CRW Super Star Presenters

Castle Rock Writer’s Super Star Presenters

Looking Back in time….November Workshop 2019

jean2017rwa-headshot“Maximizing Your Writing Time”by Jean Jacobsen, Fiction Writer

  • The asiago in the refrigerator threatening to go green unless you start that lasagna?
  • Your best friend wants to meet for a beer?
  • Mom calling in for frequent chats?
  • Your smart watch starts ticking the rhythm of deadline beats?
  • Or are you stymied by atelodemiourgiopapyrophobia? You are not alone in a fear of imperfect creative activity on the page.

Jean Jacobsen is an award-winning storyteller of Sweet American Historical Romance. Featuring strong female characters who believe they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, she pens stories that transcend the heart. Because of Jean’s deep passion for history, she includes real events from the time period, making her stories come to life as they transport you to a by-gone era. Jean is a lover of dark chocolate, bold coffee, fragrant flowers, and yummy food.

McCuneHeadshotJuly 2019
Workshop led by Bonnie McCune “Out-of-Date Stereotypes in Character Development”

Monday, July 1, 2019, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock Bank Room East
100 S. Wilcox Street, Castle Rock, 80104.

BIO FOR BONNIE MCCUNE from the website

Bonnie McCune has been writing since age ten, when she submitted a poem about rain rushing down the gutter to the Saturday Evening Post (it was immediately rejected). This interest facilitated her career in nonprofits doing public and community relations and marketing. She’s worked for libraries, directed a small arts organization, and managed Denver’s beautification program.

Simultaneously, she’s been a free-lance writer with publications in local, regional, and specialty publications for news and features. Her civic involvement includes grass-roots organizations, political campaigns, writers’ and arts’ groups, and children’s literacy. For years, she entered recipe contests and was a finalist once to the Pillsbury Bake Off. A special love is live theater. Had she been nine inches taller and thirty pounds lighter, she might have been an actress

Her true passion is fiction, and her pieces have won several awards. Never Retreat  is her third novel and her fifth book of fiction. She has a husband, two adult children, and three grandchildren. For reasons unknown (an unacknowledged optimism?), she believes one person can make a difference in this world. Visit her at, where you also can read her blog “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives.”


Contemporary genre writing often continues to be dogged by out-of-date stereotypes. Whether it’s the idea that small town life is better than big city living, or that men and women prefer clear gender roles, or that there is a scarcity of diverse ethnicities in characters, what do we lose by these self-imposed limits? How does the writer handle these topics in his or her work? Bonnie will be covering tropes, archetypes, and chiches in character development. She is the author of five books of w

April 2019
Seth Led Workshop on “Left Brain, Write Brain”

Seth 2In celebration of Poetry Month, Castle Rock Writers presented “Left Brain, Write Brain” with the poet SETH on Monday, April 1st, 2019, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“According to Einstein, genius is the ability to play,” Seth stated. “We played with language. We played with  imagination.:


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October 15, 2018
freedomstree“Spatial and Chronological Writing Meet Sensory Input!”led by Kenneth Lippincott, educator and author

This workshop focuses on the use of spatial and chronological writing techniques to craft a scene, so the reader may see, hear, taste, touch, and small the setting and experience the mood the author desires to create. Participants will practice techniques to move from the tangible to the intangible.

Monthly Workshop: August 13, 2018  DD Pix Color                                       

“The 3 Rs of Non-Fiction: Report, Research, and Request” led by Denny Dressman

Description: The title is a take-off on the three Rs of grammar school. In this case, they stand for Report, Research and Request. Non-fiction relies on facts, so the 5 Ws and the H–the basics of news reporting, are just as relevant when writing a non-fiction book. Research is essential, and knowing how to get the most out of this discipline involves several points. Request stands for asking questions–the art of interviewing, and it truly is an art. In this session, Dressman will also cover preparing an abstract of the book project.

Bio: Denny Dressman concluded a 44-year newspaper career in June 2007, retiring from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver after 25 years. From 1992 to 2001 he was vice president for labor and human resources at the News. He was inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame in 2008. He served as president of the Colorado Authors’ League, the state’s oldest professional writers organization, ending his term this past June. Author of one book in Cincinnati in 1981, he resumed writing books in 2005, and his ninth book, Beyond The Camps – From Japanese-American Internment Nightmare to ‘American Dream’ was published in April 2018. He is now working on his 10th book, a biography of horse trainer John Parisella.

Looking back on the Monthly Workshop, July 2018

BeckerHeadshotCastle Rock Writers featured Laurel Jean Becker on Monday, July 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library, 100 S. Wilcox, CR 80104. Becker will lead the workshop “Talking Poetic Turkey.” Learn how to write blank verse, using rhythm without the burden of rhyme; this can improve prose, too. Also learn the villanelle. Come find out what it is—and a simple way to learn this form. No RSVP required. Contact information: or 303-521-8615.

Looking back on Monthly Workshop, June 2018

Workshop Leader Elisabeth Hyde_DSC7783 headshot higher res_DSC7783 headshot higher resme+and+ziggy+by+joanie

Novelist Elisabeth Hyde, the author of six critically-acclaimed novels, led the June workshop on “Plot and Character.” Hyde’s most recent book is GO ASK FANNIE, about three siblings coming back to their father’s farmhouse for the weekend. Previous novels include IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON, which was a NY Times Editor’s Choice and a People Magazine Great Read; and THE ABORTIONIST’S DAUGHTER, a best-seller in the UK. Trained as a lawyer, she worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., before she started writing full-time. She lives in Boulder with her husband and the best dog in the whole world.

Looking back on Monthly Workshop for May 2018

BeckyClark“How to Write a Mystery: Fast & Fun” led by Becky Clark

CRW learned the basics of plotting a mystery, along with the nuances of mystery genres and everything necessary for a compelling mystery.

A highly functioning chocoholic, Becky Clark (Denver, CO) is the seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them, too. She published her first novel in 2001, and is a sought after speaker. Visit her online at

IMG_20180321_204711535Looking back on Monthly Workshop for April 2018

Thanks to Steve Caswell and the Colorado Poetry Society for hosting our “Poetry Month” meeting on Monday, April 9th. The 20 attendees learned about poet Philip Levine and his take on work, society, culture, and poetry! We had fun trying our hand at writing poems.

Description: While the American working class has been in the national spotlight, what about working class poetics?  Who writes poetry for these men and women, and what does that verse concern itself with?  We’ll look at the work of Philip Levine, one of creators of the genre, and the work of some other writers, before creating our own poems.

Looking back…Monthly Workshop for March 2018.

Berry_Je_Li_010_810-300Linda Berry’s varied writing credits include short fiction for children and adults, six mystery novels, preschool curriculum, and a newspaper entertainment column. Recently she’s been focusing on short plays, poetry, and performance pieces. She and her husband try to organize their lives around theater tickets.

Writers are often told: “Show, don’t tell.” What does that mean?(Essentially, showing is dramatizing, as in a play. Telling is summarizing, as in a synopsis.) In good writing there’s a place for both. We’ll consider when and how you’ll choose to do one or the other to give your writing more impact.

Looking back…Monthly Workshop for Feb. 2018

Laurie Marr Wasmund optimized headshot

Laurie Marr Wasmund, novelist and writing instructor, presented the workshop “Tough Talk: Writing Effective Dialogue.” According to Wasmund, dialogue is a powerful writing tool in any writer’s repertoire. She will show us five ways to develop effective dialogue, including how to use dialogue to ratchet up tension; where to place dialogue “tags;” and how to make dialogue sound realistic to your readers’ ears.

LAURIE MARR WASMUND is the author of My Heart Lies Here, a novel of the Ludlow Massacre; Clean Cut, A Romance of the Western Heart; and To Do Justice and To Love Kindness, the first two books of the White Winter Trilogy, set during World War I.

MichelleLooking back…Monthly Workshop for January 2018

Michelle Post, business writer for The Connection newspaper (Castle Pines, Colorado), led a workshop based on several of her “Business Bytes” columns published by The Connection. She is an expert on business organization and technology. Come find out how to “Develop a Growth Mindset for Success.”

Dr. Michelle Post is a driven, passionate and experienced leader, teacher, social media strategist, connector and national and international speaker. Her desire to connect and inspire throughout more than three decades of career translates into her ongoing effort to help the development of ideas, people, content, and learning. Her passion is to help others to learn how to release their internal gifts for personal and professional success. She believes every person’s life matters and what they do matters too. In addition, every individual has a story that needs to be shared, and The Connection is lucky to have her on their team.

Looking back…

RBG Website ANTQ 800x535 aThe October 2017 monthly workshop featured Rick Gustafson, who led a workshop on “Understanding Point of View.” 

Writers must consider several factors when choosing a narrator and point of view (voice). In addition to answering questions such as whom and when, this class explores the narrative choices available to writers, examines a narrator’s motivation, and incorporates practical exercises for both new and experienced writers to experiment with voice.

Rick Gustafson is a short story writer and novelist from Denver, Colorado. Rick completed graduate work at the University of Denver, earning a Master’s of Liberal Studies in Global Affairs as well as a Certificate of Advanced Study in Creative Writing.

The recipient of the 2014 E.M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award, Rick has also received awards for his short fiction from the Writers-Editors Network (2013), and the Denver Women’s Press Club (2009). His short fiction has also appeared in the Nefarious North Anthology. He has written over 250 news stories and features for several Front-Range area magazines and Colorado Community Media.



Monday, August 14, 2017
6:30 to 8:30 p.m

Presenter: Rebecca Green Gaspar
“Dealing with Tough Issues in Fiction”

Philip S. Miller Library
100 S. Wilcox St CR 80104
CR Bank Room East

Workshop Description
Exploring tough subjects can be uncomfortable and sometimes controversial; therefore it’s important to know how to speak directly to your readers about real-life concerns without lecturing. Learn how to create powerful and intense situations that are believable and honest, as well as create content that is artistic and critical to the story.

Rebecca Green Gasper is an author of young adult contemporary fiction on teen tough issues. Holding a degree in sports medicine and recreational therapy, she has spent many years as a special education teacher working primarily with teens. When not writing, you can find her in the barn with her horses.

Monday, August 14, 2017Lija Fisher Headshot
Presenter: Lija Fisher
“The Business of Getting Published”

Workshop Description
So you’ve written a book? Congratulations! Now comes the hard part – how to get it on the shelves. In this workshop, I will ‘demystify’ the traditional publishing process by addressing common questions. How does one get an agent? Does one need an agent? What is a query letter? How do I submit to agents? When do I submit to agents? What role does self-publishing play?
Getting a book deal from a traditional publisher is extremely difficult, so understanding the process is crucial. Attendees of this workshop will gain an understanding of how to navigate the journey so that their work has a better chance of finding success.

Lija Fisher is an actor/writer who has performed on stages in New York, Florida, Colorado and Alaska (where she was chased by a bear). When not being chased by local wildlife, she’s working on her series of Middle Grade adventure novels, published by Macmillan/Farrar Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan. In May 2017, she was the Writer in Residence at Aspen Words. She is represented by Jason Anthony of Massie McQuilkin, a valued NYC literary agency.”

05a8f60f-3570-47e6-abdb-5f3764ca48f8July 2017 Speaker
Presenter: Anne Randolph, MA, MFA
Write Hot! Write from Your Core!
(bring writing materials or a fully-charged laptop).

 The essence of Kitchen Table Writing is to allow the pen to guide.  Let whatever comes out of your hand, your pen, your heart—hit the page.  It is meditative, a time for praise, acknowledgement, gratitude; a time to sort out a challenge, or to describe the tree outside your window or the sky.  You are freeing the spirit and letting what needs to come through your subconscious by ink erupt onto the page.

In essence, Kitchen Table Writing is the time that you, the writer,
allow yourself to be who you are.  


 Anne Randolph, Kitchen Table Writing, inspires writers in Denver and conferences like Screenwriter’s Conference in Santa Fe.


Laurie Marr Wasmund

June 2017 Speaker–Laurie Marr Wasmund
Don’t Forget the Craft:                                                                                               Revising a First Chapter or a Short Story

This workshop offered suggestions for supercharging the editing/revising process, including when to integrate internal dialogue into the story, how to create direct involvement with your writing for your reader, and more.

LAURIE MARR WASMUND has worked as a writer, editor, and community college instructor. She has published short fiction in literary journals and articles on Colorado history in popular magazines. Her first novel, My Heart Lies Here, is a story of the Ludlow Massacre in Trinidad, Colorado in 1914. Her second novel, Clean Cut, is a novel of small-town living in Wyoming. The first novel of her White Winter Trilogy, To Do Justice, chronicles America’s involvement in World War I.

May 2017 Workshop MaryTaylorYoung                                                                    Workshop Leader: Mary Taylor Young                                                                    “Coming Soon to YouTube! Producing Your Own Book Trailer”

Book trailers, similar to movie trailers, are the cutting edge of book promotion. Come learn what’s involved in making a DIY trailer for YouTube and get an overview of this low-cost marketing tool.

Award-winning writer Mary Taylor Young is author of 15 books about the landscape and heritage of the West. She has written professionally and taught writing to adults and children since 1987. In 2012, she was a National Park Service Artist in Residence in creative writing at Rocky Mountain National Park. She produced a book trailer to promote her most recent title Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years.

Kevin 2014April 2017 Speaker                                                                     Kevin Corbley                                                                                                Writing as a Day Job: The Feature Article

Whether you’re a full- or part-time freelancer, there is good money to be made writing feature articles for business clients. Kevin Corbley, an independent business communications professional for 24 years, walks you through the process of writing a commissioned story and getting it published in an industry trade magazine.

March 2017 Speaker: Deb McLeod    Deb-right-200x200                                                                                                               “Learning to Use Scrivener”

Scrivener is the best writing program on the market. Bring your laptop and join novelist and writing coach, Deb McLeod, for an introduction to how she and her clients use Scrivener. PC and Mac versions will be covered.

February 2017 Speaker                                                     Sara Megibow                                                                                                                       “How to Pitch with Sara Megibow”

Sara Megibow, literary agent with kt literary agent, spoke on “How to SaraMegibow_byKateTestermanPitch with Sara Megibow” at the February 2017 workshop.”We will focus on learning to think/talk about a novel concisely. This skill helps writers in pitching, and it also helps writers in identifying the core of their story, a surprisingly important thing to know in the writing AND the selling of a novel,” said Sara.

January 2017 Speaker                                                                                                             

Grant McKenzie                                                                                                                    “Brains, Brawn, and Bravado: Mind, Body, and Spirit Symbolism in Character Development”   9u4w4vUz

Bio: Grant McKenzie, the “Kilted Writer,” spends his time studying and analyzing story and character development. Using that knowledge and experience, he works with writers—especially novice writers–coaching and mentoring them so they can up their game in story creation. McKenzie writes fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. He is a past presenter at Castle Rock Writers Conference, Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group, and Parker Writers. He has worked as a developmental editor for three years.


Monday, November 14, 2016-“NanoWriMo” Write Out,” Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock Bank Room East, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This is open to any writer, whether you are registered for National Novel Writing Month or not! Bring your laptop or a notebook and write for two hours, either for NaNoWriMo or on your own project. CRW will provide the snacks!


September 2016 Meeting: “The Importance of the Pitch” by W. Terry Whalin, acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, 

Castle Rock Writers group hosted W. Terry Whalin, acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, who talked on “The Importance of the Pitch.” This workshop covered pitching your ideas or manuscripts for non-fiction, fiction, Christian fiction, and children’s work to literary agents at writers conferences.


August 2016 Meeting: “Character Transformation by the Beat”
by Deb McLeod, author and writing coach

Castle Rock Writers group was proud to present author and creative writing coach Deb McLeod, BA, MFA, at its next workshop, Monday, August 22, 6:30 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. The topic is “Character Transformation by the Beat,” which will help with genre fiction, literary fiction, and memoir.

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July 2016 meeting: “Plotting: Beyond Freytag” by Rick Gustafson

Castle Rock Writers hosted Rick Gustafson who  presented “Plotting: Beyond Freytag” on Monday, July 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library.

“Writing teacher and author John Gardner described plotting as the most difficult task a writer can face,” said Gustafson.  “Plotting: Beyond Freytag” explores classic theory of plotting developed by Aristotle, through and beyond Gustav Freytag’s classic plot diagram. In this 90-minute class, we will explore traditional plots and the rule breakers that have resulted in some of the most inspirational and cutting edge fiction.”

Rick Gustafson holds an MLS from the University of Denver and has won several writing awards for fiction including the E.M Koeppel Short Fiction prize in 2014. He is a weekly contributor to Colorado Community Media and works fulltime as a writer.

Laurie Marr WasmundLaurie'sNewbookJune 2016 Meeting: “Research for Fiction and Non-Fiction Writers,” Laurie Marr Wasmund, BA, MA

In June, Castle Rock Writers welcomed Laurie Marr Wasmund, editor & book doctor at Lost Ranch Books Editing. adjunct faculty at Arapahoe Community College (English Composition I and II) and former instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She shared the importance of primary resources and secondary resources, illustrating her talk with examples of how she does the research for her own fiction. The participants found her advice helpful and inspiring!

May 2016 Meeting: “Making a Great Living as a Freelance Writer,” Kevin Corbley

Castle Rock Writers hosted Kevin Corbley of Corbley Communications, Inc., Castle Rock, on Monday, May 16th, 6:30 p.m. at the Philip S. Miller Library. The presentation is “Making a Great Living as a Freelance Writer.”

Corbley is a public relations specialist who holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Notre Dame. Right out of college, Corbley worked as a journalist on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., covering the oil/gas business. Then he worked in the public relations office of an aerospace company. He started his freelance business in 1993, 23 years ago!

The speaker shared the story of how he went from geology major to freelance writer and why he thinks freelancing is great lifestyle.

“Most freelancers–whether writers, web designers, or plumbers—fail to understand their success will depend more on their business skills than anything else,” said Corbley.

April 2016 Meeting: Author Celebration!

CRW heard how other writers made their publishing dreams come true at the April CRW Monthly Workshop. Five authors working in various genres shared how they did it. CRW celebrates Jean Jacobsen (Highland Ranch), Sandy Whelchel (Parker), C.S. and Peter Boddie (Littleton), Maggie Podunovich (Colorado Springs), and Chris Richards (Castle Rock). See their photos and more information below. THANKS FOR SUPPORTING YOUR FELLOW CASTLE ROCK WRITERS!

Suggested donation for the meeting is $5 or whatever you can afford. This will help CRW cover expenses for the workshops.


Jean Jacobsen:  Jean recently published her romance novel The Reluctant Debutante. The book features a carefree heroine who has big decisions to make when her parents die suddenly. Set in New York’s Hudson River Valley, the book brings main character Clarissa together with Nicholas, a dance instructor with his own problems to solve. Jean is active in Castle Rock Writers and Colorado Romance Writers—same initials for both groups! She is founding president of the reorganized (2012) Castle Rock Writers organization


Sandy Whelchel: Sandy is the author of four published novels and eight non-fiction books. In 2013, she won the Colorado Authors League Award for Genre Fiction. Her most recent book is Images of America: Parker published by Arcadia Publishing. It is an historical overview in photos and text of Parker, Colorado’s development. Sandy is the founder of the National Writers Association, and she is a former faculty member of the Castle Rock Writers Conference.

C & P 2015 NYC b

Caryn & Peter Boddie: Peter and Caryn published two books (2014 and 2015), Lost Ski Areas of Colorado’s Central and Southern Mountains and Lost Ski Areas of Colorado’ Front Range and Northern Mountains. The books take the readers on a tour of the lost hills of Colorado where people enjoyed skiing and ski jumping before the big resorts developed. The Boddies are also author of hiking books covering Colorado, published by Falcon Press. They have sold over 100,000 copies.


Maggie Podunovich: Maggie is a former flight attendant, who was medically retired after 17 years due to back surgery.  In her 30s, she learned of letters her father had written about his life. Since he died when Maggie was six, she and her sister Mary found them fascinating. They believed his beautiful, but painful story should be told. Now it has been, in Maggie’s new book I’ve Been Only a Shadow: Letters from My Father.  Maggie is one of the original Castle Rock Writers who banded together in 1999 at the Philip S. Miller Library to learn writing skills and support each other.


J. Chris Richards: Chris is the founder of WAY—Words and Youth, conferences for teenage writers. She is a member of Toastmasters International, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and a former faculty member for CRW conferences. In her debut novel Shattered Trust, she uses her knowledge as a police wife to create suspenseful story about police officer looking for redemption at work and with family.


February and March 2016 Meetings: “Goal, Motivation and Conflict,” Pam McCutcheon


Pam McCutcheon, novelist and non-fiction writer, spoke to CRW on Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Pam McCutcheon returned in March to speak on Brainstorming for your Work-in-Progress using the basics from the book Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

January 2016 Meeting: “Living the Writer’s Life,” by Mary Taylor Young


Mary Taylor Young spoke on “Living the Writer’s Life,” with suggestions for getting organized and setting goals as a writer.

Looking Back at 2015 Workshop Leaders!

January 5, 2015—Anita Mumm, editor with Mumm’s the Word Editing Services, “Recognizing & Fixing Common Writing Mistakes.”


February 2, 2015—Nancy Stohlman, ACC faculty, “Writing Powerful Flash Fiction.”


March 2, 2015—Cherri LaMarr, Red Rocks Community College faculty, “Top 10 Ways to Work with a Book Designer on your Way to Publication.”

Cherri LaMarr

April 6, 2015—Tayve Neese, poet and instructor, “Bringing Poetic Techniques into your Prose Writing.”

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May 4, 2015—Kate Chenery Tweedy, author of Secretariat’s Meadow and other works, “Research Do’s and Don’t’s.”

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June 1, 2015—Annie Dawid, fiction writer and essayist, and Kathryn Winograd, poet and essayist, both ACC faculty, “Instagraph: Flash Prose Reading and Workshop.” 

NO JULY WORSHOP:  Happy 4th of July!

August 3, 2015—Terry Whalin, acquisitions editor, “Twelve Ways to Jumpstart Your Publishing.”


NO SEPTEMBER WORKSHOP: Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend

October 5, 2015—Chris Mandeville, “How to Write a Novel in 30 Days!” National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is an international phenomenon during which writers attempt to finish a novel in 30 days.


November 2, 2015—“Castle Rock Writers WRITE OUT” Here is a chance for NaNoWriMo novelists, along with other writers, to bring ideas, fully-charged laptops, or notebooks to get some writing time.

December 7, 2015—CRW Holiday Dinner:  Blue Nectar Restaurant, Castle Rock, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. RSVP to or by Saturday, December 5.