Wednesday, December 2, 2020

HOLIDAY EXTRAVAGANZA RECIPE BY BARB JONES (BLOOD PROPHECY)

 

Holiday HTML There are 2 to choose from, please post ONE HTML 1 Recipe Pineapple and Bourbon Glazed Ham


One of my favorite holiday dinner recipes - I have hosted Christmas in my home every year since 2000.  I have tried a variety of dishes, combinations, food pairings with wine and this is one of my favorites.

Pineapple and Bourbon Glazed Ham

Ingredients for the Glaze

2/3 cup brown sugar (dark is better but either will work)
6 fresh cloves
6 bay leaves
1 fresh pineapple (core removed), sliced
2 tbsp chardonnay vinegar

To make the glaze:

1. Place sugar, spices and 1 tbsp water in a large frying pan over high heat.  Swirl with spatula until bubbling and golden.
2. Add pineapple pieces, chardonnay vinegar and cook for approximately 6 minutes.  Turn the pineapple pieces over until the pineapple is golden and glaze has formed from the fruit juice.  Set aside and cool.
3. Preheat over to 350.  Line a rack with bay leaves.  Prepare the ham by cutting around the edge of the ham and lift off the skin.  Discard the skin.  Baste the fat from the ham with some of the glaze and place the ham on the rack and set in a large roasting pan.
4. Roast the ham, basting with the glaze every 20 minutes for 2.5 hours until caramelized.  Add pineapple pieces in the last 30 minutes.  
5. Slice and serve with the pineapple.  

Queen’s Ascension
Blood Prophecy
Book Three
Barb Jones

Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: World Castle
Date of Publication: August 17, 2020
ISBN:  9781953271013
ISBN:  9781953271020
ASIN: B08DKK66PM
Number of pages: 236 pages
Word Count: 86107 words
Cover Artist: Steven J. Catizone

Tagline: Bloodshed. Heartbreak. Revelation.

Book Description:

When the darkness was compelling and the heart knew no bounds, was there really a right choice? With Michael’s life hanging in the balance, Amber had a choice: save her star-fated love or keep on the crusade to unite the magical community.

For Amber, her fate was sealed even before her birth and it was her destiny to fight the great battle ahead of her. But, when it came to her heart -- her friends, her great love -- Amber’s torn. Not only was she the Queen, but she was a human in every sense of the word. She was vulnerable. And so the very people -- Chloe and Michael -- that gave her strength, quickly became her weakness. It wasn’t her fault she loved too much, was it?

Nevertheless, the Tall Dark Man had set a plan in motion that could threaten the very existence of the Blood Prophecy. Would he gather his dark forces and succeed in destroying Amber once and for all? Or, would she assemble her powerful friends and save the world?

Amazon     BN



Excerpt:

Malakai, Seattle, Present Day

With the betterment of both Michael and Rae, Malakai was glad that they were well and fine; nevertheless, he needed some time to decompress. All the magical commotions that had occurred were too overwhelming for him. He needed some sort of release.

He enjoyed the brisk jog in the park, as he cut through the sharp wind of the cold night. But this did nothing to lift his spirits. He was happy that Amber’s smile finally met her eyes. That was all he’d ever wanted for her: happiness, that’s it. There was nothing more he could ask for—she was his priority. Yet, in the back of his mind, as in his heart, he couldn’t help but believe the ancient legend that he’d heard so long ago was the certifiable truth, as it was written in Eschmun’s scroll.

…her fate is tied to the true alpha of the wolves. A blood drinker will stand formidable, but it is the nature of the child to call upon the true alpha and bring him to the queen’s inner heart.

Could this be the truth? he often wondered as he traveled the world collecting artifacts and evidence supporting this notion. Yes, he’d crafted a reliquary, quite accidentally, and people assumed it was to keep the magic insulated, away from the humans. But that wasn’t the case, at least not for him.  He so wanted to believe, just from the sheer fact that it was said in the scroll. But Malakai was a man of logic, driven by cold hard data. Although wanting to romanticize that his destiny was tied with Amber’s, he needed confirmation. He wanted validation for the strong emotions he was feeling. 

***

Zaraquel, Seattle, Present Day

Walking the cemetery grounds as she so often did without the knowledge of her parents, Zaraquel wandered at a leisurely pace. She whipped out her phone and checked the time, which read midnight. Her brow quirked in confusion, as she had expected Loquiel some time ago. With her long hair styled in two braids and her bright red coat to keep her warm, she sat down on a bench.

She was elated that her best friend, other than the one that was currently running late, was alive and breathing. Rae had given Zaraquel a terrible fright, for she had never known the death of someone close to her heart. She shook, not from the cold, but from remembering the tragic vision she had of Rae’s demise.

A throaty growl awoke her from her thoughts. She heard the fast footfalls of someone, something, running toward her, and she put her fight training to use. Zaraquel spun around, so much so that her wings unfurled. But that did not deter the undead man from attacking her. His decaying flesh was a sight she instantly wished she could unsee, but she had to fulfill her duty and protect the people, which meant ridding the world of this monster.

She punched him in the stomach as her father had taught her, but that did nothing to stop him from throwing his fists at her. She dodged his poor attempts at aiming for her and grabbed his arm, twisting him around so he fell to his knees. Her weight on his back caused the corpse to fall to the ground. It growled in anger, shaking its head savagely, as if it couldn’t wait to get back to its feet. Zaraquel, however, had plans of her own. She stood briefly to step on his neck to keep him from moving, and whispered a spell she’d learned from a book.

“Capite obtruncato intestinisque extractis.”

She heard the cracking of his bones, the stretching of his skin; with a pop! his head flew off, gore spattering in every direction. His body went limp, as it was before he had risen from the ground.

Zaraquel sighed in frustration as she walked off, disappointed from another unnecessary and unjustified kill. She continued to walk the grounds and felt a rush of warm wind, the kind she felt every time Loquiel was near. She turned and there he was, right behind her.

 


About the Author:

Barb Jones was born in Hawaii, a place rich with culture and storytellers. As a little girl, scary tales about vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, and witches were her favorite kind — much to her mother's dismay. Her love for the supernatural never went away, even after moving to Seattle, far from Hawaii's majestic beaches with unusual colors. Despite the unmatched beauty in Hawaii, Seattle stole Barb’s heart and it’s here where her stories took on a new form, in a book of her own: The Adventures of Little Arthur and Merlin the Magnificent. 

Then, the idea for The Blood Prophecy came while she was sleeping. In a dream, Barb saw a unique storyline involving all the races and an epic battle of good versus evil. It was a modern-day plot with a three-thousand-year-old prophecy, The Blood Prophecy. Barb finished the first book in 2014, The Queen's Destiny. Two years later, she released The Queen's Enemy, and the third book in the series, The Queen's Ascension, arrives on August 17, 2020. 

She is not only a paranormal thriller author but an IT professional and mother of two fantastic children.  Today, she resides in Florida but is still a Seattle girl at heart.











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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

CROW'S CURSE SERIES by LAURA BICKLE HOLIDAY EXTRAVANGANZA FEATURE

 





Csodaszarvas
By Laura Bickle

The white stag
Hunted through years and centuries
Evades its pursuers, kings and huntsmen alike.
He has a more important mission.
He hunts too, you see
For the sun in winter.

He follows the sun south, 
Moving through forests blanketed by snow
Past trees stripped of leaves.
He searches out that cold orb in the sky,
Chasing it
Until it kisses the horizon on the solstice.

There
Then
He captures it in his mighty antlers. 
And carries that glowing source of light and life
Past the darkness and snows
Into the new year
Into the warmth and possibilities of the future.

Morrigan’s Blood
Crow’s Curse 
Book One
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: Sept. 25, 2020
ASIN: B08B9TJ4V9
Number of pages: 188
Word Count: 57000

Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Tagline: Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Book Description: 

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?



Excerpt Book One:

          “What have you got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.

            I backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.

            One of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”

            “Well, that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the unholy mess on the middle of my table.

            This. I’m supposed to fix this.

            A man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his scraped-up arms.

            My nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage go? Did he get a CT?”

            A nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images. I  squinted at them, muttering dark oaths.

            “Radiologist says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”

            I stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”

            “Will do.”

            I gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was moving, there was a chance for him

            I frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes, nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.

            My eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a laceration at his throat.

            I gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take a few extra stitches.

            I stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin, I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this party started…

            …when the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.

            I yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual hell?”

            The OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.

            But he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist, whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.

            I held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you comfortable and—”

            The guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.

            I swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR 6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.

            I straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him, and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone in the OR.

            The patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.

            “Hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself, that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved surgery after that.

            “No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”

            “I don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”

            “No,” he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can protect Emily.”

            He turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.

            “No, wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.

            He rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.

            I rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like a bug under a shoe.

            Curt had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”

            “He jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell, barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”

            I burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.

            “Stand aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown weren’t warning enough.

            But he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.

            “That man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man, figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal person would.

.           But he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.

            “You can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent. 

            My eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the remaining way to ground level.

            I rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.

            “What the actual hell—”

            The patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.

            That’s impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took two steps toward him…

            …and a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated their long shadows on the pavement.

            I breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him back to my OR.

            But…my brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on him as he turned, screaming.

            “Stop!” I shouted.

            Heads turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.

            The man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of this.”

            “Don’t tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the fracas.

            The shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.

            I yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my dropped French fries.

            Overhead, the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one could see.

            Or at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway, headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad above.

            As my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all were gone. 

            Ambulance lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.

            “Where’d the guy go?” a security guard asked me.

            A moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my face. I batted at it, grimacing.

            “I don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”

            The moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.

            With bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights, voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth, stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and light.

 



Morrigan's Bite 
Crow's Curse 
Book 2
Laura Bickle  

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: October 23, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing 
ASIN: B08B9GVMZM

Book Description:

Becoming a vampire was the worst thing to ever happen to Garnet Conners. But does she have to become a monster, too?

Garnet had a beautiful life…and it was stolen from her when she was turned into a vampire against her will. Once a successful trauma surgeon with good friends, she now finds herself hiding out in the basement of a coven house governed by hostile witches. Struggling with her vampiric urges, she despairs of ever returning to her former life.

Garnet’s discovered that she’s an incarnation of the legendary Morrigan. She dreams in blood, of the Morrigan’s other bloodthirsty incarnations over the centuries. Garnet’s dreams reveal her previous existence as Erzebet Bathory, and Garnet fears becoming that monster once again.

With the help of the witches, she attempts to learn to use her magical powers to control her vampiric nature…an experiment that ends in disaster. When her sister and friend go missing, Garnet knows she’s being hunted by vampires who will stop at nothing to bring her back into their fold.

Merrel, the vampire who turned her, offers her a bargain. He will return the abducted women, but Garnet must agree to spend three nights with him, training as a vampire. Garnet reluctantly accepts, but she fears giving in to her vampire nature and becoming the killer of the previous lifetime she’s reliving in her dreams.



Morrigan's Bond 
Crow's Curse 
Book 3
Laura Bickle  

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: November 19, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC 
ASIN: B08B9KRLKZ

Book Description:

To end the war between vampires and witches, Garnet must battle the queen of the vampires, a woman who the Morrigan narrowly escaped in the skies of World War II.

Garnet Conners, incarnation of the legendary Morrigan, has pieced her life back together. After being turned into a vampire against her will, she’s quit her career as a surgeon and taken a job on the night shift at the city morgue. To her dismay, victims of vampires are piling up at the morgue…including the body of the vampire who turned her, Merrel.

Merrel’s faked his own death to set into motion a plot to wrest control of Riverpointe’s vampires from their queen, Varya. If Garnet helps him, he promises to move the vampires away from Riverpointe entirely, leaving Garnet and her lover, the warlock Sorin, in peace.

But Garnet’s haunted by dreams of her prior incarnations as Alix, one of the pilots of the fabled Night Witches in World War II. Alix fought Varya during the war… and was nearly destroyed by her. Varya held a magical artifact hostage, the magical sword Durendal, which she still uses to control the Asra hive of vampires.

When the vampires burn down the witches’ coven house, Garnet and her allies must locate the vampires’ stronghold. She, Merrel, and the surviving witches must rip Durendal away from Varya…or the city and all its supernatural inhabitants will be devoured in flames.




About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at authorlaurabickle.com.











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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

INTERVIEW WITH TITUS MURPHY (BLACK OAK-THE LOVELESS CHRONICLES)

 



Another lucky day…we have author Titus Murphy in the house to talk about the first book in his series BLACK OAK. Welcome, Titus!

SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book. 

TM: His name is 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.

SC: It sounds like he is going to go through a lot. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

TM: I do. Although I don’t have a specific story myself, I have friends and family from Louisiana and they’ve shared their experiences with me about visitors from the ‘other side’ that they totally believe are real. Ghost stories, are only fake to those who have not experienced them and I believe that we all have the power to tap into the spirit world if we so desire.

SC: What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about? 

TM:I 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.

SC: Thanks for joining us today. Let's take a look at your book now.




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.