Thursday, January 31, 2013

Robert Crais Signing - Tattered Cover

The Tattered Cover is hosting Robert Crais, a repeat guest at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, today at their Colfax Avenue location at 7:30 PM.

Bestselling, award-winning thriller author Robert Crais, creator of the beloved Elvis Cole and Joe Pike mysteries, will read from and sign his new stand-alone novel Suspect (Penguin).

Scott James is an LAPD officer whose partner, Stephanie, was murdered.  Maggie was a USMC German shepherd patrol dog who lost her handler in Afghanistan.  Now Scott and Maggie are an LAPD K9 team nobody trusts - damaged goods who are wounded, scared, and suspect.  Scott and Maggie now have no one but each other.  They will help each other learn to trust and love again, or die in the hunt for Stephanie's killers.

Note: This signing is in no way affiliated with Pikes Peak Writers. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Privacy: It Can be Complicated in This Digital Age

By Stacy S. Jensen

Do you ever worry about privacy in this age of over-sharing?

My response varies with the social media outlet, and sometimes the time of day.

Today, we share much of our private lives
through social media.  There's no need to
spy through the keyhole anymore.
Over Christmas, the family of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg made the news over a privacy issue. His sister Randi Zuckerberg discovered a private photo shared on Twitter. It turns out her privacy settings were not airtight.

If the Zuckerberg family can’t get its privacy settings correct, how are we regular folks supposed to figure this out?

I rarely find out privacy changes through Facebook, the company. Instead, I rely on several writers groups on Facebook or writers on Twitter to share the news.  If something big happens in this area, I expect the news to trickle down in my Facebook or Twitter newsfeeds.

I remind myself that nothing is really private on social media sites. At the end of the day, we’re each responsible for what we say and do online and in person.

Do you:
  • ·        Tell blog readers where you live — city or state?
  • ·        Write about things your children do?
  • ·        Share your real name?
  • ·        Criticize agents or other writers?
  • ·        Write about yourself or others in blog comments or tweets?

All of these online activities leave a digital trail.

Have you ever googled your name to see what comes up? I’ve done it and found random tweets, comments on blogs and my own blog posts show up.  This information is available for potential employers, agents, publishers and your mother to see.

While the Randi Zuckerberg privacy issue made some people laugh about the irony of it all, it reminded me to check my privacy settings.

Privacy is a lot more complicated today than it was way back in 2007 before cell phones were smartphones or the iPhone was born.

How do you deal with privacy issues with your personal and professional online presence? Are you worried or not concerned at all?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler. 
Twitter: @StacySJensen

Monday, January 28, 2013

I'm Just Not Into E-books

By Robin Widmar

Well, you can start scanning the skies for airborne swine: I've finally stepped into the world of e-readers. I've resisted the allure of these gadgets since they hit the market because I never really needed or wanted one. I won’t bore you with the reasons why I succumbed; suffice to say circumstances have changed, and here I am with a shiny new electronic device that's smarter than I am.

So far, I've downloaded a couple dozen PDF files for school and six e-books to read for fun. The PDFs were required reading, but I haven’t even cracked open any of the e-book files.

I have, however, finished three paperback novels in the time I’ve owned the e-reader.

It seems I’m just not into e-books. But after about two months of subtly avoiding the expensive dust collector, I began to wonder why.

Sure, there are the obvious tactile experiences associated with books made of paper. There’s nothing like the satisfaction of opening a brand-new book for the first time, the aroma of freshly printed pages, or the challenge of trying not to crinkle that flawless spine. I love the progression of book pages flipping from the right side to the left side, and the suspense of wondering how the story problems will be resolved as I get closer to the back cover.

But reading is reading, right? At least, that’s what the manufacturers of e-readers want us to believe. While the publishing world touts the commercial success of electronic books, the cold hard numbers don't fully reflect what’s being lost in the transition from paper to e-ink. We’re losing more than physical books.

We're losing memories.

I recently overhauled my writing space, which meant removing hundreds of books from bookcases, rearranging said bookcases, and then putting the books back onto their designated shelves. I spent the better part of a day on the task. Of course, that time could have been shortened if I hadn’t taken frequent breaks to thumb through beloved books from childhood. Or to read the notes my late grandmother scrawled inside a few front covers. Or to reminisce about novels I shared with family and friends.

To me, books are more than stories. They are ties to people, places, and times in my life. Many of the books I gleefully unwrapped at birthdays and Christmases sit on my bookshelves to this day – right next to my collection of Marguerite Henry horse stories, my mom's hand-me-down Nancy Drew mysteries, and my grandfather’s metallurgy texts.

Try passing down e-books to the next generation.

The vast majority of books in my personal library are connected to some sort of memory. One of my favorites is a paperback anthology of James Thurber stories I bought at a little shop on Oahu’s North Shore. It rode in the pocket of my leather motorcycle jacket the rest of that day, and I stayed up late into the night devouring its quirky tales. I don’t know if the store even exists today, but I still have that book, its pages yellowed by time, its thin cardboard cover worn from many readings.

How would that have worked with an e-reader? “Ah, now here’s a file I remember well. See, I was sitting in this little cafĂ© in Hawaii when I downloaded it from Amazon…”

Not quite the same, is it?

E-readers have their place in our busy world, and I’m sure I’ll get used to reading stories on mine. But the experience can never compare to reading – and collecting – regular books. Some of those paperbacks and hard covers do more than simply convey tales to entertain us. They tell the stories of our lifetimes in a way that digital books never will.

About the Writer:  Robin Widmar works to support a horse habit and writes to follow a dream. When she’s not writing about demons, dragons, or firefighting, she discusses the rampant typographical errors threatening to take over the written world at The World Needs a Proofreader.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quote of the Week, Week to Come & Panel Announcement

True Ease in Writing comes from Art, not Chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.-Alexander Pope, "An Essay on Criticism"

This week on Writing From the Peak...

...Robin Widmar tells us why she's just not into e-books.  What are we losing as we set aside the paper books of our past?

...Privacy: It Can be Complicated in This Digital Age, by Stacy S. Jensen, gives some important reminders for anyone using social media.

...I share upcoming events in the region, as well as contests, writing news and publications taking submissions.

Finally, our very own Deb McLeod and The Writing Ranch are presenting a free e-book marketing panel on January 28, from 6:30-8:30 PM, at Highlands Ranch Library.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sweet Success! Janet Fogg

Compiled by DeAnna Knippling

Janet Fogg's non-fiction tale "The Smile of an Angel" (ebook, approximately 38,000 words) was published in the anthology The Heart of Christmas by Sparkle Press on December 5, 2012. The ebook is available at Amazon and Smashwords. The author's website is

Heart of Christmas celebrates this blessed time of year with lighthearted tales of friends and family, touching stories, beautiful poems, powerful quotations, and favorite yuletide songs.

Raised in Colorado, Janet Fogg enjoys climbing mountains. Summits include Janet’s award-winning historic romance Soliloquy, military history best seller Fogg in the Cockpit, co-authored by Richard and Janet Fogg, a career as CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, and two dozen of Colorado’s Fourteeners.

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email DeAnna Knippling at dknippling [at] gmail [dot] com if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writer's Night Venue Change and Kim Harrison Signing

There has been a venue change for the Writer's Night, held the fourth Monday of each month.  Here's a note from Deb Courtney on the change:

"Pikes Peak Writers Night, held on the 4th Monday of every month, has a new host location! Due to the size of our group and some changes in the available space at Poor Richard's Bookstore, I have been looking for a new host venue. 

We are super fortunate that Lofty's , a locally owned coffee shop/wine bar has agreed to host our group. The shop is typically closed on Monday nights, but the owner, Josh Kennard , who is a great supporter of the arts in Colorado Springs, has kindly agreed to open just for us.

Lofty's is located in the Historic Lowell School District, in downtown Colorado Springs, at

287 E Fountain Blvd
Ste 100
Colorado Springs , CO 80903 

 Lofty's offers a small selection of coffees, wine, beer and mixed libations, as well as a variety of juices and organic sodas. There is a small menu of mostly sandwich based items. Wi-fi is available. Hope to see you all on the 28th, at 6:30 pm, to discuss all things writing! Best, Deb Courtney" 

Also, an event not included in the previous post about news and events is a signing with Kim Harrison at the Tattered Cover in Denver.

When: Monday, January 28, 7:30 PM
Where: Tattered Cover in Historic LoDo, (16th St, Denver)
What: Supernatural adventure master Kim Harrison will read from and sign Ever After (William Morrow), the eleventh entry in her New York Times bestselling Hollows series.  When witch-turned-daywalking-demon Rachel Morgan sets off a chain of events that could lead to the end of the world - demonic and human - he must use her gifts to save those closest to her while preventing an apocalypse.

*Free numbered tickets for a place in the book signing line will be handed out beginning at 6:30 PM.  Seating for the presentation prior to the book signing is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis to ticketed customers only.

Can't make it to the signing?  Request an autographed copy here:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Don't Write the Book of Your Heart

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

Let me start off by saying that writing the book of your heart sucks big monkey butt. 

I spent the last year working on the rough draft of a book I absolutely love. The words never flowed so well. The characters leapt from the page. It was epic, complicated, cross-genre. It was a joy to work on. I laughed, I cried, the story became a part of me. Was it better than Cats? Oh yeah. 

I loved my new book so much that on the way to that first critique meeting, I swore that if they didn’t love it, I would edit it all myself and send it out, because it was perfect the way it was, the way I had spent a year birthing it. 

Of course, that first critique session with my beloved project didn’t go well. When anyone said anything negative, I wanted to punch them right in the kisser. My baby? Ugly? How dare you?  I was like a petulant child. But that comes from writing the book of your heart.  It’s hard to be objective, even about simple word choice. 

I want to use that word, damn you. It’s my left ventricle.

When I’ve written other books that I wasn’t so invested in, it was so much easier to change things. You don’t like that my character is Asian? Okay, I’ll make her a redneck white girl from Alabama. You think Paris is the wrong setting? Okay, I’ll change it all to take place in Anchorage. Sure.

Here's the deal, though. Writing novels takes a lot of time and work. It’s like being married. Do I want to be married to someone I love, or do I want to be married to someone I can change without really caring? Okay, yeah, so both have their advantages.

Let me put it this way: writing takes blood. If you are going to bleed, do you want to bleed for your soul mate, or do you want to bleed for a casual acquaintance that you kind of like, but are mostly eh about?

Some people will tell you that readers can tell the difference between a book someone writes for love and one written for money. I don’t believe that. But I do believe this: If I’m going to spend hundreds of hours, perhaps thousands, working on a project, I better love it.

But as the poets have said, love hurts. 

So don’t write the book of your heart. Be mercenary. Write for the market. Write your Aunt Matilda’s life story as a tax accountant. Copy down other people’s ideas and stay completely detached.

Unless you can’t help yourself. Then yeah, I understand. And we’ll bleed together.

About the Writer:  YA Paranormal author Aaron Michael Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isn’t slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, hit the streets on March 29, 2012.

Monday, January 21, 2013

30 Ways to Meet Your Writing Goals

By DeAnna Knippling

I happen to like setting unrealistic goals for myself at the New Year. I happen to like setting unrealistic goals for myself at any old time, actually, but if I do it now, I’ll have company. A big, happy group of us with shining faces, swearing that this time will be different than last time. Lose twenty pounds! Stop the incessant nose-picking! Learn Swahili for reals this time! Write!

Well, I’ve learned a thing or two about unrealistic writing goals, at least. What you’re shooting for is that heady rush that you get when you’re standing at the edge of some precipice without feeling like it’s so high that attempting anything funny would be self-destructive. Giddy, but not suicidal.

I’ve been finding myself giving the following advice to new writers: Write 1K a day.

Every day.

In the tips below, you’ll see me trying to convince myself I can do it, too:

1) Pick a good goal. Something 100% in your control, like “write 1000 words a day.” Specify how much or how many and when it has to be done.

2) Pick something that’s too hard by about 50%. Too easy, and you’ll blow it off and try to catch up later. Too hard and you’ll get so far behind that you cry yourself to sleep and quit. Make yourself stretch in the way that’s the tightest for you. For me, it’s the every day, not the word count.

3) Tell someone who will hold you accountable. Who will mock you on at least a weekly basis if you don’t show results. Who will cheer you if you do. Check.

4) Make a plan for when you’ll do it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, it will work itself out. No, it won’t. Make the plan. What time, where, using what resources? My recommendation: the earlier in the day the better, so if things go bad you have time to make it up. For me, it's after I drop off Ray in the morning, before doing freelance work.

5) Make a commitment to writing poorly. Can you plan to be inspired? No. So just plan to be uninspired. Done.

6) Set up a carrot. You could do something writing related, but there are only so many new pens you can give yourself. I’ve already got my first month’s carrot picked out. (I’m a sucker for t-shirts.)

7) Set up a stick. You miss your goals for the month? Ohhh, you gotta clean out the garage. In my case, I’m eyeballing a closet.

8) Tell your kids that your writing is homework, and that you’re not allowed to watch TV, go on the Internet, or read books until you’re done.

9) Lie to yourself. Tell yourself you have to accomplish five times what you really have to do.

10) Write down your goal versus what you have done on a piece of scratch paper and update it. A lot.

11) Write for pleasure, not accomplishment.

12) Write for someone else, just to see the look on their face when they read it.

13) Write a letter to yourself from the future you, at age 100, giving yourself permission to write.

14) When in doubt, write sensory details using all five senses, from the character’s POV.

15) If you’re stuck, take a break to do something you hate more than writing.

16) Turn off spell/grammar check. Seriously. You already have enough voices in your head judging you. When you’re done, spell check it and leave it alone.

17) Write to escape. How? Make settings you want to escape to, that would be perfect (except for something in the plot that puts the setting in danger, if you like). Make characters you’d want to stretch out in for a while.

18) Cut “was” and “has” constructions, adverbs, and similes from your sentences—you can use them, but if you don’t, you’ll probably write more direct, sensory details...which take more words and eat up word count.

19) Set a timer to remind you when to take an actual break instead of just staring at the computer in frustration.

Most of my problem is that I have trouble coming up with ideas as fast as I write. I’m great...right up to the point where the story’s done and I have to start on another one. So most of the rest of these are story-generating or story-challenging ideas.

20) Read writing advice books. Pick something—a writing exercise, an idea—and try to work it into the story you’re doing in order to study it.

21) Pick one thing to work on per story or session. Better cliffhangers. Hotter sex scenes.

22) Write down your dreams and ideas in the morning and see how many images you can work in.

23) Use random idea/character name generators.

24) Write the cheesiest story you can using the Lester Dent master plot formula, as adapted to your genre.

25) Write another story using the same method, for the genre you’re least interested in.

26) Copy something out of a bestseller. Not something copyrighted. But a plot idea, a POV type, a theme, a setting, more.

27) For story ideas, read weird stuff on a social media site like reddit or Twitter. In the immortal words of many a reporter, “You can’t make that @#$% up.”

28) Set out to overhear a stranger’s conversation at least once a week.

29) Carry around a notebook for ideas and overheard snippets.

30) Finally, just start with a character, setting, and problem, and go from there. What’s the worst that could happen?

And remember: the worst that could happen is that you get more writing done than you would without a yearly goal. You could get into a habit of writing every day. You could sell some writing. You could judge your mistakes a little less harshly. You could learn something new. But at the very least you could fail and end up ahead of where you were anyway.

About the Writer: DeAnna Knippling started freelancing in May 2011 and wouldn’t be able to do it without her wonderful family and friends, especially her husband. In fact, she owes a lot to Pikes Peak Writers for helping her be a better writer, especially through the Write Brains, both in the lectures and in meeting lots of other writers.

Her reason for writing is to entertain by celebrating her family’s tradition of dry yet merry wit, and to help ease the suffering of lack of self-confidence, having suffered it many years herself. She also likes to poke around and ask difficult questions, because she hates it when people assume something must be so.

For more kicks in the writerly pants, see her blog at or her ebook How to Fail & Keep on Writing, available at Smashwords, B&N, Amazon, and OmniLit.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quote of the Week & The Week to Come

Writing is both mask and unveiling. -E.B. White

This week, on Writing From the Peak...

...DeAnna Knippling gives us 10 Ways to Meet Your Writing Goals.  Think you've heard it all?  You haven't!  

...Aaron Michael Ritchey tells us why we shouldn't (or should?) write the book we love in Don't Write the Book of Your Heart.

...And Janet Fogg shares her Sweet Success with us.

Don't forget to stop by!

Also, this week is Writer's Night at Poor Richard's:

PPW Night at Poor Richard's

When: Monday, January 28, 2013
Location: Poor Richard's Restaurant, 320 N. Tejon, Colorado Springs, CO
More Information: Join fellow writers on the 4th Monday of each month for writerly discussion and socializing.  Wines, coffees, desserts and food available on-site.  We now meet in the back of the pizza restaurant portion.  If you can't find us, ask at the counter.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Countdown to Conference: How to Prepare

By MB Partlow

To properly prepare for conference, you need to take a page from the Santa Claus playbook.

Namely, you need to make a list and check it twice.

What am I blathering about? Come with me while I walk you through the thought process.

For beginning writers, start with the keynote speakers. Have you heard of them? Read anything they've written? If the answer is no, read their books. This is the easiest and fastest way to find out why these particular writers are considered our keynote speakers.  If you want more background than we have on the PPW website, go to the authors' websites. See if they're on Twitter, if that floats your boat. If you don't go to YouTube and see Libba Bray in the cow costume to promote Going Bovine, you're really missing out.

Look at the agents and editors next. Find out who works in the genres you write in, and make a note so you can attend their sessions at conference. Then take a look at all the other authors and specialists. You probably can't read all of everyone's work, but you can familiarize yourself with which ones are doing something you're interested in.

For those of you at a more intermediate level, start at the same place with the keynotes. But when you get to the agents and editors, pay a little more attention. You might decide to sign up for a Read and Critique (R&C) session, and we divide those up by genre. Wait, you don't know what R&C is?

R&C Author is a closed-door session where a few aspiring writers sit down with a published author and read their first page aloud. The author then gives immediate feedback, and with this smaller session, there's time for some back-and-forth between the newbie and the pro. The other two flavors of R&C are open for any conference goers to attend. In R&C X, you stand at the front of the room and read the first page of your work aloud. The agent or editor in that session will give you immediate, first-impression feedback.  In R&C 123, a designated reader will read each first page aloud, giving the author anonymity. Then the panel of one author, one agent and one editor will each give brief feedback.

One note: you need to sign up for R&C when you register for conference. These are highly organized and meticulously timed sessions, run by skilled moderators. I repeat: sign up in advance. Play nicely. Follow the rules you'll receive when you sign up--the moderator isn't going to let you read a first page that's got 1/4-inch margins and is single-spaced with 6-point type.

More experienced writers, with completed manuscripts, have the option of signing up to pitch to an agent or editor. This means more research, because the last thing we want to do is waste the time of you or the agent/editor. When you visit their website, go further than the bio. Look at what authors they work with, what books they've had published recently. This pays a double dividend. First, it pays to be aware of what others in your genre are doing, what flavor of vampire is "it" this month. Second, it shows you exactly what type of books your targeted agent/editor likes to work on.

Are they on Twitter? Follow them. Run their names through your favorite search engine to turn up interviews they've done or industry news items. Remind yourself that you're a writer, not a stalker. Read their blog, and not just the most recent one. Not familiar with their authors? Go back to the library (or book store, your choice) and see for yourself what kind of work they like. One of the best pitch sessions I ever had resulted because I found out (ahead of time) that the agent and I had a favorite book in common, and it gave us something to talk about.

Oh, yeah, you read that right. A pitch session isn't you sitting across the table from an agent or editor and begging them to publish your masterpiece, this heart's blood that you've committed to paper. It's a small slice of time where you get to know each other. You're much more likely to be remembered (favorably) if you ask them a coherent question or two about their work.

The last suggestion I have for conference is this: practice. The question you will be asked, repeatedly, is "What do you write?" Have an answer. Practice saying it out loud. Say it to your mirror, your cat, your spouse or your neighbors.  If you're signing up for R&C, read your first page out loud. Not just in your head, cheaterpants. Really, out loud. Get the cringing out of the way in the privacy of your own home. Bonus: you'll discover in a hurry if something isn't right. If you're going to pitch, practice talking about your work. You should be able to cover the basic essence of the story, the log line, in a single sentence.

Now get out of my head. You've been here long enough, and you're leaving muddy footprints on my brain.

MB Partlow, 2013 Programming Director for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, is hard at work getting fantastic speakers and participants for the conference.  You can reach her at or find more information on the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference at

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Succeed at Writing With Really Trying

By Cindi Madsen

Since we’re to that time of year where goals are all the rage, I figured I’d talk some about how to make writing resolutions that will work for you. I write fairly fast, and when people ask me how, I often say Mountain Dew. And I’m only a little bit kidding. 

The truth is, with any project I’m writing, I make goals. If I think, "I have to get this entire book done by such and such a date," it feels overwhelming. But if I break it up, it suddenly becomes possible. So I have a daily word count goal. You want it to be something that challenges you, but not something so hard to reach that you get frustrated. I’ll tell myself, "Once I hit today’s word count, I can read that book/watch that movie/etc." Often, I’ll get caught up in the story and surpass that goal. Those are the good days—I love those days. 

But sometimes it’s all I can do to reach my goal, the entire time feeling like I’m wading through mud in my five-inch stilettos, and I know the last two paragraphs are total crap and are going to need to be re-written the next day. But I pushed myself and there are words on the page. I can now spin and edit those words until they work for the story. They're words I wouldn’t have if I didn't push myself to reach my goal. 

It can be time instead of word count if that works better for you. I have friends who swear by setting a timer for fifteen minutes and doing writing bursts that way. Whatever you can fit into your life, do it. Because your goal is for this thing you’re working on to become a novel, right? And it happens a couple pages at a time. Figure out what works for you and go with it. Make it a habit. Hold yourself to it.

Once you’ve got that manuscript done, it needs to be revised. Again, thinking about revising a three-hundred plus page novel can be overwhelming. Break it down. Make another goal: either a certain number of chapters or pages to get through every day. Then give yourself a reward at the end of the day. Take some time to relax, because tomorrow you’re going to need to hit your next goal. Life will get in the way if you let it. There will be lots of distractions along the way. But if you set goals, one day you’ll find you have a book that’s ready to submit. And then you get to set new goals all over again. 

Good luck!

About the Writer:  Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes this makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. Look for her YA novels, All the Broken Pieces with Entangled Publishing, and Demons of the Sun with Crescent Moon Press. More information can be found on her website:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Write Brain & Open Critique Reminder

Don't forget that today is the Write Brain.  Information below:

January Write Brain Workshop 

Theme: Resolved to Write - The Body and Soul of Writing
Presenter: Aaron Ritchey
Cost: Always Free!
When: Tuesday, January 15, 6:30-8:30 PM
Location: Adult Room at Penrose Library (not our regular room there, due to scheduling conflict)

More Information: In this two hour workshop, we will begin with the body of writing: story, scene, setting, and style. But how can we have a body if we don't have a soul? Overcoming our fear and self-doubt is all about the soul and finding the courage to create. 

In the first hour of the class, we'll start with the basics, how to craft a first page that will grab the reads attention. We'll cover the basics of story, conflict, POV, and scene setting. During the class, you'll be putting pen to paper to test out some of what you have learned.

In the second hour, we'll go into what keeps most people from writing books. Writing can be a lonely, agonizing process full of self-doubt and self-recrimination. Past demons can rise up and strangle our creativity right when we need our muse the most. Through a unique application of the 12 steps of recovery, you will get the courage to create and the passion to follow your dream of writing fiction.

About the Presenter - For 20 years, through 12 epic manuscripts, Aaron Ritchey has stood at the mountain pass of Thermopylae and has surveyed the Persian army of rejection, failure and death and yet he continues to write. When he's not battling Persians, you can find him supporting anesthesiology software, bicycling, or being swept away by the raw female power living in his house. His first novel, The Never Prayer, is available now from Crescent Moon Press.

Also, tomorrow is this month's Open Critique:

PPW Open Critique Night

When: Wednesday, January 16, 2012, 6:30 to 8:30 P.M.
Location: Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, CO
More Information: The first 8 to RSVP can have up to 8 pages of their manuscript pages discussed by the group and the night's guest critiquer.  All are welcome to come observe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Story Tips #4 - Outlining Your Novel - The Script Writer's Way

By Jax Hunter

Welcome to the fourth installment of Story Tips From the Big Screen.  This monthly column (to be posted the second Monday of each month) explores screen writing techniques that will help fiction writers tell a better story. 

***   ***   ***   ***

Last month we learned the two minute movie and now we have a four-page treatment of our story.  The next step is the outline, or the step outline.  A step outline is simply a skeletal version of the story, your two minute move played out scene by scene.

Robert McKee in his wonderful book Story, defines a scene as a story event, an action through conflict in more or less continuous time and space.  He goes on to talk about value changes within scenes, but that’s a topic for another time. 

Before I write an outline, I like to know what I will need for this particular book.  So I get out my calculator.  We talked a bit about this method in the article about three-act structure.  If I’m shooting for a three-hundred page book, and I like to write ten page scenes (just an example), I will need thirty scenes.  Fifteen scenes will be split between Act I and Act III and fifteen will fill Act II.  I’m ready to outline thirty scenes.

With these numbers in mind, I know approximately where my plot points will fall so I jot them down in the appropriate slots.  We could call that plot slot jotting.  But I digress.

Then, I just fill in all the numbered scenes.

Being able to scrutinize the skeleton this way, on a sheet or two of paper, makes it easy to see if you really do have enough plot to fill the book.  At this stage, it’s easy and painless to make changes as well, long before you’ve spent hours, days, weeks writing, only to find out that you should have turned left back at the first light. 

Once this step outline is finished, you can focus all your energy on filling in the body of the story, the character emotions, setting details, dialogue, etc.  You’ll know where you’re going and won’t have to worry about whether the motel will be full-up or not when you get there.  (I love road-trip spontaneity, but also love knowing I have reservations.)

So what does a step outline look like?  I’m glad you asked. Hang with me a moment and I’ll show you some steps.  First, let’s look at the two minute movie outline of Romeo and Juliet.

Melancholy Romeo Montague meets innocent Juliet Capulet at a Capulet party.  They fall in love.

Because the two families hate each other, the Friar agrees to marry the kids secretly - and so they marry.

Soon thereafter, a street fight ends with Juliet’s kinsman dying by Romeo’s hand.  Romeo flees Verona after consummating his marriage to Juliet.

Juliet’s family announces her forthcoming marriage to Paris.  Juliet fakes her death.

Romeo misses the message and thinks that she’s really dead so he kills himself.  Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead and kills herself.  End of story.

So, here’s what the first few scenes would look like in the step outline:

1.  Two Capulet servants tussle with two Montague servants.  Prince arrives, breaks up the fight.  Romeo is melancholy because he loves Rosaline, conversation with his cousin.
2.  Paris talks to Juliet’s father re: marriage.  Romeo and Benvolio learn of the Capulet party and plan to go.
3.  Juliet and Mom discuss marriage to Paris, Juliet is obedient.
4.  The boys on the way to the party.
5.  Romeo first sees Juliet.  Tybalt realizes that there are Montagues present.  Patriarch steps in and averts violence.  First touch.  First kiss.

You can see that it was quite a jump between the highlights of the two minute movie and the “final” step outline.  It’s very possible that there will be versions in between.  It all depends on how much detail you have cooked up in your head before the plot slot jotting begins. 

Every author works differently and some absolutely can’t plot beforehand.  Most screenwriting books insist that you do so, though.  And while I absolutely HATE to be told that I HAVE to do something, I have come to see the value of outlining before I write.

Whatever you decide, just write.  See, though I’m not good at taking orders, I’m pretty good at giving them :)   I hope these ongoing tips from the screenwriting world have sparked ideas and given you more tools with which to work.  

Until next month, BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard) 

(This series first ran in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers newsletter in 2004.)

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.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quote of the Week & The Week to Come

Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.  -Terri Guillemets

This week on Writing From the Peak, you'll find...

...The next post in the Story Tips series from Jax Hunter.  This time around she's covering Outlining Your Novel - The Script Writer's Way.

...A reminder of this week's Write Brain and Open Critique.

...How to Succeed at Writing With Really Trying, by Cindi Madsen.

...And MB Partlow's Countdown to Conference.  This month she gives advice on how to prepare for the best conference experience possible, with a quick breakdown for beginners, intermediate writers and more experienced writers.

So come on by and pay us a visit this week!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sweet Success! Karen Albright Lin

Compiled by DeAnna Knippling

Karen Albright Lin's adult horror short story, "More More More!" (850 words), was published November 29, 2012, by Nth Degree Fiction and Fandom 'Zine. The story is available online for free here.

A strip tease act goes terribly wrong.

Also, her adult short story, "Snow Day" (850), was a finalist in November 2012 for The Visual Narrative Project.

A husband loses his job. His wife behaves oddly. He follows her and discovers the sad thing she is up to.

Karen Albright Lin consults and edits for published and yet-to-be published writers of fiction, nonfiction, and book proposals. She writes in a number of genres including novels, screenplays, short stories, and literary cookbooks. She conducts writing workshops in various venues including writers conferences and cruise lines. Her website is at

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email DeAnna Knippling at dknippling [at] gmail [dot] com if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Overcoming Writer's Block

By Linda Rohrbough

Like any published writer, I get a lot of questions about overcoming writer’s block. There are always the basics, like have a plan. For me that means I need to know the beginning, middle, and the end. Plus I need some definition of who the main characters are, what their strengths are, and what they’re afraid of.

But the bottom line is at some point I have to sit down and crank out the book. I can’t do it in a day or even a few days. I need to build the book like a bricklayer builds a wall. Writer’s block tends to stall that process. Here are some tips that have helped me overcome those days when I feel I’m blocked, along with a few parting thoughts about writer’s block.

Stay In Touch With The Work: There are days when I cannot spend the time I’d like working on the manuscript. But I try to make sure I look at the material, to keep it fresh in my mind. If I allow myself too much time away from the work, I have to spend time reviewing what I’ve already done so I can figure out where I was. It’s easier and more productive to stay in touch. This has the added benefit of allowing me to mull over the manuscript while I’m doing other things. I often solve problems in the manuscript that way.

Expect That Creating Can Involve Discomfort: I’ve found creating a book can involve discomfort on two levels. First, there’s often a grieving process involved. Eric Maisel introduced me to this concept in his book Fearless Creating. I often find myself upset after I write because what’s in my head is so much better than what I’m able to get on the page. I waltz through the stages of grieving (not necessarily in order): denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. However, when I come back to the work later, I often find myself thinking, “That wasn’t half bad. What was I so upset about?” Plus, I realized no one but me saw what was in my head. So if what I wrote did the job, that’s all that matters.

The second uncomfortable part of the creating process is the discomfort from doing something I haven’t done before. I got this from John Maxwell’s book Failing Forward. Once I understood I should expect to be uncomfortable (especially if I’m creating a new pattern of behavior, like writing at a certain time on a regular basis) I can accept it and do the work anyway.

Don’t Get Caught Up In Perfectionism: Another thing I learned from Eric Maisel is it’s not reasonable to expect performance at one-hundred percent capacity every time I sit down to work. I love those days when I’m firing on all cylinders and the words are coming almost faster than I can get them down. But I can still be productive working at a lower efficiency rate. I know I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be at peak efficiency all the time. Expecting peak productivity from myself is a clue this is killer perfectionism. I do the best I can. Hopefully, my best will get better. But if it doesn’t, I am learning to be okay with that.

Keep a “Worry List” Notepad File: The only way I can sleep at night when working on a book is to use Notepad, found in the Windows Accessories group, to create a text file on my desktop where I keep notes. If something starts bothering me, I pause, switch to the desktop, and double-click on that file. I hit F5 to put in the time and date, and write a note to myself. Did I mention when I introduced that character that she has a habit of blowing her hair back? Did I remember to move the scene where he finds out she’s not coming back? I put in just enough information so I’ll know later what I meant. Then I close the file, take a deep breath, and keep on working.

At the end of the book, I review that file. I’ve found I worry about the same thing a lot. There may be fifty entries on the same subject, each worded a little differently. I’d say eighty percent of the entries are either things I’ve taken care of or items I don’t care about any more. Fifteen percent of the entries I find myself checking on, but they also turn out to be non-issues. Only five percent are entries I need to do something about. But the beauty of having that file is when I wake up worried about an issue on the book, I can remind myself I wrote it down, so I can go back to sleep.

Is Writer’s Block Silly? Some say the whole concept of writer’s block is just silly. There’s no such thing as writer’s block just like there’s no such thing as “trucker’s block” for long haul truckers. They just get in the truck and drive, no matter how they feel.

I think there’s some truth to this, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. I’ve mulled over keeping a writing journal where I record my feelings about the work as well as what I was working on each day. Because one of the things I find fascinating is that I can’t tell at the end of the project what I wrote when I was having a good day, and what I wrote when it was one of “those” days.

My suspicion is that when I feel the most ordinary and uninteresting, the work ends up being about the same caliber as when I’m feeling like a genius (which isn’t often, believe me). But, as I said, I have no solid proof of this. I’ve surprised myself a couple of times when I picked up something I knew I wrote when I was feeling as bright as an old dust rag, and it was much better than I remembered. When that happens, my first thought is my editor made me look good. (Editors do that, you know.) Only when I check, as often as not, those were my words, exactly as I sent them in.

Maybe I don’t want solid proof. I’m miserable when I realize I’m not writing. So I’d hate to find out I need to feel like a genius, when most of the time I feel pretty doggone ordinary.

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

Monday, January 7, 2013

Letter From the Editor - New Beginnings

Despite dire warnings to the contrary, we have now officially entered 2013.  Happy New Year to everyone!

The closing out of an old year, and the ringing in of a new one, is a time people tend to think about their goals and accomplishments.  For us writers, this inevitably leads us to analyze where we are in our writing paths.  Did we reach any of our goals this year?  Get published enough?  Get published at all?  Find the time to write?  Submit?  Plot?

Whether you make resolutions or not, January is still a perfect time to reevaluate where you are, and where you'd like to be by this time next year.

Don't stop there, though.  Consider longer-term goals, as well, and this will help you to hone down the short-term goals to get you where you need to be.  What do you see for yourself in ten years?  Five?  What can you do this year that will help you to achieve those long-term goals?  Is what you're already doing moving you toward your ultimate goal?  Why not?

This month, you'll find advice on goal setting, as well as how to achieve those goals.  But that isn't all we're talking about here.  You'll read about writing from the heart (or not), online privacy, editing, and more.  The wonderful columnists here at Writing From the Peak have insured that this month will be one that will bring you into 2013 prepared for a productive and successful year.

We here at Writing From the Peak and Pikes Peak Writers wish you an amazing year, a year that you achieve your dreams.

Shannon Lawrence
Managing Editor


Friday, January 4, 2013

January News, Events & Links

PPW News

Pikes Peak Writers is presenting a free half-day writing workshop February 23rd at the Colorado Springs Marriott.  PPW invites you to "Write Your Heart Out" with presentations by multiple PPWC 2013 presenters.  Whatever "writing your heart out" means to you - whether that's banishing the inner editor, organizing your schedule/writing space, or putting "heart" in your prose - this half-day event will have something for you.  Appropriate for fiction writers of all genres at all levels of ability/experience.  Start your writing year off right with this FREE half-day workshop from Pikes Peak Writers!  

Saturday, February 23rd, 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. (doors open at 12:30).  
Colorado Springs Marriott - Library, 5580 Tech Center Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80919.

Space is limited -RSVP required:  For attendees under 18 years of age, pre-authorization and parental permission slip are required.  Please inquire at

The Pikes Peak Write Brain, always a free event, will occur Tuesday, January 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M., at Penrose Library, the Adult Room (please note, this is a different room than usual, due to a scheduling conflict), 20 North Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903.  There's plenty of parking, and it's free after 6 P.M.  The theme of the Write Brain is Resolved to Write - The Body and Soul of Writing, presented by our very own Aaron Ritchey.  For more information, please view the Events Tab above.

PPW Night at Poor Richard's, will be Monday, January 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M., in the bookstore.  Come enjoy wine, chocolate and coffee, and chat about writing.  Open to topics of discussion and questions.  More information on the Events tab.

PPW Open Critique Night will occur Wednesday, January 16, 6:30-8:30 P.M at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts.  The first 8 to RSVP may bring 8 pages of their manuscript to critique.  More information on the Events tab.

Other "Local" Events

Agent Sara Megibow, of the Nelson Literary Agency, is leading a 2-hour workshop on How to Get Your Book Published.  This will take place Sunday, January 13, 1:00 to 3:00 P.M., at Denver Jewish Day School Discovery Lab. Cost is $50. 

Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District will be having their annual meeting Saturday, January 19, from 9:00 to 11:00 A.M in the East Library Community Meeting Room.    Immediately following the business meeting (likely between 10:30 and 11:00 A.M.) will be some great programming: Vincent Colicchio will present "How to Turn Old and Discarded Books into Works of Art."  "Describing the 21st Century Library" will be presented by Humphries-Poli Architects.  Finally, attendees will be introduced to members of the Manitou Springs Public Library staff and Manitou Springs Friends, as they have joined PPLD.

Lighthouse Writers has some great January workshops touching on many different genres and topics.  They are also having a Open House & Faculty Reading on Saturday, January 5, from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. at Lighthouse: 1515 Race St, Denver, CO.  For other events, click here.  For a full listing of their workshops, click here.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers will host Bree Ervin, who will be presenting Writing Sex in YA on Saturday, January 12, 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.  Click here for location and programming information.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of American will have Tom Adair presenting "Fingerprinting Techniques" on January 10 in Denver.  For more information, click here.

Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group has various meetings throughout the month for critique and discussion.  Visitors are welcome.

The Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women will be presenting a Writer's Workshop February 13, 2013, from 9:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. at the PEO Chapter House on West Cheyenne Road.  Cost is $23. Workshops will address memoir writing, publishing on the internet and blogging for writers.  There will also be a special experience dealing in the interconnectivity of the arts.

Publications Open for Submissions & Contests
Please note: Inclusion of links in this post does not equal sponsorship by Pikes Peak Writers or a relationship between the two entities.  Please always be sure to pursue due diligence before submitting anything to a publication or contest.

The Great Novel Contest opened January 1.  Cost is $40 to enter.  It's sponsored by the Columbus Creative Cooperative.  The winner will receive their choice between $1000 and a publishing contract with Columbus Press. Closes the last day of January, or sooner if 200 entries are received.

The Pikes Peak Branch of the National League of American Pen Women has opened their annual Flash Fiction Contest with the theme "Hidden Amongst These Worlds."  Deadline is May 1, 2013.  Cost to enter is $10 first entry, $8 each subsequent entry, and $10 for optional critique.  $100 first prize, $50 second, $25 for third.

Cemetery Dance is accepting fiction submissions until all 2013 slots are filled.  Paying market.  Looking for horror, dark mystery and suspense.  May query for non-fiction and artwork.

Belladonna Publishing is looking for Gothic fairy tale submissions for their anthology Black Apples.  Paying market.  Closes January 15.

Indigo Mosaic Publishing is open for submissions on multiple anthologies, including Chocolate Dreams.  Each anthology pays in royalties.

World Weaver Press is seeking submissions for an anthology entitled Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures.  Pays $.01 per word.  Open January 1 through March 31, 2013. 

The Delizon Annual Short Story Competition is on for 2013.  Cash prizes for 1st through 10th place, with 1st being $1200.  Deadline April 15, 2013.  $25 entry fee.

Electric Spec is taking submissions of speculative fiction.  They prefer science fiction, fantasy and the macabre.  Paying market. 

Carina Press is accepting submissions in multiple arenas.  They pay 40-50% royalties, digital first, print maybe.

Sylvan Dell is open to submissions of creative and educational books for kids, primarily in earth and physical science.  Paying market.

Any questions on these events or links?  If you belong to an organization that is taking submissions, hosting a writing contest or presenting a workshop or other enrichment for writers, locally, please email the editor at editor [at] pikespeakwriters [dot] com.

About the Writer:  Shannon Lawrence is a mom of two, a freelance writer and aspiring novelist.  She lives in Colorado Springs and is inspired by the beauty of Pikes Peak and the Rockies.  After years of letting her writing fall by the wayside, she has recently thrown herself back into it.  Her main focus is fantasy and horror and she has just finished a Young Adult Fantasy novel.  She has a flash fiction piece featured in the anthology Sunday Snaps: The Stories, due out in late 2012.  She has also discovered a love of photography and enjoys photographing the breathtaking Colorado scenery and wildlife, as well as her children.  She blogs about reading, writing and photography at