Author Judith Sterling is my guest. Her second book in her young adult paranormal series is being released on December 19. I love reading her stories about her family and I’m happy to have her share one with us. At a time when kindness is sometimes a rare and precious commodity I enjoy reading stories about love and in it’s triumphs in real peoples’ lives. As you know I truly believe that in the end Love Always Wins! I know you’ll enjoy Judith’s story and blurb for her books.
Christmas, for me, is all about family. My husband and I don’t buy gifts for each other. Any extra money goes toward presents—some tangible, some experiential—for our 14-year-old identical twin boys. It’s not a sacrifice; it’s a joy, and one we wouldn’t trade for the world.
It might not be a popular notion, but our family actually gets along. Every Saturday night is “family movie night,” and we take as many day-trips to cool locations—particularly historic ones—as possible. We love spending time together.
Don’t get me wrong. We have our disagreements. Heck, our boys can argue up a storm! But they’re also best friends and support each other no matter what. As a family, we express our love for each other before we leave the house in the morning and again at bedtime. In fact, the last thing we hear from our boys each night is, “Good night. Love you. You’re the best mom and dad in the world.”
Now, my husband and I know that last statement is false. We make mistakes all the time, and ever since we brought the boys home from the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), we’ve been winging it, unsure of ourselves and questioning choices big and small. But one thing we’ve done right: those boys know every single day how much we love them.
In my Guardians of Erin young adult paranormal fantasy series, my main character and her family have a similar bond. People might criticize that as unrealistic or a throwback to The Brady Bunch. They might say readers won’t relate to it. But I write what I know, and with all the strife and dysfunction in the world, it’s important to remind people that familial harmony does exist. Not every moment, but often enough to act as a strong, near-magical balm which can soothe our sorrows and brighten even our darkest days. If I can share that spirit of love through my books, then I’ve done something worthwhile. For all I know, it’s the one gift my readers need most.
Blurb for The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin, Book One) – It is important to read this book. Judith will be giving a free e-book copy to the first few people who leave a comment on this blog.
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.
Blurb for The Stone Awakened (Guardians of Erin, Book Two) – the one releasing on 12/19:
Since moving to Ireland, Ashling Donoghue has tackled one challenge after another. Now the mystery of her parents’ disappearance seems unsolvable. Are they dead or only missing? No one—not even the godlike Breasals—has a clue. Hope and fear war inside her, but she’s determined to find answers and stay strong for her siblings. Even as she hones newfound powers, her banshee-in-training sister Deirdre needs her support.
Ashling could use a little help herself. She’s struggling to navigate her first romance, and while Aengus Breasal stirs her body, mind, and soul, his nemesis Lorcan does too. Both men harbor secrets about her past life as Caer. One has ties to Aoife, the scheming wind demon whose influence is on the rise.
As the Stone of Destiny awakens, so does the conflict within.
Excerpt from The Stone Awakened:
Thunder shook the night as the Dullahan’s black stallion reared beneath him on the sweeping lawn below. The horseman thrust his severed head toward the sky and called out the names of those he hunted.
“Dylan Donoghue! Maeve Donoghue!”
Powerless to stop him, I watched from the bedroom window. The glass panes infused my palms with the chill of death itself. Out of sight, my parents screamed, then fell silent. The sound of laughter followed.
Exultant. Spiteful. Malignant.
Aoife! The wind demon whose foul plot shattered my family with a single blow.
Hate and despair welled inside me. “No!”
“Ashling, wake up!” My sister shook me awake.
She switched on the lamp between our beds, and I scanned the room. The same sash windows as in the dream. The same luxurious décor in shades of periwinkle, white, and gray. Even my slippers beside the bed were the same. But the night was quiet, and there was no immediate danger.
Deirdre tucked her long, blonde hair behind her ears and gave me a knowing look. “Another nightmare about the Dullahan?”
Nodding, I wiped the sweat from my brow. “And Aoife.”
“Sounds almost as bad as my dream the night he took Mom and Dad.”
“We don’t know he took them.”
“We don’t know he didn’t.”
“They’re not dead!” Dread clutched my heart, and I pushed out a long breath to calm myself. “They can’t be.”
Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven, Soul of the Wolf, and Shadow of the Swan are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred and The Stone Awakened are part of her young adult paranormal series, Guardians of Erin. Written under Judith Marshall, her nonfiction books—My Conversations with Angels and Past Lives, Present Stories—have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.
Website – https://judithmarshallauthor.com/
The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2212_judith-sterling
The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/6385-the-stone-awakened.html
We’ve been home and off the road for a few weeks. I had to be back to participate in two book signings, but I can’t leave my travel tales behind without sharing a few stories from the final weeks of our trip. When we left Benson, we traveled to Phoenix. We had dinner with our good friends Mark and Anne Bork. Rob and I hadn’t been to Phoenix, in many years and we were surprised by how the city had grown, I’ve always loved Arizona’s beautiful sunsets, the cactus landscapes, and the warmth in the middle of October. Although, the days we were there were cooler than normal. Our final goal was to make it to California to surprise a friend at his art show.
On our way to the coast we spent the night in Quartzsite Arizona, the RV boondocking capital of the world. It was there that I learned an important lesson about keys. We were ready to leave after packing up. Rob had the keys in the ignition, the motor was running, and he had to get out to check on why the car was dragging instead of the wheels turning as normal. He had forgotten to run the car through a sequence that he had to do each time before we towed. When he left the motor home he shut the door, and the lock moved down. Of course, the door locked. Can I just say here in my defense, up to this point I had always had the spare keys on me. The moment we needed them the most, the spare set were in my purse in the RV.
I won’t tell you Rob’s reaction, but believe it or not, I didn’t panic. Even when Rob reminded me the ladder that was in my plan to retrieve the keys, was locked in the storage area of the RV. Being the social person that I am, I went to the two RVs closet to us and asked if they had a ladder. I found one, we set it up, and I promptly climbed up to the very top, (I’m short) and through the window taking the keys out of the ignition. Rob wished he had, had a camera and I was happy he didn’t have one. Thankfully, the driver’s side window was unlocked and it remained that way for the rest of the trip. The extra keys were also in my pocket every time I walked out of the RV.
We made it to California, to the art show, and to the ocean, which was great. One thing we weren’t expecting to do, but were able to thanks to Rick Kess and Natalie Acosta was to go to Disneyland for the day. We survived our first major road trip and learned some things to boot. I’m ready to do it again.
Here is a tiny taste of The Final Flashpoint.
“Pushing her glasses on top of her head, she walked closer to the water’s edge. Warm, humid air swirled around her in the wind. Shivers danced down one arm and then the other. The water seemed fixed on thrusting something caught in its grasp closer to the shoreline. Driftwood perhaps. It was getting closer, whatever it was. And then she saw someone sitting alone on the rock jutting out into the water as the incoming tide inched closer to him. “Are you all right?” she asked, taking an unguarded step toward him. He lifted his head, stared out to sea, and then his eyes locked on her face. It was happening again! In one intense moment, she knew it was this man’s body inching closer to land. Frozen in place, she shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare and together they watched the waves move his body, pushing him, tumbling ever closer until the moment the ocean spit him ashore near her feet.”
Life on the road has a few perks and downsides. We have learned, in crash course style, many of the downsides in a few short weeks. For example, it’s important to remember certain steps like always making sure you don’t leave the water open in a bathroom sink with the stopper in it when you hook up to water or you might have a mini-flood. (Rob) Thankfully we noticed it quickly and I went into action with anything handy to mop up the water. One of my keener observations is when it’s really windy outside it’s a lot like being in a boat out at sea, and when it rains several days in a row there aren’t many places you can escape to, but we have fared well so far.No seasickness and no major wars. I’ve managed to maintain my exercise routine daily, can I pat myself on the back and say yay here before I move on?
On the perk side of things, is seeing new places and meeting with some old friends and new ones alike along the way. I’ve had a great temporary office to work at and the scenery from the window has made me dub my space a room with a view.
Benson, Arizona was one of my favorite places so far. I got in touch with my inner nature lover in this small out of the way place. I saw roadrunners scurry along the road every morning and a large red tail hawk come down in front of my eyes when he spied his breakfast running on the ground. Thankfully it wasn’t one of the cute roadrunners. Every morning I jumped on my tramp to the sun rising over the mountains, it was breathtaking.
In the park where we stayed, we went to happy hour a couple of times and a jam session. We also play tourist for the day at the nearby town of Tombstone. I love history and I found myself thinking of a scene for a new book. I think traveling can be good to inspire the writer in me. I believe I could learn to love the journey as much as the destination, especially when we have no destination in mind and a day without minor catastrophes of our own making.
Yesterday was a travel day, but that is a story for another day. I leave you with pictures from Benson and Tombstone.
Going on a road trip sounds like such a fun idea, at least we thought it did. We planned, got things together weeks in advance. Actually, more like months. (For my husband, he’s dreamed of doing this for years.) Who knew the one thing we would absolutely need, the plates for the RV, wouldn’t be ready before we left. Call it a hold up in paperwork from the dealer.The temporary plates expire halfway into our planned trip. A complication we weren’t expecting. Our plans shifted at the last minute, destinations had to change, and new lists were made, some before we left, and others along the way. Still, with all the lists life is what happens in the middle of the best-laid plans.
Can I insert here, Major Learning Curve!!! No amount of planning keeps you from forgetting something. I know right where I left it at home too. Nor does it help with the actual set up the RV, and remembering all the little tricks and steps. Although, I’m sure in time it will become old hat to us. If we can ever stay out long enough to acquire the skills needed and a Ph.D. in road travel. In the short time we’ve been on the road we have gained a thorough knowledge of rest stops along the way, though.(Our inside joke,)
On our first day, we left too late to get a campground they were all full. We slept in the Cracker Barrel parking lot with a few other folks in RVs. Who knew it would be one of the coldest days in Colorado this year. Let’s call it a frosty morning upon waking up and leave it at that.
On Day two, we got to our first destination the beautiful city of Santa Fe, NM. where the old and new meet in a very eye pleasing way. I love the adobe homes there. After a few snafus, we had our new home safely tucked in a great spot for the next three days. One of our changes in plans. The park was so peaceful and we were so rattled it seemed like the perfect place to light for several days. We actually thought about turning around and going home. I know it’s crazy and at this point, we were almost there ourselves. I also tried to exercise in the motorhome on my mini tramp, which was equally interesting, I now exercise outside.
On the day we left the beautiful park, Rob and I got faulty directions and crossed wires, that sent me on a nerve-wracking trip about sixty miles round trip out of my way, which made yesterday’s uneventful day of travel truly a beautiful experience for us. We aren’t going anywhere today. It’s nice to do nothing every once in a while. Tomorrow we’ll see where the road takes us or as my kids use to ask us constantly are we there yet?
This will be home for me for the next several weeks as we take a bit of time to travel. I’m in search of the town that I dreamed up in my head. Now, I understand that Blue Cove is a figment of my imagination, but I hope to find a few places that will inspire me to keep writing, and thinking about my characters. They need to see new things right along side of me.
We wanted to travel to Northern California up to Oregon, but there are a few too many fires in that area right now. We thought about the East Coast, but there is a hurricane on the way to the Carolinas. I wonder what that says about our trip at this point. My husband has drawn up several plans only to have to remake them. I think in the end it will be a surprise for both of us. I haven’t been out of Colorado in quite a while so I’d be happy to go and see almost anything except for fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and most natural disasters in general.
I hope you’ll settle in with me, as I blog in words and pictures over the next several weeks what it’s like to live in a house on wheels. I am excited to have the freedom to travel, and see a few sights from this great country. I’m sure there will be a learning curve, but I hope to meet some new folks along the way. Let’s put it this way, if I don’t my husband will shut off his hearing aids, and our trip might be cut short. I’m social, a bit of a chatty Kathy, and him, well, not so much.
I have a new book that will be released October 17. The Final Flashpoint is book six in the Blue Cove Mystery Series. I never intended to write a series when I wrote The Harvest Club, but I enjoyed my characters, and they seemed to hang around waiting for me to write another story. Their story. They’ve become a part of me, occupying a bit of the real estate in mind, and I am still here six books later.
Those who read my books like the characters too. As a matter of fact, I’ve had people come up to me at various events and tell me not kill off the heroine or hero, Jessie and Matt or they will be mad. I have no intention of killing them. I would rather let them ride off into the sunset. I am that attached to them.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of The Final Flashpoint it should be on Amazon for pre-orders soon. I’m excited about this book and loved it from the first scene to the last. I may say this a lot, but this one is my favorites. At least right now it is.
Revenge-The Final Flashpoint
Jessie rolled onto her side and drifted off to sleep. A swirling mist drew her to the edge of the woods. She couldn’t see anything through the dense fog, only a narrow pathway twisting around the trees. Enticing, the foggy haze seduced her to move one step closer. Jessie paused. She didn’t want to go in alone. Panicking, she started to turn back before it was too late.
“Jess,” Matt’s faint voice called out to her. He sounded wheezy and breathless, and she could hear the pain in his voice. Where was he? She glanced around, hoping to see his familiar face.
“Jess…” The call came again. She shivered. Matt was in the darkness, and death had come to play. The faces of those tortured young men danced in the mist before her. Her feet refused to move. She was paralyzed with fear. The silence around her was deafening. “
Jess,” he screamed out her name once more, trusting her to aid him. Tears filled her eyes, spilling down her cheeks. This time there was no way she could help…
I have been pushed through a rough patch in life lately. It seems when things happen they come in a clumps; never in ones or twos, but in several, leaving me feeling numb and slightly overwhelmed. I am not complaining because I know I am not the only one in the world to face a time of sorrow and loss. It has however given me a fresh perspective as I face things happening around me. I try hard to stay out of politics. To be sure, I know what I think, but how I do. may not be how you do, and I don’t want to risk friendships over politics by any means. So this note comes with a warning if you feel differently about what I am about to write I am only stating something from the sadness I feel inside of me and it’s not meant to tell you what to think, but what I’m thinking.
I almost cried when I heard that our country is thinking of separating children from their parents at the border as a deterrent. Life separates us too soon as it is. I yearn for more time with those who I have recently lost. One last look at their face, a few more kind words spoken in loving ways. And listening to them, really listening to what they are saying. The trauma of separation is a lot to handle as a reasoning adult, but is so much harder for a child. Ask my husband who lost his father at an early age.
I can still remember the photos of children that I saw walking through the Holocaust Memorial who had been separated from their parents one or both, facing certain death. I cried photo after photo. Children should be protected, but never taken from parents who care for them and love them. A foster home is for a child in need of loving attention not for children who have parents who would risk all in their love for them.
Life is tough enough without adding more to the load humanity is carrying. I guess I believe in my heart like he said that if I show mercy, mercy will be shown to me. I remember when I held my first child in my arms and the overwhelming love and sense of fear I felt at the same time. I would have done anything for him and my others as they came along. Much like my Irish and Scottish ancestors I would have left my own country to give them a better life if necessary. (No, they didn’t all come here legally.)
I read this from a letter / Life Lesson by David Weismann: “I don’t try to distinguish the authentic needy person from the phony. I don’t worry about enabling alcoholics and drug addicts or about being scammed or hoodwinked. Of everyone with a hard luck story or an outstretched arm, I assume the best, not the worst.
Are there times when the people I give money to are phonies? I’m sure there are. But who am I to second-guess the truth of another human being’s circumstances? What if I’m wrong in my assessment and the person really is hungry or really has no place to live or really can’t find a job and is unable to pay the rent or doesn’t have the money to pay the fare to visit a sick parent?
I consider myself very fortunate. I live quite well. I’ve been blessed. I’ve really never known what it is to not have enough food to eat or not to have a roof over my head or not to enjoy many physical comforts of life. God has been good to me. But I also recognize that there but for the grace of God go I. And I don’t know how I would manage if I went to bed hungry every night or had no place to live,”
Thankfully, I have never known true hunger or want nor have my children. I want to keep my arms open wide to bless others in the manner I have been blessed. I will err on the side of compassion and want to believe that others would do the same for me.
Life is filled with beginnings and endings; ebbs and flows, and ups and downs. It sounds so philosophical and wise. Unless, of course, I’m the one in an ending and don’t see a beginning close at hand, or I’m in a down that sees no up in sight. I’ve told myself many times this to shall pass and it usually does. But, sometimes it means saying goodbye to what I’ve known, and heading down a path that is new and foreign to me. Goodbyes are never easy. I find them hard to do even in the best of circumstances.
Over the years I’ve had to face my comfortable beliefs being challenged by new ideas, and change. Thankfully, I didn’t freeze in time. I’ve seen my faith reduced to its simplest form, to Love, which is one of the hardest things to do, and yet the greatest. I have had to say goodbye to friends, to a way of life that was familiar, and to start over again.
And so it begins again, another goodbye. A little over a week ago my big brother passed away. Anyone who has ever lost someone they love, knows how hard it is to say goodbye to them. A big brother is someone special to have on your side. Eight years older than this pesky sister I followed him around whenever he was home. On more than one occasion I would sneak downstairs to watch him and his friends dance. He loved to dance and was often found among the dancers on Denver Bandstand back in the day. I was his greatest fan. He was my handsome big brother and I loved to be around him. He played the guitar, sang, and was in a band when he was young.
My brother was an Eagle Scout, had a photographic memory, and was a coach. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He was witty and fun to be around. Somehow I must find the way to say goodbye and I’m not ready to. I want to have one more conversation, and see him one more time. I want to hear another one of his witty comebacks. I have a hope of seeing him again, but it’s the here and now that hurts like crazy. I have to figure out how to do life without a big brother and I’m not sure I like the idea. Rest in peace big brother you will be missed.