The Life and Times of Napoleon

Less than a month ago, my family said goodbye to one of our dogs. He was 16 years old and had been losing the battle with a brain tumor since November last year. We knew it was finally time to say goodbye because he would get up and eat breakfast each day and after that just sit down and stare at a wall. He had zero enthusiasm for anything. He was also struggling to walk and use the bathroom. His quality of life was gone.

Napoleon, before things went sideways, 2020

Despite that, it was still hard to say goodbye. My husband and I only have one child, and our pets are like our babies. And I know 16 years is a nice life for a dog, but I must be selfish because I don’t care. I wanted him to live longer. It’s been a few weeks and I still have to stop myself from getting him a plate at meals times like I do for the other pets.

In addition to missing him like crazy, I’ve been thinking back on his life with us. He had a good life. I’m not saying that to sound superior. We take good care of our pets. They are important to us.

The absence of Napoleon has left a dachshund sized hole in my heart. I wish we could have had more time together, and I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Napoleon was the first dog we adopted. We actually adopted him after we went on a 9 day camping trip to Yellowstone. At the time in 2004, my husband and I were young and newly married. We went to Yellowstone and camped, really camped, in a tent, without showers, on the ground. While we were there we ran trails, (this was a long time ago when I still ran), and we swam in the lakes. We saw so many people camping with their dogs, and on that trip we decided we were going to get a dog so that next year when we went camping, we would have one too.

Shortly after that trip, we adopted Napoleon. I don’t know how we decided on a mini dachshund, but when I saw him, I knew he was ours. We brought him home and introduced him to our cat, Electra.

Napoleon on his first day with us and me circa 2004

The next spring, we decided to go camping again. We were excited because we would finally get to take Napoleon with us. We had been taking him running on trails throughout the fall and spring and he enjoyed that, so we figured he would enjoy camping.

The first night of our camping trip, he couldn’t sleep. He paced and paced the tent looking for a real bed. (At home he slept in bed between my husband and I). Not only would he not sleep because sleeping on the ground was not his style, he acted like being outside was too hot. He clearly wanted to know where the AC was. My husband and I thought he was hilarious. We figured he would adjust; we were planning on staying 5 days.

The second day of our trip, we went swimming in the lake, and of course we took Napoleon with us. It turns out he was an excellent swimmer. He looked like a river otter and he was pretty fast.

Napoleon, the indoor dog

My husband and I would take turns carrying him out into the lake, and the other would wait closer to the shore. Then, we would release Napoleon and he swam to other person. After about the sixth time of this, Napoleon figured out our game and instead of swimming to the waiting arms of my husband, he veered right and went for the shore. Once on shore, he took off running.

My husband jumped out of the lake and followed. I got out of the lake and waited for them to return, but after twenty minutes, they didn’t show up. I gathered our clothes, picnic things, and floats and waddled my way down the path back to the campground. On the way back, I passed a family heading to the lake. I asked them if they’d seen a tall man and a short dog running on the path. They laughed and pointed back towards camp informing me that they were all the way back at our campsite.

I found them both there. My husband was laughing. Napoleon was supposed to be our camping companion. He HATED camping. He wanted his bed and indoor air, but most of all, he didn’t want to swim.

We didn’t stay a full five days and cut that trip short to three days. After that, we didn’t take Napoleon camping anymore. He didn’t turn out to be outdoorsy, and that’s okay.

He was still the best dog ever.

Big Yawn for Napoleon, and yes, that’s his bed

February 2021 prompt

I am so behind this month… but I’m trying to get back on track. I don’t know what the deal is. I think it’s the weather. I just don’t feel like doing anything. I’ve spent way too much time watching tv lately.

In an effort to get things back on track and not start March off behind, here is this month’s short story prompt:

He wasn’t sure how he was able to do the math problems in his head like that. He just closed his eyes and the numbers found their places, like trained dancers, or like…

Complete the Story

Just like last year, my short stories each month will be connected; however, this year I’m starting with new characters and a new world. If you missed the first story, click the following link to get caught up: Magical Lineage.

In addition to being connected, I try to write a minimum of 1000 words for each short story and my goal is to post it by the end of the month.

If you want to write a story too using the prompt, I would love to read someone else’s take!

Happy reading and writing this month!

Magical Lineage

January 2021’s short story of the month (sorry it’s late)


I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her that her father and I had loved her from the very first time we saw her, and that we couldn’t imagine having any one but her as a daughter.

She just sat there glaring at me with that smug teenage face full of angst. She wanted me to say it. For some reason I didn’t understand, it was like she was trying to draw it out of me by sure force of will. She didn’t give up until I told her the truth, no matter how much it hurt both of us to finally say it.

One week prior

I didn’t like the idea of Daisy-May going to school. I mean, Daisy. She had asked me all summer to stop calling her Daisy-May. She was starting high school and she wanted to go by Daisy now, just Daisy. I told her that her name was Daisy-May, like I always did when she mentioned it, but after the first dozen or so arguments and the sighs that tugged at my heart strings, I relented and started calling her Daisy. Her father called her sweetpea or princess or sweetheart, and she never challenged him about it.

I needed to accept that Daisy and I were now standing on two sides of a battle that I didn’t want to be in. She was a teen and growing up, and I, her still cool and very hip mother, was in fact neither hip nor cool.

Until this year, I’d taught Daisy at home. The schools were decent enough in our neighborhood, but I knew my Daisy was a special kid, and I wanted to teach her myself. Until this summer, she hadn’t asked to go to public school, but once it came up, I knew she wouldn’t back down.

Her father and I had several fights about it. Finally, I decided I couldn’t argue anymore. We enrolled Daisy in school, and today was her first day at public high school. I figured she would come home and tell us all about her new friends, that we would not approve of, but say nothing about.

I wasn’t prepared for what she asked when she walked in the door that afternoon. The whole day I wandered around the house cleaning things and picking up things, but there wasn’t much to do. By lunch time I was lost and alone in my own house.

I tried to read a book but ended up re-reading the same sentence over and over and finally gave up. I tried to watch tv but nothing held my attention. I ended up daydreaming and not accomplishing anything for the rest of the day.

Daisy came in the door and the smile I spied as she came up the walk, instantly disappeared the moment she looked at me.

“Why is my magic different than yours and dads?” Daisy asked. She didn’t wait for an answer. She went up the stairs making it a point to stomp each and every step. She stomped down the hall and slammed her door.

I just stood there until my husband came home a couple of hours later. I didn’t say anything to him. I burst into tears. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me.

“Did something happen today?” he asked.

I kept sobbing.

“It couldn’t have been that bad,” he said. “She just went to school.”

I tried to collect myself and through sobs that I couldn’t get under control, I managed to say, “She knows.”

“Knows what?” he asked. All he had to do was look at me to know what I meant.

The next day Daisy went to school. I spent the day lost in my house again. When she came home, she asked the same question, but I didn’t answer. I just shook my head and she stomped off to her room.

That continued for the whole first week of school. On Saturday morning, she sat down at the table and I placed a plate of waffles in front of her. She sighed and went to the living room and slumped with folded arms.

At first I kept moving things around in the kitchen, but I could feel her staring at me the whole time.

I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her that her father and I had loved her from the very first time we saw her, and that we couldn’t imagine having any one but her as a daughter.

Then I launched into a lecture on how magical powers are inherited and that magical families would arrange marriages to increase the chances of having children with multiple forms of magic. These children were usually stronger casters than those who could only control one element.

And then she asked the question I’d been dreading since she was little when her powers first manifested. She had earth magic. My husband used water magic and I had time magic.

“Am I adopted?” she asked, punctuating each word to drive home her point. She already suspected the answer, but for some reason she wanted me to admit it.

I couldn’t say the words. She didn’t feel adopted. She was ours. She’d always been ours. I didn’t know how to explain it to her. Because she wanted the truth.

I looked at her and didn’t just see the almost fifteen year old sitting next to me. I saw her the day we brought her home, only a few days old. And I saw her covered in icing on her first birthday. I saw the first time she fell and skinned her knee. I saw the time she chopped her hair and we had to chop the rest to even it out. I saw her face from only a week ago when she was nervous excited about her first day of school. And then I saw her now. She wanted to know who she was.

Hindsight…

This month has been pretty great so far. I’m taking the time and settling into my new routine for the year. (Just in time for it to change again as my daughter might finally get to attend in person school again, which we are both super excited about). However, as I’ve been working on my new goals for this year, I’ve also been reflecting on what I actually accomplished last year. Despite the superbly weird year that it was, it wasn’t all bad.

Here’s what I actually managed to accomplish…

  • Read 40 books (I’ve underlined the ones that were high points in the year for me).
    • The Library of the Unwritten
    • The Starless Sea
    • The Destined Queen
    • Bright Lights, Big City
    • Night and Day
    • The Shadow of the Wind
      • I adored this book. I don’t want to give away the plot but it’s about love and revenge. It’s soooooo good. READ IT.
    • Fledgling
    • Beautiful Darkness
    • Grand Union
    • Locke and Key Vol.1
    • Batman Arkham: Black Mask
    • Mastiff
    • Predator’s Gold
    • This Mortal Coil
    • Scythe
      • I sat down to read this and didn’t get up till I was done. Imagine being and working for grim reapers in a society where people don’t die anymore…..
    • The Stone Sky
      • This is the third book in a series. If you haven’t, read them all. The series is amazing and this was the perfect end to it.
    • The Girl in the Spider’s Web
    • The Left Hand of Darkness
    • When You Reach Me
    • Cursed
    • The Lovely Bones
    • Follow Me to the Ground
      • This book definitely falls into the “weird tale” category of fiction. It’s bizarre and amazing. I can’t explain it; it’s too weird. Read it.
    • The City We Became
    • This Savage Song
    • Magpie Murders
    • Lost Boy
    • Practical Magic
    • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
    • The Dreaming Vol.2
    • Walk Two Moons
    • Our Dark Duet
    • The Constant Rabbit
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 1
    • Black Market Unicorns
    • Word by Word
      • This is a non-fiction book about how dictionary entries are completed. I found this whole book fascinating, and the author is funny. Great read!
    • The Lost Plot
    • Wayward Son
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 2
    • Born a Crime
    • Shatter Me
  • Wrote and published my second novel
    • If you haven’t heard, the second book in my series is out now on Amaon! Buy your own copy here:
    • Black Market Unicorns
  • Wrote 12 short stories (click the links to see last year’s short stories)
  • Finished a cross stitch gift for my sister
    • I stitched her some flowers with a snarky saying. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve completed. (You can see it below this list).
  • Moved
    • We moved from Kansas to Washington, and even though it was rough, we did it! We are settled in now and everything is going pretty good here. I just can’t wait for the schools to open because my daughter is getting cabin fever!

All in all, it wasn’t a bad year. It was challenging, I’ll give you that. Anyway… let’s move on…

Happy reading and writing this month!

January 2021 Writing Prompt

It’s a new year! And it’s already off to a tense start for a lot of us… I’m trying to focus on the positive. For my family, some good things have already happened this year.

The biggest news for us is we sold a house that we’ve owned for a few years, but we haven’t lived in for 5 years because of moving. I’m so excited to not be a home owner! I know that might sound strange to some, but I’m a worrier. Living across the country from the house and trying to rent it out and care for it has been stressful for me. I’m glad it’s over.

In addition to that, not much has been happening. I’ve been setting my goals and personal projects up for the year. My goals for 2021 are:

  • 1. Read 45 books
  • 2. Complete my third novel (it’s about 2/3 of the way drafted already).
  • 3. Write 12 short stories (return to my blog every month for the short story of the month)
  • 4. Finish my flower needlework project
  • 5. Finish my Grimm Fairy Tale Cross Stitch

I might add to my goals as the year progresses, but for now, I’m starting small.

If you come here to read the prompt and short story every month, let’s get started!!!

The first prompt for the year is:

I sat down next to her on the couch. It was time to start telling the truth. But I couldn’t just dive into the heart of the matter, so I started with the little things. I told her…

Complete the Story

Just like last year, here are the requirements for my short story every month:

  • A. Using the prompt, write a story of at least 1000 words and post by the end of the month
  • B. All 12 stories for the year will be related. They will be in the same “world.” (If you read last year, I wrote about a magical family of sisters and their extended family).

Happy reading and writing this year!!!!

Real Life

December 2020’s short story of the month

As a kid I’d spend almost all of my allowance money on going to the movies. I’d go see a double feature on a Saturday afternoon and emerge from the dark theater into the blinding sunlight, and it seemed like it was the “real” world that was made up and fake. I’d walk home and invent stories about the people in town, like Mr. Roberts, our mailman, who was clearly an evil villain and secretly a vampire.

I wanted desperately for magic to be real and for it to triumph over some unknown emerging power. I wanted to travel to space or find out that I was actually a member of some distant royal family. They’d just misplaced me at birth. The movies were better than the small town I lived in. Everyone was better looking, and even though the obstacles the characters faced were earth-shattering, they always overcame them in the nick of time.

I wanted there to be something more. I didn’t care if it involved danger. I just wanted something to happen. Nothing ever happened here. No one ever murdered anyone because of a tragic love triangle. No criminals set up shop in town. There were no traffickers or smugglers. There wasn’t even a village idiot. I lived in the most boring town in the whole world. The biggest thing that happened this year was the town council voted to put in a stop light. We didn’t even need a stop light. They just wanted to feel “fancy.”

Someone needed to tell them that having a stop light wasn’t fancy. It was needed to control the flow of traffic and prevent accidents. We didn’t even have accidents here, not bad ones anyway.

Our newspaper was filled with pictures of school age children posing with participation trophies alongside the most recent winners of whatever the local charities were raffling off.

Instead of escaping to the movies this Saturday, I was standing on main street like the rest of the town, waiting for the tape cutting ceremony for the new traffic light. As I stood there next to my parents and sister, I scanned the crowd. I knew everyone. I saw all of my class mates. They all looked about as thrilled as I was to be idling along the street for something that I didn’t care about.

As I crowd watched, my eye landed on three girls who attended my school. The oldest was in my grade; her name was Mary. Her younger sisters, Angela and Tilly, were her only friends. They were an odd family. In fact, the more I thought about it, if there was a secret in town, it had to be something relating to their family. They were just slightly off, even for this town.

They kept to themselves, almost exclusively. I couldn’t put my finger on what was out of place about them, but they were an odd bunch. I’d bumped into them once at the movies; they were there with a boy close to their age and a woman I didn’t recognize. It was literally the only time I’d seen them go to the movies. That was fairly odd. It was one of the only things to do around town, and the sisters had only been once in their whole lives.

What did they do all the time? What were they hiding? Their parents weren’t friends with anyone either. They were always polite to everyone, but they weren’t a part of the community in any real way.

I watched the sisters as they looked bored just like the rest of the kids standing around. There was a loud boom as a cannon was fired at town hall. It was followed by the sound of the marching band beginning the parade.

They were actually having a parade for the inauguration of a traffic light. This town was so lame. The parents of the sisters were watching everything with fascination. None of the other parents were that enamored with the situation, but their parents watched everything with a sense of awe and wonder.

The sisters realizing their parents were distracted, used the opportunity to sneak away. I looked up at my own parents. They were carrying on a conversation with the family next to them. I also made a break for it.

I took a few steps away from my family and then checked to see if anyone noticed my movement. Everyone was distracted. I wove my way through the people and got behind the crowd. The longer I was moving, the more everyone pressed forward to watch the parade. I quickly found myself near where the sisters had been standing.

I moved behind the crowd again and searched for them. I didn’t see them anywhere, but there was an alley between the barber shop and the antique store. I dashed towards it but stopped short of turning the corner. Instead, I peaked around. I saw them casually walking arm in arm away from the parade. They turned behind the buildings. I tucked my hands in my pockets and strolled through the alley following in their footsteps. I didn’t want to run because I might draw unwanted attention, but I wanted to know what they were doing.

As I came around the building, I slowed and tried to peak around the corner. I saw them running off towards the park. They were giggling and laughing so I ran after knowing they wouldn’t hear me.

Once they crossed onto the green grass of the park, they all ran straight for the playground. I ran until I was in the park, but made for the trees so I could watch them.

They were just being normal kids. They were climbing and running and sliding. They laughed loudly and freely. I’d never seen them at the playground before. It occurred to me that this was something their family didn’t do very often.

After they’d ran around for several minutes, they made their way to the swings. They each took their own and where swinging back and forth in no time.

I felt like a fool. I’d chased after them hoping to learn their secret but they didn’t have any secret. Other than having an overprotective family. They were just kids.

I was about to leave and return before my family came looking for me. I watched them.

Mary jumped from the swing when it was at its highest point. She didn’t fall clumsily to the ground and land with a thud; instead, she went higher and higher and then gently glided down touching the ground almost gently.

I shook my head. How did she do that?

And then her sisters did it too. They moved in a way that didn’t make sense. How did they float? They should have fallen like every other kid on the swings.

Once they were all back on the ground, they joined hands and spun in a circle chanting a nursey rhyme.

I sat down against the tree. What had I just seen? It didn’t make sense.

I turned to spy on them again, but they were gone. I scanned around but didn’t see them. I walked back towards the noise of the parade. I could hear someone on a glitching mic discussing the momentous occasion.

I felt like I’d just left the movie theater. Nothing felt real. The real world was fake. The sisters were real. I knew it down to my bones.

December’s Prompt

Hello readers! It’s been a big month for me, and because of that, I’m behind with my blogging.

In happy news, my second novel was released this month, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, here is the link to my new novel:

If you came here for this month’s writing prompt, without further ado, here is December’s short story of the month prompt:

As a kid I’d spend almost all of my allowance money on going to the movies. I’d go see a double feature on a Saturday afternoon and emerge from the dark theater into the blinding sunlight, and it seemed like it was the “real” world that was made up and fake. So I’d walk home and invent stories about the people in town, like Mr. Roberts, our mailman, who…

Complete the Story

Like usual, this story will fit into the world I’ve been using for this year’s prompts. Can’t wait to share it with you all!

Happy reading and writing this month!

Double Double

November 2020’s short story of the month

In German it’s called a doppelganger, a look-alike. Literally, a “double-goer.” I stared at the boy in the newspaper article. Was it possible that he wasn’t aware that he had a double out there, just like I didn’t know until today when my cousin showed me the paper?

I was spending the summer with my cousins. We were doing our best to keep out of trouble, but we’d started taking day trips outside of town. We weren’t supposed to, and if their parents found out we were using magic to travel, we’d all be grounded until we were grown.

“He looks just like you,” Mary said. Her sisters nodded in agreement.

“I know. I can see,” I said exasperated. “Does it matter though? Don’t they say that everyone has a double?”

“That’s just something people say to be funny,” said Tilly the youngest of my cousins.

“What if it’s true though? It’s probably just coincidence,” I said.

Mary, Angela, and Tilly all glared at me for being flippant.

We were all casters, and one of the first lessons we learned as children was if it seems like a coincidence, it’s probably magic.

“Should we tell your parents?” I asked.  

They all shook their heads in unison.

“How would we tell them we found a newspaper from out of town?” asked Mary. “They’ll know we left town, and worse, they’ll know we used magic.”

“We’ll be grounded for life,” whispered Angela.

“Okay. Okay. We won’t tell them. Why would a doppelganger of me be here? I don’t live here. I’m just here visiting.”

We were sitting on the patio of an ice cream store. We were splitting a banana split. While Tilly and I had been buying the sundae, Mary and Angela were claiming a table. That’s how they’d found the paper. Someone who’d been here earlier had left it on the table.

That seemed like a coincidence too. It probably wasn’t.

He really did look just like me. He was in the paper for helping save a little kid from drowning at the lake. The article was titled “Local Teen Saves Child.” The article was about how he was a hero, and he was standing there grinning in the picture shaking the hand of the mayor.

If it was a spell, I didn’t see the point.

If we weren’t going to tell my uncle and aunt, we needed to look into it ourselves. That meant more trips to town and more possibilities of being caught.

“What can we do?” I asked. I should have known better than to ask my cousins to help with something like this. Any opportunity to scheme or defy their parents, and they had a habit of taking things too far. I loved them. They were more than family; we’d grown up together and were truly friends. However, they were a handful, especially Mary.

“We’ll start by tracking him down,” said Mary. Her eye twinkled with mischief. She was plotting already.

“We could look him up at the library,” suggested Angela. “The article included his name. I’ll bet he’ll be easy to find.” She was spooning up the melted ice cream and whipped cream.

“It’s a good idea,” I said.

We let Angela finish the ice cream soup before we set out. We didn’t walk there; it was too hot for that. We went behind the shop and teleported to the library.

I loved this town’s library. The architecture was classic from the stone steps and façade to the columns holding up the roof. Stone lions sat on either side of the stairs guarding the knowledge of the collected books.

My cousins and I moved chairs and gathered around one computer. The article said the boy’s name was Cole Mathers. At the keyboard, Mary put his name into a search engine. The article we’d just read was the first hit.

After that all the results we tried took us to information about an adult named Cole Mathers who was well known for founding a town further north. He was also a philanthropist whose vast fortune was left to various charities.

We couldn’t find any other information about the local Cole Mathers. That wasn’t all that surprising; he was a teen after all, just like us. It was odd though that he didn’t have a single social media account. My cousins and I weren’t supposed to use that stuff because our families were backward—most magical families were that way. But non-magic teens were always online. Their whole lives could be found there.

“Try searching for any adults who are local with the last name Mathers,” I whispered to Mary.

We didn’t get any results.

“Why don’t we try an old-fashioned phone book?” suggested Angela. “I saw one on the front counter by a public phone.”

I shrugged. “Might as well try,” I said.

Tilly and Angela left to go search the phone book while Mary and I tried more of the links from our first search. We weren’t having any better luck. Everything we opened was still about the former Cole Mathers, not the teen.

Before long, the other two returned from the front. As they sat, they both shook their heads—no luck then.

“We could try to find him with magic,” said Tilly.

“Shhhhh…,” I said. Other library patrons weren’t paying attention to us, but I didn’t want anyone to over hear us. Most people would assume we were just kids being silly playing some game, but we still needed to be careful. We weren’t the only magical users in the whole world, and if this doppelganger was part of a spell, we might be on someone’s radar already.

“That’s a bad idea,” Angela said.

Mary cleared the computer screen and motioned with her head for us all to follow her.

Back outside in the sun on the library steps, my cousins escalated things. Mary cast a tracking spell on the paper. When I realized what she was doing, I broke it up.

“Don’t do that,” I said. “It might draw him here. We should just tell your mom and dad.”

“Malcom,” said Mary in her exasperated voice. “Don’t be such a baby.”

Interview and Nano #3

This has been an exciting NANOWRIMO for me. This is my third year participating. I’m loving it again, and I’m glad I decided to join. I am at about 38,000 words so far for the month.

In addition to writing like a crazy mad fool, I’ve been busy with some smaller projects.

If you missed it, I was featured in an interview by Literary Express. You can read it here: Amanda’s ‘Block’ | LITERARY EXPRESS.

I also finished my list of editing, and book two in the Magical Realms Adventures went to my editor!

And I’ve almost finished my holiday shopping.

November has been very productive for me so far!

I hope everyone is meeting their writing goals!

Happy reading and writing this month!