We Have a Winner! Nonfiction

Yes, yes, I know: we’re Novel Rocket, and “novel” means
fiction. But, as we’ve been asked a few times about the
possibility of adding a Nonfiction category to this contest, we decided to
give it a try, not knowing what might happen.
So what does happen when a site dedicated to fiction adds a nonfiction category to their contest? They receive some good entries, that’s what. And it’s required the judges to put their aching heads together to decide on a winner.

It was a tight race between two of the offerings. One boasted very smooth writing, but seems limited to a small niche market. The winning entry tells a moving story with wide
appeal, and the author frames it in a unique and lovely manner.

We’re happy, therefore, to introduce to you the first
Nonfiction winner of Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest:  Dancing
on Stones: A Quest for Joy
 by Paula Griffiths of Longford, Tasmania. Congratulations, Paula!
You may read her winning entry below. Meanwhile, if you’d
like to get in on the excitement, there’s still time to enter your Middle
Grade/Young Adult novels (the submission deadline is THIS WEDNESDAY, July 10,
so if you’ve been thinking about entering, you’d better hurry!) as well as any
Romance (deadline, August 10) or Speculative Fiction (deadline, September 10)
manuscripts you might have lying around collecting dust.
See the complete rules on the Launch Pad tab. Questions? Contact us at NovelRocketContest@gmail.com.
Meanwhile, please enjoy the first part of this month’s
winner.

DANCING ON STONES:
A QUEST FOR JOY
By
Paula Griffiths
                        FORWARD
Pray
through to victory!                                                                        
Name it;
claim it by faith and it is yours! 
These
were the catch cries of my church.
I named
and claimed, fasted and prayed, but nothing changed.
Why was
I suffering?
Why were
my prayers unanswered? 
What was
wrong with me?

Trying
to reconcile my life with what my church taught drove me to the edge of mental
breakdown.

This is my story.

DANCE
A
young couple moved through the bustle of the after-church crush. Hand in hand
they stood beaming at us, each waiting for the other to start. Finally the
young man stammered, “We are being married… as you know. And… well… we were
wondering if you… well… we thought… that instead of a song… it would be
different if you two would dance during the “signing of the register.”

I
looked to the young woman and she nodded enthusiastically.

“Do
you have a piece of music in mind?” my husband asked.

“Well…
no… but we really like that harp and flute piece you danced to during Communion
last month. Something like that would be great.”

The
piece was choreographed and perfected. The big day arrived. As the final notes
died away and we turned to face the congregation, I saw tears in many eyes.

In
a shower of smiles and confetti, the happy couple left the church. On the steps
an elderly lady rushed forward and grabbed my hand. “Oh, that was so beautiful.
Your love for each other shone out from every movement. Oh, and at the end when
he lifted you high, gently lowered you… and directed your gaze toward
heaven…well… it was just the loveliest thing. You two are such a blessing to
this church.”
     
                                                          
 ***
   My husband was away choreographing for a
small theater company.  I raced home
after evening classes.  My mother met me
at the door, kissed me on the cheek, and told me our two small sons had eaten
all their dinner, and were tucked up in bed. I flew up the stairs, peeped into
their rooms and breathed a sigh of relief; they were fast asleep. I quickly
showered and changed my clothes. As I removed hairpins and shook my hair free I
heard voices in the lane so gave up on fixing my makeup and raced down stairs
to greet the first of our friends.

 Plates of homemade biscuits and muffins were
handed to me and heavy coats and scarves removed. Our old stone cottage had a
welcoming charm that drew people even on the coldest night. Everyone relaxed in
their favorite chair. The rustle of pages, the soft rise and fall of voices,
and the crackle of the fire were the familiar sounds of our Bible study.  Chatter and laughter during supper reached
such a pitch it woke the boys.  I went
upstairs to settle them again which took quite some time. Coming downstairs, I
found everyone had left quietly except one friend still clearing the supper
things.

“It’s
lovely to come here and sit by the fire with all your quaint old stuff about…
sort of an escape from the real world. I envy you, you know…beautiful home,
happy marriage… Where’s the cling wrap?” she called over her shoulder as she
disappeared into the kitchen.

“In
the old pine cupboard to the right of the fridge,” I answered from the sitting
room.

I
carried the last things through to find her standing with the cupboard door
open.

She
looked up with a troubled expression. “I didn’t know you were drinkers.”

 With a knot twisting tighter in my stomach I
moved to where I could see what she could see. There behind rolls of paper
towel and aluminum foil, lying on its side, almost hidden by a pile of paper
serviettes, was a half-empty bottle of rum.

“Left
over from the Christmas cake,” came the quick reply, but my heart sank. Would
she guess my secret? 

 My husband was an alcoholic but I smiled and
pretended everything was normal, for in our church, those with problems were
judged as spiritual failures.  As I
ushered my friend to the door I kept up a steady stream of pleasant chatter. I
closed the door and leant against it wondering how long I could keep living
this charade.


The
charade had begun years before…
(to continue reading, click here)