This guide is about that killer ingredient our stories need: Conflict. It shows you exactly how to use conflict to raise tension, create a fresh story premise, and pull readers in. The guide also dives into over 100 conflict scenarios and how each can be endlessly adapted to challenge a character inside and out. Problems, Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, No-Win Scenarios…this book is plot brainstorming in overdrive!
Now I have some questions for you:
What is the one book that has influenced you the most? And what is it about that book that absolutely excites you right now?
Did you turn the pages so fast the the sun brightened your bedroom making it hard to see the page, you looked at the clock, and your gut dropped into the basement because your meeting at the office starts in twenty minutes with a one hour commute? Or were you late getting your kids to school? Does your work-in-progress have that kind of tension and conflict? Do you sometimes feel that your plot could use more than a super-dose of vitamin C?
Or do you have writer’s block accompanied by a cricket chorus playing in the background and crave inspiration?
Then check out The Conflict Thesaurus, Vol. 1, for some juicy, main course, inner conflict, with a heaping side dish of external drama.
I’m part of Angela & Becca’s Street Team for this release, and we have an important question to ask you:
Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist?
Sure, it’s easy for you to use conflict to torture your characters and make them struggle, but what if it’s you in the hot seat instead? Will you make good decisions, or bad ones?
It’s time to find out by taking the Conflict Challenge! I dare you to become the protagonist in a special story Angela & Becca cooked-up. And heads up, if you survive, you win some pretty cool stuff!
My husband and I set out a water bath for the neighborhood critters during the recent heat wave. We met a new raccoon mamma and her kits. As luck would have it, momma walked out of the shot right when I snapped the photo.
Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend everyone. And don’t forget the simple pleasures of a cool bath on a hot day.
In 2011 I convinced some friends from the midwest that we should all cram into a phone booth and recreate a moment from the past.
Fast forward ten years when I posted the photo on Facebook and several comments about are there phone booths anymore.
Do you remember Leonard Nimoy’s TV show “In Search Of”? My husband and I went in search of the nearly extinct telephone booths. We found not one, but two locations with telephone booths on Highway 101 in the Washington State (U.S.) rain forests.
One in Forks, with the groovy moss hairdo, and the other twin booths in Kalaloch, Washington. Pronounced clay-lock for the BoFN fans out there.
I hope you discover something fun this weekend. Until next time!
When I received the panicked call from my younger sister in early October 2010, the one where she told me our dad was on the floor, on his knees, face-planted on the sofa, she said, “He’s moaning but not responding when I shake him.” I had no idea that phone call would land me square in the front seat of the dementia care roller coaster without a seat belt.
The paramedics took him to the hospital. When he came out of the diabetic coma, he was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. Because he lived by himself, the hospital would not release him to our care, and they sent him to a group home.
He was too active for the staff. When they weren’t paying attention, he would leave the premises and take a walk by himself. This behavior, combined with his anger at being held prisoner when he considered himself healthy, escalated his “bad behavior,” and he threatened to kill his bed ridden roommate to get their attention.
What Else Could Happen?
The staff from the group home sent him to a psychiatric hospital. They wouldn’t tell us which one due to our rocky relationship with them over his escapes. We had a devil of a time finding him, calling all of the local hospitals.
When my family and I finally located him—in another county—his wrist and ankles were red and raw. He was secured to the bed with restraints and tape, and sedated.
He kept repeating, “Why are they doing this to me?”
Each time he said it, I fought to keep myself from curling up into a little ball. I shoved down the hard knot in my throat and trembled trying not to weep in front of him. At the time I did not have power of attorney, but that did not stop my husband and me from lobbying for his custody.
Medicaid paid for three days of his hospital stay, giving Social Services very little time to locate another facility.
Things Went from Bad to Worse
Because of his Houdini-esque escape skills, Social Services sent him to a series of higher security memory care facilities, each adding medications to control his behavior. The drug interactions spiked his blood sugars and caused hyperactivity, escalating his “bad behavior.”
When he arrived at the last and most secure dementia care, skilled nursing facility, he asked the staff if he could go for a walk outside. After reviewing his file, they said no. My sister and I took turns visiting him daily and took him for walks, but it wasn’t enough. Because no one at the facility would take his needs into account, he took matters into his own hands.
Even with moderate dementia the skills from his former profession, as an interior designer and installer, were still clear in his mind. He noticed an issue with the mounting screws of the three-foot by five-foot plate-glass windows in his room. When his roommate went to physical therapy, he partially closed the door to his room. Next, he removed the screws, and lifted the window out of its frame. He climbed out in his pajamas and slippers. Then he replaced the glass and fitted the screws back into place.
The staff discovered his escape one hour later. None of their security cameras showed him leaving. They called the police.
Thirty minutes later 9-1-1 received reports of an elderly man in slippers and pajamas walking against the traffic lights on the main highway three miles from the facility.
The police brought him back. When the staff asked him how he escaped, he proudly demonstrated their security flaw. Their maintenance staff discovered 30 percent of the facility’s windows had the issue, which they repaired.
When he could no longer exit via the window, he staked out the main entrance. He charmed the lady visitors. Then he gallantly escorted them safely to their cars after their visit and would go for his walk. After two more escapes, the facility put an alarm band on his wrist that would sound each time he neared an exit.
Employing his natural charisma, he hugged his favorite nurse when she left for the evening. He saw her punch in the exit code and noticed the visitor code printed on a label next to the alarm pad. The next day he snuck out one final time. On December 23rd the facility gave us five days to find another location for him to live. They were ready for him to leave.
Lobbying to Bring Him Home
My husband and I cancelled Christmas dinner with the family—we were hosting. We spent the next five days transforming our small house into what we guessed a dementia-friendly home should be.
Snow covered the parking lot of the facility when I parked my car. It crunched under my feet as I made my way to the entrance and with each step the knot in my stomach grew tighter and sweat soaked the palms of my gloves. Will they release him into my care?
After an hour-long meeting with Social Services pleading our case, the Social Worker asked me what I would do when he became angry or aggressive. I looked at her, surprised by the question. I said, “What else would I do, I will deal with it.”
She gave me a knowing smile, the kind of smile that says, ‘This is dementia care, you have no idea what you’re in for,’ then handed me the release papers. We walked down the hall to the pharmacy. She ducked out of the room.
The Dementia Care Crash Course
The pharmacist asked, “Do you have any experience giving medication, using a syringe or a glucose meter?” I shook my head.
She handed me a medium sized Rubbermaid tote filled to the brim with 38 blister packs of medications, bottles of insulin, syringes, a glucose meter, and an equal stack of paper prescriptions for our local pharmacy, followed by a ten-minute crash course in administering them. She covered everything from using a syringe for insulin and the use of the glucose meter to a myriad of medications with their timed dosages throughout the day and night. The pharmacist handed me written instructions, took my elbow, and marched me down to collect my father.
The minute he saw me he gave me a bear hug, nearly knocking the tote out of my arms. The smile on his face would have lit Times Square. He grabbed his small duffel bag and raced for the exit.
The Social Worker waited for us by the door. She removed his wrist alarm, then punched in the exit code.
The door swung open, and a blast of cold air rushed in to embrace us. He was free. My dad dashed across the snow-covered parking lot to his chariot, the one that would take him away from this place. It was not my car.
Once in the correct car, we turned on the heat and tuned in to his favorite radio station. We listened to Swing all the way home.
Later that evening we got him into bed for the night. Fifteen minutes later he tracked me down in the living room. He kept saying, “I don’t feel right.”
I checked his blood sugar, his blood pressure, and his pulse—they were normal. I couldn’t pinpoint the issue, so I called 9-1-1.
In less than five minutes, the paramedics arrived. Hypothermia. My dad was acclimated to the 80° F temperatures in the dementia care facility. Our home was set to 68. They loaded him into the aid unit. The lead paramedic towered over me. He looked me in the eye, shaking his head. “I expect to be back here many times. We’ll meet you at the hospital.”
My eyes tightened, my fists balled up. I made a promise to God then and there this would never happen again.
I followed the ambulance to the hospital. My grip tightened on the steering wheel. I will not let others to go through what I’m going through, this feeling of helplessness at being out of my depth. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I will make it my mission to teach other caregivers how to avoid the same mistakes I make.
♥ ♥ ♥
Sitting in the bright, antiseptic E.R. room, I vaguely registered the blip of the diagnostic equipment. And as I watched my dad’s body temperature rise, my thoughts turned toward the future.
This is the first step to keeping my promise.
If you would like more information on dementia caregiving, go to tracycramperkins.com and sign up to my newsletter and receive 10 Steps to Calming Aggressive Dementia Behavior.
Happy belated Valentine’s Day. I’m not quite a month late. My apologies for not being around for quite some time. I’ve been working to fulfill a promise to my father who passed several years ago, but I will save that for another post.
Back to celebrating Valentine’s Day. Thick, glorious snow fell leaving us with a treasured 13″ of powder. A little too deep to drive through, but the perfect depth for creating a snowman. My husband shoveled the walk, while I rolled, and packed snow.
A chess pawn took shape. But my arms weren’t in enough shape to create more than one. Clearly, I’m not 12-years-old anymore.
He lasted about two days, not a long as Frosty perhaps, but long enough to draw scant glances from the neighbors. *Fannie grins.*
I think they were disappointed it wasn’t Halloween themed, but that’s just a theory.
Have a wonderful, warm weekend wherever you are on this lovely blue planet. And no matter what the day is on the calendar, feel free to celebrate with your Valentine!
Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?
Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you a bit about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!
Certain details can say a lot about who someone is, like a character’s goals, desires, and backstory wound. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?
It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.
How much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?
Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.
Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills. It’s okay, you aren’t alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be able to pick the perfect job for them and discover how to weave it into the very fabric of the story. (Here’s one of the jobs profiled in this book:FIREFIGHTER.)
GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER’S SHOWCASE IS WAITING
To celebrate the release of a new book, Becca and Angela are running a giveaway from July 20th & July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within the Writer’s Showcase. Stop by to enter if you like!
Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters!
Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past. What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this list, GO HERE.
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