Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference 2018 Wrap-Up

Books I was recommended:

  • Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
  • The Silence, by Tim Lebbon
  • The Well-Fed Writer, by Peter Bowerman

This list is shorter than I like, but I do have permission to ask Jonathan Maberry for some good action/horror titles.

Book to Study:

  • The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler, as per Laura Hayden’s mystery class.

Books I would like to demand get written:

  • Nonfiction forensics book by Megan Rutter.
  • A book on…how to say this?  Disrupting your assumptions from an anthropological (and feminist) basis, by Kristy Ferrin.

Books I want to write:

  • The Writing Class, a meta-mystery about a class designing a murder mystery.  Laura Hayden taught a class on reverse-engineering a mystery and I was fortunate enough to sit next to someone who suggested the frame story.
  • A book on intermediate fiction techniques to start studying/picking apart.

Class I need:

  • I want Sue Mitchell to teach a “how to be a freaking presenter” class, because I am still screwing this up, especially every time a mic is involved.

Special thanks to:

  • Kameron Claire, who ranted about men hearing about something on the Internet and deciding they’re experts on it, while women undersell themselves brutally.  It was timely.  Fine!  I am enough of an expert 🙂

This is the first year that I’ve stayed in a hotel for a writers’ conference.  It was bliss.  When I needed to run off for a bit and hide, I could do it.  I didn’t even have to keep shouting, “This one is occupied” every five minutes as I hid in a toilet stall.  Linda Tschappat, besides having worked her ass off as the Green Room volunteer all weekend, made for an awesome roommate, too.

I got to hang out with Megan Rutter on Thursday as she took over the full morning session that she was supposed to share with Pete Klismet, who was in the hospital.  I learned more about jurisdiction than I thought I would ever need to know.  Now, as my husband watches Supernatural, I crack up every time they walk into the room and claim to be FBI agents.  That’s how unexpectedly amusing that information was.

Thursday afternoon I moderated Pam McCutcheon’s synopsis class, where we worked on log lines and back cover blurbs.  She was incredibly supportive and generous with her advice, and our small group positively bathed in all that attention.  How often do you get that chance?

I taught a class on Pacing, in which like five people walked out…and everyone’s faces were glazed over. As I spoke, I felt ashamed of every minute that I tortured people with the indigestible information I was delivering. But after the class several people thanked me.  I was more relieved than I can ever say.

I figured out a Story Game and tested it out on a few people.  I’ll blog about that separately.  It feels like its own private victory.

I went to Megan Rutter’s poisons class, which was jam-packed with info, but just made me realize I need to read up more on poisons.

As mentioned, Laura Hayden’s class on reverse-engineering a mystery was inspirational.  I absolutely need to write a mystery featuring a stalker as the amateur detective now (around which the writers’ class is framed).

I sat on a horror panel with Steve Saffel and Jonathan Maberry, and I’m not gonna lie, I was sure I was going to shit a brick.  But it went great!  In the end, Steve (an editor at Titan Books) said something like, “This just inspires me to buy more horror.”  Mission accomplished.  My fellow horror writers, you can thank me later.

I taught a class on How to Study – the same stuff that I’m blogging about here.  Obviously, I’ve been running out of time lately and need to finish blogging that.  I think that went better than the pacing class, but also it was hot in the room and I was telling people to do more work that wasn’t actually writing (ugh, I know), and so people weren’t as jazzed when they got done.  Except for one person…I won’t name her in case she doesn’t want to be called out.  She asked a ton of questions.  And I went, “She’s the one who gets published.  Maybe not soon, I don’t know.  But she does.”

I went to Kristy Ferrin’s Whores, Sluts, and Prostitutes class, which turned out to be a class on questioning your cultural assumptions.  At first I was a bit doubtful, but I soon began to see what she was doing.  A real “aha!” moment.  I just wish she had more time and gone on longer…

Mariko Tatsumoto gave a class on multicultural novels that was fun, straightforward, and practical.  I always feel like I’m putting a foot in my mouth when I’m including cultures I didn’t grow up with in my stories (I probably am), but this makes me feel better about how to research and winging it when I can’t find what I need.  Ahhhhh…

The rest of the time I spent talking.  Okay, I did do some hiding up in my room.  But mostly I stopped and talked to people.  How did your pitch go?  What’s a good copywriting book?  Everybody has an interesting bio, are you kidding me? You studied to be a paleontologist.  It’s a dark and stormy night…

The speakers were all good, the hotel was good, I suffered a little bit less than usual from imposter syndrome, and I can only feel grateful to the organizers and volunteers.  PPWC helped raise me up from a baby writer.  I can only feel proud of attending, and hopeful that once again they might have me back 🙂

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Mary Lamphere

    Great write-up, DeAnna! There were a lot of terrific sessions and tons of inspiration at the #PPWC2018.
    I had to lol just a little at your imposter syndrome references…I, too, suffer. But in the end, it’s always…over. (And we do fine.) I enjoyed the input of the synopsis class and the banter and dissent of the horror panel with you.
    FYI, once you’ve had your OWN hotel room at a conference, there is no going back.

    • DeAnna Knippling

      Hahahaha…I’ll stick with roommates then 🙂

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