Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Vampires and Werewolves and Witches, Oh My!

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Ok I’ve been AWOL the last few days, but for a very good reason! Now, before I say what that reason is, let me give a little disclaimer:

I’m about to talk about vampires.

So, if you don’t want to have anything to do with such a topic – run away with your hands over your ears now.

Still here? Well. You asked for it.

So here it is. I used to be a vampire buff. I know all the lore and have read everything pertaining to traditional vampires that there is.

So, just imagine how much I hated Stephanie Meyers when she created this:

I mean, come one – sparkling vampires??!?!

To any true vampire buff – Twilight is blasphemy of the highest order. If I could have, I would have purchased every single copy of all the books in that vile series just so I could throw them into my fireplace and watch them burn.

I hated Twilight so much, that it turned me off reading or writing anything to do with vampires for a very long time.

Then a friend of mine told me about The Vampire Diaries. To say I wasn’t interested would have been the understatement of the decade, but I promised to take a look.

I stalled. And stalled. But finally I gave in and watched it on Netflix.

I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it a little – so I watched another episode. Then I watched another, and another – and now I find myself in Season 3.

The first season was epic and the others have been good, although not as good as the first.

And now that I find myself in Season 3, I’ve analyzed what kept me watching – what hooked me in.

First, the show kept to most of the original deadliness of true vampire lore. I did notice where it strayed and after some thought, I know why the vampires of today are different from the vampires of Bram Stoker’s world.

The vampires of today are being written by authors who don’t like having a religious bent to their stories, thus – holy water, crosses, churches – anything religious is not harmful to vampires. Also, more writers are taking poetic license with their vampires. Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t.

The problem is, the vampires from Bram Stoker’s world were scary. Too many writers of today take out all the danger, the scariness from vampires by altering the lore.

The Vampire Diaries alters some of the lore successfully, while keeping just enough of the lore to make the vampires in the series truly believable as dangerous, murderous creatures of the night.

In any case, I’ve been enjoying the show and I’m looking forward to more.

Christmas Giveaway!

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Woot! The holidays are marching on steadily and in the spirit of giving, I’m participating in a giveaway!

Six authors (including myself) will be giving away awesome prizes – check it out HERE and make sure to enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Self-Publishing Finally Gets The Approval Stamp

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

While the indie community has long been aware of the fact that quality books are being self-published, it seems like that fact has finally been acknowledged.

A self-published author and TV reviewer, Alan Sepinwall, had his new book The Revolution Was Televised, reviewed by no less than the New York Times, and Forbes also gives the book honorable mention.

While one might say, “Well, he has a name to back his book.” One cannot deny that at least the means of self-publishing has lost that “bad aura” that so many in the traditional publishing world hate to admit is gone.

Hurrah for Alan Sepinwall! And may his book stay no.1 on Amazon’s charts for a long time.

Christmas Features!

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Samantha, a lovely blogger, invited me to guest post on my favorite christmas memories 🙂

Check it out here: http://samanthacombswrites.blogspot.com/2012/12/my-favorite-christmasby-kw-mccabe.html

Kobo Better Than Amazon?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Kobo Inc.

After the rising frustration with Amazon’s ham-handed tactics, as well as their new policy of kicking freebies, I decided that it was time to take a serious look at one of their competitors.

That’s right. Kobo.

While I’ve been registered on the Kobo Writing Life platform since it first opened in June, it wasn’t until November that any of my works were published there (due to technical difficulties with the Writing Life platform.)

Now, to be completely honest, the amount of technical difficulties ocurring with Writing Life when it first began turned me a little off. Extremely long processing dates for published works, difficulties in resolving issues with the online technical staff, and no downloads on even my free ebook offerings, certainly didn’t help my first impressions of the new platform.

On top of all these difficulties, I was flummoxed by Kobo’s ranking system. It certainly doesn’t correlate with my experience of the ranking system in Amazon or in Barnes and Noble. In fact, it confused me so much, I sent a note to the Kobo technical staff, and received this response:

Subject
Dashboard Problems
Discussion Thread
Response Via Email (Tara C) 12/05/2012 11:59 AM
Hi Kareen,

Thank you for contacting Kobo Writing Life.

I’m sorry that you’re encountering problems with our rankings. These figures aren’t based on sales alone. They include a number of factors, like the number of books uploaded into that specific genre.

Your dashboard reflects your sales information. If sales are made, we also send you a more detailed monthly sales report.

I hope that this has clarified this issue for you. If you require further clarification, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,
The Kobo Team

 _________________________________________________________ 

But even after I received the email from the Kobo staff, I still couldn’t figure out how the ranking system worked- which is essential to getting some idea of how the algorithms and listing process work in a publishing platform.

In a tizzy of frustration, I searched the web and discovered an old post by one of my favorite Google+ posters John Ward.  After receiving excellent encouragement from his quick response, I did some research on Kobo and ways to increase sales on that platform, and here was what I found:



Watching the video shed light on a number of things.

First, Mark mentions how the Kobo algorithms work. They’re based on history and listings – in a way similar to Amazon. However, he also stated, “We don’t want to create a ghetto…”

After watching the video, I went back to Kobobooks.com and did a basic, random search process for books, much as any reader who is looking for something to read might, and his statement became even more clear. Here are some of the ways I discovered that Kobo is both similar and different from Amazon:

  1. They use a ranking system, but your book is ranked whether you have had sales or not. This is different from Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s system – if you have had no sales, you have no ranking at all.
  2. They have a listing process, but it is not as diverse as Amazon’s or even Barnes and Noble’s. To see what I mean, check out Kobo’s listing vs Amazon’s and Barnes and Noble’s.
  3. Now others might have had a different experience, but my experience was this: Your book might not get visibility even though it’s free. This is very different from my experience with Amazon and Barnes and Noble. When my books are listed as free on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, they are downloaded- they are getting viewed. That was not and still has not been the case with my free offerings on Kobo. While there was a sale made on The Dragon’s Call, I still have not seen any downloads on my free ebook Dreams Both Real and Strange I.

This findings were, to be truthful, a little discouraging, but after doing additional research, I discovered the summary of the video above.

And the interesting thing about that summary was that the most helpful information I received didn’t come from the video itself, it came from the comments below!

Mark came back in the comments and directs readers to http://epubdeals.com.

Bingo!

This is gold.

It is, I believe, the best freebie offering site for epubbooks on Kobo as of right now. It works in an almost identical way to all the sites now offering free kindle read deals. The only difference is that this site, unlike Amazon’s new prohibition on freebie advertisement, is blessed and sanctioned by Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Kobo.

There was one other site I discovered: http://www.epubbooks.com/ but it doesn’t offer an author submission page as epubdeals does.

So is Kobo better than Amazon?

Not yet.

But it can be – and I believe that it will get there. And if more freebie sites comparable to epubdeals.com appear, I believe that it will grow into a competitor worthy of taking on Amazon.

Amazon Kicking Freebies

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Amazon is now demanding that sites cut down on the freebie ebooks they advertise.

Read here: Greg from eReader News Today explains.

What’s Up With That Price-Match???

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

I’ve been trying for some time to get Dreams Both Real and Strange I posted as FREE on Amazon.

Unfortunately, Amazon, engaged in their downward spiraling tred of doom, is not being quite as helpful as they once were.

While both Barnes and Noble and Kobo have complied with my request to make Dreams Both Real and Strange I Free, Amazon still has not.

In fact, when I sent an email to the KDP dept., this was the letter I received in response:

Kindle Direct Publishing
Dec 1 (3 days ago)

to me
Hello,

Thank you for your information on pricing. From time to time, we may match free promotions on other sales channels, but we retain discretion over our retail prices.

In the future, you can let us know about lower prices through our website by clicking the link to “Tell us about a lower price” under the “Product Details” section for your title.

Thanks for using KDP.

============================================
If you need to provide us with more information about this issue, please Reply to this e-mail.

Otherwise, did we answer your question? Do you have another question? Use the appropriate link below. You may need to copy and paste the full link into your browser:

Yes, you answered it:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A4R4T17AVYWJ2&k=hy

No, you did not answer it:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A4R4T17AVYWJ2&k=hn

I have another question:
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us
============================================

Regards,

Pratheep S
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com
=============================
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing
Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/AmazonKDP

—- Original message: —-

Publisher Code: A20QBMRXHZNCRS
Customer Name: K W MCCABE
Subject: Book Price Matching

Hello,

My book Dreams Both Real and Strange ASIN: B0068YY3EG is available for free on Barnes and Nobles here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dreams-both-real-and-strange-kw-mccabe/1107874091?ean=2940032877684

I would like the price to be changed to free both here and on the amazon.co.uk site as well please.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Ah well, Amazon. The love I once had for you has diminished, me thinks….

Google+ and the Indie Uprising

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

I’ve read many posts lately from various authors commenting on the changes in Amazon’s algorithms.

Not only that, but on top of the changes Amazon has made – Facebook has changed their policies on regarding self-promo.

And one thing has become clear:

The face of the Indie Revolution is changing yet again.

Amazon’s change in how their algorithms help indies  and Facebook’s change in their self-promo policies do not have to spell the end of the Indie Revolution. What indies must now do, is change the way they think about how they offer their books.

And the amount of determination writers put into this process will distinguish those who make it and those who don’t.

After reading several of these articles, many things have become clear:

  1. The social media world is changing and indies who want to be able to get their content out to readers for free must change the platforms they utilize.
  2. The self-publishing industry is changing and indies who do not want to be left behind must diversify their self-publishing platforms.

“But how?!” you ask.

I’ll tell you.

First, if you do not have a Google + account – GET ONE NOW.

I posted some time ago an experiment I performed comparing the connections I was able to make on Facebook vs the amount of connections I made on Google+  Read Part I and Part II

And if you take a look at both my Facebook and Google+ account today, you will see that my conclusion still holds true.

“What the hell does this have to do with Facebook charging me for self-promo?!” you ask.

I’ll tell you.

Facebook may charge for self-promo – but Google + does not.

AND Google + out-performs Facebook in the ability to create a multitude of connections – if used correctly.

I won’t go into discussing how to use Google+ correctly at the moment, as I already have discussed this in other posts.

Once you have looked into using free social media platforms to get yourself out there, it is important to go on to the next step as an indie author:

Indie authors must diversify their self-publishing platforms, and here’s how:

  1. Begin to aggressively advertise the selling of your books on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.
  2. See point 1.


Too many authors are still utilizing the KDP Select program in Amazon when, truthfully, the glory days of that program are in the past.

Indie authors must begin to aggressively advertise their books on other platforms if they don’t want to be financially dependent on a indie-destroying-giant Amazon’s ever-changing algorithms.

Conclusion?

I’ll say it again because it can not be emphasized too many times:

  1. Get a Google+ account now.
  2. Aggressively advertise your books on other self-publishing platforms.

Write on – and as a responder on someone else’s blog aptly stated, “May the algos be ever in your favor.”



The Dragon’s Call Chapter 7

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Chapter 7

 

The Recollections of Todd Burns Anno Draconis 3-20-0023

My immunity helped, for a time. My gift, my ability to sense dragonkind’s whereabouts was an asset, priceless in its utility. I directed my men to attack, when possible, from a distance, keeping them away from the Call. We were fewer than the last encounter, and we dwindled with each battle.

With every attack and slight encounter I had with dragonkind, the traitorous ache, the ability to sense their presence, the strange feeling of familiarity, increased. Fire fell, like white lava, roasting the men below…and yet it grew. Their wings whipped like sails against the broken sky, and still the need swelled within me.

Toward the end, the need became an agonized desire to feel the wind, the sun, and the sky.

Anno Draconis 1-20-0051

Cecily woke to darkness. She’d set the alarm to go off early in order to leave and get to class without dealing with Daniel. There was no way she’d continue the fight from the day before. Avoiding him and her dad once she arrived home had been easy enough, even though being stuck in her room had sucked. Now, she had to leave before they woke.

She fumbled in the dark, moving around the bed’s edge. When she reached the dresser’s lamp, she switched it on. Light flooded the feminine room. Her mom had insisted on buying ruffled quilts when Cecily would have liked something less frilly. Matching lace curtains hung from the window, and pillows of varying size covered the bed.

The room was very clean. She’d carefully placed all her books in alphabetical order on the shelf above the dresser. Inside her closet, shoes sat in a neat row and clothes hung on hangers pointing in the same direction. She looked around. Everything looked perfect. She found her school clothes and dressed quickly.

Once dressed, Cecily grabbed her schoolbooks, tiptoed down the stairs, then paused at the front door. Should she have breakfast?

In that tense moment of silence, someone moved upstairs and Cecily fled out the door. By the time she reached school and entered class, she was out of breath. She looked around for her seat and saw Derek and Tariq. She smiled, feeling relieved. At least Brian and Jessica would stay out of her hair as long as he was around.

When lunch came, Cecily ached with hunger. Skipping breakfast might not have been the best idea she’d ever had. She sat down at her lunch and focused ravenously on the food. Once satisfied, she leaned back and glanced at Derek who sat next to her. He was watching her, his eyes dark and somber.

She surveyed his face and realized something. She could look him in the eye without feeling like drowning now. Weird.

Derek shifted in his seat. “I wanted to ask what you had planned for this weekend.”

She sent him a questioning look. “Nothing, I usually just stay home and study or clean the house. Why?”

He glanced at Tariq and responded, “Well, I thought I’d try watching some of the old human-made movies. Would you like to watch with me at my place?”

She raised her eyebrows. Derek wasn’t asking her on a date or something, was he?

He misunderstood her expression and hastened to clarify. “We wouldn’t be alone or anything. Tariq would be there. Goodness knows he’s an effective enough chaperone.” He shot Tariq an acerbic look.

She couldn’t believe it. Derek was asking her on a date. “So, you don’t want to be just friends?”

Derek’s gaze snapped to hers. “We’re friends if you want us to be.” His voice sounded hesitant.

Cecily bit her lip. This was awkward. Why couldn’t Derek just tell her what he wanted? Avoiding the issue was probably a good idea. “I don’t mind hanging out this weekend. What are we going to watch?”

Derek smiled. “You’ll see. Come here to the school tomorrow around noon and I’ll pick you up.”

Cecily’s heart jumped at his smile. “All right.”

Once school ended, she left Derek and Tariq and headed toward the house immediately. The last thing she wanted was to meet up with Daniel and go through a repeat of the day before. She walked home in silence, the crunch of broken asphalt beneath her shoes blending with the low songs from the Tenders finishing up their work in the woods.

She felt so strange. She’d never done anything reckless before. She was the responsible one, quiet, neat, clean and good. Daniel had always been the wild child.

Now she was doing something a little wild – and it felt good.

***

 

 

Sleeping was hard. The plants, trees, and blooming flowers outside the house rustled in the night air, a gentle whisper in Cecily’s ears. The sound had always soothed her before, but now it felt like everything would keep her awake. She finally fell asleep during the dusky hours between night and morning. She woke up to light streaming through the bedroom window, and bounced out of bed. She could almost relate to Tara’s insane bunny-rabbit act now.

 Getting ready was even more difficult. Should she dress up and do hair and makeup? No. Both Dad and Daniel would notice. She only used makeup for school dances. She couldn’t dress too cute either. They would notice that also. So semi-cute would have to do.

Cecily pulled on some jeans, a dark green baby tee, and her boots. Moving in front of the bedroom door mirror, she stopped and surveyed her hair. It was long and shiny with a hint of wave. When it was short it curled, but she’d let it grow halfway down her back. She grabbed a brush and did what she could. Her mother had loved to style her hair in long tiny braids, which was why Cecily kept it so long. She preferred it shorter but, like most things that reminded her of her mother, she kept it the way it had been.

By the time she finished, it was past eleven. As long as she didn’t stop to eat she’d have time to get to the school. The walk was only fifteen minutes anyway. She grabbed her book sack with schoolbooks – this was the part that would have to fool Dad and Daniel – and left her room.

She tramped down the stairs, then paused with one hand on the front door knob. The living room was quiet except for the soft sounds of someone turning pages in a book. It was probably Daniel doing homework. She twisted the knob and called over her shoulder, “I’m heading over to Stacy’s house to study! I’ll be back later.”

There was a muffled noise of surprise.

Laughing, she darted outside and slammed the door. She’d always wondered what made Daniel so reckless,
what it felt like, and now she knew. She felt buoyant with life.

Cecily hurried up the street and took the long route to avoid getting caught. By the time she arrived at the school parking lot, she was winded from jogging part of the way. The only vehicle there was a black BMW, and one of its tinted windows rolled down as she walked up.

Derek leaned out the window. “Hey.”

She smiled. “Hey back. Are we going now?”

“Yes, here you go.” He opened the passenger door.

She sent a nod to Tariq in the back seat and settled in. Turning, she swept her eyes around the car in wonder. Humans weren’t allowed vehicles without special dispensation since the end of the dragon wars. Cars weren’t even built anymore. The only cars in existence were dragon-built, and what human could afford an object made with dragon magic?

She straightened in her seat and buckled up. “I’ve never been in a car before. My dad used to tell me about cars.”

“How do you like it?”

 “It feels different from walking.”

He laughed. “That’s true. Just relax and enjoy the ride.”

“So are you going to tell me what we’re going to watch?”

“Nope, you’ll see when we start watching. Are you hungry?”

Cecily nodded, hiding her relief. “I didn’t eat breakfast.”

“All right, we’ll pick up some food on the way there. There’s an excellent dragon-owned burrito shop not too far from my place.”

They drove to the shop and Derek ordered enough food to feed a small army.

Cecily stared at the bags of burritos. “Can you really eat all that?”

“That’s just a snack.”

She blinked, dismayed, and he laughed.

When they arrived at his apartment, she grabbed a bag of food, stepped out of the car, and looked around. Derek’s BMW stood out in the worst way. The apartments on each side of the street were old and run-down, and his car was the only one there. She followed as Derek and Tariq, arms packed high with bags of burritos, tramped up the stairs.

Pausing to balance the bags, Derek unlocked the door to the lobby. He looked back and motioned for Cecily to join them.

She moved ahead of them and gazed around, dismayed. The interior was as dingy as the outside of the building. The light was dim, the hallway walls were gray, and the burgundy stairway carpeting was torn and stained.

“There’s been no crime since Tariq and I moved in. I think the other tenants are secretly happy,” Derek said cheerfully. “Come on.” He led the way up the stairs and stopped in front of the first apartment. After he unlocked it, he motioned her forward.

Cecily went inside and looked around. The inside was old and dingy like the outside of the apartment. No surprise there, but how he could live in such a place if he was used to luxury items like cars?

She looked back as Derek carried in the bags of food. Tariq came in and deposited his bags on the kitchen table before grabbing half-a-dozen burritos. He gave them both a short nod and went inside one of the bedrooms down the hall.

Derek glanced at her. “You like comedic action movies?”

“Sure, they’re all right.”

 “Good, let’s grab some of the food and sit down.”

Cecily shook her head at the bags piled on the table, then dug through them and looked for the one she’d ordered. After a moment, she gave up. There were just so damn many. After grabbing a random burrito, she sat on the couch to eat. When she bit into it, she had to wrinkle her nose.

Derek grabbed a couple of burritos, produced a transmitter from somewhere, and flipped on the light screen.

Cecily stared at the glowing, amorphous light in awe. “So that’s a light screen. Dragon-built with dragon magic, right?” She glanced at Derek.

“Yes, you’ve never seen one?”

She shook her head. “They’re dragon-built,” she said. “Only extremely rich humans can afford dragon-built items.”

Derek nodded thoughtfully. “I see.” He sat next to her and started the movie. “I think you might like it.” He glanced down at her uneaten food. “You don’t like it?”

She felt her face warm. “It’s cold.”

“Ah.” His green eyes sparkled. “Give it here.”

She handed the burrito over and he took it in both hands and blew. Emerald green sparkles suffused the wrapper in a brilliant, wavering glow. She gasped. So that was the magic the adults feared, the magic dragons used to fuel new technology and old things from before the war. Dragon magic. But Derek’s magic didn’t seem bad. His was beautiful.

He looked her over, clearly checking to see if she was afraid, then grinned. “Here you go.”

She nearly dropped the burrito as the green sparkles faded away and left it hot to the touch. “Thanks,” she murmured. She finished eating self-consciously, aware of his closeness. Should she lean against the armrest? She didn’t want to look like she was avoiding him. Undecided and nervous, she almost didn’t hear Derek’s question.

“So, Cecily, comedies are ‘just all right’? What movies do you like better?”

She flushed.

Derek scanned her face. “Is it something embarrassing for humans?”

He had no idea. Who liked the human movies ancient enough to be in black and white? She gave an embarrassed laugh. “A little bit. I love the really old romances, but not ones that end happily. The tragic ones like Gone with the Wind and Romeo and Juliet.

He sent her a curious look. “You don’t like happy endings?”

She shrugged, feeling the sliver of distance between them on the couch. “‘Happy endings just don’t make sense to me. They haven’t since Mom disappeared.”

He sobered. “I see. Maybe you’ll like the ending in this one today?”

She smiled. “Maybe.”

Derek returned her smile and turned back to the movie, sliding an arm behind her.

Cecily stared at the screen, her heart jumping as his arm brushed her back. The worst part was, unlike her, he seemed unaffected. She felt a stab of irritation. Well, why would he be? He only wanted to be friends.

Derek laughed at something in the movie and glanced her way. When she smiled, he grinned and turned back.

Time crawled by and Cecily’s back burned from sitting rigid until Derek slid his arm down and pulled her to his side.

Her heart flew to her throat and she stiffened, then inhaled. He smelled wonderful. Like sunny breezes and warm April showers. Did all dragons smell like that?

She relaxed and leaned into him. She didn’t realize how close they were until Derek turned his head and looked straight into her eyes. She froze and the exhilarating feeling of his gaze swept over her. Was he going to kiss her?

His head bent and she lifted her face. When Derek’s lips touched hers, she flushed with heat and slid her arms up around his shoulders. His fingers ran through her hair and she shivered. When he finally pulled away, she blinked.

Derek smiled. “You okay?”

“Yes.” Cecily cleared her throat. “Does this mean you don’t want to be friends?”

His eyes glinted with amusement. “We are if you want us to be.”

Great. Cecily huffed. Who knew dragons could be a tease?

Derek laughed. “No, I would like more than friendship from you.” He hesitated. “Do you feel the same?”

Hah. He had to ask? She pretended to think hard. When he started to look apprehensive, she gave in and laughed. “I do. Don’t look so nervous.”

He exhaled. “I couldn’t help it. You had me worried.”

“I’m sorry. You should have seen your face, though.”

<

div>”Well, I was nervous. Your father won’t be happy.”

Cecily winced. She’d forgotten about Dad. She thought for a moment, then exhaled. “I’m not telling my dad, and once I turn eighteen it won’t matter. When I graduate I won’t be in the enclave anyway.”

Derek raised his eyebrows. “You won’t? Where will you be? When do you turn eighteen?”

She eyed him. They had a lot to talk about. “I turn eighteen next month on the 28th, and I’ve already received my dispensation to apply to colleges. I’ll be going this summer, hopefully.”

Derek looked incredulous. “So you’re leaving?”

She blinked, surprised. “I thought you realized what would happen when I told you Daniel was going away to college.”

“I never connected his leaving with the possibility of you leaving.”

She gave him a crooked smile. “You could always go to college.”

Derek cocked his head. “I suppose I could.”

“You’ll learn about humans just as much there,” Cecily pointed out.

“True.” Derek flicked her a sideways look. “Would you like me to come?”

“Only if you want to,” she teased.

“All right,” he decided. “If you want me to come, it might be fun.”

She grinned. “Oh, good.” She laughed as Derek pounced on her.

Pulling her onto his lap, Derek teased, “Now let’s watch the last five minutes of this movie, or I’ll be mad I didn’t get my money’s worth.”

***

 

 

The movie took longer than five minutes, but it didn’t matter. Cecily couldn’t remember anything from it anyway. When it was over, she took a quick look at the clock hanging on the kitchen wall, then peeked out the window behind the couch. The sky wasn’t dark yet, but it was turning pink. She needed to leave to get home before curfew.

Derek called for Tariq, then helped her to stand. “Do you want to do this again tomorrow?”

“You mean watch movies here again?”

He shook his head. “I have something planned. I think you’ll like it.”

“Sure, when?”

“Same time. I’ll meet you at the school.”

Behind them, Tariq cleared his throat, and Derek rolled his eyes and grabbed the car keys.

The sun was setting by the time Derek reached the school.

Cecily climbed out the car and waved before hurrying toward the cottage. When she arrived, she went straight to her room and locked the door. She wanted to tell someone, preferably Tara. Unfortunately, that girl couldn’t keep a secret, and they still weren’t talking anyway.

Cecily sighed and pulled out her schoolbooks. Derek had hinted at something special, so it wasn’t likely she’d have time to study the next day.

Sneak Preview Look at Dragon Kin Chapter 5

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Cecily

 

I’m afraid, sometimes, of the surprises that always seem to change the course of my life. I wouldn’t give up those things for the world, though. Still, I have to wonder how many surprises can occur before one of them leads to pain. I hope they never do.

I haven’t regretted any of the changes that have happened yet, and I’m starting to think I shouldn’t be afraid of change at all.

 

 


CHAPTER 5

 

 

Four weeks later…

Cecily looked over the group of friends piled into her living room who’d grown so close to her. The study group was there along with Derek, Tariq, Tara, Daniel and her dad.

“I’m going to miss you!” Tara’s face was wet with tears as she threw her arms around Cecily.

Cecily felt her eyes burn and hugged Tara back. “I’ll miss you too,” she gave a teary laugh, “but I know who you’ll miss more.”

Tara’s face flushed as she shot a mournful glance toward Daniel who was chatting with Aaron, Miguel, Nathan, and Derek and Tariq. “Yes,” Tara murmured, her eyes welling up. “He promised he’ll come back for me though.”

Cecily’s heart ached for Tara and she nodded. “Two years isn’t very long.” She gave Tara a squeeze. “Go on over there. You know you want to.”

Tara gave her a teary smile, turned and headed toward Daniel.

Cecily swallowed against a strange pang of happiness mixed with regret as she watched Tara join Daniel. Everything had changed in such a short amount of time. Daniel’s knee was fully healed and the scouts from New Oxford had offered him a full scholarship. Tara would start at Lyman’s along with the rest of the guys from the study group in another week.

And Cecily would be heading off with Daniel, Solon, and Cassia to New Oxford the next day. At least one thing hadn’t changed: Derek and Tariq would be coming along. She smiled at the thought. Derek was finally going to get to fulfill that promise he’d made months before.

“This is for you, Cecily.”

Cecily jumped and turned to look at her father who placed a worn, faded journal in her hands. She frowned down at it. “What is this, Dad?”

There was warmth and concern in his eyes. “I started this journal on my eighteenth birthday.” He reached forward, opened it and pointed to the very first entry. “See? The date starts when I was eighteen.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Why are you giving this to me? You don’t need it?”

He didn’t seem to hear her question. His gaze was still focused on the browning pages of the journal. “I wrote these entries for years. It was a safe way to vent about dragonkind.” He met her gaze. “There are things in there I have a feeling you will need.” He closed the book and gave it a soft pat as it rested in her palms. “Read it. You’ll need what’s inside.”

She looked back down at the aged book lying in her palms and furrowed her brow.

“What’s going on, Cecily? You okay?”

The book almost slid out of Cecily’s hands and she laughed. “You startled me, Derek.” She turned and looked up into his eyes.

He smiled down at her and drew her into his arms. “Sorry about that. How are you enjoying the going away party so far?”

She shrugged. “Just thinking how I’m going to miss everyone.”

He gave a sympathetic nod. “It won’t be for long, just–”

A loud banging started on the door.

Everyone fell silent and turned toward the noise.

Derek saw Cecily swallow, and frowned. Who could be at the door? It was nowhere near curfew, and everyone Cecily knew was here inside the house. He glanced at Cecily’s father who looked grim.

“I’ll get it.” Cecily’s voice sounded uncertain as she made a move to walk toward the front.

Derek caught her arm. “No, I’ll get it.” He motioned Tariq to follow him and stalked the short way from the living room into the foyer and opened the door. When he saw who it was, he nearly cursed. “Anos, what the hell are you doinghere?” he hissed.

Anos’ face was pale and haggard. “Derek, things are worsening at the enclave.”

Derek pressed his lips together. “We discussed this already, Anos. I have no intention of leaving Cecily.”

His cousin nodded. “I know, but can you not listen? I’ve spoken to the rest of the coterie.”

Derek raised his eyebrows. “Well?”

Anos shifted, seeming uncomfortable. “Beon has joined Sahak.”

Derek stiffened. “I…see.”

“But the others in the coterie are still on your side,” Anos said hurriedly, “accept for Alyssa.”

“She has joined Sahak’s cause then?”

“No, she says she still may not pick one side over the other.”

Derek snorted. “I don’t see how she has a choice at this point. Sahak will rip her apart.”

“No, she is protected by the laws of dragonkind.” Anos paused and sent Derek a speculative look. “She is gravid. She says she does not know whether the offspring is yours or Sahak’s.”

Derek went still. “You lie.”

“I do not.” Anos’ voice became tense. “Furthermore, in the midst of the Queen’s dereliction of the Dragon Throne, Sahak has reclaimed his residence in the human enclave.”

Derek felt his temper sparking. The draakon didn’t give a damn about Cecily or any other human. How dare they use the situation to manipulate him now. “Why would that be of concern to the draakon who do not seem to care one way or another for humankind?”

“We know that you seem to care, Lord Derek. We know you are planning to leave this place and travel to the east coast with your human.” Anos paused. “Perhaps, if your human knew the circumstances, she would not be so quick to drag you away from your responsibilities.”

Derek fell silent. When he spoke again, he lowered his voice. “The Queen relieved me of those responsibilities when she rejected Cecily as my true mate.”

“You are wrong, Derek. Your responsibilities remain. It is up to you to pick up the mantle.”

Derek shook his head. “I’m not going to argue with you about this. I am leaving. I will tell you where I am going in case anything else happens – on one condition.”

“Whatever it is, Derek, ask.” Anos pressed his lips together. “If it is within my clan’s power to provide it, we shall.”

Derek watched his face carefully. “I want you to watch over Cecily’s father – protect him while we are gone.”

Anos’ eyes widened, and he gave a slow nod. “I give my word. I’ll watch over the human.”

“Good. I’ll give the location where we will be staying.” Derek pau
sed. “Don’t abuse this. I won’t come back unless Cecily is accepted at my side.”

Anos’ gray eyes were intense. “The next time I come to you, Lord Derek, it will be with the news the draakon are ready for your… and your true mate’s… return.”

Derek gave a sharp nod. “You and any other of the draakon will be able to locate me at Orange, the human enclave closest to New Oxford.”

“Thank you, Derek.” Anos paused. “I will convince the coterie and the draakon. I have sworn it, Derek.”

Derek felt a pang of misgiving. He’d always hated the idea of court life. What would he and Cecily do if Anos was successful?

“Take care, Anos.”

Anos turned away down the stairs and Derek shut the door. What would he do if Anos convinced the draakon to accept Cecily? Derek had already given his oath, but would Cecily be able to handle the draakon?

Derek walked back to the living room, deep in thought – then noticed the dead silence of the room and looked up.

Everyone in the room looked at him, then at Cecily whose face was pale and her eyes wide. “So that snide female dragon I saw in your apartment is pregnant – and it might be yours?”

 Hell-fires. He’d forgotten Cecily had been listening. Derek reached for her. “Cecily, I’m sure she’s just saying that because she wants to keep her fingers on the throne.”

Her eyes welled with tears and Cecily jerked away and ran from the living room upstairs.

“Cecily!” Derek made a move to go after her.

Mr. Burns grabbed his arm and shook his head. “Let her have a moment.” He paused, his face darkening. “You better be sincere, Derek. I give my oath. You hurt her and I’ll figure out a way to take you down, leg missing or no.”