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New York Pre-Event Assignments - June 2021

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NINETY DAYS IN THE '90s   —  7 assignments


Darby Perdue is not—repeat not—experiencing FOMO. (Or, is she?) She’s failed on Wall Street and failed in her relationships. Now she’s returned home to Chicago to take over Revolver Records, a choice music Mecca once owned by her recently departed favorite uncle, Martin.  Her days at the record store are fun and filled with chats and debates about music, thanks to Spacey and the shop's other colorful and opinionated employees. But Darby regrets some of her life decisions and commitment-phobia. She longs for her carefree twenties. Little does she know a time machine rumbles under her feet. 

Chicago 1996: Grunge is preeminent. Concertgoers are crowd surfing. Seinfeld has the world laughing. Bands like Smashing Pumpkins rescue our ears from Celine Dion and hair metal. And it's the year Darby left her music critic job—along with Lina, her true love.

Darby finds and hops onto the legendary but forgotten Grey Line train, she time travels back to the '90s and ends top back in a golden age where she fits in better than ever. Once she's back, Darby wants to make amends with her long lost love, Lina, but that's easier said than done. And Darby’s got 90 days to return to the present or stay in the past forever. Both options are tempting, but Darby has to face the music. 


One of Darby’s dilemmas—one she also reconciles—is her commitment issues. However, in two cases in the novel there is the ex’s new lover, which serves as an antagonist, but not a major one.

Perhaps to give a bad (?) but similar example, in Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity, Rob’s ex Laura ends up with Ian, a peevish old hipster with terrible taste in music and clothes that irks Rob and exposes his insecurities.

But as Any reader of this book discovers, Ian is not the problem, but Rob is Rob’s problem when it comes to his relationships. I did not model my story after Hornby’s, but there is a similar situation in two instances, with two relationships that Darby messes up. In each—both with Lina (her long lost love) and Rachel (her “new” girlfriend she picks up when going back to the 1990s)—Darby’s aloofness and non-commitment drives them away. And as is typical, the ex gets a new lover.

But in the end, Darby gets real with her issues and finds that her breakup with Lina is easily fixed, and also could have been solved long ago—the first time she lived in the 1990s.



Working titles (in chronological order) are as follows. I have settled on the final one as it is the most direct and hook-oriented. But I'm a still open to feedback.

Pointless Destinations — from June 2017 to early 2019, first “final draft" and initial query. Fixed some problems with the time-travel method and rules of time travel. Hired a pricey but helpful developmental editor. Changed the gender of the protagonist for a variety of reasons.

Massive Transit — Fall 2019 to mid-2020, post developmental edit. Hired a second editor to do a shorter follow-up consultation. Strengthened a major character (Spacey, Darby’s “agent provocateur” in the time-travel.) Second query round.

Ninety Days in the ‘90s —  Feb 2021 to June. Cut 30,000 words and some exposition. "Final" 8th draft at 78,000 words.



In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle. When type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan is asked at the most important interview of her career — "Where do you see yourself in five years? — she has a meticulously crafted answer ready. After nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend's marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. She turns on the news to find it is the same night but five years in the future.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. There’s a library with an endless number of books, and each offers readers a chance to try another life they could have lived. Nora finds herself immersed with the possibility of a different one. Undoing old breakups, realizing other dreams; and she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what life is truly fulfilling.


Darby is a nostalgic record store owner who wishes she could grant herself “a do-over” to fix some life decisions. Once she time travels back to the 1990s, she finds difficulty breaking her old ways and commitment phobia—and also that she may be enjoying herself too much to fix her problems.

(one line version, below)

Darby is a nostalgic record store owner who time travels for a life “do-over”—but once she's back in the 1990s she finds that she is enjoying herself a little too much, and that's the problem.



Darby's main inner conflict is that she has made decisions she regrets. She quickly left Chicago in 1996 for a better life in New York City, triggered by her failed relationships.

But after her fiancé breaks up with her and her illustrious Wall Street career is ruined by some bad trades, she's back at square one. Taking over her uncle's awesome record store gives her a chance to rebound, plus free rent. But she feels bad about not staying connected with Uncle Martin and about blowing it with Lina long ago, and then blowing it in New York. 

The "back to the 1990s" trip represents Darby's "second" second chance, but also plays with themes of nostalgia and "golden age thinking" but from a Gen X music snob's perspective. Yet, when Darby makes it back to her "golden age" (meaning she actually time travels back to the '90s) she has to deal with its imperfections (which she forgot) as well as her own issues (commitment phobia, impulsive decision making, a grass-is-greener mentality) and how these effect her life. 

In a short list, the inner conflicts she must deal with are a mix of generational concepts:

  • regret
  • fear of missing out
  • fear of commitment
  • taking responsibility for your mistakes instead of escaping from them



Sorry for the length here, but the scenery is very tied to the scene work, and action within it.

Part 1. (Ch 1-6, first 30 pages), Chicago, the present.

Darby runs a record store called Revolver Records, situated in Chicago's hippest neighborhood called Bucktown. She spends her days running the shop as a part of her attempt to "start over." At the shop she talks music trivia and history with Spacey, who is sort of a more fun and younger version of herself. When she gets her nerve up Darby meets up with her old friend Tam, who tells Darby that she is happily "going off-grid" for a while but without much detail. Later that day after beers with Tam, Darby meets a tavern local who babbles about an old urban legend—the Grey Line city train that time travels to other decades. All of it gets Darby's gears turning and when she discovers the Grey Line is real she plots a trip bay to '90s to remake her life in a better way.

Part 2.  Chicago 1996 (September- late November)

Darby returns Labor Day 1996. Right before this day (the first time) her relationship with Lina ended on a bad note and her best friend Spiro had ditched her on a friends trip in Europe, deciding to stay in Paris. But she's back now, on the exact day she left and none of her friends know that she left for another life in NYC (because she does not go off to New York, that other life essentially cancelled). She snaps back in easily. She re-ups her friendships. Next thing she knows, she's crowdsurfing at concerts and inadvertently gets her old music writer job back. But after she approaches Lina—and things don't go well—Darby meets Rachel, a funny, sarcastic and beautiful redhead. Being back in the 1990s is so good Darby is not sure why she left. Had she not left, things would have been perfect—so she thinks.

Part 3. Chicago 1995 and Amsterdam/Paris 1995

Out of sequence, but important scenes about how and why Lina and Darby's relationship failed, followed by a "friends trip" to Europe, where fun mayhem ensues. Spiro, a free spirit and graduate student without "a real job" and responsibility, decides not to go back to the US with Darby. Both disappointments lead her to make the rash decision to move to New York (on Labor Day 1996). Darby also has a fling with Nancy, a divorcee—and this causes problems later. 

Part 4: Chicago 1996 (early December)

Back in Chicago, just after Thanksgiving everything seems perfect for Darby. She likes her job, loves the mid 1990s and is immersed in its music and pop culture scene. And she's got a beautiful girlfiend she thinks she is in love with. Darb's 90 day time pass device has expired, so she is stuck in the 1990s. But it's all good.

Rachel returns from Thanksgiving with an announcement. Rachel is moving to Washington DC for a dream job, and breaks up with Darby. While Darby tries salvage things and suggested a long-distance relationship, maybe coming with, Rachel reveals that back home she reconnected with an old boyfriend, and that she didn't think Darby was "that into" the relationship. 

After being dumped and now stuck in the 1990s, Darby also finds that Lina is with someone else. She's been passed over by Lina for a preppy, bring nerd and by Rachel for a guy that Darby imagines as a glamorous but vain "surfer dude." That said, Darby's failures are her own doing and takes steps to reconcile them in her new perfect-turned-imperfect life in the 1990s. 

Part 4: Early 1997

A few days after New Years, Darby is plugging away at City Scene's office, writing record reviews. A guest drops in and it's Spacey, who has dropped in from 2021 "to check in" on Darby. Spacey, ever the music aficiado is also time traveling to catch some legendary concerts and gives Darby another charged time-pass device, which she can use to bail and go back to 2021 and her life as a record store owner. She's touched and happy to see Spacey, but stays for now in 1997.

Weeks later, Darby is out ands about on a Saturday to review a band she once discovered called Dreaded Letters. Her favorite band is also one that becomes mega famous and could be her ticked to her own fame as a music writer. With a few hours to kill she hits a bar, then stops by Lina's house. Instead, she blows off the legendary concert and ends up getting back together with Lina. The next day, Darby tosses her time-pass device in the Chicago River, sealing her fate of staying back in the 1990s. Then again she's dealt with her issues and mostly fixed them.

Part 5: 2021, Chicago

Darby is an accomplished and well known music writer and is getting ready to receive a prestigious award. Lina's parents are in town to babysit their son Marty for the evening. Lina is more excited about Darby's big night than Darby is, and gives Darby a card with a lovey message in it (and they joke about this). Inside is a gift card for a new record store called Spacey's Sounds, formerly Revolver Records. 



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1. Story Statement:

A once-confident mom must navigate a mental health maze, bash stigmas, let go of judgments, and embrace a radical love and acceptance to help her daughter make it out of high school alive.

Or, more simply: A mom must help her mentally ill daughter make it out of high school alive.


2. Antagonist:

Faith is nine when the story starts and seventeen when it ends. She excels in school, sports, music, and friendships. Her smile lights the room. She charms every human and animal she meets. She also sends naked pictures of herself to anyone who asks, slices up her arm to dull her emotional pain, and fights the urge to commit suicide.

Faith has depression, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder. Eventually she is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She sucks up all the oxygen in the room. She lashes out, lies, and blames. She's boy crazy until she comes out as bi and then gay. She's outspoken and passionate, argumentative and loving. A risk-taker and leader.

She has a twin brother who broke her heart in kindergarten when they were separated at school. She wants more than anything for them to be close, but he isn't interested in such an intense relationship. Her younger brother is sweet and friendly, and Faith wishes she could be more like him. She has a mom and dad who love her but will not stop parenting her. She wishes they would back off and let her hit rock bottom where she believes she belongs. 


3. Title: 

Breath for Breath

(I've thought about titles playing on the name Faith, but everything sounds too religious, which is a big misdirection.) 


4. Genre/Comps:

Breath for Breath is upmarket memoir. Comps include:

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, 2008, Houghton Mifflin. This is an excellent comp because it's about a parent dealing with a teen's problem. Breath for Breath is from a mom's perspective, not a dad's. It's about a daughter, not a son. And it's about mental illness, not drug addiction. The only problem with this comp is that it's so old. But it's still a big seller, and it was turned into a major motion picture, so maybe that's okay? 

There I Am by Ruthie Lindsey, Gallery Books 2020. Although this memoir has nothing to do with mental illness, it's about optimism, healing, and the love of family, which are also themes in Breath for Breath. It's current and written by a debut, non-celebrity author. It has 459 reviews on Amazon and reached #47 on the ABA IndieBound hardcover non-fiction list. One thing Lindsey has that I don't is a big social media following. However, I do have a publishing history.

Good Morning, Monster by Catherine Gildiner, St. Marten's Press 2020. A therapist shares five heroic stories of emotional recovery. 776 reviews on Amazon. Gildiner is an author and psychologist. 


5. Hook Line:

After the heartache of infertility, a mom gives birth only to discover she's at a complete loss parenting her out-of-control daughter. She must navigate a mental health maze, bash stigmas, and let go of judgment to help her daughter make it out of high school alive. 

(Core wound is feeling like she's not a good mom.)


6. Inner Conflict

Mom worries she's not a good mom. This plays out throughout the story as everything Mom tries to do to help Faith isn't effective. One scenario in particular where this shows up is when mental health professionals suggest 14-year-old Faith be sent away to a wilderness program and therapeutic boarding school. Having a kid who needs to be sent away feels like getting a failing grade in motherhood to Mom. She vacillates between wanting to send Faith away to get the help the professionals say she needs vs. worrying about being a helicopter mom and swooping in too soon. She wonders if Faith is simply a tough teen or truly mentally ill. She is afraid to make a decision because of the fear of making the wrong move. She doesn't trust that she's a good enough mom who can make good enough decisions.

Secondary Conflict

Mom is also in conflict with the other moms in her community, and that brings up wounds from her middle school days when the popular girls wanted nothing to do with her. These moms have their own drama and social maneuvering. Mom is on the outskirts of their group, and as Faith's behavior becomes more troublesome, the other moms judge and distance themselves from Mom and Faith. There are several scenes where this is apparent. For example, Faith and her friends ditch a friend at the mall and lie to Mom about it when she picks the girls up. Later that night, the truth comes out that the girl was left alone at the mall, and the parents of that girl are furious with Mom for being foolish enough to be duped by the girls. Mom is embarrassed that she looks bad to these parents and also angry at Faith for lying to her. She's also sad and somewhat bitter that the other parents were all out at a fun event without her while she was doing the driving. And she's ashamed of herself, leading her to believe again that she's not a good mom.


7. Setting

The story takes place from 2004-2013 in Deerfield, Illinois, a tony suburb of Chicago where people are mostly white, mostly Jewish, and mostly upper or upper-middle class. Faith is friends with a group called The Sweet Sixteen, sixteen beautiful, powerful, socially smart, wounded girls. Their moms are also a force to be reckoned with in the school and community. This homogenous community turns out to be just about the worst place Faith could be raised. If you look like everyone else on the surface, it's much harder to be yourself if that self is different from the rest.

Another aspect of the setting is the family unit. Mom had three kids in 19 months. She's a children's book author whose characters make sense to her, but as hard as she tries, she cannot make sense of Faith. Her husband travels a lot for work, and she is generally overwhelmed with taking care of the three kids, two cats, one house, and a writing career. 


8. Additional note based on the readings about memoirs:

Lessons learned that I hope readers will get from this memoir:

Our job as parents is not to shape our children into the people we want them to be. Instead, it's to discover who they are and love and accept them so completely that they have the power to shape themselves.

There's no such thing as an A- mom. If you are doing the job with love and good intention, you pass. You are good enough. That's all you have to be.

Mental illness in teens can look like phases. It can be confusing. There is a stigma surrounding mental illness that makes it hard to accept it in your child. You must work against that.

The most important thing you can do is validate and empathize with your child's feelings, even if you strongly disagree with their behaviors.

Life is long. Childhood is long. The work you're doing as a parent might not seem effective in the moment, but keep doing the best you can and play the long game. You're doing great. 





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Logline: In THE BURNOUT GIRLS, 14-year-old Mary Whalen teams up with her best friend Anne to find the real-life Oakland County Killer as their quest takes them through the dangerous streets of Detroit, battles with rich kids, and a new threat no one would suspect. 








Maureen Aitken




The Burnout Girls is a 90,000-word, upmarket novel inspired by the real-life Oakland County Killer of the 1970s, in which 14-year-old Mary Whalen sets out to solve the murder of her grade-school classmate Jill Robinson.

Mary wants to escape the grief of her father’s death and her mother’s new marriage by solving the mystery that has always haunted her. When her friend Anne suggests they do it together, their quest takes them to dangerous city streets, and surrounding suburbs, where they soon learn there are many more exploitations going on than just one serial killer. When Anne, who is bi-racial, insults a local rich white boy, he vows revenge. Mary and Anne must team up to conquer their biggest threat, not from the serial killer, but from the one guy people least suspect.

The Burnout Girls is The Girls meets Ordinary Grace and reflects our sexual-predator culture, where girls are “meat” according to Anne’s mom. The novel captures the moody 1979-1980 post-riot period of Detroit, steeped in class, gender, and race conflicts that continue to fester in our current public consciousness. The book has been praised by Pam Houston, who has offered to contribute a blurb when the book is published.

My traditionally published short-story collection, The Patron Saint of Lost Girls, won the Nilsen Prize, the Foreword Review INDIE Prize (General Fiction, Gold Winner) and was listed as one of the top Kirkus Indie books of 2019. The collection received a Kirkus Star and a Foreword Star. My writing has received numerous grants and awards, including Ireland’s Fish Short Story Prize. My short stories and journalism pieces have been published in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, and the international anthology, The Bering Strait and Other Stories. My co-written short screenplay “Squeak” was an official selection in four film festivals and won Best Dark Comedy at the Reno Film Festival. I grew up in Detroit and teach writing at the University of Minnesota.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


Maureen Aitken



1.     Story Statement

When friends 14-year-old bookworm Mary Whalen and 15-year-old Anne set on a quest to find a serial killer who murdered their grade school classmate,  they discover the rampant exploitation of girls, including a perpetrator who wants to destroy them.


2.     Antagonist Sketch

Tim, the 15-year-old golfer preppie, is a great stalker, because no one believes it. He flaunts his money and fuels his anger with drinking and parties. Tim has everything anyone would ever want, so why go after two girls who are beneath him in breading, cash, and power.

When Mary and Anne snub Tim, they ignore the socioeconomic and racial expectations that keep a kid like Tim in power. Anne, who is bi-racial, calls him boring, and refuses to answer his calls.

Tim’s revenge starts slowly, with phone calls at all hours, but soon, it builds into escalating predator actions. Soon, they recognize Tim as the more socially acceptable version of the serial killer they seek. Tim does massive damage before the girls know they need to take him down.


3.     Breakout Title - Genre: Literary Fiction

The Burnout Girls

The Six Mile Stalker

Six Mile

The Girls of Detroit


4.     Comparables

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger - The death of Bobby Cole disrupts a small Minnesota town and especially impacts the narrator, Frank Drum, who with a friend tries to get to the heart of what happened. 

The Girls by Emma Cline - Evie, a 14-year-old girl, gets involved with a cult commune and must confront the reality of this group to extricate herself. As in my novel, girls are often seen as easy marks for older men looking to achieve power.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch – The story of Astrid, who is pushed into foster care after her mother’s incarceration, is similar to my book in its deep connection to place, and its story of an at-risk girl forced into adulthood.

Them by Joyce Carol Oates – praised by The Nation for her “potent, life-gripping imagination,” Joyce Carol Oates tells the story of a young dreamer in Detroit, whose children, Maureen and Jules, must face the turbulent, violent streets of Detroit. This novel reflects my own focus on post-riot Detroit, and how children cope with its dangers and class/race conflicts.

Carrie by Stephen King – King’s classic book acts as a blueprint for Anne and Mary, who want to get even with the golf-addicted exploiter, Tim.


5.       Logline

If Mary wants to let go of her father’s death, she needs to smoke a lot of weed, chase guys, and find the Oakland County Killer, who murdered their former classmate. At least, that’s what her 15-year-old friend Anne thinks: live in the moment and fear nothing.

But dreams of wild nights and freedom are quickly derailed when Anne, who is biracial, insults a rich white boy. When he attacks Anne, Anne and Mary get even, but soon learn revenge only fuels the fire of hatred. Instead, they must risk their own lives to confront the evil that is too close to home.


6.     Inner Conflict and Secondary/Social Conflict

Inner Conflict 1: Mary’s profound loss of her father drives her into a personal despair, even as she starts high school.  Her mother has moved on with a new husband and a new baby. She reacts by reading absurdist authors, wearing all black clothes, and tooling past abandoned buildings with her friend Anne.

But when her best friend gets in trouble, Mary musters the strength to work alongside her to fight of this predator. That action will help Mary uncover her inner strength and resolve

Secondary (Social) Conflict: In trying to find the Oakland County Killer puts Mary and Anne in harms way at a gas station, a golf course, and more than one party. They take risks to uncover who might have killed a string of children. But in looking for “who” they discover how the pervasive exploitation of girls is not just a serial killer problem. It’s pervasive in the urban streets of Detroit and its richest suburbs.  


7.     Setting

The setting is 1979-1980, post-riot Detroit. Mary and Anne are in a Nova, driving underage through the hot summer night in the city, rumbled down 6 Mile, past the gas station with the bulletproof windows, the corner store where the riot fencing wrapped around storefronts like fishnets. Here pedestrians carrying plastic bags, the glint of cigarette butts striking red on the inhale against the darkness.

The system had wronged Mary and Anne, just as it had wronged everyone in our view, the gas station managers, the corner store owners, and the rib shack vendors. They had moved into the shells of storefronts abandoned by post-riot malaise. People had hand-painted signs above their doors, and sat behind counters, with nervous, hopeful eyes, believing that time and need was on their side.

A guy on the street says, “You wanna suck my dick, bitch?” in the middle of the day, like he was saying good morning. In doing this he had stolen something, some energy or power. Even people in the suburbs were murdered. Jill Robinson went to grade school with Mary and Anne, then she moved to Royal Oak, then she was killed by The Oakland County Killer. No adult could find the guy. So now, it’s up to Mary and Anne to uncover the truth.


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Russian Roulette


)      The Act of Story Statement:

Torrie Trace struggles to understand and fill the hole at his center, and ultimately resists the controllers who have stolen his youth, threaten his present, and seek to predict his future.

2)      The Antagonist Plots the Point:

Torrie’s antagonist is the smoke-filled inner sanctum of The Kremlin, where embattled and divided KGB force elements careen between destiny decisions that will define and decide who he is, what he knows, and whether he lives.  Between the Russian generals - and the Central Committee policies they seek to represent – and the darker worlds within the mafia that foment supporting nefarious actions, the goal of the protagonist is to use Torrie as a secret weapon to implode the United States democracy, by degree and decree.  From Vlad the Inhaler to Ivan the Shareable, Ulsa Vandrovich to Gennady Kornienko, and even Vladimir Putin himself, there are billions invested in a tired beta experiment that will either see the rise of Russia to lone superpower, or the destruction of deeply clutched political careers.

3)      Conjuring the Breakout Title:

Russian Roulette

Without a Trace

The Rise of New Utrecht


4)      Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comps:

a)       The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum – A secret asset loses his memory on a covert operation and becomes a reckless free agent

b)      Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,  John LeCarre – A disenfranchised star asset retires to a life he has trouble reconciling only to return to a spy world he no longer knows or can trust

Each represent the story within the story being told concurrently, which I believe offers double the risk-reward for both the writer and the reader.


5)      Core Wound and Primary Conflict: Two Levels

Torrie is known by millions of fans, but not himself.  The conflict is at once the reason he struggles as a person as well as the reason he is successful as an actor.

6)      Other Matters of Conflict:

When it comes to his stolen past Torrie must grieve.  In his lost present he must fight for survival.  As for the hastily planned future, the survival of a society is at risk.  In the middle of it all is a romance with Brooklyn Delaney and the separations they must endure.


Brooklyn’s own fractured past causes her to settle for too little when it comes to Torrie Trace, but as she discovers that Torrie is and can be more than she possibly imagined, she realizes that she actually desires and deserves that, too.


There are deep, dramatic and volatile conflicts with the antagonist, as well – which is of course represented by the smoke-filled room in the Kremlin.  In these rooms a wild battle for supremacy of vision and legacy ensues between once and future regime leaders.  The stakes are more than that, in fact, they too are life and death, not only for Torrie Trace and potentially millions of Americans, but also for the losers of the arguments within Mother Russia.


Both Torrie and Brooklyn have attachment and Daddy issues, which also both get resolved by the end of the book.


The New Utrecht team meanwhile, starts as a rag-tag collection of diffident and disillusioned gray-market opportunists that comes together as a band of brothers who fight for each other and for something much more.


7)      The Incredible Importance of Setting:

The novel begins in the make-believe present of Hollywood within a fictional tale, and shifts to the past in a Southern California where a Marine Corps veteran, who would become the actor in the opening scene, returns from duty in the Middle East. 

The story re-enters Hollywood make-believe before it crash lands in the real world again in a Los Angeles our protagonist must now flee.  From there the anonymity of Mexico and a rescue mission in Moscow. 

Side stories take the reader back to the 1980s: specifically, the streets of Belfast and deserts of Afghanistan.  Ultimately action comes back from Russia to the United States, this time in New York and New Jersey.

The global scale of setting is absolutely critical to the scope and staging of the expansive story, while at the same time offering the reader a far-flung experience within the connective tissues of time and place.

In the first part of the book – which takes place in the United States – nothing is as it should be, whether in Hollywood or the real world, which threatens and menaces at every turn.  In Belfast and Afghanistan, the world is decided in moments of luck, verve, and soldier-of-fortune pluck amidst utter chaos. In Russia where nothing is certain, all is supremely controlled.  Back in America where things should be settled, nothing is; until the very end.


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Eradicate systemic corruption to ensure a safer global community 


The dark-monied Verity Family with a global web of co-conspirators prioritize wealth above humanity. At all costs, they stamp out benevolence to accumulate power and influence while hiding behind a veil of philanthropy. 


The Super Globals

The Super Globals of 175 Rivington

The Super Globals and the Verity Artifice 

The Super Globals and Money Craft


Alex Rider, Cherub, City Spies, The Hunger Games (in theme)


After a mysterious explosion destroys their apartment building in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and devastates their families, five diverse teen strangers come together to fight an underground dark money chain that threatens their racial, socioeconomic, first generation, and sexual identities. 


Can she have equal opportunity despite the color of her skin, can he be accepted as possibly queer, can he have friends and remain innocent within a fast-paced world, can she maintain her family ethics in the face of enticing wealth, can he calm his anger through a male love interest


Manhattan. The protagonists live in its Lower East Side and adventure throughout the  city and its environs. NYC is the sixth character. Its architecture, diversity of human experience; its rich history. The Super Globals run through the streets of the Lower East Side, Red Hook, over the Brooklyn Bridge; work at ABC Kitchen and a tech start-up located in The Limelight; enjoy Coney Island; attend a press conference at The United Nations; and infiltrate a gala at Lincoln Center. The climax is held in hurricane-like conditions on the steps of The Metropolitan Museum. They get woo’ed by an evening at a mansion in the Hamptons, a Tribeca penthouse and a private escape in the Cayman Islands.


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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Story Statement. 

In 1895, an enigmatic father-daughter duo hunts a creature that's terrorizing a Pennsylvania mining town, only to uncover a bigger mystery and the true threat behind the recent bloodshed.


Initially, a ghoul-like creature appears to be the only antagonist. Through their investigation, Gideon and Rose unmask the organization responsible of the creature’s existence. A secretive alchemist group known as The Chimera Society is working from the shadows, devising the next stage in human and societal evolution. They use outcasts and vulnerable people in their ruthless experiments, which puts them in conflict with Gideon and Rose, who are flawed heroes but consistent in their defense of the downtrodden.

The face of The Chimera Society is the cunning and merciless Caspian, but he’s not alone. Caspian unleashes corrupt Pinkertons and hideous creations in order to eliminate those who have caught on to his plans. The fight the evil Chimera Society has begun in the small, blue collar town of Haughtogis Point.


(*take note that the story is book 1 of a planned series)

Ghoul: A Gideon Wells Mystery


 FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Genre/Comparables

Gothic Fantasy (with elements of Mystery, Horror, and Comedy)

Theodora Goss (The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter)

David Wong (John Dies at the End)

 FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Core Wound and Primary Conflict 

After a Victorian-era investigator and his eccentric daughter become entangled in the machinations of a ruthless scientist, they fight through monsters and the trauma of their past in order to stop the nightmarish experiments that are occuring.

 SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Secondary and Inner Conflict 

Gideon, an escapee of high society, acts the part of a carefree jester, but inside he carries barely constrained rage. His anger is toward high society and its abuses of the lower class, but he's also angry at himself because of the people he has hurt or failed to save during his investigations.

An example of these conflicts can be seen in early chapters of the story. When the Haughtogis Point mystery opens these old wounds, his wit gives way to wrath, and his initial encounters with the Ragiston family are a disaster. Claude Ragiston wants Gideon to stop the monster that killed his father, but Gideon sees in the Ragistons a different kind of monster, one that abuses and harasses their workers. After several drinks, Gideon’s grudge become unrestrained, and his loose tongue drives a wedge between him and the people he works for.


The setting is 1890s Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. The town of Haughtogis Point is fictional, but many locations and details are real, giving a sense of history for readers who enjoy historical fiction. The town is a powder key, with miners protesting against the Ragiston Corporation and their Pinkertons thugs. Similar situations have arisen in nearby towns and lead to deadly battles. Orphans, minorities, and the homeless are especially oppressed.

This is the situation Gideon and Rose face as they hunt the monster and try to figure out its origins. By day, the protagonists take up residence in the decrepit Ragiston mansion. At night they search the streets and get entangled in the Pinketon/miner clash. In between brawls with the locals and fights with the ghoul inside the mansion, they're attacked by a another monstrous threat. Through these events, they uncover fortress tunnels beneath the town, remnants from when Haughtogis Point was used as a British fort. The abandoned tunnels connect to a secret research facility, the source of the town's ills.

In addition to these events, Gideon and Rose both pen letters to their benefactor. The letters bring clarity to the investigation details, inject moments of humor, and provide insight into the real, hurting minds of our heroes.

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#1 Act of Story Statement
Story statement: Convinced she’s to blame for the death of her family in a boating accident when she was six, and later for the car crash that killed her husband, a young widow punishes herself by retreating from life. If she wants to find joy in her life again, she must find a way to forgive herself and truly believe she deserves that forgiveness.

Shorter version: To find the happiness she longs for, a guilt-ridden young widow must forgive herself for the tragedies in her past that were beyond her control.

#2 Antagonistic Forces
The story conflict is Man vs Self, and the biggest antagonistic force in the story is a component of the protagonist, Emma Hill
Emma Hill 
-thin, five foot eight with size ten feet, frizzy auburn curls, and grey eyes
-former photojournalist
-loves slippers, her cat Henry, her Nana Jo, and her best friend and sister-in-law, Jane Matakoro.

Inner Conflict: Due to her deep wounds, Emma is convinced she doesn’t deserve to be happy. In the three years since her husband’s accident, Emma has withdrawn from life. She quit her high-paying job and now does gig work as a photographer. Recently she’s been consistently late with deadlines and is in danger of losing her clients. Her house is a 60-year-old wreck that is slowly falling apart. 
She’s been avoiding the people she loves as a form of self-punishment. Lately she doesn’t even answer their calls unless they yell at her. She’s given up on selfcare, her clothes are old and baggy, and her hair is a mess. She only goes out under duress, preferring to stay at home with her beloved cat Henry, and knit. She’s lost her passion for life and is sinking further into a rut every day. 
The main story conflict is between Emma’s secret longing to find peace and be happy again, and her deep-rooted belief that she does not deserve this. 

Outer conflicts: to find out the reason for all the odd coincidences involving Nantucket.
To uncover her family’s connections to Nantucket, that her grandmother won’t tell her about, insisting she needs to find out for herself. And eventually to reconcile the feelings she has for Jonathon with her belief she doesn’t deserve to be happy.

#3 Titles
The Unraveling of Emma Hill: This title has a double meaning. Emma’s life is unraveling at the beginning of the story, but when she gets to Nantucket and learns about the tragic history of her ancestors, she unravels the threads of her past and learns how they connect to her future.
Just a Little Push: This is line is delivered to Emma two times by two different secondary characters, Nana Jo, and Bert the old butler at the inn she stays at, and a third time at the very end of the book, again by Bert, when she finds out who he really is. I like this title because a little push is just what Emma needs to take stock of her life and realize she needs to make some changes.

The Not So Gentle Art of Letting Go: Emma must let go of the past and forgive herself, Jonathon must do the same, Bert has mostly achieved this, and Jane is in the process of doing so.

#4 Genre and Comparables:

Genre: upmarket women's fiction with speculative elements.

1. Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand—About a woman who dies and gets three chances to alter the lives of the people she’s left behind (like the ghost in my story.) It takes place on the island of Nantucket.
2. Virgin River by Robyn Carr —similar back story about a woman struggling to cope with the death of her husband in a car accident following a fight about whether or not to keep trying to get pregnant. 
3. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen—a story about second chances, with a touch of magic

#5. Hook Line
A guilt-ridden young widow travels to the island of Nantucket and meets the ghost of her great, great grandfather and a troubled young widower in a wheelchair, sending her past and future on a collision course that might just bring the happiness she longs for.

#5. Core Wound and Primary conflict
Core Wound
Emma experienced severe emotional trauma at age six, when her family was killed in a boating accident that she believes she was responsible for. This wound is re-opened and deepened, when, at age 32, her husband is killed in a car accident shortly after they have a massive fight. 

Primary Conflict
When Emma was six, she didn’t listen to her parent’s warnings, leaned too close to the end of the boat, and fell out. As they swung around to come back to pick her up, they collided with another boat, and all died. She blamed herself and suffered severe PTSD, with panic attacks and night terrors. When she moved in with her grandparents, she worried they would die, too. This fear turned her into a nervous, risk-averse little girl. Herr grandparents worked hard with Emma’s psychiatrist and counsellor to help her overcome this trauma. 

In university Emma met her best friend’s brother. They married after a slow-burning courtship. During their marriage, multiple miscarriages triggered her guilt slightly and made her reluctant to share details about her pregnancies.

Three years before the start of the story, Emma, 21 weeks pregnant—the longest she’s carried a baby—finds out this baby has fatal birth defects. Because of her past losses, and against medical advice, she refuses to terminate the pregnancy, endangering her own life. Her husband is furious with her decision. Grief stricken and angry with the world, she screams at him and calls him a murderer. He walks out on her, drives away, and is killed in a car accident.

Emma is blames herself for his death. She’s convinced he could have avoided the SFU that crossed the center line if he hadn’t been so upset.

They hadn’t told anyone about the baby yet, and she tells no one about their fight. Especially not Jane, her BFF, who is her late husband’s sister. She thinks Jane would never forgive her if she found out the truth. She loses the baby anyway, ten days later. Her PTSD is triggered by the accident and losing the baby.

Keeping the truth hidden exhausts Emma, especially when combined with her grief Over the next three years, despite counselling, her life unravels. 

#6 Other Matters of Conflict
1. Nana Jo is Emma’s only family. But she’s as big a risk taker as Emma is risk averse. Emma worries constantly about Nana, who still downhill skis and practises karate, worried she will hurt herself, or worse, die.
2. Jane is also a risk taker, in love. She goes through partners like a hot knife through butter and constantly has her heart broken. Emma worries about her too.
3. Later, after a string of inexplicable coincidences involving Nantucket, Emma finds out her grandparents met and fell in love on Nantucket (her grandfather’s ancestors lived on Nantucket and he went to the island to work for the summer and learn about them) and married only three months later. This shocks Emma and starts her wondering what it would be like to fall in love that quickly (the opposite of she and her husband) She’s surprised by a sudden longing for that kind of insta-love, which makes her feel as if she is betraying her husband’s memory.
4. Encouraged by her Nana and Jane, and curious as to the reason for all the coincidences, Emma heads to Nantucket. She’s stunned to find the same inn she’d dreamed about back in Vancouver. She meets the inn owner’s son, Jonathon, an attractive young widower in a wheelchair. Jonathon is quite miserable at first, and their interactions are never friendly. He blames himself for the car accident that killed his wife and left him in a chair and has moved back home to Nantucket to write and hide from the world.  
-Despite the animosity that bubbles between them, they feel a conflicting tug of attraction. Their attraction grows, despite both of them trying to deny their feelings. The first time they kiss, Emma sees her late husband’s image in her head, and panics. There is a back and forth between these two as they fight their feelings, both convinced they don’t deserve the happiness that is tempting them.
5. Back home, Nana trips over Emma’s cat (Emma left him with her while she was away) and breaks her hip. Horrified, and guilt ridden once more (her cat—her fault, and how dare she think she could be happy again?) Emma rushes home to take care of her grandmother, leaving Jonathon hurt by her hurried departure. 
6. Emma discovers that Nana Jo has a beau, and not only is she happy to have him take care of her, she’s annoyed with Emma for leaving Nantucket before she worked out her own issues. She tells Emma to go home and live her own life. (Hard love.)
7. As she’s reeling with this news, Jane tells Emma she’s pregnant with an abusive ex’s baby and wants an abortion. She’s with Bethany, a new partner, and doesn’t want her to know about the baby. This trigger’s Emma’s own pregnancy loss trauma, and even though in the past she’s always been staunchly pro-choice, she’s furious with Jane for wanting to end a healthy pregnancy. Unaware of Emma’s history, Jane doesn’t understand Emma’s anger. They have a massive fight and stop speaking to each other.
8. Abandoned by Nana Jo, and now Jane Emma sinks back into the hole she’d only just started to climb out of. And she’s so embarrassed for running out Jonathon without an explanation she can’t bring herself to call him and apologize. After all, it’s clear she doesn’t deserve to be happy again.

#7 Setting: 
There are four important locations in the story: Jane’s apartment in downtown Vancouver, Emma’s house in East Vancouver, Nana’s house in a suburb of Vancouver, and a few locations on Nantucket, most importantly, The Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast.

#1 Vancouver: The story begins at Jane’s apartment and her massive deck overlooking the ocean. It’s on this deck that Nantucket shows up in Emma’s life for the first time, though she has no idea why.

Scene snippets:

The heavy perfume of night blooming jasmine engulfs us, cloyingly sweet and intense enough to make me sneeze. “Ugh. I can’t fathom how you actually enjoy this smell.” Five terra cotta containers filled with the flowering plants rest against the far railing. I’m surprised the stupid things are still blooming this late into the fall.

Jane arches a single, delicately shaped eyebrow in an effortless movement. “Do not insult my precious babies.”  
I feign a gag. “Why did you drag me out here? It’s certainly not for me to enjoy this repulsive stench.” I scan the sky. “Not that I don’t enjoy your view.” 

The night is clear, the sky deepened to cobalt. A deep, rich color so saturated you can almost taste it at the back of your tongue. The crisp breeze holds only vaguest hint of the coming winter. In the distance I can just make out the lights of container ships waiting in the harbour. 

#2 Emma’s house in East Vancouver: Emma spends most of her time at home, avoiding contact with people. In act one, her garden and yard are a mess, her hot water tank breaks, she has a mouse infestation, and her roof starts leaking. The only room in the house that has been renovated is the kitchen, and she can’t afford to fix the rest. She should probably sell the house. The upkeep is too much for her, but it feels like a betrayal of her husband to do so. 

-This scene takes place at night, on the anniversary of Danny’s death. She can’t sleep and is making herself a cup of tea, trying not to remember the night of Danny’s death. 

Scene: The kitchen is the only room we managed to renovate before Danny died. The rest of the house is a crumbling sixty-year-old mess, and I can’t afford to do anything about that. This room is the culmination of hours of planning by both of us. We fought about the color; I wanted green, he wanted gray. We settled on a grayed sage green. Everything else we agreed on immediately.

Pot lights, white shaker-style cupboards, and gleaming white quartz countertops lend a brightness to the otherwise dark space. We’d planned to replace the tiny windows over the sink, to allow in more light, but …

My breath hitches as a pain stabs somewhere in the middle of my chest. I gasp out a sob and then I’m tumbling down into a dark abyss of wishes, and buts, and if only-s.

#3: Nana Jo’s house: This scene takes place in Emma’s grandmother’s house, where she grew up. It is a comforting space, and one where she feels safe. She’s about to discover something about her grandparents she’d never known before.

Scene: She directs me to the family room just off her pristine, white kitchen. With its huge picture window that overlooks her massive back yard and garden, cascading greenery in earth-toned ceramic pots, celadon walls, and stone fireplace, her family room is by far my favorite room in her house. 

I drop into a leather recliner in a serene shade of gray, and pat my lap, inviting Griselda up. Nana disappears upstairs, and the cat spins around on my lap, searching for the perfect spot to curl up. “What’s she up to Grissie?” I ask, wishing the cat could speak. I’m sure she’s privy to more than one of Nana’s secrets.

#4. Nantucket: This scene takes place when Emma is on Nantucket and finds the inn she has dreamt about every night for two weeks straight. She saw the name of the inn on a poster in a travel agency’s window back in Vancouver but thought nothing of it. There were no pictures of the inn on the poster, only a name, so she can’t understand how this looks exactly like the inn from her dreams.

The Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast is a quaint 200 year old building, which was originally a family home, and later converted into an inn. There are six bedrooms upstairs, each with an ensuite bathroom, a large dining room for guests to eat their meals, a kitchen, and a magnificent covered porch overlooking the ocean. 

Emma doesn’t know that her Nana Jo has been orchestrating this whole thing, with the help of the ghost of her husband's great-grandfather, and Maggie, the inn’s owner, a long-time friend.

Nana Jo has been back to Nantucket many times since she first met her husband there forty years earlier, and has remained in communication with both Maggie, the inn's owner, and Bert, the ghost. Bert had been instrumental in helping the relationship between Nana Jo and her husband blossom. Nana Jo's husband had his own troubles, similar, in a way, to Emma's.

Nana Jo is well acquainted with Bert the ghost’s sad history. Like Emma, he lost his family—his wife and daughter but not his son—when their boat capsized. He spent his life blaming himself for their deaths. He fell in love with his wife’s best friend, but guilt prevented him from marrying her. When he was 77, he realized his mistake and proposed. He died days before his wedding. 

Nana Jo is horrified when Emma appears to be repeating Bert’s mistakes. She and Bert are determined to help Emma avoid the ghost's unhappy fate. 

Their plan was to get Emma to Nantucket, so she could meet Jonathon, the son of the family Bert worked for when he was alive, and whose inn he still haunts. Jonathon is punishing himself the same way Emma is, and Bert, Maggie, and Nana Jo are convinced Emma and Jonathon will find self-forgiveness by helping each other heal.

Scene 1: Is it even real? Maybe I’m just imagining this. I scrub at my eyes, but when I open them again, it’s still there. I take a slow breath to calm myself. When the spinning stops, I stand and hesitantly climb the steps to the bright blue door. My hands tremble as I twist the knob and step inside, the jingle of a bell announcing my arrival.

The light in the entrance is dim, the air filled with a calming mixture of lemon and lavender. I scan the space. A long rectangular rug in shades of crimson and blue covers a wide planked floor. At the far wall is a wooden counter backed by a shelving unit

A woman walks in from a back room and stands behind the counter. She’s tall and angular with short, brown hair run through with threads of gray, and her face is wreathed in a welcoming smile. “Good afternoon. May I help you?” she asks, her accent proper and precise. 

Scene 2: I head downstairs and through the wide French doors at the back of the house. The covered porch faces the restless sea. The sky is has already darkened when I step outside into the brisk wind that whistles and keens. Overhead, gulls scream a countermelody to the crash of waves against the shore. The slow rhythm tugs at something in my belly. It melts a little of the tension that has keeping my shoulders as rigid as bedrock from the moment I spied that bright blue door.

Wrought iron tables are scattered across the wide porch. Mercury glass lanterns sit on the tables, but only one is burning, giving off a soft, golden light. White wicker chairs with plump cushions in shades of aubergine and mauve invite me to sit and forget my troubles. I settle into a chair at the table with the brightly lit lantern, beneath the only overhead heater that glows red. Even with the warmth from the heater, the wind is cold. I wrap myself in a soft throw the color of new heather and sink back into the cushions.

Virginia and Josephine’s house/Nantucket
Locals tell Emma to visit the house of Virginia Miller and Josephine McAllister because it is said that on a specific date each month you can hear the distraught cries and splashing of someone in the water just beyond the house. But of course, the water is empty.

The ladies, a mystery writer, and her editor/ a wonderful gay couple who have been together for forty years, befriend Emma and tell her all they know about the haunting. (The screams are actually from Bert’s wife and daughter, or rather, their ghosts, but she doesn’t know that) and to come back in five days, because this is when the event typically occurs, although not every person who comes to check it out can hear it. This is the scene when Emma shows up, hoping to see and hear the spectacle. When she does, it triggers the memory of the boating accident that killed her parents and sends her into a panic attack.

Scene: The ladies lead me outside along a pebbled path to the sea at the edge of their property. The water is a dark indigo, the sky only a shade lighter. The moon hasn’t risen yet, though is should soon. The rush of the waves ebbing and flowing over the shoreline mingles with the distant sound of traffic in the background. A strangely soothing combination.  

Four Adirondack chairs, each painted a different, bright color, face the water. Flames flicker and dance in the pit dug into the earth in front of the chairs. A table draped with a white cloth is set with three glasses, a bottle of red wine, and a plate of cheese and crackers. There is a candle burning in a cut-glass holder in the center of the table. The effect is warm and intimate, and entirely appealing.

“We like to set the stage,” says Virginia noticing my surprised expression. “Hopefully, this will be a show worth remembering.”

Josephine places a hand at the small of my back and urges me forward. I take a seat in a royal blue chair, and she joins me in a cherry red one. “It’s such a blessing to have you here, Emma, but I have to warn you. Not many people actually hear the voices.” She lifts her chin, looking thoughtful. “I’d say, maybe one in fifty.” She turns to Virginia. “Would you agree, my love?”

Josephine pours the wine and hands us each a glass, then says, “I’m not sure it’s even that many. But it’s so lovely here by the water, we’ll have a good time regardless.” She raises her glass in a toast. “To new friends and magical experiences.”




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Story Statement:

Anne Bonny’s life revolves around her growing family and prosperous plantation, helped by her smuggling trips. Then a baronet recognizes her and threatens to reveal her past as a pirate unless she transports slaves for him. She must save herself and her family and find a way to eliminate the threat that will always be there if she doesn’t.



Baronet Jonathan Woolrich watched pirate Anne Bonny’s trial then visited her in prison to gloat as she gave birth. He appears suddenly among the ruling class of Virginia, which Anne and her husband have become a part of. The baronet had a plantation in Jamaica but lost a cargo to pirates and then his wife and a child to a plague he blamed on the pirates. Forced to leave Jamaica because he raped and killed a mulatto prostitute who was a favorite with the sailors there as well as the governor, Woolrich came to Virginia with connections in the House of Burgesses, the ruling council of the colony. When he recognizes Anne at a ball, he corners her and forces her to use her smuggling ship to bring a cargo of slaves to Virginia. To save herself, her family and the life she’s built, she agrees. But when a hurricane hits the ship, half of the human cargo are washed overboard. Woolrich then insists she owes him a second trip. Which she agrees to realizing that she will never be rid of the evil man. She also finds out that Woolrich has attacked a kitchen slave who happens to be the young daughter of the Lt. Governor’s butler. She knows that she will ultimately have an ally in getting rid of her tormentor.


Lord Thomas Mayfield, fourth son of the Earl of Dunham, had been Bos’un on a Royal Navy vessel until he was thrown off for inciting to mutiny, but with a letter of recommendation from Baronet Woolrich, he was now in Virginia and signed on with the Betsy D as a bo’sun when Anne couldn’t find another. He is a trouble-maker with an attitude and adored by the younger more impressionable among the crew because of his parentage. But he knows that Anne is a smuggler and Woolrich tells him who she really is. Mayfield forces his way onto Anne’s second slave cargo voyage, to his ultimate regret.


Breakout Title:

Sailing Against the Tide

The Woman Pirate - Resurrection



My Son’s Secret by Roberta Kagan about a mother who must protect the secret of her son’s ancestry during WWII.

Carnegie’s Maid: A Novel by Marie Benedict about a woman who takes another’s identity to hide her past and what happens when that past is threatened with exposure.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd about a white woman and her black maid who struggle to break out of the constraints of society.


Core Wound and The Primary Conflict:

A former pirate who has struggled to build a new life and family is confronted by a man who knows her past and threatens to expose it.


Other Matters of Conflict:

Anne Bonny loathes slavery both because she has lived on her father’s plantation and because she has lived the free life of a pirate. She has worked side by side with former slaves and has great respect for them. When she is forced to carry a cargo of slaves, she is physical sick but at least does her best to make their conditions on the trip bearable.


Anne finds herself in the upper echelons of colonial Virginia society, dancing at the Lt. Governor’s ball wearing the brooch she stole on her way north from Carolina. She has worked hard to learn the ways of society and to fit in but underneath she is contemptuous of the restrictions women face in the 18th century.



The colony of Virginia between 1721 and 1731. Great River Plantation, given to Anne Bonny and her husband Joseph Burleigh by her father, is in James City County near the York River. The plantation grows tobacco but is also expanding into corn and hemp. There are seven slaves who work around the house and an additional twenty-five slaves in the fields. The first year the Burleighs are there, the crops fail and Anne ends up running a smuggling operation.


The Betsy D is Anne’s smuggling ship. She runs rum, molasses and tea from the West Indies to the colonies. The ship came with crew and contacts. It’s a Baltimore schooner, an excellent coastal ship. When she has to carry a cargo of slaves, she outfits the hold with bunks and hammocks, private spaces for commodes, and large tables for socializing and eating. She also has portholes installed so the people can get air.


Williamsburg, Virginia was the capital of the Virginia colony and the home to its Society. The colony is run by Lt. Governor Gooch with whom Joseph Burleigh becomes close as they work on the Tobacco Act to ensure the quality of Virginia’s primary export. Williamsburg is the scene of balls, of meetings, and of hearings into Anne’s origins.


York Town will be famous for the last big battle of the Revolutionary War. But to Anne and Joseph it’s where they shop for clothing, animals and anything else available locally. They both have made friends there so the shopping trips are also trips to socialize with friends. It is among those friends that they learn about Woolrich who is spreading rumors that Anne is actually Anne Bonny.


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Assignment 1: Story Statement:

Short version:

Untitled is a true story of a woman who found the courage to rid herself of the false life she created and then dug deep to overcome the catastrophe of her failed leap.

Long version:

Untitled is a true story of a woman who found the courage to rid herself of the false life she created. She boarded a ship that circled the globe for an adventure of a lifetime that she was certain would propel her forward. Instead, she faced the formidable challenge of repeated loss, lack, and deceit. Despite the blows and temptations to turn back around, she found the spunk, grit, and madness needed to keep going.


Assignment 2 – Antagonist Summary

My story begins with an antagonistic force – Expectation and Self-worth. Two driving forces enslaved the main character into a life that looked wonderful on the outside but ate her alive deep within. The force of expectation examines the pressure a woman has, not only to attract a partner but to stay within the limits of a woman's standard desires – having children. The second force of "self-worth" taunts the main character's way of life, allowing her accomplishments to become a drug that temporarily made her feel whole. It wasn't until she was burglarized and fired did her antagonistic forces shrink down enough for her to stand up to them.

After an adventure of a lifetime, the protagonist meets multiple antagonists that appear in every leap—like a cannonball that would fall out of the sky and land on her wings. Each antagonist (A reiki healer, a business partner and a roommate) comes forward to represent one of the following: lack, deceit, assault, struggle, brainwashing. A person so threatened by her steadfast spunk and heart-guided determination that they wanted to shrink her down to size.


Assignment 3 – Breakout Titles

Working Title:  Drumsticks and Chandeliers 

Other options: 

1.     The Making of a Bomb

2.     Crossing Equators

3.     Around and Down – A Hero's Plummet

4.     Made of Mettle


Assignment 4 – Comparable Titles

1.     Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – A slave to expectations, resulting in a life that felt encapsulating. The protagonist needed to spread her wings and do something she will never regret as an ultimate reset. A trip filled with meaningful people, healing, lessons, and funny stories.

2.     Wild by Cheryl Strayed – Refusing to go back to her old way of life, she physically pushes forward when she is unsure she can continue (mentally and physically). She knows her life is on the line.


Assignment 5 - Hook

1.     The true story of how a rational woman (with an MBA) surrendered her logic, tripped on her creative madness, and lost almost everything, to claim her freedom to pursue her heart's desire.


Assignment 6

1.     The main inner conflict of the protagonist is her struggle between inward guidance and outward security. On multiple occasions, she must decide between the two.

a.     Does she take the enormous risk knowing she has little-to-no means to make it happen—with no net to catch her if it doesn't work out? Is she insane? Delusional? Or is she honoring her heart's guidance?

b.     Or, should she turn back around and revert to the life she left behind – to recreate the home, job, and income she had. A decision that offers a sense of external safety, but it will only be a matter of time before she starts to die inside slowly.

2.     The main secondary conflict is the people in her orbit who say they support the protagonist but then try to stop her or cut her down to size.

a.     This conflict is shown through people who offer her help or an opportunity to either try to pull the rug out from under her or physically harm her.


Assignment 7 – Setting

1.     Part 1 has two main settings:

a.      A quirky, misshapen custom-built home in the historic district of downtown Orlando. A place so perfect on the inside, that its one oddly placed large front window didn't matter to its owner. A house that created security, community, and dance parties, thanks to its ceiling speakers and iPod docking station that rested inside the wall. 

b.      A garage theatre called Art Sake Studios. It has old movie theatre seats with one so broken that an old cd player underneath holds up the seat cushion. The stage is a cement floor where a thin carpet marks the stage's borders. It's a place of creativity and unity. A run-down theatre that you sign up to study at and leave completely transformed.

2.     Part 2 has one primary setting:

a.     A small 800 passenger cruise ship set to circle the world from Fort Lauderdale, Fl west and back around to Ft. Lauderdale. An ambiance where two-hour formal dinners and the cha-cha were nightly events. People arrived from all over the globe and carried themselves with grace like you would find on the QE II.  A ship that would pull into 44 ports of call all over the world.

3.     Part 3 has two main settings:

a.     Orlando, Florida, in a rented apartment. Driftwood furniture and pops of vibrant accent colors reminded the protagonist of both the ocean and her art. A place that tried so hard to feel like home, but never did. A place that gave her enough comfort to gain the courage to leap even bigger than she already had.

b.     New York City. A park bench that became a safe place. Gritty people and dirty streets in the dead of summer seemed to perfectly accompany the protagonist's internal and external struggles of lack and survival. But also, a shared apartment on the UWS that represents moving ahead.   

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The Shrewdness


Act of Story Statement

In a world ravaged by an invisible malevolence that defies human comprehension—called The Shrewdness—anyone who gets farther away than ten feet from another person vanishes permanently. Against an unforgiving backdrop where “safety in numbers” is a matter of life or death, Maya and her partner Roger—official “testimony takers”— must race against a clever, charismatic villain who’s using the Shrewdness as supernatural cover for his own depraved agenda. Some people aren’t ever coming back; The Shrewdness took them. But Maya will stop at nothing to return the people who it’s not too late to rescue—the people who are still here—to get them back from a flesh-and-blood adversary and return them to their families.


One of the two primary antagonists in the story is the eponymous Shrewdness—an invisible malevolence that has changed the rules of human existence forever. The Shrewdness befell humanity two years ago as an apocalyptic event and creates obstacles in daily life for all remaining survivors; everyone worldwide has had to re-imagine their habitats and redesign the planet to accommodate the new rules that The Shrewdness requires they obey. Even though The Shrewdness is invisible and unknowable, it defines and constrains existence for our heroes. And although most people have adapted to the new rules of the post-apocalyptic environment, The Shrewdness is an antagonistic force that defines the backdrop.

The other antagonist—Maya’s chief adversary and the villain who drives a lot of the action—is “Big Joe” or Josef Mantinelli—a popular and charismatic TV personality who trades in “self-help” and motivational speaking. Because this book is partially a whodunit, Big Joe is not presented as an antagonist upfront, rather as a character in a pool of potential suspects. The reader knows Big Joe as an unsavory opportunist who employs inspirational jargon and psycho-babble to sound wise, thoughtful, authentic and helpful. In the initial wake of The Shrewdness’s effect on human existence, he was one of thousands of hucksters playing on people’s feelings of hopelessness and search for meaning in the face of an incomprehensible, life-changing event. At first appearing as nothing more than a run-of-the-mill unsavory grifter—slick but not deadly—as Willa chases clues to unmask the villain who has been abducting people and preying on the weak, Big Joe is ultimately revealed to be a dangerous psychopath, intensely competent, intelligent, and incapable of remorse. 

Another antagonist is Maya's boss who repeatedly seeks to diminish and put an end to her investigation into the disappearances that cannot be attributed to The Shrewdness. Her boss doesn't believe her, thinks she's "crazy" and obsessed, and wants her to stay focused on her official business as a Testimony Taker. 

Breakout Titles

The Shrewdness

The Phenomenon

A Ghost Did Come



A suspenseful procedural mystery wrapped in a dystopian thriller, The Shrewdness delivers an action-packed story that also explores timely themes with upmarket literary flourish. Muscular, meditative prose delivers juicy plot momentum while also exploring big questions like: What might our world look like if individualism and the cult of ‘me’ was removed by brute invisible force and community became the new paradigm—our survival intertwined, our relationships symbiotic and interdependent? What if humanity learned to thrive, despite insurmountable odds, on a planet now designed for groups to succeed together, rather than a place built for individuals to assert dominance over one another?

For comparables—think the post-apocalyptic desolation and dystopian narrative style of The Leftovers and Station Eleven meets the hardboiled detective dynamic and whodunit clue-chasing of Tana French’s Dublin Murders series.

Hook Line 

The Shrewdness by Amy Federman

Two years after an incomprehensible malevolence known as The Shrewdness has ravaged the globe, a government-dispatched “testimony taker” uncovers a troubling mystery and must race against a charismatic villain to rescue survivors from his hidden compound.


Inner Conflict(s)

Our hero, Maya, and her partner Roger are “Testimony Takers” and their task is administrative: They (and their other regional counterparts across the country) must create and preserve a record of all the souls lost to The Shrewdness for posterity. Maya is the Witness and Roger the Watcher. Together, with their Cluster, they travel around their assigned region in the greater Philadelphia area, interviewing survivors about their disappeared loved ones. When Willa uncovers a troubling mystery, a pattern in the testimonies that points to somebody wicked—a fellow human—using The Shrewdness as supernatural cover to abduct people, she’s told to let it go, that chasing hunches is not under her purview; “stay in your lane” is the clear message from the higher-ups. But it’s not in Maya’s nature to let well enough alone; she’s persistent. Dogged and determined to recover the people she knows in her heart are still with us on this earthly plane (unlike the millions who have been permanently vanished by The Shrewdness), Maya must navigate the ongoing conflict between what she knows is right and her orders from above. As her investigation continues, and her pursuit becomes obsessive, she alienates her bosses and even comes close to losing the trust of her closest confidant and ally, Roger. She’s already lost so much; can she solve the mystery without losing everyone she loves along the way?

Another conflict Maya experiences repeatedly is her intense desire to solve people’s pain; she is so empathetic, she can tend to over-relate to interview subjects, taking on and absorbing their grief, which compounds her own turmoil over the loss of her husband to The Shrewdness two years ago. But she’s powerless to do anything except listen, hold space, and record the memories. The deep powerlessness she feels in the face of these testimonies informs her obsession with tracking down the villain. Maya knows most people are never coming back; they’re gone forever. But the idea that some people who are believed to be casualties of The Shrewdness might still be with us on Earth, captured by a human villain, not a supernatural force—the idea that she might be able to save someone, anyone, and return them to their loved ones—consumes her and fuels her increasingly erratic and obsessive quest.

Secondary Conflict

There is ongoing conflict between the tough post-apocalyptic environment and our heroes; life in this world is not easy. Maya, Roger, and the three attendants in their Cluster—Jess, Max, and Graham—must constantly make accommodations to survive. As long as they follow the rules and stick together, they can stay alive—but sometimes even the best laid plans can lead to heartbreak. This comes to full and tragic life towards the end of Act II when a dramatic life-or-death run-in with the Big Bad of the story results in the suspenseful and gut-wrenching loss of a beloved member of the Cluster.


Now, two years after the disappearances began, humans are tethered together, solitude has become obsolete, and everyone must travel, live, and work in Clusters of at least three in order to survive. But life beats on persistently; unlike in some other apocalyptic conceits, this landscape echoes the environ that existed before the world-altering event. Similar to the reality we’ve been living in over the past year—where everything is different in some ways, yet eerily the same in others—in this world, the setting maintains a veneer of normalcy even though everything is irreparably distorted, and life-changing rules must be followed in order to survive. 

There is immersive world-building throughout the novel wherein entire cities, towns, commerce, public transportation, hotels, inns, and restaurants have been retro-fitted or re-designed entirely to adapt to the new rules. Distance markers everywhere to show ten feet. A cottage industry of hired companions, guards, sherpas has emerged rapidly to meet the most urgent demand in the new economy: the need for other human beings (solitude = death). Due to the preponderance of deadly conspiracy theories and misinformation in the aftermath of the initial appearance of The Shrewdness, the internet is heavily regulated by the government and almost all social media apps have either disappeared or have been altered to the point of being unrecognizable. There is basic messaging and photo sharing but the types of information that can be shared is closely monitored and often censored. 

The rules of this world

"About a week after the first harrowing details trickled into our consciousness—a violent rupture annihilating our shared understanding of what it means to exist on this planet—we’d already reached a global consensus of what the new rules were: the rules this vague malevolence now demanded we obey in order to survive. 

The first rule, and the most important, is:  “Past ten feet, you’re dead meat.”

This is the most quoted and widely used rhyming summary of the supreme rule of our shared affliction; it’s been repeated and hammered into our heads—children and adults alike—and has now been tattooed on people’s skin, printed on t-shirts, and spray-painted on walls across the world in many languages. The rhyme is far too cutesy for what it describes: the fact that if you get more than ten feet away from another human being, you disappear forever. It happens abruptly, with swift finality. Your clothes go with you. Shoes, too. But anything you’re holding in your hands—a bag, or ball, or pen, or toy—remains in the place where you stood a moment ago. It becomes your grave marker, a grotesquely banal stand-in for the full and complete life you lived.   

Some people believe the actual limit is a little bit further than ten feet, somewhere between ten and eleven feet, but to risk it is madness; ten feet is universally understood as the hard limit (and Roger and I observe it with militance).

The popularity of this particular rhyme has always struck me as twisted—not only because of its almost lighthearted tone—but also because becoming “dead meat” would be preferable; it would be more tangible and more comprehensible than the spookiness of ceasing to exist altogether. I wish so badly that the Shrewdness did leave us our corporeal forms. We could bury the bodies of those we’ve lost; we could be sure they were laid to rest. Instead, we are left with next to nothing.

To compensate, it’s very common for people to construct makeshift memorials in the very spots in which their loved ones vanished. Often they’ll use the object the now-gone person left behind as the centerpiece of the altar: their purse, their water bottle, the book they were reading, an envelope they were heading off to mail. These meager piles, built around some devastating commonplace trinket, are further adorned with pictures of the departed, little tokens and gifts, and bottles of their favorite drink or packages of their favorite chips. They’re not a substitute for graves, but for many they’re the next best thing, and they litter the landscape everywhere you go. Sometimes you will have to walk around, or step over, hundreds in single walk down a long city street.

These shrines to the departed are meager offerings, insufficient homages to human life; they make me sad—but in a bittersweet way because they are also beautiful. And they are widely cherished, visited, and cared for by mourners. Sometimes Roger and I will stop and observe these tributes, really taking them in and reading the notes people’s loved ones have left them, letting the heaviness creep down my spine, and nest into my stomach. But most days, I walk right past them. There are simply too many to look at them all. And, besides, I’m doing my part to keep people’s memories alive (in my own way); I do believe there is some nobility in taking testimonies.

The second rule is: Humans only.

You can’t use animals as a buffer against the Phenomenon. Early on, some people thought they could simply remain within ten feet of their dog or their chickens or their flock of sheep or their many cats to keep safe. Nope. For whatever reason, animals don’t protect humans from being vanished into the void. Non-human living things aren’t subject to the same rules at all; they’ve been spared entirely from this grim whim of fate. If, say, a zebra or a bear wants to take a solo sojourn more than ten feet away from its brethren, it is more than free to do so. We’re not so lucky; we’re stuck with other humans in maddening perpetuity. 

The third rule is: Two won’t do.

This is also called acerbically, "the new rule of three’s," a reference to the rule of three’s in comedy; it’s a dark twist on that idea because it’s not funny at all. Sometimes, people who are old enough to remember sitcoms from early eighties also call this the “Three’s Company” rule, a reference to a long-forgotten TV comedy by the same name. 

This rule piggybacks on the premise of rule one, which essentially boils down to: “Solitude = death.” Because solitude equals death, humans must live, travel, and generally exist in Clusters of at least three people.

Trying to survive in pairs or duos is too risky because if one of you breaks off or gets out of range for some reason, you’re both screwed. After the first wave of disappearances, people adjusted their behavior in observance of rule one but didn’t change their behavior enough, because many only had one companion to prevent deathly solitude. This caused a tragic “second wave” of people lost to the Shrewdness. Now, it’s established and universally understood that you always need three people, at a minimum, so there’s a buffer against unforeseen tragedy. But three people is still too few for my comfort. That’s why I’m relieved that the ministry recommends five-person clusters as a default for Testimony trips: A witness, a Watcher, and three attendants. Strength in numbers is the name of the game."



In most places, things are seemingly still the same, just askew, slightly distorted. Commerce still hums in the larger towns and in the cities. Trains honk and choo across the landscape. Planes fly overhead and dogs bark and people wave to one another as they walk down the streets in their clusters. But then there are places, smaller towns, more remote, that are frozen in time—stuck in an eerie tableau.

In one ghost town, we came across an abandoned house in the woods still festooned with Christmas decorations—dangling lights and a half inflated blow-up Rudolph acting as sentinels, guarding its empty ramshackle. You could sense it was uninhabited even before entering. It was hollow and lush with hushed overgrowth. Whoever lived there must have been lazy that year about removing the baubles, allowing the pageantry to linger through early spring, never suspecting the doe-eyed reindeer and twinkling lights to become the décor of their tomb, a shrine to the life they lived in these woods.

Disturbing the scene had a pall of sacrilege, but we did it anyway, checking to see if any people remained. Rustling through the brush, we knocked on the rusted door, and shouted “Hello? Anyone home?” knowing the futility as we bellowed, feeling the dearth of humanity in our skin and the hair on our neck and being answered only by the breeze passing through the trees overhead.  We waited too long on the stoop, the tarnished brass knocker blocking our entry. Eventually, we nodded wordlessly at each other and left, leaving the dilapidated gravesite behind. 

The country town we’re in today also feels that way, discarded, left behind."

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1: Story Statement: To save the natural human race from the ravages of biotechnology and manipulation.


2: Antagonist: Lucien Sabara has never seen the light of day. He was born with a rare genetic condition, xeroderma pigmentosum, that made him unable to tolerate any amount of sunlight. Lucien’s parents were strong advocates of the Eugenics movement and attributed his genetic condition to poor breeding choices that Lucien’s grandmother made, and instilled in him an appreciation of genetics from a young age. Thanks to vast family wealth, Lucien was able to travel the world and receive an excellent education, despite his special needs. Lucien grew to become one of the leading scientists in the country. He was instrumental in mapping the human genome. Following this work, Lucien started AmCorps labs which specialized in identifying how diseases begin on a genetic level and cure them before they start. During this research, they identified an evolution gene, EVE-0, which was inactive. They identified this gene as the reason behind a recent onslaught of pandemic after pandemic. Lucien’s focus became reactivating this gene and he became consumed with saving the human race, now on the brink of extinction. In his search for an active EVE-0 gene, there is no line that he won’t cross. He also saw the EVE-0 situation as his opportunity to finally create true equality throughout the human race, while further evolving our species.


3: Lucien

Child of Light

EVE-0 Lucien


4: Bobby Akart – My stories mix scientific details with suspense.

Nadia Afifi – My stories mix speculative scientific foundations with ethical boundaries and explore the line where science meets spirituality.


5: Emergency Room Doctor, Gabrielle Gale, struggles with what her modern education taught her and what she sees in the natural world, in her battle to save the human race from extinction.


6: Inner conflict – Dr. Gabrielle Gale was raised to value science and appreciate nature. As a doctor and the child of a doctor, she possesses a great respect for the huge leap science has made in the human condition. Now, on the brink of extinction, Gabby has to come to grips with the idea that modernity may be the reason for this current situation. Gabby has to face the fact that she is turning her back on her people, the modern world, and everything she’s ever learned to fight for a tiny population of people that lack even the most basic technological advances like running water.

Situation: With a chill, she couldn’t shake, her damp clothes clinging to her, Gabby tried to patiently wait for Chief Epe to get the fire lit. But, everything around them was wet. The log she sat on soaked her pants and all Gabby craved were the creature comforts of home. In the Amazon, nothing was comfortable. The incessant chirping of tree frogs at dusk began to eat away at her psyche. She missed watching TV, she missed so much.  Gabby was living in a world and fighting for a people that lacked even the most basic conveniences, like toilets and running water, and everything that she took for granted. 

Social conflict: Pained by the recent loss of her love interest and partner, stuck in a completely foreign setting, Gabrielle finds herself developing feelings for the only link she has to her past life, Chris. Plagued by guilt, Gabby finds it difficult to explore these feelings although she can’t deny their presence and the comfort they bring.

Gabby closes Trent’s laptop. In his last recorded message, he explains to Gabby exactly how she can reactivate her EVE-0 gene. He also told her that it will likely render her sterile. Chris pleads with her to not even consider it. He tells her how much he loves her and his vision for their future. Then hugs her. Gabby momentarily collapses into the warmth of his embrace and the happy ending he wants but pulls away due to a mix of guilt and obligation.  


7: Setting – EVE-0 Lucien takes place in two main settings: the natural world of the Amazon River Basin and Andes Mountains, and the future United States, a modern world ravaged and destroyed by pandemics. The U.S. has been in a state of marshall law, policed by drones, and ravaged by disease. The only secure locations are the AmCorps’ Safe Houses, which are now home to high-ranking government officials and the extremely wealthy. This is where Dr. Lucien Sabara resides. However, what they need most to save the modern human race resides deep in the Amazon River Basin. Here, Dr. Gabrielle Gale and Lt. Christopher Silver, fight alongside the Amazonian people to preserve what remains of their way of life and the natural human species. In the Amazon, Gabby and Chris, find themselves in a biosphere that’s ruled by nature and other-worldly forces.

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First Assignment: Story Statement -  “Velia Calder and the pirate crew of The Kueila will stop at nothing to save their captain from a deadly curse. By kidnapping prominent healer Sorin Esmond, they’ve bought her precious time---but their only hope is to locate The Salvus, a magical stone containing the power of a banished Goddess. Their best chance of finding it lives in their Etheri, a magic-wielding warrior named Elysia. But with Goddess Blood running through her veins, Elysia knows better than most that power comes with a price. When sinister forces above and below the water confront them, a sinister plot unravels that ties all of their destinies together in ways none of them ever imagined.”

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: The Antagonist - 
In this first book in the series, there are two overarching antagonists:The Ethernalheart, the one of the last descendants of a type of magic commonly believed to not exist, and the presence of the Merfolk Council, who serve as a mysterious body of knowledge and deception. By the end of the book, we learn that the Merfolk Council from generations past is actually responsible for the genocide of magic The Eternalheart belongs to. Her part in this book is mostly behind-the-scenes, though she is the hand behind the war raging across the sea, and sets off every single plot point to fulfill her goal (ultimately revenge against the Council & grow her power, but the reader does not know this yet). Each of the main characters has an unknown connection to her: She cursed the amulet that sent the crew searching for The Salvus. She is Velia and her brother Draven’s lost mother, and manages to turn her son against his crew to assist her. She sets her cult to bring back Elysia, though her motivation for this is currently unknown. She is the reason the captain dies at Draven’s hand. 

Her further motivations & reactions are revealed in books 2 & 3, and I wasn’t sure whether or not to include most of them here! 

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Breakout Title - The Tides of Fate. 
Other titles I originally considered for this book were: On Fate’s Tides and On Cursed Tides.

Fable by Adrienne Young: While my series is a little closer to New Adult/Fantasy in my opinion rather than young adult, my book also follows a similar premise of a found-family crew on a quest. Our books also feature complex female leads who create their own future and struggle with family dynamics.  Adrienne and I also have a similar imagery-driven style to our writing. 
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard: This book shares numerous themes with my own: A band of unlikely companions embark on a quest surrounding magic, a hidden lineage, and foe unlike any they’ve ever faced. The overarching plot is also far more complex than any of the characters predict, resulting in a war of epic proportions. I also really identify with Victoria’s personal reading choices. As she says in her Goodreads bio, “if people are dying, I'm buying.”

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Logline -  On a journey to retrieve a stone imbued with a Goddess’ power and save their captain from a deadly curse, the eccentric and unusual crew of The Kueila discovers a sinister plot connected to a bloody secret that spans generations, and through each of their families. 

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Other Matters of Conflict -

The book is narrated by Velia, Sorin, and Elysia and told from an omniscient third person perspective. 

Internal Conflict - Stemmed from the disappearance of her parents and a childhood on the streets, Velia has a strong fear of abandonment. She also struggles with feelings of inadequacy. Both feelings present themselves in multiple facets of her life, such as believing she is unuseful to the crew because she isn’t a great fighter or believing her brother is far superior to her. When the ship is overrun with undead creatures, Velia argues that she can be useful without needing to fight. Her brother recognizes her noble intent, but insists she hide instead. His words consequently trigger her to hide her developing powers from him until it’s too late.

Secondary Conflict - Inseparable since birth, Velia and her brother, Draven, slowly drift apart through the course of the book. As she grows closer to other members of the crew, her trust slowly begins to fade in him. Their trust deteriorates so significantly that when Draven betrays the crew, not only did Velia not see it coming, but she learns he kept the secrets of their mother and his plans from her under the delusion that she would be grateful. Velia abandons him instead.

Internal Conflict - Sorin travels the journey through frustration to fascination and confusion to fear at the hands of The Kueila’s crew. Though he finds each new life-altering fact fascinating, his lack of knowledge about the world beyond his small town frustrates him endlessly. As he develops relationships with the crew, he struggles when they inspire unique emotions in him. While around a fire on the ship one night, Sorin learns that his infatuation with Elysia comes from a genetic lure to her species; however, upon seeing clear love between two crewmates, Sorin fears that his definition of love isn’t what he believes it to be, and his feelings for Elysia may be something new entirely. 

Secondary Conflict - Sorin adapts to a new environment while being held captive by the crew. Each day comes with a new challenge to prove he’s more than just a kidnap-e, and a chance to develop a real relationship with various crew members. After their battle with the undead, Sorin assists the ship’s medic in healing the wounded. Each member he treats actually thanks him and compliments his quick thinking that night, prompting the beginnings of his found-family journey. 

Internal Conflict - Elysia’s wracked with guilt when her captain is cursed, blaming herself for not trying harder to stop it. She also struggles with a sense of belonging. Despite the happy found-family she’s developed on The Kueila, the fear that lingers within other crew members triggers her to put up walls to keep herself from getting hurt. When Draven finally makes a move on her, she’s afraid of letting those walls fall and to return his feelings for fear of saddling him with a life on the run from her family, and the differences of their species.  
Secondary Conflict - Elysia deals with the crew’s fear of her by putting up internal walls, but Sorin has no intention of leaving them alone. He continuously pries for information about her heritage in life, sparking many arguments between the two. When Sorin finally sees her power in action, his unique lack of fear leads her to open up about her life to him in a way she’s never opened up to anyone before. 



In a fantasy realm currently wracked by war, power lies with who controls the most magic. 

Overlying World Setting Details: 
A Council of Nine Goddesses created and watches over the mortal world, agreeing to never interfere in their affairs. Favoring their Merfolk creations, four members of The Council chose to give four types of magic, one for each of them; they also blessed each of the royal lines with a child of their own, born with the blood of a Goddess running through their veins. Over time, these magic users, collectively known as The Etheri, bred with their human counterparts. Today, Etheri of Merfolk descent avoid human conflict and rarely appear above the surface. The remaining Human Etheri are prized by royalty and the rich alike, often for personal gain or breeding. With magic-laced bloodlines fading as the human generations pass, The Merfolk Council agrees to allow humans to hire highly-trained Etheri on a contract basis under a strict set of conditions. Rule #1: No involvement in their wars. 

While their Etheri creations thrived, the remaining members of the Council punished the four Goddesses for their gifts. They stripped each of their power, placing them within four stones across the planet. It is one of these stones the crew of The Kueila pursues to a remote island in the south, buried within a cave miles below the surface. A fifth stone, The Salvus, contains the power of a Goddess known simply as “The Unknown Goddess.” Her power, however, was of Life and Death, making her stone the only form of magical healing in existence. The other four Goddesses, those who never interacted with mortals, are worshipped by many uninformed human factions. More about The Unknown Goddess is learned in subsequent books. 

The Magic System: Depending on the bloodline, an Etheri may control anywhere between one and four types of magic stores. The Etheri are then grouped into subcategories, depending on their most powerful store of magic.
Allura: Specialize in enchantment magic. They are often employed as negotiators or sell enchanted objects for a high price.
Meutorra: Specialize in transmutation magic. They are often employed in the beauty industry for body alterations, though those with more power can shift themselves enough to fit through extremely tight spaces. 
Evocati: Specialize in elemental evocation magic. They often control the weather for expensive merchant ships to reach their destinations safely. They are considered the most violent fighters in times of war. 
Essos: Specialize in abjuration defense and protection magic. They create protection wards for expensive merchandise and shields around properties. 

A Note on the Merfolk: While only mentioned in this first installment, this is the world where Elysia comes from and becomes more relevant within the second and third book. The Merfolk are separated into four separate Orders. Each is ruled by a Queen descended from a Goddess’ bloodline. The Order of the Agate rules the warm, central waters spanning from Droque’s coast to Madrudel. The Order of the White Wind rules in the colder northern territory known as The Ice Fields. The Order of the Briar lives within the lakes and rivers on the main continentes.  Lastly, The Order of the Depths rules within deeper waters. The Court is made up of each Order’s Queen and their heir when they come of age. 

Plot Setting: 

On their journey to save their captain, The Kueila travels across war-ravaged waters. Two large Kingdoms fight for power: The Maudredel Kingdom in the east, and the country of Droque in the west. The crew’s journey takes them to Maudredel’s port town of Kipswell, a small town south of the main continent. The town is ruled by a Merchant Council that controls the majority of the town’s wealth. Kipswell also contains one of Maudredel’s training grounds and sends off dozens of soldiers to the warfronts every week.

After kidnapping Sorin from Kipswell, they sail north to a dirty, ash-smelling pirate town, Valrood. Valrood is a useful place for pirates to trade and buy supplies. Valrood also contains a small Merfolk Post on the eastern shore, where humans can purchase a contract with a Mere-Etheri. This is where the captain, Rhea, first signed the contract that brought Elysia about The Kueila three years prior. It is also where Elysia reunites surreptitiously with a mermaid friend to gain information on the location of The Salvus. 

The riddle Dara gives them takes the crew towards the western continents. Along the way, a significant portion of the plot takes place on The Kueila itself. A three-masted Frigate, The Kueila houses 30-some pirates on its three decks. Elysia first introduces the ship setting on her walk to the helm, informing Rhea of Sorin’s agreement to help them. In subsequent scenes, we see the captain’s lavish quarters, littered with treasure. We follow Elysia and Sorin around the deck as she casts a spell. We steal a kiss with Elysia and Draven in the crow’s nest. We run through the lower deck with Velia as she uses her power to subdue undead creatures. 

Resting in the shadow of an enormous mountain, the mining town of Soldeo introduces The Cult of the Spiritborn. After being ransacked by undead a week prior, the town is full of wreckage and fearful citizens. The Cult kidnaps Elysia, Velia, and Sorin and holds them captive in the mountain. The path through the mountain showcases Droque’s side of the war. Tunnels are lined with weapons ready to be shipped out to the front. The three messily escape the cult, returning us to The Kueila and the last leg of our journey. 

The temple of the Unknown Goddess sits at the northern edge of Droque. It’s a tall, obelisk-like structure with a submerged entrance. When Elysia and Sorin enter, they see ancient writing on the walls that only the Goddess Blessed can read. During the guardian’s test, Sorin and Elysia flash through locations of their past. Sorin’s test takes place at his family’s mansion in Kipswell. Elysia’s travels through the first real look at the Merfolk world. The palace of Ice where her family lives. An above water colosseum where the strongest Etheri battled to prove their worthiness to take contracts and defend their home. A beach where she trained, and accidentally killed, her father. The guardian leaves the two in a small cave with no walls where The Salvus rests on a golden pedestal. Taking the stone results in an opening appearing in the cave wall, revealing them on a tiny isle just off from the temple where The Kueila floats offshore. 

The final scenes take place on The Kueila’s main deck, the isle beach, and a town in the neutral country of Bacan. After the tragedy unfolds on the ship, the remaining crew members manage to make it to shore on the isle as The Kueila sails away. Across the bay, on Droque’s northern shore, they manage to pay for passage to Sorin’s hometown of Kipswell. Not much is seen of Bacan as they board another ship towards Kipswell. 


Map attached!  

Updated Map (5.19.21).png

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1: Story Statement: To save the natural human race from the ravages of biotechnology and manipulation.


2: Antagonist: Lucien Sabara has never seen the light of day. He was born with a rare genetic condition, xeroderma pigmentosum, that made him unable to tolerate any amount of sunlight. Lucien’s parents were strong advocates of the Eugenics movement and attributed his genetic condition to poor breeding choices that Lucien’s grandmother made, and instilled in him an appreciation of genetics from a young age. Thanks to vast family wealth, Lucien was able to travel the world and receive an excellent education, despite his special needs. Lucien grew to become one of the leading scientists in the country. He was instrumental in mapping the human genome. Following this work, Lucien started AmCorps labs which specialized in identifying how diseases begin on a genetic level and cure them before they start. During this research, they identified an evolution gene, EVE-0, which was inactive. They identified this gene as the reason behind a recent onslaught of pandemic after pandemic. Lucien’s focus became reactivating this gene and he became consumed with saving the human race, now on the brink of extinction. In his search for an active EVE-0 gene, there is no line that he won’t cross. He also saw the EVE-0 situation as his opportunity to finally create true equality throughout the human race, while further evolving our species.


3: Lucien

Child of Light

EVE-0 Lucien


4: Bobby Akart – My stories mix scientific details with suspense.

Nadia Afifi – My stories mix speculative scientific foundations with ethical boundaries and explore the line where science meets spirituality.


5: Emergency Room Doctor, Gabrielle Gale, struggles with what her modern education taught her and what she sees in the natural world, in her battle to save the human race from extinction.


6: Inner conflict – Dr. Gabrielle Gale was raised to value science and appreciate nature. As a doctor and the child of a doctor, she possesses a great respect for the huge leap science has made in the human condition. Now, on the brink of extinction, Gabby has to come to grips with the idea that modernity may be the reason for this current situation. Gabby has to face the fact that she is turning her back on her people, the modern world, and everything she’s ever learned to fight for a tiny population of people that lack even the most basic technological advances like running water.

Situation: With a chill, she couldn’t shake, her damp clothes clinging to her, Gabby tried to patiently wait for Chief Epe to get the fire lit. But, everything around them was wet. The log she sat on soaked her pants and all Gabby craved were the creature comforts of home. In the Amazon, nothing was comfortable. The incessant chirping of tree frogs at dusk began to eat away at her psyche. She missed watching TV, she missed so much.  Gabby was living in a world and fighting for a people that lacked even the most basic conveniences, like toilets and running water, and everything that she took for granted. 

Social conflict: Pained by the recent loss of her love interest and partner, stuck in a completely foreign setting, Gabrielle finds herself developing feelings for the only link she has to her past life, Chris. Plagued by guilt, Gabby finds it difficult to explore these feelings although she can’t deny their presence and the comfort they bring.

Gabby closes Trent’s laptop. In his last recorded message, he explains to Gabby exactly how she can reactivate her EVE-0 gene. He also told her that it will likely render her sterile. Chris pleads with her to not even consider it. He tells her how much he loves her and his vision for their future. Then hugs her. Gabby momentarily collapses into the warmth of his embrace and the happy ending he wants but pulls away due to a mix of guilt and obligation.  


7: Setting – EVE-0 Lucien takes place in two main settings: the natural world of the Amazon River Basin and Andes Mountains, and the future United States, a modern world ravaged and destroyed by pandemics. The U.S. has been in a state of marshall law, policed by drones, and ravaged by disease. The only secure locations are the AmCorps’ Safe Houses, which are now home to high-ranking government officials and the extremely wealthy. This is where Dr. Lucien Sabara resides. However, what they need most to save the modern human race resides deep in the Amazon River Basin. Here, Dr. Gabrielle Gale and Lt. Christopher Silver, fight alongside the Amazonian people to preserve what remains of their way of life and the natural human species. In the Amazon, Gabby and Chris, find themselves in a biosphere that’s ruled by nature and other-worldly forces.

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Story statement:

  • The protagonist needs to confront his traumatic past to attain individuation and self-worth.

Antagonistic force:

  • In part one, the antagonists are Chris and Larry, two men who traffick young boys to pedophiles. Chris is Sean’s captor and trafficker. He targets vulnerable young women and boys through manipulation and drug addiction. He’s a sadist who keeps Sean in a metal cage the size of a dog kennel and uses extreme cruelty to keep the boys in his possession in line. He has no redeeming qualities. Larry holds the boy Sean befriends and is a pedophile as well as a trafficker. He has a warped sense of reality and believes he treats the boys well. He allows the boys some freedoms, which allow them to hatch a plan to escape.
  • In part two, the antagonistic force is the trauma Sean sustained. It is represented by Trevor, Sean’s alternate personality who would not exist without Sean’s experience. Trevor pushes Sean to face his past as current events dredge up ghosts.  Sean’s partner, Greg, is the personification of his childhood. Greg is manipulating but gives Sean enough of what he needs to survive.


  • Unchained
  • Duet
  • Sean’s Song

Genre and Comps:

  • Psychological fiction
  • Combines elements from:
    • Emma Donoghue’s ROOM— captivity/escape/life after
    • Mira T. Lee’s EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL—realistic depiction of mental health disorders
    • Diablo Cody’s UNITED STATES OF TARA— life with Dissociative Identity Disorder
    • Ellen Hopkins’ IDENTICAL— how Dissociative Identity Disorder stems from trauma
    • Ellen Hopkins’ TRICKS and TRAFFICK— realistic portrayal of domestic trafficking

Log line:

  • Years after escaping a trafficking ring, a man’s alternate personality helps him reconcile his traumatic past and move toward his future.
  • Two trafficked boys form a bond, but only Sean escapes. Years later, his alternate personality and best friend helps him examine what's left of a past he'd rather forget.

Inner conflict:

  • Sean struggles with survivor’s guilt and self-worth. He mostly ignores the guilt, but tries to compensate his self-worth with visible things such as his law degree, expensive suits, fancy hotel rooms, and a handsome, successful partner. In his desperation for love and acceptance, he kowtows to those he wants in his life, including his mother, who sold him to the ring.
    • Hypothetical scenario for survivor’s guilt:  Sean is in a coffee shop and observes a table where a man and a young boy sit. The child shrinks into himself, head down, shoulders hunched as the man speaks to him. They are approached by another man; the boy makes himself smaller. The men exchange words and an envelope, and the boy leaves with the second man. Sean is frozen, unsure if he just witnessed a trafficking transaction. His mind races as he grapples with the possibilities. Trevor attempts to calm him, but Sean wonders how many times people saw him rented out and never said anything. The fear he felt the day he escaped returns. Will he be taken seriously? What if nothing really happened? What if it was a transaction, but not investigated and someone comes after him?  To protect himself, he decides not to report what he saw and convinces himself the child was just recently scolded and reacting appropriately.

Societal conflict:

  • Sean is reluctant to reveal Trevor in relationships beyond  partner and long-time friends; but his newer relationships and work colleagues do not know he has DID.
    • Hypothetical scenario: While co-fronting, Trevor uses plural pronouns during a discussion at work. His colleagues catch it. Sean and Trevor need to dance around the mistake to keep Trevor hidden.


  • The setting of UNCHAINED is more about echoing the feelings of the main character. Part One takes place in Cleveland, OH, though most of the section happens while Sean is held captive. The scenes are all set in confining spaces like his cage or a small room. The house he’s mostly loose in is a maze, keeping him confused.
  • Part Two is in the Upper Hudson Valley. Kinderhook and Catskill are expansive and rural, giving Sean enough room to breathe. He works in Albany, which is cluttered with restrictions and rules.
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1-Story Statement  

Face a traumatic past and find the courage to return home. 


2-Antagonist/Antagonistic Force

The antagonist in Max’s story is a man named Eric Dalton. We meet Eric officially at the end of the book when he finally has to face the law for what he has done to Max and many others. However, he is immensely present throughout the entire book living in Max’s mind. For a large part of the story, every move Max makes is a product of the mental damage caused by Eric and her abduction. Even after she is rescued from his grasp, the trauma inflicted by the murders she witnessed, her sexual assault, and his obsession with her drives her away from her family, her sanity, and even her birth name. Eric comes to life in Max’s flashbacks throughout the book and ultimately creates the battle between her and her past.


3- Breakout Titles


Losing Violet 

When Violets Fade 


4- Comps(Young Adult Fiction #ownvoices Mental Health)

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

  • The subject matter in this story is intense and straightforward. It’s a comparable because the audience that was moved by this book will also connect with mine given the parallels. Both have unfaltering descriptions of a young girls story of sexual abuse, mental abuse, and how she copes. 

Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • This story is a comparable because it focuses on the everyday life of teens who have had trauma in their lives. It can be seen in their behaviors, reactions and breakdowns. Although my book is explicit in its descriptions of trauma and abuse, it’s focal point is largely how the main character reacts to the world around her. 


5- Hookline/Logline

Seven years after being abducted at eleven-years-old, a young woman must confront her demons and reignite the strength inside her to fight for her happiness and a second chance at life. 


6- Conflicts

Inner conflict- Max feels a deep depression riddled with PTSD because of her abduction by Eric Dalton. In the story, she has many triggers that cause flashbacks such as a screaming woman, a song, and being touched. She reacts by clenching her fists and digging her nails into her palms as she closes her eyes and fails to escape the memories. It leaves her feeling exhausted, dirty, and worthless, thus creating a mental state that she needs to overcome in order to return home and realize she’s worth loving and deserves a happier life. 


Primary conflict- The primary conflict is finding and bringing Max home. She was presumed dead by most everyone, but after her best friend Anna stumbles across her in NYC the conflict becomes clear. A traumatized eighteen year old girl with PTSD is loved deeply by her family, but her own self loathing keeps her from even considering returning home. The climax is the market chapter where Max is unexpectedly recognized by her father and she quickly realizes that she can’t run from her past anymore. The falling action after Max is brought home is her participation in therapy, being around people again, getting used to being home, and getting used to interaction with her father. In the final part of the story the antagonist, Eric Dalton, is convicted after Max’s riveting testimony. She begins to find peace with what happened to her and she starts to allow herself to love and be loved.


Secondary Conflict- The secondary conflict is Max finding the strength to testify against her abuser and face him after years of running. Like most victims, facing her abuser brings out a vulnerable state that immediately pushes her away. After escaping an experience that rendered Max powerless, she does not want to feel that pain ever again. The courtroom scene is the moment Max gets to truly and in complete detail say what happened to her. You feel her anxiety and fear, but a sense of unexpected hope washes over her as well. 


7- Setting

The story begins in a quiet small town in Pennsylvania called Swiftwater. The town is full of trees, flowers, and in the spring time where our story begins, the sun peeks through the leaves just enough to highlight the beautiful nature. This scene will feel like it is absolutely unimaginable that something horrific would happen here. A pristine, colorful, peaceful neighborhood.

After Violet goes missing, her father and family friends rush to the police station. Like any police station, the walls are lifeless, floor worn down, a boring, plain police office. The quick shift from a perfect family environment to a gloomy, dark and barren place is apparent and the book’s mood will shift considerably. 

Next we find Anna in New York City. Fast paced, big city life in a giant office building where her dreams are coming true. The office will be illuminated by bright fluorescent lights and shining white walls with beautiful photography lining them. The bright and inviting atmosphere in her office will serve as a stark contrast to the dirty subway station where Anna finds her missing friend. Pale yellow walls littered with graffiti and unkept concrete floors lead Anna to Max only minutes after leaving her simple and safe work environment.

The apartment in Brooklyn where much time in the book is spent, has to look completely wrecked to match Max’s inner turmoil. Things are broken, don’t match, and the place appears nearly empty. Paint is peeling off the walls, floor boards sticking up, rusty appliances, and all the makings of a barely livable space. 

In Swiftwater after Max is found, the old home she returns to is much more consistent with her transformation. Darker tones than the house before, but still clean and peaceful. It should reflect that Max has a darkness in her that won’t go away, but that is going to be a part of her new, more secure and confident self. 


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Assignment 1, the story statement

Three generations of Southern women have visions of dramatic events they don’t want and can't control, while navigating issues like potentially losing their organic farm and dealing with abusive people. The story alternates between modern-day Texas where Raine Walker tries to avoid and stop the visions that won’t leave her alone, and 1960s Tennessee, where Raine’s grandma Anna Mae obsessively follows her visions, considering them to be absolute truth. Ultimately, both women wind up in grave danger, and have to search out their own purposes in life.

Assignment 2, the antagonists

In this dual timeline story, in modern-day Texas two brothers ran a human trafficking ring. They buy a piece of property from Raine and her brother. They kidnap girls and women all over the country, and smuggle them into Mexico where they are sold at auction. They also want to destroy the Walkers chance of having a successful farm in the hopes that they will be able to buy the property have more privacy. Both brothers are very ambitious, and they plan things very carefully as if they are in a long-running chess game.

In 1960 Tennessee Phil Daley is a pedophile, rapist, and murderer. He had been arrested the year before for kidnapping, but the girl’s family ultimately dropped the charges, and with the help of a slick-talking lawyer, he gets off scot-free, to the absolute embarrassment of the sheriff’s department. This makes him more dangerous as the sheriff and his deputy are warned by the county commissioners to be more careful to not make false arrests. Phil is an expert guitarist and singer. He is extremely charming and clever.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: breakout title

The Second Sight of Anna Mae
Making Right
The Imperfect Order of Things

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: two smart comparables

Genre: Southern Gothic

Genevieve Hudson’s Boys of Alabama
Where the Crawdads Sing


Three generations of Southern women foresee future crimes and other mysterious events—in some cases reluctantly—while facing tremendous challenges in the present trying to determine the right things to do in their own lives.


Raine facing off against the human traffickers, and Anna Mae in conflict with the pedophile/rapist/murderer.  They both have insights that

Core wound:

That Raine caused her mother’s death. For Anna Mae that she is abused because she doesn’t follow order perfectly (she is obsessed).


protagonists’ inner conflict

Raine is conflicted because she doesn’t want the visions, but they come anyway. When she tries to ignore them they persist. They gradually become more and more serious, eventually describing violent crimes. She wants nothing to do with it but her higher self want to do the right thing. She goes to the police, with mixed results. She discovers that every vision she has is connected with her in some way. When they unknowingly sell part of their farm to criminals, a human trafficking operation literally becomes located in their backyard.

Anna Mae on the other hand thinks her visions are absolute truth, and must be acted on. She follows them obsessively, but over time she finds out that that can be a mistake, and what she once considered absolute truth may not be. When she goes to the police, they do not believe her.

protagonists’ secondary conflict

Raine tries to manage the family organic farm with her brother — whom she has a contentious relationship with — and her alcoholic stepfather. The farm is continuously losing money, and is in danger of being lost. She gets into a hostile relationship with the criminals who bought part of their property — without knowing they are criminals. This puts her in grave danger.

Anna Mae lives in a house with a physically abusive father, and a complicit mother. Her father has a terrible temper and tendencies to be violent. He throws her brother out of the house, threatening to shoot him. She counts the days until she turns eighteen so she can leave home, meanwhile she gets whipped for the slightest infraction. She has visions of a murderous pedophile named Phil Daley, and in the small town they live in, she occasionally runs into him.


In modern-day Texas Hill Country, the Walkers own a small organic farm next to the Guadalupe River. The property has 2 acres of pecan trees, and is irrigated from the river. The ground is fairly uneven with several small hills on the property, making it less efficient to farm but more interesting as far as character of the land is concerned. The soil they have is rich, and when they inherited the farm, they thought it would be an easy profit. With the water from the river the landscape is fairly lush, and the crops grow well. The house on the property is modeled after the old Tennessee plantation houses, two stories—unlike most houses in that area—with a balcony all the way across the front. The farm was built by Raine’s great-uncle Jake, and though he meant well, he was not a master builder. There are many things that are not perfect with the house. Still, she loads its rustic charm, and when they are faced with losing the property through foreclosure that makes it more difficult for her. There is also a dock on the property, that Jake had built for Anna Mae back in the nineteen sixties, that Raine loads to sit on and soak her feet in the cloudy waters of the Guadalupe River.

Anna Mae and her family live in the foothills of the great Smoky Mountains, at the edge of the great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hot, humid summers and cold winters plague them, but the forest the  house is nestled in is quite lush. They live on a gravel road, as many people in the area do. The forest has a thick canopy, letting very little light inside except for occasional splotches that hit the soft black dirt of the forest floor. The house Anna Mae’s family lives in is simple construction, made just after World War II, is not well insulated, and any conversation anywhere in the house can be heard by everyone. They have a small black and white television, but it is rarely used, except to watch Bonanza on Friday nights.

The sheriff station in Wears Valley Tennessee is pretty cramped for space. There is barely enough room for desks for the sheriff and his deputy. There is a holding cell in the back of the sheriff station, but to get any prisoners past the desks can be a bit of a squeeze. There are cracks in the floorboards, where one can actually see dirt underneath. Needless to say, this lets a lot of very cold air in during the winter months.

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First assignment: write your story statement.

I Will Never Fall is a memoir about my 35 years of life and how I have grown and gotten through each challenge in life.

Second assignment: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, the ways they react to the world around them.

Antagonist: My mom, my dad, my half-brother who molested me, the bullies I faced throughout my childhood, my disease, my spending addiction, my eating disorder.

Third assignment: create a breakout title.

I Will Rise.

Heartbreak and Breakthrough

A True Story You’ll Never Forget

Fourth assignment: Develop two smart comparables for your novel.

Genre: Memoir

Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Show Me All Your Scars by Andrea Rizzo

Fifth assignment: write your own hook line with conflict and core wound following the format above.

A 35-year-old women goes through the life of PTSD and trauma along with anxiety and depression. Read her struggles and how she combs through life piece by piece.

Sixth assignment: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will you feel turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out 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 social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Assoiciates? What is the nature of it?

I go through childhood PTSD, trauma, a multitude of medical diagnoses, cancer scares, over 15 surgeries, anxiety and depression, molestation, sexual assault by my half-brother, 3 identity thefts by my mother. These are all inner and social scenarios.

Seventh assignment: sketch out your setting in detail.

There a multitude of settings in I Will Never Fall including over 15 houses I lived in and 9 different school. Multiple surgery rooms and also images in my head played out by my anxiety and PTSD.

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#1. Story Statement:


Shirin needs to break the generational pattern of abuse at the hands of narcissists through self-actualization and healing.


#2. Antagonist/Antagonistic Force


The antagonistic force here is a psychological one: Anti-social narcissism, defined by self-aggrandizement and a lack of empathy and remorse. Chris, the narcissistic husband that Shirin leaves, becomes the window through which she discovers and processes all the narcissists in her, her mother and grandmother’s lives. Daddy is the main antagonist of the entire story, he remains unnamed to reflect the pain and destruction he has inflicted. 


He has been deemed special from his very genesis, being the first son to be born in multiple generations of a deeply patriarchal family, he is constantly given the message that others are meant to sacrifice for him because of his inherent superiority. He is able to attend the most prestigious schools and universities in his city, while his sisters are barely able to complete high school, he has the freedom to build a career and travel the world while his sisters never leave the city they were born in nor do they have any agency over the course of their own lives. When he gets married in his early thirties, he is already solidified in his belief of his exceptional value and judgements as a result of a complete lack of challenge and unrelenting effusive praise. He has no empathy because of his deeply entrenched belief that all of humanity exists only to serve him and his goals, and he has no remorse because in his self image all his actions are justified and the fault always lies with other inferior beings. Whenever he comes across a situation where his superiority is challenged, he becomes enraged and abandons jobs, blows up relationships and manipulates laws and social norms to his benefit. 


#3. Title options


I am not your Toy

I belong in my own arms

I choose the unknown

Reclaiming Me

Drops of Me


#4. Comparables

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


It illustrates how no culture is monolithic and just because women share an ethnic identity, it does not make them the same. The diversity of thought and complexity of relationships between women who are interconnected is something that I am focused on as well. 


Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Addresses the ripple effects of the actions of one human, and also confronts uncomfortable and socially taboo topics with maturity and nuance. This is something I am working on as well. 


#5. Hook line


Here are three options, I couldn’t decide between them:


Three generations of women who all end up with narcissistic men, but the youngest is working hard to break the cycle. Will she succeed? 


As Shirin finally breaks free from her narcissistic abuser, she begins to unravel her lifelong conditioning from her father and grandfather, and begins a journey to heal all 3 generations of women. Will she get derailed by the toxic men she meets along the way? How will she reconcile the life she desires with the lifestyle she has been taught to aspire to?


Shirin’s life has been defined by the whims of narcissistic men and she has finally had enough. She embarks on a journey to free herself from their orbit, and struggles to keep them off her path. As she heals herself and the generations of women before her, she must work hard to resist the ever present lure of the narcissist. 


#6. Inner conflict:


There are a couple of main reasons for inner conflict and turmoil for the main protagonist (Shirin):

  1. She is torn between her desire for sexual exploration as she is bisexual and has a very high drive and the years of conditioning embedding in her a deep guilt about extra marital sex. 

  2. She constantly finds herself attracted to toxic men, who feel like ‘home’ due to the deep influence of her father. She knows better intellectually, but struggles to resist their pull, especially in times of stress.

  3. She longs to live a life of freedom and nomadism, exploring different cultures and places, but she feels an inner admonishment pushing her to settle down and have the family life that her mom wants for her.   


#7. Settings:


There are different settings for all 3 major characters in the novel: Malika, her daughter Faryal and her daughter Shirin. The point is that even though they all experience trauma in completely different settings, they have a shared source of resilience: their spirituality.

Malika’s story is set in the turmoil of the separation of India and birth of Pakistan, where her husband is being hunted as a revolutionary and they escape narrowly with their lives. She ends up in a tiny town in the Himalayas at the insistence of her husband and this isolation from her large family sinks her further and further into depression.


Faryal grows up in quite a bohemian way in this Himalayan town, as a result of a lack of parenting, and her life after marriage is set in the overwhelming city of Karachi, in stark contrast to her childhood. She is eventually moved to Dubai, where she experiences a greater degree of freedom and builds enough confidence to give her daughter a life that she hopes will provide more options.


Shirin’s life is almost placeless, she bounces around between cities and countries fluidly, valuing the collection of unique experiences above all. She lives in Dubai, Karachi and Europe and also the coastal cities of the US, but no matter where she goes, her desire for community and connection remains paramount. Her dissociation with a geographical sense of home makes it easier for her to understand and chart the connections between the lives of the three women, and draw both warnings and inspiration for her own future. 

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1 - Story Statement

In the near future, Charlotte has managed to snag a place at Watson, the best school in the city, giving her a chance at college and a well-paying job. Food and employment are equally scarce. Fat is a sign of beauty, wealth and success; Charlotte is very thin. In Watson, she’s finally found a way to rescue her family from crushing poverty, but her victory lap is tainted by a grim diagnosis: a degenerative disease is slowly robbing her of her eyesight. This world is unforgiving to the disabled: blindness means no job, and no job means no future. If Charlotte is going to succeed, she must find a way to pay for the expensive nanotechnology capable of reversing her condition. She’s approached by Ever, a popular rich girl who offers access to the tech to fix her eyes in exchange for help with a personal project. The proposal seems like the solution to all her problems.


2 - Antagonist Statement

Relentless would-be assassins chase Charlotte and her friends deep into the city’s underground of body-augmented mobsters, corrupt cops, and the starving homeless, killing anyone who gets in the way. The antagonists dress in the uniform of the city’s political extremists, but there’s no clear reason why they would target a harmless group of high schoolers. They are proxies for the real villain, who harbors bone-deep resentment and rage, and seeks revenge as payment due for her misery. This villain (Ever’s mother) is rich and beautiful, but has suffered indignities and abuse, for which she blames her daughter.


3 - Working Titles



The City Underneath


4 - Comps

This story is YA Sci-Fi / Dystopian Thriller

Feed (MT Anderson)

We Set the Dark on Fire (Tehlor Kay Mejia)

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)

Moxyland (Lauren Beukes)

In Time (movie)


5 - Logline (Pitch)

In the not-too-distant future, Charlotte, poor and going blind, and Ever, rich but abused, make a pact to help each other escape their own personal hells; but someone wants to stop them–terminally.


6 - Conflict

Inner Conflict Charlotte is primarily driven by her desire to save her family from poverty, but the way she’s going about it is a deep source of shame, based on family values and her perception of how her mother will react to what she’s done to roll back her diagnosis. Although Charlotte ultimately believes the ends do justify the means, she still feels intense guilt about going against her parents’ inherently virtuous approach to earning vs handouts, and sneaking around behind their backs. 

Secondary Conflict – Further into the story, Charlotte comes up against a second (and more immediate conflict): if she stays with Ever, there’s a chance she could get killed, but if she leaves, she definitely won’t get her payment. This conflict morphs into something more intense; as Charlotte and Ever become real friends, leaving Ever behind means abandonment of someone she cares about. At this point, both girls feel guilt over dragging each other into their individual drama; as each realizes the other believes her cause is good and not at all selfish, they become allies invested in each other’s survival, leaving the transactional nature of their early relationship behind.


7 - Setting

The story takes place over a single night in a city implied to be Manhattan about 100 years in the future. While the individual scene settings change, all of them are relatable to the city, even without working knowledge the layouts of today’s neighborhoods. Parts of the city are upscale and clean, overwhelmed with restaurants, ads, and cars; others are barren reminders of poverty. Some of the story takes place underground, moving between clubs, tunnels that used to be part of a pre-flood subway system, and buried stations. Having the majority of the story taking place at night, and then further and further underground, is a deliberate choice; using darkness in conjunction with desperation is meaningful when they finally emerge into the light (which is also not safe).

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Caroline must release her fears of not being good enough and embrace who she is to find love.

After Caroline’s father abandons her and her fiancé jilting her for her best friend, she doubts self worth, and is ready to retreat into her old pattern of disappearing. Her late aunt’s will forces Caroline to push herself to figure out who she is and find love, or she’ll lose the inheritance.



Caroline is her own worst enemy. She is riddled with doubts and cannot believe William could love her unless he has ulterior motives. Instead of facing her problems and attempting to find love, Caroline spirals into chaos by focusing on living her Regency dreams.

Her choices complicate the problem she faces. The farm animals are a nuisance. The Peacock is mercenary. And Caroline is not telling the people she trusts about her problems, and continually makes worse choices by not using a sounding board in the belief that she is making progress by not relying on others like she did with her ex-fiancé.

The stipulation to find love in Aunt Diana’s will is a secondary antagonistic force. Caroline is pressured to act quickly to find love. But because she is uncomfortable with herself, she avoids the core solution which would be to date, and instead runs off on wild tangents. Other people like the gold-diggers, the money-grubbing cousin, and fake fiancé influence Caroline’s decision to pursue a loophole to her aunt’s contingency.



The Darcy Diaries: My Deplorable Love Life

Regency Rewritten

Pretense and Propriety



Austenland (in reverse) by Shannon Hale

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters



After getting jilted by a "Mr. Collins" and gaining an inheritance with a caveat to find love, Caroline recreates Regency England in Connecticut to find a "Mr. Darcy"—but she's fallen for the wrong guy and stands to lose the estate.



Caroline doesn’t feel like she is worthy of love and compares herself to other. She has continually tried to remake herself to fit others’ expectations. Her sister is loud, beautiful, and vivacious. Her father is demanding and controlling. Her fiancé expected her to remain drab so he would shine. She doesn’t know who she is. Through getting to know her late aunt, she discovers it’s okay to be unique, to speak up, and take a chance to find love.

Caroline knows she can’t accept a gold-digger, but when William shows genuine interest in her, she pushes him away. Instead, she accepts a counterfeit love by hiring a fake fiancé who will fulfill her Regency role playing and cover the stipulation in the contract. But the lies eat at her because she strove to be honest in the past. Her inner conflict narrows her options down to two choices: continue lying to retain what she thinks she wants or be true to herself and risk her heart.



The setting is contemporary Old Saybrook, Connecticut—which features spots with small town charm, grand estates, and the Sound. Old Saybrook is also close enough to Hartford to attend events such as the ballet and airport. 

Caroline’s normal life is at the bank, her apartment, and visiting her sister’s house with post modern furniture. Stepping into a Colonial building at the attorney’s office sparks Caroline’s imagination of belles at balls. The majority of the scenes take place at Caroline’s Victorian mansion, including a gourmet kitchen, sumptuous master bedroom, a dream closet, music room, parlor, a secret passage, her sailboat, and “farm”. 


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1.     Story Statement – A young girl must save her family from ruin by uncovering the real reason her mother fled Italy.

2.     The Antagonist – Jeanette Russo is the antagonist/antagonistic force, as well as the protagonist’s older sister. At the beginning of the novel, Jeanette and Maddy (the protagonist) are constantly fighting. Maddy wants to be included in Jeanette’s life, but Jeanette wants independence and space. After Jeanette’s eighteenth birthday, she starts playing piano every Saturday night at a local hotspot. Along with her new adult life comes a new adult love in the form of a married man, a secret she doesn’t want to share with her judgmental little sister who is resistant to change. Jeanette doesn’t speak up for herself, which is also a major issue for Maddy. Both Maddy and Jeanette grew up in a household where secrets were swept under the rug. But after Jeanette’s silence about her husband’s infidelity causes her death, it forces Maddy to find her voice and demand answers of her family in a way she never dared to before.

3.     Breakout Titles

My Mother’s Daughter

The Family on Hudson Street

I’ll Be Seeing You

Distant Daughter

Learning How to Love in Italian

Madeline Russo Learns Italian

4.     Comparable TitlesFlorence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland – but the family is Italian ; In Five Years by Rebecca Serle – but with sisters instead of best friends

5.     Core Wound and the Primary Conflict – A young woman, dying to understand her mother’s emotional distance, confronts her about the truth of her dark past.

6.     Inner Conflict – The protagonist, Maddy Russo, is dying for love and acceptance from her mother; however, her mother has always been cold and distant. Whenever Maddy asks her mother questions about her past in Italy, she’s shut down quickly and made to feel bad for asking. Throughout her formative years, she was told that only bad girls ask questions because they didn’t know their place. So, she remained silent, which was hard for her since she is naturally inquisitive. She thinks that if she can just get her mother to share the story of her past, that this admission will bring the women closer together, and Maddy will finally get the love she’s been looking for her entire life.

Secondary Conflict – Maddy and her sister, Jeanette, fight the way only sisters can, with equal parts love and hate. But even though Maddy knows her sister loves her she is terrified of saying the wrong thing and losing Jeanette’s love. The fact that Jeanette picks a terrible man, Jack, to marry is a thread that runs the distance of the novel. At several points, Maddy catches Jack out with another woman and is forced to decide whether to say something about the infidelity to Jeanette or keep her mouth shut. Maddy knows her sister would be resistant to her poking her head where it doesn’t belong, but Maddy just wants to keep her sister safe.

7.     Setting – The story revolves around the small town of Hackensack, NJ and starts on the day of Mussolini’s assassination. Hackensack at the end of World War II and the subsequent decade is filled with Italian immigrants and their first-generation offspring. The entire town is like one large family; everyone is in each other’s face and business.

·       Maddy works at Robbie’s Music Store with her best friend, Frankie Ferrante who later becomes her love interest, teaching accordion lessons to the middle school kids. The eccentric owner, Robbie, is always cooking up ridiculous schemes to drum up business at Maddy’s expense.

·       On Saturday nights, Jeanette plays piano at the local bar, Benny’s. Jeanette and Maddy’s father, Albert, used to bring the girls there on Saturday afternoons when they were little so he could play dominoes with his friends and give his wife, Maria, a break from the children. Maddy always thought of Benny’s as the place where union workers go after their shift. But when Maddy starts going to Benny’s with Jeanette, she sees a whole other world than the one in her memory.

·       Saint Francis Catholic Church is the epicenter of the town, especially on Sunday mornings when everyone attends mass to pray and gossip. However, Maddy attends this church every morning before school because they hold mass in Italian at 6 am, and she wants to learn the language because she believes knowing it will bring her closer to her mother. They also host the town carnival every spring.

·       As with all good Italian families, Sunday dinner is the major event of the week. All of Maddy’s relatives come over to her house. Aunt Susie, the eternally flashy Jersey girl with her bright red nails and thick Jersey accent, regales the women with juicy gossip while they make dinner. Maddy’s Nonna with her crooked fingers and hunched back yells at the women for trading other people’s secrets. In the dining room the men play cards and drink wine while accusing each other loudly of cheating.

Much of the novel takes place in the Russo home at 447 Hudson Street. It is the family hub. But the house at 447 Hudson and the town of Hackensack itself are these cozy enclaves that give the reader insight into Maddy, her fear of change, and her love of family, home, and routine.

Maddy Algonkian Writer Conference .docx

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1. Story Statement- When a Voodoo God of Death abandons the Underworld to entertain himself, death spirits are being killed and humans can’t die.


2. The Antagonist- After Baron Samedi abandons his duties for a life of debauchery in the human world, death spirits are being randomly slaughtered. As a result, humans cannot pass into the afterlife, having been forced into longer excruciating deaths. A young Jamaican high school student, Taroen Stewart, trying to impress a girl by stealing graveyard dirt, encounters a Congolese spirit, who, along with an assortment of other grim reapers, force him to search for Baron Samedi to compel him his return to the Underworld. Taroen is uniquely unqualified for the task, having no experience in the voodoo or the occult. He resents being pressed into service and hostilities dramatically increase when he finds out that he actually the son of Baron Samedi.


3.  Breakout Titles-Death Spirits Rising: The Books of Samedi

      When Death Walks Out

 The Voodoo Prince

4.  Stormfront by Jim Butcher, the Netflix Series Lucifer


5.  Hook line: Dead people bore him, sunrises intrigue him, but when death quits his job, the living will suffer.


6.  Inner Turmoil: Taroen Stewart wants to be a normal teenager, but instead he is forcibly dragged into an world he wasn’t aware even existed. With his life on the line, and forced to deliver a wily, wanton voodoo death god to a cemetery, Taroen is terrified when certain powers arise in him. He later learns that an entity he is the son of Baron Samedi.


7. Social Conflict: Baron Samedi has taken over the body of handsome thirty something lawyer.He spends time enjoying human carnal, culinary and intellectual pleasures. He has no desire to the “go back to dead guy land.”


Other death spirits, an Irish banshee, a French grim reaper, and Charon the Greek Ferryman, cannot fulfill their respective duties, escorting the newly dead to heaven, hell or purgatory. The death spirits are as terrified as Taroen because they are being killed by the necromancer who possessed a knife that kills them. A Catholic priest from Taroen’s school who is familiar with all the parties involved attempts to strike a balance between the spirits, Taroen and Baron Samedi.


8. Setting- Dark Spirits Rising enters world of dark, urban fantasy.


The story occurs in urban cities of Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey. The opening scene occurs in the Underworld as the Baron is digging a grave for a newly executed murderer. After he sends the murderer’s soul to hell, he then sees the open grave as an entrance to the living world. Assuming the body of a young handsome lawyer, he seeks out a voodoo priestess to enjoy expensive booze, sex, fine cuisine, and interacting humans in the city streets. One of the Banshees is murdered on the streets of Chelsea by the same necromancer who is responsible for the killing other death spirits.


The final scene in the book takes place in an old, converted gymnasium in Jersey City where the death spirits led by Samedi fight the necromancer to prevent Taroen’s girlfriend from being a human sacrifice for the necromancer.



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