PPW News

Colorado Writers Collaborative Offers a Free Conference-lite

In a year when so many writers conferences had to be cancelled, Pikes Peak Writers joined forces with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers to present the Colorado Writers Collaborative. This is a free YouTube channel going live September 1st and offering over thirty videos for writers covering topics ranging from writing vivid settings to negotiating media deals. Learn from NYT bestselling authors like Rachel Howzell Hall, John Gilstrap, and Bob Mayer; local favorites like Carol Berg, Stant Latore, and Johnny Worthen; editors Tiffany Yates Martin and Anita Mumm, and many, many others. Now, you can have a conference-esque experience for free without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. Enjoy!


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.

Tone Down the Drama – Please!

By: Donna Schlachter

Last month we talked about not having too much harmony in our story, and I shared ways to make sure the harmony we do have isn’t boring. Also, I shared about making sure the characters, the storyline, the plot, and the theme need to align so nothing and nobody is out of place. Readers sense that, even if they don’t know exactly what the problem is.

This month we’ll talk about having too much conflict, or tension, and not enough harmony, or downtime. Readers need a break once in a while. And we should give it to them. Not long enough for them to lose interest, yawn, and turn out the light, of course. Just enough to let them think we’re finally going to give the character a break.

Amp it Up!

And then we amp it up again.

But this isn’t about story arc, black moments, or crises. Or is it?

Every element of our story should play into and work on the story arc, the character’s journey, and all the elements of a good book. But too much of a good thing can detract from the reader’s enjoyment of the story, leading to confusion and a desire to never read another of our books.

Conflict, as we know, is at the heart of every story. Even a simple romance needs conflict to keep the love interests apart until the end of the book.

That said, depending on which theory you subscribe to, there are five or six kinds of story conflict possible in any book. I’ll list the six below:

  • Person against person – the most common type of conflict; can be relational, romantic, emotional, theological, issue-related, political, or a host of other options. Both persons should be strong enough to overcome the other, with the hero/heroine possessing some trait that helps them win in the end.
  • Person against nature – often the character is on their own and has to find a way to overcome the situation; if in a group, the sum total of the character’s skills should be able to overcome the natural force, so long as they work together.
  • Person against self – could be a fear, an addiction, a difficult past, or a tendency to choose wrong relationships. There must be a desire to overcome their situation, and often a mentor or romantic interest comes alongside to help in the journey.
  • Person vs society – the hero/heroine comes to the aid of a victim of a real or perceived injustice
  • Person vs technology – we often see this in science-based fiction or world-building fiction; can be real (existing) technology, or futuristic; steam punk is often found in this conflict
  • Person vs supernatural – can include imagined supernatural such as shape-shifters, or it could include ghosts, demons, gods, goddesses, aliens, and the like.

Chicken Wings

I know there are some of you saying, “But I hate conflict, and I don’t like to write it.” I get it. When I think of conflict, I envision prima donas, shouting matches, snippy comebacks, and the like. Seinfeld on steroid.

However, conflict in books doesn’t have to be like that. You can write about conflict between characters while staying true to your character, which is actually very important.

I’ll use an example. We recently went to Lambert’s Café in Sikeston, Missouri. I wanted fried chicken wings, so I asked the server what constituted a heaping platter, as the menu advertised. She said four wings. I said that wasn’t a heaping platter where I come from (thinking ten or twelve wings. I was hungry.) She said she figured I’d be full because of the two sides and the pass arounds. I said I’d be the judge of that, thinking she was trying to fill me up with non-chicken wing things. Well, when the plate came, it had four wings not much smaller than my hand in length. Four full wings, eight pieces. And yes, I took home food that night.

All that to say, there’s chicken wings – which I discovered when I went to a buffet a few days later, and they were obviously substituting sparrow’s wings for chicken wings – and there’s Chicken Wings. Conflict doesn’t have to be a knock-em-down-drag-it-out fight. Conflict isn’t always a fight to the death. Sometimes, you can simply foreshadow that something bad might happen.

Or, you can have a character be really indecisive about a direction they need to take. That creates conflict for the reader as they worry through the choices along with the character. How they deal with this says something about them.

You can use setting (as in people vs. nature) to create tension by placing your character in a dangerous situation, and how they work out of that pickle helps them grow as a person.

End a scene or chapter with a question. That creates tension for your reader and your character. This keeps the reader reading and the character moving forward. If your main character isn’t motivated to solve a problem, you’re going to have a difficult time writing a book about nothing.

Not Too Much Conflict

BUT – and there’s always one, isn’t there?—too much conflict will keep your character reacting instead of responding. Too much conflict will wear down your readers because they never get a chance to sit back and draw a breath, which, as we know, is the perfect place to then put them in more peril. Too much conflict makes the story something it isn’t, perhaps. Yes, thrillers and high concept books have lots of action, but it isn’t always conflict. It might lead to the next tense scene, and readers of these books expect that, but even those stories have moments where the characters settle down, have a meal, reminisce, or make a plan for the next big thing.

For example, while a shootout between the sheriff and the outlaws makes for good conflict, readers don’t want to stick in that scene for the entire book. Something must happen that leads the characters and the story on their arcs to the ultimate conclusion.

There is a difference between internal and external conflict, and each type impacts the main character(s) in different ways. We don’t only want our characters to grow in their skills, we want to see them grow as people. For the scoffer to find something to believe in. For the deadbeat to finally find a cause. For the sceptic to understand the meaning of whatever they’re seeking. For the cynic to find true love. For the loner to find family.

When it comes to internal and external conflict, remember that internal conflict changes the person, while external conflict changes the story world. We need both in our stories, because if there is only internal conflict, you’re making it emotionally harder for the character to resolve the story arc. Don’t focus on the internal conflict except as to how it keeps the character from overcoming the external conflict and achieving the external goal.

Next month, we’ll talk more about character arc and character change, particularly as it relates to Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

6 Story Conflicts Possible in Your Book
Writing Conflict in Stories When You Hate Conflict

Donna Schlachter, Headshot

A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. She humbly admits she doesn’t always get the number of characters perfect, so she often spends a lot of time re-writing.

Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!


Sweet Success for John Spencer

By: Darby Karchut

Congratulations to John Spencer on the recent release of his non-fiction book, CONNECTED SOLDIERS: LIFE, LEADERSHIP, AND SOCIAL CONNECTIONS IN MODERN WAR (Potomac Books, July 2022). This soldier’s memoir is packed full of lessons and stories of leading and living in a world of constant virtual connections and social media.

Connected Soldiers, By: John Spencer


John Spencer was a new second lieutenant in 2003 when he parachuted into Iraq leading a platoon of infantry soldiers into battle. During that combat tour, he learned how important unit cohesion was to surviving war, both physically and mentally. He observed that this cohesion developed as the soldiers experienced the horrors of combat as a group, spending their downtime together and processing their shared experiences.

When Spencer returned to Iraq later to take command of a troubled company, he found his lessons on building unit cohesion were no longer applicable. Rather than bonding as a group, soldiers now spend their downtime separately, online communicating with family back home. Spencer began to see the internet as a threat to unit cohesion, but when he returned home and his wife was deployed, the internet connected him and his children to his wife daily. Purchase a copy via Amazon, Potomac Books, or the author’s website.

John Spencer, Headshot


John Spencer is an award-winning scholar, professor, and twenty-five-year combat veteran. Considered the world’s leading expert on many military topics, he served as an advisor to the top four-star general and other senior leaders in the U.S. Army as part of research groups from the Pentagon to the United States Military Academy. Spencer currently serves as the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point. He served as an infantry soldier, Spencer held ranks from Private to Sergeant First Class and Lieutenant to Major. He lives in Colorado Springs. Visit the author at johnspenceronline.com and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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. Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Consistency vs. Routine

By: Bowen Gillings

Routines are death. When I was in the Army, I learned routines are literally death. It’s called operational security (OPSEC). Having a routine, a regular schedule to daily operations, let the enemy know your wheres and whens, and before you knew it, kablooey! Having a routine in daily life can make your creativity and productivity go kablooey. Consistency, on the other hand, is what publishers demand, readers want, and writers need.

Allow me to clarify the terms. Routine is patterned behavior. It’s the realm of day planners and iPhone Reminders. It’s multi-colored calendar entries that follow the same Roy G. Biv arrangement week-in and week-out. Consistency is meeting deadlines. Consistency is regular, high-quality production on time and on target. Consistency is the goal. Routine is the crutch.

Routine is patterns. Consistency is production.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “My routine is how I consistently produce.” Many can’t imagine finishing a manuscript without the structure of routine to lean on. You guard your daily writing time like Cerberus at the gates of Hades. You find comfort in knowing what the morning will bring or solace in seeing your word count at the day’s end. Routine works for you. It’s comfy and nice and would never hurt you the way Cindy did in high school. I gave you my heart, Cindy!

So, what happens when your routine gets violated? How do you feel when you don’t get the day’s writing (or anything else in the routine) done? Do you beat yourself up? Chastise yourself for “not making writing the priority?” How do you cope and correct? And where do new experiences fit into your routine?

Say you need to learn something new before your character can do it in your story. I don’t know, skydiving perhaps. Where do you fit that into your routine? My bet is that you add skydiving lessons to your iPhone calendar in the color designated for research then mentally flagellate yourself for how it messes with your routine.

I challenge you to ease off your routine fetish and focus on consistency. Consistency is bigger, broader, and allows more wiggle room for life to go freestyle.

Say you want to produce a book per year. You do your research. You pick a release date (give or take a week). That gives you a rough idea about cover reveals and pre-orders and promotions. You know your genre and the word count you’re shooting for.

And so, you write.

You write mornings. You write when everyone’s in bed. You write at coffee shops. You dictate while driving. You write. You edit. You meet your deadlines. You get your book out when you planned.

Along the way you hiked three fourteeners, drove cross-country with a high-school friend, enrolled in a new martial arts school, and learned to play the ukulele alongside your spouse. You also got your kid to the ER when they woke up at two-thirty with a massive bloody nose, you replaced the bathroom flooring after the toilet went tango-uniform, and you dropped everything for a month when your grandparent died.

And you never regretted violating a routine.

Consistency equals freedom.

Freeing oneself from the handcuffs of routine and embracing the true goal of consistency is the path to creative freedom (damn, that sounded evangelical). Like routine, consistency takes discipline and commitment. Unlike routine, consistency gives you the freedom to live without checking the planner first.

Consistency is a life spent open to possibilities while keeping eyes on the prize. It’s okay with stretches of no writing. It embraces those days when five thousand words get added to the work in progress as well as the days when a friend invites you to coffee and you’re only three paragraphs in. Consistency is a mindset of “I will write” versus routine’s rigid dogma of “I must write right now.”

Focusing on consistent production (big picture) provides for a healthier writing life. Routines stagnate or worse, trap you in their familiar, comfortable clutches. Break the shackles of routine. Free yourself from your patterned behavior before your writing life goes kablooey.

Bowen Gillings holding Fresh Starts

A Night to Remember, by: Bowen Gillings

Bowen Gillings is an award-winning author featured in PPW’s first anthology, Fresh Starts, Allegory e-zine, and the Stories Live!, Voices and Views, and Rocky Mountain Writers podcasts. He is an active member and former president of Pikes Peak Writers and a member of both Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and The League of Utah Writers. Bowen loves travel, cooking, martial-arts, and a fine adult beverage. He lives in Colorado with his wife and daughter. Learn more about him and his fun, quirky writing at storiesbybowen.com and be sure to follow the author on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Sweet Success for Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten

By: Darby Karchut

Hats off to Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten! This dynamic team of writers won 2nd place in the National Federation of Press Women Communications (NFPW) Contest in the category of novellas. The award was for the eBook version of LOVE AND LIES: CALL ME EVE (2021 from RhetAskew Publishing). The book was republished in June 2022 by Red Penguin Books in both paperback and Kindle formats. The re-publication contains a new cover, reformatted text, and some slight modifications to the text.


Love and Lies: Call me Eve

She sipped her well-chilled, dry martini, taking extra time before answering. “What . . . how much do I tell him? Just want a distraction. Something to fill an evening.”
Eve was sipping a Fiji Moonrise, the house specialty at Fiji’s Natewa Bay Resort’s water’s edge bar, when an unfamiliar baritone asked, “May I buy you a refill? The evening is far too pleasant to spend alone.” Mark Adams proves to be an irresistible diversion during Eve’s trip home from a conference. But when playtime’s up and planes are departing, Eve doesn’t play fair.
Upon her return, Eve receives an unexpected life-changing event and regrets having lied. Mark is faced with a wounded heart and a nearly insurmountable challenge. Join an exciting adventure where true feelings are the catalyst to propel two star-crossed lovers to find each other … again. Copies may be purchased through Amazon.


Tritten/Hoover headshot

Sandi Hoover and Jim Tritten are an award-winning writing team from New Mexico. Follow Sandi on Facebook and visit her author Amazon page, and on Goodreads. Visit Jim’s author Amazon page as well as follow him on Facebook and Goodreads.



Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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. Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Avoiding Conference Burnout

By Catherine Dilts

If you’ve just attended your first writers conference, you may still be walking on a cloud. You’re inspired and motivated. If you did things right, you’re also a little overwhelmed and exhausted, yet eager to attend again next year.

But if this was your tenth, or you’re attending several conferences a year, the whole experience may be turning a little sour for you.

I had attended PPWC off and on for nearly twenty years. Once I became published, other authors insisted participating in conferences was essential. You had to keep your name out there. Visibility, baby. Be seen.

So I signed up for another in-state conference, Colorado Gold. Because I write mystery, I went to Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, and Killer Nashville. Each was different, drawing either hundreds or thousands of attendees, with emphasis on craft and business, or geared toward fans.

You’ve got to work that conference. Schmooze. Mingle. You know – those things introverts just love to do. Not. So I tried. I got on panels, as a participant or moderator. I signed books. I networked in my own feeble, socially awkward way. And I left conferences drained.

My problem was allowing other peoples’ goals to be my own. You can avoid burn out with advanced planning. Before registering, consider what you hope to gain from the experience.

Goals that may disappoint:

  • Land a contract with a dream agent or publishing house. Sure, it has been done. You should definitely try. None of my “send it” conquests came to fruition, although they did motivate me to continue writing. Pinning the entire point of attending on making a sale may cause you to miss out on learning experiences that will result in future publication.
  • Who wouldn’t want to be fawned over by a public who recognizes your genius? One PPWC, I saw a nearly empty table at dinner. I hurried over, glad to have snagged a seat near the podium. The lone occupant was one of the best-seller keynote speakers. A few other people joined us before the evening program began, but that was a good lesson that even big names can be overlooked at conferences. Another time, I repeated this tactic and sat next to a local author who had made a big sale to a major publisher, only to be virtually ignored by peers at the conference. This author was incredibly grateful I sat at that table, to spare the embarrassment of sitting alone.
  • Sell books. At conferences, everyone is pushing their books. The reality is that few people sell enough books to pay their bar tab, much less their conference attendance. At big conferences, publishers may be giving away books. Bags of free books may cause attendees to question shelling out bucks for your books.

Running yourself ragged promoting yourself can suck the enjoyment right out of a conference. Yes, conferences are a business opportunity. But I can guarantee you’ll get a case of burn out if you don’t have some fun.

Increasingly post-conference, I felt my time would have been better spent actually working on a novel or short story. When I volunteered behind the scenes, appeared on panels, and moderated talks, I spent a ton of time in preparation. It felt too much like work.

Then COVID hit. Conferences abruptly cancelled due to the pandemic. I discovered something about myself during the lockdowns. I am an extreme introvert. While other folks were in a state of panic and depression being socially isolated, I was deliriously happy. For a while.

I still believe conferences are personally and professional beneficial. I plan to jump back in. Before I go, I want to know I won’t leave feeling I wasted my time. I’ll have specific goals.

Goals to avoid conference burn-out:

  • Know your purpose. Why are you attending this particular conference? Proximity to home? Workshops on topics of interest? Is it specific to your genre? Your writing buddies are going? It’s okay if your main purpose is social. Writing is a solitary endeavor. A weekend surrounded by creative people can be invigorating.
  • Set achievable professional goals. Everyone wants to be the next amazing conference success story. Hopefully that happens for you. Until that golden moment though, how about achieving a “send me” from an agent? Learn something about the art and craft of writing that breaks your writer’s block? Receive news about the current state of publishing from actual publishers?
  • Research people in advance. You might run into them in an elevator. Know who the keynote speakers are. Who is teaching the class you’re most interested in attending? Are there agents or editors you want to meet? Put this info in your pre-conference notes. Don’t reach the last hour of the last day in the realization that you failed to meet someone important to you.
  • One of the best ways to network is to help out behind the scenes. Shuttle speakers from the airport. Moderate a panel. Clerk in the conference bookstore. Attend pre-conference planning meetings. But don’t overcommit. Know your time and energy limits.
  • Make it matter. You spent your valuable time and money to attend. Post-conference, review your notes. Follow up on advice or new knowledge gained. Make those contacts, join that critique group, apply new wisdom to your work-in-progress.

I’ve talked it over with my old conference running buddies. We are all in for a return visit to PPWC 2023. You’ll probably find us at the lounge, reminiscing about conferences past.

Conferences mentioned in article:

Multi-genre Conferences- 

Mystery Writers Conferences-


Catherine Dilts headshotCATHERINE DILTS prefers writing cozy mysteries and short stories surrounded by flowers on her sunny deck, but any day – and anywhere – spent writing is a good day. Author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, and the stand-alone Survive Or Die with Encircle Publications, Catherine also writes for Annie’s Publishing, contributing three books for the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library and two for the new Annie’s Museum of Mysteries series. Her short story HazMat Holiday appears in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine January/February 2022 issue.



Sweet Success for Jeanette Minniti

By: Darby Karchut

Congratulations to Jeanette Minniti! Her debut novel, THE ONLY WAY HOME (2021 from Penning Press) recently won the 1st Place Award in Historical Fiction from the Colorado Authors League.


The Only Way Home, By: Jeanette Minniti

Desperate times. Danger on the rails. A journey to save a family.

It is 1933 inside a sweltering courtroom in Macon, Georgia. Fifteen-year-old Robert sits on a bench awaiting sentencing after being picked up for vagrancy and spending a night in jail. He left his home in Illinois with a neighborhood friend to ride the rails and find work to help their families. The friend turned back, too afraid to face the perils ahead. But going back empty-handed isn’t an option for Robert. THE ONLY WAY HOME is the story of one boy’s determination to survive loss and hardship to help his family and how fate and a violin touch the course of his life. Purchase your copy from Amazon, Kobo, IndieBound, and through IngramSparks.


Jeanette Minniti

Jeanette Minniti is an author living in Colorado. She received an MA in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She and her husband enjoy all that Colorado offers, including hiking and biking. Visit Jeanette at JeanetteMinniti.com and follow her on Facebook.





Darby KarchutSweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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. Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Harmony and Conflict – Different Sides of the Same Coin

By Donna Schlachter

Boy finds girl.
Boy falls in love with girl.
Boy marries girl.
The end.


Anybody who’s ever told a joke knows that to keep the listener or reader interested, there has to be a problem, a question, or a problem raised so that the twist/conclusion/punch line offers a solution. In a joke, there is usually an unexpected outcome, which is what makes that short story version humorous. In a novel, while the reader wants a good ending, or at least one that’s unexpected given the circumstances, there has to be something that keeps the boy from getting the girl the first time. Or the second. Or even the third.

Harmony is what happens when we get our happily-ever-after (and yes, HEAs are not limited to romance stories. Readers want an HEA or at least the promise of one in every story where a romance exists. Unless, of course, your story is literary fiction or a tragedy.)

Conflict is what keeps the reader reading and the listener listening. Conflict doesn’t have to appear as bickering or even out-and-out street brawling. Conflict happens when one of the main characters isn’t getting what they want—or what they think they want.

Introduce Conflict and Harmony

We can introduce conflict and harmony into our stories in various ways. Here are a few:

  • Through spoken dialogue, where each character expresses their wants and desires which should be contrary to what the other person wants. Think back to your last discussion with your spouse or friend about where you wanted to eat that night. One wants Indian, the other wants pasta. Conflict. Harmony appears when you reach a compromise: a buffet. Or a salad bar.
  • Through internal dialogue, where you show us what the characters are thinking. The best conflict comes when their spoken dialogue and internal thoughts are contrary to each other. For example, if you say you want to eat pizza, but the other person says curry, you might say, “Okay. Curry is fine with me.” You always get your way. But I’m tired of fighting about it.
  • Through narrative, you can use the setting or surroundings to impact your point of view character. For example, ‘It was a dark and dreary night” could be perfect for a scene where your character planned to go for a walk, and now can’t because the weather isn’t cooperating. Downpouring rain could prevent your hero from rescuing your heroine, building conflict in himself. And in her, when she wonders why he won’t brave a few raindrops to save her. A bright sunny day could build conflict in a character whose mother is being buried today. Or harmony in a woman whose abusive husband is being buried today.
  • Through occupations or skill sets, you can have characters who solve problems (create harmony) using what they know. For example, if your hero is a race car driver, he could get the heroine away from bad guys by outdriving them. And if your heroine is a doctor, she could fix up the hero when he gets shot. But if your story is about finding lost gold in a hidden mine, none of their skills would help out. Which could create conflict. So then they invite somebody else in to help, who turns out to be a bad guy who shoots the hero and leaves them for dead. Now their skills can come in handy again. So you went from harmony to conflict to harmony again.

Don’t get me wrong—harmony and conflict belong in the same story—even in the same scene. You might even treat a scene like a mini-story – harmony (current world) to conflict (inciting incident) to new harmony (resolution). However, while you don’t want to write every scene like that, these mini-breaks from the conflict are a place where readers will exhale, relax, and continue reading. That’s a great place to slap them in the face again with another problem, question, or serious choice to be made.

Readers want to be satisfied with the ending, yet surprised. Like a punchline in a joke, they like to look at the world differently because of your story. Keep them reading by employing some of these harmony and conflict techniques, and they’ll come back for more.


Conflict is the Driving Force of a Good Story

Character and Background: Harmony and Conflict

Donna Schlachter, Headshot

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both.

www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter
Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/donna-schlachter
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=donna+schlachter


Helping Author Friends

By: Trista Herring Baughman

Occasionally, I witness a rallying call to support local businesses. It’s a nice gesture, one I’d like to see more often. I prefer to shop local when I can: farmers’ markets, locally-owned specialty stores, mom-and-pop restaurants, etc.

I don’t think authors generally come to mind when we speak of local small businesses, but they should. Indie authors, especially. Their books are their business. Writing, formatting, marketing, and publishing are all their responsibility.

When you write a book, it’s a part of you that you’re setting out into the world.  It isn’t as much about the money as it is impacting your readers. But money pays the bills and allows you to continue your writing passion, so there’s that.

It’s a common misconception that authors make tons of money. Well-known authors such as J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine probably do. The majority of authors aren’t there, just yet. I don’t know many authors that earn enough to write books for a living.

Most self-publishing authors make more per book in royalties, but typically sell less.

Let’s say you self-publish a full-color, 32-page book on KDP and sell it for $7.99 (The minimum price is $6.08). $3.65 goes to printing. Estimated royalties are $1.14 per book; the rest goes to KDP.

You’ll have to sell many copies to get a decent paycheck. To sell many copies, you need a marketing plan, which, you guessed it, takes more money.

As you can see, your author friends could really use your help.

Whether your friends are traditional or indie authors, here’s a few simple ways to be supportive.

  1. Buy their books. This one seems obvious. When I released my first book, I was so excited. I shared it on social media and told all my friends. I even booked a few signings around my local area. I gave out a few complimentary copies to select friends and family who congratulated me and were excited for me. But only a handful of those actually bought a copy, shared my posts, or came to events. Less than a handful reviewed my book. You may be thinking, “Well, maybe your book sucks.” Don’t think I didn’t wonder that myself. But it doesn’t suck. I came to find out that other authors (amazing authors) had this exact same problem. I think family and friends simply don’t realize all the different ways they can help. So, if your author friend has a book, buy it for yourself or as a gift for someone you know. Books make great gifts for all occasions! You could even grab a copy for your local little free library!
  2. Share their website. Like, follow, and share their pages and posts on social media: Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Instagram, etc. This will boost their visibility on these platforms and increase the chances of reaching more potential readers. Follow their blog, visit their website for updates. Leave a comment. All of these small things are huge to your author friends.
  3. Review and star their books. Did you like their book? Let someone know! Word of mouth is a great way to get more readers. Sites like GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble are great places to star and share reviews. It will only take up a little bit of time, even if you do all three! (No reason why you can’t copy and paste the same review). Five star reviews will help their book pop up in more search results. Think of it as a gift that keeps on giving.
  4. Add their books to your “reading” or “want to read” shelves on GoodReads. The more shelves their books are on, the more newsfeed they get into.
  5. Tell them personally what you like (or dislike) about their book. Authors need honest feedback! They will appreciate your praise or constructive criticism.
  6. Volunteer to be a beta reader. Beta readers read the book before anyone else and offer feedback. This may be notes on grammar errors or plot holes, or it could just be your overall opinion of the book. Before you offer to be a beta reader, get the details. How long is the book? Will you need to read the whole book or only part of it? When is the deadline? If you have the time, set a reminder on your phone so you won’t leave them hanging. If you think you won’t have the time, respectfully decline. Saying you will when you won’t is the opposite of helpful.
  7. Send some good old-fashioned snail mail. You can make an author’s day by writing to say what you thought of their book.
  8. Request a copy of their book at your local library and bookstore. If they already carry it, ask anyway! It may inspire the librarian or sales person to read the book themselves or recommend it to others. If enough people request a title, bookstores may order a few for their shelves.
  9. Go to their events. Show your support by stopping by with your copy of their book to book signings or festivals. There is nothing sadder than a book signing where no one shows up.

Whether you’re a writer yourself or not, you can do these things for your author friends. But there’s even more you can do if you are a writer, too.

Writers Helping Writers can…

  1. Interview your author friends for your blog.
  2. Review their books on your blog.
  3. Invite them to your writer’s group or start one with them.
  4. Carpool to a writer’s conference. This is a good way to network and learn valuable trade skills. It’s always nice to have a friend when learning.
  5. Host workshops to lend your expertise to fellow writers. Invite your writer friends.
  6. Mentor a new/struggling writer.

These are just a few ways to help your author friends. They are an excellent place to start. I think you will find that helping others will make you feel great, too!

Trista Herring Baughman

Trista Herring Baughman is a proud military wife and a homeschool mama.  She isthe author of The Magic Telescope. Her second book, Zombiesaurs, will be available soon at Barnes & Noble Press. You can find out more about her books on her website, or catch up to Trista on Facebook.


Sweet Success for Trista Herring Baughman

Hooray – the wait is over! Trista Herring Baughman’s third book, ZOMBIESAURS, just recently released. This scary, fun picture book is hand-illustrated by Trista and her sons, Robby (11) and Johnathan (8), and contains information on the prehistoric creatures depicted in the book. If you love zombies, dinosaurs, or spooky bedtime stories, this book is for you! Pick up a copy from Amazon.

Zombiesaurs, By: Trista Herring Baughman


In a jungle on an island that is way far out to sea…
Something’s waiting in the shadows,
Come and take a look with me.
Inside this book you’re going to find a terrifyingly spooky rhyme
It’s creepy, spine-tingling, one of a kind.
It may even keep you up past your bedtime.
Good night, sleep tight.
Don’t let the Zombiesaurs bite!

Trista Herring Baughman


Trista Herring Baughman is a star-gazing, pirate-loving, dinosaur digging, country girl, children’s author, and blogger. She grew up in Mississippi, where she met her high-school sweetheart. They are now married and have lived in Nebraska and Louisiana with their sons and critters. Visit Trista at https://booksbytrista.wordpress.com/ and follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Darby Karchut

Sweet Success is coordinated by Darby Karchut who is an 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. Click here to submit your Sweet Success Story.

Injecting Humor into Your Novel and Characters

By: Georgiana Hall (G.G. Hall)

Let’s face it. After 2 years of Covid-related lockdowns, sadness, restrictions, and whatever else, we all need a good laugh. So, as I was working on that fifth revision of the tenth book in my series about dwarf two-headed red aliens who landed in Nashville to overtake Tastee Freeze, I decided it was time to consider putting a little humor into my work. As writers with endless amounts of talent, we all know this is easy. Of course it is, right? Well sort of. So how can you tickle your readers’ funny bones without going off the deep end?

Back away from your keyboard for a few minutes and ask yourself- who are my characters? Why are they unique? Is there something about one of them that just maybe would make someone laugh? Suppose for a moment that one of your characters is a tall, exceptionally beautiful blonde woman. She has striking pale blue eyes that match the color of the Colorado sky on a clear day. We have a vivid image of this woman in our heads but what happens when she walks?

Giving this character a name just for fun, let “Alice” be the beautiful woman who looks fabulous in an evening gown but cannot walk three feet in high heels. Instead of letting Alice fall and get injured why not describe her “trials and tribulations” of ambulating in 3-inch spike heels in the snow. Will her heels get stuck? Will she curse her way to the door? Or will she kick off her heels, hold up her head and tiptoe barefoot in the freezing cold flakes of powdery snow? Somewhere in describing all of this, we realize that despite Alice’s elegance, she has just enough clumsiness in her gait to make this a funny scene. By focusing on one small physical flaw or mistake we have now captured our readers’ hearts and tickled their funny bones.

Once again, take a step away from your computer screen and look out the window this time. Where does your novel take place? In a house? A forest? A castle? What is one thing in that setting that you could turn into a “humorous moment?” I remember a scene in a movie one time where the staircase had a wobbly banister pole at the top of the stairs. It drove the main character nuts. One day out of the blue, he decided to fix this nagging pole by suddenly firing up a chain saw and cutting the wobbly part off. As he yelled out “Pole is fixed,” the entire audience burst out laughing.

Is there something in your setting that is broken down? Makes noise? Take that stair or door or window and mock its problem. Is it a creak or a crack or a wobble? Sometimes just the slightest noise can be tremendously funny when the author focuses on it and attempts to describe or fix it in an unusual way.

What about an object in your scene that is just absolutely ugly? A chair? A wall? A car? I remember once trying my best to describe a pink kitchen. But “pink” is such a boring word. So I asked myself, “What reminds me of pink?” And the light went on in my head. Pepto-Bismol.

Yes, that’s quite pink and certainly is probably an image that most readers will never forget. And guess what? It probably made you snicker as you read it. So in describing the color of an object (or even a character’s hair!) get creative. Instead of saying “deep forest green” try something like “it was greener than the stinkiest swamp in Louisiana.” I would be willing to bet that it will make your reader giggle and remember the color of that hideous chair in the corner.

I hope this has given you a few ideas and maybe they will invoke a tiny bit of light-hearted laughter from a reader.  So, the next time I am sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport waiting for my twice-delayed flight, I look forward to laughing out loud as I read your next novel. And don’t worry about the aliens, all they wanted at Tastee Freeze was frozen custard.

Georgiana Hall (GG Hall)

Georgiana Hall (“G.G. Hall”) is the author of the novel Hershey- A Tale of a Curious House Rabbit and the sequel, Trouble in the Attic. A retired physics and astronomy professor, she has written numerous editorials which have appeared in USA Today, the Miami Herald and others. She and her rabbit novels were featured in an article by pet columnist Sharon Peters in a USA Today article in January 2011.

She and husband Oren, also a retired professor, share their Colorado springs home with 2 cats, a rabbit and 3 birds. Currently, G.G. is  working on a third Hershey novel as well as several other young adult novels.