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Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 01 Sep 2018, 16:45
by AprilBairInk
Deadly allergies, the Spring Virus Syndrome, must be stopped.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 04 Sep 2018, 06:12
by jillparker
This is still a work in progress, but with only two weeks before the retreat, I wanted to get at least this much posted. Thank you!

Story Statement:
Choose between the life she loves and the eternity she has always dreamed of.
(Is it problematic that this statement ends with a preposition? It sounded unwieldy with correct grammar.)

Antagonist/Antagonistic Force:
My antagonist starts as a vague, menacing force behind the odd events surrounding the death that starts the plot. This darkness is eventually identified as the secret society behind the strange events, and further embodied as the head of the group. This character will threaten the protagonist, and present her with an ultimatum that drives the plot to its climax.

Breakout Title:
Blood Cure
Blood Born

Comparables:
Michael Talbot , "The Delicate Dependency "
I read this book when I was very young, and it has stayed with me for years. I feel like my writing style is similar to Mr. Talbot’s, as well as my desire to make supernatural characters as believable and sympathetic as possible. It was from this work that I began formulating my own “scientific” explanation for vampirism.

Conflict Line:
A model wife and mother must choose between a quietly happy life with her family, and the fantastical world of her dreams with her soulmate.

Conditions and Conflicts:
Before the protagonist is faced with her major ultimatum, she finds herself attracted to another man, and contemplating cheating on her husband, with whom she is frustrated. This thought of infidelity seems far less risqué once she begins to consider leaving everything behind. Does the weight of her choice make it easier to cheat? Does the temptation she is already facing make it easier to walk away from her husband?
She also struggles with her faith as the story line progresses. Shaken by the tragedy that begins the story, she wants to turn to her beliefs for comfort. She feels abandoned by God, and shocked by how quickly she considers breaking from her own moral code to have an affair. Then the offer comes that would have her turn her back on all natural laws and become, for all practical purposes, immortal. Even if she chooses to remain merely human, she will have to reconcile this dark knowledge with her lost faith.

Detailed Setting:
There are few things as picturesque as fall in a Midwest farming community. Summer conjures images of beach and surf under a blue sky. Winter brings to mind snow covered mountains. Spring could be anywhere with green meadows and early flowers.
But fall belongs in the heartland, where fields of corn and beans fade gradually from vibrant green to rustling brown before red and green behemoths pace through them, swallowing them whole. Acres of woods that were uniform green only days before take on an endless variety of hues under a sky somehow bluer than seems possible. The sun, setting noticeably earlier with each passing day, still has plenty of warmth, and more years than not there will be what the locals call an “Indian summer.” (No racism intended; not sure anyone nowadays even knows why it was ever called that.) But by October, no matter how warm the day, the nights and early mornings are crisp, and most houses will be displaying the staples of Halloween decorations; pumpkins, scarecrows, and various creatures of the dark rendered in lifelike molded plastic.
People in these small towns really do talk about the weather, and the harvest, and the high school football games. Everyone kid grows up wanting one of two things: settle down here and raise a family like the generations before you, or leave after graduation and never look back. A good many end up doing the opposite of what they had planned.

KNB's Algonkian Writer Retreat 2018 5 completed assignments

Posted: 05 Sep 2018, 20:16
by writerwoman6013
So my name is Katherine Nelson-Born and here goes my response to the first five (5) assignments thus far as a novice participant, looking forward to the writer retreat in two weeks.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

In the early 1970s, a runaway teen orphan and the orphanage teen handyman, linked by second sight, fight a plot to incite race riots threatening to blow apart the lives of New Orleanians.

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. NOTE: I couldn't figure out how to shorten this sufficiently...

Blaze runs a sex trade operation in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the early 1970’s, partnering with Mob Boss Carlos Marcello and a Wiseguy known as “Mr. New Orleans,” Frenchy Brouillette.
Blaze is Azazel and/or Kalfu, the dark counterpart to Papa Legba, the Voodoo intermediary between gods and humans. Blaze prefers his human form, which is of indeterminate age and race, tall with olive skin, dark eyes, a scar blazing from his right eye down his jaw line, and missing a piece of his right ear, slim, dapper, bald and hairless, always dressed in head-to-toe black, including his Fedora. He works at night and sleeps during the day, seldom rising before dinnertime.
Blaze’s associate, his right-hand man, is Diego, a demon who helps Blaze oversee other demons haunting New Orleans. Blaze plans to turn the humans on each other and usher in a new order with the coming new year and a new recruit, Mark “Jimmy” Essex, who will go down in history as the New Orleans Howard Johnson’s Sniper, during which Police Chief Giarusso thinks there are multiple snipers and nearly declares martial law but holds off for fear of causing a race riot in downtown New Orleans.
After going through hell in the US Navy, taunted by white officers and baited into fist-fights, Jimmy Essex is court-martialed and discharged. His military experience teaches him how to hate and how to kill his enemies. Even the New Orleans Black Panthers are not radical enough for him.
“While most of the people in this town are throwing themselves a New Year’s Eve party Sunday night, around 11pm I will attack the New Orleans Police Department,” Jimmy informs Blaze.
He continues: “The killings on New Year’s Eve are to give Chief Giarusso and his Pigs a taste of what’s coming.” He takes a breath. “We get all the Brothers riled up for an uprising, and you bring your, what do you call them, associates, into the action,” Jimmy waves at Diego, “and we’ve got a goddamned army.”
“You have no idea how right you are.” Blaze smiles down at Jimmy.
“On January 7th, Operation Ho-Jo will light the dynamite that blows up this city,” Jimmy asserts.
“I like the way you think, young man.” Blaze give Jimmy’s shoulder a fatherly squeeze

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).
Burning Down the House: A Novel
Battle Royal in the Big Easy: A Novel
Miracle in the Big Easy: Book One (Series of Three)

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two comparables for your novel...immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?
NOTE: Again, struggled with narrowing this one down, so here goes...

Comparable #1: Ransom Riggs’ series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—Teen & Young Adult; Science Fiction & Fantasy; Mysteries & Thrillers; Historical
Introduced me to shallows and monsters and brave young people who embrace their peculiarities despite the protagonist’s self-doubts and neuroses brought on by doubting parents…

Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees; The Invention of Wings;-- Literature & Fiction; African American; Historical – introduced me to re-visiting the deep South in the era in which I grew up…one girl’s struggles and her friends who help her overcome them

Jasmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones; Sing, Unburied, Sing—Science Fiction & Fantasy; Magic Realism; Coming of Age—simply brilliant writing to which I ASPIRE

Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone: Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction; Women’s Fiction; Women’s New Adult –introduced me to a young woman coming of age in the 70’s, MY coming-of-age era, and what I recall of returning Vietnam vets and PTSD and, of course, a community of friends without which disaster always awaits…

Alice Hoffman: The Museum of Extraordinary Things; Practical Magic – Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction—introduced me to sisters and witches and magic and magic realism I wanted to emulate

Christopher Moore: Practical Demonkeeping—introduced me to practical demon-writing😉

Rebecca Rasmussen: The Bird Sisters: A Novel—Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction; Coming of Age—REPRESENTED by
My (potential) AGENT—Michelle Brower with Aevitas in NYC!

Laura Lane McNeal: Doll-baby—a Coming-of-Age novel set in civil-rights era NOLA! Need I say more????

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

A runaway teen orphan, seeking to learn more about a mysterious grandmother and her own mysterious powers, finds herself caught up in an inhuman power struggle threatening to incite a race war and destroy the social order of New Orleans in the tumultuous early 70’s.

KNB's 2018 Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments

Posted: 05 Sep 2018, 22:03
by writerwoman6013
This is Katherine Nelson-Born, and I see I already violated a request to include ALL assignments in ONE (1) posting, so here goes...

Below are my responses to Assignments 1-7 for the 2018 Algonkian Writer Retreat in two weeks.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

In the early 1970s, a runaway teen orphan and the orphanage teen handyman, linked by second sight, fight a plot to incite race riots threatening to blow apart the lives of New Orleanians.

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.

Blaze runs a sex trade operation in New Orleans’ French Quarter in the early 1970’s, partnering with Mob Boss Carlos Marcello and a Wiseguy known as “Mr. New Orleans,” Frenchy Brouillette.
Blaze is Azazel and/or Kalfu, the dark counterpart to Papa Legba, the Voodoo intermediary between gods and humans. Blaze prefers his human form, which is of indeterminate age and race, tall with olive skin, dark eyes, a scar blazing from his right eye down his jaw line, and missing a piece of his right ear, slim, dapper, bald and hairless, always dressed in head-to-toe black, including his Fedora. He works at night and sleeps during the day, seldom rising before dinnertime.
Blaze’s associate, his right-hand man, is Diego, a demon who helps Blaze oversee other demons haunting New Orleans. Blaze plans to turn the humans on each other and usher in a new order with the coming new year and a new recruit, Mark “Jimmy” Essex, who will go down in history as the New Orleans Howard Johnson’s Sniper, during which Police Chief Giarusso thinks there are multiple snipers and nearly declares martial law but holds off for fear of causing a race riot in downtown New Orleans.
After going through hell in the US Navy, taunted by white officers and baited into fist-fights, Jimmy Essex is court-martialed and discharged. His military experience teaches him how to hate and how to kill his enemies. Even the New Orleans Black Panthers are not radical enough for him.
“While most of the people in this town are throwing themselves a New Year’s Eve party Sunday night, around 11pm I will attack the New Orleans Police Department,” Jimmy informs Blaze.
He continues: “The killings on New Year’s Eve are to give Chief Giarusso and his Pigs a taste of what’s coming.” He takes a breath. “We get all the Brothers riled up for an uprising, and you bring your, what do you call them, associates, into the action,” Jimmy waves at Diego, “and we’ve got a goddamned army.”
“You have no idea how right you are.” Blaze smiles down at Jimmy.
“On January 7th, Operation Ho-Jo will light the dynamite that blows up this city,” Jimmy asserts.
“I like the way you think, young man.” Blaze give Jimmy’s shoulder a fatherly squeeze

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).
Burning Down the House: A Novel
Battle Royal in the Big Easy: A Novel
Miracle in the Big Easy: Book One (Series of three)

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel...immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?
Comparable #1: Ransom Riggs’ series: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—Teen & Young Adult; Science Fiction & Fantasy; Mysteries & Thrillers; Historical
Introduced me to shallows and monsters and brave young people who embrace their peculiarities despite the protagonist’s self-doubts and neuroses brought on by doubting parents…

Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees; The Invention of Wings;-- Literature & Fiction; African American; Historical – introduced me to re-visiting the deep South in the era in which I grew up…one girl’s struggles and her friends who help her overcome them

Jasmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones; Sing, Unburied, Sing—Science Fiction & Fantasy; Magic Realism; Coming of Age—simply brilliant writing to which I ASPIRE

Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone: Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction; Women’s Fiction; Women’s New Adult –introduced me to a young woman coming of age in the 70’s, MY coming-of-age era, and what I recall of returning Vietnam vets and PTSD and, of course, a community of friends without which disaster always awaits…

Alice Hoffman: The Museum of Extraordinary Things; Practical Magic – Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction—introduced me to sisters and witches and magic and magic realism I wanted to emulate

Christopher Moore: Practical Demonkeeping—introduced me to practical demon-writing😉 I love the biting humor & dark comedy.

Rebecca Rasmussen: The Bird Sisters: A Novel—Literature & Fiction; Historical Fiction; Coming of Age—REPRESENTED by
My (proposed) AGENT—Michelle Brower with Aevitas in NYC!

Laura Lane McNeal: Doll-baby—a Coming-of-Age novel set in civil-rights era NOLA! Need I say more????

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

A runaway teen orphan, seeking to learn more about a mysterious grandmother and her own mysterious powers, finds herself caught up in an inhuman power struggle threatening to incite a race war and destroy the social order of New Orleans in the tumultuous early 70’s.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

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

Miracle is not sure if her second sight is a blessing or a curse since mostly she feels like a freak, especially when the nuns make the sign of the cross upon her approach. She turns sixteen on Christmas Day 1972 and is about to be transferred from the only home she has ever known to an orphanage for older girls. Deciding she can learn more on the outside about a mysterious grandmother and her own mysterious powers, Miracle runs away Christmas Eve, armed with a fake ID from her only friend, the orphanage’s part-time teen hunk handyman, Gabe. New to the streets of New Orleans, Miracle finds trouble fast, and together she and Gabe, linked by second sight, are drawn into an otherworldly battle between good and evil that will test their friendship and change their lives forever.

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.

Shortly after she turns sixteen on Christmas Day 1972, Dorcas Miracle Wilborn will start the new year being transferred from St. Philomena’s to St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage for Older Girls in uptown New Orleans. She runs away Christmas Eve to the French Quarter, hoping to get a job at a go-go joint, armed with a fake ID from her only friend, the orphanage’s part-time teen hunk handyman, Gabe. Wanting to learn more about her powers inherited from a mysterious grandmother rumored to be a past stripper and part angel, Miracle runs into a demon barker named Diego and is soon running for her life, right into the Hummingbird Grill, a greasy spoon favored by New Orleans’ underworld where Gabe also works. Gabe lives in New Orleans’ infamous Desire Housing Project, home of the New Orleans Black Panthers and worries about a vision he has of his older brother, Rafe, getting mixed up with an unhinged sniper. Gabe’s brother is a Black Panther who works with Diego as a runner for Blaze, a sex-trade boss with mysterious powers who works with New Orleans crime family father Carlos Marcello. Linked by shared apocalyptic visions and destinies they have yet to grasp, Miracle and Gabe find themselves drawn into an otherworldly battle between good and evil that tests their friendship and rocks the city of New Orleans.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 07 Sep 2018, 01:55
by swillshire
...

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 09 Sep 2018, 21:35
by gooddeborahh
Assignment 1: Story Statement
Confess your true identity and wartime past to your American wife and hold onto her love and loyalty.
or
Hours from arrest and deportation, Viktor must come clean to his American wife about his true history as a German soldier and escaped prisoner of war and plead for her continued love and loyalty.
Assignment 2: Antagonists
In the 1953 story, the protagonist’s mother-in-law, Flora, who knows him as Levi Jansen, discovers his Wanted photo and learns he’s actually Viktor Schmitz, a German POW who escaped internment in the fall of ’45. Outraged and fearful, she demands that he turn himself in, or she will, rejecting his plea that he was never a Nazi. Flora always felt isolated living in her late husband’s hometown and feels further stigmatized by her troubled son, Leo, a veteran of Normandy. Flora is desperate to preserve the family’s already shaky reputation even if she has to alienate her daughter.
Viktor's wartime antagonist is Gerhard Fuchs. At first, he appears cultured, twinkly-eyed and avuncular, but Viktor and his comrades quickly learn otherwise. A true believer in the National Socialism, Fuchs forms a phony friendship with the American camp commander for his own ego. He listens for anti-Nazi sentiments among the prisoners, and subtly warns that he will notify the Gestapo; their families will be punished for such disloyalty. After V-E day, Fuchs denies both Hitler’s death and the atrocities the prisoners see documented on film. He murders Viktor’s friend, a vocal anti-Nazi prisoner, and then threatens to frame Viktor for the crime.
Assignment 3: Break out titles
The Leipziger from Alabama
Alӓbama (The reader will learn that this was a nickname given to the protagonist by another prisoner of war.)
The Bricklayer of Jordan, New Jersey
Assignment 4: Two comparables
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck. Three widowed German women and their children form a makeshift family after the fall of the Third Reich. Each must come to terms with the choices they made before, during and after the war.
The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies. A German soldier escapes from a prison of war camp in a Welsh village and a romance begins with the young woman who shelters him.
Both books are literary historical fiction, the former a little more commercial.
Assignment 5: Conflict Line
A young German who has concealed his wartime past for eight years is forced to reveal it to his American wife and risk the loss of his marriage, his home and his adopted country.
Assignment 6: Inner conflict
Viktor is terrified and feels boxed in from the opening page. He must confess to his American wife that he has been lying to her about his identity since the day they met. He’s promised her mother he would tell the truth and then turn himself in to the local police by midnight the next day. If he takes off instead, his wife and her family might be in serious legal jeopardy and his crazy brother in law may kill him. He knows his betrayal was enormous and anticipates Claire’s bewilderment and anger. He is racked with guilt and remorse, though still hopeful that her love for him will somehow survive this blow.
He also fears that if he is deported back to his hometown, Leipzig, East Germany, he will be immediately imprisoned by the secret police there, after living for eight years in America. His too-brief life with Claire has been the only period of relative peace and stability for the last ten years. As he looks around their little house, he’s deeply proud of his meticulous upkeep, the furnishings, the garden and his plans for improvements and aches that it will all be lost.
Once he reveals himself, he is shaken by his memories of life under the Third Reich and as a prisoner but also recognizes his relief. He despairs about becoming a fugitive again, donning yet another false identity. In response to Claire’s questions he must relive terrible moments from his boyhood. Though he was initially a proud member of the Hitler Youth, he was kicked out for a minor infraction. Soon after, his father was deemed “politically unreliable,” and lost his civil service job. Viktor still believes the two events were connected. He is devastated that yet again, years later, his own actions may harm his innocent wife. And yet, he believes that if not for ripple effect of that one fateful, youthful choice, he might never have enjoyed the happy home he had with Claire.
Secondary conflict: While a POW, Viktor is faced with the murder by hanging of his good friend, Willi. He is grief-stricken and enraged at Fuchs and his accomplices. While Viktor blames himself that he did not do enough besides warn his friend of the danger, he is also angry at Willi, who ignored his warnings and was reckless voicing his political opinions so openly. He wants justice for Willi, but when Fuchs intimates he will finger Viktor for the crime if he talks too much, his well-laid escape plans will be ruined. During his interrogation by American military police, he wrestles with his conscience.
Assignment 7: Setting
1953 story: The setting is a fictitious town, Jordan, New Jersey. It is just big enough to support a small commercial district and a movie theater (current attraction: Shane) but has only three full time policemen. Like many towns after the war, the farmland around the town center is being chopped up into lots and sold to former GIs who build small homes and start families. Viktor, a bricklayer, is pleased to have gotten in early on this real estate boom and, as noted above, is a very engaged and proud homeowner. Much of the action is set inside their house and backyard so there is helpful period detail: a newly installed clothesline, a party-line telephone on a hall table, honeymoon in Niagara Falls photos, etc.
Wartime story: a prisoner of war camp on American soil will be new to many readers. In Viktor’s first camp in Aliceville, Alabama (capacity: 6000) there were double barbed wire fences, guard towers and barracks, workshops, recreation halls, libraries, a hospital. For the duration, camps were ordered to adhere strictly to the Geneva Convention, so the prisoners were fed the same as American military and had the same amount of living space. The rules permitted Viktor to draw portraits of Hitler and the display of Nazi symbols inside the barracks but after V-E day this was prohibited. The hope was that prisoners would write home about their good treatment and indirectly prevent abuse of American POWs held in Germany. After the surrender, the prisoners are required to see a film about the concentration camps. Their rations are soon cut by two thirds; despite American denials, the prisoners believe there is an obvious connection.
Daily discipline among the prisoners is overseen by German officers—this sometimes allows for terrorizing based on political views, which Viktor witnesses. His passive acceptance of Nazi ideology begins to erode. There are also differences among the men depending on where one was captured. Those taken prisoner in North Africa are more optimistic about Germany’s eventual victory than those who captured in France, like Viktor’s friend Willi, who believes German surrender is inevitable. Tension erupts based on this difference in outlook. The prisoners are sent to work on American farms, planting and harvesting crops. Viktor picks cotton alongside an older black man and after a quiet connection develops, he learns the customs and rules of the Jim Crow South. Later, as a fugitive, he observes the North’s more subtle but unmistakable racism.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 10 Sep 2018, 22:45
by KcBurns9395
FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story Statement
1880's bombshell blonde defies societal norms to strike it rich.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: The Antagonists
Baby Doe battles societal norms when she does physical labor (goes into a mine), divorces, becomes a mistress and strives to become a wife. The face of these norm are Mrs. Teller, Augusta and Bill Bush.
Mrs. Teller begins life as a miner's wife in Blackhawk, just like Baby Doe. But she is invited into Denver high society after her husband strikes it rich. She becomes the voice of the society ladies and a bug in the ear of the wife of Baby Doe's lover. She is threatened by Baby's youth, beauty and naked ambition. Mrs. Teller's weapon is her ability to keep Baby Doe out of accepted society.
Augusta is the wife of Baby Doe's paramour. She is a no-nonsense New Englander, a matronly woman, a pioneer, She is tough as nails. She believes she sees Baby Doe for what she is and isn't afraid to call a spade a spade. She fights to keep her marriage intact, because to have a wandering husband is better that to be a divorcee.
Bill Bush is Baby Doe's paramour's right hand man, his fixer. He is pretty slick. He is an opportunist in his own right and sees Baby Doe as competition for the rich man's attention and money.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout Title:
Silver Linings
Lucky Strike
Silver Queen
Golden Mean

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Comparables
My genre is historical fiction, contemporary Westerns. Larry McMurtry and Willa Cather are heroes which I would never dare to compare myself
These are more recent Amazon best sellers (in historical & western categories)
1000 White Women by James Fergus (2 book series)
Far Away Home by Susan Denning (2 book series)
The Good Journey by Michaela Gilchrist

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Conflict Line
Victorian Era woman defies convention when she works in a mine, divorces her ne'er-do-well husband, creates a plan to become a mistress and wife of a rich man and finally loses wealth and family in the recession of 1893.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Inner Conflict
The rules for behaving like a lady and leading a good Catholic life were very clear. Yet Baby Doe crashed into conformity and met obstacles with a mixture of ambition, practicality and, sometime foot-stomping anger. She would probably call it grit. She looked for signs that God approved or disapproved of her plans, but in the end she reasoned that He didn't want her to genteelly starve to death.

Scenario:
Baby Doe decides to have her picture taken for her new paramour. She places her chin in her hand, tilts her head saucily and grins a toothy smile. Madam, the photographer says, please close your lips. But I am happy, she declares. It is not customary to show teeth, he explains. Not much about me is customary, she thinks.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Setting
The action opens with Baby Doe and her new husband arriving the a Colorado mining town. The hillsides look like the faces of the rugged old miners that pock the land with mines and slag heaps; the tree stumps resemble a stubbly beard. Dust fills the air. Narrow rutted street meander in front of storefronts, each with its own boardwalk, creating a staircase of continual up and downs, leading nowhere. In Central City, saloons and banks, shanties and brick residences, livery stables and railroad trusses formed a crazy quilt pattern of a town. The boomtown lacked the planning and plotting of civilized cities like Denver. Miners laid claims and merchants built stores wherever the wished. Streets then jigged and jogged to meet them, like the wanderings of a drunken cow. The surrounding hills rumbled with thumping pumps and shrieking steam hoists. Soiled doves called to customers from their windows. The dry air smelled like dust.
After striking it rich, Baby Doe stuffs her mansion with all types of Victorian bric-a-brac and objets d'art. Her new husband is making money faster than she can spend it - there is no top to go over. She buys carriages and horses to match her dresses. 100 peacocks stroll the grounds.
The final scenes are in a boomtown gone bust. She lives with her ghosts in a shed at the head of her late husband's most profitable mine, now filled with water. She has stuffed newspaper into the chinks of the rickety shanty to keep out the howling wind. The tiny home holds a cot, a small stove and a table with two ladder back chairs, one for company that never comes.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 13 Sep 2018, 00:27
by catherineharnett
q

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 15 Sep 2018, 06:13
by JulesKnowlton
Jules Knowlton

Story Statement 1—

Steal the book. Make the family great and prosperous again.

The Antagonist 2—
The main antagonist is Magdalena Rabbanor, the leader of a secret consortium of psychics, pulling the strings at the highest level of government. Faceless, she can manipulate the minds of others into believing what she wants them to believe. Though possessing an unknown secret agenda that the protagonists attempt to discover, she diverts attention from her activities by hiring herself out to the highest bidder in order to maintain the instability within the city and further the animosity of the three powerful families. The reader comes to know her first through the activities of the sub antagonists: Sabine Von Eskhardt of the Canidae family and Ilya Gorev of the Hirudin family. There are also other levels of antagonists, those merely antagonistic towards the protagonist who possess the possibility of change for the good, through circumstance and even accident.

Breakout Title 3 —
Shape, Shifting Through Darkness, The Secret Lie in Everything

Comparables and Genre 4 –
My novel is similar in tone to Vic James’s The Dark Gifts Trilogy, set in familiar, yet revamped, dark settings with political power struggles in which magic magnifies character traits. VE Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic with a thieving protagonist traveling between different iterations of a city rather than different inner realities, also bears similarities.
Genre - Adult Speculative and Adult Urban Fantasy

Primary Conflict 5 —
Jonathan Solokovski is a man with the ability to manipulate his own image. He seeks to steal a powerful book in order to bolster the fortunes of his family, but once it is in his possession, he becomes snared by a frightening psychic who creates an elaborate trap, warping a reality of his own making. Jonathan must rely on his memories, the book and unpredictable friends on the outside to free him from his prison while running and hiding from entities real and imagined who seek to make him disappear forever.

Inner Conflict 6 —
When Jonathan Solokovski attends the party, with the intention of stealing the book, he is plagued by feelings of inadequacy, prompted by the memories of conversations where his cousins voiced concerns about his ability to perform the job. These stay and become magnified as he becomes trapped in the mansion. He must sort out what is real and what he is being manipulated into believing and must search his memory, scouring past resentments, grudges, slights and misguided decisions in order to believe he is worthy of being saved.
There is a back story involving Jonathan’s ex-wife where she fails to see, until after the marriage falls apart, how his philandering is not a condemnation of her or of their relationship but rather a manifestation of his insecurity. There is also conflict between the cousins, Mikhail and Alexander, harboring resentments feed by the false trappings of money, success and supposed happiness.

Setting 7 —
Certainly, the city, gray and gritty in winter, with its unreliable power structure, sustaining the wealthy while keeping everyone else in the dark, provides the seed of the plot, the desire to change the status quo. It is a superficial, cold and cruel place as exemplified by the University party during which a murder takes place and in the classrooms of the wealthy high school where Jonathan teaches. The scenes shift to the bedrooms and mansions of the Hirudin and Canidae as Jonathan attends the party of the year. The grandeur of the setting becomes magnified as the action becomes more baroque until Jonathan finds himself trapped inside the walls of the mansion. The action then alternates between Jonathan’s experiences within the shifting realities of his mind and those of his cousins, students and family, as out in the no-less frightening city they must come up with a plan to free him.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 30 Oct 2018, 19:24
by marykathleentod
NOVEL 1
Story Statement
To find her identity, a woman must first uncover a family scandal.

Antagonist
Li Jianyu is the father of Patricia Findlay, the story’s protagonist. He’s the grandson of the founder of Lotus Commercial Bank. Jianyu’s father sent him to live in the United States for many years in order to learn American banking practices and to demonstrate his ability to take over the bank. His driving motivations are: to maintain the bank’s success and to secure a grandson who will ultimately inherit responsibility for the bank. Jianyu is savvy, smart, and ruthless. He has two children: David who’s forty-five and gay, and Patricia who’s forty-one and married to a Caucasian. Jianyu and Patricia have a mixed relationship—he admires her intellect and determination, but clashes with her strong will and resents the fact that she sees herself as American and married outside her ethnicity. Nonetheless Patricia is the only possibility of an heir and when she and her husband move to Hong Kong at Jianyu’s demand, he insists that her role, despite three miscarriages, is to have a child. Lurking in the background is a family secret. Jianyu’s father committed inheritance fraud by excluding his half-brother from a share of the bank. Jianyu has paid blackmail for thirty years to keep this secret hidden and when Patricia begins exploring her ancestors, he feels threatened.

Title Options
• The Admiral’s Wife
• East Rising Sun
• A Matter of Duty
• Divided Legacy

Genre and Comparables:
Genre: a dual timeline novel of women’s fiction. This novel will appeal to women who enjoy historical fiction and stories featuring strong female protagonists.
Comparables: I’ve selected a number of dual timeline novels.
• Kate Morton – The Lake House (2015) – a woman in present day uncovers a family secret from the past
• Iona Grey – Letters to the Lost (2015) – blends a mystery with two love stories—one set in present day, the other set in WWII
• Lauren Willig – The Ashford Affair (2013) – a dual timeline family-based story with a mystery and an exotic setting (Africa)

Primary Conflict Line
A woman torn between her Chinese heritage and American upbringing confronts her father’s demands and uncovers the secret he’s been hiding for over thirty years.

Inner Conflict
Patricia Findlay struggles with the purpose of her life if she’s unable to have children.

Secondary Conflict
Patricia’s mother is interfering. She expects Patricia to be a dutiful daughter and to follow Chinese traditions.

Because this is a dual timeline story, the story set in the past also has conflicts. I’ve concentrated on the present-day story for these assignments.

Setting
Both present-day and past timelines occur in Hong Kong. Some scenes in both timelines are set in the same locale. In present-day Hong Kong, Patricia lives in a world of privilege because of her parents’ wealth. Scenes occur in the plush office towers of the banking industry, in her parents’ lavish home on the Peak, in her own apartment, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, in a private box at Happy Valley Racetrack, having lunch at a typical Chinese restaurant, on a luxury junk, and at a series of qigong classes in a hillside park.

The past timeline occurs from 1912-1914. Settings include on board a ship as it docks in Hong Kong harbour, at Government House for a fancy ball, at Happy Valley Racetrack, at the admiral’s home on the peak, on the Praya during a typhoon, at a Chinese temple, taking a rickshaw through the streets of Hong Kong, and in Singapore.

In 1912, Hong Kong was relatively small compared with today. It was controlled by the British and the Chinese were considered second class citizens. By 2015, the city is controlled and dominated by its Chinese majority and by Mainland China. It’s highly energetic, densely populated, and full of modern skyscrapers. The story conveys some of these contrasts.

NOVEL 2
Story Statement
Find love, friendship and purpose amidst the devastation of Paris.

Antagonist
The antagonist of this story isn’t a person, it’s the siege of Paris followed by the uprising and rebellion of the Paris Commune all of which took place in 1870 and 1871. In June 1870 rumours of war began to stir; by August Prussia and France were at war and by the end of September Napoleon III had surrendered and the Prussians had surrounded Paris. As the siege unfolded, fear replaced uncertainty, starvation replaced rationing, and bombardment began. Although thousands fled Paris, Camille and Mariele, the story’s two main characters, remained. They found purpose by helping others in desperate circumstances and experienced personal danger and hardship. Not long after the siege ended, the working class rebelled and took over governing the city. Like the French revolution of 1789, chaos and violence erupted. Particularly threatened were the wealthy class like the families of Camille and Mariele.

Title Options
• Paris in Ruins
• A Time of Turmoil
• When Destiny Called
• City of Darkness

Genre & Comparables
Genre: women’s fiction. The story will appeal to those who enjoy the blend of love and war, and to those who enjoy coming-of-age novels or novels set in Paris.
Comparables:
• The Daughters of Mars – Thomas Keneally – two women serve as nurses during WWI and find the men with whom they wish to spend the rest of their lives.
• The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah – two sisters find different ways to serve and survive WWII
• Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution – Michelle Moran – a story of the horror and turmoil of the French revolution and the struggle of one woman to survive

Primary Conflict Line
Two women, each on the verge of love, find purpose and maturity while helping others survive the devastation of war.

Inner Conflict
Camille rebels against society’s norms and its expectations of young women. Mariele wonders if she’ll come to love the man she’s agreed to marry or if her marriage will end up like her parents.

Secondary Conflict
Secondary conflict for both women comes from the expectations their families have for their futures and the restrictions placed on their freedoms.

Setting
In 1870, Paris is a magical place and a centre for intellectuals, fashion, and the arts. Napoleon III has ruled for twenty years and with the help of Baron Haussmann, has redesigned the city’s streets, parks, and architecture. While the wealthy and a new aristocracy have significant influence, the working class festers under the weight of inequality and failing social institutions. When war breaks out, most middle class and well-to-do Parisians believe Napoleon will swiftly defeat the Prussian army. They debate the tactics of the generals while sipping coffee or wine at outdoor cafés while the warmth of August spills into September.

By December, the trees of Paris and its famous parks, like the Bois de Boulogne, have disappeared for firewood. The city is cut off from the outside world. Soldiers and members of the National Guard are everywhere. Children dressed in little more than rags beg for scraps while their mothers wait in line for whatever dwindling supplies of food are available. Winter has come early. People freeze to death for lack of heat. And then the Prussian bombardment begins.

Several weeks after Paris surrenders, and just as a few elements of normal life are restored, members of the Paris Commune overthrow the government and plunge the city into chaos once more. More than two months later, while much of Paris is in flames, the French army finally defeats the Commune.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 27 Feb 2019, 00:51
by MikeA5Frickstad
Algonkian writing assignments

Story Statement

After her Asian mother dies in a Denver mugging, 17-year-old Claire Jordan confronts the virulent racism and serial murder of her father’s mountain ski town.

Antagonist

Some people should never be teachers. Alma Wittingham is one of them.

Oh, she knows her subject. Enough that she could easily make a living in high tech or manufacturing in Denver. Instead, she supervises the physics lab at Chesterton High, her tight lips and piercing glare bullying her classes into submission for years.

She tolerates no dissension, no conflict. Instead, she insists on order and respect, not matter how grudging. An arched eyebrow, a sharp remark, and her fist bouncing on the lab table in front of her easily squelch any potential disorder.

She demands ultimate authority in everything––her class, her environment, and her life.

When Chesterton Park begins construction of a new ski area, project manager Joey Jordan threatens Alma’s dominance her world.

Twice-married Joey Jordan. Father of a new student, Joey Jordan. Irresistible Joey Jordan.

She must hide her desire, but she must have him. Despite his wife. His ex-wife. His son. His daughter.

As she does with her classroom, to regain dominance of her existence, Alma must attacks the obstacles as she always does––by eradicating the opposition.

Title

Up to the Mountain to Prey
Blind Leading the Blind
A Time to Heal

Genre and Comparables
Young Adult Mystery

The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson –– A psychologically-scarred girl must deal with a murder in her past. Her present threatens to be even more overwhelming.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil –– Serial murder

Primary Conflict Line

After her Asian mother is murdered in a Denver mugging, Claire Jordan suffers conversion disorder and must move in with her father, brother, and stepmother in Chesterton Park, a town in the grip of a serial murder.

Protagonist Inner Conflict
Raised in a culturally diverse neighborhood in Denver, Claire is thrust into the lily-white world of Chesterton Park and must deal with the silent racism of her new school. At home she must deal with the overt resentment of her step-mother Leah.

While Claire could once rely on and speak to an Unseen Voice, life has jumbled her thoughts into an incomprehensible mess. Futilely, she seeks a human ally, a protector, a friend. Her search proves all but impossible.

Her father is too busy with the ski-area construction project. Her stepmother’s glare could draw blood. Her classmates are soaked in hormones and scorn. The one adult who encourages her academic ambitions––her hard-nosed physics teacher Alma Wittingham––is too protective of her no-nonsense reputation to allow intimacy. Improbably, she finds a kindred spirit in Sunny Waters, a homeless Ute Indian boy alert to the voice of the earth and sky. Their mystic connection only intensifies the town’s rejection of them both.

As the two seek the stability of life, death staggers the mountain. Behind the liquor store, drunken lovers discover a bloodied body behind the dumpster. On the construction site, a runaway dozer mangles and crushes five workers. In the woods, two student suicides rock the school. Somehow, the town believes, all the carnage is related. With no evidence, they suspect Claire and Sunny are somehow responsible.

Something tells the couple that the town is correct. The two must learn to trust the Voice and each other to find the ugly truth behind the town’s persecution and the killing spree.

Detailed Setting
The bulk of the story takes place in Chesterton Park, Colorado, a community in transition from small mountain town to the state’s newest ski resort. Within the area are locations that affect the characters differently.

Glitter Mountain
Site of the ski area under construction. Wooded areas being cleared into ski runs. There are unique creeks, ponds, slide area, rock formations. The mountain also is sacred to the Ute Indians who once lived here. The conflict affects not only the general citizenry, but specifically Claire Jordan’s father (in charge of construction), Sunny Waters (whose family once worshipped here), and Claire (her place of escape). The mountain itself has unseen powers.

Chesterton High School
It’s here that Claire (protagonist) interacts with other students (including Sunny), Alma (antagonist), and other authorities.

Jordan house
In habited by Claire, her father Joey, her brother Jimmy, and her stepmother (Leah). Unlike the refuge that other home are, this is a house of conflict, most prominently concerning Leah.

Denver, Colorado
Mainly background for Claire’s mother’s murder, but essential to bringing Claire and her father together. At this time, the scenes include the murder at an RTD train station and Claire’s hospital room

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 27 Feb 2019, 17:52
by GaryGrahamC7
STORY STATEMENT: Two people search for their sexual identities while seeking extraordinary treasures hidden in the Peruvian Andes.

ANTAGONISTIC FORCES: Mica and Clay are burdened by dark, internal fears that they are destined to follow their parents’ unhappy paths. They must also overcome harsh forces of nature, deadly terrorism, and dreadful scientific odds that threaten their careers. Mica, having witnessed as a girl her mother passionately kissing a woman, fears she could become an unloved lesbian. Following childhood discoveries of his father’s infidelities, Clay hates that he could repeat his father’s sins. Their parallel lives first cross atop an isolated Andean mountain that first required torturous and dangerous journeys. Mica’s challenge is to prove through dissertation work her improbable theory that an ancient city was founded by the princess daughter of Peru’s last Inca ruler. For a Ph.D., Clay is testing his new, extremely complex biodiversity model that could protect the natural world he loves. Funding, careers and relationships are at stake. Minutes after meeting, terrorists and murder scar what could have been an enchanted beginning for them. Following escape and marriage, their lives and sanity collapse when Mica becomes infertile after being crushed in a bike crash with a truck. Ascending life’s summits again, and finding peace, are much more demanding this time.

BREAKOUT TITLES:
1. Parallels That Cross. This is the title I’ve associated with my novel for 10 years and that inspired it even earlier. It reflects the parallel structure of the novel, which presents in parallel the lives of my two main characters until their paths cross on top of a mountain in Peru. Their loves, sensitivities and insecurities are also parallel to each other. I think this title will catch people’s attention since parallels aren’t supposed to cross.
2. Destinies. Destinies, like parallels, is an underlying theme of the book. What are destinies? Do they guide and define us or the other way around?
3. Destinies and Parallels. Obviously combines features of the first two.

GENRE AND COMPARABLES: I describe my novel as upmarket literary fiction with a focus on romance and adventure. It is reasonably comparable to Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I don’t pretend to be as skilled as these two wonderful authors, but their books are comparable to mine in how they interweave two major story lines and master shifting time frames. Unsheltered presents science and nature-based issues in such an accessible way as to engage readers who otherwise might not appreciate those topics, which was one of my goals. She masterfully and creatively uses place-based language to draw her readers into the stories, also important with my novel. Mr. Doerr’s book is simply the most eloquent I’ve ever read. The style he employs, coupled with his word choice and efficiency, sentence and paragraph structure, and creative use of punctuation, presents the model I aspired toward with my work.

CONFLICT LINES:
PRIMARY CONFLICT: Sanity, careers and their lives depend on how well Mica and Clay can defeat parental shadows, forces of nature, and terrorist captors as they search for their sexual identities while seeking extraordinary treasures hidden in the Andes.

INNER CONFLICTS: With insecurities tied around their necks to parental burdens, Mica and Clay worried, while growing up, that they would never find love and happiness - worries that invaded their lives again after Mica’s horrific crash where she lost most of her reproductive system and almost her life. The prologue of my novel graphically illustrates this tension:
Clay reluctantly, but carefully, lifts his body off mine. We’re trying to make love, injuries and all, but it hurts too much forcing another cascade of tears. He keeps one hand gently on my shoulder. “Clay, this makes me feel like shit, but your touch and the specter of making love, are now so frustrating that I can’t help but spiral back down into a dark, depressing hole.”
He slips his other hand away from my inner thighs. “Poeta, mi amor, I can’t believe we’ve come to this. It’s like you’re giving up, yielding to those anxieties of becoming your mother. Like being a lesbian is your destiny.”
“That’s just not true Clay. We’ve talked about this a million times. That you screwed a hundred women before we met doesn’t mean you’re destined to be like your philandering father, as you’ve feared most of your life.”

SECONDARY CONFLICT: Mica and Clay are painfully aware that funding for their research, their academic careers, and their future depend on whether they are successful, or not, at finding their treasures.

SETTINGS: My novel takes place in six major settings.
An isolated arm of the Peruvian Andes blooming with biodiversity and archeology. Danger hides around every bend and Quechua people chew coca leaves lower down where the Inca once built roads. The beauty and the natural challenges here set the stage for discovery, fear and love. The forests, named after elves, represent a fairy-tale-like place on earth few have even experienced.

Campuses of University of Wisconsin and Louisiana State University where during the early 1980s students partied and worked hard. Dreams were large and creativity nurtured. Women couples dancing at a daiquiri party in a Madison kitchen and Clay rubbing sweaty bellies with women at Dirty Pierre’s characterize the fun side of college for Mica and Clay.

A waterfall in lowland tropics of central Peru where sun bursts cause Morpho butterflies to spontaneously appear. Where raucous bird calls marry lustful frog calls to consummate a sensual tropical symphony and pulsing reverberations of water pounding on water makes you want to take your clothes off.

University of New Mexico with its innovative joint professorship is the perfect place for growth of love and careers. The Sandia Mountains rise like watermelons in the East and everyone eats hot Hatch green chiles for breakfast.

San Francisco California and Berkeley, home of progressive thoughts and diverse relationships, provides an ideal haven for healing souls. Nighttime and nearby beaches served with Cajun gin and tonics provide spark for sensual rekindling.

Back on the Andean mountain, but now with a modern research station, is the stage for new discoveries and rediscoveries for Mica and Clay. Where Ewoks escape from Return of the Jedi to find a secret home on earth - one no human has ever beheld. Where the earth breathes of Pachamama.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 02 Mar 2019, 23:51
by STEVENOPATA5
Story Statement:
A family and a stray discover the clarity of purpose amongst the turbidity of change, death, lies, monotony and tragedy.

Antagonist:
Brandon; the avatar of western society as the quintessential fast-talking rat-racing financial adviser who befriends - and subsequently swindles - anybody with money. He has only his self-interest (profit) in mind. What he presents as a perfect life is truly a conflicted one.
Brandon, Kevin, and Doug have history that dates back to elementary school. When they reunite, Brandon is quick to welcome Kevin back to town and befriend him. During the ensuing barbecues, poker nights, and weekend getaways, we see Brandon's ability to deploy his charisma and inflict his inner demons on those around him. He's sly and cunning; excellent at reading people and, as such, is always one step ahead of any resistance to his offers. He has his eye on the inheritance Kevin acquired after his father’s untimely death. Brandon creates a divide between our main characters Kevin and Doug. Doug is shunned for his lack of monetary focus.Kevin is loath but quick to accept the offers from his former friend, if only to help ease the transition into life back in his hometown. Despite everyone's intentions of assuming a quaint small-town Texas lifestyle; Brandon's life of alcoholism, infidelity, drinking and driving, and overall indecency towards humans slips it's hands into everyone's gloves.

Title:
Doug (Envision it portrayed as this: The letter 'D', the 'U' inscribed within the 'O', and 'G'. Dog/Dug/Doug...it's perfect.)
A Quest for Purpose.
Jumping the fence
Lacey's good boys.

Genre:
Adult Fiction. Drama/Humor.

Comparables:
Freedom a Novel by Jonathon Franzen.

#5. Conflict line:
Two Men, individually struggling to find their purpose, battle the avatars and inevitabilities of the American Lifestyle. Their journeys begin to align and become more clear, bright and downright fun. Then an unthinkable tragedy strikes...

#6:
Secondary conflicts:
Both Doug and Kevin are constantly ruminating on life's decisions.
Doug: After his mother's death, he experiences confusion as to how to proceed with life. Is it facing reality to assimilate to Western culture by getting a job and an apartment? Is there hope that he can find what he had when he was a caretaker for his mother? Why is it that his gut is telling him to be cautious of the people that his friend Kevin is finding to socialize with?

Kevin and Camille battle through the decision making for the family, especially finances. Tony Robbins, Dave Ramsey, Jim Cramer, Ric Edelman, etc. they all have their stern financial advice. Brandon is quick to provide guaranteed opportunity for Kevin's inheritance. But what about investing in something with a value beyond dollar signs?
Kevin is also evaluating his approach to parenting. How will he know whether he's preparing his children - individually - for their greatest potential for success? How will he know if he's unknowingly leading them to become the next generation of Nazi's? In nature, an animal only realizes it's a bad parent at the moment when wolves kill their young.
Kevin also struggles with friendships. He could quickly re-associate with the old gang from high school. All the while, he retains his impressions of people he knew during his youth. He'll have to challenge these to find a group of true friends as he moves back to his old town; friends that help him lead the wholesome life he desires.
Through the various realms of third person narration, we'll see inner conflict in each character; the wife, the young children, the antagonist and his family. Their reflections will generate events (both good and bad) that steer those characters towards a life that makes them truly happy.

#7. The setting:
This quote resonated with me, "it shows us a place that we are all-too-familiar with, but with a new, fresh perspective that makes us look again".
Kevin has just moved his family from the big city on the coast of California to his small hometown in central Texas.
This is in the sandhill country where the seasons are discerned by the leaves on the tall mature oaks. This is the town where the men grew up playing little league, riding bikes, and chasing girls together. One of them went away. He followed a baseball scholarship which lead to his spending the next fifteen years living on the west coast. Two of them never left: one to take care of his mother as she battled multiple sclerosis and the other stayed to take advantage of the town's trust in his family's name so that he could get rich on the town's peoples' money.
The town has the allure of a perfect American small town. Kevin's father was the mayor for the last five years and worked hard to ensure that his town was a healthy place to live. It has the iconic old courthouse. It was originally built in the late 1800's when the town was the county seat. It was later restored and remains today as a figure-piece in the town. It's grounds are elegantly decorated every christmas and there is a fountain out front that the elderly ladies from the women's auxiliary decorate with flowers every summer. The town also has the gorgeous Roman Catholic Cathedral church with a steeple that sits high above the town and a large bell the rings every day at noon and six pm. The people of town can plan their noon coffee breaks and evening dinners by the sound of the bell.
Additionally, the town has a new region, the stereotypical strip mall built on the outskirts of town with a cookie-cutter housing development surrounding it. Here, there's the Walmart, Home Depot and McDonalds that have nearly bankrupt the various small business that make up the town's main street. There's a small hospital in the town, several characters in the story were born there over the years. It serves a small purpose but mostly every heads to the big cities of San Antonio or Austin to receive their health care.

There are a few places in the town where the subjects interact. There's the house where Kevin grew up. It was the house to which all other houses he ever saw or lived in are compared. He and his family move there for a couple months until they can find their own place. His father still lives there. They have it in their head that it's not suitable for all of them thought Kevin's dad secretly adores having all of his family under his roof. It's not until they move into their new place that they realize how well his father's home worked for them all. Their new house will never provide emotional attachment. They bought it because it checked all the boxes and was a wise financial decision. This according to their realtor; a man Kevin went to high school with.
The real gem of our setting is Doug's house. It's a large old victorian that starts the novel in a state of disrepair. The paint is pealing and the porch is sagging. The windows of the back shed are all broken out. Most notably, the old ball diamond in the back lot is completely overgrown with weeds and has accumulated junk. Doug just didn't have the means to maintain it all. He was too busy caring for his mother. Since they lived on government aid, he did not have financial resources to invest in the house. Fortunately, his mother was from a long lineage of townspeople and she owned he house outright. It would later fall into the IRS's hands due to back-taxes. As the story unfolds and Kevin evaluates his finances, he realizes that buying Doug's house will provide the true value he seeks from earning money. In the end, he'll buy the house in secret. He'll fib to his family and say he's going to the gym every day after work. In reality, he's going to the house to repair the old sandlot baseball field in the back yard. His gift to his family and to Doug will be to reveal this field and this purchase and to thank Doug for joining their pack. It is on this field that lacey will forever have a place to dance, spin and cartwheel. It is because of this field and Kevin's investment in his family that Timmy grow from being a a shy kid and awkward athlete with a heart of gold. He'll become a solid ball player with unshakeable drive and also a cute girlfriend.

The beauty of central Texas is that it's just a few hours from the Gulf of Mexico and the escape to Mustang island and the wild coast and ocean. Kevin has great memories of weekend trips to the beach. He remembers them being perfect and fun. As he returns there with his family and crew, he realizes that they are in fact untouched. Also, they have loads of jellyfish and poor surf. As such, they don't quite compare to the family's California beach days. Camille will internalize this as she attempts to embrace her new life in Texas. Does she really want her kids to grow up fearing the beach? Nonetheless, the beach is where we truly start to see the dog-like beauty of Doug. His endlessly playfulness, love of car rides through the country, and innate ability to dig a hole in the sand.

As with all small towns, there will be a summer carnival complete with ferris wheels and funnel cakes. It will come at the end of summer, at a time when the last three months had set most things straight in life.Walking home from the carnival, tragedy will strike on the streets just a few blocks down from their house.
Following the Accident, as Lacey, Doug, and Camille are away at rehab, Kevin will spend countless hours on the old house as a means of clearing his head. In the end he'll turn it into the house that the family needs for Lacey's disability and for the wholesomeness of the whole family. In the backyard, he's demonlished the ramshackle building that Doug hid out in after the home was repossessed by the IRS. In its place, Kevin will have build Doug his very own "Doug House" reminscent of Snoopy's house in Peanut's only big enough to house a grown man.

Re: KNB's 2018 Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments

Posted: 09 Mar 2019, 00:12
by STEVENOPATA5
Consider reading the book "Middle Passage" by Charles Johnson. It immediately came to mind as I read your post.
It's set out of New Orleans back during the late 1700's. Nonetheless, some of your themes about magic, racism, women, etc are all in play. It's a quick read and may provide some meat to your material.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 10 Mar 2019, 22:07
by DeanCyconA5
Dean Cycon

Story Statement
Use music to overcome the traumas of loss and interment in a concentration camp.

The Antagonistic Force
The antagonistic force in my novel is an entire town, enveloped in the atmosphere of post WWII Hungary. Almost everyone in the town participated, overtly or covertly, in the deportation of the Jewish citizens to Auschwitz. Many of the townspeople have taken advantage of the deportations to obtain the properties, businesses and personal belongings of their former neighbors and friends. When a small band of Jews return the townspeople must reckon with their own behaviors. They experience guilt, shame, remorse, denial and anger, but most try to ignore their deeds and prevent the Jews from reestablishing their community and reintegrating into the town by legal means or violence. The major antagonists are the Mayor and his wife, the Town Clerk and some of the policemen. The Mayor and the Police Captain try to minimize but not prevent the antagonistic force from growing in the town.

Breakout Title Possibilities
HOMECOMING
THE SHADOWS THAT FOLLOW US

Genre and Comparables
My book is upmarket historical fiction, with the subgenres of Post Holocaust Fiction and Jewish Fiction. It could also be Young Adult because I am working on making the concepts accessible and there is no gratuitous (or non-gratuitous, for that matter) sex, however I see the work primarily as an adult read.
Although the Holocaust continues to be a popular subgenre (Pam Jenoff’s major deal ORPHAN’S TALE in September 2018, Otto Kraus, nice deal, THE CHILDREN’S BLOCK, plus scores of self-published works of varying quality), there are fewer novels that focus on the post-Holocaust era. When they do, it is generally to mention the continuing anti-semitism after the war and quickly move the characters on to relocation in the USA, England or Israel.
Two fresh exceptions and decent comparables. David Gillham’s new release, ANNALIESE, which tells the story of Anne Frank if she had survived the war and was reunited with her father in Amsterdam. The story focuses on Anne’s coming to terms with her anger at the war and her father. The author has gotten some negative press being an older white guy and a non-Jew daring to write this story. Welcome to the Millennium! The second comparable is Vesper Semper’s debut novel WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS, which I just stumbled upon last night. Long-listed for the National Book Award and a Morris Award Finalist, the novel tells the story of a young girl who plays the viola and sings, survives a concentration camp and tries to restart her life. It is written for Middle School/Young Adult (Amazon #6 YA Jewish Fiction), done in a straightforward fashion with lots of half page illustrations. Although seemingly parallel to my novel, it does not seem to get into the psyche of the German people at all, but leaves them as the “other” in a sense. I am trying to show them as flawed people who have regrets, denials and guilt as well as being anti-semitic. The possibilities for redemption and forgiveness for the perpetrators exist in my novel, and I have not found that in any of these comparables. Those themes are explored in Jodi Picoult’s THE STORYTELLER (2013), one of her lesser known works. A dying Nazi asks a woman survivor to kill him as a way for him to be brought to justice and redeemed. It takes place well after the war and is the story of one individual official, not a town of civilians. But for people who enjoyed THE STORYTELLER, there will be a lot for the in my novel.

Primary Conflict Line
Liberated from Auschwitz at the end of the war, a young woman returns to the hometown that betrayed her, her family and friends. She must overcome her inner trauma and the continuing enmity and resistance of her neighbors and town officials to achieve her goal of becoming a concert pianist.

Inner and Secondary Conflicts
Eva has lost her parents, beloved piano teacher, her house and friends to the deportation to Auschwitz by town officials. The losses, plus the horrors she witnessed in the camps have left her traumatized, guilty and untrusting. Her love of the piano helped her survive the camps and provides her with a future goal. Her teacher has not returned from the camps and her beautiful piano is now in the hands of the Mayor’s family who took over her house. She needs to play it again to bring back her skills so that she can reapply to the prestigious Budapest Music Conservatory, but the new owners are hostile and suspicious. They agree to let her practice if she cleans “their” house and basically becomes their “Jewish maid”. They tell her she should be grateful for the chance they are offering. But is she honoring or insulting her teacher’s memory by playing the piano under these circumstances? Is she accepting the new ownership of her house and property and thus betraying her family? How can a young woman overcome the animosity of the townspeople, her total lack of resources and the postwar system stacked against her as a Jew to achieve her goal?
When the dozen ragged Jews return to Laszlo, Hungary after being liberated from Auschwitz, all they want to do is restart their lives. Yet their homes and businesses are now legally owned by former neighbors and friends, their bank accounts and personal valuables gone. The town seethes with anger, guilt, shame, denial and recrimination at their return. Individual Jews try to rebuild the synagogue and negotiate for the return of their businesses. They live collectively in an abandoned Jewish transient hotel that becomes the target of suspicion, hatred and violence by the townspeople. When more Jewish Displaced Persons are dropped off the train in Laszlo on their way to relocation elsewhere, the townspeople fear the Jews are trying to reestablish and grow their presence, adding to the growing unease between the two communities.

The Setting
My novel takes place in the medieval yet modern town of Laszlo, located in northeast Hungary, near the border with Ukraine. As an ancient town it has the stone buildings, archways and narrow streets (symbolizing resistance to change) that have seen pogrom and invasion over the centuries. Buildings from the last two centuries are tilted somewhat, their angularity adding a disorienting “slant” to the events in the novel. The major locations are as follow: Train station and the trains themselves, antediluvian beasts that haul cattle cars full of concentration camp survivors, the trains keep coming and either slow down as they go through the station, allowing the townspeople to stare at the hollow eyes and faces within, or they stop and disgorge a few skeletal survivors of the camps; Town Square, where festivals and fairs are held, was also the gathering point for the mass deportation of all the Jews in the town a year before the novel opens, part of the square is paved with Jewish gravestones, which were freely available in the abandoned cemetery after the deportation; Blackened, empty storefronts of former Jewish businesses interspersed throughout the town (indicated both the assimilation of the Jews and their absence), looking like missing teeth in an old man’s mouth; The Transient Hotel, a former Jewish business that will house the returnees until something can be arranged by the town and the international Jewish organization trying to help resettle the Jews in the town or abroad, the hotel has many memories for the returnees as weddings and meetings were held there regularly before the deportation; The Synagogue, several hundred years old (shows length of Jewish presence and acceptance in the town) abandoned and disfigured, the returned Jews want to resuscitate the building for prayer and as a community center but the townspeople fear it will lead to a reestablished and growing Jewish presence in the town, which they don’t want. Police Station and Town Hall, representing authority and power over the Jews, all but one of the policemen were active and eager participants in the deportation and most are deeply anti-Semitic and brutal; The Bakery, a former Jewish business that one of the returnees wants to reclaim, it has always been a morning gathering spot both before and after the deportation. The Dress Shop, formerly owned by Eva’s mother, now owned by the Mayor’s wife; Eva’s family home, a grand house as Eva’s father was one of the leading lawyers in Laszlo, now owned by the Mayor; Neptheli the Rabbi’s cottage outside of town, part of a small Hassidic community totally abandoned as Neptheli is the only survivor, he goes back to unearth his “treasures” buried nearby the cottage as local boys hidden in the woods watch; The Brick Factory, just outside of town, abandoned when Jewish owner deported, out of use now, it was the holding area for a thousand Hassidic Jews from small communities surrounding Laszlo who all disappeared around the time of the deportation but nobody talks about it, the local kids go off to try and dig for “Jewish treasure” there but find a mass grave instead.

The climate plays an important scenic role in the novel. Located along a river valley, Laszlo experiences a beautiful summer when the Jews come home, representing hope, but the weather turns cold and the early evenings fill the town with a damp fog in the fall as anger and emotions build in the town. The fog also seems to hide ethereal presences that may be the ghosts of dead Jews in camp garb or they may be the imagination of guilty people. An early snowstorm feels like the ash storms that camp inmates experienced when the ovens of Auschwitz burned through the night.

Re: Algonkian Writer Retreat Assignments and Readings

Posted: 12 Mar 2019, 19:45
by A5LoreneNash
 




FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

A pair of ghost hunters is hired to discover the truth behind supernatural goings-on in an old Southern mansion inherited by an antagonistic brother and sister, each of whom have their own reasons for mistrusting the other.

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

The evil force in the house is the spirit of a man named John Devereaux. In pre-Civil War times he was a rich and powerful land owner (thanks to his wife) in control of his domain. But the war took him out of his element and eventually drove him to act on his psychopathic tendencies. Now, he is determined to keep the souls of the people he harmed in life with him and to defeat the living who want to drive him out.

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

What’s Bred in the Bone
A Ghost in the Vein
Ghost Diagnostics, Ltd.

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT:

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

Stephen King. King’s stories focus on a dark element interacting with someone in crisis and allowing them to find a way to triumph over not only the evil force, but their own failings and/or past history.


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

An evil presence has taken hold of two siblings’ lives and when confronted by a pair of professional ghost hunters, refuses to be vanquished.


SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

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

The protagonist, Allie, is a failed psychologist who has embraced her spiritual experiences to become a ghost hunter. But she is unsure if what she has experienced were true contacts with the supernatural or her own shaky mental health. One scenario is when she has felt the presence of a spirit and her skeptical partner makes jokes about her gullibility, and she defends herself to him, while still acknowledging her doubts to herself.

Allie is romantically drawn to the man who hired her, Jack, but is not sure she believes his story. His sister believes he is trying to con her out of her share of their inheritance (the house.) Allie is pulled in different directions as to who is telling the truth and what is real. One scenario is when the sister shows scars from where she claims the ghost caused her to injure herself, but the brother privately tells Allie his sister used to cut herself when she was a teenager.


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

The setting is a dilapidated Southern mansion in a small North Carolina town. The grounds are neglected and overgrown, and there are things waiting to be discovered that will help reveal the story. The inside of the house has rooms that have been updated but still hold elements of the past, such as the kitchen, which is where the long-gone residents of the house spent a lot of time, and the sitting room, which also holds clues. Other rooms, especially the attic, have been untouched by the current residents. Each of the main rooms (including bedrooms) has a character and a sense of either exploiting the characters’ vulnerabilities, or offering a safe zone for one or more of them.