Book Review – Book All The Teachers! by James Bartlett Parry.

James Parry’s semi-fictionalized (10%, give or take) memoir of the last five years of his thirty-year career as a middle school educator is at once, both hilarious and sobering. Hilarious as only middle school (or Jr. High) with all the hormones, awkwardness, and antics can be. And sobering when Parry masterfully lays bare the true plight of teachers everywhere dealing with bureaucracy, poverty, and a lack of parental involvement. However, despite the sometimes heavy content, Parry’s acerbic and occasionally goofy wit, keeps this book readable and entertaining.

The book begins on an average school day in Parry’s twenty-fifth year of teaching. When he arrives at work he finds the head custodian quickly changing a spray painted, “F**k All The Teachers” into “Book All The Teachers” with his own can of spray paint. At first Parry is upset by the graffiti until he turns the corner to find the colorful epithet continued on to say “Excep Parry.” Deciding this is the best possible compliment from a middle school hoodlum, we then watch James “…float through the door, skip down the back hall, pirouette through the gymnasium, and do the happy dance as I (he) enter(s) the public office.”

This first introduction into Parry’s world is a good example of the ups and downs throughout the book. Middle school has always been a roller coaster ride for the kids (as I’m sure we all remember), but James Bartlett Parry gives us a look at that wild ride from the teachers end of things. Due to the nature of the middle school experience, Parry has included a WARNING section before the Contents page. I believe it is worthy of being included here verbatim.

“WARNING – With its adolescent humor, convoluted sentence structure and many asides, the book is best enjoyed when accompanied by a bottle — or box — of cheap wine; or, perhaps Ice-house Beer would be a more fitting compliment. If you like parentheses, em-dashes, commas, and semicolons (and, hey, who doesn’t?), you’ll love this book.”

Honestly, I did. Well done, Parry.

Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Sneak Peek! An excerpt from Lilac City Lunacy

Hey everyone, if you’ve been looking forward to Volume 2 of the Luna Chronicles – Lilac City Lunacy, here’s a quick snippet to whet your appetite. An unedited scene with our favorite werewolf sheriff, Stan McKenna. Enjoy!

Spokane County Sheriff, Stan McKenna was having a bad week. A bad month if he were to be honest. The Lilac city, as Spokane was known, was inundated with hostility. Small fights had been breaking out more and more frequently. At first, Stan had chalked it up to increased gang activity and people working out the agitation of cabin fever after such a harsh winter. There was always a period between the winter chill and summer heat criminals took advantage of, but things had continued to happen.

            He realized something was truly messed up when he responded to what he thought was a prank call. There were a few on the force that might feel they owed him payback for bringing in donuts glazed with sour sugar and jalapeno dust. His fellow officer’s faces had both mottled and puckered while they cursed him out roundly. At the time he’d laughed so hard he thought he might have strained something, so he wouldn’t put it past his fellow officers to create a strange scenario just to mess with him. Unfortunately when he pulled up in front of his aunt Gena’s Sew Easy Too fabric shop, what he saw through the big front window was no joke.

            Four old women were facing off with each other. Two against two, all hollering at the top of their lungs while brandishing knitting needles. One of the ladies stepped forward and poked her opponent as Stan was getting out of his car. He moved faster when the poked woman’s eyes grew wild and her knitting hand turned the needle from a parrying position to a thrusting position. Good grief, she might just kill someone! The chimes above the doorway tinkled loudly as he entered. The sound distracted the women just long enough for him to place himself in the middle of the group. He unleashed a touch of Alpha charm hoping to diffuse the situation then put his hands up and spun in a small circle to smile at every one of them. His physical size forced them all to step back a bit. “Now, ladies. What’s going on here?”

            If he’d expected the torrent of clucking, spluttering, ferociousness that would spew from them he’d never have asked. At first, he couldn’t make out a word they were saying. After a moment he was sorry he could. He heard phrases drop from their sweet, grandmotherly lips that he hoped he’d never hear again. Betty White couldn’t do as well if she were fully drunk and witnessed someone beating their dog. There are just some things you can’t un-hear and Stan was wishing for a gallon of brain bleach when he finally caught onto a thread of the real problem. They were arguing over whose grandchildren were the smartest!

            He almost started laughing at how ridiculous it was, but as they continued arguing those knitting needles were again put into use. One of the ladies, a 4’9″ Latina with dyed brown hair in a loose bun, reached around him with her shiny red implement to prod another woman. He thought he heard one of them call the poker, Rosalinda, and the pokee, Agnes. Rosalinda was wearing a soft pink t-shirt and black shorts. Her target, Agnes, had short silvery hair and big coke bottle glasses. She was wearing a white, short-sleeved blouse and khaki slacks. She was also holding a long, olive green knitting needle low and at the ready.

            The other two women facing off looked like twins. Both stooped with age, they had short, curly, gray hair and baby blue eyes. One had a pair of glasses dangling from a chain, the other had them propped on top of her head. Both were wearing floral pattern cotton dresses topped by pale blue, loosely knit cardigans and both had short wooden knitting needles. From the cacophony of bickering, he plucked the names, Janet and Jess, before he’d finally had enough.

            Drawing himself to his full 6’5″ height, Stan quickly plucked the knitting needles away from each woman, put his hands on his hips and shouted. “SILENCE!”

            All four women turned their eyes upon him and if he hadn’t been such a big man, or a Sheriff, or a Guardian, Stan might have run away. Instead, he cleared his throat and with all the authority he could muster he tried to reason with them. “Ladies. . .

Book review: The Telling Mirror by M.G. Nelson.

Book review: The Telling Mirror by M.G. Nelson.

A couple of months ago I ran a thread on Twitter asking Indie Authors to send links to their books. Happily, my TBR pile grew quite a bit! M.G. Nelson’s YA fantasy, The Telling Mirror, was one of many on my now long reading list and I’m so glad Nelson posted it!

How much trouble can a rebellious teen and her cat get into? Oh, so much.

Signe Erickson’s parents are gone. Her father left years ago. Her mother lost to drugs is undergoing rehab. Now Signe – Sig for short – lives ungratefully with her Aunt Char and Uncle Dan, on their farm. Acting out in various ways she’s stretching her families patience to the max, testing them at every turn. When Dan finally confronts her she runs to her quiet place only to end up stumbling into another world. Just her and the annoying barn cat, Reggie, who is no longer a cat.

Together, Sig and Reggie must cross this new land and search out Sig’s father. How he ended up here they really don’t know, but then again, they don’t know how they got here either! Setting out with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a flashlight, a backpack, and a plastic baggie carrying $200 cash they begin their treacherous trek into the unknown.

This grand adventure is filled with dangerous travels, creepy characters, brave warriors, evil royals, kind commoners, fairies, centaurs, giants, and more! Reminiscent of both The Wizard of Oz and The Narnia Chronicles, it is filled with good lessons about self-reliance, kindness to others, determination, sacrifice, and faith. This book, first in The Telling Mirror Series, is one I would feel good sharing with my kids.

If you enjoy YA books with good values and interesting twists, purchase this one today! https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Mirror-Melissa-G-Nelson/dp/0997819111

Book review – The Van Helsing Paradox, by Evelyn Chartres

Book review – The Van Helsing Paradox, by Evelyn Chartres

Clara Grey notices things. Things nobody else will allow themselves to see. It is this ability, this willingness to believe, that makes Miss Grey the perfect candidate for training to be a monster hunter.

In Chartres’ story we follow Clara from her early childhood traumas, through years of rigorous academic and religious training in the Tower, and eventually into adulthood with all its temptation, danger, and twists of fate. Inquisitive, intelligent, bold, and brave, Miss Grey ends up traveling the world via the mystical portals of the Tower’s Terminus, seeking out monsters to slay. She’s learned her lessons well and is a force to be reckoned with. Like the books tag line states, “A gal has to look out for herself after all.”

Well written and smart, The Van Helsing Paradox is a fresh take on monster hunting and monster hunters. In it Chartres has built a world simmering with intrigue and violence. A world at war both politically and spiritually. Set around the time of World War 1, the readers are plunged into layer after layer of horror and discovery.

If you are looking for a good summer read (or fall, or winter, or whatever!) pick up The Van Helsing Paradox today! **link below** https://g.co/kgs/fCdyPk

Gerald Ringtail and his Battlepus!

Not sure how many of you use Twitter, but I’m on there everyday and I follow the Spokane Authors & Self-Publishers account. They don’t post every day but when they do, it’s usually pretty fun. Well this time they’ve started a May writers challenge, the Sunday Image Prompt. Click the link for original post. https://twitter.com/AndAuthors/status/1125154547083530242

The #SundayImagePrompt promises a new, strange image to write about every week. Here’s their first image prompt. Fun huh?

Well, after seeing this, I just HAD to take them up on the challenge. Enjoy my entry below, and if you like it, I may just continue the story! *********************************************************

Gerald picked up and hefted his great grandfather’s sword a few times. Not his usual weapon, it felt strange and unwieldy in his paw. Still, despite his lack of experience, he knew it was time to join the fight to save his beloved homeland. He shoved the blade into it’s sheath and tied it tightly to his pack before grabbing one more acorn for the road. As he chewed, he looked around at his home knowing he may never see it again.

His bed looked strangely naked, it’s coverlet stashed in his pack. His tool chest closed and locked for the first time in years also looked odd. Due to the commanders weight restrictions for backpacks he’d had to leave the tools of his trade at home. Though, he did make one concession and brought along his favorite wrench. (A squirrel never knew when he’d have to loosen the odd tough nut!) The desk, usually a disorganized mess, was now neatly arranged. His neighbor, Ruth, had promised to take care of his affairs while he was gone and he wanted to make it easy for her. Cleaning that up had been a major task, of course, nothing like what he was heading to. Stories from the front lines had been bleak, at best.

One last bite of acorn and Gerald knew it was time to leave. His precious books lined the walls around him. Many, worn by time, lent a distinguished warmth to his home. Others, still shiny and new, graced his to-be-read shelf. To those he silently promised to return. Gerald loved his books. Through them he’d learned much and lived many adventures, but now it was time to embark on a real one. With a last sorrowful glance, he closed the door to his comfy home and began the long walk to the training camp.

On the second day of his journey, a young jack rabbit stumbled into the road ahead of him. Upon seeing Gerald, the rabbit waved and hollered, “Hullo there! Is this the road to Commander Coyote’s basic training camp?”

“Why, yes it is. I’m headed there myself.”

The jack rabbit gave Gerald a buck toothed grin. “Great! Do you mind if I travel with you?”

“Not at all. I’d appreciate the company. My name is Gerald. What’s yours?”

“Nice to meet you, Gerald,” the rabbit extended a paw, “my name is Conrad.”

The two shook paws before resuming their trek and Conrad resumed speaking.

“I take it you don’t have a mount either?”

Gerald grimaced. “No, I used to have a tree frog, but she met an unfortunate end when a flock of cranes decided to take a break and landed all around her.”

Conrad shuddered. “Oh that’s horrid. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you,” Gerald sighed. “She was a faithful frog, but she was old and had started to wander further and further from the paddock. It was bound to happen eventually.”

Conrad nodded knowingly. After a moment of silence he asked, “Did you hear about the mounts on the battlefield?”

When Gerald shook his head the rabbit continued. “I heard that all sorts of mounts are available but they only ever award mounts to the best of the best, and rather than the soldier choosing their mount, the mount chooses them!”

When Gerald looked askance at Conrad, he shrugged. “Hey, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard. It’s weird though, isn’t it? How would a mount choose it’s rider?”

“Maybe it’s magic.” Gerald offered. When Conrad remained silent, he looked up at his new companion only to find him a few feet behind with a stunned expression on his face. “What’s wrong, Conrad?”

“No. . . Nothing. It’s just, that would explain so much! My grandpa always spun yarns about his time in the militia and talked about the magical mounts used by the elite soldiers during the Greenleaf war. I always thought he was just, ya know, embellishing his stories. But after what I’ve heard from others, maybe he was telling the truth after all.”

“Maybe,” Gerald adjusted his pack, “but we’ll never find out if we don’t keep walking. Let’s get moving. We’ve only got a few more miles to go before we reach the river crossing. Another day’s travel after that and we’ll reach the training camp. Then we’ll know more about all of this.”

Conrad nodded. “You’re right.” He caught up with his new squirrel friend and they resumed walking. “So, if you were to become an elite soldier, what kind of mount do you think would pick you?”

Gerald chuckled. “I don’t know but with my luck, I’d probably end up with a platypus!”

#BlogBattle – Shift

So this month’s Blog Battle word prompt is “shift” and if you’ve been following me for any length of time you KNOW I had to respond to this. 😉 Here is my 1,000 word (+ or -) entry. Enjoy.

Artist unknown but appreciated.

June 10, 2018

This is my first entry in what Walt’s been calling the Luna Chronicles. It’s basically a glorified personal journal, except it’s supposed to help other Luna’s – eventually. To anyone reading this, please understand that I am no Shakespeare. I’m just doing my best. So here goes.

Becoming a Guardian has been tough but rewarding. I never realized just how much there is to learn OR that I’d have to journal about it! I mean really, who knew visual tracking, botany, and martial arts would be needed? I’m already a werewolf. Everything should come instinctively, right? Wrong.

Granted, I’ve enjoyed the martial arts. It’s something I never thought I’d be able to do considering how sick I was before my first shift. Lupus had put me down hard. It didn’t just limit my movement due to pain, it shrunk my world by interfering with my social and family life. I was always afraid to go too far from home in case I suddenly ran out of steam, or hurt myself in some new and stupid way. Queen of the klutzy, I am, but it was SO much worse with chronic illness issues. Thank God, Sherryl’s been really patient with me despite my klutziness. I can’t believe I nearly knocked her block off with that round house kick! I honestly didn’t think I could move that fast. Good thing we heal quickly.

Botany has been interesting and I’m really glad I’ll be able to identify and avoid poison ivy from now on. Yeah, tripping into that huge patch sucked. Of course that was during my tracking lesson with Stan, Alpha of the Eastern Washington Guardians. Despite his laughter, I’ll never be able to repay him for helping me up and out of that mess. His hands looked almost as horrible as my everything for two days, even with our accelerated healing ability. Ugh.

Shifting has come most easily to me. Ninety-nine percent of the time I stick the landing, so to speak, moving easily from human to wolf and back without issue. That pesky one percent though is a tad worrisome.

I only seem to have issues when I get too tired or emotional, like after that three day flu the kids went through. Of course my lucky husband, Hank, avoided it altogether since his boss just happened to schedule him to go to a conference on those days. I’m still not sure how I escaped getting it, but so glad I did! It was horrible. Poor Matt and Tammy. They must have each lost ten pounds the hard way. Thank God for Sherryl! I’m not sure I’d have been able to handle working, studying, and running between rooms for that long if she hadn’t been dropping off food for me and medicine for the kids.

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to force myself to take in the currently required 12,000 calories a day while emptying barf buckets every hour or so. Ewww. Sorry, but this journal is supposedly for posterity and Walt told me not to leave ANYTHING out. So yeah, Walt, you asked for it.

Back to the one percent problem. Sorry about the bunny trail. Anyway, after those three days I was wiped out. So with the kids on the mend and finally able to keep food down I needed to get out for a bit. I called Jennifer and invited her out for a run. We’ve been spending more time together recently and I’m enjoying getting to know her. She’s a lovely person, smart, beautiful, hard working, and a talented painter, though she refuses to show her work outside of her home. She’s also single and looking. I can’t imagine how hard dating would be as a woman werewolf. How many guys can handle not just her success as a realtor, but her ability to outrun, outsmart, outplay them AND smell a lie? It has to be like the worst mash-up of Survivor and The Bachelorette ever!

Wow, I bunny trailed again. Sorry. So as I was saying, Jennifer and I were going running. I was exhausted but needed to stretch my legs before hitting the hay for the night. We drove her car and headed to the Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park. There’s great trails around there and I hoped we could make a quick three mile loop. Making the Change from human to wolf was no problem. Running the darkened trail was no problem. Getting back to her car was no problem. The problem came when I tried to Change back.

I felt good after the run, but apparently hadn’t accurately gauged how low on energy I was. By the time Jennifer had Changed and gotten dressed, I still hadn’t been able to find my human form. Jennifer tried to help “push” me through but I was stuck.

I was a little wigged out but Jennifer remained calm. She called Walt who told me to just sleep in my wolf form and try again in the morning. He said he’d call back at 8:00 am to check on me. Jennifer proved herself amazing yet again when she drove me home, roused the kids to inform them of the situation, then helped me up to my room. She brought up a bowl of water and a tray of cold chicken she found in the fridge. I hate to say it but I quite literally wolfed down her offerings. Ten hours later I woke up human only to find she’d set the timer on my coffee maker as well.

I haven’t had any issues shifting since but now I know, burning the candle at both ends for too long can result in a seriously hairy situation. Yup, I said it. You’re welcome, Walt.

#TBT – Glad I hired a local artist for my book cover!

Down sick for the last few days, I haven’t gotten much writing done. In fact, I haven’t gotten much of anything done other than to wonder when I’d be able to get anything done. Yeah, it’s been like that. Today, however, I began thinking about my current work in progress (wip) – Lilac City Lunacy.

Building a fantasy world full of characters, plot twists, heroes and villains, is not easy. There’s so much to be done, and though I’m still lagging with little energy I figured I could doodle a few ideas for the cover. Now, I’m no artist. Oh, I can do some silly little line drawings but with about as much talent and flare as a duck using a fountain pen. Still, it’s enough to give a real artist a better idea of what I want. I did this with my first book, Waxing is Useless. In fact, I hired one of the local artists I’d previously interviewed for this blog, Shannon Potratz .

His sense of humor, talent, and accessibility made him the perfect choice for my cover. Let me show you what I mean. On my first visit to his office I handed him this.

My line drawing

And after a follow up visit he created this, and I love it!

Image by Shannon Potratz

Close by and easy to collaborate with I am still amazed by and grateful for his artistry, especially as I have NO experience with graphic art. Worth every penny, he made it so easy for me, as a self-publisher, to load everything up and put it to print. If you are a writer / self-publisher with little to no artistic talent, I highly recommend getting to know your local artists. Beside potentially finding someone great to work with, I just think it’s awesome for local authors to support local artists and vice verse.

Review of ‘Return From Armageddon’ by Sue Eller

Review of ‘Return From Armageddon’ by Sue Eller

In Sue Eller’s world, the people of Earth have finally united under one flag and formed one government with the capital situated in Las Vegas. LAS FREAKIN’ VEGAS, BABY! Of course, despite unification, where there are people there is strife both political and religious.

Two ambitious leaders – one High Priestess and one top General – seek to secure ultimate power by uniting church and government via marriage of convenience. This power couple will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. Things go awry however, when a massive armada of alien spaceships appear within their solar system. Can another couple, a dead woman and a truck driver, save the world? Maybe, maybe not.

At only 183 pages, this science fiction story is full of intrigue, murder, aliens, a smidge of true love and Biblical parallels that set it apart from typical sci-fi. If you’re looking for an interesting read, this is the book for you.

BOOOOOOKS!!!

BOOOOOOKS!!!

Do you love books? Are you a total bookworm? Love to talk about them and share your favorites? Have you written a book and need another easy marketing opportunity? Well, here it is. I’m going to post a link to my book, and another to my 2 fave authors / series. I invite you to do the same in the comments (They’ll show up on the About page).

Whether you’ve written a book or just want to share fave series, let’s see it!

Here’s mine.  Waxing is Useless  smallwerewolf

Here are my 2 favorite authors / series.

Patricia Briggs’ – Mercy Thompson Series Mercy Thompson (10 Book Series) by  Patricia Briggs

And Kerrelyn Sparks’ – Love at Stake Series Love at Stake (15 Book Series) by  Kerrelyn Sparks

Now tell me and everyone else about yours. 🙂

Spokane werew’elves – A happy howlidays  story / #BlogBattle entry.

Spokane werew’elves – A happy howlidays story / #BlogBattle entry.

Fresh snow sifted through the forest canopy to dust the sparkling carpet of the previous day’s record twenty-five inches. Low overnight temperatures had created a thick crust on top of the snow making it easier for the pack to get to the designated spot. Stan had chosen the meeting place very carefully. He wanted everything to be perfect for what he had planned.

The Alpha parked his Jeep just off a service road. Normally no one but rangers and firefighters used it, but Sheriff plates came in handy at times. Stan rounded the back of the car and pulled a large bundle and a pair of snow shoes out of the trunk. Time to get to work.

Two hours later, he had everything set. Lifting his nose, he scented the air. Powdery snow was still falling but his nose told him it would stop soon. It also told him his pack was getting near. He checked on his preparations one last time, then cleared the snow off a nearby stump to sit and wait. It wasn’t long before the soft crunching of paws reached his sensitive ears. One by one, pack members began to appear, slipping out of the shadows and into the moonlit grotto. Moving with purpose, they formed a circle around the perimeter of the clearing.

Walt was in charge of bringing their newest pack members, Miranda and Seif, and was set to arrive last. An easy enough task as he lead them in human form while they followed as wolves. This was done on purpose so the two couldn’t pepper him with questions via mind speak. He couldn’t answer them even if he wanted to however because Stan had sworn him to secrecy. Hefting his pack, Walt tightened his snow shoe bindings and grinned in anticipation as he lead them into Riverside State Park. His heart was light; he loved this time of year.

Twenty minutes later the trio entered the clearing and paused at the perimeter the pack had created. Walt stepped through the circle of wolves and motioned his two charges to follow him into the middle where Stan stood waiting. The sheriff, in his street clothes, grinned merrily as he greeted everyone.

“Spokane Guardians, thank you for coming on this beautiful winter night. Tonight we welcome two new helpers into our yearly endeavor.”  He gestured toward Miranda and Seif and the pack reacted with happy yips and chuffs before he continued. “Seif, Miranda, every year our pack adopts families in need and as the holidays approach we collect goods and gifts to deliver to them. This tradition has been handed down, Guardian to Guardian, pack to pack, for hundreds of years and tonight you join our happy band as apprentice elves!”  With his last word, Stan bent over and flipped the switch on a small generator. The pine tree behind him lit up and flooded the snow covered clearing with multi-color light. Bundles of gifts surrounded the base of the tree, as well as one strange pile of fabric with glittery bands. Miranda and Seif, their tongues lolling out in wolfy smiles, stared at the beautiful tableau until Stan began to speak again. “For those of you who’ve done this before, you know the drill. Please line up behind our newest helpers.”

The pack settled in behind Seif and Miranda, chatting happily about their individual holiday traditions while Stan disappeared behind the tree. Walt moved to the forefront to speak to the pack and cleared his throat loudly to get their attention. He was obviously holding something behind his back and Miranda scented mischievous mirth wafting off him. She threw a look at Seif then turned back to eye Walt, tilting her head in question. The old goat chuckled and winked before lifting his voice.

“As the newest members of our Secret Santa Brigade, you two,” he motioned to them, “get to don the honorary head gear!” Pulling his hands from behind his back, Walt approached the duo with red and green striped elf hats with large elastic bands.  He placed one on each of their large canine heads and stepped back. “Behold,” he shouted, “Santa’s newest helpers!” The pack howled their approval, some with obvious laughter, and a few puns were cast to the duo.

Hey, you two look great! You’ve really pulled your ‘elves’ together!

Too bad wolves can’t use phones, you two should really take an ‘elfie’ together!

Good thing we switched to hats. Rudolf noses would have interfered with your ‘elf’factory senses!

While the pack groaned at the puns Miranda and Seif looked at each other and chuffed out wolfy chuckles. They looked ridiculous but it was for a good cause so, grinning, they made a small bow to their fellow pack members. When they turned back around Walt asked them to wait, executed an awkward turn in his snow shoes, and slowly made his way back to the tree where he picked up the strange glittery pile. “All right, come here and let’s get you situated.”

Miranda and Seif padded forward to sit in front of their Beta. He shook out one of the bundles and held it up. It was a large harness with saddle bags attached. In each bag there were several small bundles with names and addresses on them. Moving steadily, Walt attached a harness to each of the 14 Guardians. When he was done they sat chatting amongst themselves as they waited for Stan to reappear.

The time waiting was definitely well spent as far as Miranda was concerned. The Alpha stepped out from where he’d been changing and appreciative sounds emanated from the pack. Stan was now sporting a beautiful old fashioned Santa Suit. The dark red coat that fell to his knees was closed with a sash and trimmed with a light golden fur, as were his thick, black leather mittens and boots. An intricately hand-knit scarf wound around his neck held three small jingle bells at each end. The bells caught the lights and sparkled against his chest. Well over 6 foot 4, with fiery red hair and beard, Miranda thought Stan made an impressive Father Christmas!

Catching her errant thought, Stan smiled. Thank you, Miranda.

You’re welcome. Miranda grinned ruefully. I’m still not used to this mind speak stuff, though.

Neither am I. Seif admitted. But she’s right. You make a striking Saint Nick.

Stan inclined his head to the two of them then the Santa Alpha directed the wolves toward the northern edge of the clearing, across from where Walt had lead them in. A small red sleigh with gold accents and runners awaited them. The Guardians once again formed two lines and Stan moved along them attaching the leads. Miranda couldn’t believe they were going to run around town pulling him like sled dogs, but was so excited to do so! She glanced at Seif and he looked just as thrilled though obviously confused.

How are we able to do this without freaking out the town folk? Seif asked.

People see what they want or expect to see so as far as the town folk go, they’ll just think you all are big sled dogs. The reins, bells, and hats add to the disguise. Plus we’ll be sticking to the shadows as much as possible. Don’t worry, you two. We’ve been doing this for years.

Satisfied by the explanation, Miranda and Seif settled in to wait. When the last lead was connected Stan mounted the small sleigh, picked up the reigns, and with a booming voice called out, “On Guardians, pack members, my family and friends. Let’s make this a merry Christmas for as many folks as possible!”

Before the pack could move, Miranda turned to look back and broadcast a thought to her Alpha. You couldn’t find a rhyme for friends to end that with, could you?

Stan chuckled. Nope, but I did find this.” He pulled his cell phone out of a pocket, ran his finger over it, then held it up and waved it once, sharply. The sound of a cracking whip broke the serene silence and the two new helpers eyes widened in shock.

Are you kidding me with that? Miranda squeaked a split second before the pack’s laughter erupted. She and Seif looked at their fellow Guardians. They’d all been in on this.

“You two should see your faces right now.” Stan chuckled.

Miranda and Seif, now chuckling along, shook their great furry heads and took off pulling the sleigh across the snow, as the entire pack yipped and howled with joy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!