Monday, September 1, 2014

September Letter from the Editor

By Debi Archibald

Happy Labor Day, Readers.

Welcome to the first day of September and the last third of 2014.  For me, this is the time of the year when it feels like someone gets hold of the remote and holds the 'Fast Forward' button. It's Labor Day, then in three weeks it's Halloween and a few days later it's Thanksgiving and then the week after that, it's Christmas.

If you experience the same syndrome, I hope you are still able to find the discipline to make your writing a priority. And to help motivate you, watch for a special blog post on Tuesday, September 2,  detailing the rules and timeline for The Zebulon, which opens on September 15. There is a great deal to be gained and virtually nothing to be lost by submitting your query, synopsis and sample chapters to the committee. Stop for a minute and close your eyes. Picture your name and your title in the list of winners. Visualize yourself moving to the top of the pitch list. Why would you not do this?

Pikes Peak Writers will continue to provide support and programming to help you reach this goal. Note that Open Critique has moved from the third Wednesday to the first Wednesday of each month beginning in September to avoid compressing all the activity into the last half of the month. Our talented team of columnists will continue to share their writerly wisdom, and you will begin to see guest posts from writers who attended PPWC this past April and share what they took away from the experience.

But for today, step away from the computer. Go outside, hike the Canon or Red Rocks, grill up something delicious with the family and enjoy the symbolic last weekend of summer. Time enough tomorrow to go buy those poppers for New Years Eve.

About the Author:  Debi Archibald is a Colorado Springs native but spent most of her life wandering both the Arizona desert and healthcare administration. She is now blissfully reestablished at the foot of Pikes Peak, with one very bad novel under her belt (and in a drawer) and a second, hopefully not so bad, underway. In addition to fiction, she ventures into humor and short memoir. A recovering foreign language geek, she is also passionate about hiking, cooking, reading and being a grandmother, the role she is sure she was born for. She shares her home with the world’s most human Siberian Husky, Sasha. You can find her at

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.
Robert Pirsig (September 6, 1928 - )
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Letter from the Editor                                                              Debi Archibald

* The Zebulon Contest Opens                                                     Robert Wyckoff 
Don't miss this special Tuesday edition which will include an extended message regarding the launching of the 2014 Zebulon contest.                                                                                     

* The Practical Magic of Writing                                              Deb McLeod

* PPW September News and Events                                        Debi Archibald 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sweet Success! Shannon Lawrence

Compiled by Kathie Scrimgeour

Shannon Lawrence’s flash fiction, Spes et Libertas, was released February 6, 2014 in the fiction anthology, Beyond the Binding Composers for Relief Companion Collection, by Samantha Redstreake Geary (e-book, 112 pages, ISBN: (ASIN): B00IAZY03U)

Embark on an exciting journey “Beyond the Binding” of the imagination with 29 authors from across the globe, in a groundbreaking collaboration where music meets fiction. Surrender to soaring compositions as they surge through the veins of every story, capturing the triumphant pulse of the notes in heart pounding sci fi, enchanting fantasy and gripping slices of realism. 

All proceeds of the Composers for Relief album and Beyond the Binding companion ebook will go to Gawad Kalinga (“give care”) and GVSP (Gualandi Volunteer Service Program), to support the relief efforts for victims of the deadliest natural disaster in Philippines’ history, Super Typhoon Yolanda. 

About the Author:  Shannon Lawrence enjoys writing mainly urban fantasy and horror, examining the darker side of life. Her flash fiction piece, “The Family Ruins,” is included in the anthology Sunday Snaps: The Stories. While her main focus is fantasy and horror, she is working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and also enjoys photographing Colorado scenery, wildlife, and her children. She is also the NCE Director for Pikes Peak Writers. You can find her at and on Twitter as @thewarriormuse.

Where to Buy: Amazon: Click Here

Barnes & Noble:  Click Here

Shannon was also part of a collaboration between 26 bloggers and Audiomachine entitled Tree of Life: Branching Out. Brief description below:

Tree of Life: Branching Out is a collaborative writing challenge, where creative minds meet epic movie music. Preselected guest writers representing all genres, from all across the globe, contributed their own 150 word excerpt to a continuing story collectively written over the course of 26 days. Each of the writers found inspiration in a featured composition from the motion picture music production house, audiomachine’s new TREE OF LIFE album. These clever masters of the craft spun the story in whatever direction they chose, picking up where the previous writer left off, resulting in the ultimate collaborative tale. 

Link to find the 26 piece story: Go Here

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Has Anyone Ever Told You???

By Bonni Philipp

I had done my research and meticulously picked out the agent for my PPWC pitch appointment who I knew would be the perfect person to represent my book. I then spent countless hours honing my pitch, practicing it in the shower, in the car, to anyone who would listen. At last the morning arrived for my appointment and I was so nervous. For the half hour before my allotted time I paced the parking lot of the hotel, rehearsing my pitch, coming up with potential questions the agent might ask, what I would say when she told me she thought my book sounded brilliant…that it was exactly what she had been waiting for.

After applying a fresh coat of lipstick and popping a mint in my mouth, I tossed my notes into my bag and marched towards the hotel doors. I streamed past the crowds of people who were milling about in the lobby, drinking, laughing, relaxing on the sofas, and walked purposefully past them, thinking how in the next twenty minutes my whole life was going to change. I rode the elevator up to the seventh floor and emerged into a crowded waiting room of people. 

After checking in, I sat off to the side, where I once again began to mentally recite my pitch. I found it hard to keep focused, however; the level of tension in the room was so palpable. Some people chatted to each other nervously, while others seemed to be like me, silently practicing their lines; still others mumbled to themselves, their eyes closed. One woman even started doing stretches while taking large gulps of air and telling everyone in the room in a shrill voice, “I’m just so nervous!” It was what I had imagined it would be like auditioning to be on American Idol or for an acting part in a movie—exciting but at the same time completely nerve-racking.  

One wave of people was called, disappearing single file through the hallway. After a few short minutes passed, it was my group’s turn. Sincere cries of “Good luck!” were uttered as we filed down the hall. For a brief moment we waited, as the next group was not yet done. Then as if a were race beginning, the woman who had led us down the hall shouted, “GO!” and darted out of our way. The clocks had started. We had exactly eight minutes. 

I scrambled with the rest into the room and quickly located my agent, wasting no time in delivering my pitch. After I was done, my agent looked at me with a strange frown and said it didn’t really sound like a thriller, sounded too boring for that. My eyes bulged. I felt a lead weight drop inside of me. “No, no…it really does get quite exciting,” I tried to convince her, blubbering on for a minute about it, not quite sure how much sense I was really making. At last my agent shrugged, not really looking convinced. “I guess you can email me the first couple of chapters…” 

Next thing I knew, my agent was shaking my hand and saying with a large smile, "Well, it was nice meeting you.” I looked around the room, where all the other writers were still chatting eagerly with their editors and agents. I had no idea how much time was left, but I didn’t want to say goodbye just yet. “So,” I said, trying to think of something, anything, to dissolve the awkwardness that was growing between us. I asked my agent a question or two, and then suddenly she grew very excited. (I couldn’t help but notice how much more so than when I had pitched my book.) “Have you ever watched the TV show Bones?” she asked. I shook my head. “Has anyone ever told you that you look exactly like the character Daisy? I mean exactly!”

As I had never watched the show, I had no clue which actress she was talking about. And then to make matters worse, an elderly woman on the couch close by, overhearing our conversation, agreed. She and my agent talked on about the TV show, about the similarities between the character and me. Apparently even our smiles were the same, including the way I tipped my head a certain way to the side. I couldn’t quite believe it—not knowing how to respond besides with an agreeable smile, a fake laugh. But inside all my hopes and dreams of finding the perfect agent and getting a book deal were getting squashed by the second. Everyone else in the room was talking about their books, and here I was spending my precious eight minutes talking about my resemblance to a TV character. 

For the next few hours I had a hard time getting past what had happened, not sure whether to cry or laugh about it. 

It wasn’t until about a week later when I realized that this experience hadn’t been a complete waste. It caused me to look again at my pitch, which was consequently a major part of the query letter I had sent to countless agents over the past year with little success. I realized that I had perhaps not been pitching my book in the best possible way, and that my agent may have been right in pointing out that the way I was marketing it didn’t quite fit the genre in which I categorized it. It also made me realize that even though my first pitch had gone so differently than I had envisioned, the experience only made me stronger as a writer; because that is after all, a part of the process, the long road to getting published. It is about learning to stand up and keep going no matter how many times we get knocked down. It is about believing that our work is valuable, is worth our time and effort, and with persistence and a little bit of luck the day will come when it will be recognized as such.  

About the Author:  Bonni Philipp is a recipient of the 2014 Pikes Peak Writers Conference Scholarship. She has written for Women’s Edition Magazine and is currently working on a collection of novellas centering around love and diners. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and cats. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

On Inspiration

By DeAnna Knippling

Inspiration. It’s a great feeling, to be inspired. To write, to fall in love, to have faith in the world.

But it’s just a feeling.

If you’re waiting for inspiration to hit before you write, well, you’re going to waiting around a lot. And then, because inspiration never hits on schedule, you’re going to be driving to work, you’re going to be in a meeting, you’re going to be in the middle of an argument about who’s wrong on the Internet.

You’ll get a note or two from your flash of inspiration. And then...more waiting.

Okay, so maybe sometimes you have to work when you’re not inspired.

There’s that saying, “Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.” It tries to be an inspirational phrase, but it just isn’t. It isn’t eagles flying. It isn’t music swelling in the background. It isn’t love at first sight. Just because it’s true doesn’t make it inspirational. Which means that once again, you’re waiting around for inspiration so you can figure out how to get your butt in the chair, so then you can get your fingers on the keyboard.

But let’s say that you do hide out in a coffee shop somewhere, with no wireless and no outlets, dusty chandeliers on the ceiling and beat-up, second-hand velvet chairs, and you bring an old leather-bound journal with you, the one you last wrote in when you were in college and that has all those old poems where you tried to be Shelley or Angelou for a few stanzas. And you sit down and you write with the notebook balanced on your knees with a spotty pen that keeps leaving blobs on your page while teenagers shout gossip and lines of pseudo-philosophy above the sound of the espresso maker and the clink of those little spoons on saucers, and you’re really feeling inspired and then the next day you go back and read it--

And it’s crap.

I’m telling you, that inspiration. It’s just a feeling.

If what you need is the equivalent of love at first sight in order to write, you've got problems. It doesn’t actually make you write any better than the butt in chair technique. And it certainly won’t help you write more

Real writing is like any other thing that we do out of love. Most days you’re not going to be in the heat of passion. You just aren’t. Most days you’re going to get up in the morning and go through your routine. Some days you’re going to think, “Why bother anyway?” And some days you’re going to grit your teeth and swear you’re leaving.

Real writing is like real love. It’s dirty and cranky and bad-tempered and foul-mouthed and has its arms crossed over its chest and eats too much Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey when nobody’s looking. You have to change its diapers. It pukes everywhere. It screams at you that it wishes it were never born, and why did you have to be its parent anyway? It gets drunk and comes home and passes out on the front lawn and you never want to see it again but you do. It gets in ruts. It has a midlife crisis with every freaking book. It goes deaf, it putters around the house accomplishing nothing, leaving a trail of dirty socks and making sardonic observations about the neighbors.

Okay, granted. There are days when you and your writing need to spend some time apart. And some stories that are just going to leave you, or you them. And sometimes you’ll look at what you’re really writing and wish that you only had to write when you felt like you were falling in love all over again.

Falling in love isn’t real love, though. It’s just the possibility of maybe finding the one

You already have the one. Your creativity. It’s inside you already. Your spirit, your muse. Already there. And when you are off chasing inspiration, your muse is left behind. Saying in a small voice, “But what about me?”

You’re longing for something you already have.

That inspiration. It’s a feeling, you know. That doesn’t make it nice


Why not sit down at your keyboard and try giving something to your muse for once, instead of demanding everything from it? Try taking care of your muse for a while, instead of forcing it, instead of beating your head against the wall, instead of waiting around and making calf eyes at every slutty little moment of inspiration that walks by your stool in the Pity Me Writer Bar. 

What does your muse want?

...the same thing that anyone in a long-term relationship wants.

Just to have you pay attention.

About the Author: DeAnna Knippling started freelancing in May 2011 and wouldn’t be able to do it without her wonderful family and friends, especially her husband. In fact, she owes a lot to Pikes Peak Writers for helping her be a better writer, especially through the Write Brains, both in the lectures and in meeting lots of other writers.

Her reason for writing is to entertain by celebrating her family’s tradition of dry yet merry wit, and to help ease the suffering of lack of self-confidence, having suffered it many years herself. She also likes to poke around and ask difficult questions, because she hates it when people assume something must be so.

For more kicks in the writerly pants, see her blog at or her ebook How to Fail & Keep on Writing, available at Smashwords, B&N, Amazon, and OmniLit.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow."  (Some literary truths are timeless.)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
August 30, 1897 - February 1, 1951

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* On Inspiration                                            DeAnna Knippling

* Has Anyone Ever Told You?                    Bonni Philipp

* Sweet Success! Shannon Lawrence        Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sweet Success! J.L. Fields

Compiled by Kathie Scrimgeour

JL Fields’ non-fiction essay, A Well-Rounded Vegan, was released in May 2014 in, Running, Eating, Thinking: A Vegan Anthology (Chapter 8) by Lantern Books (ISBN: 978-1-59056-348-9).

In recent years, endurance athletes, bodybuilders, and long-distance runners such as Ruth Heidrich, Scott Jurek, Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Robert Cheeke, and many others have destroyed the notion that you cannot be a top-flight competitor on a plant-based diet and upended the stereotype that veganism means weakness, placidity, and passivity. But are there deeper connections between veganism and running, for example, that reach beyond attaining peak performance to other aspects of being vegan: such as living lightly on the land, caring for other-than-human life, and connecting to our animal bodies? Running, Eating, Thinking is a pioneering anthology that may redefine your thinking about veganism and running.

About the Author:  JL Fields holds a Master of Science degree and is a certified vegan lifestyle coach & educator, personal chef, career coach, and a corporate consultant offering wellness training, brand representation, and strategic planning services. She is the author of Vegan Pressure Cooking (Fair Winds Press, January 2015), co-author of Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet (Da Capo Lifelong Books, July 2013), contributor to Running, Eating, Thinking: A Vegan Anthology (Lantern Books, May 2014), and a food, health and wellness freelance writer.


Where to Buy:

We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.