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New York Pitch and Algonkian Pre-event Assignments - 2021


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1.       Story Statement:  During the Gothic Wars at the end of the Roman Empire, a renowned scientist must protect herself and her intellectually disabled adult daughter when they flee Rome.

2.       Antagonist:  Bishop Cassius of Narni (a real person) encounters the protagonists, Cynthia Plotina and her young adult daughter Constantia, shortly after they have fled Rome to resettle in Umbria.  The Bishop falls in lust with Constantia, indifferent to her psychological issues.  He rationalizes his obsession with Constantia by telling her  (and himself) that a heartfelt commitment to Christian piety might heal her of her trauma.  Cynthia’s protection of her daughter angers Cassius, who, after failing to gain access to Constantia, turns the town against Cynthia because of her scholarly accomplishment and religious skepticism.  The Bishop also fears that Cynthia’s efforts to educate the children of the region and bring literacy to the slaves and peasants will cause social dislocation, and threaten his own authority and income.

3.       Three Titles:

A.       The Roman Women

B.       The Illustrious Plotinii

C.       The Temple of Janus

 

4.       Comparables

A.       Robert Harris’ Cicero Trilogy (Conspirata, Imperium, Dictator) – These books are set in the end days of the Roman Republic. The trilogy reflects the political concerns and lifestyles of the leaders of both the city of Rome and the empire.  My novel takes place about 600 years later, at the very end of the Empire.  I’ve also made many of the main characters (including the protagonist) women, slaves, soldiers and clerics, and tried to bring into more focus the material and social circumstances of daily life for middle and working class Romans in the context of siege, plague, and famine.  Harris’s books are voiced in the first person of Cicero’s personal assistant; by contrast, I’ve written in third-person omniscient, to more plausibly portray the inner thoughts of characters.

B.      Steven Saylor’s RomaRoma aims to give the reader, through several historical vignettes over several hundred years, a sense of the breadth of Rome’s history (Roma appears to be a “one-off”; most of his books are “historical mystery” set in that time period).  My hope is to give the same sense of breadth of time without bogging down the movement of the story (which is not discrete vignettes but a family’s history during the years 536-547).   Saylor’s characters are generally upper-class and immediately adjacent to actual historical figures whose stories are being told in each chapter.  Likewise, the fictional family of Senator Junius Plotinus are associates of future Pope Pelagius, Emperor Justinian, and Gothic King Totila.

C.       Classic influences: Gore Vidal’s Julian; John Williams’ Augustus; George Gissing’s Veranilda and Robert Graves’ Count Belisarius (two of the few English-language novels about this time period); James Michener (master of the explicitly didactic bestseller).

5.       Log line:  At the end of the Roman Empire, an illustrious scholar and scientist from one of Rome’s Senatorial families and her disabled adult daughter must flee to the countryside, learn how to survive, and overcome a Catholic Bishop bent on their destruction.

6.       A.  Primary Conflict – Cynthia has acted as a primary caretaker for her daughter, who became intellectually disabled after a Senator attempted to rape her.  When they fled for the countryside, she didn’t imagine she would have to devote any more time than usual to her daughter’s care.  But Bishop Cassius has focused his sexual interest on the daughter, notwithstanding that she is engaged to marry a Goth from Rome and that the Bishop is married.  The Bishop is repeatedly frustrated in his amorous pursuits by Cynthia, and his frustration vents itself in violent antipathy toward her.  He publicly accuses Cynthia of being a heretic and an atheist, and attempts to drive her and Constantia from their estate.  There are several scenes involving this conflict; the first comes when the Bishop and his wife visit Cynthia’s estate for a dinner in which the Bishop makes clear his romantic interest in Constantia.  Cynthia is offended, angry, confused that a Bishop would be so blind to Constantia’s situation – her disability, her emotional fragility, her engagement – in order to simply satisfy his own urges.

B.  Secondary Social conflict – Cynthia is a wealthy woman from the city, accustomed to a life where she is waited on by slaves.  In the country, the slaves make it clear that they very much want her and her daughter to help out around the estate.  She had prided herself on her egalitarian attitudes, but never thought she really would be placed in a situation where she would have to actually engage in menial labor.  In order to show her good faith, she begins, slowly, to become a co-worker with the slaves and tenant farmers on the estate.  In an early scene of the novel, the slaves of her estate meet with her as a group in order to ask her to start helping out. Her heart sinks as she realizes that there are many slaves and only one of her.  Without the power of imperial soldiers or a city watch to enforce master-slave relations (soldiers having died in the plague or been shipped out to the battlefield), she realizes she needs to tread lightly and demonstrate her good faith.

7.    Major settings in the novel:

       A.  The City of Rome – Primarily the Plotiniis’ villa on the Caelian Hill, the docks of Rome, the Senate Curia, St. Peter’s Church, the Lateran Palace, The Pincian Palace on Pincian Hill, headquarters of the city’s garrison of soldiers from the Eastern Roman Empire; middle class apartment buildings; a bakery, the abandoned and closed temples of the Roman Forum, and the new churches and monasteries going up in their place.  My goal is to give the readers a sense of a city that once held a million people within its walls, but is now virtually abandoned, and beginning to move toward a new life as the world's spiritual capital.

       B.  Totila’s encampments:  The Gothic general leads a force of five thousand men from a tent in the center of a large tent city,  a half-mile square, not including a stabling area, a blacksmith and cobbler's tents, a surgeon's tent, a kitchen area and mess tent, hundreds of vans carrying weapons, shields arrows; vans carrying blacksmiths and armorer’s tools; and an area for camp followers (several prostitutes, and a few families).  At first, the encampment is about six miles west of Rome on the Tiber; later, about a half-mile from the walls.

       C.  Taginae:   Taginae (modern name Gualdo Tadino) is a town on the Flaminian Way, about 200 miles north of Rome in Umbria and thirty miles east of Perugia.  At the time of the novel, the town has about 5,000 inhabitants, which makes it a town of moderate importance; it is a market town for the region but it is not important enough to have walls.  The town is built around a central square with a fountain; on one side is a temple of Jupiter, on the other a church built in basilica style.  Small shops line the Flaminian Way as it goes through the center of town.  

D.   Plotinii Estate:  The Plotinii’s estate is about five miles north, also on the Flaminian way.  The estate is about ten square miles, making it an estate of moderate size for Italy in the late Empire.  Like most villas in Italy, rooms that were once opulent have been converted for other uses or left to deteriorate.  The splendid atrium featuring a statuary garden with lined colonnades on either side has been converted to run-in sheds, the reflecting pool in the center being used to water the pigs and sheep.  The detailed mosaics of the floors and murals on the walls are covered in dirt and grime, but still faintly visible.  The fine furnishings are long gone, and have been replaced by primitive wooden furniture made by the slaves for their use; the estate manager and his wife have been living there for some time.  The estate comprises blacksmith shops, grape and olive presses, wine and oil storage facilities, a small pottery and brick factory, a weaving room, three large slave barracks, stone cottages for slaves and tenant farmers, and a bathhouse for the staff next to a spring.  A small aqueduct carries water from the spring to the main house.

E.  Constantinople:  Marcus, Constantia’s older brother, has fled to Constantinople instead of staying at Taginae with his mother and sister.  Constantinople in A.D. 546 is what Rome looked like four hundred years previously – a marble-clad city teeming with life, crowded streets, people of all ages and ethnicities heading in all directions, the smell of horse dung everywhere.  As in Rome, the royal palace is built adjacent to an enormous hippodrome. Marcus lives in a relatively modest apartment of only four rooms on the Third Hill.  Much of the action takes place at Justinian’s palace, in the office of the Prime Minister; the opulent audience chamber; the private dining room of Justinian and Theodora; and in the equally opulent wing of Theodora’s adult daughter, Pruscilla, the daughter that the royal family doesn’t wish to speak of.  Pruscilla’s wing has a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the Mediterranean, where Pruscilla and Marcus plot and plan. In a later book, much of the action takes place at Placidia Palace, the home of the Papal apocrisariat to the Eastern Empire’s court.

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 

Lydia must maintain an uneasy balance between her mission to destroy the Roman army and the Roman soldier she loves, all while grappling with her growing obsession with the latter. 

 

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

At first, the antagonist force is Lydia’s guild of sorcerers. Though they are Lydia’s family, their goal of revenge against Rome means she must maintain an uneasy balance between them and her love, Publius. Eventually, the guild’s goals force the two lovers apart. As the story progresses, however, Lydia becomes her own antagonist as her obsession with Publius and jealousy over his marriage mark her path to destruction.

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

The Consul’s Son

The Last Sorceress of Rome

The Mark of Death

 

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

 

For my first comparable, I chose THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern in that it has a similar focus on an impossible couple and the consequences of their love. THE NIGHT CIRCUS places this focus against the backdrop of a competition to the death involving magic, a situation similar to what Lydia finds herself in. 

 

For my second comparable, I chose FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao for its similar atmosphere of dark magic and nefarious aspirations. The protagonist, Xifeng, is an anti-heroine prone to jealousy and obsession, just like Lydia. 

 

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication.

A young sorceress tasked with destroying Roman armies finds her mission—and her life thereafter—immensely complicated when she falls in love with a Roman soldier.

 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

Inner conflict sketch: To please her guild, Lydia must fight for Rome’s fall, but she isn’t willing to let go of Publius. Lydia would lose her place in the guild if they knew about her relationship with Publius, so she has to fight for him secretly. This becomes impossible when Publius’s ambitions propel him into generalship. 

 

Secondary conflict: Marcus, Lydia’s childhood friend and staunch ally displays an unwavering devotion to her throughout the novel. Lydia feels guilty about her inability to return his affection, considering all he does for her. At the same time, she is also irritated by his romantic pursuit of her. 

 

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

 

Ostia: Lydia’s guild has made their home in Ostia, a bustling port city only a few miles from Rome. Ostia, with its picturesque blue waters, serves as a home base throughout for Lydia. 

 

Rome: Rome is a lush city of glimmering mansions, temples, markets, and quaint insulae. It is also the capital of the state Lydia’s guild seeks to topple and where Lydia meets Publius. 

  • The Scipiones’ mansion: The luxurious home of the patrician Scipio family, situated on the glamorous Palatine Hill, first belongs to the newly elected consul, and then to his son, Publius. Here Lydia and Publius meet and later conduct their love affair. 

  • Praeconia’s house: Lydia and her guild reside in this modest, generic dwelling during their alliance with Praeconia. The house draws its personality from Praeconia and her guild. Praeconia fawns over Lydia and welcomes her guild warmly, but beneath this veneer is a conniving and manipulative nature that Lydia struggles to match. 

 

The battlefields: 

  • Cisalpine Gaul: This recently conquered territory just north of Italy is the site of the Roman army’s first battles of the war. It is crisscrossed with rivers and unleashes an unrelenting winter on the army. Lydia realizes she loves Publius amidst the calamities that befall the army here. 

  • Cannae: This is the site of Rome’s greatest defeat. During this battle, Lydia uses her magic to rescue Publius instead of further devastating the Roman army. 

  • Canusium: Cannae’s survivors seek refuge in this nearby city. Here, in the aftermath of the battle, Lydia must reckon with what she just did, which was decidedly choose Publius over her guild.

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 

 

A sinister Order has infiltrated the island of Anthanaeum, when the 14yo mixed raced Cursed Prodigy investigates, she uncovers a deadly conspiracy of human and beasts concocted by a god. She must eliminate everyone involved before they kill her...or worse, capture her friends

 

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

 

The Order of the Chosen, once thought of as a harmless religious organization, was discovered by Maddison (the Cursed Prodigy) to be connected to the Massacre that killed the Queen of Forknowl. Now, they are plotting something on the island of Anthanaeum — something that might bring destruction to the whole island. Driven by their divine ideation, the Order will stop at nothing to bring Glory for the Chosen. What they see as Salvation for their people means death to all those who oppose them.

Of the spies working on the island for the Order, the most dangerous is Sebastian Ollie, a High Priest that infiltrated the Sage Tower and orchestrated their forces on the island. As he engages in a battle of wits against Maddison, he utilizes all of the tools at his disposal to deliver the last ingredients that can lead to God’s Arrival. 

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

 

The Orphan of Anthanaeum

The Order of the Chosen

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: comps

 

Three Dark Crowns - Kendare Blake (2016) - Strong female protagonist in a High Fantasy Novel with multi-POV that has parallel and complex storylines with interesting character development. Similarly voiced and written for YA audience to engage a more commercial read, targeted towards a broader market.

Mistborn: The Final Empire - Brandon Sanderson (2006) - Multi POV High concept Epic Fantasy Novel with intricate world-building, hard magic system, and a female protagonist with intricate plot. There’s intrigue as well as the looming threat of a god.

Uprooted - Naomi Novik (2015) - High Fantasy Novel that builds on intrigue and strong female characters and dealing with friendship and sacrifice. The discovery of unknown magic and overall expanded world-building, along with the uncovering of a looming threat and its origins.

Additional comps for length and marketability - The Poppy War: A Novel by RF Kuang | King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo | An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

 

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline)

 

Petty gossip of nobles about her origins isn't a concern for the Cursed Prodigy, she's too busy with matters of life and death; protecting her friends in the mercurial Library against vile crystal monsters, deadly mutated acolytes, and a god bent on their destruction.

 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. 

 

After Maddison’s investigation into the Sage Tower leads to something much more sinister. She must protect her new friends from the Order of the Chosen that is out for blood, while finding their true purpose on the island of Anthanaeum. As she tries to balance her cold calculations with her newfound concern for her friend's safety, she wavers for the first time from the words of her mentor: Caring is a weakness.

 

Secondary conflict:

With Maddison’s arrival to Anthanaeum the lives of Linden, Nina, and Benjamin are forever changed. One begin questioning their purpose and future for the first time. One finds the history of their past and is compelled to take on the mantle to protect the nation. And One is selected as the Beacon candidate by a mysterious Guardian of Knowledge, unwittingly thrusted into the path of a chosen one. Each are dealing with the ramifications of what it means to be 'worthy' realizing heroes are not born but the result of an individual's choice and sacrifice.

 

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. 

 

The Queen of Forknowl was dead, as well as the prince, or so people thought. They were just two of the many victims of an inexplicable massacre. More than a decade since their deaths, the traders of Amarastar have crisscrossed the oceans. The Imperial Family of GuiAnDao has drawn a curtain of secrecy ever more tightly around their nation. The King of Forknowl has tried to keep the peace, despite the loss of his wife and son. No one in the Three Kingdoms has paid much attention to the tiny island of Anthanaeum.  It was home to the Sage Tower and the mysterious Library of unknown depth, filled with elemental Masters and researchers adept at manipulating crystal magics.

 

The Island of Anthanaeum, is a greater asset than anyone would expect for its size and is the setting of the Novel. We traverse the Island’s many locations from the Beast-filled forest to the south, to the Anthanaeum Academy, and the Library and its underground lair. As we follow Maddison and her friends through the course of eight months, we learn and see various areas of the Island and discover its hidden secrets and the unknown forces working there.

 

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1.     FIRST ASSIGNMENT:  Story Statement  

 

An indentured servant adjusts to life amidst the rich and poor in the multi-cultural 18th century Mohawk Valley as she earns a plot of land, attracts a husband, and learns the importance of female friendship. 

 

 

2.     SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. 

 

Dorothea’s main antagonist is patriarchal 18th century beliefs and customs. She defies the wishes of her foster father, a conservative Palatine German farmer, moves to the very different world of the wealthy, Irish, womanizing Sir William Johnson, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, learns to negotiate the world of the powerful, slave-holding Johnson family, overcomes the difficulties of a young woman starting a farm on her own and the suspicions of her newly arrived Scottish Highlander neighbors. The other antagonist is Patrick Fitzpatrick, the man she finally falls in love with. When he first arrived from Ireland as the serving boy to Sir William’s long-sought for blind Irish Harper, she and Patrick soon became good friends, but she thought he was too young, too fun-loving, and too eager for adventure to ever become the hard-working, responsible farmer husband she seeks. She fends off all her unsuitable suitors until she overcomes her own reluctance to acknowledge the man she really does want to share her life with.

 

 

3.     THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title

 

Mansions on the Mohawk; A Farm for Dorothea; 

4.     FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: - - Develop two smart comparables for your novel. 

The genres are romantic historic fiction and biographical historic fiction.

Two series which are set in the same era as my book and continue to have a big readership are Dana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and Sarah Donati’s Into the Wilderness series. I’m not trying to compete with Gabaldon, but her books vividly depict frontier life during the colonial period, as do Donati’s in the post-revolutionary War in upstate New York. In both series the heroine is well-educated and determined to improve the lives of others. In contrast, my heroine is an illiterate servant who is determined to better herself, and we see all levels of frontier society from her point of view. 

I’ve found stand-alone historic fiction novels set in this time and place, but none with a similar protagonist, nor that I am enthusiastic about.  I keep hoping to find one. 

This book is the first in a four book series that I have outlined, but, of course, must stand out on its own.

5.     FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline). 

 

In upper New York before the Revolutionary War, a determined young woman, jilted for lack of a dowry, risks her reputation to work for the most powerful family in the Mohawk Valley in order to earn a plot of land, becomes part of a multi-cultural community of friends and neighbors and discovers unexpected love.

 

6.     SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. 

Dorothea believes she will not be happy unless she can attract a sturdy, responsible, young, German-speaking Palatine farmer who will be her partner in running a farm and raising a family. Once she serves her indenture in a mansion belonging to members of a powerful, wealthy family, and earns a lease on a plot of land, she has changed so much that her farm boy suitors all bore her. Unlike Patrick Fitzpatrick.  She first met him when she was eighteen and he was only fourteen, so she thought of him as a younger brother and she ignored his love for her. After four years, however, he grew up and her feelings changed. They marry. But he does not turn out to be  the reliable farmer she wanted. Indentured to the same wealthy family, he still spends much of his time working for them, at tasks that feed his adventurous spirit. Meanwhile, Dorothea begins to worry before the birth of their first child, knowing her biological mother died in childbirth. Dorothea’s low point comes when Patrick does not return from Philadelphia in time for the birth of their first child, but female friends and neighbors help her greatly.

Sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. 

Dorothea becomes a nurserymaid at Guy Park Manor, home of Sir William Johnson’s daughter Polly and her husband Guy Johnson. The Johnson family employs many enslaved people. Dorothea does not approve of slavery, but she benefits from it because the slaves do all of the hard and unpleasant manual labor. She makes an effort to become friends with an enslaved maid of her own age, but she can’t do much for the girl until she gets her farm.

 

7.     FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. 

 

Dorothea is raised by a German-speaking Palatine foster-family in the Schoharie Valley of New York in the years after the French and Indian War. Her brother-in-law, from an old Dutch family, encourages her to become a maid in the newly built Guy Park Manor, further north, on the banks of the Mohawk River. Guy Park is one of four Mansions in the Mohawk Valley occupied by members of the Irish-German-Mohawk family of Sir William Johnson, British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who is one of the wealthiest men in the colonies. Three of the mansions are still standing today. The Mohawk Indians (the Onkwehonwe) have shrinking amounts of land and settlements in the area where they coexist with the Palatines, the Dutch, newcomers from Ireland, and the most recent influx of Scottish Highlander refugees whom Sir William recruited to settle on his vast estate.

Frances

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Help a time traveler return to the future without altering the timeline of the universe.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

Zipporah Goldblum has traveled back in time from 5012 CE on a scouting mission. The people of her time, faced with calamity, want to know if they can escape to the 21st century. Her time machine self-destructs in the process, so she recruits physicist Pascal Rahali to build a new one, deceiving him into thinking she is an angel investor who wants to boost his research. Sick with a 21st century virus, she is running short of time. So, step by step, she reveals aspects of her mission to Pascal, hoping that he will not turn against her when he realizes the double risk of colonization by the people of the future and altering the timeline of the whole universe. Both cunning and vulnerable, she evolves though the story, gradually learning nuances of 21st century culture so that she can evade detection by the police and accelerate the construction of the vessel she will need to return home.

 THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

Exotic Matter

The Time Scout

Time Crystal

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

Exotic Matter resembles Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things in that it explores colonization in a future setting, as well as the loneliness endured by people who are consumed by their missions.

It resembles Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem in portraying a physicist wrestling with real problems in physics while faced with a potential invasion from life forms with superior intelligence.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication.

Deprived of funding, scorned physicist Pascal gets support from an unscrupulous time traveler who wants his help getting back to the future.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Inner conflict: Pascal longs to make a big scientific discovery, but he has neglected to publish and has lost his funding. A Moroccan immigrant to the United States, he feels scorned by established physicists. The quest for nature’s secrets inspires him; he has no desire to apply what he discovers to any sort of invention. Zipporah, an incognito time traveler, gives him money to pursue his research, but in return she – and the investors who follow her example -- demands that he invent technology that poses a danger to all of humanity. Now he must choose whether to abandon his life’s work, or risk turning it to the most dangerous possible uses.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?. Secondary conflict: In his obsession with making a breakthrough, Pascal forges the name of his mentor, Ernesto, on a scientific paper. Ernesto breaks off the friendship. And Pascal’s girlfriend dumps him after learning about the incident.

 

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

Exotic Matter takes place in Oakland and Berkeley, California, in the present and prehistoric past. One early scene shows the protagonist, Pascal, in a laboratory with cables snaking from floor to ceiling and an isolation chamber the size of a propane tank, suspended from above and split in half to reveal crystals, sensors and mirrors. In a later scene he watches turtles by a placid lake in the embrace of his girlfriend. That nature theme returns when he travels backward in time to find himself amid towering redwoods, so primeval he half-expects a diplodocus to emerge from the ferns. Taken to an indigenous village, naked, sunburned and mosquito-bitten, he dresses in a coat of mud from a freshwater creek, eats shellfish and acorn mush, and huddles at night across from his host family in a tule reed hut, owls hooting as he struggles to nestle in the fur rugs. Finally in the close atmosphere, warm and redolent of sweat and campfire smoke, he drifts to an uneasy sleep.

 

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On 3/13/2021 at 10:00 AM, MingluJiangP6 said:

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 

Lydia must maintain an uneasy balance between her mission to destroy the Roman army and the Roman soldier she loves, all while grappling with her growing obsession with the latter. 

 

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

At first, the antagonist force is Lydia’s guild of sorcerers. Though they are Lydia’s family, their goal of revenge against Rome means she must maintain an uneasy balance between them and her love, Publius. Eventually, the guild’s goals force the two lovers apart. As the story progresses, however, Lydia becomes her own antagonist as her obsession with Publius and jealousy over his marriage mark her path to destruction.

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

The Consul’s Son

The Last Sorceress of Rome

The Mark of Death

 

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

 

For my first comparable, I chose THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern in that it has a similar focus on an impossible couple and the consequences of their love. THE NIGHT CIRCUS places this focus against the backdrop of a competition to the death involving magic, a situation similar to what Lydia finds herself in. 

 

For my second comparable, I chose FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao for its similar atmosphere of dark magic and nefarious aspirations. The protagonist, Xifeng, is an anti-heroine prone to jealousy and obsession, just like Lydia. 

 

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. Though you may not have one now, keep in mind this is a great developmental tool. In other words, you best begin focusing on this if you're serious about commercial publication.

A young sorceress tasked with destroying Roman armies finds her mission—and her life thereafter—immensely complicated when she falls in love with a Roman soldier.

 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

Inner conflict sketch: To please her guild, Lydia must fight for Rome’s fall, but she isn’t willing to let go of Publius. Lydia would lose her place in the guild if they knew about her relationship with Publius, so she has to fight for him secretly. This becomes impossible when Publius’s ambitions propel him into generalship. 

 

Secondary conflict: Marcus, Lydia’s childhood friend and staunch ally displays an unwavering devotion to her throughout the novel. Lydia feels guilty about her inability to return his affection, considering all he does for her. At the same time, she is also irritated by his romantic pursuit of her. 

 

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

 

Ostia: Lydia’s guild has made their home in Ostia, a bustling port city only a few miles from Rome. Ostia, with its picturesque blue waters, serves as a home base throughout for Lydia. 

 

Rome: Rome is a lush city of glimmering mansions, temples, markets, and quaint insulae. It is also the capital of the state Lydia’s guild seeks to topple and where Lydia meets Publius. 

  • The Scipiones’ mansion: The luxurious home of the patrician Scipio family, situated on the glamorous Palatine Hill, first belongs to the newly elected consul, and then to his son, Publius. Here Lydia and Publius meet and later conduct their love affair. 

  • Praeconia’s house: Lydia and her guild reside in this modest, generic dwelling during their alliance with Praeconia. The house draws its personality from Praeconia and her guild. Praeconia fawns over Lydia and welcomes her guild warmly, but beneath this veneer is a conniving and manipulative nature that Lydia struggles to match. 

 

The battlefields: 

  • Cisalpine Gaul: This recently conquered territory just north of Italy is the site of the Roman army’s first battles of the war. It is crisscrossed with rivers and unleashes an unrelenting winter on the army. Lydia realizes she loves Publius amidst the calamities that befall the army here. 

  • Cannae: This is the site of Rome’s greatest defeat. During this battle, Lydia uses her magic to rescue Publius instead of further devastating the Roman army. 

  • Canusium: Cannae’s survivors seek refuge in this nearby city. Here, in the aftermath of the battle, Lydia must reckon with what she just did, which was decidedly choose Publius over her guild.

This sounds like a great read! I love stories set in ancient Rome.

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story Statement.

In the late Viking age, Norse settler Erik Fenris and his son Einar must overcome trials of love, loss, war and their Viking destiny, to locate and reunite three hidden shards of an ancient, magical talisman, to break the curse of a power-hungry witch, and free their enslaved kinsmen from her burgeoning wolf-skin warrior army.

 

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. 

Skara, the Volva (witch):

Skara is the physical counterpart, “dark sister” to the elemental, spiritual manifestation of the Forest Spirit Skovsraet. Together they are like heaven and earth or good and evil. Skovsraet represents calm, order, light and positivity, while Skara seeks to create chaos from order and embodies the sins of lust, pride, and greed. If Skovsraet’s power creates life and makes the forests grow, Skara’s strength is destruction. Skara has used her magic to interfere with the Skovsraet’s (spiritual world) treaty that had temporarily restored peace between the three realms of man, wolf and nature. She has convinced the wolf tribe that she will steal the world back from Man in the name of their tribe, so that they may regain their lands lost to the ever-encroaching human settlements and be safe from being hunted and killed. Skara convinces the wolves to entertain her dark magic, she takes their skins to transform her enslaved army into Ulfhednr (wild, violent assassin/warrior) clad in their wolf-skins. Skara instigates and indulges the dark spirits and in exchange for their powers, for her desires she eventually agrees to raise an army of monstrous, barbaric varulven (werewolves), and is now searching for the lost strands in order to make herself invincible and unstoppable. However, she must get to them first, but she is not the only one looking for them.

 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Create a breakout title.

1.    Nordskov

2.    The Legend of Nordskov: A Viking Tale

3.    Wolflore: The Legend of Nordskov

4.    Wolven

 

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Develop two smart comparables for your novel.

Comps (from Amazon 4/27/2021):

Bernard Cornwell - War of the Wolf: A Novel (Saxon Tales)

James L. Nelson - Night Wolf: A Novel of Viking Age Ireland (The Norsemen Saga)

Duncan M Hamilton - The Wolf of the North (Book 1, Volume 1)

A. E. Rayne - Eye of the Wolf: An Epic Fantasy Adventure (The Lords of Alekka Book 1)

Comp Categories: Historical Norse Fiction, Norse and Viking Myth & Legend, Action & Adventure Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

 

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound.

A Viking Age family is torn apart by a witch’s curse, they must overcome individual trials and the witch’s ambitions for power to find one another again and free their kinsmen from her wolf-skin warrior army.

A Viking Age family must overcome personal tragedy and embark upon an epic quest to stop an evil witch from her campaign for domination, defeat her werewolf army and free their enslaved, cursed kinfolk to restore peace.

 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment.

a. Erik: The overwhelming nature of being part of a Viking settlement, having to prove your survival skills, your strength, manliness, and that you deserve to be there by the value of your contributions

He feels inadequate to marry the Jarl’s daughter and must obtain more stature and wealth to be considered worthy

He has to overcome his friends/neighbor’s doubt in him when bad things start happening, that he isn’t the one causing them himself

He eventually gives in and also blames himself for the tragedies that have befallen his family, and begins to exhibit schizophrenic behavior, no longer determine what is real and what isn’t. (This is when the “protagonist” title shifts to his son Einar who picks up the quest.)

b. Einar: Guilt that his twin brother’s disappearance/death is his fault, that it should have been him instead Not knowing whether your father is responsible for the tragedies befalling your family as people say

Not knowing who to trust, or knowing that you cannot trust anyone, that you are all alone Feeling like he doesn’t have all the facts, that there is more to the story than he knows

Trusting that his inexperienced survival skills will be enough to undertake a solitary journey through the endless, treacherous woods

Doubt in himself and his abilities—fear of the witch’s skill with seidr and her army of ‘werewolf’ warriors, how can one boy stand up to a witch and her mighty fighters? Not knowing what will become of him after the war is over?

 

SEVENTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. 

The story takes place towards the end of the Viking age, deep in the mystical, reverent, snow-covered forests of northern Norway, with its Norwegian-blue sky being pierced daily by sharp, striking mountains running with glacial rivulets and its frothy seas interrupted by drifting polar ice and the occasional Viking ship. The lands here are still ruled over by ancient, powerful forces of nature and the divine that interact daily with the inhabitants of these lands they sowed. But even here, inside the arctic ring, between the ancient pines at the very edge of the north woods, the frozen tundra is swarming with soldiers engaged in battle over reign and religion, but a far older war—still raging—exists here too. The wolves of Norway are disappearing, and a new age has begun. The tribe of wolf ignores the Forest Spirit’s benevolent treaty of peace between the realms of man, beast and tree, and forges an unholy alliance with the volva (witch) Skara to bring about an end to the encroachment of humanity on their lands.

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: -

 

MOTHER CARACAL’S STORIES OF THE WOMB 

                                                        [A TRILOGY]                                                          

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"Whoever heard of such a thing?

You're about to find out!"

Mother Caracal.

 

Story statements.

1.     A magical pair of shoes takes a heartfelt journey through time in an inimitable saga of a princess and her fight for sovereignty.

2.     Two women, wounded by troubled childhoods, piece together discordant memories of family fables and poetic lies that have spiraled out of control.

3.     Fi-Nicky, sent to an internment camp for a crime he did not commit, emerges as an unlikely leader of a grimalkin city of renegades in the Outer Sphere of life.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: -

In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

STORY 1

This fanciful tale of a magical pair of shoes follows the footsteps of a princess stolen through time.

Scoundrels. In an intricate scheme, a band of thieves devise a plot to smuggle a precious heirloom from the queen of Soleville.  Wending their way through the paradisiacal gardens of her palace grounds, they encounter the princess. Catching her off guard, they ensnare her in a trap and carry her off to a faraway land.

Marauders. Holding her in bondage, along with countless others snatched across the borders of familiarity, she is sold into slavery. Stripped of her possessions, save the clothing on her back and the shoes on her feet, her life is now governed by an ethos that is based upon the words and incantations of the Old Text.

With nothing more than her wits, she must draw upon inner strengthen to face powerful forces of evil and combat her way home.

STORY 2

This coming-of-age story explores the seesaw relationship between two girls as their upwardly mobile parents strive for success.

Fueled by ambition, Harlem Harper and Monica Sterling, first cousins, are determined to rise above social inequities at a time of political unrest. Raising their children amongst the shrill tones and chaotic beats of city life, they do their best to provide the structure needed to reach the pinnacle of success, but things go awry when expectations grow extreme, striking chords of resentment while pushing the threshold of tolerance beyond reasonable limits. 

With stakes high, the adults are committed to maintaining their image of successful marriages, high achieving children, and upstanding accomplishments within the community. Under a code of silence, they insist that each child conform to a dutiful role that preserves the dignity of the family, but the children are unable to keep up the façade and fumble along the way, jeopardizing their reputations. Rebounding from these mistakes isn't easy, but they manage to fine tune their performance and restore the sound distinction of their legacy. 

Under the spell of perfection, scattered memories rise to the crest when the children grow up, and as poignant truths of the past start to unravel, the foundation of everything the cousins revere begins to crumble, threatening to send each member of their raucous tribe tumbling off their mantle of power.

STORY 3

This furry tale tells the story of Fi-Nicky, a timid, but talented, moggy exiled from his colorful village and sentenced to the stark region of the Outer Sphere, leaving behind a sick mother and a life of dreams and purpose in this fanciful story of honor, justice, and redemption.

Bumpuss, an ill-tempered neighborhood bully, the Council of Whiskers, a defiled governing board, and The Order, an iniquitous decree that sets forth laws and edicts of the feline district, unite forces. With the overarching goal of subduing creativity and artistic expression, it rules with an iron paw, subduing individuality and establishing a world of programmed conformity.

Town residents, oppressed by the Council of Whiskers, rebel. Through organized protest, they rally against the corrupt authority, but the rulership strikes back, enacting harsh intimidation practices, stiff penalties, and lengthy incarcerations for insurrection.

The residents' revolt, strengthening their numbers, but this time the Council of Whiskers brings out the big guns with a new, chemically infused drug known as CatatonX, an addictive form of catnip designed to lull the senses, subdue neurological functions, and bring the citizens under complete and ultimate control.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: - 

Create a breakout title.

1.    Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess

2.    Cradle Cousins: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics  - Rhythms of a Family on the Edge

3.    Scatland

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: -

Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?

STORY 1

  • Roots (1976) by Alex Haley
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1903) by L. Frank Baum
  • Mulan: Five Versions of a Classic Chinese Legend with Related Texts (2010) Edited and Translated by Shiamin Kwa and Wilt L. Idema

Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess draws inspiration from Roots, the story on an 18th century African captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the iconic story of Dorothy, her ruby red slippers, and her search for home, and Mulan, the story of a young maiden who begins life in her cultural village where she becomes skilled in the martial arts and must rely on her early training and guidance from the ancestors to overcome adversity, meet her true-life destiny, and restore honor to her family.

Exploring thematic aspects of each of these stories, Emerald Slippers weaves a modern-day tale into an enchanting saga of a princess warrior abducted from her kingdom and transported a long way from home. Shielded by a unique family heirloom, a magical pair of Emerald Slippers, the story preserves themes of cultural identity, family honor, and fulfillment of destiny.

STORY 2.

  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (1975) by Ntozake Shange
  • The Friends (1974) by Rosa Guy

Cradle Cousins: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics is inspired by the colorful cadences and lyrical choreopoems of Ntozake Shange’s novel, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.  The story opens in the fictional setting of Wombsville, a community filled with urban harmonies, vibrant characters, and dialectal inflections delivered through song and spoken word. This evocative drama explores the unbreakable bond of two children and their dysfunctional families. Within their lives, relationships are tested and compromised through a lens of colorism and class consciousness, as explored in Rosa Guy’s novel, The Friends.

STORY 3 

  • The Lion King (1994) Screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton
  • Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939) by TS Elliott

Scatland, drawing inspiration from The Lion King and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, delves into the nature and psychology of Fi-Nicky, a young moggy exiled from the dreamy landscape of Oneiro Harbor and remanded to the Outer Sphere, where he is starved of inspiration and must somehow find a way to nourish his soul to save himself from demise and his shantytown from destruction.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: -

Write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound. 

1.   Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess

      A magical heirloom, stolen with an abducted princess, trails a lost generation of travelers in their long journey home.

2.   Cradle Cousin: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics - Rhythms of a Family on the Edge.

      Two lifelong companions, tormented by jarring childhood memories, are forced to revisit buried secrets, bruised egos, and mournful ballads in a family on the brink of success …(or disaster).

 3.  Scatland

      Fi-Nicky, banished to the Outer Sphere, a condemned community on the outskirts of the city emerges from exile to save his shantytown from destruction and restore it to its prior glory.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: -

Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the “secondary conflict” involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?

 1.  Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess

 

 

Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess is an enchanted tale of a magical pair of  shoes that travel across time and follow the saga of a young royal. The story unfolds in the civilization of Ngome Ya Kiatu, a mystical city in the mountains of Mlima Wa Mbinguni where Solena, a princess warrior is captured from her  homeland and sold into slavery.

 With only the clothes on her back and a simple pair of shoes, she is left bereft and vulnerable in an unknown land. The gravity of her circumstances strikes the cord of her heartstrings. While she has demonstrated great physical prowess in the past, the life she has been transported to is nothing close to anything she has ever experienced, and she is no longer confident in her ability to protect herself. Held in bondage, she goes through a stage of deep inner conflict resulting from the choices she has at her disposal. Her natural instincts tell her to fight, but dare she try to defend herself from the wrath of the slaveowners and brutal lash of the whip?

Contemplation of resistance and uprising versus compliance and self-preservation are key inner conflicts that continually play out during her period of captivity. Central to this struggle is her feeling of loss of family and country. She passes through the stages of grief and undergoes a long period of healing, along the way experiencing shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and working through, and acceptance and hope.

While these steps serve as the impetus for change and character growth, as demonstrated over the course of her journey in an unfamiliar land, they are constantly battling and shifting within her as she migrates along the path of an unsettling world.

Secondary, to these conflicts, are the challenges that emerge from the social environment as she passes down the unfamiliar customs and traditions of her birthland.  It is through these interactions that curiosities are raised among the plantation owners, slave women, and the lustful men that become intrigued with her performance. As the power of the magical slippers transforms her environment, it also brings unwelcome attention, sparking envy and suspicion in newly forged relationships that are crucial for her survival and search for home.

2.  Cradle Cousins: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics - Rhythms of a Family on the Edge

Cradle Cousins: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics, Rhythms of a Family on the Edge is a coming-of-age novel that explores the seesaw relationship between two girls as their upwardly mobile parents strive for success amid a period of political unrest and strident protests. Sparrow Sterling, brainy, shy, and timid, adores her favorite cousin and best friend, Laire Harper, a privileged  teenager who seems to have it all. Not only is she beautiful, popular, and sociable, but she also has wonderful parents—something Sparrow craves.

The two girls, born on the same date at the same hospital, are as close as sisters, but at the season of their thirteenth summer, things begin to change. The colors of their lives start to fade and the harmonious melodies that once filled their days of youth reduces to silence.

Competition swirls, and as Sparrow finds herself continually overshadowed by her exuberant cousin, resentment builds.  Laire, the unspoken favorite, is charismatic and sweet, yet she also has a side to her that is entitled and manipulative. Able to turn on the charm, she gains the advantage in most situations and manages to have the best of everything, so when Sparrow, who often gets the short end of the stick, discovers a secret that will rock her cousin’s picture-perfect world, a sneaky plot is hatched. Amid her plan for attack, the lives of the adults begin to ruin.

Sparrow, watching events spiral out of control, experiences a deep sense of inner conflict, vacillating between being secretly happy about her cousin’s misfortunes and guilty that she has been the one to set the pendulum in motion. Simultaneously, she also wrestles with family loyalties and betrayal of secrets, conflicts that further amplify when a life altering truth is finally revealed, causing each member to come to grips with the magnitude of what it means to bear the weight of forbidden knowledge and the price that come along with it, a discovery that will push one member over the crest of sanity.

3.   Scatland

Scatland is a furry tale about a young moggy named Fi-Nicky, a brilliant artist with a timid nature that made him a target for bullies. Believing himself inferior, he frequently doubted his abilities and consumed himself, daily, in perfecting his craft. 

In the open outdoors, he created inspiration. Oneiro Harbor, an enclave of dreams, is where he spent most of his days. Paint can in hand, he sprayed along a community wall. Starting with a dark outline of letters, he filled in the hollow spaces with bright, vibrant colors. Standing back, he read: 

             "It's your get up that shows your pedigree.”

The message, of large block letters, glistened boldly in the sun.

Admiring his handiwork, Fi-Nicky didn't notice the approach of Bumpuss, a cateran who disdained competition. Sneaking up behind him to examine the work, he grimaced at the quality and with furrowed brows began to taunt.

            “I’m about to lay paws on you,” he said.

            Fi-Nicky, the smaller of the two, turned round to face the shadow of a cat whose eyes were dark and mean.            

            “I didn’t do anything,” he said, his voice quivering with fright.

            “But you did,” Bumpuss retorted.  “And now you have to pay.”    

He leaned forward and flinched, causing Fi-Nicky to startle. The can of paint dropped and rolled onto the ground. From behind, the crisp voice of a Leaper shouted.

            “Leave him alone,” it said. “He won’t stand up for himself, but I will.”

The Leapers were well-known for interfering with The Order, ways of the Outer Sphere that were dictated by The Council of Whiskers.

            Bumpuss stopped in his tracks and turned round to face Tabius, a mangy, unfettered chap who looked as though he could handle a scrape or two.

            “Stay out of it,” Bumpuss warned.

            “I will not allow bullying on my grounds,” Tabius responded. “In case you’ve forgotten…”

He pounced. Without a moment’s delay, the two become a tangle of knots.

            Bumpuss appeared to have gotten the worst end of the scuffle. He lay on the ground with the old chap, Tabius, seated upon his chest.

            Fi-Nicky found his way out of the fracas and galloped home. His furry legs couldn’t carry him there fast enough.

*   *   *

Nganga had been summoned to a tent, in the corner of which laid a frail feline who was curled into a ball on top of an old cushion that had been placed inside a wicker basket. 

            “I have been told that I am dying,” the feline said. Her voice was frail and thin.

            “Retrovirus?” Nganga asked.

            The feline shook her head sadly.

            “The only thing I ask for is help with Fi-Nicky. He is a good child and will need someone to look after him, well after I am gone.”

            “What’s going on mother?” a timid voice rang from the doorway of the room.

Fi-Nicky had been standing there listening. No one had heard him enter. In an awkward silence, Nganga turned to depart.

            “I will leave you two to talk,” he said.      

Behind him, the eyes of a frightened mother and Fi-Nicky, the child she loved beyond measure, met across the room.

Meanwhile, Bumpuss was sore and bitter. Stopping to lick his wounds, he urged himself to proceed with a formal report. Lifting his chin and pulling up his chest, he forced himself to get a grip. Tail, tucked between his legs, he straightened it.  A respectable appearance is what he was going for, but his muscles ached. He limped along until reaching The Council of Whiskers. There, he informed his band of allies about the latest encounter.

Commissioning a board meeting, The Council agreed that the colony of artists would have to be regulated. Reaching consensus, they outlined a new set of laws to restrict their activities, but that wasn’t all. They now placed further sanctions on the residents. Given the most recent infractions, Fi-Nicky was to be made an example. The decree was set and recorded in The Order. He was to be banished to the Outer Sphere, a cold, mechanical world where life was measured and controlled without regard for individual expression.

Fi-Nicky was exiled at once. In the Outer Sphere, he was contained in an interment camp where he was starved of inspiration. Dispirited, he tried his best to remain calm and compliant with the hope that he would be sent back home soon, but the days stretch into months and the months stretched into years, and as he becomes older, maturity set in. Looking at himself in the reflection of a mirror, he was no longer the same. The progression of seasons had altered him. It was change that was marked, that day. by a letter from home. Delivered to him by a guardsman, he opened it and read, and thus he experienced a secondary conflict.

It was his mother. She had not long to live. Enduring the decree of exile was heartbreaking enough, but when Fi-Nicky received word that his mother had only a short number of days, he was devastated. In a separate paragraph, it was also written that the entire shantytown had been infiltrated with CatanonX, a government drug to dull the senses of the residents.

The situation looked bleak, not good at all.  With the people no longer able to advocate for themselves, the village was being demolished with a brand-new development being built for the Council of Whiskers. Fi-Nicky, incensed by the waggery of it all, felt a shift inside himself. His courage began to rise. Within a short period of time, he reached a decision. He was going to leave. Escape. With the goal of returning home to visit his mother one last time, Fi-Nicky was ready to face the town bully and rebuild Oneiro Harbor.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: -

Emerald Slippers: The Sole Chronicles of an Unknown American Princess

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Mlima Wa Mbinguni was a moorland so tall it was said that to have it climbed it one would see the gates of paradise. Hence, it was called Heavenly Mountain. At its foot was an expansive ocean with giant waves that crashed against the phalanges of jagged rock at the sole of its foundation. Surrounding it were the seven isles of Nguzo Saba: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity), and Imani (Faith).

Overlooking the isles was a stronghold built high upon a bluff of stone that served as the mantle place of the people of the sole.  Enclosed, within its quarters, was a garden that ebbed and flowed in precise symmetry along with four quadrants smartly divided by lengthy canals and springs of water that were interspersed along an abundant acreage of exotic trees and foliage meticulously arranged in an even pattern of distribution. At its center was a castle, Ngome Ya Kiatu, an oddly shaped bastion that had stood proud and firm for five generations in the dynasty of Soleville.  It was here that Solena stumbled and fell.

Cradle Cousins: Black Lullabies and Blue Lyrics - Rhythms of a Family on the Edge

Wombsville, a small hamlet on the West Side of Manhattan, was an area where Sistahs in all colors, shapes, and sizes reigned supreme. It was the birthplace of rhythm and the heart space of blues, a vibrant neighborhood on the edge of greatness. Located along the outer region of the city, its topography was diagramed on the town map as an inverted triangle, overlayed with outstretched arms and fimbriae.  Affectionally dubbed a haven for women, the neighborhood, once frequented by horses and buggies, now showcased an array of prewar brownstones, subsidized co-ops, and a Federal housing project. It was a lively community on the precipice of change.

The story unfolds along Fallopian Street where Black angels, carved into a wrought iron fence, was the last of what remained of a citadel that had been erected to protect enslaved Africans who fled the Antebellum South and found refuge in the welcome embrace of a community where hope and fertility was celebrated as a place of new beginnings.

Visitors were invited to enter through a gate described as an original construction of old-world workmanship. At its center was an aperture, a hollow space with the shape of a large, flat head, ringed neck, and tubular body with small arms that stuck out from its sides.  Made to resemble the form of a woman, it was referred to as an Akua’ba, a symbol of fruitfulness, designed to unlock with an iron key. When opened, the door swung back to reveal a cobble stone path that carried with it a song, as its hinges spring forth a melody of chords that set the tone for love, harmony, and sisterly embrace through an archetype that had been carefully chosen as a trope of divine ordination. So, begins the story.

Scatland

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Learn. Oneiro Harbor, a shantytown of dwellings along a boating pier, was a purlieu for scribblers. A scraggly group, they expressed themselves through the fine art of graffito. Occupying their days with Scratchery, a unique form of spray tags, handwritten scrawls, and a colorful arrangement of wall paintings, they spent their days decorating along a block of brick and mortar.

For the most part, the residents were vagrants purposed with survival. Living out of makeshift tents and homes of eclectic textiles, they referred to this place as home. A long stretch of the imagination, it served as a refuge to those in the outer sphere of life.

Caboodle. Lined up along the street were brittle boxes of cardboard. Its corrugated packaging repelled the scent of rotting fish. It wasn’t entirely effective, of course, but modestly helpful, nonetheless. The shelter, a series of connected square and rectangular cubicles, served as a barrier that extended well into the air. Across the street, from that row of crooked crags, a cadre of warehouses stood, firmly, at attention. It was there that a creature peeked from the frame of a window overlooking the slush of contaminated river water where two toughs were squaring off, or so it seemed.

 

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