Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Full Moon in Leo by Brooklyn Ray ~ Deck the Halls with Books Holiday Extravaganza



Victor Lewellyn’s Honey Cakes

Honey Cakes are the perfect anytime treat, but are best served in the cooler months!

What You’ll Need:

½ Cup of Almond Milk

1 Egg

2/3 Cup of Flour

½ Tablespoon of Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon of Salt

2 Tablespoons of Sugar

1 Cup of Honey

¼ Tablespoon of Nutmeg

Vegetable Oil for Frying

What You’ll Do:

Beat the almond milk and egg in a medium sized bowl

Stir the flour, cinnamon, salt, sugar and nutmeg together in a separate, larger bowl

Add the almond milk-egg mixture to the spiced flour

Pour your vegetable oil into a frying pan (½ inch deep!) and heat to 350°F

Drop the batter into the oil one tablespoon at a time and fry until golden brown

Drain on paper towels

Coat your Honey Cakes in honey and sprinkle with sugar


Full Moon in Leo
Brooklyn Ray

Genre: Queer Holiday Romance

Date of Publication: October 1, 2020ISBN: 9798681122579ASIN: B08H1P6X2RNumber of pages: 210Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: BookCoverZone

Tagline: Small-town magic, two heavy hearts—one unforgettable winter solstice

Book Description:

Cole Morrison left Jewel's snow-covered fir trees ten years ago. But after a disastrous family Thanksgiving, Jewel seems like the only place left to go. When a run-in with a gorgeous stranger leaves him with debt to pay, Cole’s escape from his past turns out to be much more than a lonely Christmas vacation.

Jesse Carroway, the local Jewel witch, has been running his family's successful, small-town Apothecary ever since his grandmother passed away. When Cole stumbles into his shop and accidentally wrecks a good portion of his inventory, Jesse does the only thing he can possibly think of—offers Cole a job and himself some help for the upcoming holiday rush.

Cole’s clumsy with candles and doesn't trust easily, but soon Jesse gets a peek at the guy behind his bad-boy reputation. As the nights lengthen toward Yule, Jesse wonders if magic is to blame or if Cole might've fallen into his life for a reason…



Excerpt

Honeycomb littered the counter.

Jesse sprinkled golden shards into the scrub and closed his eyes, imagining prosperity and hope and truth, the ingredients needed to solidify the spell, cocooning around each piece of salt. The spell shifted. Strengthened. Like a lock, the honeycomb sealed everything in place.

“Will that work?” Cole asked. He crouched next to the reassembled shelf, scratching idly behind Waffles’ ear.

A smile pulled his mouth upright. “Yeah, it’ll work.”

“What happens now?”

“We package everything, tie a pretty bow around the jars, and put them out. Here, I’ll show you how to shelve product. Use the wooden spoons and scoop the salt into the jar. Fill it to…right about”—Jesse tapped the jar an inch below the top—“there.”

Cole followed directions easily. Every movement was slow, deliberate and precise, mirroring Jesse as best he could. Once they’d finished, Jesse showed him how to tie a bow around the lid with thin-cut burlap.

“I’m not great at this,” Cole said through a grimace, fiddling with a sad, droopy bow.

“Don’t think too much.” Jesse batted his hands away and undid the bow, retying it with practiced ease. “If you try to make it perfect it’ll look forced and…” He smoothed out the burlap, tipping his head back and forth as he searched for the right words. “Disingenuous. I mean, that’s pretty solid advice around here. Magic is messy and weird, but it’s honest. It never tries to be something it isn’t. Same with candle making and bath bombs and everything else. Don’t dwell on making your gift wrap look exactly like mine, just do your best to make it pretty.”

“I don’t exactly know how to make things pretty, Jesse.”

Jesse tied a bow, a little crooked, but good enough. He untied it again and handed the burlap to Cole. “Try again.” Cole held the ribbon so tight his hands quivered. Jesse could almost feel it—bones apprehended, too tense and strained to do any good. “Okay, hold on. You’re, like, ridiculously tense.” He heaved a sigh. “Can I try something?”

Cole’s flighty gaze swept to Jesse’s face. “Something?”

Jesse pushed the packaged jars aside and placed the stone bowl on the counter between them. He glanced over one shoulder. Then the other. There. He snatched the water bottle. “Can I see your hands?”

Cole didn’t move at first. His jaw flexed. Caution flared behind his eyes. Jesse waited, nodding from his open palm, dangling over the bowl, to Cole’s, twitching on the counter. His hesitation remained, even as he unbuttoned his cuffs and let Jesse take his hand.

Carefully, Jesse smoothed the leftover salt scrub over Cole’s knuckles, pulled one hand closer and pressed his thumbs to the center of Cole’s palm. Like this, guarded and entirely human, Cole gentled. His shoulders relaxed. Tension drained from his fingertips. Jesse focused on his hands, each one, pushing and kneading while Cole stood entirely too still, attention fixed on him.

The apothecary went quiet. Sometimes pressing trust through skin held more power than smiles or stories. As he worked the salt into Cole’s calloused hands, Jesse realized he probably hadn’t been touched this tenderly in a long, long time.

“Do these mean anything?” Jesse traced the edge of the koi fish tattoo on his left hand. Laced their fingers. Squeezed.

Cole’s throat bobbed when he swallowed. “Apparently they bring good fortune. Figured I could use some of that.”

“And this one?” He took Cole’s other hand, touched the wolf on his forearm, then went back to massaging the base of his fingers.

“I’ve been a lone wolf since I was young.”

“Wolves usually run in packs, right?”

“Usually,” Cole said, voice hushed and low.

Jesse wanted to read his palm. He wanted to map Cole’s past and future, find where his heart line met his destiny, just to test the universe. Is this a coincidence, he wanted to ask. Is there even such thing? He poured water over Cole’s hands and washed the scrub away.

“Better?”

Cole wrung his hands. “Yeah, much better.”

“Try again.”

This time, Cole’s hands moved fluidly, pulling a pretty bow into place. He smiled at the jar. Pride looked good on him. “Did you cast a spell on me?” he asked, grinning.

Jesse’s stomach fluttered. Don’t blush. He aimed his laughter at the ceiling and shook his head. Don’t you dare. “Not yet.” He reached for the keys in the drawer below the cash wrap and twirled them around his finger. “See you tomorrow?”

Cole’s brows twitched and his lips parted, but he cleared his throat and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll see you in the morning.”

Jesse wanted to ask him what he’d planned to say—what he wanted to say. “Goodnight, Cole.”

Cole knelt to pet Waffles before he shrugged on his jacket. He tossed a smile over his shoulder, footsteps crunching through snow on the sidewalk.

Jesse let out a deep breath. He glanced at Waffles, who sat on her haunches, staring back at him.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he whispered, and rolled leftover salt between his fingers.

 

 

About the Author:

Brooklyn Ray (they/them) is a fan of fresh brewed tea, long walks through the woods, and evenings spent reading sexy books. They write Queer Paranormal Romance and Erotica about witches, necromancers, and other magical creatures, and moonlight as a tarot and palm reader in the Pacific Northwest.

Find them on Instagram @brooklynrayauthor
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Friday, November 20, 2020

Poetry Corner with James J Crofoot Author of The Journeys of a Different Necromancer


Blue rose fairy dances in the air,
Dances lustfully without a care,
See her dance in gossamer dress,
To dance and sing, she does her best.

Sweet lovers she brings home to her nest,
Their tender love she puts to the test.
They dance with her til dawn breaks,
Her sweet body they do take.

Visions of mercies she puts in their heads,
Fairy visions, she takes them to bed.
She is no virgin this you see,
The lovers she takes aren’t meant to be.

Bitter the treat that was the pain,
She’ll never feel that love again.

-James J Crofoot


The Journeys of a Different Necromancer
The Locked Door Series
Book One
James J Crofoot

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Date of Publication: August 2, 2020
ASIN: B08FCKJK5D
Number of pages: 100
Word Count:  20k

Book Description: 

Thomas wanted to learn to read and write things only Xavier the Necromancer could teach. But Thomas learned much more. He learned to raise the dead. Then, with his knowledge, he set out for the distant sea. 

Along the way, he made an army, encountered a dragon, and fought thieves by the score. But, could he continue to use the knowledge Xavier gave? Could he hold to his teacher's views that all people were self-centered, greedy, and jealous of him for being so much better? 

Could he return to the obsidian tower to live a life where the world was locked out, where his teacher had kept all life away to simply be left alone? Where no one ridiculed and beat him for being different? Could he return to a life where only the undead, his risen, kept him company?


Excerpt

“I was with Xavier,” Thomas replied. With head bowed, he stared at his stew, sensing he would not be allowed to eat.

“Who?” His mother’s voice. Her angry, high-pitched voice.

Thomas looked up at his father to see a pipe halfway to a gaping mouth. “Xavier, you know, he lives in the tower. He wants to teach me to read and write. He wants me to be his apprentice.”

His mother sat down and stared at him.

“He’s got lots of books, scores of them. He showed me a book with lots of animals in it.”

His da sat back in his chair, silent. His mum folded her hands in her lap, also silent.

“Think of it,” Thomas continued excitedly. “Think of the things I could do if I could read. I could go and work for the prince in Targon, I could see the whole kingdom.”

“Go to bed, Thomas,” Da said.

The boy gazed down at his untouched food. It smelled good and looked even better, but his father had spoken. Thomas got up and climbed the ladder to his loft. Deep into the night, even after his parents stopped their whispered arguing, he lay in bed thinking of the map Xavier had shown him of the kingdom. He would find a way. He would be…what word had Xavier used? Necromancer. He would be a necromancer and he would see the whole kingdom.

* * * *

In the morning, Thomas awoke to the smell of porridge. Having had no dinner the night before, he hurried down the ladder. There he found his da already eating. His mum ladled his share into a bowl and then got some for herself.

“We’ve decided you may learn to read and write. None of that dark stuff, though. You hear? No digging up of graves,” his da said. “We want more for your life, Thomas. Now then, what does this friend of yours want in return? We can’t afford to pay anything. I suppose he mentioned a price.”

Thomas looked at his mum as she sat down. She folded her hands in her lap and remained quiet.

“He said it would cost nothing. He just wants someone to teach. Xavier said he’s getting old and just wants someone to pass on some of ’is…” Thomas paused trying to remember the word. “…knowledge.”

Da wiped his mouth with his sleeve. “Then we’ll give it a try. Only til ’arvest, though. You’ll be needed in the fields then. Anything after that and we’ll see.”

A month and a half, Thomas thought excitedly. I have a month and a half!

“No good will come of this,” his mum remarked. “Mark my words, that man never did any good for anyone.”

Thomas finished his breakfast in a gulp and got up to run from the house. He stopped just outside the door to pick up his favorite stick and heard his da say, “I want better for him, Sonya. This life is no life for my son. He’s smarter than this.”

* * * *

A month passed and Thomas studied. He studied geography; the world turned out to be a lot bigger than he imagined. He learned arithmetic, how to count to a thousand. Then moved on to reading and writing, eight to nine hours a day he went through the books and scrolls. On the second and third floors of the tower stood skeletons of various animals, there he learned science, anatomy, and biology.

The fourth floor, however, Xavier said he needed to learn a good deal more before being ready for that.

“The villagers are shunning me,” he said to Xavier one day after learning the word. “They whisper about me whenever I pass. Even my friends. Yesterday I waved to them and started walking, to tell them what I was learning, and they turned their backs and ran away.”

Xavier looked up from the book he held. “People, for the most part, are very small-minded. They shun what they do not understand or things that are different.”

“Was that the way it was with you when you first started studying to be a necromancer?”

“People always thought me to be a little different. Look, Thomas, you will see more, you will do more, than they can imagine in their empty heads. You will learn to create life from death.”

Thomas thought about these words for some time. He wanted to do more than just plant and harvest. He wanted to travel this world, especially the sea to the west, to see more than just this tiny village too small for a name. He decided he liked being different. He was already learning more than they ever would. Did not that make him better?



About the Author:

James J Crofoot started working at 11 years old and never stopped. He’s been a sailor in the U.S. Navy, worked in video tape production, made money investing in stocks, and traveled throughout the US as a truck driver and an army brat. He’s been to all four corners of the US and to the top of every major mountain range in the United States. 

Through it all, writing has been his first love, companion, and constant friend. He has so many stories to tell, he plans to spend the rest of his life writing. 

Born in Germany he currently resides in the "Great Mitten" that is Michigan. He resides with his insane family consisting of his sister, two spoiled but loving nieces, a brother in law, and two dogs.

He hopes you’ll enjoy his books while sipping tea, coffee, or cocoa on a rainy day.










Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The House of the Wolf by Alison Baird



The House of the Wolf
The Werewolves of Quebec 
Book One
Alison Baird

Genre:  Paranormal, Werewolf
Publisher:  Salon Books
Date of Publication:  2017
ISBN: 0969803168
ASIN:  978-0-9698031-6-4
Number of pages:  426
Word Count:  131, 320
Cover Artist:  Y. Nikolova 

Tagline:  The wolf within is the greatest danger of all.

Book Description:

In the barren arctic, a white wolf journeys alone across the tundra. All his life he has dreamed of the strange creatures called humans that dwell far to the south –– creatures that wolf lore says have an ancient mystical kinship with his own species. Abandoning his pack, he sets out to make contact with human beings and learn the truth.  

In the state of Vermont, a young girl embarks on her own journey of self-discovery. 18-year-old Chantal Boisvert never knew her parents, and she is determined to learn more about them –– especially her French Canadian father, who died in mysterious circumstances. 

When she arrives in the province of Quebec the wealthy Boisvert family gives Chantal a seemingly warm and loving welcome. But then strange and sinister things start to happen. 

Why do her relatives slip away into the forest after sundown?  Why does she keep dreaming at night of being a wolf running in the wild?  Who is the attractive pale-haired boy who keeps turning up, and why do he and his friends seem so concerned for her safety?

Could it possibly be true that the Boisverts are loups garous –– werewolves?


Excerpt:

It was the wolves that woke her.

At some indeterminate point between sleep and waking she became conscious of a sound.  It insinuated itself subtly and delicately first into her ears, and then her mind, becoming part of her dreams: a sound she had never heard before, composed of multiple high-pitched cries.  She visualized these in her head as intertwining silver threads, weaving in and out of the darkness as if it were a backing of black velvet: each strand clear and shimmering and pure.  They reminded her of birdsong or whale-music.  But birds and whales are solitary singers: this was a whole chorus of ethereal voices raised, not in perfect harmony, but in a kind of counterpoint.  One voice would begin, soft and low, rising to a thin quaver; then the rest would join in.  Trying drowsily to analyze what she was hearing, Chantal moved at last from fragmented semi-consciousness into full waking awareness.

Wolves – it’s a wolf pack!

She had never heard wolves howl in the wild, only in movies where the sound effect used was a single long wail like a lonely dog’s.  Never had she imagined anything like this.  The sound was beautiful, but also unearthly.  She had heard of things that could make one’s hair stand on end; as she listened, she swore she could actually feel the fine hairs on her arms and the nape of her neck pricking up.  It must be her imagination though, for the odd sensation extended even to where she had no hair, on her cheeks and the backs of her hands and along her spine.  She alternately shivered as though cold, and then flushed as if with a fever.  Opening her eyes, she saw the moon at the window: full, round, tinged with gold; a “hunter’s moon”. 

Springing out of bed, she went to the window and opened it, letting in the chill night air.  She breathed it in, in deep hungry gulps.  But she still felt sweaty and flushed.  She tore off her pants and tee shirt and tossed them aside.  Now the night breeze blew upon her entire body, and her hot prickling skin responded to its icy caress as if to a physical touch.  A brief giddiness made her reel and clutch at the windowsill for support.  Chantal looked down at her hands resting on the sill. 

But they were no longer hands. 

They had become two grey-brown furred limbs ended in broad, clawed pads. It was the fur that made her feel so hot, she realized.  Her tongue lolled, panting, from her mouth, its soft length spilling over teeth and jaws that now had a different shape…

With understanding came not fear, but relief and joy.  She was not feverish after all, nor was she in any kind of danger.  This was obviously just a dream.  She would wake from it soon, as she did from every dream, and then everything would be all right.  But now the wolf-voices called again, and the dream-body she wore yearned for the freedom of the outdoors, for the cool scent-laden air and the exhilaration of running through the forest.  She glimpsed indistinct, shadowy shapes flitting through the blackness under the trees, and eyes like glimmering stars turned towards her in invitation.

In one light easy motion, Chantal sprang out of the window and into the night.

 

About the Author:

Alison Baird is the award-nominated author of numerous novels for both adult and young adult readers, including The Dragon's Egg (Scholastic Canada), White as the Waves (Tuckamore Books), The Hidden World, The Wolves of Woden, and the Willowmere trilogy (Penguin Canada), and The Dragon Throne trilogy (Warner Books). Baird has also published numerous works of short fiction in Canadian magazines and anthologies.  She lives in Ontario, Canada.








Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Arts and Crafts with Elexis Bell: Trying New Crafts


Arts and Crafts with Elexis Bell: Trying New Crafts

If you’re anything like me, you probably went through a lot of hobbies before you found the one that stuck. Or maybe you’re still searching for the one that really holds you hostage.

I’ve always been the type to get into whatever my friends were interested in, learning a little about it, gaining some level of proficiency with it, then testing out a hobby that another friend enjoyed.

I’ve tried out everything from blacksmithing to photography, graphic design to mechanic work. I tried my hand at duct tape wallets and sewing and candle making.

I even decided to bind a book myself a couple times. Once in an attempt to make a secret compartment book without desecrating a book to do it, and another time to make a cool little journal. The compartment book was a success. The journal pages were bound, but I never attached the cover.

It took a long time to find an art form that I truly wanted to stick with (and pursue professionally), and yes, of course, I mean writing. I’ve been a writer since I was a child, but never had the guts to pursue it as anything more than a thing I did every now and then, something I did and hid away from everyone.

Now that I’m brave enough to dream of being a full-time writer, now that I’m brave enough to chase that dream, it’s become clear that being a writer doesn’t stop with writing.

The thing about being a writer, especially a self-published one, is that you have to know about a lot of things, or at least be willing to research them.

Want to write a character who’s an artist? It’s probably best to take a drawing or painting class so you don’t have them ripping canvas out of a drawing pad.

Want to write a character who loves gardening and preserves all their own food for winter? 

You should probably plant a garden or at least speak with someone who’s done it so you realize that frost is a killer, deer and rabbits are terrible creatures, and the odor of vinegar will saturate the entire house during pickling.

And that’s just the writing portion. Self-published authors have to either pay for the creation of their graphics and covers… or make them. And the only way to really justify making them yourself is if you have some sort of background in graphic design.

So, all those years of dabbling without ever settling on one specific craft have actually served to inform my writing and aid in the pursuit of that yet-elusive dream of being a full-time author.

Instead of stopping to research things mid-writing session, I can just draw on all those classes, all those little adventures in new hobbies learning from people I knew.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on marketing graphics or covers, I can just think back to all those art classes and graphic design classes and make them myself. (Though, I still seek feedback from other people before finalizing anything.)

So, don’t be afraid to try something new.

If you see a new craft that you want to try out, do it. In the end, when you find one you’re truly passionate about, all that experience can inform the craft you stick with.



A Heart of Salt and Silver
Elexis Bell

Genre: Dark supernatural high fantasy romance

Date of Publication: 11/3/2020

Cover Artist: Elexis Bell 

Tagline: With eternity on the line, is love worth the risk?

Book Description: 

Ness, a demi-demon with a conscience, just wanted a peaceful afternoon in the Forest of Immortals. But Elias, a reckless mortal, went and spoiled it. Not that he wanted to be chased by psychotic vampires.

After saving his life, Ness agrees to help him find his estranged father and his Pack. But that means facing Nolan, the werewolf ex that holds her heart.

Now, Ness must decide. Use Elias to forget Nolan at the cost of his soul or crawl back to her ex and hope he still wants her even though she broke his heart.

But in a world sprinkled with immortals, broken hearts might be the least of their worries.

Fans of gritty fiction, compelling romance, and imaginative takes on magic and the afterlife will love this dark supernatural high fantasy romance.


Excerpt 2:

With my good arm, I pull my leg up to bend the knee. Hiking the hem of my dress up, I reveal torn muscle and shredded skin. I wince as the fabric moves over it, tugging flaps of skin in directions they aren’t meant to go.

Elias’ hands set to work, scooping water up, and pouring it over my thigh. Each drop, gentle as the administration of them may be, pulls a moan of pain from my lips. Wrapping fingers tightly around a stone, I do what I can to bear the pain without making Elias feel worse.

The blood washes away, revealing the true devastation wrought by the dead wolf’s jaws. My leg hangs open, dark muscle showing itself to the sky as it was never meant to do.

“Itand have mercy,” he whispers, calling on the goddess of fortitude.

But she’ll spare no blessings for the likes of me.

“What do I need to do?” he asks. His eyes roam over me, and one hand finds its way to my cheek. Brows knitted together, he clearly longs for something to do, some reassurance that I’ll be ok.

Does he want me to be alright for the sake of spending more time together? Or merely for the sake of having an escort for the rest of the trek?

I hope for his sake that it’s the latter. But the well of loneliness within me wishes for the former.

Either way, there’s nothing he can do.

“My body will mend itself,” I tell him. “It’ll hurt, but it’ll mend. It’s already started.”

His eyes drop to my arm, my leg. The bleeding has stopped, and the cuts aren’t as deep as they were mere seconds ago. Had he seen it when the wounds were first inflicted, he likely would’ve been sick.

“I wish you would’ve let me help,” he murmurs, sliding his hand along my jaw until his thumb finds my earlobe.

Exhaustion pulls my inhibitions low. Despite myself, despite the guilt churning within me, I lean into his caress.

Nolan won’t want me back, anyway.

My heart shrinks from the thought, and I close my eyes, nuzzling my cheek into Elias’ palm.

“Letting you help would’ve been a terrible idea. They could never kill me. They had no salt, no silver. They couldn’t say any incantations.”

I pause, squeezing my eyes tight against the horrid images which flash before them. I don’t want to see the ways they could’ve hurt him. I don’t want to watch them tear him to shreds. I don’t want to see his blood on the ground.

“They could’ve killed you, though,” I whisper.

Suddenly desperate to see him alive and healthy, to ease my conscience just a bit, I open my eyes. Sure enough, he’s there, face inches from mine. The moonlight glows in his magnificent eyes, but the blood of the Howlers still adorns his face.

Reaching for his sodden shirt, I lift a corner of it to his face. Wiping away the dried blood, I memorize the strength in his jaw, the kindness in his eyes. I trace the small kink in his nose, a remnant from a previous fight.

From a distance, it’s almost impossible to notice, but this close…

My eyes drop to his lips, full and soft. They part, but only to speak.

Confusion wrinkles his brow. “If they couldn’t kill you, why were they sent after us? To maim you and kill me?”

“No,” I say, shaking my head. I stifle a groan as my thigh stitches itself together. “They sent them to find us. They know where we are, now. They know which way we were headed. They’ll find us.”

Those words sew our lips shut, for we both know. This won’t be the last of the vampire and his pledge. And if this was just the search party, what awaits us down the path?

About the Author: 

Elexis Bell is a quiet nerd with too many hobbies, including everything from gaming to shower-singing and even archery, weather permitting. She specializes in sarcasm and writing stories that make people feel. She's made a home for herself with her husband, their dog, and a small army of cats.

She writes dark, gritty stories, sprinkling gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, thrillers, post-apocalyptic romance, and science fiction.

For further information, follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, or check out her blog on her website.

Website: www.elexisbell.com 

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gnTZwf   

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elexis-Bell-877360839111331/   

Twitter: www.twitter.com/bell_elexis 

Blog: http://www.elexisbell.com/blog/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/elexis_bell 

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elexis_bell/

Allauthor: https://allauthor.com/author/elexisbell/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17807452.Elexis_Bell

Nanowrimo: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/elexisbell

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Bewitching Book Tours Holiday Sale

 


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Balancing Family and Writing with Titus Murphy

 

Setting aside enough time to write while still being a husband and father to my family - the balancing act can be a struggle, but I utilize opportunities and experiences as motivation to stay the course and get the book done. 

Since I’ve just started along this journey, I’ve only been to a couple of conventions and have not met many of my writing idols, but I did happen to meet a lot of young, talented other authors who have been very supportive and shared their ideas of success and failures along the way.  

In my leisure time, I use other book favorites of mine as inspiration. I really enjoyed Divergent. It was one of the first YA books that I read straight through and I just recall thinking to myself, ‘This is really good.’ And when I heard that it was being made into a movie, I was so excited to see how well it would come together.

With writing, I use the advice from other authors to encourage other young authors as myself. Take your time and flesh out the story that you fall in love with first. I think that sometimes as a writer, you get so involved with trying to create a story that everyone will like, but that’s a difficult place to be in because you’ve got to go with your instincts and try not to get too involved with pleasing other people that you lose the vision. As the writing process evolves, you start with a cool idea, but then you have to be able to sketch it out over time, especially if you want to create a series. 

The difficulty of structuring the books to carry the narrative just enough to build on the key elements while not diluting the content is a huge challenge. But once the characters start to take on a personality of their own, it really starts to come together nicely. The support of my entire family has been the capstone that’s grounded me and helped me to get to the place where I am today. Without them, it’d be impossible to do what I’ve done thus far. 

Black Oak, is my baby. It’s a paranormal, fantasy novel – Book 1 of the series – that follows a truck-driver who comes in contact with a mysterious beast while transporting cargo between New Orleans and Kansas City that sets him on the road to a mystical journey where he is exposed to a chemical element that changes his life forever. Surrounding all of Mark’s circumstances, is a historic backdrop of epic proportions that dates back to the early 1400’s, where witches, warlocks and mythical beasts battled for possession of a land that is an inheritance of multiple families. 

My main character from Black Oak is named Mark. He is the hero of the tale and he reminds me a lot of myself. A self-made man who has dreams bigger than his relative circumstances and his heat is big and has been conquered by the sweet woman of Sharon in his hometown. His story –arc will take him through quite a bit by the time the story have evolved through the series and where I envision him being by the time it is all over, will be quite a transition from the man we met in Black Oak. Along with what I’ve created already in book 1, have a slew of ideas for continuing the Black Oak series with 3-4 books, along with spin-offs that follow the stories of other characters as the tale evolves. I really connected with the characters in this first book and ultimately want to see them grow and have readers follow them on the journey and grow too.

So to all those other writers out there that may feel as though it’s too much to both be an author and a family man or woman, I’d say that it takes effort. The hunger inside of you to write your next favorite story has to be greater than the influence of fear. I did it, and I know you can too. Write down your goals, script out a plan and get to it. You can do it! I did. 

Black Oak 
The Loveless Chronicles 
Chapter 1 
Titus Murphy 

Genre: Horror, Fantasy
Publication Date: October 31, 2020
Publisher: Cosby Media Production 
ASIN: B08KRQDCGY

WELCOME TO BLACK OAK!

In the town of Black Oak, nothing is ever what it seems. Besides the wrangling local country-types, the city is marred by a history of indiscretions, murders, and no-named civilians perpetrating as heroes. But beneath the surface of this "run of the mill," Midwestern locale lurks a pervasive past that is about to come full circle: like a blazing blood moon.

Mark is an unassuming trucker who has fallen for a beautiful clerk working at a “Mom & Pop” store named Sharon, and nothing else in the world matters more than stealing her heart. But after making a run into the Bayou to deliver a package, destiny steps in and serves him a plate of "the unexpected," which sparks the flames of wickedness that will set his hometown ablaze. And as the secrets buried in this town begin to unearth, the truth will fan those burning flames until there is nothing left but ashes and chaos.

In the end, the only mystery left to solve will be if this is isolated to one town or involve the fate of the entire world...

FOREWORD REVIEW: "...full of interesting characters who hold attention...the secrets of their home are a binding force that brings the tale together."

CLARION RATING: 4/5 "In the fantasy novel Black Oak, citizens across two ears reckon with strange creatures among them."

Exclusive Bewitching Excerpt:

“I don’t mean to sound pushy,” Beth started, “but earlier you said that I’m a Dreamer. Tell me more about what that is.”

Zack turned away from Frank, walked over to Beth, and took a seat back at the table next to her. “I’m going to give you the short version,” said Zack, “only because I need to get to the real reason for our visit.”

“Of course,” said Beth.

“So straight to the point, you are a Dreamer, as I said before,” Zack said. “That makes you part witch and part psychic but with an added benefit of being more powerful than both. The main difference between you and normal witches is that you can see into the future without using magic because your psychic side empowers you to do so naturally. And you don’t even need to train this skill. Where other witches fail, you succeed because they don’t have the natural psychic ability you do. They have to use magic to see into the future.”

Beth gawked in amazement at Zack’s words. “So how far into the future can I see?” asked Beth.

Zack shrugged. “To be honest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the answers you seek can only be found in the grimoire. The grimoire is the most powerful spell book among witches and warlocks. Every spell from growing flowers in your garden to conjuring up lightning is recorded in that book. Every name of every witch and warlock, whether good or bad, down to every war, including the Great War of 1782 is recorded in that book. You can even find spells on how to create magical objects like amulets and talismans.”

“And even the mystical arts of performing magical charms and divination, on summoning or invoking supernatural entities, is also a part of that book,” Zoë chimed.

“Do you know how many supernatural beings would love to get their hands on that book?” Zack added. 

“Where is the book now?” asked Beth.

“Long gone,” Zack said. “It was given to a very powerful witch like yourself to keep safe. She also was a dreamer, the first of your kind, and the only one until now. You are the second, my sister, in our 250 years of traveling on this earth.”

“Only the second?” said Frank. 

“Yes, only the second, and we’ve been everywhere in this world, so that should tell you something. Your wife’s kind is rare.”

 “Well, the question here for you to answer now is, who and where is the first?” asked Beth.

“Her name was Tiara. And she died along time ago,” replied Zack somberly.

“I’m sorry to hear that. Did you know her? I mean were you close with her?” asked Beth.

“Yes…very. She was the one who taught Zoë and me how to use our powers,” said Zack. His eyes beat over to Zoë. “She protected us during and after the Great War. If it wasn’t for her, we would’ve been dead long ago.”

“God, I miss her,” said Zoë, finally speaking up.

“Well, now that you know everything there is to know, keep this in mind. Power is innocent. The one who wields it…” said Zack with a brief pause. He pointed directly at Beth. “Well, that is what taints it. He or she must decide to use it for good or evil. That choice makes a difference.”

“Just remember who you are,” said Zoë, cutting in.

“I will,” said Beth.

“Good, now let’s get to the real reason why we’re here,” said Zack. “After the great battle back in 1782, Jackals and witches all went their separate ways as the town was no longer viable. The fallout of the fight was tremendous; houses were burned to the ground. Bodies were everywhere, and the land was saturated in blood and rotten flesh. The stench was unbearable. It was all a complete mess. So some witches migrated to the east while others went north. Zoë, Tiara, and I headed west. After settling down for a few months, we split up again and went our separate ways. Tiara told us she was going on a journey to find someone very important and that she would be back in approximately one year.”

“If you don’t mind me asking,” said Beth, “why didn’t you two go with her?”

“We wanted to, but she forbade it. She insisted that we remain behind and give aid to any stragglers that needed assistance,” said Zoë.

“Yes, she did,” said Zack as he nodded in agreement. “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t live with the regret of my decision that day.”

“So what happened to Tiara?” asked Frank.

“We never saw her again,” said Zack, his voice raspy and soft. “But anyway, after 30 years away from Black Oak, we had grown very powerful, teaching ourselves the ways of mysticism and sorcery. And then one day in the fall of 1812, Zoë and I felt something: a surge of power we’d not yet experienced before. Not since the Great War. It was all in the air, calling out to us. So we packed our things and followed the surge to its source until it led us back here to our original home of Black Oak.” Zack took a moment to smile as Zoë placed a gentle hand over his. “I could see the town in the distance and, as Zoë and I approached, we started preparing ourselves for a fight because we didn’t know who or what was living there. But the closer we got, our minds began to calm. The visions before us were heartwarming. People were everywhere. Families and friends were bustling about. The town was good as new. It was like nothing ever happened and the magic we felt there was good and pure and untouched by evil.”

“You could sense it,” said Zoë.

“And now it’s happening again, but only this time, the magic feels different. It’s evil for sure, I know it,” said Zack.

“How can you tell?” asked Beth.

“Answer one question for me,” said Zack, staring intently at Beth.

“Okay,” she replied.

“What did you sense from my sister and me when you first opened your door?” asked Zack.

“Good. I felt good in both of you,” said Beth. “Nothing bad…not even a little bit.”

“And I too felt the same thing when I saw you. And I’m not talking only about tonight,” said Zack. “But what I feel in this town now is wicked. Mark my words. Something is coming. What’s more, is that something is already here. And that should be impossible. Do you know why?” asked Zack as he stared at both Frank and Beth for an answer. 

They were both speechless, but Beth took a stab at it anyway. “There’s some special magic protecting us?”

“Yes. A force field—placed over this town hundreds of years ago by the witches, that was supposed to stop dangerous beasts or any other supernatural creatures from passing through,” said Zoë. 

“But I’m afraid the force field failed against whatever forced its way in. Now Zoë and I need to find out who or what it is before someone gets hurt or maybe worse…killed.”

“Killed?” Beth inquired.

“Yes. On the way over here, we came across a sea of dead bodies in the woods. Most likely campers who were mauled to death, and it looked like the work of Riffs,” said Zoë nonchalantly.

About the Author:

Titus Murphy was born and raised on the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana.  From a small child, there was an overarching desire for Titus to do one thing: win. His drive and determination drove him to succeed. Armed with a strong mind, a quick wit, and a sharp tongue, he set out to emblaze his mark on everyone he would encounter. Unknown to him were the overwhelming obstacles and seemingly insurmountable tragedy he would have to endure. From this devastation came a resolve fueled by an uncompromising commitment that resonates through every aspect of his life. Forced from the city he knew and loved, Titus relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. It was there his desire and commitment came together resolutely to birth a dream that had long been held in his heart. Oblivious to detraction, and beyond all doubt, Titus would become an author. From the streets of New Orleans that marked his life, to the ink-graced pages upon which he now pours his soul, Titus Murphy has come to show the world that he is truly…something more.