Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

A forum for writers in the St. Augustine Author-Mentor Novel Workshops to engage in writing assignments and further studies in the art of fiction writing.
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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#26 Post by Hortenzia » 15 Feb 2018, 20:50

Assignment 3- Titles
Narcissists in Bloom
Twisted Family Values
Hearts of Greed

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#27 Post by Hortenzia » 15 Feb 2018, 23:35

Assignment 4-Comparable
Alex Kava’s Fireproof
Patricia Cornwell’s Points of Origen

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#28 Post by Hortenzia » 15 Feb 2018, 23:50

Assignment 5-Conflict Line
A young girl, the only survivor, discovered in the basement of a burned out hospital for the criminally insane must prove she is the daughter of the C.E.O. who was part of a wealthy and predominant family.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#29 Post by Hortenzia » 16 Feb 2018, 00:04

Assignment 6-Inner Conflict
Thalia was raised to believe that manipulating and causing pain was the way to get what she wants but finds once she sexually conquers Detective Darrell Costa she struggles with feelings of remorse and guilt for hurting him. These are unknown feelings to her, which she must face by making a mense with the detective who despite what she had done to him has fallen in love with her. When Darrell refuses to beat her in order for Thalia to feel exonerated for her behavior, it changes her view of what she has always believed.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#30 Post by teuliano » 17 Feb 2018, 04:49

1) Story Statement:
Cure worldwide infertility without enabling an Aryan-type nation

2) Antagonistic force:
Dr. David Criswell is a disgraced medical researcher whose early attempt at curing infertility was a very public failure. He lost his wife and family, as well as his professional credibility. Desperate to restore his reputation, he seeks a top-notch researcher he can mentor.
He learned of Maggie’s research at the NIH and knew she could succeed, could finally cure worldwide infertility. All she needed was the unlimited resources and complete independence only he could provide.
Criswell owed this to his son-who took his ex-wife’s maiden name in shame, to his daughter-who would soon be too old to conceive, and to the world.
Sometimes, the end justifies the means, and the deaths of ten study subjects blamed on Maggie was the means to lure her from the NIH and into seclusion where her work progressed at remarkable speed. When the cost outpaced his funds, he was forced to accept investment by a pharmaceutical company. Though not the deal he’d made with Maggie, he would protect her and her work. The primary goal was a cure, and public recognition of his role in it. He would get his family and his reputation back and, hopefully, a grandson.

3) Breakout Title:
An Unacceptable Cure
The Future of Men
After: The Next Generation

4) Comparables
Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain
PD James' The Children of Men

5) Primary Conflict
With the cure to worldwide infertility within her grasp, a scientist fights betrayal and time to save the future of humanity.

6) Other Conflict
Inner conflict – Maggie’s failure to pay attention when signing forms at the IRB enabled a study that killed 10 women. She feels guilty about the deaths, and about her escape and therefore appearance of guilt. Because of the prior deaths, she is unwilling to begin human trials until she is certain there will be no deaths, therefore she impregnates herself as the initial human subject.

Secondary conflict – The research supervisor is one of only a handful of people who interact with Maggie and her colleagues. Unbeknownst to Maggie, his wife was one of the study subjects who died. He complicates her work, refusing requests, despite Criswell’s guarantee she will have whatever she needs. He makes his hatred of Maggie apparent, considering her a prima donna, and there is frequent conflict, until his obstructionism results in the death of one of Maggie’s pregnant orangutans.

7) Setting
The first part of the novel is set in an underground lab space, the 3rd level basement of a research institute. The lab itself is interesting in that there is a well-decorated habitat for the orangutans, to resemble a jungle. The team lives in small dorm-type rooms down the hall, and eats together in a small room with a kitchen. Food is delivered via a dumb-waiter from the main kitchen above. The dumb-waiter plays a role later as transportation for Maggie.
Other areas of the research institute are state-of-the-art, and reflect the demanding nature of Dr. Criswell.
Later, when they escape the lab, they drive through snowy mountain roads of North Carolina to a cabin on a large estate. It is well-appointed and beautiful, with mountain views. The surrounding terrain plays a role when one character is injured falling down a cliff, and later when the team is attacked.
The prior property owner was a survivalist, so there is a provisioned underground bunker and an intricate but poorly maintained tunnel system linking the cabin to the main property. It is here that Maggie retreats and eventually delivers her baby, loses her friend, and survives her final betrayal.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#31 Post by liwryan1 » 17 Feb 2018, 13:38

[b]1) Write your story statement.[/b]

Working Mom Raey competes in a Man's World and narrowly escapes with her family and character intact.

[b]2) Antagonist[/b]

Sure of himself Stew, is a cocky guy with a winning smile that accompanies his meat hook grip. Like a robust crockpot concoction, he has a little bit of all the right Type-A ingredients simmered together to make the perfectly successful soup; he is more than a broth, he's Stew! People seek after him, he's delicious and charming, like a warm bowl of Beef Bourguignon with potatoes and carrots and beans on a cold winter's day. He will take slightly overripe veggies and turn them into something that everyone can appreciate. He will inject wisdom and maybe just a little bit of beef lard into them to make them delectable to Upper Management. Stew.

3) Breakout titles

“Good Morning, Enrico” (my favorite title, the main character’s elderly father and his bird, Enrico)

“Swimming Upstream” (a play on words, the protagonist works in the Upstream part of the O&G)

“The Mapmaker” (another play on words: protagonist is a homemaker and a map maker)

4) Genre: Fiction

Literary and Fictional influences:
“Prodigal Summer”, “The Lacuna”, by Barbara Kingsolver
“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
“The Devil Wears Prada” by Lauren Weisberger

Memoir influences:
"Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom
“American Chica” by Marie Arana
“American Childhood” by Annie Dillard

Realism infused by: Real life experience and “Basin and Range” by John McPhee

Classics: “The Great Gatsby”, and “A Tale of Two Cities”

Two of my favorite authors are John Irving and Barbara Kingsolver. I love Irving for his rich characters, quirky humor, use of symbols, and his ability to weave a colorful story within a story. Kingsolver is an expert with setting and she writes beautiful prose, with meticulous attention to nature, and complex female characters. Before embarking on this novel, I have been writing short article-type pieces, with a style I will compare, with the utmost humility, to Mitch Albom’s. My writing style is similar to Albom's in that it is: slice of life, bittersweet, with touches of faith, nature, and reality thrown in.

The novel I am writing, Good Morning, Enrico, is most simply described as “Tuesdays with Morrie” meets “The Devil Wears Prada”. Protagonist Raey leaves home in suburban Detroit, her suitcase brimming with hope, character, and courage. She is encouraged to study science by her rather utopian physicist father (compare w/ Arana, Dillard), who gives her the somewhat false impression that men will respect her opinion. As an adult and working mother in Houston, Raey is determined to find her way through the maze of cul-de-sacs and complex corporate politics. She looks on as rich and shallow people destroy other people’s lives (ala Gatsby). Her boss, an arrogant guy named Stew, is similar to the very bad boss from “The Devil Wears Prada”. Raey realizes she is becoming more and more like her bad boss. Antagonist Stew and the influential and sexy Mari are the Tom and Daisy (Gatsby) of the story. When her mother dies and her co-worker Gil starts a downward spiral, Raey pauses to re-examine her working mom priorities. Spurred on by pressure from Stew, she confides in the wrong person and loses Gil's trust. Raey’s elderly father suffers a series of strokes, she finds herself making frequent trips back home (“Tuesdays with Morrie”). There she has trouble downshifting from the stressful life she left behind in Houston, but the song from her father’s bird helps ease the pain. During her visits she has deep discussions with her father about physics, God, life, and death (Albom). Throughout the book, her geologic insights keep her grounded. Her mapmaker brain takes her on several surreal bicycle dream journeys into the detailed street maps of places she has lived. The dreams eventually carry her home (inspired by Kingsolver and Irving).

[u]5) Primary Conflict:[/u]
Working Mom Raey proves she can have it all, and narrowly misses losing it all when she collides with the last bastion of Good Ol' Boys, in the form of successful and smooth-talking Stew Mathars.

[u]6 A) Inner conflict: [/u]
A very young child, Raey is consumed with curiosity. Her physicist father and teacher mother nurture this and send her outdoors to explore. At some point they start to worry she will grow up too “un-ladylike”. They send her to Sunday school where she sees a beautiful Dogwood tree and her love of nature leads her to believe in God. As a child, Raey has trouble understanding the concept behind one’s “soul” and her father tries to explain it using a prism and light as only a physicist can. Her beliefs also plague her in an industry where the rules about right and wrong (exemplified by the antagonist, Stew) are different than those she carries with her from her mid-western upbringing. Faced with the tragedies of 9/11, her mother’s death, and her co-worker’s tragedy, Raey searches for true answers. The religious people she meets give her pat, unsatisfactory explanations. Discussions with her detached, scientist friends, some who are atheists, leave her feeling empty and alone. As her father ages and his health declines, he and Raey reflect on the ultimate Truth and read the news reports about the Higgs-Boson (God Particle). Shortly before his death, they finally arrive at a “Pascal’s Dilemma” type solution. When she returns to work, grief-stricken and alone, she wonders aloud about whether there is a “Light at the end of the tunnel”, a snarky co-worker replies, “Yes, but watch out, it could be a train”.

6B) Secondary conflict(s):
Raey meets Gil, a co-worker she confides in daily, and together they form a deeply emotional bond that is dangerously close to love. At a company picnic, Raey sees Gil's legs and compares them to bicyclist Ben's legs, which leads her down a path of lustful attraction that she think will get in the way of their great working friendship. Gil has a best friend Paul, a snarky PhD. The three of them eat lunch together everyday. Paul and Raey fight over Gil’s attention and friendship. Ben starts getting jealous of Gil and Raey gets jealous of the pilates out-fitted Mom down the street. Her children even like that Mom's cookies better than Raey's. Worried, she shifts her focus from work to her family. In an effort to be a good mother, Raey records weekend adventures with Ben and the kids in a journal she calls the “Crockpot Chronicles”. When she meets her nemesis at work and his name is Stew, she cannot resist chronicling him, with poems and mean-spirited entries. Gil remarks that Raey is becoming more and more like Stew in order to compete with him. A manipulative woman named Mari who epitomizes everything Raey hates about women’s sexualized roles, enters the room at a Driller’s Conference. Raey is disgusted with the men, like Stew, who drool all over Mari. Raey is at work with Stew and a bunch of co-workers in a high-rise in Houston when the buildings fall on 9/11. They are glued to the TV, but Raey is frantically trying to call her parents who are visiting friends in DC. She is trying to reach the school and encounters a mean stay-at-home mom who yells at her for not picking up her kids faster. Rushing home she gets stuck in a horrible traffic jam. Raey is away on a business trip on the other side of the world when her father falls ill. She is immediately thrown into a cycle of guilt and condemnation. She says something insensitive to antagonist Stew about her friend Gil, who is facing a terrible fate. Gil's tragedy unfolds.

7) Setting
Part One: (1960-1965) Detroit, Virginia, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee:
The story begins and ends with Raey visiting her father’s basement apartment in a house built into a hill west of Detroit. He lives there with his bird, named after the famed physicist, Enrico Fermi. Raey flashes back to her childhood in Virginia, and there is a house with her father’s office in the basement, built into a hill. The setting: the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia, a wonder-filled snowy day, a creek in the backyard, a dogwood tree, and government housing in Oak Ridge where a bully rules the stairwell, a really big swimming pool and a rather confining Laundromat. Her siblings and family become her “rocks” and she later maps them to different rock-types. Her nemesis Stew is introduced in the likeness of the stairwell bully. The events of JFK's assasination are hazy and through the eyes of a three-year old Raey, but she can't help tying the event to her growing understanding of rivers and nature.

Part One Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Detroit: Dawn (Father, Enrico, Foreshadowing)
2. Virginia: Physics and The Lord's Prayer (Her parents, The Nuclear family, God, Foreshadowing of her mother’s later illness)
3. Virginia: Heroes and Rock types (Her siblings, The Nuclear family)
4. Oak Ridge: Sticks and Stones (Bully in the stairwell, Antagonist intro)
5. Virginia: The Dogwood Tree (God, Rebellion, Rules)
6. Virginia: The Creek behind the house (<PP 1, JFK) Foreshadowing)

Part 2: Detroit (1965-1980)
Raey’s family moves to Detroit and her exploration continues as she learns all about Lakes and Glaciers, reads a biography about the Wright Brothers, and learns to ride her bike. She picks up early street mapping skills and has an aptitude for puzzles and math. She encounters more bullies, fighting them, joining them, and ultimately learning how to avoid them. She seeks solace in the Crabapple Tree in their backyard, and rides her bike to the pool and the lake to escape. Her parents have high expectations - represented by the quarter jar they leave on the kitchen table. Raey hits puberty and continue to compete with the boys, but is not good at flirting with them, much to her mother's chagrin. The pockmarked streets of Detroit mimic Raey’s adolescent acne. Raey starts noticing unfairness in the world, from the 1967 Riots through Vietnam, when her brother's draft card arrives, to the 1975 Edmund Fitzgerald disaster. The autumn leaves and grey skies serve as a backdrop to her mother’s future illness. Riot-ravaged, run down, unemployed Detroit is a sharp contrast to the idyllic lawns of her suburban home. Her father’s denial and utopian outlook adds to the disparity she sees around her, in a city segregated by wealth and poverty. Snowy days, a love of swimming, trees, clouds, riding her bike around ordered streets, the lake, and a growing belief in God and disbelief in Religion persist as underlying themes.

Part Two Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Detroit, Michigan: Glaciers and the Lakes (Geology, The Nuclear Family)
2. Detroit: Bullies and Bicycle Dreams, part one (Antagonist, Physics, Father)
3. Detroit: A not so Civil War (< PP 2, Race Riots)
4. Detroit: Fall in Michigan (Detroit in decline and Mother’s illness)
5. Detroit: Mercury and The Crabapple Tree (Father, God, Geology)
6. Detroit: The Quarter Jar (The Rules, Boundaries)
7. Detroit: The Clarinet Player and Bicycle Dreams, part two (Antagonist)

Part 3: Minnesota and Colorado (1980's)
Raey’s love of snow and lakes lead her to Minnesota for college. She swims and bicycles and takes art classes. There she meets enlightened and educated men like her father and falls for the wrong one (a Stew-like character). To appease her father, she takes a geology class and loves the part about the creek (tieback to part 1). She embarks on field trips to see geologic settings in the snowy and frozen upper Midwest, learning more about the imprint the Glaciers left. She then embarks on a summer field trip to Colorado where she is in awe of the geology but encounters a very bullying field instructor (another Stew-like person). She seeks solace near a Cottonwood Tree and decides she is more like a Cactus Tree, in reference to the song she is listening to, she is "busy being free". Back for her senior year in Minnesota, her boyfriend dumps her and she recovers by riding her bike around the trails and lakes the glaciers left in the Twin Cities. There she has a fateful meet-up with her future husband, Ben Stone. Like the Wright Brothers he is an expert when it comes to fixing her bike and her broken heart. Together they ride across the river to St. Paul to witness a bridge implosion where their love story begins.

Part 3 Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Winter in Minnesota: (Love, Geology, Foreshadowing)
2. Minnesota: On Puzzles, Poetry, Provenance and Providence (< PP 3, Love)
3. Minnesota: Glaciers and Rivers (Geology, God, Determination)
4. Minnesota: Bicycle Dreams, part three (Love, Antagonist)
5. Summer in Colorado: The Cottonwood Tree and Cactus Tree (Antagonist, Independence)
6. Minnesota: Bridges (<PP 4) (Antagonist, Love, Foreshadowing)

Part 4: Houston, Desks, Day Care, and Dioramas (1990's - 2000)
Raey and Ben marry and move to Houston for their jobs. They experience culture shock from the heat and the traffic. Frustrated they start escaping to ride their bikes around the beautiful Texas Hill Country. They encounter a young family whose kids are climbing the giant Live Oak trees. The scene is so idyllic that Raey and Ben decide they want to start a family too. Two kids later, Raey is returning to work and mastering the work-home juggling game, working in a high rise downtown. The traffic jams, air pollution, flooding rains, and humidity in Houston are a sharp contrast to her beloved snowy Midwest. Raey escapes with her family, teaching them to ride their bikes around the complex maze of bike trails near their house. The setting is a Houston high rise, Houston traffic jams, and torrential downpours, mixed with sunny days in suburbia. They live on a cul-de-sac that is a part of another cul-de-sac, on a dead end street. This is in contrast to the ordered streets and blocks and trails she had growing up. The streets in Detroit were easier to understand, and the streets in the Twin Cities followed the glacial imprint (lakes and rivers). The sprawl in Houston is non-geologic and mostly a maze that has Raey feeling lost and hurried.

Part 4 Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Houston: Springtime in Texas (Family)
2. Houston: Crockpots and Hummingbirds (Antagonist, Family, Friends)
3. Houston: Tidy Desks and Cul-de-Sacs (Foreshadowing, contrast)
4. Detroit: Revisiting The Quarter jar (Expectations, the Establishment)
5. Houston: Swimming Upstream (Foreshadowing)
6. Houston: Guy Clout and the Drooler’s Conference (Antagonist, Co-worker)

Part 5: Houston, Detroit, and Airport Hubs (2001-2017)
She continues to have bicycle dreams and this time she is losing her way, lost in a maze of cul-de-sacs and streets with unintelligible names. Her daughter's mapmaker brain has the complex maze of streets all figured out, and her son and his imaginative friends have a series of hero and warrior adventures. Raey learns a lot watching her children playing with their friends in the parks and on the bike trails. Her son encounters a bully and sets up a toy soldier to guard his room. During 9/11 she is panicked trying to locate to her family and she starts worrying and questioning everything. In the news, the glaciers are melting and her father blames her for working in a dirty carbon-fueled industry. Her mother passes away and she must fly home in spite of her fear of flying and being separated from family. Gil's situation is worsening and Raey i too busy to notice. She embarks on a business trip around the world, trapped in International airport hubs and lounges when she hears some very bad news about Gil but cannot reach him. Her father visits and falls ill. She must wind her way through the traffic of Houston and the HR maze at work in order to help him. Her father moves back to Detroit for recuperation and Raey finds herself flying there on weekends, exhausted and stressed while Stew runs her project into the ground. Sitting in her father’s quiet apartment looking out at the beautiful trees reminds Raey of her idyllic childhood. Every time she visits, or her father speaks, Enrico starts singing a beautiful song. At some point, she slows down enough to listen. Setting: Houston high-rise, traffic jams, suburbia, Airports, planes, and Detroit.

Part 5 Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Houston: The Guy Guarding the Room (Foreshadowing)
2. Houston: The Day Everyone Cared (<PP 5 9/11)
3. Houston: Melting Glaciers (Unraveling, co-worker tragedy)
4. Houston, Traffic Jams: Clouds and Concrete (<PP 6 -Mother's death)
5. Flying: Business trips (Independence, Antagonist, facing fears)
6. Flying: Houston to Detroit: Bicycle Dreams, part 4 (facing death)
7. Detroit: The Tree Outside His Window (Climax, Father’s Death)

Part 6: Houston, Antarctica, Detroit (2017-) Denouement
Raey's father passes away in Detroit. Raey returns to Houston and her grown kids are leaving for college, taking their bikes with them. She is tired and sad and trying to stay interested in work, when Gil's friend Paul invites her to lunch to tell her the real story behind his death. Meanwhile, the Larson Ice Shelf is about to give and Ben wants to see it, so he surprises her with a trip to cheer her up. They wind up sipping champagne on an ice-flow in Antarctica. She sees a penguin mother shouting after her little penguins as they leave the nest and she can relate all too well. Raey is sad but the Glaciers fill her with an awe and appreciation of the big picture and what really matters. They fly back to Detroit to see if Enrico is still there. While there Raey and Ben visit the mock up of the Wright Brother’s shop at Greenfield Village. Detroit is recovering and so is Raey.

Part 6: Chapter Titles and Setting:
1. Houston: Performance Review and Quarter jar, revisited (Antagonist, God)
2. Houston: Empty Nest (Family, God)
3. Flying: Real Glaciers (Heroes)
4. Flying: Houston to Detroit: Bicycle Dreams and the Wright Brothers
5. Detroit: Enrico (Friend to the end)

Symbols from the Setting:
Bicycles (Rebellion, Independence)
Flying (Fear of Death)
Glaciers (The perspective that Geology brings)
Rocks (Family, Heroes)
Trees (God, Faith)
Birds (Friends, Hope)
Swimming, Water (Determination)
Clouds (Dreams, Aspirations)
Mazes, Cul-de-sacs, Traffic Jams, Maps (Finding her way)
Quarter Jar (Rules, Boundaries, High Expectations)
Light motifs: Shadows, Missing pieces, Mazes, Maps, Humidity, Haze

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#32 Post by Hortenzia » 20 Feb 2018, 21:44

Assignment 1-Story Statement
Thalia, (the protagonist) must prove her claim of being an heir to the Windermere family fortune that was stolen from her as a child and fight her family and authorities to achieve it.
Assignment 2- Antagonists
This novel contains 7 antagonists all with the motivations of greed and grandeur, each striving to stop the others from obtaining the family fortune. All these characters have their own proclivity for immoral acts of self-indulgence as well as personal revenge against the other family members. None of them care who is hurt or destroyed in the process as long as they win.
Assignment 3- Titles
Narcissists in Bloom, Twisted Family Values, Hearts of Greed
Assignment 4-Comparable - Alex Kava’s Fireproof, Patricia Cornwell’s Points of Origen
Assignment 5-Conflict Line
A young girl, the only survivor, discovered in the basement of a burned out hospital for the criminally insane must prove she is the daughter of the C.E.O. who was part of a wealthy and predominant family.
Assignment 6-Inner Conflict
Thalia was raised to believe that manipulating and causing pain was the way to get what she wants but finds once she sexually conquers Detective Darrell Costa she struggles with feelings of remorse and guilt for hurting him. These are unknown feelings to her, which she must face by making a mense with the detective who despite what she had done to him has fallen in love with her. When Darrell refuses to beat her in order for Thalia to feel exonerated for her behavior, it changes her view of what she has always believed.
Assignment 7-Settings
This story opens in the quiet hills of Vermont in the stark and leafless month of October where the air has begun to grow cold, and the sky darkens early in the day while fires burn not only in the chimneys of the local houses but in the mansions of the greedy who wish to funnel the finances of the hospital for the criminally insane into their pockets. The quiet hills of Vermont are meant as a serene, beautiful backdrop for characters that are harsh, devious and unexpected for such a place. The opening scene takes place on the back of a motorcycle and moves to a rustic bar and then to an idyllic cabin where the first of the unexpected deception begins. The story then moves to the police station and then go to where the two detectives explore the burned out remains of the hospital and find disturbing artifacts about the young girl who was found there after the fire. The turning point scene is when a new fire occurs at a VFW on the 10th anniversary of the hospital fire that is filled with colorful characters dressed in Halloween costumes that are questioned creating a twisted visual for the ordinary backdrop of a suburban bar. The clues gathered here take the detectives to the mansion of the wealthiest woman in the state where a sense of class distinction is created when the rich woman refuses to let the detectives on to the property as if they were beneath her. From here the detectives end up at the Ski resort bar that is filled with activity and noise that breaks the quiet feel of the Vermont backdrop. The antagonist, the young girl, found at the fire all grown up is at this bar and seduces one of the detectives. The rest of the scenes rotate between this bar and the mansions of two of the characters as well as a country club, an attorney's office, a science lab, the police station, one of the detective's cabin, the apartment of the other detective and the surrounding woods.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#33 Post by arockett » 22 Feb 2018, 06:24

Story statement

A 90 year-old woman must confront past Holocaust escape before death and come to peace with grandson.

Antagonist Forces

1) Mother is spiteful, controlling, sucking the confidence out of Letty at every turn, even in the face of capture.
2) The Vichy French are capturing Jews, interning them in concentration camps and shipping them on trains to the Nazis.

Title options

1) Fate’s Luck
2) Escape : Exodus
3) Heart of Exodus

1) The Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust's Shadow
2) Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival

Conflict Line

An old woman, gripped by regret, is waiting to die, but her grandson confronts her about her Holocaust escape from Vichy France because it holds the key to the questions that haunt his life.

Other Matters of Conflict

1) Even though Letty's mother is abusive telling her she will die because of her, Letty feels responsible for her safety and escape.
2) Sister is scheming and leaves family to save herself, but mother makes Letty include her in escape plans or she will refuse to listen to the plan.
3) Vichy French slowly turn on the Jews until they are as fanatical as the Nazis in rounding up and interning them.


1) Present day California and scenes in Afghanistan, Cuba, and South Africa
2) 1930s Antwerp Belgium
3) 1938-1942 Vichy France
4) 1940 Switzerland

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#34 Post by Charissedahlke » 26 Jan 2019, 20:54

Algonkian Writer Conference: St Augustine 2019

Pre-Workshop Assignments

1. Story Statement:
A woman’s quest to save the country she previously betrayed for love

2. Antagonist:
Henry Beauclerc, the forth son of the king falls in love with the Welsh princess but the power to rule England is in direct conflict with his feelings for her. Henry kills his brother and outsmarts the other to secure his place as King of England. He has an illegitimate child with Nesta but takes it from her at birth. He marries another as a royal alliance securing his crown. He marries Nesta to one of his trusted men, Gerald. He threatens war with Wales when she is kidnapped by her cousin Owain.

3. Breakout Title:
a. The Secret Queen
b. Helen of Wales: The Story of Nesta
c. The Seventh Sacred Oath

4. Compatibles
a. The Pillars of The Earth by Ken Follett: This book takes place in the same timeframe and deals with King Henry’s succession issues.
b. The Lost Queen by Signe Pike published in 2018 is described as Historical fiction considered a combination of Outlander and Mists of Avalon. The book describes a strong feminine journey weighted between tradition and superstition.

5. Conflict:
Love and politics in the early 12th century. Henry becomes King of England when his brother William is killed in a hunting accident which Henry carefully arranged. Henry loves Nesta but the alliances he needs to maintain his power requires his marriage to Matilda. Nesta’s father turns on her for having an illegitimate child with Henry. When her father dies, Nesta is married to Gerald but is still Henrys mistress. Nesta is kidnapped by her second cousin Owain where she learns the old ways of Wales. Henry threatens war with the Welsh until she is returned. Gerald is a defeated man but has his own affair while Nesta is missing. Nesta and Gerald’s children are the FitzGerald’s who are the ancestors to JFK and Princess Dianna

6. Protagonist Conflict: The choices Nesta makes, fate/destiny, love in the form of oaths and bonds in a time stuck between the old Britannic ways and a future under Norman rule. After suffering betrayal by all those she had trusted and depended on, she embraces her fate and accepts her destiny.

7. Detailed Setting Sketch:

a. Nesta’s beloved father, Rhys ap Tewdur, in a blind rage kicks her in the stomach and spits on her lifeless body as it lays crumpled on the floor of his cherished Welsh soil. When she awakes she is in her bed with her mother on one side and a woman of the old ways on the other. She doesn’t lose the baby.
b. Flashback to her close childhood relationship with her father and brother traveling the country. She was destined to be the mother of great Welsh Kings. Rhys feels he has no choice to make peace with the Normans who had already seized most of England. To secure their freedom to continue to rule their lands, the Welsh King agrees to pay a feudal obligation and swore an oath of alliance to King William. The meeting was held at Saint David’s. Rhys had both Nesta and her brother Gruffered with him when he met the Kings men which included Prince Henry, the forth son of the Norman King. Henry is instantly taken with the young woman as she with him. They instantly fall in love and start a secret affair.
c. Nesta has an illegitimate child with Henry and a few weeks after the child was born, Henry takes the child and puts him with a foster family in Oxford shire for his own protection. The child would be known as Robert of Gloucester who would become a key ally in keeping the Kingdom in his father’s family.
d. On his deathbed, King William grants his eldest son Robert the title of Duke of Normandy and William, his 3rd son becomes his successor as King of England. Henry received some money. (Richard, the 2nd son had died). Henry was the only son at his father’s funeral in Caen where he wanted to be buried at the Abbey aux Hommes. When the corpse was lowered into the tomb, the space was too small so the attendants forced the body and it burst spreading a disgusting smell throughout the church.
e. When Nesta’s father, Rhys is killed in a battle Nesta’s mother and brother escape to Ireland and Nesta is brought into King Williams household in order to establish his hold on the Welsh land and to control his brother Henry who he was sure was in collusion with his eldest brother to take his crown. Under normal traditions, a ward of the crown such as Nesta would have been required to serve her Queen as a Lady in Waiting but since William had never married, there was no Queen. As for women, William kept very few in his service. Of course, the cook and laundress were both woman but never were much in his notice. Nesta instead ran the household for King William and enjoyed many of the luxuries that came with the position.
f. During a hunting trip, William was killed in a terrible accident carefully arranged but never proven by Henry who wasted no time in seizing the crown. It was a carefully laid plan that took place while his older brother Robert was away. In order to keep it, Henry marries Matilda in order to gain favor with the people and form an important alliance between the Normans and Saxons. Nesta is devastated but accepts her fate. Henry tells Nesta that she will is the real Queen, the secret queen. The two women could not survive in the same household and Matilda convinces her husband to marry Nesta to Gerald FitzWalter, de Winsor, the constable of Pembroke.
g. Nesta is a good wife to Gerald and they have several children but Henry can’t leave Nesta who is still her true love and at times was so bold he would send Gerald on a pilgrimage and sleep with her under her own husband’s roof. Gerald knew what was going on but was defeated. Henry takes Pembroke from him when he even softly challenged him.
h. During a Christmas banquet at the new castle Cigerran, Owain, Nesta’s second cousin sees her for the first time. He reminds her of her father and is infatuated and he is overcome by her beauty. Within months, Owain attacks the castle hoping to kill Gerald and take Nesta as his own wife. Nesta helps Gerald escape down a privy hole. Owain kidnaps Nesta and her two sons. While she is away Gerald has an affair with Nesta’s trusted friend while Henry sends his men to find Nesta. A Welsh civil war breaks out as bribed Welshmen turned on each other until finally Nesta is returned to Gerald. Owain escapes to Ireland.
i. While Nesta was with Owain at secret stronghold in Dinas near the coast in Gwynedd, she again meets the woman of the old ways who helps her to embrace her fate and accept her destiny. When she returns to Gerald, she is much stronger and sure of herself. She takes her role as the Secret Queen very serious as she now understands her children and future grandchildren will shape the world.
j. Henry’s only legitimate son William dies in the sinking of the White Ship causing a succession problem. Henry brings his and help Nesta’s eldest son Robert of Gloucester to protect his half-sister Maud and his grandson Henry II as the next King of England. Henry introduces Robert to his mother Nesta.
k. The group would meet and have a plan to put in place if the King was to die. It wouldn’t be very long until the plan that wasn’t well planned yet was to take effect. King Henry was feasting with some of his key advisors when he started to feel ill. He spent the next few days in bed in terrible pain. It was determined that Henry had eaten bad fish. Henry never recovered and passed away late one evening. Robert never left his side. Even after his death, he stayed with Henrys body until it was buried.
l. Gerald was at the feast where Henry had eaten the bad fish. He wondered if he would ever be caught for his treasonous acts against the King. He was careful not to be caught. No one would be suspicious and no one would ever suspect that his death was anything more than a tragic accident.
m. Gerald fell asleep easily that evening. He had a full belly and plenty of beer. It was early morning when he awoke to two men standing over him. One had a knife to his throat. The two men were dressed in rags. The one who held the knife searched his body and eventually found his small pouch of silver. While the men were distracted, Gerald took the opportunity to reach for his own knife that was attached right below his knee. He brought it up to kill the robber who was astride him and before he could thrust it into the man, the robber brought reacted and plunged his own knife down through Gerald’s throat. Gerald froze and his throat made gurgling sounds as blood gushed from the wound when the robber pulled back his knife.
n. Nesta recovered from her grief and found her strength remembering her seventh oath. She had her children who needed her to guide them and prepare them for their own destinies. Her two oldest sons with Gerald were now riding with her brother Griffith who was securing his claim to her father’s lands. Robert and Henry, her two sons from the King were now protecting the crown and protecting Maud. All of her children would be important men to the future of all of England and Wales.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#35 Post by LVillafane » 28 Jan 2019, 06:43

First Assignment
Story Statement

Gloria must meet the one buried deep inside her mind, the Other Gloria,if she is going to escape her dangerous ex-husband with her life and the life of her two young daughters.

Second Assignment
Antagonistic Force

Charles Davis was an only child until the age of eight, after which his mother gave birth to sibling after sibling. He was not able to control all the children being brought into his home when he was young. He was not able to control his father’s rage. He was not able to control his mother’s depression.
Charles learned to crave control as he grew. When he became a man, he learned to take control. He was calculating when it came to choosing a partner. He chose a young girl he could mold into his perfect, obedient servant. He would isolate her from friends and family, all the better to teach her his ways. It didn’t matter that he had to use physical force and intimidation. The ends would always justify the means.
To Charles, the illusion of control was everything. He did not; however, have control over his drinking. He did not have control over his rages. The more he felt his control slip, the more he exerted his dominion over his wife to regain it. If she ever stopped being his perfect mate, he might have to resort to murder.

Third Assignment
Breakout Title

The Other Gloria
What She Can’t Remember

Fourth Assignment

The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
I believe this novel to be comparable due to the fact it is a twisty psychological thriller. Also, the tools in the antagonist’s arsenal tend to be mind games and control.
Between You and Me, by Lisa Hall
I think this novel is a comparable domestic thriller with quite a twist at the end.

Fifth Assignment
Conflict Line

Gloria must meet the one locked deep inside her subconscious, the Other Gloria, in hopes of finding a way to free herself and her two young daughters from her dangerous ex-husband.

Sixth Assignment
Two More Levels of Conflict

Inner Conflict

Gloria is stuck in her past knowing she must ask her parents for help to leave Charles:
Not many thoughts are her own any longer since Gloria has been married to Charles. However, she has tried to hold onto her own moral beliefs. The beliefs she was taught as a child. She knows they’re probably outdated, but they were given to her by her parents, and she has grasped onto them with all her might.
The belief that sex should be saved for marriage. She can’t confess, even to herself, this belief is what got her into trouble with Charles in the first place. At the time, she had to believe it was the right thing to do—marrying Charles at such a young age after he forced himself on her. She had deluded herself, thinking since they had consummated, they were already married in the eyes of God.
The strange thing is, she does not hold others up to these standards. Why does she judge herself? If truth be told, she knows it’s because she wants her parents to be proud of her.
Now with so much life experience behind her, she sees she will have to let go of these morals. Who will she even be without them? After all the horrible things she’s been forced to do, they’ve helped her feel like she still might be a good person. She knows it, though. She must leave her husband. She must confess to her parents, things she never wanted them to know.
She knows in her heart they will support her, but what will they think of her?

Secondary Conflict

Being with her two beautiful little girls has given Gloria hope, but she still finds herself thinking of her future with Rick. Or, as things stand now, it would be her past. They had known each other for a year when everything went so horribly wrong. What she remembers now, is how they met and how her teenage daughter, Sarah, had been none too happy about the situation.
She had been having deep conversations with Rick over the phone for about a month. The next day they would finally meet in person. As she sat in her bathroom, washing off her makeup from the day, she looked up to see Sarah leaning against the door jam.
“So when are you going to meet?” Sarah asked, one eyebrow raised, a lock of auburn hair wound around her forefinger.
“Tomorrow at noon.” Gloria turned back to the mirror, scrubbing her face a little harder than she should. She did not want to have this conversation with her daughter.
“It’s okay, Mom,” Sarah said curtly. “You're going to do what you’re going to do.”
Gloria stopped rubbing her face, turned in her chair and tried to come up with something to soothe Sarah.
“What if I call you during my date, so you can put your mind at ease,” Gloria suggested, as she turned back to look at herself in the mirror, her face crimson from scrubbing.
“How about I go with you for the first meeting? Two of us would be safer than just you,” Sarah countered, in all seriousness.
Gloria’s head whipped around. “I’m not taking my fifteen-year-old daughter on a date. Are you being serious?”
“Yes, Mom. I’m worried,” Sarah said, her voice raised, as she continued to stand in the doorway, not budging an inch.
Gloria had to take a moment to calm down. She considered the sincere concern she could clearly hear in her daughter's voice and countered with another suggestion:
“How about I call and check in with you every hour while I’m out. That way you’ll know I'm not lying in a ditch off Highway 99 somewhere. I give you permission to call 911 if you don't hear from me.” Gloria winced as the last part came out of her mouth. Suggesting Sarah call 911 was going a little too far, but it was out now.
Sarah began to nod, “We have a deal. You have to call me every hour on the hour,” she said, one hand on her hip and the other still wound in her hair. “Better yet, I will call you.” Screwing up her freckled nose, Sarah then added, “It just goes against the natural order of things, you know, Mom. I mean, you guys are so old. It seems I’m the only one who has any sense around here.”
Gloria wanted to make the argument that forty is not too old, but Sarah had already turned to leave. In the end, she thought it best to leave it there.

Seventh Assignment

January 2019

Gloria suddenly finds herself behind the wheel of a car, speeding down a dark highway. She must remember what happened to bring her here. Something about the road seems familiar, but there is only a vague recognition.
There are few passing cars to light up the night. The blackness seems to swallow her whole, sending her careening into the dark and utterly blind as to what lies ahead. Only able to see where her headlights direct, she has no idea of her destination.
A car begins to pass as she looks slightly downward. The quick flash of light reveals what looks like a massive amount of blood on her hands, which are currently perched at ten and two on the steering wheel. She flinches at the sight, suddenly jerking the wheel.
She almost sideswipes the rear of the passing car. Her car crosses farther into the left lane and then farther, almost hitting the concrete barrier as she tries frantically to correct. The red taillights of the passing vehicle are nearly out of sight, and the leaden darkness envelops her once more.
There is a trembling that seems to originate in the pit of her stomach and emanates out through her hands. A nagging voice from deep inside pushes her forward, but, try as she might, she can’t remember a thing up until a few minutes ago.
She glances at the speedometer and realizes that thankfully, she is slowing. Somehow she musters the courage to bring her full attention to the task at hand. Finally, she pulls the car safely onto the shoulder. With a shaking hand, she pushes the shift lever to park.
For a moment she focuses on her aching head. It’s beginning to feel like a bass drum resounding in rhythmic beats off every inch of her skull. She doesn’t know how long she will be able to keep on like this, but something urges her forward.
Remembering her hands, she is unable to comprehend the blood she has just seen. She can’t understand, with all that blood, why she hasn’t passed out by now. Another car is coming up behind her, and she lifts her head, praying what she saw was just an illusion, a trick of the lights, or her out-of-control imagination. Her eyes widen in shock as the car passes and she realizes what she has seen is real.
She fumbles around the dashboard, frantically turning every switch and knob until she finds the interior lights. Wincing, she closes her eyes tightly once she has switched them on. Slowly opening her eyes, she begins to inspect her hands. There is a lot of blood, so much blood, but she can see no cuts of any significance. Still, she turns her hands over and over again.
She turns her head slightly to look down at her right arm. What she sees makes her stomach churn. She thinks, for one terrible moment, she might throw up. Her entire sleeve is covered in blood, drenched in it. Looking further, she sees her white shirt is now almost completely stained red.
Her mind finally takes in the gruesome fact—what used to be a white, long-sleeved shirt is now mostly red with blood, only a few white patches remaining. Her heart is beginning to feel like it’s slamming against her chest. Her breathing is coming in long hard gasps. She is sweating profusely, but she feels very cold. Bowing her head she tries to gain control over her breathing, but the feeling of panic won’t go away.
After a moment, she decides she must do something. She can’t just sit here. She reaches down to unbutton her sleeve, gently pulling it up as high as it will go. Try as she might, she can find no cuts deep enough to cause such heavy bleeding. All the while, she is thinking she might pass out from her ever-growing headache.
She is practically willing herself to push on at this point. For a moment, as she reaches to pull down the visor and look into the mirror, she thinks the blood might be coming from her head. She gasps at her reflection. Blood smeared on her face and in her hair. Makeup smeared all over her face. She looks like a clown from a horror movie, dark tear stains of mascara running down to her chin. Her red lipstick, intermingled with blood, is gobbed in streaks around her mouth.
As she scrutinizes her own reflection, she finds a knot about the size of a golf ball forming on the left side of her scalp. It went nearly unnoticed under her matted hair. Pulling her blond hair aside to examine further, the lump is blue and ugly, but there’s no blood to speak of.
She decides to examine the rest of her body. Every movement is painful. It’s not only her head that aches; her entire body seems to be aching. Gently pulling up the sleeve of her left arm, she finds no cuts. Next, she unbuttons her shirt to inspect her stomach and chest. It’s hard to tell with so much blood covering her, but the bleeding, wherever it’s coming from, seems to have stopped.
Think! What happened tonight?
She lowers her head to the steering wheel again, hoping to find some clarity. She feels she could sleep, but she knows, with a head injury, that sleeping could be dangerous.
Snapping out of her mind and back into her gruesome reality, she raises her head to inspect the interior of the car. There are streaks of blood on the steering wheel, the shift lever, the dash, and the seat around her, but nowhere else that she can see. The interior is light gray. This reignites the confusion in her mind. She has never owned a car with a gray interior.
Suddenly a sickening dread comes over her. The feeling of someone watching. It’s overpowering. Then she feels it. She’s had this feeling before . . . the feeling . . . of nothingness.

Gloria remembers her first date with Rick. She would be meeting him at her best friend, Mickey’s, ranch for an afternoon of horseback riding.
As she backed out of the driveway Saturday morning, Sarah waved from the back door and pointed to a watch that wasn’t on her wrist. She knew what that meant: Sarah would be calling in precisely one hour if she didn’t check in.
She headed out of town on Highway 119. As she passed over I-5, she began to leave the farmlands behind. Stretched out in front of her were the flat lands which so far had been left natural with only dirt, scrub brush, and weeds. Closer to the foothills, dotting the landscape in the distance, were pumpjacks and oilfield roads crisscrossing just about everywhere.
In Bakersfield you never knew where you might see a pumpjack, with its horse head bobbing up and down, the counterweights turning slowly behind. You might see one in the middle of the city between commercial buildings, or you might see one in the middle of a cotton field on the outskirts of town.
She took a left off the highway onto a gravel road just before reaching the foothills. She was soon driving alongside the rusted pipe rail fencing cordoning off Mickey’s ten-acre property. Turning onto the dusty drive, she traveled under a rusted, arched metal entrance, from which hung a plank with the Lazy M brand burned into the wood.
Passing the white clapboard ranch house on the left, with its white picket fence enclosing a lawn that lay dormant for the winter, she drove on to the back of the property. Junipers lined the road to the twelve stall, gray metal-sided barn in back. Two yellow tabby cats scurried into the barn as she approached.
She could see Mickey at the hitching rail near the arena situated across the road from the barn. Her brown hair was pulled back in its usual long ponytail. Wearing a denim jacket with her jeans and western boots, she looked every bit the horsewoman she was. She already had two horses saddled up. It looked like Gloria and Rick would be riding Suzy Q and Hot Shot today.
Suzie was a beautiful golden palomino filly, with a snow-white mane and tail. Gloria knew she was a little green. Mickey usually liked to pair her up with Hot Shot, who despite his name was quite a gentle, seasoned bay quarter horse gelding. Suzie stood stomping an impatient hoof, kicking up little puffs of dust underneath her as she waited.
Like Hot Shot, the horses Mickey raised for show, were American Quarter Horses. She also kept other breeds she used for her riding students and horses she would train for friends, so her stalls were always full.
On the other side of the arena, Gloria could see Mickey had one of her show horses hooked up to the hot walker, slowly walking around in a circle, as the mechanical device churned. A beautiful sorrel mare, her coat gleaming red in the sun. The remainder of her show horses were in their stalls covered in blankets to keep them from growing shaggy winter coats. She knew Mickey spent hours brushing each one of them to an amazingly glossy shine.
Gloria stepped out of her car and pulled on her light nylon jacket. The day hadn’t turned out to be so cold after all. Looking up, she could see there were only a few puffy white clouds in a clear blue sky. She had parked near the door to the barn and could smell the sweet smell of alfalfa bails stacked inside. She turned and headed across the dirt road toward the arena.
“Hi, Mickey,” she called out, as she waved her hand high in the air.
Mickey smiled and waved back. “Hi there, stranger.”
“You know this is going to cost you,” Mickey said, as she tightened the cinch on Hot Shot’s saddle, while Gloria jogged over.
“Oh yeah, and what exactly would that be?” Gloria asked, cautiously.
“You have to tell me every juicy detail about this new guy of yours,” Mickey said, looking up with a smirk.
“I knew I was going to have to do that anyway,” Gloria said, nervously looking toward the entrance for Rick’s pickup.
“Ooh, you’re nervous,” Mickey teased.
“Yeah, I never know what might come out of your mouth,” Gloria chuckled, giving Mickey a look like she had better behave.
Mickey just laughed as she came around and pulled on Suzie’s stirrup, checking to see if the saddle was snug. They both heard the truck coming down the drive at the same time and turned to look. Rick’s black Chevy pickup was kicking up a cloud of dust behind him.
“Now Mickey, behave yourself,” Gloria said, elbowing her in the ribs.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#36 Post by PAMELAA5MAIN » 10 Feb 2019, 19:22

1. Statement:
American healer and massage therapist, Sherry Waters, accepts a job in France to massage an old dictator whom most people believe dead. What she discovers about him leaves her with a painful dilemma.
2. Antagonist:
The antagonist in the story is the dictator, a complex man who detests his new massage therapist. To him, she is a representative of the country that funded the coup that bullied and deposed him. The country he once ruled so ruthlessly, according to some, and so beneficently to others, is not named. As Sherry explains in her first-person account, the memory of those who have lost everything is long. While those he has beggared might not be able to seek revenge on the perpetrator, his family and those who helped to hide and keep him alive might be at risk for doing so.
The dictator is old, sick, rude, ornery, fearful, by turns kind to animals and cruel to humans. Clever and egomaniacal, he is an engaging storyteller. At times, he appears to have a normal human heart.
Sherry seeks to understand and come to terms with a man who brought free health care and education to its citizens but also killed his own citizens and some of those closest to him. Sherry must sort through conflicting accounts, not knowing for a time whom or what to believe. Eventually, she must decide what do about what she learns.
3. Titles:
The Dictator's Body
The Dictator, the Healer, and the Storyteller
The Healer's Tale
4. Genre:
High-concept women's fiction, upmarket mystery
The Last King of Scotland
Heart of Darkness
The subject matters are similar.
5. Once she learns more about his deeds, an American massage therapist struggles to help the dictator she has been hired to heal. She must ultimately decide whether to join forces with those who wish to kill or harm him for his crimes against humanity.

6. Sherry was once known as a healer, an empath, though several traumatic events--a divorce and a rape--have made her question her abilities. When the strange opportunity to massage the dictator in France is presented to her, she takes the job for the money, for the thrill, and for a greater sense of purpose. She cannot foresee the dilemma she will face once she begins to massage several of the dictator's other caretakers. Kamille, the dictator's sister-in-law and now his cook, begins to slowly tell Sherry her story. The internal conflict Sherry must ultimately resolve has to do with the healer's dictum to first, do no harm. In America, even in the face of personal hardship, she had thought this guiding principle a given. Massaging the dictator forces her to plumb depths she believed were not of her world. The political, the other, has become personal.

7. Settings:
A village in Bordeaux
Saint Malo
In addition to the above, the various members of the dictator's remaining posse tell stories set in Kashmir, Morocco, and several unnamed "red-mud villages." Several flashbacks are set on Sanibel Island and in Manhattan.

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Joined: 22 Jan 2019, 19:27

Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#37 Post by kellygammonwhite » 10 Feb 2019, 20:53

Story Statement
Alice Jensen wants to reconnect with her uncommunicative 15-year-old daughter, so they take a trip to her family’s 200-year-old plantation house in rural Virginia where secrets – both present and past – are exposed.

Perhaps this will be an issue, but this story is designed to give Alice rising and falling antagonists throughout the story. Rather than have, say, the evil banker who wants to take the house, Alice instead confronts different, smaller obstacles in three acts. At the story’s start, Alice’s antagonist is her uncommunicative daughter. Alice tries to get her “share” the details of her day/life, and her daughter refuses. As the story develops, and Alice and Katie begin to communicate, her antagonist shifts to her new friend Karen, who challenges Alice’s long-held beliefs about her life, and how she views her past. When Karen warms into a friend, Alice’s antagonist becomes her family, the collective group of relatives who are wanting her to sell the house, rather than own it.

Title Brainstorming
(Current working title: River Haven)
A Reversing of Beliefs
Becoming Alice
The Secrets of River Haven
A Past of Significance
Not Too Far From Here
The House of Knowing
Repairing River Haven

Genre and Comparables
My genre is upmarket women’s fiction. Alice’s journey is her own, and has little to do with men or a romantic relationship. It’s a story of a woman who has to learn to change her understanding of herself and her past in order to find meaning in the present.

For comparables, I’m having difficulty. The Cactus, by Sarah Heywood? Kate Morton’s The Lake House? I don’t know of any contemporary books that use historical fiction diaries (not going back into scenes of the past, only relying on the diary) as part of the character growth. Perhaps you all can help me discover some options in terms of comparable contemporary novels.

Alice Jensen and her daughter do not talk, or understand each other at all. Alice must figure out what has gone wrong between them, and what Katie is hiding from her. She has to change herself in order to reach her daughter.

Main Character Inner Conflict
Alice’s past has taught her the lessons of oppressing her emotions and fears, and simply putting one foot on front of the other to cope. But that’s not enough now that her daughter seems to need something else from her. She has to learn to break out of her habit of not dealing with conflict and emotion so she can find her daughter (and herself) again.

Secondary Conflict
Alice’s neighbors descend and without knowing it, demand she participate in life. They refuse to let her retreat or avoid them, and she learns to speak her mind through their constant expectations she do so.

The diaries of her ancestor also demand a reaction from her. Jackson Meade’s story of love and loss in the Civil War era show her how one can endure and triumph while feeling everything life offers. They inspire her to live more fully.

River Haven is a 200 year old former plantation set in the small town of Tylerville, Virginia. At the story’s start, the house is neglected and sad, and the town of Tylerville, while nostalgic and charming for Alice, is also seen through the lens of her daughter’s fresh eyes – quiet, empty and casually racist. Their views of River Haven also vary wildly. Alice sees the home of her grandmother – the last safe place she got to live before the death of her mother. Katie sees a broken down house with no air-conditioning or wifi, and a bunch of empty rooms. The diaries bring them together, let them both see River Haven as a link to their family, as a place of refuge in troubled and tragic times, and as a place of possibility for them in the present day.

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Joined: 05 Feb 2019, 21:12

Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#38 Post by LISAA5KUGLER » 11 Feb 2019, 19:42

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

17 Year old Raina must discover why magic has returned, what it has to do with her, and what secrets her father has been hiding.

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 main antagonist for Raina is 17 Year old Cy, a boy she has known since 2nd grade. A boy who was born to have the magic she possesses. Cy’s disappointed father became abusive and only found his son useful in so far as he could get close to Raina. Cy did come to love Raina in his own way, as they were alike…The only two half dragons in the world. So, as he made plans to kill his father, discovering his own very rare magic in the process, he also made plans for Raina ….which including kidnapping her parents and forcing her to help him in his grab for even more power. He believes she will see things as he does once she understands the truth and he honestly thinks he is setting her free. His moral compass doesn’t point due north, but…can we blame him? And once Raina discovers the truth, will she? It’s part of her own internal struggle that he was her friend first.

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

The Dragon’s Daughter is the name of this, the first book. The series is tentatively called “The Spark Series”

Subsequent books will be:
The Siren’s Pet
The Mentalist’s Magic


- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon:
- 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?

Beautiful Creatures- Both YA contemporary Fantasy. Both have a similar sense of place, I think.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone- Both YA Contemporary Fantasy. Both about young women learning secrets from their pasts.

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.

Raina must rescue her parents while finding a way to deny Cy what he really wants: the return of all magic and the Dragon’s Heart.

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.

Raina is trying to figure out, who she is and who she can trust. There are people all around her when her parents are taken: Cy (by text) Hector (a former bully turned ally) Jess (her best friend) Gabe (who she just met and who told her about dragons). But her father has lied to her and the laws of the universe have been turned on their head! And she suddenly has this fantastic power where if she tells somebody to jump, they won’t even wait to ask how high. They will just do it. Raina faces temptation within herself on many levels. Pull within about what is right and pull without about who is really a friend.

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?

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Raina has some issues. This book takes place over 48 measly little hours. And Raina is probably going to need a lifetime of counseling afterwards #sorrynotsorry

But these 48 initiate her into everything she is and is about to become. They reveal the moment, for example, she sees Cy in his half dragon- half human form, on the deck of the container ship. This is after he has revealed himself to her as a false friend. After he has told her the sad story of his childhood, then made her afraid he would rape or kill her. She already saw glimpses of a monster. Then he became one before her eyes. And now she is haunted by the thought that she is the same type of creature. She is the monster she saw. This is exacerbated because while she helps her family escape Cy, she is not able to save all of Jess’s family. Jess’s little sisters are still hidden somewhere by Cy and the Dragon Council. This sets up the second book.

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.

I’m not ashamed to say my setting for the contemporary part of the book is my hometown… Amelia Island. I wanted someplace with historic flavor. I wanted someplace immersive. There was so much else going on…I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel. So, I didn’t. I just re-named some places and went with it. Sandy Bottoms could easily become “Mermaids Rock”. So, I have kept the shrimp boats on one end of the island, and main beach on the other. I have the “rich” north end and the “working class” south end. I’ve got all the local flavor I was looking for in the High School. The series has a lot of world building in that it stretches back to before recorded history to a Pangea-type continent where magic was as common as air and water and light. That world will not show up until book 2, but I needed my modern setting crisp, and real and by basing it on something that was real, I knew I could not go wrong. If this is a mistake though, I can rectify it.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#39 Post by KathleenCaputoNelmsA5 » 12 Feb 2019, 03:41

1. Write your story statement

When a homicide detective returns to her home town and a body is discovered in the local park, she uncovers a startling connection to an unsolved murder from the past that may make her question everything she has ever known about loyalty, trust, family, and love.

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

The antagonistic forces of the story are the desire for the murder of James Conti in 1969 to remain an unsolved case, and the desperation involved in unrequited love. The desire to have the death of James Conti remain a mystery is the driving antagonistic force and several people in the town are willing to go to great lengths to guard the secrets about what happened on that fateful night.
The second antagonistic force, while also aligned with the first, additionally involves resentment, jealousy, and unrequited love.

3. Breakout Titles:

• A Sliver in the Dark
• In Darkness
• Silence All These Years

4. Genre: Mystery Suspense


• The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager
• Sweet Little Lies, by Caz Frear
• A Borrowing of Bones, by Paula Munier

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

A homicide detective must unravel a mystery surrounding a cold case murder tied to a new murder in her hometown, and she uncovers family secrets that many would like to keep buried, blurring the lines between right and wrong as she struggles between her professional and moral code versus her family loyalty.

6. 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.  

When a dead body is discovered in the local park and foul play is suspected, Julia Venezia uncovers a murder from the past with ties to her family that may be linked to a new murder. When Julia asks her mother about it, she is startled to learn that the man who had been killed back then had been her aunt’s boyfriend and her uncle’s best friend.
As Julia works on her own to unravel the mystery surrounding the incident in the past, and her friend, Officer Joe Mason, investigates this new murder, she becomes increasingly conflicted when she begins to suspect the uncle she loves like a father of murdering his best friend.
As Julia tries to uncover the truth and untangle her family’s web of secrets, she is anguished over the fact that she is keeping information from Joe, information that could help him to solve the new murder.

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?

Julia’s secondary conflict stems from her feelings toward the place, her hometown, which she had sought to escape and is now back there for a period of time due to an unfortunate incident in her professional career as a homicide detective in the city, and is feeling pulled back into its small-town ways.
Julia is also conflicted about incidents in her past, one in which she felt she had let a friend down, and her friend ended up committing suicide. She carries this guilt with her, and it affects her decision making, which is how she ended up on leave from her job as a homicide detective.

7. 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.


Tennek, Pennsylvania is a small, suburb, an hour outside of Philadelphia consisting of approximately 6500 people. It is a diverse population of people, some who have grown up in the small town, some who have moved there from the city, along with migrant people who have moved there for work in farming and restaurants.

• Everyone knows everyone
• Tight knit community
• Unaccepting of outsiders, new people
• The people of the town like to talk, but also have carefully guarded secrets
• The people of the town protect one another (if they have grown up together)
• People never leave
• Has a Main Street through town with quaint shops, restaurants, and art galleries
• Farm land, sprawling acres just outside of town
• University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Campus
• Historical sites
• A large river surrounded by woods, just outside of town
• An Art Museum on the river
• An arts community, (artists, musicians, writers)
• A large park with a pond
• A Golden Retriever Rescue
• A large community youth center
• Some tourists

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#40 Post by CathyA5Riddle » 13 Feb 2019, 17:55

Story Statement :

Fleeing a work failure and avoiding her beau’s marriage proposal back East, a woman visits Milwaukee and is pulled into finding out who killed a college student at a local brewery while also trying to reconcile with her estranged brother.

Antagonist : The antagonist works at the local grocery store and has a vendetta against new business ventures in town because they have changed the ambience and makeup of what was once a quiet Polish-Irish neighborhood. Unable to acknowledge the rise in traffic at his own store due to more tourists, the antagonist turns to his growing religiosity and puritanical inclinations for solace. In particular, he condemns the popular new brewery down the street, especially after an event during which a young college student dies in a suspicious accident. Racist, he has an adversarial relationship with his coworkers, several of whom are Hispanic. An unsuccessful run for school board two years ago left him bitter about politics in the area, but he spends lots of time talking to customers and trolling the internet to encourage arguments about everything from snow shoveling policies to sperm donor anonymity. When he is not doing his obsessive CrossFit stuff at the waterfront area gym, he woos/harasses women in the area and “coaches” idealistic entrepreneurs who don’t know who he really is. His family is trying to help rein him in, but his anger and the jealous streak, especially toward the handsome brew master down the street, color all that he does and make him incapable of responding to them to get help.

No Contact
She’ll Have A Beer
Brewery on Misery Street

Genre and Comparables: This a cozy mystery with a female amateur protagonist situated in the contemporary Midwest. It is similar to Libby Kirsch’s Janet Black and Stella Reynolds series. I think her audience is similar to mine, her content is comfortable cozy and relatable and her writing sounds like how I write.

Also comparable to Dennis Cuestra’s Stuck in Manistique. I think there is a mix of content that suits what I’m trying to do. His book combines sleuthing, sad family strife and a bit of humor, which I want to add in. I also like that he is earthy and his setting seems realistic. No spaceships or dragons.

Conflict Line: Dismayed by her wedding jitters and her own sense of disloyalty but wanting to mend fences first with her estranged brother, a woman is pulled into assisting in the search for the Polish Killer who claimed the life of a college student attending a beer festival in Milwaukee, a crime that pits old timers against Millenials in this lakefront post-industrial era community.

Inner: The protagonist has almost no family left due to family estrangement and she is avoiding marriage as it will showcase she has “no one left” to give her away. The last time she spoke with one of her siblings, her sister said she reminded her of “Aunt Betty”—who currently is in federal prison for crimes of an unspecified nature. The protagonist feels bad for leaving her beau behind in New York, but she wants to fix her family first, starting with her brother. Can she reconcile with him after so many years of no contact? Upon arriving in Milwaukee, she is excited to meet up with him, only to be devastated when he stands her up at the appointed time. This incident, which could be a simple case of a schedule conflict or sudden illness, sends her into a shame spiral and off on a reckless car chase over the treacherous Hoan Bridge in the Milwaukee fog in order to follow a false lead as to where he might be “hiding out.”

Her ambivalence towards marriage grows bigger once she sets eyes on the brew master she is supposed to be spying on. This guy’s business card was at the table where she was supposed to meet her brother. “Can’t do this,” it says on the back. On the front, a logo for the brewery up the street and a picture of one seriously handsome, tattooed hops wrangler. She has to get close to him to find out where her brother is: problem is, she gets a little too close. Now she has really jeopardized her marriage prospects.

Setting: A noisy train station in Vienna. Flashback scene between the protagonist and her brother while they are traveling abroad years ago…

A makeshift Crossfit gym. Dark, with clanging weights, the thud of medicine balls getting tossed around. Old blue mats on the floor. Smelly hallways and grimy, caffeinated, fit people. The protagonist is angrily working out, elbow to elbow with the antagonist (doesn’t know this) as she blows off stress, remembering the day before…

A smooth and relaxing coffee shop where she waits for but does not meet with her brother…

A car chase atop the Hoan Bridge…

The grocery store the inner city where the antagonist works, in the deli with knives, carvers, sharpeners, vats of ingredients that could be tampered with…irritating customers asking for sandwiches and homemade salads…a back wall of local craft beer…an office with a computer he retreats to on breaks…

A spring beer festival in Milwaukee, a gray and grimy industrial street, mud sucking at your boots as you walk along sidewalks flanked with melting snow drifts to get inside. The interior of the building is bright and airy, convivial, sterile-looking. Smart graphics and signs on the walls. Mostly Millenials with beards and flannels inside.

An old month-to-month rental place where the protagonist stays. The decor is picked out by the previous tenant—Ikea all the way…

An old-fashioned Polish restaurant. Eastern European style, flashing back to places the protagonist and her brother visited while touring around Europe so many years ago…

The bedroom of the brew master…

Nighttime in an old and glorious Catholic church, built by Polish immigrants at the turn of the century to resemble St. Peters Basilica…

A brewery behind-the-scenes: a large, cavernous factory with glass walls and shiny copper equipment inside, brightly lit with clean hallways and bathrooms for the public. A swank tasting room decorated by the hottest interior designer in Chicago. And connected to a top-tier restaurant that serves fancy food to people accustomed to world travel…

Milwaukee’s County Stadium baseball venue and the bowels of the lower level, out into the car-jammed parking lot dashing through throngs of tailgaiting Midwestern ball fans…

O’Hare Airport drop-off lane during rush time…

A frightening walk in a dark alley in a small transitional suburb south of the big city…

The marina at South Shore Boats along Lake Michigan…

Europe, Vienna…

Then Paris, the Latin Quarter, during flood season…

Finally, Marseille in the bright sunshine…or maybe New York to end.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#41 Post by RHONDAMOORMANA5 » 16 Feb 2019, 07:24


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Re: Assignments - St Augustine Writer Conference Assignments : Novel Workshops

#42 Post by LizzyEngelmanA5 » 19 Feb 2019, 07:51

Algonkian Writer Conference Assignments

The Way of The Saints by Lizzy Engelman

1. Write a simple “story statement.”

Under the secrecy of an African-Cuban religion called Santeria, a girl discovers the surprising grace of magic found in the redemptive power of storytelling.

2. Sketch the antagonist force:

Isabel’s father, Rosendo is a brutal, embittered man, haunted by feelings of insecurity and inferiority. As a bastard son, he is sold to a spiritist who uses his body as a vessel to channel the dead. Later, his body and mind are hardened by a decade of backbreaking work in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico. Manipulative and jealous of his younger brother Alberto, Rosendo rapes Paula (Alberto’s love interest), and due to 1930’s Puerto Rican cultural propriety, she is forced to marry him. Rosendo feels powerless, so he extorts his domination over his wife Paula and their eight children. His youngest daughter Isabel resents him for the way he torments her mother Paula, and after a family argument on Christmas Eve, she and her father get into a physical altercation. There, he estranges himself from Isabel, leaving her feeling unlovable and enraged into adulthood.

After his death, Rosendo returns as Isabel’s Egun—a guiding ancestor spirit. The Egun Rosendo leads Isabel higher up the ranks in Santeria and demands she submit to the ultimate sacrificial ceremony called Asiento. Can she trust him? Will she forgive him? Where the past does not disappear with death, must she placate her father’s spirit to avert disaster?

3. Titles
Option 1: The Way of the Saints
Option 2: Initiating the Saints
Option 3: The Rules

4. Author Comparison

Like Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, this novel explores how religious and superstitious narratives, along with over five hundred years of colonization has shaped the Puerto Rican experience. The novel is an exploration of identity and self-determination from oppressive regimes, hungry spirits, and dominating mothers. It uncovers how the natural desire for security and love can sometimes shift into the unhealthy, shadowy places of consciousness, but it also explores the surprising grace of magic found in words and the redemptive power of the stories we tell ourselves.

Like Julia Alvarez’s In The Time of The Butterflies, which is set in the Dominican Republic, the historical details of Puerto Rico’s colonization are hidden in the overarching story of my novel. There is a seamless blend of fact and fiction, yet history is the undercurrent and backbone of the work. Especially after Hurricane Maria, The Way of the Saints addresses the oppressive and manipulative relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico, and it challenges the old narratives of Puerto Rican history. With the emerging interest in ancient spiritual practices in popular culture, it asks the much-needed questions about the fine line between control and surrender, power and dominance—which are also themes in The Time of the Butterflies. Similarly, I crafted my novel using multiple points-of-view. While Alvarez writes through the lens of four sister, I tell my story from the lens of three generations of Puerto Rican women: Paula, Isabel, and Lizzy.

It is a Puerto Rican female Breaking Bad in the metaphysical realm meets the dark, quirky family dynamics of Running With Scissors.

5. Conflict Line
Desperate to have a child and uncover the origins of a family curse, Isabel begins an unquenchable quest for power and is initiated into the secret African-Cuban religion called Santeria. As she rises in the ranks toward high priestess, she gains material wealth and clairvoyance, but risks losing her own mental clarity and the relationships she cherishes most.

6. Inner Conflict
Pressured by her Egun Rosendo, a guiding ancestor spirit, Isabel sets out to become a Santera priestess. She fights to maintain power while preserving her sense of identity. She finds herself alienated from her Christian mother Paula, divorced from her husband Jude, and rejected by her teenage daughter Lizzy. In a final attempt to fix the relationships she’s broken by acting as puppet master, Isabel travels illegally in 1989 to Cuba with her godparents and submits to the highly expensive and sacrificial ritual called asiento. Full of doubts and fears, she must choose between Santeria or her family relationships.

7. Setting:

I. Preface: The Eyes of Night
A. 1923 Puerto Rico. Rosendo squats in the shrubs outside Doña Elba’s hut at the edge of a mangrove swamp.

II. Part One: The Awakening
A. 1974 Lower East Side, NY projects. Isabel is pregnant and goes to Ernesto’s apartment to learn she is cursed. The setting is impoverished and dangerous.

B. La Tormenta: 1937 Palm Sunday. Fajardo, Puerto Rico—a small fishing town village. The scene takes place in the town center during a Palm Sunday parade and a tropical storm. There are strumming conquistadores and the political tension of Nationalists.

C. The Botanica: 1974 Bronx, New York. A metaphysical shop of herbs, spells, and icons. Ritual candles are piled high on the shelves. Herbs are vacuum-sealed in clear plastic. There are talismans, wood carvings, beaded charms, and relics.

D. The Slaughter House: 1974 Lower East Side, NY. A poultry market under the Williamsburg Bridge. Feather litters the floors. There is the sound of squawking chickens and the smell of blood stained aprons.

E. Libertad: 1937 Fajardo, Puerto Rico. Palm Sunday. Villagers waving large green palm fronds commemorate the Domingo de Ramos, the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. With palm branches in hand, congregants march all the way from the cathedral steps and through the plaza.

F. Ashes to Ashes: 1937 Ponce, Puerto Rico. La Borinqueña plays in the parade, then there is the rat-tat-tat of machine guns. The parade scatters, but they are surrounded by the police.

III. Part Two: The Lady Viking
A. The 79th Street Boat Basin, Manhattan. It’s July 4, 1974 and Isabel attends Jude’s summer party filled with bohemians and artists.

B. When the Moon Rages: Fajardo, Puerto Rico 1937. Doña Carmen’s hut after the Ponce Massacre.

C. The Watchers: City Island, NY 1982. Small fishing island in the Bronx.

D. The House of Saints: 1974. Lourdes’ home in the Bronx where Isabel submits to her first initiation ceremony.

E. Dust to Dust: Fajardo, Puerto Rico 1937. An abandoned tobacco curing barn where Paula is raped during a thunder storm.

F. Man of War: Daytona Beach, Fl 1982. Atlantic Ocean, Spring Break.

G. Signs and Wonders: 1974 New York. Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church for Rosendo’s funeral service. Also the estate house in City Island. The quaint main street is decorated for Christmas, shaded by elms and dotted with antique shops and seafood restaurants.

H. Golpe de Sangre: 1937 Puerto Rico during a cock fight. Paula stands ringside, assessing the bloody birds, when she sees Rosendo through a cloud of tobacco smoke.

I. Raw: St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 1985. Poolside at the waterfront hotel.

J. Flesh and Blood: City Island, NY 1980.

IV. Part Three
A. Juggernaut: San Juan, Puerto Rico 1950. Nationalist uprising. The carpetas, the secret police dossiers record the personal lives of teachers, professors, journalists, and businessmen suspected of supporting Puerto Rican independence.

B. The Mothership: City Island, 1986. Christmas morning. Isabel is depressed and refuses to get out of bed.

C. Loaded: City Island, NY 1986.

D. The Lamb: San Juan, Puerto Rico 1950. The National Guard invades Puerto Rico after the uprising. Two cities are bombed.

E. The Mindreader: Fajardo, Puerto Rico 1987. Lizzy is in the car with her driver and the mindreader as they drive her to her English private academy.

V. Part Four
A. The Bata Drums: Bronx, 1987. Secret drumming ceremony in a small Bronx apartment.

B. Pitt: Lower East Side, NY. Tenement apartments in the 1950’s.

C. Resistance: 1951-1969 Lower East Side, Manhattan tenements.

D. Making the Saint: 1989. Havana, Cuba. Roads peppered with 1950s sedans and Russian Ladas. Old Havana’s weathered buildings crumbling on the inside and painted in pastel shades. Posters of young Castro. Bicycle taxis and boys playing soccer on the streets. The elaborate Asiento ceremony is conducted in a humble living room.

E. The Dragons: 1989 Daytona Beach, Bike Week. A quirky wedding ceremony in a biker charismatic church.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#43 Post by ChristaHaynesA5 » 21 Feb 2019, 01:58

Act of Story Statement

Reunite and ascend. (This would be the thematic element of the series.)

When the heavens tore in two, so did countless spirits. These baqa-naphesh (torn breath of life) spend lifetimes on earth trying to find each other- reuniting on earth is the only way to come back into eternity together and ascend, to stop the cycle of life and death and afterlife. The problem is, the heavenly division created yin and yang, dark and light, spirit and shadow. When the baqa-naphesh recognize each other in their current incarnations, mayhem often ensues as the same powerful force that brings them together also always pushes them apart. Imagine, then, that heaven isn’t what you think it is, and one of these souls begins to manipulate the respective laws of life and death in an effort to win?

How much impact does each choice we make have on our eternity? What happens when you spend lifetimes trying to save someone who doesn’t deserve it because that’s what you must do in order to save yourself? If you could give yourself an otherworldly edge, would you?


In the first book of this series, the Antagonist is a master manipulator. He is the man women find impossible to refuse, the man who gets what he wants and is often in the right place at the right time which makes him seem lucky. He’s spent lifetimes honing an intuition that serves him well, but he functions in the shadows.
A well respected business-man, husband and father, he puts on a pretty good show. When he engages with the protagonist for the first time, you won’t even know he’s the bad guy. He develops an obsession with her that he doesn’t fully understand, and makes an attempt at maintaining his ‘perfect’ life while trying to keep her close. When the protagonist disappears, his carefully woven web of lies begins to come apart strand by strand.
The question is, who really manipulated whom? Where did the protagonist go, and what unseen forces are playing a role? The antagonist wants to have his cake and eat it too, but he learns a very valuable lesson in this lifetime.

In future lifetimes, the antagonist will likely be a similar archetype. There can be a lifetime where there are brothers, and the antagonist is the ganglier, nerdy, out of place brother that tries to be do the right thing all the time but ends up angry, cold and homicidal. In another lifetime, the antagonist will likely be an overbearing father.

Breakout Title

I’m having lots of trouble with this, as I see a series. So I don’t know but here are some of the titles that I have been tossing around.

We, The Living
Stealing Heaven


I’m unfamiliar with YA series that may be like mine, although there seems to be a lot of fantastical heaven/hell/vampires/werewolves/ghostlything kind of series available. This will not be YA. The antagonist in each book of each series will be extremely dark and tackle adult topics including perhaps things like being a politician and leading a cult to pedophilia and rape and murder. The protagonist will always be faced with decisions to try to “save” the antagonist, no matter how evil or awful they are. In order for the protagonist to succeed, she (I say that just because I’ve decided the protagonist will always be a feminine energy even though she may not always be a female character.) will have to find redemption for the antagonist.
That said, I found similar stories in Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (I haven’t read this yet but watched the movie and read the wiki) in terms of a sort of over-arching connection of worlds and time. Every Day by David Levithan was a beautiful book that I loved, which I find a similarity to in the idea that a “soul” can be in any “body”, and the decisions the soul makes have impact. That is YA though and I don’t think I fit the YA genre as once again, the conflict will be on a much more adult level. Another comparable would be This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti although I don’t think I fit into Christian fiction either as I most definitely won’t be following typical christian beliefs regarding heaven and hell and the way it all works, but the similarity lies in the veil between the worlds. Lastly, I thought of The Host by Stephanie Myer because it has a bit of a similar pitch in that souls are separate from bodies. In the case of my stories, though, the souls are constantly searching for their counterpart, the soul they were torn from during a cataclysmic event when heaven divided.

Conflict Line

A married man with a perfect image and an easy life becomes obsessed with the wife of an acquaintance. He begins to believe that his true purpose in life is to save her from her demons, but when she disappears, his perfect world collapses.

Two More Levels

My protagonist was born in an ambulance, to a rookie EMT who’s been on the job just a few days. Her mother was exiting a subway tunnel when a purse-snatcher ran up from behind her, grabbed her bag and knocked her off balance, sending her back down the dangerously steep flight of stairs. A witness pursued the man for a few blocks but to no avail, and other witnesses ran to the aid of the woman. By the time she was in the ambulance, she was unresponsive and the young medic made the decision to deliver the baby before it died as well, performing a grotesque and somewhat rudimentary c-section. Once at the hospital, the dead mother is without identification and the baby is alone in the world.
Chicago detectives spend days trying to find the woman’s purse, the man who stole it, or any information pertaining to the incident. They run news stories asking for anyone who has a pregnant friend or neighbor whom they have not seen or heard from to come forward. No one does.
The baby gets adopted by a family, a seemingly bright turn of events for child with a traumatic start, but as soon as she can speak she begins to tell people things that make them uneasy. She sees things. Hears things. Knows things. Her church-going God-fearing family begins to believe she has a mental illness and she starts taking medication that soothes her ‘disturbances’.
She gets through her adolescent and teen years unremarkably, goes to college and gets married. She eventually desires children of her own and in secrecy and against the advice of her doctor and family, discontinues the medication she’s been on all her life. Again, she begins to have visions. She wants to confide in her husband about it, but she somehow knows that bringing it up will make her sound crazy.
Eventually, she has an encounter with a psychic and begins to understand that her experiences are not ‘disturbances’ and that the things she has seen and encountered and the messages she has received are in fact a connection to another world, a world that exists for all of us.
When she meets the antagonist, she is experiencing isolation and beginning to understand just how different she is from everyone else. The antagonist becomes her friend, confidant, and he has the resources to help her locate information about her birth parents, a deep desire that was always brewing beneath the surface for her.
They become close, and as she develops feelings for him, she is simultaneously pulling away from her husband; they cannot have a conversation without tension and strain, and she is beginning to harbor feelings of guilt and shame, knowing that she has become a dirty little secret for the antagonist. It excited her though, too, and he convinces her that he is for her. She begins to understand the epic consequences of an affair with this man, and she begins having visions that devastate her. This man is not who she thinks he is. Her husband is not who she thought he was either. And come to think of it, she’s not who she always thought she was either….

My protagonist’s soul’s name is Selenne. Selenne has gotten tired of the wash-rinse-repeat cycle of eternity for ripped-apart souls. She’s going to explain to you that heaven isn’t the way you learned about it in Sunday school and Uncarnates- the pronoun of a soul who is hanging out on the heaven side of things- aren’t supposed to influence Incarnates. Most humans, unless you’re a little new-age, don’t know that when they’re sleeping, especially when they’re dreaming, they are Uncarnated. Any time you’re not fully in your body, anchored by ego and bound by your mind, you’re Uncarnated.
There aren’t really any rules in heaven. There are more like, outcomes. Every decision an Incarnate makes helps the Uncarnate version of them ascend towards a permanent residence in the highest penthouses of heaven, where they can stop having to incarnate (like Jesus) or they descend towards the shadow side of heaven where dark things tend to just get darker; and some Uncarnates are happy to be dark for eternity. These are the things humans refer to as Demons, dark entities and usually the devil. And the devil isn’t really the devil, it is merely God’s shadow. The darkest, furthest, most opposite of all that is good, because in order for there to be pure good, there must be pure evil. Yin and yang. Dark and light. There would be no balance any other way.
So when during the great creation of earth and it’s heaven, God separated like a cell separates during its first division to become life. That separation meant that the legion of souls in God’s spark of creation were torn at the seams as well, separated from one another as spiritual life took form the same way physical life did; by dividing and replicating itself over and over again into the expansion that is the universe. Light was separated from dark, land was separated from water, earth was separated from sky, and God’s light and shadow separated as well. They encompassed the earth in stripe-like swirl, touching the the earth and extending through the heavens at the same time. And the souls tore apart followed suit; one half clung to the light while the other clung to the dark. Not all souls were subject to this, just the oldest ones, the souls who were with God and in God during the inconceivable time before creation. The separation gave way to replication, and new souls emerge as time and consciousness continue to expand. Single souls, though, they have it a little easier even though they’re more annoying. And as human kind became human kind, Uncarnates were forced to choose lives on earth in hopes that they could find the other half of their soul and bring it back to heaven with them. The tricky thing about being Uncarnated, though, is that the actions you take while Incarnated directly effect your Ascencion. Single souls sometimes ascend or descend rapidly; they learn their lessons quickly and advance easily through time toward their eternity. But for the baqa-naphesh, they have to find each other and unite in their earthly life in order to become a single soul that can do the same.
Selenne orchestrated her birth into the world, against the advice of spiritual mentors. Because the protagonist was born of an already-dead mother, she did not experience the ‘passage’ through spirit world into the earthly world, a process in which the mother’s spirit turns off the access to heaven. In a normal birth, the mother spirits gets to choose how much or how in tune the new child will be with their Uncarnate self. Mothers are the birthplace of Karma on earth and can positively or negatively affect their offspring’s connection to heaven.
In Selenne’s case, she basically murdered her own mother before she was born so that she can have full access to heaven. She wants to remember all of her lifetimes and the things she needs to remember about the antagonist in order to help him. So the closer the protagonist gets to him, the more Selenne believes she is finally winning. That she found him and they are on a path together. Until she discovers his true motives, his true self, and she has to make a decision about how to save him from himself in order to save them both.


Some of this is described above, as it’s imperative to understand where Selenne is from in order to understand the conflict.

The story is going to be told from Selenne’s point of view in heaven and the protagonist’s view on earth. The P and A meet at a meeting, a convention for the company that the A and her husband both work for. They have an epic conversation, then through a series of weird events they keep running into each other… a few months after they first meet, he’s on a plane she gets on in Chicago heading to New York. They decide to meet for dinner and that’s the first time she feels like there’s real trouble brewing. He becomes more obsessed and the reader will actually uncover that their ‘chance’ encounters haven’t been so much by chance. She lives in Chicago and the dialogue between her and the antagonist takes part mostly through text, email and FaceTime conversations.

When protagonist disappears, the story will be told from the antagonist’s point of view.

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Re: Assignments - French Q and St. A Novel Workshops

#44 Post by JOANNECLEAVERA5 » 28 Feb 2019, 07:46

I thought i posted this but now can't find it. Apologies for clogging the system with an apparent duplicate.

Story statement
Corporate feminism collides with male entitlement.

A feminist public relations staffer must choose between her values and her career when a client demands that she promote a project that awards men for being men.

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.

In “The Best Places to Work for Men,” the antagonist initially appears to be the demanding client, Jack, and his ludicrous expectations for easy, slavering media coverage and accolades. Initially, Jack’s unreasonable expectation is to be ‘placed’ on a ‘Forty Under Forty” list of business achievers, without divulging his age. When he impetuously launches the Best Places to Work for Men list, his motivation of winning easy awards starts to unravel even as his public commitment to the project is unwavering. In the end, Jack has his own epiphany: maybe cheap accolades aren’t worth the blue ribbons they’re printed on. He is instrumental in the decision of the protagonist, Jess, to quit her job and start her own firm.

The real antagonist is the PR firm boss, Kelly. She postures as an uber mentor/career coach/bossbabe, but in truth uses all her clients and staff simply to achieve her own goals. She desperately wants to be accepted by the reigning ‘mean girls’ of the business community (that’s how we feel empathy for her) but in every instance, she runs over all in her way to drive her own success. The layered forces arrayed against the protagonist, Jess, peel back the complexities of gender politics at work, which boil down to the fundamental question: who is really on your side at work?

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

“The Best Places to Work for Men”
Trophy Life
A Special Place in Hell


- 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?

Comparable #1: The Devil Wears Prada
It’s time for a fresh take on the time-honored formula of the neophyte mentored by a treacherous elder. “The Devil Wears Prada” won hearts and dollars by having the protagonist (Andy) overcome ever-higher stakes to ingratiate herself with her unreasonable boss (Miranda). The setting of the presumably glamourous world of fashion publishing added intrigue and great locations. However, it has been 16 years since Devil was published in 2003 and a lot has changed. Women are expected to advocate for eachother, especially on once-politically-taboo topics like pay equity and sexual harassment. Diversity is ascendant. Yet, the business world is still run by men, to the intense annoyance of advocates and quiet anger of many women, who have headaches from hitting the glass ceiling. Amidst these crosscurrents of politically correct claims, charges, countercharges, unreliable human resources departments and self-important bosses, it is impossible to know who is truly on your side. If you are a woman, you cannot take it for granted that other women are on your side. Allies come from unexpected places and in unexpected forms. It’s the person who understands you and your goals, and who is willing to take a risk on you, who is truly on your side. That is what the protagonist of The Best Places to Work for Men learns.

Comparable #2: Mean Girls. But that’s a movie. The Best Places to Work for Men is based on original research conducted by the author, over 20 years, of women’s workplace ambitions and frustrations. In the same way, Tina Fey was inspired by Queen Bees & Wanna Bes, by Rosalind Wiseman, to create a narrative from the sociological observations of that book. The Best Places to Work for Men likewise translates the complex and contradictory trends, expectations and cultures of today’s workplace into a narrative that challenges the protagonists’ assumptions about loyalty.

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

A feminist public relations staffer must choose between her values and her career when a client and her boss demand that she promote a project that awards men for being men.

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

--Career aspirations vs. daily reality of public relations
--Feminist belief in “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” (Madeline Albright) vs requirement to make actual money in ‘the real world’
-- Expectation that your boss is on your side because, um, we’re all in tis together…right?
-- Who you hope you are vs. who your actions say you are

I was hired for the cutting-edge purpose of spinning technical advancements in sausage casings. Cured meats are the congealed lifeblood of Midwestern food processing and near and dear to the cholesterol-clogged hearts of its residents. There was nothing worse than underestimating everything wurst.
Wisconsin had long squatted on the throne of sausage technology innovation, but one intrepid Michigan company dared to hopscotch ahead with a new method for producing the thin casing that held ground meat and fillers and spices into that unique intestinal shape as it cured and cooked.
For two years, casings in all their glory filled my professional horizon.
I knew I could do more, but I had to prove it to Kelly.
My big chance had just landed in my lap.
Well, to be accurate, it had just splatted in my face.
Jack’s impulsive outburst could be my stepping-stone.
Luciana complained all the time about the Gazette’s endless string of minor-league awards and accompanying breakfasts and lunches.
According to her, the events were so rote they practically ran themselves. And according to her, cheesy awards were the only thing keeping the Gazette afloat – now that people got news for free online and nobody wanted to pay for a paper printed on paper.
If the Gazette did it, how hard could it be?
I managed to get into the office without attracting Kelly’s attention and got to my desk before she landed in my office like an eight-year-old at a birthday party swinging a broomstick at a piñata.
“What happened? I need to hear it from you,” she demanded. She pulled my one guest chair right in front of my desk, blocking the door. My dozen co-workers gathered in the hall behind her, blocking the light.
“The diversity guy had a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Rushmore,” I began. Nobody laughed. “He was trying I guess to make a point about being fair to everyone, even men.”
“Oh, God,” said one of my coworkers from the hall. I couldn’t tell who, they were all backlight by he overhead lights, a choir of medieval saints with cheap- -perm halos.
“I know, right?” I said. “But Jack, my – our- client, got swept away in the moment. He was trying to play devil’s advocate.”
“Jack likes to do that,” said Rose. “I was two years behind him in high school. That’s Jack. Playing to the audience, right?”
At least someone understood.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes, that’s it exactly. Everything was in such an uproar that they’d listen to anybody but the trainer. Anyway, long story short, Jack burst out with this insane idea of launching a “Best places to Work for Men” competition.”
“A list? Like what the Gazette sponsors?” asked someone in the hall.
“I guess so,” I said. “But of course it’s ridiculous. It won’t happen.”
“It’s too weird,” said someone else from the hall.
“Also, betraying the sisterhood,” said someone else in the hall.
“To hell with the sisterhood,” said Kelly. “This is a gold mine. “Why would you try to shut this down? Have you learned nothing?”
“What do you mean?” I stalled. If I answered wrong, Kelly might take back my first-ever client: Jack’s company, a cardboard box manufacturer called Out of the Box. If I lost this account it could be months before I got another shot at managing an account. But if I answered right…there was no chance I would answer right. There was no right answer.
“I know it’s politically incorrect,” Kelly said. “But that’s what’s so great about this. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Why shouldn’t we look at what’s good for men in the workplace?”

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.

Location: a small town in the northeast quadrant of the lower peninsula of Michigan. It’s the base of the index finger on ‘the mitten.’ It’s actually Saginaw/Midland but don’t tell anybody.

Big enough to support a diversified economy and to have pretensions of offering the magic mix of small-town culture with big-city opportunities…and clueless and self-absorbed enough to offer neither. The small downtown tries to be historic but only succeeds in being dated, with dusty facades occupied by too many law offices and resale shops.

The public relations firm occupies the second story of a strip mall. It’s cheap space. The street level is occupied by a beauty supply shop, a law office, a vitamin store and a dentist’s office.

The PR firm space is cramped, except for the office of Kelly, the owner. Her office has a shelf of acrylic ‘tombstones’ for low-level PR awards.

The opening scene, of a diversity training gone badly awry, is in a generic community center multipurpose room.

Jess’s office is interior, lined with piles of notes and with one spindly plastic chair for visitors.

The office of Austin, a supporting character and an intern, faces the street. He furnishes it with nice furniture appropriated from the supply room.

Jack, the client and owner of Out of the Box, occupies a modern office and manufacturing facility, complete with design room.

Jack’s sister/mother, Amy, both runs a metal fabrication plant and is a renowned sculptor/mobile artist. The plant and her studio are bright, modern, and in a nearly secret location on the outskirts of town.

Jess’ apartment is furnished in early Goodwill.

Jess and her friends meet at various diners and restaurants.

The ShEOs, a women’s networking group, hold a meeting at which they humiliate Kelly, in a shiny, window-lined conference room.

The great showdown between Kelly and the ringleader of the ShEOs is held at a local funeral home. The funeral home offers a free multipurpose room so the local business boosters meet there.

I think I need an injection of the purported glamour of the PR industry early on, at which Jess glimpses a vision of the glories of PR success and where Kelly preens for another award. Detroit is far from the setting for such a grand event; I think Chicago or potentially a ritzy resort – the American Club in Kohler, WI? If so then I can write off a research trip. But probably a city would best convey the glittering ironies of such a hollow profession.

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