Author Archive

(advent) Thursday, December 6

When are they getting here? Schrodinger demanded, looking out the kitchen window again.

“They just got out of school ten minutes ago,” Molly said, chuckling a little at his impatience. “Kiaya said they’d be here by 4 pm. You can wait a bit longer.”

But I want to know what we’re doing with the calendar! He looked over his shoulder at her. I can’t believe you didn’t call out to me before you went into it!

Molly had told him and Drew what had happened to her the day before, and he’d been chagrined to realize that he’d napped through the whole thing.

“I didn’t have time,” she said. “It just sort of happened.”

Who do you think Basilissa is?

“I don’t know, but they’re powerful.”

Don’t you mean she?

“No,” Molly said, after a long moment’s thought. “I don’t think they have a gender. It doesn’t really seem to matter to them.”

Could it have been an Eidolon?

Molly had been wondering the same thing. “I don’t know,” she said honestly. “Maybe? I’ve never really met one before that wasn’t in someone else, after all.”

The more she considered it, the more she thought Schrodinger might be right. “Maybe I should talk to Jade,” she said finally, going back to the frosting she was scooping into decorating bags. “Although I’m not sure what she can do about an Eidolon.”

We don’t know that it’s a bad Eidolon, Schrodinger said. She’s always said there must be good Eidolons too.

“That’s true,” Molly said, laying the filled bag next to the others, and picking up the last bag. She looked at the filled bags. “Do you think we’ll have enough to cover the entire time frame for the bake sale tomorrow?”

No, Schrodinger said, finally getting down from the window frame and coming over to join her. I don’t think you ever will. We always sell out.

That was certainly true. Molly thought every year that it would be the year she’d come home with leftovers, that something wouldn’t sell, and it never happened. In fact, she usually came home with a clipboard full of custom orders, and if Sue and/or Drew weren’t with her, she’d take even more.

That reminds me, I have to confirm with Sue that she’s coming tomorrow, Molly thought, adding another thing to her mental checklist. Drew has to work, after all.

Her best friend Sue Elder ran the museum in town, a museum dedicated to the history of Carter’s Cove and the man who had founded it when he’d sailed into the harbor and discovered not one, but two Gates. Carter’s Cove not only had the Gate Station where Drew worked, but a Sea Gate that ships sailed in and out of on a daily basis. It was part of what made the Cove so unique. Sea Gates were a lot rarer than land Gates, because unlike the land Gates, there was no actual Gate structure. It was pure magic, and the ships that used it had a Gate navigator that aligned the Sea Gates for each ship.

I wonder if that’s why the Eidolons seem drawn here, she mused. Because we’re basically saturated in magic. It’s the logical place to live if you are a magical being that doesn’t want to set up your own Realm. Or maybe that’s it. Are we just too attractive, since we don’t technically have a ruler? She didn’t think the Snow Queen counted, since she didn’t really rule the Cove. And the president is not really a threat to anyone magical.

What are you thinking about? Schrodinger said, bringing her back to herself. Molly found that she was standing with the half-filled frosting bag in one hand, the spatula in the other, and the CrossCat staring curiously at her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head. “I got distracted. What were you saying?”

He gave her a searching look. I said, talking to Jade about what happened was a good idea. When were you planning on seeing her?

“She mentioned she might come into the store on Sunday, to listen to the concert,” Molly said, finishing up the last frosting bag, and putting the dirty bowl in the dishwasher. Then she turned back to the table. “I think we’re ready for them!”

Just as she said it, they both heard the sounds of a car turning into the front yard. “And that would be everyone else!”

The house didn’t have a front entrance per se; the wide front porch opened into the kitchen, rather than a hall, which was something that both Molly and Drew had fallen in love with when they’d first seen the property. The family that had built it had obviously lived as much in the kitchen as Molly seemed to. Now, as she listened to her visitors come up the stairs to the porch, shouting greetings, Molly knew that this had been the right place for them.

“Molly, Molly, we brought you a present!” Kaylee shouted as she blew through the door, her eyes bright with anticipation.

“A present?” Molly said, grinning at her. “But it’s not Christmas yet!”

“It’s a pre-Christmas present,” Lily said, coming in behind her sister.

“A pre-Christmas present?” Molly said. “Really?”

“More of a they couldn’t wait to give it to you and decided that it had to be given as soon as it came in present,” Corrine Barrett said, coming in behind her daughters and their friends. Schrodinger had gone out to wrangle Aurora, who was rolling in the snow enthusiastically.

Corrine handed the box she was carrying to Molly, who looked curiously at it. It was on the small side, and fairly light. “Should I open it now?”

“Yes!” the children all chorused. “You need to open it now!”

They clustered around her as she opened the box and pulled out a travel tea mug. It was glass and held a tea diffuser within it.

“And the best part is that it’s magic!” Kaylee crowed. “Watch!”

“Kaylee, no!” Corrine said, but it was too late. She’d grabbed the mug from Molly’s hand and smashed it down on the wooden floor.

Molly gasped, but in surprise, as the mug, instead of shattering, bounced and then skittered around.

“It’s unbreakable!” Lily said excitedly. “We found someone to enchant it so you can’t break it!”

“That’s amazing!” Molly said, picking up the travel mug and examining it carefully. The glass was perfectly intact, and someone had hand-painted the words “Molly’s Travel Mug” in golden paint. Silver snowflakes were sprinkled all over the surface.

“You guys, this is awesome!” she said, hugging them all. “Thank you so much!”

“Drew said you didn’t like the taste of the metal travel mugs, or the plastic ones, but you didn’t want to get a glass one because it would break,” Gideon said. “He was looking for something to get you.”

“That’s right,” Zoey said. “So Pavel found this for us.”

“Of course he did!” Molly laughed. “Pavel can find just about anything!” She set the mug in the sink and turned to them. “You guys ready to help me decorate a ton of gingerbread soldiers and snowmen today?”

“Absolutely!” Lily said. “But we have to do the Advent calendar first!” She turned and called out the front door, “Come on, guys! We’re going to do the calendar!”

The two dogs and the CrossCat came bounding in, after considerately stopping on the front porch to shake the snow from their fur. We’re ready! Jack announced. Let’s do this!

Molly had hung the Advent calendar on the pantry door, and now they all stood around it. The little cat was curled up on the fluffy bath mat in front of the sink, sleeping soundly.

“Good afternoon, kitten!” Zoey said. “Are you ready to see what we’re doing today?”

The cat woke up, yawned, and stretched lazily. Then he trotted into the next room, which was obviously a nursery. The room was large, and held two small beds. One bed was draped with what looked like white lace, shot through with snowflakes and ribbons, like a bed a princess would sleep in. The other was also draped, but with solid panels, creating a medieval tent over the bed. A sword and shield leaned against both beds, and there were toys on the shelves around the entire room. Over by the fireplace, a small table held a plate of cookies and a glass of milk, with the words “For Santa” written in childish script on a white card propped against the glass. There was a small tree in one corner, decorated with small toys and bright glass balls. A garland was hung over the mantel, and there were two stockings hanging in front of the little fire, waiting for the gifts that were sure to be put in by a certain man in a red suit.

The cat went over to the plate of cookies and sniffed eagerly.

“No, kitten, that’s for Santa!” Kaylee said. “You shouldn’t take them!”

As if it had heard her, the cat hopped back down and went over to the tree in the corner. There were a few presents already underneath it, and he pulled one out. It was a long box, hastily wrapped, by someone who didn’t wrap presents very well.

“Wow, looks like Lily and Kaylee wrapped that,” Corrine murmured to Molly, who hastily stifled a laugh.

The cat worried off the bows (there were six of them, stuck randomly over the box), and then ripped off the paper. Smoke curled from the box as he pulled the lid off, and the words “Let’s decorate some cookies!” rose up. Then it drifted out of the calendar and solidified into aprons that dropped over the children’s heads.

“Wow, a new apron!” Zoey said admiringly. The aprons were white, with a fun jingle bell print all over and pockets big enough to put cookie cutters in.

“Yay!” Lily agreed. “And these will be good for crafts later with these big pockets!”

“I’m glad you’re excited,” Molly said, leading them over to the table. “Because we have a LOT of cookies to decorate today!”

(advent) Wednesday, December 5

Wednesday found Molly elbow deep in marzipan for a second day. She spent the morning meticulously painting every part of the fireplace and the Yule log that lay in the grate, then set it aside to dry as she boxed up cookies. Then she started making scones and tea breads.

While she worked, her mind went back over the previous day. Pavel had ended up taking them all to see the tree-lighting ceremony at the Harbour, and then they had spent nearly an hour riding around the Cove in his black sleigh, pulled by a black horse, looking at all the lights. Christmas lights were a matter of pride in the town: everyone tried to see what they could do to set the snow aglow with different colors, and Molly had enjoyed the trip just as much as the others. But even then, she’d wondered.

Who would want to steal an Advent calendar? The thought raced around her head as she mixed up cranberry orange tea bread batter and poured it into the small pans she had bought to sell them in. And why?

There had been threats to the Cove before, of course, most before she had been born. But she remembered Old Man Winter’s first year in the Cove, when he’d been bent on destroying it, thanks to the Eidolon that had taken over his soul. And Caliban, who had also been prey to an Eidolon. But Old Man Winter was a dear friend now, and Caliban had become Perry, and was currently off sailing somewhere, content to be just a sailor, not a prince.

Could the Eidolon have found someone else to try and sabotage the Cove?
That thought chilled her. Molly had no idea why this particular Eidolon hated Carter’s Cove, but it was because of it that the Snow Queen, Caliban, Jack Frost, and Herse had first set protections on the town. For a while, it had only needed to be charged by the Snow Queen’s Ball, held the last Saturday night before Christmas, but as the Cove had grown, so had the amount of magic needed to recharge the wards. The Advent calendar had seemed the perfect way to do that. But had it been hacked?

Molly looked over at the calendar. The little cat wasn’t actually asleep, which was odd; instead, he was sitting on the bed, taking a leisurely bath. And to her surprise, there was someone else in the calendar. She left the island and went over to the calendar, peering intently.

Seated in a chair in front of the fire in the third room of the attic, holding a steaming mug of something, was an older figure. Their back was towards Molly, so she wasn’t sure what sex they were, but the hands cupping the mug were lined and gnarled, with just a single golden band on the left hand.

Molly put her hand on the calendar. “Where did you come from?” she murmured.

The figure shifted slightly, and to her surprise, a voice said, “Why don’t you come and have a seat?”

The air around her blurred and shifted, wrapping her in the same pine and cinnamon-scented smoke that had become this calendar’s trademark. When it cleared, Molly found herself standing in the attic room, seated in another easy chair in front of the fire, a mug of her favorite Christmas tea in her hands.

“How did you do that?” she asked, looking over at the figure. Now that she could see facial features, she thought it might be a woman, but she wasn’t sure.

“It’s not hard,” the figure replied, their voice smooth and sexless. They wore a long robe of deep green velvet, edged with gold and silver leaves, and the face was as lined as the hands holding the mug. “Simple magic. I thought it might be time for a talk, Molly.”

Deep green eyes, nearly the same color as the robe, were turned in her direction. Strangely, Molly felt no fear, no worry. Whoever this person was, they weren’t a threat.

“No, I’m not a threat.” The person chuckled. “I can promise you that.”

“Who are you?” Molly asked. “Where did you come from?”

“Here and there,” the person answered.

“But who are you?” Molly said.

Another chuckle. “So many questions. You may call me Basilissa.”

“Is that your name?”

“One of them,” Basilissa said, sipping their tea. “It is the name I use today.” They looked over at Molly. “You are worried about the calendar, and what it may do to your town and friends.”

“You seem to know a lot about me,” Molly said cautiously. She still hadn’t sipped her tea, despite the appealing smell coming from the mug.

“I do,” Basilissa agreed. “The tea will not hurt you, Molly. I give you my word.” The gentle certainty in their tone set her mind at ease.

“Thank you.” Molly sipped the tea. “Why did you invite me here?”

“I wanted the chance to talk to you,” Basilissa said. “And this seemed the most expedient way.”

There was a sound of gentle footsteps coming up the stairs, and in a moment, the little cat that had been bathing below trotted into the room. He came over to Molly, who realized he was about the size of Schrodinger, and laid his head on her knee. His fur was soft and warm, and his purr vibrated through her.

“What did you want to talk about?” Molly asked, stroking the cat’s head. If it weren’t for the fact that she knew she was sitting in a room that didn’t actually exist, it would have been very comfortable.

“Tell me about the Cove.”

Molly blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Just what I said,” Basilissa said. “Tell me about the Cove.”

As if those words had released her, Molly began to talk about her home town: the characters that made the town up, the way magic seemed to live in the air, the farm and the bookstore and all the things that made Carter Cove home to her.

“You love your town very much,” Basilissa said when she’d finally run out of things to say. “That pleases me.”

“Why did you want to know that?” Molly asked. “And did you steal the Advent calendar from the Snow Queen?”

“I like learning things,” Basilissa said simply. “Knowledge is something everyone should try and get.” They stood up and stretched, then turned to Molly. “I did not steal the calendar, but I did add to it, Molly. For good reasons, I assure you.”

“What reasons?”

“That is for me to know for now,” the being said. “But let me say this: your town is in no danger from me.” They hesitated, as if considering further words, then looked down at her. “I thank you for your hospitality, Molly. It’s time to go back, though.”

Molly blinked, and she was back in her kitchen, a mug of tea in her hand, standing in front of the advent calendar. The little cat was sleeping in the bed that he had been on before, and there was no one in the attic room.

“Was it all a dream?” she said out loud, looking at the cup of tea in her hand. She didn’t remember the mug, or making it, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t.

The cat didn’t answer her.


“What do you think we’ll be doing today?” Kaylee said, as she and Gideon followed Lily and Zoey through the wintery streets. It wasn’t snowing today, but the sun wasn’t out; a grey cloud cover hung low over their heads, and the wind that blew in off the ocean smelled of salt.

“Something inside,” Gideon said decisively. “Because it’s a yucky day out.”

“It is,” Kaylee agreed. “But you know, it’s still prettier than anywhere else.”

“Oh yes,” Gideon said. “I don’t want to live anywhere else.”

“It’s a magical place, to be sure.”

That voice hadn’t been familiar, and Kaylee and Gideon stopped to look around to see who had spoken. They saw a large wagon, hitched to two massive reindeer, but instead of Old Man Winter, this person was a woman, her face half-hidden by the wool hat on her head. “Who are you?” Kaylee asked. “And are these your reindeer?”

“Sure, and they are,” the woman said, chuckling. “My name’s Kris, and I’ve just come to this lovely town. What are your names?”

Lily and Zoey had heard the new voice and come back, and now Lily said, “I’m Lily Barrett, and this is my sister Kaylee, and our friends Zoey Allen and Gideon Fable. And this is Jack and Aurora.”

Both dogs were sniffing at the reindeer, who lowered their heads to nuzzle them.

“Did you get your reindeer from Old Man Winter?” Gideon asked. “He has reindeer like this.”

Kris laughed. “Not hardly! His reindeer are magical indeed. Mine are regular reindeer who pull my poor cart.”

“Are you moving here?” Kaylee said, looking at the piles of belongings in the back of the cart.

“I am!” Kris beamed at them. “My old friend Brynna said it would be a good place to settle down, and she was right!”

“You know Brynna? Do you know Pavel?” Zoey asked excitedly. “We love both of them!”

“They’re very good people,” Kris said, nodding. “Perhaps we’ll see each other at their house, as I’m staying with them until my home is built.”

“Built?” Gideon blinked. “Is that what is going in on the empty lot past the sledding hill? A home?”

“Among other things,” Kris said. “And now, I’ve got to be moving on.” She clucked at the reindeer, who began to move forward. She waved at the children, who waved back. “Sure, and I’ll see you soon!”

“We need to tell Molly about her!” Zoey said, and the others nodded.

They burst into the kitchen at the bookstore, shouting, “Molly, Molly, we made a new friend!”

“Who?” she asked, grinning down at them. She’d been frosting snowmen cookies, and Kaylee saw that she had a smear of red on one side of her face. She must have absently rubbed her hand against her cheek.

“Her name’s Kris, and she has reindeer,” Gideon said. “Like Old Man Winter’s but she said they weren’t magical.”

“But they were HUGE!” Kaylee added. “And friendly!”

“And she’s friends with Brynna and Pavel,” Lily said.

“She said she was staying with them until her house was built,” Zoey said. “She’s building a house and something else in that empty lot that we found on the first day!”

“Wow, you guys had an adventure already!” Molly said, handing them each a cookie. “I wonder how the calendar will top that!”

“Let’s find out!” Gideon said, and they all clustered around the calendar.

The little cat woke up and stretched, then trotted into the next room.
This room was a bathroom, with a large old-fashioned claw-footed tub and a large sink. There was a curtain that probably hid the toilet. The cat jumped up and into the tub.

“I hope there’s no water in there!” Zoey giggled.

Why? I like baths, Schrodinger said.

But it wasn’t water droplets that splashed up from the tub, but smoke, rising up to form the words, “Let’s make this place festive!” As the smoke fell on the tub and sink, garlands seemed to wrap up and around, bringing holiday cheer even in to the smallest corner. Then the smoke came arrowing out of the calendar and zipped by them out of the kitchen.

They followed it out to the front of the store, where DC was waiting. Then the smoke formed into new letters: “Can you do the same?”

“We can!” Gideon said. “DC, are you decorating the windows?”

“I am!” the clerk said, grinning at them all. “Did you guys want to help me?”

“Oh yes!” They all nodded eagerly.

“Well, Ruth gave us all this stuff,” DC said. “Let’s see what we can do!”

(advent) Tuesday, December 4

Molly sipped her first cup of Christmas tea and contemplated her kitchen. The rest of the house was quiet; she was the first up, as usual, and CrossCat Farm was on the outskirts of the Cove, with their nearest neighbor over a mile away. Hardly anything broke the stillness, especially in the winter.

She’d left Drew and Schrodinger asleep in the bedroom, slipping from the warm flannel sheets to pad quietly down the long staircase to her sanctuary. Now she sat at the large table, her ceramic mug warming her hands, and tried to imagine how much different it would be if she did turn it into a commercial kitchen.

It wasn’t as big a leap for the farm kitchen as it would have been for her apartment. There, she’d been constrained by what additions or modifications she was able to make, as the apartment had been rented. And renting a store front had been out of her price range, even in the Cove. But now…

We had the water and sewer tested when we bought the farm, and it was only a few years ago, she mused, her gaze wandering over the gleaming steel of her large refrigerator and freezer. I’d have to call Bear to have him schedule the inspection, but that’s easy enough. And then I wouldn’t have to worry about days off or anything like that.

It was a very tempting thought. Over the last few months, given the changes that would be coming in the new year, she had been considering what she wanted to do with her life. While she loved running the cafe in her aunt’s bookstore, Molly had to admit that she was becoming bored with things.

Too much of a good thing, perhaps, she thought, taking another sip. Her favorite tea was flavored with marzipan, cloves, and cinnamon, a blend that she bought from a custom vendor. It had always said Christmas to her, bringing her back to when she was a child, and her great-aunt’s kitchen. Aunt Evelyn had been her grandmother’s cousin, actually, but Molly had always called her Aunt. It was Evelyn who had recognized her talents as a kitchen witch, and had taught her how to make homemade candy and chocolates.

I haven’t done anything with marzipan in a long time, Molly thought now. Perhaps I should change that.

She set her mug on the table and moved over to the large bookcase on the far wall. Drew had built it for her the past summer, surprising her for her birthday. Now it held the treasures of her kitchen: the various cook books inherited and found over her life. She ran one fingertip over the spines, enjoying the feeling of leather and paper, imagining that the recipes nestled inside were whispering to her. The book she was looking for was on the second shelf, a book thickened by years of use near a hot stove and hot water. Her Aunt Evelyn’s candy journal, the recipes tried and tested, written in black ink in a spidery hand. It had come to Molly after Evelyn’s death, along with her other cookbooks, but she hadn’t thought of it in years.

Now she went back to the table and began to leaf through, letting the scents of vanilla and cocoa and almond fill her nose. She still needed to come up with a centerpiece for the bake sale on Friday, after all.

By the time Schrodinger and Drew had staggered into the kitchen looking for tea and breakfast, Molly had drawn up her plans and was on her third cup of tea.

Drew dropped a kiss on the top of her hair. “Good morning, beautiful. What are you working on?”

“Bake sale stuff,” Molly replied, smiling up at him. “I think I know what the centerpiece will be.” She showed him the notes she’d been taking.

“Let me get tea before I try and make sense of that,” Drew said, and she laughed.

Tea, Schrodinger said. Earl Grey, hot. He had managed to jump up into his chair at the table, but his green eyes were still at half-mast. He was definitely not a morning person.

“Yes, captain,” Drew said, putting hot water in the large cappuccino mug the CrossCat preferred. He refilled Molly’s mug as well. “What were you thinking of for breakfast, light of my life?”

“I wasn’t, actually,” she admitted. “Do you have a preference?”

Instead of answering, Drew went and opened the refrigerator. “Well, we’ve got eggs and spinach,” he said. “Do we have any of that fresh mozzarella left?”

“I don’t remember,” Molly said. “If we do, it’s in the cheese drawer.”

He rummaged. “Yep, I found it. And you made pizza dough.”

“Yes, I did,” she said, frowning. “What does that have to do with breakfast?”

Drew gathered up his supplies and went over to the oven. “You can’t tell me you’ve never had breakfast pizza before.”

“Okay, I won’t tell you that, even though it’s true.”

Breakfast…pizza? Schrodinger’s eyes opened a bit more. He adored anything pizza-related.

“It’s how I got through the Gate Academy,” Drew said. “If it could go on a pizza crust, it did. We would go to my aunt’s house once a week and make enough pizza to last us through. Of course, we didn’t have the amazing crust that Molly makes, but I have to admit that I lived on them for three years.”

Thirty minutes later, Molly and Schrodinger looked admiringly at the bubbling masterpiece that Drew set in the middle of the table. He’d partially baked the crust, then laid out sliced tomatoes and shredded spinach instead of sauce. Over that, he’d layered fluffy soft scrambled eggs and slices of freshly-cooked ham, and then he’d put it in the oven to finish. Right before he took it out, he added the fresh mozzarella on top.

“Wow,” Molly said, inhaling the scents. “I would have never thought of this.”

Brilliant, Schrodinger said. Truly inspired.

Once she’d bit into her first piece, Molly had to agree. “I think we need to do this more often.”

After a leisurely breakfast, they cleaned up the kitchen together, and then Drew dropped Molly and Schrodinger off at the bookstore on his way to work. “You’re all set with a ride home, right?” he said, leaning out of the window to get a last kiss.

“Yes,” Molly assured him. “Aunt Margie said she’d take us home.” She kissed him. “Don’t work too hard today.”

“Hah, tell Mal that,” Drew said. “You either.”

“Tell Aunt Margie that,” Molly said, and then stepped back towards the store as he drove off. It was snowing lightly off and on, not really hard, but as if it couldn’t make up its mind. The snowflakes against her skin felt like faery kisses.

“Come on, Schrodinger,” she said. “We need to go get marzipan before we go into the kitchen.”

Marzipan? For what? He followed her down the street towards the Merchant’s Square. There was a specialty food store that had come into the Cove over the summer, and Molly knew they’d have what she needed.

Ryder’s Recipes was brightly lit and smelled like chocolate as they stepped into the building, and Molly inhaled happily. Before Ryder had come to the Cove, Molly had had to go to Portland for a lot of the things she couldn’t or didn’t want to make. This was so much more convenient.

Ryder himself, a very tall and thin man with the most luxuriant mustache Molly had ever seen, was behind the counter, chatting with one of her other favorite people.

Captain Brynna Stormsdottir had retired to Carter’s Cove three years earlier, when her father had passed away and she and her son Pavel reconnected. Now, Brynna and her husband Paul were the unofficial grandparents to most of the children in Carter’s Cove, and no small amount of the young adults.

Brynna! Schrodinger bounced up to her, his eyes alight. Is Pavel back yet?

She smiled indulgently down at him. “He is, in fact. Heart’s Desire came back in last night, and he should be alive soon.”


“So tell me, do you have an Advent calendar this year?” Brynna asked.

Oh yes! But we’re not sure from who, Schrodinger said.

At Brynna’s look, Molly explained about the odd circumstances around the calendar.

“But who would steal an Advent calendar?” Brynna said, when the recital was done.

“That’s our question too,” Molly said, then turned to Ryder. “Do you have marzipan? In bulk?”

“How much bulk are we talking?” he asked her, raising one eyebrow.

Molly thought for a moment. “Twenty pounds?”

His jaw dropped. For that matter, so did Brynna’s and Schrodinger’s.

“Twenty…pounds?” Ryder said finally.

“Yes, that should be enough,” Molly said, grinning at his reaction. “I’m making a centerpiece for the bake sale on Friday.”

“Let me look,” Ryder said, disappearing into the back of the store. He came back out five minutes later with a bag.

“You’re in luck,” he said, handing it to her. “I just got in a shipment. Anything else?”

Molly had taken the time while he was looking to gather the rest of the supplies she’d need, and she piled them on the counter. Once she and Schrodinger had paid and said goodbye to Brynna and Ryder, they headed back out to the bookstore.

Normally, Tuesday was her day off, but she’d decided to come in today and let Rose, the young woman who covered her on Tuesdays and Thursdays, cover her on Friday instead. That way, she didn’t have to worry about coming back to the cafe after the bake sale, which was almost guaranteed to wear her out.

Once she’d made sure everyone was taken care of, she went back into the kitchen and began to work on her centerpiece.

By the time the children came in after school, Molly had split the marzipan into several chunks and sculpted the largest into a fireplace. It was drying on the side counter while she worked on other pieces.

“Wow, Molly, what’s that?” Zoey said, as they came in and took their coats off.

“It’s the centerpiece for the bake sale,” Molly said. “I decided to use marzipan this year, and make a Yule log in a fireplace.” She grinned at their looks. “Lily and Kaylee never knew their great-Aunt Evelyn, but I can remember making marzipan candies with her for Christmas when I was your age. And I thought it would be fun.”

“That’s so cool!” Gideon said. “What’s marzipan?”

“It’s almond paste,” Molly said. She broke off pieces of the block in front of her that she hadn’t started shaping yet, and handed it to them.

“It’s sweet!” Lily said.

“It’s like playdoh!” Kaylee said, rolling a bit in her fingers.

“Yes, it is,” Molly agreed. “That’s why I can use it to sculpt things. And everything in this centerpiece will be completely edible. I thought we’d have it Christmas Day for the table.” She looked at Zoey and Gideon. “Since you guys are joining us out at the farm, I thought that would be cool.”

“Oh yes!” they all agreed.

“Now, let’s see what the calendar has in store for you today,” Molly said, dusting the sugar off her hands. She followed the gaggle over to the calendar.

The little cat was waiting for them at the top of the stairs, and now he trotted down jauntily. The room underneath was a bedroom, with a small bed and dresser. It was a little less ornate than some of the other rooms, and Molly guessed it might have been for a servant, but it was still decorated. A little tree was in the corner, decorated with unlit candles and ribbons, and a few little packages were underneath it. One stocking hung from the little fireplace tucked into a corner, and there were a second set of stairs going down. The bed had more ribbons on the top headboard, and a bright patchwork quilt covered the bed.

Wiggling his butt, the cat wormed his way under the bed, and they watched as another present was pushed out the other side. He came out behind it, and proceeded to unwrap it. Smoke rose from the open box and formed the words, “Let there be light.” The candles on the tree began to sparkle, and glow as the smoke swirled around it.

“Wow,” Lily breathed. The smoke dissipated.

“Wait, what’s going on?” Gideon said, frowning. “Is it broken?”

“It didn’t give us anything!” Kaylee said. “What happened?”

They all turned and looked at Molly, who shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, guys,” she said honestly. “Maybe the people who stole it didn’t finish that room?” Then she looked at the disappointed faces, and said, “Well, you guys will just have to help me today!”

That cheered them up a bit, but Molly felt a faint twinge of worry. Why had the calendar not worked? Or had it, and they just didn’t know? So many questions, and no answers, she thought. I should call Jade later. She might have an idea.

And then the front door opened, and a cheery voice said, “Hello the Bookstore!”


The shout rose from the four children and three animals, and they rushed out the door to tackle the pirate captain, who went down under their enthusiastic greeting. Molly was about to follow when she saw the smoke re-form in the room.

“Don’t you trust me?” it said.

(advent) Monday, December 3

“What is that?” Molly asked, as Aunt Margie came into the tea room holding a large box. Behind her, Uncle Art had an equally large box. “And what do you expect me to do with it?”

“You? Nothing.” Aunt Margie set the box on the nearest table and wiped sweat from her brow. “These are for the children when they get out of school.”

Schrodinger had been watching from his cat bed. Now he got up and padded over to them. Are you planning on shipping us somewhere?

“Not yet,” Uncle Art said, winking at Molly over Schrodinger’s head. “That depends on how you guys behave.”

“Nonsense,” Aunt Margie said, elbowing her husband in his large belly. “We’re doing nothing of the sort. These are from my friend Ruth.”

Molly’s eyes widened. “You mean the lady who makes those gorgeous quilts?”

Aunt Margie nodded. “That’s not all she does – she’s got a craft store in her house, practically, and thought that if you guys were going to decorate this year, you might need some supplies.”

Oooohhhhh! Schrodinger stood up on his hind legs and sniffed the boxes. I wonder what’s in there!

“Knowing Ruth, it could be anything,” Aunt Margie told him. “But you need to wait until the others are here.”

Scarcely had the words left her mouth when two things happened simultaneously: the front door crashed opened and Lily and Kaylee, followed closely by Zoey, Gideon, Jack, and Aurora came piling in; and DC called Aunt Margie’s name from the back of the store.

“Boss, it’s here! Shall I have them bring it up?”

“Yes,” Aunt Margie called back. “Go ahead.”

“Can they use the front door? It’s a straight line to the stairs that way.”

“Yes, send them in.” Aunt Margie and Uncle Art went to hold open the door, leaving Schrodinger and Molly to explain the boxes to the amazed children.

Or start to, anyways. The large blue mailbox coming through the front doors quickly gathered everyone’s attention.

“It’s here, it’s here!” Kaylee shouted. “Santa sent the mailbox!”

Of course he did, Schrodinger said. Did you think he would forget?

It was well-known that Santa Claus and Aunt Margie had a special friendship. Every year, the big blue mailbox would appear up in the upper level of CrossWinds Books, and there was a table set up for anyone who wanted to send a letter to Santa. Molly had often wondered how her aunt seemed to have (and had always had) a direct line to the North Pole. Aunt Margie and Uncle Art never said, but the Santa that had come to the store to hear the requests of young and old since Molly had been a child was never a substitute, and the four little men who carried the mailbox on a litter as if it were a head of state were most definitely not human. Pointed ears stuck up around their knit caps, the bells on the tips of their curly-toed shoes jingled merrily, and their cheeks glowed red in the cold. There was a slightly taller man in front of them, his tunic frosted with silvery snow and golden bells, and he led them up the stairs through the hush that had fallen upon the crowd. Usually, the mailbox came in when the store had yet to open, but just like it seemed everything was this year, they were apparently running late.

As the procession disappeared up the stairs, Molly shook herself out of her trance and turned back to the children. “Let them put it down before you go running up,” she said.

“We can’t go up yet anyways. We have to do the calendar,” Gideon said.

“Yes! Maybe we can go back and see what that weird lot was,” Kaylee said, clapping her hands. “Let’s go see what’s in the next room!”

They all went into the kitchen. The cat in the Advent calendar was asleep on the seat of the sleigh. Zoey said, “Good afternoon, little cat! What do you have for us today?”

To Molly’s surprise, this woke the cat up. It sat up and blinked, then wiped a paw across its whiskers and stretched, a long, languorous extension of its back and claws. Then it jumped down, nosed the rocking horse in farewell, and padded into the next room. This attic room, in addition to having stairs going down to the next floor, had a fire place with a fire burning merrily in it, and there were bookcases all around the room. It rather reminded Molly of the bookstore, except for the fact that instead of books, the shelves held an entire town of ceramic houses, nestled in clouds of white snow. Lights twinkled in the dim room, the only other light the fire in the grate. The cat moved to a desk that was sitting near to the fire and jumped up on the chair.

“Maybe he’s going to write a letter to Santa too?” Lily said, her voice soft.

It looked possible. The desk was an old roll-top model, richly polished wood. When the cat nosed up the lid, they saw it was liberally stocked for any writing needs: there was a pot of ink, stacks of what might have been parchment or vellum, along with envelopes, stamps, and feathered quill pens stuck into the various cubbie holes in the back. After a few moments of considering the options, the cat reached out with a delicate paw deep into one of the holes that Molly had thought was empty, and tugged. Whatever it was resisted a little, but after a few moments, a rolled piece of paper came out attached to one claw.

Using its paws to hold the top two corners down, it nimbly jumped up and unrolled the scroll using its back paws. Once the sheet was flat (courtesy of a cat butt sitting on it), it looked out at the children and winked, then tapped the parchment with its paw. The expected smoke floated up and out of the paper.

“Time to write your letter for Santa! This should help!”

The words spun together and arrowed out of the attic room into the kitchen, where it paused briefly before shooting up the stairs to the second floor of the bookstore, the children in hot pursuit. Left alone in the kitchen, Molly looked over at the cat sitting on the desk. It was now cleaning its paws.

“I don’t suppose you could tell me who stole the calendar, could you?” she said.

She wasn’t expecting an answer, but the cat winked at her, and patted the parchment again. More smoke, and the letters said, “Don’t worry. It’s Christmas, after all.”

And then they dissipated. While she watched, the cat yawned, and curled up to sleep again.

“Is that MORE stone?” Drew asked, watching the truck rumble through the Gate arch. He and his best friend Luke were standing by the control panels, making certain the Gate cycled properly through its various Roads.

“Yep. New building going in downtown,” Luke said, his fingers dancing over the keyboard in front of him. “There should be two more trucks behind this one.”

There were, and Drew checked them off on his tablet, waving the driver through. He watched the behemoths trundle out into the cold Cove air. “Isn’t it weird to be building in the winter, though?” he said. “I mean, seriously, won’t it be difficult?”

Luke looked up and raised his dark eyebrows. “Considering they’re using dwarven stone, not really. I’m betting they’ve got stone masons coming from the mines, or the nearby village, to work it. I would, anyways.”

“But it’s cold out,” Drew said.

“It’s winter in Maine. If it was warm, I’d be worried.” Luke shrugged. “Don’t forget, it’s magic. They don’t worry as much about the weather when they’re doing things like that.” He turned back to his schedule. “Looks like we’ve got passengers next.”

“From where?” Drew asked, craning his head to see the notes on the screen.

“Rovaniemi, according to the manifest.” Luke tapped a few more keys. “Looks to be a winter realm as well, not quite Earth-adjacent, but nearby. Humanoid, high magic, major exports are handcrafts and reindeer herding. Makes sense that they’d be relocating here.”


“Yeah, there’s a message from the town council that they’ve been approved to move to the Cove,” Luke said. Because of the Gates in the Cove, there was a bit more to moving to the Cove than just moving, especially from other Realms.

“Well, I’ll have to let Molly know, so she can bake something.” Drew traced a sigil on the tablet he was holding, spinning the Gate to connect with another Road. Once the lights on his tablet turned green, he said, “We’re good to go.”

Luke tapped on the keyboard, and Drew watched as a large cart pulled by two immense reindeer came through the stone arch. “Good lord,” he breathed. “Is that where Old Man Winter gets his?”

It certainly looked like it. The two reindeer towered over him as he stepped up to the cart, and Drew wasn’t exactly short. Muscles rippled under their shaggy grey coats and they stamped their cloven hooves as if impatient to be on. Long leather straps of brown and dark red connected them to the cart.

To his surprise, it was an older woman driving the cart, her face nearly hidden by the large woolen hat that drooped low over her sparkling eyes. “Sure, and this is a welcome!” Her voice was rich and full, with hints of laughter peeking around the edges. “I think I shall like this place!”

She stuck out a mittened hand, and Drew, a little bemused, took it. “Welcome to the Cove,” he said. “I’m Drew McIntyre, deputy Station Manager, and if you need anything, please let us know. Do you have a place to stay set up?”

“Sure do,” she said, shaking his hand briskly. “My friend Brynna is expecting me. Name’s Kris, and I’m very pleased to meet you, Drew McIntyre. You’re friends with young Pavel, correct?”

Drew chuckled a bit to hear Pavel called “young,” but said, “Yes, ma’am, I am.”

“Ain’t no ma’am here,” she corrected him. “Just Kris. Is your wife the kitchen witch, then?”

And how am I not surprised she knows of Molly? “She is. She’ll most likely be by with a welcome package of her own, especially if you’re friends with Brynna.”

Kris’ smile became even broader and she nodded. “Good, good. She’s special, and I’m dearly looking forward to meeting her.” Then she cocked her head. “Is that it, then? I’m good to go?”

“Yes,” Drew said, backing up a bit. “Enjoy your stay in the Cove!”

“Oh yes, I intend to.” Kris shook her reins, and clucked to the reindeer. As she moved off, he heard her say, “I most definitely intend to.”

(advent) Sunday, December 2

“So wait a minute,” Drew McIntyre said, frowning at his wife, his tea mug stopped halfway to his mouth. “Someone broke into the Snow Queen’s palace?”

“That’s what she said,” Molly said, concentrating on her icing. She had a tray of glazed snowflake sugar cookies in front of her, and she was laying down thin stripes of white in an intricate design. Once she was done, she had edible glitter to sprinkle over them.

“But why?”

Molly paused in her icing to shrug. “That’s as good a question as any. Jade did mention that she was concerned someone would want to interfere with the charging of the wards on the Cove, but if that was the case, then why send it on to the children?”

Drew turned on his stool to look at the open kitchen door, which is where they’d hung the Advent Calendar. The little cat was asleep under the Christmas tree in the first attic room. “Could they have tampered with it?”

“If they did, she couldn’t tell.” Molly laid aside the icing bag and picked up the shaker jar of glitter. “And Jack came by later to check too. As far as either of them knows, whoever stole it just finished the spells. They didn’t add anything that they could find.”

“So weird.” Drew shook his head and finally remembered to put his tea mug down. “And the activities?”

“Well, yesterday nothing really happened, so we went ahead with the plan. They helped me cut out all the snowflakes and snowmen for the bake sale.” Molly finished dusting the glitter over the snowflakes and laid the tray on the far counter. Then she retrieved the second one. “As far as we know, it should follow the list.”

When she had first offered the idea of the Advent Calendar to Jade, Molly had given her a list of activities the children could do, so the Snow Queen could construct the magic. All the little bits and pieces that had been put together for this year had still been within the calendar, which allayed her concern a bit. Still, they were all being watchful.

“That’s good.” Drew looked at his watch. “Okay, much as I’d like to sit here and watch you be amazing all day, I have to get back to the Station. Mal said the mines have been working overtime and there’s a seven or eight cart load coming through.”

“Wow, I wonder why?”

He shrugged. “Must be a big order. It’s all stone, too.”

There was a pocket Realm on the western edge of the Cove, where the granite mine that had stood there for years mixed and mingled with a mine that held far more exotic metals and materials. A clan of dwarves had lived there for as long as anyone knew, and supplied the surrounding Realms with enchanted generators, building materials, and occasionally jewelry.

“Good for them,” Molly said now, kissing her husband gently as he came around the edge of the island and hugged her. “There’s a package in the refrigerator for you to take back. Mal said you were running low on sandwich rolls.”

“Have you ever thought of just being a personal baker for the Cove?” Drew said, retrieving the cloth bag. “You’d never lack for customers.”

“We’d have to make our kitchen at home commercial grade,” she said. “That’s a lot of work.”

“I take it you’ve thought of it, then.”

She nodded. “That was actually the plan when I got out of college. But it was so expensive – this was the compromise.”

“That was also some years ago, and you aren’t doing it alone this time,” Drew said. “Might be time to revisit it.”

“Maybe.” They shared a secret smile, and then he sighed.

“Okay, enough bespelling me, witch. Work calls.” Drew kissed her once more and headed out.

Molly went back to her decorating, but her mind wasn’t on the task. Luckily, her fingers knew how to do it without her conscious thought. The same thoughts wound through her head. Who had stolen the Advent calendar? And why? And what had they done to it?

“Molly? Are you here?” Kaylee’s voice broke through her musings.

“Where else would I be?” she said, smiling at them as all the children gathered around her. “There’s a bake sale coming!”

“Can we have a cookie?” Gideon asked. “For quality control.”

Molly laughed at that, but nodded. “Go ahead. I’m done with these ones.”

As each child reached for a cookie, she pulled out some of the special doggy cookies that she always had for Aurora and Jack, since sugar wasn’t good for them. “Are you guys ready to see what the calendar has in store for you today?”

“Always!” Lily and Zoey said together.

“Molly, it’s snowing outside again!” Kaylee said.

“What did you expect?” her sister said. “It’s winter.”

Kaylee stuck her tongue out at Lily. “But it wasn’t snowing earlier! And we don’t know if she’s been outside.”

Look! The cat’s awake!

Schrodinger’s shout interrupted what could have been the beginning of an argument, for which Molly was grateful. They all clustered around the calendar, where the little cat was indeed awake.
It wandered through a door into the next attic room, which did not have a tree in it.

Instead, there was a rocking horse that was attached to a small sleigh, garlands of evergreens and bright red apples connecting the two. The cat nosed the rocking horse, who shook its head and mane and whinnied.

“Wow, everything in this house is magical!” Zoey said softly.

“I wish I could live there,” Gideon agreed. “That’s an amazing house.”

Molly silently agreed. The house was gorgeous.

After greeting the rocking horse, the cat jumped into the sleigh. There was a bag on the back of the sleigh, very reminiscent of Santa’s sack, and he stuck his head in it. After a few moments, he pulled out a long scarf that he then wrapped around his neck, and a jaunty Santa hat that he put on his head. More smoke came out of the bag, and once again, Molly smelled pine and cinnamon.

The smoke formed letters that said, “It’s a winter wonderland! Get out and enjoy it!”

Then, to their astonishment, the smoke formed into a sparkling ball and shot out of the calendar to hover above the children. It formed more words: “Follow me!” and then zoomed out of the door.

“Well, go!” Molly said, as the others gaped at it. “You don’t want to lose sight of it, do you?”

Schrodinger, Jack, and Aurora were already in hot pursuit, and Molly heard the front door open. We’ll keep it in sight! The CrossCat’s voice was excited. Get your coats and follow our voices!


The ball of sparkling smoke moved faster than they had expected, but it left a trail of brilliant sparks floating in the air that was easy to follow, even through the snow. The air was crisp and cold, but Schrodinger’s nose filled with the scent of pine trees and cinnamon that seemed to be the calendar’s signature this year.

Where do you think it’s going? Aurora ran easily next to him, the two of them trailing Jack, who was in full hound mode and baying happily.

I’ll bet it’s something to do with sledding! Schrodinger said, as they wove through trees in the park across the road from the bookstore.

Being on the rocky Maine coast, there were plenty of hills in Carter’s Cove to sled on in the winter, but the ball of smoke didn’t seem to be heading to any of the ones that they were familiar with. A stray thought from Lily crossed his mind: the kids were in their coats and mittens, and the sparkles were still visible to them. Which made sense, when he thought about it. What good was a track that they couldn’t follow?

Wow, you guys! Wait until you see this!
Jack’s baying increased, and when Schrodinger and Aurora burst out of the trees next to him, they understood why.

There was a large mound of snow, almost a mountain, and atop it, balanced as if waiting for them, was a large tobaggon.

They gave us a sled big enough for all of us! Aurora barked happily. Indeed, the sled was huge, but even it was dwarfed by the mound of snow it sat upon.

“Where did the snow mountain come from?” Zoey asked, as the kids hurried up beside them. “This wasn’t here yesterday!”

They all looked around. “I think it came from there!” Lily said, pointed to a vacant lot across the road from the edge of the park. “Look, it’s been all cleared!”

The sled forgotten for a moment, they went to the edge of the park. “What was here before?” Gideon asked, as they looked at the cleaned lot. It was large, and even now, with the snow falling around them, the ground was bare.

“They must have a spell on it,” Kaylee whispered. “Look, you can see the snow melting!”

Not melting, Schrodinger said. It’s being put onto the mountain!

And so it was. As they looked, the sled moved a bit, and the hill got even longer and higher.

“Let’s go!” Gideon said. “This is going to be awesome!”

(advent) Saturday, December 1

The box was waiting for Molly McIntyre and Schrodinger Barrett when they came back from an early lunch with Molly’s husband Drew. Molly took one look at the barely-suppressed excitement in the faces of the four children and two dogs that were arranged around the table and smiled. “Well, I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t stop at the grocery store,” she said. “These guys look like they’re going to explode if they have to wait much longer.”

If that box is what I think it is, I don’t blame them! Schrodinger bounded into the tea room. Come on, Molly! Don’t you want to see what kind of Advent calendar they sent us??

“Of course I do!”

Christmas in Carter’s Cove, Maine, had always been one of Molly’s favorite seasons, but the last few years had definitely been highlights, thanks in large part to the magical Advent calendars from the Cove’s protectors, the Snow Queen and Jack Frost. Now, Molly hurried after the CrossCat, eager to see what this year’s adventures would bring.

“We’ve been waiting FOREVER for you guys to come back!” Kaylee Barrett said, bouncing in her seat, her brown hair falling into her eyes. “This came right after you left!”

“But we waited to open it!” her older sister Lily added. “Because that’s what it says.” She pointed to the box. “Zette was very specific.”

Indeed, across the top of the box was written: “To Lily and Kaylee Barrett, Zoey Allard, Gideon Fable, Schrodinger Barrett, Jack, and Aurora. Do not open until you are all together!”

“Wow,” Molly said, pulling her coat off. “It must be very special! I wonder what they have planned for you guys this year.” She draped her coat over one of the chairs and then gestured to them. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

Four pairs of hands and one set of claws reached out to the box (Jack and Aurora just watched, of course, since their paws weren’t suited for this), and the tape quickly succumbed to their efforts. There was a slight pause, and then a small wisp of what looked like smoke curled up from the box, to Molly’s slight concern.

“Did she send us a DRAGON?” Gideon asked, his eyes wide.

I doubt it, Schrodinger said, but even his voice was unsure. Dragons are sentient beings, and you don’t give them as gifts.

“But then what is it?” Zoey asked, looking at the others. “What else would SMOKE?”

They all shrugged.

“Maybe you should look into it,” Molly said, moving over and doing just that. To her surprise, the only thing in the box was a tightly rolled tube. She pulled it out. As she did so, another wisp of smoke curled up and around her, redolent of pine and cinnamon.

“What is it?” Lily asked.

“I don’t know,” Molly admitted. The tube was a cardboard poster tube, sealed on either end with green and gold wax embossed with jingle bells, snowflakes, and acorns. She cracked one, releasing a bit more smoke, and privately wondered just what the Snow Queen and Jack had decided to do. Although this feels more like Old Man Winter’s style, she thought.

Inside the tube was a soft roll of fabric. Molly unrolled it and they all crowded around her as she laid it out on the table top, moving the packing materials aside.

“Oh, how pretty!” Zoey said, reaching out a finger to gently touch the richly-embroidered scene. Molly could only marvel at the craftsmanship in front of her.

The scene was a Victorian house, all decorated for Christmas, one room for each day. Each room had a different theme for the decorations, and they all seemed to move, sparkle, and glow. Now it was apparent where the little wisps of smoke had come from – candles danced on mantels, tables, and chandeliers, and every room seemed to have a fireplace alight.

“But how does it work?” Gideon asked, peering closely at it. He frowned.

“Magic, of course!” Kaylee said. “Duh.”

“No, I mean, how do we use it?” Gideon replied. “There’s no windows or pockets or anything for us to open.” He leaned over so close to the tapestry that his nose nearly touched it. “It’s missing something!”

What’s that on the bottom? Jack said, speaking for the first time. The pouch?

Molly saw what he was referring to. A small embroidered pouch hung from the bottom right corner, attached by a green and gold braided cord. She opened the pouch and shook the contents into her hand.

“Is that a cat?” Kaylee asked, as Molly blinked. “It is! It looks like you, Schrodinger!”

“But I don’t understand!” Gideon said. “What does that have to do with any….” His voice trailed off as the little cat stirred, stretched, and yawned on Molly’s palm. It really did look like a miniature CrossCat, complete with the tufts on its ears and Schrodinger’s bright green eyes. Then, as they watched, the cat leaped up and onto the tapestry – and then merged into it.

“Oh my!” Lily breathed, as the cat prowled around the attic, obviously looking for something. The attic was split into three rooms, and the room he landed in was stocked with toys and wrapped boxes. In one corner, a tiny evergreen tree sparkled, covered in silver snowflakes and golden acorns. The floor was covered with a fluffy white carpet that was almost, but not quite, snow, and garlands of snowflakes hung from the rafters. There was no fireplace, but a little candle burned in the one window.

“What’s he looking for?” Zoey said, watching the little cat, who was now deep in a pile of presents, digging for something.

Molly was about to reply when the door to CrossWinds Books blew open, distracting her. She turned to see the Snow Queen, Jade herself, come in, looking unusually upset. She was normally the most serene person Molly knew.

“I’m so sorry, children! I don’t -” And then she gasped as she saw the tapestry. “How did you get that?”

“You sent it to us?” Gideon said, wrinkling his brow. “Didn’t you?”

Jade shook her head, shedding snowflakes from her icy blonde hair. “No, I didn’t. I was on my way here to apologize. The Advent Calendar we were working on, that calendar,” and she pointed to the tapestry, “was stolen from my workroom two days ago. I’ve been looking all over for it.”

“Stolen?” Molly said. “By who?”

“I don’t know,” Jade said. She came over to the calendar and laid a hand on the tapestry. “We had just finished laying the groundwork magic on it and left it to finish overnight. When I unlocked the workroom the next morning, it was gone. Nothing else was taken.”

“Do you think it’s safe?” Molly said. “Or should we not do any more?” She ignored the cries of dismay from around her. “Jade?”

The Snow Queen frowned, obviously concentrating on the calendar. The little cat was still digging in the pile, only the tuft of his tail visible.

“I don’t sense anything malevolent,” she said finally, taking her hand away. “I think it should be okay, but keep an eye on it.” Jade looked up at Molly. “We’ll be doing the same.”

“Yay!” Kaylee and Gideon cheered. “It wouldn’t have been fun without a calendar!”

“Look!” Zoey said, pointing to the room.

The little cat was pulling something from the pile, moving backwards slowly. As they watched, he got the present free of the pile, and nudged it until it was upright. Then he grabbed the ribbon on the top in his teeth and yanked it open. The box fell apart, and a shower of sparks filled the air. They drifted out of the tapestry and formed the words “Welcome to Christmas,” then reformed into “Are you ready for a mystery?”

(writing/personal) Thoughts on a grey November day

Winter has come to New England.

Christmas is coming officially now. It’s one month out from today, and my world is full of melting snow at the moment. The November rain won’t last, though – they’re already talking more white stuff for Tuesday, and my joints tell me that this year will be cold. Normally, I’d be back in bed, covers over my head, begging for spring. And I will probably get there on some days this year.

But not now. This year, for some odd reason, I’m not dreading the snow. I’m not counting down the days until it all melts, and I’m not hiding in my room. Part of that is probably because I have a new neurologist and better meds to help with both the depression and the migraines. My knees are achy, but considering the damage I’ve done to both of them, that’s not going to change any time soon. I’m even not worried about driving into work.

There’s a sort of zen peace around me now, and I’m embracing it. This winter is for rediscovering myself. I want to write every day, whether it be a blog post, or a story, or a letter to someone that may or may not get sent. I’m crocheting and cross-stitching in the evenings while I listen to BBC Worldwide (I’ve dropped my cable TV and my land line phone). I’m working on cleaning out my house. I want to read more books.

Today in my daily pages, I set myself a goal: to read in a book every day. And then to decide if I am keeping the book, or giving it away. I’m going to track it on my Goodreads page, just to see how many books I can get through. 

I’ve also decided on some upcoming projects that I’ll be working on after Winter Mysteries is done. I have a short story I want to send in for a contest, and I think I’m in the right headspace to finally write both Resonant Frequencies and Bluebird’s Lament this year. I’m going to crochet some blankets, and try my first sweater.

And I’m giving myself permission to rest this winter. It’s a time for regaining my strength and my center for the coming spring.

Wednesday words (personal/writing)

I adore black cats.

It’s Wednesday! This is my off day, and because it’s a weekday, it tends to be my “OMGIneedtorunalltheerrands!” day. Not this week. I’m taking a day to myself, because this weekend is wedding #2 (last weekend was wedding #1), and I’ve got farther to drive for this one. Dad and I are heading down to Pennsylvania! Send me enough good vibes that I make it through.

So today, I’m doing laundry, maybe a bit of writing (although I don’t know) and resting. There’s probably going to be some World of Warcraft later. There’s definitely going to be work on Conri’s trim, but mostly, today is the day to scale Mt. Doom – I mean, Mt. Laundry. That means that I get to listen to podcasts! I’m working my way through several, including Living with the Gods and A Pagan Heart in Maine. We’ll see what today’s playlist holds.

A return to (hopefully) normalacy (personal/spiritual/writing)

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and it’s kind of thrown me for a loop, which is why I haven’t been posting. Another death (and goddess, how I hate typing those words) disrupted everything. I re-set myself a bit by doing some coifs to help out a friend and sent them off, and by helping my niece and nephew get married, and now I’m ready to start again. As I’ve been reminded lately, time is a river – we move in one direction. Even if we feel like we’re stuck somewhere, we’re still moving. And sometimes, you just have to go with the flow until you feel like you can swim again. 

For those who may have missed it – the second Molly book is out! 

I’ve also been listening to books lately – I just finished Derelict: Marines by Paul E. Cooley, and I’m almost done with Libery Station by Terry Mixon (yes, I’m on a SF kick lately), and that’s made me realize that I need to write again. So, we’re writing. I want to have Winter Mysteries done before NaNo starts, so I can work on something new for November. And no, I really haven’t decided what. I might just work on either Blue or Abby and see which one takes off.

I’m preparing for winter, too. I know how weird that sounds, when it’s still August and technically summer, but I’m moving myself into a more pagan mindset, and since Lammas is already past (August 1), we’re in the harvest festivals. It’s fall, and we’re moving towards when the earth settles back and rests before growing again in the spring. Many pagans use Samhain (October 31) as their new year, and I’ve decided to do that as well this year. My winter will be a time of resting, of planning for the energy of the spring, of enjoying a quiet time. I’m not going to be going at the same speed I do during the summer. I’m learning to live in harmony with the seasons.

There may be more pagan-type stuff in the blog as I work through this. I know not all my readers are pagan, so I will be tagging things again in the header. If you are not interested, feel free to skip those posts. But this is something I need to discover about myself, and work through, and, well, it’s my blog. You’re welcome to come along for the ride. 

Weekly news round-up, the slightly late edition

So yeah, it’s been a few weeks. First I had an eye infection, complete with an ulcerated cornea, which meant absolutely no screen time. Then I went away to GNEW and was busy taking down my pavilion and driving home, so there was no posting. I meant to do it Monday, but I woke up with a migraine and, well. Yeah. So it’s been a while.


Today, I am the only one at Creatives. It’s a rainy day, and I’m enjoying the Acoustic Covers playlist on Sp0tify, and reveling in the fact that I don’t have a migraine. I have a chai latte with almond milk, an iced raspberry green tea, and, for the first time in a LONG time, a workable plot for Advent this year! YAY!


You guys, you have no idea how happy I am to have a plot. Carter’s Cove is easily my most popular story, but it’s HARD to write. Plot-wise, anyways. Because see, bodies and violence and save the world are easy to plot. It’s the fluffy, feel-good but not be total sugar because that’s boring stuff that is hard.


I’m also going back on a mini-reset this week – doing a Whole10 with my Facebook group. I need to get back on the wagon, and this seems the best way to do it. Also, I’m adding in a fitness goal, because I want to get my stamina up. Also, I need to get more Pokemon. Because, well, Pokemon won’t walk themselves.


Since I haven’t been posting, I’m going to just start my goals over.


Oh, and I finished Hope Never Dies and I have to write a review. Mini review: I loved it. I also saw Ant Man and the Wasp yesterday. Go see it – it’s fun.


Morning Pages: Going for all 7 days, per normal.

Non-writing goals: 1 more coif made for Her Highness for Pennsic. I want to do 2 more if I can, but the goal is 1. Also, 2+ hours on Conri’s trim. I’ve got 1 cuff for that done, and need 1 more cuff, the neckline, 2 sides, and the hem.

Writing goals: Plot out Advent this week. I can do this long-hand.

Fitness goals: Make my step goal (currently 3500 steps per day) all 7 days.