Nature in Colorado

Well, it’s finally time to return to the things worth paying attention to.

God’s creation is absolutely wonderful, and Colorado has plenty of it to offer. As terrible as the floods and fires have been, Colorado is not only home to hell and high water. There is still much beauty and fascination to be had at the feet of the Rocky Mountains. Here’s just a little of it that I managed to photograph. I hope you enjoy it. By all means, go outdoors and see what early autumn is bringing your way.

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Lilacs.

Lilacs.

I think this is a young spadefoot toad.

I think this is a young spadefoot toad.

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A small tiger salamander.

A small tiger salamander.

An unusual moth.

An unusual moth.

Have a lovely day, and God bless!

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Apocalypse Springs: A Zombie Novel With A Twist

Lots of writers and artists like using Kickstarter as a platform to get people excited and spread the word about their project, and to fund it financially. And now my longtime friend and fellow writer Rob Killam has begun a new Kickstarter project, a zombie novel unlike any I’ve ever heard of.

The title: Apocalypse Springs: Reanimation

The pitch: “The apocalypse comes to Colorado Springs, and a crippled, mentally unwell man may be the only hope its survivors have.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something I want to read!

In our writing group he has read aloud several excerpts from this book. The writing and character development are solid, it has a much stronger basis in hard science than most zombie books (Rob is a meticulous researcher), and he plans on telling an epic story through several more volumes.

Not only is Rob a great man, he is a writer committed to telling the best story possible. Every little bit will help him bring this incredible story to life. Or rather, make it undead.

I’ll be backing this project as soon as I have the requisite cash. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in contributing to, be sure to visit his page and check it out. Lots of goodies are promised to the backers of the project, which doesn’t hurt. So, what do you say? Bring the zombies to the foot of Pikes Peak, and help out an author at the same time. It’s a good investment.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1513414342/apocalypse-springs-reanimation-a-long-form-novel

Visual Inspiration, Again

I took some more photos that you can use as writing prompts if you like. Just a quick little post today. I need to get back to my novel’s revisions quickly. Soon I’ll have more time for something more substantial.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

 

The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs

Well, I don’t think anyone in Colorado Springs thought this would happen. The wildfires from Waldo Canyon are spilling out into the city. They have already burned several homes, and landmarks like the Flying W Ranch. It’s a tragedy, but thank God there has been no loss of life.

These are some of the photographs I managed to take of the fire.

The dragons have certainly come to Colorado. Today is not a day I will ever forget.

I hope your prayers and support will be with the people of Colorado Springs, and indeed anywhere else in the state where there are fires. Pray for the mercy of rain, and for the fires to be extinguished quickly.

[Edit, July 09, 2012: as far as I know, the fire has now been contained, and two bodies were discovered in one of the burned down houses. Despite the tragedy of this event, I am glad it has finally been dealt with]

My First Interview

Well, for the first time in my life as a writer, I have officially been interviewed. Rob Killam, good friend and zombie connoisseur extraordinaire, has just had our exchange posted to the Pikes Peak Writers blog. Check it out! It is about my pitch appointment with a literary agent at the PPWC, and I’m glad Rob decided to interview me about it.

http://pikespeakwriters.blogspot.com/2012/05/pitch-under-fire-interview-with-john-k.html

PPWC Additional photos

Continuing the earlier report on the Writers Conference, I wanted to share some photographs I forgot to include in the last post. The costume party had some wild costumes, so just to ease you into the madness I would first like you to meet two wonderful gentlemen: Thriller writer Robert Crais, and sci-fi writer Kevin J. Anderson.

Crais is on the left, and Anderson is on the right. Believe me when I tell you they are two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

This was at a thoroughly agreeable booksigning on Thursday night.

Then the Friday night costume party started up, and that’s when Pikes Peak Writers did the closest thing to Cinco de Mayo that was allowed in the Marriott.

Witches…

…zombies…

…and nuns, oh my!

Good times were had by all. I had a Samwise costume that looked nothing like Samwise. I’m planning on Hellboy next year. More recognizable, that way. 🙂

Right to left: Dick Tracy, Lara Croft, and a logline. Look at his shirt. You’ll get it.

Donald Maass: Boundary-Breaking Fiction

Along with all the mountains — no, continents — of praise I have already thrown onto this blog about the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I have one more. And this is something that shatters that particular boundary, something that needs to reach writers everywhere.

On Saturday, while we enjoyed lunch in the hotel’s elegant ballroom, the man some have called “the Mick Jagger of literary agents” blew us all away with a speech I don’t think anyone in that room will ever forget. Nor can we afford to forget it. Donald Maass, author of the indispensable books for writers Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction, was our keynote speaker for that meal, and spoke of how fiction would change in the twenty-first century.

One of the important points in his address was how the borders between genres are beginning to crumble. The landscape of fiction is starting to blur its own borders. Steampunk is getting blended with science fiction and mystery (Perdido Street Station). Fantasy mingles with alternate history (Temeraire). Horror and urban fantasy meet with teen romance (Twilight). Many of the barriers that kept genre firmly divided are finally breaking down like so many Berlin Walls. Writers are more free to write what they want to write without having to hew to genre conventions.

Another huge issue Maass addressed was that people are still buying books because of two main factors: Word-of-Mouth and In-Store Displays. Some authors, especially if they are self-published, put a truly Herculean effort into trying to convince others to buy their works, slaving away at building social media platforms and trying to market their books like products. And while that is an important part of the business side to writing (and, I think, will take on a larger role in the years to come), I was shocked at the statistics Maass quoted that demonstrate all that effort currently results in less than 2% of overall book sales. Bestseller lists, print newspaper/magazine ads, and book reviews were even more surprising with similarly low numbers. By far, people buy books because they see them in the bookstores (far more titles than you see during an average visit to Amazon), and because their friends recommend the books.

And finally, Maass reminded a room of over 400 writers that the twenty-first century will give us books that will change the world. It can be problematic to call an author “The next Hemingway/Tolkien/Shelley/Doyle,” but there are still plenty of ways a book can affect a generation so powerfully that they become timeless classics. Just look at what’s happened to The Hunger Games. And Maass expressed an inspiring optimism toward the people in that ballroom, saying that we could commit to writing fiction which would still be read and loved a hundred years from now.

The best way for authors to get that kind of recognition is simply this: To write terrific books. The first step of marketing a book is to have a great one in the first place. A difficult task, of course, but it’s essential for lasting success as a writer.

Donald Maass, as a literary agent, is constantly looking for exactly that sort of novel. He wants to see you succeed and excel. So, writers, go forth and create something remarkable. It’s a huge challenge, but at writers conferences you are among friends who can help you achieve it.