Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog


By: F.P. Dorchak

How do you “get” it?
Do you need to attain it?
Why keep writing?

I don’t know that it’s something to so much as shoot for…as it’s more something you just…fall into. I’m not quite sixty, and have been writing for some fifty-one years. I’ve written ten full manuscripts (at about two-to-three years per manuscript), but have only released five novels and one anthology. I’ve lost track of how many short stories I’ve written. The better of them are in my anthology, Do the Dead Dream? An Anthology of the Weird and the Peculiar, which won the 2017 Best Book Award for Fiction: Short Stories. The anthology came out October 1, 2017, but only sixteen of those have been individually published. And though I’ve been writing fifty-one years, you’ve never heard of me. Or my work. Or my newest abovementioned effort.

Yet still I write.

I think we can get too caught up in the accolades and tropes of society. Like “longevity.” What should be the ameliorated focus is appreciating the voyage…not being praised for, nor identified as having attained, some loftily defined or heralded conclusion. Though it is nice.

Let’s talk more about the voyage.
Enjoy each moment.
Enjoy the beauty of writing and the imagination.
Enjoy creating mental images from your generated words. From stringing together characters into words into phrases into sentences into paragraphs, pages, and books.

How you’ve created a notional construct…translated it through your physical form…your arms, your hands, your fingers…through use of a material instrument—a pencil, pen, a keyboard—into physical reality for others to read. Interpret. Create their own notional constructs. How you are also influencing the emotions and thoughts and perceptions of other people.

Fear. Anger. Love. Enthusiasm. Astonishment!
Marvel at the volume and diversity of what you’re conceiving!
All of the different stories that are being created from some weird place that you simply cannot touch. Yet directs your focus. Your beliefs. Your…living.
That is both there and not there.
The origin and generation of which scientists and philosophers cannot even begin to agree upon.
And from that medium…you’ve created tales.
They just keep coming and you keep writing.
You start submitting to publications. Some get in…most do not. You’re disappointed.

But you keep writing.

You feel like a sweating, barely containable firehose in full-on operation! You can’t get your stories out fast enough! As Time marches on you find that you’re getting better…more efficient at linking words into organized arrangements…and doing it quicker. In fact…you’re using fewer words to get the job done. You’re discovering less vulgar…more refined…ways at hammering home your concepts…and they’re hitting harder than ever. Where it used to take you a paragraph…you’re now employing sentences…sometimes only two or three…and at times…as many words.

You find—much to your utter amusement—that as you submit your romances, your mysteries, your horrors, you have created…a body of work.

You’ve become more confident about your words and your ability to wield them. You’re less bothered by rejection, or what others think…and move on to the next one…the next publication. You write just to write. It’s what you do. Who you are. You know that rejections are not about you—they’re about them. That your work isn’t right for them…philosophically or practically. You know you’ll eventually find your audience…large or small. It is your audience.

Besides…you’ve got work to do.

You keep writing.
That dulls…erases…the disease of rejection.
You feel good again!
Just keep issuing forth.
You translate them!

String words together in ways that astound you, and you wonder how that happens. From where do your ideas and methods originate?
Some will get what you’ve done…some will not. It doesn’t matter. You have stories for everyone.

And you keep writing.

Then…somewhere down the line…before you know it…you’re looking down upon your body.
Freed…like never before.
Your corporeal existence laid out before you like a crystal-clear and multi-dimensional Venn diagram.
A life well-lived!
Or not.
But it was your life.
And you have even more ideas.
So you…reach out…in ways…unimaginable…until now—
And, yes, you’re just itchin’ to tell these tales….

@ F.P. Dorchak

F.P. DorchakF. P. (Frank) Dorchak writes gritty, realistic speculative fiction. Frank is published in the U.S., Canada, and the Czech Republic with short stories, non-fiction articles, and his five novels, Sleepwalkers, The Uninvited, ERO, Psychic, and Voice. His first anthology, Do The Dead Dream? won the 2017 Best Book Award for Fiction: Short Stories.

Check out F.P.’s website or click here to read a few of his short stories.

Going But Not Gone

Greetings Readers…

Time for a changing of the guard. 

It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as Managing Editor for Pikes Peak Writers Blog. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a talented group of professionals, and I’ve enjoyed my run.

Today the capable Kathie Scrimgeour takes on the position of Managing Editor. You’ll recognize her name as she’s been contributing editor for PPW’s Sweet Success and Meet the Member. You may reach Kathie at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.  

Although I’m stepping aside in this role, I’m not leaving. You’ll see me around as contributing editor for Birthdays & Quotes and perhaps the occasional post.

Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers BlogSee what I’m writing about at my  Facebook Page and website. 

Keep in touch!  I can reached at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com

Terry Odell’s Newest Edition, Falcon’s Prey

Falcon’s Prey, is Terry Odell’s newest book in the Buckthorne, Inc series. Congratulations!!

Her Life is in danger … but so is her heart.
Police officer Lexi Becker is being targeted. Afraid her local police department has been infiltrated, she turns to the only man she can trust for help: Marv “Fish” Frisch, her former patrol partner. Danger is everywhere. Someone’s bugged her house. An illegal opioid network is thriving. People are dying. And an even more sinister plan is being put into action. Torn between hiding or coming to the aid of an orphaned child, Lexi leaves Fish’s protection. Will she survive long enough to tell Fish how she feels?


From childhood, Terry Odell wanted to “fix” stories so the characters would behave properly. She found this wasn’t always possible, as evidenced when the mystery she intended to write turned into a romance, despite the fact that she’d never read one. Odell thinks of her books as “Mysteries With Relationships.” Her series include Blackthorne, Inc., Pine Hills Police, Triple-D Ranch, and Mapleton Mysteries. Her short story collection, “Seeing Red” is a Silver Falchion winner. You can find her high (that’s altitude—she lives at 9100 feet!) in the Colorado Rockies—or at her website. Also visit her Amazon author page for more books.


Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success.


Chris Mandevelle Releases Quake

Another Sweet Success for Chris Mandeville! The first novel in her, In Real Time series, Quake was released May 29, 2018.

QuakeTime traveling thieves. A stolen kiss. A wormhole to the heist of the century.
Fifteen-year-old Allie Bennett’s a con artist, a pickpocket, and on her last chance at an end-of-the-line foster home. She learns her mom—who disappeared when she was ten—isn’t a crazy but is actually a time traveler, and Allie’s one, too. She joins a crew of time traveling thieves and goes back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to pull the heist of the century and find her mom. But time travelers are hunted, her crew might be killers, everyone has a secret agenda, and she must pull off the con of her life to make it out alive.


Chris MandevilleCHRIS MANDEVILLE writes science fiction/fantasy and nonfiction for writers. She served as president of Pikes Peak Writers for five years, and is now the Conference Director for Superstars Writing Seminars. Her books include Seeds: a post-apocalyptic adventure and 52 Ways to Get Unstuck: Exercises to Break Through Writer’s Block.

Find her young adult time travel novel, Quake, on Amazon and her website.

Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success with the world.

PPW Prez Says, 2nd Quarter 2018

Readers, today we hear from Bowen Gillings, president of Pikes Peak Writers. Look for the Prez Says Column each quarter as Bowen keeps Pikes Peak Writers informed.

Prez Says

Report on the June 2018 PPW Board Meeting

Hello! Your Pikes Peak Writers Board of Directors met on June 7th to cover a full agenda and here is what’s fit to print for you, dear reader.

I will lead with one of the last items we discussed: volunteering with PPW and PPWC (conference). If you do not know, Pikes Peak Writers is run entirely by volunteers. That means everything we do, every event you attend, or post you see online is made possible by dedicated individuals generously giving of their time and talent.

We need more volunteers.

Many members have volunteered for a long time—some for a very, very long time—and they are getting tired, which is understandable, inevitable, and expected. We would love to get some new blood in the mix. PPW needs volunteers to help out with functions ranging from social media and marketing to membership management, volunteer coordination, and helping run the organization as members of the Board of Directors. All of our volunteer needs can be found on the website at https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/about/key-volunteers/ and at https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/about/support-ppw/volunteer-opportunities/.

Speaking of the Board, elections are in September. Open positions will be President, Secretary, NCE Director, and Member at Large. Serving on the Board does take some time and dedication. Reach out to any one of us for a sense of what it takes. But, believe me, it is worth it when you see how PPW positively affects the writing community.

Members at Large (MAL) are voting members of the Board who hold no additional Board duties. MALs help out as eyes, ears, and voices contributing to Board decisions. Often MAL is a good start if you’re curious about helping lead this great organization. Up to eight MAL positions may be accepted on the Board this year.

Stacy Jensen has done an outstanding job as our Board Secretary, but is not seeking reelection. Linda Tschappet has gone above and beyond as our Non-Conference Events Director and now is working with Laura Hayden on running the 2019 Conference. So, she’ll be busy. Both ladies have won our Volunteer of the Year Award for their services.

I have enjoyed my 18 months as your president. However, it is time for someone else to take over the reins. I will stay on the Board in the voting position of Immediate Past President until 2020. Also, I am running programming for the 2019 Conference. So, like Linda T., I will be busy.

Nominations for Board positions must be in by the end of August, 2018. While you do have to be a PPW member to run, no prior experience with the Board is necessary for any open position. If you are interested in running, submit a one-page letter detailing your position of interest, your qualifications, and a short bio to president@pikespeakwriters.com or secretary@pikespeakwriters.com. Write “Board Nomination 2018” in the subject line. 

The Board also reviewed the 26th Annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference. What a rousing success it was. Anyone who attended knows that PPWC 2018 set a new standard in fun, networking, learning, and general literary awesomeness. 

What many of you don’t know is all the hard work that went into making it such a great event. Kudos to conference director Karen Fox and her amazing staff of volunteers who gave it their all to make sure every attendee had a great weekend. Our thanks as well to keynotes Jonathan Maberry, Mary Robinette Kowal, Laurelle K. Hamilton, and Bob Mayer, and to all the faculty, agents, and editors. I have added being a co-emcee with Mary Robinette Kowal to my bucket list. Those who came to conference know why.

We also discussed how to honor PPW members in memorium. This past year saw the loss of two visibly involved members, Ron Cree and Steve Nelson. Finding ways to honor them without setting further precedent that may hamstring the organization in future was the focus. To that end, the Board decided to return the scholarship fund back to it’s general name of Pikes Peak Writers Conference Scholarship Fund and create two scholarships under it dedicated to Ron and Steve and available to writers who meet certain criteria. More details on these will come shortly. Once finalized, they can be found on the website’s scholarships page.

Many other topics were discussed and, to save space, I will address them in the form of a no-nonsense bullet list:

  • The Board appointed a representative to work with the Webmaster to help streamline our transition to new Internet platforms and tools.
  • A second phase to our Writing is Art partnership with Cottonwood Center for the Arts is under way. March 2018’s showing exceeded expectations. Keep checking the website for new submission guidelines.
  • The Board is looking for someone to take the lead in creating a PPW Anthology. Anyone interested in details can contact president@pikespeakwriters.com.
  • We are dissolving the PPW Yahoo! Group. This legacy item served us well for 16 years, but has become a dinosaur seeing little use save for people promoting their own material. It will be gone by the end of August. Those affected are invited to checkout our Pikes Peak Writers Connect group forum on Facebook.

Thank you for engaging with Pikes Peak Writers. If you have questions about PPW and how it works, please reach out to me. The address is president@pikespeakwriters.com.

Thank you.

Bowen Gillings


Pikes Peak Writers

Sweet Success Comes in Triplicate!

Congratulations to Todd Fahnestock on the recent publication of Wildmane, Book 1 of the Threadweavers series which came out on May 15, 2018. The triple success is the entire trilogy will follow soon. The GodSpill will release on Tuesday, June 19 (today!), and Book 3, Threads of Amarion, will be released on Tuesday, July 17. Todd is on a roll with one book a month.

A brooding demigod. A young magician. A race to restore magic to the lands.

Long bereft of magic, the human lands are dying, and humans are devolving. Their legendary protector, the demigod Wildmane, has given up on them.

When a monster sent for young Mirolah slays her adopted sister instead, Mirolah is pulled into a quest to bring Wildmane out of his self-imposed exile and restore magic to the lands. Undead threadweavers rise to stop her and cage Wildmane. To beat them, she must learn more about herself and threadweaving than she thought possible. And she must do it quickly…


TODD FAHNESTOCK is a writer of fantasy for all ages. His bestselling The Wishing World series began as bedtime stories for his children. His latest epic fantasy series, Threadweavers, which includes Wildmane, The GodSpill and Threads of Amarion. Stories are his passion, but Todd’s greatest accomplishment is his quirky, fun-loving family. When he’s not writing, he goes on morning runs with his daughter and practices Tae Kwon Do with his son. With the rest of his free time, he drives the love of his life crazy with the emotional rollercoaster that is being a full-time author.

These epic fantasies are available on Amazon and at the Tattered Cover. Published by Parker Haden Media, they are suitable for ages 13+ (ISBN: 978-1-941528-62-4, 506 pages, softcover).
You can contact Todd at: todd.fahnestock@gmail.com or visit his website

Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success with the world.

Sweet Success for Avery Daniels

Congratulations to Avery Daniels. Her Resort to Murder mystery series continues with the second book, Nailed, an adult cozy mystery.

Julienne LaMere is snow bound in the middle of the Rocky Mountains with a killer striking at will. Julienne gets to attend a Resort Management conference at a prestigious ski resort in the Colorado Mountains. What should be an enjoyable getaway attending workshops by day and shopping and enjoying the resort by night comes to a screeching halt when a loud-mouthed guest is murdered plus the roads and town shut down for an epic blizzard. “Essence of a page turner.” King’s River Life Magazine.


AVERY DANIELS was born and raised in Colorado, graduated from college with a degree in business administration and has worked in fortune 500 companies and Department of Defense her entire life. Her most eventful job was apartment management for 352 units. She still resides in Colorado with two brother black cats as her spirited companions. Avery volunteers for a cat shelter, enjoys scrapbooking and card making, photography, and painting in watercolor and acrylic. Her love for reading was inherited from her mother and grandmother and grew up talking about books at the dinner table.

You can reach Avery by email: mysterysuspense1@gmail.com or visit her website.
Buy print and ebook: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound.
Ebook: Kobo, iBook, and more.
Audio book will be out soon.

Sweet Success by: KJ Scrim, Contributing Editor.
Share your Sweet Success! Fill out this form to share your success with the world.


Time is Running Out – Register Now for this Special Event – The Art of Going Deep with Christine Goff

The Art of Going Deep –  Christine Goff


Saturday June 23, 2018 – 1:00-5:00pm — Doors open at 12:30

Cost: $25 – Register using PayPal.com send your payment to PayPal@PikesPeakWriters.com.
Then email your name, phone number, and a copy of your transaction confirmation email to RSVP@PikesPeakWriters.com.

Where: Venue@21c (upper floor, to the right if coming in the upper entrance) of Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80920

More Information: Concept. Structure. Plot. Character. Pacing. Dialogue. Setting. It takes ALL that and more to make a good book. And it takes digging deep to make it stellar. Going Deep is how you make your story breathe. Going Deep is what helps you create characters that jump off the page to live in the heart of the reader. As authors, it’s our job to put our characters through the wringer, but it isn’t enough to make the reader feel frightened for the character. We need to make the reader feel frightened as though they are the character.

We’ve all read books that make us feel like we’re living the moment. We laugh. We cry. Our hearts pound. We’re scared to death. One in a million writers is so gifted that their words hit the page with perfection. For the rest of us it’s accomplished by digging deep. Restructuring. Revising. Polishing. Rewriting, if need be.

In this workshop, Chris Goff will explore some of the ways writers can dig in and mine for that je ne sais quoi that grabs a reader and propels a book onto the bestseller lists. She’ll share some tools, methods and insight, so we can master the Art of GOING DEEP.

Please bring five to ten PRINTED pages of your work-in-progress or finished manuscript (even better) and be prepared to make some changes.

About the Presenter: Chris Goff is an award-winning author of six novels based on environmental themes and a new international thriller series. Her bestselling Birdwatcher’s Mystery series has been nominated for two Willa Awards, and a Colorado Authors’ League Award. Her debut thriller, DARK WATERS, was nominated for the 2016 Colorado Book Award, Colorado Authors’ League Award and the Anthony Award for Best Crime Fiction Audiobook. Her latest book, RED SKY, came out in June 2017.

Chris Goff began her career writing non-fiction, penning columns for several local newspapers in Summit County, Colorado, as well as articles for regional and national publication. Later she edited rock and ice-climbing guides for Chockstone Press and worked in graphic production for a division of The Morehouse Publishing Group. She has taught writing workshops at the Colorado Free University, the University of Colorado, and across the US and in England. A long-standing member of multiple writing organizations, she has served on several local, regional and national boards. She currently serves as a member of the Sisters in Crime Education Committee, and sits on the Executive Committee of International Association of Crime Writers.
WEBSITE: www.christinegoff.com













Blast from the Past – Five Stages of Critique Group Grief

Readers, today we have a blast from the past. Cindi Madsen is a successful romance writer, you can tell her novels because they’re “Funny. Flirty. & a Little Bit Nerdy”.  Way back in 2011, Cindi shared her thoughts about Critique Group Grief, and this post stands the test of time.  See more about what Cindi is up to these days at her website.  –Gabrielle Brown, editor

I was at a writers’ workshop and a girl sitting next to me started talking about critique groups. She was in a group she wasn’t sure about, and none of the other writers were even close to her genre. In my group, we all write different genres as well. My group rocks. I think the fact we all write different genres makes us look outside the box a little more, and every writer’s goal, no matter what genre, is to write well and keep our readers hooked. Getting my work critiqued isn’t the easiest thing I’ve done—especially in the beginning when we were just getting to know each other. But I felt like I’d done all I could do on my own, and I really wanted my book to be the best it could be. That meant feedback. It wasn’t always easy, but I learned so much, so fast. My writing jumped to a new level. I started seeing the difference it made in my book.

Now we’re comfortable with each other and trust each other. Critique group is an encouraging environment where we cheer each other on, help brainstorm, and have become friends. That doesn’t mean I take every suggestion. But I always consider them. My chapters are always better afterward. Sometimes it can get a little crazy—we get passionate about each others’ characters. We feel like we know them. One night after an especially lively session, I was driving home, trying to wade through all the comments and figure out what I needed to do to make the chapters stronger. I thought about how I went through stages after critique group. So, I compared them to the five stages of grief.

Five Stages of Critique Group Grief

Denial – My stuff is awesome the way it is. They just don’t get it.

Anger – I can’t believe they’re finding problems after all the hard work, heart, and soul I put into writing this!

Bargaining – But see how if you know this, it makes it all work out. Kind of.

Depression – I give up. Everything sucks, and I worked too hard on it already. I don’t think I can look at it again. It’s never going to be finished.

Acceptance – Okay, it needs some work, and after some time brainstorming, I think—no, I can—do better. This is what critique groups are for; to get input and make my book the best it can be. It’s going to take some work, but I will fix this!

Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to by a new pair. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children, and is a member of PPW and PPRW. You can check out her blog at cindimadsen.blogspot.com.