2016 PPWC Workshops

At Pikes Peak Writers Conference, our goal is to provide you with programming 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.

This list of workshops will continue to grow as we confirm more faculty and decide on more workshops.  We will post new information as soon as it becomes available, so keep checking back for the latest news.

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

2016 PPWC Workshops:


A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: Writing from Multiple Points of View

Presented by Aimie K. Runyan

This workshop will explore the numerous reasons for writing from multiple points of view as well as the dangers and pitfalls of this complicated structure. We will look at various techniques that have been used successfully (and not) in published work and will go over tips for using multiple POVs in your own work. Samples will be taken from local authors as well as international bestsellers. Come prepared to practice a short writing prompt!


A DASH OF THE PAST: How to Incorporate Research Artfully in Historical Works

Presented by Aimie K. Runyan

Historical books, be they literary fiction, romance, mystery, or any other genre, require a good amount of research before you put pen to paper, or quill to parchment if you prefer. This session will go over important aspects of how and what to research, solid tools to use to find the details you need, and handy tips for keeping all your information organized. Most importantly, we will discuss the best ways to implement your research in your work that draws the reader in to your world, but that does not bog them down with minutiae that slows the pace of your book. As a bonus, we will even discuss what to do with all those fun tidbits you learn about, but that you can’t incorporate in your novel.


ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE: Creating Vivid Settings

Presented by Carol Berg

To bring a story to life, every scene must communicate a vivid sense of time and place. But the days of long pages of description are past. Explore the techniques of scene-setting through details of description, character, and action that will keep your story real and immediate.


BAD MOON RISING: Set the Tone Through Mood and Atmosphere

Presented by Warren Hammond

Your character needs a voice, and so does your setting. Whether it’s dark-and-stormy or bright-and-sunny, it’s time to bring your setting to life just like your characters. Learn to take your writing to a new level by infusing your story with mood, tone and atmosphere.


BARGAIN BOOK SITES: How to Make FREE Work for You

Presented by Julie Kazimer

Giving away your work might make you queasy, but it can also make you rich and famous. In this workshop, we will discuss bargain book sites like Pixel of Ink, BookBub, and many others and how they have skyrocketed some author’s careers. We will also explore book giveaways and how FREE can affect sales. We will look at cost and best practices that support your use of these sites.



Presented by M.L. Rowland

In order to create memorable, well-rounded fictional characters that come alive on the page, writers need to know their characters inside and out–not only their physical characteristics, but their histories and backgrounds regardless of whether those details ever show up on the page. They need to know their characters’ likes and dislikes, their personalities, how they talk, their inflections, their affectations, how they react in certain situations.

This is a fun, interactive, “hands-on” work session designed to help writers “think outside the box” when creating and developing characters.

This presentation is appropriate for beginners and for more experienced writers who are looking for new tools for their writing toolboxes.



Presented by Carol Berg

Whether writing fiction, non-fiction, long or short, a professional writer has responsibilities to publisher, agent, reader, and self. Many are related to communication, design, and scheduling. But professional responsibility must also include the craft of writing itself. This workshop will explore those sometimes uncomfortable lanes where the business of writing and the craft of writing intersect.



Presented by Evangeline Denmark

Issues of clothing and a character’s appearance can add layers of tension to a story. We’ll discuss basics like building story world through clothing to more complex issues such as societal influence on appearance. Using examples from Hunger Games and Curio, we’ll talk about what clothing requirements say about who has power and who doesn’t. Finally, we’ll take a close look at our characters’ journeys as reflected by their appearance from beginning to end of the novel.


EXPAND AND CONTRACT: The Dance of the Well-Paced Story

Presented by Angie Hodapp and Warren Hammond 

A well-paced story takes the reader on a journey over peaks and valleys of tension and emotional complexity. Learn strategies for maximizing dramatic effect through narrative expansion (which heightens tension and creates powerful emotional moments) and contraction (which allows the writer to skip low-tension moments, set hooks, or deliver quick dramatic punches). Expansion and contraction are complementary tools that can help the writer draft the best possible version of his or her story.



Presented by Johnny Worthen

A discussion on the importance and use of foreshadowing as a literary device. Breadcrumbs and clues as a way to involve the reader in the discovery of our stories. From the “A-ha,” of a mystery, to the disappointment of the deus ex machina, the hints lie in foreshadowing.


GOODBYE, SLUSH PILE! The Elements of a Breakout Query Letter

Presented by Anita Mumm

What makes some query letters sail through the slush pile, garnering requests from agents left and right, while the majority receive a polite “no thanks”? This workshop examines the key elements that set exceptional queries apart from the pack: voice, professionalism, and the all-important hook. The presenter will draw on her experience with thousands of query letters during her work in submissions at a literary agency to show what works—and what REALLY doesn’t—in the quest to impress an agent. Have you received a rejection letter in the past? Find out some possible reasons why. Participants are invited to bring their query letter if they have one (not required) for discussion and trouble-shooting during the workshop.


HEARTS & DAGGERS: Where’s the Love?

Presented by Angel Smits and Jason P. Henry

Having come a long way since the bodice rippers of the past, modern romance novels have great depth and solid story telling. This workshop will explore the various aspects of romance and how the crucial elements apply to ALL genres and ALL writers. Angel Smits and Jason P. Henry approach the discussion from two perspectives. Male and female. Successful author and emerging. Devoted romance writer, and a thriller writer slowly making his way to the dark side. They will use examples from published works as they dare to blur genre lines. After all, everyone needs love.


HELP! I’m Addicted to YA

Presented by Evangeline Denmark

In this workshop we’ll indulge our YA book habit . . . ahem, we’ll learn tricks from some of the most popular Young Adult novels and authors. The Young Adult fiction category has exploded in recent years, with almost equal popularity amongst teen and adult readers. Is there a formula? Common themes? A man behind a curtain who accepts bribes? Let’s take a look at what really works in those addictive YA novels and discover how we can apply the same tools to our own manuscripts.


HERMIONE TOOK THE TIME TURNER: Real Tips for Maximizing Writing Time

Presented by Aimie K. Runyan

We don’t live at Hogwarts and, sadly, we don’t have access to unlimited time to pursue our craft. Nearly all of us have day jobs, families, social commitments, and myriad other obligations that keep us from the laptop. When we have an hour, we must make the most of it, especially when deadlines loom. This session will go over some practical tips for making sure the writer maximizes precious writing time with concrete tips involving Microsoft Office tools and other inexpensive or free software as well as some tricks to making your writing space and habits as efficient as they can be. Having a laptop, tablet, or even a mobile phone with Microsoft OneNote installed will be very useful, but not mandatory for this session.



Presented by DeAnna Knippling

What makes a monster, a monster? Digging deeper into the psychological basis for why different monsters scare us, and how to build a solid foundation for your monsters in fiction.



Presented by Lisa Hawker

Video gets the most clicks online, and if you’re promoting a book, you want to get as many clicks as possible. Book trailers can be an attention-getting promotional tool if you do them right. My book trailer got almost 30,000 views in a month.

This workshop will give you resources for royalty-free stock footage, music, and graphics to make an arresting video piece that will drive traffic to your website and, more importantly, your order page. You’ll learn how to get low-cost help from college and art school film programs. We’ll discuss the dos and don’ts, view effective trailers and tacky trailers, and brainstorm ideas for your very own video baby.



Presented by Andra Watkins

Andra is a dynamic public speaker. She is gaining a reputation with librarians and book professionals around the country as a solid, engaging program, and increasingly she is compensated for her time. Andra will work with participants to help them dissect their stories and find a universal theme that will appeal to groups. Whether for online videos, reading group interaction, podcasts, library programs or bookstore events, authors need to be able to go beyond traditional readings to connect with new fans. Andra will show attendees how to structure a presentation that can be offered again and again. And Andra’s presentations sell books. Andra will provide tips and tricks to attendees for selling more books at every appearance or event.


INTROVERTS CAN NETWORK TOO! How To Succeed At Social Media Even When You’re Shy

Presented by Michelle Major

While many authors are introverts, none of us can afford to ignore social media and marketing. This workshop will give tips and techniques for successfully engaging with readers using many popular platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads and blogs. Use your introversion to your advantage to create lasting connections and make the most of your time online.


KEEPING ALL THE BALLS IN THE AIR: Multiple Streams of Productivity and Revenue

Presented by Jodi Anderson

With a balance of lecture, interactive exercises and feedback, join this workshop to explore opportunities available in today’s ever evolving writing market. Also, come to find new tools to raise your productivity and focus.


KINDLE WORLDS: Letting Fan Love Shine

Presented by Kevin Ikenberry

A few years ago, writing fan fiction meant a writer was less than a professional. Playing in someone else’s world, with someone else’s characters, was considered low-brow and unworthy. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds changed all that. With more than twenty worlds ranging from the fiction of Kurt Vonnegut to Hugh Howey’s bestselling Silo Saga, fan fiction has a new home where writers can write, and earn royalties, for playing in someone else’s backyard. Come learn how to get involved with this unique opportunity!


LET’S COMMIT MURDER: Answers to Your Most Deadly Plot Points

Presented by Julie Kazimer

In this workshop, attendees will bring their murderous musings and together we will craft a murder scenario based on the criminal mindset and rules of evidence.


MEMOIR: How to Write True Stories That Make You (or Your Characters) Squirm

Presented by Andra Watkins

How much truth goes into crafting a memoir? Should the author combine events, gloss over facts, portray characters in a more (or less) flattering light or make things up in an effort to move the story forward? Using her memoir Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Andra will help aspiring memoir writers decide how to approach complex questions, difficult relationships and sticky story points. Every participant will gain concrete tools to finish a memoir that reads like a novel, something readers today prefer. Participants should come prepared with one (1) 100-word section to be critiqued.



Presented by Jerry Ackerman

A look at the differences between the sub-genres of mystery and what that means for the writer and how they approach the work. Cozies, Private Investigator, Police Procedural, Hardboiled, Noir, and Thriller will be discussed.


PITCH WARS! The Battle for the Future Bestseller Begins Here

Presented by Aaron Ritchey

Are you passionate about your favorite book? Will you go head to head with someone as passionate as you? Do you have the story skills to craft the plot of the next mega-hit? In this battle of the minds, we’ll first start by discussing which books are the best! The Hunger Games versus Divergent. Twilight versus Harry Potter. The Cat in the Hat versus Winter Girls. Okay, maybe not that last one.  Then we’ll divide up in groups and each will come up with an original pitch, fighting for the top spot as the world’s future bestselling phenomena!


PRINCIPLES OF INFORMATION DESIGN: Your Guide to Better Marketing Materials

Presented by Angie Hodapp

Maximize the visual appeal of your author newsletter, website, business card, and other marketing materials. From centering body text and using fancy, unreadable fonts to including too many colors and neglecting white space, you’ll learn to identify and avoid ten poor design choices nearly all non-pro designers make. Plenty of writers design their own marketing materials, but in just one hour, I can help you make yours looks like you spent a fortune on graphic-design services!


READER RESEARCH: Getting to Know Your Reader

Presented by Julie Kazimer

Write for your reader. Sounds like great advice, but just how do you find out who your readers are and what they like? In this workshop, we will explore how to research each genre of readers as well as how to find out about your own fans. First we will look at the standard ‘known’ about genre readers including gender and age. Then we will break those down in terms of statistic and where those readers tend to buy books and learn about books. When the workshop is finished, every attendee should have an understanding of their readers and how to research to find out even more.


SPECULATIVE FICTION: Subgenres and Tropes

Presented by Warren Hammond

From space opera, sword-and-sorcery, and urban fantasy to steampunk, Sci-fi, and gothic horror, the subgenres of what we call “speculative fiction” are numerous and varied. Come learn what distinguishes one spec-fic subgenre from another and which tropes and reader/fan expectations are unique to each. We’ll also discuss how to use tropes to your advantage without lapsing into cliché or derivative fiction, and how to avoid overused tropes that have run their course.


SYMBOLISM THEORY: Connection and Reference

Presented by Johnny Worthen

A wide reaching discussion about the foundations of language itself and the use of symbolism to achieve deeper meaning through shared reference in writing. Guaranteed to confuse and enlighten students of all levels with deconstructionist emphasis on subconscious symbolic relationships and associative writing. We’ll study how symbols are used and suggest ways to identify and harness both acquired and created symbology to strengthen our own work.


THE DANCE OF THE DIVINE: Where Story Arc and Character Arc Meet

Presented by Aaron Michael Ritchey

In the very best stories, characters who grow and change move us even as the plot catapults us into overwhelming drama. We turn the page to see what happens, and after the dragon is slain, the characters continue to haunt us. In this workshop, you will learn how to use plot to build characters, and how to use characters to build plot. For truly, when authors do this well, it is the dance of the divine.

After going over examples of various story structure models, we’ll delve into how story structure can also support character arcs. At the same time, the events of the story should stem from the characters: what they most need to learn, what they most fear, what they most desire. In this way, we craft the story to bring out the best (or worst) in our characters which will also move the story along.


THE DATING GAME: Negotiating, Accepting, and Understanding Contracts

Presented by Kevin Ikenberry

Love is in the air! The receipt of a contract on your work is pretty much love at first sight. First comes courtship, then marriage, parenthood, and potentially divorce. The bottom line is that literary contracts are very much like a relationship and understanding that while there are literally countless other fish in the sea (publishers, agents, editors), wanting a fulfilling relationship can be an emotional decision rather than one that makes sense. This presentation will show you how to read, understand, and accept or reject contracts and leave emotion at the door.


THE HARD, THE DARK, AND THE GRITTY: Writing Tough Topics for Teens

Presented by Aaron Ritchey

Surviving the teen years is one of the hardest things anyone will face and teens need help to get through them. Books that speak to where they are and deal with the struggles they face can help. Some say that YA Lit is getting too dark, but really, YA authors are trying to shine more light on the issues facing teens and help them see their way through. Come to this engaging panel and learn how to write about the tough topics facing today’s teens.


THE HEART OF THE MATTER: What Makes the Romance Genre Succeed?

Presented by Angel Smits

How is it that the much maligned romance genre produces $1.08 billion in sales annually? How is it that over 240 authors have been listed on the major bestseller lists (NYT, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly) with romance novels? What is the appeal of romance and why should you consider it as an option? Angel Smits, author of eight romance novels, discusses what makes the genre not only viable, but an enjoyable world to work in.



Presented by Evangeline Denmark

This workshop looks specifically at the genres of urban fantasy, dystopian, paranormal/paranormal romance and steampunk. We’ll discuss keys for world-building in each category and get down to the heart of the story. What drives the plot? What makes the reader hungry for more? We’ll look at core elements of each category and how to keep them in focus as we write.



Presented by Michelle Major

Most writers are familiar with The Hero’s Journey, but what’s happening on the inside of the hero matters more than you might think. Michelle will explain how the two arcs are different and why writers need both. Attendees will walk away with a handout to help them create a complex character that readers will care about and keep them turning pages.


THE KID EFFECT: Strategic Use of Secondary Characters

Presented by Angel Smits

Kids say the darndest things, and the smart author realizes this is a useful tool for developing a story. Angel Smits, a multi-published author who specializes in heartfelt family stories, walks you through how to create and use secondary characters that deepen the story without slowing it down, or letting them take over.  This will be an interactive workshop, bring your best secondary characters and get ready to put them through the wringer.


THE THRIVING WRITER’S TOOLKIT: Insights and Inspiration to Keep You Productive and Creative

Presented by Michelle Major

There are many aspects to thriving as a writer, from productivity to creativity to dealing with rejections and life’s little (and big) distractions. Michelle will provide craft-related tips and tricks, as well as proven methods for creating energy and clearing your internal blocks. You’ll come away with tools to keep you moving forward in your best life and help you become and stay a thriving writer.



Presented by Lisa Hawker

Learning to take constructive criticism can mean the difference between a book contract and spending the rest of your days alone muttering to yourself that the publishing world is just too obtuse to recognize your brilliance. This workshop will give you the tools—and the rhino hide—to use criticism to improve your writing and your chances of getting published.

Points covered include how to:

  1. Distinguish between helpful, harmful, and useless criticism
  2. Join or form and sustain an effective critique group that’s right for you
  3. Give helpful criticism
  4. Fix or disengage from a toxic critique group environment
  5. Receive any kind of criticism gracefully from other writers, editors and agents, and readers
  6. Incorporate helpful criticism into your writing
  7. Leave your ego and your evil clown at the door



Presented by Jodi Anderson

Purple prose and fainting damsels waiting to be rescued? This ain’t your mama’s romance. In today’s evolving romance market, readers are looking for an edge in their stories. Lets give it to them. We’re going to not only explore the edge, we are going to jump right off of it. From paranormal to sweet to zombie love, this is the place to blend it and push the envelope. Not sure how to pitch that ‘out of the box’ book, we’ll work together to help you have a response when that editor/agent asks you where your novel belongs.


THIS JUST IN: Authenticity in Your Novel’s News Reports

Presented by Judith Robbins Rose

News articles or reports in your novel can be useful tools for creating a sense of reality, urgency, and providing expository information. However, an inauthentic news voice can destroy the world you’re attempting to create. Learn to generate news reports that have that ring of truth, both for broadcast and print. Judith Robbins Rose is an award-winning journalist, who has experience producing, writing and editing across all media.


WRITING ON THE EDGE: The Promise and Challenge of Diversity in YA Literature

Presented by Judith Robbins Rose

Discover techniques for creating edgy books for adolescents, including an extended look at the need for diversity in children’s and YA literature. Explore the potential pitfalls of writing outside of your own experience, and learn why you should do it anyway.






PPWC At a Glance

When: April 15-17, 2016

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

NOTE: Our third-party registration system will be down for scheduled maintenance from November 20th at 9PM until November 21st at 4AM.

Registration, which includes seven meals, is $395 through March 15, 2016. On March 16, the price goes up to $465.

Back By Popular Demand! Due to the positive feedback, we are continuing the payment plan option for the 2016 PPWC.

Thursday Programming: Pikes Peak Writers is pleased to bring back our overwhelmingly popular Thursday Prequel on Thursday, April 14, 2016.

Faculty (Editors, Agents, Authors, Etc.): Stay tuned for more information about our faculty as it develops.

Payment/Registration Methods: All registrations for Pikes Peak Writers Conference must be done through our partner, RegOnline. You can use any form of payment RegOnline’s secured web site will accept. Registration via postal mail, email, fax, or non-RegOnline methods will not be accepted. Payment methods that are not accepted via RegOnline may not be used.

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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