Friday, April 13, 2012

The Conference is coming! The Conference is coming! by Connie McKenzie

Whether this is your first Pikes Peak Writers Conference or your 20th, this year’s event will be full of new experiences.  Here is some information to help you navigate the waters.

Thursday, April 19th.  Doors open at 7:00 p.m., signing begins at 7:30.  Authors include Robert Crais, Jeffrey Deaver, Susan Wiggs, Kevin J. Anderson, Carol Berg, j.a. Kazimer, Joe R. Lansdale, Marie Lu, Pam McCutcheon (a.k.a. Parker Blue), Barbara Samuel, Carrie Vaughn, and Denise Vega.  This event is open to the public, so feel free to invite friends. 

General:  Layers are a good idea; the temperature in the rooms can vary.  You will be rubbing elbows all weekend with editors, agents, and other writers, so you might want to leave the ripped jeans and graphic t-shirts at home.

Thursday:  Casual, jeans or comfortable slacks or skirts.  Sneakers or walking shoes.

Friday day:  Casual, jeans or comfortable slacks or skirts.  Sneakers or walking shoes. 

Friday evening:  Dress as your favorite literary, TV, or movie character, within reason.  If your favorite character is a nudist, come DRESSED as your second favorite.   Fake swords, battle axes, guns, and other weapons are allowed, but must be peace-tied or obviously fake.  ABSOLUTELY NO WEAPONS ALLOWED IN THE BAR. 

Saturday day:  Business casual.  Shoes should be comfortable for walking.

Saturday night:  Dust off that old ball gown!  Saturday’s banquet is your chance to shine.  Cocktail dress or better is requested, no jeans or sneakers allowed.

Sunday:  Business casual.

The Marriott Hotel requests no outside food or drink, with the exception of water bottles, be brought into the conference area.  If you have a room in the hotel, you may eat your own food in your room.  If you do not have a room in the hotel, there are snacks for sale in the hotel store to the left of the main entrance and coffee and other drinks available at the bar.  There will be water stations around the conference area.

The hotel also does not allow food to be taken out of the ballroom, so remember to save room for dessert!

If you have severe food allergies, make sure you note them on your registration form.  At the meals, be sure your server sees your allergy meal ticket so you will be served the proper meal.

Speaking of meal tickets, DON’T lose your meal ticket or leave it in your room or at home.  Meal tickets will be REQUIRED for entrance into the ballroom. 

If you decide not to attend a meal, you may donate it to one of our hardworking volunteers by turning your ticket in to the registration desk. 

Additional tickets for the Saturday banquet may be purchased in the bookstore on a first come, first served basis.

Welcome to 6,035 feet above sea level!  If you are not acclimated, altitude can have some adverse effects.  Breathing may be difficult, as Colorado Springs does not have an overabundance of oxygen.  Alcohol will hit you harder and faster than at lower altitudes, you may experience headaches, and your skin could become alarmingly snake-like. 

The best way to counter the effects of altitude is to drink plenty of water - much more than you would at home.  If you find yourself light-headed, sit down and drink some water.  If you are short of breath, sit down and drink some water.  If you have a headache, take your choice of headache remedies, and drink some water.  Limit your alcohol intake; drink water instead.  Remember that caffeine dehydrates you, so after your morning coffee, drink some water.  As for the snake skin, lotion is your friend.  And water.  Drink it.  We’re not kidding about that.  You are welcome to bring a refillable water bottle. 

After all that water, you may find yourself in the bathroom.  Suddenly, in the next stall, you hear the voice of your dream agent talking on the phone.  This is your perfect chance!  You have a captive audience!  You begin your pitch, blocking the stall door so the agent can’t escape until promising to look at your manuscript.  Score!

WARNING:  Engaging in the above scenario will not get your book sold.  The agent in question may find another use for your pages. 

The agents and editors who attend the Pikes Peak Writers Conference are among the friendliest in the industry.  Most will be happy to speak to you or answer questions at meals, in workshops, at the bar, or during your scheduled Pitch or R&C session.  Some places, however, are sacred.  If you stumble across an editors or agents in the bathroom, entering or leaving their hotel room, or hiding under a table, smile and give them their moment. 

Speaking of meals and workshops, while it is not only perfectly acceptable and expected you will have conversations with the faculty, try not to monopolize their time.   

Unfortunately, the Colorado Springs Marriott does not offer shuttle service to and from the airport.  Taxi service from the Colorado Springs Airport, one way, is currently around $40.  Check out the PPWC Ride and Room Sharing page for people who may split the ride with you.

So, you made plans to meet up with a friend after a workshop, but on the way, the editor you pitched your manuscript to stops you and asks to sit down and talk to you for an hour or so about your work (hey, anything’s possible!).  Obviously, you are not going to meet your friend, but you don’t want to leave them wandering lost around the hotel.  A message center will be located near the registration desk.

Your pitch and R&C sessions are assigned on a first come, first served basis, determined by your date of registration.  In the event you didn’t get your first choice, you can attempt to swap appointments at the pitch or R&C desks in the registration area on Friday.  Index cards with your appointments will be in your name badge holder in your registration packet.  Pitch appointments are on the 7th floor of the hotel, and your check-in time is on your card.  Please be on time.  We have a very tight schedule, and if you miss your appointment, we will not be able to reschedule. 

If you choose not to use your Pitch or R&C appointment, please turn in your card at the proper desk. 

Unfortunately, there is no free internet connection in the Conference area.  You can get free Wi-Fi in the lobby of the hotel. 

If you use Twitter, the hash tag for the Conference is #PPWC2012.  Tell your friends!

There’s a lot to learn at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, but don’t forget to relax and have a good time.  If you need any help, look for someone with “Staff” on their nametag, a staff shirt on Friday, or go to the registration desk.  And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.