PPW News

December’s Events

Pikes Peak Writers is committed to helping writers grow and thrive through education, outreach, and community. To that end, we host these events each month. Click on each link for more information.

Some of our events are for members only, some are open to the public.  Membership is free and its easy to join, just click here.

Please be aware that all events held at the Pikes Peak Library District locations are subject to the PPLD policies. Attendees and PPW staff/faculty are expected to adhere to these policies at all times.

 

 

Open Critique

This FREE program provides a critique experience for a small number of PPW members who seek feedback on manuscript pages and who want to learn how to have positive critique group experiences.

Write Brains

Write Brain Sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. Watch for them in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. Pikes Peak Writers began offering monthly Write Brain workshops in 2004.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

Come and enjoy some wonderful, guided improv writing prompts and a discussion about what those prompts produce.

Writers’ Night

Writers’ Night is two full hours of discussion, laughter, and fun with other local members of Pikes Peak Writers.

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Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service Story Makers

Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting Service (RMPBS) is looking for writers to judge their annual Story Makers contest. This is a multi-genre, short-form writing contest for children in grades 5-7 across Colorado. Student submissions range from 500-1000 words. Judges will be asked to evaluate 5-10 submissions each. Judging opens in early December, 2017.

For more information and to volunteer as a judge, please contact Sally Davis of RMPBS at (719) 418-5851.

Thank you.

Conference Scholarships – Meet Your Tribe

Pikes Peak Writers provides a limited number of scholarships to our annual conference, thanks to the generosity of donors. We ask those who receive Scholarships to Pikes Peak Conference to share a bit about their experience attending Pikes Peak Writers Conference.

Today, we hear from Roberta Crownover, not only a 2017 scholarship recipient, but a top contender in the 2009 Paul Gilette Writing Contest (now known as the Zebulon).

Scholarship applications for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 will be accepted from November 15, 2017 through January 15, 2018.  You can find more information here.

If you’d like to donate to our Conference Scholarship fund, you may do so easily via PayPal.


A Kick in the Stomach

So, I was hanging things up on my wall the other day, like you do, and I found my framed certificate for Third Place in the Short Story division of the Paul Gillette Writing Contest at PPWC. The year was 2009.

That kicked me in the stomach. 2009 was only a few years ago. The places I’ve gone since have been so amazing that I can’t believe that since that day in October 2008 when my husband said, “Why don’t you submit to this contest?” I’ve covered the distances and built the words and worlds I have.

“Are you nuts?” (This is probably a PG-13 version of my response. No, no probably about it.) “I don’t have anything to submit. I’ve got days before the deadline. I can’t do this.” I lay my head down on my desk to contemplate my futile attempts at self-expression.

My husband, being a different kind of anal-retentive personality than I, went to the garage and grabbed a banker’s box full of paper, which he proceeded to drop on my office floor, spreading dust mites and mold spores throughout.

“What the hell…?” (It’s hard to jar oneself out of a good primadonna moment, ya know?) I said while coughing.

“Your writing. From the last twenty-five years.” He leaned against the door jamb and smirked. “Every time you asked me to read something, I saved it.”

My eyes narrowed. I considered my options. I could kill him or hug him. The best option was to see what he’d scrounged. His sentencing could wait until I discerned whether his gift was worthy. Outwardly scowling, inwardly piqued, I turned my back on him and began to rummage through my past.

Meeting the Person I Once Was

It’s a curious thing, meeting the person I once was. The stories I wanted to tell then are lovely reminders of children’s birthdays and bedtime stories. There are also angst-ridden bursts of “I need to scream this and don’t know how.” Sometimes, the two are interwoven. I found myself, more than once, rocking back on my heels and congratulating my former self for not being as stupid as I remembered me being.

2008. Nearly nine years ago.

It still took me a while to get busy.

Writing with Intent

Writing with intent is a process of learning and exploring. I’m not sure I knew that when I started college at the ripe old age of forty-five. I surely didn’t know that when I actively started writing my fiction later.

Like most of us, I have always wanted to be able to say “I am a writer.” Like all of us, I believe that I have worthy stories to tell. And like many of us, I doubt my skills.

This is where the circle’s ends meet. 2008.

I showed in the short story category. I attended Pikes Peak Writers Conference. It was amazing and terrifying. So many people who all had stories to tell.

I’m not a fast learner. It took some time, some years, and a lot of encouragement for me to begin to believe in my stories and my words.

There were some rough landings. When I had to rewrite the first many pages of my novel to reflect my changed understanding of who the characters were and, importantly, who my audience was, I lost hope. For a while. Until some members of the writing tribe came and kicked me in the butt.

Then, to steal a line from “High Hopes,” I picked myself off, dusted myself off, and started all over again.

Every time I did so, I learned. I’d find myself treading deep waters and somehow wade to shore.

That somehow was often through the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and the regular events PPW sponsors.

We Writers Are Not Alone

Perhaps the most important facet of all this for writers to remember is that we are not alone. We do have a tribe. Our tribe is eclectic and sometimes eccentric.  It’s not easy to pick us out in a crowd. We might have the tallest high-heels, or be dressed in our jammies. It’s possible that we appear to be normal people. We might even think of ourselves as normal. (We writers are allowed our delusions, too, ya know.) But we share our stories.

We share our stories. And, because we want others to remember them, we strive to learn the craft.

2017’s conference was another amazing learning experience. All of the presenters I heard offered me new insight into my work. Listening to Donald Maass opened me up to allow odd moments of discontinuity in my characters’ thinking to permit a different kind of aha for both writer and reader. I’m afraid I’m still better at it in relatively shallow ways, but I’m working on it.

There’s another thing I should mention: I’m more than a little terrified of people not liking my work. But that, too, I’m working on. The tribe is keeping me at it.

And now I have something else to hang on my wall – the best of the best rejection letters. This is getting to be really fun.


Roberta Crownover writes historical fiction and teaches history at a local community college.  Roberta can be found online on Twitter.

Sweet Success J.T. Evans’ Novel, Griffin’s Feather

Readers, today we share the news of J.T. Evans’ Griffin’s Feather, an urban fantasy novel that debuted on October 28, 2017.   J.T. is past-president of Pikes Peak Writers and we’re pleased to share his news.   Thank you to contributing editor, Kathie Scrimgeour find her on facebook for ensuring that you, our members, are informed of the accomplishments of fellow PPW members.


 

Congratulations to J.T. Evans on the recent release of his debut novel, Griffin’s Feather (Wordfire Press, 10-29-17, 214 pgs, ISBN: 978-1614756040). You can purchase his book at https://www.amazon.com/dp/161475604X/

Marcus Barber is a two-thousand-year old immortal, a former Roman Centurion who now works as a bounty hunter for supernatural creatures from the ancient world. When he’s not pounding the pavement as a private investigator for mortal clients, Marcus chases down missing mythological creatures for the Ancients. Now, in the heat of San Antonio, Marcus must search for Nemesis’s missing Griffin while trying to rescue a melting Ice Pixie from an eccentric collector.

 

 


J.T. Evans writes fantasy novels, and also dabbles with science fiction and horror short stories. He is the former president of Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group and Pikes Peak Writers. When not writing, he develops interactive voice recognition systems at the Day Job, home brews great beers, spends time with his family, and plays way too many tabletop games. From West Texas to Montana, J.T. has landed in the Colorado Springs area.

You can find J.T. on his website on Facebook, and on Twitter.  J.T. can be contacted by email at jt@jtevans.net.

 

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November’s Events

Pikes Peak Writers is committed to helping writers grow and thrive through education, outreach, and community. To that end, we host these events each month. Click on each link for more information.

Some of our events are for members only, some are open to the public.  Membership is free and its easy to join, just click here.

Please be aware that all events held at the Pikes Peak Library District locations are subject to the PPLD policies. Attendees and PPW staff/faculty are expected to adhere to these policies at all times.

 

Open Critique

This FREE program provides a critique experience for a small number of PPW members who seek feedback on manuscript pages and who want to learn how to have positive critique group experiences.

Write Brains

Write Brain Sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. Watch for them in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. Pikes Peak Writers began offering monthly Write Brain workshops in 2004.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

Come and enjoy some wonderful, guided improv writing prompts and a discussion about what those prompts produce.

Writers’ Night

Writers’ Night is two full hours of discussion, laughter, and fun with other local members of Pikes Peak Writers.

 

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PPW Prez Says, 3rd Quarter 2017

Readers, today we hear from Bowen Gillings, president of Pikes Peak Writers. This month, Bowen provides a report on Pikes Peak Writers 3rd quarter Board of Directors meeting  Look for the Prez Says Column each quarter as Bowen continues to keep Pikes Peak Members informed and aware.


Report on the September 2017 PPW Board Meeting

Continuing with my goal to keep you, the PPW member, engaged and informed about our terrific organization, I present this latest update on the efforts of your amazing Board of Directors.

The PPW Board met at the end of September to hold our annual elections for various Board positions. You may check out our bylaws (available to the public at https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/PPW-Bylaws-2015-09-23.pdf) to know the necessary process for becoming a member of our Board. It is not very difficult, but does require candidates to honestly depict their qualifications, goals, and reasons for wanting to be part of the Board.

This election brought in new Members at Large Damon Alan and Gabrielle Brown for two-year terms. Our new Vice President is Kameron Claire. She is a regular attendee at PPW’s monthly improve writing event, Write Drunk, Edit Sober, so come by and meet her. Also, Treasurer Charise Simpson will continue for another two years, as will Member at Large Karen Fox.

When I became your President in March, I replaced our Immediate Past President, J.T. Evans, who had 18 months remaining on his term. At that time I felt it improper for me to step into nearly a full term as President without an open election. The position of President was open to the entire PPW membership in September, yet no one submitted his or her name for consideration. So, the Board voted to keep me in place until the September 2018 elections when the position will again be open for a new candidate to serve a two-year term.

For a full look at your current Board of directors, go to https://www.pikespeakwriters.com/about/board-of-directors/. These are the people you can reach out to with ideas and concerns regarding PPW.

The Board also took a hard look at our web footprint. In late August, an outstanding trio of volunteers joined forces to become our web team. Todd Gleason heads this group as Webmaster and is supported by Jim Beavers and Liz Jeffries. Together these three have worked with our previous Webmaster to take over the managing and maintenance of our website, our membership database, and our submission portals.  Along with Gabrielle Brown, the new managing editor of our blog, they’re also working to streamline blog functionality as well as our news feed. For a tech noob like me, these seem daunting tasks, but these folks charged right in and set to work.

In the next few months you can expect to see some changes to our site. The team is building proposals to make our site more functional and easier to maintain. With a 100% volunteer workforce, simplicity is key for continued success. The Board will be deciding in November which changes to make and which products to use.

That is it for this installment of Prez Says. If you have questions about PPW and how it works, please reach out to me. The address, again is president@pikespeakwriters.com.

Thank you.

Bowen Gillings

President

Pikes Peak Writers

Book Launch Marketing – What Works and What Doesn’t

Readers, today we have installment number eleven of Jason Henry Evans’ series on How to Write and Publish Historical Fiction.  Today he shares book launch marketing, what works and what doesn’t.


OK today we talk about the digital book launch and the things you have to do to make your book financially successful. Now I am going to say some controversial things to say about common ideas about book launch marketing and it might upset you. So this is your trigger warning. 

Things that don’t work

Kirkus Reviews. Among the professional writer community, receiving an excellent Kirkus review is a mark of status. It means you have literary chops. It means you have arrived among your peers as a well thought of writer. 

However . . . 

The vast majority of book readers don’t even know what Kirkus is. They go to Amazon, they look at the section called “Customers who bought this Item also bought . . .”  and the peruse titles like the titles they’ve already bought. 

Look, if you really want a Kirkus review, go get one! But please do not think this is going to help book sales. 

Spamming Private author FB sites or any other sites. Dude. You’re just going to piss people off with this. Stop it. If you’ve been invited into a private fb author group, please know that blasting the same old add about your book is only going to upset people. Besides, why are you trying to sell to other authors? Sell to readers, not authors. 

Book launch parties. Unless your Diana Galbadon or JK Rawlings, planning a book launch party should be a fun event to celebrate you. I have gone to these things to be supportive of other authors. Some will buy $400 in hor d’ourves. I went to one where we got free, premium beer! These parties are great and you should have one. But if you spend $600 bucks on a book launch party, how many books will you have to sell to break even? 

These activities are about you, the writer, celebrating your hard work. You should do them, if you want to. But disabuse yourself of the idea that these things will help you sell books. 

What does work? 

Getting reviews. Many authors use a lovely little tome called The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages by Christine Pinheiro. This book is updated every year. (Currently on edition 8) What I love about this book is it has an extensive list of websites that actually give reviews on new books. If you get twenty to thirty of these websites to read and review your book a couple of wonderful things happen. 

First, your book is now in front of their audience. These are readers from all over the world who now know about your book. They trust these websites and will probably go buy based off of their recommendations. You now have an audience. 

Second, the vast majority of website reviewers will also write a review on Amazon. This is HUGE. Everything I’ve heard from authors is that fifty reviews on Amazon seems to be the magic number. If you can get those from these book review websites, that makes selling your book a lot easier. 

Send out a press release to the sixty or seventy sites you want to review your book about 2-3 months before you launch. Actually read the details in The Book Reviewers Yellow Pages of each website so you know when and how to submit your book copy. (Most take digital copies, a small few only take physical books. Do your research.)

Sign up for Instafreebie. This site is for whale readers. (Readers who will read your entire back catalogue.) If you put up a novella, a long short story, or a chapter or two of your novel on this site, readers will download it and read it. Are you getting sales? No. But you are getting publicity. You can even ask that readers surrender their email address before downloading your piece of historical fiction. This helps with your mailing list, which helps with your sales. 

Write your next book. I was recently at the RMFW conference and I met author independent  David Gaughran. He said something author Susan Spann and others have said before. The biggest marketing tool you have is your next book. Constantly write. Constantly publish. The world is changing and there are readers out there who won’t even consider your book unless you have two sequels out. They want to get to know characters over the long haul. 

Writing multiple books, regardless of the genre, will capture your reader and get them to buy more!  

 


Jason Henry Evans:  Life is funny. In 2004 I moved from Los Angeles to Denver, newly married with a desire to be a great teacher and husband. I dedicated myself to public education and realized my heart was not in it. So I moved on. At the same time I stumbled into a creative world of art and literature I now call home. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worthwhile.

Like my Author Page on Facebook: Jason Henry Evans

Follow me on Twitter: @evans_writer

Read my personal blog at www.jasonhenryevans.com

 

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Is the Time Ripe for Multi-Genre Fiction?

Is the Time Ripe for Multi-Genre Fiction?

Today we hear from Steve Janss, who’s Dead in a Red Dress can be classified as a dramatic, suspenseful thrilling political spy novel, and more.  Steve shares with us the facts of genres and multi-genres, today and in classical literature.  In addition to working on his second novel, Steve leads the CS Writers group in Colorado Springs.  You can find out more about CS Writers at the end of this post.


What Genre is Your Novel?

“What genre is my novel?  Why, it’s a multi-genre techno-thriller!  No wait…  Let me explain…”

If this resembles a conversation you’ve had, I might not be alone.  Have you ever been told, ” ‘Multi-‘ is not a genre — you have to focus your work into a specific genre, or agents and publishers won’t know what to do with you.”  In an age when most movies and TV shows cross genre lines at will, combining science fiction, suspense/thriller, and action-adventure onto the latest silver and LED screens, I had to ask myself, “Why is the multi-genre approach still not respected in literary fiction?”

Although puritanical gatekeepers will burn you at the stake for crossing genres in fiction, we writers desire to combine elements of multiple genres in our fiction the same as we see being done in other media.  Doing so provides a rich increase to our creative pallets, and if we like it, our readers might like it, too.

Genre, Subgenre, Microgenre, NanoGenre…?

Classic lists of literary genres typically include comedy, drama, horror, fantasy, realism, romance, satire, tragedy, and mythology.  Naturally, as do all good things which have been analyzed to death, these break down into about 21.3 billion genres, subgenres microgenres, etc., so one must be very careful as to whether or not their protagonist’s brown plaid jacket seams were hand-sewn in Surrey using a blanket stitch or in neighboring Berkshire with a wrapped backstitch.  While the truth isn’t quite that bad, I recently discovered my first novel, Dead in a Red Dress, isn’t the murder-mystery I had envisioned after all, but rather, a multi-genre novel with the following taxonomy:

Genre:  Drama

  • Subgenre:  Suspense Fiction
    • Microgenre:  Crime
    • Microgenre:  Detective
  • Subgenre:  Thriller
    • Microgenre:  Political
      • Nanogenre:  Spy Fiction

Thus, it looks like it’s still of just one genre, albeit of multiple subgenres.

Taxonomies of literary genres have grown increasing complex, numbering a couple dozen or so in the middle of the 20th Century to more than 300 today.  If you think that level of hyperfocus is a bit too constraining, you’re not alone.  Even so, many writers and most books on writing continue reiterating the same thing:  “Pick a genre and stick with it.”  With so many genres out there, however, it’s nearly impossible to write a novel that stays in its lane.

 

Multi-Genre Fiction is Not New

Fortunately, articles such as Considering Alternatives: Multi-genre Literature and Multi-genre Writing (Scully, 2008) remind us that award-winning multi-genre fiction isn’t exactly new.  Robert A. Heinlein, for example, has won the Hugo five times, with eleven nominations, even though most of his novels are a mix of science fiction, romance, political, thriller, and even western genres.

So, do you want to allow yourself to be stuffed into a nice, tidy label, or do you want to write about that for which the masses are hungry?  I prefer the latter, and I hope you do, as well.  Even so, we still live in the real world, and if we want to be published, we need to adhere to at least a few standards, including those involving genres.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t write a book that fits into multiple genres.  You can, and public demand has long been dragging the publishing industry in the multi-genre direction.  Readers like it because it’s fun, and people everywhere are usually willing to pay for fun, so until someone crafts a non-purist reason for always coloring within one’s genre lines, be creative and pass the popcorn.


About CSWriters:

CSWriters meets for camaraderie, study, and critiques at 6:00 PM every Friday night at Agia Sophia Coffee Shop.  Guest Speaker Jeff Gerke will be joining us to discuss his “Hack Your Reader’s Mind,” October 27th.  Find CS Writers on Facebook or at CSWriters.com to learn more.


Steve Janss went to high school and college in Virginia before serving our nation in the Air Force.  He holds advanced degrees in management and business administration, and has been running CSWriters for nearly three years.  He is currently writing Body on a Cold Beach, the second of five novels in a series.

Quote of the Week Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, born Helen Fiske, was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government

Helen Hunt Jackson, born Helen Maria Fiske on October 15, 1830 in Amherst, MA was orphaned as a child and raised by her aunt. Jackson was sent to private schools and formed a lasting childhood friendship with Emily Dickinson. At the age of 21, Jackson married Lieutenant Edward Bissell Hunt and together they had two sons. Jackson began writing poetry only after the early deaths of her husband and both sons.

Jackson published five collections of poetry, including Verses (1870) and Easter Bells (1884), as well as children’s literature and travel books, often using the pseudonyms “H.H.,” “Rip van Winkle,” or “Saxe Holm.”

Frequently in poor health, she moved to Colorado Springs, CO to take “The Cure” for respiratory illness on her physician’s recommendation. She met and married William Sharpless Jackson in 1875.

In 1881, Jackson became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States after hearing an 1879 speech by Chief Standing Bear.  In 1881  she wrote A Century 

of Dishonor, an exposé of the rampant crimes against Native Americans.  Her work led to the founding of the Indian Rights Association. In 1884 she published Ramona, a fictionalized account of the plight of Southern California’s dispossessed Mission Indians,.

Helen Hunt Jackson died on August 12, 1885, in San Franscico, CA and is buried at the Evergreen Cemetary in Colorado Springs, CO.  She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

(portrait of Helen Hunt Jackson Courtesy of New York Public Library)



Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

 

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Coming This Week

On the Blog:

Pikes Peak Writers Blog features the next installment of Jason Evans’ series on Historical Fiction.  Jason provides some candid insight on what works (and doesn’t) for successful book launch marketing.  Look for this piece on Wednesday, October 18, 2017.

And in Colorado Springs:

October Write Brain – Writing Disable Characters

Monday October 16, 2017 6:15 – 8:15 at Library 21c, 1175 Chapel Hills Dr, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 (get directions)

What: Writing Disabled Characters

Who: Abby J. Reed

When: October 16th, 6:15 – 8:15pm – Note: This is a Monday! Temporary day of week change due to library reservations

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: With more agents and publishers looking to support diversity in their lists, come learn the do’s and dont’s of writing a disabled character. Learn about The Spoon Theory, The Stages of Grief, Tropes to avoid and why, the role of medication and therapy, portraying your character as a holistic individual, and more.

About the Presenter: Abby J. Reed has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, released in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing and is the first in a trilogy. Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint. Find her online at www.abbyjreed.com.


Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

 

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