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2015 PPWC: August Message from the Director

Although the 23rd annual  conference is nine months away, the planning committee is hard at work selecting faculty and workshops.

Coming soon:  We will reveal the 2015 Keynote speakers on Sept. 15th, which coincides nicely with the opening of The Zebulon writing contest. Keep an eye on the Conference portion of the website as we add agents, editors, other faculty and more details.

We’ve got some exciting changes and new events coming up, including a complete revamp of the way “Pitch” is conducted at Conference. In addition, this fall we’ll debut a fun new contest where one lucky winner can earn 50% off their conference registration fee. And that’s just the beginning!

Stay tuned for updates, announcements, and video messages. Your adventure is calling!

MB Partlow
Conference Director, PPWC 2015

2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference – The Adventure is Beginning!

Are you an Author? An Agent? An Editor? Do you have special skills that aspiring writers want to learn about? If so, Pikes Peak Writers invites you to submit workshop proposals for the 23rd Annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference to be held April 24-26, 2015, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

We are looking for faculty members who are dynamic presenters with the ability to lead informative and entertaining workshops, as well as engage our attendees on all writing-related topics. Craft. Business. Genre. Reality/How-to. The Writing Life. And so much more.  Our attendees come from all backgrounds and experience levels so we are seeking workshops for beginner, intermediate and advanced writers.

Come and experience first-hand why the Pikes Peak Writers Conference has been named one of the friendliest conferences in the United States. Submit your proposals at the Pikes Peak Writers Workshop Proposal Portal now! The portal is open year round, but if you wish to be considered for the 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, please submit your workshops by October 31st, 2014.

Before submitting your proposal, we highly recommend you visit Proposing A Workshop for more details about exactly what we’re looking for.

If you have any questions about conference faculty or programming, please contact Jason Henry at

We look forward to seeing your proposals for PPWC 2015!

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2014

We Made It Happen!

The 22nd Pikes Peak Writers Conference ended as a dizzying success. From inspiring keynotes to encouraging editors and agents, workshops on craft to workshops on the publishing climate, and everything in between, this conference provided an exhausting and exhilarating array of opportunities to grow, reach, and succeed as writers.

Gail Carriger reminded us that for writers, writing is breathing. How could you ever choose between breathing and anything else? Jim C. Hines magnified the importance of providing all readers with relatable stories, not just the perceived majority. With so much diversity in the world, it only makes sense to find the same in our books. Hank Phillippi Ryan validated the fact that we all have songs not yet written. What are we waiting for? Go for it. Do it. Don’t wait. And Chuck Wendig made us laugh. “Go home book, you’re drunk!” Then he made us dream. Success may seem impossible, but if we chip away at our goals one by one, if we embrace our vision for our writing career, we will in fact…make it happen. To ease Mrs. Wendig’s mind, no one threw up on anyone during his speech.

The excitement started with a low hum Thursday morning that steadily grew to a cacophony of success by Sunday afternoon.

Friday night lured out Steampunk interpretations during the steampunk themed dinner. Impressive arrays of gears and goggles tickled the eye and enlightened the imagination.

Saturday’s lunch allowed for a moment of silence to mourn the loss of those taken too soon. Bonnie Hagan honored those we miss with wise words reminding each of us not to wait on pursuing our passions, but to seize the now.

The Saturday evening awards banquet honored the PPWC volunteers who so highly deserved recognition for their tireless efforts throughout the year and years past. Bonnie Hagan for the Legacy Award, her constant efforts over many years and her historical knowledge proved priceless. J.T. Evans for the Volunteer of the Year Award. As PPW President, J.T. has revamped and renewed PPW in an extraordinary way with hours and hours of effort that will benefit this organization for years to come. M.B. Partlow for the Conference Volunteer of the Year Award. M.B. has worked with passion as programming director for years and now has taken on the task of tackling PPWC 2015 director. Her experience and vision will no doubt propel this next year into another madly successful conference and leave you with Goosebumps. The Zebulon contest winners took their places center stage for some rousing applause celebrating their success.

Attendees had over ninety-five opportunities to tighten their craft, debunk some common myths, practice pitches, and concisely discuss current manuscripts, plus make new friends, accomplish some networking, and stretch their comfort zones in the classrooms, over meals, and long into the night at the Marriott bar. Editors Terri Bischoff, Sarah Peed, Terese Ramin, and Sara Sargent helped demystify the intimidating machine that is the publishing industry while Amy Boggs, Michelle L. Johnson, Kristin Nelson, Beth Phelan, Gordon Warnock, and Carlisle Webber encouraged writers to learn the process and to send out their best work.

Multiple contests, a Killion Group and Hot Damn Designs attendee mixer, costume dinner, silent auction, professional photo shoot opportunities, and more propelled attendees through to the conference end with laughter, excitement, and a beautiful motivation to write. The library enjoyed another year of success offering genre books, craft books, t-shirts, audio cd’s and much more. A little writerly retail therapy to calm the nerves and settle the excitement. Sunday shone bright with an impressive hold over of attendees all grasping for one more kernel of knowledge, one last uttered brilliance, one last shared inspiration…and they got it. We all went home Sunday having reached the goal of this conference.

Write Here, Write Now. We Made it Happen.

Amanda Bylsma

Amanda BylsmaIt is with a heavy heart that we announce that one of our long-time volunteers, Amanda Bylsma, has passed away. She always brightened every room she was in, and her high energy will be missed.

Some of you may have been aware that Amanda was our pitch appointments coordinator.  A previous pitch coordinator, Bonnie Hagan, has stepped up to help ease the loss by ensuring that pitch appointments will continue as planned.

The 2014 Zebulon Writing Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to all of the winners of our revamped contest, The Zebulon. Pikes Peak Writers also sends out a hearty thanks to everyone that made the relaunch a great success. We all owe Jeff Schmoyer, our contest director, a hearty round of applause. To all of the people that offered up their precious time to judge and critique the entries, we thank you. Lastly, a great deal of appreciation goes out to our VIP judges for this year. You can review the winners for this year at the new contest winners page.

Phillip Nutman

Phil Nutman
Phil Nutman

We regret to report we’ve just learned of the passing of author, Phillip Nutman.  Phil was on the faculty at PPWC 2011 and delighted attendees with his quick wit and congenial manner. He will be missed.

PPWC 2013 Delivers Big

The 21st Pikes Peak Writers Conference was a hugely successful weekend of amazing workshops, motivational speeches, and informative presentations. Our inspiring keynote speakers included: Amber Benson, an actor/director/writer who reminded us all how lucky we are to be writers in this point in history; Libba Bray, who gave one of the funniest, and at the same time most poignant, keynote speeches I’d ever heard; David Liss, a hilarious speaker and insightful teacher whose listeners mobbed the bookstore; and Barry Eisler, whose casual discussion of traditional versus digital publishing has touched off an internet firestorm. It was not remotely a dull weekend. On Friday at lunch, Barbara Nickless spoke movingly about all she gained when the Waldo Canyon Fire consumed her home. Barbara’s speech not only set the tone for the entire conference, she embodied the theme of “Writing from the Ashes… Never Lose Sight of Your Dreams.” Attendees were offered a dizzying array of over 70 workshops to choose from as well as 15 Read & Critique sessions, 9 informal un-workshops, and countless discussions over meals, at the mixers, or in the bar. Many attendees heard the words “send it” from an editor or agent, and they left in high spirits. Others seriously pondered the worlds of digital and independent publishing and considered a path to publication they’d previously ignored. Brian Schwartz, president of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association, taught an extended session on the topic of independent publishing in his “Pixels to Profit” sessions. Editors Michael Braff, Christopher Hernandez, Pat Van Wie, and Deb Werksman busted through the myths about book publishing in our “Mythbusting Editors” panel. Literary Agents Hannah Bowman, Sorche Fairbank, Barry Goldblatt, Shannon Hassan, Nicole Resciniti, Kate Testerman, and Pamela Van Hylckama Vlieg did the same in our “Mythbusting Agents” panel. Both editors and agents also presented informative workshops, read attendees’ first pages, and took pitches. The conference bookstore enjoyed huge success in a new location, the Marriott’s glass-walled conference room. The faculty booksigning on Saturday was one of our most successful ever. Featured speaker David Liss was so popular in his Thursday and Friday sessions that we’d nearly sold out his entire stock of books before the booksigning on Saturday. (Sorry, David!) On Saturday Night we honored our volunteers. Shannon Lawrence received the Pikes Peak Writers Volunteer of the Year award, while the PPW Conference Volunteer of the Year award went to two people, Jennifer LaPointe and MB Partlow. All three of these women have been extraordinary in their tireless work for Pikes Peak Writers over the past year. Thank you to these award winners and all our dedicated volunteers. Then came the big announcement. Many of you know that the PPW Fiction Writing Contest had been retired last year. We presented a retrospective on Saturday Night highlighting the tremendous success that has arisen out of the contest over the last twenty years. Afterward, we announced that the contest is returning with a new, revamped format. Be looking for more information here on our website this summer. By the time attendees left on Sunday there was not only tremendous emotion – and exhaustion – but also the sense that everyone had been a part of something special. We carried with us the knowledge that we are writers. And we are the luckiest people in the world.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2013

By Bonnie Hagan, Director PPWC 2013

Community. In a word, that’s what any good writer’s organization creates. Pikes Peak Writers excels at bringing people together from across the world, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference. A solid corps of dedicated people devote countless hours creating this weekend of cutting edge information, amazing opportunities, essential feedback, and writing wisdom. We’re a community. And as we were reminded last year, community doesn’t burn. Times are hard, tensions around the world are high, and many dreams die a slow, thirsty death. That’s why Pikes Peak Writers Conference is more important now than ever. We remain dedicated to excellence. We bring our agents and editors from afar. We seek out published authors with sterling reputations to speak to us. We find the professionals who are in the know to help us make sense of an ever-changing industry. We create an environment of mutual support that sends our attendees home riding the emotional high of their lives. And we do it all at a competitively low price. When you attend the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, you will see new faces like Lisa Renee Jones, Bob Liparulo, Lynda Hilburn, Twist Phelan, and Laura Resau. Established Colorado authors, all of them. And all of them new to our conference. We also bring best-selling authors like Libba Bray, Barry Eisler, David Liss, and Amber Benson from across the country to bring their delightful and distinctive voices to our mealtimes and workshops. Not all of the presenters are new, of course, and the familiar faces of longtime PPW folks are part of the magic of our conference. The only thing missing is you. Has your dream of writing grown a bit dusty from neglect or has your writing career gotten mired in the mud? What demons prevent you from the success you imagine? When you attend Pikes Peak Writers Conference, you’ll not only find the knowledge to write from the ashes and realize your dreams, you’ll find a group of people who will supply you with writing tools, support your goals, and surprise you with their genuine warmth. In short, you find community.

January 2013 Board of Director Changes

Note from Mandy Houk:

Last September, I was honored to take on the role of Pikes Peak Writers’ president. I have benefitted personally and professionally from my membership and volunteerism with this organization for the past six years, so I was excited for the opportunity to give back in a more meaningful way. In December, I wrote a piece for the Pikes Peak Writers blog, comparing the impending new year to the turn of a page. Even as I wrote that piece, I was in the midst of discovering that what was on my own family’s “next page” was going to change our lives in significant ways. I’m sad to say that the changes on this metaphorical page make it impossible for me to continue as the president of Pikes Peak Writers. The details are personal, but suffice it to say that our extended family members are facing struggles that necessitate immediate, active, and prolonged engagement from me. I simply cannot fulfill the roles I’m needed for in my family and continue in leadership with Pikes Peak Writers. In keeping with our bylaws, vice president Laura Hayden has accepted the role of president in my place. To fill the vacant seat of vice president, the board has unanimously elected J.T. Evans, and he has graciously accepted. All other board members will remain in their current roles, and are prepared to fully support Laura and J.T .during this time of transition and beyond it. I trust that you are familiar with Laura, Queen of the Universe and integral part of this wonderful organization since its inception. As for J.T., he became a member of Pikes Peak Writers in 2008, and since that time has been a faithful conference attendee and volunteer. Most recently, he has worked with the board and with our administrator, Michelle Baker, to update our website and train key volunteers to keep it current. In addition, for the past four years J.T. served as president of Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. Pikes Peak Writers is privileged to have this wonderful writer and dedicated, experienced volunteer join our board of directors. I am indescribably grateful to each member of the board – including its newest member, J.T. – for the compassion and understanding that was shown to me over the past few weeks. While I regret the suddenness of my departure, I am more than confident that Pikes Peak Writers is in the very best sets of hands. God bless you all, and Happy Writing.

Note from Laura Hayden, Current PPW President:

It’s with great regret that we accept Mandy’s resignation. Despite her shortened tenure, she brought an incredible amount of energy and wisdom into the organization. We wish her well and hope that one day, when life calms, she can return to board service. Also, the board and I welcome J.T. Evans as our new Vice President. He comes to the position with a wide variety of experiences, skills and talents and we look forward to working with him.

Note from J.T. Evans, Current PPW Vice-President:

Greetings Fellow Writers, Back at the 2010 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I had my first volunteer duty. The silent auction was being held, and I was lounging around the hallway watching people meander by. All of the items that captured my interest were already out of my price range, so I had nothing better to do than stand there. That’s when Chris Mandeville called out, “Hey, J.T.! You look bored.” I’d say I was a little bored since I knew very few of the people there and didn’t have anyone to talk to. I looked her way and nodded. She asked, “Would you mind being a guard for these two tables of auction items? We have a few people from the public moving around, and I’d hate for something to wander off.” I agreed, and that small act began my road as a volunteer with Pikes Peak Writers. Over the past three years, I’ve worked as a moderator, presented a Write Brain, judged in the 2012 conference contest, stepped into the role as webmaster, and pitched in here and there where I could. Then Mandy Houk reached out to me with the information that she was in a tight spot and had to step down as president of PPW. She asked me if I would be interested in joining the board as vice president to support Laura Hayden. My first response was surprise since I knew Mandy had just been elected, then once I read the email closer, I moved to understanding. Then it sank in. She and the rest of the board of PPW wanted me to help them as best I could. Wow. I’m incredibly honored that people I hold with such high regard asked me to step into the role as vice president of the Pikes Peak Writers. I will do my best to continue the grand traditions, ideas, efforts, and contributions to the writing community that Pikes Peak Writers has been steadfastly providing over many years. Thank you very much for your trust and friendship. Now, Let’s make 2013 as creative and wonderful as possible!