Monday, May 9, 2016

The 10th Annual PPLD Mountain of Authors – Mountain of Magic


By: Darby Karchut

On Saturday, April 23, Library 21C opened its door to aspiring writers, authors, and patrons for the 10th Annual Mountain of Authors. The event featured more than 30 showcase authors, two panels, and one amazing keynote speaker. It ran all day, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the conference room was packed the entire time.

Library 21C
Library 21C is the star of the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD). This massive building, located in the northeast part of Colorado Springs, is a state-of-the-art facility and is the first of its kind in the country. Just recently, it welcomed John Spears as its new executive director of PPLD. He welcomed everyone to the event with an enthusiast speech, and then the fun began.

The Panels
Panel 1 – Mystery Author Panel. The panel included Nancy Atherton, author of the Aunt Dimity cozy mysteries, Robert Greer, author of The Devil’s Hatband and many other noir mysteries featuring characters of color, and Manual Ramos, author of The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz among his other books.

Nancy, Robert and Manual talked about the inspirations for their plots, how they motivated themselves, the use of setting in their stories, and encouraged aspiring writers to write, write, write.

Panel 2 – 10th Anniversary Retrospective. This panel welcomed three previous panelists from earlier Mountain of Authors: Mario Acevedo, author of the bestselling Felix Gomes detective-vampire series, Kristen Heitzmann, author of The Breath of Dawn and other novels, and Sandra Bond, owner of Bond Literary Agency.

Mario, Kristen, and Sandra offered some insiders’ hints and truths about landing agents and/or editors, and discussed the rise of small and mid-size publishing. They all agreed this was an exciting time in the book world, for there are more options for authors than ever before, and many different roads to success.

Keynote Speaker
Anne Hillerman, author of Spider Woman’s Daughter and Rock with Wings, gave the keynote speech. She expounded upon the recent scientific studies showing the emotional and physical benefits of reading. Anne also talked about the power of place in stories, and shared heartfelt yarns about her dad, the late Tony Hillerman.

Showcase Authors
In between the panel presentation, there were plenty of opportunities for the audience to visit with the showcase authors, and talk one-on-one about writing and the publishing world. Even better, it was a great gift to catch up with old friends and fellow writers. Book folks are the best folks!
Darby showcasing her work
Included in the day’s schedule was the ceremony honoring the finalists and winner of the All Pikes Peak Writers. This was PPLD’s first annual adult fiction writing contest.
Truly a Mountain of Authors Photo by Bruce Stetler

The Staff and Volunteers
I have to give a Rocky Mountain-size shout out to Bryan Matthews, Shannon Miller, and Karin Huxman. Bryan Matthews kept us authors organized and informed during the months leading up to the event, and his enthusiasm for books and writers was contagious. Shannon Miller and Karin Huxman were the moderators. They not only had a slew of thoughtful, intelligent questions ready to go, they fielded questions from the audience as well.

The rest of the staff and volunteers, many who I didn’t get a chance to thank, were the heroes of the day. They kept everything running smoothly and made us authors feel like rock stars. And, man, oh, man, those gourmet cupcakes at the end!

So, here’s to next year’s Mountain of Authors! I can’t wait to see what the Pikes Peak Library District has planned for number eleven!