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PostPosted: 09 Feb 2013, 02:17 
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Joined: 10 Apr 2005, 04:13
Posts: 33
Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the Algonkian Novel Workshop Writers Only

Below are seven assignments which include readings and links. All of these are vital to reaching an understanding of what elements go into the writing of a commercially viable literary project, whether novel or narrative non-fiction. There is more to it, as you will learn at the conference, but this is for starters and a good primer.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit" at the bottom of your post), even following the pitch conference. Pay special attention to antagonistic force, breakout title, conflict issues and setting.

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff
Algonkian Writer Conference Director

Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!



Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist (hero/ine)? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeated?Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)? Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)? Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)? Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)? Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement, of this "primary complication" of story statement. Also, look over the brief summaries of these novels in the Author Connect Deal News. These contain the simple statement, but more elaborated into a short hook.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.



Since the antagonist in most successful commercial fiction is the driver of the plot line(s), what chances do you as a writer have of getting your manuscript, regardless of genre, commercially published if the story and narrative therein fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict?

Answer: none. But what major factor makes for a quiet or dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind, rather like a fist hitting a side of cold beef?

Such a dearth of vitality in narrative and story frequently results from the unwillingness of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash. And let's make it clear what we're talking about. By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).


SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.



What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours.Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).



Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables?

When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps.

There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.Most likely you will need to research your comps. We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way.

Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!


- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon:
- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?



Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related, and all going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. You need tension on the page (esp in fiction), at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create (or find them in your nonfiction story) conflict and complications in the plot and narrative.

Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve.

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

If you've taken care to consider your story description and your hook line, you should be able to identify your main conflict(s). Let's look at some basic information regarding the history of conflict in storytelling:

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her.

The above defines classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY. And of course, you need to have conflict or complications in nonfiction also, in some form, or you have a story that is too quiet.

For examples let's return to the story descriptions and create some CONFLICT LINES. Note these come close to being genuine hook lines, but that conflict is present regardless of genre.

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.



Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve. You must note the inner personal conflicts elsewhere in this profile, but make certain to note any important interpersonal conflicts within this particular category."

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?



When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story.

A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier.

Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.


FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.


PostPosted: 14 Feb 2014, 17:37 

Joined: 11 Feb 2014, 02:18
Posts: 1
After climbing out of the chasm of a psychotic break, Krista Bonner is determined to overcome her assassinated husband's ultimate betrayal and forgive the sins of the living while dealing with the dead.

Rejected by her cartel family in Colombia, Olivia Santos arrived in Seattle determined to make her own wealth and a name for herself. Her plan didn’t include an affair with married Bremen Bonner but she’s flexible like that. After all, he alluded to hidden millions. And divorcing his wife Krista to marry her. Who knew that the assassin they hired to kill Krista would miss and blow away Bremen instead? Time for another plan.

Maybe Olivia couldn’t touch a cent of Bremen’s money now. Simple reality in an unpredictable world. But the hired killer and the wife-turned-widow? What to do about them? She’d bide her time flushing out the assassin. Dealing with Krista—top priority. The widow couldn’t be allowed to profit from Bremen’s death. Olivia’s payback to Krista should be slow and painful, though not necessarily involve physical pain—that part would come later. After spending a couple of months in a psychiatric facility, wouldn’t Krista be vulnerable, an easy pawn in Olivia’s game of psychological terror? Now, that was a plan!

~ Ghost Saviors
~ Hidden Saviors
~ Edge of Life and Death
~ Edge of Brave
~ The Sensitive

The genre for my novel is paranormal (ghost) suspense. It's difficult coming up with comparables as I can find no "ghost" or supernatural novels where the ghosts are the helpful ones and the humans are the ones to be feared.

An assassin's bullet kills Bremen Bonner as he pursues his wife Krista outside their Seattle suburb home. His arm reached out to grab Krista when the specially-made bullet disintegrated his head. After a two-month stay in a psychiatric facility, during which Bremen's ghost taunts and torments Krista, she sequesters herself in the Rocky Mountains to continue healing. She questions her ability to make sound judgments regarding relationships, and has also inherited the seven million dollars that Bremen kept hidden from her during their marriage. Soon she discovers that her husband's vengeful mistress Olivia has rented a house not far from her and is engaging Krista in a game of cat and mouse.


INNER: Shortly after arriving at the mountain mansion, Krista finds a ghost with issues (Danny) inhabiting the mansion, and her childhood "imaginary friend" (Owen, also a ghost, who it turns out is Danny's mentor) visiting on a regular basis. She's torn between confusion and joy at her reunion with Owen, and angry that she must fraternize when she expected privacy. As the two ghosts build a tenuous friendship with her and share knowledge from the "other side," her frustration mounts regarding the kind of life she is expected to live, which includes forgiveness toward her husband who died in the act of trying to kill her. She also learns that Danny is her dead husband's father, whom her husband never knew.

SECONDARY: Krista's mother, Raylene--with whom she has a long-standing strained relationship--arrives at the mansion uninvited to further complicate her daughter's life. She's visiting under the guise of concern for her daughter, but truthfully wants to know how Krista can afford to live in such a place, then attempts to coerce Krista into questioning her mental stability so Raylene can obtain guardianship over her daughter and the money. While Krista is in the process of ejecting Raylene from the premises, Olivia shows up and invites the mother to stay with her for a few days.

This conflict is coupled with a nosy, middle-aged, next-door renter--Donna--who drops in at the most inconvenient times. She's too cheerful and exuberant for Krista's tastes. As we learn later in the story, Donna is the assassin who killed Bremen. She shares her motives with Krista and asks Krista to hire her to kill Olivia, as Donna knows of Olivia and strongly suspects of her intentions. Since Bremen (at Olivia's behest) had hired Donna to kill Krista, but Donna spared Krista's life instead, Donna doesn't want to see Olivia now end it.


Though the story begins in rainy, overcast Seattle, Krista Bonner then lands in a psychiatric facility before moving to a semi-secluded mountain mansion overlooking Snowmass, Colorado. She arrives in February. The road leading to and in front of the mansion is winding, narrow and impassable during snowstorms. Although Snowmass and Aspen are relatively short drives away, the frequency of the storms makes them unreachable until snowplows open the road back up. The feeling of seclusion with exquisite beauty embodies the setting.

The mansion itself is over 6,000 square feet and meant to house a maximum of 18 people, but although she is staying alone, Krista feels she needs the room to work out her issues. The home is sumptuously decorated and fitted with amenities that Krista has never experienced--heated wood floors, sheepskin rugs, multiple fireplaces, a lower level playroom including billiard table and pinball machines, gourmet kitchen, and a master bedroom and bath that rivals any five-star hotel. The view overlooking the valley down to Snowmass is breathtaking. The house Krista lived in with her husband in Seattle was 1100 square feet and still wore the same furnishings that they acquired at the beginning of their 10-year marriage.

This manse practically abuts the mountain road in front. In the back a large balcony juts out from the great room and a small backyard extends in a gently sloping area that quickly falls away into an adjoining black diamond ski run. Her neighbor's house to the east (rented by Donna) is close enough that Krista can look out the second-story master bedroom window and view Donna's yard and driveway. The neighbor's house on the opposite side is situated farther away and is all but hidden by a stand of evergreens. The next house beyond that is much smaller--shabby in comparison to the surrounding homes--and is where Olivia lives as a renter. The property across the road from these homes is steeply sloped up and contains ski runs.

Aspen--where Krista shops soon after her arrival--makes her uncomfortable with the wealthy crowds and designer stores. (Her previous shopping excursions were limited to mostly Target and J. C. Penney.) The town's atmosphere grows on her, and becomes her escape whenever she needs to leave the confines of the ghostly mansion. Krista has her first indirect confrontation with Olivia in an Aspen jewelry store. Krista's visit to an Aspen pedestrian mall provides the background for a major story revelation.

PostPosted: 15 Feb 2014, 16:17 

Joined: 14 Feb 2014, 10:06
Posts: 1
Ari Ash

1- Story statement:
Attorney Jordan Cohen races to save her lover and client from a murder conviction, to prove to herself that her lover is not a killer, and last but not least, to save her marriage and the reputation of her prominent husband.

2- The Antagonist:
Dvora Cohen, Jordan's sister-in-law, wants revenge. Two decades after the fact, she stumbles upon an opportunity to ruin the internationally acclaimed pianist Ari Ash. She is going to frame him for murder. She blames the maestro for her rape, which happened when she was twenty years old and in love with him.
Dvora’s life is a mess; her aspirations dashed, her talents wasted, she never married and she is now serves as a lowly secretary in Sam Cohen’s lucrative Tel Aviv law firm. She is also the not-entirely-welcome relative at his home. Dvora could never measures up to her successful and benevolent big brother, or to her beautiful and successful sister in law, Jordan Cohen. A musical protégé in her youth, Dvora is the black sheep of the family.
Dvora is also annoying, self-righteous, crass, and an all-around pain in the ass.
She frames Ari Ash, in order to put the rape behind her and finally begin her real life.

3- Breakout title:
Ari Ash
Who are you, Ari Ash?
Enough Excitement

4- Genre and comparables:
The closest I can describe my book is by calling it a cozy mystery with a little violence and tons of explicit sex.
My new suggested genre: "Sexpense"

5- The Conflict:
Jordan must find out whether her internationally-acclaimed pianist lover and client is a murderer. If she fails, he will go to jail for life. And Jordan’s husband, her marriage and the good name of their prominent law firm, will all be ruined.

6- The Inner Conflict:
a- Is Jordan in love with a killer? Her doubts eat at her while she keeps coming back for more addictive sex. Presumption of innocence has never been harder...
b- Jordan is torn between her need for her oh-so-incredibly exciting love affair and her need to preserve her marriage and her partnership with her best friend husband. After so many years of marriage and monogamy, she desperately wants both...
c- Jordan's fear that her affair will be splashed on the front page of the newspaper can go away if she gives incriminating information on her lover to the police...

7- The Setting:

Tel Aviv. The fast and furious city. The city with great beaches, hot weather, extroverted lust, the city of traffic jams and aggressive assholes. A city of glass and steel and old-world open-air markets.

Jerusalem. The city where a suicide bomber blows himself up on a bus, three cars ahead of Jordan's.

Israel. The modern, western country in which Shabbat dinner is still a very special family time in most homes. The country in which a fascist party is trying to get elected to parliament.

PostPosted: 25 Feb 2014, 19:10 

Joined: 14 Feb 2014, 14:39
Posts: 1
1. restore order to the L Galaxy

2. A dark force lay dormant in the L Galaxy waiting for an opportunity to challenge the All Mighty spirit force for supremacy, when San Cassidine is promoted to Head of the Crown of the planet Mand, the dark forces arise to infiltrate the innocence of the inhabitants of the planet. The Dark forces use Khan Arkan as a pawn in its plight for supreme authority by infusing the deceitful spirit of jealousy which breed hatred into his being setting Khan on a course of unadulterated destruction. Seduced by the Dark Forces khan sets out to destroy San Cassidine. Khan soon begins to manipulate his fellow Mandroids to assist him with his diabolical plans to seize the Crown.

3. Mand, The Crown

4. a. Lord Of The Rings, because of its elaborate and imaginative settings and characters.
b. Star Trek, because of the highly imaginative planets that they visit

5. After seeing ones rise to power, a Droid's jealousy quickly turns to hatred awaking the dark forces that unleash terror throughout the galaxy.

6. The Almighty Spirit Force that governed the Planet Mand was a force of pure love and created all of the planet's inhabitants out of pure love. Love was all the Mandroids knew until one grew disheartened by the elevation of another and begins to challenge the Crown there by challenging The All Mighty Spirit forces supremacy. This deeply sadden The All Mighty Spirit Force, for the natural state of his beloved Mandroids would forever be altered by the Dark forces of the galaxy. The all knowing and all seeing Spirit force knew that the innocence of the planet would be transformed and proceeds to beacon others through the influence and obedience of the Crown to stop the renegades from achieving their goal and maintain his supremacy throughout the L Galaxy.

7. The peaceful and tranquil L Galaxy dwelled in the western corridor of the universe. This male dominated planet called Mand dwelled in the east of the L Galaxy. The exquisite human like inhabitants of the Planet Mand resembled the myth of Adonis.Three enchaining mountains graced the planet none more exquisite than the other. Ice Mountain held its own beauty, it was made of aqua blue crystal ice and a continuous snow fell across it. The crystalized Ice Mountain illuminated across Folson forest which surrounded Ice Mountain. The land of Mand abound with many mesmerizing forests. Trees of many colors filled Ranson Forest. Ranson forest is also where the Tockets grazed, Tockets were huge beasts that the Mandroids used to travel on. While the Mandroids chase the renegades throughout the L Galaxy where they explore mysterious and magical planets.

PostPosted: 04 Mar 2014, 02:54 

Joined: 21 Feb 2014, 11:55
Posts: 1
RL Aseret’s Responses to 7 Pre-Event Assignment:

With the help of her best friends, Princess Clarinda must save her kidnapped mother and her lady-in-waiting from evil Lord Eldwiche

Odious Sir Williferd of the North maneuvers in Tintandel Castle Keep, while the King is in the North Country to fight the dragon threatening the villagers. When the Queen and Lady Tarenna, her Lady-in-Waiting, vanish, Sir Williferd’s thugs overrun the Castle Keep, yet Sir Williferd is nowhere to be seen. Worse yet, Sir Williferd appears to be in collusion with the evil Lord Eldwiche and to have spirited the Queen and Lady Tarenna to Castle Eldwiche, where they are imprisoned and subject to torture until the Queen renounces the king and all attachments to Tintandel. Lord Eldwiche, infamous for his ruthless brutality, orders gibbets built in the Castle Eldwiche arena while Clarinda and her friends work desperately to free the Queen and Lady Tarenna.

Castle Keep
Clarinda: Castle Keep

YA Literary Fantasy, Princess

This is one is tough. While I’ve read books that I thought I could’ve, and perhaps should’ve, written, I’ve never read a book that struck me as like mine or as being written by someone who writes like I do. Thus, this answer is really rough:
Take the 1st two chapters of Eilis O'Neal’s False Princess (before the mushy romance begins), combine it with Sharon Shinn’s Summers at Castle Auburn, add some of the girl in medieval times using her wits elements of Karen Cushman’s Catherine Called Birdy, and fashion it into a quest novel and you’ll have something like Clarinda.

With her father gone to fight the dragon, it is up to Clarinda and her friends to save her mother, the queen, and the kingdom of Tintandel from odious Sir Williferd and evil Lord Eldwich.


inner conflict:
Clarinda’s world is rent apart. Will her parents ever return? Will she be orphaned? Is her childhood over? How can she assume the royal mantle and provide for the people of the kingdom? Can she save the kingdom of Tintandel from Sir Williferd and, worse yet, Lord Eldwich?

secondary conflict:
Her best friend Morwen has always been the bold one, fearless to the point of recklessness, and mocking Clarinda’s superior status. With Morwen and Aaron, her friend and her father, the king’s page, she dares to venture out to save her mother, the queen, and Lady Tarenna, her mother’s Lady-in-Waiting and Morwen’s aunt, but soon Morwen is injured, not once but twice, and no longer leads the way. Clarinda finds herself having to save and subsequently care for Morwen, uncertain whether she can be relied upon. As they surmount challenges, Aaron becomes a closer friend to Clarinda, she finds she knows his step, the sound of his breathing, and is comforted by his presence, knowing she can rely upon him. Can they remain friends? Will she, as a royal princess, be able to maintain a relationship with a page?

The Castle Keep of Tintandel, a tower with more than one staircase—some hidden, some not—used for security in time of war by the royal family, located on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, forming a bay, across which can be seen another kingdom. The keep is surrounded by the castle, which itself is surrounded by the moat. Over the drawbridge, vast parcels of farmland and meadows stretch to steep cliffs on three sides, and on the fourth to rolling hills and distant mountains.

Chittlehamholt Manor, home to Clarinda’s best friend Morwen and her father, Lord @, Lady Tarenna’s niece and brother-in-law, and formerly the home of her dead sister, Morwen’s mother, where Lord @ built Morwen a multi-storied tree house in her bedroom.

Black stone Castle Eldwich rises up out of the sea, the walls of which encompass an entire island connected to the mainland only at low tide, home to Lord Eldwich, containing an arena for vile entertainment, and torture chambers with all manner of pain-inflicting devices.

PostPosted: 04 Mar 2014, 07:12 

Joined: 14 Feb 2014, 04:07
Posts: 1
"Find redemption from a sordid past"

After growing up in a storefront house on King Street in the storied city of Charleston, Myrtle Fleming returned to her family's humble roots, despite her father's disapproval, to marry a local farmer and take over her grandfather's cotton farm. There she experienced the Depression first hand, feeling both the sting of poverty and devastation of disease, losing her young child, Ruth Ann, to the Spanish Influenza. It was the same year that Myrtle's brother, Arthur, died in the first Great War, a loss that had caused her father such grief that he hadn't bothered to come to the funeral of a granddaughter he had never met. Myrtle and her husband sought solace within the strict moral confines of their local church and over the next twenty years brought seven more children into the world, including our protagonist, Carrie Fleming. After losing her husband to a tragic accident, Myrtle moved back to Charleston to care for her ailing mother, despite her strained relationship with her father. This is when our story begins. As a single mother, Myrtle tries to control Carrie's life at every turn, not realizing that she's denying her daughter what they both desire most: love and forgiveness.

1) The Road to Folly Beach
2) The Road to Folly
3) Folly Girl

My novel falls within the genres of woman's literature and historical fiction. My comparables, include:

1) Katharine McMahon - I fell in love with her writing when I read the Alchemist's Daughter. Her keen use of history brought the pages to life without boring the reader with too much information. It's a balance I am striving for in my piece, as I use the history of Charleston and its neighboring Sea Islands to help bring a sense of realism to each page without regurgitating history for the sake of detail. I also love the depth to which Katharine explores the relationships of her characters, which is central to my novel as well.

2) Erin Morgenstern - While I've always loved to write, I began this manuscript through a journey to connect to my South Carolina roots and along the way discovered that our present is often defined by the choices of our past. I think Erin expresses this expertly within the pages of The Night Circus, telling a story in both the past and present, which is similar in the style I use.

Feeling responsible for her father's death, a seventeen-year-old girl from Folly Beach goes to great lengths to seek her mother's forgiveness, but each attempt only leads to further loss and heartbreak.

Inner Conflict: Carrie idolizes her father, feeling from him the love her mother is incapable of expressing, and often follows him around their family's cotton farm. One day when Carrie is nine years old, her mother instructs her to stay near the house so that her incessant chattering will not distract her father as he cuts down an old tree stump in the field. Carrie disobeys and Mama's fears are quickly realized. Carrie excitedly calls out to Daddy to watch as her daisy petals float in the sky, causing him to look up just as his ax is swinging low, resulting in a life-threatening injury to his leg. Over the course of several weeks, Daddy's immobility leads to pneumonia and his untimely death. While Carrie feels responsible for her father's accident, what plagues her most is her mother's inability to forgive.

Secondary Conflict: At seventeen, Carrie has a chance encounter that leads to a secret courtship with Charleston blue blood, Edwin Brynes. Believing a marriage to Edwin will result in her mother's forgiveness, despite her own better judgment, Carrie sleeps with Edwin on the night of their presumed engagement, only to learn that Edwin has no intention of walking her down the aisle. In the two months that follow, Carrie meets Paul Conway, a handsome and confident painting contractor who loves without condition or pretense; but just as Carrie begins to fall in love, she discovers she is pregnant with Edwin's child. After revealing the news to Edwin, he once again turns Carrie away. Distraught, Carrie turns to Paul, who then proposes knowing full well Carrie is pregnant with another man's child. When America goes to war, Paul is shipped off to the South Pacific and Edwin returns home from battle as a man now capable of standing up to his mother's ideals and publicly accepting Carrie's child as his own. Carrie must then decide between her love for Paul and a life she is certain will lead to redemption from her past.

My story takes place in South Carolina's Low Country during the 1930s and '40s, highlighting the effects of WWII on the port city of Charleston and it's scenic sea islands. While my story includes scenes on James Island, John's Island, Mount Pleasant, Monks Corner and Summerville, the primary settings include the following:

Alcolu, South Carolina - My story first depicts this as a town crippled from Depression with cotton farms ravaged by the insatiable boll weevil, though, hauntingly beautiful through the eyes of a child.

Folly Beach, South Carolina - Carrie and her family are one of the few people that live on this narrow barrier island year-round. However, many out-of-towners come for the week or just a weekend to play in the sun. There are beauty pageants on the Boardwalk, fishing contests on the pier, and more than fifteen thousand have been known to crowd the island for a festive Fourth of July celebration. They crowd as many families as possible into a single cottage to "rough it" on Folly's wilderness, laughing about the smell of sulfur in the bathing water and complaining about the gallons of drinking water they had to purchase in town before crossing the bridge onto the island. There is little Carrie Fleming has in common with the vacationers and often feels like an outsider, as isolated as the Morris Island lighthouse, visible from the northeast coast of Folly.

Charleston, South Carolina - It is 1941, and the sleepy port city of Charleston, has awoken to the brink of war. Teems of out-of-towners flood the streets seeking work at the Navy Yard’s protuberant facility along the Cooper River, now headquarters to the Sixth Naval District. Work begins all around the city both in the form of new construction and restoration of Charleston's historic homes. The city serves as both a setting for my back story, as well as the place Carrie frequently visits and eventually moves to once she marries Paul.

PostPosted: 06 Mar 2014, 22:47 

Joined: 06 Mar 2014, 22:18
Posts: 1

Save her life and her heart, as she forgives and seeks forgiveness


The story’s antagonist is a perverse narcissist who, in the name of God’s divine will and waving the Vatican’s flag, abuses men and women, members of the order he has founded. Marcial Maciel is an ordained priest with French and Spanish ancestry, born in Mexico, in 1920. His life intertwines with that of the protagonist, Sofia. He seduces her and convinces her he is the hero and she, his heroine. As many abusive narcissists, Maciel builds bonds with others sucking their sense of security and self; disarming them first in order to, later, convince them that the roles have reversed -- the abusive becomes the victim, and the Narcissist's victims become the abusers. As a consequence, the confusion experienced by his targeted victims, paralyzes them. It becomes the dazzling light over a hunting jeep, blinding and subduing them as preys; even becoming the narcissist's accomplice. Maciel believes himself to be superior and "transfers" his own weakness to his victims. In his "self-created world", he is above the rules. He is a megalomaniac whose image becomes his treasure and weapon; success in his noble goals justifies his actions. In his sick mind, he is determined to create a legacy without measuring the cost.


[English/ Spanish]
The Virgin Who Surrendered (La virgen que se entrega)
Seduction of a Heroine (Seduccion de una heroina)
Lost Journal (El diario perdido)


Historical Romantic Novels -
a) Jerusalem Maiden by Talia Carner
b) The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Authors of both novels create one or more protagonists whose life events and challenges present a serious shortcoming or injustice in society or institution. Concretely, they both illustrate the vulnerability of children and youth when confrontation with an abusive individual and/or system clouds or blinds their judgment. Esther does not question the Orthodox Jewish rules in Jerusalem Maiden, even when it costs her happiness and the fulfillment of her dream; and Vivian Daly, representing one of hundreds of orphans who traveled through the States being offered as cheap labor to families, did not question the injustice.

In my story, Sofia, the protagonist, represents women who at a young age, were seduced by deceitful and abusive man, Marcial Maciel, and by the order he founded.


Level I - After viewing virginity as an ideal to live and preach, Sofia realizes her virginal hero is everything but a virgin, and struggles to reconcile a life of love and the virginity she cherished.


Level II - Sofia is constantly second guessing herself: is she exaggerating, is she ridiculous, is she the strange one or is it the others? We see this from the first scene of the story, where she is looking at a salesperson and zooms into his face and his lips (How long had it been? Had she ever…?). We see it throughout the story, since her potential lover is also deceitful and they wrestle on a teeter-totter of emotional and physical interactions.

Level III - Steven Pendleton, her potential lover, is hiding “other relationships” from Sofia and a series of misunderstandings lead her to think there could be no “normal” scenario for love. In addition, a “recruit” from her past is constantly appearing (generally anonymously), until a final encounter where Sofia almost loses her life.


My story has three main settings: Manhattan (Mid-town and then East Harlem), Monterrey, Mexico (in the outskirts of the Rockies), and a town in Wyoming, which I call Jackson (meant to reflect Jackson Hole). Manhattan and Jackson have their known charms, but within, I use Sofia’s apartment (Manhattan), and Steven’s home (Jackson) as a place of conflict and deceit. It is also where most productive communication, and close to have sex scenes happen.

Monterrey is a bit more intriguing, I believe, since not many people have the unique view of the place that Sofia has (along with those who grew up there in the 70’s, of course). Far from being a large industrial city, Sofia sees it as an enchanted box of memories and love where everything her dad touched turned to gold, and every dream she reached for, came looking for her. I describe it as I remember it growing up: over a hundred cousins within several square miles, thirty first cousins within a quarter of a mile... All sharing a pool, a playground and a tennis court next to an equestrian field. In the evenings and weekends, uncles and aunts would sit outside year-round, tequila or whisky in hand, while the children of all ages plaid cricket, badminton or simply with mud, building a colony of bugs. The older cousins would invite friends so the flirting among them could be an added entertainment. Food was offered in every household and everyone was always fed. No one knew who owned the dogs or the cats, or the horses for that mater. A phone call now and then would let a brother or sister-in-law know that one of their five or seven children was still at someone else's home and he or she was going to be put to bed. In real life, Maciel, the abusive and perverse antagonist in my story, took advantage of that spirit of trust everyone still enjoyed during those decades. It was an immense abuse of trust.

PostPosted: 10 Mar 2014, 23:18 

Joined: 10 Mar 2014, 23:13
Posts: 1
Katie Black

1) Write your story statement

In a country where citizens are controlled and monitored via a next-gen electronic wrist cuff, the adherent teenage daughter of a high-ranking government official discovers deadly corruption in the system and must figure out a way to subvert it, and, by extension, her father, before more innocent lives are lost.

2) In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

Max Maynard: Senior Director of State Intelligence, a branch of the government responsible for the monitoring, enforcement, and protection of Extensional Technology. For such a militant and stalwart man, Officer Maynard has surprisingly humble beginnings. His childhood came in the midst of the Dark Liberation, a time before The Grid, before Extech, when freedom was prized above all else, but at great cost to society. Maynard and his family were homeless. He watched his three siblings die of starvation and disease. Officer Maynard believes that the government’s control over its citizens via the Extech is crucial to a thriving nation, and his ultimate goal is to prevent his wife and children from suffering the same fate as his siblings. When an unknown source (his daughter, Val) begins dismantling his operations, he sees it as a personal attack, and will do whatever it takes to protect the institution that he holds above all else.

3) Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

“The Grid”
“The Great State”

4) Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

My novel, “The Grid,” will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver’s “Delirium.” Both YA science-fiction novels are dedicated to building a strong dystopian world that hinges on both a next-gen invention (in “Delirium,” a “cure” for love, in my novel, a state-of-the-art monitoring cuff) and a main character who struggles with the fact that this supposed “savior” to society might, in fact, be destroying it. Safety versus Choice, conformity vs. rebellion…

“The Grid” also has a militaristic setting, like that of Orsen Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game.” In both novels, the readers follow the main character as (s)he delves deeper into war games, gains experience and insight, and must come up with more and more creative ways to thwart (her)his enemy’s plans. Fans of “Ender’s Game” appreciate its fast-paced, intelligent plot and the nobility of the main character as he sacrifices his own needs for the greater good, and in this way, they will also appreciate “The Grid.”

5) Write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist must be noted or inferred.

When the teenage daughter of a loyal State officer realizes that her government is corrupt and barbaric, she risks detection and subsequent death in order to fight the system from the inside out.

6) Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case—consider the trigger and the reaction. Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

Internal Conflict: Val has lived her life successfully by following the rules and excelling at everything she does. It is the only way she gets attention from her father, who is a hard-nosed militant, and, next to her rebellious older brother and under-achieving sister, has labeled her “the good one.” And for Val, any infraction against The State could get her kicked out of her On-Track (her career track) and ruin the exceptionally bright future gleaming before her. But Val is exceptionally smart, deeply caring, and loyal to her friends and family. When those close to her are getting hurt by the Extech, it is difficult for Val to admit to herself that the government, and those in charge, would insist on something that hurts so many people, but it is also not in her nature to see a solution to that suffering and do nothing about it. Following the rules means personal safety and the life she’s worked so hard for, but it also means injustice, and watching others get hurt by the State-mandated Extech.

Scenario: Val’s brother, whom she’s closest to, whom she respects and who understands her better than anyone, turns out to be a conspirator against The State, and her love for him causes more conflict with her desire to follow the rules.

Secondary Conflict: Val ends up getting close to a boy on her On-Track patrol team. Merron is someone who, had Val met before she decided to help the Wilders (the rebel movement against The State), she would have thought was a perfect catch. He still lives in the dark, still thinks that hunting down the Ratters (people living illegally off the grid) is the right and honorable thing to do. He is a great friend to Val, but if he learns about her secret, he could expose Val as a traitor.

Scenario: On patrol, Val and Merron have caught a Ratter and now have him in custody. Val knows that if they bring the Ratter in, he will be killed, but Merron is with her, and their orders are to bring the man in. She could easily notify the Wilders and have them take Merron and the man, and she could carry on more easily with her missions from thereon out, but it would mean betraying Merron, who trusts her, and risking him finding out the truth and hating her for it.

7) Sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don’t’ simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That’s why you’re here! Start now Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

“The Grid” takes place in the near future (2050ish), in a fictional place (Ryker City), which is the capitol of a fictional country (The Great State). Ryker City is a bustling city where future design consists of sleek, modern buildings that blend effortlessly into the brilliant green landscape. Everything is designed to be maximally efficient; solar panels are built seamlessly into facades, wind turbines create the most of higher elevations, and everything from garbage collection to public transit is streamlined so that the city seems to be running itself, quietly in the background. Unlike today, where technology tends to distance people by replacing real-life socialization with the digital kind, in Ryker City, that kind of technology is outlawed. Everyone seems happy, and there is a real community vibe. People help each other; it almost seems utopian. But, this quiet, placid background makes other things stand out more: the guy who falls to the ground, dead, because his Extech overdoses his Insulin, the kid at school who is swarmed by State officers because he was caught drinking a black-market soda, the guy who flies into a fit of rage when he’s been noted that his girlfriend has followed through on her Extech’s advice to seek companionship with guys who she’s better matched with.

Then, there are the Woods where the Ratters live in secret. These people live in in shacks close to inlets of water, usually far away from one another. The landscape is wild and untamed, yet bursting with animal life that, in the city, seems too placid, and plants and colors that don’t even exist elsewhere. In the Woods, many homes are run on solar, wind, and water power, but the set-ups are camouflaged to blend into the woods. Further from the cities, in places of strengthened resistance, outlawed technology are used as booby-traps for the State Intelligence Patrols that comb the woods hunting for the Ratters: cell phones used to set off buried mines, a group of tvs mounted onto trees, rigged to flash seizure-inducing lights. Sometimes music can be heard, played on speakers hidden in the underbrush, not to hurt, but to remind the patrollers that they are not the disease-ridden barbarians The State wants them to think they are.

PostPosted: 13 Mar 2014, 10:27 

Joined: 13 Mar 2014, 06:05
Posts: 1


Sukh Singh, a Sikh teenager from Punjab, comes of age in Vancouver and assimilates into his new country, after narrowly escaping complicity in the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Baba-Ji, a holy man, who had first endangered then saved him back in India, takes advantage of the now prosperous Sukh. Combatting superstition and tradition, he pursues justice through the courts, only to find he cannot escape his heritage. To find peace of mind, he must battle both his internal demons and the fanatical Baba-Ji.


Baba-Ji, a sevador (holy servant) to Sant Bhrandiwale, appears to be part of a revolutionary movement attempting to establish Sikh home rule in Punjab state in 1984. He takes advantage of the uneducated and superstitious Sikh population in India and throughout the world by promoting his own brand of Sikhism. He establishes gurudwaras from Malaysia to the UK. His enemies are killed or exiled. Preaching holiness, he is a seducer of both young girls and wealthy women. He is venerated by a superstitious following who believe he can magically cure illness and depression. Using his position of spiritual power, he amasses a fortune and maintains absolute control over every activity in the many gurudwaras that he creates.





Comparable works: The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Call It Sleep by Henry Roth


Sukh Singh, a native of Punjab in India is a teenager who comes of age in British Columbia after surviving an attack by the Indian Army against the holy Golden Temple of Amritsar in India. He must find a way to survive as a stranger in a strange land.

Secondary conflicts:
1. Sukh is consumed with guilt for having put his father in danger’s way, resulting in his father’s death. He wants to keep his head down and not cause his mother any grief, but is led into danger by Baba-Ji who involves him with the plotters to assassinate Indira Gandhi.
2. He must survive a harrowing escape through the Mideast to Europe and then on to British Columbia where he succumbs to pressure to assimilate by rejecting traditional Sikh clothing and turban and adopting western dress.
3. He falls in love and marries, only to lose his wife in childbirth. Conflict arises with his mother who forces him into an arranged marriage with a traditional Sikh widow, to care for his infant son. The widow’s grief over the death of her own son propels Sukh into the hands of Baba-Ji, who the widow believes will cure her depression. Sukh had not stepped foot into a temple since the attack on the Golden Temple, and now finds that he must support his wife’s desire to promote Baba-Ji’s new temple in Vancouver.
4. Sukh’s discovery that Baba-Ji is a crook and possibly a murderer and rapist leads him into a legal battle in the court system, over the protests of his superstitious wife.


The story starts in Ludhiana, Punjab, India, in the home of the protagonist’s father, a truck driver. It’s a poor house in a dusty city in the agricultural heartland of India. Action moves on to the Golden Temple of Amritsar, a spectacularly grand structure that is the Sikh version of the Vatican. There, a pitched battle ensues with the Indian Army and a band of revolutionaries that has occupied the Golden Temple.
After a return to Ludhiana, the protagonist flees across Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe, eventually arriving in verdant British Columbia where he attends university. Eventually, the protagonist's legal battle takes him to the south Pacific, Toronto, and London, ending in a court room in Vancouver.

PostPosted: 17 Mar 2014, 18:43 

Joined: 16 Mar 2014, 15:42
Posts: 1

A married father and small town lawyer is surprised by a visit from a daughter he didn't know existed. When she discovers his corrupt dealings with the local racetrack owners, she threatens to blackmail him and destroy the life he has built.


Lana is a young girl with nothing to lose. She hates her mother and is deeply insecure about her lowly station in life. When she tracks down her father, the protagonist, she is frantic with the expectation that he will rescue her from the life she hates. Everything about her repulses Frank and his genteel wife and children: she has acne and bad teeth; she is rude, abrasive and wildly ambitious. With aggravating persistence, she returns again and again to Frank's home and office to demand inclusion in his life. Finally, he offers her a job in exchange for her promise to leave his family alone. Too late, he discovers more of her unpleasant/inconvenient qualities; she is both more intelligent, and far more cunning than he anticipated. In giving her access to his business affairs, he unwittingly gives her the key to his destruction.

No Idea


“American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser
This is a story about class and striving. Frank is like Dreiser’s character George Eastman, about 15 years along. Hard work and connections gained through marriage to a woman from a prosperous family have earned him entry into a world of wealth and respectability. His beautiful, well-bred wife genuinely loves him, and he can’t believe his luck; only the reader is aware of his duplicitous nature. The arrival of his illegitimate daughter soils everything in his new, halcyon world, and drags him back to his working class roots.

2nd Comparable?
Suggestions welcome

The primary conflict is between Frank and Lana. Frank has achieved his wealth and success through ill-gotten gains. He works with his father-in-law, who was a bootlegger and now has interest in the local racetrack. His wife Kathleen is beautiful, the product of a genteel education at an all-girls Catholic school and completely sheltered from the ways in which her men have attained the means to give her such a comfortable life. Frank has a lot to lose: his business, his social status, and his picture perfect family, all of them inextricably intertwined.

As his illegitimate daughter, Lana feels she has a valid claim to Frank’s affection and protection. She is, after all, his biological daughter and half-sister to his children. His family rejects her because she is common, and a disruption to their respectable lives. To appease her, Frank gives her a job. At first, this looks like love and a chance at respectability, but she soon realizes it’s neither. She understands that he is really just trying to shield his family from her. She learns about his business methods and tries to blackmail him.

Secondary conflicts consist of:
1. Lana's interactions with Frank's wife Kathleen, his children, and his business associates, and
2). Frank's interactions with same, and with Alma, Lana's mother.

Inner Conflicts
Characters experiencing inner conflict include Frank, Lana and Frank's wife Kathleen.
1. Frank starts out feeling he is justified in everything: the way he earns a living, his patronizing dishonesty towards his wife, and his rejection of his illegitimate daughter. He eventually sees the error in his thinking, but only grudgingly, after losing the wife and (legitimate) children he loves so dearly. He is not redeemed at the end, merely chastened.

2. Lana's inner world is tumultuous. She has been dealt some bad cards in life, and has become twisted. While she yearns for the love and respectability that other people have, she is extremely vindictive, and her main goal in life is to punish everyone around her.

3. Kathleen's inner turmoil begins when her placid existence is upended by Lana's arrival. After her initial repulsion, she is forced to deal with her own bigotry. As the curtain on her life is pulled back and she realizes how blind she has been, she is tested in many ways. She is the character who is most changed by the end of the story.

Frank’s relationship with his father-in-law, the gentleman gambler/corrupt businessman, is extremely complicated. The man is his boss and the father of his prize of a wife, whom he loves dearly. Nonetheless, the father-in-law is a criminal with ties to the underworld – the bootlegging, union organizing, smuggling underworld that thrives in the symbiotic border communities of Windsor and Detroit – and is therefore dangerous.

The SUBPLOT will consist of this criminal activity, the smoking gun that Lana discovers and uses to blackmail Frank. This will be a huge piece of the story, the exciting “middle” that gives the characters something around which to coalesce.

Lana’s mother – a ghost from Frank’s past, a character from the other side of the tracks – is a minor but important figure. She is a thorn in Lana’s side, and a chorus of moral certainty.


This story is set in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit. The two cities began as a single French settlement before the American Revolution. As the last stop on the Underground Railroad, Windsor was the welcome mat to the land of freedom for escaped slaves. More recently, Prohibition turned certain entrepreneurial types on both sides of the border into partners in bootlegging, with smugglers using the frozen river in winter to drive Canadian whisky to Detroit. This history of smuggling exists as a specter alongside today's legalized gambling industry, which is arguably more stable than auto industry. During the '40s and '50, Detroit was considered the Paris of the Midwest until city officials started tearing down so many of its historic buildings to make way for new construction. Since the 1967 riot, its decline is the stuff of legend, while Windsor remains relatively sleepy.

PostPosted: 17 Mar 2014, 23:45 

Joined: 04 Mar 2014, 21:44
Posts: 1
I have three concepts that I am working on and would like to develop and get feebck on during the conference.

The Corsair Rick Tabb

Story Statement
Hot shot navy pilot and plane must find a new way to survive and thrive

The Antagonist
There are a few antagonists
First, “the system” which looks on old systems as obsolete and free spirits as useless
Second, the challenge of starting new in an unfamiliar world
Third, the intelligent service that is sponsoring the protagonist
Fourth, the enemies encountered in the individual missions.
...I know this is weak and entirely against the principle, but I hope to learn what to do about this and shape it more effectively.

Breakout Title
The Corsair is my title for this book.
It has a double meaning in that it is the name of the airplane featured in the story, but is also the concept of the new mercenary livelihood which the main character develops in the story. It was good enough for Clive Cussler at one point....
It is also important to know that this is the first of a series of adventure novel which each feature an aircraft as one of the characters of the novel. See pitch page.

Genre and Comparables: Techno Adventure-Thriller
Flight of the Intruder Stephen Coonts
The Mercenary Dan Hampton
Arctic Wargame Ethan Jones
The Flying Porcupine Richard Haligon
Quiet OPs LJ Martin
Targets of Opportunity Jeffery S. Stephens
633 Squadron Frederick Smith

The Conflict
Creating a new life out of old things
The challenge of being small in a big world
The adventure of flying fighter planes in dangerous situations

The Inner Conflict
Moving forward in an unfamiliar world
Feeling lost and adrift and finding purpose.

The Setting
Prelim: Washington, DC, Alexandria, Dallas, NAS Fallon, Nellis AFB
Main: The Mediterranean: a deluxe Secret Air Base on Karpathos Island in the Agean
The period is just before and after the Gulf War 1989-1992. The series is set during the period 1989-present. I have all the details worked out and they are cool.

The Sportsman Rick Tabb

Story Statement
WWII vet finds new occupation and must fight kidnappers and big money to save the girl and the virtuous industrialist.

The Antagonist
finding a new life
kidnappers, particularly the sociopathic ex-Marine leader
(a bit of a “ dangerous game” type situation)
the higher level conspiracy: The Morgan capitalists

Breakout Title
The Sportsman is my title for this book.
It has a double meaning in that it is the name of the passenger train featured as a setting in the story, and also a theme of the action throughout. It is also important to know that this is the first of a series of adventure novela which each feature a famous passenger train from the golden age of American Rail travel as the setting of the novel. See pitch page.

Genre and Comparables: Historical Adventure Novel/Modern Western
The Wrecker/Spy/Race etc. Cussler/Justin Scott
Murder on the Minnesota, et al. Conrad Allen
Justified/ The Hot Kid Elmore Leonard

The Conflict
Creating a new life out of old things
Finding out what is going on and saving the girl
Discovering the bigger picture and surviving against a conspiracy

The Inner Conflict
What to do with himself and his skills
Sick of killing from the war: How to not kill in dangerous situations

The Setting
Prelim: Shenandoah, Roanoke, & Abingdon, Virginia, Washington, DC,
Main: The Sportsman passenger train, The Greenbrier Hotel and mountains around it.
Cincinatti Union Terminal and the Netherlands Hotel
May through November, 1947
The series takes place 1947 through 1956

Wolf Pen Branch Rick Tabb

Story Statement
Bored middle aged man playing at private eye gets in deep over his head

The Antagonist
the murderer and the whole drug dealing infrastructure
The illusion of wealth and normalcy shattered by the revelation of the corruption hiding inside the McMansions of East End Middle America (in this case, Louisiville, Kentucky.

Breakout Title
Wolf Pen Branch is my title for this book.
It has a double meaning in that it is the name of the creek where the murder victim is found as well as a wealthy neighborhood. Also, just like the ominous sound of it.

Genre and Comparables: Modern Mystery
Chandler, Hammett, McDonald (Ross and John D.)
Breaking Bad
George Pelicanos
Lawrence Block The Keller Novels

The Conflict
Normal guy living a surface life discovers what is really going on
Must learn fast to save himself and family from deadly adversaries

The Inner Conflict
Bored and lost to purpose and honing

The Setting
In and around Louisville, Kentucky, present day
Middle America at its safest, comfortable, and most banal

PostPosted: 19 Mar 2014, 16:31 

Joined: 16 Feb 2014, 03:45
Posts: 1
AUDREY ROSE- Lori Larson


A girl strives to survive trauma and loss to come out the other side whole and be able to live again.


There are two antagonistic forces in AR. The first is in the character Gideon. Gideon was once a companion in the chalk world. He was banished after actions that caused the kids he led into the chalk world harm. Afraid he is no longer immortal, he devises a way to reenter the magical worlds and regain all of his powers: retrieve the one lost box of chalk Audrey’s grandmother holds. To do this, he decides to use fear as a weapon. He enlists an angry, bullied kid, Jack and encourages him to unleash his hideous monsters on Audrey, promising him the power he does not have in the real world.

The second antagonistic force is Audrey herself. Throughout the novel, she believes the destruction she’s fighting is the work of Gideon, and Jack, unable, and then refusing, to see that she is her own that the war erupting around her is being birthed from her own self-hatred and beliefs of personal damnation.



I need time to mull over other titles. I have been working on the novel with the title being the name of the main character. I find titles challenging. I felt, from the outset of this novel, that AUDREY ROSE was the best title. Obviously, it is better to have more than one choice, but I have yet to come up with two others…I will add and seek feedback as they come to me.

The novel, I believe, fits best in the genre of upper middle grade magical realism. The following two novels are two incredibly well written and successful examples of this genre with the kind of literary language and high concept I aspire to. Both also include elements of darkness prevalent in Audrey Rose.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs- Riggs has created a story in which two very different realities co-exist in the “normal” world and the protagonist, capable of moving between them with fluidity, is caught between the emotional ties found in both.
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut The Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente- I love Valente’s unique and lyrical writing style in this wonderfully imaginative series about a girl who travels between the ordinary and the fantastical worlds that co-exist in her life. What strikes me most about this particular book (the third in the series) is the theme of identity. Is who we “are” an inevitable fate or something malleable, changeable and self-directed? This dilemma, natural for someone of this age, is compounded and confused in Audrey’s story by recent traumatic events, guilt, and shame.


After the death of her mother, which she feels directly responsible for, a girl finds solace and escape in a magical world, only to find herself pitted against dark forces that threaten to destroy everything she has, is, and desires. Meanwhile, in the “real” world, she uncovers the dark family secret her grandmother has been hiding for decades.

Inner Conflict: Audrey’s primary conflict stems from her belief that she caused her mother’s death in the moment she distracted her in the car. After she lies about how the accident happened, the inner turmoil begins to manifest as a feeling of some fundamental change of identity. She is altered, no longer the girl she was at 3:32, but some tainted creature responsible for the death of her mother and the destruction of her family. She, overnight, in two moments she can’t take back, has become a monster. She feels this change in her, sees it in the mirrors she covers and breaks. Her father sending her away is proof he sees it too. She deserves to be punished. She must serve a penance.

Once she begins entering the chalk worlds, there is the question of whether she deserves any of the beauty and wonder they can provide. Or, should she break the rules and attempt to recover her the world she That is if the magical world is real at all and not a hallucination. What if she is simply insane? IT could be hereditary. Her mother was said to be crazy. Her grandmother definitely is. What if Audrey is crazy too? What if Dexter and the chalk world don’t really exist? The stories we tell ourselves about who we are can come to define us, but those stories, many times, may not be based on truths but on skewed perceptions, distorted realities, or outright falsehoods steeped in shame, guilt, and painful self-judgment about events outside our control.

And, lastly, there’s the question that flits around like a moth, at times bothersome, at other times incedental- is any of this real or is she crazy?

Does it matter? The hallucinations (if that is what they are) are, at least, company.

Secondary Conflict: Audrey’s mother told her her grandmother died years ago. At the funeral, Audrey discovers not only is her grandmother alive, but she lives only a few hours away, hasn’t left her house for over twenty years and she and Audrey’s mother had not spoken since Lenore left home at 17. Audrey is stuck in a house with the one person who really holds all the information she desires about her mother and that one person only talks to her cat, basically refusing to acknowledge Audrey at all. She is caught between wanting to be wanted and comforted and, feeling an allegiance to her mother, feeling the need to be angry about whatever happened between them


1. NYC. Before. The novel begins in NYC and scenes are based in Manhattan and in Audrey’s Brooklyn apartment. Audrey’s mother is an artist, and has exposed her to the culture and creative energy of the city. She has raised Audrey to be an individual and independent. Her family’s apartment in Brooklyn is in the lower level of a brownstone and has a small yard her, over the years, mother transformed into an incredible garden.

2. Grandmother’s house. After her mother’s death, the world changes dramatically for Audrey. Things don’t seem as sold, as real as they once did. She has the feeling that if she touched the buildings, they would collapse and show themselves to be only cardboard and paint. She herself is not quite in her body, but floating above it watching the events play out as if watching a movie. Her father falls into a severe depression, closing himself in his room, ceasing to get dressed or go to work or talk to her. And, as hard as Audrey tries to save it, the garden browns and dies. Finally, her aunt intervenes and it is decided Audrey cannot live with her father any longer and must live elsewhere until he is able to care for her. Where she will go is the question. Her Aunt Allison has a business responsibility abroad for three months and until she returns to the states Audrey is told she will be be living with her grandmother, her mother’s mother, a woman Audrey had been told died years ago.

Her grandmother lives in upstate NY, just a few hours from NYC. Audrey had overheard a conversation at the funeral, the first she had heard of her grandmother’s existence, that the woman had not left her house in twenty two years. The house is dilapidated and although Audrey can see a ghost of it- once pretty- it is now decaying and upkeep has been ignored. Inside, it is dusty and all windows have been covered with curtains or brown paper taped to the walls. The old woman, who only holds conversations with her cat, mutters about spies watching the house. Audrey sees her situation as proof she is being punished for causing her mother’s death. Upon exploration of the house, Audrey finds an upstairs hallway of locked doors and in the attic, a trunk with photos of her mother, a black dress and a locked wooden box. Audrey breaks the lock and finds it filled with colored chalks. Unable to consider drawing again, she leaves the box in the attic. The house is strange, too quiet, and Audrey feels herself becoming like just another object settling with dust, like one of the many angel figurines or the faded rug with tangled fringe. Audrey feels numb much of the time, but one day, overwhelmed with grief and rage, she rips down the horrible wallpaper in her room. Beneath it she finds the walls covered with a child’s chalk drawings. She recognizes some of the fantastical images in them from her mother’s paintings. This was her mother’s room. Her mother’s drawings. Done with the chalk in the attic. Audrey soon retrieves the chalk and traces over a cat she has come to call Dexter and talk to in her loneliness because he looks smart and kind. That night he shows up at her window and tells her the chalks can make things real.

3. The chalk worlds. The worlds Audrey creates with the chalk are both dark and beautiful, magical and frightening, hopeful and sinister. There are rules. Dexter must accompany her through the door that opens at night. They must return before dawn. Also, she cannot draw anyone known to her, alive or dead. This is difficult for Audrey. She sees the opportunity to recreate her life, to bring back her mother, relive memories. That is not what the chalk is for, Dexter tells her. And it is not possible. The point is to create something new. As Audrey struggles to try to seek out the beauty and color and wonder she is so starved for, she meets an odd boy who begins to attack her worlds with monsters and an encroaching blackness that spreads and destroys what she builds. She must decide to fight. On the surface it seems to be a fight for justice, but it is really about her right to experience joy and feel free from the trauma of the accident and the oppressive self-hatred associated with her mother’s loss. In fighting the character of Onyx, and ultimately Gideon, the sociopathic influence, she is fighting for herself, for her right to live again.

The encroachment of darkness and taint in the worlds she creates is an external mirror image of how Audrey feels inside.

4. NYC After.

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