Who really runs the world? THE ILLUMINATI GARDEN CLUB (64K) begins with SAMANTHA PENDRAGON (17) a girl who longs for a traditional family life, not the free-range Bohemian one her mother, CLAUDIA (36), has created far from their wealthy, estranged family in Savannah. Dad is out of the picture so when Claudia is the victim of a hit and run, Sam has nowhere to turn. Foster care looms imminent until long-lost aunt, CHARLOTTE WESTCOTT(65), appears out of nowhere to save Sam from social services.
Charlotte is everything Sam admires. She's a self-made millionaire, an elegant socialite, and respected by everyone. Sam relocates to Chatham House, the family mansion in Savannah, where she discovers an enchanting world of cotillions, and what it means to be part of a powerful, Southern family. Dreams become reality with instant popularity at Sam's new prep school, the promise of her dream college, and a fledgling relationship with the perfect boy. Why would Mom want to leave all this? Life is as sweeter than a fresh-picked peach until things start to take a strange, and dark turn.
Slowly, Sam begins to discover the sinister truth behind her family's riches, and the real reason Mom ran away. But the clock is ticking as Charlotte's garden club declares Sam the Foxglove Queen for a clandestine Spring ceremony. Using Savannah's storied tunnels, and dark alleys; and with the help of an unlikely ally, can Sam escape the terror Charlotte's friends have in store for her, or will she end up a monster just like them?
On its surface, THE ILLUMINATI GARDEN CLUB is a Southern Psychological Thriller blending suspense with a dark family secret. Every element of IGC story is drawn from real happenings throughout history. Furthermore, at the heart of my story is a social commentary that explores the role of older women in society, and defining 'family' today.
Please find below a sample of my MS. Thanks for taking a peek. I know you are hard pressed for time. I truly appreciate yours.
THE FIRST 250:
I’m standing there reflecting over the past year of my life. Never mind that the standing is more like kneeling, and the reflection is quite literally in a pool of blood. My head is starting to spin as I realize what I’ve just done. And what I have to do next.
It isn’t as if I have a choice. The wheels are in motion; the ritual begun. According to the rite, if I don’t go through with this, what they call the End of Days will begin, as in fire and brimstone. Believe me, I know how this sounds, but if you’d seen what I have in the past year, you’d be a believer too.
From the small cellar window I could see the Equinox moon rising. There wasn’t much time left. I had to hurry.
The Order had been comprised of eight people. I was to be the ninth. Now I was the last one standing, and I had to finish the ceremony alone. Only then could I clean up the grisly mess all around me. You know how people jokingly say, ‘I threw up a little in my mouth’? Well, I just did.
The signs were everywhere that something wasn’t right, but instead of listening to that little voice inside me, I just took what I wanted. The money. The attention. The parties. The power. The more I got, the more I craved. I was becoming one of them, and I didn’t even realize it. By the time I figured out what was happening it was too late. Now, I have blood on my hands, literally. Lady Macbeth’s not nothin' on me.
Each November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo (nano-ry-mo). The national "competition" is a personal challenge for budding authors everywhere to complete their manuscript, whether it be the implied novel, or memoir. And while there are badges, and honors awarded, you aren't entering a traditional contest, nor are you cheating any people- NaNoWriMo participants challenge only themselves.
NaNo was born from the desire to get everyone who says they can write a book to actually do it. From its humble beginnings with only 21 participants in 1999 writer Chris Baty's brainchild has grown into a creative writing community supporting (arguably) more than a million participants. And Baty's project works! There are no less than a dozen popular books, and best sellers that originated from NaNoWriMo. In fact, self-publishing's Big Kahuna, Hugh Howey, completed the first draft of his mega-hit WOOL using NaNo. The novel, and Mr. Howey's subsequent work has made him a millionaire, and WOOL has been optioned by Hollywood-great Ridley Scott for theatrical rights.
So if the competition works, then why on Earth would I cheat, let alone do it so proudly? After all, I'm a fan of the annual event. Well, after having participated in NaNo three times now, I have found that what I end up with is indeed a completed manuscript. It's just a really really really bad one replete with typos, unintentional red herrings, and plot holes. Furthermore, I've found that I end up taking longer to hunt for, and fix mistakes I would never have made in the first place if I weren't in a rush to get 50,000 words on the page in 30 days.
So this year I decided to try something. I'd cheat!
I had been wanting to retell a classic story for some time. I believe that like all the great Shakespeare retellings, and others like Pride, Prejudice & Zombies, and Cinder- this was my opportunity to bring a great story to people who may be intimidated by antiquated diction, and unrelatable fatal diseases. This was my opportunity to record my idea in a short period of time. But to reread the lengthy book (did I mention the antiquated diction??), take copious notes, and change names, places, events & even plot lines to fit this century in 30 days would be next to impossible. By sourcing public domain material, I cut & paste chapters from the original (well over 200 years old, thank you very much) into my document. From there the fun began. I was able to rewrite each chapter chronologically in a new time and place with updated, and composite characters. One thing I've learned during this experiment is that the Victorian era mentioned everyone, and their cousin, in the ballroom!
Now, more than 20 chapters in, I feel great about following the blueprint of my source material. My new version also contains notes on how I can deviate from antiquated plots, edit or shorten otherwise bland scenes, and still come back to the mainline. Best of all, I was reminded of quotes, trivial happenings, and nuggets that made the original so great, and drop those into my new story as easter eggs for the savvy reader to find.
At the end of the month, I'll simply delete all of the borrowed source material, leaving only my revision. From there, I can also tweak the ending, or plot to better suit savvy readers like yourself. Granted, I know after that's done, I'm certain to have fewer than the 50,000 words that NaNoWriMo defines as a novel, but I'm guaranteed a clear outline for my next completed novel.
What are you writing?