The RMFW Spotlight is on Scott Brendel, Editor/Agent Critique Coordinator

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 two spotlights, especially in honor of the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver on September 9-11, 2016. Today we're featuring Scott Brendel, and on Monday, our conference chair Corinne O'Flynn.

2016_Scott Brendel1. Scott, welcome to the RMFW Blog Spotlight. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

For the past few years, I have coordinated the editor/agent critique workshops held during the Colorado Gold conference. I also help run one of RMFW's critique groups. At various times over the years, I have helped judge the contest, was the Education chair, and served for two years as President. Many people in RMFW have been enormously helpful to me in ways I can't begin to describe and volunteering has been one way to try to pay that back.

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

Last summer, my short story, entitled "Threesome," was published in a literary 'zine called Cactus Heart (http://www.cactusheartpress.com/e-issue-16/e-issue-12/). It's about two estranged brothers who meet on a golf course to carry out their father’s final wishes.

I recently finished a new novel called Just Beyond the Light, in time to pitch it at ThrillerFest. It's set in the late 1970s in the mid-South where I spent time after college. A young woman—a dancer—living in a boarding house ends up in a coma after her wrists are slashed. Her brother (a petty criminal on the run) and a detective mourning the death of his young son try to determine if it was attempted suicide or attempted murder.

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?

Here's one I actually fulfilled. I wanted to go with my father to visit Egypt. Unfortunately, our trip was cancelled after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Years later, we finally made the trip, this time with my sister, mother and our spouses.

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

I get carried away with description. As one of my critique partners says, "Tell us what the building looks like. We don't need a treatise on its architecture."

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

The unexpected things I discover in the course of writing the first draft and the sense of satisfaction when I finally get to the end of the story.

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

Take the plunge and join a critique group. I toiled in isolation for too long before putting my work in front of the kind of people who could help me the most.

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?

It's cluttered with unpaid bills and scraps of paper with story notes. My desk faces a wall with built-in book shelves that remind me of the end goal. And a nine-inch figure of a troll that I picked up in Sweden many years ago watches me while I write.

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

Everybody's Fool, by Richard Russo, who I met at a Tattered Cover reading over twenty years ago. He's a fellow, former upstate New Yorker. An incredibly talented writer with a gift for capturing the humor of hapless but earnest small town folks who struggle their way through life.

Thank you, Scott. Your work with the agent/editor critique workshops for Colorado Gold is most appreciated. There are quite a few of us who found agents or editors through our participation in those sessions.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Angela La Voie, Volunteer Coordinator

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 Volunteer Coordinator, Angela La Voie.

2016_Angela La Voie_Headshot_cropped1. Welcome to the blog, Angela. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am the Volunteer Coordinator for RMFW and Colorado Gold. The people in RMFW were so welcoming when I joined. I’d like to help create that same experience for members wishing to share their time and talents with the organization.

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

I’m working on the rewrite of a novel set during the Korean War.

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’ve done several big ones on my list, including climbing a fourteener, completing a sprint-distance triathlon and two half-marathons, even flying in a small aircraft and steering the plane (briefly!). There’s much to be said for achievements. I value the quieter things, too. On a recent visit with my niece, she was asking me questions about my wedding. She was eight at the time and doesn’t remember much even though she was in the wedding party. She’s a teenager now, an aspiring writer, and an Anglophile. She wants to become a tea drinker and lamented that she didn’t remember the high-tea bridal shower at the Brown Palace Hotel (She’s not your typical teen!). I’d love to take her there for high tea. That would involve a cross-country trip for both of us, but it would make for a fun memory.

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

Learning to trust my instincts about my process has taken time. I tend to draft with a lot of summary to put a footprint in place with as much of the territory that I can see. These sketches let me slow down and have patience to work through the discovery process, the imagery, and the music of the language. As I rewrite, I both layer in detail and strip out everything that rings false. I fought against these tendencies until I learned to allow myself a crummy first draft that’s for me alone to guide my work.

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

I most enjoy the opportunity to continue to evolve—to try new things and dig in deeper.

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

I would tell myself to have faith that all life experiences connect. Journalism taught me how to publish on a daily deadline. Business taught me about marketing, business development, and project management. Although seemingly extraneous to writing, these skills are important to authors today.

2016_AngelaLa Voie_Writing Room7. 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 desk is handcrafted from natural cherry in a simple Shaker style. The color of the wood reminds me of the tropics. My desktop is a rotating gallery of objects that inspire me. Right now, I have some hydrangeas from my garden, a tiny watercolor calendar, a glass bird a friend gave me, and a photo of my husband and me. My mousepad has a collage of family photos. The extension table is stacked with research and drafts of my novel. I’m in the process of piecing together the sections. As long as I have coffee in the morning and a refilled water glass throughout the day, I can work.

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

I just started reading What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan.

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Learn more about Angela and her work at her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Shining the RMFW Spotlight on Kevin Paul Tracy

KevinPaulTracy HeadShot1. Kevin, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I am a regular contributor to the RMFW Blog and I host a critique group called Dynamic Critique which isn't exactly RMFW sanctioned, but we are all RMFW members. At one time or another I have been Critique Chair, Webmaster, Anthology Chair ("Tales From Mistwillow",) Gold Contest judge, and critique group moderator. It's entirely likely I've forgotten one. Sometimes I held these positions simultaneously.

I've been actively involved in RMFW for a couple of reasons. First, I am a steadfast advocate of the truism, "You get out of it what you put in." That applies to everything, especially life in general, but for our discussion here, particularly to RMFW. I have learned more by being an active volunteer for the organization than I would ever have learned merely attending workshops and conferences. I've met more people and made more friends, and I've gotten more personal and professional exposure, too.

The other reason is that, as a near-charter member of RMFW, I love the organization like family. I have a vested interest in seeing it continue to thrive and provide its unique services to the local writing community.

Oh, and the Golden Nugget awards are neat, too.

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

I have three current works in progress. By the time this article posts my latest thriller, Presence of Malice, will have dropped and will have made quite a splash. It's about a hired killer, an ex-Navy SEAL who may or may not have been driven mad by eight years of torture in a Chinese prison; two plastic surgeons who used to be friends and partners now at each other's throats; and an unlikely romance between an earnest young woman and a paraplegic hacker, both caught in the cross fire of a conflict turned bloody

I'm also currently working on a sequel to my most popular Thriller, Rogue Agenda, and a third in my Kathryn Desmarais vampire decology (10 books.) All of these books are/will be available anywhere books are sold, or you can email me for a signed copy.

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 see one of my books made into a movie. I just think that'd be so cool!

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

That's a hard one. I would say it's that I love happy endings, except not all my books have one, not to mention that I know many who don't view that as a flaw. I might also say that I love over-the-top action which many people think stretches credulity, but I'm told by readers that's one of the things they like most about my books.

I supposed my great vulnerability as a writer is my self-confidence. I've already written about how I grew up being told I could never make it as a writer. My self-confidence is way too fragile. An editor's rejection, a bad review on Amazon or GoodReads, these things can send me into a tailspin of self-doubt that can actually make it hard to keep writing. But I've powered through and I must say the success I've experienced has gone a long way toward shoring up my confidence against future pokes and jabs.

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

In writing, I can make reality work the way I think it should. In a thriller, you can't change the laws of physics, and if you introduce a little fringe science it better be rooted in enough actual science to not totally insult your readers. But what I mean is, in the world I write in, bad guys lose and good guys win. Maybe not right away, certainly not without plenty of obstacles and setbacks along the way. And victory may even cost the good guy something by the end, sometimes something dear enough to leave the reader wondering if that sacrifice was worth it. Still, I get to leave readers with a fulfilling and satisfying end to a story, the kind of closure we almost never get in real life.

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

Easy: Never give up. Write and write and write, and completely shut out the doubts and the setbacks. In my opinion the only difference between success and failure is where you give up. If you give up after a setback, then you failed at being a writer. But if you never give up, then you never fail, you only continue to grow and learn. And when has personal growth and acquired knowledge not led to success, eventually?

Kevin Paul Tracy workspace7. What does your desk look like? What item must be on your desk? Do you have any personal, fun items you keep on it?

Right now my work area is constrained by space - I am taking my familial turn caring for a disabled relative. My computer occupies a folding TV tray in a bedroom not much larger than most storage sheds. I have all my reference materials close at hand, but none of my usual inspirations or comfort items. Usually (and again very soon) my desk is designed to fit facing into a corner, to shut out distractions. I have paintings and posters on the wall I find inspiring, some of which might seem rather non-sequitur to an outsider. For example the picture of a beautiful woman, bare leg exposed through a hip-length tear in her long skirt, hand out as a majestic white unicorn eats from it. Why does a thriller writer find inspiration from a page torn from a fantasy calendar? It's hard to describe, but I love how real the painter makes a scene of pure fantasy look and feel. It reminds me that a writer's job is to make a story about something that never happened feel real to readers.

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

Most recently, out of some sudden nostalgic impulse, I've gone back to reread some of the books and novels that inspired me as a young writer: Lord of The Rings, Dracula, anything by Stephen King. Right now I'm rereading Ian Fleming's James Bond series. They are flawed and dated, but fun to revisit.

The RMFW Spotlight is Shining on Volunteer Julie Kazimer

JAKazimer1. Welcome to the RMFW Spotlight series, Julie. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I don’t do nearly as much as others do, nor do I feel like I do enough, so thank you, Pat, for asking me to answer these very intrusive questions about myself. I do a couple of things, semi-regular. I co-edit this here blog with the awesomeness that is Pat Stoltey, as well as blog twice a month (the hardest part of my volunteering, for sure). I also was lucky enough to review workshop proposals for the upcoming conference. I have to say, damn, we have a brilliant group of faculty. Even those proposals not picked were above and beyond. I wish we had more time slots. Let’s see, I also have judged the CO Gold contest, and taught a handful of times, both at conference and for the Western Slope (a great group headed by the fabulous Terri Benson, also one of our bloggers). As to why I’m involved, that’s easy; I owe my current career to RMFW. No other way to say it. My first book deal came directly from a workshop at the conference in 2010. For better or worse, RMFW is to blame for my writing. Yep, full blame to RMFW!

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

My current WIP is a romance series about service dogs. Completely different from anything I’ve written before. As in it plays on emotions, where my other books are more suspense or humor focused. Yeah, I wake up in a cold sweat even thinking about it. As for my most recent publications, I have the 2nd book in my Assassin’s Series, The Assassin’s Kiss and a prequel novella, The Assassins’ First Date, coming out in August and July. You can buy any of my stuff or stalk me on amazon. You can also purchase most of my stuff at any other online retailer or sometimes a bookstore (for those youngins: a bookstore is a physical place you can by books. Yes, books actually come in paper. Weird, I know).

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?

Damn great question. I’d love to be a keynote for RMFW when I become rich and famous. Come back, and thank all the little people. And since I stand barely over 5 feet, little is hard to find.

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

I think I did above, but I say it again, I have a terrible time with ‘real’ emotion. I don’t do deep. In-depth gives me hives. I would rather kill a million characters than write an emotional scene. Ick.

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

The power and fame. People bow and scrape for me. Set down rose petals at my feet as I walk. Yeah, right. My favorite thing about writing is the magic that runs from fingers to keyboard. It’s not a conscious thing for me. I just type and it flows. I don’t think (which you probably guessed already).

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

Great question. I am actually teaching a workshop at the conference (No, I didn’t select my own. That would be cheating) about 25 things I learned going from pre-published to multi-published. Most of all, I’d tell myself, it’s going to be a roller coaster, one that I won’t want off of, but to keep in mind the greatest climb has a subsequent fall. Ride it for the sheer joy.

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 don’t have a desk. I mean, I do at work, but that’s a boring 9-5 desk. I write on my lap, often with a cat, and two dogs vying for the space. FYI, the cat almost always wins, much to the sausage-like pup’s dismay.

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

I am reading so many at once, and yet, not one currently as I don’t read while I’m writing so I don’t mimic voice. What I last read is, When Good Angels Go Bad by Audrey Brice, which is the pen name of our very own, Stephanie Connolly Reisner. She’s a hell of a writer.

Thanks for having me, Pat. It’s been fun!

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J.A. (Julie) Kazimer kills and kisses people for a living, be it a bad guy who deserved it or an arrogant frog prince who didn’t. Find her online at her website (jakazimer.com) or on Facebook, much, much too often. She can also be found on Twitter. If you go here, you can sign up for her Readers’ Group (Newsletter) and get a free book or two.

Julie's best friend shot this photo.2016_Spotlight_Julie Kazimer

 

Why, you ask? It’s a picture of the Denver Post, found as is, with her first ever review in the Post, for Froggy Style. A great review, BTW, by the incredible Tom Schantz.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Wendy Terrien, Secretary

2016_Wendy Terrien1. Welcome to the blog, Wendy. Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

First and foremost, I am the bag lady!  I don’t push a shopping cart around town, but I do coordinate the swag bags for Colorado Gold. I also serve on the workshop committee (which is a tough job—we get so many great workshop proposals!), and I recently became the new Secretary for RMFW.

Being involved with RMFW beyond membership is an excellent way to give back to an organization that has given me so much, not least of which is the strong network of writing mentors and friends. The support system is genuine and solid, and it’s made a huge difference in my writing journey. I’m happy to do what I can for the organization, and for fellow writing friends, old and new.

2016_Terrien_Rampart Guards2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

My debut novel, The Rampart Guards, launched on February 26, 2016. I’m thrilled with how it’s done so far. The novel received a starred review from Kirkus (AAAHHH!) and the editors at Kirkus Reviews chose it to be an Indie Book of the Month in April. It’s been an amazing ride.

The Rampart Guards is available at Amazon, as well as Tattered Cover and BookBar. And it can be ordered through any bookstore.

I’m also part of Wicked Ink Books, which consists of me and fellow RMFW members Becky Taylor, Corinne O’Flynn, Sue Duff aka Sue Loeffler, Aimee Henley, Shawn McGuire, and Kristi Helvig. We just published our first anthology, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time. It’s available at Amazon, and we just signed a contract to have it published in Turkey—very exciting!

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?

Publishing The Rampart Guards was one of those and I’m proud of that achievement. Now I’d love to see it, and the rest of the series, build on the initial success and take it to the next level. I envision seeing it made into a movie—wouldn’t that be fun? And I’d of course invite all RMFW members to the premiere.

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

Procrastination. Am I the only writer in RMFW who suffers from that? I read about all these diligent writers we have, who do things like get up at 4AM every day and write for several hours without fail. That’s so not me. I find chunks of time when I can write (not a set schedule), but then I’ll pay bills or do laundry first, telling myself I won’t be able to focus if those other things aren’t finished. There may be some truth to that, but it drives me crazy sometimes because I do want to be writing. I guess that’s my tortured artist bit—LOL.

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

The magic. I love how the characters come to life and direct the story themselves, so much so that it feels like I’m merely the typist. And I love how a scene I’ve written can still get to me like I’m reading it for the first time. And it all makes my mind function and think in a different, exhilarating way. It’s fantastic.

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

Stay focused and know you’re on the right track. There is much to learn, and much work to be done, but keep going, keep learning, believe you can do this. We all suffer from that inner voice that tries to pull us down--don’t give into the negative thoughts. Embrace and leverage the excellent resources around you.

2016_Terrien_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 have a sit-stand desk that I love, and I always have at least one pup nearby (we have three dogs—all rescues), which I also love.

I have the word Dream on my desk, followed by a quote from Walt Disney: All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. I remember when I first put that on my desk, the idea of writing a novel was so far away I could barely imagine it. But here I am.

I also have a trophy I won in 8th grade for first place in an essay-writing contest. It makes me smile, and it reminds me that I can be successful if I work hard (and I did work hard on that essay, with much thanks to my English teacher at the time, Mr. Williams). It also reminds me how important it is to ask for and accept feedback on your writing.

And I always have a glass of water—I drink plenty-o-water, and I hope everyone else out there does as well.

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

I’m reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and I’m really enjoying it, though I wish I had more time to spend with it. I need to put reading at the top of my list when the procrastination-bug strikes. That’d be way more fun that paying bills.

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You can learn more about Wendy and her work at her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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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:
Website: http://janetfogg.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janet.fogg
359th Fighter Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/359th-Fighter-Group-1943-1945-120987634620533/
Sisters of the Quill blog: http://sistersofthequill.blogspot.com/
Fogg in the Cockpit blog: http://fogginthecockpit.blogspot.com/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in//janet-fogg-1926ab15?trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile/
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr_VsnUy2kCSZJwUeYli5Sw

The RMFW Spotlight is on Sheri Duff-Merz, Programs Chair

2015_Sheri Duff-Merz1. Welcome, Sheri! Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I’m the Programs Chair for RMFW. I have been a member since 2011 and last year I felt it was time to give back to the organization. I answered an email when Mark Stevens was looking for someone to take over Programs so that he could run Podcasts. He made it easy by making sure most of the programs were scheduled for the year. I love attending the free monthly sessions and it has been fun setting them up. It gives me a chance to meet more of my peeps. I’m always open to new ideas so if you have one, drop me an email (denverprograms@rmfw.org). I want to make sure that the free programs are a benefit to our members and that we are representing many different aspects of writing in various fiction genres.

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

In March I self-published my YA novel, Rule #9. It is a story about a girl in high school who struggles with her new blended family. It is available on Amazon.

My current work in progress is about a girl who is trying to cope with the loss of her mother who ran off and joined a religious cult.

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 don’t really have a bucket list. I want to go to New Orleans and I would love to go to England but I would also be content staying in the state of Colorado for the rest of my life. My dream is that one day I will spot a teenager reading one of my stories.

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

I love words like, “just “and all of the boring verbs. I use them all in my first draft. I keep a list to go back and take these out during the editing process. I know it would “just” be easier to keep them out to begin with but for me it is “just” easier to write and then fix later.

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

I’m a daydreamer. Writing gives me a way to dream on paper. It gives me a way to make my characters real and I can converse with them. And I love hanging out with other writers because they know I’m crazy and they still accept me.

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

Don’t send crazy stupid letters to agents. Instead, “Just write” and go to conferences and don’t wait so long to join a critique group. And read, read, and read more. Read in your genre and outside of your genre. And don’t be afraid to talk to other writers. People are either nice or they are not. Make friends with nice people and ignore the rest. Then remember that writers are also shy just like the part of you that hides. Make sure to talk to them before you pass judgment.

2015_Duff-Merz_workspace7. 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 desk is an old oak kitchen table that I bought at Goodwill and painted turquoise and black. I love it. It’s big and has no drawers. When I look into the room the people who I love the most surround me in frames along with my favorite paintings hanging on the wall. When I sit in my chair behind my desk, my focus is the computer unless one of the three dogs starts clawing at me, wanting my attention. My favorite item on my desk is a poem my grandpa cut out of who knows what and put in a frame.

Never say “Die.” Say “Damn!”- It isn’t classic, It may be profane. But we mortals have need of it, Time and again; And you’ll find you’ll recover from Fate’s hardest slam, you never say “Die”—say “Damn!”

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

I am currently listening to The Future of Us by Jay Asher on CD during my commute to my paying job, and I’m reading The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins.

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Sheri Duff lives in Parker Colorado with her ultra amazing supportive husband and too many dogs. She also has two adult children who are her world. Learn more about Sheri and her work at her website. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Rene’ Zimbelman, Publicity Chair

Now that we have so many new members of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Board of Directors, we'll once again be featuring the RMFW Spotlight on the blog. Our goal is to introduce our board members to all our readers and encourage other RMFW members to offer their time and energy to this energetic and growing community of writers.

2015_Rene Zimbelman1. Rene', Tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I spearhead PR for RMFW. I’m passionate about RMFW because it’s important for writers to have a supportive community where we can meet other writers and obtain valuable insight to the craft.

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

My debut novel, Mizerably Happy, is finished, aside from a last round of edits for formatting, etc. I plan to query agents mid-October. Further information can be found on my website (My pen name is Rene’ Collier).

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?

Well, of course I want the right agent and for Mizerably Happy to be traditionally published in the near future! 😉

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

Spending too much time editing before getting to the end. With my sophomore effort, I plan to outline and write until I finish it, THEN go back and do more technical edits.

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

I love how an idea can be shaped and polished into a scene, then story. I also love the therapeutic and independent nature of the work.

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

I would say stick with the genre you’re comfortable with and keep your story within that framework. If you receive criticism on your work, take into consideration the other person may not read your genre, and don’t change your work just because it doesn’t meet someone else’s expectations.

2015_Zimbelman 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?

My desk is white, with a Nantucket feel, and it sits in front of a window. I have a few pictures, along with a vase full of flowers and deocorative book that says BE BRAVE and FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, from which a fairy dangles on a chain.

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

I’m reading Contrition by Maura Weiler, an author on the PAL panel this year at RMFW GOLD. I highly recommend it! Also reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and I just finished Carry On Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton, who is entertainly funny and insightful. Next on my list is Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

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Mizerably Happy is Rene' Zimbelman's first novel. Writing has always been in her blood, whether it be song lyrics, journal entries, poetry or short stories. She was born in Boulder and received her degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado. Rene' enjoyed writing website and promotional copy for a cable television network in Los Angeles, but ached to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write a novel.

Currently, she live in Centennial, Colorado, with her husband, two boys and Jack Russell. They are endlessly patient as she delves into her untitled sophomore effort.

You can find out more about Rene' and her writing at her website and her blog. She can also be found on Twitter.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Lisa Manifold, Newsletter Editor

Now that we have so many new members of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Board of Directors, we'll once again be featuring the RMFW Spotlight on the blog. Our goal is to introduce our board members to all our readers and encourage other RMFW members to offer their time and energy to this energetic and growing community of writers.

2015_Lisa ManifoldToday the spotlight is on Lisa Manifold, author of the Sisters Of The Curse series

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

I am the Newsletter Editor. Prior to this, I was the Hospitality Chair. I got involved with RMFW because my writing, and my thoughts on how to be a writer, and be successful, changed for the better due to joining RMFW. I wanted to give something back to the organization that helped me so much.

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

I recently released Thea’s Tale, which is Book One in my Sisters Of The Curse series. By the end of August, I’ll have a novella, One Night At The Ball, and Book Two, Casimir’s Journey, in the same series available. I’m working on finishing up both projects right now. They are all available on Amazon digitally and in paperback.

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?

That’s a hard one to narrow down. There’s so much I want to do still. My kids are getting older, so a great deal of it involves them. Sail in the Caribbean is one, because I love sailing. It’s the thing I miss most about being in a landlocked state.

2015_Manifold_Thea'sTale4. Most writers have an Achilles heel with their writing. Confess, what's yours?

Mine would be distractions. I have to force myself off my social media, my checking of reports, marketing, reading and research paths when I’m writing. Otherwise, I get involved in something and look up and the morning is gone. It’s amazing how attuned we are to checking our media.

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

The ability to create. I love being creative, of getting an idea and sitting down at my keyboard and beginning to flesh it out. I also enjoy being my own CEO. Being able to write as your career is a gift.

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

Finish. The. Book. Nothing else can happen until then. I’m an obsessed researcher. Before I embark on something, I read about it, and find out as much about it, whatever it is, as I can. If you’re going to focus on writing full time, it’s easy to get distracted by the ways and means of doing so. But until you finish the book, nothing else can happen.

Also, start a mailing list. Even before you finish the book.

Manifold-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?

My computer is in an old computer cabinet. We got it years ago to keep our toddlers away from our electronics. But I have a comfy chair, and it’s in a quiet area of the house. I actually don’t need anything other than a sticky notepad, my latest stuff from my critique group, earbuds, and pen/pencil. That’s it. Anything else, and I start to feel cluttered.

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

I’m bouncing between two right now, because I read when I have a little down time. The first is 5000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox, and Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker.

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Lisa Manifold lives in the amazing state of Colorado. She shares her life with her husband, two children, two dogs, and one offended cat. She enjoys skiing and she adores "treasure hunting" at local thrift stores. Her other hobbies include costuming within her favorite fandoms and periods. Her family calls her 'the cruise director' in homage, of course, to a woefully under-appreciated skill.

Latest Release: Thea’s Tale, Book One of the Sisters Of The Curse series. You can learn more about Lisa at her website and Amazon author page. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

The RMFW Spotlight is on Pamela Nowak, President

Now that we have so many new members of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Board of Directors, we'll once again be featuring the RMFW Spotlight on the blog. Our goal is to introduce our board members to all our readers and encourage other RMFW members to offer their time and energy to this energetic and growing community of writers.

This month we've put the spotlight on President Pamela Nowak. Read on and see if you learn anything about Pam you didn't already know.

PamNowak1. Pam, tell us what you do for RMFW and why you are involved.

I currently serve as President. My official role is to conduct board meetings, manage RMFW business as it comes up between meetings and sign any legal documents. What that actually means is I also serve on a variety of sub-committees including conference, contest and most special committees, I monitor all on-line discussion of the board and manage as needed, I answer questions regarding official policies and procedures, and I look out for the good of the entire organization and its members. When voting or directing action, I must look beyond my personal reaction and see the potential impact on all of RMFW. I am a negotiator, a manager, and a behind the scenes busy-body.

As to why I’m involved…pure and simple, because I believe in and owe so much to RMFW. RMFW supported me in my craft development and nurtured me when I needed it. After years of attending critique group and conference, I moved to Denver and someone (Scott Brendel) asked me to take on an active volunteer role. Of course, one thing led to another.

But being involved has enriched me tremendously on so many levels. It has allowed me to put my non-writing skills (thus keeping them active) to use and to give back to RMFW in a very rewarding way. What makes doing this with RMFW uniquely special, is all the other dedicated and talented writers and volunteers. Everyone gets to contribute, no one takes on the load alone, and everyone recognizes what others do. Few organizations have this quality and thus, I can’t see myself not being involved with RMFW.

2015_Nowak_cover2. What is your current WIP or most recent publication, and where can we buy a book, if available?

My fourth book, Escaping Yesterday, will be released in September. The book is set in 1905 Elitch Gardens and has deeply conflicted characters with a bit of humor, romance, and a great setting tossed in to lighten their journeys as they cope with trust, incest survival, and PTSD. Thus far, I’ve received three major reviews and they are all positive. I hope to have the book in time for conference but also have several signings set for October including an October 9 launch at Tattered Cover Colfax and an October 24 party at BookBar to raise funds for the historic Elitch Theatre. The book will be available at all Tattered Cover locations, Boulder Books, Who Else Books, BookBar, and several smaller stores as well as via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

My 2013 release, Changes, was a Colorado Book Award recipient and is available at Who Else Books, Tattered Cover, or Barnes and Noble or can be ordered via Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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?

Becoming a NYTimes best-seller, of course! More easily reachable items are continued travel and finding joy within each and every day.

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

Allowing myself to take on too many volunteer roles (RMFW and others) and devoting my time to them and not to writing. In other words, NOT writing every day.

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

Getting feedback from readers. I love hearing that my stories made someone cry or kept them up until 3:00 a.m. or made them late for work.

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

Don’t resist growth. Learn from critique group, even when it’s painful. Stay on task. Practice, practice, practice.

2015_Nowak_office2015_Nowak_workspace 27. 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 desk is an organized mess. I have stacks of things I am working on (on my desk and on the floor) and reference books on the bookshelves. The stacks look like piles of mish-mash but I can tell you what is in each and every one of them and how far down each item is located. I also have a TO DO list and inspiring quotes. Above my desk, a few items to warm me, such as cards and gifts; nearby, where I can see them—my awards. Two special items are my Angel of Knowledge who holds a book with “writings” and “special words” on its pages and my Angel of Change releasing happiness from her hands. And lots of clutter.

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

I am currently reading The Bootlegger’s Daughter by Lauri Robinson and finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee a couple days ago. Since I read two to three books a week, I’ll be on to something else soon!

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2015_Nowak_candidPamela Nowak writes award-winning historical romance. She has a B.A. in history and, prior to becoming a full-time author, she taught history to prison inmates, served as project manager for the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and ran a homeless shelter. Her novel, Changes, received the 2014 Colorado Book Award for genre fiction and a HOLT Medallion Finalist Award. Previous honors include the HOLT Medallion and HOLT Medallion Finalist Award, a WILLA Finalist Award, a listing among the "Top Ten Romance Novels of 2008" by Booklist, and being named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2010 Writer of the Year. Please visit her at her website, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter (@ReadPamelaNowak).