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Goody Celeste takes you back to that one summer when life got real. In 1969 Rhode Island, Paul, a teen shaken by his parents’ divorce, meets a young witch named Cece. Even as she copes with news of a husband missing in Vietnam, Cece uses her “human magic” to help Paul and his friends face a seductive stranger. As Paul comes to realize, “Women have more going on inside than I ever imagined.” Goody Celeste is a coming-of-age tale wrapped in a summer idyll replete with groovy music, classic cars, gorgeous boats, sultry beaches, love, betrayal, and the Moon Landing. With a message of hope grounded by consequential life choices, Goody Celeste is a literary fiction novel with a dash of magic realism, complete at 85K words


Excerpts from Goody Celeste by Chris Riker

I turned sixteen in Rogerton that Moon summer, the summer of my witch.

I had to leave Rhode Island to understand how that summer and its people became me. It wasn’t until a visit home after living in Atlanta, a city too far from the ocean, that I first sensed the subtle magic. I craved clam cakes and fries from that one shack beside the big rocks in Galilee. Waves would break all around, and gulls would menace me, crying like starving refugees. Then there was the sky. The same blue expanse ignores cursing commuters on Atlanta’s Downtown Connector now, just as years ago it ignored daydreaming boys biking Rhody’s Scenic 1A to Narragansett. No sky is complete, though, without a threat of weather. Always in New England, there’s a storm coming.


Cece and I walked along, squishing the wet sand between our toes, talking or not talking. Just being. She reached down and plucked a knobbed whelk from the saturated ground. Lifting her shades to inspect the little shell, she reported, “No one home.”

Without warning, Cece released an eldritch shriek to the Dark Lord Cthulhu. I froze, certain I was in the presence of sudden onset madness. Cece tore the sunglasses from her face, flung down her towel, and charged into the light surf, whipping her arms about as if she were a little girl. Her silliness unfrazzled my jangled nerves.

The brilliant sun exposed a belt of deep navy blue which lightened again at a sandbar parked another dozen yards out. This shifting platform allowed swimmers to stand chest deep and wait for the right curl. A few people used surfboards, while kids rode the swells on inflatable rafts their folks got them from Benny’s. The real action, though, was reserved for the thrill-seekers who turned themselves into human projectiles. I was making my way out to join her when Cece torpedoed straight by me, embedded in a frothy breaker. Sleek as a dolphin, her toned arms cut the water like the prow of a racing sloop. She grounded to a stop and pulled herself out of the water, Venus minus her giant clam shell.


Cece collected pristine specimens in a net bag. “The moon brings these to us. You call it the tides. It’s all part of the universal song. It gives the shells their oceanic energy. I once placed a small shiny cowry into a Mojo bag and used it to catch the attention of a certain Navy flyboy.” Her eyes closed as she said it. I knew who she saw within her mind, within her heart. “I’ll use a few of these big ones on the rim of the tub for a ritual bath with sea salt and a sprinkling of wildflowers.”  I could picture Cece’s body in the water. She read my mind. “On second thought, maybe I should string them into a dreamcatcher.” Oops. Well, I was still a red-blooded teenage boy, after all.