Category Archives: Just Stuff

August Must Be When Magic Happens

Gather those beach chairs in a circle, surround yourself with a few tasty beverages and power up the device of choice so you can immerse yourself in the August 2018 Edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

We were provided with the prompt words


and from those thought provoking energies, we filled this issue with our brilliance!

 My personal offerings:

On The Same Page

Invitation Issued

Going Om

The Magical Ice Cream Man

Honored to have you spending the summer with us!  We’ve plenty of beach front property, so bring your friends.

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine


It’s Star Spangled Magic that Happens

Welcome to the July 2018 Edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

We are all spiffed up in our summer gear and giving it our all in the name of good reading!

Our eager scribes took the challenge of the prompt words:


And turned them into offerings, worthy of your time and energy!

Here are my selections for this month, which include a REVIEW of Geoff LePard’s latest book, Apprenticed to my Mother (and there’s a bit of a surprise at the end of the review, so be sure to check it out!)

Hardwired for a Cushy Life

I Hear a Symphony

The Wings of Summer

National Mutt Day

Apprenticed To My Mother

Happy to have you along for the summer!

Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

A licence to print money Episode 9

Here you are, I hope you’re enjoying the story, ‘A measured response.’ Have
you worked out whodunit yet?
So here we are at the end of the story, everything done and dusted.

As I was saying, I’ve just published, ‘A licence to print money: The Port 
Naain Intelligencer.’ It’s available on Amazon at

In it, Benor, who just wants to get paid for some work he’s done, struggles
against corrupt officials, bent bookies, and all manner of other problems.
On the positive side he does get to meet a Magistrate who is also a
performance poet, and young Mutt finds somebody who might even be tougher
than he is.

As with all the stories in the Port Naain Intelligencer collection, you can
read them in any order. It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them in a particular order, but you can dip in and
out of them, you don’t need to start with volume one and work through them

But it struck me that people have got used to me writing about Tallis
Steelyard and might need reintroducing to young Benor. So I decided that I’d
write another Port Naain Intelligencer tale, ‘A measured response,’ where
each chapter is a post on the blog tour. Follow the blog tour and you’ll
probably get to uncover the mystery, free and gratis. Cannot say better than
that can I?

For those of you who still love Tallis, his blog is still there at

And some more collections of anecdotes from Tallis Steelyard are in the
publishing pipeline.

And you can find my books at

Oh and I’ve got another blog which I write which is mainly sheep, quad bikes
and stuff. Or perhaps not?

Episode 9
As he peered out of the door across the moonlit stable yard Benor Dorfinngil
could see a cloaked figure making its way to the kitchen door. Benor assumed
it was somebody intent upon an assignation, but rather than knocking at the
door, the person produced a key and opened it. Intrigued now, Benor waited
until the figure had slipped inside and then he stole silently and swiftly
across the yard. Unsure of what was going on he took the precaution of
checking that his long knife was in its sheath.
Once in the kitchen Benor surveyed the room by the light of the dying fire.
There was a cloak discarded carelessly over the table, and the other door
was still ajar. Benor crossed the kitchen and looked through the gap left by
the partially open door. A man was standing at the foot of the stairs and
was lighting a lantern. With the lantern trimmed to his satisfaction the man
transferred it to his left hand, bent down and picked up a stout cudgel with
his other hand. He then climbed slowly up the stairs.
Benor waited until the light in the hall had dimmed and then opened the
kitchen door just enough to squeeze through. He tiptoed warily to the foot
of the stairs. Whoever it was who had entered the house was already out of
sight above him. Concerned for the safety of the residents Benor walked as
quietly as possible up the stairs. At the top of the stairs he could see
that the lantern bearer had already started down one of the corridors and
was standing with his ear pressed to a door, listening intently. Benor
froze, desperate not to make a sound. Now he had his hand on the hilt of his
knife but didn’t want to draw it lest the blade catch the light.
Suddenly the figure burst into the room, lantern held high. Benor heard him
shout, “Is this how you repay my generosity, Dorfinngil?”
Somewhat perplexed by this Benor walked hastily down the corridor and looked
into the room. Grayer Thirsk, lantern raised, was stalking towards the bed.
His sister sat up abruptly, naked at least to the waist.
“What are you wittering about Grayer?”
“You! Cavorting with that Toelar scoundrel!”
She flicked aside the bedclothes to reveal Arad Branwit lying next to her.
“Grayer, go to bed, you’re obviously drunk.”
At this point Branwit rolled over and leaned on one elbow. “If you want that
Dorfinngil fellow, he’s at the door now!”
Grayer Thirsk spun round and saw Benor. “What in the forty-seven hells are
you playing at? Some Toelar man you. Why isn’t it you in that bed?”
Entirely reasonably Benor replied, “Because nobody invited me.”
Grayer took a step forward, raising his cudgel. Benor stepped back into the
passage and drew his knife.
Arad Branwit got out of bed and pulled on a pair of britches. “So your
little scheme was to have this chap debauch your sister was it?”
Madam Grasia also got out of bed, wrapping a sheet loosely around herself
for decency’s sake. “Was that your plan, to have me befuddled and bewitched
by a foreigner so I forfeited the estate?”
Grayer pointed his cudgel at Branwit, “I’m not going to be lectured on
morality by someone who’s been pimping Ella, his niece, at me.”
“Pimping!” Branwit picked up a heavy earthenware water jug from the bedside
table, “Pimping. You’ve been sniffing round her ever since she was sixteen.
How does she compare to your mistress in Port Naain.”
Grayer stepped forward and swung his cudgel at Branwit who sidestepped
nimbly before swinging the jug at Grayer’s head.
Benor sheathed his knife and walked back down the corridor. It was obvious
that he was not really needed here. Behind him he heard crashing and
cursing. At the top of the stairs he stopped. Standing there was Ella,
dressed in a grey riding habit. Benor gestured back apologetically. “Did you
hear that?”
“Yes, all of it.”
Benor gestured down the stairs. “I was thinking of leaving.”
Ella glanced along the corridor to the room; the cursing and crashing were,
if anything, louder. “That seems entirely wise; I don’t think my presence
will improve the situation.”
They walked down the stairs side by side in a companionable manner. In the
kitchen Ella lit a candle from the fire and held it up to the clock on the
“Would you agree that it is after midnight?”
Somewhat surprised by the change of tack Benor looked at the clock.
“Then I have come of age and am mistress of my own destiny.”
There was a loud crash from upstairs, as if a heavy piece of furniture had
been thrown.
Benor continued, “I’d offer you a drink to celebrate but frankly I’d be
happier to be away from here.”
They stepped out into the stable yard. Ella regarded him questioningly. “So
good sir, what are your plans?”
Above them a window smashed and a porcelain chamber-pot crashed to the
cobbles near them. “In the immediate future I hope to get more than a stone’s
throw from our hosts.”
Following him to the stable she asked, “And then?”
“Well my work here is done. I’ve inadvertently been generously over-paid. I
intended to leave after breakfast anyway. Given the reception I shall
undoubtedly get at the breakfast table, I think I might leave now.”
“Then you collect your things and I’ll go back into the kitchen and pack
some breakfast for us.”
“I have frankly had enough. I intend to visit Port Naain. When I’m there I
will have my late father’s lawyers instruct my uncle to move out and I shall
put a manager in.”
With that she turned and went back to the kitchen. Benor merely had to
collect his backpack which he had packed the previous evening. He descended
the ladder for the last time and scratched Gyp behind the ears. The old dog
was the only living soul he felt any affection for here.
Ella walked across to him carrying what appeared to be a bulging sack. “That’s
a lot for a two day walk?”
She looked at him in surprise. “Who said anything about walking? My horse is
tied next to my uncle’s. You can ride his.”
She led Benor out of the stable yard and down a path to a copse by the beck.
“It’s still a lot of food for one day’s ride.”
“Ah,” she said, “I thought we’d detour south a little in case of pursuit.”
Ahead of them, crossing the bridge from the road to the estate, Benor could
see a cluster of people, some carrying lanterns. He quietly took the young
woman’s hand. “Quiet, let’s just slip behind the trees and let them go
Wordlessly she went with him. As they watched the party pass them it was
perhaps a score strong and was clustered around a stretcher. In the
lamplight Benor could see that two or three of them were women, one at least
was sobbing. Ella asked, “Who are they?”
“People who want a word with your uncle; among them are Anna’s kin, it’ll be
her body on the stretcher. She was buried in secret a couple of years ago.”
“She never went to Port Naain did she?”
Ella was looking at Benor intently, trying to read his face in the gloom.
“Almost certainly not; she certainly never died there.”
“So the letters my uncle received? She never wrote them did she?”
“She was probably dead and buried long before he got them.”
In silence, Ella turned and watched the lanterns split up, some stayed at
the front door, and some went down both sides of the house. Benor watched
her carefully. He felt that she didn’t need to see either the body or her
uncle’s reaction.
She seemed to come to a decision, “Right, let’s go. Let’s just leave the
whole sodding lot of them. I was leaving because I felt used; my uncle
seemed to be dangling me in front of Grayer Thirsk as a bargaining chip. He
could marry me if Uncle could marry Grasia, and Grayer didn’t think I was
worth giving up a mistress in Port Naain for. Now it looks as if I’ve been
lied to as well.”
She turned abruptly. “We leave now.”
She led him to the two horses tucked away behind the copse. She mounted the
first. Benor put his foot into the stirrup and mounted the other horse. He
asked, “You never actually said just how far south we were going to detour?”
Casually she said, “Oh just to Prae Ducis and get a boat to Port Naain.”
“But that’ll be at least ten days travelling?”
“Well if you’re bored of my company already?”
Benor grinned at her. “All shall be as you command my lady, Prae Ducis it


The end?
Are you sure about that………

A Licence to Print Money Episode 1

Benor is back! After the first critically acclaimed collection of the ‘Port
Naain Intelligencer’ novellas, by popular demand a second collection is on
its way!
Does that sound good?
Not sure if it grabs me.
But anyway Benor is the hero of the first fantasy novel I ever wrote and I’ve
followed his career through another novel and a series of novellas which
have the collective title of the Port Naain Intelligencer. Tallis Steelyard
appeared as an incidental character in those stories and being Tallis he
just took over.
The thing about the stories in the Port Naain Intelligencer collection, you
can read them in any order. It’s a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote them in a particular order, but you can dip in and
out of them, you don’t need to start with volume one and work through them

But anyway I’ve just published, ‘A licence to print money: The Port Naain Intelligencer.’ It’s available on Amazon at

In it, Benor, who just wants to get paid for some work he’s done, struggles
against corrupt officials, bent bookies, and all manner of other problems.
On the positive side he does get to meet a Magistrate who is also a
performance poet, and young Mutt finds somebody who might even be tougher
than he is.

But it struck me that people have got used to me writing about Tallis
Steelyard and might need reintroducing to young Benor. So I decided that I’d
write another Port Naain Intelligencer tale, ‘A measured response,’ where
each chapter is a post on the blog tour. Follow the blog tour and you’ll
probably get to uncover the mystery, free and gratis. Cannot say better than
that can I?

For those of you who still love Tallis, his blog is still there at

And some more collections of anecdotes from Tallis Steelyard are in the
publishing pipeline.

And you can find my books at

Oh and I’ve got another blog which I write which is mainly sheep, quad bikes
and stuff. Or perhaps not?


A measured response
Episode 1

As a young cartographer, Benor Dorfinngil knew he would have to travel. On
the long road that had at length carried him from Toelar to Port Naain, he
had braved atrocious weather conditions, serious mining accidents,
anthropophagous beastmen, irate husbands and outraged fathers. All this he
had taken in his stride, asking for little in return.
It was when he arrived in Port Naain that he realised how bad things could
get. The beer rarely even aspired to be mediocre and was often undrinkable,
whilst the food in public dining places was rarely better than bland and
under-spiced, and at the worst, it was uneatable.
But as he got to know the city and made friends there, he finally realised
how one got a decent meal. Along with his friend and landlord, Tallis
Steelyard, he was attending the meeting of a gentlemen’s dining club.
Admittedly it was Tallis who had been invited as an after-dinner speaker;
Benor had merely ridden in on his friend’s coattails. But still he had dined
well. A thick vegetable soup rich with herbs and spices, piquant enough to
make the locals comment and to allow Benor to feel nostalgic. This was
followed by a slow cooked joint, so tender the meat fell off the bone.
Finally a selection of tarts, pasties and a well supplied cheeseboard. The
whole meal was accompanied by a selection of decent wines, poured with a
generous hand. All was well with the world and Benor was predisposed towards
goodwill and friendliness.
To be fair the other guests were welcoming. One, Grayer Thirsk, had stepped
down from a carriage at the door of the club as Benor and Tallis were
entering, and had greeted Tallis as a long lost brother. They briefly
ignored Benor, but he was too busy gazing with admiration at the attractive
and expensively dressed lady in the carriage. She winked at him and then
gave the coachman the order to move on. At this point Tallis remembered
himself enough to introduce Benor to Grayer and the three of them entered
the club as group.
So now the formal phase of the evening was drawing to a close. Tallis had
given his performance whilst the rest were engaged with the cheeseboard. His
collection of anecdotes, extemporised verses, (which Benor knew had been
produced with much toil the previous day) and banter with his fellow guests
had gone down well and now the group was giving its attention to the
important business of talking and drinking.
The guests drifted away from the debris littered table, leaving a few
devoted trenchermen to finish off the more interesting cheeses. The others
sat in deep comfortable chairs and talked in small groups. Benor was
wondering where to sit when Tallis approached him with Grayer Thirsk.
“Benor, I think you two need to talk, he claims he needs a cartographer.”
Benor gestured to a pair of armchairs near the wall that were currently
unoccupied. “Perhaps we could sit there?”
His companion agreed, took one of the chairs and Benor look the other. A
waiter appeared bearing a tray containing a number of empty glasses and a
selection of decanters filled with various spirits. His newfound
acquaintance took two glasses and poured a generous libation into them from
one of the decanters, apparently chosen at random.
“Master Dorfinngil, I believe you are not from around here?”
”Yes, I hail from Toelar and have arrived here by a long and somewhat
indirect route.” Benor had found the inhabitants of Port Naain to be
surprisingly parochial, seeming to assume that anybody born on the other
side of the mountains was a savage barely capable of conversing in grunts.
“Still, your friend Tallis assures me that you are a cartographer, and what
is more, you can be trusted to be discreet.”
“Pray call me Benor, everybody else does.” Benor was a little concerned
about the need for a circumspect cartographer. It was normally followed by
the revelation that the speaker had purchased, inherited or acquired by
dubious means, a treasure map of some sort and wished for aid in
understanding it.
“Thank you Benor; I have a pleasant enough farm, almost an estate, perhaps
thirty miles south of here in an agreeable and civilised part of Partann. It
just so happened that I was up on business and when Tallis mentioned your
skills I decided that I had to hire you. I need somebody to map my lands,
and incidentally make an estimate of their worth. Mind you it must be done
without anybody remarking on it.”
“The Cartographers’ Guild rates normally stipulate four alars a week, plus
an extra alar for each apprentice employed.”
“Oh we don’t need anybody else involved. I propose five alars a week and you
shall sleep in the house and dine with the family.”
This seemed an excellent offer. But before Benor could reply somebody in
another group rose, raised his glass and proposed a toast. “The gallant
condottieri of Port Naain.” He then drained his glass. Like everybody else
Benor stood, repeated the toast and drained his glass which was quickly
Now seated again he turned to Grayer Thirsk. He reckoned that his
prospective client was a little older than him but probably no more than
thirty. Was he perhaps valuing an inheritance with a view to paying off
debts? Certainly if he was contributing to the maintenance of the attractive
lady in the coach, it would be easy to run up debts.
“Obviously I’m very interested in your offer. Could you give me a few more
At this point somebody else stood up, “Gentlemen, I give you the ladies of
Port Naain. Unmatched for their beauty and their virtue.”
Benor rose to drink the toast even though he might have personally had his
doubts as to its veracity.
His glass refilled he sat down. Then he heard the voice of Tallis. “Of
course he can do it. Here’s an alar to prove that he can.” Benor was
immediately nervous. How on earth had Tallis come upon an alar? One gold
alar was a week’s wages in itself for an ordinary working man and few of
them ever crossed the path of a poet.
“Benor, these fellows don’t think you can climb out of that window and in by
that one.”
Benor hissed to Grayer Thirsk, “Put your details on a piece of paper and I’ll
see you later this week.” He then looked at the windows. They were high up
the wall; at least twice the height of a man. Still they were large enough
to get through. He assessed the placing of the furniture.
“I can do it, but I assume I’ll be allowed to open them both from the
inside. I could probably open one from the outside but this spares
There was a general mutter of agreement. So Benor slipped off his jacket,
climbed onto his chair and from there onto the sideboard. From the sideboard
it was an easy climb via a well secured stand of arms to a shallow ledge
that ran round the room at window height. He unfastened the window and
opened it fully. Then pressing himself close to the wall he moved along the
ledge until he came to the next window. The catch here was stiff but he got
it undone, opened the window and looked outside. This was in reality the
difficult bit, he’d hoped for a matching ledge along the outside of the
building, but there wasn’t one. On the other hand both windows had elaborate
architraves which would give his fingers plenty of grip, and between them
was a downspout which appeared firmly fastened.
With confidence born of long experience, a bottle of wine and two large
glasses of spirit, he swung himself out of the window and hung from the
architrave. He carefully moved along it and then with his leading, left,
hand he reached out and tugged at the downspout. It appeared well attached.
He grasped the spout and transferred his weight to it. It creaked a little
but Benor treated the noise with polite disdain and reached out with his
left hand to grasp the architrave of the next window. He then launched
himself across and pushed himself feet first through the open window,
turning as he did so and dropping gracefully down onto the sideboard.
There was a ripple of applause and somebody thrust another glass into his
hand. Grayer Thirsk announced, “Gentlemen, I give you Master Benor
Dorfinngil.” Along with the others Benor drained his glass. When the waiters
had recharged them he lifted his, “Gentlemen, I give you the hospitable folk
of Port Naain.”
It had all the makings of a long night.

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Annette, for inviting us to join you today. We are so grateful to be featured on your lovely blog. With you we breathe in and exhale gratitude.

The Contract


Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.


Here is an excerpt.

Sarah didn’t know what to say. The room flickered with candlelight and the fireplace crackled with its flames, but the tenderness in Brad’s eyes warmed her heart the most. The evening had taken a turn she hadn’t expected but welcomed.

Sarah said, “I guess there’s a lot I don’t know about you, not the least of which is that you appreciate The Prophet. Do you write poetry?”

“My poetry isn’t worth sharing.” Brad shook his head. “I write it, but I keep it locked up in my desk. How about you?” Brad stared at Sarah intently, as if trying to read her soul.

“I, ah, I write very little poetry. You know, I don’t have any formal writing background, and I feel that handicap when I attempt to write poems. It has so many rules to follow, which I don’t know, and that makes me feel hesitant to even try. Sometimes, though, the moment demands a poem, and then I write.” Sarah smiled.

“I like that phrase, sometimes the moment demands a poem. Don’t you think this is one of those moments?” Brad reached across the table and placed his hand on hers. Though a simple act, it awakened a storm of emotions in Sarah. As much as she tried not to, her eyes welled with tears. She didn’t feel sad, not at all, but Brad’s gentleness brought her into her own vulnerable heart.

Authors Bio.

John Howell Head shotGwen's headshot

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s books.

Available on Amazon at

Crooning in June is how The Magic Happens

Can hardly believe that we are already reading our way through the June 2018 Edition of The Magic Happens Magazine

Our writers put their creative thinking caps on, to tackle the prompt words of:


We’ve got some good stuff here, so, come on by and give us a read or two.

Here are my offerings for June 2018…

My direct links are:

The Long and The Short of June

Pitching National Camping Month

Yes I Have Fallen and I Got Back Up

More or Less

We are thrilled to enjoy the kick off of summer with you, here at The Magic Happens Magazine

Thank you, Annette Rochelle Aben, Editor, The Magic Happens Magazine

Doing the Java Jive

For those who know me, being involved with ANYTHING coffee would bring me great delight (deep sigh).

Yesterday, while minding my own business, my glass coffee mug chose to explode and rain down upon my writing desk. Not that this would have been a huge issue, except that my computer was sitting there and decided it had had enough of watching ME have all the fun and took a drink!

Naturally I am off warranty and who expects such an expense,,

Until this is rectified, I am borrowing Chrome books from my roomies (so very kind of them). Which means that content and connection might be a tad scattered.

My ‘lil sis, Kylie called to let me know she has started a fund to “Help Aunt Annette Get a New “Puter” so this may turn around quickly, never know,’

Where is old faithful?  Sitting in a pile of white rice.  Hey it works for cell phones, right?