The city of Colorado Springs boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. April 23-25, 2004, the dates for the 12th annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference, were not part of those 300. Snow covered the city as I woke Friday morning and prepared to attend my 4th PPWC. In the back of my mind I was thinking about last year's event. Could the organizers of this well-known writers conference outdo themselves once more? They could and they did!
The Kennedy Center's Imagination Celebration, the Wyndham Colorado Springs Hotel, and the Pikes Peak Writers sponsor the PPWC. Charlie Rush was this year's conference director. With the help of countless volunteers, he directed the event and the PPWC once more lived up to its well-earned reputation as one of the country's premiere writer's conference. The cost of attending the event was reasonable. At $225 for PPW members, a price that included all meals during the weekend, I'd say it was a steal!
All the ingredients were there. The faculty, composed of top agents, editors and publishers were available to teach and meet one-on-one with conference participants. 44 different workshops were offered for participants to choose from. Read and critique times with editors and authors as well as one-on-one pitch times with editors and agents were scheduled well in advance. One area where the PPWC organizers shine is that they not only bring to the PPWC top agents, editors, and publishers, but those they bring are actually looking to acquire manuscripts. It's such a thrill to meet participants throughout the day and hear how this or that agent or editor wants to see more of their work! Just about every member of both critique groups I belong to had a very positive time meeting with the editor or agent of their choice.
Knowing the caliber of presenters that would be there, I came prepared to capture as much of the talks as possible with my brand new Dana Wireless. By the end of the conference I had 43 single spaced pages of notes and, as good as they are, they're nothing compared to what it was like to attend the event itself. Though not the same as being there, many of the conference talks were taped by Swank Audio Visuals. You can order audio recordings of conference talks using Swank's order form. The 2004 PPWC was magical, empowering, blast-your-writing world-apart and put it back together better than you could have ever hoped it would be. It was this and so much more!
Donald Maass [president of the Donald Maass Literary Agency in NY...who obtains six and seven figure advances from publishers such as Warner, Ballantine, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Hartcourt Brace, Penguin Canada and others] gave the Friday night keynote address that inspired me beyond words to "take our fiction back to the source...our hearts!" He then gave a 3-hour workshop on Saturday afternoon that forced me, once more, to pay retail for his book "Writing the Breakout Novel," so he could autograph it for me. I'd met with Samantha McFerrin, editor at Harcourt Children's Books, during my pitch session and told her the middle grade novel she wanted me to send her was 75% done. After attending Maass' workshop I went back to Samantha and told her the novel was now 30% done! During the conference I discovered I was not the only one Maass was sending "back to the drawing board!"
Luncheon speakers on Saturday were Pat LoBrutto and Michael Seidman doing a parody of "American Idol." They read aloud manuscripts from wiling victims and critiqued them on the spot. It was a good simulation of what editors and agents do when they receive manuscripts in the mail.
The PPWC is a fun place, a learning place, and a networking place. Robert Vaughan, Keynote speaker on Saturday night, is the award-winning author of over 260 novels. His talk, as many of the speakers' talks were, was a balanced mixture of life experience and writing skills.
PPWC 2005 is set for April 22-24. Registration opens January 1, 2005 for PPW members. If you're smart you'll do what I do... wait up for the New Year on December 31st in the company of family and friends and, as soon as the clock strikes midnight, excuse yourself from their midst just long enough to log on to the PPWC site and register online! This will ensure you pretty much get a pitch time with the editor/agent of your choice and reserve your place at next year's PPWC, a time where for three days published and yet-to-be-published writers will come together and grow personally and corporately in their writing journey.
By the time the conference ended Sunday afternoon the sun was once more shining...if not fully on the tarmac at the airport at least it was in the hearts of those who attended this year's event. The PPWC was, once more, a magic moment in time that will shape the writing career of its participants for years to come in ways we can only dream about.
Snow surrounds the Wyndham Hotel on and off during the PPWC.
The heart of the PPWC are its volunteers, most of whom are well published authors who take time to provide this amazing event.
The PPWC faculty, one of the conference's key assets, make themselves accessible to participants throughout the weekend.
You can order recorded messages from PPWC'04.
Donald Maass' intensive 2-hour workshop on Saturday afternoon opened up windows in many a writer's mind that we didn't even know were closed!
Pat LoBrutto and Michael Seidman did a parody of "American Idol" during the luncheon on Saturday...an eye opener to many a participant on just what editors and agents do when they receive manuscripts!
Memories from PPWC 2004!