Monday, February 02, 2009

A minor rant, and a Prologue

My husband is a computer tech. He's been trying to convince me to switch from Word to Open Office, which is free, works very much like Word and isn't updated every five minutes by Microsoft. Yesterday I said, "Fine, load it and let me check it out."

He did, I did, and I had no problem with it... until I copied KINDRED and saved it as a Word compatible OO file. And did a word count. Just to see, ye ken?

OO added a little over 4000 words to the total word count. I checked everything I could think of between the two identical files, one in Word, one in Open Office, to account for this discrepancy. For the life of me I can't figure out where OO is picking up those extra words. Cutting 4000 words at this point is not a piece of cake. I do NOT appreciate OO willy-nilly adding them on!

Be that as it may... :) The 2008 Genesis contest is long over now, so I thought it high time to re-post my prologue and opening chapter.

Copyright 2009 Lori Benton


Mama was the first of Mountain Laurel’s slaves to know about the letter. Before Master Hugh posted it away north to a place called Boston, he called Mama from her spinning and he read that letter to her.

Master Hugh hadn’t done such a thing even once that I know of since he married Miz Lucinda. Before she came, Master would sometimes let Mama hear his words set down, before he sealed the wax and the post rider came and off they went to wherever they was bound. Mama never said what she made of being called in like that after so long, but that’s how we came to know early on that Master Hugh was asking his half-brother to send his youngest son to North Carolina.

Master Hugh’s nephew came here once before, though he never paid me no mind that I can recall. He was twelve years old then, the age a boy—whatever color his skin—starts fancying himself a man, and won’t suffer being reminded he’s still next door to a child.

Me, I was half his years, a slave, and what was surely worse, a girl. I was of no nevermind to the master’s kin. But he was to me.

Even now I can close my eyes and see him as he was, tall for his age and skinny as a pine rail, eyes the color of a jay’s wing, and hair like the flax Mama spins for Master Hugh. It was on account of that flax-pale hair I made my first picture—hiding under the kitchen lilacs while I scratched his likeness on a piece of broken slate. I rubbed it out and hid that slate before anyone could catch me with it.

I’ve made many pictures since that day, but only one of him, drawn on a scrap of that old paper Miz Lucinda had us strip off the parlor walls the week she came to Mountain Laurel. It shows him looking off to the side, with that moonbeam hair curling over his brow like the halo of an angel.

No one has laid eyes on it but me. Not even Mama.

Every slave keeps to their heart a secret. This one is mine.



  1. Lori,

    Is OO by any chance counting things like em-dashes and ellipses? Or counting hyphenated words as two instead of one?

  2. Beth,

    I checked em dashes and hyphenations, but those aren't counted as two words in OO. Didn't check ellipses.

    Golly. To think I could have used 4400 ellipses in one novel! LOL.