By Alicia Howie
It all started three years ago. I had finished my first manuscript the previous summer, then spent the fall and winter experimenting with query letters, working on my second manuscript, reading writing reference books, and keeping up with agent and editor blogs. I noticed a certain two-word phrase a lot: writers conference.
In late February 2010, I began my search for the perfect conference for me. There were a couple conferences within reasonable driving distance from my small town home on the central Illinois/Indiana border. But, for some reason, I wanted something bigger. The thought of it scared me, but deep down I wanted an adventure. And why shouldn’t I have an adventure? I’d just spent years sending my characters on adventures. I thought about my main character, Rayden, of her apprehension to complete her quest, and all the trials and tribulations she faced… for me. That’s when I realized I owed it to her to challenge myself.
Through my searches, I found the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Donald Maass was on the attendance list, which appealed to me since I had just finished his book, Writing the Breakout Novel. Also, location. I had never been to Colorado or even seen the Rocky Mountains. I made up my mind. In April of 2010, I packed up a suitcase, drove a hundred miles to the nearest airport, and hopped on a plane to Denver. I’d only flown once before and had never traveled by myself, especially to a place where I didn't know a soul. My friends and family thought I was crazy.
I drove to Colorado Springs, dropped my luggage at the Marriott, and headed out to Garden of the Gods for some amazing sightseeing. Of course, while struggling to breathe walking a flat path, I finally understood the meaning of altitude and all those warnings on the conference brochure about drinking plenty of water. Later, as I hydrated myself at the hotel bar (with water), I struck up a conversation with a few Pikes Peak Writers staff members, who promptly whisked me away to dinner at Phantom Canyon in downtown Colorado Springs. My conference experience was off to a great start.
I spent the weekend learning tons about the ins and outs of writing and the different stages of a manuscript. I spoke with editors and agents and made some awesome friends. I had such a great time that I traveled to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference again in both 2011 and 2012.
Last summer, I quit my day job, rented out my house, packed up my car, and drove my life over a thousand miles to start anew in Colorado Springs. Again, my friends and family thought I was crazy. Luckily, I'd learned how to answer that accusation.
Um, what do you expect? I'm a writer…
About the Author: Alicia Howie is from Danville, Illinois. In college, while taking a Fantasy and Mythology course, a few wayward characters rooted into her psyche and the only way to get them out was to tell their story. She's been writing ever since, a hobby that has led her on quite an adventure, including relocation to Colorado Springs. Alicia has penned a fantasy novel, the first in a series and is currently querying her women's fiction manuscript. Alicia is an enthusiastic member of Pikes Peak Writers and a regular at the annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference.