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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 17 Sep 2017, 23:01
Can a small town girl hold onto to her optimism in the overwhelming negative world of famous people?
Liz always assumes the best in every situation. Her small town taught her that you can trust everyone and everyone will take care of you. Then she enters the bizarre cynical world that lies beneath the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. It desperately wants to destroy her. Liz is constantly at war with this pessimism; continually finding the best in everyone and every situation. Whether it’s talking to her favorite famous crush or standing up for herself when she is treated like trash, Liz must find the courage to fit into a world that is the opposite of everything she believes in. She must find a way to fight through the selfish entitlement of famous people while still holding onto to her joy and generosity.
What I Learned From Famous People
Amongst the Glitz and Glamour
Live Like the Rich and Famous, Only Better.
This book is a lot like Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please”. Amy takes a comedic look at her crazy life and the lessons that she has learned from those moments. Her audience will be similar to mine in that people who want to be inspired by a narrative non-fiction will also enjoy my book. I think people who enjoy stories about famous people ready bios of their favorite stars. Therefore, her audience would be my audience because they will be pulled in by the famous people in this book.
My book is also like “Love Does" by Bob Goff. My book is similar to his in that he is an everyday guy with uplifting stories that encourage people to live a better life. Because of my interactions with famous people the stories seem to hold a higher level of conflict and interest, but they are both books told by the person next door.
A small town farm girl, thrust into the discontent world of entitled famous people, fights to hold onto her positivity and joy everyday by finding the best in every person and every situation.
Two More Levels of Conflict:
Liz is a single woman looking for love amongst this crazy world. Could a famous person be her perfect guy? She both wants to be professional, have nothing to do with this world and find love.
Liz is a perfectionist who wants to do well at her jobs. So although she finds it ridiculous to treat famous people like they are more important than her, it is required at her jobs. Can she hold on to the truth that every person matters the same and do her jobs well?
This book is filled with amazing settings. Although it is narrative non-fiction it takes place in a world that very few ever get to experience. We start off in the feature casting office of 20th Century Fox. This is the office where famous people audition for movies, so it is a hub of activity and a great introduction to Liz and the Hollywood world around her.
The stakes become even higher when we move backstage to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It is so fun to sit amongst the craziness of live television and see the buzz of excitement. Liz takes you on a rare tour, even entering the dressing rooms of Beyonce, Tom Cruise and other famous people.
The book continues in unique situations, bringing the reader on an adventure through the Warner Brothers Studio lot, by the Friends set, backstage Disneyland, Aston Kutcher’s trailer and more. With every scene the reader is taken to a world they would almost never see in their life.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 17 Sep 2017, 23:59
Eradicate the supernatural threat posed by shifters without exposing herself to the world
The antagonistic force in this story is four-fold. In an effort to prepare her to face the greatest shifter who ever lived, the U.S. government kidnaps Faedra and sends her to the Institute for Dimensional Studies. Although the ultimate antagonist is this all-powerful shifter, the first antagonist we encounter is a fellow student who deserves to be hated for his perfection. As Faedra's own insecurities struggle to accept his intelligence, looks, and charisma, this antagonist evolves into a substantial support, one who is also at the mercy of antagonist number two: the trainer.
The man assigned to mentor Faedra in the art of dimensional espionage is cruel and abusive, seemingly by choice, not by nature. He believes cruelty is the best way to force Faedra to deal with her inner demons and to prepare her for the true threat beyond the institute. His presence also highlights the antagonistic force created by the Department of Interdimensional Operations, a U.S. agency that won’t hesitate to destroy fourteen-year-old girls in its ambition to maintain an international position of strength. The fourth antagonistic force is comprised of thugs, rogue agents, and enemy shifters, all thrown at Faedra by her own trainer and government as she prepares to face the ultimate shifter.
LIMITS AT INFINITY
Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Big Bang Theory—fantasy for left-brainers
My work can be compared to that of Veronica Roth and Marie Lu, given their their non-flowery, action-oriented writing styles, strong themes and female characters, and premises that are more scientific in nature than fantastical.
A gifted mathematician and little else, Faedra must use her intellect to confront the growing supernatural threat presented by shifters, people who can manipulate space and time, in order to protect her country and defeat the greatest shifter who ever lived.
A reluctant superhero, Faedra must conquer her crippling insecurity and the abuse she receives from her trainer in order to realize her own value and to accept the friendships offered by those she deems above her.
The trainer assigned to Faedra gives voice to the disparaging thoughts that run through her head. When forced to respond to these attacks—to succumb to self-hatred or rise above—Faedra must find some foundation on which to build her self-confidence.
An ostensible paradise, the Institute for Dimensional Studies is an isolated volcanic island, replete with waterfalls, beaches, jungles, and an entirely too quaint town. However, when saddled with five colorful friends and a dimensional trainer whose only job is to make Faedra’s life miserable, the island feels less like paradise and more like prison.
Upon completion of her first year of training, Faedra is toted throughout Europe, where she encounters thugs, rogue agents, and enemy shifters, in order to hone her skills and establish her presence as a dimensional operative.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 00:20
ARC OF STORY STATEMENT
Miranda, who has built the perfect enclosed environment to raise her child, must go out into the ravaged world to rescue her son when he flees.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
Ray is a scientist who escaped the failing Asia City and found refuge in the city where his skills as an animal scientist were welcomed. His primary research interest is the ferrat, a large, highly evolved rat that has invaded the city and uses it for its own purposes. Miranda is both attracted and repulsed by Ray. He is very much like the ferrat, skillfully weaving himself and his family into the fabric of the city for his own personal motives. His intelligence and charm only lightly mask his amused contempt for the city and his belief that it doesn’t have long to survive, which shakes Miranda’s confidence in the city and its goals more than she wants to admit. His love for his only daughter Kazuko outweighs everything and he will use anyone, Miranda, her son Alex, and even his estranged son Yoshi, to keep his daughter safe.
CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE
Once You Leave
Beyond the city walls
DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES
Speculative Fiction; Post-apocalyptic fiction
The Road. Cormac McCarthy.
Comparable, in that when the world breaks down due to the shabby and greedy behavior of man, there is no miracle rescue, only the love and sacrifice you make for family and the core of decency that remains in some when everything else falls away.
The Dog Stars. Peter Heller. Comparable, in that the protagonist tries to find sanity through human connection after the loss of his wife in the pandemic and the dog that helped him survive all the loss, much as Miranda’s dog, Fred, helped her survive the increasingly unlivable outside, before she sacrificed him to enter the city.
CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT – COMING OF THE “AGON”
Miranda, a world builder, believes absolutely in the enclosed city that saved the chosen few when the world fell apart. When her son grows to hate the city and to escape from its confines, can she find a way to save him and to survive a dying planet beyond the safety of the city walls?
Miranda gave up everything that mattered—her dog, her best friend--to escape to the city that promised the chosen few a life of privilege and safety. As a world builder, she creates the subtle controls and manipulations that keep the populace content. When her son escapes, Miranda must confront not only the city but the person she became when she entered its walls. She must face how her decisions created the situation that threatens to destroy them all.
Miranda teams up with Ray to rescue their children who have slipped through the city walls. Ray is everything Miranda fears and detests—cynical and amused by the city that gave him refuge, taking what he needs but contributing little in return. But he is her best bet to find and rescue her son. Can she work with him without becoming like him?
THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING
Mirrored walls shut out the dying planet. The city provides controlled climate, colorful buildings, and virtual servants—DPs—who can assume any shape you like and manage your health and your responsibilities. Outside is alternate flooding and desert and people who scramble to survive on the leavings of the three remaining cities, two of which are crumbling into the corroded earth that surrounds them. The outside is harsh, but somehow people survive. Can it offer something to Miranda’s son and his girlfriend, Kazuko, that the city cannot?
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 16:22
Peg Thorton, assistant building manager of Lisbon Park in Manhattan’s trendy Chelsea neighborhood, must investigate the deaths resulting from a glamorous charity dinner party and prove that the host, a friend from Wisconsin, is innocent.
Jesie Hernandez, newly hired police officer, must show that she is competent and will catch the mastermind behind the assassin, even if it angers her superiors.
Though Anthony Tarrington is as elegant and slim as a male model, the sourness of his expression dissipates any sense that he is an attractive man. As a lawyer for a French billionaire set on consolidating various apartments into a magnificent pied a terre at Lisbon Park, he ended up suing landlord Leo Katz for the structural problems in the building. “Nothing personal,” he tells Peg.
After a dead body has been found next to Lisbon Park’s dumpsters, Tarrington cajoles Leo Katz into having Peg interview everyone who attended the charity dinner party. The billionaire’s apartment is close to being sold, which would mean the end of the lawsuit. A hint of scandal could squash the deal. Peg is instructed to e-mail her notes to Anthony Tarrington after each guest has been interviewed. Halfway through her investigation, she concludes that the only thing she has learned is that Tarrington is a master manipulator. He chose every guest who attended the dinner party to entice the prospective buyer, made sure it was held at Teddy Gold’s apartment, and promised The New York Times the appearance of an upcoming chef. Tarrington even seems to know how many more dead bodies will turn up.
Recently discharged from the military, Jesie is used to rough treatment by superiors, but Detective Crowley takes dressing-down to a new, low level. At the dumpsters, where she found the body, he continues to chew her out for every mistake in front of a host of detectives and technicians. She follows his orders to review the building’s security tapes for the doorways, then when she gets to the investigation room he lambasts her in a crowd of detectives and patrol officers for not looking at the elevator tapes first. Little miss a**hole becomes her nick name.
Even her temporary assignment to be a liaison with the assistant building manager at Lisbon Park is a joke. Essentially, her job is to lie to Peg Thorton about when the garbage is going to be picked up. Her reward for tracing Teddy Gold’s movements to a fish store, where she finds a body parked in a freezer, is to be assigned as a minder for an alcoholic detective. As the hunt for the killer comes to an end, Detective Crowley stops the surveillance of a garage in Queens which tells her that the detective might not want to find out who the real culprit is.
Lisbon Park Murders
Poison in Chelsea
The Chelsea Murders
GENRE AND COMPARABLES
This is a cozy mystery with strong female protagonists. It combines the humor of Carl Hiaasen with the social justice dynamics of Sarah Paretsky. A comparable mystery might be Nora Page’s Better off Read and or R. J. Lee’s Grand Slam Murders if they were set in Manhattan rather than the South (just picked these two out of “Deals” section of Publisher’s Marketplace). I could choose any of Rita Mae Brown’s mystery novels, but the cats in my novel don’t talk (meow).
Peg Thorton, assistant building manager of Lisbon Park, mired in a midlife crisis and beset by demanding tenants, less than competent staff, and a crazy landlord, is forced to investigate who possibly could have poisoned the guests at a high-profile charity dinner party held in the apartment of her only real friend, interior designer Teddy Gold. Her investigation takes on urgency when Teddy is arrested. As she proceeds with interviews of a French billionaire and his wife, a radical lawyer, the assistants to an opera singer, a lowly staff member of the charity, an ex-governor and his wife, and a star of a television cooking show, all she discovers is that the French billionaire’s lawyer, Anthony Tarrington, seems to be pulling all the strings so that the billionaire can sell his apartment. The only person who seems to be helping her is the ex-wife of the radical lawyer, Mitsy.
Initially put off by Peg Thorton, NYPD patrol officer Jesie Hernandez begins to develop some sympathy for her when she watches Detective Crowley grill her and intimate that she is an accomplice of Teddy Gold. After Peg is knocked out in the storage room, Jesie teams up with her and their coordinated investigations uncover the killer and the powerful person who ordered the killing. Defying their respective bosses, they work to flush out the culprit.
Though only a rookie cop, in just one afternoon Jesie manages to trace the missing waiter for the charity dinner, a key witness, and tracks Teddy Gold’s movements to the discovery of a dead body in the freezer of a fish store. All signs point to Teddy’s guilt, so she has been working at cross purposes to Peg’s efforts to clear her friend.
Detective Crowley has not allowed the garbage of Lisbon Park to be picked up (might be evidence), so the dumpsters are crammed and additional garbage is being stored in the staff hallways, which now look like World War I bunkers. Union members are in revolt. Worse, the blood-specked hedges hiding the dumpsters have been cut down (might be evidence), so the tenants and co-op board are angrily complaining that their white-glove apartment building looks like a public housing complex.
Peg Thorton has been hitting the Scotch more than usual for some time. The discovery of a body by the dumpsters triggers her traumatic memories of being beaten by her husband, his murder, and the shotgun death of her father. What weighs on her more heavily is that when Teddy Gold was just a high school student hiding out in the library she ran, she knew his father was violent, knew that he was being hounded by fellow students for being gay, and she did not help him. Only after Teddy left town was she able to get the courage to leave her battering husband. Ironically, it is Teddy who offered her help at a critical time by getting her a job at Lisbon Park. This is her opportunity to save him, which she failed to do twenty years ago.
Peg’s other inner conflict, the structural problems of the building she runs, seems insurmountable. She is angered by her own foot-dragging in getting another position as a building manager. She knows logically that she must escape, but something keeps her at Lisbon Park, bailing out a sinking ship.
Jesie Hernandez was a military police sergeant in Iraq, but what the NYPD doesn’t know is that she was in the stockade for three months for refusing to provide information about U.S. soldiers who killed a young boy. If she had given testimony, she wouldn’t have left Iraq alive. The killing was also witnessed by another MP, who was also put in stockade for lack of cooperation. She married him the day after they were both honorably discharged and their military records were cleared. Less than nine months ago, Jesie left her husband in California when she was notified that her number had come up on the police exam in her home town of New York. Jesie wants to divorce him, but since her husband is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome she is worried this will worsen his condition. When she becomes attracted to Jacobo, the union shop steward at Lisbon Park, Jesie must decide whether to tell him about her husband. She hasn’t even told her mother or her relatives she is married, they’re just glad she has a good civil service job and is settled in Yonkers.
Jesie wants to move up the ranks quickly, but from time to time she ponders why she has gravitated towards military organizations. When she was in high school, the ROTC gave her purpose and structure, but in the army and now in the NYPD her experience is that she is resented for her gender and short stature –– always has to prove herself as a Latina. Worse, the motives of the brass always turn out to be difficult to read and twisted.
For Jesie Garcia, a new cop on midnight patrol, Tenth Avenue is a weird street, a boundary line between two worlds, between Manhattan and something close to her old neighborhood in the Bronx. The west side of the Avenue is still mostly blocks of auto repair shops and light industry. Among them is a scattering of warehouse-sized discos and a street full of art gallery buildings, outposts of gentrification. When Jesie first started, she discovered that behind the locked doors of garages and factories, sometimes there are dozens of workers in sleeping bags on the floor.
The east side of Tenth Avenue is another story. It has become trendy, so trendy that just a one-room apartment, dressed up with the fancy name of “studio,” sells for half a million or more. Jesie has been told that at one point the east side of Tenth Avenue had been solidly middle class, mostly teachers, secretaries, mid-level accountants, lawyers who worked for government agencies. Now it has become a happening neighborhood. But whatever is happening is happening inside people’s apartments. At the beginning of her beat, all she sees is a few people walking their little dogs and by the end of her beat, the early-risers are out with their little dogs.
The neighborhood is so lacking in crime that it is boring, but filled with opportunities to rack up citations. If she continues to go after the dog walkers for improperly disposing of poop and maybe ask around to learn if it’s illegal for employers to let their workers sleep on the premises, she might rise in the ranks, even become a detective.
Peg Thorton can remember eighteen years ago, when she first saw Lisbon Park as she walked along 23rd Street with a large suitcase that held what was left of her life in Wisconsin. It was a chocolate castle in a sea of nondescript grey buildings.
Teddy, a friend from her little town who had become a well-known interior designer, had invited Peg Thorton sleep on his couch while she job-hunted. After it became unmistakably clear that nobody he knew wanted to hire a middle-aged, overweight ex-librarian, Teddy managed to charm the harried building manager into hiring an assistant. For the first few weeks, as she walked the creamy marble halls that were so wide a small car could drive through them, she thought she had inherited the keys to a castle. Even then, there had been signs. She asked why the hallways were always being painted. “Oh, there are cracks we have to patch up,” she was told, “Anyway, the tenants like it that the halls are always painted fresh.”
Now her nightmares are about brown bricks tumbling down on 23rd Street. Lisbon Park is structurally unsound. But isn’t just the bricks, the whole building is unraveling under her watch. She is caught between the incessant demands of landlord Leo Katz, who routinely fires every building manager she has worked for, and union Local 32BJ, who represents Lisbon Park’s employees, whom she calls the Dominican army. She is sure that Jacobo, the shop steward, is going to end one of his occasional tirades with a chorus of the L’Internationale.
Most of the tenants had been replaced by owners, then they were replayed by much wealthier owners whose assorted minions threaten her with lawsuits. The previous co-op board was notorious for asking prospective buyers about how many children they planned to have and even reviewed the suitability of their pets. Current board members have been in a pitched battle for months about the tint of the gravel in the desolate courtyard between the two wings of the building, which they call a park.
Peg’s plan is to escape all this squabbling before there is a huge avalanche of brown bricks on Tenth Avenue — front-page news, an every-15-minute CNN feature, photos e-mailed around the world. She keeps telling herself to focus on making sure this Chelsea catastrophe doesn’t happen on her watch.
Seven Assignments from Natasha Israni
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 19:51
1. Story Statement
A young Indian woman with bone cancer distrusts and defies conventional medicine while being irresistibly drawn to two men - her sister’s friend and her physical therapist - who she suspects are both manifestations of a god in human disguise
2. In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story
Enigmatic Samay, a charming Merchant Navy sailor, coaches Antara in the power of the mind to overcome cancer and becomes one of her inspirations in her battle against the disease. But is he her greatest guru, or her worst enemy? Antara suspects that he is an ancient god in human disguise. But what kind is he? And why is he here? Has she been his eternal consort over lifetimes, locked in a power struggle?
Inspired by Samay’s emphasis on the power of the mind, Antara stubbornly believes she can heal herself. But without chemotherapy, the tumour near her knee could metastasize. Her relationships with Samay and later, Nirvaan, her physiotherapist, blur the boundaries of reality and illusion. She must manage her intense feelings while undergoing treatment. Her fight against the disease and her love for Samay and Nirvaan might unlock secrets about the evolution of gods on the planet, the reasons for severe climactic changes on Earth, ways of bringing about balance worldwide, but could also drive her insane, or kill her.
One of her Delhi doctors believes it is safer to amputate a limb that has a tumor, to stop its spread. But Antara wants to save her leg. Will she succumb to his fears of metastasis, or defy her doctors to realize her dream of still taking part in the Miss India beauty pageant?
3. Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three)
Genre: Upmarket fiction with elements of magical realism
The Monsoon Gods OR Monsoon Gods
4. Develop two smart comparables for your novel
Neil Gaiman's American Gods for the overarching theme of gods taking on human forms. While the story lines are distinctly different, what’s common is the idea of gods going about their lives as humans, while facing perils and being pitted against other gods. Similar to American Gods, this novel also raises questions about old vs. new gods. One of the new gods is science. While old gods are mythology, faith, human imagination that might have birthed gods in the first place.
The intention is for the book to read like a mystery, similar in tone to American Gods.
At the end of Life of Pi, when Pi relates his story to Japanese authorities, there are two versions. One is that Pi survived 227 days lost at sea on a boat with a large Bengal tiger. The other is far less fantastical and conventional. But which one is true? Did Antara really interact with gods and see what others couldn’t? Or is it all just a figment of her chemo brain? At the end of the novel, there could be two versions of her experience. Which one is true? And who is she really? An ordinary girl fighting Cancer? Or a new-age goddess unraveling the mystery of godhood?
Elements of magical realism in the book compare to Indian authors such as Amitav Ghosh.
5. Write your own conflict line following the format above
19-year-old Antara is battling bone cancer, conventional medicine and her own imagination in an attempt to save her leg and still follow her dream of taking part in India’s biggest beauty pageant, which she had hoped would springboard her into a media career. In the fight to save her life and dreams, her enigmatic friend Samay emphasizes the power of will and intention. But a string of surreal experiences makes Antara question her destiny, spirituality, and Samay’s true identity. Does her cancer stem from an otherworldly connection over infinite lifetimes? And is her mysterious physiotherapist another manifestation of Samay? Torn between the two men, Antara is convinced her cancer enables a secret insight into the world of avatars, gods on Earth, who lead her through her disease as a sacred quest. But if it’s “chemo brain” that’s driving her mad, she could die.
6. Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have
Rising from a trough in the Indian Ocean, the monsoons have crossed over the Western Ghats and arrived in Pune. One night, Antara, decimated by toxic, nauseating chemotherapy cycles, is alone in her hospital room. The clouds unleash their fury, falling in a million pieces on the gray stone porch of the Indian Army hospital. Antara hears the howling thunder echo through stonewalls. Little white curtains on the glass windows flutter back in the wind to reveal the sky swimming low. Putting away the books and letters crowding her bed, she lies down. The booming and the roaring gets louder and louder. Crack. Lightning. Flash. Roll. Boom, boom, boom. A dozen jet planes crisscrossing the charcoal sky. As the stormy minutes pass, the thunder creeps inside of her, rain gushes down her cheeks. Is she experiencing the monsoon, or is she whipping it further? Is she making the wind blow harder, the raindrops fall faster, the lightning strike longer? The angrier she feels, the more vicious the storm becomes. Anger at her leg. Anger at fate. Anger at Samay. Anger at skeptical doctors. Anger at the suppression of female gods in the history of the planet. Fury at the rape of Mother Earth. The power of nature, the power is hers. A strange smile breaks open her parched lips. “The wrath is mine” -- shape the words in her head. “Mine is the wrath, the wrath is mine. Mine, mine, mine, mine.”
Antara undergoes a series of surreal, spiritual experiences, in the lead up to her cancer diagnosis and later, while undergoing treatment. Not only is she battling Cancer and trying to save her leg, but she must also solve a mystery that both excites and overwhelms her. Why does she suspect that there is more to her cancerous experience than the disease? Who are Samay and Nirvaan? Why is she so intensely connected to them? Does Samay seek to help or harm her? And who is she? Why the hell does she feel like an ethereal being at times? And what do all three have to do with the evolution of the planet?
7. Finally - sketch out your setting in detail
First, the elite South Delhi area of New Delhi – where Antara’s college is located, as well as where her local guardian, her aunt, lives. The modern, bustling clinic of an orthopedic doctor, where Antara first goes for diagnostic tests after her knee starts hurting. The hustle bustle chaos of India. The pollution and noise of New Delhi, yet also its simmering hot beauty before the impending monsoon season. It is June of 1996 - the monsoons have yet to arrive, but dust storms are bringing rain already. These pre-monsoon showers are rumbles of the stronger storms to come…both in the physical reality of the Indian season, as well as in Antara’s life.
Pune. We see an Indian Army club where Antara’s parents (her father is a Brigadier in the Indian Army) have gone to see a film with her elder sister. And where in the middle of the film, a small screen flashes with the message - “Emergency - Brigadier Idnani, please call home urgently." Those words launch her family into crisis as they learn of Antara’s bone cancer diagnosis in Delhi.
Mumbai. Where Antara travels to for further treatment. India's largest Cancer hospital, Tata Memorial, where she first meets doctors who give her hope. Also - a colonial-era ivy walled Indian Navy hospital, INHS Asvini (Indian Navy Hospital Ship) at the edge of the Indian Ocean, where she goes through chemotherapy cycles. Sea breezes waft through, driving rain lashes the windowpanes. The monsoons have arrived. Against this background, Antara finds doctors here who are more open-minded and willing to give her leg a chance. It is here that she has some beautiful, mysterious interactions with the protagonist/antagonist force of Samay, a Merchant Navy sailor who ardently loves the sea, just as much as he loves the vast, powerful potential of the human mind. He visits her every day when she first arrives at this hospital.
Western Ghats. A mountain range that Antara crosses on the way from Mumbai to her ancestral home in Pune.
Back in Pune - the Indian Army hospital where she was born. She goes back here for part of her treatment, and has a spiritual breakthrough of reaching “shunya”. We see her father’s ancestral home in a middle class colony.
Osho's Ashram, also in Pune. Tired of nauseating chemotherapy cycles, this is where Antara wants to escape to - lush greenery, liberating new-age concepts and free men and women in saffron robes. Here she seeks refuge from what she sees as the shackles of modern science and doctors with limited vision.
Maasimpur, Assam. A northeastern Indian town by the river Barak where Antara goes to in flashback as she recalls the period just before she was diagnosed with the Big C. She had visited Maasimpur for a few months, while her parents were posted there. A strange little Kali temple on top of a hill where she first spots an Aghora (Aghoras are ascetic Shaiva sadhus whose bizarre practices and rituals are frowned upon by orthodox Hinduism) who she locks eyes with and has a brief conversation. What happened in that energy exchange? A quantum leap of spiritual growth? Is that what led to her cancer a few months down the line? Was she chosen as a recipient of an important secret? So was cancer a portal to her spiritual growth, and key to understanding the real presence of gods on Earth?
Mumbai again - it is here that she is seen recovering from limb salvage surgery. The charming colonial hospital and its airy physiotherapy center becomes the setting for her romance with Nirvaan, her physiotherapist. Large windows to the ocean, shared amusement, chuckles and synchronicity, their searing chemistry, yet the staggering social boundaries that separate them.
Antara’s imagination is a landscape in itself - where she starts living in parallel to her physical reality. While reading a portion of a Bible that Samay presents her, she is transported to the realms of Jezebel, Moses and Jesus. And through the pervading presence of Hindu deities in India – into the world of Krishna, Radha, Vishnu and Kali. All the books that she reads while she is in hospital – from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to Richard Bach’s “Illusions” start serving up clues to what is happening to her and what she is up against. They start reading like pieces in a puzzle.
Lucknow and the Pacific Ocean - where we see Samay. Samay sails the seas as a merchant navy sailor, but calls Lucknow home. Samay seen in this North Indian city with friends at a Sufi festival. Lucknow once epitomized the symbiosis of Hindu-Muslim-Sikh cultures, and is still known for its “adab” and “tehzeeb”, its syncretic nature, its haunting Urdu poetry that has a deep influence on Samay.
Samay on a merchant navy ship during an intense storm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. How he handles the storm and what it says about him.
In Pune, Mumbai, Maasimpur, Delhi – the wide canvas of faith in 1990s India – healers of different denominations - Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sufis. Temples and churches in Assam, Pune and Mumbai. Different versions of faith and healing that Antara encounters in her cancerous journey.
Nirvaan in Vishakhapatnam, a South Indian port, where he is transferred to after Mumbai.
Towards the end of the novel, during the denouement - Samay on a road trip in Ladakh at a Buddhist monastery, Antara at the Miss India pageant in Mumbai, Nirvaan also in Mumbai, standing by the sea just behind the INHS Asvini hospital where he had helped Antara walk again.
7 Assignments from Brittany Kriegstein
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 20:02
1) STORY STATEMENT
Tired of the intensity and phoniness of his Hollywood upbringing, twenty-year-old Taylor Gleason graduates college early and embarks on a whirlwind, two-year tour of sixty-five countries. As he interacts with foreign people, checks items off his bucket list, and documents everything with hundreds of incredible Instagram photos, he is forced to confront the sense of emptiness that made him leave home in the first place.
2) THE ANTAGONIST
The main antagonistic force is Taylor’s Hollywood past and the family and friends back home who disapprove of his adventures. Although he is thousands of miles away, the people and the life he left behind leach into everything he does— following him on social media and weaving their way into some of his more vulnerable moments. The more they push, though, the more Taylor pushes back: driving himself to extremes to prove to everyone that he can go anywhere and do anything he sets his mind to.
3) BREAKOUT TITLE
Around the World in 800 Instagrams— My Crazy Life on the Road
Freedom, Fame, and a Whole Lot of Likes
Sixty-five Countries and Counting: the Adventures of a Hollywood Dropout
4) GENRE AND COMPRABLES
Genre: Nonfiction travel narrative
[i]The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.[/i] Andrew McCarthy. Similar because of McCarthy's travels as a journey of self-discovery, different because of his more mature age and the fact that he is contemplating marriage to his fiancée.
[i]The World and I, Vol. 1: A Woman, Several Suitcases, 65 Countries.[/i] Cassia Meare. Similar because Meare starts her adventure when she is only twenty-three and also travels to sixty-five countries, chronicling her humorous encounters and cultural observations along the way. Different because Meare's travels span the course of three decades, and she originally begins traveling due to a job offer from a media agency.
Primary: Will travel help Taylor to find what he’s been looking for all along? Or will the forces of angry relatives, money shortages, and sustained injuries send him home prematurely?
Secondary: Taylor’s comical bunch of travel companions who complicate some of his exploits with issues of their own; occasional environmental and political obstacles; interactions with other people he meets along the way; his insatiable quest for the world’s most enviable Instagram photos.
6) INNER CONFLICT
A constant push and pull between the excitement of Taylor's spontaneous, no-rules life abroad, and the strained relationship he has with his family and friends back home who don't understand his ambitions. For example, Taylor plans his visit to North Korea amidst messages from family members and university professors who threaten serious consequences if he proceeds (he would be a huge liability). He must decide if experiencing life in this isolated country will outweigh the risks and repercussions warranted by his actions.
The setting of each chapter is different, depending on Taylor’s location. From the snowy, blustery hills of Trolltunga mountain in Norway, to the smoggy hustle and bustle of the biggest cities in China; from the beaches and Tuk-Tuks of Thailand, to a state-of-the-art Israeli hospital; Taylor’s story is truly global. Linking each destination are a host of planes, airports, hotels, Uber cars, ferries, Airbnbs and border checkpoints, while diverse climates and cultural norms make up the backdrop.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 18 Sep 2017, 20:25
The Act of Story Statement
Appropriate the ill-gotten gains of one institution to overcome the betrayal of another
The Antagonist Plots the Point
Marco Perez personifies institutional cynicism: willing to say anything, turn on anyone, leverage any advantage to advance his own wealth and power. The youngest rainmaking senior partner in the most prestigious accounting and consulting firm in the world, Marco got where he is by ignoring what people said but paying attention to how they said it. He is the natural product of an establishment willing to turn a blind eye to the odd cut corner or ethical lapse in the service of the incremental multimillion dollar contract. Eyeing the turmoil of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis as a once in a lifetime opportunity to enrich himself and cement his position whilst those around him wonder if ATMs will cease to dispense cash from one day to the next, Marco seizes upon Matthew Renfrow, a mild mannered striver conditioned to appease authority from birth, as the unwitting accomplice he needs to make his payday. Confident what he does is justified simply because he is capable of doing it, Marco is sure Matthew will follow him wherever he leads, if only because he is leading.
Conjuring Your Breakout Title
1. The Therapeutic Effect of Betrayed Confidence
2. The Unlikely Art of Appropriating Betrayal
3. The Reluctant Confidence Man
Genre and Comparables
Literary fiction with a commercial bent.
1. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a strong comparable. Both novels feature disillusioned middle managers, the proverbial cogs exploited by institutions they have trained all their lives to be exploited by, who undergo fundamental psychic transformations with surreal elements and go on to subvert their respective establishments in unexpectedly cunning fashion.
2. The Sympathizer by Viet Thahn Nguyen is an inspiration for the language and voice of my novel. The protagonist of each of the novels, destined to be outsiders regardless of how talented they are, are keenly observant of the double standards that surround them in service of the upholding establishment hierarchy. Neither protagonist is able to fully put their past behind them, finding the consequences of their upbringing persistently intruding on their path to fulfillment.
3. Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, though a commercial thriller, is a comparable in its pacing and structure. Both novels propel the reader forward using a combination of present tense and flashback, climaxing approximately 80% of the way through the novel, and conclude with pronounced and compelling denouements.
A striving middle manager, caught in the middle of an employer’s $350 million fraud, must choose between abetting it to advance his career or appropriating it to save his soul.
Matthew Renfrow, a mild mannered over-achiever by nature, is surrounded by people who need a mild mannered over-achiever in order to make their own lives work. His girlfriend, Karissa, is a Stepford-wife in training in need of a successful husband who will be working long hours; his mother needs him to be the validation that she made the right decision; his boss and co-workers need someone who can deliver on the promises they make to clients. Unbeknownst to any of them, Matthew is growing more keenly aware that he trades a piece of himself in service to them.
The protagonistis surrounded by the fruit of establishment expectations met – a prestigious degree, career advancement, a certain type of girlfriend – but is secretly tormented by visions of his own death, visions which remind him of the time the establishment betrayed him. He must overcome the visions by resolving the internal tension between the promise of meeting establishment expectations and the knowledge that those promises are often empty.
Set in Miami during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the novel places the protagonist in the center of the turmoil; the city’s high rise construction cranes have stopped amid panicked selling, his office has come to resemble a refugee camp with financial consultants sleeping on the floor, and abuelitas – little Cuban grandmothers – are on the take in a multimillion dollar Medicare fraud scheme.
Flashbacks take the protagonist back to the sanctuary of the Catholic Church he grew up in, rich with the tapestry of tradition and dogma. The sanctuary proves to be the ironic location for the betrayal of his best friend at the hands of the church, the same betrayal which will quietly torment the protagonist for years to come, only to come back full force in the middle of the Financial Crisis.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 05:31
First Assignment: The Act of Story Statement
Growing up in two drastically different worlds, Nick and Katherine must learn from their pasts to figure out what kind of future, if any, they can have together.
Second Assignment: The Antagonist Plots the Point
Nick Leonetti grew up knowing he couldn’t count on anyone but himself. Every failure could be directly traced back to the people he chose to trust, the people who were supposed to take care of him. When he first meets Katherine she is everything he despises in this world, privileged, loud, arrogant, and prideful, but there is something about her that draws him in, despite every instinct telling him to run away. In Katherine he thinks he may have truly found the one person who truly understands him. Which is why, when she chooses their children over their marriage, when she decides he is the one who can’t be trusted, it is the biggest betrayal of all.
Katherine Russo had her world shaken at eighteen when family secrets are exposed and her identity stolen. In Nick she finds someone more damaged than her, but with the potential to be great. She pushes him to be someone he isn’t for the life she has decided they need. When he doesn’t go along with her plans, she cuts him out of her and their children’s lives.
These are two damaged souls with severe trust issues and controlling personalities. From their individual perspectives the other is not just their greatest, love but also their greatest antagonist.
Third Assignment: Conjuring your Breakout Tittle
Just Because You’re Soulmates Doesn’t Mean You’re Meant to be Together
Eighty in Argentina
My novel is broken up into three parts. The first half of the novel is framed by two lovers discussing their lives and intersecting childhoods with a tone reminiscent of Rebecca Wells’ “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The second half of the novel shifts in tone somewhat as Nick and Katherine, now well informed of each other’s past, marry, have children, divorce, and heal (or at least attempt to heal) from the wounds they inflict on one another. From the second half of the novel on there is a tonal shift reminiscent of Nicolas Sparks’ “Two by Two” “The Notebook” mixed with Rupi Kaur’s “Milk and Honey.”
Fifth Assignment: Write Your Own Conflict Line
When two people come from two very different worlds, but find themselves drawn together despite their differences, how do they make their marriage work? And is it ok if sometimes it doesn’t work out, even if your soulmates?
Sixth Assignment: Sketch Out the Conditions for the Inner Conflict Your Protagonist Will Have
Internal Conflict – Katherine and Nick have always felt drawn to each other but their own insecurities have shaped their personalities, not necessarily for the better. Kathrine suffers from the all too common body insecurities that follow most plus sized women, even though she knows she is beautiful, cleaver, and from a good family. Despite that she struggles with confidence, especially when her entire identity id called into question with the reveal of her paternity. Nick is the opposite. He is confident in everything but his inner self. He knows he is smart, good looking, and sexy, but he struggles with the fact that he came from nothing. He has always known who he is and where he is from and has always tries to hide it. The two of them find comfort in each other but their relative insecurities continue to impact their marriage. They are also both falsely confident, with bursts of bravado impacting their reactions to various situations, situations that could be avoided if they put their pride aside and trusted one another fully, but how do you fully trust a con man? And how does a con man who has been betrayed by everyone important in his life, and betrayed them back in return, let down his barriers and trust someone else in return?
Scenario: Nick and Katherine love each other but they have a huge fight where every insecurity and raw emotion is left open to one another. They tear each other apart and break each other down to their upmost basic insecurities and have to find a way to recover from being hurt by the one person they though thought they could always count on.
Secondary conflict: Nick continues his activities as a conman and now it is affecting the lives of his wife and children. Katherine is at her wits end with having the FBI raid her house at 3:00 AM looking for Nick and his contraband. She is not sure her love for Nick can withstand the constant stress of being his spouse when he can’t seem to give up his criminal ways. At the end of the day the two have to ask themselves, do they love each other more than they love themselves?
Scenario: The FBI has told Katherine that Nick has cheated on her. She doesn’t believe it but she has spent the last to years never knowing what her husband is going to do next. Will she and her children always be affected by the sins of their father? Can she really continue to stand by Nick when he can’t seem to give up his selfish ways and just be a normal father and husband? On the flip side, Nick feels that his wife should always stand by him. That is the vow they made to each other. Does that mean nothing to her? How can she consider taking his children away from him when he is at his lowest point? At this point it seems divorce is the only option, but will either of them truly be happy without each other?
Assignment Seven: Setting
Nick and Katherine’s story begins in the 1960s as the two grow up among the changing world views of the time. Katherine follows her father all across the country experiencing many different cultures and adventures with her family while Nick grows up in the ghettos of Seattle before being kidnapped and sent to Italy by his father. The two meet at various point and places throughout their exiting lives and in Florida, in the early 1980’s they actually fall in love. Their marriage and the true crux of their relationship takes place in Seattle, a city that has been constantly changing, growing, and evolving for the last 50 years. Their marriage, and timeline as a whole, reflect that change as they grow older and react to the world around them.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 06:09
1. Act of Story Statement
With her boss arrested for murder, Julia is out of a job. She must find out who killed Jerry Howell and free her boss from the gallows before she can move on with her young life.
2. Antagonist: Jerry Howell
Jerry Howell destroys the lives of two of the main characters in the story, his ex-wife Abigail McSweeny who is accused of his murder and his former lover, Fay Templeton who is his killer. He is a handsome man in his early fifties, tall, thick haired but running to seed, his face fleshy and showing signs of dissipation. Women still find him attractive and he can be very charming if he wants something like money or sexual favors. Under it all he is a chaotic and destructive personality.
He stokes a burning hatred of his ex-wife for her betrayal of him and because he believes she is responsible for the failure of his career. He becomes involved with Abigail’s sister-in-law, Fay Templeton, with whom he had an affair when they were young students in college. She has never forgotten him and believes him when he says he that he has always loved her. Trustfully, she confides her secret to him, but he plans to use to that secret to destroy the career of his ex-wife. By exposing her secret, he will betray Fay once again
All is Not As it Seems
The Skull Beneath the Skin
Everyone Wears a Mask
4. Genre: Mystery
Comparable: Susan Whittig Albert and Margaret Manon
Like the Susan Whittig Albert's China Bayless, this novel’s amateur detective is drawn into dramatic events that require her to track down a murderer and expose the secrets that led to this most unnatural of human acts. Fans of the traditional mystery with a touch of romance will like this novel. Margaret Manon’s series is comparable with a literate heroine, Manhattan as its setting, and the art world as a side focus.
5. Primary Conflict:
Julia’s boss has been accused of murder. In order to save her boss, Julia must confront her fears, take up the sword as her white knight and uncover the secrets of all those involved to discover the one secret worth killing for.
6. Other Matters of Conflict:
Inner Conflict: Julia’s youth and lack of sophistication prevent her from truly understanding the events and people around her. She feels herself painfully inadequate in dealing with the situation she finds herself in. Being involved in the most egregious of human actions – the killing of one human being by another –challenges her to put aside her child-like naivety and acknowledge the existence of evil.
Secondary Conflict: Julia is in love for the first time with a man who doesn’t love her in return. He is a flirt and a philanderer. Having been burnt once, he is reluctant to become involved again. How can Julia overcome his reluctance and convince him to take a second chance with her? Or should she?
7. The setting is Manhattan and Manhattan's extension, the Hamptons. The city setting provides a wealth of possibilities for story telling - anything is possible in Manhattan. It includes a wide range of characters from people at the top of their profession, street characters, theatrical and artistic types, villains, and desperadoes. The apartments of the major characters in this story describe the social strata of the city and define the placement of the characters within it. In this case setting, is character.
Abigail McSweeny lives with her husband is an apartment on Central Park West overlooking the park as a member of the one percent.
Description: The color scheme of the room was silver and gold. Thick silver and gold stripped drapes hung at the windows and broke neatly at the floor. A silver and cream patterned carpet united the two seating areas. The couches at either end were cream velvet with pillows in gold, silvery gray and a soft persimmon color and here and there gilded French armchairs sat discretely displaying their pedigree. The whole setting spoke of wealth and good taste and so far removed from my humble experience that I was reminded of that quip about San Simion “This is what God could do if only he had money.” This is what I would do if only I had money. I’d live in an elegant and lovely room filled with light and space overlooking the tree tops, with all this shimmering wealth cushioning me from discomfort and want.
Julia is a young millennial just beginning her life and lives in a studio apartment in a not so nice section of town.
Description: The one redeeming feature of the studio is a large window overlooking a tree in front of the building. In summer, I look down into its leafy branches where sometimes I see a ragged band of sparrows sitting among the dusty leaves. A small table with two chairs sits beyond the kitchen and bath as you enter into the larger part of the room. Here I eat my meager meals when I eat at home, which isn’t very often. Facing the large window is a small couch the color of toffee and a low coffee table and across from the couch is a wicker chair I got off the street. My bed is in the far end of the room. It has a tall headboard and footboard that gives me the illusion of privacy from the main room, and when I am tucked up in my bed, with my pillows and the light on against the wall, I can pretend that I am in my own separate space.
Ellery Sedgewick is a writer and lives in Greenwich Village as a member of the creative class.
Description: With its high ceilings and deeply carved moldings the room had a grandeur and a dignity that made me feel I was in another country, in another time. Tall windows looked out on the garden of a monastery that could be seen at the back. There were benches under a cloisters and silvery herbs growing along the pebbled paths. The distant sound of praying blew through the open windows. I couldn’t believe I was in New York.
Pale celadon walls seemed to bring the garden into the room and the faded Persian rugs with their columns of trees and vines and strange animal shapes that covered the floorboards added to the otherworldly feel. Against the wall a blue velvet daybed thick with cushions faced the fireplace and a pair of winged armchairs in worn crewel, their curving shapes like two flamboyant sculptures sat on either side. Above the mantle reflecting the back of the cat was an old foxed mirror in a gold frame.
Resting among the cushions on the daybed was a wooden writing tray covered with papers and on the floor, more papers, handwritten, seemingly tossed aside when they were completed to make room for the next. Like Proust, it seemed Ellery wrote in bed and I had interrupted him at work.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 06:52
Do whatever it takes to protect Charlie from the townspeople.
The Antagonist and/or Antagonistic Force
The townspeople are ironically the antagonist of The Vampire of Maple Town. These townspeople are introduced as almost having a hive mentality. They embody everything that is so endearing and wrong about a small fairy tale village. They are almost always introduced as a conglomerate of ancillary characters. They gossip together, and when one person fears something, it turns into a panic amongst them all. So naturally, the townspeople are the perfect antagonist in a tale about how fear of an unknown “other” can turn even the kindest people into monsters far scarier than vampires and witches. These people grew up on stories about how witches would steal their children and cook their bones to make their bread and how vampires would seduce young women and steal their blood. For this reason, it makes sense why the townspeople are so terrified of these creatures. However, what they fail to realize is that all these stories are just tall tales. Vampires and witches, as The Vampire of Maple Town describes, are just different types of people with different diets and talents.
Possible Breakout Title
1. The Vampire of Maple Town
2. Ever After
Two Smart Comparables
I would compare The Vampire of Maple Town to The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. The Night Circus feels like a fairy tale, but still stands as it’s own beast. In that way, I believe The Vampire of Maple Town is similar. Both novels are not remakes or reskins of any past fairy tales, but something fresh that retains the same nostalgia, magic, and depth that all fairy tales have at their core.
The second comparable to The Vampire of Maple Town is The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket a.k.a Daniel Handler. Like Snicket's novels, The Vampire of Maple Town is told by an omniscient narrator who gives a historical account of the events that transpire. Both novels don’t necessarily end happy, but they don’t badly either. Both Handler and I write to reveal that a true happy ending is earned not given.
A young vampire ignores his father’s warning about the dangers of humans and unknowingly leads the novel from a simple love story to a tragedy.
A young vampire falls in love for the wrong girl, while the true female lead is left wondering who in the world is trying to woo her best friend.
A young vampire struggles to reconcile with the monster he’s become and the young man he could have been.
Sketch of the Setting
Maple Town was created with the intention of hiding past secrets, while doing what every small town hopes to do –survive. At the heart of the town is a wonderful marketplace, where at the crack of dawn, merchants and vendors would set up their stands. The square would quickly fill with the smells of fresh fruit, morning dew, and buttery rolls. Then as a quarter to nine rolled in, everyone would look up to the north side of town at the chard ruins of Number Thirteen Chiaroscuro Lane. They say a vampire once lived there. Though all that remains is his tall black gate and a burnt up hilltop. They say that his mansion was a leaning vulture of a structure that looked as if a tornado picked up a bunch of rooms and houses and mashed them together. It was far different than the many wooden cottages that occupied Maple Town.
To the left of town are rows of shops and a train station. But once you past the train station, you reach an orchard with maple trees and fruit trees that expand far beyond the town limits. A wooden gate with faded letters can be seen when you first round up the path leading to the property. The sign is old, but you can still make out the carved wood letterings of “Welcome to the Maple Orchard.” The Maple family own the orchard. The dirt path continues and ends at the Maple Estate where generations of Maples have lived in order to run the orchard.
To the far right of Maple Town is this colossus of a structure. Just past some small homes with equally small farms is the Autaine Mansion. It’s white and larger than anything else in Maple Town. It's so large it could've been a whole new district itself. It's almost gaudy to look at. Yet, everyone will tell you the Autumn Ball that Lord Autaine hosts evert year is a must for anyone visiting. However, during the times outside of festivities, the inside of the Autaine Mansion reveal that the mansion started out as a small farm house, but was obviously remodeled and expanded exponentially over time. The inside now includes a ballroom, three floors layered on top of the ballroom, and rooms upon rooms that still have peeling wallpaper and paint, which cover up layers of colors and themes that Lord Autaine entertained in the past.
The south end of town is more for the common folk. Laborers usually frequent this area as the heavy scent of warm beer emulated from the brewery. The smell is so strong that you can close your eyes and imagine the golden liquid filling your mouth. In Autumn, scarlet leaves drift lightly from the Maple Orchard, descending upon the cobblestone on a gentle breeze, creating an inviting crimson carpet for the constant flow of horses and carriages to meander across. Horses' whinnies mingled in the air with the sounds of children laughing mischievously as they leave the school house. There’s also a blacksmith hut that sits along a small river by the entrance of town. You have to cross a bridge to get to the blacksmith’s hut. The blacksmith likes to left alone, but the bridge itself is a popular spot where you can find kids and adults alike talking by the water, usually shooting rocks into this hole by the quarry.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 09:58
1. Story Statement: Anna-Soraya must transcend hate to conquer love in this modern day love story shadowed by the divisive discourse of contemporary politics.
2. Antagonistic force: Anna-Soraya rejects the man in the gym at first encounter but he goes on to aggressively catch her attention. They soon fall into a trance of mutual attraction but an interplay of ego and mistiming keeps them apart and they struggle to have so much as a full conversation. He’s the strong, successful and commanding man who wants her to submit to his charms while she wants him to come full circle and show his vulnerability. But he doesn’t forget the first rejection and keeps her wanting with cold attention which feeds into her insecurity. Still healing from being cast as an arriviste immigrant by her step-sibling, she interprets his aloofness as rejection of her pluralist identity.
3. Breakout Title:
An Outsider to Love
4. Comparable titles: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. The stories are similar in that in the telling of the ego and romance of attraction between a strong female protagonist and a handsome and successful man, the narrative offers a glimpse of society. The point of departure is however the more revealing aspect. Pride and Prejudice is set in the close-knit world of parochial England, when anybody’s business was everybody’s business. Helen Fielding’s heady 1990s girl narrative builds on the comedic aspect of that social characterisation. In contrast, Anna-Soraya’s story has the dark undertone of contemporary discourse that heightens the loneliness of modern life and shards its cosmopolitan crust with a fear of the outsider.
5. Primary Conflict: Born at the confluence of religion, a woman’s quest for love and belonging leaves her more aware of her identity as an outsider.
6. Inner Conflict: She struggles with her inability to communicate and interact with her love interest; it’s more to do with her own insecurity about acceptance of who she is as it’s about his instinct to be psychologically controlling.
Secondary Conflict: The jealous competitiveness of the two Marks. The first is a colleague who undermines her at work and springs her a trap that ultimately makes her leave. The second Mark is a step sibling who brutally assaults her in a jealous rage.
7. Scene Set: Anna-Soraya’s singular existence in London is anchored in the cold world of finance. The winter grey of work life is juxtaposed with the mollycoddling warmth of a grandparent’s affection and the sweet anticipation of love. Her narrative is interspersed with the story of her part English, part German Jewish mother and Iranian father which plays out in Switzerland in the 1970s and unfolds in parallel to shed light on her present life. In the final act, the past and the present entwine to take her to New York in quest of a father she has never known.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 19 Sep 2017, 16:55
1. STORY STATEMENT:
A teenage monster hunter must escape a reform school secretly run by the very creatures that have been stalking him
2. THE ANTAGONIST:
Two levels of antagonists:
A. The Monsters
The Murgrathi -- an ancient creature older than humans, a fungus-like monster that lives deep in the earth that presents on the surface in four forms: a huge Spider, a large Lizard, a Wolf, and a Human. All four forms can talk, though the smartest is the Wolf. The Murgrathi echoes back to the beasts in fairy tales and the creatures in nightmares, not because it's made up, but because it is all too real.
Humans are the food source for the Murgrathi, and at one time all humans were edible. Over time mutations occurred, and certain humans were inedible. Soon these inedible humans grew more numerous, until today, when edible humans number just 0.1% of humanity. For most of humanity, the Murgrathi is no longer a threat. For these humans, the Murgrathi is nothing more than legend.
The Murgrathi, though fierce, is dying out. It needs more food.
B. The Humans
The Murgrathi has enlisted humans to cultivate greater food stores -- sociopathic humans, criminals of the worst sort who care only for money and power, to establish breeding farms for edible teens. Harrington Hall, the jail-like reform school where Charlie is imprisoned, is run by the seven shepherds, sociopaths led by Ms. Domingo. She is small in stature, impeccably dressed, but cold and cutting. She uses her words to manipulate and her steel baton to inflict pain. She sees the children at Harrington Hall as not human at all. She takes pleasure in her role. She loves to dominate and control. Despite her small size and delicate presentation, she is as much a monster as the Murgrathi. All seven of the Shepherds at Harrington Hall are rotten in their own way, but Ms. Domingo is the worst.
3. BREAKOUT TITLE:
I Am Charlie Slasher
Charlie Slasher: Monster Hunter
4. GENRE AND COMPARABLES
My book is a Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy
--YA urban fantasy with gothic undertones, male protagonists, new author, good sales, became a TV series
Infinity: The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon
--YA urban fantasy by a recognizable genre author, male protagonist
The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher
--Adult urban fantasy by a well known author featuring a diverse world populated by a variety of creatures, and a rebellious hero similar to Charlie Slasher
5. CONFLICT LINE
A 15-year-old runaway monster hunter is forced to confront his worst nightmare when he's sent to a twisted reform school where he quickly learns his only choices are escape or death
6. INNER CONFLICT
Charlie Slasher has confronted inner conflict most of his life, starting with an abusive father, then the death of his mother, followed by the shape-shifting monsters that continually tried to eat him. He told himself that he was tough, that he could fight any threat, but it all became too much for him, and at 13, he ran away. Though small, he learned to survive on the streets, any way possible, and he also learned how to kill those monsters -- the Spiders, the Lizards, the Wolves, and the Humanoids -- that always come for him.
But he wants so bad to have a normal life -- to be one of those perfect dudes he sees all around him. So he sneaks into a high school dance one night and pretends all is fine in his world. It isn't. Just as he's about to make out with a hot dude he's attacked by a Lizard, and then busted with a stolen phone, and sent to Harrington Hall, a reform school for troubled teens, run by the Seven Shepherds.
Ms. Domingo is the lead Shepherd, and Charlie knows she's lying to him, that his father did not send him there. But he decides to play along and investigate. His inner conflicts manifest in Harrington Hall in two ways. First, while he's technically imprisoned by a bunch of sadistic adults, he's safe from the monsters outside. Plus he has a warm bed and hot shower and plenty of food, and he's around other kids his own age. For the first time in a long time, he's not burdened by his loneliness. His inner conflicts manifest on another level as he falls for the Sophie, a rebellious girl intent on escape, and golden boy Troy, who is convinced Harrington Hall is a genuine reform school, and that if they follow the rules they'll be successful. Charlie's well-deserved fear of the outside world, and his intense feelings for both Sophie and Troy, cloud his judgment.
When the story begins, Charlie is scared and lonely, though he would never, ever admit that to anyone. By the end, he discovers others line him, others who are targeted by these hungry monsters, and he also finds his place with them.
Charlie is subconsciously drawn to confined spaces, safe areas free of the monsters that stalk him. These settings include the abandoned motor bay where he's staying with a PTSD-afflicted war vet, the gym at Pine Ridge High where he crashes the dance to just feel normal again for one night, and of course Harrington Hall, the three story English style manor house where he's imprisoned for most of the novel. Harrington Hall is imposing with its high ceilings, heavy wood floors, barred windows and steel doors that require a thumbprint for entry and exit. The building seems snatched from another place and time, almost alien. It keeps Charlie constantly off-kilter, feeling on one hand safe from the monsters he knows are lurking outside the bars, but in danger from the wholly human monsters who monitor his every movement. The true horror of Harrington Hall lies in the basement, which house the cells where the newly kidnapped are subjected to mind control torture, and the Crucible room, with its concrete floors and metal shackles.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 06:43
Cool assignment! I have two books...
Book 1) In Your Shadow
Book 2) Girl Without A Face
Inspired by the new science of epigenetics, which suggests traumatic experiences may be imprinted on our genes and affect our children (and their children too), In Your Shadow envisions how the Rwandan Genocide, the Native American Trail of Tears, and the Holocaust still haunt three courageous individuals determined to live out their own lives, even when those lives have been defined by the mistakes of their ancestors.
GWAF: When she loses her model looks to a drunk driving accident that leaves her horribly disfigured, a high school senior must figure out how to live as a monster - or at least, what looks like one.
The overarching force throughout the book is the past, past trauma, and its heritage - whether it appears as political violence, schoolyard bullying, self-doubt and self-sabotage, or corruption. In Margaret's story, it's the other teachers at her Christian school who push her on a hunt for the delinquent who burned down the church. For Bernard, it's the dark forces that led his girlfriend to kill herself - and later, the problems of injustice in the world. Valentin, a Rwandan refugee, is still haunted by the attacks that led his family to flee their home, but when he returns to Africa he's faced with the threat of Boko Haram, Nigerian Islamic terrorists who target even children, including his own.
It seems to the main character to be everyone, after she loses her face. The kids at school when she returns. The friends who abandon her. Even her mother, in the way she pities her. And her new face itself - in the way it makes others look at her like someone they want to run from.
IYS: The Silent History, Cloud Atlas, Illusion of Separateness; films: Between Strangers, Magnolia (similar multi-story/POV structure)
GWAF: Made You Up (tone/style), Burn Girl (similar premise) [both YA]; films: Mean Girls, Neon Demon, Always Shine, Black Swan
IYS: Three characters, upon discovering a buried family secret, work to solve the mysteries of their own lives, while fighting to save future generations from the mistakes of the past.
GWAF: A girl who is disfigured in a car accident struggles to regain her sense of self and find a future for the new woman she's become.
IYS: Valentin struggles with belonging, as he leaves his new city of Paris to return to Africa, experiencing reverse culture shock, and hears news that makes him feel he is less a part of his family than he thought.
Margaret struggles with whether or not to have the child she's become pregnant with as a result of her affair with a priest. At the same time, she questions her faith and the control she has over her life, in light of the scientific revelation that we are all connected by our DNA and the experiences imprinted on it.
Bernard blames himself for his girlfriend's death and must learn to slowly refocus on himself, to define himself as good instead of evil.
GWAF: The main character goes through something many young girls do at 17 - coming to terms with approaching adulthood and the questions of identity that come into play. What will I do? Where will I go? Who will I be?
IYS: Margaret's sensitive but brilliant student Elton is bullied by his classmates for being gay and beaten by his father, showing him as part of the chain that connects politically charged violence and trauma. Some of this is lighter, more comedic at first until it turns serious.
Valentin tries to assert himself over his wife, and the two often argue, echoing the conflicted environment they once survived. His relationship with his son is strained even before he comes to learn the boy does not really belong to him but to a stranger who raped his wife during the genocide.
Early on, Bernard bows down to his obnoxious boss, but in the end he exposes him as a fraud to the organization's donors, an act that ties into his efforts to save future generations from more harm. Some of the workplace tensions serve as comedic relief as well.
GWAF: Through flashbacks, the petty squabbles of the girl's past life are shown, with friends, victims of her bullying, her less-than-loyal boyfriend, and even teachers.
Valentin: Primarily set in rural Nigeria, in the home they share with a voodoo healer. Also earlier scenes in Paris, in their home, moving down streets near the Seine, and the hospital where their son stays.
Margaret: Primarily in rural Ohio, in the school room where she teaches, the remains of the burnt church / rebuilt church where she meets the priest with whom she has her affair. Also scenes in Cleveland - at Case Western University and her mother's home - and a Native American reservation where her estranged father lives.
Bernard: San Francisco, including bus rides around the city, the Golden Gate bridge, the Presidio (former military base, now houses office where he works), Ocean Beach, walks around the Sunset, and one later scene in D.C. at an old theater where they hold the conference where he speaks.
GWAF: The high school she used to attend, her posh home where she is home schooled by a cute nerdy tutor, the hospital where she recovers, the car where it happened, and the California beaches and forests where she can go for solace.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 07:28
Insecure and modest Catherine, struggling to refresh her marriage (and widow’s pension), learns that her elderly billionaire is in trouble with a porn ring and to save what’s left, she’ll have to out-think the mob.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT:
Catherine’s miserly husband, forced to retire at eighty from the infamous GMO company he founded, struggles with boredom…until the billionaire discovers the economies of sexting and convenience of having Lyndsi, his bulimic personal assistant, a pregnant former stripper, move into the new home office—humiliating Catherine and infuriating Lyndsi’s sadistic husband Vinny, a hit man with the mob who vows revenge. Together with Lyndsi, the two plot to frame the old guy in a snuff movie bound for South America and blackmail him for a wad.
WHEN BLACKBERRIES FLY
DIRTY OLD MEN NEVER DIE: THEY JUST WHIZ AWAY
Carl Hiaasen: “BAD MONKEY”
Like Hiaasen’s “caricatures” of seriously flawed people in “Bad Monkey,” mine in THUMBS make sloppy work of just being themselves. Zany. Naughty. A little, but not overly gross; a charming story of lost and found love with some Caribbean flair and a gentle waft of political incorrectness. Suspenseful, serious, fun and easy to read. Relatable. Non-apologetic view of human weakness.
Dean Koontz: WATCHERS Mr. Koontz and I both like dogs. Otis, the wiley Basset Hound in THUMBS, who knows more than we think, moves the story forward as does Einstein in WATCHERS, and both play heroic roles. Like WATCHERS, some really sick people add suspense and laughter in their attempts to harm the innocent.
THE PRIMARY CONFLICT:
Insecure and modest Catherine wants to refresh her marriage with her wealthy eighty-year old husband (and beef up her widow’s pension), until she discovers that the philanderer’s miserly penny pinching regarding a certain murdered African-American girl, has thrown them both into do-do with the mob—and that to save her life (and what’s left), she must muster the courage to meet the killer’s deadline.
MORE LEVELS OF CONFLICT:
The new personal assistant has her heart set on reaming out the geezer—bad cough and all— and vows to become the next Mrs. Henniger after first disposing of his wife.
German housekeeper and sadomasochist, Gerte, wants to give Herr Henniger what he really needs…but first, she must drive this Frau Henniger mad.
Catherine suspects that someone is trying to kill her, but then, she may just be going crazy.
Gerte’s incriminating accusations lead to her arrest on suspicion of her husband’s gruesome murder. Their garbage guys, Rastafarian volcano refugees, have evidence that will exonerate her, but will the St. Louis police listen?
CONDITIONS FOR INNER CONFLICT:
Modest Catherine, middle-aged, but still holding up, is proud of her narcissistic husband’s accomplishments, but at the same time is humiliated by his embarrassing social fanny-pinching. She struggles to prop up the aging industrialist’s image.
She wants to believe that her neglectful husband really does loves her, but it’s hard.
Desperate for the marriage to work, she can’t seem to distract him from his Blackberry, and feels lonely, boring—and needy.
Maybe she worries too much about money—but after 12 years of marriage; the miser hasn’t even put her in his trust. Are her needs going unnoticed, or is he just too busy?
And when feeble Jack—against Catherine’s wishes—enthrones his secret mistress in the basement office, and she quickly takes control of the checkbook, Catherine feels “less than" and incompetent.
Strange mishaps occur and Catherine loses faith in herself.
Catherine catches Jack with Lyndsi in the jacuzzi and boldy fires her, and afterwards, he does seem to be on his good behavior although increasingly absorbed by his Blackberry. When the Basset Hound dog sinks a yellow tooth into indisputable evidence of Jack’s renewed cheating, Catherine takes matters into her own hands and “borrows” that smartphone, only to discover an appalling load of pornographic activity, which she duly notes for her attorney.
The attorney suggests tricking Jack into signing a big life insurance policy, for which she feels guilty.
In Chicago for her goddaughter’s wedding, the mother of the bride reveals an outrageous secret about Jack and her daughter. Catherine, enraged, plans to confront Jack after first consulting with the attorney, Ben, a handsome widower who feels protective toward her. Ben, on a fishing trip, is unreachable.
Gerte reports that Jack’s cat was found decapitated. Catherine assumes that she is just being dramatic, until Lyndsi’s husband, who poses as her airport driver, threatens to kill her over Jack’s blackmail debt. There is a mob video, he says, co-starring a naken eighty-year old, in which a black, underage runaway is murdered. The bad guys want their money. Catherine is terrified and enlightened.
Shaken, Catherine plans to fight back with facts, and learns, that her marriage is not worth saving at any price. She deserves much more and she sets out to buy back the video and use it herself to negotiate with Jack.
The Rastas discover Jack’s body and the police have the murder weapon. They search the home and locate certain parts of Jack’s body in the freezer next to the Italian sausages. Gerte, enraged, shows the deputies the empty space where Catherine’s sharp Cutco Chef knife used to be—the one with her fingerprints all over it.
The Rastas are held for suspicion of murder, and tell Ben, who is at the police station consoling Catherine, of evidence that sheds new light.
As a condition of her release from jail, frightened Catherine bravely agrees to act as bait for the killer, whom the police suspect will be back soon for the parts. Nobody expects to see action so soon, including the overweight, soon to retire deputy who sneaks out for fast food before returning to his nightwatch, only to find a cast of dangerous, zany, characters converging on the house, where a Wait Until Dark scene unfolds. Catherine, tired of forever being bullied, erupts in a rage and fights for even more than her life.
The primary scenes take place on the Henniger’s expansive rural estate on the outskirts of St. Louis, a hot spot for racial and police disharmony. The three-storied stately home, remotely situated in the middle of the expansive property, can be approached by one of two winding private roads; one through a deep, hilly woods. Catherine's lonely bedroom can be reached by dumb-waiter, and both front and back staircases. There is a enormous wood deck on the backside of the house, which covers the driveway which leads to the pool, pump house and lower entry, where most people come and go. We also see the various sites on the property, the swamp and back woods where action occurs. In addition, there is the modest urban home of her widowed lawyer, the apartment of the two musical Caribbean refugees, the police station where Catherine is held and a Dunkin' Donuts lot, a conference center, the cheap hotel where Lyndsi and Vinny plot to extort money from the old man, and a strip club, hospital room and talent contest.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 07:45
Seven Assignments for the NYC Pitch Conference
1. FIRST ASSIGNMENT: develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist (hero/ine)? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish?
Navigate a new world while preserving an old one.
2. 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.
The antagonist is Alessandro Belli, the driven, focused and hardworking husband of Rose who is the story’s protagonist. Sandro comes to America dreaming of the prosperity and happiness he longs to attain. His immigration is sponsored by his mother, Raffaella, who left Italy fourteen years before when Sandro was not even ten years old. Raffaella’s absence fills Sandro with loneliness and brooding that pervades his personality into adulthood. During this time when Sandro is working in restaurants, his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in fifteen years, summons him to the Waldorf. She offers him the seed money to open his own restaurant in Manhattan. It is at this time that Sandro meets Rose Micheletti, a vibrant young woman from an Italian immigrant family. Rose has just graduated with an associate’s degree, celebrating her graduation with her parents and brother at the restaurant Sandro has just opened, Stella Maris. Thus begins a whirlwind courtship and marriage, followed soon by the birth of a daughter. Sandro’s grueling hours in the restaurant business and his moody, taciturn temperament do not bode well in marriage. Thus, the confines of marriage and traditional gender roles are the antagonistic force in the story.
3. THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed)
A Distant Music
4. FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Comparables: Who compares to you and why?
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
I would choose this novel among others by Alice McDermott to compare to Astoria because they are character driven, literary works that concern themselves with family and community relationships. Whereas McDermott’s stories are mainly about Irish Americans and set in 20th century New York, Astoria’s characters are Italian Americans during the same time period. The themes of family, faith and intergenerational connections are prevalent in Astoria, too.
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
I would choose Elizabeth’s Strout’s latest novel among her other work as another comp title because of the theme and character-driven prose.
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
I would choose this comp title because of this story’s themes of family, loss, and identity. Thandi, the first generation American daughter who loses her South African mother, reminds me of Gabriela Sosic in Astoria, the adult daughter who is the narrator, and her relationship with her mother, Silvia, whom she loses to Alzheimer’s Disease.
FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: PITCH
In 1950s Astoria, New York, soon after making the transatlantic voyage as third class passengers aboard ocean liners where they could pay a dollar to dance on the polished wood dance floors in first class, Sandro Belli and Danny Sosic, two young men from northern Italy, befriend each other in a neighborhood bar. Sandro is a waiter, Danny a laborer. Soon Sandro falls head over heels in love with the beguiling Rose, a recent graduate of City University of New York, while handsome and charming Danny breaks up with his sexy girlfriend in favor of the homely yet quick witted Silvia whom he first meets at a New York City dance hall.
It seems an idyllic period for newcomers to America in the postwar era. Family life is sweet, yet not without its challenges. As Sandro begins to build a restaurant empire in New York City, Rose is lonely. She struggles to find personal fulfillment, filling her time with artistic pursuits and mothering her only daughter. In the midst of a post- partum depression, Rose finds an unlikely friend and ally in Silvia, whose steadfast friendship sustains Rose through myriad sorrows.
As life in America progresses, it is the past whose influence leaves a lasting imprint not only on the two couples, but also on their children, coming of age as first generation Americans, seesawing between two languages, two cultures. Their American lives are woven into the fabric of the old world they left behind through recollections shared mostly by Silvia whose own life begins when she is born in a snowstorm on the night the bridge to her small village is bombed, the start of a life characterized by perseverance and courage. Danny grows up on the changing geopolitical border between two countries, his spirit imbued with the accordion music he plays. And for Sandro, a moody and taciturn nature hides the despair of a boy still grappling with his mother’s abandonment, affecting both Sandro and Rose, whose marital trajectory and search for fulfillment unfold in contrast to their friends’ lives.
As the children grow up and the families endure illness and loss among blessing, Rose finds herself in circumstances which ultimately require her to make life altering choices.
At its heart, Astoria is a retrospective on the enduring influences of family, friendship and faith, as well as a portrait of how a new cultural identity is forged from the confluence of old traditions and new ones.
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.
Stymied by her choice to embrace a traditional life, a woman must strike a balance between old ways and new mores as she raises a family and tries to save her marriage.
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.
Rose is always up for a challenge. Whether it is insisting upon working for the telephone company until her pregnancy is exposed, exploring Manhattan with her daughter when she should be home cooking dinner or taking up hobbies like yoga and ceramics, Rose does not readily conform to the expected norms of a married woman who came to America as a young girl of five. Add to this a growing alienation from the husband she adores whose success at work and reticent nature she cannot understand. Everything she does seems to push Sandro further away. What will be her breaking point?
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?
Rose and Sandro’s best friends, Danny and Silvia, share a beautiful, intuitive, easy love. Silvia is everyone’s mother, the giver of advice, the patient sympathizer. Even if hers has been a difficult path, ending up in America with only one of her four brothers, losing a child and eventually her husband and finally her memory, she has walked it with a steadfast faith and singular focus. In this way, Silvia is the one who helps her best friend Rose in her every hour of need throughout the story, up to the last.
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 novel begins in Astoria, New York, in the house where our protagonist, Rose Belli, lives most of her adult life. The houses of the two families (the Bellis and the Sosics) around whom the story revolves are full of sounds and scents, things and people, reminiscent of the time (mid 20th century) and place (boroughs of New York, the first “suburbs” for immigrants) in which the first part of the story takes place. Sandro and Danny first meet in a neighborhood bar in Queens, newly arrived young men from Italy. They frequent the New York City dance halls that were popular gathering spots for immigrants in the 50s and 60s in Manhattan. Sandro Belli, the story’s antagonist, begins his restaurant career as a busboy, working his way up to waiter and maitre d’. This part of the setting sheds light on the graciousness that characterized New York City restaurants of that era. With Sandro The reader also goes aboard the elegant ocean liners that sailed between the US and Europe, where third class passengers immigrating to the US would sometimes mingle with first class passengers on holiday traveling between the two continents.
In the second part of the story the families travel back to northern Italy where their children visit the homes and villages of their roots. These places are significant to the setting because they reveal what life was like during and after the World War II period when many people left the only homes they had ever known in pursuit of better lives. In Italy, the story of Sandro Belli’s mother, Raffaella, comes to light. Raffaella marries a man she does not really love and goes to America to work after the war, leaving behind her husband and two young sons. Raffaella, enamored of the liberation she feels as a working woman in New York City, never returns to her family. Unbeknownst to them, she falls in love with an American man and begins a new life with him in California where he owns a vineyard.
In the third part, all of these settings recede as family members pass on and move away, and the next generation comes to the forefront. Thus, the setting of this novel, spanning the twentieth century to the present on two continents and in two homelands, is an expansive story element which figures prominently throughout the story.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 20 Sep 2017, 23:35
1.In my quest for experience, I travel through the best and the worst of the 1960’s, a journey that includes sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, jail, fire and yes, housework, and along the way I learn to appreciate some old fashioned values like family, friends and the meaning of unconditional love.
2.Antagonist Val was born in a Ukrainian Displaced Persons camp in Post War Europe, landing in New York City as a two-year-old man who loved the mean streets. When his father finally finished his New Jersey house, built on weekends brick by brick, it was too late to turn Val into a suburban boy. Instead of going to Rutgers, his immigrant parents’ dream, he stuck out his thumb for San Francisco’s Summer of Love, partnering with Sean to sell good dope. In 1969, they expanded to the Midwest to cash in on the college market, and when I first saw him, he was emerging from a Minneapolis bathroom after shooting speed. Through some weird alchemy of Led Zeppelin, pot and pheromones, by the next morning I was his “old lady” and he was my ticket to ride to a world of exotic experiences. Val’s realm, untouched by feminism, was a patriarchal place where women were decorative helpmates, not unlike the 50’s suburban world I came from, and I had to struggle mightily to figure out who I was, where I was going with far-out drugs, family ties, Val-world and my own insecurities fighting it out inside my head.
3. "My Year with a San Francisco Drug Dealer" "Through the Looking Glass: My Year with a San Francisco Drug Dealer"
4. Piper Kerman’s “Orange is the New Black” is an obvious choice, since several chapters of my story also involve a time in a women’s jail. In my experience, I was the only “white girl” at the time and I found myself meeting woman I never would have gotten to know anywhere else. It was eye-opening, wrenching, and I ended up valuing that time as a harsh glimpse into lives very much outside my suburban world, a feeling which I also saw in Piper's memoir.
Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” – This book took place on a different coast but during the same era as my story, and I saw in it a similar sense of the world shifting underneath our feet as we struggled to find an individual identity and make connections to others. Her style of writing gives you a strong descriptive sense of that world with its bookstores, hotels, streets and art studios, which is something I try to do in my story, that is, make it come alive visually.
Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” – This memoir was all about her struggle to overcome her own inner obstacles through her difficult journey, taken on impulsively and with no experience. I related to that wish to just jump into life and take it as it comes, trying to learn and grow through decisions others would think unwise - the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" way of thinking.
There is also a new book out that I saw on Publisher's Marketplace, "Apprenticed to Venus: My Secret Life with Anais Nin" by Trintine Rainer, which looks interesting to me. It takes place a little earlier in time than my story, the early sixties, but I am curious about her "behind the scenes" experiences.
5. In the waning days of the Sixties, a young woman’s quest for experience worthy of the Jimi Hendrix song lands her in a Minneapolis jail, busted for a trunk of Acalpulco Gold marijuana, while her boyfriend, drug-dealer Val, hotfoots it back to the west coast. Out on bail, she leaves her Minnesota family in the dust to join Val in San Francisco, as he's been begging her to do, for a four-month immersion in post Summer-of-Love San Francisco, experiencing Altamont, Easy Rider, The Grateful Dead, Gracie Slick, a big fire in their Mission District flat, Val's curiously violent reaction to her lipsick and her growing concern about becoming her mother, albeit with bell bottoms and peyote rather than capris and diet pills. And then there was the acid, mescaline, heroin, cocaine, hashish and the old standby, pot. While living as Val’s “old lady,” she has some monumental firsts: her first attempt at cooking a meal (baked chicken), her first (and only) acid trip; her first orgasm (upside down); the first drug she really digs (speedballs, a powdered mix of heroin and coke). But the question is, at the end of her San Francisco Winter of Love when she returns to Minneapolis for her court date, will she end up paying for Val’s sins with a long jail sentence? And if her beloved lawyer Marvin manages to set her free, will she end up imprisoned by her own life on the edge?
I must navigate between worry about my upcoming drug case back in Minneapolis, troubled ties with my family, my growing interest in certain drugs, my struggle to figure out just who I am and where I’m going while at the same time living in San Francisco as the “old lady” of Val, drug dealer par excellence.
6. In a posh Sausalito restaurant after drinking innumerable tequilas and wolfing down a nearly raw steak, Val and his business associate, also Ukrainian, share drug-dealing stories while I escape to the bathroom and decide I need some color, a little lip gloss red, which I figure Val (Mr. Natural) won’t notice. But he does, and it fuels a red-bull rage causing him to tip over the heavy wooden table, much to everyone’s surprise and consternation. I taxi home, Val comes in later and vomits all over, which I help him clean up, and give him a bath with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint. He’s very sorry, of course, but the next day I wonder, hmmm, was it just the alcohol, which he never drinks normally, or should I split the scene and retreat back to Minneapolis to be safe? Well, after an extended inner dialog with two battling me’s, I decide to stay, at least for the trip to LA in a couple of days. I'll just see what happens. I mean, my ticket has been bought, and I’ve never been there...
My mother has been a problem to me all my life, her criticism and abuse causing me to hate housework, cooking, cleaning, all that nasty stuff. A banging pan will send me into the fetal-position. But I am forced to confront my fears and phobias when Val and I move into a house where another woman doesn’t hold sway, and doesn’t do all the work. I find I am both attracted and repelled by the power of “woman’s work,” and at the end of a meal that I have cooked myself (while on peyote, a very mellow drug) I begin to contemplate, while warm dish water flows gently over my hands, both the creative force of this work and its endless necessary repetitions through the entirety of a woman’s life.
I think about my mother’s banging pans, and I begin to forgive.
7.My memoir begins on a sunny, flower-scented porch in the edgy West Bank area of Minneapolis in mid-1969, and moves to the East Bank to a gray couch in an ashtray-scented room, then, via police car, to the Minneapolis City Hall jail, which looks just like a jail should look if you like them medieval. It’s a massive block of carved pinkish-gray stone with towers and turrets and rounded Romanesque arches that should be in a deep dark forest where ancient creaking gnome-laden trees stand guard and no birds sing rather than sitting squat and square on the sunny streets of downtown Minneapolis.
Eventually the story settles for a time in a lake-side western suburb of Minneapolis where I make friends with a few trees until it moves to a dramatic showdown in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square between Val and Marvin, my lawyer, where Val is challenged to be a man. San Francisco is a major player in the story, from Val’s exotic hippy-sheik bedroom in the Mission District, to a hill in Golden Gate Park where the trees sway to their own inner music, to the up-and-down dance that is riding in a VW Bug in the city of hills, and to the great Pacific Ocean where I discover my name written in the sand, literally. Other nearby areas are featured also, from the dry hill that hosts the ill-fated Altamont Festival, to a posh restaurant in Sausalito where Val is a bad, bad boy, to a gorgeous ocean house in Stinson Beach where a real estate lady calls me a “coke whore” of all ugly things (and I don’t even like cocaine!), to the drab gray repetitive streets and highways of Los Angeles, to the great dramatic expanse of the American West that lies beneath the plane flights from San Francisco to Minneapolis.
The last place to play a major role in the book is a small house in the Sunset District of San Francisco that is Val’s and mine alone, where I begin to bond with its colorful needs and desires, and begin to, gasp, become my mother, albeit with bell bottoms and peyote instead of capris and diet pills. And where I’m forced to cook a meal, to actually bake a chicken. And where I have my very first orgasm. And where I finally find a drug that I dig, the speedball, and to feel the dangerous lure of actually wanting to get high.
This story moves from leafy Minneapolis streets and suburbs to the San Francisco hippy scene, all of it in living color and loving detail.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 01:22
#1 The Act of Story Statement
In a dystopian state a holistic solar healer, Sol, has been chosen to bring down the bio-food and drug terrorist, and also reverse programming among the z-10 zombie population, with the help of her partner Joq, before they are overtaken by the z-10 effects too.
#2 Antagononist Plots the Point
Eugene Idzano, also known as Id, is the bio-food/drug terrorist who wants total domination of the country and world by poising the food supply as well as mandating his z-10 vaccination series. The z-10 series is administered over the course of four years. There are a progression of four stages that people go through before the full-blown zombie state. Id was orphaned since birth and was bounced from foster home to foster home. He has never known love nor has he been loved. He is highly intelligent and a scholar, but he has no social skills and doesn't know how to relate to others without intimidating and manipulating others.
#3 Breakout Title
The Z-Series: Sol & Joq Chronicles
Solji the Solar Health Warrior
The Lethal Shot
#4 Genre & Approaching Comparables
"One Second After," by William Forstchen
"World War Z," by Max Brooks
"Travelers," by Arwen Elys Dayton
"11/22/63," by Stephen King
#5 Primary Conflict
Sol and Joq must brave the z-10 zombie population and also figure out how to break into Id's fortresses to save her best friend and also break into his main computer system. Western medicine versus holistic/alternative medicine. Id
#6 Other matters of conflict
Traveling by car from Illinois to Miami, Florida by avoiding Id's obstacles and without getting followed or tracked. They must stay incognito without being noticed.
#7 Importance of setting
New Mexico is Sol's home area where she is followed by one of Id's head Idsmen where there is a gun shot incident that puts Sol in even greater danger from Id. When she finally gets to Chicago area where Joq is she is kidnapped and she awakens at Edwards Hospital in Naperville, IL. Sol and Joq are separated and she has to find her way to Miami without using her transporter or her invisibility poncho.
Sol and Joq find their way back to IL from Miami after the massive fire at the fortress in FL. Id has been tracking Sol closely through her blogs and her phone. Sol and Joq need to find their way to Missouri without Id knowing.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 02:30
1. Story statements:
A boy mysteriously, and possibly magically, disappears. His mother is driven to find him. His father tries to paint away his loss. And his sister struggles to not always be afraid.
The antagonist/antagonistic force is Ava Kirk. Ava Kirk comes to the novel in several forms. She is a beaten and neglected little girl named Jenny Bird who lived in the town of Fool’s Ridge at the turn of the 20th century. She is an old woman who teaches piano and traveled the world as a concert pianist. In her magical form, she is a beguiling red bird with human eyes who steals children and takes them back to her lair on Fool’s Ridge including Emma and Stephen’s four year old son.
At the mountain, she reverts to her seven-year-old self and acts as a mother to the young children who live with her. They also call her the New Mother.
In all her forms, Ava is childish, impulsive, and selfish. Like the neglected child she is at heart, her goal is to always be in the center of attention. Despite her magical powers, she is afraid that she will be left alone. As she gathers the children, she gives them each a tiny bit of magic and a tiny bit of freedom. They live for the most part happily on the mountain. But too much happiness makes Ava uncomfortable, and when she can she throws a wrench in the works.
The Dream of the Painter’s Daughter
The Boy Who Was
The Red Bird With Blue, Blue Eyes
The Red Bird With Blue Eyes
4. Comparables /Genre
Genre: Literary Fiction. Magical Realism. Speculative Fiction
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami
Lincoln in the Bardo: by George Saunders
Why these books:
These books all twist real and “magical” threads to spin a multiple POV story. Rather than bring the reader to a magical place, they take the real world and show how it can be extended to include magical elements.
A family muddles through the nightmare of losing a child and its aftermath for almost two decades. The capricious clues that seem to magically present themselves in unusual places, including their dreams, may lead to his whereabouts or they may tear the family apart.
6. Inner conflicts.
Being a mother is the only thing Emma ever felt she was good at. But the boy, although adored, was a difficult child. After his loss Emma is heartbroken. But a small part of her is also relieved. This tortures her. Her fear that she was, and is a bad mother and her guilt over losing her first child impedes her ability to show affection for Alice, her daughter. Her husband Stephen’s adoration of the girl is also problematic. She is jealous both of the attention he gives her and his ability to bond with her. She feels alone in her sadness and becomes close to their friend and neighbor Hal. Eventually they have an affair.
A fact checker and researcher by trade, Emma is haunted by her inability discern truth in her own life. She finds solace and eventually financial success in growing and arranging flowers.
Emma is also conflicted by Stephen’s art. She has terrible and detailed dreams which he paints. In part, this sharing makes the dream’s emotional impact go away. Despite the catharsis, she resents that he is airing her private thoughts in his public art.
Emma believes that the boy is leaving her gifts. She also suspects Ava Kirk has something to do with his disappearance. But for Stephen, the boy is gone and it is done. He refuses to listen to her, even when he mysteriously finds a map drawn in crayon that he in his heart knows came from the boy.
Stephen’s reaction to losing his son is throw himself into his art and to dedicate himself to his daughter. He feels guilty for not being the father he should have been the first time, and swears he will do better with Alice. Part of him blames Emma for the loss of their son. But he is more upset by her inability to be a good mother for Alice. He thinks she should let go of her silly obsession with the gifts and focus on their daughter.
Alice grows up in the shadow of her missing brother. As she grows up, she realizes that her mother is not emotionally available to her. Her father, tries to overcompensate, but Alice who desperately wants her mother’s love finds herself defending her mother. Emma’s obsession with the “gifts” and finding the boy, shapes Alice’s perception of the world and herself. Despite her father’s attempts to protect her, she is afraid that what happened to her brother will inevitably happen to her.
Emma has found a cheap magnifying glass in baby Alice’s crib. There is no logical reason or way it could have fallen in and so Emma believes it is a gift from the boy.The magnifying glass has the name of a diner on it. She thinks if she goes to the diner she will learn something about his disappearance. Her need to go to the diner is intense, but Stephen has taken their one car to work and a rainstorm is coming. But despite the impending storm, she packs up the baby in a stroller and walks through the country town to the diner. When she arrives, the rain has started. By the time she has settled in, the storm is in full swing. She realizes she has forgotten the baby stroller rain guard in her haste. She feels like she cannot call Stephen to come pick her up. She is willing to walk home in a storm and let the baby get soaking wet instead. Luckily, she meets Hal at the diner, and he drives her home.
City Heights. Stephen and Emma live far uptown, at the top of the city where the rent is cheap and the apartments are expansive. The live in a 6-story building which is was once grand but now has seen better days and is on the upswing again. The building is a mixed bag of young families, Hispanic immigrants and orthodox Jews who, for the most part, know each other. Geographically, the area is hilly and close to the river.
Fool’s Ridge: Fool’s Ridge is a town upstate that is nestled on the side of a mountain by the same name. A river runs through the town. One side of the bridge, the town is being revitalized and is up and coming and artsy – drawing weekenders and transplants from the city who are looking for a simpler, cheaper life. The other side of the bridge is mostly locals who have lived in the area for generations. The older residents are suspicious of the new up and comers. They don’t always see the change they bring as positive. The mountain is also a draw. It is known for hiking and climbing and people come for miles to scale its slick granite face.
The mountain itself is a magic place, but only for the people who can access it. Ava Kirk has her home there, with her gathered children. Part of the mountains magic is the slowing of time. The other is that it has paths to places all over the world. This is how Ava Kirk “finds” her children.
Emma can access the magic of the mountain in her dreams. Alice can experience it in real life.
The children, including Emma’s son, have become a part of the mountain. They can come and go, but they can only leave the magic part of the mountain in the body of an animal. Only their eyes remain human.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch)
Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 06:11
ACT OF STORY STATEMENT
Part One: Blaming her father for her mother’s death, a privileged seventeen-year-old girl runs away from her Midwest home and must adapt to survive life on the streets of Santa Cruz, California.
Part Two: After suffering through trauma and tragedy as a runaway in California, Abbey returns to the Midwest to start a new life for herself as a counselor to homeless girls, but can’t seem to escape the past, or the hardships of her new job.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
Part one takes place in Santa Cruz, CA, the antagonist is street life itself and those who are potential threats to a girl alone on the streets, such as Bryan, a young deadhead who tries to force himself on Abbey, and Marley, a junkie who attacks her and steals her money.
Abbey’s father: Abbey believes her father cheated on her mother, resulting in her mother’s death, which pushes Abbey to run away from home. He also lies to keep her from seeing Dylan.
In part two, which takes place in Kansas City, MO, the antagonist is, again, the danger and uncertainty of life on the streets, drugs, as well as the men who pose a threat to vulnerable girls.
CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE
THE STILLNESS OF HER
DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES:
Genre: Commercial Fiction/New Adult Fiction
BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN by Charles Bock
SQUAT by Taylor Field
CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"
A seventeen-year-old girl runs away from a luxurious life in the suburbs and must learn to get by on the streets when her mother is killed and she believes her father is to blame.
OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS
Part One: Seventeen and a runaway living on the streets, Abbey is vulnerable to constant danger. Bryan, a deadhead who tries to force himself on her when she’s hallucinating on acid and, Marley, a junkie who attacks her and steals her money, are just two of them.
Abbey has to figure out how to get by day-to-day, selling weed, eating at soup kitchens and finding a place to sleep at night. Struggling with the grief of losing her mother and the anger she feels toward her father, she uses drugs to escape. Abbey worries that she’s losing herself.
As Abbey finds herself falling further into the web of street life, she also finds herself falling for Dylan, the dreadlock-adorned hippie who’s not all he appears to be. Dylan looks out for Abbey, seems to care about her, but is secretive and refuses her advances.
Freedom, Abbey’s new friend who’s been living the street life her whole life, having been raised by a drug addict in poverty, has caved to her own addictions and needs Abbey’s help to pay off the drug dealer she stole drugs from. Abbey comes up with the money but it’s too late. A junkie, who was an old friend of Freedom’s mom, attacks and steals the money from Abbey. Abbey is taken to a hospital where she wakes to find her father at her bedside. She learns that Dylan called him and that Dylan was working undercover on the streets all along. Her father lies and tells her that Dylan doesn’t want to see her to get her to go home with him.
Part Two: Abbey tries to acclimate to being back home, and the challenges of dealing with her friend’s death, as well as the truth about her mother’s death. She tries to find her place in the world, hoping to use her own experiences of being on the streets to help others. She finishes college, breaks up with her alcoholic boyfriend, and gets her own apartment. As a counselor at a homeless shelter she must deal with her superior, a young man whose recreational activities are suspect, as well as the men at the shelter who constantly objectify her and the girls who live there.
Abbey makes a trip back to Santa Cruz in an attempt to find Dylan, along with some closure, having nothing more to go on than a last name he’d given her, which may not have been real. Again she finds herself vulnerable being a single woman traveling alone when the detective who volunteers to help her, is more interested in getting her alone. Abbey reaches out to a girl on the streets that she used to know, only to be ripped off. She returns home feeling like it was a wasted trip. Abbey continues working with troubled girls, trying to make a difference in what appears to be a hopeless situation. Terri, a hostile teen who ran away from her rapist, adoptive father, is teetering on the edge of sanity. Abbey is called to the shelter in middle of the night and finds Terri in the bathroom with Gerald, the notorious pervert who takes advantage of her mental state. Terri lashes out at Abbey and Abbey regretfully seeks comfort in her superior.
Two of the girls at the shelter are in hiding and won’t give their real names; not trusting the police to protect them from their past experiences, they live day to day in the shelter, having nowhere else to go. When one of the girls is spotted outside the shelter, everyone is in danger as the gang members seek retaliation. After the shootout and the death of one of her girls, the shelter closes for good and Abbey questions what to do next and whether she made any difference at all. Abbey’s dream of opening a girls-only shelter seems more critical than ever but she’s lost the drive she once had, feeling more alone than ever.
Abbey gets an apologetic phone call from the detective who aggressively came on to her when she visited Santa Cruz, claiming that Dylan had put him up to the call. Realizing that the only person who knew what happened and was furious with the detective was her dad, Abbey confronts her dad and discovers that he knew how to contact Dylan all along. Abbey now has a phone number for Dylan, but after years of no contact, she fears how he will react to her call and whether the feelings she thought they had for one another would still be there.
THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING
Part One takes place in Santa Cruz, California. Two girls squatting in the attic of a restaurant that has gone out of business; Soup kitchens; A giant hollow redwood tree filled with hippie kids; A meadow overlooking town where homeless kids sleep and flail in the moonlight; Pacific Ave., the hippie-ridden main street in downtown Santa Cruz, and the café, where Abbey and her friends hangout; Joe, the recovering meth-head’s apartment, the upstairs of an old Victorian house; A hospital room in Santa Cruz.
Part Two takes place in Kansas City, Missouri. Abbey’s father’s house, a luxurious home in an upscale neighborhood; The cemetery where Abbey’s mother is buried; A college campus and her alcoholic boyfriend’s barely habitable basement apartment; Abbey’s new apartment overlooking The Plaza; The make-shift homeless shelter Abbey works at as a counselor, which is really just a dilapidated warehouse; A police station in Santa Cruz; A motel room in Santa Cruz; The restaurant that Abbey once squatted in, only it’s been reopened for business; The canal in Santa Cruz where Freedom, her friend, was killed; A cemetery in Santa Cruz; A hospital in Kansas City following a shooting at the shelter; An old house Abbey plans to turn into a shelter exclusively for young women; A ballroom where Abbey’s fundraiser for her shelter, Freedom House, takes place.