Joanna Neff 1483484627003


1940s & '50s

Jo Déniau (Pseudonym)

  • -
  • Views


Other refugees in 1949 Greenwich Village open the heart of a repressed Missouri girl, who hopes she's escaped her mother's toxic grip.


Drama,Mystery,Historical Fiction,Romance,Other

Short Summary

PART 1 – [Flash forward] November 1949: in Harry’s Bar, Gillian’s Latvian lover, Jānis, shares his traumatic wartime history. Jānis details the ritual of drinking absinthe. [Flashback] May 1949: In the bar, Gillian meets the handsome Latvian, and her friend Dolores seems to be jealous.

In the Missouri Ozarks, Hannah’s shocking claim provokes Gillian to shatter her mother’s image in the mirror, ending Hannah's violent legacy. Gillian returns to New York, where she receives her dead lover's sword and enjoys a wacky celebration with her friends in Harry's Bar.


Greenwich Village, New York; Poplar Bluff, Missouri

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Voyage and Return,Other

Plot - Other Elements

Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Other

Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details


Age: 20

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Aspiring,Complex,Empathetic,Engaging,Insecure,Sexy,Romantic,Secretive

Additional Character Details

Name: Jānis Dieviņš

Age: 28

Gender: Male

Role: Emotional

Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Leader,Masculine,Sexy,Patriotic,Skillful,Visionary,Secretive,Seductive,Sophisticated,Unapologetic

Additional Character Details

Name: Dolores Valencia

Age: 25

Gender: Female

Role: sidekick

Key Traits: Confident,Engaging,Sexy,Outspoken,Funny,Sophisticated

Additional Character Details

Name: Hannah Rysert

Age: 48

Gender: Female

Role: antagonist

Key Traits: Aggressive,Villainous,Narcisstic,Uneducated,Religious,Blunt,Power Hungry,Sarcastic,Manipulative,Unapologetic

Development Pitch

It’s Greenwich Village, New York, in 1949. Twenty-year-old bar maid Gillian Rysert believes she’s escaped her hillbilly mother’s legacy: some extreme physical code or language of survival transmitted by the blow of a fist on someone’s jaw or the boom of a gun firing far away in the woods. So far, Gillian’s reserve has shielded her—from anyone who is not her late father. But now Gillian’s surrounded by other Village incomers suffering the aftermath of two World Wars, and they embolden her stiff heart to open. Among them: a Latvian freedom fighter, a Latina sophisticate, and a Polish Jew. Authentic relationship with these characters packs some risks though. Gillian could become collateral damage to her lover’s anti-Communist mission, destroy herself before she can stand fully in her power, and perish in the trap her mother sets for her back in Missouri. STIFF HEARTS is a cross-genre book, complete at 83,000 words. This novel was inspired by my mother’s exploits and mishaps in early 1950s Greenwich Village.

About The Author

Ms. Déniau studied fiction writing with short-story writer/novelist Mary Robison in the Graduate Writing Program at Ohio University (Athens). As a Graduate Associate at OU, Ms. Déniau also taught literature, and after receiving her M.A. in Creative Writing and English, she taught literature and composition part-time at Temple University (Philadelphia) and at the University of Colorado (Colorado Springs). During the fourteen years before entering Ohio University, Ms. Déniau earned a B.A. in English at Butler University (Indianapolis) and served on the editorial staffs of three National magazines—one of which printed a number of her short feature articles. While Ms. Déniau worked full-time in the Philadelphia area, hery free-lance theater and music reviews appeared in a local suburban newspaper.

Target Audiences

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

Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning,Other

Group Specific

Information not completed

Publishing Details

Status: No

Hard Copy Available



Information not completed