The World of Uncharted

While writing our last novel, Unintended, Murandy Damodred and I knew that we weren’t done with the world we had created. We wanted to tell more stories in the world of Ismera. Unintended, a romantic comedy set in our own fantasy version of England, Scotland, Italy and France, focuses on the royal family of Ismera (England) and is set mainly in the capital city of Ismer. But we’d done so much more in the way of world building that there was a whole world left to explore. So we started working on Uncharted and set it in and around the Isle of Saegard (France) and we decided to focus on characters who were more on the fringes of their society, rather than the rulers.

Now, if you’ve read Unintended, you’ll have learned a little bit about Ismeran culture and politics. Ismerans are native English-speakers. They prize traditions, propriety and politeness. However, they are also political schemers and thrive on intrigue. The Ismeran government is a monarchy with the current ruling family, the Authiers, controlling the Capital city of Ismer, as well as their own native lands in the north, Authera. Authier is one of the twelve royal houses, each of which are responsible for their own lands under the general oversight of the King. The intrigue generally results in power changing hands every couple of generations, if not more frequently. And the latest King has only been in power for a few decades.

North of Ismera, is Haldoram, a land ruled by several nomadic clans with their own culture and politics. South of Ismera is Welland, a rich Italian-speaking nation ruled by a council of Lords with a very steep hierarchy, largely fueled by their capitalist economy.

Ismera copy

Saegard, the main setting of Uncharted, is the Island nation to the east of the mainland. Saegard is known for its multiculturalism, but its primary language is French. Instead of a Monarchy, Saegard is ruled by two councils; one for the military and one for the merchants. They are fairly separate, but the rulers of each meet on occasion to deliberate on concerns that affect the whole nation.

Culturally, Saegard is egalitarian. They are a very open-minded and accepting people, especially when it comes to gender and sexual orientation. Men and women are found equally in all professions and they have very liberal views on marriage and sex.

This might seem strange, given that Saegard is home to the Order of Saegardian Priestesses, but the Order’s purpose is not overly religious, rather the Priestesses act as teachers, medical professionals, therapists, mediators, and ect for Saegard and the mainland. It’s true that they only allow women to become priestesses, but men can join the Order as well and become Companions who are trained as bodyguards, law keepers and assistants to the Priestesses.

I knew when we started writing Uncharted what I wanted Saegardian culture to be and how I wanted it to contrast with the culture in Ismera, but I still found writing in the cultural details to be a challenge. The hardest part was in acknowledging my own implicit bias and dismissing it, so I could make Saegard a place without sexism or intolerance. Murandy and I both worked very hard on all the little details in the world we created and we hope that you will enjoy the time you spend there as much as we did.

You can order Uncharted from any major book retailer, or in our online store.

CoverrevealUncharted copy

Uncharted – Meet Captain Reginald Lawrence

I’ve got Uncharted on the brain! Seeing as it comes out in 10 days, I suppose that’s to be expected.

While planning for Uncharted, I did a lot of work on developing the characters and their backstories, so I thought I would share some of my notes with you!

Without further ado, here’s Reginald Lawrence:

Reginald Lawrence is a Naval Captain of the ship, The Clover. His father, Claude Laurent, was a sailor, a drinker and a gambler, who managed to secure himself a title in the navy during the brief period when Saegard was recruiting to defend itself against the Civil War that had broken out in Ismera. His father won the ship in a poker match with the winning card, the King of Clubs (Le roi du Trefle). When he asked the painter to rename the ship, he was drunk and going on about how he was the Roi du Trefle and the man misunderstood and painted a four leaf clover. However, Capitaine Laurent kept it that way, calling it his ‘lucky ship.’

Reginald is now 23. His father is now deceased from a failed liver due to excessive drinking. Reginald’s mother is an Ismeran noble, a Callais, though from a minor branch of the House. She’s still alive and lives in Portland.  Reginald inherited The Clover and a his position as a naval Captain from his father and his preference for speaking English and going by his English name from his mother.  Reginald was of the opinion that his father was a drunken ass off ship and not too much better on ship. Clause Laurent only spoke french when drunk and Reg’s mother, who is Ismeran, never learned more than a few words of the language so Reginald often had to stand up to his father to defend his mother, which is why he prefers English and considers himself a primarily English-speaking person to this day.

His father died 3 years ago, but he was sick for some time before that, so Reginald has been commanding the ship for near to five years now. He has a small, but loyal crew. Reginald is not much of a drinker and has trouble holding his liquor. His mother loves him for it, but wishes he would sell that old ship and settle down with a nice woman, perhaps working as an accountant or lawman.

Uncharted Cover Flat

Destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice…

Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact. Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner,  the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.  
Uncharted launches April 17th, 2017! Join us for the online launch party and Live Q and A session; here!

Read an excerpt of Uncharted!

Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred launches April 17th, 2017. We’re celebrating the release by hosting an online launch party, live Q and A, live reading, and giveaway on Facebook. You can RSVP here:

While you wait, here’s an excerpt from this upcoming fantasy/ romantic comedy:

Uncharted Cover

Noiseless on slippered feet, Meredith darted swiftly to the oversized double doors of the Celestial Chamber. She glanced once quickly over each shoulder to make sure she was still alone in the Great Hall before she gave the wide gilded handle a tug and felt the latch give way. With a grimace of effort, she pulled the heavy door open just enough to allow herself to squeeze into the chamber beyond.

Expecting darkness, moonlight dazzled her senses. The silvery light pooled in the middle of a wide and perfectly round central platform, serving to bring focus to the reason for this room’s existence: an ethereal-looking blue bowl lined with silver and filled with glittering water.

The Celestial Bowl beckoned to Meredith from its place on the solitary stone pedestal in the centre of the chamber. The sound of rushing water from the underground river that surfaced briefly in this room filled her ears as she let the heavy door fall quietly shut behind her.

I shouldn’t be in here, a small voice in the back of her mind reminded her, even as she took a step toward the glittering artifact. It’s only that I just can’t help but question if this life is for me. I want a family, a home…and a husband. I owe the Order for what they’ve done for me, but if I stay here and become a Priestess, I can’t have any of those things.

If I can just have a look at my destiny tonight, then maybe the path I should take will become clear. Besides, she countered the nagging sound of her conscience, if I wait until tomorrow’s ceremony to see my future, it will be too late to change it.

Her decision made, Meredith closed the distance between herself and the bowl with purpose, crossing the small, railless stone bridge spanning a gap over the rushing water beneath. As she neared the bowl, she kept her eyes fixated on the calm, reflective surface of the water within, not wanting to chance missing even the slightest bit of whatever vision it might grant her. Moonlight glinted off the silver interior of the bowl, making the room seem brighter than it actually was. As if in a trance, she lost herself in the beauty of the dancing light and that was when she saw it.

A man, no…only his torso, wearing a dark grey suit coat buttoned over his left breast. He stood with pride in his bearing, but beyond the grey coat and a single purple flower in his lapel the image cut off at the neck and didn’t show his face. Meredith leaned forward, trying to get a better angle.

The vision, if that’s what it was, continued and she saw herself from behind, unmistakeable with her lengthy waves of chocolate brown hair cascading over the hood of her light grey Priestess cloak. The vision of herself flung herself at this man and his arms reached up to hold her. Engrossed now, Meredith leaned directly over the bowl, determined to get a glimpse at the face of her mystery man when the image in the silver-lined water abruptly disappeared.

What? No! I wasn’t finished. I didn’t see his face!

Meredith stared into the reflective water without blinking, willing the vision to return or resume. The reflection of her own face stared back at her, but beyond it she thought she saw something else. Focusing on the anomaly, she realized it was a reflection of the bowl itself, seated as it was in real life atop its stone pedestal in the centre of the Celestial Chamber.

What does that mean?! she exclaimed in the silence of her own mind. How can the bowl show an image of itself? It doesn’t make any sense.

She looked back down at the bowl and its stubborn reflection of itself, then turned her head upwards to the moonlight as if to make sure it was still there when it dawned on her. Ugh, I put my head in the way! I interrupted the vision!

She tried several times to recreate the circumstances which brought her the cryptic glimpse of the future, but nothing she did seem to bring the bowl’s power back to life. I guess that’s it! Meredith threw her hands up in defeat. I should get out of here before I get caught.

Turning from where she stood on the small bridge that led from the pedestal’s platform to the double doors she’d come in by, Meredith made to sprint for the exit, only to smack bodily into a dark shadowy figure she hadn’t known was there until it was too late.

She let out an ‘oomph’ as the wind was knocked out of her and she was flung backwards a few steps.

Over the by now familiar sound of rushing water, Meredith noted a somewhat metallic clatter moments before her ankle rolled over something round at her feet. Set off balance, she stumbled and spent a few steps trying to right herself. She might have succeeded, too, if it wasn’t for the fact that she’d gotten too near to the edge of the narrow bridge. She cartwheeled her arms a few times, trying to right herself, screamed in hopes that whomever she’d run into would see her plight in time to catch her, and then unceremoniously went off the side of the stone bridge into the cold rushing water below.

(For the rest of the prologue, tune into our facebook launch party April 17th, 6pm EST:

Eye of the Storm – Part 6

(Find Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5…)

I took a deep breath and strode purposefully up the driveway, taking a good look around as I went. All was quiet. Too quiet. The power’s still out. Right.

The house was dark and silent. I made my way up to the second floor, avoiding my own basement apartment. “Dad?” I called into the darkness that was my parent’s bedroom.

He was instantaneously alert and I loved him for it. “What is it, honey? What’s wrong?”

Now the hard part. “Dad, the power’s out and I think something… got loose… in the storm.”

Rustling sounds as my father pulled back the covers and got out of bed. A sliver of light appeared where he drew back the heavy curtain to look outside. I could see his frown as he took in the unnatural colour the sky had turned around the same time that cat-creature had shown up.

“Got loose?” My mother echoed. “Summer, what are you talking about?”

“There was this cat…” I began and then quickly gave up explaining as I realized how ridiculous I would sound. “Here,” I said instead, entering the room fully and crossing to stand with my father near the window. I showed him the quill in my hand. “It had a mane full of these and I know how it sounds, but it was attacking people downtown. And it killed…” I saw Howe again in my mind’s eye. “It was eating someone… when I found it.”

“Oh my god!” My mother exclaimed. “You were that close? Downtown, you said?”

“It’s true!” Becky surprised me by suddenly filling the doorway, dressed in a bright pink T-shirt and skinny jeans like it wasn’t the middle of the night. She held out her clock-radio, also pink and covered in faded heart-shaped stickers from a simpler time. “I was listening to music when the power went out and I lost my station. I was trying to get it back when I stumbled on this.”

She turned the volume up on her battery-powered device. What sounded like a recorded message filled the room. “…advised. We are experiencing a city-wide state of emergency. We caution you to stay in your homes and await further instructions…”

I met my father’s eyes as the broadcast continued to advise and caution, but give no real information. His expression was grim, but calculated. “Aubrey, Becky, start packing some emergency supplies. Anything you think we might need. Summer, you may want to do the same.”

I swallowed past the lump in my throat and nodded. “I’ve got Debbie in the car… she’s got -”

Without warning, the message coming out of Becky’s pink radio changed. Instead of a vague pre-recorded looped warning, a slightly tremulous young voice cut through the static in high-pitched terror. “… you can hear this, I need your help. I’m at 946 Bruce Ave and I swear I’m not making this up. There’s a…a monster in my closet. I’ve boarded it up for now, but it’s not going to hold. Please, if you can hear this… Please… help me.”

(If you like this serial and want it to continue, like this post, subscribe to this blog, or leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading!)

Doing Live Readings: Uncharted

For an introverted author, like myself, live readings are challenging. Even more challenging than that, I think, are videos and live streams. Personally I find talking to a camera (and therefore a potentially endless number of people) to be even more intimidating than an event that’s only going to happen once with a fixed audience.

However, being an entrepreneur means conquering your fears and answering the tough questions, so now that Facebook Live is a thing that exists to help creators like myself reach our audience, I’m going to have to get over my stage fright and fast. To that end, I’ve been practicing.

First, you can always check out our Youtube Channel, where Adam Giles and I sit down to talk about all things publishing and writing from Query Letters to world building. Then you can head over to facebook and watch/listen to me read a short segment from my upcoming novel, Uncharted:

Then, if you haven’t had enough of me yet, I invite you to come out to the online launch party for Uncharted on April 17th from 5pm to 8pm (EST). RSVP HERE:

Then, if you’re local, come out to the Riverside Public Library in the evening on May 17th for a live reading hosted by Urban Farmhouse Press! I’ll be there, along with fellow Mirror World authors, Elizabeth J. M. Walker and Sharon Ledwith.

If you’d rather read than be read to, here’s the excerpt I read on Facebook for your enjoyment:
Uncharted Cover Flat

Despite her misgivings about it, Meredith was used to doing as she was told, so she picked up a large round tray and headed out into the dark and noisy common room. Music filled her ears as she stepped out into the fray. Men filled the chairs around circular tables, but the occasional woman could be seen sitting on a man’s lap, or on the table where his dinner should be.

The Fleur-de-Lit had a stage too, and it was well lit to showcase a few musicians and, to Meredith’s surprise, Yvette. She was singing beautifully, her hair done up in an elaborate fashion, which made her look much older, and her dress hugging her form in a provocative way. For a moment Meredith was entranced, but then she became aware of the lyrics to the girl’s song and her face heated uncomfortably.

Trying to drown the suggestive song out by focusing on the job she’d come out here to do, Meredith scooped a plate and reached past a gentleman to grab an empty glass.

“I’m telling you, Dion, even the help here has some amazing assets.” Meredith’s eyes went wide as she felt a rather large hand cup her buttocks. “Get it?” the man continued, patting her behind familiarly. “Ass-sets?”

“Excuse me, Monsieur!” she exclaimed, straightening abruptly. “Please keep your hands to yourself!”

Startled at first, the man chuckled after a moment, squeezed her ass one last time, and let go. His friend, Dion, also seemed amused by this display. “I don’t think the Mademoiselle likes your attentions too much.”

“Ah, she will like them well enough if I pay her to,” he returned, grinning in a knowing fashion.

Meredith was scandalized. “How dare you! I am a Lady!” Hardly knowing what she was doing, she swung the glass beer stein in her hand, hard. It hit the man with a satisfying thunk, the glass handle breaking off in the impact. He crumpled and slid off of his chair.


Get to know Sandra Unerman, author of Spellhaven

Sandra Unerman’s novel, Spellhaven, is coming August 17th, 2017, so we invited Sandra to answer some questions and introduce herself…

M|W: Hello Sandra and welcome. Since you’re new to the Mirror World family of authors, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

SU: I’m really enjoying being part of the Mirror World family. Thank you for bringing me on board.

I grew up in London, where I’ve lived for most of my life. I studied history at Bristol University and then qualified as a barrister, which led to a career as a Government lawyer. This was a fascinating job, which included a year based in Minneapolis, when I travelled to various US cities to study land use planning. But the job became increasingly demanding, especially when I was managing a team of about seventy people. So I was pleased to be able to retire a few years ago, in order to focus on my writing ambitions, among other things.

Before retirement, I had attended some Milford workshops. I am not sure whether there is a Canadian version of Milford but it’s a weeklong residential workshop for about 12 to 15 writers, in which you take it in turns to critique each other’s contributions. The atmosphere is intensive but supportive and I’d found it really stimulating. That led me to embark on an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, with a specialist strand in SF and Fantasy. The MA helped me develop my writing in a number of ways and strengthened my contacts with other people in the SF community. I am now a member of London Clockhouse Writers, which has monthly meetings. We don’t critique but discuss market opportunities and have go on the spot at writing on a set theme, either on our own or in collaboration. These sessions have also been very productive for me.

My father passed away three years ago and I now share a house with my mother, who is 88. As a result, I don’t do much travelling these days but I visit exhibitions and go out and about in London.

M|W: So you’ve got a book release coming up in August, Spellhaven. In your own words, what’s Spellhaven about?

SU: Spellhaven is an island city ruled by magician lords. Their powers come from the supernatural beings trapped in the island, whose good humour must be maintained with shows and entertainments of all kinds, or they will turn spiteful and dangerous. To keep up the supply, the magicians kidnap artists and performers from other places and make them work for a set number of years, in exchange for their freedom. My novel concerns Jane, a young English musician, kidnapped in 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War. She refuses to accept the usual terms to obtain her release. Her anger at what’s been done to her leads to unexpected consequences for her and for the magicians.

M|W: Spellhaven is your first novel, right? Have you written anything else we should take a look at?

SU: In 1979, I had a young adult novel published by Dobson Books in the UK, Trial of Three, which was an Arthurian fantasy. After that, my day job took over and I did not get anything else into print for a long time. In the last few years, I have produced several short stories, as listed on my website. These are not tied to Spellhaven but depict fantastic adventures in a variety of settings. For example, Mountain Tea, (published in Legends, an anthology in honour of David Gemmell, NewCon Press, 2013) is a fairy tale about an heiress with three suitors, who finds an unconventional way of putting them to the test. In The Night Hound, (Detectives of the Fantastic, volume IV, Horrified Press, 2015) a student mage is in love with a young man suspected of a series of supernatural murders.

M|W: We love the concept of Spellhaven, the magical city filled with unseen spirits that must be entertained. Is there anything in particular that inspired you to write about a place like that?

SU: Many different themes and images came together as I was working on Spellhaven. I’ve always enjoyed live theatre, including opera and ballet, far more than film or television. I’d been reading a lot of biographies and memoirs about stage personalities and performers like Diaghilev and Henry Irving. They increased my fascination with the way theatre can create a magic of its own, which doesn’t have to be realistic to have a powerful effect on the audience. I wanted to bring the feel of that alive in my novel.

M|W: So now that Spellhaven is on the way, are you working on anything else?

SU: After I’d finished Spellhaven, I become interested in a group of exiles from the magicians’ city, who end up in London in the 1930s. It’s a time when people were struggling to deal with the aftermath of the First World War and the troubles that led to the outbreak of the Second. And when women, in particular, were beginning to question their roles in society. So my next novel is about people in that setting, who are threatened by an intrusion of supernatural spirits and dangerous magic. They have a lot to learn if they are going to survive.

Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

Cover Reveal: Uncharted

It’s here! The cover I’ve been waiting anxiously to share with you!

Uncharted is a romantic comedy set on the high seas of a fantasy world. Meredith, a fugitive priestess takes her fate into her own hands when she stows away on a naval ship belonging to two mysterious men. To clear her name she will have to go on the journey of a lifetime and in the meantime discover that destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice.

Here is the cover:

Uncharted Cover

Title: Uncharted
Author Name: Justine Alley Dowsett & Murandy Damodred
Length:  344 pages
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance, Historical, Comedy, Adventure, Swashbuckling, Polyamoury
Release Date: April 17, 2017

Destiny is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice. 

Fated to be a Priestess of Saegard, Meredith dreams of leading a normal life with a family and a home of her own, something she’ll never have if she swears her life to the Order.  A chance encounter with a stranger in the sacred Celestial Chamber sends her previously well-ordered life into a tailspin of adventure and mayhem as she is blamed for the theft of a legendary artifact.

Now a fugitive, Meredith must join forces with Captain Reginald Lawrence, the son of the man who initially brought her to the Temple, and his enigmatic business partner, the charming yet at times infuriating, Grey Rhodes, to find the Celestial Bowl and clear her name. From the cosmopolitan capital of Saegard to the coast of Ismera and back again, Meredith’s journey will reveal the true nature of her past, present, and ultimately, her future.

Uncharted Cover Flat

Saphs Book Promotions

This book launches April 17th, but until then, you can pre-order it from us, or from major retailers: 

Mirror World Publishing:


Subscribe to this blog for more updates and sneak peeks into Uncharted and other upcoming releases!

1usJustine Alley Dowsett

From obtaining her BA in Drama at the University of Windsor to becoming an entrepreneur in video game production and later, publishing, Justine Alley Dowsett’s unswerving ambition has always led her to pursue her dreams. She lives in Windsor, Ontario and dedicates her time to writing and publishing fiction novels. When not focusing on growing her business, she enjoys role-playing with friends and developing new ideas to write about.

Murandy Damodred20160318_205621.jpg

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 imagine herself as the heroine of her next novel, in reality she’s a new mom starting her new career as a medical technician in Windsor, Ontario.


Eye of the Storm – Part 5

(Find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.…)

Several things happened at once. The crowd, seeming to get over its shock en masse, scattered. Debbie wrenched the passenger side door open, turning her attention from the creature in favour of self-preservation. And the creature, instead of leaping, seemed to hunker down, its quills bristling. Somehow the motion didn’t do anything to set my mind at ease.

Debbie’s ass struck the seat cushion at the same time as a veritable barrage of those massive porcupine-like quills struck the passenger door and window. Debbie screamed, but more from shock than pain, I thought, as the glass from the shattered window rained down on her lap, followed by a quill, made more or less harmless by its loss of momentum.

“Hold on,” I said, more than a little surprised by the controlled sound of my voice and without waiting for her acknowledgement, I let my foot fall on the gas pedal.

The passenger side door wasn’t closed, but Debbie’s death grip on the handle was enough to keep it from swinging wide as I abruptly sped off, veering away from the monster, heedless of the rules of the road. If the thing followed, or decided on easier prey, I wasn’t aware of it. I turned the first corner I came across, making a sharp right without signalling, and settled into a smoother speed almost by reflex.

“Shut the door, Debbie,” I commanded her, beginning to regain control of my faculties.

“Oh, yeah, right,” she muttered, her voice as shaky as her motions.

I glanced over to see her gripping her leg tightly as she grimaced in pain. My eyes widened in horror taking in the sight of the quill embedded in her leg and the blood that ran down her leg from the wound, but there was nothing I could say or do to make it better.

It took her some effort, but the door clicked at least partially closed and she was able to let go of the handle. Debbie fidgeted, uncertain what to do with her hands. One hand hovered over the filthy-looking quill in her lap, but then she seemed to think better of it and settled on lifting a piece of glass from her thigh instead.

“W..what..?” She began, but I forestalled her, knowing the question she was trying to ask.

“I don’t know, Deb.” I decided not telling her about Howe and what I’d seen in the bar’s basement was for the best.

“…” She stopped, gathered herself and tried again. “Paul?”

“I’m sure he’s okay,” I told her, whether it was true or not.

Debbie just nodded and fell silent, her eyes distant. As I drove, I became aware of two things. The power was still out and everywhere, not just the area around the bar. The brightest thing in any direction was the ominously pink and orange storm-filled sky. The other thing was that there was no emergency vehicles. No sirens, no calls of alarm and no reassuring presence of cops racing to the seen. I didn’t mention it to Debbie, but I hoped that they were simply taking another, quicker route to the bar. Preferably with massive tranquilizer guns to take that thing out and put it back in whatever zoo or experimental horror factory it had come from.

That’s a good question though, I realized abruptly, where in hell did that thing come from? And how did it get into Howe’s basement?

Neither Debbie, nor the eerily silent streets gave me any answers. I needed to get Debbie to a hospital, but without thinking about it, I instinctively took the streets that led me toward home. Halfway there, Debbie seemed to realize where we were headed.

“I’m waking my parents up and then I’m taking you to the hospital,” I stated firmly, deciding right there and then on my plan of action. “Are you okay for now?”

She nodded. “But what about Paul?” she seemed to have recovered herself enough to speak. “He won’t know where we’re going.”

“Call him, then,” I told her. “I have to make sure my parents and sister are safe. Besides, my dad will know what to do.”

My dad was a natural born leader and he’d spent the years before Becky and I were born in the Canadian armed forces. If anyone would know how to deal with an enraged monstrous cat-creature terrorizing the downtown streets, it would be him. I felt better just thinking about handing this problem over to his capable hands, though telling him would be a bit surreal. So, Dad… Debbie and I were out at the bar and…

I sighed as I pulled into my driveway, Debbie holding her cell to her ear like it was some kind of life line. I shot her a questioning glance. She shook her head looking worried as she shrugged. At least trying to get a hold of Paul is taking her mind off of things. Opening the door, I took advantage of her momentary distraction to extract the quill from her lap and mouth, “I’ll be right back.” She nodded again, and I left her in the car, knowing she’d scream if she so much as saw a housecat right now and I’d be able to rush back outside… to do what, I wasn’t sure.

(If you like this serial and want it to continue, like this post, subscribe to this blog, or leave me a comment below! Thanks for reading!)

Surprise Announcement! Leigh Goff’s Bewitching Hannah

Surprise! Leigh Goff’s got a witchy new book for us!

You may already be familiar with Leigh’s first witch-centric YA masterpiece, Disenchanted, but if you haven’t read it yet I strongly urge you to do so. Leigh has a unique writing voice and a flair for combining magic and romance.

disenchanted-2 copyIn Disenchanted, sixteen-year-old, Sophie Goodchild is a young witch faced with the choice of embracing light or dark magic. She’s also faced with the consequences of falling for the one boy she’s forbidden to fall for; the descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. Throw in an  ancient magic bloodcharm and a true-love curse and Disenchanted will leave you spellbound.

Bewitching Hannah is not a sequel, but it does revisit Leigh Goff’s witchy-world. This time, the setting is Annapolis, Maryland, and Hannah Fitzgerald is the unfortunate descendant of some powerful Chesapeake witches. The problem is, Hannah wants nothing more than to live an ordinary life, especially since the loss of her parents a year ago. Hoping for a fresh start, Hannah starts at a new school, but is soon embroiled in the local coven’s politics when she sparks a rivalry with the head of a mean-girl witch clique, the Queen Js. Then, she learns of a terrible prophecy – the coven’s two most powerful young witches are fated to face off and only one of them will live.

Leigh Goff-150 RETSubscribe to this blog our our newsletter to be kept up to date on developments concerning this upcoming release!

Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America.

Catch up with Leigh on her website/blog:


Eye of the Storm – Part 4

(Find Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.)

“But Debbie!” I protested, pulling my hand out of Victor’s grasp. And Paul…  I added silently.

“Shit, yeah,” Victor startled me by agreeing. “We’ll drive around and pick them up.”

Wait, this guy knows Debbie? Belatedly, I noticed Victor’s hand was on the door handle of an ambulance parked as inconspicuously as possible in a shadowy back corner of the lot. I watched, open-mouthed, as he wrenched the passenger side door open and stepped back, gesturing for me to get in. Victor’s a paramedic? Not just any paramedic, my muddled mind supplied. It seemed Paul and I weren’t the only people Debbie had invited out tonight. “You’re Debbie’s partner?”

“Yeah,” he answered, his wide eyes betraying his surprise that I didn’t already know – either that, or just his panic over what we’d just witnessed in the bar. “Are you getting in or what?”

But my legs were already carrying me backwards. I heard a jingle as I adjusted the strap of my over-the-shoulder purse and remembered my battered oldsmobile. “No,” I told him. “My car is…” I scanned the lot and found it easily, much nearer to the front of the bar where I hoped I’d find Debbie waiting for me. “I’ll meet you there.”

Without a backwards glance, or the presence of mind to wonder why Victor had driven an ambulance to the bar, I left Victor and dashed across the lot, heedless of the puddles this time. When I reached my old car, I slid myself into the driver’s seat, grateful the door opened without a fuss. Struggling to slow my beating heart, I knew I was in no state to drive, but I felt better already with the firm solidity of the ancient car around me. I took a deep breath and turned the key. The car’s engine turned over and stuttered to life.

I backed out and righted myself, exiting the lot with the ambulance’s lights filling my rear-view mirror. A quick right turn and then another down the one-way street the bar faced put me right outside just as Debbie and Paul surged out of the bar to join a handful of other confused and scared patrons. I didn’t imagine it, then…

Debbie, seeing my car, tried to pull Paul toward it. He shook his head. I reached over, rolling down the passenger side window to wave them over when he said, “No way I’m leaving my truck. You go on, I’ll be right behind you.”

Debbie looked troubled, but at my frantic waving, she nodded. Paul headed off as Debbie made for my car, but before she could get there the unthinkable happened. Screams and shattered glass filled the air as that thing, whatever it was, came crashing through the bar’s front window. I felt my jaw go slack seeing it by the preternatural light of the stormy clouds that roiled above. No longer half-hidden by the enclosed darkness of the basement or bar, I could see that it was a cat, of sorts.

The creature was cat-like in that it stood on all fours with cat paws and a cat face, but it was also larger than any lion I’d ever seen, being easily taller than me, or even long-limbed Debbie. It’s muzzle was still covered in Howe’s blood and shattered glass decorated its reddish-brown fur, adding to its menacing appearance. And in addition to the large yellow cat eyes I’d noted before, it had a massive mane of what looked like porcupine quills, only they were too big and lengthy to have belonged to any porcupine in existence.

It was eating the bartender, the truth of what I had witnessed sunk in with a sick feeling as I watched it hunker down, its quills quivering as its growl mounted in intensity. Any moment now, it would choose a target and leap, tearing and biting with its over-sized claws and wickedly sharp-looking teeth.

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