To Top

Meet Johnny Welsh of Peak 1 Publishing in Frisco

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johnny Welsh.

Johnny, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Shortly after graduating from Syracuse University, I applied to grad school at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls. At the same time, I applied for an internship to live and work at a castle in Italy, working in vineyards and olive groves, farming, and researching in the hills of Tuscany. My degree in Italian Language, Literature, and Culture was a perfect fit for other programs at the castle as well.

One day that summer, I received an acceptance letter to both. I was now faced with the biggest decision of my life to that point. I was torn.

At twenty-three, I hadn’t taken much control of my life, but I just couldn’t resist the call of the castle. The idea of an adventure abroad seemed so unexpected and romantic. It was an opportunity for growth I couldn’t pass up.

I chose the life of travel and adventure. This was the beginning of my writing career over two decades ago.

Today, I am a professional bartender with two award-winning books published, and I run a publishing company on the side. The books were inspired by customers where I tend bar in Frisco, Co. Many times current events are discussed at a bar. When I see a recurrent theme, I take that topic, add a splash of research and top it with humor.

My main career has been bartending which has allowed me to continue to live a life of travel. Between the two, there is more than enough content to keep me writing.

The first book was about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Since it was the first state to go live with recreational sales, this opportunity to capture this topic couldn’t be passed up. I added a lot of research and many interviews of new companies that were popping up. The sheriff and the town stoner were added to capture both sides of the story. Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales From the High Country was the first book to be written from a post-legalized state. It captured the emotions, the changes in culture, and the process of the vote all in a light-hearted historical capsule.

The second book was inspired by an observation of the invasion of the smartphone into the live social arena knows as ‘the bar’. It turned into a comedy road trip where my girlfriend, Kristy Smith, and I created a dare to unplug for the whole sixteen days of our vacation.

Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure is a hilarious travel journal created during many happy hours. In the end, we learned a valuable lesson about the art of listening. Kristy and I are now engaged to be married on September 3, 2020, in Frisco Colorado because of this increased awareness about the importance of paying attention to each other.

I am now in the process of writing ten mini books knowns as Johnny Bartender’s Twisted Topics. These will follow the same process of taking current events and adding a bit of wine, altered perspective, and a splash of humor. These will be served up in bite-sized books with less than 100 pages each.

I remember when I used to schedule my writing so that I would work on the craft. Now, I cannot stop writing even if I wanted. What started off as a hobby, turned into a passion, and I feel it is approaching the status of a calling in life for me.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wouldn’t say smooth. It is more of a journey. There is a lot to learn in the publishing industry and right now it is in constant flux with technology shaping the way we consume. Along with incorporating and hiring dozens of people to help with the many facets of the business, there is the lightning-quick pace of internet marketing.

I will mention two struggles:

 1. When I wrote Paper Maps, No Apps, it was all in the past tense. My editor suggested that I rewrite the entire book and place it in the present tense so the reader would feel like they were on the road trip with us. It worked. I have had many reviews where the reader would say they felt like they were in the car with us and at happy hour meeting new friends.

 2. This struggle is one that I now use with my stand-up comedy routine. People often ask what was the hardest part of writing my first book on the legalization of marijuana. That’s easy to answer. It was convincing my mom to read a book about pot! She was pissed that my first published book had to be about marijuana. I had to laugh. I didn’t mean for it to be about pot, it was just such a blazing hot topic that I couldn’t pass it around, I mean, pass it up! Eventually, she read the book and understood it is more of a time capsule of the early years of legalization, and she loved it!

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I have been a professional bartender for over twenty-five years. I have seen and heard it all. Now, all I have to do is change the names and tell the stories! It’s a bartender/client privilege.

I am known for my sense of humor and my coworkers think of me as the prankster. It comes out when I bartend and in my stand-up comedy routines.

What sets me apart is my degree in Italian language, literature, and culture. There was a time when I had to translate the books I was reading and retell the story in a way that all could appreciate. I learned a different perspective with which to explain the details and embellish them in a way to make it my own. I can now tell humorous bar stories in two different languages.

I did so well at Syracuse University, that they kept me an extra year. Go ‘Cuse!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was a child, a dirt road at the end of our paved street led to the back bays of southern coastal New Jersey and the Seaview Docks—there for fishing, crabbing, and boat-launching. I was there, my bike piled among scores of other children’s, every day of every summer.

It was pure freedom.

We were allowed to ride down and spend all day there. We would stay and catch fish and blue claw crabs while dying of thirst and getting sunburnt. We didn’t have a care in the world. Time seemed to stand still.


  • Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure print editions $16.99
  • Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure eBook $4.99
  • Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales From the High Country print editions $19.95

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kristy Marie Smith, Mark Fox

Suggest a story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in