All Posts by Sam Cheever

Get Unbaked! The Prequel.

How in the name of the goddess’s favorite sports bra am I going to do this Magical Librarian job? I have no idea what I’m doing. And the woman who’s supposed to be training me is…well, let’s just say she’s distracted and leave it at that. I guess I’ll bumble through. It’s become something of a trademark move for me.

My name is Naida Griffith and I’m a sorceress. I actually found that out not too long ago. I’ve lived with an undefined something burning in my belly for a while, feeling as if something wasn’t quite right under my skin. Then, on my eighteenth birthday I started getting headaches. Bad ones. And random stuff started following me around.

Recently I was approached by a group called the Société of Dire Magic to become Keeper of the Artifacts. A magical librarian. Given that magical artifacts have taken to following me around, I decided I might have an aptitude for the job. So I said yes.

But in the first few days, I’ve been flogged by flip flops, bludgeoned by gnomes, and discovered a corpse in a suitcase. Then there’s the woman who’s supposed to be training me. She’s…interesting. 

Will I survive the training long enough to get the job as artifact librarian? You might as well ask me if a caterpillar gets manis or pedis. Who knows? But I know one thing for sure. This gig is hard. I’m going to do my best to succeed. Or die trying.

Break Out of Your Reading Rut!

I was chatting with a new reader recently about why we love books and reading. She stated, and I agreed, that it was a way to escape real life. That's never been more true than it is right now. So, how do we deal with life's little challenges when times get tough? 

We all have coping mechanisms that we fall back on in times of upheaval. For me, it's being around my family, reading, and writing. Many authors have lamented their inability to write over the last few months. When you're in a creative field, negativity and stress are not your friends. That's true, of course for everyone. But, for artists, it actually gets in the way of our productivity.

What I realized recently is that without making a conscious decision to do so, I've shifted my reading and writing focus to paranormal mystery adventures. It didn't even occur to me when I was doing it that it was my way of coping. But what could be less like real life than a good, swashbuckling paranormal adventure? #:0) 

Moral of the story? If you're having trouble concentrating on your usual fictional fare, you might want to try mixing it up a bit. Try a genre you haven't read for a while. Or one you've never tried. You never know…it might just be what you need right now. 

xx

Stay safe, stay cool, and stay cozy. Sam

Black & White Fun!

Good parenting advice: Only allow your small frog, cat, and hobgoblin limited and supervised television time, or risk stunting their mental and physical growth.


“They’re staring at that old TV again,” Sebille informed me as she came into the bookstore from the artifact library.

I shrugged, tucking a curly strand of long brown hair behind my ear. I was secretly happy the terrible threesome wasn’t flinging flour around the bookstore or creating more of those bunny-butted songbirds that had all but overrun Croakies. I’d had to hide the Plex hand vac from Hobs, my resident hobgoblin, because every time he used it to suck up dirt, the thing made more songbirds. They were currently lined two deep along the tops of my bookshelves, pooping all over the pretty new wood shelves beneath their feathered boohinds.

I had so many of the annoyingly happy critters in the store that I’d had to create a birdseed column in my monthly expenses.

“It’s not hurting them,” I said, the goddess of rationalization. “And it keeps them out of trouble.”

Sebille glared over at me, her bright green gaze narrowed. “They need to turn it off and go use their imaginations or something,” said the cranky sprite, whose parenting instincts had heretofore been inspired mostly by the pithy little sayings in the fortune cookies she so loved.

The tiny amalgamate dragon perched on Sebille’s shoulder chittered happily, lifting her wings and flying across the room to visit with her friends the songbirds. The birds broke into happy song at the dragon’s arrival. Little Sadie lifted her tiny head and joined them. Sebille and I winced. The dragon’s “song” sounded more like screeching banshees than music.

Luckily, there were so many birds they mostly overwhelmed the dragon’s voice.

Silver lining.

A whistling theme song rose above the bird’s clatter, as if Hobs was trying to drown out the happy noise by turning up the volume on the elderly TV. I recognized the song from a very old sitcom, which involved a country sheriff and his bumbling deputy dealing with a lot of silly problems.

Since I’d recently been lost in a dimensional wrinkle; had almost been killed by monsters, wizards, and demons more than once; and have had to continually deal with a naughty hobgoblin, a magical cat, and a snarky talking frog; I’d give almost anything to have problems as mundane as who was going to tell Aunt Bee her new rhubarb pie tasted like butt.

I’m just sayin’.

 

When Intentions turn Savage

The best chocolate begins with imagination and ends in murder. 

Making chocolate is a labor of love and an age-old art. As a connoisseur of the sweet, creamy stuff herself, Blaise is excited to be working at an exclusive confectioner’s shop, run by a woman whose reputation for being a creative chocolatier is legendary. Madeline Foss’s past might be murky and slightly dark, but her chocolate is delicious. And nothing says love like chocolate. Or at least, that’s what Blaise has always believed.

But when her new boss ends up dead, she quickly realizes that nothing says murder like jealousy and ambition. And there isn’t enough chocolate in the world to overcome a savage intent.


She floated into the room in a cloud of raspberry and chocolate chiffon, her arms waving around her head and her eyes swiveling to take in every display with a slightly hostile, but eminently discerning eye. “Les grains de café enrobés de chocolat!”

Blaise settled the last perfectly formed rectangle of toffee onto its tray in the glass case and glanced up. “I’ve got them ready to put out. I’ll do those next.”

Madeline Foss nodded and stopped in the middle of the cozy little shop, an index finger pressed against her ruby-red lips as her cool, gray gaze swept the tables and danced over the glass display cases. “The brittle is messy,” she told Blaise.

“I know. I’ll do that after the chocolate covered coffee beans.”

Les grains de café enrobés de chocolat,” Madeline corrected, her upturned nose lifting with disdain.

“The grains de whatever, yes.” Head down so her boss couldn’t see when she rolled her eyes, Blaise closed the case and moved over to the tray of pretty plastic containers filled with coffee beans coated in creamy, rich chocolate. She fought the urge to inhale their scent, knowing that Madeline, in her Queen of England persona, would consider it gauche.

Madeline’s cell rang and she tugged it from an invisible pocket in the cloud of chiffon, glaring at the screen. “I’ll be in my office, Blaise.” She turned and swept toward the back of the shop, her outfit billowing around her like a designer flag in a windstorm.

“Yes?” Her voice was tight and shrill. It was her “I don’t like you, so why are you talking to me” voice.

Blaise shook her head. She’d taken the job as an experiment, thinking she might like to get into the confectionary business. She’d learned a lot and enjoyed creating the sweet delicacies as much as watching people’s eyes light up when they came through the door and looked around. But dealing with the talented yet decidedly temperamental Madeline had been a bit more than Blaise had bargained for.

Still, she’d been surprised to discover she really liked her new boss. Once she’d realized there was a soft center under all that prickliness.

Her own cell rang a couple of moments later as the back door snicked closed, sending a cold draft of early Winter air in Blaise’s direction. Blaise frowned toward the hallway that led to Madeline’s office, the private restroom, and the exit.

Had her boss left for the day without saying anything?

Irritation flaring, Blaise answered her phone without looking to see who it was. “Hello?”

A shrill bark met her greeting. Her temper sifted away and Blaise grinned. “Hey, Miss Ivy. How’s my beautiful girl?”

Panting noises preceded a soft whine, and Blaise chuckled. “Dolfe, how many times have I told you not to whine on the phone.”

“It works for the fur-brats,” a sexy, deep voice told her.

“That’s because they’re little and cute.”

“I’m not cute?” His voice filled with pretend hurt.

“Cute is not the word I’d use for you, no.” Gorgeous. Sexy. Painfully masculine. She grinned.

His chuckle made her all warm and sizzly inside. “What time will you be done tonight? The brats and I want to go to that new drive-in restaurant for dinner.”

“The brats told you that, huh?”

“They did. I happen to speak fluent fur-brat.”

Laughing, she glanced through the front windows at the lead-gray sky beyond. “It’s cold and ugly outside, Honeybun.”

“We won’t be getting out of the car.” She could almost hear him smile. “Besides, I’ll keep you warm.”

“More like the two dogs on my lap will keep me warm. You won’t be able to reach me through all the fur and teeth.”

Dolfe sighed. “Story of my life. Time?”

“Five o’clock. I’m almost done setting up for tomorrow.”

“Perfect. We’ll see you then.”

A short, muffled scream had Blaise turning toward the back again. “What the…?” She disconnected and started toward the office. “Madeline?”

The hall was empty. The office door was locked. Madeline kept it locked whenever she left the room. Blaise’s boss wasn’t a very trusting person and the office’s proximity to the back exit, which led to an alley featuring a stinky dumpster, a few employee cars, and zero security cameras didn’t improve her trust issues.

Blaise tugged the bathroom door open and stuck her head inside. “Madeline?”

Nothing.

A cold breeze skimmed down the hall and the metal door to the alley clacked against the frame. It wasn’t latched.

It was unlike her boss to leave it open. Unless she’d been in a hurry. Or upset.

Frowning, Blaise hurried toward the door and eased it open, peering into the alley as an icy blast of wind scoured across the space, sending bits of debris skimming over the dingy asphalt and carrying the stench of the dumpster down the way to her nose.

Her boss’s car was still there, sitting alone under the security light that hadn’t come on yet.

“Madeline…?” Blaise’s voice cut off as she spotted a length of raspberry chiffon dancing on the air near the dumpster. Shivering violently, Blaise stepped into the alley. “What are you doing out here? You’re going to get frostbite.” She headed for the cloud of chiffon, rubbing her arms and looking around for any indication of why Madeline had come into the alley.

“You know, I took the trash out earlier, right?”

A pale hand lifted above the dumpster and Blaise gave a startled yelp as a rangy orange cat jumped from the rusty container and dropped lightly to the ground. The cat turned to stare at her, its startling green gaze filled with distrust. The stray’s tail whipped from side to side and Blaise took note of the dark stains around its mouth. She grimaced. “Dumpster diving, huh?”

Madeline must have been trying to capture the cat. The woman was cat crazy. She had six cats of her own, all rescued off the streets of Indianapolis. Blaise frowned as the cat ran away, her gaze drawn to the pale hand resting against the side of the dumpster. “Please tell me you didn’t fall into that dumpster trying to help the cat?”

She stepped on something that crunched under her boot. Looking down, Blaise frowned at the familiar phone, its back encased in faux purple jewels. She picked it up and grimaced at the cracked screen. “Um, Madeline…I think I broke your phone.”

Silence met her statement. “Madeline?”

Blaise hurried over, jerking to a stop as she got close enough to see inside the trash receptacle.

Blaise gave a sharp scream, her hand snapping up to cover her mouth.

“Oh, Maddie…” Tears burned her eyes and slid down her cheeks, dripping to the stained and debris-strewn asphalt beneath her boots.

Madeline didn’t respond.

She’d never respond again.

Come to Silver Hills. Where making friends can prove deadly and making enemies might be easier than you think.

Emotions are aflutter at Silver Hills as a new heartthrob moves into the residence. Will all that fluttering still a single heart? And if love dies, will Flo’s very own amour find itself in the crosshairs of the estimable Detective Brent Peters?

Agnes and Hertz are on the outs. Secrets tear the tender fabric of a pulsing heart. What do the secrets have to do with murder?

Affairs of le cœur aside, will Agnes break the clothing store shopping for a party dress? What will break during a rousing class of Zumba? And will Flo be able to soldier through her dance injuries to follow a chubby cherub to a killer?

So many questions. So much hopping, tapping and fluttering. And still a murder to solve.

What will Flo and Co. do?

They’ll do what they always do, of course. Hearts out and chins up, they’re goin’ in!

I really enjoyed Love Hertz. The characters are interesting and hilarious. Flo and Agnes get into so many crazy situations that will have you laughing. This book is so fun. The mystery has so many twists and red herrings to keep you guessing right until the end. This book is full of adventure, mystery, laughs and some romance. A great read!

The last note hit the air, leaving behind a startling silence.

Agnes didn’t stop with the music. She did one last step slide and flung her right arm up, her fist heading right for Flo’s chin.

Flo’s growl deepened. She blocked Agnes’ upward strike with a downward strike of her own forearm and, reaching out as Agnes’ eyes snapped open in surprise, flicked her friend hard between the eyes.

Agnes frowned, reaching up to rub her head. “Ow! Why’d you do that, Flo?”

“Because you’re a menace,” somebody mumbled behind Flo.

Dabbing her face with a towel, TC turned around, her pretty face filled with pleasure and glistening with sweat. Her grin slid slowly away when she saw the carnage Agnes had left in her wake.

Bodies were strewn everywhere. Women rubbing red places on their limbs, carefully pushed to their feet, favoring tender joints. Groans filled the air.

Agnes stood at the epicenter of it all. Her own brand of Level 5 hurricane.

Hurricane Agnes.

“What happened?” TC asked, all the joy of the dance seeping out of her. She hurried to help a woman whom Flo thought looked slightly familiar up off the floor.

Agnes happened,” Celia said, rubbing one of her hips.

“Hurricane Agnes,” Flo said, feeling a grin tugging at her lips.

Agnes looked around, her eyes going wide. “Did I do that?”

“O-blivious,” the woman standing next to TC said.

Then someone laughed.

Someone else joined in.

A hoot burst out of Celia’s mouth and she gave into it, doubling over with laughter and holding her sides.

Flo felt a chuckle tickling her throat and set it free, reaching to give a sweaty, panting Agnes a hug. “I have to say, hun. With you around, nothing is ever boring.”

Agnes gave her a wincing smile, glancing around as, one by one, the other dancers joined in the laughter. Then she shrugged and reached for her water bottle. “That was fun.”

The room erupted in howls and hoots.

It’s Christmas at Croakies!

When Sebille suggests I open the bookstore up to a small holiday party, I foolishly agree. How was I supposed to know that the hobgoblin would decide it would be fun to hide everybody’s stuff? Or that we’d be hit with a freak winter storm that confined everybody inside for the duration. Or that a “You’re me but who am I?” spell would be released inside the shop, switching everybody’s identities and creating general chaos and hysteria?

I could probably deal with all that if it weren’t for the fact that my friend, Lea…the one person who could possibly reverse the spell…was ensconced in SB the parrot, with no opposable thumbs for spelling.

And me? Of course, I’m sitting fat and squishy inside Mr. Slimy. Thank goodness Rustin isn’t currently in residence, or it would be really crowded in here.

Who spelled my party? What do a pair of Santa’s elves have to do with it? And why have old enemies suddenly become new friends? I apparently have a little holiday mystery to solve inside Croakies, and I have no idea how I’m going to solve it with everybody mixed up and some of us human.

Have I told you I hate this season?

Ribbit!

Thank You!

I've been busy, busy, busy working on books that feature Halloween and Christmas, both fun times of the year for me. Unlike Naida in my new Croakies series, I LOVE this time of year! Of course, I don't need to wrangle difficult magical artifacts soooo…

I wanted to take a minute to embrace the holiday that sits between. It's an important time. A time not marked by gifts or candy. A time that prepares us to embrace the sparkling, magical season of Christmas. 

Giving thanks is not only good for the soul, but it's a vital component of our positive mental health. No matter the challenges we're dealing with, no matter the pain we carry in our hearts. There's always something we can be thankful for. Embracing that positive emotion will help us deal with any challenges we face. Remembering why we're blessed is balm for the tattered soul. 

So in this season of love and giving. I'd like to give thanks for my family, for being able to do what I love most in the world every day, for you, the people who make that reality possible for me, and for the love I'm fortunate enough to receive. 

I'm truly blessed. And I'm thankful for each and every blessing. Even when day-to-day problems make me forget to recognize them.  

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

xx

Sam

4

Halloween Poetry by Sam – Bleurgh!

Wherein Sam Emotes…

Leaves the color of flame overhead, an unhealthy focus on the dead,

Pumpkins carved with expressive face, and pumpkin spice stuff every place,

Cool temps wrapped around us all, making the fire of summer the frost of fall,
 
Witches, ghosties, skeletal beasts, hold sway on lawns and frolic at feasts,

One night, one colorful history held dear, I can't wait to experience the magic this year.

xx

Happy Halloween! 

Sam

Magical chaos, old enemies, new adversaries, and danger around every corner…I HATE this time of year!

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