reading

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.

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.

 

The Hunting Dog by Rita Monette – Part 2

Find Part 1 here! Or find Rita Monette’s Nikki Landry Swamp Legends books here!

Me and Lydia sat in her tree house and talked about her cat and my dog until I heard Papa driving up the gravel road. I ran to meet him as fast as I could. I took a quick gander into the back of his truck, then followed him inside where mama had lunch on the table. I had some more begging to do.

“I’m heading back to old man Lowry’s first thing in the morning,” Papa said before I could even open my mouth.

“Ain’t that the man you got the dog from?” Mama asked as she set a glass of milk in front of me.

“That old coot sold me a bum dog,” he said.

“A bum dog?” I asked. “What does that mean?”

“Took him out this morning and all he did was lay on the ground,” he said. “Woods full of rabbits and coons, and he just laid there.”

“Maybe he didn’t feel like hunting today,” I said.

“Dog’s no good I tell you.” Papa took a big bite of fried chicken, then continued to talk with his mouth full. “He’s going back tomorrow.”

“No!” I jumped and ran outside and to the cage in the back of Papa’s truck.

Snooper sat crouched in the crate.

I opened the door and reached inside.

The brown and black and white dog licked my hand. Then he scooted toward me and stuck his cold nose to my face.

I giggled. “You’re not a bum dog,” I said. “You’re a good dog. And I’m keeping you.” I put my arms around him and carried him up the pier and to the deck.

“Nikki,” Mama shouted as she opened the screen door to meet me. “Where are you going with that dog?”

“I’m keeping him,” I said.

Papa jumped up and stood next to Mama. “No you’re not. I’m getting my money back for that no-count dog.” He stepped outside, took Snooper from me, then carried him back to the truck.

I ran up behind him and stuck out my lower lip. “His name is Snooper and he ain’t no-count.”

Papa glanced at me, and his wrinkled forehead smoothed out a bit. He chuckled, then his frown came back. “Tadpole, you can’t have the dog and that’s final.” He grabbed my hand and led me back to the house and the table.

I flopped down into the chair, but I wasn’t hungry. I looked sideways at Mama. “What if Mama says I can?”

Papa kept eating.

Mama kept eating too.

I glanced from one to the other for a sign of caving in.

“You can’t have a critter in the house,” she said without looking up. “With the baby on the way and all.”

I blinked. “What baby?”

Papa stopped eating. “A baby?”

“Yes, we should have it by Fall.”

“Is it a boy or a girl?” I asked.

Mama laughed. “We don’t know yet.”

“I hope it’s a girl,” I said. “But why can’t we have a dog and a baby too?”

“This place is too small,” Mama said. “If you do keep him he’ll have to stay outside.”

“I can keep him!” I jumped up and ran for the door.

I didn’t say you could keep him!” Papa yelled at my back as the screen door slammed behind me.

“That girl,” I heard Papa say.

“She’s of your making,” Mama said.

I carried Snooper to the door and put my nose against the screen. “Can he stay inside until Papa builds him a bigger pen? That cage is way too small.”

“Good grief, Nikki,” Mama said. “You sure are persistent.”

“I am not,” I said. “I took a bath yesterday.”

Papa laughed out loud. “Hard headed, Nikki. Your mama means you are hard headed.”

“Well can he or not?” I asked.

Mama put her head into her hands. “Just until Papa builds him a pen. And only until then. He has to be out by the time the baby comes.”

I opened the door and set Snooper down on the floor. “You’ll be sleeping in my room, Snoop.” I looked up at Papa and Mama. “For awhile anyway.”

I reached into my plate and grabbed a piece of food and handed it to him. He gobbled it up real fast. He must have been starved.

“And no feeding him from the table,” Papa said. “There’s some dog food out in the truck.”

“And you are responsible for any mess he makes, young lady,” Mama said.

“Yes ma’am!” I sat on the floor and put my arms around my new dog. “You won’t even know he’s around.”

That was four years ago.

My baby brother, Jesse, was born in November, and Snooper still sleeps with me. Unless he’s sleeping on the floor, or the deck, or the grass. He just likes to sleep…when he’s not helping me solve legends that is.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. She is currently retired and lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, She enjoys participating in festivals and craft shows where she does face and body art, along with selling her books.

Public Speaking for Authors

 

Lately, this has been the topic I’ve been tackling in my day-to-day life, so I thought I should tackle it here as well.

Stage-Fright-Holding-You-BackLike most writers I know, I’m an introvert. I prefer to write, read, edit, and generally work behind the scenes. When I go out to network, sell books and meet people, I often find myself needing to hole up and recharge afterwards. It takes a lot out of me. But, it’s also a big part of what I do as a publisher and a published author.

Especially this month. Somehow this month’s schedule got filled with speaking engagements, and opportunities to read my book aloud in public. And all of those opportunities happening to fall within the same week and a half have caused my nerves to fray terribly.

So, how, as an introverted person, do I deal with this?

Be prepared

This might seem like a no-brainer, but picking out what section you’re going to read in advance and/or writing out your presentation or speech beforehand and editing it as thoroughly as you might edit your query letter to a publisher will help you feel more at ease with what you’re doing and it will make you more familiar with what you’re going to be reading or saying.

keep-calm-and-let-s-practice-11Practice

Once you have your words picked out, practice saying them out loud. Read to your cats, or like Murandy did, your baby. Read alone, or to someone you trust. It’s all about practicing in a judgment-free zone until you feel more comfortable.

Try not to dwell on it

Whenever you start thinking about it and you feel that anxiety creeping up on you, try to force it down, or will it away. Find something else to focus on and whatever else you do, don’t wallow in that feeling; that will only make it stronger. Find a friend to distract you, or play a video game or something, it will pass.

Speak confidently and slowly

When you get to the actual moment of reading or speaking start loud and keep that pitch, then make sure everything you say is said with emphasis and that you don’t speed up out of nervousness. Speak slowly and enunciate, just like you practiced.

a076a7851bc423dcd8645975b8d4e2c2Make jokes

If you can get the audience to laugh, you’ll feel loads better. If your subject warrants it, or if comedy helps you feel more comfortable, then use it. Engage with your audience and make eye contact with them when you can so speaking to them feels more like a conversation and less like a speech.

Celebrate afterwards!

Never underestimate the value of rewarding yourself for a job well done. If you got over your fear and accomplished what you set out to do, then go celebrate. You’ve earned it.

The Many Worlds of Mirror World Publishing

As you may or may not be aware, we offer a membership program. For just $19.95 a year, members get unlimited access to our ever growing collection of ebooks, early access to new releases, a discount on paperbacks ordered from our store, and SO MUCH MORE…

Not sure yet if you want to join? Well, we also offer FREE SAMPLES of our books in each age category. Order a free sampler through our store and we’ll send you an ebook that contains the first chapter of each of the books listed in a given category AND we’ve thrown a bonus short story into each one! Here’re the links:

 Kids                                           Young Adult                                          Adult

At Mirror World, we’re all about the setting, so here’s a glimpse into a few of the worlds you can visit within our books:disenchanted-2 copy

  1. Historic Wethersfield, CT

The small tourist town of Wethersfield, Connecticut is the setting of Leigh Goff’s Disenchanted. Filled with magic spells, witches, curses, ancient family heirlooms and haunting prophecies, Wethersfield is the perfect place for the occult enthusiast. Oh, and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers in Sophie’s aunt’s garden, or sample some of her fantastic home cooking.Cover SDOD4

 
2. The Kingdom of Dorlith

Elizabeth J.M. Walker’s She Dreamed of Dragons is set in the magical kingdom of Dorlith. Dorlith is home to magic-users of all kinds and cats. Lots of cats. Enroll yourself in Mage Academy, or dance your way to the palace and sign up to compete in the Royal Tourney. Either way, you’ll have a blast, learn a lot, and maybe, just maybe, end up the next heir to the throne!

 

3. Crimson Winter

Officially the planet has no name, but the desert world of the Crimson Winter Trilogy, by yours truly, is certainly a unique place to visit if I do say so myself. Accessible only through the magic of the gods, this planet has gone eight hundred years without seeing the setting of the sun. Water is scarce, and so is shelter, with the majority of the population, the self-named, Roughlanders, living in ancient military outposts and surviving by means of trade caravans from Taiyou, one of the few remaining fertile areas.

ncbook4. Neo Central

A look into the city of the future! In the world of Neo Central, again by yours truly, only one city remains after the collapse of modern society. This city is a marvel of technology and magic, but it isn’t meant for everyone. Those who can’t feel the city’s current and access the magic it uses to run itself are treated as outcasts and left to live in the ancient ruins of York Slums, or in the dangerous catacombs beneath the city; the Tunnels.

 
Thanks for reading!

August’s Feature is not your average love story. It’s four of them.

This month we’re featuring Unintended by myself, Justine Alley Dowsett, and my sister, Murandy Damodred. Which means, with the promotional code: FEATURE, you can get this book from our store for only $0.99. Or, if you’re a member, you can get it FOR FREE, along with all the rest of our books and some other cool perks. (Find out more about how this program works, here.)

Uncover3Unintended is a comedy of errors co-written by two authors who like to butt heads. It has influences from Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, from The Princess Bride, and believe it or not, from the love triangles common in Korean dramas (we went through a phase, okay?). Set in the fictional world of Ismera, which is part historical fiction, part fantasy, Unintended has four main characters, whose romantic stories intertwine in comedic and often disastrous ways.

Kenzie

As Murandy and I co-write, we tend to divide the protagonists between us. Mackenzie en Shareed, or Kenzie, is written by Murandy. As the daughter of the clan chief of Haldoram, Kenzie must travel south to the capital of Ismera to marry the prince in order to uphold a peace treaty between the two nations. Determined to marry on her own terms, Kenzie performs the marriage ritual immediately upon her arrival at the gates of Ismer, only to find out moments later that the man she’s just married isn’t the prince at all…

Garron

Garron D’Arbonne, written by me, is an Ismeran noble tied to the royal family by his engagement to the princess Margaret. He is sent down to the gates to act as escort for the prince’s arriving fiancee, only to find himself married to the strange, yet beautiful foreign woman before they even reach the palace.

Kadrean

Kadrean Authier, also written by me, is the Crown Prince of Ismer. He doesn’t think much of Kenzie, or their arranged marriage, especially not after their disastrous first meeting. Being who he is though, he knows he’s going to have to make the best of it, even if Kenzie seems to bring out the worst in him and he’d much rather spite his father by making Kenzie spurn him and return home.

Vivianne

Murandy wrote Vivianne, the headstrong, over-curious young lady cursed with visions of the future, who’s desperate to do whatever it takes to get away from her abusive family. Secretly in love with her father’s servant, she’s determined that her father won’t make her flirt with the prince, leaving that task to her sister, Victory, a pawn in her father’s plan to get the foreign princess out of the way so his family can rule Ismera once more.

Membershipbanner copy

All of our beta readers and fans agree that Unintended is our best co-authored book yet, so I hope you’ll use this opportunity to pick it up for $0.99 and give it a try. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. And if you like this book, chances are you’ll like the rest, so why not check out our membership program and get unlimited books for the year?

Thanks for reading!

Why Writers Should Also Be Readers

It’s not a coincidence that most people who write are also big readers. Besides providing entertainment and that window into lives other than our own, there’s a lot that reading can teach us about how to be better writers. To do this though, we have to learn to read critically even as we read for enjoyment. Here’s a few techniques you can use when reading to improve your writing.  

1. Vocabulary

This one may be obvious. The more you read, the more words you are exposed to in the correct context and so the more your vocabulary grows. Having a larger vocabulary gives you more words to draw on when you go to write. Now as you read, you tend to pick up some of these words subconsciously, but why not take this opportunity to learn them consciously? As you’re reading, if you come across a word you don’t know, or don’t know as well, see if you can gather the meaning from the context and if not, take the second it takes to look it up and commit it to memory. Heck, you could even make a list of these words for future use.

2. Visualizationapple-clipart-Red-apple-clipart

I learned this one in a creative writing course in University. We were asked to picture an
apple, hold it in our minds, and then afterwards describe it in detail. This is one example of how visualization can help your writing, but even more powerful than doing this exercise is to do it every time you read. As you read, let the words form pictures in your mind. Try seeing the story like it’s a movie, or a dream. Some people do this naturally, but if you don’t, it is a skill worth practising. The more easily you can visualize something, the easier it will be to describe it later when you are writing.

3. Genre

If you want to be a romance writer, read a lot of romance novels. The same goes for any other genre of writing. Once you’ve read enough romance novels, or if you’re reading them critically enough, a pattern will begin to emerge. This pattern will teach you what people expect from the genre you want to write in. Once you know this, you will know how to write in the pattern of the genre and how to break the pattern in new and exciting ways.

4. Foreshadowing and symbolism.

Another skill you can learn from reading a lot, or reading critically, is how to effectively foreshadow events in your own writing. If you pay attention, you can also pick up on common symbols used by storytellers. For example, crossing water tends to indicate a transition of some kind and wearing white can indicate purity or sacrifice. Symbolism can be used to convey themes, for foreshadowing events, or just to clue the savvy reader in to what you are trying to accomplish. Pay attention while you’re reading, especially if you are reading something for the second time to see places where the author leaves you hints for what’s to come. If you can learn to spot these, you’ll be in a better position to know where to put them in your own writing.

symbolism

5. How the experts do it

Perhaps the most beneficial thing a writer can learn from reading is how the experts do it. Reading critically or not, you can already tell which books you like and which you don’t. Reading critically will tell you why you like them and why you don’t. Then, you can use the good books as examples of how to do things well and the rest as examples of what not to do. Reading a lot of books and paying attention to what works and what doesn’t will go a long way towards helping you realize what works and what doesn’t in your own writing. And this is priceless to any writer.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Do you read critically, or just for enjoyment? Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below! Thanks for reading.

Let us pick your next read

Business_CardLibraryfron copyAs always, we’re keeping busy and we’ve got lots of new developments coming your way. My goal is to develop a community around the idea that if you like one of our books, you’ll like them all. To that end, we’ve developed the membership program. For only $19.95 a year, you get unlimited access to our entire ebook collection, a discount on paperbacks and automatic inclusion into our facebook group where authors and fans meet to chat about their favorite books and their experiences with the writing and publishing process. Not to mention the fact that you get first dibs on all of our new releases, which includes getting them delivered to you well before the release date. It doesn’t get much better than that.

WatcherFront copyAnd in case you’re not ready to dive in and become a member, you can always pick up an e-copy of our monthly featured book for just $0.99. This month that’s Joshua Pantalleresco’s The Watcher and the promo code is: DRAGON So go ahead and try that one out by clicking here.

Now for something a little different. This past week I’ve been working hard to put together a series of quizzes to help you pick your next favorite read! There are three versions of the quiz, one for kids, another for young adults, and the last for adults. And here they are:

bannerqui

Kids: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mirrorworldpub/which-mirror-world-book-should-you-be-reading-kid-2h3t4
Young Adults: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mirrorworldpub/which-mirror-world-book-should-you-be-reading-now-2h3t4
Adults: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mirrorworldpub/which-of-these-mirror-world-book-should-you-be-rea-2h3t4

I also rearranged our bookstore to make it easier to navigate by these age categories and included a new release section! Also, if you want to see our upcoming novels for this year, please check out our 2016 Catalogue. You can also subscribe to this blog to keep up with all the updates, changes, events, and new releases!

Thanks for reading!