Friday, October 6, 2017

Sweet Success Celebrates F. P. Dorchak

Do the Dead Dream Book Cover Dorchak“F. P. Dorchak writes like a hot-rodder heading toward a brick wall. Edge of your seat entertainment! I pondered over each of these stories long after I'd finished reading them. That's what great writing is all about!”
Dean Wyant, Co-Founder, Hex Publishers

Monday, September 11, 2017

This is an archive page for Writing from the Peak.  

You can access current Writing from the Peak Blog Posts at Pikes Peak Writers

Friday, September 1, 2017

Letter from the Editor

Well, it is now September. It is with a bit of trepidation I take over the reigns here as Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog. Donnell Bell has been outstanding at ensuring you see timely posts regarding the craft and business of writing and sharing the successes of you, our members. Donnell also, I think, knew everyone. 

But my worry is fleeting. This blog features the input and submissions of more than a few talented individuals. I stand in good company. I'm fortunate to work with a team of talented, dedicated professionals.

I look forward to working with this capable group of Pikes Peak Writers members. Here you will continue to meet members and celebrate in their successes. You’ll see announcements, craft and business advice, relevant pieces, and updates from our President, Bowen Gillings. And of course, you will also have the opportunity to be a part of our blog.

Pikes Peak Writers is here to serve our members. If you’ve got ideas for our blog, or a subject you’d like to see or write about, please share your thoughts. We’re currently accepting individual submissions as well as series ideas. I can be reached at

And remember, becoming a member is easy.  Just head over to and follow the instructions.

A little bit about me - My published works are almost entirely nonfiction - textbook credits, studies for the federal government, research papers, technical writing, and a few random poems. I've been compelled to write stories, poems, and song lyrics since I could hold a crayon, and I've recently made the leap from leisurely to serious fiction writing. I've blogged, designed websites and done a bit of development work for many years, primarily as a volunteer for non-profit groups. Since I’ve benefited from reading the PPW Blog for timely relevant posts, I'm thrilled to be at the helm.

PPW Blog and website will be undergoing some changes in the next few weeks.  We are working to complete the process as seamlessly as possible. Still, you may see differences in appearance and format, some of which could be temporary. Ultimately, the changes we’re making will improve functionality and virtual visibility of Pikes Peak Writers.  

Gabrielle 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, and NIOSH and OSHA reports.  Gabrielle currently writes humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. Gabrielle has extensive experience in web design, management, and maintenance.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pikes Peak Writers September Events

Pikes Peak Writers September Events

Write Drunk, Edit Sober - September 13

Second Wednesday of every month 
6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Bar K 
124 E Costilla St. 
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Join Deb Courtney for Write Drunk*, Edit Sober on the second Wednesday of every month. We start at 6:30 PM will run until approximately 9 PM in the lower level of Bar K in downtown Colorado Springs.

The basic format is improv writing followed by discussion of critical techniques useful in unpacking improv responses in order to further develop them.

Bar K is located on Costilla, between Tejon and Nevada.
This event is no host, which means Pikes Peak Writers will not be providing the drinks. Alcohol/soft drinks are available for purchase. There is no food service; owners have graciously agreed to allow outside food/snacks. Please be courteous and leave no messes.

This event is only open to writers who are at least 21 years old.

Hope to see you there.

* Pikes Peak Writers does not endorse or approve of drinking to excess. Please, if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drink responsibly.

September Write Brain – Never Plead “No Contest” Again!

6:15 PM to 8:15 PM
Library 21C
1175 Chapel Hills Dr. 
Colorado Springs, CO 80920

What: Never Plead “No Contest” Again!

Who: M.B. Partlow

When: September 19th, 6:15 – 8:15pm – Note: earlier start time

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: Entering the Zebulon (or any) writing contest can be a rewarding endeavor or an exercise in frustration. This workshop is all about how to improve your chances in a writing contest, with specific attention paid to our very own Zebulon. First, we’ll cover the basics–opening dates, deadlines, rules, entering, scoring. Then we’ll move on to the meat of the matter: what separates successful entries from unsuccessful efforts. After analyzing details from past  contests, we’re going to share the most common errors that knock down scores, and share tips on how to prevent them. We’ll talk about paying attention to details, what genre means (or should mean) to you, and how to make the query letter a strength instead of a weakness. If time allows, we’ll split into small groups and discuss individual query letters. If you have one needing feedback, bring a couple of copies.

If you’d like another reason to attend, we will give away TWO free contest entries that night! 

About the Presenter: MB Partlow tries to inject her off-center sense of humor into everything she does. She writes mostly in the speculative fiction world, with forays into mystery and women’s fiction. Her first paid writing gig was for the A&E department of The Independent. She’s also written a parenting column for Pikes Peak Parent and spent years writing restaurant reviews for the Indpendent and The Gazette. She’s a longtime volunteer for PPW, having done everything from stacking chairs to Conference Director to serving on the board. She reads voraciously across genres, and thinks making up stories for a living is the greatest job in the world.

Want to Connect?: Click here for the Facebook Event Page.

FREE Writer’s Night - Sep 25

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Kawa Coffee 
2427 N Union Blvd.
Colorado Springs, CO 80909

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

The direction of the meeting is decided by the participants and can include discussions about query letters, obtaining and working with an agent, writing conferences, or other specific points of the craft.  If nothing else, we talk about books!

If you have any questions, or if there is a specific topic you’d like to get on the agenda, send an e-mail to the host, Damon Smithwick, or call him on his cell phone at 719-464-5336.

Meetings are scheduled to start at 6:30 and run until about 8:30.  These are drop-in meetings, so feel free to attend all or just part of them.

See you soon!

Host: Damon Smithwick

Damon Smithwick is a long time Pikes Peak Writers attendee at various events. He took over for the PPW Writers’ Night in January of 2017.  

Inpactful Quotes and Adieu

Over the last two years I've been showered with wonderful articles and learned much as your editor for Writing from the Peak. There's truly a stable of information in this blog, I hope readers (particularly writers) will refer to it often and learn much from its pages. Still, as editor, I think one of the most inspiring times was when I went hunting for a weekly quote for Quote of the Week and the Week to Come. I rummaged through my archives and found a few of my favorites. They inspired me, and I hope they will inspire you as well.  Enjoy!  ~ Donnell Ann Bell  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Inside Directing a Writers Conference

Editor's Note: So impressed by this article. This should be added to the Writing Conference Director's Bible. 

By: MB Partlow

Although many might think so, conference directing is not all tasting menus, telling people what to do, and sipping mimosas with the agents and editors.

I’ve worked on the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in various capacities for the past ten
years, with one turn in the hot seat in 2015 as its Conference Director.

What’s the secret to a successful turn directing a big, four-day conference without losing your nerve, your hair or your health? Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you the real inside secrets.

Surround yourself with good people. That doesn’t necessarily mean people who will agree with every idea you have, but rather people who will share your vision, make good decisions, rein you in when you get punchy, and are willing to admit when they need some help with a particular task. People who don’t freak out under pressure are a bonus. Treasure them.

That is not to say you need a conference committee made of your best friends, or full of people who are just like you. First, that would be boring. Second, and most important, if you’re all that much alike, you’re probably going to share all the same weak spots. You need people who can provide support in areas where you’re weak.   

A perfect example is social media. I know it’s important, but I also know very little about how to create it or manage it. So I found a couple of folks who knew what they were doing, and I listened to them. While I had veto power over, say, Facebook announcements, I didn’t exercise that by nit-picking. I made big picture suggestions and let them get their design on, because that was their strength.

Learn what the budget is, and what parts are flexible and which are not. Think long and hard about what’s important to you, and what’s going to be important to your attendees. All that swag in the conference bags? You have to pay for that. And for the bags themselves. Cute and kitschy doodads may look fun, and you may say $2.49 per item isn’t a lot, but multiply that by 350 people. Is it worth $871.50 of your swag budget?

Do. Not. Gossip. Not ever. Not about your conference committee, and certainly not about any of your faculty. You probably have a friend or a spouse who already listens to you vent, so they can probably handle a little more. While everyone should feel free to come to you, as director, to vent, it should all roll uphill. Disseminate vital information, but keep it professional.

That word, professional. You can’t go wrong with approaching everyone from the guy bussing the tables in the banquet room to the keynote speaker (and everyone in between) in a professional manner. Be friendly, and be yourself, but remember that you are setting the standard for attendees and committee members. Oy, it’s like parenting that way. You may need to lower your snark and/or sarcasm volume, which is really difficult for some of us.

The director bears the ultimate responsibility for the conference, and that includes the inevitable mistakes. No, you can’t throw a committee member under the bus. A conference director has to be able to apologize sincerely, and then move on. This is one thing I learned as director that has served me well in regular life. When you’ve wronged someone, apologize and mean it. Do what will make it right, then keep moving forward. No need for prolonged hand-wringing or self-flagellation. We’re all human.  

Keep all the lines of communication open. Be honest with your people, and provide as many details as you can, whenever you can. And for crying out loud, if you don’t know the answer, admit it and then find the answer. Your people want the conference to be as successful as you do, and they don’t need a load of baloney. Treat them like responsible, professional adults, or (gasp) the way you would like to be treated.

Enjoy the ride. A lot of people are putting a lot of time and energy into this project right along with you, and hopefully you’ll be buoyed and inspired by the energy around you. No mistake, this job is hard work and requires a lot of time and attention to detail, but putting it together and pulling it off is a rush.

Last but certainly not least, thank and praise all those people helping you. When someone congratulates you on a great conference (something we all hope for), your first response had better be, “I couldn’t have done it without my conference volunteers. They worked their butts off for this and did a fabulous job.” Because everyone I’ve worked with at conference? Does work hard. Does deserve more praise. And made being Conference Director one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

About the Author: MB Partlow tries to inject her off-center sense of humor into everything she does. She writes mostly in the speculative fiction world, with forays into mystery and women’s fiction. Her first paid writing gig was for the A&E department of The Independent. She’s also written a parenting column for Pikes Peak Parent and spent years writing restaurant reviews for the Indpendent and The Gazette. She’s a longtime volunteer for PPW, having done everything from stacking chairs to Conference Director to serving on the board. She reads voraciously across genres, and thinks making up stories for a living is the greatest job in the world.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Quote of the Week and the Week to Come

Source: Wikipedia & Google

Sidney Sheldon (February 11, 1917 – January 30, 2007) was an American writer and producer. He came to prominence in the 1930s, first working on Broadway plays and then in motion pictures, notably writing the successful comedy The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947) which earned him an Academy Award. He went on to work in television, where his works spanned a 20-year period during which he created The Patty Duke Show(1963–66), I Dream of Jeannie (1965–70) and Hart to Hart (1979–84). He became most famous after he turned 50 and began writing best-selling romantic suspense novels, such as Master of the Game (1982), The Other Side of Midnight (1973) and Rage of Angels (1980). He is the seventh best-selling fiction writer of all time.

This week on Writing from the Peak

Aug 28          Inside Directing a Writer’s Conference by MB Partlow

Aug 30          Exiting Editor’s Favorite Quotes

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sweet Success Celebrates Michelle Major's RITA Award

In July Michelle Major attended Romance Writers of America's annual conference where she was nominated for the prestigious RITA award, RWA's highest achievement among published authors. No surprise to many, she won her category for Christmas on Crimson Mountain. Well done, Michelle! May your stories continue to entertain readers for years to come. 

Michelle holding her RITA 

Peace and quiet—that's all Connor Pierce wanted from the rented cabin on Crimson Mountain. Yet the caretaker turned out to be lovely April Sanders—a total distraction. As were the two little girls she was caring for. Connor's plan to forget his painful past soon detoured into giving the ladies a Christmas to remember. 
Being named guardian of two motherless girls has upended April's world. Add to the mix a mysterious, brooding writer claiming he wanted to be left alone while going out of his way to bring a little joy to the girls, and she has quite the quandary. April had counted herself out of a happy ending. But maybe Santa still had a few surprises up his merry old sleeve…