Friday, December 30, 2016

Sweet Success Celebrates Laura DiSilverio

By: Ann S. Hill 

Congratulations to Laura DiSilverio on her Sept 2016 release of Close Call. The 327-page suspense novel was published by Midnight Ink in trade paper. (ISBN 978-0-7387-4920-4)

Synopsis and author bio follows:

After living through the media shaming of a political sex scandal when she was in college, Sydney Ellison fears notoriety above all. So when she stumbles onto a plot to assassinate a senator, she resists contacting the police. Before she can make herself do the right thing, the assassin tracks her down and kills her fiancé. Now a murder suspect and a killer's target, Sydney reluctantly enlists the aid of her estranged sister. Sydney must overcome her distrust and put all she has worked for on the line to stop the killer and his employer before more people die.

A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling author of 17 mystery and suspense novels. Library Journal has recognized her most recent standalone, Close Call, as one of the Top Five mysteries of 2016. Additionally, The Reckoning Stones (2015) won the Colorado Book Award for Mystery in 2016. Incubation, the first book of her young adult dystopian trilogy is an Amazon bestseller. A Past President of Sisters in Crime, she pens articles for Writer’s Digest, and teaches writing in various fora. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate.
-Website (author promo, blog, etc.)
-Where to buy/read website Amazon, B&N, Tattered Cover, etc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sit-Stand Desks and Affordable Options

By Catherine Dilts with Scott Miller

During the three part Ergonomics for Writers series, the sit-stand desk was suggested by ergonomics professional Mary Plehal. I have one at work, and lamented that I could not afford to purchase one for home use.

Scott Miller contacted me with his review of a sit-stand desk he purchased for his wife, and his DIY plans to make another for himself. That prompted me to check on-line, where I found a consumer evaluation of five desk variations. Now I have hope that I can rig up something to enable me to stand during writing marathons.

Here’s what Scott had to say:

I became interested in sit/stand desks a couple of years ago. Watched some customer eval vids on YouTube, checked out some models, but couldn't afford one at the time. The hand-cranked models seemed like they'd be too hard to use to change desk height several times a day (which seems to be the whole point). The electric models (at that time) ran about $1100, give or take.

Earlier this year my wife returned to work after a long illness and she was to work from home. We reopened the investigation into sit/stand desks. Found that Ikea had just added an electric sit/stand, and it was substantially cheaper than desks from others, but it lacked the memory feature. They call it the "Bekant" and it's $529. The top is kind of thin, but it's sturdy enough, and it went together easily. I even added a power strip to the underside along the back. She put her work computer on the left, her personal computer on the right, and uses the desk nearly every day. She changes the height several times per day and takes frequent breaks.

Ikea’s Bekant electric sit-stand workstation:

The website Life Hacker took a vote on the five best sit stand desk options. These cover a wide range of financial options, from top-of-the-line to DIY. Check out the article for different ideas. Here is one that you place on top of your existing desk:

The parameters for your selection will include cost, space, and physical needs. Sit stand workstation options can run from $300 to over a thousand. Working from home, you may have space limitations where a standard desk won’t fit. At work, my sit stand desk is mechanical. That is, I flip a lever and lift or lower my desk. You may need an electric version.

Scott Miller developed an idea for his own sit stand desk. He shared his DIY plans to accommodate a home office renovation:

My office will share a space with our library, in a skinny section of a big "L" shaped room. My current static desk is 29 1/2" deep. The depth is a limiting factor into the way my desk will fit into the skinny area. I'd love to get a Bekant desk for myself, but it's 2 inches deeper than my present desk. It'll work but I'd rather have the space. I'm pretty handy and have lots of useful tools, but the edging used on Bekant is a rubber strip (probably pressed into a groove) and the surface is like Formica. It's modifiable, but with no room for error.

Scott discovered that he can purchase the “guts” of an electric sit stand desk, including the desk base. He plans to add his own desk top.

But what sort of top? Ikea has a line of tables where the legs and tops come separately. Their "Gerton" table top is perfect for my needs. It's the same depth as my present desk, but 1 1/2" wider and only $90. Gerton is thicker than top on the Bekant desk and made of solid beech wood. Gerton is also cheaper than solid pine counter tops and the like from Home Depot. Beech is a nice hardwood which is visually similar to oak (color and the rays), but without the dark ring pores. Gerton is just wood--no finish. So it's wonderfully modifiable for the handyman. I could round the corners, and drill holes at the back for cables. Ikea also has a similar-sized top faced in natural cork, "Sinnerlig." Can't really modify this one (holes maybe), but I like Gerton better.

Scott estimates the cost of his DIY sit stand desk to be around $550, including shipping and tax.

Now it’s time for me to get to work on my own home sit stand desk! All I need are a couple bricks and a board…. Unless I can talk my handyman husband into adding one more project to his list.

About the Author: Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, while her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. With a day job as an environmental regulatory technician, Catherine's stories often have environmental or factory-based themes. Others reflect her love of the Colorado mountains, fishing, and running. The third book in her Rock Shop Mystery series arrives October 10. You can learn more about Catherine and her writing at:

Monday, December 26, 2016

Desert Reflections

By: Darby Karchut

In mid October, I had the opportunity to mountain bike a portion of the Maze in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Five days of relentless sun, surreal desert formations, and plenty of sketchy terrain. To offset the challenging days, we had glorious nights camping under a full moon.

I wanted to use the trip to do some research about a new series I’m working on. I brought a small notebook to record my thoughts and jot down setting details as I rode along.

Source: Pixabay 

It never happened.

Heck, it was all I could do to get through the next mile, or navigate the next drop, or endure the long distances between camps. I was totally in the moment, not thinking about anything—just a pure physical being.

Drink water.
Eat sand.

It was vacationing on Tatoonie.

Tatoonie aka Canyonlands National Park Source: Pixabay

Well, I don’t know about you all, but taking a break from the hamster wheel was kind of nice. In a way. Except for that nagging fear that so many writers feel: If I stop writing, I’ll forget how to write.

Or I’ll lose the drive.
Or lose the discipline.
Or lose the desire.

As I traveled home from Utah, I had time to really stare down that fear. Really, Karchut? I asked myself. You think taking five measly days from your art is going to diminish your skills? As if all your past success was based on nothing more than momentum?

Well. Yeah.

Do other writers feel that way? I wondered. Like if you stop writing, you’ll never start again? Does anyone else get that sick punched-in-the-gut feeling—like panic—if you don’t write at least a few pages each day? And even then, do you fret because it wasn’t enough words. Or the right words. In the right order?

And we torture ourselves this way because…why?



Because the bliss we get from writing is like nothing else in the world. We cannot stop being storytellers any more than we can stop breathing. It is who we are. And time away from our craft may dull our abilities, but not destroy them. We are all stronger than that.

About the Author: Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy writing for children, teens, and adults. She is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Source: Wikipedia Pubic Domain

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (Sep. 24, 1896 – Dec. 21, 1940), known professionally as F. Scott Fitzgerald, was an American novelist and short story writer whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. While he achieved limited success in his lifetime, he is now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s he finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, was published posthumously.

This week on Writing from the Peak

Dec. 26   Desert Reflections by Darby Karchut

Dec. 28   Sit-Stand Desks & Affordable Options by Catherine Dilts

Dec. 30  Sweet Success Celebrates Laura Disilverio

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sweet Success Celebrates Darby Karchut

By Ann S. Hill

Darby Karchut has been selected as an invited author for several 2017 events:

2017 CCIRA’s annual Conference on Literary–Golden Anniversary
February 1-4, Marriott Denver Tech Center
Denver, CO

2017 Authors’ Festival: A Writing Mini-Conference for Kids Grades 3-8
(in conjunction with the CCIRA conference)
February 4, Marriott Denver Tech Center
Denver, CO

2017 Pikes Peak Writers Conference-Silver Jubilee
April 28-30, Colorado Springs Marriott
Colorado Springs, CO

She also recently celebrated the release of the fourth and final book in her middle grade adventure fantasy series (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen) at Barnes & Noble-Briargate on November 19.

FINN’S CHOICE. (ISBN: 9781633920705; 230 pages; trade paperback) released September 20 from Spencer Hill Press. It is available at AmazonBarnes & Noble , and indie bookstores worldwide. School Library Journal called the first book in the series, FINN FINNEGAN, “...a great choice for adventure-loving readers who prefer their battle scenes with a hefty dose of ancient weaponry, ground-fighting skills, and just a touch of magic."

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy writing for children, teens, and adults. Best thing ever: her YA series, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film. She is represented by Amanda Rutter at Red Sofa Literary. Visit Darby at

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Develop Your Character through Voice

 By: Karen Albright Lin

There are endless ways in which voice affects character development. It can be created through distinctive dialogue, description, action, rhythm, narrative… The list goes on.

The narrative voice is tightly bound to the author’s voice. In her book, Tattered Legacy, Shannon Baker’s character, Abigail, “sounded distraught, but that could mean anything from suffering a papercut to losing her house in an earthquake.” Shannon could have conveyed the same information with a simple, “Abigail was upset.” But that wouldn’t give the full picture nor would it be nearly as fun.

Shannon often describes characters in short and sweet ways:

One character is “…in the homestretch of pregnancy.”

One admires another, wishing she could “capture the energy she wasted on her quick movements.”

And a “no-nonsense blast from her sent the usual ball of snakes into Nora’s gut.”

With her distinctive voice, we learn as much, if not more, about Shannon’s POV character than we do about the person she’s describing.

Everything said and observed by a POV character enlightens us. It’s all about your voice shining through the voice of your character.

Instead of your character noticing her best friend has crow’s feet, maybe she sees deep wrinkles proving her second husband had made her laugh more. 

Unfamiliar cultures and unknown worlds also call for descriptions that are not of our world. Huxley in Brave New World speaks of an alluring woman in this way: “For those milk paps that through the window bars bore at men’s eyes…” Readers might not feel as solidly set in another world if the words breasts or tits were used in this sentence.

Then there’s dialogue. Rather than simply telling his readers about his character, Huxley expresses it through conversation: “’Put your arms round me,’ she commanded. ‘Hug me till you drug me, honey…kiss me till I’m in a coma.’” 

Many of us have character bibles of some sort, written or in our heads. Some even cut photos from magazines of models who look like their characters. But some writers miss the point of keeping a bible, focusing only on surface details such as appearance, job and age. We can beef up our exploration, addressing each character’s pasts, personalities, quirks, and more. 

There are many less obvious things we can ask about our characters to bring them to life. They may not show up directly on the page but they’ll show up nonetheless… through our characters’ voices and actions.

How does your character wield his power?

What objects are more important than money to your character?

What gives your characters their strength? Each one will likely be different. To stretch your mind-muscle, think of any book or movie and answer this question for all the lead and secondary characters.

What’s her biggest temptation? How do you depict it? Subtly? Stated outright? Acted upon constantly? Is this how you would deal with it?  Do you wish it was how you could deal with it if you had more guts? Or is it handled in a way that would scare you? You—your voice—are in there somewhere.

How big is your character’s “bubble?” And what happens if someone stands too close?

What obligation does your character resent?  Describe the history of it. Remember to make it bigger in your character than it would be in your own world. The page absorbs a lot. You can always back off later.

List attributions that each character displays on the job versus at home versus with strangers.  Is she an insider? Outcast? Engaged? Moral? Rebel? Resentful? Guilty? Judgmental?

Now go a step further.

Choose an unusual power word or phrase to describe each character:
Luciferian? Crumpled? Escapee? Trashy? Battle weary? Gluttonous? Desperate? Temptress? Cerebral?

It’s likely your character will jump off the page if you use power words rather than more common/bland/abstract/boring/general descriptors.

Your voice is inextricably tangled with your characters’ voices. Use yours, in its many forms, to pump up theirs.

About the Author: 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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Writing Violence in Fiction

By: Will Burcher

Write them. As realistic as possible. Make it gritty, make it stink, make it hurt. (It will dissuade the real thing.)

I was fresh. It was during my second or third month of training as a cop on the street just west of Denver. I was on a traffic rotation focusing, supposedly, on that stereotypical kind of cop-thing, but it had been an exceptionally busy week. We'd rarely had the time to scratch a ticket. We ended up supplementing Patrol almost without let-up on a repeated, specific and particularly time-consuming call. For whatever reason, it was a week stacked, packed, jammed full of them. Suicides. A few a day. A planetary alignment, a phase of the moon, the weather, the upcoming holidays, who knows? People were offing themselves like it was in style.

"Traffic 9, copy a party not breathing," came the emotionless voice over the radio. The call was north, at the far end of the city, and we were the only unit available. 

"Traffic 9 copy. From 52/Sheridan. We'll be code 3," I replied. Emergent, lights and sirens, fast.

This was all well and good. Fun even. But I knew what "party not breathing" meant. The guy, the girl, the man, the woman, the kid, the baby, whatever—would be dead. Despite the conditioning provided by many a TV medical drama, people were rarely brought back. CPR never worked. It cracked ribs, made other noises and maybe gave a witnessing family member the sense that something was being done; but the Reaper, though he be grim, was rarely persuaded to change his mind.

Thirty seconds before my arrival another cop called out on scene. She must have already been close and dropped what she'd been on (another suicide) to respond. Slam on the brakes, transmission in park, leave the engine running, overhead lights on so Medical can find you. I ran to the unit in the back of the condo complex, its front door ringed by a faded wooden fence. I opened the gate and a hurried, haggard female voice bellowed up at me from the ground.

"Take the gun. Take the gun!"

The cop, a power-lifter and proud carnivore named Lopez, thrust a large silver revolver toward me, muzzle down, with one of her hands. The other held a rag—the kind of dirty thing one leaves on a patio to repeatedly wipe down a barbecue grill—pressed tightly on the top of the head of a middle-aged white-man clothed partially in a green bathrobe, faded brown slippers and whitey-tightey underwear. My eyes focused on his face—eyes open, gray, staring into the browning grass as his body convulsed rhythmically, mouth gaping like a fish. There was something else dripping down the side of his face, a kind of pink-gray stuff. I realized the trail of it led upward toward the dirty bunched rag Lopez held on his scalp.

"I'm holding his brain in," she said as I took the gun from her carefully. " … pouring out." She may have meant the obvious blood, or she may have meant his actual brain, or some combination of both. I didn't know. I remember having the distinct thought that the situation was absolutely absurd. Absurd. And there was nothing for me to do. I crouched beside both of them in the grass, watching as blood and drool beaded together and fell from the man's mouth irregularly, its own autonomic gasping/gaping coming at wider and wider intervals. For a moment it was quiet, save the strange clicking/smacking sound the man's mouth made. Lopez and I remained motionless. A slight breeze rustled some dead leaves in a tree above us. We each chanced a glance at the other's eyes. Shared knowing—though of what I'm unsure. The moment was short as the cacophony of approaching sirens soon overwhelmed all else.

If people knew this, here. If people could see this, now. If they could hear this dying man's clicking/smacking noises, they might not so easily seek to repeat the moment's absurdity. I thought this as I was crouched in the grass. And as I later walked back to my patrol car, this was an echo in the darkened tunnel of my mind, along with the word "absurd," in strange iterations, variations of pitch and tone…

Violence is pervasive. It is pervasive in literature. As writers we need the finality and drama of violence to move a plot forward and to reflect, of course, the reality of an oft-times violent society. Violence is also (lamentably) exciting. It quickens the heart. Parts of us are innately drawn to it. The inner Cro-Magnon secretly longs for the thrill of the hunt, the bellow of a beast speared through the lungs, the sound of a rock breaking bone. Sports are ritualized combat, low-level war is near-constant, and politics, economics, legal systems are by nature adversarial. This is in our genes. This is old news. 

What's new here is the shear amount of media we and our readers are exposed to depicting violence in a sanitized, unreal, packaged, "sample-sized" way. When the death of someone in some entertainment medium is repeatedly portrayed as a casual, superficial thing without the inevitable natural consequences (if even only sensory for the witness), then the life lost is valued less.

One might argue that people are immune to real depictions of violence. I would say that they're not. Not the real stuff. Not the stuff with consequences. Not the stuff that disgusts. Real violence disgusts.

I've seen it. Kids that have grown up playing Grand Theft Auto, watching Schwarzenegger films, maybe even in the midst of criminal gangs—when they're presented with the real thing, the blood, sweat and shit of it, there's this sudden cognitive dissonance. "This just got real." The sudden realization that finger bones (even when formed into a fist) break horribly when thrust against another face or head in a violent act; the real iron-sweet smell of blood, or the utterly horrible scene of a body going through autonomic, "agonal gasps" just before expiring—these things wake people up. I've seen looks on the faces of people who have just committed violence and were witnessing the aftermath of their own acts, looks that said, "This wasn't supposed to happen this way. It's not supposed to be like this…" And sometimes there was something else in those looks, something maybe like, "My conditioning by so much fanciful, sanitized modern consumptive media just, in this instant, failed me."

Writers of any genre can write real violence. Our imaginations, regardless of life experience, are universally capable of this. And despite my own gravitational leanings toward the graphic, the "real" in violence can be portrayed in many ways. Real violence will never mean anything. It will be absurd. It will invariably be consequential and will turn back upon itself. Most importantly, real violence will always, always affect the character, the reader, the writer of it deeply, to the core—to that unlighted place in all of us where awareness of mortality and true empathy merge into one.

Editor's Note: While Writing from the Peak respects Mr. Burcher's well-written and persuasive position, we remind authors to understand and research your prospective genre, as well as a publisher's stipulations. 

About the Author: Will Burcher is a former police officer, photographer, videographer and author of "The GAIAD," a speculative science fiction novel published earlier this year. He lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Learn more at

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.   ~ Charles de Lint

Source: Wikipedia
Charles de Lint (born Dec. 22, 1951), is a Canadian writer, married to musician Mary Ann Harris. He is widely credited as one of the first authors of urban fiction. As an essayist/critic/folklorist he writes book reviews for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He’s also been a judge for the Nebula Award, The World Fantasy Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Award and Bram Stoker Award. He has also taught creative writing workshops in Canada and the United states and served as writer in residence for two public libraries in Ottawa 

This week on Writing from the Peak

Dec. 19   Writing Violence in Fiction by Will Burcher

Dec. 21   Develop your Character through Voice by Karen Albright Lin

Dec. 23   Sweet Success Celebrates Darby Karchut

Friday, December 16, 2016

Sweet Success Celebrates K.B. Wagers

By: Ann S. Hill

After the Crown, a science fiction by K.B. Wagers, will be released in paperback on December 13th by Orbit. (ISBN0316308633) The book is 100,000 words. Katy’s synopsis of her adrenaline-fueled Star Wars-style sequel to Behind the Throne follows.

Former gunrunner-turned-Empress Hail Bristol was dragged back to her home planet to fill her rightful position in the palace. With her sisters and parents murdered, the Indranan Empire is on the brink of war. Hail must quickly make alliances with nearby worlds if she has any hope of surviving her rule. 

When peace talks turn violent and Hail realizes she's been betrayed, she must rely on her old gunrunning ways to get out of trouble. With help from an old boss and some surprising new allies, she must risk everything to save her world.

K.B. Wagers lives and runs in the shadow of Pikes Peak. She loves flipping tires and lifting heavy things. She's especially proud of her second-degree black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu and her three Tough Mudder completions. When not writing science fiction she can be found wrangling cats with her husband or trying to keep up with her teenaged son.

Are you a member of Pikes Peak Writers and have a Sweet Success story? Contact :

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Year in Review and All about Courage

By: Jason Evans

Well, 2016 is finally coming to an end. For many people, it can’t end soon enough. We lost so many people in the world of arts and entertainment. Actors and entertainers I grew up with. People who defined a generation.

Then there was the election.

It seems we are more divided than ever. Instead of coming together, my friends are tearing their hair out and acting as if the sun isn’t going to shine tomorrow. Instead of reaching out to try and understand each other, we’ve grown the distance between ourselves and our neighbors. I sometimes think we speak two different languages to each other.

And it’s all driven by fear. I know a lot of people who live in fear. Fear of terrorism, fear of the government, fear of failure.

So today, to wrap up 2016, I’m not going to talk about this past year. We can all reflect on it in our own way. You can mourn its passing or celebrate it. I want to talk to you about courage. Courage is what this world needs. We need to strive for and practice courage. And here’s the best part. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the determination to act in spite of it.

One of my absolute favorite movies in the last ten years is Captain America II: The Winter Soldier. See, Cap has a “Flat character Arc.” That means Cap doesn’t really change his behaviors or actions that much in the film. The change occurs in those around him – they are the ones who go through a dramatic character arc.

There’s a scene that absolutely brings me to tears. Cap has announced in SHIELD HQ that HYDRA (The villainous organization,) is running the place. The black ops soldier, Brock Rumlow, pulls out a gun on an unsuspecting anonymous programmer and tells him to launch the ships that will enable HYDRA to take over the world.

The programmer freezes. Rumlow places the gun behind the programmer’s head. Now he has every right to knuckle under and do what he’s told. His life is on the line. He has no super powers. But he shuts his eyes, begins to tremble and says, “No. Captains orders.”

It took every ounce of nerve for that guy to whisper his defiance. But THAT is courage. He risked his life to support an idea. Just a little step in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be dramatic. You don’t have to make a scene. Just a soft, determination to carry on.

My mother-in-law is a 20+ year breast cancer survivor. Every year she goes to the survivor’s tent at the Denver Race for the Cure. The first time I went with her I was blown away. As a man, I like bravado, loud acts of defiance, even boorish behavior. These women showed me a different kind of courage.

Through their words and deeds, these women got up every morning and lived their lives in spite of the death sentence that hung over them. They smiled and laughed. They refused to let a diagnosis define them or how they were going to live. They mocked cancer. This too, is courage.
So what does this have to do with you writing a book? What does this have to do with writing historical fiction?

Writing takes courage, too.

It takes courage to get up an hour earlier for weeks at a time to sit down and write. It takes courage to put your kids to bed and stay up late to write one more page. It takes courage to believe that your book is special. That someone will not only enjoy your book, but will be touched by it. Chris Batty, the founder of NANOWRIMO, is fond of saying “The world needs your book.” He’s right, the world does need your book. Do you have the courage to write it? Well, it’s going to take courage.

And boy, do we NEED people of courage right now. We NEED you to be bold, to research and to write. We NEED you to do the impossible. We need you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. We need you to say, with every action you take, that art is important to the world. And I want to help you.

Starting in January, I am launching an eight-part series on how to write historical fiction. Every month we will go over the basic steps to doing it right. From concept to publication, I will tell you where I messed up, so you can avoid my mistakes. I will give book recommendations, maybe even interview an author or two. This will be hard. It will take courage.

This will not only help those who write historical fiction, but those who write speculative fiction, Steampunk, Weird West, and any genre that depends on a little history. We will cover research, fleshing out your ideas, how to draft, even the steps it takes to self-publish or pitch to an agent.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Courage is the first virtue, because without it we can’t practice any of the others.” I have found this to be true time and time again. I’ll also add that courage is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.

I hope your December is peaceful and filled with joy. I hope you get time to practice some gratitude and reflect. If you are in trouble, or going through some difficulty or pain, I sincerely hope for a positive resolution, some well-deserved rest, and above all, peace.

Gratitude, reflection, & rest. This is what we all need. But when January comes, gird your loins people – we fight the good fight!

About the Author:  Jason Evans always wanted to be a writer, he just didn't know it. He grew up in Pasadena, California, in the 1980s where he watched way too much television, but was introduced to literature by his grandfather and his favorite middle school and high school teachers. He wasted his youth working at the So Cal Renaissance Faire (a dangerous place because it’s the gateway drug to other historical costumes,). In his leisure time he’s an educator, a writer, and a bon vivant. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, with degrees in History & Renaissance Studies, a teaching credentials from CSU Los Angeles, as well as a graduate degree from the University of Colorado, Denver. He currently resides in Denver with his wife, the fetching Mrs. Evans, their three dogs and a mischievous cat who calls him his thrall. 

You can follow Jason on Twitter @evans_writer
You can also “Like” his author page on Facebook. 

Jason’s website and blog is at

Monday, December 12, 2016

Meet PPW Member Tena Stetler

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

It is so much fun talking with all the talented writers who are members of PPW, and Tena Stetler is no exception. She and I chatted on the phone and she shared with me some of her experiences and inspirations.

Tena has been writing for as long as she can remember, and during the last six years she’s spent her time honing her craft. She writes paranormal romance with elements of mystery woven in. A Demon’s Witch, her first publication came out September, 2015, followed by Charm Me, then A Witch’s Journey which released in June, 2016. Read on to learn more about Tena.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Do you have anything in particular you are working on right now?

Tena Stetler:  Yes, my holiday book is in edits with my publisher The Wild Rose Press (due out 3-17) and my WIP is due mid August.

Kathie Scrimgeour: Tell us a little about it. 

Tena Stetler:  My holiday book is a sequel to A Witch’s Journey, released 6/15/16; A Warlock’s Secrets is the 2nd in my Demon’s Witch series and centers around Tristian, enforcer for the Demon Overlord of the Western Hemisphere.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Have you set any goals for your publication date?

Tena Stetler:  Yes, the sequel to A Witch’s Journey should be out after Thanksgiving; I hope to submit and get A Warlock’s Secret out by early 2017.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Do you set daily, weekly, or monthly writing goals? If yes, what are they?

Tena Stetler:  Daily goal is at least 1,500; weekly and monthly goals build on that but at least 6,500. What do you do to insure you meet these goals?  I have a strict writing schedule of 6 hours a day. I use two hours in the morning for promo, email, etc., then start writing. I usually try to take weekends off unless a deadline looms.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  If you have a completed manuscript/story/poem/flash have you submitted it yet?

Tena Stetler: Yes, several.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What have the results been?

Tena Stetler: A Demon’s Witch was published September 15, 2015; Charm Me was published January 6, 2016; A Witch’s Journey, released June 15, 2016; A Witch’s Holiday Wedding will release over the holidays 2016.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  How do you get past the "No's"?

Tena Stetler: Ignore them.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What do your reject letters say?

Tena Stetler: Because I waited until I was sure my projects were ready to for a publisher’s critical eye, I’ve received very few rejections, but the one’s I’ve received requested minor changes and resubmission. Or changes for contract.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What best advice, or lessons learned, have you gotten from them?

Tena Stetler: Don’t send your manuscript in until you are sure it is ready.  Don’t change your WIP every time someone says you should change it.  If several people say the same thing, then take a look at it and consider the changes.  Remember writing is subjective, one person could absolutely love your work, another hate it.  Make sure you are submitting to the correct publisher for your genre and story content. Above all believe in yourself and don’t let naysayers get you down. You need a thick skin to survive in the publishing world. Write what you love! If you don’t, the readers will know.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What does success mean to you?

Tena Stetler: I thought publication of my first book was success. But as I continue to write, I think it’s the fact that I put my heart and soul into each one of my books and that they bring enjoyment to my readers. For a few hours or days they whisk my readers away from reality into a magical fantasy world, where they can leave their troubles behind. Always know my books have a happily-ever-after ending.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Does success scare you or motivate you?

Tena Stetler: Both. After finishing a book, I am motivated to start another, but there is always that little voice in the back of my head saying, what if the readers don’t like this one.  I thought after my first release, this feeling would go away, but it only gets stronger.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What do you do when procrastination is winning over writing?

Tena Stetler: Take the dog for a walk, do laundry (I hate it) or sit in my sunroom, relax and see what comes to mind.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Writing conferences, workshops, and critique groups are an important part of the new writer's experiences (and more experienced writers too!). How have they helped you?

Tena Stetler: Talking with like-minded people is a thrill.  They get you.  Listening to the tales of someone else’s writing journey to publication is interesting. Knowing you are not alone; everyone gets rejections. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and write on.
Kathie Scrimgeour:  How long have you been a member of Pikes Peak Writers? 

Tena Stetler: Since 2009, that’s what, 7 years.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Do you attend the PPW events outside the conference and, if so, which ones are your favorite?

Tena Stetler: I attend Write Brains when my deadlines allow. PPWC when funds and time allow.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Do you have any "self-help for writers" books that you use regularly?

Tena Stetler: Building Believable Characters by Marc McCutcheon (It’s an old Writer’s Digest book) Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View, by Jill Elizabeth Nelson; The Emotional Thesaurus. 

Kathie Scrimgeour:  How do they help?

Tena Stetler: Reminding you of the basics necessary to build great characters, which in turn creates a great book. Ok, just one more I have to mention Goal Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. That is a must in any writer’s library.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  Does your reading influence your writing? How?

Tena Stetler: It’s fun to see how other writer’s stories unfold.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  If you met someone who was thinking about starting to write, what advice would you give them?

Tena Stetler: Write what you love. Don’t take everything everyone says to heart.  Learn your craft. Attend workshops, conference, talk to other writers, join critique groups.  Above all keep writing. The more you write the better you get.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What is one (or a few) of the most important lessons you have learned so far?

Tena Stetler: Writing is subjective. A bad review or rejection letter is not the end of the world. Write what you love!

Kathie Scrimgeour:  How has writing or being published changed you?

Tena Stetler: I didn’t realize that every new book is just as nerve wracking as the previous one. I am always asking myself, “Will my readers like it? Is it any good?” I don’t seem to get used to it. After going through the publishing process several times, I have found things to get easier when doing interviews, along with marketing through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

Kathie Scrimgeour:  What expertise in your background do you draw on in your writing?

Tena Stetler: been a paralegal for a criminal law firm, a DJ on a popular Rock station, an IT Manger from an electrical contracting firm and involved in with animal rescue.  I think the experience in each of those fields have been a great benefit to my writing and breathing life into my characters and books.

Tena Stetler can be found all over the web. Here are just a few places to read more of her writing journey or purchase her books.

Website: http://www.tenastetler         
Social media pages:
Twitter Page: Or twitter handle: @tenastetler
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