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Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 07 Jun 2018, 21:31
Asst 1> Story statement:
An ambitious robo-hacker yearns to leave her ugly past behind and join her society's elite as a respected commerce leader.
Asst 2> Sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force:
The CEO of the most profitable technology company on Earth 2070 is an admired pillar of society. He exudes the charisma of a younger man, boasting an athletic physique and forceful demeanor. Yet unmarried, he’s linked romantically to several men and women. His longest serious relationship is with his brilliant CIO.
The executive reshapes the world with his products, positioning disruption as a benefit to society. The public lauds him as a hero. He wields his power and personal brand like a saber to slash the competition. Six years after a brilliant scientist designed the first meta-knowledge device, the CEO launched his company based on the inventor’s technology and the creator died with nothing.
The executive believes that algorithmically derived insight from the pervasive exchange of human-machine data is the ultimate source of power in society. His company was founded on this principle. He’s determined to dominate every emergent commercial which could participate in his industry, driven to control information and knowledge, grasping to capture the entire market. If this means sabotage or disabling everyone who gets in his way, so be it. Whatever he eliminates, stupidity, inefficiency, or humanity, the universe will be a stronger place without it.
Asst 3> Breakout title options:
MINIMUM VIABLE PLANET
HOW TO HACK THE FUTURE
Asst 4> Comparables
Matthew Mather, DARKNET - Fast-paced thriller where corporate influence and AI feature significantly in the plot.
Martha Wells, ALL SYSTEMS RED (Murderbot Diaries) - Corporations dominate society in this futurist series with quirky robots, scientists, and a strong protagonist.
Asst 5a> Primary Conflict
In a post-fossil-fuel world, an ambitious robo-hacker must defy a powerful executive and brave threats to her life to invent an impossible device before enviro-tech sabotage destroys mankind.
Asst 5b> Inner Conflict
A brilliant antisocial robo-hacker has a closer relationship with the meta-bots she creates than with actual people, including her own brother. She yearns to build her own business empire so she can join the elite class and delegate personal contact. When she catches a powerful executive disrupting the planet’s environmental protections, he entices her with the prize she’s always wanted, her own business empire, in exchange for silent assistance. But now she’s with a group of committed scientists and tree-huggers inventing a device to save humanity from environmental destruction. These new relationships force her to question the wisdom of turning away from connections, and her conflict intensifies as she learns that defying the executive will endanger her life and that of her new friends.
As the robo-hacker works with a band of scientists and tree-huggers to build a device to counteract environmental threat, she grows to understand the devotion and commitment of each member of the team. She becomes especially close to the predictive scientist whose research forms the core of the new product. When he is injured and kidnapped, she must decide whether these strange feelings of connection to other people will be her undoing or her salvation.
On Earth in 2070, mankind’s relationship to the environment has been stabilized by infrastructure innovation and societal change. Pervasive technology and strict adherence to rules and standards enable this fossil-fuel free world to use highly efficient food production practices, controlled land use, cradle to cradle manufacturing, and renewable energy production. The new model of governance, called POLIS (Public Operations and Legal Infrastructure Services) provides administrative services and ensures compliance with laws and statutes. Citizens interact with their government through digital communications or by meeting with human representatives based in regional offices across the country. To succeed, POLIS relies on comprehensive data capture, sophisticated analytics, and automation of administrative functions. People work and live in a transparent society, where human activity and natural processes are monitored, reported, analyzed and shaped to keep everything in balance and prevent disaster. The highly efficient bureaucracy eliminates problems of crime, poverty, and social unrest, although true privacy is a rare privilege enjoyed by only by the elite members of society.
Human settlement is concentrated in dense urban areas where people inhabit micro-dwelling units aggregated into mega-structures to maximize the efficiency of energy and water use, waste capture and recycling. The population gathers in large walled cities divided into functional zones for habitation, industry, and socialization. Enviro-tech, massive infrastructure projects which protect city inhabitants from the potential damage of frequent storms and geologic incidents, require steady streams of accurate data and processing power to anticipate and adjust the above and below-ground structures which protect urban settlements.
The story begins in BosCam, a mega-city resulting from the merger of communities in the metropolitan area formerly known as Boston. The centerpiece of BosCam enviro-tech is a giant sea barricade which responds to weather and sea level changes by rising and falling to prevent floods. In the Hawaiian Islands, where the bulk of the novel takes place, sea barriers, underground monitors and solar-responsive domes protect inhabited zones from environmental risk.
Sustaining the rapidly growing human population required dramatic changes in food production systems. Nutritional needs are met by a centralized food production system in which large robot-manned agricultural centers grow nutrient- and protein-rich crops and insects and process them into standard nutritional supplements. Protein and other food products derived from animals are no longer available to the general population, although it is possible for the wealthy elite to obtain meat and exotic plant-based meals at exorbitant cost.
Transportation infrastructure consists of automated systems, self-driving cars for short distances, hyperloops provide transportation across the continent or under the sea. As people move between megastructures or transport systems outdoors, they wear enviro-suits to protect them against toxic air quality. Solar- and motion-powered helmets deliver information, support communication, entertainment, and data access. The multi-functional enviro suits shield the body from injury and temperature fluctuation, circulate air, process and recycle waste and hydration. Pervasive data streams emanate from people, animals, natural and mechanical systems. Data is aggregated and analyzed to provide split-second answers to questions at all times.
It became necessary to restructure the financial system to reflect the large numbers of low-skilled jobs given over to robots and automation. The system is reflected in the Tiers which represent classes or economic groups. At the lowest level, Subsistence Tier, people are provided with a basic income which enables them to find adequate housing, meet basic needs for nutrition, and pursue social interests, education and entertainment. To rise to higher status tiers, individuals must join one of the powerful commercial organizations which drive society and be promoted through market achievement, product and service innovation, or research and development.
Outside city walls areas of the country lie abandoned because it is inefficient to supply energy at such a distance across a barren landscape. Fertile areas outside the city have been converted to domed food production areas, managed by automated systems requiring minimal human personnel. Beyond the mega-cities in the northern and coastal areas of North America, large swaths of the continent are dedicated to shared energy and natural resource production. The uninhabitable desert formerly known as the American Southwest houses a gigantic solar installation which supplies energy to urban areas to the entire continent. A giant tree farm stretches across the northwestern quarter of the continent designed to clean the environment so that in future decades, humans will be able to breathe the air without mechanical filters.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 08 Jun 2018, 07:51
THE ACT OF THE STORY STATEMENT
Defeat the curse threatening to destroy the kingdoms and survive to rule as queen.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
Valizar is from the hidden kingdom of Erawon, which no mortal can enter without dying a sacrificial death. Erawon is idyllic for most, but in this kingdom Valizar loses his only love and all his power to the King. Finally, he leads an uprising against the King, who prevails and banishes him to the mortal realm. The King assumes that Valizar, like others in Erawon, have died a sacrificial death in the mortal realm, and so banishing him there should cause him to vanish into nothing. But Valizar survives, hinting that he arrived in Erawon without ever dying on earth. He takes some of Erawon’s magic with him, including the power to possess.
Seeking revenge on the King, he plans to destroy the mortal kingdoms that the King fought to bring peace to. He curses the mortal realm, blocking the King from using his powers to intervene there. He plagues the land with drought, and allows dark spirits the King would otherwise suppress, to rise and possess wild beasts and susceptible humans. These possessed minds are driven to kill anyone they encounter.
He then fools the protagonist into seeking his aid, possesses her, and uses her as a pawn to incite war between the kingdoms.
Where Ashes Reign
Weapon of Light
Oath of Hate
GENRE AND COMPARABLES
An Ember in the Ashes
Similar pace, characters, and conflict.
Legacy of Kings
My novel lacks the historical element, but the story structure is similar, with multiple POVs.
Emory, a future queen, joins a self-professed savior to end a curse poisoning her land with drought and war, but when he is suddenly killed, she is left alone in enemy lands to end the curse and establish peace.
After narrowly escaping death in enemy lands, a commoner offers Emory shelter. She learns of his customs and religion, and eventually falls in love with him. He returns her affection, but she is afraid to tell him her true identity, as the heir to the throne of a kingdom considered his enemy.
Emory has always believed in the story of Erawon and its King. When a guest appears, claiming to be that King’s son from Erawon, she trusts him enough to join him on a mission, despite a health condition that leaves her susceptible to unexpected spells of weakness. When he is killed, after telling her nothing in the mortal realm can harm him, she is left alone, and questions the faith she so relied on. She wonders if the curse he told her about is real, and debates whether or not to abandon the mission to end it. She questions her ability, as a young woman considered weak by her father. She is tempted to turn her focus toward the mortal realm, where things are tangible and she has found love. When the curse’s powers become apparent, however, and she is possessed by Valizar, she must fight and overcome the fear of her own bodily weakness.
Hypothetical scenario for inner conflict:
After the apparent execution of her acquaintance, who claimed he was from Erawon and nothing from the mortal realm could kill him, Emory receives a letter he wrote before his death, which instructs her how to continue on and defeat the curse over her lands. She must decide if she still trusts him and believes in the story enough to risk her life for this cause.
Hypothetical scenario for secondary conflict:
After running away and living in an enemy kingdom, Emory returns to her father, the most powerful king in the mortal realm, to profess her love for the commoner she met there. Though it undermines her future rule, she must find the courage to ask to marry him. When her father refuses, and continues attacks on the enemy land, she must decide where her loyalties lie, and where she should remain.
The three kingdoms are comprised of Tryn, Jor, and Dovnea, situated in a valley, with red desert beyond the mountains, and an ocean to the north. Tryn is a walled city, with surrounding farmlands. Dovnea has a partial wall, at its border shared with Jor. Jor is the poorest kingdom, and has no wall.
Before the inhabitants settled in the valley, there were nomadic tribes in the desert, often at war. The Great King united those tribes and they settled in the valley, establishing the kingdom of Tryn. The Great King’s achievement of unity was acknowledged when he was chosen to rule the hidden kingdom of Erawon, an immortal realm where the Sun God’s power dwells, and a place mortals only reach if they die a sacrificial death.
But after the Great King’s departure to Erawon, the peaceful coexistence of Tryn’s tribes began to falter. Conflicts over religion and lifestyle rose, and a faction left to settle across the sea, creating the kingdom of Jor. The tension between Tryn and Jor reached a climax when Tryn gave money and aid to the Dovnean tribe, enabling it to settle across the sea and take much of Jor’s land. For centuries, war plagued these three kingdoms.
The Great King, supposedly ruling the mortal realms from Erawon, is mostly forgotten about, as little aid seems to come from him. No one realizes that it’s because Valizar has cast a curse on the mortal realms, blocking the Great King from intervening there.
There are normally two seasons, a wet and a dry season. The curse has caused a sustained drought. As waters dwindle, the dark spirits once suppressed by the Great King, emerge from their depths, poisoning men and beasts who drink from shallow water. Wild beasts, not usually seen in daylight or near the cities, emerge from the forests and mountains to prey on the lands. Men poisoned by the darkness are corrupted to violence and murder senselessly.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 09 Jun 2018, 01:08
1 Story Statement
Reconcile family obligation with the path of true destiny.
2 Antagonistic Forces Energize the Plot
The novel Thread is the story of myriad characters struggling with the internal conflict between what is expected and indeed demanded of them, and who they really are at the core of the true self.
During the 1920's, oppressive restrictions on what one could do without facing isolation and even abandonment of family and rural community could quell the imagination of any young person who dared to have a mind of their own. A fierce sense of courage was the only way to stand up to such pressure.
This conflict could suddenly become a physical reality, such as when John Parks' terror at what his father is going to do to him for failing to measure up leads to a vicious beating, as his father literally drills into him what he expects of the boy.
There is even the appearance of an evil force, in the despicable Frank Brown, who holds his innocent daughter captive as a victim of rape and horrendous abuse as she tries to find a way to escape and somehow survive her broken childhood.
3 Breakout Title
Where We Belong
4 Genre and Comparables Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
Brooklyn, Colm Toibin
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng
5 Conflict Line
Just as young John begins to recognize his own unique path as a clothing designer, unplanned pregnancy and a forced teenage marriage sever his opportunity to escape the family farm.
6 Inner Conflict
His lifelong interest in designing and sewing was never a match with the manly image John's father laid out for him to emulate. Along the way he suffered constant bullying and battering even from his brother, who also needed John to fit into the rigid pattern so all the work of the farmstead wouldn't land on his own shoulders. While John's grandmother secretly encouraged him, no one ever dared confront the powerful patriarch whose will was everyone else's command.
The pressures of caring for his family seem to mount, rather than subside. John and Bonny wed and begin to adapt to their new roles, but pertussis, a life threatening illness, creeps into the family and once again vital priorities must be accommodated while heartfelt desires are suppressed.
John's brother Charlie is torn between the responsible yet angry, frustrated, work-driven persona he's become, and the stirrings of empathy that appear when he encounters an emaciated, tortured waif of a girl who's obviously suffering way more than he is. He realizes he's added to her agony, but so what? Should he walk away, or take on yet another miserable set of problems and try to rescue her?
The picturesque landscape of the Catskill Mountains of New York is the backdrop for the primary location of Thread. Most of the action takes place in an antique hand-built farmhouse that's been in the family for generations, but a little log cabin down by the creek that borders the farm becomes a rustic home for the young newlywed couple. The animal barn, pastures, wildflower meadows, creeks, piney deep woods and paths between farmsteads provide a lush variety of natural out door scenes.
Further afield are the quaint cottages of Bonny's family cottage in the glen, and that of Henry Harrington and his father, who have reclaimed a rickety abandoned house by gutting and refinishing it with their own craft, woodworking.
At Doc's place in town, he's carved a waiting room and office/examination room from what used to be a normal first floor. In the jumble of the back kitchen, his patients leave offerings of vegetables and baked goods in return for their care. Just down the street past the mercantile and sheriff's office is the out of date frame house where two elderly sisters try to get by living alone without plumbing or electricity, which is only sporadically installed in the countryside.
A filthy, fallen-down, derelict farm down the creek road is the heartbreaking scene of Jenny's traumatic abuse by her violently alcoholic father. Its proximity to the lean-to wilderness camp she escapes to in the night when her so-called friends coax her there, gives reason for scenes in both places.
In contrast, the setting in New York City captivates the imagination with throngs of people in the streets, automobiles alongside horse-drawn carriages, electric lights, telephones and indoor bathrooms. The very wealth of the Harrington family shines like a star in their elegantly appointed brownstone with its luxurious garden.
Then there's the grandiose Macy's Department Store with all its glorious new lighting, and Stein and Blaine, the upscale atelier on West 57th, which stuns the senses of John Parks and his sister Betsey.
In Thread, the reader goes from the outhouse to the mansion house, and back.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 09 Jun 2018, 02:29
Fiona must to come to terms with her past and her past lives if she is to break the karmic cycle of revenge and retribution that threatens her in this life.
THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT
Jamie Burke is a handsome 22-year-old misogynist. He's brusque, filled with machismo, and is used to getting what he wants. His interest in women is purely sexual. He's a manipulative, ruthless bully, but it's not just women he seeks to dominate. The young men in his entourage follow him out of fear.
Fiona is 18 years old on the verge of leaving home for college. One Sunday after morning Mass, Jamie forcefully kisses Fiona against her wishes and in the presence of the entire parish he announces his intention to marry her. Fiona rebuffs him and his unwelcome advances and he doesn't take kindly to it. A week later as Fiona leaves her restaurant job, Jamie lays in wait for her in the alley and rapes her in the presence of her cowardly older brother.
This traumatic violation causes Fiona to lose consciousness and catapults her into a past life where she embodies a 14-year-old girl in ancient Egypt. Her father has arranged her marriage to a brutal Roman soldier. On her wedding night, Fiona plies the man with liquor, then slits his throat rather than consummate the marriage.
Jamie Burke was the Roman soldier and now he seeks revenge.
THE BREAKOUT TITLE
What I Didn't Know Then
GENRE AND COMPARABLES
The Seer is best described as upmarket or commercial women's fiction with well-researched historical scenes and elements of pure creative speculation.
The Seer may be compared to Audrey Niffenegger's book, The Time Traveler's Wife or Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series as these works of fiction also deal with time travel. However, the storyline in The Seer is similar to the non-fiction work of psychiatrist Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters where he uses past life regression therapy with his patients to help them gain insight to their current life.
Fiona has always felt like a stranger in her large, Irish Catholic family in rural Iowa, when a traumatic event catapults her back to ancient Egypt where she lived another life as a different person. Fiona must come to terms with her past life and find a way to break the cycle of karma and revenge that continues to threaten her safety in this life. Yet to even contemplate the possibility of reincarnation is considered an unspeakable heresy by the patriarchy of her family, and grounds for excommunication given the ubiquitous power of The Church.
Fiona is a virgin when she is raped by her brother's friend. Against the counsel of her parish priest, she decides to press charges and submits to a rape exam for the collection of evidence. Her family doctor performs the exam and this is another first for Fiona. The doctor asks Fiona to return if she misses her period. Fiona is thrown into an ethical dilemma as she confronts the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Termination of a pregnancy is considered murder by the dictates of The Church and thus her Roman Catholic family, yet Fiona has just been accepted to a prestigious college in Chicago and will be the first of her immigrant family to attend college. A pregnancy would totally derail Fiona's plans for a different life. Not only will college be off the table but she will have to stay in rural Iowa and may be forced to marry the man who brutally raped her and is the father of her child.
This is not an abstraction for Fiona as she is the oldest daughter of seven and has close daily contact with her beloved infant brother Matthew. To go against the dictates of The Church is traumatic when you have been exposed to the dogma and propaganda since the day you were born. To even contemplate a forced marriage to someone so vile and abusive that he would rape her and leave her for dead in an alley is unthinkable. Still to put your own well-being, goals and dreams above the life of an innocent child creates an emotional ethical dilemma for which all the solutions go against Fiona's sense of right and wrong.
This is 1975, long before women had access to emergency contraception for the early termination of pregnancy.
The waiting is excruciating. One night the wise women visit Fiona in a dream and she learns what wise women the world over have known for a long time. There are herbal concoctions to bring on one's courses and relieve her of the need to decide anything.
Fiona finds offering forgiveness to her assailant is easier than pardoning her older brother Kevin's betrayal. Kevin stood back while she was sexually assaulted and did not intervene. Fiona recounts the teachings of Jesus that have been reiterated ad infinitum by her extended family: we are our brother's keepers and the Dolan interpretation, we take care of our own.
Kevin and Fiona have been estranged since she was raped. One afternoon following the assault Fiona sets out to find her father when she unexpectedly encounters her brother in the barn. They engage in an unrestrained battle of words as Fiona confronts Kevin for not protecting her. Outside the barn their father waits and listens to Fiona's outrage and Kevin's misogynistic dismissal. When Da has heard enough, he enters the barn and beats the living daylights out of his eldest son with horse leathers. Fiona begs her father to stop as she fears the magnitude of her father's anger. At last Kevin breaks free, bruised and bloody he flees the barn running for his life.
Fiona retreats to the quiet of her room concerned this rift within her family may never be mended. Despite her anger at Kevin for his unconscionable betrayal, she knows it must be difficult for Kevin to walk in the shadow of his younger sister. For as long as she can remember Kevin has been compared to her and always come up lacking. In the eyes of their father and the rest of the Dolan brothers, her God-given gifts of intuition, intellect and propensity to work hard and persevere have been wasted on her due to her gender. They believe everyone would have been better served if they'd been gifted to her wanton older brother. Their judgement doesn't feel good to either of them.
Fiona's perspective changes seeing Kevin as a victim of bullying by Da and their uncles. Leading Fiona to wonder if Kevin was also bullied by Jamie Burke. Fiona has seen first-hand what little regard Jamie has for anyone but himself. She has seen how Jamie manipulates and ridicules those around him. Was Kevin's betrayal of her driven out of fear, the fear of being bullied and brutalized by Jamie Burke, his so-called friend and her rapist? Choosing this mindset, Fiona understands she must offer her brother compassion, unmerited grace and mercy in attempt to heal the past.
THE THERAPIST'S OFFICE
The story opens in 2088 in the country of Scandinavia, the unification of countries formally known as Finland, Norway and Sweden. A young woman named Saga has entered the office of a regression therapist and she sits in the waiting room for her appointment.
The waiting room is clean, spare and rather non-descript. Everything is monotone and the furniture is contemporary, with clean lines and designed for function first. The walls are painted a taupe color and the upholstery on the furniture and the carpet matches. The walls are devoid of art work. There is little here to stimulate or prod the imagination. This, too, is by design. The goal of the regression therapist is to assist the client to go back into their past lives and to look within. The waiting room is designed not to suggest or lead the individuals to anything outside of their own inner experience.
Scandinavia provides national health insurance and all monies are spent for treatment rather than adorning the office spaces. The office is in a new multistory building. The window brings in the daylight but it is a winter morning and there is very little natural light this time of year. The gray clouds hang low on the horizon and threaten to snow again. The room is warm and the hissing noise from the heating system periodically interrupts the silence in the room as other clients sit in the chairs and keep to themselves with their faces peering into their personal electronic devices.
THE TREATMENT ROOM
Saga is welcomed back into the treatment room by her therapist, Annika. The treatment room is relatively small and has also been decorated in the same monochromatic color scheme as the waiting room. There is a large coffee brown wooden desk in the room. It, too, is spare as the desk is clear of all personal affects except a small portable computer. Annika sits in the upholstered desk chair and Saga sits in the chair opposite her desk. This chair is also upholstered in the same fabric, a taupe colored wool.
There are no windows in the room and the room is lit with a simple torchiere floor lamp in each of the corners throwing a golden light onto the ceiling that makes the room appear warm and cozy.
Once the initial interview is completed, Saga moves to the large over-stuffed recliner which is also upholstered in the same taupe fabric as everything else where she is covered with a weighted blanket with a taupe duvet cover. The cotton duvet cover has a small unobtrusive herringbone pattern in two slightly different shades of the same color.
Once situated Annika picks up the small portable computer and sits in a desk chair next to her client. From the controls on her computer she lowers the light in the room, locks the door so they will not be disturbed, and turns on a soft ethereal instrumental music before she leads Saga into her first regression.
Saga time travels back to another life where she lived as Fiona Dolan. It is 1964 and she is seven years old and lives in a rural farming community in Iowa.
The scene opens in a one-hundred-year-old Catholic church. The church is small and seats no more than two hundred people. The foundation, the walls, and the floor are made from big blocks of limestone. The church is cold, damp and dank. The light streams in weakly through the dozen, tall, and narrow stained glass windows on each side of the nave. There is a central aisle bisecting the rows of golden oak pews.
The priest faces the alter and stands with his back to the congregation. It is pre-Vatican II. A large wooden crucifix hangs high on the wall above the altar. The flickering light of tall white candles illuminate the altar. There is a painted statute of the Madonna and Child to the left of the altar and a statue of St. Joseph to the right. He is identifiable by the carpenter's T-square he holds. Both statues appear to be done by the same artist and are painted in pastel colors. All three figures have halos of gold leaf to indicate their holiness.
The sanctuary fills with the aromatic smell of incense and clouds of the holy gray smoke rise from the brass lantern as it is swung in the direction of the congregation.
The organ music fills the church with a familiar hymn and the congregation stands and sings along with the choir. The women and girls all wear dresses and hats or lace mantillas to cover their heads and these Midwestern farmers wear suits and ties. Their clothes are clean and pressed, yet many show subtle some signs of wear. These are not wealthy people. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best.
An old-style playground is located between the red brick single story Catholic School and the limestone Catholic Church with its two-story vault and steeple. A small herd of children race to the playground once Mass is dismissed. It is early spring and the grass is beginning to turn green as the leaves on the trees are just budding out in shades of spring green. Beds of multicolored tulips are in bloom around the church, the priest's rectory and the convent thanks to the Women's Garden Guild. The sun is midway in the eastern sky as the children begin to warm up after sitting still in the cold dark church for the last hour.
All five of the black rubber swings are taken as grade school girls work their arms and legs to get the swings to move higher and higher in the sky. The older boys push the old metal merry-go-round. It once was painted in primary colors of red, yellow and blue, but after the long Midwestern winter it is need of paint and rebalancing. The children yell and scream as the boys push harder and the merry-go-round spins faster and faster until some of the younger children are begging and crying to get off and the older ones jump off landing on their hands and knees in the damp grass. Four or five youngsters wait their turn in line for a turn on the shiny, stainless steel slide while a little boy begs his older sister to catch him at the bottom. The base of the slide and the poles holding the swings have been secured to the earth with concrete and the playground is covered with pea gravel which is pretty sparse after being used by many children during recess throughout the long winter.
The farm house is about 100 years old and has been in the Dolan family for generations now. It is white clapboard and in pretty good repair. The front door faces the gravel county road and sits about 100 yards off the road. There is a stone walkway to the front door. This door leads to the front room and is only used by guests. Members of the family park back by the barn and enter the kitchen from the back porch.
The grass is cut and the apple and cherry trees are already in bloom.
The barn is another 100 yards behind the house. It has the traditional gambrel roof and is painted barn red. The house, yard and barn are neat and tidy as Mama insists on it. "There is a place for everything and everything is in its place." Mama is a hard-working woman and the house is her domain.
There are a couple of other out buildings, a chicken coop and the old stone barn. The farm supports the family primarily with the sale of corn and soybeans. But they also have smaller fields of oats, rye and wheat along with a few fruit trees in the orchard. Da has a couple of dairy cows, a horse, and some sheep while Mama has a big garden and tends the chickens and the children. Mama says, "The only thing we cannot grow ourselves is coffee and sugar, but these are luxuries they can do without."
DANNY BOY'S SUPPER CLUB
It is now 1975 and Fiona is 18 and a senior in high school. She works part-time as a waitress at Danny Boy's Supper Club. She is trying to save some money for college. Danny Boy's is a restaurant and a bar named for the proprietor. It is located in the small town of Tullymore Glen and is around the corner from the church, the grade school and the newly acquired social hall.
Danny Boy's Supper Club is in a two-story red brick building on the corner of Main Street and Church. The second-floor houses Danny Boy's apartment. The building was built in the early 1900's and has been renovated at least once. The front door is on Main Street and all of the parking for the restaurant is in the lot across the side street. A sign bearing the restaurant's name hangs in the front window. There are green awnings on the street facing façade and the front door has a frosted glass window etched with the restaurant's name and encircled by shamrocks. This is an Irish Catholic community, as is the owner and most of the patrons.
The green awnings over the front windows block most of the light so the restaurant has a tendency to be a little dark. Brass wall sconces and a couple of antique Victorian chandeliers light the room. Danny is a stickler for using the dimmer switch and creating a gracious ambiance for these farmers.
"These are hard workin' folks and they deserve to have a night out. Let's make it nice for them."
Danny has a welcoming presence. Everyone is greeted at the door and preferably by name. The fare is simple and the portions are hardy. He generously takes care of his patrons and his staff. It's part of his nature.
The bar is situated at the far end of the restaurant. The bar is stained dark as are the wooden tables and chairs. The walls are painted a deep forest green and the same color can be found in the napkins, menu covers, and aprons. The trim and mouldings are all painted white. The tables are set with simple white dishes and clear glassware clear. In the cold, dark months of winter the gas log fireplace is lit.
The kitchen is located behind the bar and there is a door from the kitchen into the alley. There's a dumpster in the alley and the alley connects to Church Street. The restrooms are in a corridor on the right and can be accessed from behind the serving station. This corridor ends with a second doorway into the alley and a stairway that leads to Danny's second floor residence.
Every night except Sunday, Danny Boy can be found behind the bar.
It is 9:30 PM on a Saturday night in March 1975. Fiona has just finished her shift at Danny Boy's Supper Club. She was supposed to meet her girlfriends at the parish dance thirty minutes ago but she is late. She decides to take a short cut and leaves through the back door and cuts through the alley rather than walk around the block.
She steps out the backdoor into the alley and hears the door lock behind her. It is dark and there is the faint smell of rotting rubbish coming from the rusty old blue dumpster pushed up against the stockade fence. A single light bulb burns from the fixture over the door. Cases of empty beer bottles are stacked beside the back door for the beer distributors to pick up along with an empty keg.
She hears something, perhaps it is the movement of small stones beneath someone's feet. Without turning around, she knows she is not alone. Someone else is in the alley.
"Fee-Yo-Na," he slurs her name as if dragging it through mud.
Chills climb up her spine and fear overtakes her. It is Jamie Burke and he is drunk.
ANCIENT EGYPT- THE WELL
The trauma of the sexual assault catapults Fiona back to another place and time, where she lived another life as a different person.
The scene opens as Fiona is looking at her bare feet. They are tanned brown as she stands near a circular well which is about 4 feet in diameter. The well is encircled with a thigh high limestone wall. A dark wooden bucket hangs by a thick hemp hope from the wooden cross beam. This stone well in the center of the village square. The square has been enclosed on the perimeter with walls made of limestone bricks and there are two narrow stone passageways from the square. One of passageways leads to the east village and the other to west. This is a gathering place for the women and the men have designed the space to keep the women safe. The stones around the well have been worn smooth by years and years of use.
She wears an ankle length dress woven of fine linen. It has been dyed a golden saffron color. There are six other young girls with long dark hair and dark eyes waiting by the well. Their suntanned faces are beautifully offset by their ivory tunics made of coarse homespun fabric. They appear to be about 14 years old, just on the cusp between girlhood and maidenhood. They admire the beautiful dress and golden bracelets she wears. They giggle and titter to one another as she gives a spin on one foot to show-off her elegant dress.
Given the ages of the other girls, Fiona surmises that she is also about 14 years old. She, too, has been sent to the well to fetch the water.
But she cannot linger long as her mother is expecting her at home. The other girls help place the terra cotta water jug onto the fabric ring on her head. It is hot as the mid-day sun is overhead. Slowly and gracefully she makes her way down the dusty road towards home.
ANCIENT EGYPT- AT HOME
There is an old dark wooden door leading into the home and it is open to the road when Fiona arrives. The exterior walls are made of some kind of stucco, the golden color of ancient parchment. She steps up to gain access to the house. She fears she will drop the water so she calls to the people inside. Two older women dressed in white linen help take the water jug from her head. They scold her for taking too long at the well. They’re not family, no they are her mother’s helpers.
Her mother is waiting. When she steps inside the house, she walks through an internal room and then out then into a beautiful outdoor courtyard that is enclosed by stucco walls. There are pink and purple flowering vines climbing up and over the walls. There is a long wooden table, with a linen tablecloth dyed the same golden saffron color as her dress. The table is heavily laden with food. A beautiful display of fruit gives the table a vibrancy of color and feeling of abundance. There are plenty of roasted meats and grilled vegetables too.
Thirty or more Roman soldiers gather around the perimeter of the courtyard. They wear their leather breast plates and pteruges, the decorative leather strips around their waists over the authoritative red tunics of the Roman empire, and sandals with leather throngs that wrap around their calves. They are under Roman occupation.
ANCIENT EGYPT- AT HOME IN THE DRESSING CHAMBER
She is sent to her dressing chamber to be prepared for the wedding. The small room is just off her sleeping quarters. The room is windowless and walls are made of limestone. A small oil lamp burns brightly on the table. It takes a moment for her eyes to adjust to the low light.
A terra cotta bowl and a pitcher of water sit on the table. There are two small vessels on the table, one contains her mother's herbal soap and the other the precious oils adult women use to adorn themselves. Although she bathed earlier this morning, her mother's attendants wash her face and hands, brush her long dark hair before adding the perfumed oils. It’s only then she realizes, she is to be the bride.
ANCIENT EGYPT- HOME IN THE SLEEPING CHAMBER
Her mother cries out in anguish, then she kisses her daughter on the forehead before she leaves her dressing chamber. “The wedding will begin shortly. Wait here, and I’ll be back for you.” The attendants silently follow and the young girl is left alone.
She seeks solace in the sleeping chamber of her childhood. There are two windows high on the perpendicular limestone walls. The windows are high enough to let in some natural light but small enough to keep the room cool. The narrow sleeping pallet is covered with homespun linen bedding. It sits on the floor in the cool shade of the thick limestone walls. Handmade dolls and carved wooden animals from her childhood sit on a wooden shelf beside her bed.
The young girl throws herself down on the bed. Her body shakes with rage. How can this be happening? She can hear the musicians tuning their instruments out in the courtyard. Time is of the essence. She must think.
ANCIENT EGYPT- THE WEDDING IN THE COURTYARD
The music starts to play and there are voices in the courtyard. Her mother opens the door to her room. Again, she starts to cry. She is being married off to a Roman soldier. The wedding guests arrived while her mother was braiding her hair and helping her dress. There are a few wellborn Egyptians, and Jews from their community, but most of the guests are Roman soldiers, all dressed in their military regalia. They drink heavily of her father’s wine and gorge themselves at the table with little or no regard for her family's ritual or customs.
Her mother leads her by the hand. They follow her younger brother who carries a lit torch. The crowd quiets as they approach the banquet table laden with platters of fruit, grilled vegetables and grilled meat. The groom stands there. He laughs and jokes with her father. She doesn't even know his name. They have never spoken. But she knows who he is. His brutality is legendary. He is the vile and odious soldier from the granary that her brother spoke of. She has seen him beat the peasants when the sacks of grain, they bring in tribute to the Empire, fail to make weight.
A Roman soldier of rank officiates while the guests gather around the banquet table. The ceremony is brief and there are no prayers offered to the God of the Jews, only to the Roman gods. A cloud passes over the sun and she shudders as the groom clasps her hand, then forcefully kisses her on the mouth. She does her best to hide her revulsion.
She fills the silver chalice with wine and serves her husband. She feeds him the wedding dinner with her own hands. She plays her role flawlessly. He tells the other soldiers, “This one will make a good Roman wife.”
She cringes at the thought of it. The chalice is empty and she refills it again, and again, trying to postpone the inevitable.
Her husband will not be put off any longer. He picks her up to carry her to the bridal chamber. The music plays loudly, and the soldiers drink heavily and say rude and vulgar things as they pass.
Her brother looks enraged. He cannot protect her from this conqueror.
ANCIENT EGYPT- THE BRIDAL CHAMBER
Her husband is drunk. He picks her up and carries her to the bridal chamber. It has been prepared for them in a room at of the outer edge of the courtyard. There is a garland of cornflowers, poppies, and mayweed flowers woven across the threshold and yet it is quiet here away from the wedding celebration. A fire burns in the hearth, but it was lit hours ago and now there is only the soft glow of the coals remaining. The room is nearly dark. A wooden bucket of water sits on the floor beside the hearth. The marital bed made up with white bedlinens waits prominently on an elevated wooden frame in the center of the room.
In his drunkenness, her husband has difficulty untying the Herculean knot her mother has tied around her wedding gown. He drops his head and urgently struggles with the knot.
Now is the time.
From beneath her saffron tunic, she pulls the lashing and releases the knife her brother gave to her months ago.
In one quick move, she cuts his throat.
Mama and Da pick-up Fiona and bring her home. Mama fills the old claw foot tub bathes Fiona in the bathroom. She washes her hair then fills the tub with bubble bath. Time passes and neither Mama or Fiona know just what to say. The overhead light in the bathroom burns brightly as Mama kneels beside the tub. Mama wraps Fiona a thread bare towel and offers her another to dry her hair before she helps her into a flannel nightgown.
Mama tucks Fiona into her single bed in the bedroom she shares with her sister. The light on her nightstand burns softly as her sister gently stirs in the other single bed. Mama covers Fiona with an old patchwork quilt that Gram has made. The uneven plaster walls have been covered over many times with wall paper to help hold the many cracks together. The wallpaper is light yellow with tiny pink rosebuds. A golden glow from the bedside lamp on the yellow wallpaper fills the room. While the white eyelet curtains hang in stillness.
Mama sits in the old oak chair beside the bed. She pulls her rosary from her apron pocket and softly whispers the prayers to the Virgin Mary while fingering the beads.
HOME- THE LANE
It is the Sunday morning after the rape. It is spring in the Midwest. Fiona's family has gone to Mass and she has taken a walk down the lane towards the north fields. The sun is out and the blue sky is cloudless. The air feels crisp as she buttons up her old cardigan. There is hint of sweetness in the air as the gentle breeze mixes the fragrance of spring flowers. The trees are budding out a spring green, daffodils dot the lane, the apple orchard is in flower and white petals cover the lane like large white snowflakes. The cows have been put out to pasture and Da's horse grazes in an adjacent field.
Fiona has some thinking to do and walking helps. She knows she will be pressed for answers about what happened and more importantly who did this to her. She must decide how much to reveal and to whom. She must decide if she will press charges.
HOME-THE FRONT ROOM
When she returns home after her walk, the parish priest waits for her in the front room. The front room is where company is entertained. It is off limits to the children. Mama keeps the door closed so the room will remain clean and tidy if guests arrived unannounced like Father Brendan has done today.
This is Mama's room. It is feminine, and a graceful reflection of her, and her idea of beauty. It is the only formal room in the whole house. The old, cracked plaster walls have been covered with wallpaper bearing a small floral print of pink roses on an ivory background. The floral carpet of Grandma's is worn yet warms the hard wood floor. The furniture has been upholstered and reupholstered many times over in various shades of green. Doilies, hand-crocheted by Gram, cover the arm rests and the back of the chairs to help keep the furniture clean. The mid-day light streams through the white lace curtains Mama has hung in the front window. The front room is for keeping up appearances.
Mama has made a pot of tea and the china tea service sits on a hand-painted antique tray on the ottoman. Father Brendan sits in Da's chair, the seat of honor. Mama and Da are seated beside each other on the couch when Fiona enters. A bouquet of beautiful spring flowers in a crystal vase adorns the white painted mantle above the fireplace.
Fiona enquires about the flowers and is told they are for her. Father Brendan delivered them for Jamie Burke. He picked them from his mother's garden when he heard she was sick with the flu.
Mama and Da leave the front room and close the door behind them leaving their daughter alone with Father Brendan.
DOCTOR RYAN'S OFFICE
By Sunday evening Fiona has decided to press criminal charges against Jamie Burke for rape. At the sheriff's recommendation, her mother drives her to their small-town family doctor's office late for a rape exam and to collect the evidence necessary to prosecute.
Dr. Ryan's office is located at his home. He sits behind a large wooden desk a stack of manila file folders sit on the corner of his desk. His diploma from medical school hangs on the wall behind him. A desk lamp with a green glass shade sits on the desk and casts light on Fiona's open file.
During this visit to Doctor Ryan, Fiona acknowledges she could be pregnant.
RETURNING TO SCHOOL
Fiona is home for a few days after the sexual assault, when she returns to Bishop Foley Catholic High School her girlfriends meet in the corridor before school. The wide hallways are filled with teenagers dressed in their school uniforms. They hurry past the girls in order to make it to class before the bells rings and they are tardy. The walls are made of cinderblock painted with a high gloss ivory colored pain. Classroom doors are open and the teachers stand in the hallways waiting for their students to arrive. The linoleum covered floors have been polished and gleam under the overhead florescent lights. The girls gather around Fiona and pester her with questions about where she has been and why she didn't show up at the dancehall on Saturday night like she'd promised.
THE OLD FOLKS HOME
The Monday after she has been raped, Fiona visits her grandmother at the nursing home where she lives. Fiona pushes her grandmother in her wheelchair out to a picnic table behind the building where they can have some privacy and an early dinner.
It is late May and the picnic table is on the west side of the building. It overlooks a farmer's field that has been newly planted. The earth is a deep chocolate brown and the fields are filled with rows and rows of small green plants in parallel straight lines pushing making out of the rich Iowa soil. It is early evening and the sun sits low in the western sky. The sun still casts a warm glow over Fiona and Gramma as they sit and talk. Sunset is at least an hour away, yet the sky is already pink, and orange and purple. The trill of cicadas can be heard buzzing in the distance.
Intuitively, Gramma knows something is wrong. Fiona confides in her sagacious grandmother telling her about the rape in the alley behind the restaurant, and about her travel back to ancient Egypt where she lived another life as a different person. Gramma is a wise woman. Slowly and gently she helps Fiona dismantle her fears as they strategize how to move beyond it.
It is a bright sunny day when Fiona enters the red barn behind their white clapboard farmhouse looking for her father. The barn is dark and it takes a moment before her eyes adjust to the darkness. The barn is quiet this time of day as the cows and the horse have been put out to pasture to graze. The stalls have already been mucked and the smell of fresh hay permeates the barn. Just as she decides that her father is not here, she hears a noise from behind the old red tractor.
Given the events of the last few days, she panics until she sees it's her older brother, Kevin. He was hiding behind the old tractor reading girly magazines.
This is the first-time Fiona and Kevin have been alone together since she was raped. Fiona confronts Kevin for standing back and doing nothing while his friend raped her. In the midst of this volatile exchange their father walks in. He has heard enough. He picks up the horse leathers from where they hang on a hook outside the tack room door and beats his son.
Late one evening, there is a guest speaker at the library, so Fiona has settled herself in the quiet reading room. She is researching reincarnation and karma.
The reading room was recently renovated through a grant from the American Library Association. There is a waist high interior wall with sound proof glass up to the ceiling. The glass windows overlook the main library. The reading room has a six-foot wooden conference table and eight newly reupholstered red wool chairs. There is also on chair and ottoman upholstered in the same red fabric that sits in the corner by the door. The walls are painted a soft dove gray and the carpet is a deeper shade of gray. The room has a very contemporary feel given the library itself is over one hundred years old.
Fiona sits with her back to the glass wall that overlooks the collection and tonight's guest speaker. A dozen or so people have come to hear the speaker.
The silence in the reading room is temporarily disturbed as the door opens and Fiona hears the speaker's voice. The door behind her closes and the room goes silent again. She tries to continue her reading but intuitively feels she is being watched. When she looks up she sees Jamie Burke. He is sitting in the oversized chair with his feet up on the ottoman. He is stalking her.
GRADUATION NIGHT AT THE CHURCH
In many Catholic schools, graduation is held in the church and celebrated with a Mass. The girls who are graduating wear long white dresses and the young men wear suits and ties rather than the traditional cap and gowns. Every seat in the church is taken and members of the community stand in the back and fill the outside aisles half way to the altar. Father Brendan celebrates the Mass and Fiona is the Class of 1975's valedictorian. Therefore, it is her honor to deliver the graduation address.
Fiona addresses the parishioners from the pulpit. Her remarks leave her classmates, their parents, and everyone else in these rural farming community speechless. At least that is their initial reaction. Once finished, Fiona does not wait to shake Father Brendan's hand or to receive her diploma, instead she holds her head up and walks straight down the center aisle and out the door. Her powerful message followed by her dramatic exit stirs the heart of the congregation. The people of Tullymore Glen will to talk about Fiona Dolan and her courage for years to come.
Father Brendan sees it differently and makes a silent vow to avenge her blatant disrespect and impertinence.
THE TRAIN STATION
Fiona is leaving for Chicago the day after graduation. Her family has loaded up the old rusty station wagon to take her to the train station as she is leaving for college.
The train station is a one story red brick building with green shutters on the windows and green doors. It is a simple structure with a small office inside where an older woman sits behind an elevated desk where she sells tickets and answers questions about the train schedule. There are a few old wooden benches inside where travelers can find shelter from the weather. Two sets of tracks cross in front of the cement platform behind the station and there is temporary short-term parking in the front to be used for loading and unloading. The long-term parking lot is the dirt lot just across the street. There is a big red vending machine offering iced cold Coca- Cola in front of the building next to a metal bucket filled with sand and old cigarette butts.
Kevin is waiting at the station. He leans up against an exterior red brick wall of the terminal as their car pulls up. He wears his old leather bomber jacket, a pair of jeans, and a faint shadow of a healing bruise can be seen just below his right eye. He hasn't been home since his father beat him for his role in his sister's assault. Mama attempts to rush to her eldest son but Da calls her back. Instinctively he knows, Kevin has come to seek Fiona's forgiveness and see her off. He, too, has been changed by Fiona's graduation address.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 09 Jun 2018, 07:23
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Use wits, charm, and sheer grit to survive and escape dangerous situations, crime families, and controlling men.
SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.
Tommy, Isabella’s incestuous older brother, is the head of their mother’s Cuban crime organization and raised Isabella in the midst of gangsters. He controlled everything Isabella did and said. He had been giving her a steady supply of drugs since she was 13 to make her compliant.
It’s the 80s; Tommy partners with the Colombian Cartel, smuggling coke and quaaludes into Los Angeles. He uses his sister as a cover to smuggle drugs and move cash throughout her high school years.
Tommy gets Isabella extra high one night and asks her if she remembers their ‘secrets’ from when she was small. Isabella flashes back on a recurring nightmare about a man molesting her and saying the word, 'secret'. Her brother tries to rape Isabella right there, telling her that the man had been him and it had really happened. Thus begins her living nightmare.
Isabella runs from Tommy and her family by joining Naval Intelligence. However, from her crime family in California to her relatives’ crime family in New York City to the mafia in Italy, she can’t escape her demons. Every reckless decision she makes propels her into the next dangerous situation.
The Navy forces her to live a double life full of secrets, just as she did in her crime families and the men she loves are exactly like her brother: charming, powerful, controlling, and lying. Isabella is caught in web of secrets and lies.
THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title.
Criminal Affairs of the Heart (Series Title)
Circle of Secrets and Lies
Secrets and Lies
Wrong Way in the Fast Lane
FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Genre/Comparables
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Janet Evanovich – Her street smart writing, full of action, wit, and humor in the midst of danger, is comparable.
Teri Woods – Her true crime novels, especially the True to the Game trilogy, with their steamy romance, ruthlessness, and fearless heroines are comparable.
FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line.
A young woman runs from her abusive brother and his life of organized crime by enlisting in Naval Intelligence but everywhere she goes, she is drawn into similar situations that threaten her very existence.
SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.
Isabella adores her brother. He raised her. When he confesses his incestuous secrets and tries to rape her, her life comes crashing down. Isabella immediately runs but cannot escape from herself. Having known only loyalty to her brother and their crime family, Isabella makes familiar, life-threatening choices again and again.
Isabella leaves her dysfunctional brother and crime family in LA only to get involved with her aunt and uncle’s crime family in NYC. While there, she falls for Pete, a Greek “god” who works for a rival mafia family and accuses her of being a spy for her uncle. Isabella is forced to choose between love and family.
Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment.
In New York, Isabella’s best friend, Debbie, betrays Isabella’s family by going to the Feds. Isabella wants to kill Debbie before the mafia does.
In Navy boot camp, Isabella is the Master-At-Arms, responsible for the good behavior of all recruits. Because Isabella would never rat on anybody, she ignores one recruit sneaking out to rendezvous with her lover and gets disciplined for it.
Isabella is assigned to a base in Southern Italy where she once again gets involved with the mafia. The eldest son wants to marry her and make her into a compliant mafioso wife. Isabella is too independent and again thinks she can run. She wants out of the family, but the only way out is through death.
FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.
Isabella’s story begins in Burbank, California amidst the beaches, Hollywood, the studios, movie stars, and Colombian cartel drug smugglers. She visits Mission Bay in San Diego and hangs out with and goes water skiing with a bunch of Navy kids. After almost being raped by her drug-smuggling brother, Isabella decides to join the Navy. Isabella visits the Navy recruiters in the San Fernando Valley and takes her entrance exam in downtown L.A. She does so well that she is recruited by Naval Intelligence. However, she is placed on a delayed entry program while the government conducts her background check for nearly a year.
Isabella runs to New York City to live in her aunt and uncle’s large house in Queens, the base for their numbers racket. She helps her uncle pick up and drop money at gambling rooms in New York City neighborhoods. She meets and falls in love with Pete, a guy from a rival gambling operation. She begins working for Nick, the head of the rival, Italian crime family, which he runs from a hidden exquisite suite behind an Italian restaurant filled with mafia muscle. Nick suspects she’s a spy for her uncle and wants to kill her, but she convinces him she loves Pete and didn’t know about their operation. Pete breaks up with her but they eventually get back together and Isabella helps Pete run an underground gambling operation in the subway station using a flower shop as a front. Together, they open several after-hour gambling clubs and poker rooms for Nick in the neighborhood. The time comes for Isabella to leave for boot camp and Pete is noncommittal about waiting for her, but she promises to return to him.
Isabella goes back to California before she reports for boot camp to find that her brother has moved the family to Santa Monica. Her last month as a civilian is spent riding her motorcycle in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, and Malibu and hanging out with a new friend who lives on the top floor of his own building right on the Boardwalk in Venice Beach. The Venice Boardwalk is filled with artists, skaters, drum circles, and street vendors.
Isabella reports to Boot Camp in hot and steamy Orlando, Florida where she gets in trouble for not ratting on a recruit who violates the code of conduct. She then is bussed to attend the Naval Technical Training Center at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida. This is Isabella’s first time in the deep South. She rides her motorcycle to the beaches and over the Alabama state line to party, southern style. It is also her first time living in a dorm environment with Navy kids from all over the country. Although she can never fit in, the surroundings are pleasant. However, the discipline, control, and regimentation of the military are anything but pleasant.
Isabella receives orders to southern, Italy, the home of pizza, hot men, and the mafia. She arrives in Italy and has a 12-hour layover. She takes a taxi from Rome Fumicino airport into Vatican City. She strolls the streets of Vatican City and buys peaches from a street vendor. Isabella takes a long nap under a tree in the Vatican Gardens. She is at peace for the first time in years.
Isabella makes her connecting flight to Reggio Calabria, where she is stationed deep in the south of Italy where endless two-lane highways lined by acres of vegetation separate the base from civilization. She reports to the Navy dorms but soon meets fun-loving women who live off base in a villa. Isabella spends her first few month between the Naval Intelligence top-secret, underground facility with boring American men and idyllic Italian villas, small towns, crumbling castles, and the port city with exciting Italian men, especially the three Marseglia brothers. The main action occurs at the huge Marseglia estate surrounded by thousands of acres of agriculture, a front for their real business, illegal gun running and other criminal activities. They give Isabella her own cottage on a castle estate as part of preparing her to be the wife of the eldest son, Giuseppe, the future mafia Don.
In the secured black phone booth, deep in the bowels of the top-secret naval compound, Isabella receives a disturbing phone call from her incestuous brother and hangs up on him. A few weeks later, her family calls to tell her that her cousin died in an accident. Isabella is ordered to go back to California for the funeral. Her brother picks her up, takes her to his lavish beachfront condo in Malibu, drugs her, and rapes her. The next morning, she wakes in a pool of blood. She’s bleeding from her bottom and bloody hand prints are all over her body. A doctor tells her that she was pregnant and miscarried. She recovers during the month of bereavement leave, staying at her friend’s apartment in Venice Beach, and returns to Italy a changed woman. She will no longer tolerate abuse from controlling men.
She confronts Giuseppe, who accuses her of having an abortion, and tells him to leave her cottage and never come back. Giuseppe tells his father, who then visits Isabella and goes for a walk with her in the beautiful castle gardens surrounding the cottage. He finds out the truth about the miscarriage but he gives her one last chance to agree to be Giuseppe’s wife. She refuses, even though she knows that she will soon die, since she was told everything in preparing for her marriage. Giuseppe’s younger brother, Mario, who loves Isabella like a sister, is ordered to kill her. But will he do it?
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 09 Jun 2018, 22:44
1 – Story Statement
A support group for people who can’t stop disappearing inside their own fantasies has to find their missing leader.
2 – Antagonistic Force
While main character David and his fellow members of the Rehab for Escapists face mockery and bullying from the neighborhood, their biggest challenges come from within. They are addicted to their own imagined realities, disappearing inside themselves and missing their subway stops or nearly getting run over. Every obstacle they meet tempts them to escape inward, jeopardizing the mission to find their leader, a man who calls himself The President.
The group’s search leads them to The President’s sister, a fringe psychologist who hopes her work on escapism will finally earn her the recognition of the medical establishment, and who has been manipulating events from the beginning. She uses her brother’s delusions against him, and employs a thug to shadow the group, playing off their fear of institutionalization. Her ultimate goal is to force the group to live with her as her test subjects.
3 – Breakout Title
Rehab for Escapists
4 – Genre/ Comparables
Michael Chabon: particularly The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, first and foremost because of Chabon’s affectionate humor, which appreciates absurdity without spite, and pokes fun at his characters without denigrating them. His book is also an adventure story of a kind which relies less on violence than on navigating a landscape of unique and memorable personalities. Finally, the hardboiled detective story mirrors David’s Babylon fantasy.
Jonathan Ames: Wake Up, Sir!, in which the protagonist’s repeated misadventures are driven by a comic lack of personal awareness. The humor here is self-deprecating, vulnerable, and yet manages to uplift and achieve moments of beauty through the act of finding that humorous perspective.
5 – Conflict Line
When the group discovers that their leader has gone missing, David must take them on a search through a neighborhood that sees them as freaks, all the while needing to keep his escapist friends – and himself – firmly in the real world and out of the clutches of shady doctors.
6 – Secondary and Inner Conflict
In David’s mind, finding The President is a prelude to reconciling with his wife and daughter. His addiction to his fantasy life may have alienated them, but if he can prove that he’s responsible and in control, he might just win them back.
There are also a few inner conflicts here. First is David’s struggle to fight his addiction and stay grounded in reality. Then there’s his resentment of the group. He cares for his friends, but fears that always having to babysit them may cost him his chance to get his family back.
Finally, there is the conflict unfolding inside David’s fantasy world: missing scientific equipment and reports of strange phenomena provide his imaginary alter ego his toughest mystery yet.
7 – Setting
The main story takes place in Astoria, Queens, a neighborhood urban enough to offer a diverse set of characters, yet small enough to hold plenty of history for our group. From secret comic book shops, to the best diner in Queens and a dreaded pysch ward, David and the group are forced out of their comfortable self-seclusion to search for their friend.
There is also the setting of David’s fantasy life: a noir-ish version of ancient Babylon, where the street lamps glow with foxfire, and David solves the cases no else can. If Philip Marlowe drove a chariot and worked out of an office between the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, you’d have David’s Babylon.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 10 Jun 2018, 19:58
1. The story statement
My goal was to improve my life. I was 50 years old and living in New York City. I was desperate, underemployed, without savings, and in a dumpy overpriced apartment with a roommate. A friend offered to help me join a commercial truck driving union, provided I learn to drive a large truck. So I enrolled in a 75 day, out of state, commercial truck driving training program. Upon completion I would either return to New York City with newly acquired skills and join a strong union, or leave NYC and drive a large truck Over The Road full-time.
After I began, however, I discovered that the training program was extremely flawed and heartless. But that's life. I was going to complete the training despite the unnecessary complications and how exploitative.
I also realized that I was a square peg, and that I would never fit into the round hole of OTR trucking -- an industry that steadily chokes the life out of its drivers.
I would do whatever I needed to do to complete the training program and return to New York City and improve my life.
2. The antagonist
As soon as I entered the world of Over The Road trucking I was shocked to discover how difficult it was to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The problem was with the corporatization of the American truck stop and the demands placed on OTR drivers. Nutritious food is available, and sports clubs can sometimes be found, but the cost in both money and time is beyond the means of most drivers.
As for the driver demands, to earn an even meager income a driver needs to keep his truck moving for a minimum of eleven hours per day -- no excuses. The freight must move, and a driver is easily replaced. For an Over The Road truck driver planted behind the wheel it doesn't take long before joints stiffen, muscles deteriorate and fat builds to a dangerous high. For the OTR truck driver, maintaining health is almost impossible.
As a health-minded student-driver operating on a small budget I had to be frugal and creative, and overweight drivers in poor health earning a substandard wage -- the signs of failure and slow death -- surrounded me.
The antagonist seemed to be the corporate truck stop, and the trucking company I was training for.
3. Breakout title
Over The Road Trucking -- A Deathly Ambition
4. Deciding genera and approaching comparables
TRUCKING AMERICA is an autobiographical novel. It is an observation of the American Over The Road trucking industry, and its truck drivers.
It is like the political conviction, DARK MONEY by Jane Mayer where she explores billionaires influence on the radical right in politics, but also like the travelogue, TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY, John Steinbeck's autobiographical journey around the United States.
Trucking America is a critical and politically incorrect look at an industry the nation relies on daily. It is an opinionated, unapologetic, scathing look at the poor desperate souls at the bottom of the OTR heap and the system that exploits them.
5. The primary conflict
If I do not complete the commercial truck driving training program I will not get a union job in New York City, I will have no financial future, and I would have to leave the city. I would rather "get by" in a small town in the Midwest, than live in poverty in New York City.
6. Other matters of conflict
If I were unable to complete the Over The Road truck driving training program I would be unable to join a strong union with a pension and great benefits. I would be left with no financial future, no prospects, no money and no equity. I would be a 21st century American failure no different from the beggars who hang around truck stops. I could not live with myself.
My friend put his reputation on the line by representing me to the union president. I would therefore be letting him down as well. Furthermore, the option of staying with the company that I was training with and driving Over The Road was not an option as there was a near zero possibility to maintain my health. In my eyes 80% of Over The Road truckers were zombies in such poor health that a slow and painful death was imminent.
7. The setting
TRUCKING AMERICAN plays out on the American interstate highway system in a ceaseless flow of commerce, industry and people on every task and purpose. It is a massive collection of roadways that crisscross the nation from every point on the compass. It gets quiet, but it never closes.
I travel across the plains and over mountains, through deserts and along coasts; from boarder to boarder, I pass through tiny quiet hamlets, and the most congested metropolis.
The backdrop is an American flag placed at every headstone in a national cemetery, majestic trees in northwest California, and towering thunderheads off the Florida coast. It is filled with restaurants and truck stops, and wildlife and still life in a nation of awe and wonder.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 11 Jun 2018, 16:39
1. Story statement – convince a fearful witness to tell what she saw and then capture the killer.
2. Antagonist - George Barlowe is a computer genius and detective in the NYPD’s Narcotics Bureau. He has joined forces with a drug dealer to form a drug-dealing network and uses his position in the NYPD and a select group of officers around the city to protect the network and drive off competitors. As the network has grown, he’s become overconfident and smug, fed in part by his growing cocaine addiction. When a low-level associate of a former kingpin whom he sent to prison wants to join his network, he becomes paranoid and desperate to drive him off.
3. Title list: a) Security; b) Bury the Past; c) Blood on Belgian Block Streets
4. Comparables: The Last Mile; Murder in Edisto (either “meets” Redefining Realness).
5. Primary conflict – a female NYPD detective must first find the lone eyewitness to a mass shooting and convince her to come forward, then capture the hired killer (and whoever paid him).
6. Internal conflicts – Kim Brady is the daughter of one NYPD detective and the granddaughter of another. While her grandfather was a hero who died in the line of duty, her father had a checkered career and barely escaped detection and prosecution by Internal Affairs. Kim is driven to live down her father’s reputation and to live up to her grandfather’s legacy. She is engaged to a man who loves her and accepts her, but she is afraid of committing to marriage because as a young girl she witnessed her parents’ bitter divorce. She continues to feel deeply conflicted about her father – on the one hand, his blatant cheating was responsible for the divorce, and his rash actions regarding a childhood friend led to the death of that friend; on the other hand, he killed himself in the belief that staying alive would hurt her career. When Kim suffers a minor injury in a shootout, her fiancé begs her to agree to a date for their wedding, whenever she wants it to be. She agrees. But then, when her life is threatened, she lets the date pass without comment. It is weeks before they talk about it. When they do, she confesses to a new fear – that he may be in danger staying with her – and tells him that as long as they aren’t married, he can feel free to leave to save himself. He refuses.
Secondary conflicts – the lone eyewitness is a transgender woman named Leanne who is terrified of being outed. When the death toll from the shooting mounts, Kim’s lieutenant presses her to threaten the witness with naming her a person of interest. Kim’s desire to protect Leanne stems not only from her values, but also from her childhood friend, who was also transgender and whom her father exposed. Kim must decide whether to accede to her lieutenant’s demands or to request a transfer and be taken off the case.
7. Most of the novel takes place in New York City in 2013. The shooting occurs outside The Cove, a bar on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district, the small enclave on the West Side of Manhattan below 14th Street that has gone through multiple makeovers since the meatpackers left in the 1980s. The Cove was an early venture in the days following the cleanout of the bathhouses, sex clubs and crack houses in the early ‘90s. Since then, it has struggled to compete with the burgeoning boutiques, restaurants, and upscale clubs that gentrification has attracted, relying on what its owner likes to call its “badass reputation”. This draws young professionals from midtown and downtown in the early evening hours and a wilder crowd at the evening progresses.
Kim and her partner, Mike Resnick, are members of Manhattan South Homicide, headquartered on East 21st Street between First and Second Avenue, a short distance from Gramercy Park. She gets her coffee at Tal Bagels on First Avenue and meets with the antagonist’s partner there, sitting in the back under a TV with CNN droning in the background.
Kim and her fiancé live in Brooklyn Heights on Monroe Place, just off Clark Street, in the first floor apartment of a stately old brownstone with two very large windows that look out on a small magnolia tree. Kim loves basketball and her fiancé works for the Brooklyn Nets. Their apartment is festooned with framed photos of basketball stars past and present, including an autographed photo of Michael Jordan, who was Kim’s favorite player as a child.
When Kim is upset and trying to resolve her dilemma regarding her lieutenant and Leanne, she leaves her apartment and begins walking across Brooklyn, unaware of where she is going. When she finally stops to look around, she is on the corner of Jefferson and Marcy in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section, the first precinct in which she was posted as a rookie cop. Years of gentrification have taken the edge off what was once one of the most dangerous parts of the city.
Investigating the first victims of the shooting – three street dealers shot outside the bar – Kim and her partner visit first the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, then Parkchester, also in the Bronx, and finally Washington Heights in upper Manhattan.
Mott Haven is where Mike Resnick did his rookie tour. The line of city housing attached apartment buildings that they visit on East 140th Street look new and fresh at first glance – beautifully contoured wooden double doors at each entrance and freshly repointed brick. But closer inspection reveals windows with cracks covered by duct tape, others replaced by plywood boards, and most on the lower floors with iron bars in front of them. Mike recalls when one of the doorways featured a memorial to a young man named Moondog, who’d died while shielding a pregnant woman during a shootout. Inside the building, the hallways reek of stake urine and the walls are cracked and spray-painted with gang letters.
Parkchester is further northeast, a housing complex developed after World War II by Metropolitan Life as a planned community. The buildings are surrounded by winding roads, the central one is Metropolitan Oval, and the roads are lined with park benches, trees, and broad lawns.
In Washington Heights, the building is neater and cleaner than Kim would expect to find a street dealer living, but the apartment belongs to his older lover, who works two waitressing jobs and also has engineered her boyfriend’s entry into the drug trade. Her apartment is crammed with sequined dresses and designer shoes.
Kim’s witness, Leanne, a/k/a Andy, lives in a small apartment on Fifty First Avenue just off Vernon Boulevard in the Hunters Point section of Queens. The house is old and had been converted to multiple apartments long ago, and Leanne, who is originally from Northport, Long Island, loves this older area, with a quaint little café (Dorian) a block away and a nice French restaurant (Tournesol) just around the corner.
During their investigation, the vehicle that was used in the shooting is discovered partially submerged in Old Mill Creek, just off Jamaica Bay opposite Howard Beach in Queens. The surrounding meadowland is a gathering place for the homeless at night. A police tow truck has to make its way gingerly along a winding trail from the Belt Parkway service road to the edge of the creek.
When Kim and Mike finally locate the head of the drug operation, a chase ensues along Rockaway Boulevard, the main road that runs past Kennedy Airport. With the airport on one side and marsh land on the other – interrupted only by a freight company’s transshipment center – the fleeing vehicle turns up Brookville Boulevard, a two-lane road that winds its way through the marshes. Kim and Mike have to stop them before they reach the village of Rosedale at the end of the marsh, and force them off the road and into the spongy mud and tall grass.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 11 Jun 2018, 20:03
Assignment 1 - Story Statement
A story of judgement, love and acceptance in a society where women are forced to fight under cover of darkness for equal rights.
Assignment 2 – The Antagonists:
The central antagonist is Judgement, represented throughout the Witleigh years (1950-1962) by almost everyone, however those most affecting our protagonist, aside from himself, are:
1. Frances Griffith, an angry bitter woman who tripped and fell into a life that she hated. The most productive years of her life were spent as a line manager in the mill, a job she held during the war but she was forced out of when the men returned to the workforce. She feels particularly vengeful toward William Baltimore who had not worked in the mill before the war, but was given a job - her job as she sees it - simply because he is a man.
2. Claire McCauley, William Baltimore’s agent, and the force behind his success. She worked hard, amassing a fortune for them both through a career marketing his life and works, but while writing his biography, she willingly accepted the rumors that added spice, and sales, to the final work.
3. Neal Thompson, the man in the three piece suit who appears to walk off the stage - unscathed. He is a man that Andrew once liked and compared with Nick Charles: handsome, rich, and a bit of a drinker. But more about Neal later.
Assignment 3 -Breakout Title:
2. A Tree Called Ezra
3. Reconstructing Maggie
Assignment 4 – Comps:
1. The Cider House Rules by John Irving – As with Dr. Wilbur Larch, Ms. Patricia Costello looks forward to a more enlightened time when women will be able to control heir own bodies and their own lives.
2. Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo. Maggie Thompson, like Sarah Berg, fell in love with a family long before she loved the boy and when she is gone, he is left to wonder if she ever loved him at all.
3. The Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman The structure of the novel is similar, in that we are moving back and forth, to see how we arrived at today. Ultimately, both Ove and Andrew came to understand that: "It is difficult to admit that one is wrong. Particularly when one has been wrong for such a very long time.”
Assignment 5 - The Conflict Line:
Andrew Baltimore is devastated by the death of his first love, and is forced to confront the possibility that his own father was responsible: how many heroes can one man lose in a lifetime?
Assignment 6 - Protagonists Inner Conflict:
Difficult to separate primary from secondary – as the primary is the loss of his best friend, and the second is the possible loss of his hero. After a lifetime of anger and hurt, which motivates Andrew throughout his story of returned and, finally, coming of age, is the following paragraph, primarily the quote from the attorney’s letter:
But with this biography Carla decided that it wasn’t gossip anymore, and her decision, she felt, had been validated by the publisher’s response, by the single sentence that caused Andrew to react with an anger that first alternated with and then settled into fear: Three individuals, all in a position to know, have verified the information concerning the relationship between Maggie Thompson and William Baltimore.
Andrew lost his best friend and fiancée, Maggie Thompson, when he was 19; she died as a result of an illegal abortion. Andrew was not responsible for the pregnancy, but allowed many to believe he was, while feeling devastated as he was left wondering who his dearest friend had really been – and if they had ever been what believed them to be. Decades after Maggie’s death, a claim is made that it was Andrew’s father, the artist William Baltimore, that had been responsible for the pregnancy. Andrew looks back at his life with William, and with Maggie, seeing more with hindsight than he had seen years before. The following are excerpts from the visit William makes to his son’s Princeton dorm room, and the subsequent trip they took together back to their home in the village of Witleigh.
For the remainder of his life, Andrew would be able to step through the moments of that day. Sometimes scenes would rise up before him in response to stimuli that he can neither identify nor control; there is no hiding place, and alcohol only sharpens the images. From that day to this, Andrew doesn’t know what he was to her [Maggie Thompson] and can only be sure of what she was to him.
“Maggie was pregnant, Drew. Rachael Thompson took her to a clinic in the city, apparently not a very good one. She, she bled to death. I don’t want to tell you this now, but I have to. There’s a sea of ugliness in store for us all.”
“She was pregnant? How could she be pregnant?”” Andrew asked, realizing immediately everything that the question made clear. He turned away, he wanted to run away. He never wanted to know.
But William continued speaking.
“Rachael Thompson was arrested. I spoke to Pat Costello just before I came to your room. They’ve let her come back home, but it’s not clear for how long. Pat’s staying with her until her sister can come out from Indiana. There’s a lot of pressure on the police to put Rachael back in jail. They don’t know Maggie, or Rachael; all they know about either of them is this one thing, but it’s so easy for a single thing to wipe away everything that precedes it.”
“How it happened doesn’t matter,” William said.
“Enough!” Andrew said, closing his eyes and raising his palm – pushing it back and forth, pleading for him to stop.
William said nothing until the train left Providence, only thirty minutes from Boston’s South Station. Andrew noticed his mouth moving, before he heard his words; the mask line below his bottom lip echoed his sadness.
“Drew, you have to listen to me. You have to be ready for the nastiness. The press will come after you, and - you’ll have to decide what to tell them. This is Maggie we’re talking about, and we have to do everything we can to protect our girl.”
What does that mean? Andrew wondered.
“Should I tell them it was me?”
“You should tell them nothing. But – don’t deny her. Don’t ever deny her.”
Andrew would never discuss the pregnancy with his father again. They sometimes talked about the old Maggie and how they missed her – but never did they speak of the pregnancy or of her death. Andrew believed then, and would always believe, that his father knew far more than he was telling, perhaps even who was responsible. There were moments, when they were alone – walking through the Maine forests or out at his father’s local in the nearby village – that Andrew wanted his father to tell him, to blurt it out without warning – like ripping off a bandage. But he never asked.
Assignment 7 – Setting: Griffiths’ End
The novel takes place in a small neighborhood of 8 houses two miles south of the village of Witleigh, Massachusetts. The Griffiths, an extended family of farmers, initially owned all of these homes, but times change, and so did the neighborhood.
The book opens during WWII and ends during the Month of July 2004, however the principle scenes take place between 1950 and 1962.
Andrew Baltimore’s grandparents, his mother’s parents, bought the Witleigh house from the Griffith family in 1942. The house is one of three Victorians designed by Roland Griffith, grandson of the Griffith who first settled the land between Witleigh town center and the mill town of Beachwood, Massachusetts. Roland, it was said, grew up building tree houses with papered walls and elaborate cornices and then, before the Great War and the flu epidemic ran off with half the Griffith clan, studied architecture in Boston returning to Witleigh to design homes for his brothers, Morgan and Walter, with a final home for himself. These three houses were designed for beauty, rather than practicality, with the attention to detail that gives great Victorian houses an exquisite dollhouse quality.
Julian Costello, and his daughter Patricia, owned the Victorian built on a slope overlooking the neighborhood, the house Roland built for himself. Julian, a Witleigh native, owned and operated the first Ford dealership in the county; he would later become a close friend of William. Julian loved stained glass and since his only day off was Sunday, he often paid visits to churches on Sunday mornings, irrespective of service hours, and sometimes, in order to be better situated to catch the light, stepping on or across the feet of those who came for a higher purpose.
Julian’s daughter, Miss Patricia Costello, taught high school English at Witleigh High, and mentored Maggie. One of the main influences in Patricia’s young life was a maiden aunt of her mothers who operated a women’s clinic, hiding women from abusive husbands and supplying women with contraceptives when it was illegal to do to. Patricia would later blame herself for Maggie’s death – because of the word she had not spoken.
George and Bunny Hastings were the farmers who lived next door to the Baltimores. Both were readers, something that Caroline, surprised to find that she too had been judgmental, did not know until after Maggie’s death. George Hastings not only read books, but he often quoted from them, with Mark Twain a particular favorite. He would often paraphrase Twain with the line: “if x should die while I am in the neighborhood, I shall cancel all other celebrations to attend the funeral”. George’s favorite book, a novel by Jerome K Jerome, could always be found in one of the deep pockets of his overalls, and generations of Hastings dogs, male or female, were named Montmorency.
Edna Bishop, sister of Morgan and mother of Bunny Hastings, had never traveled farther than Boston, but there she marched with Margaret Sanger and worked with Pat Costello’s ‘Auntie’ in a woman’s shelter. At the ripe old age of 33, she shed tears of joy when she was able to cast her first ballot – unfortunately for a man who lost the election. Many of Maggie’s short stories were based on the exploits of Edna Bishop, and one referenced the 19th amendment:
In 1902 Boston Edison brought electricity into the center of Witleigh, and by the end of that year streetlights shone up and down Main Street. But electricity followed the telephone poles, and it was 1920 before they made it all the way down to Griffiths’ End. Mrs. Bishop proclaimed it a banner year for the neighborhood women: we got electricity in June, and then in September we finally got power.
Caroline Baltimore, naturally shy, assumed the worst of these people, and had as little as possible to do with them. They were farmers, but many were also politically active – without stridency - quiet self-effacing men and women who enjoyed their lives while understanding that the world could be a better place. The day did come when Caroline Baltimore learned that not all of her neighbors were as nasty as Frances Griffith, or as neat as Gracie Donlan - but that day did not come until after Maggie.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 12 Jun 2018, 02:46
1. Break the emotional chains that bind her and reclaim her dignity.
2. Marty, Julia’s ex-husband, is the primary antagonist. He’s driven by his narcissistic injury and vengeful rage at Julia for ending their marriage. He trains her to be afraid of him, and his reactions. Marty plays upon Julia’s weaknesses and continues to condition her to stay silenced. He creates arbitrary rules and punishments to keep her off balance and to perpetuate her fear. He complicates the story with his constant custody threats that he uses to control and manipulate her. Feeling superior, he acts with malice and contempt. Despite his claim to want to co-parent, Marty is oppositional and dictates the direction of every decision. He’s obsessed with Julia, stalks her, and has made it his mission to catch her making mistakes or breaking his rules. He has an exaggerated sense of self-importance and after years of belittling Julia privately, begins to publically criticize her. His goal is to prove Julia wrong for having left him and overlooks what’s best for their children in favor of trying to destroy her happiness.
3. Monday Girl, The Day That Owned Me, The Only Day that Matters
4. I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan.
Readers who love Terry McMillian will enjoy this book. Both contain memorable sympathetic mid-life female protagonists, but appeal to women of all ages. The two books feature a woman dismantling her past to redesign and claim a future of her choosing.
Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Readers will relate to a realistic view of the inner human condition—including its full-range of angst and sorrow—while welcoming the sprinkle of humor throughout. Both books read like a personal journal, containing the truth about modern relationships.
5. A magnanimous woman in the prime of her life examines the source of her dysfunctional relationships and struggles to free herself from her pernicious definition of love.
6. Julia believes Marty has control over her life and the power to take her children. She gives in to his demands rather than stand up to him. When he threatens to take their children from her home during their birthday party, Julia allows this to maintain peace, avoid Marty’s wrath, and protect the custody of her children.
If Julia loses Mondays with Nick, she believes she won’t exist. Due to the circumstances of her childhood, she was trained to believe that she must sacrifice herself—her wants, needs and opinions—not only to be loved, but also to survive.
7. Newton, a suburb of Boston with 13 villages, is home for Julia and her children. The small city lends itself to a variety of socio-economic differences; her ex-husband’s wealthy family in one village, the blue-collar man she left her marriage for in another. Steeped in academia, Boston and the surrounding suburbs contrast her hometown—the sprawling rural farm country of New Hampshire. The book is infused with iconic sights and events of this New England setting—the rowers on the Charles River, Boston Public Garden, the famous Heartbreak Hill of the Boston Marathon, Brook Hill Farm, Crystal Lake, the Chestnut Hill mall, the CITGO sign and Fenway Park, dialogue of the Boston sports teams including the Patriots, and the crowded Mass Pike. As a professor at one of the prestigious colleges, Julia teaches in the dance studio where much of the sub-plot and her transformational journey unfold. The story includes secondary characters from the South Shore of Boston. The seasons of New England weave through the timeline of the story.
Re: Seven Assignments - Critical (New York Pitch 2018)
Posted: 12 Jun 2018, 10:12
Cypher Crew: YA fiction
1. STORY STATEMENT
Five misfits fight their school administration over an unfair policy and a racist security guard using the teachings of hip hop and their civics class, only to discover that the real secret to lasting change is more simple, yet harder to accomplish, than they ever thought possible.
2. THE ANTAGONIST
The antagonists in Cypher Crew are:
1. The superintendent
2. A racist security guard
3. Student-council leadership
The superintendent is motivated by order and power. He condemns dissent and any challenge to his authority.
The racist security guard is similar. She is primarily motivated by power. She loves being able to call the shots and feel like she owns the campus she “protects.” She has a low-paying job and doesn’t get much respect outside of her job and seeks to offset this by feeling powerful during her 9 to 5. She resents black people because she perceives that they don’t respect order and because she believes they receive more handouts than her own demographic, Hispanics, receive.
3. BREAKOUT TITLE
The Feeling Campaign
Here’s Your Reason
Everything Happens for a Reason
In Her Hips
4. GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES
Cypher Crew genre: young-adult fiction
Cypher Crew is a hiphop Breakfast Club. The story is similar to famed YA writer Enid Blyton’s best-selling stories about boys and girls who face challenges as a group, but is edgier and for older teens. Cypher Crew also features an ensemble cast and is told omnisciently, just like in Enid Blyton’s books.
5. THE PRIMARY CONFLICT
Five misfits fight their school administration over an unfair policy and a racist security guard and as their safety and friendships are threatened discover that the real secret to lasting change is more simple than they ever thought possible.
6. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT
Primary conflict: The Cypher Crew (five high-school misfits) organize against their school administration and a racist security guard.
Secondary conflicts: The Cypher Crew members fight student council leaders who are selfish, shallow and short sighted.
Inner conflicts: The protagonists, the five members of the high-school group Cypher Crew, each have their own inner turmoils and those differ, but the turmoil they each share is a lack of confidence. None have been leaders before and all are outcasts in their own way. They’ve never been involved in school activities and are intimidated by standing up to authority. Some of the Cypher Crew members are intimidated by
their fellow classmates as well. They’re each walking a balance between wanting to do what they feel is right, but without causing too much discomfort in their own lives and friendships. As they story builds, they’re scared of getting expelled and at the end they fear for their lives.
As much as the northeastern United States is green and blue, the southwestern United States is brown and blue. And among the driest and the hottest of that southwestern expanse: Phoenix.
Brown dirt below, brown mountains far off, brown dust in the air, blue overhead, not a cloud to be seen most days. Dotted between the brown bottom and the blue top are three million homes and many more businesses made of white and pastel stucco, chalky drawings atop the dirt. The all-too-common strip malls are covered in stucco, houses are built close and covered in stucco, beige, white, tan, and also covered in stucco: more chain restaurants than in any other city in the USA.
Stucco stretches as far as the pavement that covers what used to be cactus-dotted desert that coyotes roamed. Wildlife has long since been pushed into the far-off surrounding mountains and the outskirts of town to make way for throngs of people who wanted a fresh start.
The manmade crust of blacktop covering the desert locks in the light, an urban heat island that’s no island, for the lack of H2O. From the air the city and its fields appear a patchwork quilt of rectangles and squares. The streets are on a grid, right-angles square as tile, mile upon same-looking mile, few curves to be seen.
Drive for an hour north, drive an hour east, drive for an hour south and see the same as what was seen. Urban sprawl is connected by brown dust and separated by grey cinder-block walls that surround three sides of nearly every house. How else to have privacy with your neighbor’s house eight feet away and a backyard small enough to bore a bug? The land is flat until the far-flung and treeless brown mountain chains.
Drive on west until the strip malls are farther apart and the housing developments are farther apart and the land lets up and breaths a bit, not covered in as much concrete, out heading toward L.A. And on those Phoenix outskirts, an old high school, one of the oldest in Phoenix: Tolleson Union High.