Believe! - A Woman's Odyssey Through Grief and Loss

Lisa Nicks-Balthasar

Book Cover

GENRE

MEMOIR ADVENTURE EPIC EROTICA FUNNY ROMANCE DRAMA

    Core Theme

    LOVE, REBIRTH

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s,1980s & '90s,2000s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    EAT, PRAY, LOVE, P.S. I LOVE YOU

    CHARACTER LIST

    • LISA: 45+. LEAD. DETERMINED, ALTRUISTIC, AND HOPEFUL.

    • KEITH: 40S. LISA'S HUSBAND WHOSE DEATH UPENDS HER LIFE AND LEADS TO HER JOURNEY.

    • CHRIS: UNKNOWN. LISA'S FATED LOVE INTEREST WHO BECOMES HER SECOND HUSBAND.

    • TOM: 40S. LISA'S FIRST MAJOR RELATIONSHIP AFTER KEITH THAT ENDS IN BETRAY.

    • IRENE: 20S. LISA'S FRIEND WHO COMES TO BURNING MAN WITH HER.

    • SUSI: 40S. LISA'S LOYAL SISTER WHO HAS VISIONS.

    Logline

    When Lisa’s life is shattered by the death of her high-school sweetheart and husband, and then a terrible betrayal, she embarks on a spiritual and sexual odyssey of awakening that culminates in real-life miracle in front of a mystical temple in the desert.“Eat, Pray, Love goes to Burning Man.”

    Target Audiences

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

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning

    Setting

    Monterey, California, Europe (Paris, Cinque Terre, Venice, Burning Man (Black Rock Desert) Big Sur, California

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Black Rose Writing

    Year Published: Release date January 14, 2020

    Starting Description

    Believe! begins as a classic All-American love story. Keith and Lisa, cheerleader meets football player, born on the same day, soulmates at birth. Twenty-seven years later, Keith's death sends Lisa spiraling on a path of depression and discovery, loss and betrayal, sexual and spiritual awakening.

    Ending Description

    Throughout her years of grief Lisa held onto hope by lighting a candle bearing the words, "Discovery of a Soulmate." When her unique spiritual odyssey leads her to Burning Man, a stranger’s benign first kiss has a powerful effect on her. Miraculously, he emerges as the maker of the candle!

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message,Happy Ending,Twist,Philosophical Questions

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy,Quest

    Main Character Details

    Name: Lisa

    Age: From 16 to 54

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Complex,Confident,Engaging,Empathetic,Faithful,Flexible,Desperate,Seductive,Romantic,Visionary,Funny,Sexy,Skillful,Secretive,Heroic,Naive,Honorable

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Keith (Lisa's high school sweetheart and husband who dies too young)

    Age: 16 to 42

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Badass,Complex,Confident,Empathetic,Engaging,Heartthrob,Romantic,Funny,Skillful,Sexy,Masculine,Modest,Leader,Honorable,Educated,Heroic,Gracious,Flexible,Aspiring

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Tom - Lisa's "fiance" after Keith's death, a man who betrays and ruins her.

    Age: 54

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Charming,Complex,Greedy,Educated,Lone Wolf,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Seductive,Secretive,Sarcastic,Funny,Skillful,Outspoken,Blunt,Sexy,Narcisstic,Villainous,Masculine,Aggressive,Crazy,Engaging,Heartthrob,Romantic,Patriotic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Chris - Sir Balto (Lisa's second soulmate, maker of the candle and by the end of the story her second husband)

    Age: 47

    Gender: Male

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Badass,Charming,Complex,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Flexible,Gracious,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Strong Moral Code,Sophisticated,Seductive,Romantic,Funny,Visionary,Selfless,Sexy,Modest,Masculine

    Development Pitch

    Believe! will be an epic film, but with enough juicy details leftover to fill a binge-worthy TV series. Fade in to darkness. A flash, a match lights a red pillar candle on a bedside table. The words, “Discovery of a Soul mate” are illuminated. Lisa whispers, “Please send me someone who can embrace all the love in my heart.” A series of flashbacks replays the memories of Lisa’s classic all-American life. The story plunges into devastation. Code blue sirens in a hospital, a crash cart fails to shock Keith back to life because it’s not plugged in. A fight almost breaks out among the family over his dying body. Eventually, a new love. A prince charming whose dark side emerges later in betrayal; cheating and lies. In anger, he throws her across the bed. Financial ruin follows. Spiraling into depression and drugs, Lisa embarks on a spiritual and sexual odyssey. Online dating. Erotic scenes, powerful, soulful orgasmic healing. The journey leads Lisa to bring Keith’s ashes to the temple at Burning Man. There, she discovers the most mind-blowing miracle of all. The chance kiss of a stranger has a mysterious and enchanting effect. It turns out, he’s the maker of the candle! A Burning Man wedding with a magical pirate ship, fire dancers, a choir, techno violin and sparklers in a dust storm. A story of human spirit. Can we find love again after great loss? Do miracles exist? These questions are beautifully answered, with real-life miracles and profound serendipity woven throughout.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, MATURE AUDIENCE, DRAMA

    Brief

    After the death of her husband, a middle-aged woman seeks to find a way to move past her grief and find her new soulmate. Through a heart-wrenching betrayal that opens her eyes and pushes her further, she finds a new community by opening herself up to her sensuality. She goes to a festival where she finds the man she was meant to meet all along, their love story practically fated.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, it does reflect the book.

    Draw of Story

    Lisa's enduring devotion to her husband as he gets sicker is really impactful. Her love is clear on the page, and it's something she carries with her.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The flashback structure that Part 1 is told in is very confusing and ultimately does not add anything to the story, especially since Lisa is not doing anything of interest in the present. Telling the story linearly would make it flow much better.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The protagonist being an older woman who decides to embrace her sexuality and live freely is very fun and original. It's something that should be celebrated, and it's definitely a draw.

    Fanbase Potential

    If focused around alternative medicine/lifestyles and the inspirational message of seeking a soulmate, it could draw a modest fanbase from that crowd. It could not generate the kind of fanbase something like EAT, PRAY, LOVE has, as there's simply not much plot here by comparison.

    Awards Potential

    Potentially with the right actor cast as Lisa, but it's unlikely as the character unfortunately isn't that meaty of a roll.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    EAT, PRAY, LOVE, P.S. I LOVE YOU

    What’s New About the Story

    Lisa's journey of self-discovery through spirituality and sexual passion is very unique. It's not often that older women are allowed to have this kind of sexuality onscreen, and focusing on her path into embracing a more alternative lifestyle would make it even more original and compelling. There's currently not much that actually happens on the page, and the plot would need to be much more fleshed out as well.

    Lead Characters

    Lisa isn't afraid to admit that her grief crippled her, and that it negatively impacted her young daughters. She is open to owning up to her own mistakes while always remaining positive and seeking to move forward and grow.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It's definitely an original story for its focus on alternative spirituality and sex-positive awareness. Focusing more on these aspects will only improve it, rather than languishing in the grief at the beginning of the story which stretches to nearly 2/3rds of the book.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    There are adjustments that could be made to make this story more commercial and empathetic to an audience. Though the death of Lisa's longtime partner is sad, she is still a woman of means and privilege and this fact is hard to ignore throughout the story. Seeing her struggle more would help to make her grief more palpable to the audience. Her journey of self-acceptance and growth is interesting, but often her conflicts are merely internal, which isn't as compelling for an audience.

    Tips for Improvement

    Stories of grief are common, and often feature with complicating issues, such as financial struggles (which are briefly mentioned but seem easily solved). Giving the story more external conflict is necessary. The last 100 pages or so is much more unique, and focusing on those aspects as Lisa overcomes her grief would help, too.

    Brief

    Following the death of her husband and a betrayal from the next man she gives her heart to, a middle-aged woman embarks on a spiritual and sexual odyssey of awakening that culminates in a real-life miracle as she finds her soulmate at Burning Man.

    What We Liked

    - Lisa's journey of self-discovery through spirituality and sexual passion is a story that never gets told. Older women are often not allowed to have this kind of sensuality, and Lisa embracing this is fascinating and unique. The function of the Burning Man festival is also very fun, and it would be an adventure for the audience.
    - A film exploring the majesty and magic of Burning Man would be undeniably fun, especially when paired with an older woman exploring it for the first time herself. Lisa is our point of entry into this world of self-expression and searching for a soulmate, not to mention her steamy sexual romps.
    - Lisa's whole life could be explored were this story adapted for TV. From her getting together with Keith when they're 16, to raising a family, to losing him and beyond, there is a wide swath of years and no shortage of side characters to feature. It could even be told in a multi-timeline way similar to THIS IS US to increase the tension.
    - Key points: Older female lead; Eroticism; Positive message; Uniqueness of Burning Man aspects; Strong women characters

    Synopsis

    LISA reflects on how life has brought her here. She is comforted in her grief by journaling and a prayer candle that has “the Discovery of a Soulmate” inscribed on it. Lisa regularly lights it and hopes for just that. She was married young to KEITH, and he was a wonderful husband and father to their two daughters. Their peaceful family life is forever disrupted when Keith is diagnosed with extremely aggressive brain cancer. Despite seeking treatment from the nation’s best healthcare professionals and alternative medicine gurus, Keith passes at the young age of 42. This leaves Lisa a young widow with two teenage daughters. The family has a grand European tour planned a couple weeks after the funeral, and Lisa insists they go as she believes Keith would have wanted them to. There are highlights of the trip where they are able to come together as a family, but mostly the grief continuously pulls them back down.

    Lisa doesn’t know where to turn with her partner gone, though she’s certain she wants to marry again. Soon after, she has a passionate love affair with a YOUNG MAN that allows her to embrace her sexuality more fully. She begins a career as a designer for an event planning company and meets TOM, who seems perfect. He swears he will marry Lisa, as soon as his divorce is finalized, and the two begin the process of bringing their families together. They buy a house, but two years later they’re still not married. After four and a half years, Tom breaks things off and Lisa finds out he has proposed to another woman. She feels betrayed, as does her entire family. She forces him to move out, and when she won’t take him back after his engagement falls apart, he stops helping with the mortgage payment. Lisa is forced to work a second job to keep her house.

    Feeling directionless, Lisa travels to nearby Big Sur, a place that she used to visit with Keith. It is there that she finds her Soulmate candle, and she puts her trust in the universe to bring her the right person. On this journey of self-exploration, she meets JOHN, a sexual healer who intimately helps her to see her own power. John introduces her to his community, and many of her new friends go to Burning Man every year. A bohemian festival in the middle of the desert, Burning Man is multi-day party of tens of thousands of people. Each year a temple is constructed that is burnt the last night of the festival. People leave personal messages within it throughout the festival, and the burning of the temple is cathartic for the participants. This year it is the Temple of Transition, which is significant as Lisa feels she is finally ready to fully move on from Keith’s death. She decides to go. 



    Once there, she meets CHRIS at John’s camp. Chris admits he didn’t want to come but was bullied by his friend. He’s divorced and has two children, and he’s currently a financial planner, which was Keith’s career as well. He used to own a candle company, and Lisa realizes that they made her Soulmate candle. Not only that, but it was Chris himself who came up with the phrase “the Discovery of a Soulmate."" Chris doesn’t want to be in a relationship, but the draw he feels to Lisa is strong. Lisa brings a collage of photos of Keith and their family to the temple, as well as some of his ashes. The temple burns, and Lisa feels a great sense of release and purpose to help others with what she’s learned.

    Once home, she and Chris talk on the phone and text constantly. Chris is taking interviews all over, and Lisa sets up an interview for him at the company Keith worked for. Chris admits he wants a relationship with her, no matter what he originally thought. She slowly introduces Chris to her own family, as her daughters were just as hurt by Tom’s betrayal as she was. After four years together, they marry in Big Sur and have a sacred wedding at Burning Man.

    About The Author

    Lisa Nicks-Balthasar is a first-time author whose romantic life story is being developed as a TEDx talk called, "Are You Really Open to Love." Lisa is also an inspirational speaker and teacher, and the president and founder of Believe! International, Inc., a non-profit organization that helps promote the powerful message and methodologies behind her book.