2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference: What a Blast!

Two days after conference I am finally getting my bearings again. I go to a writers conference to learn and to connect like most everyone else. Like most everyone else I work my ass off doing it. 14 hours of workshops, 7 hours of connecting and schmoozing whilst having a meal and several more cocktail hours of connecting and schmoozing. All this over the course of a three-day weekend (there is a fourth, optional day on Thursday that I didn’t participate in). By Sunday morning I am usually hiding behind copious amounts of coffee, overstimulated, exhausted, and walking around in a bit of a fog.  At the same time I am content and happy to be among my people all weekend and thrilled with the learning experience. I noticed several others in the same condition. I tell people it’s like going to Hogwarts. Well, I think there is a clear correlation anyway.

Conference Experience

The Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) is known as the friendliest conference in the country and ranks as one of the top ten writers conferences in the U.S. This year the conference earned attendees from as far away as Ireland. So is it true? Is PPWC the friendliest writers conference in the nation? You betcha! This was my second year at conference. I was so overwhelmed my first year I kept to my workshops and didn’t talk with much of anybody. That was not for lack of trying on the staff’s part. PPWC staff made me feel so welcome and comfortable that first year that when I returned this year I made nearly two dozen connections including authors, publishers, and editors in several different genres. I practically felt like an old pro at this conference stuff.

Registration is a breeze, swag bags are awesome (this year included a free book!), and if you even think that you might be feeling lost or overwhelmed there is always someone nearby to help you out. In fact, they may know you need help before you do. Most likely they have been there and done that.

How friendly are these people. Well, I walked up to a keynote speaker’s table and asked if a seat was taken. Staff members piped up trying to gently tell me the table was reserved when I saw the sign. I played it off with some clever comment (at least I hoped it was clever) and ended up being complimented on my “radio voice” (I was a little hoarse that day). No snooty upturned noses, no rude comments or questioning of my cranial fortitude. No, instead I was complimented.

 Speakers

Holy cow, the speakers! Move over Tony Robbins. Get out of the way Zig Zigler. Find a new gig Mike Dooley. Meet the 2015 PPWC speakers, Mary Kay Andrews, Andrew Gross, R.L. Stine (I call him Bob), and Seanan McGuire! All wonderful authors, highly inspiring, with impressive histories, and individual flair and styles all their own. If you’re not motivated about your writing by the time these people are done with you, you need to find something else to do with yourself. You should have heard some of Bob’s fan letters, hysterical!

 Workshops

There are up to six workshops going on at any given time between breakfast and dinner. Open and closed critique groups and speaker panels round out this portion of the conference. Authors, editors, agents, and specialists present workshops on everything from craft to the business of writing. Tough stuff like plotting, keeping the pages turning, query letters, what agents are really looking for, platform building, how the process of writing a book and getting published works and many more. My best advice, fork over the cash for a recording so you can get all the fabulous workshops you’re going to miss while attending to your priorities or stuff that’s not recorded. So many talented people including Barbara (Samuel) O’Neal, Josh Vogt, Robert Spiller, Angie Hodapp, Cara Lopez Lee, Kevin IkenberryLaura DiSilverio, Liz Pelletier, and many more! Once again, if you’re not on fire about your writing after these people are done with you, you need to find something else to do. Maybe even check to see if you still have a pulse. Just sayin’. No, there is not Kool Aid.

 The Zebulon

The Zebulon is a comprehensive writing contest that includes a rounded list of genres and mimics the process of submitting a story for publication…only much faster. You can purchase a critique of your story and you will receive a scorecard so you can identify your strong points and work on the areas you’re not so strong in, including your query letter. So worth the small investment.

 Start Saving Up Now

So much more is available including query 1-on-1 and professional headshots as well as a book store. Then there’s the friends, comradery, and priceless moments to be had at every turn. This year there was even a ghost hunt. I save up all year just to go to this conference. I suggest you do the same and I’ll see you next year! There is a payment plan, so there’s not much of an excuse. I met writers of all kinds from erotica to nonfiction and everything between.

If you’re a writer and wondering if a conference is something you should do, let me save you the trouble. As the Nike ad says “Just Do It”. It could be one of the best decisions you could make about your writing career. Until Next year, adieu, magical PPWC. Back to the muggle world for now.

As always, feel free to drop comments or questions below and discuss. Love to see what you think.

Bigot on Facebook Says We Are All Stupid Sheep

Not long ago I had a bit of a spat with a friend on facebook about manifestation. I know, I know “A spat? On facebook? No!” Specifically, the practice of manifestation. I say specifically, because that will become significant in a few moments. First, a little background info.

I was joyfully procrastinating through my news feed when I came across his post. To protect the innocent (who are welcome to comment below), let’s call my facebook friend Apollinaris Paul. Hey, I didn’t choose it, this random name generator did. Now I’ve pretty much thought of Apollinaris as a reasonable and intelligent kind of guy. I’ve been friends with him on facebook for years. My friends on on facebook include a very eclectic group of people from all walks of life and many different belief systems. The reason for that is, I don’t judge. I absolutely love the mixed up mix of people in my friends list. There are times when I don’t agree with what someone has posted and sometimes I feel like I have to put in my two cents and sometimes I just don’t think it’s worth it. Apollinaris made a post attacking people who practice manifestation, (especially for their own gain) as selfish at best and resorted to name calling and insinuation of complete, moronic, stupidity right out of the gate.

Obviously Apollinaris has a bug up his butt about something. Maybe he lost a friend or family member to manifestation. Maybe he attended a seminar of some kind and came away less than enthused. Maybe he was just having a bad morning. I don’t know, but I was moved to say something. I commented that there was nothing wrong with focusing on bettering myself or my circumstances. After all, how could I make the world better if I couldn’t make myself better? He said I had the wrong context and the wrong conclusion.

Wait a minute? Who died and made you the stupidity labeler? It was then that I decided to bow out and that my response required way more than a facebook post. I posted that I agreed to disagree and that was that. How about we break down some definitions here.

According to Dictionary.com, prosperity is a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects, good fortune. Manifestation is an outward or perceptible indication, materialization, or spiritualism. I think the latter definition of spiritualism is more applicable in this case and I still stand by my statement that it is not wrong for me to focus on my own betterment, including my financial situation.

In fact, according to the bible, God encourages manifestation through spiritualism. It’s called faithful prayer and it is generally not considered a con or woo-woo horse crap. In fact, God makes a habit of promising prosperity in exchange for believing in him, having faith, praying to him, and following his word. I can’t make this stuff up. It’s already written down. There are dozens of verses in the bible that mention going to God in prayer for whatever, anything, including prosperity. I think this one sums them all up: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24. This is the definition of the practice of manifestation, as is praying to God about your problems and laying them at his feet, then trusting that he will help with them. Most spiritual practices use something similar. Ask for it. Believe it. It will be yours.

Apollinaris also used the not quite seaworthy statement that there was no way that the starving little girl in a 3rd world country could manifest her way out of it by humming about it. Whatever that means. But would the visiting Christian missionaries tell her to pray about it and quote a verse like the one above? You betcha. He also charged the manifesters with manifesting food for the world’s hungry and manifesting world peace. Who says we aren’t already working on that???

Later in the discussion, long after I had stopped commenting and someone else who was not quite as nice as me had begun defending the practice of manifestation. Apollinaris admitted the mistake that had caused the whole argument. He conceded that he had made a sweeping generalization about those who use manifestation, mentioning me specifically as someone in the tiny minority with actual good intentions. He later deleted this comment along with the comments of the other manifestation defender, leaving only the comments of the one person who agreed with him and my initial comments which he ridiculed and tried to make me look the fool for. He continued the conversation with his comrade, bashing people who had the audacity to desire prosperity. I shake my head in disgust. At least have the courage to let the conversation stand as it really happened. But hey, it’s your wall, you get to do what you want. This is my blog. I get to manifest whatever I want on it.

The problem with sweeping generalizations is that they tend to skim over the very people who are trying to make a positive difference in the world. Sweeping generalizations at best, become arguments and at worst start wars (the Christians are infidels and must be cleansed, the Jews are inferior in every way and must be cleansed, the Muslims are bloodthirsty warmongers and must be cleansed, people who practice manifestation are stupid sheep, people who follow a God that has no name are stupid sheep, people who don’t believe in God must be saved or die, all Native Americans are lazy alcoholics, White people think they’re entitled everything and are better than everyone else, all black people are criminals, the rich are inherently evil). You get the picture, right? Sweeping generalizations are obviously quite dangerous. Apollinaris defends this as the generalization of the masses being observable. What? Rather than the few or the one? So…

Jesus wasn’t observable? Died for our sins. Prayed to God to forgive us.

Ghandi wasn’t observable? Starved while praying for peace.

Buddah wasn’t observable? Left the palace to pray for enlightenment.

Martin Luther King wan’t observable? Changed the face of human rights.

Really?

I thought Apollinaris would be respectable and had the ability to have a civil conversation, or debate. Instead, he came off as a condescending, rude, bigot. And now, after discovering he deleted portions of the conversation, I must add, coward.

Look, I’m not trying to bash a religion, a belief system, a way of thinking or even poor Apollinaris. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em. I’m not saying that we don’t need to think of all the starving people in the world (by the way, let’s think about the starving families, and forgotten veterans in our own country before we start sticking our noses in other people’s business and save the word, shall we?).  I’m saying that maybe before you post a sweeping generalization on public media that calls into question the foundations of people’s very belief systems, you might want to think it through just a little bit more and be prepared to have an honest, open, and civil discussion about it.

For the record, my manifestation practice includes, but is not limited to: praying for world peace, the starving, the homeless, the forgotten, the forgetters, my daughter, my grandkids, my son, my husband, my mom, my granny, my family, my neighbors, my city, my state, my country, my planet, the dogs, the cats, animals everywhere, the good people, the bad people, Apollinaris Paul, and yes, myself.  I practice random acts of kindness, I save empty medicine bottles because there are places in the world where they have to put people’s medicine in folded scraps of cloth or paper and I have to take a lot of meds because my body doesn’t work right, I donate to local humane society, I recycle, I help out where I can. How about you? Sometimes I’m petty, sometimes I’m angry, sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m jealous, sometimes I’m lazy sometimes I’m mean. I’m not perfect, but I strive to be the best I can be in my own way. How about you?

Apollonaris had his say on facebook. Now I’ve had mine. Feel free to comment and/or discuss below to put in your two cents.