Monday, July 21, 2014

Consequential Conflict

By Karen Albright Lin

Some of us walk around looking for a battle, but most of us try to avoid conflict.  We dread the “conversation” we have to have with our son who just got a full-face tattoo of a praying mantis eating its mate.  We refuse to challenge ourselves with the Class 4 rapids our first time in a raft.  We resist the urge to use a few choice words when the IRS threatens an audit.  We are cavemen doing whatever we can to avoid the cougar that will inevitably stalk and eat us.
Self-preservation is an instinct.  So it can be a challenge setting aside our reputation-preserving, risk averse, considerate and conscientious selves to create that most essential element of fiction—CONFLICT.

Conflict is about high stakes.  It’s not simply a disagreement about whether a shirt is gray-blue or blue-gray, unless the discussion is between a savvy cop and a color-blind murderer.  No ho hum disagreements please. 

True conflict requires consequences.  That’s not to say that all conflict has to be bigger than life—like an antagonist holding your hero over the edge of the Grand Canyon.  Sometimes the conflicts are quieter, yet just as devastating, as likely to thwart a plan or create an obstacle between a character and her goal.  The beautifully written Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, is a relationship book with neurotic baggage as obstacles.   

Conflict can be found in surprise, even sideways humor:  When Dawn met “Mr. Sexy", she had no idea that his first name was Chip and his last was Dale. 

Conflict can be fear:  Ben saw the clown’s face frozen in a scream as it floated in the shadows of the forest.

It can be self-contained like a trail of insecure thoughts:  I’d doubted, believed, doubted again; I’d dared to speak of what I shouldn’t have even known; I’d become my own Grim Reaper.

It can be a bitter divorce, the denial of a call to action, a guilty admission.  And yes, it can be a machete at the throat.

We can think of a book as a series of conflicts, some smaller ones resolved along the way and at least one building to a black moment when our character must face the choice between two bad alternatives, the ultimate test of his moral fortitude, a climax of inner conflict.  This need not be a life or death moment, but your hero’s choice needs to lead to life-altering consequences.  Ask yourself: how will my character’s life change depending on how she handles this particular conflict?  If you don’t have an answer to that question, you lack the power of consequence. 

Readers crave cause and effect that matters.  They love to see courage they can admire and enjoy books that put their own life challenges into perspective.  They return over and over to books that get the adrenalin pumping, the endorphins rushing, leading ultimately to the satisfying release of tension.  Our readers ride a chemical roller coaster on the waxing and waning of conflict, but only if it is consequential conflict.  

About the Writer:  Karen is an editor, ghostwriter, pitch coach, speaker and award-winning author of novels, cookbooks, and screenplays. She’s written over a dozen solo and collaborative scripts (with Janet Fogg, Christian Lyons and director Erich Toll); each has garnered international, national and regional recognition: Moondance Film Festival, BlueCat, All She Wrote, Lighthouse Writers, Boulder Asian Film Festival, SouthWest Writers Contest, and PPW Contest. Find out more at

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

“I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows.”

Ernest Hemingway (7/21/1899 - 7/2/1961)
The Sun Also Rises
The Old Man and the Sea
For Whom the Bell Tolls
A Farewell to Arms

This week on Writing from the Peak:

* Consequential Conflict                              Karen Albright Lin

* Flaw Goggles                                              DeAnna Knippling

* Sweet Success! Carol Berg                       Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sweet Success! Ashley Hodges Bazer

Compiled by Kathie Scrimgeour

Ashley Hodges Bazer’s Sci-fi/Space Opera, Heralds of the Crown: Poison, (ISBN: 978-163-310-0060, E-book and trade paperback, 93,000 words, family-friendly/adult) was released on May 16, 2014 by Distinguished Press. Poison is available on Amazon and Smashwords. The author’s website is

When Gaultier Lassiter discovers an unconscious young woman buried in a snowdrift, his world is turned upside down. She has no memory and no ability to speak. The question of her identity leads to a journey of legendary proportions. Between his own personal struggles with his estranged brother, his unmet potential, and the murder of a close friend, Gaultier fights to cling to his faith. And once the mystery is solved, will Gaultier be prepared to face the truth?

Ashley Hodges Bazer is often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she's a real duchess!


We love to hear of fellow Pikes Peak Writers' Sweet Successes, including story acceptances, winning contests, getting published and book signings. Please email Kathie Scrimgeour at if you've got a Sweet Success you'd like to share.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do You Share Books? — A Reader University Post

By Stacy S. Jensen 

This is the seventh post in a series of 12 ways to help authors (and your writing) by reading.

I don’t share chocolate very well, but I love sharing books.
We support our favorite writers when we share his or her work.
You can help when you share:
  • a book with a friend
  • via word of mouth
  • on your blog
Print books are great for this. You have a book. You have a conversation about a book. You let a friend borrow it. Your enthusiasm may have created a new fan.
I became the recipient of several books this week, because a friend shared her love for Amish romance books. So, when I thought an aspect of Amish life would be good for a future manuscript, I contacted my friend. She graciously shared several books with me. Now, I just need to pick one to read.
Ebooks have complicated sharing a little bit. After reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, I thought I could share my copy with my sister. I missed the memo that not all books are loanable. Sigh. Many of the self-published (or indie-published authors) allow this option!
Thankfully, we can share books via word of mouth — no matter what format. This year, I continue to follow my "Name Them" rule and list the title and the author’s name when I mention these books in conversations or social media. 
Our blogs are a great place to share books, too. I enjoy reading reviews. I continue to add books to my library list I missed in 2013, but found through year-in-review blogs.
What’s your favorite way to share books?
(This post originally appeared on Stacy S. Jensen's blog on February 17, 2014)

About the Author: Stacy S.Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Support Conference Style

By Ashley Hodges Bazer

The recurring theme I saw during the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference 2014 could be summed up in one word: SUPPORT. I witnessed it in many ways, and I’d love to share just a few.

By volunteering to stuff bags the night before the Thursday add-on, I got to see a unique perspective of the backstage work that goes on prior to the conference. Oh, I’ve attended a few of the planning meetings, but nothing like this. As I stuffed bags with a dedicated few, our conference team was putting out fires and taking care of the last-minute details. You know the duck feet analogy. Ducks swim serenely across a pond and look so peaceful and content...but below the surface, their feet are paddling like crazy! That would perfectly describe what was going on that night. And as I left at 10 p.m., I knew there were still many more hours the staff would put in before they could give into sleep. I am in awe and inspired by the crew of people who devote their time and energy to putting together one of the best writers’ conferences around. This kind of unnoticed undergirding and support is what makes PPWC so great.

As the conference started on Friday, the electricity in the air was awesome. New, nervous writers along with old friends coming together for a single purpose—to hone their craft. The talent that gathered in the Marriott that weekend could rule the world, if we all weren’t so bloomin’ introverted. The faculty and staff headed off to their respective places to teach and support the hopeful attendees. Even mealtimes weren’t wasted as they offered encouraging words from both the podium and the host seats around the ballroom.

Pitch day is my favorite, especially since I’ve been on the pitch staff for the last two years. I love greeting attendees as they arrive on the seventh floor. Whether you’re confident and ready, or nervous as can be, I’m glad to offer a smile, a mint, or a verbal boost. This is my little way of giving back, of supporting the courage and fortitude it takes to step off that elevator. But beyond Pitch Day itself, I have to applaud the pitch staff and Bonnie Hagan for stepping up after we lost Amanda. For those of you who don’t know, Amanda was the heart and soul of Pitch—at least for the two years I’ve been involved. The transition, despite the heartache, was seamless and only because of the support of the PPWC leadership.

Saying goodbye, or at least “See you again next year,” is never easy. Winding up a conference like this requires perhaps not as much behind-the-scenes work as pulling it together, but it still takes a lot. With a team of people and a caravan of five or six cars, we took boxes, crates, and bags of conference-related items to a nearby storage unit. The support was necessary, and because we had so many hands, it didn’t take that long!

I’m pleased to say that support wasn’t left at the conference. Through the friendships cemented and connections made, I’ve gained a family of like-minded folks in Pikes Peak Writers. They saw me through the launch of my book, cheering me on and even purchasing it. Just recently, I attended one of the Write Brain sessions, to be greeted with smiles, hugs, and joy.

I treasure my time with Pikes Peak Writers. I really do. There is no other experience like it in the world. And with programs like the Write Brains, the Open Critique sessions, and the Writers’ Night get-togethers, we’re able to capture glimpses of that same excitement and wonder that we know at Conference. I’m grateful for my family of writers—for everything. For the love. For the encouragement. For the support. Thank you all.

About the Author:  Ashley Hodges Bazer is the author of Heralds of the Crown: Poison, releasing May 16th, 2014 from Distinguished Press. She’s often decked out in bellbottoms and grooving out on the lighted dance floor. Okay, not really, but she does have a thing for the BeeGees. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. After earning her bachelor’s degree in theatrical stage management from Arizona State University, she went on to work for Disneyland in that capacity. A love affair with books led her to work for several different bookstores. Currently a producer for an international daily radio program, she’s learning to balance working, writing, and momming duties. Her debut novel, Asylum, was traditionally published by WestBow Press in 2012. When she’s not writing, she’s crocheting or belting out Broadway show tunes. And she's a real duchess!

(Editor's Note:  Watch for Ashley in an upcoming Sweet Success post.)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quote of the Week and Week to Come

"I like what I do. Some writers have said in print that they hated writing and it was just a chore and a burden. I certainly don't feel that way about it. Sometimes it's difficult. You know, you always have this image of the perfect thing which you can never achieve, but which you never stop trying to achieve. But I think ... that's your signpost and your guide. You'll never get there, but without it you won't get anywhere."
Cormac McCarthy (7/20/1933 -)
Pulitzer Prize Winner
  The Road, No Country for Old Men

This Week on Writing from the Peak:

* Support Conference Style                                                  Ashley Bazer

* Do You Share Books? (Reader University)                    Stacy S. Jensen

* Sweet Success! Ashley Bazer                                             Kathie Scrimgeour

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sweet Success! Maria Faulconer

Compiled by Kathie Scrimgeour

Maria Faulconer is excited to announce the April release of her latest children's book, A Mom for Umande by Dial Books for Young Readers. It received a starred review on Kirkus and is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Maria was inspired to write Umande after seeing a photograph of a baby gorilla snuggling in the arms of his surrogate mom. An adoptive mom herself, she was captivated by the joy on their faces and knew she had to write a story about this resilient little gorilla.

This is the true story of a baby gorilla, born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado, whose mom was too young and didn't know how to take care of him. He was hand-reared by the amazing zookeepers and found love 1,000 miles away in the arms of a surrogate gorilla mom at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.  

About the Author:   Maria Faulconer's first children's book, Arianna and the Strawberry Tea, was promoted on a national morning talk show, named a shelf-talker at Barnes & Noble, and used for a state-wide literacy program. It contains recipes for Strawberry Tea and Chocolate Tarts. A teacher and counselor by profession, Maria writes for Colorado Springs Style Magazine. Ms. Faulconer has also received several mentions in local as well as national publications. To read more just follow the links.

N.Y. Times:  Click Here
USA TodayClick Here
The GazetteClick Here

You can find Maria at her website: