That’s what it feels like, anyway, at the Renaissance Denver Hotel, which is hosting the annual Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference.

For the next three days, the hundreds of attendees can immerse themselves in topics such as “Arrows, Swords and Pointy Sticks: The Realities of Medieval Warfare,” “Poisons!” and “The Joy of Writing Great Sex.” OK, those are the attention-grabbing ones. And that last topic is as important as it is salacious, because you do not ever, ever want to win this award, or spur the reaction of the reader on the right.

But in addition to workshops on how to get those crucial details right, the conference is full of practical sessions on social media marketing, dealing with agents and editors, and the bewildering developments in the fast-changing publishing industry. Different topic tracks offer advice on how to craft your novel, pitch and sell it – and then market it once it’s sold. Great advice for beginning and published authors alike.

My own small contribution involves a first-time authors panel today, and co-hosting a networking table tonight on contemporary women’s fiction. And, preview copies of Montana will be for sale in the conference bookstore!

On a sobering note, the hotel is full of Red Cross volunteers here to help the victims of Colorado’s devastating floods. A last-minute addition to the conference is a silent auction to benefit those victims. Let’s hope people bid generously.

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This is how I felt this week as double deadlines charged straight at me. The final draft of Dakota, the sequel to Montana, is due to The Permanent Press. But in the midst of working on that, I got the final proof of Montana – as in, my last-chance, drop-dead opportunity to make corrections. Anything I missed on this go-round lives to embarrass me in print.

So I dropped the work on Dakota and spent two full days poring over Montana, finding 19 mistakes in the process. That sort of things gives you –  at least it gives me – nightmares. Because what if I missed something? That’s the equivalent of getting run over by the locomotive. 

Now it’s back to Dakota, trying to shore up the spots that wobble and jettison the stuff that slows things down. The one good thing about the diversion back to Montana was that I found phrases that were repeated in Dakota. The big machete took care of that. Very satisfying! Even more satisfying? The kick-ass cover design by Lon Kirschner. Wowza!

Speaking of The Permanent Press, here’s a cool story in the Sag Harbor News about publishers Marty and Judith Shepard.

And, I never did follow up on Killer Nashville. Suffice it to say it was a blur – a productive, informative blur. The best part? Meeting the Shepards, and several of The Permanent Press authors, a frighteningly talented bunch. I am not worthy.


Above, from left, The Permanent Press crew – Me, Chris Knopf, David Freed, Beth (Jaden) Terrell, Mike Hicks, Connie Dial, Judith Shepard, Martin Shepard, Baron Birtcher


 Killer Nashville, that is, a writing conference with – as you might expect from the name – an emphasis on mysteries and crime. It starts Thursday.

I’m excited about it for so many reasons. I’ll get to meet Permanent Press publishers Martin and Judith Shepard in person, as well as many of the publishing house’s authors.

I can soak up ideas from a wealth of workshops on topics such as forensic anthropology and psychology, and panels with enticing titles such as “Hardboiled Heroines and Feisty Female Sleuths: Strong Women in Crime Fiction,” along with ones that deal of the practicalities of the writing business.

I’ll be signing and selling (at least, I hope I will!) advance copies of Montana at the conference bookstore. 

I’m on two panels – “The Crime Beat: Writers and Journalists as Amateur Sleuths” and “Literary Mysteries: What are They and How do You Write One?” which means I’ll get to talk about two of my favorite subjects. 

And did I mention it’s in Nashville? Good music, good food. All that, and three days of book talk, too. What’s not to love? I’ll post a full report next week.