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Alexandra Lebensburger

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    I'm a lawyer, mediator, and SAT tutor ready to stop being many things and start being one thing: a writer

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  1. This is a scene closer to the end. Even though it's a flashback scene, it's pivotal to the story since it informs the reader about what is holding Eve back in the present day. “Honey, I’m home!” I busied myself with grating the parmigiana until I heard his footsteps in the kitchen. His loud, clunky footsteps. I told him a million times to take his damn shoes off when he came home. So unsanitary. It was a state of mind I picked up in Singapore that always stuck with me. “Eve?” I glanced at him and then picked up the salad bowl. James moved closer to me. “Are you even going to say hi?” I scoffed, avoiding his eyes. “Are you going to keep leaving your socks next to the hamper? Or did you not bother to toss them in because you knew your maid would take care of it for you? You have so much initiative at work. Where the hell is it when you come home?” He turned me around to him. “Whoa. What the hell is going on with you?” “How would you know what’s going on with me? You don’t even check in with me from work anymore. Not a single call all day.” “Because every time I call you, all I get is some crazy tirade about how I left a dish in the sink or my boxers on the bed, or some other trivial bullshit.” “Well that trivial bullshit happens to be my life now.” The usual spot on his clavicle started to pulse. Watching its slow steady rhythm used to calm me down during a fight, but now it just aggravated me further. “Taking care of me, of us? That’s trivial bullshit to you?” “This is not what I signed up for! A woman gets married and suddenly Bob Barker appears and says, ‘Congratulations! Let’s see what you’ve won! Here’s your new office! It’s a fucking kitchen and if your husband really treats you right, there’s a brand-new laundry room waiting for you! And you get a lifetime supply of dinners to cook and toilets to clean!’” I felt myself unhinging, like my nuts and bolts were coming undone. James looked at me, stunned. “I feel like I have no idea who you are right now, Eve.” He shook his head. “You’ve been acting crazy for months.” “I am not crazy.” “Well, you’re certainly acting crazy!” His voice was louder now, more frantic. “You don’t even kiss me when I come home, let alone greet me. And sex? I practically have to beg you. You show no affection to me whatsoever. Everything is just routine. Robotic. And you’ve become obsessed with cleaning. I just…” He takes a deep breath. “I just feel like I’m shouldering the load for both of us. I bust my ass in the office morning till night, and you can pretty much do whatever you want. I’m doing everything I can to support this family. You. Me. This family. And all I ask is that you support me in doing that. Is that so bad?” The nuts and bolts were loosening further. “I am more than that. I am not just the goddamned support staff! You assumed that because we come from similar backgrounds that we’re similar. But we’re not. I’m not going to be satisfied with what our mothers had. With what Tiffany has. What did you think law school was for me? Just a passing fancy? A very expensive dating site? Did you think I was going to be barefoot and pregnant at your whim? I don’t even want a kid!” We looked at each other, both of us stunned silent. And there it was. He put me in a situation of his own creation and then he had the gall to accuse me of letting him shoulder the load. The load he wanted to carry. But it wasn’t his creation. It was mine. By getting swept away in the gold and the glitter and the stomach flutters of love, I had become my mother, not my father. High on the satisfaction that I’d met approval, on the congratulations. But then came the gnawing at the pit of my stomach, foretelling that this satisfaction would last as long as people cared, which was never very long. As soon as the congratulations had stopped coming, stripping my bright future of its artificial glow, I’d remembered that all that glittered was not gold. I felt bile rise up in my throat. I ran to the bathroom and spilled my guts into the toilet. The toilet I had just cleaned this morning. And I knew right then that my body had betrayed me.
  2. I apologize for the delay in submitting this - I just signed up for this course a couple of weeks ago! STORY STATEMENT: Save an old woman from getting evicted before it’s too late…for both of them. ANTAGONIST: Cecelia Robertson grew up knowing that her mother lived a life of sin with another woman. When the rumors at school in Queens became unbearable, her father sent her to Atlanta to be raised by her God-fearing aunt and uncle. The way Cecelia sees it, she was stricken from the story and exiled to suit her mother’s sinful lusts. The only saving grace of her life is that she found God in the Southern Baptist Church, which showed her the righteous path and gave her a name for all her pain – her mother’s lover, Grace. As soon as her mother dies, she takes ownership of the family apartment in Queens and tries to force an eviction on Grace by becoming the Board President. Patience is a virtue, and if she’s waited this long to exact revenge, then it had better be done right. BREAKOUT TITLE: Between Two Edens Eve Hollisman’s Overriding Interests COMPARABLES: The Cactus by Susan Hayward Just like my novel, The Cactus tells the story of a jaded lawyer who struggles to get out of her own way to find happiness. Both novels also center around a family mystery that needs to be solved, but my novel offers an international layer to the narrative and a more intensive back story. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman The character of Eleanor Oliphant and my character, Eve Hollisman, would likely be friends – except for the fact that neither of them is in the market for a new one. They both lead carefully crafted lives, are dedicated to their routines, and are more in need of a shakeup than either can imagine. When Eve and Eleanor each meet the person who will do just that, everything changes for them – for better or for worse. HOOK LINE: A young lawyer, torn between keeping her job and doing what’s right, is pulled into an old woman’s eviction which forces her to confront her own painful past. INNER AND OUTER CONFLICTS: Eve, an attorney, receives a strange phone call from Grace, a grouchy old woman who claims she’s about to be evicted. The pain in Grace’s voice, her grief over having just lost her mother, or “Ma,” and a subsequent visit to her smelly old apartment, open a chasm inside Eve and compel her to help this broken woman. There’s only one problem. Eve represents the building that’s trying to evict her. The more Eve digs into Grace’s predicament, the less that makes sense. The new board president, Cecelia, dead set on throwing Grace out of her home of over seven decades, seems to have more of a grudge against Grace than her supposed non-payment of rent. And yet, Grace maintains that she’s never even met the board president. When Eve discovers that Grace is in fact up to date on her payments, she knows there’s more to the story than she’s bargained for. Even more strange is when she learns from Grace’s doorman that her “Ma” was not her mother after all, but a woman named Mara Sanders. Eve’s predicament is further complicated when her boss tells her that her bid for partner is being considered and to prepare a pitch to be presented. News that would have once made Eve feel complete now leaves her conflicted. All she has to do is show up in court and move forward with the eviction, and the one hitch in her pitch would be gone. But when the time comes, she can’t bring herself to do it. After Cecelia storms out of the courtroom, Eve knows she’s in hot water, but she doesn’t know just how badly until her boss tells her that the board president has threatened to file a grievance against her, putting her law license on the line. The realization creeps in that Eve may have blown up her entire life – again. For her, being partner is the final stage of the independence and accomplishment that she desperately needs after her marriage to her law school sweetheart forced her into a position of dependency and an unwanted pregnancy that would have turned her into her housewife mother. It was a world she didn’t fit into, just like all the worlds she’s lived in after Singapore. But the miscarriage rocked her, and the guilt of having wished the child away never faded. Eve is desperate to talk to someone, so she calls her younger sister out of desperation, only to learn that her sister is pregnant. All of Eve’s pain and trauma catches up to her, and everything fades to black. SETTING: Setting is of tantamount importance to the main character, Eve. Born and raised in an expat family in Singapore, she is uprooted at the age of twelve by her New Yorker parents to go back “home”. Sadly, she never quite fits into the New York suburbs she is dropped into, full of people who look like her but are nothing like her. Singapore represents the happy childhood that she has never been able to replicate with a father who is lost to her. Eve seeks something comparable in New York, vying for the position of Partner at her law firm, believing that her father would be proud that she followed his path. In the flashback chapters, Eve moves to Boston for law school and meets James. The two quickly become a couple which lasts through law school and eventually leads to a marriage she isn’t ready for, ending in divorce and a miscarriage. Boston represents the past she wants to forget, even though it follows her and influences the way she thinks about herself. The present-day chapters take place in New York, where Eve tries to pick up the pieces of her life after her divorce and miscarriage. New York represents a place-holder, as she tries to assemble the life she thought she wanted before she got married. New York is about regaining control over her life after feeling submissive to her husband’s dreams. Yet, living the law firm life isn’t what she wants, which she realizes when she sets on a path to help Grace, an old woman who is about to be evicted from her home. We end with Eve on the plane to Singapore, finally excited for the rest of her life and for finally going home.
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