Uncharted Excerpt

For our final week looking at featured author Justine Alley Dowsett, we have an exclusive excerpt from her upcoming novel, Uncharted!

Uncharted

Chapter One

“Sam!” Reginald exclaimed, making a point to sound jovial when addressing the sour-face postmaster. “How’re the kids? How’s Frank?”

“Har, har,” Sam replied in a flat monotone, barely looking up enough to glance over the edge of his half-moon glasses. “Like you care. I don’t even know why you bother to stop in here, you’re just going to throw out the letter from your mother without even reading it.”

“You’re reading my mail now?” Reginald raised a quizzical brow in Sam’s direction.

The postmaster shrugged lazily instead of answering, reaching below his desk to pull out a familiar-looking manilla envelope to hold it out to Reginald. He did all of this without taking his eyes from the newspaper article he was reading. Leaning forward, Reginald took note of the headline: Kevlan Warship Spotted Off the Eastern Coast – Coincidence or Portent?

Reginald shook his head. Kevlans, our modern day boogeyman. Sure, relations with Kevla aren’t great, but one ship in our waters is hardly a declaration of war.

Regarding the man suspiciously now, Reginald took the proffered letter and ignored the wastebasket this time in favour of stuffing it into the breast pocket of his sailor’s jacket. Sam didn’t seem to notice the change in Reginald’s routine, or if he did, he simply did not care.

“So if anyone comes this way looking for passage, you’ll direct them along then, right, Sam?” Reginald fought to get Sam’s attention one last time even as he backed away, intent on the door. “Especially a–”

“A Priestess,” Sam finished for him without looking up, “yes, yes, I know.”

“Right, because Priestesses are leaving here all the time, heading out to perform weddings, act as diplomats, healers–”

“Reginald,” Sam stopped him, “I live here. I know more about Priestesses than you do. I’ll send them to you if anyone is coming to book passage.”

“Thanks, buddy. I knew I could count on you.” Reginald forced a smile in the off chance that Sam should look his way.

“You mean you knew you could count on your coin buying my discretion,” Sam commented drily, directing his words to the paper in his hands more so than to Reginald as he turned the page.

“That too,” Reginald mumbled half to himself as he let himself out of the trading post and into the early morning sunlight. “Rat bastard.”

The street was bustling, at least for the Temple District in early spring. It wasn’t cold out, and perhaps that was the reason, this having been the first real nice day since winter broke. Kids laughed as they ran in the street, chasing one another, and Reginald nearly tripped over one of them as they got near enough to be underfoot. (more…)

Unmoored

By Justine Alley Dowsett

Red in the face, Renaud Laurent stood and slammed his cup down, splashing ale on the table’s checkered cloth. “I’ll bet any one of you here,” he slurred in his thick French accent, “that I’m the luckiest man ever to have crossed the Ismeran Channel!”

“Aww, sit down and put your money where your mouth is, Renaud!” His dicing companion, a red-headed Haldoram man, nudged the dicing cup toward him, taking a swig from his own ale cup and wiping his scruffy chin with the back of his hand. “All you do is talk.”

“Ginny, another round please,” Renaud called out after dribbling ale all over his thick curly beard, “I’m about to win all of Dagan’s coin.”

“If you lose this hand, I’ll buy the round,” Dagan countered.

Renaud grinned, scooping the dice up into his calloused hands. “As you say.”

He blew on the dice in his hands for emphasis, his blue eyes twinkling with more than just drink under his thick brown brows, before he let them fly onto the checkered cloth below and waited, holding his breath.

“Ha!” Dagan jeered. “That’s a win for me.”

Renaud studied the results of the dice closely, feigning shock. “Why, I believe you’re right, Dagan.” He lifted his head. “Ginny, I’ll have that ale now.”

“You’ve had more than your share,” Ginny called back, but that didn’t stop her from delivering another cup at Dagan’s expense, sashaying her ample bottom as she did so.

Dagan scowled, seeming to realize he’d been played, but wisely kept his thoughts to himself. Seeing that he’d possible overstayed his welcome, Renaud downed his first cup and started in on his second as he looked about for another dicing partner.

“Ah, well, I guess I better call it a night,” he said loudly, wobbling slightly as he reached for his winnings from the night. Not bad, he noted, mentally tallying them, though I should’ve bet less on that last round.

He turned about, ready to depart, only to find a lithe, dark-haired man staring intently at him. Renaud squinted at the newcomer. By his appearance, he was not a sailor like most of the patrons at The Crow’s Nest. His hair was greasy and pulled back into a loose tail at the nape of his neck, and his clothes were well-tailored and expensive looking, though they had clearly seen better days.

“Excuse me,” Renaud belched. “I was just leaving.”

“Luckiest man ever to have sailed across the Ismeran Channel, huh?” the man questioned, eyeing the dice on the table. “Ever thought of playing a game with a bit more skill involved? Poker, by chance?”

Renaud looked down into his mostly full cup. “Well, it seems I’ve still got some left in me after all,” he drawled. “Why not?” (more…)

Unintended Excerpt

We’re very pleased to bring you an excerpt from the novel Unintended, by Justine Alley Dowsett!

This book is available now! So if you enjoy what your read, make sure to pick up a copy. The e-book can be found here, and the physical copy, here.

Unintended

Chapter One

The rolling hills and grasslands of Ismera were strange to her in the beginning. Now, after nearly a month of riding through them, they had begun to seem commonplace. What the High Clan Chief’s daughter was not prepared for, however, were the high turrets of the palace she was headed towards and the sprawling city of Ismer that surrounded it. Even more surprising than all that was the fanfare that greeted her when at last she reached the city’s high-walled gate.

A handsome man atop a white horse rode boldly out to greet her, without so much as a weapon drawn or a friend to watch his back.

They are much more trusting here of strangers than they are back at home, she noted. Unless, it’s only that they don’t consider me a stranger.

Mackenzie en Shareed of Haldoram straightened her back, instinctively preparing herself to make a good impression. She felt her breath catch in her throat as he came closer and she realized that the man before her, with his sunny hair, tanned skin and bright blue eyes, could be none other than the man she’d ridden all the way here to marry. She felt her usually flawlessly tanned skin flush an uncomfortable shade of red as she watched him dismount and walk the rest of the way to her side, a wide grin spreading across his face at the sight of her.

I didn’t expect him to be so handsome. Kenzie found that as much as she might want to, she couldn’t deny the pounding of her heart or the fluttering in her stomach. I’m very fortunate to be attracted to him so easily.

If he took notice of her discomfort he didn’t show it, bowing over her hand and kissing it lightly. “Princess Mackenzie, let me be the first to welcome you to the City of Ismer.”

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Kenzie reached for the marriage bracelet she’d woven herself for this very occasion. Unhooking it carefully from her belt, she caught his hand before he could take it away and swiftly wrapped the small, white-flowered wreath about his wrist, tying it with a practiced motion.

She could see in her husband-to-be’s eyes that he was confused, but she didn’t have time to explain it to him now. That would come later, after they were entwined together in their marriage bed. Right now, only the ritual mattered.

I have to do this now, she affirmed silently. Once I enter this city of theirs and am completely surrounded by Ismeran culture and politics it will be too late to marry him in my own way, in front of my people and by our customs. It’s the only way I will feel comfortable with his arrangement. I can marry him in the Ismeran way afterwards. (more…)

Featured Author: Justine Alley Dowsett

We’re very excited for this month’s featured author, Justine Alley Dowsett. Besides being a fantastic writer, Justine is also owner and publisher of Mirror World Publishing.

You’ve heard us mention Mirror World several times over the last few months, but if you need a refresher course on just what Mirror World is all about, click here.

Justine’s writing is both deeply emotional and utterly fantastic. Although her books would be generally categorized as either science fiction of fantasy (or both!), her work is accessible and quite enjoyable for everybody, even those who don’t usually read such genres (Monsters!).

For the month of February, we’ll be bringing you an excerpt from Justine’s most recent novel, Unintended, a brand new short story and to cap it off, another except, this one an exclusive from Justine’s upcoming novel, Uncharted!

If you are interested in buying Justine’s books, you can do so at Mirrorworld.com, or if you prefer Amazon for your shopping needs, they can be found right here.

And make sure to check out Justine on Goodreads

The Fifth Monday Four: Ounta – Part One

Jason Abbott

Aen crouched in the brush, surveying the path that curved between massive redwood trunks and lesser conifers. The young hunter, no longer a child but still absent a beard, concealed himself beside a rotten and shattered pine. Having been there since dawn, dusk now deepened the shadows that filtered down from the towering forest canopy above.

Green eyes still focused on the path, Aen’s finger touched the knapped flint head of his best throwing spear. He left the weapon on the ground beside his knee to glance at the ash wood shaft of his second javelin. It leaned upright against the stump, beside a stout fighting spear.

Aen heard a shift in the birdsongs around him, and turned a keen ear to listen as the calls fell silent one-by-one. His gaze returning to path and forest, the growing hush was interrupted by a chittering treetop squirrel. He saw it drop a pinecone to the ground before skittering branch to branch.

His tanned limbs and back moved with a controlled, lean strength. Shifting his squat in a buckskin loincloth, Aen licked a finger and tested the air. Confirming he was still downwind of the path, he crouched deeper in the leaves and took hold of the spear on the forest floor beside him.

Slow, padded footfalls barely disturbed the carpet of orange pine needles upon the animal path. Yet Aen heard their approach, and eyed the bend that disappeared around a great redwood trunk. (more…)

Monster Rabbit Test

Edele Winnie

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me.”  Allen said. His pale face was completely serious, even though what he was suggesting was ludicrous.

His skinny girlfriend Sheila shook her head, her long chestnut hair catching a shine in the light. “You’re right. I don’t believe you,” she looked again at the metal cage on the dresser and the small black and white rabbit that wiggled its nose within. “Bunny Hopwell wouldn’t hurt a flea.”

“I knew I shouldn’t have told you,” Allen said sullenly, brushing a lock of pale blond hair off his forehead. “You never believe anything I say.”

“That’s not true. Besides this is just a little too much- do you really expect me to believe that he turns into a monster at night?”

“Not every night. Just certain nights. I can’t tell if there’s a pattern.”

Sheila shook her head. “Nope. Don’t believe. How would you know this anyway?”

“I saw it happen. I had let him out to stretch his legs. A shaft of moon light hit him and he transformed into this big scary thing. His ears- he still had big bunny ears- they were touching the ceiling. That’s how big he was. And he looked- demented.”

This time Sheila laughed. “Stop it,” she said. “You’re just making it worse. “

Allen became pouty and it made Sheila laugh even more.

“Come on you big goof, give me a hug. I love you even if you do have a weird sense of humour.”

They cuddled on the couch for half a bit and then he wanted to watch a movie on TV. She fell asleep near the middle of the martial arts and bang bang flick and when she opened her eyes again the house was in darkness, and she was shivering and alone. Allen must have gone to bed. She padded to the kitchen to get a drink of water before joining her boyfriend and passed by the room where Bunny Hopwell’s cage was located. The little door was open and the rabbit was nowhere in sight. A long beam of moon light shone in through the window and caressed the green shag carpet. (more…)

Down

Edele Winnie

Edwina almost fell as she ran to catch the elevator. Her yellow heels– a brave choice, bright yellow- were far too high and likely she caught them in a fold in the carpet or something like that. The apartment building was old and frankly pretty much everything about it was worn out, smelly and crappy. She managed not to fall though and changed that forward momentum into a comical hop, step, jump and then bang, she smacked into the elevator doors. They hadn’t been cleaned since Moses had used the elevator but there were still patches of shiny and after she’d regained her feet she checked out her reflection to see if anything had come unglued.

She was tall, really tall with the yellow heels, and wore a tight matching yellow dress. She thought of it as her Tweety Bird ensemble and she’d given herself extra long and full eyelashes to complete the effect. Her pale blonde hair was piled up on top of her head to make her look even taller. Her lips were red, her eyes brown, and the black dot beauty mark on her left cheek completely fake. She smiled. She always looked better when she smiled. Not bad. She was going clubbing, hitting the lounges and night hot spots on the strip where the cool people hung. She did not consider herself cool. She was hot stuff.

The elevator dinged like a stupid toaster oven and she prepared herself in case there was someone inside. Head high, shoulders back, padded bra out and one foot in front of the other because she thought it made her look curvy. The elevator doors slowly parted and sadly there was no one inside. Well, there was a smell, but it was a permanent resident in the elevator- Reminiscent of sweaty gym socks and dead squirrels. It was the kind of smell that makes you take the stairs, but that was impossible for Edwina in the Tweety heels. She dropped her facade and clunked clumsily into the elevator and pressed G for ground floor.

Nothing happened. She pressed the button again and more nothing happened. She was not going to walk down nine flights in her bare feet either, holding her shoes, so she punched at the button panel in frustration. She was a lover and not a good puncher and the elevator continued to do even more nothing. At least the smell was more tolerable with the doors open. (more…)