Oh my gosh, I just returned from my very first writers conference, and I was blown away by all the fun and learning Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers packed into just three days of their annual Colorado Gold Conference. I was also blown away by how many amazing, talented and 100% approachable writers live in Colorado.
(I was also wigged out to actually see several of the agents on my list in real life. Who knew they were so little, petite and not-terrifying in reality?)
I've decided I'm going to spend a few blog posts disseminating some of the incredible knowledge I picked up so you guys can benefit from all the crazy tips, tricks and lessons--as the workshops literally blew my socks off. (Okay, not literally. I was actually wearing ballet flats all weekend, but you know what I mean.)
But first, I'm going to tell you about a few authors I met, starting with Mark Stevens, who quickly became one of my conference BFFs after I randomly sat down beside him during a pitch workshop. He was generous enough to help me fluster through the pitch script I was frantically preparing for the following day (which was a success... yess!), and we ended up buddying up and attending many of the same workshops and lectures together.
Mark writes environmentally-focused mysteries about a female hunting guide named Allison Coil. His work has been compared to Nevada Barr's "Anna Pigeon" mysteries (which I LOVED), and all his stories are set in the Rocky Mountains. Here is the cover art and jacket description for his first book, Antler Dust, which is available on Amazon.com. (His second, Buried by the Roan, is available on Amazon as well, and he is working through his third as we speak.)
On the opening day of the hunting season in the Colorado Flat Tops wilderness, two men go missing. The first is a hunting guide. The second is an animal rights protestor who believes his creative suicide will galvanize the animal rights movement.
Hunting guide Allison Coil hears a distant rifle shot and sees just enough through the swirling snow to believe somebody knows something-and isn't coming forward. But what exactly did she see?
Outfitter George Grumley fends off the formal investigation and works to discourage the informal and persistent inquiries by Coil. Grumley knows no limits in the effort to protect his guide service, which caters to fat-cat clients. Who needs hunting regulations when technology can produce the quickest and most thrilling hunt that money can buy?
The next author I want to introduce you to is Robin Perini. She's a debut author, and I scored an advance copy of her first novel, In Her Sights, which will be available on Amazon.com on November 29, 2011. Robin taught my very favorite class of the weekend, "Layering Complexity, Texture and Theme Using Sub-Plots, Secondary Characters and Villains." She's a crazy plotter (like me!), and if her book is anything like her workshop, it will be mind-blowing. Here's the cover art and jacket description:
Jasmine "Jazz" Parker, Jefferson County SWAT's only female sniper, can thread the eye of a needle with a bullet. But she carries a secret from her past that she thought she buried for good at the age of fifteen. Two years ago she even drove away the one man she believed she could love--ex-Army Ranger turned reporter Luke Montgomery--to keep her past hidden. Now, in a fleeting second, the time it takes for one clean shot, one perfect hit, to save the life of the governor's daughter, Jazz's world begins to crumble around her.
Luke splashes her face and name across the front page of the newspaper, reawakening her past with a vengeance. A vicious enemy is now bent on destroying her life, forcing Jazz to turn to the one man she can never have in order to stop a killer before she and everyone she cares about pays the ultimate price. Full of explosive action and almost unbearable suspense, In Her Sights is a relentless, steamy thriller surprisingly infused with soul and poignancy.
Finally, I'd like to introduce you to Mario Acevedo, who is a bit of a local legend in Denver thanks to his hilarious, sexy and bizarre series about Felix Gomez, a private investigator who happens to also be a vampire. He taught a lot of panels, and he has an incredible sense of humor, which is apparent in some of his titles. With books like X-Rated Bloodsuckers and The Undead Kama Sutra, how can you possibly go wrong?
I walked away with a copy of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, and--although I will be a little embarrassed if anyone catches me reading it on a street corner--I am definitely stoked to get started. Here's its cover art and jacket description:
Felix Gomez went to Iraq a soldier, and came back a vampire. Now he’s a private detective hired by a trusted friend to penetrate the murderous conspiracy cloaking an outbreak of nymphomania at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant.
Hahaha, definitely NOT a book I'd write, but that was what was so fun about this conference. I met writers from all walks of life, and we were able to socialize and brainstorm, hone our craft and network.
I walked away with that dizzy feeling of inspiration that we as writers so often crave, and I've been pouring myself into my new WIP, which now has a shiny new name to go along with its fantastic polar bear antagonist: The Purest Shade of White. Watch my progress meter on the left sidebar as I continue plugging away, and stop by soon for Part One of my conference lesson notes and tidbits!