2015 PPWC Workshops

At Pikes Peak Writers Conference, our goal is to provide you with a program full of exciting and informative workshops for all skill levels and interests. Authors, agents, editors, publishers, and specialists come to our conference for one reason… to share their knowledge and love for writing with our passionate and ambitious attendees.

The following is just a sample of what you will be able to choose from at our 23rd annual conference in April, 2015. Keep checking back for additional workshops and presenters.

Please remember that some things are beyond our control, so, all programming is subject to change at any time.

7 Things You Need To Know To Write Like A Poet

Presented by Rod Miller

What do poets do to turn words into poetry? Learn seven characteristics of poetic writing that will serve you well whether you are writing poetry or want to. lend elegance to your proseDiscussed, with examples, are techniques such as metaphor, repetition of sound, allusion, and rhythm—all of which prose writers can utilize, as poets do, to make words work harder, sound better, and affect readers more deeply. Includes examples and illustrations with PowerPoint visuals.

The Art Of The Funny Bone

Presented by Bob Spiller

Humor isn’t just an art; some consider it a science. Learn about the types of humor and their construction. Join Bob Spiller and you might also learn how you might add a smile to your own writing. Bring a joke if you dare.

Author Platform Building (For People With A Life)

Presented by F.T. Bradley

Does the phrase ‘author platform’ make you tense up, panic, or want to hide from the world? Do you get overwhelmed when you hear all you’re supposed to do - Twitter, Facebook, blog, a website…? Join author F.T. Bradley to find out how to identify and reach your readers, what you really need to do, and what you can do without. This is the author platform workshop for people with a life, like you.

Balancing Writing And A Full-Time Job

Presented by Mike Befeler

This session describes a technique based on Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages concept in her book The Artist’s Way on how to write while being fully employed. Recommendations are provided on how to manage a regular writing schedule, balance conflicting demands and keep continuity going in the writing process. Specific attention is given to the elements of starting to write, constantly improving writing skills and persevering under the time constraints and pressure of a full time job.

Beating The Block: Mental Fiber For Creative Constipation

Presented by Bree Ervin

Feeling abandoned by The Muse? Let me show you how to bring her back to your side.
There are lots of reasons for feeling blocked, but there’s only one true remedy – Writing. So, how do you get your fingers flowing across that keyboard, or dancing across the page when it feels like the last thing on
Eearth you want to do? This is a hands-on workshop. Participants should bring paper and writing utensils. We will explore a few exercises guaranteed to get the words flowing again. Participants will leave class with a fresh box of tools to help them get unstuck anywhere, any time.

Beyond 3 Acts: Modern Novel Structure

Presented by Trai Cartwright

Ever start work on a book and find yourself stalling somewhere around page 125 or 150? Ever find yourself stumped for how to end your book, or start revisions and find yourself bored by your own story by page 75? These are all indicative of structural issues. One of the most helpful craft elements a writer can learn is the underlying structure found in nearly every modern movie and commercial novel. Some of these “beats” go back thousands of years; others are quite new, and this workshop reveals and explains the beats of our current literary and reading culture. These powerful tools will supercharge your story with momentum and your characters with purpose.

The Big Picture Revision Checklist

Presented by Alex Kourvo

The first draft of your novel is done. Now what? Once the champagne is gone, you’re left with a daunting pile of pages and no idea where to begin. This 20-point checklist will help authors dive into those second-draft revisions with gusto, making sure their protagonist, antagonist, and story stakes are all they can be.

Brainstorming Using The Plotting Board

Presented by Pam McCutcheon

Brainstorming Using the Plotting Board: One of the problems with brainstorming is that it’s difficult to gather your friends together when you need help. And, when plotting alone, it’s even harder to break out of your conventional mode of thinking to come up with fresh new approaches to plotting and characterization. In this workshop, Pam will use characterization, plot, and scene structure to help you brainstorm a new book using the visual plotting board or learn what you’re missing in your current ms. Whether you brainstorm alone or in a group, these techniques will help you bust your way out of writer’s block.

Constructing Your SciFi Or Fantasy Novel

Presented by Josh Vogt

Just like every writer has a somewhat different drafting and revision process, so every genre writer often has a unique way to go about building a world from the ground up. But the more tools and techniques you have to choose from, the better your chances are of refining your worldbuilding process. In this overarching workshop, we’ll discuss the many factors that help flesh out a science fiction or fantasy world and how to cobble them all together and bring them to life. From systems of magic to cultural constructs, from ancient history to unique technologies–discover how to introduce readers to your world and get them lost in it. Plus get a couple helpful handouts along the way!

Cornerstones Of Excellence: Revise Your Novel From Good To Great!

Presented by Barbara (Samuel) O’Neal

You’ve done all the heavy lifting in revisions, now take your book through one more revision to add dazzle, punch, and excellence by using time honored techniques of layering in detail, listening to the words, and paying attention to color, scent, and other subtle choices that add up to a big impact, taking your book from merely good… to AMAZING!

Exploding Plot Points

Presented by Alex Kourvo

Are your novel’s “big scenes” doing everything they are supposed to do? Are there ways to make them bigger, more dramatic, and more compelling for the reader? In this workshop, you’ll learn how to make your key scenes explode, taking the plot in new directions and keeping your readers engaged until the very last page.

Female Serial Killers? C’Mon!

Presented by Pete Klismet

It’s the age of equality, at least in America. Some authors want to make their female serial killer as mean, angry and sexually depraved as the men. Well, guess what. They AREN’T the same, no matter how bad you might want them to be. But…they exist. Join former FBI Profiler Pete Klismet in a journey to the unusual, but realistic realm of the female serial killer.

The Foundations Of A Freelance Writing Career

Presented by Josh Vogt

Have you ever considered pursuing a career as either a part or full-time freelance writer? It’s a dream many people have–the ability to work from home, choose your own hours and clients, all while making a living through writing. But not so many actually know how to go about starting and maintaining this sort of career path. In this workshop, you’ll learn three main elements to get you going as a freelance writer, as well as how to give yourself the tools and mindset to encourage long-term success. Discover what you need to present yourself as a true professional, how to build a portfolio of work, and tips and tricks to effectively pitch your services to clients. There will be time at the end for Q&A.

Guerilla Marketing: Skip The Monkey Marketing

Presented by J.A. Kazimer

This presentation will teach writers how to use Guerrilla Marketing (advertising focused on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results) to sell more books and even sell yourself as the writer. We will explore how other Guerrilla marketers have sold thousands of books, and brainstorm ways for every attendee to do the same.

Hey, Look At Me! (Self-Marketing In The Ever-Changing World Of Publishing)

Presented by Jenni Marts

Gone are the days of national book signing tours where an author travels from city to city to meet adoring fans (well - ok, some authors still do this). But the majority of an author’s promotional time is now spent at home at their laptop, and quite often in their pajamas or sweats and clutching a luke-warm cup of coffee. Whether you are traditional or indie, you are still responsible for the majority of your own self-marketing. This workshop teaches you how to get your name out there and get recognized through multiple marketing channels such as building a brand, creating a social media network, making the most of community events, and some new and creative ideas of how to use social media and multiple marketing avenues to get your name noticed. There’s more to marketing than just Facebook and this workshop explores other options and new alternatives to building your brand and creating successful self-promotion.

Hi. I’m Your Friendly Neighborhood Serial Killer

Presented by Pete Klismet

A lot of crime/fiction writers depict serial killers as the media might, replete with stereotypical behavior. But, guess what? They’re not raving lunatics with blood dripping from the corners of their mouths. And, stranger yet, they are no ‘crazier’ than you and me. Join a former FBI profiler and explore what a serial killer is ‘really’ like. You might be surprised. Or even become paranoid. But we hope only to dispel some of your beliefs and myths common to this phenomenon.

In The Beginning 

Presented by Laura DiSilverio

Laura DiSilverio will analyze and dissect first paragraphs (roughly) of published novels and train attendees to do this dissection. Join Laura as she discusses the elements of an effective opening to a novel or short story and learn how to get your work off to a better and more engaging start.

Less Is More: Cogent Fiction Writing

Presented by Dana Isaacson

Having worked as a writer, agent, abridger and editor, Random House’s Dana Isaacson thinks the most effective writers often use the fewest words. In his workshop, he offers guidance and advice for scribes seeking greater clarity, faster pacing and a more commercial style.

The Loaded Exchange: How To Write Tension Packed Dialogue

Presented by Angie Hodapp

What affects what your characters say to each other… and, more importantly, what they hold back? Let your scene’s context and subtext guide you in writing great dialogue. Analyze the dynamic of power (physical, mental/intellectual, emotional, spiritual) between two (or more) characters in a scene to maximize tension, and learn what to do when you don’t know what a character should say next.

The Long And Short Of The Short Story

Presented by Rod Miller

Short fiction sets the writer free to experiment, innovate, and explore. You can do just about anything you want in a short story, so long as you do it well. Explore different approaches to short fiction—including using characters, scenes, settings, story, chronology, and other tools—and discuss how they work and why. PowerPoint visuals reinforce key topics and show examples

Marvelous Middle Grade

Presented by Bree Ervin

Bree Ervin will examine the best of the booming Middle Grademarket including books for reluctant readers, books for exceptional readers as well as discussing the rich themes that make MG so very marvelous and engaging - not to mention fun to write! This workshop will also discuss the differences between MG and YA, as well as the differences between MG and early readers. Bree will help you find that sweet spot that speaks to the middle grade crowd and gets them clamoring for more! Finally, this workshop will discuss some of the risks and pitfalls of writing for the MG market, including increased “gatekeepers” from parents, to teachers, to librarians and how to turn them from road blocks into assets and advocates!

Memoir That Reads Like A Novel

Presented by Cara Lopez Lee

A memoir may be nonfiction, but it can still have the literary quality of a novel. However, achieving a novel effect does take creative thinking. In a novel, the plot requires conflict, climax, and resolution, and the characters typically grow or change. In real life, sometimes people don’t seem to change, and conflicts go on and on. So how can a memoirist fit real-life experiences into a dramatic story arc? It’s all in what you keep and what you throw away, how you frame the story and how you shape the action within that frame. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use the storytelling form itself to shape reality into literature.

Mixing Humor, Mystery, And Older Characters

Presented by Mike Befeler

What are the elements of a successful mystery novel and what techniques can a writer use to develop a successful story? This session will explore the art of combining humor and dead bodies in a way that keeps the reader reading by pointing out the foibles of the human condition, using quirky characters, employing unexpected twists, showing people acting in unique ways, uncovering flaws in the protagonist and honorable traits in the antagonist. Given the explosion in the older population, there is increasing interest in older characters, who are vital, humorous and can solve a mystery in spite of any deterioration of mind or body.

One Moment In Time: Writing Scenes

Presented by Cara Lopez Lee

Even big stories are made up of small moments. Often these are called scenes. Whether we’re writing fiction or nonfiction, sometimes it’s hard to resist leaping from one event to the next, but when we linger in one moment, we not only dig deeper into character development, we also pick up the pace of our scenes! In this workshop, writers will learn to increase conflict, momentum, and meaning in their scenes by slowing down time. Feel free to bring in a rough scene, summary, idea, or simply an open mind. Our goal will be to draft a scene that dives through layers of conflict to reveal what’s underneath.

Outline Using Plot Points

Presented by F.T. Bradley

So you have a great idea for a novel, or maybe you have a messy rough draft in that writer’s drawer? Find out how to turn your novel manuscript from a wimpy doughboy, with a flabby middle into a novel fit for submission. Author F.T. Bradley will show you how to take a logline/concept and characters, and build them into a strong outline, while still leaving pantsers plenty of room to color outside the lines.

Plotting Doesn’t Mean Plodding

Presented by Laura DiSilverio

For many, the thought of plotting achieves the same sensation as trudging through waste deep mud. But plotting does not have to slow you down. Join Laura DiSilverio as she discusses the basics of plotting including the Three-Act Structure. She will discuss the inciting incident and final battle and resolution. Why conflict is essential, types of conflict, and how to work them in. The importance of causality, and pacing. With this informative workshop and examples from published fiction, Laura will show you how to keep moving forward while you plot away.

Prologues: Problems And Pluses

Presented by Laura DiSilverio

Using Prologues (good and bad) from published novels, Laura DiSilverio will discuss when a prologue is a plus for a novel and when it is a problem. She will offer guidelines for when to use prologues and how to write good ones that don’t detract from the rest of the book.

Pursuing Truth Through Historical Fiction

Presented by Rod Miller

From research through writing, this workshop shows how to blend fact and fancy in creating fiction that uses historical characters and events to tell a compelling story. Based on a yet-unsolved 1842 crime in which an unknown assailant shot Lilburn Boggs, former governor of Missouri, the historical novel The Assassination of Governor Boggs lays the groundwork for this how-to exploration of blending fact and fiction to seek truth, reveal history, and attempt to solve a mystery.

Rejection Is Not A Four Letter Word

Presented by Mike Befeler

One of the things writers must become used to is rejection, whether being turned down by agents or editors. Rather than being only a negative, it can strengthen our writing and lead to improved query letters, synopses and manuscripts. Along the way it may be painful, and this session will describe techniques we can use to deal with the rejection and learn from it. Topics include selling without an agent, when to keep trying the traditional publishing route and when to pursue self-publishing, and how to assess feedback from rejection. Examples will also be given form successful authors on what they’ve experienced with rejected manuscripts and bad reviews.

Seven Essentials For Powerful Fiction

Presented by Brandy Vallance

If you want to write powerful fiction that will not easily be forgotten, your story must include seven essentials. Through fourteen years of study, Brandy has found these secrets of the bestsellers and she’ll unpack them for you. Learn how to create characters you can relate to, use real emotions, portray vivid settings, use unexpected plot, utilize the five senses, put tension on every page, and torture the reader until the end. Take your fiction writing to the next level and create gripping stories that will make your readers fans for life.

Snapping Pictures With Words: The Art Of Description

Presented by Angie Hodapp

Learn to craft descriptive passages so evocative that the images leap right off the page and into the reader’s imagination! We’ll cover the role of description in fiction, the differences between active and passive description, concrete and abstract description, and the importance of choosing what to describe and when. You’ll also learn tips for revising passages of description and wrap up with 15 description devices which increase in difficulty and are organized from “freshman year” through “senior year.”

Top 10 Story-Telling Devices Movies Can Teach Fiction Writers

Presented by Trai Cartwright

It’s no secret that Hollywood has cracked the story structure code, or that they’ve refined some of the most elegant and efficient character-building tools in the storytelling business. What you may not know is that all of these tricks can be (and often are) utilized to conquer fiction writing, too. This workshop presents the Top Ten Movie Storytelling Devices and shows you how to capitalize on them for any and all of your writing! Taught by a Hollywood pro who routinely poaches from great films to better her fiction writing.

Understanding Scene Structure

Presented by Pam McCutcheon

Writing an entire novel can be intimidating. But if you remember that a book is a series of connected scenes, writing one scene at a time is much less daunting. Once you master scene structure, you have mastered one of the basics of storytelling. To help with this, Pam McCutcheon borrows from Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham to explain what scene and sequel are and how to structure them with maximum effect, then use examples from published works as well as interactive class examples to drive the point home.

Unlocking Personification And Metaphor To Deepen Emotion

Presented by Brandy Vallance

Do you hear that your writing isn’t strong enough? Maybe you haven’t accessed your story’s emotional depth. Beyond strong dialogue and powerful body language, sharper tools await the intrepid fiction writer. Learn how to pull out all the stops and make inanimate (and sometimes animate) objects reflect your characters internal conflicts, desires, and fears. Make the reader feel deeply without them knowing why. Also, learn how to bring metaphor into your setting to drive your story deeper. Come prepared to cut through surface techniques and sculpt the heart of raw emotion.

The Ups And Downs Of A Hybrid Author

Presented by Jenni Marts

There are unique challenges of living the life of a hybrid author. The worlds of indie and traditional publishing are vastly different but being a hybrid also has some great advantages. I would like to lead a workshop showing the comparisons and differences of the indie and traditional worlds and how to have both worlds complement each other. From editing differences, to control of your work, to timing of communications and book releases, to earning a living. Both worlds require an immense amount of marketing and self-promo and Jennie Marts will help you make the most of marketing in both worlds.

What Now?

Presented by Kevin Ikenberry

You’ve written the story of your dreams. Now what? This workshop looks at the decision to submit, how to select a publisher/market, and how to get through all the angst of waiting. When you do hear something about your story, and they want to publish it, what do you do then? Come learn how to get past submission jitters, move on to the next story, and how to professionally handle your first sale.

What To Do When It All Goes Wrong. Again.

Presented by J.A. Kazimer

Writing is hard. Getting that writing published, even harder. And even harder still is maintaining a career as a working writer. This workshop will give tips and tricks on how to survive in this industry, and ways to climb out from underneath a seemingly crushed career.

Will The Real Young Adult Book Please Stand Up? What Makes YA Stories YA

Presented by Aaron Michael Ritchey

Young adult is a hot genre and maybe you’ve been told that your book “might be” a young adult story. How do you know? In this interactive workshop we’ll talk about the nature of conflict in young adult novels, the power of the coming-of-age story, and how you can tell when something is young adult, when it’s middle grade, and when it should be marketed to adults.

Working Your Work Into Your Writing

Presented by JL Fields

Many writers want to, well, write… but work gets in the way.

JL Fields will share strategies to begin a professional life of self-employment. Utilizing existing abilities and experiences, plus writing skills, participants will begin to develop a business model that incorporates writing into a professional umbrella.

The result? More time to focus on genre writing!

Write The MG And YA Mystery/Thriller

Presented by F.T. Bradley

Realistic fiction is sought-after in MG and YA, especially mysteries and thrillers. But writing these page turners comes with its challenges. Join author F.T. Bradley to learn about what goes (and doesn’t) in MG and YA. Learn how to create a believable premise, and how to plot a riveting suspense novel that’ll have teens and tweens glued to the pages. 

Writing Combat In Science Fiction

Presented by Kevin Ikenberry

We’ve all seen movies or read stories where what we know about science does not mesh with what’s presented to us. Science fiction readers are willing to suspend their disbelief to a point, and it’s important to know where that point is. This workshop will focus on the finer details of writing combat in science fiction where the planet, the vacuum of space, and the technology can all challenge what we know.

Writing The Amateur Sleuth Mystery

Presented by Bob Spiller

So you want to write a mystery where the sleuth is a dog catcher? Learn the ins and outs of writing murder where the sleuth is something other than a cop or private eye. Why in God’s name is a school teacher involved in business normally left to the professional? And why are cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries the fastest growing segment of the mystery field.

PPWC At a Glance

Register Now!

When: April 24-26, 2015

Where: Colorado Springs Marriott
5580 Tech Center Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80919
(719) 260-1800

Back By Popular Demand! Due to the positive feedback, we are continuing the payment plan option for the 2015 PPWC.

Thursday Programming: Pikes Peak Writers is pleased to bring back our overwhelmingly popular Thursday Prequel on Thursday, April 23, 2015. New this year, Ghost Hunting in the Marriott on Thursday evening!

Faculty (Editors, Agents, Authors, Etc.): For 2015, we are pleased to present keynote authors Mary Kay Andrews (aka Kathy Hogan Trochek), Andrew Gross, Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) and R.L. Stine. We also have a terrific lineup of editors and agents taking part in Query 1-on-1 meetings as well as Read & Critique sessions and workshops. Our faculty this year is bigger and better than ever, with local and national authors sharing their insights on every aspect of writing we can think of! Learn more about our fantastic faculty lineup.

Ride and Room Sharing: If you're in need of a shared ride or room, or if you have something to share, please check out our Ride and Room Sharing page.

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