All Posts by Sam Cheever

Christmas Magic Lives!

Well…It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? No one can deny that 2020 was a tough one. In many ways, for many people, it was a life-changing year. In our home, we’ve lost several beloved pets this year, and many tears have been shed. But the human faction has held strong. We’re all healthy, and where sickness threatened, we came through with flying colors. The old adage is true. What doesn’t kill you will actually make you stronger. And, though sometimes it’s hard to see the good that comes from the pain, I have always believed that things happen for a reason. 

This is a magical time of year for me. It’s a time of family and love and celebration for our many blessings. It is made no less magical for the challenges we suffered as a family. In fact, I believe the magic was in the ability to move beyond it all and embrace our traditions to affirm the healing power of love.  Thank you all for hanging with me this year. Thanks for reading my books. I’m glad you’re in my posse.  I can’t promise I won’t occasionally be like crazy Aunt Ethel with a dog in her purse and false eyelashes floating in her soup, but I’m secure in the knowledge that YOU GET ME. (You poor sap!)  

Anyway… That’s a long way to go to tell you that I count you among my many blessings. As we finish out a truly challenging year together, I wanted to say, “May your day be rich in love and joy. And may the coming year embrace you in a happy cocoon.”  

Talk to you soon! xx Sam

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City Mouse Meets Country Mouse — Murder Ensues

It’s an age-old battle–country folk vs city folk–verdant hillside vs concrete jungle–Pickup vs Prius. City folk think all country folk are simple-minded bumpkins. Country folk believe all city folk are rats living in a maze. But some things transcend culture. Some things spoil any lifestyle.

Murder is one of those things…

Hal’s younger brother has been banished to Deer Hollow because of his proclivity for getting into trouble. Hal’s parents are hoping he’ll take the kid under his wing and straighten him out. But Asher Amity has a knack for finding trouble, and it doesn’t take him long to find it in Deer Hollow. When Asher steps into a steaming pile of murder and treachery, Hal and Joey are destined to get dragged into the mess with him. Who knew how dangerous babysitting could be?

Grab a copy of Reluctant Bumpkin today!

Here’s a little taste of Reluctant Bumpkin…

The sun was high and bright and the day had turned hot. I left Caphy to run free, the leash dragging the ground in case I needed to catch her.

She and her snotty sister explored every tree we passed, teasing the squirrels that chittered angrily from the highest branches.

Unbeknownst to the chirping rodents, LaLee could actually climb the trees if she wanted to. She’d nearly caught one of the squirrels who’d been taunting the pitty from the distant heights of a particularly impressive walnut tree.

Even worse, the cat ignored my shrieking for her to leave the hapless creature alone as only a cat could. After a suitable period of time had passed to prove she was doing it on her own terms, LaLee finally descended the tree, sailing gracefully from branch to branch until she landed lightly in the dirt.

Felines. You couldn’t live with them, and you couldn’t return them for a refund.

I settled into the walk, blissfully inhaling the sweet, hot air and enjoying the pleasant trills and flutterings of a multitude of birds.

The trees provided enough shade to make the heat bearable, but adequate sun to keep the Grimm’s fairytale feeling at bay.

We followed familiar paths that wound up familiar hills and into familiar ravines. After an hour of exploring, the distant sound of the river told me we’d probably better turn back, or I was going to lose one of my frisky companions to the enticement of a cool swim.

The currents in that part of the river were treacherous, and I’d always made it a point to keep Caphy away from it. She got into enough trouble in the pond in front of my house.

As if I’d conjured her from my thoughts, Caphy started barking from somewhere over the next hill. LaLee had been sharpening her claws on the rough bark of a walnut tree, but her head came up and the lazy waving of her long tail took on a more energetic tone.

The first tendrils of unease tightened my chest.

“Caphy girl, come!”

Caphy continued to bark, the sound growing increasingly strident.

I hurried toward the hill. “Caphy! Come!”

The pitty usually listened to my “mean voice”. Unless there was something more interesting to keep her attention.

LaLee sprinted along beside me as I started to run. The hill was one of the larger ones in the woods. When I’d topped the incline, I found myself standing on the edge of a ravine, the sides steep and treacherous. I all but slid down the first side and then had to scramble and grasp at roots and saplings to make it up the opposite slope.

My voice was breathless when I called Caphy again. “Caphy, girl. Come!”

Somewhere around the middle of the upward slope, the pibl had gone quiet. Already at the top of the hill, LaLee yowled unhappily and hissed.

Icy fear made me quicken my steps. What if Caphy had run into a coyote? The thought was terrifying. I’d heard too many stories of pets being lured away by seemingly playful coyotes, only to be attacked in numbers once they’d gotten them alone.

“Caphy!” My voice took on a strident shriek as panic took me completely over.

LaLee suddenly shot away on an angry yowl, and I nearly choked to death trying to find the air to scream as I scrabbled for purchase on the slippery ravine wall. “LaLee, no! Caphy!”

I shoved myself the last couple of feet, my heart pounding like a piledriver and my hands bloodied from the fight to climb.

My frantic gaze slipped over the woods that was laid out in front of me. I spotted a low form shooting through the trees, agile and fast.

I cried out, an unformed sound built of pure fear. Had that been a coyote? No…please no.

I started to run, my eyes on the fast-moving form gliding too quickly away from me.

LaLee disappeared into the obscuring branches of a huge evergreen ahead of me. I stepped up my speed, catching my foot in a root and slamming to the ground with a surprised cry.

Ignoring the pain in my knees and palms, I shoved back to my feet and started forward.

Something moved to my right and, before I could see what it was, pain exploded on the side of my head. And the ground roared up to smack me.

Turtle Croakies – Fun Among the Dinosaurs

A frog, a cat, and a hobgoblin walk into a bar…in the Jurassic period. Nope…not kidding. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really a bar. But it was definitely the local drinking establishment. For dinosaurs…

What could be more fun than riding a time-traveling tortoise into the past? That’s easy, riding said tortoise into the Jurassic era to dance (or run for your life) among the dinosaurs. Well…fun might not be the best word…terrifying maybe?

Anyway, imagine the age of the dinosaur with a vegetarian T-Rex, an accident-prone heroine with no deodorant, a magical cat, a talking frog, and an irreverent, irrepressible hobgoblin with a flare for finding trouble, and you have…well…you have Turtle Croakies. Book 10 in my fun and fast-paced paranormal cozy mystery series. Enjoy the ride!

Also…you have a little pterodactyl poop…right…there…

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets eaten.

From Turtle Croakies…

Sebille and I shared a long, shocked look.

Holy turtle toes! The car-sized dinosaur was a lumbering, lettuce-eating time machine!

Sebille bent closer to Tildy, peering carefully into the tortoise’s calm, dark eyes. “So how do you work her? Is there a remote control or something?”

Alice harumphed. “Don’t be daft. She’s not a blooming telly. She’s a living creature, i’nt she?”

I watched the two cats on the windowsill. They were both sitting upright, staring with fascination as a street sweeper crawled slowly past beyond the glass. Fenwald’s long tail was scruffier than Mr. Wicked’s, the fur patchy and rough. But it swung in time and rhythm that matched my beautiful boy’s sleek gray one. They were two peas in a pod. It made me smile.

“Aren’t they adorable, then?” Alice said.

I skimmed her a grin. “They haven’t forgotten each other.”

“Course not. It’s only been a few months since I left after all.”

Or three years. But who was I to quibble over thirty-three months? “Seems like just yesterday,” I said, my lips twitching.

“Saucy thing,” Alice said, bumping my shoulder with hers. But I heard the smile in her voice.

I turned my gaze to the elephant-sized problem in the room. “So…what do you need from me?”

Alice opened her mouth to respond but never got the chance.

The front door opened with a jangle of the bell. I frowned. I could have sworn I’d locked it behind Rustin and Lea. My pulse spiked. I couldn’t have customers walking in to find a giant magical tortoise sitting in the middle of the store.

My panic quickly turned to shock when I saw who it was. “Oh!” I said, because…witty. “What are you doing here, Mr. Pudsnecker?” My mind slid to the envelope I’d hidden beneath a pile of books on Shakespeare’s desk, and guilt ate a path through me. What if he was there to demand my reaction? I’d have to admit I’d been too afraid to read past the first few sentences.

I was a coward.

But Archibald Pudsnecker didn’t seem to have come for me. He was busy glaring at Alice.

I barely had time to feel relief.

“Oy, Pudsy. How’s things?” Alice asked with a smile.

Pudsy? I frowned, a fragment of a memory slicing its way from my subconscious and splatting on the floor as it unfolded fully in my mind.

Oy!

Pudsy!

2

Magis…More

Releasing 9/15/20 — On Preorder Now!

I’m Glynn Forester and I’m Magis. More. I enhance and strengthen magical energy. My power augments rather than creates. But sometimes More is not enough.

My world is fractured between magic and non-magic. The magical elite rule. And they are ruthless and corrupt. They want what I protect. But protecting it has been my family’s job for time before time. So I hide. I hide from those who would attempt to use my abilities for unscrupulous purposes. I hide to save innocents from their venom.

But something’s changing. The world around me is pulsing with malevolent magic, I realize I no longer have the luxury of anonymity. It’s hard to give up my old ways. But I may not have a choice. Others will need my help. And if I deny them I’ll be no better than those who threaten my world.

Will my magic make a difference in this new reality? I can offer Magis. More. But will it be enough? And will there be anything left of me when it’s done?

“Buy this book! Open up the pages and step inside the world of magic and monsters, even monsters who look like you and me. This is one adventure you don’t want to miss!!!!”

A light fog had settled into the zone. A cool mist that fell over my clothes and turned my chin-length brown bob stringy and limp. The miasma encapsulated the gently awful smell that always pervaded the street, invigorating it, turning it into something almost alive.

I grimaced as I shifted against the still-warm scratchiness of the roof. My boot stuck for a beat, clinging to the tar where a piece of the shingle had broken away.

Behind me, the soft glow of a lamp bathed the sharp slope of roof. Like a siren’s melodious notes sifting through the fog of a storm-tossed sea, the light called to me.

I sighed, shifting again.

My stomach growled. I winced at the sound, despite the fact that it fell into the fog and was lost. Nobody heard it but me. It was a stark reminder that it had been a long night, and I was ready for it to be over.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Not until I found him.

Not until I confronted him.

A soft scuff had me straightening from my crouch, the sharp, wavy blade of my knife held at my side in a firm grip. The grip of the weapon was warm, as if I’d been holding it for a while. But it had been safe in its sheath against my thigh.

The shadows behind the mist swirled and gained density. I tensed, staring into the moving fog. “Who is it?”

My voice was soft enough to barely nudge the mist aside. But the creature that moved in an uneven shuffle in my direction heard me. He heard me just fine.

Perfectly round eyes glowed briefly in the light from my window. A small face, gray and leathery, grimaced as he took in my stance ─ the charcoal heft of my knife. “Sorry, Glynnie,” the little gargoyle said. “I didn’t try to sneak.” Boyle ducked his head, his pointed ears shifting with guilt. A soft scraping sound preceded the sliding of his long tail across the roof, and his claws scritched softly as he sat.

“It’s okay,” I told the baby. I gave him a smile because he had a tender psyche and was generally unsure of himself. That was what happened when you were dumped with a stranger as an infant. “I should have been paying attention.”

He shifted again, the scritch, scritch, scritch of his strong black claws a soft song in the night. “Is da man there?” he asked in a whisper so loud it couldn’t help carrying across the street.

I hid a grin. “No.” I turned back to the street below, watching the moonlit surface of the rough asphalt for signs of the creature who’d invaded my life and yanked what peace I’d managed to scrounge brutally away. “Not tonight.”

My stomach growled again. A soft huff of amusement spilled between Boyle and me. I grinned, spreading my palm over my belly. “I’m hungry,” I told him. “How about you?”

His round eyes, so dark in the night but a bright turquoise blue in the sun, sparkled with excitement. “Yeth!”

I grinned at the soft lisp. He’d almost grown out of the tendency with the arrival of his adult teeth. But every once in a while, one would slip through again. I loved the sound. It reminded me of the first years of his life. “Come on, then,” I told him, moving toward the window. “I made stew.”

The baby ’goyle gave a gentle huff of pleasure. He jumped through the window when I opened it, landing with a soft thump and then waddling across the room and flinging himself onto my bed.

Boyle loved my bed. He rolled happily, pulling the covers over his small body with another huff of pleasure.

I climbed inside and turned, my gaze sliding across the street below for just one more minute. My heart pounded hard with expectation or worry. I was never sure which anymore.

He was out there. I knew he was. I just had to keep watch. Eventually, I’d catch him in the act of invading both my mental and defensive space.

It was only a matter of time. And then I’d ask him why he was there. Because his presence felt wrong. It felt dangerous. Like an omen of bad things to come.

Grab a copy of Magis:

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.

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