Friday, April 17, 2015

Sweet Success! Charlie Hubacek

By Kathie Scrimgeouor

Charlie Hubacek’s historical fiction novel, Into the High Ute Country (ISBN-9781311362278, 978-1508606536, ebook and POD paperback, 200 pages, readers 10 years and up) was released March 16, 2015, by Hart Hills Publishing. This book is available on Smashword, Kindle and Createspace.


John Randolph left Missouri following a long and devastating drought that caused him to lose his farm. He had heard of gold just for the taking in Colorado. On the way, he nearly died traveling over the hot, dry high plains, but he was rescued and taken to a new town in the Rocky Mountain foothills. There he found a new life as a lawman, with new problems and new challenges.

About the Author: Charlie Hubacek has always had an insatiable urge to write since he was eight years old. Following his departure from formal education, he was employed for many years with a number of weekly newspapers in southwest Missouri working in retail advertising, as a feature writer and an operations manager.

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 if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Library: A Great Writer's Resource

By Stacy S. Jensen

I hope you have a library card. Every writer should have one.

I wanted to share several ways I use my local library as a writer. Some are obvious, but some may be new to you.

This is a video I made last year for a contest 
the Pikes Peak Library District held called #PPLDRocks. 

In Colorado Springs, I use my local system Pikes Peak Library District. Here are the ways I use the library.
  • Meeting room — Most libraries offer free meeting space for groups. One critique group used to book a room for monthly critique groups. We just had to be sure to close the door to our little room in order not to disturb other patrons. Our new high tech branch Library 21c  even has meeting rooms with a MonoPad, a giant touch tablet. My critique group has used it to Skype in members who moved out of state. Some Pikes Peak Writers events are held at library meeting spaces, too.
  • Software — The library system recently began allowing card holders access to The company offers thousands of instruction videos on software, business and creative skills. You can watch videos on how to build a website with WordPress, how to design a logo, how to create a book cover or how to design a book. I recently found an online course for $147, but watched a similar course on the same topic for free from my library's subscription. You can either log in through the library on your home device or use a library computer to watch videos. You may have to wait for a turn to use through the library's system, but the cost savings can be significant.
  • Digital books — If the library system doesn't have a book I want, I'm open to checking out a digital or audio version. If it's available the Cybershelf, I can download an ebook to my Kindle or download a PDF.
  • Audio Books — I added an OverDrive app to my phone and tablet. I check out audio books via my library card onto my iPad. This allows me to "read" while I'm doing hands-on craft projects.
  • Videos — Need to study story structure via a video or just take a break? The library offers this too via OverDrive and Hoopla. ( I also have the option to borrow videos through OverDrive and videos and music through Hoopla. I also put DVDs on hold. Some of those are to entertain the kiddo.
  • Books — Here's my obvious use, but I'll tell you the library saves me a lot of time and money each week as I research books. At $16 more or less for a picture book, I rely on the library A LOT for my writing research and family entertainment.

For books I:
  • Put them on hold — I search the library catalog from my house and put dozens of titles on hold. I don't have to drive all over the city to pick up books at various branches. The library elves collect them and deliver them to my library. It's a time saver on several levels.
  • Request books — If the library doesn't have a copy of a title I want to read, I can request the book through an interlibrary loan. I haven't had much success with this. So, I typically ask the library to consider purchasing a book. I use Amazon to find the ISBN number and provide a few lines on why I think it would be a good fit for our system.
  •  Find display books — The library staff kindly puts several books on display in every section, so you can judge a book by its full cover. They don't mind that you grab these selections. I check out one on almost every library visit.
The library IS the original app store. You can find anything. 

How do you use your library? Any resources at your library that really help you as a writer?

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.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Scientific Classifications of a Critiquer Part II

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

Last time I was on the Pikes Peak Writers blog I started the very nineteenth century occupation of codifying the existence of various types of critiquers, critiquers being those people who read your work and feel inclined to offer their sometimes sage, often questionable opinions.

Ah, the prose that is purple and that uses so many wonderful words is such fun to write in a convoluted way.

Today I will continue the classifications of that curious animal, the critiquer.

1) THE IDEA GENIE – This is the guy or gal who gets excited and starts throwing out ideas. They are born storytellers who have seen way too many movies and read way too many books and they just love to brainstorm! They offer a million suggestions: You should make your main character an Inuit android! Or you should add more flying cars because there would be tons of flying cars there. And what about having the main character die halfway through and then come back to life as a zombie Inuit android?!?

a. THE DANGER: The Idea Genie can sometimes muddy the water. I’m pretty good at knowing my story, what has to happen, and where I’m headed. But the Idea Genie might derail me and then I get writer's block and suddenly I’m writing about zombie Inuit androids. Dammit!

b. THE POSITIVE: The more ideas the better! I love the Idea Genie because if I get stuck, or need help, he/she is right there to help me. And if the Idea Genie doesn’t have much to say? Beware! A good story should generate a million other stories.

2) THE CHOREOGRAPHER – They are the feng shui experts of fiction. They can see the room, where your characters are, what they are wearing, and how much nose hair is clogging up their nostrils. The Choreographers' imaginations are vibrant if you, as the writer, are doing your job at all well. If you aren’t, they generally will look at you as if you put a sofa in the bathroom next to the toilet.

a. THE DANGER: At times, they can get so stuck in the details, they can’t see the bigger picture. And, a poor choreographer can suggest you describe every little action in excruciating detail. For example: “Harvey placed his left foot into the car first, gripping the car door with his left hand, while his right hand held onto the lip of the roof, feeling the spongy rubber that would cling to the car door after he pulled it shut.” Versus: “Harvey got into the car.”

b. THE POSITIVE: I love me a good choreographer because I write scenes for the emotion and action and the character and the dialogue. I don’t care where they are in space, and so I need a choreographer to keep me grounded.

3) THE FASHIONISTA – This critiquer reads the trade journals, follows all the trendy publishing blogs, and spends hours reading about the market, about the deals, about what’s hot and what’s not. She knows the fiction fashion trends and the itchy little tastes of industry professionals. Prologue? No. Heavy narrator? No. Long titles? No. Close third-person POV? Yes. First person? Even better. Short titles? Yes. Series? Yes (if handled well). Novellas? Yes.

a. THE DANGER: The publishing fashionista can get so caught up in the shoulds, the musts, and the current fashion trends, that he/she forgets that writing has no rules. Good writing works even if it has a prologue, a heavy narrative voice, and a long title. Also, the Fashionistas can come across as such experts you will kill your book to please them when in the end, no one knows what is going to sell and when fashion trends begin and end.

b. THE POSITIVE: Let the Fashionista do the research for you. Listen to them, take what you like, and then walk politely away. Knowing the market can be helpful, but again, be careful. Books are murdered everyday by people who know exactly what New York is looking for. And when I say New York, I mean the publishing industry experts. While the readers? They don’t care about the trends. They read what they like. And so we come to my favorite critique.

4) PLAIN JANE READER EXTRAORDINAIRE – He/she is a reader first. They love books. They love stories. They get swept along in the action and will cry when it’s sad and laugh when it’s funny. They might not offer much concrete advice on how to fix stuff, but they will have a general idea of what doesn’t work and when. They are not editors. Actually, they are the evil anti-editors. Which for a critiquer might be what you need, especially if they are one voice among many offering suggestions.

a. THE DANGER: If you get too many Plain Janes, you won’t get much help when things don’t work. And the critiques might be really ambiguous, as in, “I didn’t like what happened there, but I don’t know how to fix it.” Or, “I didn’t like your zombie Inuit android character. He just didn’t seem real enough for me.”

b. THE POSITIVE: Are we writing for editors, or are we writing for readers? This is your audience. Their feedback is priceless. When I get a real reader to read my stuff, and they offer suggestions, I listen. I listen closely. Because unlike other critiquers, they don’t have an agenda. It’s not about their ego or my ego, it’s about the story and the impact it has on another human mind, willing to give up her minutes to read my work. And when my stuff works? The Plain Jane reader gets so excited. It is such a VICTORY!

5) THE PROFESSIONAL EDITOR GENIUS WUNDERKIND – Don’t confuse Harry Hater or the Fashionista with the Professional Editor Genius Wunderkind They might look and sound similar. However, the Genius Wunderkind is the person who has that unique genius to find exactly what doesn’t work in your book and then points to possible solutions. In essence, they are the ultimate critiquer. They could edit professionally. Generally, I’ve found them to be humble and unassuming, and good, so good, that when they give you their critique your hair will stand on edge, and you won’t dread the re-write. You will look forward to incorporating their edits because they have dynamited the fluff and you can get to the juicy stuff.

a. THE DANGER: The Genius Wunderkind can do a million things right, but they will have their faults. If you listen to everything they say, you may wind up with a book that doesn’t work. Why? Because their job is to offer suggestions, but they might offer bad advice. Why? Dang, but we’re all so human and imperfect. For example, the Genius might be a master at plot, but will fall short when it comes to character. So listen to them closely about plot, but with character, be more wary.

b. THE POSITIVE: Duh. Free professional editing. A better book. The excitement of a better draft. And did I mention free professional editing?

Stay tuned for Part III! Next time, I will reveal what kind of critiquer I am and how I've worked with the different classifications over the years.

About the Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of The Never Prayer and Long Live the Suicide King, both finalists in various contests. His latest novel, Elizabeth’s Midnight, will hit the streets May 7, 2015. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his steampunk story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” was part of The Best of Penny Dread Tales anthology published through Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. His upcoming young adult sci-fi/western epic series will also be published through WordFire Press. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two ancient goddesses of chaos posing as his daughters.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"I am not interested in the ephemeral — such subjects as the adulteries of dentists. I am interested in those things that repeat and repeat and repeat in the lives of the millions."
Thornton Wilder (April 17, 1897 - December 7, 1975)
Our Town
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Winner, Pulitzer Prize for Literature

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Aaron Michael Ritchey continues his series on the different types of critiquers

* Stacy Jensen expounds on all the resources offered at public libraries

* Kathie Scrimgeour shares Sweet Success with N.K. Travers

Friday, April 10, 2015

Sweet Success: N.K. Trever

By Kathie Scrimgeour

N.K. Trever’s young adult cyber-thriller, Duplicity, (ISBN: 978-1250059147, hardcover/ebook/audiobook, 256 pages), was released March 17, 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books (Macmillan). Duplicity is available at

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

About the Author: As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. TRAVER decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said "no one could make a living" with an English degree. It wasn't too many years later Traver realized it didn't matter what the job paid--nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped. Duplicity is Traver's first novel.

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 if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

PPW Conference Tips

By Jaxine Daniels

Hello, Campers. The time is almost here for the 2015 conference. If you haven’t already registered, do it today. It is worth the time and money. If it weren’t, I wouldn’t be flying clear across the country to come.

For some of you, this will be your first conference. For others, your nth. Either way, here are some tips to make the most of your conference... in no particular order.

1. Be sociable - no wallflowers allowed. This might be harder than it looks on the surface. Writing, by its very nature, is a solitary experience. We writers tend to be those who stand on the periphery taking notes, watching the story unfold. So, for these three days, work hard to get out of your shell and make new friends. If you’re attending with a friend, don’t hang out exclusively with your friend. You can do that anytime. This is the time to network with new people and rekindle relationships with folks you don’t see but once a year.

2. This tip goes hand in hand with the first: Approach. I haven’t yet met a single author at a PPW conference (well, maybe one) that was unapproachable. Most authors love to talk shop with anyone who will listen. Agents and editors are, for the most part, the same way. CAUTION - schmoozing with an agent or editor is not the time (unless THEY ask) for you to sell your book. Be yourself, have your 25-word synopsis ready on your tongue (see #3) and don’t pressure yourself to sell.

3. Write and memorize your 25-word synopsis for the piece you’re working on or wanting to pitch. You may have the opportunity to rattle it off to an editor or agent. But certainly, you’ll have the opportunity to use it with other authors when they ask, “What are you writing?” If you need more information on writing a 25-word synopsis (a.k.a. logline), here’s a link to my article on the subject:

4. Bring plenty of business cards. If you don’t have printed business cards, make them. The pertinent information is your name, your email and your website if you have one. If you have questions for a workshop presenter, and don’t have time to ask it in person, jot it down on the back of your card and hand it off.

5. Speaking of questions, it’s not too early to start listing questions you have that you’d like answered.

6. Write down your goals ahead of time. Goals for learning, goals for meeting, goals for helping. Spend some time with the brochure and select workshops specific to your listed goals, if you can. For example, if you feel you’re weak in the area of plotting, target your learning to this area. Make sure, though, that you take at least one workshop that is something new or off-target. And, remember, most workshops are recorded. Make use of the CDs.

7. If you have an editor/agent appointment, try to attend that person’s workshop or panel ahead of time. That will give you a feel for the person and answer some of your questions. That way, you don’t waste your precious appointment time with questions you could have answered elsewhere. As a matter of fact, Google that person before you even go to the conference. Find out everything you can about them and read every interview you can find. Preparation is confidence’s twin!

8. If you’ve even started a piece of fiction, you’re a writer. Don’t discount that fact - EVER. Be that writer. Be a professional. Start thinking of yourself in those terms and you will begin to act like it.

9. Remember, it’s not just during workshops that you can learn. Sit for a moment with someone you admire. Ask questions. Be prepared with a business card to jot down your question so that the other person can get back to you after the conference with an answer.

10. Stash a few small thank-you notes in your bag. There’s nothing better than getting a thank-you (written, not just verbal) from someone at a conference. 'That was a great workshop, I learned XYZ about character building. Thanks.' Or, 'Your speech at lunch yesterday was very inspiring. Thank you.' Make sure you put your name and email address on these notes. You may just strike up a friendship. (Note: the key to great thank-you notes is to include three points of cognition, which personalizes the thank-you and lets the receiver know the note is not just a form letter. These three points are specific to the recipient). For example: 'Hank, I enjoyed your Friday workshop on finding an agent so much, particularly the bit about cover letters.'

Follow up afterwards. Send that manuscript. You’d be surprised how many authors don’t do this - duh. Return the emails you promised. Send after conference thank-you notes. You can even ask questions by email weeks later.

11. Most of all, have fun. Don’t be afraid to miss a session and just sit in the lobby chatting. While many authors have been successful selling a manuscript at conference, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to sell that you miss having fun and learning.

Well, that’s it for this month. I invite each of you to say hello when you see me at conference.

In the meantime, BiC-HoK.

Jax and

About the Author:  Jaxine Daniels is a published romance writer and freelance copywriter. She wears many hats including EMT, CPR instructor, and Grammy. She is currently working on a contemporary romance series set in ranching country Colorado and a historical romance set in 1775 Massachusetts. She lives in Colorado Springs, belongs to PPW, RMFW and is a member of the Professional Writer's Alliance.

Monday, April 6, 2015

April Letter from the Editor

By Debi Archibald

I am writing this on Good Friday so we are exactly three weeks away from PPWC15. This will be my third conference and I find myself reflecting on how differently I feel about Conference, writers'
groups and writing in general than I did in Spring 2013 when I joined PPW. I had just walked away from a management career that required a grueling travel schedule. One of the promises I made to myself was that I would make use of the time I now had to return to a long-neglected love of writing. But the world of publication, promotion and "real" writers seemed very other-wordly and looking back, I can see I participated in PPWC13 with that mindset.      

Now two years later I have completed two novels, been privileged to edit the Writing from the Peak blog and attended dozens of workshops. Two concepts that continue to bubble up as a result of this engagement are demystification and accessibility. PPW has drawn back the curtain and revealed that the world of published authors is populated by people who are just like me. And the group has given me access to an insiders pass for information regarding craft, editing, trends, and the workings of the industry.

I share this not because my journey is unique or fascinating. As writers we all want to think we are special but I suspect there are many others out there who feel safer in the periphery just as I did that first year. So let me encourage you not to waste the opportunity of this upcoming conference as well as all the other PPW events through the year. Take risks, make friends and realize this world really does belong to you as much as anyone else. There is no Wizard behind the curtain; just the door to the wonderful, nerve-wracking world of words.