Colorado Gold Once More–With Deni Dietz

They say trade shows are on the wane.  People don’t want to expend the time and money required to put on the events, companies don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices for sending staff for the “waste of time” these things become.  I don’t think I agree with this thinking.

Colorado Gold is “my” big event of the year, and every time I’ve gone (and I’ve gone to this event since 2003), I learn something, meet someone important, get to know friends in writing on a deeper level, and most of all, I get motivated to write some more.  These things are not measurable in dollars, but in punctuating my life with celebration and skill development they are invaluable.

Take for example:


CO Gold with Deni Dietz and Liesa Malik

Deni Dietz always has time for a smile with friends.

Do you know Deni?  She writes under the pen names “Denise Dietz” and “Mary Ellen Dennis.”  Under the first name, Deni writes mysteries.  Cozy mysteries.  I really enjoyed Throw Darts at a Cheesecake and Footprints in the Butter.  As Mary Ellen Dennis, Deni writes historical and paranormal romance. Yummy!

In 2014 Deni was nominated for an Edgar Award for her short story, “Annie and the Grateful Dead.”

But Deni is also the editor who first acquired Faith on the Rocks and then Sliced Vegetarian. She helped me as she has helped so many others “get a start” in publishing. Luckily, Deni and senior editor, Tiffany Schofield, from Five Star came to CO Gold in search of new talent.  I won’t know if they struck gold at this year’s conference for a while, but Deni’s a very committed editor as well as writer, and I suspect that in the months ahead there will be one or two new authors shouting and celebrating the way I did a couple of years ago.

Thing about Deni is that you may not know her personally, but she has a really big reputation in the industry, and that reputation seems to be all good.  “She works so hard, all of the time,” said one person I talked to.  “Oh, you write for Five Star?  Then you must know Deni,” said another, implying that Deni is the person who enjoys working with new and established authors.

It was amazing to me how approachable Deni was during the weekend.  Yes, she had several pitch sessions and meetings to go to.  She gave a few workshops, and she hung out with some of us who are “her authors.”  But every time I saw her, Deni had a smile and a couple of minutes for me.  She gave me tips for working with Five Star on prepping for Bouchercon (which is coming up in a few weeks in Raleigh, NC), and didn’t bug me about where book three might be in the Daisy Arthur mysteries.  In general, whether you meet Deni for the first time or the fiftieth she comes across, not as a big wig, but as a true friend.

So how do you put a dollar figure on that friendship?  How does this small contact pay off for Deni or me? I can’t speak for my editor, but I know I came away more motivated than ever to get back to the keyboard.  I don’t want to let her down, and I’m so excited to share the next story with her.  For months my work has been dragging, but after talking with Deni and being at CO Gold, I’m excited to jump back into the world of writing and make something good happen.

I’d ask you to wish me luck, but I think the conference has provided just that.

Wishing you a week filled with the motivation to do all that your dreams inspire in you.


Write Motivation with Desiree Holt

Colorado struck Gold this past weekend with its 33rd annual writer’s conference, and yours truly enjoyed every minute of it. There were so many great people and events that I’m going to share the experience over a couple of posts with you.


Desiree Holt at RMFW's Colorado Gold Conference

Desiree talks about building stories around character at CO Gold.

USA Today called Desiree the “Nora Roberts of erotic romance writing.”  Since her first book was published in 2006, she has produced an incredible 197 books . . . and counting!  Desiree is a graduate of the University of Michigan (go blue!) and even has the U of M fight song as her ring tone.  How do I know this?  I had the happy honor of giving this great woman a ride from the airport to the convention hotel.  We spent about an hour or so together, and I have to say, it was one of the best hours I’ve had in a good while.

We met as she stepped out of the tram area and instantly clicked.  This tiny woman of indeterminate years and a dash of style was so warm we hugged immediately.  Soon after, we were snug in the car and she was telling me about life in Texas and her plans to move closer to family somewhere in Florida.  I was taken aback, as it seems like we’ve lived in the same states, just at different times. Heck, Desiree could be one of my sisters.

The biggest impact upon meeting her is that Desiree has a seemingly boundless energy. She is excited about life, about writing, and about what’s next on the agenda. Those of us lucky enough to attend her workshop on building characters got a sampling of how she brainstorms while we built a character together.

“Quick, someone,” said Desiree, “give me a gender.”  Someone shouted out “female.”  Female it was. “Now, ask yourself some questions about your character.  Things you’d ask a friend about someone you don’t know.  What food does she like to eat?”

And we were off.  Soon, a young woman (in her early forties) is opening the door to a total (and totally hot) stranger, who is dripping from the rain he just ran through, and asking for help with his flat tire, because his cell phone can’t get reception in this less populated part of town.  The sparks fly as the artist-welder takes him in, only to have him inadvertently insult her.

I’m sure, right now, there are thirty or forty new stories being written with these characters leading the plot along.

Meeting Desiree Holt

Meeting the warm and wonderful Desiree Holt.

Something else Desiree shared was her love of meeting strangers.  Imagine that–an extroverted writer.  Good for her!  She has her smart phone with her constantly and will ask total strangers if she can take their picture and ask them a few questions.  She gives them her business card and the two are off and running.

Case in point was a nice-looking waiter who Desiree chatted up with family looking on.  At one point Desiree’s daughter apparently said to the waiter, “Don’t worry, she’s harmless.  My mom’s a writer.”  The answers flowed and soon the young man became a football player for Desiree’s series, Game On.  I have a copy of the first book there called Forward Pass. One word–Hot. Okay, one more–Blush!  Wow. I’m only on chapter four and this book has me thinking thoughts I long believed went dormant.

Yet having sports figures as main characters should be a natural for Desiree.  She was the first woman sports reporter for her university’s, Michigan Daily newspaper.  Between that and working for a while as a stringer for four or five publications, Desiree picked up the habit of writing fast and furious.  She said she currently works on at least three projects at a time.  That way, when she’s stuck on one, she can move to another and the words keep flowing.

Great advice from a successful writer.

And my favorite Desiree line?  This obviously middle-aged (okay my daughter would say “senior”) was at a book signing and a reader walked up to say something like, “You haven’t done all the exploits you’ve written about, have you?”  Desiree smiled and said, “Of course I have, but you see dear, I’m only twenty-seven years old.” They both laughed and Desiree earned another fan.

Wishing you a happy, stranger-filled week.