Thursday, November 18, 2021

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Posted by: Maureen

 By Maureen Bonatch

When I was young I absolutely adored Christmas. I counted down the days, decorated anything and everything and believed in the magic of the season far longer than most my age. 

Then I Grew Up

The holidays became expensive and exhausting. I'd still be excited when the season rolled around, but I was just as happy once it was done. 

Magic, Mimosas & Mistletoe

2020 wasn't the best year for most, and the holidays were looking even less inviting. So when I sat down for November's National Novel Writing Month, I really struggled with my story. Until I decided that I would change it to a Christmas story featuring a witch who loved Halloween, but without her help, Christmas might be ruined. 

The thoughts and images of spreading cheer with family and friends elevated my mood. I binged on holiday movies and played Christmas music way earlier than I ever have to write this holiday story. 

Except in MAGIC, MIMOSAS & MISTLETOE (a story from my Charmed Cocktail Cozy series), I found a way to combine Halloween and Christmas.   

Oh, and it's a paranormal cozy mystery, so there might be a murder or two...and some ghosts.


I don’t see dead people, but my dog does. 
Hi, I’m Marissa Hale. When my friend, Grace invites me to visit the Inn she inherited, I’m high-tailing it back to my home state of Pennsylvania. Like most things in life, there are strings attached to her inheritance—and these ones have twinkly lights. The Inn, and the town, are Christmas themed. No witch worth her broom would choose Christmas over Halloween, unless that witch’s bloodline is the magic mainline for keeping the yuletide spirit alive. 

Her aunt’s death was already suspicious, but then we stumble upon a dead body amongst the poinsettias that resembles one of Santa’s fabled elves. It sure seems like someone is trying to force Grace to sell Kringle Inn. I’m going to need all the help I can get to solve these crimes, and save Christmas, but when the only witnesses are a pig, and a ghost, I’m not sure that’s going to be enough… 

An Excerpt featuring Marissa and her cat, Jasper, from my book MAGIC, MIMOSAS & MISTLETOE 

Everyone would be a suspect until I proved them innocent—or I tired of determining if there had truly been a murder. It was better than contemplating the Christmas holidays when it wasn't Halloween yet. “It's nothing like that. The spell provides a way to ride along with someone and see and hear what they see. Like a little spy.” 

“What do you mean by a ride along? If you're referring to me, which I'm guessing by the look in your two current eyes, I can tell you it will not work. You're,” he raked his gaze over me, “many, many times my size.” 

“Not in person, silly. I would ride along in your mind.” 

Jasper let out a hiss and jumped to the floor, backing away with his tail raised. “In my mind? What kind of hocus pocus are you getting into? Most likely, it wouldn't work. With your lackluster spelling abilities, you could end up trapped there, and that wouldn't be good for anyone. Who would remember to feed me?” 

“Enough of the insults about my spelling.” Most of them were true, but I was practicing and getting better. Potions were more my thing. Well, they were getting to be my thing. “It's not an evil spell, so I shouldn't get more black streaks in my hair.”
“I'm not worried about your hair. Besides, there's nothing wrong with black hair. Feast your eyes on my glorious fur.” He swished his tail from side-to-side. “Yes, you're lovely, whatever. Now, listen. I know this spell sounds far-fetched, but it could be fun.” 

“Nope, not fun at all. Zero fun. Nada.” He kept backing away toward the door. 

“But I thought you wanted to be my familiar?” It was low of me to play that card, but I knew how to sway him to my favor. 

Jasper stopped and remained silent for a moment as he considered it. “I don't see how that matters in this situation.” 

“Our bond could grow stronger with a spell like this. Who knows? You might gain some magic yourself.” I did not know if any of this was true. 

He paused and lowered his tail. “You're joking.” 

“No, I've heard it could happen. I can't guarantee it would, but it's possible. If anything were to go wrong, Grace is here. She could fix it.” 

Jasper nodded. “That much I can agree on. Grace is much better at spelling than you'll ever be, and I've never seen one dark strand in her hair.” 

I clapped my hands together. “We can find out much more about everyone this way.” 

“You mean you can. Obviously, this is how I always find out things. You're just jealous you don't have my stealth and want it for yourself. There are benefits to being small.” 

I stood from the bed and grabbed my oversized purse. “Let's get started.” “Now?” Jasper's eyes widened. I stopped digging in the bottomless pit that was my purse. “Why not? We can try to approach Wilber again.” 

“What, and get stomped on with one of his cloven hoofs, or mixed into his dinner trough?” 

I waved him off. “I can help you with finessing the conversation. I already have all the ingredients gathered here in my purse, so let's get ready.” 

“You were optimistic that I was going to agree to this spell, I see.” Jasper leapt on the bed. “Elevated to the role of familiar, you say?” 

“Maybe? I knew you'd see my side.” I laid out a small bowl and the ingredients, including the one item Sabina insisted was essential. I had to make it myself to personalize it to the spell. With limited time and supplies available for crafting, it wasn’t perfect. 

“What in the tuna is that?” Jasper shrieked. 

“This?” I knew the tiny homemade voodoo cat doll might push him over the edge. “It's nothing. The figure helps to make sure this works right and that I end up in the correct person's thoughts that we intended the spell for.” 

Mulder came stumbling into the room, falling over his feet on the slippery floor and taking a nosedive. He came to a stop with a skittering of paws at the foot of the bed. His irritated huffs and raised behind confirmed that he’d discovered something of interest under the bed.

Jasper studied me with a wary expression. “Don't you think we need to tell Grace what we're doing here first?” 

I shrugged and sat on the bed. “She's busy. No need to worry her. Besides, what could go wrong?” 

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What is Your Favorite Thing About the Holidays? 

 P.S. It’s November aka: National Novel Writing Month – I’d better get writing!


Just a small-town girl, Maureen Bonatch leads a double life. She lives in a magical world as a novelist, and as a nurse leader in reality. Maureen’s first novella was a paranormal romance published when blogs were a new-fangled thing. She’s since changed her focus to writing paranormal cozy mysteries as M.L. Bonatch and urban fantasy as Maureen Bonatch. 

While she’s not busy writing or doing nurse-things, she’s a mom to her twin daughters, bicycling in the beautiful woods of PA with her hubby, doing the bidding of a feisty Shih Tzu, and dancing as much as possible. She believes music can be paired with every mood, laughter is contagious, and that caffeine and wine are essential for survival.

 Follow M.L. Bonatch all through cyberspace! 

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