Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sleuths, Bombers and Mystics: In the World of Genre Fiction

February 16, 2012 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Join writers Carol Berg, Janet Fogg, and Mark Stevens for a panel on writing and publishing genre fiction, which will culminate with a short reading of their works. These writers have been on the Denver Best Seller List and the Military Book Club bestseller list, and won awards such as the HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, Colorado Book Awards, the Prism Award, the Geffen Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. All come to ACC with great accolades from the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. $5 suggested donation for the Writers Studio Scholarship fund. Location: Arapahoe Community College Main Campus, Rm M4750, Denver, CO.

Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began in the 1990s when she was CFO for the coolest architectural firm in Boulder. Fifteen writing awards later, Janet resigned from the firm to write full-time, and ten months after that she signed a contract for Soliloquy, her award-winning WWII historical romance.

In 2011 Casemate Publishing released Fogg in the Cockpit, a Military Book Club bestseller co-authored by Janet and her husband Richard Fogg. Based on the wartime diary of Richard’s father, Fogg in the Cockpit offers a first hand look at Howard Fogg’s fascinating and often unexpected story as a fighter pilot during WWII.

Janet was the 2010 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Published Author Liaison, is a long-time member of RMFW, Pikes Peak Writers, and two fantastic critique groups. In her free time she has fun with cars with Richard. Her website is at

Former software engineer Carol Berg majored in mathematics at Rice University and computer science at the University of Colorado. But it is her thirteen epic fantasy novels that have won national and international awards, including multiple Colorado Book Awards, the Prism Award, the Geffen Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. They’ve been translated into multiple languages, appeared on bestseller lists, and been read, so readers tell her, on five continents, on a submarine under the Mediterranean, in the war zone of Iraq, and on the slopes of Denali. Her novels of the Collegia Magica have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, using words like compelling, intelligent, complex, enthralling, and superbly realized. The latest is The Daemon Prism. Her website is at

The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts, graduated from Principia College in Illinois. He worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Boston and Los Angeles; worked for The Rocky Mountain News, covering City Hall for three years. He produced television news for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour in the United States and Latin America. He covered the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, NASA’s space shuttle disaster, a volcano eruption in Colombia, political upheavals in Nicaragua, and mudslides in Puerto Rico. After tending bar for a year on a self-financed sabbatical (and to write fiction), he joined The Denver Post to cover education. Those five years of reporting led to a position as Director of Communications with Denver Public Schools for more 11 years and then with the Greeley school district and the state department of education. He now works in public relations. After two decades of writing fiction, Mark was published in 2007. His first Allison Coil Mystery, Antler Dust, hit the Denver Post best seller list when it was published and again in 2009. The sequel, Buried by the Roan, was published in August, 2011 and is receiving excellent reviews. Both books are set in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Western Colorado and feature hunting guide and amateur sleuth Allison Coil. The third book is on the way and tentatively scheduled for release in 2013. His website is at

Monday, February 6, 2012


Life is a series of choices.

They are the keys to great fiction.

Thank you, Donald Maass, for emphasizing this technique. Hard choices make for powerful climaxes.

Force your hero into making a choice between

1) Action that will force him to lose what he holds most dear
2) Action that will force someone he loves to lose what she holds most dear

Be sure we know ahead of time what those dear things are. Maybe seeing them in action twice before.

In The Help, the most resistant maid spills the beans, though she takes a big risk and she is bitter about her lot in life symbolized by the journalist she has to spill the beans to.

In Pet Cemetery Steven King must choose between allowing his dead son to rest in peace or let him be reanimated knowing he’ll come back as a murderous, mad beast.

In The Godfather: Michael accepts the honor and responsibility of being the godfather of Connie’s son at the baptism simultaneous to a mass hit ordered by him.

In Fiddler on the Roof, the third daughter must choose between her family and her lover who is heading to Siberia.

In the first Star Wars trilogy, Luke must battle his own father, Darth Vader.

In The Matrix Neo accepts that he’s The One and sacrifices himself to save Zion.

And my favorite protagonist, Harold, in Harold and Maude, must choose between suicide after this 80-year-old lover’s death and the unlikely option of continuing to live with the new gusto that she taught him.

In one of my novels, Catharsis, my protagonist must admit she hired and encouraged the man who turned out to be the killer.

In another, American Moon, my protagonist hits her beloved father with her car while backing up to meet her lover who she believes is her ticket to becoming legal in the U.S.

Life is a series of choices and in fiction they need to be big choices.

- Inkpot

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

“Happy Fiftieth Birthday Karen Lin!” Tribute: Fifty Nifty Tips On Writing and the Writing Life Collected From Our Beloved Inkpot Over Twenty Years

Happy Birthday, Karen! You’re an amazing writer and writer-friend, loved by all who know you. Thank you for your willingness to be a patient teacher of the craft, manuscript after manuscript, draft after draft, year after year. Even more heartfelt thanks for being a treasured friend who walks this path with us every day. Don’t know where we’d be without you!

The First Ten Tips On Writing and the Writing Life From Karen Lin

1. If you know of a writer-friend who’s been accepted, rejected, discouraged, or approaching a deadline, take food! Writer-friend food possesses magical powers.
2. Search and delete your ms for the word “then.”
3. Don’t be afraid to be a poet and use words in unusual and evocative ways, as long as it doesn’t distract your reader.
4. When using color in a description think of something that evokes a vivid image of that color, not the name of the color itself, e.g., emerald grass.
5. There is a shadow side to even the sunniest story and character. Don’t ignore it, or your story will suffer.
6. Don’t circle around what you want to say; come out and say it directly. Help the reader (and the acquiring editor/agent) move through the story effortlessly and without distractions.
7. Your villain is the hero of his own story. Give him his due.
8. Be careful not to pop the balloon of suspense. Tell the story as it unfolds, not by looking backward from a position of safety, which reveals that your character survived to tell the tale. (Unless you’ve chosen that style deliberately, for a Daphne du Maurier effect, with all that entails.) Also, don’t remove tension by starting with temptingly dramatic statements like “It was over” before you describe what happened.
9. Keep the thesaurus open on your screen!
10. Be on the lookout for passive statements that suck the energy out of prose.

Happy Birthday, Inkpot, with heartfelt thanks from a grateful Sister of the Quill and all your pupils!