The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 4

If you missed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3, follow the links. Otherwise, read on! (This is a sci-fi short story by J.A. Dowsett that you don’t want to miss!) 

***

The Silent Serpent surged out of the Jump Gate into regular space and slowed immediately, though still moving far faster than the well-worn ship could have managed under its own power. Nell was back in the pilot’s chair and Xendri stood behind her, eager to see another new region of space. However, no sooner had Nell caught sight of what awaited them in this sector did her gold-flecked black fur stand on end. Whipping her tail around, she used the metal tip to tap the button that allowed her access to the ship-wide communications system, setting it to high-alert, while every other part of her remained focused on the ship’s controls.

“Xendri,” Nell said, tension making her voice clipped, “get the Captain. We have a problem.”

Before Xendri could so much as turn around, Nell knocked the controls forward and the old cargo vessel lurched, nose pointed downwards. Weapons fire was visible in the cockpit’s narrow window, but it made no sound until it grazed the side of the vessel, where it sounded like metal grinding against metal and sparks.

Xendri’s breath caught in her throat, but she didn’t let the stop her. “Captain!” she yelled into the rest of the ship as she exited the cockpit, clinging to any handholds she could find on the ship’s metal interior.

Captain James Claw stumbled into view just as Nell was righting the ship once more, sending the Terian shoulder-first into a metal wall. “What’s the prob-” He stopped mid-sentence, cleary able to see the issue for himself.

Xendri turned around to see what he was looking at and she finally was able to understand fully what Nell had grasped in those first few seconds out of the gate. It wasn’t just one ship firing at another or some sort of defense system they were on the wrong side of. They’d entered into an active warzone.

Ships of all shapes, sizes, and descriptions flew this way and that, defending the gate and the nearby space station from the largest ship in the area, which looked less like a ship and more like a floating platform atop which sat a silent, technologically advanced city. It was massive, as large as the space station itself and oddly square in shape, not like most of the vessels that flew around it. It was also…lifeless-looking. There were a few minor lights here or there, mostly near the guns, but otherwise the vessel was dark and unornamented as it drifted slowly through space.

“Delkrit,” Captain Claw whispered as he pushed absent-mindedly past Xendri.

Even being from one of the more remote corners of the galaxy, Xendri recognized the word. Everyone had heard of the Delkrit, though it was rare for anyone to have seen one, let alone survived to tell about it. They were the modern-day boogeyman. Tales that were told about the horrors that lurked out in the black of space to keep pilots and captains from venturing too far out into the uncharted parts of the galaxy. Not exactly a race, or even alive in the traditional sense, the Delkrit were machines with an AI hive mind programmed for one thing: to destroy all organic life. They were said to be the scourge of the galaxy.

Despite herself, Xendri followed the Captain back into the cockpit and squeezed herself beneath the wall and his arm so she could see what was going on. Nell had brought the ship around to join with the multitude of ships that were arrayed in a semi-organized fashion in their united goal to keep the Delkrit from destroying the gate. No matter which race this sector belonged to, the Delkrit were everybody’s enemy, and if the gate fell anyone within it would be stranded somewhere between here and the gate they left from, with no way to know how far they’d been tossed off course. And that was if they survived the gate’s collapse at all. It wasn’t lost on Xendri that had they not exited the gate when they did, that could easily have been their fate. As a spacefaring vessel, they owed it to whomever might be travelling through that gate to do what they could to ensure it didn’t shut down unexpectedly.

“Captain?” Nell questioned.

“You have any skill with guns?” Claw asked her and she nodded without taking her eyes off the task ahead of her. “Then use your best judgement,” he told her.

Xendri held her breath as Nell brought the Silent Serpent within firing range and strafed to the left, using the ship’s lasers for all they were worth. She left a few small explosions in her wake and managed to avoid being shot out of the sky. Xendri allowed herself to breathe again only when they were again skirting away from the horrifying cold and impersonal-looking Delkrit city, which fired at them only because its sensors detected their proximity, not because it ‘felt threatened’ or even felt anything at all. Xendri shuddered.

Just then, a team of Enbi ships swooped past them, so close their sudden appearance took Xendri’s breath right back out of her and Captain Claw swore audibly. Tiny one-man vessels, the Enbi fighter-ships were like a swarm of bees compared to the Delkrit city and just as angry, but as Xendri learned a moment later, they weren’t what had Nell or the Captain’s attention.  

“Shit, is that a Terran dreadnought?”

Between one breath and the next, by far the largest ship Xendri had ever seen popped into the sector, blocking out her view of this system’s sun. It was easily the width of the Delkrit vessel, if not wider, and it towered upwards as well, like a giant ark without sails. The words, ‘The Olympus’ were painted on the side, each letter easily the size of their own meager cargo ship.

“Wait, that gives me an idea,” Claw declared. “Nell, open up a communication to that Terran vessel.”

Nell’s eyes went wide at the command, but she followed it and hailed the Terran ship, even as she kept them moving, so as to make a difficult target for Delkrit guns.

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It’s launch day! The Ghost in The Gardens by HL Carpenter is here!

We’re super excited to announce that our 30th title, The Ghost in The Gardens by HL Carpenter, is here! You can order your copy in ebook or paperback form through our online bookstore, or wherever you buy books online!

Here it is:

CoverArtGG copy

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.

The.

Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

Book Details: Saphs Book Promotions

Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery

Page Count: 152 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40072894-the-ghost-in-the-gardens

Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing:  Ebook  Paperback

Amazon

Read an Excerpt:

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn’t really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn’t been dreaming and I wasn’t crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn’t believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn’t say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were…creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I’m-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn’t seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I’d never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

“Just lucky, I guess,” I said. “What do you think, Barkley?”

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot.

“That’s what I think too.”

I tugged Barkley’s ear and picked up one of the quarter-size flat stones scattered beside the path. I tossed the stone into the deep end of the Water Garden pond.

Barkley scrambled to the bank, then yipped and jumped back, almost jerking the leash from my hand. The ruff on his neck rose straight up. He stared at the pond, his lips curled, his teeth bared.

I gripped the red plastic leash more tightly.

The ghost liked water.

Barkley growled.

In the pond, twin black shafts of water shifted into the wavy outline of feminine eyes. Pale lips, reed-thin and white as unearthed slugs, parted. The lips tried to form a word. A gurgle rose from the depths like a deep sigh.

“Daaaaay…daaaay…”

Bubbles roiled the surface of the water.

Barkley growled again. Then he barked, as if to prove the ghost hadn’t silenced him.

I tried to speak, to ask the ghost what she wanted. My tongue clung to the roof of my mouth. My lips moved in a quivery jiggle as if I were silently whistling. But I could not force out a sound, much less a whole question.

Maybe if I could think a question, the ghost and I could communicate. Maybe she didn’t need actual words to hear me and to answer.

I tipped forward. My glasses slipped down my nose. I wanted to ask her…something…something…important…

What would touching her feel like?

I stretched out my hand.

HL Carpenter full size (1)

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes family-friendly fiction. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Connect with HL Carpenter: Website: https://hlcarpenter.com/

Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820921.H_L_Carpenter

 

Why ‘Escapism Fiction’?

I love stories. I live for them. When I read, I tend to go for books that offer an escape from the real world. Recently I’ve wondered why that is. I think it has to do with when and where I read. Typically I will carry a book around with me all day in whatever bag I’m carrying and I will pull it out when I want to pass the time. Waiting in a waiting room? Read. Waiting to rendezvous with someone? Read. Taking a bath, or otherwise trying to relax? Read.

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Am I uncomfortable where I am? Is life boring or dull? Would I rather be doing something else? Do I need to unwind from work, or some other stress? In all of these cases, reading is often the answer.

So when I read, I don’t want to read about a life like mine; a life I can easily envision. I want to read something set somewhere else. Something that allows me to step into another person’s shoes. And I want it to be engaging so that it’s a story that sucks me in and tugs me along. If it does all that, it’s a story I’ll be thinking about, even when I’m not actively reading it, which is all the better.

And since those are the kinds of stories I like to read, it’s also the kind of stories I tend to write. And since it’s what I write, it has become what I’m in search for when I’m looking for another author’s work to publish. Hence Mirror World = Escapism fiction.

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Escapism fiction for me is an engaging, creative character-driven story set in a vivid, imaginative world that is not our own, or at least not exactly our own. It’s a character’s exploration of another world, another culture, another time, or a possible hidden world within our own. Our goal is to literally bring you books that allow you to be somewhere else, even when you have to stay exactly where you are.

With that said, I’m pleased to announce that next week’s release, HL Carpenter’s The Ghost in The Gardens will be Mirror World’s 30th title! I’m super proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish since we started in 2014. 30 titles is so much more than I expected by this point in our existence. It’s been an amazing wild ride and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing authors, of which there are 16 of now! And also, our lovely readers and fans. Thank you for escaping with us!

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So if, like me, you’re eagerly anticipating the release of our 30th book, I hope you’ll pick up The Ghost in The Gardens by HL Carpenter and give escapism fiction a chance.

Thanks for reading!  

The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 3

If you missed part one of this sci-fi adventure, click here to start at the beginning…

It wasn’t long before they were all assembled in the cargo bay. Well, not everyone, just those between them Captain Claw and Xendri thought were trustworthy. They needed hands to help with the plan, but the more that knew a thing, the less safe that thing was to know. Xendri faced off against the Captain’s choices; Quattro and the ship’s secondary finance officer, Vox, just as Quattro and Vox were eyeing her choice; Nell.

Xendri shrugged. She hadn’t known any of them long, but she liked Nell. The Pentaurii was a good pilot, and new enough to the ship that she kept to herself and didn’t socialize much with the others. Besides, she had that look about her that said she could keep a secret. Probably had loads of them already.

Choosing Quattro made sense for his skills alone, but Vox she couldn’t figure out. Over seven feet tall, Vox was an Urtax; a genderless being made of crystal. He was sentient, though you wouldn’t know it to look at him. He looked like a hunk of rock, only vaguely humanoid in shape. He could stand still for hours, not doing or saying anything, like he was now. Most found him disconcerting at best, but Xendri didn’t have an opinion on him personally. He was much like any other Urtax she’d ever come across and their species was common enough in her corner of the galaxy.

“If she’s here, then who’s at the controls?” Quattro asked, indicating Nell with a thumb.

“No one,” she responded, shrugging. “Technically a pilot isn’t required in Jump-space, seeing as there’s nothing to hit, but just to be safe, I rewired the alarms to sound down here should anything show up on the scanners. We’ve got hours until I’m needed to take us out of the gate, so…”

“Nell’s right,” Claw agreed, “and the risk is worth it at this point. We’ve got a dangerous situation on our hands, but it’s also a profitable opportunity.” This caught everyone’s attention. “These crates contain what amounts to a sizeable fortune. Provided we get away with this, I’m willing to share it with the four of you in equal cuts.”

“You won’t be dividing the funds through the usual channels?” Vox inquired, his monotonous voice somehow reverberating from his whole body at once.

“No,” Captain Claw stated. “That’s where you come in, Vox. These crates contain unrefined gold. I’m going to need you to quietly and discreetly find someone willing to take it off of our hands in exchange for the kind of currency we can actually use. Xendri, I’m going to have you on top of a crate directing Quattro’s drill with a scanner and your own intuition. Nell, I’m going to have you do the same for me.”

“We’re stealing the merchandise?” Nell questioned. Despite the question, she didn’t seem bothered by that fact.

“More accurately, we’re leaving the merchandise intact and stealing the part they didn’t put on the manifest,” Claw clarified. “I consider that fair exchange for putting armed explosives on my ship without my knowledge. Does anyone take issue with my plan?”

Silence hung in the cargo bay for a beat longer than was comfortable.

“Good,” Claw finished. “And Vox, find us some empty food-storage containers. We’re going to need places to hide this stuff. Remember, the less people find out about this, the less we’ll have to share the profits. Okay, let’s get to work.”

The next few hours were tense but productive. They worked as quietly as possible, so as not to attract attention, and they prayed none of the rest of the crew would wake up and take issue with what they were up to. Before long, sacks and small crates were filled discreetly with gold nuggets and Xendri and Quattro were busy filling the cavities they’d emptied with whatever bits of scrap metal they could find to approximate the weight, just in case anyone should notice a discrepancy on the receiving end.

“We’re nearing the gate,” Nell warned, checking the time.

“Alright,” Claw conceded. “We’re almost done here. Nell, Vox, take what you can carry and find somewhere to hide it upstairs. Even better if I don’t know where it is. We’ll follow with the rest when we’re done here. Then, Nell, take us out.”

She nodded, lifted two sacks of gold, and took off up the ladder. Vox followed more slowly with a crate in his arms, passing it up to her before taking the rungs himself. Xendri fit the last of the cargo container lids back in place before joining Claw’s side. “What about the bombs?”

Claw frowned. “I have some thoughts about that, but for now, one thing at a time, alright?”

Xendri nodded, picking up her crate. “You’ll figure it out.”

A little update…

As some of you know, my sister, business partner, and the other half of my co-writing team, Murandy Damodred, has just given birth to her second son, Quinn. Though Quinn is still very new to the world, it’s obvious that he’s the polar opposite of his older brother Hunter. Where Hunter is pale, with blondish-red hair and blue eyes, Quinn has tanned skin, dark hair and deep brown eyes. Of course these features could and probably will change some with time, I can’t help but notice the parallel to Murandy and myself. We’ve always been a ying-yang of dark and light, and it seems her boys are going to follow in our footsteps in that respect.

Writing-wise, Quinn has put Murandy and I on hold. As you may remember from March, Murandy and I were unable to complete the #85K90 writing challenge. We made it about halfway through staying on track, but hit a few stumbling blocks in the story (mostly due to our lack of plotting, but I’ll get to that) and in life, with Murandy’s pregnancy taking its toll on her health. For those of you who don’t know, the goal of the #85K90 Writing Challenge is to complete 85,000 words (or, the length of the average novel) in 90 days, January through March.

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To say that Mirror’s Despair, the fourth (and maybe final) book in the Mirror World series is half done would be a gross overstatement. In all honesty, we’re about 20,000 words in. The good news is that we likely won’t have to re-write much if any of that, the bad news is that there is a lot of work ahead of us, including re-ordering and adding some scenes to what we’ve already written.

So how did this happen?

Well, the short of it is, Murandy and I are not planners. We like to fly by the seat of our pants and we tend to do that well. The problem with that comes when you’re this far into a series and you’re trying to wrap everything up. As our readers know, the Mirror World series is quite complicated. It features parallel worlds, time travel, intrigue, and seduction. There are interweaving plot lines and time loops, and well, the series is an ambitious one to say the least. And we plan to do it justice.

How we plan to write ourselves out of this mess:

So now that Quinn is out of Murandy’s belly and into the real world, we’re ready to get back to the grind! This past week, I went through all of our notes and wrote out every scene I could think of and every last detail of what needs to happen before the end of this book. Then I wrote those all out on colour-coded post-it notes. Yellow for Mirena, Blue for Tendro, and Green for Odark (who will have a major role to play in this coming book). Then I painstakingly decided the order they need to be in, sticking them all to a giant whiteboard. This method is the same one I used to write the finale of Crimson Winter and it worked well then, so I’m relying on it again now.

Starting this week, Murandy and I are going to make time to write and we’ll start by checking which scenes need to be inserted into what we already have written and go from there. I’m excited to dive back into the thick of things and I know Murandy is too. We both get a little antsy when we’re not writing; like something is missing.

So that’s where we are with that. With luck, Mirror’s Despair will be coming to you late 2019. *Fingers Crossed*

The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 2

If you haven’t read part one yet, click here. Otherwise, please continue enjoying this short sci-fi serial by yours truly!

***

Boopboop. The door button sounded. There was a long pause, then the door whooshed open to reveal the Captain of the Silent Serpent, James Claw, in his underpants.

He blinked a few times, staring down at Xendri, his glowing blue eyes the most striking thing about him. He was a Terian, like Quattro, and therefore also taller than Xendri, but she was used to being the smallest one in a room, so she didn’t let that bother her. “Did you know there are bombs in your cargo hold?”

Surprisingly, James Claw chuckled at this. “As a matter of fact…”

“Are they supposed to be armed?”

That brought him up short. “Armed?”

Xendri nodded. “Yeah, on a timer, I think. I could hear ticking. Through the side of the crate. There’s more.”

The Captain’s eyes widened further. “More?”

She nodded again. “It’s not all bombs. There’s metal in there. Gold, I think. Can’t be sure unless I open the crate.”

“Let me get a shirt on.” The Captain retreated and was out again in a second, pulling fabric over his exposed torso. Xendri waited, trying not to show her impatience or her disinterest in whether the Captain was wearing clothes or not; some races were particular about that sort of thing, she wasn’t. “Okay, show me what you found.”

Xendri led the Captain down to the cargo bay and between the two of them they were able to pry open the crate Xendri had been inspecting earlier. It took some digging and some scanning, but soon the bombs’ arming mechanism was located and so was an interior canister that was sealed shut. According to the scanner it contained metal, specifically gold, and not more bombs.

“Dammit,” Claw swore. “I knew we were carrying explosives, but they’re supposed to be for a mining operation on Elu. They are NOT supposed to be armed!” He paced a few feet and back again. “They aren’t on a timer, at least,” he commented, looking up at Xendri who was still perched on top of the now open crate. “These’ll blow on impact, so as long as we don’t hit anything before then…”

“But the drop off point…” Xendri pointed out. “I heard what the instructions were. We’re just supposed to open the cargo doors and drop the shipment on the loading dock. Why would the mine owners pay you to blow up their own mine?”

“Gold, huh?” Claw considered this a moment. “Well, that’s the only thing that makes sense. I’d bet all the gold in here that their mine isn’t as profitable as they’d like it to be, so if there’s an ‘accident’ that reveals a hidden pocket of gold, they’ll get all the funding they need to refinance the mine. Even if it means the loss of what they have now, they’ll actually be better off.”

Xendri frowned. Mining in her home system was always done with respect for the land and the lives involved. This just sounded underhanded, devious, and downright evil to her. “Do you think they’ll have evacuated the place first?” she asked, fearing she knew the answer already.

Claw shook his head. “No, they’ll have to make it look like an accident. Whoever’s down there they’ll consider expendable.”

Xendri narrowed her eyes in distaste. “We can’t let them get away with this.”

Claw raised a brow in her direction, but after a moment he conceded. “No, you’re right, we can’t.” Xendri’s respect for the Terian Captain climbed a notch. “Okay, Xendri, here’s what we’re going to do…”

We’re revealing the cover of The Ghost in the Gardens by HL Carpenter!

Until the first spooky visit, ten year old Chrysantha Howe doesn’t think about ghosts. She thinks about plants.

All.

The.

Time.

She has her future planned out, and that future includes plants. Chrys is going to be a plant scientist like her uncle and her favorite teacher, and she’s determined to find the very rare Coralroot orchid.

The ghost is not in the plan.

But when her teacher disappears and the police suspect her uncle was involved, Chrys has to figure out what the ghost is trying to tell her—before it’s too late.

CoverArtGG copy.jpg

Book Details:

Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery

Page Count: 152 pages

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40072894-the-ghost-in-the-gardens

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This book launches June 17th, 2018! Saphs Book Promotions

Pre-Order Links:

Mirror World Publishing

Ebook: https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/juvenile/products/the-ghost-in-the-gardens-e-book

Paperback: https://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/juvenile/products/the-ghost-in-the-gardens-paperback

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GAWW6Z

HL Carpenter full size (1).jpg

Florida-based mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter writes family-friendly fiction. The Carpenters write from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit HLCarpenter.com to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happening in Carpenter Country.

Connect with HL Carpenter: Website: https://hlcarpenter.com/

Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5820921.H_L_Carpenter

The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 1

It’s time for another short story! This one’s not a pre-quel, or attached to any book at all, it’s a stand-alone sci-fi adventure following a group of characters that have been bouncing around in my head for a while. Please, enjoy! For more about me, just look around, or check our authors page here. 

***

The Silent Serpent hurtled through space at a speed only made possible by Jump technology. The old cargo hauler shuddered in protest at the velocity, but the pilot, Nell, paid the vessel no mind. Instead, her golden-green cat eyes were narrowed lazily over the cards in her hand as she deliberated her next play, her metal-tipped tail twitching idly.

Xendri watched her carefully, but the black and gold tortoiseshell cat, or Pentaurii as her race was called, gave nothing away by her expression; she was good at this game. Nell played the Queen of Spades, placing it on the foldout tray between them in the cockpit. Xendri frowned, looking between the cards at play and the ones in her hand before realizing all of a sudden that she’d been outmaneuvered. There was no way she could win now.

Xendri clicked her tongue in displeasure, speaking a few less-than-polite words in her native language before standing. “I’m going to check on the cargo.”  

“Cargo?” Nell questioned. “We’re mid-jump. It’s not going anywhere.”

“Yeah, but I haven’t seen it yet.”

Nell rolled her eyes. “Suit yourself.” Yawning, she put her hand of cards down as she turned to inspect the ship’s controls, absently going through the motions her job as thes ship’s secondary pilot required.

Xendri left her there and swung out into the main body of the ship, nimbly making her way to the ladder that led down into the detachable cargo bay.   

“Hey, Kiddo,” a deep male voice rumbled, catching her off guard. “Where you goin’?”

Looking up, Xendri found one of the loaders, a human man named nicknamed Quattro, looking at her curiously. He was much taller than her, six feet to her four, well-muscled, and he wore a impressive-looking pistol on his belt. Despite all that, there was no malice in his expression or in his glowing purple eyes, so she decided to let the ‘nickname’ he’d chosen for her slide, for now.

“Looking around,” she answered briefly. “Stretching my legs.”

Quattro nodded. “Yeah, gets a little boring in Jump-space, doesn’t it? Alright, go on then. Can’t hurt nuthin’.”

But Xendri wasn’t listening to him any longer; her eyes had fixated on the other device his belt contained. “Hey, can I borrow that?” she asked, gesturing with her chin.

Quattro looked down, confused. “You mean the scanner?” He unhooked it and tossed it to her. “Sure thing, Kiddo, knock yourself out.”

Xendri nodded, catching and pocketing the device before scurrying down the ladder, dismissing the burly loader from her thoughts. She took the ladder rungs two at a time and jumped the rest of the way to the floor of the cargo bay, landing gracefully on all fours before standing and making sure she was alone. The cargo bay was quiet; the only sound the occasionally creak to remind her that they were still moving very very fast, even if the floor beneath her feet felt stationary. She tapped the metal-plated floor with her foot as if to test the artificial gravity, but it felt the same as standing on any other surface. Space travel was weird that way, the universe had no up and down, but people made their own. Xendri wasn’t sure she’d ever really get used to it. She shrugged and pulled the scanner device out of her pocket, fiddling with the dials and buttons until she got the display to show what she wanted.

Walking slowly between the long cargo containers that filled the bay, Xendri let the scanner device do its thing, even going so far as to climb on top of one of the massive containers to scan closer to the middle.

“That’s odd,” Xendri muttered after some time spent in contemplation of what the hand-held device was telling her.

Eyes still on her findings, Xendri climbed back down off the crate, then back up the ladder to the rest of the ship. There was no sign of Quattro, but she wasn’t looking for him anyways; she went straight for the Captain’s quarters.

To be continued… 

New Release: Mirror’s Deceit by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred!

 Mirena Calanais is destined to change the world. 

Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her.

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A gifted student of majik, Mirena is on the verge of graduating from a secret college that will give her a leg up in her political career, when her achievements are overshadowed by the arrival of a mysterious woman with an unknown agenda. Desperate to keep what she sees as her rightful place in the spotlight, Mirena goes to astounding lengths including taking it upon herself to pose as a double agent to investigate a rebel force plotting to destabilize the government. Unfortunately, her actions cost her the trust of those around her, so when she is proclaimed the Dark Avatar of the Destroyer, she finds she has nowhere to turn. 

 

In a seeming utopia, Mirena is now a pariah with the force of Destroyer behind her and her once bright dreams have darkened, leaving her a threat not only to herself, but to those she cares about. Can she turn her life around, or will someone need to stop her before she goes too far? 

 

Book Information:

 

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition

Publication Date: May 17, 2018

ASIN: B07BNY8RVF

 

Genre(s): Dark Fantasy, Romance, Fantasy

 

Page count: 240 pages

 

Read an Excerpt:  

 

The extra quarter turn of the hourglass Caralain spent in the waiting room helped her to calm her nerves and gather her thoughts. By the time Mirena left the Panarch’s office with a bounce in her step that sent her long white-blonde hair swinging, Caralain was ready. She stood, brushed imaginary dust from her clothing, and strode into the Panarch’s office with purpose.

 

“Panarch, thank you for allowing me to speak with you,” she began as soon as she was across the threshold, doing her best to avoid meeting his gaze directly lest she be overwhelmed again.

 

“Of course,” Terrence Lee answered, shutting the door behind her and heading for the chair behind his desk. “I have an open-door policy, as you know, so it’s no trouble.”

 

“Right, of course.” In fact, she did know that, in theory. In practice was another matter altogether. “Well, either way, I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak my mind. You see, I have…important information regarding the woman who was just in here speaking with you.”

 

He lifted a brow in question. “Mirena?”

 

Oh no, they’re already on a first name basis. Caralain felt a momentary panic seize her heart. Maybe I’m too late.

 

“Uh, yes, Mirena Calanais. Well, you see, I have reason to believe that Mirena has plans…” She hesitated, but having come this far, she knew she had to continue. “Plans to remove you from office and install herself in power in your place.”

 

To Caralain’s surprise, a wide grin spread across the Panarch’s face, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement. “Oh?”

 

She couldn’t help but feel discomfited under that blue-eyed stare. She wriggled uncomfortably in her seat. “Uh, yes. I know it seems ludicrous from where you’re standing, with Mirena’s relative anonymity at this point, but…”

 

“No, it’s not that,” he chuckled. “Mirena was just in here saying exactly the same thing.”

 

“She what?!”

 

“Mirena is a bright girl with a bright future ahead of her,” the Panarch told her and Caralain felt the world beneath her feet begin to fade away, leaving in its place only a dark abyss from which there was no return. “I’m thinking of making her my apprentice, actually. She showed great promise in the meeting we just had.”

 

Caralain’s heartbeat picked up speed and the air suddenly felt thin as she tried to take in enough to keep breathing. She was halfway to her feet and stumbling out of the chair before she realized that there was nowhere she could flee that would be safe from what she was hearing. “No! I mean, you can’t! She’s…she’s a monster. She’ll destroy this world and everything good in it.”

 

Terrence Lee’s look of patient amusement turned quickly to one of concern and alarm. He also got to his feet. “Ms. Dashar? Are you all right?”

 

He was coming around the desk now and Caralain realized abruptly how she must look and sound. She fought desperately to bring her fear under control and to compose her face. “Yes, yes, of course, I’m fine.” She started for the door and was relieved when her hand found the handle. “This was a mistake. I’ll just go.”

 

She wrenched the door open and allowed the gentle murmur of the waiting room comfort her nerves.

 

“Are you certain?” He wasn’t just going to let this drop, but Caralain couldn’t let her sanity, and therefore her credibility, be called into question. “I can call someone for you if you need me to. A Healer, perhaps?”

 

“No, no, I’m fine. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.” And with that, she fled.

***

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Meet the Authors: 1us

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of eight novels and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally roleplaying with her friends. 

 

With a background in Drama and Communications from the University of Windsor, Murandy Damodred enjoys fantasy fiction with strong romantic subplots. She is an avid role-player and is happiest when living vicariously through her characters. Though she’d rather think of herself as the heroine of her next novel, in the real world she is a new mom living in Windsor, Ontario, ready to embark on a new career as a medical technician. 

 

Connect with the Authors: 

 

Website: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com

 

Author Page: 

https://www.amazon.com/Justine-Alley-Dowsett/e/B004MNQAUA/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

Goodreads Author Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4637105.Justine_Alley_Dowsett

 

The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J. M. Walker – FINALE!!

“Corbin is my boyfriend,” Chantelle said.

“Corbin is your boyfriend? I didn’t even know he was dating anyone,” Trina said, glancing at Oriella.

“Because we were keeping it a secret, because my friends would never approve of me dating a phoenix mage,” Chantelle said. “But then Loukas asked me to the dance. I told him I could never date anyone from Knox House but he was persistent, so finally I told him I had a boyfriend. I refused to tell him who, but he followed me, he saw me with Corbin and he got angry that I was already dating someone from Knox.”

“Wait, what’s wrong with dating someone from Knox House?” Trina asked.

“Pixie mages don’t date anyone from…from Knox House,” Chantelle said. “Loukas knew I didn’t want my friends to know I was dating the don of Knox House, so he forced me to steal the feather. He didn’t say why, but he said if I didn’t he’d tell everyone at Flora House my secret. But then Eddy came to talk to me and he was asking all sorts of weird questions about the feather and Knox House. I had no idea the stupid feather meant so much to Knox House. I didn’t know it was your heirloom. I didn’t know Loukas made it into some stupid game to steal Corbin’s room.”

“First of all, it’s not a stupid feather, it’s Sir Gadison’s Golden Phoenix Feather,” Oriella said, “and second of all, it’s not just Corbin’s room, it’s a suite that takes up the entire fourth floor and has its own pool table.”

Trina nodded. “Loukas was the one who suggested that the suite should be the prize.”

“I’m sorry,” Chantelle said. “I didn’t mean to cause such a mess. I got the feather back from where I hid it in the greenhouse and took it with me into the woods. I was waiting for dinner, when everyone would go to the meal hall and I could sneak back into Knox House and return the feather, so no one would win and Corbin wouldn’t lose his suite because of me. But then the greenhouse caught fire and I figured I could sneak back in while everyone was gawking at the fire.”

“So…let me get this straight,” Trina said. “All of this happened because of some stupid pixie mage dating rules?”

Chantelle’s cheeks turned pink with embarrassment. “I’m sorry.”

“I hate pixies,” Oriella said.

Trina sighed and looked at the golden phoenix feather she held in her hand. “I’m putting the feather back before the others return,” she said. “And you,” she said, pointing at Chantelle, “are escaping through our window so no one sees you leaving Knox House. You’re going back to Flora House and pretending none of this happened.”

“But…you’re going to take credit for finding the feather? You’re going to take Corbin’s suite?” Chantelle asked.

“No, we’re not,” Trina said as she put the feather back in its rightful place above the fireplace.

“We’re not?” Oriella asked.

“Corbin doesn’t deserve to lose his entire suite because Loukas is jealous of his silly pixie mage girlfriend,” Trina said. “He worked hard to become don, he didn’t just get the job handed to him, and whoever is don deserves the suite.”

Oriella nodded. “Fine.”

“Now c’mon, let’s get you out of here,” Trina said and led Chantelle up to their room.

 

Mere minutes after Chantelle’s escape down the ivy-ladder they heard people returning to the house. Footsteps came down the hall and there was a knock at the door. Trina opened it to see Ludella, the Headmistress of the Mage Academy. Ludella was a petite fairy mage who didn’t look a day past twenty, but Trina knew she was actually much, much older.

“Oh!” Trina gasped. “Hello, Headmistress Ludella. How may I help you?”

“You can invite me in,” Ludella said.

“Oh, yes,” Trina said and stepped back so Ludella could enter the dorm room.

Ludella glanced at Trina’s bed and the charred comforter she had yet to clean up.

“I believe you may have had something to do with the burning down of our greenhouse?” Ludella asked smoothly.

“Um…no,” Trina said, but she felt her cheeks grow hot.

“It’s okay, you can tell the truth,” Ludella said. “I had no idea your fire powers were becoming so strong. It’s obvious now what we must do.”

“Please don’t expel Trina!” Oriella said.

“I’m not expelling you,” Ludella said. “I think it’s about time we start searching for an apprenticeship. We need to find you an experienced dragon mage, one who can teach you how to control your powers. We need to find you a proper teacher.”

“We do?” Trina asked.

“Yes,” Ludella said. “It’s not every day a student burns down a greenhouse.”

“I’m very sorry,” Trina said. “I’ll find a way to fix it…I’ll help rebuild it, I’ll-”

“That’s enough Trina,” Ludella said. “You are a dragon mage. It’s about time you learn what that truly means.”

You can continue to follow Trina’s adventures in the novel:

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She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J. M. Walker