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You know you’re an obsessive, delusional, creatively insane writer/artist when…

…you just can’t seem to STOP working on your dreams for one dang second and reLAX!
No, really, I think it’s called ROCBSRUU (Restless Obsessive Creative Brain Soaked in Rainbow Unicorn Urine).
I just worked a full day at my day job (community supported agriculture/organic farm), I’m pooped (no unicorn involved), and what do I do when I get home?
Do I go relax in my little box?
Nope!
Do I take a nice, relaxing bath and let my cares wash away?
Nope!
Do I stretch my mind and hamstrings into blissful oblivion with everything?
Pussy says no.
What DO I do when I get home after I’m already running off of four hours of sleep (not a morning person am I. The force is weak before noon) and I’ve been on my feet all day?
The same damn thing I’ve been doing pretty much non-stop every day all week, all month, all year: striving to achieve my unicorn urine soaked dreams of writing and other artistic endeavors! Like a lunatic…
At first, I sit down in front of my computer with a glass of wine, some hacked off cheese hunks and mutilated apple slices, commanding myself to watch Firefly on Netflix and relax – thoughts of writing, cover design, marketing, research, networking, editing, emailing, twittering, diddling, etc. are to stay buried under the rock, under the concrete pour, that’s under the electrified fortress guarded by velociraptors where my mind is NOT allowed to go tonight – annnnnnnnd ten minutes into Firefly I pause it and start doing this….
DAMMIT!
Down brain! Down! Focus. I mean, don’t focus. Relax. Just listen to Mal.
Actually, don’t listen to Mal.
I take a sip of wine, watch another five minnnnnannnnnnd open photoshop! Cause I have so many book covers to finish for my publisher! And that one cover just needs a little more tweaking, maybe a little swash and a swoosh, and then I’ll….
Sigh.
I say again.
To my brain.
And my brain says…
So I say, “fine!”
You know what we’re gonna do then?
We’re going to write a blog about not relaxing and being obsessed with doing everything that’s even remotely related to our dreams and goals like writing a blog about how we’re obsessed with our dreams and goals!
And my brain be like…
Whoa.
And thus, my ventral striatum, amygdala, and I can relax, post this in the morning, and now go read harry potter or something…..completely unrelated to dissecting sentence structure, plot arc, and character development…
What do you find yourself passionately obsessing about, and how do you relax?

If you too suffer from ROCBSRUU then read this article:

The Motivated Mind: Where Our Passion & Creativity Comes From

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A Juggler and a Writer Sitting in a Tree

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L-E-A-P-I-N-G into their goals and dreams! Oh yeah, and
kissing too, for you traditionalists out there ;)

This is a story of juggling love, dreams, and fears.

Once upon a luau, two summers ago, I was on my fourth mai tai…
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…and stumbled across a handsome juggler.

*Swoon*

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*super duper swoon*

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We talked, we cuddled, and fell redonkulously in love.
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When I had first moved back to my small home town after college, I’d been convinced that I would watch Hugh Jackman films and eat cheddar bunnies with my twelve cats until the end of my days.
But this was a self-defeating thought, and I had literally decided only a month before I met my handsome juggler that I would no longer think that way. And the universe was like:
BAM!
You got this.
I realized that if I could let go of my fear of loneliness, of love even (because with loving comes the fear of losing), then what other fears or doubts could we both face and overcome together?
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Why….doing the one thing that would give our parents strokes……juggling and writing! :D

Just get a real job so we don’t have to support your college educated ass—

Financial security is always a good thing, naturally, we concur. What we (and probably many of our generation) don’t concur on is sacrificing our talents, our passions, and happiness in the pursuit of just a paycheck. It’s been either a blessing or a curse that our generation (the 18ish to 30ish year olds right now) got derailed by that little recession thing in 2009.
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That’s when I was laid off from my awesome Science Outdoor School gig in L.A. (because they lost all funding) and, while endlessly job-hunting, began doing what I used to do when I was ten: sitting in my room creating art and writing….and watching Land Before Time…and I thought to myself…
I could do THIS for the rest of my life! So I wrote feverishly, maniacally, obsessively on my first novel, and now, many jobs, numerous coffee cups, and glasses of wine later I have written four books, won a big writing competition, got published, started creating book covers for my publisher, cartoons for a popular cat blog (cats at the bar), and am currently working on three more novels!
I faced my fears of possibly living under a bridge at sixty, of rejection, eye-brow raising, self and other’s doubts, and stood up for what I believed in: myself!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s has been and will be a very long uphill struggle to ultimately achieve my authorly & artistic goals…
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But when it comes to being an artist, in my mind, this is my only other choice…
SO,I will keep doing this
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Because it makes me feel like…
…A WARRIOR PRINCESS RIDING A HAMBURGER POOPING UNICORN.
And my handsome juggler will keep doing this…
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–To view his talents in action click here

Because it is our goal, our dream, our reason to get up in the morning with purpose and passion! Chasing dream careers, especially unconventional or very difficult ones, can feel and look a bit like this…
Which is why we are both moving to the big city (a.k.a. San Francisco area) very soon to help solidify our goals. If one wants to be an entrepreneurial artist/homeless person then one must go where opportunity lies. Two little country bumpkins facing the world together with juggling clubs, pens, and determination.
Here we go!

I will chronicle our journey as it unfolds, so if you’ don’t feel like washing all the dishes and have nothing else to do, check back periodically for more life adventures with a juggler and a writer! :)

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An Seilg – Chapter One

Seilg2 This is chapter one of An Seilg (“on shel-leg.” Gaelic for “The Hunted”): An adventure, love story set in ancient lands akin to Celtic Ireland, full of lost love, pursued hopes, battles, magic, deceit, and survival.  This is a work in progress, unedited, and straight from my mind to the page. Hence, I cannot even write a synopsis because I myself don’t yet know the entire story. When I write, the characters tell me what is and what will be, not the other way round. So if you desire, plunge into the world of An Seilg and let us see where we’ll be taken… one Pounding hooves crushed skulls into flying fragments while an enraged heart rammed against the bars of a mortal body. Torin was about to die, to join the bones of an ancient battle ground. His skull would rest among the dead unless he could lead the Northmen warriors into the cavernous labyrinths of the Cairns of Saol. “Saol,” he growled. The tombs of life. By calling upon the wretched spirits of murderers and those condemned of evil, he would live. His damned pursuers, however, would look into the divine and unforgiving eyes of the Beisht Kione. A heavy scent of mold, of earthen decay, and growth made his lips curl into a calculating grin. The sky was not dark enough to match the black blood coursing through his heart, but today he would paint the clouds red with sweeping arcs of his axe. His beloved Keyne would hear his savage cries across the seas, and know that under a mantle drenched in death, he would find her again. “My sweet Keyne,” he said to his own ears. With nothing but his touch and his voice, he slowed his steed to traverse the rocky terrain. He looked behind at the five horses and their masters galloping across the moor. “I give you five more worthless lives, and to the crows I give rotting hides.” With a, “Hah,” he urged his horse down the treacherous cliffs, down to the lashing waves and Cairns of Saol. The ocean was a heaving, thrashing mistress this frigid day, scorned by the sun, and Torin was grateful for their discord. It would be easy to sacrifice the men in her suffocating breast. Shale cracked and shattered loose, tumbling hundreds of feet into the waves, as he carefully led his horse down a path that spelled ruin with every step. He inhaled the salty musk of a watery grave awaiting the men now scrambling down the cliff behind him, excited to see their prey so near. A gull screamed, the waves crashed, hooves clattered and scraped, his heart thrummed in anticipation, but he heard only the voice in his head whispering, “For you, Keyne, I give five more worthless lives.” All this death, these years of relentless pursuit, for a woman that had been taken from him two long years ago. All this because he loved her like the lus mór that clung to sea cliffs as he was now. The dainty blooms of what the non-natives called, Foxglove, were just like his Keyne, beautiful but deadly. First the Legionarii, and now the Northmen, had invaded his ancestral lands and tried to throw her children in chains. But her children fought back. They would not bend knee, nor bow head, nor lay sword at the feet of any would-be lord who mounted Highland soil without tilling her rich lands, or watching their children’s children be born into her sacred arms. This was the land of the Druids, the Celts, the Picts, and now it was the land of the hunted, but the hunted held power unknown to these foreigners. Torin leapt from his horse’s sweaty back onto the narrow trail as he came to the cave’s maw. The small, ragged beach was still sixty feet below, but a fine mist of spray turned the path slick and dangerous. If the animal didn’t slow the Northmen, the slippery stones certainly would. Torin, however, was a son of the wild, kin to wolf and stag, and the sea spoke to him, guiding his steps. He adjusted the axe strapped to his chest with leather cords, and felt his body tingle with a thousand thorns. If the gods favored him this day, his magic would be strong enough, and the invaders would meet their worst nightmare inside the Cairns of Saol. Torin prayed that he would have the power to call this one favor upon the sea. If not, then he prayed that Keyne would guide more than just his heart. Shouting and the piercing cries of horses and men meeting an icy, suffocating death, told him that even fewer now followed in his tracks. His laugh echoed while he nimbly danced down the path like the watery reflections undulating around the expansive cave carved from the relentless, caressing touch of the surf. There was only the tiniest of outcropping from the rough walls that led into the cairn’s belly while sloshing blue-green water gurgled below, belying its fathomless depths. One wrong step and the dripping stone teeth would chew the unfortunate into rags of flesh, another sacrifice to quench the cairn’s thirst. When he reached his destination, a hidden alcove near the back of the main cave, and a man’s height above the path, he climbed into its sanctuary. While faint rattles of loosened rock, and even fainter voices of agitated men met his trained ears, he began muttering an ancient language only the god’s understood. He had moments before his enemies reached the back of the cave where the path split in two, moments before they possibly discovered his childhood haven. Torin’s tongue twisted faster and faster around the powerful words, commanding yet humble. The Beisht Kione was a creature born in the abyss of oceans and cavities of heartless men. It was incredibly dangerous to call upon such darkness, but he’d done it before, and he would do it now. A clatter and plop of stone in water silenced his words, and his hands loosened the straps then tightened on the axe handle. The four men could not see him yet, but he could make out their silhouetted forms only strides from his shelter. If the Beisht Kione did not honor his plea, he would at least cleave two, even three, skulls before the last man faced him. Torin had no desire to join the gods before he was able to hold Keyne’s elderly face in his own long lived and loving palms, but then again, perhaps he would be dining in Elysium tonight. The man in front raised his sword, halting the others, and Torin clenched his jaw. Waves lapped against serrated stone, eerily lit from the faint reflected light outside. With a gesture, the leader, then the others, slipped behind an outcropping, and Torin inhaled slowly, calmly. They knew he was here. Every fiber of his body grew still and cold as the slimy walls enclosing him. As soon as the Northman was within range, he would lunge, flashing iron and brawn.  For a moment his mind, clear and sharp with the possibility of death, jumped to his first memory of this place. Nine winters old, and he had already killed. He was a murderer, and the Beisht Kione had rumbled from the bottomless pit beneath the crimson smeared waves. The beast had heard his cries that terrible day in the emerald dappled cairn because Torin was more than just a murderer; in his veins ran powerful druidic magic. With slick palms stained with regret and mortal fear, young Torin learned his mother’s secret, and ran from it ever since, until now. The axe was an extension of muscle, his muscle an extension of the rage within his heart, and his heart an extension of his love for Keyne. A tiny noise whipped his awareness back to the present. One of the men was almost directly below him. Nostrils flaring in preparation, Torin took a silent, deep breath, and tensed to attack, then a wave splashed up, wetting the Northmens’ boots. They didn’t notice the wave’s warning, but Torin’s heart stuttered as his breath caught. Another wave, larger this time, soaked the men’s legs. As one, they leapt away from the edge, pressing their backs to the wall. Their prey, watching just above their heads, grinned. The cave’s teeth far above all their heads trembled as a low, thunderous moan emanated from the cairn’s throat. Waves were now thrashing higher up the cave walls, and the Northmen began to shout and turn to escape, but that was a futile effort. The Beisht Kione had come.

End of Chapter One

 Thanks for reading! Check back periodically for more! :)

Or if you need something else to read while I write you can check out my other books on Amazon.com

The 11 Ingredients of a Sizzling Book Description

Elayne Griffith:

Great article for you other writers out there :)

Originally posted on Catherine, Caffeinated:

Good morning from France! I have finally made it here and not only that, but I also managed to fit 25 books—including several hardbacks—between my checked and carry-on luggage and didn’t get charged a cent in excess weight for them. (The Aer Lingus luggage limit is 20kg per passenger excluding carry-on. My bag was 19.9kg and evidently nobody noticed that I was struggling to pick my carry-on up off the ground.)

Such is traveling when you’re still holding out on buying a Kindle and the selection and cost of English books out here is ridiculous.

But anyway. I have sunshine, reading material, a Nespresso machine and time to write—I mean, really? What more could a girl want?

Mark Edward’s Kindle sales would be nice. Setting up camp on the #1 spot on Amazon.co.uk bagged Mark and his writing partner Louise Voss what was reportedly a six-figure publishing deal, and their…

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Sapphire: The Shielded Realms – Elayne Griffith

Elayne Griffith:

Yay! A wonderful review for Sapphire! :D

Originally posted on Textual Love:

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I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are 100% my own.

Blurb

“There was a flash of light, the ground quaked, and suddenly a large silhouetted shape lifted itself from swirling white flames.”

Shawna’s ordinary life is forever changed when monstrous creatures come scratching at her door, and a black unicorn mysteriously comes to her aid. She then finds herself at the mercy of a sassy old witch, a quirky fairy who’s allergic to her own fairy dust, and a world of magic and nightmares. A world, she discovers, that is not only her own, but is unraveling from an ancient curse. The truth of its origins, and of the shattered sapphires, will take Shawna and her companions on a fantastical adventure through the hidden secrets of the shielded realms.

~ When there is darkness in our lives, and the path…

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World Wildlife Fund Benefit Books for Children!

Been working again on my series of children’s books about animal/environmental awareness and here’s a sneak peak at some of them :D I want them to be benefit books where a portion of profits goes to WWF or similar charities.

(Unedited rough drafts)

Two Tigers at My Door

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Two tigers came a clawing and a pawing at my door.

“You are a lovely host, sir, may we use your toaster?”

And all I could say was, “Kindly come this way.”

For how can you be rude when the guests look at you like food?

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Two giraffes came a peering and a leering in my window.

“We’re sorry to disturb, this is Sally and I’m Herb. We couldn’t help but wonder if we could use your blunder?”

And all I could say was, “Kindly come this way.”

With a neck so tall and slender, he didn’t know it’s called a blender.

What Baby Panda Found

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Baby panda found a leaf, and what did he find underneath?

A caterpillar crawling! Wow! So Neat!

To baby panda this was new! “Who are you, and what do you do?”

“I eat leaves and I sing and sleep. I grow wings and to the sky I leap!”

“You grow wings, how is this so?”

“Go to the stump if you want to know.”

Baby Panda found a stump, what did he find when he tried to jump?

An ant on a branch of the bumpy stump!

To baby panda this was new! “Who are you, and what do you do?”

“I’m in need of seeds in the winter freeze.”

“What are seeds and where do they go?”

“Go to the pond if you want to know.”

Baby Panda found a pond, and what did he find beyond the fronds?

A fancy fish in the swishing fronds!

To baby panda this was new! “Who are you, and what do you do?”

“I am a Koi fish–splish and splash–and when I hum, the rains will come.”

“What are rains and where are they from?”

“You will see at the cherry plum tree.”

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Pumpkin in a Box

BOXDEAR MOM

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1ST THING

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SCARY

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2ND THING

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Dreamweaver Chapter One

Just thought I’d share my newest writing endeavor with you: Dreamweaver. It’s my first middle grade book (usually ages 8 to 12), and it’s been the most fun at writing I’ve ever had! :D Apparently I’m still a kid at heart ;) It’s the very first rough draft, so excuse any errors, it has yet to be edited. So without further ado:

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Snow flurries danced outside the window as Gwen held her warm cup of coco. She was waiting to see it, the flash of color deep in the forest, but it was storming outside. Inside it was warm and cozy by the crackling fire while outside was a whirlwind of snowflakes. It looked like it was going to be a perfect Christmas, if only mom could be with them, but she tried not to think about that. Instead, she looked out at white drifts under the moon, at the dark outlines of pine trees further away, and for that mysterious glow. Her nose pressed against the cold glass, fogging it up from her breath, but she didn’t want to look away. If she blinked, she might miss it. This was the third night in a row that the light had appeared. Her eyes began to water from the effort to not blink. Then, just as she thought she couldn’t possibly stare another second, a streak of purple and blue flashed between the black trunks and snowflakes.

“Dad!” she squealed, nearly sloshing her hot chocolate everywhere.

She kicked the blankets away from her fuzzy socked feet, became tangled in them instead, and fell face first out of the bay window in a mess of blankets and pillows. Barfy, their cocker spaniel, started barking like the little tattle-tail he was.

“Barf,” she growled back at him. “Shh! Quiet.”

He wagged his stubby tail and bounced around barking like a lunatic as she tried to stand up. Then she noticed the large, brown chocolate stain on the white rug.

“Oops,” she said, just as dad walked into the living room.

“Dad!”

She grabbed his arm before he could say anything, or notice the stain.

“I saw it! I saw the glowing light again!”

“You saw what?” he said as she pulled him over to the large window.

“That light, dad. The one I told you about.” She pointed outside, and he looked at her with a grin. “Not at me. Look outside!”

He turned his gaze to peer out the frosty panes of dark glass. “I don’t see anything,” he said a second later.

Gwen rolled her eyes. Her father annoyed her on purpose. It was his life’s goal. He smiled and raised his eyebrows.

“Rick Johnson, you have to look longer.” She always used her father’s name like that when he either was not listening, which was most of the time, or when he was annoying her, which was also most of the time.

“Guinevere Johnson,” he replied in exactly the same exasperated tone. “I think it’s time you went to bed.”

She was about to use her best argument for why bed was not an option right now, when she saw his gaze take in the scene behind her. As a frown spread across his face, she sheepishly grinned and slowly turned around. The brown coco stain was no longer the least of their worries.

Barfy was valiantly defending them from an army of now de-feathered pillows. Growling ferociously, he shook the last pillow until a flurry of feathers matched the snow flurries outside. Satisfied, he dropped the evil pillow and laid down, happily panting, in a pile of shredded cloth and floating fluff. Gwen slowly turned back to her father who was staring, speechless, at the chaos.

“Well,” she said, cheerily patting his arm. “Guess it’s off to bed, like you said. G’night.”

Before Rick could figure out who was actually in trouble, her or the dog, Gwen skipped out of the living room, down the hall, and into her bedroom.

“Whew,” she said, closing her door.

Not even turning on her light, she strode across the messy clothes-strewn floor, jumped on her big quilt, and looked out the window. If only they had the internet out here so that she could contact her friends, or look up what glowing lights in the woods meant, but no. This was her parent’s vacation cabin in Colorado. A Christmas tradition. To an eleven-year-old girl, however, it was more like frontier times where things like computers and microwaves hadn’t been invented yet. So, basically, boredom-ville. Not tonight, though. Internet or no internet, she was certain now. Something was out there. Her dad didn’t believe her, but that didn’t matter. This time she had almost seen what it was.

It was a long time before sleep finally started to win out over staring into the night. The storm had grown worse and snowflakes draped around the windowpanes. Her forehead and cheek squeaked down the foggy glass, waking her up with a snort.

“Whoa,” she mumbled to herself, wiping drool off her numb cheek.

Just as her eyelids were beginning to droop once more they snapped open, and Gwen pressed her face against the icy glass. She could hardly believe what she was seeing. Near the crest of the hill, a creature surrounded by glowing specks of purple and blue light pushed its way through the deep snow down towards the cabin. She blinked but the creature did not disappear. Was she dreaming? As it struggled through the drifts up to its chest, she saw that it was cat-like. A mountain lion? They were rare in these parts, but no mountain lion would be glittering like the snow and glowing with colorful sparks of light. Just as the creature was almost close enough to see in the complete darkness, it veered off to the right and vanished around the other side of the house.

She scrambled off her bed and bounded across the dark room.

“Ow,” she grumbled as she stepped on something pointy lying on the floor.

Carefully, quietly, she opened her door and tiptoed on fuzzy socks down the chilly wooden hall. It wasn’t her dad she was worried about waking, it was Barfy. He was a furry alarm, but only when she was trying to do something she wasn’t supposed to do, not when strangers or axe-murderers came up to the house. Peering into the living room, she didn’t see the slobber-machine, so she made her way over to the kitchen. The fire was just embers, making it difficult to see, but after walking into a chair, stubbing her toe, and tripping over Barf’s chew toy, she was finally standing in front of the door beside the fridge.

Cupping her hands around her face, she stared wide-eyed at the impossible scene under the moonlight. Only a few paces from the door, glittering like the crystal snow and stars above, its eyes and white fur faintly glowing violet, sat a very large snow leopard. Gwen’s mouth fell open. Not just because snow leopards were supposed to live in Asia, or because it was magically glowing purple, but because it was also holding something in its mouth. For some reason, maybe because it must be a dream, or because the snow leopard was just so beautiful, Gwen wasn’t afraid of it. She watched it through the four panes of glass as it dropped the object, and looked up. Gwen gasped but didn’t look away from those intense turquoise eyes. Then the big spotted cat turned and leapt away back into the deep mounds of snow. Its glow faded into the forest, and Gwen stood there silently gaping. Her hand felt for the knob, and she slowly opened the door to a frozen night. Sitting on a dusting of snow was a little violet pouch with a golden drawstring. She bent down and retrieved it, then stared into the gathering gloom while clouds began to cover the moon once more.

Something pulled at her. She really wanted to rush out into the night and follow the mysterious leopard. Just as she thought about getting her boots and coat, a blast of cold air hit her in the face, and she quickly shut the door. Maybe right now wasn’t the best idea. Without further hesitation, she raced into the living room, threw a log on the dying fire, and dropped down in front of the hearth. Her fingers trembled as she loosened the drawstring on the silky pouch.

“Wow,” she whispered.

A shimmering flower and a little black scroll fell into her hand. The flower was as large as her palm, its sparkling white center fading into light blue, dark blue, then violet at the petal’s tips. It felt heavy but delicate at the same time. Setting it aside, she picked up the black scroll, and saw that its edges rolled neatly into the center. As she was about to unroll them, they suddenly unfurled and Gwen squealed. A large black butterfly sat in her palm, gently beating its velvety wings. Her heart hammering, she watched it for a long time before she realized there was tiny gold lettering on its wings.

In the firelight, the words seemed to dance before her eyes. She read:

Eat the sugar-bloom after nightfall and we will return.

Sugar-bloom? We? Gwen’s face crinkled up in bewilderment. Who were we, and did she really want to find out? While looking down at the frosted flower that did indeed look spun of pure sugar, she didn’t feel the butterfly flutter away from her hand. It was half way across the living room before she noticed it slowly heading down the hall towards her father’s bedroom.

“Come back,” she hissed, jumping up to try and catch it.

All she could see were glints of gold as she chased it down the pitch-black hall. Just as it was about to fly through the doorway into Rick’s room, she caught it between her hands. Yet, when she opened them, it evaporated into black mist.

She squeaked and clapped a hand over her mouth, horrified that she had murdered the poor butterfly. Biting her lip, she shuffled back to the dimly lit living room, and picked up the fragile sugar-bloom. Before she smashed that too, she carefully put it back into the small pouch that she then put on top of the mantle place. The log was burning brightly, and she sat down on the thick carpet in front of its warmth with a big sigh. What a strange and magical night it had been. Thinking of the ethereal snow leopard, and wondering what the golden words meant, she eventually drifted off to sleep by the fire while snowflakes drifted by the window.

She awoke to a face washing from Barfy’s wet tongue.

“Ew,” she groaned, pushing the wriggling fur-ball away. “Gross, Barf.”

He barked and jumped in a circle.

“Yeah, good morning to you too.” She yawned and rubbed her eyes. Groggily, she pushed herself up, and looked out the window to see a golden pink sunrise sparkling off a pristine winter wonderland. “Barf,” she whined, rubbing her eyes again. “It’s super early, you deranged mutt.” Then, with a jolt, she remembered last night. Had it been a dream?

Wide-awake, she jumped to her feet, exciting Barfy into hysterics. His barks became yapping squeaks as he dashed from the living room, down the hall, back up the hall, through the living room, into the kitchen, slid into the door, flopped over like a one-legged fish, and barreled into the living room again. He did this about two more times before dad yelled at him from the bedroom. Completely ignoring her crazy dog and infuriated father, Gwen stared, amazed, at the mantle above the fireplace. It was still there, the purple pouch with the sugar-bloom.