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PostPosted: 25 May 2016, 21:49 
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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: 28 May 2016, 02:29 

Joined: 26 May 2016, 23:29
Posts: 1
Story Statement -Assignment 1
Isabel vows to prevent her daughter from establishing an alternative lifestyle in Jamaica

Antagonist Force-Assignment 2
Isabel's daughter, Myka, becomes the antagonist force in the novel. While not cruel or vengeful, she has a blind spot that keeps her from acknowledging realities associated with relocation to Jamaica apparent to her mother. Having an unreflective, goal oriented nature given to taking on fierce challenges, she fails to heed advice, plan well financially, risks her health and surrenders a medical career driven by a desire to create a green lifestyle. Exceptionally bright and educated, she neglects to calculate how precarious a situation she has created for herself and her family solely guided by a philosophical commitment to an alternative lifestyle.

In addition to Myka, the island of Jamaica acts as an antagonistic force in this novel. It thrusts harsh, hostile, unpredictable conditions on Isabel's family due to its very nature, history and location, from drought to mosquito borne diseases. Unable to tame its weather, politics or poverty, most people choose to visit Jamaican beaches and drink rum but know nothing of the forbearance and sacrifice required in the eastern end of the island devoid of corporate investment and riddled with obstacles to challenge a set of "green pioneers." Despite these adverse conditions, Jamaica continues to hold on to Isabel's family with a vice-like grip.

Breakout Title- Assignment 3
Possible Titles: When A Family Turns Green
The Organic Lesson
The Cost of Choosing Green

Genre and Comparables- Assignment 4
This woman's fiction novel would be welcomed by readership captivated by a cultural mix such as the one found in Louise Erdrich's novel, LaRose in which the tone is tragic with divergent points of view of a startling family decision. Both Native Culture and the dominant American Culture are expressed by characters. The same amalgamation is true in my novel- American Culture Vs. Jamaican Culture. While I don't presume to compare Ms. Erdrich's perfected writing to my own, I sense a kinship based on having two cultures collide to tell a story engaging motivated readers to straddle two sets of mores.

In the same way, I envision readers who sought out Elizabeth Stout's My Name is Lucy Barton for its wealth of emotion and ache of loneliness to be tempted by my current novel dealing with mother-daughter estrangement.

Lastly, Jamaica Kincaid's novel My Brother draws readers who wish to explore difficult and complicated relationships in biological families. The two novels are both set in the Caribbean and may interest readers who relate well to the
Islands by birth or experience.

Primary Conflict- Assignment 5
Isabel opposes her daughter's decision to move to Jamaica and over time believes the idea has been abandoned. But three years later, she is forced to confront the relocation as reality. Myka insists on moving before the birth of her twins despite Isabel's argument for delivery in the U.S. where high risk, multiple births are protected by neonatal backup. Faced with temporary defeat, Isabel fears something disastrous will happen without proper medical care, yet she feels obligated as a mother to support her daughter despite her own anxiety. When Myka capriciously decides to deliver in a small hospital without a neonatal unit and then leaves the hospital AMA. Isabel is alarmed by her daughter's decision made in opposition to that of the Jamaican doctor. While she is in turmoil that Myka has made the wrong choices, she continues to believe she can convince her daughter to return home to her former conventional life.

Secondary Conflict A
Isabel's Jamaican son-in-law has set about building a monolithic dome house for his family on the farm. She gets caught up by the project and watches with admiration how strong and dedicated he is to by sleeping on the ground next to a generator that must run all night. When he accidentally falls asleep, the generator fails and the dome collapses. Seeing how devastated he is, Isabel hates to see him crushed by guilt and tries to comfort him. However, if he had succeeded, her daughter's family would have a permanent home in Jamaica which she has vowed to prevent. But she can't dismiss the conflicted feelings of wanting him to succeed in this project to prove himself and wanting the project to fail in order to bring her family back to the States.
Secondary Conflict B

Isabel believes a strange man she has seen on the farm may harm her granddaughter with a machete. She thinks he, as well as the environment, is dangerous and primitive. Prepared to defend her granddaughter against him by doing battle, she learns he is a Rasta who helps out on the farm. The more she knows about him, the more confused she becomes as to who is a worthy person. She searches for proof others associated with Bounty Farm are misguided in their support of alternative lifestyle, but they present ideas that make her question her own beliefs.

Setting - Assignment 7
The initial setting of the novel is a small town in Connecticut. But the novel moves to the eastern part of Jamaica, a stark contrast to New England. The protagonist is introduced to organic toilets, filtered water, and life in a tent on a hillside with an outdoor shower. Remoteness, primitive living conditions and back-breaking farm life intrude on her sensibilities along with the constant heat, mosquitos and drought. The setting requires physical strength to withstand hanging wash on a line in blazing sun, filling compost piles and walking unpaved, dirt roads. Buying food in Coronation Market and exchanging money in Morant Bay offer jarring environmental and social challenges. The ceremonies during the Dead Yard alter the characteristics of the setting to a more ancestral connection with unfathomable religious rituals. Layered within the farm boundaries is inherent danger highlighted in the final scenes where setting dominates the stage for the ensuing tragedy to occur.

PostPosted: 28 May 2016, 04:00 

Joined: 28 May 2016, 03:54
Posts: 1
Story statement:
Three-Fifths is the story of Bobby Saraceno, a biracial young man, prejudiced and passing for white, who must conceal his identity both from the police and his closest and only friend, Aaron, after he involves Bobby in a brutal hate crime.

Antagonist sketch/antagonistic force:
Aaron Clark is Bobby Saraceno’s best friend. Before Aaron went to jail for selling marijuana, Aaron loved hip-hop and talked and dressed “black”, both for which Bobby ridiculed him. Aaron is brutalized in prison and forbids Bobby from ever visiting him. He emerges a hateful racist, now heavily muscled and tattooed. During his reunion with Bobby, a confrontation leads Aaron to commit a brutal hate crime with Bobby in tow. He displays no remorse for his crime and shows signs that he may finally know the truth about Bobby, creating an intense paranoia for him. Aaron’s cold and calculating demeanor, his acquisition of a gun, along with another near violent confrontation the following night force Bobby to make hard decisions: send Aaron back to a prison that turned him into a Neo-Nazi and risk being arrested as an accomplice, or do nothing and remain tortured by guilt and fear of discovery.

Three-Fifths; Brick; The Half of It

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You: Ng’s bestselling novel deals with the conflicts of biracial identity, death and infidelity as told through various perspectives. She also braids her narrative by moving back and forth from past to present. Similarly, my novel is told from three first-person perspectives, deals with racial identity, infidelity and violence. My novel is also braided between past and present.

James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods: Hannaham’s PEN/Faulkner award-winning novel opens with a violent and gripping event that draws readers in from the very first page. His book also deals heavily with the complex bond of mother and son, complicated by chemical dependence, as well as the systematic racism that led them to their current predicament. It is also told from multiple POV’s. My novel also deals with a complex mother-son relationship in the face of alcoholism, racism and a violent opening scene that creates an immediate urgency for the novel.

Primary conflict:
A prejudiced biracial man, passing for white, must come to terms with the decisions of his past while concealing his identity when his best friend forces his involvement in a hate crime.

Inner Conflict:
Bobby’s unwitting involvement in the hate crime makes him question the decisions of his past, particularly if his prejudicial ways influenced Aaron to become the hateful and violent racist he is when released from prison. He is torn between maintaining self-preservation or doing the right thing and turning both he and Aaron in.

Secondary conflict:
Bobby’s mother Isabel, is incapable of getting out of her own way. Her alcoholism and recreational drug use make it impossible for her to hold a job. She loves Bobby intensely, but can never seem to do the right thing. When the father Bobby has never known, Robert Winston, returns to Pittsburgh to care for his aging parents, Isabel sees an opportunity to set things right. Bobby has never been able to count on Isabel, and must deal with his involvement in the crime alone, while Isabel tries to reconcile the mistakes of her past to give her son a future.

The story takes place in Pittsburgh in 1995, over three days during the O.J. Simpson trial, beginning March 15, the day of Mark Furhman’s testimony. Racial tensions simmered in the city at the time, only two years removed from the L.A. riots. Neighborhoods outside of the city were riddled with gangs, specifically the Crips and Bloods. One such neighborhood was Homewood, where both Bobby and Isabel live in a crummy apartment lorded over by a degenerate landlord with whom Isabel trades sexual favors when they’re short on rent. Homewood is an area of note in the past as well as the present, as it plays a significant role in Robert Winston’s childhood and plays an influence for him well into his adult life. Bobby works as a waiter in a restaurant on the outskirts of the city, staffed by a cast of unique characters who generate conflicts based on race and gender.

PostPosted: 28 May 2016, 06:15 

Joined: 28 May 2016, 06:12
Posts: 1
A young woman does whatever it takes to find out why her husband disappeared.

The antagonist grew up as an expat brat in Hong Kong, where he was treated like royalty by virtue of his nationality. He grew used to the life of privilege and didn’t take it well when his family returned to the United States where he was no one special and was treated just like everybody else. His time spent overseas had left him with charm and good connections. His envy of the rich left him with desires unfulfilled. It only took the anonymity of the internet and the high-stakes chaos of the startup economy to unleash his greed. He will stop at nothing to get the wealth, power and recognition that he believes he rightly deserves.

1) A Horse in Flames
2) Powerplay
3) Province of the Rich

Genre: Crime Fiction

1) Vendela Vida’s The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty
- Female fish-out-of-water protagonist
- American traveling to a far away destination to heal a homegrown trauma
- Depicting the ups downs and self-discovery of travel
- Journey full of unexpected turns that move her further and further away from the person she used to be

2) Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn (A Jolly Murder Mystery)

- Events thrust the protagonist into engagement with a cast of characters, each hiding a secret, each desperate for love or money or prestige or redemption.
- Everybody who appears in the narrative is connected to another and they all play a role in driving the protagonist into the middle of several mysteries that intersect into one sinister scheme
- The emotional intensity resides in the antagonist’s relationships, while the action of the book is more akin to a romp, if corruption and murder can be called that
- Black humor

In order to confront the man who ruined her life, torched her house, and killed her friend, a young woman must leave the safety of the world she knows and risk everything she values to enter his.

Inner Conflict Scenario: In the aftermath of a fire that destroyed her house, the protagonist discovers that her husband had taken out a second mortgage months after he was declared missing. The man whom she married and thought she knew would never have done such a thing–or so she believes. She needs to find him, but in so doing she may expose the level of her own self-deception and that the perfect lifestyle she thought she inhabited was nothing but lies.

Secondary Conflict Scenario: Searching for answers after a Triad arsonist burns down the protagonist’s house, she uncovers an international cybercrime Ponzi scheme that involves her sister and husband (as possible instigators), and a friend (as victim). The protagonist must travel to unfamiliar Hong Kong to find her husband, clear her sister’s name and avenge her friend.

Setting: The work is set in the current time and the physical setting traverses three worlds: San Francisco, Hong Kong and cyberspace.

The protagonist is a native San Franciscan and her city is in a state of great disruption. Values are shifting and it’s rich versus poor, young versus old, the established community versus the self-entitled disruptors. Google busses get stoned by artists and minimum-wage workers while young, white newcomers from elite colleges get in fights with Hispanic and black teenagers over access to schoolyard basketball courts. San Francisco is in danger of becoming a city that has lost its soul and where only the most affluent can afford to live. I want to show that living in the creative heart of a “disruptive” economy has a downside because it does just that–disrupts–changing a lot of people lives in ways they neither foresaw nor desired.

San Francisco has always been linked with the Asian countries across America’s “other” ocean, never maintaining a purely Eurocentric point of view. In the global economy these ties are stronger than ever. Following her husband’s tracks, my protagonist travels to Hong Kong where the free market economy and bank secrecy laws make it a financial haven for China’s rich, powerful and well connected. Hong Kong is a place of contradictions, where astrologers predict the future from glitzy offices in towering high-rise and business titans burn money in offerings to hungry ghosts. Organized crime is again on the rise as the new mainland overlords are willing to turn a blind eye and hold out a hand. She is not familiar with this world geographically, socially or culturally but it is here she must go to find the answers to her questions.

The internet and cyberspace have generated innovation, disruption and vast wealth. This is the realm of the antagonist as well as my protagonist’s missing husband. In order to find her husband she must explore the flip-side of the creative world of immersive gaming, virtual reality, bitcoin and the deep web–to the underbelly of the new economy where greed and anonymity combine with fatal consequences.

PostPosted: 31 May 2016, 10:35 

Joined: 31 May 2016, 10:28
Posts: 2
Story Statement
My protagonist wants to prove her theory that Yana Jordan, the woman celebrated as the lost and found ‘Chibok girl’, and the silver bullet in the U.S. anti-terror campaign in Africa, is double-dipping.

Sketch of the antagonist
Bill Parker is a brilliant Marine, but he’s also a devout Muslim, zealous to a fault, alienating himself from his comrades, even his brothers in the faith, and resigning his commission from his Marine Corps to join the Secret Service where Muslims are treated like real people. On a short loan to the Marines for a secret operation against the Nigerian Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, Parker turns himself over to the enemy, forcing the U.S. government into a quiet prisoner swap. Soon nineteen notorious terrorists walk into freedom, but Parker stays behind to prepare the Boko Haram fighters for a major assault.

Breakout titles:
Trading Brothers
Missing in Advance
Foreign Exchange

Comp Books
Terminal Rage, by A. M. Khalifa – Thriller (terrorism) with fascinating characters, settings and plot twists.
Foreign Agent, by Brad Thor – upcoming thriller (U.S dramatic response to terror threat abroad/betrayal/spies): “brilliant thriller as current as tomorrow’s headlines.”

Conflict line
To settle an old score with the U.S. government and military establishment, a former Marine uses a disarming ruse to secure release of nineteen Islamic terrorists.

Secondary Conflicts
The secondary conflict is that of the protagonist, Sam Knox, who owes her recruitment by the CIA to a poor self-image and t her faulty theory on men – that every man is a ‘pollinator’ (only after her sap). Her desire for and resentment of men are matched only by her suspicion of women. Ironically, this combination of flaws, which will lead her to the brink of unveiling Yana Jordan, will also lead her away from the discovery of Parker’s schemes. Had Parker not made that last telephone call to Jordan, throwing light on their emotional entanglement and the conflict of humanity with extreme faith, he might have got away.

The novel has for background and setting an ongoing international intrigue: the 2014 kidnap by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, of nearly 300 high school girls widely known as the “Chibok girls”. (The girls, except the two were rescued in May 2016, are still in captivity.)The novel is partially set in the Sambisa Forest, a wide stretch of uncharted savannah which Boko Haram has chosen as headquarters and the Chibok girls are located, according to international media reports and U.S. intelligence reports. The military setting is the two tiny, far flung towns in North Western Cameroon, where the US special forces contingent, Task Force Tango is based. Part of the novel is set at the White House; the U.S. Secret Service’s field offices in New York and Rome, the Nigerian capital (Abuja), the Cameroonian political and commercial capitals (Yaounde and Douala) and the U.S. diplomatic missions in Nigeria and Cameroon.

PostPosted: 31 May 2016, 12:36 

Joined: 31 May 2016, 10:28
Posts: 2
Story Statement
My protagonist wants to prove her theory that Yana Jordan, the woman celebrated as the lost and found ‘Chibok girl’, and the silver bullet in the U.S. anti-terror campaign in Africa, is double-dipping.

Sketch of the antagonist
Bill Parker is a brilliant Marine, but he’s also a devout Muslim, zealous to a fault, alienating himself from his comrades, even his brothers in the faith, and resigning his commission from his Marine Corps to join the Secret Service where Muslims are treated like real people. On a short loan to the Marines for a secret operation against the Nigerian Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, Parker turns himself over to the enemy, forcing the U.S. government into a quiet prisoner swap. Soon nineteen notorious terrorists walk into freedom, but Parker stays behind to prepare the Boko Haram fighters for a major assault.

Breakout titles:
Trading Brothers
Missing in Advance
Foreign Exchange

Comp Books
Terminal Rage, by A. M. Khalifa – Thriller (terrorism) with fascinating characters, settings and plot twists.
Foreign Agent, by Brad Thor – upcoming thriller (U.S dramatic response to terror threat abroad/betrayal/spies): “brilliant thriller as current as tomorrow’s headlines.”

Conflict line
To settle an old score with the U.S. government and military establishment, a former Marine uses a disarming ruse to secure release of nineteen Islamic terrorists.

Secondary Conflicts
The secondary conflict is that of the protagonist, Sam Knox, who owes her recruitment by the CIA to a poor self-image and t her faulty theory on men – that every man is a ‘pollinator’ (only after her sap). Her desire for and resentment of men are matched only by her suspicion of women. Ironically, this combination of flaws, which will lead her to the brink of unveiling Yana Jordan, will also lead her away from the discovery of Parker’s schemes. Had Parker not made that last telephone call to Jordan, throwing light on their emotional entanglement and the conflict of humanity with extreme faith, he might have got away.

The novel has for background and setting an ongoing international intrigue: the 2014 kidnap by the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, of nearly 300 high school girls widely known as the “Chibok girls”. (The girls, except the two were rescued in May 2016, are still in captivity.)The novel is partially set in the Sambisa Forest, a wide stretch of uncharted savannah which Boko Haram has chosen as headquarters and the Chibok girls are located, according to international media reports and U.S. intelligence reports. The military setting is the two tiny, far flung towns in North Western Cameroon, where the US special forces contingent, Task Force Tango is based. Part of the novel is set at the White House; the U.S. Secret Service’s field offices in New York and Rome, the Nigerian capital (Abuja), the Cameroonian political and commercial capitals (Yaounde and Douala) and the U.S. diplomatic missions in Nigeria and Cameroon.

PostPosted: 31 May 2016, 18:37 

Joined: 25 May 2016, 22:11
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement: Starting over in Europe, the lives of two New York women intersect in meaningful ways, changing the way they view their experiences abroad.

2. Antagonist: George’s grandfather, Felix, becomes the central antagonist force. As one of the novel’s three primary narratives, Felix’s history is peppered with outlandish stories, quirky life lessons and a quick wit, but beneath his cheery visage, heartbreak simmers. As George’s benefactor, Felix was the one who sent his granddaughter to London three years earlier. Now, he won’t address his condition, while she can’t ignore it – a point that provides the plot’s central tension, rippling throughout the relationships George makes abroad.

In London, George meets Hadley Wolfson Payne, a more traditional antagonist, who constantly challenging George’s romantic relationships, political opinions and overall decision to return to America. Hadley wants nothing for than for George to stay in London, but her heavy-handed pursuit proves challenging.

It has been three years since George has set foot in America. In that time, she has grown apart from her grandfather Felix and best friend Lila Brown. When Lila shows up in Europe suddenly engaged and secretly married, it appears to George that her best friend is leading the very life she intended to create. This second stream of conflict is constantly in the back of the protagonist’s mind as she oscillates between here and there, now and then.

3. Breakout Title:
Night Rhythms
Shoreditch, Midnight
The Northern Line

4. Genre & Comparable Titles:
Upmarket women’s fiction
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler: Danler’s debut novel about a conflicted female protagonist finding her footing – and herself – in New York’s fast-paced restaurant scene is thematically and stylistically similar to my own manuscript. My novel explores what it means to be an early twenty-something in a new place, set amidst a shifting global landscape of terrorism and 24/7 connectivity.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: Egan’s exceptional novel paints a picture of modern times in the music industry through various vignettes that unexpectedly overlap. While I certainly cannot compare my writing to Egan’s award-winning prose, my novel is similarly told through intertwined perspectives in the late days of the Recession, global terrorism, and the 2012 Olympics.

5. Primary Conflict: Her grandfather’s sudden decline forces an insatiable young woman to choose between the life she has always wanted – in a foreign land, replete with new love, exciting friendships and a burgeoning career – and the home she abandoned.
6. Secondary Conflict
Inner Conflict:
George is struggling to merge the life she has always dreamed of with the life she has. Thanks to her grandfather, she has fled the damages that haunted her in New York and made her own life in London, but home is never far from her mind. What does she owe the people she loves? What does she owe herself?

In Istanbul, George’s carefree best friend Lila is ignoring the example set by her parents and diving straight into a love she never saw coming. All of a sudden, every action has a consequence and hers is not the only voice that bears influence. When you’re kept apart by paperwork, is it really as simple as signing on the dotted line, saying I Do? Can you forge a life with someone when you’re still paving your own journey?

Social Conflict:
George is attempting to resuscitate her relationship with Lachlan Wilder in London when she learns of her grandfather’s decline. As a teenager, George first met Lachlan when she visited England on an exchange program. When she returns in her twenties, the relationship soars then sours when traces of George’s past romances come calling. As she attempts to reconcile distance and desire, she must navigate a love shaped by different beliefs, cultures and countries.

7. Setting: Setting plays a critical role in all aspects of the novel. Split across London, New York and a small seaside town in Turkey, the characters are physically separated but nearly always connected through modern technology. Global politics, societal trends and love vibrate through each narrative.

The novel opens in East London at the start of the 2012 Olympics. The city is ebullient, the air lighter somehow, and yet the protagonist is thwarted by her own dysfunctional going-away party. As the story weaves in and out of George’s perspective, her colorful friends fill in the bar and her story, in broken trains of thought, slurred sentences and impassioned embraces. Throughout all of the noise, the heavy thump of bass, the winding bodies and blinding intentions, it is apparent George is waiting for someone. Her thoughts move from Lachlan to Lila. Will either show? Can anyone convince her to stay?

At the start of the novel, we see Lila arranging a flight out of Istanbul. Only two things are clear: her marriage is in tatters – ostensibly beyond repair – and she is leaving, going anywhere away from her parents with whom she is vacationing. For the better part of a year, Lila has been living in a beachside town three hours south of Istanbul, in a country she knows little about, with a man she met one night in Paris. It is unclear which way her heart will be swayed: back to him or to London?

As the storyline sweeps back to America, Felix’s life shifts between New York and a riverside town in Pennsylvania. Felix is first-generation American, and many of his discoveries – and struggles – mirror his granddaughter’s new life in London. Felix’s stories balloon up and expand across the Atlantic, reaching his granddaughter in unexpected moments.

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 09:44 

Joined: 29 May 2016, 07:55
Posts: 1
Assignment Submission from Saskia Ages...





COMPARISONS/INFLUENCES ( I'm going to say influences rather than comparable novels. This is my first novel. It is my intention to write a good read -the first in a series. I crafted elements that I found attractive from other styles that influenced me.
Specific influences:












PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 17:57 

Joined: 01 Jun 2016, 02:20
Posts: 1
The Death of the Vampire Elvis by James Alan Riley

The Story Statement:

Inspector Aloysius Watt investigates the recurring murder of an unidentified woman on the outskirts of Paradise and discovers a cyclic pattern in the clues, a pattern which leads him on a dark journey through time and gothic literature in search of the vampire Elvis, a killer who has the ability to move with ease from one gothic literary text to the next in search of the perfect performance, the repeated murder of jane doe his magnum opus.

The Antagonist:

The vampire Elvis is the consummate professional. He is a prima donna, entitled and egotistical, but when it comes to the work, a perfectionist. He is an artist, and his medium is the murder of jane doe, which he performs as if each performance were his last. He is the present and the past, coming and going at will, appearing on cue from the nothing that came before and returning to that same nothing. He moves through tragedy like a shadow through shade, like a slow motion bolt of lightning, vanishing into the mist and slipping into the wings only to reappear of a sudden, ascending from the spots. He knows real Art takes time and effort if you want to get it right. You can’t just go blundering your way along, slinging your blade this way, hoping you might slash an artery or sever a vein or pierce one of the many sad chambers of the human heart. There is no denying he has skills, and he’s not afraid to use them, whirling in a mesmerized jitterbug of motion. He knows the mashed potato and the funky monkey, the alligator crawl. He knows them all, and he slides from one smooth step to the next with no visible transition save a tango kick and dip as he slips his arm around the small of some jane doe’s back and pulls her close to him for one long, last, lingering Look into my eyes. He is Jack the Ripper and O.J. Simpson and Dracula and Mr. Hyde, dripping stage presence and deadly with commitment. He is the Son of Sam and Albert Fish and, ultimately, the cancer that killed my father.

The Breakout Title:

The Death of the Vampire Elvis

the resurrection of jane doe

Vampires at the Bijou

The Genre and Approaching Comparables:

The Death of the Vampire Elvis is, on the surface, meta-detective fiction with a gothic twist. The story involves not only the unraveling of the recurring murder of jane doe, but the idea that certain significant events repeat themselves ad infinitum not only in the world of reality but in the world of any fiction. Paul Auster’s City of Glass comes to mind as a beautiful example of the genre The Death of the Vampire Elvis attempts to explore, but there are many others from Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita to, more recently, Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park.

The Primary Conflict:

While investigating the murder of an unidentified woman known only as jane doe, Inspector Aloysius Watt finds himself in pursuit of a vampire Elvis impersonator, a villain who views the murder as a performance he conducts as if it were multiple drafts of a work of art, gradually perfecting his craft with each new incarnation of the crime.

Other Matters of Conflict:

The inner conflict of the protagonist:

Inspector Watt suspects he is somehow connected to the vampire Elvis in ways that make him complicit to the murder of jane doe. He has dreams that he himself is the murderer. (He sees the bloody knife in his hand. He follows in the killer’s bloody footsteps which seem to tango from the scene of the crime before they disappear). Watt also fears that by participating as a witness to the murder, he enables the performance to continue by providing the egotistical murderer with an audience.

The secondary conflict:

The role of women as victim in fiction and film underlies the recurring murder of jane doe. Unnamed throughout, jane doe must suffer the repeated brutal assault of the vampire Elvis, a villain she is, at the outset, unable to resist. As the conflict develops, however, she becomes gradually more conscious of the role she plays in the performance and, as a result, less and less willing to participate. The fulcrum of her role in the performance comes when she decides it is time for her to fight back, which she does with vengeance.

The Setting:

The scene of the crime is the entrance to an alley only a few short paces from a local establishment in Paradise known as the Blackgold Lounge, a seedy honkytonk frequented by those, known mostly, for being addicted to drink. The entrance to the alleyway is lit by a single streetlamp, the dark night pervasive through which the killer has vanished entirely. There is a Bijou down the street where The Death of the Vampire Elvis flashes in bright letters across the yellow marquis. We frequent the honkytonk, we join the audience at the Bijou theater, and we repeatedly find ourselves hiding in the shadows of the alley with Inspector Watt, anticipating the click of jane doe’s heels as she approaches the moment of her own death.

The Pitch:

The Death of the Vampire Elvis by James Alan Riley

Inspector Aloysius Watt, an O.C.D. crime scene investigator with a huge inferiority complex, is called late one night to the scene of a gruesome murder outside the Blackgold Lounge, a seedy honkytonk on the outskirts of Paradise, where he discovers the body of an unidentified woman dressed in a blue raincoat and lying in the street. As Watt studies the few clues available to him, he begins to suspect that he has somehow investigated this murder before, not one similar in circumstances but this specific murder, the blue raincoat, the Blackgold Lounge. It all sounds too familiar to him, which it should . . .

The killer, Watt soon discovers, is a prima donna vampire Elvis impersonator (in full zirconia) who has the ability to move with ease from one gothic literary text to the next. The vampire Elvis is an artist in search of the perfect performance, and the murder of jane doe is his magnum opus.

It is a realization that leads Watt on a chase both through and against time as he attempts to prevent the vampire Elvis from returning to the stage for his next performance.

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 19:12 

Joined: 26 May 2016, 04:18
Posts: 1
Assignment 1 - Story Statement

Carolyn is determined to tell Kate the truth, but will she risk the friendship that has become increasingly important to her?

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.

Eighty-four year old artist, Kate Hemple, is mourning the death of her daughter and the loss of her grandsons who've moved to the east coast after their mother died. The usual active, happy Kate barely goes out anymore and her paintings have become dark. When she meets Carolyn, everything changes. Carolyn has returned an oil painting Kate made fifty-eight years ago; the only one she ever painted of her grandmother, the woman who raised her. Kate jumps back into life. She travels and goes to baseball games with her grandson again, always including her new friend Carolyn. When Carolyn offers to resume the genealogy search Kate's daughter had started, she is not at all interested. Carolyn goes ahead anyway and discovers a secret held for 84 years - Kate and her mother were sisters. She is determined to tell Kate the truth, but the three people who do know the true story are adamantly against it. Carolyn ignores their warnings, only to have Kate thwart every attempt she makes. She is not interested in finding any new relatives.

Assignment 3 - Title
The Lady in the Dining Room
The Artist and the Portrait
The Family Tree

Assignment 4 - similar titles
A Fall of Marigolds Susan Meissner, published 2014 - two POVs, 2 time periods, a beautiful object that reveals a secret - protagonist wrestles with her decision to reveal the secret

The Lake House Kate Morton published 2015 (family secret - shocking truths from a past long gone are revealed - intertwined destinies )

What She Left Behind Ellen Marie Wiseman pub 2013 - yearning to belong, 2 different time periods, alternating POVs, psychological turmoil, secrets

Lie and Other Acts of Love Kristy Woodson Harvey (lies affect those we love) pub 2016

The Silent Sister Diana Chamberline, pub 2014 - family secret revealed and what will the character do with this new found reality

Assignment 5 - Write your own conflict line - the antagonist(s) must be inferred.
After uncovering a secret held for eighty-four years, the newly discovered niece is determined to reveal the truth despite adamant warnings against it.

Assignment Six: Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have - Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case
Inner Conflict of Protagonist: Carolyn is determined to tell Kate the truth; that she and her mother were sisters though she is afraid to risk the friendship they've formed. It has become increasingly important to her. She wrestles with her decision made more complicated by the three people who know the deeply held secret: her great aunt (who revealed the secret), her friend, Anita, who she has told as well as Kate's grandson, Ben, who she also brought into her confidence. The three adamantly demand she not tell Kate. The truth would destroy her.

Scenario: Carolyn visits her deceased mother's 95 year old aunt, the only relative alive who might be able to tell her why her mother and Kate have the same parents listed on their birth certificates. While sitting under the canopy of a Copper Beach tree with views of the Hudson River in the distance, Aunt Nan discloses the deeply held family secret. Despite her adamant warning against it, Carolyn insists on telling Kate the truth. She and Kate have developed a friendship, one that has become increasingly important to Carolyn. She is alone, now that her mother has died, and she desperately wants to be part of a family - and here's Kate, her real aunt. As Carolyn gazes off into the distance, digesting all that Nan has told her, her stomach roils. What if the truth ruins their relationship, ruins the friendship they've formed? Afraid to risk that, Carolyn wrestles with her decision.

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?

Secondary Conflict: When Kate asks Carolyn to use her expertise as a fitness professional to help her grandson control his diabetes, Carolyn is reluctant. Ben is a college student. Why would he want a middle aged fitness instructor? But, she sees this as an opportunity and therefore agrees. Working with Ben will keep her in touch with Kate despite the fact that they live 3,000 miles from each other. She believes it will strengthen their friendship and give her the opportunity to tell Kate the truth and when she is successful and Ben's diabetes is in control, possibly not needed medication anymore, Kate will love her for it. Then, when she reveals the secret, Kate will embrace her as family.
Scenario: Carolyn invites Ben to join her in Central Park for a photo shoot. He's told her he's interested in photography, as she is. She plans to have them walking several miles, making the so-called photo shoot into a workout session. Ben agrees but in the midst of the walk, he gets violently ill. He admits he hasn't been taking his insulin. Carolyn rushes him to the hospital and calls his father. When his father arrives, he lets it be known that he doesn't trust Carolyn. He doesn't understand the fast friendship she and his mother-in-law Kate have developed and he certainly doesn't understand why Ben would agree to have Carolyn as his fitness trainer. He advises his son to find someone closer to his own age and let's Carolyn know that he is going to be watching her.

Assignment Seven - Sketch out setting in detail
The story opens in a dining room in a New York City apartment. The newscaster on the radio is speaking about Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunt, which sets the reader in the time period; the early 1950s. Chapter two jumps fifty-eight years to a nursing home in New Rochelle, NY with its pale green walls and pungent odor of urine. Several following chapters take place in locales in and around New Rochelle including the Rock Garden at the New York Botanical Garden and then to Venice, California where the colorful flowers of Birds of Paradise and the salty scent of the Pacific infuse the pages. The story then shifts to 1915 Brooklyn in another dining room along with other locales, all infused with the fabrics and furnishings of the time period. The story continues to weave between early twentieth century and early twenty-first where the characters bring us to baseball games when the crack of the bat resounds through Chavez Ravine, to a ride on the New York City subway with its orange floor and straw seats, to Central Park and the magnificent red rocks in Zion National Park to name a few. The sounds, scents, and textures nestle the reader in each setting evoking the particular period of the time.

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 22:12 

Joined: 01 Jun 2016, 22:03
Posts: 1
Assignment One: Story Statement
Confront the darkest demons of her mind and have the life she longs for.

Assignment Two: The Antagonist
The antagonistic force exists within the protagonist herself.

On the heels of her divorce from a wealthy controlling man, the brilliant and beautiful Dominique is finally on her own and ready to live the life that she always wanted. Unfortunately, tokens of her past experiences still remain. Faced with the myriad challenges of a life with bipolar disorder, the emotional trauma from a failed marriage, and the remnants of unhealthy emotions from a childhood spent in an orphanage, Dominique battles to hold on to her independence.

Despite her rough past, the protagonist now has every opportunity to succeed. She’s thrust into an environment with loving and supportive friends, her personal brilliance has opened up unlimited doors of opportunities, and she’s been given another chance at love. Finally, she has everything that she’s ever hoped for.

Dominique becomes her own worst nightmare when she refuses to accept her predicament and to get the treatment she needs. Without the proper care, her wild passions lead her to a string of bad decisions that threaten to cost her everything.

Assignment Three: Breakout Titles
Soul on Fire

Assignment Four: Comparables
Multicultural Romance
Contemporary Romance
• Sweet Passion Series Angela Benson
o Delicious and steamy romance
o Internal conflicts and struggles with love
• Keeping Secrets (The Essien Trilogy #1) by Kiru Taye
o International Appeal

Assignment Five: Conflict
Primary Conflict
A young woman with a troubled past finally on the verge of having it all, battles to keep her mind and relationships from spiraling out of control.

Secondary Conflict
Dominique’s determination to live life on her own terms is no match for her unquenchable passions and desire to be loved. She finds herself in a cycle of volatile relationships that threaten to be the undoing of more than just her fragile heart. She’s trapped between the passion of unstable loves and the highs and lows of her own mind.

Assignment Six: Inner Conflict
With a single goal of becoming a strong, independent woman, who is comfortable in her own skin, Dominique divorces herself from a bipolar diagnosis and the emotional trauma from her past.

Assignment Seven: Setting
Dominique and her dynamic friends attend Georgetown University located in a spirited area of Washington DC. The multitude of posh bars and lounges in and near Georgetown serve as a playground for the grad students as they navigate the steamy and always difficult terrain of young adult relationship. Dominique and her childhood friend live in a stately home in historic Georgetown that belongs to her ex-husband.

To get away from the pressures of school, Dominique routinely returns to the opulent high-rise apartment in the upper east side of Manhattan that she co-owns with her ex-husband. It becomes her escape when the challenges of love become to much.

Dominique journeys to the Southside of Chicago, the humble home of her soul mate, Josh. As she explores the authentic and poverty stricken neighborhoods, she learns the truth about Josh’s mother, and finally understands the reason for his hardened heart.

Finally, Dominique journeys back to her homeland of Mali. In the heat of the sun and the beautiful tropical settings, she’s finally ready to confront her past. It’s also where she discovers the truth about her ex-husband and her parents.

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 23:12 

Joined: 25 May 2016, 22:28
Posts: 1

Matt Holder must find his mentor’s murderer and rescue a human trafficking victim.


Nick Sanchez and his boss, Porter, are predators. Running a front for a human trafficking cartel, they abduct and exploit runaways in the Grand Strand: Myrtle Beach. There, the almighty tourism dollar fuels a feeding frenzy of deviants looking to satisfy insatiable desires, and a transient population makes trafficking easy. Porter answers to the cartel director – a stunning woman with a scar searing a gulch from her left ear to her mouth. Rumors abound, but she’ll confirm only that the man who gave it to her did not escape so lightly. It was she and her deputy, Boz, who ordered the hit on Matt’s mentor when they were led by the true thief to believe he was stealing from them.

Trolling a bus station, Porter targets a young runaway, Genie. He forces her into a life of prostitution. Matt’s quest for his mentor’s murderer and Genie’s plight at the hands of predators collide when Matt’s female investigator, Alex, ventures too close and is captured by Porter. Matt must risk his life to save Alex and Genie. Worse, Matt will soon discover another villain – one lurking beneath the genteel surface of his beloved Charleston and closer than he could have imagined.


1) Evil in the Holy City

Pros: Has good shelf appeal, and plays on Charleston’s long-standing nickname of “the Holy City.” Highlights the primary conflict.
Cons: May dissuade readers who mistake it for a “Vatican scandal” story as opposed to a legal suspense (although cover art could be used to counter that).

2) A Silent Partner

Pros: More readily identifies the story as a legal suspense to readers looking for that genre. Also hints at the plot by inviting the reader to look for the player who is operating quietly in the background.
Cons: Does not convey the ominous nature of the threat – human trafficking – at the core of the story. Does not give any nod to the setting.


This is a legal suspense in an iconic Southern setting, in the vein of The Quiet Game and its sequels in the Penn Cage series by Greg Iles, or The Professor by newcomer, Robert Bailey, and its sequel. Like those novels, this one is the seminal story of a series.

Of the two comps, my plot is more comparable to that of The Quiet Game. In The Quiet Game, successful lawyer turned novelist, Penn Cage, sets out to unravel a mystery relating to threats against his father. He enlists the help of a beautiful journalist, and the path they take leads them into the fray of a decades-old unsolved civil rights murder that spun out of the South’s dark history of slavery. In my story, a young rising star lawyer sets out to unravel the mysterious death of his mentor. He enlists the help of a spirited young female investigator, and the path they follow leads them into the underworld of human trafficking – a modern-day kind of slavery. A primary difference in the stories is that the plot line in The Quiet Game could happen only to a protagonist with inside ties to the FBI or similar professional level players whereas the plot line in my story could – does – happen to the regular guy next door.

In terms of writing style, mine is more comparable to Mr. Bailey’s which is more typical of general commercial fiction whereas Mr. Iles’s style, while commercial, also blends in some literary fiction characteristics.

Like the comps, my story capitalizes on the current fascination with the South, especially southern cities which epitomize the public’s notion of the antebellum South. All three stories feature protagonists who were, for the most part, minding their own business until trouble came looking for them, and who engage the help of female co-protagonists that become love interests. All three stories use the trappings of lawyers and the legal system as a backdrop for the story.

Legal suspense novels might be loosely categorized into two story models: (1) stories in which the plot stems from a drama in the lawyer’s own life or firm; and (2) stories in which the lawyer is more of a vessel for a story stemming from the facts of a case he takes on. Those in the latter category usually include more courtroom drama whereas the former focus on drama/danger outside the courtroom. (For widely-recognized examples, think Grisham’s The Firm, or The Summons, as opposed to Runaway Jury by the same author.) Like The Quiet Game, my story is of the first variety.


A young lawyer’s quest for answers about his mentor’s death leaves him and his female investigator entangled in the dark world of human trafficking, and he must ultimately risk his life to save hers.



Matt Holder never met his father. The man left home one day with the last of the grocery money to buy milk and never returned, abandoning Matt’s pregnant mother. Though Matt was fortunate to have a mother who loved him unconditionally and a salt-of-the-Earth grandfather who stepped in as a father figure, he cannot help but wonder, what if. The absence of Matt’s father fosters his particularly close relationship with his childless mentor, Jackson Banks, and that closeness heightens his sense of loss when Banks is killed. Unknown to Matt, it also makes him more vulnerable to a hidden villain who has noticed Matt’s attraction to father figures.


Matt engages a private investigator, Alex Connor, to help him investigate his mentor’s death. Matt is surprised – but not disappointed – to learn that Mr. Connor is actually Miss Connor, and quite attractive. What he does not anticipate is that Alex has a string of disastrous relationships in her past, including a psychotic train-wreck named Gunner, and she is hesitant to make yet another mistake by becoming romantically involved with a man she thinks has abandonment issues relating to his father. She also is concerned that, if Jackson Banks was murdered, he might well have been involved in something that would knock him right off of the pedestal on which Matt has placed him. If she becomes romantically involved with Matt, will she be strong enough to give him bad news if she succeeds in finding what he is looking for?


Charleston: the belle of the antebellum South. The mere mention of her name conjures images of regal white egrets, moss-draped live oaks, expansive marshes, and an old-world gentility and charm. The hundreds of steeples gracing her skyline inspired her nickname – the Holy City. Established in the 1600s, Charleston is hardly new to the scene, but she has certainly enjoyed a resurgence in recent years as sophisticated world travelers and the likes of Conde Nast have identified the City as one of the most fascinating and hospitable spots on the globe. This bastion of manners and civility might be the last place on Earth that one would expect to be confronted by modern-day human trafficking. Then again, any City this old harbors its secrets.

Nearby Myrtle Beach could not offer a better contrast for a tale of good and evil. One of the most visited vacation spots in the U. S., it swarms with portly tourists shoveling in calabash-style fried seafood, big-muscled bikers wearing “Gun Show” T-shirts, old men wearing sandals and socks, underage kids drinking beer and making out under the pier, and tattoos, tattoos, tattoos. All basking in a twenty-four/seven pulsing neon glow. It’s kind of like an old Jimmy Buffett song – only drunker and dirtier. Dubbed the Grand Strand, it boasts some of everything, and all of it on a grand scale: amusement parks for thrill seekers, huge theme-based restaurants like Planet Hollywood, golf courses and fireworks. Not surprisingly, it also has a darker side. A much darker side. The money that surges through the area inevitably works like chum in the water to attract predators who hang out on the fringes looking to take advantage of any opportunity. For a fee, they will make the full spectrum of sins available, from the little white lies like illegal gambling, to drugs, prostitution, or worse. Pick your poison. The population in the area fluctuates by as much as almost 500,000 on a busy holiday. With that many transients coming and going at every hour of every day, a person can easily arrive undetected and disappear just as easily. Add to all of that a steady stream of runaways and undocumented workers, and you have a trafficker’s dream.

The juxtaposition of these two vastly different neighboring communities creates the perfect setting for a young lawyer accustomed to the more genteel pace of life of a stately southern city to find himself suddenly faced with the horror of an organized human trafficking ring – practically in his own backyard. The timeliness of this story in this setting was underscored when a recent real life law enforcement effort exposed a sex trafficking ring in Myrtle Beach. This is not a far-fetched story that could happen only to someone with FBI contacts or Navy Seal experience, and it is all the more gripping because it is happening to the regular guy next door.

PostPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 23:55 

Joined: 26 May 2016, 01:13
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement

Stop the cult that slaughtered your race from starting a war to kill you.

2. The Antagonist

The Mietmoda is the cult responsible for slaughtering the Tribe of Sansolo prior to the start of this story. They now believe that one Tribe member survived. Tribe members are powerful Earth healers and beloved by the world. The Mietmoda has secretly recruited a massive army consisting of military officers, commanders and advisors from all six nations. They have been hiding in plain sight plotting an attack on an international summit in an effort to force the surviving Tribe member out of hiding and kill her before a united army of the nations can form to protect her. Their spies control the common communication methods and learn that a peace officer has discovered their plot and is leading small coalition to the capital to warn the world leaders. The Mietmoda sends a beastmaster after the peace officer and his coalition to stop them from sounding the alarm. They do not want to draw attention to themselves until the time is right.

3. Breakout Title

Blood of Esta
Born of Earth and Steel
Sword of the Earth

4. Genre and Comps

Genre is adult fantasy.

My novel’s comparable to Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence in setting, in that it takes place on Earth in the future where magic has mixed with the remnants of technology, but they still fight with swords and ride horses. It’s also similar in that it’s an epic story that focuses on the destiny of one main protagonist, rather than a dozen, and is narrated by that protagonist. It’s also comparable to Joe Abecrombie’s stand-alone novel Best Served Cold, in that the main protagonist is a strong female with legendary sword fighting skills looking to take down the people who killed her family.

5. Primary Conflict Line

After hiding her birthright, the last Earth Healer struggles to keep her identity hidden while stopping the cult that slaughtered her race from starting a world war to kill her.

6. Internal and Secondary Conflicts

Pastella is the last of the Tribe. She struggles with letting others help her fight the Mietmoda. She fears people dying for her and tries to take on the biggest threats alone. Her fear even extends to the enemy. She doesn’t believe in killing the Mietmoda soldiers that they encounter for she sees even their deaths as dying for her. This causes a rift between her and her closest friends as they know that the Mietmoda will not rest until she is dead. They take it upon themselves to kill the Mietmoda solders they capture, which further strains their relationship with Pastella.

Zade, the male protagonist and romantic lead, is the one who discovers the Mietmoda’s plan. He falls in love with Pastella before he knows what she really is, and like her friends, struggles with letting her confront the enemy herself. But his bigger struggle is with the jealousy he feels towards Pastella’s best friend and former lover, Finster, who taunts Zade with stories that Pastella’s heart belongs to another man.

7. Setting

The world is Earth three thousand years after a planetary apocalypse that destroyed virtually everything. The apocalypse unlocked magic hidden in the Earth which helped shape the way human society evolved socially, economically and technologically. There is less land, less people and only six nations, which are basically divided by continents. After three millennia, the world has evolved back to the beginning of a new industrial era where machines are powered by magic.

This story takes place in the nation of Adorna. The largest of the six nations in land mass. Thirty years after a great world war, Adorna is still rebuilding its mass transportation infrastructure, forcing the middle and lower classes to revert using carrier beasts to travel across parts of the country. The government and the extremely wealthy use airships, called sky-trains, powered by magic to travel, or personal motorbikes, which have only just been invented. The delay in access to mass transportation is a burden on the lower classes as land travel through many parts of the country is dangerous due to the great distances between towns and cities and the wildness of the uninhabited land.

PostPosted: 03 Jun 2016, 17:50 

Joined: 31 May 2016, 23:55
Posts: 1
Story Statement
- Owen must prove his devotion to his disadvantaged students.

The Antagonist
- Dr. Anthony Watkins is the darling of the education reform movement, an experienced superintendent with a history of dramatically raising test scores without requiring an extra dime of school funding. Since accepting a lucrative contract with Port Barker Public Schools, his winning personality and indisputable results have breathed new hope into the troubled city. His touch seems so magical that no one notices his methods include encouraging low-performer expulsion and replacing teaching with test preparation. If a teacher or principal speaks out against Dr. Watkins’ regime, they are labeled ‘anti-student’ and risk losing their job. It’s all an exciting game to Dr. Watkins, who has the mayor and media to back him up.

Breakout Title
- Hole in the Heart
- Give Them the Lie
- Owen and the Anarchy

Genre: Upmarket Fiction

- Purity (Jonathan Franzen)
Both stories follow a protagonist who, searching for greater independence and identity, leave their normal life to join an idealistic organization in a foreign location. Unsavory truths about the organizations and their revered founders gradually surface, too late for the protagonists to pull out.

- The Jungle (Upton Sinclair)
There is an element of “muckraking” present in my story, an attempt to demonstrate the darker realities of the contemporary education reform movement that I experienced firsthand.

Conflict Line
- A former pre-medder joins a radical teacher program in an urban wasteland, not realizing its methods are actually harming his needy students.

Other Conflicts
Scenario demonstrating protagonist’s inner conflict:
- Owen has always struggled to trust his own heart. When he is celebrated as his school’s first ‘Teacher of the Month,’ he is too gratified to acknowledge the growing evidence that he is not actually benefiting his students at all.

Scenario demonstrating protagonist’s conflict with social environment:
- Owen’s girlfriend Natalie makes disturbing remarks about the change in Owen’s character since he began working for the District. Owen is incensed, since it was Natalie who first suggested he join this teacher program and he is counting on her support. Ultimately, he feels he must choose between the District and her.

- Most of the story takes place in Port Barker, a fictional big city that is well past its prime. The shipping industry that spurred its growth has since moved on to larger cities, leaving Port Barker with too few jobs to support its diverse population. Owen teaches in a particularly run-down part of town, where his Puerto Rican and black students live with drugs, violence, and hopelessness as daily realities. The story opens with Owen’s brief childhood visit there, during which a traumatic experience forever links Port Barker with all that is wrong with the world. Falling in love with a girl from Port Barker finally compels Owen to face the blackness and anarchy the city has come to represent.

The school Owen teaches at has a caring staff and strong sense of community, but is presently under fire from the District for low test scores. The District’s barrage of remedial action, including ‘walkthroughs’ (ruthless inspections) and ‘teacher coaches’ (spies), is casting a sinister shadow over everything the school has become. A growing sense of fear and mistrust pervades every classroom.

PostPosted: 04 Jun 2016, 00:27 

Joined: 04 Jun 2016, 00:22
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement: There are 3 Dirty Deeds (murders) that must be concealed.

2. The antagonist or antagonistic forces in your story
Our heroine, Michelle, is pulled by two antagonistic tensions: (1) protect herself for murdering the wealthy stockbroker and (2) keep the secret from the love of her life: the son of the wealthy stockbroker. This tension is completed by other happenings: (a) her husband, Jason is in Mexico with $200,000 and at risk of his life (b) a NYPD Detective keeps up a line of communication with Michelle because he believes that she can help him in solving the murder of the stockbroker. In addition, Michelle’s lover, Chris is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend, Jill. Jill will do anything she must to get her boyfriend back. One reason is because Chris has inherited approximately $1 billion in the death of his dad, the wealthy stockbroker.

3. Breakout Title
- Dirty Deeds Done Manhattan Style
- The Good, the Bad, and the dead.
- Intricate Relationships and $$$.

4. Two smart comparisons for my Novel
Author: Amanda J. Bremen
Title: Dangers of Deception (volume 1)
Date: 2015
This book is similar to mine in that it has a strong dose of deception which includes cheating, lying, dishonesty, and temptation. The book also has a strong component of manipulation. One reviewer states of “do you know what it’s like to have your whole life ripped out from under you.” This is how some characters feel in my book. Another parallel to my book is a statement by another reviewer which states that the “book has believable characters that make you feel like you could have known some of them your whole life.”

Author: K. Carter
Title: Blood Bound
Date: 2015
The book is similar to mine because of “unforgivable lies, dark secrets, and betrayals. “In Carter’s book, Rian must decide how “thick blood goes.” In my novel, the heroine, Michelle, must address the same issue in multiple points in the novel. One reviewer assesses that the book is “emotionally heavy.” My novel is emotionally heavy with respect to all 4 of the major characters as they make judgments about murder, honesty, money, relationships, their own safety and the safety of others.
5. Write your conflict line
Michelle does not want to go prison but she does not feel that she should not tell her lover that she has killed his father. She truly is in love with Chris and the tension she faces with respect to this issue is a key component to her character.

6. Conditions for the inner conflict and secondary conflict
(a) Michelle does not know what to do to resolve the conflict with her murder and the conflict she faces with her lover. She also faces a different problem :( b) Secondary conflict is how she can get her husband out of Mexico with the money and stay alive. The Mexican drug lord who owns the $200,000 has sent a hit woman out to kill Jason and recover the $200,000. Jason knows that a hit has probably been put out on him. How can he stay alive and keep the $200,000?

7. Final Assignment: Sketch out your setting in detail
The first murder takes place in a fashionable, upscale Manhattan hotel. A wealthy stockbroker has rented the entire lobby and free drinks and appetizers are a part of the setting. . In the setting of a grand opening of a new hotel, a murder is committed. It is in this hotel where the wealthy stockbroker is murdered. The wealthy stockbroker is lured to the hotel room because he believes he is to have sex with a gorgeous young woman. In another scene, a sports car is winding through large hills at a high rate of speed. The two people in the car are involved in a crash. The male passenger has committed to kill the female driver. As such, the driver side airbag has been taken out. Since the driver is interested in killing the passenger, the passenger side airbag has been taken out. As the car winds down a steep canyon, the driver loses control of the car and the car goes over the guard rail and ends up in a canyon. Only one of the two people in the car survive the crash.
Another setting is at Kennedy Airport in New York. Among many passengers in various states of stress the primary focus is upon a single locker in the Lufthansa terminal. The hit woman has a gun pointed to the head of Jason while there is an NYPD officer behind the hit woman. Several passengers see that a gun is being drawn out of the locker. At the same time, the hit woman shoots Jason, the crowd begins to huddle in groups to see what is going to happen. The NYPD detective tells the hit woman to put down her gun. The hit woman tries to shoot the NYPD detective. The gun is knocked out of her hand but she manages to knock the detective’s gun away also. In front of several passengers a graphic battle takes place. As the struggle ensues, airport security, members of the NYPD, emergency personnel, and others converge on the scene.

PostPosted: 04 Jun 2016, 08:48 

Joined: 19 May 2016, 01:33
Posts: 1
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement

Their lives are in no way close to perfect to a fairy tale, but Prim and Tatiana never stop dreaming of becoming a Princess, finding truelove, and living happily ever after.

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.

For Prim ---Mrs. Jun Pohsiri, Prim’s mother, is her antagonist. Jun was a stay at home mother for her 3 children: Preecha, Prim, and Ploy. She was a wife of Mr. Pinai Pohsiri, a Mayer of Maung City in Khon Kean Province, Thailand. As a young woman, she dreamed of being a movie star, but her parents prohibited Jun of following her dream since being in entertainment world was not a respective or proper job for a good Thai girl. An arranged marriage for Jun and Pinai took place when she was 21 years old. Jun was much older than her mother who was married at age of 16, but she felt she was still too young to have a family. After her dreams were taken away, Jun planted the idea of being famous and rich into her children’s brains. She wanted them to fulfill these dreams for her. She was lucky that her oldest son Preecha and youngest daughter Ploy were both beautiful for Thai standards. Her middle child, Ploy was smart but her skin was too dark for the Thai-liking and her face was unfortunately consumed by bad acne. So Jun placed her life priority in making sure that her oldest son’s and youngest daughter’s beauties and popularities were well known. To Jun, her children’s education was not important. She was willing to do anything at any cost for these two children as long as they brought her fame and wealth, even if at the expenses of her middle daughter’s hard work and hard earned money.

For Tatiana ----Dreaming for a life like Princess Dayang Dayang is an antagonist force in her life. Raised by a single mother, Tatiana was always curious to know why her father was not with them. When she asked her mother, Tatiana was told that her father passed away. But it was so unclear about the cause of his death. It was also strange that there was no photograph of her father anywhere. So she came to a conclusion that her father was still alive, but left her and her mother for someone or something else. Longing for love from her own father and wanting to be perfect like other girls in school, she dreamed of being Princess Dayang Dayang from the Tale of Kudarut. The tale was about the Prince of Kudarat Kingdom who felt in love with Princess Dayang Dayang and took on the toughest 3 tasks to seek ingredients for making love potion. At the end the Prince was able to make the Princess love him without using the potion, but they were still not allowed to be married. Not unless Princess Dayang Dayang passed a Test of Singkil dance to prove that she was worthy of becoming future Queen. If the Princess failed, she was to put to death. Dreaming of being loved by a prince like Princess Dayang Dayang, in her younger days Tatiana would practice Singkil dance for hours with a hope that one day after meeting and falling in love with her Prince, she could easily pass the test. When she grew older and met a man whom she thought he was her prince. She married him. But once she learned he was not faithful to her, Tatiana divorced him and locked away her heart. She lived her life without love for over a decade, felt safe in her own cocoon, and planed for it to stay that way. But when Aegeus Sofianos showed up in her life, Tatiana’s deep desire of becoming Princess Dayang Dayang and an urge to fulfill her childhood dream came back. Tatiana had to decide if she was willing to put herself in a new relationship or stay safely protected in her cocoon.

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

Since the novel ( 2 part book novel) is about a journey of two friends who met, fell in love, and turned Greek (Thai + Geek = Theek and Filipina + Greek = Feek) and it’s princessly stories, here are some breakout title I came up with.

1. Theek and Feek: The Princess Stories.

2. Theek and Feek: when Thai and Filipina turned Greek

3. Theek and Feek: when Thai and Filipina turned Greek. Book I: The Princess Stories
(preferred). So ideally, titles for the 2 books will look like these:

(Note: Book I is about how Prim and Tatiana met their Greek Princes and fell in love. Book II is about their journey of becoming Greek.)

when Thai and Filipina turned Greek
Book I: The Princess Stories

when Thai and Filipina turned Greek
Book II: Happily Ever After?

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: 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?

1. Theek and Feek by Ann Podaras vs Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Didn’t I read Caitlin’s Guide to Choosing Precise Comparables? Yes.

Didn’t Caitlin say, “Keep it fresh: Stay away from comparing my book to the ubiquitous bestseller”? Yes.

But it’s hard not to compare Theek and Feek with Fifty Shades of Grey when both books share the same selling point: A dream of becoming a princess. In Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James gave readers a dream and hope of becoming a lucky princess. Ana did not become a Royal Princess, but she was being treated and loved like a princess. In the book Ana was just nobody, but her life had changed because one day by luck a prince charming (Christian Grey - a handsome, rich, famous, and successful man) met and fell in love with her. The book gave readers hope and dream of being loved by a rich prince charming, being spoiled by his wealth, and living happily ever after. It made readers think….that could be me!

Let’s think about this…What if Christian Grey was poor, old, and ugly? What if he did not have a helicopter, fancy cars, money, fame, or success --- but still wanted to have erotic love affair with Ana like the rich Christian Grey did in the book? Will readers be wooed by his old age, ugliness, and poverty? Will readers still think it’s romantic and so dreamy? I don’t think so. Creepy? Yes. Scary? Yes. Disgusting?...Ahh let’s not go too far.

So besides the hot love scenes, another reason that Fifty Shades of Grey was well received because it hits the right spot. Female readers love an idea of becoming a princess, finding true love, being spoiled with fancy things, and living happily ever after. Who wouldn’t? I admit I do. Rich man with good sex? No female readers can say no to that. Thus the story is sold. The idea of becoming a princess urges readers to find out about: who Ana was, how she met the prince, what happen after she met him, how she kept him in relationship, and how it ended. Readers want to know all of these, so they can compare their lives to the book, dream of being Ana, and maybe even pursuing a life like hers.
Fifty Shades of Grey is not the only book that sells “You too can be lucky and become a princess” to readers. The Princess Diaries, Evil wears Prada, Shopaholic series, and Bridget Jones’s Diary are some examples of a normal to hot mess girl whose lives were nothing out of ordinary, but suddenly all was changed after she met a prince (a prince = a dreaming man = either handsome or rich, or both). And then she was treated like a princess.

Tatiana’s and Prim’s princess stories in my novel will feed readers the same craving they have for these princess dream novels. Tatiana’s and Prim’s normal to no-interesting lives as ordinary women will forever change after meeting their perspective Greek Prince Charming. My novel will make readers beg for more about Prim and Tatiana. Readers would be made to want to know about who these girls were, where they came from, how they met the Greek Princes, what happened to them after they met the princes, how their lives have changed after they met the Princes, and how the relationships ended. “Theek and Feek” will remind readers that “Everyone can be Princessand leave them wonder…could that be me?

2. Theek and Feek by Ann Podaras vs Big Girl Pantie by Stephanie Evanovich

Stories about woman issues, especially beauty, will always capture female readers’ attentions, regardless of time. This explains why novels about overweight women, skinny women, or imperfect women made it big in the business. None of us is perfect. This explains why a romantic –comedy novel such as Big Girl Panties made Stephanie Evanovich the New York Times Bestseller. Her book makes readers realize that it is okay to have a larger body ---a large size woman can too be beautiful, find true love, and live happily ever after. And the love that you find is not just any love; it is a true love from a rich and handsome man. This type of novel shares the pains and burdens of women with imperfections and gives them hope and dream. Big Girl Panties makes readers think---hey, I am big, but I am too beautiful and I am too can score a rich and handsome man. Bet Me, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Good in Bed, Heavy Issue, and Dangerous Curves Ahead are just some examples of book about imperfect body.

Is Theek and Feek selling this idea too?
No and Yes.

No, my book is not about a large size woman. But yes, it sells on the same idea---the idea of how an imperfect woman can too feel beautiful and find love. Prim’s story in this book will share the pains and burdens of a girl whose entire life is interfered by Acne and how this skin disease affects her personality/self-confidence/attitude/career choice/ and love life. This is why Cassandra Bankson’s Acne Foundation/Make up video on Youtube received over 27 million views. It’s because many women share her pain of having acne and dream of looking beautiful…just like she was after she had a makeup on. Acne as a subtheme for Prim’s character in my book will make many readers realize that they are not the only one who have to deal with acne, and they too can be beautiful, be loved by a rich-handsome man, and have a happily ever after.

3. Theek and Feek vs My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movie

I do need to compare my book to this famous movie since after all Theek and Feek is a novel about a Thai and a Filipina who turned Greek.

And not to mention that both my book and this movie do make readers laugh at funny things and angry at conflicts as a result of cultural merger. Both also let readers inside the specific cultural circle and let them experience how it is to have a life in that circle.

One: Cultural Merger: We all love My Big Fat Greek Wedding because it’s funny to see how difficult a Greek father could be in order to let go of his Greek daughter and allow her to marry a non-Greek. A cultural merger is not an easy thing. It can be difficult and can lead to conflicts. And at the same time it can be seen as funny and lead to laughter. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is loved by many because audience enjoy learning about other cultures and laughing at the funny/stupid things caused by culture differences/misunderstandings. We were made to think…if it were me, what would I do? Or I am so glad that’s not me. Theek and Feek will give readers the same joy and entertainment they receive from watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It will make readers laugh at funny/stupid things that occur as a result of cultural mergers: Thai, Filipino, Greek, and American. It will make readers ask themselves questions: What if it were me, will I do the same?

Two: Cultural Circle: In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, writer let audience into Toula’s Greek circle by showing them how it was to be raised as a Greek child in America (readers got to experience the differences and the embarrassments from Toula’s point of view) and how it was to have to live a life as a good Greek daughter = to only marry Greek and produce more Greek babies. The author made audience feel sympathized for Toula’s life and for that fact that she had no freedom to choose, especially when it came to love. She let us in her circle and without knowing, we were on her side flighting for love with her. She made us want to know whether or not she would win the family/cultural conflict battle. She made us want to know more and kept us at our seats while we followed her in a journey for love. And when she succeeded, so did we –we felt the satisfactory and victory from being her troops.

In Theek and Feek, readers will be allowed to experience the same emotion and desire like what audience had for Toula, but from the other side of the fence. Rather than learning how it was like to be a Greek woman/daughter, readers will be let into the Americanized Asian and Greek-to-be circle. Prim and Tatiana will show readers how it is to be women from third world countries trying to make a living in America and what they need to do in order to become Greek and be accepted by the big fat Greek Families. And the fact that both Aegeus’ and Nicholaos’ families (the two Princes Charming in Theek and Feek) are very rich and very well connected within the high D.C. society make it even harder for Prim and Tatiana to meet their HIGH END GREEK expectations. Readers will be kept at their seats wanting to know what kind of things these girls need to do in order to be accepted by these rich Greeks or what are the things they need to do to satisfy their Asian families. Readers’ minds will be poked, stimulated, and convinced. They will want to turn to the next page and the page after, wanting to know what will happen to these girls after they are faced with the Greek families…the very rich Potomac Greek Families.

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.

Primary Conflict – Longing for love from her parents, Prim did anything that was asked of her hoping to one day be called her mother’s golden child and her father’s little princess.

Secondary Conflict – Full of talents and intelligence, Prim was chosen among 100+ applicants for an opportunity with a multimillion dollar tech company in D.C. as the EA for the owner of the firm. But her long time acne problem seemed to hinder more than just her look as it started to affect her self-esteem and work competency.
Sub-Second conflict – Emerging again as a beautiful swan, Prim must learn how to handle her new beauty and balance her work – life desires.

Primary Conflict –Growing up without a father’s love, Tatiana longed for a love from a life partner like the Prince of Kudarat, who would anything for love and never abandon her for his own sake.

Secondary Conflict – Defeated by her first divorce, Tatiana put away her dream of becoming Princess Dayang Dayang and locked away her heart in the tallest tower. But when her new boss made his appearance in her life, Tatiana had to decide if new love would worth the risk and if her longtime dream of finding the Prince of Kudarat would come true.

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.

A. Prim’s Character

1. City Center DC: City Center DC is a Headquarters for Startis, Inc. In real life, City Center DC is a new modern luxurious building in the heart of Washington, D.C. Many high end stores and restaurants, such as Dior, Gucci, or Hermes, are just recently opened their doors in this center. Scenes in Theek and Feek taken placed at City Center DC symbolize a luxurious experience. In comparison, City Center DC is like a Royal Palace. The location symbolizes a new change in Prim’s social/financial status. From a nobody woman, Prim is now someone, who has now set foot on the Royal Palace’s property. Thus, in order to survive in the new environment, many actions will need to be taken and those actions will also lead to many changes to both Prim and the current residents at City Center DC.

2. The James Place in Georgetown, DC: The James Place is a vacant $800K condo owned by Prim’s boss, Nicholaos Stratis. The luxurious properly symbolizes trust between Prim and her boss. This condo is a symbol of Prim’s update status. From an out of the circle/a normal employee, Prim is now moved up in rank and closer to Nikolaos’ circle of trust. It also give readers the first glimpse of how Prim is being treated like a Princess once she meet her Prince’s charming.

3. New York City for Prim: Locally resides in Washington, D.C., each visit to New York City for Prim is a turning point for her next desire and action. New York City is where Prim find her courage and realize that she is too can be beautiful even with severe acne, it is where she is seen and recognized as a beautiful women ---not just an ugly middle child for her mother anymore, and it is where she confronts her fear and reconnect with her dream of finding true love and happiness.

4. Miami: A trip to Miami for Prim is where she is faced problems both professionally and personally. Prim is being challenged to handle personal conflict that could as well lead to potential failure in her career. It is also where she will be faced with an un-expecting personality from Nicholaos. which will lead emotional conflicts for Prim, Nicholaos, and between the two of them.

5. The Embassy of Greece, DC: On the magical night, Cinderella went to a ball, met her Prince Charming, and left her glass slipper. The Embassy of Greece is where the ball held and where Prim will meet her Prince, and leaves something for her Prince.

6. Thailand: Thailand is where Prim reconnects herself spiritually to her root. At the same time, her physical appearance in her hometown also forces her to deal with the Thai cultural expectation and the local norm. It is where Prim has to face her mother and the responsibility her family places on her shoulder. She will be asked to reevaluate herself and her previous actions while living in America and force to make a decision to either return or stay.

B. Tatiana

1. Chelsea Market: Tatiana lives in Chelsea Market, New York City. But this location is more than just a place where she lives and works. Chelsea Market is where Tatiana will be faced with the question if she should open her heart to her new boss, Aegeus, how she is willing to let him in. Tatiana will be challenged of her is willing to pursue her dream of being Princess Dayang Dayang and to risk her heart for a man whom she barely knows.

2. Delacorte Theater, New York City: This is with reader about her Filipina’s background and her dream of being Princess Dayang Dayang. It is also where she will be forced to make a decision to either open the door to her tower where her broken heart laid hidden or to keep it locked and runaway for safety.

3. Filipino American Community (FAC): The mention of FAC is a representation of Tatiana’s charitable heart; how she likes to give back to the community anyway she can. It also a force that lead Tatiana’s and Aegeus’ character to their next event…Las Vegas.

4. Las Vegas: This is where Tatiana’s relationship with her proves that she is making the right decision to open her heart to feel love again. It is also where her relationship with Aegeus will be known and tested. The result of Las Vegas is what leads Aegeus to take on the toughest task in their relationship ---just like what the Prince of Kudarat had to do to earn his love from Princess Dayang Dayang.

5. Manila, the Philippines: Lost in her own emotions and pains, Tatiana retrieves herself to a safe haven in Manila where she called home. Manila is where Tatiana will be faced with her childhood memory and challenged with her current circumstance. It is where she will be asked if she is ready to do a Test of Singkil Dance and prove that she is worthy of becoming the future Queen.

C. For both Characters: The appearance of the Kane Show:

The Kane show is the #1 radio morning show in Washington DC. It appears in Theek and Feek several time. The role of the show is to emphasize the normalness of Prim’s and Tatiana’s characters --- to make readers fell that story is real to life. It also subconsciously tells readers that these girls are just like everyone else. Another important of the Kane show appearance is a sign of new change. Each time the show appears, new action is taken and lead to a new chapter in life for either Prim or Tatiana.

PostPosted: 06 Jun 2016, 00:39 

Joined: 25 May 2016, 22:39
Posts: 1
STORY STATEMENT: A time-traveling, 21st Century African-American teen becomes Benjamin Franklin’s clerk in 1787 and saves the Constitutional Convention.

ANTAGONISTIC FORCE/ANTAGONIST CHARACTERS: Slavery, a legal system existing throughout the United States at the time of the Constitutional Convention, is the main antagonistic force, placing protagonist Marcus Santana in constant conflict and danger. There are three antagonists, all working together. Johnathon Swinbourne is a Philadelphia merchant and shipper who makes most of his money trading slaves. Lucas Rush is an African-American bounty hunter who works for Swinbourne capturing runaway slaves. Timothy Wimpole is the Tory tailor so deeply indebted to Swinbourne he must do the merchant’s bidding or wind up in debtor’s prison. Swinbourne and Rush seek to enslave Marcus and his love interest, Elise, for monetary gain. Wimpole has personal reasons for hating Marcus’s employer and mentor, Benjamin Franklin, and wants both revenge against Franklin and the British back in power. All three are co-conspirators in the plot to blow up the Constitutional Convention and America’s political elite. Their aim is to prevent the creation of a strong central government capable of abolishing the slave trade and keeping Great Britain from regaining its colonies.


Benjamin Franklin’s Rising Sun—Book I of the Marcus Santana Time-Travel Chronicles.

Towards Freedom in the Time of Slavery.

'A Republic…If You Can Keep It!’


The All Clear series by Connie Willis – Time travel novels in which the characters travel back in time and have to adjust to new eras.

Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard by Sally Cabot – An historical novel about the relationships between Benjamin Franklin, his wife Deborah Read, and William Franklin, his son by another woman. Similar in that it seeks to portray Franklin, the man behind the legend and is set in Philadelphia in the 18th century, although in the years prior to the Revolution.

Michael Crichton’s Timeline (modern historians travel back in time to medieval France and battle its various challenges to effect a rescue) meets Howard Fast’s April Morning (the story of the Battle of Lexington and Concord told from the point of view of a young combatant) or Esther Forbes’s Johnny Tremaine (a young Boston apprentice meets various historical figures and learns
life lessons as the American Revolution begins).

PRIMARY CONFLICT: An African-American teen from the 21st Century battles 18th century slavery and racism to save the Constitutional Convention and find his way home.

PROTAGONIST’S INNER CONFLICT: Whether to act in accordance with his conscience and do what he is certain is right or compromise his principles to promote a greater good. For example, Marcus, a very honorable young man, insists slavery is as wrong as anything can be; that it should not be countenanced by the Constitution; and that he has a duty to protest. But through his mentor, Benjamin Franklin, he also knows that without a Constitution that allows slavery to continue, there can be no union amongst the 13 states. Should he protest anyway, or keep silent?

SECONDARY CONFLICT: At the novel’s very beginning, Marcus witnesses his cousin (and school and team mate) commit a violent robbery and then run off. When Marcus is arrested, he faces what he believes is an impossible choice: “rat out” his cousin (his mother’s favorite nephew) and not only violate his own sense of honor, but earn the condemnation of his peers for violating the “code” against snitching; or spend years in prison and ruin both his own future and his hardworking mother’s and father’s reputations.

SETTING: The novel takes place in the historic section of Center City, Philadelphia, in and around Benjamin Franklin’s home, Independence Hall, and Society Hill. The novel begins in the present day, shifts to 1787, and ends back in the present day. Specific settings include: the streets of modern-day Philadelphia (with its skyscrapers, traffic, conveniences, etc.), the streets of 1787 Philadelphia (with its cobblestones, filth, roughness, and decided lack of any convenience); Franklin’s home and garden, the neighboring open-air market, the Philadelphia State House and it’s Assembly Room (where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the convention takes place), the Walnut Street Prison, The Indian Queen Tavern, the London Coffee House, the Delaware River, a slave ship, a New Jersey farm, and the first hot air balloon in America.

PostPosted: 06 Jun 2016, 23:01 

Joined: 26 May 2016, 22:19
Posts: 1
An angry Spinster is forced to battle terrorists to save her vacation and her dignity.

The stigma attached to a woman who remains single into her forties motivates the protagonist, Eleni Makris, to do whatever it takes to avoid becoming a victim. Her insecurity about her singleness has long been a source of stress for her and now she’s caught in a vicious circle of mood swings and hot flashes made worse by it.

The terrorists are a purposefully nameless faction whose plan is to execute American tourists traveling in the Middle East. They are consumed with hate for the West, particularly Americans. Their end game is world domination so they cannot let one, crazy American woman triumph over them. As a matter of pride, they relentlessly pursue Eleni. However, they are poorly funded, disorganized, and outfitted with cheap weapons which serves to fuel their anger and zeal.

Spinster (Revenge on the Nile)
The Spinster’s Revenge

Female Action Adventure/Women’s Fiction
A) The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by Faye Weldon
Like Eleni Makris, the protagonist is an oppressed woman who fights back against the enemy.
B) Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
Agnes is both humorous and adventurous like Eleni Makris.
C. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
The protagonist is a strong, smart, older woman that refuses to be stereotyped.

After her cruise ship is hijacked by terrorists, a vacationing spinster must use her learning annex skills to keep herself and her shipmates alive.

Eleni’s worst enemy is her fear of being stereotyped by the world as a loser who has a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than of finding a husband. The stress of being a caregiver for her aging mother, working in a thankless job, and the hormonal changes of a woman over forty have left her exhausted and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But years of learning annex courses and self-reliance and have also made her a force to be reckoned with. Her desire for romance can’t be fulfilled until she comes to terms with the changes going on in her body and the realization that she defines herself, not society.

Egypt is in the middle of civil unrest and the mounting violence and terror threat has overloaded the local embassies with fleeing tourists, making it impossible to get help from the authorities. A handsome Mossad agent named Ezekiel Halevi, takes it upon himself to save her so he can prove to his superiors that he isn’t too old to stay in the field. But Eleni has no intention of letting anyone rob her of her much-needed vacation and refuses Ezekiel’s help. Sparks fly between them but she is too distracted by her own agenda to flirt with the perfect man for her. Eleni knows she stands a better chance of cashing in on her prepaid excursions if she can just convince her fearful and often bickering shipmates to stay in Egypt with her. Unfortunately, she’s part of an international “Singles over Forty” tour group comprised mostly of women who think she’s lost her mind.

The story begins at night on a small, unseaworthy cruise ship on the Nile River in Egypt. After it’s attacked by terrorists, the action moves throughout the ship, then over the side and into the cold, contaminated Nile in the middle of a rare, violent thunderstorm. Eleni and a cast of colorful characters are chased through the soggy streets of Aswan, get help in a sterile clinic, find rest in a cozy chapel, fragrant with beeswax and jasmine, and after a wild chase in a tiny car, enjoy a traditional Egyptian lunch onboard a felucca. From the Nile, to the Temple of Horus in Edfu at dusk, a lonely road to Esna, a terrorists’ camp, to a loathsome public lavatory, the scenery changes quickly. Eleni and a mouthy British Goth end up in Luxor’s worst neighborhood before moving on to a lavishly appointed hotel. But before they can order dinner, the terrorists find them again as they relax under the magical, twinkling lights of the lush gardens and pools. The story ends with a midnight race to Luxor airport and, in the prologue, a wedding in Tel Aviv, Israel.

PostPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 07:06 

Joined: 07 Jun 2016, 06:58
Posts: 1
Act of Story Statement

To save the middle realm, Cole must accept that the world of her unfinished novel is real and use her burgeoning powers to defeat those trying to dethrone the sprite Sovereign.

PostPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 19:10 

Joined: 17 Feb 2013, 07:48
Posts: 1
The Inheritance of Thieves
by Pamela Dae

Story Statement:
Attorney Elsa Ryder and her international team of do-gooder thieves must steal the legendary Kaliya diamond in time to save the unwed mother's home where Elsa was born.

Lily Beatty had been married for 53 years when she became a widowed-multimillionaire. There were rumors that she'd been "Lily of the Seven Veils" when a young Presley Beatty became enamored with the exotic dancer and married her, shocking his Blue Book family and all of Atlanta's old money society. Lily had survived in the highest echelons of society for five decades and ultimately conquered them, serving on the boards of both the High Museum of Art and the Atlanta Philharmonic without compromising any of her forthright "charm."
Lily tells Elsa, her long-time legal counsel, she will wear the Kaliya Diamond into eternity rather than leave it to her stubborn, greedy children; she directs Elsa to return her bequest letter to Lily's own bank security box, allowing Elsa an opportunity to be alone with the Kaliya.

The Inheritance of Thieves

Genre & Comps
The Inheritance of Thieves is a suspense heist novel with a charming femme fatale protagonist.
Lady Susan meets The Hot Rock and Robin Hood

Primary Conflict
A high-profile lawyer with a wealthy, notorious married lover and her band of thieves must steal, replicate, and replace a famous diamond before the owner notices it missing and in time to save the home that gave her shelter as a child.

Inner Conflict
Elsa grew up watching her small-town, Christian grandmother steal things: a pen, perfume, money, potatoes. At age 5, Elsa learned her Nonna's difference between stealing and finding when she took a penny candy from her favorite store for her own selfish treat. Elsa and her artistic childhood friend Willow meet Danish jewelers Johan and Lotte as young adults and begin a series of "encounters" or "exchanges," in which they take art and jewels from deserving victims, replicate the item and sell it to benefit not only themselves but a worthy cause. When it comes to the Kaliya, Elsa must betray a client and finds herself betrayed by a friend.

Secondary Conflict
Elsa is involved with a high-profile, wealthy, very-married media mogul, yet still in love with her childhood sweetheart who has disappeared.

Elsa lives and works in Atlanta. Willow replicates stolen art in Paris and Johan and Lotte grow replacement diamonds in Amsterdam. The novel revolves from Elsa's two-stoplight hometown of McAllister, Georgia, through the new wealth of Atlanta's shiny high-rises to the old world elegance of Europe.

PostPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 20:50 

Joined: 26 May 2016, 17:01
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement
Lacey Eliot has left everything she knows, and must learn some of history’s deadliest lessons to find home again.

2. Antagonistic Force
Cedric Edward Morton was born on a bone chilling day in January of 1928, in Coventry, UK, his father a pastor and his mother church secretary. Ma reigned, as Da was more inclined to Bible study and prayer; she kept young Cedric in hand with the occasional paddle, but mostly by haranguing him into submission.
At 45 years of age, he is a tweedy history teacher with a bushy corkscrew moustache the color of faded wheat and a stern countenance. Sarcasm and irony are his only forms of humor. Challenge accompanies him everywhere, especially in the classroom, where he presides like a despot with a steely hand and the narrow amber eyes of a goat, seemingly able to see the world around him in 360.
His world shaped by the Coventry Blitz in 1940, Morton studies history to analyze the paths of destruction, meanwhile becoming embittered towards those he deems responsible. His abject antipathy stems from the privilege he perceives Lacey has, as well as the failure of the United States to protect his beloved city from the felling bombs of the Nazis. Despite this, he has for years worked in an American School, each day provoking his antagonism to a boil.

3. Titles
“The Costume Maker”
“The Question of Where”
“A Constellation of Unintentional Losses”

4. Genre: Teen Literary Fiction
As in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, my characters’ secrets involve one of the most heinous chapters of human history. The interaction of former enemy and victim takes a twisty path to redemption and acceptance that spans years, generations and cultures.
And, as in Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool, investigating the past helps a young girl to reconcile her present.
As with All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, the coming of age tale informs us intimately of WWII; though the book involves a adolescent girl, the story hopefully captivates readers of all ages.

5. Primary Conflict
Having moved half a world away and enduring the loss of all she knows, a girl encounters the rancor of a contemptible teacher – and then uncovers a shameful secret in his past, which could lead to redemption for them both.

6. Secondary Conflicts
Having just left everything she knows, Lacey is lonely for home, anxious to fit in, desperate to make friends. In one instance, an acquaintance on the way to becoming a true friend disappears, leaving her conflicted as to where her almost-friend might have gone. Upon her return, she reveals her painful backstory to Lacey, who is horrified to discover the source of her pain, and struggles with how she might ameliorate it.

At school, a young man befriends Lacey, creating in her conflicting feelings of both affection and disdain. In one encounter between the two, Lacey, both flattered and embarrassed by his attention, reacts with contempt.

7. Setting
The main setting is London in the 1970s, Bohemian chic, coming of age after the destruction of WWII. Like our main character, it is soulful yet uncertain, undergoing sometimes-unpredictable reaction to deep, root shaking change. As she discovers its windy streets and hidden treasures, so she discovers herself.
Within London, the intimate settings are also notable. Mr. Morton’s history room, painted in the round with a mural of the world, lit from over head by a replica of the constellations. The costume maker’s atelier, hung with fairy tale clothes and the air of make believe. The grand old building where her family resides, spared from the bombs of WWII, and its neighbor the majestic Royal Albert Hall.
Beyond London, the settings range from the deserts of Morocco to the pleasures of Paris and the desolation of Nazi Berlin.

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2016, 19:13 

Joined: 02 Jun 2016, 20:59
Posts: 1

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2016, 23:31 

Joined: 30 May 2016, 19:15
Posts: 1
Suzu Chase: Assignment

1. Story Statement: Justine Bertrand writes a clandestine newspaper in occupied Belgium during World War II and discovers later who betrayed her to the Gestapo.

2. Antagonists: The primary antagonist are the German occupying forces, (aka the Boche,) including the Belgian collaborators. As the story develops, two individuals stand out: Major Bruckner, the German officer in charge in the village of Ledrens and Uncle Hendrik Bertrand who is a collaborator. The secondary antagonist is the person who betrayed Justine Bertrand to the Gestapo in 1944.

3. Breakout Title: 1. A Voice in the Mist. 2. The Kestrel’s Call, (the name of the clandestine newspaper.) 3. The Secret Writer.

4. Genre and Comparables: Historical fiction. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Resistance by Anita Shreve. Both books are historical fiction that take place during World War Two. Both involve characters resisting the German forces.

5. Conflict: There are two arcs to the story. The first, smaller arc frames the second as beginning and end. It takes place in 1984: A older Justine Bertrand returns and revisits her youth during the war in occupied Belgium to discover who betrayed her to the Gestapo. The second arc takes place in 1940-1944: A young Justine Bertrand fights against the Boche regime by joining the Resistance and writing a clandestine newspaper.

6. Inner Conflict: Justine has to rise above fear and become a credible witness to the Boche's displays of terror in order to write the clandestine newspaper.

Secondary conflict: Justine Bertrand’s uncle Hendrik is a fascist and collaborator. Her brother, Paul and boyfriend, Maxim, who are also members of the same resistance group are betrayed by Hendrik to the Gestapo, arrested and sent to Fort Breendonk prison camp where Paul is tortured and killed and Maxim is sent to the concentration camp, Buchenwald.

7. Setting: The majority of the story takes place in the quaint, close-knit Belgian village of Ledrens (fictitious) and its surrounding farming community. It is based on a place where I resided at one time. The town is quaint with cobbled narrow streets, old stone and brick homes and buildings, some dating as far back as Roman times. The areas outside the village are comprised rolling hills, pastures, meadows, and dense forests. Other locations include the city of Brussels, and the prison camp, Fort Breendonk. The final scene takes place when an older Justine returns home to the rocky Connecticut coast.

PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 02:37 

Joined: 08 Jun 2016, 01:55
Posts: 1

PostPosted: 09 Jun 2016, 09:14 

Joined: 02 Jun 2016, 01:10
Posts: 1
1. Story Statement

When the killing game Coulter Simons and his college roommates have been playing in secret for years turns real, Coulter must determine how much he’s willing to sacrifice for a true friend.

2. Antagonistic Force

Sharon Simons wonders when the world turned upside down and how her husband Coulter became the golden boy when she's always been smarter and more capable. When they met, she was his boss, brash and fearless. After they married and his company started to take off, she passed up a promotion to Asia and her career stalled, a sacrifice she still regrets. Since then she has ping-ponged between passionless pursuits and fears she's become the sort of dilettante wife she has always despised. In her eyes, Coulter's college roommates are obviously flawed. She can't understand why he idolizes them and loathes how he puts them first. She tests his loyalty, first in subtle ways, then more boldly when she wins a photography grant and asks him to leave New York City with her. He makes excuses, but the real blow comes when she finds their accounts emptied and suspects he's cheating on her, a devastating betrayal when he knows her father left her and her mother for the neighbor's nanny when she was a teenager. Infidelity is the one transgression Sharon can never forgive.

3. Title

- The Curator
(Curator is the name of Coulter's company and references the control he tries to assert over his possessions, his friends, and his life)

- Secrets and Lies of Successful Men

- The Last Winter of Our Youth

4. Genre/Comps

Genre: literary thriller

My work will appeal to readers who admire Marisha Pessl's Night Film (dark mystery similar in tone) and Donna Tartt's The Secret History (thematic similarities as both stories center on a group of conspiratorial academic elites and the narrator's emotional disintegration in the wake of unintended violence and moral transgression).

5. Primary Conflict

When a killing game played in secret turns real, a man who seems on top of the world must sacrifice his dreams in order to prove his innocence and save the people he loves.

6. Inner/Secondary Conflict

Inner Conflict:

Nearly forty, Coulter is on top of the world, or so it would seem as his high-flying tech company is on the verge of being sold for a fortune. He's always felt like an imposter in his own life, never quite measuring up to his college roommates, now big shots in their chosen fields. When the deal tanks and his world comes crashing down, he hides the truth, even as he sees the toll his lies take on his relationships. When the game takes a violent turn, Coulter's roommates accuse him of foul play. Isolated, Coulter must find out who's playing against him if he has any hope of proving his innocence and salvaging his friendships.

Secondary Conflict:

Dino has never been like the other guys. He was an interloper, forced on Coulter and his roommates as a transfer student junior year, and a philosophy major too smart for his own good. Still, Coulter and Dino understood each other from the beginning. Sons of mothers who disappeared too early in life and absent fathers, they both entered Harvard with an unmoored sense of self that bent too easily in the shadow of others. They both knew how to stuff their feelings deep down and pretend they didn't care. Twenty years later, Dino's been a faithful friend, but there's a part of Dino's that's closed off, even to Coulter. When Coulter finds out Dino has been denied tenure, the goal Dino has been working toward for years, Coulter knows it's enough to make a man snap. When the game turns real and old rifts surface, Coulter questions what he knows about his closest friend. What Coulter doesn't realize is that each of his roommates harbors a secret of his own – a layoff, a failed marriage, a dramatic career change, and a sexual assault hushed up many years ago – that helps Coulter to see each of them in a more human light and forgive his own shortcomings.

7. Setting

Coulter's New York is the New York of a man on his way up, or at least a man with expectations of privilege. This is a city the masses never see, one of private rooms and hidden escapes, places where secrets are safely tucked away. Coulter hosts his roommates at his tony private club for their annual get-together to kick off the game, but what they don't know is that Coulter is a man in free fall. He's rounding Park Avenue offices, opulent East Side townhouses, and storied midtown restaurants desperately trying to save his company and himself while the tiny apartment he and Sharon own is literally falling down. When the game starts, the city becomes their playing field as Coulter and his roommates hunt and are hunted in the storerooms of its restaurants, its parade-filled avenues, and its alleyways. Coulter clears his head by walking the stacks of the New York Public Library like a personal labyrinth, but a harrowing encounter tells him this year's game is different. After a humiliating last-ditch attempt to salvage his reputation in Boston, Coulter returns to Harvard, his alma mater, and his old final club, where he's forced to confront ghosts and examine the choices he and his roommates have made. When the game turns violent, Coulter races to save his roommates. When he discovers the truth of who is playing against him, he returns to the library stacks for a final confrontation.

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