Highlight Real: Finding Honesty & Recovery Beyond The Filtered Life.

Emily Lynn Paulson

Book Cover



    Core Theme



    1980s & '90s,2000s











    Highlight Real: Finding Honesty and Recovery Behind the Filtered Life is the true story of what happens when a so-called perfect mother and businesswoman is forced to find reckoning with her past and build a future based on the authenticity she has always sought.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Female Leaning,Universal


    Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, California, Washington State

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Launch Pad Publishing

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    A traumatic experience in childhood leads Emily down a path of self-medication, destruction, and self- sabotage. With Social Media, she figured out how to make the picture look even better--with a successful husband, five beautiful children, and all the required accompanying accoutrements.

    Ending Description

    Behind the filtered façade was a reality filled with trauma, addiction, and dysfunctional behavior. Emily knew things had to change when she woke up one morning and realized that she was barely participating in the picture she had so carefully crafted.

    Group Specific

    women in recovery

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Sexual Abuse,Substance Abuse, Language/Profanity,Extreme Violence

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Happy Ending

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth

    Main Character Details

    Name: Emily

    Age: 8-40

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Secretive,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kale

    Age: 20-40

    Gender: Male

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Strong Moral Code,Honorable

    Additional Character Details

    Name: erin

    Age: 30

    Gender: Female

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Honorable,Empathetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Evan

    Age: 20

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous

    Development Pitch




    Raped at age 12, Emily responds to the trauma by getting addicted to lies and alcohol. After 25 years of bad decisions and severe consequences, she accepts she needs help, and it is through a courageous path of self-healing that Emmy confronts her wounds and finds her long lost self-love.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: EXCELLENT

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: EXCELLENT

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: EXCELLENT

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The book profile could improve by removing 'crime' as a genre, and adding, in the short summary, that the traumatic experience is related to sexual abuse, as this not only shapes the story's theme but also highlights the narrative relevance in the current market place.

    Draw of Story

    The inner thoughts and the decision-making process of a sexual abuse victim, as well as the importance of bringing light to the victims' narrative within the rape culture.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Not personally, but the story's heavy content needs to be clear to the consumer.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    As a woman, the relatability of the experience; but I believe the honesty within the hardships, mistakes, and lessons learned can attract all genders.

    Fanbase Potential

    I believe this story can attract and touch a lot of people, especially women, and be the center of discussions about the rape culture.

    Awards Potential

    Yes, mostly because of the relevance of the theme, but also due to the honesty within the journey.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    The narrator's honest understanding of her own psyche.

    Lead Characters

    Even though it was fighting against chemically induced and psychologically enforced damage, Emily's self-love never gave up completely. Kale's selflessness and empathy towards Emily.

    Uniqueness of Story

    I think this is a rare gem, mostly because of the story's truthness and the character's success in finding self-redemption.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation



    Because it's an important topic to be acknowledged and discussed by everyone, and it can help wounded people to find company in their painful journeys and encounter their own cure.


    The true story of what happens when a so-called perfect mother and businesswoman is forced to find reckoning with her past and build a future based on the authenticity she has always sought. The past Emmy needs to confront is of sexual abuse because it's not only the core of what triggers her destructive behavior, but part of the problem is society's inability to openly discuss it.

    What We Liked

    - The story is not only interesting, but it is also necessary. It talks about an ugly truth: rape is not only present in our culture, but our incapability of admitting the problem and embracing the victims is just as abusive. It's hard to see the ugly truth laid out in front of our eyes, but it's rewarding to learn about someone who was courageous and strong enough to identify the wound and heal. Its message is encouraging to so many others with similar past, and it's eye-opening to those who are still unaware.
    - Key points: Relevant thematic; Based on a true story; The happy ending; Relatable and smart protagonist; It can help others in similar situations;


    Emily's life is as normal as any girl's in Montana: she lives with her parents and older brother, goes to school and has friends, and plays the flute. But one summer, at music camp, when she's only 12, Emmy is sexually abused by a grown-up camp counselor. Afraid she'll get hurt if she tells the truth, ashamed of what happened, and not wanting to make her parents feel guilty, Emmy decides to never tell anyone her terrible secret.

    But the weight of hiding such a thing changes her. Having gone through puberty, Emmy begins to attract the schoolboys' attention and soon she begins to date. Associating her social status to her beauty, Emily develops an eating disorder. In High School, Emily is introduced to drinking and sex and soon starts to abuse them. She becomes a social pariah after sleeping with multiple boys, including her friends' boyfriends, and only settles down when she meets Craig, her first boyfriend. She graduates school with success but in college, and away from Craig, Emmy relapses into hard drinking and partying. Constantly getting drunk and blacking-out, Emmy gets caught stealing from the clothing store she works at and gets arrested. Isolated from her friends once more, Emmy gets involved in an unhealthy sexual relationship with two friends, and when another student rapes her, she decides to move away to California and start fresh.

    Emily's new beginning fails when she meets and dates rich guy Julian, and soon partying, drinking, and now drug use becomes her routine. Emily hides her eating disorder from everyone, but her unhealthy lifestyle takes its toll; she develops an autoimmune disease but doesn't take the medication properly because it makes her gain weight. After she is caught in her lies, she, again, loses her group of friends and gets involved with a married teacher's assistant. Constantly drunk and severely underweight, Emily is taken by her sorority sisters to a clinic and her parents are called. To the doctor, Emmy admits to having been sexually abused but denies talking about it. Convinced by her parents, she moves back to their house, now in Oregon, and starts over again, this time with therapy. Doing much better, Emmy finishes school, gets a job, and eventually moves to Portland, where she meets Kale. They fall in love and begin a relationship; ashamed of her past and haunted by the fear that Kale is too good for her, Emily hides everything from him; they get pregnant with the first of five kids. On antidepressant medication, and unable to drink because of the pregnancies, Emmy gets her life under control. She befriends Erin, another mom who becomes Emily's confidant and to whom she finally admits to having been raped. Things seem to go well for the couple, especially online where Emmy pretends to have a perfect life, until Emmy starts drinking again; to make things worse, Erin dies of cancer. With the alcohol, the partying lifestyle comes back too, and, with Kale constantly working late hours, Emily begins an affair. Kale finds out and to save their marriage, they begin marriage counseling. On therapy and on the verge of losing Kale, Emily finally admits to her whole past but still denies connecting her bad-decision making to alcohol consumption and when she fails again to be ""normal"", she attempts to end her life but Kale calls 911 on time. On her path to recovering, Emily finally realizes the alcoholism she was so intently denying has pulled her out of her husband's and children's life and if she doesn't change, they will move on without her. So Emily accepts she needs to heal.

    Emily courageously faces her past, joins AA, and seeks sobriety; by addressing her past wounds, she begins to self-heal, reconnects with her family, and reencounters her long-lost self-respect and love. Emily shares her true story on social media and becomes an inspiration to her community and the world.

    About The Author

    Emily Lynn Paulson writes her own story with deep honesty and her technical knowledge of sexual abuse, eating disorder, and alcoholism gives the context foundation and credibility. The way she depicts her own experience paints a clear image in the reader's head, allowing the book to be easily adapted to a visual platform.