Monday, February 29, 2016

Promotion in Perspective

By: Catherine Dilts 

I sat next to a well-known cozy author at a library event. She regaled me with tales of the early days, when her New York publisher sent her on book tours, picking up the tab for travel and nice hotels. It was like meeting Snow White and hearing about the fairy tale castle and Prince Charming.

That was then. This is now. Even if you have a contract with a major New York publisher, very little will be  done for you promotionally. With a medium to small press, your publisher may submit your work to  reviewers and contests, and advertise your book on their website.  The only people who are sent on grand book tours at the publisher’s expense are the people who are making the publishers enough money to justify those promotional dollars. In other words, the people who don’t need the help.

What Works? Writers agree that it is nearly impossible to quantify promotional efforts. What works for one person, book, genre or region may not work for another.

Social Media:
What forms of social media do you already use? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, others? Then by all means continue. When people tell you that you won’t sell books unless you (fill in the blank), run!

The good thing about most social media venues is that you can use them at no cost. Wait a minute? What did I say? No cost? Using social media costs you – what? YOUR TIME!

Rule #1 – Treat your time like gold. Budget your time even more carefully than your money, because it takes time to write that next great story. Spend your promotional time on what you enjoy.

Traditional Media:
Radio shows need guests. Local television and library cable channels often have author spotlight shows. There may be a few newspapers that still publish book reviews and interviews.

Many libraries offer programs featuring authors. Try to get your name on the list of presenters. What is the promotional benefit? You gain exposure to an audience of dedicated readers. You meet librarians, who may buy your book for their shelves. You may have the opportunity to sell books.

If you decide to hire a publicist, get personal recommendations from authors you know. Decide in advance how much you can afford, and what you expect for your money. I hired a publicist for book two in my series after I realized how much time I spent arranging my own blog tour for book one. We had a very specific contract for the modest blog tour. Hiring a publicist freed up my time to write fiction.

Paid Advertising:
I hear on writer’s loops about dozens of opportunities to buy advertising. From conference brochures to Amazon ads, Bookbub, Goodreads and blogs, there are plenty of places to spend your money. I haven’t availed myself of paid advertising. The reports I hear are lukewarm. Caveat emptor – buyer beware.

Rule # 2: Spend only the promotional dollars you can afford. Don’t put all your promotional eggs in one basket. Take only the risks from which you can recover.

I love blogging. I know other authors who loathe blogging. I blog once a week on my website. I try to appear on other blogs, too. Be sensible, though. Why appear on a romance-oriented blog when your write science fiction? Writers appear on each other’s blogs frequently, which is fine for networking and giving back to the writing community, but you can only sell so many books to your fellow authors.

Blogging, like social media, costs you – what? YOUR TIME!

You absolutely need a website. If you refuse to start one yourself, see if you can join forces with other authors you know to start a multi-author website. There are many free website hosting services. You will use your website to:
  Direct people to where they can buy your work. Verify the links work.

Announce your next project. Update your website at least once a month. A reader finding a dusty, outdated website will likely think you've left the writing business.

Brand yourself and your fiction. My website has photos of donkeys, western scenery, geodes and fossils. Readers can see at a glance the type of setting they can expect in my fiction.

Promotional materials:
I have seen pens, magnets, rubber animals, packets of flower seeds, cooking spatulas, and rubber bracelets printed with the author’s info and given out to potential readers. Do these sell books? Do they sell enough books to justify the expense?

I believe bookmarks are valuable as a promotional material. Tell me about your book, and I’ll likely forget about it by the time I get somewhere I can make the purchase. Give me a bookmark or postcard with relevant information, and I might buy it later.

Whether attending a free library event or a writer’s conference that cost you dearly, consider volunteering. I enjoy a conference much more when I can do something behind the scenes, or better yet, front and center as a room monitor or panel moderator. I am able to overcome my natural shyness when I am acting on behalf of the event, and people remember me.
Only offer the time you can afford. Avoid letting volunteerism take over your writing time. 

What is your most valuable resource? YOUR TIME!


Whatever your approach to promotion, keep your perspective. Remember:

Rule #1 – Treat your time like gold.

Rule # 2: Spend only the promotional dollars you can afford.

My final, and most important rule is:

Rule # 3: Write the best book you possibly can.

How do you keep promotion in perspective? Remember why you’re in this game. You’re a writer, not a carnival barker. Keep promotion in its place, and keep your writing first.

About the Author: To Catherine Dilts, rock shops are like geodes – both contain amazing treasures hidden inside their plain-as-dirt exteriors. Publishers Weekly calls her novel Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery, an “enjoyable debut,” and that “readers will look forward to seeing more of this endearing and strong protagonist.” Catherine works as an environmental tech, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. Her short fiction is published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Visit her at and on Goodreads.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Quote of the week and the week to come

“I do have trouble starting books. I have ideas that I have trouble starting to write. But I'm the kind of person who tends to finish everything she starts out of sheer stubbornness.” ~  Cynthia Voigt

Source: Wikipedia

Cynthia Voigt, born Feb 25, 1942, is an American writer of books for young adults dealing with various topics such as adventure, mystery, racism and child abuse. She has won numerous awards for her writing.

This week on Writing from the Peak:

Monday, Feb 29     Promotion in Perspective by Catherine Dilts 

Wednesday, March 2     The Writing Coach, Deb McLeod

Friday, March 5     Pikes Peak Writers Upcoming Events for March

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sweet Success celebrates Tena Stetler

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Tena Stetler’s debut paranormal romance novel, A Demon's Witch (ISBN-13: 978-1509203086, 325 pages), was released in paperback and e-book on September 25, 2015, by The Wild Rose Press. It is available on Amazon. Tena’s Sweet Success continues into 2016. She just signed a contract  with The Wild Rose Press for a new paranormal Romance novel, A Witch's Journey, (350 pages, e-book and paperback).

A Demon’s Witch - Keeping a lid on all the paranormal beings inhabiting Washington D.C., is a daunting job. Bruce, the Demon Territory Overlord of the Western Hemisphere, keeps his finger on the pulse of DC’s power players through the activities at his highly successful Wycked Hair Salon
Bruce’s world spins out of control when Angelique, a pint size, gorgeous witch, with an attitude breezes through the doors of his salon. She is the younger sister of Tristian, Bruce’s long time trusted enforcer, whose professional skills are second to none. Attraction between demon and witch promises to tear apart both their worlds.
A Witch's Journey is about the magic, love and dedication of a Witch - Wildlife rehabilitator who meets A former Navy Seal turned handy man. Their journey begins with building a wildlife rescue and rehab center then falling in love despite the dark secrets neither are willing to share, until....

Tena Stetler is a paranormal romance author with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance at the age of twelve, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. Colorado is her home; shared with her husband, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle.  Any winter evening, you can find her curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn. 

-E-mail  -    
-Website - http:/ In January 2016, Tena will be posting a short story on her website in segments entitled A Witch's Protocol, you're not going to want to miss it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Heart those Books: The Joy of Re-re-reading

By: Darby Karchut

In December 2015, I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal by Christopher B. Nelson about the joys of re-reading favorite books. It was entitled Hello, Old Friend, Time to Read You Again. Here’s my favorite selection from it:

"…So too, the most familiar books reveal more about themselves when we attend to them anew. And our growing experience allows us to approach our favorites from different angles. In a sense, rereading the same book produces new insights because the reader is a different person. Indeed, a good book is very much like a mirror: The glass is the same year after year, but the reflection in it changes over time.

Don’t pay any attention if your conscience tries to make you feel guilty for taking the time to reread a favorite book this winter. It is more fruitful and satisfying to read one good book well than a thousand poorly. And the best books cannot be read well without rereading."

What a relief to know my indulgent habit is shared by other, and better yet, it is actually good for me. Kind of like red wine and dark chocolate. I no longer had to carry around the guilt that I should be plowing through new books, and not waste my time reading stuff I’ve already read. I no longer had to bleat a feeble excuse when friends lambasted me about reading anew an old favorite.

“C’mon, Darby. Sheesh, you’ve read that book already. Why would you want to read it again? You know the plot. You know the ending. You know the characters. There is nothing new to be learned.”

And new is always better than old. Right? Amirite?


Other art forms are enjoyed multiple times—paintings and music and dance. We listen to songs more than once. We gaze at paintings and sculpture more than once. Heck, we watch movies more than once.

(What gal saw The Return of the King nine times in a row at the theater and has two thumbs? Yup.)

So, why not books? Why can’t they get do-overs?

I know folks have written before about the value of re-reading, but this article was a great reminder. Sure, most of the books I read are in the one-and-done camp. But, there’s a select few I re-visit time and time again, usually for one of two reasons:

One: It is an author who inspires my own writing. And when I’m stuck on my own writing, I re-read how they solved the problem. I call this Karchut University. It’s how I learned to write. It’s how I’m still learning how to write.  

Two: I call those re-reads my comfort books. Like a literary version of comfort food. Meatloaf novels, you might say. The books that make me feel all kinds of happy or heroic. Without even peeking at my shelves, I can list them right off the bat:

The Lord of the Rings (once a year since I was eleven.) They are why I write mostly fantasy.
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. These books are why I write mostly middle grade.
The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.
The Mitford series by Jan Karon.  
The Longmire Mysteries by Craig Johnson.
The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The Harry Potter series by What’s-Her-Name. (Just kidding).

In closing, I must quote from Peter S. Beagle’s preface to The Tolkien Reader, one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s more obscure works. In the preface entitled “Tolkien’s Magic Ring,” Beagle expresses what many of us feel about re-reading their favorite book:

“I have read the complete work five or six times (not counting browsing, for which this essay is, in part, an excuse), and each time, my pleasure in the texture of it deepens. It will bear the mind’s handling, and it is a book that acquires an individual patina in each mind that takes it up, like a much-caressed pocket stone or piece of wood. At times, always knowing that I didn’t write it, I feel that I did.”

Yes. That. Right there.

Okay, time for confession: I’m curious to hear what books you re-read, and how many times. Don’t be shy. ‘Fess up. An empty comment box is a sad and pitiful thing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Right Critique Group

By: Natalia Brothers

At his workshop in Midlothian, Virginia, Donald Maass mentioned the PPWC as one of the top ten conferences in the nation. I jotted down “Pikes Peak Writers Conference” and immediately decided to relocate to the foothills of the great mountain. (Kidding. My husband and I saw The Broadmoor Hotel on the Travel channel and were smitten with the mountain views.) I joined Pikes Peak Writers as soon as we moved to Colorado. My genre is Dark Fantasy, but as a newbie I thought I was writing Paranormal Romance. So I also became a member of a local chapter of Romance Writers of America.

The group offered an open critique, and I remember my panic at our first meeting, when I listened to other participants and thought, I don’t have a slightest clue how to evaluate someone else’s writing. “I probably shouldn’t be here,” I said.

“Yes, you should be here,” the hostess said. “That’s how you’re going to learn.”

She was right. Ten minutes later, I made my first suggestion.

How do you decide which group is right for you?

Every person sees your work and critiques it differently. For example, I will comment on the pace of your story, the conflict and stakes in every scene. I’ll tell you whether your main character solicited my empathy. Someone else might evaluate the dialogue, your tags and beats, or make suggestions about your characters’ emotions. Another critic’s forte might be grammar and typos.

After years of being a member of various groups, I knew exactly what I was looking for in my critique partners. Some of the groups were too large. In others, not every participant brought his or her work for critiquing, in which case a person who didn’t write could offer only a general opinion. I needed deeper insight. That’s why I teamed up with several local authors who write regularly with the goal to get published. We occasionally meet in person, but all critiquing is done online to ensure an in-depth evaluation of our manuscripts.

The main difference between a critique group and an open critique is that the members of your group know your project and know you. My critique partner has seen every chapter of my manuscript countless times. After I finished my first novel, I wanted to hear feedback from people who had never read my work. Pikes Peak Writers offers terrific Open Critiques, and I’ve attended several of them. The benefit is enormous. I received great advice on two of my projects. I also honed my critiquing skills by listening to experienced guest critiquers.

There’s another way to get an objective evaluation of your work. For me, the ultimate critique has always been a writing contest. It’s nerve-racking when a stranger reviews your manuscript, but that person is impartial. How can you tell whether you should trust the judges’ suggestions? Sure, I’ve huffed through my share of comments. Someone wrote to me, “If it was so chilly that the characters could see their breaths, there would be no mosquitoes!” 

Oh yeah? You don’t know Russian mosquitoes. On a bright late-September morning, I opened the door to the unheated banya, a Russian sauna, hoping the structure would warm up faster with some air circulation. The frost still whitened the grass and fallen foliage, but the first sun rays broke over the birch grove. There was a mosquito just inside the changing room. It sensed my presence. The determined insect tried to find me but kept bumping into the walls. Flying nevertheless. In freezing temperatures. But that was one comment from one contest judge. It didn’t deter me from entering more contests.

I’m a firm believer in soliciting as much feedback as possible. The more people who get to see your work, the broader range of suggestions you’ll receive. Some comments might point out the same issues (definitely a reason for revisions), but the advantage is in getting an unexpected opinion and often surprising advice. I found a critique group that was about helping me and not changing my vision of the story, my idea how the plot should unfold, the pace, the voice. My critique partners helped me every step of the way.

Then, boom—I knew the manuscript was ready.

About the author:  Born in Moscow, Natalia grew up with the romance and magic of Russian fairy tales. She never imagined that one day she’d be swept off her feet by an American Marine. An engineer-physicist-chemist, Natalia realized that the powder metallurgy might not be her true calling when on a moonless summer night she was spooked by cries of a loon in a fog-wrapped meadow. What if, a writer’s unrelenting muse, took hold of her. Two of her passions define her being. Natalia is an orchid expert and she writes dark fantasy.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

This week and the week to come

Happy birthday to Erma Bombeck!

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.  ~ Erma Bombeck

Source: Wikipedia 

Erma Louise Bombeck, (Feb. 21, 1927-April 22, 1996) was an American humorist who achieved great popularity for her newspaper column that described suburban home life from the mid-1960s until the late 1990s. Bombeck also published 15 books, most of which became bestsellers. 

This week on Writing from the Peak:

February 22, 2016   The Right Critique Group by Ataska Brothers

February 24, 2016   Heart those Books by Darby Karchut

February 26, 2016   Sweet Success celebrates Tena Stetler

Friday, February 19, 2016

Darby Karchut’s (writing as Darby Kaye) urban fantasy for big kids: Unholy Blue (ISBN 987-1633920518, trade paperback, ebook, 292 pages) releases January 19th, 2016 from Spencer Hill Press/Spence City. The sequel to the best-selling The Stag Lord, the book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most independent bookstores.

It's going to take more than a bit o' luck for Shay Doyle—Healer to a clan of  Celtic warriors living in modern-day Colorado—to keep one stubborn Irish warrior, and his son, alive. For Fate seems to have it in for Bannerman Boru, descendant of the kings of Ireland, and recipient of an ancient grudge from the mad god, Cernunnos.
Shay and Bann, along with the Doyle clan, must suss out how to kill a shapeshifter that refuses to stay dead, prevent clan warfare, and make a choice that could change their lives.

If they don’t lose them first.

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. She's been known to run in blizzards and bike in lightning storms. A former middle school teacher, she now divides her time between dodging death by Colorado and writing urban fantasy for tweens, teens, and adults. Her middle grade novel, Finn Finnegan, won an IPPY award for juvenile fiction in 2014, and her YA series, Griffin Rising, was recently optioned for film. Visit Darby at

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ways to Shade Characters

By: Karen Albright Lin

Your princess bride, bratty urchin, and curmudgeonly gumshoe need qualities that distinguish them from all others. Defining them with a telling word or two can give readers a taste, but there are hundreds of vivid ways to shade characters to bring them alive. One way is to let their external worlds symbolize their internal worlds.

One technique is to link a character’s vocation to a consuming passion: palm reading, coin collecting, or sculpting. If your main character goes to conventions to buy and exchange lariats, he has a place to run into conflict related to your plot. At the end of the book, your character and reader may never look at a noose the same again. That's part of the magic of writing: you never stop learning. Even more rewarding: you teach your readers something. Molière believed the purpose of theater was to entertain and to educate. That can be applied to fictional personalities’ endeavors. How education is earned and applied is a result of your characters’ qualities.

A hobby can be a demonstration of a character’s natural traits. Consider two of your heroine’s most outstanding traits (one good, one bad). Then lace both together in the form of an interest or obsession or quirk (Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan’s seeming lack of emotion) or a distraction (Janet Evanovich’s hamster, Rex). Weave an avocation carefully into a subplot. It’s best to have it play a real role in the plot, not simply exist in the book.

Those good and bad traits can play even bigger roles; perhaps your man tries to hide the negative trait but unsuccessfully (Marty McFly’s lack of courage). Maybe a good trait gets your character into the most trouble. Or the bad trait solves the problem (Monk’s OCD).  

Distinctive traits can be conveyed through dialogue. Characters could speak past each other; that allows the reader to hear something important yet know that a character missed the vital point communicated by the other. Your protagonist could notice but interpret statements wrongly or want to attribute them to something else. And there's the overheard conversation or an antagonist grumbling under his breath about something that shouldn't set him off. If you hit a snag, think of the sleaziest person you know and make that come out in little snippets here and there.  

Different character traits allow you to capture degrees of discomfort and to insert varying ways of handling “mixed signals” from other characters. A suspect is being nice, but his vibes feel a bit “off.” Your main character’s judgment may be impaired or heightened by a past trauma. Perhaps a very nice man in her life turned abusive.  What does she do with lingering anger, loss, despair, and fear about what the future holds.
Brainstorm traits for your characters. Incorporating hobbies, miscommunications, shadows from the past, and blind spots are just a few of the tricks that lend nuance and make your characters richer. 

About the Author: Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at

Monday, February 15, 2016

Leggo My Legacy! Apple Jacks, George Lucas, and Death

By: Aaron Michael Ritchey

The other day, my family and I all clustered around the YouTubes and we watched commercials from the 1970s. We watched clips selling Apple Jacks, Hidden Valley Dressing, Cap’n Crunch, and Chevrolets.

It was the past come alive! And it got me thinking….

How many actors, writers, directors worked on those commercials? And for how many, was that the pinnacle of their career in showbiz? How many can say, “You know that kid in the Apple Jacks commercial? Well, that was me.”

They would say it wistfully, with a little bit of irony about it. Because years before and years after, while they worked and sweated and auditioned, that was the height of their career. That was it. Out, out brief candle.

For a good number of authors, well, it works the same way. Whatever glory, sales, or whatever else we get, it all will pass. Like tears in rain.

I’m wondering if the pinnacle of my writing career will be the G.I. Joe story I wrote with Peter J. Wacks, Post-Traumatic Stress Commander. It did really well and got some attention, and dang, that might be it.

I think George Lucas probably thought American Graffiti was going to be his big hit. There was a good chance he might’ve wound up saying, “Yeah, you know, I directed and co-wrote American Graffiti. Oh, never heard of it? It was a movie about the 1950s but came out in the 1970s. That was a long time ago. I now direct Apple Jacks commercials.”

It’s an iffy business and generally, our only reward will be failure and obscurity. Aaron Michael Ritchey? Didn’t he write something about a post-apocalyptic cattle drive? Cowgirls with machine guns? What?

Yeah, that’s the next project hitting stores in March of 2016. Dandelion Iron Part I, which is the first book in The Juniper Wars series. This is my shot at glory. I have all the dreams of seeing the movie posters and all that, but the odds couldn’t be more stacked against me. I’ll sell a few and then move on to the next project because the writing game has pierced me to my soul. I couldn’t quit even if I wanted to, and some days, I want to.  

George Lucas was told, over and over, that his own "big-idea" movie after American Graffitti was going to flop. Brian de Palma called it one of the worst movies he’d ever seen. Lucas and his buddy Steven Spielberg left town during the premier because George couldn’t handle witnessing what he thought was going to be a bloodbath.

And yet, what a legacy George Lucas has given us. Star Wars (the movie after American Graffitti) has become a part of our cultural history, one of the movie events of a lifetime. It changed everything.

I’ve heard rumors that episode seven of the epic series is out. Something about the force awakening or something. Must have only played at the art houses.

Even though he is no longer at the helm, the legacy Lucas has left us endures, and yet, he has been given so much crap for years and years and decades and decades from critics and fans alike. There is a dark side to that much fame and success, and yeah, pun intended.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with me. Some days I feel like a fraud and failure, unagented, and destined for obscurity. Maybe that’s okay. I don’t think I would handle fame and money too well.

When the days are hard and I’m feeling like a fool, I have to keep it very simple. Did I write today? Did I do a little marketing? What can I do today to keep the dream alive?

That’s what sucks about writing novels. It takes a long time and every day is a day where I question what I’m doing.

As for my legacy?

That is none of my business. My business is writing books and publishing books by any means necessary. My business is today, doing what needs to be done.

And if all I’m ever remembered for is an Apple Jacks commercial? So be it. I did my part. Sometimes, wild success is just not in the cards.

But one interesting side-note. My wife read an article on the BBC website about all the people who had bit parts in various Star Wars movies, and though they didn’t get huge, they have careers, going to various conventions, and meeting people and talking with people and selling their pictures. Most people who read this blog will know who David Prowse and Peter Mayhew are. I grew up reciting their names in awe.

I don’t know what my legacy will be. But I do know, people cannot read books I don’t write. If I don’t write the books while I’m alive, those words will be forever silenced.

And I believe God is our voices in the silence. Let’s be loud, people. Let’s be real loud.

Because it will all be quiet soon enough.

About the Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of The Never Prayer, Long Live the Suicide King, and Elizabeth’s Midnight. In shorter fiction, his G.I. Joe inspired novella was an Amazon bestseller in Kindle Worlds and his steampunk story, “The Dirges of Percival Lewand” was part of The Best of Penny Dread Tales anthology published through Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. His upcoming young adult sci-fi/western epic series will also be published through WordFire Press. In 2015, his second novel won the “Building the Dream” award for best YA novel, and he spent the summer as the Arist in Residence for the Anythink Library. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two ancient goddesses of chaos 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, February 14, 2016

Quote of the week and the week to come

“A good writer is always a people watcher.” ~ Judy Blume

                                                 Source Bing

Judy Blume, born February 12, 1938, is an American writer. Her novels for children and young adults have exceeded sales of 80 million and have been translated into 32 languages. 

This week on Writing from the Peak:

February 15      Leggo my Legacy by Aaron Michael Ritchey

February 17      Ways to Shade Characters by Karen Albright Lin

February 19      Sweet Success celebrates Darby Kaye and Unholy Blue

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sweet Success celebrates Margaret Mizushima

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Sweet Success is pleased to update our readers on Margaret Mizushima’s debut mystery novel, Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery. In March we shared the early publication news and today I’m happy to post that on December 8, 2016 Margaret’s book was released by Crooked Lane Books (ISBN: 978-1-62953-381-0, 311 pages, hardcover, paperback, and ebook). Her book is available at:,,,

When a young girl is found dead in the mountains outside Timber Creek, life-long resident Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small Colorado town. With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before it claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole’s daughter, who knows more than she’s saying.

Margaret Mizushima is the debut author of Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery, which was named Debut Mystery of the Month for December, 2015, by Library Journal and has been nominated for an RT Reviewer’s Choice award for Best First Mystery. She lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle. She can be found on Facebook, on Twitter @margmizu, and at

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ask the Prez!

I'm running short on Ask the Prez questions, so I'd love to have more! This is your chance to ask the president of Pikes Peak Writers any question about our organization, our conference, The Zebulon writing contest, or anything else related to writing. I enjoy answering these questions, so let's have them. If you have a question for me, please email with the subject line of "Ask the Prez". Make sure to let me know if it's okay to use your name in the response, or else you will remain anonymous.

The next question comes from an anonymous questioner:

·                I really enjoy the Write Brains and would like to propose a panel. How do I do that?

J.T.'s Answer:
Since I'm not clear on if you want to be part of a panel or if you want to see a particular panel, I'm going to give you two answers. Pick the one that fits your question best, and I hope they're both informative.

Being Part of a Panel:
If you want to be on a panel of presenters (or present a session by yourself), we have all of the details outlined on our website. We're always seeking new presenters with fresh ideas for the writers in our network along the Front Range. Ideas can come in the form of one-hour presentations (appropriate for Pikes Peak Writers Conference), two-hour presentations (useful for Write Brains or two-part presentations at conference), half-day, or full-day presentations.
For half-day and full-day presentations, we can make use of those in two different ways. We can use them as a special event done outside our normal conference or Write Brain times. We can also use them at conference as part of our Thursday Prequel programming where a more intense dive into a topic is possible because Thursdays are broken up into two half-day sessions instead of a whole slew of one-hour sessions.
If you're interested in submitting a presentation or panel idea to us, please visit our page on this topic, read the full details, and throw some ideas our way. We'd love to have them!

Requesting a Workshop:
If you aren't quite ready to jump in front of an audience and talk about an area you're an expert in or just want to remain in the safe confines of the audience, but still have a great idea (or three) about speakers, topics, or ideas you'd love to see Pikes Peak Writers do, we have a page for that as well.
We're looking for details on the presentation, the speaker (if applicable), and where you've seen the presentation before (again, if applicable). We're always eager to utilize speakers and/or topics the membership has requested, so please don't be shy about speaking your voice. The more clamor we hear for a particular topic, the more likely we'll be to seek out a speaker along those lines and put something on the docket.
If you visit the Request a Workshop page on our website, you'll find the simple form that will email the appropriate people the information you submit.

About the Author:  J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels. He also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. He is the president of Pikes Peak Writers. When not writing, he keeps computers secure at the Day Job, homebrews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many card/board/role-playing games.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Peak Productivity Part Four

By: J.T. Evans

This is the fourth and final installment of Peak Productivity. The first, second, and third parts are already posted.

Idle Your Engine

You obviously can’t be productive every moment of your day/week/month/life. Attempting to do this will lead to a miserable life, and will only burn you out on the concept of writing. This will, of course, kill your productivity, and that’s not what we want to happen.

You need to, from time-to-time, step away from the keyboard (or pen) and let your brain run at a slower pace. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that spring forth when you’re not actively thinking about your prose. Again, be prepared to capture these moments with a handy pen and notebook.

Things you can do that idle your brain:
  •     Laundry
  •        Dishes
  •        Vacuum
  •        Change the oil in your car yourself
  •        Go for a countryside drive with the windows down and music blaring
  •        Shovel some snow
  •        Walk the dog (or alone if you're dog-less)
  •        Play with your children
  •       Talk with your spouse
  •        Do a repetitive craft with your hands

Tracking Progress

Another thing I learned from Mur’s podcast relates to this wonderful creation called The Magic Spreadsheet. You can earn points for each consecutive day in which you write. If you miss a day, you reset back to zero points and start over. You can create different awards for yourself for attaining more points. Set up larger rewards for larger point levels.

Some people will also buy a calendar and a whole bunch of stickers of various sizes. For a day where the words come easily and you get lots done, you'll get a large sticker (or maybe two large stickers) on that day. If you get a little bit done, you get some little stickers. No word? No sticker! A quick glance at the calendar can remind of you of how well you're doing and this can help push you forward in your writing. No need to track those pesky word counts. Just look at the stickers and know you're doing well.


As you can see, there are tons of ways Real Life can get in the way. There are also ways you can get in your own way. There are methods to battle these distractions, and also approaches to increase your productivity when you write.

I hope this (rather lengthy) series of blog posts has been useful to my fellow writers. If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please drop them in the comments.

About the Author:  J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels. He also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. He is the president of Pikes Peak Writers. When not writing, he keeps computers secure at the Day Job, homebrews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many card/board/role-playing games.