Thursday, March 5, 2015

Faculty Interview: Robert Spiller

Compiled by Jason Henry

Are you excited? We certainly are! Why shouldn't we be? The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is just around the corner! It has been an absolute pleasure recruiting the incredible faculty that we have lined up for you this year and the workshops they will be teaching are proving to be just as amazing.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference is known as one of the best and friendliest conferences for many reasons. One of those reasons is that we provide as many opportunities as possible to not only learn from our faculty, but to get to know them. Keeping in the spirit of that very statement, we interviewed all of our faculty members to get inside their heads just a little. Really, we don't see the point in waiting until April. Do you?

Over the weeks to come, we will be posting those interviews along with the responses right here on the PPW Blog. Be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter as well! We hope you enjoy reading these brief Q&As as much as we have!

Robert Spiller (Author, Colorado)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
Two things really: First of all is the fun factor. If I am enjoying myself during the read, as in time spent with a good-hearted lunatic like Bertie Wooster or in the mind of an ingenious antagonist as in the Cask of Amontillado, I'm there. Second I love to learn something. Luckily for me, a number of the books I've been sucked into lately fit this bill. One that comes to mind is Freakanomics. Now a book that is both fun and teaches me something is a gem.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
Time is a factor in both. Time to write, edit, promote, and critique other's works comprise both pleasure and pain. Although, I have to confess, the magic time at the beginning of a new project is as close to pure pleasure as only one other activity that I can think of.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
Write even if all you have to say is pure crap. Because behind the crap is all the good stuff.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it? 
I pass it along as often as I can.

5. What do you love most about your career?
 I love to hold a book I've written in my hand.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you?
 I'm not sure I have any secrets, but here goes. I have room in my heart and soul for as many friends as are willing to give me a go.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you?
I have no idea what character family would pick for me, but as for myself, here's a list: Cyrano, Harry Bausch, The King in King Bidgood's in the Bathtub, AJ Fikry, and of course Samwise Gamgee.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? Plotter

Book or E-Book? Book

Spicy or Mild? Spicy

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Mister Rogers

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook

  
Besides being a master of space and time, Robert Spiller is the author of the Bonnie Pinkwater mystery series: The Witch of Agnesi, A Calculated Demise, Irrational Numbers, and most recently Radical Equations. Napier’s Bones, the fifth in the series is due for release at the end of 2014. His math teacher/sleuth uses mathematics and her knowledge of historic mathematicians to solve murders in the small Colorado town of East Plains. A retired mathematician, Robert lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife Barbara. Robert has taught a number of classes at PPWC, Writebrain, Authorfest, Texas Middle School Conference and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Inside The Romantic Fiction Bootcamp: A Sneak Peek at the Prequel Workshop

(Editor's Note: This post appears in place of the regularly scheduled first Wednesday post.)

By MB Partlow

The Romantic Fiction Bootcamp is just one of the three-hour workshops offered as part of the Thursday Prequel to the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. The instructor, Barbara (Samuel) O’Neal, is an award-winning author who agreed to give us the inside scoop about what to expect in her bootcamp, as well as why anyone would want to write Romance in the first place.

PPWC: Why would anyone want to write romance? Isn’t the market flooded?

​Barbara: We are living in a society that values a cynical, sophisticated view of the world. We’re so world-weary and knowing and sophisticated about everything that a romance sometimes seems impossibly quaint. We’re overrun with divorce and “hooking up” and texting break-ups and social mayhem of all sorts, after all.

We tell ourselves that we know what really happens to a lot of romance in the real world. Divorce, we say with sour faces. Affairs. Peter Pan men and disenchanted women and nobody cares about the long term.

And yet, romance novels continue to be incredibly popular.

Even as we are spouting our cynical statistics and bemoaning the state of love in the world, people are desperate to connect. For all of our social media, for all the shallow texting and chatter that goes on, we all long to be seen by others, to really know and be known. We yearn for union and happiness, so much so that people will pay for professional huggers to come over and lie down and hold them.

Human beings need love. We want love and sex and happiness and families. Finding love is a dizzying, heady, life-transforming power. Finding the right partner is also one of the most important contributors to long term happiness, which makes choosing that partner one of the most powerful decisions you will make in your life.

Romance novels are hopeful in a world that often seems to be full of crashing doom and despair.

And no, it is not a flooded market by any stretch​.

​It continues to outsell every other genre by hundreds millions of dollars every year. Nothing, nothing, nothing sells better than romance.

PPWC: How will this workshop help me if I’m new to writing romance?

Barbara: It will give you a clear, easy framework of the elements of writing romance, along with some of the most important elements that many workshops overlook, including ​the importance of authenticity and finding your own voice and passions. Writing a romance has some specific elements that are less important than others, such as the emotional arc of the story, the beats of attraction and consummation...and yes, a discussion of how to deal with sex (hint: it is not as challenging as you might think).

PPWC: I've already got a romance or two under my belt. What can I expect to get from this workshop that I don't already know?

Barbara: There is a lot here for everyone--beginner and experienced writer alike. The writer with a few credits and some understanding will take more away from the discussions of voice, depth of theme and the embroidery of grace notes and sense of place than a new writer will. All will be able to adapt the exercises to his or her own level.

PPWC: The romance market has undergone massive changes over the years. How is today's romance market significantly different than the past?

​Barbara: Mainly, there's just MORE. More variety, including Young Adult and New Adult, spicy, spicy erotica and erotic romance (there is a difference), romantic women's fiction, vampires and historicals and everything in between. There are also more markets, dozens and dozens of them, and a dedicated writer who is willing to learn the craft and keep working will eventually find her way to publication. ​

PPWC: Paranormal romance. Romantic suspense. Erotica. Historicals, time travel, contemporary, inspirational, YA…can you help me figure this out?

​Barbara: Yes, we will definitely talk about all the sub genres in romance novels. ​

PPWC: What do you love the most about being a writer, particularly a romance writer?

​Barbara: As they say in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, "If it is not yet all right, it is not yet the end." I love a happy ending. I love writing about people finding connection and happiness and partners. It's a joyful part of life. We all want to fall in love, don't we?

The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference takes place on April 24-26, with extended Prequel workshops on Thursday, April 23. The Prequel can be added to registration for the conference, or can be purchased as a stand-alone day.

Barbara (Samuel) O’Neal

Barbara O’Neal sold her first novel in her twenties, and has since won a plethora of awards, including two Colorado Book Awards and seven prestigous RITAs, including one for THE LOST RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS in 2010 and HOW TO BAKE A PERFECT LIFE in 2012. Her novels have been published widely around the world and she travels internationally, presenting workshops, hiking hundreds of miles, and of course, eating. She lives with her partner, a British endurance athlete, and their collection of cats and dogs, in Colorado Springs. Her most current works are The All You Can Dream Buffet; Going the Distance, a series of New Adult novels written as Lark O’Neal, and Writing Romantic Fiction as Barbara Samuel.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Faculty Interview: Pam McCutcheon

Compiled by Jason Henry

Are you excited? We certainly are! Why shouldn't we be? The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is just around the corner! It has been an absolute pleasure recruiting the incredible faculty that we have lined up for you this year and the workshops they will be teaching are proving to be just as amazing.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference is known as one of the best and friendliest conferences for many reasons. One of those reasons is that we provide as many opportunities as possible to not only learn from our faculty, but to get to know them. Keeping in the spirit of that very statement, we interviewed all of our faculty members to get inside their heads just a little. Really, we don't see the point in waiting until April. Do you?

Over the weeks to come, we will be posting those interviews along with the responses right here on the PPW Blog. Be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter as well! We hope you enjoy reading these brief Q&As as much as we have!

Pam McCutcheon (Author, Colorado)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
Compelling characters with real emotions you can relate to and care about.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
The rapid change in technologies give authors many more opportunities (pleasure) but create confusion (difficulties) in knowing what the hell to do make a career out of this crazy business.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
Puke it out now, clean it up later. (Nora Roberts)

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it?
I’d pass it on, definitely.

5. What do you love most about your career?
I love crafting stories that engender a specific emotion (usually humor) in readers. When my critique group gives me a smiley face in the right place, it gives me warm fuzzies.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
Despite the fact that I love to teach, I’m a raging introvert. I’m not rude, just introverted!

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
Strangely enough, I relate most to the telepathic hellhound in my Demon Underground series. He’s snarky and says what he thinks, but cares about his friends and family. My friends would probably agree.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Both. Pen for drafting a scene skeleton the night before; keyboard for puking it out and editing.

Plotter or Pantser? Both. I plot in advance with a plotting board, but leave the way open for my characters to take me in different directions (and boy, do they!)

Book or E-Book? Both.

Spicy or Mild? Both. Spicy romance, mild YA.

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunset—I’m a night person.

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Captain Kangaroo.

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.

    
Pam McCutcheon is the author of romance novels and how-to books for writers under her own name, and the Demon Underground YA urban fantasy series under the name Parker Blue. Pam’s latest releases are an updated e-book version of her popular Writing the Fiction Synopsis, as well as e-book versions of her romance backlist. Parker’s sixth Demon Underground book, Catch Me, is coming out in early 2015 from Bell Bridge Books. Pam/Parker recently quit her day job and is now working full-time as a writer, editor, and speaker. She can be found on the ’net at pammc.com or parkerblue.net.



Monday, March 2, 2015

March Letter from the Editor

By Debi Archibald

Here in Colorado Springs, we have been dealing with a somewhat abnormal stretch of gray days and accumulating snow and so my letter to you was beginning to formulate itself around the themes of cabin fever, isolation, and the effects on the writer of winter.

And then I saw Still Alice. While the overarching subject is Alzheimer's, Alice's background as a brilliant linguist shines the light on language acquisition, human communication and the devastating loss of the ability to master words. These concepts have continued to stay with me with much more intensely than any other aspect of the film.  I have always found the mechanics of language to be fascinating and as I began to define myself less as a linguist and more as a writer, that fascination migrated to the way we can take something as concrete as words and create entire worlds, populations, lives.

www.creativitypost.com
And so it strikes me that those of us who are able and desire to string together curves and lines into letters and letters into words, words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs have a sacred trust. Language is an oft taken-for-granted miracle and as writers we are privileged to participate in its progression and elevation.

Philosophizing aside, your opportunity to interact with a talented group of fellow writers who value language as much as you do is less than two months away. At Conference in April you can rub elbows (literally - some of the classrooms are, shall we say, cozy) with people who choose to transform words on the page into more types of creative realities and storylines than you can begin to imagine. The cost goes up in less than two weeks, so click on over to the "Conference" tab and find all the details on registration.

And keep being part of the mystery of language.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"Tricks you need to transform something which appears fantastic, unbelievable into something plausible, credible, those I learned from journalism. The key is to tell it straight. It is done by reporters and by country folk."


www.abc.es

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (3/6/27 - 4/17/14)Love in the Time of Cholera
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Recipient, Novel Prize for Literature


This week on Writing from the Peak:


* Letter from the Editor                                 Debi Archibald

* Faculty Interview: Pam McCutcheon       Jason Henry

* First Wednesday Post                                  Deb McLeod

* Faculty Interview: Robert Spiller              Jason Henry

* PPW March News & Events                       Debi Archibald

* Faculty Interview: Pete Klismet                Jason Henry



Saturday, February 28, 2015

Faculty Interview: Mike Befeler

Compiled by Jason Henry

Are you excited? We certainly are! Why shouldn't we be? The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is just around the corner! It has been an absolute pleasure recruiting the incredible faculty that we have lined up for you this year and the workshops they will be teaching are proving to be just as amazing.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference is known as one of the best and friendliest conferences for many reasons. One of those reasons is that we provide as many opportunities as possible to not only learn from our faculty, but to get to know them. Keeping in the spirit of that very statement, we interviewed all of our faculty members to get inside their heads just a little. Really, we don't see the point in waiting until April. Do you?

Over the weeks to come, we will be posting those interviews along with the responses right here on the PPW Blog. Be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter as well! We hope you enjoy reading these brief Q&As as much as we have!

Mike Befeler (Author, Colorado)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
Characters that grab your interest. I like putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and see how they handle it.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? Pleasures: meeting interesting people, the thrill of completing a manuscript and the joy of seeing it in print, researching a new subject. Difficulties: agents, editors, etc. who don't respond, the time to get something published

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
Keep writing. When one manuscript is completed, start the next one.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it?
 I would pass it on. Build a portfolio of manuscripts. Then you can decide which to publish traditionally or self-publish.

5. What do you love most about your career? 
I'm fortunate that I was able to retire into writing. I can writer whatever I want and pursue any subject that interests me. As an example, I'm a fiction writer but I'm writing a biography now of a 96-year-old WWII infantryman who was captured by the Germans and liberated by the Russians. I wasn't planning to write this, but when I was introduced to Ed, I couldn't resist telling his story.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
I wish others recognized my work ethic and ability to make and keep commitments

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? Interesting questions that I've never considered.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? plotter- basic not detailed

Book or E-Book? Book

Spicy or Mild? Mild

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook

   
Mike Befeler writes the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series including Nursing Homes Are Murder, Care Homes Are Murder; Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, a finalist for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012; Senior Moments Are Murder; Living with Your Kids Is Murder; and Retirement Homes Are Murder. He has two published paranormal mysteries, The V V Agency and The Back Wing and another novel titled Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse. After thirty-nine years in the high tech world, he retired into fiction writing. He grew up in Hawaii and lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife Wendy. http://www.mikebefeler.com

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sweet Success - Darby Karchut

By Kathie Scrimgeour

Darby Karchut’s YA fantasy, Griffin Rising (ISBN 978-0-9741145-6-9, trade paperback, 200 pages), was re-released in 2014, by Copper Square Studios. It is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many independent bookstores.




Armed with the power to control Earth and Fire, a sixteen-year-old teen is determined to complete his apprenticeship and rise to the rank of Terrae Angeli. But first, he must overcome a brutal past to survive in this world. For Griffin, it’s time to angel up.

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. She's been known to run in blizzards and bike in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby writes urban fantasy for tweens, teens, and adults.


We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at ppwsweetsuccess@gmail.com if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.