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PostPosted: 06 Dec 2016, 02:14 

Joined: 02 Dec 2016, 11:02
Posts: 2

Please see my assignment responses below. It was a delight to commit to these and to read the other responses in this thread.

- Erika Livingstone

Assignment 1 - Story Statement

Tutankhaten must prove to himself and to his father that he can bring peace to Nubia.

Assignment 2 - Antagonistic Force

The “clear and present danger” is the conniving general, Masaharta, who seizes control of Nubia when the incumbent king develops dementia. Masaharta forces the army to destroy anyone guilty of embracing Egyptian culture and polarizes the nation into a civil war, one side willing to overthrow Egyptian influence no matter the cost, and the moderates who side with the rightful new king, prince Tonqua. Masaharta is power-hungry, cruel, and paranoid. Any civilians rumoured to have prayed to Egyptian gods are killed outright.

The second is not a violent individual, but definitely an antagonistic force. Former Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten represents the corruption of the previous twenty years of autocratic rule. I grew up in a staunch Roman Catholic home, and Akhenaten is based on my grandmother; smugly faithful, arrogant, and relentlessly critical. His nature is hypocritical at its core. He constantly brags that he is the ultimate Pharaoh, but it becomes apparent that he terribly bungled everything from Egypt’s security to its economy. But regardless of his unapologetic incompetence, he must still be obeyed and respected.

Assignment 3 - Craft a Better Title

Current - Broken Timepiece: Fear
(This title is based on theme, and assumes other books in the series.)

Improved Titles Offered:

An Imperfect Severance
The Black Pyramid
The Water in the Coconut Shell

(These are independent titles that could easily be recognized with “An Akhet-Aten Novel” type indicator.)

Assignment 4 - Two Comparables

Scroll of Saqqara - Pauline Gedge
This novel, like mine, is set in ancient Egypt and embraces the sciences of the time period. Love is a major theme and motivator. A young man fights his father for independence. Medicine and chemistry play important parts. The research put into the setting, fashion, knowledge, social norms, and laws of the day are near flawless, creating a canvas where more universal themes can be painted in a unique way.

Year of the Hyenas - Brad Geagley
This novel is set in ancient Egypt as well, but it focuses on elevating the characters past the perceived limits of their time period and into fully developed individuals that are fully outfitted with humour, wit, lust, and philosophies not often associated with this era. Similar to the story I am pitching, there is a freshness and a verve here that make the characters seem modern despite the year.

Assignment 5 - Conflict Line

The inexperienced Pharaoh must become an effective leader capable of navigating the turbulent civil war in Nubia, or both he and Egypt will be destroyed in the conflict.

Assignment 6 - Internal conflict and Secondary conflict

The Internal Conflict of the Protagonist
Tutankhaten was thirteenth in line for the role of Pharaoh, and no one thought there was any chance he would ever attain it. When everyone else in his family died one by one, the advisory propped up the nine year old Tutankhaten, and struggled to maintain order. The result is an unprepared young man cognizant of the importance of his responsibilities, but has lived in the relative comfort of studying past Pharaohs while the advisors handle the real work. A trigger for internal conflict strikes when eighteen year old Tutankhaten receives a message from prince Tonqua from a small kingdom to the south, begging Egypt for military aid. Tutankhaten is sympathetic to Tonqua’s position, so he resolves to try to convince his staff to finance a peacekeeping mission. He is conflicted because he strives to be efficient, and in his world, efficiency equals acquiescence. He becomes an obstacle to his staff, and to Egypt’s welfare, when he asserts himself. But this time his compassion for one of his fellows compels him to begin breaking down the status quo. As a result, he faces some resistance from his own general, and when he asks his oldest advisor, Ay, if he is doing the right thing, the advisor laughs in his face. This in mind, Tutankhaten grows irritable and withdraws from everyone he knows, but he finds he is stronger than he thinks. Ultimately, he overcomes this conflict by refusing to backpedal and the mission goes forward.

Interpersonal Conflict and the Protagonist
Tutankhaten’s closest friend is his guardian, Nakhtmin. The guardian proudly took this position as a mere fifteen year old boy, but as the years passed he has become increasingly exasperated with Tutankhaten’s passivity. The frustration is driving Nakhtmin to alcoholism and depression. A few of his gentle reminders and suggestions are impatiently waved away early on in the story, but by the time the two of them are preparing to leave for Nubia on their peacekeeping mission, Nakhtmin explodes at Tutankhaten publicly, accusing him of hanging on to childhood to Egypt’s detriment. Tutankhaten is left with a major combat mission to handle and a friendship to repair, while trying simultaneously to navigate life without the person he trusts most.

Assignment 7 - Setting

The initial setting is the city of Akhet-Aten in Egypt, about 1300 BC. The hastily built city has the quirk of having very few women present, creating jealousy between the male soldiers (and straight up aggravation for the women). The city relies on a narrow tributary from the Nile river that is rapidly evaporating season to season. The populace is polarized with the rich in the north and the poor in the south, with the graves of the dead piercing the cliffs from end to end. In the north end stands the imposing hospital tower (incubating a horrific disease outbreak), and the south end is home to the most delicious curry, and the loudest brothel, in Africa. The primary location in the first act is the Great House, where the Pharaoh resides. It is a resplendent building designed to house an army, and an army of servants. Several personalities are at odds here, including a sadistic head of domestic affairs, several guards with gambling issues, holy women, nude dancers, and physicians who keep both science and magic in their hands.

Later, they arrive in Nubia and the setting switches rapidly between cities and camps. The country is worn down by a civil conflict that has left innocent civilians dead in the streets. The land is wealthy in animals and gold, but cursed with barren soil. Landlocked, they depend on Egypt for protection and trade, but have been repeatedly exploited for their gold instead. In terms of specifics, there is the capital city of Napata, windswept but proud, and adorned with alabaster lions and black pyramids. The nearby city of Meroe is home to a fortress self-sustained by gardens planted on its roofs. It is staffed and populated by Nubians whose loyalties are hidden to even those who know them best.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2016, 03:18 

Joined: 04 Dec 2016, 02:34
Posts: 1
First Assignment: STORY STATEMENT

Become the star witness in a murder trial to protect the murderer’s daughter.

Second Assignment: ANTAGONIST

Sheriff William Hutchenson appears at first glance to be a no-nonsense, by-the-book kind of lawman – crisp uniform, confident stare, clean cut – polished in every way. Beneath that very thin, very fragile layer of power and control however lies a broken man, a man tortured by the untimely death of his wife, a man drifting ever further into the abyss of alcoholism. To combat this grief and loss, Hutch rules with an iron fist those he’s been sworn to protect and serve in the sleepy little beach town with an exacting, unrelenting, and ruthless authority that invokes fear rather than respect. His kind of law and order ensures that everything is as he expects, and everyone under his watch obeys without question, including his 14-year-old daughter, Tabby, who bears the brunt of his drunken outbursts at home. Hutch will not be defied. Hutch will not tolerate disorder. Hutch will not compromise in his authority. And he’s willing to use any means necessary to maintain that absolute control.

Third Assignment: TITLE


Fourth Assignment: COMPS

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Paper Towns by John Green


A troubled teen must awaken the conscience in a small town when he is suddenly swept up in the murder trial of a corrupt Sheriff to protect the girl he loves, the sheriff’s own daughter.



Fourteen-year-old Cabe Dawes has been hurt and angry since the murder of his father last winter. He treats his Aunt Millie poorly, and defies the authority of the ruthless sheriff any chance he gets. But when those around him begin to suffer the consequences of his actions, Cabe is forced to wrestle with his inner demons and find the courage, and the conscience, to stand up for what is right. By the end of his journey, Cabe understands the value and meaning of friendship, love, regret, and loss.


In many ways, young Cabe is a “Traveling Angel” kind of protagonist, impacting the lives of those he connects with during his summer in Frankfort.

He befriends the incorrigible Hiram Tate, a high-spirited teen with a congenital heart defect, and over the course of the novel encourages Hi to step beyond his comfort zone to enjoy life – you know, things like breaking into an abandoned hotel to search for the lost tunnels of Al Capone and pulling the school fire alarm. Hi however is forced to vie for his new friend’s attention when Tabby enters the picture. When Hi’s jealousy and selfishness end up causing irreparable harm to Tabby, a rift erupts between the two boys. Yet it’s through the introspection, remorse, and enlightenment born out of tragedy that the boys not only repair a friendship, but forge a stronger, enduring one.

Cabe is intrigued by the ruthless sheriff’s daughter, Tabby, the moment he laid eyes on her – the day Old Henry went missing. Since that time, he’s thought often about the girl with the empty eyes, and in time comes to learn her dark secret. Hoping to empower Tabby to free herself from her father’s tyranny, Cabe talks her into trying out for a musical competition with her mother’s violin against the sheriff’s orders. When things don’t go as planned and tragedy strikes, Cabe realizes that the only way he can save the girl he’s come to love is to stand up to the sheriff, once and for all, by taking the witness stand against him.

Seventh Assignment: SETTING

Welcome to Frankfort, Michigan – a rural beach town right off the sandy coast of Lake Michigan, where things aren’t always as they seem. Lurking just below the surface, both literally and figuratively, is terror, mystery, and the unexpected. You see, the town’s sheriff rules the inhabitants with a cold, iron fist. Yet also below the surface, beneath the actual pavement of Main Street, are the hidden tunnels of Al Capone, who used the now abandoned Frankfort Hotel as a speakeasy during his reign. On the north end of town is Point Betsie Lighthouse, which is tended by a curious sea captain who teaches young Tabby the violin. Then there’s the lesser known field behind the old Colonel Martin Cemetery, where Cabe and Hi stumbled across the murder of crows that day after escaping the tunnel collapse. And we can’t forget the ancient courthouse, which held the first murder trial to shadow the town in nearly a century. The harbor where The Backward Man of Frankfort lives, the county fairgrounds where Tabby gets her arm broken while playing Shubert, Jeb’s gas station where the sheriff confiscated Booker’s beloved Dr. Pepper, and Dr. Crenshaw’s home, with a sign outside that reads: Laughter is the Best Medicine.

All this and more await your next visit to Frankfort!

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2016, 06:37 

Joined: 06 Dec 2016, 06:34
Posts: 1
A teenage girl must uncover the insidious side effects of a blockbuster pharmaceutical, even if the truth threatens to tear her society apart.


- Dr. A: After Rileigh loses all faith in her deceased mother, she places her trust in Dr. A, the seemingly kind and comforting conservator who heads the medical facility Cedar Crest, owned by Decipover Incorporated. In contrast to her maternal front, Dr. A has a love/hate relationship towards Rileigh. For Dr. A, Rileigh is the key to the development of a vaunted inoculation against dreams, which will insure societal stability in Dr. A’s eyes. However, Rileigh also symbolizes the very threat Dr. A hopes to extinguish, in that Rileigh herself dreams despite her status as a beneficiary. Rileigh must learn to trust her instincts and question Dr. A, in order to save herself and her friend from euthanasia while also preventing the inoculation.
- Mr. Decipover: Although a member of the conservator upper class, Mr. Decipover is the celebrated champion of the lower classes, the beneficiaries, and the father of Rileigh’s love interest, Aidan. In contrast to Dr. A, he does not hate the lower classes, but sees himself as the wise, paternal figure of the beneficiaries and the only one capable of saving the city from strife. To Aidan’s horror, he funds Cedar Crest and approves of Dr. A’s euthanasia of subjects for the greater good. Aidan must challenge the father he always revered in order to help Rileigh stop his father’s development of the inoculation.

Tell No One About Your Dreams
The Dreamless

The Forgetting
Steelheart (Reckoner series)
Unwind series

All of these young adult books feature a teenage protagonist who questions the assumptions of his/her dystopian society and explore basic philosophical questions (ie nature of self and memory, etc) while delivering a fast-paced plot. Similar to my novel, both Steelheart (Reckoner series) and the Unwind series are set in a near future society with science fiction elements. My novel also possesses a streak of humor similar to that of the protagonist in Steelheart. In contrast to Steelheart and The Forgetting, there are no fantasy elements in my book.

In a society in which automation has decimated wages, the lower class relies upon the pharmaceutical blockbuster Decator to make ends meet by sleeping for only an hour a day. Rileigh must uncover the truth of Decator’s side effects—it does not just cause a literal loss of dreaming, but a figurative loss of dreaming. The drug does not affect intelligence, but makes individuals unable to imagine themselves in circumstances other than their own, and thus they have no hope or aspirations. Rileigh must realize her own unwitting role in the development of a permanent form of Decator, so that she and Aidan can save her city from the widespread adoption of the inoculation, which in effect, will permanently make the lower class indistinguishable from the robots with which they compete (and sacrifice dreams for the sake of contentment).

Rileigh has struggled to accept her mother’s death the year prior, especially given her family neither saw the autopsy report or her body. When Rileigh receives a cryptic message, seemingly from her mother, she questions the circumstances of her death. However, closure proves elusive when she views a video showing her mother’s unequivocal suicide. Feeling lost and betrayed, Rileigh doubts herself and her relationship with her mother, and thoughout the novel, she must learn to trust her instincts again and recover her faith in her mother’s dedication to their family.

Rileigh slowly falls for Aidan Decipover, the son of her primary antagonist. As she learns to trust her instincts, she must decide whether to trust this conservator. She also must decide how to handle her desire to seek revenge on Mr. Decipover, despite her promise to Aidan to only destroy the inoculation.

Aidan Decipover desperately seeks to impress his revered father, the creator of Decator, and cannot imagine challenging his father’s wisdom. As the truth of Cedar Crest becomes apparent, Aidan insists that his father is ignorant of the carnage, particularly since the deaths fly in the face of the values his father espoused. Aidan must decide whether to accept his father’s involvement and challenge his father’s plans, or prevent Rileigh from destroying the inoculation.

As his father taught him, Aidan also strives to uphold the ideals of his conservator class, who are supposed to serve as noble guardians, providing guidance to the lower class. However, in doing so, he must also respect the unspoken line between conservator and beneficiary and help preserve his society’s class structure, or else risk inquiry from the nation’s governing group of conservators, the Servatory. While he respects this line throughout the novel, thereby allowing his fellow conservators to treat the beneficiaries poorly, he ultimately must decide whether preserving that line is worth the sacrifice of his deepest morals.


The novel is set in a near future society, in which technological automation has led to economic constraints more insidious and binding than laws or force. The concentration of wealth among the select few who own the corporations—the conservators—has accelerated, and society now consists of only two classes, the conservators and the beneficiaries. The conservators espouse ideals similar to that of noble, medieval houses, and view themselves as the guardians of the beneficiaries, providing paternal guidance and wisdom. Technological automation has also led to the decimation of hourly wages, such that, in order to compete with the low cost of robots/AI/automation, the beneficiaries must work for 22 hours a day. Thus, the pharmaceutical blockbuster Decator has become the salvation of the beneficiaries, as this innovative drug reduces the need to sleep to only an hour a day.

Given that sleep is the ultimate luxury, the conservators flaunt their status through signaling their full night’s rest and never stooping to take Decator. Conservator women, for example, prefer “bedhead” hair. One of Decator’s side effects includes hyperpigmentation of the whites of the eyes (turning the whites blue, similar to that observed with long term use of certain medications), so some conservators wear contact lenses that make the whites of their eyes appear even whiter. Meanwhile, the beneficiaries work, and they never seem to challenge their circumstances or covet means beyond their own. On the whole, they appear content, although they often require guidance from conservators to handle new circumstances. They also curiously do not dream during their daily nap, but think nothing of it, as they view dreams as a juvenile oddity that individuals should grow out of.

The scenes in the novel attempt to juxtapose the values of each class. Throughout the society, most everything is automated, from cars to skycraft. Conservator haunts feature handmade, organic items and decor, while beneficiary haunts feature mass-produced, generic items. Aidan’s first scene opens with him “skyclimbing,” in which he climbs a skyscraper and then jumps off, allowing a skycatcher to swoop down and catch him during his descent. Rileigh’s first scene occurs with her awakening from a dream in her home pod, which is small, cramped, and sterile. The medical facility of Cedar Crest has an extensive outdoor space with unusual, weird plants, which are products of earlier days when researchers genetically manipulated the plants to identify new pharmaceutical agents. Descriptions of machinery and automated technology rely heavily on living imagery – ie comparisons to animals, plants, etc., while language regarding the beneficiary often evokes lifeless imagery, in order to blur our assumptions regarding what is alive and dead and hopefully beg the question (instead of will robots achieve consciousness/turn into people) – on the drug Decator, are the beneficiaries any different than the robots with which they compete?

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2016, 07:25 

Joined: 15 Nov 2016, 06:32
Posts: 1
Hi! My responses are below. Looking forward to meeting you all! - Perveen Maria


A rape survivor’s struggle to seek and maintain acceptance, forgiveness and peace after two rapes, multiple suicide attempts, and a torrid love affair with alcohol and drugs.

2. THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT (200 words or less)

Rick, Alcoholic Father (role evolves with story)
My father moved to the United States when he married my mother. Life was grand until the stresses of being a first generation immigrant parent of two caught up with him. I hated him until a few years ago when I realized I was becoming an alcoholic just like him.

Josh, Rapist 1
Josh moved to California to play baseball at the junior college I attended. We didn’t meet until the night he raped me. He was socially awkward and tried hard to fit in with his teammates.

Henry, Rapist 2
We met through my job at the construction company. He was a part of the homeowner’s security detail. We became friends after he quit to serve his second tour in Iraq. He dedicated his life to keeping the people of our country safe. I trusted and respected him.

I became my own worst enemy with ten suicide attempts and reckless behavior while drunk or high. I was trying to force life to give me a do-over like she forced me to be my father’s daughter, and forced my body to fail me when I was raped.

Cultural expectations and restrictions


• Recycle Me
• The Leftover
• Memorybank


Genre: Creative Nonfiction / Memoir


The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch

This book and how it is written validated for me something I wondered for most of my life: Can I break the rules and scream my story however I see fit?

Lidia Yuknavitch gave me permission to do this with her words.

For writers like Lidia and myself, our brains don’t process things in a linear fashion with logic and reason because of the trauma we’ve experienced. Instead, we process things with extreme bonefeelings and solitude and self-reflection. The body tells the story of the sexual trauma, and the mind takes a seat to let the story be told. There are no rules or a right way or a wrong way to tell these kinds of stories. They just need to be told.

Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life by Abigail Thomas

Fragmented memories of different lengths and different emotions create a story that couldn’t be told in any other way. The memory is a tricky thing when you’re writing about your own life, especially when you’ve experienced trauma of any kind. My memoir is a compilation of fragmented essays that tell every traumatic memory in it’s own way, all of which, when put together, create a seamless narrative about one girl’s struggle to stay alive. Each memory is not like any other so the memories cannot be written in the same way. Safekeeping is a perfect example of this.


A young girl is raped twice and must learn how to cope in a culture that punishes women, thrive in a body that has beaten multiple suicide attempts, and tolerate a world filled with foreverfears about love, truth, and purpose.


Inner Conflict Conditions and Scenario:

After multiple suicide attempts and with addiction running through my veins, adding not one but two rapes to my footprint has created a human who needs medication to keep anxiety and depression at bay, a survivor who must work overtime to maintain a safe environment, and a woman who is in constant jeopardy of declining physical, emotional and mental health.

The process of accepting the act of being raped never ends.


As life goes on and I enter a new stage or hit a new milestone, a foreign facet to the sexual trauma I have experienced presents itself. And so begins a new acceptance to build upon my previous learning. For now, it is my new marriage. Next, it might be starting a family.

* Another huge layer of conflict is the fact that I was raped on my eighteenth birthday, the day I had been waiting for for so long because I was then, according to the law, an adult. I had everything planned out to leave my parents and my father’s drinking and live a “normal” life in a new town where nobody knew me, a place where I could have a fresh start. I was going to get a job, make my own money, pay my own bills. A birthday is a time to celebrate being given the gift of life. But for me, it also became a time to remember the day I died. To add even more layers: my eighteenth birthday was a night full of firsts for me – the first time I drank alcohol and got drunk, the first time I smoked pot, my first kiss was waking up to Josh’s tongue being shoved down my throat, the first time a man saw and touched my virgin body. My birthday was, in one word, a clusterfuck.

Secondary Conflict Scenario:

My culture, my family, my gender all felt like nails in my coffin during a time when the reality of sexual violence was finally being taken seriously, when rape crisis centers were being funded and supported, when abortion laws were being challenged and abortion clinics were being targeted with protests and shootings.

Cultural expectations of a female in the Indian culture destroyed my ability to accept being raped. Women are supposed to be submissive and quiet and do as we’re told – all the things I wasn’t, and this created tension between my parents and I at an early age. I never saw myself as being different from my brother or white friends, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do the same things they did. So what if I was a girl? Who cares if I’m brown? But the constant reminders from my parents about this or that not “looking right” created a narrative in my head that everything I did was wrong.


Overall setting:

• The home I grew up in a small town in Northern California. This is also the home my mother grew up in, and the same home my brother and I used to spend our weekends at when when we were kids. It’s a family treasure, really.

• My home in Santa Barbara, California. This is where I went to college and where my excessive drug and alcohol use began. It is where I had most of my attempted overdoses, where I was raped for the second time, and where I had my tenth and last overdose – the one that landed me in the emergency room in September 2006.

Sub-settings / Memories from my life that have carved me into the woman I am today:

• The living room and the fireplace: I told my dad I was living in hell (because of his drinking), and he beat me as he yelled about how he was working day and night providing for his family, trying to give us everything we could ever want. It was the first time I didn’t cry when he hit me. I sat and watched the flames of the wood burning in the fireplace as he yelled and hit. After it was over, I got up quietly and walked down the hall to my bedroom. It was on the walk to my room that I told myself I would never, ever rely on a man to take care of me because if this was the kind of taking care a man did, then I didn’t need it or want it. I could take care of myself.

• Josh’s house and bedroom. My eighteenth birthday party was at his house, thrown by my best friend at the time. His bedroom is where he raped me on my birthday, and where I also saw an angel-version of me watching myself being raped. I left my body and told myself everything was going to be okay, and that it would be over soon. I re-visited this small house many years later and relived everything. It was something I needed to do for myself. New tenants were living there, but it was eerie how many things about that place still looked the same.

• Santa Barbara, CA – The emergency room I woke up in after my tenth and last overdose, and my home where I was raped for the second time by Henry.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2016, 08:55 

Joined: 04 Dec 2016, 07:36
Posts: 2
Come Again Shiloh: Query #1

Fifteen years ago Miller Blanchard fled to Canada during the Vietnam War with a secret shame revealed to no one, not even his wife, Elaine, with consequences for his marriage and career. But when Miller and Elaine travel in 1985 to the Ohio funeral of Miller’s Grandfather Whartten, the stakes in their troubled marriage suddenly escalate in the unforgiving summer heat. There, Miller’s embittered Grandmother Blanchard entangles the couple in her memories of Whartten family sins, especially during America’s wars.

Miller reels, panicked that he has repeated a family pattern for dishonor and failure. Elaine mistrusts Grandmother Blanchard’s candor and motives, but as Miller crumbles before her she grasps the threat to her marriage and their children’s future. Even as she fears Miller is cheating on her, Elaine agrees to help Miller sift the half-truths from the half-lies. But she also vows to wage total war on Miller if he cannot confront his family’s past.

From the itinerant water diviner who finally returned from the Civil War in 1917 to steal back his brother’s wife to Grandfather Whartten’s betrayal of an American doughboy, the pair stalk the emotional DNA of two families across suspect memories and evocative landscapes to Miller and their marriage. They fight and refight battles—personal and historical—until in a moment of terror near their New Jersey home, they each must forge a fresh definition of courage or risk calamity for their children.

Come Again Shiloh: Query #2

In Come Again Shiloh a thirty-something husband and wife rummage through five generations of family lore and discover that absolutely nothing is fair in love and war.

When Miller and Elaine Blanchard travel in 1985 to the Ohio funeral of Miller’s Grandfather Whartten, the stakes in their troubled marriage suddenly escalate in the unforgiving summer heat. There, Miller’s embittered Grandmother Blanchard entangles the couple in her memories of Whartten family sins, especially during America’s wars.

Miller reels, panicked that he has repeated a family pattern for dishonor because he fled to Canada during the Vietnam War with a secret shame of his own. Miller craves a university post but scratches out a living by teaching at a girls’ school. Elaine mistrusts Grandmother Blanchard’s candor and motives, but as Miller crumbles before her, she grasps the threat to her marriage and their children’s future. This witty, strong-willed social worker vows to sift the half-truths from the half-lies—or wage total war on Miller if he cannot confront his family’s past.

From the itinerant water diviner who finally returned from the Civil War in 1917 to steal back his brother’s wife to Grandfather Whartten’s betrayal of an American doughboy, Miller and Elaine stalk two families’ emotional DNA to Miller and their marriage. They fight and refight battles—personal and historical—until in a moment of terror near their New Jersey home, they must each forge a fresh definition of courage or risk calamity for their children.

PostPosted: 07 Dec 2016, 03:32 

Joined: 07 Dec 2016, 03:25
Posts: 1
1. The Story Statement:

Was Nadia's sister murdered and if so, who did it?

2. Antagonist

Father - Nadia's father forbids Nadia from investigating her sister, Leila's death.

Detective Mike Newell - The detective in charge of Leila's case will not reopen it and prohibits her from looking into herself.

Miles Milestone - Perverted music producer, who holds the key to Leila's last days, but only groupies can get near this small-town celebrity.

Predatory World - As 15 year-old Nadia investigates her sister's death, she clashes with several predatory adults. While she tries to ply information from them, they attempt to exploit her for their own benefit and pleasure.

3. Break Out Title

The Dredging

Summer of 1977

Buried, but Never Forgotten

4. Comparables

My Only Sunshine by M.O. Walsh

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

5. Primary Conflict
(The story flashes between the past and present)

- In the summer of 1977, 15-year-old Nadia's sister, Leila, was found dead in the neighborhood tree fort. The town slut, the police quickly rule her death an accidental drug overdose. Nadia rejects this and is determined to prove her sister was murdered. Nadia's investigation into her sister's death takes her to personally uncomfortable places. A loner, who trusts no one, she's forced to deal with people and friends on an intimate level. Nadia is conflicted about her feelings towards her fellow sleuth Will Jackson. She is also forced to see that she might be more like her wild child sister than she thought.

6. Secondary Conflict

- In summer of 2017, whose bones have been dug up in the dredging of Laguna Alegria's man-made lagoon and how do these bones relate to the death of Leila forty years ago? Nadia has returned to Laguna Alegria for the first time since that terrible summer. Now in her fifties, Nadia face her past and decide what price she is willing to pay to give her sister the justice that eluded her all those years ago.

7. Primary Setting: Laguna Alegria: a fictional, planned community located Rancho El Dorado, a fictional Marin County city. Featuring a man-made lagoon, Laguna Alegria aspired to resemble a South American seaside village. From the lagoon, residents could sail to anywhere in the world. It offered waterfront living on a working man's paycheck. Remote and miles from the bedroom community of Rancho El Dorado, the kids of Laguna Alegria ran wild. It was the era of Middle-Aged crazy, parents were "finding" themselves, ignoring their parental responsibilities. It was "sex, drugs and rock 'n roll," for everyone - kids and adults.


1970s Marin County - The free love, hippy era was replaced with the Yuppie, "I want it all now," consumer culture. The family station wagons were traded in for Turbo Carreras and BMWs. Husbands were leaving wives for the babysitters. People were obsessed with encountering each other in cults like EST and Synanon.

1970s San Francisco - Broadway - The seedy, under-belly of The City, Broadway was home the emerging punk rock scene, Carol Doda's "totally live nude," and the Mitchell Brother's porn film business.

PostPosted: 07 Dec 2016, 06:16 

Joined: 07 Dec 2016, 06:07
Posts: 2
Assignment 1

Will Aaron discover through his journey that he is going towards a life without Penny or running away from a life without her?

PostPosted: 08 Dec 2016, 05:33 

Joined: 08 Dec 2016, 04:30
Posts: 1
Alfonse’s mission is to live a simple life unencumbered by racial prejudice. He is a freeborn colored man and merchant, living in the nineteenth century on an island dominated by a British planter elite who regard all others as less than themselves and reject intermarriage. His goal is to have the woman who has captured his heart, despite the fact that she is white. His love interest, Julia, belongs to a slightly more privileged Scots Irish community which strives to identify with the ruling British elite. To achieve his goal, Alfonse must fight back against her family, especially her brother, Kennedy, but also against the prejudices of his customers, the planter elite, and even the objections of his own family and his best friend. He must stop Julia’s family from defaming him and trying to ruin his business. He must hold fast to his belief that what matters most is a person’s character not their race and convince Julia to see life likewise. He must save his reputation and protect the business handed down to him by his father while marrying her and building a home for them to share. Finally, he must raise healthy, happy children whom no one can belittle. Along the way, he will discover and overcome his own negative beliefs about the way the world works and move from someone who seeks to isolate himself from his society to one who joins with others to improve his environment.

While Julia’s entire family is against her relationship with Alfonse, her brother Kennedy is the chief antagonist. He is dead set against the relationship. He holds disdain for the coloreds in general and considers them inferior. He does not consider it proper that his sister should fraternize with them. He is convinced that his sister is damaging the family’s reputation and lowering their status among the white people. He believes this relationship is harmful to Julia, but more importantly harmful to him, his wife and children. He is determined that a colored man not woo his sister and he devices plots to harm Alfonse, destroy his business and end their relationship. Julia’s father, Evan, also tries to ensure that his daughter maintain an appropriate distance from the coloreds, especially Alfonse, in order to protect her reputation as a white person. He also fears the possible exposure of a shameful family secret. Alfonse’s family and friends are opposed to the relationship mainly as they fear it will damage his reputation and his business.


Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – a story that deals with young lovers, and the influence on them of the history of their country.
The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri as it explores love and the barriers that culture impose upon true love.

A colored cabinetmaker on the island of Barbados in 19th century Barbados fights against the norms of British society and a Scotch-Irish family to win the woman he loves. The father and brother of his love interest seek to ruin his business and reputation. His friends and family, his lover and even his own spirit, fail him at times.

Anxiety and conflict are created in Alfonse as he goes against societal norms when he decides to pursue a woman of a different race. He has to face the fact that others (society, his family and best friend) all fail to understand and/or accept his choice. He must constantly deal with the actions of Julia’s family who seek to bring him harm. He must challenge his own fears and prejudices and convince his lover to do the same as she is rejected by her family. His success as a businessman is threatened as some customers reject him. His life and the lives of his loved ones might be endangered when a riot occurs.

The setting is on a British island in the Caribbean dominated by a small number of British plantation owners. The protagonist, Alfonse, is surrounded by prejudice and threats as he fights to win the love of his life, a Scotch-Irish seamstress. He is a member of a tiny group of freeborn colored merchants who dominate the trades which sustain the island, from carpentry to barrel making, horse shoeing, etc. Images of a small parochial island; its winding roads, open markets, sand beaches, azure waters, provide a picturesque backdrop to the story. The hucksters, the boatmen, and the majority population of poorly paid plantation workers who stage a riot all add to the drama.

PostPosted: 08 Dec 2016, 06:54 

Joined: 08 Dec 2016, 06:45
Posts: 1
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

In 1919, 5-year-old Ike Stein’s mother and brother disappear during a pogrom. Ike is rescued by his father and brought to America, but after arrival loses all memory of his life in the Ukraine – his village, the pogrom, and even, unbearably, his mother and brother. Worse, his father seems to hate him but won’t explain why. The novel tracks Ike through five decades as he struggles through several of the worst traumas of the 20th Century and battles with his father to learn the truth about his early life so he can come to terms with the pitch-dark past.

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.

In 1919, 5-year-old Ike Stein’s mother and brother disappear during a Cossack pogrom. Rescued by his father, who brings him to America, Ike somehow loses all memories of his village, the pogrom, and, unbearably, his mother and brother. Worse, his father seems to hate him but won’t explain himself, or tell him what happened. The loving ministrations of his stepmother bring some relief, but Ike fears madness until an odd revelation about newsreels -- “externalized memory” -- gives him a focus and a calling. In the 1930’s, his father’s implacable anger drives Ike to accept a dangerous government assignment to covertly film Stalin’s show trials, because it will put him closer to his village. When the mission is compromised, he goes there, hoping that perhaps any remaining family will help him, or shed light on his past. Improbably, he stumbles on both family and answers, then escapes to Finland. But the darkest mystery -- his father’s stubborn silence -- and the consequent hatred Ike feels, haunts him. Years later, a KGB agent surfaces, claiming to be family and looking for his own answers. When Ike’s father finally speaks, what he reveals threatens Ike’s last chance at peace.

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

Long Wars
Death Of The Father


- 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?

E.L. Doctorow ?

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.

Brutal memories of a savage century divide a father and son for decades, until a stranger’s plea on a night of grief forces them to reckon with truths neither are prepared to face.

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. 

Ike is pathologically shy. Yet he comes to realize that to survive psychologically he must battle his shyness to ask a teacher for help in breaking into newsreel production. He feels unworthy of this work but the power of even the idea of newsreels has taken him by surprise – a genuine revelation. Despite intense anxiety, opposition from his father, and the pain of pitting himself against himself – against the shyness that has lately begun to cripple him – the strength of the revelation he’s had allows him to act, as does the unexpected encouragement of a respected teacher.

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?

On the first night of “shiva” (mourning) for a cousin Ike has unwillingly identified with – a man who has just committed suicide -- he frets in his bedroom as he listens through the door to the gathering mourners from his Brooklyn Jewish community. He marvels at the ease of their conversations, recalls with miserable wonder the days when he could have eagerly joined them, and realizes that the very fact that this is so mysterious to him now suggests how much he’s at risk of ending up like his cousin. He forces himself to open his door and try to connect, but as friends and relatives begin to welcome him, he panics, and rushes down the stairs and into the street.

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.

The setting shifts many times, in both location and time. Settings include:

A peaceful shtetl in the Ukraine at the time of the Russian Civil War.
A shtetl under siege.
A field infirmary.
A two-week night-walk through dangerous Ukrainian terrain.
An abrupt re-location 50 years later to a funeral home (the "present": 1970).
A return, in very close memory, to a Brooklyn neighborhood 45 years before.
A jump to a Brooklyn apartment 17 years before.
Back to the funeral home in the “present” (1970).
A jump back to the early ‘30’s and the depths of the Depression.
A jump to Stalin’s Russia, during the Show Trials (1937), and then to a shtetl in the Ukraine.
Back to the funeral home.
Then to jungle combat in World War II, with intense, graphic scenes.
Then to the house in which Ike’s cousin hung himself, only now in 1970 as part of Ike’s beloved stepmother’s shiva.
At this point, the timeframe has merged, and the rest of the novel unfolds in “present” time (1970), with narrated flashbacks rather than full-blown scenes.

PostPosted: 08 Dec 2016, 17:32 

Joined: 07 Dec 2016, 06:07
Posts: 2

The lost of a love one can make you do things you never thought of doing before. You find yourself feeling lost without them. Aaron is an art professor. He grew up in a small bayou community an hour south of New Orleans. He attended college in New Orleans where he met his wife, Penny. They shared their lives together in the small town Aaron grew up in and taught at the university there. Penny was an English professor. She was drawn to Aaron because his imagination and creativity was apart of his personality. It didn’t stop when he put the paint- brush down. Penny felt she was more of a realist. When she closed a book, the imaginary world ended. She felt she kept Aaron on solid ground, and he helped her imagine things beyond the pages of a book.
After Penny’s sudden and unexpected death, Aaron attempts to continue life as usual, but grief has a way of guiding you to do things you didn’t think of doing before. Aaron discovers the life he shared is gone, and a new life awaits him. He gets on his Harley and begins his journey. He spends some time in New Orleans and paints a Penny on his bike. He decides that he will take her with him.
Aaron’s family and friends do not understand his journey. They feel he is running away from things instead of towards something as he feels. He feels like he is alone with his grief.
He finds himself in Hot Springs, Arkansas. A destination he and Penny shared together. He climbs the hill in search of the tree they carved their names on.
He sleeps on a hammock and wakes to the smell of the sea- water in Key West, Florida with the memories of his past life with Penny.
He rides into the mountains of South Dakota where Penny was from, and he finds himself in Colorado staying with people he met on his journey.
Aaron’s journey takes him to places he shared with Penny during their life together, and the places they intended to share together. It’s a journey he alone must take to discover life without his Penny.

Silent Journey
Life Loved

PostPosted: 08 Dec 2016, 17:33 

Joined: 08 Dec 2016, 17:04
Posts: 1
1) Story Statement:
There are three universal ways people can relate to each other regardless of race, sexuality, class or religion (any –ism).

2) The Antagonist:
Obsessed with the one goal of accumulating material wealth, the “Uncle Tim” is part of a “system” that keeps people in society separate into opposite sides and binary schemes. He makes fun of his inability to dance as a kind of mea culpa and excuse to allow all the power issues involved with his White privilege. The difference between separating one’s abilities and desires from physical appearances, and the institutional rules that try to bind them stereotypically together is the struggle for all “Uncle Tim’s” and those who live within his system.

3) The Break Out Title:
“Uncle Tim’s Condo: What Silly Dancing White Men Represent in America”
“The Diary of a Dancing Trombonist”
“How to Dance and Be Taken Seriously”

4) Comparables:
Jim Hightower “There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion” (Harper Collins 2010):
Similarly I use humor to criticize media and various institutional establishments.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” (Random House 2015):
I also share a personal memoir feel but from a unique artist’s perspective on the history of race in media and pop culture.

5) Primary Conflict:
After getting voted off of the Semifinals of America’s Got Talent, a contestant questions his role as a straight White male in the world of Black popular music.

a.)Two weeks before the 2008 global economic collapse I was voted off the Semifinals of America's Got Talent on live television as "the dancing trombone player". Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 my best friend slept with my girlfriend.
The timing of those events, however, led to a unique epiphany about how I relate to power as a straight White male in the world of Black popular music.
b) I look back through history biologically and pop cultrually of what it means to be dancing White guy.
c) I look at my own life and examine the fluid gray areas of sexuality and race and class. d) I am challenged by others who believe my privilege does not allow me to relate to them.
e) I realize that many of my relationship and career failures are from chasing fame instead of developing relationships from love.

7.) Settings include
Sheraton Universal Hotel Hot Tub. My house growing up. Schools College. Venues where I have performed.

PostPosted: 08 Dec 2016, 18:46 

Joined: 08 Dec 2016, 18:40
Posts: 1
Unassuming tech writer Abba Welles dodges her biological imperative by learning how to fight, and ends up saving her newfound club and, unexpectedly, her co-workers.

#2 Antagonists
Adam Goss leads the "bro-grammers" at HardCore, and is the favored golden child of founders Steve and Phil Hyam. His cheerful bullying, low-level misogyny and cycle-sculpted thighs personifies Silicon Valley entitlement: His self-assurance terrifies Abba Welles--and his interest in her so-called martial exploits even more so.

Harold Tinnen is Adam's martial counterpoint, a puffed-up brown belt and a son of a karate champ whose arrogance inadvertently results in Abba entering a tournament.

Antagonistic underlying forces:
An all-pervasive social network called Liebling, an algorithm so sophisticated that it color-codes how strong people’s connections truly are, makes it all too easy for Abba to retreat into digital hermitage.




Joaniebar18  Post subject: Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

Posted: 16 Nov 2016, 02:46 
Pitch Conference Assignments
Joined: 15 Nov 2016, 10:44
Posts: 1 Story Statement-

A woman has kept her sordid past a mystery, and now her grown daughter insists that she reveal the truth.
The Antagonists-
A fearless high paid stripper and career seductress who has the power to lure both men and women into her web. Sandra believes that money is the only thing that never let her down and that as a woman, if you don’t have money someone else will control you by using it. She believes that beautiful women are powerful weapons and she is willing to use her power against anyone who stands in her way.

Katie’s ex-husband, the degenerate gambler who long ago used Katie for his personal gain, then abandoned her and their children for most of their lives. His reappearance can only mean one thing: he wants money or revenge and he is ready to do what it takes to get both.

Breakout Title-

The Woman Behind Bars
Wild is the Wind
The Crazy Town Game


Anywhere But Here Mona Simpson
The Girl Who Slept With God Val Brelinski
White Oleander Janet Fitch

Conflict Line-

On a mother-daughter road trip, Katie will have to delve deep into yesteryear and confront the demons of her former life—including her ex-husband Josh, the degenerate gambler, and Sandra, a career seductress who lures Callie into her web, so she can rescue the future for not only herself, but for her daughter as well.
Inner Conflict-
Caught in a seemingly endless traffic jam, symbolic of their lives, Katie struggles to fulfill her daughters wishes and dredge up her past, recount her tales and decide whether or not to reveal her deepest secrets.
Secondary Conflict-
Callie has her secrets too—it seems, perhaps, that the desires and self-indulgences of the mother have been visited upon the daughter. Katie must face the truth about Rick and Connie, the sexual puppeteers who played her long ago, her ex-husband Josh, whose reappearance after he abandoned her and the children for most of their lives can only lead to no good.

The story takes place in a rented Black Escalade driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway and being followed by a Hummer Limousine. I used the road trip and the car, because Katie is rather imprisoned and her daughter Callie knows she has her cornered. The vivid scenes of California juxtaposed with the closeness of the car gives the story tension.
Callie’s story is revealed in a local strip club on Rhode Island New York.
Flashbacks to Katie’s past and the Climax of the book are set in Manhattan.
The end is set in Seattle and Oregon on another mother/daughter road trip.


tarikfayad  Post subject: Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

Posted: 16 Nov 2016, 03:38 
Story Statement
Joined: 15 Nov 2016, 16:36 Find the real culprit of a quintuple homicide.
Posts: 1
The Antagonist
Tivius Ifestrum Gregorius (Tig for short) is characterized by two main goals: revenge and the resurrection of his parents whom he lost at an early age. He is Zach’s best friend and the yang to his yin—up until he discovers a way to bring his parents back to life along with the truth that they died at Zach’s hands. From that moment onwards, he turns all of his resources towards not only resurrecting his mother and father but also getting revenge on Zach and everyone else in Messier that was involved in the cover-up of the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Smart, charismatic, and methodical Tig is a man that makes contingencies for his contingencies. He takes things in stride and rarely lets his emotions get the better of him. Furthermore, he’s cautious and assesses a situation before jumping in head first. He would rather pick an opponent apart slowly, than trying to subjugate them through sheer force of will. His risks are calculated and are kept to a minimum whenever possible.

Break Out Title
- Messier 51

Dresden Files: The overall mixture of magic and mystery is similar. Both books are urban fantasy novels with a hint of mystery to keep things moving.

Monster Hunter International: The voice and the pacing. Both are light hearted urban fantasies and make fun of themselves a little bit. They realize that talking about the fantastical can sound a little laughable at times and lean into that.

Primary Conflict
A wizard detective must find the real culprit of a quintuple homicide while being hunted by his own organization.

Other Matters of Conflict
The majority of Zach’s inner conflict stems from the loss of all his memories before the age of fourteen. It becomes increasingly clear throughout the story that he was not the best person during those formative years, and quite possibly dabbled in the dark arts, which scares him—especially since some of those tendencies along with fragments of his memories are beginning to resurface.

A scenario where this conflict becomes distinctly evident is when Zach winds up incarcerated. He finds himself willing to sell someone else down the river to escape. And while he doesn’t let the man float away entirely, he lets him go farther than he knows he should. He’s aware he should feel guilty about it, but he doesn’t and that terrifies him.

With regards to the “secondary conflict”, this is pervasive throughout most of the novel. The entirety of Messier, an organization he has spent years working for, turns against him, ignoring his proclamations of innocence. This includes his ex-partner and best friend Tig who goes from supporting Zach to hunting him over the course of the novel.

The entirety of the novel takes place in a fictional version of modern day NYC where magic is real, monsters go bump in the night, and wizards police them in secret.

Yet what makes the setting truly unique is the organization of Messier. More specifically, how it and its agents interact with the mundane world readers are used to, and the various sub-settings it provides. Throughout the book, the reader learns about the bureaucratic nature of the organization. We see how it spends its slush fund for “Media Avoidance Fees” when one of their Numbers slips up, meet a NOMAD—a member of Messier’s delta force—and get to see first hand how the organization goes about keeping people safe and its wizards in line (sometimes with honey, and sometimes with red kaleidoscopic Shackles).

We also get to enter a number of Messier buildings that place the fantastical smack dab in the middle of the mundane. Messier is an organization that believes in hiding in plain sight. To that end, they strive to make the exterior of all their buildings look like the ones beside it. The insides, however, are a different story entirely.

From an excruciatingly unorganized library that spans twelve acres in the middle of Chinatown painted with a giant ever-changing mural, to a subterranean iron prison just outside the city, to a cave made of stone with a mind of its own, to a lab in New Jersey mass producing war golems for the company’s use, readers are slowly introduced to how Messier hides the preternatural in plain sight as the novel progresses.


lisaaranda  Post subject: Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

Posted: 16 Nov 2016, 22:04 
1) A young, pregnant woman must face divorce, keep her job, have a healthy baby and try to resist falling in love.
Joined: 16 Nov 2016, 20:34
Posts: 1 2) Neil Michaels, a brilliant and dedicated teacher, is proudly committed to the status quo of academia, and also to his wife, Emily. But not only does he own his arrogant and controlling nature, he expects his wife to, as well. They had agreed, after all, to never have children. He knew she couldn't conceive. When Emily finds herself pregnant he leaves her, thinking his abandonment will deter her from having his child. Under the pretense of tough love, and with reserves of willfulness, he indulges in his dark side to pressure his wife with an ultimatum - it's either him, or the child.

3) "The Day Trip"
"Blue Topaz and Indigo Buntings"
"Black Leather Jackets"

4) (a)

Kathleen Tessaro, "Rare Objects"
Anne Patchett, "Commonwealth"


Both Tessaro and Patchett write with savvy, upmarket style, each telling a story driven by well-faceted and engaging characters. They do not condescend to their audience with hyped-up, overly dramatic circumstance or gratuitous sex; rather they confidently offer the reader plausible stories, uncluttered by too many sub-plots. Both also employ the strong presence of internal conflict, abstract antagonism the likes of which women can empathize with, for example by virtue of the dynamics in marriage, between children and parents, or falling in - and out - of love. Again, the writing styles of Patchett and Tessaro suit a wide female audience that appreciates not only superior, artful narrative, but captivating and entertaining dialogue as well. They write with just enough sophistication in their voices to gently rub elbows with literary fiction, yet keep the writing within the realm of upscale women's fiction.

5)The Day Trip - by Elizabeth Aranda
A young woman must break away from a dysfunctional husband while enduring a risky pregnancy and the precarious health of her unborn child.

6) (a)

Driving home one evening, after dinner with her sister when she managed to talk about her divorce, Emily takes the longer route through Westbrook Heights to see if the house has sold. She drives with trepidation, knowing that as she gets closer to it, the more she will allow herself to embrace nostalgia and all the memories, good and bad, she had with Neil.

When she arrives she sees a light in the window, but no car, and no “sold” sign. Confused, she gets out to look inside – there is furniture now when it was empty last week – and hearing the snap of a stick she sees Neil coming from the side of the house.
Neil lets her know he took it off the market, that his mother wanted to help him through his divorce and the arrival of their baby. Emily is shocked, yet she follows him inside to see what they’ve done. Seeing her old home, and the way they’ve brought in everything new, including things in the nursery, she is shaken and sad.

Neil, however, senses her distance, knows there is something more. With the mention of Kevin’s name, she confronts him and tells him, yes, Kevin is in her life now, that he was there the day Neil left, the very day he attempted to get her to agree to an abortion. Emily, speaking the words, articulating the truth to the man who wanted no part of her child, leaves him there to deal with the gift he is now attempting to give, and to reconcile, alone, that she doesn’t want him back.

Emily is heartbroken, knowing even though he is the father of her child, it cannot alter the history they had and how he, himself, was responsible for bleeding her heart dry. Despite what he was trying to do now, she could never love him again.


Of course. The pitiful loss of social status:

While at a hardware store with Kevin, Emily, still in the throes of a settlement, runs into Neil’s boss, Professor James Barrett, and his wife. The four stand aside the plumbing aisle, and after a round of uncomfortable introductions, the Barretts inquire about Emily’s “difficulties.” They attempt to gauge just who Kevin is, as their questions allude to the math of Emily and Neil’s separation, her pregnancy, and what role Kevin has in any or all of it.

Their parting is awkward, a poignant depiction of how the end of a marriage results in two things here: disassociation from a couple who were once close friends and who now see her as contagious, and the swift cut of being demoted in society.


The story is primarily set in Pennsylvania. The places vary from character to character. The heroine, Emily, and her antagonist, Neil, start out in plush Westbrook Heights, one of the more affluent neighborhoods in north Philadelphia. But after their separation Emily’s world is an old stone cottage house, and also Meadowbrook Farms, where she works preparing for the Philadelphia Garden Show.

The impending death of Neil’s father takes him to London, where he learns much more about the father he never knew. And because he requires more research for his upcoming book, he tags on a trip to Tuscany to visit the ancient Machiavelli estate.
Kevin also lives near Philadelphia. But when his job doesn’t quite work out he heads for Pittsburgh.

Other places include: Philadelphia proper, Taylorsport, where Kevin’s parents live, the Hudson River Valley, Cape May, New Jersey, Hampstead, England, Tirana, Albania and Florence, Italy.


Jhall1321  Post subject: Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

Posted: 18 Nov 2016, 01:34 
Assignment 1: Write your story statement.
Joined: 15 Nov 2016, 04:08
Posts: 1 “Hunt down the ancient relic that can save everyone from the Valrani Plague.”


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

“The sorcerers of Halios have discovered little about the Shae, but everybody knows that their hunger is insatiable. They are creatures that cannot be seen, heard, or touched by the untrained mind, and nobody has discovered a way to slay them. Some claim that the Shae have been around for centuries, feeding off their victims in silent ferocity, but it’s widely believe that they first arrived only twenty years ago. From where, no one is certain.

Shaelings stand as towering and slender silhouettes of man, fabricated from liquid shadow, opaque as a moonless night. The only semblance of being lies in their face, where white spheres of light burn as blank and merciless eyes.

Even if few can detect them, the signs of their mass presence are clear. The sky rots with a sickly green hue, wildlife flees the land, and the sun is eclipsed by soot-colored clouds. Then, the sickness spreads, and people begin to die. This is how they hunt, the souls of their fallen victims siphoned from their body and consumed, damning the innocent with no vessel to the afterlife to the Eternal Darkness – a place of everlasting, solitary limbo. A fate worse than death.”


Assignment 3: Create a breakout title (no more than three).
1. The Wanderer of Halios
2. The Wanderer
3. Broken Vessels


Assignment 4: Develop two smart comparables for your novel.
1. Lost Gods by Brom. My book is like his in that they both revolve heavily around souls, life after death, supernatural horror, and traveling to other planes of existence.
2. Written in Red by Anne Bishop. The protagonists of mine and Bishop’s book are both women thrust into a cruel, dark world they know nothing about, and are both strong survivors in their own right.


Assignment 5: Write your own conflict line.

“Desperate to save her father and city from an invasion of untraceable monsters, Gwyn travels across worlds to the land Halios in search of an ancient relic that’s said to be the perfect weapon against them.”


Assignment 6: Sketch out the inner conflict of your protagonist and a hypothetical scenario in the story. Sketch out a secondary conflict.

“Gwyn’s inner conflict throughout the entire novel lies in a lack of faith in herself. Throughout the story, this magicless, ignorant woman is confronted by corrupt sorcerers, supernatural beasts, and politics that she knows nothing about. Giving up and going home isn’t an option, and Gwyn’s too stubborn with pride to admit her fear to most, but the prospect of obtaining this treasure that everyone says is impossible to retrieve is weighing down on her confidence. If the greatest sorcerers in all the land can’t obtain the relic, what chance does Gwyn have? She must prepare herself.

But even then, it’s daunting. Toward the end of the book, Gwyn begins her sorcerer’s training at the Suncliff Monastery. But, she’s just so behind everyone else, and the grueling mental challenge of it all begs her to question if magic is something she’s even capable of. Gwyn is in a world she doesn’t belong, practicing something she doesn’t understand. She can’t help but feel lost and discouraged.”

“Though there are many secondary conflicts in the story, one of the biggest ones is the blooming romance between main character Gwyn, and her sorcerer companion, Seeker Jun. With this romance come two major problems. One is that Jun is self-sacrificing to a fault. He’d do anything for Gwyn, such as when he lost his entire right arm in a fight against a sorcerer that threatened to kill them both. The second problem is that Gwyn and Jun both know, deep down, that they won’t last. Eventually, Gwyn will have to return to her home world, and when she does, Jun will have to stay behind, as is his life’s duty as a Seeker – a defender of the soulless people of Halios. Their relationship is doomed, and neither of them wish to acknowledge it.”


Assignment 7: Set the scene of your story.

Gwyn travels between two worlds: Alderum, and Halios.

The story begins in Alderum, a doomed and magicless world. The city of Valirund has succumb to a wicked plague that threatens to exterminate all of mankind. Shops and homes were battered and looted in the initial panic, martial law has taken over, forcing citizens into quarantine, and the sky has fallen ill with a sickly green hue. This is a land on the verge of death, and things are looking grim.

Then, Gwyn ventures to Halios. To her surprise, it’s a land where sorcery thrives, the undead walk among the living, and supernatural creatures and horrors found only in stories are real. Halios is a land divided by civil war between the baronies of the East, and the enigmatic Grand Ruler’s domain in the West. The people of this land are empty husks, wandering around without souls to call their own in fear of attracting the starving Shae that still lurk in the shadows. Their tired and frightened faces are a dreary peek into the future of Alderum if nothing is done.


thomasbarber  Post subject: Re: New York Pitch Conference - Assignments

Posted: 18 Nov 2016, 22:41 
Story Statement:
Joined: 18 Nov 2016, 22:33 Avenge the deaths of a wife and daughter.
Posts: 1
A lawyer, two CEOs, a billionaire tycoon, a lobbyist, and a senator. It’s business as usual, and these powerful men and women have built an empire at the expense of average citizens. Pushing pseudo-science, manipulating laws to their competitive advantage, putting profit before the lives of the people they serve. And it’s all legal. In fact, it’s the American way.

Regulations are strangling the economy. Climate change is a myth. Greed is good. America’s power structure knows what’s best for the rest of us, so keep your head down and do your job. The innovators and defenders of freedom will take care of you. A few casualties are the price of progress.

Breakout Title:
American Revenge Story
The Price of Progress

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis: Both books are first-person narratives from the mind of the killers, commenting on a darker side of American culture.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: Both books rage against the power structure, but are the protagonists heroes or villains?

Primary Conflict:
After the deaths of his wife and daughter, Trane goes on a cross-country journey to exact his revenge.

Inner and Secondary Conflicts:
Trane knows killing is wrong. He’s an educated, family man who understands his revenge spree is only feeding into a larger cycle of death and hate. But what else can he do? Because it’s not only his wife and daughter who have died; his entire town is dying, and the company at fault is getting bigger.

Scene: Speeding away from the second killing, Trane questions whether he and his accidental new partner, Roosevelt, should go back to save their victim. Tied up deep down in a cave, Medi-Waste Solutions CEO, Marcus Chan, has been left for dead. Trane’s own humanity is at stake as he decides whether to go back and save Chan or go forward with his murderous plans.

The secondary conflict is the relationship between Trane and Roosevelt. Thrust together in the opening pages of the novel, Trane and Roosevelt come from different backgrounds and have different ideologies, like two halves of a divided America. Throughout the book, it is their conversations and arguments that allow both men to grow.

Scene: Roosevelt is certain that the only group being discriminated against in America today is white men. Trane doesn’t see it that way. On their hunt for a D.C. lobbyist, the two attend a housing meeting at a black Baptist church and share a tense moment with a few members of the congregation as Roosevelt is not shy about sharing his beliefs.

Contemporary America.

The novel opens in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah moments before the first murder. Trane and Roosevelt speed off to the Lakota Indian Reservation in South Dakota where the second killing occurs in a dark cavern hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth. Off to Pittsburgh, where murder number three goes down in the rusted, crumbling belly of Carrie Furnaces—the first major steel mill in America. While no one dies in Detroit, our protagonists see firsthand its abandoned, burned-down streets, as well as the “Garden of Eden.” Trane and Roosevelt head south next, through the 9th Ward and the Garden District in New Orleans before tracking down their man in an antebellum mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. The fifth murder takes place in the side alley of a Georgetown deli in Washington D.C., but not before a visit to the National Mall and a fired-up Baptist church. The final murder takes place in New York City at the base of the Freedom Tower.

Unassuming tech writer Abba Welles dodges her biological imperative by learning how to fight, and ends up saving her newfound club and, unexpectedly, her co-workers.

“The Mount,” a gentle comedy of bruising proportions, revolves around shy unassuming Abba Welles, who is practiced in the art of evading intimacy. But when a single woman approaches her late 20s, it’s hard to put life on perpetual pause. The tech writer’s cubemate and best pal has signed up for an international matchmaking agency. Mom’s urging her to freeze her eggs. And what seems like a long dry spell is turning into a rude asexual awakening.
So when yet another soul-crushing layoff hits work, Abba lets herself be pulled into the perky HR admin’s latest girl-power venture: the bruising yet comical world of martial arts, stock full of mythmaking, mayhem and machismo. On the mat, Abba has never become more intimate with human bodies, figuring out their breaking points as well as her own physical limits. That still doesn’t make figuring out people, from wannabe ninja assassins to women on the prowl, any easier. And Abba finds herself dodging attention when word of her off-the-clock activities spreads among the engineers, who start to treat her like a fellow bro-grammer.
But Abba barely has time to consider her sex appeal or her sex drive‑-not with her Silicon Valley company’s tailspin, her friends’ marital ventures, and her newfound club’s tournament in which she’s been dragooned. Lying low just going to cut it anymore.
Learning how to get into the mount—the most dominant position in the martial arts—just might teach her lessons in raw intimacy that she never saw coming.

Brenna Hom had been on the mundane path towards a desk job in a law office or human resources until her father Dickson Hom—self-made man and serial entrepreneur—offered her $200 to tail her bratty cousin Samantha. Brenna took the “assignment” to spite her dad, and somehow ended up a specializing in snooping around the activities of the Americanized offspring of well-to-do immigrant parents. This series of short stories looks at what is irretrievably lost when immigrant families assimilate to a new culture, especially during the most accelerated pace of digital communication innovation in the history of the world.

#2 Antagonists
Adam Goss leads the "bro-grammers" at HardCore, and is the favored golden child of founders Steve and Phil Hyam. His cheerful bullying, low-level misogyny and cycle-sculpted thighs personifies Silicon Valley entitlement: His self-assurance terrifies Abba Welles--and his interest in her so-called martial exploits even more so.

Harold Tinnen is Adam's martial counterpoint, a puffed-up brown belt and a son of a karate champ whose arrogance inadvertently results in Abba entering a tournament.

Antagonistic underlying forces:
An all-pervasive social network called Liebling, an algorithm so sophisticated that it color-codes how strong people’s connections truly are, makes it all too easy for Abba to retreat into digital hermitage.

#3 Titles
The Mount
The Mounted Position
The Meek Martial Arts Master of Oaktown

#4 Comparables
"Where'd You'd Go, Bernadette?"
"Angry White Pyjamas"

#5 Conflict Line
A shy unassuming tech writer, practiced in the art of evading intimacy, enters the bruising yet comical world of martial arts full of mythmaking, machismo and mayhem.

#6 Conflicts
Abba Welles is a single woman content to avoid the obligations of her biological imperative. But when The tech writer’s cubemate and best pal signs up for an international matchmaking agency and Mom’s urging her to freeze her eggs, = what seems like a long dry spell is turning into a rude asexual awakening.

Dragged into her martial arts misadventures thanks to the perky HR girl at work, Abba finds she has unexpected talents on the mat. But just as Abba is set adrift she soon finds out that her newfound club may be closed down by its headquarters.

#6 Conflicts
Abba Welles is a single woman content to avoid the obligations of her biological imperative. But when The tech writer’s cubemate and best pal signs up for an international matchmaking agency and Mom’s urging her to freeze her eggs, = what seems like a long dry spell is turning into a rude asexual awakening.

Dragged into her martial arts misadventures thanks to the perky HR girl at work, Abba finds she has unexpected talents on the mat. But just as Abba is set adrift she soon finds out that her newfound club may be closed down by its headquarters.

#7 Settings
Oaktown is at the crossroads of ghetto and gentrification, in the shadow of Silicon Valley but just as stocked full of entrepreneurs with improbable fail-fast schemes, baristas on every corner, hobby spiritualists, the newly entitled wealthy and scrabbling immigrants. The most prominent locales include Hardcore, housed in a former sausage factory, and Soon Do Academy, next door to a Korean karaoke club. Constantly threatened by upheaval (symbolized here by layoffs at HardCore or overseas politics and corruption at Soon Do), Oaktown is a place of scrappy reinvention.

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