Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Book Feature, Guest Post, & #Giveaway ~ Crimson Winter Vol. 1: Ruins of Sapphire by Justine Alley Dowsett ~ Young Adult, SciFi, Fantasy, Adventure @MirrorWorldPub

Please welcome Justine Alley Dowsett to the blog today!!

I remember very clearly the day I sat down and started writing Crimson Winter: Ruins of Sapphire. The story itself is based on a roleplaying game I was a part of at the time, one that I was very wrapped up in and couldn’t seem to get out of my head. Or, perhaps more accurately, I had been living in this fantasy world of my friend’s creation for some time and I didn’t want to leave it.

It was for that reason I decided to start writing. I was thinking about the beginning of the story and how it had all started and I realized that I didn’t want to forget a single moment of what had happened. I wanted to preserve it, so that years later I could simply re-read what I had written and not one minute of the story would be lost.

When I write a first draft now, I write it to experience a story, to work my way through it and see what happens, then I edit later. Crimson Winter was different. Writing the first draft of Crimson Winter was all about getting the story down on paper and out of my head. It was about recounting memories and not missing a single detail, so later, while editing, it was about polishing and taking out those things that didn’t end up being all that important to the story. Because, you see, when I started writing Ruins of Sapphire, the roleplaying game was still going on and the story wasn’t finished. In fact, the game never actually ended, but that’s a story for another time.

So that first night I was at work and it was a slow night. It was just me and a computer in the office, waiting to see if anyone would come in. I believe it was a Tuesday, which if you read the novel, you’ll understand why this is ironic.

I wrote the entire first chapter that night. (That first chapter is now much, much shorter and what survived of it has become the prologue, but at the time it was chapter one.) I did it by remembering what it was like to stand in that park in my mind’s eye and be surrounded by four teenagers I thought were gang members until they each lifted glowing red-jeweled necklaces and started using some kind of power to trap us in a red field of light. I put myself in Yukari’s shoes and tried to imagine what it would feel like to be suddenly confronted by the supernatural when you were an extremely intelligent and logical high school student. She did what any of us would do. She called the cops and when that didn’t work; she threw her cell phone at the barrier. No wait, her shoe, her cell phone was far too precious.

That night was a turning point for me. I wrote the second chapter the next day, and after three months of frantic, constant writing and I had a 130,000 word first draft. I originally self-published it in 2010 and now, ten years later, I’m re-releasing the series though Mirror World Publishing. I’m so glad I wrote it and for all the memories I was able to capture and I hope by reading it you get to escape, even if just for a little while, into the vivid world of Crimson Winter.

About the Book:

When Japanese high school student Yukari Namikoya finds herself suddenly and inexplicably on another planet, she must quickly come to terms with the fact that she may never see Tokyo again. With a sun that never sets, the desert world of Crimson Winter is on the brink of extinction and day-to-day survival can be difficult; especially for someone used to the modern-day conveniences of Earth.

Following the only clue she has to a way home – a cryptic message from a woman long dead – Yukari heads into the desert searching for the Temple of Sapphire. There, she finds the temple in ruins, but what waits there for her is her destiny as a Chosen of the gem god Sapphiros.

Stranded on this new world and hunted by the Vile Emperor and his vast forces simply for being what she is, Yukari has no choice but to learn how to fulfill the role she’s been cast into and become the long-awaited saviour of a dangerous planet she doesn’t yet understand.

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Book Details:

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing
Publication Date: June 17, 2020

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing

Read an Excerpt:

I awoke to the sound of the alarm on my cell phone.
Confused and muddled by sleep, I reached for it and put my glasses on to read the display.
Tuesday – 8:15AM
Something told me today was going to be much the same as the last. I snapped the phone shut in disgust, silencing it. It rang again as soon as I had done so. 
I stared at it astounded for a moment, then I read the screen. Hotaru-chan’s residence.
This, at least, hadn’t happened before. I answered it. “Hotaru?”
“Uh huh,” she answered in an uncertain tone. I marveled that she didn’t sound sleepy this early in the morning. “Um, Yukari-san, you haven’t noticed anything weird, have you?”
I was cautious in revealing my insanity, even to Hotaru who might be the only person to believe me – my friend had a very active imagination. 
“Hotaru, I just woke up,” I informed her steadily.
“Yeah, well me too…it’s just that…well…” She floundered. “Are you sure you haven’t noticed anything strange…” She took an audible breath. “Over the last couple of Tuesdays, maybe?” 
“Um,” I hesitated, which is rare for me, “you mean the way that Tuesday just seems to keep repeating itself?” 
“So it’s true then…what should we do, Yukari?”
So I wasn’t the only crazy person. Hotaru, someone I had known my entire life, was here with me. Somehow, knowing Hotaru, that was only a small comfort. Growing up together, anytime something had occurred that Hotaru couldn’t grasp or keep up with, she would turn to me. I was smart, she said, so I would know what to do. Well, generally she was right – I just wished this time could be that simple. 
“Meet me outside the gates at school,” I said, sounding more confident than I felt. “We’ll figure this out.”
“Do you think anyone else realizes this is happening?” Hotaru asked and I realized she had a good point. Was everyone affected, or were certain people just reliving this day over and over again to some purpose? There was only one way to find out. 
“We’ll look into that too. I’ll see you at school.”
I finished getting ready and I hurried to the gates. Hotaru looked worried. I greeted her in what I hoped was a reassuring fashion. 
“Look,” I said, gesturing, “there’s Kaji and Shuzhue over there. Let’s go and talk to them, and see if they know anything. I’m almost certain Shuzhue is at the heart of this.” 
Hotaru nodded, trying to look determined, and together we approached Kaji and his girlfriend as they milled about school grounds, waiting for the bell.
“Kaji-san, Chi-san, do you have a minute?” I asked.
“Sure,” Kaji replied easily as Shuzhue seemed shocked I was addressing them. I guess I don’t have much of a reputation for being social. 
Hotaru jumped right in without any of the sensible hesitation she had shown earlier when broaching this subject with me. “Have either of you noticed the odd way this Tuesday seems to be looping? It’s like that anime, ‘The Girl Who Leapt Through Time’.” 
Shuzhue grew even more confused, but Kaji seemed to be waiting patiently for me. I made a few calculations in my head. Corroborating Hotaru’s claim would only make whatever I had to say seem implausible and I would run the risk of not being taken seriously. “Chi-san, did you have any plans for after school today?” 
This, I could tell, was even more surprising to her. “Um, well, yes actually,” she answered tentatively and Kaji looked at her in surprise. This was evidently something he didn’t know either. Good – I might be getting closer to the circumstances under which she went missing.  
“I’m supposed to go with my mom to visit my grandmother.” I frowned, that didn’t seem a likely possibility for a kidnapping. 
“Oh,” Kaji said. “How is your grandmother? I don’t think I’ve seen her since last Christmas.”
Shuzhue did not look pleased the subject had come up and truthfully neither was I. Kaji was veering the conversation away from where I was likely to get information about Shuzhue’s disappearance.
“Actually, she’s not well,” Shuzhue admitted reluctantly. “We’re going to visit her in the hospital tonight.” 
I opened my mouth to ask her more questions about her plans. If I had the details, maybe I could accompany her there or follow her to see what happened, but as soon as I even thought it – 
Reset the program.
The words were in my head, spoken by a strange voice. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before or experienced before. The voice may have been robotic, that was the closest descriptor I could think of. 
Again? A different voice responded. This one was more guttural and less clearly defined. It was harder to make out. 
I shook my head, trying to clear it. 
Reset the program. The robotic command was repeated and Hotaru in front of me met my gaze with a shocked expression of her own – she had heard it too. 

Meet the Author:

Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing.
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