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Friday, March 13, 2015
Four Colorado writers share their work at The Next Page in Frisco
Get to know a quartet of Colorado authors this weekend at The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco, as the bookstore hosts a meet-and-greet event with writers from the Interstate 70 corridor.
“We are so excited to be able to host another Colorado authors event,” wrote Next Page owner Karen Berg in an email blast to bookstore regulars. “We just love the opportunity to showcase some of the incredible talent that we have right here in Summit County (and a little beyond).”
The idea for Larry Rynearson’s book “Colorado’s High Mountain Passes” could be traced back to 1975, when the author first moved to Colorado, bought a jeep and began exploring the back roads of the state. He gradually discovered that though there were bits and pieces of information scattered among many history books, there wasn’t one singular anthology that had been written about high mountain passes.
He picked out 92 passes that had once been traveled by stagecoach, covered wagon or train and, together with a photographer friend, visited every one of them, collecting history and photos for what would eventually become his first book.
“I’d done some writing way back, some newspaper stuff and just as a hobby,” said Rynearson, who resides in Glenwood Springs. “I knew I could write, I thought I could — actually, I knew I could read. All the information in my book is scattered throughout all the other books in the book index.”
On his sojourns to the various passes, Rynearson sought out libraries and historical archives nearby to find out who constructed each road or railway and why, spending time in towns stretching from Colorado Springs to Ouray and all along the I-70 corridor.
The completed hardback book is divided into six geographic sections, with GPS coordinates to go along with the stories for adventurers who want to seek out the individual passes. Rynearson said even if you don’t want to buy a copy of his book, you could flip through it at libraries from Denver to Parachute.
“Look at it because it concerns the history of the area that we live in,” he said. “It’s the only history book I know of about Colorado with colored pictures and something for everybody to enjoy.”
‘WHEN CAMELS FLY’
NLB Horton, of Vail, is one of those people who has always written — “I have an 85-year-old mother who’s threatening to sell my kindergarten writing on eBay,” she said — but it took 25 years of working with the written word at marketing agencies and as a journalist before she penned her first novel, “When Camels Fly.”
“Writing a one-page press release is vastly different from writing a 125,000-word manuscript,” Horton said, adding that the experience was still an enormous advantage when she began to write fiction. “It’s taking the training, sentence structure, all the wonderful things I learned as a journalist and adapting them to a more creative, lengthier format.”
Her style of writing is still that of a concise reporter, making sure each and every word has earned its spot on the page. It’s a style that recently propelled “When Camels Fly” to No. 78 across all genres downloaded for Amazon Kindle. The popularity of the self-published book was a bit of a surprise to Horton, who now has fans all over the world and has sold thousands of books just in the past month.
“The chances of a self-published author making the top 100 across all genres of Amazon are slim to none,” she said. “I’m really not a regional author anymore, which is totally cool.”
The protagonist of her first book and its follow-up, “The Brothers’ Keepers,” is a middle-aged, female archeologist, with a Christian worldview and a sarcastic mouth. The international settings for the novels are informed by Horton’s own travels while completing her master’s in seminary and taking part in archeological surveys in many places where “most people are too smart to go.” The books are about calculated risk, she said, something that is familiar to Colorado readers.
“Every time you hike a trail, you take a risk,” Horton said. “The adventures that I engage in here on a smaller scale translate well to standing on the edge of a dig pit in Israel with machine-gun fire coming out of Syria.”
KANGAROO AND KOALA
National Novel Writing Month proved to be the catalyst for Frisco author Doug Mendel’s first published work. In November 2012, Mendel completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a single month, words which would eventually become his children’s book, “The Adventures of Carrie the Koala and Karl the Kangaroo,” which was released last month.
“The book is basically about a kangaroo and a koala and their adventure in Australia,” he said. “They fly, they surf, they can talk, and they realize that they can be more than just a hopping and crawling marsupial. There’s so much to life that they can experience because they put their minds to it.”
The premise of the story came from a trip Mendel made to Australia in 1982. Originally intended to be a nonfiction travel story, it took about one page for the author to realize that the story was headed in another direction.
“As a traveler, I thought I would see kangaroos and koalas on street corners,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. When I realized that wasn’t really the reality, I thought I would still run with that account of what I thought would happen and create a kangaroo and koala and what would happen with their adventures.”
As a Summit County resident for the past 20 years, Mendel is known locally for his nonprofit relief fund, Firetrucks for Cambodia. He said publishing his first book provides supporters of his nonprofit with a peek into the other passions that drive him.
“It’s important for local authors to have a foundation of support locally, and hopefully, it will gain momentum to a larger spectrum, Denver, Boulder, maybe national,” he said. “My dream is that I’ll be a paid, published author, where I can live off my writings, but I have to start local to gain support and gain momentum from there.”
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
Karin Mitchell, of Silverthorne, wanted to write a book about her experiences working in residential treatment, so she composed a draft of a novel and then promptly ignored it for about half a decade.
“I didn’t know what to do with it. I had no idea how to deal with such a large body of work,” she said. Mitchell decided to go back to school and take her novel with her. “I got my master’s in writing from Regis, with the objective of I really want to learn if I’m a good writer or not.”
She sat down with an academic advisor and an outline of the primary conflict for her book, eventually developing a plainspoken writing style with a lot of figurative language. Through the revision process and many interruptions from life with her two small children, her thesis became two books, the first of which is “Between Families.”
Mitchell said she connects to her young-adult audience through shared experience.
“If you can see the value of a human experience though a book, the more you can see a living, breathing person, the more likely you are to connect, to say hey, I am not alone,” she said. “And books can really be a great outlet.”