When They Call ( the first in the tribes series)

J.L Calhoun

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    The more Nancy concentrates on the evidence the more she realizes that this is something that will reconnect her to her Native American roots. She soon finds that this presence is dangerous to her children, family and maybe even her small town.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34

    Target Gender: Universal


    Eastern Kentucky

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Xlibris

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    Nancy and Hank are forced to move back to their small hometown of eastern Ky. They feel they are comfortable and have found paradise until strange happenings begin plaguing their home. As Nancy investigates she meets new friends that help guide her down the path of what is out there

    Ending Description

    As the story comes to a close we find Hank and Nancy caught in the middle of warring tribes of Sasquatch only to find that they in fact as far more advances than legend has told as they have their own languages culture and values that have gone misunderstood.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements


    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Quest

    Main Character Details

    Name: Nancy Miller

    Age: late 20s

    Gender: Female

    Role: Skeptic

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Confident,Educated,Honorable,Blunt

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Hopi

    Age: early 60s

    Gender: Male

    Role: Mentor

    Key Traits: Modest,Complex,Selfless,Outspoken,Skillful,Visionary,Lone Wolf

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Aaron

    Age: 7 years old

    Gender: Male

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Underdog,Funny,Uneducated,Honorable,Insecure,Naive

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Hank

    Age: late 20s

    Gender: Male

    Role: skeptic

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Charming,Confident,Empathetic,Engaging,Sarcastic




    A retired wildlife researcher moves her family back to her rural Kentucky hometown. But when their woodsy paradise is threatened by a band of mysterious, supernatural creatures, the family must rely on Native American folklore and good old fashioned backcountry know-how to survive.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The Book Profile does an excellent job of reflecting the book. It's concise and descriptive, while leaving just enough to the imagination. If there's anything to note here, it's that the Development Pitch and About the Author sections should be rewritten in third person, for consistency. Otherwise, great job!

    Draw of Story

    The story introduces us to the theme right away. We learn that Nancy has Native American roots, and we hear about some of the relevant folklore on the very first page. We also establish Nancy as a fish-out-of-water when we explore the idea of her leaving her wildlife career behind to move the family back to Kentucky. All of this does the necessary set-up work that helps the storyline flow, catapults the character arcs, and preps the reader for suspension of belief.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The pacing moves rather quickly, sometimes without room for emotions, motivations, and/or pivotal scenes to breathe. The manuscript itself feels short, so it's possible that some of the more dramatic scenes could be extended without disrupting the suspense and tension. One such example is Nancy's first encounter with the creatures. Allowing adequate time for her to explore her emotions here might help justify her subsequent actions and behaviors. It might also allow for a more natural story crescendo, as her responses to the threat become stronger, and more important.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The story does a great job of blending the ordinary with the extraordinary. Nancy faces a plethora of 'real-world' problems, like an angsty teen and a lack of purpose, which keeps her relatable and approachable. When that's coupled with the emergence of a supernatural threat, it becomes easier to suspend belief and follow Nancy as she uncovers the truth.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this would certainly appeal to fans of Native American folklore, fantasy premises, and suspenseful plot lines. It's also possible that it has crossover appeal, targeting audiences in both the adult and young adult markets. It may also have international appeal, since the relevant folklore isn't overly esoteric. In terms of a rating, it'd likely fall into the PG-13 category because of some of its violent themes.

    Awards Potential

    The genre itself is often overlooked by above the line awards, but that's not to say there isn't potential below the line. An adaptation like this one would likely require careful cinematography, great special effects, and perhaps even considerations like costuming and/or makeup, all of which could garner attention.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    Native American folklore is blended with a humanized cast of characters to create a wonderful balance between plot lines and character arcs. The supernatural never overshadows the ordinary world, which makes it easier to suspend belief than it might be otherwise. That said, to make it more unique may mean a deep dive into character development, particularly reactions. In certain places, raw character reaction is boiled down to a sentence or two, and we lose some of the humanization of them. One such example is Nancy's reaction after Anna's disappearance. It'd be great to see her spiral a bit more, as opposed to staying reasonably rational throughout the rest of the story.

    Lead Characters

    The fact that the characters all have ordinary problems really helps them balance out the extraordinary elements of the plot line. Nancy feels like she lacks a purpose, Anna struggles with the move, and Charlene is caught up in never-ending grief. There is nothing special about any of them, which is precisely what makes them stand out in a story where the world around them is increasingly more speculative and difficult to assimilate into. The beauty, in this case, is in the ordinary and it works quite well.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The story doesn't feel like a rare gem quite yet, but it does have a lot of potential. Generally, it feels like a great skeleton, but the plot line itself may need to be fleshed out a bit more. Doing a deep dive into character development could help, and so could extending some of the emotional, pivotal scenes to allow for the building of tension. For instance, a slower lead-in to the supernatural elements of the plot could be helpful. Instead of anything strange happening on the first night, maybe we spend a touch more time in the ordinary world to better establish it, and the beginning of the character arcs. Then, the breakdown of the ordinary world may be more jarring to the reader, and thus more compelling.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio, Streaming TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation



    The bones of a great story are present here, but it feels like things need to be fleshed out a bit more in order to maximize effectiveness. The character development feels like it can go further, and some of the plot points feel like they can be enhanced. Additionally, allowing some of the more dramatic scenes room to breathe could help elevate the overall storyline, making it feel much more authentic and compelling.

    Tips for Improvement

    Stronger character development, more appropriate character responses, and a slower pace are all things that could help take this story to the next level. The bones are here, but it feels like a deep dive is necessary in order to make the characters pop and the storyline shine. It's easy to relate to the characters on a basic level, but in order to make the story truly effective, we need to relate to them on an emotional level. It requires a bit more elbow grease, but it's worth it to take an interesting concept and turn it into a marketable, sellable project.


    A retired wildlife researcher moves her family back to her rural Kentucky hometown. But when their woodsy paradise is threatened by a band of mysterious, supernatural creatures, the family must rely on Native American folklore and good old fashioned backcountry know-how to survive.

    What We Liked

    WHEN THEY CALL does a great job of blending the ordinary and the extraordinary. We are introduced to a cast of characters with 'real world' problems that draw us in and help us relate to them. But soon enough, our cast is catapulted into the supernatural realm. But the supernatural world never fully overshadows the ordinary one, which makes the storyline approachable and much more authentic than it might be otherwise.

    Film: As a film, it's likely that it would only work as a franchise. There is no concrete ending here, and the manuscript arguably leaves us with more questions than answers. That said, there are sufficient suspense levels and adequate tension throughout, and the characters are consistently relatable and approachable.

    TV: The first book in a series, there is much room for expansion here. We leave the world without too many answers, aside from the knowledge that some of the creatures are 'good' and some are 'evil.' We're left feeling like a war is brewing, one which could sustain multiple seasons. Additionally, there is good use of subplot throughout. The characters deal with the 'real world' almost as much as they deal with the supernatural one, which makes them feel well-rounded and the storyline consistently approachable.

    Key points:
    Good use of theme.
    Good use of subplot.
    Franchise and/or series potential.
    Female-driven narrative.
    Diversity potential.


    NANCY (40s), a wildlife veterinarian, and her husband, HANK (40s) begin their married life on the Washington coast. But after several years of raising their children, ANNA (teens), and HEATH (4), they decide to move back to Kentucky to be closer to family. Nancy, who has Native American ancestors, arranges for an inspector to ensure that the fireplace is usable, and he finds piles of strange rocks on the roof.

    Nancy runs into an old high school friend, KELLY. Kelly, the town vet, asks Nancy to work part-time at the animal clinic. Back at home, the family listens for nature sounds instead, and Nancy hears owls screeching. Knowing that owls are solitary creatures, she finds it strange.

    The next morning, Heath tells Nancy that a man came to his window during the night. Anna tells her that the owls kept her up all night. Nancy drops Anna off at nature camp and drives Heath to her MOTHER’s house. Nancy’s mother reminisces about the tribal stories her grandmother told. Nancy arrives back home and finds a mutilated deer in her driveway. By the lake, firewood has been assembled to look like teepees. Nancy remembers a story from her grandmother about the teepees and takes it as a sign to leave. She calls Hank, who instructs her to call the police. Two LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS arrive and blame rowdy children for the deer, and the teepees.

    The family awakens to discover that all their plants have been uprooted. A security company arrives to install cameras around the property. Anna begins to sob at the lost plants and begs her parents to leave. Nancy overhears her children talking and discovers that Anna has seen the man, too. She encourages Heath to tell her everything, and both parents decide that its best if their children go to stay with their grandparents.

    Nancy and Hank return home to find their property pitch black. Hank sees an eight-foot-tall figure emerging from the lake. Hank grabs his gun and goes to meet it. The menacing figure darts around them, as Hank tells Nancy that he’s certain the ghoul did something to him.

    Nancy convinces Hank to look for evidence the next morning, and Hank finds a clump of the beast’s hair. Nancy finds a trail of broken tree limbs, but Hank doesn’t want to follow it. Hank leaves Nancy alone, and Nancy grabs his gun and follows the trail. She smells the creature all around her, and as the sun sets, hurries back into the house. Her mother urges her to remember what her grandmother told her: do not respond if it calls her name. As she’s washing dishes, the creature begins banging on the kitchen window. She opens her phone app to try to catch a glimpse of it, but the screen is too small. She hurries to the tablet in the bedroom and hears three knocks on that window. Nancy makes her way through the house and the creature follows with its knocking. She begins to call out to it, asking it what it wants, and she curls up into a fetal position and sobs. When she composes herself, she goes to bed. She hears strange animal noises outside but tries to tune them out. Then she hears a bird making a doorbell noise, and soon after, her name.

    Nancy arrives for her first day at the vet clinic. She is sitting down for lunch, with ARON (+/-10) and his aunt, TAMMY (30s), arrive with a beagle. Tammy explains that she is Aron’s legal guardian, after his father killed his mother and then died himself. Aron was left in the wilderness for almost a year before anybody found him, and she adopted him. Nancy notices that Aron is filthy and smells just like the creature stalking her house. Tammy excuses herself to go to the restroom, and Nancy begins asking Aaron questions. She learns that he befriended ‘the ancients’ who went crazy after watching his father kill his mother. Nancy arranges a house call to visit the beagle, so she can learn more from Aron.

    Nancy arrives at her parents’ house, and her mother warns her to be careful. Her father, TOM, comes in and shoos his wife away. Never one for Native American folklore, Nancy assumes that Tom won’t believe her. But he encourages her to install dazers around her property, a device that emits a high-pitched noise only certain animals can hear. Nancy and Tom drive to the hardware store to pick up the devices, and then back to the house so Tom can install them.

    When the dazers are installed, Nancy starts her car and realizes that it’s dead. Without booster cables, she walks to her neighbors. She introduces herself to TYLER (40s) and his wife, CHARLENE (40s), who looks much older than her years. Charlene tells Nancy that she lost a son, and that children go missing all the time in the neighborhood. Nancy asks Charlene about the creature. She tells her that her son followed it when it called his name and was never seen from again.

    Nancy and Hank bring the children home, and all appears well for a time. Charlene arrives at the house, to tell Nancy about what happened to her son. After he disappeared, the creatures began leaving pieces of him on their front porch. A shoe, a scrap of his shirt, and eventually body parts. Hank and Nancy decide that Heath should sleep in bed with them that night. In the wee hours of the morning, Tyler knocks on the door to inform them that Charlene never returned home. Afraid to leave the kids, Nancy packs them into the truck and the whole family accompanies Tyler on his search. They find Charlene’s truck mangled on the side of the road, with blood spatters on it.

    Nancy is at the veterinary clinic when a deputy comes to question her. He gets aggressive and Nancy threatens to call the sheriff, HAROLD JONES. The deputy informs her that Harold Jones is no longer the sheriff and has been hauled up in a nursing home for several years. Nancy arrives to Aron’s on her house call. Aron tells her that the creatures killed his father after he beat his mother to death on the property, and that the creatures have been protecting him ever since. He leads her on a trail in the woods, to a forcefield of rocks covered in urine. Nancy asks him about structures made of sticks, and Aron tells her that only the bad creatures make warning signs with sticks. He tells her they live in tribes, and that only some of them are good. Tammy begins calling out for Aron, and chases Nancy from the house. She decides that she must pay a visit to Harold Jones to find out what happened to him, and then she must visit the site of Charlene’s wreck again to investigate.

    At the wreck, Nancy feels the wind change and hears rustling in the trees. She is chased by one of the creatures, who growls at her all throughout the woods. She finds Charlene’s mangled truck, with a monster tooth wedged in between the metal. At the clinic, she receives a call from Tammy, who apologizes for her demeanor at the house. She learns that Aron won’t stop talking about her, and Nancy offers to have the child over for a playdate.

    Nancy and Hank awaken one morning to a horrible smell. They discover muddy footprints all throughout the house and realize that the power went out sometime during the night and three of the creatures made their way inside. They find Anna, petrified, in her bed and she tells them they were watching her only a few moments ago.

    Nancy arrives at the nursing home to visit Harold. He reveals that he saw one of the creatures that night. When he tried to tell his colleagues, a rumor spread that he was crazy. He eventually lost his job, and his wife was put in charge of all his decisions.

    Nancy becomes obsessed with finding the creatures. She is following a trail in the woods, when a NATIVE AMERICAN MAN appears and identifies himself as her ancestor. He creates a visual illusion to tell Nancy that when the tribe first settled on the land, they encountered the Toylana creatures, but found a way to live peacefully among them. Soon, the Ya-Ta-Hey branched off from the Toylana and started a war with the settlers. They began offering up their women and children as sacrifices for the creatures, to survive. Then, the European settlers arrived and began using their weapons to destroy the tribe, the Toylana, and the Ya-Ta-Hey. The man and the vision disappear when Nancy receives a call from her ex-colleague, MICHELLE.

    Michelle tells Nancy that she’s seen the DNA of the creature before, and that people from Nancy’s hometown send it to the lab frequently. But the researchers are told to send them back dummy reports citing the DNA as a bear’s and destroy the samples. That night, Nancy dreams of the Native American man. He tells her that, to help fight the European settlers, the tribe taught the Ya-Ta-Hey their spiritual practices. But the Ya-Ta-Hey used it against them and began luring their children away from them.

    Anna begins seeing a boy, COBY, who lives across the lake. The next day, she drops the children off at school and returns to speak with her father. He tells her that, if she continues to obsess, she’ll be like the crazy people in town who sacrifice animals at the salt mines. Nancy desperately wants to go search the mines but decides to hold off. On her way home, she receives a text from Anna informing her that she’s riding the bus to Coby’s house.

    When Nancy arrives home, Anna is missing. She hurries to Coby’s house, but nobody’s seen her. In the driveway, she finds Anna’s cell phone. The family begins searching the neighborhood for Anna, and Nancy demands that Hank drive to the mines. When he gets out to look, a large rock whizzes past his head. The family returns home and tries to figure out what to do next.

    Nancy remembers a trick from her time as a wildlife vet and leaves a mirror as a gift for the creatures. She hopes that, in return, they’ll leave her a clue about Anna. Later, she and Hank go to the site of Nancy’s gift and find Anna’s shoes waiting.

    The town holds a vigil for Anna, and Nancy sees the man from her vision sitting outside of a diner. Later identified as HOPI, a member of her grandmother’s tribe, he tells her that a dark day is coming and they need the Toylana to help protect the town from the Ya-Ta-Hey. He also tells her that the creatures appreciated the mirror. Nancy’s mother arrives and when Nancy turns around again, Hopi is gone.

    Nancy finds Tammy and Aron at the vigil and asks Aron if he knows anything about Anna’s whereabouts. Aron clams up. The police continue searching for Anna, but soon call it off. Nancy picks up Aron for a playdate. She tries to get more information about the creatures, and Aron tells her that they’re protecting her. Later, Nancy notices that the dazer box has been broken with a rock.

    Nancy is watching Heath and Aron play outside while she makes dinner. She sees them staring at something in the woods. She and Hank hurry to stop them and see one of the creatures standing on the ridge. Aron tells her that it’s one of the good ones.

    Nancy drives Aron home and finds Tammy passed out drunk on the couch. She takes Aron back home for a sleepover but at the last moment, decides to take him to the nursing home to talk to Harold. They arrive, only to learn that Harold is dead.

    The police get wind of the shoes and accuse Nancy and Hank of submitting false evidence. A verbal battle ensues. When the police leave, Nancy and Hank trek back up the trail to look for another gift. This time, they find a lock of Anna’s hair. She convinces Hank to visit Hopi for answers before Heath is next. Hopi tells her that the creatures found Anna’s hair, a sign that means she is likely dead. He tells her to keep Heath close because, as the head of a chieftain bloodline, he is the key the Ya-Ta-Hey needs to come forward.

    Hank and Tyler gather up their weapons and decide to confront the creatures. They see glowing eyes and shoot. Soon enough, the aggressive creatures come forward and injure Hank and break Tyler’s back. Nancy corrals the men back into the car and they rush to get Tyler to the emergency room.

    After arriving home, the family prepares for bed. But soon, they hear a whisper calling out for Heath. Too late, they discover him in the yard, making his way towards one of the creatures. Hank shoots it in the calf, but it only halts it for a moment. Just when Heath is almost gone for a good, a creature of the Toylana appears from the trees and attacks. They two creatures collide, and chaos ensues. Hank is able to grab Heath, as the Toylana creature kills the Ya-Ta-Hey creature. It stands up and approaches the three humans. With kind eyes, he introduces himself as Boq. The humans stand there, stunned, trying to accept their new normal.

    About The Author

    J.L. Calhoun grew up around Native American folklore in eastern Kentucky. This is the first book in a series.