PPW News

Colorado Writers Collaborative Offers a Free Conference-lite

In a year when so many writers conferences had to be cancelled, Pikes Peak Writers joined forces with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers to present the Colorado Writers Collaborative. This is a free YouTube channel going live September 1st and offering over thirty videos for writers covering topics ranging from writing vivid settings to negotiating media deals. Learn from NYT bestselling authors like Rachel Howzell Hall, John Gilstrap, and Bob Mayer; local favorites like Carol Berg, Stant Latore, and Johnny Worthen; editors Tiffany Yates Martin and Anita Mumm, and many, many others. Now, you can have a conference-esque experience for free without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. Enjoy!

 

Memorial for Longtime PPW Member Steven Nelson

steve nelson headshotSteven LeRoy Nelson’s Memorial will be on Saturday, June 2nd, at 11:00 a.m., at the All Souls Unitarian Church. All Souls is located at the corner of Tejon and Dale, close to Colorado College. We will be celebrating his life and his passions: writing, family, and serving others.

Please bring your favorite finger food, casserole, etc., OR beverage. Wine/beer/spirits are welcome.

Your role during this memorial is to honor the passing of a good man, and to celebrate not only his life, but YOUR life, and the gifts you’ve given and received through your connections with others.

I look forward to sharing this celebration of my husband’s life with you, and I am grateful for the love and compassion I’ve received from so many of you. Thank you.

Please RSVP to Georgeanne Nelson if you’re planning on attending: blood_and_thunder@comcast.net.

Sweet Success for Margaret Mizushima

By: Darby Karchut

Congratulations to Margaret Mizushima on the September 7th release of her latest book, STRIKING RANGE, book seven in her Timber Creek K-9 Mystery from Crooked Lane Books

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this episode, the past and present collide when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are torn between investigating her father’s cold case and the death of a young mother. An ice storm batters the area, taking its toll on the investigative team, while Mattie and Robo search for the woman’s missing infant. STRIKING RANGE can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and booksellers worldwide.

Margaret Mizushima

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Pikes Peak Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. Visit the author at margaretmizushima.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram


Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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.
Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

NaNoWriMo – Not Just for Aspiring Authors

By: Catherine Dilts

NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – is primarily touted as an exercise to drive aspiring authors to write 50,000 words. Hitting that goal may mean completion of a novel draft for the very first time. At the very least, NaNoWriMo inspires confidence that hitting The End is possible.

Image provided by NaNoWriMo

But what about the published author? Is there any value in leaping into the month-long torment for those who have achieved not only novel completion, but publication?

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time ten years ago. The experience was mind-blowing for the following reasons:

  1. Gravitas: People leave you alone when you tell them you’re part of an impressive international event.
  2. Competition: Applying butt to chair and fingers to keyboard is easier when you’re in friendly competition with yourself and others.
  3. Discipline: You learn the discipline required to finish a novel when pushing toward a goal that can only be achieved with consistent writing sessions as you strive to hit a daily or weekly word count.
  4. Realistic expectations: A first draft should be just that – a draft. The rougher, the better. NaNoWriMo pushes you to get the words down. Editing and refining take place later.
  5. Support and inspiration: Pep talks, local write-ins, on-line forums.
  6. FREE! 

2020 found many authors in the COVID doldrums. Fear was palpable. Lockdowns isolated us. Depression was rampant across all age groups. While some of us took solace in writing, for others focusing on fiction was impossible. Authors conquered the strange new world of on-line meetings, but let’s face it, a lot is lost in living a virtual life.

One definition of virtual by The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition, is “Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network.”

Enter 2021, with the promise of a return to normal that did not materialize. Still, some social activity opened up. If authors didn’t return to critique and writing groups in person, at least they were now comfortable with virtual meetings. Some of us flew out the door at the first opportunity to be around other humans, to go to restaurants, museums, and elderly care facilities to visit family members.

The past two years, I remained productive. I’m one of those people who throw themselves into work when times are tough. Then this summer, something happened. I gave myself permission to enjoy the nice weather. To attend sporting events in which my grandchildren participated. To take my elderly mother to lunch. Friends and family dropped in for weekend visits. We enjoyed evenings at outdoor concerts. Suddenly, the spreadsheet I use to track my writing hours looked very thin.

I need to get my head back into my writing routine. While some of my work is published through a small press with less time pressure, my other publisher has strict deadlines. Besides work under contract, there are four novels I’m itching to complete. I feel out of control. I miss structure.

Since my first foray into the crazy world of NaNo-ing, I created eight projects. Only three made the finish line. Eventually, three were published, but only one was a NaNo winner. With this abysmal NaNoWriMo track record, why am I considering participating this year?

Mind-blowing reason number one: People leave you alone when you tell them you’re part of an impressive international event.

Let’s break this down.

It’s easier to say no to time-sucking people and activities when you’re involved in a global project. Sacrifices must be made if you’re going to succeed. Meeting the brisk and brutal word count of NaNoWriMo requires trimming down on entertainment and social activities for the short space of one month.

At this point, I know I can reach The End of a novel. My goal for NaNoWriMo 2021 is to slam out a draft of one of my projects currently in a state of stagnation. In the process, I hope to jump-start my enthusiasm and motivation to stick to a productive writing routine.

You can find me on NaNoWriMo as Granny_queequeg


Catherine Dilts, Headshot

CATHERINE DILTS prefers writing cozy mysteries and short stories surrounded by flowers on her sunny deck, but any day – and anywhere – spent writing is a good day. Author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, and the stand-alone Survive Or Die with Encircle Publications, Catherine also writes for Annie’s Publishing, contributing three books for the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library and two for the soon-to-be released Annie’s Museum Mysteries series. Her short story HazMat Holiday will appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine in the January/February 2022 issue, which goes on sale 12/14/21.

https://www.catherinedilts.com/

Sweet Success for Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten

By: Darby Karchut

Great news! Pikes Peak members Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten from New Mexico are pleased to announce their most recent release, MIRTH AND MUSINGS (August 2021, Red Penguin Books). This anthology is a collection of ten of their prize-winning short stories and essays.

Mirth and Musings cover

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

Mirth and musings in the same book? Join the award-winning writing team of Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten in their fifth collaboration as they explore what makes us laugh and a few even serious essays on such subjects as running away from home when overwhelmed. You will never again go into a sauna without feeling Jim’s experiences after you read Saunagus nor have a stranger as an extended guest after learning Sandi’s lessons in There’s a Diva in the House. These ten chapters are sure to entertain you and perhaps challenge your preconceived notion of what makes the perfect woman. Purchase your copy through Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Sandi Hoover has explored various settings for her publications while on extended birding trips throughout the world. She has written several prize-winning short stories, and Red Penguin Books will release her AN EAGLE EYE’S VIEW in fall of 2021. Jim Tritten is a multi-award-winning author with numerous book publications to his name. As a writing team, their fiction has been published in a number of journals and by Rhetoric Askew and with Artemisia Publishing. PANAMA’S GOLD, their sixth collaboration, will be released by Red Penguin Books summer of 2021. Follow Sandi on Facebook and Jim on Facebook.


Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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.
Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

19 Days ’til Halloween

By: Trista Herring Baughman

Countdown to the most spectacular time of the year-the Spooky Season crowning moment-has begun.  If I’m honest, it started last year on October 32nd. (Yes, that’s a thing. Didn’t you know? ;))

Take a deep breath. Do you smell that? The cool night air brings with it familiar scents; freshly fallen leaves, campfires, adventure — Ahh! — and pumpkin-spice everything! 

Your favorite creepy songs are on Spotify. Hocus Pocus is playing on some channel, somewhere, every night. The neighborhood is starting to look like a haunted forest. (Goblins and Witches and Ghosts! Oh my!) These Autumn tokens evoke the phobophilia (the love of fear) inside writers and movie watchers everywhere.

While not everyone enjoys a good horror movie or book this time of year, I think it’s safe to say most of us do. There are so many subgenres of Horror–Psychological, Killer, Monster, Paranormal–that can be further categorized into sub-subgenres. From slightly spooky to gory and disturbing, there’s something for everyone.

What is it about Horror that so many people love? What is so intriguing about menace and murder? And where might one find inspiration to write such stories? I have a few ideas.

Why we love Horror

Idea numero uno:

Curiosity. What makes a serial killer tick? Which characters will make terrible decisions and die? What would you do if you were in the same situation?  It’s like looking at that roadkill on the side of the road. (You know you’ve done it.)

Ask yourself the above questions when you’re crafting a scene to keep yourself on the right track. If you’re curious about what happens next, your readers will be. Of course, you will know the answers to these questions, but hopefully, you will keep them guessing. At least for a little while.

Idea number two:

Perhaps our love of Horror is more thrill-seeking in nature. We’ve all experienced an underlying need to prove ourselves to our peers or significant others at some point. For example, riding on one of those crazy carnival rides (that you were dared to ride). It spins you around until your guts creep up into your throat and threaten to spew all over the gyrating world below.  Fun times.

Or perhaps you find yourself on a date to see a scary movie. The lights are dim; the foreboding, anxiety-inducing music is playing. You know something awful is just around the corner and then BAM! It happens. Your date grabs your hand with a shriek. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Think about these things as you write. What makes your heart pound?

Idea three:

Could it be that we’re attempting to keep our feelings in check?

If you’re depressed or lonely, or even anxious, Horror can be a welcome distraction. Shifting the source of your anxiety can make you feel more in control. And who doesn’t have that one nemesis that they daydream about turning into a potato and gouging their despicable little eyes out with a fork? (No? Just me?)

Although it’s unlikely you possess the ability to turn someone into a spud, gouging their eyes out with a fork is doable. However, I must point out that this is frowned upon in most civilized societies. You’d likely end up in the looney bin.

That latent lynch-mob mentality lies deep within us all. Reading, watching, and especially writing Horror, allows one to “act” on their darker urges without physically acting on them.  Think of this as a form of release, if you will. And this is a terrific place for inspiration.  Take those forbidden desires, those impermissible longings, and transform them into a spine-tingling tale.

These are just a few reasons why we gravitate to Horror. I’m sure there are many. What are your reasons? What inspires you to write it? 

If your own experience is lacking, or you’re looking for inspiration to write horror, pick up a novel. There’s no better way to fill your creative psyche than to curl up with a good book. Dim your lights, leave that window slightly ajar so that your curtains billow eerily in the breeze. Now you’re ready.

Here’s a list of some well-known horror writers and their work to get you started:

  • Edgar Allan Poe – The Cask of Amontillado
  • W.W. Jacobs – The Monkey’s Paw
  • Stephen King – Secret Window, Secret Garden
  • Henry James – The Turn of the Screw
  • H.P. Lovecraft – The Call of Cthulhu
  • Bram Stoker – Dracula
  • Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House
  • Dean Koontz – Night Chills
  • Ray Bradbury – Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  • Clive Barker – Books of Blood

I hope I’ve given you some insight and inspiration. Happy Spooky season; don’t forget to check your backseat for serial killer contortionists.


Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama to two handsome (if she does say so herself) sons. She is the author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find The Magic Telescope on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.

Sweet Success for Karen Albright Lin

Cheers for Karen Albright Lin! Her contemporary novel, MU SHU MAC & CHEESE, recently released as a paperback. 

Mu Shu Mac & Cheese by Karen Lin

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

With her household the focus of a TV reality show, food writer Elaine’s professional dreams are about to come true. But her dominating Chinese mother-in-law’s unexpected arrival blends the filming with more than a dash of culture clash. All too soon, Ma wants to chaperone Elaine’s son to prom and otherwise brings the household’s pot to a full boil. MU SHU MAC & CHEESE explores how far a corn-grown foodie will go to save her family’s happy life from being sliced and diced. It’s Julia Child meets My Big Fat CHINESE Wedding. Copies may be purchased through Amazon.

Karen Albright Lin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen is a hopeless foodie, award-winning novelist, and produced screenwriter. Many of her stories are inspired by her experience marrying into a Chinese family. Food is often a subplot. MU SHU MAC & CHEESE and AMERICAN MOON came out on Kindle 2020. When possible she, her husband, and their two boys travel as she researches recipes from around the world for a literary cookbook. She teaches for cruise lines and writers conferences in Colorado where she is part of a rich author community. Visit her at karenalbrightlin.com and follow her on Facebook and Sisters of the Quill.


Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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.
Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Creating Atmosphere with Atmosphere

By: Benjamin X. Wretlind

For 20 years or so, I studied the atmosphere and forecasted the weather. While I spent a vast majority of my time on the training side of the house, I was nevertheless embedded in all things weather.

So when I read a book or watch a movie, I’m probably more aware of the weather than most people. This isn’t to say people aren’t observant—they are—but their observations will often tend to take them someplace else, someplace that doesn’t have to do with clouds or precipitation or whatever.

To me (and I believe subconsciously you, too) weather in writing creates an atmosphere that can make or break a scene. To give you an example of this, the following two passages are the same, but different. One with the weather, one without. (This passage comes from one of my novellas.)

  1. She looked through tear-filled eyes at the shadows and the patterns the rain drew for her on the canvas of the tent. The noise—pounding, driving, beating, thrashing, drubbing—was almost muted as her mind swirled from past to present to a future she was almost certain would never come.
  2. She looked through tear-filled eyes at the shadows and the patterns on the canvas of the tent. Her mind swirled from past to present to a future she was almost certain would never come.

You can take two things from this:

  1. the weather doesn’t matter; it doesn’t help to set any stage and the second paragraph is less cluttered without expository language; or
  2. the weather fits the mood of the character (Claire) by describing how the shadows on the tent wall are being drawn in a world that’s noisy but muted by Claire’s own thoughts.

To me (and this is really all opinion), descriptions of the weather enhance the mood of the setting (i.e., the atmosphere). Good descriptions are not asides; they are part of the whole. Is it cold? Is it hot? Do the clouds create a shadowed/muted scene? Does the rain/snow/hail relate to a feeling? Is there fear in a character that’s increased by a thunderstorm (thereby increasing the fear/nervousness/anxiety of the reader)?

Tony Hillerman, who passed in 2008, wrote quite a few novels set within the borders of the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona/northwest New Mexico. The country there is high desert: arid, hot in the summer, cold in the winter, full of dust and all things spiky. His characters, being Navajo who “walk in beauty,” often notice the weather from their point of view. Hillerman is so great at weaving meteorology into the story that it often sets the mood better than any character’s action/inaction or narrative could.

Chee had pointed to a little gray column of dirt and debris moving erratically over the fields across Highway 66. “Dust Devil,” she had said, and it was then she had her first glimpse behind Chee’s police badge.

“Dust devil,” he repeated, thoughtfully. “Yes. We have the same idea. I was taught to see in those nasty little twisters the Hard Flint Boys struggling with the Wind Children. The good yei bringing us cool breezes and pushing the rain over grazing land. The bad yei putting evil into the wind.   –from The Wailing Wind, Tony Hillerman, 2002

Could that brief passage been left out? It could have, but I believe it sets a behavioral tone for Sergeant Jim Chee, one that lasts for many novels to come and a moment in time that sets up the future relationship between Chee and Officer Bernadette Manuelito (the “she” in the passage).

As another example, think of a thunderstorm on the horizon, far away. Thunderstorms are created with a combination of heat, moisture and instability and we can equate that simple description to something like an exposition. Once a trigger is reached (such as air forced up a mountainside or intense heating throughout the day), a thunderstorm is born. You could call that the conflict or inciting incident, if you will. As the thunderstorm moves closer, there is rising action. Perhaps the first lightning crash and sudden deluge of rain is like the climax, and the dribbling aftermath as the storm moves on like a dénouement.

This is very simplistic in its design, and the story could move through each plot element the same as if it had never been written. However, the reader knows what it feels like to see a storm approach (anxiety); they know what it feels like to be in a downpour and hear thunder crash (fear); and they know what it feels like as a storm moves on (relief).

Writing the weather (atmosphere) into a setting is not that difficult, but you can screw it up.

Think of a sad character. Does it help your reader feel her emotion if you describe the sunrise on a clear, perfectly temperate day, or would it set a better mood if there were undulating clouds hanging over the scene like a smothering blanket?

Keep in mind that there are readers out there who have studied meteorology for years, and like anything, the genius is in the details.

Clouds aren’t likely to hang in the air like bricks, and there’s no such thing as a Category 7 hurricane.


Benjamin Wretlind ran with scissors when he was five. He now writes, paints, uses sharp woodworking tools and plays with glue. Sometimes he does these things at the same time. A retired Air Force veteran, Benjamin currently builds and facilitates leadership courses for staff at Yale. He has penned a few novels, deleted a few novels, edited a few novels and is, of course, writing a few novels. Owing his life’s viewpoint to Bob Ross, he has also painted a few things, thrown a few paintings away, and probably has a painting on an easel right now. You can find Benjamin on his WebsiteTwitter and Facebook.

Sweet Success for Margaret Mizushima

Three cheers for Margaret Mizushima! HANGING FALLS, her sixth Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
from Crooked Lane Books, has been named winner of the 2021 WILLA Literary Award for
Contemporary Fiction. Named for Willa Cather, the WILLA Literary Awards are presented by
Women Writing the West to honor stories that feature women or girls and are set in the
American West.

Hanging Falls - Book Cover


ABOUT THE BOOK:

In this episode, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo investigate the death of a person they found floating in a mountain lake, while Mattie seeks answers from long lost family about the secrets of her past. HANGING FALLS can be found or ordered wherever books are sold.

Margaret Mizushima


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as president for the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and is also a member of Northern Colorado Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Pikes Peak Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. Visit the author at margaretmizushima.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram


Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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.
Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Remember Your Why

By: Margena Holmes

When I brought up the idea for this blog to the editor, she was all for it, saying, “Maybe it will motivate others to write their blogs.” And then…nothing. The idea sat in my head but never made it to my fingers and keyboard. For weeks. I felt like I’d let her down because I hadn’t done what I said I was going to do.

My brain didn’t want to think. I had other things on my mind, and I wasn’t even working on my novel during that time, similar to when I couldn’t write at the beginning of the pandemic. How could I find motivation to work on what needed to be done?

Where did I find motivation?

At one time, I found motivation in a Facebook group. In this writers group, everyone is always posting their successes with sales. After a while, I stopped responding to those posts. Why? It wasn’t happening to me (because I suffer from Imposter Syndrome quite often). But why wasn’t it me? Because I lacked the daily habit of writing every day. So, I started to write every day again, even if it was only for a few minutes. Seeing others’ success really got me to sit my butt down in the chair with my cup of tea (a signal to my brain that it’s writing time) and write.

Writers conferences or just reading about the craft will inspire me to write something. I love to learn and if I read something about writing, I like to put it into practice. If you’re having trouble finding your motivation, try reading about the craft or taking an online workshop or conference. It may help you over that hurdle you’ve been stuck behind.

Remember your why.

One thing to help get you out of that hole is to remember your why—your reason for writing. Take a few moments to write down your reasons for writing, whether it’s writing your novel, your article, or your next blog post. There is no right or wrong reason to write, even if it is just to make money to help pay the bills or to be able to quit your job. This was one thing that I needed to do and remember to get back to writing again.

Take things that happen during the day either at home or at your day job to give you that push to keep going. Boss at work get on you again about being two minutes late? Write that down. Are your readers asking when your next book will be out? Put that in big letters where you can see it. Anything to get you excited to write again. They will help remind you why you started writing in the first place, or to give you that kick in the pants to continue working on your stories. If you’ve been stuck in a writing rut, hopefully these ideas will help you to find your reason for writing again and your fingers will be flying on that keyboard with new stories and blogs.


Margena Holmes

Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

Sweet Success for Kim Krisco

Congratulations to Kim Krisco! His fourth novel finally broke the “hardcover barrier.” THE MAGNIFICENT MADNESS OF TESSA WIGGINS will debut in hardcover, paperback, Kindle and Audible this fall (October 2021 from MX Publishing-London). His publisher is celebrating the launch with a limited collector’s hardcover edition trilogy (only 100 copies) of his newest novel and the two before that introduced Tessa Wiggins to the world.

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

1920 – Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales: Tessa Wiggins’s “madness” is provoked by the adopted spirit of a two-thousand-year-old Druid priestess mentoring her to be the servant of The Earth Mother. When Tessa defies treatment, her lover asks a childhood friend, Sherlock Holmes, to intervene. But despite everyone’s best intentions, Tessa finds herself in Hellingford Asylum, where she is driven toward her final breaking point on All-Halloween. Purchase a copy through AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository, and MX Publishing.

Kris Krisco

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Kim Krisco is the author of three previous novels that followed in the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. More recently, he introduced a female protagonist in THE MAGNIFICENT MADNESS OF TESSA WIGGINS (coming Fall 2021). His attention to detail, which includes on-location research, adds a welcome richness to the tales. And his fascination with ancient Celtic culture brings a mythic dimension as well. Visit the author at MysteryBookAuthor.com and at his blog and follow him on Facebook.


Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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.
Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Writing Under Deadlines

By; Donna Schlachter (previously published in Writing Nuggets of Gold)

There are two kinds of deadlines.

In the writing world, there are two kinds of deadlines: the ones imposed by others; and the ones imposed by you. The deadlines that others set for you in your writing might include a contest entry date; a critique group submission due date; a time frame for the submission of a proposal and first three chapters to an editor or agent following a contact at a writing conference such as the ACFW National Conference; a request for a full manuscript; the acceptance and signing of a contract; first draft approval; intermediate revisions; and final revisions prior to publication. Each one of these deadlines is critical to writing, of keeping everything flowing, and of ultimately achieving the goal, whether that be winning a contest, being a productive member of a critique group, acquiring an agent, or publication.

And there are the self-imposed deadlines, the ones you set for yourself. And whether or not you realize it, you set deadlines every day, some that are related to writing and some that are not. For example, you get up at a certain time of the day. You have set the deadline on how long you’re going to spend sleeping. If you have children, you get them off to school. Each deadline, while not specifically adding words or pages to your work in process, is a practice at meeting a deadline.

How do you set a self-imposed deadline?

So how do you set self-imposed writing deadlines when there is no agent, no editor, no promise of an advance or a royalty looming over your head?

Treat your writing seriously, or you won’t set goals. Look at the book you’re working on, look at your schedule–because face it, we all have a life outside of writing–and determine how much time you can spend on writing, and how much you can reasonably expect to get done in that time. For example, I was working on a novella. When I started the book, I was excited about the story, excited about where the characters were going. I figured this book would just leap out of my mind, through my fingers, and into the computer.

That didn’t happen. I was so convinced I could have this done in no time, that’s exactly what I spent writing–no time. Suddenly the story was boring, and the laundry looked more interesting.

So, around the middle of the third month of not writing, I decided enough was enough. I set a goal for the end of the month to have the story finished. I was about 20,000 words from the end. Still didn’t happen. Seemed I had all the time in the world. For other things. I buckled down and started writing seriously three days before the end of the month. I wrote 2,500 words the first day, 1,500 words the second, and 4,500 words the last day. I didn’t quite make my goal because I hadn’t quite finished the story. But I was on a roll. Spending every day in the story made the story more real to me. And setting a deadline made me feel like a proper writer.

Did I set a bad deadline? No. I wasn’t serious enough about the work required.

Should I simply dump the story and move on? No. Writing every day kept me in the story and opened new plot points and backstory points, and that’s exciting for me.

How do I learn from this experience? I won’t take the next deadline for granted. I will treat the deadline as if a contract, an advance, or publication depend on it.

Takeaway:
I will act like I am a writer under a deadline imposed by someone else.

Exercises:

1. What work in process would you like to finish?
2. Take out the story, read through it to ground yourself again, and set a deadline.
3. Write every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, to keep yourself grounded in the story.


Donna Schlachter

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, Capitol Christian Writers Fellowship, Christian Women Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly for Heroes, Heroines, and History; and judges in writing contests. www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com