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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I LOVE this time of year! Even if you don’t believe in magic, it’s hard to deny that the next three months of the year are filled to the brim with the magic of expectation, anticipation and cherished memory.
In my family, we’ve already kicked off this magical time of year with a visit to Boo Zoo at the Indianapolis zoo, wherein my 2 tiny grandsons were fine examples of a Star Wars pilot and Blippi. Those of you who know who Blippi is probably have toddlers in your lives. And let me tell you, he was the cutest Blippi EVER! #:0)
Yesterday, the kids went on the Pumpkin Express train out of Noblesville, Indiana. It was their first time on a real train and I’ve never seen such smiles.
That’s real, honest to goodness magic right there.
So, as we move into this busiest time of year together, here’s my advice to you. Embrace the magic around you. Yes, it does exist. It takes a different form for everyone. But wherever you find your magic, hold it close. Become the child with hope and expectation sparkling in your eyes. Make it your own and reap the endless benefits that result.