Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

“I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. It’s greed, plain and simple. When my characters join the circus, I’m joining the circus. Although I’m happily married, I spent a great deal of time mentally living with incompatible husbands.”

Anne Tyler (October 25, 1941)

Breathing Lessons (Pulitzer Prize)
The Accidental Tourist
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* The Importance of Catchy Titles               Karen Albright Lin

* A Little Zebulon Fiction                               Robert Wyckoff

* Sweet Success! Karen Albright Lin           Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sweet Success! Dr. Yvonne DeMoss

Compiled By Kathie Scrimgeour

Dr. Yvonne DeMoss’ self help book, Flying Beyond Fear (paperback, 230 pages, ages 8+), will be released on November 7, 2014 by Dorrance Publishing, Inc. This practical workbook for anxious/phobic flyers will be available through Dorrance Publishing and Amazon.

Dr. DeMoss has taught classes on anxious flying with both Frontier and United Airlines, teaches at various colleges in Denver and has had an active pschotherapy practice specializing in mood disorders and trauma for over 20 years. You can find her at her website,

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, October 15, 2014

Do You Travel With Books? — A Reader University Post

By Stacy S. Jensen

This is the tenth post in a series of 12 ways to help authors (and your writing) by reading.

When we travel, books are always on our packing list. 
Travel frees up reading time. My family travels:

  • with print books.
  • with an ereader — Kindle or iPad.
  • ready to chat about books.

We always find time in the car for an audio book or a paperback in the airport. I have the Kindle app on my phone and tablets. I have a collection of picture books and novels on the Kindle. Yes, kiddo uses tablets. Let’s ignore studies on the impact of my parenting decision for a moment, as I tell you that at 10,000 feet on a plane I’ve never received a complaint about my son’s behavior. I have heard comments like “I wish I had one of those when my kid was little.”
I love to talk to people at airports or on a plane about their reading choices. Word of mouth book recommendations equal priceless marketing for an author you enjoy. I love getting random parenting advice from fellow travelers too.
 Of course, we can travel and explore new worlds without an airplane ticket or filling up the gas tank just by picking up a book. I miss the pre-9/11 days of people watching at the airport, as you waited at the gate for family members to arrive.
What’s your book format of choice when you travel?
(This post originally appeared on Stacy S. Jensen's blog on March 10, 2014)

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 toddler.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questions and Answers with a Cynical Devil and an Understanding Angel

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

So the PPW blog editor suggested we answer some newbie questions on publishing and I realized, almost immediately, that I have two very distinct voices in my head. I figured I’d answer some questions using both voices because the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
Where do I begin my book?
CYNICAL DEVIL:  You are new. You don’t know a thing, so just write.  Once you pull your head out of your butt, you’ll figure out where you should start your story. Most likely, you’ll be like everyone else and spend five chapters getting ready. That’s fine. Just write your book, the whole thing, and don’t look back.  f you stop and try to edit along the way, you’ll be like every other person who wants to write a book and never does.
UNDERSTANDING ANGEL:  There are numerous books on plotting, and I’d recommend Robert McKee’s Story. Really, the first chapter should be as close to the inciting incident as possible, if not the inciting incident itself. Really, the seeds of the main conflict should be in the first chapter, but don’t worry too much. Most likely, you’ll have to re-write the opening quite a few times. Look at other books that are similar to yours and see what they’ve done.

Should I include a prologue?
CYNICAL DEVIL:  If you do, no agent or editor will look at it twice. Prologues are despised by everyone in the industry. And why not just start with the story? What? Are you trying to be all fancy? You think you’re better than me?
UNDERSTANDING ANGEL:  The best use of prologue I’ve seen was in the pilot episode of Firefly, the TV series. It set up the whole series. In the end, if the prologue works, include it, and if it doesn’t, start with Chapter One. The nice thing about this industry is that there are no rules. Do what you think makes sense and again, take a look at your favorite books, with and without prologues, and decide what makes the most sense for your story.
How do I know when a book is done?
CYNICAL DEVIL:  Your book is never done. If it’s your first book, finish it, and then burn it. Write your second book. It will be far better.  Edit until your eyes bleed ink and your fingers fall off. Then write the next one.
UNDERSTANDING ANGEL:  This is a hard question because you can chase critiques for years and with a novel in process, everyone is going to offer up their opinions on how to make it better and how to change it. Generally, a novel will take two or three drafts to take shape. Scenes will have to be juggled or cut. Additional material might be needed. Characters might be scrapped or added. But I’m talking two or three major drafts. Again, there are no hard or fast rules. Some books have needed to be rewritten from the beginning, while others were hardly touched. If you read the whole thing, and you can’t think of anything to add or change, then it’s finished. For now. Once you start working with an editor on that final, final draft, well, that’s when you’ll know. Until you start thinking of what you want to add to the second edition.

I’ve finished my book.  Now what?
CYNICAL DEVIL: You’re not finished. Go back and fix it. If you think it’s finished, query agents and editors. Once they all reject you, and they will, write the next one. If you think you have the guts to self-publish, do that. But keep writing, editing, and shopping your work around. If you aren’t doing that, you’re not a writer, and you are wasting everyone’s time. Life is short. If you don’t have to write, don’t. If you need to write, you have my sincerest condolences.
UNDERSTANDING ANGEL:  Talk to other writers and authors and get a feel for their careers and what they have done. Some writers are driven to get traditionally published, and so they will craft query letters, write synopses of various lengths, and they will reach out to literary agents. If you find a literary agent that thinks they can sell your manuscript, they will shop it around to editors at publishing houses. Some writers have found success by approaching editors at smaller presses, at writer’s conferences and other venues. And some writers have self-published their work and have loved the process. You’ll need to hire a cover artist and an editor because self-publishing still requires the cleanest, best manuscript you can deliver. It’s so nice that we have so much freedom and so many options. But it all goes back to writing the best book you can.

Final thoughts?
CYNICAL DEVIL:  Get out while you still have a soul, newbie.
UNDERSTANDING ANGEL:  At every part of the game, there are aspects of the writing process to enjoy and to celebrate. From writing that rough draft, to editing, to querying, and to publishing and the sales and marketing you’ll have to do once the book is out in the world. Holding your finished book in your hands is immensely satisfying. You have done what few others in the history of the world have ever done. You have written and crafted a book. It’s not easy, there is heartbreak and consternation around every corner, but in the end, what we do is a noble endeavor and I wish you all the courage and the luck there is. One last piece of advice; try to avoid the CYNICAL DEVILS inside and outside of your own head.  n the end, they aren’t that helpful and they mostly only offer fear and hate anyway.  They also tend to smell bad.

About the Author:  Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of Long Live the Suicide King, a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite contest. Kirkus Reviews calls the story “a compelling tale of teenage depression handled with humor and sensitivity.” His debut novel, The Never Prayer, was also a finalist in the Colorado Gold contest. His forthcoming works include a new young adult novel from Staccato Publishing and a six-book sci-fi/western series from WordFire Press. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his story The Dirges of Percival Lewand was nominated for a Hugo. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two goddesses posing as his daughters.
For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"Unbeing dead isn't being alive."

(Can't the same be said about writing?)


E.E. (Edward Estin) Cummings (October 14, 1894 - September 3, 1962
Fairy Tales
Complete Poems
Tulips & Chimneys

Awards:  Guggenheim Fellowship, Fellowship of American Academy of Poets, Special Citation; National Book Award

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Cynical Devil/Understanding Angel               Aaron Michael Ritchey

* Do You Travel With Books? (Reader-U)        Stacy S. Jensen

* Sweet Success! Yvonne DeMoss                       Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweet Success! Kelly Baker

Compiled by Kathie Scrimgeour

Kelly Michelle Baker’s young adult fantasy, The Waters of Nyra: Volume 1 (ISBN: 978-1500587321, paperback and ebook, 70,000 words), was released on July 26th, 2014, by CreateSpace. This novel is available on Amazon

Never an ordinary dragon, Nyra grew up forbidden to breathe fire or fly. Like her mother before her, she has only known a life of enslavement, held in thrall by mountain dragons, which need Nyra’s ripening wings to secure hunting for the future. But at the cusp of her first flying lesson, Nyra uncovers a secret in plain sight, one thought unknown to her enslavers, and one putting her at the focal point of rebellion should it come into play.

About the Author:  Born a U.S. military brat, Kelly grew up on both coasts and everywhere in between. She studied at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and is now finishing her Master's in Ecology and Sustainability. When not writing or trying to save the world, she enjoys drawing, theater, long walks, and new recipes. The Waters of Nyra is her first novel. She calls Colorado Springs home.

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, October 8, 2014

Ten Tips for the First Thousand Words

By Jaxine Daniels

Tips for the first thousand words.
It’s tough to sell a book. No two ways about it. Rejection sucks. But still we continue, shaking our heads in wonder at yet another version of The DaVinci Code. The best thing we can do in order to sell our novel is to write the best book we possibly can. This column, however, will focus on the first one thousand words of your manuscript. 

That’s four pages, folks. And, if we don’t sell our book in those pages - some say in the first paragraph - some, the first sentence - we likely won’t sell our book at all. So, here are ten tips to making those first one thousand words stick in an editor’s or agent’s mind - to make him keep reading.

1. Make your first sentence ROCK. Next time you’re at your favorite book store, pick a random sampling from the best seller rack and jot down the first sentence of each. Study first sentences. What works? What doesn’t?

2. Cliche alert. Nothing will nix a sale faster than starting off with a cliche. It’s the sign of an amateur. If your story starts with a cliche, make sure your necessary twist comes as close to those first four pages as possible.

3. Adverbs. I know you’ve heard this a million times and, if you’re like me, you have come close to hair pulling as you searched for ways to avoid adverbs altogether. The simple truth: you can’t. But search through your first four pages for “ly” and nix as many as you can.

4. Introduce your hero and, perhaps, his adversary (at least you must hint at this). The first time you mention your hero - generally, he is the first character mentioned - use his first and last name. If you can limit the number of characters you introduce in these crucial four pages, do so. You don’t want to confuse your reader, allowing him to put the manuscript down.

5. Present the novel’s theme/premise. Remember, the theme is the story’s soul, what the story is trying to say. Does the story revolve around love, hate, jealousy, honor, truth, integrity? Premise gives meaning to the events of your story, beyond what is on the surface. Without meaning, a story is lifeless.

6. Showcase your writing by making sure that, within those first one thousand words, there is a bit of everything:  great dialogue, great description, narration, action, emotion. I know that’s a lot to ask in four pages, but you may only have those four pages to sell your writing skills.

7. Give your reader a glimpse of the danger to come. A novel is a promise, a promise that you will get your hero into inescapable danger, physically, emotionally, and then, somehow, get him out again. Let your reader see the menace on the horizon.

8. Make him smile. Even in the midst of the action, in the throes of angst, when bullets are flying or the plane is crashing, if you can add a touch of humor, do it. Humor makes your characters more human, makes them ring true in the heart of your reader.

9. No exclamation points allowed. NONE!!!! In fact, do a search of your entire manuscript. There should be no more than two exclamation points in the entire novel!!!!

10. Manuscript formatting. If your pages are not formatted correctly, it won’t matter if you have the next Harry Potter. None of the previous nine points will make any impact, if an editor picks up your baby and tosses it without reading even the first sentence. No purple paper. No fancy font to 
“set it apart”.   Either your words set you apart or they don’t. Don’t mess with the formatting. Eh, eh, eh - no “buts” - trust me on this one.

Hope these suggestions help, Campers.

Until next month, BIC-HOK (Butt in Chair – Hands on Keyboard). 

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.