Top 10 Tips for Talking on the Radio

Top 10 Telephone Tips to Make Your Radio Talk Show
Pay Off Handsomely   — a gift from Joe Sabah

1.   Have a glass of water handy (room temperature).
When your throat is lubricated it’s easier to talk.
Plus the water serves as a “cough button” if needed.

2.   Stand while speaking. Pretend you’re presenting a seminar.
Your voice will carry further. And you’ll sound more animated.

3.   Have a copy of their state map on your wall.
Refer to cities in the radio station’s surrounding area.
This helps make you feel like you are “one of them.”
I once made the mistake of referring to South Bend as
“South Bend, Indiana.”
The host reminded me that I was talking on a radio station in
South Bend, Wisconsin. Oops!

4.   Listen to their weather and traffic report.
This allows you to personalize your presentation.
For example: When I was being interviewed on WHIO in
Dayton, Ohio I noticed during the breaks they were referring
to their metro area as “the Miami Valley.”
So it became a natural for me to say “I believe we can help
some folks in “the Miami Valley” get their perfect job
this afternoon.” What a difference the right words make.

5.   Get your listeners involved.
For example, before the last commercial break
I ask them to get pencil and paper to write down
the three tips I guarantee will turn every job interview into
a job offer. Then they have pencil and paper ready when
I later give out my 800 number.

6.   For those who are driving around without writing tools handy,
ask your host if the listeners can go to their website.
As soon as you’re off the air, you call the station’s receptionist
and ask her or him to give out the website plus the title of your book.

7.   Give the host some quotes from your book to use as segues.
I offer quotes like: “Are You Singing The Song You Came To Sing?”
And “If You Do What You’ve Always Done,
You’ll Get What You’ve Always Gotten.
Is That Enough?”

8.   After the host uses these Inspirational Postcard Quotes on the air,
I also offer them to listeners who order my book.
Another bonus to increase  orders.

9.   Always thank both the host and the producer
for the good job they are doing.
After the show, also send each of them a handwritten note of
thanks and an offer “Let’s do it again.”

10. You may also want to ask the producer to record your show
Then listen to your show to see how you can improve the next one.
Keep on learning.
Joe has been on 723 talk shows … all from home … all by phone
earning  $376,500 in book sales … ALL AT FULL RETAIL
more valuable tips and info at
(now with 780+ Radio Talk Shows needing guests daily)
totally updated May 15 2018
and When you order our 2018 List YOU ALSO GET NEXT YEAR’S DATABASE 2019   FREE


Top 10 Telephone Tips to Make Your Radio Talk Show

How to Speak for Fun & Profit…by Joe Sabah



How to Speak for Fun and Profit


In this two-hour seminar you will
* Learn how to Book 10 Talks In 10 Days
* Discover how to Go from Free to FEE
* Learn How to Create Speech Titles that Sizzle & Sell
* Get the Magic Phone Script That Works
* How to use email to book your talks
* Receive
 422 Program Chairs who need speakers every week, every month totally updated (printed copy and digital version)
* Plus personalized attention on exactly what YOU need to rocket your speaking career to success.
* Hear testimonials of several million dollar speakers who graduated from Joe’s course.

Joe is teaming up with Dave Webb to bring you this valuable information in a two-hour, power-packed lunch meeting at Perkins Restaurant – we even buy lunch!

Tuition is $97

Perkins Restaurant
1995 S. Colorado Blvd. @ I-25
Denver, CO 80222


REWORDED BY Zig Ziglar the year before he died.

How to Speak for Fun and Profit JOE SABAHHow to Speak for Fun and Profit JOE SABAH

Throw In the Rust-Proofing and Undercoating, Too, by Becky Clark

This chapter from the novel “Banana Bamboozle” by Becky Clark placed in the

 top ten of a comedy writing contest.

            The salesgirl held up two choices for Cassidy. “The Don’t Despair lifts the tush and supports the midsection. The Magic Miss Miracle is more of a bust-to-knee—”

Cassidy grabbed it. “The Magic Miss Miracle. Perfect. Ring it up.”

“Don’t you want to try it on?”

“It comes in Missus, right? Or maternity? It’ll be fine. I believe in miracles. And I need one.”

“What about an outfit? Where are you going?”

“Mexican restaurant.” Cassidy mentally ransacked her closet. “Do you have anything guacamole-and-salsa-colored? Never mind. No time.”

Cassidy was fifty-two years old and getting ready for her first date since before the birth of Justin Bieber. Before Monica Lewinsky decided she needed a new blue dress. Before Joey Buttafuoco became the buttafuoco of jokes.

After gasping at the price and reluctantly handing over her credit card, Cassidy flew to the day spa and burst through the door. Four indistinguishable blonde 20-something girls waited for her in the reception area. Cassidy didn’t slow as they surrounded her like androids and quick-marched her through gauzy curtains. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see a contrail behind them.

“We heard it was crunch time. Cleared the schedule. I’m Emma, I’ll be doing your manicure,” the first one said. “Ellie will be doing your pedi. That’s Ellory, in charge of waxing, but we’ll all help. And that’s Alice. She’s on tanning.”

“My own pit crew. Let’s get these tires rotated, ladies!”

They began in the waxing room. Hot wax coated her from all directions. She flinched rhythmically as hair was ripped from her body. Cassidy forgot to remind them of the private neighborhoods in her personal municipality that didn’t need the Public Works Department. At the last minute, Cassidy convinced them to use only the trimmer around her Recreation Center. They argued, citing traffic concerns, but finally conceded. When they flipped her to her stomach, she saw the pile of hairy muslin strips on the floor like so many cartoon moustaches.

When they were done, they helped her off the table. She took a wide stance and they went to work with spatulas and bottles of oil, scraping off the sticky bits like she was a pancake griddle.

The four girls worked silently. Cassidy hoped they were concentrating on the job but realized they were probably rethinking their career choice. Nobody jumped out of bed and shouted, “Yippee! Today I’m going to inspect an old lady for stray body hair and wax bits.”

Emma handed her a robe and led her to a dimly-lit room where soft classical music played. A steamy tub of vanilla-scented water beckoned. Ah, this is more like it. Emma pointed out the best soap to remove the oil, then left. Cassidy stepped into the tub and sank into its warmth.

As her muscles considered relaxing, there was a rap on the door. It opened immediately. “Ready for you,” Alice said.

“I just got in. I haven’t even soaped up yet.”

“Okay.” Instead of leaving, Alice squirted some spearmint botanical soap in her hands and rubbed them together. “Left leg.”

Cassidy raised her left leg out of the tub and Alice soaped it from mid-thigh to between her toes, making Cassidy giggle, despite the seriousness of the situation.

“Left arm.” Alice grabbed Cassidy’s hand and soaped from wrist to tricep to armpit across boobage to belly button and back again. Again, Cassidy giggled, even while willing herself not to.

“Right leg.” Soap, giggle, rinse.

“Right arm.” Soap, giggle, rinse.

Alice handed her a soft cloth, pointed to her face and commanded, “Scrub.” Cassidy did as she was told while Alice pulled the plug in the tub.


Cassidy stood.

Alice took the shower nozzle and sprayed her, rinsing stray soap bubbles down the drain. She held out a towel. “Dry.” When Cassidy was dry, Alice helped her back into her robe and led her to the tiny spray tan room. There was just enough space for the two of them to maneuver on the 4 x 4 canvas tarp stained with dozens of shades of brown. Alice handed her a paper thong and a hair net. Cassidy stared at the thong. “You’re worried about my modesty now?”

Alice shrugged. “Ever had an airbrush tan?” Cassidy shook her head. “Stand like this. Arms like this.” Cassidy mimicked her. “When I say ‘Face’ that means I’m doing your, you know, face. So close your eyes, hold your breath, and do your lips like this.” Alice tucked in her lips and so did Cassidy. “Ready?” Cassidy’s tucked lips could only manage a weird bleating noise.

Alice fired up a hand-held device that looked like a garden hose attachment for poisoning weeds. Cassidy stood as directed while Alice painted her body with Bronze Buff. When she finished, about twenty minutes later, she shut off the compressor. “Fifteen minutes to dry.” She turned on banks of box fans, stacked floor-to-ceiling on three sides of the tiny room. “Stand in front of the fans with your arms up until I come get you. And don’t scratch. Even if you itch.”

Cassidy wasn’t itchy until that very moment. Fifteen minutes is an eternity when all you can think of is not scratching. Finally Alice came back with a very lightweight — and except for a few well-placed butterflies and flowers — mostly see-through sleeveless shift. Cassidy grabbed for her robe but Alice got to it first. “Too heavy. Ruin your tan.” She helped her into the shift and Cassidy snapped it up the front.

The final stage of her transformation was her mani/pedi. Emma worked on her hands, Ellie on her feet. They soaked, scrubbed, polished and buffed while Cassidy sat in the massage chair and got kneaded, pummeled, smoothed and soothed.

Four hours and twenty-seven minutes after rushing through the door of the Head to Toe Day Spa, she rushed out again and headed home to finish getting ready for her date.

Those enchiladas better be worth it.

Ten Reasons to Attend CRW Conference

  1. Hone your writing skills, free your imagination, and expand your creativity!  
  2. Learn from published authors and experienced workshop leaders.
  3. Work on your manuscript or start one at one of the four tracks offered.   
  4. Experience some of what the fabulous 3-day conferences offer without the expense of overnight stays, childcare, and pet sitters.
  5. Attend the Friday evening session for an invaluable experience!
  6. Pitch to an agent in person or via Skype. Your registration fee covers it.
  7. Have your headshot taken at the conference.
  8. Kick back in the Gathering Area with other writers.      
  9. Look over the Book Tables for early holiday presents for those you love.
  10. Be inspired by meeting other writers and picking up practical information on how to navigate through the waters of today’s publishing world. 


Q & A with Trai Cartwright, MFA, Workshop Presenter

by Jean Jacobsen

Can you give us a little bit on your professional background?

I have over 25 years’ experience as a professional story breaker. While in Los Angeles, I was a development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. Now I’m a happily-busy writing consultant and editor who works with writers one-on-one, and I teach at universities and for writers’ organizations across Colorado. I am also a screenwriter and independent film producer and founder of organizations that connect Colorado writers with their futures.

Education seems to be an important part of your message. What educational paths do you think are most beneficial for writers?

All educational paths are beneficial to writers. From classes and conferences to working with a writers’ group, to engaging the services of an editor, to reading reading reading, and then writing writing writing some more – all of this is going to elevate not only your skills, but raise your confidence and help you deliver work that you can be proud of. It’s a lot of work, but it’s the most fun work there is.

Creatively you write across multiple genres. What advice do you have for writers who want to jump into a new genre?

My advice for jumping genres (or mediums, i.e., fiction to non-fiction or screenwriting) is to study your new element. Audiences have definite expectations, so it’s important to have a sense of what those expectations are so that you might serve—or bend them. There used to be a marketing mandate that said a writer could only write in one genre/medium, as audiences would “get confused” if a different story emerged. The truth is, readers are by nature voracious and loyal and if they love your voice and trust your taste as a storyteller, they will follow you anywhere.

This year one of the workshops you are presenting is “Building Your Novel: 6 Critical Questions.” Can we get a sneak peak?

After so many years in development, both fiction and screenwriting, it became apparent that there are most definitely two things writers need to consider when they approach their stories: 1. That a book doesn’t magically happen, that there is intelligent design (yours!) behind it, and 2. There are issues at the heart of every book that can be broken down into questions that we can consider. We’re going to look at those foundation issues and give a high-level workshop on what they are and how to make them work for your stories. I love this class because so many writers have breakthroughs when they apply these questions.

Tell us about your workshop “Top 10 Storytelling Devices Taken from the Movies.”

Hollywood, for better or for worse, has cracked the story structure code and that structural piece is now a part of nearly every movie and book in the modern marketplace. They’re also amazing at creating characters fast and efficiently – this workshop tips their hand for fiction writers so they can make use of these techniques. I love teaching this class because it combines my two writing loves: film and books!

How can writers make the most of their conference experience?

Do not rest. Rest is for Sunday. Miss nothing, go to everything. Talk. Rumor has it that writers are painfully shy, insular creatures who cringe at human contact. Conferences are filled with your people, people who get it and get how hard this is. Reach out both to agents and editors and teachers, but to your fellow conference-goers, too. They could use the boost, and you’re gonna make a new ally.

Oh! And pitch! Even if your book isn’t perfect, practice pitching to the available agents and editors! This is how you sell your work, so make those contacts now. I believe in this so much that I run an event with Link Miller called the “Ultimate Pitchfest” – we Skype in 25 agents so writers can pitch as many people as they want digitally. It was hugely successful last year, and we can’t wait to do it again this year!

Tell us about the Friday Night “What’s Right about Your Writing” panel.

It’s absolutely crucial for writers to get insight into their work. Writers groups are a great first stop, but you have to push yourself to take in the info available from professional editors and agents. They see things differently – they know what it takes to sell, and to get that info can make a huge different in your work.

What is “right” about your writing right now?
I’m finally at a skill level where I am hired to write other people’s films! This is a big breakthrough for me, and I’m thrilled to say that I’m working on two Colorado projects, Secret Ellington and Cheap Cabernet, and there’s a couple more on the horizon.

What are you reading right now?

Mostly I read client manuscripts. Just finished a divine memoir about a couple who adopted two kids from Ethiopia, and a screenplay military thriller based on an isolated island base. I love this kind of reading – all the passion and hopes of writers putting it out there, being willing to share, and then to do the work to get their work to a publishing level. I’ve been in development for 25 years, and I absolutely adore the process, even if it means I don’t have time for the new Lev Grossman book.

 You also do a lot of work with young writers through the Explorati Teen Writers Boot Camp. How did you come to starting this group? Is there something you see in young writers that you don’t in adult writers?

I was a writer as a kid, as many of us were. I wrote seven books by the time I was 15 when I shifted my attention to theater. There was zero support for a weirdo like me. Explorati Teens is exactly the program I wish I’d had when I was that age. Members of our tribe, getting together to talk about the stuff that no one else gets or is interested in, a real opportunity to celebrate and affirm who we are, and to dig into the craft of our work. Teens are my heart, and it’s my honor to bring Explorati Teens back to Denver for the 8th summer in 2016.

Right now you have a campaign on for Colorado Script Exchange. What are the aims of the Script Exchange?

Without screenplay agents in Colorado or any organized way to pass scripts around, Colorado writers are left without any means of showing their work. The goal of the Colorado Script Exchange is to create a platform where writers can post info about their work and media-makers can “shop” for their future projects. In short, we’re building our own screenwriting marketplace in the hopes of starting up meaningful conversations between writers and makers – and maybe even spark a production or two.

In what little free time you seem to have you also helped found the Colorado Smart Film Investment Coalition. What draws you to these community based organizations?

Hollywood is community based, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Your network is your lifeblood, the people who support your career and even create opportunities for you. I worked with wonderful people there, and they taught me to always reach out a hand and help others. To my mind, the only way to thrive in a tricky business like the publishing world or the film industry is to do it together. Be generous or be alone.

Beyond writing and community work you also offer freelance writing, editing and consulting services. Can all writers benefit from working with an editor? What are the perks to freelancing that other writing careers don’t offer? If someone wanted to get into freelance writing and editing do you have any tips?

All writers can benefit from working with an editor – but it’s important they are the right editor. Do your homework. Make sure there’s a personal connection there. Ask for testimonies if they aren’t readily supplied. The right editor can cut drafts (and drafts) out of the development process and make you understand your own writing better.

As for freelancing, well, isn’t for everyone. But for someone like me who is extremely self-motivated and, shall we say, has a problem with authority figures, it’s terrific. I like my boss. I love my “clients” whether they are in a classroom or on the other end of a manuscript. This job is the best I’ve ever had, and I fight every day to do it well and to keep it.
Tips to go freelance? You have to be seriously passionate about this space or you won’t have the energy to sustain a business. You also have to be realistic about whether you can live with the financial ups and downs, and whether you have the temerity to constantly be looking for work. That part grinds. Try doing it part time and see if it’s a good fit. You’ll also be able to build your network during this trial period. Then go for it! We need all the great editors and writers we can get!

Hollywood Veteran, Writer, and Professor Trai Cartwright Talks Craft and Career

by Lindsey Lewis Smithson

Colorado based writer Trai Cartwright has taught, produced, and learned her craft from nearly every aspect possible. She started her career at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, spent time working for Leonardo DiCaprio, founded a youth writing camp, and happened to work in Hollywood for nearly 20 years.  The Castle Rock Writers are proud, once again, to be able to bring Trai, her talents and her enthusiasm, to the Annual Conference at the PACE Center in Parker on November 7th.

Poetry & Youth Songwriting Part 2: Swallow Hill Music

Songwriting is rarely taught. It’s instinctual. Or is it? Maybe you’re already do everything right. The notebook by your bed is full of sleepy-eyed, dreamscape lyrics, your phone holds hours of recorded cords and melodies, and best of all, your bff screeches, “You’re gonna be a star!” after every song.  There’s no better feeling than the encouragement from your loved ones. They can carry you through the desert lands of inspiration and be an invaluable source of collaboration. But there are also resources like SETH who will be teaching his workshop, The Poetry of Writing Song Lyrics at the November 7th Castle Rock Writers cConference (Part 1 of this article – read it here) and of course, there is the school of music in Colorado, Swallow Hill Music.

Swallow Hill Music, a non-profit established in 1979, strives to positively impact the quality of people’s lives through the art of music. Besides providing private lessons, camps and concerts for all ages, they also host a yearly Young Songwriters Competition. Thomas Koenigs, a student of Regis Jesuit High School and 2015 winner of the Swallow Hill songwriters’ competition, explains that he used to be shy about his music. Then someone told him that music was an expression of the self.

“We aren’t perfect people, but we grow. Good music reflects that imperfection and personal growth,” said Koenigs. “Expression does not and should not require justification or explanation.”

Swallow Hill’s Director of School Operations, Cheri Gonzales, counsels kids starting out to “never be afraid to try something new and challenging.”  She encourages young songwriters to perform as much as possible, actively participating to “create material that is completely unique to [them] as an individual.”

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and into a state of unease might be frightening, but it can also lead to an ultimate experience of performance euphoria and acceptance. So make it fun, get crazy, and rejoice in the double takes and sideways smiles of those around you as you recite poetry to your dog or sing in your car. Invest in a rhyming dictionary or find one online, like, because rhyme can make for powerful lyrics.

Be sure to create an irresistible hook. Songs often have several hooks. The title, chorus, and riffs. Use everything you can to keep your audience captivated. Write about topics or events that interest you, not what’s popular in music at the moment, unless the two are the same. Koenigs’ winning song, Beat the Drum wasn’t about love lost or flashy lifestyles; it told the story about three musicians that suffered from mental illness, drug use and acts of rage. Subjects that evokes strong emotion–like Ferguson, Koenigs’ most recent song—touches both our hearts and our beliefs.

The emotions songs lyrics evoke remind us of our humanity. But it isn’t about telling: it’s about showing. Write lyrics that conjure vivid images. Try word associations by writing all the words you think about for a certain event, subject or detail, and use these words in your song.  When you think you’re done, put it down for a few days. Revisit it with a critical eye. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Just like fiction writing, don’t be afraid to kill off that character, chorus, or single line that, in the end, is throwing off your work. As Gonzales says, “It’s like a beautiful puzzle that fits together just the way [you] want it to.”

Swallow Hill Music’s annual Young Songwriters Competition starts in February. There’s no fee to enter and according to Gonzales, contestants usually take total responsibility for the process of submission deadlines, although parents are welcome to be involved. But who can wait for 2016?  Starting November 1st Swallow Hill offers a program called House of Rock.

“Here they’ll work constructively within a group of kids with similar goals and passions. You might see a timid 13-year-old the first day of camp who’s very soft-spoken and nervous and by the last day that same [kid] is shredding an electric guitar solo at [a] performance,” says Gonzales.

Teens that participate in the House of Rock will perform a concert at Moe’s BBQ for their final class.

The Castle Rock Writers Conference will offer a similar experience for teen poets who attend Jovan Mays’ Slam Poetry workshop. Jovan will lead students through the process of creating poetry using tools to craft pieces that can be performed in three minutes or less. Teens will then be invited to kick off CRW’s January free monthly workshop by performing their Slam Poetry for family and friends.

Opportunities for youth expression abound in Colorado. Coloradoans are passionate about their art and culture and want to pass on that love to their children. The success of non-profit organizations like Swallow Hill Music and Castle Rock Writers proves that expression through music and writing is an important part of that culture.

Read the full interviews with SETH, Thomas Koenigs, and Cheri Gonzales at Information about Swallow Hill Music can be found at Swallow Hill has also donated one of their Family Memberships to CRW to offer during their silent auction. Information about CRW can be found at

Interview with Cheri Gonzales, Swallow Hill Music Director of School Operations

 by Tania Urenda

The vision of Swallow Hill Music is to positively improve the quality of people’s lives through music. How does Swallow Hill Music fulfill this vision with the Young Songwriter’s competition? 

The vision of Swallow Hill Music is to positively improve the quality of people’s lives through music. How does Swallow Hill Music fulfill this vision with the Young Songwriter’s competition?

The vision of Swallow Hill Music is to positively improve the quality of people’s lives through music. How does Swallow Hill Music fulfill this vision with the Young Songwriter’s competition? 

I think the children and teens who we serve provide us with the most honest reaction to the programming we provide. You can tell instantly by their level of enthusiasm what music they absolutely love and also when they find the learning of certain skills completely boring. I’ve found this is most seen in the teen age range, which is the primary age group for the Young Songwriter’s Competition.

The teens who participate in the competition want to be involved. I mostly hear from the participants directly; they rarely contact me through their parents. They go through all the steps of the submission process and are completely on top of deadlines and email responses. I believe our vision is seen throughout this competition through challenging these young adults creatively and professionally through the power and process of music. Once we arrive at the live competition I’ve been able to witness the parents of the contestants listening to what their children have created. That positive reaction and pre and post-show encouragement is also completely exemplary of our vision as an organization.

How does songwriting benefit today’s youth? 

I have always found songwriting to be much like journaling – a way for anyone to express any feelings and organize them in whatever way they choose. I think the concept of just writing thoughts and feelings down is huge for today’s youth, and the concept of actually putting those words and phrases to song challenges them even more. It’s like a beautiful puzzle that fits together just as they want it to.

Besides the prizes awarded by your organization, what benefits do the competitors experience during the competition process?  

The participants go through a submission process and a waiting period to see if they have been selected to participate in the competition, which is based on a point system for various criteria. They also go through a pre-show sound check process and use a green room so they are really experiencing the competition as if it were any other live production.

What is your favorite part of working with youth and their musical passions?

Another program we offer at Swallow Hill Music is our House of Rock program. We offer six House of Rock summer camps for teens ages 13-18 and every summer I witness campers transform over the course of each week-long camp. Not only do they learn more about themselves as musicians but they learn how to work constructively within a group of kids with similar goals and passions. You might see a timid 13-year-old the first day of camp who’s very soft-spoken and nervous and by the last day that same camper is shredding an electric guitar solo at the performance.  

Do you have any advice for young songwriters who might be starting out and those wanting to succeed the in music industry?

I would advise them to never be afraid to try something new or challenging. Say “yes” as much as possible to performance opportunities, because actively participating is the best way to learn. I would also encourage young songwriters to be themselves and not try to write lyrics or melodies just because it’s what’s popular at the time – create material that is completely unique to you as an individual. If that means hitting a trash can as your drum and chanting, do it.

Interview with Thomas Koenigs – 2015 Swallow Hill Young Songwriter Competition Winner

by Tania Urenda

Tania: What school and grade were you attending when you won the Swallow Hill Young Songwriter competition?

Thomas: I was a sophomore at Regis Jesuit High School when I was awarded with the Grand Prize at the Swallow Hill Youth Songwriter competition.

Tania: What was the name of the song you wrote for the competition? What kind of song is it?

Thomas: I wrote a song called, “Beat the Drum,” a positive title for a much darker song. It tells a story, that’s all I can really say.

Tania: Do you consider songwriting an expression of poetry?

Thomas: Of course. Poetic expression can’t be confined to one device. I’ve read and researched Marina Abramovic more than I’d like to admit. During one performance piece, she gnaws into a raw onion. Whatever that artistic expression means, damn, I’ll never know. But that doesn’t matter. Who am I to judge her? Expression does not and should not require justification or explanation. If eating an onion is art, then songwriting better damn well be poetry.

Tania: Did your love of music start with songwriting, singing, or playing a musical instrument? How do you feel that benefited you?

Thomas: It started with listening. I sat for hours with my parents as they worked. I picked up on melodies from The Beatles to The Beach Boys, The Temptations to The Jackson Five. Slowly but surely, I found myself being able to mimic the progressions on the piano and later on the guitar. Being able to strengthen that skill has given me the ability to hum a tune and try it out on various instruments.

Tania: Where does your inspiration come from? Experiences? People? Feelings?

Thomas: My inspiration comes from events. I’ve written some songs about feelings, but I guess I can explain myself much better through someone or something else.

Tania: What process do you use for songwriting, I.e. do you start with a musical chorus or words? What tools help you create?

Thomas: I always have a vague tune in mind, but most of the words are buried in my head. Literally. When it becomes too much, something is bound to fall out. The trick is waiting.

Tania: How many songs have you written? How do you test or share your pieces?

Thomas: I’ve written about 25 songs in total. But quantity is not quality. I try to slip songs in while playing for parents or siblings. My folks don’t sugarcoat. Both are lawyers and very opinionated. If they don’t like something, I’ll get the message.

Tania: Have you experienced failure? Do you have any advice for someone your age who is struggling with rejection or lacks inspiration?

Thomas: Sure I have, and I’m not embarrassed. I used to be really shy about my music, but then someone told me that music is an expression of the self. We aren’t perfect people, but we grow. Good music reflects that imperfection and personal growth.

Tania: What kind of issues do you care about?

Thomas: I care about any issue really. The song I sang at the competition was about Daniel Johnston, Sid Vicious, and Phil Spector, and how brilliant but crazy they were. My most recent song is about Ferguson. I’d have to say I concern myself with issues that many are concerned about.

Tania: What did winning this contest mean to you? What was your favorite part of the competition? Was there an opportunity to network or collaborate with fellow musicians/writers?

Thomas: I felt honored to even be considered for it and even more to win. Though I had fun performing, I had even more fun meeting new people. Swallow Hill is almost like a second home. I met up with people that I can now collaborate with, but also just be with. Swallow Hill people are my people.

Poetry and Youth Songwriting:

Part I. Welcoming SETH

Poetry intimidates me. I literally cringe when I think about writing stanzas. And yet each day, poetry resonates within me in the form of music. It calms me through Denver’s frustrating rush hour, pushes me during a dreadful workout, and makes my heart soar when my children sing their sweet melodies. It transcends age, gender, race and even geography as it unites us as a people. And it’s so very therapeutic. We cry. We scream. We laugh. Even a star like Taylor Swift used poetry and songwriting to work through the emotional turmoil of being a bullied outcast in her younger years. Poetry in songwriting is not only a safe and creative way to find solace, but by sharing our deep secrets, emotions and experiences, songwriters help others cope with similar feelings, both good and bad. It’s no wonder that reading, writing, and music carry so much weight with teens as they traverse through some of the most volatile and confusing parts of their lives.

This is why I was extremely excited when the speaker coordinator for the Castle Rock Writers, Susan Rocco-McKeel, asked SETH, local poet, performer, writer, and instructor, to lead a workshop at this year’s CRW conference on November 7. SETH will be leading an interactive workshop for young writers entitled the “Poetry of Writing Song Lyrics.” SETH – always capitalized – ­will be one of ten workshop leaders teaching an exciting array of writing classes with topics ranging from research to the art of writing to getting published.

SETH has been teaching the mastery of literary arts and creative expression since 1999. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t reading poetry that led SETH to becoming a poet; it was the poetry he heard in song lyrics that provided the initial spark. For his workshop, he’ll be sharing a technique he calls the “extended metaphor.” In an interview with CRW he explained, “You start with a metaphor, say using a zoo to describe what your heart is going through. Think of all the things you associate with the zoo. The various animals. The zoo keeper. Cages. The ‘Do Not Feed’ signs.” During his workshop, SETH will help guide attendees transform these extended metaphor associations into verses and choruses. This is the first time CRW has offered such a unique and exciting opportunity for poets and songwriters.

“It’s a simple technique, but once you’ve mastered the concept, you’re well on the road to writing great lyrics,” said SETH.

As writers we know to always, always, always have something to write on, no matter the day, time or place. A notebook, tablet, napkin…doesn’t matter. Inspiration will hit you when you least expect it. But if you’re struggling for inspiration, SETH has some advice. “Relax. Eventually it will come. Follow your own intuitions and something uniquely you will emerge.” He explains that his most original, innovative stories and poems occurred when he was not taking himself or what he wrote too seriously – instead tinkering and playing with words and form.

During the Castle Rock Writers Conference SETH will have CDs and books available. His book Black Odyssey (2013) encompasses everything from love, death, soul searching and “trying [to] make sense of this psychotic sea called existence.”

SETH performs at the “Jam before the Slam” which he hosts at the Mercury Café in Denver every Sunday night from 7 to 8 pm. His band, Art Compost & the Word Mechanics, improvises with his poetry and the poetry of anyone who is willing to share. Videos of his jams can be found on his website at The full interview with SETH can be found at

The yearly Castle Rock Writers conference is known for its supportive and intimate workshops. Everyone who attends shares a passion and pure joy for the written word. I guarantee you’ll leave with new friends and inspiration to last you for months to come. For the first time the annual conference will take place at the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center (PACE), 20000 Pikes Peak Avenue in Parker. Registration is $85, which includes a catered lunch and a literary pitch for writers with a manuscript or idea. High school students in grades 11 and 12 and those in college enjoy the same benefits as adults, but at a discounted price of $35. Educators can attend for $45. Price at the door is $95 and does not include the catered lunch. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. Workshop sessions end at 4:30 p.m. Registered, published authors can sell their books at the conference bookstore run by the BookBar.

A pre-conference Friday night event will feature a panel of attorneys speaking on Intellectual Property Rights for writers. Price for the Friday event is $10 with conference registration or $20 at the door.

More information on the 2015 Castle Rock Writers Conference can be found at or email CRW at"> for more information.