Recently, I received the opportunity to ask some questions of the president of the local writing group, Pikes Peak Writers. J.T. Evans, President, Author, jack-of-all-trades, was more than happy to converse with me about the Pikes Peak Writers and their upcoming conference. Thankfully he was able to take time out of his hectic day to answer these questions for all of us, so please give him and the Pikes Peak Writers some of your time to find out more about this truly awesome group at large in our community!
CB: How long have you been the president of the non-profit organization Pikes Peak Writers, And what has it been like?
J.T.: I joined Pikes Peak Writers (PPW) as a member in late 2008. I worked my way up in the organization from chair mover and auction guard to being a presenter at a Write Brain and helping out around conference where I could to becoming PPW's webmaster in 2012. In late 2012, I was invited to join the Board of Directors because the president needed to step down because of Real Life getting in the way of her volunteer efforts. In the January board meeting of 2013, I was elected vice president of the group with the understanding that I was to stay in that role until later in the year when a planned transition would happen for me to become president. In September of 2013, that transition happened.
I've been president of another non-profit in the past, and I've volunteered for a handful of non-profits as a teenager and young adult. These volunteer efforts in the past have almost always been rewarding in their own unique ways. My volunteer efforts for PPW have been nothing short of astonishing. I work, usually on a daily basis, with the best group of people I've ever had the privilege of being around. The level of dedication, effort, intelligence, caring, and true passion everyone around me exhibits without fail blows me away. This drives me to maintain my high level of energy, drive and devotion to PPW, so we can constantly improve and move forward to what the future brings.
CB: What's the reason or philosophy, if you will, behind being a non-profit organization?
J.T.: Honestly, it's a natural fit. We're here to help educate people on the art, craft, science, and business of writing. This education starts where basic English classes at high school or college leave off and continues throughout the career of the writer. Our goal is not to make every writer a multi-volume, best-seller published author because that's an unreasonable goal. It would be great if that could happen for everyone, but the truth of the matter is that this is a rarity in the writing community. Our goal is to assist every writer in accomplishing whatever goals they set for themselves.
Being a non-profit does put more financial restrictions on what we can and can't do and how we go about things, but it also opens the door to many more opportunities, as many businesses and other non-profits in the area are willing to give us assistance (such as free meeting space) from time-to-time.
CB: How does Pikes Peak Writers make it's presence known in the community and what do you do to help struggling writers?
J.T.: We have quite a few ways to make people aware of us. In traditional means, we advertise our conference in newspapers around the region, and we also advertise in target magazines when we can afford to do so. In the newer methods, meaning social media, we are very active on Facebook, Twitter, our blog, and our website. We also have a great Yahoo Group for facilitating email-based communication.
We use all of the above communication methods to reach out to people regarding our monthly and annual events. Each month, we host at least three free events. These are our Write Brains, Open Critique, and Writer's Night.
Write Brains are two-hour long educational sessions where an expert or experienced person teaches the attendees about the craft of writing, the business of writing, or some part of how things really work, so writers can execute these real life circumstances more accurately. We've recently partnered with Delve Writing to record and broadcast our Write Brains over the Internet. Online viewing does require an RSVP because there are a limited number of “seats” in the software. However, showing up in person does not require an RSVP. More information about upcoming Write Brains can be found here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/events/write-brains/
The Open Critique is a session where we gather a group of writers together to review the other writers' submissions and give immediate feedback on the writing. There are a limited number of submissions we can go through in a night, so if you want to submit something, you have to RSVP. Attending to just give feedback and meet some fellow writers does not require an RSVP. More details about our Open Critique can be found here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/events/open-critique/
Our Writer's Night is a place where writers can gather, meet each other, enjoy a drink or two, and discuss whatever writing-related topic they wish to bring up in an open and friendly environment. It's great fun, and everyone always walks away inspired to write and learns quite a bit from the informal discussion. To find out about Writer's Night, you can go here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/events/writers-night/
As far as our annual events go, we tend to have 2-3 special events that are either a half- or full-day in length. Some of them are free, but most require some form of payment to offset our costs of renting space and bringing in speakers. These special events cover a wide variety of topics, but they are always a deep dive into the topic. Our attendees come away with a head full of knowledge and a spirit full of drive to implement what they've learned.
Of course, our Big Event of the year is the Pikes Peak Writers Conference...
CB: What can you tell us about the Pikes Peak Writers Conference?
J.T.: Wow. Where to start? We have so many exciting things lined up for our attendees. I'm really looking forward to every keynote speaker we have lined up. We have a great steampunk-themed dinner for Friday Night set up. There's the on-site writing contest. We also have something Sooper Sekrit planned for attendees to compete in that will be an incredible hoot. Our Saturday Banquet is always a great time with good friends. We have over 80 sessions to pick from throughout the weekend. Attendees get to pick an agent or editor to pitch their completed novel to. There are just so many great things going on this weekend, I can taste the excitement and eagerness already. We have so much going on and so much planned, I'm just going to point people to our PPWC section of the web site for more details: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/
CB: What kind of people do you expect to be interested in attending? (What kind of person is this conference intended for?)
J.T.: We're mainly a fiction-based conference. We do have some topics applicable to non-fiction writers, but for the most part we cover fiction from any and all genres in our presentation. We have workshops for writers of all levels of writing experience. Anyone ranging from having just written a short story to having published an entire epic fantasy series will find themselves welcome at PPWC, and everyone always learns a great deal of things from our workshops.
In addition to the learning and growing of knowledge in the sessions, PPWC is a great place to meet new people, network, and just enjoy being around people like themselves. It's nice to be able to talk about writing without getting strange looks from people when you mention all of the horrible things you do to your characters.
CB: Where is the conference taking place and what are the dates it will run?
J.T.: The conference is at the Marriott in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The main days are Friday, April 25th through Sunday, April 27th. We do have an add-on day on Thursday, April 24th that can be added as part of the conference as a whole, or just as a stand-alone day.
CB: Where can interested parties get more information, such as finding out who the Keynote Speakers are?
J.T.: If you're interested in finding out more about our keynote speakers, faculty, agents, and editors that will be at the conference, you can visit our conference faculty page here: http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/conference-faculty/
As always, we have a really exciting lineup of people for the 2014 conference. My hat's off to our programming and faculty coordinators for getting such an amazing group of people to come into our doors and talk to our attendees.
CB: Speaking of PikesPeakWriters.com, what resources are available to writers on the site?
J.T.: The website has tons of information about all of our PPW events and efforts. The top three sections of the web site are about conference, our writing contest (check back at the PPW web site in August for the re-opening of next year's conference), and our events.
We also have a section on our site for the people that keep this amazing machine growing. We also have a good selection of resources for writers about the craft and business of writing.
As always, if someone spots something missing from the site, I welcome feedback. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the “Help Us Improve” feedback form that is on every page of the site.
CB: Was there anything else you wanted to say about Pikes Peak Writers, or about the Pikes Peak Writers Conference?
J.T.: Pikes Peak Writers has truly given me a home where I can comfortably hang out with like-minded people. Some of the best friends I have today have come through PPW. I still remember my first Write Brain back in August of 2008. I was greeted with warmth, welcomed to participate as if I'd been there from day one, and treated like an equal despite my obvious inexperience in the writing community and craft. This is how we still treat people. One of my goals is to ensure this is how we always treat every person that crosses our threshold: new and returning members.
CB: Well I certainly appreciate you being able to pull yourself away from the business that is your day to answer some questions for us. I hope this year's conference is as awesome as ever!