Oh My Stars and Gryphons!

…Continued from What’s in a Name?


“Don’t adjust your screen. I protect your email address and your first name because that’s all the information I store when you sign up to receive the only character-run newsletter of its kind.” The blue-glowing dragon made of 1s and 0s tapped the screen in front of her, and a digital cave appeared behind her full of shiny @. Other letters surrounded those @, but they were blurred by the dragon’s technical wizardry to ensure the privacy of their owners.

The dragon flicked her blue-glowing tail, and 1s and 0s flew off it like discarded scales as I, (Ran, from the Curse Breaker series, in case you forgot), pulled the power cord out of the outlet.

“No!” The dragon spiraled away into darkness as I switched the screen off.

“Say goodbye to the dragon.” I laughed until a dark creature landed next to me.

“She wasn’t finished.” Thing fixed his yellow owl eyes on me as he swiped the mouse right out of my hand, that feathered meanie.

I hopped down off the chair and pulled out my secret weapon, our Scribe’s cellphone. “Yes, she was. There’s nothing else to disclose. We don’t do anything except star in fun books and send our weekly newsletter adventures.” I pulled up Melinda’s inbox. Where did we leave off before the dragon showed up?

Thing didn’t look convinced. His mate, Amal, patted the chaise lounge where I’d been sitting until the Newsletter-Dragon had usurped my newsletter. She was another meanie—the Newsletter-Dragon, not Amal. Thing’s mate was tough but reasonable.

“What did Carolyn write?” Amal prompted from the chaise lounge. “You were about to read that before the Newsletter-Dragon showed up and took control.”

“That’s right.” I scrolled until I found it. “Carolyn wrote: ‘since ‘Thing’ is a gryphon minor, [and] a falcon and cat is a falcogryph, then “Thing” is an ‘owmocgryph,’ pronounced ‘oh-mock- griff.’ An ‘owmocgryp’ is an owl-monkey-cat gryphon minor. [They have the] face and wings of an owl[; the] arms, chest and tail of a monkey, and [the hind] quarters of a cat. Since ‘Thing’ is carnivorous [and] mates for life, [and] is smaller than a gryphon, he has to be a gryphon minor. A big plus is his language skills and madge abilities, which leads to his given name.’”

I paused long enough to make sure Thing was listening. He was and so was Thing’s mate, Amal, and their son. Crispin was especially interested in this. His amber eyes gleamed with mischief.

“His given name, according to Carolyn, is ‘Thadeous Wordsworth Abdul Burmese Gryph, or ‘Thing,’ for short.’” I smirked at him. This was too good. We have the best readers.

“What else does she say?” Amal chortled at her mate’s indignant expression.

“Carolyn also writes, ‘there’s a nasty little rumor that his real name is ‘Thadious Hippocrates, Issac Newton Gryph,’ and that is why he is referred to as ‘Thing.’” I might have laughed, but only for a moment, then I was falling through the portal when an angry Thing slammed into my chest.

We landed on Papa’s back and got tangled in his dark green cloak as we grappled for the phone. Papa had forgotten to take it off again. Uncle Miren would be mad when he found out.

“What are you doing?” Papa asked around a yawn, but he didn’t move.

“Thadeous Gryph!” I cackled as I let go of the phone. I didn’t want to damage it, and Thing’s claws might if they popped out. Papa’s magic had cocooned me in its lovely green light, so I was safe. But magic and tech didn’t mix, so his magic, while awesome for me, was bad for the phone. 😦

“That’s not my name.” His tail swished a little too close to my face. Thing’s yellow eyes glowed with his anger. Uh-oh. I might have taken this a little too far.

“I kind of like it,” Nulthir said from the doorway.

“Spoiler alert!” I waved my hands at him. “You’re not supposed to be here until I forget which book that happens in.” But was coming soon. So were a lot of cool adventures and maybe even some magic lessons.

“What about Clawkatzen? Linda suggested that one, but I think there’s already an owl-cat with that name.” Crispin looked from the phone in his small hands to his mother.

On the other side of the portal, Amal laughed. “Everyone knows Clawskatzen. He delivers presents on Christmas Eve to good little kits.”

“I guess you weren’t good this year.” Thing lunged for the phone in his son’s hands, but Crispin tossed it through the portal to Amal.

“Oh, this is too good.” Amal chortled for a long moment while her mate glared at her. She finally sobered. “We should call you ‘Ornry’ according to Barbara because you’re so ornery!”

“But I’m not and neither is my brother or sister,” Crispin said. “So that doesn’t work as a species name.”

“Are there any other suggestions?” I stood up on Papa’s back and fell through the portal’s purple-glowing hoop onto the chaise lounge.

“Here, you look. I don’t know how to operate this thing.” Amal handed me the phone.

I scrolled to the next email. “Linda suggests ‘Hootablewhatsfh.’” I laughed. I couldn’t help it.

“How do you even spell that?” Nulthir asked.

“Why are you still here?” I glanced over my shoulder at him.

The captain of the Guards stood on the other side of the portal in his blue uniform, which looked a lot like the uniform my sleeping Papa wore, except his was green. I wondered if the Guards and Rangers used the same tailor.

“Because you’re naming my friends. Don’t I get a say in that?” Nulthir spread his hands wide.

“Oh, yeah, you have a point.” I conceded. “So what are we going to call their species?”

“Owl-Cats. I’ve always liked that.”

“Ooo, me too!” Crispin raised his hand.

Amal touched her beak in thought then nodded. “I also like it.”

“Thing? What you say you?” Nulthir turned to regard his friend.

But Thing was nodding and his prehensile tail might have come awfully close to wagging. “I could get used to that name.”

“Then Owl-Cats it is!” I glanced at Nulthir. “Why are you still here? We settled on a name. You can go now. This is my newsletter.” And I didn’t share it with anyone except Papa and my Scribe. I screwed my face up into a scowl.

Nulthir nudged Papa’s leg with his boot. “Someone’s late for—”

“Spoiler alert!” I jumped off the chaise lounge and hurried to the PC to end this week’s adventure before someone spilled the beans about the sequel to Curse Breaker: Hidden.

Thank you to all who wrote in with suggestions. We hope you enjoyed this week’s adventure and the conclusion of the naming issue.

Want more of Nulthir and his creature friends?

Get the Magic Underground trilogy of anthologies! It includes 60 fantasy stories by 20 authors including 3 brand-new adventures featuring Nulthir, Amal, and Thing.

Want more?

Ran also co-stars in the Curse Breaker series by Melinda Kucsera. Every hero needs a sidekick, and Ran is Sarn, the Curse Breaker’s, whether his father wants that or not. He also goes on weekly adventures, which are posted in reverse chronological order on melindakucsera.com/blog. To get them in your inbox, go to www.mkucsera.com/welcomecharacters and invite Ran (and the cast) to stop by every Monday.

Hidden Magic & an Epic Giveaway!

FREE to enter! To celebrate the March 10th release of the first book in the Magic Underground trilogy of fantasy anthologies, Hidden Magic, we’re giving away an awesome fantasy-themed gift box through Rafflecopter. International entries welcome!

What’s Hidden Magic about?

No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic. From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes a collection of stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world. This collection features:

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Get transported to another world…

When you open Hidden Magic, you’ll be transported to another world where magic is hidden in many places.

In “A Veil is Parted,” one of the stories in Hidden Magic, the first anthology in a trilogy of fantasy anthologies, magic hides in the doorway that leads to another world, and what is found in that world.

Anela Deen was inspired to put her twist own twist on the usual fairies and elves that star in fantasy. But “A Veil is Parted” also a story about damage and grief, and how we can find our way back from the broken path loss sets us on.

Get “A Veil is Parted” and twenty other stories of magic and mayhem in Hidden Magic, the first in the Magic Underground trilogy of fantasy anthologies. Then grab the sequels in Wayward Magic and Forgotten Magic, anthologies #2 & #3 in the trilogy.

What’s in a name?

Apparently, a lot of things.

Hello Readers!

I’m Ran, one of the fictional characters who helps run this press. (Melinda Kucsera is the Scribe who runs this publishing press with help from her characters. That’s why I have *posting privileges.*)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I asked the subscribers of Melinda’s weekly newsletter adventures (which I host) to help name the species of this creature:

And Thing took that personally. In three anthologies, he and his family are taking center stage, but they don’t have a species name. I’ve never had that problem, but I’m a fictional child from a fantasy world.

“You’re lucky,” a gruff voice said from the kitchen table where the magical PC sits. (Said table is currently the office of Magical Mayhem Press.)

That damned creature was reading my mind again. How rude.

“Well? What do you think about the names our wonderful readers sent in?” I asked from the safety of the chaise lounge.

A purple-glowing hoop floated next to it, displaying my cave home and my partner in all things magical and adventurous, Papa. He lay on his stomach with his head pillowed on his arm. Papa was dead asleep, but his magic wasn’t. Some of it wound around me in shimmering green threads that tickled where they touched. I raised my hands to keep the smartphone away from it. Tech and magic didn’t mix well.

“What was the first one?” Thing hunched over the keyboard, and the white light from the screen bathed his owlish face.

I scrolled through our shared inbox on my Scribe, Melinda’s, smartphone. “Tannie suggested ‘chimera.'”

Thing punched a few keys, and the screen redrew with a ghastly creature front and center. “Google says a chimera  is ‘a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.’ I don’t have goat, lion or serpent parts, nor do I breath fire. Next name.”

“You’re also not female.” His mate, Amal, elbowed him in the side. Her yellow raptorial eyes glowed with amusement.

I scowled at her owl-monkey-cat mate. What a mouthful. Yeah, they needed a species name pronto. Preferably something short that showcased Thing’s contrary nature like ‘owl-cat.’ That had a nice ring to it. So what if he and his family had opposable thumbs? Wasn’t there a sword-fighting cartoon kitty with thumbs too?

“Exactly my point.” Thing inclined his head to his mate.

“You might not breathe fire, but you do read minds whether or not the owner of said mind wants you want to.” Amal winked at her mate.

“So what? I don’t do anything with what I read.” Thing folded his arms over his chest. Below them, his feathers gave way to fur.

“It’s still not right. You shouldn’t read minds just ’cause you can.” I refused to budge on that point.

Thing’s mate, Amal, swung up onto the chaise lounge next to me using her prehensile tail. Okay, maybe I was wrong about subtracting ‘monkey’ from their name because that was a how a monkey moves. I wondered why she hadn’t just flown across the room to the chair until I saw her wings. One of them was blackened and hanging limply.

She patted my arm. “You would read minds too if you had a family to protect.”

“Maybe,” I grudingly conceded the point. “What happened to your wing?”

“I ran into some bad magic in “Spell of Wings & Glass.”” Amal shrugged. That story appears in Hidden Magic. Order your copy now.

“What’s the next name?” Thing gestured to the phone in my hands.

“Christy suggests two names, ‘Anamyphion’ and—”

Thing cut me off. “One at a time, this search engine can’t multitask.”

I glared at him. “That’s very rude. You shouldn’t interrupt people.”

Amal patted my arm again. Her hands were small since she was only about two-feet tall, but they were strong. Concern softened her hawkish face, but under her feathers and fur, she was as tough as her mate, maybe even tougher. “I like Anamphion.”

“You mean Anamy—”

Thing cut me off again. This time there was a devilish twinkle in his owlish eyes. He was doing that on purpose, the feathered meanie. “According to this Google person, the prefix ‘Ana’ means ‘up,’ ‘against,’ or ‘back’.” Thing inclined his head. He seemed to like that.  

“‘Am’ means love in latin,” Amal added with a wink and a nudge that had me laughing.

How she could read the screen from eight feet away baffled me. But we might have a winner here, so I kept my mouth shut. 

“But ‘Amy-‘ is a science-y word about something called a ‘saccharide,’ according to Google,” their son, Crispin added. He stood on a ladder-backed chair by his father to see the screen.

“What about the ‘phion,’ part,” I asked. 

“One second.” Thing typed that word in with his dexterous little fingers. “Google doesn’t say anything about it.”

“What do you think about ‘Anamyphion?'” I looked to the owl-monkey-cat creatures for an answer.

Only three were here, and that was more than enough. The rest of Thing’s extended family was off doing something else, probably searching for its youngest member. Furball tended to get into a lot of trouble, like a the fictional child telling this tale. 😉

“We’ll consider Anamphion.” Thing folded his furry arms over his feathered chest, ending the discussion. His eyes dared me to correct him.

“What about ‘pryonamalg,’ Christy’s other suggestion?” I had no idea if I’d pronounced that right.

“Spell that for me.” Crispin pulled the keyboard closer to him. He was more feline in the face than his parents, making him easier to read and cuddlier-looking. 

I spelled the name, and he punched it into Google.

The screen redrew, and Crispin read the results aloud. “Okay, a ‘Prion’ is a small seabird that eats plankton. Eww. It’s also a kind of protein.”

“I like ‘Anamphion,’ but it’s kind of a long name. I was hoping for something shorter.” Thing swiped the mouse, (not a real mouse, but the mouse used to control the movement of the cursor on the screen). 

Amal nodded. “It’s musical, but you’re right. It is a bit long.”

“You mean Anamyphion,” I corrected them.

“I don’t think we need the ‘y.’ It just makes the word longer and harder to say.” Thing slammed his fist down on the table, and behind him the screen flickered. Uh-oh.

“Wait, we have a few more suggestions.” I scrolled to the next one as the screen continued to flicker. An eerie bluish light emanated from it that reminded me of the Newsletter-Dragon.

In a previous adventure in Melinda’s newsletter, she a mysterious portal ate that dragon. But we don’t know where that portal let out. She could be anywhere, including inside our Scribe’s PC. Since the Newsletter-Dragon might still be mad at me, I reached through the portal to my cave home and patted Papa’s back. He didn’t wake, but his magic wrapped more tightly around me. At least it was awake and ready to protect me if that digital dragon came a-calling.

“Well? What’s the next suggestion?” Thing narrowed his eyes at me. Was he reading my mind? He winked at me.

Stop reading my mind. My mind is not a book, I thought really hard at him, but Thing just parted his beak in a bird-like grin. Well, two could play at game. Carolyn had written in and given me the perfect weapon to use against him, a suggestion for what his name meant. I smiled. Thing had no idea what was coming, and I reveled in that.

Unless you’re Carolyn, you’ll have to wait until a few days to find out what she wrote.

Get Hidden Magic now to find out if Thing and Amal save the lives of their only human friend and find their missing grandchild. Dangerous magic is afoot. Can they defeat it or will it defeat them?

Want more?

Ran also co-stars in the Curse Breaker series by Melinda Kucsera. Every hero needs a sidekick, and Ran is Sarn, the Curse Breaker’s, whether his father wants that or not. He also goes on weekly adventures, which are posted in reverse chronological order on melindakucsera.com/blog. To get them in your inbox, go to www.mkucsera.com/welcomecharacters and invite Ran (and the cast) to stop by every Monday.

Get To Know…

Jessa Dimaandal from Skylark, Michigan, an award-winning poet who can’t write poetry anymore, not since what happened eighteen months ago. Below is the final verse she penned before her creative heart went dark.

Find out more about Jessa and the pixie knight she meets battling for his life by grabbing your copy of Hidden Magic today!

What’s Jessa’s story, “A Veil is Parted,” about?

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war.

After years of battle between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace.

Meeting with the troll king in secret is the only hope for a ceasefire. When the trolls ambush him instead, Simith flees through a doorway hidden by magic into another world.

Wounded, he’ll need to defeat his pursuers and get home before anyone realizes he’s gone. If his commanders find out what he’s been up to, the trolls will be the least of his worries.


In Skylark, Michigan, Jessa leaves a party after some devastating news. Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm, she runs into a fight between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel – only the blood is very real.

When one of them falls to his attackers, Jessa decides to intervene. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but what does a poet like her know about fighting?

As their weapons turn against her, Jessa realizes how much she stands to lose, even for someone who’s already lost everything.

Get Hidden Magic today to find out what happens to Jessa and Simith.

A New Hero Rises

He’s got wings and a swift-flying mate, but they’re fighting dangerous magic with nothing but their wits and claws. If they fail, they’ll lose more than their only human friend. Adventure with Thing and Amal as they risk it all.

Get all three at   magicalmayhempress.com
1) Spell of Wings & Glass is in Hidden Magic
2) Spell of Bone & Ash is in Wayward Magic
3) Spell of Scales & Steel is in Forgotten Magic

+ You get 59 more fantasy stories full of danger & magic when you buy all three anthologies.

Not bad for $7


by Barbara Letson

(Gwendolyn Woodschild is the penname of Jamie D. Woods)

Jamie D. Woods spent her pre-teen years surviving local bullies by riding horses and writing high fantasy. “I might have been a little dark and twisty at a young age,” she laughs. These early pastimes have turned into passions for the effervescent author, who still spends her free time writing science fiction and paranormal fantasy when she’s not riding.

She chose her pen name to honor the maternal side of her family with her grandmother’s first name, saying “Her death still ripples through the lives that she touched.” Also, Jamie noticed her name was ‘almost painfully generic and boring’ while ‘Woodschild’ showed her true self to be a “happy, barefoot child running through the woods”. The name suits her.

Jamie’s current project is a trio of interconnected tales which begin in a Viking village around 900 AD. “These stories follow a fisherman married to the leader of his village. While he loves ‘going Viking’ and raiding as much as his fellows, the simple work of being a fisherman on the open sea is what makes his soul truly sing. He returns to find his home destroyed and searches for the unseen forces terrorizing his village.”

These three short stories are also part of a paranormal series under the banner ‘Ghost Stalkers’, a shared setting including authors Barbara Letson and Leah W. Van Dinther. “I knew Brander’s origin story would be an excellent fit for the anthology’s theme ‘hidden magic’ because a core theme is a secretive antagonist, and the hidden source of this destruction is magical. Brander must uncover what is behind the veil of that world.”

This first story, entitled “The Catch”, will be followed by “The Rebellion” and “The Meeting”, created for the Magic Underground trilogy of anthologies, now on sale. You can find Jamie at www.ghost-stalkers.com.


66 stories. 22 authors.

Get three times the trouble. Three times the trials, and three times the triumphs. Get the hit collection now:

+ Hidden Magic

+ Wayward Magic

+ Forgotten Magic

Majanka Verstraete

Majanka Verstraete studied law and criminology, and now works as Legal Counsel. Ever since she learned how to read, she dreamt about writing books. She writes about all things supernatural, her books ranging from children’s picture books to young adult novels, all the way to new adult academy and reverse harem books. For more information, please visit http://majankaverstraete.com

Get her story in Hidden Magic!


Saleyna Loxley was branded with the mark of the Red Priests, like all mages in the Seven Kingdoms. These marks should make it impossible for them to access their magic, but Saleyna’s powers refuse to be bound by the mark burned into her skin. As an Empath witch, she can sense other people’s emotions and intentions, and influence them, for good or for bad.

When the Brotherhood of Whispers, a top-secret underground organization of mages, enlists Saleyna’s help, she’s reluctant to get involved. Overthrowing the Red Priests means committing treason against the High King since he was the one who decreed all magic should be banned. Plus, infiltrating into the Red Priests’ stronghold means entering the lion’s den, because as soon as one of them finds out Saleyna still has her magic, her life is forfeit.

When Saleyna uncovers things are far less straightforward than she thought, and not everything is what it seems, her magic might be the only thing keeping her alive… Find out in Hidden Magic. 1-click it today!

AR Johnston

International bestselling author, AR Johnston is just a small-town girl from Nova Scotia, Canada, looking to share her tales with others. She is known to write mostly urban fantasy, though she goes where the muses lead her and you never know where that may be. She is a lover of coffee, good tv shows, horror flicks, and a reader of good books. She pretends to be a writer when real life doesn’t get in the way. Pesky full-time job and adulting! For more information, visit  arjohnstonauthor.wordpress.com.

Get her story, Weather Witch Way, in Hidden Magic.

Everything was perfect for Sky in her last year at Borden Hall. She was making plans and looking forward to a bright future. But fate deemed it not to be.

Rare powers awaken in her that could destroy everything she ever wanted as well as her own life.

Sky’s world is being torn apart, especially with the coven elders threatening to keep her under their thumb. But She will not be controlled so easily. The ace up her sleeve might be a mysterious stranger that comes at the right time. If only she could trust him.

Can Sky stay under the radar, or will she lose control and end up being used as a pawn? Find out in Hidden Magic.

Gwendolyn Woodschild

A small-town girl from the Adirondack Park in Upstate New York, Gwendolyn surrounds herself with horses, critters, family, friends, and trees. Always the avid reader, she used books to escape out of her school life and into worlds where the good guys win in the end. This led to an excessive amount of daydreaming as she lived within her imaginary worlds, which ended up evolving into her art in its many forms.

For more information about the author, please visit: www.Ghost-Stalkers.com. Get her story, The Catch, in Hidden Magic.

Brandur had put his days of adventuring and being a Viking behind him, happily trading his ax for a fishing net. One day he returned from sea to find an unseen danger attacking his village, terrorizing his neighbors, and his beloved wife in the middle of the chaos attempting to prevent an all-out panic. Frustrated over his inability to do anything about the danger, Brandur decides he must face the hidden truth of his past and unearth his buried talents in order to save his home and loved ones. Find out what happens in Hidden Magic.