Other Side of Magic, Books 3 and 4

Out of the Frying Pan

Out of the Frying Pan

Exciting news for all you readers! Book three in the ‘Other Side of Magic’ series—’Out of the Frying Pan’, is on the shelves! Look for it here on my Website and in bookstores near you. Ask for it at the library or at your favourite bookstore. If they don’t have it, ask them to contact me.

Chapter One

Lyle was the first to open his eyes. Looking up he saw a light so brilliant he closed them again. He lay for a while trying to think of who he was and where he was, and then he dozed off again. As he was sliding deeper into sleep an odd chuffing sound interfered with his dreams, a sound he had not heard before and his eyes popped open again.

Now fully awake, he sat up, to find himself staring down the slope into the face of a large—a very large—grizzly bear. At Lyle’s movement the bear rose to his full height once more, the chuffing becoming a low growl. Lyle, in all his ten years, had never seen a live grizzly, only the ones in picture books. His hair stood straight up and skin prickling, he made ready to leap to his feet and run for his life. But on turning his head he saw Lynn, his twin sister, and Mr. Peter, and then Rob, lying unconscious amid the rocks—are they asleep? Beulah and Pugly are there, the dogs’ eyes tightly closed.

Where is Fé? No time to think about the cat; what to do?

The bear had dropped on all fours and is swinging its great head as it lopes toward them. Lyle crawled over to Mr. Peter and shook him. “Mr. Peter! Mr. Peter!” he whispered. “Wake up! Please wake up!” Groggily, Mr. Peter—Quebecois, naturalist explorer, friend and mentor to the children—opened his eyes. Everything is out of focus. He turned his head and sees Lyle pointing a shaky finger at the large brown blob coming toward them.

“Lie down Lyle, cover your head!” he whispered back. “You do not outrun the grizzly! Play dead, he may be only curious. Where is Lynn?” Seeing her lying, eyes closed, beside Lyle, he crawled to her and put himself between her and the bear, motioning for Lyle to get down behind him. He noticed something was missing from Lyle’s back, something important. What was it? Frowning, he hunkered down and cuddling the children, covered his head.

What was it? A chilling thought arose—there is another child…Robert! Where is Robert? Lifting himself he could see him lying nearby, but too far away to reach before the bear reached them. He covered Lynn with his body, prayed and waited, Lyle shivering beside him. A sharp bark made him lift his head again. Beulah, Mr. Peter’s big yellow lab, awakened by the smell of bear, was on her feet in an instant and barking furiously. Pugly also awoke to the racket, but being a small pug he could only stand beside Beulah and try to make his barks sound like a Great Dane.

The powerful bear odour was now only a few meters away…

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And now

Book Four—Into the Fire

Into the Fire

Last book of The Other side of Magic series

Chapter One

Consulting the car’s on-board map, Mr. Peter decided to take Highway Three, through Manning Park to Osoyoos and Trail and then head for the Crow’s Nest Pass. He had traveled across Canada before, many years before, though by train. It was the only way to travel in those early days. Roads were still pretty primitive and automobiles—except for the most expensive ones—hard on the bones. Later on he had enjoyed taking road journeys in his days as a naturalist-explorer, driving his old Bentley, before the Second World War once again interrupted that idyllic existence. Too old to join the army he went to France and joined the French resistance. Those were terrible times, nor had he expected to be involved in another war, least of all to come home with a witch on his tail; but now he hoped this trip wouldn’t be too eventful, except in a good way for the youngsters.

His stomach was beginning to rumble, and after all the excitement he was tired. He could see the boys in the rear view mirror nodding their heads and Lynn too was fighting to keep her eyes open. Finally leaving the city, the fields and farms of the Fraser Valley flew by.

“We will stop in Hope for the supper and the bed, eh, mes amis?”

“Oh yeah, Mr. Peter,” yawned Lyle, “I could sleep for a week!”

“Me too,” muttered Rob, though he wasn’t so sure about the week part. Solvieg, the name they would always know her by, or otherwise Evaline —evil twin sister to their friend and saviour, Elvira Pinkley—might catch up with them by then, even if she was a snake! Or she might change her shape and fool them again. He’d had more than enough of her, but he also had a sneaking feeling she wasn’t out of their lives quite yet. He didn’t mention this to the others, but if he’d done so he might have found they were feeling much the same way. The more space they put between them and Solvieg the better!

The mention of supper made them all hungry, and both they and the dogs needed to relieve themselves. Lynn had felt the restless stirrings of Fe’ when they left Vancouver. Now when food was mentioned he started up again. One would have thought he wouldn’t still want to fill his non-existent stomach! The signs for the town of Hope finally came into view and Mr. Peter turned off the highway, looking for a restaurant and motel. As they entered the town the young people pointed excitedly at the wonderfully carved wood sculptures of animals that adorned the main street.

“Can we get out and look at them, Mr. Peter?” asked Lynn. “They’re so beautiful!”

“Yeah, they’re really cool! Can we, Mr. Peter?” Lyle begged.

By this time Riquet had awakened. He peered out the window at the carvings, but all he could say was, “Ooooo!”

“Okay,” Mr. Peter replied, “but you four stay together, oui? See that restaurant down the street? I will go to look for the place to sleep and then meet you there in the few minute. But do not wander, I do not want to lose you before we even get start!” He let them and the dogs out of the car and went to look for a motel…

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Into the Fire

Bernice Ramsdin-Firth, Author

Bernice Ramsdin-Firth, Author

Last book of The Other side of Magic series

Last book of The Other side of Magic series

The last book in the Other Side of Magic Series—The Night Visitors, Return to Lolibran and The Witch’s Lair and Out of the Frying Pan—Into the Fire has been published. Those of you who have been enjoying the adventures of twins Lynn and Lyle, Mr. Peter and their animal companions, will be anxious to read Into the Fire.

Find out how, after Mr. Peter disappears, Lynn and Lyle, Rob and Riquet, manage to foil Solvieg, the cannibal witch. Her attempts to catch them sends them across Canada on a wild car chase, with Solvieg stealing one vehicle after another, even a train. It is a madcap adventure, with Mrs. Bagge, the twins former uncaring caregiver, coming back into the picture, plagued by the Faerie who had been left behind when the main group left for Lolibran to fight the war against Solvieg. After many adventures the exciting ending brings the series to a close. Or does it?

Below is an excerpt from a judge’s commentary on The Night Visitors.

Judge, 22nd Annual Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards

In the Night Visitors, the author has an excellent sense of setting, and you can tell throughout that she has researched her subject. From the Faerie to the Gaelic writing to even the fantastical hints at the land beyond the rainbow, all the small details are accounted for, making the novel breathe with a sense of authenticity.The story structure is completely solid. I was drawn in from the inciting incident in chapter one and enjoyed so many of the descriptive and lively scenes throughout as the author ramped up the stakes and the intrigue. The dialogue is also rich. The characters each take on their own life by their unique variants of speech, which is a treasure to read in a novel for this age group.The author also did a stellar job of making the novel’s scenes move at a brisk pace. The ending is surprising and surely leads to another book as children will WANT to know what happens with Lyle and Lynn now that they’ve traveled through the rainbow.

A Teeny Tiny Salamander

I was out in the garden and lifted a pot on the patio to clean the dirt under it, when I saw what looked like two worms, who skittered away so quickly I was surprised worms could move so fast. They were about one and a quarter inches long, (3 centimetres) and had teeny tiny legs and feet. One of them slid down a crack in the concrete and the other fled under another pot. I quickly grabbed my camera and took a picture with my macro setting. After much searching in my books, they look like Ensinatas which do live on the coast and can be very small. Someone might find them to be a different species, such as the Pacific western Salamander, but they are longer and skinnier.

My partner and I war so delighted to see those tiny creatures, as I had never seen any salamanders of any kind in our garden here on the west coast. They have moved on, but I know they are around somewhere, doing their best to hide from predators.

Ensinata? Salamander

Ensinata? Salamander

Reading by author in Chemainus

Book Poster

Book Poster


Mrs. B. and The Really Big Book Launch

Mrs. B. likes to write and she mostly likes to write stories for children, but specifically for the child in herself. Stories for children have happy endings, or at least endings that give one hope. And so with the urging of Brad, her graphics designer-cum-slave-driver, she decided to launch her Other Side of Magic series, and after e-mailing notices to the local papers, she found a venue in a nice little café in town. Her slave-driver made the posters and she tottered about on her dicky knee and a developing bursitis in her left hip, putting them up on any empty walls that presented themselves, pinning up yet another notice that purported of great things in store for the reader—if only they would take advantage of the opportunity. She also placed them in store windows, (where allowed) libraries and other venues that were willing to take them. She hated this part, she felt like a shill, promoting goods of dubious value; but she did her best, feeling the lash of her slave-driver on her back if she faltered in her quest for that elusive fifteen minutes of fame. She would then run home to give solace to her partner Gord, struggling with the damage a double snow-storm had wrought on their big willow trees.
In her daily meanderings, after picking up new book-marks and business cards, she had come upon a small notice in a book store of yet another short story competition and she decided to enter. With only four days, to go, she spent hours on the computer trying to send her story and pay the required fee through PayPal. But due to a frustrating lack of PayPal savvy and other iniquities with the entry form, she gave it up and begged the people in charge that she be able to send the tale by snail mail, though the deadline was now only three days away, (two of them week-end days with the post-office closed). They agreed. That taken care of, she turned to her book launch—what to read from her books? And once that decision was made, to read them aloud to herself; and what if everyone was bored to death?
The Big Day came. It came but without a word of the book launch in the newspapers. It came while her partner loaded boxes of her books in the car and left, at her urging, for the Bonspiel in Duncan. It came with Jehovah’s Witnesses, (while she, still in her dressing gown, was reading a chapter aloud) determined to convince her that she needed God, their own particular God, in her life. It came with rain. It came with rain that did not rain mainly on the plain, it came as if it wished to wash out any thought or ambition of the populace to attend a book launch, let alone chance their children being washed away in a flood. But she carried on regardless, committed to stand before, she now believed, a non-existent audience and offer her childish ramblings to the dead air.
Debating the merits of God was a lot more fun.

She arrived at the café to find nearly all the parking spaces filled and so she parked some distance away. The owner suggested she park at the back: but confused as to what the back of the café looked like, she drove too far. In a hurry, as time was getting on, she backed up—into a post, crunching the car’s light and bumper. Stomach sinking but with the kind help of the owner, they carried in the boxes of books she had hoped, (when she foolishly started this enterprise) that the milling hordes of fans would rush in to buy. She also brought wine and cheese and cookies, only to find she had neglected to tell the good people of the café she would be providing food. They, unfortunately, were less than impressed at this, expecting that she would buy these goodies from them. Mrs. B. relented immediately and they made up a lovely plate of cakes for said hordes of people.
Unexpectedly, out of the rain, umbrella upraised and blowing in on an East Wind came dear Eliza to help Mrs. B. set up. Writing colleagues and friends, Tom and Sharon arrived. Then came Mrs. B.’s slave-driver, Brad, and his long suffering wife Peggy. Another dear colleague, Carol, brought her mum, and then, with a— ‘Here I am and you had better believe it!’— Sylvia blew in, determined to sit on anyone who gave even a hint of causing Mrs. B. any trouble. All during this time a young person sat at a table, as if there just to eat café food and leave; but she stayed, apparently for the reading.

Watching everyone have a good chat and wishing she were one of them, Mrs. B. decided it was time to bite the bullet. She began the reading, attempting to give life to her characters, to make a case for them, entering the lives of people who hopefully would like to know more. Gord arrived from the Bonspiel and she shook to her toes, aware she would have to tell him about the crunched fender. But she read on, aware that this was, after all, the Ides of March.
Her partner forgave her immediately, though the cost for the car is high. Added to the cost of books, posters, book marks, business cards and food, the day may or may not have been a success, but it certainly was a day she would remember, and only repeat if her slave-driver has no mercy.

It is with love she writes this, and thankfulness for the support of her partner, her friends, and the urgings of her slave-driver to keep going, even while all this marketing business turns her brain to mush.

Grabber’s New Christmas

Christmas will soon be here so I have a little play for you to try. I wrote it for The Night Visitors. If you get your brothers and/or sisters and your friends together, you might like to put the play on for  your parents  and other friends.

Grabber the Giant



Santa Claus enters his living room looking very tired and speaks to his wife who sits knitting on the couch

 SANTA— My dear, there are such a lot of children this year, I don’t know if we will have enough presents for them all. The elves just can’t keep up and tomorrow is Christmas Eve!

MRS. CLAUS, (putting down her knitting)—Oh but we must! How would it be possible to leave anyone out. Have you counted all the toys? So many children have been good this year and there are so many poor children who deserve something nice for Christmas

SANTA—Yes of course I have counted them, but we are way short. Even without the bad boys and girls, there are still not enough toys for all. That awful flu we had in the fall really put us behind.

MRS. CLAUS—Would you like a cup of tea, dear?

SANTA— Yes indeed I would! Do you have any of those chocolate chip cookies you made the other day?

MRS. CLAUS— I’ll see, I think I have a few left. (Whispers to audience as she exits) I have to hide them or he eats them all up!

A very loud knock is heard at the door

SANTA  (calling)—Yes, who is it? (This time heavier pounding is heard)

 SANTA—I’m coming! I’m coming! Goodness me, who could it be at this time of night! (He opens the door to reveal an ogre)

GRABBER—(Stomping in and pushing his face into Santa’s) I never got any toys last year, or the year before that, or even the year before that! Well, I better get one this year, or else!

SANTA— (Putting his face back into Grabber’s) If I remember rightly you have been as bad or worse than the worst bully on my list! Didn’t you frighten a little girl nearly to death by hiding in her cupboard and jumping out and throwing a snake on her bed? And putting salt in the sugar bowls? And even worse, you go out of your way to step on spiders and pull cat’s tails! No, I’ll be giving our toys to children who help their parents and do their homework and are kind to animals. Oh no, my friend, the toys are not for you!

GRABBER—AAAAARRGH! I’ll crush all your silly toys! If I can’t have them, nobody can! (Grabs toys sitting on the sideboard etc. Begins to jump up and down on them in a tantrum) I never get anything! I Hate Christmas. I WANT SOME TOYS! (Throws himself on the floor and kicks his feet)

SANTA—Nope, sorry, not until you change your bad ways. Now, I think you had better leave.

MRS. CLAUS—(Arriving with the tea, puts it on the table) Oh goodness, we have a guest. Would you like some tea Mr…


SANTA—I think he was just leaving!

MRS. CLAUS—Oh no, Santa, not before tea! Would you like some tea, Mr. Grabber?

GRABBER—Oh yes, beautiful lady, thank you! (Gets up off the floor, takes her hand and kisses it. Santa looks astonished at this)

MRS. CLAUS— Tee hee! And do have a cookie. (Hands him a cup of tea and passes the few cookies on the plate to him)

Grabber grabs all the cookies and stuffs them in his mouth

Santa looks very angry as he see his cookies disappear

MRS. CLAUS—Oh my, you must be very hungry!.


(Mrs. Claus leaves to get more cookies)

SANTA—(Frowning even harder) I think Mr. Grabber has finished with tea. (Takes out his cell phone and calls his elves.) I think we have a 911 here!

 Four elves rush in and chase Grabber. He tries to fight them

but they wrestle him down and sit on him.

ELF—You want us to rough him up boss?

SANTA—No, don’t do that. Just let him up, but keep an eye on him.

Mrs. Claus returns with more cookies. Grabber gets up and looks pitifully at her

 MRS. CLAUS—Oh my, are you all right, Mr. Grabber? Really Santa! And you never even gave him a chance to finish his tea!

 Mrs. Claus brushes Grabber off and hands him another cup of tea

GRABBER—(Starts to cry) I never had any toys to play with in all my life. I don’t mean to be cruel. I’ll be good! Can’t I have just one toy?

SANTA—(Searches in his sack and finds a small Teddy Bear at the bottom) Well, if you really promise to be good, you can have this, but it’s all I can spare.

GRABBER—(Cuddling the bear) Oh, a Teddy all my very own! Thank you Santa. I will try to be good, but I really don’t know how. I only know how to scare people and do bad things.

SANTA—Hmm. I’ll tell you what, come with me and I’ll show you something that might help. Elves, saddle up Rudolph and Blitzen. We’ll see if you still want more toys after we get back.

MRS. CLAUS—Oh, do be careful dear, it wouldn’t do to have an accident this close to Christmas.

(Santa, elves and Grabber exit)


Children dressed in rags enter Some are coughing, others beg for food, holding their hands out to the audience. Santa and Grabber enter leading the reindeer.

SANTA—You see? There are so many children who are hungry and need so much. There isn’t even enough food to help them through the dark hours. I try to bring food to these children as well as toys in my bag. How can I give you toys when these poor young ones have nothing!

 Grabber—I didn’t know, Santa! I didn’t know! What can I do? Tell me what I can  do for these poor children?

SANTA—There are many things you can do but you will have to decide for yourself what is best for you.

GRABBER—I could make them laugh. People are always laughing at me.

SANTA—That is a gift indeed! Let’s see what you can do.

Grabber stands on his head, makes faces, sticks out his tongue. But that only makes the children afraid and they run away, all except one small child

GRABBER—Sigh, I guess I’m not very good at making people laugh. I guess I’m only good at making them scared of me.

SANTA—I thought you were pretty funny.

The child comes up to Grabber and takes his hand. He looks at the child, then hands her his Teddy Bear and a cookie he had hidden in his pocket, The child hugs him and exits

SANTA—That was very kind, Grabber. Now lets go home and see what we can do.

(They exit)


 Back at Santa’s house Mrs. Claus looks anxiously out the window

 MRS. CLAUS—Where can they be. It’s nearly Christmas Eve!

(Santa and Grabber enter)

 SANTA—Mother, this fine ogre wants to help out, but he doesn’t know what to do. Can you think of anything?

MRS. CLAUS—Indeed I can! He can help with the heavy lifting and carrying. He could even help finish the toys in the shop.

GRABBER—Make toys! Oh, can I? Oh thank you, dear Mrs. Claus!

SANTA—You can go with me and help me take the toys and food down the chimneys. We’ll dress you like one of the elves so the children who might be still awake won’t be afraid of you. What do you say?

GRABBER—This is the happiest day of my life!

MRS. CLAUS—(Hugging Grabber) What a good Christmas we will have, and you can stay for dinner with us. What do you say, my dear.

SANTA—As long as he doesn’t eat all the pudding!

Cast of children and elves enter and all sing together

Christmas Time, Christmas Time,

Christmas Time is near

Leave aside, leave aside

Put aside your  fear

With joyful hearts, with hopeful hearts

We will try to steer

Our course for good to last and last

To last and last the year

Christmas Time, Christmas time

Peace and Joy to yours and mine

Do good to all, in this aspire

And you will find your heat’s desire

Christmas Time, Christmas Time,

Christmas Time is near

Leave aside, leave aside

Put aside your  fear

With joyful hearts, with hopeful hearts

We will try to steer

Our course for good to last and last

To last and last the year