Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Do you review books? — A Reader University Post

By Stacy S. Jensen

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

I’ve heard self-published authors mention before that one of the most valuable ways to support them is to write a review. An honest review can help an author sell more books. 
There are many ways to share a review. An easy place to begin:
  • online
  • at a book club
  • in person
I mostly think about online reviews after a book purchase from an online retailer. If you have a blog, you can write up a review, too. I do this every Friday through the Perfect Picture Book Fridays list.
Book clubs are a great place to share reviews. When I lived in Texas, the local library hosted a monthly book review. Trust me, it wasn’t like a book report, either. A couple times, I was grilled about the books I shared. It kept me on my toes and really tested my affection for a book.
Word of mouth or “in person” recommendations are always good. I find the kid-lit community is wonderful about sharing titles.
Reviews are a great place to learn about writing, too. While some reviews can be nasty, there are often little nuggets of information writers can glean about the craft — characters, story development, and even genre.
Reviews often teach us that some readers will never be pleased with our stories. A little proof of this (and maybe a laugh, too) can be found on Marc Tyler Nobleman’s site. Take a few minutes to watch children’s authors reading reviews.
How do you review books?
(This post originally appeared on Stacy S. Jensen's blog on January 27, 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.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Carol Berg

Carol Berg, Author

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

When I started typing my first letter 'in character' to a friend, after a lifetime of believing I couldn't make up a story.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

Bigelow's Raspberry Royale tea.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters). She was self-educated, found her biggest success late, and wrote the best villain I've ever read.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

I almost didn't walk in to the pitch session with the editor who bought my first eight books, because I was convinced she didn't like the two pages I'd read.


Sitting (terrified) on a convention panel in Scotland with two very famous authors and the head of the Vatican Observatory, and after surviving it in decent order, being swarmed by the entire front row. They turned out to be my Israeli publisher, Hebrew translator, and their friends, none of whom I had met before.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

Maybe Dory in Finding Nemo. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, even if you're a little bonkers.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

Two things. It involves a lot of hard thinking. And often the success you find is not at all what you expected.

About the Author: Though a devoted reader, Carol Berg majored in mathematics at Rice University and computer science at the University of Colorado, so she wouldn’t have to write papers. Somewhere in the middle of a software engineering career, she started writing for fun, and the habit ate her life. Carol’s thirteen epic fantasy novels have won national and international awards, including multiple Colorado Book Awards and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. They’ve been read, so readers tell her, on five continents, on a submarine under the Mediterranean, in the war zone of Iraq, and on the slopes of Denali. Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews called her Novels of the Collegia Magica things like compelling, intelligent, complex, and superbly realized. The latest is The Daemon Prism. Next up is a new fantasy/mystery duology about a sorcerer who draws portraits of the dead. First volume, Dust and Light, will be out from Roc Books in August 2014. Carol camps, hikes, and bikes in Colorado and lives on the internet at

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Kerrie Flanagan

Kerrie Flanagan, Author

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

I am not someone who knew from a young age that I wanted to be writer. It wasn't until after college that I even thought about becoming a writer and even then it was more out of necessity. I was teaching 2nd grade at the time and I wanted to find a creative way to teach my students about using a comma in a list. So I created a story and made it into a book to read to them. It started the writing wheels in motion and I wanted to learn more about writing and publishing. I found a critique group, self-published my book and eventually started writing for magazines.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

I need my computer to work. I can write out notes and ideas longhand, but to put everything together, I need to be able type it all out on my computer.

For many literary greats, having a creative vice almost seemed expected. For me though, not so much. If I try to drink while writing I will fall asleep (it doesn't mean I won't drink after, just not during). I don't smoke and I am not much of a coffee drinker. I do love tea when I am writing, but in the true sense of the word, it isn't really a vice. I've never heard of tea being considered a bad habit or something that will lead to an early demise.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

I would revive Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books were a huge part of my childhood and now I have a huge amount of respect for her as a writer. The fact that her writing career didn't start until she was 65, is pretty amazing to me.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

Early in my writing life I attended PPWC. It is a conference I will never forget because I made a complete fool of myself during a pitch session with a literary agent (who shall remain nameless). I had co-written a book with a friend and she pitched the idea to an agent first. The agent said the idea wasn't bad, but she didn't think it was a good fit for her. My friend and I panicked and changed the whole concept of the book before I went to my pitch session. I started with, "I am sure you won't want this book because *** didn't like the idea." I rambled for another minute or two until there was nothing but silence between us. I excused myself, leaving a four minute time-slot for another author to pitch. I was mortified and learned many valuable lessons. Don't change the concept of your book right before pitching. Be prepared. Speak from the heart; agents are looking for well-written stories and the more you can convey that through your own excitement of your work, the better chance you will have in finding representation.

5. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

The road to success does not happen overnight, even though it might seem like that for some authors. The successful authors are the ones who take their role as a writers seriously, devote time to their craft and who don't give up. Many talented writers are never discovered because they didn't put in the hard work and time needed to finally reach that level of success they aspired to. Writing success can be in your future with enough drive, determination and of course good writing skills.

About the Author: Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers, a writing consultant and a freelance writer. Over the past decade she has published articles in national and regional publications and enjoyed two years as a contributing editor for Journey magazine. She has articles in the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents, as well as the 2012, 2013 and the 2014 Writer’s Markets, Writer’s Digest Magazine and The Writer. She was a frequent contributor for WOW! Women on Writing, is the author of Plane, Trains and Chuck & Eddie and has five of stories published in various Chicken Soup for The Soul books. Along with her own writing, she is passionate about helping other writers achieve success.

Monday, April 21, 2014

POV Faux Pas

By Linda Rohrbough

I spend time thinking about Point of View (POV) as a concept in fiction, because this is the one area where even experienced writers make the most mistakes. Let me define what I mean by POV – at a core level POV is how the story is told. I’ll start by saying there’s really two kinds of POV, and two major POV mistakes in popular fiction. Want to guess which POV mistake is mostly likely to keep you from getting published? And want to hear about a way to use POV to get unstuck in a story? Read on.

The first kind of POV has to do with the mechanics of how your fictional world is presented to the reader. What I’m referring to here is what we commonly call first or third person. First person uses the pronoun “I” and the story is usually told in real time. (The story can be told as “this is what I remember,” but I think real time is stronger and more popular with readers.) Third person is a lot more distant and the story can be told in the past as well as the present.

(As an aside, who in their right mind would craft a novel in second person? You have probably heard of someone with an English literature fetish who has done it, but it’s either first or third person in popular fiction.)

First person is the scary POV for me. I haven’t tried it. In first person, the character is telling the reader the story first hand in real time using the pronoun “I.” Where this gets tricky is the reader can only know what the character knows. In this mode, there are all kinds of ways to make a POV faux pas that pulls your reader “out of the bubble,” meaning they get disjointed and lose contact with the world you’ve created for them. (Readers hate that, by the way.)

The most common example is when a character says or thinks another character is afraid. How can the viewpoint character know that? That’s a POV slip. Not that you won’t see this slip in print from an experienced writer. You absolutely will. But technically, you’re not supposed to. However, as long as the reader isn’t pulled out of the bubble, the author can get away with this boo-boo.

The boring fix is to use dialog - the second character says, “I’m scared.” Now your POV character knows because they’ve been told. But this works in a lot of cases.

The interesting way to manage giving the POV character information about other characters is to describe things your POV character observes in the behavior of other characters. This allows the reader, along with the POV character, to conclude the emotional state of another character. Body language is the biggest “tell.”

For example, what are the physical reactions produced in the body by the emotion fear and how do they manifest? Blood runs away from the extremities, so the hands and feet get cold. The teeth chatter in extreme cases. But more often people rub their hands together or on their arms or thighs. The eyelids pull up so someone observing would notice more white around a character’s iris. And yes, I know these examples are cliché. But you get what I mean. When I’m stuck I use Google and type in “physical reaction to fear” (or whatever emotion I’m looking for) and see what comes up. Usually that’s enough to give me a spring board to figure out what I need to do.

What you want is a fresh way to describe this stuff. Readers are pretty sophisticated so unless there’s a reason to use a cliché, I try to avoid it. What I do a lot is watch people everywhere I go. (I had a creative writing professor in college say fiction writers are just glorified gossip columnists. I suspect he was right.)

Of course, what’s even more fun is to let the reader and the POV character conclude something based on observation, which actually turns out to be something else. That’s what readers love - to be tricked but in an honest, clever, interesting way. That’s what I try to go for in my work. And that’s what I think is the pinnacle of achievement in fiction writing.

However, there’s a second meaning for POV - how the character sees the world. This is the most common area where errors are made and this error can keep your work from getting published. It’s critical to have characters with a viewpoint. And that’s the same whether the work is written in first person or third person.

Let me put this another way: the character has an opinion. Hopefully, a strong one. And when that character takes us as readers into their confidence, it draws us into the story. That doesn’t mean the character’s world view is your opinion. It might be. The work (and the fun) is figuring out what this character will think, do, and say in a given situation. What makes fiction interesting is to place characters in situations where they are uncomfortable or even in danger and then have them react to figure a way out.

Of course, the most obvious way to accomplish a character with an opinion is to write in first person. It’s also one of the reasons first person fiction sells so well. The character must have an opinion in first person because there’s no way to write a character that doesn’t have a POV.

I promised you I’d give you a way to use POV to figure a way out when you’re stuck. One of the tricks experienced writers use is to rewrite a scene or a chapter changing the POV. Change the POV from third to first person. Describe the scene from the POV of another character other than the one you originally started with. Maybe retell the scene from the viewpoints of several different characters. Sometimes this works to stir things up so you see the work differently, and that might get you unstuck. Rewriting the scene from different points of view is one of those things you want to have in your bag of tricks for those days when it seems the well has dried up. (You’re welcome.)

That said, we’ve come full-circle in this discussion about the two kinds of POV in popular fiction, the two most common mistakes, and even a way to use POV to get yourself unstuck during a dry spell.
How about you? Have you tried first person? Does it scare you? Got a favorite POV? What is the POV of your main character in the story you’re writing now? These are important questions to ask yourself and I hope they’ve shed some light on your current work in progress.

About the Author: Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with national awards for her fiction and non-fiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath." The Prophetess One: At Risk has garnered three national awards: the 2012 International Book Award, the 2011 Global eBook Award, and the 2011 Millennium Star Publishing Award. An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quote of the Week & Week to Come

"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." -Barbara Park, born April 21.

Barbara Park

This week on Writing From the Peak...

...Linda Rohrbough discusses "POV Faux Pas"

...Stacy S. Jensen brings us the 4th in her series Reader U-"Do You Review Books?"

...Kathie Scrimgeour shares a Sweet Success

...Our final Q&As with Kerrie Flanagan, Carol Berg, Deb Courtney, and Kimberly Killion

Saturday, April 19, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Gordon Warnock

Gordon Warnock, Agent, Foreword Literary

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an agent? 

There was a moment when I started falling in love with manuscripts and realized that this was something I could make happen

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?


3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

I think Borges would be a hoot.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

Hanging out with R.L. Stine was a bit of a moment, having grown up in the Goosebumps generation.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

I asked, and they said Archer. No idea why.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads.

About the Agent: Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Foreword Literary, bringing years of experience as a senior literary agent, marketing director and editor for independent publishers, freelance publishing consultant, and college-level writing tutor. He frequently teaches workshops and gives keynote speeches at conferences and MFA programs nationwide. He is an honors graduate of CSUS with a B.A. in Creative and Professional Writing. Gordon is taking pitches for nonfiction, fiction, and graphic novels for adults, NA, and YA.

Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Survive PPWC Without Becoming a Zombie - Plus Bonus Tips!

(Below this post on surviving PPWC, you'll find tips from PPW members!)

By Tena Stetler

Good news is that I recently read Colorado is one of the few states most likely to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Better news is that it is possible to survive the conference and not become a zombie. First, you want to get as much rest as possible in the weeks leading up to the conference because sleep is a fleeting thing during the conference. There are old friends to catch up with, new friends to connect with, and so many workshops to attend your head will spin.

Second, make sure to pack high protein snacks and drink lots, and I mean lots, of water. If you are from out of town, this is especially important; you’re now residing at over 6,000 feet in elevation. One glass of wine can have quite an effect on you, so suck down that H2O. You can use those frequent bathroom trips to work on your pitch or figure out which workshop to attend next.

Is this your first conference? Take deep breaths and plunge in, but make sure you come up for air and relax from time to time - it can be a bit overwhelming. Download your workshop sheets as early as possible, and review them carefully, so you can plan what you want to attend and check for any conflicts ahead of time. There could be last minute changes, so check the packet you receive at sign in for the up-to-date schedule. If you are pitching, work on that logline and practice talking about your book to everyone that will listen in the weeks prior to the conference. Participating in the Read and Critique? Polish that first page, double-spaced, and have several copies ready (remember to bring them). You won’t remember everything you learn at the conference, but you will remember the friendships you make. Most of all, have a wonderful time, it is a great adventure. One you’ll want to experience year after year.

Remember that editors and agents are all people just like us. They are attending the conference in hopes of finding that new idea and fresh voice that you have perfected in your novel. Don’t let nerves get the best of you. Be creative and use your imagination when conjuring up the agent or editor’s appearance in your mind. But stifle the giggle when you make that pitch or read your page. 

For those of us who have attended a few conferences, help out the newbies. You'll recognize them by the glazed eyes, rapid breathing, and panicked expression. I know you still carry memories of your first conference.

Finally, just soak it all in. Too soon it will be all over and your zombie-like characteristics may emerge Sunday night. Until then, do what you can to keep all your parts attached. Have Fun.   

About the Author: By day, Tena Stetler is an Office and IT Manager for an electrical contractor. When the sun disappears behind the Majestic Rocky Mountains, she can be found at her computer surrounded by vampires, demons, witches, and other paranormal creatures as she writes Paranormal Romance and Cozy Mysteries. She’s also written articles for a variety of magazines about traveling with pets, and raising and training parrots. She shares her life with her husband, two parrots, a dog, and a 40-year-old box turtle. When not sitting behind a computer, she enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, and whitewater rafting.

Thank you, Tena! Now, we've got some additional bonus tips for attending conferences. We asked members on our Yahoo! Loop for their advice, and this is some of what we got:

For low-landers with little experience in high altitudes, you need to accept that the hotel is at 6400 ft (well over Denver's "mile high" claims) and the humidity is typically low.  As a result, alcohol will pack a double punch because you'll already by partially dehydrated due to the low humidity and the fact that there is less oxygen in the air at altitude.  Drink half as much alcohol as you normally would in a comparable social situation.  When it's time to go to bed, turn on the hot water in the shower for about 10 minutes and leave the bathroom door open.  You'll add some much needed moisture to the room and you'll find it easier to get to sleep.    

~Laura Hayden-- who faces this same problem each year, dealing with the altitude

DRINK WATER!!! Drink at least 3 bottles of water from the time you wake until you go to bed for the first two days you are in Colorado (more if your bladder can handle it). If you drink any alcohol....drink more water.

TAKE IT EASY. Don't plan on a 10 mile hike your first day here, and don't play 18 holes of golf. A friend of mine played 18 holes the first day he was here and spent the next 3 days in bed. A nice easy walk on a flat surface (like cruising around the conference) is great. Breath the mountain is amazing!  

DRINK MORE WATER! Really!  :-)

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of fun!
I can't wait to meet everyone!!

~Kathie Scrimgeour

Drink water for three or four days BEFORE you come.  Then keep it up.  It's all about hemoglobin...

~Jaxine Daniels

Shy people: Arm yourselves with the most wonderful phrase anyone ever invented.  

     "What do YOU write?"

You can even approach people you've never met!

Come with open ears and open mind.  You might hear three different speakers say three different things about anything from how to publish to how to develop your ideas to how to create characters or worlds or sentences.  All of them have something to teach, even if it is only that every writer is different and every career is different.  Somewhere there will be a spark that's just right for you.  Real Writers are constantly learning.

~Carol Berg

Out going people: Don't monologue. Give everyone at your table a chance to talk to that author, agent or editor. Use your outgoing personality to encourage more shy folks to talk about their stories.

~A. Stopani

Make the most of your conference experience by networking.  Don’t simply cling to the familiar.  Make it a goal to get to know your fellow writers as well as the industry professionals.  You’re attending to learn, to make those contacts, so treat it as business.  And have fun.

~Donnell Ann Bell,

Listen, Listen

You’ll be surrounded by people with myriad experiences, most good, a few not so much – but even those will be helpful in the long run.

Say Howdy to everyone you see with a STAFF badge. They are all there for YOU. Pick a couple of panel discussions, and you can get the experience of several panelists, and a number of experienced people in the audience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Look for some of the fun stuff. Weapons workshops, pitch practice, etc.

Did I mention Listen?

Oh yeah, this one can’t be said enough --- HYDRATE! And take in the beautiful country surrounding Colorado Springs.

~Ron Heimbecher

I've been attending and/or teaching at PPWC for 17 years.  I have suggestions.

pillow - if you are picky about the one you use
antihistamine - if sleeping is an issue with all the excitement
lotion - dry air in CO

Drink tons of water - especially if you drink - high altitude has knocked some visitors out.

Take social chances. Push through shyness. Stretch those boundaries. Schmooze outside of pitches and is when much of the action happens. I've gotten 3 different agents whom I didn't formally pitch to by simply talking casually with them.

Buy the recordings if you have to miss some sessions because of an agent appointment or parallel workshop. Then you can listen to them as you take your long walks.

Bring different lengths of work you'll pitch. Typically they won't take anything from you to lug home, but I know at least one author who was asked for a full at the conference and picked up by that agent before conference was over-literally the agent read the work over the conference.

Put on your smile and allow for a day of rest after the conference. You'll need that rest; the energy at PPWC is so intense, relaxation may be hard to come by.

And say hi to Shannon while there!  :) 

~Karen Lin,

:: The first time I attended PPWC, I drove out from Kansas City, alone, knowing no one. We writers tend to be loners anyway, but we're MUCH more comfortable with our own kind--other writers. Remember that you're not alone, that others face the same introvert issues you do, and remind yourself that we're ALL in the same boat! The people you'll meet are "just like you." And this particular conference is the friendliest ever.

:: Volunteer. My first break in the "ice" (my personal ice, no one else's) came when I I got up the nerve to talk to Dawn Smit about an idea I had for the annual writing contest, which I'd entered 2-3 times. And as she and I talked, I realized there are other things, some of them little things, that the conference workers could use help with. So I stepped up. I now volunteer every year as a moderator, which I enjoy tremendously. And it feels good to be a contributor in some small way.

:: For meals, sit at tables where you see people--including speakers--that you're interested in talking to. Even if you can't get up the nerve to talk to a famous author directly, there will be people at the table who can and will, and before you know it, you'll just be one of the writers, full of questions, curiosity, and awe!

:: Take lots of notes--and write legibly! Take advantage of every opportunity to meet people and pick their brains. Or buy the conference recordings of the sessions, so you won't lose anything. 

:: Relax. enjoy the events, learn everything you can, and remember that you're with friends. I've become convinced that, at least at PPWC, everyone is a friend of everyone else attending. 

:: Come back next year. And the year after. And the one after that. From my first bumbling, uncertain conference I made friends, and I'll be attending my 8th? 9th? PPWC this month. And I look forward to seeing the friends that I only see once a year, at this event.

~Marti Verlander,

Finally, J.T. Evans, president of PPW, posted some great conference tips at his blog in the following 2 posts:

Got business cards? Know how to avoid Con Crud? Are you aware of the 3-2-1 Rule? No? J.T. mentions these and more in the above posts.

Thanks for visiting! We'll see you at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2014!

Compiled By Shannon Lawrence

Thursday, April 17, 2014

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Pete Klismet

Pete Klismet, Author/Expert

1. What was the defining moment that made your realize you wanted to be an author?

I had so many experiences in 30 years in law enforcement, and had read some books by former law enforcement officers that made me think “I can write as well as he can.” It was a long process, but I finally found the impetus - a case I’d done a profile on almost 30 years ago in which 6 innocent people were convicted, and wouldn’t have been if only they had paid attention to the profile I’d done. My first thought was “This story MUST be told,” and that led to my completion of “FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil.” It’s one of several cases in the book.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

I need two things: Privacy and mornings. The creative juices flow for me between about 8 am and 2 pm. My wife has learned to not engage me in conversation when she sees I’m writing.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

He’s not truly a ‘literary figure,’ but Joseph Wambaugh who was a prolific writer of true crime stories and produced such shows as “Police Story,” in the 70’s and 80’s would be my guy. I’m also partial to Ann Rule who does extensive research into her true crime stories.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

I’ve only attended two, the Public Safety Writer’s Ass’n, held in Las Vegas every year. Those have given me so many contacts and friends, plus being critical in getting FBI Diary published, so I think I’ll always be a member. I am really excited about this year’s PPW conference, both as a presenter and attendee. I’ve gotten to know some members and will be thrilled to meet others. I think authors have an immediate bond formed. Sorta' like cops!

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

We just did some internet research on this, including a ‘cartoon character personality test,’ and the only thing that fit me was Tweety Bird. I thought it would be some type of a big cuddly bear, but it turns out Tweety was a perfect fit. Surprise.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

What is success? For me, it was finally getting a book published. That was a life-long dream. But, it involved failure along the way, writer’s block and finally a lot of persistence. It’s going to take some time. I wrote my first book about 30 years ago, and it was an egg. I attended a couple of writer’s workshops and found out ‘how’ to write. I was good at writing narrative police reports, but that didn’t translate into books. I had to learn how to make that paradigm shift.

About the Expert/Author: Thirty years ago, a small cadre of FBI agents were hand-picked by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) to receive training in what was then a highly-controversial and ground breaking concept, “Psychological Profiling.”  Pete was fortunate enough to have been chosen to become one of the original FBI ‘profilers.’  Before his retirement from the FBI in 1999, Pete received additional training, was temporarily assigned to work with the BSU in Quantico, Virginia, and put that training and experience to work in assisting state, federal and local law enforcement agencies in investigating violent crimes.  Pete served two tours in Vietnam on submarines.  (Submarines in Vietnam?  It’s the title of a chapter in his newly-released, award-winning book “FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil.”)  After completing college in Denver, Pete served as a police officer in Ventura, California for nearly ten years.  During that time, he earned two Master’s degrees from universities in California, and part of a third. He was named the 1999 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, and retired that year. For the next 13 years, he taught in colleges, and is now retired as a professor emeritus. He and his wife Nancy live in Colorado Springs.  He plans to release ‘a couple more books’ in 2014.

PPWC 2014 Q&A - Sarah Peed

Sarah Peed, Editor, Del Rey Spectra & Hydra

1. What was the defining moment that made you realize you wanted to be an editor?  
When I was in 4th grade, I wrote a novella about a Navy captain, based loosely on my grandfather. It was full of adventure and mystery and, as I recall it, one very inconveniently-timed kitchen fire. I was so proud of it that I took it to my teacher and asked her to edit it for me, thus initiating my first real publishing experience. She and I went back-and-forth on the novella, doing major scene reworks and nitpicky line edits, until we agreed that it was in the best shape it could possibly be. I forced friends and family members to read it, and the praise I received was quite heady. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to work with books, and everything I’ve done since then has been working toward that goal. Becoming an editor is a dream come true.

2. What is the one thing you cannot work without? What is your creative vice?

I always have to listen to music while I’m editing, but it can’t be anything with words. I listen to a lot of Andy McKee, Cloudkicker, and Vitamin String Quartet while I’m working.

3. If you could 'revive' any literary figure from the past for a one hour conversation, who would you choose?

I’d have to go with Jane Austen. I’ve been rereading her books once a year for a long, long time, and the idea of sitting down to tea with Ms. Austen and discussing her works is just overwhelmingly wonderful to me.

4. What is one of your more notable or unusual conference or convention experiences?

I went to the Del Rey party at San Diego Comic Con last year, and the staff were all dressed as different characters from A Song of Ice and Fire. I ended up sitting next to George R. R. Martin while being served a drink by a Khal Drogo look alike. It was one of the oddest and most hilarious moments at that particular convention.

5. If we asked your friends and family to compare you to a cartoon character, which would they choose, and why?

Wow, I have no idea. Probably Velma from Scooby Doo; I’m a bookworm who loses my glasses constantly.

6. What is one thing would you like aspiring authors to know about the road to success?

You aren’t going to please everyone, and accepting that will make your life easier. Even the most famous authors were rejected by a ton of agents and publishers, and the most fantastic books all have negative reviews. Try not to take it too personally; you will, of course, but after that initial sting wears off, remember that you’ve written a book that you’re happy with and proud of, and that’s what really matters.

About the Editor: Sarah Peed is an Associate Editor with Del Rey Spectra, and the Acquisitions Editor for Hydra, a division of the Random House Publishing Group. She is looking for fast-paced, character-driven science fiction, fantasy, and horror. She tends toward pieces with a strong voice and dry wit, and she blames The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Good Omens for that.”I’m looking for dark fantasy, supernatural horror, urban fantasy, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi.  I’m not looking for YA submissions, graphic novels, short story collections, or erotica. I’d like to see pieces that fall in either the novella range of 15,000-30,000 words, or in the novel range of 60,000-100,000 words, although those limits are flexible.Stories that are more character-driven and have a strong voice are very appealing. I’m also looking for fast-paced pieces with enough action to keep the reader engaged and enthralled. Witty, dry, and/or dark humor is also appreciated!”