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

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’ 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.
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

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

 

Book Signing a Success

Book Signing

My book signing this past Saturday was better than I had even expected. The highlight, however, was not the books sold, but the 11-year old who visited my table. She loves to write and I could see the light dance in her eyes as she talked about it. I saw myself in that little girl and it brought back so many memories of the countless hours sitting in my room or floating in the boat as it was tied to the dock, creating poetry and ideas that carried me to other worlds.

From the encounter with that little girl, I’ve decided to plan an 8-week class that meets once a week at our local recreation center for kids 7-17, to mentor them and work with them on all things writing. I’m so excited to tie together my love of words and writing and my passion for children to help make a difference.

So after the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference I’m attending this weekend, followed by a family vacation, my goal is to further develop this plan. My heart is bursting with joy and my head with ideas! 🙂

Have a great week writing and creating. 🙂

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. -Steven Spielberg

 

Why Do You Write?

Sandi Ault, author of the bestselling, award-winning WILD Mystery Series, was one of the presenters at the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference I attended this past March, and one of her sessions was called Writing for Love, Prestige, or Profit.

To say the class was filled beyond capacity is an understatement. We were very cozy with those sitting around us!

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Her class was as packed with useful information as it was with participants. The first thing she had us do is take a few moments to think about WHY we write.  I can’t say that I’ve ever thought about it before, so it was an eye opener.

As the session title basically asks, is our goal to make money, become famous, or simply because we love to write and can’t imagine not writing?

She stated, “If you feel called to do this (writing), its a memo from heaven. Put on your boots and big girl pants and do it.”

She named some of the successful authors and the “why” that drives their writing, among them:

James Patterson – Money

Tom Clancy – Wanted to write about co op missions. (Such a huge loss to the literary world when he died.)

JK Rowling – To bring magic into her life.

As I vigorously scribbled  copious notes, absorbing every word I possibly could, I discovered my “why” is simply because I love to write. While making money at it would be super, and fame could be fun and perhaps validate my efforts, the bottom line is I cannot imagine not writing. And that is what motivates me to keep writing.

Writing makes me happy, it brings me peace, it’s a God-given gift that would be wasted if I didn’t use it.

And in the words of Sandi, once you realize why you write, “honor the why.”

How about you? What is the real honest-to-goodness reason why you write? What is the one thing that gets you to your computer every day?

“Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”
― Tom Clancy

Calm Before the Storm

Since I was at the NCW Writers Conference–which was amazing, by the way–and using every molecule of brain power trying to absorb everything I could, I didn’t post my last usual Gratitude Friday and Weekend Quote posts.  But rest assured, tomorrow begins April and the A-Z Blogging Challenge, for 26 posts in 30 days.  God willing. 🙂

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“See” you tomorrow. 🙂

A Writer’s Heaven

I’ve been waiting for this weekend since about this same time one year ago.  Why, you ask? If you didn’t, I’ll tell you anyway.  🙂  It’s my second NCW writer’s conference, and it’s less than three days away.

The first one gave me so much – ideas, motivation, inspiration, new writing friends, and time to re-evaluate the direction I wanted to take my writing. And, yes, it forced me to get out of my comfort zone which is my study with my computer and books, and to socialize with the other living, breathing beings.  By the time we all left the hotel at the end of the conference, our eyes were bulging, and our brains were jumbled, wires misfiring, from so much information being fed into it. But what beautiful sparks those misfires created!

Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the first one brought me close to none other than Andrew McCarthy. (Think Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, Weekend at Bernie’s, Mannequin…) I have to admit when he talked to me I was dumbfounded and speechless.  And I’m quick to say my husband would tell you that simply does not happen often.

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Here we are, a little bit blurry, as I believe the person taking the picture with my phone was likely as  giddy with “teenage heartthrob-itis” as I was, but here we are nonetheless.

Andrew McCarthy's Book

Uh-Hm…back on topic – Andrew is not only an actor but an amazing award-winning travel writer, and was at the conference as our keynote speaker.  Not only did he entertain, he taught me what writing can do to and for a person.  It can lead us on a journey one never wants to return from.  A journey of self-discovery, hope, pleasure, and even the greatest pain.  And yet, a writer can’t help but write.  It’s what we do.  It’s what makes us complete.  As insane as it can make us, it’s also what keeps us sane.

So “all my bags are packed, I’m ready to go”… Oh, wait–that’s John Denver, and he took a jet plane.   I’ll just hop in my car and head to writer’s heaven. And to listen to Chuck Sambuchino teach me from his infinite writer’s wisdom the scoop on literary agents, humor, and anything else my sponge brain can absorb.

Write on.