Friday, May 27, 2016

Sweet Success Celebrates Debut Author Aimie K. Runyan

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

In her illuminating debut novel, Promised to the Crown (ISBN 1496701127, trade paperback, 352 pages, young adults and up), Aimie K. Runyan masterfully blends fact and fiction to explore the founding of New France through the experiences of three young women who, in 1667, answer Louis XIV’s call and journey to the Canadian colony. This historical fiction was released April 6, 2016 by Kensington Publishing Corporation and is available on

They are known as the filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”—young women who leave prosperous France for an uncertain future across the Atlantic. Their duty is to marry and bring forth a new generation of loyal citizens. Despite their different backgrounds, Rose, Nicole, and Elisabeth all believe that marriage to a stranger is their best, perhaps only, chance of happiness.

No matter how carefully she chooses, each will be tested by hardship and heartbreaking loss—and sustained by the strength found in their uncommon friendship, and the precarious freedom offered by their new home.

Aimie K. Runyan, has been an avid student of French and Francophone Studies for more than fifteen years. While working on her Master's thesis on the brave women who helped found French Canada, she was fortunate enough to win a generous grant from the Quebec government to study onsite for three months which enabled the detailed research necessary for her work. Aimie lives in Colorado with her husband and two children.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PPWC 2016 - Collecting Nos and Fighting Bitterness

By: Aaron Michael Ritchey

This year at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference I had a wonderful time. The keynotes were awesome, as always, and I became best friends with Rachel Caine and Jeff Lindsay. Both bought copies of my books, however, thanks to a few of my biggest advocates. I am very grateful for such advocates.

I also loved teaching classes and bonding with so many good, strong, courageous writers.

However, when it came to pitching agents and editors, I just wasn’t feeling it.

Normally, I’m a Go-For-The-No type of guy. Which means I collect nos. One isn’t good enough. I used to go to conferences, pitch one person, get a yes, and then walk away feeling victorious.

Then I read a book called Go for No by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz. Getting a yes is fine, but really, this game is about collecting nos. Kevin J. Anderson knows all about this. Remember, he won the award for most rejections.

I go to conferences not looking for yeses, but looking for nos. I would pitch every single agent and editor to collect the most nos. I’m also trying to do this when I submit short stories or when I query agents. I’m looking to collect nos.

So what happened this year?

I wasn’t feeling it. Partly, it’s because I have the six books of The Juniper Wars to write for WordFire Press. That’s a whole lotta fiction right there. Four of the six are written and are in various stages of edits, including finished (the first one, DANDELION IRON, is already out in the world and burning brightly).

I’m also working on a trilogy of romance novels with Andrea K. Stein which we are going to publishing independently. So I have eight books to write and polish. Dang, when you put it that way…just…dang.

I have a full plate, yet I do have some projects I want to shop since it takes traditional publishing YEARS to do anything. Once I complete The Juniper Wars and my romance trilogy, I’ll need the next thing. If I start now, in two to three years, I might have the next thing ready.

But I have to admit, all of that is true, but I’m also getting bitter. It's been ten years of querying and going agentless.

However, there’s another reason I was reticent to pitch. I’m questioning the role agents have in my career. The biggest thing an agent can do for me is to get me into the big traditional publishing game. Ideally, I’d sell a book and Scholastic would pick it up and put me in their catalog, which goes out to MILLIONS of readers. Dude, I’d pay an agent fifteen percent to get that kind of action. You betcha. Still, those are some long odds and so many things can go wrong. And I only want an agent that adores me. Finding one of those has been challenging. 

Hence the bitterness, which I will not embrace.

If all an agent will do for me is to sell my stuff to a small or medium-size press? No, thank you, I can do that myself. *Tips hat and walks away*

Pitching to editors can be iffy since they are so busy. They might love my idea, but then it gets buried under their stack and they forget about me.

In the end, I’m surrendering to the will of the universe. Remember, Rachel Caine showed up at a writers’ conference, talked to an editor, wasn’t very gung-ho about it all, and wound up with her first publishing contract. More and more, I’m seeing this whole publishing game as one that is going to happen to me if I keep writing and putting myself out there.

For example, at Pikes Peak this year, I kept bumping into this one agent. I did my homework, read about the agents who represent middle grade, and made a list. I met this person in an elevator, got ready to pitch, but then the irony of doing an elevator pitch in an elevator completely silenced me. This person hurried away. I kept seeing her/him, kept trying to pitch to her/him, but it wasn’t happening. I let go. I surrendered. Wasn’t meant to be.

Then the two people I really wanted to pitch were standing by the elevator again, and this time, I walked up and pitched them both – an agent and an editor.

They were both tired and they both looked upon me with a certain amount of amusement. Or scorn. I couldn’t tell. The agent was interested and I’ll send her/him pages. The editor wasn’t.

Then the agent said that the way the industry works is that writers send queries to agents who send them to editors.

You all would’ve been proud of me. I nodded politely. I didn’t say that if I could pitch the editor directly, the agent wouldn’t get his/her fifteen percent. I also answered politely that, no, this wasn’t my first novel. And, yes, I’ve seen some action, won some awards, and did the Amazon bestseller thing.

Am I getting jaded? Yeah, definitely.

I still believe in collecting nos, but more and more, I want my nos to come from readers themselves, not the publishing industry.

Funny thing about that…most readers say yes to me. Go figure. And those readers become my advocates.

And I love advocates. They help me sell books. Which brings us back to paragraph one.

Ahh, the circle of life.

Will I be at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in 2017? You bet your butt I'll be there. To collect nos and to fight the bitterness.

About the Author:  Aaron Michael Ritchey is the author of four young adult novels and his short fiction has appeared in various anthologies and online magazines. He is also a dynamic speaker, having taught classes on all aspects of writing fiction around the country. In 2012, his first novel, The Never Prayer, was a finalist in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Gold Conference. In 2015, his second novel, Long Live the Suicide King, won the Building the Dream award for best YA novel, and he spent the summer as the Artist in Residence at the Anythink Library. Dandelion Iron, the first book in his epic YA sci-fi western series, The Juniper Wars, is available through Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press. Aaron lives in Colorado with his cactus flower of a wife and two stormy daughters.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Scholarship Recipient Shares Thoughts on Prequel Day

By: MaryAnn Sundby

I heard there were scholarships for the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Application details were explained on the website Here, so I applied and within two months I heard a scholarship was awarded for me to attend Thursday, called Prequel Day, of the PPWC. I was thrilled to be with other authors for the day and hear professionals offer time-tested ways to improve our craft. 

Two bits of advice I took home from the workshops were: Let your voice come out and polish your writing.  Though I’ve heard these before, both are important to hear again as I refine my writing skills.

The voice in my writing comes from my experiences, childhood, and attitudes that flavor each story.  As I develop setting, conversation and conflict, that uniqueness flows into my words. I need to encourage this creative side to blossom and capture my reader.

As my stories develop, I edit and edit so the reader does get bogged down with too many words, description or a boring story. I weed through every sentence and paragraph to provide clarity so the story shines. As I polish, the technical side of my writing takes over. It’s as important as the creative side.

Without reservation, I would recommend writers consider attending the PPWC conference next year.  You will learn techniques and ideas to improve your writing and will know your time was well spent.

About the author:  I write for the children’s market and have been published in Christian periodicals and newsletters. This year Ripple Grove press is publishing my first book, Monday is Wash Day. Look for it in September.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

“I have always preferred conflict of individuals over the battle of extreme ideologies.” ~ Robert Ludlum

Source Wikiepedia and Google

Robert Ludlum (May 25, 1927 to March 12, 2001) was an American author of 27 thriller novels. The number of copies of his books in print is estimated between 290 million and 500 million. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries.

This week on Writing from the Peak:

May 23        Scholarship Recipient MaryAnn Sundby

May 25        Collecting Nos & Fighting Bitterness by Aaron Michael 

May 27        Sweet Success Celebrates Aimie K. Runyon

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sweet Success Celebrates Lisa Hawker ITW finalist Best First Novel

CORRECTION: Editor regrets that the cover and blurb for Body and Bone were inadvertently listed as L.S. Hawker's debut and ITW finaling novel. The Drowning Game is Ms. Hawker's International Thriller Writer finaling novel and the corrected blurb follows:   

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

Congratulations go out to Lisa Hawker and her debut novel, The Drowning Game. Her thriller is a finalist in the 2016 International Thriller Writers, Thriller Awards, for Best First Novel. She will be traveling to New York in July, 2016 to attend Thrillerfest and the awards banquet. The Ebook was released September 22, 2015 by by Harper Collins Witness Impulse (ISBN: 9780062435217, available at:

They said she was armed.
They said she was dangerous.
They were right.

Petty Moshen spent eighteen years of her life as a prisoner in her own home, training with military precision for everything, ready for anything. She can disarm, dismember, and kill—and now, for the first time ever, she is free.

Her paranoid father is dead, his extreme dominance and rules a thing of the past, but his influence remains as strong as ever. When his final will reveals a future more terrible than her captive past, Petty knows she must escape—by whatever means necessary.

But when Petty learns the truth behind her father's madness—and her own family—the reality is worse than anything she could have imagined. On the road and in over her head, Petty's fight for her life has just begun.

LS Hawker grew up in suburban Denver, indulging her worrisome obsession with true-crime books, and writing stories about anthropomorphic fruit and juvenile delinquents. She wrote her first novel at 14. Armed with a B.S. in journalism from the University of Kansas, she had a radio show called "People Are So Stupid," edited a trade magazine, and worked as a traveling Kmart portrait photographer, but never lost her passion for fiction writing. She's got a hilarious, supportive husband, two brilliant daughters, and a massive music collection. She lives in Colorado but considers Kansas her spiritual homeland.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

About Those Surveys: We're Listening

By J. T. Evans

That's right. We're snooping on what you have to say. But not in a creepy way.

For those of you who have attended any Pikes Peak Writers Conference, you've seen the quarter-page, white survey sheets we hand out for every session. That's right. Every session. Every attendee.

There are 14 time slots for sessions and roughly 370 attendees. Assuming some attendees take a break from the learning to let their brains cool off, I'll go with 20 or so of them not sitting in a chair in a class. That's 350 people we want feedback from times the 14 sessions for a grand total of 4,900 session evaluations.

Now, not everyone does the survey for every session. We have roughly a 50% participation rate (and wish it were higher). At the end of the conference, we have around 2,500 of those little sheets to decipher. They're hastily written and sometimes the folks have handwriting similar to mine (e.g.: illegible).

This means we're spending gobs of time (that's a technical term) reading through them all. You read that right. All. Of. Them.

We love what our attendees have to say about the sessions they attend. Not all reviews are favorable or glowing, but that's okay. Honestly, that's more than okay. We truly do want honest feedback on everything we do. It's how we improve over time.

Without you writing the survey sheets, and with our expenditure of gobs of time reading and reviewing them, we wouldn't know what was on target. Where you let us know about the great speakers and good topics, we know who to bring back and what we need to teach each year.

If you didn't like something, we want to know that as well. We need to know where a presenter fell flat, or if a topic wasn't useful. It helps us realize where we can coach our presenters to improve their teaching skills. It also lets us know that a particular topic might not be of use to our attendees.

I know this is coming out post-conference, but if you come back to see us again (or come to see us for the first time) at the 2017 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, please consider filling out those surveys. I wanted to write this up to let you know how valuable you as an attendee are to our continued improvements and thriving as the best and friendliest conference in the region.

For those of you who spent your valuable time and energy giving us feedback, thank you so very much for doing so. We're listening. We're doing our best to improve based on what you need and want.

If you missed your chance to give feedback, or couldn't fit your comments on those tiny sheets of paper, my email inbox is always available. I welcome any and all constructive criticism (and praise!) to be sent to me at

About the Author: J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels. He also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. He is the president of Pikes Peak Writers. When not writing, he secures computers at the Day Job, homebrews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many card/board/role-playing games.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Sweet Success Challenge -- Leap into Writing

By: Kathie Scrimgeour

As writers we spend many hours alone, toiling at keyboards, storyboards, or scratching outlines on the back of napkins. The solitude is, at times, blissful. At others it can be downright boring. Even depressing. The cold days, along with the many winter celebrations, pulled me away from writing and I felt a need to do something about it. I needed some inspiration, a writing companion, and a good boot in the pants to get back to writing.

From this desire to write with friends the first Sweet Success Challenge; Leap into Writing was formed. Pikes Peak Writers and writers across the nation gathered virtually and committed to write (or do something "writerly") every day for the twenty-nine days of February. The idea was to get back into the writing routine or start a new habit of writing, and then keep it up through the rest of the year.

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one who needed a helping hand. Jody emailed PPW’s blog editor, Donnell Bell, with the subject of, “Lost Writer! Help!” Jody made a New Year’s resolution to get back into writing and sought out PPW for direction. She went on to fulfill her commitment and joined the challenge.

PPW President, J.T. Evans, said, “I really liked the constant encouragement and feedback from you on this front. Getting the cheers and support from everyone else participating really helped as well. I had a rough month in February with many things pulling me in different directions, but I still managed to get a couple of short stories written. These are two stories that wouldn't have otherwise existed.”

Jennifer Rose loved Wednesday Word Wars. “While I’m normally a highly productive writer, Wednesday Word Wars were a great motivating tool for me. I definitely felt pushed to choose to put my fingers to the keys over doing anything else that day.”

Although the Sweet Success Challenge is over, you should consider hosting your own challenge, or joining one. It can be a day, a week, a month, or more. Just bring a few friends (or a lot) together and write! 

You don’t have to live in the same town, or even the same state. Today’s technology has shrunk the world to a size that your writing challenge can take place anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. Keep it simple (as simple as you and a friend who can be your accountability partner); keep it fun (Wednesday Word Wars was a highlight); or make it outlandish (set tough to reach goals like 5,000-15,000 words a day).

Whenever you fall into a bit of a funk, or if your writing has taken a back seat for too long, that’s the time to get up and do something about it. You are not a lone writer who has to wither in a writing bubble. You are a writer and you have friends, many of whom you just haven’t met yet. Start now and make today your day to Leap into Writing.