Books by J M Brown:
False Magic - Published 2011
River Magic - Published 2013
Which Magic - Available later in 2013
Best Young Adult Novel of 2012:
Aimee and Brenda, fourteen-year-old orphans, meet in an alternate history version of St. Louis, Missouri Territory in 1822.
In this alternate history, slavery was abolished with the ratification of the U. S. Constitution in 1791. The Iroquois and Cherokee nations fought on the side of the colonies during the revolution and have retained their independence and formed an alliance with the United States against the western savages and the great powers of Europe. While seeking a lost letter, the girls become involved in a conspiracy against the alliance.River Magic is available now in most eBook formats at:
River Magic on Smashwords
River Magic for Amazon Kindle
River Magic for B&N Nook
Available NOW in paperback on Amazon
Read an excerpt from River Magic here.
Amy and Brenda, childhood friends from the wrong side of the tracks in St. Louis, begin high school when they get admitted to an elite girl's boarding school in Baltimore.
Struggling to survive in a new environment, they find both allies and enemies while attempting to discover what is true and what is false about Friendship, First Love, Magic, and Class Warfare.Get False Magic in most popular eBook formats here:
False Magic on Smashwords
False Magic for Amazon Kindle
False Magic for B&N (Nook)
Available NOW in paperback on Amazon
Read an excerpt from False Magic here.
Excerpt from River Magic:
I had been living in a tiny cave near the river and coming into town nearly every other day to steal food, or whatever else I could get my hands on.
I had a dress that I was able to keep reasonably clean, and I always changed into that beforehand. Everything else I owned, the cotton shirt and pants I usually wore and my deerskin jacket and my tools, I kept buried in the sand in the back of the cave. I would always wash my face and hands, tuck my blonde hair neatly under a bonnet I had, and carry a basket to make me look like I was just a normal fourteen-year-old girl out doing her customary shopping. Wearing the bonnet was a risk; I had stolen that too, off a clothesline. I figured that if its rightful owner challenged me, I would just claim I found it blowing along the street with the wind.
I still had a small treasure of two score copper pennies. Most had been minted by the United States, but I still had some old British pence too. Twice a week the baker made fresh bread. If I got there early enough, he would be busy and preoccupied, and some of his bread would be stacked on a table near the door. I would linger, savoring the aroma for as long as I prudently could.
As soon as he turned his back, I would hide a couple of small loaves in my blouse, but use one or two of my precious pennies to conspicuously buy a larger loaf, which I would put in my basket.
This was usually the only stealing I would do during the daytime as it was the only time I could get bread. At night, I had more possibilities: vegetables from gardens, eggs from people’s chicken coups, and on rare occasions, one of the chickens themselves. I was always careful to take no more than I needed.
The first steamboat visited St. Louis in 1817. I was only nine or ten years old and visiting Cape Girardeau with my mother when I heard the whistle pierce the sky. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before and I ran to the riverbank to see what it was.
It looked like a keelboat, but with a huge black stovepipe jutting up high from the center. There was a tiny pilothouse, built on stilts in front of that, and on either side, what looked like slowly turning windmill fans. It had neither sails nor oarsmen, but it moved steadily up the river against the current, as if pushed by a giant invisible hand. Smoke chuffed from the stovepipe, making a sound like a bellows in a forge.
My heart pounded in my chest from the sheer excitement of seeing this marvelous craft. I instantly knew that my world was about to change in ways both mysterious and profound.
Three years later, when the second New Madrid quake struck, more than a few people blamed the riverboats for causing the earthquakes by churning up the water and the earth below with their paddle wheels.
Excerpt from False Magic:
"There is not nearly enough love in this world, but there is far too much trust."
I was just a little girl when my daddy told me that.
"Whenever someone asks you to trust them, they're either a used car salesman, a politician, or some other kind of con man," he said.
"Most people say that you can't have love without trust, but that is wrong, and I'll tell you why.
"I used to have a dog named Ralph, a beautiful golden-haired shepherd-collie mix, and he was my best friend for many years. I loved him. But he got older, and he got sick. He developed arthritis in his hip and couldn't run or jump like he used to. When he would lift his leg to pee, he would sometimes fall over because it hurt too much to keep his leg lifted. He would look embarrassed when he'd lose his balance like that. Some people say that dogs don't have the same feelings that humans do, but if you've ever lived with a dog, and looked him in the eye, you'd know that's wrong too. He got worse. Near the end, he hurt all the time, and sometimes he cried, or seemed to. The vet couldn't do anything for him. I couldn't do anything for him. I couldn't even explain to him why I couldn't make him better. His last night, I fixed him a big steak for dinner and sat with him while he chewed the bone, eventually crushing it in his jaws. I slept on the floor next to him that night. In the morning, we went for our last ride in the car together, down to the animal shelter.
"He must have sensed something was wrong when we entered the little room in the back because he growled at the vet. The vet had a rope with a noose on one end. He slipped this around Ralph's neck, and wound the slack of the rope around his snout a couple of times. 'They bite, sometimes,' the vet said. I could tell Ralph was frightened, so, against the vet's advice, I removed the rope, and lifted Ralph onto the table myself, laid him down and held him. With hair clippers, the vet shaved a patch of fur from his foreleg to expose the vein. Ralph struggled a little bit at that but I calmed him and held him tighter. 'Don't let him bite you,' the vet reminded me.
"I put my hand over his snout. I knew he could easily bite me, and I knew how strong his jaws were, but my hand was better than the noose. Now, the question is, did I trust him not to bite me?"
That was just what I was wondering too.
"No. I didn't 'trust' him. He was a dog. It would be natural for him to bite when he felt the sting of the needle. I expected him to bite me.
"Let him bite, I thought. If biting my hand made him feel easier then let him bite it clean off. He was my friend. I loved him."
My dad paused his story there.
"So, Daddy," I asked, "did he bite you?
Dad smiled and looked me straight in the eye. "What do you think, Brenda?"
"No, Ralph didn't bite me. Of course he didn't. He was my friend, but I was his friend too. He trusted me."
I've never forgotten my dad's story. There is nothing simple about simple friendship.