I haven’t been the the WOTY (Writer of the Year) panel discussion before, so when my friend Kevin suggested that some of us skip critique group for one night and head out to the downtown Tattered Cover, I was up for the adventure. What a good decision!
According to the RMFW website: “Each year, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers honors one of its published members as its Writer of the Year. The winner of the award is a member in good standing selected by RMFW’s membership from candidates who have been published during the calendar year.” This year’s honoree is Carol Berg.
I have listened to Carol speak at the Colorado Gold conference a few times, purchased the tapes and CDs to listen to her in my car, and have always been impressed with what she’s had to say. An ex-software engineer, Carol pays attention to the details, does her research and always seems to come prepared. If ever you have the chance to hear her speak, take it. Well worth your time.
Problem is, I’m just not into fantasy stories. Bunch of elves and shoemakers running around the pages of a novel really isn’t my cup of tea.
But when I listened to Carol talk about her experiences as a writer, and give advice to the group of about 50 to 60 people, she impressed again. Actually, I loved the trio of writers on the panel, Kay Bergstrom, Jeanne Stein, and Carol. The emcee for the evening was Robin D. Owens, last year’s WOTY recipient, and she too, did a great job. Sprinkled in the midst of the comments were prizes, given out to the people who put their names in a bowl. In all, it was a fun, fun night.
But back to Carol’s words. Like all the members of the panel, Carol agreed that to become a successful writer, one must write. Millions of words. And read.
“Read, read, read,” said Carol. “Read in your genre and out. Read constantly.” She mentioned some of her favorite authors (which of course, included Kay, Jean, and some of the published authors in the audience). Jane Austin was on her list as well as Vince Flynn and others. I get the impression she reads as much or more than my sister, Linda. I think that’s part of what makes her and other good reader-authors so interesting to listen to.
I think the part of Carol’s gift to the crowd I liked best, was when she told about a young veteran who found her at a talk in Washington state.
“He came up to me and said, ‘I didn’t know you were coming. I read your book. I was in a very different place, not good. But I read, Transformations. You touched me.’ That has been an important memory for me.” Carol paused after that, and the room paused with her. After all, isn’t this the highest compliment an author can receive?
I purchased the first book in Carol’s Collegia Magica series. While there will be sorcery, I think the characters and plot will make for good reading. Besides, I read the first chapter when I got home last night, and I’m gripped.
Oh! And more fun from the evening. I won a thrilling prize: breakfast at the Colorado Gold Conference with agent Beth Miller of Writers’ House. I checked out their website. They represent a fantastic array of great authors. I’m so excited! Tell you all about it after the conference.
For now, go out there. Read, read, read, and start writing those millions of words. You can do this. I believe in you!