Each year, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers honors two published-author members as Writer of the Year (WOTY) and Independent Writer of the Year (IWOTY). To be eligible, authors must have published a novel within the previous calendar year of the award. And the author must be a current member in good standing for the entire calendar year of the award. The winner of the award is selected by RMFW’s membership. Selection is based on the following criteria. You can vote here for 2019 WOTY / IWOTY candidates and learn more about them here.

  • An author’s participation in RMFW activities
  • The quality of an author’s writing measured against others within the same genre
  • Significant professional achievement

Margaret Mizushima, 2019 Writer of the Year

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Her books have been short-listed for the RT Reviewers’ Choice, Colorado Book, the Silver Falchion, Foreword Indies, and Benjamin Franklin Awards; and Kings River Life listed her fourth episode, Burning Ridge, as a Best Book of 2018. Margaret is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board for Mystery Writers of America Rocky Mountain Chapter. She lives on a small farm in Colorado with her husband and a pack of dogs. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, on Instagram at margmizu, and on her website.

Stephanie (S.J.) Reisner, 2019 Independent Writer of the Year

Stephanie Reisner makes her living as a full-time writer/publisher and is published both traditionally and independently, but with focus on her successful indie career. With four pen names, she has over 18 published novels in various genres to her credit. She is the author of the independently published, bestselling Gilded Lily series, which started with Training Amy – a book that has sold over 50,000 copies. She is also multi-published in both shorter fiction and non-fiction (with over 30 non-fiction books to her credit). Most of her work is independently published at this time excluding one novel and a handful of short stories. In 2018 she independently published 2 novels, 1 non-fiction book, and 1 novella. Her independent novel Thirteen Covens: Bloodlines Part One was a 2018 CIPA EVVY Award winner and has spurred some interest from an independent film company. In spring 2019 she released Illuminated Darkness, the fifth and final book in her acclaimed OTS (Urban Fantasy/Mystery) series. She also runs Darkerwood Publishing Group, a micro-press that publishes six additional authors under two successful imprints, DB Publishing (non-fiction) and Midnight Fantasy Press (erotic romance fiction). Learn more about her at her author website.

Gwen Florio, 2018 Writer of the Year

Gwen Florio began her career in fiction in 2013 with the publication of her first novel, Montana, which won the Pinckley Prize for Debut Crime Fiction and a High Plains Book Award. Under the Shadows (Midnight Ink, March 2018) is the fifth novel in the Lola Wicks series, termed “gutsy” by the New York Times. She turned to literary fiction with Silent Hearts (Atria, July 2018), a novel set in Afghanistan. She’s the city editor of the Missoulian newspaper in Missoula, Montana, where she lives with her partner, Scott, and an exuberant, manuscript-chewing bird dog named Nell.

Corinne O’Flynn, 2018 Independent Writer of the Year

Corinne O’Flynn is a USA Today bestselling author of The Expatriates fantasy-adventure series featuring SONG OF THE SENDING and PROMISE OF THE SCHOLAR, the Witches of Tower Hill paranormal suspense series featuring the award-winning GHOSTS OF WITCHES PAST, the Aumahnee Prophecy urban fantasy series which she co-writes with RMFW member Lisa Manifold, and the Half Moon Girls murder-mystery series. She is also a publisher with Wicked Ink Books, whose titles include the award-winning anthologies TICK TOCK: Seven Tales of Time and OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song. Look for a new anthology from Wicked Ink Books in the Fall 2018, and the final installment of The Expatriates series, SOUL OF THE SWORD, this summer.

Shannon Baker, 2017 Writer of the Year

Shannon BakerShannon Baker is the author of the Kate Fox mystery series (Tor/Forge). Set in the isolated cattle country of the Nebraska Sandhills, Kirkus says, “Baker serves up a ballsy heroine, a colorful backdrop, and a surprising ending.” She also writes the Nora Abbott mystery series (Midnight Ink), featuring Hopi Indian mysticism and environmental issues. Shannon makes her home in Tucson where she enjoys cocktails by the pool, breathtaking sunsets, a crazy Weimeraner, and killing people (in the pages of her books).

Wendy Terrien, 2017 Independent Writer of the Year

Wendy TerrienWendy Terrien received her first library card at age two, and a few years later started writing her own stories. Her debut novel, The Rampart Guards (February 2016), earned a Kirkus starred review and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016. The novel is a Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist, a Next Generation Indies Award Finalist, and the first in her intriguing urban fantasy series. The next two books in the series, The League of Governors and The Clan Calling, will be released summer 2017.

The 2016 Writer of the Year: Mark Stevens

The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He graduated from LincolnSudbury Regional High School in the suburbs of Boston and from Principia College in Illinois. He worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver; as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post. After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business. He lives in Denver with his wife and has two grown daughters.

Mark is the author of the Allison Coil Mystery Series— Antler Dust (2007), Buried by the Roan (2011), Trapline (2014) and Lake of Fire (Sept., 2015). Trapline won the 2015 Colorado Book Award for best mystery and the 2015 Colorado Authors League award for best genre fiction. Lake of Fire is a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award in the mystery category.

Mark is a past president and past monthly workshop coordinator for RMFW. He currently hosts the Rocky Mountain Writer podcast. Lake of Fire was inspired by real-life events from a tragic police shooting and subsequent manhunt in Cortez in the late 1990’s and also the late Randy Udall’s ideas about energy sustainability.

Mark’s Website

The 2016 Independent Writer of the Year: Lisa Manifold

Lisa published four books in 2015: Thea’s Tale, her debut novel, and Casimir’s Journey in the Sisters Of The Curse series. One Night At The Ball is a novella in the same series. Three Wishes, originally published in The Fantastical Collection: Five Tales of Fantasy, is the first book of the Heart Of The Djinn trilogy. The final two books of the trilogy, as well as the fourth book in the Sisters Of The Curse series will be released in 2016. Her plans for 2016, in addition to finishing the two series, are to release noels in two new series, both paranormal romance.

Lisa has been a voracious reader since she first picked up a book, often running late for everything because she wanted to get through ‘just one more chapter!’ While in the midst of querying, Lisa discovered that mysterious animal in the publishing world called selfpublishing. To her great surprise, she found the idea very attractive. Once Thea’s Tale was finished and edited, she decided to self-publish rather than looking for representation. That was all it took.

Lisa joined RMFW in 2013, one week prior to the Gold Conference. In 2015, she joined the RMFW Board, first as the Hospitality Chair, and then as the Newsletter Editor. She also serves as the IPAL Liaison. Given her commitment to independent publishing, this is a perfect match.

Lisa’s Website

The 2015 Writer of the Year: Susan Spann

2015WOTY Susan Spann

Susan Spann’s mysteries have made a splash, published in hard cover to unfailingly good reviews. Her third Shinobi mystery, Flask of the Drunken Master, was published earlier this month and now Susan has been named 2015 Writer of the Year. Her mysteries are set in sixteenth-century Japan and feature ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Jesuit Sidekick, Father Mateo. The first book was Claws of the Catand the second was titled Blade of the Sumarai.

Claws of the Cat was named a Library Journal mystery debut of the month and was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. As a result, Susan was interviewed for an article in Writers Digest by Chuck Sambuchino.

Susan has been a voracious reader since preschool in Santa Monica, California. In high school, she wrote her first complete novel, a fantasy that started as a short story assignment, though she vows that book will never, ever see the light of day!

A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan and earned an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies—a background she draws upon for her Shinobi mysteries. But before justice-seeking ninjas took over her imagination, Susan went to law school. She practices law in California, where her long-lasting love affair with books led her to specialize in intellectual property, business, and publishing contracts. She has also been a law professor.

Susan is the current president of the Northern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and also a member of the MWA National Board. She belongs to Sisters in Crime and theHistorical Novel Society.

Susan founded and is curator of the #PubLaw Twitter hashtag, through which she provides pro bono information for writers and answers questions about copyright and publishing issues. When not writing or practicing law, she raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.

Susan has been an RMFW member since 2010 and has presented workshops for conference. She lives in California but remains a regular monthly contributor to the RMFW Blog, Writers In the Storm, and Murder Is Everywhere. She met and pitched to her agent, Sandra Bond, at the 2011 Colorado Gold Conference. Please visit Susan’s website to find out more.


The 2014 Writer of the Year: Shannon Baker

Shannon-BakerShannon Baker is the author of the Nora Abbott Mystery series by Midnight Ink, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians. She can often be found backpacking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, or just playing lizard in the desert. From the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson, landscapes play an important role in her books. Tainted Mountain, the first in the Nora Abbott Mystery series, is set in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived for several years and worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder. It is a 2013 finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. When Shannon moved to Boulder, CO, Nora followed her and Broken Trust , released in March 2014, is set in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Her first thriller, Ashes of the Red Heifer, (L&L Dreamspell 2010) takes place in the Nebraska Sandhills and Israel.

Connect with Shannon: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

2014 Writer of the Year Announcement Party

The 2013 Writer of the Year: Linda Joffe Hull

Linda Joffe Hull joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in 2001 with twenty pages and the naïve assumption that it wouldn’t be all that hard to complete and publish novel length fiction. Overnight success only took one decade, a few shelved manuscripts, and an infinite amount of support from RMFW. Linda is the author of The Big Bang and Eternally 21, the first title in the Mrs. Frugalicious mystery series.

Over the years, Linda has served in a variety of different positions within RMFW including President and Conference Chair and is currently an agent/editor liaison for the Colorado Gold conference. She also serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, and a graduate of UCLA, Linda has resided in Denver for the last nineteen years and calls Colorado home.

She is currently at work on Black Thursday, the second Mrs. Frugalicious mystery and a second standalone novel.

Connect with Linda: Website, Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads.

The 2012 Writer of the Year: Carol Berg

author-carol-bergWho would ever imagine that someone who majored in math, so she wouldn’t have to write papers, would produce thirteen epic fantasy novels? Carol tells people that writing is “the hobby that ate her life.”

Carol grew up in Texas in a family of teachers, musicians, and railroad men, taught math for a while, but worked as a software engineer for much longer. She has degrees in mathematics from Rice University and computer science from the University of Colorado. Carol lives, camps, hikes, and bikes with her husband in the Colorado Rockies.

Her books have won the Prism Award, the Geffen Award, and multiple Colorado Book Awards. She was truly honored and humbled in 2009, when her duology, Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone, was awarded the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Her name now sits on a list with the very authors whose works sit on her bookshelves: Tolkien, McKillip, Le Guin, Anderson, Kushner, et al.

Connect with Carol: Website, Blog, Facebook, and GoodReads.

The 2011 Writer of the Year: Robin D. Owens

Robin D. Owens has been writing longer than she cares to recall. Her fantasy/futuristic romances finally found a home at Berkley with the issuance of HeartMate in December 2001. She credits the telepathic cat with attitude in selling that book. Since then, Heart Thief was a launch book for Berkley Sensation in June 2003, Heart Duel was published in April 2004, and Heart Choice in July 2005. Her Luna Books series includes shape-shifiting fairies and average American women Summoned into another world to fight monstrous evil. The first, Guardian of Honor, came out in February 2005 and Sorceress of Faith will be out in February 2006. My best writing moment— winning the Romance Writers of America RITA award! My worst writing moment is every time a rejection hits.

Connect with Robin: Website, Blog, Facebook, and GoodReads.

The 2010 Writer of the Year: Pamela Nowak

pamnowakPamela Nowak has been a member of RMFW since 1994. She has a B.A. in history and has taught high school, college, and prison classes; worked as a historic preservation consultant; served as preservation specialist for the Fort Yuma National Historic Landmark; and ran a homeless shelter for 13 years. Her first historic romance, Chances, was released in 2008 and her second novel, Choices, was published in 2009. The books garnered favorable/starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Romantic Times, Romance Reviews Today, and The Historical Novels Review. Chances was a Denver best-seller and was named one of the “Top Ten Romance Novels of 2008″ by Booklist, received the 2009 HOLT Medallion for Best First Book, and was a 2009 WILLA Finalist in Historic Fiction. Choices received a 2010 Holt Medallion Award of Merit in Historic Romance.

Pam has been a regular contributor to the RMFW Writer, serves as a judge for the Colorado Gold contest, teaches conference workshops, and volunteers for various conference positions, including serving three terms as Conference Chair.

Her third novel, Changes, is an August 2013 release and has received a Publishers Weekly starred review. A fourth book, set in 1905 Denver, is currently being shopped to publishers.

Connect with Pamela: Website, Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.

Past Writers of the Year

2009 – Mario Acevedo
2008 – Jeanne C. Stein
2007 – C.J. Box
2006 – Carol Berg
2005 – Cindi Myers
2004 – Robin D Owens
2003 – Kay Bergstrom
2002 – Christine Goff
2001 – Francine Mathews
2000 – Sharon Mignerey
1999 – Maggie Osborne
1998 – Leslie O’Kane and Patricia Werner
1997 – Anne Holmberg
1996 – Rick Hanson
1995 – Christine T Jorgensen
1994 – Leona (Lee) Karr
1993 – Jimmie Butler
1992 – Cheryl McGonigle
1991 – Diane Mott Davidson
1990 – Barbara J. Blackman
1989 – Jasmine Cresswell
1988 – Kathy Clark
1987 – Jasmine Cresswell
1986 – Kay Bergstrom
1985 – Maggie Osborne