Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

Memorial for Longtime PPW Member Steven Nelson

steve nelson headshotSteven LeRoy Nelson’s Memorial will be on Saturday, June 2nd, at 11:00 a.m., at the All Souls Unitarian Church. All Souls is located at the corner of Tejon and Dale, close to Colorado College. We will be celebrating his life and his passions: writing, family, and serving others.

Please bring your favorite finger food, casserole, etc., OR beverage. Wine/beer/spirits are welcome.

Your role during this memorial is to honor the passing of a good man, and to celebrate not only his life, but YOUR life, and the gifts you’ve given and received through your connections with others.

I look forward to sharing this celebration of my husband’s life with you, and I am grateful for the love and compassion I’ve received from so many of you. Thank you.

Please RSVP to Georgeanne Nelson if you’re planning on attending: blood_and_thunder@comcast.net.

Sweet Success for Becky Clark

Congratulations Becky Clark!
Her adult cozy mystery, Fiction Can Be Murder, was released on April 8, 2018, by Midnight Ink. You can receive the first three chapters free when you sign up for her So Seldom It’s Shameful Newsletter.

Fiction Can Be Murder
Mystery author Charlemagne Russo thought the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books were only products of her imagination. That is, until her agent is found dead exactly as described in her unpublished manuscript. Suspicion swirls around her and her critique group. Which of her friends is a murderer?

 

 

 

 

Becky Clark
Becky Clark is the seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them too. Readers say her books are “fast and thoroughly entertaining” with “witty humor and tight writing” and “humor laced with engaging characters” so you should “grab a cocktail and enjoy the ride.” They also say “Warning: You will laugh out loud. I’m not kidding,” and “If you like Janet Evanovich, you will like Becky Clark.”

 

 

 

Fiction Can Be Murder is available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and Indie Bound

You can reach Becky by Email: Becky@BeckyClarkBooks.com
Visit her website

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success with the world.

Sweet Success Margo Catts

Since Margo Catts’ debut novel, Among the Lesser Gods, was released last summer, it has received wonderful reviews from N.Y. Times, 5280, Colorado Public Radio, The Denver Post, and Romantic Times. Congratulations Margo on a your Sweet Success!

 

Among the Lesser GodsElena Alvarez has learned small actions can have terrible consequences, from the deadly fire she started as a child to an unwanted pregnancy, and she’s intent on avoiding the future. Perhaps she can hide in the Colorado mountains and wait for something—anything—to make her next choice for her.

Instead, reflections of her own troubles surround her—the recent widower and his children, Elena’s own mysterious family history, and the community’s interwoven pains and joys. When the children go missing, the prospect of fresh loss and blame exposes the terrible burdens we take upon ourselves, the way tragedy and redemption are intertwined—and how curses can lead to blessings, however disguised.

 

 

Margo Catts grew up in Los Angeles and has spent her adulthood in Colorado. After raising three children in the U.S., she and her husband moved to Saudi Arabia, where her Foreign Girl blog was well known in the expat community. Originally a freelance editor for textbooks and magazines, she has also done freelance writing for business, technical, and advertising clients. She is a contributing author to the anthology Once Upon an Expat. Among the Lesser Gods is her first novel.

 

 

 

Among the Lesser Gods (published by Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 9781628727395) is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Arcade Publishing, and in bookstores.

Email Margo at Margo.Catts@gmail.com  or visit her website

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success with the world.

Sweet Success Shannon Lawrence

Today contributing editor Kathie Scrimgeour shares Shannon Lawrence’s Sweet Success.


lawrence-shannon-blue-sludge-cover

A Sweet Success goes to Shannon Lawrence for the release of her first anthology, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations. This collection of adult horror short stories was released March 15, 2018 by Warrior Muse Press and is available in e-book as well as paperback.

-About the anthology- 

A collection of frights, from the psychological to the monstrous. These tales are a reminder of how

 much we have to fear: a creature lurking in the blue, sludgy depths of a rest area toilet; a friendly neighbor with a dark secret hidden in his basement; a woman with nothing more to lose hellbent on vengeance; a hike gone terribly wrong for three friends; a man cursed to clean up the bodies left behind by an inhuman force. These and other stories prowl the pages of this short story collection. 

-About Shannon-

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in anthologies and magazines, including Once Upon a Scream, Dark Moon Digest, and Space and Time Magazine. Her first solo collection of short stories, Blue Sludge Blues and Other Abominations, will be released March 1. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. 

Find her at www.thewarriormuse.com,  Facebook or Twitter: @thewarriormuse.

Where to buy or read:

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 Special Events, Part 2

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 is just around the corner.  Today, Karen Fox, PPWC Conference Director, shares some Conference extras that you won’t want to miss.  PPWC offers so many extras this year that they couldn’t all fit in one post.  Check back for more Special Events at PPWC 2018.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


We’ve already mentioned some of the great things happening at this year’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, but there are even more!  Take a peek at the activities that were so popular, we’re bringing them back.

 

 

Write Drunk Edit Sober

Like to drink?  Silly question, we’re writers, aren’t we?  Once again, we offer the opportunity to Write Drunk and Edit Sober on Saturday night from 5:45 – 7:00 p.m. in the restaurant annex.  There is an extra charge of $25 for this event, but you get to taste several different beers and write to a prompt.   On Sunday morning, you’ll join us again in the restaurant annex at 10:10 a.m. (not too early, you notice) to edit the prose you wrote while drinking.  This is a win-win situation!  And you don’t have to participate in the Write Drunk portion if you want to sit in on the Edit Sober portion to see what emerged from the beer.  Be sure to select the Write Drunk, Edit Sober when you register.

 

The Shop Open Mike & Lab

If you enjoyed last year’s Open Mic session, you’ll have another opportunity on Saturday night following the banquet (approximately 9:00 p.m.) in Aspen Leaf.  Damon Smithwick, our emcee and last year’s host, will once again oversee the open mic.  Based on PPW’s monthly Shop, this event is an open mic with a twist.  The night starts with a forum, evolves into an open mic; and ends the night as a workshop for artists to premiere works in progress for critique.  Come, singers, poets, comics, rappers, storytellers.  This is your opportunity to grow as an artist.

 

Huge Book Signing Event

PPWC is holding a huge booksigning on Saturday afternoon from 5:45 – 7:00 p.m. in Aspen Leaf that features all the speakers at the conference, including keynotes–Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jonathan Maberry and Mary Robinette Kowal.  You can bring up to two previously purchased books in with you to this signing, but all authors will have copies available as well.  This event is open to the public so feel free to invite family, friends and bookstore owners to attend.  Check out our list of amazing faculty here.

Annual On-Site Flash Fiction Contest

We’ll also be holding our annual on-site flash fiction contest which takes place during the conference.  If you can tell a phenomenal story in 100 words, this is the contest for you.  Details will be released during lunch on Friday and participants have until before dinner on Saturday to turn in their entry.  The winner will be announced during Sunday’s lunch.

 

Professional Head Shots

Need an author head shot?  It looks good on a website or better yet, a book cover.  Jared Hagen has slots available to take personal photos during the conference.  They only run $70 for a 225-minute photo shoot, which is dirt cheap which you know if you’ve priced this out already.  You’ll receive a CD of professional author photos to which you’ll own the rights.  Even better, Jared donates 50% of his proceeds back to the PPWC Scholarship fun.  This is win-win! Sign up for a time slot when you register for the conference. (I’ll attach my before and after shots if you want to use them.)

With all these enticements, don’t hesitate!  Go now to  https://www.regonline.com/ppwc2018 to register right now.


Karen Fox is PPWC 2018 Conference Director.  When not embroiled in the adventure and romance of her latest characters, Karen shares her house in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband, her granddaughter, and four cats.  She has published eight paranormal romance novels, one short story and one young adult novella.  Her second book, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE, was a 1998 RITA Finalist for the Romance Writers of America.  She’s currently at work on a young adult urban fantasy and new romance.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 Special Events, Part 1

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 is just around the corner.  Today, Karen Fox, PPWC Conference Director, shares some Conference extras that you won’t want to miss.  PPWC offers so many extras this year that they couldn’t all fit in one post.  Check back for more Special Events at PPWC 2018.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


The Pikes Peak Writers Conference will run from April 27-29, 2018 with the full-day prequel on April 26, 2018.  But there’s more than that.  Here is information on some of the special events we’re offering that you’ll likely want to participate in as well (part 1 of 2).

Aside from over 40 workshops covering all aspects of commercial fiction writing, PPWC offers a chance to query a buying editor or agent or to visit with renowned published authors.   You’ll also have the opportunity to sit with these editors, agents and fantastic speakers at the meals.  The conference price includes seven meals throughout the weekend.  (Did I mention prime rib on Saturday night? Yum.)

 

Stitch, Pitch and Color

Start off your conference on Thursday night, 26 April 2018 by spending some time with Sourcebooks Editorial Director, Deb Werksman for Stitch, Pitch and Color.  This will be relaxing opportunity in the hotel library where attendees can pitch their works, knit or crochet along with Deb, or bring in a coloring book or other non-messy craft to share the time.  Even if you’re shy, this is a great opportunity to eavesdrop on an industry-knowledgeable editor while keeping your hands busy.

 

Zebulon Winners -Past and Present – Mix and Mingle

Are you a PPWC Contest winner?  The Pikes Peak Writers Conference has offered a writing contest for unpublished writers for decades.  Known at one time as the Paul Gillette Contest for Excellence in Fiction Writing, the Zebulon, as it’s now known, recognizes the talents of writers every year in a variety of genres.  This year, the conference has decided to open up a slot in the Eagles Nest room before the Contest Awards Banquet on Saturday night to allow all contest winners–past and present–to mingle and share in their experience of winning these awards.  Who has gone on to sell?  Who has an agent?  What secrets are there to maximizing this experience?  Networking and sharing information are two of the most valuable assets a writer can take away from a conference.

Fortune Pen Scholarship Fundraiser

The conference on-site fundraising opportunities go toward filling the scholarships for the next year and supporting the conference so we can bring in even better faculty, workshops and activities.    One way an attendee can help out this year is to buy a $10.00 PPWC fortune pen.  A $10.00 pen, you say?!! But this is no ordinary pen–inside is a piece of paper that lets you know which one of a wide montage of amazing prizes you might have won (all valued $10.00 and up).  There could be books on craft or fiction.  There could be a free night at the Marriott.  There could be wine.  Or a 50-page critique from an attending editor or agent.  Or a free prequel for 2019.  An attendee has to purchase a pen to find out.

 

Blind Date with a Book

Do you judge a book by its cover?  Most of us tend to do that.  Well, now you have to pick a book to read without seeing the cover.  The second fundraising opportunity at conference allows an attendee to go on a “Blind Date with a Book.”  For a donation, an attendee can get a book wrapped in brown-paper with only a short synopsis and genre on it.   Might be a mystery.  Or thriller.  Or science fiction.  Or romance.  But which one?

Keep looking for part 2 of this blog, which will detail even more on this year’s PPWC extra activities.


Karen is PPWC 2018 Conference Director.  When not embroiled in the adventure and romance of her latest characters, Karen shares her house in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband, her granddaughter, and four cats.  She has published eight paranormal romance novels, one short story and one young adult novella.  Her second book, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE, was a 1998 RITA Finalist for the Romance Writers of America.  She’s currently at work on a young adult urban fantasy and new romance.

SaveSave

Meet the Member – Ana Crespo

Today, Kathie Scrimgeour (aka KJ Scrim), Meet the Member and Sweet Success editor, shares her recent interview with member Ana Crespo.  We’re pleased to share successes and highlight our diverse membership.  Kathie can be reached at  ppwsweetsuccess@gmail.com.


 

KJ Scrim: What inspired you to write children’s books?

Ana Crespo: When I had my first child, I couldn’t find any books featuring Brazilian characters or culture.  At the time, that was okay, because English is not my first language, so I was learning new words everyday by reading to my daughter. We did have Brazilian books sent to us from relatives. However, by the time my second child was born, about seven years later, it started to bother me. I wanted my kids to be able to share some of their cultural background with their friends. I wanted them to see themselves in books, to feel they were represented. I was always very creative and decided to give writing for children a try. My first book in English, THE SOCK THIEF: A SOCCER STORY, was inspired by my father’s childhood memories.

KJ: What is the general process for getting a children’s book from your desk to publication?

Ana: First and foremost, you have to write it.  It is amazing the number of people who tell me they have an idea for a book, it is a great idea, and etcetera, but they never sit down to write it. And, as with any other project, you must revise it, share it with critique partners, revise it more, and repeat the process as many times as necessary. Then, ideally, you find an agent who will submit your book to the many publishers that, currently, do not accept unagented submissions. In my case, however, with THE SOCK THIEF: A SOCCER STORY, and the MY EMOTIONS AND ME series, I didn’t have an agent. I met my editor during a conference, very much like the one offered by PPW. I had a paid critique with her. She enjoyed THE SOCK THIEF, although she had a variety of concerns and comments about it. I made most of the changes she suggested, cut a lot of words, and a month after submission, I had an offer.

KJ: What are a few of the challenges you face when writing children’s books?

Ana: When you only write picture books and don’t illustrate them, you face a variety of challenges. First, you have to write with illustrations in mind, even though you are not going to be the person illustrating the book. That means that you must leave out detailed descriptions, as they will usually be depicted by the pictures that do not exist yet. On that same page, there may be key information for the plot that will be relayed to the reader only via the illustrations.  Illustration notes can be a tricky subject in picture book writing, because not all editors like seeing them. You must save them for those times in which they are extremely necessary. As an example, JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS is told in first person. The boy, JP, imagines the octopus, but the octopus is really a car wash. Of course, in order to explain to the editor what the story was about, illustration notes were necessary. In sum, the way I see it, picture books are the product of a team. As the writer, I am just the first step in that collaboration. And that in itself, might be a challenge for some writers.

KJ: You were born in Brazil. How does this influence J.P. and Felipe, the two main characters of your books?

Ana: I don’t think my Brazilian roots influenced the JP character. However, Felipe’s story is based on my father’s childhood memories. My father and uncle used to take my grandmother’s stockings to make soccer balls. They weren’t poor, but it was the early 60s, cheap soccer balls weren’t common, and they were a family of seven. They stuffed my grandmother’s stockings with newspaper and spent a long time playing soccer in the backyard or on the streets of Rio. This was a widespread practice. Even Pelé, Brazil’s most famous player, played with newspaper-stuffed soccer balls when he was a child in the 40s. So, Felipe’s resourcefulness is something I find to be very characteristic of Brazilians.

KJ: One of your book series is about J.P. who says, “I am fast. I am strong. I am brave. But sometimes I feel afraid.” What inspired this as his mantra?

Ana: The JP books were inspired by a trip to the car wash with my son. He was terrified of it, partially because his mom (guilty!) pretended they were going into a monster’s cave. The beginning of the story is basically the same in every book of the series. JP is learning how to deal with his feelings. In JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS, he learns how to deal with fear. In the next book, JP AND THE POLKA-DOTTED ALIENS, he learns how to deal with anger, so the character says, “Sometimes I feel angry,” a line that will lead into what causes him to be angry and how he will deal with it.

KJ: What advice would you give a writer who was just getting started in writing children’s books?

Ana: If you plan to write picture books, I’d say the most important thing to do is to find an organization that focuses on them. That will help you understand the industry, lead you to like-minded people and, hopefully, connect you to critique partners. We often hear people say, “Oh, I could have written this,” but writing picture books is a bit more complicated than it looks like, and you will need all the help you can get.


ana crespoAna Crespo is the winner of the 2016 International Latino Book Award for The Sock Thief in the category, Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Books. She is also a member of Pikes Peak Writers for about five years and last year she attended the conference for the first time. She enjoyed volunteering and loved meeting some of the agents and editors.

Website: https://www.anacrespobooks.com/

Social media: www.facebook.com/AnaCrespoBooks, www.twitter.com/AnaCrespoBooks, www.pinterest.com/AnaCrespoBooks

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Marketing at 33,000 Feet

Your novel is written, edited, and published.  Congratulations!  Now, about that marketing plan of yours… Today Christine Goff shares some valuable insight about marketing your book outside of your hometown while keeping an eye on expense.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


Marketing at 33,000 Feet

Promoting a book outside your local area almost always involves planes, trains and automobiles, and usually entails spending vast sums of money that you’ll technically never earn back in a signing.

So why do it? you ask.

There are reasons to go on the road, but it needs to be done with some forethought.

 

Figure out your goals. 

Everyone’s goals are different. In my case, I wanted to expand my audience. I considered doing a bookstore-to-bookstore tour, but I’m not good at sitting at a table and hawking my book. Only certain stores have authors speak. Because of that, I chose to focus on fan conventions and strategic outreach (bookstores in the area where the cons were being held, mailings to specialty book stores, etc.).

My advice, define your goals. Everyone comes at this from different stages in our careers. We’re all after different things. Ask yourself, what do you want to get out of attending? Are you looking for an agent? Do you want to connect with other authors or with fans? Do you intend to promote your latest release? Do you want to make connections in the community? How do you best interact with readers?

Once you have the answers, you’ll find there are hundreds of bookstores and a myriad of writer conventions.

 

Establish a Budget. 

Based on my book advance and my goals, I determined I was willing to spend $5,000 on promoting RED SKY. That included expenditures for swag, giveaways, book signings and conferences. It seems like a lot of money. In truth, $5,000 doesn’t stretch all that far.

 

Nail down your schedule. 

I started locally with a signings in Denver and Evergreen (my hometown). Friends, family and local fans get first consideration. Then I committed to the following: the American Library Association’s Annual Convention (ALA) in June in Chicago, ThrillerFest in July in New York City, and Bouchercon in October in Toronto.

Why these three events? you ask.

In addition to spreading out on the calendar, these three events offered the best opportunity to get my books and myself in front of a lot of people.

ALA – libraries constitute a large market. Who wouldn’t want to see their books in libraries all over the United States? Sisters in Crime (SinC) sponsors a booth, and all I needed to do was sign up for a one hour time slot, giveaway books, and pass out swag.

ThrillerFest – this convention is devoted specifically to thrillers, and its location (New York City) allowed me to meet with my agent and editor.

Bouchercon – this is the world mystery convention and draws the largest number of fans. Plus, because of its location this year, it could introduce my books to a Canadian fan base.

 

Calculate expenses.

Now is the time to be honest. We’ve all heard of author tours where publishers fly their authors from city-to-city to sign books and meet fans. It rarely, if ever, happens these days. In most cases you will be expected to buy your own plane ticket, pick up your own hotel room, and pay for your own meals. You will also need to contact booksellers to make sure they have your books in the bookstore and order swag to promote your work. The more you can setup and/or do ahead of time, the better.

But, I digress. Extrapolating my costs, I allotted myself $1,000 each for ALA and Bouchercon and $3,000 for ThrillerFest. There was my $5,000 right there and I hadn’t even bought promo materials or factored in mailings, local travel and giveaways. My budget was blown!

 

The bottom line.

I debated cut out one of the conventions, but in the end chose to forge ahead. All of these were important to me, so I decided to tighten the belt instead. I flew at inconvenient hours, and shared a room.

So how did I do? you ask.

ALA cost me a total of $1,042.19 with no tangible return on my dollars. But that is where the intangible kicks in. I may have only signed and given away 50 copies of RED SKY (which I talked my publisher into donating), but I put hundreds of cards into the hands of interested librarians from all over. Some I’ve even heard from.

ThrillerFest cost me a total of $2,407.55, and I signed a grand total of two books. But, I was able to spend one-on-one time with my editor, my publicist and my agent; managed to get my books ordered into The Mysterious Bookshop; and was on a great panel moderated by David Morrell.

Bouchercon ran $947.87, and I signed a grand total of five or six copies. I also met the proprietor of The Sleuth of Baker Street, reconnected with three other booksellers, attended the Crooked Lane annual bash, and was introduced to a packed room of Canadian readers while sitting next to Peter Robinson, one of Canada’s bestselling authors.

 

The grand total.

All in all, I spent $4,397.61 promoting RED SKY, leaving me extra for swag, local travel and giveaways. Not bad!

But was it worth it? 

Yes. For me it’s the intangible benefits that come from having personal interactions with someone who’s read my book and loved it. It’s the connections made at conventions that landed me an agent, several book contracts, and innumerable high-profile bookstore signings, guest blog spots, library talks and keynote speaker gigs. Through a concerted effort, I’ve upped my profile, generated buzz about my books, and achieved my goals.

Then, just when I thought I could put the suitcase away….


Chris Goff is an award-winning author of eight novels. Her most recent, RED SKY, is an international thriller set in Ukraine and Asia where DSS Agent Raisa Jordan tests the boundaries of diplomacy as she races to prevent the start of a new Cold War. Goff’s series debut, DARK WATERS, was nominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award and Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook.

Website: www.christinegoff.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christinegoff

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorchristinegoff/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chris_goff_author

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Cover Reveal – Darby Karchut’s Del Toro Moon

Del Toro Moon Book Cover

Please join me in congratulating Pikes Peak Writers member Darby Karchut and cover artist Risa Rodil as we take part in the cover reveal for Darby’s Del Toro Moon, due out this fall.   [ed]


Bad enough Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in the family’s centuries-old business: riding down and destroying wolf-like creatures, known as skinners. He must also learn how to match his father’s skills at monster hunting. Odds of doing that? Yeah, about a million to one. Because Matt’s father is the legendary Javier Del Toro—hunter, scholar, and a true caballero: a gentleman of the horse.

Now, with the skinners multiplying, both in numbers and ferocity, Matt is desperate to keep his father and hot-tempered older brother from killing each other, prevent his new friend, Perry—a horse-crazy girl who recently moved to their small town of Huerfano, Colorado—from discovering the true nature of his odder-than-oddball family, and save a group of paleontologists from getting skinner-ed.

Luckily, Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky Mountains.

Serious horse power.

Those skinners don’t stand a chance.  

Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut

Coming September 2018 from Owl Hollow Press

Middle Grade fantasy

www.darbykarchut.com

www.owlhollowpress.com

Goodreads


The cover was designed by Risa Rodil ( www.risarodil.com ) a popular MG/YA book cover artist. Her other clients include Disney, Nickelodeon TV, Penguin Random House, and Harper Collins.


Darby Karchut is a multi-award winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy at her writing desk. Her books include the best selling middle grade series: THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. Best thing ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film.

SaveSave

Meet the Member – Matt Bille

Today, Kathie Scrimgeour (aka KJ Scrim), Meet the Member and Sweet Success editor, shares her recent interview with member Matt Bille.  We’re pleased to share successes and highlight our diverse membership.  Kathie can be reached at  ppwsweetsuccess@gmail.com.


 

KJ Scrim: You newest book, Raven’s Quest was just released in December 2017. How does it feel to see a project come to fruition?

Matt Bille: This always feels great to a writer because it means you can start the next project or turn full attention to one you’ve left in limbo.  I and my wife/coauthor Deb tried to bring back C.S. Lewis-style fantasy adventure with an underlying Christian/family theme, and I think we nailed it. Readers will let us know.

KJ Scrim: You write both fiction as well as non-fiction. In your creative process, how are they different? Similar?

Matt Bille: That’s an interesting question because I write science and history, both of which require that you research from the origins of idea on through the latest developments or, in the case of space history, the most recent declassifications of documents that may have lain in government vaults for decades.  With nonfiction, I’ll craft each chapter as a go along, with all documented information included or reference.  With fiction, I do some research at the start to know what’s possible, but then what matters is getting a whole, coherent story down. If I need to know what brand of snowmobile is most popular around Lake Iliamna, I don’t need that right now, I can use a generic name and fill it in later.

Characters are different because you have to invent them instead of borrowing them from history, but there’s still an overlap.  The antagonist in Apex borrows a lot from wealthy adventurer Steve Fossett, only with no ethics.

KJ Scrim: You have been a former Air Force Titan II ICBM commander, an extra in the film 1941, along with many other endeavors. How have these influenced your writing? (feel free to use any other examples).

Matt Bille: Everything in life helps you write. My most acclaimed nonfiction, The First Space Race, wouldn’t have been possible without the time in the Air Force. I’ve always been a space geek, but Titan training included learning, in painstaking detail, all the components of a rocket and its support infrastructure.  When it was time to write the history of the first satellites, I could look at a diagram of an old rocket and explain its features to non-engineers like myself. A film or TV extra doesn’t learn much about the production process, but it does teach you to think of the whole scene, the way the director must, and not just the actors in the foreground.

KJ Scrim: Do you have any “self-help for writers” books that you use regularly? How do they help? Please share your list of your top 2 or 3.

Matt Bille: For novelists, find an old one called How to Write Best-Selling Fiction by Dean Koontz. The industry has changed, but the principles haven’t.  Maas’ The Fire in Fiction is the best of his many books, or so it seems to me. If you are not by nature a strict grammarian, you need Elements of Style.  You can break grammatical rules in fiction, but you must know what they are. King’s On Writing is valuable for King’s discussions of how to focus on the basics of your story and minimize the “fluff.”


Matt Bille has been writing since he was 16 when he sold a little humor piece to his local newspaper, then went on to publish his first book, Rumors of Exsitence,  in 1996. Matt has been with PPW since the 90’s and has only missed two conferences since he became a member. He had his great moment in nonfiction, when he offered Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson a copy of The First Space Race at a symposium and Tyson replied, “I have that.”

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave