There are times when I feel like a fraud. I have been a beta reader and critique partner for many writers over the years, pointing out areas where stories are weak and where they are strong. I'm a freelance editor with Black Wolf Editorial Services, contracting my services out as a developmental editor, helping other writers shape their stories into masterpieces. However, to date, none of my fiction has been published. I am a published writer, but all of my personal publication credits are non-fiction.
A few of those whom I have provided editing for have gone on to obtain traditional publication contracts. Some have self-published. In most cases, I've received some form of acknowledgement, but I am unlikely to ever get editorial credit, because developmental editing is an early-stage editing — editorial credits commonly go to the copyeditor of a book.
Some writers from my early days of being an editor were actually disgruntled by my comments, even though my comments highlighted the good... and the areas that could be improved. Recently, I heard from one of those writers, and she gave me words that actually lifted my soul.
I wanted to give [you] a way belated thank you.
You did some extensive crits on my works a long, long time ago. I wasn't ready to hear it at that time and did not appreciate them. I'm trying to improve and see now the honesty and TRUTH in those crits. I just wanted to say thank you for investing the time in me. It pushed me to be better.
Well, like that writer, I'm pushing myself to be better. Part of that process is to suck-it-up and share with the world some of my fiction — proving to my readers (and myself) that I really do know how to craft a story. So, I decided to share with you a deleted scene from my high-fantasy novel, Beacon of Hope. The novel itself is currently sitting in that metaphorical drawer, as I have a mental hangup about querying the thing, but still...
I hope you enjoy it.
by Judy L Mohr
(Note from Writer: This excerpt is a removed chapter from the first novel in my high fantasy series. This chapter will never see the light of day again, except on this blog. While the backstory behind the scene has found its way into another book from that series, this scene itself added no value to my story. It doesn't matter how well written a scene is, if it doesn't add value, it has to go. The scene itself can not be recycled (rewritten into another story) because the elements of the scene and the characters associated are so intertwined with the events that happen in that first novel in the series — but it's a beloved scene, one that makes me cry every time I read it. Perhaps others who read it will understand why I love the scene so much.)
Marianne closed her eyes and slowed her breathing. She held out her hands over Drezel's body. "Pesgrema, tremaye des sen dosemor esdarme." Sign of Love, guide my magic to save this soul. Her hands radiated with the light of her magic, sending everything she could into Drezel, but it was no use. Her magic was unable to heal her sister. Marianne collapsed backward in exhaustion.
The Master knelt next to her and held her close. "You have been at this for the past hour, Marianne. She's gone."
Beyond the closed door, cries echoed. Marianne knew the children were scared.
The tears flowed down her cheeks. As the cries of the children grew louder in her ears, Marianne gritted her teeth and pushed the Master's arms away. "I refuse to believe there's nothing we can do."
"Marianne," the Master started to say, but her passion for others rose rapidly to the surface. Her long strawberry blond hair stood out like flames waving in the wind.
"This is all your fault," she said with an eerie calm. "You deliberately took actions that put us all in danger. You had her poisoned. You had her mate poisoned. And if not for an accident, you would have poisoned my daughter!"
"No." She put up her hand to silence him. "I don't want to hear it. Right now, someone I love very much needs my help. Just… Stay out of my way."
She turned her back on the old man and continued to work. She could feel his scrutinizing eyes on her as she constructed yet another potion. He couldn't see the point, but Marianne simply refused to give in to his way of thinking. There had to be something, anything, that she could do.
"Why didn't you tell me?" the Master asked.
"Tell you what?" She crushed the beetles she intended to add to the new potion.
"I'm referring to the Circle of Three spell the two of you conducted four years ago. Why would you keep the link a secret?"
She looked down at her hands, numbly. She always knew the past would come back to haunt them. History was repeating itself, but this time there was nothing she could do about it. "Because, without you, the Family is lost," she said, her voice cracking. "With the Seniors gone, you were dying. We couldn't let that happen."
He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and encouraged her to turn around. "Death is a part of life's journey. Eventually, it comes for us all. All we can do is search for those little things that bring joy to our lives.
"You were six years old when I found you tied to that post, so lost and confused. I couldn't leave you there—this beautiful, young girl, who I've raised as a daughter ever since. You're my pride and joy, Marianne, even if you aren't my flesh and blood. I love you—which is why I can't let you continue to sacrifice yourself like this.
"Do you not remember the rabbit? Brandon and his wife had been attacked. You were there when they arrived back in camp. True to the healer you are, you spared no thought to what his pain would do to you; you just used your magic to heal him, closing the stab wounds in his chest. He should have died of those wounds, but you put everything into that spell. When it was over, you laid on the ground gasping for air, dying. Your pet rabbit curled up next to you and pushed himself into your hand. The next thing we all knew, the rabbit was dead and you were on the road to recovery. It was so hard for you to understand that it was because of you, the rabbit was dead, but that rabbit gave his life to save yours willingly. He knew, just as I did, sometimes to save one life, you have to sacrifice another.
"I know the sacrifice you and Drezel made for me. You gave up on happiness to save me. There is nothing I can do that could ever repay that debt. However, if you continue to attempt to heal Drezel, you will die. There are no rabbits this time to give their life for you."
Tears flooded down her face, her body shook with the sobbing. He was right. Nothing was working. The Master often told her that she was the most powerful magician of Health he had ever met. If she couldn't save Drezel with her magic, then Health was not the answer.
"It's time, Marianne," the Master said. "She stopped breathing an hour ago. Her body is already cold and stiff. Feel her. Her life force is gone. She's crossed the void between Life and Death. She's gone."
Marianne's knees gave way. "But her hands still glow. She hasn't severed the ties."
"I know. She should be with the land right now. However, for some reason, she's chosen to stay with her body. Regardless, we can't let the Bleeder demons gain access to her magic. We have to help what's left of her soul make its final journey."
Marianne sagged to the ground crying. Drezel was dead.