Monday, February 27, 2012

PPWC Value by Grant McKenzie

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference has a reputation for being the friendliest writers conference. I have discovered that PPWC is friendly to your pocketbook, as well. I did a little research on some other writers conferences around the nation, just to see where PPWC stood. Turns out, it is one of the most economical conferences in the country, if not the most economical. I didn’t look at ALL the conferences, so I can’t be completely certain, but read on and you’ll be sure to come to the same conclusion I did.

First, let me tell you how I chose which conferences to look at. One or two are currently being advertised on LinkedIn events (along with PPWC), but the majority came from reviews at Writers Digest. These are big name conferences and are considered the same caliber as PPWC. In fact, one conference has literary agent Donald Maass as a keynote speaker and another has bestselling author Susan Wiggs, both of whom will be part of the 2012 PPWC faculty.

I looked at several aspects of all of these conferences, such as fees, add-on days, meals, etc., to see how they compared in those categories, and then I tallied up an overall comparison to see where PPWC would rate. Here is what I discovered:

Rates: This is most likely the first thing people look at when comparing conferences. I looked at two one-day conferences, two two-day conferences and four other three-day conferences. With no adjustment for the number of days (just using each conference’s advertised fee), the average price of a conference is $396.50. If you just look at three day conferences, the average jumps to $443 dollars. The fees for three-day conference ranged from $310 - $595. One two-day conference was $645.  PPWC has, and maintains, one of the lowest rates available.

Add-On Days: This year, PPWC is holding four day-long workshops, including one presented by Donald Maass. PPWC’s rate is $135 for just the Thursday workshops or $85 with full conference. For most of the conferences reviewed, the rates ranged from $99 for an evening (3-hour) workshop to $249 for a full day. One conference charged $199 in addition to their $525 conference fee for a half-day add-on workshop. PPWC has the best value for add-on workshops.

One-On-One:  Most conferences offer some kind of one-one-one time with editors, agents, or other faculty. This time ranges from short pitch/critiques sessions to hour-long manuscript critiques. Most conferences include short pitch sessions like those offered by PPWC or short critique sessions like PPWC’s Read & Critique. About half the conferences I looked at charged extra for one-on-one appointments, but these were usually critiques (not pitches) and lasted from 10 minutes to a full hour. Fees ranged from $30-$140. PPWC rates evenly with other conferences for one-on-one appointments.

Meals: PPWC 2012 offers its attendees two continental breakfasts, three lunches, and two dinners. The lunches and dinners all feature keynote speakers like authors Robert Crais and Jeffery Deaver. No other conference even comes close. The closest offers three continental breakfasts, two ‘afternoon snacks,’ and two dinners, with keynotes. PPWC offers the best deal by far for meals among writers’ conferences.

Overall: Taking all of this into consideration and doing a bit of statistical manipulation (I am a rocket scientist, after all), I came up with a measure of value to compare everything each conference had to offer. PPWC is about 15% more valuable than its nearest competitor and 70% more valuable than the average of all the conferences I examined.

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference has as much or more to offer than any other writers conference out there, and does it at a lower price.

About the Writer:  Grant McKenzie is a renaissance man. A genuine rocket scientist and self-made chandler, Grant also enjoys writing poetry, fantasy, historical fiction, and non-fiction. He has ghostwritten a business/leadership book and is working on a YA fantasy novel for himself. Grant currently serves PPW as the registrar for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, as well as other non-conference events. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~ Anaïs Nin

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sweet Success! - Darby Karchut

Darby Karchut has two Sweet Successes to celebrate!

Her young adult urban fantasy novel, Griffin's Fire (ISBN 978-1-60619-212-2; trade paperback), will be released April 15, 2012, by Twilight Times Books. The book will be available at most online bookstores and in many independent brick-and-mortar bookstores.  

For centuries, there have been rumors about a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli, angelic warriors and their apprentices who clandestinely serve as guardians for humans in danger.

Forced to become mortal, ex-teen angel Griffin has been banished from the Terrae Angeli. Struggling to adjust, he enrolls in the heaven-and-hell known as high school. To make matters worse, his Mentor has been ordered to take on a new apprentice, the gifted and egotistical seventeen-year-old Sergei, whose covert attacks make Griffin’s home life as bleak as a Siberian winter.

Caught between school, Sergei, and a desperate secret, Griffin is certain of one thing: the only way to fight a Cold War is with Fire.

Darby’s middle-grade urban fantasy novel, Finn Finnegan (soft and hardcover) will be released on March 11, 2013, by Spencer Hill Press. The books will be available via online bookstores.  

A modern teenage boy apprentices with a legendary Celtic warrior to battle the hobgoblins infesting their suburban neighborhood.

Darby Karchut is a writer, a teacher, and a compulsive dawn greeter. She lives in Colorado with her husband and owns more backpacks than purses. As she should. She is the author of the award-winning Griffin Rising (YA fantasy from Twilight Times Books), and she is currently working on the next two books in the series: Griffin's Fire (April 2012) and Griffin's Storm (release TBD; both from Twilight Times Books). Visit her website at

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Column: What’s Not Pending by Karen Albright Lin

"Pending" allows for time to look forward, for time to reconsider, for time to celebrate those little steps toward whatever we are waiting for. 

What's NOT pending for me today: shopping for necessary household supplies, picking up my child from school, shoveling snow, and cooking dinner.

This writing business is a bizarre one. Its slogan could be "Hurry Up and Wait..."

The pain of the business is parallel to the angst suffered by the chimps who were subjected to punishing electric shocks. Those that got them on a predictable time table coped much better than those that got randomly timed shocks. Those in the latter study group spent every moment cowering in corners, full of anxiety. If our industry was more predictable, it wouldn't frustrate so much. Only the bravest and strongest among us can handle this uniquely punishing business. This intrepid Sister of the Quill suggests we celebrate our persistence and patience and give ourselves the kudos we deserve. Love and strength to my fellow writers.

(Originally posted at the Sisters of the Quill blog 12/2/2009)

About the Writer:  Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at

Monday, February 20, 2012

Letter from the PPW Executive Director

My Fellow Writers:

That feeling is in the air.  You know the one, right?  The one that tells us that the Pikes Peak Writers Conference(PPWC) is getting closer.  My favorite weekend of the year. 

As a writer, for over a decade I have anticipated the PPWC.  Not only because of the world-class agents, editors, and best-selling authors we bring in, but for the workshops and fellow writers that fill my writing well.  There is always something to learn as a writer no matter what point of the journey you are on...novice or multi-contracted author.  The energy that fills the halls and classrooms at the conference cannot be described.  It simply has to be experienced to be understood.

Now, some may say I'm biased.  And they are right.  But I'm biased because I've attended many different conferences and still find myself filled with the most anticipation for PPWC. 

If you've been to the conference before, come back. We've missed you. If you've never attended a PPWC, make this the year you find out what agents, editors, and authors mean when they say that this conference is the friendliest, best organized, and most educational.

This year marks our 20th conference event and we are pulling out all stops to top our best.  Visit our web site,, to read about who will be there.  See the fabulous events we have planned.  Read about the top-notch workshops available to attendees.  Don't forget to take a look at our additional Thursday programming that you can add to the weekend.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.  I'm always happy to help.

Hope to see you in April.

Jodi Anderson
Pikes Peak Writers Executive Director

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer. ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Column: The Business of Writing - Myths About Writers by Linda Rohrbough

What is it about being a writer that everyone assumes you can spell? In fact, I run into a whole bunch of mythical assumptions about writers.

The spelling myth one is one of my favorites. For them, it must be like me going to dinner with my dentist – I would be afraid to smile. I see people visibly relax when I tell them what a crummy speller I am.

My spelling is better the more I write. But I’m so far off sometimes, the spell checker can’t help me. And if you don’t have the correct first letter, then you’re outta luck with a dictionary, thank you very much. Like when I tried to find the correct spelling for “kyniption,” (which I had to look up again to correctly spell it at the end of this paragraph.) I was under deadline, never did find the spelling, and had to substitute the word “fit.” Conniption was a much better word and I grieved its loss.

By the way, thank God for the Internet. Evidently they’ve figured out what piss-poor spellers some of us are. I can almost always find my corrected misspelling of a word on the Web. Almost. (Didn’t work with conniption, though.)

Another one that comes to mind is that everyone assumes I know exactly where commas go. Sheesh. This is why I have an annual subscription to the online AP Style Guide online.

What’s even more amusing is when I consult with authors and they say to me, “I’m in a hurry to get this book published, because I need the money.” I really hate hearing that because then I have to let them know they’d be better off financially as the greeter at Wal-Mart. Of course, they don’t believe me until much later. This isn’t a fast business, folks.

Oh - then there’s the, “I’ve got a book idea, you write it, and we’ll split the money.” Sure. Like I can just whip out a book like my chef mother-in-law whips up a batch of cookies for desert while everyone is finishing up a meal. Plus, do you know the value of a good idea? (This is a trick question.) It’s zero. Yep. Zip, zilch, nadda. An idea only has value when it’s executed.

I want to say to someone who brings me a deal like this, “Honey, I have so many ideas I can’t get to now, I don’t have a clue how far down the queue yours would end up.”

One of my best-selling friends says she’s tempted to quip, “How about I give you one of my ideas, you write and publish it, and then split the money with me?” No one wants that deal, though.

I wonder sometimes if it’s like playing the lottery, which I don’t do by the way. But I hear if you play the same set of numbers over and over for a lot of years, yours is likely to hit. Now that I think of it, most of my writer friends love gambling. When we meet at conferences, I’ve found they have an instinct for finding a nearby casino. I reluctantly pull ten bucks out of my pocket and kiss it goodbye just so I can talk to one of my author friends about the business while we sit side-by-side at identical Wheel of Fortune machines. If I get stuck by myself, I migrate to video poker because I feel some input over the outcome. I’m grateful some of the casinos are non-smoking.

But my writing friends have their gambling tricks, like choose a machine close to the isle because it’s been played more often. It occurred to me one day that maybe writing really is like gambling and that’s why these successful writers like both writing and playing the slots. Because in both cases, you’ve got to believe you’re that one in a million. If the truth be known, deep down, I do believe my books will be on the New York Times list. That’s one of the things that keeps me going despite the obstacles and hurdles.

I’m sure there are a lot more myths out there. What ones have you run into? I know there are more. C’mon people, I’m counting on you.

About the Writer:  Linda Rohrbough has been writing since 1989, and has more than 5,000 articles and seven books to her credit along with national awards for her fiction and non-fiction. New York Times #1 bestselling author Debbie Macomber said about Linda’s new novel: "This is fast-paced, thrilling, edge-of-the-seat reading. The Prophetess One: At Risk had me flipping the pages and holding my breath."  She recently won the 2011 Global eBook Award and the 2011 Millennium Star Publishing Award for her new novel. An iPhone App of her popular “Pitch Your Book” workshop is available in the Apple iTunes store. Visit her website:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Running a Three-Legged Race? Why Collaborate? by Janet Fogg

(Originally posted at the Chiseled in Rock blog on January 16, 2011)

Is the sum truly better than the parts? It could be!
When considering this topic I was reminded of an analogy used by one of my partners at OZ Architecture. He described several of our designers as cheetahs – sprinting ahead of the pack to try to land a project and then dragging the kill away to gorge on all by themselves. But then, if they needed help, guess what happened? Suddenly the cheetahs became interested in team work and learned to share. What does that have to do with collaborating on a manuscript? It’s analogous. An award-winning project can be designed by a team and a contract-winning manuscript can be written. It’s fun, often more efficient, you have a partner to back you up when you’re failing or tired or just plain sick of the project, and yes, sometimes it can be a pain in the ass. But the pain can be circumvented if communication is clear and egos are (mostly) checked at the door.

I’ve collaborated on award-winning screenplays, a soon-to-be-released non-fiction book, a narrative non-fiction, and a novel. I used to do quite a bit of ghost-writing. I love writing solo and have been published, yet I also enjoy collaborating. It’s nothing to fear, especially if you’re a good communicator and plan ahead.

First up? Collaborating on a screenplay.

What if you have a great concept, start drafting a manuscript, and your wheels won’t stop spinning? Yes, this happens to most writers at some point, but I mean spinning so fast that the wheels carve out a quicksand-filled sinkhole. Should you abandon thoughts of escape? Perhaps not. I’ve collaborated with Karen Albright Lin on several screenplays, and our first effort, Headhunters, began in exactly that fashion. I had a concept, started to write the book, and then hit quicksand. Why? I’m not exactly sure. The story just didn’t sing to me anymore. I was vigorously and thoroughly kicking myself when Karen suggested my concept would make a great screenplay. Voilà! She remembers that I suggested we write it together and I think she did. See? A great collaboration, where each gives credit to their partner! We had a blast and I believe Headhunters was meant for film.

Karen had already written several screenplays so she generously shared her expertise, and together we brainstormed the characters, developed the plot, shared time on research, and then alternated writing scenes. We both edited every sentence. Since then we’ve co-authored another screenplay based on a concept of Karen’s, and have a third in development. All three are award-winners and we’ve even had a Hollywood agent, though we ultimately severed that unfruitful relationship.

We discovered that I was better at writing action scenes (gimmie a car chase and a bunch of thugs with guns!), while Karen excelled at quiet, introspective moments, so we allocated scene drafts accordingly. I’m an early riser and Karen works late into the night. This worked to our advantage when we had a deadline, as we wrote in shifts, emailing a draft back and forth, morning and night.

Then there’s marketing. Whether pitching a story in person or subscribing to an on-line lead service, sharing that burden is not only attractive, it’s cost effective. Quite frankly, it’s also a hoot pitching with a partner. Playing off each other is effective and far less nerve-wracking.

Be aware that if you’re interested in writing specifically for Hollywood, collaboration will be your middle name. If your screenplay is optioned there will be re-writes, possibly by you and definitely by others. Then a shooting script will be developed and the story may change all over again, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be involved in those revisions. Writing for TV is another tale, as episodes for a series are invariably written by a team. You’ll also need to move to Hollywood to achieve that particular goal.

Back to Headhunters. Did we stumble during this three-legged race?  I don’t think we even stubbed our toes. While we had a tendency to debate whether a character should act or speak in an overt versus subtle fashion, they were respectful debates. Together, we pounded out the plot points, just as we shared the writing, editing, and research, and continue to share marketing efforts.

Screenplays lend themselves to collaboration. Action needs to be described in a consistent, crisp style; characters should be well developed with no superfluous dialogue. Karen and I work and play well together. It helps that we have similar goals and are unafraid of revisions. We both want to write great stories and sell them, so we’ll continue to stride towards Hollywood.
But there are other races to be won! Next installment, I’ll talk about lessons learned while collaborating with my husband, Richard, on Fogg in the Cockpit, a military history book released by Casemate Publishing. After that I’ll look at co-authoring a novel, and I’ll also share a contract sample and suggest discussion points between collaborators.

About the Writer:  Janet Fogg’s focus on novel-length fiction and screenplays began in the 1990s when she was CFO for the coolest architectural firm in Boulder. Numerous manuscripts and fifteen writing awards later, Janet resigned from OZ Architecture to write full-time, and ten months later she signed a contract for Soliloquy, her award-winning time-travel romance. In 2011 Casemate Publishing released Fogg in the Cockpit, co-authored by Janet and her husband Richard Fogg. Based on the wartime diary of Richard’s father, Fogg in the Cockpit offers a first hand look at Howard Fogg’s fascinating and often unexpected story as a fighter pilot during World War II.

Janet is a long-time member of Pikes Peak Writers, RMFW, and two fantastic critique groups. In her free time she has fun with cars with Richard.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~ William Wordsworth

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sweet Success! - Deb Stover

Deb Stover's adult paranormal romance novel, Mulligan Stew (ISBN  978-0515133097, 320 pages, hardcover, softcover, ebook) was re-released as an ebook in August 2011 by ePublishing Works.  The book and ebook are available via online bookstores.  The author's website is at  

A cursed Irish castle, star-crossed lovers, destiny, and comfort food.... Widowed mother and aspiring chef, Bridget Mulligan, leaves small-town Tennessee and the only home she's ever known to take her son to Ireland and the in-laws she's never met. They are welcomed by all but one member of the Mulligan Clan--her brother-in-law, Riley--who believes she is a fraud and fortune-hunter. However, when the Mulligan Curse lures Bridget to the sealed family castle, Riley Mulligan must face all his demons--past and present--along with the powerful longing both he and Bridget battle for each other.

Deb Stover's adult time travel romance novella, Citizen Daisy (ebook, about 23K), was published January 5, 2012, by ePublishing Works.  The ebook is available via online bookstores.

You will never look at an MRI the same way after reading how a United States Congressman finds himself transported to the past, where he is accused of being a spaceman by locals who have recently read the latest Jules Verne novel. His adventures include falling in love with a young lady branded a witch by the superstitious townsfolk, and she believes she "wished" him to the past. Can these two lovers find a world they can share?

Once upon a time, Deb Stover wanted to be Lois Lane until she discovered Clark Kent is a fraud and there is no Superman.  She has received dozens of awards for her cross-genre fiction.  Please visit for additional information. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feel the fear… and run the other way by Shannon Baker

(Originally posted at the Inkspot blog on December 28, 2011)

“You won’t believe what just happened.” The Man With Endless Tolerance (MWET) with whom I live, said over the phone. “A guy tried to land without putting down his landing gear. The whole runway is shut down.”

Despite sitting at my desk fifteen miles away, my heart rate spiked into the red zone. MWET is a general aviation pilot. He has a sweet Cessna 182 that he loves a lot and makes travel easy and fun. Well, fun for him, anyway. I read and sleep and hope for smooth tailwinds. I’ve never panicked when flying in turbulent skies. Hardly ever, anyway. And I’ve only tossed my cookies once…so far.

I usually study the landscape during landings, wondering who lives near the airports or have my nose stuck so far in a book I’m oblivious to the ground rushing up to meet us. Occasionally, I’ve tried to accustom myself to the fine art of landing. Every time I pay attention I break out in a cold sweat. There is an acronym MWET recites so he remembers every step. GUMPPFI or is it GUMPPFY? Gas, Undercarriage (that’s the landing gear part), Power, Pitch, Mixture, Flaps---and what else? WHAT ELSE!? That memory lapse is the stuff of nightmares.

I know what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Why in dog’s name would I want to do that? I hate to be scared. I don’t face my fear like a conquering warrior. I deny it, sneak up on it and try to do an end run around it. I whistle past the graveyard to keep from disturbing the spooks instead of going all Buffy on their ass.

What I lack in courage I make up for in denial. I never watch the needle insertion when giving blood; I take myself to a happy place full of bluebirds, talking deer, and thumping rabbits. I’m one of those people who stub their toe and limp around saying, “Didn’t hurt, didn’t hurt, didn’t hurt,” for two days before admitting it’s broken. I’m so good at this my daughter once bought me a t-shirt that said, “Denial. It works for me.”

That’s how I deal with writing novels. If I thought too much about the writing business I’d be a whimpering, quivering mass in a corner, too afraid to write an email, let alone a whole novel.

So I write a really nasty first draft. That’s not a big deal because no one but me will see it. Then I’ll edit it a few times and polish it up and that’s okay because only my critique group will see it and they’ll save me from embarrassing myself. Then I start whistling and sending it out to professionals and go about my daily business doing my best to forget it’s out there. Denial, bluebirds, whistling through rejections, sales and publishing. Who needs courage for that?

If I hadn’t played Mind F*&%k with myself all along, I’d have had to face (and probably succumbed to) paralyzing fear. I’d never have become a mother and yet, my daughters are pretty terrific. I’d never have learned to scuba dive, which I love. I wouldn’t have moved from Nebraska to Colorado and then on to Arizona and experienced my life expanding all around me. And I certainly would never have written a book, let alone a couple of them.

I guess I’ll take some landing lessons soon. Not because I will finally “grow a pair.” The truth is if I ever really need to use those lessons, it will be because I’m the only one who can land the plane and the fear of splattering all over the landscape trumps fear of forgetting to put down the landing gear. What does that I or Y stand for anyway?

What about you? Does writing, plotting, or the book business make you tremble in your shoes?

About the Writer: Shannon Baker has a right brain/left brain conflict. While the left brain focuses on her career as an accountant, her right brain concocts thrillers, including her 2010 release, Ashes of the Red Heifer. A lover of mountains, plains, oceans and rivers, she can often be found traipsing around the great outdoors. The first book in the Nora Abbott Mystery Series will release in the fall of 2012 from Midnight Ink publishers. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  – Agatha Christie

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sweet Success! - Mandy Houk

Mandy Houk's adult inspirational article, "Flip Sides," (about 800 words) was published by in January 2012.  The article is available to read for free here.  The author's website is at

Mandy is a freelance writer and editor and has been volunteering with Pikes Peak Writers since 2008.