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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Come With Me to Coastal Magic

I'm going to be heading to Daytona Beach, FL in February, to be a Featured Author at the Coastal Magic Convention. I'd love it if you could join me! We'll have lots of fun panel discussions, time for meet & greets and casual chats, and a whole slew of other activities. There will even be a chance for some lucky readers to join my table for lunch before the book signing! Check out the website at http://coastalmagicconvention.com/ for a listing of my fellow Featured Authors, and lots of other info. Then, get yourself registered for a weekend of bookish shenanigans by the beach! (And, if you mention me in your registration, for "how you heard about Coastal Magic", you could help me win an awesome author prize!) I can't wait to see you there!!

(Seriously--this is the most fun convention I go to...and it is AT THE BEACH!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Meet Harry Dresden

As you know, I lost my beloved brother and sister cats, Mystic and Magic, within nine days of each other recently. To say that I am grieving would be a huge understatement. My house, which until a few years ago, had five cats in it, only had one. Not only was poor Angus not made to be an only cat (he has always been with other cats, first at the shelter and then here, and was often curled up on the bed with his buddy Mystic), but I was pretty sure they were going to kick me out of the Crazy Cat Lady Union.

Normally, I wait a bit longer to get a new cat after losing one, but the house was SO DAMNED EMPTY. After Magic died, I had already started looking for new cats, although at the time I had planned to wait until after Mystic was gone, not realizing that would happen so soon.

I happened across a cool local rescue organization called Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans when  my friend Ellen and I were at the mall one day and they were there with a bunch of cats. These folks do spay and neuter and find foster homes for both cats and dogs until they can be adopted. They're completely made up of volunteers and funded by donations. So I thought I might look for a cat with them instead of the shelter, when it came time. After I lost Magic, I looked at their pictures of adoptable cats on Facebook and saw a little 4 1/2 month old guy named Ocean. He was black, and the ocean IS my happy place, and I had asked Magic before she died to help me find my next kitties. So I went to go visit him at his foster home.

He ran around for a while with the other kittens there, and then tried to get into the pocket of my coat where it was lying on the floor. His foster mom Kristen and I joked that he was trying to go home with  me already. I explained to her that I really wasn't sure what was happening with Mystic, and I had another couple of cats to see that my friend Nancy had found, so I couldn't promise to take him. But it looked pretty possible, since he was a very sweet boy.

Then he came over, sat on my lap, and promptly fell asleep. I know when I've been chosen.

So cute!
 Here is a picture of me with him. I look terrible, because I'd been weeping for days. But he looks cute.

When I had to put Mystic to sleep the following Friday, the house was so unbearably lonely and empty, I actually went and picked up the then-named Ocean that evening. Luckily, I had already been approved for adoption.

He has been adjusting well, all things considered. He's a bit mouthy, and has a tendency to get into trouble, but he is also sweet as can be and there is no one you would rather have by your side when you're feeling sad. So in keeping with the magical theme of the household, and in honor of one of my favorite fictional wizards, he has been named Harry Dresden.

In the office
Angus spent the first few days hissing and running away, but they are slowly getting used to each other. I think it is going to work out.

Oh, okay.
Harry Dresden turned five months old on the fifteenth, and it is um, interesting, getting used to all that wild young energy after having a house full of older cats for so long. He has two seven month old companions who will be joining him at the beginning of February from a different rescue organization (seriously-- Crazy Cat Lady Union rules!) and hopefully they'll all wear each other out.

In the meanwhile, say hello to Harry!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cover Reveal!

In more cheerful news, I have the cover for THE LITTLE BOOK OF CAT MAGIC, coming out from Llewellyn on October 8th. (No buy links yet, but they should go live soon, and I'll be sure to come here and add them.)

What do you think? Does that black cat remind you of anyone?

I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it is going to be my first HARDCOVER book, so I am pretty excited!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mystic the Magnificent

It has been a rough week. I lost Mystic yesterday, nine days after his sister. He'd been fighting lymphoma since March and had already been going downhill. Once we lost Magic, he stopped eating almost entirely. When I brought him in on Friday, his weight was down to 9.3 lbs (from 16.8 originally--he was a BIG cat) and my vet said it was time. But it was SO hard to let him go too.

I'll be back with more cheerful news soon, I promise.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe

I'll talk about this a little more, when I can pull it together better, and have a celebration of her life (with giveaways, of course). But for now, I can say this:

It actually went as well as it possibly could have, under the circumstances. Heartbreaking, of course, but Magic—in her usual inimical fashion—made it clear that she was ready (while I was making breakfast, she walked into the kitchen, yelled at me, and then walked back into the living room to stand in front of the carry case where it was warming up in front of the pellet stove—of course, then she went and hid behind the couch and made me move it to fetch her out).
She even sat next to me on the couch as I ate breakfast, purring and letting me pet her, which she hasn’t wanted much in the last week. The folks at the vet’s were great, she clearly wasn’t afraid or upset, and my friend Ellen stepped away from her dog grooming in the back to be with me, which really helped. It felt like things had come full circle, since Ellen had found Magic, her mom, and brother for me all those years ago. Magic’s passing was gentle and peaceful and I was there with her (which might not have been true if that tumor had burst) and my vet agreed that we were seriously out of time (the tumor was so huge, you could see it pushing out her sides).
I am bereft, but I also feel like I made the right choice for the cat—for the first time ever in all the years I’ve had them, I picked exactly the right time. So in a way, we actually beat the damned tumor at the end. I’d asked for her to make it through the holiday season, which should have been impossible, given the size and volatility of the cystic tumors on her spleen, for her not to have a crisis while the vet was closed those extra days and to allow me to do what I needed to do at the shop. We had the long weekend to say our goodbyes, and she was so clearly ready to go. It was as good as it could possibly have been, for something so terrible, and my grief is tempered by gratitude for a kind universe and a stubborn-to-the-end cat. 
But oh my goddess, how I miss her already.
Last picture, this morning

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year's Day at Casa Blake

I usually spend New Year's Day happily by myself, but this is a tough one, because I'm losing my beloved Magic on Wednesday. (She's barely eaten in the last few days and is clearly uncomfortable; the tumors are huge now. They'll burst on their own and kill her soon, and I want better for her than that, so the appointment has been made, and I'm keeping her comfortable until then and treasuring every damned moment.)

We started the morning like so many others, with Magic sitting on my lap while I ate breakfast and read my book. She still purred, which made my heart happy. It has always been my favorite way to start off my days, and I'll miss it. Well, actually, I started off the morning staring at the thermometer and making rude noises. But then breakfast. (It was -13 here when I got up. Ugh.)

Breakfast snuggles

That's just rude
Then in the early afternoon, my friend Ellen (who found me Magic, along with her brother Mystic and mom Minerva almost 16 years ago) came over for a low-keyed New Year's celebration geek style: Chinese food, Scrabble, and watching this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special (which I had gallantly held off on watching so we could do so together). We got Peking Duck, one of our favorites, and Magic happily nibbled on a bit of duck meat.

Peking duck? Well, maybe just a bite or two.
 It made me happy to see her taking such pleasure in our treat. (Although admittedly, all the Chinese food in our little town is fairly mediocre. Still, I didn't have to cook it. And I love duck almost as much as Magic does. Ribs, too, although she didn't get any of those.)

 The Doctor Who episode was actually pretty terrific, and it was nice to share it with Ellen.
Last time we'll see this

It was great
 Magic spent most of the meal sitting next to me, although she quickly got bored with the duck. She always supervises everything I do, from eating to writing. Not sure how I'll do either without her. Yes, she IS the boss of me.
Sitting next to me, supervising as usual
 Eventually she wandered off to sit on the bed with (but at a reasonable distance from) her brother and his pal Angus.
It was a three cat afternoon when the sun hit the bed
 Apparently she was my good luck charm, because then Ellen went on to beat me. By six points :-)

Ellen pondering a clever word

We play nine letter Scrabble, so we can get even more vicious and make even longer words.

All in all, it was as good a New Year's Day as I could have hoped for, and I even finished up by writing 3,000 words on the current manuscript, after a nap. (What am I working on? Tune in soon, and I'll tell you. I'm just about ready to talk about it.)

I hope your first day of 2018 was a good one, and that if, like me, it is starting off tough, it gets better as it goes along. I am looking forward to sharing mine with you in the days to come.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

An Update on Magic and Mystic

I'm sorry I haven't been around much this month (although if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you can at least find me there). It's December, so I'm insanely busy running The Artisans's Guild and making jewelry to sell there, plus, you know, DECEMBER. But I've also been spending a lot of my time and energy taking care of Mystic and his sister Magic, both of whom are battling cancer. I won't kid you--it has been a tough time here, although well worth it.

Mystic the Magnificent, skinnier but still handsome

The kittens, as I still tend to think of them, although they're both fifteen, would be turning sixteen on January 11th. Barring a surprise development, Mystic will probably make it, although he gets skinnier and pickier about food all the time, and is on a bunch of expensive medicines. Magic, on the other hand...well, it is the season for miracles, so I guess we'll see. Right now I'm just praying she makes it through the Christmas holiday, when my vet is closed for 2 1/2 days, and I'm working at the shop (where people probably wouldn't appreciate me weeping all over their gifts).

For those of you who didn't already know, Mystic has been battling what we're pretty sure is some kind of lymphoma since May. No one, including my vet, expected him to still be here now, but my cats are nothing if not stubborn. He's gone from 16.8 lbs to about 11, and back in August we had to put him on pain meds for what we assumed was "hospice care" for the last few weeks of his life. Apparently they keep him feeling pretty good, since he's still here. I've given up trying to predict how long he will last, but our best guess is another month or two. In the  meanwhile, though, he is still feeling perky enough to play with his pal Angus and torment his sister, although I have to feed him 6-8 small meals a day and sit with him to encourage him to eat. Plus he gets fluids every other day, for the beginning of renal failure which was probably brought on by the cancer.

Boys will be boys

Best friends

The one good thing about how long this has dragged on is that it has given me time to make my peace with it, as much as is possible. Magic, well, that one is tougher.

"Why do you keep taking pictures of me?"

For one thing, we have an incredibly special relationship. I love all my cats, but Magic is also my familiar, and the only really snuggly one of the bunch. She sleeps by my head and purrs me to sleep each night, and sits on my lap while I eat breakfast. She supervises my writing (and everything else I do) and attends ritual. Plus, of course, she is so much a part of my writing career, I sometimes think she has a bigger fan base than I do!

Helping me write.

Reading at breakfast
 A couple of months ago, she had what I thought was a bad reaction to a rabies shot, and almost died. It turned out my vet saw something suspicious near her spleen on the x-rays and we shaved her belly (she did NOT approve) and did an ultrasound, which showed a cluster of grape-like cysts, almost certainly a different type of cancer. One of the cysts had burst, flooding her body with poison. We put her on prednisone, which might have shrunk the tumors (it is probably controlling the ones her brother has), but my vet always said it was a long shot, and when we did another ultrasound three weeks ago, it showed the tumors had grown to be massive. My vet (who is wonderful, and very supportive) called her "a ticking time bomb." Essentially, one of these--now much larger--cysts could burst at any moment and kill her. It isn't a matter of if, but rather, when. It is too large and chancy to operate on, and there is essentially nothing to do but wait, and be grateful for every moment of every day I still have her with me.

Poor little shaved belly kitty
 Ironically, despite this, she seems to be a perfectly normal (well, if any cat of mine could ever be called normal) and healthy cat. She did suddenly get very picky about food a couple of weeks ago, and there have been two times when she stopped eating (probably from nausea) and I thought, "This is it," only to have her perk up again. Today, she is feeling pretty good. Tomorrow is anyone's guess.

I lost their mom last March, and Samhain three years ago this coming December 28th, so the crazy cat lady with five cats will soon be down to one. They're going to drum me out of the CCL union!

In the meanwhile, I'm doing my best to stay positive, and keep them comfortable. I am incredibly grateful for all the support people have given me online--my peeps are the best. I am ESPECIALLY grateful for the folks who have signed up to support me on Patreon. I'm actually $53 away from being able to cover the monthly costs of Mystic's medication, which is huge. I love, love, love all my Patreon followers. If you're interesting in checking out the reward levels (which start as low as $1), you can see them HERE. (I'm even offering live online witchcraft classes, an "only available there" novel in installments, and private tarot readings.) Even if you aren't interested in doing that, all your messages and encouragement have meant the world to me.

All the Meds. Oy
 I know what's coming, although I don't know exactly when. And I know it is going to break my heart into a million pieces. But these cats have been one of the greatest blessings in my life, and the last fifteen plus years with them have been worth all these hard moments at the end. Love always comes with a price, but it also brings so much joy.

So despite the sadness here, the furball gang and I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and a blessed Yule.

"I will bite you."