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! 🙂

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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

Aha! Moment

It occurred to me the other day that the novel I’m working on wasn’t really…working. While I’m having a ball writing it, developing the characters, having fun with the dialogue and setting, it felt too shallow and like it was missing the mark. Like perhaps a riveting plot? Yes, that could be a problem.

While I was brainstorming and doing mental gymnastics about what to do and how to fix it, absolutely nothing came to mind. I decided to put the thinking to rest for a while and went for a run. And wouldn’t you know, in the middle of my run, it hit me. My brain connected the dots and the proverbial light bulb switched on in my head.

Aha Moment

 

 

 

 

As I continued running, the dots continued connecting, the bulb burned brighter, and by the time I got back home I had a whole new plot developed. The plot I had originally? It’s still there, but now a subplot. While it is an enormous amount of work, I know my novel will be the better for it. And in the end, that’s what I really, truly want, is to write the best novel I can write.

The books I’ve been reading on editing and revising are doing their job. (Here is where I want to put in a plug for three of my very favorites so far, Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, both by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King.) I highly recommend all three.

In the meantime, along with this plot change came much research of several different poisons. Should anything ever happen to my husband and my computer is searched, I may be living a real-life mystery. I mentioned this to my husband and he laughed, telling me that kind of thinking is a hazard of our jobs. (We both work in the law enforcement arena.) Thank goodness he has a sense of humor.

Off to work–and re-work–my manuscript.   🙂

“There’s nothing better when something comes and hits you and you think ‘YES’!”  –J.K. Rowling

Carpe Diem

My Workspace Blog Hop

Or as my friend Rachel Carrera calls it “The Monkey Wrench in the Works.” 🙂 Rachel is also the one who tagged me for this blog hop, the purpose of it being to showcase our workspace, that special place we create and find the joy in writing, and to touch on our process a bit. If you haven’t visited Rachel’s blog you’re missing out on a whole lot. She’s one of the most fun, energetic, real people I know in the blogoverse. Hop on over to visit her. I promise you won’t regret it! 🙂

On with the tour of my “sanctuary” that doubles as my office…

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My humble little desk surrounded by my necessities–laptop (yup, I’m a laptop girl because I take it everywhere) and my things that motivate my creative spark and life in general–paintings of scenes from a lake as well as a tiny canoe made from birch bark, my lamp shade reminding me to “live, laugh, and love,” a cross reminding me of the utmost important aspect of life, and pictures of my kids when they were younger. There’s even a little of my stained glass obsession there. My printed manuscript is to the left of my computer, a current work in progress.

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All my files are right by my side within reach, my planner–which I use loosely, as life is always changing the plans I have written down, but that’s okay with me. Life is for living and going with the flow. Without flexibility we’re bound to miss out on a lot of opportunities.

The notebook with the typewriter on it contains anything and everything about the cozy mystery series I’m working on. It goes everywhere I do because new ideas for the series, new character ideas, plot ideas, etc., seem to pop up at the strangest times.

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And here is my comfy chair I retreat to when studying the craft of writing and when I do my ten-minute writing practice with good old-fashioned pen and paper. I’m reading two different books at the moment, A Writer’s Book of Days which has the best practical advice and awesome writing practice prompts and is the book sitting on my chair, and Revision and Self Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell. His books have quickly become some of my favorites for instruction on the writing process. On the table in the bluish can is my staple–Simply Balanced cucumber mint sparkling water. Can’t live without it.

Moving on to tag some of my writer friends. If you’re not following them already you may want to consider doing so. They’re awesome ladies! 🙂

Michelle @ http://wolffdenpress.com/

Teresa @ https://homeandspirit.wordpress.com/

Marie @ http://writingwingsforyou.com/

Angela @ https://authorangelachristinaarcher.wordpress.com/

So, curious…do you have anything you keep at your desk that gets your creativity flowing? What are you working on at the present moment? Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you ever write with good old-fashioned pen and paper?

Carpe Diem

 

 

 

The Act of Writing vs. Being a Writer

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A lot of people write and a whole lot more have the desire to write. If you’re writing, you are, indeed, a writer. If you have the desire to write but haven’t actually put pen to paper–or fingertips to keyboard–you haven’t crossed the line yet from dreamer to writer. That being said it’s never too late to start. Here’s proof.

I wrote a post a while ago about finally calling myself a writer. And while that was a huge step for me, this past month it has come to mean even more. Sometime in this past month I began to realize that I’m not a writer just because I like to write. That would be akin to calling one an alcoholic just because s/he likes to drink. But rather, I couldn’t imagine my life without writing. Writing is so much a part of my desires and my life, that without it, I wouldn’t feel complete.

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Examples that drove that point home to me are:

  • If I don’t write–and lately that means every day, at least something–I feel empty of the positive and consumed by an intense need to release that creative energy.
  • When I’m at work or play and when I’m not writing, I find myself studying people and their mannerisms, behaviors, word choices, etc., creating characters in my head.
  • When I’m on a road trip, whether it’s five miles or five hundred, I take in the scenery as if constructing the setting of my next novel.
  • The world is my creative playground.
  • I cherish my writer’s notebook like it’s another limb and it goes everywhere I do.
  • What others say about my love of writing doesn’t matter; it’s important to me.

In Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, he recommends getting motivated by writing a statement of purpose. I chose to do that and it is readily visible on the first page of my writer’s notebook. Mine begins as his does and then branches off a bit. My statement of purpose reads:

Today I resolve to take writing seriously, to keep writing no matter what, to learn everything I can on the craft, and to strive for my words to make a positive difference to even just one person. I am a writer.

What are your writing aspirations and dreams?

Carpe Diem

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”
― Anaïs Nin

 

My One Word for 2015…and a Goal

Several years ago I abandoned the New Year’s resolution attempts for New Year’s goals. And three years ago I abandoned New Year’s goals for My One Word. I’m not going say one is better than the others, only that My One Word appealed to me. In fact, I think New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. Sure most people break their New Year’s resolutions because, let’s face it, if habits were so easy to change, would we need resolutions? The point is what we do with that perceived failure–give up or get back on the horse, so to speak, and try again.

Never give up

And there’s a better chance of change if there’s an awareness–preferably written on paper so it’s concrete and can be referred to easily–of what one wants to change to better his/her life than if there’s nothing at all. If you resolve to work out more or eat better in the upcoming year and it only lasts a month or two, that’s a month or two of more working out or better eating than would have happened without the resolution. Not to mention that when you realized you broke it, it’s an opportunity to try and try again.

Thomas Edison

This year after thought and consideration, I’ve chosen to do a combination of two methods. In fact the rebel in me has taken life and created a variation of My One Word. I’ve decided to focus on two words rather than one, for no other reason than I want to see significant growth in my life in both areas.

My two words are:  (drumroll…)

LOVE & RISK

We are called to love one another as God loves us and that love covers a multitude of sins.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

To act–and re-act–in love will further my spiritual journey.

And risk? I tend to get so comfortable in my rut of day-to-day living, making sure everything is within my control. That comfort zone prohibits me from experiencing life fully and using the gifts given to me to make the world a better place. How can I grow if I don’t experience growing pains? How can I positively affect others and the world if I’m complacent in my quiet, afraid-to-take-risks world? That being said, that doesn’t mean I will be jumping out of an airplane or hang-gliding anytime soon. 🙂

So those are my two words for 2015. And it will likely take me a full year to get somewhat of a handle on them.

This year I’ve decided to add a resolution as well. A somewhat vague resolution, but a resolution nonetheless. I’m resolving to study the craft of writing. Writing in and of itself is something I have to do. For me. If I don’t, I feel like I’m missing a limb and truly find myself in a mental funk. But I don’t only want to write, I want to write the very best that I can. And what a better way to do that than to study the craft from those who have mastered it. I’m part of an online book club, Book Club for Writers, and right now we’re reading the book Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. What an amazing book! I’ve learned so much already. I would highly recommend it.

And with that, it’s time to go live this life I’ve been blessed with and begin to live My One Two Words and learn how to write. 🙂

How about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions or goals? Have you tried the My One Word concept? What resolutions/goals have you made for 2015?

Carpe Diem