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    I'm a full-time environmental scientist in the water sector but I've been writing since I was in elementary school. I love all things fantasy, sci-fi, and animal POVs.

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  1. NY Write to Pitch was the first ever writing event I've participated in and all I can say is that it's serious. We got to hear real feedback from agents and editors, and Michael was always available for assistance on your pitch. The group was great and helps with networking--I just know there's going to be best-selling authors among us. All that said, I do wish I hadn't attended March 2023's pitch event. It was emphasized to have high stakes/high concept work for pitching, and my manuscript wasn't. I feel as though I should've been rejected at the application stage, and not taken on since it was pretty evident two days in that my work didn't fit what the agents and editors wanted. This was an expensive learning curve. Nonetheless, I appreciated the support I received from fellow writers who helped me persevere and remind me that my work is first and foremost for me and my audience, not a pub deal.
  2. Chapter 1. Opening scene introduces protagonist's narrative structure, setting, stakes, and antagonistic forces/themes. First Year—Autumn Semester 1 Does it hurt a dragon to be called an elephant? On the morning before my first day at the Imperial Academy, Amma told me to be as noble and strong as an elephant of N’daia. I told my mother that there were no elephants here in Oreka and that I was a dragon. Amma laughed as she held my arm, and that ended the conversation. Since Amma can’t move fast like me or Abba, we took our time walking through the pebbled grounds of the palace. Everything about the palace is bright and colorful: with brown and teal, obsidian black and pink, and ruby red and yellow all over the stone walls and shingled roofs. Every thirteen-year-old noble, Orekan or N’daian, attends for three years to learn and find their rightful place in the palace upon graduation. It’s said His Majesty the King kicks you out of the palace if you don’t. Palace life, as difficult as it can be, is all I know. I can’t imagine leaving. The thought alone is scary! I’m changing topics. Anyway. We made our way across the Rainbow Bridge that overlooked a winding river and stopped when we reached the academy’s red-arched gates. Amma smiled as she tucked in a strand of my inky black hair that had escaped the white silk scarf covering my head, similar to her own hijab. She and I had sat together all night discussing whether I should wear the hijab to classes. But as I stood in front of the gates that morning, having passed by other girls with their exposed hair and shiny hairpins, I felt like I stood out even more because of our decision. I want to fit in even though I’m not Orekan like they are. A few of them looked at us before raising their chins and turning away. That’s the opposite of fitting in. Amma and I glanced down at the list of classes in my hand: math, music, painting, and War and Diplomacy (I think my dear friend, Ceylon Bodhi is in this class, too!). As we contemplated whether to wander the academy grounds to take a peek at the classrooms, a Royal Guard approached, his eyes falling on the slip of paper I was holding. “Oh, you’re in the prodigy’s class?” the guard said, his eyebrow raised. Then in a lowered voice, he added, “That boy should be just a squire at his age, not a captain.” I tilted my head. “Uh, forget I said that. I didn’t say anything.” And he walked off quickly. Well, now I am going to remember. Amma and I looked at each other. I saw the tiredness in her eyes despite her smile and decided we should go home. Going to the Academy was practice for the real thing tomorrow. Abba is going to be away for work and Amma can’t walk like this every day. She told me there’s a pain in her body whenever she walks, and it started ever since I was born. Was her pain my fault? Amma has never said that, but I help her whenever she asks because I do think I’m a little to blame. And that’s why I’m writing in this diary– Amma asked me to. I have a lot of thoughts. They run in my head all the time and make me worry and I even mix up my words when I talk, too. I hate when that happens. When she gave this to me she said: “Sitara, if speaking to others is difficult, maybe writing things down will make it better.” I hope Amma is right. And I hope I do find a place in the palace to belong.
  3. 1. Story statement: Searching for an identity while dealing with ethnic and religious differences by writing a diary. 2. Antagonist: Fourth Prince Na-jin is a half-brother of the King of Oreka and is the personification of the struggles that Sitara goes through. He dislikes her for how different she is; she is not Orekan and is not Buddhist. She covers her hair and doesn’t eat their food. Fourth Prince Na-jin can never become King despite being the King’s brother since he has eight nephews. So he especially dislikes how Sitara’s family is close to the Queen of Oreka, with the potential to marry the Crown Imperial Prince, or even a Crown Prince of a different kingdom, and so he wants to remove Sitara from the palace. 3. Breakout titles: Lady of the Lotus OR Sitara, Lady of the Lotus 4. Comparison titles Ella Enchanted; Other Words For Home 5. Hook/Log line A first-generation princess pens a diary to deal with identity struggles on top of her first crush, bullies, making friends, and deciding her future at the palace. 6. Conflicts: Primary conflict: Finding a place to belong in the palace Inner conflict: Sitara wants to stand up to bullies who ostracize her for her religion but believes she’s too weak to do so (and pursues knighthood as the solution) Secondary conflicts: Sitara has a crush on a non-Muslim and has mixed feelings of not pursuing it, unrequitedness, and wanting to feel accepted by her classmates 7. Setting: Sitara’s story takes place in a fantasy setting based on 17th-century Korea and includes references to China, India/Indian Subcontinent, and Arabia. This world is Sitara exploring the diaspora experience. Islam and Buddhism are two religions that are present in the setting but only the former is discussed in detail since it’s the religion Sitara practices. Sitara lives in the Orekan Main Palace and attends its academy. Korean architecture are present like pagodas and pavilions, and Korean food and clothing are also used.
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