Wednesday, April 9, 2014

RMFW Writer of the Year Nominees!

The nominees for RMFW's 2014 Writer of the Year Award are...

*drum roll please*

Shannon Baker, Christine Jorgensen, and Terry Wright


Shannon Baker, author of the Nora Abbott Mystery series involving murder, environment and Hopi Indians, can often be found backpacking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, or just playing lizard in the desert. From the Colorado Rockies to the Nebraska Sandhills, the peaks of Flagstaff and the deserts of Tucson, landscapes play an important role in her books.  Tainted Mountain, the first in her Nora Abbott Mystery Series, is set in Flagstaff, AZ, where she lived for several years and worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder. She lived twenty years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. When Shannon moved to Boulder, CO, Nora followed her and Broken Trust is set in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Shannon now makes her temporary home in Nebraska and believes her job description is now itinerate writer.

Christine Jorgensen is the author of the mystery series Stella the Stargazer, about an astrologer and lovelorn columnist in Denver, Colorado, and writing as C.T. Jorgensen, the Casey Jansen series, about a police detective in Ridgewood, Colorado.

There’s nothing mundane in the writing world of Terry Wright.  Tension, conflict and suspense propel his readers through the pages as if they were on fire.  Published in science fiction and supernatural, his mastery of the action thriller has won him international acclaim as an accomplished screenplay writer. When he's not writing or judging contests, he's the editor at TWB Press.  He lives in LakewoodColorado, with his wife Bobette and their Yorkie, Taz.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Foot in the Door - Julie Luek

When a writer you know hits publication of national distribution with a household name like "Chicken Soup for the Soul," you can't help but make a big deal out of it.
Julie Luek may have just snagged her first major step into the big leagues and we're all very proud of her. A past contributor to the Rock, she has always had elegance about her writing. It comes as no surprise that she wowed the editors for this anthology.

CIR: What is your essay about?
JL: The theme of the Chicken Soup book was The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide. I wrote a story titled, First Feed The Heart, about a time I forgot (yes forgot) my son at school when he was only in Kindergarten. I was so busy trying to balance work, home, and being a parent, somehow he got lost in that shuffle. Fortunately, all ended well, but it was a good lesson in slowing down and taking care of myself, one I hoped to share with other moms.

Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul was a bit different than other kind of writing I’ve done. When I write for a magazine, I am usually writing to inform or educate in an easy-to-read, hopefully entertaining format. Chicken Soup requires a more personal and pithy approach, wrapping up with some kind of heart-felt encouragement or happy ending.  It was fun to try and find out if I could capture the editor’s attention.

CIR: You've always been very encouraging to me and so many other writers. Do you find your support rewarding in ways that you couldn't have expected? The reason I ask is: you are an inspiration to me in that regard, even though I fail too often to lend such encouragement. Time is my enemy and then there's the self absorption thing...
JL: As with my friendship with you, I feel so privileged to know encouraging and supportive writers ahead of me on the journey who are willing to share with me their experiences with the writing and sometimes very frustrating publishing processes. I love the connections and hanging out with people who “get” me. I’m glad I can be encouraging, but would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I gain far more writer friends like you than I give.

CIR: You're a runner and a bit of a Zen master to my understanding. Does this help with the patience necessary to write?
JL: This question makes me laugh. I’m a jogger, a very slow, oh-my-gosh-when-will-this-three-miles-be-over, jogger.  And you know more than almost anyone how I over-analyze everything, so I’m not even sure I can claim the Zen title either. 

Maybe because I have written so many magazine articles, I actually like the structure and formula of writing shorter pieces with a definite reader-awareness intention.  I also enjoy long amounts of time alone in complete silence and digging into my own thought and feeling awareness.  Where I struggle is with the larger, more ambiguous projects that other writers seem to thrive on.
CIR: What's your next project?

JL: Speaking of larger, ambiguous projects… I have a nonfiction book idea but getting it from idea to fruition is killing me. How do you authors do it? I have rewritten the introduction and first chapter at least three times.  I diligently avoid working on it by tinkering on my blogs or online platform building (yeah, OK, too much time on Facebook and Pinterest).
I also have a workshop gig, on the subject of platform building actually, to prepare for the upcoming Writing In The Rockies conference in Gunnison at Western State Colorado University.

CIR: Thanks, Julie! We'll be keeping an eye out for your name on the bestsellers lists!
JL: Thanks Dave and CIR for your continued support and friendship and letting me blab about what I’m doing.

Julie Luek
Julie Luek has her MA in Education and Counseling and is a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado and is published in regional, national and online publications and is the author of two blogs A Thought Grows and In Fine Company. She is also a biweekly contributor to the international writing site, She Writes and has appeared as a guest blogger on sites like WOW (Women on Writing), Chiseled in Rock, and others with writer-based content. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter and enjoys supporting the community of writers.

Interview conducted by Gusto Dave

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Resurrection...or is it The Returned?

So, ABC's Resurrection kicked off last weekend.

It just so happens that the pilot series is based on a novel acquired by an outstanding Sr. Editor with Mira Books, Erika Imranyi, who we interviewed a while back. Check it out.

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Great Rules of Writing" by William Safire

Do not put statements in the negative form.

And don't start sentences with a conjunction.

If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.

De-accession euphemisms.

If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

Last, but not least, avoid clich├ęs like the plague.

William Safire was an author, journalist, and presidential speechwriter, best known as a syndicated columnist for the New York Times and the author of "On Language" in the New York Times Magazine, a column on popular etymology, and other language-related topics.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Can Publication Cause Depression?

Let’s get this up front. Life isn’t fair. And adversity builds character…yada yada.
Last year, I got divorced. Plus my job situation sucked. It all hit me like a bag of hammers. I can tell you honestly that, even having been shot at and knocked around in my younger years, I’d never been so scared in my life. Or depressed.

So with 2013 behind me, stronger now, gaining ground, hindsight 20/20, some philosophical questions have weaved through my quiet hours of pontification. Right before and during my marriage, I encountered some upsetting life curves.  Undaunted, I pounded my chest and got tougher…which was really just moodier and didn’t help the matrimony. However, during all those years, I was also pursuing publication like a madman. Looking back, I kind of see myself as Jack Torrence in The Shining—short of wanting to hurt anyone, of course, but I was really obsessed. More to the point, maybe depressed and aggravating myself.
I don’t think the rejections stung nearly as much as dashed hopes. Going into it, most of us know we’re going to get shot down a lot. But the roller coaster, that one I didn’t see coming. Hopes going way up, then a drop off straight to jagged rocks.

Have you ever been stood up on a date? That’s what I feel the let downs in the publishing business are like. Would you date much longer if every prospect stood you up? With some stamina, you might. And by doing so, you also might spiral into depression without even knowing it.
My first major rise and fall was a short story under a pseudonym that had the endorsement of a very famous author…an author whose works inspired an HBO series. Pretty cool, huh? Well, my story didn’t sell squat even though I promoted the hell out of it. Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads—I beat all those up trying to get my toe in the ‘exposure’ door.

Later, another plane that got off the ground only for a sweet moment was a manuscript written with a friend that a pretty big editor requested.  I know editors are overwhelmed. The biz is tough. But we got stood up. No response.
There were a lot of these ups that so far have ended on the down side. Talk to any writer who has been submitting for a while and you’ll hear similar stories.

So we dust ourselves off and get back on the horse, right?
Well, whereas Tattoo Rampage had something truly magnificent happen with it (and I'm still very thankful for), the behind the scenes is fraught with mishaps including what is apparently my failed promotional campaign. I haven’t been myself because of it. This dip came as quite the body slam and I haven’t rebounded yet.  

To my credit, I am still writing. But it’s all I have tolerance for.  I’m working on another manuscript—an even more Hollywood, high concept idea—and a comic book with my kid.
As for ending on a positive note, I think of Willie Nelson (I’ve blogged about him before because of his brilliance and persistence).  I recall that CBS launched a television program under his name back in the 60s. It was kind of like the Porter Wagoner Show. Willie only showed up for one taping. Tell me that he wasn’t a little fed up with the biz to walk away from that, LOL.

But he kept coming back.
And one way or another, that’s what I’m going to do. But for now, I’m only writing, maintaining my business friendships as best as I know how to in this mind set, and waiting for the funk to slide off of me. Do you feel like you slip to the dark side when the big ones crash? Do you think I have a point with the pursuit of success being directly proportional to the blues? After all, it has pretty much been summed up that happiness is wanting what you got, not getting what you want.

Gusto Dave

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stephen King's Great Commandment...

…is “read a lot, write a lot.”

Read a lot? Got that covered. No problem.

Write a lot? Well, in comparison to Stephen King, no. He likes to write ten pages a day, every day, with very few skipped days. His pages are 200 words each, so 2,000 words a day.

Writing 2,000 words a day, even 80% of the time, would be five to eight books a year. NOW you’re talking! Talking the impossible, for me, anyway. Once in a while I manage to write 2,000 words a day, but that’s rare. In fact, I’m pleased if I write 500, though 250 isn’t out of the norm, but 2,000? Day after day? Hah!

What about editing? For me, the Great Commandment needs to include editing because it’s such an integral part of my writing process. I'm a scroller. Each day I scroll back at least a few pages in my manuscript, if not five or six, to read and edit. Then I write new words. Scrolling back immerses me in the story, gets me focused, and reminds me where I left off. Perhaps that’s why I’m not speedy – I spend so much time editing. Periodically I print out fifty or a hundred pages for a “major” read for story continuity, and of course at the end of the first draft it’s edit, edit, edit. So I think I need to adapt the Great Commandment to my own writing style by saying, “read a lot, write a lot, edit a lot.”

What about you?

Janet Fogg
Janet is the author of Soliloquy, an award-winning historical romance, and co-author of Fogg in the Cockpit.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

From the ETO in 1943: My Most Memorable Christmas

by Sgt. James Underwood, 359th Fighter Group

As an Air Force Sergeant, at a fighter base in England during World War II, Christmas 1943 promised only homesickness.

There was to be a party at the NCO club, but no one seemed to be very enthused about the thought of it. Most everyone on the base had thoughts of home, missed families, wives and sweethearts.

My buddy, Sgt. Brown, and I had recently been dating two English girls, sisters, who lived in the small village of Thetford, five miles from the base. We had met their parents and had tea with them on several occasions.

The English outlook that year was also pretty bleak. The war had dragged on for four years. Rationing and lack of man-power at home had taken its physical and mental toll. Our adopted family hadn't even planned to have a Christmas tree.

Brownie and I had been saving our candy ration stamps to buy Lifesavers (the girls favorite) as part of gifts we planned for our dates and their family.

Then on the day before Christmas we decided we'd take them a tree and use the Lifesavers strung on string as decorations. We had found a bale of German "anti-radar" aluminum strips that had been dropped during a raid and still intact. They were a close substitute for tinsel. More decorations.

We'd have to have some music, so off we went to Special Services where we borrowed a record player and a half dozen records. We next visited our mess sergeant, told him of our plans, and he came up with cans of roast beef, a tin of butter, jams, sugar, flour, tea - a small crateful.

We had only bicycles for transportation and that five miles was going to be a long ride.

We went about arranging for an overnight pass for we had been invited to visit the Newtons on Christmas Eve and spend Christmas Day with them.

Sgt. Brown was the projectionist at the base theater and could not get off until 11 p.m. Christmas Eve. My job was to load the bikes and be ready. A record player, a crate of food, a box of "tinsel," gifts, candy and records were all dutifully strapped to the two bikes. They looked like an accident searching for a place to happen!

Fog layered the road as we started out. Our small blackout flashlights did little to cut the damp and drippy darkness. A short way down the road stood some pine trees. We had blazed one the day before so that we could pick it out at night. Luckily we found it. We only wanted the top, and since I am short it was my assignment to climb the tree.

Up and up I went into the inky blackness. Stealthily now, for this was Her Majesty's forest and we had no rights at all being in there. Using a broken hacksaw blade, somehow I got the job done and down came the top of the pine.

Now came the real tricky part. Our bikes had been unwieldy and nearly unmanageable before. Now we had to tote a five-foot Christmas tree. We managed, somehow, to ride through the fog, the drizzle and the dark to our destination.

We knocked on the door, shouting Merry Christmas. As we began to un­load the bikes the looks on our friend's faces ran from amazement to glee. And when we brought in the tree, it was joyful bedlam!

In half an hour we had set up and decorated the tree, distributed the gifts and were dancing to Glenn Miller records. A bottle of wine came from somewhere and we toasted the arrival of Christmas, 1943 with happy hearts.

The following spring the English girl and I were married.


Sgt. James R. Underwood wed Miss Freda Newton on April 8, 1944. The Underwoods had a daughter before the 359th Fighter Group sailed for the U.S. at war’s end. 

"My Most Memorable Christmas" by Sgt. James Underwood, a 1943 story from the 359th Fighter Group's archives, was selected for inclusion in the ebook Heart of Christmas published by Sparkle Press.  The story was archived by Char Baldridge, Historian, 359th Fighter Group Association, and submitted to Sparkle Press by Janet Fogg and Char Baldridge.  Janet and Char manage the 359th Fighter Group's Facebook page, posting archived stories and photos every day. We hope you'll stop by!