Now that I'm no longer tending for a sick dog, I finally have some time to get stuff done. Stuff like publishing a novel!

Apprentice to Murder

Apprentice to Murder: The Tale of Robin the Rascal in the Wizard's Own Words, my latest novel, is now available in both a $15 paperback edition and a $2.99 Kindle eBook on Amazon.com. Just in time for Christmas!

This is my fifth novel, after the Central Kingdoms Chronicles quadrilogy (The Wizards of Ranaloy, Prince Thorgils' War, A Quest Before Dying, and Specter of the Lich). Those were all about wizards. I admit that this one is too. But it's also a cozy murder mystery!

According to the book cover (which I also wrote):

Life is easy for young Prince Robin. Growing up with the luxuries afforded members of the royal family, he dreams of one day becoming a knight like his late father. But the young nobleman’s dreams are derailed when his cousin, heir apparent Prince John, dies under questionable circumstances. Fingers quickly point to Robin, who inconveniently happens to be the next in the line of succession and the last person to have seen John alive.

To prevent civil war, Robin abdicates his birthright for an apprenticeship under Royal Wizard Septimus. Robin’s sacrifice saves the kingdom, but one by one, the inhabitants of Windwick Castle begin to die, each new death seeming to further incriminate the fallen prince. The only way for Robin to save himself is find John’s real killer.

The apprentice wizard is going to learn the hard way that even magic has its limits.

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, you can read the first chapter of this or any of my other books for free at JamesWalterStephens.com.

Thank you to all who have supported this project.

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2020 killed my dog.

July, R.I.P.

July beat cancer for the first time in 2016 after having her toe amputated. She beat it a second time when she had a portion of her ear removed in 2019. This past July, she had a mammary tumor removed. Three times seems to be the limit.

In late October, she got wobbly in the legs. We crossed our fingers that it was a spinal problem. She initially responded to treatment, but she took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago when she lost even the ability to stand with assistance. It was downhill from there.

So long as she was lucid and had an appetite, I felt it was my duty to support her however I could — I couldn't justify killing my dog simply because she had become inconvenient. But I realized late last night that we had probably reached the end of the line. (I'll save the gory details except to say that cancer can be a real bitch.) I had her euthanized this afternoon, and she died in my arms.

For the better part of the past decade, July had been my shadow. Her sister, Victoria, wanted to be near me; July *needed* to be near me. She followed me everywhere and complained to whoever would listen when she couldn't see me. I can't blame her. Who else was she going to get to take her for walkies or hand her a slice of pizza?

I already feel like I'm missing something when I walk into a room and don't hear the tappa-tappa of toenails trailing behind me. I keep looking for baby, and she's not there anymore and never will be again. That will take some getting used to.

Thanks to Kelley for bringing her into my life and thanks to Mom for being a substitute Walter when necessary over the years. Thanks to her vet, Jeff, for helping me keep her around as long as we did. (Fourteen years is a good, long life for a standard poodle!) And especially thanks to July for doing your best to make 2020 bearable for as long as you could.

In happier times

I loved my girls.

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I will

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There's a learning curve

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Giving thanks for a full life

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I tell a variation on this joke each year

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To be continued...

 

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