The Cracked Chronicles, Book 2
K.D. Van Brunt
romance/paranormal/urban fantasy – 100K
In the sequel to Win the Rings, Gray is now a prisoner at Cracked, forced to undergo combat training under the supervision of his nemesis, Jace. He soon learns first hand why all the other kids at Cracked are scared to death of her, but he also finds a chink in her armor and they both realize they have an eerie connection to one another.
Gradually, Gray is drawn into Jace’s dangerous world of Special Ops missions, where death waits like a shadow in every corner.
For Jace, Gray poses a new kind of threat. Although she’s proficient in all types of combat, Jace’s training hasn’t prepared her for him, and she is forced to confront feelings she has never experienced before.
I give three raps on Jace’s door, precariously balancing an armload of her clothes in one hand and her newly pressed uniform jacket in the other. I’ve been Jace’s personal valet and general all-around slave for over six weeks now, bustling from one task to another, while trying not to incur her prickly wrath. And even though much of what she makes me do is demeaning, curiously I find myself stealing looks at her when she’s not paying attention to me.
“Come in,” Jace says through the closed door.
I try to stick my thumb on the bio-sensor pad next to her door, but the action causes me to lose my balance just enough to send the pile of clothes cascading to the floor. There are no outside doorknobs here, just these small rectangular pads beside every door, which read your thumbprint and release the lock.
“Shit!” I curse.
I drop to my knees to salvage what I can and refold the rest. The door opens behind me causing me to flinch. I look up at Jace wondering if she’s going to give me a swift kick to the ribs for this, but she just stands in the doorway tapping her foot impatiently on the floor. She has her arms folded across her chest looking peeved, and I see she’s dressed in old sweats and a loose-fitting camo tank top. She doesn’t have a bra on. For some reason I blush at this, as if I walked in on her while she was dressing.
“I should make you re-wash all of this, Gray, but I’m feeling generous tonight.”
“Excuse me. Did you say Gray, sir?” This would be the first time she’s used my first name since I got here. Until now it’s been rookie, rook, newbie, new meat—among others terms of endearment.
She shrugs. “I suppose you’ve earned the right to be called by your first name. Don’t let it go to your head.”
“Whatever,” she says with a sigh. “Now listen up. My bathroom needs cleaning. So get this mess picked up and get to work on it.”
Five minutes later, I’m standing in front of her dresser putting away her newly refolded clothes. I’ve memorized by now the layout of her drawers—underwear and socks in the top drawer, shirts and pajamas in the second, pants, etc., in the third. There’s a fourth and fifth drawer, but I’m not supposed to open those, so I don’t know what she’s hiding in there. Finishing, I glance over at Jace, who’s sitting cross-legged on her bed flipping through a magazine—Jane’s Intelligence Review. Gee, that looks like a fun read. Her blonde hair is so fine and soft I feel this irrational urge to run my hands through it, even though she’d probably kick me in the groin if I tried. She’s leaning forward to study the magazine and my eyes lock onto her tank top, which is gapping enough to almost flash her entire, braless chest at me. I gawk for a moment, but then feeling like a perv, I advert my gaze.
“Don’t stare at me, Gray. Get to work. The cleaning supplies are under the sink.”
I nod, but I think I detect a subtle, knowing smirk on her face.
Every room in the dorm is laid out the same—a main living area and a small bathroom off one end of the room. The best that can be said about the bathrooms here is they’re functional: toilet, sink and commode, and a shower. No bathtubs. Sighing, I pull out a bristle brush and get to work on the stainless steel toilet bowl.
“You ever been to Alaska, Gray?” Jace asks after a few minutes, when I’ve moved on to scrub the shower stall.
I hesitate, puzzled by the question. “Once. Anchorage, sir.”
I hear her sigh loudly. “You can call me Jace from now on. What was it like?”
I hesitate, briefly surprised by the realization I don’t have to call her ‘sir’ anymore, but at this point it’s been so deeply drilled into me I’m not sure I’m capable of calling her anything else.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vthvY3hdzwI
The Road to Being Published
The first and toughest hurdle for an aspiring writer is to write the story. The next hurdle is getting the story “published.” This second hurdle can be huge or not so huge. That’s because of the range of options available to writers today. The bottom line is, if you can write the story, you can get it published—that’s not to say it’s easy, just that it’s attainable. Which publication option is best? The answer is going to vary for each person.
Most writers want to at least try the traditional publishing route—get an agent and sell their manuscript to one of the big name publishers. For most of us, this is difficult. The hard reality is that very few manuscripts make it. But, if you’re dedicated to your craft, able to handle rejection, and willing to be persistent, you can definitely improve the odds, maybe even turn them in your favor. In most cases, though, this is going to take some time.
What if the agent route isn’t working or just isn’t what you want? You can submit your story directly to publishers that accept unagented submissions. There are a many of them out there. Most, but not all, are of modest size and independent. If you do your research and carefully compile your list of possible publishers, this can be a great option for a writer. Still, it’s no shoe in. If a publisher doesn’t like your story and doesn’t think he can sell it, you’re probably going to be rejected. Having said that, though, these publishers are much more willing to look at stories aimed at niche markets or that are outside the current market trends in fiction.
Of course, like everything in life, not everyone has a wonderful experience. You can find a lot of feedback online about small/indie publishing. Study it. See if, on balance, this is something that might work for you. One thing for sure is you’re going to have to put in a lot of time and work marketing your book. You should be doing this any way, no matter what publishing option you pursue, but it’s critical for the smaller publishers.
Then, of course, there’s the self-publishing option (although an interesting alternative to self-publishing to think about is Amazon’s new Kindle Scout program).
The benefits of self-publishing include the fact that you have full control over your story and no one is going to reject you. This can be good or bad. You’re going to have to do all the work (or pay someone to do it for you), but if you have the skills or you hire someone good, you can turn out a very professional looking book. One potential problem with self-publishing is that without a “gatekeeper” handing out rejections, and thereby forcing people to improve their writing in order to make the cut, the quality of self-published stories is spotty to say the least. And readers know this. So, you have to work especially hard to market your book, but if you have a good, well-written story and you’re willing to roll up your marketing sleeves, your self-published story can really flourish. There are certainly some amazing success stories out there to emulate.
What’s my publishing story? I wrote the three books of the Cracked Chronicles (yes, book three is done) with initially little more than vague thoughts about how I would get the series published. When I finished and turned to publishing options, I discovered that the market for young adult urban fantasy was a bit saturated—at least from the standpoint of the big publishers. Translation: it was going to be a difficult sell getting an agent/traditional publisher to buy into it. So, rather than waste six to nine months in a likely unsuccessful endeavor, I decided to skip the agent route for these books and go directly to small/independent publishers who were publishing books like mine. This was the right choice for me. I’ve had a wonderful experience with Evernight Teen—they work hard with their authors to make their books the best they can be and position them so they can succeed in the marketplace.
Whatever publishing route writers choose to follow, the key is persistence. If you don’t give up, your story will get published.
K.D. Van Brunt
During the eight hours of the day when I’m not writing, reading or sleeping, I’m a lawyer in Washington, DC. I grew up in Southern California, moved to Seattle before coming east to Boston to go to school. Now, I live in the great state of Maryland with my wife, my dog—a standard poodle named Buffy (and who do you think named her?), and my hot Camaro. One of the few things I like better than pizza is driving fast. So, if you happen be in the DC area and a black Camaro with a red stripe and a rear spoiler roars by and blows your doors off…thaaat could be me.