"One of a kind!!

The book is easy to read, very visual. The characters are real, specially Granny Mar. And I like that it combines current times with ancient mythology specially because I am an archaeology enthusiast."    

From Amazon

"Azael's Lot by Karen Baldwin is haunting, yet quite entertaining and hard to put down. Loved it!"

From Reedsy Discovery    

 

A mysterious epidemic is targeting the unborn. Scientists don’t have a clue. But three unlikely women will figure it out.
Mira renounces her grim life in the Clan of Azael—an obscure band of witches who practice blood rituals, sacrifices, and worship Azael, a fallen angel. Longing for a fresh start and an ordinary life, Mira enrolls at the local college. Fate, however, has another plan. In the campus coffeehouse, she bumps into Ariana, an archaeological student who recently received a talisman on a dig site in Israel. When she shows it to Mira, Mira knows it’s the Seal of Azael and wants no part of it. Ultimately, her desire for a friendship wins over her aversion. 

They soon meet Granny Mar, an exorcist and a clairvoyant, who sees dark entities around the young women. She’s no stranger to all the manifestations of evil and offers her help. When Mira shares texts of the witches, the trio decipher Azael’s ancient prophecy of revenge against God and humanity. The heinous plot exposed; the women attempt to stop it. Their talents, strength, and prayers though, are no match for the spiritual and physical onslaught. If they fail, not only will life on Earth be in jeopardy, but the hierarchy of the Universe. They’d better find a way soon. Time is running out before the prophecy completes. 

 

About Azael's Lot

The story of AZAEL’S LOT didn’t come to me all at once like other stories I’ve written. This story came in fits and starts and always when I was in the shower. Something about water and my creativity, I guess. After months of dashing out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, dripping all the way into my office, then plunking away on my computer with the continuing tidbits coming from who knows where, I finally realized, after a year, I have a book here.

Never having written a novel before, only poems and short stories, the learning curve and fear of rejection seemed as daunting as a first-timer jumping out of an airplane and wondering if their chute will open. I guess it’s why it took so long for this book to get published.   

But more than the fear of the learning story elements was actually writing a novel-length story. And about angels no less. Definitely new territory. I’d never given angels a second thought let alone writing about them. Demons? Yes. Unfortunately, I had given them many second thoughts. More later.

Behind the Scenes

RESEARCH 
When I started doing research about the spiritual world, it opened up so many beliefs and writings I had not known before, specifically, my interest was about the fallen angels known as the Grigori or The Watchers, and of course their offspring—the Nephilim. More than a year went by and I was happy just discovering and learning all that was never taught in my church or by my father such as the pseudepigrapha, spurious or pseudonymous writings, especially Jewish writings ascribed to various biblical patriarchs and prophets, but composed within approximately 200 years of the birth of Jesus Christ; also the Zohar, and the Apocrypha that refer to established copies or transcripts of certain texts, usually religious or ecclesiastical, rather than the original autography by the original authors or writers. I especially liked the Books of Enoch, and the Book of Jubilee as they dealt with angels. 
The research continued for more than a year while I continued to write the book, always refining, editing, adding, and sometimes deleting what didn’t work.

 

TINKERING WITH RELIGIONS

As I wrote, I didn’t want to be disrespectful to any religion and /or their holy texts. After many hours researching, taking bits and pieces of stories, lore, and mythology from the Bible, the Torah, and Middle Eastern beliefs, I found that some stories had gaps or holes in them for whatever reason, so I thought, ah ha! I could weave a tale into those gaps and holes. I was thrilled to learn that all religions believe in a multi-layered-spirit world, and an afterlife.


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The Characters

Mira

Mira is not based on anyone in particular, but her shyness and always feeling like an outsider is how I felt all through my school years and into young adulthood. Though Mira was raised a witch, she knew she wasn't of that ilk. She wanted to believe and belong to a higher spiritual power. Her connection with Granny Mar is what eventually brings her a peaceful life.

Granny Mar

Granny Mar is a compilation of many women in my life but mostly from my mother-in-law who has since passed. She was a strong black Southern woman from Mississippi who would never let anyone push her around but was as sweet and kind as they come. Her hands could both ring a chicken's neck and make four-inch-high lemon merengue pie even when the kitchen temperature pushed one hundred degrees. She was a fantastic cook, making dishes I'd never even heard of (cause I'm a white girl from up North) like purple hull peas, fried corn, hot water bread, and so much more. And she could also whip up four-inch high merengue for lemon pie in her kitchen even when the temperature pushed one hundred degrees.

Though she was a devout Baptist, she was not an exorcist like Granny Mar. But I believe that if there were any evil spirits around her, she'd know how to get rid of them.

Ariana

is named after my niece’s daughter. But not just her name, her strong character appealed to me. In the story, Ariana’s love of archaeology emulates from my desire when I was a teen to be an archaeologist. The concept of being on a ‘dig’ picking and sifting through layers of earth’s history fascinated me. Still does. Doing research for the chapter when she was on a dig in Israel, specifically when she is given the artifact with Azael’s Seal on it, was extremely rewarding for me. Besides wanting to be an archaeologist, I also wanted to be a missionary so, her being Christian only added to the story.

The Other Characters

The human characters basically appeared on their own. As I was writing, they just ‘became,’ each with their own personality and quirks. I was surprised when Max showed up. A Russian Jew?  Where’d you come from? And I loved his and Carleen’s relationship. And Becky? Poor, spoiled Becky. What can I say?
When Dr. Bernie came through, I was conflicted. He’s a loathsome character, yet sympathetic. How he became possessed came to me one time in the shower. (of course, it did) I am not sure if this is really how demonic possession happens, but it seemed right for Dr. Bernie. I did not enjoy getting inside his head. Thankfully the chapters he was in were only a few.

The Witches of the Clan of Azael

I had always associated witches with Europe or Salem so, when I discovered that the Bible mentions witches, I wanted witches to be part of the story. I mean…the Bible and witches? Who knew? As it turned out, the witches play an integral part of the book, especially Odella. She had to be one tough cookie keeping the clan together and being able to allow demons to possess her during all the rituals. 

The different rites and rituals of The Clan of Azael were made up by me. It was fun trying to come up with something that had some meaning yet was totally fictious. 

Naamah

appears in several stories in religious writings. I chose to write a fictional story about her and Azael and I thought–though they sinned-they were in love.  A forbidden love. A universal story as love stories go, and I sort of felt sorry for them. But as they expanded themselves in my story, I didn’t like them after all. I let their wickedness take the story where it would, and it turned out to have many gruesome details. 

Azael

is the big baddie, or in literary terms–the antagonist. I found several spellings of this character and also several different stories of him sinning and being punished. I chose the story where he marries Naamah and is then punished and chained under the Dudael desert. After that, there wasn’t much more about him that I found, so…ah ha! Another gap I could fill. 

Satan

he is who he is and needs no introduction or explanation. However, some readers have questioned why I didn’t refer to him as Lucifer. In my research, I found that before his fall, when he and a third of the angels warred against God, he was called Lucifer. It was after his fall when he is referred to as Satan. There still may be some people or resources that disagree, but this is how I chose to name him.  And speaking of Satan, I didn’t want him to be the main antagonist, though he is very antagonistic throughout the story.  

Angels 
To be honest, I had not heard of all of the angels in the Bible other than the Archangels. I had heard of Metatron, but not his brother Sandalphon so I enjoyed researching both. 

Demons
All of the demons in the story were created by me other than Asmodeous. He is in both Jewish and Islamic texts. Some stories have him as being the king of all demons, and other stories don’t give him that honor. I chose to make him a sympathetic character having been abandoned by his mother, Naamah.

 

Note: I did not include God or Jesus in this story. I believe they would have known the outcome of the trial even before it started, so no commentary or actions on their part were necessary. 

Symbols & Drawings

The Seal of Azael was designed by me and rendered by an artist in Germany. Throughout history, many kings, rulers, and other men and women of power had seals, and in Medieval times, crests or coat of arms and it seemed to be what 

seemed to be the thing to have. I decided I had to have one for Azael. I played around with many different designs until I came up with the one below. There is no particular meaning to the symbol.

symbol
symbol

The symbols for the four elements: water, wind, air, and fire were more difficult. I didn’t want to them to be similar to anything else that’s out there. Below are just a few if the dozens I played around with. 

symbol
symbol
symbol
symbol

Location! Location! Location!

The main story takes place is in Ohio. Why did I choose Ohio? Because the location of Ohio pleased me. First, it was because I have lived there for many years and with of all the research I had been doing for the concept of the story I didn’t want to do any more research on settings and locations. Second, I find parts of Ohio can be bleak due to the never-ending cloud cover called the “Lake Erie” effect. That climate suited my story, though I don’t mention it much in the book, it just gave me a feeling when I wrote some scenes. Often, when I drove down rural roads, I would see old brick houses, not quite mansions, but very large. They would be far off the road and I wondered if they were abandoned. Who had lived there? It seemed a likely place for the witches to have their rituals. Also, I would see what looked like a shed way off the road and totally surrounded by brush, and that seemed like it wasn’t used for anything but had electrical wiring running up to it. I wondered: was someone tied up there. Bring tortured! I mean, who would know that someone’s there except the evil person who put them there. Yup, my writer brain making up stories.

THE TRIAL

I enjoyed contemplating the trial in heaven. How does someone write about a place they’ve never been? Not wanting to write heaven as a cliché with billowing clouds and cherubs lounging with harps, I had to make something up. That’s the joy of a writer. Creating a story. What would the heavens look like? Though I didn’t offer details on its appearance, I felt I gave it an aura of dignity, wanting the trial to be taken seriously if someone, say an attorney, were to read my book. Obviously, the elements had to be ethereal.  What kind of offenses are there in the Universe? How would an offense in the Universe be dealt with? How would the offenders be brought to justice? Who might the offenders be? 
I’m not sure why, but it pleased me to write about the other stations of angels other than Archangels and the notorious fallen angels’. and that these angels could commit offenses.  

DIG IT?

I enjoyed contemplating the trial in heaven. How does someone write about a place they’ve never been? Not wanting to write heaven as a cliché with billowing clouds and cherubs lounging with harps, I had to make something up. That’s the joy of a writer. Creating a story. What would the heavens look like? Though I didn’t offer details on its appearance, I felt I gave it an aura of dignity, wanting the trial to be taken seriously if someone, say an attorney, were to read my book. Obviously, the elements had to be ethereal.  What kind of offenses are there in the Universe? How would an offense in the Universe be dealt with? How would the offenders be brought to justice? Who might the offenders be? 
I’m not sure why, but it pleased me to write about the other stations of angels other than Archangels and the notorious fallen angels’. and that these angels could commit offenses.  

 
 

CUT!

Deleted Chapters

The chapters came out after editors said they didn't move the story forward, so I took them out. However, I could never get rid of them so here they are.

Original Chapter  Two

 

Excavation site, Caesarea Philipi, Banias, Israel

Mysteries of the dead surrounded Ariana. Crouched three feet below the earth's surface in her designated square, disappointment welled sour in the pit of her stomach. Five weeks probing the ancient layers of debris deposits, she had unearthed nothing significant, only shards and fragments. Traveling to this excavation site, she believed she would uncover artifacts as equal in renown as the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it would take a miracle to find anything now as today was the last day of the dig. 

               

         At the age of fifteen, Ariana got hooked on archeology when a visiting pastor to her church had given a slide presentation on Israel, explaining that there are over twenty thousand recognized antiquity sites throughout the country, many tied to the Bible. From then on, she immersed herself in research, even persuading the local college librarian to allow her to use the resources there, even though she was only in high school. While she could have easily done most of her research online at home, her passion felt more real surrounded by all of the books.  Every dollar earned babysitting and doing extra chores she had saved, waiting for the chance to go on a dig. When her church presented the opportunity for parishioners to volunteer at an archeological excavation site in Israel, she proudly announced to her parents that not only was she going, but that she would pay for it herself. The site, located at the base of Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights, was an archaeological convergence of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures that spanned the pages of history. Her parents had serious misgivings due to the decades of political and religious unrest, not to mention the recent terrorist activity. “You’re only eighteen and have never even traveled outside of Ohio, let alone the country and now to such a volatile location?” Ariana had countered, “What good is your Christian faith if you can’t trust in it? Or God?” Reluctantly they gave their blessings.   

   

        “Clean up your tells,” the director of the dig shouted. “Bus will be here soon.”

      Ariana sat back on the hard soil and threw her tools and gloves in the canvas bag. Taking off her ball cap and undoing her ponytail, she let her damp auburn hair tumble to her shoulders as sweat dripped down her tanned face and onto her sore neck. I can’t believe it. Months of researching! Months of preparation! All for nothing!

          Hidden within the umber shadows of the ruined palace of Agrippa II, the robed and hooded stranger transfixed on Ariana, his chosen one. After scrutinizing all of the archaeological volunteers since they had arrived, he deemed her the most worthy, the only one he would entrust with the talisman—the impetus to expose the celestial conundrum already stirring. Ariana cocked her head. She sensed his presence. Again.

          Her spine aching from being in the same hunched position since six that morning, she stood, stretching her back muscles until they finally loosened. Tilting her face to the heavens above, she queried. Why hadn't the earth appeased her cravings? Rendered a relic? Offered up an oracle?

          Suddenly, her head was reeling—too much sun! She teetered backward.   

           Deliberate hands caught her wrists.

          "Thanks",    she said, opening her eyes, regaining her balance and expecting to see another volunteer. Instead, two iridescent eyes glowed back at her, the stranger inches away.   

          Ariana's mouth dropped open, but her scream choked in her throat as the stranger lifted her hand, placed something searing into her palm, and squeezing her fingers shut.

         Immediately she looked down at her hand. Despite the intense heat of the object, her skin wasn't burned. All that was there was a smooth, flat green metal stone about the size of a nickel. Nothing more. She looked back up to confront the stranger, but he was gone.

           "Last call",    the director yelled. "Come on. The driver is ready to pull out."   

        Ariana grabbed her duffel bag, shoved the stone into her short's pocket, and jaunted to the bus. She didn't feel the ground shift slightly, nor did she hear the ancient spirit groan deep beneath the earth. As the bus pulled away, she scanned the site, trying to spot the stranger, but he was nowhere in sight, seemingly vanishing into the scorching, arid air.

        A few miles down the road, Ariana looked around to make sure no one was watching her before pulling out the stone and inspecting it. What she thought was just an ordinary stone now looked to be a bulla—a stone engraved with a seal. Her heart leaped with the possibilities. The seal of Pan? Herod? Running her finger over the inscription, she recalled the instructions the site director had given on the first day of the dig. "Assume nothing is irrelevant. Document everything you find."

        Of course, she knew the right thing to do would be to hand the stone over to the director.  Of course, she should walk up to the front of the bus and give it to him right now and let him decide if the stone was significant. Of course, she should. Of course, she should!

          But she didn't. Instead, she slipped it back into her pants pocket for safekeeping. Rolling it between her fingers, tracing the glyptic grooves, she rationalized that this stone was meant for her alone. Why else would this stranger single her out? He could have given it to the director, but he didn't. She knew on some level that he wanted only her to have it. Her conscience abated; she couldn't contain her smug grin. My prize! As soon as I get back to Brumley, I'll research it myself.

          By the time Ariana stepped off the bus at the hotel, all thoughts of turning the stone over to the director had vanished, just as the stranger had. Compelled by an emotion foreign to her, she had abandoned her scruples somewhere en route and tossed them to the fates.