It can be risky business to use idioms in writing. Nonetheless, two come to mind in describing the annual conferences staged by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. That’s what happens when a kid in a candy store drinks from a fire hose.
At the beginning of the latest Colorado Gold Conference in Denver, I rubbed together eager hands in anticipation of the assortment of presentations scheduled there. By the end of the weekend, I was soaked by the information in which I’d been inundated.
In other and better words, the conference offers something for all writers regardless of the genres in which they work or the stages of their careers. More, in fact, than can be assimilated over a couple of days.
I attended presentations on pitching to literary agents, structuring novels and writing thrillers.
I also attended a presentation on the duties of coroners in Colorado. I did so to more accurately portray in my novels the elderly owner of White Mountain Mortuary who serves as Diamond County coroner. Contrary to what appears on TV, coroners only rarely bring medical training to their duties. Why are funeral home owners frequently elected coroners? Simple. They have a place to store bodies.
But wait, there was even more to my experiences.
I was thrilled to join other finalists for the 2021 Colorado Gold Rush Literary Awards presented at the conference. An entry based on my novel “Delve Too Deep” didn’t win, but I really was honored to be mentioned among such admirable writers.
The annual contest for unpublished authors constitutes one of the best ways I’ve encountered to polish manuscripts and, in turn, agent submissions. Judges provide critiques that help me make progress on my works in progress. Win, lose or finish somewhere in between, the ultimate reward of the competition is the process itself.
By virtue of winning the mystery and thriller category in 2020 with “Small Town News,” I was invited to join other Gold Rush winners at a presentation to read the openings of our novels. I never imagined I’d one day stand before a hotel ballroom chock-full of the most talented writers in the region and read my work. MY work. How incredibly cool is that?
Of course, some of the most rewarding events of all at the conference aren’t scheduled. They’re the impromptu conversations with other writers about their work and where they draw their inspiration. Everyone I met was generous in sharing advice and encouragement. Every one.
Last — but certainly not least — I pitched “Small Town News” to three literary agents. Two were gracious enough to agree to look at pages. I realize the long odds I face. Agents might review a thousand submissions in a year, yet take on only a handful of clients. But an at bat is an at bat. And I’m excited for the opportunity to step up to the plate and take a big swing.
I suppose that’s yet another idiom. One I’m pleased to use in my writing.