Sunday, October 30, 2011


Being an author is having angels whisper in your ear - and devils, too.  – Terri Guillemets

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Success!

DeAnna Knippling's collection of middle-grade short stories written as De Kenyon, Tales Told Under the Covers: Zombie Apocalypse & Other Stories (ISBN 978-1-4659-8959-8, 162 pages, ebook and trade paperback) was independently published in October 2011 by Wonderland Press.  The book is available from all major online bookstores.  The author's website is at

Ten tales of death, invasions from other realms, bullies, babysitters, liars, and the brave kids who fight back. Zombie girls who have to hide, lest they get eaten by bigger zombies. Food that bites back. Wizards who are scared of their own power. Murdered (and murderous) pets. Secret superpowers. And that last, great voyage into the unknown. Stories to be whispered under the covers, by flashlight. Stories to be read by firelight to the robots who come out of the woods. Stories to be told when the witches are ready to eat you but want to hear just one more story before they shove you in the oven. Creepy Stories. Fantastical Stories. Weird Stories.

De Kenyon likes to cook and eat weird food that tastes good but grosses people out when they find out what’s in it, like chocolate truffles with fish sauce, fish heads, and tongue sandwiches. Her next gross-food project is going to be finding a tasty way to cook brains, which she will then feed to her daughter. She does karate with her daughter now, just in case zombies attack or her daughter gets mad about something she’s eaten. Under her other name, DeAnna Knippling, she has written Choose Your Doom: Zombie Apocalypse, a pick-your-own-path comedy adventure about brains, purple mold, and the undead in which you die...but you might just save the world.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kindle Fire: Will It Work Out? by Linda Rohrbough

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this article are that of the author, and do not imply endorsement of any particular product by the Pikes Peak Writers.

I have seen a bunch of nay-sayers online about the color Kindle Fire. I say it’s about time. Amazon was about to be left in the dust if they didn’t go to color, so I applaud them for being smart enough to make the move and at an affordable price.

Eye-Opening History
In the late 1980’s, I was a technology reporter when the PC and the Mac were neck and neck. IBM made the decision to go to a color display, even though color CGA resolution was pathetic. Steve Jobs at Apple decided CGA resolution was too poor and stayed with higher resolution black and white.
The result? The PC took off with consumers. Apple was left with ten percent of the market share, a position they still hold in the computer market today. More recently, when cellular phones went to color, everyone had to have one. Color is king when it comes to consumer adoption of new electronic devices. And the Kindle Fire is going to feed that hunger.

Why the Tablet Fire Sales?
I’ve heard several industry analysts express confusion about why the newly introduced tablet computers didn’t take off. In fact, HP and others have dumped their new tablets in “fire sales” where they’ve slashed prices. Why?
Compatibility. These new tablets are not compatible with much of anything and they’re expensive. My iPhone app publisher wanted to port their stable of apps to the Android, which is the operating system most of the tablets are using. But they gave up the plan because they’d have to create a minimum of six different versions to fit the six most popular versions of the Android operating system. (Actually there are more than six, but you get the idea.)
And without apps, the tablets are just about useless. Plus, once you get to a $400+ price tag, you might as well bite the bullet and get an iPad. It’s not that much more and you get so much more with it.

Bottom Line
The Kindle Fire is color, it’s fast, it’s small enough to fit in a woman’s purse, and it’s under two hundred dollars. I think it’ll be a winner. This new browser, Amazon Silk, with cloud computing they’re touting sounds kind of ambitious. And if it doesn’t work well, which is likely with a first cut of new technology, it’ll be disappointing. But I think consumers will bear up if they can get books quickly on demand, they have color, and some ability to browse the web. I’ve got one on order, so what does that tell you?

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

Monday, October 24, 2011

Write Brain Report: Hilari Bell's "Writing the Dreaded Synopsis" by Lori Sly

Writing the synopsis of a novel seems more difficult to me than writing the novel itself. There’s not a speck of space to ramble, blather or digress.  Ah, yes, conciseness: the mark of a good writer! In a synopsis, there is no choice but to be concise. Maybe it’s our ultimate test.

On October 11, Hilari Bell led a Write Brain session about synopses. Writers in the audience were keen for guidance from her, an author with eighteen published novels. During the session she reviewed synopsis rules and recommended six points for starting a 1-2 page synopsis.

Hilari began by sharing some general rules for a synopsis. It should be written in present tense, and the main character should act to change the plot rather than just having events happening  to him/her. Tone should match the tone of the manuscript. One to two pages is the length most often requested, but other lengths are also needed at different times. Here are the variations:

·       1-2 sentences, sometimes called the “log line,” used in short verbal pitches
·       1-2 paragraphs, used in a query letter
·       1-3 pages, requested by an agent or editor
·       5-8 pages, requested in contests
·       40+ pages, an old custom for agent and editor requests, not used much anymore; often the request included a few sample chapters and the summarized ending

After ten years of writing and not selling synopses fiction, Hilari discovered two crucial skills, one about point of view, the other about starting technique.

As in manuscripts, a strong, compelling point of view is important in synopses. Editors and agents like them better if written in active language from one main character’s point of view. The less desirable way is for the writer to tell the story from a distance. So instead of beginning with, “An anthropology student went to a site...” begin with, “Kelsey Armand dug up a...”

Before Hilari acquired the starting method she uses now, she tried writing synopses by summarizing each chapter in the story. These synopses tended to be too long, and she had difficulty deciding what to cut. A strategy she learned later, which led to selling synopses, was starting with a skeleton approach: six plot points. She heard this technique in one of Pam McCutcheon’s workshops. (Hilari gave Pam the credit for five of her six starting points mentioned below.) Once the main plot sentences are written down, she adds transitions and clarifications. Adding just enough to make the synopsis read well creates the shortest synopsis, the kind to put in a couple of paragraphs for a query letter. More information can be added for situations allowing longer synopses. I explain Hilari’s six plot points below.

The first point to start a synopsis is an Ordinary World statement. This describes a main character’s situation before the story kicks off. Hilari gave examples from the plot of the movie Wall-E:
  Wall-E the robot is alone on earth, cleaning up trash a vanished humanity has left behind.
The Inciting Event creates the second point, the introduction of the main plot problem.
   Another robot, Eva, arrives. But she is only interested in her mission, not in friendship. 
Next, add The First Change of Direction. A plot twist should occur 1/4 to 1/3 into the story, something to send the main character in a new direction and change his/her plan of action. This is also known as the end of Act I.
   A mysterious ship comes to Earth and sweeps Eva away. 
The Second Change of Direction is a plot twist taking place about 2/3 of the way into the story. Either the stakes are raised, or another new direction leads straight into the climax. Often this is where character growth occurs.
   Wall E chooses duty over love, and orders Eva to save the plant. 
The Climax resolves the main plot problem, occurring within one or two chapters of the end.
   Wall-E steps in and saves the plant from being crushed, even though he is so badly damaged that his own personality is destroyed. 
The sixth and last plot point is The Wrapping Up, where the author reveals how story events have changed the main character’s life.
   Eva takes Wall-E back to Earth and helps him recover.
After the six main points have been established, add missing parts such as character motives for their actions and character growth through the story. Also insert anything necessary to understand each plot point. Finally, include transitions between the points, and a summary at the end.

Hilari said the biggest trick to writing a synopsis well is learning to leave out as much as you can and still tell a good story. Even if you have a science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction story, world details should only be included to support understanding of what the main character does and why. Furthermore, if theme is integral to the whole story and works in easily, put it in; otherwise, leave it out. In longer synopses, there may be room for more world details, theme, and an enticing subplot. But start with the six plot structure points and add in only what is most critical to the main story. It is much easier to decide what to add to a skeleton set of sentences than to relate the whole story and decide how to reduce it.

            During the session, M.B. Partlow, contest coordinator for the 2012 PPW Fiction Writing Contest, provided hints for scoring higher on a synopsis for the contest. One of her first hints was not to underplay its significance, and to allocate time beyond writing your chapters to make a synopsis right. The submitted chapters are worth 45 points total, and the synopsis is worth almost as much at 40 points. One of the biggest reasons writers fall short of winning the contest is that they pay too little attention to writing a decent synopsis.

            M.B. cautioned writers to include what happens at the end of the story--don’t create a cliffhanger or hook ending for the synopsis. Another hint was to make descriptions specific rather than vague. For instance, “dog” could become “frisky Cocker Spaniel,” which paints a clearer picture. Also, she suggested you limit the number of names introduced to between three and five important characters. Don’t be afraid to call a taxi driver just that—he doesn’t need a name. When you’re finished writing a synopsis, have an objective reader review it. He or she will find errors you can’t see in your work because you’re too close to it. M.B.’s last suggestion was to use the score sheet and example winning synopsis available on the Pikes Peak Writers website ( to guide your writing.

For the last part of the Write Brain session, Barb Albright, a brave novice writer, submitted her synopsis to Hilari for review. Barb had drafted a single paragraph. Her story was about 15-year-old Serena who wants to fit in a new town, but finds she has inherited an old soul that won’t let her. Hilari worked on expanding Barb’s paragraph to include the six plot points and reach a 1-2 page length. Her first piece of advice was to use the main character’s point of view and make her more active rather than acted upon. She also advised creating tangible, specific ways to show how the protagonist has accomplished fitting in or not. Similarly, she suggested Barb add tangible, specific oppositions to overcome for the climax, rather than the protagonist’s internal realization about her old soul. Hilari closed the session with a new story synopsis, one which invented new plot points where Barb had them missing. It turned into a helluva ghost story.

Attending this Write Brain session got me thinking about the value of synopses. I find that although they’re difficult to write, summarizing a finished story by its main plot essentials makes me revisit whether I buried them in the manuscript. It also contributes to better pitches, because it gives me practice telling the story in simplified terms. So beyond the initial dread of writing one and then hoping that whomever I’m submitting to doesn’t ask for it, it can be helpful to write one, even if no one else ever reads it. I’m eager to try Hilari’s skeleton starting method, as I’ve been creating synopses the difficult way: writing the whole shebang down, or a good deal of it, and painfully making cut by cut.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Success! – Karen Albright Lin

Karen Lin's mainstream flash fiction story EASY (670 words, efiction) was published on October 2 by White Cat Magazine. The story is available for free at White Cat Magazine. Visit her website at

A homeless man falls in and out of love with an unsuspecting woman while regularly sneaking into her house.

Karen Albright Lin is a professional editor/consultant for multi-published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays. She’s a ghost writer of novels and writes for newspapers and magazines as well as literary magazines. She has won or placed in 25 writing contests. She’s written and collaborated on five short scripts and ten feature-length screenplays that have garnered international, national, and regional awards--one produced. Her co-written scripts have been considered by James Cameron, Barry Sonnenfeld, HBO, Showtime, and the Sci Fi Channel. She speaks regularly at writers' conferences.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CONTINUING by Karen Albright Lin

When all things seem to work against getting your words on the page and you feel like giving up, there are many tricks that may help you refocus on C.O.N.T.I.N.U.I.N.G.  Maybe a few of these will work for you.

C – Commitment: make one to yourself.  Confidence: use affirmations.  Characters: play with them.  Control yourself: nix TV and internet use, busy work, and other excuse behavior.
O – Overthinking the project?  Original reason to write: what was it?  Offer to help: judge contests, volunteer at conferences, beta read, mentor, believe in Karma.
N – Next sale: visualize it.  NaNoWriMo and other challenges from friends, or simply blackmail yourself.
T – Therapist talk: what’s your block?  Time: willing to put in lots of it?  Turn off your editor.  Toy with new genres.  Target hot spots in marketing and sell yourself as well as your book.  Treat yourself to a box of favorite pens.
I – Immediately mount the horse if you fall.  Inspect your dominant emotion and understand it.  Ignite your fire by rearranging your study or trying new rituals.  Ignore skepticism around you: if someone asks, “Where can I find your novel?” tell of your successes.
N – Narrow down your goals.  Nestle with your significant other or pet (don’t deny the things that matter).  Notice and celebrate successes including agent feedback, contest finals, publications (even small venues), and hang awards on the wall.
U – Understand your theme.  Utilize rejection: it’s not punishment; it’s a lesson in persistence, patience and packaging.  Up the exercise to keep the blood and ideas flowing.
I – Invite the muse.  If you see your chapter can be better, that’s a gift.  Infuse energy and rhythm into your writing by reading other writers.  Improve your skills by listening to feedback without defending your work (don’t stifle the critic).
N – Never give up:  the only writers guaranteed not to publish are those who stop trying.  Niche: find your place and your voice.  Nothing guarantees a good first draft. 
G – Gamble: what do you have to lose?  Genre: do you love yours?  Great ideas for a next book can be set aside in a file for later to prevent distraction.  Gather so you don’t have to wander alone: Good critique groups, support groups, reading partners, conferences; be an editor or mentor. 

If you have ideas for staying motivated, for continuing on your writer’s journey, please share them!

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