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Sharon Rodriguez

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Orange Park, Florida
  • Interests
    Interested in writing collaboration and book discussions/book clubs if anyone else is up for that:)
    Other than writing and reading, I enjoy spending time with my daughters - my oldest graduated from NYU last year!
    I also enjoy live music, trying new restaurants, traveling, hiking, anything on the water, Pilates, and rescuing animals.

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  • About Me
    Writer, poet,
    former classroom English teacher,
    working on my first novel.
    I'm looking forward to meeting fellow writers at the pitch conference and would love to connect!
    Feel free to connect here, on Instagram, and Facebook and I will follow you back.
    My Instagram is https://instagram.com/sharon_scally_rodriguez and my Facebook is below.
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  1. Your writing pulled me in - the image of the seven women in the beginning is powerful. I'm curious to know more about Itzel - I enjoyed your characterization of her. Curious about how the two timelines connect:)
  2. I love your opening sentence and opening paragraph as well as your voice. Interested to know more!
  3. You did such a good job integrating the dialogue as well as his thoughts into the scene - while also making it easy for me to discern which was which. Your description was immersive - I could see, smell, feel everything that was happening around him. So good!
  4. Thank you so much! I really do appreciate the feedback. I love your phrase "cocktail of hopeful revenge and freedom!" Kate definitely needs that!
  5. 1996 Like many young couples without kids, there was a part of their house that was hardly ever used. The hallway leading to the rooms that would eventually hold children, one room was currently the catch-all and the other was supposed to be an office but sat dusty and silent since the couch and kitchen table had better natural lighting from the living room windows. Their future, their hopes that somehow the laughter of children on this side of the house would one day heal them and make this a home, lay here. So this hallway was an odd place for them to be that night. Leo was holding Kate by her throat up against the wall. She was taller than usual, the force of his hand stretching her thin neck long and upward. Feeling her feet begin to lift slightly off the floor, she struggled to take a breath. Kate lived daily trying not to make Leo mad, but no matter how good she was, it was never good enough. Teetering her life on eggshells for the two years of her marriage had aged her past twenty-four, stretched her mind thin. Little sounds startled her. Her frail body shook from anticipation of her missteps that would set him off. She never knew what the catalyst would be. Maybe she wouldn’t have dinner ready on time or she would accidentally wear a skirt that was too tight. She must want other men to look at her he would jab and then demand that she throw out the skirt. This suffocating lifestyle wasn’t new, she had been born into a life of rules, her mom being baptized into the church when she was pregnant with Kate. But this wasn’t just any church. Leo and Kate had both grown up in the same religion with men preaching these “standards,” yelling, red-faced about impending hell for violators. Kate’s fear of hell had been so pounded into her as a child that every single time she blew out her candles for a birthday wish, she had wished that she and her family could make it into heaven. Not once had she ever wasted a childhood wish on anything less than escaping the flames of hell. She lived in constant fear of slipping up and had always worked to be good enough for her dad, her pastor, her husband, and even God himself. Something as banal as buying powder had been her error one day, so trivial but not to Leo. Just the simple desire to look attractive for her husband, like models and other women she had seen Leo notice in contrast to Kate’s obediently bare face. Leo realized Kate had purchased a compact to powder her nose even though he had forbidden her to wear makeup, all his rules strictly abiding with the church’s and oftentimes going even further. Outside of Blockbuster, Kate climbed back into the car after their indulgence of renting and returning a video and Leo was holding the compact tight-fisted. He must have searched her purse. If she could get him to smile or laugh, she could disarm him sometimes, but he was already too far gone. His creased brow, dark eyes accusing her of deceit, betrayal for wanting to blot the shine from her nose. “This is makeup.” “It doesn’t have any color, it - it just takes the shine off. A lot of women at the church have - they, they use same thing,” she could hear the worry in her voice. “And what section of the store did you buy it in?” She was running out of time to diffuse the escalation. “I- I don’t have to wear it, I can just use it for special occasions maybe.” “What section, Kate?” “The makeup section, but it’s not really makeup.” Silence. Leo opened the car door and hefted himself out, taking the compact and setting it on the hood of the car next to theirs. The act suggested his anger was being stifled, his movements deliberate. She dared not say a thing. Throwing himself into the driver’s seat and slamming the door, he looked at her, his brown eyes searching her for any trace of rebellion. “Makeup makes you look like a clown,” he sneered. As he backed the car out, she glimpsed her compact sitting displayed for everyone to see, openly mocking her inability to challenge him. Watching the round, mirrored case getting smaller in her vision, she knew she was being pulled away from one more little piece of herself. They rode home in total silence. Kate was afraid to breathe lest it exacerbate his mood and Leo was punishing her betrayal with his favorite tool, the thick, heavy curtain he was able to bring down between them. That night it didn’t go any further than the silence, but many nights it was far worse. It was never a fight because that would take two people. Leo got mad and Kate appeased, acquiesced. And before his anger arrived, she did everything possible to avoid it. The anger was growing, consuming their house as it became more and more impossible to avoid his triggers. Each time, the cycle was worse, bigger, darker, sucking her deeper into a chasm that often ended with her crying in a heap on the bathroom floor begging God for help, but none ever came.
  6. Story Statement: Save herself and her children from her abusive husband and the cult. Antagonist: Leo follows classic abusive cycles so he’s not horrible to Kate everyday, just some days. He didn’t start out cruel, he slowly inched his way there. Like Kate, he was raised in the cult with oppressive rules and overbearing religion, but the cult plots a very different course for men and women. Leo takes his role as the man of the house to the extreme, justified by their church and his family upbringing. He’s quick to take any disagreement from women as disrespect to his authority. He’s threatened by the very thing that attracted him to Kate in the beginning, her intelligence. He demands her complete subservience. He is emotionally, verbally, and sexually abusive to her, outright telling Kate that he’s not dumb enough to do anything that leaves marks. Divorce is forbidden by their church, so Kate just lives for the good days, telling herself that he’s a good dad and provider, but as their daughters hit their teen years, Leo rules them cruelly and with ridiculous expectations. When he’s mad, he can go for days, weeks, and even months without talking to anyone else in the house. He’s leaving unseen marks on all of them. Title: Backslider Genre: Women’s Fiction, Upmarket Fiction, Autofiction Comparables: God Spare the Girls by Kelsey Mckinney Revival Season by Monica West Maid by Stephanie Land The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin Logline/Hook: After being born, raised, and married into a cult, Kate divorces her abusive husband and walks away from the cult. Saving herself and her daughters means losing everyone they know and swinging on a pendulum from the most restrictive lifestyle into moral chaos. A second coming of age - with no boundaries for the first time in her life, she could go over the edge. Inner Conflict: Kate generally doesn’t feel good enough. She was never validated by her father. He never told her he loved her, and he was hard on her. She also battles with self-harm, an eating disorder, and being emotionally overexcitable (from being a gifted adult - she experiences higher highs and lower lows and tends to cry too easily). Much of Kate’s inner thoughts center around leaving the cult and experiencing “firsts” that most people would have experienced in early life. She has never cut her hair, worn makeup, had her ears pierced, been drunk, had sex with anyone but her husband, and more. She’s experiencing all these firsts in her forties. Secondary/Social Conflict: Kate desperately wants to be rescued by a man and tries to find another man after leaving Leo, unsuccessfully. Since she can’t find a serious relationship, she resorts to using men for money to support her family. She eventually realizes that she must save herself and that the women in her life have brought more salvation than any religion or man. Because she and her daughters have lost everyone they know from leaving the cult - all friends and family - she goes on an ancestry website to try to find more family and uncovers something she was never meant to know. Setting: Northeast Florida starting in 1996 - The Westside, Orange Park, the beaches - a multicultural town with rich and poor. Kate longs to be rich but identifies with the poor. Money is always an issue for Leo and Kate. The cult church is full of poor people that cling to the promise of an afterlife. When she leaves Leo, she moves from a smaller house on the poorer Westside of Jacksonville to Orange Park (only slightly better) but is always longing to live at the beach (the nicest area of town). She meets men in the second part of the novel that live out at the beach but are too cheap to tip well. The setting is used for character development and some statement on socioeconomic status not being guaranteed to make someone a better person.
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