Monday, April 6, 2020

Music Playlist for The Crimson Inkwell by Kenneth A. Baldwin

I strongly believe in the power of music to unlock memory and inspiration. Because of that, I love reading and writing with an earbud in, so long as it isn’t too distracting!

Luella Winthrop, the protagonist in The Crimson Inkwell has a sharp wit, but she comes from a poor area of her city in England. Throughout her adventure, she discovers great mysteries about the world around her and herself. I made a playlist that really helped me hone in on certain key scenes in the book. I won’t divulge some of them because of spoilers, but if you read the book alongside this playlist, I could certainly see it augmenting the experience. 

1. Discombobulate by Hans Zimmer

This is the main musical theme of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films. I listened to a Masterclass given by Hans Zimmer on how he developed the theme, and he decided to veer away from the usual musical approach to a Sherlock Holmes story. Instead, he found a wealth of musical tradition in gypsy culture and used that. I think this track does a great job at painting the town of Dawnhurst-on-Severn, the setting for The Crimson Inkwell.

2. Impossible Opening by Jan A.P Kaczmarek

The music from Finding Neverland has always inspired me. It got me through a tough time in my life. This song represents a great blend of anticipation, wonder, and energy that come with embarking on a new journey. It reminds me a bit of the multi-faceted Dawnhurst Police Force and its eclectic cast of characters. In particular, I think this song pairs well with Luella’s first trip to the police station.

3. Liz On Top of the World by Dario Marianelli

Dario Marianelli is a genius. His score for Pride and Prejudice changed my life. I found great inspiration for Luella Winthrop by the feelings in that music. This song, in particular, is a marvelous backdrop to the bittersweet sensation of victory at a cost.

4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21: Overture by Felix Mendelssohn

The carnival parked on the east side of Dawnhurst is a wonderful and mysterious place. For Luella, it takes on a deeper meaning as she explores its sideshows and illusions. There are many songs that helped inspire those scenes, especially the middle of this one, where it really ramps up into a showy and vivacious passage. 

5. The Magic Lab by Benoit Groulx

This mysterious, eery number from the soundtrack of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell’s TV adaptation makes me think of Bram’s yurt and some of Luella’s dreams. It’s a manifestation of the darker side of ambition.

6. The Rocky Road to Dublin by CaraNua

This is an old folk song, and I love the driving feeling this arrangement offers. It’s a perfect rising action song, as to me, it feels like something to roll up the sleeves to and dive into some hard, unusual work.   

7. Harry & Hermione by Nicholas Hooper

This is one of my favorite musical motifs from the Harry Potter films. It is hauntingly melancholy, a perfect song for those difficulties that feel as though no solution could ever be possible. Luella has a few of those.

8. The Price of a Good Trick by David Julyan

In my opinion, The Prestige is Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. This song, or soundscape rather, is foreboding and final all at once. I hear it when Luella discovers her own missteps and their inevitable consequences.

9. Saman by Ólafur Arnalds

Bittersweet and beautiful. This song has always given me a feeling of benevolent peace. I won’t say what scene it reminds me of from the book, but I hope you can find it.

10. Happiness by Jónsi and Alex Somers

This is more of a sound environment than a song, but it reminds me that there is magic out there. And, not all magic is evil. Some magic gently nudges us in the right direction on whatever pathway comes next.

I hope you enjoy this music as much as I do! If you read through The Crimson Inkwell and are reminded of some other songs, I’d be very happy to hear about it. Drop me a message on Instagram or shoot me a line at

Thanks to the Fangtastic Blog for having me as a guest post!

The Crimson Inkwell
The Luella Winthrop Trilogy
Book One
Kenneth A. Baldwin

Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Eburnean Books
Date of Publication: May 8th, 2019

ISBN: 1095674749
Number of pages: 277
Word Count: 97,000
Cover Artist: Vikncharlie

Tagline: A Gaslamp Fantasy Novel

The Crimson Inkwell is a story about journalist Luella Winthrop. In her journey to become Dawnhurst-on-Severn's most acclaimed writer, she discovers that her city houses dark, magical secrets too uncomfortable to believe.

When an enigmatic carnival worker offers her a pen that can turn fiction to fact, she quickly learns that tampering with the unknown can be intoxicating, lucrative, and dangerous.

Book Description:

Magic exists where we cannot see.

It lives in unexplained phenomena, in attraction to strangers, in a pen and crimson inkwell, from a trunk, in a tent, at a fair, in the fog.

I didn't believe in magic.

Before he died, my father taught me the world was solid. Reporting was more like science, anyway. Hard facts. Logical inferences. Of course, I wasn't exactly an award-winning reporter so what did I know about it? But, when Detective Edward Thomas told me he had seen a phantom, something woke up inside of me. I could have tried to dismiss it as a trick of the lamplight, but how else could I explain the body on the cobblestones?

Instead, I simply believed him, and not just because he was arrestingly handsome. I was engaged, after all, to a sensible, though older man--the same man who published my articles, in fact.

No. I believed him because somewhere, deep down, I knew magic was real. What's worse, I knew it was a part of me. The detective's ghost story had just woken me up.

As soon as I accepted this truth, everything changed. My writing career, my family, my domestic prospects, and my freedom.

What woman, pray tell, can fit three men and a writing career in her life and still keep her sanity?

But there I landed.

Byron was my fiancé. He was sensible. He could provide a modest life of means for my sister and me. He could also continue to publish my little articles in his weekly magazine. He adored me.

Edward was my detective, so good and true, straight as an arrow and noble as a knight. He inspired me to be something more. But, I could never live up to such a high standard.

Bram was a mystery. Who could say where his life had taken him before he met me or what adventures he had endured. Everything he did was curious. I was drawn to him in ways I didn't understand.

Could I escape this journey with my engagement intact? Which course would lead me down a road to the woman my father always believed I should be?

And why did I feel so angry all the time?

My fingers still have that enchanted twitch even as I peck these words out on an old typewriter. Before another episode comes, let me tell you what happened that fateful autumn in Dawnhurst-on-Severn. . .


“Excuse me,” I said, after clearing my throat.
“Who’s missing?” The clerk didn’t look up.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Missing persons will file with Ms. Turner down the hall.”
“I’m not here to report a missing person,” I replied. This was enough to give the clerk at least a moment’s pause. He glanced his terrier of a face up at me and squinted one eye in the lamplight.
“Has your husband beat you?”
“I’m not married. I’m looking for Sergeant George Cooper.”
“Sarge, you’ve got a visitor!” he bellowed down the hallway behind him before turning back to me. “Right down the hallway, Miss. He’ll be happy to have a visitor that isn’t a felon. I guess, assuming you’re not here to turn yourself in… You aren’t uh, you know, soliciting wares and suddenly discovered religion if you catch my meaning?”
This I did not grace with a verbal response. Instead, I leveled my eyes at him the way I used to as governess of an impish child, took off my gloves menacingly, and started down the hall.
“Please have a seat,” said whom I presumed to be the Ms. Turner the clerk had mentioned. She wore a tweed skirt and vest, and her hair was done up into what was once a bun. She too was busy in paperwork, pounding away furiously at a typewriter. I brushed off a filthy chair and waited. I watched Ms. Turner for some time, wondering what pathway may have brought her to this desk. She appeared older than me. It’s difficult to guess the age of women around the middle of their lives, but the gentle lines around her eyes hinted to me that she was now closer to forty than thirty. I noticed no wedding ring.
I felt an almost immediate kinship to Ms. Turner. It wasn’t a large stretch to imagine that I was looking at myself in ten years, pounding away at a typewriter, perhaps trying to publish works of my own in my spare time outside of my professional duties.
I have Byron now. I had to remind myself about my fiancé so often. How silly. Even when I was here on his bidding, for his publication no less.
“I wasn’t drinking on the job, sir!” I heard a man’s raised voice through the sergeant’s door.
Ms. Turner slowly looked up at me. “They all say that.”
The door swung wide open, and I was struck by what I could only assume was the model for a police force figurine. The man had an acutely trim waistline that stretched up into a broad chest and shoulders. His hair was combed impeccably, as if each strand dared not stray from its assigned position. His eyes, alert and lively, were peculiarly warm for being steely grey. His brow furrowed, and his neatly trimmed policeman’s mustache curved downward into a disconcerting frown.
He swept through the office door and stood erect, as though he was at a self-called attention. Behind him, the large Sergeant George Cooper, a man whom I could only describe as a younger, meaner looking Father Christmas, filled the doorway.
“I don’t want outlandish stories, Lieutenant. I want arrests. I want brigands behind bars. I want young do-it-alls like you to stop trying to turn every little case into the next apocalypse,” Sergeant Cooper stammered. He was only mostly red in the face.
The young lieutenant stood and, though he looked thoroughly unamused, took the tongue lashing admirably.
“You’ve got a visitor,” butted in Ms. Turner. Sergeant Cooper looked at me, and his expression instantly melted into a rehearsed sympathy.
“Ma’am, my deepest apologies,” he said, putting his hand on his heart. “Do you have a missing person to report?”
“No,” I stuttered. “I’m here… do you get a lot of missing persons?”
“Most of the women we see in here are reporting a missing husband or, regrettably, a missing child,” he replied.
“I’m sorry to hear that. But, and, well, I’m not sure how to put this exactly. I’m here from Langley’s Miscellany, and I—”
Before I could finish my sentence, the warm expression on Sergeant Cooper’s face melted away.
“You’re a reporter. Thank you, Miss, but the door’s over there.” He turned and retreated back into his office. I stuck my foot in the door, which was more painful than I thought it might be.
“I don’t want to be a bother. I’m just curious about the latest. I don’t mean to fabricate anything or inflate your efforts. I just—”
“You just want to be first to know about the dreadful muck the police force deals with each day.”
“Well, yes,” I replied.
“Like I said, Miss, the door is over there. I have a lot to do.” He put on a pair of spectacles and sat down at his desk. I felt a burn creep up my cheeks. It was one thing to be denied, another to be rejected right in front of a woman I had suddenly come to admire and a deeply handsome police lieutenant. The propriety!
“Please, you knew my father,” I said. He looked up at me over his spectacles. They were comically small for his large face. “Gerald Winthrop.”
“Jerry Winthrop?” the sergeant said with a laugh. “Devils blind me. You were the scrap of a thing always hiding in the corner, thinking we couldn’t see you.”
I nodded. He barked out a triumphant laugh.
“Your father was a hell of a man! Always sticking his nose in places it didn’t belong. Any mate of his in trouble, he’d be here before a spit trying to talk their way out it.” He stared into the air as if he could see my father in the office presently. “How is Jerry doing? I got into more arguments with him. He could take a yelling and deal it out in turn. If only my lieutenants had half the backbone. We exchanged words like lads in a fistfight.”
“Well, I hope you got the last word in then,” I said. His countenance dropped sharply.
“You don’t mean—how’d it happen?”
“Fever. Or something like that. I never did get a straight answer from the doctors.” I hated doctors. A fair majority of them might as well be bunkmates with critics.
“Doctors are thieves,” the sergeant said.
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Miss,” said a clear voice behind me. They were the first words the lieutenant said to me. The purity in his voice took me off guard. After losing my father, I’d heard “I’m sorry for your loss” time and time again. In nearly every case, it was mere etiquette, obligation, and passing fancy, as though someone might check a box of a tidy little list somewhere by saying the appropriate thing. This man, whom I barely knew, sounded arrestingly sincere.
I turned toward him, and he bowed slightly. Behind him, Ms. Turner slid into focus with two very inquisitive eyebrows.
“Yes, well, this is Lieutenant Edward Thomas. He’s our resident… bleeding heart and imaginist,” Sergeant Cooper said. Edward extended a hand.
“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” I said. His eyes were smothering. I couldn’t seem to escape them. He had no shyness about looking a stranger squarely in the face, that’s for certain.
“The pleasure is mine,” I managed. “Imaginist?” I inquired of the sergeant.
“No doubt in it. In fact, Lieutenant Thomas may be exactly what you’re looking for,” he said with a coy smile.
“I’m engaged,” I spit out.
Sergeant Cooper erupted into an ungraciously loud belly laugh. I noticed Ms. Turner turn her face down to suppress a giggle as well. Edward flushed.
“I’m sure you are. I meant for the stories you’ve been looking for,” Cooper said. I immediately felt feverish as itchy perspiration appeared on the small of my back. Luella Winthrop. Gift with words, I have.
“He has a story for me then?” I muttered, eager to move on.

“Aye. Lieutenant Thomas here claims to have seen a ghost!”

About the Author:

Kenneth A. Baldwin loves stories you can sink your teeth into.

He lives nestled under the Wasatch Mountain Range with his wife and dog. He writes historical fantasy. When he's not working on his next book, he can be found teaching story mechanics or sketch comedy writing.

Kenny has worked as a staff writer for TV, Radio, web, and comedy scripts for years. The Crimson Inkwell is his first published novel.

Get a free copy of the book through BookFunnel 
when you subscribe to the author’s newsletter

Saturday, April 4, 2020

New Release: Let’s Talk About Hex Erotic Short Stories from the World of the Vehicle City Vampires by Roxanne Rhoads

Let’s Talk About Hex
Erotic Short Stories from the World of the Vehicle City Vampires
Roxanne Rhoads

Genre: Paranormal Erotica

Publisher: Bewitching Books

Book Description:

After the humans go away, the supernaturals play. 

Welcome to Vehicle City.

Let’s Talk About Hex features sixteen erotic short stories set in the world of the Vehicle City Vampires, including two brand new, never before published stories.

Amazon     BN     Kobo     Apple     Smashwords 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Music Playlist for Destiny of the Witch by J. M. Davies

To me, music is vital and inspiring when I’m writing. I have a separate playlist for each book, and  the list is usually a mix of songs and instrumental pieces to coincide with the chapter I’m writing.

There are times when I cannot play music at all, usually right at the start when I truly need a clear head to get inside the character's mind. Once, I am in the swing of the story, I need the noise of music to heighten and add the background for the scenes I’m painting. It feels very much like I am the director in a movie.  

Some of the tracks on Destiny of the Witch’s playlist.  

Ruelle "Carry You" [Official Music Video]

Coldplay - Fly On (Lyrics)

Come Home - One Republic ft. Sara Bareilles (TVD Soundtrack)

Vampire Diaries Soundtrack- Holding on and Letting go

Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard Sorrow

Falling (with Lyrics) - Secrets in Stereo

Noah and Allie - In My Veins

Imagine Dragons - Next To Me (Audio)

Fleurie - Hurricane (Official Video)

Sansa Stark - I don't want to fall in love

One day We Had Today (Piano)

Keren Vega Abella

Seafret - Atlantis (Official Video)

Enya - If I Could Be Where You Are

Surrender- Natalie Taylor (Feat. in CW's Jane the Virgin, Grown-ish, and MTV's Finding Carter)

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys (Lyrics)

The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love

Never Let Me Go – Ursine Vulpine

Destiny of the Witch
The Rise of Orion Series
Book Four
J. M. Davies

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: J. M. Davies
Date of Publication: April 10th, 2020.
ISBN: ISBN-9798620706396
Number of pages: 247
Word Count: 77,293

Cover Artist: Gabrielle Prendergast

Tagline: Haunted soul-shifter, Ella Masters’ destiny is to defeat her nemesis, the Morrigan, and save mankind, but since when does destiny ever play fair?

Book Description:

In the thrilling climax of the Rise of Orion series, the stakes are higher than ever before as  Ella Masters risks everything to fulfill her destiny. As the last Welsh witch and soul-shifter, she has battled many enemies, but none as malevolent as the Morrigan. The devious goddess is determined to destroy not only her, but mankind as well.

Betrayed by her lover Marcus Drayton, an agent for the security team Orion, and facing impossible odds Ella must find the strength to fight her deadly adversary—alone.

Marcus is desperate to save Ella. In a daring and calculated move, he surrenders  himself to the Morrigan to prevent his soul mate from clashing swords with the harbinger of death. But has he underestimated what’s at play? When the seductive goddess, manipulates him—her true agenda in this twisted game is revealed. 

With the world a battlefield and the very balance of nature under threat, will Ella and Marcus defeat their foes? Will destiny keep them together or tear them apart?

Ella spun around, facing a bloody battle scene. Chaos surrounded her and for a moment, she froze, unsure what to do. Marcus was at the edge of the beach, fighting several monsters, and the cats from the island were jumping on the creatures’ backs and clawing at them, only to be tossed aside. Ghostly skeletal and sinewy figures swarmed the wedding party like ants, wielding swords and brandishing axes and slicing down those in their way. The creatures dragged thick swirls of mist from the ocean, making visibility patchy at best. The moans and yells grew louder.
When a one-armed corpse hollered and lunged at her with his silver blade held high above his mottled head, Ella launched into action. Luckily, with her attacker’s reduced eyesight, his aim sucked, and he missed, giving her time to duck out of the way. The sudden movement ripped the delicate seam of her dress, revealing her stash of weapons strapped to her legs. Grabbing her knife from the holster secured around her thigh, she twisted around, ready to fight back, but hesitated for a second, unsure where to stick her weapon into the boney carcass to cause maximum damage. A silver breastplate covered the creature’s chest.
Cries and roars surrounded her. Ella couldn’t believe the chaos and plunged the knife into the monster’s side, where pink muscle and torn flesh hung loose. The creature wailed but managed to grab her throat and squeezed it tight. His sharp skeletal bones tightened, shutting off her air supply, stealing her breath. Blinking to stay awake, she watched as a blurry figure grabbed the decomposing form. In one fluid motion, he snapped the creature’s neck and ripped the head off, dropping it to the ground. Heaving in a lungful of oxygen, she didn’t have time to respond as Roman, the prince of vampires, whisked her off the ground to stand next to Isabella on the wedding dais. The vampire pulled her in close and hugged her tight.
“I should’ve known…” she said, still catching her breath. “I detected a foul scent earlier. It smelled like a dead body,” Ella said. Being a soul-shifter, one of her talents was to detect other creatures by their scents. She crouched low with her small blade out in front, backed against Roman, Isabella, and several vamps as the fog swirled around them.
“That monster would’ve killed you, Ella. How the hell did they get through the wards?” Isabella asked.
“I would like to know the answer to that,” Roman yelled.
“The wards were set up so no one would get inside…” Isabella shrieked.
“Well, the undead are definitely here and they weren’t on my guest list. These creatures don’t abide by normal rules. They are deadly assassins who’ll keep coming until they have achieved their goal. The only way to kill them is to sever the head. Nothing else will work. But for us to do that, we need to be able to see them. Now would be a good time to use your unique gifts to get rid of this infernal mist!” Roman hollered.
“You think I haven’t already tried?” Isabella replied.
The prince switched his gaze between the women and the battlefield, obviously weighing up the odds. Ella tilted her head, calling out for the spirits to help to disperse the fog that blanketed the ground.
“You need to leave. There’s too many of them,” Roman shouted. He nodded at one of his guards. The vampire grabbed hold of Isabella’s arm, but she struggled in protest.
“I’m not leaving. You can’t ask me to, Roman. This is my fight too. This is our wedding.”
Roman kissed her on the lips and without another word, Isabella vanished, along with the guard. The prince flicked his gaze over at Ella. “Don’t look at me like that. After all, she’s hardly dressed for a fight, and the creatures have weapons that destroy our kind. You shouldn’t be here either, not in your condition, but I suspect you would protest as much as Isabella. Fortunately for you, I have no authority where you’re concerned. But tread carefully, my feroce guerriero.”

About the Author:

J. M.Davies, Jen is the author of The Rise of Orion paranormal romance series as well as several contemporary and YA fantasy novels under the name, Jennifer Owen Davies. Jen’s novels are available worldwide in Ebook and print format.  In 2014, she was signed with Secret Cravings to write the Children of Annwn fantasy series and in 2018 signed with Limitless Publishing to write the Bound by Love series. Jen is also an indie author producing and publishing work of her own.

Jen loves to create realistic and flawed characters who deserve a happy ever hopefully providing a satisfying read.  

J. M. Davies, Jen, is originally from Wales in the UK, but now lives with her family in a small town in New England close to the city of Boston, the coast, and the mountains. Both countries are huge sources of inspiration for her writing. Since she could read, Jen has enjoyed an eclectic taste in books, but loves all thing's romance, and from her love of the written word stemmed the desire to create her own satisfying stories. Although, a shortie at only five feet tall, she has a big heart and hopes that is evident in her storytelling.

Jen has been married for twenty-three years to her greatest supporter. She is mom to four boys, an adorable rescue hound called Ella, and a feline called Kitkat. When she isn’t writing paranormal or contemporary romance, Jen manages a local romance only book club called ‘Babes with Books’. She loves discovering old treasures at yard sales and revamping them, watching Grey’s Anatomy, walking on the beach, cooking, biking and when there’s time the gym. She loves to chat to readers and below are some ways to stay in touch with the latest news about her books and competitions. If you haven’t read any of Jen’s book sign-up for her newsletter, and you’ll receive a free book! 

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Love Spell in London by Shereen Vedam

Love Spell in London
The Cauldron Effect
Book Three
Shereen Vedam

Genre: Regency Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: March 31, 2020
ISBN:  978-0-9953447-9-2
Number of pages: 265
Word Count:  85,443

Cover Artist: Desiree De’orto

Tagline: By the pricking of my thumbs…

Book Description:

A healing witch hopes her stolen hellhounds’ passionate master will return soon to claim his hounds, and perhaps, notice her. When he does, not only does she catch his eye, but also that of his fiendish dark fae mother.

“Grace,” her mother said in a curt voice. “This is Mr. Devlin Chase Dewer. Mr. Dewer, my daughter, Miss Grace Elizabeth Adair.”
The stark introduction did not do justice to the young lady in the doorway. She stood with her left knee slightly bent, ankle provocatively tilted. She had raised her chin and head, emphasizing an exquisite neck, while her wide eyes observed him with direct, inquisitive scrutiny.
“He is here to reclaim his . . . beasts,” her mother said.
In Baroness Mandell’s hesitation over the word “beasts,” Dewer heard “demons.”
Her snub of his hellhounds slid off his back like a bead of oil. It wasn’t her first insult since his arrival. He had been here for forty odd minutes – feels like a month – awaiting this enchanting creature’s return home. All that while, Lady Mandell refused to be seated, as if admitting him into her home was an affront she could not take sitting down.
The baroness’s upright stance had meant Dewer must also remain on his feet. Not a terrible inconvenience as he had sat more than stood since leaving Wales yesterday morning. For the last five minutes, however, Lady Mandell had been shifting from foot to foot; suggesting their Napoleonic standoff would end shortly with either his departure or her capitulation by taking a seat and thus allowing him to do so as well.
“I have sent for a fresh pot of tea,” the old witch on the sofa said. Lady Mandell’s mother was apparently oblivious to the baroness’s intention to discourage their guest lingering.
Dewer was glad of the tea idea. He may not need to sit, but he was thirsty, for the raven-haired vision in blue in the doorway left his mouth as parched as a desert.
It was hard to mistake the family resemblance between these three females. All had high cheekbones, tall statures and a natural sensuality that age had not appreciably diminished. All similarities ended on the visual plane.
Miss Adair seemed intrigued by his presence, but wary. Well she should be. Thief.
Her mother, Baroness Mandell, had been itching to toss him out since he first stepped into her home. Harridan.
The eldest witch was the most approachable. Unfortunately, she was currently leaning forward to entice Farfur with a crumpet. Crumbs littered the Persian carpet between his feet and hers, as she made atrocious smacking noises from between pursed lips. Definitely Dotty.
Dewer took hold of Farfur’s scruff again, to ensure Dotty, his only ally in the room, would not lose her fingers if the hellhound decided to accept her insanely ill-thought-out offer of a treat.
 “We must leave for London forthwith, Grace.” A negligent flick of the Harridan’s hand, and the crumbs on the carpet vanished. “I hope your morning visit with your cousin was elucidating and makes Mr. Dewer’s visit timely.”
So, that is why Harridan permitted him to enter her home. She wants the hellhounds gone. Excellent!
Grace’s full mouth firmed, her hands clenched and that tempting ankle straightened, signifying that no matter her mother’s preference, Dewer was not about to depart with his hounds without protest. The young witch’s stormy gaze met his in a battle cry that tightened his chest muscles. He repressed the urge to smile with relish at the looming fight.

About the Author:

Once upon a time, USA Today bestselling author Shereen Vedam read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love and mystery elements woven in for good measure.

Shereen's a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily-ever-after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.

Blog – Magic Ahoy! :


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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Release Day Blitz Out of the Blue by Stephanie Rose Bird

Out of the Blue
Black and Blues
Book One
Stephanie Rose Bird

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publisher: One Odd Bird Press
Date of Publication: March 22, 2020
Word Count: 58,500 words
Formats available: E-Book and Paperback

Cover Artist: Najla Qamber Designs and Qamber Kids

Tagline: Out of the Blue is a young-adult, coming-of-age novel that seamlessly bridges elements of African American folklore and spirituality with Greek mythology.

Book Description:

When two worlds collide, only one girl can unravel the mythical threads and save her father’s life. . .

Mobile, Alabama, 1947

Bobby “The Shrimp Man” Daniels, a blues singer and shrimper from Mobile, lies unconscious in a hospital bed, suffering from a mysterious illness. His daughter Tina, a sheltered sixteen year old, torn between her love for her father, and her disappointment in his relationship with Kyane, his much younger mistress, is determined to heal her father, no matter the cost.

Kyane isn’t just a mistress, she’s a Siren, obsessed with her overwhelming desire to become human and merge her otherworldly singing voice with Bobby’s incredible music. She’ll do anything to get what she wants, annihilating anything, and anyone who stands in her way.

In order to save her father, Tina will have to travel to the Kyane’s world, a world of strange and magical creatures, and figure out how to wrestle his soul from  the Siren’s control. As Tina’s magical journey twists and turns, she’ll learn what it means to be a woman and what it means to save not only her father, but herself.

Out of the Blue is a young-adult, coming-of-age novel that seamlessly bridges elements of African American folklore and spirituality and Greek mythology.

Amazon     One Odd Bird Press

Chapter 2 The Denby Twins

Mavis, pauses and waits for her sister’s response, but none comes.
 “Maaaa-bel?” Mavis, projects her voice louder and annunciates each syllable of her sister’s name, but still nothing by way of a reply comes.
Three minutes older than Mabel, Mavis still takes her elder-sister-status seriously. She’s always watchful, attentive and curious about what her twin sister might get up to next.
Rather than wasting any more breath, she walks into the parlor, the swooshing of her heavy floral skirts grows louder with each agitated step. The sound, as much a part of her, as the swirl of her fingerprint, announces her presence to Mabel.
“I might have known.” Mavis’ disapproval is obvious.
“What you tink you goin’ find in the bottom of tat teacup tis time?
Lost in thought or perhaps a vision, Mabel continues to peer intently at the pictures forming in the tea leaves at the bottom of the china cup.
With a jarring clang, she sets it down heavily on the saucer, upside down, so the true reading can commence.
“Mavis?” She blinks several times, adjusting her eyes back to this world, so lost is she in her visions.
“I’m just wondering if you are ready. We need to head back over to the infirmary.”
“Does I look ready?” Mavis casts a dark look. Leaning back, her yard-long natty-dreads nearly touch the floor, as she props up her pink slipper-covered feet.
“Well, we ain’t got tat much time. Gots to see folk coming over later tis afternoon too, you know. Best we do what we gots to do in town, and then come back and prepare for our clients, don’t you tink?”
By the way her sister shuffled into the tiny, but tidy, bathroom, Mabel could tell Mavis hardly heard her.
Thrusting a soft white wash cloth into Mabel’s hand, she said, “Take yourself a duck bath and throw some’ting decent on.”
“For what?” Mabel asked.
Her twin is feeling fuzzy. She’s still not fully adjusted to the here and now. Mabel has seen it so many times over the years. She knows all about her sister, her moods, expressions, movements, so well that sometimes she’s sure she knows Mavis better than she knows herself.
“Silly old bird. We got to head on over to Mobile, to check in on Bobby,” said Mavis, slow and low, not even trying to veil her growing annoyance.
Never much on words, Mabel gets up and heads to the bathroom. First the water runs into the enameled basin, and then splashing ensues. Mavis is in the kitchen gathering the rest of her things. She perches on her foot stool. Mavis takes her time sorting through her collection of drying and steeping herbs. A foul-smelling asafetida brew, was an essential for her longstanding client, who’d fallen spiritually ill. That herb cleansed, strengthened and protected, all at once. It’s a formidable root with a pungent smell that’s unmistakable.
As a still-moist Mabel appears from around the corner in her lavender housecoat, Mavis finishes up the rest of her preparations. After a fresh sprinkling of hot foot powder on the insoles of her boots, she grabs her well-loved nation sack, a type of feminine mojo bag, and stuffs it into
the left side of her bra. She likes her nation sack to ride with her, directly over her heart. It is essential to what she does. The chamois cloth with which she’s wrapped the red flannel bag, feels soft and comforting against her breast.
“Yous so busy fussin’ at me all the time. You need to just shut your crooked-toothed- mouth and get your own self ready. Now, look at us. Who’s holding up who?” Mabel loved bickering with her sister.
But, then Mabel leaves the conversation altogether. She busies herself up, looking out the window, past the wildflowers and into the wood.
“At least I takes time with my visions. I prepare. It takes time,” Mabel said. The two constantly squabbled but are inseparable.
“Yous forgetting some’ting, ain’t you?” Mabel hands Mavis her Van Van oil, causing the fool’s gold chunks and lemongrass leaves to move about in the bottom of the tiny vial, which could double as a terrarium, were it not so tiny.
Mavis dabbs at her temples, wrists and the creases in her arms, as well as the back of her knees. Lemon and musk spread quickly throughout the room with all its tropical plants and velvet-covered chairs. With its scent, her mind begins to expand.
“Gimme some of tat,” Mabel orders more than asks, her hand is outstretched. Quickly, she mimics the ritualistic application of the Van Van, done by her sister.
Prepared with magickal oil known to open-the-way, the sisters set out.
Sugar-foot, how could I forget?
“Hold on a minute!” said Mavis.
She flies back inside to get her Lodestone Big Outfit.
“Dat your new stuff you ordered from . . . where was it now?” Mabel asked.
“Came in the post a couple of weeks ago, from King Novelty Catalog, from the south side of Chicago.” Mavis told her.
“I ain’t never really knowing what I be needing, so I gets me these big outfits prepared for instances like this. She’d wrapped it in a cloth smelling of lovely violet flowers, ranging from lilac to lavender, with its heady blend of oils and petals.
“What’s in dere?” Mabel pointed at the wrapped box.
“Well, you know I gots me some High John the Conqueror Root – just ‘bout the strongest, of all the magickal roots— and then, male and female White Lodestones to draw goodness, in whatever so form it chooses.
“Dat ain’t all dat’s in tat box, now is it?”
“Nah, not by a long shot. I got me some Devil’s Shoe Strings to trip up the devil if need be. Southern John the Conqueror Root, like High John but a tad bit stronger, and High John regular, that’s going to strengthen every’ting in this here box, and every’ting I needs to do. Oh, and dere’s a rabbit’s foot talisman for luck and agility,” said Mavis.
With her ear pressed to the box, Mavis shook the box back and forth gently. Hearing the sounds, something like rocks and pebbles, a smile brightens her face as she goes on with her inventory list . . .
“Gots the holiest of all incenses – frankincense and myrrh. You know in the Bible, around Exodus XXX it said some’ting like, ‘Thou shall set yourself up an altar to burn frankincense and myrrh.’”
“Hmm.” Mabel’s sigh was almost a growl.

“Oh, and dere’s Five-Fingered Grass, you know, dat one looks like fingers made from grass? Tat to pull good fortune.”
Then she shakes her outfit, ever so gently up and down. She needn’t worry about disturbing the contents of her box, as each element was cradled in its own individual section.
“Oh, and a dream book . . . I needs it, in case I hears my client has a special kind of dream that stick with him. Helps me interpret tings. Well, at least when theys talking, it help me a lot.”
After a painful silence, her sister responded.
“Yous pretty well-stocked for conjuration and rootwork, but you bes’ ta leave that dream work to me. I don’t need no books for dat. And you know I don’t go in for all that Bible crap. What you telling dem quotes for? Save tat kind of talk for someone tat believes,” Mavis said.


They didn’t see the need for a car, yet getting to town was becoming increasingly difficult for the two sisters, what with their flat feet and ever-growing bunions. They walked to their apprentice’s house instead, and hitched a ride on her Appaloosa mare, Finnegan. The girl, a twelve year-old named Sage, was grateful for how the two opened up new worlds for her, and she gladly loans them Finnegan whenever they need her.
While Mavis and Mabel have a modest vegetable and herb farm, on which the cottage is situated, that meets their basic needs, now and then, they need to go into Mobile. They go to visit folks in the infirmary, people who call on them for their ancient, mostly African, knowledge.
Finnegan, a steady bay roan, took the twins on rides into town for baking fixins like flour, baking soda and cornmeal, magickal and spiritual supplies, and fabric from which their clothes and aprons were made. In addition to providing transportation, Sage shares the metal filings from Finnegan’s shoeing, and this powerful substance strengthens their diverse, and thus formidable powers. They place the filings in their mojo bags and nation sacks and this feeds the ingredients, helping them stay alive and come together to grow stronger.
Sage, watches the two, marveling at how quickly their bodies conform with the horse’s, and how easily they adapt to her rhythm. If you figure Sage isn’t her real name, you’d be correct. It’s a name they’d given her when they’d first met her, and since then, it is the only way Miz Mabel and Miz Mavis, as she calls them, address her. They believe her to be a Sage, in the making, and they’ve grown quite fond of the girl.
Finnegan kicks up dust from the red-dirt road, and the two women, whom many mistakenly called witches, though actually one is a root doctor and the other an intuitive, go.


Watching her sister tether Finnegan to the post, a coldness creeps up Mavis’ spine, just as though someone has thrown a bucket of ice water inside the back of her white blouse.
Mabel has always been the dreamy sister, and Mavis sees that she’s lost in thought. She doesn’t even take notice at first. Soon enough, as is the way with the pair, Mabel feels her sister’s shock from the inexplicable chill, in her bones, in much the same way. With an otherworldly shudder, she nearly jumps out of her skin.
Even though they’re elders, the sisters have plenty of vim and vigor, and that spunk is accentuated by the Van Van oil. The magickal oil has seeped into their bodies through their pulse points during the half-hour ride. As usual, they ignore curious stares, because they know they cut quite the picture, what with the fact that they carry a black umbrella that matches their equally dark complexions. When anyone asked, they say it’s shielding them from getting darker, while this may be true, considering they carry it no matter what the sky condition it seems as though they just carry it because they feel like it. Then there is the floppy straw hats, complete with wide, colorful ribbons and pinned-on fresh flowers, the big, busy-patterned, aproned-skirts with old-fashioned petticoats underneath, finished off with laced-up mahogany-colored granny boots. They were an odd-ball pair who had mix-matched the most colorful parts of their homeland, Jamaica, with the staid manners of the Southern Negro.
They were two women who were used to walking between worlds.
A strange feeling overtook Mavis’ chill, as she clicks her stacked wood heels down the hardwood floors of the infirmary’s hallway. Instinctively, as she walks past the closed doors of all the patients, she reaches for her nation sack, the way a man or woman of the law, or not, might reach for a gun. Looking around to make sure no one was looking, she takes the bag of magickal herbs and special curios out from her bra, and squeezes it a few times, releasing a complex aroma in the otherwise sterile-smelling hall. Moving like electricity, the energy from her nation sack travels from her hands, up her arm and settles in her chest. Bolstered by its power, she quickens her step, after putting her powerful nation sack back in her bosom.


“What the hell?” Mabel said to no one in particular.
Mabel looked to the infirmary floor, where Tina laid. Dressed in her Sunday finest, with a dainty straw cloche to top it off, the reddish brown-skinned girl people call a Red Bone, was tiny and small, stuck somewhere between girl and woman. She likely doesn’t weigh much more than a couple of feed bags. She sure is a sad sight with a steady trickle of blood coming from her head. The poor girl is crumpled in a pool of water tinged pink with the blood flowing into it.
Tina was also surrounded by jagged shards from the shattered cobalt-blue glass.
As Mabel addresses Tina’s wound, Mavis goes straight over to Bobby’s bedside. She waves her hands over his eyes, which are still open.
Although her brass and copper bracelets clang loudly, Bobby doesn’t wince or blink. He takes no notice. His pupils seem to have rolled far back into his head.
Gently, she runs her fingers over his eyelids, closing them, and lays him back down, taking him out of the strange upright position he’s been stuck in. It’s difficult because he’s rigid, but she manages to do it, so at least if he awakens he won’t be greeted by the alarming sight of his daughter sprawled out on the wet floor, before him. Everyone knows how much he loves his sweet, oldest daughter, Earnestine.
“The devil is busy,” said Mavis. “Sho’ nuff,” her sister replied.
Even though, she’s perfectly capable of handling just about any situation, Mavis knows she needs to reserve her energy for doctoring, so she calls out for help.
“Nurse! Doctor! Orderly!” She uses the pointed end of her witching boot to hold open the heavy door and continues shouting, not caring a lick whether or not she upsets the other patients.
But before she has the time to go into a full rant, waking up sleeping patients, Bessie comes to see what all the commotion is about.
“What in the world?” Bessie calls back to Mavis.
Mabel should have known better. She’s usually so carefully in situations like this but seeing Tina on the floor stirs her sympathies something fierce. Mabel just jumps right in and acts before thinking things through. She’s about to give Tina mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Before Mabel can place her mouth over the girl’s, Tina reaches out and grabs the collar of Mabel’s blouse with all the strength she has in her ninety-five pound body. One hand latches on to the seer’s left hand. Quick as a wink, they’re connected. The girl’s touch acts like a lightning rod, pulling Mabel along an electrical current. Through this conduit, Mabel travels to a distant land– the land where Tina and Bobby are currently living.
Whether the father and daughter are captives or not, well now that’s still to be decided.

About the Author:

Stephanie Rose Bird is the author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning, “Sticks, Stones, Roots and Bones: Hoodoo Mojo and Conjuring with Herbs.” Her other books include: “365 Days of Hoodoo,” and “Four Seasons of Mojo,” all three were published by Llewellyn Worldwide. Bird also contributes to Llewellyn Spell-a-Day,” “Llewellyn Herbal Almanac” and “Llewellyn Magical Almanac.” She is the author of: “Earth Mama Spiritual Guide to Weight-loss” (Green Magic Publishing), “A Healing Grove” (Lawrence Hill Books), “The Big Book of Soul,” (Red Wheel Weiser/Hampton Roads Publishers) and “Light, Bright and Damned Near White: Biracial and Triracial Culture in America and Beyond.” (ABC-Clio).

She is a novelist, published by One Odd Bird Press, in the Young Adult Fantasy and Magical Realism genres. “Out of the Blue” is her debut novel in the Black and Blues Series. One Odd Bird Press will also publish “Pine Barren Blues.” She writes and paints where she lives (Chicagoland) with her husband, near her children, and along with some very busy animal friends.


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