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PostPosted: 20 Jun 2017, 23:46 
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Assignment 2 – by Deb Plotkin

1. Story Statement for Wishbone:
A couple struggle through years of infertility madness, and as they begin to lose their sanity, they cling to their one remaining hope – a single, shared wish.

2. Antagonistic force for Wishbone:
During their 10–year foray into the unforgiving world of infertility, Deb and Bill exhaust their energy, their emotions and their resources battling an enemy invisible to everyone but them. A relentless nemesis to them alone, it is the source of unbelievable joy to others yet a consistent confirmation of failure to them. The enemy? A pregnancy test stick – an object, without thought or feeling as to the devastation its tiny plastic window places upon the hearts of a longtime childless couple in search of their happy ending.
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Excerpts from Wishbone chapter “The Stick” demonstrating antagonistic force:

Bill had come to dread that little plastic stick with the small window - despised it, actually. That stick controlled their lives. It determined their moods. It played with their emotions. It teased them. It taunted them month after grueling month. He closed his eyes for one last prayer before they both bent forward to watch the stick emerge from the cup.
Bill knew it was ridiculous to blame a plastic stick for all their troubles. After all, a plastic stick was not the reason they couldn’t conceive. But, he needed something to blame since they didn’t have any logical explanation why they haven’t conceived the child that’s been in the making since their wedding day.
...Deb’s face began to crumble like a mountainside during an avalanche.
Watching. Waiting.
The jarring sound of the timer broke them out of their trance. They both stared at the stick a moment longer. The stick. The stick that ruled their world. The stick that kept them on an emotional roller coaster. The stick with its empty window. The damned stick.

3. Breakout title for Wishbone:
Current title:
Wishbone – A story about life, love and the pursuit of parenthood
Alternate options:
Wish Granted
That damn stick :)
Wishin’ and Hopin’ and Prayin’ – oh, wait…never mind, that’s a song :)

4. Comparables for Wishbone:
-The Inconceivable Truth: A gutsy memoir about defining and surviving childless womanhood in the 21st Century by Nicki Fenthum
This is a very new release and though I did not read the book, I “peeked inside” on Amazon. Our stories are similar because we both deal with infertility, but differ because she was originally reluctant to become a mom.
I liked the details surrounding the more modern treatments available since my story begins when we married in 1988 and I’m sure there have been some advances since then.
-The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying: A life transformed by the dearly departing by Bronnie Ware
I read this book years ago and fell in love with the author’s casual and witty storytelling style. Bronnie Ware writes about the experiences of people at the end of their lives and also shares her own experiences about how this changed her.
In my book, I share my evolution as well because although my story primarily focuses on the topic of infertility, I also write about the life-changing transformation happening within that time period.
-Eat, Pray, Love: One woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
I am also familiar with this work. Elizabeth Gilbert leaves behind a life she felt she wasn’t “living”. The same theme holds true when I finally realized I was making the wrong “wish” all along. When I changed how I perceived myself, my husband and my future, Life gave me so much more than I could ever hope to wish for on my own.
She uses travel as a means to reconnect with her soul whereas my soul had quite a unique way of connecting with me.
-------------------------
As a side note, here’s something I noticed about their books and mine…our titles all include further clarification. I wonder if that’s common for the memoir genre? At least it appears to hold true on Amazon where my research showed about 50% of the titles were displayed the same way. Alternatively, similar works are also labeled with “a memoir” or “my story” following the title.
Perhaps fiction offers more freedom when naming a book because it describes the adventure the author wants the read to have whereas a memoir presents the reader with an adventure that’s already been had by the author. Either way, I believe there is an abundance of opportunities to invite the reader to take an amazing literary journey with you. And that connection is my intention whether I’m writing books, workshop presentations, blog posts or lunch notes to my kids.

5. Conflict line for Wishbone:
What’s worse? Losing your hope, losing your passion or losing your mind? If you’re not careful what you wish for, you could lose all three.

Three types of conflict addressed:
-Losing your hope (primary conflict – loss of the ease and confidence with which others seem to become pregnant)
-Losing your passion (secondary conflict – loss of spontaneous intimacy and romance with each other)
-Losing your mind (inner conflict – loss of self when choosing “pursuing a dream” rather than “allowing a miracle”)

6. Inner conflict scenario for Wishbone:
Trigger: another failed pregnancy test (that damned stick again)
Emotions: anger, sorrow, disappointment, frustration, surrender
Reaction: Deb refuses to take another test
Excerpt from Wishbone:
She pushed aside Bill’s outstretched arm as she walked past him. Shoulders down, head bowed, she looked like a soldier returning from the losing side of a battle. Beaten down and depleted, she muttered, “You will never know how I feel.”
“How can I?” Bill felt so helpless. “Babe, please…”
Deb headed for their bedroom.
“I want to be alone.” It was not a request.
Then she closed the door. With her husband standing on the other side of it, she lay down and with thoughts of unfulfilled dreams making circles in her mind, she prayed.
If I’m not meant to be a mom, then I guess I’ll have to accept that. But, God, please tell me how I can live with this soul-piercing pain.

7. Settings for Wishbone:
The setting fluctuates between the present (in Florida) and the past (in New York).

Below are some setting examples from Wishbone showing uncommon events happening in common places while also spotlighting the “colorful” characters (mostly our crazy family members) within those settings: well-meaning relatives, out-of-control pets, off-the-wall neighbors/landlords and a tenacious insect.
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-In the dining room with well-meaning relatives:
“My ass got so big when I was pregnant, I thought I’d never fit on the toilet again,” Aunt Tillie confided.
Just like our turkey this morning.
“You’re lucky you still have your figure.”
Deb passed the large bowl of salad she’d been holding to Suzie.
What do you say to something like that? Does she think telling me about the width of her rear end will deter me from wanting a child? Does she honestly believe my dress size is more important than fulfilling a lifelong wish?
“How are you holding up, Honey?” Aunt Edith asked from across the table. “Did you have the surgery yet? Did they find out why you can’t get pregnant?”
“Don’t they know what’s wrong with you yet?” Grandpa asked, ignoring Aunt Petunia’s nudge.
“Maybe you’re not doing it right,” Todd laughed as he nodded in Bill’s direction.
“I’m so glad that never happened to me.” Lynn fed her third child a bottle as she spoke. “I’ve always been able to conceive just by thinking about it!”
As the words fell from her lips, she turned to look at Deb’s pained expression.
“I’m so sorry.” Lynn picked up her daughter and snuggled her close. “That came out all wrong.”
Eyes wide, Deb turned and looked at Bill.
“I forgot something in the kitchen.” She walked quickly back through the door.
What the hell?
“It’s show time!” Bill barged through the door, disturbing her peace.
“I don’t think I can go back out there. They’re even worse than I remember.” Deb looked around desperately for something else to do, but all of the food had been cooked and brought to the dining room where the others were awaiting her return.
“You do this every year.” Bill gently pushed Deb toward the door. “You hide in the kitchen for most of the day then you avoid the company YOU invited.”
“Then why break tradition?” Deb asked.
----------
-In the kitchen (in my book, you’ll soon notice this is my favorite place) with out-of-control pets:
The dogs raised their heads from the fallen basket long enough to notice Deb headed toward them. They went back to devouring the rest of the fruit as she grabbed Merlin’s large blue collar, the id tags jingling.
As Deb reached for Dora, she slid on a puddle of lavender scented body wash from the broken bottle she had noticed too late. Seizing the opportunity to break free, Merlin lurched forward bumping the chair holding the heaping platter of carved turkey.
Deb quickly extended her arms, but the slick surface of the ceramic tile plopped her right back down on the floor. She watched the plate begin to topple, eyes wide with terror. Just as she felt the situation was hopeless, she saw a hand appear from behind her back to steady the chair and save the turkey.
Deb turned to see Bill and watched him attempt to grab the panic-stricken animals in front of him. Dora began barking loudly then Merlin joined her with a deep-chested “WOOF”.
Deb tried to slide back to allow him room to maneuver the dogs out of the kitchen. But before he could successfully return them to the yard once more, Dora turned her head and devoured the top half of the pile of turkey on the platter Bill had just rescued.
“Ugggghhh.” The sound that escaped Deb’s mouth was more of a grunt than a word. She pushed the dogs toward Bill, who dragged them through the open yard door.
----------
-In the front yard reminiscing about off-the-wall neighbors/landlords:
“And, most of all, I’ll miss our lovely neighbors,” said Bill, desperately trying to maintain a straight face.
Deb stopped walking and doubled over with laughter, dropping the tote and spilling its contents all over the sidewalk. Bill put down the cage and bent to help her as he joined in the laughter.
Their neighbors were anything but lovely.
“Remember last summer during our Memorial Day party when the kids next door frolicked in nothing but their skin on the lawn in front of our sliding glass door?” Bill grabbed his deodorant.
“You know how I believe it’s important to provide entertainment for our guests.” Deb reached across Bill to grab the shampoo bottle that had rolled out of the bag.
“What about the people above us? They left a trail of the most sour stench lingering in the hallway for days.” Bill picked up a pair of socks. “I swear they cooked feet.”
“And let’s not forget how handy our landlord was.” Deb rolled her eyes.
“He was even less handy than I am!” Bill admitted.
“What about when he ‘fixed’ the stove and then it caught fire on Thanksgiving morning?”
“I slept through that, remember?” Bill confessed.
----------
-In the hallway and bedroom battling a tenacious insect:
They stood in the hallway for a while before Deb spoke again.
“You have to get rid of it.”
“I’m not going back in there.” Bill backed away from the closed door as if expecting the bug to open it and devour them whole.
“You have to. We can’t let it breed.”
Bill thought about this for a moment and decided to brave the beast.
“Give me something to kill it with.”
They searched the rest of the house and found a fly swatter in the garage. Bill crept slowly up to the door gripping his new weapon.
“Why are you tip-toeing? Do you think it will hear you?” Deb asked.
Bill shot her a deadly look as he carefully opened the door. He looked at the spot where he saw it last.
“It’s gone.”
“Did you expect it to wait for you?” Deb replied.
“Great! That’s just great!” Bill stomped into the room. “Now I’ve got to find it all over again!”
He turned and spotted the bug above the door where Deb stood. She followed his gaze and let out a blood curdling scream worthy of any horror movie.
“Don’t move,” Bill instructed.
But Deb didn’t think standing still directly below a freakishly large insect was such a great suggestion, so she quickly slammed the door shut.
The bug fell to the ground and scurried across the room.
“Ahhhhhhhh!”
Fueled by his fear, Bill screamed as he ran toward it, swinging his swatter with every step. The bug slipped under the bi-fold doors of the closet just as Bill approached.
“Oh, no you don’t!”

NOTE:
I thank you all for this amazing opportunity to review my story in a whole new light. This has been an eye-opening experience, and given me much to consider with new stories as I bring them to life.
I look forward to a wonderful adventure when I return to my “Homeland”. See you soon!
-Deb Plotkin
deb@daplotkin.com


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PostPosted: 22 Jun 2017, 04:25 
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Joined: 17 Jun 2017, 03:33
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I also posted this in the other forum. Not sure which should be used?


The Act of Story Statement

Via ruthless opportunism, unparalleled deceit, and an unscrupulous commitment to winning, Elle Ellerbe has achieved The American Dream at the cost of her own happiness. Kidnapped by armed assailants in the midst of a corporate heist, Elle is given a second chance to redefine her principles, re-hash her priorities, and build the life she truly seeks, as a member of the criminal underground.

The Antagonists: Elle Ellerbe and Vladimir Volkov


The wealth, affluence, and professional prestige which mark Elle Ellerbe's adult life bear no resemblance to the orphanage and destitution which defined her childhood. Through ruthless opportunism, unparalleled deceit, and a commitment to winning no matter the cost to herself or others, Elle Ellerbe has achieved The American Dream she always envisioned for herself. Still, her ascent has come with heavy burdens: an abusive fiancé who resents her endless deceit, a degrading lover who suspects her manipulation, and a personal struggle with the manic depression which claimed the lives of both her parents. Desperate for true love, the one thing she has always desired yet never experienced, Elle dreams of escaping the miserable existence she has violently forged for herself. When armed assailants kidnap Elle in the midst of a corporate heist, she is given a new identity; a second chance at building the life she truly desires as a member of The Syndicate, an international criminal enterprise. Still, in Elle's new existence, her marked selfishness, affinity for toxic relationships, and desire for absolute control recreate the same unhappy scenario she encountered in her former identity. As Elle's idyllic aspirations for her new identity waiver, her former existence begins to invade her new life at every turn. Forced to confront herself as the true obstacle to her own happiness, Elle makes a power play which will change her life and the lives of everyone she is connected to, forever.

After the murders of his parents at the hands of the KGB, Vladimir Volkov was raised by his Uncle, a Russian bookie in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn. After elevating himself from local street level crime to multi-million dollar international theft, Vladimir struggles to reconcile the demons of his past: drug addiction, stalking, and a series of violent rapes against women. Having achieved some modicum of peace following years of self-deprivation as a means of atonement, Vladimir sets into motion a plan which will reunite him with the love of his life: Elle Ellerbe. After kidnapping Elle in the midst of a corporate heist, Vladimir initiates Elle as a member of The Syndicate, the international criminal group under which he operates. The life Vlad dreams of building with Elle spins out of control as their mutual deceit, self-serving decisions, and sexual dysfunction erode their romantic intentions. With his personal achievements and newfound peace hanging in the balance, Vlad must find equilibrium with Elle's new presence in his life or release her forever.



Breakout Titles

C.R.E.A.M.
The Syndicate Rules
Elle and Vlad


Genre and Comparables

Genre : Crime Fiction / Romantic Fiction

I have to preface this by saying I searched long and hard for novels with a black female protagonist in the context of characters of non-black cultures. My findings were thin and the journey of the protagonist is not at all comparable in emotional complexity/cultural context. I'm going to use a television show as a comparable for that reason.

Scandal meets Fifty Shades of Grey
Insecure meets The Firm


The Primary Conflict

Elle Ellerbe resents the decisions she has made to achieve the wealth and influence she holds, yet in order to achieve the true love and happiness she longs for, Elle must make sacrifices she may not be prepared to accept.

After silencing his inner demons, Vladimir Volkov feels ready for the life he has always envisioned with Elle Ellerbe at his side, but maintaining the peace of mind he found absent of Elle may require greater discipline and sacrifice than he is capable of exhibiting.

The Secondary Conflict

Vlad and Elle work cohesively to defraud a major insurance corporation of $20 million in the biggest heist of Vlad's career. As the two use their respective skill sets to stage and execute the heist, a power struggle of epic proportions threatens to collapse both their romantic and working relationships.

The Inner Conflict

Elle desires wealth and affluence so strongly that the ruthlessness she employed in her former life has become embedded in her personality. Elle struggles to employ new principles such as compromise, submission, and honesty to foster the true love she has always desired aside Vladimir Volkov.

Vlad created an idyllic version of Elle during the many years he stalked her without her knowledge. Now that the "real" Elle is a part of his life, he is largely unprepared for the mutual power struggle and manipulation present in their dynamic. As Vlad struggles to maintain the mental stability which allowed him to suppress his demons, his desire for violence and for rape re-emerge in his psyche.


The Setting


The setting changes often throughout the story as the main characters are employed in international criminal enterprise and live somewhat nomadic lives as a result.

Charlotte — a city in the South, beautiful Charlotte looks and feels like a suburb yet offers a somewhat metropolitan business experience, serving as headquarters to major banks and other big business. As major figures in business, our characters live and work in upscale settings characterized by aesthetic beauty and modern convenience. These settings include:

Elle and Francois' luxury condo
Perth & Associates - Elle and John's (her lover's) corporate workplace

New York — after Elle’s kidnapping, New York City becomes the main venue. Our characters stay on the move between hotels and luxury residences owned by Vlad. As is characteristic to the “New York Experience” our characters frequent local restaurants, gyms, and coffee shops while conducting business and during free time.

The W in NYC
The Hamptons
Church Street Boxing Gym
Starbucks NYC
Richard Meier on Prospect Park
Gueros
Kalamazoo Coffee
Cheryl’s Global Soul
JFK International Airport
Private Jet

Prague— Elle is officially initiated into The Syndicate inside an old castle which looks dilapidated on the outside, but has been renovated within. The main symposium is a sphere which seats hundreds of members around a stage at the bottom center.

The Syndicate Symposium

Paris — The novel rounds out in Paris, where our characters reflect and begin to plan for the “new world order” Elle created. This setting includes the site of a press conference, a restaurant, and Vlad’s private Jet en route to New York.

Faubourg Street
Le Grande Poisson
Private Jet


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