SHADOW OF THE SWAN on NetGalley and a Meeting with Vincent Price’s Daughter!

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My third medieval romance is available on NetGalley.  That’s a free read for NetGalley members now through Halloween!  Check it out here: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/131427

Speaking of Halloween, I’ve been working extra hours at The Witch House, the 17th-century home of witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin.  ‘Tis the season for long hours here in Salem, Massachusetts, and my husband is just as busy at The House of the Seven Gables.  By the way, I had the privilege of meeting Vincent Price’s daughter, Victoria, at The Gables a few nights ago.  Such a lovely woman, and she had great things to say about her dad!

I have two days off for the rest of October, and today is one of them.  So I’ll be working on Night of the Owl, the fourth of The Novels of Ravenwood.  Enjoy your weekend!

NIGHT OF THE OWL ~ An Excerpt

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It’s a rainy day here in Salem, MA, so I’m staying indoors, baking an apple pie, and writing more of Night of the Owl, the fourth of The Novels of Ravenwood.  Time travel plays a large role in this one!  Here’s a peek at the first pages of this work in progress:

Northumberland, England
July, 1986

For the love of God, stay awake! It’s not much farther. Ardyth Nightshade gripped the steering wheel of her rental car and yawned, bringing welcome tears to her dry, scratchy eyes as she continued driving north.

The morning traffic was unremarkable. Nonexistent compared to rush hour in Chicago. Even so, driving on the left side of narrow roads flanked by stone walls waiting to crush one at the slightest mistake required all the focus she could muster. If only she’d been able to sleep on the plane!

Excitement forbade it, on both the overseas flight to London and the connecting one to Newcastle. Ruled by adrenaline, she’d daydreamed the hours away. A PhD student in Medieval Studies couldn’t ask for a better summer job than the one she’d landed. Not only would she work as research assistant to Professor Henri Seacrest, but after two long decades, she was finally returning to her father’s ancestral home. Memories from childhood—some vague, others clear and resonant—had made Nightshade Manor synonymous with magic. She itched to see the place again.

Now she was paying for her eagerness, running on fumes and sporting dark circles under her eyes. She cast a second glance at the rearview mirror, in the hope that her first was too critical.

It wasn’t. Long but limp blonde hair. Shadows beneath her brown eyes. Next to no redeeming makeup. She’d worn only foundation, just enough to keep from scaring small children on the flight, and then the airline lost her makeup case. Better that than her clothes, but still…

At least she wore a new skirt and blouse. Travel had wrinkled them a bit, but there was no possibility of ironing them now. No way to cover the fresh scuff on her right shoe either.

With a sigh of acceptance, she returned her attention to the road. I’ll make one hell of an impression on my new boss. If I can keep my eyes open long enough to get there.

Like a beacon of mercy, the ruins of Nihtscua Castle—her ancestors’ earlier home—came into view. High on a throne of rock, the ancient keep held vigil over the modern town of Prestby, the merger of the medieval villages of Preostbi and Nihtscua. Most of the buildings dated to the 18th and 19th centuries. Relatively new to a history buff like her…and her professors…and PhD candidates like…

No! She refused to blight her summer with thoughts of her ex-boyfriend. This was her time, her adventure. Afterward, she would return to the university trailing clouds of glory, and no one would interfere with her academic career. Not even that rank-stank piece of—

Let it go!

The castle towered above as she braked before its entrance path. She couldn’t wait to explore the place again. Later, she promised herself. First things first.

She turned right and drove the short distance up the hill to the manor. The gates were open, so she went on through, followed the circular driveway toward the house, and parked right in front. Her pulse quickened as she stepped out of the car and gazed upward.

Nightshade Manor was everything an Elizabethan home should be: built of stone and crowned by a multitude of chimneys reaching toward the soft morning sky. Its large mullioned windows beckoned, and she hastened to the great oak door. She lifted her hand to knock, but the door swung open before she made contact.

A marvel of masculinity stood before her. It was as if the doorway existed for the sole purpose of framing his tall, broad-shouldered frame. His short black hair framed a clean-shaven face whose smooth, hard lines set the stage for a full, sensuous mouth and wide gray eyes. Despite his casual attire of jeans and a blue, button-down shirt, he oozed authority…and more sex appeal than she’d ever encountered up close.

After a heart-stopping moment, she found her voice. “Professor Seacrest?”

He enfolded her upraised hand with both of his. Their warmth flowed into her as his steady gaze held hers.

“Please, call me Henri.” A French accent laced his words. “You must be Ardyth.”

I must? Argh! Don’t be an idiot. “Yes.”

She hadn’t expected him to be so young. Mid-thirties at most. Her father had made him sound quite distinguished, which he must be to convince her parents to let him spend the entire summer in their home while researching Anglo-Saxon sites. Of course, her mom and dad were currently back in Illinois, in the house where she’d lived most of her life.

Henri still held her hand. She looked down at it and cleared her throat.

Quickly, he released it. “Forgive me.”

That’s it for now.  What I’m writing today is much further along in the story, but I wanted to show you a snippet.  If you’d like to catch up on the whole Ravenwood story by reading the three previous books, click here for buy links:  https://judithmarshallauthor.com/my-books/

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend!  🙂

N. N. Light’s Trick-or-Treat Binge-Read Giveaway ~ THE CAULDRON STIRRED

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October is here, and it’s one of my favorite times of the year! There’s a chill in the air, and the leaves shift into vibrant, fiery colors. Halloween–HUGE here in Salem, Massachusetts–is near, bringing flocks of tourists, creative decorations, tons of candy, and fun celebrating all things ghostly. In fact, I just participated in a paranormal investigation of the Veasey Estate, not far away in Groveland, MA. So much fun, and in Salem, there’s more where that came from!

But in quiet moments, as the wind shakes my windows, I love to curl up with a good book. N. N. Light feels the same way, and they’re hosting a spooktacular giveaway. No tricks, just treats for booklovers! Everything from romance to paranormal fiction will be given away, including one of my books, The Cauldron Stirred, which features both! So go on: indulge your inner kid and enter this giveaway. Good luck!

Trick or Treat Binge-Read Giveaway: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775020/

Literary Giveaway Portal: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/literary-giveaway-portal

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Fall Bookathon ~ THE CAULDRON STIRRED

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The weekend is almost here!  But it’s not too soon to plunge into some young adult paranormal fantasy and revel in Irish lore.  The Cauldron Stirred, the first book of my Guardians of Erin series, is being featured on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven today as part of the ongoing Fall Bookathon.  (The second installment, The Stone Awakened, is coming soon!)  Read an excerpt from my book, and while you’re at it, make sure to enter the giveaway to win a $150 Amazon gift card!

Here’s the link:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2018/09/21/Fall-Into-The-Cauldron-Stirred-by-Judith-Sterling-and-WildRosePress-yalit-giveaway

Hope you enjoy the excerpt and your weekend!  Good luck with the giveaway!

Guest Author Mary Morgan ~ OATH OF A WARRIOR

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I’m thrilled to have my dear friend and talented author Mary Morgan here today!  I’ve featured some of her work during our Medieval Monday rounds, and she’s featured excerpts from my medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood.  But today, as a special treat, she’s written a lovely post to celebrate her recent release, Oath of a Warrior.  So I’ll just sit back and enjoy it with you.  Take it away, Mary!

Hello Judith!

Thanks for having me on your wonderful blog today!

OATH OF A WARRIOR, Legends of the Fenian Warriors, Book 2 is about second chances, healing, renewal, and those that tend not to fit within the rules of society. You first meet the hero in Dragon Knight’s Sword, Order of the Dragon Knights, Book 1. The Fae Warriors were prominent throughout this series, so I was thrilled to give them all their own stories. Rory MacGregor was the most tortured hero I’ve ever written, and I’ve chosen the first few pages of Chapter One to share with your readers. This opening scene reflected the anguish he kept hidden and never spoke about to anyone.

In doing research for Oath of a Warrior, I came across hundreds of cases pertaining to witches and the witch trials in Scotland. The records of Scotland’s witch trials spanned over a period of 200 years during the 16th and 17th centuries. However, I did find evidence of several women being burned, or executed in the late 15th century. This was a dark period in Scottish history, exposing a culture of fear and panic that cast a cloud over much of Scotland.

Some of the charges brought against these individuals ranged from belonging to a coven, receiving herbs from the Queen of the Faeries, and using charms against another person. It did not matter if you were a servant or upper class, either. If you wanted to rid yourself of someone, all you had to do was accuse the person of being a witch.

Erina was a wonderful character to write and one I knew who would appeal to Rory. She loved her garden and animals, tended to those who required healing, made love charms, and believed in the old ways. This was a perfect combination for any to accuse her of dealing in the black arts. Yet, she never saw herself as a witch. Only someone who was different. Sadly, even in this century, we tend to look at others who do not walk the same path as the majority as odd.

This recipe is one that I mentioned in the story. It’s a favorite of Erina’s. In 17th century Scotland, she might have made it with less sugar and more honey, or no sugar at all. I’ve adapted this recipe with all sugar. It’s delicious and perfect during the summertime or early autumn months.

Red roses symbolize passion, sacrifice, and love. It’s a perfect blend for my love story and this recipe.

 

Sounds delicious!  Thank you so much for joining me today, Mary.

Now, here’s a bit more about Oath of a Warrior:

“You met them in the Order of the Dragon Knights. Now, journey to the realm of the Fae and witness their legends!”

Fenian Warrior, Rory MacGregor’s love conquests are legendary, but he has never spoken of the one mortal female who captured his heart. After his dark secret is finally revealed, he is ordered to return and seal the wounds left open by her death. Yet, he finds the timeline altered and swears an oath to rewrite fate, even if it brings about his own death.

Erina MacIntyre is known for her healing herbs and love charms. Determined to aid others, she refuses to listen to the whispers that call her a witch. When a Highlander steps forth into her path, he ignites a thread of strange familiarity and sparks a flame of desire she is unable to control.

Can the destiny of two lovers find love once more among the ashes of death and betrayal? Or will history repeat itself, leaving a scorching path of destruction for both mortals and Fae alike?


A peek between the pages:

“In the twilight moments before one wakes, be wary of the fragmented dreams of truth.”

~Chronicles of the Fae

Beneath the Hill of Tara, Ireland, Mid Autumn—the season of harvest and feasting in the Fae Realm

Smoke filled his lungs, strangling his pitiful cries for mercy. Dust coated his mouth, and his eyes burned, reminding him of the flames of dragon fire during raging battles. Repeatedly, they continued to pummel his face, while his hands and feet remained bound as he knelt on the ground. Some threw stones at his head and others spouted vile obscenities and spat on him. He choked back the copper taste of blood and attempted to reason with any one of his captors.

Did they not understand who he was? Did they not know he could boil the blood within their bodies and peel the skin from their bones? He, a great Fenian Warrior could obliterate their entire city!

But he would not. Death would come far more quickly if he harmed so much as a hair on their pathetic bodies. In truth, he was honored bound by an oath to these deplorable humans.

“Bind…me to…the stake,” he pleaded in a choked voice. “Take me.” Fighting the wave of panic and the pain slashing his body, mind, and soul, Rory blinked in an attempt to focus and faced his tormentor.

His captor grabbed a fistful of hair, forcing Rory to view the scene in front of him. “Your time will come, ye spawn of the devil. But ye will first watch how your witch shall die.”

“Nae a witch,” he hissed.

“Liar!” the man shrieked, spittle flying. “Did she not tell wee Alan the charms came from the faeries?”

“A lad’s tale to amuse his friends,” he argued, during fits of coughing spasms.

“Nae!” A woman protested, pushing through the crowds of people. She charged forward and delivered a slap to Rory’s face. “Ye are bewitched by the lass and spout lies about my son.”

She wagged a finger. “Ye should burn with her. Ye have the painted markings of the devil on your body.”

“Leave and go tend to your son,” ordered the man.

Hastily making the sign of the cross, she quickly departed.

“Please, have mercy,” begged Rory.

“Mercy,” he echoed. “So that she may return and cast her evil ways upon us? Nae. She has been found guilty of her crimes.” Releasing his hold on Rory, the man nodded to another.

Rory uttered a curse and looked at the woman bound to the burning stake. Eyes wide with fear gazed back at him as the flames took hold of her dress, licking a path up her body. Not once did she let out a scream of terror. Choking on the scent of burning flesh, he swallowed the bile threatening to heave and attempted to stand. He would not let her die like this. She had done nothing wrong.

Yet, the effort cost Rory when his captor shoved a blade into his side. Pain dulled his senses, and he fought to move forward.

He broke free from his bindings and heard the crowd gasp in horror. No longer caring if any witnessed his power, he lifted his arms, only to have another bash him over the head.

Rory’s last glimpse of the woman he had forsaken were her screams of his name before he succumbed into the dark abyss, praying death would take them both swiftly.

Awakening on a guttural cry, Rory turned and emptied what little he had in his stomach onto the ground. Gasping for breath, he waited for the spasms to settle within his body and rolled on his side. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he leaned against the cool crystal wall of his prison, and let his head drop back. Gazing upward, he watched as the stars glittered like diamonds against an inky velvet night sky.

The dream had once again come unbidden to him during his time spent in the Room of Reflection. Never once had he dreamt of her until he entered his imprisonment. Nae. He had banished the memories—tucked them away to a remote part of his being. Hardened himself against any emotions. Struck her name from any thought and vowed never to reveal to his fellow Fenian brothers his involvement in her capture, imprisonment, and death.

Where to buy Oath of a Warrior:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Oath-Warrior-Legends-Fenian-Warriors-ebook/dp/B07CZSXFYN/

BN (Nook): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/oath-of-a-warrior-mary-morgan/1128772180?ean=2940162047865

iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/oath-of-a-warrior/id1388814969?mt=11

The Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5920-oath-of-a-warrior.html

A bit more about Mary:

Award-winning Celtic paranormal romance author, Mary Morgan, resides in Northern California, with her own knight in shining armor. However, during her travels to Scotland, England, and Ireland, she left a part of her soul in one of these countries and vows to return.

Mary’s passion for books started at an early age along with an overactive imagination. She spent far too much time daydreaming and was told quite often to remove her head from the clouds. It wasn’t until the closure of Borders Books where Mary worked that she found her true calling–writing romance. Now, the worlds she created in her mind are coming to life within her stories.

If you enjoy history, tortured heroes, and a wee bit of magic, then time-travel within the pages of her books.

Where to find her:

WEBSITE: http://www.marymorganauthor.com

BLOG: http://www.marymorganauthor.com/blog

TWITTER: http://twitter.com/m_morganauthor

FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/MaryMorganAuthor/

GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8271002.Mary_Morgan

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Morgan/e/B00KPE3NWI/

PINTEREST: www.pinterest.com/marymorgan50/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/marymorgan2/

BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-morgan

An Interview with Christine Grabowski, Author of DICKENSEN ACADEMY

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I’m excited to have fellow young adult author Christine Grabowski with me today!  She lives in Washington State, one of my favorite places on earth.  We’re celebrating the release of her debut novel, Dickensen Academy.  So without further ado, let’s start the interview!

At what age did you write your first story? Age 44 (I had a lot of false starts as a kid.)

Which genre was the first to hook you? Middle grade, contemporary, e.g. think Judy Blume

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Brainstorming? Research? Outlining? Writing? Editing? Editing. The blank page terrifies me, afraid I might not have any more ideas in my head.

I love editing too and do a whole lot of it before sending manuscripts to my editors! What are you working on now? A fairy-tale reimagining, loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. It is a YA contemporary suspense.

Ooh…that sounds intriguing! Of all the settings you’ve used (or created!) for your books, which is your favorite? The secluded evergreen forest surrounding the academy. It was almost like a character with its own changing personality. In some scenes, including cross country practices and the romantic walks with Ben, the focus was on its beauty. I’d describe how the sunlight danced through the trees or the whimsical nature of a chipmunk. In other scenes, the forest took on a creepier tone such as when Autumn and her friends examined the perimeter fence, and when she and Ben were caught in the forest after dark. To quote Autumn’s thoughts, “The setting sun cast long shadows from the tall evergreen trees. Here I was in a beautiful prison, trapped outside too. The surrounding forest hid an enormous, secure fence…”

Love it! I feel the same way about the setting in my Guardians of Erin series. Have you ever dreamed about a character you created? Yes. I dreamed that I was on the campus and was hanging out with a group of students. That’s when I felt Dickensen Academy had truly become a real place to me.

Wonderful! If you could have a conversation with anyone—dead or alive—who would it be? My grandmother

If you could travel to any time and place, when and where would that be? I’d go back to the ’80s and raise my kids with limited technology.

I’m trying to do that now with my kids! If you could step inside any book or series and live there for a week, which would you choose? I’d love to go to Hogwarts. I have no desire to fight Voldemort but would love to learn a few spells and fly around on a broomstick.

I’d be right there with you! Now, it’s time to learn some of your favorites.

Sound: A Mourning Dove

Eye color: Blue

Foreign language (whether or not you speak it!): French

Song: “I Will Survive”

Book: Gone with the Wind

Movie: Titanic

TV show: Grey’s Anatomy

Cuisine: Mexican

Cookie: Chocolate Chip

US location: Maui

Foreign location: Paris

And finally, list your preference from the following choices:

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Cake or pie? Cake

Halloween or Christmas? Christmas

Nancy Drew or Sherlock Holmes? Nancy Drew

Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters? Jane Austen

A mortal, vampire, ghost, or fae for a lover? Vampire

English gent, Scottish highlander, European count, or all-American guy? All-American guy

Thanks so much for joining me today, Christine! And now, here’s the scoop on Dickensen Academy:

Dickensen Academy isn’t a typical boarding school. The faculty is hiding an unbelievable secret within their fine arts program. When Autumn Mattison receives an invitation to attend the high school, she yearns to escape her overbearing father yet remains reluctant to leave her mother and brother. Her doubts fade away when a vivid dream convinces her she belongs there.

Away from home, Autumn discovers a unique school environment that awakens her creative potential, and her new friends become like a second family. However, as she uncovers more about the dark side of the school and struggles with its curriculum, she questions whether Dickensen Academy is truly where she belongs.

When tragedy strikes, Autumn must learn to believe in her own power and stand up to her greatest fear or risk having her memories destroyed to protect the school’s secrets. Caught between secrets and dreams, can she find her true self?

Here’s a peek inside the pages:

“I feel like there’s something big we don’t know about. Something those students were protecting. I mean, really, why are we here?”

I thought it was just me who was confused. “Well…the recruiters said we’re creative and focused.”

“Yeah, that’s what Principal Locke said too.”

“And we have the right personality.”

Ben looked up at the sky, sighed then turned toward the forest. “What did he say…something about how it will soon become clear why we’re here, and there’s some ultimate purpose for our creativity?”

“I know. That whole creativity part was a bit bizarre.”

He shrugged. “It seems everyone is going with the flow. But I have so many questions.” Then he touched my arm to stop me, so I turned toward him. “I’m thinking they’re isolating us for some special reason,” he admitted in an embarrassed tone.

I tried not to laugh—he was acting paranoid. But I didn’t know Ben well. Maybe he was joking, trying to freak me out. Or was he hitting on me? The flutter in my chest moved to my stomach. I was already anxious about being away from home and whether or not I could hack the academics. I didn’t need to obsess about anything else. But I still had to know about Ben’s dream.

“So…I also had a dream about Dickensen before I accepted the offer.”

Ben’s head snapped toward me. “You did?”

A bit more about Christine:

Dickensen Academy is Christine’s debut YA novel. After graduating from the University of Washington, she earned her MBA at the University at Albany. She honed her technical writing skills in marketing and consulting but attributes the creative part of the process to her passion for reading.

When she isn’t reading or writing, Christine can often be found running, skiing, or hiking. She lives in Newcastle, Washington, with her supportive husband, two avid teen readers, and their energetic wheaten terriers.

Where you can find her and her books:

Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/dickensen-academy-map-success/dp/B07G71747S

https://amzn.to/2P0qMGC

Barnes & Noble
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dickensen-academy-christine-grabowski/1129315140?ean=9781509221233

The Wild Rose Press
https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6044-dickensen-academy.html

Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41065431-dickensen-academy

Amazon Giveaway ~ FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN and THE CAULDRON STIRRED

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Good news!  I’m running two giveaways on Amazon through September 14, giving away digital copies of the first book in each of my series.

If you like medieval romance, you might enjoy Flight of the Raven, the first of The Novels of Ravenwood.  I’m currently writing the fourth in the series, Night of the Owl.  Click here to enter the giveaway:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/6371a933e82a717c

If young adult paranormal fantasy is more your thing, you might like The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series.  The second book, The Stone Awakened, is nearing publication.  More on that soon!  Click here to enter:

https://www.amazon.com/ga/p/9099a981c7cf0472

It’s okay to enter both.  Good luck!  🙂

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven’s Fall Bookathon ~ FLIGHT OF THE RAVEN

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The weekend is almost here!  But it’s not too soon to cast aside your work and worries and dive into a bit of medieval romance.  Flight of the Raven, the first of The Novels of Ravenwood series, is being featured on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven today as part of their ongoing Fall Bookathon.  Read an excerpt from my book, and while you’re at it, make sure to enter the giveaway to win a $150 Amazon gift card!

Here’s the link:  https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2018/09/06/Fall-Into-Flight-of-the-Raven-by-Judith-Sterling-and-WildRosePress-historicalromance-giveaway-romancereaders

Hope you enjoy both the excerpt and your weekend.  And good luck with the giveaway!

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Fall Into These Great Reads Bookathon and Giveaway

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The kids are back in school, and the weather is shifting toward the blissfully cool temperatures of fall.  It’s the perfect time to find a new read, and while you’re at it, enter for a chance to win a $150 Amazon gift card!

Every day this month, N. N. Light’s Book Heaven is featuring a different book, including two from yours truly (Flight of the Raven and The Cauldron Stirred)!  Click on this link each day to see the featured author and book:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/fall-into-these-great-reads-bookath

Here’s the direct link to the giveaway:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775018

The drawing will be held on October 1.  Good luck!

N. N. Light’s Book Heaven ~ PAST LIVES, PRESENT STORIES

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N. N. Light’s Book Heaven is featuring one of my nonfiction books today.  Come join us and read the excerpt here:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2018/08/29/Book-Heaven-Wednesday-Presents-Past-Lives-Present-Stories-Healing-and-Wisdom-Through-Past-Life-Exploration-by-Judith-Marshall-metaphysical-books-bookish

Hope to see you there.  Happy Wednesday!  🙂