“What are you going to tell Dragon?” My husband, Miles, looked at me, his brow furrowed and the corners of his usually smiling mouth turned down.
“Shhhh!” I poked my head out of the laundry room and scanned the hallway. Hearing Dragon snoring in the conference room, I returned to Miles and took one end of the fitted sheet he was trying to fold. “Keep your voice down. I don’t want her to hear us.”
Miles lowered his voice. “She’s going to find out eventually. It would be best if you told her. Remember how she reacted before?”
I nodded. I remembered the hurt in her eyes, the scorn in her voice, the look of betrayal on her reptilian face. I didn’t want to go through that again.
“Well? What are you going to tell her, then?” Miles gave me a searching look.
I furrowed my brow and chewed on my lower lip as Miles and I finished folding the sheet. “I’ll think of something.”
A short while later, I was in my office with the door closed. My Old Dwarf shouldered the door open, turning the doorknob with one hand while munching a ham he held in his other hand. He plopped down in a chair next to me. “Be ye busy, lass?”
“I would have thought the closed door would convey that impression.” I gave him an icy glare.
“Oh, did tha door been closed? I dinna be noticin’.” He looked at my computer monitor. “What be ye doin’?”
I immediately minimized the window, hiding the image that had filled the screen. “Nothing important.”
“Good. Then we kin be chattin’.” He took a big bite of the ham, then continued talking around the mouthful of food. “Lass, I be worried aboot tha big beastie.”
I tried to ignore the bits of ham that fell from the dwarf’s mouth onto his grizzled beard. “Dragon? Why are you worried about her?”
“She be seemin’ out o sorts tha past few days.”
I sighed. “She gets this way every winter, you know that. She’ll spend the rest of the winter huddled in front of her illusory fireplace, grumbling and fuming about the cold.”
“Ye think thet be all there be ta it?” The dwarf looked relieved.
“I’m sure of it.” I gave him a big smile and a reassuring pat on his hand.
He jumped out of his seat and headed out the door, humming around another mouthful of food.
After my Old Dwarf left, I got up, closed the door, and returned to my computer. I brought up the image I had been viewing before the interruption.
“Is that about the book where your new dragon lives?”
I jumped up, almost knocking over my chair. I shot a quick glance at the door – it was still closed tight. “How did you get in here?” I gaped at Dragon.
“That matters not. I am here.” She looked pointedly at the image on the monitor. “Is that about the book where your new dragon lives?”
I nodded, not knowing what to say.
“It is to be published soon?” Thin tendrils of smoke drifted from her snout.
“Yes.” I pointed to the monitor. “It will be available online starting November 27.”
Dragon stared at the image for several long minutes. “It states that the anthology explores the topic of journeys.”
Dragon looked at me, and I nodded my affirmation.
Dragon narrowed her eyes. “To what wondrous and exotic places does your new dragon go?”
I wrinkled my forehead. “He does not take a literal journey. The dragon in that story is on the journey of life, a journey of discovery.”
Dragon studied the image again. “The other stories, the essays, the poems in this anthology – do they all involve dragons?”
I laughed. “No.”
Dragon frowned, and the smoky tendrils drifting from her nose darkened. “Are they all about journeys of life and discovery?”
I tilted my head and rubbed the back of my neck. “Well, no. Each story, essay, and poem in the anthology is a unique interpretation of the concept of a journey. Each author has their own understanding of the topic. I, myself, have a second story in the anthology that involves a cowboy’s journey from grief, guilt, and blame to understanding and acceptance, and on to romance.”
Dragon remained silent as she digested this information. “Your new dragon is not in that story?”
I smiled. “No. He had no place in that story.”
“As I had no place in his story?” Her voice was soft, but a note of petulance crept into her words. Her distress was plain to see, as she morphed to blue and started dripping smoke bubbles from her nose.
I nodded. “As you had no place in his story.”
Dragon snorted and returned to an angry shade of red. “Because, as you once told me, I am not right for the part? You claimed I was too noble, too experienced, too good, too playful. You claimed your new dragon did not have my knowledge, my compassion, my sense of fair-play, or my humor.” She glared at me.
“That is correct, my friend.” I reached out and placed my hand on her scaly arm.
Dragon stopped glaring. “You also once told me I could not meet your new dragon then, as you claimed I would be a good influence on him, which would be bad for your story…his story. But you also said I might meet him someday.”
I nodded, remembering the exchange.
“May I meet him now?”
I shook my head. “He is not like you. He lives only within the words of the story. You will have to read the story to meet him.”
“Then, may I read the story?”
“You may read that one, and all the other stories, essays, and poems in the anthology – after it is published on November 27. At that time, specific information will be released, detailing where and how it will be available.”
Dragon nodded. She turned back to the image on the computer monitor and stared at it again. “Tell me about the others whose stories, essays, and poems are in this anthology.”
I felt a big smile spread across my face. “They are a wonderful, diverse group of writers. We met in cyberspace some years ago when we all participated in an online workshop – the 2015 October Platform Challenge. That was a Writer’s Digest workshop presented by Robert Lee Brewer, then Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. The workshop was designed to teach writers how to develop or improve a writing platform and promotion plan, as well as to cultivate a positive presence on social media.”
“That was three years ago.” Dragon seemed surprised. “Is that not when you started writing your blog?”
I nodded. “Starting a blog was one of the tasks for the workshop.”
Dragon eyed me curiously. “And your group has remained together since then?”
I nodded. “We have. We formed a writer’s group on one of the social media sites, and we still offer each other support and encouragement. This anthology was a major project for that group, and the members who served as editors gave tirelessly of their time and expertise to ensure the completion and eventual publication of our work.”
Dragon nodded. She began to shimmer and slowly shape-shift into her accustomed guise of an elf maiden.
“I look forward to reading their work.” She smiled at me. “Perhaps, when the anthology is released, my fellow characters and I can throw you a small party, celebrating the publication of your two stories in this anthology.”
I grinned and winked at her. “You would celebrate the publication of my new dragon’s story?”
Dragon tilted her head and paused a moment before answering. “Only if you promise someday we will be celebrating the publication of our stories.”
I sighed. “I will do my best.”
I hope you will all come back next week to find out how to get your copy of this anthology, called on the platform, waiting. I know all my readers will enjoy these works by my fellow writers and me. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.