Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

A forum for writers in the Algonkian Writer Retreat to engage in writing assignments and further studies in the art of fiction writing.
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#26 Post by ChristineCW » 21 Sep 2016, 03:05

submission withdrawn.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#27 Post by james2016nov » 22 Sep 2016, 07:48

Speaking of writer's groups and writer's block... ... .9zujzysk2

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#28 Post by james2016nov » 05 Oct 2016, 00:59

Algonkian Writing Assignments for American by James J Houts

Story Statement:

A beautiful Chinese immigrant to America must overcome clashing cultures, human traffickers, underworld sex slavers, the false society of Hollywood, and a politically powerful ex-husband in Shanghai to be reunited with her teenaged daughter.

Antagonists & Antagonistic Force:

In New York Shinna’s green-card husband turns out to be a street thug gang member who tries to force her into prostitution.

In Los Angeles Shinna’s “perfect” boyfriend, a handsome and sophisticated member of Hollywood society, an aging child star without obvious income, turns out to be the same as her green-card husband.

Shinna is constantly battling against the men in her life who would use her, take her hard earned money, and prevent or delay her from bringing her daughter to America. And once she is able to bring her daughter to be with her in her apparently successful life, the perfect LA boyfriend turns the daughter to the dark world of drugs and sex and betrayal.

Green-Card – Shinna’s green card husband in NYC

Street thug gang member. Hip Hop culture and dress. A street hustler who Shinna gives $10,000 to marry her. His true personality soon threatens Shinna and her girlfriend, Sally. Shinna and Sally are from China and are newly arrived in NYC. Shinna goes to work as waitress in a China town restaurant, but Sally takes the more lucrative job in the massage business. Green-card abducts them, telling them they are going to work as his prostitutes.

Just when all looks darkest. The Chinese owner of the restaurant, with his friends and partners the Tong Gang, show up, beat Green-card, and free the women. Shinna and Sally are freed. The Chinese immigration agent, Snakehead, shows up again with the massage business job. Shinna swallows her pride and takes the job.

Later, Green-card kidnaps Shinna and Sally, with plans to put them out on the street. The Tong guys show up and kill Green-card. But his friends let it be known that they will take their revenge, prompting Shi and Sally to move to LA.

Andrew (Andy) Levenson – The handsome playboy

Levenson – as in the “Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale,” test for lack of empathy for others.

Rich boyfriend of Shinna Zhao when she leaves green-card husband, moves to LA, and starts her massage business. Shinna wants him because of his veneer of West Side society. He is in the Hollywood society because he was a famous child actor. His career faded and he has no obvious means of support. Later Shinna will discover he makes his money by providing drugs and prostitutes to famous Hollywood celebrities – think Charlie Sheen.

A worthless son of wealth, movie wealth. He is a playboy who spends his parent’s money until what he hasn’t wasted is lost in the 2008 Crash. We meet his mother and hear of his father – I want to use the Chinese terms for Father of Father (Yé Ye) and Mother of Father (Năi Nai), but this might be awkward. They are not the Diane’s true grandparents. Maybe use the terms for a kid from an earlier marriage?

Grandfather could have made is money in something that failed in 2008 – like Polaroids or pagers or real estate. But the movies would be better. They fall from wealth, father has a stroke, mother moves back east. Andy lives in a deteriorating estate in Brentwood or Pacific Palisades.

Shinna marries him finally and buys the estate, to win back the Daughter?

2008 – Levensons lose everything in crash. Andy meets Shinna. Shinna getting rich.

Breakout Title (3):

Goddess of Liberty
Golden Streets and Leaden Hearts
美国人 Mĕiguórén American

Smart Comparables (2):

How To Get Into Twin Palms (2012), Karolina Waclawiak
My New American Life (2011), Francine Prose

The Namesake (2003), Jhumpa Lahiri
The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), Gary Shteyngart
Saffron Dreams (2009), Shaila Abulla (New York, 9/11)
House of Sand and Fog (2003), Andre Dubus (immigrant destroyed by America)

Primary Conflict Line:

The primary conflict is Shinna’s battle to bring her daughter to America. Her salmon like determination to recover her daughter from her powerful ex-husband in Shanghai.

Protagonist Inner Conflict:

Shinna’s inner conflict is rooted in her Chinese culture; her parents need for children and grandchildren, her drive to be successful, to be seen as a rich person when she returns home for Chinese New Year.

Secondary Conflict:

Shinna’s fight against the evil underbelly of America, trying to stay afloat financially and emotionally, and her fall into the dark side of America for money and things. So different than Buddhist thought, but Shinna was raised in the godless world of communist China.


New York’s China Town:

Not the shinning city of hope Shinna expected, mythical with streets paved with gold, New York shows her its hard pitiless side, street gangs and crime, the sex trade and corrupt police.

Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley:

The true China Town of Los Angeles, the streets of the many freeway towns along the 60 freeway are lined with acupuncture store fronts, foot massage businesses, and great Asian restaurants. But behind the Chinese language signage lurks a hidden world, a culture more Asian than American.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#29 Post by KMLEATON » 14 Oct 2016, 04:14

This relates to project Mirabelle Series Book One

First Assignment: Mirabelle must discover Peter’s secrets to save her life and return home.

Second Assignment: Peter appeared from nowhere, his charm gripped the town and Lakeside College. His marriage to Mirabelle revealed the monster beneath the veneer, but only to her. When Mirabelle asked for help against Peter’s viciousness, he sensed it and returned home early to stop her. Before strangling her, he killed the dog who tried to save her. But she lived and fled the town he held in the palm of his hand. He her stalked her to finish the job. His past lives weren’t as good as the one he’d carved out for himself in Thomasville. She wasn’t going to ruin it for him, he’d make sure of it.

Third Assignment: create a breakout title (List several option, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed.

Almost Safe
Mine Alone
Alone Again

Fourth Assignment: Develop two smart comps for your novel Who compares to you? And why?

Louise Penny’s Series is a direct comparable to my series because both are cozy-esque with a harder edge. My heroine, Mirabelle, is older, somewhat flawed but esteemed for intelligence and determination as is hers, Gamache. In addition, her series deals with the ever present conflict of French vs English cultures and the morals involved thereof. My series deals with the morals of intrapersonal violence, the bread and butter of a forensic nurse. Both Penny’s protagonist (Chief Inspector) and mine are caught in the machinery of their trade, hers chewed by the police system, mine ironically marries an abuser and unable to get help. Our main characters are both better for and tortured by these experiences throughout the series.

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series is another comparable Rev. Clare Ferguson series. Her heroine’s tough background lends a rough edge to the cozy genre without the sex, gore or foul language which is very similar to my Mirabelle series. The setting in an out of the way town is also similar, trouble comes to her. And as in the Penny series, morals play a constant role.

Fifth Assignment:
Just as a forensic nurse evicts her new but abusive husband he attempts to murder her, erasing from her memory the clue to his criminal past which she must solve to reclaim her life.

Sixth Assignment:

Quilt and self-recriminations will torture Mirabelle because she did not recognize that Peter was a potential abuser, indeed a criminal, before she married him. She is a forensic nurse and should have known better. This is compounded by the fact that she is a forensic nurse and thinks she should know better. She feels anxiety over the effects the relationship had on her son, Bryan, even though he is grown, Peter came between them. While in hiding Mirabelle constantly fears Peter finding her and second guesses the motives of the few men around her.


Mirabelle has decided to surprise her girlfriends in Boston during their traditional pre-Christmas shopping trip. Presumably Peter knows nothing about the tradition. (but he’s stalked her friends and found out in an earlier scene).
Mirabelle, hears has an overnight bag and a dress slung over her shoulder as she ascends the hotel escalator. She hears her friends chatting in the lounge over drinks. At the top she can see Anne and imagine the feel of Anne’s hug, a welcome sensation after two months in hiding.
But she hears an all too familiar sound. A man clearing his throat and the rustle of a newspaper. It’s eleven at night, hardly a customary time to read the paper!
Her heart thudded in her chest as she turned her head. The paper lowered as the man turned the page revealing Peter’s medium brown wave and creased forehead.
At that moment Anne’s voice called out, “Irene! What are you …” (note Irene was her name prior to going into hiding)
The paper crunched to the floor. Peter jumped to his feet.
Mirabelle threw her dress at him and ran around the mezzanine to the down escalator cursing. Taking them two at a time.
Peter thrashed at the dress, cut himself on the hanger, made the top of the escalator as Mirabelle ran to the circular doors. “Stop! Stop!”
The bellman was still in her car.
“Please, please. I have to go. Now!”
“What the …?” But he jumped out.
Mirabelle put her car in gear as Peter bounded onto the scene looking back and forth.
Another car pulled in and the bellman headed towards it. Peter waited for the driver to emerge then pushed both aside and screeched after Mirabelle.
Mirabelle noticed the car behind her closing in, making the same turns. Could it be Peter? God no! She couldn’t just head back to Maine. I-90 was ahead. She turned right, west. She’d lose him, then head back.
But the Trans Am was on her tail, so close she could make out his silhouette in the mirror.
She changed lanes. He changed lanes. The highway was full of trucks. They were in front and on both sides of her. She was stuck. With Peter on her tail.
He was so close now.
Bump, bump. Sparks flew between their bumpers.
Her heart beat so fast and loud it sounded like a fog horn.
The sparks stopped for a moment. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Then started again. Bump, bump and the sparks. And the horns again, too. Peter backed off. Now she heard sirens and saw flashing lights.
Suddenly Peter wasn’t behind her anymore. She caught a sight of the car racing across an emergency turnaround and heading back east.
Her own speed reduced to the point she needed to move to the right lane. She looked to the right and the trucker there gave her a thumbs up. He hit his horn three times quickly, three longer and three more quick beats. SOS
Mirabelle let out a breath she didn't know she was holding, the trucker must have called the highway patrol. She returned the thumbs up and accepted the truckers proffered space to the right lane.

Secondary conflict involves Mirabelle’s shame and relationship wither friends. Although she has done nothing wrong, Peter manipulates her friends, most of whom she cannot contact during the major part of the story.

There are also direct conflicts between Sam and Anne, Mirabelle’s helping friends at home, and Peter, the antagonist.


The Nursing Department was abuzz as professors rushed to get their grades in. Peter made sure Anne was alone in her office but he left the door open on purpose, it would increase his pleasure and her discomfort.

Anne sat with her back to the door thoroughly engrossed in paperwork. “Tossing the knife on her desk he greeted her, “Good morning. “Putting a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t get up. I just dropped by to return something of your husband’s. SG, correct?”

Anne glanced at Sam’s knife and cringed remembering that he went for a walk the evening before, perhaps to Irene’s?

Peter leaned close enough she felt his morbid arousal. “Tell Sam turnabout is fair play. I know where he lives and I may take something of his someday.”
Final assignment:

Seventh Assignment: Here are some of the major settings

A The first scene opens in Mirabelle’s packed school bus colored SUV on the highway in a loud nighttime thunderstorm as she flees. She drives stuck between semi-trucks in at claustrophobic speed far faster than her comfort zone. Forced into the fast lane the storm throws a fire ball, the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s fire to the median. The air smells metallic air after lightening and her cat screeches from a carrier in the back, fur floating over the seat. Exhausted from nearly being strangled, her reflection in the rear view is a ghostly purple revealing a dark necklace of bruises.
The storm keeps her on the road far longer than she wants. But she’s afraid of not going far enough, mileage signs to Philadelphia appear through the blurry windshield. She’s terrified of driving, the trucks drift and her car drafts too close to them. But there are bright red NO VACANCY signs at motels exit after exit.
Finally at an establishment with a room, she digs deep into her purse for the precious cash for a flakey, seedy motel, normally rented by the hour. Its bed vibrates for six quarters. Doors open and close outside for hours into the night. She curls on top of her rain coat over the thread bare, orange bedspread.

B The storm is a pivot point to Peter escaping potential consequences of his attack, until he knows the coast is clear. He lands in a truck stop motel. We see his fancy car, hear country & western music, his emergency run kit, readily available alcohol and porn (nothing explicit), plastic cups to offend his delicate tastes, greasy diner, complementary computer access to avoid cluing anyone into his location

C Mirabelle hails from a small college town in Ohio, fictitious but is modelled after a real town. Significance is that everyone knows everyone, the college pretty much feeds the town economy, technology is way behind the times in law enforcement. There is no privacy. Male dominance is rampant. There is also a townie vs gownie syndrome, “those smart folks” yet their money is essential to the economy. People walk everywhere, leave their doors unlocked, unless they have something to hide or fear. The streets are lined with deciduous trees, the sidewalks old and swollen from harsh winters. You can walk across town in ten minutes. The campus has a party hardy mentality and the sports teams bring in revenue and attract about half the student population.

D Mirabelle stops at the Jersey shore. It is rich is allegory for thought, wind, sun, sea. Families, children congregate and give her pause to question herself and her future. From her she decides to hide along the sea where she used to live as a young woman.

E The drive up the coast to Bar Harbor is full of rich fall color providing flash back triggers to relate events that precede her flight. A night at a B&B in Camden, ME is filled with sights, smells of the tall ships, shops and life in a B&B. The allegory of a upscale Maine town is perfect to put a question in her mind as to how much had Bar Harbor changed in twenty-seven years.

F Bar Harbor ME during off season is a very quiet place with few establishments open including a single restaurant, the drug store, grocery, library and hospital Adding color to the story are a general store/tourist shop, The Maine Event, which attracts local youngsters during its erratic hours and the Song of the Sea stays open long enough to fill Christmas orders. Amy’s Diner, located two doors from Mirabelle’s apartment plays a role as a meeting place. It’s a classic old diner with chrome swivel stools with cracked vinyl, a counter that feels greasy to the touch no matter how clean it is. There’s no smoking except pipes. Old high backed wood booths along one wall have hooks for winter coats and the white and black linoleum on the floor is cracked. Amy wears a light pink uniform with a scalloped white apron (her grandmother Amy owned it too). The wooden phone booth in the back corner actually works with coins.

G Mirabelle’s apartment is located over Elsa’s Finer dresses which is closed for the season. The steps to her apartment are outside on the side of the building between the drug and dress stores. It’s a one bedroom with a claw tub in the bathroom and a tiny alcove for a kitchen. Elsa left furniture for her, the same stuff the weekly renters get during the summer. There’s an avocado phone, fridge and stove. The phone is for local calls only and stays in Elsa’s name. Elsa’s from New York and took cash up front no questions, she was in a hurry. Mirabelle qualified for the apartment by not being a fisherman.

H Bar Harbor proper has only about 3,000 year-round population. No one locks their doors. But from Memorial Day to Labor Day the populations swells tens of thousands and more when cruise ships are at harbor for hours at a time. She is long gone by then.

I Livingston is a locked (two locked doors thank you) residential psychiatric facility located deep in the woods along a country road. This is where Mirabelle finds work as an RN to get her through her time in hiding. It was once a state facility and still has one long-term resident from those days, Adeline Sommers. This old lady lends an air of frivolity and mystery to the place. As in most small Maine communities, its staff is fairly stable and very quirky. Staff dresses in street clothes as it is more comforting to psyche patients. All patients are required to get up and do something at specific times. No laying around in bed. The first person you see is Eden, the clerk, with short red curly hair, cat-eyed rhinestone glasses looking over the nurse’s station. A large heavy TV blares off to the left, in front of it two residents are constantly arguing over which program to watch and three others a waving at them to get out of the way. Another patient blows his breath on the window and draws curliques. An old woman with a walker pushes her way through the line of patients line up to the side of the station. In turn they open their mouths and stick out tongues to show they’ve swallowed their pills. The old lady crashes into a scrawny fellow at just his moment eliciting a stream of expletives from his bloody mouth. She takes advantage of the distraction and pockets three cookies from the lunch trays that had just been parked on a cart a few feet away. A black bouffant

J The central plateau of Haiti is where Bryan, Mirabelle’s son, is on internship and effectively in hiding from Peter. Colorful clothing, customs, and contrasts in wealth and happiness are alluring respite and additional isolating aspects to the book. The drumming and singing link to Mirabelle’s drumming in her apartment and the bits of “knowing” that both of them have. Bryan also knows the key clue that leads to finding out about Peter’s past but he doesn’t know it right away.

K Naples graveyard in a light breeze rain, about a hundred people present graveside when Mirabelle’s mother is buried. Bryan has also come from Haiti. Peter found the obit online and is lurking behind an angel monument. It is sweltering hot but Mirabelle still feels cold.

L Tess’s kitchen on Christmas evening, a narrow galley style room with two doors. The turkey is in the oven and Mirabelle has just arrived to reclaim her dying cat, left in her carrier by Tess’s front door, and have a holiday dinner with Tess and Steve who are elbow deep in flour and spices. Pie ingredients are on the counter. An iron skillet is on the stove for the vegetables in a few minutes. There’s plastic wrap, measuring cups, a pie tin and scissors are scattered on either side of the sink under the window. It’s dark outside and little light comes through cottage window because the main house blocks the street light. The fluorescent overhead light flutters erratically. (This is the setting for the Peter finds Mirabelle scene, all elements are in place.)

M A rare sunny April afternoon in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Washington, just outside Emily’s Sweets and Treats. There’s a light breeze creaking the placard “Expresso Baked Goods” back and forth over the landing. All Mirabelle could think of was the red velvet cupcake and a latte, aromas that wafted out the open door as she leaned her bike against the side of the entry landing. Luckily it was warm and she worn a light sweater or she wouldn’t have felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. (This is setting in the Epilogue when Mirabelle learns Peter has been shot trying to escape prison, again!)

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#30 Post by KMLEATON » 17 Oct 2016, 01:18

Borrowed Guilt - Second Project

First Assignment:

The wife of a murdered, prominent Chinese business man confesses but Mirabelle, a forensic nurse, was at the scene of the crime and tracks down the real killer through a multi-generation ring of human trafficking.

Second Assignment:

A force of class, money, status and cultural insecurity in a milieu of capitalism in a foreign land, which promised freedom and fortune, holds generations of Asians in captivity at the hands of a well-oiled organization. Broken promises of fortune, complicated with added debt; fear of deportation intensified by lack of legal papers or papers held by snakeheads, lack of language skills and familiarity with local customs and finally fear of retribution upon self and family comprise an overwhelming psychological and physical prison. Each individual held in productive captivity is worth approximately $300,000 a year and control of an organization managing hundreds or thousands of human beings industriously employed is a very powerful, lucrative, and enviable position to an intelligent and unscrupulous person. These forces are at play seen and unseen throughout.

Third Assignment:

Borrowed Guilt
In Search of Mie and Min

Fourth Assignment:

Louise Penny’s Series is a direct comparable to my series because both are cozy-sequel with a harder edge. My heroine, Mirabelle, is older, somewhat flawed but esteemed for intelligence and determination as is hers, Gamache. In addition, her series deals with the ever present conflict of French vs English cultures and the morals involved thereof. My series deals with the morals of intrapersonal violence, the bread and butter of a forensic nurse. Both Penny’s protagonist (Chief Inspector) and mine are caught in the machinery of their trade, hers chewed by the police system, mine ironically marries an abuser and unable to get help. Our main characters are both better for and tortured by these experiences throughout the series.

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s series is another comparable Rev. Clare Ferguson series. Her heroine’s tough background lends a rough edge to the cozy genre without the sex, gore or foul language which is very similar to my Mirabelle series. The setting in an out of the way town is also similar, trouble comes to her. And as in the Penny series, morals play a constant role.

Fifth Assignment:

A forensic nurse must reconcile the motives for a murder confession by the revered wife of a prominent Asian business man with the unsolved disappearance of young women, and more …

Sixth Assignment:

Primary Conflict Scenario:
Marshall Klallam and Mirabelle gaze over Harborview waiting room at the forty-odd Asians sitting lethargically grasping the abdomens.
The Marshall grunted as he forcefully placed his hands on his hips. Neither of them took their eyes off the scene.
Mirabelle spoke in a loud whisper, “John, this is no coincidence, I’m sure these must be the folks from the bus at Sebastian Lodge.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right. What else are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking it’s not food poisoning, it’s too late for that. Food poisoning only takes about twelve hours and this is thirty-six.”
“Yeah, so what do you think?” The Marshall turned to her.
Mirabelle’s left eyebrow went up and she started to move towards the clerk at the window.
“Hey wait, tell me first.” John grabbed her arm.
“Well, they only had time to eat the geoduck appetizer, so I’m thinking amnesic shellfish poisoning, demoic acid. The timing is right. We need to tell the physician, because if that’s what it is, these folks won’t remember that they even went on a bus anywhere, let alone ate the same thing.” She headed straight for the window.
John held back for a moment then followed her but stood back until he heard the clerk giving Mirabelle flack.
“I can’t let you talk to the doctor. Do you know how many people are back there? Look at how many are waiting! He very busy!” The clerk started to close the window.
“I know what might be making these people sick.” Mirabelle leaned in and held the window open.
Marshall Klallam held out his badge. “She knows what she’s talking about.”
The clerk paused. She sat down hard on her chair, her big bottom creaking it’s old springs. “Whidbey? You from the island? What you doing at Harborview?”
Mirabelle answered. “All these people got sick there. They ate at the same place. Let me talk to the doctor, I’m a nurse and I was there.”
The clerk looked over her dark black glasses. “Why you not sick, huh?”
“I got there late, but let’s not be too late today, get going. Please get the doctor!”
Her chair groaned again as she popped up and disappeared.
The Marshall and Mirabelle headed to the door that lead to the Emergency Department treatment rooms. Mirabelle leaned close to the Marshall, “You know this is pretty coincidental and convenient to have everyone forget that party ever happened.”
“Shellfish disease, that’s red tide, right?”
“Yeah, has there been one lately?” Mirabelle pulled out her phone and typed it in. “Not since two years ago.
“Can someone get it and taint the food?”
“You can get just about anything for research, so I’d say yes. We’d have to track it down. For now, you call the ME and have her test for it okay?”
“Right away. So this is planned … and likely big?” Klallam turned as the doctor emerged from the ED doorway.

Secondary Conflict Scenario:

Anne, of course, knew Mirabelle had taken a position at the University of Washington. She’d given her a stellar reference and wished her well. Yet as her best friend and boss for fifteen years the phone call was emotional and left Mirabelle drained. But now they had a definitive plan.
Mirabelle was conflicted about leaving Anne and Sam too. The couple had been her family for so long. They’d held her together during the Peter debacle. But they also understood she just couldn’t go back to Thomasville, she couldn’t live it the house where Peter had killed her beloved Bovier des Flanders and tried to kill her. If it weren’t for that the offer on her house would have upset her because she’d raised Bryan there since he was nine years old.
The offer stipulated the house would be torn down and the property converted to commercial, a bakery and bistro. They loved her rose garden and planned to place outdoor tables there in the late spring and summer. Perfect! Everyone in Thomasville knew about Peter now, that he was a serial killer. The entire town felt betrayed by his charm. So the only thing to do was raze the place.
In May she’d go back and Anne would help her sort, sell, and pack up what she wanted. They’d make it quick. She didn’t want to endure the looks of pity or shock on townspeople’s face. But there’d be Bryan and Jenny’s wedding shower at Sam and Anne’s. Then on to Boston for their wedding, but she didn’t want to stay there very long, either. She’d go back to Bar Harbor with Tess and Steve who promised to be at the wedding. Her apartment there still had a few belongings. But that wasn’t the point.
There was some unfinished business. Addy extracted a promise on her death bed. Mirabelle would keep that promise. Along an old deer path the ground under Turtle Rock was no longer frozen. Now it would offer up what Ben had buried there for Addy over sixty years ago.
Finally, Mirabelle would come back to make her new home. Home to the cottage on Crescent Lane overlooking the Salish Sea.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment. Will this involve family” Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

Final Assignment:

A “Is it open?” There were no lights on in the second story and only a few showed below the roof of the front entrance, a deep deck with a few wood steps. The moon was just coming up and the sun lent little light over the Salish Sea from the eastern shores of Whidbey Island. Their rental car crunched into the parking lot practically devoid of vehicles. Bryan looked at his mother in the passenger seat.
“Hard to tell. I’d think there’d be more cars, it’s supposed to be the best restaurant on the island!”
Bryan drove further into the lot and the sound of loose lines flapping on an empty flagpole started Mirabelle, she grasped the door. “It’s kind of spooky. There are no lights in the parking lot.”
“It’s a rustic sort of place.” Bryan pointed to some cabins off to the left. I bet hey rent those out.
“They used to, I heard it’s just a restaurant now, on the Historic Register.”
The lodge is made of rough-hewn logs, aged over a hundred years.
The interior is divided into two dining rooms, separated by double French doors. There are antique lace curtains on the windows. The tables are normally set with formal white table linens; in the opening scene they are set with gold linens.

There is a small garden in the back with a single tall light few azaleas, lavender and a hibiscus. There are several large Madrona trees curving gracefully over the roof. An articulated floating dock stretches forty feet into Penn Cove at the end of a path through the garden.
B Mirabelle’s cottage is at the end of a long gravel driveway off a busy main road on Whidbey, it’s located quite a distance from towns on purpose because Sam wanted her very secluded away from people until Peter’s trial was over (this is a carry-over from the first book” The cottage has a small front porch with two old white metal chairs. There’s a complete kitchen along one wall of the living area. A small dining table is in front of a window on the opposite side from the bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen is set off from the sitting area by the back of the couch and a parson’s table. There’s one arm chair and a coffee table which almost touches the hearth of a wood burning fireplace. The front door has glass top divided into six panes covered by a yellowed white curtain. The bedroom has a queen –sized bed and a tall narrow bureau and no closet. The bathroom has a claw-footed tub and a pedestal sink. She pays no rent as it is gratis from an old law school mate of Sam’s.

C Whidbey Island Marshall’s office is two rooms in the

D The aft deck of the Clinton Ferry with views of Mt Rainer and Mt. Baker on a clear day. There is sensation of wind and sun on face. Also other settings of ferry crossings later in the book that give a sense of lost time and frustration in not being able to get somewhere fast enough. It’s used both ways at different times in the book. Also it’s used as a place of contemplation and a view point for decision, especially for where the protagonist wants to live permanently throughout the series.

E University of Washington Campus is used both the severity of an office (a Dean’s office) to relay the protagonist’s history and the beauty of the quad when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and the air is fresh and everything feels so alive and beautiful. This ties in so wonderfully to a feeling of rebirth and acceptance and support.

F A commercial private bus depot underneath I-5 downtown Seattle in early morning when buses are being cleaned and washed. Lots of traffic over head. International District to the east upscale downtown/skyscrapers and Puget Sound to the west. Everyone is busy/busy and suspect of interlopers.

G International District an apartment over a tae Kwando studio on the left and a butcher shop on the right (ducks and chickens are hanging in the window women with plastic sting bags hanging on their arms are standing at the counter). People on the street in western wear, some in stylized Asian garb, most speaking Chinese or some English with an accent. There’s a dark interior stairway leading to the apartment door. A loud woman answers the door, her response to questions is to throw a small blue book at Mirabelle.

H Emergency Department at Harborview is filled with Asian people a few blacks. Ambulance pulls up with someone on a gurney with IVs running and pushes through the door.

I Squad car with radio squawking Marshall and Deputy and Mirabelle are all present. Rain pouring down, windshield wipers going hard, traffic is slow. Good setting for transition and discussion of facts.

J Just inside the spacious entry of a penthouse suite just west of I-5 a rack of elegant slippers at indicate the custom of kutsu o mugu is practiced. Already it’s apparent the furnishings are exquisitely appointed with fine Asian flavor and fine art. There is a circular staircase leading wrapped around a koi pond with a lite waterfall to the pond below. A lady’s maid seats you and offers a delicately fragranced tea before the lady of the house appears. Light string music is played in the back ground and fresh flowers are tastefully arranged in several places.

K The Island County Jail on a dreary day has long dark hallways secured at each end. The interview room has a table and chairs permanently bolted to the floor. The prisoner is chained by the waist and wrists to the table. A panic button is located close by the interviewer. A no contact rule is strictly in place. There is no recording done by the facility but he interview can request permission of the prisoner. A guard stands just outside the door and peers in intermittently.

L Seattle Federal Courthouse Judge’s Chambers is a moderately-sized room, full of power, rich with tomes and vibrant with feelings and full of anticipation before a sting operation. Double meanings are assigned to some interchanges which are obviously part of a well-oiled machine, one that has been waiting for a chance to strike.

M An Asian produce store in front of the proprietor’s home. It is full of color, fragrance, bustling with activity, a place where much gossip is passed, the proprietor is highly respected in the community. It is a public place, safe for confrontation for the proprietor. The home behind is where two young missing girls where to live.

N The Place is an unknown location where young girls were taken from the boat and never heard from again. It is where the sting operation occurred. In reality it is several locations, massage parlors and nearby apartments in small complexes that have been revealed by captured gang members.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#31 Post by CraigArchibald » 20 Oct 2016, 02:19

Algonkian Homework

1) Story Statement

Ron Winslow, a mysterious stranger, must save Rebecca Strong and use her secrets to destroy a high tech conspiracy dedicated to world domination.

2) Antagonistic Force

As winter falls in 2021 Rebecca Strong is on the run from Will Hunter, who leads a syndicate that controls Chicago and plots to enslave the civilized world. Rebecca’s deceased grandmother Ruthie, the last member of the Weather Underground, was the driving force in Hunter’s rise to power, but she had suspicions about his reliability. The bitter old woman left Rebecca with secrets that could empower her to seize Hunter’s kingdom and destroy the conspiracy, but also with doubts about her own courage and self-worth.

Will Hunter, revolutionary, drug lord and Ruthie’s partner in crime discovers that Rebecca is a danger to the syndicate’s plan for conquest. She must be neutralized to preserve Hunter’s luxurious lifestyle and advance his messianic ambitions, which draws him into conflict with Winslow whose mission is to save Rebecca and stop the rise of Hunter’s social media dictatorship. Antagonistic force is the battle between Winslow and Hunter to control Rebecca’s secrets and defeat or establish the tyranny Hunter intends.

3) Breakout Title

Kingdom of Smoke

Secrets of a Dark Heart

Shadows and Smoke

4) Comparables.
Kingdome of Smoke is a novel of speculative fiction that answers the question, what if a person were sent back from death to resume life as an instrument of salvation? What would be worth saving and what difference can he make?

Comparable works of speculative fiction include Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winter, out this summer, and Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy, first published in 1976 and reissued this year in a new edition by Ballantine.

Winter’s novel, released in July by the Mulholland Books imprint of Little, Brown and Company, imagines a United States in the twenty-first century that did not fight a civil war to end slavery, and in parts of which slavery is still legally practiced. Underground Airlines is an updated reference to smuggling slaves to freedom in alternate history America. It was an Amazon Best Books selection for July.

Piercy’s book is a classic of the speculative fiction genre, which tells of a young woman visited by a time traveller sent from 2137 who shows her a future world of equality, environmental purity and universal self-actualization. He also frightens her with a vision of an alternative society of grotesque exploitation. The heroine of the novel tries to tip the balance between these two fates.

5) Conflict line

Morally flawed characters contend with each other in a constantly shifting battle to control secrets that will determine a young woman’s survival and the fate of the free world.

6) Inner Conflict and Secondary Conflict

A dozen years after his death Ron Winslow resumes his former life on what he believes is a quest to reform his conscience, but he soon discovers he is on a mission of profound purpose. Rebecca Strong is running from Will Hunter, who was selected by her grandmother to be Rebecca’s mentor and guardian. Instead he becomes Rebecca’s enemy as he learns of secrets she holds that threaten his empire and ambitions.

Winslow must penetrate veils of deceit and fear that guard the girl’s dangerous secrets in order to save her and what remains of civilization from Hunter’s unfolding conspiracy. Secondary conflicts arise when the purposes of Ron’s mission are at odds with the interests and intentions of other characters, including Rebecca. She believes her secrets can protect her, while Ron comes to understand they are connected to a menace with larger consequences.

A central conceit of the plot reveals inner conflict. The hero should have learned from the errors and omissions of the life he lived before his violent death. He is instructed by a scavenger of souls to resume his life so that his character can be assessed as he battles dark forces in a country losing hope. Is he virtuous or must he become virtuous, and when must virtue be abandoned to achieve his purpose? These questions set the terms of inner conflict.

The stakes of Winslow’s mission are higher than he originally believed and he is required to use every resource and tactic available to battle his antagonist. He must deceive Rebecca, sacrifice his friend Norm and finally reach accommodation with Hunter to achieve his purpose. Ron’s conscience, the ostensible reason for his return to life, is a twisted jumble of compromise, rationalization and corners cut, which turns out to come in handy.

7) Settings

The grim heartland of a disappointed America a half dozen winters from now is the setting for Rebecca’s flight and Ron Winslow’s quest. The story begins with Rebecca, who fancies herself a feminist Jack Kerouac, reduced to hiding out at a sleazy motel in the roughest part of Denver, preyed upon and protected by the raffish characters who inhabit the neighborhood.

She meets Winslow who sets in motion a chain of events that take her to a posh political fundraiser, an ominous conference in a suburban office park and through a harrowing escape in an airport shuttle. She flashes back to her chaotic childhood at her grandmother’s bungalow in the treacherous world of Chicago’s South Side, and ultimately must return to that city for a confrontation with Hunter.

Winslow’s journey begins with his murder by a deranged man while escaping from a panicked mob, and necessarily takes him through death and back to the material world. His imagination of limbo portrays the shabby Disposition Office where a soul scavenger offers him a chance to resume his life. His return to Denver through a quirk in the physics of relativity lands him in the heart of Colorado’s capitol where he meets his supervisor Norm and is introduced to Rebecca.

Politics, rough weather, rural landscapes and dismal cities in winter comprise the setting through which Ron must quest. Lonely farmhouses, cozy jazz clubs, majestic hotels and a splendid mansion overlooking Lake Michigan texture the story. Ron is a man of humble origin who has lost touch with his heritage grounded in the broad plains between Chicago and Denver.

His quest takes him through this austere land to rediscover his conscience. Winslow has become a man of the world, two worlds in fact, and has acquired a taste for fine things and soft living. He must re-establish his connections to the fundamental truths lived in the heartland to have any chance of saving us from tyranny.

Book Jacket Precis and Art

We create the future with every choice we make and that is reality for Ron Winslow who returns through a quirk of relativity to a disheartened future America in winter 2021, a dozen years after his death. He can alter the future if he makes the right choices to save Rebecca Strong, a reckless young woman on the run from a sinister benefactor. She leads Winslow to a plot that will establish a dictatorship based on social media, big data and alienation as instruments of control.

Kingdom of Smoke is a land through which Ron must venture where social media is becoming the prevailing reality and celebrity is the coin of the realm. His case officer equips him with secret bank accounts, an encrypted smart phone and special documents that confirm his identity, but photographic images of his presence cannot be allowed.

Winslow and Rebecca ultimately confront Will Hunter, the leader of a syndicate that controls Chicago and plots extinction of the last vestiges of personal autonomy. The story resolves in betrayal and sacrifice, but the struggle between freedom and tyranny continues. Kingdom of Smoke presents choices that will create our future and reveals the consequences of choosing wrong.

Cover art could be a dark castle flying American flags shrouded in smoke and flames.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#32 Post by dbrandin » 21 Oct 2016, 21:55

Assignment 1: Story Statement

Years after LAPD Officer Henderson was absolved of using excessive force, he must defend himself against civil rights charges brought by ambitious prosecutors exploiting the fury over the Rodney King beating. (31 Words)

Henderson’s badge is a MacGuffin in this story.

Back Cover will close with this question: Is justice possible when Justice is corrupt?

Elevator Description: The Justice Department launches the War against Police when it seeks a trophy LAPD badge to appease the outrage over the Rodney King beating. (24 Words)

Assignment 2: Antagonist Plots the Point

December 4, 2015. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Louis Aranda tops the short list to replace the current AG. A small Cuban-American, Aranda has lusted for the ‘top cop’ job since growing up, bullied, in a racially charged neighborhood in Chicago. Waiting in a trendy bar to receive White House confirmation of his nomination, Aranda reflects on his trumped-up civil rights prosecution of an LAPD policeman, which he brought during the Rodney King unrest. If his misdeeds are exposed, it could deep-six the nomination. He remembers his ethical dances around the law, from law school to the prosecution of the cop. That case had fundamental weaknesses, but it satisfied Washington’s political objectives to appease the public and launched his career. As he waits for the call from the White House, Aranda toys with his favorite artifact, Henderson’s badge. He remembers how he and a federal judge forced the cop, after he was imprisoned, to resign. Aranda was never certain he could trust the judge, but his death mitigated the risk. When a message arrives from beyond the grave, Aranda realizes he may have begun the ‘War against Police,’ and the cop he jailed was the first casualty. (198 Words)

Assignment 3: Breakout Titles

Federal law 18 USC 242 makes it a crime for a person acting under color of any law to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

[N.B. Willfulness is a fundamental element of this civil rights crime. In Ferguson, e.g., DoJ conceded the lack of willfulness led to dismissal of charges against the police officer.]

1. Under Color of Law (Subtitle: The First Casualty in the War against Police)
2. The First Casualty
3. Willfulness

Assignment 4: Comparable Work

This novel falls in the genre of crime fiction/police stories and thriller—legal thriller. The first comparable below is non-fiction, but reflects the intense public interest in the issue of excessive force, police behavior, and the role of the Justice Department in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago. While the 2016 elections have captured the press for the moment, police brutality, excessive force, DoJ, Police Consent Decrees and police prosecutions, as well as BLM issues and inner-city politics, will undoubtedly return to dominate the media.

As a ‘police story,’ considerable attention is paid in the novel to police practices, detail, and jargon. Weapon and vehicle descriptions are accurate. As a ‘legal thriller’ the story questions whether Henderson will go to prison; can the government convict him given the weaknesses in the case? Can evidence that the victim was at a gang fight, where he might have been injured, come to light?

1. War on Cops, H. MacDonald (6/16). Nonfiction with tremendous publicity about police shootings
2. Unreasonable Force, K. Eade (2015) political and legal thriller
3. Anatomy of a Murder, R. Traver (2005) cunning prosecutor (similar story line)

Assignment 5: Conflict Line

(Protagonist) An honorable cop in 1992 struggles to keep his badge as a junior prosecutor exploits the Rodney King outrage and manipulates a trial to launch his career. (27 Words)

(Antagonist) The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, in 2015, expects the president to nominate him to replace the retiring AG. Most threats to his appointment have been eliminated, but one vulnerability remains, a manipulated prosecution of the protagonist. As he waits for the confirmation, his worries his practices during the litigation will be exposed and destroy his ambitions. (58 Words)

Assignment 6: Inner Conflicts


After charges are filed by the federal prosecutor, Officer Henderson and his wife must consider several options that are highly conflicted:
1. The government offers a ‘diversion proposal’ to drop the charges, if Officer Henderson will surrender his badge and resign from LAPD.
2. There is a technical consideration—the police chief has said Henderson can keep his badge because the charges are only misdemeanors.
3. The conflict ranges over several topics as Henderson discusses it with his wife:
3.1 If he accepts the deal, how with they live? His job is his life.
3.2 Will his wife accept his decision?
3.3 What if he’s wrong and it’s a mistake?
3.4 He’s innocent. How could a jury find him guilty?
3.5 In multiple investigations, LAPD found no intent or willfulness. Isn’t that enough for an acquittal?
4. The trial is likely to overlap the Rodney King trial beating in Simi Valley. The California Supreme Court has changed the venue of the city trial from LA to mostly-white Simi Valley. The public is outraged and fuming. Henderson and his wife must decide whether to ask for their own Change of Venue.
4.1 Although he’s charged in federal court, Henderson must worry about the reaction of the media, which was outraged when the LA judge told the Rodney King cops prosecutor, “Don’t panic. You can depend on me.” Did this poison the public environment?
4.2 Could he get any justice in Los Angeles? Would the judge grant a change of venue? If he had to appeal how much would it cost?
4.3 Will the Police Protective League cover the cost of an appeal?
4.4 What is the judge’s reputation and history about charges against cops?

5. During the trial the prosecutors make it clear that if Henderson elects to appeal a conviction, they have backup felony charges they could bring against him. These are even weaker than the original trumped up excessive force charges, but because they’re felonies, they present a greater risk.
5.1 The original charges from 1986 are misdemeanors. Maximum penalties are one year in prison. Should he accept the sentence and drop any grounds for appeals [there are several]?
5.2 After the verdict but before sentencing, the jury foreman writes that the jury never found, nor considered, the question of willfulness. Will the judge direct a verdict of not guilty? If not, why not? Should he appeal based on this letter?
5.3 Same issues with respect to costs of an appeal.
5.4 How long do appeals take? Can he work while under appeal?
5.5 Would the judge grant bail during the appeal process?
5.6 Should Henderson simply accept the sentence? Retain his badge and return to the job after completing the sentence?
5.7 If he goes to prison, will the prosecutors make his life miserable in order to force his resignation or will they let him out without new charges? Can he get the felony charges dismissed?


1. The antagonist has his own set of conflicts. In 2015, the major conflict is whether he will get the president’s nomination to AG. This depends on whether his misdeeds from the trial against Officer Henderson surface. In the novel, it is those actions which raise conflicts during 1991-1993.
1.1 Is Aranda really at the top of the president’s list for nomination?
1.2 How long will it take to get a decision? This leads to many scenes in the ‘trendy bar’ where he ruminates over the trial.
1.3 Did the judge, who had a complex relationship with Aranda, and who frequently showed signs of a conscience, keep any records that could bite him?
1.4 Did the U.S. Bureau Prisons keep any records when the prosecutor and judge meddled in Henderson’s sentence?
1.5 There is a FOIA demand about Henderson submitted by an investigative journalist. Does Aranda need to worry about it? Will the journalist go to the Federal Depository and study the trial files? The grand jury documents?

2. During the trial in 1993 Aranda had a boatload of problems and conflicts:
2.1 Washington told him it wanted a conviction. What if he lost? Would he still get to Washington?
2.2 Would it be considered vindictive if he brought charges just before a five year statute of limitations expired?
2.3 He discovers a hidden FBI 302 interview from 1986 and other documents which indicate one or both of the victims, and witnesses, in 1986 and 1987 lied to LAPD investigators, IAD, and the FBI.
2.4 Should he tell the judge?
2.5 Should he share this information with defense?
2.6 Can he use these witnesses in grand juries and in trial? Will the judge get angry if he finds out Aranda has been devious?
2.7 Will the defendant appeal?
2.8 His felony charges are weaker than the original charges. Should he use them? Will his second chair be offended and drop out if he brings the charges? Will the defense capitulate?

3. There are some secondary antagonists and conflicts. An assistant chief of police (LAPD) wants to exploit LA City Charter Amendment F to reorganize LAPD for political purposes. The judge is persuaded to assist Aranda for racial reasons and comes to struggle with his conscience and the question of redemption. The president of the Police Protective League doesn’t want to spend any money on appeals. Aranda’s bosses, the U.S. Attorney and the Assistant Attorney General, are Republicans and, during a Republican administration, they don’t want a Republican to lose the trial—so they give the job to a Democrat, Aranda.

Assignment 7: Settings

The U.S. Attorney’s office and the federal courthouse on Spring Street in Los Angeles, LAPD Headquarters in 1986 (Parker Center and its Parking Lot), Louis Aranda’s Department of Justice office on E Street in WDC, a restaurant in Sherman Oaks, and the law offices of Henderson’s lawyers in Pasadena appear frequently in the novel. The precipitating incident, a chase of assumed car thieves, takes place on Valerio Street in Van Nuys and is described in detail. Other scenes around West Los Angeles, North Hollywood, and Malibu, include dog fights, foot pursuits of drug dealers, and home invasions, and are used to highlight Henderson’s career as a policeman. A bar in Potomac, Md., Clyde’s, is used as the ‘trendy bar’ setting, where Aranda waits for his nomination and reflects on the history. The denouement is set in Arlington National Cemetery and on the Francis Scott Key Bridge over the Potomac.
Here’s an edited and concatenated paragraph from the novel describing a spot on Valerio Street in Van Nuys that surrounds a parking lot where the principal foot pursuit took place:

The neighborhood buildings were outfitted with defensive materials. Chain bars protected windows. Iron gates surrounded the parking area. Piles of dog shit punctuated the asphalt. The tarmac was littered with rubbish and beer cans. Residents hovered outside. Hispanic and African-American men drank beer and smoked, or just relaxed on their decks. Music blared. Like the neighboring blocks, a complex stench of urine, puke, Chile peppers, and Tequila, filled the air. Wafts of marijuana smoke drifted by. Dogs barked in the distance.


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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#33 Post by BarbaraHay » 27 Oct 2016, 23:42

Assignment #1: Story Statement

Save my husband's life and keep the family together.

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Joined: 13 Oct 2016, 23:18

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#34 Post by BarbaraHay » 27 Oct 2016, 23:53

Second Assignment: Sketch of the Antagonist

The antagonist is the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He hates strong women. He is very conservative in his views. He speaks slowly and deliberately and expects everyone to do what he says.

Third Assignment: Breakout Title

Bad Faith

Fourth Assignment: Comparables

Erin Brockovich
The Rainmaiker, by John Grisham

Fifth Assignment: Conflict line

When Ron's employer, the Catholic Archdiocese of OKC, denies him the medical care he has been promised, he and his wife take on the biggest battle of their lives in an effort to get the liver transplant Ron needs to live.

Sixth Assignment: Inner conflict of protagonist

As Ron's health deteriorates, Barbara struggles to make sense of the huge betrayal by the Catholic Church. Her entire belief system has crumbled.

Secondary conflict is the struggle to hold the large family together with Ron being unable to work and his job on the line.

Final Assignment: Setting
The story is set in rural Ponca City, Oklahoma; Dallas, Texas; and Oklahoma City, OK.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#35 Post by ShenmenStories » 08 Jun 2017, 19:41

First Assignment: Story Statement

Make right her family’s darkest secrets and return home.

Second Assignment: Antagonist Force

It’s the 21st century and 16-year-old Jordan Kane has just begun to discover the veil of American patriarchal society designed to slight her life’s ambitions because she is female. Having been purposefully knocked unconscious by a rival horsemen who competes with her for a college scholarship, Jordan time travels to the Civil War and discovers that not only is she considered property with no civil liberties, she is engrossed in a brutal slave society that is fighting to the death to keep women and black people enslaved through oppressive legal proclamation and a new Confederate Constitution. As she travels the embattled fields of Virginia, Jordan is forced to undergo imprisonment, physical abuse, and threats of death when she steps beyond a women’s ‘place’ in southern society and the expectation that she will support slavery without question. If she remains docile and agreeable, she will be protected. What will Virginia’s genteel men of money, Confederate military, and paddy wagons do if they discover her Union espionage and participation in the Underground Railroad? Jordan’s cunning mind, survival skills, and ability to keep her sanity are challenged by outbreaks of battle, famine, violence towards people of color, women, and children, and soldiers and civilians gone rogue? She herself must become a warrior and in order to survive, she must put aside her longing to go home, to be with her family, and the unyielding fear that she may never return to the 21st century.

Third Assignment: Breakout Title

Awaken the Warrior
Shadow Warriors of Civil Unrest
Arise the Warrior

Forth Assignment: Genre and Approaching Comparables

Young Adult Sci-fi historical fiction

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler meets The Hunger Games.

Fifth Assignment: Conflict Line

Having time traveled to the midst of a Civil War battle in 1862, a teenage girl has no idea how to return to the 21st century as she embarks on a treacherous journey to her ancestral home in Virginia in hopes to elicit the help and protection of her long ago family; if they will indeed accept her.

Sixth Assignment: Inner Conflict and Secondary Conflict

Jordan Kane is a Caucasian teenager who has been raised in an ethnically diverse neighborhood of Washington DC’s affluent community. The daughter of a 4-star General, she is surrounded by military and political people of great influence. Having privileges due to social standing, ethnicity, and opportunity, Jordan’s knowledge of the white washed history she learned in high school gives little understanding of the brutality of slavery and the oppressive rules/laws that females must live by in 1862. She quickly realizes that lying, plotting, deceiving, and the ability for her to ‘kill or be killed’ are critical for her survival. These skills of deception and violence are inner conflicts as she has been raised to be honest, compassionate, and direct. The longer Jordan remains in the past, the more lost and weak she feels. Courage and strength become fading virtues she thought she possessed. Good versus evil are not easily defined and through her actions and words, she becomes unrecognizable to herself.

Jordan also struggles with abandonment issues from her father being deployed for most of her childhood, his emotional detachment, and her mother’s anxiety/depression from being married to a man who compartmentalizes their marriage roles: father works, mother takes care of all other family concerns.

Throughout the story, Jordan meets dopplegangers that look like people from her present day life. They have no recognition of her during this time period but their 21st century personifications play significant roles in her present day life. This causes tremendous confusion and challenges.

Scenario of Secondary Conflict

Catherine’s voice strained in her attempt to convince Ginny of the change in household arrangements, “Victoria needs you. Thomas brought Sara from the field.”

“Then who gonna dress Jordan? That field hand don’t know nothin’ bout dressin’, manners, or bout bein’ a house servant.

She gonna be handlin’ Jordan and not the other way ‘round.”

“That’s where you come in,” said Catherine, her head tilted to one side.

Despite Ginny’s resistance, Catherine instructed her to train Sara on being a body servant, house servant, and companion.

“But she full grown,” exclaimed Ginny, “You ain’t gonna change a field nigger when she dat old.”

“She’s all we can spare.”

Jordan rounded the corner from where she had been eavesdropping. The women quieted and said their good mornings with plastered like smiles.

“Is there something I should know?” asked Jordan.

“You all puffy. Let me take a look at ya,” said Ginny, as she dipped a cloth in water and tried to apply it to Jordan’s face.

Catherine stepped forward, her dress swishing beneath her stiff corset as she crossed the room.

“We have a surprise for you,” said Catherine delighted, “Let’s join Thomas in the parlor.”

A woman shrieked through the back door. Her wails of resistance grew louder. Bodies struggled. Thump. The smack of a hand slapping flesh echoed to the second floor.

“I don’t want to be in no big house!” Another slap and a shriek of pain fell upon the terror rising in Jordan.

“What’s goin’ on down there?” Ginny ambled her way down the stairway and shouted, “Standup. You gonna be meetin’ your lady.”

Catherine followed, “She hasn’t been washed and her hair is uncombed!”

“You told me to bring her up here,” shouted Thomas. “And that’s what I done.”

Shaking with each step, Jordan descended the stairs.

“Go on back up. We gotta gets Sara ready to meet you,” shouted Ginny, straining to hold the arm of the girl sitting crouched in a corner. She hid her face in her filthy skirt made of burlap.

“Maybe I can help,” Jordan insisted. The air stiffened.

“See I’s told you, Ms. Catherine. This one don’t know nothing about bein’ in the big house and Miss Jordan askin’ how can she help,” Ginny replied, shaking her head. “This gonna be a heap of trouble.”

Jordan carefully approached Sara who sat with her head hidden in her dress.

The old woman looked at Jordan, “That ain’t no way to manage a field hand.”

The girls knees were scared and she had scratches down both forearms.

“She gonna get the best of you,” insisted Ginny.

“Jordan!” snapped Catherine, “stand back!”

“Hello, Sarah,” said Jordan as softly as she could and introduced herself.

Thomas shrugged in the hallway.

“This is ladies’ work,” he declared with disdain and left the house.

Sarah’s back arched under the touch of Jordan’s hand, her body tense like a shotgun trigger ready to let go a round of ammunition.

“I ain’t want ta be in no house,” she gritted. She lifted her head and stared eye to eye with Jordan. Her face was hard and she spat a wad of saliva. The spit slipped down Jordan’s forehead.

Jordan gasped. Her feet fell from under her. She slid backward on her bottom, her feet pushing her away from Sara.

Blood pulsed hard through her veins and it felt like thunder had struck her heart. Her hands flailed to keep her upright.

“Kimberly. You—you’re…Kimberly!” The words swelled in her throat. Sara’s demeanor softened at the sight of a white woman scampering from her presence.

“Miss Jordan, that ain’t no Kimberly. This here’s Sara,” said Ginny.

“That’s enough, Jordan,” Catherine said in a curt voice. “Get off the floor.”

A curve of her lip revealed a smile bubbling on Sara’s face.

Ginny insisted Jordan go upstairs while she prepared her ‘body servant’ to be introduced. Jordan declined. She would not hide in her room. Her breath strained. She had to figure a way to deal with this. The girl looked like Kim. She gathered her wits and stood up.

“I will help,” insisted Jordan. She felt like she was drowning as she mustered the last bit of air in her lungs.
Ginny gasped.

Catherine snapped, “You will not.”

Jordan knelt in front of Sara, “What would you like to do?” Sara looked exactly like Kimberly, right down to her light emerald eyes and streaks of gold in her thick braids. Could this be her friend? Was her mind playing tricks, like with Tristan and his resemblance to Scott? And Thomas? Was her brain blending every day life with her shreds of wishful thinking?

Sara raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips. Ready to pounce, her fists clenched hard against the dusty wooden floor.

“We’re going to have to figure how to work this,” directed Miss Ginny as she walked between the girls.

Ginny stood over Sara, “Now wash up and put on ya house clothes.”

“Miss Ginny gonna show me,” replied Sara between gritted teeth, her eyes narrowed at Jordan in disgust.

Seventh Assignment: Setting

The story opens on May 5, 2017, Jordan Kane is competing for a polo scholarship. A fellow horseman purposefully smacks the back of her helmet with the head of his polo mallet in order to injure her and remove her from the competition. Flying through the air, she is caught between two horses and is hurled to the ground. Her lung collapses.

When Jordan wakes she finds herself in the middle of a battle. The American Civil War landscape provides ample setting for tension. Taken prisoner, Jordan convinces General Stonewall Jackson that she has been separated from family and must return to Middleburg, Virginia (her ancestral home). Jordan rides with the ‘Stonewall Brigade,’ then meets a young confederate soldier who is ordered to escort her the rest of the way to Middleburg. He has a questionable past and he becomes Jordan’s love interest. They stay at a Confederate refugee camp, pass through Luray and witness a slave auction, and spend the night on a mountain top with enslaved people escaping north.

Upon arriving to Middleburg, Jordan learns that her ancestors are in England. She must find work so that she can pay for the hotel where she stays. She earns money by entertaining both armies. This offers some humor and lightness in the story. Both Union and Confederate officers ask her to spy for them. She meets black entertainers who either work for their owners or for a percentage of their pay. Historical black entertainers will be included.

The Second Battle of Manassas rages through the town and she helps with the wounded and dying. She meets well-known military historical figures throughout the story.

Her family returns. They own a planation with over a hundred slaves. She convinces them to let her stay at the house. Secrets, lies, treason, dirty politics and unscrupulous international dealings take place at the estate. Jordan becomes aware of the Underground Railroad that runs through the western end of the property. Historical leaders of the Railroad are included.

Dopplegangers from her 21st century life are weaved throughout the novel and play significant roles in both time periods.

The night before the legalization of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jordan and a group of enslaved individuals plan to escape north but are stopped by an abusive plantation owner set on killing everyone.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#36 Post by ninamckissock » 06 Sep 2017, 20:34


Which secrets would you protect to your grave? If you get close to having to reveal it/them, would you include all the details honestly? Who would you reveal them to? Why? Is getting caught or changing world history as we know it a valid reason to reveal the secret? If revealed, Billie--a WWll female undercover pilot I knew, was confronted with missions she knows may have killed her and altered the course of the early war on Guadalcanal, South Pacific. Treated like a "curiosity" was dangerous--she was forced to have female genital mutilation, had to go undercover as a male bomber pilot, flying the broken airplanes to repair facilities...


Billie's conflicting inner thoughts--her battle with unrealistic gender roles, and suppressing her talent and intellect, is one of her antagonists. The Mother Superior who manipulates her emotionally and physically, the priest on Guadalcanal who does nothing until the end, and the young Japanese soldier who seduces her with kindness, then returns to kill. It seems to be a story of the license one is allowed to take during wartime. (Who knows how it will actually turn out!)


1. At Ease. (It's a military term. I want to have the subtitle In the Arms of a Woman, but I realize this is long. The "woman" reference is that one of the main characters is a First Division Marine and as I form this book, I've discovered that there are five females he gets involved with, who make him into a man again. They reorient him to life, love, humanity.

2. In the Arms of a Woman. (Stop laughing)

3. Freggio. (This refers to the scars monsignors purposely inflict on their young female lovers faces so no one else will want them.)


I have a question. Most of us are either wrong or don't know our TRUE genre. I'm ambivalent to do this assignment. I have a feeling it's Military Historical Fiction. Don't people kinda make up a genre sometimes? With my first book, I sat on the floor of a massive B&N, took photos of the books I thought were my comps, researched the literary agents, then queried them. Took weeks.

Okay. Here's my comps as of now:

1. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

3. A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by Amor Towles


At Ease by Aurora Faria (my pseudonym)
Having taken over her deceased grandfather's crop dusting business when she was fourteen, twenty-four-year old high time pilot "Billie" is reluctantly accepted to teach navigation to the British pilots in Terrell, Texas. She falls in love with a student and sets forth on dangerous flying missions to the South Pacific to deliver a message and arms. Billie learns a lesson about the exempt rules of war, the common people who affect the outcome of war, and the entrenched societal beliefs about gender roles.


Primary conflict: Being a female within a male environment. It wasn't about proving herself--she had self-confidence; it was about downplaying and following the gender rules as she landed in many countries with different gender rules. My book opens in 1998 and she's living and working for her niece. Billie wants to live her life without sharing the secrets, but a box arrives...
And she is forced to share all but one secret with her niece.

Secondary conflict: Billie falls in love for the first time in her life when she is twenty-four. He's a British pilot she taught and when he's deployed to Northern Africa, they put a plan together to meet. She ferries B-17 bombers and other fighter planes across the oceans, has a few mishaps, is captured and released...

Inner conflicts: Learning about love, loyalty, having been protected all her life and how the realization that you must face your grief, that enemies come in seductive disguises and that love stays with you forever. No matter what.


The Setting:

First chapter is in a small town in Maine, at a greenhouse behind a bakery. First person POV. She's old.

Terrell, Texas. Teaching the No. 1 British Flying Squadron. She's twenty-four years old.

Crop-dusting outside Durango, Colorado where she was a young girl.

Departing for flight from Newfoundland, Atlantic Ocean, Glacier, Ireland. Emergency landing on glacier. Fixes bomber hydralics.

Porto, Portugal. Meets displaced Jews from Poland. Picks up message.

Landing in Morocco. Flight to Guadalcanal.

Meets the nuns, the convent, the school. Japanese and US Marines. All Hell breaks loose.

The last chapter is unknown, but I want her home and old. Perhaps dying in a hospice and a nurse figures something out.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#37 Post by modoud1950 » 21 Oct 2017, 23:11

Algonkian Assignments 11-01017 Conference

Assignment 1 – Story Statement:

My journey to freedom from a life of unending sadness meant facing my inner fears and learning how to fall.

Assignment 2 – Antagonistic Force:

At the age of nineteen, I was thrown into the fire of the Vietnam War. By the first week, I experienced: The death of a man at the end of my gun barrel, the death of a friend, and the death of my innocence.

I had grown up in a very stoic and pragmatic atmosphere, with parents who taught me to value self-sufficiency, a strong work-ethic, good manners and a very limited display of emotion. From the time I was quite young, I experienced an on-going conflict between what my heart and body yearned to feel and how I had been taught to act. Now I had the added the burden of another human being’s death.

Finally, after a serious flirtation with death in my late thirties, I found my way back to a spiritual path I’d explored in my teens and this time I was unwavering. Though I drew from the wisdom of many traditions I felt compelled to chart my own course. Step by step, it led me to a place that I had never been before, one that relieved me from the constant smoldering fire of doubt lying within and change my life forever.

Assignment 3 – Create a breakout title:

1. Falling Into Freedom
2. Freedom from Myself
3. Learning to Fall

Assignment 4 – Comparable:

1. Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield (1996) – A guide to reconciling Buddhist spirituality with the American way of life addresses the challenges of spiritual living in the modern world and offers guidance for bringing a sense of the sacred to everyday experience.

2. Loving What Is by Katie Byron (2002) – In the midst of a normal life, Katie became increasingly depressed, and over a ten-year period sank further into rage, despair, and thoughts of suicide. Then one morning, she woke up in a state of absolute joy, filled with the realization of how her own suffering had ended. The freedom of that realization has never left her, and now in ‘Loving What Is’ you can discover the same freedom through The Work.

3. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron (1996) – How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect. Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined. Drawing from traditional Buddhist wisdom, she offers life-changing tools for transforming suffering and negative patterns into habitual ease and boundless joy.

4. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006) At 31 years old, Elizabeth Gilbert was educated, had a home, a husband, and a successful career as a writer. She was, however, unhappy in her marriage and initiated a divorce. She then embarked on a rebound relationship that did not work out, leaving her devastated and alone. After finalizing her difficult divorce, she spent the next year traveling the world. She spent four months in Italy, eating and enjoying life ("Eat"). She spent three months in India, finding her spirituality ("Pray"). She ended the year in Bali, Indonesia, looking for "balance" of the two and fell in love with a Brazilian businessman ("Love").

Assignment 5 – Conflict Line:

Having lived the life he was supposed to live by working hard, serving his country, and being a father, Michael grew increasingly unhappy with the state of himself. With the dark cloud of unhappiness resulting from past decisions that led to wanting to embrace death, he finally decides to commit to finding freedom from his life.

Assignment 6 – More Conflict:

How does one run away from themselves?
How does one reconcile killing another human?
How does one forgive themselves?
How does one accept their life, by not running away from it, but by going through it?

Assignment 7 – Setting

1. Big Sur, California in the early 1990’s (where the trip begins and where I face death)
2. Southern California in the mid-1960’s (brief history of growing up)
3. Fort Ord, California in the late 1960’s (Basic Training and my screw-ups)
4. Vietnam in 1969 - 1971 (where death came at me two ways - me killing others and others trying to kill me)
5. Northern California early and mid-1990’s (Back from Big Sur camping trip and risking it all to learn about myself)
6. New York City, New York 1990 (where I conquered some fears and gained confidence in my abilities to lead)
7. Sedona, AZ late 1990 (where I learned about the power of intent. Learning how to let my heart/spirit have a say in my actions, not just my mind)
8. Gaia House Newton Abbot, England 1998 (where I sat in silence for 90 days and leaned to see things as they are, not how I am)

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#38 Post by Shannonsmith » 24 Oct 2017, 00:55

Achieve revenge for the death of her mother.


Khane is handsome, at times charming, and a born leader. His followers willingly brand themselves with the letter K so they can proudly wear The Mark of Khane. However, he is also greedy, opportunistic, and while she waits for the opportunity to destroy him, the bane of Amelia's existence.

Assignment 3: BREAKOUT TITLE

The Love of Broken Things
The Mending
Killing Khane


Genre: Women's Suspense
Tana French's Into the Woods
Diane Chamberlain's The Silent Sister

Assignment 5: CONFLICT LINE

Even if it delivers a death blow to her only chance at love, Amelia will have her revenge on Khane for killing her mother.

Primary Conflict:

A young woman falls in love with the son of the man who killed her mother--a man on whom she's sworn vengeance.


Inner and secondary Conflict: In Chapter One, it's Amelia's birthday. She is twenty-years-old and experiencing bouts of sour grapes over having no opportunities for romance. As a teen, she'd read nearly all the romance novels in the ranch library, always hoping someday her prince would come. She'd whisk him off his feet, he'd propose, and they'd forge a life together. Lately, however, she's given up such foolish ideas. She is an adult now, and even though she aches to have a mate and children, it is time to put unfeasible ideas away. She'd be better off, putting her thoughts to more realistic things like helping to tend the horses in the stables and killing Khane. At least in the stables, she can be alone with her thoughts and plans.

Internal conflict: When Amelia learns Michael is Khane's son, she is torn on whether she can carry out her plans of revenge.

External conflict: Michael accidentally shoots his father. He learns Amelia had kept the secret of Khane and her mother from him. Hurt and angry, he leaves without telling her goodbye. She is devastated.

Assignment 7: SETTING (time and place)

The Love of Broken Things is set in the Southwest on a ranch at the base of a mountain much like Mount Lemmon. These are the lifelines that twenty years ago allowed four hundred survivors to move forward rather than perish.

There are natural amenities at the ranch. Agua Caliente, was a former resort that was hailed for its perennial warm spring with branches that linked several ponds. The ponds are fed by the spring water and support diverse wildlife and fish populations.

In addition to the generous supply of beef, there is well water, a spring and a small lake making it possible for each casita still to have bathroom facilities. Also, rooftop pre-hot water solar heaters provide hot water.

A fictitious mountain located in the Santa Catalina Range, Mount Jardin is part of the Coronado National Forest. It's a fascinating land of caves, abandoned mines, breathtaking vistas, outlandish hoodoos, cool mountain pine and oak forests, and deep canyons spilling out onto the broad Sonoran Desert.

The spring and pond satisfies the thirst of the unique desert oasis on which the ranch is located at the base of Mount Jardin. Bordered by huge date palms and California fan palms and interspersed with native trees and shrubs like mesquite and cottonwood, the ranch is well-groomed, contrary to the usual state of things in the aftermath of the plague.The lovely spring-fed pond in the center of the ranch is home to fish, turtles, ducks and occasionally other water birds. The original part of the ranch lodge is modernly rustic, quaint and cozy. The Santa Fe style architecture, traditional adobe walls, and Saltillo tile floors perfectly complemented the beauty of the serene and natural surroundings. Bedrooms decorated in the traditional western, old-fashioned style were made more beautiful with locally-made mesquite furniture.

On Mt. Jardin, survivors of a plague find plants, animals, and geology that exhibit some of the most wide-ranging natural diversity found in any area of comparable size in the entirety of the United States. Near the top of Mount Jardin, enveloped by two million acres of federal land, is an enclave of four hundred and fifty acres that make up the town of Codystone. Before the plague, it was a year-round home to only a few residents. Most of the other structures were vacation homes and short-term rentals. Now it is home to most of Amelia's friends.

The year is 20 ED (después de la enfermedad), and the world has changed. Older people have settled into the new normal, but they still talk about the way things were before--when billions walked the earth. Amelia always has an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach when older people talk about having technology that could do this or that, or when they boast of the faraway places they've vacationed. She has a difficult time wrapping her brain around how a carrier of some sort could fill up with hundreds of people and then fly from one place to another. People were sitting in seats in the sky! Really! Sometimes she wonders if she'll wake up some morning and learn that the world her elders talk about is all a fabrication--like Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. She can't imagine a world filled with such technology and so many people! She'd read somewhere that in the old days, an average person met eighty thousand people in a lifetime. She knows precisely four hundred people and has met only two strangers, one of whom murdered her mother. That's a fact she lives with every day, and always she ponders how she'll get her revenge.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#39 Post by RachelAndOlotumi » 29 Oct 2017, 08:00

Story Statement

Through a series of chance events, Olotumi questions the central values of his Maasai culture, even risking a curse of death from his father, to pursue his own path in life.


Olotumi’s father, Mekuru Laizer, is a traditional pastoral Maasai elder in Tanzania. Born in the Serengeti plains, his father moved his family—twenty-five wives and their offspring—after the government declared his homeland a national park. Mekuru and most of his family ended up outside the Ngorongoro Crater, established as a national park in 1959, where they live to this day. Like his father, Mekuru became a brave warrior, earning prestige and many cows, and thus many wives. His first child, Olotumi, was born in 1978. Olotumi and his many brothers took to Maasai life, learning to herd cows and preparing to become warriors.

Then the government set up schools in the park, and through a series of chance events, Olotumi ended up attending one. As years passed, the Maasai population grew, and the government threatened to move some Maasai out of the park. With the uncertainty of his future and the unfamiliarity of the outside world closing in on Mekuru, he turned to alcohol—another introduction from the outside world. When Olotumi rejected an arranged marriage, Mekuru cursed him with death. Mekuru only reconciled with Olotumi after his son financed a life-saving operation for Mekuru caused by his own alcoholism.

Breakout Title

A Maasai Warrior in Yosemite
To Come Alive
An Unexpected Life
A Warrior’s Path


The Last Maasai Warriors
Facing the Lion

Conflict Line

Olotumi must reconcile how to honor his family and protect their Maasai culture while challenging some of very values upon which the culture is based.


[I will add this in on Sunday.]


Ngorongoro National Park (Maasailand)
Arusha, Tanzania
Yosemite National Park

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#40 Post by LMQuintana » 29 Oct 2017, 08:07

1. Story Statement
Miguel Serafino must build a shrine to Martin de Porres to redeem himself before God.

2. Antagonists
Oscar Llorgas is the town’s political boss who wants to step into the chaos left by the end of the war to solidify his power. Aeson Griega is the town’s richest man who sees an opportunity to enrich himself by expanding his business and enacting laws that further his business interests. Rafael Griega is Aeson’s son whose disfigurement has made him bitter about the fact that everyone likes him, but no one loves him.

3. Titles
Everything Offered to God (Quote from Martin de Porres)
The Purity of the Moon (from the book)
Not by Sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Torrent of Tears (Quote from Martin de Porres)

4. Comparables
genre: historical fiction
“A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Marlon James)
- personal upheaval around a historical event in another culture
“History of Wolves” (Emily Fridlund)
- repercussions of homosexuality and unrequited love
“Shanghai Girls” (Lisa See)
-personal upheaval around a historical event

5. Conflict line
An artist must create a shrine to Martin de Porres in a town where the local politicians want to take over the church’s land for themselves.

6. Inner Conflict
The artist, a homosexual man in a time and place where homosexuality is grounds for excommunication (and worse) falls in love with the man who is the model for the effigy, who cannot love him back.

He left his hometown in a hurry and under a cloud when he was nearly caught with another man, and if his desires are found out here, he will be dismissed and have nowhere to go, and no money to go anywhere.

7. Setting
The story is set in a fictional town in central Mexico in 1924. The time is significant as it falls just a few years after the revolution while Mexico is still rebuilding, but just before the church land reforms that began around 1928. Thanks to the influence of Spain and the Catholic church, Mexico is a racist country (see “sistema de castas”), and Martin de Porres, whose relics form the basis of the shrine being built, was a Black man who lived in Peru in the 16th century. Homosexuality is also treated differently in Latin American culture than it is in American culture.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#41 Post by Erinlisaconte » 30 Oct 2017, 00:23



A daughter tries to grasp who her Mother was before the ravages of disease laid claim to her; and find connection and belonging to the woman she never had the opportunity to know.


The Antagonist Force is MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS), a disease of the central nervous system. Marilee’s MS ignites with the birth of her daughter. During a drive up the coast with family, she experiences symptoms that lead her draft physician to ponder a brain tumor. This brief, yet devastating mortal blow renders any diagnosis short of terminal welcome. Behind concealed panic, her husband seeks Stanford’s most sophisticated specialists; and within a few weeks, she undergoes an arsenal of neurological testing. It is under their care that Marilee is introduced to her disease, a harsh and unyielding intruder that will offer no mercy of remission in her lifetime. As MS declares war on Marilee’s body, it also declares war on the family who love her. The immediate casualties: a devoted husband, a young son, and a newborn daughter. If MS has its way with her, Marilee will be reduced to a mere spectator in her family’s life. It will rob, torment, humiliate and goad this exquisite woman, denying any respect of her dignity, and showing no honor of her faith.


Tell Me Stories about My Mother
A Child Was Not


It has been my intent for this story to be a Memoir, but for purposes of this assignment, I would choose women’s fiction as the genre. In all honesty, I don’t feel I know enough about my novel to make the proper genre determination or comparison selection.


A woman holds a collection of letters in her hand that she hopes will bridge a gaping void of connection to her mother, whose essence she lost when she was just five. Overcome with both fear and exhilaration, she steps through the passageway, and prays that her lifelong desire will finally be realized.


Livia is about to learn who her mother was before MS took hostage of her body. The discovery, which she seeks out as an adult, is revealed through the eyes of Marilee’s friends and family. Will Livia find what she so longingly wishes for, or did MS destroy the opportunity for Marilee to weave through her daughter those most intimate threads of likeness and belonging?


Livia's journey of discovery propels her to re-visit a very sad and painful childhood from 30,000 feet. She re-engages with the trauma of her mother’s illness and long-suffering, and its impact on both she and her family. They were all casualties, in one way or another, of the war with MS.



1. The setting where (adult) Livia’s home is along the California Coast (2010)
2. The setting where (child) Livia’s family lives (1960-1965), among the prune and cherry orchards
that would later be penned Silicon Valley
3. The setting where Livia’s family lives during Marilee’s illness (1965-1976)

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Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#42 Post by mtndoggies4 » 21 Feb 2018, 03:33

Dennise Heckman

End the ivory curse and stand up to the family traitor.

Savina swapped Babka's dentures with cursed ivory dentures before Lucy made a wish on them for Charlie's speedy recovery. The curse caused Lucy to set fire to the Hinkelstein Hotel. Savina did this in an attempt to exaggerate Lucy's lack of control over her own magic, and to get Lucy out of her way by sending her on a mission to end a curse. By having Lucy gone, she could have more influence on Charlie, Lucy's son. Charlie is a threat to Savina because of his own magic that could become stronger than Savina's with the proper guidance. Charlie does not know his aunt is competition for his Zoolingualism magic.

The Ivory Curse
The Ivory Curse- A Hinkelstein Hotel Mystery
Charlie Hinkelstein and The Ivory Curse

Holes- similar in attitude, humor and has a family curse.
A Clatter of Jars-kids all have special magical talents.

Confronted by a deadly curse, a fearful boy must stop a resentful family traitor to save his magical birthright.

Charlie's struggle to regain confidence in his physical ability to overcome his weakened lung and asthma, so that he can embrace his new magical talent and contribute to family matters like a young man not a child.
Charlie stood stunned in front of Babka, his legs were long and muscular, like athletes. But it had been weeks since he played a sport. A fun game of kickball had turned into a near fatal incident for Charlie when the ball hit his chest and his right lung collapsed. He overheard the doctor tell his Dad that the spontaneous collapse recurs in fifty percent of people. This planted a seed of fear in Charlie's memory. "There's nothing I can do."

Inner Conflict: major characters must endure.
When Charlie argues with his friend Wiktor he is hurt inside about possibly losing a good friend.
When Charlie misplaces his asthma medicine he must face his fear of not breathing and chest pain associated with the lung collapse incident.
When Charlie knows that Savina lied to him it tears him up emotionally because he admired her and aspired to be like her and help animals.

The setting for The Ivory Curse is a barrier island off the coast of the eastern US state of Georgia. The protagonist lives in a hotel with extended family all of whom contribute to the story in some way. The hotel is an active, mysterious backdrop with a life of its own and aids in creating a unique setting. When the main character does leave this setting, he is tossed onto a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and not equipped, seasick and afraid of sharks, to tangle with the obstacles that will come his way to help his mother and solve the curse.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#43 Post by dreamwriter » 22 Feb 2018, 23:32


Story Statement:
1. Sort through the morass of humanity to find the connected lives
2. Struggle through war, death, and separation for the perseverance of life
The Antagonistic Force:
The scourge of a war-torn society works to break apart families, lovers, husbands and wives delivering them to the precipice of no return. Even through the last vestiges of post-war America and the challenges of parents ensconced in a society of stoicism, the scars of war shape generations to follow. But for four couples, death and a penny deliver a salvation for those enjoying the perseverance of life through the souls of individuals willing to listen to their hearts. Death and the scars of war run deep and through history, but so does life, and in the end, a next generation finds live saving connections and rekindles lost love once more.
The Penny / The Life of Penny / A Penny for the Ages / Penny / Sam’s Penny
Nicholas Sparks meets Shakespeare
This may sound incomprehensible, but as a student of Shakespeare in undergrad, I relished in his ironies and comedies mixed with tragedy. With a Sparks romance and a glorious ending, death creates yet another life.
Conflict Line:
(This novel is in two parts and viewed through two characters.) Remnants of three wars have left Sam’s future confused and etched in loneliness, then her mother, Penny dies, and a penny left by her ashes traverses its way through further death and tragedy of connected lives until the penny turns up again and solidifies Sam’s emotional peace and love with Parker. During the same time, Parker, must delve deep into his core to find solace as he works with Sam’s father to write the family story. He finds the connections of generations and finally finds the same emotional peace and love with Sam when she rediscovers the penny.
Inner Conflict of the Protagonist:
In a story of many characters and uncertain futures, Sam and Parker must overcome a past they both struggle with. Sam’s father, Frank, away for three wars, a mother, Penny, at home, but not always at home, and siblings struggling to find their way leave Sam unattended. And just when she’s found love, death strikes her mother and her lover. Parker finds himself divorced and alone after a grueling abusive marriage only to find Sam, yet, anxious to look deep into himself, he finds an interwoven life with her and decides to write about her parents. In the midst of Parker’s research, Frank and Penny’s friends begin to die, and Sam has a cancer scare for the same disease that brought down her mother, throwing Parker and Sam into the tumult of the same uncertain future they’ve grown wary of.
The secondary conflict is the lives of WWII-Korea-Vietnam veterans and their wives living out the remainder of their days and how those lives effect Sam and Parker.
The Setting:
Spanning the world, the scenes of war come to life with Frank on the front lines in WWII England and Germany, bombing runs and tar paper shacks amid torrential rains in Korea, the frozen tundra of Alaska, bloody scenes of the 7th Calvary’s wounded from the La Drang Valley in Vietnam, and to the quiescence of Ramstein, Germany. While at home, Penny, works the household in old bath robes and at bowling alleys between cigarettes and scotch as the kids adjust to parents coming and going in their lives. Then, years later and Penny gone, familial steps are retraced through the Library of Congress, Oil City, Pennsylvania, Warner Robins, Georgia, Sausalito, California, Northern Michigan, the Civil War Museum at Andersonville Prison and National Military Cemetery in Georgia, and finally Isle Royal National Park. This true family saga takes one on a journey around the globe and to places most have never heard of or experienced in all their glory of being connected to one couple at the end who bridge one hundred and fifty years of an interwoven life.


Story Statement:
1. Find the serial killer before she finds you
2. No matter the fun, no matter the food, move a table and you may die
The Antagonist:
A beautiful sociopath, Suzie Foster, enters the quiet, life-giving community of Brow Point and assimilates into the most popular of its restaurants, Frank’s Place, owned by retired FBI Special Agent, Frank Flannigan. Suzie’s charming, inconspicuous personality lies hidden among the daily travails of the staff and customers until Frank suddenly finds his patrons dying all around town. An egregious life of sexual encounters builds a hateful resentment causing death to anyone crossing Suzie’s path - and her secret infatuation, Frank - until she kills the architect of her life. Once the beast is unfurled, no one is safe. Not even, Frank.
Moving Tables / Eat, Love, Die / Food Poisoning / Drugs, Sex and a Bottle of Wine
Robert Parker and Dashiell Hammett
Conflict Line:
A beautiful sociopath sets her infatuation on a retired FBI Special Agent who she’s willing to kill for, while he tries to solve the murders.
Inner Conflict of the Protagonist:
Frank Flannigan is enjoying his retirement and life in his own creation of Brigadoon yet struggles with his misanthropic attitude toward the patrons of his restaurant. His own antagonistic attitude fuels the flames of a sociopath now murdering his customers. Has he lost his FBI Special Agent sleuthing skills putting his wife and his town at risk?
A secondary conflict is Frank’s cognitive dissonance of folding into the crusty old curmudgeon he’d like to be, but with a heart that would trust the devil with his soul.
The Setting:
Brow Point is a wealthy enclave of a village spitting out into Northern Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay. It sits nestled at the edge of other bay communities that house the have’s, the have-not's, and the have-everything. Within the village is Frank’s Place, a high-end American bistro with a cast of characters and customers that adorn most restaurants around the country, there’s a grind of misanthropic sentiment peppered into the ever-changing scenes by the owner, Frank Flannigan. The weather and the days portend customer expectations, and deaths pile up around the village all connected to a wealthy billionaire family and their palatial palace on the water.


Story Statement:
1. Search through the hidden demons of present-day America to find the good in all
2. Walk with a man of the ages to envision the soul of the future
3. Through the heartless heartland, follow the path of a wanderer to find the soul of
The Antagonist and Antagonistic Force:
The nefarious leadership of a far right-Christian association, Right Way America, follows a wandering homeless man, Gene, who does nothing but good. He gets harassed, beaten and scarred by numerous communities believing he’s the harbinger of their evils. Little does Gene or these small enclaves realize, but Right Way America is dictating their every emotion. They will not stop until their right way of life is beholden to all. Gene follows his own path into communities he chooses for his reasons, and one of those is Brow Point. He sorts his way to Frank’s Place and befriends the owner, Frank Flannigan, where Gene embarks on his next mission only to have Right Way America behind the scenes once more. Frank seeks the truth but is it to late to save Gene?
Jesus Walked Down My Alley / The World According to Gene / Gene of Bethlehem
Robert Parker with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Conflict Line:
While a despicable right-wing Christian group creates a conflagration and destructive force in a small community, a wandering homeless man foresees a future of hope for the town through his own demise.
Inner Conflict of the Protagonist:
Once again, Frank’s misanthropic inner voice works under the radar of his desire for utopia. When a stranger comes to town, he begins to wonder if there isn’t a connection to his FBI days in Chicago and worries life around him may change for the worse.
Secondary conflict is that life is changing, but not the way Frank thinks it is. There’s a much broader context of conflict in America’s plurality, and Frank becomes the seeker of the truth as he runs into present day characters with alarming similarities to the men and women found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The Setting:
Brow Point is a wealthy enclave of a village spitting out into Northern Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay. It sits nestled at the edge of other bay communities that house the have’s, the have-not's, and the have-everything. Within the village is Frank’s Place, a high-end American bistro with a cast of characters and customers that adorn most restaurants around the country, there’s a grind of misanthropic sentiment peppered into the ever-changing scenes by the owner, Frank Flannigan. The weather and the days portend customer expectations, and Brow Point and the other small communities around the bay struggle with an underlying proclivity toward the quick judgement of people that seems to revolve around Gene. A stranger who wanders from scene to scene and town to town gathering a flock unfamiliar to the locals and resorters, as well. With pathways between towns, rocks along the shore, and the moods of the lake, one takes a stroll into the uncharted truth revealed in a one-hundred-year-old, quaint village hall where a final sentiment is delivered.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#44 Post by DeniseK711 » 23 May 2018, 08:17

Story Statement
Katie must learn to love and forgive herself, believe she deserves happiness before she can accept the unconditional love of Bobby Bianchi.

The Antagonists
John Tills and Rich Murphy, best friends, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, later officers in the United States Navy, aviator candidates. Katie met John and Rich at a party her sophomore year in college. Both men were drunk and tried to pick up Katie. John when asked to stop he apologized and walked away. Rich followed her from room to room, frustrated by his persistence, Katie told him he was arrogant, ugly and too short for her liking.
After the party, John and Katie became close friends. A few months later, drunk at a Hawaiian party, John professed his love for Katie in front of his girlfriend, classmates and his best friend. Furious, John was in love with Katie, Rich began a campaign of rumors and innuendos.
John aware of Rich’s lies, refused to stand-up to him. Behind closed doors, he professed his love, to his friends Katie was no big deal. His proof to Rich he did not love her, his constant cheating. Every time they would break-up, John would beg for forgiveness and Katie would give it believing because he said he loved her, one day he would change.
John’s cheating and Rich’s lies would culminate at a bar in Pensacola, Florida. Angry at Katie, to prove she did not control him, kissed a girl in front of her and his friends. Humiliated, she ran out of the bar and left with acquaintances from the Academy. One of the men believing the rumors were true, got her drunk, when she refused to have sex with him, he beat and raped her.

Breakout Title
The Ruining Sin (current working title)
The Right and Wrong of Love
The Naȉveté of Love and the Destruction of Kismet

Genre and Comparable Authors
The debate!! It is a memoir, but numerous people have suggested I market it as Women’s fiction inspired by a true story.
It is a book about unconditional love with no happy ending.
Message in the Bottle- Nicholas Sparks
Smoke Jumper- Nicholas Evans
Coast Road- Barbara Delinsky
Just One Day- Gayle Forman

Primary Conflict
Katie, a girl in her early twenties, struggles to determine what love is, should she remain with her unfaithful boyfriend, John or does her happiness lie with someone else?
Inner Conflict
Growing up in the shadow of her sister, Katie never saw herself as beautiful or desirable. At twenty, she was naïve in love and relationships. From no boyfriend to five men vying for her affection. The list of suitors:

John, her current boyfriend. Since they were good friends first, Katie believes they will make the perfect married couple. It doesn’t matter that John has cheated on her, he says he loves her, therefore he will change when he is ready to marry.

Michael, a Navy pilot, and classmate of her brother-in-law. They met at her sister’s wedding and began a secret long-distance relationship. At Army-Navy, Michael confessed he wanted to try again. Their love once hidden, can it be rekindled when they live three thousand miles apart?

Andy, the Navy football captain, first-class midshipman and future marine. Tired of long distance relationships, he is handsome, makes her laugh and tired of long distance, he is close.

William, Baltimore’s most eligible bachelor, a major league baseball player, who asked for her number after meeting her at the opening day pep rally. William is fun, he is sweet, but there are no sparks. What he is, is safe. He has no ties to the Naval Academy or any of it’s graduates. Hanging out at the stadium, watching him play, Katie is free from the rumors and memories that haunt her from Pensacola.

Bobby, an all-American lacrosse player, Naval Academy graduate, and future naval aviator. The man every girl wanted to date. Thunderstorms over the Midwest, a missed flight, created the chance encounter three thousand miles from home. Bobby was a flirt, a charmer, and the only man to give Katie goosebumps with his smile. Her heart wanted Bobby, but she believed she was not good enough for him. The rape and rumors had ruined her. There was no way, once he knew the truth he would ever want her.

Over the course of 4 years, Katie must learn to survive rumors, rape, an unplanned pregnancy and determine who is her happily ever after before fate will once again intervene.

A scene of internal conflict

I leaned against the railing of the deck and allowed the cold wind to batter my face. The beach was empty. The waves called me, beckoned my soul. I wanted the water to engulf me, wash away every memory, take away the pain and cleanse me. I wondered how fast the Gulf would numb me? Would anyone see me? Would they try to save me? Or would they just watch because I did not matter? Would it hurt, or would it be like falling asleep?

Desperation reigned. If I was gone, then he would be gone from me as well. I wanted to feel the water around me, float away and leave everything I had become on the beach. I decided to leave my flip flops as a marker and place a note on top for my parents. They needed to know it wasn’t their fault. I left the sliding glass door open while I went upstairs to find a notepad and grab my flip flops.
The contents of my backpack scattered and floated across the bedroom floor. After a couple shakes my pen fell to the floor. I froze when I heard footsteps on the stairs. For a moment I thought it was John. My hand covered my mouth, muffled my gasp when I heard Bobby yell, “Katie!”

Not sure if my mind had played a trick on me, I inched closer to the door.
“Katie!” His voice was clearer. It was Bobby.

I pushed my books, notes and pen under the bed. The bruises on my arms were darker, more defined. My sweatshirt was downstairs I had nothing to hide the evidence. Bobby would push for an explanation for what was clearly visible on my arms. There was no way to avoid what had happened. My fear of his reaction was stronger than my want to run to him.

Time- 1984-1987. Perms and hair spray, side ponytails and scrunchies, Jordache jeans, Swatches, Members only jackets, Jelly shoes and Docksiders, Cut sweatshirts and mini skirts, leg warmers and stirrup pants. Star Wars, Rocky, Flash Dance, An Officer and a Gentleman, Top Gun… the beginning of the brat pack. MTV, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Tears for Fear, Lionel Ritchie, Bon Jovi… the 80s where hair was big and life was colored in neon and spandex.

Annapolis -Maryland’s capital city and home to the United States Naval Academy. Weekends from August until May, Annapolis’s streets, docks, restaurants, and bars are filled with over three thousand single men, the midshipmen of Navy.

Coronado- a tied island linked to San Diego by the Coronado Bridge. The city and peninsula echo each other’s artistry against San Diego Bay. Palm tree lined beaches stare out over the blue waters of the Pacific. At the far end of the peninsula, North Island Naval Air Station.

Hotel Del Coronado- Surrounded by palm trees, the ocean caresses its borders and the green sculpted lawns accentuate its white Victorian architecture. American Flags pierce the sky from atop huge red turrets. One of the most romantic places in California.

The Rose Bowl- Situated outside of Los Angeles it is the granddaddy of all the college stadiums. Five Super Bowls Championships have been held within her walls. Legends have played and coached on her gridiron. Fall of 1983, the Cadets of West Point battled the Midshipmen of Navy.

Pensacola, Florida- The panhandle of Florida- dunes of swaying sea oats guard the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Parallel to the Gulf, wetlands run unopposed next to the bay. Home to the Blue Angels and the Cradle of Naval Aviation. Days spent soaking in the sun and drinking bushwackers while waiting for the men to finish school After the sun sets, there's nickel beer Mondays, kissing the moose at MacGuires, bar hopping at the Seville Quarter, dancing at the Rodeo and parties over the weekend.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#45 Post by Jenlaxton » 27 May 2018, 21:26

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Teenage girl must kill the rapist of her friend and avoid prosecution for the murder.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

The antagonist, embodied by “The Rapist” (goes unnamed the entire novel) and his brother-in-law, Captain Eugene Cox, is the male patriarchy. The Rapist sets the story in motion with the rape of the protagonist’s best friend, Dannie, and their murder of him. Captain Cox spearheads the persecution and prosecution of the girls, Ginnie and Dannie. He is motivated, ostensibly, by his need for justice for his wife’s brother, but in reality, it is his deep-seated fear and hatred of women that drives him. In addition, he joined his brother-in-law in the rape of other girls before Dannie and needs to hide his involvement to save his career and avoid prosecution.
He is a white male with an African-American wife, whom he emotionally and physically abuses. He grew up poor in the South, fought his way to becoming an officer in the Air Force, and uses his power in the community to hide his evil.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).
I Am Judith, Slayer of Holofernes; Judith and Abra Cannot Die; The Daughters of Judith

- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

Angels and Demons (religious/political/mystery), To Kill a Mockingbird and Persepolis (memoir/coming of age/female/political)
I see my novel as a blend of memoir with the female coming of age story, with elements of the political and religious, with some mystery.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.

A teenage girl in the American South is driven to murder her best friend’s rapist and strives to find a way to avoid prosecution while coming to terms with her own guilt and with a society that favors men.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.
Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

Ginnie feels driven to kill The Rapist and succeeds, but she is immediately sunk into debilitating and spiraling feelings of guilt and remorse. She feels the death was warranted, but also feels that she was wrong to kill him.

Ginnie is also trying to navigate family issues and a new, tentative relationship with a boy, not to mention her friendship with Dannie. Her mother is a recovering alcoholic and has left her with her grandparents. Her grandmother is religious and sometimes physically abusive to her, but has been abused herself. Ginnie deals with conflicting feelings of love and revulsion for the adults in her life. Ginnie is also dealing with Christianity and its influence over her psyche.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

Ginnie lives in fictional Jackson’s Gap, Florida. It is a small town by the ocean in the 1980’s. There is an Air Force base here and many of the residents are retired or current military members. Like all southern towns, there is a strong religious presence with many denominations present. Ginnie’s grandmother takes her to the little Southern Baptist church, Crossroads Baptist Church, up the street every Sunday and T.V. evangelists like Jim Bakker (The PTL club is a favorite) are constantly in the background at home. They live in the only two-story house for miles; her grandfather built it the year she was born. He is retired Air Force and Ginnie often shops at the BX and Commissary with her grandmother. Their house is comfortable and though her grandmother is frugal, they have beds with sheets and comforters and her grandfather has a motorcycle, a Lincoln Continental, and a small Cessna. She rides her ten-speed or walks the mile and a half to her high school that has about 1,500 students, 9-12th grade. She is on the swim team and hangs out with her best friend Dannie, who she has known since the 6th grade. She lives the life that many of her friends see as perfect.

Before the 6th grade, Ginnie lived with her alcoholic mother and a string of step-fathers. With her Ginnie lived in everything from one bedroom apartments, to farm houses, to what seem to Ginnie like suburban mansions. With her mother she is often much freer than with her grandmother. She “runs the streets.” She swims in canals with rope swings and alligators. She climbs trees and builds little play places that help her escape. She sees her mother abused, drunken, jailed. She tries to protect her, as children do, but fails. Her mother eventually abandons her at her grandmother’s house.

There are palm trees, orange groves, horses. There are oceans and canals. There are concrete block homes with small jalousie windows filled to the knees with garbage and suburban ranch-style homes with air-conditioning and refrigerators that dispense ice.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#46 Post by ltbrwnhare » 28 May 2018, 06:57

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: story statement
A desperate act by an outsider brings an estranged family together to set things right.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: antagonist/antagonistic force
Dale LeStrange plans to build a luxurious resort on one of South Carolina’s sea islands—a place untouched by modern development. He’s smart, careful, and thorough in his research of the local community and landowners, but can’t get Mrs. Church—whose land is the key to developing the resort—to sell. Dale commits a desperate act that sets a chain of events in motion, bringing Mrs. Church’s estranged great-granddaughter and her friend to the island in search of answers. Once the two women (Omi Harris and Ruth L) arrive, the community and the island itself reacts to their presence, and Dale becomes more desperate to obtain the land. While Dale is the catalyst for the subsequent story, the island itself (including its inhabitants and their history) becomes the antagonistic force against which the protagonists (Omi and Ruth) must do battle.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout title
Indigo Point
Amadi Island

Genre: Women’s Thriller. Different than the murder mystery genre, but can certainly contain a murder and mystery and the effort to solve the crime/answer the questions that led to it.
Gone Girl -- Gillian Flynn
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: conflict line
While seeking answers in the death of one woman’s estranged great-grandmother, two friends uncover long-buried family secrets that threaten their lives, and ultimately change the culture of an isolated island community.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: inner conflict for protagonist(s)
Omi Harris is estranged from one branch of her mother’s family, so when asked to represent that branch as the closest living relative, she must face her own beliefs and prejudices about the insular island culture to which she is inextricably linked. Her worst fears are realized when the island itself rises up to claim her as blood kin, and she struggles to find some kind of acceptance and understanding before it’s too late to save herself.
Meanwhile, Omi’s close friend Ruth Giovanni who agreed to accompany her to the island watches with a growing sense of unease, fearing that their presence has disturbed a series of long-buried secrets in which ancestors are more than just names preserved on land deeds. Drawn deeper into a shared past they never imagined, Omi and Ruth must find their way through an unknown landscape in which the dead are as vested as the living in determining the outcome of events.

• Amadi (1) m Western African, Igbo: means "free man" in Igbo.
• Amadi (2) m Western African, Yoruba; means "seemed destined to die at birth" in Yoruba.
Amadi Island: a fictional sea island off the coast of Charleston, SC; similar to the real Bull Island in location/topography.

Amadi Island has remained largely undeveloped for most of its history except for a small community of families of African descent who have been there since before the Civil War. Site of an indigo plantation dating from early 1800s, but little is known about its history as it was not a commercial success. The shell of the plantation house (built mostly of tabby) remains.

Other homes are small, low cabins with tin roofs. Acres of scrub pine and palmetto and great swathes of spartina grass and estuary/swamp cover most of the surface. Lack of development and infrastructure mean that even the most destructive storms rarely do much physical damage.

Most residents use an old, antiquated ferry system to travel between the island and the mainland. There is an old cart road, but it no longer appears on maps after the 1920s. Because the island is primarily under private ownership, there is no real tourism and most visitors have some connection to the families of the island community.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#47 Post by MaryEllen » 31 May 2018, 00:39

Mary Ellen Jantzi
A widow boldly follows her heart to create a new life-style as she strives to overcome the specter of her late husband’s adultery.
Marcy Hoffman, bitter about her divorce from David Blackfeather to whom she was married twenty-five years, has successfully interfered with his attempts to romance other women. Unsuccessful at finding and marrying a suitable man of means, she now, after ten years, believes it is in her best interest to remarry David. As a prominent Cody, Wyoming, real estate agent, Marcy is overtly concerned with social status in the community, but covertly selfish and sly to a fault. Realizing she was out-witted by David in his romance of Catherine Moran, she attempts to destroy Catherine’s trust in him by colluding with Catherine’s adult children. Deluded in her belief that David, generous and still guilt-ridden over the divorce, will take her back, Marcy’s wrath knows no bounds in her last desperate effort to break up the new marriage and send Catherine back to Boston.
Patrick Moran, Catherine’s son – a lawyer (as was his father) – feels obliged to honor his father’s memory by taking care of her. Unaware of their father’s adultery Patrick and his sister Jayne both vehemently oppose Catherine’s new-found friendship with a man (a Native American, no less) from Wyoming, particularly after Catherine announces that she has invited David to visit over the Christmas holidays. Widowed less than a year, Catherine is, in Patrick’s opinion, vulnerable. He investigates and contacts Marcy Hoffman reaffirming his fears that his mother has been taken advantage of by a clever con-artist. He and Jayne stage an intervention with Catherine to no avail, and later plan to rescue her from what they consider an ill-conceived too-hasty marriage. They prefer the status-quo – the Moran family of Boston intact.

HOME SAFE by Elizabeth Berg – 2009 – similar beginning: widow (loss, grief); shocking discovery husband was leading a double life; to heal and rebuild her life; ultimately resolves family issues, finds a “new” family and purpose.
NIGHTS IN RODANTHE by Nicholas Sparks – 2002 – similar in having two strangers meet, make a connection quickly, fall in love – well enough to last a lifetime; other issues in their lives, plus inner demons to reconcile; family interpersonal matters; relatively short, simple love story packed with emotion.
THE LAST PROMISE by Richard Paul Evans – 2002 – (relates to my 2nd novel REMOTE CHANCE); marriage to an “incompatible”; unpleasant marriage; rejection of the child; wife connects to a “compatible” man; complicated situation, suspense due to husband’s actions; husband gives up custody.
All of the above comparables are to me both romance/love story and literary fiction; all have a relatively happy ending (N in R is bittersweet).
I remain confused about committing to calling my novels “contemporary romance” (genre). Most bookstore “romance” seems to be “Harlequin”-type, historical, paranormal. Most of the books I find that have a great romance and a realism I like are in the “fiction” section. Two of mine have suspense, but I do not relate to any of the books currently placed under that genre.
FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: A widow wears knowledge of her late husband’s adultery like a life-vest, ultimately realizing that only by tearing off that protection can she face down her fear, disable her overly-protective son and her new husband’s scheming, possessive ex-wife, and claim the trust and true love she desires.
SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Other conflicts
A man (protagonist’s helper/hero) buries his guilt and shame of failure deep, enabling his conniving ex-wife to manipulate him, convincing him he needs to atone for the sin of divorcing her. She reminds him of all the good years they enjoyed in the beginning of their marriage, reinforcing one another’s careers; then reminds him that his drinking and trying to reconnect with his Indian heritage, drove her away. He has to admit he was at fault (for the drinking, at least), and continues to be kind to her, ignoring her manipulations, even when designed to break his heart by scaring off a prospective mate. She suggests they try again to be a couple (trigger); and he has only to think of the woman he’s in love with now to back away (reaction).
Racism flows like a river current under ice through the protective son’s veins, not as racism per se, but as a tendency to protect the mother he loves, to honor the father he misses, and to maintain family stability. Preconceptions and misconceptions of the unfamiliar social culture of the western United States, physical distance from his only remaining parent, and uncertainty about his late father’s expectations, let alone the inter-racial element regarding his mother’s new “significant other”, all combine to worry him into a frenzy. The son insists the “stranger”’s motives are suspect (trigger); the mother (concealing her husband’s adultery) is not visibly concerned to the frustrated consternation of the son (reaction).
Boston, Massachusetts – scene of the husband’s adultery “crime”; fog, smog, traffic congestion, horns, screeching tires; crowded, buildings blocking views, litter blowing about, in addition to the haziness of not knowing “who knows”. The large brick house, largely empty now of people, voices, a grand sterile mausoleum. The hometown where all things considered familiar and beloved have become part of the lie, the big dark cloud that hovers over her night and day. Light versus dark, rather than spectral color. The secret that must never be revealed. More darkness.
Cody, Wyoming – the destination promising hope – in the form of artistic training; windy, fresh air blowing; bright, high altitude sun dazzling the hard ground, the rocks, the low-slung buildings; a new color scheme, a light palette – pastels, and delicate earth-tones, accented by saturated hues like the turquoise tone of the noonday sky. No one who knows her grimy past, the stain on her ego, or her blurry image as suburban housewife to a respected lawyer. The ranch’s small snug log house designed for aesthetics and function, cozy as a bear hug; kitchen aromas prompting salivation; the flickering woodstove fire; the horses, like four-legged family who need to be tended, yet who appreciate and offer the joy of riding. Companionship, not entirely trustworthy, perhaps, but uplifting in a teasing, light-hearted way. So far from Boston, it feels like her lungs can expand to their full breadth.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#48 Post by zayneclayton » 01 Jun 2018, 22:39

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.
Jess Mead returns home after more than a year away expecting everything to be the same but what he comes home to is a ill mother, a vengeful sister, and a mysterious evil that seems to be lurking everywhere he goes.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

The antagonistic force in the story is “Fear”. It’s a voice that whispers in everyone’s ear and leads them to committing horrible acts.. For most of the story it stays with Rachel Mead, the sister of the protagonist. Rachel has been forgotten and looked over her entire life. She feels mistreated and unloved. This makes her perfect prey for Fear to use to do it’s bidding.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).
Our Little Darling
Among The Smoke and Fog of A December Afternoon
An Infinitely Gentle, Infinitely Suffering Thing

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?
IT by Stephen King, although my novel could never be as great as this masterpiece I believe that certain elements are comparable between the two. There is the supernatural force that is the cause of death and pain for the main characters. There is also the idea of returning to where you came from, of coming home after a long time away.
The Nix by Nathan Hill, this novel has a complicated mother and son relationship similar to mine as well as going back to places from your past that reopen old wounds. Also the element of the Nix, the sort of vengeful spirit within the novel is very similar to my antagonist of “Fear”.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.
A young man’s life is changed drastically when he is summoned home and made to care for his sick, once neglectful mother and a sister whom he fears has a murderous plan for him and his mother.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.
Jess Mead is coming home on his winter break from college because his mother is deathly ill. He is very anxious about returning home because his childhood is a source of a lot of grief in his life. But more than that he is afraid if his mother dies, he will have to become his younger sister’s guardian. This would mean, for him, giving up his Ivy League college and trying to take care of a sister who he believes is a murderess.
In a scene after Jess arrives home, he asks Rachel about his mother’s illness, and the doctors she’s seen and the treatments she’s on, and if she has a will. His sister avoids his questions and makes a power play by burning herself with a hot pain and weeping to their mother that Jess burned her. Jess leaves the house to take a walk because his mother doesn’t believe that she burned herself. When he leaves he starts to wonder if he can handle this entire situation or if he even wants to.
Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?
Jess Mead is coming back to his hometown so he is bound to run into old friends. And in fact he does run into his high school crush, Adeline Jackson. Adeline becomes his short lived confidant while he’s there. She attempts to help him by putting him into contact with her lawyer father in order to sort out his concerns about the will. But Adeline Jackson is not just there for Jess’ needs, she has her own story line in the novel. She had a son during her first year of college, dropped out and had to move back home with her parents. The father of her child cheated on her and broke up with her for another woman and she can’t hold down a job. These are all the things that Adeline is dealing with while trying to help Jess. And one night when Adeline stays over with Jess, Adeline has a terrifying run in with Ms. Mead, Jess’ mom. This event is what solidified Jess’ decision to stay in town and drop out of college, doing what he has to in order to help his family. It is also what convinces Adeline to leave town for good and start her own life with her son.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.
The story starts with Jess at his college dorm at Brown University. The dorm is mess and drab but to Jess it feels cozy and safe. His roommate/best friend is messy and reckless which comes through in the way he keeps his side of the dorm. Still Jess doesn’t want to leave it.
He goes back to where he grew up the small town of Temple, TX. It’s a real town but who inhabits the town and what goes on is completely fictional. The story takes place during mid-December in Central,TX. So it’s grey and cold but it’s a dead, empty kind of cold rather than a winter wonderland. There is no snow, just a lot of dead trees and no birds. Some people might have Christmas lights up but it’s few and far between. The town has tried to keep as much the old school charm as possible. All the building are original from when the town was first built. So far they’ve been able to keep any sort of chain stores on the outskirts of their town so as not to tainted the classy atmosphere they pride themselves in. The town’s social hierarchy is very much run by different societies that people belong to. And although they don’t quite know everyone, everyone knows who is important and who you stay away from.
Most of the events take place is Jess’ childhood home. It’s a simple, one story house. The outside is painted a cheap, tinted cream color that is chipping off at every corner except the foundation which is exposed deep red colored brick.
There is a rope swing hanging dangerously loose from the branch of a dying oak tree on the left side of the walk leading up to the front door. On the right side of the walk is the driveway that has a sharp crack down the middle. They always meant to get that crack fixed but there always seemed to be something else going on. The front door is a faded red. Jess could remember as a kid the door was bright red, standing tall above him like a doorway of blood leading straight to Hell.
The inside of their house is like a scattered history of their lives. Bricked over fireplace that his mother did herself after she found a young Jess looking through the burnt pieces of pictures of Jess’ father. Picture that she had thrown in their herself. Jess still had a scar on his hand from reaching into the still hot ash. The rest of the limited amount of photos they had framed were sitting on the mantel above the fireplace is shadowed disgrace. And the dusty brown reading chair that was rarely used to read in, rarely used at all. There was no television, just a dark green couch and a trunk coffee table in the middle. They weren’t the type of family that gather in the living room to watch shows together or read or just be in contact with other humans. They never ate meals together in the dining room. They all made their own respective, probably microwaved meals and took it to their rooms.
The kitchen looked as if it never left the 70s with pale yellow appliances and mockingly patterned tiles. Jess often thought the kitchen looks to fun and lively to be so neglected. The dining room had a simple dark wood table with chairs to match. The kitchen and living room area are right in front as a person walks through the front door then to the left is a small hallway. The first door on the left is Rachel’s room right next to the bathroom that her and Jess used to share. Across from the bathroom on the right side of the hallway is Jess’ room. And all the way at the end of the hallway is Ms. Meads room.
Jess’ room is much like his dorm with a small twin bed in the center of the room. It had navy blue and orange sheets. He has no bookcase but the walls are still lined with books that he didn’t have means to take to college with him. And the most important part is the collage that covers his walls. There are pictures he took of people and places, and quotes from books he loved and the small amount of movies he’d managed to see.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#49 Post by enidkassner » 28 Aug 2018, 20:52

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#50 Post by denisestanfa » 30 Aug 2018, 23:31

Since my manuscript is non-fiction/memoir I have developed a book proposal as an answer to this assignment. My story statement is DC Stanfa is looking for fun and love, but discovers that trouble is a byproduct of both. DC is easily site-tracked for "entertainment purposes" and has a wild streak that she must reign in as a single parent. In doing so, she also attracts her perfect life-partner.

The proposal follows:

Will Dance for Margaritas

Having Fun and flirting With Trouble, At Any Age

By: DC Stanfa

DC Stanfa
13805 Victor Ave.
Hudson, Florida 34667
513 582-9406

What if a girl grows up so addicted to fun and its by-product trouble that she becomes an expert at both? What if she tries to inspire and embolden readers, no matter their ages, to believe in and pursue the fun yet to come in a funny, adventurous book?
Will Dance for Margaritas: Having Fun and Flirting with Trouble, At Any Age is a mixed drink of a book; three parts memoir, one-part sassy essay poured over “tipsy” advice, with a splash of potent cocktail recipes. It’s garnished with an After-Party epilogue. It’s a midlife coming-of-age and coming-to-my-senses (amidst the nonsense) story.
Navigating past my divorce, single motherhood, maintaining peak sales performance in my corporate career—and still trying to get laid was serious work. Luckily, my maverick spirit insisted on coming out to play. When I found a like-minded running group (hashers, by definition are a drinking group with a running problem) I combined four of my favorite pastimes, cute boys, drinking, running, and dressing up in costumes.
Turning forty was a tough milestone, especially when my mother hired a Mr. Potato Head look-alike to strip at my party. Humility may come with age, but in my case, so does humiliation. I survived that with humor, self-deprecation, and a lot of imagination.
Grown-ups are supposed to behave, but I can’t help myself. I give into the slightest temptation to play a prank, or “pretend”. In “Poser,” I try on several personas. When I rescue a dog from a hot car and let him loose in Target, he quickly finds his surprised owners. I lecture them, proclaiming to be a “veterinarian.”
There’s also frustration in love, as Tom, my FFB or Fake Fiancé Boyfriend (a retired Police Chief, and subsequently, my Pool Boy) keeps me on the right side of the law, while he remains light years away from the altar.
Furthering the irony, there’s me, DC — which the FFB says stands for Disorderly Conduct, raising my honor student/Goody Two-Shoes daughter, Cori. When my teen daughter Cori’s pediatrician asked me, “Have you had the don’t drink, don’t smoke conversation?” I answered, “Yeah, but she can’t get me to quit.”
After ten years Tom and I finally love-shack-up, buying a canal-side home in Florida. The neighborhood has no HOA fees, which also means no governing authority over wackadoodle neighbors with a half-dozen loud, exotic birds.
The more I push for Tom to get married, the more he pulls back. When the see-saw breaks, and Tom runs away from home, I consult with a psychic/medium to get him to return. With the help of spirit guides and the law attraction, Tom and I reunite—with an ironic ultimatum.
Table of Contents and Chapter Outline
1. Introduction
2. Twenty-Twice
3. All That, And A Bag
4. A Worse Mousetrap
5. Re-Hashing (A Drinking Club with A Running Problem)
6. Five People You Meet in A Bar
7. Chickening Out
8. Cop A Feel
9. Like Management
10. What’s Your Deal-Breaker?
11. New Balance and Old Warranties
12. Poser
13. Inside the Box
14. Peekers, Peckers and Pervs
15. Toilet Brush with Fame
16. A State of Mine
17. To Be or Wannabe?
18. Goody-Two-Shoes Barbie
19. Stanfanizing
20. Fear of Flying Elbows
21. Will Dance for Margaritas
22. Pushing Time
23. Drinking with The Enemy
24. I Will Tell You the Title at The End of This Chapter (Zen and The Art of Pool Boys)
25. Crying Babe Magnet
26. Just Jewelry
27. Lucky and Love
28. Freezing My Ass Off
29. No Good Deed Goes Unpublished
30. Must Love Birds
31. Under the Gazebo
32. Afterparty (Epilogue)

1. Introduction
2. Twenty-Twice
Celebrating the big four-o turned into two epic girls’ getaways, including a beach trip with a throw-back party in which we each came in “character” as a memorable person from high school. My sister, Lori slayed it—in a cheerleader outfit, portraying a classmate/cheerleader who got pregnant her senior year. Lori was actually six months pregnant, with her first child.
During a bar-hopping island adventure, our custom T-shirts invited signatures for “orgasm donors”. People began signing our appendages as we ran out of room on the shirts. In the hungover morning, we discovered it was permanent marker.
3. All That, And A Bag
My mother hired a male stripper for my big fortieth party. He looked like Meatloaf’s uglier brother, but mistakenly thought he was Magic Mike. He stripped down to a thong and insisted I spank his doughy bottom. I was mortified, and guests were horrified. Mom asked the agency for her money back.
4. A Worse Mousetrap
As a newly divorced mom, I attempted to solve a rodent issue (this pre-dated Google search solutions) with my pop-bottle trap invention. My kindergartner, Cori’s curiosity about the dead critters gave us each a surprise.
5. Re-Hashing (A Drinking Club with A Running Problem)
In search of physical fitness and a distraction on days my daughter spent with her dad, I found an unlikely support group with a Cincinnati hashing club—off-road runners. Hashing is a global “disorganization” with traditions of trespassing; traversing extreme terrain; drinking before, during and after the runs; singing bawdy songs, and renaming new members. They also have themed, costumed runs, like The Red Dress Run. The boys looked fabulous.
Several of us ventured to a Cleveland event, and fun turned to trouble when we got stuck on an island with lecherous cross-dressers.
6. Five People You Meet in A Bar
I explore my theory that you will meet everyone you need to know in this life in a bar. And although they may look nothing alike, and they may be on opposite coasts, they will always be the same five people: The Professor; The Porn Star; Girls Gone Wild; Your Best Buddy, and James Bond.
I also contemplated God (who often disguises himself as the bartender) creating bar light as a kind gesture to some who are more beautiful on the inside.
7. Chickening Out
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it was dead, dismembered, partially cooked and being transported in my 1998 Intrepid. It really had no choice in the matter. The bird returned the favor with a persistent fowl odor and remnants which even Mr. Detail couldn’t extricate.
8. Cop A Feel
Recovering from “my sluttiest summer” I met a handsome, reserved older man (James Bond from Five People You Meet in A Bar) whom I pursued to help my Cougar recovery program. Tom was not only a real adult—I had no idea what to do with one of those, he was also a police chief. “I thought I saw a glimmer of wild in his eyes, or maybe it was just my own reflection.”
9. Like Management
An essay requested and published as a guest blog for Moms Who Drink and Swear. It’s about a four-letter word that teenagers abuse. It does not begin with an F.
10. What’s Your Deal-Breaker?
The editor of Cincinnati Men’s Magazine requested this essay about the “tipping point” which ends a relationship. The magazine went out of business before it was published.
11. New Balance and Old Warranties
My college boyfriend found me online—thirty years after he dumped me. Our email memories turned into humorous banter. I remembered what I loved most about him (it was not his infidelity). He still made me laugh. I concluded that relationships are like shoes. We walk around in them because we feel good in them. When they wear out, and we discard them we can still appreciate them as part of our journey.
12. Poser
Why be yourself, when it can be more fun to pretend you are someone else? I’ve tried on various personas and professions occasionally for “educational/training” purposes, but it’s usually been for the amusement of myself and others.
I have posed as a talent scout for GQ magazine; A sexy Amish animal-husbandry expert; A Betty Ford Clinic admissions consultant—Anita Knudder (the K is silent), and a previously cloistered nun. I crafted business cards for all of them.
I also rescued a dog from a hot car and scolded the owners while claiming to be a veterinarian. When I saved a baby from a near-drowning, I similarly lectured the parents who’d left their baby alone in a large bathtub called the Gulf of Mexico. “I should know how dangerous this was, because I am a pediatrician.”
13. Inside the Box
In my decades-long industrial packaging career, tenacity and humor were keys to succeeding in the Good Old Boys environment. I opine that while we have the freedom to be entrepreneurs or whores, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. I also assert that the gender card is an Ace. Depending on the situation, it can be a one or an eleven.
14. Peekers, Peckers and Pervs
After a couple of window-peeker and indecent exposure experiences growing-up, as an adult I’m emboldened to confront the subject with humor. I similarly confronted another Perv I encounter on a Texas highway.
A “Male Review” in a Mexican bar proved to be X-rated. My friend Karen, and I escaped, yet we still suffer from PPTSD: Post Penis Traumatic Stress Disorder.
15. Toilet Brush with Fame
Working backstage for concerts during college gave me access to dozens of “celebrities” in the late’70s and early ’80s. I chronicled my encounters, including the highlight of shaking Frank Sinatra’s hand, to the lowlight of cleaning the dressing room urinals.
I witnessed the fulfillment of odd “rider” requests from legends like Bob Dylan and Barry Manilow. I even hung out with Rodney Dangerfield along with his hooker. How many people can boast that they taught James Taylor how to use Nautilus weight equipment?
Later in life, I continued meeting famous people, randomly. When I met Anthony Bourdain at the Austin airport, he graciously accepted a copy of my first book.
“It looks Delightful,” he said.
One of my few life regrets is not staying to have a beer with Bourdain. My day-job meeting seemed more important at the time.
Carpe Corona.
16. A State of Mine
A tongue-in-cheek essay about how much Ellen DeGeneres and I hate Valentine’s Day. Despite being finally a “we” in a relationship with Chief Tom, I offer snarky advice to other lovers.
17. To Be or Wannabe?
This story was first published in the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop newsletter. The workshop director was fascinated by the “outrageously priced” media event, also described as speed-dating for journalists. I may have failed my attempt to BE FEATURED IN AMERICA’S BIGGEST MAGAZINES AND INTERVIEWED ON TOP TV SHOWS, per the advertisement for the event, but I succeeded in emptying my bank account and having another funny story.
18. Goody-Two-Shoes Barbie
When my teen daughter Cori’s pediatrician asked me, “Have you had the don’t drink, don’t smoke conversation?” I answered, “Yeah, but she can’t get me to quit.”
I constructed a mid-chapter chart comparing my high school accomplishments to Cori’s. While Cori aced a physics geothermal project her junior year, I’d crafted a ceramic bong in art class at the same age. My daughter performed chorus concerts and was captain of her color-guard; I performed mock-modeling poses for baked friends at parties.
19. Stanfanizing
My boyfriend, Tom having been in law-enforcement and an overall superb human, is often pushed past his comfort zone by my wilder approach to life. I fully embrace free upgrades even if they require me to stretch a truth, or ten. When shameless meets opportunity, I’m at my favorite intersection.
These are tales of no-cost yachting, free limo rides (unless you count fear and embarrassment as currency) and “visiting” experiences at resorts which we weren’t guests. After successfully upgrading from the meh buffet to a high-end casino steakhouse, Tom finally went all-in and named the free upgrading process after me.
20. Fear of Flying Elbows
As the child of free-range parents, I’d broken my nose and other appendages several times, was bitten by a rat, and hit three parked cars on a joy-ride around the block—all before entering high school. Our generation survived Jarts and running behind the mosquito-spray truck.
As a helicopter parent, I attempted to bubble-wrap Cori from the jackassidents of my youth. When she moved to Central America in the midst of seven active volcanoes—known as the ring of fire, Cori reported several six-point earthquakes as “no big deal”. The earth also moved under my feet.
21. Will Dance for Margaritas
According to my sister, Sherry, “Drinking may not be the answer, but it’s a damn good guess.” This brief history of vacations in Mexico, illustrates how some establishments bait you with “free” tequila to coerce you into being “free” entertainment. Of course, I’d dance on a table without liquid encouragement. What’s surprising is mild-mannered Tom giving into the tequila barter, with his new partner Jose Cuervo, placing second in a Mas Macho Hombre contest.
22. Pushing Time
I rolled away the rock from timeshare sales and poke what’s underneath with a shtick.
Q: “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” A: Put him in a room with timeshare salesmen.” Surely, you’ve heard the horror stories from friends and relatives? I refer to the presentation experience as real-estate date rape. However, I continued to play the “free gift game” until I evened the score.
23. Drinking with The Enemy
Be careful what you brag about, was sage advice from my maternal grandmother. My longest running brag about how smart I am about buying, or not buying timeshares backfired, when the St. Maarten resort we’d fallen in love with kicked us out.
24. I Will Tell You the Title at The End of This Chapter
Being a water sign and a romantic are not solid reasons to buy a home with a huge in-ground pool, especially if you’ve previously hired people to change your lightbulbs. Escapades of home maintenance ineptitude, and the unreliability of pool boys—and why you should sleep with them—explained. (Zen and The Art of Pool Boy Maintenance)
25. Crying Babe Magnet
Before I understood the law of attraction, I constantly found myself annoyed by misbehaved children and clueless parents. If there was one screaming lap-child on the plane, they were practically in my lap. I’d spot a Dennis-the-menace having a melt-down during boarding while the parents focused on their phones—ignoring him. I’d think: Please, don’t sit near me!
The universe paid proper ADHD attention, hearing “sit near me,” and complied with my request.
I developed a written citation for misbehaved parents: S.P.A.N.K., which is an acronym for Support Parental Accountability for Naughty Kids. The idea was to issue the citation to parents, offering tips on handling children in stressful, public places. My police chief boyfriend forbade me to pursue it beyond the idea stage because, “some parent will likely beat the crap out of you, or possibly kill you.” Nonetheless, the citation is offered in the chapter, along with a disclaimer.
26. Just Jewelry
Most couples announce wedding engagements in their local newspapers, or on Facebook. My fake engagement was announced in 146 newspapers across the country, without my consent. Of course, when you have a close friend who writes a humor column, you never know what she considers “material” until you read it.
On one hand, I had a diamond, on the other hand Tom did not propose marriage. I lamented, sulked, and finally joked about having a Fake Fiancé Boyfriend (FFB). My optimism combined with romanticism rendered me delusional, and I planned a destination wedding behind Tom’s back. It backfired, and an expensive Caribbean villa sat empty, as my “nobody died” mantra is answered by the universe—allowing a grieving friend a retreat from the aftermath of burying her daughter.
27. Lucky and Love
A Little Tipsy: When planning your wedding behind your groom-to-be’s back, don’t tempt lady luck by scheduling it on Friday the thirteenth. Also, perhaps check on Mercury’s status (in retrograde) and consider that full moons—especially Super Moons might add to the “crazy”.
While digging around a palm tree at our new house in Florida, Tom was bit by a pigmy rattlesnake. At the hospital, I revealed to him that this “unlucky” day had been my intended date for our wedding. He seemingly preferred the snake bite to an ambush at the altar.
28. Freezing My Ass Off
A version of this story was chosen and published, in conjunction with the Erma Bombeck Foundation, in an anthology titled Laugh Out Loud.
Skinny girls never see fat or fifty in their futures. We are attacked from our behinds. Apparently, I loved wine and chocolate more than I hated my love handles. In an attempt to un-bake my rolls, I underwent CoolSculpting procedures which felt like my organs were being sucked out of my body, one at a time. While my blubber processed into fatsicles, I contemplated my decade of laziness.
What happened to that girl who loved to dance, and didn’t she have cheekbones?
I began bicycling, walking, and went on a low-calorie diet. I also stalked photos of high school friends on Facebook. Were we all in the same bloat? After my daughter learned I’d been licking the same chocolate sucker for weeks, she convinced me to kick my Charlie Bucket diet to the curb. “Cry me a chocolate river and call me Augustus Gloop.”
29. No Good Deed Goes Unpublished
Acts of kindness or generosity sometimes backfire. Like any burn they differ in degree of severity. One friend helped a new dad take care of his fussy baby on a three-hour flight. He thanked her buy texting her a dick picture, and an invitation to hookup.
I donated some items to a charity auction, including “lunch, or dinner with the author.” I briefly spoke with the “winner” and discussed looking at dates for the following month, as I lived a few hours away. A couple of weeks later, around 10:00 p.m. I got a phone call from a manager of a high-end steak house requesting my credit card digits.
“There are two men here saying they won dinner at an auction. They are pretty drunk, so we cut them off and presented the check. They said to call you, because you are paying.”
I asked the manager to put my high steak-holder on the phone.
“What are you doing? We didn’t agree to this,” I reprimanded.
“Well, I really don’t want to have dinner wish you. I mean, I don’t even know you. Sho, I deshided I’d rather go out with a friend,” he slurred.
That “burn” wasn’t the worst of it, the bill was $360.00, not including tip. This guy won lunch/dinner with me for a bid of $50.00 Loser.
30. Must Love Birds
Gated communities aren’t for those of us who enjoy a ceramic bust of Elvis adorning our lawn. The good news about our Florida home is that there’s no HOA fee. The bad news was when new neighbors brought along five Brazilian macaws, and kept them in outdoor cages directly across the canal—screeching like they were being murdered, there was no HOA board to do a damn thing about it.
After a few months and calls to several agencies and police departments, and we started looking at houses in other neighborhoods.
Ironically, we saved the life of one of the bird owners who ended up in the canal.
31. Under the Gazebo
What does one do after your life partner of fifteen years tells you he’s leaving you?
“It’s over. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done,” Tom said
I robotically made Tom a ham sandwich for the long road trip. There was nothing more to argue about. While Tom clearly told me umpteenth times over the years, “DC, I am never getting married again,” I interpreted that to mean “sometime in the future, we will get married.”
So, I’d pushed him again, this time with a public proposal. (He answered maybe, but later told me that was just to minimize my embarrassment.) I’d also conspired with friends who tried to talk him into a small ceremony under our gazebo, on the canal.
“This again?” was always Tom’s response to me broaching the subject.
The reality show, “The Reluctant Groom,” which only aired in my head, finally jumped the shark in this episode. The shark jumped “this again” for the last time, and Tom quit the show.
After the numbness subsided, I consulted with my psychic medium. Cheryl told me my spirit guides had “instructions” for me, if I wanted Tom back. 1) I must not “leave”. 2) I had to keep positive energy flowing, by taking care of the house, like he would. 3) I should not discuss the break-up with others, as it would give it more power, and possible finality. 4) Stop referring to Tom as my Fake Fiancé Boyfriend, as it attracted negativity. “The universe doesn’t understand sarcasm, Cheryl explained.
After about a month, Tom returned when I agreed to a reverse ultimatum—I vowed never to bring up marriage again. The universe may not understand sarcasm, but God invented irony.

Reader Demographic
The market for this book is women between the ages of thirty and seventy-something. Bowker Market Research reported that 65% of books are purchased by women, and 72% of gift books are also bought by women.

Will Dance for Margaritas’ sub-title: Having Fun and Flirting with Trouble—At Any Age lends it to a gift book purchased for a birthday, or another rite-of-passage. The target audience for WDFM is women approaching and surviving their milestone birthdays of forty, fifty, sixty and seventy. According to The, one in three Americans is now fifty or older. “The key to longevity is your lifestyle,” according to the site. Many sources including, in 2018 report women accounting for up to 85% of all consumer purchases.

This book will appeal to fun-loving bachelorettes, mid-life mommas and post-menopausal baby-boomers, as well as the rebelliously colorful ladies of the Red Had Society which has upwards of 70,000 members. Looking for a laugh, and a playful escape in book-form isn’t something that shrivels as we age. Senior women are pursuing retirement in Margaritaville style (fun and escapism). According to its website Margaritaville is a state of mind—but it’s also a brick and mortar multi-billion-dollar business that IS building retirement communities.

AAA recently reported a surge in the “Girlfriend Getaway” market trend; 39% of women plan to go on a girl’s trip in the next three years. I am affiliated with several of these groups and have created a concept group with my sister: Finding Your Badass Self—A Search Party will be launched in 2019. The inspiration of the group/retreats is her award-winning book Finding My Badass Self, A year of Truths and Dares.

Author Information

After a couple of decades selling empty corrugated boxes, DC Stanfa embarked on her second tree-killing profession (and finally put that journalism degree to some use) as a writer. Drawing humor from her own experiences—she crafted a how-not-to memoir for the benefit of other women. The Art of Table Dancing: Escapades of An Irreverent Woman is a chronicle of crazy-but-true stories—revealing her maverick spirit early as a “mere seventh-grader”, going toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church in the 1970s. Originally published in 2006 by award-winning Orange Frazer Press, “Table Dancing” was picked up by Librario in Scotland, UK in 2008, after a Librario agent discovered Stanfa (hosting her own booth) in the independent aisle at Book Expo America.

The book garnered media attention as Stanfa was featured in numerous publications, including a front-page interview in the Cincinnati Enquirer. She made several local TV appearances and was a monthly featured guest in 2006-2007 on the Q102 radio show “Amy’s Table: A Girl’s Guide to Living”. She was featured in the documentary program “In the Tank” on PBS for her perseverance in the publishing world. She was chosen as favorite monthly author on Wordshack and received an honorable mention in Writers Digest in 2009 for “life stories”.

In 2012 Stanfa teamed up with best-selling author Susan Reinhardt to publish the humorous anthology Fifty Shades of Funny: Hookups, Breakups and Crackups. The book editors were chosen as authors of the month by the Erma Bombeck Workshop newsletter.

Stanfa has mentored to women and girls in business, as well as the arts. She is a past President of the Women In Packaging Ohio Chapter. She also developed and facilitated a creative self-expression program in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club.

Stanfa taught humor writing workshops at libraries in conjunction with Scholastic and was on faculty at the Mad Anthony Writers Workshop. She has guest blogged for Moms Who Drink And Swear (one million followers) and has stories published in Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin, by Susan Reinhardt, and Laugh Out Loud—an anthology which featured forty women from the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, published in March 2018. Stanfa has been a guest on several podcasts, including Midlife-A-Go-G0.

Comparative Titles

WDFM is similar to Mamrie Hart’s You Deserve A Drink published by Plume, May 26, 2015 with stories of boozy misadventures and tales of debauchery. Like Hart, Stanfa includes cocktail recipes along with the chapters. Hart has short pieces throughout her book “Quickshots”. Stanfa provides “Side Bars” and “A Little Tipsy” as an aperitif.
Unlike You Deserve A Drink, WDFM is more than a collection of essays about drunken, reckless behavior. Yes, there are a few of those. However, Stanfa’s stories offer more breadth as well as much greater depth. She intertwines funny stories with threads of her relationships, first with her daughter and then with her life partner. The arc of the overall manuscript is about discovering her “new” older self and finding love. While there’s “sin” in both Hart’s and Stanfa’s true tales, the latter gives the reader some deeper emotions around loss, and ultimately some redemption.
Although Hart’s target audience is on the younger side of the WDFM target market, Stanfa’s millennial daughter—who watches Hart’s YouTube channel gave her mom the book, saying “You two are a lot alike.”
Another book with similarities to WDFM is There Are No Grown-Ups, by Pamela Druckerman (who also authored Bringing Up Bebe), published by Penguin Press, May 29, 2018. Like Druckerman, Stanfa’s is a midlife coming-of-age story which utilizes self-deprecating wit weaving their experiences and observations which the reader may find relatable, but also entertaining. Looking into a mirror is something we all do. It becomes a complicated relationship in both Stanfa’s stories on aging and Druckerman’ s. That’s where the similarity ends. There are No Grown-Ups gives greater regard to outward appearances than WDFM’s pages.
Stanfa’s stories aren’t just about How to Turn Forty (one of Druckerman’ s chapters). She has several turning forty stories—all fabulous, fun events, while Druckerman’ s actual party in her own words was “failed”. Stanfa takes the reader through more than a decade and a half of undergoing mid-life and recovering from it simultaneously through humor.
Although There Are No Grown-Ups chapter titles all begin with “How To”, the stories are still memoir, peppered with research—and not actual advice. Stanfa offers real (albeit snarky) lifestyle and travel advice in her “A Little Tipsy” snippets.
Unlike Druckerman’ s constant references to living in the “French culture”, Stanfa explores the inhabitants and culture of “Barworld” in her Five People You Meet in A Bar chapter.
The blunt, irreverent writing style is Stanfa’s personality coming through on the pages, and is reminiscent of Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea published by Gallery Books, December 29, 2009. Like Handler, Stanfa is addicted to pretending. Improvisation helped each upgrade to first class—Handler pretended to be honeymooning with her father. Stanfa offered up her gorgeous bodybuilder identical twin Chiropractors as bait to a willing gate-agent. They both stretch the truth like rubber bands, which occasionally snap out of their hands flying into unchartered space.
For no purpose other than self-entertainment, Chandler tells strangers elaborate stories, such as being born in England and getting a bowling scholarship to a California boarding school. Stanfa posed as a talent scout for GQ magazine; a scam that landed her in a national column as well as a notorious talk show.

Marketing and Network Opportunities
When my first book The Art of Table Dancing was published in 2006, Amazon was a puppy. My publisher was a small regional house, and they were unable to get me into national book stores. I relied on the old hand-selling technique—at bars, festivals, and special events. I also found a boutique distributor Salty Shores (no longer in business) that sold to coastal book stores and gift shops. I developed a product called “Beach Party in a Bag” which contained the book, a neon pink and green ball cap and drink koozie—both emblazoned with Will Dance for Margaritas, my trademarked phrase. Also included in the bag were a lei, and a few packets of Twang Margarita salt (my first website sponsor). I sold four thousand books in two years, with a very small percent of online sales.
Fast-forward twelve years, and it’s time to play with the Big Dog, Amazon. I plan to hire a publicist who is savvy in digital and social media marketing. My PR/AD budget for WDFM is $10,000 dollars.
I am in pre-production for a YouTube channel about middle age and early retirement, and midlife reinvention, Here I Go Again will be humorous, informative—but mostly entertaining.
I will capitalize on my networking in Facebook groups and other social media. Here are some of my groups and statistics:
• Moms Who Drink and Swear has more than a million members. The founder, Nicole Knepper is a good friend of mine. She was a contributor to my Fifty Shades of Funny Anthology. I am in the acknowledgement of her book. She has agreed to provide a blurb.
• I belong to several groups that are dedicated to the love of the island of St. Maarten, a tightly-knit network of thirty-thousand and am friends with all of the site administers. There are two chapters in WDFM that take place on the island, and many references. I have a commitment for several giveaways when the book comes out.
• I am active in People I Want to Punch in the Throat, with three hundred thousand members. The founder, Jen Mann had her publishing debut in the Fifty Shades of Funny anthology. She has since become a NYT bestselling author.
• I belong to several beach-loving groups, including Beach Therapy, and Beach Therapy Marketplace. The total membership of these groups is over thirty-thousand sand-diggers.
• I am active in several writers, groups, and workshops, including several Erma Bombeck-centric—a throng of ten-thousand funny, supportive people.
• I follow many closed women-of-a-certain-age groups, including The Women of Midlife, and Sassy Ageless Women. The network represents twenty-thousand women.
• My sister, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley has a loyal following of more than five-thousand fans— from her blogging days, and in the advent of publishing her award-winning book, Finding My Badass Self, A Year of Truths and Dares. Sherry is also a PR professional. She’s offered her marketing assistance, as well as a blurb.

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