Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Marne's Review: Jean Murray "Key to the Cursed - Book One: Soul Reborn"

Novel:  “Key to the Cursed – Book One: Soul Reborn”
Author:  Jean Murray
Rating: 5 out of 5
Book Blurb:
Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.
Lilly, Commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess' undead army unleashing hell on earth.  But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.
The Review:
“Soul Reborn” is an amazing novel. It’s one of those stories that grabbed me on page one and didn’t let go; taking me on a fast-paced adventure so steeped in rich detail and sexual tension, the real world paled into the background until I finished visiting Murray’s world.
Lilly, the Commander of the huntresses is A-mazing. She’s tough, she’s sexy, she’s got a touch of snark in her attitude and yet a surprising amount of innocence in the way she views the world. She enjoys life to the fullest, even when she’s leaving a bloody trail of violent destruction…but don’t worry, she only gets the bad guys.
And Asar? Write home to mama and ask for one of him for Christmas! I sure want to. In the beginning, he is full of hatred and a bitter need for revenge, sure; but he’s so damaged it is understandable. He’s a bad boy in desperate need of reform, and Lilly’s just the slightly damaged heroine for the job. (Of course she’s flawed! That’s what makes her a Great character! The reader can Relate to her!).
And boy, do they make one Heck of a great Duo!
Aside from the surface stuff going on: ya know, the end of time, millions of zombies needing culled from the streets, some very naughty goddess to get even with; and let’s not forget the LOVE story… Ms. Murray also has some wonderful underlying messages… but I’ll let you find those (just know they are there, and wonderfully done).
Ms. Murray is one of those authors I’m going to keep an eye on, because I’m certain she is an up and coming “super-author” in the making. Luckily, Murray has at least two more stories in this series planned; and I can hardly wait.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Interview with Kirt Hickman

Hey everyone - we are so excited! Our first interview! (There are those pesky exclamation points again).

We met Kirt last year at the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver where he presented an awesome workshop based upon his award-winning book: Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness.  I was so impressed by the response he received, I invited him back to be the speaker at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' May Education Event.

Kirt will present for us on May 21, 2011 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver.

Thank you, Kirt, both for agreeing to do our workshop in May and for being here with us on Cowboys and Dragons.

First off, tell us a little about yourself and when/how/why you started writing.
It started pretty much on a dare, some 15 years ago.  My wife and I were on a road trip, listening to an audio version of King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard.  When we finished it, my wife, Lisa, read the "About the Author" text on the back of the box.  It said that when Haggard read Treasure Island, he made the claim to his wife that he could write a better story.  His wife's reply was, "Do it."  The result was King Solomon's Mines.  Well, I enjoyed King Solomon's Mines, but it wasn't the best book I'd ever read, so I told my wife, "I think I could write a better story than that." Her reply: "Do it." The difference was that H. Rider Haggard was a writer and I was not.  So I didn't take my wife up on her challenge--at least not right away.  I sat on the idea for nearly 10 years, but I never forgot it.  I often thought about what I would write if I did decide to write something. 

I was an avid reader at the time (I still am), and I came across the "Venus Prime" series by Arthur C. Clarke and Paul Preuss.  Again, I wasn't terribly impressed by the story (at least not after the third book or so), but I was intrigued by one thing these authors had done.  They had written a series of books, each of which highlighted a world in our solar system as a setting for the story.  I thought that was cool.  What's even better is that we have learned a lot about those worlds since "Venus Prime" was written.  So I figured I would write a completely different story, but in a series of books that each take place on a different world in our solar system, and then portray those worlds as we now know them to be.  That's what I'm doing with my "Worlds Asunder" series.

Eight years ago, Philips Semiconductors, the company that I was working for at the time, went out of business.  I had no difficulty finding another job (which I still have today), but I negotiated some time off and took a few writing classes through UNM Continuing Education. That's when I began writing my first novel.  After I went back to work, I joined SouthWest Writers and continued writing.  The rest, as they say, is history.

And your books, what do you have published and what are you working on right now?
I have published two books in my "Worlds Asunder" series: Worlds Asunder and Venus Rain. I am currently working on the third book, Mercury Sun.  I also have a children's picture book, I Will Eat Anything, in print.  And, of course, my writing how-to, Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness.
My next book will be, Fabler's Legend, the first book in the "Age of Prophecy" fantasy trilogy.  Fabler's Legend is a high fantasy in which:

The great seer Ageus Mortaan foretold the coming of the Age of Darkness, the rise to power of the forces of evil, and the enslavement or extermination of humankind. For Nick Mirrin, this prophecy had never been more than a fairytale, until the minions of darkness attacked his family and destroyed his home. . . And until the preconditions foretold by Mortaan began to coalesce.
Nick's grandfather, on the other hand, had always believed. He had dedicated his life to the study of the Prophecy. But he's gone now.
With nothing more than a few scraps from his grandfather's journal and a group of friends he thought he could trust, Nick sets out to complete his grandfather's ultimate endeavor––to prevent the fulfillment of Mortaan's prophecy. 
The problem: Ageus Mortaan is never wrong.

Fabler's Legend is scheduled for release in May.  Unfortunately, I probably won't receive my copies in time to have them at the workshop.

I'm also working on Purple, another children's picture book.

Rejection letters: How many did you receive before you were published?
I've long since lost count of how many rejection letters I've received.  As well as I can tell, there is no way to get a book traditionally published without suffering through a multitude of rejections.

I had a marked improvement in my results when I started paying a qualified professional to proof-read my submissions.  Before I started doing this, I never placed in a contest and I never got a positive response (a request for additional information) from an editor or agent.  After I started sending submissions that had been professionally proofed (by someone other than myself), I began placing in contests and receiving positive responses to about 50% of my queries.  I cannot overstate the importance of professional proof reading.  Because submissions are generally short, it doesn't cost much to have them professionally proofed.

Your book Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness is winning awards. You also base your workshops on the book. Tell us a little about how you developed the process.
Yes.  Revising Fiction has done very well in both the Ben Franklin Awards and the New Mexico Book Awards.  I believe the reason for this is because it bridges the gap between concept and application. It is the book I was looking for when I was learning to write. There are a multitude of great writing books out there, but most are written at a conceptual level.  When I read them, I had an idea of what I was supposed to try to accomplish in my writing, but I still didn't know how to accomplish it.  Revising Fiction takes that extra step. It breaks the entire process down into bite-sized pieces and presents the material in a start-to-finish, nuts and bolts, no-kidding-here's-what-you've-got-to-do approach.

The process itself is the result of my journey to improve my own writing.  The first professional critique that I received came back with one resounding and very detailed message, which can be summarized by the statement: Kirt, you need to learn how to write.  So I joined SouthWest Writers, attended conferences and workshops, went to classes, read books, etc.  What I got was an overwhelming mass of advice. Somehow, I had to organize the information for myself.  As a manufacturing engineer, I have made a living out of taking complex sets of requirements (or in this case advice) and boiling them down into simple, effective procedures.  That's what I did here. Ultimately, I wrote it up as a self-editing checklist for my own use.  Later, I was asked by a critique buddy of mine to share the process at an informal writers group meeting.  Based on the positive response that I received, I expanded the talk into several workshops and classes of varying lengths, and ultimately the book.

How often do you write? Do you stick to a schedule or work it in around life?
I write in the interstices of my life.  I have a day job and a family, so I have a lot of demands on my time. Still, I try to write every day.  I write during my lunch period during the week. On the weekends, I get up early and can usually get a couple hours of writing in before my family crawls out of bed.  If I have 10 minutes to spare while I'm waiting somewhere, I'll break out my manuscript and edit a couple of pages.  Having a clearly defined self-editing process helps to keep me focused and productive during my limited writing time.

When not writing, what do you do?
As I mentioned, I have a day job.  I currently  work as a process and safety engineer in a microelectronics research laboratory.  Evenings are pretty much reserved for my family.  All of my "hobby" time, goes toward my writing.

What did I not ask that you want to talk about?
I think that just about covers it.  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone next month.

Check out a new blog - Vicki Connor

Mike mentioned a new blog he thought I might like and after mozying over there, I'm impressed. 'Course she and I like some of the same music, read some of the same authors and have the same name, so I might be somewhat biased.

I enjoyed reading her posts. Ya 'all out to go check her out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Torture Can Be Fun

Hey all,

     What sort of stuff do you do to your characters?

     Do you torture your characters? Do you pull the rug out just when they are about to make some progress? When they're celebrating some small victory, do you visit disaster upon them? You should.

     As you know, I'm a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants, the characters tell the story to me and I write it down. That is not to say I don't have input. I do, for I am their god. I don't think they realize that, probably a good thing. Better to be a secret god. That way I don't have to be bothered with their whiny prayers and righteous indignation. I won't be asked, "How can you let this happen? Or, "Haven't I always believed in you? No, no, better they don't know about me because I am a sneaky, rotten, no-good s.o.b. I don't want to have to answer for that.
     I once, just when my protagonist amassed enough men and weapons to pose a serious threat to my poor little disturbed, misunderstood, antagonist, I whispered in her ear, "Time to ride the dragon." She did, discovered the army and wiped out three quarters of them. I could only shake my head. "Egon, Egon, Egon, why was no one watching for Katerina and her dragon?" It's sad, but some lessons are really, really hard.

     Lest you think I only do bad things to protagonists, I let an arrow shot by Egon part the collar holding the charm that allowed Katerina to control the dragon. That is a horrible sentence but I'm letting it stand to underscore the importance of reading your work out loud. Give it a try. Now I can hear you thinking, 'Egon shot the arrow. This lunatic with the god complex didn't do anything.'

     That's exactly the point; I didn't do anything, I allowed it to happen. I could have summoned a gust of wind to blow it off course. But, I let catastrophe befall poor Katerina. She had to leap from the angry dragon, turn herself into a crow to save herself and spend the night in the mud under a bush because she didn't know how to get airborne. More importantly, the dragon was lost to her.

     Okay, I told you all that because, 'Do bad things to your characters to make your story more interesting.' would be a very short blog post. That's it in a nutshell though.You have to be evil for the sake of the story. You must make your characters suffer, sometimes die. In my first manuscript, I killed the title character two thirds of the way through. Albert actually killed him but it was because of my tinkering. Overcoming disaster, tragedy, insurmountable odds and well meaning idiots builds character in protagonists and antagonists alike. And that's what we're after; strong, interesting characters.

     It's up to you, as their god, to forge them with pain, disappointment and sorrow. You control their world, use that: floods, earthquakes, meteors, a rolling boulder, a toppling tree. You can arrange circumstances to rouse their greatest fears, use that: a loose lion, a raging river, an unstable rope bridge over a chasm. You can foster misunderstanding, paranoia, and hate. You can make their lives a living hell, and you must. It's for their own good.

     So, tell me some of the things you've done to your characters. Or, some of the favorites you've read.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marne's Review: Rachel Firasek "Piper's Fury"

Novel: "Piper's Fury"
Author: Rachel Firasek
visit Rachel at
Rating: 5 out of 5!!! (even though it lacks dragons)
Book Blurb:
It's an empath thing...
Using your "powers" to help the Dark Hills Police Department hunt down serial killers doesn't leave much time for dating. Not that Piper Anast is complaining. The last thing she needs is some guy brushing up against her and pumping his pornographic thoughts into her head.
When she meets Bennett Slade, a sexy, tormented vampire, Piper stumbles headlong into a telepathic connection with his missing daughter. She can't leave the kid to the evil surrounding her unwanted visions, nor can she resist her draw to Slade. He's the first guy she's been able to touch vision-free in, well, forever.
As she and Slade close in on the evil creature holding his daughter, Piper's powers morph into a deadly fury. To save Slade's daughter-and herself-Piper must face down demons she never knew she had and trust the one thing she keeps from everyone.
Her heart.
I love the In-Your-Face, Kick-Ass heroine who does what she wants, says what she feels without filtering, and feels little remorse for living be her own rules. I know, I know... How can a character like that be heroic? Because (and here is where Firasek does an amazing job) Piper is the perfect balance of everything the reader wishes to be and all the insecurities we each can relate to.
Then there's Slade... Yummy, strong, gentle Slade. Oh man, get me an ice cube. On second thought, I'm gonna need the entire Iceberg because that Vamp is H.O.T! And he is the perfect foil for Piper, calm for her storm. Not your normal brooding vampire, either. He has a sense of humor and he "gets" Piper.
The tension between them? Full out tingle-fest! (and that's what a good writer can do, right? Make the reader feel the characters' emotions...)
I usually don't read stories written in first person point of view... Okay, never. Seriously, if I pick one up and decide to try, I usually get frustrated and set it down before reaching the middle of the book.
I DID NOT put "Piper's Fury" down.
I Loved it!
Firasek's writing is so intense, and I became such a part of Piper, I stayed in the book until the end. There are  many twists and surprises, the dialogue is rich and filled with humor, the heroine keeps the reader on the edge... it is just a great read.
I'd recommend it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

RMFW Workshops - May early registration deadline approaching

If you haven't signed up for the May 21st Kirt Hickman workshop in Denver, now is the time to do so. The early registration deadline is the end of the month.

The Grand Junction workshop will be held June 11th (my daddy's birthday, just fyi). The early registration for that workshop is May 20th.

Check-in and breakfast starts at 8am and we'll serve you lunch.

For an added bonus, many of our award-winning Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers authors have donated their books as give-aways.

And one last enticement...both the Renaissance and the Hampton Inn have offered attendees a discounted rate if you decide to stay overnight the night before or the night after the workshop.

For those of you who have never been to one of Kirt's or Charlotte's workshops, you are in for a treat.

Let me know if you need more information.

who is making up for a busy week of no blogging
I'll stop now

Marn'e publishing process

Because she isn't telling the story, I'm going to...

The blurb and bio are into her editor. I do believe those were harder for her to write than the whole manuscript. But then Marne makes writing fantasy stories about love look pretty darn easy.

Things are moving right along. I can't wait until I get to purchase the first copy.

Stay tuned...

The best friend of an author

Summertime is almost here. Time to blow out the cobwebs.

Just like everyone else, I wear many hats in life. Wife, mother, friend, daughter, grand-daughter, sister, aunt, office manager, volunteer, critique partner, animal lover, dog walker (or at least I should be) and cat scratcher. And of course, writer. In the summer time, I’m also a gardener.

And summer is almost here! (I know, I only get two of those exclamation points in my whole life. Do blogs count, too?) I love flowers. I love grass. I love bees and birds and I love getting my hands dirty (although I really hate it when my cats have been in my garden).

On Saturdays, I head outside as soon as I get up and sometimes it’s getting dark before I remember to come back in or eat. My days seem like they are only a couple hours long. And normally, what is going on in my head is my current wip.

While I’m digging holes, pulling weeds and rearranging plants (you know, kinda like furniture, moving them from one side of the yard to the other), my characters talk to each other. While I’m deadheading or raking leaves, my make-believe world is blossoming and growing. I sit in my lawn chair or on a log and hand-water, (because I like to, not because I don’t have sprinklers) and I plan the next scene.

Then, when the sun goes down, I come inside to my computer and get it all down on paper, so to speak. For me, writing comes easier in the summertime. I don’t understand why, but digging in the dirt clears my mind and makes way for creativity.

I love the summer and it’s almost here! (Crap. I’ve used both of them now.)
I’d love to know who else gardens. And if you don’t, what helps clear your mind?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The beginning of a new romance novel

Well, a new experiment for me; a romance novel taking place on Maui, Hawaii.  Check out the progress on my page!

Susan Palmer

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lost Poetry Found and other stuff!

What I'm listening to: "Blessed Silence" by An Empty House
Do you ever have one of those days where you find something and go "Cool! This is fun!" Well, I found some of my old poetry. So, tell me what you think... unless it sucks...

Being nice--you know, the sweet,
Quiet wallflower who smiles 
Brightly as You release 
Frustration upon her shoulders.
A five foot, three inch Atlas
Character forced to merely Exist
as a Prop for this Giant Promethian Challenge
                                               Marne Kirstatter
Well, that satisfied my need to validate my poetry, which brings me to a subject I've been thinking about today. A fellow writer-friend of mine is on the down side of her writing. We've all experienced it... Or at least those of us who are more human than android have. Sometimes writers need validated, and that is a very difficult thing to get when you are not published or winning contests. We need someone to tell us that our dream is worth while, that our writing is valuable, and that we don't suck Easter eggs.
And sometimes, we don't get that. I hear all the time (and it's true), writing is a solitary occupation. 
BUT there are ways to make it less so:
Join an on-line writers' group
Join a critique group (RMFW has some, RWA has a million...)
Join a writers group (a live one)
Go to conferences (The Colorado Gold is a GREAT One, and I'm going to the Crested Butte Writers' this year, too)
Go to workshops (RMFW is offering some, see Vicki's earlier posts)
Enroll in a Creative Writing class
Okay, that's all I can think of off the top of my head. But the theme here is, GET OUT THERE and SOCIALIZE! if writing is a solitary life, it's because you're allowing it to be.
And I think that's as much for me, as for anyone else. A reminder not to sit in my house and mope, but to get out, get the stink blown off me (as my mother used to say), and get the brain juices flowing...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What if you woke up naked...

     Notice I'm going for the cheap 'sex sells' titles. I'll pull you in and then give you something that is not lewd or lascivious in the least. Tell you what, you read on and I'll work some sexy stuff in somewhere.

     'What if' questions. Do you use them? It's probably the only way I've ever started a story. 'The Knights of Naclurita' posted here under my story tab, started with, 'What if there had been dragons in the old west?' The story doesn't really answer that question, but it doesn't have to. It was merely a prompt to get me writing. The "What if" is a very useful thing.

     Now, I can't take credit for thinking up the 'What if'. It was pointed out to me as something writers do whether they know it or not. Stephen King did it for me in 'On Writing' and maybe somebody did it for him. I don't know. But once he brought it to my attention, 'What if' became my favorite tool. Every one of my stories owes its existence to countless 'What ifs'.

     The big one gets the story rolling and the juices flowing. Let's pose a what if for the sake of this post. What if there was a draft lottery like in the sixties and seventies and if your number came up, you had to work two years as a sex worker? As you can see, I'm working on fulfilling my promise of lewdness. And, by the way, any of you want to use that, go ahead, it's a gift.

     Okay, now we've got the backdrop and probably the central conflict from which all other conflict will spring. But I for one, need characters to tell me the story. So, what if there was a hermaphrodite whose number came up and what if this society put hermaphrodites to death as freaks of nature? Bingo, bango, bongo, main character with a built in big, huge, humungous problem.

     Now we need some more characters. What if hermaphrodites were the only ones who could form the bond needed to become dragon-riders? Now we have a really cool sentient creature on the way.

     What if the dragon-riders were trying to overthrow the government and their leader was insane? Now we've got a bad/good guy/person.

     What if our drafted hermaphrodite's grandfather was the hermie hating regional governor who didn't know his granddaughter was a hermie? Now we're getting somewhere.

     Here is where, as a pantser, I would name the characters I've got and start writing. Many more 'What ifs' will come but I will ask them of the characters, mostly. If I were a plotter, I would make notes, create an outline and brainstorm 'What ifs' with other plotters. Either way, the 'What ifs' worked.

     Skip to the end. The drafted hermaphrodite has become the leader of the dragon-riders and changed the two-sex society by inviting all the right people to a giant love-in at the dragon-riders' mountain fortress.

Okay, I'm off to bed now.
Sweet dreams, Mike

We are doing the happy-I just got the call-dance here

Marne just signed a contract with Crescent Moon Press for her romance The Fae Dragon Chronicles: Love Chosen. We've been jumping up and down and telling her to breathe for about a week, but she wouldn't let us announce until her signature was drying on the line.

The contract is well-deserved. Love Chosen is one of my favorite romance stories. You all will love it, too.

We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You've been pantsed

     Not really, not even virtually. I just want to talk a little about pantsers and plotters. Sounds silly and sinister when I put it like that.

     First, I am a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants and have very little inkling as to what's going to happen next. I have been asked that very question and variations thereof, "What's going to happen...?" In order to avoid the raised eyebrows and incredulous looks from my plotting critique partners, I sometimes make up a cock and bull story but that produces its own set of problems. They then want to brainstorm the spur-of-the-moment story I just gave them because that's what plotters do, they brainstorm. Brainstorming is when two or more plotters get together and plot.

     Brainstorming is aptly named because the progression from a spot of low pressure to a hurricane is analogous to a typical brainstorming session. The force of the hurricane is entirely dependent on the number of plotters and how warmed up they are. The plotters are the ocean over which the storm will form.

     Now comes the area of low pressure that will form the eye; the problem to be solved, the idea to be incorporated, the turning point to be tweaked, the... Well, you get the gist. This is put forth with, at times, detailed explanation, and others, almost as an aside. I've seen an experienced plotter start a brainstorm with three words, "What about Izzie?"

     Once the low is formed the ocean of plotters feed it with warm moist what-ifs' and how-abouts' forming clouds of possibilities. The bank thickens amid the postulations until a what-if brushes up against a how-about and they circle one another as if sizing each other up. The ocean of plotters falls silent for the briefest instant as the clouds begin to rotate. A beat. Then a breath as consequences and permutations percolate in the plotter's brains. And-thens join he-coulds, rising up to meet she-mights and why-woulds. They spiral in toward the center. The rotation has begun in earnest. We have a plotical depression.

      Timelines, motivations and reactions circle the eye at ever increasing speeds. The wind twists and intertwines them until, at last, someone spots a pattern, a pleasing progression of events among the chaos. A satellite image is recorded and the storm blows itself out. Sometimes the storm makes landfall where the rain and storm surge wash away old prose in favor of the new. Not a bad thing really, plotters love a good storm but it involves a lot of clean-up.

     Pantsers on the other hand, not so much. Stephen King, in his book, 'On Writing' (I'm paraphrasing here) compared a story to a buried artifact to be uncovered by the archeologist writer. I think that's a fair analogy. I, myself, think of stories as floating in the ether. I cannot go into the ether to retrieve the story but my characters can. I need my characters to go into the ether and find the story. Characters, like all sentient beings, have their own take so, probably, they change things on me a little. But, what the hell, I need them to tell me the story.

     Now, I'm not advocating pantsing over plotting. If anything, my plotting friends are more prolific and have less to revise later on. I'm just musing here while I wait for my characters to come back from vacation.


Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' May workshop in Denver

Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness
Kirt Hickman
A Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers one-day workshop
May 21, 2011
Renaissance Hotel, Denver

Kirt Hickman presented at RMFW's 2010 Colorado Gold conference and his workshop was so well attended, we have invited him back to spend a full day with us.

Kirt Hickman was born in 1966 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He earned a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1989 and a Master's degree in opto-electronics in 1991, both from the University of New Mexico. Since then, he has worked in research and manufacturing fields related to high-energy lasers, microelectronics, and micro-machines, fields that he leverages to enrich his science fiction novels, Worlds Asunder and Venus Rain.

Kirt has also written the children’s picture book I Will Eat Anything and the fantasy trilogy The Age of Prophecy (forthcoming).

Kirt teaches writing, self-editing and marketing classes through SouthWest Writers and UNM Continuing Education. He has also contributed a monthly, full-page column titled "Revising Fiction’ to the SouthWest Sage. His methodical, step-by-step approach to self-editing has helped many make sense of the mass of advice available to the novice writer. He shares his guidance on writing and revising in his comprehensive and practical self-editing guide Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness.

Workshop Description

With all the books, talks, classes, and workshops available on writing and self-editing, a writer can quickly become overwhelmed by advice. In every work of fiction, there’s so much to be concerned about: plot, characterization, scene structure, setting, backstory, dialogue, and pacing. You must maintain suspense, portray your characters’ emotions, show events rather than tell about them, make effective use of comparisons, and achieve consistency of style and voice. You must avoid passive voice, information dumps, repeated information, digressions, clich├ęs, and unnecessary words and phrases. Finally, you must mind the details of grammar, spelling, word usage, punctuation, and format.

How do you catch it all? How do you know when you've got it right? How do you even know where to start? In this workshop, Kirt Hickman will break down this exhaustive list of topics into a practical approach to self-editing that covers everything from planning your novel, to first draft, through self-editing, to final, publication-quality manuscript.

Registration opens at 8am, at which time Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers will serve a continental breakfast. We will break around noon for a buffet lunch, again provided by RMFW. The workshop will end at approximately 4pm.

As a new addition this year, a panel of published authors will be available for one-on-one session for attendees to ask industry related questions or request a critique of up to two pages of their writing. RMFW’s own Carol Berg, Jeanne Stein and Betsy Dornbusch will sit on the panel. The author appointments will be set up much like a pitch appointment allowing attendees 10 minutes with the author.

Who Else! Books will be on site selling our presenter’s and authors’ books.

Cost for this workshop is:

Early registration (before April 30th) - $70
After April 30th - $85
At the door - $95 (attendance limited to 75)

Please see Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers website ( for registration information and payment options. For more information email Vicki Law at or call 970-497-6452.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' June Workshop in Grand Junction

Come join Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers ( at a workshop in beautiful Grand Junction, Colorado.

Charlotte Cook presented RMFW's 2010 May Education Event in Denver last year. Her workshop was a big hit, so we asked her back to present at our first Education Event on the Western Slope.

Charlotte Cook, MFA, is the former president and acquisition editor of KOMENAR Publishing. Now a full-time story editor and consultant on all matters regarding pre-agenting, Charlotte is a popular presenter at writers conferences and events (Willamette, Rocky Mountain Writers, California Central Coast, San Francisco Writers Conferences, South Carolina Writers Workshop, California Writers Club, among others), and a successful teacher and workshop facilitator. She has brought to publication far more books, articles and stories than the six award-winning novels she published for KOMENAR. As a result, Writers Digest Magazine interviewed Charlotte about her career and publishing company in February 2008.

Charlotte judged four fiction categories for the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and will be the head judge of two fiction categories for the 2011 competition and awards.

In the workshop, we will delve into the real differences between developing a manuscript to completion and polishing the manuscript for an audience of agents and publishers. This practical, interactive and entertaining workshop covers drafts, editors and the best advice from the right people at the right time. Topics include:

o What you need to know about your manuscript to bring it to market
o Are you consistent in your choices of Point of View and Point of Narration
o What about Back Story, Chronology and Dialogue
o How do you determine the premise of your book for agents and editors
Charlotte requests that all attendees bring pages from their manuscripts to work on in class. She will use some of them as examples, meaning those volunteers who are chosen will get specific feedback on their work.

In addition to the workshop, three published authors, all long-standing members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers will be present. Robin Owens ( ), Mario Acevedo ( ) and Christine Goff ( ) will meet with attendees in scheduled, 10 minute appointments to answer industry related questions or critique the first two pages of a manuscript.

The workshop will be held at Two Rivers Plaza, Main Street, Grand Junction, on June 11, 2011, from 8am-4pm. RMFW will feed participants a continental breakfast during registration as well as a buffet lunch.

Also, Grand Valley Book Store, an independent bookseller located on Main Street in Grand Junction, will be present to sell Charlotte's, Robin's, Mario's and Christine's books.

Cost for the workshop is $70 if paid online or postmarked by May 20th, $85 for registration after May 20th and $95 at the door. The early registration date has changed in case you've seen previous emails. To register by mail, please send a check with a completed registration form (see attached) to:

Vicki Law
PO Box 452
Montrose, CO 81402

Soon, we will have more information and an online payment option on our website ( ).

Please let me know if you have any questions. And, please forward this on to any and all writers/groups you think might be interested.

Vicki Law
Education Chair
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
(970) 497-6452