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Matthew J. Meagher

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My name is Matthew John Meagher, and I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University. I specialize in first-person YA, and my target audience is typically older high school to adults. I compose narratives that are accessible to every reader, but content for any age, and my readers follow me for this reason. My narratives approach societal challenges, such as demographical contention, familial hurdles, LGBTQ+, PTSD, and substance abuse. I also incorporate contemporary language.


It seems to work, as I am the 2021 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Book Awards Winner in Best Juvenile/YA for my novel, “Irish Town.” I am also a Colorado Author’s League Award Winner. “Irish Town” has been distinguished as a favorite in the New York City Big Book Awards. Recently, “Irish Town” won first place in the Readers Views Literary Awards. I have been published twice with short stories as well in both 34th Parallel Magazine (2020) and Fterota Logia Magazine (2021). I have a new publication published in 2022 with Solstice Literary Magazine. 


I have over 6,000 followers across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You may inquire about my reviews on my website at MatthewJMeagher.com.​


Matthew John Meagher

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Iona Morrison

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Life has a way of creating new avenues for us. After raising my three sons, with time on my hands, I had the desire to reinvent myself. Along with that desire came the long-held goal to write a book. A dream I had tucked away many years prior.

           When my husband went out of state to work for ten months, I began an online writing class through the University of Connecticut called Breaking into Print. The course took me through the elements of fiction and non-fiction. I thought for sure I would write a non-fiction self-help book. What I found was that I loved writing fiction. This gal who never watched or read a mystery found herself in a genre where she had never dared to go before. It fit with my personality and who I’ve always been as far back as I can remember. The teacher told me in that class that my stories had legs and he recommended that I try the novel writing class. So, I did.

           I began writing my first book The Harvest Club in that class. A story idea that was handed to me by the custodian on a new job when she told me, “You know we have a church ghost here.” My imagination went to work and the element of the paranormal and romance seeped into my mystery. I was off and writing.

           Mary, one my teachers, had a way of encouraging me while slapping me upside my head. She could criticize my writing and have me laughing at the same time. Now that’s a real gift. Encouraged by her when the book was finished to query on it, I took the chance. She gave me the name of a few publishers to query and submit my manuscript to. I accepted a contract with The Wild Rose Press.

           Though my books are romantic fantasy fiction I have a real method for why I write the stories I do. In my own strange way, I answer the question through my heroes what would happen if we were aware of what really is happening around us. In the process I touch upon subjects that are important to me.

           Writing fiction has been eye opening for me. It allows me to tell the human story in a way that I can envision it while making me more aware of my human connection and the world in which I live. A kind of therapy, if you will, it helps me come to terms with what I see happening around me. Through fictional characters I can deal with tough subjects in a way that is hopefully entertaining, and the story becomes a part of me in the process. I lose myself in the writing and find myself there too.

           When I’m tempted to believe I haven’t accomplished anything I remind myself that I have ten books, two novellas, and book eleven due out this year all in the past eight years. All my books have finished in the top ten in the Critters Readers Poll. Key to the Past, and As the Page Turns were both finalists in the CAL Awards in 2021 and 2022 respectfully. Searching For Closure, won a Book Excellence Award, was a CAL Award Winner this year and received a Firebird Book Award. I’ve made the Amazon Best Seller List which is a short window in time. I’m no diva when it comes to my work, I am a member of CAL and look forward to meeting more of you.

            I’m grateful for any recognition my books get, I’m most thankful for the readers who read them and tell me what they think. I’ve found that I simply love to paint a story using words. From the the first line to the end, I’m hooked and can’t wait to see where my characters will take me. Iona Morrison, Mystery Writer

Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl

Jim & Stephanie Kroepfl

We often think of the quote, “If you want to know what something really does, watch it when it isn’t doing anything.” We always knew we would write, but about ten years ago, we found ourselves with time on our hands and a window to do just about anything we wanted. So, what did we do? Stephanie started a novel and Jim went back to college to take English courses. Not quite the going-to-graduate-school or living-abroad ideas that we always thought we’d do when we had the chance.

 

Then, after years of running up to our cabin to write on the weekends, we finally moved up to Grand Lake and wrote as much as we could. Short stories, novels, and articles filled our days, and we pitched literally hundreds of agents.

 

Finally, our debut YA novel, Merged, was published by Month9Books in late 2019, just before the Covid epidemic. It was such a bittersweet time. Soon after our book came out, all the bookstores and libraries closed, book festivals and writers conferences were canceled, and schools weren’t allowing any author visits. But we learned how to connect in new ways with Zoom. All of a sudden, we could meet with people from all over the country, which was wonderful since we live in such a remote place.

 

We also discovered that awards are a good alternative way to promote your book. When Covid shut everything down, we decided to enter Merged into as many contests we could. To our surprise, Merged has won over twenty awards, including the CAL award for Childrens/Juvenile Fiction. Each award came with a promotion opportunity.

 

The question we get asked most is how do we write together. We live near a lake up in the mountains, which takes about 45 minutes to walk around, which is the perfect amount of time to brainstorm. Then, we storyboard our novel with colored index cards on a big corkboard. Each card has a few words about a scene or chapter, and we note the significant story points: inciting incident, plot point one, the midpoint, plot point two, and the black moment. When the board is about half filled with index cards, we start writing. Stephanie writes in the morning and Jim writes at a coffee shop in the afternoon. Once the first draft is written, we take turns editing it. After twenty revisions, we often don’t recall who originally wrote what.

 

We love to speak and are excited that conferences and festivals are back. Our most recent talk was on Creating Memorable Characters. We learned so much writing it, and had the best time when presenting it for the first time at the recent Northern Colorado Writers conference. We can’t wait to put together the next one.

 

Our next project is a middle grade contemporary novel that takes place in a small mountain town in Colorado. This seems to be the story with nine lives. It was our third manuscript that we had written years ago, and it had been rejected by over ninety agents. We decided to do one more round of edits and go out one last time. We must have finally gotten it right, because we got three offers of representation. The novel didn’t sell right, but our agent went out with it again this year and found an interested publisher. So, if you believe in a story, don’t give up.

 

Of course, writing organizations are essential for a lonely activity like writing. We’re sure we wouldn’t’ still be at it if not for the support and camaraderie of the writing groups we’re involved with. We’re members of CAL, SCBWI and Northern Colorado Writers, and Stephanie is currently on the Colorado Authors League Board. Getting involved is a wonderful way to find your tribe and stay motivated.

  

 

Wendy Terrien

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Like many authors, writing has long been a part of my life. When I was young, I remember wanting to write my own story after reading The Ghost of Dibble Hollow, and I did just that. In retrospect, I realize my story was a bit too close to the original – ghost of a boy on a farm who needed assistance from his living cousin. I did hand write the entire story, so clearly, I was committed to my project, but writing as a career wasn’t encouraged.

 

Years later, before I was grown-up-serious about my writing, I wrote a fairy tale as a gift for my mom’s birthday where I used elements from her childhood – her friends and family members, pets she shared her life with, activities she enjoyed, foods she loved, etc., incorporated into a fantasy world. I remember the thrill of the story coming together, how it almost felt like magic, and I adored every minute. The story is even more special now since my mom has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Those memories have a special place to live on.

 

But still, I set writing aside as a “someday I will” thing I’d do again. Being laid off from a job about fifteen years later was the trigger that helped me rediscover my passion for creating stories. I embraced the time I had and dove into learning everything I could about writing and publishing, including attending my first writers’ conference: Pikes Peak Writers. The education was stimulating and the people I met were amazing. Even though it was all new to me, I felt like I belonged.

 

The idea for my first book came from a television show where they mentioned “Chupacabras” and “cryptozoologists.” Not knowing what those things were, and being the curious type, I Googled the terms, went down the relative rabbit hole, learned a ton, then started musing on how creatures like Big Foot and, yes, Chupacabras, could live amongst humans without being discovered. From there, The Rampart Guards was born, the first book in my Jason Lex urban fantasy series. Good things can come from watching television.  (Click for a free and easy download of The Rampart Guards, if you are so inclined.)

 

There are now four books in the Jason Lex series with the fifth and final book to be finished later this year. Right now, I’m writing my first psychological thriller with a female serial killer and I’m exhilarated about how this is stretching me in a new direction. It’s a great challenge, a lot of work, and I’m excited about how the story is developing.

 

Writing feels like a gift to me. The adage is true – hard work doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love. In fact, it feels like magic.

 


Becky Clark

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I came to the writing game kind of late. It never occurred to me as a kid that I could write books. I was an avid reader, but as God is my witness, I did not make the connection that a real person was behind each of my beloved Nancy Drews. (As an adult, I’m real-life friends with someone who wrote some of those and her name is not Carolyn Keene which would have blown my widdle mind.)


When my kids were very young, I had a home daycare. In an effort to keep my brain from turning to mush, at naptime I’d race to my Mac Classic with the postage-stamp-sized screen and tap out personal essays a la Erma Bombeck. On a whim, I sent one off to a magazine and they sent me back $50. I was hooked.


My kids were always avid readers and we had regular trips to the library, toting home an obscene number of books each time. But one time my son was disappointed to find he’d read all the historical fiction for kids. I helped him search, but he was right … he’d read it all. As we were leaving, he looked up at me with plaintive eyes. “Why don’t you just write one, Mom?”


So I did.


That was in 2001 and I was hooked again.

In addition to this middle grade historical fiction, I wrote a middle grade time travel romp that I describe as “Quantum Leap meets Peabody and Sherman.” I wrote a YA mystery series with a synesthetic main character who was in the marching band and tasted music. I wrote some middle grade and YA standalones, one of which I’ll revisit and republish in the adult mystery realm because it’s a fictionalized version of my grandmother’s story that I want to explore further.


But I left the kidlit world behind me and have been happily ensconced in the adult mystery genre ever since. I’m firmly in the hybrid author universe, publishing mysteries both traditionally and independently. At this time I have two Dunne Diehl novels, three Crossword Puzzle Mysteries, and four Mystery Writers Mysteries. I’m working on a new 15-book (!!) crossover series featuring the mother of my protagonist in my Mystery Writers series. Overzealous? Perhaps. Fun? Absolutely.

I also have some nonfiction under my belt: some cookbooks, a guide for parents to help their reluctant readers advance and enjoy reading more, and a book about my writing process, EIGHT WEEKS TO A COMPLETE NOVEL—WRITE FASTER, WRITE BETTER, BE MORE ORGANIZED, which was lucky enough to win the prestigious Colorado Authors League 2021 Award of Excellence, something I’m supremely proud of.


So, when someone says, “Why don’t you just write one?” go ahead and say yes.


If you’re interested in sampling my funny mysteries, I have FICTION CAN BE MURDER downloadable for free at BeckyClarkBooks.com.

GaGa Gabardi and Judilee Butler

GaGa Babardi & Judilee Butler

Once upon a time in a small mountain mining town high in the thin air of the Colorado Rockies, two old ladies got their future determined! It was a Saturday morning in the fall of 2019 at the Leadville Mining Museum. The Chaffee County Writers Exchange gathered in an “off limits to the public" dusty, cluttered, unused room to write creepy mysteries in the setting of the museum’s historical context. And write they did. Two mysteries were created and these newbie writers were encouraged by the talented folks at the table to blend the tales into one powerful short story. The characters were born, the setting jelled, and the yellow brick

road was laid. 


With that, Judilee left the country for France. The reality of distance hit. Ugh. Now co-located at hundreds of miles apart, we’ve been forced to use technology to enable our writing, editing, and overall collaboration. Thankfully the world has Google. And then there’s FaceTime for the body language when one of us is not pleased. We owe a huge thank you to Laurel McHargue who introduced narrative arc. GaGa called Judilee, "Have you ever heard of this?"; Never too late to learn albeit a slower process than it was for us fifty years ago. LOL


When we won the honor of a spotlight article for CAL, we were at a loss as to what to say about a writing duo who had no plan to become published authors at seventy plus years. It’s important to note that sometimes life deals us the cards for new adventures IF we are open to what is the 'illogical." Not planned. Not studied. Not

expected. Not trained. Just go with it. If we fail, what happens? We'll go to the next chapter. Check that box.


The genre of light mystery was determined on that fateful Saturday morning in the museum. Our nervous energies crackle and the upshot is humor. If the reader gets a chuckle, so much the better! Move into other genres? You bet. If we live long enough (always reality lurking), we want a prequel for the Phoebe Korneal series, then a swipe at romance, and a light perspective in chick lit. We both appreciate the historical settings along the Rockies. The characters there are beckoning, "Come closer."


We are faced with the usual struggles of any writer, but there are two of us to double up the "overthink" on every detail. We've published Books 1 and 2 in the Phoebe Korneal series, The Last Hurrah and The Last Slide. To complete the trilogy, we are working on Book 3, The Last Line. Thanks to Covid, we discovered a mutual love of storytelling but then go forth to creatively overuse the words and, that, and she, she, she along with random commas. What's the world without editors?


A grandson was born in 2012 and GaGa began. Thanks B. As Jean Gabardi, (seated in the picture) I hail from the Midwest. Thanks to Ma Bell, I retired out of telecom equipped with two Master's Degrees and did another career in teaching—illogical! We reside in Buena Vista and Manitou Springs.


In 2019, Judilee was created out of Judy Butler. I am born, raised, and retired on the East Coast. With an undergraduate degree, I began teaching in elementary education. After completing a Master’s degree, I did an illogical jump into a marketing career in technology and retired from IBM. We now live in Buffalo, Wyoming,

and Melbourne, Florida.


We are somewhere on the learning spectrum and thanks to CAL the curve is lessened, the learning deepened, and the fun continues. 

The end. . .or is it?

Jennie MacDonald

Jennie MacDonald

When Jennie MacDonald encountered the homonyms "to," "too," and "two" in first grade, she could hear the difference between them and knew she loved words. She soon completed her first book, a collection of stories dazzlingly titled Yummy Pumpkin Pie and Other Stories (which included the showstopping “The Story of Jewelry”). It still holds pride of place in a box somewhere in a basement cupboard. A family friend gave her a set of Oz books, "and that has made all the difference," as Robert Frost said. Love for words and for reading have combined with interests ranging from fairy tales to astronomy to archeology to eighteenth-century Gothic literature to result in a writing habit devoted to the beautiful, the fanciful, the eerie, and the scientifically informed. 


Now a world traveler and PhD with a house full of books, Jennie's also an award-winning author and photographer. Her poetry, short stories, and photographs have been featured in many literary journals. Her plays have been produced locally and nationally. Other publications include academic articles and an edited collection concerning 18th and 19th century Gothic literature, theatre, and visual and material culture. Current projects include a Gothic novel, eerie children’s stories, and a radio play series.


John Keats remains a profound historical influence, as does Ann Radcliffe, Horace Walpole, Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, L. Frank Baum, J.R.R. Tolkien, Agatha Christie, P.G. Wodehouse, Shirley Jackson, and Richard Peck. Contemporary favorites include Philip Pullman, Alan Bradley, Christopher Fowler, Kate Atkinson, Kate Morton, Tana French, Lauren Groff, Neil Gaiman, and Amy Rowland. Jennie's deeply committed to the natural world and a lifelong Hubble Space Telescope fan (she can’t wait to see what the James Webb Space Telescope discovers) and loves learning about curious things, like "Mummy brown,” a color of paint valued by the Pre-Raphaelites, which was made from the flesh of ground-up Egyptian mummies. She shares Edgar Allan Poe's birthday of January 19th, and that might explain a lot.

 

She was once asked, “What makes a great novel?” Her response: “A great novel partners with the reader as a host, a companion, and a magician who never reveals everything but expects and requires the reader to be an active participant. The story and characters need each other and develop in compelling ways. A great novel has expectations and elevates without intimidating. The style and language are sustained for the duration, and the conclusion is absolutely gratifying but leaves a glimmer of the unknown for the reader to savor and delight in.”


Jennie is currently reading All The Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth.

Virginia White: Winner of the 2021 Summer Reading Program

When I wonder how I went from a struggling reader to guiding AP Literature students toward success on the exam to becoming a published author, I realize it was sheer determination and hard work, both inspired by my parents.


As a kid I loved stories. Reading them was a challenge because I was never taught phonics. Through trial and error I taught myself what I could and eventually found myself reading with a flashlight under the covers after it was “lights out.”


My confidence in reading and writing can be attributed to Mr. Kloefkorn during my sophomore year in college. When I received an A on my original short story and he told me that I should submit it to The Flintlock, Wesleyan’s literary magazine, I decided I might actually have strength in my writing. By my senior year, I decided I wanted to write stories for children. I wanted them to be fun as well as educational.


I was armed with what I thought would be the answer for struggling readers after I received my Master’s Degree. Boy, was I wrong. The students taught me! I had two classes of “Leisure Learners” who did not want to take English, a four-year requirement. Trial and error again and then one day a student came in and said. “I think you’ve got it, Mrs. White.” Yea for me.


I developed the class further and put it into two more schools. I moved on to teach World Humanities, Creative Writing, AP Literature, and Freshman English. I became the English Department Coordinator in two schools. I was hired to develop an English curriculum at Eaglecrest High School before we actually moved to Colorado.


The idea of writing my own poems and stories began with the reading of both. Use of language intrigued me. Words gave me a vision. I wanted to be able to create a vision with my own words.


Not only does reading inspire me, but I love to observe—people, actions, dialogue, any details that develop a character or a scene. I wonder what goes on inside a person’s head or inside a house. What IS that story?  What is the motivation for characters to do what they do?  My imagination has a good time with possibilities. 

Ideas come to me in the shower, in the car, right before I go to sleep, when I watch a movie, when I read –anything! I jot ideas down, let them simmer, and then I play with various scenarios until something clicks. The best time for me to express those ideas is early morning. It’s quiet and I feel refreshed. 


There is something inside me that urges a story. After I play with a number of “what ifs,” I flesh  out the “what if” I think works the best—again and again until I feel it is a good fit. I try them out on others and make changes if I think that is the best avenue. It pleases me to know that my words and ideas have made a positive impact upon the reader.


Besides reading and writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and three rescue cats.


Virginia has lived in South Dakota, Nebraska, South Carolina, Nebraska again, and Wyoming before settling in Colorado, where she has lived with her husband Warren for 31 years. She taught at Eaglecrest until 2002 then transferred to Cherry Creek High School before retiring in 2008. She has two daughters and three grandchildren. She won this opportunity for a spotlight in our newsletter and on the website by reading the most pages of books by CAL authors during our CAL Summer Reading Program.