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New York Write to Pitch 2022 - Seven Assignments (12/22)

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Introduction to Pre-event Assignments 

New York Pitch The below seven assignments are vital to reaching an understanding of specific and critical core elements that go into the creation of a commercially viable genre novel or narrative non-fiction. Of course, there is more to it than this, as you will see, but here we have a good primer that assures we're literally all on the same page before the event begins.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit"). Pay special attention to antagonists, setting, conflict and core wound hooks.

And btw, quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind. Be aggressive with your work.

Michael Neff

Algonkian Conference Director


att.jpg After you've registered and logged in, create your reply to this topic (button top right). Please utilize only one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered. Also, strongly suggest typing up your "reply" in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!



Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist? The goal? What must be done?

What must this person create? Save? Restore? Accomplish? Defeat?... Defy the dictator of the city and her bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Struggle for control over the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)? Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)? Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)? Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)? Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive the plot line (see also "Core Wounds and Conflict Lines" below).

att.jpg FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement. 



Antagonist (Photo Javert from "Les Misérables")

What are the odds of you having your manuscript published if the overall story and narrative fail to meet publisher demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict? Answer: none. You might therefore ask, what major factor makes for a quiet and dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind like a mallet hitting a side of cold beef? Answer: the unwillingness or inability of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash.

Let's make it clear what we're talking about.

By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).


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



What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours. Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

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



Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables? When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.

Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps. There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.

Most likely you will need to research your comps. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way. Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!

By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!

att.jpg FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: - Read this NWOE article on comparables then return here.

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



Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related, and all going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. You need tension on the page at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create conflict and complications in the plot and narrative. Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you MUST have present in the novel. First part, the primary dramatic conflict which drives through the work from beginning to end, from first major plot point to final reversal, and finally resolving with an important climax. Next, secondary conflicts or complications that take various social forms - anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters. Finally, those various inner conflicts and core wounds all important characters must endure and resolve as the story moves forward.

But now, back to the PRIMARY DRAMATIC CONFLICT. If you've taken care to consider your story description and your hook line, you should be able to identify your main conflict(s). Let's look at some basic information regarding the history of conflict in storytelling. Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter" or "hero") and the antagonist corresponding to the villain (whatever form that takes). The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later drama critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her. The above defines classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY. And of course, you need to have conflict or complications in nonfiction also, in some form, or you have a story that is too quiet.

For examples let's return to the story descriptions and create some HOOK LINES. Let's don't forget to consider the "core wound" of the protagonist. Please read this article at NWOE then return here.

  • The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
  • A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.
  • Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
  • After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
  • As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinn who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any. Also, is the core wound obvious or implied?

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



As noted above, consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve. You must note the inner personal conflicts elsewhere in this profile, but make certain to note any important interpersonal conflicts within this particular category."

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

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



When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story. A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier. Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.


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


Below are several links to part of an article or whole articles that we feel are the most valuable for memoir writers.

We have reviewed these and agree 110%.



Are you thinking of writing a memoir but you're stuck? We've got the remedy. Check out our beginner's guide on writing an epic and engaging memoir.



MEMOIR REQUIRES TRANSCENDENCE. Something has to happen. Or shift. Someone has to change a little. Or grow. It’s the bare hack minimum of memoir.



When it comes to writing a memoir, there are 5 things you need to focus on. If you do, your powerful story will have the best chance of impacting others.



Knowing how to write an anecdote lets you utilize the power of story with your nonfiction and engage your reader from the first page.


Michael Neff
Algonkian Producer
New York Pitch Director
Author, Development Exec, Editor

We are the makers of novels, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

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First Assignment – Story Statement

Elwin needs to survive the coming revolution long enough to earn enough money to escape out of Luxton’s poorest neighborhood – without getting her friends killed first.


Second Assignment – Antagonist

The Governor – Silk to his friends, the number of which he could count on one hand – had been a thief, merchant and spy before the Goddess had plucked him out of his normal life.  The divinity had given him one job: protect the girl until she could fulfill her destiny.  And they had – he, Palston, that half mad witch, completely mad wizard, and besotted princeling.  They’d put her on the throne and gotten her up the mountain where she’d stuffed the Emperor and his Demon Lord back into the seven hells.  As a reward, the girl had made him Royal Governor of Luxton.  Silk vowed to hold it.  The Emperor was gone, but his Empire remained, plotting revenge.  The kingdom needed Luxton’s armories and charm makers to defend its borders.  No collection of apprentices, workers, and nuns who didn’t understand their place in the world was going to upset the ordered running of those industries, not while Silk breathed.  If that meant meeting protests with demons, Church Guards, and other holy instruments of violence, so be it.  He promised to hold the city for his Queen and his Goddess and he would – whether they approved of his methods or not.


Third Assignment – Titles

 The Fire of Fools and Knaves

Gunpowder Demons

No Kings. No Masters. No Demons.


Fourth Assignment – Comps

Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennet.  Second world fantasy with a mix of technology and magic, and thief who ends up thrust into politics against her will.

Blocktongue Thief – Christopher Buehlman.  Second world fantasy with a sense of humor, focused on a character interested in their own advancement whose self-interest draws them into bigger struggles.

 Fifth Assignment – Log Line

 A thief and magic taster stumbles upon an item that everyone in her revolution torn city wants – its her way out of poverty if she can survive long enough and if she can stomach the amount of innocent blood she’ll have to spill to cash in.


Sixth Assignment – Core Conflict

Life as a thief in the Wreck has taught Elwin that people like her can merely hope to make their way in the world, nit make the world better, whatever her old friend Beanpole and his revolutionaries think.  So when she steals a charm that every side in the conflict is willing to pay for, she jumps at the chance to turn it into enough coin to escape the grinding poverty of her life.  But politics is a bloody game, and the more she tries to simply make her way out, the more her friends pay the price.  Ultimately she has to decide: is making her way instead of making the way better worth the cost in innocent blood?


Seventh Assignment –Setting

Luxton is the largest city on the continent.  Nestled in the lowest pass separating the plains form the Empire and resting on the Great Lake, it is a natural commercial and immigration hub.  The influx of people form all over the continent, and Gnomes fomr the mountain, have made it the magic, cultural and industrial center of the continent, a jewel fought over for centuries.  The wealthy merchants build towering mansions to their egos, the First Families spend their inherited fortunes on gambling, plays and artists, pretending not to notice the industrialists buying their way into power and prestige.

The Wreck is everything Luxton does not wish to believe itself to be – poor, desperate, violent.  It is the home of forgotten shops, forgotten religious orders, and forgotten people.  Run by gangs, ignored by the city’s rulers, its citizens make their way in the world as best they can with only a few dreaming of making the way better.


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  1. Story Statement: Darcy must create a hit podcast that exposes the women of FUNDUN and their plot—saving her career and democracy.

  2. Antagonists: The women of FUNDUN are the antagonists of my story. Most defined and notable are Delilah and Ethel: Delilah because she is the ringleader and Ethel because she is Darcy’s entry point into the world of FUNDUN and seems to see things in Darcy that she doesn’t see in herself. The women as a whole represent a toxic force in American society exemplified by Trump and the political climate in the background of the novel. I have wondered if the women of FUNDUN are humanized and played for humor too often/in ways that downplay their antagonistic characteristics. Tyler is another antagonist in the novel, and I’ve wondered if his character swings too far toward hyperbole. He represents white male privilege in the Bay Area, and the obliviousness of tech bro culture, especially in the face of such stark income inequality. These characteristics are exemplified by other men throughout the story, from bad dates to shared ride passengers, who could potentially come across as stereotypes or one-dimensional. 

  3. Titles: Undivisible - this is my working title and one that I’m very tied to BUT I realize it is not actually a word (which is part of the point), meaning that it might be hard for people to search for/find but also won’t compete with other similar titles. Other options: some sort of play on startup…something with FUNDUN (but same issues as above). Move Fast and Break Things. 

  4. Comps: The Verifiers by Jane Pek and Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky. Both are funny and fast-paced, and take on the hypocrisies of contemporary society while also featuring complex, flawed female protagonists. 

  5. Hook line: Desperate to escape from her dead-end job and prove her merit as a journalist, Darcy infiltrates and secretly records a group of militant white supremacist women in the run-up to the 2016 election. 

  6. Inner conflict: Darcy feels increasingly anxious throughout the ordeal with FUNDUN. She’s torn between her loneliness and desire to find a community with the uncomfortable reality that the women with whom she’s spending the majority of her time are bigoted and violent. At the Vegas buffet, when someone accidentally kicks the recorder Darcy is wearing in her boot and it starts playing, Darcy is on the verge of having a panic attack as she imagines being discovered. Secondary conflict: Darcy’s secondary conflict revolves around her difficulty dating and finding connection and community in San Francisco. She doesn’t get along with one of her two roommates, her closest work friend doesn’t come through for her, and her best friend from college is living a very different life in a city across the country. 

  7. Setting: San Francisco is a character in this novel: quirky, increasingly homogenous, hilly and dense, the city is brimming with contradictions and only seemingly with possibilities. I do worry that the tech satire is a bit played out, and want to make sure it comes across as fresh and not played out. 


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What If The Devil…Banished God…From Heaven?



Helel is the co-creator of a heavenly realm called Alegion with Adonai. Close as brothers, together they utilize a planetary dominion in the effort to grow an instinctual need to create and learn about their evolving powers. That is, until an unforeseen clash of wills over how to govern humankind on the planet Eden commences; and the one who remained with a handful of Morning Stars (Guardian Angels) on Alegion, is not the being we were led to believe. Helel casts out Adonai to the plane of humanity. In lieu of killing each other, they try to get the other to submit to their ways via the manipulation of humankind throughout history. Watching from above, Helel is the aggressor but knows confronting Adonai on Eden’s plane could lead to death. Eventually, Adonai knows one must die – but Helel uses a loyal and resourceful cult of humans from afar to break the will of Adonai. Once Helel can accomplish the task at hand, the last living creator will descend on Eden – under the guise as a “Savior.” Choices the last standing creator enacts upon humankind becomes veiled…as does who will rise to challenge the misleading Helel.    



DOMINATURE: What If The Devil…Banished God…From Heaven…





“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith in terms of the alternate history approach to a familiar story (i.e. The Bible) complimented with the self-aware humor that evolves as the story opens up in modern times.

“The Devil's Workshop: A Metaphysical Extravaganza” by Donnally Miller for its philosophical tone woven through an adventurous action-packed exploration.

I would just like to add this has grounded fantasy approach similar to what Christopher Nolan executed with his “Dark Knight” film franchise by infusing larger-than-life characters in a more reality based tone.



When the “Devil” banishes “God” from heaven, how will humankind react to learning the true nature about their creation while having to interact with both moral, deceptive, and violent divine beings.


Adonai must deal with counteracting Helel’s manipulative treachery while imprisoned on the plane of humankind. Adonai, though pure at heart, is morally bound by a portal used to travel from their realm of Alegion to humanity’s. Said portal governs the divine’s power while roaming Eden. However, Helel makes a risky play to violate these laws – which gives Adonai an idea on how to accomplish the goal of luring, and then destroying, the corrupt co-creator – despite having to violate the moral code embedded and thereby nullifying “God’s” lifeforce.

Helel initiates a natural disaster to distract Adonai; which allows the former to sneak onto Eden. Helel then romantically manipulates a woman named Mary to birth a spawn (Jesus) – who could potentially undo Adonai’s influence. Essentially the Devil’s offspring, Adonai reluctantly brings Jesus to a harsh justice (death). By doing so, Adonai willfully violates the divine governing laws while on Eden (in this case, directly causing physical harm to humankind). That said, as centuries pass, Adonai wrestles with the idea of birthing a demigod through a human as Helel once did. This deceptive act would end the existence of Adonai – who is humankind’s best protection against The Devil. However, if Helel believes Adonai has died, and takes the bait, a Devil can then descend upon Eden – unaware that Adonai’s heir does have the power to administer a deathblow – if the heir accepts this destiny. 

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

After Adonai resorts to ending the life of Jesus, those select humans who assisted, choose to create a written lie (The Bible) to ensure a non-violent moralistic path for humankind – which will hopefully keep Helel’s influence at bay. Adonai struggles with this for its implementation involves wielding evil’s tools at various points throughout history. By enacting this, Adonai implores humankind to believe and nurture a lie. Meeting key individuals who are privy to this ancient agenda, some start to lose faith and question what they fight for; leading to betrayal and death; therefore, allowing a Devil to potentially gain and wield balance-shifting power through its unwavering human disciples.



DOMINATURE starts the reader off in a divine realm in the cosmos. An excerpt for how I describe it is pasted here:

Akin to night overtaking the setting sun, a steady tint of

brightness accents the dark void of infinite space. The vast

mirage of a seemingly transparent floor canvas yields a landscape

encompassing structures built from materials so refined, the

human mind would not be able to articulate if asked.

Standing with an upward gaze at a conversation taking place on a

high-rise tower is a human-like being, fair mannered in expression,

though imposing in stature. Unable to hear the dialogue of said conversation,

the being appears to be hanging on every word as another,

slightly more masculine, approaches.

“They’ve been meeting. All have noticed. Is there belief you’ll decipher

what equation their powerful minds circumvent at this time,


Gerwen, not diverting the gaze, says in a deep tonal voice, “Which is

why you come forth now? Taun’s inquisitive spirit wonders as well.”

“I have no yearning for what our creators Adonai and Helel discuss

until ready to divulge,” claims Taun. “They have our trust. Inform us

prior to their public decree, this you know.”

Gerwen breaks the concentration and walks down a staircase towards

a valley sporadically populated by similar-looking beings. They are met

by Zamus and Quen, also blessed with physical prowess and height,

both of which equally curious to the dealings of their creators.

“If true, new life has sprung over our domain,” says an eloquent

Quen. “Though the catalyst remains mysterious.”

“Mysterious?” says the blunt Zamus. “The answer lies with the two

of Gerwen’s persistent focus.”

“No matter,” says Taun. “Whether spawned from Adonai and Helel

or an unknown, all we can do is observe from this realm. Let us rejoice if

their life comes with attractive engagement.”

“Perhaps, extending our influential engagement is the discussion

they have,” adds Gerwen.

“Engagement?” says Zamus. “Sharing our presence as the four of us

stand now?”

“Bliss coddles our ever-existence,” says Taun. “To give this willing to

sub-beings? Worthy has no species proved.”

“Our ever-existence you speak of, Taun, consumes knowledge for this

plane created by the pinnacle of a hierarchy,” says Gerwen. “With

purpose, we nurture. With purpose, we advance. Without purpose, static

power, we become. Is this not where our realm of Alegion stands now?”

Pondering Gerwen’s audacious proclamation about the heavenly

state of Alegion, the trio watch Gerwen separate from the discussion.

Eventually the remaining disperse amongst the plane of frosted glass, as

the constant fiery glow of the universe’s brightest star surrounds their



locks only moving as Adonai’s body turns to continue with Helel after a

brief pause in conversation. Mirror images of each other - the only

noticeable differences are the length of their hair, with Helel’s resting

longer on the collarbone, and Adonai’s piercing wide eyes. The creators

lean against a wall of their private chamber atop an uncovered monumental

pillar. In the cosmos, registering clear through their optic lens of

vision despite the distance, is a blue orb with assortments of landmasses.


From there, the story toggles between present day in such places as the bustling midtown Atlanta area, the inner sanctums of The Vatican, and a secret hi-tech compound in the U.K. Eventually the distinct timelines explain why certain actions are happening beginning with the divines embedding themselves during the start of the Roman Empire era. Thorough research of politics and culture are referenced to help set the tone for how the divines maneuvered amongst the human population. Once the timelines come together about halfway through, this becomes a globe-trotting exploration with settings of Antarctica, various monuments, and the Doomsday Vault in Norway hosting key action sequences. Everyday settings such as parks, bars, and lavish parties are sprinkled in to advance character development and bridge story beats via character dialogue…

Walking through the pristine garden trail, the monumental tower

enchants their eyes as they gawk at the crystal-clear reflection hitting the

manmade pool just feet away from where they stand. Getting closer, they

see the golden door surrounded by a moat. Michael goes to the left of the

tower as Giancarlo takes the right. They scope it out, meeting in the back

at the sundial, shining ever so bright in the sunlight.

As the story transcends from psychological to a physical chess match with divine influenced natural disasters happening across the world, the story jumps into the near future (2028) where the ancient continent of Pangea is reformed - wiping out half the population. This all climaxes to an immortal battle at the refurbished roman Colosseum where the fantastical elements laid out in the story crescendo.

Other excerpts articulating the early reformation of Pangea:


SCIENTISTS ON ANTARCTICA’S OUTER MONITORING STATIONS ARE CONTINUING their years-long study of the climate change effect from the trilogy of volcanic eruptions in 2020. That is, until the central ice shelf has ridden a

surf pushing them north for the last twenty minutes or so. Off in the

distance, their sonar imaging has two giant landmasses the shape of

India and Australia seemingly barreling towards their location.

In the center of the now moving icy continent, Guardian Angels were

instructed by Helel to gather with Gerwen here, as rumors of trying to

instigate a return to Alegion is the cause for the worldly overhaul. The

continental movements draw concern on their faces, yet what they are

enduring is minimal compared to other areas of Eden.



Yuri, watching the world reconfiguration nullifying the Atlantic Ocean

on Jenson’s laptop. Europe is seemingly moved as a lever with the

extended land attachments of Russia and Asia being swung up to the

North Pole. When zooming in, portions of countries are ripped apart

with the remains settling on opposite ends of the hemispheres. Certain

areas seem to be experiencing less movement, such as South America.

Then there’s Japan which ended up west of China and Russia.

Peering out from under the tunnels in the Colosseum, The Devil’s

band is watching Helel on an in-arena platform, deeply locked in a

grueling trance.



of the oceans go inland, wiping out clusters of a helpless humanity.

Going further inland, structures continue to crush the ones who built

them up as achievements to advancing their way of life. The lone

Morning Star tries to physically move people out of harm’s way, though

the sheer volume of destruction renders Valen in a state of helplessness.



constant pain as he can feel the cries of a rattled world. Making his way

outside, he sees a growing, dark horizon approaching from miles out.

Ascending to the top of the tower, he knows Helel is manipulating the

elements. Michael tries to muster up divine antibodies to slow whatever

viral ploy is attacking Eden. The force which Michael meets head on has

an unrelenting momentum for his only half God-like spirit. Exhausting

every effort, the pressure submits Michael down on his knees and then to

his back, drained like never before since ingesting these powers.



shadow over the sky with disturbed seas comprised of dead fish, animal

carcasses, and human remains. Surviving humanity slowly rises together

to see yet another altering change in their existence. Shortly after the

rumbling subsided, the Antichrist is branded the culprit. Footage from

the Colosseum is shown encompassing a fatigued Helel with tactful

headlines annotating the Savior’s efforts to stop the assault as he did a

few years ago.

Murky satellite imagery shows the world has literally come together.

Shots from Morocco lie in the spots where Boston and New York City

once stood. Places such as Iran are no longer landlocked. Cuba crashed

into Louisiana and Texas. The Bahamas and other similar-sized islands

were run through by larger landmasses, negating their existence. A death

toll projection ranges from half the population to near extinction.

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Assignment 1: Story Statement

I had to get off opioids or kill myself. But until I resolved the trauma behind my addiction, survival was an illusion.


Assignment 2: The Antagonist

The main antagonist in my story is opioid addiction. Additional villains include a shattered self-worth, relentless shame, and betrayal. On the societal level, big pharma takes the prize as the greediest antagonist. The arrogance and ignorance of some doctors adds them to the list as well.

Several human antagonists pepper my story, starting with the boy in the first chapter who tries to brain me with a spiked 2x4.

As a police officer I get into a life and death battle with a giant of a man wanted for murder; try to stop a guy from killing two girl hostages only to watch him blow his head off; and rush into a burning house to rescue a woman who didn’t want to be rescued.

At my first rehab, I’m in a desperate struggle with a girl who is trying to slice her wrists open with a shattered beer mug. Then there’s the deranged patient at the psych ward who pins me in a chair and tries to bite off my face.

Toward the end of my story, nature plays the role of antagonist when a monstrous fire destroys an entire town, including my house and everything in it.


Assignment 3: Titles

Junkie: A Memoir of Trauma, Opioid Addiction, and Recovery

Damaged, Not Broken: A Memoir of Trauma, Addiction, Recovery, and Hope

Junkie: A Police Chief’s Spiral into Opioid Addiction and the Cruel Road to Recovery


Assignment 4: Comparables

I’ve chosen the following memoirs because they speak to the same reader I hope to reach with my story. That audience includes addicts, recovering addicts, and the family and friends of addicts. It also includes all those people brave enough to work in the field of addiction and mental health treatment. And any reader who has experienced significant trauma in their life is also on the list.

If We Break: A Memoir of Marriage, Addiction, and Healing     by Kathleen Buhle; Crown Publishing, 2022

The Weight of Air: A Story of the Lies About Addiction and the Truth About Recovery     by David Poses; Sandra Jones Publishing House, 2021


Assignment 5: Logline

I kick the opioids, but lose my career as a police chief and every shred of self-worth. On the verge of suicide, I check into a psych ward where an attack by a deranged patient changes my life.


Assignment 6: Conflicts 

Inner Conflict:

No one grows up wanting to be a mentally ill drug addict. But that’s exactly what happens to me. I plummet from a police chief at the top of his game, to a hopeless addict chewing opioid meds to chase the high and stave off withdrawals.

In my memoir, I struggle with accepting that I’m an opioid addict suffering from severe depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I have a hard time letting go of who I used to be and battle adapting to my limitations.

After I lose my job and health, anything I perceive as abandonment or betrayal triggers me into an unreasonable fit of anger. This is inevitably followed by a full-blown panic attack. Next is the relentless shame for acting like an asshole.

It’s not until I survive a brutal attack at a psych ward that I realize I still want to live. And it isn’t as much about the assault as it is about how I fight back, subdue my assailant, and turn him over to the staff. Then I’m finally able to get healthy and even start helping others on their road to recovery.


Secondary Conflict:

A secondary conflict in my memoir concerns our society’s callous treatment of people struggling with addiction and mental health challenges. In America, these folks are generally screwed. Many insurance companies pay absolutely nothing toward drug addiction rehabilitation or mental health counseling. Or if they do, it’s a trip to a detox center where dealing with rats and cockroaches is the norm. Buyer beware. My wife and I had to sell our home to pay for my first rehab. We went into significant debt on my second trip. And I had a lot more resources than many folks in this nation.

In my experience, the lack of effective treatment options stems from the stigma that still surrounds being an addict or having mental health disorders. I was told “never trust an addict” on more than one occasion. This must change. As a police chief and opioid addict, I lived on both sides of the drug crisis fence. It is crystal clear to me that arresting and incarcerating people with addiction and/or mental health problems is counterproductive and inhumane.


Assignment 7: Setting

The opening image is a brief flashback of me cloistered in an apartment bathroom staring into a half-empty bottle of opioid medication. The seductive white capsules are supposed to last a month. I’d taken half in less than one week. I stick the bottle of meds into a plastic bag, wrap the bag in an entire roll of tape, and shove it away into the corner of my closet. The pills are gone in two days.

Then the setting changes to present-time at my psychologist’s office in the quaint mountain town of Silver City, New Mexico. Her office is located on the second floor of an old brick building that was a brothel back in the days when Billy the Kid was living in town. The ancient brick walls are adorned with pictures of southwest desert and canyon scenes, and there are always fresh-cut flowers on her wooden desk.

My counselor and I sit in identical overstuffed chairs with no barriers between us for most of our sessions. But we manage to get out of the office a few times over the following year to stroll along the creek, or wander through the town’s charming and tattered historic district.

During these counseling sessions, we flashback to a number of settings that span my life from age six to sixty.

The first flashback is in a weed and trash choked field bordering a modest suburban neighborhood. I’m a six-year-old fighting for my life against a kid swinging a nail-studded board at my head while being cheered on by a ring of older kids. Another childhood story details a sixth-grade drunken orgy at a secluded lake that involves beer, whiskey, and sex between two of my friends.

As a police officer, I respond to a call of a giant man beating up one of our local hookers in the parking lot of a hotel that rents rooms by the hour. Other scenes feature a burning house containing a naked woman on her bed, smoking a cigarette; a jail cell where the inmate (who beat his mom to death with a hammer) has hidden a knife and handcuff key to make his escape; and a coffee shop where a young man is pointing a gun at two girl hostages.

After losing my job, the flashback settings include me on my bathroom floor screaming, writhing, and sweating for hours on end while opioid withdrawals wrack my body and mind; a county-run detox center in Hawaii that has been taken over by dry rot, rats, centipedes, and cockroaches so big you can hear then scamper; and my first rehab center that is also in Hawaii and looks like a tropical Polynesian village but is so poorly run that drugs, alcohol, and violence run rampant.

Back on the mainland, I check myself into a psych ward that could’ve doubled as the set for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where I’m viciously attacked by another patient.

The final flashbacks are set at a high-end rehab facility in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona. The place is like a cross between a college campus and a five-star resort. The food menu is dominated by steak, lobster, an omelet bar, and chocolate caramel cheesecake that will always remain in my dreams.

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Story Statement:

Vivian, a TV art appraiser, yearns to tell her son the truth about his late father’s affair, but that means confronting Patty, his supposed mistress, to find out what really happened between them on that tragic night he died, a night Vivian wanted to bury forever.


At fifteen, Patty wrestles with a tenuous grip on reality, secretly has a baby, and when her father finds out, he makes her give it up for adoption. She later runs away with her boyfriend but accidentally causes his death at a rest stop and will remain obsessed over him for the rest of her severely troubled life.

As an adult she becomes a highly manipulative high school art teacher and has an inappropriate relationship with a student as a psychologically disturbed way of recreating her earlier relationship with her late boyfriend. That student is Vivian’s son’s best friend.

To escape growing suspicion Patty relocates to Solvang, CA where she becomes resident artist at a winery. Unaware of the past relationship with her son’s best friend, Vivian draws up the courage to finally confront Patty to confirm her past relationship with her husband. But not wanting any of her past to come to light, Patty is determined to destroy both Vivian’s efforts and credibility. She also has her eyes on a local fifteen-year-old boy, and when Vivian finds out the truth, she doubles down on her efforts to bring Patty’s past to light.


Art Asylum

Woman Child

The Monster of Solvang

Jill Came Tumbling (Because of a specific nursery rhyme reference, but may need to change antagonist's name to Jill?) 




(I like to think of my writing as Tom Perrota meets Fannie Flagg)

Little Children – Tom Perrota - (He takes a simple story and brings life to it with layers and layers of character development. Small moments are thrilling to read because of his intense details and descriptions.)

Any Fannie Flagg Novel (Quirky tightknit insular communities with characters with more to them than at first meets the eye.)

The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman (But a museum instead of a newspaper)                                                 


When a still grieving TV art appraiser discovers her husband’s untimely death may be connected to a woman who seduced her teenage son’s best friend, she must save the troubled young boy who has become the predatory woman’s next victim.

Logline redo: (patterned after publisher's market place loglines in new deals section)

Part mystery, part domestic thriller, part character study, about two women, an Antiques Road Show appraiser still grieving her husband’s death and a sexual predator who’s trying to stay a step ahead of the law, whose pasts once tragically intersected and whose present lies in vengeful confrontation with each other in a fairytale themed California tourist trap, leading to more secrets revealed and a shattering conclusion.t

Inner Conflict:

Vivianwants to heal the rift with her son who has grown distant from her since his father’s death. Although she’s successfully buried the past, it was done at the cost of not telling her son the truth she suspects about her late husband’s affair. Unable to continue that dishonesty, she finally discloses her suspicion to him and her plans to confront Patty, the mistress. He further he shuts her out, part of him blaming her for traveling all summer with her TV antiques art appraisal show, but another part knows it can’t be true.

Secondary Conflict:

Her son, Mars, wants to find Patty’s stolen journal in the hopes of exonerating his late father’s reputation. He knows Patty had an affair with his best friend Cole, and when he finally reveals this to his mother, he also tries to talk her out of contacting him to come forward to the authorities as Cole has finally managed to build a semblance of his own life.


The majority of the novel takes place in Solvang, CA, one part  Danish Disneyland tourist trap, and the other rolling hills with conservative wealthy ranch owners who don’t take well to outsiders. The Hans Christian Anderson village is perfect for the antagonist Patty to feel at home in, as she lives in a world of nursery rhymes and fairy tales which she reads like bible stories. The local museum is poorly run until Vivian arrives to help them get accredited and ends up getting tasked with putting on an exhibit featuring the art holdings of the local art collectors. These collectors, rich and opinionated, give outsider Vivian little credence despite her “celebrity” status from her art appraisal TV show. 

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Story Statement

Skye and her friends must travel to the magical realm of Amina Natura to save her presumed dead aunt without becoming victims themselves.


Orphaned as a young boy, his new masters abuse Lathian. One night, his first love betrays Lathian, causing him to snap and kill her before fleeing for his life. After being driven mad by dreams of her return and endless days and nights in a cold, dark cell, he is brought to the land of Anima Natura. Here he befriends some matagots who train him in the magical arts. He soon betrays his friends and kills his newest master, all for the love of a second woman who did not wait for him. Spiraling into madness, Lathian takes out his need for revenge on women who look identical to his first two loves. Every thirty years, he crosses to our world to steal one of these women away, where he will both love and abuse them until he tires of her and must move to the next one.

The story picks up as Lathian is on his current most run into our world to secure his latest victim. While he is away, his previous victim contacts Skye through her dreams and Skye's artwork. Then begins the race against time and Lathian to save all of their lives.



  • Reflections
  • The Art of Deception
  • Reflections in Time


  • This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron - This book contains similar elements of including well-known people or creatures from mythology, but giving them a real but magical backstory. It also has similar elements of magic and having to puzzle out clues that are only revealed a little at a time. There are also timeless characters who seem to be stuck at a certain age, but have mannerisms from a time long past.
  • We Were Restless Things by Cole Nagamatsu - This book contains many similar elements of having to solve a mysterious murder and stopping further murders by a magical entity who lures people into a different realm all while being influenced by dreams that are produced by an unknown force. In both books, the main character is dealing with grief over the loss of a loved one and finds healing in the mystical aspects of everyday forests. 


Torn from all that she holds dear, fifteen-year-old Skye races through a land of magical beings to stop a serial killer without becoming his next victim. 

Inner Conflict

Skye is a fifteen-year-old dealing with the grief of losing her dad and moving to a new area. This tiny town and its school is nothing like her Chicago home, and has depressingly few options, making her feel all the more isolated and out of place. Art, which has always been her solace, now scares her as an unknown possessive force controls her drawings and creates images of a long ago murder she should know nothing about. Once she believes in the validity of the drawings, she feels torn between if it is showing her a way to save her aunt or a path to become the next victim.

"Hello?" the familiar voice asked from the other end of the line, bringing part of her instantly back to her childhood. 

"Hi, Mr. James," Skye said. 

"Well hello there, Miss Skye. I see you still haven't forgotten about me, but isn't it a bit late?"

"I know. I just needed to talk to you for a couple of minutes."

"Is everything alright?"

Of course not. Outwardly she said, "It's okay."

"What's wrong?" he asked, his voice full of concern.

"I just miss you." This was the only truth she felt like she could tell him, but even with those words, she felt the familiar wave of grief wash over her. She thought time would lessen the pain, but the grief felt just as strong every time it struck. Would these waves ever stop?

"Oh, Miss Skye, I'm sure it's not that bad."

Skye remained silent. No words would come to her lips, even if she had the strength to speak them. 

"Okay, well how abouts I tell you a story."

"Mmm-hmm." Her reply was barely audible, but he seemed to have understood. 

"Have you ever heard of the story about the John Millais painting called Ophelia?"


Mr. James thought quietly for a while before beginning. "It's a painting that shows a young solemn Miss floatin' in a small river, singin' to the heavens. It's a simple yet beautiful painting, and I imagine that she had a wonderful singing voice. A voice so sweet that every creature within hearing stopped just to listen as she passed. But no one came to her, because her song was so sad that it broke the hearer's spirit.

"Well, the story goes that Ophelia was a beautiful maiden. Her life was simple and her only concerns were over boys. As it should be for any young lady."

Mr. James chuckled before turning serious again. "And for her, it was about one boy in particular. Unfortunately, for Miss Ophelia, things with this boy didn't go so good. He ended up breaking her heart and then killing her father."

"What?" Skye interjected. The wave of pain had receded slightly as she listened to this voice she so dearly loved. 

"It was a bit of mistaken identity and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, Miss Ophelia takes the death of her father pretty hard, as you might expect. Actually, she takes it so hard that most people think she'd gone insane. Her madness finally drives her until she falls into the river. Once in the water she doesn't call for help, nor does she try to get out. She simply floats in stream singin' until her clothes finally drag her under."

Mr. James paused for a moment before continuing. "Now, the sad part is that Miss Ophelia was so wrapped up in the death of her father, she missed out on all the other people who still loved her. Even though the boy had broken her heart, he still loved Miss Ophelia. At her funeral, a fight even broke out between her lover and her brother as to which one of them loved her more."

He grew quiet. It was not one of his usual stories. It was much more serious and void of his usual embellishments. Mr. James did not mean this story for her entertainment, but as a warning. It was clear that he thought Skye was Ophelia, and that she was so blinded by her dad's death that she could not see how much she was still loved by those who remained. But Skye could see. She did know, and it was only making her decision about the next day that much harder. Skye knew she was not only leaving her mother behind, but many other people who would miss her if she never returned. And how many more families would be destroyed if none of them returned?

"You got all that from a picture?" Skye asked, quietly.

"No, not exactly. Someone told me that story," he confessed.


"Some guy named Bill."

"Bill who?"

"Bill Shakespeare."

"Nice, Mr. James." He chuckled as she asked, "Which story?"

"Hamlet. So what do you think?"

"It's a good story. Thank you, Mr James." She barely managed those few words around the tightening in her chest.

"You're welcome," he said. Skye could tell he wanted to say more, but she was too close to tears to continue. 


Secondary Conflict

Skye unfairly blames her mother for her father's death, and as the only safe person left to her, often takes her anger and grief out on her mom. Her mother exhibits strange behaviors after they move, and Skye feels betrayed as she misunderstands her mother's motives, believing them to be a way for her mom to forget her dad and move on. The townspeople are another hurdle Skye must overcome. Feeling like the shiny new toy, the attention is almost overwhelming. Everyone her age seems to want to be her friend, and maybe more. However, she feels unwelcome by some of the older townspeople.

Taking up the free space between the tub and sink was her mom. Katherine stood with an old towel wrapped around her neck and her hair set in a wet mass on her head. 

"What are you doing?" Sky asked her mother. Skye's voice slashed through the silence. Her anger never seemed far away these days. 

"It's actually fairly natural. Most women my age dye their hair. I don't know why you are getting so upset," Katherine said, her sheepish smile causing the torrent to rise further within Skye's chest. 

"Only to get rid of gray, maybe. This is completely different."

"What's so wrong about it, honey? I think it will look good."

Measuring each word carefully, Skye tried to bring her temper back under control.

"Your normal hair looks better."

"I know, but sometimes change is a good thing."

"How much change is going to be enough for you? New town. New house. Okay, definitely old house," Skye said, looking back at the strange leafy patterned carpet behind her and its offending color pallet of green, orange, and gold. "New hair. What's next? New Names?"

"No, we will keep our names. Thank you very much."

"But why do we need all of this new?"

Instead of answering, Katherine looked down at the box that was sitting precariously on the toilet seat. Her eyes glazed over with unshed tears.Skye was beyond flustered as she looked at the large box filled with boxes of brunette hair dye.

"This isn't just a trial thing, is it? I don't understand. WHAT?"

"Is it so bad I want to look more like my baby girl?"

More like? I'm already your clone. Everyone says so."

"Well, now it is definitely true."

Skye's eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms in front of her.

"And I know you won't understand right now. And I can't really explain. At least. No, I can't explain it. I just need you to trust me." Skye raised her eyebrows as her mother fumbled on, saying, "But for now, at least, would, I mean, could we just not tell anyone that I am a blonde? I just really need you to do this for me."

Silence fell for a moment as Skye tried to force air back into her lungs.

"Is there something wrong with being a blonde?" 

Katherine flinched at the coldness of her daughter's words.

"No, honey. I just. I can't be blonde right now."

"Are you hiding from something?"

"Of course not." But Katherine's words were too quick, and her eyes cowered like those of a wounded and cornered animal: devoid of hope and full of fear. 

Her mom was broken, Skye knew that, but to change like this was unacceptable. What could her mom be afraid of? What could be worse than what they had already been through? No, this was a betrayal. Skye stared at her mom in disbelief.

"Why this sudden need to uproot our lives and run away from everything and everyone?" Despite her anger and exasperation, desperation to understand seeped into Skye's words.

"I don't know." Katherine's voice was barely audible above the hum of the exhaust fan. 

"You don't know? Oh, wow. Okay then."

"That's not what I meant."

Skye did not even try to mask the sarcasm in her voice as she said, "No, no. I get it. Well then, I'm going to go take a walk. I want to experience some of this wonderful beauty that is supposed to help me forget all my problems and start over."


There are three main setting in the book.

1. Ramsey, IL. Small town in Illinois that has very little compared to most towns, but especially compared to Skye's hometown of Chicago. The only places to shop are the small grocery store with four aisles and a deli, a Casey's General Store, and a Dollar General. A solitary swing set surrounded by trees is their only park. The library is in a small building with the title Town Hall, Library, Police Station on top. Once in the lobby, one can be buzzed into the Library side with its three shelves of books and two computers. The small school lacks many of Skye's favorite activites, including watching football games and art classes. She feels lost in a world that she will never fit into. The largest attractions in the town are the cemetery, and surrounding woods and farms. Within the woods, there is a cabin. A cabin that is only unique in that it haunts Skye's dreams before she ever knows of its existence, and when she draws there, it haunts her pictures as well.

2. St. Louis, MO. The book spends most of its St. Louis time in Forest Park or else site-seeing its major attractions, such as the zoo, Busch Stadium, and the Arch. This is the setting for Lathian to seduce his next victim. 

3. Anima Natura. Anima Natura is a magical land that was formed long ago by Prince Kannalizar as a way for him to grow in his magical and leadership abilities. In his frustration, he introduced a layer of evil into some of his creations. Calming down, he accidentally opened a portal to our world. Prince Kannalizar fell in love with many of our creatures and brought them to his home as companions. He imbued each species with unique powers and gifted them all with the ability to speak. He has long since departed the land, but his magic has only continued to intensify over the years. The stream that was meant for rejuvenation now puts the unwary to sleep. The trees, which were made with beauty and light, have arranged themselves in a nearly impenetrable maze, and some now carry poison within. Many of the animals that were once meant as companions for man have since turned to evil and predatory ways. This is the land Skye and her friends must try to battle through before even reaching Lathian's castle. 



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Assignment 1: Story Statement

Abby is desperately trying to salvage her marriage with Tom, whose primal lust has become an obsession; is her fight driven by fear or love for him? Dark conundrums face both Abby and Tom when an intoxicating presence makes herself known separately by the two, gifting them. Is she friend or enchanting foe?  

Still working on the story statement. There is a true struggle between the Antagonist and the Protagonist throughout the novel. However, the role of the antagonist takes you for a turn at times showing potential shifts throughout the novel making you guess. A marriage is trying to be salvaged.  

Assignment 2: The Antagonist 

Abby is the protagonist, the stay-at-home mom in a disassociated bubble. An optimist, a writer with a naive heart of faith. 

Tom is the antagonist at first glance. His surfaced dissatisfaction with his life choices has led him into a world severely detached from his wife and children seeking primal lust and convinced contentment he would gain by resetting his past accords.

But is Tom the true antagonist or is it the presence that obsessively haunts and seduces him in the woods, at the party, and on his business trips? She has become real; her taste, her touch, and her smell. 

Abby’s encounter with the presence is quite different. This un explained enchanting temptress gifts her with solace, knowledge and truth. Who is the antagonist that is ripping their world apart? 

Assignment 3: The Breakout title

Speak The Truth (working title)

The Doors Are Best Left Locked

The Conundrum 

Assignment 4: Comparisons  

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

Just Married- Keirsten Modglin 

Assignment 5: Hook Line 

A mother has sacrificed herself for a role in the traditional marriage. She faces the reality of her husband’s insatiable desire to get out; while a presence makes her way into their lives. Is she pulling them apart or saving their marriage?

Assignment 6: Protagonist/Inner conflict 

There are many layers of conflict in Speak The Truth. Each character wrestles with deep inner conflict, as well as the external conflict encircling Tom and Abby’s marriage. 

Below is an example of arguably the deepest conflict of the protagonist, Abby. She endures a marriage of daily abuse and neglect from her husband Tom. This has caused a great build-up of resentment towards him and at times finding herself wishing, he would just disappear. However, she loves him and has a strong moral compass. At this point in the trilogy, she is not aware of the personal destruction having been in an abusive marriage, and to remain in the marriage is causing to her mental state. In the excerpt, Abby finds Tom in the bathroom, with a gun to his temple, on the verge of suicide. He has made too many poor choices, spiraling downward, and we see him here at the bottom, cracking. Her inner conflict is to allow him to continue to be abusive, knowing the upcoming divorce will be a bloodbath, and that he will try to take the kids from her out of spite, or allow him to just finally disappear from their lives forever.


. . .She swallowed the large lump in her throat, her stomach was queasy as she stood upright. Forcefully, she wiped the tears from her cheeks warning them not to return; the stained black mascara her cheeks, proving her weakness. She turned the corner into the bathroom.

            A flash of fear stunned her. Gasping, her breath was knocked forcefully out of her body. She tried to speak, barely able to make words. She forced them out loudly “TOM! NO! TOM!”

Oh God, Oh God, help me! God, help me! Breathe. Breathe. Brrreeathhhe. The words shuffled in desperate cries. God, no. . .no. . . . oh God, what do I do?

            He stood facing the vanity mirror. They both stood motionless staring at his reflection, frozen. The gun in his hand, gently resting on his temple. Oh God, would he turn it on her? The children. Abby desperately tried to hold in her screams, as they pushed with massive force in her throat. . . 

Two roads diverged into a darkened forest, and sorry I could not travel both, But, be one traveler long I stood and looked at his face as long as I could, imagining my world without it. . .

There an array of social conflicts throughout the novel as well. Tom is experiencing conflicts at work, as well as a conflict with his interaction a “presence” that seems to take many identities; one being the woman in the woods, second being Adrienne, the intoxicating woman from the bar, and Helene, the neighbor woman from their housewarming party. Tom has many social interactions with these women, but are they real? 

Assignment 7: The Setting

The setting begins in a small suburban town in Washington state. The large evergreens loom oppressively over the couples hidden war. The setting soon shifts to a Caribbean Island, where the initial inner conflicts are revealed. The island is full of ominous mystery that brings about a female presence into the novel. A game of cat and mouse ravage through the dark woods of the island. This soon shifts to a suburban small town in Mississippi. The gorgeous stately home plays a significant role in the setting of the novel, drawing much relevance to its symbolism. Mississippi is in the bayou and there is a large dark element that this plays into, with the conflicts that arise. Did the darkness of the Caribbean bleed into the bayou’s equally dark nights? Tom’s work travels play a large setting in the novel as well. Tom takes the reader into his life on the road, the loneliness of his travels, the seduction that comes into play, and the resentment it creates. Lastly, Abby takes the reader into her world, the pleasant but habitual setting that has become her identity, but in the end; South America plays a role in the setting of her liberation from the wallpapered world of suburbia.






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Seven Assignments

1.     STORY STATEMENT: An irreverent singing prodigy with extinct siren magic must escape the cutthroat world of an elite opera company to uncover the  secrets of the ruling families who seek to eliminate the threat she poses to their power.


2.     ANTAGONIST: The Phoerian Opera is an elite company of performers within a decadent city devoted to entertainment and the arts. With a reputation dating back centuries, the Phoerian is the pinnacle of revered singing talent in the realm of Nyskos and an integral part of the kingdom’s culture. The Opera always gets what it wants, plucking promising children from backwater villages and ensuring their commitment with guarantees of fame, riches, and training oversight by their Voicemasters. What the Phoerian doesn’t advertise is the grueling training, cutthroat competition, and forced life of glorified prostitution. That’s showbusiness, and no one turns down the two-edged sword that is the Phoerian Opera. The Opera caters to patrons with enough power or money who long to touch the elusive living art the performers become, and it will provide this experience at any cost to those it has shackled in its grip. For the Phoerian, there is no moral quandary in this practice; it is instead a lovely symbiosis- a natural appreciation of art and a primal desire of beauty mingled in service to its artistic triumphs. This antagonist is represented in the form of its Director, upon whom Kalliope focuses her hatred, although it is understood by all to be a systemic and cultural force.

The second (and ultimately main series) antagonists which develop by the end of the second act are the rulers of Gomethra. These rulers are immortals who have held onto their power for a millennia by keeping their people separated in an attempt to stop the heightened magical abilities intermingling produces. Their ultimate triumph was The Scything, a planned war between their nations to produce geographical boundaries and long-standing hatred between their peoples. Their justification is simple- they are protecting their respective realms from the dangers of chaotic magic which could occur. How can they keep people safe if laws and armies cannot keep up with the array of abilities in which interbreeding could result? Most of these rulers have convinced themselves of their noble mindset, but the lengths to which they have gone to achieve this “peace” bely this motive. Ancient and yet still human in their emotions, these scions of power will stop at nothing to remove the threat Kalliope poses as the epitome of the very thing they have waged war to eliminate.


3.     TITLES

-       Song of Embers

-       Symphony of Chains

-       Aria of Smoke and Scales


Series Titles:

Book 1: Song of Embers

Book 2: Chord of Fire

Book 3: Aria of Ash

Book 4: Symphony of Bones


4.     GENRE AND COMPARABLES: Young Adult Fantasy

a.     From Blood and Ash- Jennifer Armentrout’s Blood and Ash series is similar to my novel in that it is a “chosen one” story trope of a young woman who discovers her kingdom harbors shattering secrets regarding its history and treatment of certain populations. The fantasy elements are comparable due to their derivation of multiple world mythologies and a system of polytheism. The polytheistic aspect in her books bleeds into the corporeal realm when her protagonist is revealed to be a goddess (or descendent of such). My series will explore the possibilities of deities in human form as well, through two of the main supporting characters.

b.     Throne of Glass- This young adult fantasy series by Sara J. Maas follows a young woman’s journey from talented rebel to queen of a continent, a trope my series uses as well. This book also has in common with mine rival love interests and the eventual development of a large-scale war throughout the series. Her writing style is a balance of lilting prose and pithy dialogue between well-rounded characters, as well as cinematic action sequences, which I strive to emulate. Maas uses a strategy of rising stakes from book to book in her series, and my fully plotted 4-book series will utilize the same approach with the stakes and scale of action rising with each book to culminate in warfare for control of the realm.


5.     HOOK LINE: As an irreverent singing prodigy with forbidden siren magic is forced into the cutthroat world of an elite opera company, she must confront the truth of her treacherous heritage and the threat it poses to the ruling families of her realm.

High Concept Pitch Line: Throne of Glass meets Percy Jackson in this young adult fantasy novel as a singing prodigy with growing siren magic must escape the cutthroat world of an elite opera company to confront the truth of her dangerous powers.



a.     Inner Conflict: Kalliope dreads joining the Phoerian Opera. She views her fate as a prison of conventional drudgery, no matter the gilding of the cage. She also views her talents as trivial (core wound), though her society prizes them. She longs for adventure, for freedom, for the discovery of the true history of her continent. Her feet would rather be squelching in mud than pirouetting in toe-shoes. When her plan of escaping her fate falls through, she is forced to take her position as a performer. The death of her dream causes Kalliope to struggle with bouts of depression and defiance within the opera house. In relation to this, Kalliope is soon pressured by the opera to oblige the patrons’ expectation of sexual favors, a fate she attempts to avoid at all costs while warring with her principles.

b.     Secondary Conflicts:

-       Burgeoning love for her friend Oren. Partner in crime for over a decade, Oren finally lays his cards on the table and proposes they run away to escape their families’ expectations. However, he abandons the plan, and Kalliope must face the fact that he chose his career over her. Later on, she discovers he did not abandon her at all, and she missed her chance at a life with him.

-       Raice’s offer of adventure. Kalliope’s sexually tense relationship with Raice, a man from the neighboring kingdom, is tested when he offers her the chance to go with him to his country. She refuses at the time, but regrets her decision once the Opera becomes her only recourse.

-       Kalliope’s trust in her mother. During the course of events, it is revealed that Kalliope’s mother interfered in Kalliope and Oren’s escape. Kalliope discovers that her mother also kept her true heritage a secret from her.

-       Competition with Andrina. A fellow singer is the Phoerian Opera tries to kill Kalliope in revenge for landing the lead role.

-       Raice’s assertion of her heritage. Kalliope resents Raice for suggesting that she is a “half-breed,” which is a shameful and dangerous thing in Gomethra. This is also an internal struggle for her to accept her origins.

-       Raice’s use of Kalliope. Kalliope resents Raice for not telling her about the prophecy regarding her future and for allowing her to think he was invested in her as a person instead of as a political tool


7.     SETTING:

Kalliope’s story takes place mainly in her home kingdom of Nyskos, a nation comprised of islands spanning across the lower region of the continent of Gomethra. Kalliope grows up surrounded by the Sea, which is developed as a character in itself. She spends her time exploring the nearby islands and remnants of the war. The culture and technological advancement of Nyskos is most comparable to ancient Babylonian, Roman, or Grecian society. The arts are highly prized, and as descendants of nereids/sirens, singing in particular is a revered talent. Her small village of Cretoria is an insular town on an island near the capital city of Mytikas, from which wealthy vacationers come to escape the heat in summer.

When Kalliope joins the Phoerian Opera, she is uprooted to the urban setting of Areskoll, which is a hedonistic city devoted to the arts. The decadence of the island is sketched through her provincial observations, but the majority of her time is spent in the great Phoerian Opera House on the hill above Areskoll. The Opera House is a den of fierce competition and broken dreams wrapped up in shining performance halls and mirrored training rooms.

After Kalliope escapes the Opera, she journeys across Gomethra’s mainland, the majority of which is a waste called the Ash Plains. This vast expanse of land was destroyed in The Scything, a war between Nyskos and the northern kingdom of Volnyrocq hundreds of years ago. The Ash Plains are home to the Shadow Wolves, twisted creatures borne of the sorcery used in the long-ago war. Foreshadowing of an encounter with these monsters is given in the opening of the story. This geographical feature plays a key role in the plot, as it is the cause of the successful segregation of the northern and southern kingdoms and is considered forbidden territory.

Gomethra is a continent shaped, as all continents are, by its history. The conflict between Nyskos and Volnyrocq was fabricated by the ruling families of both nations in order to cause a geographical separation of their peoples. Thus, the Ash Plains, Draekenmor Reef, abandoned Seer's swamp, and other features of the landscape are tied inextricably to the violent political history of this world. These places are explored by the protagonist at various points in the story, leading her to uncover the secrets of her kingdom’s past.

Manuscript Example: The Seers' Swamp

      Raice’s wings set us down on a sparse hillock which proved to be the only clear portion of the island. A forest of dead cypress loomed from the water-logged swamp surrounding the knoll like the bleached skeletons of sentinels with exposed roots of grasping, arthritic toes. They dripped with long tendrils of dry moss which touched the undisturbed water around the base of each tree, a forest of unnatural stillness which raised the hairs on my neck. The sun barely penetrated the gloom underneath branches that had ceased growing centuries ago, and despite the stillness which lingered, the water remained murky with a sediment that refused to settle as if something underneath stirred it.

      “Why are we here?” I turned to Raice, my eyes darting around the space so as not to miss any movement lurking in the trees.

      The dragon before me morphed into a man once more, those same scales once again in place as the smoke dissipated in the silent air that seemed to listen to my every word. This time, however, the scales only covered him from the hips down over his waist and legs like molded trousers, leaving his chest and arms bare. The sight of just how corded with muscle he was unsettled me more than the island upon which we stood. The Hellflame Prince’s darkness was a gravitation that called to me more than the garish brightness of the the Phoerian's patrons.

      Raice flexed his fingers and rotated each arm as if growing used to the feel of them again. “I need information from a woman who lives on this island. She’s a witch and a seer.”

      My brows rose. “A witch?”

      He nodded, looking out over the endless swamp. “Cetusath- the most powerful seer in a thousand years. She knows many things.”

      A prickle of fear curled around my chest. “What are you going to give up?”

      Raice slid his eyes to mine. “Worried, Siren?”

      Bristling, I crossed my arms. “I know I’m not that special.”

      He barked out a laugh. “To ease your fears, I won’t have to give up anything I can’t live without.” He considered his words and cocked his head. “In a manner of speaking. I’m not looking for a vision that hasn’t yet been seen. What I want is access to one she has had in her possession since The Scything.”

      “What does this vision depict?” The spongy ground beneath my feet squelched. Why hadn’t I been wearing sandals on the beach that day? For once, I wished I couldn’t feel any sensation on the bottoms of my bare feet.

      “Someone who can turn the tide,” he replied. He reached for my hand, and I  put mine in his. “I can’t navigate through the trees while in my more formidable form. It’s about two miles from here.” He nodded towards the heart of the island.

      I looked into the dank forest and tried not to cringe. Adventure. That’s what I had wanted. I supposed that’s what this was.

      My attempts to remember that flickered out as Raice led me into the swamp, wading into the opaque water that was colder than I’d expected. As soon as I touched it, I knew- this water was not like the sea. It did not answer to me the same way, nor did it welcome our intrusion.

      We trudged further and further into the bleak and sunless swamp, our strides sluggish in the waist-deep water. All color here was dimmed, as if anything vibrant had been leached of its brightness in a silent scream over the years. I imagined I could feel myself growing paler by the minute.

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Story Statement :  Support your brother fighting a rebellion, then survive his unfathomable betrayal.

Antagonist or Antagonistic Forces:  Hannah Arnold and her brother Benedict, the only remaining siblings from a once-wealthy family build a successful business, but the threat of war worries Hannah.

     King George III sends his powerful Army led by Sirs Robert Howe, Jonathan Burgoyne and Guy Carleton to quell the American Revolution. Their troops engage in brutal battles, menace civilians, and create refugees. Imprisonment, even death for rebel leaders looms large.

     Petty, jealous, American officers harass Benedict, causing Hannah much consternation: Cols. Ethan Allen, John Brown, James Easton, Moses Hazen, General Horatio Gates. Congressmen try to blunt Hannah’s brother success at every turn; John Adams among them, further distressing Hannah.

     Conniving Pennsylvania politicians persecute Tories, Quakers and Patriots men and women who won’t bend to their will. They also stir up mobs to intimate their rivals and seek revenge via Hannah after Benedict turns traitor; Council President Joseph Reed, his wife Esther, Secretary Thomas Matlack and Chief Justice Thomas McKean. Throw in Thomas Paine, pamphleteer, too. Militia minions Capt. Charles Willson Peale and Sgt. Will Matlack, Matlack’s son. Peale tries to ferret out who is aiding oppressed women (Hannah & unlikely alliance.)

    Benedict and his wife Peggy Shippen Arnold, who have deceived Hannah mightily.

    New Brunswick’s embittered, exiled Loyalists who resent Benedict’s early Revolutionary role. Their hostility contributes to the failure of the Arnolds’ new business and additional heartbreak for Hannah

Breakout Title:  Hannah’s Rebellion (Hannah’s Revolution, Hannah’s War)

Genre and 2 Comparable:  Historical Fiction, My Dear Hamilton meets The Other Boleyn Girl.

Hook Line with Conflict and Core Wound:  Hannah Arnold supports her brother Benedict unconditionally as he becomes America’s first war hero but must overcome her devastation at his treason to save herself and his young family from perilous retribution in mob-ruled Philadelphia.

Core Conflict: What love & loyalty is owed to one’s family, state, or country?

      Secondary: Keeping your wits about as you care for home and family while your warrior brother is under frequent military and personal attacks.

    Navigating Philadelphia Society with grace amid wealth, pretention, and ostentatiousness.

    Standing up to injustice and tyranny discreetly and effectively.

    Integrating your brother’s wife into your tight knit family & maintaining cordial relations with hers.

    Carrying on as your life implodes amid horrifying actions.

    How to rebuild family connections after devastating betrayal.

     Inner: Measuring up to your beloved brother’s expectations, yielding to him  often because you trust him implicitly to guide your lives and want only the best for him;  thriving when thrust into unfamiliar roles and new surroundings;  staying in the background so your brother can establish a strong relationship with his new wife, only to have her influence him to go over to the British; finding a way to forgive them.

Settings: Hannah’s Rebellion begins in colonial Connecticut before the outbreak of the American Revolution. In rural Norwich, the sole-surviving siblings come of age as impoverished orphans. They migrate to New Haven, a bustling waterfront college town and build a successful trading business. As Benedict becomes an acclaimed war hero, Hannah keeps home and hearth intact, helps refugees and supports Benedict from afar.

     The novel moves to revolutionary Philadelphia, a cauldron of political intrigue, persecution of civilians by radical officials and social climbing. What war? There’s a party every night. But under the festive veneer, sinister forces undermine national efforts for regional gains, conduct espionage and wipe out dissent by destroying lives. Violence against those who defy authorities grows until it becomes convoluted and lethal. Though cooled by the time of Benedict’s treason, Hannah must withstand the wrath of locals seeking vengeance.

     Hannah raises teenage nephews in New Haven after their father’s treason. She later journeys with them to Saint John, New Brunswick to reunite with Benedict. The frontier town smells of newly sawn boards, uncured jute ropewalks and open sewage pits. Much of the year it’s dark, dank and dreary.

    After 10 years in the struggling colony, Hannah returns to New York, both NYC and Upstate with her nephews and later spends eight months of the year in Upper Canada (Ontario) to help Benedict claim lands awarded to him by the British government for heroism in the Caribbean. It’s also to give him hope that they will be together again. She dies there two years after Benedict’s death in London.

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After Danes slaughter his family and brutalize a little girl, he promised to keep safe; an orphaned boy must find a way to save her from a burning tower, escape capture, avenge his family, find her again, and make it back home.   



 n 10th century Ireland, as all others cower, an insignificant orphan becomes: rebel, outlaw, warrior, Chief of his Clan, King of the South, King of North and South, and the only Ard Ri – High King, over a free and united Ireland in peace.  Yet the forces of envy, betrayal  and greed, lead him to an all or nothing battle for the fate of his people, and the destiny of homeland.  

Brian wins, but pays the ultimate price, with the lives of his three sons, and his own.   Only to have the greatest Liar Thief in history, steal his life story – to fabricate the most famous, and beloved Imposter of all time – King Arthur of England.


 HAMMERED STEEL AND CRIMSON FIRE Series – is two true stories, one within the othe

  – The life of Brian Boru:  Insignificant orphan – to greatest High King

  – Geoffrey of Monmouth plagiarizing Brian’s life:  Cleric – to Bishop and famous Author


ANTAGONISTIC FORCES:   Events are true and Characters real

GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH – Antagonist of Series Mystery

Lowly cleric is commissioned by King Henry 1st, to come up with an historical Hero for Britain.  Henry needs gold to pay for his wars; and therefore, precedent to invade, sack, and kill fellow Catholics in Ireland – to steal theirs.   The problem – there isn’t one.   Until Geoffrey is given “a certain most ancient book”.  We watch over his shoulder as he steals Brian’s life to fabricate a Hero for Henry.  He is rewarded with fame, fortune, the company of Kings, and 886 years of reprints – pulling off the most successful fraud in history.  Indeed, Geoffrey’s 1136, “true” account of, Imposter 5th century King Arthur, is for sale on amazon.com/books. today.                                                                                                            Geoffrey – The Liar Thief


                                                  Antagonists of Main Story                     


 Gofraid, Olaf and Ivar, descendants of Ivar the Boneless, have Ireland surrounded, and are closing in.  Their goal – finish what the Boneless started – the rapine and plunder of Ireland.  And most lucrative – the selling of her women and children for slaves. Gofraid, sets out to attack Killaloe, slaughter Brian’s family, and claim the only cattle crossing of the River Shannon for 240 miles.  He kills all but two of his brothers.  At every turn of his life, Brian must fight the Danes.   Gofraid will die of leprosy from shagging sheep, Ivar is killed by Brian, and Olaf will marry Gormlaith, spawn Sigtrigg Silkbeard.  These three, forgiven thrice by Brian, for coming against him; will conspire and recruit, the largest Norse army ever assembled, to bring war against Brian, for Ireland, her treasure, and his head.                                                     Danes – Insatiables                                                                              

MALACHY II – Possessed it all.  Next in line to the 600 years of Ui Neill Dynastic High Kings – Represents the entitled, rich and self-serving.  A schemer, only too willing to sacrifice honor, for lying, cheating, stealing.   He might have been great, but shaped by his father, turned out narcissistic, weak, obsessed with jealousy.  All his life he shadows Brian, becoming ever more desperate – unprovoked, cuts down his 1000-year-old, sacred oak tree, tries to kill him, passes his poisonous ex-wife onto him, breaks his oath, betrays him, refusing to take his place on the field, in the Final Battle; and after Brian and his boys are killed, takes his place as High King.  Ironically, this ultimate traitor is admiringly recorded in history as Malachy Mor – “Malachy the Great”.                                                        Malachy – Duplicitous Political Snake


5 IRISH PROVINCIAL KINGS – Sycophants, dogs in the manger, who will betray anyone, for any advantage.  Cronies of Malachy, they have no loyalty, betraying their own people for crumbs of the High King – and betraying the High King, for table scraps of the Danes.  They conspire and collude, giving an oath to join Brian and his brother Mahon, in battle against Ivar the Dane.  Once the battle begins, Irish, Donovan, Donald, and Molloy, in league with Ivar, abandon the field, lure and kill Brian’s brother, and try to kill him.  Brian escapes, goes back and takes revenge, killing Ivar, and hunting down all three traitor Kings – one after the other.   It is not Brian’s ambition that makes him King of Munster, as often reported – but these cowards’ conspiracy, and dastardly betrayal.  The eejits have just slaughtered themselves, and made Brian, King of the Dal Cass, King of Munster – one 5th of Ireland. 

                                                                              Provincial Kings – Treacherous Bottom Feeders                                                            

MURCHUADA IRISH PROVINCIAL KING of Leinster – next to Norse held Dublin, the most lucrative slave port in Europe.  He is the brains and Puppet Master of the viper pit. He uses his daughter as a Pawn, to manipulate the Kings of Ireland into self-annihilation. He toys with the Danes, and controls with abject terror, of what he might do next.  And molds Gormlaith in his own image –controlling her in every possible way.  Until out-played by his “line-bred” daughter.  Sick Control Freak. Sins of the father.

                                                                                        Murchuada – Deviant Chess Master


GORMLAITH– a legend in her own lifetime, in the sagas of the Norse, for her beauty, brains and cunning.  Her father’s little pawn, and apt pupil, makes it across the board to become the most infamous Queen in history.   (Her true story has thus far been under-reported).  The strategy learned from her father – You make them choose – between what they want most – and what they love most.  “Tis the choosing, that breeds the undoing.”  You – Pin, Fork, Skewer.  Until the field is cleared, and you are the last one standing.  In a Chess match, cage fight, or in battle – that is winning.   Gormlaith, looking for love in all the wrong places, is torn between conscience and winning.  Life has taught her – beating the boys, feels best of all.   She becomes – wife and “poison cup” to the three most powerful Kings in Ireland, Olaf, Malachy, and Brian.   

Gormlaith – Instigator and Prize of the Final Battle for Freedom for Ireland – and “The Last one Standing”


BREAKOUT TITLES: up to three 

                                       Series Titles:  HAMMERED STEEL AND CRIMSON FIRE

                                                                     THE TRUE AND RIGHTFUL KING

                                                                   GOLDEN CHESSMEN OF THE GODS


Book 1 ~ BLOOD GAMBIT                         INSTIGATOR OF IRELAND                   THE RAVENING                                                                                                                                     

Book 2 ~ CLEARANCE SACRIFICE                STRIPLING WARRIOR                      DRAKKAR-SLAYER

Book 3 ~ PIN, FORK, SKEWER                      YOUNG STAG IN VALOR                       RECOMPENCE

Book 4 ~ ENTOMBED                                 EAGLE UPON THE ROCK              HAWK-FELL OF MY HAND                                                           

Book 5 ~ SMOTHERMATE                           GAUNTLET OF SLAUGHTER             RUINS OF RAGNAROK                             





          The Life of Brian Boru High King of Ireland – Based on a True Story


 High Concept, Commercial Fiction – History, Biography, Adventure, Intrigue, Mystery,

                                                                 Romance, War                              


                               Braveheart of Ireland, meets Uhtred of The Last Kingdom

                                 Solving mysteries of: Da Vinci Code’s The True Grail

                                                        And the Real King Arthur


                                                             Concerning ~

                                      A boy who would never be King,

                                      A “certain most ancient book” that would never be found,

                                      A thief in the night who would never be caught,

                                      The most compelling mystery never solved,

                                      The most successful and perfidious fraud ever committed,

                                      The two most famous, enduring, and beloved, imposters of all time,

                                      King Arthur of Britain, and the Holy Grail,

                                      And the truth.


Book 1 ~ INSTIGATOR OF IRELAND ~ The Twelfth Son (loss of innocence, coming of age) 10-13

Book 2 ~ BLOOD GAMBIT ~ Rebel, Outlaw, Warrior (lone rebel without a cause, finds one )17-26

Book 3 ~ ENTOMBED ~ King of the South (gladiator becomes beloved hero of people) 26-35

Book 4 ~ WOLVES AT THE EDGE OF NIGHT ~ King of the North (dude with big problem) 35- 45

Book 5 ~ SMOTHERMATE ~ High King of Ireland (monster in the house - and bed) 45-60

Book 6 ~ GOLDEN CHESSMEN OF THE GODS ~ Last Ard Ri of Erin (war – Destiny of Ireland) 73



Premise: Any of us, no matter how unlikely, can achieve the impossible – if we possess:  

Hunger enough to Dream it – Courage enough fight for it – Heart enough to never give up – and Guts enough to pay the price! 

This Series – based on a true story, and real life – is meant to Inspire, those who read it, to have:  a worthy, Impossible Dream, Courage enough, and Never Surrender!


High Concept     Braveheart of Ireland meets Uhtred of the Last Kingdom 

THE SAXON TALES  Series – the LAST KINGDOM - WAR LORD – Cornwell’s number 13, in the tales of Uhtred, is recently published, and testament to commercial interest of a similar Series: the Viking Age in history, the true story of an orphan turned Warrior, who must find his way amidst: Viking savagery, treacherous Lords, and scheming Kings, to take back his home, in the face of impossible odds, worthy quest of Freedom against Savagery, and a ripping cage fight for the Throne of King, destiny of people and homeland.  All 13, books in Series – best sellers.  With a huge fan base, and by demand, there is currently a film in production to finish the Series.   Uhtred is missed already. 

Secret to success: Dreymon’s well-loved Uhtred is the only truly lovable, funny, and relatable Hero, with great buddy and love stories as well, and heart wrenching – to the end of limits – acting and emotions, since Braveheart, (what all the others are missing).  This is my goal, as well. 

BRAVEHEART (the first and best – characters against archetype, sense of humor) – of Ireland, 

Similar Hero and quest - unlikely orphan becomes beloved Hero of people, uniting the Clans, against tyranny, sacrificing himself in the cause of Freedom. And true story.

 Same Subject Success –  


Morgan Llywelyn’s books on Brian Boru’s life, have sold over 40 million copies.  At the 1000-year celebration of the Battle of Clontarf, (the climax of Brian's Series} in Dublin, 60,000 people showed up. Love for Brian’s story endures.


HSCF is more specifically – Brian’s life story - The Irish Version: anti-archetypical characters, tone, slightly wicked sense of humor, themes of Freedom and Loyalty, endearing Buddy and Love stories, with a goal to inspire, use of screenwriting techniques, and unique - the Irish telling.



Similar setting and characters:  Antagonists, familiar to readers - All true contemporaries of Brian:  In HSCF – The real Uhtred, Lord of Northumbia (16 years younger), makes several appearances, along with:  Ibn Fadlan, Eric the Red, Harald Hardrada, Olaf and Ivar, great-grandsons of Ivar the Boneless, Sitric Silkbeard, Cnut, Harold Bluetooth, Wulf the Quarrelsome, and others.  



Starting with Historical Facts:  the same mystery Solved – The true Nature and Location of the Grail.  Which was first mentioned in connection with Arthur in 1190 – As well as the true Identity of the Real King Arthur.  However very different conclusions, style, and delivery, and genre than Dan Brown’s.      



Same: starting with historical facts, like Crichton, then recreating true events, bringing historical characters to life.   


THE HAMMERED STEEL and CRIMSON FIRE Series is unique, from the only other fictional account of Brian’s life – Llewellyn’s, “Lion of Ireland”, which is beautifully written – in English King’s, English grammar and English vernacular.   

HSCFThe Irish Version – is committed to: mischief, mayhem and mangling, of all things English.  And deservedly so, after 800 long years of subjugation and stealing Brian's story for themselves.


I offer proof:

My Nonfiction companion book, “The True and Rightful King” will make the case for Fraud by proving Geoffrey’s plagiarism, to the highest standard of the Law – Perpetrator, Means, Motive, Opportunity, Preponderance of the Evidence, Smoking gun, Bloody glove, beyond a Reasonable Doubt, and Beyond the Shadow of Doubt, meaning there can be no other.


Commercial value:  

According to IMDB - Llewellyn’s “LION OF IRELAND”, the life of Brian Boru, is currently in development for a TV Series 2019.   the Same amazing subject, but there is absolutely no similarity between her Brian's life, and mine. 


The TV Series, THE LAST KINGDOM, based on Cornwell’s Saxon Tales of Uhtred, is the highest-ranking Series in Great Britain, one of the highest rankings in the US.  Well loved, and well done, with a huge fan base.  There is a much-anticipated film in production, finishing up, to complete the Series.  Fans are saddened.  Everyone is going to miss Uhtred the Godless!


Dan Brown’s DA VINCI CODE, theory of the Grail – sold over 60 million copies, fueled by HUGE CONTROVERSY, rattling the cages of the Vatican which claims to possess the True Grail, Catholics, and Christianity, in general, with his theory – the Grail being the womb of Mary Magdalene, and the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene herself. (Ironically, Mary Magdalene has been classified as a prostitute since the Middle Ages, by an early Pope – not to be confused with Mary the virgin Mother of Christ). 


I remember well – on Nightly News, Dan Brown, at the top of the NYT Best seller list forever; “verbally scourged” by the Christians and castigated down to Hell by Catholics – is videoed, lamenting in self-defense, “Its only Fiction!”   His beautifully crafted novel, and ingenious original Theory, became the object of crazed condemnation, boycotting, and slander.  

Result – The Da Vinci Code has become the world’s all-time best seller.

 ~ The take-away – the greater the outrage, the crazier the controversy, the more spectacular the sales


I think it is fair to assume; HAMMERED STEEL and CRIMSON FIRE Seriesproving:

– All this time:  the experts have been looking in the wrong time and place, for the 5th century English Hero, King Arthur – that he is really Irish – that Brian Boru’s life was stolen, to create the IMPOSTER – by Geoffrey of Monmouth – as well as the theory, then proof, that the Grail, is not a womb, but quite the most scandalous opposite imaginable  well connected to the  Real Irish Hero“The True and Rightful King” and I can prove it . . .

 Is most certain to rattle, then spontaneously combust a few cages as well. 

 Inciting Controversy:  

There is nothing the British love more than a Royal scandal, as does the world’s media.

What will the reaction be when they find out:

 Deliciously Scandalous:

 ~ Queen Elizabeth II– the longest reigning English Monarch, the best, and most beloved; Is the 35th Great Granddaughter of the – Irish Rebel, Outlaw, Instigator, Brian, orphan of Beal Boru?   

~  Making her heirs, Charles, William, and George – who all bear the name Arthur – the Imposter – direct descendants of the Real King Arthur.   

Anyone who has followed Queen Elizabeth’s life, can decidedly see that she is far more like Brian: a brave, uniter, forgiving, devoted to, God and country, and beloved by her people, than any of her subjugating, beheading disemboweling, despoiling, abdicating, ancestors since him.   

~ The Queen’s great 35th grandmother, was Brian’s second wife, who gave him one son – murdered by his half-brother, Gormlaith’s son.  In my story, she is a wonderful character, anti-archetypical, rescuer of the fallen in battle, chariot mechanic, fantastic rider and horse lover – as was the Queen herself.   

 (This portrayal is my humble tribute to a wonderful, Lady, Mother, and Veteran, who would have much rather been riding her horse, in forest and field, with the sun on her face and wind in her hair – but instead, hopped on the grenade in stockings and heels for 70 years . . .)  I believed she would have liked Brian's Story.    

~ Deliciously scandalous, as well; Harry the lovable, Rebel, Outlaw, Outcast, Fomenter of chaos, Instigator of outrage, and his beautiful children, all have Brian’s red hair.   Proof positive of the pesky, Irish, rebellious, rapscallion strain, in the stodgy, rather shallow, Royal gene pool.

These revelations, together along with the “Irish Version”, should be enough to give the entire British Empire the vapors.

 ~ But then – perhaps – the greater the vapors, the crazier the controversy, the more the sales . . .




In 10th century Ireland, when Danish Vikings attack, young Brian promises to watch over a little girl. Beaten nearly to death, he is forced to watch helplessly, as she is savagely raped and burned, and his family slaughtered.  He vows he will, never be powerless again to protect those he loves, avenge their deaths, and drive the Danes back into the Sea, and drown them in their own blood.  


Inner Conflict – 

Brian’s inner conflict – the wound that he carries all his life, and the secret he keeps, is the stuff that rips his, and our heart out:  guilt, regret, the wrong choice, shame, sadness, helplessness.  When Brian 10, and a little girl 8, are caught in a Dane attack; he promises to keep her safe, by running to the 100 ft round tower.  They make it to the top, but Olaf and Ivar follow them. As Danes are ax-cleaving the trap door apart – Brian must decide – take her to the window and jump to their quick deaths – or try to hide her and fight the Danes himself.  Though he has her by the hand, and they stand upon the sill, with the slaughter going on below them – he cannot do it.  Seeing her dead mother on the grass below, he hides her in some rags and baskets.  Tells the Danes she jumped.  They are beating, and kicking him to death, when he sees her come out of hiding, to beg them to stop.  Though he is powerless to move; he witnesses her, to save him, being brutalized in every possible way, as flaming arrows set the tower ablaze.

External Conflict –Sea-Eagle, Danes, Traitor Irish, High King, 11 brothers, and two pups

Just a boy like any other, Brian dreams only of one thing – to catch the biggest fish in all the world, to flaunt it before his eleven older brothers, and take his place around the campfire this night, with the best tale to tell, his Da proud, and his brothers green with envy.   His biggest torment, thus far – his two pups, that sabotage him at every turn, and his brothers who have one goal in life use him for their hurling practice dummy, at every opportunity

Brian has the biggest salmon in the world, by the tail, and is being dragged naked through the Shannon River; when he is attacked by a giant Sea-Eagle and must fight for his fish.  Winning, though mutilated, he fights unsuccessfully, his two Lucifer-spawn pups for his clothes.  And consequently, is caught celebrating, dancing around, bare-arsed, toes pointed spritely, his nether-parts flogging him to keep up, like a soused fairy under a Rowan tree – by a little red-headed girl hiding in the tall grass.   And so, he dives into the only cover – a thicket of thornapple, thistle, and stinging nettles – with the high pitched, girly scream, of a neck rung stoat!   Only to be late for school, again, God help him, with his eleven brothers, lying in wait, to make him to run the “gauntlet of slaughter”, to his seat in the front of the Chapel.    Fairly demolished already, he is picked up, passed along, and slung from the window to the chants of “Runt!  Runt!!  Runt!! Dal Cass scores – One!  Against the langers of Ulster – None!   Brian gives, thanks to God, for the tender mercy of the flinging.  And runs to the shore.  His new goal in life now, is to put the flames of Satan’s, every class of a Hellfire out, by plunging arse first, into the cool waters of the Shannon; hidden from the eyes of God, man, and the little girl, and finally get a good scratch where it itches, without touching anything, he’d have to confess for, after.  His goal in life changes again, when the Danes attack – trying to survive.


Social and Interpersonal Conflicts –.

Clonmacnoise Monastery –Brian is sent away to school.  A name and blessing from the Abbot 

     The fires of hell licked at the top of his head.  The talons of Baal clamped to his scalp, wrenching hair out by the roots!  

     Brian 13, yelped in pain, “Please Father, not the tower again.  Anything but the tower,” and unleashed his most pathetic howl, long and drawn out, “I’ll repent.  I’ll be good, I swear . . . I’ll die if ye lock me in the tower again!”             

      “One can only hope!”  The Abbot growled through sanctimoniously clenched teeth.

      “Please Father, if I must suffer,” Brian pleaded most mournfully, “don’t lock me in the tower again with the old geezer Plutarch, and all his whinin’ about the Thracians, and the ruttin’ Spartacus,” he sniffled, “Anything but the Plutarch.”

      The Abbot pondered his last wish . . . “Get me the Plutarch!” he bellowed to the crowd of boys, sniggering sadistically, “It’s to the tower with ye, and no food nor water until ye’ve memorized the Plutarch entirely!” 

   Brian wailed louder, “Please, Father, I’m beggin’ ye, instead, of the Plutarch, may I have the Book of Saints?   Oh, how I love the Saints!   Ah, the blessed virgins.  I love the one who, sacrificed herself, refusin’ offers of marriage and all, and shavin’ her radiant hair off, and scaldin’ her lovely face, with the boilin’ water, so’s that no man would want to have carnal knowledge of her.”

     The Abbot, red-faced and teeth barred like a trap-strangled ferret, yanked the young orphan of the Clan Dal Cass, up, glaring into his eyes, “The blessed Saint would roll in her grave, to know her sacred virginity was on the mind of the likes of ye! Ye, vermin from the South, and the son of Cennetig to boot, with the foul tongue, and the filthy mind!”  And he shook Brian by the hair on his head until, what was left of his own teeth rattled. “Ye’re a wart of the arse of the sainted Lady,” he hissed, and yanked him viciously towards the isolation and imprisonment of the tower.

      Brian, wincing through the pain, couldn’t help but conjure the image of the lovely young woman bare-pelted, from behind. . .

     “Have ye seen her arse then, Father?  I mean the wart and all?”

     The novitiates clamped their hands to their mouths, to stifle the giggles, and the boys roared and hooted, doubled over with the laughter,

     “She’s a Saint, and been dead for 600 years, you goat’s spore!”

     Father Alphonsus, holding him arm’s length, by the hair, stopped and tried to kick him in the soft parts, and then the buttocks, alternating – bollocks, buttocks, bollocks, buttocks, but Brian dodged the blows, hurtling himself, front and back, and side to side, like when his brothers had him up against the wall and all trying to pummel him in the goolies with the sliotar, practicing their hurley swings. 

     And all the while Brian trying to explain, “It’s just that, when I’m on me knees in prayer, Father, I’ve often thought fondly of her Holy Relics, and such.  I know her lovely head is in Rome, her little foot is in Venice, and her finger, her sacred finger, in Ravenna – with a ring made from the foreskin of the baby Jesus” . . ..

     And he wondered how that worked, exactly.  For one thing it sounded painful for the sweet little babe, and for another, it seemed unlikely a Jewish Rabbi would place such a thing on the finger of a Catholic nun . . . and then he couldn’t help it, his mind ran to the bit about shavin’ her hair off, and he wondered if they meant all her hair . . . and even if Saint’s had a place for hair other than the top of their head . . .  and then there was the part about scaldin’ her face off, and he thought she might have done it so’s no one would notice the wart and all on her arse . . . but still . . . she might have looked lovely, naked, from the front . . . with a sack over her head . . ..

     “Do you suppose her breasts are with the rest of her then, Father? . . . I’d like to think so,” he grinned.

     “Ye little rabble rouser!  Fomenter of chaos!  Instigator! of Erin!  Wailed Father Alphonsus, responsible for the edification of souls, of the young Princes of the Isle . . . “I’ll feckin’ kill ye!”




The settings in 10th century Ireland are simple – a stone chamber, a tower, the forest.   It’s the situation, characterization, humor, that makes a scene interesting, and impossible to convey without illustration. 

Setting: Craig Lia – Is a rocky crag above the ancient ring fort of Beal Boru, where the jagged stones from the beginning of time, protrude from blankets of moss and bracken. It is a matter of historical record, that Brian believed in the pagan myth passed down in his Clan, that a Shee – Avril, the fairy Queen, who lived in the crag, was a: guardian for the children, companion for a lonely warrior, on a cold night before battle, gift of memory for the old ones, and of prophesy for the King. 


NarratorBeginning and end of each book to recap and foreshadow hook, Hero, Avril, Attack,

                                    Brian’s journey to come. And Series Title.         

    And so, it was . . .

             That all of Killaloe lay smoldering in embers and ashes,

             And the Shannon ran red, with blood of the sons of Cennetig,

             And blood red, the hills, and meadows of Erin.


             In years to come, the old ones would say, looking back at the time of dragonships,

             That was the day the Banshee of Craig Lia, who loved the boy who would never be King, 

             The last, and least of twelve sons, found him trembling, burned, and broken,

             And drenched in his mother’s blood,


              Then Avril, of the high crag – guardian of the crumbling ringfort of Beal Boru,

              Shee of the ancient ones – riders of the white horse, mound builders, chariot racers,

              Raisers of Lia Fail stone – and the child of the last Thracian King, 

              Issued forth a keening wail . . . an oath of reckoning . . . a vow, to the enemies of Erin,


             Then raging in wild and savage fury,

             Scored their fates, into the face of her cliffs,

             By thunder, of Hammered Steel!                  

             And lightening, of Crimson Fire! 


              For the courage in the heart of the boy,

              Destined – him to be the one . . . 


              The Instigator of Freedom for Ireland!



 Setting: The Hill of Tara – 

The Hill of Tara is the jewel in the crown of Ireland, today, and in Brian’s story.  It begins and ends on this Hill and is the setting of several of the most poignant scenes in his life.  There is a single standing stone, for thousands of years it has been known as the Lia Fail, or The Stone of Destiny.  It is where, Brian is crowned High King, and Ard Ri, and when he is lost, prays on his knees to God, to show him the way.  And finally, after the final battle, jumps over the setting sun, with his lifelong friend, on their way to take their place – where only true stories of real Heroes are told . . . ‘round the campfires in the sky.   


Prologue:  The Saga-teller – delivers Theme: Truth vs Lie/fairytale – Courage vs Cowardice

     “Tell us a tale,” the people called out, and drew back like the tides of the Red Sea, “Of myths and monsters . . . of demons and dragons.”

      The old man, gnarled and weathered as a druid oak, made his way to the top of the windswept hill, drawing near to the fire.  Then placed his hand upon the ancient standing stone, gently as a grandfather caresses the face of a child. “I have no fairy tales,” he said, and bent his head so that his tears fell at the base of the Stone.                                               ~ ~ ~

     When the old man spoke again, ‘twas a fearsome thing – a rumbling, come from way down deep in the heart of Erin, up through the hill and the stone.  The growling of a feral beast, to scold, and score, and shake the earth from its slumber. 

     And the wind swirled all around them, in a fury of waves and torrents, up and over the cliffs at the edge of the world.  And tumbled over the Hill, hurling his voice like rolling thunder, across the plains, over the mountains, and beyond the seas.

      “Oh, you foolish children, who seek what is not there, and never was – a reflection in the pool, a shadow upon the meadow, an echo in the hills – has no beating heart!  Don’t you know, there can be no courage, nor valor, nor Hero, nor deeds worth remembering, nor story worth telling without truth!

     All else is chaff in the wind.” 

     And the breath of Erin whispered all around them, quickening every blade of grass, ruffling the leaves silver, and tumbling the clouds in moon-glow. . .


Setting: Ireland – Hook, Mystery, Intrigue, Suspense to come (metaphors no fantasy)


      “Listen well!”  The old man roared, a mighty stag upon the mount.

            “For, I will tell you of a myth that is true, and of the monster who fed upon it, 

             Of a boy who became a giant, and of the serpent who dragged him down to Hel,

             Of a light, a brilliant light, as bright as a blood-ember, glowing,

             And of a demon in the darkness, black as a tomb in a new moon,

             And of the shadow he conjured, that grew upon the wall,

             Twisting and writhing, and slithering through the cracks,

             Until it spread o’er the land, extinguishing the light,

             And with it came a pestilence, a poison, a plague, on the children of Eiru,

             To scorch and shrivel every meadow and flower, and dream and dawning,

             For every dew drop in Erin, turned to blood!

            And The most sacred of all fell on this hill, on this stone, on this very night . . .

            And it all began – the day the dragons came!”  


Setting: Geoffrey’s Chamber –Thief in the Night – From lowly cleric to, rich and successful Author 

     Geoffrey of Monmouth, cleric to Walter, the Archdeacon of Oxford, perched on his stool like a plague raven gargoyle, casting a loathsome eye back and forth between the piles of musty manuscripts, and the trencher of spitted piglet carcass on the table before him.   The corners of his right eye and mouth ticked spasmodically, like the twitching of a maggot flicked onto hot embers.  And rightly so, for he drew nearer to a spit-scorching himself, every day.

     He’d exceeded his deadline for the King.

     There by, reneged on his contract, betrayed the trust, and spat in the face of the King’s generosity.   Ah yes, and how had the First Henry put it?  Coyly, with one arm about his shoulder, and his dagger in his other hand, the tip of the blade, darting about his face like a poison-fanged adder, as he walked him to window gesticulating East, over Wales to England.  His broad sword and small mace jingling; and compliment of soldiers with all the aforesaid, as well as battle-ax, boar-spear, neck-cuffs, chains, and gaffing hook, helped to make his point.

     You, Geoffrey, hold not only the outcome of my war with France – in your right hand – but my very life, and the future of all Britain, as well!”  His eyes narrow-slitted, and glinting, “Do you think you can manage?”  

     Geoffrey, his right hand usually occupied with himself, let go to wipe the sweat from his upper lip, and flap at his gown to fan the water running down his legs and moth-eaten stockings, into his scuff-worn sandals. 

     Indeed, Henry 1st, King of England had decked the Tower of London, for Yule – with bowels and bollocks – for far less disappointment, than this.

     How his entrails would be removed to garland the Great Hall, and his cods to roast with the chestnuts, during the hymn singing, evoked in Geoffrey intolerable pain and a constant sweating, so that he wondered if he might be bleeding from every pore.

     He quickly crossed himself over the blasphemous thought, turning his gaze away from the waning sun’s rays, palely illuminating the three crucifixes hanging upon the stone chamber wall above the fireplace before him.  A thief on each side, and Christ in the middle, who loved scabby lepers, filthy Samaritans, and poxied prostitutes, diverted His gaze from Geoffrey as well.


Setting:  Geoffrey’s motive – what he is giving up                                                              

      With a pang of self-pity, Geoffrey acknowledged he’d seen horse stalls bigger and more congenial than this, and far less foul smelling.  His chamber, a flue for the kitchen below, cow-pen, pigsty and stable just outside and up-wind, possessed stone walls stained with several hundred years of smoke and greasy soot, and infused with the smells of rotting rubbish heap, rancid swine slop, and pungent horse dung.

       In one corner, the stone floor opened to a steep and winding staircase down, contrived so that one Kingsman, with a sword in his right hand, could defend the tower against an upcoming horde of Saxons.

      Perhaps left-handed, he’d obviously failed his task, the filthy drunken Saxons having used his chamber for a privy for three hundred years, and the stench remained.

     In the other corner – a rudely constructed cot, lumpy with infested horse-hair mattress, home to bed lice, and other small vermin, attracting certain barn foul, which in turn deposited defecated remnants of said vermin, all over the contents of the chamber.  Next to the bed, a small chest contained everything shabbily made and thread bare, he owned.  And beside it, a wicker basket with his only other set of grimy linens, which the Archdeacon’s cat, following the Saxons lead, befouled on a regular basis as well.


Setting:  Geoffrey’s chamber on the West Coast of Wales

       He, Geoffrey, lowly cleric from Monmouth, who would otherwise be trapped in the cave-infested, midden-heap of Anglesey, in the farthest foul dregs of west Wales, beyond the outer edge of the Roman Empire and civilization, and the closest landfall to the barbaric Irish. Even mighty Caesar, though he conquered the rest of the world – loathed to go to Ireland.

     And if he refused?  His future loomed bleak. Nothing had ever come from puking Wales, beset with superstitions, ghosts of ghoulish Danes skulking in the mists, and wailings echoing throughout the hills of evil otherworldly demons.  The last of the headless Celts, festering in tombs, and bansheeing about in vile winds, forever blowing over from the Irish Sea, with the fetid breath and blustering bowels of the Irish!


Setting: Clontarf –Flashback in media res. Latean brings severely wounded Brian, news of his sons 

      Young Latean, attendant to the High King, thrust his foot up and down with all his might into the mutilated face of a youth not much older than himself, but the mass of gutted wound-slurry would not let loose of his ankle.  A ghastly claw, white and bloodless, tethered him to the battlefield of blood and gore – the specter of death haunting the corpse’s eyes, plotting to drag them both down to hell.

      He swiped at his eyes with a blood-soaked sleeve, and kicked frantically until his shoe slid off, talon and all, then staggered on up the battlefield, towards the tent at the top of the hill.

      He bore a message for the Ard Ri, he’d sooner cut out his heart than deliver – but deliver it he would.

     The gory dead conspired to trip him up, their severed heads and limbs scattered among their own entrails.  The dying moaned out to him and tore at his clothes.  He slipped and fell, again and again, crawling on his hands and knees, retching, and gasping for air.

     Blood, warm and cold and clotted as blood pudding, oozed through his fingers. Smoke and ashes seared his lungs.  Scarlet spurted from sword slashings and dripped in stringy rivulets down from tree branches overhead, upon his face. The salt from the blood, mixing with the salt in his sweat-soaked tears, ran into his eyes, stinging and blinding him so that he could not see. 

     All around him, the great oaks of Tomar Wood grew black with ravens, as the fallen twitched and writhed from hill to sea.  He struggled to stand, and clinging to a sapling, looked back down the battlefield, his stomach revolting at the sickening stench of burning flesh and ruptured bowels.


Setting: The view towards the sea

     The pallor of death had spread over the land, gray and bloodless. 

For it was all on the field – all the blood in the world, oozed and gushed, and seeped onto the mud and trampled flowers of Clontarf meadow.

     To the West, the last of the sun, blazed like a dying ember in a windblown fire.

     To the South, black smoke churned, and carcass-flames leapt up from the walls of Dublin Castle into a scarlet sky.

     To the East on the seashore, Danes, drowning in chainmail thrashed at water’s edge, flickering silver and blue, in scarlet foam, like a bucket of bait-herring.  Their dragonships, born out and away by the high tide and offshore wind, drifted empty and rudderless.  All around him, the edges of the earth, had burst into flames.

     And all the while, Erin’s treasure, in a river of crimson, flowed down the battlefield, across the strand, and into the Irish Sea, staining the dark green, like red wine spilled onto a silken gown.

    For bestowed over all,  meadow, man and beast, a blessing – an Irish blessing of blood – borne  on a crimson, rain-soaked wind, up from the frothing sea.                                                                   Latean wiped at his eyes with a blood-soaked sleeve, and looked up to the Heavens, wondering at the hand, that could offer such a benediction over the end of all dreams.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Setting – outside the King’s Tent

     At the top of the hill, wound-ravaged warriors encircled the High King’s tent.  The last of the original Dal Cassians, Brian’s boys from the beginning, now gray with age, scarred, and wounded.

     They listed back and forth, shivering and blood soaked, against the gusting wind, leaning upon gore-slurried spears – splintered shields locked together, dulled swords encrusted in blood-clotted scabbards.  Still, they stood bravely at the ready, loyal to their Chief until the end, their silhouettes, etched in torrents of red rain, lashed sideways upon the outside walls of the tent.  Ghosts, and blood of ghosts born over the battlefield, on banshee winds hurled up from the wild Irish Sea.

      In front of the tent, a terrible pain stabbed at his heart – a scene more sorrowful than bearing.  “Amergin,” he whispered.

      Three battle weary warriors struggled at the ends of ropes, around the neck of an enfrenzied gray war-horse – the King’s stallion – his valiant battle companion for more than thirty years of warring.   The beast, crazed with pain, thrashed between them, dragging, and tossing them like wet rags, desperate to be free.

      Oblivious to his war wounds, he skittered and reared, trying to bolt.  Broken shafts of spears pierced his shoulders and flanks. Deep slashes laced his powerful chest.  Arrows pierced his heaving belly as streams of blood trailed down over his legs, strafed with sword cuts.

      The aging stallion screamed, fierce and blood-curdling, charging towards the tent.  The whites of his eyes shot with blood, as he tossed his proud head.   His thick muscular neck, flexing and twisting, snake like.   His massive rump bunched and coiled to bolt, rearing, and pawing the air.  A profuse white mane and tail, blood-drenched and muddied, churned about him like the fury of tempest-tossed waves, spraying spirals of blood over his restrainers.   Even as scarlet foam blew from his nostrils – barbed arrow tips twisting in his lungs.  

     Still his great heart would not give in, he too, fighting to get to his beloved master.


Setting – Inside King Brian’s Tent – Battle of Clontarf, as the slaughter closes in

       A single candle flame flickered . . . then sputtered . . . then glowed . . . first tentatively, then defiantly, in the darkness and drafts surrounding it.   Though the battle raged ever closer.

     The screams of men, and the spear-gored war horse, shattered the coming twilight, together with the clang, and sparks of steel on steel, and flames of fiery torches, seething, and writhing upward in twisted funnels, to the blackening sky.

     Latean reached out his trembling and bloodied hand, and lit another . . . and another . . . and another, blinking away blurry haloes of light.

    The honeyed scent of bee’s wax wafted aloft, mingling with smells of smoke, and battle-sweat and charring flesh. 

     Candlelight suffused the tent with a soft amber glow, casting molten shadows upon the walls, and illuminating the tokens of a Warrior’s lifetime of battle.

     In the center, of the tent, a roughhewn table, about which all of King Brian’s brave generals had sat. Lucifer’s minions – snakes in the grass, lying in wait . . . rabid dogs in the manger . . .  wrist-claspers, and oath-givers, and vow breakers . . . Judases all! ”Now it stood soaked and dripping with hero’s blood, of their beloved Chief and King.


Setting: Brian’s sword, his battle companion, carries his blood to the "book." (MacGuffin)                                                                    

 . . .  And in the hand, that still wielded it, a great double-edged sword – woven and forged in steel, tempered in the blood of murderers, and burnished with the blood of cherished ones, bearing his father’s name, his grandsire’s, and his father before him. The hilt and pommel filigreed with gold.  The hand grip – stag horn wrapped in silver wire.  Once, gleaming in the sun, held high before the Army of the Dal Cass, in battle-charge; or hilt up to make a cross, over a King’s blessing of his men, on bended knee, before waging war; or glistening in the prow of the lead war ship of, the Navy of Erin – Now, it lay cold and chipped, and darkly smeared – and still wet . . . As blood flowed from the mighty heart, along the scarred and sinewed arm, down the blade . . . and onto the tip, a pool of scarlet collected, then dripped down onto the page . . . of a book.


Settings:   The Shannon River - Gofraid’s dragonships on their way to attack

      Dead-eyed and soulless the dragons came. Preening black swans – their fine boned, worm-whorled prows and arched necks, skimmed the water, caressing their breasts, barely stirring a wake.  Crimson sails billowed in the wind, from yew masts, like blood-eagled lungs from cloven-ribs of corpses, floating on the river Styx.

     They came without sound, without warning – reivers from Hell, in the dawning.

     And in each belly, Lucifer’s seed – One hundred mail-clad, pointed-helmed, steel-bladed Danes – engorged with mead, and bloodlust for rapine and ax-slaughter.  On their arms, rings of silver and gold, filthy lucre for the children of Erin, sold as slaves to the harems of the Moor and Persian Kings.

      Atop each mast, a saffron banner thrashed in the wind – a tusked black boar, eviscerating a great horned stag – the banner of Gofriad, master of all, standing in the prow of the Long Dreki.  

     Gofraid, defiler of children, and desecrator of Christian altars with innocent blood, throughout Angland, Frankland, Scotland, and Irland.

     Gofraid, son of Sigtrigg Gale, son of Sigtrigg Ivarsson, son of Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok – King of the Norse, and scourge of all Christendom.

      He had decimated Killaloe, and the Irish Tribal King of Thomond before, in his youth with his father. But enough time had passed for the boar-tough, Cennetig, of the Clann Dal Cais, to build up his stores of cattle, pigs, lamb and horses, and a round tower with treasures of precious gems and metals, forged steel blades, crosiers and crosses, silver reliquaries, horse-trappings, and bejeweled covers of their sacred books, illuminated in gold – And his stores of sons . . .

     Twelve he had now.  None in all Norseland, could claim such a gift.


Setting:  The Nursery

     His crib, and then cot, being the one farthest in the corner of twelve, had made his life challenging from the get-go.   At bedtime, before his Mam arrived to hear her boys’ prayers, as a babe he was tossed from one brother to the next like a chunk of turf . . . as a small boy, slung like a sheaf of goat turds . . . and more recently, hoisted aloft and jettisoned along over their heads, as they chanted “Who will score! Who will score!  Until building up momentum . . . launched him like tossing the caber . . as close as they could get him to the piss-bucket in the corner.

     It took a few years, and although he was always accused of stinking the place up, by wetting the bed, to their mam, and the brunt of all manner of smirking, verbal castigation, facial contortion, and obscene gesticulations his way, while his Mam’s eyes were closed during the prayers . . .  he never ratted them out.  For which he earned their respect, if not mercy.  As the mighty Bebinn, would have flogged their bowels out, for tormenting her. . . favorite one, her changeling babe, with the lovely red curls, left by the faeries, and not related a’tall to the rest of Cennetig’s hooligans . . . so they all mimicked. 

     As time passed, he learned quickly, he could duck, tuck and roll, twist in midair like a cat, and land on his feet straddlin’ the bucket, without spillin’ a drop.   With his brothers cheering him on, “The Runt holds, against the langers of Ulster!”    Firbolg one!  To Ui Neill pissers, none!   Hie!   Let’s hear for the Runt! Runt! Runt! 

     And in their Mam would come, eyes a twinkle trying to keep a straight face with their Da’s hurl, flailing the air, and boys jumping up and down like fleas in a hot pot, sliotars whizzing, pillows, and feather beds, flying around the chamber, in a flurry of goose down and horsehair.

     And finally, Mam tuckin’ him in as she did all her boys and givin’ each a kiss, she’d bend low so only he could hear her, “I know ’twasn’t ye’r fault Bri.   Did ye know, each of ye’r brothers was the Firbolg in his turn, your Da, and Grand Da, as well?  Never ye mind, the day will come when ye’ll be as big as they are, and they’ll have to face ye in the Tourney for the wrestlin’ and all.   And ye can show them then.

      Then she would bend close to his ear, and whisper, “Never forget . . . the finest steel, is hammered the most, and forged in the fieriest furnace!”  Then she’d wink, eyes sparklin’ and full of the mischief, and kiss him on the forehead. “One day the Runt will rise!”  She’d say . . . and I’ll be lookin’ down on ye with a smile on me face . . . me own little Bri . . . the bravest and fiercest Firbolg of all.”


Setting: Family campfire in the graveyard, under the ancient oak of Mag Adair

      But . . .  whatever it would cost him in the class of torment . . .  he could conger up this very night, already.  All his brothers gathered ‘round, a wink and a nod of affirmation from Father Maelsuthain,  and his Da’s face all aglow with firelight and pride, at the telling of the battle of Brian and the great white sea-eagle for the most glorious salmon in all the world! . . .  Well, young Brian, ye’ve got a warrior’s heart in ye, right enough, he’d say.   No, Da could ask more of his son. . .  All the rest of ye boys look to ye’r young brother . . . and remember this day . . . and his Da would grab him under his chin in the crook of his elbow, plunging his face into his rank hairy oxer, and rub his knuckles on the top of his head, the closest thing Cennetig ever gave to a hug . . . The grandest fish goes to the biggest heart, and the smallest cods, eh, lad! . . . .  And there would be laughter and teasin’ for the Runt, the manky little Firbolg, and pride in the eyes of his Mam, and laughter and glowing faces all around – a cheer from the boys.  A grand moment not soon forgotten . . ..

    Brian could feel the rush of devil-mongerin’ pride,  risin’ up in him.  There would be no weaslin’ out – ‘twould be runnin’ the gauntlet of slaughteror die tryin’!

    Besides . . . he’d fought this battle before.


Setting:  The Chapel – In front of the door.

     Brian gestured with his hand up, casting an evil eye, and grunted for Chulainn and Lug to stay! And shush!   Which they protested with a pitiful whining, Lug laying down with the long puss of the hang-dog look, and Chulainn panting, and whining, eyes on fire with mischief, like the wanton harlot, Queen Maeve of the North, looking for a quick bend-over the altar, so says his Da, in the tomb of Newgrange.  And Brian had always wondered why she would bend over the altar to pray, instead of on her knees in front, like the rest of the world. . . but then she was the “wanton,” one, his Da always said, with a sly wink to him . . . and then, he’d always wondered what she was wantin’  for . . . her bein’ a Queen and all?  She could have anything she wanted.

     He moved towards the door, crossing himself, as best he could with his hands full, and whispering a prayer, of thanks, like his Mam had taught him, for small blessings – like no piss bucket, and old Patrick’s Prayer . . .

     “Christ be before me” . . . he whispered, “Christ behind me . . . on me right hand, and on me left . . . “Which he always followed by a whispering of the battle cry of the Dal Cass, as he always heard his Da call out after a few too many ales – Here’s to singin’ the short and curlies, lads!  May the flames of ye’r fires be short – and the arms of ye’r women be long!

      He wasn’t really sure of the meaning of it all, but he thrilled to the tears it brought to the old warrior’s eyes, as they nodded, and swilled in affirmation, to rid themselves of the lump in their throat, and banged their cups down upon the table, chanting, Dal Cais! . . . Dal Cais! . . . Dal Cais!

     He reached out, and with his dirty big toe – pushed ever so gently at the door . . .


  Setting:  The door of Lachtna 

      The thick Irish oak door, heavy as a cart of rocks, and hewn by Lachtna himself, to not only keep out the fustering Danes, but the hordes of godless Angles, and the odd Saxon, sniffin’ about for the south end of a ripe ewe.  Not to mention, scarred with nearly two hundred years of ax, sword, and spear blade mutilations. Pissed on by more than a few drunken Danes, before they set fire to it – and pissed on, by more than a few drunken Dal Cass, to put the fires out . . .  swung slowly open . . . 

     The rusted-out, bog-iron hinges, forged in the time of Methuselah, let loose with a never-ending, banshee-screeching creak, to raise the headless bog sacrifices of the Fomorians.

     The clatter of the boys ceased, silence filled the void, save for the shrieking wail of the rusty door . . .  As one by one, every head, every shade of red in the world, and slathered with freckles, face filled with a wonder, turned to him.  Every satanic, mischievous green eye in the chapel gawking at his fish.  Not a murmur, not a whisper, not a flutter of an eyelash filled the void, only . . . pure and utter reverence for the grandest, most glorious salmon in all this world!


Setting:  The Lay of the Land – Maelsuthain’s chapel

     Father Maelsuthain’s school, a small rectangular stone chapel, built in commemoration of when the first of the wild Pagan Clan Dal Cais, had stopped severing and collecting of the heads of other Clans’ men, for the decorating of their chariots.  Long enough to be baptized by Patrick himself, with the first Priest-blessed water drops, ever taken from the Shannon. 

      The oak table in front, now serving as an altar, still bore the ax-cleaving by his great, great, grand Da.  Who, deafer than a yew post, took offence, mistaking Patrick’s odd speech of the North, and Roman ways to boot . . . splashing water on him, and waving his ram-headed crozier about, thought it to be an invoking of the banshees of black pools – to shag his mother almost ended Christianity in Killaloe, before it began.  

      But the gouge in the table, bore witness to the miracle – the staying of the blade of the old pagan – as all knew the fearsome old King never missed, when hewin’ off a head – ‘twas blessed by Patrick, still sportin’ a head, as a proof of the true Christian God’s, power.  And so, the altar remained revered down through the ages. 

     All subsequent children of the Clan, when baptized as a babe, had their tiny hand placed in the very spot where Patrick’s had been, for good luck, and long life in God’s blessing.

     Upon the altar stood a simple roughhewn cross, singed black on the top, and bottom, made from a branch of the ancient Druid Oak upon the hill of Mag Adair.  When lightning struck and cleft the trunk down the middle, the tree survived; but the old King Lachtna with his sword in his hand, lit up like the shooting star named after the long arm of Lugh, sparks flying, eyes glowing red, smoke shooting from both his ears, and cursing like an Ulster goat-shagger – didn’t.

      So, the cross, stained with blood and singed hair, and declared sacred by Maelsuthain, his childhood friend – stood as a token of his oath to a dying King, that he would uphold the Clann, until his last stifled breath.   And laid down the law, that all Princes of the Dal Cass must attend school, develop their minds, and be in their seats by the time the bell stopped ringing or pay what’s due.

     This vow insured Father Maelsuthain, would invoke God’s blessing, upon his pupils if he was in a good mood – and Lachtna’s, of the fiery temper, armed with the ashen hurl, he kept by the altar leg, if they were late.  The good Father was a man of his oath, and the twelve sons of Cennetig had the splinters in their arses, to prove it. 


Narrator - Setting Ireland – Saga-teller – Hill of Tara – Foreshadowing, Intrigue, Suspense

And so, the young cub, the sky-jewel of Irland, who burned brighter than all the rest . . .
Would one day, consume the traitors, oath-breakers, snakes in the grass,

Descending like an eagle, hurtling down from the sky,
His shadow passed over moor, and meadow, and mountain,
First to the South, and then to the East, and West and Northward,

The breath of Erin, whispering his name before him,
Mists through ancient stones,
A shiver in the trees,
A rustle of leaves,
A ripple of quiet waters,

Demon, they murmured . . . Drakkar-Slayer . . .
And the cowards and murderers, and brokers of children, trembled behind bolted doors,

Shivering in the dark,
Their armies, in chainmail, with ramparts and moats, and murder holes surrounding them –
A shield wall of cobweb, against the steel blade of a mighty Warrior’s heart,

They hid and drank, and laughed aloud,

Boasting in the company of their slaughter mongers, 
As if, when alone in the dark, they did not piss in their trews,
And always, in their nightmares, they saw his specter,

Wild and ruddy – Cennetig’s cub,

The young lion in valor, 
Eyes gleaming, mouth agape, fangs bared, dripping with the blood of traitors,

Coming for them . . .

 And all the while, One-Eye’s ravens, hovered – circling – biding their time –                               

Until they slaked their thirst on coward’s blood . . .


                                                                        End Book I

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A)    The Act of a Story Statement

The scion of family of prominent medical researchers, is torn between the mounting pressure to pursue a career of academic research over his passion to care for the medically underserved. His residency at the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital is further jeopardized when he becomes the prime suspect in a seemingly impossible murder. Faced with public humiliation, professional ruin and quite possibly prison, he begins to search for answers beneath this iconic symbol of academic medicine. While racing to solve the murder, he is forced to navigate many unanticipated land mines, only to find out that nothing in his life is what it appears to be.

B)    The Antagonist Plots the Point

Dr. T. Mallory Campbell (“Malady”) is the chief of medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.  With his rimless glasses, bow tie and over starched lab coat, he is the very model of an academic physician. The sole arbiter of success for the legions of residents that work for him, they simultaneously live in awe and in fear of this larger-than-life man. Malady is a gifted clinician, world renown scientist and an overly ambitious ruthless and political infighter. For him, medical research is the coin of the realm. He has no use for anyone who does not follow this path. Despite this seemingly noble patina, Malady has a darker side. His “wandering eye” for attractive women ultimately leads to his demise.

C)    Conjuring a Breakout Title

“Death Beneath the Dome”- This title was selected because it refers to the iconic domed main building of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and juxtaposes the concept of “Death” alongside this symbol of healing.

“The Malady Project” – This was an alternative title that was ultimately rejected as too ambiguous.  The Malady Project was as assignment given to Hank by Dr. Campbell that facilitates solving the murder.

D)    Deciding Your Genre and Approaching Comparables

Death Beneath the Dome involves a series of murders that take place in and around an academic medical center. The main characters are members of a medical community, and the storyline line deals with disease and various medications. As such, a medical murder mystery seems to be the best genre for classification.

Robin Cooke would be the most comparable author or quite possibly Michael Crichton. While nowhere as accomplished as these authors, I am also physician who incorporates and translates complex medical topics in a manner that is both understandable and compelling. I then build on their fascination with medicine to draw the reader into a web of murder, deception, betrayal and ultimately redemption for the protagonist.  An alternative, less recognized comparable author might be Michael Palmer.

E)    Core Wound and the Primary Conflict 

An idealistic medical resident is torn between following the footsteps of his father in the “family business” of medical research and his inner desire to care for the underprivileged community of East Baltimore. Hank’s tragic flaw is his charming naivete which effectively blinds him to the surrounding web of intrigue and deception.

F)     Other Matters of Conflict

A newly minted medical resident at the famed Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Hank Baldwin seemed to have it all. He has been blessed with brains, brawn, a beautiful girlfriend and a glided path to professional success.  He is the envy of all. This suddenly changes when he becomes suspect in a seemingly impossible murder. Faced with public humiliation, professional ruin and quite possibly prison, he begins to search for answers at this iconic symbol of academic medicine. 

Dr. Hank Baldwin’s primary internal conflict is driven by his success in saving the life of an indigent patient. It is further fueled by his passionate romance with a colleague who regularly encourages him to chart his own career course.  The protagonist’s secondary external conflict is fueled by the chairman of medicine, who not only pressures Hank to pursue medical research but threatens him with professional ruin after uncovering a dirty secret.  

Protagonist conflict abounds, both internally and externally and is advanced by Hank’s overbearing parents, his insatiable love interest, a circle of ruthless residents competing for cherished career placement, the fearsome chief of medicine and a crusty inner-city detective.

G)    The Incredible Importance of Setting

The story takes place in East Baltimore, circa 1990. The iconic dome of the Johns Hopkins Hospital looms in sharp contrast to the sea of urban blight that surrounds it. Scenes alternate between the depictions of hardship facing the East Baltimore community and those of the privileges enjoyed by the medical community. The story also gives the reader an insider’s view of an academic medical center; the emergency room, autopsy room, regal office suites with a sense of realize that few every experience.    


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Assignment 1: Story Statement.


An eleven-year-old timid girl who came from the in-between dimension, fights with her friends to protect a young girl from a soulless entity who attempts to steal her magical coded disc of Phaistos medallion, and to find a way to seal the antagonist's servants back into their bodies.


Assignment 2: The Antagonist.


The antagonist is a woman who has passed away. An evil spirit who doesn’t know her true self. Due to her lack of awareness and her inability to recognize her true power, she feels the constant need to control others. Her goal in this adventure is to steal the well-known coded disc of Phaistos, from the ten-year-old Anemona. She wants to use the disc’s powers to control others and transform them into her slaves. Her narcissistic traits lead her to horrible crimes, while at the same time she hides her true nature very well behind her innocent behavior and looks. Nempthys had experienced hell in her living years and never had the chance to become familiar to the other side of the coin. One day she was betrayed by her own family, a traumatic event that transformed her into an earthbound spirit, unable to ever find rest in her thirst for revenge. After a passing of a most violent nature, she haunted Iraklion city.

As far as the ways she reacts to the world are concerned, she is finding it impossible to trust, so she is always in a defensive mode. She has learned how to hide the chaos that eats her away within her, by the use of her innocent looking appearance. She makes people trust her and takes advantage of their weaknesses and fears. Her soul is restless and is always ready to fight, by transforming herself into a merciless fiery tornado. In such case, her dress changes colors according to her mood, as well as its patterns that depict houses that are being ripped apart from the sea’s waves and terrifying tornadoes. Her intense rage causes huge disasters like earthquakes and fires, whirlpools and sandstorms, and the more she harms the souls around her, the more the hollow expands inside her.


Assignment 3: Breakout title.


A.      Rosie Protects the Coded Disc of Phaistos.

B.      Rosie Petra and the Coded Phaistos Disc.

C.      Rosie Protects the Mysterious Disc of Phaistos.


Assignment 4: Possible Comparables.


A.      The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett.

B.      The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series) by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.


Why do they compare to my book?


A.      The Wright 3 contains unexplainable accidents and ghostly happenings, just like in my book. There is also a hunt for a coded message, another common characteristic we share. The children in the Wright 3 need to piece together the clues, as well as in my story, my heroes turn into detectives and problem solvers.

B.      Encrypted messages and a coded note in ‘The Unbreakable Code’ book, as well as in my book. We both use ‘fire’ as an element that causes more drama and mystery. In the Unbreakable Code, “Mr. Quisling, has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: The Unbreakable Code.” There is a hint he might be the Antagonist. In my book, my Antagonist is after a historical puzzle as well, which is the mysterious Coded Disc of Phaistos that actually exists in the real world, and its symbols have not been interpreted all these years.


Assignment 5: Hook line:


Rosie Protects the Coded Disc of Phaistos:


An eleven-year-old girl who is afraid of the world of the living people, finds herself back to this dimension by accident, where she needs to find the courage to both discover her own true self and to protect a young girl and the rest of the world, from the spiritual dimension’s most dangerous evil entity.


Assignment 6: Rosie’s inner conflict.


A.      Primary conflict:  


She is afraid of the world of the living people. She feels in turmoil every time she is out on her own. The reason behind it is the fact that she had a violent death, but she does not remember it. The memory has been hidden deep in her subconscious mind. Her fear is very strong and paralyzes her. She gets panic attacks.


A hypothetical scenario in the story:


Case A:


She goes for a walk to the countryside with her friends, when she wants to return home at some point, as soon as they have reached a weird looking bridge that is suspended in the air. Anything that looks unusual, causes her fear. The reason again, is because of the violent death she had in the past, from a weird looking human. However, she cannot make the association consciously in her mind. Everything feels like a fog within it.


Case B:


When she finds herself at the Museum of Natural History’s shop on her own. She has to confront the spirit of a dinosaur that has gotten out of his body. She is trapped and has no choice but to think on her feet. She feels in turmoil because her etheric body has holes, from which a negative entity can suck energy out of her since she has not learned yet how to protect herself. She feels vulnerable and her own fear functions as a magnet to negative spirits.

Why does she feel conflicted?

She feels conflicted because she has to choose within seconds whether to hide, or DO something about it. Is taking action going to be her doom, or her salvation? Would she be grabbed if she ran? And if she did so, toward which way would she manage to save her life in her afterlife? It would be only ONE choice that would save her, and she had to take it within a very short time.

Why does she feel anxious?

Rosie feels anxious for many reasons at the same time. Without her being aware consciously, she feels great anxiety because she does not know whether she will be able to return home, to her spiritual dimension. She found herself in this different scary dimension of the living people, by accident, along with her friends and her brother. The uncertainty of the future causes her additional stress.

There is also another much deeper reason: Since she is at the beginning of the search of her true identity, she is not aware of her true capabilities. She feels deep in her subconscious that there is some unfinished business for her in that place, but she has no clue where she is heading to, what she needs to do, when she will return home, and that she is a person from whom many other people depend on her. She is not aware of her worth as a soul, and feels insignificant. This feeling derives from her violent death. She is currently blind to her own precious qualities as a good entity, and therefore, this ignorance puts her into grave danger when she needs to protect her own life.

Her first reaction at the dinosaur scene: She gets a panic attack, sweats and is about to pass out. She sees some glass balls hanging within a net, with various names attached to them, hanging from a small rack. She grabs one of them instantly as if she were under guidance, and throws it onto the floor, in front of the massive dinosaur-spirit. This action saves her…


Hypothetical scenario for the secondary conflict:


Rosie’s secondary conflict:


Regarding her identity. She feels empty and does not know yet who she truly is.

There is a scene with chaotic argument that occurs at some point with her friends, when they go somewhere for a walk. A storm starts in their spiritual dimension, and a bunch of upsetting scrolls land in front of them, with their names on them. They think it has been one of their friends who sent them to them, and this is the reason a fight starts among them. In this case, Rosie’s sanity is being tested.


Assignment 7: Setting.


On the island of Crete (Greece) at Iraklion city. Also:


B.      On a trireme flying ship. (Ancient Greek-Roman ship with multiple oars.)

C.      The Museum of Natural History.

D.      Iraklion’s city center, at the four lions’ square-fountain.

E.       The Archaeological Museum.

F.       The children’s house.

G.      Georgiadi Park.

H.      A small church.

I.        Koule Castle.

J.       The Mayor’s building.

K.      The Akashic Records Library.

L.       A valley with a cave.



A.      Crete is an interesting island for the foreigners because of its Archaeological places and myths, its mystical monasteries, the beautiful beaches and great food, as well as its ancient Greek treasures and inventions. It has many traditional villages where time seems to have stopped, and people display the way they used to live in the past. It has a number of interesting museums like the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Natural History of Crete, The Historical Museum, and the very impressive Koule Castle at the port.

B.      The trireme flying ship is a very impressive ship, with multiple rudders, wooden railings and lanterns that lit up on their own when it’s dark. It’s a mysterious and fun place to be, especially to the children. It has a cabin that shelves various bottles that contain this very special ‘faith’ drink. One of its sails depicts a big open eye. This ship hides a number of treasure chests in secret compartments, along with invisible guards that can’t be seen by the children just yet. It is a haunted ship. Its stern carries as an ornament the head of a swan that consists of multiple pieces of mirror. The cargo hold consists of special rectangle mirrors with silver decorative frames that resemble unique waves that are loaded with stars and planets. The braces that held the masts, were consisted of spiders’ threads. Despite the fact they look fragile, they are extremely strong.

C.      The Museum of Natural History:

The Museum displays various animals of Crete, in front of big illuminated photos of the wild local nature. The animals have been positioned within an artificial space that represents their natural habitat. There is also an exhibition of three dimensional colorful holograms. An internal cinema shows a documentary about how dinosaurs used to live in the past. Big models of dinosaurs are a part of the exhibition in various parts of the museum, along with various interactive games that help visitors understand the phenomena of nature, like tsunami and earthquakes. An earthquake simulator helps people feel how earthquakes were like in Japan.

D.      Iraklion’s city center:

This is where the well-known fountain of the four lions is, where the water runs through their mouths. It is a small square surrounded by cafes and restaurants. In one of those cafes, pirates and skeletons hang around to have their meal and their beloved salmagundi salad. This is where spirits of dinosaurs will appear, along with the children-heroes. And this is also where one of the statues of the lions will come to life to help out the children. On the main area-street, gypsies are selling hellion filled balloons for the children, in various cute shapes of dinosaurs and Mamoths. Some gypsie boys have dressed themselves like Charlie Chaplin, and have painted their faces in white.

E.      The Archaeological Museum:

It is loaded with a great amount of Ancient Greek treasures, most of them found in Crete. It has a small beautiful garden with benches, and a fountain. It also has a café, both indoors and outdoors for the visitors. Inside, there is an interactive screen where visitors can play a game with the use of their own shadow! It becomes especially cinematic when Corsair Barbarossa’s Pirate skeletons enter the Museum, and steal some treasures.

F.      The children’s house: It is a mansion with Gothic shaped windows. It is loaded with various inventions that have been created by their father’s colleague Sir Hipparchus. Its style is classic with good quality wooden furniture and precious carpets. Their house is haunted by the children themselves and their family and friends.

G.      Georgiadi Park: One of the main parks of Iraklion city. A park where the trees carry sculptures of faces, a park where little children use to play and various markets and exhibitions take place. A very well designed park with a one and only outdoors café. The trees are very tall and feels almost like a secret garden, with a few paths and well cared for gardens.

H.      A small church: A tiny church that has been built in the heart of the main market. No more than ten people would fit inside. It has some beautiful colorful stained round windows, a candleholder container for people to immerse their lit up candles in the sand. Right outside it, there is a silver samovar that contains blessed water, along with silver cups for the visitors. All around the church, a number of touyia trees have been planted. A vulture had landed recently on its dome. This tiny church has a mystical atmosphere, especially during the winter.

I.        Koule Castle: The main castle of Iraklion city that has been built at the port. A very impressive castle with stone made walls and halls, and big heavy wooden doors. A wide slippery stone ramp leads onto its roof. On its back side, there is a cornice made of white stone and depicts a three dimensional lion. Apart from ancient amphores, it also contains a big number of cannon balls in its corridors, along with cannons that carry a sculpture of a lion on their end, with its tongue out of its mouth.

J.       The Mayor’s building:

The Mayor is positioned inside a Venetian building that is built in the center’s heart. Under his main offices, there is a public hall, surrounded by arced entrances. A number of sculpted portraits of well-known Cretan people, are decorating the walls. The beautiful architecture continues on the right side as we enter into a round yard. Around its walls, there is a number of windows that belong to offices. Some parts of the wall have been sculpted, offering a number of very creative images. As we enter the yard, there are two doors on the right and left sides that lead to the offices. As we enter, we see right in front of us a semi-circled part that gives us the impression there is a hidden crypt. This is one of the places where skeletons-pirates and spirits of dinosaurs intrude and take over.

K.      The Akashic Records Library:

The Akashic Records Library is supposed to be a library in the spiritual world according to spiritual Authors, where all the knowledge of the world has been accumulated. I described it using some of my fantasy, the way I saw it in my eyes. It’s an exciting place to be, where all the Greek Philosophers, Scientists and Artists of the ancient years can be found, along with some of the ancient Greek inventions. For example: A servant who serves hot cocoa to the visitors at the reception. People are seen walking up and down some really long stairs that lead to the library, somewhere in the sky. A huge pair of glasses hangs above the reception, and Rosie the main hero proceeds to the upper floor, where she finds herself inside a tree house that contains stairs, and its walls are consisted of meringue. On its upper floor, she discovers portraits of her friends and her brother in the hall, along with a second room in which a mystery book with a hologram on its cover awaits her. In this library, one surprise appears after the other: Lit up mushrooms that lead her to this big olive tree, a big hovering balloon with a wax figure inside it, miniature planes that fly around, birds on the bookshelves, special carpets with moving images that reveal what somebody needs to know, a big beautiful colorful glass dome on the second floor, and…a mirror man whom Rosie follows and loses him within the library. She also discovers her uncle studying at one of the tables. Another special invention of a clock-man surprises her while she is still inside the tree house.

L.      A valley with a cave:

In this valley, the law of physics is quite different. The waterfalls run upward instead of downward. The cave is a big cave with labyrinths and some fog on its ceilings. It contains lakes with very enchanting green turquoise colors, as well as columns of stalactites and stalagmites. It’s a very mysterious place for the children, one that calls to be explored.

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I. Act of Story Statement

The story of a summer semester during which Kim must learn to be comfortable in her own body.


II. Antagonistic Forces

The antagonistic force is Kim’s own imposter syndrome—she feels she does not belong at Zephyr. The first embodiment of this we meet is Tabatha, a typical disaffected liberal arts student, chain-smoking her way through diatribes at the campus coffeehouse. In the second half of the novel, this frenemy introduces Kim to the antagonistic force’s more powerful proxy—Dr. Deborah Vasbinder-Martinez, the rock star feminist studies professor who is the actual daughter of Kim’s father figure on campus, Dr. Vasbinder, and slowly revealed as the lover of at least one student peer of Kim’s. The cool professor trope goes too far and parallels the allegations flung at the campus celebrity, Phil Stern, a fitness guru. The final form of the antagonistic force is manifested by a pre-med meathead, an upperclassman we often see in the weightroom who is known for bad behavior at parties and his loose friendship with Kim’s love interest. He embodies all the stereotypical behavior of a dumb jock in a way that contrasts with the love interest.


III. Breakout Titles

The Stars at Night
Celestial Bodies
Written in the Stars


IV. Genre: Women’s Fiction (Upscale, Contemporary)

Comparables: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, Juno & Juliet by Julian Gough, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Groundskeeping by Lee Cole, aspiring toward anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid or Caroline Kepnes, nonfiction books like Let’s Get Physical, Body Work—as well as the AppleTV show Physical.


V. Conflict and Core Wound

Kim finds love with the big man on campus where she attends school for free as the daughter of the landscaper.


VI. Inner Conflict

Kim’s imposter syndrome stems from being a local on an elite campus—this is intended to be played for laughs. Her weight bothers her but does not define her. She feels insecure about her boyfriend. She seeks out father figures on campus without meaning to. Her female friendships can be complicated.

Secondary (Social) Conflict example: There’s a scene in the weight room where Kim steps into her power in a way that physically intimidates a smaller woman, whom Kim refers to as a “twig”: Tabby, who is overly verbose and has anorexic tendencies that are condemned without moralizing.

Tertiary (Inner) Conflict example: Kim receives an email from her boyfriend with an attachment: a photo he surreptitiously took of her during their tortured round of disc golf on campus. In it, she looks warriorlike and strong, providing a new way of thinking about herself. She compares this photo to one of her boyfriend that appeared in the campus newspaper, noting how they bookend and even complement each other.


VII. Setting

Many people romanticize college because it was the last time they lived in a walkable community. This tendency to perambulate thoroughly powers the plot and has been integral to the story from the beginning. The reader first meets the narrator as she walks around campus on the last day of finals.

The small liberal arts campus is based on every campus in central Texas, most heavily influenced by the burned-out shell of a 19th century college. Elements of all these schools, including geography and history, create a conglomerate fictional campus that feels real. The on-campus housing complex, known as the Triangle, is central to the story; sharp-eyed readers will see the campus map takes a familiar shape, but this is never explicitly spelled out.

The school is named Zephyr—the campus mythology is purposefully vague, but Zephyr is also the name of a real-life tiny town just to the west of the fictional campus. The land used to be a plantation, which is factual for the history of the area and the problematic nature of many college campuses—stolen land cultivated by slave labor. The fact that Kim’s mother is a landscaper is potent, as native plants begin to take root on campuses that rely on green grass to court football donors and golfers. This background information seeps in through Kim’s work-study job as a campus tour guide.

Conflict happens on boundary lines, and Zephyr has them all: country lanes, cemeteries, a small cliff, a river, a highway, and the gentle slope down into town. The town-gown divide is a rich seam, and Kim mines both sides of this (as do a few other characters, we will learn). The story also has literal cinema: a fictional movie was filmed in the fictional town in the 90s. Every college town has a similar claim to fame, and the Zephyr film contains echoes of all the familiar movies.

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