A New Interview

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Today, I’m a guest on Tena Stetler’s blog.  We’re talking about my latest release, The Cauldron Stirred, and lots of other things, including what use I’d make of an invisibility cloak!

Stop by if you have a free moment.  Here’s the link:  http://www.tenastetler.com/interview-judith-marshall-author-cauldron-stirred/

See you there!  🙂

Impetus Toward Ireland

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One night in the summer before my senior year of high school, I kicked off my bedcovers with a vengeance. I snatched my glasses from the nightstand and glared at the ticking clock.

1:00 a.m. and all was NOT well.

I’d fidgeted for almost two hours, and sleep remained a stranger. Rolling my eyes, I abandoned my bed, then slunk through the house and out the back door.

Humidity hugged my skin like a second aura. With a sigh, I pushed up the sleeves of my nightgown and scanned the backyard. Spanish moss dangled from the oak trees. Moonlight touched the pool. Frogs croaked their hardest, but the sharp drone of crickets stole the show.

“Why am I so restless?” I asked aloud. “How can you yearn for something you can’t even name?”

As though sharing a private joke, the stars above winked.

The night held no answers; the mosquitoes showed no mercy. So I stole back into the house to worship the miracle of air conditioning and find something to read.

In the living room, I searched the shelves until my gaze locked on a book I’d never seen: Ireland – A Picture Book to Remember Her By. I grabbed it and settled on the velvet couch.

From the moment I opened the book, I changed. Waves of emotion rushed over me: love, sorrow, and strangest of all, homesickness. Gratitude flooded my heart and mind, for this was what I’d sought. I turned each page with reverence, melding my being with the images thereon.

It was crazy. I was born and raised in blazingly hot, equatorial Florida, about as far from Ireland and its blissfully cool climate as you can get. Before that night, I’d never considered the Emerald Isle. Not once. Now my whole life seemed to have led me to the discovery that I was somehow linked to that distant land.

Desire and will swelled within me, and I squeezed the book to my chest. I knew what I must do.

I jumped up and raced to my sleeping parents’ bedroom. “Mom! Dad!”

My father grunted, but my mother bolted upright in bed. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I just wanted to tell you my decision. I’m going to Ireland.”

She squinted. “What, tonight?”

“No, but soon. I have to go.”

Dad rolled over. A rumble of complaint sounded, either from his throat or his stomach.

Mom glanced at the clock, then sank back onto her pillow. “Fine. But let’s talk about it in the morning, okay?”

When morning arrived, I did more than talk. Truth be told, I ate far too many donuts, but I must’ve burned off the calories during my impassioned plea. It was Ireland or bust! My unsuspecting parents didn’t know what to make of my new obsession, but Dad informed me my great-grandfather had emigrated from Ireland in 1914. How this fact escaped my notice for 17 years is beyond me, but now that I knew of my Irish heritage, I was unstoppable.

My grandfather had the address of our Irish cousins in County Kilkenny, and I obtained it faster than you can say Éirinn go Brách. Soon after, I became pen pals with one of the cousins, and we exchanged letters, photos, and even a phone call over the next 10 months.

My enthusiasm for Ireland was contagious, and by senior graduation, three round-trip plane tickets waited on my parents’ desk. The Three Musketeers—Mom, Dad, and I—were bound for Shannon Airport.

Excitement forbade sleep on the long flight over, so after we’d shuffled through customs, traded dollars for pounds, and procured our rental car, we drove straight to our bed-and-breakfast in the village of Bunratty and took a nap. When I awoke hours later, Mom informed me I’d spoken Irish in my sleep.

My instincts implored me to pay attention. From the moment I stepped foot on Irish soil, I felt I’d come home. This was no shallow sentiment; it was a gut reaction, a reunion with a piece of my soul.

Ireland’s landscape was as gorgeous as its people were gracious, but my response to its beauty seemed greatest in Killarney. There, while bouncing in the back of a jaunting car, I became one with my surroundings. The cool wind caressed my cheeks and whipped my long, blonde hair into a wild mass which would’ve made any banshee proud. Low-hanging, purple clouds harmonized with rippling lakes, and the gentle slope of mountains accompanied them. Flowering bushes, rustling trees, and fertile soil moist with promise completed the symphony. Each note had perfect pitch. Every phrase was pure magic.

When our driver reined in his horse, my parents jumped from the carriage, eager to tour Muckross House. I shared their enthusiasm but was so caught up in nature’s melody I didn’t want the ride to end. Still, history summoned me, so I followed their lead and strode toward the house.

Abruptly, I hesitated. The lake to my right seemed familiar. The adjacent parkland beckoned, but I had to resist its pull. With our jam-packed schedule, an amble through the woods was out of the question.

Years later, I would explore those woods and discover a surprising piece to add to my life’s puzzle. Once again that night, Mom heard me speaking Irish in my sleep.

In my latest release, The Cauldron Stirred, seventeen-year-old Ashling Donoghue has a similar experience. And she not only visits Killarney, but gets to live there. Ah, the magic of fiction!

Amazon https://amzn.com/B072C1CG5D

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cauldron-s…/1126456384…

The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/…/5134-the-cauldron-st…

The Guardians of Erin series is born!

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Today’s the day!  It’s the worldwide release of The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, Book One).  A big thanks to everyone at The Wild Rose Press–especially my editor, Nicole D’Arienzo, cover artist, RJ Morris, and marketing director, Lisa Dawn–for all their efforts.

I hope you’ll check it out.  Here’s the blurb:

Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate.  For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

But Aengus is secretive, with good reason.  He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld.  Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland.  Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

Here’s an excerpt:

The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.

The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.

“Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.

I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”

The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”

“You scared the crap out of me!”

“Whisht!”

“What?”

“Shush!”

Pop!

The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.
Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.

Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.

Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.

His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”

His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.

Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.

“Are we hiding?” I whispered.

“We are.”

“Why? And what just happened?”

“I can’t say.”

“Can’t or won’t?”

“Both.”

Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.

I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”

His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”

“I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”

With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.

High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.

She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.

I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”

He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.com/B072C1CG5D and other online retailers.

Why I Write Medieval Stories

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Over the past two months, I’ve introduced you to a number of authors who love writing medieval.  Maybe it’s time I tell you why I do!

Some of the first romances I read as a teen were set in medieval England. I loved the passion of the period—the High Middle Ages (11th – 13th centuries) in particular—and the lure of the British Isles. Ultimately, that love led to a degree in history and a minor in British Studies.

During college and grad school, I studied in England, Scotland, and Sweden. I jumped on every opportunity to explore castles, monasteries, and other medieval buildings throughout Europe. The older the structure, the better! In ruin after ruin, the whispers of the past seduced me. I hear their voices still. With any luck, they add a magical twist to the medieval romances I feel compelled to write and give my readers a world they’ll want to enter again and again.

I hope you’ll check out my medieval romances, The Novels of Ravenwood.  I just turned in the third in the series–Shadow of the Swan–to my editor!

Medieval Monday with Bambi Lynn

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It’s Medieval Monday again!  My guest today is Bambi Lynn, and she’s going to tell us why she writes medieval.

My first introduction to Romance novels came from Rosemary Rogers’ Sweet Savage Love. I devoured that book again and again and any other book I could find that was like it. Imagine my thrill to discover Jude Deveraux’s Velvet series. Set in the Middle Ages, I got lost in the time period and never wanted to return. By then, I was living Belgium, where the shells of Medieval manors surrounded me. One of my favorites was Beersel Castle. Beersel Castle, about five miles from my house in Gages, is in ruins. The grounds were open to the public, free, and seldom visited by tourists. So naturally when I started writing my first book, I set it in that castle. I had the unique opportunity of going there any time I wanted to sit in the courtyard or one of the rooms I’d cleared of cobwebs and write my masterpiece. Oftentimes, I was the only one there and could explore to my heart’s content. That first book has never seen the light of day, but what fun I had writing it—not to mention all the things I learned. Now I live in Alabama. There are no Medieval castles here, but there is a park nearby that looks remarkably like Middle Earth. Luckily, I have a writing room in my barn that my fabulous husband designed and decorated to look like a room in a Medieval castle. Inspiration at its finest! I hope you enjoy reading my Medieval Romances as much as I love writing them.

More about Bambi

Bambi Lynn graduated from the University of Maryland European Division with bachelor’s degrees in English and History. She writes Historical and Contemporary Paranormal Romances.

Yes, Bambi is her real name.

Bambi grew up on a farm in South Georgia. Her high school was very small with a graduating class of less than 100 people. Shortly after high school, she met my wonderful husband who took her to Belgium, where a three-year tour turned into fifteen. While living in Europe, she nurtured her love of all things medieval. Bambi often gets homesick for Belgium, but with the world wide web, she’s home with the click of a mouse. She now lives with her husband and son in the deep South. When not plugging away at her keyboard, Bambi teaches World History. She loves to ride her big, black Tennessee Walker, Jamaica. She and her husband each have a Harley to go with their collection of classic cars and hot rods.

Find her books here:  http://bambilynn.net/bambis_books

 

Medieval Monday with Ruth A. Casie

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Welcome to another Medieval Monday!  My guest today is bestselling author, Ruth A. Casie.  She’s here to tell us why she writes historicals.  Take it away, Ruth!

Years ago when I worked for a large bank I did a lot of international business travel. I can remember my first overseas assignment very clearly. It was a two week trip to five European cities. I brought six paperbacks thinking I would catch up on my reading—there was never enough time to read at home. We had three small children. Settled in my seat, I finished a book and a half by the time I landed in Brussels.

Client calls with local bank directors filled my days, but after business hours and over the weekend I was on my own. I filled the time with walking tours, sometimes in groups other times using the track provided by the hotel. Each time I came face to face with history; the Grand Place in Brussels, the Place de la Concorde in Paris, and Hampton Court in England.

As I went on to the different cities I tried to hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and see the sights from a different perspective, a different time. Stories by Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey and Lynn Kurland had me enthralled along with Clive Cussler. I know he’s not exactly romance but his Dirk Pit stories always start with some historical fact or thread that’s crucial to solving the mystery. I read my books at night and visited places where I imagined the stories unfolding.

Historical facts mixed with chivalry and magic are the most compelling stories to me. The romance of the middle ages with knights and princesses and their myths of druids, fairies, and fae tossed in for good measure all drew me in. Time travel stories and the ability to visit the past, protect the future, or simply experience a different time were the most compelling stories. Personally, I want my fiction based on fact but I don’t necessarily want the cold truth of reality. I know that history doesn’t always end with a happily ever after but taking a little poetic license to alter history just a bit to make it all work out is what I enjoy reading—and writing.

More about Ruth

Ruth A. Casie, a USA Today Bestselling Author, writes historical fantasy and contemporary romances for Harlequin, Carina Press, and Timeless Scribes. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and international bank product and marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. When not writing you can find her home in Teaneck, NJ, reading, cooking, doing Sudoku and counted cross stitch.

You can reach her at http://www.RuthACasie.com and join her newsletter, on Twitter @RuthACasie, at her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RuthACasie or at Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ruthacasie/