Friday, December 20, 2013

Countdown to Conference: Why My Conference is the Best Conference

By the Completely Unbiased M.B. Partlow



When I attended my first Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I didn't know any writers. I hadn't written a word since college. I felt like a giant fraud, certain someone would stand in a workshop, point at me and declare, "J'accuse!" And shy? It was all I could do to muster the intestinal fortitude to ask "Is this seat taken?" at lunch.

This is where I'd like to tell you I met the agent of my dreams at that conference, who saw my hidden potential and gave me a billion dollar advance to write the novel of my dreams.

Ha! Even then, agents weren't tossing money at unknown wannabes. And self-publishing was reserved for anarchists and pornographers, neither of which was an aspiration of mine.

Instead, I met people who were deeply, passionately interested in the craft and the business of writing. People who read as deeply and widely as I did, dreamers from every walk of life. People who wanted to tell stories. People who wanted to tell lies and get paid for it.

In other words, it felt like coming home. As though my entire life, I'd been just a half-step out of focus with everyone around me, speaking a language that was just a little different. But at conference? At conference I was surrounded by writers.

It was just like that moment when The Wizard of Oz goes from black and white to color. Or the moment in high school when all of a sudden either algebra or geometry (never both) clicks and makes sense.

We work really hard to make the Pikes Peak Writers Conference a successful event for everyone who attends, from the best selling keynote speakers to the most shy attendee hiding behind his or her laptop.

How do we do that?

Would you believe me if I said magic?

No? How about a ton of hard work, a legion of dedicated volunteers, and occasional copious amounts of wine? (Maybe I meant whine. Maybe I didn't.)

We review every single conference survey our attendees fill out. We read every session evaluation. We look at what worked in the past and challenge ourselves to find ways to make it even better. We make every attempt to stay current with the rapidly changing industry of publishing, which is something like tap dancing on an active fault line--you never know when the whole foundation is going to shift.

Not only that, we encourage all of our volunteers (and they are legion) to go out of their way to extend a smile, answer a question, make anyone and everyone feel welcome.

This year, we're trying something completely new and different for us. We've broken the conference fee (still $395!) down into five payments of $79. And you can make those payments any time you like, as long as you finish by April 15th. We all know what it's like to live on a budget, and we hope this new option will make the conference a possibility for even more aspiring writers who want to attend.

(You do know what you get for your money, right? Our keynotes this year are so fabulous, I could weep. Jim C. Hines, Chuck Wendig, Gail Carriger and Hank Phillippi Ryan. Five sit-down meals plus two continental breakfasts. A book signing with all published faculty. Agents and editors from across the country, representing a wide variety of genres. A faculty specifically chosen to inform, amuse and inspire. On-site contests. A bookstore. An awards banquet. And all this takes place at the Colorado Springs Marriott, where the staff goes above and beyond to ensure our safety, comfort and well-being.)

If you're thinking about attending, take the plunge. Before you know it, you'll go from being a new face to an old friend. A published friend. One who spells my name right on the dedication page of their first novel.


About the Author: MB Partlow, 2014 Programming Director for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, is hard at work getting fantastic speakers and participants for the conference. You can reach her at programming@pikespeakwriters.com or find more information on the 2013 Pikes Peak Writers Conference at pikespeakwriters.com.