Monday, March 30, 2015

Tips Before Hiring an Editor

By Donnell Ann Bell
(Editor's Note: The following is a reprint of a post that originally appeared in Romance University in March 2013.)

As Indy publishing continues to explode and authors want the best product they can put out there, I’d like to share some tips on what authors should look for when selecting an editor. Remember, you’re not just hiring someone to work on your novel, you’re hiring someone to work on your team—one with your name on it. Never has caveat emptor been so important to an author. Just as anyone can self-publish, anyone can hang up a shingle these days and say, “I’m an editor and I’m open for business.”

Following are some interview questions you might consider when choosing an editor:

1) How long have you been an editor and what is your educational and professional background?
Here I must remind you that while length of time in the business and education are important, this is a foundation question and merely the grout to your first layer before you add bricks to your decision-making.

Ten years, and a Masters in English Literature may sound impressive. But how they have put their editing skills to work must follow. Have they worked in the publishing industry or have they worked in the field of journalism? Have they edited fiction or have they edited newspapers and magazines? There is a difference, you know. (Note: I came from a journalism background—thought it would be a breeze when I turned to fiction. Wrong. In journalism, we’re taught to not editorialize. Fiction is all about emotion and how do your characters feel.)

2) After you’ve become impressed with an editor’s initial background, your second question might be: What genres do you specialize in and what genres do you enjoy reading?
Editing is editing, right? Au contraire! If you’re writing fantasy and your editor specializes in historical fiction, she might be an excellent editor, just not the right editor for you. The second part of this question is important, also. If the genre you’re writing isn’t in your potential editor’s stable of nightstand material, my suggestion is to run, do not walk away from this person, and continue your search.

3) My goal is to submit to Publisher XX. If I hire you, are you familiar with that publisher’s style sheet and guidelines? If not, are you willing to familiarize yourself with its guidelines before I hire you?
The fact that an editor might not be familiar with a publishing house’s guidelines should not be your foremost concern. Whether or not they are willing to do their homework and give your manuscript the best chance of succeeding should entirely be of interest to you.

4) When editing, what do you focus on?
a) Grammar and punctuation.
b) Author follow-through, e.g. threads to the story to ensure continuity.
c) Logic and fact checking. (Is what I’m writing logical in the world I’ve created and will you note passages and text that leave you in doubt?)
d) Pacing, redundancy and repetition.
e) Awkward phrasing.

5) How busy are you? When I give you my work, how soon may I expect to see edits?
Careful here. Just as you want to give your editor polished material to work with, (and you never want to give your editor anything less than what you consider your best) you want your editor to return an even more polished edit. Just as writers miss deadlines, editors do, also. They have emergencies and life can get in the way. This is a great question to ask their references (No. 7 below).

6) Will we sign a contract?
This may seem overcautious, but writers and editors need to protect themselves in the event that one or both fail to meet any or all of the specified agreement(s). However, just as some agents refuse to sign contracts, some editors do as well. What should you do in that event? (No. 7 below. Check their references.)

7) Do you provide references? How many of your references are return clients?
I think the first part of this question speaks for itself, and my advice—check their references.
As for Part two, if an author uses an editor once, but has numerous other work out since that particular release date, I’d want to know why, wouldn’t you? Could be something as innocent as the editor had too many clients at the time of author’s release or maybe he was taking a sabbatical. Still, repeat clients speak volumes.

8) Do you offer examples of the editing you will provide?
Some editors provide a sample of their services, e.g. the first 30 to 60 pages, (paid of course—you don’t want to give away your work for free; an editor doesn’t either). A sample edit ensures to both the author and the editor that they’re likely entering into a compatible working relationship.

9) What are your fees?
Shocked that I asked this question last? It’s up to you of course. You may ask it whenever you wish. But if money is the end-all as to whether you hire this person, you’re in the wrong business. Of course you have a budget and the editor might be out of your reach. You’re free to walk away and look elsewhere at that point. But you truly get what you pay for—particularly in this highly competitive world of publishing.



About the Author: Donnell Ann Bell is the author of The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall and Betrayedall of which have been e-book best sellers. Buried Agendas is her newest release. She is honored that The Past Came Hunting and Betrayed were chosen as part of the Pikes Peak Library book club; further she loves to visit with readers. Along with veteran police officer Wally Lind, Donnell co-owns Crimescenewriters, a Yahoo group putting law enforcement experts together with writers. Like her on Facebook or contact her via her website www.donnellannbell.com   

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

'The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart."

www.womenscouncil.org
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 - May 29, 1914)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Heart of a Woman
Pulitzer Prize nominee, Winner National Medal of Arts 


This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Tips Before Hiring an Editor                   Donnell Ann Bell

* First Wednesday Post                                Deb McLeod

* PPW April News & Events                        Debi Archibald 




Friday, March 27, 2015

Marketing is a Marathon

By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson 

At every writer’s conference I attend, I hear the same thing. “I just wanna write,” says the writer when the topic of marketing comes up. Some people scoff at that; some laugh, some nod in agreement. I have no doubt at April’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I’ll hear it there too (have you signed up yet???).

That works in my favor because I just wanna market. I love it!


· I love chatting with total strangers about news or marketing on Twitter.
· I love participating in book parties on Facebook.
· I love finding new ideas for cover art on Pinterest.
· I love stalking writers favorite places to write on Instagram.
· Character interviews or location scout videos on YouTube? Love ‘em!

I also love blogging when I have something to say; talking to civic groups or spouses organizations and teaching writers about marketing. So you guys can write and I can do the marketing.
bisnisukm.com

Wait! Wait! Wait

That’s the easy way out! I want to help you be the best CAREER author you can. And that means you need to learn how to market yourself and your books. You need to. Because people want to get to know you, not the hack hired to do it for you.

Here’s the thing. Not only have I been doing marketing and communications for nearly 15 years, I’m also a reader. A voracious one. Last year I had a competition with my daughter to see who could read the most books. I read 60. She read 68.

Where did we find out about those books? From people we trusted and the authors who take the time to let me know them.

Where are those people? In my neighborhood. At work. At school, church, and online.

You don’t have to market if you don’t want to. You can just write. But how will anyone hear about your book? How will anyone get to know you and care about you and care about what you have to say?

I know what you’re thinking: well, you, Jenny, you enjoy doing it. Yes, I do. But I can also make it easier for you with this little secret.

It isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to take up all your time!

Nope. And here’s why. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Start slow and build up over time.

Most people are told to build a blog, blog every day, Tweet every day, Facebook every day, get on every major social media platform you can. Go talk to groups. Sell your book at your favorite watering hole. Talk, post, photo, pic, video, chat, screeeeeam!

While all of this works in your favor, if you did it, you’ll be so exhausted you’ll curl up on your couch and suck your thumb, never to leave again.

So I’m going to tell you what you can do that is good enough.

Build relationships.

This is the first and foremost thing you can do to kick start your marketing campaign or build your author platform. This is how you get people talking about you and then your book. This is THE most important thing you can do for your writing career. Because here’s the deal: selling books is not like selling cars. Writers don’t compete with one another. They don’t. Think about it. If you like one author’s books and you finish her list, don’t you want to find someone a lot like her?

I read Vince Flynn, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, Robert Crais, David Baldacci. See a pattern? Spy thriller, noir stuff. I’m not going to diss Nelson just because he’s not David. Heck no, I’m going to read them both because I love the genre.


So what’s the point? The point is to build relationships with authors just like you because cross marketing makes life easier. Help each other out. Build a support system. This is why you read reviews by other authors on a book’s flap. The big dogs are already doing it.

How do you build relationships with other authors? Attend writers conferences, writers workshops, book signings, find their blog, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter. No this is not stalking. It’s finding someone to make a connection.

I spent the summer in Alaska and while there, read an article about a hometown girl who just released her latest novel. Found her on Twitter and arranged a coffee date. She was lovely & we chatted for nearly an hour. From there, I found several other writers to connect with. Since I’m back in DC, I engage with them online.

Once you start making those connections, give them something to keep coming back.

It’s all about CONTENT.

This is where “Buy My Book” doesn’t work. Ever. Not as content. People know you are a writer so you don’t have to bombard them over the head, screaming “Buy My Book!!!” This isn’t to say you can’t mention it ever, you just don’t need to mention it often. Launch time is good, sales, give-aways…all that is when you need to bring it up.

But what you can bombard them over the head with is how wonderful you are.

So pick a platform… ONE of them. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Edgar, Google+, Vine, whatever and offer your connections something fun. They want to know you. They know you are a writer, so they don’t need to be told to write your book.

What makes great content? Think about anything you click on while scrolling your Facebook feed or flipping through Pinterest boards. Fun, interesting, compelling content. That’s what you want to develop. How do you do that? Well, you have to first believe that you are interesting. Of course you are. And selling books is about making a connection with you not the book. What do you find interesting?

PPWC Keynote Mary Kay Andrews is a huge junker and antiquer. She’s always sharing pics and info about what new thing she’s found for her Tybee Island place.

Author Mary Karen Meredith loves hugs and peanut butter.

Author Jamie Farrell calls her kids Squeaker, Peanut and Buttercup and shares their hilarious exploits.

The point is great content comes from you think is awesome about life. What are you interested in? What do you do for fun? Share pics, share insights, ask questions, create a game and give your reader something to bond over.



Leaving you with this

Do you need to do this everyday? No, remember it’s a marathon, not a spring. Slow out of the gate, steady in execution. So not everyday, but you do need to do it consistently.

And make sure engage with your peeps when they do post or respond to you. The reason Taylor Swift just hit the 52M follower mark on Twitter is because she is always engaging with her followers. She posts pics, replies, videos of their content. She makes the follower feel valued and important.

Sure it requires some work but it is supposed to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, it will show. If you aren’t having fun, don’t do it. Find the avenue that is appealing to you and then do it relentlessly.

Once you are comfortable with that one way, you can expand.

Next time we’ll talk about social media dashboards to help make social networking effective and a lot less hassle. I promise marketing can be fun, and you can develop ways to open up your calendar so you don’t have to market for hours on end day after day. 


If you’re going to Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April, make sure to check out these workshops:

Author Platform Building (For People With a Life) with F.T. Bradley

Guerilla Marketing: Skip The Monkey Marketing with J.A. Kazimer

“Tell Me About Your Book” with Alex Kourvo and Pam McCutcheon

If you aren’t convinced yet, find me online and let’s chat or even better, register for Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April & find me to chat some more. I’ll be there all week!

About the Author: With a combined 14 years of active and Reserve time as a US Air Force Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Lovett Herbranson has marketed books, shows, concerts and more. She is currently the speechwriter for the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency outside of Washington DC. In her spare time, she is pursuing a career as a fiction writer. Find her at:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Capitalize on Your Character's Traits

By Karen Albright Lin

When your book feels mushy rather than rock solid, it might be your characters. Instead of forcing your hero into another bad situation or recreating him from whole cloth, capitalize on what you already have established for him. Beef up his strengths, weaknesses and motivations. They are likely in your head, if not in your chapters. Often these sculpted aspects of your people get absorbed by the page. Make them bigger, more impactful.

Sam Gamgee is loyal, but we don’t learn how loyal until he sticks by Frodo even when he turns on him. Then when he picks up the ring, willing to sacrifice his own life to do Frodo’s job. Sam may have been written as a less dynamic sidekick initially. Once made bigger-than-life, who do we love most by the end?

How would your character act under different circumstances? Test her. Have your protagonist or antagonist make a mistake. Make her so jumpy she pulls false alarms, setting up a Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario. Make her do things just for attention.

Give your character a blind spot, literal or figurative. Both were used cleverly in Blind Side. Go the other direction and let your character have a great internal BS meter like Sherlock Holmes, Jessica Fletcher, Columbo and Richard Castle.

Let your bad guy lie or be crazy, both of which are true in The Dark Night. Make him the hero of his own story and make his story bigger. Explore backstory thoroughly enough that your audience can see his point of view. Gary Oldman’s villain in Air Force One.

Discover the bad guy is worse than you think. Terminator isn’t only a humanoid from the future, he’s a virtually indestructible metal monster underneath, something we don’t learn until his car blows up and his “flesh” melts off.

Beyond physical strength, add more psychological edge to your antagonist. Add vengeance or some form of debt to pay. Perhaps she’s painted herself into a corner. Have her involved in extortion or black mail. Let her have bad blood with a relative or friend—maybe because of a shared secret (the premise for both I Know What You Did Last Summer and Stephen King’s Stand by Me).

Create a toxic dynamic within a family. The important event might have happened just before the story starts. Think of Ordinary People and its devastating tale of how a family copes (or doesn’t) after the death of a son. Backstory done well is a great way to power up characters.

Give your character a phobia and let the bee get caught in his hair. His reaction tells us a lot about him. Indiana Jones was none-too-pleased to fall into the snake pit. Speaking of…consider using a character’s weakness to create unexpected disasters. Does your hero flee only to discover a threatening hole in the ground? Does that hole become a trap (as in The Village) or a portal to another universe as black holes are in science fiction stories? Be careful that the disasters or weaknesses don’t feel contrived or your readers will melt their e-books in the oven. Know your character well enough that you’ll sense what is or is not organic to her story.

Make the bad guy his own worst enemy, or make the enemy be the protagonist herself. See What Dreams May Come, surreal yet visceral.

Elucidate the character’s current frame of mind. Let your hero’s suicidal state send him diving into saving the world. (Bruce Willis plays this well). When you don’t worry over death, you lack fear. Aaron Michael Ritchey does this beautifully in his Long Live the Suicide King. It’s a mainstream YA about a suicidal teen who simply doesn’t care about his own safety. During JD’s careless week, he takes risks and helps more than one person, ironically giving his life new meaning.

Make your character’s weaknesses work in her favor. Let her fall back on tactile and visual clues because she has weak hearing, clues that end up solving a mystery. Let your historical character sneak rare spices out of a country in his prosthetic leg. There’d be no series without Monk’s OCD. Disabilities were primary factors in Forest Gump and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. If the latter main character had been deaf or depressed instead of autistic, it would have changed the story.

Caution: make your backstory and created weaknesses matter to the plot, to the relationships, to the narrative journey. Don’t just throw them in willy-nilly.

Consider creating an attribute bible for each character. You may eat, sleep and breathe his story. You may love her peculiarities. Even with all these things in place, the very trait you are in love with may well be the weakness of the book. Maybe it’s too subtle or too much like it would really be in our world. You may want to punch up the drama. We don’t tend to read books to live the kinds of lives we actually do live. We read to experience lives we don’t have a chance to live, be noble in ways we can’t, withstand pain we can barely imagine, and save the world in ways we could only dream of. And don’t we read to dream?

When the characters aren’t gripping, do an experiment; exaggerate their traits and see what happens. You can always chisel them back as needed. But I suspect you’ll only need a paring knife.


About the Writer: Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at www.karenalbrightlin.com.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Faculty Interview: Sandy Lu

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!

Sandy Lu: Agent - L. Perkins Agency 

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read?
A unique voice, three-dimensional characters and a compelling plot.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world?
The pleasures: finding people who respond to your writing positively, seeing your creation come to life.

The difficulties: more competitions (not just against other writers but also other media), more distractions, finding people who respond positively to your writing, and actually making a living writing full time.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you?
Read everything. Keep honing your craft. Be patient. Never give up.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it?
Definitely. Also, only do it if you love it. Otherwise it’s just too hard.

5. What do you love most about your career?
Discovering new talents. Making someone’s lifelong dream come true.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you?
I play the piano. And I love to sing. Also, I’m a damn good cook!

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why?
Sherlock Holmes. I observe and analyze everything. Also, I’m a bit of a misanthrope.

8. What character would your friends/family pick for you?
I don’t know if this is still true, but my nickname in junior high was Garfield. Yes, the cat.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Pen.

Plotter or Pantser? I’m not a writer, so I don’t think this applies. 

Book or E-Book? Book for pleasure. E-Book for work.

Spicy or Mild? Depends on my mood.

Sunrise or Sunset? Neither. Midnight.

Mr. Rogers or Sesame Street: No preference. Perhaps because I didn’t grow up in America.

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook for friends and family. Twitter for publishing peeps.


Sandy Lu has been a literary agent at the L. Perkins Agency since 2009. She holds BAs in psychology and sociology, with minors in music, business, and Japanese. Prior to becoming an agent, she was a Ph.D. candidate in Social and Personality Psychology and worked as a business/operations manager in the theater industry. She is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker.

Sandy is seeking submissions that draw her in with a unique voice and a good yarn that will make her miss her subway stop and keep her up at night. She particularly loves all things historical and anything with a supernatural bent. In fiction, she is looking for dark literary and commercial fiction, mystery, thriller, psychological horror, historical fiction, fantasy, and YA. In non-fiction, she is looking for narrative non-fiction, history, biography, memoir, pop science, psychology, sociology, pop culture (music/theatre/film), and food writing. She does not represent romance, poetry, children’s picture books, how-to/self-help, parenting, religion/spirituality, and sports.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay."

biblioklept.org
Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 - August 3, 1964)
Wise Blood
The Violent Bear It Away
National Book Award for Fiction (Short Story Collection)

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Faculty Interview: Sandy Lu                   Jason Henry

* Capitalize on Your Character's Traits     Karen Albright Lin

* Marketing is a Marathon                        Jennifer Lovett Herbranson


Friday, March 20, 2015

Faculty Interview: Barbara (Samuel) O'Neal

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!

Barbara (Samuel) O'Neal – Writer - Colorado

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
For me, there are two: I need a character who interests me and a story hook that keeps me turning pages to find out what is going to happen. A queen of dragons who makes a lot of mistakes and her quest. A man who has ruined his chances with the only woman he all ever love--and his last attempt to win her love. A girl who falls in love for the first time at the exact moment she should be concentrating on getting a submission in to art school

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
The pleasures are the same as they've always been--the constant possibility of learning something new, the chance to get a story on the page in a way that touches others, the delight of turning through the pages of your own story in your own mind. Writing is like reading, except that you get to spend ever so much more time and get to go so much deeper than you ever can as a reader.

The challenges are much more intense, and require a clarity of decision-making thoughtfulness that's honestly a bit rare among creative people. More than ever we need our critique partners and editors, our truth-telling friends and the discipline to really learn the craft. It's a lot more challenging to have to juggle social media along with writing, and because often writing a blog post or a Facebook post can feel like work, the real work doesn't get done.

Creatively, it's the best and freest time I've ever seen--which is exhilarating to me both as a writer and a reader. Who knows what gem I might discover as a reader? And who knows what I can do if there are no limits to my genre-mixing or storytelling madness?

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
"Remember, you are always writing your backlist." Which is a reminder to always, always, always do my very best work.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it? 
I'd pass it on. No alteration necessary.

5. What do you love most about your career? 
I love the writing itself. Making up stories and characters, diving into worlds I don't know and exploring them. It's just so much fun.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
Although I've learned to cope with it and have become comfortable teaching and meeting new people, I'm actually very shy.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
I love and relate to Daenerys Targaryen as much as any character I've loved, ever. My phone calls me Khaleesi. ;) Family and friends, Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Both.

Plotter or Pantser? Both

Book or E-Book? Both

Spicy or Mild? Both

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook


Barbara (Samuel) 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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Faculty Interview: Alex Kourvo

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!


Alex Kourvo – Writer/Editor - Michigan

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
A character to care about, an exciting world to live in, and stakes that matter.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world?
This is the best time in history to be a writer. People are consuming stories in dozens of ways, from novels to short stories to movies, TV shows, podcasts, video games and comic books. Every medium needs writers. Living in the digital age means reaching fans in new ways, too. There are no limits to what a creative person can do today.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you?
Richard A. Thompson taught me about something called "the implied first act." With that one useful phrase, he explained the difference between movie structure and novel structure. Movies start before the big events, while in novels, the big things should start in Chapter One.

4. Would you pass on that same advice or alter it?
I share that advice every chance I get. I actually quote Rich Thompson a lot. He's a smart guy.

5. What do you love most about your career? 
I get to make up stories and put them on paper. Then, if I've done my job correctly, that same story appears in someone else's head. How cool is that?

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
I'm an introvert, which nobody believes when they meet me because I adore people and I'm always the first one to introduce myself to someone new. But after a few hours of people-time, I'm ready for a nap.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
I'm going to go with Camilla Figg, a character from the TV show Dexter. She and I share a passion for key lime pie. Of course, that's what killed her in the end but, if I could have the perfect slice of key lime pie, I could die a happy woman.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? Plotter

Book or E-Book? Ebook. I never read paper anymore.

Spicy or Mild? Spicy

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise. I'm always eager to start a new day.

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street. Even today, Grover still cracks me up.

Facebook or Twitter? Twitter is my second home. (find me @AlexKourvo) I don't understand Facebook at all.


Alex Kourvo is a writer, editor and teacher. She is the author of three novels (the Detroit Next series under the pen name M.H. Mead) and numerous short stories. She is the co-founder of the Emerging Writers Workshops at the Ann Arbor District Library and authors the popular “Writing Slices” blog, reviewing how-to books for writers. She lives in Michigan, where she reads, writes, and eats as much key lime pie as possible.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Scientific Classifications of a Critiquer - Part I

thewildwriters.com
By Aaron Michael Ritchey

So I’ve been doing critique groups for nine years. Over the years, I’ve noticed there are several kinds of critiquers out there, and being the good student of Western Civilization that I am, I thought I would classify them. Yes, critiquer, as in critique group partner.

I feel so Darwin and scientific.

This will be the first part in a multi-part series. Thank you, Pikes Peak Writers, for indulging me.

I) GRAMMARIUS NAZITICUS
Yes, the grammar nazi. You and your commas will pay dearly for your impertinence. Now, keep in mind, this is not Captain Re-Write (see below); this critiquer respects your verbs and clauses, if your papers are in order. If they aren’t, we have ways of making you write better.

i. THE DANGER: I don’t bring perfectly polished pieces to critique group because there is a good chance I will have to re-write everything anyway and my poor antecedent-subject thingy will be like tears lost in rain. Stupid me, I take things so personally. I can get depressed about my lack of grammarnicity.

ii. THE POSITIVE: Grammar Nazis generally love to teach! Learn better grammar. Learn to wield a semi-colon like Excalibur! Yes, Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, and I will bring the semi-colon back.

II) CAPTAIN RE-WRITE
If you write “Dick listened for Jane’s footsteps in the morgue,” Captain Re-Write will save you by writing it as “Dick cocked an ear, hoping for some sign of Jane’s footsteps in the morgue.” Yes, your perfectly good sentence isn’t good enough. You obviously need help and Captain Re-Write has come to save the day.

i. THE DANGER: I had Captain Re-Write in a critique group and she would ink up every single sentence. This made going through her critiques time-consuming and depressing. And it made me question if I could write at all.

ii. THE POSITIVE: A Captain Re-Write makes me question every sentence, which is not a bad thing. And at times, I like the new version of the sentence better and that makes the story better. So take Captain Re-Write with a grain of salt, but look for the pepper. That caped crusader just might save the day.

III) HARRY HATER
This critiquer is not there to help. They are there to hate. They will hate your story, your characters, your voice, the semi-colon in the fourth paragraph. They probably won’t offer any ideas to make it better, just a lot of “This didn’t work for me” or “Maybe you should tell the story from the point of view of the dog because your characters are so flat.” Sometimes Harry Haters might change their colors. Sometimes, they love other people, but not you. Other times, they love you, but not your book. And sometimes, they aren’t haters at all. But we’ll discuss that in another post.

i. THE DANGER: Obviously, the Harry Hater will make you want to burn your book and slash open your stomach with a katana.

ii. THE POSITIVE: I love Harry Hater and do you know why? Because Harry Hater is the real world, and no matter what you do, some people will hate your books. They will hate you. They will plot your death in the wee hours of the night. They will review your books on Amazon and leave one star reviews because they hate you, hate you, hate you. Cuz in the words of that immortal bard, Taylor Swift, haters gotta hate. Might as well get hit with hate right away and learn to use it to thicken your skin. And like Captain Re-Write, every once in a while, Harry Hater will have a great idea you can use. Again, listen to everyone. If you can ignore Harry Hater’s critique, do it. If you can’t, there might be a grain of truth in there somewhere.

IV) YOUR BIGGEST FAN
Their job is simple: They love everything you write and will spread rose petals across the room when you enter. They applaud your use of the semi-colon in the fourth full paragraph. They love your characters. They are the evil anti-Harry Hater. Love them because they love you. I truly hope you have a fan in your critique group. I’m not sure I could live without one.

i. THE DANGER: The last thing I need in the world is for someone to agree with everything I write. If I had a critique group full of fans, I wouldn’t get what I need, which is an honest appraisal of what works and what doesn’t from multiple points of view. In the end, praise is cheap and doesn’t really help me. It’s like soda. It tastes good, it might give me a pleasant jolt, but I can’t live off it. Yes, even Dr. Pepper wouldn’t keep me alive for long and it has prune juice in it.

ii. THE POSITIVE: Duh. They love what you write! And if Harry Hater is the real world, so is Your Biggest Fan. You will always find people who love your writing because this is a subjective business, and most readers WANT to love you.


Stay tuned for Part II. Next month we will codify The Idea Genie, The Plain Jane Reader, The Fashionista, the Choreographer, and the Genius Wunderkin. 


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 YA sci-fi/western series from Kevin J. Anderson’s 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 www.aaronmritchey.com. He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"When you sit at your desk, if you're lucky, there's a moment when you feel empowered to be someone or something else, to leap into another skin."

www.theupdikereview.com

John Updike (March 18, 1932 - January 27, 2009)
Rabbit Series
The Witches of Eastwick
The Centaur
In the Beauty of the Lilies

Pulitzer Prize (2), National Book Award (2), National Medal of Arts, PEN/Faulkner Award

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* The Scientific Classifications of a Critiquer (Part I)   Aaron Michael Ritchey

* Faculty Interview: Alex Kourvo                                      Jason Henry

* Faculty Interview: Barbara Samuel O'Neal                  Jason Henry 


Friday, March 13, 2015

Sweet Success - Margaret Mizushima

By Kathie Scrimgeour

Margaret Mizushima is pleased to announce that her mystery/crime novel, Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, will be published in the winter of 2016 by Crooked Lane Books. It is planned that it will be available in hardcover, e-book, and paperback.

A deputy and her four-legged partner must track down a killer that threatens their Colorado high country community.

Margaret Mizushima enjoys writing in the contemporary mystery and historical genres. After earning a master's degree in speech pathology, she practiced in a hospital and in her own rehabilitation agency. She uses her experience in communication disorders, business, and her husband's veterinary practice as fodder for her fiction and has received contest awards and short story publication. She likes reading and hiking, and she lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

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.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ten Questions to Ask Your Characters

By Jax Hunter

You’re building a character. His name is Eric Cruz. You’ve established his age, his family history, his looks, his profession. You may have tagged him with an Enneagram, or perhaps sent for his astrological chart. You may have filled in an elaborate questionnaire, noting what kind of car he drives, where he went to school, what political party he joined.

Here are a few off-the-wall questions that might spark both new layers to your characters and plot twists you can use. 


www.logigear.com
1. In your life, what constitutes homeostasis? Let me explain this question a bit. In our physical bodies, homeostasis is the inner equilibrium maintained by the constant adjustment of physiological processes. In fiction, especially in the heroic journey prototype, we start our stories with the character’s ordinary world. This is homeostasis. Then, something happens to our character that throws off his balance and he spends the rest of the book seeking homeostasis. But if we don’t know what that looks like for each of our characters (or better, what he thinks it looks like) how can we set up conflict that will do the most to disturb this delicate balance? After all, our job is to torture our characters, push them as far as we possibly can without destroying them.

2. If you won a million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with the money? The answer to this question tells you about your character’s values.

3. If you could meet any person, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

4. What is your biggest regret?

5. Define success.

6. If you had to flee from rising flood waters and could only take one possession, what would it be and why?

7. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing for a living, what would you be doing?

8. What is worth dying for?

9. Do you believe in luck?

10. Who is your best friend? Why is he your friend? What do you admire most about him?

I mentioned earlier that you might have worked up an astrological chart on your character or tagged him with an Enneagram type. These, among others, are tools I use regularly to create my characters. 


The Enneagram is made up of nine core personality types. Each type has its own distinct characteristics but also takes on characteristics of those on either side of it. The types are: Perfectionist, Helper, Achiever, Romantic, Observer, Questioner, Adventurer, Asserter and Peacemaker. Each profile will show you how that type reacts to certain situations, tendencies and things they would never do. I love this last one and often spend time thinking about what could possibly make my character do something that he would “never do.”

Two quick and easy resources for Enneagram are: The Enneagram Made Easy and Are You My Type, Am I Yours? Both by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele. Of course, there are also many references online.

Another option is to work up a profile based on your character’s astrological sign. A Scorpio will act and react completely differently than a Capricorn. With my PJ series, I went so far as to give each person a birth date, time and location. Then, I went online and plugged those facts in to get a free astrological chart for each character. Did I use all that I got? Not by a long shot. But it did give me some great ideas for conflict.

One of my favorite books on Astrology is: The Complete Book of Astrology by Caitlin Johnstone. Mind you, I am not even attempting to be an expert on astrology. I am simply using the tool to create characters.

Another resource for building characters is the classic archetypes that go back even to Greek mythology. Two super resources for this: 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. (Am I the only one who always thinks of Lethal Weapon when I hear the name Victoria Lynn? - sorry, I digress.) Second, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes & Heroines by Tami Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders.

Disclaimer: You don’t have to believe in any of this stuff to use it for character building.

Well, that’s it for this month. Final thoughts: have fun building characters. It’s one of the best parts about writing fiction. Get to know your characters. You’ll find that they become great friends. I have one character that has a major aversion to Peeps. So every Spring, when the yellow marshmallow birdies hit the shelves, I always smile and think of Nic. Then, of course, I run for my life.

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

Jax

www.jaxmhunter@gmail.com and www.revive1775.com

About the Author:  Jax Hunter 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.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Faculty Interview: Mary Sue Seymour

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!

Mary Sue Seymour (Agent/Founder, The Seymour Agency)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
Fast pace and well drawn characters – a great hook helps.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world?
 The markets are tougher.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
Not really a writer.

4. What do you love most about your career? 
Discovering new talent.

5. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
I love people and try to be nice to everyone

6. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
I can’t think of any fictional character I can relate to – hope that isn’t a bad thing

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? Not a writer

Book or E-Book? Book

Spicy or Mild? Either

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise – I’m a morning person

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street – love Big Bird

Facebook or Twitter? Both


Mary Sue Seymour, nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Agent of the Year, has been agenting for over 20 years, and is listed as a top deal-maker for inspirational fiction on Publisher’s Marketplace. She has sold New York Times selling projects such as The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and Shelley Shepard Gray’s Missing. She has also sold multi-book deals to Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Harvest House, Bethany House, Cook, Harper One, Abingdon Press, B&H, Guideposts, Summerside, Kensington and others. She travels the country and world presenting writing workshops, mentoring writers, and doing appointments with them. She has been a guest agent at The Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy, has attended the London Book Fair, and has traveled to almost every American city for writing conferences, and she’s loved every minute of it.

Mary Sue represents several best selling Christian authors such as New York Times best selling author Shelley Shepard Gray, Mary Ellis, Vannetta Chapman, Ruth Reid, Don Reid of the Statler Brothers and others; her writers have won numerous publishing industry awards and have been the subject of articles and starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and other publications.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Inside Author 101: A Sneak Peek at the Prequel Workshop

Compiled by MB Partlow

Author 101: Let the Journey Begin is just one of the three-hour workshops offered as part of the Thursday Prequel to the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Robert Spiller is one half of the dynamic writing duo teaching this powerful, motivating workshop (along with Angel Smits), and he agreed to give us a look at what new writers can expect to take away from the experience.

PPWC: What was your path to becoming an author?

Bob: When my second marriage evaporated, I took off on a three-week bicycle ride in the Four Corners area. I was equipped with five spiral notebooks and an idea for a sci-fi novel. By the time I ended up at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, I had written the bones of that novel. In 1998, I attended my first PPWC with three intentions: win the PPWC writing contest, pitch that novel, construct a critique group. I won second place, pitched the begeebers out of the novel, and formed a killer critique group. Unfortunately, that novel never saw the light of day, but I was sold on the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. By the following year, I had written my second Sci-fi and pitched it as well. Still, no takers. Then I thought I’d try my hand at mystery writing with a female mathematician sleuth. The Witch of Agnesi sold to Medallion Press (a medium size press out of Chicago, no agent) in 2005. After that came A Calculated Demise, then Irrational Numbers, and most recently Radical Equations. For most of my writing career, I have taught Mathematics, so I wrote when I could. Now I have the luxury of being retired and can write at my leisure.

PPWC: What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had told you at the beginning of your career?

Bob: Sit your butt in the chair. There are a lot of reasons not to write. Life is a complicated and demanding business that will seem so reasonable when it whispers in your ear any number of things: You’re tired, You have nothing to say, You got too much on your plate today. You name it and some small voice will whisper it into your ear to keep you away from putting words on a page. Don’t even get me started with game playing, Facebook, and e-mail. So, here’s the deal. Not every day will generate first rate prose. Some days your task is to sit down and write the cow pucky that’s forefront in your brain, but know this. Right behind the junk is the good stuff that was just waiting for you to remove the dross so it could leap into your story and make you remember why you became a writer in the first place. So, put your butt in the chair.

PPWC: How do I untangle the different genres so I can figure out ‘What I Write?’

Bob: For me the answer – as someone who has written YA Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Sci-fi/fantasy, and is currently writing a historical mainstream – is my critique group. If I didn’t have this resource, I would avail myself of the many services of Pikes Peak Writers. Writer’s Night with Deb Courtney would be a good place to start. This collective evening of writers, both published and not-yet-published can steer you toward identifying the genre of your piece and help you make choices based upon that identification. Literally go to the meeting and say, “I need help identifying my genre.” Another resource is Write Brain. Scope out the expertise available in these monthly classes. I have learned valuable lessons and I have no doubt between the teachers and the other participants you can find someone to help you identify your writing’s place. Lastly, there is the Pikes Peak Writing Conference. What I did when I was first starting out was find like-minded individuals at this wonderful conference that I would use as a resource. They identified my genre, critiqued my work, and helped me keep my head on straight through some trying times.

PPWC? Which publishing path do you recommend for new writers?

Bob: I don’t have any specific recommendation. I have friends who have had success going the traditional route: Agent, Major Publishing House, both self and in-house promotion of their book. The advantages of this route are numerous. A good agent will help you edit your work to publishable quality; they will guide your career. A major publishing house will help guide your book onto bookstore shelves. This avenue of distribution is amazingly helpful. Hopefully, their promotion departments will guide you in the often tricky business of getting the public to notice your work by setting up reviews in major publications such as Publisher’s Weekly and Romantic Times.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have friends who are currently having success even though they self-published. They have availed themselves of the services of such self-publishing aids as CreateSpace and Amazon. They have designed their own covers. And after much work, have reaped the rewards of keeping all of their profits. In between these two extremes are un-agented small presses, of which even the relatively small community of Colorado Springs has a few. These small presses take on all of the worry of producing a quality product for a relatively small percentage of the profits. A good small press will also provide much of the promotion that only the larger presses provided just a few years back. I wish I could be more helpful in steering you toward the path that was ideal for you but in this changing era of publishing there are just too many viable options to rule any of them out.

PPWC: How can this class help me get started?

Bob: Getting started is what Author 101 is all about. We have four hours to share what we’ve learned in over twenty years of being in the game. The subjects covered will include: Critique Groups, Writing Advice, Publishing Paths and their Pitfalls, and Genres just to name a few. With such a large block of time my partner and I will endeavor to answer every one of your writing and publishing questions. We will lay bare our souls and tell you what has worked and what has not worked for us. In the end, hopefully you will come away with a better understanding of what it will take to get your masterpiece in the hands of folks who will cherish reading it as much as you loved writing it.

PPWC: What’s your favorite part of being an author?

Bob: That’s a toughie. First of all, I love it when I write a scene and it works. In mystery this means laying out the puzzle in a fun and informative way. In my current project this means being fearless and allowing my main character’s flaws show through. I also love meeting with readers and talking about writing and books. I guess one of my favorite things is when readers e-mail me and talk to me about what they liked about Bonnie Pinkwater or how a scene affected them. Currently, I’m collecting e-mails from every state in the union. Yeah, it’s pretty much all a good gig.

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.


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, Write Brain, Authorfest, Texas Middle School Conference and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple."

www.en.wikipedia.org

Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 - October 21, 1969)
On the Road
The Subterraneans


This week on Writing from the Peak:

* PPWC15                                                               MB Partlow

* Faculty Interview: Mary Sue Seymour          Jason Henry

* Ten Questions to Ask Your Characters         Jax Hunter

* Sweet Success: Margaret Mizushima            Kathie Scrimgeour 






Saturday, March 7, 2015

Faculty Interview: Peter Klismet

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!

PETE KLISMET (Author, Colorado)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read? 
Very easy. Get my attention in the first few pages. I started a novel just last night in which the (rather famous) author felt it was important to blabber on about some esoteric garbage that probably made perfect sense to him, but not to the reader. Perhaps someone else thought it was wonderful prose, but after about 10 pages, I put the book down and picked up another one. On all of my books, I have worked hard at a hard-hitting start, then I get the hook set as they continue to read.

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
The pure pleasure of writing will never go away. People have loved the feeling we all get since time immemorial. And then it stops being fun, and starts becoming WORK!! Finding a publisher or figuring out a way to self-publish are very hard tasks. Once that happens, one must open their creative minds and take a step into “Narnia,” the closet door which opens to the new world of marketing. We are one of many authors our publisher has, and they can’t devote all their time to you. Thus, one must re-direct their creativity and venture into a realm few understand, but all must aggressively pursue.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
A story is built or told by two things: Action and Dialogue. Learned that at the famed University of Iowa Writers Workshop back in the 1980’s. Never forgot it.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it? 
I would pass it on with no alteration. In my genre of law enforcement-related books, many former officers and agents have great stories to tell. However, I’ve read some of them and most are complete narrative. Just like their reports were. Because you were a good report writer, that doesn’t translate into writing books or novels. Trust me on this. Take a Creative Writing class and I suspect that will be the 1st thing you learn.

5. What do you love most about your career?
 I’ve had several ‘careers,’ and I’m not sure if writing is one of them, or an avocation. I loved being a cop, an FBI Agent and a college professor. I love being a writer. It’s good for my head! Clears out lots of cobwebs.

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
Once people find out I was an FBI agent, they go all ‘ga ga.’ Then there are a predictable set of questions which follow, and which I’ve been asked hundreds of times. But, I do have to get that info out there because it’s part of who I am and part of what helps me have ideas for and sell books. It’s just hard for people to understand I can’t be very enthusiastic answering the exact questions (“Was it exciting?” “Did you get to shoot anybody?”) that I’ve been asked a thousand times before.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
If you’re a fan of M.A.S.H., I have been compared most often to Hawkeye Pierce. I don’t take myself seriously, am definitely cynical and irreverent, often self-effacing, like to kid around with people, but when it comes down to working, don’t get in my way.

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Love dem ivories! Wrote far too many reports with pens.

Plotter or Pantser? I’m not really sure what a ‘panster’ is, so I guess I’d have to be a plotter. It fits in best with my personality anyhow.

Book or E-Book? I love having a book in my hand. Have never read an e-book.

Spicy or Mild? A little of both is fine.

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunrise. Definitely. I’m an early-riser and love those hours between 8am and noon or so. I get going far better in the morning.

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? There were a couple of critters on Sesame Street I loved. That would be Oscar the Grouch, but especially The Count. My daughter would race though the house to find me……"Daddy, daddy…..The Count is on." Love them vampires! And, if my dad had been like Mr. Rogers, I have no idea how I would have turned out.

Facebook or Twitter? I’m all about Facebook. Rarely do I take it seriously. I love to post jokes and funny stuff in general. To me it’s there to enjoy and make others enjoy what you put up there. Sounds like writing to me! I hate the way some people use it to tell us what a wonderful relationship they have. “My husband is such a sweetheart. He made coffee this morning.” “Thank you dear, it’s so special doing things for you.” C’mon. Buy a vowel. Get a room.

     
Pete Klismet retired after serving 20 years with the FBI, then spent 13 years teaching at colleges in Colorado. He was chosen to be one of the original ‘profilers’ by the FBI. His career in law enforcement, includes ten years with the Ventura (CA) Police Department. He is the Director of Criminal Profiling Associates, a consultant to the American Society of Cold Case Investigators, and a co-founder of Preventing School Shootings. Before retiring, Pete was named 1999 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Pete is the author of FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil, and the recently released FBI Animal House. Both books are on Amazon, Kindle, and will be available at the conference. He and his wife Nancy live in Colorado Springs.

crimeprof@yahoo.com Website: www.criminalprofilingassociates.com

Friday, March 6, 2015

PPW March News and Events

Compiled by Debi Archibald

47 days and counting until PPWC15. Are you registered? In this case, all things do NOT come to he who waits. Pricing goes up March 15th so do your budget a favor and get registered before then.

Between now and then, PPW has several events and workshops to whet your appetite for Conference. If you always make it to Write Brain but haven't yet ventured out to Open Critique or Writer's Night, this is a good time to shake things up a little.

March 17, 2015 6:-30 to 8:30 p.m. (Tuesday)
March Write Brain at the Carnegie Room, Penrose Library, 20 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs. Come see Stuart Horwitz present The Book Architecture Method: Reaching the Finish Line. This method can help you transform a messy manuscript into a polished book whether you are a meticulous plotter or a free-spirited pantser. Clients using this method have seen their fiction and non-fiction books hit the best-seller list.  

March 23, 2015 6:30-8:30 p.m (Monday)
PPW Writer's Night in the Elbo Room at the Ritz, 15 South Tejon, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hang out with your fellow authors enjoying writerly discussion, laughter and socializing. Participants set the direction of this event. 

April 1, 2015 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. (Wednesday)
Open Critique at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 East Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, Colorado. Guest critiquer is Karin Human. If you would like the first 8 pages of your manuscript critiqued, RSVP to pikespeakopencritique@hotmail.com.

Be sure to watch April News and Events for a one-time-only change in time and venue for Write Brain, which will focus on the dos and don'ts of PPWC. 

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