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Introduction to Pre-event Assignments 

Algonkian Conferences 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 and 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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  1. Storyline:

Maggie must face her grief to help save what’s left of the Sweeney family.

  1. Antagonist:

Maggie’s alcoholic oldest sibling, Danny, who passed away the year before. 

Danny haunts Maggie, and her siblings, who can barely tolerate one another. In their 30’s, both their parents also gone, the siblings all have separate lives, away from painful memories, with Maggie, a married mother of two. When their aunt’s will requires them to spend a month together in her once loved beach house, Maggie’s filled with dread, because that was where Danny died, and she’d rather avoid even the thought of him. Deep down, Maggie blames Danny for their mother’s death, something she’s never admitted.

Yet from the start of their stay, Danny’s inescapable, in physical items they try desperately to avoid, memories they can’t forget, simmering anger they struggle to control. He represents everyone the family’s lost, the sadness and the longing, the bottled up resentments and regrets, the unspoken betrayals. He’s always present, showing them what to keep, discard and remember. Finally, Danny forces Maggie and her siblings to face their loss, the part they played in giving up on each other, so that in the end, they recapture what they meant to one another, long ago, and try to be a family once again. 

  1. Title:

What’s Left of Us

  1. Genre/Comps:

Commercial Fiction

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Malibu Rising, Taylor Jenkins Reid

We are the Brennans, Tracey Lange

5. Hookline/logline

An uptight, married, mother of two, haunted by death and estranged from her siblings, faces her grief and inspires a true reconciliation during a month of forced togetherness in a once-loved home by the sea.

  1. Inner conflict

Maggie’s inner turmoil, already significant, is heightened because she is also keeping a secret from her siblings. Her Aunt Kate's will includes a private addendum that tells Maggie if her siblings do not decide to keep the beach house at the end of their month together, Maggie will inherit it by herself.  And she isn’t allowed to acknowledge that fact until the decision is made. At the start of the story, Maggie has no desire to step foot in the house and no intention to keep it, so the secret addendum is like a little gnat, momentarily uncomfortable, but easily dismissed. As the story progresses, she is surprised to find the idea more alluring, and the stakes of her silence are raised. Over time, the secret forces her to consider what she values most – a house she has grown to love again or the siblings she has given up on. 

A secondary, related conflict for Maggie is her sibling relationships. Maggie has always been dominated by her older siblings, Bridget and Patrick, who are tough, direct and capable of being bullies. She’s insecure about “just being a mother,” and has never learned to stick up for herself in the sibling dynamic. Her relationship is particularly complicated with Caroline, her younger sister, going back to childhood. Caroline had major issues growing up, and those crises impacted Maggie. In the eyes of a teenager, everything revolved around Caroline, to the exclusion of Maggie, and those resentments and old roles remain. Maggie has never been able to see Caroline beyond that screwed up kid who wrecked Maggie’s (and her own) teenage years, and even now, she watches her movements with suspicion and concern. She fails to see that Caroline has grown into a wise, interesting and healthy woman. It isn’t until major confrontations and revelations that Maggie is finally able to bury the past and see her sister as she really is.


  1. Setting

The story is set on Beach 127th street in Rockaway Beach, Queens, a wobbly finger of a peninsula jutting off Long Island between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic. It’s a remote place. To get there you have to travel highways and neighborhoods, pass by sanctuaries and waterways, and finally, there’s the first glimpse of it over the expanse of the last bridge and somehow, regardless of how long the journey took, you have an immediate feeling it was worth it. Endless summer days, soft sand under foot, expansive, clean beaches, meditative, powerful surf, neighbors friendly in a New York kind of way, the smell of barbeques the only signal it’s time to leave the beach. A working class paradise.  

Aunt Kate’s house is a ramshackle cottage three doors from the beach.  It’s a house proud street otherwise, tidy and pretty, with flowerpots and American and Irish flags, tiny postage stamps of grass glistening from sprinklers, the sounds of basketballs and bikes, the near constant scratch of carts lugging beach paraphernalia up and down the block like camels crossing the desert. It’s 2016, a few years after Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the area, so there’s clear signs of renovation, with distant echoes of hammers and back-hos and everywhere, evidence of re-birth.

Except for, at first glance, Aunt Kate’s cottage. The small A frame appears neglected and abandoned, with no sign of life when Maggie first arrives. Sand obscures the windows, the siding sags, the wrought-iron fence surrounding the tiny front porch is chipped, even the Claddagh knocker on the front door is hanging off its hinge. The spit of grass in the back and front is brown and dead, the back porch splintered and falling apart, the outdoor table covered in cobwebs. It is as if everything transforms from vibrant color to a suffocating black and white the second you step onto the property. 

Inside is a time capsule, sprinkled with modernity.  The kitchen was redone following the Hurricane, and the basement, where the five Sweeney kids slept in single beds akin to their very own summer camp, has been obliterated into a cement storage room, like basements everywhere. The rest of the house is filled with history, some poignant – their Nanna’s things, Aunt Kate’s personal items, Maggie and her siblings’ creations – others devastating, even paralyzing – the couch in the living room, where Danny died, the room itself, dark, covered in a light sheen of sand, and upstairs on Aunt Kate’s floor, an array of Danny’s art. 

The beach itself, like going back in time for Maggie, who sees herself in pockets of families playing at the shore, siblings diving into the surf to catch thrown footballs, mothers and daughters holding hands on long walks towards Brooklyn in the fading dusk light. The beauty of the place is breathtaking in its simplicity and power. Its impact on Maggie both uplifting and painful. It was here, on this beach as children, that Maggie and her siblings were a true family.

As the story progresses, the house is slowly transformed by Maggie and her siblings. The outside is cleaned, beautified and in some cases, redone, the inside packed up, stripped bare, and then slowly put back together, incorporating both old and new.  








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Niamh must escape the Blaidd and journey to the kingdom of Eithearius to find her sister and reclaim her home.


The Blaidd are dark spawn of a devil by the name of Aoshmer. Starting in chapter three, the Blaidd rampage Niamh's village to take those with great power prisoner with the objective of weeding out the weak for the purposes of creating half breeds powerful enough to fell the Northern kingdom of Eithearius.
The Blaidd are a warrior race and are very brutal in their attempt to seek out the strong. The slightest inconvenience sends them into a rage. Many of them suffer from bloodlust which forces them to remain in their beast form as half of their former self for the rest of their days, thus the curse of harboring the blood of a devil.


Of Gods and Myth
The Stain of Night
A Lasting Darkness


The King of Battle and Blood, by Scarlet St. Clair
This novel explores themes of skewed perceptions and reincarnation similar to my work in progress.

Not entirely sure about the second comp yet.


After a slew of beasts rampage her village, Niamh is separated from her sister and must find a way to escape Eadochas Dun, a fortress built into the mountainside, with the help of an unlikely ally.


Inner conflict:
Niamh’s inner conflict is fueled by her need to survive the Blaidd's cruelty to make it out alive and find her sister, Rory. Their parents were murdered on the road to Éithearius a decade prior when Rory was only two and Niamh fifteen. The dual role of parenthood was forced upon Niamh at a young age, and she knows little else aside from raising Rory. Niamh knows that since all who they knew before are likely dead or imprisoned, she is all Rory has left in the world. In the same vein, Niamh is unable to stand back and watch as her fellow inmates are slaughtered before her for the slightest mistakes. She is unable to quiet the inner voice telling her to stand up and fight back. This leads to Niamh landing herself in precarious situations that had she not had an unknown ally, would've landed her in the belly of a Blaidd.

Secondary conflict:
After their escape, Niamh struggles to trust Loch since he masqueraded as the warden during her time in E
adochas Dun. This distrust is worsened when she discovers he has blood bonded them. This creates internal as well as external strife between the two characters as she struggles to sort out his true intentions. His role in the prison mixed with his position in King Cian's court leads her to doubt whether the king will be a willing ally in the fight that is sure to come against the Blaidd.

Much of the story takes place in the Unclaimed Lands, the realm located between the Clan Territories and Eithearius. The Unclaimed Lands serves as a refuge for many fleeing clan law and tradition; therefore, a myriad of differing cultures and tradition seep into the everyday lives of those born and bred upon the land. The final major settings being in Eithearius, the northern kingdom.
1: The story begins in Niamh's childhood home built by her father in the village of Garran, which is bathed in the vibrancy of autumn. It is made of stacked stone, a thatched roof, and an oaken door carved with the relief of a willow. It is merely big enough for two, fitting Niamh and her sister Rory perfectly, even if it does feel a tad tight at times.
In the second chapter Niamh goes into the main village nestled in a grove wherein the Sacred Lur tree is poised at its center. The leaves of this tree hold the remnants of an iridescent gleam. It's thick roots jut in and out of the ground, spreading throughout the village and causing moderate structural issues to the half-timbered homes encircling the edges of the settlement. The main village is bordered with a tall gate as well as several wards to deflect the Creatures of the Night.

In the next segment, the story takes place in an ancient prison at the base of the mountain built under the scrutinizing eye of Chief Sean five centuries prior, Eadochas Dun (ae-doh-hus dun). It is painstakingly precise. In the cells that are no more than an arm span wide, the prisoners are kept in complete darkness. However, curiously, one wall of their cell is made up of bars leading to a chamber masked in shadow, and Niamh cannot make out what is beyond.
Below the fortress itself are tunnels less carefully hewn, the walls are sharp and jagged from the bludgeon of pickaxes. These tunnels branch endlessly, though if one pays attention, one might feel a draft coming from a few of them. There are many excavated rooms with barrels, heavy sacks, and lanterns. These are the rooms the prisoners are forced to mine yet they never harvest anything.

After her escape, Niamh and Loch travel through the foothills, straying from common paths in the hopes the Blaidd will lose their scent. In this segment, it takes place in various nature-based settings such as streams to give the horse rest, caves they find shelter in, and narrow paths winding through the pass.

The fourth part of the story takes place inside the mountain in a settlement comprised of ex-clan. Here there are budding crystals clinging to the ceiling which emit an amber glow comparable to the sun and are warm to the touch. A waterfall cascades from the cliffs above and it's waters flow through the forested settlement, yet where it leads no one knows.

The fifth major setting is in the northern kingdom of Eithearius, a land rich and green and abounding with life despite the clutch of winter. It is a peninsula with sprawling hills and lush forests. The capitol, Caislean, is perched upon the cliffs overlooking the churning waves of the Dorcheen ocean. The city itself was built around the garden sprung by the goddess of life centuries prior.


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Assignment 1, v 1. Storyline

  • Cat, the fixer, and her brother Dart, the driver, must put the pieces together of an imminent threat to Washington DC, then figure out how to mitigate the threat.

Assignment 2, version 4. Antagonist

  • Don had a dark childhood that left deep scars in his psyche. Yet Don had a unique analytical mind, especially regarding computers. In his first career with the CIA, Don was never rewarded for his significant contributions to U. S. national security. He retired from the CIA after 20 plus years with hard feelings but without incident, and keeping his thoughts bottled up. His deplorable past and repressed workplace bitterness, morphed into silent rage over the course of a second career he took as Director of the nuclear Trucking Command at the Office of Secure Transportation. Don’s abominable plan for atomic revenge matured when he found a way to obliterate the records of some nukes by hacking Cat’s new nuclear warhead accountability database. Simultaneously, Don recruits the first all-female convoy of truckers (including Dart’s girlfriend) which, overtly appears to be a mission to unveil special new blast-proof 18-wheelers to the sponsors in Washington, DC, although the unsuspecting professional women Federal Agent drivers are not privy to Don’s furtive and ultimate plan of reprisal.

Assignment 3, v 2. Title

  • Chariots of Armageddon
  • Highways of Devastation

Assignment 4, v 1. Comps

  • This is an attempt at being respectfully analogous to Michael Crichton’s techno-thriller genre (although mine is physics- and engineering-themed, whereas Crichton’s novels have a largely biological theme). The writing style aligns nicely with novels by Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath series especially regarding military weaponry and technical gadgetry, Mark Greaney’s Grey Man series, and Nelson deMille’s John Corey with respect to weapons of mass destruction (although Corey narrates first-person and mine does not).

Assignment 5, v 2. Hook Line

  • A depraved and reticent computer expert has slowly and methodically exploited a weak link in the highly secure chain that protects the United States 4,000 nuclear weapons, and it’s fallen to a professional PhD engineer and her long-haul trucker brother to prevent nuclear Armageddon.

Assignment 6, v 1. Protagonist's primary and secondary conflicts

  • Primary. Cat competently and confidently manages her career at the defense contractor facility where she works. Cat’s normal job is routine and safe because of her professionalism and patriotism. Cat is also very happy and secure in her life outside work with two horses in the barn, a good secondary rodeo rider hobby that pays well enough, and a great husband who does more than his fair share around the house, the barbecue grill, and the ranch. But when Cat discovers that two nuclear explosives appear to be missing where she works, and that this occurred on her watch, that steady-state life is turned completely upside down. She is alternately disbelieving, angry, and distressed. Yet because she was always a git-‘er-done kind of gal, this nightmare does not distract her from trying to get to the truth. Her managers largely ignore her calls for action, and actually impede her investigation because they do not see the urgency in the situation. Management’s lackadaisical attitude compounds Cat’s confusion and surprise, and initiates some uncharacteristic actions on her part. Cat desperately turns to her brother for help and the two of them go rogue to try to mitigate the situation. Cat is almost killed in defensive interactions, but she discovers a newfound resolve that allows her to think through a novel, but dangerous idea to disable the explosives. The sister’s and brother’s actions in the climax are completely complementary, and the little team shows that the combined makeup of each individual is immensely greater than the sum of the respective parts, just like when they were kids growing up.

  • Secondary. Jo is a young and sexy truck driver on Dart’s team who wants to deepen her personal relationship with Dart. The feelings are mutual. Before the affections ripen, Jo is recruited as commander of the first all-female convoy of truckers unveiling new equipment to their sponsors in Washington, DC. While Jo is seduced by the glamor of such an historic convoy command mission, she is completely unaware of the underlying mission to destroy Washington, DC with explosives she will unknowingly transport. Dart tries to warn the convoy and stop it from getting to its target. Up against high tech 18-wheelers and Jo’s professional command of them, Dart is almost killed. As the convoy moves along, Jo is deeply distressed since she finally realizes who is trying to stop her. But duty to the mission prevails, and she leaves Dart stranded. Dart eventually catches up with Jo, but before she is able to fully bear her soul, he interrupts and lays out the dire situation. Jo snaps back into command mode at the climax, and gets briefed on how to disable the second of the two bombs. Jo suppresses her feelings and instantly makes her decision. She abandons Dart in a fit of desperation, and runs off to disable the other nuke.

Assignment 7, v 2. Detailed scene-by-scene setting

  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, SCIFs and office spaces where nuclear weapons engineering and classified computing takes place.
  • Managers workplace at the Office of Secure Transportation (Albuquerque, NM) where nuclear weapons engineering, classified computing, and sometimes unauthorized bitcoin mining is taking place.
  • Management office space at the Central Intelligence Agency (Langley, VA) where counterintelligence and counter terrorism analysis takes place.
  • Hotel room (Oak Ridge, TN) on the morning of an important presentation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN) SCIF conference room where an important computer database demonstration and presentation takes place.
  • Cattle ranch, house, and stables outside of Amarillo, TX, that is the home for a family and their horses.
  • Rodeo arenas in Amarillo, TX, and Waco, TX.
  • Various living quarters for Federal Agent Nuclear Material Couriers in several towns, as well as gym facilities for Federal Agent Nuclear Material Couriers at the Pantex Plant nuclear weapon factory in Amarillo TX.
  • Various living quarters and gym facilities for Federal Agent Nuclear Material Couriers in Amarillo TX, apartments of
  • Cattle ranch, house, and stables outside of Waco, TX that is the home for two young siblings and their horses.
  • Denim & Diamonds country western bar and dance hall in Amarillo, TX where Federal Agent Nuclear Material Couriers come after work for a good time.
  • The Big Texan steakhouse in Amarillo, TX, home of the 72 oz steak (if you eat the complete 72 oz steak meal in under 1 hour you get your name inscribed in the record book).
  • Blue Sky hamburger restaurant in Amarillo, TX.
  • Pantex Plant, Amarillo, TX, nuclear weapon factory highlighting layers of security from the main entry road and ending in a massively over-designed blast-proof workshop, where a team is starting to refurbish two nuclear weapons, and how you go through many layers of security to get there.
  • Independence Avenue, SE and South Capitol Street, SE on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, before and after the bomb blast.
  • Specialized over-designed blast-proof 18-wheeler big rig trucks and support SUVs, driving the highways and byways of the U. S. where some incidents and chase scenes, take place.
  • A pristine 1975 Ford F-100 Pickup truck driving the highways and byways of the U. S. where some chase scenes, incidents, and accidents take place.


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1.       THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT-- develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist? The goal? What must be done?

Vinyl records are making a comeback. But they have never left the author of The Sunday Vinyl Project, as her collection has grown from the very first acquired at an early age and new ones added every year. After surviving a stroke, the author embarked on a journey to reignite the memories of her past as a shield against the possibility of future dementia, revisiting and reflecting on her vinyl album collection. From early childhood through high school graduation, The Sunday Vinyl Project is a journey of sound & memory as it transports us to an earlier time in the U.S. and strums our heart and souls for an era gone by.

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

Tooter, the father, a man who was sentenced to prison time for stealing food for his family is one of several antagonists. He is an abusive alcoholic who shows growth and change from raising his daughter from birth to high school graduation. His protective nature, however, can at times be violent.

Socio-economic challenges lay the groundwork for hardships in survival. From the Needy Family Program through Food Stamps and working in the agricultural fields for income, poverty and class distinctions/separations follow the protagonist throughout the stories presented.

Having suffered a stroke, the possibility of developing dementia is the driving antagonist behind selecting and listening to vinyls to evoke memories of the past.

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

The Sunday Vinyl Project

The Echo Project

The Vinyl Echo Project

4.     Fourth Assignment— Develop two smart comparables for your novel.

Trying to find more contemporary comparables...

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck -- This memoir covers the travels of John Steinbeck with his dog, Charley, across America. Their travels together paint the era of events happening at that time in history against the country they set out to explore together.

This book is comparable to The Sunday Vinyl Project, as each chapter drops the needle on a different vinyl, weaving music through the events of the era and the cornerstones of the author’s life. Pink Floyd, Cass Elliot, Johnny Cash, Stephen Sondheim, Jefferson Airplane, and Benny Goodman are just a few of the artists tapped and explored from a diverse collection of vinyl. Each transformed her sense of growing up and being alive from the 1960s through the mid-1970s.

Power of One – Bryce CourtenayThis is a story of young boy born in South Africa, a country divided by racism and hatred. He eventually comes to lead all the tribes of Africa. The story weaves through his young life, friendships, and the strengths he needs to acquire on his journey to battle conflicts encountered along the way.

Comparably, The Sunday Vinyl Project is a story of a young girl experiencing poverty and working in the agricultural fields as a youth to growing up and heading off to college. The Sunday Vinyl Project displays a foundation of resilience and bears witness to a life altered in trajectory by the sounds of the time.

5.   Write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound following the format above. 

Driven by fears of impending dementia and told through the eyes of a young girl growing up from the 1960s through mid-1970s in the United States, The Sunday Vinyl Project is a journey of sound & memory as it transports us to an earlier time in the U.S. and strums our heart and souls for an era gone by.

6.     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.

The protagonist is the 66 year-old survivor of a stroke with impending dementia potential in her future. The anxiousness of documenting her early childhood is carried across all chapters/scenarios and demonstrates resilience across time with each story told.

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

Secondary conflicts include family, friends, classmates, poverty, and her education during her high school years. Alcohol and drug abuse coupled with harsh physical and mental punishment shape the overall trajectory of the protagonist as she resists and rebels against the negative potential outcomes for her own future.

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

The setting for The Sunday Vinyl Project spans four settings in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

Silverton, Oregon, a small, sleepy rural town found in the Willamette Valley. Inhabited primarily by white Christians, the intersection of poverty and education along with economic opportunities in agriculture becomes the recurring foundation of a young life growing up in Mill Town, the region of Silverton that lies literally ‘across the railroad tracks’ where the milling of lumber from the forests just outside of Silverton used to occur.

Sedona, Arizona, the scenic movie location for the Elvis Presley movie, Stay Away Joe. The author’s grandparents lived in Sedona and the author describes her many travels to this location, especially during the filming of an Elvis movie.

Las Vegas, Nevada, where a broader awareness of racism and cultural differences help the author to grow and deepen her understanding of the perspectives of others on race and behavior.

Oklahoma. Parents and relatives galore take the author to Oklahoma on several journeys and this becomes the backdrop of teenage sexual awakening and resilience in protecting her future. 

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FIRST ASSIGNMENT: story statement

Even if she must defy the Moon Goddess, Acalia will make every personal sacrifice to stop the soul thieves to redeem herself and save all those she loves back home on Etherluna and here on Gaia.

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: sketch the antagonist

Kernt’s discontent had been building up for centuries as he watched members of other clans bathed in the blessings from the Goddess. The edginess slowly turned to anger as unsettled whispers from other members of his clan lent justification to his thoughts of unfairness. The loud complaints of rejection after rejection from one he swore to protect emphasized a need to force a change in their situation. He was primed to become a cult follower when approached to take destructive action to raise himself up to the level and power he felt he was entitled too. He was quick to latch onto the demented moon witch who’s own twisted logic played into his skewed reasoning validating his decisions to destroy anyone in his way.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title 3 options

Soul Matched

Soul Thieves


FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: compare your novel

My story is comparable to Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson series and Ann Bishops’ Others books because I offer a strong, ongoing series with beloved characters that readers cling to during the wild misadventure and triumphs over one adversary after another with a twist that gives fresh eyes to the genre. Like the world of Mercy Thompson’s, my story has relatable, endearing characters that have their own problems that keep the reader rooting for their success and in tears over their losses. My side characters’ lives are complex with their own juicy problems that make the reader want to be their best friend to help battle along side or drink a big glass of wine to commiserate with them. Ann Bishops’ Others’ series reinvented the fantasy genre with the voice of the wild, magical creatures saving the world while the humans are trying to prove they aren't the plague that needs destroy. My story’s twist gives a voice to the dark, dangerous, creatures from inside the magical soul matches that creates werewolves and revels the world behind the wolf side as no other book has. Invested fans are on the edge of their desire for the next book to be released in Briggs and Bishops' series, I know because I’m one, and my series will have the readers hoping the story never ends and craving more.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own hook line

Tormented from being tricked into destroying and replacing Bellanna as the wolf side of the soul matched werewolf pair drives Acalia to use her Goddess forbidden knowledge from Etherluna to stop the disillusioned Etherwolf, Kernt, and his demented witch from destroying all that she holds dear.

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict for protagonist

Acalia narrowly escapes her own destruction by accidentally participating in the elimination of another innocent Etherwolf. She has always felt compelled to help and stand up for others. Now she finds herself the source of inconsolable pain. She can’t even sacrifice herself to undo the damage and death she was a party of. During each step she takes to stop and punish the ones responsible she is faced with another individual that feels the loss and emptiness her action helped to create. Her guilt compels her to protect those that she she has caused irreparable harm.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict"

Treont was blessed in not only finding his soul match, but also a soul mate. The long lived life of a werewolf can become lonesome and tiresome. He was fortunate the lander he merged with saw the beauty in Bellana’s lander as he knew she was his as soon as his eyes locked onto hers. His gazed poured down past the lander’s mundane brown irises and connected with the amber flame of Bellana’s soul. Their passion endured for centuries until his soul was torn apart by her abrupt loss when Acalia replaced her in the body of the lander he knew as his.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail

Etherluna –

Acalia felt sorry for those in the lander dimension who can’t see past their non-magical noses even when they have finally found a way to set their undeserving feet on the Mother Goddess’ bosom. Their realistic filtered senses could only fathom a cold, hard lifeless, stagnant gray ball surrounded by engulfing, smothering blackness. Their eyes cannot see into Acalia’s home of the Moon Goddess given dimension called Etherluna. They are denied sight of what brakes up the continuous mundane terrain as Etherluna is filled with shooting white sparkles Her pent up magic randomly explodes across the tundra or gently glitters among the minerals coating Her heavenly body. Their environmental muting suits blocks them from seeing and feeling the magic and warmth that lays across the upper atmosphere in colorful ribbons of streaming mixes of greens, reds, and blue photons that ride across the solar winds creating a veil between them and the vast heavens. Through the visor of their helmets they can see carved out, dry, river beds that were formed during Her youth when magma poured from insides out and across Her flesh weaving among the deep impact craters with wrinkled ridges and mountain ranges that had exploded during Her bloom. Only those in the Ether world can see and transverse the rivers of white vapor, nebula energy pouring down the carved channels. The landers are rejected by the Goddess as foreign invaders from discovering the underground basalt formed shoots and tunnels to her children's dens. They believe She is a solid, hard, compact, barren orb, they view in the night sky of their Earth bound home, but they still feel compelled to meet her in the heavens where she is still out of their true reach.


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Assignment #1: Write your story statement.

Cora tries to disprove her sister’s belief in a mysterious ancestral story. 

Assignment #2: In 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the way they react to the world about them.

Cora’s cynicism is a sharp contrast to her younger sister, Sadie, whose bubbly personality delights their dreamy mom but constantly irritates Cora. Whereas Cora prefers to accept the harsh realities of life, Sadie believes there is still magic in the world.

While overseas, the sisters stumble upon an heirloom with hidden letters inside, so they decide to unite to try to find out more about the stories revealed in the letters. Cora is determined to show that they simply stem from their ancestor’s imagination, but Sadie is convinced the fantastical stories are true. Neither sister could know the adventure that would unfold when they set out to prove the other one wrong.

Sadie’s fearlessness frustrates Cora who is eager to look her best in front of the charming local translator assisting them. So, refusing to be outdone by Sadie, Cora pushes her cautiousness aside to venture into the unknown. When the opportunity finally presents itself to be alone with their handsome helper, Cora eagerly takes it. She has no idea the danger this will cause her sister until it is almost too late. Cora must force herself to face her fears to save the sister she refuses to lose.

Assignment #3: Create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three)

Sea Song

When Land and Sea Collide

Moon Tears

Assignment #4: Develop two smart comparables for your novel. Who compares to you? And why?

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy (Magical Realism)

Comparables: Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah -- Like my story, there is a modern character who has  been through recent hardships who encounters a mystical character whose presence helps her deal with past wounds.

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Ann Noble--Similar to my story, this story deals with a sisterly relationship, a magical mermaid element, and lots of adventure and danger along the way.

Assignment #5: Write your own hook line (logline) with conflict and core wound.

Cora blames herself for her friend’s unexpected death but is guided by her presence when a dangerous overseas adventure mirrors a childhood game they used to play.

Assignment #6: Sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one scenario in the story wherein this would be the case.

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

Cora’s inner conflict is the result of going through two difficult circumstances in the past year. Shortly after her father left her mother for another woman, her best friend, Molly, tragically died of an accidental overdose after her first time ever trying a drug. Cora blames herself for her friend’s death because she was the one who had convinced her to go to the high school party and then left her there when they got into a fight. Rather than dealing with the guilt, she has buried herself in her phone and social media. She has lost much of her joy for life in the process of adjusting to being without her constant companion while at the same time dealing with the increasing absence of her father. She carries around a lot of unresolved hurt which sometimes results in an anxious inability to act while at other times it is disguised as reckless rebellion.

Cora’s defiant attitude is seen in her decision to break her mom’s rules by leaving the hotel while her mom is visiting other towns gathering information for her travel writer job. She is undeterred by Sadie’s threats to tell their mom and remains determined to do what she wants. However, Cora’s immobilizing fear is seen throughout the story, especially when the people she cares about are in dangerous situations. When Sadie ends up in the ocean and is struggling to stay above the water, Cora is so terrified that she can hardly move. It takes a childhood memory of Molly to trigger her into action to come to the rescue of her sister.

Final Assignment #7: 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?

In the first chapter, Isabella and her two daughters are sitting in the back of a taxi that is speeding down a traffic-filled interstate to the international airport in Orlando, Florida. They are about to leave their hometown to travel overseas to Sicily for the summer and Cora does not want to go.

When they arrive at their destination, they are stunned to behold the breathtaking view from the top of the medieval town that is staggered precariously up the mountain. The quaint seaside village boasts panoramic views of the Ionian Sea, the Strait of Messina, the Bay of Giardini Naxos, and Mount Etna in the distance. Though, perhaps the most exhilarating sight, is the mysterious crumbling castle that stands guard on the cliff above the town.

The charming historical hotel they will call home for the summer is a small but cozy space, with a tiny wrought-iron balcony overlooking the sea and the castle. The floor to ceiling windows opens onto the balcony bringing in the saltwater breeze mingled with the scent of the colorful flowers around the piazza. It also lets in the sound of the seagulls above and the chatter of the locals below.  

On the first day of exploration, Isabella, Cora, and Sadie wander past the wishing fountain in the center of the village. Then, they stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets passing underneath drying clothes strewn between colorful buildings and eventually into an antique shop with a mermaid sculpture in the window. They are fascinated by the historical items inside the overcrowded shop. Especially of interest are the stories the elderly storeowner tells them about some of the items retrieved from the castle. She recognizes Cora’s startlingly similar features to a portrait among her collection. They soon come to realize the painting of the sea captain’s daughter who used to reside in the castle is an ancestor Isabella once heard stories about as a child.

The next day, they explore the dilapidated castle and discover an intricately detailed mural painted on the walls of the tower room. The pictures seem to be illustrating a story, but they are unsure of its meaning. They stroll over colorful mosaics into the open aired courtyard where a fountain bubbles with fresh water rising from deep inside the mountain. Beautiful white flowers bloom beside the fountain and possess an enchanting quality they cannot explain.

Later, the sisters discover hidden letters inside the portrait’s frame which reveals an ancestral story seemingly too magical to be real. Determined to find out more, they explore further around the castle and then along the river streaming from the courtyard fountain. This eventually takes them over the cliff beside the waterfall, through a narrow rock tunnel, and into a remote sea cave where they stumble upon an heirloom washed inside by the tide.

These locations continue throughout the story with the variety that comes with the time of day. During the midday siesta, the sleepy village grows quiet in the afternoon heat when shops close, only to liven up again for the nighttime festivities when the locals come out to socialize. The castle’s mysteriousness grows in the night when the moon casts its glow on the white flowers by the fountain which the villagers have nicknamed lacrime di luna (Moon Tears) due to the way they reflect the moon’s light.

One day, the girls join their mother on her work by sightseeing in the larger historical town further down the mountain as she takes notes and photos. While visiting there, they stop in a toy shop full of wooden puppets, churches full of relics and detailed architecture, ruins of an amphitheater, museums with ancient artifacts, and a cozy café full of delicious aromas and stunning ocean views.

The final chapter brings them full circle to where the story began as they ride down the interstate in the back of a taxi on the return trip from the airport. The setting Florida sun illuminates the way towards the familiarity of home and a new hope.     


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#1. Story Statement

- The mission of the protagonist (myself) is to ameliorate his life by his own volition: financial success through Cryptocurrency. Thereby proving to himself and those around him that the horrible circumstances that has dictated his existential dread do not define his essence, and that trauma can be spun into gold.

#2. Antagonist

- The antagonist of my novel, like the protagonist, is a real person. He is a famous individual in the Cryptocurrency sphere that has spearheaded several start-ups and anonymous projects in the industry. He created one of the first bitcoin mining machines that ever existed, held a board role at a Jeffrey Epstein shell company, and his father runs one of the largest sex cults in the world. He is a nefarious conspirator that I befriended on a personal level after becoming the largest and most well-known investor in his most notable cryptocurrency company. The closer I became to him and his cohort of con artists, the more I was forced to deduce that Cryptocurrency in its entirety is a perpetual Ponzi scheme that most serves Machiavellian types and the morally depraved.

#3. Breakout Title

- Shitcoin Secrets (concept cover included)
- Non-Fungible Trauma
- Crypto: How to Create Generational Wealth and Lose Everything Else

#4. Comparable Works

- Hunter S. Thompson, “Hell’s Angel’s: A Strange and Terrible Saga”:

Thompson’s first novel told the story of his years enmeshed in a famous biker gang. My gonzo journalism effort tells the story of my time integrating with and documenting the maleficent activities of a gang of cryptocurrency scammers. I find this to be a fair comparison despite his worldwide acclaim.

- Nic Sheff, “Tweak: Growing up on Methamphetamines”:

The mental turmoil that I’ve been running from is highly comparable to Tweak and is thematic throughout the novel.

#5. Logline

- A traumatized man gambles his future on Cryptocurrency, and in doing so becomes an integral part of a world he was never supposed to know existed.

#6. Inner Conflict / Secondary Conflict

- Inner conflict has been ubiquitous in my life. After losing everything I held near and dear to trauma and abuse, nihilism took the reigns, and so I devoted myself fully to acquiring wealth through Cryptocurrency. High stakes gambling with nothing to fall back on created a state of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and drama that has altered my cognition until the day I die. As the novel progresses, the inner conflict evolves into an ethical dilemma: is it worth sacrificing my morality and principles, and taking advantage of others with the same dreams, for the purpose of self-enrichment?

- The secondary conflict of my novel is the fervent romance subplot with a very mentally unwell woman. Having spent much of my existence in psychiatric facilities against my will, it was only natural that the love of my life be afflicted with dissociative identity disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. Her constant mental breakdowns, suicide attempts, and her attempt at taking my life further fueled my inner conflict while permanently desiccating any sense of normality I had left.

#7. Setting

- The main setting takes place in Illinois. I lived in an attic in a boarding house in complete isolation for the purpose of minimizing all overhead expenses, so that nearly every dollar I managed could be a further hedge towards my Crypto gambling. The romance subplot explores nearly every noteworthy location in the state, as desperate distraction was the only thing providing a semblance of stability in our relationship.

- Large portions of the book depict my interactions with individuals on the chat application Telegram, where nearly all Cryptocurrency communities convene and trade information, or “alpha”, for the purposes of “wealth creation” (gambling). Telegram is truly a wonderous piece of software that I liken to the campfire of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. People from every walk of life imaginable congregate under anonymous aliases, and yet often show their truest personalities. They feel compelled to tell their stories and connect with others in a way that’s often a rarity in surface reality. The façade many people purport in their daily lives is not necessary in a virtual environment. What ensues is a sense of community with the most unique and captivating people found almost nowhere else.

- The culmination of the novel ends with a cross country road trip to New York City, for 2022’s NFT NYC event. It is here that I meet the antagonist in person for the first time, as well as my closest telegram confidant, who turns out to be a head of business development for Coinbase. Looking over the city in pure awe from his penthouse apartment, and the contrast of having come from a dingy boarding house attic, sets the scene for the novel’s sequel

shitcoin secrets nft FINAL.png

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1)      Story Statement

Escape the evil politician who wants to control her or kill her and in the process create a life with meaning in spite of an out of control telepathic disability that does not allow for any privacy of thought

2)      Antagonist

Zachary Winthrop’s title is Central Committee Secretary. The Central Committee is the Earth’s global ruling body and is structured and operates similarly to the Soviet Politboro. Officially Winthrop’s responsibility is to handle the administrative tasks of the Central Committee but through blackmail, extortion, and underhanded use of drugs has leveraged his position into being a major power broker. He is the founder of the Mother Earth First (MEF) political party whose goal is to keep Earth as the dominant force throughout the galaxy and to keep all colonized planets subservient to Earth’s needs. Shaanti’s aunt is his primary opponent and rival and the only one his equal (if not superior) in various intrigue’s. Winthrop sees Shaanti as an opportunity to gain leverage over her aunt through the use of a new mind control drug. When that fails in its initial attempt he actively pursues capturing her and either achieving his initial intent or having her killed so that she can’t serve her aunt.

3)      Title

No Thought My Own

Everyone’s Thoughts but Mine

Between Dimensions

4)      Comparables

Vatta’s War  & Vatta’s Peace by Elizabeth Moon

Kylara Vatta is the daughter of a prominent family who leaves under family pressure to succeed who rises quickly to prominence.  Her family pressures and personality is similar to my main character

Dorsai by Gordon Dickson

Donald Graeme is from a prominent family from the planet Dorsai who has extraordinary intuit abilities similar to Shaanti with her telepathic abilities

For comps I’m looking primarily for characters dealing with family expectations to excel or stories about someone just beginning a life filled with promise when something happens that disrupts their understanding of who they are or what their destiny is.  A mish-mash of family saga w/

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
Christopher Paolini, 08-10-22

The Dove Chronicles
Karen Bao 05-23-17

5)      Hook Line

Shaanti strives to fulfill her aunt’s expectations for political prominence but is determined to do so independent of her aunt’s influence making her vulnerable to her enemy’s schemes.

Shaanti strives to fulfill her aunt’s expectations for political prominence but is determined to do so independent of her aunt’s influence making her vulnerable to her aunt’s enemy’s schemes. 

6)      Conflict

a.       Inner Conflict

All her life Shaanti believes she must make up for her mother’s death by becoming a person of influence on Earth, someone who can make lift for everyone better. But, after escaping from Winthrop several times, seeing someone close hurt trying to protector, and finally killing someone with her special ability in a gruesome manner she faces the fact that exile is her only viable solution. Gone is any hope of achieving anything on Earth beyond simple survival. With the simplicity of life without ambition she discovers meaning in the relationships of the people around her.

b.       Secondary Conflict

Trapped in another empty dimension, isolated from everything she knew, she realizes she needs help. But who does she turn too, her aunt (her surrogate mother) or her father. Her aunt blames her father for her mother’s death and her father, burdened with guilt, looks to his daughter to help restore his reputation. In either case father and aunt hate each other and for Shaanti going to one for help will be interrupted as betrayal by the other. Ultimately she forces herself to decide by who is best able to help regardless of what the other will feel.

7)      Setting

Earth centuries later.  Unified under one government with nations dissolved. Instead society is broken up into professional and industrial ‘guilds’ with each ruled by a guild-master. For example Security Guild, Science Guild, Mining Guild, and Guild of Fine Arts (GoFA) the primary guilds of the story.  The guild-master’s collectively form the Central Committee, Earth’s government. The guild-master’s select the Central Committee Chairman, and the Central Committee Secretary (Zachary Winthrop).  Guild rivalry is vicious and there have actually been wars between guilds.

As backstory, the previous Central Committee Chairman was a tyrant. His mentor was Winthrop and his mistress was Shaanti’s aunt. Her aunt was a major player in having him overthrown. Winthrop had to use blackmail and extortion to keep from getting arrested and by turning on his mentor was able to secure his position in the new regime.  He hates Shaanti’s aunt for her role in deposing his mentor and almost causing his arrest.

Each guild has its capital, Washington City of the Chesapeake District is Security Guild Capital, London of the Britannica District is the GoFA capital, Shanghai of the Shanghai District.  The global capital is Singapore.  Global transportation is accomplished by Anti-Dimension (A/D) Transports which provides almost instantaneous teleportation across the globe.  Each cities has a transport hub where multiple A/D Transport Chambers are located as well as a central routing for Ride-Shares, the form of commuter train. The A/D is also used for inter-stellar travel reducing light years of travel to weeks or days.  Local travel is by MagVees, which are aerial vehicals which harness the magnetic field for both lift and propulsion. Also Ride-share is the public transportation, trains whose cars couple and de-couple as necessary to deliver passengers to their desired location.  It’s a bumpy ride, but reliable, basically the only means of transport for those who are not guild-citizens.

Society is heavily oriented towards meritocracy. Children are evaluated at birth to determine their potential.  If they score high enough they are groomed to be guild citizens.  Guilds compete viciously to attract the highest scoring prospects to join their guild, attend their academy and become guild citizens for their guild. Upon completion they swear loyalty to their guild and their guild-master.  Guild citizens are also evaluated by their psychological profile and the most advantageous matches in terms of marital success and producing offspring with high potential are strongly encouraged but not coerced.

At acceptance into an academy each guild citizen has an implant to connect them to C-Link, a computer network that provides communication and instantaneous access to all the world’s data so long as they have the necessary clearance. It also access their optic nerves to give the sense of a projected 3D image of who they are communicating with any other data available. Currency is a crypto. C-Link calculates the value of a crypto as the value represented by the minimum of what one person requires each year for housing, food, and clothing.  Crypto’s are indexed to the size of the economy so there is no inflation, or deflation.

Time zones are eliminated and everyone operates on a 26 hour day so the timing of night and day travels across the globe.

Populations are concentrated in cities and the Earth is heavily foliated to regulate carbon emisions.  Citizens who get into trouble either criminally or non-payment of bills are forced to emigrate to populate frontier planets.  Voluntary emigration is becoming increasing popular due to various social and economic restrictions on Earth.

Energy is by fusion from a rare radioactive metal called polonium. A colonized planet called Gwynfa is humanities primary source of polonium. 

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 Assignment #1: Story statement

1.    Telling a real-life story of deception and scandal, Frank exposes rogue elements of a system that underestimated the tenacious character of its accused as he refused to be intimidated by a political machine.

2.     After his malicious arrest and lock up a young charismatic high school principal takes on corruption within the New York education and criminal justice systems.

Assignment #2: Antagonists

Michelle is Frank’s close friend. A beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyed school teacher with a dark history. A seductive femme fatal who uses her perfect body to get her way. When she does not get what she wants she stops at nothing while taking action against what she considers injustice. She masterfully conceals her past from Frank until it’s too late for him to save himself.

Michelle conspires with the Suffolk County Police Department. A political machine more interested in personal gain and ambition than the truth. They feed the media with false statements, turning mundane cases into headline grabbing stories that convict people in the court of public opinion rather than a court of law. Because their case against Frank is baseless, they fear the same media they fed with false statements will turn on them in a new feeding frenzy. Thus, a stalemate is born, suspending Frank’s life in a no-man’s land of deception, lies and publicity hungry officials.

Assignment #3: Title

Standing on Principal: A Devoted Educator’s Fight against a Corrupt System      

Assignment #4: Comparables

1.      Until Proven Innocent; Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case

2.      The Central Park Five

These books compare because they are accounts of wrongful arrests, ensuing media frenzies and hightened public reactions that destroy the lives of young men. However, my story separates itself because it’s a first-hand account, investigated and written in real-time, by the main character. Nothing is lost as far as raw emotion, time, or detail. My story is a current event (trial is scheduled in 2023) and it broadens from local themes to global issues of social and political importance.

Assignment #5: Hook line

Melding the fictional "Fatal Attraction" with the real-life Duke Lacrosse and Penn State scandals, Standing on Principal is a first hand, well-documented account of a rogue system that underestimated the tenacious character of its accused as he refused to be intimidated by a political machine.  It’s a real story and it will scare the hell out of everyone.

Assignment #6:  Inner Conflicts

1.      Frank is a fallen hero. He goes from being publicly labeled a dream team administrator who was being recruited by multiple districts to a man who is left for dead. Because of what is done he cannot even find menial employment and remains unemployed for many years. He loses everything in life while the real criminal remains unscathed and prosperous. He soon contemplates giving up, ending life altogether.

2.      Frank can either continuously lean on his family for support. He knows they would gladly help him. However he is prideful, and, as a man in his upper thirties, he can’t come to grips with the fact that he is living like a child and relying on family for everything in life. He doesn’t want them or the world to know just how bad he is doing. Does he spare them the heartache he is experiencing? He doesn’t want to be a burden. Frank actually contemplates suicide if his life doesn’t change.

Assignment #7: Setting(s)

As a young child Frank walks the beaches of Miami with bookies and hangs out with hustlers in Fort Lauderdale bars. As an adolescent and adult, he spends his free time at racetracks and Atlantic City. His main vacation destination as an adult is Las Vegas.

In living out his Italian immigrant family’s American dream he becomes an educator and quickly advances to become a young, award-winning, high school principal in the Hamptons, Long Island. He’s a young, charismatic leader surrounded by an entourage who party heavily by night in posh clubs, from the Hamptons to Manhattan. By day he is a dedicated, hardworking educator with a goal of simply helping students and saving the failing school from being taken over by the state. His love for education is equaled by his love for beautiful women. These passionate encounters will help lead to his tragic demise.

Riverhead Jail, police precincts, state and federal courthouses, and the backseat of his car become the settings after he loses everything, is left for dead, and fights for his life.

After years of unemployment Frank is given a break. A priest hires him to be a school principal, ironically working with the legal system to give youths at risk a second chance at life. Frank also becomes a radio show host and public speaker at colleges and universities where he raises awareness about injustices in the criminal justice system and seeks change through legislation.

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Story Statement:

Vivica Harrow is driven to keep her brother, Anders, and the young warlock, Shina, safe from the Inquisition, even if it costs her position, privilege, or life.


In her story, Vivica fights against many foes, though none more dangerous than the Inquisition, and its leader, Bartholomew Crow. 
Coming from a minor house of nobility, Crow wants nothing more than to carve his mark into the world and intends to grow his holy army to supplant the king, break the Vorhelt council, and reform the world in his twisted vision of fairness and progress. 
Crow is driven by his relentless ambition, willing to sacrifice ideals, comrades and political leveraging for his goals. Yet, he's not without guile and wicked cunning, forging alliances with enemies of the crown while patiently waiting for his moment to strike before delivering decisive blows to his enemies. 
An accomplished soldier, Crow approaches the world around him as a battle to be won. He's an exceptional tactician and knows that two steps forwards often require one step backwards. However, what makes Bartholomew Crow so vastly dangerous is not his relentlessness, the favour of his god, nor his mysterious and powerful backer, The Shadow Giant; Bartholomew Crow is threatening because he wholeheartedly believes that it's better to break an enemy than it is to beat them, and he's more than capable of enjoying such cruelty.

Title Options: 


The Vorhelt.

Vorhelt Tales - Poison, Warlocks & Death

Comp Titles: 

Harrow is a sprawling Fantasy with significant Young Adult appeal. 
Fans of how Rebecca Ross weaves intimate and familial relationships into the heart of her YA Fantasy stories will find new and enjoyable heroes to cheer for in Vivica Harrow and her allies. While those who enjoy grounded fantasy realism, mature themes, and intrigue like that appearing in Joe Abercrombie's A Little Hatred will find a vast and comprehensive world to get lost in.


After encountering a young girl with the power to control death itself, monster slayer, detective, and people's hero, Vivica Harrow is forced to abandon everything she's ever worked for and her position in the Vorhelt guild to keep the girl safe from the Inquisition that wants her dead.

Inner Conflict:

Through her journey, Vivica is forced to confront what it means to be a member of the Vorhelt, whether she's actually helping others, and if that's something she truly wants. A life of heroism and privilege never appealed to Vivica; however, her mother wouldn't allow anything less for her children and often employed cruel methods to train and prepare Vivica and her siblings. Eventually, Vivica left home to discover what kind of person she wanted to be, only to be brought back when her sister, Nora, asked for help to pass the Vorhelt trials. Despite being plagued by a degenerative illness, Nora was selfless and brilliant. And although acceptance into the Vorhelt ranks would have given her the technology to cure what ailed her, she only ever wanted to help others. So, when Nora died during the trial, Vivica accepted the position her sister coveted and has been reluctant in her duties ever since. 
So, when Vivica's younger brother is kidnapped by raiders from the West, she has no compunctions about ingesting a potentially fatal dose of performance-enhancing poison to keep from losing another sibling. Yet, Vivica survives, barely, and the young girl (Shina)'s ability to control death allows Vivica to reunite with her deceased sister. 
On death's door and with renewed purpose to keep Shina and her brother Anders safe, Vivica is finally forced to confront what she wants to do with her life and what it means to be a hero.

Secondary Conflict:

As Vivica's health worsens throughout her story, her concern for Anders grows. In the five years since she last saw him with any frequency, the boy has hardly changed, willfully remaining juvenile and naive. Yet Vivica is reluctant to take the boy under her wing, to train and encourage him as she once did with Nora, even when Anders shows maturity and growth. However, Vivica's decision to aid the young warlock means that Anders is placed in the same danger she'd wanted to keep him from. With a relentless enemy pursuing them, Vivica wonders how she can keep the boy safe; and if he perhaps has a value she'd overlooked until it was too late to appreciate it.


Set on the west coast of the Megisan Kingdom, Harrow explores only a small handful of the things that make this fantasy world unique; while setting up a larger world for following stories. 

  • Long ago, the gods lived among a race of giants. The gods taught the giants their magic and guided their great civilization as it grew to cover the world. But when the gods withdrew to the heavens, the giants were overcome by raging demons, and now all that remains of their once-great empire are the handful of ruins scattered across the world. Most modern cities are built on or beside these ruins. 
  • The secrets of magic disappeared with the gods, though it's said there are places of power remaining in the world and that the various mythical beasts prowling the countryside of Megisan were born from this influence. But for mortal humankind, magic is accessible only through the gods' favour or the treacherous touch of demons.
  • The world warred for the fragments of magic for centuries until King Harlan the First brought peace to the eastern lands where Megisan now lays its borders. He instituted a system used to this day of three governing bodies to ensure peace, prosperity and protection for all his subjects. From his palaces in the East, King Harlan created laws and guards dressed in red and copper to keep them; from rich mountains in the North, he allowed guilds and bankers wearing green and gold to organize the realm's wealth and development. And from the bustling cities in the West, he allowed five generals dressed in blue and silver to form a council of heroes (Vorhelt) to serve the people and protect them from threats he could not. 
  • The heroic council grows in influence and power every year, maintaining the balance between the factions of wealth and law. The greatest minds and most heroic citizens find homes within the Vorhelt halls, sharing secret technologies and resources with each other, pioneering feats of scientific progress that rival what the giants could do with magic.
  • With this newfound reliance on the mind, fear of magic grows, giving rise to an Inquisition led by the favoured of the gods. Those born with dark power given to them by demons are considered warlocks and hunted with extreme prejudice. The crown supports this growing force of Inquisitors, and the world is safer from those who consort with demons. 
  • The western coast of Megisan thrives, opening new ports and expanding cities with automatons and burgeoning electricity pioneered by Vorhelt councilman and Vivica Harrow's patron, Tomo Quinn. 
  • Vivica is assigned to the western frontiers, operating primarily between Prim, the City of Knowledge, and Newton, a quiet port town. With her discovery of the young warlock, Shina, Vivica leaves Newton for the City of Knowledge, hoping to find allies with her Vorhelt comrades there. But Prim borders the plains and deserts of the South, where the Inquisition has many men. A final confrontation must be held in Prim, among the streets of colourful retailers and impressive innovations. There Vivica's friends and allies must fight to prevent chaotic ambition from spoiling the system that's kept their world in balance for so long.

The core action of the story begins in the port town of Newton - a quaint city on the western coast, close to the neighbouring nation of Faenden by sea. Newton has seen significant economic growth in recent years; however, poor management by local lords and unambitious bankers alike means the bustling town pales compared to the Great Cities of the West and still feels like a seaside shanty town. 

The air is thick with salt blown from a churning sea beyond the bay; the locals are poor, friendly and easily charmed with ale, and short of working on the docks or eating vinegar-laden foods, there's not much to do. 

The most intriguing part of Newton, and why the town is a crucial starting point for the story, lies in the proximity to Faenden. Men of the West (Faens) are often unwelcome in the Megisan Kingdom. Westerlings worship demons instead of gods, destroy instead of build, and a century ago, great Faen armies invaded Megisan in a brutal conquest. To keep cities safe from further Faen horror while still being able to enjoy the benefits of foreign trade, the king decreed that no Faens may stay or sleep within city limits, and so hordes of raiders assemble outside Newton each night and scheme different ways to make their fortunes.


After Newton is burned to the ground by raiders, and Vivica subsequently burns her bridges there, the setting shifts to Prim, the City of Knowledge.

Prim - like the other Great Cities of the Western Coast, is built atop ancient giant ruins. The city is famed for its academies, scholars, alchemist, machinists, artificers and rebellious artists. Each man and woman who spends their lifetime in Prim marks the city with some indelible signature or forward-thinking idea - most notable among them is the burgeoning application of electricity. Automaton toys run through the streets while children chase them, vendors light their storefronts with neon signs, and workers navigate the city by monorails racing around the reconstructed walls. Prim is a city of many levels and more competing factions. While the city has a distinct feel of magic and wonder, the winding streets hide threats and create room for secret plots to thrive. 

Between the two cities, there are moments of quiet reflection in vaulted halls, contests of strength in cobbled streets, crucial conversations held in ancient ruins and battles fought on rooftops by night. There are moments in wilderness and nature throughout the story, but the two locales with personality and verve are the urban environments of Newton Prim.

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#1 Story Statement

The canyon wildfire steals everything from some, gifting opportunity to others, but no one notices in those early days of community spirit. Then insurance settlements, building plans, and a pair of twelve-year-old boys’ secrets threaten to destroy the community all over again.

#2 Antagonist

Twelve-year-old Benny isn’t good enough. Not good enough at sports. Not rich enough to impress kids at school. Not good enough at homework for Mom. He’s sick of all the pressure. He wants to be more like Lucas, the kid who’s dad lives in the creepy old canyon lodge. Lucas knows how to do guy stuff—like shooting guns. Benny dares Lucas. He’ll bring the fireworks. Lucas will bring the gun. It’s so cool. The sound. The sparks. But a hiker comes and ruins everything. Benny doesn’t even think about how the wildfire started. Because living in a hotel is the best! All the guys at school want to hang out with him, now that he has room service and porn. But then the fire investigators come. Lucas says too much. Benny threatens Lucas not to say more. Benny knows he’s bad. A psychologist thinks he’s bad too. But Mom can’t handle more stress. And Dad quits his job. Telling some of the truth is best. But he can’t stop thinking about the dead people. The dead animals. People want him dead too—he sees it online. Being dead might be best. He’ll never be good. Just bad.   

#3 Titles

Things We Lost In The Fire

What Does Not Burn

After The Fire

#4 Comp Titles

The story explores a tragic incident from multiple points-of-view like See How Small by Scott Blackwood and What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins (a BOMC selection) in a neighborhood setting like Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (a GMA Book Club pick). 

#5 Logline

Canyon residents—an injured Olympic athlete, a sad divorced dad, a perfectionistic physician, and a guilt-ridden son—struggle to rebuild after a pair of twelve-year-old boys start a deadly wildfire. Rebuilding material structures turns out to be easier than reframing one’s sense of self.   

#6 Inner Conflict of Protagonist + Secondary Conflict 

After a car accident kills her parents and leaves her with an amputated leg, ending her Olympic snowboarding career, Sibby plans to transform the family’s old ski hill into something big—once her struggling café makes money. The wildfire turns the café into the heart of the community, but she won’t make it through the winter without paying customers unless she lies on her insurance forms. A relationship with sad dad Justin—and long talks with his son Lucas—force Sibby to question all the things she thought she wanted.

Justin is only living in the old family lodge long enough to recover from his divorce. The fire changes everything. His family can now sell the land, and the post-disaster app he creates to help his neighbors negotiate insurance settlements attracts investors and job offers. Things have never been better. And things have never been worse. His twelve-year-old son Lucas is being investigated for starting the fire by shooting one of the old guns from his attic. Justin wants to escape to a great job in San Francisco, but he cannot leave his kids—or Sibby.

As a physician Kristin remains in control at all times, more so after being stung by an unfair malpractice suit. After the fire Kristin turns into something of a shopaholic, builds a sprawling new house and profits off women’s insecurities by adding med spa services to her gynecological practice. Everything is fine. Even if her son Benny lied about shooting the gun that started the fire. Even if she “encourages” a psychologist to diagnose Benny with mild conduct disorder—to make him more sympathetic to the judge. Nothing is fine.

Mark’s parents are the only people who die in the fire. If only he’d taken them to church that morning or moved them into the valley. He and his brothers decide to honor their parents—and earn a pretty profit—by turning the old family homestead into an assisted living community. When Mark changes his mind, his brothers sue him, but nature votes with Mark and sends a mudslide ripping through the canyon. Restoring the canyon gives Mark a way to forgive himself, and the boys. 

Benny and Lucas only wanted to do guy stuff. If guns are loud, are fireworks louder? What if you shoot a gun at the fireworks? Benny threatens Lucas—he better keep the fireworks part secret. Each boy spirals into suicidal depression knowing that two people—and so many animals—died. Neither boy can imagine living with what they’ve done. The judgment they receive is so big. So much money to repay. So many hours of service. So many apologies. Working with Mark to replant the canyon might help the boys heal too. Turns out that being a man is a lot more complicated than doing guy stuff.  

# 7 Setting:

The Pony Express, the Donner Party, even Brigham Young himself, entered the Salt Lake valley through Prayer Canyon. The Mormons claim that Brigham Young prayed in the grove of rare red maples, non-Mormons joke that he just took a piss. Now pioneer cabins and cholera-era lodges known as Heritage Properties sit alongside expensive custom homes owned by wealthy newcomers. Cultures have always clashed in the canyon—like the time the Mormon church stopped a ski resort from being built near the maple grove. Now there’s a struggling café on old Rattlesnake Run property. After the fire, the community holds planning meetings at the café; the huge gravel parking lot served as a firebreak saving the structure. Tensions spark over maintaining the character of the canyon versus making improvements. A developer buys one of the largest properties and starts building cheaper tract homes. The huge meadow at the end of the canyon is going to be home to an assisted living facility. New growth sprouts and some wildlife returns, but the canyon will never be the same. The charred land shifts yet again after heavy rainfall causes a massive landslide. The character of the canyon changes yet again.

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1.    Story statement

Artist Mia Lieberman doesn’t believe in love or her own artistic abilities, but when but when her day job as a paralegal puts her on a case with handsome lawyer Justin Wu, she must learn to trust herself if she wants to help the refugees harmed by a reckless natural gas company — while definitely not falling for Justin.

2.    Antagonist and antagonistic force – 200 words or less

Damien Blunt embodies everything Mia dislikes. They had an unfortunate encounter at college, where he was one of the cool kids and she was decidedly not, and he drunkenly proclaimed she wasn’t cute enough to sleep with. Now, he represents the evil Stimpson Natural Gas, defending the company’s civil rights abuses. He gets her name wrong, leers at her, and insults the man she probably shouldn’t be falling in love with.

Other antagonists include Mia’s boss (wants to fire her), her love interest, Justin (enemies to lovers), and, most critically, her self doubts.

3.    Breakout title – up to 3 options

A Brief Affair
Mia Lieberman Makes a Stand
Love by Agreement

4.    Develop 2 smart comps

Romance: contemporary, romcom

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

5.    Write logline with conflict and core wound following format

A young artist recovers from a devastating critique and learns to love her quirky, messy, unconventional self, thanks to a lawsuit that gives her a sense of higher purpose and an irresistible love affair with a gorgeous (if unavailable) lawyer.

6.    Primary and secondary conflicts.

Primary conflict: Mia’s primary conflict is internal. She pulls back from life, terrified of making a wrong move and being subjected to crushing criticism like a harsh critique she experienced during art school. She doesn’t believe in love, doesn’t believe herself worthy of love or capable of sustaining a relationship. She accepts a lot of bullshit: Justin keeping their relationship secret, her parents pushing her to go to grad school when she knows she doesn’t want to, her boss keeping her walking on eggshells. Her arc is learning to stand up for herself, especially with the people she loves. Samira Abdo personifies much of this internal conflict: a member of her art school cohort, now a successful artist, someone who tries to pull Mia back into the art world, and a possible rival for Justin’s attention.

Secondary conflict: Mia has a fierce hatred for Stimpson Natural Gas, Mia’s firm’s opponent in the central legal case and a reckless petrochemical firm that puts profits above the welfare of local populations. When she meets refugees who fled the area, she discovers that Stimpson hired murderous insurgents as security guards for its operations in Mozambique, polluted local waters, took villagers’ land, and treated the locals as if their lives didn’t matter. She becomes determined to keep Stimpson from getting an insurance payout for its evil actions and, if she could, she’d march right into Stimpson HQ and punch everyone. The chance to bring a small measure of justice for this wrong lights a fire in Mia.

7.    Sketch setting in detail – what makes it unique? Be aggressive.

Studio 3 in Potrero Studios in San Francisco’s Mission District: Mia’s art studio is a run-down space with warped floorboards, 20-foot ceilings and a wall of windows. It’s impossible to heat, barely has a kitchen (she cooks in a microwave and toaster oven) and her bedroom is a small loft hanging above the space, but it’s the place she feels most at home in the world and her building being sold is one of the obstacles she must overcome. She shares the building with three other studios: Axiom, a well-known sculptor and recluse; Rivka, a conceptual artist, and MaxBertel Dance Company, which rehearses in a larger space, where several members of the dance company also live, including Mia’s flirty neighbor, Pinto.

Mia’s office is in Embarcadero One, an office tower in downtown San Francisco. She works on the 35th floor, which offers striking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and much of the eastern parts of San Francisco. Offices are arranged in a circle around the perimeter of the building, with the elevator lobby in the center. Mia spends her time (miserably) in a small cubicle with no view and no privacy in the hallway outside the ring of offices. When she needs a break, she escapes to the building’s open-air second-floor mezzanine, a refuge above street level where she can have a solitary lunch when she’s at the end of her patience.

The central third of the action takes place in Lisbon, a city of art and light, filled with colorful tiled buildings, patterned sidewalks, hills and river, breathtaking overlooks, and the salt air off the Atlantic. For Mia, Lisbon is a place of danger, and revelation, where she comes face to face with some of her worst fears and overcomes them. 

In Lisbon, Mia goes to a museum for the first time since she dropped out of art school, the Gulbenkian. There, she comes face to face with an exhibit by the artist who told her she had no talent, causing her to take her art underground. She discovers his work is very similar to her piece that he trashed, and she’s forced to rethink everything she’s believed about her artwork for the past six years.

Mia gets to be a different person in Lisbon and starts to dare to step outside her comfort zone. The trip also shows her a different side of Justin, takes him to one of his darkest places, and it’s where the boundaries between them finally break down.

Justin leads a nomadic life, often leaning on his real estate contacts to stay in soon-to-be-sold buildings. He treats Mia to a weekend escape to an empty Seacliff mansion, a sliver of a very different San Francisco complete with private beach access and an outdoor pool. The emptiness is creepy at first, but the ability to run down the stairs and be on the beach wins Mia over.

In both Lisbon and San Francisco, many of the settings are real places: buildings, restaurants, stores, neighborhoods are all places that readers could visit: the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, shops in Hayes Valley, a glittery drag ball on New Year’s Eve.





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7 Conference Assignments

Story Statement: 

Detective Jacob Harrington must prove his colleague’s death is anything but suicide so he can discredit his father’s death, resolving his own personal issues, allowing him to begin healing.    



 Rookie police officer Alan Pendergrass, fresh out of recruit school seeks revenge, as he develops a well-crafted scheme to work his way around the department, getting close enough to track down and eliminate the remaining narcotic task force members who used his father as an informant, ultimately causing his death.  Everything seems to quickly fall into place for him, a bit too easily perhaps, as he becomes arrogant, pushes the limits and gets careless. His actions leave us with the sentiment, one who desires revenge digs two graves.


 Breakout Title:

 Suicide by Deceit


Genre/Comparable Fiction: 

Crime Fiction (Detective novel)

 Suicide by Deceit has both a similar premise and theme as Dead Irish, by John Lescroart.

Suicide by Deceit’s, Jacob Harrington, like Dead Irish’s Dismas Hardy, finds his drive to investigate the death of a colleague in order to relieve the agony he feels from the belief that his father had committed suicide, and in Hardy’s case, his close friend.  After several twists and turns in both novels, the investigation rests with a killer who sought revenge for loss of the potential life that was taken from him so many years before.

Suicide by Deceit has similar prose as compared to In Cold Blood by Jack Hunt.  Both follow a similar, natural flow of ordinary speech.  The dialogue is direct and uses language you would hear people use in casual, everyday conversation.   With further research, I found that Jack Hunt has published many books, however, he is new to the mystery genre as In Cold Blood is his first.


 Hook Line (Log line):

 A detective who suffers with abandonment issues after finding his father dead of an apparent suicide, fights to prove the death of a colleague is anything but suicide in order to refute his father’s death and regain his feeling of self-worth.


Other Matters of Conflict:

 Harrington and his mother stay in constant conflict, as she has been unable to deal with her husband’s, Harrington’s dad’s, death. When she’s not ignoring Harrington, she’s directing her anger towards him.  As far as their relationship is concerned, it’s almost as if he found both parents dead on that fateful day.

Harrington’s relationship with his immediate boss, Asst Chief Brian Bridier.  Once Bridier makes up his mind, there’s no changing it.  They each have their own ideas as to which direction the investigation should take.  Bridier’s asshole, power hungry personality clashes with Harrington as he pushes through the investigation.

Harrington’s relationship with his girlfriend, Grace is strained. His abandonment issues do not allow him to trust. He feels vulnerable, and his head won’t allow his heart to fully commit. 



 The setting is randomly within the 840 square miles of Jacksonville, Florida. 

The tone is set early on a breezy night in 1980 on Jacksonville’s eastside.  The once prosperous, industrial side of town has been reduced to nothing more than abandoned buildings, randomly inhabited by those whose businesses demand secrecy. It is in one of these dilapidated buildings where the first plot point is set. 

The story then moves forward 24 years, beginning at Jake Harrington’s home, right on the ocean in Atlantic Beach.  His home may not be furnished with many material objects, but it does contain westwardly flowing breezes and breathtaking sunrises.  

The reader is then thrust forward as if caught in those westwardly flowing breezes, moving quickly to Asst. Chief Brian Bridier’s office in the Police Memorial Building, where Jake Harrington learns of the death of colleague/friend, Mackenzie Stewart.  It is this scene where the first inciting incident takes place. 

The story then moves to the disarranged home of the deceased colleague.  Center stage is Stewart’s body, disheveled and bloody, gun in hand, and surrounded by half-empty fast-food containers, empty beer cans, newspapers and dog racing booklets, all which litter the floor at his feet.  Something about the crime scene, about Stewart in particular, doesn't sit well with Harrington, but he can't quite put his finger on it.

Throughout the remainder of the story, the setting’s locations split time at his mother’s neglected home, at Stewart’s crazy neighbor’s overgrown and unmaintained home, at the pseudo sterile office of the coroner, at various offices located in the Police Memorial Building, at various eating establishments from Arlington to the westside, and concludes at the police chief’s home in Nocatee.  



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1. Story Statement:

Vrinn must regain control of her own magic from the immortal king who plans to use it to punish his enemies.

2. The Antagonist:

While leading the charge to slaughter the gods fifteen hundred years ago, the Archenking took a magical artifact from the goddess of life: a stone that gave him a way to preserve his soul, moving it from one host body to the next, effectively granting himself immortality. The Archenking used this power to gain followers, fight his enemies, and set himself up as the ruler of the known world, in many ways, replacing the very gods he helped to destroy. In the present, when he discovers Vrinn’s magic which grants her power over death itself—a form of magic that should not exist in the Godless Age—the Archenking intends to take possession of this impossible magic. At first, he hopes to make Vrinn’s body the next vessel for his soul, moving into her flesh and wielding her power directly, but when he discovers Vrinn’s magic cannot be separated from her own soul, he settles on a back-up plan: tattooing a spell of obedience into Vrinn’s skin, forcing her to obey his every command. With Vrinn’s power fully leashed under his control, the Archenking doesn’t hesitate to use Vrinn to intimidate or kill anyone who displeases him.

3. Breakout Title:

1.     Archenking

2.     To End the World

4. Genre and Comparables:

            Genre: fantasy

Comparable 1: A.K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name features goddesses of death and their relationship to the mortals they hope to use to achieve their own goals, much like the goddess of death in my manuscript.

Comparable 2: Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne contains multiple POV characters, each with their own agendas that fold together to further the central plot focusing on Priya’s magical abilities and opposing Emperor Chandra’s oppressive rule, much like my manuscript uses multiple POVs centering around Vrinn’s struggle to regain control of her magic and the Archenking’s tyranny

5. Hook Line:

When an immortal king learns of her impossible death-magic and forces her obedience via a permanent spell, Vrinn struggles to regain control over her power and her own fate.

6. Two Levels of Conflict:

1.     Inner Conflict: Vrinn has never fully embraced her own power over death. As a child, the rest of her village learned of her magic when Vrinn accidentally rotted their food stored for winter, after which she was forbidden from ever learning magic or using it again. Her foster mother, Crane, has been teaching Vrinn to control her power in secret, often ordering and sometimes forcing Vrinn to use her magic as directed. As a result, Vrinn fears her own affinity with death, sometimes sickened by the things Crane tells her to do with her magic. Vrinn even holds herself back from ever touching her love interest, Cheyla, worried that her magic might accidentally slip out and harm her. When Vrinn learns that her foster mother has been keeping a horrifying secret from Vrinn for entire life—that Crane killed Vrinn’s parents, creating the opportunity to “rescue” Vrinn as a baby and raise her, taking ownership of Vrinn’s magic—Vrinn is overcome by rage. Furious, she uses her magic to kill Crane. Although part of Vrinn is appalled at herself afterwards, this is the first time she truly owns her magic, and this is a moment in which she is able to feel and understand exactly how powerful she is.

2.     Secondary Conflict: After living in the palace for a time and upsetting the Archenking, as a punishment, Vrinn is assigned housing with “the vessels,” common people who competed and went through a rigorous vetting process to earn the right to live in a locked wing of the palace until the Archenking or one of his fellow-immortal underlings need a new body to possess. At first, Vrinn, disturbed at the idea of anyone willingly giving up their body and their freedom to the Archenking—as well as unaccustomed to making friends or even being treated kindly due to her dangerous magic—is unsure of what life will be like living alongside them. The vessels are too eager to serve their rulers for Vrinn’s taste, and at times they seem insipid or naïve, but most of them are kind to Vrinn, unafraid to touch her and inviting her to spend leisure time together. Vrinn becomes fond of a particular group of vessels, eventually even growing defensive of them at the Archenking and the other immortals’ treatment of the vessels, referring to them as “pets” or engaging them for sex work in a power dynamic where consent is illusory at best. Her relationship with the vessels is another element that allows Vrinn to see just how cruel and damaging the Archenking’s rule is, looking beyond her own personal reasons to resent him and understanding the ways he makes use of even his most loyal subjects so thoughtlessly.

7. Setting:

·       Hatchet Wood: This forest features heavily in Vrinn’s early narration. It is both the only place she sometimes feels safest—the only place she is left alone for any stretch of time, able to hide from her abusive foster mother and the distrust and distaste of the others in her village—and a sanctuary that is sometimes invaded by Crane, her foster mother, who will occasionally accompany Vrinn on her forays into Hatchet Wood to practice her magic at a safe distance from the rest of the village. The forest is ancient and sprawling. Nearer to the village, there are younger trees and cheerful birdsong. Further into the Wood, there are ancient trees, strange sounds, and long-forgotten and occasionally delightful secrets, like an abandoned peach orchard and swathes of colorful butterfly weed. It’s a peaceful place for Vrinn, but it’s dangerous as well, since one of the first things the reader learns about the forest is that Crane would never be foolish enough to be caught out in it after dark.

·       Orchys: This is the village in which Vrinn and Crane live. It’s a small, isolated community of nature witches, who mostly know spells to ward off pests or help their squash grow big. Orchys is small enough everyone knows everything about everyone else—or so they believe, since no one but Vrinn and Crane are away that Vrinn didn’t really give up on growing her power as a child. Vrinn has never been able to escape from the shadow of her strange magic, and alongside Crane, she is largely ostracized by the other villagers. Vrinn enjoys tending the sheep that live in the front yard of the two-room, dirt-floor cabin she and Crane share, and Crane tends to the garden out back. The closest thing the village has to a community center is the “Town Square,” a large patch of lawn on the western edge of the village where people gather on market day, when the traveling Faoren come into town to trade with the witches, or just to gossip about their neighbors.

·       The School of Night (located in Trepharryn): This is a “school” that trains and houses the assassins commanded by the Archenking in a sort of open secret. One of the POV characters, Darian, was raised in this school and has been working as an assassin for over a decade. The School of Night is a large sandstone building that doesn’t bother to lock its doors, because who would be foolish enough to break in? There’s a labyrinthine system of catacombs below the School, where the bones of former Servants of Night are interred, and deep within the catacombs lies “the Tomb” a room where the deepest secrets of the School are spoken only to die, taken no further. This is the room in which Darian meets an immortal who sends him on a special mission to assassinate members of the One Life Movement, a rebel organization seeking to end the Archenking’s reign.

·       Haford: A fishing village that is not all that it appears. Haford is located on the edge of a beautiful lake, and the houses of the town begin on the edge of the water, built up on stilts, only to grow cramped and too-close together the further they are from the shore. The air smells of fish, and large warehouses on the edge of town prepare cured fish or seal off barrels of live fish to ship to the capital city of Trepharryn. This town is where the reader learns that Cheyla, Vrinn’s love interest and the brand new Pathguide of her clan of traveling traders (as well as another POV character) is involved in the One Life Movement, doing her part to bring down the Archenking. In Haford, Cheyla and other members of her clan meet with the local One Lifers, who share upsetting news about a recent spate of assassinations of high-profile One Lifers in Trepharryn, speculating what this will mean for the future of the movement as a whole. Cheyla worries about that as well as what the implications could be for her clan, so involved in passing treasonous information and messages from one town to the next along their route.

·       The Blazer Barracks (located in Claron): In the town neighboring Orchys, larger than Vrinn’s village, there is an abandoned “Blazer” Barracks, a structure meant to house members of the Archenking’s military force, the Blazing Hand, when they come through the area. The last time the Blazers used the barracks was over fifty years ago, and Vrinn grew up hearing horror stories from Orchys’ survivors about the carnage they left in their wake, taking villagers’ money and possessions in “back taxes” owed to the Archenking and killing or maiming anyone who stood up to them. Vrinn is surprised when Crane brings here there to answer Vrinn’s questions about her recent, strange behavior. Crane brings Vrinn into a shrine to the Archenking located in the Barracks’ front room. There, seated on the creaky wooden floor, in a shaft of sunlight filtered through dusty windows, Crane tells Vrinn that her father was a Blazer, and that Crane has spent her whole life scheming how to claim her rightful place in the capital city. Crane explains that Vrinn’s magic is going to be her ticket in. Crane has already written to the Archenking about Vrinn’s power, and Crane hopes that in bringing Vrinn to him, the Archenking will grant her an incredible “finder’s bonus;” Crane expects that the Archenking will be so grateful, he’ll invite Crane to join him and his underlings in immortality, living in comfort and power in the palace for centuries to come.

·       Trepharryn: The reader sees different views of Trepharryn through the eyes of Darian, who was born and grew up there, learning its streets and rooftops to accomplish his work with all necessary subtlety, and Vrinn, who prior to being called to the palace by the Archenking, had never been further away than a day’s walk from Orchys. Both characters’ perspectives highlight the discrepancies of quality of life in various parts of the city. The rich live in large, marble buildings with balconies supported by fluted columns and green lawns bursting with flowers and manicured trees. Trepharryn’s poorest citizens live in hovels cobbled together from used lumber and driftwood in parts of the city where the Blazers don’t bother to investigate crimes and where even the sewage isn’t properly tended to. At the heart of the city lies the Archenking’s palace, but another notable location is the basement of Tanna Lin’s pub, where the Trepharryn members of the One Life Movement meet in secret to make their plans. After the goddess of death reveals herself to Darian, claiming him for her own schemes, she sends him to infiltrate this group of One Lifers, to win them over and manipulate them into filling a role in her own revenge scheme against the Archenking.

·       Faoren Camp (location shifting): The traveling Faoren, led by Cheyla, walk on foot or ride on donkeys or in wagons from one place to the next. In the evenings, they set up camp. Colorful, mismatched tents are pitched—Cheyla’s own is more patchwork than original tent at this point—wagons are blocked off, and cooking fires are lit. The clan eats shared meals together and takes turns seeing to chores or watching the children. Cheyla’s clan sets up camp wherever they go, and while the configurations of tents, wagons, donkeys, and fires might alter from place to place, the sense of community within the camp is a constant—until it isn’t. When the situation in the One Life Movement grows more dangerous and unstable, Clan elders question Cheyla’s preparedness to lead the clan in such uncertain times. They want to push for safer actions, withdrawing from the movement, focusing their energies on their own clan, and forgetting about their settled allies in all the towns and villages they visit throughout the year. This becomes a source of tension for Cheyla that carries on for most of the plot, until Cheyla realizes the tension within the clan is tearing it apart and offers an ultimatum: if the clan has truly lost faith in her, they can remove her from her position, but until they do, she will lead them in the ways she believes is best for them, for the One Life Movement, and for the future of the world itself.

·       Newtriumph Palace: Eventually, Vrinn arrives at the palace, a hulking display of architecture, a building the size of her whole village made of marble threaded through with gold that glimmers like flame in the sunlight and that turns grey, looking more like cracks in bone in the dark. Vrinn is exposed to many different parts of the palace, from the Archenking’s enormous throne room with its towering columns and stained glass windows, where the Archenking tests Vrinn’s magic by ordering her to execute a prisoner to the lavish guest suites she and Crane are assigned on their arrival to the locked wing of the vessel dormitories, where the living quarters might be lavish to the vessels who all came from poorer families but where Vrinn is only too aware of the fact that the narrow bedrooms, cramped living quarters, and most obviously, the big locked door separating them from the rest of the palace are evidence that the Archenking treats the vessels more like livestock, being tended carefully until it’s time for the slaughter, than like valued members of the court. Vrinn is also brought to the Archenking’s workroom, a circular room at the top of a tower, cluttered with strange magical artifacts and half-finished experiments. There, the Archenking makes an experiment of Vrinn, testing to see whether her magic could survive her soul being torn from her body to make room for the Archenking’s soul to take its place and furious when he discovers it cannot.

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  1. FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

Eve returns to her adopted family’s French country home to see what she can learn of the parents who abandoned her there as a newborn. She discovers the diary of twin sisters and tracks their lives as they escape the crumbling chateau where they were born, to the English boarding school they attend, then a glamourous summer in Capri and finally life as the muse of a Parisian fashion designer. Eve must solve the mystery presented by the diary in tandem to the mystery of her own origins.


  1. 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.


Petra has the physical strength and the ruthlessness to be the dominant twin, but Vivienne has the advantage of understanding social cues and norms. Mostly they depend on each other for emotional support and affection, but Petra’s obsession with their beautiful and absent mother threatens to upset the balance they achieve by themselves. When their parents divorce, their mother casually offers to take Vivienne and leave Petra to her feral existence with their father. The girls, who were eavesdropping behind the drapes erupt into the room at this news and run outside toward one of their havens. An accident sends Vivienne into the well, and by the time she’s brought out she is no longer in the condition to go with their mother. After the accident Vivienne despises their mother and Petra doubles down on her obsession. She pursues a career in fashion because their mother had had ambitions in that industry. Vivienne struggles to be supportive of Petra without encouraging Petra’s desire to seek their mother’s approval and affection. The mother is a casually destructive force throughout the book, but the reader is also aware of the threat that Petra represents to Vivienne.


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




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

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo explores the glamourous past through the eyes of a damaged and beautiful character. Likewise, the story is told in two chronologies and multiple voices.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart has a similarly unreliable narrator who turns out to be hanging out with the imaginary ghosts of her beloved cousins. In THICKER THAN WATER, at the end the reader will realize that Vivienne, who is present through her diary, drowned in the well at age 14. Petra took over Vivienne’s life after her death and continued to write her diary as if they were both still alive. Petra changes from an antagonistic force to a sympathetic character.

  1. 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.

Eve was abandoned as a newborn at her adopted family’s country house outside of Paris. When she returns eighteen years later to learn what she can of her birth parents, she falls into the mystery of twins who overcame a feral childhood and an accident in a well to become successful in the 1960s Parisian fashion world. As Eve untangles the identities of the twins, she comes closer to her own origins.


  1. 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.

Vivienne and Petra are living together in Paris in the late sixties. When they were children it was always Vivienne’s job to get whatever they needed from adults, but now Petra’s powers of repulsion have been reversed and she is beautiful and magnetic. Petra works with Ciro, a fashion designer. It’s a job that she pursued, in part, to impress the girls’ mother, who had failed ambitions in that industry. Petra hates to be called a muse because it is too passive, and she has her own ambitions. Vivienne is acutely in tune with Petra’s uncertainties regarding her role with Ciro. At the same time Vivienne is unsure of her own role anymore. She used to be needed to translate between Petra and the rest of the world. She had been the one with promise and ease with authority. Her own insecurity makes it difficult to unpeel possible jealousy from her role as Petra’s protector. Ciro keeps promising Petra the opportunity to design a jewelry line, but then makes it impossible for her to have time to do it. Vivienne points out that Petra is not progressing at all but does so knowing that her critique of Ciro undermines Petra as well.

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?

Harriet is Eve’s adopted father’s niece. She was a lonely child who liked to spy on people and record their secrets. As an adult, she is still lonely, and her inquisitiveness comes across as creepy. Eve catches her poking around Eve’s room, sneaking through a back hedge and trespassing in the chateau. Eve has to hide her discoveries from Harriet because Harriet’s reactions are unpredictable. Eve is not sure if Harriet is merely unpleasant or a true danger. In the end, Harriet’s instability puts both their lives at risk.


  1. 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.


1947 Petra and Vivienne are born in a bathtub on the second floor of a moldering chateau outside Paris. Their grandmother hires a nursemaid, but when the nurse stops getting paid, she leaves, and the girls are left to wander the house and grounds without supervision. Cook hobbles around the kitchen making organ groans and telling myths. Father is in his study rattling his needles around on a silver tray. The girls sleep in a nest of sheets they’ve collected from the furniture that was not being used, and they put together clothing from the closets of their dead ancestors. When their mother visits from Paris it is like sunlight pouring through a cleft in dark clouds. She swans into the drawing room and throws chocolates at them until she grows bored of their presence. Sometimes they are allowed to help her bathe in tub where they were born.

PAST AND PRESENT Outside the chateau are a series of special places that Petra and Vivienne tend to every day. There are the stables, the culvert, the Old Oak and the well. The well is in the center of a stone patio that has become jumbled with age and the growth of brambles. It is made of yellow stone with an ankle-high lip and a rotting wooden cover. On the north side of the grounds are the woods where the villagers poach whatever wildlife they can find. Down a shadowy allee of oaks is the road to the village, which is small, close-knit and wary of the family in the chateau.

PAST AND PRESENT Just down this road is the house where Eve was abandoned. It is a symmetrical stone house that has served as the holiday home for three generations of Eve’s adopted English family. There are the usual closets of wellies, amateur paintings, bookshelves of light reading and family photos, but the innocent surface hides deep, generational unhappiness. Harriet seems to lurk around every corner guarding her father’s legacy, although Eve suspects that is not her true purpose. There is a wooden folly down on the bank of the river, which is where Eve finds Vivienne’s diary. The river and the folly are a refuge for Eve, who loves to swim and is anxious to stay out of Harriet’s way.

1962 In the diary, Eve reads about Baswell, an English boarding school that is attended by Vivienne and Petra as well as an unnamed peer whose notes about the twins are stuffed into the diary. The girls sleep in a large dormitory in a Victorian house. Each student has a bed with a small desk beside it and her trunk at the end of the bed. The campus is like a small village with walking paths instead of roads and gracious shady trees.

1964 When Grandmother dies, Petra and Vivienne use their inheritance to rent a flat in an unpopular area of London. They stay there on school breaks because their father has died, and their mother is always traveling. It is furnished with cast-off pieces that were left behind or found in the street. It smells of old fry up, but it has nice light in the afternoon. Petra develops her collections there, including her wardrobe, cigarette butts, and shards of glass she finds on her rambles through London.

1965 Their mother invites them to Capri with her new, wealthy husband. The hotel is perched on the side of a hill and filled with wealthy families. The girls stay in a room off of their mother’s suite and develop a routine of tennis, walking, poolside, then dinner. Vivienne is at the pool and Petra is in it, when Petra’s beauty and style attract the attention of Ciro, the designer. He invites Petra to a party on the yacht of some middle-eastern royalty and their friendship grows from there. When the girls leave the island, the unnamed note-taker (whom Eve has figured out is Harriet) reports that the closet of their room was filled with hooks, and that each hook had a little bit of hair on it.

1967 In Paris the girls buy a third-story apartment overlooking a small park with dirty grass and stunted trees. The apartment is a quiet spot in the maelstrom of Paris. The atelier is serious and busy, with a strict hierarchy. The parties the girls attend are hedonistic and beautiful. One pivotal scene takes place at the party Ciro has arranged to celebrate Petra’s first line of jewelry, Abattoir. It is in an apartment up in Montmartre, which overlooks Paris. Ciro has done everything in black, white and red. There are snowy cheeses surrounded by black garlic and red rose petals; blood sausage and slices of tongue and mistletoe berries the color of corpse fingertips. The jewelry is displayed in glass boxes along the length of the table.

1986 The river is the final setting. It has been raining for days and the river has climbed all the way up to Harriet’s father’s studio. The small wooden pier is bucking and snapping underwater. Muscular bands of current are sleek with power. The storm pauses to gather its breath and then sends a blast of wind straight at the lowering old tree on the riverbank. The tree tips, slowly at first and then all at once and a disk of roots springs up. Eve watches as the rain reveals white shapes in the latticework of roots. It gives the impression of something familiar. Eve recognizes a human skeleton, both arms outstretched towards the river.



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Assignment #1 – Story Statement

In Island Escape, the mission of the protagonist, is to escape her alcoholic and abusive husband, reunite with her children permanently and create a safe and protective environment for them to live and thrive.

Assignment #2 –Sketch the antagonist

Phillip Anderson, a devastatingly handsome police officer, meets Hillary McIntosh at a dance hall in Gordon City, a small town on the island of St. Michael, where Hillary is a first-year teacher. After a few months, Hillary McIntosh discovers she is pregnant.

Phillip is ambivalent about fatherhood. Marriage is hardly discussed and Hillary resigns herself to being a single parent. When she is seven months pregnant, Phillip turns up with sapphire ring and off they go to the justice of the peace. After the marriage, Phillip Anderson disappears. When he finally moves in several months later, he is often gone for weeks at a time.

Phillip provides no financial support to his wife and newborn, so when Hillary learns of an opportunity to earn better pay on a nearby island, she jumps at the chance. Phillip joins her and Marjorie after they settle. A second child is born. Now living together full time, Hillary discovers Phillip is an alcoholic who is verbally and physically abusive. He is often absent, spending his free time at the local rum bar with his work mates. When Hillary has had enough, she hatches a plan to escape. With the help of Hillary’s brother, Phillip learns of the plan and sabotages her effort to leave.

Assignment #3 – Create a breakout title

Island Escape

Island Escape Route

Island Run

Assignment #4 –Genre: Literary Fiction

Comparable: The three of Us – Ore Agbaje Williams

Long-standing tensions between a husband, his wife, and her best friend finally come to a breaking point in this sharp domestic comedy of manners, told brilliantly over the course of one day. Similarly, tensions between Hillary and Phillip simmer over time and Hillary realizes she must escape her abusive marriage and leave her life of sadness.

Assignment #5—Create your hook line

After a Caribbean mother ships her children to another island to shield them from their father, her alcoholic, abusive husband, she realizes she must flee and create a new life for herself and her children.

Assignment #6—Sketch the inner conflict

Hillary Anderson feels guilt and helplessness, trapped in circumstances she chose; a loveless marriage to an alcoholic, abusive husband. She survives a life-threatening illness and while she’s grateful to be alive, she feels like a caged animal. This reality produces a hollow sadness which has left her on the brink of a deep depression. She longs for her soul to be at peace, but her husband is a dark cloud hanging over her head. She lives a double life, protecting her children on the one hand, while fearful he will hunt her down and kill her if she leaves. Hastening her desire to leave, are premonitions from her 10-year old daughter, who predicts a series of events with startling accuracy. 

Secondary conflict (does it involve family, friends, associates)

Hillary’s brother, whom she hasn’t seen in many years, shows up on her doorstep unannounced. He is a spoiled, self-centered chauvinist, recently divorced, and wants to start a new life. He assumes his sister will take him, and his three boys when they come to live with him. Before long, he becomes best buddies with Hillary’s bar-hopping husband. Hillary’s brother uncovers her plot to leave her husband and in an effort to protect his self-interests, he tells him of her plans. This leads to a physical confrontation between Hillary and her husband. But she is undeterred. Wiser and smarter, she enlists the help of her trusted friend Rosa, and plots to escape a second time.  

Assignment #7—The Setting

Island Escape begins in St. Michael, where Hillary was born and raised and where she has shipped her children off to school. St. Michael is a lush Caribbean island where children run around barefoot for hours on end, climb fruit trees for a morning snack, and tropical birds sharpening their beaks on coconut tree barks are a common sight. The landscape in the countryside is dotted with colorful wooden houses and people live off vegetable gardens and farm their own animals.

The children also spend time with their uncle and cousins in the capital city of St. Michael; a densely populated town with the island’s only major hospital where Hillary arrives, battling a life-threatening illness. Hillary recuperates, then takes the children home to The Abacos where she is a fourth grade teacher, to spend the rest of the summer holiday. The small island with pristine beaches boasts Poinciana and tamarind trees, cultural festivals, endless sunshine and exotic delicacies like souse and Johnny cakes. 

When Hillary finally escapes her abusive husband, she and the children land on Grand Greenleaf Island, a tiny island, where every house has a cistern and goats and chickens meander aimlessly around their hillside home. Flora fauna are plentiful; yellow and white flowers grow out of trees and a patchwork of wild purple flowers decorate footpaths. Native people represent every shade of white and brown and everyone knows everyone else’s business.


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Jack Field Assignment 1:

In forest Moonshadow Bellatrix Moon, an independent and sometimes selfish young girl, and her sister Zaylee survive on their wits until an unprovoked attack reveals that Bellatrix has strange new abilities and forces her on a treacherous journey to rescue her sister from Greentown, where with the help of some new found allies she must face down the dark lord Zyron Crane, and destroy the dream machine.

Assignment 2:

Zyron Crane rules all of Greentown. He is intelligent, haughty, controlling and devious. He believes that power is everything and loves control but like all dictators he claims he wants to bring lasting prosperity to the community and will do almost anything to show the people that this is his plan and that he alone can fix all of their problems. He will not tolerate those who do not share his vision particularly those who are different, like the altered, the people who were forever changed after ‘the greening’ he blames them for all of the problems in Greentown. He is a tyrant and a bully but ultimately he is a coward whose is secretly hiding the fact that he is an altered himself. He has authority, strength, resolve and determination but is using theses for all of the wrong reasons. Through his magic and mad science, he was instrumental in creating many of the ‘altered’ that now inhabit Greentown. Now he wants to harness all of this power again for his the dream machine, a machine that will help him “dream to life”. All of this will be done by harnessing the power of children’s imaginations and dreams, which when combined with some fairy magic and his own abilities he will be able to create his dreamtime creature which will finally do away with all of the altered and allow him to control everyone and everything that happens in Greentown and all of the Shadowlands. There is nothing he will not stop at to get what he wants, torture , kidnap, even murder. He is willing to risk the lives of children to achieve his goal. He will lie cheat and betray to get what he wants all the while claims that all he wants is to make the world better for everyone.

Assignment 3:

Bellatrix Moon.
After the Greening.
Bellatrix Moon and the Dream Machine.

Assignment 4: Comparables:

The Wizards of Once – Cressida Cowell. This has some similarities with its strange creatures and mismatched characters who have to come together to help fight dangerous forces that threaten everyone’s lives.

Frostheart - Jamie Littler. This has similarities with a protagonist who is an outlier and has strange new magical abilities. But an attack on where he lives sends him on an adventurous journey where he travels with an eclectic gang, makes new friends and allies and learns about his abilities along the way.

Assignment 5:

Primary Conflict: An independent and sometimes selfish girl who discovers she has strange new abilities has her world turned upside down when an unprovoked attack on her home forces her to choose between saving herself or rescuing a family member from a dark tyrant.

Core Wound: Bellatrix is caring but very independent and this at times leads her to think that she can do everything and does not need the help of others for anything, even her inventive but difficult younger sister.

Assignment 6:

The heroine of the story is a young girl called Bellatrix Moon. She is self-sufficient and independent and lives in Moonshadow forest with her sister. They have a slightly fractious relationship and are on the margins of the society where they live. Bellatrix ends up on a mission to Greentown to help rescue her sister.

Bellatrix tries to do everything on her own and she does not want the help of others. She believes that she will only be let down by them. The belief that ‘I’m better off on my own” is the demon that haunts her. She believes that she is able to do everything by herself but after she arrives in Greentown, she soon finds out that this is not the case, she absolutely needs the help of others if she is to survive at all in this treacherous place.

Bellatrix starts to learn about the importance of family, in whatever form it may be. She begins to realize that she cannot do everything on her own, but she still has a tendency to get in her own way. This at times is her almost fatal flaw and even though she gains allies and friends that help her navigate through Greentown there are times when she still tries to do everything on her own and things don’t always go to plan because of this. It is not until near the end that she realizes that she does need the help of others and that it is ok to ask for help and family is very important no matter what form it takes.

Assignment 7: Setting 1:

Moonshadow Forest. This is the location for the opening part of the story. At first glance it seems like typical forest, but many things have changed in the entire land after “the greening” and Moonshadow is no exception. The entire Shadowlands have changed forever since the greening. Moonshadow is now a completely overgrown forest where almost no daylight hits. It is a place where plants have mutated with animals and some humans have mutated with plants and animals, and it seem as though almost anything can come alive and move. Plants, trees, flowerflies, vinesnakes, jeeper creeper vines, viperflies and many more. It is a forest where everyone who lives there has to be on alert all of the time, on their guard from potential threats which seem to be everywhere. This is also the reason that most of the inhabitants of Moonshadow live up high in a place called Treetop Town, where it is safer from the perils of Moonshadow, until they have to venture down to the forest floor in search of food which is very scarce.

Setting 2:

Greentown. This is where most of the story takes place. It is a kingdom city that is the centre of this dystopian setting. It is the most dangerous location in all of the Shadowlands. Greentown is a maze of narrow winding streets and laneways. The streets are completely over grown with flora or every kind particularly ivy that creeps everywhere and long scraggly vines that solemnly hang down from almost every surface in the city. The outer areas of Greentown are filled with an array of strange characters of all kinds with altered mixing among humans and fairies. It is not a safe place especially out in the further reaches of the city. The closer you get to the centre the wealthier it becomes until finally right at the centre of it all is the Green Tower, the fortress of Zyron Crane and base for all of the power and wealth in Greentown. This is where Bellatrix must go and along the way there, she will come across enemies and allies. Greentown is where many of the altered live now and although they are often mistreated and abused by ordinary people and blamed for all of the problems in the Shadowlands they still survive, many of them underground or in the shadows, stonemen, treepeople, shapeshifters, fairies, even scarecrows. It is a bold and dangerous place that Bellatrix must navigate her way through, and she will need the help of all of her new friends if she is to survive this dangerous city.


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1-     The Act of Story Statement

Lou Kennedy thinks he’s met the girl that will change his life, except after a hazy night of booze and drugs he wakes up with no phone number. He’s got a name, a description, and a goal - find Marissa. Should be easy enough with the internet, right?

2-     The Antagonist

Lou Kennedy is his own worst enemy. He is purposeless in all facets of life unless it is the pursuit of a good time. He’s had plenty of off ramps in his debaucherous life come and go. There’s the cushy job his father got him, the perfect ex-ish-girlfriend Kristen, the successful sister Kimberly and consoling loving mother. None of it seems to work until he meets Marissa. In his struggle to find her, to change, he dives deeper into his personal misery and will have to figure out how to come out the other side.

While Lou makes things hard enough on himself the person who provokes Lou is Brian, an ex-best friend who is making successful attempts at getting his own life on track with a girl who Lou is convinced used to be a stripper.

3-     Title

Hell or a Hangover          

Two Eighty

Gentleman Now

4-     Comparable Titles

Literary Fiction/Contemporary Fiction/Dark Comedy

Bright Lights, Big City – Jay McInerny (if lucky)

Fuccboi – Sean Thor Conroe (but with sentences)

5-      Hook Line

A girl who Lou thinks can change his debauched ways is unfindable on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and Lou’s sense of reality begins to unravel as he attempts to find a girl who may or may not exist.

6-     Conditions for Inner Conflict

            Lou was not born to be this person. He has a loving family, friends, and options to live a life that is meaningful and yet he still finds himself more interested in where to drink and how not to become another boring twenty something college graduate. His parents have a perfect marriage he cannot live up to. His best friend has left him in the dust for a woman who maybe, possibly, could have been a stripper. His perfect ex-ish-girlfriend Kristen wants him back. His sister is a successful furniture designer. And all he does is sit back and make fun of it all…until it catches up with him.

            Primary Conflict

            Lou cannot find the girl who is supposed to change everything for him. He convinces himself if she is not findable on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter then it is possible he made her up.

            Secondary Conflict

            Figuring out how to remain the fun guy while the fun gets less and less fun.

            Figuring out what Brian sees in Jen, the possible ex stripper.

            Trying to remain presentable to his parents.

            Trying and failing to fend off Kristen.

            Trying to figure out why he is trying to fend off Kristen.

7-      Setting

  The manuscript is a seven-day sprinting jaunt between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Manhattan. The manuscript begins on Friday night at Lou’s shabby one room apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey for a pregame. He quips about how the lack of a doorman, the squeak of his bed, and the rusted fire escape are all hindrances to bringing girls back to the apartment, but he makes do. He climbs the fire escape to smoke a cigarette on the unprotected roof of his apartment building on Washington Street, looking at New York City in the fading light of dusk. New York City in its full glory. Lou and his two friends VanNeece and Aisle leave the apartment to a packed street of Hobokenites out on the first blooming spring day after a long cold winter, where they run into Kristen. They take the PATH train to New York City to his sister’s loft which is adorned with furniture she has designed and made herself. His sister is hosting a going away party for herself. Lou finds himself on what he describes as the only deck in Manhattan when seemingly out of nowhere Marissa appears as he is staring up at the night smog. He finds himself continuing the party with Marissa and friends in tow at a local bar, until he wakes up at Kristen’s apartment, not entirely sure how he got there.

The next morning he's back on the subway to his apartment as quickly as he can. At his apartment he is woken up by Aisle and VanNeece with drugs and booze and a full day’s schedule of partying. They start at a brunch place blocks from his apartment that Lou hates but the girls they meet up with love. Carrie and Bailey are long time friends and they take the bar tour of Hoboken together. Saturdays are for boozing but as the night ends, many drugs and drinks later, Lou finds himself following a mirage of Marissa back to his bed, all alone.

Sunday is a day for healing and self-loathing. He doesn’t want to get out of his bed and the majority of the day takes place inside of screens. Phones, TV’s, computer searches for Marissa - anything to distract from the pain. He remembers that with his sister on her way to London he must go to his parents for Sunday dinner. A tradition which he has skirted as much as humanly possible. The house is a half hour outside of Hoboken in the suburbs. The house smells of food and childhood which are repulsive to the hungover Lou. His favorite home cooked dish, ropa vieja, is pushed around the plate. He vows to take the night off from drinking and tries his best to enjoy his parent’s company but his dad reminds him that he looks like shit as often as he can. His mom begs him to stay the night when he gets a text from Kristen, that she’s at a bar in Hoboken, and he can’t resist. His vow of sobriety lasts all of one hour.

            He wakes up with Kristen leaving his apartment and realizes it’s Monday, time for work. His drive to work consists of cigarettes and the off thought of turning his wheel into oncoming traffic. The office is drab, gray, ugly. He compares it to a prison. For a company that makes phone apps the office is as high tech as a cassette tape. His day consists of more internet Marissa searches, lunch, and a yearning to return to his apartment. Finally at his apartment in sweatpants, eating a pizza all to himself he gets a call from Carrey. She needs a drinking buddy and who better than Lou himself. He’s not excited about the prospect but it is his job. The fun one. They head to an upscale bar in the northern section of Hoboken. The bar is filled with the types of people he never wants to be. Tie wearing, bun having, workaholics. Carrey couldn’t disagree more. These were the people who had their shit together.

            Tuesday, the worst day in the week. He intends to do nothing again but this time it’s VanNeece and Aisle who need companionship in New York City. Why not? They end up at a high-rise rooftop bar that VanNeece suggested. VanNeece works on Wall Street and the scene is a little uppity for Lou. Though the views of the city are astonishing from 80 floors up Lou can barely see as he’s drunk himself into a stupor, quickly. He leaves the rooftop bar unannounced and stumbles towards the closest pizza place he can find. Attempting to sober up on a few slices Marissa, the Marissa, shows up outside the window. Marissa takes him to an underground Cuban club that’s filled with old men in guayaberas, fedoras, a live band, and of all things Marissa’s father.

            He wakes up in his apartment, alone, hungover. No Marissa but this time a phone number is written on a piece of paper. He returns to work on Wednesday with a new attitude, almost oblivious of his hangover. He leaves work Wednesday with the fullest intentions of staying in when his friends check on him after his disappearance the night before. They want to hear what happened and are at a bar on the waterfront in Hoboken. Lou decides to go for one drink, and runs into Brian, his ex-best-friend who is celebrating his engagement. This drives Lou to have one too many and walk to the strip club where he is convinced Brian’s fiancé had worked. He gets a few lap dances, quizzing the girls. He finds himself passed out on his own couch as the sun rises.

            Thursday he shows up for work worse than ever. He has lost the number somewhere between the bar and the strip club and his week of drinking and snorting is catching up with him. His boss asks him to leave and he goes back to his apartment and decides to do the thing he knows best…start drinking. This last day takes him drunk and stumbling from his apartment to the strip club back to his sister’s apartment, retracing his steps from the week past in search for Marissa.

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First Assignment  -  Story statement

Liv must discover her identity and her life's purpose. She rejects the idea that she should marry and settle down and seeks adventure and the pursuit of her destiny instead. She dreams of becoming a writer, but she must find faith in herself and believe in her dreams.  

Second Assignment -  The antagonist. 

Rob Robertson is a demon and has joined forces in the rebellion against God. He was born in Bristol, England, and is the sixth son of a family of six boys, just like his father and father before him. He has a dark and twisted soul. His great-grandfather Robert Snooks, a notorious Highwayman, roamed the King's Highway from Bath to Stroud through Petty France, robbing the wealthy of their valuables. Snooks was the last Highwayman hanged in England at Gloucester Gaol in 1802.  

A charismatic salesman, he claims to be smitten with Liv when he sees her crossing the King's Highway and entering Bodkin House. Set in the present day, he enters the Inn suited and booted, under the pretence of looking for work; he discovers she is the Innkeeper's daughter. Rob has come from a less privileged background. He sees life as having limited options.

He sees an opportunity in Liv, a desirable young woman and the daughter of the wealthy Innkeeper. With the gift of the gab, he sets out to charm his way into her life. Bitter and angry by the privilege not received at birth, he seeks ways to compensate. Liv and her family are his next target.   His goal is to seduce Liv and take over the Coaching Inn. When Liv rejects his advances, he seeks revenge. 

Third Assignment - Breakout Title

The Innkeeper’s Daughter

The Ghosts of Bodkin House

The Petty France Diaries

Fourth Assignment - Comparable

Genre - Fantasy Fiction.

First Comparable A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness  

Liv is possibly a witch and has always sensed that she is different. She wonders why she fights demons in her dreams and has strong premonitions. Like Diana in The Discovery of Witches, who is a  good witch but denies her powers, Liv is unaware of her full abilities. Although she has supernatural powers, including prophetic visions,  extrasensory perception, and being in touch with the spirit world, she does not fully understand or know what to do with them. Unsure who and what she is, her goal is to discover her true identity.

She dreams of being a writer but does not believe in herself. She would like to write a literary classic; however, her teachers at school told her to be more realistic. Her core wound is low self-esteem and her rejection from her siblings. Growing up, Liv, bullied by her siblings, felt excluded and denied because they did not understand and feared her powers. Diana rejects her heritage in a Discovery of Witches when humans kill her parents because of their powers; she struggles with her identity as a witch, having suffered loss at such a young age. 

Similarly to Diana, who has become a palimpsest for the Book of Life, Liv's destiny is to channel information in her novel to heal and give strength to humanity during dark times. She, like Diana, must also fight her opponents in the form of warlocks, vampires, and demons who recognise she is a mighty being with secret knowledge. The difference being instead of Oxford, the setting is Bristol, and rather than the library, it is in the underworld of Night Clubs. Liv's enemy, a 17th Century Warlock, wants her powers, and to prevent her from fulfilling her destiny, he uses demons to pursue her fervently in a battle of good versus evil. While on holiday in Ibiza, Liv receives a vision from Es Vedra, the mystical rock, and discovers her mission on Earth.   She is a guardian of the light and the key to bringing peace to humanity. However, she must travel the world and find love to ignite her true potential. Her magic powers, if harnessed, will enable her to succeed and overcome her opponents who want to destroy her and stop her from fulfilling her mission. She must master her powers to defeat her enemies and escape the Warlock's Coven travelling to Australia to find 'the one.' 

The Highwayman is a love story with a twist. Rob Robertson is the Highwayman, and like the 'thief, he comes only to steal, kill and destroy.' John 10:10. The Ghosts of Bodkin House warn her of this. Her acute sixth sense, and her spirit guides, all warn her that he will darken the doors of Bodkin and, when he arrives, to be aware of his intent. When he starts working at the Inn, he claims to be in love with her. He introduces her to a nightclub manager, and she is very attracted to the dangerous gangster who turns out to be a vampire; when his guard dog, a vicious rottweiler, protects her, he realises he must do the same. In a Discovery of Witches, Diana also has a relationship with a vampire, who ensures her safety amongst creatures with a keen interest in the knowledge in the Book of Life. Liv connects with animals; unbeknown to her, she has authority over the spirit world, for she has the ring of Solomon, a ring given to Solomon by the Archangel Michael to command the supernatural. She also has the mystic cross, representing deep knowledge of mysticism. 

Diana's weakness in A Discovery of Witches is limited powers. Her parents spellbind her to prevent her from being targeted by other creatures, and her powers are restricted. On the other hand, Liv becomes under the spell of the Warlock, who wants to steal her powers. Both characters discover this through the power of precognition, having dream premonitions.   Liv's weaknesses include alcoholism, promiscuous behaviour, drug taking, and nocturnal party animal behaviour.   To fulfil her destiny, Liv must master her weaknesses and gifts, just as Diana must master her powers.

Second Comparable - Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh meets The Matrix.

Like Renton in Trainspotting, Liv has a choice between her addictions and love of partying and choosing life and her destiny.   They share the same core wound of low self-esteem and escaping reality through drugs. Both stories unfold in various clubs and drug dens. Like Renton, Liv must also overcome the environment, the Warlocks coven she has found herself in. Music and the club culture play a crucial role in telling both stories, with the Warlock masquerading as a music producer and DJ. Both protagonists reject societal norms. Renton deviates from society's expectations by becoming a drug addict. Liv rejects the notion that she should marry and settle down by partying.   Both characters are intolerant of modern life attitudes; they are intelligent and seek a new fascinating universe through escapism. The theme in Trainspotting is that the purpose of life is pleasure, while Liv in The Highwayman seeks the meaning of life and that which will bring her happiness. Liv's partying takes her on adventures deep within Bristol's club scene, where she meets and is extremely physically attracted to a club owner in Bristol's underworld.   The similarities with Trainspotting are the non-stop partying, addiction, and mental health issues. 

Both stories have extremely varied scenes and explore the concept of the reality of an alternate world. Renton creates a powerful universe with the toilet scene and retrieving his two suppositories. Liv has an altered reality through a dream world where she fights demons. Both characters deal with anxiety and depression and refuse to accept reality as it is. To the point, Liv dances with insanity as a defence mechanism against the danger around her. They embark on journeys into dark and dangerous situations, exploring the violence and corruption associated with the underworld with dark humour and relying on their instincts to survive.

Like Neo in The Matrix, Liv has a special life purpose that unfolds over the three books. Both stories encompass action, adventure, and fantasy, and the protagonists have a mission to save humanity and give hope during challenging times. Liv shares Neo's fighting abilities when she fights demons in her alternative reality; she can slow down time, bounce off walls, and master gravity-defying leaps and artful dodging. They both play a significant part in the fight between good and evil. To do so, they must believe in themselves to fulfil their appointed task. Liv, like Neo, doubts her mission until she accumulates experience and belief. They both refer to an Oracle for information on the situation and their journey. Each story explores being ‘the one’ and finding ‘the one,' their true soul mate, to fulfil their destiny.

The warlock's coven and the demons that pursue Liv represent Agent Smith and the Matrix. She must outsmart them to develop her skills to defeat them to fulfil her destiny. Like Neo, she realises she has taken the red pill, and there is no going back; It is impossible to forget what she has seen.

Fifth Assignment - Hook line

When an Innkeeper's daughter, in search of her identity, meets a mesmerising stranger, her world is turned upside down into a world of vampires, demons, and warlocks, where she discovers she has supernatural powers and must learn how to use them, to defeat her enemies. 

Sixth Assignment 

Sketch the inner conflict of the protagonist. Why are they in turmoil, conflicted, and anxious?

Trigger and reaction 

Liv is keen to make her mark in the world. She feels she is not enough and needs to prove herself as an individual rather than a daughter, girlfriend, sister, or wife.   She must figure out how and is determined to pursue her dream of becoming a writer when she meets a world-famous Chef at her family's Coaching Inn. However, she suffers from low self-esteem and self-doubt.

She has always felt that she was different and never really fit in, rejected by her siblings who bullied her and feared her powers. She is fascinated when the spirit world warns her about her meeting with Rob Robertson. However, when he comes into the Inn, she is triggered and gets a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, sensing the anger and bitterness in his eyes. She acknowledges that there is something sinister about him. Realising it's challenging to get staff in hospitality, her father wants to give him a chance and offers him the job, taking over from Liv so that she can pursue her project and renovate a house she has just bought. 

The day before he starts work, a stranger comes in for Sunday lunch and, at the end of his meal, warns her father about Rob. Liv feels responsible and protective of her family, and when he begins working at the Inn, she vows to get to know him better. In the spirit of keeping one's enemies closer, she agrees to go out with him after work with her colleagues. He introduces her to a club manager, Harry, in the inner city of Bristol, and the two have intense chemistry.   The following week, she returns to the club to meet with Harry, find out more about Rob, and pursue a passionate attraction with him. A non-gratuitous night of passion later ensues. She realises all is not as it seems, and he appears to be a vampire; she is unsure what she has got herself involved in.  

The secondary conflict is when she appears to be rejected by Harry after the encounter. She has more questions than answers. She wants to put on club nights in Bristol to gain his respect. However, she is in unfamiliar territory and surrounded by people, not on her side, making her more determined to succeed. She meets some DJ's at a Club and inadvertently stumbles into a warlock's coven. Her environment is full of danger,  gangsters, partying, and drugs; when a couple from the coven move into her home, her life becomes stranger than fiction. 

Seventh Assignment 

Setting: Sketch out your settings in detail. 

The first setting is Bodkin House, a 17th Century Coaching Inn and former 12th Century Priory. On the edge of the Badminton Estate in Petty France, England, once part of the Duke of Beaufort Estate, is a Grade 11 listed building. The Coaching Inn is where Jane Austen penned her first novel, Northanger Abbey, in 1794.   She mentions her visit to the Petty France Inn in Chapter V. She talks about a tedious two-hour wait in Petty France as the ensemble travel from Bath to Northanger Abbey, stopping off at the Coaching Inn for sustenance. 

36 Armoury Square - Easton, Bristol, England. After a recent breakup, Liv is trying to find her purpose and is working and living at the Inn as a Front-of-House Supervisor. She is waiting to purchase 36 Armoury Square, a property in Easton, to renovate. Easton is a colourful and vibrant part of Bristol, where the street artist Banksy began to leave his mark. When the house sale goes through, Liv moves to 36 Armoury Square, just off Stapleton Road in Easton, known as the most dangerous street in Europe, to renovate the 3-bedroom house. Armoury Square also has historical relevance, and during the French Revolution, it stored guns to prepare for a planned invasion of the French. However, the impending attack on Bristol didn't happen due to the wind that saw the French sailors land at Fishguard in Wales instead of Bristol's Avon port. Supernatural forces protect the Square. There is also a very charismatic pub in the Square where a scene plays out with Liv, Dotty, a server at the hotel, and Rob Robertson when he shows up uninvited in the pub. 

After work, Liv and Dotty have a few drinks at Armoury Square. When Rob comes over, they visit various bars around town. Walking down the street, they look like Quentin Tarantino's Movie Reservoir Dogs characters. Finally, they end up at the underground nightclub, The Majestic. Rob introduces Liv to Harry, the club manager and acquaintance of his. 

Liv and Dotty return to the club. After a few visits, Liv and Harry have a hedonistic weekend in the club, which involves lots of drug-taking and sex. During the weekend, she has reason to believe Harry is a vampire when his eyes change colour and shape. Liv is not sure whether it is the drugs or not.   The night after the affair, Liv dances on the stage at the club to Tiesto Silence before she leaves and goes home.

Bodkin House -  After the Sunday lunch shift the weekend of the encounter. Liv looks out the window and sees Rob driving out of the car park with great speed and purpose. She gets a bad feeling, and heavy black clouds appear in the sky.   She senses that Rob Roberston is going to see Harry. 

Traditional English pub in Clifton Bristol - Liv is out for lunch with a friend sitting outside in the sunshine. She tells her about the weekend spent with Harry with all the details. She texts Harry, and then he calls her immediately; he reveals that he is still with his girlfriend. Liv tries to hide how she feels despite being gutted. Liv and the friend continue drinking and then end up in a lounge bar in Clifton. Afterwards, Liv gets a taxi home, and Brittney Spears' Toxic plays in the cab. 

Bodkin House Hotel - Liv and Rob look after the hotel when her parents go overseas for her brothers' wedding in Melbourne. Mother's Day is one of the busiest days, and it dawns on Liv during service that her premonition dream was about Rob Roberston. She realises her spirit guides warned her about him, a devil in disguise.

Botanical Gardens Melbourne - Liv travels to Melbourne, Australia, and joins her brother's wedding party. The wedding takes place in the Botanical Gardens. 

The wedding reception is in a beautiful conference marquee. Her brother's father-in-law announces during the wedding speech that Liv is single and looking for a partner, much to her embarrassment.

Hotel in St. Kilda Melbourne - Rob Roberston calls Liv in her hotel room after the reception. At a low ebb after the humiliation of the brother's father-in-law's speech, she agrees to go out with him when she returns from her trip.

TGI Fridays Bristol - When Liv returns from Melbourne, she goes out for lunch with Rob Robertson at TGI Fridays. As they get out of the car, the song, Stuck in the Middle by Steelers Wheel is playing on the outside restaurant speaker.   They both take a moment and dance by the vehicle before entering the restaurant—an ode to Reservoir dogs.

The Avon Gorge Hotel looks out to the famous Bristol Suspension Bridge. The work colleagues go for a drink after the police arrest Rob Robertson on their way there in the car for a driving violation; he spends the night in the police station. Liv picks Rob up from Trinity police station Easton the following morning before going to work.

Council flat in the Easton to pick up some weed.   As they enter the flat, The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil plays from one of the flats as they go upstairs.   Inside the flat, they meet an associate of Rob Robertson and a massive serrated machete just brought back from Mexico, designed to pull the guts out of anyone it stabs.   Rob picks up and examines the machete, commenting that it is a lovely piece of equipment before putting it aside and sitting on the sofa.

Snooker Hall in Easton to collect some weed late one evening. Underneath the tables, everyone working there has machine guns and thinks Liv is a Superintendent.   Once they assure the crew she is not, they purchase weed and smoke it. 

Greasy Spoon cafe in Easton, where Liv tells Rob Roberston their relationship will not go any further after he wants to take her to Amsterdam for her birthday. Later, when he drops her off after work at 36 Armoury Square, he warns her that he will no longer play nicely and threatens her that she will never be happy. 

Level Nightclub -  After Liv's 30th birthday at the Level nightclub, Liv and Dotty meet a couple of DJ's and are invited to an after-party. They end up at St Andrew's Park at sunrise. Symbolically, the music producer/warlock asks Liv to buy some apples from the shop.

.Liv becomes involved in events and puts on a night at one of the clubs in Bristol within the gay community. She is involved in many different parties at different locations, which includes lots of drug taking.   She meets a bongo player at one of the parties, and he and his girlfriend move into 36 Armoury Square. Life starts to get strange; Liv begins to have disturbing dreams.   The spirit world tells her she has had a spell put on her; Liv is uncertain who has done so. She thinks it might be Rob or the DJ.

To escape the situation, Liv goes on holiday to Ibiza. She receives a vision from the mystical rock of Ibiza - Es Vedra.  She becomes aware of her magical powers.  Ibiza has magnificent sunsets, beaches, and a creative way of life. Liv is dancing in a beach club, and a man dances in front of her with a tattoo on his back, reading," Although I walk in the valley in the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. "   Psalm 23:4.   

While in Ibiza, Liv intuitively activates a protection shield and reflects any dark energy to the sender in the UK. When she returns to 36 Armoury Square, her housemate Bongo Bill looks incredibly ill and blotchy.   She realises he is the one sending dark energy to her. She takes her housemates to Harry's Club. Harry is there and very flirtatious with her. She does not respond to his advances. Bongo Bill acknowledges the relationship with Harry, who is physically strong. A few days later, she gives tenants two months' notice to move out.   

Liv distances herself from the coven and gets her affairs together to go to Australia. Her ex-partner visits her in Bristol, and they go out. Unintentionally they end up at a venue with the coven. A week later, she gets an anonymous invite to a club night. When she arrives, the penultimate scene is in a new club in Bristol, where Harry appears arm in arm with a pretty girl in an attempt to make Liv jealous. It is the last time she goes clubbing with the coven before she escapes to Australia. 

In the final scene, Liv is looking out to sea on Coogee Beach in Sydney Eastern Suburbs with the song Dance with my ghost by CamelPhat playing in the cafe as she watches the sunset. 


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Story Statement

In the wake of alleged proof that an afterline doesn’t exist, a political divide between two factions threats to turn neighborhoods into foes. Onyi Richards, is a young reporter who has a dramatic fallout with her job before quitting and decides to become a freelancer, mainly following news regarding machine in her local community. Set in Philadelphia, she documents as her community's divide grows deeper and deeper and spirals into violence as the reporting, social media, and a general fear of their neighborhoods reshapes her home. 

The overall goal of the protagonist and the story is to document how this trend has impacted the city as well as broader whole and remain stay to the facts of everything going in, as more and more fake news and warped perception spanned from social media continue to come out. 


This novel has two antagonists which represent the overall themes and general conflict of the novel. 

1. Keith Harris - A middle-aged business owner who son dies in a bombing, caused by a devoted Christian. He becomes jaded and radicalized by this event and ends up linking up with a national anti organizated relegion group which advocates that spiritual beliefs are outdated and society would be better without them. 

2. Pastor Jacob Wright - A middle aged pastor in West Philadelphia who mobilizes not just Christians but everyone in his community into an organization to defend themselves for attacks to their faith, as church, mosques, and other places of worship are defamed and attacked, and eventually goes on the offensive.

Breakout Title


  1. The War of the Frightened 

  2. Between the Known and Unknown 

  3. What if This is Everything We Have?

  4. The Uncertainty of a Godless World

  5. Beliefs into Battles 

  6. Neighbors in War-zones

  7. The Dangers of an Idea

Genre And Comparable Books

My novel fits into the literary fiction genre, given that that is more character and theme centric, rather than led by plot. While it is fully of unexpected moments and does have a plot meant to engage the audience, the overall hook for the audience will the character development and reactions to the overall themes and actions they encounter. 

The comparable books to my novel, whose fans I believe would also be interested in my book, are The Leftovers by  Tom Perrotta , Eleventh Station by Emily St. John Mandel and the Scale by Keith Buckley. 

Hook Line

In an era of confusion and animosity that would come to be known as the Second Enlightenment, a conflicted reporter documents the deterioration of her community into conflicting factions as the world awaits for proof of a divine truth. 


Main Conflict: Following a startling revelation from the TX12, a machine which allegedly disproves an afterlife, people have become a divided over whether or not if works despite. What starts off as news reports, social media posts, podcasts, and other media soon spirals into a wave of violence and political conflicts between two factions, one comprised of those who believe in organized religion and the other, who believe that organized religion is holding society back. 

In the midst of this, the main character, a young journalist, Onyi Richards struggles to try and figure out what type of reporter that she wants to be and what truth even means in a world in which no one can decide what is fact vs feeling. 

Side Conflict: Onyi mother (Ruth) is caught in a bombing at first act of the story. Following this, we learn that they do have a very estranged relationship (which is revealed through the book) due to Ruth essentially giving Onyi anti-depressants for months without knowledge during her senior year of high school. Onyi struggled with intense depression through highschool however never wanted to be medicated, which her father (James) backed her up on. Ruth believed that her daughter needed to be medicated (also due to other family trauma but we’ll get into that) and snuck them into her food without her content. This went on for both before Onyi was hospitalized due to a blood clot that almost killed her. The conflict here will be Onyi struggling to come to terms with the actions of a mother who she never comforted and now can’t and learning to make peace with herself regarding her decisision. 


 The novel is told via the first person point of view of Onyi Richards and will take place of the course of a year and a half. It will be set in present-day Philadelphia and specific settings which the book will include are: 


  • Overbrook: A neigherhood at the very edge of West Philadelphia. This area will be the home of Onyi for the most of the novel, as she moves back in with her father, following losing her job. It’s a quiet residental neighborhood, full of families and small communities. 


  • Fresh Rost Coffee: A coffee shop which Onyi use to work at in college, where she met and became acquainted with her friends, who would go onto become her chosen family. At the beginning of the book, this area is the setting for a bombing which cause an intense personal trauma for Onyi and becomes the linch-pin for the book’s ongoing political feud.


  • The Philadelphia Post: This newsroom is where Onyi works as a young reporter at the beginnin of the book. Following the coffee shop bombing, she quits due to her moral disagreements around how the bombing is being covered by the publication.

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1.      Story statement: Find daughter and escape from Jack.

2.      Antagonist sketch: At a minimum, Jack is a narcissist who, feeling his soul to be connected to some unseen powerful force sets about procuring family members who will be more like pets or slaves than relatives. At maximum, Jack is a psychopathic serial killer who enjoys stalking the family members he has decided to collect as much as he does attaining them. He is an extremely critical, egotistical sort who passes judgement on all of society and the tasks and activities that people partake in.

3.      Breakout title: I stick firm with Special as it becomes clear in the second page this descriptive word has significance to Jack, the antagonist, and when used to describe people is what sets them apart from lesser denizens of the planet.

Listed are two other begrudgingly chosen titles:

The Chosen Ones, Jack’s Special Family

4.      Two comps:

Intensity, Kiss The Girls, These are the two closest that I can think of, and they aren’t very accurate comps. I only add Kiss The Girls because the girls are chosen because of their musical talent which is similar to Jack Cole in my story Special who chooses his captors based on his desire to create his ideal family. The superiority and judgmental attitude of the villain in Intensity and other Dean Koontz villains is also shared by Jack Cole. The supernatural elements of forces connected to Jack and Grizzle (especially Grizzle) as well as the serendipity and synchronicity of certain events during the search for the two women transform what would be a crime thriller into a crime horror.

5.      Hook (logline):

A young widow and her daughter become the newest victims of a deranged man obsessed with creating a family by kidnapping the people he deems Special, while another man, smitten by his one encounter with the woman, attempts to track and free them, with the aid of the woman's best friend and a telepathic dog.

6.      Inner conflict & secondary conflict involving social environment:

The antagonist in Special has an obvious disdain for his fellow man and society in general as well as the certainty that he is a superior being. This was instilled in him by his parents who sometimes still dictate his actions despite the fact that they are dead. Dead by his hands.

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"King of Pantsers"?


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