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Friday, October 17, 2014

Feline Friday: Cats in the Sun

I realize that it has been a while since I posted a Feline Friday blog. Believe me, it's not because the cats have stopped being cute. Snort. I've just been distracted by writing and gardens and fall, oh my.

And, of course, the ongoing CONTEST AND GIVEAWAY that's running here until midnight on Saturday the 18th (there are some options you can do every day, even if you have already entered) and my Goodreads giveaway of Wickedly Dangerous (these are the last Wickedly Dangerous giveaways, so if you don't have a copy yet, or if you want one for a friend...enter now, or forever hold your peace)


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake



          Wickedly Dangerous


          by Deborah Blake


            Giveaway ends October 18, 2014.

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.




      Enter to win

But all this aside, we are clearly overdue for a cheerful dose of adorable cats, so I'm going to share one of my favorite themes with you--cats in the sun.

Magic the Cat, wondering what the heck I'm up to with the camera. Again.

Samhain, who took over the prime sunny spot on the living room floor after Magic got up.

Samhain's buddy Angus coming over to say hi.

Magic sitting, very appropriately, on a box containing a broom-making kit from the fab Robert Skinner

Okay, no cats in this one, but isn't the sunrise glorious?
Happy Friday! What is everyone doing this weekend?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Contest & Celebration! Wickedly Wonderful is Coming!

OMG! Did you realize that the release of Wickedly Wonderful, the second book in the Baba Yaga series, is only SEVEN WEEKS AWAY? *faints*

Wickedly Wonderful (and yes, that dog is a dragon too)

I guess it must be time to have a contest and giveaway!

Here's the reality: People have been asking if there will be a book three. The answer is, it depends in part on you. Any day now, my publisher Berkley will be making the decision about whether or not to go with a third book in the series. They base that decision on two things--the sales numbers for WICKEDLY DANGEROUS and the preorder numbers for WICKEDLY WONDERFUL. If those numbers are good, I get to write book three and you get to read it. If not... well.

So how do I know if the numbers are even close? I don't. But one last push couldn't hurt, right? Besides, you know I was going to do a contest sooner or later. (In fact, there will be one more right before the release.)

Of course, you don't have to preorder the book. You can help spread the word, put up a review of Wickedly Dangerous (here's a secret: reviews help authors sell books). And of course, you can just have fun!

Unfortunately, there are no ARCs to give away of Wickedly Wonderful, and I haven't gotten my copies of the book yet. So we'll just have to make do. Here's what I'm giving away:

A signed copy of Wickedly Dangerous, a signed ARC (one of my last ones), a Wickedly Dangerous mousepad, a Wickedly Wonderful notebook, and of course, my eternal gratitude :-)

ALSO, the first TEN people to enter the contest will get free bookmarks, even if they don't win.

What are you waiting for? Enter! (The contest is only open to USA and Canadian residents, I'm afraid, due to shipping costs. But if you live elsewhere, feel free to enter anyway, and if you win, I'll send you a lighter-weight swag packet.) The Wickedly Wonderful link above takes you to Penguin's site for the book, which in turn will allow you to preorder from every option you can imagine.

As always, thanks so  much for your support!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 13, 2014

Garden's End

My plans for the weekend had been to do some cleaning, make a dump run on Saturday, go to the last farmer's market, and then spend Sunday writing. The Saturday schedule went about as expected, and I had a lovely time walking around the market, eventually coming home with these goodies:

Purple cauliflower, the last of the corn, fresh local apples, a pot of basil, organic bacon & sausage from local farmers

I came to find a large, fun box on my doorstep. Gods only know what my mail carrier thought when she delivered it. The lovely Robert Skinner, who made a special broom for me earlier in the year The Broom sent me a box full of broom-making supplies, so Blue Moon Circle could make one of our own together. He's even going to make me a "how to" video. We'll probably bless and consecrate the supplies at Samhain, even if we don't have a chance to make the broom itself until later.

Acme Broom Company--Contains 1 Flying Broom Kit
 My plans for Sunday changed when I woke up to this:

Kale with frost. Luckily, kale is hearty, and once the day warmed, it was just fine.
That's the kale, which is one of the few things left in the garden, covered with frost. It was the second serious frost of the season (and the second morning when the temps hit below 29 degrees), but it got really nice in the afternoon, so that made it Time to Put the Garden to Sleep for the Winter. I called my stalwart pal Ellen, and we spend a sunny afternoon clearing the remaining beds of debris, planting next year's garlic, and harvesting the herbs. (Plus the less appealing chores like rolling up and putting away hoses and such.) The lovely weather and good company made the work go quickly, and there is always something satisfying about having the garden all neat and tidy. The end of the season is bittersweet, but this too is part of the Wheel of the Year.

You can't see it now, but this is where the garlic will come up next year. And there's the kale, looking fine.

The fish pond, with the filter & fountain removed. A heater will keep it from freezing over later.

Lemon balm, chocolate mint, thyme, and rosemary for drying.
Miraculously, I even managed to get 2,100 words written later in the day, but boy, was I tired.

Still, it was a very satisfying weekend, for the most part. What did you do with yours? Did you put anything away for winter? Harvest anything good?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Change of Seasons: Fall Cleaning

It is definitely autumn here in upstate NY. The trees are changing color, the garden is dying back, and we had our first frost the other morning. Days are shorter and colder, and I can feel the energy slowing from the hectic pace of summer.

Even if you don't live in a place where the change of seasons is quite so obvious, you will still notice the change in daylight hours and the differing energy of fall. It can be hard to stay in tune with the natural ebb and flow in these modern times, but I think we all feel better if we can do so, at least to some extent.

This doesn't have to mean complicated rituals, if you don't have the time or inclination for such things. The energy of autumn is all about settling in and preparing for winter, and harvesting whatever there is to harvest (literally and figuratively). One of my favorite ways to do this--something that is practical and useful, but to which you can easily add a magical or spiritual component--is fall cleaning.

I know; most people do a big clean in spring (and I try to do that too). But I'm more likely to do both cleansing and protection work around my house in the fall. It's my way of preparing my "nest" for the dark days of winter.

First I start with actual clearing: I put away any clothes that won't be worn until the warm days return, make sure the harvest is tucked away where I can get at it easily, sort through closets, drawers and surfaces to get rid of things I haven't really used in the last year, and don't need to hold on to.

I clean the house, getting into the nooks and corners that usually escape the more casual weekly cleanings. THEN the magical bit starts. I take my broom (thank you, Robert!) and sweep through the whole house, from top to bottom. Before I start, I may anoint the broom with cleansing oils, or dip it in a salt & water combo that also has a bit of lemon (cleansing) or rosemary (protection) essential oil in it.

When I've done the whole house, I end up at the front door, where I sweep out both the last of the season's energy and actual dust, saying this spell from The Witch's Broom

My broom sweeps clean this house and home
My broom sweeps clean this place
With my broom I cleanse and clear
And purify this space

Then I usually follow up with some major protection work, but that's a subject for another post.

I hope you are enjoying the fall changes wherever you are. What's it like in your part of the country? Does it look like this?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Tarot Deck: More from Illustrator Elisabeth Alba

As promised, there will be regular updates about the tarot deck project. Here is a link to illustrator Elisabeth Alba's own first blog post about the project Elisabeth's Blog

And here is a fabulous video featuring Elisabeth and her brand-new husband, talking about how they help each other with art and inspiration. If you watch carefully, you can get sneak peek's at some of the other cards, and see her working on the ones I showed you here!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rober-Con and Home Again

I spent this last weekend at Rober-Con, a fairly new SF convention in Binghamton, NY--but not as just a con-goer. I was actually invited to be a guest author and presenter, and took part in four panels, as well as doing a book reading. I'm not going to lie--I had a blast. It was pretty cool to finally be a published fiction author out there in the world.

The panel on Worldbuilding, with Jill Schultz, me, Joshua Palmatier, Laura Anne Gilman, and moderator and con-Goddess Crystal Sarakas
My best pal Ellen and I drove (well, she drove, because I fall asleep behind the wheel after about 30 minutes, which is annoying as hell...especially to innocent bystanders), since it was only about an hour and 15 minutes from my house. We stayed overnight so we could go out to dinner with the con organizer and some of the other authors, and not have to make the drive back and forth. As with most cons, it was exciting and exhausting, and a few little things didn't go as smoothly as you'd like them to, but for an only-two-year-old con, it was amazingly well run. All my panels were well attended, and I had a wonderful time hanging out with the author Guest of Honor, Laura Anne Gilman. Laura Anne and I had never met before, but we had about a zillion author pals in common, which was nice. She was an editor before she became an author, and she knows more about the writing biz than just about anyone I have ever met.

Me, Joshua Palmatier, and Laura Anne--we look pretty shifty here, but it was really end-of-con exhaustion. Laura Anne joked that only two of us had gotten the shirt color memo :-)
 One of the great things about going to a con this close to home was that some of my Binghamton-area pals could come, including my friend Robin and her kids Sophie and Nate (my goddess-children), who had a blast at their first con.

My friend Rob came too, only to feed me to author April Steenburgh's Bag of Death. It got poor Laura Anne, too.

The con took place at the lovely (albeit confusing to get around in) Roberson Museum, which was filled with costumed folks, cool authors, and fabulous vendors. (Yes, I bought some used books--why do you ask?) I had a fabulous time, and plan to return in future years if they continue to invite me.

But one of the BEST moments happened on the trip home, when my friend Ellen managed to surprise me (not easy to do when you're a psychic). We'd stopped in the museum's gift shop on our way in on the second day, and I spotted a cool blue stuffed dragon. I'd been sort of thinking of picking it up as both a memento of the con and as tribute to Chudo-Yudo, the dragon characters in my books.

Alas, when I went back for it at the end of the day, it was gone. And they'd only had one. (I know, because as soon as I saw it was gone, I suddenly realized how much I'd wanted it--you know how that happens--and had the gift shop staff check their inventory. But nope, only one, and it had sold.) So I settled on a cute little black one instead.

He IS cute, isn't he? I'm thinking I might have to have a contest to name him.
 So we're driving home, and stop so I can have a pitstop. And when I get back into the car, Ellen says in a mysterious voice, "You know, I think the Force has shifted in this car." Needless to say, I had no idea what she was talking about... And then she pulled a bag off of the top of this mound sitting between the two front seats, and there was THE BLUE DRAGON!

He's going to need a name too.
 I couldn't believe she'd managed to buy it earlier in the day (the liar told me she was going off in search of a bottle of water) and then managed to sneak him into the car trunk without me knowing. It made me absurdly happy :-)

And now it looks like I have the beginnings of a collection. I don't normally collect things (although I have always liked dragons, and actually have a few already), but I believe I'm going to have to make an exception.

TWO! And clearly just the beginning...
In short, I had a fabulous weekend. I took today off to recover, but tomorrow, things go back to (coff) normal. In other words, I'll be writing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RoberCon This Weekend!

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I'm been invited to take part in my first Science Fiction convention: RoberCon 2014 in Binghamton, NY, September 27th and 28th. (It is called RoberCon because it takes place at the wonderful Roberson Museum and Science Center on Front Street.)

You can get all the info here: ROBERCON 2014

The author Guest of Honor is Laura Anne Gilman, and there will be a number of other authors, vendors, and fan groups. (Not to mention Cosplay, of course.) I wish I could got to ALL the panels, they are that cool. (Doctor Who! Star Wars!)

Here's where I'll be and what I'll be doing:


11 A.M. Author Reading: Deborah Blake Susan Waters Room (second floor of mansion) Deborah Blake is the author of eight books on pagan practices (published through Llewellyn Books). Her paranormal romance series, Baba Yaga, launched in September, with the release of Wickedly Dangerous.
12 P.M.
From Your Mind to the Page: Making Your Ideas a Reality
Activity Lab (second floor of museum)
Presenters: Crystal Sarakas (moderator), Laura Anne Gilman, Joshua Palmatier, Deborah Blake
Lots of people come up with ideas for a story, but how do writers carry those to completion? We’ll talk with authors about the nitty-gritty of writing, from that first spark of an idea to seeing your idea in print and all the glamour and work in between.


11 A.M.
By the Gods Above: Paganism in Genre Fiction and Media
Activity Lab (second floor of museum)
Presenters: Crystal Sarakas (moderator), April Steenburgh, Deborah Blake
Many books and genre television and movies feature witchcraft, magic and myths from around the world. For some, this is just fiction. For others, it’s the reflection of a serious religious path. How much of what you read and watch is “true” and what makes most pagans laugh out loud in amusement?

1 P.M.
Everybody Wants to Rule the World: Writers and Worldbuilding
Activity Lab (second floor of museum)
Presenters: Crystal Sarakas (moderator), Laura Anne Gilman, Joshua Palmatier, Deborah Blake, Jill Shultz
What are the rules of worldbuilding? What are some of our panelists’ favorite examples of worldbuilding done right? How much detail should you go into, and how do you make sure that the plot is central, and not the scenery?

3 P.M.
Women Writers: Their Influence and Future
Computer Lab (second floor of museum)
Presenters: Jill Shultz (moderator), Deborah Blake, Roberta Rogow, Laura Anne Gilman
From Mary Shelley to J.K. Rowling, women have profoundly influenced SF and fantasy. Yet according to the book review statistics, we’re still overlooked — and many casual readers believe women only write certain kinds of stories. We’ll bust some myths and add to your “to-be-read” pile.
 I hope that if you're in the area, you'll come see me, and join in all the fun! And if you see me wandering around the con, be sure to come up and say hi.