of Ground Zero, Earthquake Games, and The Thirteenth Skull. And finally I have a historical-supernatural-thriller-romance that didn’t find a niche in traditional publishing (wonder why?) called The Night Queen. Finally, if you have a youngster in your family who doesn’t like to read, I have it on good authority that The White Gates will help them change their mind!

If you’d care to write a few words in review on any of my works that you enjoyed I would really appreciate it. Reviews really help a novel and I try to write reviews of every book I read, particularly those of our terrific RMFW authors. Here are a few of my favorite covers:

Ramthun_Thirteenth SkullFrame with Christmas tree branches and vintage decorationsRamthun_night queen

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?

When you ask someone what they would do if they won the Powerball, and they say: “I wouldn’t do anything differently,” you know you’ve met a happy person. I love being a mom and a wife and a writer. I wouldn’t turn down millions of dollars, of course, but that wouldn’t change my life. Okay, except travel. I would travel more. I’d go to Ireland and Nepal and India and Australia and I’d attend every writer’s conference I could find, and I’d buy books every day, piles of them. Maybe I will buy that Powerball ticket after all.

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

I have a terrible case of writus-interruptus. If I’m in the zone and typing away and the phone rings or the dog starts barking, I’m not only thrown out of my story but I can’t get back into it for hours. I know I have this Achilles heel so when it’s writing time I cocoon myself in my room, turn the phone off, and put earplugs in my ears. Whatever works, right?

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

Writing is hard work for me. I love to write the same way I love to work in my garden: I know the backbreaking labor will bear fruit. One of the true joys of writing is receiving notes from readers who loved my books. One mom wrote to me that her son who didn’t read at all liked my book The White Gates so much that she found him under the covers with a flashlight. Another reader told me that when she finished The Thirteenth Skull she was so swept away by the adventure that she felt like she’d been on vacation. Those notes make me smile for days, and give me the strength to get back to the keyboard and keep writing.

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

I would recommend (and I do recommend, all the time) for beginning writers to join an organization like RMFW, and to scrape together all their spare cash to attend a writer’s conference like The Colorado Gold. I learn every year about my craft and about the industry, and beginning writers who have those tools are ahead of the pack and are bound to be more successful. I wish I’d known about RMFW back when I was a newbie writer.

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?

Here’s a photo of my desk, and a picture of my inspiration stones. I collect them and I like looking at them and holding them in my hands. I bought my IMac with the advance money from The White Gates, and my computer is my window to the world, my research companion, and my writing platform. My sister calls this color scheme: Cowboy archeologist librarian. Works for me!

Ramthun_desktopRamthun_inspiration

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

I just finished reading Innocence, by Dean Koontz. I’m a big fan and this latest novel chilled me to the bone. Maybe because the ultimate plot twist was so plausible? Koontz is truly a wonderful writer. Next up is Missing, by Christine Jorgensen.

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Thanks so much for answering our questions, Bonnie. We all appreciate your hard work with PAL and with RMFW.

RMFW Spotlight on Nikki Baird, Anthology Chair

Our second spotlight of the month features Nikki Baird who is serving as anthology chair. Nikki was happy to join in the fun because she wants to see a large number of RMFW members at her workshop tomorrow and is hoping for lots of great member story submissions for Crossing Colfax, the first RMFW anthology since 2009.

The workshop is called Short Story Breakdown: Prepping for Anthology 2014
Saturday, January 25
1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.
Bel Mar Public Library
555 S. Allison Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80226
Members Only

The deadline for submitting to the anthology is March 14th. For more information and the submission form, go to the anthology page on the RMFW website.

nbaird_hs1. Nikki, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am the anthology chair, which means that I shepherd the production of RMFW’s short story anthology. The organization has produced 3 collections so far, and this will be our fourth – and my first in this role. But it will also be the first anthology produced in this wild west of self-publishing, which is very exciting.

It’s been awhile since RMFW has produced an anthology, and I’ve increasingly realized the importance of short stories both in advancing a writing career as well as advancing craft. So I became passionate enough (or just plain crazy enough) to decide that a) this is something that RMFW should do again and b) I will volunteer to lead it. So here I am!

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

I’m actually in the process of putting out my own short story collection, as a way to dip my toes in the water of self-publishing. The collection is called Uncanny, and I hesitate to give a publication date because every time I do that, life gets in the way big time. But I’m in the process of designing covers right now, so it should be available “very soon.”

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 go to St. Petersburg, Russia and experience a white Russian night. I was a dual-major in college, and Russian was the second major (which is a really long story all on its own), but I never got to spend a semester there because that happened to be right as the Soviet Union fell apart and it became very inadvisable to travel there. Would’ve definitely helped my language skills. But St. Petersburg is a city with a fascinating history, built by one of the most enigmatic leaders of Russia, and it is absolutely on my list of things to see in my lifetime.

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

Saying the same thing twice. Granted, I say it differently each time, and I usually like both ways – which is why I end up leaving it in on the first pass. I’ve had to learn to give myself some time to let the love fade, and then I can go back and ruthlessly delete all my over-writing. Either that, or my wonderful critique partners will not hesitate to point out the repeats.

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

When my story surprises me. I think I will never know if the connections that suddenly emerge out of nowhere were actually planned long ago deep in my sub-conscious, or if I really did only just see the opportunity, but I love that little jolt of “Of course that’s what should happen next! How did I not see that before?”

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

Get over the whole grammar over-reaction (you know, the mind-numbing high school lectures on sentence structure followed by the verbal beatings and grades when it was clear I absorbed nothing). The vocabulary of grammar can be confusing and challenging, but every craftsperson should know the tools of their trade, and grammar is the tool of the writing trade. I resisting learning the language of my chosen profession for too long, and I would say it prevented me from quickly learning the “why” behind a lot of the rules out there. It, to be repetitive, slowed me down.

Baird Desk1.jpg7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

You really want to see this? Just remember, you asked!

The first thing you should know is that, yes, I have a treadmill desk. I just found out that I walked 1,722 miles in 2013, which also wasn’t a full year of walking because I didn’t set it up until February. I will confess that most of my heavy writing is not done on the treadmill – it’s hard to walk, think, and type all at once and I’m always worried I’ll mess at least one of them up if I try all three. So the treadmill is only running a couple hours a day, not all day, and usually when I’m thinking or checking email, not when I’m writing.

Baird_Desk 2A.jpgThe very colorful picture leaning against the wall is a wax art piece created by my son, and the larger black & white drawing is one my husband made in high school.

The second thing to know is that the image above is missing its usual occupant, which is the family cat, Katara (named after the Water Tribe girl from the Avatar cartoon series). Next to her is the one thing I always have on my desk, which is a picture of my husband sticking his tongue out at the camera (in the heart frame). It is a reminder not to take myself too seriously.

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

I am reading The Atlantis Gene, by A.G. Riddle. I’ve recently bought or downloaded a bunch of different fantasy/scifi/horror e-books on Amazon at different price points to see what the quality of each price point is. This one is pretty good – I will definitely finish it.

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 ipal@rmfw.org 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 ipal@rmfw.org.

RMFW IPAL Yahoo! Group Membership: Please send a blank email to: rmfwIPAL-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. 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 ipal@rmfw.org 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 ipal@rmfw.org.

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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)..

 

RMFW Spotlight on Shannon Baker, Treasurer

The RMFW Spotlight feature will introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We started out with the board of directors, sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions. This week, we’ve interrogated our Treasurer, Shannon Baker. I must say, Shannon didn’t squirm one bit. She sets a powerful example for volunteerism within our organization from a distance and while on the move.

Shannon Baker scuba1. Shannon, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

Back before the dawn of time I lived in western Nebraska and I had thoughts of publishing novels. I certainly read plenty of them so writing one couldn’t be too difficult. And it wasn’t. I wrote two and thought the second was pretty darned good. I looked for the closest conference around so I could present it to an agent who would gratefully take it to New York. (Quit laughing.) It didn’t work out that way.

I discovered how little I knew about writing but thankfully, found a home with RMFW. The support and knowledge and camaraderie drew me. I hadn’t found anything like it in Nebraska. I was hooked. I volunteered to coordinate agent/editor appointments for conference and did that for nine years. Then I worked as registrar for three years. Finally, by that time I was living in Colorado, I joined the board and serve as treasurer.

In October, we moved to Nebraska. (again). It’s not that far to commute to Denver to participate in RMFW events and I intend to stay as involved as possible. I’m stone cold sober when I say this (I really haven’t been drinking or I’d be a lot more sentimental), I really love these guys and want to hang out with them as much as possible.

Baker_TaintedMountain2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

The first book in the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, Tainted Mountain, was released by Midnight Ink in March 2013. The second, Broken Trust, which is set in Boulder, is slated for a March 2014 release and I just sent Book 3 to my editor. It should be out in 2015.

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 just got back from a sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands, which crosses that off my list. But I’d dearly love to go on a live-aboard diving trip someplace sunny and warm with incredible reefs. I’m thinking next year. Other than that, my wish is to not have to move again for a year or so and pound out a couple of books.

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

I am just not smart or clever enough. It takes me way too long to work out plot twists and come up with new and exciting scenes. I read amazing books that are surprising and perfect and I wish I didn’t struggle so much with plot. I could probably use some of those brain cells that evaporated in happy hour fumes.

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

I love writers. There have been times in my life when I would have given up writing. You know, when real life gets pretty rocky and you need to concentrate on trimming the sails and setting the tack. It would have been easy to let the writing go, because, you know, writing is hard work. But if I quit, I’d lose touch with the writers I love and I wouldn’t meet new writers. The people have tethered me to this crazy business.

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

First and above all else, write. Every day if you can, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. Everyone says it and it’s true. So I’m going to give you another piece: trust the process. In every book, with every writer (I’m sure there is an exception but they are so rare it is okay to generalize) there comes a point when it seems hopeless. The book is a mess, you can’t possibly salvage it, you might as well give up writing and take salsa lessons. Even the best, most successful writers experience this. So expect it, accept it, and keep writing. It will all work out.

Baker_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 haven’t had a desk for years. We keep moving (I’ve said this, haven’t I?) and we end up in tiny houses. I write on a laptop and it gets hefted from here to there. I write on the couch, the kitchen table, the bed, outside, if the weather is nice.

I plot on an Excel spreadsheet and print it out, cut it into strips and pin it to a cork board and that’s usually stashed behind the couch and pulled out when I need it.

I rigged up a standing desk by plopping a boot box on a pub table and stand there a lot. I don’t have any special items. I usually just write hell-bent on accumulating my word count quota so I can quit for the day.

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

I’m reading the Longmire series and loving it. I’m also reading a bunch of new adult novels to get a feel for the genre. I’m itching to read fellow RMFW writer, Susan Spann’s new release Claws of the Cat, but I need to unpack a few more boxes before I indulge.

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Thank you so much for answering our questions. Shannon. I hope we didn’t keep you from your writing (and moving and unpacking) too long.

To learn more about Shannon and her novels, visit her website. She can also be found on Facebook.

RMFW Spotlight: Bree Ervin

The RMFW Spotlight feature will introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We started out with the board of directors, sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions. Here’s what we learned from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Membership Chair, Bree Ervin.

Bree Ervin1. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I’m the Membership Chair for RMFW. Mostly it means I help people login to the website and renew/join (Sorry – it’ll get better, I swear!). I’m hoping that as we get the website working better – yes, really, I’ll be able to spend more time reaching out to members new and old and talking about what you all want from a modern RMFW.

I got involved because I have had so many great experiences with RMFW and I am a big fat geek who LOVES to share the things I love. The best way for me to do that was to become membership chair so that I could reach out to others and share the awesome organization that is RMFW.

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

I have a couple of works in progress. I tend to bounce around a lot. My kids have told me it’s time to start shopping my picture books again and I have a YA that is in its last round of revisions before I start shopping it. I’m also working on a middle grade fantasy and some non-fiction.

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?

The most immediate item on the list is a trip to Paris with my girlgoyels. I’ve promised them a trip and now I have to make good on it.

I also want to sail around the world, but I have to wait until my husband dies because he freaks out when he can’t see land. The upside of that is I’ll probably get to claim the record for the oldest person to sail around the world. So good things come to those who wait, I guess.

Writer at Work4. Most writers have an Achilles heel with their writing. Confess, what’s yours?

Revising. I actually love revising. I’m an editor in my day job, so that kind of work excites me. BUT… I have a hard time motivating to revise my own work. There’s a huge part of me that’s like, “Okay, I finished that story, I know how it ends, moving on…” I have to really struggle to get my butt back in the chair to make it better and make it publishable once the joy of discovery is gone. I need to find a way to flip the switch on that and convince myself that there is still more to discover in the story and in the characters. (And it’s true, every revision reveals a new layer, a missed detail, another key that goes deeper into the heart of the story.)

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

I’ve always been a story teller. My first sentence was a carefully crafted “lie.” I love creating new people, new worlds and new spaces in this world. I love connecting the dots and showing people new ways of seeing old things.

One of my college professors said (speaking about scientists), “The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what no one has thought about that which everybody sees.” I think that holds doubly true for writers, and artists in general – and that is the real pleasure of writing for me, taking what everyone sees and knows to be true, and then showing the other side. (For the record, I have had that quote taped above my desk as a reminder ever since.)

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

Take yourself seriously. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you that you’re a writer, or give you permission to call yourself a writer – that doesn’t come from anyone else, that’s inside you. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you how to be a writer – their process is theirs. Trust your own way. And always, always, always, write your heart.

Cat on desk7. 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 a bit of a wanderer. My desk is a hot mess, so if the weather is nice I take my laptop out to my tipi. If it’s cold, I’ll work at the breakfast bar – close to the tea kettle! Really, where ever my laptop is, that’s my desk. Except when I write on my phone. Or in a notebook. Hmm… Can I take a picture of my brain – that’s where the stories live, that’s where the work gets done.

It helps when the kitten sits on my lap because she won’t let me get up, even to pee, until I get at least 1,000 words down. It’s like she has a magic way of keeping track of my word count. 1,000 and it’s time to stretch. Then the big cat takes a turn. She’s pretty demanding too.

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

For pleasure I’m reading Asphalt Warrior by Gary Reilly (published posthumously with help from RMFW president Mark Stevens.) It’s a fabulous, humorous, spot on commentary on humanity from the point of view of a Denver cab driver.

For research I’m reading Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape Ed. by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti which is an amazing collection of essays, articles and calls to action. I fall asleep so empowered after reading it. (But hard to read in public, lots of alternating between crying and jumping up shouting “YES!” at inappropriate times.)

My kids and I are reading Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley, which is a really fun middle grade spy novel, sort of Da Vinci Code for kids. The first book in the series was set in Paris, this one is set in DC. We just started it, but we love this author.

Here’s a picture of my “read next” shelves. Top shelf is research, bottom shelf is pleasure. (There are two more large shelves of unread books off screen, but these are the priority cases!)

To Be Read

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Cat on high
This is Bree’s tipi and a cat on a hot tipi roof. Or something like that.

Thanks for sharing with us, Bree. I’m happy to hear I’m not the only one whose writing life is scheduled by her cat.

You can cyber-stalk Bree on Twitter and Facebook. Anyone who wants to get ranty with her is invited to stop by her blog Think Banned Thoughts. And, Bree adds, if you’re having trouble logging in to the website, drop her a note at membership@rmfw.org.

RMFW Spotlight: Mark Stevens

The new RMFW Spotlight feature will introduce a few of our RMFW officers and volunteers. We started out with the first three members of the board of directors, sat them in the hot seat, shined the bright light on them, and channeling our best inner Oprah, plugged them with a few questions. Here’s what we learned from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers President, Mark Stevens.

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

I’m currently president, at least for a few more months. I’m involved for one reason only: I love this organization. I’d be at home staring at blank sheets of paper and walking around the room in a useless daze if it weren’t for RMFW.

Stevens_Two Covers2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

The third book in the Allison Coil Mystery Series, Trapline, is with Midnight Ink and they plan to publish it next fall. They also asked for a fourth book. Well, they did more than ask, they gave me a contract so that’s my WIP. The first two books, Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan, are available pretty much everywhere books are sold.

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 would love to spend a few weeks in New Zealand and Australia. Oh, and to make my way around Scandinavia. And Eastern Europe. And China. And certain parts of Southern Africa. I wouldn’t mind a sailing trip around the Caribbean, either. You asked!

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

Ugh. That’s easy. Action scenes. I think I’m doing somewhat okay and then I go back to read the draft and those sections are usually downright awful. I miss my late friend Gary Reilly, who was an excellent editor and really knew how to pull these off.

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

What happens on the page…how ideas and story directions develop when you’re least expecting it. You’re innocently doing something else and then some idea pops into your head and you think: “that could work.” It’s the surprise factor. I live for those jolts that come out of the blue.

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

Simple: write more, write more, write more. Get more feedback and then write some more. And read a ton, too.

Stevens_Desk
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 write by hand. My desk is the dining room table. I keep a watch handy to keep me focused. I give myself 45 minutes to an hour each morning.

 

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

Just finished Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Now reading The Cut by George Pelecanos.

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Mark, thanks so much for participating in our Q&A. Julie, you can switch the light off now. Mark has left the building.

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