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10 Things Newly Manifested Wizards Should Never Do

Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger series from Harper Voyager, which includes her Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone. Her newest novel is Breath of Earth. She's a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.
Congratulations! Your magic manifested itself. Maybe your teenage years won't suck quite so much, right? Wrong.
The good news is, you found my website. The bad news is, I'm not the top result on Google. If you're under imminent threat of death because of your experimental spellcasting (a cacodemon pursues you as you read this on your phone), call 911 or your nation's equivalent. Local police train to handle these things. If you're injured, doctors can glue your body together again--perhaps literally, if someone/something turned you into Humpty Dumpty. (This has happened. Do an online search for "Fresno High School Humpty Dumpty Tragedy.")
If you want to know how to survive as a wizard, you're in the right place. I'm here to tell you what not to do.
1) Never, ever, try any spell that is typed in Comic Sans font. Just don't. If you type up your own spells in that font, well, be aware that there are dark and eldritch consequences. I will say no more.
2) You tried out that spell in Comic Sans. Sucks to be you right now, doesn't it? Well, don't look for another online spell to repair the embarrassment you caused. Instead, search for your nearest conclave so you can get help asap.
3) So, you have body issues. Don't try to use magic to make anything smaller, and sure don't try to make anything BIGGER. Sometimes, when you're caught up in the power rush of a spell, the wind blows and the lightning crackles and you might swear you hear triumphant '80s Arena Rock, and this is not the right moment to make any size judgments.
4) Don't keep your magic a secret from your parents and peers. Have you read any books or seen any movies? You know how secrets like this play out. That's how quests start, and quests usually don't end with happily-ever-afters. Instead, they result in a wannabe hero opening an interstellar portal in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 2:30am and meeting a really cranky tentacle monster. It ain't pretty. (There's a censored version of the video on YouTube. Search for "Wal-Mart tentacles 2002.")
5) Love potions. No.
Edited: Okay. People asked me to explain. Love potions exist, but the real deal costs $$$. The only "love potions" you can likely afford are amateur homebrew repackaged in old Avon perfume bottles, with a taste best described as "tuna oil combined with fermented diet soda and car exhaust."
As a personal aside, if you actually want to make someone fall in love with you, you should be dropped into the ring of Hell where you're transformed into a small child forced to accompany a matronly figure who eternally shops for yarn.
6) Never trust a spell that's gone viral on social media, even if it's not in Comic Sans. People forward those sorts of spells because they "look cool." I mean, yes, it'd be wonderful if cooperative spell power could create world peace or cause annoyingly popular singers to suddenly vanish into black holes, but do remember that zombie chipmunk invasions do create a sort of world peace and that certain popular singers may be heavily warded so that nefarious spells bounce back at the caster. (Search for "The Toronto Portal Incident 2012.")
7) Don't try out spells in unknown languages. Sure, you might get the gist of that Latin because of your Spanish class last semester, but if you don't know for certain what the words mean, don't say them. Your local conclave can hook you up with some free online classes in Latin, ancient Greek, or Klingon.
You also need to have a clear idea of pronunciation before you try anything, even in English. Enunciation is the difference between summoning a hunky elf and a Honky Tonk Elvis.
8) Familiars are useful partners for a burgeoning spell-caster, but don't be taken in by misperceptions in the media. The truth is, owls are like feathery demonic Chihuahuas. They are smart. They are also, most often, evil. You might be thinking, "That's fine. I want to be an evil wizard, too." Problem: I guarantee that the owl will be smarter than you. In Internet parlance, you'll be pwned by your new owl overlord.
9) Don't forget to figure magic into your future plans. Sure, you can treat magic as a hobby--float a can of soda out of the fridge, converse with stray dogs to find their homes--but many colleges and employers are actively seeking applicants with magical aptitude. (There are some exceptions, of course. Necromancy is an awkward fit most anywhere, and frozen yogurt shops, as a rule, avoid employing wizards. Check YouTube to see why.) It's even possible to find familiar-friendly college dorms and apartment complexes, places that understand that fireballs and ectoplasm are negligible risks when hosting a new crop of wizards.
However, some of you already have an eye on the future, which leads me to my last point.
10) World domination. No.
Yeah, ruling the world sounds like a sweet deal when you're sulking in the back of your mom's minivan. Even if you plot a perky domination (rainbows and kittens for everyone!) it's not going to work out. Magical rainbows become sentient and start eating people. You can develop a fatal allergy to cat dander. Plus, if you persist in your megalomaniacal ways, you'll soon find yourself jailed in some impregnable floating fortress where you must handle call center duty for particularly repugnant political candidates.
I need to end this on a positive note.
Develop your magic. Develop your own adult self. Own up to your mistakes, even if you end up with temporary banishment to an isolated ring of Hell or a fundraising telethon. Take care of your familiar or an accidentally summoned Elvis.
And please, make sure you have a written will and your soul in proper alignment before you give into curiosity and try any spell typed in Comic Sans.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016


For a few years, I had an idea to write some kind of funny story melding witchcraft and disastrous Pinterest craft projects. I just didn't have enough of an idea to create a cohesive story. Then one day I read a comment on an online forum about Comic Sans being an evil font, and I wondered, "What would happen if a spell was typed in Comic Sans?" With that, the pieces finally came together.

- Beth Cato

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