DARE to DREAM with Jason Henry…
Building on a groundswell in the New York Chapter of MWA, as chronicled by our own beloved Annamaria Alfieri on the official MWA website, added to by comments of CWC members Sheila York, Thelma Straw and others, bonding with the brand new pristine white T-shirts worn to Deadly Ink this very week by members of Crime Writer's Chronicle, I present another member of the growing mystery community of conferences — Jason Henry, of Colorado Springs, the Director of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference for April 15-17, 2016!
DARE to DREAM is the appropriate title of this friendly gathering at the Colorado Springs Marriott.
In his welcome Jason writes… to each of us writers… "Dreams are the foundation of the world we live in… together, we'll Dare to Dream!"
You and I all started with our little dreams - some became huge and famous, some are still in the womb stages... all are wonderful… they are YOU and ME and all our writer friends and colleagues!
Welcome to Jason Henry!
P.S. I admit I have a fond memory re Colorado Springs, as I was privileged to direct their YWCA Camp one summer a zillion years ago ! God's country, that land!
For me, being a writer is a relatively new idea in the grand scheme of things. In fact, the crazy notion didn’t occur to me until, roughly, seven years ago, and I only began taking it seriously in the last five. I suppose there are many reasons why I was a late literary bloomer, but I don’t think those excuses are overly relevant.
I made it.
You see, having been born into small town, Ohio, my horizons as a youngster didn’t appear to be very broad. I was faced with a future as a farmer, a factory worker, or, if my beloved grandmother had her way, I would grow to become a preacher. (Sorry, Grandma. I am an epic fail with that one!) Despite my hometown, I, like all kids, still had fanciful dreams. You know, the usual; a lion tamer, a snake charmer, or Batman.
At the age of nine, I became an Army brat. I was whisked away from Ohio and moved from one location to the next as my step-father’s job dictated. With every move, my horizons broadened and my dreams grew. The world was a much bigger place than small town, Ohio would have me believe. As my view of the world expanded, so did the scope of my dreams.
Of all my youthful fantasies, the grandest was that of being a rock star. And I chased that dream. I grew to become a singer and a guitar player. I was the front man for a couple of bands and, believe it or not, got really close to finding success. Then, the ugly side of the industry bared its fangs and I walked away. In fact, I pretty much ran right back to small town, Ohio and settled into the life of a factory worker. I did well for myself, working my way up to management at a young age, but there was always a void. I was perpetually miserable as I tried to narrow my views and squeeze into a box that was far too small for who I had become. I didn’t fit into the mold of the American dream. A corner house with a white picket fence, a dog, a cat, a wife, and 2.5 kids was too conventional for me. The more I tried to be that person, the more unhappy I became.
Then I began writing. Not song lyrics this time, but stories. Suddenly, I had dreams again. I had aspirations and my love for life was renewed. I was bitten so hard by the writing bug that I was looking for every possible way to scratch the itch. While my creative soul set its heart on being a writer, the rest of me knew I had to return to a place I had fallen in love with. Colorado Springs, Colorado.
One day, I did just that. I dropped everything and decided to start anew in the shade of Pikes Peak. It didn’t take long to find out that my heart was a very efficient tour guide. I found myself joining a little writing group on Thursday nights. Through that group I discovered Pikes Peak Writers and made the best decision I’ve ever made; I got involved with the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. In April of 2016, I will attend my fourth conference. However, I won’t be there as just an attendee. I also have the incredible honor of being the Conference Director.
If you were to go back in time and visit that small town boy, he would tell you that he loved books, that he preferred to read over watching TV, and that (even at a young age) Edgar Allen Poe was his favorite author. However, he would not say that he dreamed of writing a novel, or directing a writer’s conference. Regardless, I am glad that my journey took me in this unexpected direction.
I wish I could answer why I was chosen as the Conference Director. I can say that Pikes Peak Writers Conference has a near twenty-five year tradition of being one of the best and friendliest writer’s conferences in the United States. That tradition was built by people who are passionate about writing, about preserving a place in this world for literature. They are a group dedicated to educating and encouraging writers of all backgrounds and abilities. At every conference, Pikes Peak Writers bringsin some of the best and most successful authors who have already found theirplaces on the bookshelves and introduces them to writers who are striving tojoin them. We do not discriminate, we do not judge. We offer something forevery palate. Each year Pikes Peak Writers looks for new ideas, new energy, andways to keep their conference fresh, current and engaging. Perhaps that’s why Iwas chosen this year. A new face who shares the passion that Pikes Peak Writershas displayed for so long.
I can’t predict my future as a writer. I would like to believe that there is a place on the bookshelves for a cover displaying my name. I want to think that, in the near future, I can completely erase the doubts of a small town boy with narrow horizons and live my dream. I want to find my place in this world as an author, as someone who believes in the beauty of words, of stories, of the imagination. I want to take a copy of my novel and personally deliver it to that small town library back home, thereby proving to everyone that, as long as you dare to dream it, it can happen. No matter your predispositions. That is my overall goal, the legacy I wish to leave in my absence. I want to inspire people to step out of their presumed, preassigned destinies and have the courage to follow their hearts.
As director for the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, I want to uphold the tradition of encouraging others to pursue their dreams, to let go of their inhibitions and put words onto paper. That is why Pikes Peak Writers feels like home for me. They are family. They don’t just get behind me, they walk with me and continuously tell me that I can. They provide the workshops that teach necessary skills, but that isn’t all. I learn about the life of a writer, about the ever-changing world of publishing, aboutthe inclusion and necessity of a social media presence, and so much more. But,the most important thing I have learned from my involvement with Pikes Peak Writers is that I am not alone. There are so many other amazing writers who are on this journey with me. No matter what stage of the adventure they are on, they turn around and look for me, grab my hand, and pull me forward. They lead me toward the realization of my dreams.
As Director,I would love for everyone to join me in April of 2016. However, no matter what you decide, I hope that you will understand the beauty and importance of what you are doing as a writer. It’s more than the money. It’s more than the notoriety. It’s even more than an ISPN number and a place on a bookstore shelf. Writing is about evolving. We have the ability to prove to children everywhere, including small town Ohio, that the world is much bigger than what they see when they open their eyes. As long as they open their minds, look to that horizon line and run toward the edge of the world, there are no limits to where they can go.
As long as we Dare To Dream, there is indeed hope.
Jason P. Henry
2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference
When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at www.jasonphenry.com.