Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 Special Events, Part 1

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 is just around the corner.  Today, Karen Fox, PPWC Conference Director, shares some Conference extras that you won’t want to miss.  PPWC offers so many extras this year that they couldn’t all fit in one post.  Check back for more Special Events at PPWC 2018.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


The Pikes Peak Writers Conference will run from April 27-29, 2018 with the full-day prequel on April 26, 2018.  But there’s more than that.  Here is information on some of the special events we’re offering that you’ll likely want to participate in as well (part 1 of 2).

Aside from over 40 workshops covering all aspects of commercial fiction writing, PPWC offers a chance to query a buying editor or agent or to visit with renowned published authors.   You’ll also have the opportunity to sit with these editors, agents and fantastic speakers at the meals.  The conference price includes seven meals throughout the weekend.  (Did I mention prime rib on Saturday night? Yum.)

 

Stitch, Pitch and Color

Start off your conference on Thursday night, 26 April 2018 by spending some time with Sourcebooks Editorial Director, Deb Werksman for Stitch, Pitch and Color.  This will be relaxing opportunity in the hotel library where attendees can pitch their works, knit or crochet along with Deb, or bring in a coloring book or other non-messy craft to share the time.  Even if you’re shy, this is a great opportunity to eavesdrop on an industry-knowledgeable editor while keeping your hands busy.

 

Zebulon Winners -Past and Present – Mix and Mingle

Are you a PPWC Contest winner?  The Pikes Peak Writers Conference has offered a writing contest for unpublished writers for decades.  Known at one time as the Paul Gillette Contest for Excellence in Fiction Writing, the Zebulon, as it’s now known, recognizes the talents of writers every year in a variety of genres.  This year, the conference has decided to open up a slot in the Eagles Nest room before the Contest Awards Banquet on Saturday night to allow all contest winners–past and present–to mingle and share in their experience of winning these awards.  Who has gone on to sell?  Who has an agent?  What secrets are there to maximizing this experience?  Networking and sharing information are two of the most valuable assets a writer can take away from a conference.

Fortune Pen Scholarship Fundraiser

The conference on-site fundraising opportunities go toward filling the scholarships for the next year and supporting the conference so we can bring in even better faculty, workshops and activities.    One way an attendee can help out this year is to buy a $10.00 PPWC fortune pen.  A $10.00 pen, you say?!! But this is no ordinary pen–inside is a piece of paper that lets you know which one of a wide montage of amazing prizes you might have won (all valued $10.00 and up).  There could be books on craft or fiction.  There could be a free night at the Marriott.  There could be wine.  Or a 50-page critique from an attending editor or agent.  Or a free prequel for 2019.  An attendee has to purchase a pen to find out.

 

Blind Date with a Book

Do you judge a book by its cover?  Most of us tend to do that.  Well, now you have to pick a book to read without seeing the cover.  The second fundraising opportunity at conference allows an attendee to go on a “Blind Date with a Book.”  For a donation, an attendee can get a book wrapped in brown-paper with only a short synopsis and genre on it.   Might be a mystery.  Or thriller.  Or science fiction.  Or romance.  But which one?

Keep looking for part 2 of this blog, which will detail even more on this year’s PPWC extra activities.


Karen is PPWC 2018 Conference Director.  When not embroiled in the adventure and romance of her latest characters, Karen shares her house in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband, her granddaughter, and four cats.  She has published eight paranormal romance novels, one short story and one young adult novella.  Her second book, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE, was a 1998 RITA Finalist for the Romance Writers of America.  She’s currently at work on a young adult urban fantasy and new romance.

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Meet the Member – Ana Crespo

Today, Kathie Scrimgeour (aka KJ Scrim), Meet the Member and Sweet Success editor, shares her recent interview with member Ana Crespo.  We’re pleased to share successes and highlight our diverse membership.  Kathie can be reached at  sweetsuccess@pikespeakwriters.com.


 

KJ Scrim: What inspired you to write children’s books?

Ana Crespo: When I had my first child, I couldn’t find any books featuring Brazilian characters or culture.  At the time, that was okay, because English is not my first language, so I was learning new words everyday by reading to my daughter. We did have Brazilian books sent to us from relatives. However, by the time my second child was born, about seven years later, it started to bother me. I wanted my kids to be able to share some of their cultural background with their friends. I wanted them to see themselves in books, to feel they were represented. I was always very creative and decided to give writing for children a try. My first book in English, THE SOCK THIEF: A SOCCER STORY, was inspired by my father’s childhood memories.

KJ: What is the general process for getting a children’s book from your desk to publication?

Ana: First and foremost, you have to write it.  It is amazing the number of people who tell me they have an idea for a book, it is a great idea, and etcetera, but they never sit down to write it. And, as with any other project, you must revise it, share it with critique partners, revise it more, and repeat the process as many times as necessary. Then, ideally, you find an agent who will submit your book to the many publishers that, currently, do not accept unagented submissions. In my case, however, with THE SOCK THIEF: A SOCCER STORY, and the MY EMOTIONS AND ME series, I didn’t have an agent. I met my editor during a conference, very much like the one offered by PPW. I had a paid critique with her. She enjoyed THE SOCK THIEF, although she had a variety of concerns and comments about it. I made most of the changes she suggested, cut a lot of words, and a month after submission, I had an offer.

KJ: What are a few of the challenges you face when writing children’s books?

Ana: When you only write picture books and don’t illustrate them, you face a variety of challenges. First, you have to write with illustrations in mind, even though you are not going to be the person illustrating the book. That means that you must leave out detailed descriptions, as they will usually be depicted by the pictures that do not exist yet. On that same page, there may be key information for the plot that will be relayed to the reader only via the illustrations.  Illustration notes can be a tricky subject in picture book writing, because not all editors like seeing them. You must save them for those times in which they are extremely necessary. As an example, JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS is told in first person. The boy, JP, imagines the octopus, but the octopus is really a car wash. Of course, in order to explain to the editor what the story was about, illustration notes were necessary. In sum, the way I see it, picture books are the product of a team. As the writer, I am just the first step in that collaboration. And that in itself, might be a challenge for some writers.

KJ: You were born in Brazil. How does this influence J.P. and Felipe, the two main characters of your books?

Ana: I don’t think my Brazilian roots influenced the JP character. However, Felipe’s story is based on my father’s childhood memories. My father and uncle used to take my grandmother’s stockings to make soccer balls. They weren’t poor, but it was the early 60s, cheap soccer balls weren’t common, and they were a family of seven. They stuffed my grandmother’s stockings with newspaper and spent a long time playing soccer in the backyard or on the streets of Rio. This was a widespread practice. Even Pelé, Brazil’s most famous player, played with newspaper-stuffed soccer balls when he was a child in the 40s. So, Felipe’s resourcefulness is something I find to be very characteristic of Brazilians.

KJ: One of your book series is about J.P. who says, “I am fast. I am strong. I am brave. But sometimes I feel afraid.” What inspired this as his mantra?

Ana: The JP books were inspired by a trip to the car wash with my son. He was terrified of it, partially because his mom (guilty!) pretended they were going into a monster’s cave. The beginning of the story is basically the same in every book of the series. JP is learning how to deal with his feelings. In JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS, he learns how to deal with fear. In the next book, JP AND THE POLKA-DOTTED ALIENS, he learns how to deal with anger, so the character says, “Sometimes I feel angry,” a line that will lead into what causes him to be angry and how he will deal with it.

KJ: What advice would you give a writer who was just getting started in writing children’s books?

Ana: If you plan to write picture books, I’d say the most important thing to do is to find an organization that focuses on them. That will help you understand the industry, lead you to like-minded people and, hopefully, connect you to critique partners. We often hear people say, “Oh, I could have written this,” but writing picture books is a bit more complicated than it looks like, and you will need all the help you can get.


ana crespoAna Crespo is the winner of the 2016 International Latino Book Award for The Sock Thief in the category, Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Books. She is also a member of Pikes Peak Writers for about five years and last year she attended the conference for the first time. She enjoyed volunteering and loved meeting some of the agents and editors.

Website: https://www.anacrespobooks.com/

Social media: www.facebook.com/AnaCrespoBooks, www.twitter.com/AnaCrespoBooks, www.pinterest.com/AnaCrespoBooks

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Marketing at 33,000 Feet

Your novel is written, edited, and published.  Congratulations!  Now, about that marketing plan of yours… Today Christine Goff shares some valuable insight about marketing your book outside of your hometown while keeping an eye on expense.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


Marketing at 33,000 Feet

Promoting a book outside your local area almost always involves planes, trains and automobiles, and usually entails spending vast sums of money that you’ll technically never earn back in a signing.

So why do it? you ask.

There are reasons to go on the road, but it needs to be done with some forethought.

 

Figure out your goals. 

Everyone’s goals are different. In my case, I wanted to expand my audience. I considered doing a bookstore-to-bookstore tour, but I’m not good at sitting at a table and hawking my book. Only certain stores have authors speak. Because of that, I chose to focus on fan conventions and strategic outreach (bookstores in the area where the cons were being held, mailings to specialty book stores, etc.).

My advice, define your goals. Everyone comes at this from different stages in our careers. We’re all after different things. Ask yourself, what do you want to get out of attending? Are you looking for an agent? Do you want to connect with other authors or with fans? Do you intend to promote your latest release? Do you want to make connections in the community? How do you best interact with readers?

Once you have the answers, you’ll find there are hundreds of bookstores and a myriad of writer conventions.

 

Establish a Budget. 

Based on my book advance and my goals, I determined I was willing to spend $5,000 on promoting RED SKY. That included expenditures for swag, giveaways, book signings and conferences. It seems like a lot of money. In truth, $5,000 doesn’t stretch all that far.

 

Nail down your schedule. 

I started locally with a signings in Denver and Evergreen (my hometown). Friends, family and local fans get first consideration. Then I committed to the following: the American Library Association’s Annual Convention (ALA) in June in Chicago, ThrillerFest in July in New York City, and Bouchercon in October in Toronto.

Why these three events? you ask.

In addition to spreading out on the calendar, these three events offered the best opportunity to get my books and myself in front of a lot of people.

ALA – libraries constitute a large market. Who wouldn’t want to see their books in libraries all over the United States? Sisters in Crime (SinC) sponsors a booth, and all I needed to do was sign up for a one hour time slot, giveaway books, and pass out swag.

ThrillerFest – this convention is devoted specifically to thrillers, and its location (New York City) allowed me to meet with my agent and editor.

Bouchercon – this is the world mystery convention and draws the largest number of fans. Plus, because of its location this year, it could introduce my books to a Canadian fan base.

 

Calculate expenses.

Now is the time to be honest. We’ve all heard of author tours where publishers fly their authors from city-to-city to sign books and meet fans. It rarely, if ever, happens these days. In most cases you will be expected to buy your own plane ticket, pick up your own hotel room, and pay for your own meals. You will also need to contact booksellers to make sure they have your books in the bookstore and order swag to promote your work. The more you can setup and/or do ahead of time, the better.

But, I digress. Extrapolating my costs, I allotted myself $1,000 each for ALA and Bouchercon and $3,000 for ThrillerFest. There was my $5,000 right there and I hadn’t even bought promo materials or factored in mailings, local travel and giveaways. My budget was blown!

 

The bottom line.

I debated cut out one of the conventions, but in the end chose to forge ahead. All of these were important to me, so I decided to tighten the belt instead. I flew at inconvenient hours, and shared a room.

So how did I do? you ask.

ALA cost me a total of $1,042.19 with no tangible return on my dollars. But that is where the intangible kicks in. I may have only signed and given away 50 copies of RED SKY (which I talked my publisher into donating), but I put hundreds of cards into the hands of interested librarians from all over. Some I’ve even heard from.

ThrillerFest cost me a total of $2,407.55, and I signed a grand total of two books. But, I was able to spend one-on-one time with my editor, my publicist and my agent; managed to get my books ordered into The Mysterious Bookshop; and was on a great panel moderated by David Morrell.

Bouchercon ran $947.87, and I signed a grand total of five or six copies. I also met the proprietor of The Sleuth of Baker Street, reconnected with three other booksellers, attended the Crooked Lane annual bash, and was introduced to a packed room of Canadian readers while sitting next to Peter Robinson, one of Canada’s bestselling authors.

 

The grand total.

All in all, I spent $4,397.61 promoting RED SKY, leaving me extra for swag, local travel and giveaways. Not bad!

But was it worth it? 

Yes. For me it’s the intangible benefits that come from having personal interactions with someone who’s read my book and loved it. It’s the connections made at conventions that landed me an agent, several book contracts, and innumerable high-profile bookstore signings, guest blog spots, library talks and keynote speaker gigs. Through a concerted effort, I’ve upped my profile, generated buzz about my books, and achieved my goals.

Then, just when I thought I could put the suitcase away….


Chris Goff is an award-winning author of eight novels. Her most recent, RED SKY, is an international thriller set in Ukraine and Asia where DSS Agent Raisa Jordan tests the boundaries of diplomacy as she races to prevent the start of a new Cold War. Goff’s series debut, DARK WATERS, was nominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award and Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook.

Website: www.christinegoff.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christinegoff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorchristinegoff/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chris_goff_author

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Cover Reveal – Darby Karchut’s Del Toro Moon

Del Toro Moon Book Cover

Please join me in congratulating Pikes Peak Writers member Darby Karchut and cover artist Risa Rodil as we take part in the cover reveal for Darby’s Del Toro Moon, due out this fall.   [ed]


Bad enough Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in the family’s centuries-old business: riding down and destroying wolf-like creatures, known as skinners. He must also learn how to match his father’s skills at monster hunting. Odds of doing that? Yeah, about a million to one. Because Matt’s father is the legendary Javier Del Toro—hunter, scholar, and a true caballero: a gentleman of the horse.

Now, with the skinners multiplying, both in numbers and ferocity, Matt is desperate to keep his father and hot-tempered older brother from killing each other, prevent his new friend, Perry—a horse-crazy girl who recently moved to their small town of Huerfano, Colorado—from discovering the true nature of his odder-than-oddball family, and save a group of paleontologists from getting skinner-ed.

Luckily, Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky Mountains.

Serious horse power.

Those skinners don’t stand a chance.  

Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut

Coming September 2018 from Owl Hollow Press

Middle Grade fantasy

www.darbykarchut.com

www.owlhollowpress.com

Goodreads


The cover was designed by Risa Rodil ( www.risarodil.com ) a popular MG/YA book cover artist. Her other clients include Disney, Nickelodeon TV, Penguin Random House, and Harper Collins.


Darby Karchut is a multi-award winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy at her writing desk. Her books include the best selling middle grade series: THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. Best thing ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film.

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Meet the Member – Matt Bille

Today, Kathie Scrimgeour (aka KJ Scrim), Meet the Member and Sweet Success editor, shares her recent interview with member Matt Bille.  We’re pleased to share successes and highlight our diverse membership.  Kathie can be reached at sweetsuccess@pikespeakwriters.com.


 

KJ Scrim: You newest book, Raven’s Quest was just released in December 2017. How does it feel to see a project come to fruition?

Matt Bille: This always feels great to a writer because it means you can start the next project or turn full attention to one you’ve left in limbo.  I and my wife/coauthor Deb tried to bring back C.S. Lewis-style fantasy adventure with an underlying Christian/family theme, and I think we nailed it. Readers will let us know.

KJ Scrim: You write both fiction as well as non-fiction. In your creative process, how are they different? Similar?

Matt Bille: That’s an interesting question because I write science and history, both of which require that you research from the origins of idea on through the latest developments or, in the case of space history, the most recent declassifications of documents that may have lain in government vaults for decades.  With nonfiction, I’ll craft each chapter as a go along, with all documented information included or reference.  With fiction, I do some research at the start to know what’s possible, but then what matters is getting a whole, coherent story down. If I need to know what brand of snowmobile is most popular around Lake Iliamna, I don’t need that right now, I can use a generic name and fill it in later.

Characters are different because you have to invent them instead of borrowing them from history, but there’s still an overlap.  The antagonist in Apex borrows a lot from wealthy adventurer Steve Fossett, only with no ethics.

KJ Scrim: You have been a former Air Force Titan II ICBM commander, an extra in the film 1941, along with many other endeavors. How have these influenced your writing? (feel free to use any other examples).

Matt Bille: Everything in life helps you write. My most acclaimed nonfiction, The First Space Race, wouldn’t have been possible without the time in the Air Force. I’ve always been a space geek, but Titan training included learning, in painstaking detail, all the components of a rocket and its support infrastructure.  When it was time to write the history of the first satellites, I could look at a diagram of an old rocket and explain its features to non-engineers like myself. A film or TV extra doesn’t learn much about the production process, but it does teach you to think of the whole scene, the way the director must, and not just the actors in the foreground.

KJ Scrim: Do you have any “self-help for writers” books that you use regularly? How do they help? Please share your list of your top 2 or 3.

Matt Bille: For novelists, find an old one called How to Write Best-Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz. The industry has changed, but the principles haven’t.  Maas’ The Fire in Fiction is the best of his many books, or so it seems to me. If you are not by nature a strict grammarian, you need Elements of Style.  You can break grammatical rules in fiction, but you must know what they are. King’s On Writing is valuable for King’s discussions of how to focus on the basics of your story and minimize the “fluff.”


Matt Bille has been writing since he was 16 when he sold a little humor piece to his local newspaper, then went on to publish his first book, Rumors of Exsitence,  in 1996. Matt has been with PPW since the 90’s and has only missed two conferences since he became a member. He had his great moment in nonfiction, when he offered Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson a copy of The First Space Race at a symposium and Tyson replied, “I have that.”

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Sweet Success Michelle Crystal’s LAVENDER BLUE

Michelle Crystal’s wonderful debut novel, Lavender Blue (adult mainstream fiction, 342 pages) was released, November 30, 2017, by Author House. It is available Author House.com, Amazon, Apple Books, and Barnes and Noble.

Rachel Tate enjoys an idyllic life—a handsome husband, three healthy sons, a comfortable lifestyle—but when disaster strikes, she stands to lose it all. Shocking repercussions follow their insurmountable tragedy, leaving Rachel drowning in grief, self-pity, and doubt. 

As a favor to her mother, Rachel assists in cleaning out her ailing grandmother’s home. There, she stumbles upon journals authored by her great-great-grandmother, Anna Murdock Pierce. The two women exist centuries apart, but live nearly parallel lives. Will learning about the past bring insight to Rachel’s present—or will the daunting trials she faces get the best of her?

Past, present, and future collide, on Rachel’s journey to understanding.


Michelle Crystal bridges the gap between commercial and literary fiction. She began writing poetry in elementary school, receiving publication at an early age. Her poetry lends fluidity and symmetry to her fiction. Addicted to metaphor, she can find one in just about anything. Luckily, her family endures her regular, boundless allegories, she discovers in everyday events. While Michelle loves metaphor, clichés curdle her stomach and are not allowed utterance in her home. If she’s not writing, Michelle is probably out scouring thrift shops for some rare find.

Email: michelle@readmichellecrystal.com

Website: readmichellecrystal.com

Crafting Authentic Books for Boys

Today’s post is from Darby Karchut, one of the six authors who participated in Write Your Heart Out 2018.  

Each of these talented individuals gave us a taste of the in-depth session they’ll be presenting at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018: Cindi Madsen, LS Hawker, M.B. Partlow, Kristy Ferrin, Debbie Maxwell Allen, and Darby Karchut.

For those who missed Your Heart Out, today Darby Karchut shares her expertise on Writing for Boys.Darby has a passion and an uncanny ability to get into the heads of middle-school aged boys. Read up here and consider attending her session at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018.  You won’t regret it.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


For folks who weren’t able to attend the 6th Annual Write Your Heart Out (the Pikes Peak Writers Conference’s sneak preview) on Saturday, March 3rd, I’m pleased to share an overview from my presentation entitled “This One’s for the Boys: Crafting Authentic Books for Boys.”

Based on the stages of their brain development, boys are more likely to:

  • act on impulse
  • misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
  • engage in dangerous or risky behavior
  • unable to see potential consequences of their actions
  • struggle to modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors
  • tend to lag socially behind girls, and not catch up both physically and mentally until the teen years

That said:

  • they are capable of great insight and worldly reflections, mature emotions and mature decision-making, but they cannot sustain it for long periods
  • hence the rollercoaster we often see in older children and teens
  • Children mature differently at this age; okay to write unsophisticated teens
  • But, they all have one foot in childhood and one foot in adulthood, especially in MG and younger teen books
  • Dialogue should reflect this back-and-forth

Think about:

  • Starting your story with a bang (physical or emotional)
  • Throughout the story, ask boy questions:

How do I position myself with others?

How do I become a man?

Whom do I model myself after?

What do I aspire to do and to be?

  • Writing up, not down (honor your reader’s intelligence)
  • Making every character the hero of his own story (even the villain)
  • Using smart humor: body fluids/sounds can only go so far
  • Appealing to your reader’s sense of mischief; make them laugh, especially after an intense scene

Something I noticed:

  • Boys act and talk side-by-side
  • Girls act and talk face-to-face
  • Boys touch each other more than they used to (hands on shoulders, etc.)

What my male students told me:

  • Don’t minimize emotions (boys have them, just express them differently)
  • They are more clued into things than adults give them credit for, but sometimes, they don’t care
  • The boys wondered why book after book have horrible parents, so don’t be afraid to incorporate decent adult figures

Writing for boys—especially our middle school guys—is my passion. Why? I don’t know. It just seems that my world view’s default setting is from the perspective of a twelve year old boy. Does it matter? Nope. Not one bit. I write me. You write you. It’s all good. But I can tell you that boys who read grow up to become men who think and feel. Reason enough.


Darby Karchut is a multi-award winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy at her writing desk. Her books include the best selling middle grade series: THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. Best thing ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film. Her latest book, DEL TORO MOON, releases Fall 2018 from Owl Hollow Press. She is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary. Visit the author at www.darbykarchut.com

 

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Meet the Member – Mike Torreano

Today, Kathie Scrimgeour (aka KJ Scrim), Meet the Member and Sweet Success editor, shares her recent interview with member Mike Torreano.  We’re pleased to share successes and highlight our diverse membership.  Kathie can be reached at  sweetsuccess@pikespeakwriters.com.


 

KJ Scrim: How long have you been writing and what is the genre you prefer to write?

Mike Torreano: I started writing when I retired about six years ago. I seem to be inescapably drawn to mid-to-late 19th century America. I have two traditional western mysteries out (The Reckoning and in a couple months The Renewal), both set in South Park 1868 and 1872. Also, my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, just brought out The Renewal as an audio book as well.

KJ Scrim: Do you have anything in particular you are working on right now? Tell us a little about it.

M.T.: I’m writing another western, but it’s not the third in the trilogy, it’s set in 1871 New Mexico territory, and my hero travels north during a cattle drive. He has a mysterious background that is slowly revealed as he rides. For a long time he doesn’t even realize someone is hunting him. I’m a pantser, so the rest will come together as I go.

KJ Scrim: On your website, you say that you consumed Zane Grey’s work. Of the vast array of his writing, are there any that stood out for you? Why?

M.T.: Riders of the Purple Sage is probably his most enduring work and contains several story line threads which add complexity and heighten interest as the reader waits to see them all come together. I’ve more or less structured my storylines with the same multiple threads.

KJ Scrim: What other authors influenced your writing?

M.T.: Certainly Louis L’Amour and Larry McMurtry, but also the poet Robert Service and novelist Jack London. My stories seem to be set in the Old West or in the northlands. I tend to gravitate to descriptive, but sparse writers.

KJ Scrim: Writing conferences, workshops, and critique groups are an important part of the new writer’s experiences (and more experienced writers too!). How have they helped you?

M.T.: I always come away with a stack of conference notes, but honestly, if I can come away from a conference with one or two good ideas it’s been a success. The trick then is to force myself to apply those ideas in my writing, so those gems don’t just gather dust.

KJ Scrim: Do you attend the events outside PPW’s conference and, if so, which ones are your favorite?

M.T.: I’ve always enjoyed the Write Brain sessions and Open Critiques.

KJ Scrim: Do you have any “self-help for writers” books that you use regularly? How do they help? Please share your list of your top 2 or 3.

M.T.: I would recommend everyone writing historicals use a period reference book or two. They’re available online and will give you a clearer picture of what life was like during a particular time.

I’ve found The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, to be very helpful, along with Donald Maas’ Fire In Fiction.

KJ Scrim: If you met someone who was thinking about starting to write, what advice would you give them?

M.T.: Whether you’re a pantser like me, or a plotter, take time to think in detail about your main characters. Once you know them well, their scenes will likely spill off the page.

The second thing I would recommend is to find a compatible critique group of similar genre if possible. Mine is very valuable in helping polish my manuscripts.

KJ Scrim: Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t discussed?

M.T.: Craft your storylines with care. Pick something you just have to tell so you’ll be able to finish what you start.


Mike Torreano is a western mystery writer. He joined PPW about six years ago. Mike devoured Zane Grey which sparked a lifelong love of American West of the 19th century. He has one book published, The Reckoning, with two more in the works, The Renewal, Fireflies at Dusk.  Website: miketorreano.com. Email: mtorr4650@comcast.net

 

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Congratulations to 2018 Colorado Book Awards Finalists

Colorado Humanities has announced finalists for 2018 Colorado Book Awards, and I’m proud to say that several members of Pikes Peak Writers are on the list.

Well done Chris Goff, Peg Brantley, L.D. Colter, Barb Nickless, Margaret Mizushima, Pat Stoltey and Laura E. Reeve!

 

The only nonprofit Colorado organization dedicated to providing opportunities to explore what it means to be human through our history, literature and culture, Colorado Humanities was founded in 1974. Affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Library of Congress Center for the Book (as the host of the Colorado Center for the Book), Motheread, Inc. and the Smithsonian, Colorado Humanities partners with communities throughout the state to deliver high-quality, educational programs and resources. You can find out more about this exceptional organization here.


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers BlogGabrielle V. Brown has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon. She is extensively published in technical and academic nonfiction and currently writes humor, short stories and literary fiction. Gabrielle has lived all over the United States and now resides in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Sweet Success Margaret Mizushima’s HUNTING HOUR

Margaret Mizushima’s mystery novel, HUNTING HOUR: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, was named by RT Reviews a 2017 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee in the Mystery/Thriller/Suspense category. Wonderful news Margaret!!

Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo find a missing junior high student dead, but before they can catch the killer, another child disappears—and this time it’s one of Cole Walker’s daughters. Mattie and Robo must lead the hunt to capture a kidnapper before they’re too late. HUNTING HOUR can be found at bookstores and online booksellers.

This novel was published 8-8-2017 by Crooked Lane Books (ISBN 978-1-68331-277-2, hardcover, 279 pages) and is available on Amazon.


Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series, which includes Killing Trail (2015), an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award nominee; Stalking Ground (2016), a Colorado Book Award and International Book Award finalist, and a Reader’s Favorite gold medal winner; and Hunting Hour (2017), an RT Book Reviews Top Pick. She lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle herd. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.