So. I set out with a goal of writing a blog post every day for the entire month of April. With this very post right here, I have succeeded!
What was the point? Well – to get me back into the habit again. I haven’t been blogging much lately and I missed it. Also, I wanted to get back into the swing of writing every day – which I have.
Now – I promised a Pikes Peak Writers Conference wrap up post, and this is that post, too. So without further adieu… (this is a long one)
On Thursday April 24th around 2 pm ish, I was going through a mental checklist of what I would need for the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. That list included packing, which I hadn’t done yet, and figuring out how I wanted to handle getting to the conference. The conference itself began on Friday the 25th, but there was a special ‘add on’ for Thursday I had passed on myself. My first scheduled item was a podcast interview at 10 am on Friday. That meant I could get up early and drive to Colorado Springs on Friday, or head down Thursday night so I didn’t have to mess with getting up early.
Deciding on the latter, I looked up my hotel confirmation thinking I would see about calling and finding out the rate to add Thursday to my reservation.
Surprise! I had apparently booked the hotel for Thursday – Saturday when I did the original booking. Whee… And the number in my head for the amount of money I would need? Included Thursday night and was already budgeted. So rather than lose the entire reservation cuz I failed to show up, I called and let them know I would be there late. After work, I raced home, packed, and headed to the Springs. I arrived around 8 something and went to dinner with a friend around 9.
Friday dawned (too early) and I was up and about. Got registered with the conference and picked up my packet o’stuff. Included? Keys to a couple rooms where I would be conducting my podcast interviews. I went up to the first room (The Pitch Room – more on that later) and setup for my interviews. They went great, btw – and I’ll be posting them soon at various locales and linking to them from Twitter and FB – so watch for that.
After my interviews, I met Chuck Wendig and had lunch. It was just us and a few hundred other people, but, hey – I got to make crazy hand gestures at him and eat a decent baked potato and spoonful of chili for lunch. That lunch spawned the comment: “Who feeds this many people, all locked in a room together, beans and broccoli?”
Following lunch, I had two more interviews scheduled, and an R&C – that’s a ‘read and critique’ with a published author. For mine, it was Carol Berg. I had to go first. She wasn’t too rough on me. Basically, you bring in 2 pages and read them out loud while she follows along on a printed copy. Then she has a few minutes to offer you thoughts and a critique. Went well.
After that was a staff & faculty mixer and, since I was faculty, I got to go. Chuck Wendig was presented with a movie poster he’d mentioned on a podcast someone should make. So we did. He was a good sport about it, too.
Dinner was late that night, and the keynote was one Gail Carriger. You may have heard of her. She talked about her path to becoming a published author. Great speech. She also mentioned writing is breathing, and everyone in the room got that. Friday’s dinner included a steampunk costume contest. It was awesome. Steampunk Iron Man was awesome
Next? Bar con.
Way later than I should’ve, I went to bed. Sleep was fitful and intermittent. This happens to me often in new places. Sigh.
Saturday dawned and I received a phone call, interrupting my ‘stay in fucking bed and sleep some more’ plans. Breakfast. With Chuck Wendig and my friend Michelle. Okay. *hauls ass out of bed, showers, dresses, goes to breakfast* I’m glad I went. The company and conversation were excellent and the coffee pot was full. Until it wasn’t any more.
First appointment on Saturday was a pitch session with an editor at Ballantine/Del Ray. I mentioned the pitch room before – essentially it’s a room with a bunch of small tables inside. Two chairs at each table. You are led inside by a volunteer. You find the table you’re supposed to be at and you pitch your book. If the person on the opposite side of the table likes what you’re pitching, they will ask you for more.
In my case, the editor asked for a full manuscript read.
I’ll let that soak in for a second.
An editor asked for my manuscript.
I was fairly happy the rest of the weekend, as you can imagine. The editor handed me a card and said to send the manuscript over. I tucked that card into my badge lanyard thingie and headed downstairs for lunch (this will come up again later on in this post). The keynote was Jim C. Hines, and he talked about diversity – a topic I myself would be hosting a panel on later in the afternoon. Jim was much more elegant in his speech. Everyone was quite moved, you could tell. Take away? Paint with colors. You can do it. You don’t have to write only what you know. It’s ok. The world is full of different people. Add some of them to your stories.
I had one interview that afternoon, with Kristin Nelson – a literary agent. I think it went really well. Next on my calendar was the diversity panel. Yes, I recorded it. No, I haven’t had a chance to check the audio yet, but I am really hoping it turned out well because it was a great conversation. The panelists – Carol Berg, Chuck Wendig, Jim C. Hines and Amy Boggs – were all wonderful, as was the audience.
One more interview, this time with the MC for the event, Aaron Michael Ritchey. We’ve met several times in the past and he had never connected those meetings to this interview before, which was amusing. We had a great chat, and I invited him to my Scrivener class the next day.
Saturday’s dinner was steak, and the keynote was Hank Phillipa Ryan, who impressed the hell out of me throughout the conference. Seriously. Smoothest interview I’ve ever done (she’s a television journalist as well as a fiction author). And her speech was great. Take away? When you are feeling down about whatever it is you are writing, stop, take a moment, and allow yourself to fall in love with the idea again. Remember the feeling you had when you first came to the idea, the excitement you felt. Cultivate that.
Great advice for any writer.
More bar con. Lot’s more bar con. Way too late bar con. Hung out with the editor who wants to see my manuscript. Turns out, we enjoy a lot of the same stuff, which is beyond great. I may have spent some time teasing Chuck Wendig. YOU CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING! NO ONE CAN! BWA HA HA HA! …what’s that? Pictures? Frak.
Sleep? Bah. Who needs….WAIT – I DO! GOD DAMMIT!
I did not sleep well. It’s a thing with me and hotels and new places in general. Sigh.
Sunday was awesome for several reasons. My Scrivener class had been building a buzz and they were expecting a larger crowd than they originally planned for. They were right. We ran out of seats. People were turned away at the doors. Eeep! I’d prepared for a small Q&A session with 6-8 people, and now I had a room full of Scrivener-hungry authors. The first thing the sponsors did before I’d even walked into the room was ask me if I’d be willing to do a couple of online courses for them in the next couple of weeks to accommodate all the folks unable to get into the room. I said yes. More on that down below. I did record the class, but I’m not sure if it works well enough to be released – I’ll look and see.
The class went well. The MC attended, stood in the back and said that I was changing his life. As I was showing him (and everyone else) how to create an outline in Scrivener, I typed the words, “Aaron Michael Ritchey buys me a coffee” and he barked a laugh and said, “Oh! It’s a fantasy!” After the class, I was packing up my stuff and Aaron appeared, mocha latte in hand. He even called me out at the farewell lunch, telling everyone that my Scrivener class was a ‘life changing event’.
The farewell lunch included a keynote from Chuck Wendig. He was funny, insightful, poignant, and a dozen other things. I was impressed. He managed to tie in what the other keynotes had said into his speech. He brought it all full circle. He told us we could do it, we could be writers. The path isn’t the same for everyone. You just have to find yours – that’s what I took away from his speech. Find your path, whatever it is. And I will. I am.
After lunch, I had to check out of the hotel and meet Gail Carriger for an interview, followed immediately by an interview with Chuck Wendig. Things didn’t work out that way, and I ended up doing a combo/impromptu Q&A with both of them – and yes, I recorded it. It was a more serious thing than I normally do. We were all tired and so much had gone on and it just fit.
With the conference done, there was nothing left but to pack up the car and go. That proved harder than I expected. The weather had changed, the wind was wicked and strong. I took a cart and piled all my shit on it and rolled it out into the parking lot. The Marriott is on a hill with a multi-level parking lot. The wind whipped and roared and did its best to push me off that hill. At one point, my badge thingie was taken by the wind and it spun and swirled. I snagged it, but not before most everything in it – the business cards I’d collected, the extras of my own I had on hand – had blown away.
I stared at the empty space where all those cards had been, and realized the editor’s card was gone.
Cursing loudly, I started chasing cards as they flipped and rolled on the wind.
To my utter surprise, the editors card was sitting on a small stone just in front of a little white car. I plucked it out of the air as it tried to jump and fly away. I stared at it in complete disbelief for just a second before shoving it into my shirt pocket. Back with the luggage cart, I pushed and fought my way to my car only to realize my keys were in my jeans, which were neatly folded and packed away.
So I unpacked right there in the parking lot. Keys in hand, I shoved everything into my car and fought my way back up the hill. Inside, I made my last farewells and was about to leave head out when Chuck Wendig and JC Hutchins appeared and invited myself and my friend Michelle to dine with them. We accepted and had yet another really wonderful experience.
I drove home as the sun was setting. By the time I got home, unpacked, and settled, it was around 9 pm. I fell into bed, exhausted, and crashed hard. Didn’t wake up until my alarm went off and it as time to get ready for work.
Pikes Peak Writers Conference was an incredible experience. One I won’t soon forget.
Now – I mentioned online Scrivener classes. There will be two. The first – a basic class – will be free and held on May 22nd. The second – a more advanced class – won’t be free and will be held on May 29th. There’s a special rate for the second class and you can get that rate by clicking this link. The sign up for the free class is here.
I’ll post more about those later. For now, April is done. I have succeeded. I have an editor interested in my manuscript, people signing up for my Scrivener classes, writing is breathing, diversity is good, I do love what I write, and I am finding my path.
Who wants to come along for the ride?
And as for Michelle and who she is, well, wouldn’t you like to know?