Title: The City With Three Names
Genre: Literary Historical
Word Count: 116,000
Pitch: When Prince Suleyman declares his love, Iro leaps from harem student to princess. But either she sacrifices freedom for gilded captivity–or perishes in smoke from the fires of war. Ottoman MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
First 250 words of manuscript:
Venezia, October 1500
She battled for every breath.
My grandmother, my yaiyai, lay on her low bed in the darkened room, bedridden since September.
In and out. In and out. A slow rhythm of crackling wheezes slipped from her dry parted lips for the past hour. When the pause between intakes stretched on, I held my breath as well. Sometimes in solidarity, but more often in fearful expectation. I knew either she would inhale–or her lungs would finally capitulate to the exhaustion of living.
Weeks of poor appetite and strained breathing made her ribs and chest protrude, barely concealed by the brown woolen dress she wore. The usual softness in her wrinkled face withered over those several weeks, deepening the lines around her mouth and cheeks.
Before Mother left for Mass at dawn, she demanded my brother Nickolas and I watch over Yaiyai. My eleven-year-old self could manage dabbing her hot brow with a dampened cloth. But while the chores were not physically demanding, my heart grew wearier each passing minute. Every breath brought her closer to death yet prolonged her anguish.
Nikko sat as close to the door as he could, fiddling with the poorly carved wooden sword he never went without.
I resented Mother for forcing me to play nurse. This rasping creature did not resemble my yaiyai. She had an iron will and caustic humor, unafraid to challenge my mother and energetic enough to manage my rambunctious seven-year-old brother.