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Sneak Peek at Mirror’s Deceit

As you may or may not be aware, Murandy Damodred and I have finished writing the third in the Mirror World series. The series begins with Mirror’s Hope, which you can find here. The story continues in Mirror’s Heart, here. But now, you get to learn everything from the beginning as the third book, Mirror’s Deceit, takes the form of a prequel set in the Mirror World.

Here’s the blurb:

She’s destined to change the world. Her rival has made a desperate flight to the past to stop her…

In a seeming utopia, Mirena, a gifted student of majik, 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.

Mirror’s Deceit is currently being reviewed by beta readers and is set to be released early in 2018, but I thought I would give you a sneak peak by sharing a scene from chapter one. Here goes:

Mirena hit the ground hard. Rocks dug into the side of her face and her hands stung fiercely where she’d scraped them by instinctively trying to break her fall, even though there was no way she could have anticipated it. Her stomach lurched with the impact as she tried to fight off a wave of disorientation and nausea that threatened to overwhelm her.

A horn sounded. Two quick blasts. Despite herself, she counted them. I made it! I’m home.

She struggled to sit up. The air around her filled with the sounds of doors and windows being flung open as every person in the Stoa rushed to see who had arrived in the courtyard of their hidden College for talented Magi. Mirena grinned; her expression half grim determination and half hard-won pride. She forced herself the rest of the way to her feet and pushed the remaining nausea aside as nearly sixty students and half a dozen staff members barrelled down on her.

The cheering started as soon as they saw it was her and that she was on her feet and relatively unharmed. Mirena’s grin grew wider. I passed my exam in record time. Only four years study to make it to this moment, where most people take decades. The Mentor is going to be so impressed!

The gathering crowd parted to let the aging Mentor pass uninhibited. With his presence, the noise died down, slightly. The grey-haired Mentor smiled at the sight of her, leaning heavily on his cane as he alone out of all those gathered made his way down the steeply curving steps to stand just outside the sizeable ring of tall standing stones.

“Well done, Mirena,” he very subtly drew upon his majik to enhance the volume of his voice so all could hear him praise her.

Mirena beamed and starting running the minute the words were out of his mouth. She crossed between two stone pillars and flung herself at the Mentor, careful to throw her slight weight at him on the opposite side from where he held his cane, so he’d be able to keep his footing.

There was a collective gasp from the crowd that subsided as they realized the Mentor was still standing. “Whoa, there!” he called out, catching Mirena in one arm. “I know you’re excited, but you’re not done yet!”

“I know, but I’ll do the next part with no problems! You’d expect nothing less from your number one student…” She winked at him.

The Mentor shook his head. “Remember what I told you; rushing into things will only lead to a job half-finished. You have to look before you leap.” He put a hand under her chin to lift her blue eyes up to his before tilting her chin to the right. “I dare say that you wouldn’t have gotten these,” he noted the cuts the rocks had left on her cheek, “if you’d been more prepared to make the trip through the Sentinal Stones.”

“I would’ve been more cautious, but I was being chased by a large winged monster!” She exclaimed, stepping back from him so she could wave her arms emphatically. “I had to think fast and perform under pressure, so a slightly bad landing should be understandable…”  

“Tall tales, Mirena?” the Mentor asked, but his tone was light and his words kind.

“No, really. It’s true, it got my back with its claws, see?” She turned slightly to show him the claw marks that marred her left shoulder and the blood that she could now feel running down the length of her simple white dress.

Now it was the Mentor’s turn to gasp. He called back over his shoulder for someone to fetch the Healer.

“It’s okay, I’m fine. Just let me finish my test.”

He furrowed his brow momentarily, but when the Healer didn’t immediately manifest in the crowd, the Mentor had no choice but to step to the side and gesture for Mirena to continue. Nodding once and taking on a serious expression, she faced the spot where the Stoa’s headmaster had been standing moments before and applied her concentration to a line cut into the stone in an impossibly straight fashion.

That line was made by generations of Magi passing this test before me, including last person graduate four years ago; Terrence Lee. He only beat me in total time by a few days at most… I guess it’s not too bad to be second best when you’re being compared to the youngest and most talented Panarch in history!

Mirena returned her focus to the task at hand when she realized that everyone was now waiting expectantly. Everyone is watching. I can’t afford to fail. I have to concentrate!

She furrowed her brow, unconsciously mimicking the Mentor’s usual expression. Feeling the wind in her hair and the moisture riding on it from the nearby crashing of waves against the island on which she stood, Mirena took hold of her majik and felt the power of it build within her. She deftly added strength from the earth at her feet and some heat from the sun at her back and then she added what she liked to think of as the ‘secret ingredient’; a tiny piece of her own essence, her soul. Aiming it all at the space before her, directly above the tell-tale crack, she bent reality to her will and forced it to obey her. Two matched silver rings made up of all the elements spun in the air more expertly controlled than even the best circus performer could have managed, and with a sudden snap they locked together in place and between them she saw herself… from behind.

Mirena grinned once again, showing teeth this time. Opening a portal in front of you to travel to a spot within your viewing takes a great deal of concentration and skill. Let’s see what they all think of that!

The watching crowd gasped in a most satisfying way. Mirena went to take a bow while still holding the portal open with her majik just to prove that she could, when she took note of the Healer rushing down the stone stairway. Why is she running? I’m not hurt that bad… Can’t she see that?

But the Healer didn’t stop at her side, she brushed past her. Mirena whirled to follow the woman with her eyes, dropping the portal spell in her distraction. Behind her in the center of the circle of Sentinal Stones lay a woman dressed in a short light blue dress over black leggings. At first glance she looked to be unconscious and badly hurt; much worse than Mirena had been on her own landing.

Mirena’s first thought was that maybe she wasn’t the only one to pass her test today, as unlikely as that concept was, but she quickly realized that she didn’t know this woman. She wasn’t a student or a teacher from the Stoa, she was a stranger. It’s possible she didn’t know what she was doing. Perhaps she activated the Sentinal Stones by accident, which happens from time to time. Though usually not here…

As Mirena pondered the incident she felt the Mentor brush past her, followed by two other members of the faculty.

“Don’t crowd around!” The Mentor called out, his voice still amplified above normal volume by his majik. “Give her some room. It looks like whatever journey she’s taken to get here has taken a lot out of her. Hemora,” he addressed the Healer, “you’re in charge. Just let us know what you need.”

As the teachers made room for the Healer, Mirena got another glimpse at the mysterious stranger who had stolen her thunder. Despite the bruising on her face and scrape-marks similar to Mirena’s own, the woman appeared to be about Mirena’s age and very pretty with porcelain-coloured skin and long hair so dark it was nearly black. No sooner had she noted these details did the woman’s eyes open suddenly. They were deep blue and piercing and despite all the people in the courtyard and within the shadow of the tall standing stones, the stranger’s eyes locked onto Mirena’s own and held them.

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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.

 

Would you like a free sample?

Over the weekend we were in Toronto at the Word on the Street Festival and I discovered just how refreshing it was to know that nearly every person who stopped by our booth was already a self-professed reader. Typically at craft shows, conventions, or even our own events, it’s a mix of different types of people, some who enjoy reading and some who don’t. From a marketing standpoint, the conversation is very different when you already know that the person in front of you likes what you have to offer. The conversation essentially begins at a different point. Instead of, ‘Do you like to read?’ it’s ‘What kinds of books are your favorite?’ or ‘Are you looking for anything particular today?’

At the festival, we also got the chance to try out something new: Free Samples. I’ve created three different ‘Samplers’ and I’m giving them away to anyone who wants one. They’re ebooks that contain the first chapter of each of our books in a given age category. There’s one for kids, one for young adults, and one for our adult collection. So now, you can sample what we have to offer which might help you decide which book to read first, or if our membership program is for you.

The Kids one contains:MWKS1 copy.jpg

Black Lightning by K.S. Jones
The Legend of Ghost Dog Island by Rita Monette
The Curse at Pirate’s Cove by Rita Monette
The Secret in Mossy Swamp by Rita Monette
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon Ledwith
The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret by Sharon Ledwith
Legend of the Timekeepers by Sharon Ledwith

And a bonus short story not found anywhere else:
The Hunting Dog by Rita Monette

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The Young Adult one contains:

She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth J. M. Walker
Neo Central by Justine Alley Dowsett
Crimson Winter by Justine Alley Dowsett
The Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco
Stormdancer by Joshua Pantalleresco
Disenchanted by Leigh Goff
This Night Sucks by Elizabeth J. M. Walker

And a bonus short story:
The Search for the Golden Feather by Elizabeth J. M. Walker
And the Adult one contains:MWKS3 copy.jpg

Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord
The Time Traveller’s Resort and Museum by David McLain
Mirror’s Hope by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Mirror’s Heart by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Uncharted by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred
Forbidden by Matthew Freake

And a bonus short story:
The Queen’s Intent by Justine Alley Dowsett

These ebooks are available FOR FREE in our online store! Just follow the links to check them out or head over to our online store for the whole collection.

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In other news, our Worlds Collide Gala is in two days and if you’re local to Windsor, Ontario we hope you can make it out to see us. With several authors, prizes and the birth of our imprint, Adventure Worlds Press, it will be a night to remember! RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1186485788080361/

Thanks for reading!

Unintended: A Comedy of Errors

Uncover3There’s still three days left of the sale on our featured book for August! Go to our store and use the promo code: FEATURE at check out for $3.00 OFF the price of the ebook, making Unintended by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred only $0.99!

Kenzie en Shareed, daughter of the Northern Clan Chief, is sent south to the Kingdom of Ismera to uphold a treaty between the two lands by marrying the prince. Somehow she manages to marry the wrong man in this romantic comedy about good intentions and their unintentional consequences.

Here’s an excerpt:

Kenzie suddenly felt ill and more than a little dizzy. “You are not Prince Kadrean…?” The golden-haired stranger she’d just married wore a look of concern mixed with confusion. “Then who are you?”

“Uh…” He cleared his throat, made a little uncomfortable by the stares of the clanspeople. “Lord Garron D’Arbonne…at your service, Your Highness.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over them and the clansfolk, but Kenzie couldn’t find it in her to break it or fill it with anything meaningful. Her entire focus was on keeping herself from hyperventilating.

I just married this Garron D’Arbonne…not the Prince. Not my intended. Kenzie was in full panic at the gravity of the error she had just committed. How can I fix this?! The marriage bond is forever, never able to be undone. A man can remarry, under certain circumstances, but can a woman? Would they even allow such a thing?

My father will be so disappointed in me. He wanted this treaty between our lands to work. I’ve only just arrived and I’ve already ruined it. What am I going to do?!

“Well,” Garron cleared his throat again, “we should be going. I’m sure Prince Kadrean is eager to meet you.”

Gesturing forward, her husband held out his arm for her.

No, I mustn’t think of him that way, she admonished herself. He is my husband, but he’s right, I’m supposed to marry Prince Kadrean. There is a treaty. Our marriage is law. It must happen.

I’m so stupid. I could have avoided this if I had just thought to ask his name.

Her mentor had spent long hours making sure she understood the nuances of Ismeran culture, so Kenzie knew what was expected of her now. She slid her arm into Garron’s, even though she felt very conscious about doing so, and her people’s cheers resumed.

“What’s that all about?” Garron leaned into whisper to her, which didn’t help her self-consciousness.

“My people are happy for us,” she did her best to explain, “Most of them do not know English.”

“Oh,” he answered simply, considering this a moment. “I’m glad they approve…but what are they happy about, exactly? Pardon my questions, but I feel as if I’m missing something here.”

Garron took hold of the reins of his horse as they reached it, and with Seraphina leading both Kenzie’s horse and her own they were now reaching the open gates of the city, where it seemed that more people waited to greet them.

“They approve of our recent marriage…” Kenzie meant to say the words clearly and confidently, but they came out as a whisper instead.

Unfortunately, Garron heard her. “Our what?” he demanded as the roar of the crowd and the renewed fanfare swallowed them and there was no more time for words.

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Justine Alley Dowsett (right) and Murandy Damored (left) are the co-writing duo behind Mirror’s Hope, Mirror’s Heart and now Unintended. Their next novel, Uncharted, is coming early 2017. In addition to writing novels, they’re inseparable sisters and the unstoppable force behind Mirror World Publishing.

 

 

A Fusion of Epic Poetry and Graphic Art

The Watcher by Joshua Pantalleresco and its sequel, Stormdancer, are our featured books this month! Get the ebooks for $0.99 each with promo code: DRAGON in our online bookstore and enjoy an epic post-apocalyptic journey of discovery shown through a unique fusion of poetry and graphic art by the talented Florence Chan! Here’s a sneak peek:

  1. The Watcher

 alive and aware as the light comes in

rising to the sound of the morning drum

it’s plantation time

all of us work extra hard

they said we’d have bigger shares this year

if we did good

we wanted to try

I look to my mom and dad still sleeping

their hands calloused

their skins toughened

catching that last extra minute of shut eye

before they come

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the light darkens

snouts forming silhouettes in the shadows

scaly reptilian eyes and angel wings gaze down on them

he (she/it?) knows

for just a second, there is mercy

then justice rears its ugly dragon head

and roars

time to get to work

my job is atop the watchtower

I watch the skies for weather

we cannot work in rain or hail

if I see a cloud, I clang the bell

easy peasy and important

two dragons guard me from below

wielding their sticks of flame, they look up

making sure I do what I’m told

I would’ve anyway

I wanted that extra bit of honey

I wanted to feel the crunch of blackberries

I would be good until harvest time

days and weeks pass

the fallow ground sprouts with crops

corn and beans can be seen for miles

I gaze into the horizon

the skyscraper gazes back

it once stood tall and proud

now it is bent and tilted

covered in trees and shrubs

unable to tell the forest from itself

I cannot help but wonder

what were we like back before the dragons came?

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were we like them?

strong and proud

not caring about how hard we worked others?

many claim we were better then

more prosperous and possessive

me, I think we were the same

struggling and starving

tilling concrete instead of corn

working to eat a decent meal

had we really changed at all?

even more time passes

I stand atop the tower

thinking, thinking

I don’t know when it happened

But now I see things differently

I know what’s going to happen at harvest time

without counting a single crop

it is not enough

it was never enough

we would always fall short

my parents would be waiting for me at shift’s end

tears in their eyes

wondering just where they went wrong

blaming themselves for nothing

I’m furious now

I imagine wrapping my hands around a dragon’s neck

squeezing and squeezing

until I hear something snap

and I am satisfied

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I am unafraid

death doesn’t scare me

because I know the truth

next year it’d start again

the same empty promises, the same cycle repeating

we’d work and work and work

and get not a shred more than a crumb from their table

the way it has always been

it doesn’t have to be this way

I have to be patient

soon my chance will come

I’ll bide my time until then

waiting until their guard is down

I’d steal one of their sticks of flame

using it on their headquarters

I’d burn them to the ground

afterwards, I’d seek something

there just had to be something better out there

I just needed to be brave enough to find it.

I just needed one chance

until then, I’ll wait and watch

and be ready

one day, I’ll be free