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PostPosted: 25 Feb 2016, 01:31 
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Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New York Pitch Conference 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
NYC Pitch 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: 27 Feb 2016, 05:35 

Joined: 21 Feb 2016, 09:25
Posts: 1

A young CEO with Self-Injury and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders battles a sadistic surgeon -- a member of her Board and the son of a man she killed -- to reunite with her soulmate.

A young CEO with Self-Injury and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders is kidnapped by a family conspiracy, unleashing the truth about her mother's murderous past and endangering her soulmate.

While traveling up the west coast during a steamy, romantic post-engagement trip, an ex-spouse and a tsunami compete in ripping two soulmates apart.


Since he was fourteen, he knew something was off – way off. His dad, Zeb Clinton, would have never taken his own life. Not that he really gave a damn – he hated the son of a bitch. No, what really ate at young Harry Clinton was that he now had to go live with his biological mother, and she was even worse than his dad.

To Harry, women existed merely to serve men. They’re to be used – manipulated. After all, he never met a woman who deserved any better. Just like his dad used to say, “Son, it’s either them or us.” Harry found all women to be cruel, uncaring, and selfish. Like a blood clot or a tumor that needed to be surgically removed, women were the catalysts to all demise.

Then he met Diana. She was different. Sweet, innocent, and pure. Nothing like what he was used to. Diana could be perfect, and he would be the one to mold and shape her. He’d teach her things no one else could. Yes, he’d have her someday -- he’d make sure of it.

Having grown up to demanding parents who always wanted boys instead of girls, Lisa always felt inadequate. Nevertheless, growing up, she made sure she was homecoming queen, prom queen, the captain of the cheer-leading squad, and valedictorian. She even received a full scholarship at an Ivy League school, dated the most exclusive guys on campus, and returned to her hometown after obtaining her Juris Doctor degree to be near her ailing, elderly parents.

Lisa quickly excelled as a corporate attorney. After a few years, she changed jobs and met Eric when they were assigned to work together on a major lawsuit. Sensing something special in Eric, Lisa quickly falls for him and seduces him. They eventually marry, but Lisa soon learns Eric will never love her – not the way he loved Diana. It’s the same as before… she can never be good enough.

Not this time. The only way Eric will marry Diana is over her dead body.


REJECTED: Archives from the Big O Series: The Embolus

REJECTED: Archives from the Big O Series: The Consolidation

REJECTED: Archives from the Big O Series: Diana 4-9-1-13-1

Archives from the Big O Series:
Book 1: A Man from her Past
Book 2: A Man amid her Memories
Book 3: A Man of Magnitude


Romance/Erotica Suspense Titles

Trinity Trilogy/Audrey Carlan:

Nolan Trilogy/Selena Kitt:

Crossfire Series/Sylvia Day:
Bared to You
Reflected in You
Entwined with You
Captivated by You

Fifty Shades Trilogy/E.L. James:
Of Grey

Truth in Lies Series/Mary Campisi:
A Family Affair
A Family Affair: Spring
A Family Affair: Summer
A Family Affair: Fall
A Family Affair: Christmas
A Family Affair: Winter

Gabriel’s Inferno Trilogy/Sylvain Reynard:
Gabriel’s Inferno
Gabriel’s Rapture
Gabriel’s Redemption


A young CEO with psychological issues must battle a stalking, sadistic surgeon and face a dark family secret to reunite with her soulmate.


INNER CONFLICT: Her personal torment unknown to those around her, Diana must maintain her façade of a contented, polished businesswoman.


(Book 1) A company merger threatens to rip Diana’s firm apart, and she makes it her personal responsibility to fight for the survival of every job within it, even if it means negotiating with a man who once proposed to her.

(Book 1) Diana struggles to survive after a major bike wreck, bringing her and Eric closer.

(Book 1) Diana can no longer resist the temptation of Eric, and succumbs to their sexual desires.

(Book 1) Having been anonymously threatened, Diana struggles with her own paranoia as she tries to determine who is behind the threats.

(Book 1) Having saved Diana during her stalker’s assault, Eric’s job is jeopardized when the stalker files charges against him prompting Diana to take matters into her own hands.

(Book 2) As Diana investigates her stalker’s past, she is kidnapped by his conspirators and Eric thinks she has left him again.

(Book 2) Upon learning of her kidnapping, Eric must save her with the help of his brother's NSA contacts.

(Book 2) Diana must learn to live with memory loss after a near-fatal head injury resulting from the kidnapping.

(Book 2) Diana must tell Eric the truth – or at least what she thinks is the whole truth – and then try to set him back free for his own good.

(Book 2) Diana must rush to save her family from her escaped stalker, and in turn, learns the whole truth about a deadly family secret.

(Book 3) Diana doubts her own worth when Eric's ex-wife resurfaces during a post-engagement trip up the west coast.

(Book 3) When Eric is missing for days as a result of a tsunami, Diana is forced to find new purpose in life, not realizing he will be miraculously saved and forced to choose between her and his ex.


Books 1-2-3:


Diana was four when she wandered into her parents’ bedroom. Excited that her grandparents were visiting from Oregon, Diana was extremely giddy and curious like little girls tend to be.

Her innocent childhood, however, was about to come to an end. While snooping through her parents’ room, Diana spots her father’s gun. Within moments, she witnesses her grandfather – her mother’s stepdad – fall to the floor, dead, and her distraught mother kneeling at his side. There he lay, in a pool of blood, and Diana soon understands that she’s the one to blame for pulling the trigger.

When Diana’s father learns about the shooting, he and his wife plot to protect Diana with a cover story that the grandfather took his own life. Years pass, but Diana’s mother is never able to put that day behind her, nor does she ever forgive Diana for ruining her life.

• Raised in Owensboro, Kentucky, a progressive mid-sized town on the banks of the Ohio River.
• Her mother is originally from Oregon and possesses strong family ties. Her father is a Vietnam veteran.
• Attended large public university in Kentucky.
• She loves animals, and is particularly fascinated with zebras and giraffes because of their ability to survive from birth, and their spots/stripes. She also loves to collect antique surgical artifacts.
• Her psychiatrist’s office is in Tampa, and is decorated in bright, tropical, cheery colors and greenery. She suffers from self-injury and obsessive compulsive disorders.
• A CEO with a surgical institute with clientele in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, she’s lived in Florida for fifteen years and has obtained her MHA and MBA. Purchasing a home on a short sale after the housing collapse, she lives in a gated community and has remodeled her home. Her backyard contains a pool, luscious palms, wax myrtles, and citrus trees.
• Her semi-high rise office building is in downtown Orlando, down the street from a favorite sidewalk café/pub. Her large corner office is decorated with her surgical artifact collection, memorabilia from her alma mater, and a dog bed (for her faithful beagle companion, Sigmund Freud, who stays with her at work throughout the day). Her Board of Directors consist of a diverse group of investors and surgeons, both male and female and of various ethnic backgrounds, who meet in a swank conference room lined with portraits of past and present surgeons of significance. Her second in command and only friend is a recently married, persistent, and extroverted Cuban-American female.
• In the age of healthcare reform, regulations, and cyberattacks, a corporate merger poses potential job loss and internal strife for her surgical institute.


Never knowing what he did wrong, Diana turned down his marriage proposal three weeks before college graduation. Eric has spent the last fifteen years trying to forget her. To fight his loneliness, he married Lisa but it only lasted a couple of years.

• Raised in Spencer County, Indiana, a small farming community located on the Ohio River with small town values. Very close to his mother and large family. His father is dead, and was a Vietnam veteran.
• Attended a large public university in Kentucky.
• Now a successful corporate attorney with a large healthcare conglomerate based in the south central United States, Eric’s just recently transitioned from Louisville to Orlando, temporarily staying in a swank corporately owned penthouse. His high-rise office in Orlando overlooks Lake Eola. His second in command is a loyal confidant named Nathan.
• Eric is very close to his brother, Toby, who works as a campaign strategist in Washington, D.C..

Other locations:
• Kiawah, SC
• Washington, DC
• Olympia, WA


Conspirators within Peterson's family clan kidnap Diana. Bound in the back of a cargo van, they travel from Olympia, WA to Ontario, Oregon, Ogden, Utah, and Omaha, Nebraska, to an old family bunker stockpiled with guns and ammo.

Eric, his brother Toby, and their new-found friend, Steve, set on the trail to find Diana, using the help of local authorities and Toby's NSA contacts in Washington D.C.


Diana and Eric take a steamy and romantic post-engagement trip (starts in Oceanside, CA) up the Pacific Coast Highway. They wrap up their three week vacation with a work conference near Olympia, WA, where Eric's ex-wife Lisa is a guest speaker. While Lisa is trying her best to tear them apart, a 9.0 Cascadian subduction zone earthquake launches a tsunami. Eric must choose between Diana and Lisa.

• West Coast – Pacific Coast Highway from southern California up to Washington State; various scenic and tourist attractions and activities (e.g., kayaking/snorkeling; national parks; famous architecture; aquarium; Alcatraz)
• British Columbia (hospital room only)
West Baden/French Lick, Indiana

PostPosted: 27 Feb 2016, 20:02 

Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 19:27
Posts: 1

#1: Unravel a decades-old art world mystery to help the museum keep a valuable painting.


#2: Thomas Langdon, the weak-willed and dissolute grandson of a famous artist, becomes the face of a scheme to defraud the museum of a valuable painting to alleviate the massive debts and bad choices that threaten to destroy him. Margo Rukeyser channels anger over her late husband whitewashing the artist’s history and leaving her in a precarious financial situation to devise the scheme to defraud the museum. She uses her insider status to keep tabs on the museum’s investigation and pass info onto her co-conspirators, directly jeopardizing the safety of several characters. Arkan Ludovic is a vicious crime lord to whom Thomas owes a massive debt. Arkan will brutalize anyone he must to achieve his financial goal and will resort to physical attacks, intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder to get what he wants or to shield himself from exposure.


The American Salome

Painted in Treachery

A Stroke of Blood


1) The Lincoln Letter by William Martin
2) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


#5 A crafty lawyer scrambles to help a museum keep possession of a highly valuable lost masterpiece when a conspiracy fronted by an artist’s dissolute grandson attempts a bold fraud.


#6: The pressure of the potential disaster of his employer losing a valuable asset blinds the protagonist to betrayal by someone he trusted. The protagonist also navigates his growing romantic interest in his guarded colleague and then deals with her surprising revelation that puts their connection in significant jeopardy.

The crime lord who has seized control of the conspiracy subjects the protagonist to an increasingly dangerous barrage of attacks aimed at dissuading him from continuing his quest to prove the legitimacy of the museum’s claim, with some brutal consequences for the protagonist and people close to him.


#7: The setting is a major art museum in New York City. The impact of the potential loss of a valuable painting on the museum is a primary driver of the plot. New York and its surrounding areas are key sub-settings. Significant sequences occur in an insular neighborhood at dusk with two violent criminals in pursuit of the protagonist and a darkened Long Island beach house that becomes the site of a violent confrontation. Flashbacks to the Bohemian art scene of New York in the pre-World War II period are also key to the plot. Other sub-settings include: an interview at a Westchester estate; a reception at New York’s Italian consulate; the crime lord’s seemingly unassuming base of operations; and a quiet condo complex on the Delaware coast that serves as the backdrop for a violent confrontation.

PostPosted: 28 Feb 2016, 03:57 

Joined: 28 Feb 2016, 03:40
Posts: 1
Working Title: Reshner's Royal Ranger
by Julie C. Gilbert

1st Assignment – Story Statement:
Terosh must go on a dangerous journey to prove he’s more than a pampered prince.

2nd Assignment – Antagonist Sketch:
Princess Mavis Altran’s refusal to accept an arranged marriage resulted in her being disowned, so when her older siblings were murdered, the throne passed to her little brother. She wants it back, and she’s willing to manipulate, beat, bully, or kill anybody to place her son on Reshner’s throne. Only her brother, his two sons, and the Rangers stand in her way.

Mavis allows her son, Kezem, to deliver many of the orders, but she’s definitely the power behind him. She’s fiercely proud of Kezem, but she also knows he needs guidance. Kezem has Prince Taytron’s secret wife killed and his daughter kidnapped. Mavis arranges for Taytron and King Teorn to be lured off planet and murdered, but while that plan is still forming, she observes her other nephew’s journey, not sure of how to handle him. Much to her delight, he falls in love with his Ranger guardian. If they marry, the Ranger council will be forced to meet, giving Mavis a chance to destroy them, so she works to give Prince Terosh the idea that he could lose his beloved if he doesn’t marry her quickly.

3rd Assignment – Breakout Title:
Breakout Title Possibilities:
Anotech Chronicles: Royals, Rangers, and Revenge
Anotech Chronicles: Reshner’s Royal Ranger
Anotech Chronicles: Kingmaker

4th Assignment: Genre and Comparables:
Genre: YA Scifi/Fantasy
Comparable titles:
1. The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan – about an apprentice growing up, saving a princess, falling in love, etc
2. The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill – about a fiery young woman whose father is killed in battle, so she must now forge alliances and become the queen of the Icemark and save her people.

This story’s similar in “feel” to these works. Regardless of the plots and plans swirling around them, it’s about a prince trying to prove himself and a Ranger trying to save the prince from himself and anything else that would threaten him.

The Ranger’s Apprentice series has a variety of dangers for the young hero, Will, to face. During the course of the novels, Will grows up, learns new skills, falls in love, etc. In my story, we have a prince and a Ranger going on a journey called the Kireshana, which is the last trial given to those joining the Royal Guard. Along the way, they face dangers from the weather, people with their own agendas, and diseases that only they can combat.

Cry of the Icemark has a strong teenage girl suddenly being thrust into the role of queen. That doesn’t happen until much later, but both Thirrin (Cry of the Icemark) and Terosh (my story) have a great need to prove themselves. They’re burdened with leadership, so part of their journey is discovering how they react to the pressures put upon them.

5th Assignment – conflict line:
Primary Conflict: A prince and his Ranger guardian must navigate the perils of a physically demanding journey complicated even more by his aunt’s efforts to regain the throne.

Secondary Conflict: Prince Terosh and his Ranger guardian are falling in love, which is frowned upon by his social circle and outright forbidden by hers.

Inner Conflict: Prince Terosh must reconcile his duty to the planet as a whole and his duty to his own heart.

6th Assignment – Inner conflict for protagonists:
Prince Terosh and Ranger Reia Antellio are drawn together by the trials in their shared journey. That bond turns into love, presenting them with a problem because Rangers and royals aren’t allowed to marry. The Rangers prohibit such matches because of a tragedy long ago. One or both will need to leave the social stratus they’re comfortable with to pursue their love. There’s a scene right about the time when the long journey ends that they’re parting ways for a while. The prince is returning to the palace and the Ranger decides to stick around the city and help out where she can. Terosh practically proposes and Reia finally admits she loves him. She leaves her weapon with him, symbolically saying she’d consider him a suitor, but tells him to think carefully about moving their relationship any further forward.

They both feel turmoil because one or both will need to completely change their identities in order to be with the other. She’s only known how to be a Ranger, and he’s been raised and trained as a prince. Love conquers all, but how does it do with the day to day details? They’re love is strong enough that they’re both willing to entertain the idea of such massive life changes, but they’re not sure what that entails until Reia gets kidnapped. The danger puts things in perspective.

What creates the stage for the secondary conflict is their vastly different social situations. Being a prince comes with many strings and expectations attached. Terosh is the younger prince, but he’s still expected to marry well, produce heirs, and help his brother rule the planet. Reia’s role as a Ranger healer has made her a survivor. The Rangers are her family as much as her friends and mentors, but she also knows she’ll face rejection if she chooses to love Prince Terosh.

7th Assignment: Setting the Scene:
Reshner’s a planet located on the edge of its galaxy. By all accounts, it shouldn’t be inhabitable, but it’s infected with sentient machines called anotechs. These machines have made one continent habitable to humanoid species. There are two subsets of anotechs that self-identify as Light Ones and Dark Ones. They have different philosophies about how to best take care of the lives in their charge. Light Ones want to comfort and protect, while Dark Ones want to create enough conflict to drive people to be stronger.

In general, the weather patterns are somewhat erratic, and the physical environment presents travelers with several types of challenges. While most days are mild and temperate, every three months or so, acid storms rage across the continent. Huge windstorms also batter buildings and people from time to time. A species of small digging mammals create many tunnels through farmland, but when they move on, the ground breaks down, leaving behind graveground, which can also turn into flashfloods if a storm collapses graveground. Miniature earthquakes called maws occasionally split the ground then snap shut on whatever’s been unfortunate enough to fall in.

Lord Kezem, one of the main antagonists, is mostly seen in one meeting or another in his enclosed office or in a dungeon. Plotting is tedious, dark work, and his environment reflects that. Conversely, Reia and Terosh spend much of their time together camping out under the stars and journeying by foot across this big, beautiful world. They bravely face the dangers they can see, but they’re completely oblivious to the hands pulling the strings behind some of the dangers they’re confronted with. In a way, the journey shows us a little of their collective naivety. Lady Mavis Altran, Kezem’s mother, is often seen in other people’s spaces, not her own lair. This too shows us something of her. She wants to be in the palace, and she wants to help her son claim the throne.

Several prosperous cities have sprung up around the habitable continent, centering on Rammon. Much of the central land is farmed but enough remains wild and full of flowers to add to the natural beauty of the place. Although there are several mountain ranges, the story features mostly the Riden Mountains. This is the territory most familiar to Reia. It’s been her home for much of her life. We see her comfort level when she explains the various healing herbs to the prince. The mountains are strong, noble, but also wild, free, and dangerous.

There’s one scene where Reia and Terosh decide to grow a healing plant that can only be found on one peak of the Riden Mountains. At the time, they’re in the middle of the plains, trying to help a farmer whose entire family has been stricken with a deadly disease. They take over his barn and create the cold, miserable conditions needed to grow the plant. In the process, they risk their lives, a noble but foolish thing to do. As one of the first major times, Terosh and Reia are utilizing the anotechs, the scene’s pretty important. The turning point in them is illustrated by the manipulation of the weather in that microenvironment of the barn.

PostPosted: 01 Mar 2016, 05:44 

Joined: 01 Mar 2016, 05:33
Posts: 1
Hi! Here are the seven assignments for Chaebol, the book I'm going to pitch in March!
Eileen Sharp (and Alyssa Auch--my co-author)

1) Story Statement

Chase’s life has begun to resemble one of the quirky Korean dramas her mother is obsessed with. Her blind date with Korean heartthrob Daniel Bak was surprisingly successful, but his handsome roommate Hyun Tae seems to always be there when things go wrong, making her choices very unclear.


2) Antagonist

KimBio grew from a small drug company that sold aspirin to a leader in pharmaceutical research. Ahn Jung Ho was there every step of the way, respectfully working under Kim Soo as his right-hand man. He did all the dirty work while Mr. Kim provided the respectable face of the business for thirty-five years. Yet Ahn Jung Ho will never be more than an over glorified lackey, reaping a semi-generous salary without any of the power. When Mr. Kim’s arrogant young son decides he’s ready to take over the company, Ahn Jung Ho knows that he can outsmart the naive rich kid. With a well-placed mole at a competing research facility at a California university, he swipes the research and prepares to push KimBio to the next level. The board will see his obvious skill and for the sake of the company, appoint him as the new chief executive officer. Making it even easier, the kid falls for a girl who is also dating a well-known Korean pop star. It’s like a scandal on a silver platter, and he isn’t going to say no. If anything, he’s going to shine the brightest spotlight he can on the stupidity of Kim-Bio’s would-be heir.


3) Title
The Art of Love, Korean Style Like Barbeque


4) Genre: Contemporary Romance

*Jane the Virgin developed by Jennie Snyder Urman--Although this is a television show based off of a television show, it is a comparable proof of concept for taking plot points and motifs from a famous genre (telenovelas) and translating them into a contemporary adaptation for American audiences. Jane the Virgin uses drama and intrigue common to telenovelas, but freely admits that it is all in good fun, while still delivering a believable and moving story to drive the central plot. Our book does this very same thing, but we are adapting Korean Dramas into literary form.

*Austenland by Shannon Hale--Created with Pride and Prejudice in mind, this novel succeeded in delivering the unique romantic aspects of the classic Jane Austin book into a modern setting. Readers were allowed to relive all the best plot devices and sweet but simple interactions, but in a relatable time period and format. In this way, our Korean Drama adaptation was made not only to bring all the best parts of the popular television series to fans who already love them, but also to draw in new audiences who crave something fresh and exciting.


5) Conflict

Hyun Tae is poised to inherit his father’s successful company KimBio when the time is right. But suspicious activity from the company has sent him to Riverside, California, where crucial research is being threatened by his own father’s power. Tired of the abuse of privilege demonstrated by his family, Hyun Tae is determined to keep them from dirtying the company in any way he can.

But then Chase stumbles into the thick of the corporate espionage, and now he must protect not only the company, but this strangely intriguing trouble magnet who has unwittingly placed a target on her back.

6) Inner Conflict

Hyun Tae is trying to protect his family’s company but Daniel’s girlfriend tripped into KimBio’s research theft and now he has protect her by pretending she is important to him. But she is afraid of losing Danial, so she sneaks away with him and they get caught by paparazzi, making everything fall apart

Chase dreams of becoming an animator, but a drastically different life with Hyun Tae has presented itself. He must stay in Korea to ensure the success of his father’s company, but it might mean giving up her artistic dreams. Standing on the rooftop, with his plea to join him in Korea hanging over both their heads, she is at a crossroads. She has an offer for an internship already awaiting her in California. Her parents saved every extra dollar to send her to Italy to study and refine her skills over the summer. Her whole world is at Bates University. Or, it’s standing right in front of her, dressed in a well pressed suit and nervously awaiting her decision.
7) Setting

Set in current day at a research university in California, and in Seoul, Korea, where Hyun Tae must confront his family.

The daily pressure of keeping up with academic studies at a university combined with a distracting romantic entanglement keep Chase on her toes. The California weather makes her unprepared for winter in Seoul, where it is as cold as the eastern United States.

Hyun Tae’s beautiful college home is nothing like her apartment, and he has no idea how to share a room with anyone because he’s never had to. Just stepping across the threshold of the Korean house is like being in a another world. Luxury and privilege insulate him from the typical college experience, and he doesn’t seem to mind.

His home in South Korea is just as lavish, and only a short drive away from the heart of the beautiful city of Seoul. From his father’s manufacturing plant, to sumptuous parties and the board room, Chase is always out of her element.

PostPosted: 01 Mar 2016, 07:06 

Joined: 28 Feb 2016, 18:54
Posts: 1
Submitted by Juliet Purvis (writing as Juliet Kees):

1. Act of Story

Madison Pierce wants nothing more than to retain her comfortable status quo after her wealthy father is sent to prison for fraud. Her mother has other ideas. Will Madison choose the easy life of wealth she has always known or will she discover a nobler version of herself?
(This novel contains a crucial subplot, with its own parallel act of story):
Maelyn Chayana, a simple village girl in Southeast Asia, looks forward to her promised education in the city. As her once-stable family crumbles, she learns that her father’s plans for her are nothing more than marriage to a rich old man. Will Maelyn be able to forge a life on her own without being consumed by the forces that threaten an unprotected young woman?
The two women’s lives intertwine explosively, and how each one responds will alter her life dramatically.

2. The Antagonist

Madison’s antagonistic force is her mother, June. Though June raised Madison in unexamined luxury, she now regrets her daughter’s detached, self-protective response to life. June is determined to force Madison to face reality, and since June holds the purse strings, Madison has no other choice. Because June was also raised in a world of wealth, she understands her daughter’s way of thinking, but June has undergone her own internal journey since her husband’s arrest and conviction. She is determined that Madison will not miss the opportunity to do the same.
Maelyn’s antagonist is her father, a self-consumed alcoholic. He is driven by the pursuit of pleasure and money, happy as long as both are adequately available. When his business fails and he learns he did not receive an expected inheritance, his true nature is seen: cold and opportunistic. Maelyn becomes nothing more to him than a potential bride for a rich man, a way to make him more money. Maelyn must either acquiesce to his demands or flee from him, but she is wholly unprepared for what she will face when she chooses to run.

3. Title
The Rich Man's Daughter (current working title)
Cities Unaware
Blessed are Those who Mourn

4. Comparables

Genre-- Literary

Empire Falls by Richard Russo:
Similar to Empire Falls, my story is also highly setting-driven. The main character, Madison, is similarly stuck in the city she was raised in and must make sense of a place she never intended to stay. In this case, it is not a crumbling town in Maine but Houston, one of the country’s largest and yet largely unknown cities. Madison must also make an internal journey of discovery, as did Miles Roby. Like Miles, her journey includes relationship with a host of diverse characters that help to further clarify the setting. The story of a secondary main character is also told through memories, like Miles’ memories of his mother, which also lead up to a surprising discovery.

2. The Secret Keeper[i] by Kate Morton: character with an unclear identity that resolves in a surprising way; multiple story lines, including memories, that move between time periods; "book club factor" due to subject matter of human trafficking

3. [i]All the Light We Cannot See[i]: prose style

5. Conflict Line

Madison, a privileged young woman, is forced by her mother to face reality after her father’s imprisonment, but reality turns out to be far worse than she imagined when her life intertwines with another woman in desperate circumstances. Madison must decide if she will turn her back on the woman, leaving her to suffer, or put herself in jeopardy and offer help.

6. Two More Levels of Conflict

1. Inner conflict—Madison deals with difficult situations primarily through avoidance, a tactic that she has used in response to her father’s imprisonment. When her mother forces her to attend a support group for fellow children of incarcerated parents, the group leader no longer allows Madison to avoid dealing with her father. This forced inner examination causes Madison first to flare up in protective anger, but once her anger is spent she cannot ignore the sadness and confusion that quickly follows. How is she supposed to feel about her father now, especially when she is not clear on how she felt about him before his downfall?
2. Secondary conflict—Madison wants to protect herself by holding herself apart from relationships, but she finds herself very lonely as a result. She has options for friendship which include her support group, which she doesn’t want to be at; a childhood friend named Amber, who offers Madison a picture of the possibility of the easy life of wealth; and a high school boyfriend, who comes back into her life and wants to give love between them another chance. While she is initially reluctant to open herself to any of them, she realizes she must risk being hurt or accept loneliness instead.

7. Setting

Post-Enron Houston—the city that everyone finally looked at to figure out how “something like this” could happen; hot and muggy, with nothing going for it, but somehow grew into the fourth largest city in the country.

The expensive world of the oilman—Madison’s childhood home, sumptuous in every detail; the posh office of the president of an oil company.

The basement of a Lutheran church near downtown, in a city where you simply can’t dig basements—dank and cold and filled with flimsy metal folding chairs and the place where Madison is supposed to bare her soul to complete strangers.

A small, dirty clapboard house in a small town in East Texas where Madison learns her father was raised.

The House of Pies, an unassuming diner where the support group members go to hang out after group, to Madison’s surprise and delight.

A small oil services firm where Madison finds a job as a technical writer, filled with a quirky mixture of typically Houstonian people.

A rural village in Southeast Asia where Maelyn grew up.

The one-bedroom apartment where Maelyn now lives with a roommate, attached to a courtyard where Maelyn goes to remember her life when it was hopeful.

A small Asian grocery store near Maelyn’s apartment, presided over by the hulking and taciturn Pete, where Maelyn goes every week to buy the meager bag of groceries she can afford.

PostPosted: 01 Mar 2016, 22:13 

Joined: 01 Mar 2016, 21:42
Posts: 1
The Absolutes by Kayla Hardy-Butler

Forced to compete in the games of mad gods known as the Absolutes in order to restore a ritualistic, far too brief era of peace, a young summoner named Thea Silver must navigate a series of three bloody tasks known as the Trial of Beckoning.

Initially the enemy that opposes Thea and all of Veileyne are the Wild Hunt. Known as a spectral army infamous for leveling royal cities and peasant villages alike, the Wild Hunt is unleashed upon Veileyne after the sacred thirty years of peace known as The Amity passes. But when the Wild Hunt begins to assist Thea in cryptic ways, she soon suspects that Veileyne’s true enemy is its reigning gods, the Absolutes; she soon uncovers the Absolutes’ carefully placed veneers of piety and righteousness that mask cruel and unthinkable agendas.

As the reigning victors of an eons old immortal clash, the Absolutes expect unflinching servitude. Desiring to permanently enslave mortal kind, the Absolutes engineer the perfect scenario: by sentencing their fallen immortal brothers—the Abstracts—into plaguing Veileyne in the form of the Wild Hunt and cursing the summoners into challenging them, they succeed in establishing their part in a war that they helped to create.

Thea quickly discovers that in defying mad gods that refuse to be reasoned with, terrible consequences await her every good deed.


The Absolutes
The Summoning Season
Season of the Summoner

Genre: Young Adult (mature)Fantasy
Comparables: The Absolutes will delight fans of Marie Lu’s The Young Elites because of the shared nature of unconventional heroes shunned from society and Megan Whelan Turner’s The Thief for its mix court intrigue and cunning gods.

Thrust into an immortal war, Thea must choose which to do: complete the summoning of the Absolutes or sacrifice her soul to stop their games forever.


As the illegitimate child of an absent king and a deceased summoner mother, Thea is neither fully royal nor magical, but a resentful halfling. When refusal means the early onset of irreversible madness known as Lady’s Lunacy and winning means total sacrifice, Thea learns there are no fair rules in the games of mad gods.

But when the promised thirty year peace her mother sacrificed for is abruptly cut in half by the arrival of early plagues and anomalies, summoners are quickly rounded up for their trials. And when Thea’s dead mother shows up quite alive but inflicted with Lady’s Lunacy, Thea finds that she must test her beliefs and retrace her mother’s steps even if it means challenging centuries old doctrine. But she must face the most harrowing truth: in order to win the title of Arch Summoner the winning summoner's life must be sacrificed.

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?

Thea is joined on her journey by two unlikely companions: her half brother, Henryk Silver whose prejudice against her kind continually tests their newly formed familial bonds and by a young blind mercenary, Thane Alexander, whose attraction to Thea complicates his own family secret—his ill fated father committed suicide after serving Thea’s mother on her trial, a fact that he just cannot seem to let go.

The farther Thea progresses in her trial, the more she realizes her life has drawn a disturbing parallel to her mother’s: while her mother, Thalia, was accompanied by two men that loved her dearly—Henryk and Thea’s father and Thane’s own father—Thea is accompanied by both men’s sons. Scared that she will make her mother’s same mistakes, Thea has no choice but to follow her mother’s old path in order to expose counterfeit doctrine.


The novel is set within the world of Veileyne known informally as “the Veil”. Rife with creatures known as fiends, as well as the Wild Hunt, an army of rejected gods and the most fearsome of fiends, the landscape is both fantastic and dangerous. The Void, the mysterious realm of the immortals provides a direct parallel to Veileyne. Largely drawn from a tangle of European folk myth—of both Greek and Western European lore—the narrative is rooted in a mix of mythical tradition.

PostPosted: 03 Mar 2016, 01:55 

Joined: 03 Mar 2016, 01:46
Posts: 1
1- The population of the Sierra del Escambray revolt against the new system imposed on the nation. The armed uprising lasts three years.

2- The rebels believe freedom is best described as the right of the individual to own property acquired with honest work and to conduct business. The right to worship is a given.
The proponents of the new system believe all businesses and properties should be in the hands of the government and managed by whom this government appoints. It is fine to take away property from its lawful owners in the name of the people. Religion is quackery and should be stamped out.

3- Challenge in the Escambray

4- James Clavell: Shogun, Gai-Jin, King Rat
Wilbur Smith: When the Lion Feeds, The Burning Shore, The Sound of Thunder
Leonardo Padura: El Hombre que Amaba a los Perros, Herejes

5- The two sides fight each other without mercy. Both are convinced of the rightfulness of their cause. Initially the rebels are convinced they are going to win, an American-backed invasion made of Cuban exiles in U.S. is about to hit the beaches. It turns out the invasion fails and soon they find themselves in an uphill battle.

6- The rebels are represented by various characters with their own inner turmoils:
Elpidio García’s family loses most of the holdings with the government’s expropriations.
Luis Muriel’s father is executed by firing squad. He left his pregnant wife in Miami to go fight in the Escambray.
Néstor Obestein is a Cuban born jew who joins the invading 2506 Brigade against
his family’s wishes. He has to leave Asela behind, the woman who saved his life.
Rosa Ferrero’s father died fighting the ones who are now in power. She is a closet

On the other side of the fray, Antonio De la Huerta mourns his brother’s death at
the hands of the rebels. He believes they are the same kind of people that killed
his revolutionary father back in the thirties. He is also mortified by the army’s
apparent inability to eradicate the rebels from the Escambray.

7- The Sierra del Escambray’s peaks, mountain trails, lush greenery; Trinidad, one of
the oldest cities in Cuba with its cobblestoned streets and Spanish colonial
homes. The Florida Everglades, Miami, the training camp in Guatemala’s jungle, the Caribbean Sea.

PostPosted: 03 Mar 2016, 05:10 

Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 05:16
Posts: 1
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Survive in royal court and save the life of the bastard child.

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.

Rumpelstiltskin is an evil, powerfully magical spirit who cannot live without a host. He commands the host’s body, but if the host’s will is strong, he has to fight every moment to maintain control. Rumpelstiltskin’s current host is too strong, and the constant fighting is killing them both. He desperately needs his replacement, and, because he knows that Sepha is the Witch, he believes that her child will be the perfect host. The product of a magical lineage, the child would be his most perfect vessel, so Rumpelstiltskin is determined to get it, regardless of the magical laws he might break along the way.

Rumpelstiltskin has been influenced by the many children he has possessed, and is restless, inattentive, self-centered, and ruthlessly manipulative. He appears innocent at times, but can be cruel and terrifying. When he loses control over his host, his appearance morphs into that of the child he inhabits.

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

The Gilded Wheel
Persephone, Witch
Strongest of Them All

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel.

Genre: Fantasy

The Sleeper and the Spindle (2014) - Neil Gaiman
I won’t dare to compare my writing abilities to Neil Gaiman’s, but, as a dark reimagining that combines two familiar fairy tales, my book should appeal to the adult fans of The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Daughters of the Storm (2014)- Kim Wilkins
This story, told in a fantasy setting, follows complex female characters as they fight to save the life of their father the king. It seems to have many similarities with my story (strong female characters, reverses the "damsel in distress" trope, at least one life is at stake, told in fantasy/magical setting), and so it might appeal to the same audience.

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.

After being thrust into a life-or-death situation with only one way out, Sepha must find a way to save her coming child from the clutches of the terrifying imp-man.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment.

Sepha (short for Persephone) struggles to overcome the results of a lifetime of abuse at the hands of her father, which causes her to doubt herself at every turn and lash out unexpectedly. She feels guilty because of her promise to Rumpelstiltskin, and slightly less guilty because of her affair. She is afraid that she will be found out as a fraud and an adulteress, and when she becomes pregnant, she is terrified that she will be unable to save her child from the imp. She trusts no one but her lover and would do anything for anyone who gave her unconditional love, although she would never put it that way. She feels pathetic when she discovers that, although she is the Witch, she is unable to control her powers.

Sepha is surrounded by people she cannot trust: Thuban, the king’s right-hand man, who has threatened her and everyone she cares about; Isolde, her mentor, who has made it clear that she is more loyal to the king than to Sepha; the king himself, who attempts to rape her on their wedding night, and is cruel to her thereafter; and courtiers who would love for her to fail. If any of these people discover her affair, she will be executed for treason. The imp-man appears at intervals to remind her of her debt to him, and to threaten what will happen to her if she fails to come through on her end of the bargain.


FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

Larger world: Detenia has just defeated Tirenia in the latest of a long series of aggressions. Before long, war breaks out in earnest. Witches are common, but secretive. Magic is seen as dark and mysterious, and it is believed that there is no such thing as a good witch. People distrust magic and tap their elbows to bless themselves against it. The story takes place in a world similar to our own, in a time similar to our own medieval era. Significant differences: ethnic diversity and equality, real magic, existence of creatures like dwarves, giants, and imps.

First setting: The story starts in a high mountain hollow surrounded by an ancient forest. Nearby is the raging River Guterahl, which is choked with the bodies of dead soldiers after battles. A town called Three Mills, recently prosperous, is the principal town in the disputed region between Tirenia and Detenia.

Opening scene: in the forest, a wicking willow (which springs up at the sites of the darkest sorceries) appears. A life-or-death situation ensues.

Scenes take place in Sepha’s house, which is large and empty. Her family used to be rich, but her father has gambled away most of his fortune, and spends the rest on the drink. We see the warm kitchen, Sepha’s room, and her father’s study, which is cold, dark, and small.

Second setting: The king’s castle, which has been hastily rebuilt from its own ruins. It is dark, squat, and unimpressive. The castle is perched on a high cliff overlooking the titanic mountain range, and the town beside it is dingy and squalid. At first, the castle is dumpy and poorly decorated. The castle changes throughout the story, because the influx of gold gives the king enough money to transform it into something beautiful.

Scenes take place in/on:
The road from Sepha's home to the castle. Landscape widely varies.
The field outside the castle, which is covered with dull green grass. The battle at the end of the story takes place here.
The courtyard outside the castle, which reeks of attempted grandeur, and falls sadly short.
The Great Hall, where feasts and balls are held. The room is smoky and large, with tapestries on the walls.
The antechamber off the Great Hall, which is dimly lit by colored lanterns. Drapes cover the walls. The king holds counsel here.
The dungeon - cells with stone floors and walls, and wooden-beamed ceilings. Solid wood doors and bars on the windows.
Isolde’s nest, a huge top-of-the-tallest-tower room where the lady alchemist does her work. At once delicate and enormous, this room is where Sepha learns about her magic and tries to learn to control it.
The king’s room. A picture of the deceased queen is prominently displayed. Secret panels in the walls allow servants to come and go discreetly.
A hidden garden within the castle walls, which reminds Sepha of her forest home.
Thuban’s room, which is dark and quiet and screams of danger lurking just behind you. Secret antechamber hidden behind drapes.
Sepha’s room, which is transformed throughout the story into her love nest and safe place.
The forge that is inside the castle walls. This is where Sepha's lover works.

Inside the castle walls, there is a magnificent cathedral, whose ceiling is formed from a tangled knot of wooden beams. On the floor, in unexpected places, are flower mosaics, each of which has only one pair. If two people stand on the pairs, they can whisper to each other from across the cathedral with their neighbors being none the wiser.

One scene takes place at Rumpelstiltskin’s secret forest home, which is surrounded by intelligent, poisonous creeping vines.

PostPosted: 04 Mar 2016, 05:22 

Joined: 29 Feb 2016, 19:55
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement:

As three childhood friends grow into adulthood, they face challenges that threaten to rip apart their friendship and dramatically reshape their destinies.

2. Antagonist/Antagonistic Force:

Beautiful, charismatic Ella Breen is the type of woman everyone falls in love with. But her capricious nature ignites strife between her best friends and threatens to upset the town's precarious balance in the midst of the Irish potato famine. Her heart grows weak in the face of true love, and she struggles to sacrifice her happiness to do the right thing for the first time in her life.

3. Breakout Title:

1. The Lights of Portballintrae
2. The Stories We Cannot Tell

4. Genre/Comparable:

Literary Fiction

1. “The Forgotten Garden” -Kate Morton
2. “At the Water’s Edge” -Sara Gruen

5. Primary Conflict:

Three best friends grow up together in Ireland but all face different callings that threaten their friendship and sometimes, their lives.

6. Inner Conflict/Social Conflict:

The primary inner conflict is between Ella and Jim, two headstrong people who want to follow their own paths, but are forced to decide between doing what they want and doing what's right. All this takes place against a backdrop of Irish poverty, including the potato famine that threatens to change their lives and their beloved homeland forever.

7. Setting:

Set in the 19th century, on the northern coast of Ireland, lies the small town of Portballintrae. Primary work in this town revolves around the sea, sheep, and the tall red lighthouse that guards the ships that sail into the town’s deep harbor.

It’s an idyllic setting, surrounded by low green hills and a sea that constantly thrums in the ears of those who live nearby. In between the town lies the ruined castle of Dunluce that many say is haunted, and the mystical basalt standing stones of The Giant’s Causeway that stories say was created by the legendary giant, Finn MacCool.

PostPosted: 04 Mar 2016, 19:40 

Joined: 04 Mar 2016, 18:50
Posts: 1
The Act of Story Statement

Three Americans navigate a maze of lust and love in Lusaka, Zambia at the height of the AIDS crisis. At the center of the story is Corinne, who wants to save her marriage but cannot face the damage she has inflicted upon it and instead becomes enmeshed in the troubles of her pregnant maid, Grace. She is joined by Alex, a biracial college student who seeks real-world experience and finds it not in his job with Corinne’s husband but on the streets of Lusaka. He clashes with April, a born-again Christian teenager, who discovers the complexities of preaching abstinence to Zambian girls. As Corinne’s marriage comes to a crisis, April and Alex discover a bond with its own faith-shaking implications.

Antagonist/Antagonistic Force

The primary antagonist is Grant, Corinne’s husband. Grant is a pragmatist who puts his faith in rational systems. He is well-intentioned but maintains a more-or-less willful blindness to the emotional and moral implications of his work and the dark corners of his marriage. In moments of conflict with Corinne and with Alex, he insists that their problems are of their own making—until Corinne’s divided loyalties and the pressure of Alex’s questions overwhelm the orderly life he is trying to maintain.

Alex finds another antagonist in April. Her combination of sexual naiveté and ironclad certainty drives him crazy, but she is not so easily dismissed as first appears. She forces him to examine his own assumptions and beliefs, and by the end something like a mutual conversion is taking place, as they find themselves adopting stances that would have been unthinkable before they met.

Meanwhile, the virus that circulates through this novel—more so than HIV itself—is mistrust. Each character must struggle to decide who is an ally and who a foe.

“Breakout Title”

Life Expectancy
Barrier Methods
Season of Exposure


Literary Fiction

My novel is a 21st-century dismantling of colonial classics like Out of Africa. Instead of throwing explorers, missionaries, and dreamy, sexually-compromise white women into the wilderness, Alex (an explorer), April (a missionary), and Corinne must cope with a modern African city. The Zambian setting is similar to Alexandra Fuller’s popular memoirs, but the book is more intimately concerned with the intersection between African and European/American lives. It is Americanah in reverse, with white characters struggling to understand the culture and mores of Zambians. I am fairly certain that my novel is the first to explore the AIDS crisis of the early 2000s in Africa.

Primary Conflict Line

Corinne comes to Zambia hoping that this radical dislocation will break the numbness and drift in her life with her husband Grant, but instead her alienation deepens and culminates in a betrayal. She seeks redemption in helping her pregnant maid, Grace, who has reason to believe she has been exposed to HIV, but Grant opposes Corinne’s involvement as a self-indulgent exercise in encouraging dependency. Corinne’s attempts to aid Grace are indeed prone to misjudgment, humbling her instead of restoring her faith in her capacity for goodness, but she pieces together a fragile understanding of and fidelity to this woman who is not so different from her after all. Both she and Grace must then decide which truths can be released into the bloodstream of their marriages.

Inner Conflict and Secondary Conflicts

Corinne’s inner conflicts revolve around the question of trust. First and foremost, she distrusts her own feelings and responses—a distrust that becomes acute after she cheats on her husband. She also struggles to trust those around her: is Grace using her? What are her responsibilities to the people she lives among, and does she have any hope of fulfilling them?

Alex comes to Lusaka with the express purpose of helping others and is disappointed by Grant’s insistence on a bureaucratic approach to problem-solving. When he involves himself in the lives of two street kids, he learns his own lessons about the danger of doing harm while trying to do good. Meanwhile, April discovers that her message of abstinence sounds different to girls who must weigh the dangers of sex against its uses as a tool of survival. Her feelings for Alex force her to recognize that love is not only a spiritual abstraction.


The novel takes place in Lusaka, Zambia, the makeshift capital of one of the poorest countries in the world, a city of displaced and searching people. Much of the action takes place in Corinne and Grant’s colonial-era house, with windows that refuse to close and property walls that only partially do their job of keeping people out. Alex plays the tourist when he first arrives, and an important scene takes place under a full moon at Victoria Falls. He and April are pulled more and more deeply into the “compounds,” the suburban slums where most Zambians live. Beyond the edges of the city, Lusaka’s concrete overlay of modernity gives way to places where people live as if the Industrial Revolution never happened. The climax of the novel takes place in a wilderness still more remote, on a game reserve on an island in the middle of a lake.

PostPosted: 05 Mar 2016, 06:47 

Joined: 05 Mar 2016, 06:37
Posts: 1
Thanks for a valuable conference.
Big thanks to Caitlin Alexander for her help in showing me how to see my novel from a different perspective.

PostPosted: 05 Mar 2016, 21:29 

Joined: 28 Feb 2016, 00:48
Posts: 1
1) Story Statement:

Tin Cocoon by Christopher Lawrence

Within a month of arriving on Ben and Sandy Robbins’ Hudson Valley property to help them finish building their dream home, I knew that I had stumbled upon a long-awaited opportunity to heal: to finally come to terms with my father’s death, to find peace in a life where I’d never before been able to find it, and to face my demons in a final head-on battle amid the peaceful solitude of the Robbins’ 18-acre farm. My mission was one of construction: to build a home from materials long ago relegated to the scrap heap, and to build a version of myself that would withstand the barometric pressure of my past as I prepared to start a new life.

2) The Antagonist:

Ben Robbins, (a.k.a. “Big Man”) is a wildly ambitious and successful attorney who sells legal software for a major New York City firm. His generosity is matched only by his sharp tongue and his determination to be the definitive voice of authority at all times – with the exception of any situation that involves a confrontation with his equally ambitious and successful wife, Sandy. He counts among his friends bank CEOs and multi-millionaires, along with the tattooed and pierced wildlings of the skydiving community. Although he prides himself on his rapid ascent from the middle class of suburban New Jersey to the elite One Percent of New York City, he channels his simple roots on weekends, when he works as a skydiving videographer and stays in a trailer on dropzone property among the nomads, drinking cheap domestic beer in worn-out shorts and a dropzone STAFF t-shirt. Our interactions strain with tension between our polar opposite perceptions of what success and happiness look like, and our opinions on how best to find them.

3) Breakout Title:

a) Tin Cocoon
b) To Another Abyss
c) The Glorious Uncertainty of Freefall

4) Comparable Titles:

a) Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Random House (2012).

A lost soul separates herself from society and subjects herself to an ordeal of great physical, psychological, and emotional proportions, and ultimately emerges from it having grown, learned, and healed. This is the story of Cheryl Strayed’s journey through the abyss and her safe landing on the other side.
Tin Cocoon differs from Wild in that it is a fresh look at how a lost soul might find the time and space to heal in the year 2015 (Strayed embarked on her Pacific Crest Trail pilgrimage in 1995). Tin Cocoon demonstrates that it’s not necessary to walk a thousand miles to find or heal oneself. Where Strayed ultimately found redemption in her solitude, I ultimately found it in the company of other people. The admission of this latter point – that my solitude was nearly the death of me – makes Tin Cocoon’s narrative arc more relatable to readers who have ever experienced the paradoxical need to be simultaneously alone and in the company of others, or to those who might not have the wherewithal or desire to venture into the wilderness alone.

b) A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. Anchor (2006).

A middle-aged man and his long-lost friend venture up the 2,100 mile-long Appalachian Trail in search of adventure and the fundamental simplicity that is essential to a vagabond’s life. While our respective journeys taught us much in the way of what we are as well as what we are not, Tin Cocoon is the story of an inner transformation anchored in the geography and spirit of one special and deeply significant place, as opposed to a physical journey involving a linear progression of settings.

5) Conflict Line:

A young man at the nexus of a troubled past and promising future attempts to find inner peace while trying to complete a preternaturally cursed home build for two hopelessly neurotic friends.

6) Other Matters of Conflict:

a) Inner Conflict:

The inner conflicts I faced at Big Sky Farm centered upon my inability to deal with the events of my past in such a way that I could reasonably expect to build a promising future for myself. My primary motivation for moving into a trailer and turning inward was to find the inner peace that had always evaded me, and in so doing move forward unimpeded by things I could not change. Time and again I realized that serenity cannot be forced, and this knowledge seemed willfully bent on driving me further from my ultimate goal.

Meanwhile, I made plans for my future based on the assumption that I would be able to put myself together in the relatively short time I’d be spending at the Farm. But as weeks turned into months it became clearer that I was in over my head. Supernatural dreams haunted my nights as insurmountable graduate school applications and a travesty of a home build occupied my days. As a result, I found myself favoring the future over the present to such an extreme that I would eventually lose sight of the innate value of my own life as it exists beyond arbitrary contexts.

b) Secondary Conflict:

When I arrived at Big Sky Farm I saw what I thought would be a lifeline out of my own personal abyss: the solitude I would find there beyond the influence of my loved ones the only way I could fathom figuring out my own life for myself. But the physical and communicative distance I placed between myself and the loving girlfriend I’d left back home resulted in more harm than good. As time wore on I retreated further into the depths of my solitary fortress, and so the gap between us grew to near un-bridgeable proportions.

I had met Liz only ten months after my father’s death, and she had stuck by me through some of my darkest days. From the start she promised me a charmed life that I never could have imagined living without her: she would support me while I pursued my dreams of being a writer and opening my own wood shop, all while showering me with a love and affection I’d never known. The only catch to our relationship was that I would have to concede to her sole demand of one day having a family with her: a scenario I could never seem to come to terms with, given my own worldview and the tendency of men in my family to die young. For much of the time we were together, and especially during my time at Big Sky Farm, she worked to convince me that we would have a better life as a family than the one I’d lived alone. But as she planned our future, I struggled with every dark hypothetical I could imagine, further damning my chances at ever coming to an accord with her.

7) Setting:

Big Sky Farm is eighteen acres of pristine, reclaimed Hudson Valley farmland chosen by Ben and Sandy Robbins as the site of their dream home. Twelve of its eighteen acres had been cleared by previous owners, primarily to facilitate an ill-fated alpaca farm. The cleared land is divided into three pastures: the north and south, separated from the east pasture by a translucent tree line composed of old-growth trees and thorny underbrush.

The house sits at the top of the hill that is the east pasture, the great room window offering a panoramic view of all three pastures and the rising sun. The large kitchen windows at the front of the house look westward to the Shawangunk Ridge, and a perfect view of the setting sun 365 days a year.

The house itself is a 6,000 square-foot timber frame constructed by Montana craftsmen out of wood reclaimed from two old western barns and a mess of other ambiguous sources. Its interior spaces are high, airy, and unconditionally churchlike. Eventually Sandy would decorate it with an artsy, industrial flair that she described as “Montana timber frame meets Manhattan loft.”

My own dream home, and my home base for the duration of the time I spent at the Farm, took up a mere 182 square feet of those 18 acres, not counting my small “front yard” complete with picnic table and fire pit. The1986 Citation travel camper is built to suit the outdoorsy family that wants to get crunchy for the weekend but not have to shit in the woods like common beasts. A simple rig, yet not totally lacking in amenities. Overall it measures about twenty-six feet in length by seven feet wide. There is one door, located on the front passenger side. On entering, to the right there is a foldout futon beneath a full-width jalousie window on the front wall. The kitchen area is directly ahead on the far wall, with a two-basin sink and gooseneck faucet, a propane range and oven just to the left of that, and a mini-fridge and freezer in a cubby to the left of the stove. On the opposite wall is a small dining booth like you might find in a restaurant, beneath another large jalousie window that spans the width of the booth. It seats two comfortably, but I’ve had as many as four in the booth itself and one at the head of the table. My favorite part of the booth is that it folds down into a full-sized bed that sleeps two comfortably.

Aft of the kitchen and living area is the first bi-fold door that opens into the mini bath. On the right is a small vanity and sink, a mirrored cabinet above, and a small chemical toilet to the left of the vanity that empties into a 25-gallon black water tank mounted to the chassis below. Opposite the vanity and toilet is a small tub and shower measuring about three feet long and two feet wide. Eventually, in the warmer months, I would have use of a 2.5-gallon hot water heater, but all plumbing would be off-limits until I could safely de-winterize without risk of having my water lines or water heater burst. As there was no well on the property, I would have to collect all of my water from the roof of the house during rainstorms.

Another bi-fold door separates the bathroom from the main bunk area in the back. A floor-to-ceiling armoire-like setup of four low drawers and an upper closet sits between the left and right sets of bunk beds that occupy the full length of the room. Each bunk is approximately 2.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet long, with a jalousie window that occupies about 2/3 of the overall wall space on either side. Above each bed is a fold-down bunk at about eye level. When they were folded up they gave the place a cozy feel, more like a bedroom than a bunkroom, not to mention added room to store things like off-season clothes and books.

PostPosted: 06 Mar 2016, 01:55 

Joined: 04 Mar 2016, 17:44
Posts: 1
Ex-cop Hunter Anderson, flees Boston for a simpler life on Cape Cod, but he must now resolve the murder of one friend, and save the life of another.

Hunter’s race to save his friend’s life pits him against a multinational pesticide company, and a corrupt government tracking his every move.


GENRE: Beach Mystery. HOLLOW ROAD is the first of a new beach mystery series.
COMPARABLES: Martha's Vineyard mysteries of Philip Craig, and the beach novels of Elin Hilderbrand

Hunter Anderson’s troubled past is catching up with him. When the man convicted of murdering his best friend is unexpectedly released, Hunter struggles to stop his life from spinning out of control. While he resolves the murder of one friend, he races to save the life of another.

Unable to forgive himself for his best friend's death, Hunter is left emotionally stranded, and struggles to open himself up to the woman he loves.

After his partner on the Boston PD is killed, Hunter Anderson flees the city for Harwich Port, a small Cape Cod beach town, where he reinvents his life. As the owner, and chef, of a popular restaurant bar overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, he now lives a seemingly idyllic life of beautiful beaches, great food, and evenings spent drinking with friends who love him. But when his friend Carlos, is poisoned, Hunter must travel to a remote farm in Ecuador, to try to save Carlos' life, and he returns fully ready to live his own.

PostPosted: 06 Mar 2016, 04:36 

Joined: 05 Mar 2016, 06:59
Posts: 1

A young Wall Street analyst disillusioned by his work, and nursing the wounds of a turbulent childhood leaves NYC to find meaning.


Alec is a successful young banker until he reaches a point where the novelty of his work at Wall Street is not sufficient to overpower the questions that preoccupy him—what is the basis of true happiness? This over-riding super ego impels him to leave behind love, friends and success to get on an archetypal quest as old as time—what's our place in the world? And just like other ancient clichés: the protagonist and antagonist are two opposing forces within, however the important question is which journey is the ‘real’ one?


The Root of All Things
The Portals of Gold


Genre: literary

The Razor’s Edge, by Somerset Maugham
Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig

This novel is comparable to the above titles in the tenor of the work and not based on specific details or plotline.


There are two main conflicts in Alec’s life. First, his mother died when he was four and shortly thereafter his alcoholic father rejected him. This conflict is brought to fore by the death of his father when Alec is in the second year at Goldman Sachs. At his deathbed, his father finally opens up about why the death of Alec’s mother tore him irrevocably apart.
Perhaps pursuant to this deeper conflict is his second internal conflict which is brought to fore at Wall Street—namely is happiness really only an accumulation of things one can procure, as promoted by Keynesian economic theory? And if not, what other paradigms are out there?


With Alec’s decision to leave the safe, competitive, upwardly mobile world of his young adult life comes the bitter rejection of his ambitious girl friend, Ann and his competitive best friend, DJ.

On his travels there is the rekindling of fresh love with Margo, a unique kindred spirit who has also had to face existential questions in her young life. But will he reject her on his quest or will the quest end with her?


The novel is narrated by Alec’s landlord, Calum who is a retired economist and lives on the Upper West Side but travels around the world. Throughout the novel, apart from Alec, we also follow the lives Emma, the blind pianist, Ann, the Yale medical student and DJ, the banker at Morgan Stanley.
The first part of the novel is set in the City as Alec and his friends pursue their passions under the backdrop of the Hudson, Liberty Island and Wall Street.
However later parts of the narrative follow Alec’s journey to the river valley of Central Pennsylvania with the hauntingly beautiful Susquehanna River and the farmland and quiet river towns that nestle at its banks. Then as Alec itinerantly travels further, the locale shifts to the 200 acre Appaloosa horse farm in Kentucky with it old colonial mansion and the smell of equine bodies, magnolias and the Ohio River in the air. The later most part of the novel happens on the sky island of Nevada’s Corazon Mountain with its old pine forests and fantastic volcanic rock formations, finally ending in the shadow of the high Sierra Nevada in northern California, west of Lake Tahoe.
The diversity of geography serves as an important backdrop to the varied people Alec meets, each iteratively propelling his quest to a dramatic final denouement back in NYC.

PostPosted: 06 Mar 2016, 08:19 

Joined: 06 Mar 2016, 08:13
Posts: 1
New York Forum Questions:
1. Story statement:
An ambitious colonel fights the odds to train an overlooked broodmare to become a successful racehorse in mid-18th century Maryland.

2. Antagonist summary:
Colonel Tasker’s antagonists:
1. William Byrd – The wealthy, pompous, and spoiled Virginia lawmaker has no respect for those who are beneath his social or political level. To confirm his authority, he challenges others to race their horses against his fastest Thoroughbred in a major horse race. When Tasker and Selima’s reputation for winning races grows after Tasker accepts the challenge, Byrd attempts to ruin Selima’s chances to participate in the race.

2. The Ridgely brothers and their friends – They have hereditary privileges that allow them to own the finest farmlands and purchase the finest race horses. They belittle Tasker’s attraction to a beautiful horsewoman and his efforts to train a broodmare to be a racehorse.

3. Governor Samuel Ogle –Because Tasker is the grandson of an indentured servant, he uses his brother-in-law as his estate manager and his horse trainer, and has little respect for Tasker’s attempt to improve his stature.

4. Elizabeth Worthington – The beautiful sophisticated horsewoman is at first attracted to but then quickly rejects Colonel Tasker because of his involvement in trade and his management of another’s property. She insults him at a dance in front of others and is condescending to him at a fox hunt.

3. Breakout Title:
Tasker’s Chance
Colonial Flyer
Horse of Fire

4. Comparables:
Tasker’s Chance is like National Velvet meets My Name is Resolute, except with male protagonists.
Tasker’s Chance is like Seabiscuit meets Flight of the Sparrow.

5. Conflict Line
An ambitious colonel fights the arrogance and malice of his peers to train his overlooked broodmare to become a successful racehorse in mid-18th century Maryland.

6. Conflicts:
Inner conflict
The main protagonist, Colonel Benjamin Tasker, Jr., is frustrated with his mixed status in colonial Maryland. His father is Mayor of Annapolis and he has a remarkable talent for training successful racehorses, yet he and his family are not fully accepted in the landed gentry circles because his grandfather was an indentured servant. Colonel Tasker’s mediocre social level is further cemented by being forced to manage his brother-in-law’s estate and enter in slave trade. He also has not been successful with women; his fiancé died of smallpox and he becomes enamored with an aristocratic woman who fails to appreciate him.

A very frustrating scenario for the colonel: At a ball, he politely approaches Miss Worthington and begins a conversation with her. She recently learned of his humble status and engages with him half-heartedly. Behind Tasker’s back, the aristocratic Ridgelys and Dorseys flirt with Miss Worthington and she soon can’t resist giggling. Tasker turns to see the men, who send him subtle looks that said “Seek elsewhere for female company. You’re out of you place.” Stung, Tasker turns to the woman, bows to her, and leaves.

Secondary conflict(s)
Colonel Tasker has a complicated relationship with beautiful, aristocratic horsewoman Elizabeth Worthington. Despite their mutual interest in horses, they scorn each other, until Tasker is compelled to ride after her to rescue her from a runaway horse. Only after her forced marriage to an older landowner and their move to England does Elizabeth realize that she loves Tasker, and he loves her.

William Byrd, a spoiled, wealthy landowner, presents problems for Tasker as well. Although Byrd meets him only a few times, he feels threatened by Tasker’s success with Selima. When Selima and Tasker are delayed to an important horse race by a bridge collapse, Byrd attempts to prevent Selima from racing by bribing his assistants to remain silent to race officials when Tasker’s jockey informs them of their delay.

7. Settings
Most of Tasker’s Chance takes place in colonial Maryland and Virginia from early autumn 1751 to early winter 1752.

The story takes place in the following scenes in chronological order.

Rural Maryland near the settlement of Collington, south of the town of Annapolis: Events take place either on the vast Bel Air Estate or on the small Tasker Farm. The Bel Air estate consists of an enormous elegant house, 2500 acres or tobacco and pasture, large fine stables, seven or eight slave cabins, and extensive barns and other outbuildings. Outside of Bel Air, the population is very sparse, the roads are few and muddy, communication is slow. The few estates and towns are separated by vast acres of farmland, pastureland or dense woods, where Indians are occasionally seen.
The Tasker Farm is a small 60 acre farm closer to Annapolis and not far from the Chesapeake Bay shores. Bel Air is about a day’s ride away from the farm.

The elegant Wandlebury Stables near Newmarket, England: Large pasturelands extend from the prestigious Wandlebury Estate and Stables. The Stables are large and luxurious accommodations for horses; royalty and the aristocracy frequently came here to purchase their animals.

Westover, the enormous estate of William Byrd: Westover is a larger estate than Bel Air and is located on the James River near Williamsburg, VA. Byrd frequently hosts barbecues and horse races on this estate.

Annapolis, the small but prosperous capital port city of Maryland: 1751 Annapolis is a sophisticated city of cobblestone streets, brick townhomes, and large elegant houses. Governor Ogle owns a city house here, and the Taskers are frequent guests. The colonial aristocracy usually congregates in this city, and the locals tease them as “more British than the British.”

The Virginia wilderness near the Rappahannock River: Miles of forests, meadows and swamps exist here with poorly built roads and bridges. The civilization in this region are the tiny settlements of Fredericksburg, Gloucester, Williamsburg, Richmond, and Yorktown.

Anderson’s Race Grounds near Gloucester, VA: Anderson Race Grounds is the new form of circular race track that was becoming increasing more popular with horse racing. The sloping hills of the grounds provide the perfect viewing point to watch the races.

PostPosted: 06 Mar 2016, 20:28 

Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 20:58
Posts: 1
BIRDS OF HAVANA by Molly Turner

1. Act of story statement:

Risk life and love to prove that mosquitoes carry yellow fever.

2. Antagonists:

The main antagonist is yellow fever, and the fear of its spread.

There is not one main human antagonist, but several who appear along the way to bully, interfere, betray, disappoint.

3. Title:

Birds of Havana
(American scientists in Cuba called the mosquitoes “birds.”)

4. Comps:

The Air We Breathe, by Andrea Barrett
Fever, by Mary Beth Keane

5. Primary Conflict:

In 1900, no one knows for certain what causes yellow fever, or how the virus is transmitted, only that new arrivals to the tropics are particularly susceptible. In the newly independent Cuba, now under a temporary American military government, scattered cases swell into a full-scale epidemic, forcing a quarantine of the island and making the Army’s medical research all the more urgent. Army Nurse Edith O’Hearn is drawn in to the Army research by her own curiosity and her attraction to scientist Jesse Lazear. Then Lazear’s mysterious death plunges her into the Army’s secret world of human subject experiments, and Edith must decide if the desire to advance medical knowledge justifies the risk to human life.

6. Secondary or Inner Conflicts

A. Neither Edith nor Jesse fit into Army life, and both remain outsiders, Edith as one of its first female nurses, and Jesse as a civilian scientist on temporary contract who finds Army science clumsy and slow. Both struggle with their loyalties—to their employer, to science, to the common good.
B. Before she meets Jesse, Edith develops a friendship with his wife, Mabel, who is forced to leave the island when quarantine is declared. When Edith and Jesse fall in love a few months later, both of them have to confront their betrayal of Mabel.

7. Setting:

In 1900, Cuba is a study in contrasts—there are the blackened vestiges of Spanish colonialism side by side with the engines of American enterprise—construction projects, railways, factories, and US Army garrisons. Attempts to build a new nation are often thwarted by corruption and infighting. Much of the atmosphere of Havana is revealed in magazine columns written by a friend of Edith’s, Ned Peregrine.

The main settings are:
• Havana’s Old City, where Ned Peregrine lives and where the US Army’s Sanitary Men sweep through regularly
• Las Animas, the public hospital in Havana
• Camp Columbia, the Army Barracks outside of Havana, where Dr. and Mabel Lazear live
• Camp Lazear, the secret experimental facility for human subject experiments with yellow fever-laden mosquitoes.

The characters also travel through the countryside to Matanzas and Pinar del Rio.

PostPosted: 07 Mar 2016, 01:21 

Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 02:56
Posts: 1

A disillusioned Silicon Valley engineer drops everything to try a new life in Paris, only to discover how much he has to learn before he can really begin.


Swanson Geach is a man in a hurry. Successful in the super-competitive world of high-tech, he's still not where he feels he should be: at the very top of the food chain. Arriving there in style matters, too: he doesn't just drive a car, he drives a threat. Unlike the protagonist, his childhood friend Martin Cardwell, who's self-effacing and something of a dreamer, Swanson is controlling, impulsive, and casually ruthless when it suits him. Behind it all, though, the clock is ticking. At 34, he's already worried about 40.

He starts an apartment rental business in Paris, where he used to live, as a between-jobs lark. He's joined by Martin, who ends up with all the grunt-work. After his father dies and a betrayal ruins his future in the Valley, Swanson is thrown into a tailspin. He tries to reconnect with his talent for art, something he abandoned years ago and hid from others. But his sense of purpose only returns when he decides to separate himself from everything and everyone in his past, including Martin. And he's not the kind to simply break things off amicably.


The One Thing Worth Doing

The Paris Apartment

The Faces Behind a Face


Genre: literary fiction (novel of education).


The First 20 Million is Always the Hardest by Po Bronson – for its insider portrait of Silicon Valley startup culture.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – for Chip's storyline of a confused adult, who escapes to faraway places to resolve inner problems he only vaguely understands.


Tired of his unexamined life, a Silicon Valley engineer relocates to Paris, where love and a friendship gone bad will either bring him to self-knowledge or to a psychological abyss.


Martin is far from the person he'd thought he was, let alone who he wants to be. Unhappy in relationships and stagnating at work, he's nevertheless unsure of what to do instead. Relocating to Paris, where he doesn't even speak the language, could be life-changing or a pointless boondoggle.

Judith, a PhD student in Paris for a year, appreciates Martin's inner geek, something he generally tries to hide. But her tart honesty shows him the need to ask more of himself – with her and throughout his life. As their relationship deepens, he must confront his emotional laziness and ambivalence, or risk losing her.

Martin has always admired Swanson's charisma and resoluteness, but is repulsed by his materialism, hunger for status, and rapacity in business. Their differences run beneath the surface of their lifelong friendship, exploding into full view when Swanson sells his half of the rental apartment. His outrageous, implacable demands force Martin to overcome his own most painful weaknesses – willingness to go along with others, lack of self-respect, dislike of conflict – or face psychological annihilation at the hands of his oldest friend.


Silicon Valley in the spring of 2001 is an unhappy place, reeling from a brutal financial downturn. When Martin and Swanson's hot startup suddenly collapses, it is just one more 'For Lease' sign among many in their half-empty business park. Martin realizes he's tired of the insular, tech-centric worldview of the Valley – an area that, viewed from an airplane, resembles a giant, all-consuming circuit-board. Then there's where he lives, a tightly packed subdivision with no sidewalks, a layout that expends the minimum on, and extracts the maximum from its worker-bee occupants.

Paris promises the opposite: food, architecture, and art, appreciated for their own sake. His idealized image is soon revised by the gritty Parisian neighborhood he ends up living in, where the smallest daily tasks are complicated by his total ignorance of the language and culture. When his attention falters, big city scammers and shape-shifters are ready to take advantage. Over time, Martin also encounters a Paris of the mind. His abandoned philosophy major and dormant social consciousness are jolted awake in this center of European humanism, leading him to an offbeat research center whose members possess knowledge far beyond the academic.

PostPosted: 07 Mar 2016, 19:06 

Joined: 07 Mar 2016, 19:01
Posts: 1
“Shadow Self” by Teresa Peck.

The “HOOK”

As far as psychotherapist Laurie Gordon is concerned, insanity happens to other people. When she is plunged into a world more terrifying than she has ever imagined, she is forced to change her mind.

Laurie Gordon, an American psychotherapist working in London, has her world under control. Her career is thriving and her marriage is happy. Then Claris Davenport walks into her office, and everything changes. Sexy and capricious, Claris is everything that Laurie is not. Laurie is immediately fascinated. Within weeks she is dressing, behaving, and even thinking like Claris. Shocked by the changes, her husband and colleagues try to warn Laurie that she is out of control. She ignores them. Soon, her marriage in ruins, her career shattered, and her mental health destroyed, Laurie is committed to a psychiatric hospital.

After Laurie is released from hospital, Claris’s husband dies unexpectedly. The police are convinced he was murdered. And Laurie is the prime suspect.

As she fights to hold on to her sanity and prove her innocence, Laurie must question everything she thought she knew about Claris. And she has to accept some unwelcome truths about herself.

Seven Assignments

1. Strong Statement: A successful psychotherapist must come to grips with her limitations, both personal and professional, while fighting to retain her sanity and prove her innocence.

2. The Antagonist. Claris Davenport. Claris wants to murder her husband, inherit his money, and not get caught. She is beautiful, unscrupulous, and does not feel guilt or remorse. She uses her charm and her looks to manipulate people and get what she wants. If that does not work, she resorts to murder. The full extent of her deviousness is not revealed until the end of the book.

3. Breakout Titles:

“Shadow Self.” “Nemesis” “Beautiful, Deep, and Dangerous”

4. Genre: Psychological mystery. “Single White Female” meets “Black Widow”.

Comparables: “Into the Darkest Corner” by Elizabeth Haynes.
“The Thirteenth Tale” by Diane Settenfield
Anything written by Gillian Flynn.

5. Primary Conflict:

The Primary Conflict in the book is Laurie’s unquestioned fascination with Claris Davenport and the impact this has on every aspect of Laurie’s life: her sanity, her profession, and her marriage.

Conflict line: A psychotherapist, driven to the brink of insanity by her fascination with a patient, must fight to prove she is innocent of murdering the patient’s husband.

Secondary Conflicts: (a) Laurie’s unresolved resentment at having to give up her job in Chicago to follow her husband, Greg, to London; (b) Laurie’s inability to hear the warnings Greg and her colleagues give her about the impact Claris is having on her; (c) Laurie’s struggle with being a mental health patient, which she sees as failure; (d) Laurie’s affair with John, a man she meets in a bar; (e) Laurie’s struggle to convince the police of her innocence; (f) the final unraveling of Laurie’s marriage.

6. Example of Secondary Conflict: John, the builder with whom Laurie has a brief but intense affair, brings out a flirtatious side in Laurie. She feels guilt at betraying her husband, but enjoys the person she becomes when with John, and the way he makes her feel.

Inner Conflict. Laurie has always strived to be ‘perfect’, the responsible child, the overachiever, the infallible therapist. Claris’s capriciousness awakens Laurie’s repressed anger and resentment about this, and causes her to begin to think and act like Claris. Her failure to understand Claris’s true nature causes Laurie to doubt her professional ability and, ultimately, to decide to stop being a psychotherapist.
7. Setting.
The action takes place primarily in and around London in 2002, as the UK deals with the aftermath of 9/11 and the concerns of a very vocal Muslim population. Laurie loves to walk through London, and various locations in and around the City contribute to the ambience. Laurie sees Claris in the office of a psychotherapy practice that caters to the Ex-Pat community, situated in the up-scale neighborhood of Marylebone. She stalks Claris, who lives in one of the Georgian townhouses in Mayfair. She and Greg live in the leafy suburb of Wimbledon, and some of the action takes place on the Common there. They take a trip to Monaco and watch the Grand Prix in a private yacht in the harbor. Laurie meets John in a bar – a very unusual location, for her. Laurie is committed to a private psychiatric hospital. A post-mortem inquiry takes place in an English courtroom. Laurie is arrested and held in a London police station. There is a dramatic scene on the London Underground as Claris surprises Laurie in a packed subway car. At the end of the book the action moves to Wisconsin, as Laurie tries to repair her life on the brooding shores of Lake Michigan.

PostPosted: 08 Mar 2016, 20:02 

Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 21:34
Posts: 1
1) Story Statement

Bobby Kennedy’s sacred oath to safeguard his family against the dark forces of the Mafia unravels when he’s blindsided by an unholy partnership between the CIA and the Mafia, rendering him powerless to protect his brother from impending doom.

2) Sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in the story

A ferociously anti-communist CIA hit-man, David Morales boasted a long and bloody career toppling left-leaning foreign governments. Cocksure of his methods, he often engaged the Mafia to finance and conduct the hits to avoid criminal trails being traced back to the CIA. In return, the Mafia pocketed unfettered territorial rights to casinos and other sin businesses.

Now tasked with toppling Castro, Morales becomes increasingly frustrated as one mob-attempted assassination after another fails. Even more infuriating is his belief that the Kennedy Administration is non-supportive of his objectives. In his myopic view, the Kennedys are themselves communists helping to protect one of their own. Conflicted and fueled by visceral hatred of the Kennedys, Morales agonizes whether or not his CIA mandate to remove communist leaders applies to his own government.

The Mafia, hungry for revenge over the Kennedy’s refusal to honor a secret pre-election pact, seeks to leverage Morales’s rage to their benefit. They cajole and target his frailties, and Morales eventually succumbs to his misplaced sense of duty. He conspires with the Mafia to assassinate JFK and helps orchestrate the masterful government cover-up. Because this unholy marriage between the CIA and Mafia is known by only a select few within the CIA, Bobby is blindsided, rendering him defenseless to protect his brother from impending doom.

3) A Breakout Title
• Rogue Elephant: How the Mafia played the CIA to murder a president
• Unholy Marriage: How the CIA’s partnership with the mob killed JFK
• Omerta: The Mafia code of silence broken; an insider’s account of who killed JFK

4) Genre & Comparables (Genre = True Crime)
• Red Notice: A true story of high finance, murder, and one man’s fight for justice (by Bill Browder)
• Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI, and a Devil’s Deal (by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill)
Why? Similar to these two books, Rogue Elephant is a true story about an actual crime where the protagonist battles against powerful dark forces
5) Write your primary conflict line:
Leveraging his overwhelming powers as Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy heroically struggles to protect his family from the revenge-hungry Mafia
6) Secondary Conflict - David Morales (antagonist):

Conflicted and fueled by his visceral hatred of the Kennedys, Morales agonizes whether or not his CIA mandate to remove communist leaders applies to his own government. Will he succumb to the Mafia’s coaxing for him to join their plans to exact revenge?

6a) Protagonist Inner conflict – Bobby Kennedy:
To the core Bobby is a moral and honorable man. But upon JFK’s death the burden of protecting his family’s reputation is bestowed. Tortured by the possibility that a thorough investigation might reveal his family’s dark secrets, is he complacent with the FBI, CIA, and Dallas Police’s motivations to bury the truth and pin it on the patsy, Lee Harvey Oswald?

7) Sketch out why the setting is interesting:
Rogue Elephant is the actual story as relayed to the author decades ago by an omniscient insider. As Paul Harvey would say, “Now here’s the rest of the story…”

Set in the turbulent cold war era, scenes at the White House, Pentagon, and Justice Department depict Bobby and Jack Kennedy’s grappling with some of the most historic moments in American history such as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Berlin Wall standoff, Civil Rights Movement, Ole Miss Riots, Fidel Castro’s ascension and the resulting Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bobby’s war on the Mafia enables rarely depicted scenes such as the deported mob boss Carlos Marcello’s bumbling through the jungles of Central America, Jimmy Hoffa’s attempt to strangle Bobby in a Justice Department conference room, and Hoover’s emphatic refusals to assist Bobby in his heretical crusade to put the mob bosses behind bars.

The predictable climax illuminates the nuts and bolts of the murder scene and answers long sought-after questions such as Oswald’s true involvement and who killed Officer Tippit. Explained with unprecedented clarity are details of the two failed assassination attempts prior to Dallas, the role Cuban policy played in the plot, and the CIA’s incriminating involvement.

The book concludes with a summary of the 1970’s investigations and their failure to uncover the truth due to CIA stonewalling and key witnesses dropping dead just prior to their testifying.

PostPosted: 09 Mar 2016, 03:19 

Joined: 28 Feb 2016, 17:17
Posts: 2
“The Prude on the Prowl” by Alexandra Marks

1. Story Statement

A respectable magistrate must rescue his abandoned niece from the brothel where he himself is a patron.

2. The Antagonists

Magistrate Henry Curtis is a late Victorian, upper middle class gourmand on his first visit to an unusually elegant house of ill repute. He is stunned by the first virginal prospect set before him. It is Henrietta, the daughter of his outcast and impecunious sister. Almost a decade has passed since he’s seen his either his sister or his niece. Shocked and appalled, he demands Henrietta leave with him. In full adolescent rebellion, Henrietta refuses and the magistrate is shown the door by the savvy, pragmatic madam, a Mrs. Cornelia Swiven.
Mrs. Swiven, once herself a naïve young woman who “fell” and then rebuilt her life as a courtesan, worries the magistrate could ruin her business. With a wily understanding of upper class society and its inherent hypocrisies, and plenty of connections in the nobility, she contemplates how best to make use of the debacle.
The magistrate, despite his fear of scandal, decides he must rescue the girl. Mrs. Swiven, meanwhile, decides to keep her as a companion and “insurance” to ensure the magistrate’s silence. But the meddling of a Mrs. Laura Ormistan Chant spoils both plans. A social purity activist known as ‘The Prude on the Prowl,' Mrs. Chant is determined to cleanse the public sphere of indecency. When she learns of Mrs. Swiven and Henrietta’s plight and she adds saving Henrietta to her list of God-inspired crusades.

3. Breakout Titles

a. “Rescuing Henrietta”
b. “The Prude on the Prowl”
c. “The Magistrate’s Misfortune”
d. “The Prude”

4. Comparables

The “Prude” is comparable to “Margaret the First” by Danielle Dutton in that it’s an historic novel that deals with feminist issues that, after more than a century, remain strikingly contemporary.
Another comparable is Kate Manning’s “My Notorious Life.” The Prude addresses with the same issues of women’s sexuality and societal hypocrisy, although the “Prude” has a lighter, more humorous tone.
“The Prude” can also be thought of as sui generis. Think Downton Abbey meets Bertie Wooster meets Betty Friedan.

5. Conflict Line

A Victorian magistrate must confront his own and societal hypocrisy around sexual commerce when he discovers his niece is being groomed to be a high-class courtesan. He must save her from taking an irrevocable fall at the same time battle a radical puritan who hopes to cleanse London society of all indecency, vice and liquor.

6. Inner Conflict

Magistrate Henry Curtis is conflicted between accepting Victorian upper class society’s strict, hypocritical social codes which allow men to do as they please with “fallen” women, his shock at discovering a long lost niece on the precipice, his desire to rescue her and his fear of shame and scandal.

Secondary Conflict

The Magistrate’s must break free of his imperious older sister who is a fierce enforcer of middle class moral codes without any consideration of human frailty or forgiveness.

7. Setting

London in the 1890’s became known as the “Naughty Nineties” for chaffing against more than fifty years of restrictive Victorian morality. The middle class strictly observed propriety while the nobility, entrepreneurs and artists flagrantly flaunted much of it. The Magistrate and the Prude inhabit elegant drawing rooms, London’s manure-filled streets, glamorous palaces of entertainment and vice, elegant suites at the Savoy and its dingy back halls. The atmosphere is suffused with awe at the transformative power of technology (electric lights and ascending elevators!), growing labor unrest and the arrogance born of the expanding British Empire.

PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 03:01 

Joined: 21 Feb 2017, 10:27
Posts: 2
“Inappropriate Behavior” by Rebecca A Corio
Pre-Event seven writing assignments:

1 – Simple Story Statement:
Reconnecting with her best friend from High School after 15 years of silence.

2 – The Antagonist Plots the Point:
Connor is egotistical and brooding. He justifies his condescending attitude to those beneath him by the simple fact they deserve it. He despises anything to do with small towns and she now represents everything that he’s grown to hate. His needs, his end game, those are the only things that matter. He doesn’t hesitate to stun his prey by charm or venom, whichever entertains him the most. Stopping at nothing to collect what he feels he’s due.

3 – Breakout Title:
Inappropriate Behavior: Inappropriate Angel: Killing An Angel

4 – Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables:
Laurell K Hamilton – Anita Black series. While no otherworld creatures in this manuscript characters are written as mature adults. People who have real thoughts, feelings; they laugh and cry. They make mistakes. Smart with the right amount of sarcasm, staples in today’s world.
Ivy Lane – Billionaire’s Romance titles. Characters and stories where people do things they know better, that they know aren’t good for them, but that they are human and give in to the desire. Because they want to. Happy endings because real life seems to have few of those.
Romance and Erotic Romance stories that when a reader closes his or her eyes they imagine themselves in the story. Unable to resist picturing themselves having that experience. They want to be them. No matter the confines of the reader’s real world life, for a moment the consideration what if they behaved like these characters, said what they said, did what they did.

5 – Considering the Primary Conflict – Coming of the “Agon”:
The realization their attraction to each other as adults is far more powerful a thing than their teenage friendship ever was. But everything he despises about those years is centered in her. So that attraction for him is nothing more than physical. Every thought, every reaction is fuel for his contempt directed squarely at the beautiful woman he finds himself unable to forget a second time. He will destroy any attempt to make things right between them. Sex doesn’t conquer all and love with her is out of the question.

6 – Other Matters of Conflict: Two More Levels
Inner Conflict: She knows somewhere in his heart he still cares. If only his head weren’t such a Jackass constantly amusing himself by pointing out everything about her he now hates. She knows one can’t love enough for two. She’s smarter than making that mistake a second time. But her heart will accept nothing less than telling him the truth, no matter what it costs her.
Secondary conflict: When he forgets his belittling of her long enough the similarities in them now they are adults begin to show. She accepts her small town upbringing. He refuses to see that same upbringing is part of who he is. Blind to the fact he has become as prejudice as those he looks down on. By the time he needs her trust it may be too late to have earned it.

7 – The Incredible Important of Setting:
Compared to New York, everywhere is small town. And small means hicks, prejudices, and too many bad memories. But he’s made the mistake of coming to her. And everything about that decision grates on his nerves. Her insignificant job at the hospital admitting desk with the crazies she sees each night, uninteresting. Her concern for her little coworkers and patients, disgusting. A night out of bowling and beer, the epitome of mundane. He fights it at every turn, trying to maintain his grip on why everything, anything is better than the pressure that chokes him from the claustrophobic town.

PostPosted: 01 Mar 2017, 09:52 

Joined: 22 Aug 2014, 22:31
Posts: 3
Algonkian Pitch Conference, March 2017
Pre-Conference Assignments
Cherilyn Hearn

1. Story Statement -
When everything changes around her, can she just stay the same?
2. The Antagonist Plots the Point –
Nine days ago, Lillian was a happy wife and mother. Only after her husband is suddenly gone does she start to imagine a different life without him and considering the life before him. Could a woman raised as a Manhattan socialite really belong on an upstate farm? As she packs her life and heads back to the city, her children see a new Lillian, brave and mysterious in her search for meaning. But the ambition comes easily, because this is the Lillian she has always been. Was the farm her husband’s dream or had they really shared in its transformation?
Lillian’s old ways come back easily, but the city is harsh and mouthy, willing to reveal more than a woman’s past and fickle in unveiling her future.
The antagonist, is the world? Her dead husband? Her selfish children? Her meddling sister? Lillian’s conflict is with herself, her indecision, the hand she’s been dealt.
(New…working on …. “If Cam hadn’t died, would Lillian have ever known he was cheating? As her devastation is compounded by the memory of an unfaithful father, she uncovers one bureau too many and learns that though her father had his share of secrets, a mistress wasn’t one of them.)
3. Breakout Title –
Same Girl, Different Everything
Easy Go
Lilly Go Lightly
4. Genre & Comparables –
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Comparables: All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg & What We Lose, by Zinzi Clemmons
Fun and light within a serious story.
A woman caught in her own middle. Am I this, am I that? Walk back or run ahead?
5. Conflict Line –
Lillian is torn – between the life she thought she loved and the one that seems to come just naturally. As her internal voices settle on either shoulder, people in her life do the same, until finally, neither of them are familiar at all.
6. Other Matters of Conflict –
Bonnie is always in conflict with a judgmental world, her free spirit and trying to inject her ways into her sweet sister Lilly.
Lillian’s older children are in conflict with her, as she steps into an identity they have never seen.
Lillian’s inner conflicts are many, with her conscience, her dead husband, time.
7. Setting –
While the primary setting is modern day Manhattan, Pine Island is never far from the thoughts of the main characters. Manhattan is everything, but Pine Island, though entirely opposite, is really the driving force, the safe haven, the past.
Manhattan holds information about Lillian and Bonnie’s childhood, memories, parents and trauma. Their environments there reveal a life of privilege and wealth, which is quite the opposite from Pine Island.
The farm is simple, rural and pure in its creation of the Cameron family. Pine Island envelopes a young couple until the idea that they came from Brooklyn and Manhattan simply doesn’t fit. Their children are products of the farm, which fostered their marriage and their delusions.

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