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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Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 19 Feb 2015, 04:41


:!: UPDATED 10/O1/2020

Algonkian Writer Conferences - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

Below are seven assignments which include readings and links. All of these are vital to reaching an understanding of what elements go into the writing of a commercially viable literary project, whether novel or narrative non-fiction. There is more to it, as you will learn at the conference, but this is for starters and a good primer.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit" at the bottom of your post), even following the pitch conference. Pay special attention to antagonistic force, breakout title, conflict issues, core wound, and setting.

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff
NYC Pitch Conference Director

Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!



Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeat?

:!: Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)?
:!: Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)?
:!: Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)?
:!: Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)?
:!: Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)?

Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement.

:idea: FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.



Since the antagonist in most successful commercial fiction is the driver of the plot line(s), what chances do you as a writer have of getting your manuscript, regardless of genre, commercially published if the story and narrative therein fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict?

Answer: none. But what major factor makes for a quiet or dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind, rather like a fist hitting a side of cold beef?

Such a dearth of vitality in narrative and story frequently results from the unwillingness of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash. And let's make it clear what we're talking about. By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).


:idea: 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.



What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours.Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

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



Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables?

When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps.

There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.Most likely you will need to research your comps. We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way.

Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!


- Read this comprehensive article regarding comparables on Author Salon:
- Develop two smart comps for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?



Conflict, tension, complication, drama--pretty much basically related and going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes and thoughts fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to post-slush damnation. You need tension on the page, and the best way to accomplish this is to create conflict and complication in the plot, and narrative as well.

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to ensure interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of PRIMARY CONFLICT, involves the protagonist and the antagonist, corresponding to hero and villain. The outcome of their contest cannot be known in advance, and according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on. Classic drama creates conflict with real stakes. It cannot help but do so. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY (that would fall apart if Tom Buchanan were not a cretin). And the core of conflict can be expressed in a hook line. For example, let us consider hook lines from the following novels.

Note the following hook lines are divided into two basic parts--the CORE WOUND and the resulting dramatic complication that denotes and drives conflict towards climax and resolution.

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

* The protagonist is scorned and tormented, thus the core wound, and as a result he seeks to fulfill an almost impossible task.

Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

* The protagonist is betrayed by her friend and thus her core wound, and as a result she must take steps to reach a closure wherein conflict will surely result.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

* Humiliated into a core wound by an elder magician, the story line erupts into a conflict with the entire world at stake.


*** Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any.

:idea: FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line following the format above that includes core wound and resulting conflict. Consider also, what makes your novel distinctive? Might elements of the setting be displayed to add color? Is the antagonist noted or inferred? What do you see in the three examples above?



Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present in the novel. First, the primary conflict (noted above) that drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and zeniths with an important climax (falling action or denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve--which may or may not be directly related to the main plot line (but at least an important one should be).

:idea: 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. And relate it to the main plot line or primary conflict.

:idea: 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?



When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story.

A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier.

Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.


:idea: 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.


Joined:05 May 2015, 04:05
Location:Mesa, Arizona

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#2 Post by anniegmesa » 05 May 2015, 06:46

Assignment 1: Story Statement

After escaping from Germany, and engineering her family’s escape from a WWII refugee settlement in Egypt through marriage to a Canadian Naval officer, a young Jewish woman must deal with his treachery, through war, distance, and time.

Assignment 2: Antagonist Sketch

Ken Taylor, who joins the Navy to escape the tedium of his prairie home town, is intelligent, arrogant, and promiscuous.

Ken wants wealth. Waking to the realization that the Jewish woman he married in Egypt in an extended fit of lust, cannot help him meet that goal, he discards her and their child, with as much thought as one would give to tossing away a tissue.

Unmoved by his wife, Malka’s arduous journey to find him, her pleas for faithfulness provoke Ken to violence, a partial smokescreen for his engagement to a rich local woman. Ken handles his wife’s resistance with cunning, funneling communication about the divorce through his lawyer, and forcing newly pregnant Malka to seek shelter at the local YWCA.

Taylor’s Navy career is exemplary; he achieves the rank of Commander. He and his second wife give generously to local charities, and raise Arabian horses, both of which activities ensure their place in society. Ken ensures that his new wife is unaware of the divorce or the children. His family enables the lie, shamed by the scandal of divorce in the 1940s, and ultimately, the story is forgotten, by all but his children, and his first wife. Until he dies…

Assignment 3: Breakout Title

1. A War of One
2. The Quiet Lie
3. Of Sins Past and Future

Assignment 4: Genre and Comparables

Genre: women's historical fiction. This book will appeal to women forty and over, who are bored by romance novels, and who prefer an intelligent, determined protagonist they can relate to.


1. War Brides by Helen Bryan (2012) - Begins in WWII and ends fifty years later, similar to mine. Follows five women, unlike my single protagonist, through the war. Problems and conflicts that arose during the war years, must be resolved when the women meet again in 1995. Both books span continents and cultures.

2. Some Luck by Jane Smiley (2014) - Although Jane's book is part of a trilogy, it stands on its own as a tale of a family through decades and generations: their loves, losses, hates, trials, and successes. My book is about one family over many decades.

Assignment 5: Conflict Line

A young woman, rejected by the husband she loves, undertakes a hazardous journey and struggles to raise her children alone, determined to exact revenge on her faithless spouse.

Assignment 6: Inner Conflict, Secondary Conflict

Conditions for inner conflict protagonist will have.

Malka must find ship’s passage from Egypt to England during WWII. The only way she will be accepted as a passenger on a merchant vessel, is by agreeing to sleep with the ship’s captain for the duration of the journey.

Why will she feel in turmoil?
She must get to England, then Canada, if she is to have any chance of finding her contemptible husband, who sent her a letter effectively ending their marriage. Yet she loathes the idea of sleeping with a man she does not know, to accomplish her goal. She has always prided herself on her high moral standards, and has no wish to humiliate herself or her parents. But she can find no other options.

To make the journey in wartime means she must leave her baby in the care of her mother, with whom she has a turbulent relationship. Her mother, depressed and bitter, is willing to care for the child, but Malka worries about her mother’s negative influence on the child.
She cannot imagine ever divulging to anyone, how she obtains passage on the ship, and maintaining a lie for the rest of her life lies heavy on her.

She has never travelled alone; has never been to England or Canada, and has no idea where her husband is, or how to find out where he is. She has some money but not much. Wartime travel is dangerous. U-boats take a merciless toll on all convoys, so she fears for her life. She is terrified of what the Captain may demand of her.

This is a short quote from my book illustrating my character's inner turmoil:

As Malka’s eyes adjusted to the light, the Captain came into focus. He was seated at a tiny table, a glass of rum in one hand, a cigar clamped between yellow teeth and a leer on his face. His unkempt, bushy beard matched his oily, scraggly hair that reached all the way to his shoulders. He was wearing a Captain’s peaked cap, and a dirty uniform in dark blue, missing a few brass buttons on the open jacket. Somewhat overweight, he had let his belt out a few notches, and his shirt strained against his buttons, allowing a few glimpses of a very hairy belly.

Malka swallowed, and tightened her hands into fists. Fear curled like a worm inside her.
The Captain slowly rose, taking the cigar out of his mouth and setting it on the overflowing ashtray on the table.
“So, here y’are,” he drawled, in a voice as deep as the bottom of a mine. “I’m Captain Smith and you’ll call me Captain at all times. Put yer suitcase on the bunk, there. Meals are at oh six hundred, twelve hundred, and eighteen hundred hours. Mess hall, that Jimmy who brought you in will show you where. The head is just around the corner to the left. I expect you in my bed each night, but daytime, you work with the crew. You any good at cooking?”
Malka nodded, then found her tongue. “Yes, Captain, sir, I can cook.”
“Good. Make yerself useful and you’ll have no complaints from me. You’ll find I’m an easy man to work for, provided yer follow the rules. Break my rules, I come down hard. Clear?”
“Yes.” More swallowing. The fear was not abating.
“Our convoy sails in ten minutes. Remember, you’re paying me with more than money, right? Just so there’s no excuses, no backing out?” He approached her slowly, swaying slightly. She wondered how much rum he had drunk. He reached out for her hair, and ran his fingers through the long curls. Malka’s heart beat wildly. Surely he would not force her, now?
“Pretty. Long time since I’ve had a pretty woman.” He belched, and the odor of rum and tobacco made Malka wrinkle her nose and turn her head away.
Suddenly, the Captain grabbed her hair and yanked her head back. He pressed her against the door and held her head in both hands, their noses almost touching.
“Never, ever turn away from me, bitch! Got that?” He shoved her to the floor, threw open the cabin door, and stormed off.
Malka wept, shaking and terrified. Why did I do this? I should go home to my baby! I’m so stupid, stupid, stupid!


This scene from my book takes place during a train stop, while the family is attempting to escape from Nazi Germany. Malka, the protagonist, finds herself separated from her parents in a crush of terrified passengers:

Poppa herded the women off the train just before the guards arrived. Although this prevented them being thrown off, the crush of people was so intense, Malka could hardly breathe. She was handling a heavy suitcase, her shoulder bag, and trying not to be separated from her parents. She held onto her mother’s hand as tightly as she could, but the pressure of bodies broke them apart.
“Momma! Momma!” she shouted, as the crush of people swept her away with them.
“Malka! Remember what I said!” yelled Poppa, his voice barely distinguishable over the din.
“Out. Of. My. Way,” growled Malka to everyone, pushing and shoving as hard as she could. Twice the suitcase nearly disappeared, so she wrapped her arms around it as best she could, and used it as armour to protect herself. It was a pretty good battering ram, so she made headway towards the official, checking papers and tickets. She was nearly there, when she stopped in her tracks, oblivious to the buffeting she received from those milling around her. Poppa had the papers. And the tickets! Now what? Where was he? She looked around but could see no further than a few feet away. She knew there were benches against the walls in all the train stations, and sure enough, there seemed to be a little space between the crowd and the wall in one small spot. Gritting her teeth, she ploughed towards it. She staggered briefly as someone knocked her in the back and someone else stepped on her foot. Don’t give up, she told herself. Keep going.
Then, like a miracle, like a sunburst after a storm, there it was, a metal bench. A crying child, a little boy of about six, huddled there alone. Malka hauled herself up onto the bench and scanned the crowd. Finally, she spotted Poppa and Momma, who were looking for her too, and standing close to the ticket officer but with their backs to an iron support. She waved. She didn’t know if they had seen her or not but she knew they would wait for her as long as they dared. She glanced at the crying child. He was thin, with dark hair, and a Jewish face that would ensure he was quickly targeted by the SS. There was no way of knowing where his parents were or if he would be reunited with them. She had the suitcase and the shoulder bag, but she grabbed the little boy and somehow hoisted him onto her shoulders. Grimly, she thought how impressed her old physical training teacher would have been."


The first section of my book is a journey from Berlin, through Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, and ending in Egypt. All these locations provide for local color, confusion for the characters who don't know the places or languages, and the constant fear of Nazi soldiers, until they arrive in Greece.

Egypt had a major allied Navy base prior to and during WWII, and the presence of allied sailors and young women escapees from Germany, guarantees many liaisons and romances.

Ocean voyages during wartime were exceptionally dangerous. Convoys lost ships to U-boats and German ships. Since both the antagonist and protagonist will be on a convoy (not the same one,) there is plenty of scope for battles, disaster, rescue or death.

My protagonist arrives in London near the end of the blitz, where there are countless opportunities for danger, tension, injury, and conflict.

The remainder of the story occurs in Canada, mainly the west coast city of Victoria, and the prairie city of Calgary, with a few other small locations popping up from time to time. The beauty of Victoria contrasts with the ugliness of the encounter between protagonist and antagonist that occurs there. Calgary is a brash city of cowboys, oil and gas, close to the Rocky Mountains, famous for the Calgary Stampede. A little rough around the edges, it is nevertheless a place where someone can make a life, with hard work and a bit of schmoozing.

I wrote a much more detailed setting sketch which is far too long to paste here, but I'll bring it with me to the workshop.
Ann Griffin

Joined:06 May 2015, 01:32

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#3 Post by HeidiLee » 06 May 2015, 05:41

Assignment 1

Her side of the million dollar story; what federal whistle-blowing and bankruptcy fraud have in common.

Assignment 2

Two days before her trial was to begin, the federal prosecutors asked her court appointed defense attorney if he could convince her to “accept a plea deal – giving her one year of probation” in order to avoid the trial. Her answer to that was simple - “why would I take probation when I didn’t do anything wrong”? She believed with all her trust in God that a jury of her peers would exonerate her and that she could finally put this whole mess behind her. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

On the morning of the trial she sat thinking of the moment that had brought her to this place. She was seated across from her husband having lunch in a local restaurant just a few steps from her office. She lived and worked in a very tight knit “countryside” community on the sleepy North Shore of O’ahu. The sun was shining; they had sat at a table by the window to drink in the warmth of the sun. Each time the door opened it carried in the sweet smell of plumeria blossoms infused into the salty ocean breeze.

As she was about to take another bite - out of nowhere a rush of SWAT team police surrounded them with guns drawn as they threw her and her husband to the concrete floor. Quickly handcuffed; they were swept off to separate police squad cars. She sat in the back screaming for an explanation. Just what WAS going on?

She had no warning. No idea what was happening. Mortified of what was going to happen to her two young sons on that day.

Assignment 3
Truth, Lies, and the Federal Government
Convicted Innocence – The Michelle and Feso “Blackie” Malufau Story
When the Government Wins, Who Loses?

Assignment 4
Whistelblower by Amy Block Joy
Retaliation by Amy Block Joy
The Whistle-Blowers Exposing Corruption in Government & Industry by Myron Peretz Glazer & Penina Migdal Glazer

Assignment 5
The truth is…she hated lawyers, now. But with less than $100 in the bank, she had no choice but to accept the court appointed defense attorney. Only problem was he had never won a case in Federal court.

Assignment 6
Blackie was a Federal Prison Guard at Halawa Prison for over 25 years. As an educated, articulate Safety Officer (of pure Samoan ancestry), he was charged with the duty of reporting issues of safety - including non-compliance – to his superiors. He would sum up his years there with this analogy “I wasn’t friends with the prisoners, and I also wasn’t friends with administration – no one likes the Safety Officer”.

Because of his strong faith he believed in speaking out about injustices that he witnessed. As an elder in his church, he felt the duty to be true to God and to use his voice to right any wrongs he’d seen over the years.

Blackie’s wife Michelle was always supportive of him. Culturally, they were from different worlds. She was raised in a large family with 13 siblings born of a pure Hawaiian mother (Christian) and African-American (Catholic) father who retired as a proud Master Tech Sargent after 27 years in the Air Force. Both her parents were spiritual, but not necessarily religious.

He was raised in a large Samoan family of devout Mormons. Michelle, much to the dismay but ultimate acceptance of her parents, converted to Mormonism and became very involved in both her church and tight knit church community.

Assignment 7
O’ahu, Hawai’i
Sleepy Mormon “country” town of Laie (North Shore), Federal Courthouse, Federal Prison (Halawa & Airport), and at a halfway house in Honolulu.

This story takes place over several different locations. From Halawa Prison – a Federal Prison wrought with safety issues, to the sleepy, close knit Mormon town of Laie, Hawai’i on O’ahu’s North Shore.

Joined:12 May 2015, 02:14

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#4 Post by RebeccaSan » 12 May 2015, 02:35

Story statement

Life in the mid 1800s in a Sonora, Mexico village during a critical time in Mexican and U.S. history.

Antagonist sketch

Don Nicholas Romero, feudal lord of The Golden Bull is of mixed European and Indian heritage who rose through Mexico City military ranks. He went to Sonora to claim land, get away from the pressures of Chapultepec Castle and idealistically lead the backward Sonoran into a future that benefits him. He considers his ranchero and the local town of Cuahti as his with equal and often higher status than the local mayor. He claims mines, a farm, the lives of dozens to run his land, as well as the favors of several local women within view of his proper wife.

Surrounding the story are the secondary antagonists of the return of the European monarchy to Mexico with the Emperor Maximilian, Sonoran Indians fighting for their lost land, Sonoran governors who battle each other, and the most dangerous foe of all, the United States that is in the midst of Manifest Destiny, the Gadsden Purchase, and the California lust for gold now turning its eye to the Sierra Madre.

Breakout Title

The Wounded Butterfly

The Angel’s Knife

Genre and comparables

Historical Fiction

The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea - similar locale and some story points overlap

So Far From God by Ana Castillo - a female story of a Mexican family

Primary conflict

How will the lives of four women in fictional Cuahti, Sonora survive the turmoil of living during perilous times?

Primary conflict of major females

Luna - There is not choice in my life, but I will send my son to a better future.

Yolanda - Why does my inner peace make others feel threatened?

Clara - How do I melt inner ice and let love warm my heart?

Elena - I will not live the few choices for women. I want adventure.


The fictional village of Cuahti on the Rio Sonora in Sonora Mexico during the mid 1800s.

Joined:19 May 2015, 01:35

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#5 Post by Seven3Seven » 19 May 2015, 06:43


1) Story Statement
Lose a bet and win the girl, if he can keep her alive.

2) Antagonist/Antagonistic Force
No fewer than two governments are fighting over the female protagonist, who's an unwitting and unwilling asset. They're not above pulling a King Solomon and cutting her in half, albeit figuratively. But this is in the background, the forboding threat that starts the story and drives it to the end.

3) Breakout Title

(I agree with Michael on the critical nature of a title as being absolute, rather than an after thought. ALL THE WILD HORSES imparts the flavor of a Western or bodice-ripping romance. I have changed it many times. I have changed it back every time for the simple fact it serves the story in many ways and on many levels. It hooks into a motif within the story, that of the continual comparison between people and animals. It also balances the title for its sequel: JACKALS OF THE WILDERNESS. Yes, I am being ambitious, but we all must dream. Of course, I am open to improvements).

2nd runner up: Year of the Horse in the Year of the Comet

4) Genre and Comps
ALL THE WILD HORSES is a literary suspense/thriller with romantic overtones.

Character development (hopefully not at the cost of pace and tension) is a keen focus. The two main protagonists get from point A to point Z for the reader’s voyeuristic pleasure of seeing how and why, not just what and when. They think life is a one way street, a straight shot ahead. But in order to go forward, they must u-turn through their tragic pasts. Remembering changes them, and with change comes choices they never thought they'd make.

Here’s the romance: boy meets girl. Girl saves boy. Boy loses bet. Boy not happy. Boy gets into a fight and tries to kill girl. Girl beats him up, cracking two of his ribs. Stalemate. Boy respects girl. Boy wonders about girl. The wondering opens him up.

The female protagonist is very strong and capable, something out of Lara Croft, but more realistic. She actually has the muscle structure and crazy ass training to beat people up. No, she does not take steroids. And she is incredibly resourceful, because she’s been dirt poor all her life, which only adds to her skill set.

The male protagonist is large and also strong. He’s not pretty to look at, but arresting, a blond with sideburns and a ponytail and animal eyes that just don’t belong on humans. People call him the Big Con.

The book is Girl With The Dragon Tattoo meets Beowulf meets Taming of the Shrew, where the guy is the shrew being tamed.

5) Conflict Line
A man carves out an extraordinary life for himself only to bet it all on something he just can't have.

6.1) Primary Conflict
Everybody wants something and not a one of them is getting it. Case in point: at first, boy wants girl GONE; she stays. Boy doesn’t want to care; he does. In the end, he wants to keep her; government takes her away.

6.2) Secondary Conflict(s)
Vigorous subplots arise from the simple fact of people not getting what they want. Family loyalties, the disparage in socio-economic classes, differing backgrounds, immigration and political issues and aspirations, not to mention moral conundrums of human sacrifice, literal and figurative, and let’s not forget the definition of family and the pervasive seductiveness of money and power, bump and tear at each other for the conquering of human souls.

7) Setting
A present for the ladies: I’m giving you an English manor in the English countryside with centuries of history and acres upon acres of green to juice up the senses. The Big Con could stand in for Fabio. He goes shirtless on occasion, too.

For the guys on the verge of up-chucking, there are guns and things, a rocking gym, a private gun club, helicopters, and two levels of private security stuff, of which if I said any more, I’d be endangering you to a visit from Agent K of Men In Black fame, who would irreparably erase your memories.

Welcome to Hawthorne Manor:

The original was built in the early Nineteenth Century and belonged to the House Bendichfort. Lord Herbert Bendichfort inherited it just after the First World War. He had three sons by two marriages. The first union, of course, was arranged. Carol was her name, but Kissy they called her.

Kissy had twin sons, one exactly like her and one nothing like her. She knew at first sight which was which and marked the one she wanted behind his ear to separate him from his identical twin, Nelson from Niellen Bendichfort. People always thought it strange that she should give birth at Hawthorne Manor when all the Bendichfort heirs came into the world at Mentmore, their main estate. People also thought it strange that she should have no entourage, not even a midwife. The housekeeper had to step in to avert disaster. Naturally, only the two women knew that Nelson was second born. It was Niellen who was Primogeniture, the true heir.

But who would believe a servant? No one ever did, perhaps because people upstairs suspected just how much servants truly knew. Upstairs, denial was a way of life, and to stop it was to stop life the only way they knew how to live it. Everyone remained silent, including the housekeeper.

Niellen made his own way, fought in the Second World War, unlike his brother. He was barely fourteen. He had lied to get into the Army, lied about his age and his background, a Lord’s son, a messenger boy in the trenches, taking orders from scullery muffs. But Lord Herbert was never so proud. Kissy could care less. She took Nelson and ran off with some French flyer early in the war. Then she sued for divorce. Can you imagine? She did the suing. But she had done worse, much worse. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer man to finally be rid of her, matrimonially, anyway.

In time, Lord Herbert remarried, a woman named Cristobel. She was rumored to be a French-Romanian Jew. But she was beautiful with manners noblesse, a bright and gentle soul. They left Mentmore to Nelson and Kissy and took residence in Hawthorne Manor. Nelson would get it all in the end, so there was nothing left for them to do but be happy. And they were, Lord Herbert and Cristobel, and Niellen, too. They were hiding from the world and resting from the world. Until Cohen came, a little boy who shouted out not cries, but laughter with his first breath. He grew up adoring his brother Niellen.

Lord Herbert died suddenly and Nelson reached into their lives. Probate duties, a combination of death and inheritance taxes, went as high as eighty percent in the years after the war. Country houses were being razed in record numbers to try and avoid their bite. Niellen and Nelson fought bitterly, one to preserve Hawthorne Manor, the other to be rid of it and its contents, another source of taxation. Niellen went off to Korea and Nelson torched the place, burning it down to its foundations. If ever there were two brothers born to be enemies, they were the Bendichfort twins.

Cristobel and Cohen escaped with barely the clothes on their backs. They sought sanctuary in the village abbey and were still living there when Niellen returned. They all moved to London afterwards. Of course, they're gone now, Cristobal in a car wreck and Niellen in Vietnam. People don't know there were British souls lost there, too. It's a secret. But that was Niellen, born with a purpose.

He truly loved Hawthorne Manor. It had been home to him, the only place where he was happy, where he had his father, and a mother of sorts. It affected him deeply when it burned. He would be pleased to know Con brought it back. Not in its original form, not Gothic and dark, but back in spirit, bigger and brighter. Of course, Nelson was in a rage. He tried everything to keep Con from getting his hands on the land, even taking him to court.

Now, Hawthorne Manor stands atop high ground once more, at the edge of a forest preserve. It looks out onto nearly four hundred acres of rolling hills and verdant pastures, a private parkland for an American on the run.

(It's a lot of history, but the history contributes greatly to the setting, particularly in light of the fact that Nelson, a member of the House of Lords and a government representative, is a key antagonist. He uses the female protagonist to destroy the male protagonist. Also, there was no word count limit on the exercise).

Joined:05 May 2015, 06:16

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#6 Post by MarkyA62 » 20 May 2015, 20:23

1. Story Statement: Bring a prince to his kingdom and find a way home.

2. Antagonist: High Lord Jaresh Romerey is the deputy and principle advisor to the king. He wants to change the order of succession, effectively ending thousands of years of tradition and, quite possibly, peace.

Romerey often gets lost in thought, even among company. He does not drink alcohol and prefers tea or water. He is a serious man and not prone to understanding humor. He believes that he works in the best interest of the kingdom and is willing to go to great lengths for its prosperity. He reluctantly accepts change when necessary. He is also ambitious and can be ruthless to see his plans through, especially when his ambitions coincide with what he believes are best for the realm. He is very charismatic and can easily convince others to see his point of view. He speaks softly and rarely shows anger. He does not act as if he’s above others, though he does in fact believe himself superior intellectually. While he does not discriminate against other peoples, he accepts some races’ superiority to others, believing that each group exists within a certain hierarchy.

3. Breakout Title: The idea before I started writing the book was to just title it Kingdom of the Snowman. However, while I was plowing through the rough draft, I realized my protagonist had a much larger story and decided on a trilogy. I’m still working on how to go about the titling now, but thought of Kingdom of the Snowman: Comes a Prince, Comes a King and then Comes a Queen for the final book.

4. Comparables: I know we aren’t supposed to look at the classics, but I like to think of this book like this: It’s Frosty the Snowman meets The Wizard of Oz in Middle Earth.

5. Conflict Line: After her father’s death, a young woman who believes only what science can prove must help bring a magical being to his realm while a powerful rival does what he can to prevent it.

6. Inner Conflict: Lizbeth is intelligent and introverted. Her father was the only person able to bring her out of her shell and his death has been a huge blow to her social development. Her mother tries to bring her out, but with little to no success. Lizbeth has a difficult time relating to people, especially those of her own age and, therefore, only has one friend, Colin. Her friend believes in God and magic in the universe, while she is vehemently against the idea there could be anything science can’t explain. This passage is from early in the story:

Colin tugged lightly on Lizbeth’s ponytail as he rounded the table, a smile stretching from ear to ear and holding the book up with its front cover open so she could see the author’s message and signature. “I can’t believe I finally got to meet him,” Colin said.

“Good for you. Did you learn anything of value?” Lizbeth said barely taking her eyes off of the article she was reading. She tried not to belittle Colin’s prize, but it was hard. She finished her cup of coffee and closed the magazine.

Colin looked at her, shook his head, and wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know how you can drink that stuff, black even. You’re the oldest 16-year old I know,” he said as he sat down opposite her.

“You are my only friend our age, and sometimes I don’t understand why. You believe in God; I don’t. You like fiction; I don’t. Life is so simple for you, but it just isn’t,” she said. She was talking faster now, the way she always did when she became frustrated. “You want to believe there is some being out there that just waved his hand and poof! the universe appeared. It’s not like that.” She held up the magazine with both hands. “Science can explain everything, and if not now, in time. There is no god, no magic, just us.”

7. Setting: A prologue will be set in the magical realm at the coming of a new prince. This prince will be the reigning king near the end of his rule as the story begins.

The story opens at the protagonist’s grandmother’s home in New England as the holidays approach. It will then bounce between the protagonist POV in New England and the Antagonist POV in the other realm.

The story will later transition fully into the other realm. This is a land filled with pre-ice age creatures, elves, trolls (dark elves), giants, dwarves and men. The landscape has mountains, primeval forests, forests of giant trees, seas, and a land of ice and snow.

The end of the story returns to New England.

Joined:22 Aug 2014, 22:31

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#7 Post by CHearn101 » 25 May 2015, 07:56

Algonkian Writer’s Retreat


1. ‘Story Statement’
Faye Dunn has spent fourteen years committing a victimless crime. Hovering just below the radar, she and her daughter Rose have made a life with new identities, in a small town miles from where fate once brought them together. But as Rose is about to graduate high school, there are things she needs to head out into the world, a driver’s license, a social security card and a few other items her college counselor is very insistent on having. Rose is eager to pursue the dreams her mother has always encouraged and can’t understand what the problem is. Without detection, by her daughter or the powers that be, Faye is almost able to make it all work, legitimately, and breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in years. But just as she has managed to pave the way and extinguish her daughter’s wild imagination, a knock at the door reveals one of the few people alive who could put the pieces together and tear their world apart. In all her amateur deceit, Faye led her right to them.

Shorter: Will Faye lose her identity and her daughter, after years of developing them both?

2. ‘Sketch the Antagonist’
Faye Dunn has no background that she can remember. She knows she used to be the woman in the articles that she reads, but without her memory, the facts and faces mean nothing to her. What she does have is her daughter and the life she has built for them using false names and creative stories. But Faye is no secret agent. This life has meant no major accolades, notoriety or unnecessary attention. Faye loves the daughter she has raised as her own since she was three and to anyone watching, she would seem like a typical sacrificing, protective single mother. Using intelligence and instinct from unknown sources, she has carefully kept them out of harm’s way, for fourteen years.
But since Rose has no knowledge of her fake life, she ambitiously seeks to graduate, go to college and leave behind the slow and sedated town of Westerly for greener, more populated pastures. With this in mind she is looking for answers, documents of her past to pave the way to her future. While Rose follows clues that her gut won’t let her ignore, Faye is desperate to provide answers, without revealing a lifetime of lies.
College counselors, government pencil pushers and people from the past are all knocking on Faye’s door, but she is so incredibly close to pulling it off.

3. ‘Breakout Title’

No Remains
(this has been my title forever, but I definitely think it could use a sub-title to intrigue the passer-by, probably with 9/11 connection)

Two less than the reported number of deaths on 9/11

Two Walked Away – Another Possibility At The Pentagon
Definitely more specific and controversial

4. ‘Comparables’

I am familiar with comparable selection from the NYC Pitch Conference, but I had never even heard of speculative fiction/non-fiction until then. I am unsure if my comparables should be speculative, have a controversial topic (like 9/11) or just be fiction with a female antagonist pursuing her resolution.

Memory Man & The Bone Tree

Ironically, both male antagonists, but both pursuing the past to solve something with both personal and public ramifications. The Bone Tree because of the well-known public event, etc.

5. ‘Conflict Line’

After keeping a colossal secret for fourteen years, is Faye a selfish criminal or a selfless mother?

6. 'Protagonist Conflicts'

Rose is the accidental protagonist. She loves her mother and feels no problem there, and yet her mother has lived a lie, keeping a life changing secret from her daughter, which makes Rose a terrifying threat. Rose has always felt things. She has always had unusual thoughts that she has never understood, calling them dreams or misplaced memories. She isn’t sure. As the facts of her life and her mother’s secrets seem to be coming to a head, Rose doesn’t even know what she is searching for. This is her inner conflict.
The outer influences which create a secondary conflict are school counselors, colleges, basically adult life. Also the visit to capital brings up all of these exterior forces (memories/triggers) that make her gut feeling kick into overdrive.

7. ‘Setting’

There are several settings…
High school
In town
Washington D.C. …hotel, Arlington, Pentagon, White House, in town

Except ‘home,’ these are all real places and have therefore been great to research and pay attention to detail and accuracy.


~ Researched NY Times best sellers and explored antagonist appeal…

All of the beginnings I read had a lot in common as to antagonist appeal, all including sympathy, likability and having attributes that many readers would identify with. These included having suffered loss, fear or disappointment. There were also personalities that were anti-boss, anti-government or anti- BIG anything…which speaks to the common person. I recognized a lot of situations where the antagonist was in situations we have all been in or could relate to, also stories with a certain type of theme, like crime/suspense, but you can grab an entire new group of readers when a personal agenda is revealed, wife of cop, inner conflict, etc. I have long applauded ‘guy’ stories for throwing in a spouse or a love story to reel in the women. ;)

Titles read….
All the Light We Cannot See
The Bone Tree
Gray Mountain
Memory Man
The Nightingale
The Girl on the Train
Gathering Prey
A Spool of Blue Thread

~ Write Your Book Jacket

Fourteen years ago, on a cool September morning, as most were just starting their day, Rhonda Rasmussen was heading into work at the Pentagon, tying up some loose ends and preparing for her transfer to another location. She and her husband would be leaving the next day for a vacation in Hawaii.

Not far away, three-year-old, Dana Falkenburg was boarding Flight 77 with her parents and older sister at Washington D.C.’s Dulles Airport. Also headed on a vacation of sorts to Australia, where her mother would be teaching for two months before they returned to their new home in Maryland.

By the end of the day, both of their names would be listed among the almost three thousand dead, in a terrorist attack on the United States. Dana’s plane was flown into the Pentagon, killing everyone on board, as well as one hundred and twenty-five in the building, including Rhonda.

There were never any remains recovered for Rhonda or Dana, but of course it was a logical conclusion that they died that day. Along, with others whose remains were never found, white stars would be engraved next to their names on the Pentagon Memorial at Arlington.

But what if they walked away?
(203 words)

Joined:26 May 2015, 15:45

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#8 Post by carmitrdelman » 26 May 2015, 17:15

Story Statement:
A privileged American woman must grapple with the cruel global reality and become either one of the oppressors, or part of the oppressed.

Antagonistic Force:
Peter, the antagonist, is the posh and arrogant second-in-command at Prongs, an innovative and dark fantasyland for foodies. Charged with guarding the protagonist, Keren, after a night gone terribly wrong there, he keeps her locked in a room and waiting for news. Peter is Keren's reluctant audience as she tells him her life story, leading up to that night. Throughout, he is cool, somewhat disbelieving, and unsympathetic to anything outside his own luxurious world, reflecting Keren's own, if more reluctant, anchor in a life of privilege.

Minutes of a Martyr
The Foodie Archives

Literary fiction, Q&A (Vikas Swarup, the novel behind Slumdog Millionaire) meets Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)

Primary Conflict:
A professor must grapple with the First World guilt and paranoia that threaten her new relationship.

Secondary Conflict:
Keren's life is intertwined with the horrific experiences of her doppelganger, Zaina, a woman halfway across the world living in an oppressive village, who turns out to be the estranged wife of her love interest.

Inner Conflict:
Grappling with her own multicultural history, she volleys between embracing a decadent life and rejecting it, in both the academic bubble of university and the fixated detachment of foodie culture.

The story is set primarily in glossy spaces of privileged American living.
-College Campus, with well-fed, entitled students and a politically correct faculty.
-Suburbia, groomed and protected, entrenched in its materialism.
-Foodie Culture and Prongs, with decadent friends and a casual, voluptuous excess.
There are also, in contrast, brief spots of poverty and hardship in India and other countries, in which abuse and need are common.

Joined:20 May 2015, 00:05

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#9 Post by MattiSometimesWrites » 26 May 2015, 22:44


Story Statement: Mathina, an unhappily married elementary schoolteacher, uses salsa dancing to find freedom and a self-directed life full of passion.

Antagonistic force: Mathina’s sheltered, conservative, Christian upbringing, and the beliefs formed therein have given her a limited perspective on how to live. This force led her to marry too young and to stay married too long. It also kept her from experiencing a certain type of joy and passion—that which comes with dancing salsa. The antagonistic force can be represented by Mathina’s mother, who doesn’t understand (and goes so far as to be frightened by) salsa, night life, and passion generally. Her goal is for Mathina to be safe, to marry and have kids, to do well at work, have an altruism and purpose-driven life—not to stay out late, put her job in jeopardy, or sleep around with Latin guys.

Breakout title: MY PEOPLE DIDN’T DANCE

Several comparables: I actually don’t like this as a comp, but because of the divorce-and-transformation component, when I describe my memoir, I get this reaction: “Oh, it’s like EAT, PRAY, LOVE.” Equally inappropriate because of its wild success and yet also unavoidable because of the doing-something-dramatic-in-order-to-heal component is WILD. My go-to pitch line is “UGLY BETTY meets UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN” because the protagonist doesn’t fit into the salsa scene AT ALL at first, and there’s the healing-after-divorce component. A comp I don’t like to use but which inevitably gets found via Google is FAITH IN CARLOS GOMEZ, which is a memoir about a white woman’s immersion in the L.A. salsa scene after her horse dies.

Primary conflict: A newly divorced woman, saddled with but trying to shake free of oppressive religious values, tries to discover a new identity and independence in the passionate world of salsa dancing.

Inner conflict: Part I (the decision to divorce) Loyalty, commitment, being “good,” integrity … versus desperate need to be free, feel passion and joy, dictate terms of own life. Scenario for Part I is the last months of a marriage. Part II (the struggle to belong) Ego, need for acceptance, desire to excel, reminders of being an outsider in high school and earlier. Scenario for Part II is the cliquey nature of the on2 scene.

Setting: There are two settings—Winchester, VA, a sleepy town 70 miles west of D.C. and the contrastingly vibrant salsa scene—bars, studios, lights, music, diversity of people.

Joined:24 Sep 2015, 23:35

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#10 Post by cjboothbooks » 30 Sep 2015, 01:53

Solve the crime while defeating the tentacles of personal insanity

Detective Peter O’Roarke is at war with himself.
Only he doesn’t yet know it.
Following the recent accidental death of his wife he has begun to hear ominous nighttime whisperings, has woken to alarming visions, and discovered disturbing blank spaces in his days. They’re crippling his daily life, threatening his prestige as a Senior detective of the San Francisco police force and crippling his ability to work the high profile homicide to which he’s been assigned.
Dreams. Nightmares. Grief manifest. That’s all it is, he thinks. Get a grip. He can beat this. But… beat what?
Increasingly, the visions, the voices, are becoming vaguely familiar, especially as he gets deeper into the homicide investigation.
And then there are the physical items that begin appearing - footprints behind him in the sand, a shovel propped next to his front door and finally a dog curled up at the foot of his bed.
Peter O’Roarke lives at the edge of the Pacific, in a sprawling manse, on a tenuous cliff, but the real cliff, his real mental precipice is already slipping.
He will soon find out how difficult it is to escape what’s inside you or deny what you truly are.
“THE PRECIPICE” (working title)
Also fooling around with “EDGING”, “STROKING THE EDGE”, “BRINK”, “THE DIGGER”

“THE PRECIPICE” has the madness of SHUTTER ISLAND (Lehane) overlaid with the crime-solving structure and pace of a Michael Connelly, but with its atmospheric inner dialogues and feel for setting it more closely resembles THE LIKENESS and BROKEN HARBOR (Tana French).

Assigned a high profile murder case, a brilliant detective at the top of his game, fights against his increasingly ominous visions, visions that reveal he committed the murder he is investigating.

Following the death of his wife in a car accident, our detective, now assigned to the murder case of a famous young woman, is provided with a driver/partner - a young, bright, though inexperienced, sergeant. As the investigation progresses, the young sergeant begins to uncover similarities between the homicide clues and the actions of our detective. Alarmed and aware of the sergeant’s threatening interest and the sergeant’s propensity to report to fellow investigators, our detective attempts to throw his whole investigating team off the track, including the young sergeant.
In an effort to mask his growing panic regarding what is happening to him mentally and understand it, he attempts to speak to the female staff psychologist about what he has been seeing in his head. He disguises this as a light hearted attempt at ‘interpreting his dreams’. But, knowing his outstanding professional reputation, she dismisses his concerns and in fact mis-interprets his interest as a transparent sexual advance, to which she more than willingly will submit.

With his wife dead, our detective lives now alone in a sprawling, isolated house on a sheer cliff overlooking the Pacific south of San Francisco. It isn’t the forlorn moan of the wind, the sweetish low-tide smell of the ocean, the stabs of moonlight off the water that sometimes draw him closer and closer to cliff. It is his visions. For in them he sees a man, who hides just below the cliff edge. The man, only his dirty bald head cryptically visible, seems to be digging with a shovel. And in the vision (or is it?), the detective approaches the precipice. He is compelled to discover why the man is digging and yet terrified as the vision begins to merge with the case he is investigating. The closer he gets to the edge, the closer he is to losing his grip of his professional sanity. In real life, he is afraid of the heights he lives next to, yet he has been awakening from a cold-sweated nightmares only to find himself crawling closer and closer to the real precipice.

(verbal) PITCH
When readers are finished with their Michael Connelly, Tana French, and Harlan Coben, and they thirst for more, they will pick up C. J. Booth’s mystery-thriller The Precipice.


Peter O’Roarke, recently widowed San Francisco homicide detective, at the top of his game, bolts awake one night to the furtive whispering of his dead wife. Alarmed, he scrambles out of bed and runs to the moonlit kitchen where, heart hammering, he clutches the cold marble counter and freezes. And listens. The lonely moan of the wind licking his cliff-edge house is interrupted by the chunk…chunk…chunk of a distant shovel turning earth. Cautiously venturing onto his patio, he sees, in cold blue-white relief, the bald head of a man just below the precipice and the stabbing glint of a shovel head as it rises and falls.
He approaches across the rough lawn. The shovel stops. The head disappears. Just the wind, rustling the beach grass and washing over him, bringing the deadsweet smell of low tide.
He would feel foolish but disturbing coincidences begin to overflow for Detective O’Roarke because the bewildering visions and counterfeit memories that plague him are merging with the clues of the murder of the high profile actress he is investigating and they are pointing directly at the killer…
Detective Peter O’Roarke.
Frantic, he misdirects his homicide team and begins clawing through truth and untruth in a personal investigation that leads him back to the death of his wife, the life of the actress and the sinister relationship they all shared.
C. J. Booth, an avowed crime nut, continually gleaning the best cases from Homicide Detective conventions, and about whom Judith Guest said, ‘writes with a death grip on his subject’ and who Michael Connelly selected to be included in Journal of Legal Education’s short story anthology, comes to fiction with a broadcasting and film background. He is more than comfortable on camera and before a microphone, is fully vested in all social media and has now brought Detective Peter O’Roarke to life in the mystery-thriller, “THE PRECIPICE”.

Joined:26 Sep 2015, 22:33

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#11 Post by RMeredith » 01 Oct 2015, 23:36

1. Story Statement: Kate Lynn, in middle age, still can’t bring herself to jump into her life with both feet. One day she is called to help a group of old Southern activist friends who are struggling to rescue birds during the BP Oil Spill. She discovers that in fact she is being asked to do much more.

2. The Antagonist: Eddie Carmody, the angry, quadriplegic Vietnam vet whose gay younger brother was Kate’s best friend in her youth, has been delivered into the care of the residents of Bayou Eau Claire, a longtime community of friends in Louisiana. Eddie’s cloying charm quickly fades to reveal a bitter, rage filled, homophobic man who challenges the good will of the group and forces Kate to confront her old fear of being trapped by becoming involved. Just as he and the others begin to warm to one another, a tragedy for which he is held responsible threatens to destroy everything.

3. Potential Titles:

Look Up From the Water

Oil and Water

The Treateuse (a Cajun healer)

4. Genre and Comparables: This is a sequel to the award winning self published novel The Last of the Pascagoula, in the Southern Literary/Mainstream fiction genre. Readers who enjoy the work of Connie May Fowler’s Before Women Had Wings, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and the work of Sarah Addison Allen and Dorothea Frank Benton will love Kate Lynn, her mentally fragile, brilliantly artistic sister Martha, and the remarkable circle of friends of Bayou Eau Claire.

5. Primary Conflict: Kate’s desire to overcome her own inhibitions and self-doubts even as she does all she can to avoid helping her friends deal with her old nemesis Eddie.

Secondary Conflicts:

1. The struggle of a small, dedicated group of people to make a difference against the massive blow to the lives of both people and animals from the BP Oil Spill.
2. Kate’s indecision about her relationship with Morris, the fish-out-of-water man she has brought with her to Bayou Eau Claire.

6. Inner Conflicts: Kate still feels like an outsider in every situation in spite of having been freed from a lifetime of responsibility for her sister, created during a childhood trauma. She has, in fact, hidden behind her sister’s fragility and successful art. She cannot believe she has the kind of strength and commitment her friends are asking her to bring to the task at hand. The cracks she sees in her strong friends’ resolve unnerve her. Their challenge to her to draw on her heritage and early experiences to help them in physically healing the birds, and emotionally healing Eddie, force her to realize that she is really the one holding closed the door of her prison.

7. Setting: Bayou Eau Claire is a visually rich setting in the classic tradition of the Louisiana swampland. The people and the environment intertwine, as indicated by Kate’s rumination in this book on her surroundings, and on the connections forged in The Last of the Pascagoula:

“Dusk was falling around us like a spell of magic the way it had long ago, when it was just Tom, Claire and me on the other little pier that jutted out over the Pascagoula River beside Tom’s father’s bait shop. In all the years I had lived in this part of the world, I had never lost the wonder I felt when the frog chorus would slowly take up bellowing and chirping into the twilight. Then, as if by the hand of some unseen conductor, an orchestra of locusts would begin their high thrumming, and the lightning bugs, invisible just moments before, would flash their calls into the waning light. My granddaddy, who loved to drink and talk in about equal measure, had told me the lightning bugs were making dates with their lights, figuring out which boy or girl they would take to the Ugly Bug Ball that night.”

The threat the oil spill poses to this place and way of life serves as the undercurrent to the theme of finding the courage to fight, even when the odds seem insurmountable.

Joined:01 Oct 2015, 21:35

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#12 Post by sydneeelliot » 03 Oct 2015, 02:27

Assignment 1: Story Statement

Why didn’t she love me? Why couldn’t I love her? Polly always blamed herself for the problems between her mother and herself. Her grieving for her mother begins after she reads her mother’s journals. She grieves for a mother she never knew. She grieves for a mother who never wanted to know her. Polly realizes that no matter how much two people might try to love each other, there are situations when it’s impossible. Polly is finally able to let go of yearning for her mother’s love and any reconciliation with her brother. She trusts herself and continues on her way.

Assignment 2: Antagonist Sketch

Time moving too quickly and inner turmoil

Assignment 3: Breakout Title

l. Polly’s World
2. Sometimes We Just Can’t
3. The Right Love Is Important

Assignment 4:

Genre and Comparable:

Genre: women’s fiction. This book will appeal to woman of all ages who have difficulty understanding a seriously dysfunctional parent, especially a mother.


Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. The protagonist, Elena Greco becomes a successful novelist against the odds of a narcissistic mother and downtrodden environment.

Assignment 5: Conflict Line

An older woman, successful writer and painter is rejected by her mother and most of her family since childhood journeys back in time to try and discover her younger self and what gave her the strength to lead a fulfilling life against some serious odds.

Assignment 6: Inner Conflict, Secondary Conflict

Primary Conflict:
A woman searches for answers she’s not sure she wants.

Secondary Conflict:
She wants desperately to reconnect with her brother.

Assignment 6:

There are several settings:

Travelling from L.A. where Polly’s staying with her daughter and granddaughter after living on a Greek island for ten years to Boston. She meets a young Greek man, Christos, and there are several scenes in his uncle’s taverna in Cambridge, MA where they meet for dinner.

Polly stays in a B & B in the Back Bay area of Boston.

Polly and Christos go the Chelsea, a city north of Boston and where Polly grew up. She meets her niece in a Deli and receives the box with her mother’s journals.

Polly musters up the courage to knock on the door of the apartment where she grew up, meets and befriends the older woman, Claire, who now lives there. During her visits to the apartment, Polly is met by the younger Polly, imaginary) as she leaves the apartment house. They grew up in a semi-orthodox Jewish family where Polly, by age ten became agnostic. They explore the neighborhood as it was when they lived there in 1940-1950. The area around the apartment house was quite eclectic, surrounded by various shops, i.e. a bakery, pharmacy, meat market, and many more. They share several backstories together. Younger Polly is quite precocious and an excellent source of information for the older Polly.

A visit to Revere Beach with her new friends, Christos and Claire, reveals more mother/Polly stories.

After reading her mother’s journals, she burns them and visits the cemetery where her parents are buried. She spreads the ashes on her mother’s grave, not with anger, but with understanding and forgiveness.

Her decision to spend a year living on a cruise ship rather than return to Los Angeles may be Polly's last hurrah, but she'll make sure it's a good one.

Pitch: After struggling with feelings of being less than worthy for most of her life, the residual of having been the target of her mother’s subliminal meanness while growing up, a successful novelist and painter, Polly Brilliant, at the age of seventy-five, returns home to search for some answers as to why her mother didn’t love her.

Joined:04 Oct 2015, 03:06

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#13 Post by karenlhogan » 04 Oct 2015, 03:12

1. Story Statement

You search for closure, but what you get is experience.

2. Antagonistic Forces

Louise: a God who will not love her if she cannot accept it was his will that one of her newborn twin sons dies, and who will not forgive her for an early sin. This god demands absolute fealty, claims that all His acts are in the name of love.

John: Louise, whose God will not allow her to be redeemed by John’s love, and sins that are unfathomable to him, for which he cannot find forgiveness, and banish him from the love of those he loves.

Kate: A universe that has no god to console her for her mother’s death or the loss of her newborn daughter to adoption.

For all three: Disenfranchised grief—a grief that results from loss that has no ritualized or societal recognition that validates it.

3. Breakout Title

Because I Could Not Stop
Unfinished Stories
Still Life

4. Genre and Comparables

Genre: Novel in Stories

Comparables: (I did three because I'm insecure)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

The Joy of Funerals by Alix Strauss

4. Primary Conflict

Louise must accept God’s will if she is ever to be reunited with the twin son who dies the day after he is born, but cannot forgive Him for giving her two sons, then taking one away.

Brutalized by his father, John wants his wife, who is at war with God, to be redeemed by his love, and for his own redemption by being assured that his dead newborn son knew he loved him.

Kate looks for closure for her grief by trying to provide closure to a mother-in-law who is married to her grief, and a father-in-law who may die without ever knowing that his love made a difference.

5. Other matters of conflict:

Louise’s inner conflict:
Louise has a place in her mind where she stores memories she cannot accept. When they escape, she must return them to that place so they don’t intrude on her war with God.

John’s inner conflict:
John wants to be loved, wants to know his love makes a difference, but neither can happen unless he is forgiven for the sins he has committed against Louise and his father—though he has no understanding of what those transgressions are.

6. Kate’s inner conflict:
Kate wants redemption for the loss of her mother and daughter in a world that has neither God nor sins.

7. Setting

The stories span the early twentieth century and into the early twenty-first. The time period in which each one takes place is as much setting as is the physical places in which they take place.

John and Louise come of age in the early twentieth century in rural Missouri where the social norms are dictated by a Protestant God that requires absolute fealty. The authority of this world is enforced by family and church that provides safe haven for cruelty.

After enduring the Depression and War, they move to a small ranching community in California where Louise gives birth prematurely to twin sons, one of whom dies the day after his birth in 1949.

The medical system and religious systems conspire to banish Louise’s grief, while Louise’s self-absorption banishes John’s grief.

Kate’s mother dies when she is 15. She reacts by getting pregnant in a time period (mid 1960s) when unmarried girls where sent away to hide the shame of the pregnancy. The shame is so great that the girls are forced to take on different names, told that they will condemn their child to purgatory if they don’t give it up for adoption, and that they will forget they ever gave birth. Anesthetized for the birth, their babies are whisked away before they can see or hold them.

John and Louise came from a stoic generation that accepted rather than questioned authority. Kate came of age in the Sixties where questioning authority was the mantra—with the expectation that there would be answers.

At the dawn of the early twenty-first century, the two eras meet head on and Kate is left to make sense of it.

Joined:25 Aug 2015, 08:22

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#14 Post by gerritsh2606 » 07 Oct 2015, 17:25

Assignment #1: Story Statement

Free an ancient people from stasis who will in turn save the land

Assignment #2: Sketching the Antagonist

Herlan is young, handsome, smart, bold, and powerful…and he knows it. Having earned a place on Pulawa’s “High Council,” he is admired for his innovation and intelligence but reviled for his arrogance and relentless taunting. He delights in provoking colleagues and manipulating people to achieve his ends. To add insult to his colleagues, he steals the affections of Trisna, the master healer’s fiancée, and then strings her along in a vicious cycle of romance and abuse…while all the world watches in dismay. Though he seems to have no shame, his antics are deliberate—all part of a grander scheme.

Herlan walks a fine line between his open alliance with Pulawa’s leaders and an audacious secret coalition with Dahat, the nation’s deadliest enemy. Because he views Chancellor Kerson’s leadership as weak, Herlan schemes to use Dahat’s resources and personnel to topple Kerson’s government, with the full intention of turning against Dahat once he seizes control.

But Adit (MC) is the biggest obstacle to his plans. Ruthless, Herlan tries to eliminate him but fails again and again. Once he realizes Adit’s powers, he alters his strategy and intends to lure him into his camp.

Assignment #3: Finding a Breakout Title:

1. Fragments of Power
2. Ancient Power / Ancient Power Resurrected

Assignment #4: Comparables

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed and The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan.

Fragments of Power parallel’s Ahmed’s foreign setting and culture, though my novel is set in an Indonesian-like setting and mixture of tribal cultures. The main character, Adit, has many things in common with Jordan’s Rand al’Thor in that he doesn’t set out to save the world, but through the passage of time and circumstance, he accepts his destiny. However, Rand becomes a rebel savior, not even letting his closest friends know his plans whereas Adit works with trusted friends and becomes stronger for it.

Assignment #5: Primary Conflict (Coming of the “Agon”)

The primary conflict is within Adit himself. First, being a simple youth from a primitive jungle village, he doubts his significance, powers, and even his own acceptance by others. But as he uncovers an inconvenient truth, he finds himself not only fighting against the land’s enemy, but also with himself. Will he follow the instructions of his mentors, or will he expose the terrible truth and jeopardize his land?

Assignment #6: Inner Conflict, and Secondary/Social Conflict

Inner Conflict
Adit is a useless villager in a remote jungle who toys with the idea of leaving his tribe in search of healing for his crippled arm…and his brother in exile. When his magical talents are discovered by an unusual scouting team from his nation’s center of power, his world turns upside down. But the real inner conflict occurs when he discovers that the source of his power involves an unthinkable desecration of an ancient race in stasis. He must choose between continuing on his course of acquiring magical powers or forsake it altogether and search for another way to save his land from their enemies.

Secondary/Social Conflict
Rivalries and backstabbing by the land’s “sages” has become the modus operandi in Fragments of Power, exacerbated by one powerful sage stealing the affections of the master healer’s fiancée.
The land’s chief villain takes advantage of the government instability and begins attacking at the borders, creating a flood of refugees that pour into the capital.
Other “undesirables” sneak into the ranks of the refugees fleeing Pulawa’s border regions and enter The Hold undetected. Working together with a few traitors, they bring open conflict between national leaders, culminating in the battle for the seat of government.

Assignment #7: The Setting

The nation of Pulawa: Pulawa is a diverse nation of fierce tribal peoples with hundreds of dialects and unique customs. Each ethnic group has earned its distinctive reputations. Rivalries and prejudices create a politically-charged atmosphere that challenge Adit. The story visits four areas outside of the fortress: The Awar Marshes, a river delta of a thousand channels; The Potan Forest—Adit’s home, where the Jupami warrior people live in small tree houses; and two villages in the jagged Rema Mountains, home of the tough fist-fighting Remanites. Pulawa’s climate is tropical with exotic flora and fauna.

The Hold: Most of the novel takes place in a stone fortress at the pinnacle of the nation’s highest mountain. It was formed by connecting natural caves into a labyrinth of passages, and then quarrying its stone over decades until it reached its present cylindrical shape. For the next two centuries, engineers and stone smiths continued work until it emerged as the nation’s prized stronghold, impregnable, housing Pulawa’s royalty for over three hundred years.

The fortress has ten levels, each used for different purposes. The first and tenth house the military, the ninth houses the government and the medical and intellectual centers. The sixth, seventh, and eighth levels are residential, the fifth the education center, and the second is for mass storage, entertainment, and the famous market complex. The third and fourth levels are still uninhabited. the Upper Surface has grazing land, farmland, watchtowers, small factories, and smithies.

Within The Hold are several large enclaves for gatherings, research, and medical purposes, many of which are stages for conflict scenes (assassinations, battles, and major confrontations.) But the non-residential areas (second, third, and fourth levels) also invite mystery, bad characters, and trouble of all kinds.

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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#15 Post by skecanj1 » 14 Oct 2015, 10:20

Under "DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES", about halfway down, you say "We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below." The only thing I found was the reference to - were there more websites that deal with comps?

Joined:25 Sep 2015, 03:05

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#16 Post by seraphstein » 18 Oct 2015, 12:14

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Try to beat them at their own game, letting love lead the way.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story.

The Proginauts, a hybrid humanoid and machine species, under the guise of charity, enslave and clone the last living members of the human race and transport them to a planet far away. In order to manipulate their captives, this alien race removes all positive attachments like love and family from popular culture while augmenting negative attachments like jealousy, fear, and addiction to tattoos. They then employ the same principles of distortion and horrific amusement that the ancient Romans used during the gladiator period to control the masses via Heat battles in a virtual reality arena.

As a side effect of their tech, the sterile Proginauts need the compatible DNA of the humans for future viability. They are desperate, their leaders now aware that they are more dependent on their slaves than their slaves on they.

Gaige, the protagonist’s elusive Ink Dealer lives a dual life. He becomes her main love interest and seems to care deeply about her on a soul level, yet is later discovered to be both an alien-elite and the man who purchases her as his property. His true intentions, like Potter’s Snape, virtually impossible to decipher.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title

The City of Ink: Dawn Rising
The Jane Clone
The Gridrion


Develop two smart comparables for your novel.

1. The Martian. The voice and sarcastic humor of Isla, the protagonist, mirrors Andy Weir’s main character in his best selling first person narrative about an astronaut determined to survive against all odds. I would argue that the vary nature of Weir’s character is the reason he achieves his goal, and this is undeniably true of Isla as well.

2. Red Rising. The nature of the journey of Pierce Brown’s main character’s trials and tribulations in the face of the deep deceit of the antagonistic force, which inevitably engage the reader’s mounting desire for the protagonist to succeed, drive both stories through peril after peril as the narrative advances.

3. Hunger Games. Yes, I know, beat to death. But Isla and Katniss would be best friends or terrible foe in the arena, I have no doubt, so I had to include it here because the parallels are undeniable. Delete, delete… yes and murder the darlings, too. But if you thought Katniss was hot, wait till you meet Isla, her older, sexier, more exciting, complex, and wittier contemporary.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above.

A disgruntled, yet noble young female must battle against all odds and simultaneously surrender to the power of love in order to save what’s left of humanity.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.

Isla-Jane-53 is at war with her inner voice. In a world where survival depends on being selfish, hard, and cynical, she is innately good, kind, and generous. She hates herself for being so “weak” and eventually must surrender to her innate heroism and embrace her true self.

To compound this internal turmoil of self acceptance, Isla realizes that the deep, almost undeniable attachment and affection she feels for a youth named Cale must never be known by those in power or surely he will be killed to punish her. The more the youth reaches for her, the more she must forsake him, in order to protect him. Eventually he becomes so injured by her pretend indifference that he joins forces with her enemy. Later, Isla realizes that she is the clone of the woman who was his birth mother. At the climax of the novel, she is forced to battle Cale in the arena and must choose between his or her own death. Willingly she agrees to die and the memory of their genetic bond flashes across the screen for all to see, prompting the general audience to go against the wishes of the alien-elite and demand both their lives be spared. As the novel ends, Isla condemned of being a genetic traitor is hung, but not before one drop of her blood seeps through Cale's pores initiating a biochemical cascade, activated by his love for her, that will allow his to absorb her gifts/consciousness. He will then go on to set his people free and reseed the future of humanity in the second and third novels. And although she will die certain that she has failed her mission, nothing could be further from the truth.

Isla belongs to the Levana kith and her tribe is in constant battle with the Irmin, a kith known for thieving and treachery.

Like all the humans who “escaped” Earth, Isla is at war with her genes, which are damaged by the radiation fallout of the war of 2020 that afforded the Proginaut’s entry onto the political scene of Earth to begin with.

Even though Isla does not, the Monitors, or police force of the Proginauts, know that Isla is a clone of the original Jane. They are constantly looking for a reason to beat, hang, or demoralize her for retribution of her superiority over them intellectually.

Gaige, the chief Antagonist, evokes undeniable urges in Isla that confuse and invigorate her. The City has no word for love or even an awareness of sex, and poor innocent Isla must sort through all the complex emotions of carnal love without any base of knowledge in this area.

The alien-elite (of whom Gaige turns out to belong to) are well aware of the prophesy that a Jane clone is the only one who can overturn their power and bring forth the emancipation of the human race, and they are also trying to find a reason to kill or publicly shame her.

Last, but never least, Isla must battle too enemies to list in the arena. She is neurologically advanced and uses her unique mind to tap into the very nature of the device used against her in Heat battles. In doing so, she beats the aliens at their own game.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail.

The sun-facing side of Gliese 667c, a planet 22-light-years away from Earth in a Proginaut alien territory known simply as The City. The red sand is ubiquitous augmenting the hostile hot, dry air inside the two walls of glass that contain the three thousand or so inhabitants. Outside the glass, lies the Dunes (more perilous sand) and then fences that mark the borders of the Frightening, an unexplored zone that is rumored to be rampant with mutant monsters from radiation poisoning. Two suns, whose positions never change, partially light the skyline at all times. We never travel to the cold dark side of this planet until Book Two (The Jacob Clone)

44 habitation quarters of varying size and quality are strategically positioned throughout the City so that the warring clans, or kiths, are kept in a constant state of danger from another tribe. On the north side of the City is the Gridiron, futuristic version of the Coliseum, where the Heat battles are held. On the south side is the Foundry, a space station like structure, housing ten work sections of two thousand square feet each where the 53s do their occupational assignments at a biotech pharmaceutical factory constantly in danger of blowing them up.

Inside the Gridiron, the 53s battle in a central arena known as the Entertainment Sphere, which holds a publicly projected 3-D screen of the battle under way. The 53s connect, via a port in their skull, into a machine which combines their dueling minds with confounders, such as lightening-lava storms and mutant spiders, from the arena itself. This arena, superimposed onto a similar space in the home world of the Proginauts, allows them to indirectly observe and participate as an audience.

(Just as an aside, the Gliese system really exists and is currently thought to hold the most promise as a part of the universe where humanoid life forms might exist. As best as can be predicted, I have described this planet as true to the current understanding of its nature and atmosphere…)

Joined:18 Feb 2016, 03:21

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#17 Post by BettinaHunt » 20 Feb 2016, 23:38

Option 1: The Accidental Warrior
First Assignment: Story Statement
Holly kills monsters and fights her family to become warrior-queen of her tribe.

Second Assignment: Antagonist Plots the Point
Dolan Aldis is the most unfortunate kind of monster, one who won’t accept his fate. With his Amazon mother and his incubus father, this cambion has clung to his father loyally. Everyone knows that the warriors on his mother’s side would kill him if they learned of his existence. Publicly, Dolan supports his father’s ambitious plan to attack the Amazons in their hidden city. But privately, Dolan plots to twist his father’s goals and protect his own future. Since Holly is vying for power among the Amazon’s ranks, Dolan sends countless monsters to kill her before she can succeed. He already has enough difficulty with his father’s ambitions; the last thing he needs is for some upstart Amazon princess to rally the tribe against Dolan’s devices.

Third Assignment: Breakout Title
Contract Monster Killers
The Accidental Warrior
An Amazon Scorned

Fourth Assignment Genre/Comparable Titles:
The Accidental Warrior follows a close-knit but contentious family of supernatural warriors as they compete to lead their tribe. These warriors are Amazons from a lost tribe, which moved to the U.S. centuries ago. Then, they started killing monsters for sport. Saving non-Amazons was a barely-noticed side-effect. This urban fantasy combines the supernatural fighting in the Harry Dresden series (Jim Butcher) with the team dynamics of the werewolf pack in Carrie Vaugn’s Kitty Norville series.

Fifth Assignment: Conflict Line
Holly competes to be her tribe’s new queen by killing monsters and saving civilians. During her quest, she uncovers a plot by the monsters to overrun and destroy the tribe where they live. She returns to her tribe’s hidden city and repels this monster army’s attack.

Sixth Assignment: Additional Conflict Levels
Primary Conflict Scenario: Holly proves herself as a new member of the Amazon tribe by killing monsters, saving would-be victims, and then by taking on an invading army and fighting the current queen’s assassin.

Secondary Conflict Scenario: Holly is confronted with an aggressive matriarchy in her new-found tribe. Men are at best ignored and at worst viewed with contempt. Holly includes a man from the tribe on her team, hurting her chances at the throne, but adhering to her sensibilities as someone who grew up outside the tribe.

Inner Conflict Scenario: While searching for the reason behind violent attacks in a town, Holly discovers that a scorpion-man has been attacking people in the desperate search for his mate. Instead of killing the scorpion-man, Holly helps him find his mate and punish the abductors. This goes against the black and white Amazon code, which considers all monsters dangerous. Holly must resolve this dilemma within herself: some dangerous monsters can be trusted.

Seventh Assignment: Setting
Thalestria is a centuries-old city, hidden in caves deep under the Appalachian mountain range. It is home to thousands of Amazon mothers, daughters, and their supporting male relatives. Apartments, schools, gymnasiums, and palaces are all carved into the caverns, and shafts tunneling to the surface bring in fresh air. People buy their residences with trophies from their kills. The talon of a West American dragon could pay for groceries for a year, or buy a modest place near the massive cavern’s entrance.

Option 2: In Gods We Trust
First Assignment: Story Statement
Celesta solves the mystery of abducted gods and defeats her own maker.

Second Assignment: Antagonist Plots the Point
Prometheus knows what’s best for mortals, the pantheon, and the entire world. His domain is foreknowledge, after all. It’s too bad that his protégé and Remnant Celesta refuses to see that. His intentions are good, his means unlimited, and his vision incontestable. If some of his methods are cruel, well, the gods deserve his ire, after what they did to him. As for Celesta... she can rule at his side, or be the first casualty of his justifiable uprising.

Third Assignment: Breakout Title
The Divine Detective
Stolen Olympus
In Gods We Trust

Fourth Assignment Genre/Comparable Titles:
Celesta knows when the gods are lying, which makes her perfect detective when Athena, Hera, and Ares are abducted. In Gods We Trust features Zeus and Poseidon like Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief and a detective with strange abilities, similar to Odd Thomas from Odd Apocalypse.

Fifth Assignment; Conflict Line
Under threat by Zeus and Hades, Celesta agrees to use her powers to find several missing gods. She fights several gods before discovering the abductor’s identity. By that point, most of the pantheon is captured, and Celesta must face and overcome the deity who is responsible for her powers.

Sixth Assignment: Additional Conflict Levels
Primary Conflict Scenario: Celesta solves the mystery of abducted gods, eventually fighting and outsmarting the god who made her what she is.

Secondary Conflict Scenario: Celesta doesn’t fit neatly into the pantheon’s hierarchy. As difficult as it is for her to survive audiences with gods, however, demigods envy her. They fear there are no good quests left, and that every worthwhile accomplishment is already done. They are jealous of the attention the gods pay her. Celesta tries to convince them that attention – such as Hephaestus throwing a battleaxe at her – is overrated.

Inner Conflict Scenario: Celesta is offered godhood by one of the pantheon’s sentient artifacts. She wrestles with the temptation, because she has seen how petty and misguided some of the gods can be. Couldn’t she do it better? Doesn’t she at least deserve a chance to try? Eventually decides against it, because she fears what her powers could do to humans, if left unchecked.

Seventh Assignment: Setting
As Celesta visits various deities she sees that their fortresses, hideaways, and chambers reflect their often contrasting natures. Ares lives in a fortified castle, surrounded by anachronistic battles, but eagerly invites his worst enemies to visit and enjoy the entertainment. Hera withholds her presence from Zeus by resting in a cottage on a cloud, within his domain, but out of his reach. Demeter resides in a valley that is a microcosm of the seasons, but its careful balance can be disrupted by her emotions. Even before Celesta questions a deity, these surroundings give her insight into their pet peeves, personalities, and weaknesses.

Joined:18 Feb 2016, 02:37

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#18 Post by JaneOKeeffe » 28 Feb 2016, 05:17

First Assignment: Queen of the Range Story Statement

Linda must stay in control of the Mapes ranch.

Second Assignment: Antagonist Plots the Point

Queen of the Range – Antagonist
Linda’s first impression of her antagonist - Bobby Jim pulled his head out of the window and opened the driver’s door, the driver hopped out. She was pretty; blonde, blue-eyed, and that bony figure that all the girls had these days. She wore pressed XX Wranglers and a cobalt blue turtleneck. She had a pair of powder blue chunky cowboy boots; around her neck, she wore a large bejeweled crucifix. She stood next to Bobby Jim, looking at me expectantly.
“Mom,” he said. “This is Shelley Hirsch.”
After three days, Linda knows there is something wrong - As I rode off, I thought about the best way to talk to Bobby Jim when Shelley left. I knew I needed to be calm and rational. There would be nothing gained by tearing into him about this girl. Why, if I met her at a bull sale I probably would have liked her. She was smart and seemed to know cattle and horses, probably a little too attached to horses but still, I generally like women who know their way around a ranch. The only problem with Shelley Hirsch was that she didn’t fit in at the Mapes Ranch.

Third Assignment: Breakout Title

Queen of the Range

Fourth Assignment Genre/Comparable Titles: I need a novel with a strong female first person protagonist who can't quite see what is right in front of her.

Fifth Assignment: Conflict Line

After years of hard work and sacrifice, Linda savors every day on the successful Mapes Ranch she built. When her son Bobby Jim brings home Shelley Hirsch, Linda immediately recognizes a threat to her place in the ranch, her world.

Sixth Assignment: Additional Conflict Levels
Inner Conflict
Linda must decide whether to reveal to Bobby Jim that he is the result of an affair Linda had while she had to work off the ranch to pay down debt.

Secondary Conflict
For most of their marriage and courtship, Linda's husband Bob Mapes is a problem drinker. Linda deals with it many different ways, from ignoring it, to threats, to joining him. At times Linda enlists her mother-in-law's help and guidance to deal with Bob's drinking. When the Mapes family goes to a social function Linda finds herself paying attention to how much other men drink. Bob's drinking is something that Linda cannot solve and it ultimately kills him.

Seventh Assignment: Setting

Most of the story takes place on the Mapes Ranch, a cow-calf operation in rural Oregon. Linda Mapes grew up in Jasper a small town 30 miles from the Mapes Ranch and she went to nursing school in Portland Oregon. Portland and Jasper play small roles in Queen of the Range but the main setting is the Mapes Ranch. Each month there is a description of what the ranch looks like. Here is a part of Linda's description of April : April is a great month in Coyote Valley. It warms up and nothing is better than seeing the calves running and bucking in the sun. It doesn’t take long for the irrigation water to green up the meadows either. I’ve always thought that somebody ought to paint a picture of Coyote Valley at the end of April. The creeks are full, the grass is peeking out of the dark ground in the pastures and when it isn’t raining, the sun is shining brilliantly. The cows would pose chewing their cuds as they nurse their calves. If the painter was a detail guy, he could show the new Mapes Ranch brand on the calves left rib. If he really wanted to get everything, he wouldn’t leave out the scrum of fat black and white puppies on the lawn.

Joined:28 Feb 2016, 07:05

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#19 Post by esmith269 » 28 Feb 2016, 07:08


these assignments were thought provoking and challenging. Here goes :)

1. Story Statement: Lauryn must find redemption and acceptance no matter what it takes

2. Sketch of Antagonistic Force
Binky, Lauryn’s mother, loves money and anyone willing to give it to her is considered a friend. Binky is uncaring and calculating to a fault when it comes to Lauryn but nurturing to Lauryn’s younger brother from a different relationship. Her number one priority is to keep herself living in style and she will let nothing stand in the way of that – not even her first born child. Binky manipulates Lauryn through slights then reels her in with compliments when Lauryn serves a role in Binky’s next scheme. Binky is an expert at giving and then withholding love to the point that it drives Lauryn to seek attention from all the wrong places and, ultimately, propels Lauryn into a cycle of self-deprecation and poor decisions. Even when she is not near Lauryn, Binky’s impact on her daughter is lasting and apparent in all of Lauryn’s decisions. Binky, a force all her own, provides a deep perspective of Lauryn’s internal conflict and allows the reader to sympathize with Lauryn’s lack of wisdom and her resentful outlook on the world.
3. Breakout Title:
a. A Single Lie, A Simple Truth
b. To Catch a Feather
c. The Mark of Love
d. A Solemn Truth
e. Before Too Long

4. Two Comparables:
My current work fits into the Contemporary, YA, mystery: social class, family issues
• PUSH by Sapphire is my first comparable because the story follows the gritty life of a young protagonist struggling through family issue, teen pregnancy and poverty. She must learn to survive despite unbearable circumstances and no family support.
• We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is similar to my work because it is a contemporary view at social class issues in a teenaged world. My protagonist definitely encounters classist issues despite her yearning to be one of the Joneses.

5. Conflict Line
Lauryn, scorned and shunned by everyone she’s ever tried to love, must choose between mercy and revenge as her life and the life of her one true love hangs in the balance.

6. Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have.
a. Protagonist’s family is broken up, her father becomes estranged, her mother, neglectful and abusive. Protagonist wants her mother’s acceptance but is resentful in realizing it won’t be granted no matter how many attempts are made. Protagonist is forced to make many “adult” decisions before the age of 17 and must turn away from her dreams despite having worked so hard to change her fate.

b. Scenario 1: Protagonist, a book smart, smart aleck teen, feels dejected and at the same time, resentful towards a mother (primary antagonist) who is scornful, manipulative and highly motivated by money. The mother manipulates her daughter in such a way that forever changes the course of their lives and puts their relationship on a sure crash course.

c. Scenario 2: Protagonist despises the poverty that is overtaking her once upstanding neighborhood, especially once she has occasion to travel to the “other side of town” where the living is good but she clearly is an outcast despite her obvious connection to wealth through unforeseen circumstance. This hatred drives her to run from the hell she knows into the depths of an unforeseen inescapable hell that threatens to eat her alive.

7. Detailed Setting
Story takes place in a once booming, now declining Chicago neighborhood with closing business, trash filled alleys and a scarce sense of belonging. The protagonist observes the sharp contrast between what was and what is no more. The setting is a metaphor for the decline she experiences in life since her father left their home and the relationship with her mother deteriorates to a tense conflict that is difficult to resolve even with distance and time.

Joined:16 Feb 2016, 20:34

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#20 Post by ldcabotjr » 15 Mar 2016, 02:38

Assignment 1: Story Statement

Life in obscurity was not in the cards for the retired Navy SEAL operative, CIA special operations officer and bon vivant. Attempts to leave his previous lives and find peace of mind failed like standing dominoes against a gusting wind. Determined to end the intrusions into his planned life of solitude he decides to take the fight to those who refuse him his goal.

Assignment 2: Antagonist Sketch

Darden Alloicious Kinnerman - DAK to most people, attracts danger and intrigue like a tourist attracts street hawkers. Despite repeated attempts to leave his past behind and settle into quiet retirement, people from his past continue to bring history to life in the form of requests to take part in clandestine operations to claims that one particular operation he played a key role in was a failure and that he must be held accountable.

DA Assignment 4: K decides he must confront what some people are claiming was his terror, and his alone, during one his most complicated missions. But returning to the people and places from his past he learns that even his closest friends have a much different memory of his exploits than he has. In order to learn the truth of his past, DAK faces personal and professional challenges that will test his willpower and push him to the brink of death.

Assignment 3: Breakout Title

The Breakaway Man
Forgotten Deeds
Destiny Comes Calling

Assignment 4: Genre and Comparables

Genre: action, mystery, suspense fiction. This book will appeal primarily to action/thriller readers, although it is intended to appeal to a cross section of readers.

North Water by Ian McGuire (2015) Setting is the focal point of this grisly mystery/thriller.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) (2015) This is the third in a series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike. It is a mystery but also a story about a woman and a man “at a crossroads of their personal and professional life.”

Assignment 5: Conflict Line

DAK is forced to take a new look at events from his past that he had reconciled were required and reasonable actions. The only way he is able to do this is to return to the scene of some of his past activities -

Assignment 6: Inner Conflict, Secondary Conflict

He must revisit places he ever wanted to see again. That means swapping a life of retirement and easy living for the rowdy, seat of your pants life he once swore he would never see again.

Returning to his past life also means leaving behind people and relationships he spent years cultivating. This means bringing back assets of his covert skills he knows will alienate some of his closest friends, and even family.

Secondary Conflict

DAK must make choices he never imagined he would face. He begins to question values and beliefs he molded as a child, you adult and throughout his years of activity as a warrior and operative for several organizations.

ASSIGNMENT 7: Settings

The story opens in a wintery lakeside scene in northern Maine. DAK escapes a near death incident that makes him start questioning some of his past exploits. Truth, lies, reality, or make believe. He decides he must learn where the lines. In his search for answers, He travels from Northern Maine to the Virginia foothills and Shenandoah Valley and on to various cities in Africa and South America. Colorful scenes and characters move DAK through a labyrinth of his past that he thought had been reconciled.

Joined:28 Mar 2016, 09:53

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#21 Post by tatianas » 28 Mar 2016, 10:03

Story Statement:
A girl’s life is saved by a spell that now takes the lives of those she loves; she must right the wrong and stop the curse before it destroys those she holds most dear.

An indefatigable force of fate was set into motion by the whispering spell performed on Margarita as a young child. It strikes at the prescribed moment at someone Margarita holds dear, getting increasingly closer to those she loves most. The force defies rational explanation. It cannot be appeased or averted. At every fulfillment, the curse acts through a human agent, the villain of the moment, who is placed in Margarita’s path as a threat. The villains are all different – a narcissistic physician, a disturbed middle schooler, a tortured poet, a mercurial Mafioso – but they all have something in common. Each has a vulnerability, a streak humanness Margarita will invariably discover as she untangles the strand that strings together the lives of the villains and the saviors.


The Seven Saviors
The Whispering of the Seven Saviors

1. Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning and The Bonesetter’s Daughter.
Like these books, my novel would appeal to the readers who love discovering new places and cultures through a character-driven narrative with elements of suspense. Similarly to these works my Amy Tan, my novel blends subtle elements of traditional folklore and mysticism into the fabric of everyday life.
2. Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See
My story allows similar candid glimpses into the lives of people living against the backdrop of a milestone event known to most readers from schoolbook history. I, too, begin my story with my protagonist as a child and trace her progress into adulthood striving to create memorable characters whose decisions and actions will tug at the strings of my reader’s hearts.

Conflict Line:
With her loved ones falling victim to an arcane curse, a girl growing to adulthood beneath the shadow of the crumbling Iron Curtain learns to wage battle against both her own fate and the social injustice that is the fate of many.

Inner Conflict:
In her early years, Margarita wants to be a fighter for justice, a builder of a better world. Later, she turns to the pursuit of far more mundane goals but harbors a sense of disappointment for not having lived up to her ideals. When she finds out about the curse, she is appalled: she does not see herself as deserving of the sacrifices of others – certainly not someone worth dying for. In the end, she proves to be the hero she was always meant to be, rendering her own sacrifice to both avert the curse from striking her son and preventing the breakdown of a crucial Middle Eastern ceasefire.
Social Conflict:
With every revolution of the seven-year cycle, we see Margarita’s life entwine with that of a savior, the person who will die in fulfillment of the whispering. Margarita will forever carry the burden of responsibility for the saviors’ deaths. In turn, they each see and love the light shining inside her. Their sacrifice, though preordained by the curse, is not unwilling: in their eyes, Margarita is worth dying for.

The novel is in seven parts, all connected by a single thread but each defined by a unique setting that supports the arc of the characters and the story.
The story begins in Cold War Russia with flashbacks to the pre-revolutionary era in a small Polish village, where the events that are about to unfold were first set into motion.
The next part, where the protagonist, Margarita is eight years old, is set at a boarding school for children of Soviet diplomats. This hermetical world is only a half-a-day drive from Moscow, but it may as well be a different planet. The small society of kids has its own rules, hierarchies and traditions. Margarita forms an unlikely friendship with a woman in the nearby village who secretly prints samizdat in her basement.
Seven years later, we are in Moscow at the end of the 1980s when perestroika and glasnost are stirring the foundations of the long-repressed Soviet society. Margarita is a teenager in the midst of it all. She falls in with an avant-garde group of writers and musicians who are among the first to practice the freedom of art and speech.
In Part IV, Margarita is a senior at a university in Vienna. Her family has moved to Austria to follow her father’s job with the United Nations. In the lush environment of the old European capital, she sets aside her erstwhile freedom-fighting aspirations and finds herself caught between two loves: an American executive moonlighting as an economics professor at Margarita’s college and a mercurial Russian with underworld connections.
Seeking a way to stop the cycle of deaths, Margarita and her mother travel back to Russia, which is now a different world from the one they once knew.
Attempting to outrun her fate, Margarita moves to Seattle. She builds a new life, bears a son and believes herself finally free from the influence of the curse.
Margarita realizes that the curse still threatens her loved ones and the next – and final – target is her son. The final act takes place the Middle East of the near future. Margarita is once again involved in a cause of freedom and peace. She finally finds the way to break the deadly cycle and save her son, while helping preserve a fragile peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, in the tunnels beneath the Gaza strip.

Joined:29 Mar 2016, 17:32

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#22 Post by jschrader83 » 29 Mar 2016, 22:12

Assignment #1: Story Statement
Between decadent spa treatments and indulging in fantastic cuisine, it is up to Georgia and Scarlett to search for clues to make sure their good friend is not the next to die.

Assignment #2: Sketching the Antagonist
Always watching, always observing. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike. It was time to get what is deserved. No more playing nice. The time is now. Better watch out. You’ll never suspect it was me.

Assignment #3: Finding a Breakout Title
A Killing in Cactus Country
Deadly Desert
Distrust in the Desert

Assignment #4: Comparables
Cozy Mystery Genre
• Murder, She Wrote: Aloha Betrayed (2015): Every book in the series is set in a different location and the protagonist is not overstepping her bounds in solving the crime or being told over and over by the police to stay out of it.

Assignment #5: Conflict Line
Their first assignment as luxury travel writers put this Mother/daughter writing team in a ritzy desert city using their investigative wits to help solve a murder and making sure their friend is not the next victim.

Assignment #6: Other Matters of Conflict
• Inner Conflict: Georgia and Scarlett feel anxious to help their good friend, M.J. Montgomery, figure out who murdered her ex-husband. M.J. drove ahead of Georgia and Scarlett and written in the dust of M.J.’s back windshield read the words “WATCH OUT”. It was then, they knew M.J. was the killer’s next target and they must do something to protect her.
• Secondary Conflict: Detective Blake Donahue hadn’t felt this way since his wife died four years ago. He had butterflies. M.J. Montgomery was sitting across from him. She was the ex-wife of a man who was murdered and Blake was the lead Detective on the case. He can’t get involved with someone so close to the investigation, but he couldn’t help turn his feelings off. Did M.J. feel the same way? Would she be interested in pursuing something more if, or when, he solved the case? Blake was more determined than ever to get this murder solved and see where things may lead.

Assignment #7: Setting
• Bell Street Tavern, Scottsdale, Arizona: a hopping bar with dark lighting, cold air-conditioning, and strong drinks, also the scene of the murder
• Royal Duchess Resort and Spa, Scottsdale, Arizona: 5 Diamond Resort that has fine dining, bars, pools, and Aztec décor
• Desert Winds Spa: located at the Royal Duchess Resort, this spa is where Georgia and Scarlett get pampered and also will learn a little something about the recently deceased victim
• Desert Overlook Bar & Grill: outdoor lunch spot, scene of an altercation, new clue to go on, find out M.J. is in even more danger than they thought
• Bonanza Western Town: location of a major breakthrough in the investigation, find someone there that is unexpected

Joined:27 Mar 2016, 05:59

#23 Post by DanMcMontana » 30 Mar 2016, 05:20

under construction

Joined:30 Mar 2016, 05:37

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#24 Post by lauragilliam » 30 Mar 2016, 05:41

Pitch for OUTLIARS

A recovered teen addict, 23 year old Kat Byrne has built a new life and become a gifted healer – until a package containing a mysterious substance propels Kat back to the military research facility run by her father, Colonel Aidan Byrne. When the Colonel reveals that her comatose older brother was the victim of an assassin, Kat decides to stay on the base, despite her vow to never see her father or brother again.
Piecing together clues her brother left behind, finds evidence that Lionel Atkins – billionaire oil CEO and old school chum of her brother – hired the assassin to bury evidence of petroleum research creating a plague on young children. Kat has the only remaining sample. With the help of a soldier who knew her brother, she convinces three young scientists on the base to create a cure. As plague infections rise worldwide and the base is slated for closure, a lab accident gives her soldier accomplice a life threatening injury. Kat makes a deadly bargain to save his life – carrying genetic samples in her own womb. Kat’s body begins alarming changes as deadlines loom. Can she get her reunited family out before disaster erupts or will her own body create devastation far worse than the plague?

Protect her family and find a cure for world plague.



The antagonistic force in OUTLIARS is layered. The personal antagonist is Lionel Atkins, a billionaire oil CEO and former schoolmate who ordered the hit on Patrick Byrne (Kat’s brother). Kat has met Atkins, but they don’t know each other. Atkins phones Kat’s mother and pressures her father to try and find where she and her brother are hiding, but Kat and Atkins do not meet in this novel. He is a master mind character, shadowy in this first novel, who employs minions to do his bidding. Pat Byrne used to be one of his minions, until he tried to run off with the sample. Atkins represents corporate greed willing to sacrifice the innocent for profit, but he also has a personal antipathy to the Byrnes. He was jealous of Patrick and desired Kat, though she rebuffed him. The pressure exerted by Atkins keeps Kat hidden on the base and unable to go to the government or media with the information she finds, thus driving her into cahoots with…
Najiv Kapoor, the geneticist she relies on to create the plague antitoxin. Najiv, driven by ambition and philosophical zeal, creates a GM food that grows out of raw cellulose and cleans toxic water. He requires Kat to carry the sample in exchange for his help with no regard for her health. Ultimately, his impatient careless megalogmania irrevocably changes human civilization.
On the base, medic Harrison – a minion of Atkins - tries to overdose Patrick with morphine and Kat barely saves him when she first arrives. He continues to feed information to Atkins and it is his interference which causes the accident that injures Kat’s accomplice and creates the huge lab explosion at the final climax.


Mad Addam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood
This series deals with genetic engineering run amok, like in my series. And, yet, like in my books, the decisions are all personal, arising from family and childhood turmoil. Human beings make world changing decisions based on their own internal conflicts.

Wool by Hugh Howey
People live in a protected environment after a human created disaster, like in my series.

Xenogenesis Series by Octavia Butler
My protagonist must choose whether to join with another genetically engineered species and become something other than human, just as the human survivors do in Butler’s novels.

The Windup Girl and the The Water Knife, Paulo Bacigalupi
American desert setting. (water knife) Deals with climate change and scarce resources.
Genetic manipulation gone awry (windup girl).

Vigilantes, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Female protagonist solving a mystery in a sci fi setting.

The Children Star, Joan Slonczewski
People changed by genetic engineering fighting against greedy corporation.

How mine is unique: World disaster leads to an anti-dystopia. The world has stopped working as it did because the underclass no longer strives to change. They are essentially satisfied. In their Neo-Edenic state, what is the destiny of human kind? Is the seeing man king if the world follows no one?

A young woman responds to her estranged brother’s summons, becoming embroiled in a struggle to thwart the consequences of genetic meddling and protect the world’s children from plague.


Primary: Kat fights against drug relapse and her baser urges. She has identified her own aggressive instincts and sexuality as undesirable in her quiet, peaceful life since recovery. She has determined to be a life affirming healer who is never personally compromised. She does not want to become a manipulator like the rest of her family. But, temptations are intense and she is actually quite skilled as a manipulator.

Scenario for primary conflict:
Kat helps one of the scientists during an Adderall induced breakdown and he falls in love with her. She is tempted to use her influence on him, against her ethical standards.

The genetic sample Kat carries influences her hormones, making her both quite libidinous and very attractive to males. She must navigate a minefield of mutual attraction as she works with four young men to get the cure distributed. Should she sexually manipulate these men in order to get what she wants?

Secondary: Kat feels both love and anger toward her father and brother. After they humiliated her at age 18 and had her boyfriend deported, she swore to never see either again. However, her brother is seriously injured and – with her substantial healing skills - she can help him as no one else can. As angry as she was at her father, he is dying of cancer and she struggles to keep her righteous anger hot when these men who were once very dear to her are suffering. Indecision creates turmoil and she makes mistakes. And yet, she must find the strength to fight against corporate minions and world destroying plague, not become mired in doubt. She doesn’t know if she should trust her father with the information she has learned. In conflict, she feels they both need protection and she can’t abandon them.

Scenario for secondary conflict:
Once he is well enough, her brother Pat picks a fight with Kat. He triggers her by acting arrogant. She gets in touch with her anger and breaks his nose. Then, they can be at peace again. She realizes Patrick caused the fight on purpose in order to clear their old business and cement them as a team.

OUTLIARS is set in the American Southwest Desert at a classified military research facility in Fort Bliss, Texas, near El Paso. The remoteness is important because it creates a perception of isolation that causes Kat to make decisions she might not otherwise make. Surveillance and internet access are controlled. When the lab explosion happens, nefarious people are able to escape before the authorities arrive.
The desert setting is important because much of the research utilizes solar, wind and lightning power. Her first weeks back in the desert, Kat becomes very sunburned and Najiv convinces her to take some probiotics that cure her skin. This foreshadows the changes that happen later in her body. This book is about climate change and genetic manipulation and the desert is a particularly sensitive climate full of delicate species. Changes in rain and temperature reflect changes in plot and theme throughout the story. The ocean figures heavily into subsequent novels and the Rio Grande nearby serves as a vehicle for bringing genetic contaminants to the sea.

Joined:21 Sep 2016, 02:46

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

#25 Post by james2016nov » 21 Sep 2016, 02:56

Thank you Algonkian, for motivating me to read Gatsby again. I haven’t read it since graduate school, when I was about Gatsby’s age, selfishly pining for lost romance while planning how to win back my first love. The meaning of the book is far different to me now than it was then. And yesterday I found out that my Daisy, my dream molded from the youthful misconception of love, had just a few days ago passed away. The timing of the reread is surreal.

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