Wednesday, December 31, 2014

30 Ways to Unstick Yourself and Eke Out a Few More Words

By DeAnna Knippling

If you’re dreaming of becoming a professional writer, you’ll need to learn how to push through, jump over, or sneak around the various barriers that are presented to getting the words on the page. Sometimes you have the luxury of having time to just let a story rest, but more often you don’t.

Other people can talk about the virtues of pantsing vs. plotting and how to prepare for writing your story, but for my purposes I’ll just assume you’ve already started something that you simply must finish on time.

1. Interrupt the scene.

Some people say to have a man with a gun burst into the room. I say pick something appropriate to your genre: an aunt with a telegram, a child with a dead puppy.

2. Delete the last paragraph.

Or page, or whatever. Copy and paste it into a separate file if you like. Something I do regularly is have my characters keep on going past a good cliffhanger because they simply must explain something irrelevant to someone else. A case of art imitating life.

3. Reveal something that would reverse a reader’s opinion about a character.

Everyone has skeletons in their closets, no? The butler who’s a pack rat. The serial killer who’s being blackmailed. The duchess with bad teeth.

4. Cycle back through your earlier work and correct any inaccuracies.

It’s amazing how often this will get me out of a rut; it’s not that the story needs to be perfect, it’s just that taking five minutes to turn off the internal alarm that's screaming something’s not right in the beginning of the story will free up more brainpower than you realize.

5. Go back to the beginnings of scenes and add more setting.

Description = word count.

6. Go back to earlier scenes and add more attitude.

Remember, we don’t love Joss Whedon’s work because his plots are amazing. We love his work because his characters all have attitude (attitudes so strong that they are constantly causing themselves problems, too).

7. Cliffhangers, cliffhangers, cliffhangers.

An impossible situation, especially if you end of a day’s work with one, drives more words as you frantically attempt to figure out how to get your characters out of the mess they’re in. There’s only one rule for cliffhangers: no deus ex machinas. The characters must solve the cliffhangers themselves. I have one suggestion, though- limit yourself to one fake cliffhanger at most per book, where the character never really was in any danger. (For example, the sinister footsteps coming up the stairs were just Mom).

8. Brainstorm--but don’t use the first three ideas you come up with.

Do at least four. If you really want to use one of the first three, you must modify it. While it seems like going with the first idea saves time, the first idea is almost always the predictable (i.e., boring) one and will end you up right back up in Stucksville.

9. Check that systems are operational.

Check for water, food, sleep, physical health, mental health, external stress, internal stress. I'm not joking.  

10. Walk on it.

Clarify exactly what you’re stuck on, think it through, and go for a walk. Or sleep on it. Or get up and do something brainless, as long as it isn’t feeding yourself more stories. Not even gossip on social media.

11. Introduce a game changer.

Stick within your genre, but pick out a subplot in your book and make it what the book is really about. Two people fall in love...and then one of their parents dies. Space marines fight aliens...only to discover that both their governments are being controlled by a third race they both thought were slave labor.

12. Change POVs, locations, or times.

If you’re stuck in a scene, get out! It doesn’t matter if you write out of order, after all. And sometimes you just need to skip the boring parts.

13. Give the most boring character in your book a hidden agenda.

This is probably the source of “the butler did it.”

14. Write wish-fulfillment scenes, but make sure the consequences are realistic.

15. When a dangerous situation occurs, find a reason for your character to run toward the situation rather than away from it--or, worse, standing around wondering what to do.

16. Given a choice between the believable and reader fist-pumps, go for the fist-pump.

Realistically, Luke Skywalker should have been dead with Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.

17. Anytime your inner editor says “shouldn’t,” that’s exactly what you should do.

18. Find the one thing your character will not do, and find a way to make it tempting regardless.

19. Look over what you’ve written about a character and find out how they normally solve problems. Then give them a problem they must solve but cannot solve using their normal M.O.

Another good Joss Whedon trick.

20. Bribe and/or threaten yourself.

If you don’t hit your wordcount today, no Walking Dead for you.

21. Exercise.

22. Set a research timer--if you can’t Google a quick fact in less than five minutes, you didn’t really need to know during your writing session anyway.

23. Think Scooby Doo: one of the characters in this scene is not who or what they’re pretending to be. Who is it? And who figures it out?

24. Show, don’t tell.

Showing something instead of writing a quick summary = wordcount!

25. Cut yourself off from other people’s stories for a week. No books, no social media, no movies, no TV, no games.

You might drive yourself insane, but you will write like you have never written before. Plus you’ll have more time to do it.

26. Pick a patron saint of unconditional first draft approval, and throw it in your inner editor’s face when necessary.

Bruce Willis said I could have as many exclamation points as I want! Hooray!

27. Record your wordcount as often as necessary.

There are days when I’m typing in or scribbling my wordcount down on scratch paper every five words. 

28. Make it advantageous for your family and friends to support you.

If you let me finish this novel, I will buy you a pony.

29. Write a journal entry whining about how hard all of this is. Then read it. Then make one of your characters rant about something in the story using the same sentiments.

Or, if you’re stressed about something external, rant about what’s stressing you...and include that.

30. Go back to the beginning and look for hints.

Especially with endings. The climactic battle or conflict is over (remember: no deus ex machinas!), repercussions are falling out, and you just can’t think of the last few lines. Go back to the beginning and grab some image or bon mot to cycle around to at the ending.

Professional writers know that you have to have something to turn in. Preferably it’s clean and well-written, but even if it isn’t, it’s still something to put in front of the editor or the client. It’s usually better than you think it is. And even if you thought it was perfect, you’ll discover you still have to do some rewrites.

About the Author: 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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nuances in Writing - Using Nuances and Layering to Keep Your Reader Engaged

By Linda Rohrbough

I was writing a scene in my new novel the other day, but it felt flat. I later realized I forgot the nuances. What do I mean by nuances? I mean there needs to be more going on in the scene than what appears on the surface. 

I saw that done recently in an episode of the television show Chuck. Chuck, a computer geek turned CIA spy, is robbing a bank on an espionage mission with his fiancee, Sarah. They are dressed in black with black sunglasses, lots of guns, and they look very cool. While they are posing as bad dudes taking control of the bank, so an associate can be covered on another activity, they are discussing their upcoming wedding. So in between threats and gunfire, Sarah is describing to Chuck how the painful process of finding the perfect dress made the wedding planning finally exciting for her. And Chuck is warmly encouraging her in between shouting threats like "You move and I'll blow your head off," to control the people on his side of the room. 

It's not only a funny scene, but a great example of nuanced writing. The viewer could become bored because a sexy blonde in black leather with long guns hoisted at her hip is rather cliched. The threats are, too. Actually, a scene where the two of them sit down and discuss Sarah's change of heart would be dull as well, and borders on melodrama. 

Combining the two scenes holds the reader and it's nuanced. The scene is interesting because they are having a moment while they are clearly engaged in other, quite dangerous, activities. And the viewer, having been on the ride up until this point, understands the layers of meaning and the significance of their discussion.

If you are struggling with this concept, I recommend you watch Chuck. The writers of this spy comedy are brilliant at nuancing and layering. It's one of the things I enjoy most about the show. 

So back to my scene. I realized I had just written a scene with no layers and no nuances. What was happening was all that was happening, if you know what I mean. I needed more going on. I'd had plans for things to be revealed to my main character, so I added circumstances that produced those revelations. And I had her react and make decisions about how much to reveal to the people she is meeting with. So now the scene is more than just a meeting to discuss strategy.  It's got layers of meaning and activity. This is one of the things about writing that makes it fun and rewarding for me. 

I encourage you to think about your own work in progress and see if you can add nuances and layers. Readers love them and they'll definitely improve your work.

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 has garnered 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:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"How some of the writers I come across get through their books without dying of boredom is beyond me."
William Gaddis
(December 29, 1922 - December 16, 1998)
The Recognition
A Frolic of His Own (National Book Award for Fiction)

This week on Writing from the Peak:

*Nuances in Writing             Linda Rohrbough

*30 Ways to Unstick Yourself and Eke Out a Few More Words                  DeAnna Knippling

*January News & Events      Debi Archibald  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sweet Success! TR Fischer

By Kathie Scrimgeour

TR Fischer’s romantic suspense novel, Prey for Me (ISBN: 978-1500913274, 276 pages) was self-published in paperback and e-book in August 2014. Read the first chapter and purchase the book through Ms. Fischer’s website,

Lacy Carter is not who she pretends to be. After six months of hiding from her stalker, a chance meeting with firefighter Trey Long sparks hope for a normal life—until she finds a pink rose in her locked car.

Trey can’t forget the beautiful woman who captured his attention and then disappeared. When Lacy becomes a suspect in several arsons, Trey dives headlong into a blazing conflict of interest that risks both his job and his heart.

Both Lacy and Trey must decide who they can trust, and if they’re willing to get burned in the process.

TR Fischer grew up in and around Boulder, Colorado. After moving to California and sampling life in San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles, she and her husband moved back to the Denver area. That didn’t satisfy, so the city-dwellers took up raising buffalo in the Colorado Rockies, along with their four rowdy children. Each day is an adventure, on and off the page. You can find her at

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

When You Hate Your Novel

By Debbie Maxwell Allen

Image courtesy of

When you've discovered a brand-new, shiny idea for a novel, you never think it will come to this: the point where you're ready to pitch the thing out the window. Or press the delete button.

New love is a powerful thing. We fall in love with our characters, our story world, our plot. Life is full of rainbows and fairy dust. But a few months (or years) later, we become convinced it's stale, trite, overdone. 

And after a grueling month of NaNoWriMo, you're exhausted on top of that.

The best medicine for this kind of despondency is to realize it will probably happen to you. Expect it. Prepare for it. And get past it. By making yourself keep writing, no matter how bad it sounds even as you type.

The other cure is to realize it happens to others. Not just other writers, but other published writers. Bestselling writers. If they go through it, then it must be part of the journey, right? And multi-published author and former agent, Nathan Bransford says that means you're almost done. His brief post on revision fatigue could be the shot in the arm you need to keep going.

Another tactic is to jump into revisions. Plot expert Martha Alderson conducts PlotWrimo every December, helping writers to revision their manuscripts. Check out her videos on the topic.

I've felt this way multiple times, but the most recent was after the summer, when I hadn't been writing as much. Without my head in the story, it was easy to listen to the negative comments in my head, and consider just starting something new.

But I did two things. I focused on mapping out the plot to see where I might be missing things, and I began reading scenes. I began to remember what it was I loved about this story, and get excited about fine-tuning the novel. And it made me want to fight to finish. 

When did you hate your novel? Or question your ability as a writer? And what pulled you out of the muck?

About the Author: Debbie Maxwell Allen works as a project manager for Good Catch Publishing and writes young adult historical fantasy in the Rocky Mountains. In her spare time she teaches writers about the wonders of Scrivener software. Her fiction has been a finalist in the Pikes Peak Writers Zebulon Contest four times. She blogs about free resources for writers at Writing While the Rice Boils.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Three-Pronged Approach to Finding Agents

By Karen Albright Lin

A savvy agent can spot timely and quality writing. Editors count on them to bring them great work.

They say it’s harder to get an agent than an editor. I’m not sure who “they” are, but I’ve found that is not true. I’ve signed with several agents, some of them for one-book contracts, others for overall career management—book-length nonfiction, novels, and screenplays.

I teamed up with them in three different ways.


Beyond scheduled pitch sessions, there are many ways you can link your name to your face so your story idea will get more than cursory attention. For many years I’ve attended, volunteered at, and taught at conferences where schmoozing in the bars, at meals and during hotel room parties facilitate personal connections. Occasionally a deal is made at a conference. One agent offered to represent me after I told her about my nonfiction book over dinner. She had a personal connection to the topic, something I wouldn’t have known without chatting with her about where she came from. During a workshop, a Hollywood producer heard my pitch for a novel in progress and later asked me to turn it into a screenplay so he could market it for me. One of my editing clients signed with an agent during a conference weekend solely on the strength of her high concept pitch.


If you can afford the fee, entering a good quality contest is well worth your investment. I entered ones that offered feedback and had acquiring-agent judges. The feedback was invaluable when coupled with my critique group and beta reader input. Winning or placing added to my bio and put me on the stage. This exposure to industry insiders made all the difference on my path. An attending agent, who I didn’t even know was in the audience during an awards ceremony, contacted me with an offer of representation because of my moments of glory. She auctioned one of my novels. Though, in the end, it didn’t sell, I had someone in my court working on my behalf for a couple of years. All because I invested in entering that contest. Likewise, on the strength of screenplay contest feedback and honors, I’ve gotten work-for-hire screenwriting assignments, a director/producer interested in using one of my scripts for a webisode, as well as an offer of representation from a Hollywood agent and a paying screenwriting blog column, with all of this leading to work as a script doctor.

Query Letters:

Learn to write a quality query letter that sells you and your work. An agent can’t resist a marketable idea when proposed in a competent letter. You are introducing yourself, your connection to that agent, what you are writing, and why it will put the agent’s child through college. Rarely will you find an agent who puts money second to the quality of work. Much to the chagrin of brilliant literary writers who fail to gain traction, it’s a business, not a mission. This ad for your product needs to grab that agent and hold on so tightly that he will stare at the ceiling at night contemplating which imprints will want that book, imagining your blog tours, and counting your million plus Twitter followers hopping over fences to get to your signings.

The query letter can be a follow-up to meeting an interested agent at a conference. It can be a cold query to a recommended agent, one you are being referred to, or one who is listed in books such as the current Guide to Literary Agents or Writer’s Market. There are numerous online sources for finding and evaluating the fit of these agents. I have three favorites.

Query Tracker is the of the literary world.

Absolute Write is like a gossip site where you can find recommendations and cautions.

The Predators and Editors site is like the Consumer Protection Agency, Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports all rolled into one.

I hope this three-pronged approach helps you find an agent, too.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull."

Rod Serling
December 25, 1924 -  June 28, 1975

Stories from the Twilight Zone
Night Gallery
Planet of the Apes (co-author, screenplay)

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Three-Pronged Approach to Finding Agents   Karen Albright Lin

* When You Hate Your Novel                                 Debbie Maxwell Allen

* Sweet Success! TR Fischer                                    Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sweet Success! Matt Bille

By Kathie Scrimgeour

Matt Bille’s adult horror/dark fantasy, The Doleman (ASIN: B00NQIVFQQ, 237 pages), was released in paperback and e-book on October 15, 2014, by Wolfsinger Publications. The book is available at Amazon, Smashwords, and other online retailers. Visit for more information.

The Dolmen is a mix of old-fashioned horror and police procedural that begins with the illegal importation of an entire megalithic tomb from Britain for a private Los Angeles museum. When attorney Julie Sperling's journalist fiancée is killed after researching the subject, she calls on ex-lover and science/paranormal writer Greg Preston for help. Greg thinks of legendary creatures called korrigans that established nests in dolmens. Surely such things cannot be based on reality, on science? Yet they are... and for Greg and Julie, the City of Angels will become the gate to Hell....

Matt Bille is an author in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a naturalist, historian, science writer, and defense consultant. He is the lead author of the NASA-published history The First Space Race: Launching the World’s First Satellites (2004). He wrote two books on mystery animals, Rumors of Existence (1995) and Shadows of Existence (2006), and is working on his third, Seas, Sharks, and Serpents. He has been a freelance contributor to reference books including Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. He is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and a longtime member of the PPW. He has appeared on the History and Discovery channels and blogs on the latest science and technology news at

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Do You Give Books? – A Reader University Post

By Stacy S. Jensen

This is the twelfth post in a series of 12 ways to help authors (and your writing) by reading.

This can be another form of “buying,” but I see it as a little different.
Consider giving a book:
  • to all ages.
  • for all occasions.
  • as love notes.
As a parent to a toddler, I get invited to birthday parties. If I know about them in advance, I’ll buy books at writer’s conferences and get them signed by the author as a personal gift for the birthday boy or girl. I’ve noticed these gifts aren’t a favorite. They don’t make noise or have parts to be lost. One can hope they bring joy at a quieter time after the birthday cake and decorations are long gone. My son isn’t old enough to mind at the moment. So, until he protests — books will be our gift of choice.
Books make a nice hostess gift, too. They can drink up the words later while relaxing.
Books make nice holiday gifts whether they have a religious theme or not. My son received a nice Easter Story book last year in a basket from his grandmother.
Books as love notes? You may have provided a book love note without realizing it. You give a book that touched you in some way. I enjoy sharing The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. While sad, to me, it’s a book about living, and worth giving to others.
Giving books obviously helps authors with sales, but the act also helps writers, who share a love for a book that touched her, moved her, or made her laugh out loud.
How do you give books?
Thanks for following along with the Reader University 12-part series. This wasn’t intended as a reading challenge, but the series kept me focused on reading and helping authors.
(This post originally appeared on Stacy S. Jensen's blog on March 24, 2014.)

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.

Monday, December 15, 2014

I Am Not Tyler Durden - The Secrets of Aaron Michael Ritchey

By Aaron Michael Ritchey

I am not Tyler Durden. If anything, I’m far more Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces, not the revolutionary from Fight Club. Nor am I very Chuck Palahniuk, but again, John Kennedy Toole could be my brother.

So long story short, was giving away books for cheap, cheap, cheap, and so I bought a couple of books, and yes, one book I bought was a story about a guy on the edge, starting up fight clubs to combat his middle-class ennui. The other? About an obese hypocrite who causes chaos and discord wherever he goes due to his pathetic social skills and bombastic tendencies. And yet, Ignatius J. Reilly does have his theology and geometry, taste and decency.

I’ve been pining because reading has become a chore for me, and I used to love to read. But thank God, these two books have sparked my imagination.
I loved A Confederacy of Dunces and Fight Club, but reading them made me bristle at my own choices in my writing career because if you want to know a secret about me, a secret the world must never know, read to the end. I reveal all.

Unlike Tyler Durden, I am not a fighter. In my heart of hearts, I am like Ignatius J. Reilly and his creator, John Kennedy Toole. Toole wrote this book, shopped it around, was summarily rejected, and then killed himself. It was through the efforts of his mother and Walker Percy that the book was published and went on to win the Pulitzer.
I started writing half-way seriously when I was 24 years old, March of 1994, and those opening pages would become my first finished novel, The Dream of the Archer. Part play, part postmodern treatise, totally cross-genre. Oh, it had everything I loved about books: battle scenes, word play, demons, princesses, self-aware characters, meta-literature, all of that. I worked on that one book for five years. No one could read it. Tyler Durden would have killed people to get readers. I ran away. I went to the movies. I ate Paradise hot dogs and fretted. 

What if. What if I had stuck with that original book, my original passions, the soap I fashioned from the fat of my minutes and the flesh of my life? It’s impossible to know because the reality is. I don’t have another Aaron in a control group to follow me around for the double-blind testing—no other me to play out that the “what if?”
For the narrator of Fight Club, Tyler Durden was the great “what if”?

For me, I made a decision to write more marketable books. I wanted to get an ISBN. I wanted to get published. I chose what I thought would get me the big book contract and I pursued it. I am published. I have not one but two ISBNs. With a third, fourth, fifth, sixth coming in the near future.
I am proud of the books I am publishing for they do have theology and geometry, taste and decency. Oh, but the Tyler Durden in me keeps asking….what if? What if? What if?

What if I had hit that guy at that writers conference who told me I couldn’t write cross-genre books, that I shouldn’t write literary novels? What if I had hit that guy, as hard as I could, right in the face?
I didn’t, so I don’t know.

The secret about me? Okay, I’ll tell you, but you can’t tell anyone else, okay? I love hardcore, serious literature. When I read, I like to read dark, deep, and literary. Ideally, we should write the books we most love to read, so I should be writing hardcore literary novels.
Shhh…don’t tell anyone. 

But do you know what? At the same time, I love swords and machine guns and magic spells and vampires. I like taking chances, grand chances, that a lot of times don’t work out.
I can’t be Tyler Durden, but I can leave my mother’s house with Ignatius, and we can go out into the world, and yes, I will be ridiculous, I will be loud, and I will fail, but if I am to fail, I won’t fail by playing it safe.

I’m going to write genre books with a literary bent. I am going to write across genres, though everyone tells me not to, and I’m going to take chances and try crazy things because there are no rules.

And I’ll be dead soon. I don’t want to leave behind half-hearted books that I wrote only for the market in some mercenary pursuit of other people’s praise and dollar bills.

No. I want to write Aaron Michael Ritchey novels. Part genre trope, part dark literary, all me.

Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of Long Live the Suicide King, a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite contest. Kirkus Reviews calls the story “a compelling tale of teenage depression handled with humor and sensitivity.” His debut novel, The Never Prayer, was also a finalist in the Colorado Gold contest. His forthcoming works include a new young adult novel from Staccato Publishing and a six book YA sci-fi/western series from Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” was nominated for a Hugo. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two goddesses posing as his daughters.  
For more about him, his books, and how to overcome artistic angst, visit He’s on Facebook as Aaron Michael Ritchey and he tweets - @aaronmritchey.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."

Jane Austen (December 16, 1775 - July 18, 1817)

Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility

This week on Writing from the Peak:

I Am Not Tyler Durden        Aaron Michael Ritchey

Do You Give Books?              Stacy S. Jensen

Sweet Success! Matt Bille    Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sweet Success! JL Fields

By Kathie Scrimgeour

JL Fields’ cookbook, Vegan Pressure Cooking; Beans, Grains, and One-Pot Meals in Minutes (ISBN 9781592336449, 176 pages), will be released January 2, 2015, by Fair Winds Press.

Say goodbye to long cooking and preparation times. With a pressure cooker, you can cook filling, nutritious meals in under an hour and with little mess or cleanup. With Vegan Pressure Cooking, you'll learn all of the ins and outs of pressure cooking - including why there's no need to be scared of trying something new! From choosing a pressure cooker to understanding the ingredients that are perfect for pressure cooking - including beans, grains, hearty vegetables, and more - author JL Fields will walk through all the ropes so you can start creating delicious, everyday meals in no time.

JL Fields is a vegan lifestyle coach & educator, Food for Life instructor, personal chef, career coach, and a corporate consultant offering wellness training, brand representation, and strategic planning services. She is the author of Vegan Pressure Cooking (Fair Winds Press, January 2015), co-author of Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet (Da Capo Lifelong Books, July 2013), contributor to Running, Eating, Thinking: A Vegan Anthology (Lantern Books, May 2014), writes the monthly vegan dining review for the Colorado Springs Gazette and is a food, health and wellness freelance writer.

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Favorite Things

By Jax Hunter

Hello, Campers.

As the holidays approach, I though I’d peruse my Wish Lists, my goals, and some of my favorite things. 

3 things I want for Christmas:
  • 1000 Readers for the Revive1775 Blog 
  • A movie deal for either of my series 
  • A blurb/recommendation from Diana Gabaldon 
3 writing goals for 2015: 

  • Start saying “no” so I have more time for the stuff that really matters. 
  • Read more fiction. I truly believe that you learn more from reading fiction than by reading books on writing. 
  • Finish two novels in ‘15 
3 of my favorite books on writing:
  • Story by Robert McGee 
  • Stein on Writing by Sol Stein 
  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James Frey 
3 freebies you might check out:
3 Cool gift ideas for writers (some to ask for, some to give):
  • Scrivener – not just for novel writing. I keep all my blog posts in Scrivener 
  • A “gift certificate” to one of Margie Lawson or Mary Buckham’s next online classes 
  • A subscription to the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus - 
3 of my favorite resource books: 
  • The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale 
  • The Enneagram Made Easy by Baron and Wagele 
  • The Complete book of Astrology by Caitlin Johnstone 
3 great writing quotes I have taped to my monitor:

“I just started in where I could sort of see something happening, and wrote. The next day I wrote some more. Then I couldn’t see any more happening there, so I wrote something else I could see. I kept this, and as I wrote tons of these little pieces, I got a sort of feel for the overall shape of the story, and could start to stick the pieces together and move them around.”
- Diana Gabaldon, whose first novel, one she wrote because she wanted to see if she could actually write a novel, became a huge best seller. 

"One can feel sad or happy or bored or cross in a thousand ways: the abstract adjective says almost nothing. The precise gesture nails down the one feeling right for the moment. This is what is meant when writing teachers say that one should 'show,' not 'tell.' And this, it should be added, is all the writing teacher means. Good writers may 'tell' about almost anything in fiction except the character's feelings. One may tell the reader that the character went to private school (one need not show a scene at the private school if the scene has no importance for the rest of the narrative), or one may tell the reader that the character hates spaghetti; but with rare exceptions the character's feelings must be demonstrated: fear, love, excitement, doubt, embarrassment, despair become real only when they take the form of events-action (or gesture), dialogue, or physical reaction to setting. Detail is the lifeblood of fiction."
- John Gardner

"Scenes are what give the reader the experience of the action of the story and the perspectives of the main characters. Without scenes, the story would be heard and not experienced-- told but not shown. They are the generators of plot change and character development. And they're what the reader remembers long after she's forgotten the names of the characters or the details of the plot-the vivid moments of story captured in action."
- Alicia Rasley

1 Parting shot:

Challenges do not build character - they only reveal it. True for writers as we encounter obstacles that block our way. And true for our characters.

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


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. and

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Gifts for Writers

By Ashley Hodges Bazer

The holiday season is interesting around my house. Not only do we celebrate the traditional Christmas, we have three birthdays from mid-December through New Year’s Day. Needless to say, shopping…or even just planning gifts…can get a little crazy and overwhelming.

I’m one for more practical gifts. I have plenty of trinkets. (I once heard someone call them dust catchers. I immediately purged my collection.) There’s really very little I want, but there are some things I need. As a writer, I would find these particularly helpful.

1. Time. Finding time to write is never easy. Somehow, I manage to pack my schedule full of other important things…like momming, work, Facebook. The gift of time is invaluable!

2. An Endless Cache of Story Ideas. Admit it. Sometimes you get stuck. Either the idea fizzles out, or your character takes the story in such a different direction than you initially planned that you have no clue where to go. I sure could use a stash of ideas.

3. The Right Word Thesaurus. Yes, we’ve all been told to avoid thesauri. I happen to enjoy reading mine because I’m geeky like that. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a guide to the exact word you’re searching for and to be able to find it with ease?

4. Automatic Refill and Warming Coffee Mugs. I prefer decaf myself. Too often, though, I’ll be picking away at my keyboard, and the last ounce of my writing fuel turns to ice. Let’s keep that mug full and piping hot!

5. The Balance of Quiet. This goes along with time. Finding a cozy, quiet spot to write is necessary. And sometimes, you need music or background noise for inspiration. Package that balance, and you have a perfect gift!

6. Brain Flash Drive. For those times when your brain gets going way faster than your fingers can type. Just plug this baby into your USB (Uploadable Swift Brain) port, and think away! Transfer the brilliance directly to a Word or Scrivener document.

7. Marketing Genie. For those who are published, this little gem is a must-have! Just rub the lamp and stand back as the Marketing Genie goes to work, mastering your social media, live events, and book sales. See you on the NYT Bestseller list!

8. Enthusiastic Beta Readers. Tired of asking your friends and family to read your work? Or are they tired of you asking? Well, have no fear! For just one low price, as well as shipping and handling, you can have your very own beta reader.

9. Chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

10. Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2015. Sure, the other presents are just wishful thinking. But this one is definitely a gift that will empower you for your writing journey. Compared to other writing conferences, the cost is minimal (only $395!), and you get so much out of it! I’ve attended the last two years and loved every moment. There’s also a payment plan option (Announcer Voice: “Only 5 easy payments of $79!”), which makes the conference very affordable.

“But wait! There’s more!”

With the conference, you’ll learn from top-notch industry professionals. Whether you’re a novice writer or you have twenty books on the shelf, there’s something for you. If you choose to do so, you can meet privately with an agent or editor to present your work (Query 1-on-1) or share a page of your writing (Read and Critique). You’ll even get to dine with these folks!

So make holiday shopping easy for your family this year. Request your registration to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2015, and get ready to Choose Your Writing Adventure!

About the Author: Ashley Hodges Bazer is the author of the sci-fi series, The Crown's Call. She’s often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the lighted dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. A love affair with books led her to work for several different bookstores. Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she's a real duchess! Learn more about Ashley and her upcoming books at