The Critique Process:
I’ve only recently worked with Critique Partners on my novel so I’m still fairly new to the process. The first review from Jen came in and it was about what I hoped and expected. She made some great points and I worked to clean up the draft. Then the review from Ellen came in. My head exploded. There was so much
“Man, I’m awful” … that was my first thought. I closed the document and went back to work. I had to wait to read this later after I breathed a bit.
Cracking it open later that night I took it all in. Ellen, like Jen, made some amazing points and lots of suggested edits. I learned so much just viewing both of their suggestions even if I didn’t agree
After finishing reading the critiques a few times I closed them up and let them soak for a few days … plus work has been crazy lately so I couldn’t edit until Friday night. Well, last night I opened them again, read them several times, and went to work. Below is the result of taking in all of the awesome feedback from Jen and Ellen and coming out the other side with a much better draft than when I started … WOOT!
I hope you enjoy it. And ya, I finally gave it a title.
Deep Blue Warning
The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It darted about her face and repeatedly pecked at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites stung.
“What do you want?” she shouted.
Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. She picked it up and furrowed her brow at its deep blue sheen and intricate yellow stripes. The shell meant one thing.
Without a thought, she swam upward from the nook in the reef. The warning shell drifted through the dark water, landing on the sea floor’s rocky bottom.
Shaking off sleep, Alora gripped her golden trident and swam down the reef she patrolled. She’d fallen asleep on duty again. The last time she fell asleep her boss warned her not to let it happen again or they’d banish her to the caverns.
Her pulse was bounding. Her gills flushed water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.
There, off in the distance, she saw ripples and shadows twenty fathoms above on the surface of the water. A human boat.
She must do something. Defending the border was her job.
Alora grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoing through the water rousted nearby sea-life. Dolphins, turtles, and the like slinked away to hide.
The noise dissipated and the calm of the water returned but Alora knew that was about to change.
Bracing herself, she raised a hand above her head, letting the rod fall. A tightly woven kelp rope was attached to it so it gently fell to her hip.
Her arm was suddenly engulfed with a red octopus tentacle yanking her upward. She raised her other trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her closer to the octopus. The tentacles guided her safely past the jet of water propelling them upward.
Held in place at the head of the giant octopus, she gently rested her hand against its skin and closed her eyes. The area where she touched the octopus started to glow yellow as her fingers danced over the skin, instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.
Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Alora’s eyes locked with each of them, the water between them seeming to flutter as if connecting. They were awaiting her orders.
Coming up under the boat, she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough; she couldn’t risk worse.
Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was set. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern, dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.
The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the others yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to be made examples of.
Alora leapt across the stern, her webbed feet suctioning to the floor preventing her from sliding. She kicked and stabbed each of the scrawny human forms, lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. She shook her head, humans swam horribly. Even clams had more elegance in water.
Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. They painted the water around the boat in blood as the octopus tore planks and contraptions off the cabin of the rickety boat.
Alora reached up to a tentacle and made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.
Her gills were drying out, but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward, she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and leaned in. A faint crying noise… an infant. She slid the door open to find the tiny human form. Cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within a covering that resembled seaweed.
The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.
There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they played in the blood-red waters. They swam up as she lifted her leg over the edge and slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.
She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. The infant needed to be dropped on dry land.
Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left at the giant octopus towing what remained of the human craft alongside her. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.
Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbered and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.
Word Count: 990