Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction
Word Count: 48000
Mainz 1454. Twelve-year-old Elsa hopes for a fresh start at her great-uncle Johann Gutenberg’s house. But when enemies from his past threaten to destroy his printing workshop, Elsa risks everything to protect her great-uncle’s secrets.
I looked backwards for a long time as we rode out of Frankfurt. First my father vanished as the cart rounded a corner. My younger sisters ran behind the cart for a while until they were too tired to follow. I waved until they turned back. Then I let fall the smile I had been forcingmyself to wear so they would not think I was sad. We drove through the bumpy, winding city streets until we reached the city walls. Frankfurt became a gray mist of spires which finally faded into clouds. When there was nothing left to see behind us, I turned around to face the road ahead.
The sun climbed higher in the sky. It struggled to shine through the clouds that had been hanging over the countryside for nearly a week. The longer we were on the road, the stronger the light became, until it broke through the seams of the clouds and made sweeping shadows cross our path.
“I knew we’d have good traveling weather,” Lorenz said from his seat next to me, holding the reins of the horse loosely. “There’s nothing worse than trying to drive these carts in a rainstorm."
Rain would have hidden the tears that I was trying my best to hold back. It would do no good to cry and Lorenz would think I was an infant, not a grown girl of twelve. The saints never cried when they were martyred, my mother liked to say. If they didn’t cry while their heads were cut off or their flesh pierced with arrows, then there was no reason for me to cry.