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Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Magic: Lightness of Spirit

It has been a while since I have done a Magical Monday post, and while Monday is almost gone, I'm pretty sure I can still sneak one in.

This is a simple spell, but one we can all use from time to time. It's from my book, Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook (Llewellyn). I hope it brings you all a little lightness... (You can light a white candle if you like.)

Lightness of Spirit

God and Goddess, hear my plea
Shine your light and love on me
Turn my burdens into Air
Letting go of fear and care
Ground my body to the Earth
Give my spirit joy and mirth
Wash away my tears in Water
With your love of son and daughter
Burn away the gloom with Fire
And grant the lightness I desire.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

When I was in Cape Cod recently with my extended family, we did a rainy day shopping blitz and one of the things I picked up was a fun dish towel with a mermaid on it, because it reminded me of the mermaids in WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, the second novel in the Baba Yaga series.

Which in turn reminded me that I'd promised to give away the cool lapis mermaid necklace I'd made in honor of the book. Do you remember this?

Mermaid necklace!

Mermaid close up
And here's the fun towel:
I kinda want to keep it for myself. But I won't.
But of course, I'd need to have an excuse for the giveaway. You know, something to celebrate and shout about. Luckily, just as I was thinking that, my lovely editor Leis emailed me with the final cover for WICKEDLY EVER AFTER, the next novella in the series. The third book, WICKEDLY POWERFUL won't be out until February 2nd, 2016 (don't worry, that's closer than you think) but the novella will be out a few weeks earlier, on January 16th! (And yes, since you asked, they are both available for pre-order now. You're welcome.)

I had a blast writing Wickedly Ever After, because it let me visit my first (and favorite) of the Baba Yagas, Barbara, and check in to see what was happening with her and Liam and little Babs. Of course, things aren't going quite as smoothly as she'd hoped...

Here's the blurb for the story:

Having triumphed over a powerful enemy and ended up with both a wonderful guy—Sheriff Liam McClellan—and an adorable adopted daughter to raise as a Baba Yaga, Barbara Yager is ready to welcome her happily ever after. But first she must bring Liam to the Otherworld and get the Queen’s permission to marry him. The Queen, however, is not so easily persuaded. She gives them three impossible tasks to complete in two weeks’ time—and if they fail Barbara will have to watch Liam slowly age and die like all humans, and kiss her happily ever after good-bye forever.
And here's the COVER REVEAL!!!

I love that it shows a bit of Barbara's attitude, because goodness knows, she's got plenty of that!

Now, here's the giveaway I promised you! Tell me, what do you think of the cover? Are you looking forward to the novella? The novel? Both?

Addendum: Yes, this one is open to everyone, international too!

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Back from Vacation and Some Announcements!

Hi all! Sorry I haven't been around, but, well, I haven't been around. First I was off to RWA in NYC, and then I was back for less than two weeks before taking of for a long-awaited family reunion vacation in Cape Cod. It was my first real vacation in 34 years, so I was really looking forward to resting and relaxing on the beach, eating lots of seafood, reading books, taking a major family picture together, and hanging out with lots of family, some of whom, like by favorite cousin Peter and his charming wife Mariana, I hadn't seen in over ten years. (Their boys, Alex 11, and Misho 9, were a hoot!)

Of course, as is the way of these things, nothing went exactly the way I'd hoped... (seriously, what on earth made me think that a vacation with my family would be relaxing?!) But it was still a great trip, mostly because of the time spend with those I love, and my dad did an amazing job of finding a house big enough for all of us, only a mile away from this:

Harwich Port Beach
 No picture with the whole family, alas, because a number of folks refused to get their pictures taken, but here is one of me with my cousin and his family. Misho is pulling a goofy face, as usual.

Alex and Misho, Mariana, Peter, and me

One selfie with me and the glamorous Mariana
 I didn't get to eat all the seafood I wanted to, sadly, but I did have lobster a few times, including this amazing lobster BLT. Yum!

And on the one rainy day, we all trouped into nearby Chatham and had fun picking up souvenirs. Lots of this are going to friends and the cat sitters, but I did pick up one thing in particular with a giveaway in mind. Can you pick out which item it is?

Hint: look to the right side...

Look, it's a towel with a mermaid on it, just like in the WICKEDLY WONDERFUL books! Which reminded me that I had been promising to give away the lapis mermaid necklace I made in honor of the book. So I guess we're having another giveaway, with Wickedly Wonderful prizes!

Of course, in order to have a giveaway, we should have something to celebrate, right? So how about the COVER REVEAL for the next novella, Wickedly Ever After! Tune in Monday, for both the cover reveal and the giveaway. In the meanwhile, happy Feline Friday, and here's another ocean picture just because.

Alex and Misho, clowning around on the rocks.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Giveaway! Signed Book, Mug, and Dragon Necklace

It suddenly occurred to me that it had been a while since I'd done a giveaway. Gasp! Don't worry, I'm going to remedy that right now.

What are we celebrating? Well, I survived had a great time at RWA Nationals, I just got the cover for the upcoming Baba Yaga novella, Wickedly Ever After (it needs a few tweaks, but I'll share it when it is finalized), and I found out that both Baba Yaga book 3 (Wickedly Powerful) and the non-Baba urban fantasy I have coming out in November as an ebook (Veiled Magic) are up on Amazon for pre-order. And probably other places, too. There isn't any info up yet, but they're there.

Naturally, I'd love it if you would run out and pre-order one or both of them, since that makes me look good to my publishers :-) But you don't have to. As always, all you have to do to enter is pick an option or option from the form below.

But just in case, here are the order links...
Wickedly Powerful
Veiled Magic

 I decided that even though this is a Baba Yaga-themed giveaway, I'd give the winner a choice of one of three signed books: Wickedly WonderfulEveryday Witchcraft  or Midsummer
The winner will also get a Wickedly Wonderful mug and this cool dragon necklace, in honor of Chudo-Yudo, the dragon in the stories.

Unfortunately, because of the weight of the mug and the book, this giveaway will have to be USA only. But if you are from out of country and want to enter anyway, I'll still send you something cool if you win. (As always, no purchase is necessary to enter.)

Feel free to spread the word, and don't forget that good reviews are the best gift you can give to an author (after buying the books, of course). Good luck!

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

At RWA 2015 in NYC

I'm sorry I haven't been around much, but I have a good excuse. First I was madly prepping to go to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Convention. This means writing like a crazy person to make up for the fact that I was going to lose five days of writing time (I normally write almost every day). And trying to figure out what the heck to wear, and then packing, and then (gulp) five and half hours on the bus to NYC.

Then, of course, I was actually AT the convention, and too busy to do much more than occasionally post a picture of my breakfasts on Facebook. (No, really, they were very good breakfasts. Lots of bacon.)

There are a number of reasons I go to the Nationals every few years. There are good workshops, and it is a great opportunity for networking. For me, though, the best part is the people I get to see that I don't have the opportunity to meet up with anywhere else. This was my third time attending, and in many ways it was very different from previous conventions. The first one I went to, in Washington, DC, I was just starting out in the fiction field, still looking for an agent. The second one, four years ago in NYC, I had my agent (the wonderful Elaine Spencer), but we hadn't sold a book yet. This year was my first time attending as a published author. This meant I got to take part in both the Literacy Signing Wednesday night (an insane mob scene also open to the public) and the Berkley signing on Friday for conference-goers only.

At the Literacy Signing

I love having piles of my books! And they all disappeared in the first hour!
Of course, it was a crazy hectic manic rush from the minute I got there. But I did get to see agent/author pal Lucienne Diver after the signing on Wednesday, where she convinced me to go to the Coastal Magic convention next February in Florida.

On Thursday, I had breakfast with some Betty friends, including roommate Megan Coakley. If you're a Betty, raise your hand in the comments :-)

Stephanie, Karen (who wasn't even at the convention and just drove in to see the rest of us), and Megan
 Then I had lunch with Elaine and we took part in a panel that featured agents and authors from The Knight Agency...and didn't manage to remember to get a picture of either. Sigh.

Hung out with brilliant author pal Mindy Klasky and hatched some possible plans...

 And then the highlight of my trip, finally meeting my amazing Berkley editor, Leis Pederson. We had such a great time together! (It's a funny looking picture because we convinced the security guard at the desk to take it.)
Me and Leis Pederson
She took me to a yummy Mediterranean restaurant called Kellari Taverna and we shared a bunch of appetizers including lamb riblets, and the most delicious flaming cheese. No, really. They soaked it in something like brandy and set it on fire. It was delish!

That's the cheese in the cast iron pan, no longer flaming.

On Friday, I got to go to two different workshops given by my favorite author, Jennifer Crusie. Jenny is not only a terrific author, she is a great teacher, and I credit her "Turning Points" workshop (that I went to at my first RWA, and then again this time) with improving my writing to the point where I finally got an agent. I started a standing tradition at that first Nationals of stalking her throughout the conference and giving her chocolate. (If you're going to stalk someone, you should at least make it worth her while.) This time I brought her handcrafted chocolates made by a local chocolatier. Yum.

The stupendous, amazing, inspirational Jennifer Crusie

Megan, Jenny, Stephanie and me
I also got to finally meet the lovely Patience Bloom, who is both an editor for Harlequin and the author of a funny, sweet, and poignant memoir called Romance is My Day Job (all about her real life love story), which I recently read and loved.

Patience Bloom, who made me wish I had red hair
 And of course, there was New York City. I'm not a city girl, myself, but you have to admit it is pretty splendid.

Bryant Park, where people were watching Shakespeare in the Park
I had a lot of fun, ate some wonderful food, and met up with a whole bunch of terrific people. But I was still really glad to get home to the kitties and you people.

I suspect we'll celebrate with a giveaway sometime this week. Just because.

Where is the last interesting place you traveled to? Are you a journeyer or a homebody like me?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Magickal Monday: Two Spells for Healing

Almost everyone has health issues now and again. Some unlucky folks have chronic pain or disabilities, or are surprised with a sudden unpleasant diagnosis that turns their lives upside down. Whether it is something small and annoying or large and disruptive, health issues can a pain in the, well, pain.

Those who have to deal with such things (me included) use whatever tools they can to help themselves heal. Sometimes that means doctors and medicine, sometimes it means increasing your exercise and changing your diet, or taking up meditation, or making sure your life is more balanced. For anything major, it usually means all of those and more.

And sometimes, magick can help too. Remember, spells are a way of focusing our intentions and using our will to send those intentions out into the universe. Like prayers, they give us a way to ask for help and guidance, too. Between my own issues the last few weeks (I'm look at you, Migraine that Would Not Die) and a friend's cancer diagnosis, I've had health issues on the brain. Literally, in my case. So I decided to share two spells from my third book, The Goddess is in the Details (the precursor to my newest book, Everyday Witchcraft)*.

The first spell is one to bring in health, and therefore is best suited for use during the full moon or waxing (growing larger) moon. The second spell is one to banish illness, and is best suited for use during the new moon or waning moon. If you plan to do these repeatedly over the course of a number of days, as I do when something is really problematical, you can start with one and then shift to the other as the moon changes.

Spell for Healing
I call upon the gods above
In perfect trust, in perfect love
I ask for health and energy
Balanced and in synergy
Healthy body, mind, and soul
A perfect balanced, healthy whole
I pledge that I will do my part
For healthy body, healthy heart
Every day let health increase
Until all signs of illness cease

Spell to Banish Illness 
I call upon the powers given
By the new moon, dark and strong
I banish, strip, and wash away
All those things that don't belong
I banish illness, pain, and weakness
I banish struggle without gain
I banish all those not of lightness
And forbid them come again
I bind and banish three times three
And as I will, so mote it be

*(Llewellyn, 2009)

I wish you good health and hope that, if worse comes to worse, and you end up with health issues of your own, you will find these helpful.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Weedy Wednesday: The Midsummer Garden

I have to start by apologizing to all my friends who live in drought country, since we've had rain on and off for weeks here. Which is both good and bad, when it comes to the garden. Things are growing well, including the weeds, of course.

This is what it looks like now:

The view from outside my back door.

The left side of the garden, including a new strip of plastic mulch.
 You can see the garlic plants off to the left, corn and cukes straight ahead, and broccoli, parsley, basil, and dill to the right. Plus weeds, of course.

These are soybeans on the left and potatoes on the right. They seem to be trying to meet in the middle. In the background you can see squash and beans, ditto.

A lovely head of broccoli ready to be harvested.

Tomatoes and eggplant. Those yellow leaves on the eggplant mean its not happy about the lack of sun and heat.

More tomatoes. They have the beginning of blight because of the constant rain. Sigh.

I love bright red lettuce! (Ignore the weeds.)
In some ways, the garden this year is a good representation of my life: it is mostly growing well, but man, it is impossible to keep up with, some stuff is getting away from me no matter how hard I try, and occasionally, there is blight.

How is your garden (actual or metaphorical) growing this summer? I'd really like to know.

Also, have a cute frog sitting on a big lily pad in the garden pond.