I’m super excited for a few reasons. It is Friday, it is warm and beautiful, and the weeping cherry tree in my backyard is starting to blossom frilly pink flowers. But I’m also excited because I talked to my editor, Max (at Polished Pen), this morning and she suggested an idea that I love – breaking SIRENS into two books!
This is great because SIRENS was long, 145,000 words. Deep down I was a little worried people would notice this before reading it and say, hmm, on second thought…. too long. It’s not exactly War & Peace, but to give you perspective, Hunger Games is only 100,000. I even beat The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by about 1000 words, and that’s a long book. But what can I say… I have a lot to say!
I’ve always been hesitant to turn SIRENS into a trilogy because that is what everyone is doing and sometimes I feel that the reader gets gypped. Like, the author waters Book 1 down to elongate into two or three books and the end result is flat and anticlimactic. Some have done it very well, of course, such as Hunger Games. Each of those books stood on their own. But Max pointed out that SIRENS is already divided into two parts that have natural arcs and independent endings. After marinating, I think she’s right. This also gives me a little more freedom to elaborate in both books. I’ve gotten feedback that I put out a lot of information at once in the first half, so now I can build in breathing room and more character development. Plus, this automatically makes me the author of not one, but TWO books! Shamefully, I like this.
As I revisit the entire structure of SIRENS in light of it being a series, I was curious to get opinion on something. I’ve read that prologues are no-no’s, that literary agents don’t like them. Apparently, many authors use prologues improperly, whatever that may mean in the context of the book. There are a lot of articles on why, including this one.
Regardless, I have a prologue in SIRENS. In fact, my brilliant mother, who is a writer herself and doesn’t realize it, was the one who gave me the idea for my “three phone calls” prologue. If you have a chance, I’ve pasted it below for you to read.
Do you like it? Do you think I have used it properly? Does it make you want to read the book? Or do you hate the idea of prologues? If I receive resounding calls to nix it, I can always incorporate the phone calls into the actual book. Would love your thoughts!
Here it is. At the end I’ve included a cool song to start your Friday. Happy weekend!
August 2nd, 2098
The CEO answered the blinking hologram tablet on his desk without taking his eyes from the investor analysis report before him. Five AM. He tipped back the last of his coffee which was as black as the sky. It blanketed the nation’s capital in a starless ebony dawn. Dragonflies, ubiquitous minidrones that served as slaves to the still slumbering consumerists, already buzzed back and forth among the glowing white buildings of the business district. From the pinnacle of the hundred story skyscraper, the bluish green light from DiviniGen Incorporated’s logo seeped into his office.
“Morning, sir. Sorry to call so early but there’s some marine activity off the New Charleston coastline I think you’ll be interested in.”
“Go on.” Galton scooted back in his chair, suddenly at attention.
“Sonar readings are telling us there’s going to be a large scale beaching.”
“A beaching. Of what species?” He frowned, furrowing the groomed white brows that hooded his cold blue eyes.
“Too far out to tell yet, but they appear to be warm blooded, mammalian. And quite large.”
Galton contemplated the possibilities from the few species left in the largely depleted oceans. Once Antarctica melted and the green algae began to take over like smoke in a foxhole, they had begun falling like dominoes. But he knew, a few of the strongest survived. Some even thrived. Chances it was the one they’d been searching for were low, but he had to be there himself. Just in case.
He peered back at the uniformed employee who spoke to him from DiviniGen’s Marine Observatory in South Carolina. “When?”
“Within the next hour, sir. If you want to be here, I recommend leaving now.”
Galton disconnected then called his assistant. “Have the heliplane ready. I’ll be on the roof in ten minutes.”
“Where should I tell the pilot he’ll be flying, sir?”
“I’ll alert the SC airport and the …”
“No. No airport. No Coast Guard. We’ll fly stealth and land directly on the beach. Understand?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Galton. Your plane will be waiting.”
* * *
Lorel poured her coffee into the mug, closing her eyes to savor the nutty smell before taking a sip. It was her favorite morning ritual and best done before sunrise. This was how she liked to welcome the day—alone with a quiet and tender reverence. Each was a sacred new beginning. Anything could happen. Despite being a pragmatic scientist, she was whimsical romantic at heart.
She picked up her mug and the antiquated French press and padded over to the window. Antiquated, old-fashioned, outdated was often what she preferred. She cherished these remnants of the past in the age of new-fashioned technology—everything automatic, super-sped-up, microchipped and a hundred times smarter than its user. She liked things that made her feel grounded to a time when humans were one with the earth and could feel the soles of their feet on the ground. Autocars, smart glass, holograms, and space travel didn’t make Lorel feel that way. It wasn’t that she wanted to shun the wondrous marvels and conveniences that the dawn of the twenty second century had brought forth, but that the sentimental side of her didn’t want to lose what once had been. Taking a look around at the world, anyone could see it was a dying sentiment.
She took a sip of the steaming coffee, sugared and creamed to perfection, and looked out over the sleeping city of New Charleston. The tall white-washed buildings looked like giant ghosts hovering among the low moonlit clouds that cloaked them in a silvery glow. Lorel took a deep breath and smiled at her dim reflection in the window. Today was a special day. The first day of her freedom—from academia, slaving away at her thesis, the never-ending slew of lab reports and library campouts and all-nighters. Now the real work began, the kind that would make a difference.
She grabbed the thin slab of glass leaning against the window and swirled her finger against it. Her diploma illuminated in shimmering rainbow letters.
Lorelei Lyn Phoenix, PhD, Marine Biology
University of New Charleston
August 1st, 2098
She stared at the hologram, still in disbelief, and tears stung her eyes. She’d done it. She’d earned her PhD after all the sweat, blood, and tears of the past five years. And it had led her to the job of her dreams. A flutter of anxiety rose up in her as she thought about the new job, the move to Washington, DC. So much was about to change.
The crystal tinkling of her palm-sized tablet sounded in the quiet apartment and Link, her cat, emitted a low growl of disapproval from the corner of her living room. She tapped the tablet and her Dad’s face appeared.
“Morning, honey. I thought you’d be up.”
Lorel squinted into the palm sized 3-D image. “Dad, are you at the beach?” The sun had yet to rise, but a pre-dawn glow illuminated traces of the ocean behind him.
“I thought it might be a good morning to watch the sunrise. Can you join me?”
Lorel frowned. It was something in the tone of his voice that unnerved her.
“Sure, Dad. Give me twenty minutes.”
She pressed a button and her father’s image was sucked into the smooth black glass. But as she slipped out the door, the uneasy feeling remained.
* * *
A few days later…
A low ring disrupted the quiet subterranean lab seven floors beneath DiviniGen’s headquarters. Dr. Wong tore herself from the screen of DNA and walked around the desk to the black glass wall that separated her office from the dark hallway. Her high heels clicked loudly on the white marble floor. She tapped the center of the glass with her index finger to answer.
“Wong here,” she said as the floor to ceiling hologram image materialized before her.
“Working another late night, I see.”
“Mr. Galton. Yes, sir. Wednesday’s beaching has kept us quite busy.” She smoothed her white lab coat and smiled at the CEO. “How can I help you, sir?”
“Prepare the lab. We’ve identified a live specimen in the city.”
“Live?” Dr. Wong sucked in a breath, her eyes growing wide. “Is it her?”
“No, better. We just need to reel him in. It’s a wild one.”