Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

The Benefits of a Crash and Burn

Perhaps you participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with great success. If so, congratulations to you and stop reading. This article is for the broken, the wounded, the sick at heart who crashed and burned miserably in the month of November, despite every good intention to write that novel.

New Beginnings

Now we’re facing the time of new beginnings as we enter the new year. If you are still smarting from a November NaNoWriMo fail, setting 2019 writing goals may be the last thing you want to tackle right now.

I thought I could succeed at NaNoWriMo this year. Fifty thousand words in a month? Piece of cake. I’d done it before. I knew my calendar was tightly scheduled, but if I made a commitment, I would follow through. I’m one of Those People. If I say I’m going to do something, by golly I will walk through fire and flood to ensure I meet my obligation.

Halfway through November, I still had delusions I could make it happen. Three quarters of the way through, I had a decision to make. I threw in the towel. Surrendered. And felt horribly guilty that I had failed myself.

Get out of your ditch

There are dozens of quotes, memes, and greeting card messages about failure making you stronger. That doesn’t help much when you’re crumpled in the ditch after a spectacular crash and burn.

So now that we’ve whined a bit, what are we going to do about it? Quitting is always an option. If you can quit writing, then maybe you weren’t cut out for this brutal profession. My tough-love message is: if ordinary obstacles will prevent you from striving for your dreams, maybe your dreams weren’t so important after all. To be fair, sometimes we face extraordinary stress in life. Family, health, or simply overestimating our own stamina place an insurmountable obstacle in our path to writing success.

Turn it into SUCCESS Turn Goal-Setting Failures into Success

Here are my suggestions for turning writing failure into success.

  1. Know Yourself. You may end up in a writing or critique group with people of differing ambitions and drive. Maybe you take a workshop or read a how-to book full of enthusiasm. We’re not all focused, driven personalities. Don’t adopt an attitude that is not your own if it doesn’t work for you. Are you a procrastinator, needing multiple mini-goals to keep you on track? Or do you readily stick to a schedule and easily meet goals? Do you operate best under pressure, or do deadlines cause you to freeze up? Are you an Emily Dickinson type of writer, not needing much reader affirmation, or are you more on the Andy Weir end of the scale, running your work past readers constantly? Which type of writer are you?
  2. Define Success. Do some soul-searching. Why are you writing? What are you trying to accomplish? Look at past goals that you failed to achieve. Were you too ambitious, considering other time commitments in your life? Or did you set the bar too low? Whether you’re new to writing or a multi-published author, goals need to be adjusted with time and experience. If not hitting goals causes you to lose enthusiasm, maybe you need to set achievable goals to get yourself on track. Other writers need to constantly fall short to drive them to work harder. This goes back to Know Yourself.
  3. Make Concrete Goals. Once you understand your uniquely personal ambition, document your steps to that goal. A vague declaration that you intend to write a novel this year will not help you. Create a spreadsheet, time card, or writing session reminder. Clock in to your writing sessions. Be honest in tracking your goals. For a new writer, your primary goal should be to finish a story or novel. Period. Guess what the primary goal is for a multi-published author? Write that next story or novel. Writing is a constant.

Get Specific

Let’s get specific. Your goal is to write a novel in 2019. The typical novel is 350 pages, or 87,500 words. That breaks down to less than a page a day. Exceedingly doable, you tell yourself. But if you diddle around for eight months, then remember you had a goal, I can almost guarantee you will fail.

Decide whether your goal is per day or per week.
Novel in a year goal:
Pages per day = 0.95 = 239 words
Pages per week = 6.73 = 1,683 words

Some Pitfalls

The pitfall: do not give up on days when you don’t have the time for a full writing session. Obviously there is room for adjustment. You have a long weekend with no obligations. You enjoy a productive writing marathon that results in 5,000 words. My experience is that more often I have multiple miserly 15 minute a day writing sessions. These drive me closer to my goal as effectively as the marathons. Take what you can get.

Another pitfall: writing sessions don’t need to be perfect islands of peace and solitude. Sometimes you snatch a few minutes in the midst of a holiday. Maybe you’re hopping in and out of writerly bliss to cook dinner. You have to wear blinders to block out seeing the chaotic mess your apartment has fallen into, or wear headphones to block out family members watching TV.

In spite of your best intentions and careful planning, you fail. What now? Not setting concrete, measurable goals leaves you will a hollow feeling. You suck, and you don’t even know how badly. If you set goals, and track them with dedication, you can measure exactly how badly you suck. And I can almost guarantee it won’t be as bad as you think.

Celebrate!

You have a wonderful record of your efforts. Instead of saying “I failed to write a novel in a year,” you can say “I wrote half a novel this year.” That’s an amazing achievement worth celebrating.

I’m confident that you’ll reach the end of 2019 without that empty feeling. Goal setting will help you achieve your goals. At the very least, goals will take you a step closer to success.


Catherine Dilts Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, has written two novels for the multi-author cozy mystery series Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library, and her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. With a day job as an environmental regulatory technician, Catherine’s stories often have environmental or factory-based themes, while others reflect her love of the Colorado mountains. Visit Catherine’s website to learn more.

Sweet Success for Dan Grant

Sweet Success is excited to announce the release of Dan Grant’s newest publication, The Singularity Witness by Mindscape Press.

Singularity Witness by Dan GrantThe Singularity Witness explores an intersection of science and medical research, and what happens when a radical technology ushers in an ominous future. A neurologist and an FBI agent unlock secrets that start with murder, abduction, and inhumane research. 

Dan GrantDan Grant is a licensed professional engineer with degrees from Northern Arizona University: a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and masters’ in college education and English with an emphasis in creative writing. In college he did theater, choir, and wrote teleplays for the university soap opera (One Semester to Live). He has also worked as a technical writer and multimedia content creator.

His engineering endeavors have provided unique opportunities to work with a variety medical and technological applications, and get behind the scenes at military facilities. Those experiences add threads to conspiracies and form a broader storytelling tapestry.

Dan loves intriguing tales, especially suspense and thrillers that weave science, medicine, technology, or history into the fabric of the drama. He is working on his next thriller, Thirteen Across. And Thomas Parker and Kate Morgan will be back in The Singularity Transfer.


Do you have a Sweet Success you would like to share? Click here to get started, or send an email to: SweetSuccess@pikespeakwriters.com

Finding My Tribe – PPWC 2018

I was surprised and excited to be awarded a partial scholarship to PPWC 2018. Even though it was listed as a “half” scholarship, it included all of Thursdays prequel workshops, so it came out to a 75% scholarship. It was so awesome, I just had to come up with the remaining $200. I’ve been practicing the Law of Attraction and the $200 was provided right away.

Magic

The conference was so great – my very first class was on magic, taught by Johnny Worthen, an eccentric author who wears bright, original tie-dye t-shirts with shorts. It was like I was attending Hogwarts. I loved it.

I went on from there to attend and learn from so many types of classes and teachers, from the craft of writing to running my new career as a business. I learned about a website platform tailored to authors – PubSite – and am now building my own author platform using this easy website builder.

I knitted at the craft gathering on Thursday night and even got to run a future story by editor Deb Werksman.

Law of Attraction

Using the Law of Attraction I was able to pitch to all three agents I wanted to – PPWC had extra Query 1-on-1 spots to fill and one of the pitches just happened naturally. They were all busts though the feedback I got on my query letter was awesome. I had good success when a friend connected me to a literary director and I got to pitch to her, too.

First Page

I really enjoyed the First Page critique – I connected with Steve Staffel there, who took the whole class out to some couches for a continued discussion after our workshop was over – that was unexpected and special. He gave me wonderful feedback and I reworked my whole first page. For the rest of the weekend, both Steve and Deb spoke to me as we ran into each other – what great connections!

Finding My Tribe

At the end of the conference Deb asked me what was my biggest highlight? “I’ve found my tribe,” I told her. Right from the beginning I was connecting and conversing with authors and writers and editors and we all share this incredible weirdness and creativity – we speak the same language. We dive deep into our own inner worlds and bravely share these crazy experiences with the world. Though we come from all types of backgrounds and viewpoints, there was no judgment from anyone – I felt completely safe being my weird self with all these folks.

I loved connecting with all the writers in all various stages of writing, both published and unpublished, it was a treasure.
I wish we could all get together again before next April. I can’t wait to attend in 2019!

PPWC 2019

Applications are still being accepted for PPWC 2019, “It Takes a Tribe”. You will find more information on the scholarship page of PPW’s website. Deadline to apply for a scholarship is January 11, 2019. Registration is now open for all who will be attending. Find your tribe in 2019!

 


Jerilyn WinsteadIn her 20’s, Jerilyn Winstead was active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), then recently got into LARPing (Live Action Role Play). Costumes + adventure! She participates in both Middle Earth-style (elves, hobbits, dwarves, etc.) and in post-apocalyptic (zombies!). One day she dreams of attending the Hogwarts-inspired LARPs. Until  then, follow her adventures on her website.

It’s a New Year…Let’s Set Some Goals

It’s true! 2019 is here! Goal setting is in motion, well, hopefully anyway.

Have you thought about it?

Let’s break it down together. Because, like many of us, I put it off, then before I know it, I’m making my way through January with no direction. It’s a thing! And, you know it.

We’ve all heard of SMART goals:
Specific—clear and concise.
Measurable—tracking your progress.
Achievable—challenging, yet achievable.
Relevant—consistent with all other life goals.
Timely—target deadline.

The things I’ve outlined below are what has worked for me. You will find your jam and what works for you. But, if you don’t have a jam yet, why not give mine a try.

Think of things you want to accomplish and write them down.

This is a list. There are so many schools of thought when it comes to ways to think of things you want to accomplish. Maybe you’re a spreadsheet kind of person. Maybe you have to go out and buy that shiny new notebook just for your goals. That’s me.

We’re talking about writing goals specifically, but other areas of your life come into play when you’re setting these goals, so why not include family, personal, and any other categories that are important to you. That makes you more motivated to complete your writing goals when you know everything else is in alignment.

This seems to be the hardest, for me anyway. I have a million things that I want to accomplish. I have a million and one things that need to be accomplished. YOU? Thought so!

Put these in order of importance, create timelines, and break them down.

Each category has a list, I assume. It’s important to identify what is important to do first. I’m not asking you to create a list that’s over-the-top out of control. It should include two or three things in each list. But you will have ONE main goal for each list.

Figure out your WHY for doing what you’re doing.

That’s one goal.
Your why, you ask? Your why is the reason you want to accomplish your goals. This goes back to step one. Let’s define your why when it comes to establishing your goals; thinking of the things you want to accomplish.

Your WHY is your deep-down personal motivation for what you do. Until you identify this, you won’t be able to figure out the what and how. This is the hardest for me.
This is also what can fuel you to complete your goals.

Find a friend. An accountability partner. Tell them your goals and your whys.

We all have the one person in our life that we tell everything to, whether they want to hear it or not. Find that person. Take them to coffee.

When you tell someone your goals, you feel a sense of commitment. You know it. It’s embarrassing to not finish or complete what you said you’d do.

Schedule regular reviews of your goals.

Good—this would be every six months. Put it in your calendar.
Better—once a quarter. This plays out every three months. Put it in your calendar.
Best—every month. Put it in your calendar.

When you see you are making progress with your goals, you’ll keep going.

Examples of writer goals:
In the next 12 months, I will read 12 books specific to my genre.
(Your Why) Because I want to become more proficient in writing in my genre and reading can help me see how others do it.

In the next 30 days, I will have a concrete plan for writing my novel.
(Your Why) Because writing my novel is my end goal and I must get writing it.

Examples for personal goals:
I will workout every day in the month of January.
(Your Why) Because it makes me a happier person, easier to live with, and I have a more positive attitude toward my writing goals.

Every payday for six months, I will set aside $50 for home projects.
(Your Why) Because I can’t use credit and paying for cash is how I roll.

Let’s wrap this up…

When you take the time to plan out your goals, write them down, figure out your why(s), phone a friend, the schedule reviews, you will have a very productive year.

Guaranteed!

 


Deb Buckingham headshotDeb Buckingham is a long time member and Vice President of Pikes Peak Writers. She is a published author of two successful knitting books, Dishcloth Diva and Dishcloth Diva Knits On. She writes for her own blog, and her artistic side is part of her every day. Deb is a creative photographer whose passion is “shooting” creatives in their own studios. She enjoys reading a well written novel.

Notes from PPWC 2018

The first Pikes Peak Writers Conference I attended was in 2012, and I remember feeling very intimidated and out of place that first morning of the conference. Almost everyone I talked to had already reached a major milestone on the road to becoming a professional writer, like completing their book, or finding an agent or a publisher, or discovering how to self-publish. Meanwhile, I still did not know how to respond when people asked me what genre I wrote in. I didn’t know the difference between literary and genre fiction, or what YA stood for.

Encouragement

I was quickly set at ease though by the wonderful, supportive spirit of the conference. The other writers at the conference were all very encouraging of each other, and they sincerely enjoyed watching each other succeed. I was also very impressed with all of the agents and editors, who were extremely open and honest in their feedback in the Read and Critique sessions. This year was my third time attending the conference, and I was very glad to find all of these elements still unchanged. I left the conference this year feeling once again completely invigorated and inspired to keep going. This year, I was also fortunate enough to attend the conference on a full scholarship, which was very exciting.

Highlights

I took down a lot of notes during the lectures, and here are a few of my favorite pieces of advice from the speakers:

  1.  On character driven stories: Character driven story begins with the main character having some problem of aspect of self. There must be something in the character, two conflicting desires, that they are unable at the start of the story to reconcile or perhaps even acknowledge. They must be somehow incomplete. In addition, character driven stories prevent characters from becoming comfortable with some aspect of themselves—at least not until the end. The climax of the story usually involves the character being forced to finally acknowledge this internal dilemma.
  2.  On structuring a story: In her session “Short Stories: Pacing,” Mary Robinette Kowal talked about the important of “putting things back in sequence” for the sake of coherent, smooth structuring. For example, if the first thing that you introduce in your story is the milieu, end with the milieu as well. End the story with what you began it with, whether it be milieu, character, event, or inquiry.
  3.  On character passivity: Characters, especially your main character needs to be acting, not just reacting. The main character needs to be making choices that move the story along. If you find in looking back at your story, that your character is mainly just reacting, they are probably not a very compelling character.
  4.  On humor: In his session “Using Humor in Fiction,” Rod Miller discussed the different ways to incorporate humor into writing fiction. He explained how metaphor, juxtaposition, exaggeration, and understatement were all very useful tools. In narration, misunderstanding, tension, pay-off, surprise, redundant lists, and repetitive sound can also be very effective.

I am mainly interested in YA fiction, character development, and writing to theme, and I was happy to find many relevant lectures on those topics. There were also lectures on topics such as writers block and creative nonfiction and the depiction of women in the fantasy genre. There is truly something for everyone at this conference!

PPWC 2019

Applications are still being accepted for PPWC 2019, “It Takes a Tribe”. You will find more information on the scholarship page of PPW’s website. Deadline to apply for a scholarship is January 11, 2019. Registration is now open for all who will be attending. Find your tribe in 2019!


Mary Carmack

Mary Carmack is a teacher living in Colorado Springs, currently working on a literary young adult novel.

Amy Spring – Scholarship Winner PPWC2018

Amy Spring was awarded a scholarship for PPWC2018. She shares her conference experiences and excitement about being awarded a scholarship. Apply for PPWC2109 by January 11, 2019 and you too could share your story.

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I was thrilled to be awarded a scholarship to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018. My friend KL Cooper suggested (loudly, on my FaceBook timeline, for everyone to see!) that I should apply, and that evening I felt timid and overwhelmed. I went to bed thinking, “There are so many more deserving, who am I to ask for this?”

The following morning, I came to my senses and had my application in before drinking my morning tea. I am so glad I did, because I was awarded a full scholarship, and promptly promised the Powers That Be that I would be fearless at the conference and do my best.

Making Connections

Years ago I attended Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and was so stunned by the opportunity that I tried to go to everything, and wanted to learn everything. This year, as I have written two unpublished novels, I decided that my goal would be making connections, and meeting as many people as I could. I had both a Query One-on-One appointment with Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks scheduled, and well as a Read and Critique X (R&CX) appointment with acquiring editor Maximilian Ximenez.

Be Fearless

The PPWC offers access to so many wonderful people, and I did, indeed, try to be fearless. Author and Keynote Speaker Bob Mayer said, in the first of the three of his sessions I attended, “If you see me in the hallway, please stop me and talk to me, I’ll help you all I can.” He was true to his word, as the following morning, I saw him and stopped him, and he was gracious enough to not only help me clean up my 16 opening lines that I had to read aloud in my R&CX appointment, but critiqued my queries for my Query 1 on 1. How kind was that?

One thing I understood this time around is that the people that come to teach sessions aren’t there for themselves. They are there to help and encourage all of our writing family in any way they can. They do this generously, purposefully, exhaustively-meaning, by the end of the weekend, it is obvious, by the dark circles under their eyes, that they have given 100% to us every waking hour of this long weekend.

Read & Critique

My R&CX appointment was fun, though I was awarded an appointment with Mr. Ximinez, whose expertise is in genres far different from my own. I was offered a chance to change that appointment, but I decided to go and read anyway. He was helpful and kind about my reading something he would never acquire, but I soon realized my purpose for being there-a young boy read his 16 lines and had this major player’s attention, but was too shy to ask follow-up questions, so I asked them for him. (Ok, I’m 55, and sometimes, occasionally, age does matter!) I facilitated a meeting between the two, and later, both men thanked me. Score!

Query 1 on 1

The best part for me, though, was forming a connection with Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks. I took three of her sessions, sat at her lunch table one day, and boldly took both of my queries to my Query 1 on 1 appointment with her. She and her red pen passed on my second book, but said, “Send it!” on my first book’s query! I walked away from that meeting knowing I had done my best, and had been gifted with the reason I was meant to be there. I was, and am, eternally grateful to the Pikes Peak Writers for this experience.

As it turns out, I write general fiction, and Deb acquires romance, but she thought enough of my first book’s manuscript that she sent it to her fiction editor colleagues, who politely declined, though they encouraged me to continue. Deb said she’ll consider any romance I write. And, she worked with me extensively to prepare. She, and everyone else I met, and who has supported me through this experience are precious gems, in my book!

Welcome to 2019!

Dear Readers,

Can you believe that 2018 has already come and gone? I should be used to this by now, but no, each new year catches me by surprise. The year is off and running before I can finish off the previous one. If 2019 is catching you by surprise rest assured that Writing from the Peak has your back.

Goals for 2019Letter from the Editor

To kick off PPW’s blog this New Year, I am excited to share an article from PPW’s new Vice President, Deb Buckingham, on setting goals. After reading her article I made my own plans for 2019. I have five (or is it six?) books in various stages of completion. My first goal is to have my cozy mystery completed enough to present it to Query 1-on-1 at PPWC2019. My second is to have The Manx (a fantasy that never seems to end) in the box by year end, and the third is to dedicate more time to Pikes Peak Writers. I haven’t quite decided how to make this happen, but I do have a couple of ideas in the works.

What are your goals for 2019? Share them on Facebook at: Pikes Peak Writers Connect

Upcoming Articles

To help you kick off 2019, Writing from the Peak has some great articles coming up. The series from our scholarship recipients continues (don’t forget to submit your application! Deadline is January 11th). As mentioned above, Deb Buckingham will share great ways to set goals and achieve them, followed by Catherine Dilts’ advice on how to turn a failed goal into a positive achievement. There are a couple of Sweet Success stories from Dan Grant and DeAnna Knippling. Lastly, you won’t want to miss Silencing Your Inner Critic by DeAnna Knippling, and Best Business Practices by Jason Henry.

Book Resource List

Did you find any “must have” books in the “How to Write” genre? Writing from the Peak is looking for your recommendations. Email your favorites (no more than 3) to: Editor@PikesPeakWriters.com. Include a short blurb on why you like it. (Don’t forget the author’s name and full title). Please…no brazen self promotions. If you have written a book you would like to add to this resource list please indicate that it is your own work. It would be nice to add a couple of other recommendations that are not your’s. Deadline to submit your suggestions is January 15, 2019.

Best of Everything in 2019

It’s going to be am amazing year. PPW is here to help you make the most of it. There are many resources for you on our website, monthly classes and special events, PPWC2019 (registration is now open), and so much more. Do you want more from PPW? Consider volunteering. PPW is operated solely by volunteers and can always use more help!

2019 is going to be an amazing year for writers, and I want to wish each and every one of you a wildly successful year!

 


KJ Scrim, Profile ImageManaging Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym. 

Do you have an article you want to share? Have feedback about the blog? Please email Kathie at: editor@pikespeakwriters.com

Genre Round-Tables at PPWC2018

Jere Ellison received a scholarship to attend PPWC2018. He shares his experience at the conference and the events leading him to apply for a scholarship.

I’ve been to a number of conferences in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado over the years. They all tend to have a distinct flavor and feel, and it’s always interesting for me to see what makes each conference stand apart from the others.

For PPW’s conference this past year, that stand-out moment for me rested in the Genre Round-tables. This was a format I’d never seen before, but one which really struck me as something every conference ought to make available.

As those who regularly attend conferences know, most of the time you end up sitting in a room listening to a presenter talk about something they’ve had prepared ahead of time. Even in the best of presenters, there can sometimes be a rote tone to it all, and when you’re at a conference running on nothing but caffeine, adrenaline, and a few hours of restless sleep, it gets hard to always pay the best attention you can to said presenters.

Or maybe that’s just me…

Whatever the case, the genre round-tables were a great way to break that mold in a constructive way that left me feeling not only energized and excited to get to edits on my own work, but also feeling better-connected to fellow attendees.

If you’re not familiar, the genre roundtables are just what they sound like: a bunch of people sitting around a table and discussing topics and struggles pertaining to their genre. With less of a “lecture-y” feel and more of the Socratic method, the time I spent in that room was some of the best I spent that weekend.

Productive, communicative, organic. Those are three plusses to me.

Now, I realize this setup could be intimidating to some who may be a little more introverted. There are those out there for whom the idea of sitting around a table, talking with strangers about their work might be intimidating.

Don’t let it be!

I have minors in Theatre and Communication. I like talking. But these round-tables aren’t just for people like me. There were plenty of people in there who never said a word, but who were vigorously taking notes. That’s what I liked about the round-table format: it was conversation if you wanted that, or yet lecture format if that’s what you’re looking for, instead.

The other benefit to that setup is it allows for you to meet and strike up conversations with people more easily than you might otherwise be able to. Not only do you know that everyone you see in the room is interested in the same genre as you, but with the focus of the time being spent on conversation, you can easily pick back up with other people after you leave.

It’s one thing to go up to someone afterwards and ask what they thought about something some other person said in a presentation. It’s a whole other level of networking when you can follow-up with someone later and ask them specifically to elaborate on a point they may have made during the group discussion.

All-in-all, I hope the round-tables continue to be a mainstay of the PPW Conference. And I’d recommend any other conference leaders who see this to consider doing the same with theirs.

The only other thing I want to touch on is the importance the scholarship provided by PPW made in my ability to attend this past year. I’ll do that through an anecdote.

One evening, waiting for dinner, I stepped outside on the lobby patio just to get some fresh air. While I was out there, a few women were standing around talking. If I’m remembering correctly, they were a group of friends who travel around the US to different conferences together. It’s just their thing.

I don’t remember if they were from Vegas, about to go to Vegas, or had just come back from Vegas. Whatever the case, they pulled me right into their conversation like it was nothing, and we all sat around and chatted until it was time to eat.

I’ll come back to them in a second.

You see, if not for the scholarship I was awarded to go to this conference, there’s no way my wife and I could have justified the travel, fees, and lodging expenses, what with coming all the way from Texas.

Because of that scholarship, however, I was able to attend, and because I attended, I made a slew of connections with other writers. Including those ladies, whose paths I kept crossing all weekend.

That’s what the scholarship provided for me: Other writers.

We’re a unique group, and it can sometimes be hard doing what we do.
This conference, made possible by my scholarship, provided more of that comradery we all need to remind ourselves that we’re not alone in this.

Anyways, I hope things went well for the ladies I met that evening, and I want to wish them the best with their future writing. Because that’s really what these conferences should be about: finding fellow writers, getting to know them, and sending each other the best wishes we possibly can.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, this is where you need to be.

 

For more information about PPWC2019 and how to apply for a scholarship follow the conference link or the scholarship link. Deadline to apply is January 11, 2019.


Jere Ellison has completed six manuscripts in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, with audience ages ranging from fifth graders to adults.
He has his Master’s degree in English, and has spent years in the classroom as both tutor and professor, working mostly with “at-risk” students. He also spent a few years professionally editing for a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty novels.
Currently, he house-husbands for his Wildlife Biologist wife in Texas, making sure all the house work is done so that evenings together can be filled with nothing but games, Hulu, and general relaxation.

Highlights of PPWC2018 from Scholarship Recipient Jenni Wood

When I first heard of Pikes Peak Writers Conference from a friend I thought it sounded like a pretty neat conference, and I decided that next time I knew enough people who were attending I too would make the trek from Salt Lake City to Colorado Springs to attend. Unfortunately, 2018 was the year that a member from my writing group and several people from the local writing community were planning to attend, and I was in a pretty tight financial situation. In 2017 my husband lost his job, and I became the sole income provider of the family. We have a young child with Down Syndrome, who, while being a fantastic kid, can be a little expensive at times. I applied for and was granted, one of the scholarships that PPWC offers. Having my tuition to the conference paid for made saving the money for travel and hotel possible and gave me an opportunity that I would have been sorry to miss.

PPWC set up an easy, low-stress way to mingle with the authors and industry professionals who are guests at the conference.

The panels and workshops I attended at PPWC ’18 were fantastic, but something that PPWC does that no other writing conference I’ve attended does is set up an easy, low-stress way to mingle with the authors and industry professionals who are guests at the conference. Each meal that is provided (there are so many meals, seriously, I’ve never been to a conference that provides so much food!) you’re able to sit where you like, but every table is assigned one of the conference guests. I got to sit by Mary Robinette Kowal at lunch and talk about whiskey and with Gabrielle Piraino at dinner and swap dog pictures. Both people were amazing to sit with, they talked with us and answered questions about the industry. The fact that this is not a time to pitch is a blessing, as it takes that pressure away and gives the opportunity to learn from them on a more personal basis. The only complaint about this setup: the tables are large, the room is noisy, and you either must sit close or strain your ears to hear anything.

Hearing that someone whom I admire has faced similar struggles and found ways to work through or around them is huge.

My highlights of the conference revolved primarily around Mary Robinette Kowal, who is an amazing writer, terrific at delivering a keynote, and an all-around fantastic person. As I mentioned, I was able to sit with her at one meal, and I attended many of the panels or presentations she gave. The one that really hit home for me was on the last day of the conference when she spoke very openly about her struggles with depression, and how she managed to get through a difficult time where all she could manage were three lines a day. This resonated with me for many reasons. I have depression and have faced times where getting out of bed was a big enough hurdle that even the thought of writing was more daunting than I could bear. Hearing that someone whom I admire has faced similar struggles and found ways to work through or around them is huge. Depression, and mental illness has historically been so stigmatized that even with how much better things are than they used to be, people still can find it difficult to admit to being depressed or to having anxiety for fear that people will think less of them. Listening to Mary talk about this made me think far more highly of her than I already did, and I hope to one day be able to inspire writers the way she inspired me.

To anyone on the fence about attending because they don’t recognize names on the program, don’t see any industry professionals they want to pitch to, or are financially challenged, I would encourage you to attend. Apply for a scholarship. Getting to know your fellow writers at the bar, sitting with someone new at lunch, or attending a class by someone you’ve never heard of and learning something new are all things that can and will happen if you give this fantastic conference a chance like I did.


Jenni WoodJenni Wood has loved to read and write fantasy for as long as she can remember. If she doesn’t have a book in hand, she probably has a mug of coffee. Jenni is married, and the mother of a sweet boy, a dog, and three crazy cats. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys sewing, cooking, video games, and gardening. Her short story “Daughter of the Western Winds” was published in Phantaxis magazine.