After releasing Unintended and Uncharted, I knew I wanted to write another novel set in the world of Ismera and I knew I wanted it to feature love letters written across an impossible distance during a time of war.
While I was between writing projects I came across the New Orleans Writer’s Residency and decided to apply, sending them one of the Ismeran short stories I had written for the blog, Unmoored. Miraculously, I was accepted for the residency, which meant a month dedicated to writing in New Orleans, along with accommodations, airfare and a weekly stipend. The host even provided us breakfast each morning, the occasional dinner, and writing events and workshops, alongside personal mentoring. It was a dream come true.
I knew I didn’t want to waste the opportunity, so I decided I was going to start my next ‘Un’ book, set in Ismera, and spent the month up to the start of the residency planning. Then, on the plane ride down there, I started writing and I didn’t stop until 28 days and 96,000 words later, the first draft of Uncommon was finished.
Now, I always let books sit for a little while once I finish them. Then I give them a read through and a quick polish before handing them off to my husband and editor, Robert. This time, I stumbled across another opportunity instead. I entered the first chapter of Uncommon into a contest, the prize for which was a professional content edit. Uncommon won! So off the manuscript went to be edited and when it came back I dove into the notes with aims of working on the next draft.
Then, Covid struck. For some, the lockdowns were a creative time and for others, myself included, the pandemic created a time of emotional turmoil which made it very difficult to focus on anything.
My day job, which was in local tourism at the time, simply didn’t exist anymore. I picked up a soulless full time work-from-home thing instead and it took up far more of my time than I was used to. It also meant I stared at a computer screen all day and didn’t want to do more of that to edit or write.
So Uncommon got put aside for about a year. By that time I had found a different day job and lost it and then I suddenly had A LOT of time on my hands. So I wrote another draft. Another month of hard work and I had practically re-written Uncommon and polished it until it was exactly what I wanted it to be.
Robert read it and approved, and now I hope you will as well.
Uncommon is now available from Mirror World Publishing and from all major book retailers in ebook and paperback form.
Here’s the blurb:
Would you write a love letter to a stranger?
Rygal Saline has always stood in his sister’s shadow. As heir to the Clan Chief, Rhea has been trained in the art of leadership and warfare. Rygal is just, well, Rygal.
After several years away at a College in Ismera, Rygal returns to Jaram for his father’s funeral only to find a letter from his sister. She’s gone, she’s sorry, and she expects him to take her place as the next clan chief. Never envisioning a place for himself within the clan, let alone taking on the responsibilities of leadership, Rygal finds himself alone and out of his depth.
Desperate for companionship and for someone he can turn to for help, he writes a letter to every eligible maiden on the continent, hoping to find a wife. The letters travel far and wide. Most are rejected until an accident of fate sends Rygal’s letters into the hands of two women for whom they were never intended, setting in motion a plot that threatens to bring Clan Jaram to the brink of war.
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, 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 role-playing with her friends.