I just read a wonderful review of The Cauldron Stirred over on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. I’m beyond grateful for it! And remember, there’s still time to comment on my previous blog post for a chance to win an e-copy of the book.
Here’s the link to the review: https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/single-post/2018/05/14/The-Cauldron-Stirred-Guardians-of-Erin-Book-One-by-Judith-Sterling-and-WildRosePress-bookreview-paranormal-fantasy-Ireland-YAlit
Happy Monday, everyone! 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day to all my fellow moms out there! Hope you’re enjoying a day as relaxing as the scene in the painting above!
I’m giving away an e-copy of The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my young adult paranormal fantasy series, Guardians of Erin. Comment below or on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/judithsterlingfiction/ by midnight, May 15, 2018 (Eastern Standard Time), and you could win!
In the meantime, here’s a scene from the book in which Maeve Donoghue (the protagonist Ashling’s mother) witnesses a touch of magic while looking at an ancient manuscript’s carpet page:
I gestured toward the manuscript on the table. “It’s incredible. Look at how interlocked the animals are.”
Mom nodded. “Some of them are so contorted, it’s hard to tell what they are. But that’s typical of the beasts in Celtic manuscripts.”
I pointed. “These look like swans. But what’s this?”
“A wolf.” Aengus’s arm brushed against mine as he, too, pointed.
All of a sudden, the carpet page came to life. The entire illustration lifted off the page, morphing into 3D. Ribbons of knotwork and scrollwork wove in and out of one another. Animals whose necks and limbs had once been linked now split apart. The wolves leapt over the shifting image and crept beneath cords that undulated like waves on the ocean. The swans glided across the loosened lines as though navigating ripples on a lake. In the center of it all, a multitude of colored bands broke free and rose higher than the rest, twisting and turning into the shape of letters which hovered above the whole: A-I-S-L-I-N-G.
I gaped at the word. Mom’s hand, still on my back, went rigid.
Her hand dropped to her side. “What the…” Words failed her.
Aengus yanked his arm from mine as though scalded. He stepped back from the table and from me.
Like magic, the page’s three-dimensional version vanished. Its flat counterpart lay as lifeless as before.
Mom blinked hard and shook her head as if to clear it. “Either I need glasses or I’ve been at this too long. Sorry, but I need a break. You two carry on without me.” She scuttled out of the room.
I pivoted around to face Aengus. “Did you see something strange?”
His eyes narrowed. “Did you?”
“You know I did.”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
I pursed my lips. “I think you do. I’d be willing to bet that you and my mom saw exactly what I just did.”
“That whole page was alive. And the word ‘aisling’ stood out as plain as the nose on your face.”
He nodded and appeared to be deep in thought.
After a good ten seconds, I planted my hands on my hips. “Well?”
His gaze found mine. “Well what?”
“You saw it, right?”
He hesitated, then sighed. “I did, but I’ve no time to discuss it now.”
“I couldn’t say.” His eyes shifted, and he looked to the nearest window. “I’ve matters to attend to.” Without another word, he turned and left the room.
I stamped my foot. Secrets. Diversions. Dreams I couldn’t remember. Feelings I couldn’t explain.
I’d had my fill. One way or another, I would uncover what was really going on at Breasal Manor and inside myself.
Again, happy Mother’s Day! And check out this amazing carpet page from the Book of Kells:
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks to my Irish heritage and undying love for the Emerald Isle, it’s a special day for my family. Whether or not you celebrate it, I hope you enjoy the day!
By the way, if you love Ireland as much as I do, there’s still time to enter the Goodreads giveaway to win a signed copy of The Cauldron Stirred, my young adult paranormal fantasy. It’s set in Killarney, one of my favorite places in the world! And I’m almost finished writing the sequel, The Stone Awakened. Here’s the link:
Now, how about an excerpt? The American protagonist is Ashling Donoghue, and her first night in Ireland, she has a vivid dream:
I soared above a silver lake, on which a lone, white swan glided toward shore. I drifted down and behind the bird until, with a sudden acceleration, we became one. As we merged, a cloak of serenity settled around me. Grace was my guide, and I felt freer than ever before.
On the shore ahead, Aengus materialized. He seemed a beacon of love and truth, of all things good in the world. I longed to be near him and swam faster to cut the distance between us.
A loud snap sounded in the woods behind him. Instantly, he vanished.
A misty black mass slithered around the tree trunks and stopped at the edge of the forest. Framed by two trees, it writhed upward into the shape of a tall, thin woman. Her skin was ghoulishly pale; her lips, colorless. Still, she might’ve been beautiful, if not for the evil that oozed from her core. Both her hair and gown were long and black, and they floated on the air as though animated by wind that touched only her.
The sight of her jolted me out of the swan’s body and back into the air above it. Fear coiled around me as I stared into the woman’s stygian black eyes.
She smirked. Then a single emotion subdued her features: hate.
N. N. Light’s Book Heaven is featuring an excerpt from The Cauldron Stirred today! Stop by and take a peek at this young adult paranormal fantasy set in Ireland. Here’s the link:
I’ve been hard at work on the second book in the series, The Stone Awakened. I’m happy to report that I’m one chapter away from finishing it!
Hope to see you on N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. And remember to enter their Pot O’ Gold Giveaway!
Grab your lucky pair of socks, your rabbit’s foot and/or your go-to lucky charm because N. N. Light’s Book Heaven has an incredible giveaway this month. You can win an Amazon gift card, a beautiful St. Patrick’s Day mug, books galore, and more. My young adult paranormal fantasy, The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, Book 1) is one of the prizes.
You don’t need to kiss the Blarney Stone. Just have a valid email address. Click on this link to enter today: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775010/
The celebration continues in honor of Long and Short Reviews’ 10th anniversary. Today, you can read more about The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series.
Here’s the link: http://wp.me/p5u5ZH-bEA
Join in and you could win one of several prizes, including a $100 Amazon gift card!
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!
Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cauldron-s…/1126456384…
The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/…/5134-the-cauldron-st…
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!”
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.
“Why? And what just happened?”
“I can’t say.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
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.