(I have a hunch you will like this prologue) Literati! We want our manuscripts to be perfect specimens, ten toes and fingers, all the parts in order. Quasi-modo, roughly translated, means partially formed. We cannot edit the children-to-be in-uterus¬†(but we’re working on it) but we can edit our other little darlings, our novels, during gestation. …
(I have a hunch you will like this prologue)
We want our manuscripts to be perfect specimens, ten toes and fingers, all the parts in order. Quasi-modo, roughly translated, means partially formed. We cannot edit the children-to-be in-uterus¬†(but we’re working on it) but we can edit our other little darlings, our novels, during gestation. That is what this website is all about. This is a de-facto writer’s workshop, and the feedback a writer gets from other authors can shape the outcome, the form, of our newborns.¬† There is no such thing as a mistake in a manuscript until it goes to print, as my mentor and former editor from the San Diego Union Tribune, Arthur Salm, advised me.
The plan is simple; the feedback an author gets from submitting their prologue and first chapters for peer commentary can help each author shape the outcome of their final manuscript.¬† Ten fingers. Ten toes. Mary Poppins perfect in every way.
Stefani Allison is one of the most passionate writers I know. We have all seen her ability soar like Sally Fields since A Word with You Press has provided a niche in cyber-space.
After you read her entry, scroll back up for these contest rules, and enter the contest yourself for feedback, which is priceless, or do it for the $250 first place prize money! (that’s what motivated Jack London: read Wolf: the Lives of Jack London)
But first, the prologue to
‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčMy Gallant Love
by Stefani Allison
‚ÄúThis is punishment for your sins,‚ÄĚ the mother superior yelled over the baby‚Äôs cries.
The last thing Sister Anne could see clearly in the moonlight before her eyesight began to blur was the sight of the other sisters, tending to the newborn.
‚ÄúThe manuscript,‚ÄĚ Sister Anne croaked.
‚ÄúWill be burned right after you are–when we find it!‚ÄĚ snarled Mother Superior. ‚ÄúNo soul will read your lies or of that old knight.‚ÄĚ She smashed Sister Anne‚Äôs inkwell to the ground, eliciting a terrified cry from the infant.
‚ÄúSHUT that abomination up, or it will follow after her manuscript!‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHe. He is not an it.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWith that lump on his shoulder, it might as well be.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúLet me see my son.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYou will, from your perch in hell.‚ÄĚ
The sound of her son crying was all she could hold as the withered hag loomed over the cot, thwarting her failed attempt to stand. Sister Anne cringed, feeling her blood soaking into the straw mattress.
She only needed to say a few words to him.
‚ÄúWho was he?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIf you could look into my child‚Äôs face, maybe you could tell.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI will question each monk personally,‚ÄĚ she retorted, as she knocked Sister Anne‚Äôs outstretched hand. ‚ÄúThe gall you have, setting a holy man aflame with lust.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHow do you know lust is hot? Have you the burns to prove it?‚ÄĚ
The slap across her face was dull compared to what labor had been.
‚ÄúShut your mouth, you unholy adulteress!‚ÄĚ
A novitiate quietly entered the room. ‚ÄúMother Superior, Father Caughley has finished ushering all the monks to the chapel.‚ÄĚ Sister Anne‚Äôs heart beat in time with the horse hoofs outside her cell, and she allowed herself a secret smile.
‚ÄúGood man, Father Caughley,‚ÄĚ the old nun said, blushing at his name. Sister Anne grabbed the blanket, wishing the cloaked demon‚Äôs neck in her grip.
‚ÄúCall all of the sisters to the chapel! You three, out of here; don‚Äôt you dare bless this evil tree or her bad fruit! To the chapel. Now!‚ÄĚ
The dungeon door closed with such a thunderous roar that the child began to wail again.
Sister Anne could see the gates of heaven as the distant sound of chanting filled her ears. None of it sounded like the Latin she had recited mindlessly throughout her service to God. Too weak to stand, Sister Anne rolled off of her cot and hit the floor, straw sticking to the bloody mess on her robe. Every movement struck a chord of pain, as if she had begun labor again. She pressed her lips over a lose tile on the cold floor, comforted that her manuscript would remain secret until the right time.
When the right time would be, she didn‚Äôt know.
I fear it will be too far in the future, she thought. One generation is already too far as it is.
She needed to tell her son. But she knew her own selfish reasons. One moment, with my child in my arms. It is the last I will ask of this world.
She shielded the baby from the cold, grey Scottish air for what she knew would be the first and last time.
‚ÄúYour grandfather thought it was too late,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúBut he was wrong. I bear the memory of my mother, though I never knew her. You too, must bear my memory. Your head will not remember this; only your heart and soul will.‚ÄĚ
With her eyesight going black, she traced the baby‚Äôs soft hands and feet, counting each of his ten fingers and toes. She then stroked the tender lump on the child‚Äôs right shoulder.
‚ÄúYour pain will one day be your greatest pride, Stefanzo,‚ÄĚ she prophesied. ‚ÄúBe brave, my son, my gallant love.‚ÄĚ
The demurring novitiate slipped back into the dungeon at the break of dawn to bless the corpse of the dead woman, clinging to her hunchback baby.
GET THEE TO A NUNNERY!