Tag Archives: RMFW

Being in Community with Other Writers

By Pamela Nowak

In the twenty years I’ve been writing (well… writing with publication as a goal), there are two things that I’ve come to learn are vital:  learning craft and being in community. Since many of us often talk about craft in our blogs, I thought I’d talk about community and how important it is to the writer.

Writing is a solitary task. We sit down at our keyboards and immerse ourselves in the worlds within our minds. We write in our pajamas, our hair a mess, not seeing anyone all day long. At times, we emerge from a muse-inspired streak amazed that hours have passed. Sometimes, we tweet or update our Facebook status to brag about our frenzied, pajama adventure.

But we’re still alone.

Oh, but when we get a Like or a Comment or someone tweets back, something happens—a gooey warmth because we realize we aren’t alone in our solitary task.

When it comes down to it, those times when we discover others do exactly the same thing, we feel a sense of belonging that buoys us up and gets us through those times when we get discouraged by the writers’ block and the rejection letters and the editors who are making insane demands of us.

This incredible sense that I am not alone is one of the things that has made RMFW my family.

And who can’t use more family, right?  (Well, as long as they don’t interrupt the muse!)

Family, though, is more than being part of a community.  It means being “in” community together, interacting.

Interacting?!  Talking to people?  People you don’t know?  (Reader sticks head in sand).

Small steps can get you there and bring you the surprise of your life!

For me, the first step was joining a critique group. I got lucky the first time out. I discovered a genre-specific group I fit with well, one I could learn from, one in which I felt comfortable laying myself bare. When that group moved too far away from me (I lived in Wyoming at the time), it took a bit more effort to find a group that felt right.  Several of us created a private on-line group and I joined a multi-genre group.  Throughout those early years, I learned far more than I ever imagined was possible about craft and made friendships that nurtured me and allowed me to grow as a writer and a person.

I also began attending conference…standing in the corner looking on mustering every bit of my energy just to avoid fleeing to my room.  It took several years for me to venture out of the corner and interact but I spent those early years learning craft. But every year, I knew more people and discovered that the time with them provided me with a boost that inspired months of writing.

Still, it was my move to the Denver metro area that really allowed me to discover the meaning of community.  Someone asked me to help with the editor/agent critiques for conference.  A few months later, I was recruited to chair conference. I was fully, completely, in community. Nearly six years later, I still volunteer for several conference committees and serve on the RMFW Board. I also serve on committees for another writers’ group, WWW. Being involved has allowed me to get to know so many of my fellow writers, to be part of a family with them, to become a bigger person.

So…to the point of my rambling…

If you’re writing but still feeling that constant isolation, still expending lots of energy at conferences and feeling lonely while you’re there, I invite you to be in community with other writers. Join a critique group if you haven’t done so and allow yourself to develop friendships with your critique partners.  Let those friendships stretch beyond your monthly meetings. Attend monthly education events and talk to the person sitting next to you. Go to conference and step outside your social box. Spend time getting to know other writers. You have something in common to talk about, after all. Volunteer.  It doesn’t have to be for anything big. Even small tasks make you part of the bigger family and bring you in to contact with other writers.   Again, you already have something in common.

You’ll discover that we are all introverts that write in isolation but that we can thrive in discovering others who share our same hopes, dreams, fears, and struggles. And, once we share, we grow stronger and increase our energy until it becomes a big snowball.  And who doesn’t like snowballs?

The first steps toward being part of community may be difficult but they are so worth it.

For more information on community:  critique groups, education events, retreats, conference, or volunteering, check out the RMFW website:  www.rmfw.org.

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Pameladownload Nowak writes historical romance set in the American West. In addition to widespread critical acclaim, her books have won multiple national awards. In love with history and rich characters for most of her life, Pam has a B.A. in history, has taught prison inmates, managed the Fort Yuma National Historic Site and run a homeless shelter. She was named the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year in 2010, chaired three conferences, and now serves as president. Pam and her life partner Ken live in Denver. Their combined families include six daughters and several grand-children. Together, they parent two dogs and a cat.

Pam loves hearing from readers and invites them to visit her on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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.

The Time is Now

By Trai Cartwright
Post 6 of a 6-part monthly series

Happy New Year’s, writers! Just like everyone else, we’re making our resolutions, dedicating ourselves to special projects. Maybe it’s a book we’ve been trying to finish, or personal essay careers we’ve been longing to launch, or short story publications we promised to pursue, if only we had the time.

The time, of course, is now. The time is always now.

In doing my own soul searching and trying to find just what was going to make 2014 extra special and gratifying as a writer, a very surprising answer came to mind: TV.

That’s right, TV.

While working in Hollywood for 15 years, I’d focused primarily on feature films; despite Buffy and The X-Files and the early years of The Sopranos, TV was never “the place to be.” It was all about film. I’d done my share of work in TV—I’d been the writer’s assistant to legendary 70’s TV writer Jay Tarses, had worked for several months for the “pixie father” of reality TV, Mike Darnell, and had even spent a few glorious weeks on a desk in Chris Carter’s X-Files office (swoon!).

And just like every other writer in town, I’d written my share of “specs:” teleplays that riffed on hit shows in the hopes of getting a staff job, and had even written three or four pilots, even though it was nearly impossible for an outsider to launch a show.

Still, I wasn’t convinced I was a TV writer. I couldn’t nail the voices like so many great TV writers can, and couldn’t fathom being in a tiny room with other writers, jamming out draft after draft for twelve hours a day. Staff writing seemed like its own special hell, and I might never get to have my own voice craft a show.

TV had always been there…and had never been of particular interest.

What a wonderful thing to discover that TV has changed.

Last month, I spoke to an agent taking pitches at an MFA residency, and this is what he had to say:

“There are so many people and production companies looking for TV content right now, there’s actually not enough. I’m disappointed more people didn’t pitch me pilots. Features are tougher than TV right now—you don’t need a show runner, you don’t need a show bible, you don’t need a resume, you just need a great idea.”

A writer friend of mine in LA just told me that 85% of the jobs for screenwriters right now are in TV.

And three things occurred to me:

  1. Without even trying, I came up with three ideas for TV shows I’d love to watch.
  2. I know a lot of people who’ve expressed interested in learning to write for TV.
  3. NOW is a great time to pursue that dream of creating a TV show.

My New Year’s Resolution: write as many pilots as I can (I’m halfway through my first one already—23 pages, so easy!), and add Writing the TV Pilot to the Film Program I’m designing for RMFW.

Not only am I going to teach screenplays in 2014, but I’m also going to teach teleplays, and I can’t wait.

So if you’ve got a pilot (or 6!) rolling around in your head, contact me, and I’ll put you on the list for this exclusive class. Join me in the newest media gold rush—it’s an amazing time to be a TV lover!

Are any of you venturing into a new writing medium?

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Trai Cartwright HeadshotTrai Cartwright, MFA, is a 20-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing specialist. While in Los Angeles, she was a development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. A new Denver arrival, Trai currently teaches creative writing, film studies and screenwriting for Colorado universities, MFA residencies, writers groups, conferences, and one-on-one as an editor for fiction and screenplays. Learn more about Trai and her work at her website.

Exciting Events Ahead from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Attend the 2nd Annual RMFW Writers Retreat

With Special Guest, Agent Kate Schafer Testerman
Organized by Angie Hodapp
March 16-21, 2014
Table Mountain Inn,
Golden, CO
REGISTRATION CLOSES FEBRUARY 15TH

The 2013 writers retreat was a smashing success! It’s back in March of 2014 and will become an annual spring event. How much does it cost to attend the retreat? We are pleased to introduce flexible registration options. Attend for two days (minimum), three days, or all four days, and pay only for the days you attend. How do I register? Go to the RETREAT EVENT PAGE for more information and the link to register.

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Attend an Online Class

Heroes, Henchmen, and Sidekicks:
The Characters-First Approach to Plot
Presented by Angie Hodapp
2 Week Course
Start Date: Monday January 6
End Date: Sunday, January 19
$25 Members – $30 Non-Members
MORE INFO

Editing and Revision
for Fiction Writers
Presented by Cindi Myers
3 Week Course
Start Date: Monday February 3
End Date: Sunday, February 23
$35 Members – $40 Non-Members
MORE INFO

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Attend a Free Program in January

Denver
Short Story Breakdown:
Prepping for Anthology 2014 Crossing Colfax
Presented by Nikki Baird
Saturday, January 25
1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M.
Bel Mar Public Library
555 S. Allison Parkway
Lakewood, CO 80226
MEMBERS ONLY
MORE INFO

Western Slope
Writing the First Pages of Your Novel
Presented by Shannon Baker
Saturday, January 11
8:45 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Grand Junction Business Incubator
2591 Legacy Way
Grand Junction, CO
Please RSVP to Vicki Law at vruchhoeft@gmail.com
MORE INFO

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New events and other announcements are available on the Home Page of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website.

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)..

 

A Few Reasons to Write Short Stories

By Lori DeBoer

It’s official: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers now welcomes writers of short fiction into its fold.  Since I am noodling away on a collection of short stories, a few of which have been finalists for awards or been published, I felt relieved to be able to come out of the 10,000-words-and-fewer closet, so to speak.

This change of policy makes a lot of sense, especially since the RMFW is putting out its fourth short story member anthology. (The most recent one, Broken Links, Mended Lives, was a finalist for the 2009 Colorado Book Award.) This year’s anthology is themed “Crossing Colfax” in honor of the avenue in Denver that Playboy Magazine dubbed “the longest, wickedest street in America.” The deadline for submission is March 14, 2014; for more info, click here.

While securing a spot in the RMFW anthology is a great goal — I hope you’ll submit something — I believe writers of all stripes can benefit from writing short stories. Think of it as a cross-training exercise. Here are a few reasons why:

You Gotta Start Somewhere
You wouldn’t run a marathon without taking a few short runs and working your way up. You wouldn’t get married without going on some dates.  (Well, some folks would, but that’s a topic for another type of blog.)  The point is that writing short stories has been a time-honored way for fiction writers to learn their craft. Garth Risk Hallberg has been building buzz for scoring a $2 million book deal for his 900-page novel, but he published a novella and a fistful of short fiction first. Many successful authors of all genres cut their teeth on short stories, including Mary Oliver, Ron Carlson, Joyce Carol Oates, Kelly Link and Ray Bradbury.

You Should Expect to Experiment
Most beginning writers are still finding their voice, let alone their genre, and writing short fiction gives them ample room to experiment. Even experienced writers sometimes long to break out of their niche and play the field. Short stories offer plenty of room to experiment with voice, style, genres, characters and other narrative nuances without breaking the bank or frittering away too much time. If something does feel right, you can always scale things up.

Practice Perfects Process
Completing and polishing a short story so it’s publication-ready gives you an understanding of your writing process, from drafts through revisions. If you take the step of submitting to the types of magazines that accept short stories in your genre, querying becomes more mundane and less intimidating. While it’s always painful, getting rejected on a short story you spent months on, then dusting yourself off and submitting again, helps inoculate you against falling completely apart when your novel gets rejected.  Plus, any feedback you receive on your short stories might just be applicable to your novel-in-progress.

To Shorten the Time to Publication
Writing and submitting a short story provides a short-term goal to punctuate the months (or years) it takes to write a book.  Professional writers can generally draft, revise and polish a short story in two to three months, though some work more quickly and some are more patient, taking  much as a year or more to perfect a piece. With the trend toward micro-fiction—stories of a thousand words or fewer—the investment of time in writing becomes even more dialed down. The writing pace is up to you, but short stories in general have a quicker turnaround time for getting published than do novels. With a few thousand literary magazines of every genre in the United States alone, new writers may find a foothold in publishing more easily by writing short.

You Can Fashion a Reputation
Getting published in literary or genre magazines helps you pitch your novels, because those credits indicate that you are a working writer, not just a one-hit wonder. Many agents and publishers troll these magazines, looking for the next writing wunderkind. Marketers know you need to get a brand in front of consumers seven times before they remember it. The same holds true for building a base of fans. Short story writers have plenty of opportunities to reach the kind of readers that can eventually build a book’s buzz, be it a novel or a collection of short stories.

For the Love of the Form
Writing short stories need not be a station on the way to learning to write novels; the form can be savored for its own sake. The art of the short story differs from long-form fiction in a myriad of ways; it focuses on the present, what is, rather than running pell-mell toward what-may-come. Its compact form means that every phrase, nuance, gesture and narrative element needs to be worth the space it occupies. Because it requires a deft and practiced touch, many consider writing short stories more of a challenge than writing novels. The relationship between the form and the writer can be more complex than it first appears. Canadian Alice Munro, master of short stories, started out writing short when she had children to raise and a household to run. After her fourth book of short stories was published, she told The Guardian that she realized her attempts at writing a novel “never worked.” This week, her daughter accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature in Sweden on her behalf in recognition of her short stories, which includes 14 collections. In her interview, she noted that short stories are “often brushed off as something people do before they write a novel .  .  . I would like them to come to the fore without any strings attached.”

Do you love to write short stories?  Please tell us why.
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Lori DeBoerLori DeBoer, a Boulder-based author, journalist and writing coach, is finishing up a collection of short stories that started as her MFA thesis at Arizona State University. Her stories have been a Top-25 Finalist for the Glimmer Train Fiction Open as well as being shortlisted for the Bellevue Literary Prize. She’s been published in Arizona Highways, The Bellevue Literary Review, Gloom Cupboard, The New York Times, Iowa Woman and America West Airlines Magazine. One of her clients was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and four of her clients have been finalists for the Colorado Gold Award.  She has volunteered to help edit the RMFW anthology and will be sharing information about writing short stories at the educational workshop in January 2014. For more information, visit her website and blog at www.lorideboer.net.

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.

Screenwriting Comes to RMFW!

By Trai Cartwright
Part Four of a Six-Part Monthly Series

Come on, admit it. You’re curious. Something about it speaks to you and that part of you that’s a little rebellious, that loves trying new things. Well, come on, then, give in to the dark side! Or at least just a dark room. All the better to see the screen…

In what must have been a bit of magic (and some cheering on from a few key folks), Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers have agreed to let me head a screenwriting program.

If you’ve ever had a story that you thought was just perfect for the movies or if the scenes in your book come alive in your head, here’s your chance to come play. Writing for film is easier than it looks (and a lot harder!), and it’s going to be my pleasure to guide a handful of intrepid souls into this amazing medium.

The first class we’re offering is an online class, and it’s ideal for any writer: “The Top 10 Things Movies Can Teach Novelists.”

This two-week, do as much or as little as you want class will demonstrate that there’s plenty novelists can steal from how movies tell their stories. Beginning in early December, we’ll discuss all the things that movies do wonderfully and how thinking in film terms can actually help you focus your writing.

All for $25!

And then in the Spring, I’ll be teaching an Introduction to Screenwriting class that will get 12 students rolling on the first half of a screenplay. While we do begin at the beginning with formatting, even those who’ve done a lil’ scriptwriting will find tricks and tips that will advance their movies. This is an in person class complete with vital workshopping and lots of clips from modern classics.

It’s my absolute honor to bring my Hollywood know how to Denver and be the first screenwriting teacher for RMFW! If you’re interested in joining us, drop me a line and I’ll put you on the list to contact when we’re ready to roll.

Meanwhile, I gotta keep this short. I gotta save my words for NaNoWriMo.

Always so much more to learn and to explore—glad I’ve got 50,000 words this month to give me a leg up! See you at the finish line.

To register for Top 10 Things Movies Can Teach Novelists:

http://www.rmfw.org/events/online-classes/#12021513

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Trai Cartwright HeadshotTrai Cartwright, MFA, is a 20-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing specialist. While in Los Angeles, she was a development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. A new Denver arrival, Trai currently teaches creative writing, film studies and screenwriting for Colorado universities, MFA residencies, writers groups, conferences, and one-on-one as an editor for fiction and screenplays. Learn more about Trai and her work at her website.

Making the Long and Winding Road to Publication a Little Shorter with RMFW

by Mark Stevens, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers President

As she accepted the Writer of the Year plaque at Colorado Gold, Linda Joffe Hull talked about living and writing for a decade in the “purgatory of almost” before finding a publisher for one of her books.

As she will tell you, it was a long and winding road.

But Linda credits a certain organization (its initials are Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) for the final break-through. As she talked about the two books she has launched in the last 12 months, she talked about the relationships she developed by taking an active role in the group.

Our group.

Yeah, yeah, yeah—for the last few weeks it’s been all Colorado Gold this and Colorado Gold that. (See paragraph #1 above.) It was three days of good times for us fiction nerds.

But RMFW is so much more than Colorado Gold and, I dare say, the tremendous variety of other events on the calendar offer an even better chance to develop relationships and make new friends who might have that one key introduction to an agent, an editor, a publisher. The conference can be, you know, intimidating. Fun, sure, but pressure too.

I’m not saying the conference isn’t cool, but now it’s another 12 months away (Sept. 5—7, 2014).

In the meantime, there are plenty of other chances to dive in and make friends—and develop your network—in a more casual setting. (And, in some cases, free.)

Check it out:

  • Later this month, a free two-hour workshop titled “Diving In: Character and Motivation” by Courtney Koschel. Location: Arvada Public Library, downtown Arvada. Date and time: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 1p.m. Courtney is the senior acquisitions editor for Month9Books. Senior. Acquisitions. Editor. Enough said.
  • Also this month, the experienced Trai Cartwight is offering a dirt-cheap online course called “Building a Better Book” that will help you demystify the process of novel building. It’s all about asking—and answering—key structural questions at the heart of every well-executed novel. Trai has roots in Hollywood, among other places. Get to know Trai and it’s one degree of separation between you and Stephen Spielberg. Or something like that.
  • Next month, there’s a free two-hour workshop titled “World Building: Don’t Let the Dream Collapse.” Location and times are still being finalized, but the program will be given by Colleen Oakes, author of the best-selling Elly in Bloom.
  • Also online soon, Sharon Mignerey (a true RMFW legend—she helped start our group about 30 years ago) is running a dialog workshop called “Let Your Characters Do the Talking.”
  • Also next month, over at our Grand Junction home away from home, best-selling author and RMFW stalwart Jeanne Stein is leading a day-long workshop titled “A Publishing Primer.” The first 20 people who register have the chance to pitch to Angie Hoddapp with Nelson Literary Agency and/or receive a two-page critique and 10-minute meeting with Warren Hammond, author of the KOP science fiction series. (Warren also won the Colorado Book Award this year!)

Cool programs, great opportunities to improve your craft and, maybe give you a chance to get to know other writers, develop connections and work your way out of the “purgatory of almost.”
All the details are available at www.rmfw.org. You probably knew that.

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2013conference66Mark Stevens is the President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and the author of the Western hunting guide Allison Coil mysteries Antler Dust and Buried by the Roan.

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

Post Conference Post

By Julie Kazimer

Well it’s done. Another fabulous Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference is the books. My head swells with information, not to mention a little too much time in the hospitality suite. I met new and old friends alike. This conference had over 100 new attendees. First timers are the lifeblood for us old hats, at least for me. I love the excitement and buzz in the air as people explore new writing and craft territory.

And let me just say, there was plenty to learn. Being a total, all knowing publishing pro, I opted for the business/career track of workshops. I was not disappointed. Okay I was, only in that, I found out I am NOT a total, all knowing publishing pro.

Bestselling author and indie pub guru, Jeff Shelby led us on a few wonderful forays into e-publishing. Carnia Press editor, Jeff Seymour (a personal hero since he saved my workshop by loaning me his laptop) taught a riveting class on how to write back cover copy for indie publishing. I took advantage of this right away, and I swear my cover copy has never sounded better.

The famous Susan Spann did her stuff by teaching us some legalness when it comes to author and publisher rights. Bree Evrin taught us social media illiterates how to hashtag like the best of them. Lynda Hilburn shared secrets on how to fix that one thing…the thing writers dare not mention…rhymes with Biters Lock. Rockstar Angie Hodapp shared her expertise on vivid description. Mario Acevedo, Warren Hammond and Betsy Dorbusch crushed it with a panel on two of my favorite things, crime and noir. The agent and editor panels were, as always, fascinating. And how could I forget Karen Lin’s Book to Script workshop. I’m ready for my close up, Mr. Deville. And all the billions in royalties once I become the darling of Hollywood. (No, I am not still drunk from my extended time in the hospitality suite). There were plenty of other amazing workshops and presentations. Forgive me if I didn’t mention yours. The editors, Pat and Julie like me to keep my posts under a million words.

What else to share? The Friday night booksigning was a blast. Nina and Ron Else from Who Else Books (The Broadway Book Mall) are two fo my favorite people to see at the conference. Not only do they sell my books, and make me look good while doing it, but they are wonderful people. As I arrived at my booksigning station this year, a small package sat in front of me. Nina had given me a tiny princess who grows 600% in water. Now I should’ve read the directions more carefully, because it did say in water, not whiskey. But I love my tiny princess at the same, and Nina for giving it to me.

That same night, Writer of the Year, Linda Hull, gave an inspiring speech about persistence, pain, and the joys to be found in both publishing and in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization itself. This is a woman who spent years waiting for her big break, suffering the ups and downs of the industry, and now is quickly rising to the top. I wish her and the other Writer of the Year nominees the best, as well as all those who finaled and won the Colorado Gold contest. You are great writers who are moments away from achieving your dreams.

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who made this conference possible, especially Vicki Law and her cohorts, who raised over $4000 for CO Flood relief. And a huge shout out to Susie Brooks, the conference chair. Great job by all.

Here’s to hoping all of you who pitched to an agent or editor fulfill your publication dreams. And thank you to all my new writerly friends and my old ones as well for a fantastic weekend. Now quit reading this (in a few more sentences) and go write!

There was so much more to share, but I’m exhausted.

What was your favorite conference moment? And does anyone know where I left my left shoe? I can’t seem to find it. I know I had it at dinner…

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J.A. (Julie) Kazimer lives in Denver, CO. Novels include The Body Dwellers, CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale, Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons, Dope Sick: A Love Story and FROGGY STYLE as well as the forthcoming romance, The Assassin’s Heart, and the upcoming mystery series, Deadly Ever After from Kensington Books. J.A. spent years spilling drinks as a bartender and then stalked people while working as a private investigator.

Learn more at www.jakazimer.com or on her writerly talk blog More Than a Little F***ed Up. She can also be found (way too much of the time) on Twitter as @jakazimer and on Facebook as Julie Kazimer.