Posts Tagged ‘Scholarship’

Finding My Tribe – PPWC 2018

I was surprised and excited to be awarded a partial scholarship to PPWC 2018. Even though it was listed as a “half” scholarship, it included all of Thursdays prequel workshops, so it came out to a 75% scholarship. It was so awesome, I just had to come up with the remaining $200. I’ve been practicing the Law of Attraction and the $200 was provided right away.


The conference was so great – my very first class was on magic, taught by Johnny Worthen, an eccentric author who wears bright, original tie-dye t-shirts with shorts. It was like I was attending Hogwarts. I loved it.

I went on from there to attend and learn from so many types of classes and teachers, from the craft of writing to running my new career as a business. I learned about a website platform tailored to authors – PubSite – and am now building my own author platform using this easy website builder.

I knitted at the craft gathering on Thursday night and even got to run a future story by editor Deb Werksman.

Law of Attraction

Using the Law of Attraction I was able to pitch to all three agents I wanted to – PPWC had extra Query 1-on-1 spots to fill and one of the pitches just happened naturally. They were all busts though the feedback I got on my query letter was awesome. I had good success when a friend connected me to a literary director and I got to pitch to her, too.

First Page

I really enjoyed the First Page critique – I connected with Steve Staffel there, who took the whole class out to some couches for a continued discussion after our workshop was over – that was unexpected and special. He gave me wonderful feedback and I reworked my whole first page. For the rest of the weekend, both Steve and Deb spoke to me as we ran into each other – what great connections!

Finding My Tribe

At the end of the conference Deb asked me what was my biggest highlight? “I’ve found my tribe,” I told her. Right from the beginning I was connecting and conversing with authors and writers and editors and we all share this incredible weirdness and creativity – we speak the same language. We dive deep into our own inner worlds and bravely share these crazy experiences with the world. Though we come from all types of backgrounds and viewpoints, there was no judgment from anyone – I felt completely safe being my weird self with all these folks.

I loved connecting with all the writers in all various stages of writing, both published and unpublished, it was a treasure.
I wish we could all get together again before next April. I can’t wait to attend in 2019!

PPWC 2019

Applications are still being accepted for PPWC 2019, “It Takes a Tribe”. You will find more information on the scholarship page of PPW’s website. Deadline to apply for a scholarship is January 11, 2019. Registration is now open for all who will be attending. Find your tribe in 2019!


Jerilyn WinsteadIn her 20’s, Jerilyn Winstead was active in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), then recently got into LARPing (Live Action Role Play). Costumes + adventure! She participates in both Middle Earth-style (elves, hobbits, dwarves, etc.) and in post-apocalyptic (zombies!). One day she dreams of attending the Hogwarts-inspired LARPs. Until  then, follow her adventures on her website.

Amy Spring – Scholarship Winner PPWC2018

Amy Spring was awarded a scholarship for PPWC2018. She shares her conference experiences and excitement about being awarded a scholarship. Apply for PPWC2109 by January 11, 2019 and you too could share your story.


I was thrilled to be awarded a scholarship to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018. My friend KL Cooper suggested (loudly, on my FaceBook timeline, for everyone to see!) that I should apply, and that evening I felt timid and overwhelmed. I went to bed thinking, “There are so many more deserving, who am I to ask for this?”

The following morning, I came to my senses and had my application in before drinking my morning tea. I am so glad I did, because I was awarded a full scholarship, and promptly promised the Powers That Be that I would be fearless at the conference and do my best.

Making Connections

Years ago I attended Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and was so stunned by the opportunity that I tried to go to everything, and wanted to learn everything. This year, as I have written two unpublished novels, I decided that my goal would be making connections, and meeting as many people as I could. I had both a Query One-on-One appointment with Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks scheduled, and well as a Read and Critique X (R&CX) appointment with acquiring editor Maximilian Ximenez.

Be Fearless

The PPWC offers access to so many wonderful people, and I did, indeed, try to be fearless. Author and Keynote Speaker Bob Mayer said, in the first of the three of his sessions I attended, “If you see me in the hallway, please stop me and talk to me, I’ll help you all I can.” He was true to his word, as the following morning, I saw him and stopped him, and he was gracious enough to not only help me clean up my 16 opening lines that I had to read aloud in my R&CX appointment, but critiqued my queries for my Query 1 on 1. How kind was that?

One thing I understood this time around is that the people that come to teach sessions aren’t there for themselves. They are there to help and encourage all of our writing family in any way they can. They do this generously, purposefully, exhaustively-meaning, by the end of the weekend, it is obvious, by the dark circles under their eyes, that they have given 100% to us every waking hour of this long weekend.

Read & Critique

My R&CX appointment was fun, though I was awarded an appointment with Mr. Ximinez, whose expertise is in genres far different from my own. I was offered a chance to change that appointment, but I decided to go and read anyway. He was helpful and kind about my reading something he would never acquire, but I soon realized my purpose for being there-a young boy read his 16 lines and had this major player’s attention, but was too shy to ask follow-up questions, so I asked them for him. (Ok, I’m 55, and sometimes, occasionally, age does matter!) I facilitated a meeting between the two, and later, both men thanked me. Score!

Query 1 on 1

The best part for me, though, was forming a connection with Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks. I took three of her sessions, sat at her lunch table one day, and boldly took both of my queries to my Query 1 on 1 appointment with her. She and her red pen passed on my second book, but said, “Send it!” on my first book’s query! I walked away from that meeting knowing I had done my best, and had been gifted with the reason I was meant to be there. I was, and am, eternally grateful to the Pikes Peak Writers for this experience.

As it turns out, I write general fiction, and Deb acquires romance, but she thought enough of my first book’s manuscript that she sent it to her fiction editor colleagues, who politely declined, though they encouraged me to continue. Deb said she’ll consider any romance I write. And, she worked with me extensively to prepare. She, and everyone else I met, and who has supported me through this experience are precious gems, in my book!

Genre Round-Tables at PPWC2018

Jere Ellison received a scholarship to attend PPWC2018. He shares his experience at the conference and the events leading him to apply for a scholarship.

I’ve been to a number of conferences in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado over the years. They all tend to have a distinct flavor and feel, and it’s always interesting for me to see what makes each conference stand apart from the others.

For PPW’s conference this past year, that stand-out moment for me rested in the Genre Round-tables. This was a format I’d never seen before, but one which really struck me as something every conference ought to make available.

As those who regularly attend conferences know, most of the time you end up sitting in a room listening to a presenter talk about something they’ve had prepared ahead of time. Even in the best of presenters, there can sometimes be a rote tone to it all, and when you’re at a conference running on nothing but caffeine, adrenaline, and a few hours of restless sleep, it gets hard to always pay the best attention you can to said presenters.

Or maybe that’s just me…

Whatever the case, the genre round-tables were a great way to break that mold in a constructive way that left me feeling not only energized and excited to get to edits on my own work, but also feeling better-connected to fellow attendees.

If you’re not familiar, the genre roundtables are just what they sound like: a bunch of people sitting around a table and discussing topics and struggles pertaining to their genre. With less of a “lecture-y” feel and more of the Socratic method, the time I spent in that room was some of the best I spent that weekend.

Productive, communicative, organic. Those are three plusses to me.

Now, I realize this setup could be intimidating to some who may be a little more introverted. There are those out there for whom the idea of sitting around a table, talking with strangers about their work might be intimidating.

Don’t let it be!

I have minors in Theatre and Communication. I like talking. But these round-tables aren’t just for people like me. There were plenty of people in there who never said a word, but who were vigorously taking notes. That’s what I liked about the round-table format: it was conversation if you wanted that, or yet lecture format if that’s what you’re looking for, instead.

The other benefit to that setup is it allows for you to meet and strike up conversations with people more easily than you might otherwise be able to. Not only do you know that everyone you see in the room is interested in the same genre as you, but with the focus of the time being spent on conversation, you can easily pick back up with other people after you leave.

It’s one thing to go up to someone afterwards and ask what they thought about something some other person said in a presentation. It’s a whole other level of networking when you can follow-up with someone later and ask them specifically to elaborate on a point they may have made during the group discussion.

All-in-all, I hope the round-tables continue to be a mainstay of the PPW Conference. And I’d recommend any other conference leaders who see this to consider doing the same with theirs.

The only other thing I want to touch on is the importance the scholarship provided by PPW made in my ability to attend this past year. I’ll do that through an anecdote.

One evening, waiting for dinner, I stepped outside on the lobby patio just to get some fresh air. While I was out there, a few women were standing around talking. If I’m remembering correctly, they were a group of friends who travel around the US to different conferences together. It’s just their thing.

I don’t remember if they were from Vegas, about to go to Vegas, or had just come back from Vegas. Whatever the case, they pulled me right into their conversation like it was nothing, and we all sat around and chatted until it was time to eat.

I’ll come back to them in a second.

You see, if not for the scholarship I was awarded to go to this conference, there’s no way my wife and I could have justified the travel, fees, and lodging expenses, what with coming all the way from Texas.

Because of that scholarship, however, I was able to attend, and because I attended, I made a slew of connections with other writers. Including those ladies, whose paths I kept crossing all weekend.

That’s what the scholarship provided for me: Other writers.

We’re a unique group, and it can sometimes be hard doing what we do.
This conference, made possible by my scholarship, provided more of that comradery we all need to remind ourselves that we’re not alone in this.

Anyways, I hope things went well for the ladies I met that evening, and I want to wish them the best with their future writing. Because that’s really what these conferences should be about: finding fellow writers, getting to know them, and sending each other the best wishes we possibly can.

And if that’s what you’re looking for, this is where you need to be.


For more information about PPWC2019 and how to apply for a scholarship follow the conference link or the scholarship link. Deadline to apply is January 11, 2019.

Jere Ellison has completed six manuscripts in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, with audience ages ranging from fifth graders to adults.
He has his Master’s degree in English, and has spent years in the classroom as both tutor and professor, working mostly with “at-risk” students. He also spent a few years professionally editing for a New York Times best-selling author of more than forty novels.
Currently, he house-husbands for his Wildlife Biologist wife in Texas, making sure all the house work is done so that evenings together can be filled with nothing but games, Hulu, and general relaxation.

Highlights of PPWC2018 from Scholarship Recipient Jenni Wood

When I first heard of Pikes Peak Writers Conference from a friend I thought it sounded like a pretty neat conference, and I decided that next time I knew enough people who were attending I too would make the trek from Salt Lake City to Colorado Springs to attend. Unfortunately, 2018 was the year that a member from my writing group and several people from the local writing community were planning to attend, and I was in a pretty tight financial situation. In 2017 my husband lost his job, and I became the sole income provider of the family. We have a young child with Down Syndrome, who, while being a fantastic kid, can be a little expensive at times. I applied for and was granted, one of the scholarships that PPWC offers. Having my tuition to the conference paid for made saving the money for travel and hotel possible and gave me an opportunity that I would have been sorry to miss.

PPWC set up an easy, low-stress way to mingle with the authors and industry professionals who are guests at the conference.

The panels and workshops I attended at PPWC ’18 were fantastic, but something that PPWC does that no other writing conference I’ve attended does is set up an easy, low-stress way to mingle with the authors and industry professionals who are guests at the conference. Each meal that is provided (there are so many meals, seriously, I’ve never been to a conference that provides so much food!) you’re able to sit where you like, but every table is assigned one of the conference guests. I got to sit by Mary Robinette Kowal at lunch and talk about whiskey and with Gabrielle Piraino at dinner and swap dog pictures. Both people were amazing to sit with, they talked with us and answered questions about the industry. The fact that this is not a time to pitch is a blessing, as it takes that pressure away and gives the opportunity to learn from them on a more personal basis. The only complaint about this setup: the tables are large, the room is noisy, and you either must sit close or strain your ears to hear anything.

Hearing that someone whom I admire has faced similar struggles and found ways to work through or around them is huge.

My highlights of the conference revolved primarily around Mary Robinette Kowal, who is an amazing writer, terrific at delivering a keynote, and an all-around fantastic person. As I mentioned, I was able to sit with her at one meal, and I attended many of the panels or presentations she gave. The one that really hit home for me was on the last day of the conference when she spoke very openly about her struggles with depression, and how she managed to get through a difficult time where all she could manage were three lines a day. This resonated with me for many reasons. I have depression and have faced times where getting out of bed was a big enough hurdle that even the thought of writing was more daunting than I could bear. Hearing that someone whom I admire has faced similar struggles and found ways to work through or around them is huge. Depression, and mental illness has historically been so stigmatized that even with how much better things are than they used to be, people still can find it difficult to admit to being depressed or to having anxiety for fear that people will think less of them. Listening to Mary talk about this made me think far more highly of her than I already did, and I hope to one day be able to inspire writers the way she inspired me.

To anyone on the fence about attending because they don’t recognize names on the program, don’t see any industry professionals they want to pitch to, or are financially challenged, I would encourage you to attend. Apply for a scholarship. Getting to know your fellow writers at the bar, sitting with someone new at lunch, or attending a class by someone you’ve never heard of and learning something new are all things that can and will happen if you give this fantastic conference a chance like I did.

Jenni WoodJenni Wood has loved to read and write fantasy for as long as she can remember. If she doesn’t have a book in hand, she probably has a mug of coffee. Jenni is married, and the mother of a sweet boy, a dog, and three crazy cats. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys sewing, cooking, video games, and gardening. Her short story “Daughter of the Western Winds” was published in Phantaxis magazine. 

Reflections from PPWC 2018

In 2018 the Ron Cree Memorial Scholarship was established. This post, by Tracy Neis, is dedicated to Ron’s memory.

Scholarship recipient, Tracy Neis, shares her experiences from 2018 PPWC, Don’t Quit!

I just returned home from my second trip to the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. The last time I went (in 2011), I had applied for a scholarship at the suggestion of my dear childhood friend, Ron Cree. I won the scholarship and flew out to Colorado to attend the event. Ron picked me up at the airport and hosted me at his condo. A few months after I returned home, I signed a contract to publish my first novel through a small Southern California-based publishing house. The road to publication has been long and winding, but my book, Mr. R, was finally released November 7, 2018.

Late in 2017, Ron suggested I apply for another scholarship to attend the PPWC so I could pick up some pointers for marketing my book. He once again offered to collect me at the airport and host me at his condo. I applied for the second scholarship, won, and booked my flight to Denver. Then on March 25, 2018, Ron died of a sudden heart attack. His presence loomed over me throughout my attendance at this year’s conference.

With a heavy heart I flew into Denver on Wednesday, April 25, 2018. I was looking forward to attending this year’s conference and meeting up with some of Ron’s friends. But I knew this year’s PPWC would not be the experience I’d envisioned when I applied for and received my scholarship.

2018 Speakers were Great!

That’s not to say it wasn’t wonderful. The speakers were great – especially Aaron Michael Ritchey and Johnny Worthen. The quirky workshops gave me a lot of ideas for my next novel (I now know several poisons I can include in my forthcoming cozy mystery, which I’m planning to set on a farm in Ohio). I learned a lot about monsters and Magick. And Friday night’s keynote speaker, Mary Robinette Kowal, was worth the price of my plane fare, rent-a-car and hotel fee put together. She was hysterical, inspiring, and entertaining in every way.

But I missed my childhood friend. At every meal, I heard his name spoken when the emcee announced the PPWC’s scholarship program was going to be renamed in his honor. Ron’s friends and I toasted him at every lunch and dinner (and with many drinks at the bar as well). We shared stories about him throughout the weekend and mimicked the catch phrases he liked to use (“You had one thing to do!”).

Garden of the Gods

Then on Sunday morning, before I headed back to the Denver Airport, one of Ron’s closest friends took me to the Garden of the Gods and showed me the spot where Ron’s memorial service had been held the previous weekend. The roses his family had left by a flat rock on a hillside were still there. Untouched by the elements, they were as white as the snowcap on Pikes Peak. As the two of us drove through the park, a bobcat crossed our path. We stopped our truck and watched it through the window. It stared back at us for several seconds before running off into the foliage.

Tracy NeisTracy Neis is the author of the newly released novel, Mr. R (Mischievous Muse) – a contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre – and the YA collective biography, Extraordinary African American Poets (Enslow). She lives in Southern California, where she works as a professional resume writer.

So Many Choices at PPWC 2018!

Scholarship recipient, Alice Andersen, shares her experiences from 2018 PPWC, Don’t Quit!

When I attended PPWC 2018, it was my second writing conference experience. For me, the conference was like entering a candy store. Each session offered tempting choices between craft, publishing, marketing, roundtables, and panel discussions. Sadly, it was impossible to have it all. Yikes! How could I choose one over another when I had so much to learn?

Because I had a complete but unpublished manuscript, my focus was not only on the craft sessions, but on that dreaded thing called networking. For me, Networking could be the title of a Stephen King horror film. I did my best though and found that among writers, conversations practically start themselves. I came away with several entertaining stories and a stack of business cards for keeping in touch. Not bad for an introvert.

And to my delight, I found that when I skipped a session to work as a volunteer, there were even more chances to speak with writers and compare notes. In addition, the keynote speakers, Laurell K Hamilton, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jonathan Mayberry, and Bob Mayer, shared enough of themselves to not only provide inspiration, but add to a sense of community and belonging.

Read & Critique

The Read & Critique was new to me. What a nerve-wracking opportunity, to read a page of my writing to a room full of people. I was unhappy with the first page of my finished manuscript and debated whether or not to read something less than my best. The answer was easy. Not a chance! I read my favorite opening from an unfinished work instead. I have to say the agent in charge, Gabrielle Piraino, was harsh and honest and filled with great ideas on ways to improve the page. I gave her my best and she told me how to make it better. Yes, it was painful to have my work shredded, but her ideas made for a better opening and I needed to hear them.

Query Day

Saturday was query day and a chance to share good, bad, and ugly ideas with an agent. Suffice it to say, I had all three. Query appointments should include a lie detector test so we know what those agents really think. If not a lie detector, maybe a choice of two buttons for them to push; one that emits diabolical laughter and another that shoots out confetti.

And not to deflect, but was that an over-used semi-colon in the above paragraph? After meeting a few editors at the conference, I know just who to ask.

Layering and Editing

My surprising top take-away came from the final two sessions on Sunday. Faced with info overload, I expected to be a little tuned out on that last day. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed a session on layering. Callie Stoker’s presentation, along with her colorful method and hands on demonstration about editing, was just what I needed to make my own work shine.

With so many useful presentations at PPWC, I’ll be studying my notes for weeks to come. The awesome presenters, the hard-working volunteers, and the keynote speakers all gave me the knowledge and the inspiration I need to keep on writing. For now though, I have to visit Amazon. There are books to buy, authors I’m hyped to read, and many more choices and ideas brought home from the conference to focus on. Thanks to the PPWC crew for a great conference experience!

If you, or someone you know, would like to apply for one of PPW’s scholarships please start here to learn more and to fill out your application. Deadline to apply is January 11, 2019.

Alice AndersenAlice Andersen discovered a renewed love for writing after moving to the Western Slope of Colorado. She returned to school to earn a literature degree from Colorado Mesa University, after which she completed her first detective novel. She is currently at work on the second. She dabbles in speculative fiction and fantasy, and has several short stories published. As a military spouse, Alice has lived in numerous locations but she grew up on the Gulf Coast and remains a Texan at heart.

Join her on Twitter @AliceAndersen4

Fall in Love with Your Story

Readers, I introduce to you to Samantha Crane, a recipient of a Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 scholarship.  We ask those who benefit from our scholarship program to share a bit about their experience at PPWC.  We hope to see Sam back next year ready to pitch!

Each year, the Pikes Peak Writers organization offers a limited number of scholarships to aspiring writers who could not otherwise attend the Conference.  Since 1993, scholarships have been made possible by generous contributions from friends of PPW and participants of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and we thank those donors.   Scholarship applications for Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 will be open beginning in November 2017.   More information is available here.

The next Pikes Peak Writers Conference  is April 27-29, 2018 in Colorado Springs, CO.

Gabrielle Brown, Managing Editor

I arrived at Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017 ready to quit writing. I had not worked on my manuscript for ages and I had begun to hate it. While at the conference, the most amazing thing happened. I fell in love with my story again!

After four years of my manuscript waiting for me, I came out of this conference weekend with a bare-bones outline for my first book. I was even able to come up with concepts for two more books, taking this idea from hated and ignored to a trilogy that I am excited to work on. I really can’t pin it down on one “aha” moment because every second spent at the conference was building back up my love of writing. Of the 14 workshops I had the opportunity to attend over the weekend, two really stood out to me.


Impactful Sessions

The first was “Writing Worlds That Work” with Carol Berg. She gave us so much information that I filled nine pages worth of notes. Ms. Berg covered everything from the definition of setting versus world to the background of your world–that is what is 

happening around your character–to keeping your plot unpredictable. Ms. Berg even gave activities to complete so we would grasp the concepts better. 

The second class that stood out to me, perhaps because of my own manuscript idea, was “Designing Magic” with M.H. Boroson. With his help I was able to better define and make sense of the magic within my world. Instead of having a vague idea of there being magic, I now have ideas to make it an impactful part of my current manuscript.


Writers Encouraging Writers

While I loved the workshops that I took and the speakers had such helpful information, I have to say that it was the people that were there that had the most impact on me. From the very first day when I sat down at the query help desk to the final meal on Sunday, I was encouraged by everyone I spoke with. The most common phrases I heard during the conference, and probably the words that will stick with me most, are “just finish it” and “you will finish it”. 

The conference was not all work, however. In our down time we were able to talk with other authors, editors, and agents. We had opportunity to get favorite books signed and shop for new additions to our collections. One of the most fun experiences was the costume dinner. It was wonderful to see so many people dress as beloved characters. The dinner had contests and prizes and is something I will be looking forward to every year.


Turning Point

This conference was a drastic turning point in what I can now call my writing career. I would suggest that every writer, even every person that has a story in mind, attend this conference. You will come away with not only a deeper understanding of writing and its techniques, but you will also receive encouragement by the ton, ideas, and maybe a few new friends. Take the chance, you won’t believe the change this conference can make in your life.

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying thank you, Pikes Peak writers conference 2017, I wish the conference could have lasted longer.

photo of Samantha Crane

Samantha Crane lives in Colorado with her husband and two children. She is first and foremost a wife and mother, who has joyfully taken on the  additional responsibility of homeschooling a preschooler and a kindergartener. In her free time Sam likes Fiber Arts such as crocheting, knitting, and has even tried her hand at spinning and dying her own yarn. Sam began reading when she was 4 years old but never really tried to write fiction until she was an adult. She is now currently working on her very first novel that combines her love of the Fantasy and Mysteries genres with a bit of Horror. Sam is hoping that she will be able to finish it and have it ready for editing within the next year, preferably in time for the next conference.