Sorchia's Universe

Specializing in Bewitchment and Single Malt Scotch

Times the Universe Yelled at Me

Friday the 13th’s post is about those little jolts of synchronicity from Nature. The messages the natural world sends our way in the weirdest manners.

But first, I have a non-natural sign to share with you. Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones will go on sale on October 20 and stay that way until November 3. What can this mean, you ask. What does this portend?

Well, I’ll tell you. It means the release of Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen is getting closer. No firm date yet, but the process is begun.

To get the word out about the sale, I’m running a Thunderclap campaign. I’d appreciate your support. Click HERE to lend your voice to the tumult! 

Portents and Omens

So many people are genuinely suffering in our world today. Echoes of their pain filter into my safe, warm home. A subtle dis-ease keeps me awake at night and disturbs my morning tea. Something prickles the hair on my neck, and I text my kids to make sure they are okay. Of course, they are. But the feeling that something just isn’t right persists.

I can’t explain it.

In difficult times, we humans look for patterns—shapes in the clouds, faces etched on our breakfast toast, order from chaos. Soothsayers and fortunetellers cast the bones or lay out cards or divine meaning from patterns in entrails or bumps on the head.

Who can say if they’re wasting their time or not? Who can say the old ways are dead?

If you live close to the land, you’ve heard the voices of birds and beasts, of soil and wind and rain, of trees and grass, herbs and flowers. You’ve sensed the wariness of a doe and her fawns long before the flick of a white tail in the undergrowth draws your eye. You’ve felt the intrusion of another person on an abandoned road long before they came into view.

It’s this connection with the natural world that brings order for me and it’s here where I look for signs and symbols, omens and portents. Am I wasting my time? Who can say? I sleep better when I see the orderly progression of stars and planets across the night sky. My day is more peaceful when a squirrel or woodpecker peeks in my window to say hello—to remind me the world still works.

Most of the time, that’s all it is. Just a greeting, an acknowledgement, a cautious connection with the strange noisy creature who lives in their woods. Maybe they’re as curious about me as I am about them. Maybe, to them, I’m a sign of disaster.

Every culture on the planet includes a collection of animal lore, superstitions, traditions explaining odd encounters. A black cat may mean bad luck or good luck. A turtle signals rain; a dog’s howl  death. Most of these bits of folklore are general and easily dismissed. But sometimes the event is so persistent or so odd, you wonder.

Below, you can read about some of my encounters with nature signs, but tell me—What messages has the Universe sent to you? Or do you think all of this sounds crazy? Leave a comment and tell me what you think!!

 

Times the Universe yelled at me

A black snake crawled down a tree outside my window. Not unusual, until he or his brother crawled onto my porch—three times. Not only that, but as I sat typing (coincidentally about a character who sometimes turns into a snake) there he/she was again—slithering across the tin roof outside my second-story window.

  • Snakes signal transformation, life and rebirth, healing. He also suggests grounding—focusing intention on the basic. But this guy was in midair nearly every time I found him so there’s that. Also, black is a color of protection.

I headed to town on a grocery (liquor) run but had to stop when a huge walking stick slide down the windshield. She scampered under the hood. A thorough search of my car’s private parts yielded no walking stick and I feared the worst. My shopping finished, I pulled into the gas station and what did I find crawling across the top of the car, but my walking stick. This time I secured her and got her home where I released her into the wild. As I put her on a tree, another walking stick ran up as if to say “Thanks the gods, you’re safe. We heard you’d been abducted by aliens.” For the next several days, walking sticks took every opportunity to make their presence known. They crawled up my legs, they dropped on me from trees, they appeared in the most unlikely places. And then they went back to being nearly invisible.

  • Walking sticks, stick bugs, Devil’s darning needle—their real name is phasmid. While they don’t sting people, they do spit caustic liquid into the eyes of their prey to blind them. Nifty. They suggest patience and again focus. Why are you yelling at me, Nature?  They are also experts at camouflage and indicate a need for serious reflection before taking action.

In the course of one full moon night, my house was assaulted by a band of marauding raccoons who crept in the cat door. Mom and two fuzzy nuggets of disaster made a complete tour of the house before they waddled out. At the same time, a cat caught a flying squirrel took the wee beastie upstairs where the squirrel escaped. I chased it into the sun room where it found a hiding place. I secured the doors, opened the window and took off the screen, hoping he would find his way out during the night. He did not. The next morning he did a flying leap from wherever he had been hiding, ricocheted off my leg and nearly came to a bad end before I got him safely stowed in a wide-mouth mason jar I keep for just such chores. I took him into the woods far from prying feline eyes and the last I saw of him, he was climbing a pine tree with a certain amount of alacrity.

  • Raccoons are curious and clever. Their presence may be about leaving no stone unturned in a quest but Raccoon is a trickster, too. They like to knock things out of balance and you can either go with that and enjoy the ride or you can resist which makes you frustrated and annoyed.
  • Squirrels advise to take yourself less seriously and have more fun.  Again with the yelling! To really relax, though, they remind that you have to take care of practical matters first. Squirrels encourage you to get rid of clutter and leave unimportant things behind.

 

via GIPHY

 

Don’t forget to leave a comment and/or weird sign you’ve gotten. Or feel free to add your interpretation of mine. I can use all the help I can get.

Novel Magic: Impetus Toward Ireland by Judith Sterling

It’s that time of year again when strange stirrings rustle the dry leaves and half-seen shadows melt into the moonlit forest. Something tells me Judith Sterling, my guest on Novel Magic today, understands the whispers in the ether better than most. Find out how she discovered a startling truth about herself and how she incorporates her passions for history and the paranormal into fantastic books.

Impetus Toward Ireland by Judith Sterling

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!

 

Excerpt from The Cauldron Stirred:

            A sudden, resounding chime pierced the silence. Then another rang out, and another. It sounded like the peal of a gigantic grandfather clock. The wind began to howl.

            “Midnight.” He turned and pointed. “Look!”

            From the mouth of the cave burst a symphony of specters. There were hunters on horseback and wailing hounds. Flying above and behind them were hundreds of nocturnal creatures. Living gargoyles. Gray ghosts. Copper red birds. Dark angels with massive, black-feather wings.

            I suppose I should’ve been scared. But for someone like me, who’d embraced the magic and mystery of Halloween from day one, the Wild Hunt was a glorious sight. The stroke of midnight, the rushing wind, the mad pursuit across land and sky: all stirred my soul.

Looking for a way to finish the story? Buy a copy at any of these purveyors of fine literature.

Buy at The Wild Rose Press

Buy at Amazon

Buy at Barnes and Noble

A bit more about Judith.

Judith Sterling’s love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Flight of the Raven and Soul of the Wolf are part of her medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood. The Cauldron Stirred is the first book in 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.

 

 

Find Judith online and get news about her latest releases. 

Website – https://judithmarshallauthor.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/judithsterlingfiction/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16291161.Judith_Sterling

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01MT3KB7L

The Wild Rose Press – https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/2212_judith-sterling

Book News, Virus College, and Healing Magic

Here we are at the Autumnal Equinox and I have to marvel at how quickly the summer flashed by. And what a summer it was! Let’s hope Mother Earth calms down a bit—but sometimes you just have to scream and throw things before anybody pays attention. Who can blame her?

Things are brewing in Sorchia’s Universe—as they always do at this time of year.

  • Look for a bunch of guest posts on Halloweenie topics from now through October AND a sale on Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones at the end of October.
  • I’m teaming up with several outstanding authors to present a newsletter. This month, my contribution is a recipe from the Scotch and Salad Diet. You’ll also find freebies and giveaways galore. Sign up the newsletter HERE.
  • Witchling, An Anthology of Zoraida Grey Short Stories is nearing completion and will be available to subscribers to this blog for free for a limited time. I hope this is available by Halloween, but I’m not totally in control of that. Fireworks will explode right here when it happens.
  • Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen is in the pipeline. More news soon on release date, cover reveal, and all the other bits and pieces that go with it.
  • Zoraida Grey and the Pictish Runes is in progress. I’m about 20 K in and you’ll be seeing snippets and tales from research in the coming months. My goal is to get the manuscript to my editor by the end of the year but we’ll see how that goes.
  • I didn’t do a fantastic job of getting the word out about my Novel Magic guests, so here are links to some excellent books for Autumn Reading.

Why Be Normal When You can be PARANormal? by Debra Doggett

New Release in Casi McLean’s Lake Lanier Mystery Series

Some Whisper, Some Shout by K.K. Weil

Paranormal Elements to Boost Mainstream Stories by Connie Johnson Hambley

Now, I have to apologize for being AWOL for August and most of September. I’ve had some sort of brain-zapping, energy-sucking mutant virus which infiltrated my personal biosphere sometime in July and not only made itself comfortable but built a duplex and invited its college buddies over for the summer.

Yes, my virus went to Virus College.

DLGNCE body sick cold GIF

Mercifully, I don’t remember most of it since I self-medicated myself to the edge of a coma. I’m afraid I lost a few brain cells. Unfortunately, I did not lose any appreciable weight. This is how illness works for me—all the suffering and none of the benefits. Nobody felt sorry for me (I did quite a lot of this all by myself, but it would have been nice). Nobody took care of me. And I still don’t fit into my skinny jeans.

Now that I’m on the road to recovery, it’s time to make good on those fever-induced promises I made to the Universe.

As far as I can recall, one of them was to cut down on the drinking—only on holidays. Fortunately, we pagans have a holiday of one kind or another at least twice a month—so there’s a little wiggle room with this one.

Another promise was to lose weight—which means getting back to the exercise and healthy diet which resulted in a loss of about thirty pounds a few years ago. Unfortunately, many of those pounds have crept back when I wasn’t looking. So back to square one.

And all that got me thinking about those little gems of healing magic I’ve come across as I researched.

I did a whole series on healing crystals. Here is one post which will lead you to the others. OR you can select the Category Crystal Fix from the category list on the right.

Crystal Fix: Beryl

 

Stones, Gems, Minerals, Crystal

Novel Magic: Why Be Normal When You Can Be PARAnormal? by Debra Doggett

Bone of My Bones by Debra Doggett at Sorchia's Universe www.sorchiadubois.com

It will be a sub-zero diurnal passage in the infernal pit of Abaddon when any miscreant soul dares call Sorchia’s Universe NORMAL. We totally and unequivocally agree with our guest, Debra Doggett. Normal is for wimps!!

Tell us what you think and check out her new book while you’re at it!

Why Be Normal When You Can Be PARAnormal?

By Debra Doggett

It’s possible that I’m the most mundane person you’d ever meet. I can’t predict the future, read auras, uncover psychic secrets, or reveal your past incarnations. Also, I don’t suck blood, howl at the moon, or transform into another, far more exotic shape. Probably I could make you smile, but that isn’t as hard as it sounds with most people. None of those gifts were part of my inheritance from my very nice, but mundane parents. Life, from this beginning, should have been quite normal.

The gift I was born with, however, is imagination. Lots and lots of imagination. Never one to waste a gift, I found that my imagination preferred people, places and things that were far from normal. Be a cheerleader? Nope, who settles for that? I wanted to be a time traveler instead. Trapped at home with small children? Minions, where do you think the idea of minions came from? Trust me, children really go with the flow when it involves imagination.

Imagination puts me anywhere I want to be, offers me any skill that intrigues me and places some of the most interesting people right in front of me. When I first began writing, I listened to as much information on the craft as I could find. Some folks will tell writers to write what they know. This piece of advice stuck out in my mind. I did take that one to heart, though I doubt it was in the way they meant. I do know what the bloodlust of a vampire feels like. My imagination tells me (along with the imagination of some other wonderful writers). I know how breathless it can be hurtling through space, or how the moonlit howl of a werewolf mid-transformation can speed up your heart.

Someone once asked me how hard it was to come up with my ideas. I didn’t know how to explain to them that there was never a time, day, or night, when ideas weren’t whizzing through my brain. My mind, my imagination, operates at warp speed with no notice of time. Not a good pace for sleeping, but one that means I must only grab a thought and go with it and bam! it’s another story. Thanks to my imagination, I can take that thought far beyond what’s normal.

 

A little About Debra Doggett

I’ve been many things in my life: actor, filmmaker, historian, writer, but putting words to paperDebra Doggett at Sorchia's Universe www.sorchiadubois.com is the most satisfying. After years of moving around the US, I’ve settled in the desert of New Mexico, a far cry from my birthplace in Louisiana. You never know where life will go.

 

Bone of My Bones excerpt

“How old are you?”

“Excuse me?” The man finally decides to talk and that’s what he asks me?

“On the phone you said Alexis was mentoring you in the Craft.”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier to ask how long I’d been studying with her?”

He shrugged. “You want to know something, you need to ask specific questions.”

So he wanted to know how old I was? Now that was a loaded question if ever I heard one. The kind a smart man would steer clear of. And Matthias Romero struck me as a smart man. It made me wonder what he really wanted to know, if he had some ulterior motive for asking. I pondered the answer for a minute. Did I lie and tell him I was older, and therefore wiser? Or did I knock off a couple of years so he didn’t wonder why the hell I wasn’t better at this at my age? Did I go for the hot factor? Was it hotter to be 25 than 30? How old was he? I compromised and went with the truth, something I wouldn’t have to try and remember later.

“I turned twenty-eight last month.”

He just nodded. I couldn’t tell from the look on his face if he’d gotten what he wanted or not from my answer. Maybe all he wanted was to see if I’d lie to him. Then I felt it, not strong but subtle, a bare ripple around the edges of my thoughts. In a reflex action, I pushed back and the ripple broke.

“You’re reading me!”

I stopped and let go of his hand, both angry and astonished. No one had ever put the moves on me in that way before.

“Not anymore. You stopped me. Nice to know you noticed, though.”

“Nice to know I noticed? You do something that, that…”

“Rude.”

“Yeah, that rude and all you can say is nice to know you noticed?”

“Nice to know you noticed and knew what I was doing.” He started walking again. “And that you’re capable of doing something about it. That helps.”

“Helps?” I tried not to screech. “It helps?”

Bone of My Bones by Debra Doggett at Sorchia's Universe www.sorchiadubois.comHe started walking, careful not to touch my hand this time.

“Most women get flustered when you ask them their age. It throws them off, makes it a good time to check how sensitive they are.”

Was he kidding? He had been rude, but I passed the test. I had a hard time deciding whether to be furious or flattered as I reevaluated my infatuation with Mr. Tall, Dark and Strange.

 

 

 

You’re gonna want your own copy now, aren’t ya?

Wild Rose Press

Amazon

 

Connect With Debra Doggett

FaceBook

Twitter

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

LinkedIn