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.