By: Victoria Fox-Phillips
My name is “Karen’s Daughter.” I volunteer in the book store.
My name is “Karen’s Daughter – ask me about my mom’s book.” I work in the pitch room.
My name is “Torie – you know, Karen’s Daughter.” I’m in the query room.
My name is Torie. I run the Green Room at the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference, and my mother is Karen Fox – published author on bestseller lists, award winner, Rita nominee, and a part of Pikes Peak Writers Conference from the very beginning.
Yup, it took about a decade for me to have a name that didn’t involve my mother.
Though in all fairness, my mother is the one who volunteered me as a child. And I was the most painfully shy kid you ever did see, so if my mom didn’t tell people my name, they didn’t know it. So I was “Karen’s daughter” for years.
I started volunteering at PPWC because I was “volun-told.” I think part of it was my mother saw how much I liked writing, and wanted to begin working me into that world. Another part was probably trying to socialize me a bit, bring me out of my shell. And yet another part was I was free labor. Whatever the reason, my mom brought me to PPWC as a kid and more than twenty years later, I’m still around.
As a kid, I liked the cash register and the food and the pool. As a high schooler, I liked the food and the fact that it looked good on my college application. But I also started sitting in on conference sessions here and there. I very distinctly remember one workshop on poetry that helped me through my AP English assignments. And I sat in a few that my mom and her friends presented. That was when the idea of being a real-life writer took root.
My mother has been a writer for as long as I can remember — so I thought I’d do it too. She published her first book in her late thirties — and so I thought I’d do it too. And silly, silly me, I thought it was as easy as “well she did it, I can do it too.” It’s not that easy, and it’s not going particularly well thus far.
When I started writing, I had no idea what to do with my finished manuscript — which was more than 89,000 words for a YA novel. Already, there was obviously some knowledge that I was lacking. Bless her heart, my mother still read that beast and gave me good, constructive feedback. But with it came the gentle push to look over the session agenda for that year’s conference. Always a mother, my mom was suggesting in her kind-hearted way that there was still a lot I needed to learn.
I took her hint, and I rolled with it. I sat in more sessions that year, ones that were more specific to my genre and how to publish in general. I talked to people of all walks of life — editors, agents, published authors, bloggers, keynote speakers, and more. I set up pitch or query sessions every year since then, where I’ve gotten some great advice.
I’m now on version 5.1 of my query letter, I’ve edited 5,000+ words out of that one novel, written four more novels, and have started a website and a blog. My mom taught me what it meant to have the heart and soul of a writer, and PPWC taught me the business end.
Now I’m thirty-two, and I’m still a volunteer at PPWC. I still like the food and the pool, but more so these days, I love the company. PPWC has become my Writing Family. Everything I’ve learned about truly being a writer, I’ve learned from this amazing group of people. There is no one more supportive than a group of people all trying to do exactly what you’re trying to do. No one who knows the struggles and heartaches better than people who have already survived them. No one who will celebrate your small successes more than people who know how to find them.
The crew at PPWC is a part of my life now. I see them every year. I stalk them on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I read their books, I write reviews, I take their advice. It is through this group of people that I have made any progress. I firmly believe that when I do publish, it will be thanks to some wonderful human being from Pikes Peak Writers.
And no matter when that is, and how it happens, I will only have two words to say…
About the Writer: Torie Fox-Phillips is a Loan Intelligence Associate Analyst, more commonly referred to as “The Excel Guru” at the FirstBank headquarters in Denver. An aggressive multi-tasker by day and a social moth by night, she has been a PPWC volunteer and a writer since she was eight years old – though the illustrious title of “Author” still eludes her. With five complete YA novels, and a plethora of paranormal short stories, Torie continues the hunt for an agent. Crikey!
Check out her blogs and flash fiction at http://toriefox.freeblog.site/