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    Commercial writer from Chicago, now retired and writing for myself

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  1. The Old Oak Tree Spring 1754 GLENEALY, IRELAND—The boy paid no mind to the grit and stones that cut into the soft flesh of his bare feet. He was all consumed by the rumors, if true, he was going to kill that son-of-a-bitch Emmet Rafferty. The shallow brook defined the trail. Littered with weather-smooth stones, it meandered through the thick forest like a glistening ribbon. Oisin Lambert hung to the shadows of its edge. The mud of the bank was black and soft, his bare heels sunk like spoons into pudding. Talk was his older sister, Muirne, be occupying the rake Rafferty. The boy of just twelve years pushed strands of shoulder-length blond hair behind his small, white ears. He was short for his age, teased by town folks and clan alike that he carried clurichaun blood in his veins. In the fading light of dusk, he could make out two figures humping against a huge oak. He squinted. A waxing gibbous moon rose early to dance on the branches of the forest beyond the creek. In its blue light, Oisin watched as Rafferty’s knees separated Muirne’s legs, lifting her with every thrust. She gasped, her voice hoarse and gravelly. Oisin stared, he felt his man-hood shift as he watched her round breast rise and fall. Oisin bit his lip as a distraction. He couldn’t fathom his sister’s betrayal of Oakley Riagáin. Rafferty had no station; Oakley was a clan chief. As he watched her head twist from side-to-side, their eyes met. She visibly choked back a scream. Muirne panicked, Emmet released her and she him. Oisin wanted to caponize the violator; prove he was a man. He would be a legend in the clan. The boy who avenged the clan chief, the voices in his head echoed. Destiny was not in folklore or songs. It was standing before him trying to button his breeches. Oisin pulled himself from the thorns and charged his sister’s lover. * * * * Emmet barely had time to pull up his breeches when Oisin came upon him with a knife at arm’s length. The rake stepped aside the blade, causing Oisin to stop short of stabbing Muirne in her liver. The boy paused his eyes riveted to her plump, breasts. Emmet shoved Oisin knocking him to the tall grass and roots of the oak. “You have shamed the clan!” Oisin accused his sister. “Cover yourself, whore.” The boy struggled to get up as Muirne pulled on her chemise and brushed down her petticoats. Emmet pulled on his waistcoat keeping an eye on the short blade glinting in the moonlight. “Run and beg forgiveness for your tryst,” Oisin demanded in as near a strong voice as he could muster. Muirne looked at Emmet before dashing between the two adversaries. “Don’t a-go hurtin’ me Emmet, brother,” she called over her shoulder as she escaped toward the village. “Oh, shist,” Oisin muttered across dry lips. “Never mind what she says, Rafferty, I mean to take your bollocks for a prize to Oakley Riagáin for what you done to his betrothed.” Oisin jabbed at Emmet. “Son-of-a-bitch,” Emmet cried, backing away. Little Oisin was nothing more than an imp. To die at the hands of such would be an embarrassment. Oisin charged. Emmet grabbed his wrist wrestling the boy to the ground. But he was stronger than he appeared and quickly had the upper hand, the knife only inches from Emmet’s throat. Frantically, Emmet searched for a weapon while holding off Oisin. He landed on a melon-size rock and brought it hard into Oisin’s temple. The boy, dazed, fell from his attack, but refused to surrender the blade. Emmet brought the rock down again crushing the boy’s skull. The knife slipped from the young hand. “Son-of-a-bitch,” Emmet panted. He looked down at the mauled face of young Oisin. “Shit…” He leapt off the body, the rock still in his hand. He threw it into the creek. With a stick, he prodded the still body. “Shit.” Emmet looked down the trail, Muirne had disappeared into the depths of dusk. He knelt beside Oisin. “You bastard. Son-of-a-bitch.” Emmet grabbed the boy’s wrist and dragged him into the underbrush hoping to hide the killing. He looked around in the fading light. He picked up the knife and threw it in the creek. He would never be able to explain this. Oakley and Oisin’s older brother, Faolan, would be certain to seek retribution. Panting, he leaned against the old oak. He needed to think. He had intended to woo Muirne with the gold buckles he’d found in the shop the night before. He checked his pocket; they were still in his waistcoat. Emmet sighed, thank god his brother was such a simple soul. He probably hadn’t even noticed they were missing. If he could get back to the shop, he could take whatever coin Caleb may have saved. He prayed it would be enough for passage to Scotland or anywhere away from Glenealy. Of course, he’d have to convince Muirne to run away with him. He thought he heard a cough from the brush. Emmet turned and began running toward Glenealy. For Emmet, running seemed to solve everything.
  2. New York Pitch Assignments - March 2022—assignments 1. Story statement: Caleb Rafferty is adrift amid a war. Forced into the British army in 1754, he finds himself in the backwoods of the American colonies fighting for his life. His only ambition is to survive the war and reunite with the woman he loves, Daireann Dwyer. SIMPLER: Caleb Rafferty is determined to survive a brutal war and to rescue the woman he loves. 2. The antagonist: Throughout the story, as in life, there are many obstacles that take the form of antagonists. The three most critical antagonists are: First, is the war and the inept leaders that seek to undermine Caleb Rafferty through various means. General Braddock is the most prominent. His unwillingness to conform to the frontier warfare will put Caleb directly in the path of an ambushing enemy. Second, is his own brother, Emmet. Emmet is a rake, the village playboy who seduces women, often by sneaking money from Caleb’s purse. He steals the pair of gold buckles Caleb made to make his intentions known to his sweetheart, Daireann Dwyer. Emmet uses the buckles to seduce the betrothed of the village clan chief, Oakley Riagáin. This sends the brothers and Daireann into a spiral that forces them to flee Ireland for the American colonies and into the teeth of the French & Indian War. Third, is Oakley Riagáin. Cuckold by Emmet, Oakley is horribly scarred by Emmet. He swears revenge on the brothers and in a twist of fate, ends up in the same regiment in the colonies. However, due to his aggression and attempt to kill Emmet, Oakley deserts the army before he can be hung and becomes a highwayman. 3. Breakout title: Crucible No Quarter Flint & Steel Savage Empires in the Wilderness 4. Comparables: Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose—Story of the regular soldier fighting for his life, never sure of what’s being asked but does his duty; it’s actual events (Male audience, history fanatics) Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann version)—It’s love story masquerading as a war story; how despite the odds, love conquers all. (Period piece, readers: male and female) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon—The immersion into a long forgotten period brought to life by following the day-to-day struggles; it’s also a love story (A love story in an historical setting appealing to both men and women) Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin—the sheer size of the conflict, the hand-to-hand combat, misery and cruelty of others (Male audience eager to hand over their imagination to a bygone era) Barkskin by Annie Proulx—the setting, deep in the forest of Pennsylvania, New York and Canada (Male: the rugged outdoors; the adventure and struggle—Women: the romance and strong female characters who thrive despite their place in society) 5. Logline: When two Irish brothers and the woman who loves them are chased from their home into a war on the colonial frontier, they discover that dying is the least of their fears. 6. Inner conflict: Caleb Rafferty is the younger brother to Emmet, yet most often plays the role of parent. It’s the ant and the grasshopper. Caleb works long hours as a cobbler to earn enough coin to provide food and materials. His brother, a rake, often pilfers from the till to pay for spirits at the pub, seduces women, gambles and roves like a man far above his station. When Emmet seduces the betrothed of the county clan chief, the brothers are forced to flee. Caleb resents having to join the British army and leave his beloved Glenealy, Ireland for the colonial frontier. He blames himself for not containing Emmet’s lustful nature, as well as Emmet for getting them in this mess. Secondary conflict: Caleb loves Daireann. He has since they were both children. She agrees to follow the brothers to America rather than remain alone in Ireland. Caleb is frequently frustrated by Emmet’s flirting with Dairie, but Emmet’s continued antics propel him into a forced marriage with her. Caleb is devastated. Now an unforgivable wedge separates Caleb from Emmet and Daireann. When Daireann is abducted by the Huron, Caleb blames Emmet driving the wedge deeper. 7. The setting: It’s a world lit only by candle light, seen solely through oil on canvas. The eighteenth century is an enigma to most people. A time when our ancestors struggled, migrated or eked out an existence. The burgeoning enlightenment was just taking hold in Europe. Old superstitions were giving way to science and methodology. The eighteenth century will be a leap forward for Europe. However in the dark forests of the untamed colonial frontier, Native Americans have lived by their own code and beliefs far different from the invading armies. This clash of cultures, weapons and tactics set in a primitive environment, where every shadow can harbor suffering and death, timorous legions of soldiers face-off as empires clash in the wilderness. We often forget about the struggles of those individuals. History is taught through the lens of the leaders. This is a story about the common people or vulgar class—those folks who have history happen to them. They live through events with little control of their situation, and in many cases die for a cause they were thrust into by unforeseen forces.
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