Highlands Scottish-Irish Festival

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My husband and I used to go to the Highlands Scottish-Irish Festival in Estes Park, CO every year. Unfortunately, it’s the same weekend as the writer’s conference I’ve been attending for the past several years–Colorado Gold.¬† (Colorado Gold is my favorite writers conference ever–if you’re a writer and you’ve never gone before, I sincerely urge you to give it a try. You will leave vowing to go again the next year. And the year after that.)

But I digress. This year I decided to attend the Festival again. While I desperately missed my writing friends at conference and the loads of information gleaned there, we enjoyed the Festival with friends.

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The fun started with a parade on Saturday morning that beats any parade I’ve ever seen. And the best part? There’s absolutely nothing political. How unusual is that? Just pure fun of all things Scottish and Irish. And oh, for the bagpipes!

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So many clans in their colors!

The activities at the fairgrounds consisted of Scottish athletics, jousting, pipe band competitions, Irish dance, Highland dance, exhibitions of dogs from the British Isles, Celtic rock and folk music, sooooo much amazing food, commercial tents, a Guinness tent, (for those not familiar with Guinness beer, it’s a must while at the Festival–for those who imbibe), and so much more.

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And my favorite entertainer there since we’ve started going…none other than Seamus Kennedy. The guy has a sense of humor that draws quite the crowd.

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The weekend of September 11, 2020…Highlands Scottish-Irish Festival or Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference…choices, choices, choices. Perhaps cloning so both is an option…

A little Scottish humor: “Kilt. It’s what happened to the last person who called it a skirt.”

Colorado Gold

Colorado Gold

Colorado Gold means more than the golden Aspens in autumn. To a Colorado writer, it also means the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference in Denver. Held the weekend after Labor Day, it’s the perfect way to get motivated and rejuvenate one’s writing goals and spend time in the company of other like-minded writers while ushering in the fall season. By like-minded writers, I mean those who think it’s completely normal to research how to poison someone without getting caught, which gun is the best to “do the job” and who think sitting in a chair thinking is some of the hardest, yet most enjoyable, work there is.

Some conference highlights:

The view of the Denver skyline from my hotel room was motivating in and of itself.

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James Scott Bell gave a six-hour intensive workshop titled “Writing a Novel They Can’t Put Down.” I’ve read his books on the craft of writing several times over. Some of them (Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing, both Writer’s Digest Books), I’ve marked up, highlighted, dog-eared, and stuck sticky notes to so many pages, that they look a little worse for wear. But I still refer to them often. Hearing him speak was writer’s gold.

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Christopher Paolini, author of Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance, was a keynote speaker and delivered a powerful speech on the birth of his writing career, how Eragon began as a self-published work, growing into the enormous success it is.

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Kate Moretti, author of four novels and a novella (her first novel, Thought I Knew You, was a New York Times bestseller), gave the packed room of writers hope and inspiration regarding her immediate success that led to a series of what most would consider failure. Yet she persevered, something writers all too often need to force themselves to do, and came out on top. It’s that perseverance that makes a writer a winner no matter how many rejections s/he may get.

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Four classes, “The Itty Bitty Nitty Gritty of Making Prose Pretty” and “Strip-Searching Your Prose,” both presented by Tiffany Yates Martin, and “Beyond Goal+Conflict” and “Expand! Contract! The Dance of the Well-Paced Story,” both presented by Angie Hodapp, were by themselves well worth the cost of the conference. Anytime you have a chance to listen to either of these women speak on the craft of writing, I recommend jumping on it! I promise you’ll come out all the better for it. And the class titled “Pique Those Ears! An Author’s Guide to Audiobooks” by Sue Duff has led to a contract with a narrator. My Melanie Hogan series will soon be audiobooks! ūüôā

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Another highlight was sharing this phenomenal experience with good writing friends, especially my sisters from writer’s group Sisters in Crime Colorado. These ladies provide support, advice, encouragement, and shared knowledge, enriching the full writing experience.

Colorado Gold? Yes, Please!

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† –Francis Bacon

Welcoming in September

Happy September!

I’ve always loved the months of September and October. Not because I want summer to end, but because those particular months carry with it evenings fit for hoodies, vibrant colors, the beginning of a new school year, renewed energy, fall decorations including the warm glow of orange lights, and all things pumpkin flavored!

My home office is decorated with a fall theme all year long, and it’s there I hibernate when I need a reprieve from the chaos of life.

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Thursday, September 6th begins a 4-day writing conference, Colorado Gold, which is a writer’s paradise. So much learning, connecting with other writers, and networking, that by the time conference is over, my head is usually so packed with information that I’m ready to once again retreat to my home office and put what I’ve learned to the page.

Mid-September my husband and I are taking a trip to Taos, NM, one of my favorite places to visit. It’s an artsy town where I feel completely at home. Last time we visited there, author Natalie Goldberg made an appearance at the bookstore. Quite the treat!

And finally, at the end of September is a 3-day conference I’m attending for work in beautiful Breckinridge, Colorado, a town at the base of the Rocky Mountains‚Äô Tenmile Range.

What about you. Any plans for the beautiful fall months? What is your favorite season of the year and why?

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.
‚Äē Lauren DeStefano, Wither

I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze.
The sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves.
~Ann Drake, 2013

 

The Season for Gratitude

Give ThanksDuring this holiday season, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is at the top of my to-do list. Family is top of the top, hands down. After family, my top 10 for 2016 is:

10.)  Election season being over! Nationally as well as locally. My day job is in a political office, which makes election season ultra stressful.

9.)¬†¬† Chemotherapy and radiation. If you just said, “say what?!?” I totally get it. But as evil as these treatments can be, it’s what we have to kill the killer–cancer. It’s what made the cancer-free diagnosis for my dad possible. And it’s the hope for a¬†dear¬†friend who’s battling cancer.

8.)¬†¬† The opportunity to attend an amazing Writer’s Conference, Colorado Gold, in September. It helped me grow as a writer in skill, confidence, and productivity; and the opportunity to participate in a 5-week online¬†writing workshop hosted by the University of Iowa.

7.)   Spending priceless time with my kids and grandkids, and preparing to welcome another granddaughter to the mix!

6.)¬†¬† My¬†husband, a man of honor, integrity, and faith, retiring after 40 years serving in law enforcement, the last 21 years as Chief of Police. I couldn’t be more proud.

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5.)   Publishing two books this year, Shear Deception and Finding Abby, and hosting a successful book event that included several local authors.

4.)   The finances and job that allowed me several trips back to Minnesota to help my parents as my dad battled cancer.

3.)   Just three weeks away from 5 years of sobriety which led to the rebirth of my writing career.

2.)   Friends, old and new, who have each left a handprint on my heart.

1.)¬†¬† God bestowing millions of blessings on my life throughout the year. All that and the year isn’t even over yet! ūüôā

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