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/
Hi, all! I’m doing another giveaway on Goodreads. This time, it’s a signed copy of my young adult paranormal fantasy, The Cauldron Stirred. It’s the first book in my Guardians of Erin series, which takes place on the beautiful Emerald Isle. I’m currently writing the second book, The Stone Awakened. There will be four books in all.
If you love Ireland as much as I do, you might want to check it out. The giveaway runs through December 28, 2017, so be sure to enter. Good luck!
Welcome back to Phantasmic Friday! Here in Salem, Massachusetts, “Haunted Happenings”–our month-long celebration of Halloween–is in full swing. I doubt Salem’s founder, Roger Conant (pictured above, in front of the Salem Witch Museum) would approve, but those of us who love Halloween and/or the paranormal have a lot of fun! In that spirit, let’s journey back to my college years for today’s true story.
As an undergraduate, I studied one semester in London. I dove into life in that venerable city and bonded right away with my two roommates. We and our fellow students lived in a Victorian hotel in South Kensington, which also provided classrooms and a baptism-by-fire acquaintance with English plumbing.
The bathroom adjoining our room was a boon, but it was also the lair of the “toilet monster.” Out of the blue, said toilet emitted thunderous, tortured gurgles that begged our attention day and night. During the day, the toilet monster was harmless; at worst, a disturber of the peace. At night, it creeped out the roommate who slept closest to it and often wrenched me from my dreams. Or perhaps there was another culprit.
Once awake, I sat up in bed and squinted into the darkness. Someone unseen watched us. The presence was male, and I sensed he’d lived in an earlier time, closer to when the hotel was built. Sometimes he stood in our room, most often at the foot of my bed or near the bathroom; other times, he lurked just outside the door. His location was as clear to me as if I’d seen it.
Halfway through the semester, another student—who had no idea what I’d experienced and whose room was directly across the hall from ours— shared his own encounter. He woke in the middle of the night to find a 19th-century soldier standing at the foot of his bed, staring at him.
I was certain our neighbor saw what I’d repeatedly sensed. Intrigued, I researched the street where we lived. A few doors down, in 1926, one of England’s first paranormal investigators established the National Library of Psychical Research, where mediums were scientifically tested during numerous séances. Closer still was the home of a 19th-century lieutenant colonel who died under suspicious circumstances.
Did activities in the ghost hunter’s lab become a beacon for stray souls? Was the soldier one of them? Perhaps it was he who wandered the halls—and our rooms—as we slept.
In my YA paranormal fantasy, The Cauldron Stirred, the protagonist’s father is a paranormal investigator (in this century, though!). His family joins in the hunt for Irish ghosts in the ruins of a medieval castle and on the shores of Lough Leane. The story’s climax occurs on Halloween to boot! 🙂 If that sounds like something “up your alley,” check it out!
October has arrived! It’s my favorite month for so many reasons: the glory of autumn, the magic of Halloween, my wedding anniversary, etc. I could go on and on but instead, I’m instituting “Phantasmic Friday” for the entire month. Over the next four Fridays, I’ll share brushes with the supernatural I’ve been fortunate to experience. One occurred when I was six years old.
On the night in question, I woke with a start. I lay nestled against a white, life-size teddy bear, so my vision was limited to a patch of faux fur illuminated by the nightlight’s glow. I couldn’t see a change in my world, but I could sense it.
Something was off.
The next instant, I heard confirmation. Slow footsteps clunked down the hall toward my bedroom, crossed the threshold, approached my bed, and halted beside it.
My ears pricked up. Every hair stood on end. Somehow, I knew the presence was an adult male; I also knew it wasn’t my father. I lay still as a board, feigning sleep, hoping the man would go away. Yet he remained poised at the left side of my bed.
Swallowed by a deafening silence—and partly, by my stifling, stuffed bear—I began to sweat. I waited for another movement, another sound, anything to help me gauge my visitor’s intent.
Nearly ten minutes of stress, heat, and uncertainty reigned before action’s inevitable coup. It was my bed and my room. I would confront the man and stake my claim. Will and courage surged within me, and I flung myself up and around to face…
I scanned the room, analyzing storybooks, dolls, and the familiar landscape of furniture. I frowned, for the atmosphere was still thick with something other than Florida’s trademark humidity. Beyond the open door stretched the dim hallway.
“Is anyone there?” I called.
Dead silence. (Pun intended.)
At length, the air thinned. I shrugged and snuggled back under the covers and into the bear. I took a deep breath and expelled it with a smile.
Tired and craving sleep, my eyes closed. Then they shot open. Distinct, measured footfalls tracked out the door and disappeared down the hall.
Now, years later, I understand the event better. In the field of paranormal investigation, there are two types of haunting: intelligent and residual. With an intelligent haunting, the entity is aware of your presence and may try to communicate. A residual haunting is more like a recording—of energy and event—which replays itself again and again, and the entity involved is unaware it has company.
My first ghostly encounter seems to fall under the second category. The unexpected footsteps sounded like hard-soled shoes tramping on wood. Our house, built in the 1940s, did have wooden floors, but they were carpeted at the time of the event. The previous owners of the house were an elderly couple who preferred separate bedrooms, and guess which one used mine: the man. (I knew none of this at the time, though.)
He and I shared the same space in different times and should’ve been oblivious to one another. But could it be, when conditions are just right, two such individuals can perceive one another’s presence?
If linear time is an illusion, as many believe it to be, this type of awareness might occur more often than we suspect. Who knows? I might even have sensed a man who would occupy my bedroom in the future. In any case, I know what I felt and heard, and from that point on, my interest in the supernatural was as fervent as it was fixed.
If you’re as drawn to the paranormal as I (and/or it’s drawn to you!) you might enjoy The Cauldron Stirred, the first book in my Guardians of Erin series. I’m currently writing Book Two, The Stone Awakened. Happy October, everyone!
Today, author Sorchia DuBois is hosting me on her magnificent blog, Sorchia’s Universe. “Novel Magic” is the focus, and I’m talking about the inspiration for my latest novel, The Cauldron Stirred, and my love affair with Ireland. There’s also an excerpt (featured nowhere else) which hints at the magic and mystery to be found within the pages of this first Guardians of Erin book and the three to come.
Join us if you have a moment. Here’s the link: https://wp.me/p6fSsM-YD
See you there!