Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exclusive Bonus Book Two Content!

Most of the previous drafts of Book Two contained a prologue. Now, I'm not usually a huge fan of prologues in general, but I had a particular vision of this one in my head that was just screaming to get out. What I wanted to do with it was to create sort of a beginning-of-the-movie effect that set a mysterious tone, dropped you right in the middle of the action, and made you wonder what, exactly, was going on. As it turned out, I may have been a bit too successful.
My editor and my beta readers all had different opinions about different parts of the novel, but one thing in particular that they all agreed on - independently, mind you - is that the prologue was kind of confusing, and mostly unnecessary. They all thought that it made it difficult to "get into" the book from the start, which is basically death if you're an author who, you know, actually wants people to enjoy your work.

So, I took a deep breath and killed my darling, one of the few sections of Book Two that had actually survived multiple deletions and revisions up until that point. And, whaddya know, my editor and beta readers were right - it made a huge difference. Suddenly, the book seemed to flow so much better from the get-go, and I was all, like, "eureka!" Seriously, I actually did say that out loud, which startled my cats.

I still have a soft spot for the prologue, though, and it still makes sense within the context of the remaining story - none of the subsequent revisions that I made to the rest of the book negate or contradict anything that happened within the span of the prologue's 1,093 words. So, I figured, what the heck - I'll just publish it as bonus content on my blog! Does it count as official Spectraland canon, you ask?*

Well, I suppose it does, since I'm the author of both book and blog. Of course, I reserve the right to change stuff in the future - even with the already-published material - but I promise I'll never make Greedo shoot first  Joel into a ten-foot-tall mutant mushroom creature from Neptune, or anything like that.**

So, with that, I present to you in all of its original glory, the deleted prologue from Book Two, Mystery of the Moonfire...after the jump!

* Okay, you probably didn't really ask that, but whatever
** Although that actually sounds like kind of a neat idea

“Redstem! Redstem, wake up!”

Redstem blinked several times before she sat up with a start. She grimaced as a sharp pain shot through her head. “Moonear? What — what are you doing in here? How did you get in my hut?”

“Come outside, quickly!” Moonear urged, grabbing Redstem’s arm.

Redstem yanked her arm away. Her head continued to pound with a pulsing ache. “Outside? For what? Moonear, it is past curfew, I could have you detained —”

“I know, I know, but something is wrong — just, please, you have to see this,” Moonear begged.

Redstem looked at her fellow villager’s face as she rubbed her throbbing temples. He wore an earnest expression that seemed to combine alarm with amazement.

“Something is wrong?” she echoed.

“Yes — the moons, they . . . they are on fire.”

“What? What do you mean?”

“Just come see,” Moonear replied as he turned and headed for the doorway.

Redstem sighed, stood up, and grabbed her wavebow. This had better not be another one of his silly tricks, she grumbled to herself. She started to follow him, but hesitated for a moment as she watched him leave. Then, after he had exited, she glanced at each of her hut’s three window-openings in turn. The shield of Aura energy — the one that normally surrounded her dwelling while she slept — was missing.

That does it. I am going to have him detained for sure!

“Moonear, what is going on? What did you do to my shield?” she demanded, trying to keep her anger under control. As she stepped out through the doorway into the night, her headache intensified and her vision began to blur. Fragments of Aura whipped back and forth through the air. “Moonear?”

“Look — up there,” Moonear said as he pointed upward, his voice sounding tinny and distorted.

Redstem squinted at the sky. The twin moons appeared small and distant, but this was due, she knew, to the onset of the Zenith Phase — the period of time when they would be the farthest away from the surface of Spectraland. So that was no surprise. What was unusual about them, though, was that their normal silver glow had been replaced by an undulating orange haze that made them appear as if they were covered in flames. “Moonear, if this is yet another elaborate plot to try and win my favor —”

Moonear waved his hands defensively. “No, I swear, Redstem, it is not! I mean, well, I still want to win — you see, but this is not — I was . . . well, I was awake — admittedly when I should not have been — and suddenly I saw — the moons, they —”

“All right, calm down, I will look into this,” Redstem said, feeling exasperated.

“Should I wake the Chief?” Moonear asked.

“No, do not bother him,” Redstem responded, raising a hand to her face as her head started to spin. “Just — just return to your hut, and stay there.”

“But I want to help you!” Moonear protested.

“There is nothing you can do,” Redstem said as a shrill ringing noise sounded in her ears. She lost her sense of balance momentarily and fell to one knee.

“Redstem!” Moonear cried, reaching out.

The young Wavemaker held up a hand. “No — do not touch me — I am fine. If you want to help, make sure the herds are all right.”

“I will, but . . . are you sure?”

“Yes, now go.”

Moonear didn’t move.


Moonear lingered for one more second before dashing off.

Crazy boy, Redstem thought as she slowly stood up.

Little drops of liquid began to fall from the sky, much too cold to be ordinary rain. The ringing noise morphed into an agitated buzz.

Redstem knew that the proper thing to do in this situation would be to contact the Temple. But this being only her second week of post-apprenticeship solo duty, she didn’t want to give the impression that she wasn’t ready. In fact, she relished the chance to handle a crisis situation on her own. She was determined to prove that Fireflower had made the right decision in sending her out.

Moving her wavebow into playing position, Redstem scanned the area as she walked toward the center of the village. Her blurry vision worsened with each step she took, and she found it difficult to tell whether it was due to a problem with her own eyes or to possible distortions in the air around her. Still, she could make out the shapes of huts, statues, and other landmarks, and with Moonear dispatched to the fields, there didn’t seem to be anyone else roaming around the village proper besides her.

Redstem glanced up at the moons, both of which still seemed to be covered in rippling, flickering flames. While it was true that the Aura routinely caused variations in the appearance of the landscape, she had never seen or heard of anything like this before. Among the many features of the island of Spectraland, the visage of the majestic twin moons had always been the one constant.

She decided to try a test wavecast, just to see what would happen. Before she was able to play a single note, however, the buzzing in her ears gave way to a thunderous rumbling sound. She turned her head and her eyes grew wide. A blurry brown mass was rapidly storming its way down the nearby hill into the village; Redstem didn’t need to be able to see clearly to know what it was. As a child growing up here, she was all too familiar with the frenzy that was a razorbear stampede.

Despite her dizziness and discomfort, she felt a little burst of excitement. As a full-blown Wavemaker who had mastered the intricacies of creating musical magic, she would now be able to save her village from an attack by the fierce beasts that had constantly plagued them throughout the years. With a small, triumphant grin, she reformed her fingers into a different chord and ran towards the oncoming rush of wild animals. Once she felt she was close enough, she stopped and gave her wavebow a confident strum. Instead of the expected tones, however, a harsh, dissonant sound issued from her instrument, and she was quickly engulfed in a vortex of dark purple Aura waves.

The world began to swirl, and Redstem’s headache grew so painful that she dropped her wavebow and clasped both hands over her ears. She turned to run as the razorbears closed in, but her legs gave out, followed closely by her consciousness.

P.S. If you liked that - or even if you didn't - you can also check out Chapter One of Book Two for free at my newly redesigned website!

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