Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quote of the week and the week to come

“I have a cheat-sheet for each one of my characters about their personality, the way they look, etc. So there is no way that I could have writer’s block.”  ~ R.L. Stine 


Author R.L. Stine is famous for writing Goosebumps, the bestselling horror series for kids. He also created the successful Fear Street series. 

This week on Writing from the Peak and the week to come

October 5:  Letter from the editor

October 7:  First Wed Post from Writing Coach Deb McLeod

October 9:  Sweet Success honors Shannon Lawrence

Friday, October 2, 2015

Upcoming Pikes Peak Writers October Events

Open Critique 

October 7, 2015
First Wednesday of every month (Free)
6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
427 East Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO
Guest Critiquer: Michael Shepherd

This PPW program provides a critique experience for a small number of writers who seek feedback on manuscript pages and who want to learn how to have positive critique group experiences. (Reservations are required.)

PPW's Open Critique is facilitated by Donnell Bell with the occasional experienced guest critique partner. See for further information.

Mini Maker Faire

October 10th
Time: 10 am - 4 pm 
Where: Library 21C,
Join us at the Mini Maker Faire to learn a variety of writing skills from several writers who will rotate throughout the day. Poet Jesse Randall will teach you how to fold a tetratetraflexagon (great for wordplay); author Robert Spiller will show you how to make anything funny; Bonnie Hagan will help you create beauty in your writing; author DeAnna Knippling will illuminate how to show, not tell; author Shannon Lawrence will let you know how to make anything creepy; and author J.T. Evans will present worldbuilding, including geography, culture, religion, political systems, traditions, and so much more.

October Write Brain
What:  Transcending Standard Media Forms
Who:  Joshua Viola
When: October 20, 6:30-8:30 pmWhere: Carnegie room of Penrose Library, 20 N Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903

More Information: Joshua Viola, chief editor of Hex Publishers, will be talking about publishing in an age where the rules have changed and why transmedia output is essential to making an impact and reaching a broader audience.

Transmedia is the ability to reach a larger demographic by blurring the lines of how the media is offered. So, specifically, Hex Publishers has offered Nightmares Unhinged as paperback and ebook, but is also launching a Playstation 4 Dymamic Theme via Sony based on the book. The book trailer playing in a variety of movie theaters now. Josh’s latest novel, Blackstar, is accompanied by an original soundtrack by Celldweller–so you can listen to instrumental music inspired by the book while reading. His debut novel, The Bane of Yoto, was accompanied by an interactive 3D comic app. All of these items transcend their typical media forms to reach others that likely wouldn’t have discovered the book otherwise (such as movie goers, gamers, music fans, etc).

About the Presenter: Joshua Viola is an author, artist, and video game developer (Capcom, Disney, Konami). In addition to creating a transmedia creative franchise around The Bane of Yoto, honored with more than a dozen awards, Viola is the author of Blackstar, a novel based on the work of acclaimed electronic-rock musician Celldweller. He is publishing Cyber World, a science fiction anthology edited by Hugo Award winner Jason Heller, in 2016 and editing Blood Business, a crime anthology, in 2017. Alpha Cat, a comic book Viola co-created with UFC Bantamweight Number One Contender, Cat Zingano, will release this spring. His short fiction can be found in the pages of the horror anthology Nightmares Unhinged. Viola lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is publisher and chief editor of Hex Publishers.

October Open Mic
October 22 (Thursday)
Time: 6 - 8 p.m.
Colorado Springs Mariott
5580 Tech Center Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Back by popular demand! Come read part of your work at the Marriott.

October Writer's Night
October 26

Fourth Monday of every month (Free)
6:30  8:30 p.m. 
Location: Kawa Coffee
Address: 2427 N Union Blvd., Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909

PPW Night is two full hours of discussion, laughter and fun with other local members of Pikes Peak Writers. 

The direction of the meeting is decided by the participants and can include discussions about query letters, obtaining and working with an agent, writing conferences, or other specific points of the craft. If nothing else, we talk about books!

If you have any questions, or if there is a specific topic you’d like to get on the agenda, send an e-mail or phone to host, Deb Courtney for detailed information. Meetings are scheduled to start at 6:30 and run until about 8:30. These are drop-in meetings, so feel free to attend all or just part of them.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Real Secret to Networking: Change your Approach

By: Barbara Nickless

In my first professional job, a mentor told me networking was de rigueur. Get out of your office, he said. Meet people. Trade business cards. Swap information. Do this with the hope that meeting this person will lead to that person and eventually get you wherever it is you want to go.

Nothing wrong with that.

Except, I was terrible at it. Case in point—I would go out of my way to avoid my boss's boss. (Did I say avoid? We're talking treat the guy like he had the plague.) Just so he'd know I wasn't trying to brownnose. For the same reason, I avoided anyone else who might help advance my career.

No brownnosing for me. Nuh uh. No way.

So although I worked hard and helped people out on their own networking journey, I did almost no networking of my own. I connected with people. That was fun. But I found actual networking—connecting with a self-advancing goal in mind—stressful. It made me feel as if I had to size up everyone I met at work events or writers conferences with a What's in it for me? attitude.

Networking did not make me happy. And I like to be happy.

According to the latest research, we are happiest when we give. Volunteering, helping friends and family, and donating to charities provides a sense of belonging, that connection we crave. Turns out that selflessly helping others improves our own prosperity. How? By raising our self-esteem and happiness. Our altruistic joie de vivre then draws others to us.

After my house burned down in a wildfire, Mystery Writers of America offered to send me to one of their day-long MWA Universities. I gratefully accepted their generosity, thrilled to be with fellow writers and away from the rented furniture in my rented home.

One of the speakers that day was Hank Phillippi Ryan. Hank is the epitome of gracious connecting. She is warm, caring, curious, empathic. She exemplifies the whole mental flip from networking to connecting that I'm trying to push here. At the MWA University I got the opportunity to meet her. But I didn't get the chance to tell her how much the day meant to me, or how her workshop inspired me to sit down and write a novel.

Writing a novel, as most of you know, is hard. As in, really, really hard. Getting to THE END is the emotional equivalent of summiting Annapurna, a mountain in Nepal with the highest fatality-to-summit ratio in its class. In just one month in 2014, at least 39 people perished on the mountain.

Writing or mountaineering—a lot of people die on the way.
But the writing wasn't nearly as intimidating as the next step. Yes.That step. The one that turns you from victorious mountain climber to exhausted wreck, wondering if you've got the strength to take even one more step.

I'm talking about the Great Agent Hunt. The quest that makes you realize that although you summited Annapurna, you still haven't reached the top of the world. Worse for me, finding an agent would no doubt involve—shield your eyes—networking.

Climbing the real Annapurna suddenly seemed a viable alternative.

But novelists are tough. We do what we have to do. Since I'd written a mystery and planned to write a thriller after that, I accepted a friend's offer to let me bunk with her at Thrillerfest. I packed my bags and flew to New York City and—figuring no networking would be required—attended the terrifying, exhilarating, rewarding and exhausting ordeal known as Pitchfest.

Three-and-a-half hours. More than fifty agents and editors. By the end of it, I was ready to throw myself in front of an agent, stare into her eyes and skip all formalities such as introductions and an actual pitch. My much-practiced proposal went from "Hi, so happy to meet you, I've written a novel … " to, "Yo. You want it or not?"

I staggered out, reeling like a prize fighter who's taken one too many blows. Although my pitches had been successful, I still had a long slog in front of me. You know the drill. Send out the manuscript and wait for maybe yes, maybe nothing, maybe no. No as in never, don't contact me again, stay away from my office, my home, my children, my alma mater, get a job digging ditches.

I headed toward the bank of elevators with no further plan than to go up to my room, throw myself on the bed and sleep. Cocktails to follow.

Then my gaze settled on Hank, also waiting for an elevator. I knew talking to her would be safe. No stress. Nothing intimidating. And I'd been wanting to thank her for her kindness at MWA University, and for her wonderful class. As we chatted, a man came over to say hello to Hank, who brightened and gestured us toward each other. "Author, agent. Agent, author."

The gentleman turned to me with a kind and cheerful smile.

He wasn't one of the agents who'd been in Pitchfest.         

Fresh meat.

"Bob Diforio," he said as we shook hands. "Tell me about your book."

I mustered a smile. But—seriously—I was at that "do you want it or not" stage.

"I'm not sure I can," I said. Honest, but unhelpful.

"Ah, come one," he said. "I'd love to hear about it."

We bid farewell to Hank and walked a few paces away.

Pulling on depths I didn't know I had, I pitched for the tenth time. He asked for the manuscript. And then, bless his heart, sat in the hotel lobby and read the first few chapters. Before the cocktail party that evening, he offered me representation. He spent the evening chatting up my book to editors and introducing me to his other clients. I spent the evening in a happy daze.

All because MWA had reached out to me after the wildfire, then Hank had been friendly and inspiring at the MWA University, and finally I'd found a chance to connect with her and thank her for helping me. Hopefully Hank got a small glow from our reconnection. I know I did. Small as in megawatt laser.

As for the friend who offered to share her room at Thrillerfest? We now also share an agent. I introduced them over cocktails. A perfect ending to a wonderful weekend.

Looking for success and longing for happiness?

Ask not what your fellow writers can do for you. Ask, instead, what you can do for them.

About the Author:  Barbara Nickless is an award-winning author whose short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies in the U.S. and U.K. She is represented by Bob Diforio of the D4EO Literary Agency. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Writer Resources: SBDC, Think About It

By Stacy S. Jensen  

What do you have in your writing toolbox? Pikes Peak Writers is an obvious choice, but there are some non-writing organizations that can help you meet your writing goals.

Most of my writer friends are comfortable saying: I am a writer.

Most are a little fidgety when it comes to saying: I am a small business owner. We are writers and artists ... who let's face it need money to buy chocolate (and other things).

This spring, I stumbled upon a great resource the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center. I signed up for their newsletter months before, but it wasn't until The Digital Marketing Series: Driving leads for Business workshop appeared in my inbox that I had a light bulb moment.
I was staring at a list of skills I wanted to know more about to help in my writing career.

Cory Ostos Arcarese, of CArc Media, taught the workshops at a local Ent Federal Credit Union. The series was sponsored by Colorado SBDC and Ent. Each session cost $10 to reserve a spot. The fee was refunded after you attended the workshop.

I personally attended websites and blogging; Facebook; and LinkedIn sessions. Additional workshops were held on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms and Google+.

The series offered plenty of pertinent tips I can tailor to my needs as a not-yet-published writer and carry through when I cross the published threshold. Cory made a reference to the book Youtility by Jay Baer. This alone offered dozens of ideas for my blog.

I really like being a Facebook user, but didn't pick up on how my user decisions help advertisers reach me until this class. As an author, who wants to spend a small amount on Facebook, the network really allows you to drill down to a specific person — your reader — and to a very specific budget for your advertising campaign. Cory also shared you can schedule posts directly on your Facebook page. Since Facebook likes that better than third party apps, that was a very useful tip.

While I don't have a book to connect with readers, yet, I have already used several items from the sessions to share with friends, writers, and even my church's efforts to better utilize Facebook to promote its upcoming 60th Anniversary.

I also discovered the SBDC offers workshops online. You can watch webinars packed with information on your lunch break or in your pajamas. The website also has a Courses for Creatives page.

In addition to the information presented, the SBDC series gave me an opportunity to meet people outside of my writer tribe. It's fun and scary at the same time to hear people talk about bootstrapping her business. Wait. It's very similar to hearing a fellow writer talk about her latest book.

Sure there may be services you don't care about like writing a business plan, but if you decide you want one the SBDC has the resources to help you.

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and son.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quote of the week and the week to come

“I'm sorry, but I do hate this differentiation between the sexes. 'The modern girl has a thoroughly businesslike attitude to life' That sort of thing. It's not a bit true! Some girls are businesslike and some aren't. Some men are sentimental and muddle-headed, others are clear-headed and logical. There are just different types of brains.”  

~ Agatha Christie, Appointment with Death 

Source: Bing, Pulp & Goodreads

Agatha Christie (September 15, 1890- January 12, 1976)

Not only was she appointed the title of “Dame” by the Queen of England, but according to the Guiness Book of World Records, she is the best-selling author of all time.

This week on Writing from the Peak 

Sept. 28:  Writer Resources, The SBDC: Think about it by Stacy S. Jensen 

Sept. 30: The Real Secret to Networking: Change your approach by Barbara Nickless

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sweet Success! Jane Bigelow

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Jane Bigelow's short story "The Golden Ruse" was published in Luxor: Gods, Grit and Glory (ISBN 13: 978-1514779378, ISBN 10: 1514779374), on August 15, 2015 by Museum Tours, and edited by Bill Petty.  All the stories involve the city of Luxor, aka Thebes, aka Waset, and always a center of events in Egyptian history.

It has been a successful trading voyage for the Middle Kingdom trader Nebnefer. He's about to go home with a shipload of ebony and ivory, and a few twists of gold wire. Why does he feel so uneasy in the great trade city of Abu, then, and why is his old trading contact suddenly so distant? On his way home, he decides to stop for the night in Perhathor instead of pushing for Waset. It was the wrong choice.

Jane M. H. Bigelow writes fantasy, historical fiction, and short nonfiction. She has one novel and several short stories published, including "Healing Pain" in the recently released Gifts of Darkover anthology.  She is currently working on too many projects at once. Jane lives in Denver with her husband and fellow archaeology nut Robert, and two cats.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writer in Transition

Editor's Note: Pikes Peak Writers has members in every jurisdiction. But after reading Mike's post about his move, you might consider staying put. Enjoy!

By: Mike Befeler

Spoiler alert.  I no longer live in Colorado. The short version—my wife and I have moved to Lakewood, California. The Longer version—read on.
Moving is something I’m not very good at. The reason: I don’t do it very often. In fact we lived in the same house for thirty-eight years before my wife and I made the decision to move from Boulder to California. Many friends asked, “Why would you give up the beautiful mountains to go where there’s a drought?” The simple answer: our daughter was having a baby and we wanted to be there to help with childcare.

We spent several months sorting; donating furniture, clothes and stuff to the Salvation Army; and then checking off the to-do-list of all the things necessary to sell the house, buy a new one and get everything moved. Needless to say, I put writing on hiatus with my new more-than-full-time job.
Given the housing market, before we even put it on the market, we had a buyer who offered a good price, gave us a month leeway after the house was sold to stay in the house to help with the timing of our move to California, and didn’t insist on any items being fixed from the inspection report. In the meantime, we made a whirlwind trip to visit our daughter and bought a house near her. The day we arrived the realtor took us to see houses. Out of all we saw, we liked one. Still, we could only see it from the outside as it had gone on the market that day. The next day we went inside, knew it was our new home and made an offer. The following day there was a higher offer, so we sucked it up, met that, and the house was ours.

Then began the craziness of lining up the movers and coordinating the timing between the sale of the Boulder house and the closing of the California house. After one glitch with the movers, we got everything scheduled. We took off for a two-day drive to California with our cat. The problem—the first night when we stopped in Cedar City, Utah, my hand had swollen and was painful from a puncture wound the result of packing. I ended up in an emergency room diagnosed with a strep infection (cellulitis) and received two doses of intravenous antibiotic that night and one more the next morning before completing the drive. We set up our inflatable bed in our new house as it would be several days before the moving van arrived. Then in the wee hours of the next morning, I awoke with a fever, and my wife drove me to the closest ER. I ended up spending over three days in the hospital being pumped full of antibiotics, not the way I anticipated arriving in California.
The previous owners had not completed fixes to a shower, so while I was in the hospital workers arrived to continue the repair. Our cat got into the hole in the shower and disappeared into the crawl space under the house. My wife had to deal with my hospitalization and the cat’s disappearance, so it wasn’t a very good day for her. Finally, the cat came out after dark, so at least one of us had returned.

After being released from the hospital, I had to carry an IV pump with antibiotic for two weeks, then was weaned to oral antibiotics. 
The good news—I made a complete recovery. The bad news—writing stayed on hiatus. I kept my sanity by taking walks, and discovered that although I no longer had the mountain vistas, there were beautiful parks, bike paths and the nearby beaches.

Once my hand was functioning again, we began the paperwork of drivers licenses, car registration and address changes. Then out of the blue one of our insurance companies informed us that they were terminating our prescription drug coverage in three days. After several frantic calls, I found that we needed to convert to a Southern California plan from the Colorado plan. The cost was all of ten cents a month more, but the insurance company, in all its wisdom, chose to send us the incendiary letter rather than merely contacting us to make a change.
In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles wants people to get a new driver’s license within ten days of changing residence. But guess what? When I called the DMV to make an appointment, the first slot was six weeks later. Go figure.

Once I had my California driver’s license, I got my California sales tax license and then applied for a business license in Lakewood so I could sell my books at local events. An example of my stressed out brain at this point, I spent an hour applying for the Lakewood business license before noticing that I was on the Lakewood, CO web site not the Lakewood, CA web site.  
We now have that all taken care of. And what is happening in my writing world? I’ve been networking and connecting. I started playing pickleball once my hand healed and met people who directed me to a writers group and a library where I’ll be participating in a mystery panel early next year. I’ve joined the Los Angeles chapter of Sister in Crime, the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, attended a meeting of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime and a writers group, participated in two book clubs, given a talk to a book club, held a signing at a local independent bookstore, contacted three other book stores and a library for future signings, and scheduled a talk at a Rotary Club.

But the really important part of our move—our healthy, handsome and happy grandson was born in July. We live two miles from our daughter and her family and are seeing the little one on almost a daily basis. This makes all the hassle and problems worth it.
Thus begins a new chapter of a writer in transition.

Mike Befeler turned his attention to writing after a 39-year career in the computer industry. He now resides in Lakewood, CA, with his wife Wendy. His published novels in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series include: RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER (2007); LIVING WITH YOUR KIDS IS MURDER (2009), a finalist for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2009; SENIOR MOMENTS ARE MURDER (2011); CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER (2012), a finalist for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012; CARE HOMES ARE MURDER (2013); and NURSING HOMES ARE MURDER (2014). In April, 2013, Mike’s first paranormal mystery, THE V V AGENCY, was published, followed by THE BACK WING, a paranormal geezer-lit mystery. His most recent novel is MYSTERY OF THE DINNER PLAYHOUSE. Mike is past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. He also is the author of a biography, FOR LIBERTY: A WORLD WAR II SOLDIER’S INSPIRING LIFE STORY OF COURAGE, SACRIFICE, SURVIVAL AND RESILIENCE. Due out in October is Mike’s first historical mystery, MURDER ON THE SWITZERLAND TRAIL.