ASSIGNMENT #1—Story Statement: A girl must stop a traitor from using a magical library to erase history. ASSIGNMENT #2—Antagonist Sketch: Vanessa DeCipio delights in being the most devoted servant of Montevale. For centuries, she and her ancestors have guarded the Books of the Living and the Dead (and saved the world twice). Despite her outward enthusiasm, Vanessa secretly feels her family is better than the Shieldmaidens who created Montevale. Her resentment reaches its tipping point when her mother falls ill and Montevale fails to save her. Anger-fueled grief leads her to conjure a deadly curse that kills the last of the Shieldmaidens, including Juliet. Despite the curse’s success, Vanessa remains heartbroken and decides to use the Books to resurrect her mother—an act which involves stealing a powerful relic, framing a colleague, and releasing an ancient evil sealed in the Crypt of Two Truths. All goes according to plan except The Crypt, which can only be opened by a Shieldmaiden (all of whom her curse destroyed…oops). Luckily, Vanessa learns Juliet didn’t die but was hidden away in Minnesota. She manipulates the girl into returning to Montevale and opening the Crypt, which Juliet unknowingly does. Vanessa dies, betrayed by the evil released from the Crypt, never seeing her mother. ASSIGNMENT #3—Working Title: THE SHIELDMAIDEN AND THE CRYPT OF TWO TRUTHS (The Chronicles of Montevale) ASSIGNMENT #4—Two Comps: 1. SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK (The Serafina Series) by Robert Beatty Both stories blend history and fantasy in a fast-paced, antagonist-driven who-done-it that explores the dark side of humanity. Like the Vanderbilts in Beatty’s work, Clara Barton and Stephanie Kwolek walk through my pages, encouraging young readers to learn more about people from the past. Both female protagonists evolve from lost girls to powerhouse heroines who vehemently defend others. Beatty’s work has a dark thriller edge, while mine infuses humor and a lush, fantasy world. 2. ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME (The Pandava Series) by Roshani Chokshi Juliet and Aru struggle with identity and loneliness, yet both rise to their destinies, surprising themselves and others. Both books are humorous, modern fantasies with unique creatures, elaborate settings, and adventures not involving reimagined fairy tales. While ARU SHAH modernizes Hindu myth, my novel employs a magical library, concepts from various world cultures, and time travel. Both explore self-worth, friendship, and the intricate web of human interconnectedness. ASSIGNMENT #5—Hook: Juliet Freeman, a withdrawn 13-year-old, must accept her real identity as a guardian of a magical library to stop a shapeshifting murderer from hijacking history and erasing thousands of lives. ASSIGNMENT 6A—Inner conflicts: emotional neglect, identity, and self-worth Papa works long hours at the college and is often gone for conferences. When he’s home, he resides in a book. She’s clothed, loved, and fed (if Raisin Bran for dinner counts), but her grandfather is always checked out. When Mom—her only other family—died seven years ago, Papa plunked her in home care with a middle-aged, white woman whose Bible pounding left bruises she carries today. The only good thing to come out of Mrs. Karen Brefew’s Home for Scripturally-Tortured Children was Luke (now her best friend). At 13, she's been raising herself for three years, but if she’s learned anything from Papa it’s that books can replace family. Besides, solitude is comfortable, safe, and beats the ridicule brought by interacting with others. ASSIGNMENT #6B—Secondary conflicts: 1. family and fellow character conflict; 2. a rival plot (the library as champagne villain); 3. a quest 1. A strange nightmare has haunted Juliet Freeman since she was six: a black cloud swallowing mountains and meadows, a dying woman, and a man with red-lightning fingers trying to kill her. Papa says the dream is her way of dealing with her mother’s tragic car accident, but she’s not so sure. Then she goes to Montevale and learns the nightmare is really the suppressed memory of the girl she was born to be: Maia Patara, the last of the Shieldmaidens (Montevale's book warriors). Juliet’s entire existence—memories, appearance, parentage—was altered by a librarian who makes the Federal Witness Protection Program look like child’s play. Now, thanks to a madman hunting her, Juliet is stuck in Montevale with a grandfather who lied about her true identity for six years and the librarian who changed her life. How can she trust either of them enough to save the world? 2. The library, which she was apparently born to defend, is also out to get her. Since she arrived, the library has unleased hulking rat-lizards to eat her, rogue sentences and a dragon to ensnare her, a trickster monkey to outwit her, and a deadly pit of quicksand to test her resolve. If she doesn’t prove her worth to the library soon, it may be her end. 3. Juliet must also recover one of five magical Headstones, the source behind the traitor’s shapeshifting. She learns about the stone—and the fact that the traitor isn’t who he appears to be—courtesy of her new ability to time travel through the Books and Madame Cassandra’s Voodoo Emporium (There are a few perks to all this torture.). In the end, she fails the quest and resurrects an evil that will soon threaten all of humankind. ASSIGNMENT #7—Setting Rochester, Minnesota and the land of Montevale, specifically its library filled with endless corridors, wormholes, trapdoors, secret chambers, shifting bridges, ink-bleeding rocks, bookcases carved from cliffs and decaying trees, watery floors that house extinct sea creatures but turn solid when walked on, a magical globe to travel the world, a hidden passage through a clock, a murderous bog, the Titanic ferrying passengers from the Books of the Dead to the Living while serving lunch, and a Crypt filled with discarded books whose altered endings no longer fit among the living or dead. Beginning (Chap. 1-6) Rochester: a middle school, car ride home, Luke’s house, car chase through the frozen countryside, a forest that turns magical and leads Juliet and Luke to Montevale. Montevale: The Ninth Circle of the Apotheca. [The Apotheca is an infinitely-chambered vault in the library with nine levels, all storing the Books of the Dead. The Ninth Circle holds the books of serial killers and traitors in decaying tree trunks. Juliet arrives in this dark vault instead of a grand hall to establish her uphill climb, foreshadow a traitor’s fate, and kickoff the library’s many tests to determine her worthiness.], Titanic ride to the Books of the Living (The Librivita) [The Librivita is comprised of 12 galleries (January-December) where books are shelved alphabetically by birthdate. Each gallery is an endless corridor branching off the library’s central atrium—The Caelarium—like spokes on a wheel.], The Caelarium. Middle (Chap. 7-16) Montevale: The Caelarium, Juliet’s house (via clock passage), Montevale’s living quarters, the March Gallery. New Orleans: the inside of Madame Cassandra’s Voodoo Emporium (Juliet time travels through Madame Cassandra’s book) Montevale: The Caelarium, The July Gallery, Placidell [a western province of Montevale and home of the library’s master index], The Tower of Victory [a seemingly deserted stone tower Juliet and Luke must climb and survive judgment of the Abuaku who lives in the stairs and determines worthiness of pilgrims to access the master index], Bandar’s Palace [home of the Inkpot Monkey, Keeper of the Master Index], the Fount of Sabulo [a suffocating bog of quicksand, another library test, and only passage to the Crypt], The Crypt of Two Truths [an underground cavern, the entrance of which resembles a groundhog tunnel yawning open to a grotto filled with missing library books whose subjects appear as ghosts because their endings have been altered and they no longer fit among the living or the dead]. End (Chap 17-20) New Jersey: DuPont Labs, fall 1964 (Juliet time travels through the book of real-life Kevlar inventor, Stephanie Kwolek) Montevale: July Gallery (Librivita), Montevale seven years earlier (Juliet time travels through the dead antagonist’s book to learn why the villain did what she did and what Juliet unleashed in the Crypt), July Gallery, Roen Hall [a Medieval-looking room with stone walls, wooden ceiling, and a round table] where the library makes peace with Juliet and gives her a special gift.