Spotlight & Excerpt: Weep, Woman, Weep + Giveaway

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Weep, Woman, Weep

A Gothic Fairytale about Ancestral Hauntings 
by Maria DeBlassie
Genre: Gothic Fairytale, Occult, Supernatural
Publisher: Kitchen Witch Press
Date of Publication: August 25, 2021
ISBN:978-0-578-97464-4
ASIN: B09CV9P9SH
Number of pages:150 pages
Word Count: 37,935
Cover Artist: Rachel Ross
 
Nothing makes a woman brave except getting on with the business of daily life.

 

A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.
 
The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows.
 
That’s La Llorona’s doing.  She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check.  That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.  
 
Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone.  She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself.  But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.
 
In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening.  What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.
 
CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism
 
 

 

Excerpt:

One time, I was feeling mighty fine and thought I’d try something different. I saw this ad in a magazine where a woman was in an obscenely large bathtub and covered up to the neck in bubbles. This was in a room with a marble floor, and there were candles everywhere, and she had her hair up all nice and a face mask on. Well, I got to thinking a nice long soak after a hard day’s work would be nice.

This was a few months after my run-in with Sherry, and I was trying hard to let myself enjoy things more. It occurred to me after seeing her that her fatal flaw was not believing that her future was right in front of her. Or maybe she was too afraid to take it with both hands. I began to wonder if we didn’t hold back and do half the work for La Llorona with all that we ran from life.

So I bought some bubble bath and made more beeswax candles and set about having myself a spa night. I mean, my bathroom was nowhere near as nice as the one in the picture. My tub was only long enough for me to sit upright and was right next to the toilet, but I made do.

It was lovely. I mean, divine! I could see why fancy women liked this. I put on the radio, and the music was soft and sweet, like the candlelight against the fading day. I was so relaxed, that I was about to fall asleep in that tub.

That was when I felt cold hands grip the soles of my feet and pull me under.  I should have seen it coming. Why willingly linger in a body of water? But I didn’t, and that was how I found myself drowning in bubbles and thrashing around in my tub. It’s also how I learned that evil woman could find me anywhere—and I mean anywhere—so I could never let my guard down.

Her grip was strong. Seemed like the harder I fought, the stronger she got. I was flailing about, my arms searching for anything and everything to hold on to, when I knocked one of those beeswax candles into the tub. To this day, I have no idea why that scared her, but it did. She recoiled something quick at the hiss of the flame when the wax hit water.

I didn’t waste a second—I hoisted myself out of the tub and collapsed on the bathroom floor, choking and sputtering and sopping wet. Took me forever to clean up the mess and cough up all those flower-scented bubbles. My feet were cold and sore for days, with claw marks where her bony fingers hooked into my skin.

Whoever said bubble baths were relaxing was a big fat liar.


 

Witch’s Brew Cocktail

It’s been a while since I’ve concocted a cocktail recipe, and even longer since I’ve come up with one for Halloween.  I love a good cocktail because they’ve always struck me as one of the most basic kinds of potions.  Think about it: a good cocktail can give us liquid courage, exorcise a hard work week, or even act as a temporary love spell.  And as will all potions and spells, the medicine is in the dosage.  Too much and it’s poison, too little and your Friday night is perhaps a little less adventurous (wink wink).

It bears repeating that I like to avoid syrupy or excessively sugary ingredients and stick to clean tastes modeled after the classics when it comes to cocktail making.  I do this because most novelty cocktail—a la Halloween drinks—are sugar bombs.  Not my idea of a good time or a tasty drink.  Although I call these Halloween-inspired concoctions, I have been known to drink them throughout the year, especially the green fairy, a tasty absinthe-kissed cocktail perfect for ending the workweek and stirring up some writing inspiration for the weekend.

Lately, come Saturday night, I’ve been experimenting with this new drink: Witch’s Brew.  It was inspired by my garden and all the herbs I cultivate there: rosemary, lavender, sage…all delicious, all medicinal, all typically associated with healers and witches because of their various magical and healing properties. I started wondering how I could fold those flavors into a tasty magical brew.

I used gin as the base because of herbaceousness and went for a bold choice of mixer: chartreuse.  It’s what gives this drink the verdant green color we typically associate with potions.  It’s also an ancient healing tincture made from over 130 herbs.  It tastes fresh, like mint and fennel, with the other herbs as a strong supporting cast.  Yum!  I paired this refreshing taste with lime because I love a good gimlet and its variants.

The real kicker to this is what I do with the gin.  I infuse it with green apples—who doesn’t think of witches without thinking of forbidden fruit?—along with rosemary and a few juniper berries to make the herbaceousness of the gin really pop.  Also because I love rosemary, the natural protector of the herb world.  Juniper berries are also fast becoming a kitchen witch staple in my home.  Did you know juniper both protects good energy and repels the negative? If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is! Add a dash of bay leaf bitters, for the leaf’s powers of divination.

As with all spells (and drinks), feel free to play with the recipe. Chartreuse might be a bit pricy for some (though a little goes a long way so it will last a while!), try swapping it out with rosemary or ginger simple syrup or apple schnapps (or both!)—it will change the flavor, but will no doubt be equally festive, if with more sugar.  The infused gin makes about two cups of yum—plenty to experiment with or to whip up a magical batch of this brew.

All good spells require a little time, a little love, and quality ingredients.  While this cocktail is a touch more labor-intensive than my others in that you first need a week to infuse the gin, it’s worth it.  Plus, while you wait, you can prepare the right kind of energy you want to infuse into this brew.  Do you need a little more magic in your life?  A little more mischief?  A dash of hope or a heading dose of healing?  Whatever you need, let it brew until you’re ready to infuse it into a batch of this tasty elixir.

 

Ingredients:
For infused gin:
2 cups gin
1 Granny Smith apple
2-4 juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the juniper flavor to be)
1 large spring of rosemary

 

For cocktail:
2 oz apple and herb-infused gin
2 dashes bay leaf bitters
.75 oz chartreuse
.5 to .75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how tart you like it)

 

In infuse gin, slice green apple and place in clean mason jar.  Squeeze juniper berries so they crack a little—this will help the alcohol absorb their flavor more—and place in jar.  Pour gin over ingredients and let sit for a week, shaking when you remember to.  A day or two before you want to enjoy your cocktail, throw in a sprig of rosemary that has been slightly bruised, again, to help the alcohol better absorb its flavor.  I wait for a little on the rosemary because the fresh stuff takes less time to be extracted in alcohol and letting it sit too long in the gin muddies the flavor.  To use, pour gin through a strainer into a clean mason jar.

For the cocktail, mix gin, chartreuse, lime juice, and a dash of bitters in a shaker.  Add ice and shake until the container is frosty. Serves one—so double or triple the batch and invite your coven over. Pair with a chilly autumn night, a full moon, and a handful of spells.  Cauldron optional.

This post originally appeared on Enchantment Learning and Living, home of professor, writer, and bruja Maria DeBlassie, where true magic is in the everyday!


About the Author:

 

Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and award-winning educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her first book, Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings (Moon Books 2018), and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning and Living are about everyday magic, ordinary gothic, and the life of a kitchen witch. When she is not practicing her own brand of brujeria, she’s reading, teaching, and writing about bodice rippers and things that go bump in the night. She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there.

Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at  https://mariadeblassie.com/


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Spotlight, Feature, & Excerpt: Witch of the Cards + Giveaway

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Witch of the Cards

by Catherine Stine
Genre: paranormal historical suspense
Publisher: Konjur Road Press
Date of Publication: March 16, 2016
ISBN 13: 978-0-9848282-6-5    
ISBN-10: 0-9848282-6-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-9848282-7-2  
ISBN 10: 0-9848282-7-3
Number of pages: 265
Word Count: 76K
Cover Artist: Mae I Designs

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Fiera was born a sea witch with no inkling of her power. And now it might be too late. 

Witch of the Cards is a supernatural romantic suspense set in 1932 on the Jersey shore. Fiera has left the Brooklyn orphanage where she was raised and works in Manhattan as a nanny. She gets a lucky break when her boss pays for her vacation in Asbury Park. One evening, Fiera and her new friend Dulcie wander down the boardwalk and into Peter Dune’s Tarot & Séance, where they attend a card reading. 

Fiera has an unsettling ability to sense future events and people’s hidden agendas. She longs to either find out the origin of her powers or else banish them because as is, they make her feel crazy. When, during the reading, her energies somehow bond with Peter Dune’s and form an undeniable ethereal force, a chain of revelations and dangerous events unspool. 

For one, Fiera finds out she is a witch from a powerful sea clan, but that someone is out to stop her blossoming power forever. And though she is falling in love with Peter, he also has a secret side. He’s no card reader, but a private detective working to expose mediums. Despite this terrible betrayal, Fiera must make the choice to save Peter from a tragic Morro Cruise boat fire, or let him perish with his fellow investigators. Told in alternating viewpoints, Fiera and Peter each struggle against their deep attraction. Secrets, lies, even murder, lace this edgy fantasy. 

From Lovers of Paranormal: “Interesting story of witches, deceit, secrets, romance and friendship. Fun and creative.”

 

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Excerpt:

If I only had a week in this glorious beach town, I wanted to catch up with sleep and plunge into as many escapades as possible—even bewildering, outlandish ones.

We walked in, to the jangle of Mr. Dune’s door chimes. I skated around, ogling the floor-to-ceiling shelves brimming with leather-bound books on cosmic mysteries, spiritualism, and witchcraft. Two immediate standouts were Ten Ways to Practice Mentalism and Dona Bella, Memoirs of a Southern Witch. These were my fare, similar to a favorite book at the public library—a tome on dark magic. The most stirring part was about each witch dynasty having its own grimoire, a sort of magical recipe book. I had no clue as to why dark tales tickled me so, and often wondered about my taste.

Still, I read everything I could get my hands on, even boring books that drifted me right off to the Land of Nod. At my nanny job, I was so desperate for stories I even read the tedious articles about cooking and how to throw a proper cocktail party in Mrs. Cuthbert’s Reader’s Digest and Home Arts magazines.

 Mr. Dune strode toward us. His handsome aura and towering presence intimidated yet thrilled me. He was dressed in crisp, charcoal gray pants and a vest with a double-breasted pinstriped jacket. “Are you lovely ladies here for the séance?” He held out a long, elegant hand, studded with a silver ring. I barely collected my wits enough to shake it and nod. Dulcie’s hand whooshed out and hardly touched his before she clamped it protectively back to her side.

No doubt about it, he was the most striking man I’d ever seen. His thick mop of dark hair tapered into long sideburns, rendering his jawline a tad dangerous. I guessed he was in his mid-twenties. When his coffee-brown eyes gleamed at me, my breath caught, and a heat greater than any moonshine fired through me.

We paid the dime admission. He escorted us to a round, wooden table with lion-footed legs where we joined a heavyset older couple and a reedy gentleman with thin, blond hair. His lime-fizz eyes darted over to Dulcie, and then away. Two empty chairs still beckoned.

Dulcie looked terrified, so I smiled at her. She calmed enough to take a seat.

Mr. Dune strode to the window, loosened the crimson curtains, and lowered their heavy velvet over the windows, lending the already-pensive storefront a mystical aura.


The allure of creepy, ramshackle beach towns as settings for dark fantasy:
What is it exactly that makes edgy beach towns the perfect setting for sinister fantasy and historical suspense? I’ve always been attracted to the dark side, and particularly to strange beach towns. So far, I’ve set two novels in them.

When I first moved to New York City after college and a stint out west, you couldn’t tear me away from the dilapidated boardwalks of Coney Island. This was back before the arcade was renovated, back when the sideshow by the sea with its sword swallower and human pincushion were on full display. It was when a hungry, dirty capybara was caged in a box that read: Only $5 To See the Biggest Rat in the World! This poor critter was a plot point in Dorianna, my paranormal twist on Dorian Grey. And no surprise, I set Dorianna in Coney Island, and installed a sexy villain in Wilson Warren. He was an agent of the devil disguised as a videographer who prowled the beaches, making girls into viral Internet sensations for a very high price.

Fast-forward to my novel Witch of the Cards, set in 1932, about Fiera, a sea witch who has a special talent with Tarot (and not just reading the cards). Of course,I set it in a shady shore town, in this case, Asbury Park, NJ. You see, I’ve been coming to this gentrifying coastal town for years and know it well—its sunny moods but also its spooky, moody shades.
Around the turn of the century, and up until around 1945, Asbury Park used to be the stomping grounds of the glitterati. There were grand concerts in the art deco Convention Center, and people dressed to the nines would stroll on the boardwalk at night. Then came the race riots of the 1960s and the economic crash, and the place fell into major disrepair. Its only remaining claim to fame was The Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen rocked into the limelight.

About twenty-seven years ago, when I first ventured into the Asbury convention center, there was a huge hole in its roof that seagulls flew in and out of. And there was only one lonely saltwater taffy store on the boardwalk run by an ancient lady who seemed to have stepped out of a Stephen King novel. In Witch of the Cards the taffy sold in the shop has very odd effects, and I installed an illegal speakeasy in the taffy store basement. I turned the (actual) Paranormal Museum on CookwellAvenue into a place to hold séances that often went horribly wrong.

In Witch of the Cards, even the ocean hides terrible secrets.

There’s something about the scent of saltwater and hotdogs, the splintered, salt-dried boardwalk and the scream of people hurtling down on the arcade rides that gets my blood charging and my imagination firing. What about you?
Here’s a snippet of a scene when Fiera and her date Peter venture down to the basement speakeasy in the taffy store:

“Perhaps I was far too gone, but I didn’t care. Peter and I danced and danced. The room filled with the overflow from the convention hall dance—young lovers, bootlegger types with wide ties and cigars, older women with twinkling earrings and heavy bosoms, even a prostitute or two. I thought so anyway, because they wore way too much rouge and came alone to sit brazenly up at the bar with the gin rummies.

This time I couldn’t say whether or not I stepped on Mr. Dune’s polished wingtips. This time, he probably couldn’t be sure if he knocked his bony legs into mine. We had many more nips of absinthe, and I wolfed down another green-swirl taffy and before I knew it, I was leaning provocatively against Peter and laughing like a wild banshee. 
 
I remember gaping up at him to see his black hair all disheveled and him mumbling indistinctly. And I, thinking that he was the most gorgeous human being I’d ever seen. I remember Dulcie grabbing one of my arms, and Peter grasping the other. I remember all of us howling at the crescent moon over the ocean, and the shocked sideways glance of the hotel proprietor as we all stumbled in. 
 
I recall pulling out the Tarot he’d given me, and laying them out on the bedroom rug. I recall babbling at him—about a witch and a swindler and a boat—not necessarily in that order. I can still picture his expression of shocked surprise but not at what.
 
And I remember Peter’s lips branding my forehead—how could I ever forget that—while shocks of his lush black hair dangled deliciously on my burning cheeks. The last thing I recall before things went dark was kicking off my shoes.”
 
Happy Season of the Witch,
Catherine Stine
 

About the Author:

Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author of paranormal, urban and historical fantasy. Witch of the Wild Beasts won a second prize in the Romance Writers of America’s Sheila Contest. Other novels have earned Indie Notable awards and New York Public Library Best Books. She lives in New York State and grew up in Philadelphia. Before writing novels, she was a painter and fabric designer.

She’s a visual author and sees writing as painting with words. Catherine loves spending time with her beagle Benny, writing about supernatural creatures, gardening and meeting readers at book fests.

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Spotlight & Guest Post – Sea Mage: The Nightshade Guild + Giveaway

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Sea Mage: The Nightshade Guild

Book 10 Multi-Author Series
Louisa Bacio
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Celtic Hearts Press
Date of Publication: October 14, 2021
ASIN: B08L9RGGVS
Number of pages:120
Word Count: 25K
Cover Artist: B Creative Designs

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Take a SPLASH into a new paranormal romance. 
 
Never stand down
 
Serena Moon treats life like a beach goer taking in the ocean’s tide. It’s all serene until you turn your back for a second, and an errant waves knocks you on your ass. 
 
Know when you’re in over your head
 
When she’s entrusted with the safekeeping of the child elven queen, she enlists the help of mysterious — complete understatement— Peder, leader of the shifter sea dragons. Serena’s not sure what’s happening off the coast of SoCal but he’s got his own tricks. 
 
It’s gotta be safe
 
It’ll take more than magic and mastery of the sea to take on the evil darkness determined to capture the world’s salvation. Serena and Peder must conquer unknown enemies and the complexity of love everlasting to save their hearts.
 

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5 Things NOT to Do While Ghost Hunting
 
By Louisa Bacio
Yes, I’ve done it – actually hunted for ghosts. I have no idea why it’s a thing when ghosts usually come to me. I’ve done tours in California, Savannah, San Antonio, Texas, and New Orleans.
One hotspot that never fails to bring some spectral what-was-that moments is the Queen Mary in Long Beach. From slamming doors to words appearing on the mirror (yeah, I know it could have been the previous guest, but it’s still freaky) to that absolutely creepy empty pool below decks, the floating historical landmark is filled with potential for haunting.
So how about a what not to do while ghost hunting?
Here’s my list:
5) Wear Holy Water like eau de perfume, dabbed behind the ears. You are looking for ghosts, right? You don’t want to scare them away.
4) Sit in a darkened room, and inform the ghosts they’re allowed to “touch you” to let you know they’re there. (No joke! I went to an event with Amy from Ghost Hunters, and she actually called out this invitation!)
3) Invite the spectral inhabitants to travel home with you. My advice: Let them haunt wherever they currently live. Instead, I thank them for their presence, and actual say they are not welcomed to come with me.
2) Wear high heels. (Come on, we’ve all seen the horror movie. Sensible shoes, only, please!)
1) Duck under the sheets in a historical house. Probably frowned upon, and I expect the living will ask you to leave.
Got any more tips?
 

About the Author:

Since selling her first short story in 2010, Louisa Bacio has published more than 40 novels, novellas and short stories, including the paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf series and Winter Solstice Ménage. Watch for her upcoming Sea Mage in The Nightshade Guild series.

 

A Southern California native, Bacio can’t imagine living far away from the ocean. She shares her household with a supportive husband, two teenagers growing too fast, and a multitude pet craziness. In her other life, Bacio teaches college classes in English, journalism and popular culture.

 

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