I tracked down the altered chapters of Always on Guard and I've posted the first 20 of them today. I'll post the remaining 12 chapters tomorrow (I hope).
There is very little change to the plot but I think it helps the reader understand the character of Denae a little better.
Denae's character was always intended to be self-involved -- but also self-deluded. The eavesdropping on conversation was the first hint I dropped. She likes to have the upper hand.
I tried to foreshadow her inner demons with her interactions with Queen Lorida. In the initial assessment, Lorida was the typical "evil stepmother." But by carving away layers, the reader recognizes that the initial interpretation was solely determined by point-of-view. She was opposing Denae, so she was the enemy (when the reader believed Denae to be a fairy tale princess).
I'll give you a preview to one of the quotes in Part II of the story. Jorgarn and Pernice are sitting and discussing Reyna and Denae. Jorgarn says (and this is not exact I don't think):
"I always pictured Denae and Rayna as two children playing dress up. Neither fully understood how life would truly be when it came time to wear the clothing for real."
The thing I think most of the complaint writers have overlooked is a simple truism of all teenaged females, be it in Emertland or in Nebraska: They are remarkably self-absorbed. To be a young woman who suddenly came to understand exactly how much power you possess would be an immense burden. Young woman throughout time and history have found power in their looks, in their sexuality and in their heritage. Most had to settle for only two of the three. But to suddenly, even if you had been groomed for a role your entire life, to suddenly find yourself with all three? I don't think the results would be pretty (and, if you would care to research European history from the Middle Ages, you will see that it was not).
I have shepherded one daughter through her teen years and now have another fully immersed in them. I have witnessed the excitement a young woman displays when she sees young men taking notice of her. I have born witness to young women using their wiles to get young men to do their bidding. I have have seen the sense of accomplishment that flashes across a young woman's face for the briefest of instances when they understand how they got their way and how to do it again.
That's Denae. A coddled child who has come to find herself immensely powerful and desirable. She had a virtually friendless childhood and now has admirers from the highest echelons of society. I wrote how I believe she would have reacted.
Despite the few critical emails I've received, I still believe that any young woman in her position would have behaved exactly as I've written.
I hope that you'll continue to enjoy the story.
Best wishes to all,