Sunday, February 22, 2015

From the Archives: Author Sandy James & The Reluctant Amazon Excerpt

Posted by: Sandy James

Veronica Scott here: Author Sandy James was one of our comrades on Here Be Magic for quite a while. Her family is going through a tough time right now due to her husband of 32 years battling Stage 4 colon cancer (which she has discussed and tweeted about, so I'm not giving TMI here). I thought we'd rerun this post from her, on the first book in her Amazon series from 2012, show our support for our friend, and encourage anyone who's been thinking about reading this or any other of  Sandy's wonderful novels to go ahead and take the plunge!

Post edited a tiny bit to update the publication information. The following is what Sandy wrote in 2012:

The prologue. 

Reviled or praised? 

It seems that authors and editors simply can’t come to a consensus on whether a book should have a prologue.
I’ve used prologues before. In fact, I love writing them! Perhaps that’s because I also love reading them. To me, they’re like a movie trailer with scenes of an upcoming story. A prologue sets the tone of the book and can provide vital information from a character’s past to understand everything that comes next.
On the other hand, prologues can be nothing but unnecessary backstory—a litany of things the reader really doesn’t need to know.
The Reluctant Amazon, the first book in the Alliance of the Amazon series, released from Carina Press yesterday. If you read it, you won’t find a prologue. I wrote one, but in discussion with my editor, we figured we needed to start this story with Rebecca rather than an Amazon you would only see once—Maria. 

So…just for kicks and giggles, I’m going to let you all read the prologue for The Reluctant Amazon.



How damn ironic. The Guardian had let her guard down.

Taking slow, careful steps to the window, Maria calculated the time to reach the fire escape, climb down and run like the wind she used to command. 

She’d never make it.

She wanted to scream in frustration, wanted to slam her fist into a wall. How could she have allowed herself to forget? How could she have allowed herself to think evil would ever remain at bay for long? It was a wish, born of blind hope that the next generation wouldn’t have to be summoned. Without her, the three who remained wouldn’t be enough to fight this new threat.

Maria’s stomach tightened into a painful knot as she sensed them inside her apartment now. The hunters—the revenants. Cold and predatory. She wouldn’t even give them a good fight, her skills rusty from being idle for far too long. Almost nine decades since her heyday. Ninety years since she had wielded the power of the skies. Scolding herself for her lack of discipline in keeping up with her training wouldn’t do any good. Her bones creaked like the ancient woman she should be. Her physical and mental discipline had fallen out of practice. She’d let the damned revenants sneak in without immediately feeling their presence.

Reaching out with her senses, hoping they would miraculously return to the level Maria had enjoyed when she was young, she tried to count the revenants and anticipate their movements. How many were seeking her? 

Too many

She had the advantage—she knew they were hunting her. The revenants had arrived in stealth rather than charging about like the mindless minions they were. 

If they’d been certain she was there, she’d already be dead.

Slowly sliding the window up, she crawled through, trying to keep her movements slow and praying to the Ancients that the fire escape wouldn’t make a sound as she eased onto it. The Ancients weren’t listening, or else they simply didn’t think her humble life was worth an intervention. The betraying metal creaked and groaned as it accepted her weight.

The revenants knew she was there now—she felt them surging toward her. The stench of the creatures assaulted her nostrils, making the bile rise in the back of her throat. The smell was too similar to the subways she rode almost daily. Piss and decay. 

They came through her apartment, and she sensed more of them working up the ladder from ten stories below. In her heyday, the jump would have been easy. If not easy, at least not fatal. But this wasn’t her era, and she was good and trapped.

Two options. Death by their hands or death by her own. And being murdered by a revenant wasn’t…pleasant. Nor would it serve as a fitting end for one of her kind.

Well, to Hades with that! She was an Amazon—one of the chosen—and the Guardian of the others, no less. She had lived as a warrior, and she was damn well going to die like one. 

Beckoning all of her remaining power from the skies, she sent a warning on the wind to the three who remained. This Guardian was going to die, but not before she summoned another to take her place. The dawn of the next incarnation had come.

May the next have more discipline and power.

The vile creatures piled together, trying to push through the window as one. More crept up the fire escape.
“You’re too late.” Maria gave them a smug smile. “Your master will be displeased.” 

Then she jumped.


SO...what do you think? Prologue or no prologue?

Buy Links: Amazon    Barnes & Noble   Carina Press


  1. It's hard to tell without reading the rest of the book, but I really enjoyed the prologue. It sets up the story world well without being too long. I like that it gives a taste of the stakes for the rest of the characters.

  2. Sometimes, you just gotta have a prologue, but since the story isn't about Maria, I agree with your editor on this one. Still, it does give you an idea of what the other Amazons will face. Good luck with the new series!

  3. I agree, Cheryl. Mallory made the right call on this one. Another of a million reasons I adore her!!

  4. I too love reading and writing prologues. I think they can be powerful and as you said, set the tone. They can also show the reader what is at stake. I also think that they do better than a flashback or backstory dumps in conveying the information that the reader needs. The emotion is more immediate when they are used properly.

  5. I love them to, Susan!! I think I've had one in almost all my books. Alas...when all is said and done, most as cut for the sake of starting in the middle of action. Since this is urban fantasy, I agree my editor made the right call. AND I still got to share it with all of you. :)

  6. I'm a person who likes prologues. I think the current fad of short, quick books filled with action is a sad way to live. But, eh. True, the prologue done badly, such as one used to give back story, should not be included.

    I like your prologue. As a reader, I would immediately recognize it as an introduction to the world. I would understand that Maria's death is used to set up the novel's action. It wouldn't bother me to not see her again. But since I'm not the average reader, nor an editor, I realize that most people might not like it.

    Since I haven't read the rest of the book (although I just added it to my Goodreads list!) I can't say whether the prologue is essential. My guess is that it's not. In fact, the reader might understand this world better by meeting it through the eyes of your main character. So I think you're okay with leaving it out.

  7. I'm glad you enjoyed the prologue!! While I like it, I also see why my editor chose to sacrifice it. The story stands well alone. I am like you, however. I enjoy reading prologues. :)


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