Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gary Raham - Northern Colorado Writer Feature


Gary Raham
Northern Colorado Writer's Group

I love to help connect kids to science through story. I’ve written 13 books, several video scripts, and numerous natural history articles for Highlight for Children, Cricket, and other magazines, as well as some short SF stories. I use The Deep Time Diaries and Teaching Science Fact with Science Fiction, to create middle school enrichment material in English and science with the help of master teacher, Vicky Jordan. I illustrate much of my own work and also create natural history and biomedical illustrations for a variety of clients. I enjoy writing nature columns for The North Forty News and for Colorado Gardener magazine. I’ve been NCW for a couple of years now. I’ve been a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI for many years and am a former Co-RA. I also belong to the Colorado Authors League.

My most recent books are Bugs That Kill (Marshall-Cavendish, 2009) and The Restless Earth: Fossils (Chelsea House, 2009). I am currently writing Escape From Deep Time, a sequel to The Deep Time Diaries (Fulcrum, 2000).

I enjoy designing books and book covers for other writers. I have over 35 years experience as a graphic designer. See samples at under “Design.” Visit his profile on LinkedIn for testimonials.

Neesha, a character in The Deep Time Diaries and Escape From Deep Time, writes my blog for me. See it at:

You can follow Gary Raham on facebook:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Northern Colorado Writer's Conference Sessions

If you are thinking of attending the 2010 Northern Colorado Writer's Conference, you should decide to go! It is going to be ACTION PACKED!

2010 Conference Session Descriptions

Here is a list of the conference workshops and descriptions:
(Session topics subject to change)

From Proposal to Publication
Presenter: Rachelle Gardner

The world of publishing can be confusing, and the fact that you receive that long-awaited book contract doesn’t seem to clear up any mysteries! This workshop will explain what happens at the publishing house between the time you submit your proposal and the time your book is finally published. You’ll learn what the editorial, marketing, sales and art departments are doing about your book along the way—and most importantly, what will be expected of you. We’ll cover author/editor protocol plus the basics about contracts, deadlines, book covers, and marketing expectations. This workshop will shed light on the vast shadowy halls of the publishing house and help you navigate your way through your first experience as a published author.

Establishing a Marketing Plan
Presenter: Mike Befeler

How to promote yourself and your book with examples from my “Geezer-lit Mysteries.” A survey of the means to establish yourself including press kits, web site, blogs, social networking, conferences, book signings, events, speaking to service organizations, presentations to organizations interested in topics in your book, finding specific audiences (in my case older readers), radio, television. Becoming an expert on subject matter that indirectly promotes your books, e.g., my involvement in volunteer activities associated with topics of aging.

Selling your Book to Film and Television Stage Producers
Presenter: Ken Sherman

Once you've written your book, and whether you sell it to a publisher or not, there's always a chance it might make a fine film, TV movie or TV series. We'll discuss what producers, studios and networks think they're looking for on any given day, and how you can best prepare your material and yourself to access them.

Breaking into Non-Fiction: Learning the Facts and Dealing with Reality
Presenter: Stan Wakefield

This session will be an exploration of the ways and means to build an author’s non-fiction writing career – from the kernel of an idea through all the stages in between. Attendees will learn what publishers are looking for in the latest non-fiction sub-genres, what topics and formats are currently ‘hot,’ and how to launch their plans either with agents or directly with publishers’ acquisition editors. This is an in-depth look at the world of non-fiction and will be appropriate for both first-time-authors and experienced professionals.

How to Give Good Readings
Presenter: Paula Reed

How is it that writers who put so much passion and feeling into their stories end up struggling to convey those emotions when they give readings? Writers are often introverts, which is not always conducive to public speaking. Besides, there is still all that residual trauma from giving speeches before critical peers in school. Drawing on her two decades of experience coaching high school competitive public speaking, multi-published author Paula Reed will give you the tools you need to captivate readers with your voice as well as your words.

Creating a Sense of Place
Presenter: Page Lambert

More than setting. More than landscape. More than location. No matter what genre, Place is the world your characters inhabit and where your Story comes alive. This workshop explores how to create Place through the use of atmosphere, symbolism, imagery, and metaphor.

What is Inspirational Fiction?
Presenter: Tina Ann Forkner

Signs that readers are hungry for inspirational stories of faith can be seen all around us as evidenced by the sensation of crossover books from the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association), such as The Shack, The Left Behind series, The Chronicles of Narnia and the success of novelists including Debbie Macomber, Jan Karon, Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and Anne Lamott. Author Tina Ann Forkner who is published by Waterbrook Press, the CBA arm of Random House, will give an overview of the Inspirational genres and information on how to get published in the Inspirational market.

How to Write for the Web
Presenter: Tim Beyers

With each publishing door that closes in the print world, a window opens in the Web world. Writers looking to make the transition to replace or even boost income will benefit from this session. Taught by veteran freelancer Tim Beyers, whose work appears daily at finance news website The Motley Fool, you'll learn about the impact of search engines on your work, why links are currency, and why, on the Web, agreeing to incentive pay isn't always a bad idea.

Agent Panel
Presenters: Rachelle Gardner, Joe Monti, Ken Sherman

Attending Literary Agents answer your questions.

Scenework: Writing the Robust Scene
Presenter: Trai Cartwright

You’ve got your concept, your plotline is tight and your characters are living, breathing creatures – now what? How do you write scenes that show them to their best advantage? This workshop is about deep scenework: learning the five narrative aspects of a scene and how to balance them, strong scene construction, and enhancing your natural strengths while eliminating any weaknesses on this macro level. Developing every scene to its full potential is the key to a transformative story -- be a dynamic scenewriter!

The Art of Personal Essay
Presenter: Laura Pritchett

Want to write and submit a personal essay to a magazines or journals? This workshop is designed to focus on the essentials of turning personal experience into compelling narrative - and readying it for submission. We'll be concentrating on how to 1) tell through the use of story and 2) make that story have "universality" (as in, how to make it matter to others). We will also be discussing nonfiction fundamentals: the central dramatic questions and themes, how to craft scenes, ways to build tension, etc

Mixing Humor, Mysteries and Older Characters
Presenter: Mike Befeler

The art of combining humor and dead bodies in a way that keeps the reader reading by pointing out the foibles of the human condition, using quirky characters, employing unexpected twists, showing people acting in unique ways, uncovering flaws in the protagonist and honorable traits in the antagonist. Given the explosion in the older population, there is increasing interest in older characters, who are vital, humorous and can solve a mystery in spite of any deterioration of mind or body.

Dialogue and Setting: Tips on Letting Your Characters Speak and Live
Presenter: Todd Mitchell

This would be a nuts and bolts workshop on developing effective dialogue and descriptive writing. In addition to discussing common problems with dialogue, I'd do a few brief exercises to hone dialogue and descriptive writing skills. A tip sheet would be given to help writers identify problems, and discover new ways to let their characters speak and live.

Hopping onto Your Time Machine: Writing Memoir that Matters
Presenter: John Calderazzo

"Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are." So writes Tim O'Brien in The Things They Carried, a novel of stories that sometimes relies heavily on memoir, or seems to. When you "research" a personal memoir you often research yourself, the arc of your psyche (your soul?) over time. And to do that you often have to hop onto a time machine to cruise around in the distant or near past. But if your memoir is to truly connect the past to the future---to rise above the level of anecdote or well-written nostalgia---you need to ride that time machine not just backwards, but forwards and sideways and who knows where else. Driving instructions included in this presentation.

Tragedy To Triumph
Presenter: Paula Reed

The hero’s journey teaches us that all art is created in the abyss. Whether it is used as a way of escaping our darker side or plumbing its depths, writing can help us deal with even the toughest challenges life throws our way. This motivational session is a reflection on the role that writing fiction has played in recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome for Paula Reed, multi-published author and teacher at Columbine High School.

From Book-to-Screen: The Basics of the Film and Television Industries (and how an author and his/her book fit in)
Presenter: Stan Wakefield

Unlike book publishing, writing for film and TV differs in the very definition of what an author’s traditional role is in the process, and how s/he fits into the team-approach that contrasts so dramatically from the ‘lone-wolf-approach’ of solo-authorship. Authors and attendees will learn the basic rules-of-the-road in script preparation, expectations among producers, studios and agencies that represent writers on this side of the entertainment aisle, and everyone will receive a good initial introduction to the business of film.

Using Twitter to Boost Your Writing Income
Presenter: Tim Beyers

Thanks to Twitter, it has never been easier for an enterprising writer to build a career. Editors, publishers, peers, sources -- they're all flocking to the microblogging service. For some, the shift has led to more assignments and higher income. Veteran freelancer Tim Beyers is one of those writers. In this session, he'll walk you through his rules for earning a return on your Twitter time, including strategies for querying editors, building your contact list, and the in-and-outs of using Twitter to find quotable sources.

Writing Sex Well
Presenter: Laura Prichett

Sex is not always good, but it's always revealing! Whether it's fantastic, boring, strange, or predictable, sex is one of the most powerful unions and sensations we experience, and it shouldn't be skipped or avoided in writing. On the other hand, a sex scene shouldn't be included unless it serves a purpose, which is to illustrate the characters and the larger themes of the work. This workshop will introduce and explore some ideas about writing sex well - how to direct an honest gaze at this most fascinating activity.

How to Successfully Weave Faith Into Your Stories
Presenter: Tina Forkner

Do you have trouble deciding how to let your characters be fully developed in their spiritual walks without scaring away editors? What if your character happens to be a Christian? Learn how to deepen your story and give characters a rich inner life by using elements of faith without sounding preachy. Author Tina Ann Forkner who is published by Waterbrook Press, the CBA arm of Random House, will use examples from her own experience, as well as the experiences of others in the industry, to show that characters can successfully lead a life of faith in novels.

Editor Panel
Presenters: Mira P

Attending Editor answers your questions.

Just Because It’s Nonfiction Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Long
Presenter: John Calderazzo

Who says that compelling and rich nonfiction has to be long---say, the length of a slowly-unfolding essay, or even a "BoB", a Back of the Book magazine think piece? Like flash fiction or a poem, nonfiction can sometimes displays its best self by zinging along at warp speed, or by leaping to the heart of the matter in a fraction of normal essay length. But how does it do this, and with what effect? And how do you get started? We’ll look at some great examples of nonfiction short shorts, including prose poems and the lyric essay, and then we’ll try a few different writing approaches ourselves.

Intimate Emotions, Universal Themes and Syncronicity
Presenter: Page Lambert

power to fuel our writing. They provide a pathway to lead us from our own intimate lives into the larger human experience, to think without boundaries and let the heart lead the dialogue our inner-selves want to have with the outer world. Emotions provide a key to understanding the synchronistic moments that give structure to our lives and our stories. They are the well that never goes dry. This session will explore the realm of emotion—yours, and your characters’, and will ask two vital questions that will help you uncover theme and meaning in your

Writing Fantasy & Sci-Fi —Challenges and Techniques
Presenter: Todd Mitchell

Join Todd Mitchell, author of The Traitor King (Scholastic Press) and The Secret to Lying (Candlewick Press) as we discuss the techniques writers use to make the strange believable. Practical tips will be given for avoiding some of the common pitfalls of fantasy/sci-fi writing, developing effective fictional worlds, and creating engaging stories. Possible fantasy/sci-fi story ideas will also be generated and discussed.

15 Elements of a Great Movie
Presenter: Trai Cartwright

15 Elements of All Great Movies and how to use them to make all your stories better! Building a truly satisfying story in any medium requires complex storytelling. This class breaks down all the ingredients that make up the tales that become classics. We’ll talk about the power of the secondary character, creating strong tension with tones, how to make concept, setting and theme work together, and so much more. Using familiar movie examples brings these concepts alive, and you’ll see how to deploy them in everything you write.

Agents & Editors Read the Slush Pile
Presenters: Ken Sherman, Rachelle Gardner

Attending Agents and Editors read the slush pile and give their quick comments and critiques.

Northern Colorado Writer's Conference
March 26-27 2010

Fort Collins Hilton

Northern Colorado Writers

$260 NCW Members
$310 Nonmembers
$335 Conference & NCW Membership
$225 Friday or Saturday Only

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2010 Northern Colorado Writer's Conference

You just have to attend the 5th Annual, Northern Colorado Writer's Conference!

Two and a half years ago I joined Nothern Colorado Writer's group to find a place where I could gain more insight on the writing business, socialize, and hang out with other writers.  In that time, I have learned a lot about writing, submitting, networking, and promotion from a group of dedicated writers.  Also, I attended the past two Northern Colorado Writer's Conferences.

2008 was my first conference experience, and I did not know what to expect.  It was a welcoming experience with professional agents and great presenters sharing a wealth of knowledge and experience to a great group of writers.  I was amazed by the professionalism of the staff and the ability to pitch to well known, experienced, and successful literary agents.

The next year, 2009, I was excited to attend.  I now had an idea what to expect and was ready for my pitch session.  I had some great feedback from the agents and the conference presenters were top notch.  I was especially blown away by by the key note speakers.  I met a lot of new people and socialized with many of my writing friends.

I can't wait to go this year!
March 26-27 2010 Fort Collins Hilton


With over 29 great workshops to pick from, Agent/Editor Pitch Sessions, Friday Evening Red Carpet Gala and a chance to meet with other writers and professionals in the industry, what are you waiting for?  If you are aspiring to get published, want to further your knowledge about writing, self-published and want to network, or committing yourself to become a professional writer, then this conference is for you.

This action packed two days also includes all meals, agent pitch session (must have a completed manuscript), a pre-conference workshop (March 6 at NCW studio), and access to the conference bookstore.  This year, all conference attendees get a copy of Stephen Cannell's new book The Pallbearers.

Here is a list of the 2010 conference workshops:
  • From Proposal to Publication
  • Establishing a Marketing Plan
  • Selling your Book to Film and Television Stage Producers
  • Breaking into Non-Fiction: Learning the Facts and Dealing with Reality
  • How to Give Good Readings
  • Creating a Sense of Place
  • What is Inspirational Fiction?
  • How to Write for the Web
  • Agent Panel
  • Scenework: Writing the Robust Scene
  • The Art of Personal Essay
  • Mixing Humor, Mysteries and Older Characters
  • Dialogue and Setting: Tips on Letting Your Characters Speak and Live
  • Hopping onto Your Time Machine: Writing Memoir that Matters
  • Tragedy To Triumph
  • From Book-to-Screen: The Basics of the Film and Television Industries (and how an author and his/her book fit in)
  • Using Twitter to Boost Your Writing Income
  • Writing Sex Well
  • How to Successfully Weave Faith Into Your Stories
  • Editor Panel
  • Just Because It’s Nonfiction Doesn’t Mean It Has to Be Long
  • Intimate Emotions, Universal Themes and Syncronicity
  • Writing Fantasy & Sci-Fi —Challenges and Techniques
  • 15 Elements of a Great Movie
  • Agents & Editors Read the Slush Pile
Kerrie Flanagan

Kerrie Flanagan is the Director of Northern Colorado Writers and a freelance writer. Over the past decade she has published 120+ articles in national and regional publications, enjoyed two years as a contributing editor for Journey magazine, worked in PR for the Fort Collins CVB and for various authors and started The Writing Bug blog. Five of her stories have been published in various Chicken Soup For The Soul books and she is the author of the children's book, Cornelius Comma Saves the Day.

Prior to her writing career, Kerrie was a teacher for 10 years. Four years ago she combined her love for writing and teaching with her passion for helping other writers and started Northern Colorado Writers. Through classes, workshops, meetings and an annual conference, NCW is able to provide its 190 members and other writers, the tools, encouragement and information needed to find success.


Stephen Cannell
Author of the critically acclaimed Shane Scully series including On The Grind and At First Sight and writer/producer of more than 40 shows including Rockford Files, A-Team, 21 Jump Street and Greatest American Hero.
Click to visit:  Stephen Cannell

Todd Mitchell
Fort Collins resident and creative writing and literature professor at Colorado State University, Todd Mitchell had his first book, "The Traitor King" published with Scholastic and is working on other various projects.

Click here to visit Todd Mitchell


Rachelle Gardner
WordServe Literary

Rachelle Gardner is with WordServe Literary and is looking for series writers who have studied their craft and polished their work.  She is concentrating on books that can be placed in the Christian marketplace (i.e. CBA publishers), and is moving into more general market fiction. In nonfiction, she is representing books that would fit in the general market or the Christian market (or both).

Click here to visit Rachelle Gardner

Ken Sherman
Ken Sherman & Associates

Ken Sherman, founder of Ken Sherman & Associates in Beverly Hills handles screenplays, books and life rights. Ken, a Los Angeles native and University of California-Berkeley psychology graduate, started his career in film and television as a reader for Columbia Pictures. Sherman’s agency opened in 1989, and currently handles approximately 35 clients; he makes contact with most of his new writers through referrals, and he handles just about every topic you can think of in nonfiction, fiction and scripts.

Click here to visit Ken Sherman

Joe Monti
Barry Goldblat Literary

Joe Monti is with Barry Goldblat Literary.  Being the children's fiction buyer for both B. Dalton and Barnes and Noble, Inc. Joe was excited to see the possibilities in children's literature and went to work with Houghton Mifflin and later Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  Joe joined Barry Goldblatt Literary where he can further pursue his passion of publishing, discovering and supporting writers and artists, and remain a "bookseller" at the heart of it all. Joe focuses on childrens, young adult, teen literature, as well as some adult genre fiction. 

Click here to visit Joe Monti


Mira Perrizo
Johnson Books

Johnson Books was established in 1978 and for 30 years Johnson Books has been exploring and celebrating both the facts and fantasies of the West through its varied list of nonfiction. Located in Boulder, Colorado, Johnson Books are regional in nature and include environmental subjects, history, geology, archaeology, guidebooks, outdoor recreation, cookbooks, general nonfiction, and fly-fishing.

Click here to visit Johnson Books

Ben Barnhart
Milkweed Press

Founded in Minnesota in 1979 by Emilie Buchwald and R.W. Scholes, Milkweed Editions is one of the nation's leading independent, nonprofit literary publishers, releasing twelve to twenty new books each year in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In addition, we are one of two nonprofit presses that publish children’s literature.

Click here to visit Milkweed Press


Northern Colorado Writers

March 26-27 2010

Fort Collins Hilton

$260 NCW Members
$310 Nonmembers
$335 Conference & NCW Membership
$225 Friday or Saturday Only


Sunday, January 10, 2010

What is Your Favorite Song to Write to?

What is your favorite writing song that you listen to over and over for inspiration? Is there a particular lyric to that song that makes it your favorite to listen to? Does your song have a particular meaning or memory associated to it?

My favorite song:
Bittersweet Symphony
by The Verve
I love the mixture of sounds, the beat and the lyrics.

Favorite lyrics: "It's a bittersweet symphony, that's life. You try to make ends meet, you're a slave tomoney, then you die," and "I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now."

I like the lyrics because they are brutally true.

I think the main reason why I like this song is because it reminds me of the year I lived in Chester, England. It was 1998, just after this song came out and swept the charts. It was the year that my oldest daughter was born, and I remember listening to it in the car on the way to the hospital to check on my wife. (23 hour labor, and the nurses made me leave for a while. My children are a big inspiration for my writing. So I guess that is why I like to listen to this song when I am writing.

To listen to the song and watch the video click on the link:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pat Walker - Northern Colorado Writer Feature


Patricia WalkerNorthern Colorado Writer's Group

I'm Patricia Walker and I've been writing for as long as I can remember. However, it didn't occur to me until six years ago—when my definition of reality turned me inside out—that writing was what I was meant to do with my life. I've since gained the courage to submit my work to public forums and now have several poems and articles published both online and in print. I've also completed my first book, which is based on my life-changing experience. I've been a member of Northern Colorado Writer's since 2008 and because of this fantastic organization, I've joined a writer's critique group and networked with many talented people. All of these have proved invaluable in helping me become a better writer.

The working title of my book is DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD. It's a funny, deep, and complex coming-of-age memoir that began with an out-of-body experience I had during a rock concert. This unexpected event precipitated a series of supernatural episodes which thrust me into mystical realms, that prior to this experience, I wasn't sure I believed in. It also led me to interact with rock star Sammy Hagar (formerly of Van Halen), who repeatedly encouraged me to tell this incredible story and has given me a written endorsement for my book. DANCE OF THE ELECTRIC HUMMINGBIRD is "Eat, Pray, Love" meets "The Alchemist," meets "Almost Famous" and "The Van Halen Saga." I've recently begun the search for an agent.

Thanks for the bio Pat.

The Darth Writer wishes you the best in finding an agent!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello 2010!

2009 did bring a few good things with it. I learned a lot about the writing business, maintained some great relationships in the industry and improved my manuscript. I started this blog, developed a new website, created some new book trailer videos and expanded my horizons in social media, making new friends and re-gaining contact with many old friends. It is great to re-kindle those relationships that had fallen off for one reason or another.
However, I sure am glad to see 2009 fly out the window. It was a tough year in many ways for me. By day, I am a Sales Manager at a Saturn store. By any other time, I am a writer. The stress of the ups and downs in the car business was magnified by the financial woes of the 2009 automotive industry. It was compounded by the loss of my General Manager, mentor, and friend, Doug Axtell. And finally, the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back, was the news in October that General Motors was shutting down Saturn. My job at the Saturn Dealership came to an end December 31st, 2009.

Whew, what a year!

(Not all hope was lost in 2009) I was given the opportunity to move over to our parent company and work in management in the Internet department at the Honda store.

January 2010 brings a new year of opportunity to make whatever you can out of the new year. My mother-in-law and father-in-law told me to keep working hard and that change is good. Although sometimes change is a little hard to swallow, they are right. Change brings about many different things in life and when one door closes another door opens. It is just a matter of making the choice to step through the threshold and make something of the opportunities that come your way.

Just because you stumble, skin your knees, and fall flat on your face, it doesn't mean you have to lie there and give up. You are still alive and you still have the opportunity to do the things you want to do. There are a lot of successful people out there that had they given up in the face of adversity, they would have never made that last step towards the opportunity that made them successful.

Remember, you can't win the lottery if you don't play the game! Life is a game, you have to get up, get out there and play in it!