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.
It's LIVE today! And I can't wait for you to read it. Gram Croakies is Book 3 in my new Enchanting Inquiries paranormal cozy series and it's a TON of clean, magical fun! And the best part? It's only 99 cents for a few more days, then it will revert to its regular price of $3.99. So make sure you grab your copy now!
Holy Belligerent Bunnies!
Red-eyed bunnies, slavering deer, growling raccoons, and
angrily chattering squirrels flew toward us, a fog of hate shrouding their
usually benign gazes. A silver haze of magic filtered through them, dusting
them with dark energy and urging them forward, into battle.
Hovering above the salivating mishmash of nature’s warriors
was Maleficent’s staff, the orb at its crux pulsing with angry light. The
familiar high-pitched buzz filled the air, seeming to drive the animals crazy
I glanced at Rustin. He was staring in horror at the usually
timid and basically harmless creatures leaping from the grass and hitting the
edge of the platform, intent on doing us harm.
Above my head, bats pounded against the barrier, tiny faces
tight with animus and sharp teeth bared.
“This is horrifyingly weird,” I told the ghost witch.
He slowly dragged his gaze away from the attackers, which
were systematically flinging themselves at his barrier, creating ripples in its
surface that made panic flare in my chest. “You need to neutralize the staff,”
he told me. “Once you have it under your control, the spell the artifact put on
the animals will be extinguished.”
Oh, yeah. Just neutralize the staff. Why hadn’t I thought of
that? I didn’t want to ask, aware of how stupid it made me look since I was
basically asking Rustin how to do my job, but the words jammed themselves into
my mouth and wrenched my teeth open to jump out. “How do I do that?”
Rustin’s gaze narrowed. “You’re the KOA. You figure it out.”
Yeah, thanks for that. Maybe I didn’t feel bad the witch was
stuck in a frog.
Meanwhile, back at the bubble, we were surrounded by angry,
hate-filled forest critters, all flinging themselves against the barrier in an
effort to get to us.
Hovering above the chaos, the staff seemed perfectly content
to watch its makeshift army degrade Rustin’s magic bubble. It hadn’t moved
since arriving at the gazebo.
I flung out my hand and sent a thick ribbon of keeper magic toward
the artifact. The magic shot away from me and slammed into the staff, hard
enough to knock it backward a few feet. Unfortunately, the defiant artifact
didn’t answer the summons. Instead, its orb sent out a fresh jolt of dark
energy to increase the resistance around us.
Millions of crickets were suddenly slamming against the
bubble, creating tiny pocks in its clear surface with every attack. The bugs
were succeeding where the larger animals hadn’t. Or maybe Rustin’s energy was
degrading under the combined attack of so many magic-enraged critters.
“Use the book!” Rustin shouted as a large crack started at
the bottom of the bubble, and the first crickets made their way inside. I
jumped as the bugs flung themselves at my legs and frantically kicked out at
them, not wanting to slaughter them for something they couldn’t control, but
unwilling to have them crawling all over me either.
The crack widened. Something much more dire slipped through,
its red eyes peering at me with blatant rage.
I couldn’t help it. I screamed like a girl. The spider was
half the size of my palm, with hairy legs and a fat, striped body.
“I hate spiders!” I screamed to Rustin. As it scurried
forward, I screamed again and hit the back of the bubble, kicking at the nasty
thing as three more spiders entered the crack I’d inadvertently widened when
A chipmunk squeezed through after the spiders, its tiny
teeth bared and claws flashing.
In a fit of desperation, I threw keeper magic toward the chipmunk.
The poor thing squeaked and released its bladder, its fur
standing straight up on its tiny body.
It isn’t every day that you find yourself staring at a
frog’s squishy butt bulging from the underside of a sink drain. I would have
felt better if I’d believed it would never happen again. However, because I
appeared to be frog-cursed, there was a strong possibility I’d eventually end
up lying on my back under the sink, eyeing the posterior region of Mr. Slimy
Sighing, I gave the squishy bulk a tentative poke with my
finger, earning a forlorn, “Ribbit!” for my efforts. Something trickled
downward, hitting my cheek and dripping down to the paper towel I had draped
under my head to keep “under the sink” cooties off my hair.
I realized, too late, what had just dripped on me.
“Argh!” I shoved out from under the sink and bent over while
grabbing frantically for more paper towel to wipe frog pee off my cheek. “I
can’t believe it!”
The figure lounging against my refrigerator grinned. “You shouldn’t
poke a stressed frog, Naida.”
I glared at the source of almost all my problems.
Okay, I know I previously said that about Mr. Wicked, my
adorable kitten who was probably better at being an artifact keeper than I was.
But I’d reassessed the players and decided Rustin Quilleran, former witch and
current frog squatter, was definitely more trouble than my sweet little kitten.
I mean, Wicked was curled up on his pillow, purring happily.
Rustin was driving a fat frog bus that got itself jammed in
my drain and peed on my face.
I’ll let you do the math.
“Not funny. You need to keep a better lock on the contents
of your bladder.”
His grin widened. “I think you have a mistaken view of my
ability to control your wedged friend,” he told me. “I’m just a passenger on
that particular bus.”
Which, normally I’d be happy about. I mean, when Rustin had
gotten stuck in the frog because of a spell his horrible family had performed,
I’d felt terrible. We’d tried everything to get him out of there. But, in the
end, the evil Jacob Quilleran had interfered, making certain poor Rustin didn’t
escape the fate Jacob had locked him into.
I still hadn’t found out why Rustin’s Uncle Jacob had felt
the need to lock him in a frog.
Rustin wasn’t being very forthcoming with the information.
I hurried past him, into my bathroom, where I put soap onto
the wet paper towel and scrubbed my cheek until I was in danger of removing a
layer of skin cells along with the frog pee.
“What are you doing here, then? Standing there laughing isn’t
helping at all.”
Rustin shrugged. “I was bored. Your life is generally good
for a few laughs. I’m happy to report that this morning has been no exception.”
I barely resisted zapping him with my almost worthless
keeper magics. I pretty much had only enough oomph in my zapper to curl
someone’s hair or make them pee themselves.
Trust me when I tell you I’d had enough of making stuff pee
for the day.
Flinging the soiled paper towel into the trash, I glared at
him. “I’m so glad I could entertain.”
“Me too.” His grin never wavered.
A part of me was happy to see it. I’d been so worried that
Rustin would lose his humanity because of his enforced incarceration in the
frog. But his cousin Maude and his very powerful Aunt Madeline had been working
on reversing the spell. They hadn’t managed yet to free him. But they’d created
a metaphysical barrier between Mr. Slimy’s ─ a.k.a. the frog’s ─ consciousness
and Rustin’s so he could maintain his power, brain capacity, and
humanity…basically his soul.
That was as good a result as we could have hoped for under
Even though that meant, as Mr. Slimy’s current foster parent,
I was also the unlucky owner of the ethereally handsome and eternally snarky
witch who was stuck inside the frog.
You thought I was kidding about the challenges of my life,
The bell jangled downstairs in my bookstore, and I glanced
at my stuck amphibian.
“Ribbit.” Slimy’s sticky tongue snapped out and snagged a
massive fly that had tried to make a break for the window above the sink.
I looked at Rustin. “Keep an eye on the squishy, green bus.
I have to go see who’s downstairs.”
He nodded, casting what appeared to be an affectionate
glance toward Mr. Slimy.
I shook my head. How anybody could be fond of a frog was
Although, I realized as I bounced down the steps to the
first floor, that I’d begun to form an attachment which transcended disgust. In
fact, I almost dreaded the day Madeline managed to find a way to extract her
nephew. I was going to miss him.
Unlocking the door that separated the bookstore from the
artifact library behind me, I blinked in surprise.
Had I just had a Freudian moment? Was I going to miss the
witch? Or the frog?
I shrugged, shoving the question aside for another time. It
would probably be an easy choice.
Sometimes it's the unlikeliest pair who form a bond, as in my new paranormal cozy series, Enchanted Inquiries. In Book 1: Tea & Croakies, we're introduced to a magically gifted cat and a frog that's possessed by the spirit of a wronged witch.
Unlikely friends? Yes. But friends none-the-less. Circumstances, mutual relationships, and natural affinities all work together to create a bond that withstands treachery, mishap, and deadly challenge to strengthen a natural connection into something inexplicable but good.
Other relationships are less inexplicable…erm…more explicable? LOL I'm talking about the relationship between you and the book characters you learn to love. That's part of the magic in a well-written book. You can find new friends, immerse yourself into their lives and root for them, cry for them, laugh with them until you form such a bond you can't wait to see them again.
That's what it means when you hear readers lament, “I didn't want it to end!” Writers sometimes overlook the importance of that sentiment. We have limited time, limited resources, and stories banging together in our heads trying to escape. We can't write everything for everybody. It's just not possible. Sometimes we have to make an emotional decision to end a series. Sometimes it's a purely business one. But whatever the reason, we do ourselves a disservice not to heed the cries of people who've bonded with our characters. We need to cherish that bond. Rejoice in it. Because it means we've truly touched the hearts of our readers.
An awesome thing.
There's one relationship element you might not consider as a reader. The writer's bond with the characters. You see it in the progression of a series. The way the characters grow, become three- and four-dimensional, and the way the author treats them as they move through their days, their lives, the phases of their stories.
We bond with our characters too.
This is why first books in series don't usually rate as well as subsequent books. In the beginning, we're just getting to know our characters like you are. No matter how much thought we put into them before we write them, they don't stick to the dossier we have of them in our heads. They evolve and morph as we put them through their paces. They grow into their own people. The story changes them into what they were always meant to be.
So embrace those book friendships. They're fun and healthy and ultimately oh so satisfying. But understand that authors deal with much the same thing when we create our characters. In many ways, they're our friends, our confidants, our not-so-cheap therapy! LOL And when we share them with you, we're entrusting you with a little piece of our hearts. I mean, isn't that what friends do?
Happy sleuthing, everybody! xx
Begin the Journey – Grab a Copy of Tea & Croakies
I knew when I woke up with a migraine that things were going
to get interesting. As a magical artifact wrangler, it’s not an unusual way to
start my day. But I had no idea how bad it was going to get.
Until I found a frog sitting in my teacup.
Even that, I could explain to myself if I had to. After all,
I have a creative mind. But when the frog started talking to me, yeah, I was
pretty sure I’d taken the wrong kind of pill that morning for my headache.
only I’d realized then what I know now. The talking frog was just the beginning
of my problems. And quite a beginning it was!