Finding Treasure at Colorado Gold

Hi Reading and Writing Friend,

First, an apology.  I forgot to take pictures this last weekend!  Not sure how that happened, but we’ll blame it on Father Time, and move on.

ANYWAY . . .

My big event of the year was this past weekend, and here’s why I’m so excited about it:

ONE . . . Chloe!

I love my granddaughter and was very proud to take this budding writer around with me to meet friends of all sorts.  She was graceful and confident.  She looked people in the eye to talk with them about writing and was able to say yes, she is a writer and her genre is YA Romance.  I was so proud of her!  Now I realize how this helping through the generations thing goes.  Cool, cool, to the ends of the earth cool.

TWO . . . Industry updates.

It looks like Independent Publishing is grabbing hold in the fiction writing industry.  Authors who have traditionally published in the past are considering the opportunities of going global with an e-book title they create themselves.  Jeff Shelby, a firmly established traditionally published author broke down some of the financial opportunities, and his sessions were well populated with other established authors looking to jump on this new train.

Here’s where the secret is out.  When I used to dream of writing a novel, along with that vision came thoughts of having a career where I could support myself into my golden years.  I have to admit, my first advance was something a lot less than a salary for the three to four years I spent trying to get published in the first place.  Jeff let us know that those big figures don’t come as often any more for even better known authors.  And if you’re trying to focus on improving your craft and submitting high-quality work, this lack of pay is a detriment to everyone.

Publishing ebooks on the internet allows a writer access to immediate income, and more of it.  Will it pay out as much over time?  Hard to tell, but for now the stigma of what used to be called “Vanity Press” seems to be falling by the way-side.  One in three readers has a device these days for electronic reading, and the numbers indicate the market is growing. So look for this trend in self- or indy-pubs to continue. (BTW:  Faith on the Rocks was just launched by Five Star in electronic format – only $3.19!  Much better for readers with devices).

THREE . . .  Writing craft

Writing craft still had a lot of great sessions.  Chloe went to more than I did and had a great time jotting notes here there and everywhere.  I was particularly taken by two classes focused the structure behind the story.  Great stuff!

The first class was called “Plotting Your Novel Using a Dynamic Grid” conducted by Christine Jorgensen.  Christine showed how to capture ideas and place them on a grid that naturally structures your plot into the traditional three to four act story that leaves readers satisfied and wanting more at the same time.  Wonderful!  I’ll try to talk more about this plotting method in upcoming posts.

The second class, titled “Become a Clue-Master,” was presented by Kris Neri.  She added a new twist to how I’ve used clues in the past, and I can’t wait to get started with some of the great tips she gave us.  I mean, I’m rather used to Daisy stumbling around on a page until the bad guy becomes crystal clear.  Now I hope to make the stories I write have a better “aha” at the end because readers can go back and say “Oh! I should have seen that.” Very cool stuff.

FOUR . . . Meeting Ronald Malfi.

Okay, so I’m not a horror reader.  But Ronald is a well established writer with twelve books out on the bookshelves.  Not all are horror. He’s just best known in this genre.  He has won several awards and has a large following.

Friday night at the conference, we had our annual book sale, where authors are given a table to share and the chance to sign copies of their work for those who want autographed books.  This was my first event, and I couldn’t believe my luck. Ronald Malfi’s last name is right next to mine in the alphabet, so he was put at my table. So here we sat, newbie next to famous author.

Did this man put up his nose and demand another place? No. Did he draw all the readers to himself and leave me feeling like yuck? Nope.  In fact, Ronald was so amazing, he was pushing my book!  Can you believe it?  He bought  a copy of Faith on the Rocks, and was telling everyone they had to buy a copy for themselves! Amazing.  I would never expected such a generous spirit from one of the “big guys,” but here’s some icing on the cake–Ronald is only in his mid-thirties. This guy is going to be a favorite in the book business for many years to come. Look for his books on the link with his name above. I could spend an entire post on the meeting and how super he is, but I hope you’ll explore his work for yourself.  I can’t wait to dive into Floating Staircase — but only in the day.  I’m a scaredy-cat through and through.

FIVE . . . Donating to the Red Cross.

Okay. You see it at every disaster.  The fires, the hurricane damage, and, in Colorado’s case, the floods.  Television cameras focus on disaster and PR gurus.  Then, a couple of days later the story goes stale and the cameras flit off to the next big deal.  What’s left behind? Red Cross volunteers.

I saw the Red Cross up close back in the early ’90s when a little autistic boy was kidnapped.  They fed us volunteers who searched for the boy over a couple of weeks.  The story didn’t end well, but the Red Cross was there for us.

I’ve seen the Red Cross at other places and during other times of need.  They gave me a babysitting kit to help my special needs child learn the basics of child care.

But this weekend, the Red Cross was housed with our group of writers in the hotel.  We had already planned a make-shift fundraiser to help victims of the floods here in Colorado, but to see the people our funds would support was inspiring.  Yes, my eyes welled a little each time I had the chance to shake hands and say thanks to all colors of faces, all ages, and a consistent upbeat feeling of helpfulness.  The teens were adorable.  Those more my age, confident and articulate.  I was very lucky.

The RMFW silent auction for the victims of the flood raised over $7,000.  Yes, I got teary-eyed.  Dollars are hard to come by these days, especially for most of us writers (see point one above). Yet people donated time, talent, and of course, books.  Others bid on those items and the auction was a success.

The one thought that ties this conference memory together for me is community.  As Americans we seem a generous lot.  When disaster strikes, we’re there for others. When the new meets the old there is a sense of welcome and support. When family gets together, love is found.  As storytellers, I hope we always remember the lessons of Colorado Gold 2013, and share them widely. After all, isn’t that what storytelling is all about?

Writing Update – Time for Colorado Gold

Sometimes “writing” is not about putting words on paper at all.  Sometimes, for me, writing is about socializing, learning, and marketing.  Here’s a quick update on what’s going on in my writing life:

RMFW COLORADO GOLD IS THIS WEEKEND

Author Carol Berg at last year's Colorado Gold Conference

Author Carol Berg at last year’s Colorado Gold Conference

Yes! The event I look forward to all year is going on at the Denver Renaissance Hotel this weekend.  Bunches of writers, aspiring authors, agents, editors, and everything literary are coming to town for three days of fun and learning.  I can’t wait to be a part of it all again.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sharon Mignerey, who moved to Texas several years ago.  And I’ll spend time with Mike Befeler, asking not only about his work, but how his house is surviving the flood waters from the mountains.  People from my critique group will be around and I’ll look forward to chatting with them both about writing and about their lives.  Each week when we meet, there is little time to bond as writers. We have to focus on reading and editing each other’s work. This weekend will provide the time for just being friends with a terrific interest in common.

But best of all, MY GRANDDAUGHTER IS COMING TOO! Whoo Hoo!  Chloe is thirteen and one half, old enough to understand what’s going on.  She is a wonderful writer and is excited to visit Colorado to see what the “grown-ups” do with their writing.  I hope I haven’t over-sold the event, but with books to buy, sessions to attend, and people to meet, I’m sure of one thing–Chloe will not be bored!  I can’t wait to introduce her to my friends.

TWO BOOK SIGNING EVENTS

Three Chimneys Gifts, Littleton, CO

Here’s where I’ll be Saturday, Sept. 28. Hope to see you there!

Yipee!  I have another book signing coming up.  If you live in the Littleton area, please be sure to stop by Three Chimneys, Natural Surroundings on Saturday, September 28th between 11:00am and 3:00pm.  This is the historic shop I wrote about a couple of months ago.  I can hardly wait–just need to get people to come to the event.

Also, tomorrow night I get to visit with a women’s book club. I am so excited for this.  Thanks to my friend, Gina Fenske, I’ll visit the group in Gina’s home, answer questions about writing and possibly dogs, then encourage the group to tell me about themselves, and tell their friends about Faith on the Rocks.

SLICED VEGETARIAN READY FOR BETA READS

I cannot believe I am so close to having a second novel ready to submit to my publisher.  Today, I am planning to review, edit, and/or rewrite the last seven chapters of Sliced Vegetarian, the second Daisy Arthur novel.  Sometime tomorrow, I will export my document from Scrivener, the writing software I use, to either a pdf or Word format, and send it off to three talented writing friends for review.

When I wrote Faith on the Rocks, I think I took every single chapter to critique group.  As a result, I only had one beta reader, or person who reads a work before taking it public.  Technically, I should probably refer to these friends as “alpha” readers–people who read a work in process, but I feel that Sliced Vegetarian is at the public testing phase software companies refer to as “beta sites.” Please wish me luck.

LOOKING AHEAD

For a marketing person, I’ve been pretty lax about pushing myself and my books “out there.”  I want to start sending a monthly newsletter to people, with the idea that through the newsletter they can keep up-to-date on Daisy happenings, about Prophet–aka “Thunder” and Nalla, or “Georgette.”  If you’d like to be on that mailing list, please let me know.  Also, if you have ideas of articles you’d like to see in that newsletter, again, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Wishing you a great week, full of all the adventure you want, and the best reads you can find.

How Do You Say A Final Good-bye?

Maceo died Monday.  He hung on until his family returned from business out-of-town.  A heroic effort, really, as the growth in his mouth made it difficult to eat.  Maceo belonged to Harmony and Toby, but in a way, he was the Colorado DanceSport studio mascot and belonged to us all.

Maceo in healthier days

Maceo in healthier days.

As with any pet that’s not my own, I made no special note of when or how I met Maceo.  He was simply always at the studio, always a part of what was going on.  He slept in the sun rays of the dance floor door, or lay in wait for his “favorite” dancers at the front door to the studio.  I used to laugh about having to pay a small “tax” of dog treats when I came to practice or dance.

The thing I noticed most about this precious dog was the joy that shown from his eyes and the accompanying wag of tail.  When I asked him to sit or go down, somehow this special guy would jump into position with the sharpness dancers try to replicate in their Latin or Rhythm moves.  He had us all beat for such precise staccato moves. Pop! He was up and wagging his tail, then–Pop!–he was sitting, then–Pop!–he pounded his small body into the floor.  But there was always his doggie smile and that wag to follow.  What a treat.

A few months ago, I asked if Maceo had something wrong.  He was thin, too thin for a dog his size, and he was getting bad breath.  Not like our Maceo at all.  Toby and Harmony took him into the vet.  Nope. Nothing wrong.

They took him back a month ago, with more blood tests.  Maceo was licking his fur and it was matting inappropriately. Again, nothing.

Maceo the CDS dog

Maceo helping with the move.

Then, just as we were packing up the studio for its big move down the street, word came.  Maceo truly wasn’t well.  Cancer.  And not something treatable.  Stage four.  I can’t name the number of people who were crying and tearing up (guys don’t cry, don’t you know–even in ballroom dance circles).  Then came the days of holding on.

I don’t know if one goes through the five stages of grief over a dog, especially if the dog is “only” a pal one sees for five minutes each week.  But for the days we were together moving boxes and furniture, Maceo was an important reason to take breaks and play.  Mitch and Bobbi found doggie ice cream for him, a treat Maceo had never experienced before, but made the most of.  Others brought treats, and others brought loving hands to stroke, kiss, and play with this precious friend.  Several people offered to help Karen, Maceo’s “grandma” with any last clean-ups or final vet visits.  Thankfully, Maceo’s last days apparently didn’t have such drama.

Final kisses from a loving dog.

Final kisses from a loving dog.

The last time I saw Maceo was the Sunday of the move.  He came to the new studio and spent more time than not trying to find a comfortable new spot to lay.  Apparently he did — directly under the new studio sign across from the new reception desk.  He lay there and let the noise and the busy work swirl around him, a little too tired to snap into a sit or down position.

But when people came up to him, while he was too tired to jump up, his eyes still shown with great love of the people and the attention, and yes, his tail still wagged.

Who could ask for more?

Good-bye, Maceo.  You will always be loved.

Maceo Final Photo

One last photo by Jay Malik