Writing until you are  blue in the face? Does it work? Do you get something accomplished?

Twenty writers met this past week in Golden Colorado at the Table Mountain Inn, and although their fingers may be exhausted, their minds are excited about what happened there.


It was a lovely three and a half day experience and people worked like crazy creating, editing and generally having fun exchanging their viewpoints and experiences while throwing out encouragement to one another.

One woman in particular had recently switched from academia to writing fiction and it was exciting to see her begin her very first book at this very first writing retreat sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers  and organized by Angie Hodapp. (in the middle)

Another woman worked diligently typing fast and now I know how she has written some double-digit number of books. It was fun to be in the same room with her because she’s so creative and prolific!

The finale of the retreat was having an agent critique our work, anonymously of course.

If we wished to participate in the exercise, we submitted two pages of any work without our names attached.  Kristin Nelson, President and Senior Literary Agent at Nelson Literary Agency, LLC  was friendly and not at all intimidating.  As she critiqued our work, we sat spellbound.

Here are a few of the pointers:

1. Less is always more. Why use several sentences to say what you can say in one sentence.

2. If you can carry your piece with your voice, she said she’d follow you anywhere.

3. Please, no bodily functions at the beginning of the book.

4. Anchor your story in a physical space.

5. Let your scene unfold. Don’t try to give the reader too much information too quickly.

6. Don’t lose the perspective. For instance, In first person, you see everything.

7. Put action with the object.  Make your writing tight.

8. Don’t start a story with a dream. She said she would feel deceived.

I am sure she said more than that, but these pointers are the ones I carried away with me.

And since it was mine that started with the dream, I was more than glad to get her perspective. No need to send it out to other agents seeking representation if that’s a big no-no.

Two things I particularly liked about Kristin was she reassured the group several times that we would not be the same writers tomorrow or next month. We would be better. And we should never give up.

Also, it was astounding to see that she memorized our names (20 of us) on the spot. And to make sure she had them correctly, she reversed the order she said them in. I was impressed. I want to know how she did that!

So I’d say the time was well spent.

So I have to go now. Have to delete that dream sequence.

Writers out there, comments?


How many of you have done this?

Sitting in Starbucks having a cup of coffee and for some reason your mind plays around envisioning your spilling your coffee.

Not more than fifteen minutes later you put your coffee down on the small table you’re sitting at, and the lid for some unknown reason comes off.  That’s right. Coffee goes everywhere. Splashes all over the table on  notebooks (hopefully not your laptop) and everywhere else. You gather your stuff up, your mind racing at how you had just thought this out ahead of time. Then you begin delving into the possibilities. If you could envision something as simple as coffee spilling over, why not something much, much bigger?

Of course, all the clichés dance around in your head. “If you can envision it, you can do it.” Of course, that’s not true. You’ve been envisioning becoming a writer, a novelist, a famous dancer, whatever, for a long time. Hasn’t happened for you.

But, you did just see the coffee scenario right in front of your eyes. You saw that coffee spill in your mind. Then it happened.

It occurs to you that you might be able to take advantage of something bigger. Maybe you should be dreaming more?

If you can see it …



It’s really powerful when it happens to you. Something so simple that it momentarily blows you away. Impressed with your own mind. Haven’t thought much about your mind? But you saw it happen. Anything is possible.

Why are we not training ourselves to use our imaginations as the key to progressing, to accomplishing to becoming successful in whatever it is we do? Create art, music, words trailing and finalizing themselves into works of fiction or non-fiction, articles or blogs or novels. Why not utilize a few moments every day blinking in silence and simply thinking. Projecting. Not wishing exactly, but rather using our abilities to bring ideas to fruition.

Thinking forward. Giving us work energy. Giving us momentum.

A push up. A push up in thinking. A push up in believing in what you’re doing, what you’re spending your time, your life creating. Maybe it’s having a family, children or attending school or work projects. You’re giving your life toward that. And it is your only life. It’s important no matter what you do. And if you don’t like what you’re doing, find a different way of doing it or find something else to do!

Put color in your life. Think about your projects. Re-evaluate them. What color would your project be?



Today a friend called with great news. Two sources are interested in her book. I’d say it’s a RED letter day for her! And a RED letter project. I’ve read her book. I know!

I’d like to send out this challenge.

For one week — just one week — sit down at a designated time and dream or imagine your project lifting off.


Get back to all of us about your results. Love to hear about it!

(Thanks Pinterest for lift off photo!)



I am livin’ the dream tucked away for a few hours in Paonia, Colorado, a town of 1,425 in a place called The Diner on Grand Street.

A lovely diner with rustic booths, framed pictures of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne on the walls and Kenny Rogers singing strummin’ tunes from the jukebox. All this Texas-born girl wanted to say was Yeeehaweeee!


Life was just about perfect for these 24 hours my daughter and I spent there. Stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast called Fresh and Wyld.  And although the bed and breakfast had Internet, my cell wouldn’t work there or anywhere in the town. Was it the valley? The mountains?

Someone politely said, “Verizon doesn’t work here.” I wondered immediately if that meant that all cells didn’t work or was this a turf war area.  From experience, Verizon works everywhere. If it worked in the small villages all over South Africa, it should work here. Oh, well.

We stayed at the two story blue house converted into five bedroom bed and breakfast. And the breakfast cooked by a tall muscular young man named Jacob created a breakfast to die for.

Of course, a variety of guests were a plus with intelligent conversation from visitors from Britain, helping us keep boredom at bay. It was quiet, no radio or television.  Also, no drama. No news. No wondering about anything – except one thing. For me, an insomniac, walking lightly around on the second floor to hopefully not disturb others.

Checking out, note cards caught my attention lying on a table near the check out desk. The top one grabbed me. Created by a friend of the woman who checked us out.

The card said:

“It’s not who you are

            that holds you back

            it’s who you think you’re not ..”


Powerful thought.

To digress, I am not a hot weather type of person.

I almost changed my mind about taking this trip. But it was my daughter who wanted this trip. And I wanted to be with her. Besides, we were going to visit friends, then stretch it a bit considering our time constraints and travel to the Arches National Park. Never been there. Always heard about it. But, it’s desert there. It’s HOT there. I don’t own lightweight clothes. My thinking is I’ll be in air conditioning or I’ll wait until winter.

So to say I was worried about the heat was an understatement. (Don’t tell my daughter.)

And then, like a giant wish descended upon us, the weather changed drastically from hot to cool and rainy and delicious. What if I’d stayed home?

Anyway, how does any of this pertain to writing? Wait for it — wait for it — Here’s how.

  1. Going to a dream place to write is like an A+.  You know you have conjured up one in your mind — a tiny cottage, a tiny room somewhere near a beach or in the mountains to get away and write up a storm. Well, do it!
  2. Find inspiration and pass it on to someone else like the woman who took out time to make the cards. Of course she’s trying to sell them ($3 each) but it’s her vehicle to pass on inspiration nevertheless.
  3. Finally, don’t think so damn negatively. I can’t believe I was so concerned about the heat that I nearly missed this beautiful trip I’m in the process of making to the Arches National Park in Utah!