I was invited to attend the 16th annual Mountain of Authors event last Saturday. The Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs sponsors the program. The keynote speaker for the event was none other than Craig Johnson, who is the bestselling author of the Longmire books series. The Netflix series is based on his books. I participated in the “Showcase of Authors.” It was limited to 30 participants, all of which were local authors. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other writers of all genres. It was also an opportunity to talk about and sell my books. Thank you, PPLD, for allowing me to participate!
This is a bit off topic from what I usually post, but it’s something that I’ve been wondering about for quite some time. My husband and I bought a fixer upper nearly four years ago. We’ve been tossing around the idea of converting it into an Airbnb when we are done renovating. The house is a cute little bungalow in Colorado Springs, and backs up to open space. There is an amazing view of the mountains from our backyard, and the house is centrally located, so stores, the interstate, entertainment, and main thoroughfares are easily accessible.
We had really bad luck renting in the past. When my father-in-law died, we tried renting his house out and it turned into a disaster. The guy turned into a meth addict, and luckily, he wasn’t cooking in the house! Then we tried renting our house in Mississippi, which also turned out badly. The renters tried to become squatters, so it was tricky getting rid of them but we finally did. We decided we were done renting after that.
However, now that we live in the Springs, we have talked to numerous people who also own Airbnb’s. It seems like a primo location, and it’s a hot spot for vacationers year-round. We have to investigate it further, but it certainly seems like a good option.
Here are some links to further inform you about Airbnb options:
In last Sunday’s Colorado Springs Gazette, reporter David Ramsey wrote a story about Confederates who are buried in Colorado. He then went on to say that all of them undeniably fought to preserve slavery. He stressed this opinion throughout his story, and even contradicted people he interviewed with his strong opinions.
I’m not denying that slavery played a part in leading up to the Civil War, but Ramsey fails to mention all the other reasons why the war came about. He sites Confederate VP Alexander H. Stephens’ racist statements, but fails to take into account that racism was commonplace back then. President Lincoln was a huge racist, as a matter of fact, and wanted to ship all the blacks back to Africa or somewhere else out of the country. Ramsey claims that Robert E. Lee had slaves (which he set free before the war), but fails to mention how Grant kept his slaves until after the war, not to mention how seriously racist Sherman was, not only against blacks, but also against American Indians, and didn’t hesitate to kill as many as possible.
Here is a link to the story. Please let me know what your thoughts are. I’d love to see your comments!
Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). This event was held in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If you are unfamiliar of this acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is held during the month of November. The object of NaNoWriMo is to provoke writers and prospective authors into writing a novel. Authors don’t have to finish their projects. The goal is for them to complete writing a total of several thousand words by the end of the month, and the NaNoWriMo website tracks their progress. Since its start, NaNoWriMo has grown internationally. I have completed the challenge three times. In fact, I even got a t-shirt several years ago to prove it!
My audience at the Writing Center was very attentive as I told them about my journey as an author and how my writing has evolved over the years. It was fun to see their expressions when I explained how I was originally inspired to write about the Civil War, how I conducted research, chose characters, and constructed plot lines. We talked about my writing process in general, how much time I spend researching each book, and self-publishing vs. traditional.
Because all the students are participating in NaNoWriMo, I was curious to find out what projects they’ve been working on. I loved their enthusiasm as they told me about their prospective novels. Most are writing fantasy and Sci-Fi, which I found interesting, since they are all in their late teens and early twenties. One attendee said his novel is historical fiction with a bit of fantasy thrown in. He said he heard that all a writer has to do is include a unicorn to make their story a fantasy and then that author doesn’t have to be completely historically accurate. I thought his analogy was amusing! Speaking at UCCS was a great experience, and I’m grateful to have participated. Seeing new writers bud is the best!
Recently, I was invited to speak at a local event sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This event, held in Colorado Springs, features local authors, and raises funds to provide college scholarships to women who could not afford to go to school on their own. It was heartrending to hear the stories about this year’s recipients, and I was very honored to be invited to speak on their behalf. Today, the local newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette, featured a story about the event, so I am sharing it here. I found the article to be very informative, except that my quote was taken out of context. The article is inaccurate in stating that I lock myself in a room, listen to Civil War music and lose myself in imagination. However, I thought the quote was quite amusing.
Annual event celebrates local authors, awards scholarships
By: William J. Dagendesh
Mary Taylor Young knows from personal experience that reading and writing is key to developing as a writer.
“People like reading things that are a part of their life. I try to find evocative words to create an image, so I read and write a lot,” the author told American Association of University Women’s Colorado Springs Branch (AAUW CSB) members during an Oct. 27 Author’s Day recognition breakfast.
Held at the Colorado Springs Shrine Club, the annual event celebrated the creative works of three local authors and raised money to provide college scholarships for local women. Authors J. D. R. Hawkins and Cindy Skaggs also were honored.
Since its inception, the AAUW CSB has presented numerous scholarships. In 2008, one $1,000 and one $500 scholarship were awarded and last year six $1,200 scholarships were presented. Proceeds will fund next year’s scholarships.
“Thank you for taking part in the success of these women which wouldn’t be possible without your support,” Scholarship Chair Char Gagne told the 100-plus guests who attended.
Branch President Nancy Holt welcomed guests, adding, “This room is full of women who love to read. Some love to write and are inspired by the authors who are here today.”
One of Colorado’s best-known nonfiction authors, Young has written about Colorado’s landscape and heritage for three decades. The award-winning author has penned 17 books including “Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years,” and “Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey.”
For 16 years The Rocky Mountain News published Young’s “Words on Birds” column. The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District named Young a 2018 Frank Waters Award winner for exemplary literary achievement.
Young’s passion for writing about the West originated from her family’s military roots and Rocky Mountain upbringing, she said. “My path to writing wasn’t a direct one. My dad was career Army and I lived in 10 different homes. Spending summers running through the mountains helped fix my path because writing originally wasn’t on my radar,” Young said.
Known chiefly for her historical writing, Hawkins’ works include the Renegade Series: A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Rebel Among Us, both John Esten Cooke Fiction Award recipients. She is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, International Women’s Writing Guild, Pikes Peak Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
Holt praised Hawkins for the word imagery used to describe Civil War battlefields in her book, The Beckoning Hellfire. Extensive research, music and imagination were key elements for writing the book, Hawkins said. “I locked myself in my room, put on Civil War music and lost myself in imagination,” Hawkins said.
By contrast, it was stories about mob bosses, horse thieves, cold-blooded killers and the last honest man that inspired Skaggs to write. To date she has written seven romantic suspense novels that include “The Untouchables” trilogy and a novella for Entangled Publishing titled “Untouchable, An Untouchable Christmas, Unforgettable and Unstoppable.”
Skaggs encouraged prospective authors to appreciate editors and to attend book conferences to pitch their idea to agents. “Self-publishing is expensive and can cost up to $2,000 before marketing,” Skaggs said.
Local resident Cindi Zenkert Strange attended the event because, “I love books and writers, and wanted to hear from local and regional authors who represent different genres.”
A silent auction comprised of sports clothing, wine and wine glass, and cheese and party mix baskets also figured in the celebration. Perry Park rounds of golf, two-night stay at The Lodge, at the Club at Flying Horse were among the gifts up for grabs.
A fiber-fusion collage created by local artist Barbara Diamond, and paintings by Japanese artist Kazuko Stern and Heddy DuCharme also were available. “President-Elect Kathy Olson invited me to show my stuff to the public. I am glad I am here,” said Diamond who is an instructor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Founded in 1881, the AAUW promotes equity for all women and girls, life-long education and positive societal change. AAUW has more than 100,000 members in 1,000 branches throughout the nation. The event is held the last Saturday in October. “We’re non-partisan and welcome new members,” Olson said.