WIP Progress Meter

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Release Celebration Blowout

OMG. OMG. *tries not to hyperventilate* Two weeks. The book is out two weeks from today, on Tuesday, September 2nd. I guess that means that this is as good a time as any to start the celebration. I hope you'll celebrate with me.

I got this from my publisher, Berkley...isn't it pretty?

So I thought, "Gee, I should give away a book." And then I thought, "Well, heck, that's not much of a giveaway, is it? Not for such a HUGE and momentous occasion." So instead, I thought I'd give away, well, this...

The mug, pictured above. A big tote bag (it has Wickedly Dangerous on one side, and SURPRISE! Wickedly Wonderful, book two, on the other).

And a few swag packs, including some dragon temporary tattoos, a couple of mini-notebooks, postcards, and a magnet.

 And a cool notebook with a few surprises of its own. (I won't tell you what they are, but I swear, you'll like it.)

 And of course, a signed copy of the book.

PLUS (because what's a party without someone getting carried away?) a $25 B&N gift card--which you can use to buy a copy of the book, or anything else you are in the mood to read.

*Note: This contest is open to my international fans too, but I reserve the right to substitute a lighter-weight prize (such as the swag package) if you win a heavier one (like the tote bag) that would cost too much to ship. *smooches*

So, who wants to celebrate with me? Tell me, are you as excited about this book as I am?

If you want to, you can pre-order it here:


And now, with no further ado, I present the BOOK RELEASE CELEBRATION BLOWOUT GIVEAWAY!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Hopping with Maria V. Snyder

 Author pal Maria V. Snyder invited me to take part in a blog hop. Each author thanks the person who invited them (thank you, Maria!) and then answers a few writing related questions, then passes the "hop" on to someone else.

Here is Maria's contribution (I love her books--she's one of the people who inspired me the most when I got serious about my own writing, so if you haven't read her yet, you might want to start!)

Maria's blog hop post
And here is mine...

Question One: What am I working on?
Well, there's the Sekrit Project I can't talk about yet (soon, I promise), but mostly I am working on a new novel, which I am provisionally calling One Born Every Minute. It is a complete departure for me, since it is a humorous contemporary romance, rather than a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy. I love writing with humor (there's always at least a little bit, no matter what I write) and I'm having a ball writing something that is out and out funny.

Question Two: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Answer:  My paranormal romance books (the Baba Yaga series) aren't quite as grim or sexy as a lot of the books out there now (not that I have anything against grim and sexy--it's just not what I write), and there is always a hint of humor. The Baba Yaga books are loosely based on a bunch of Russian fairy tales, which isn't exactly the norm either. Also, I have dragons disguised as dogs. Go ahead, find someone else who has THAT.

Question Three: Why do I write what I do?
Answer: I suppose that the simple answer is that I write the kind of books I love to read. I adore books about witches (especially ones that break the normal stereotypes) and I really like modern retellings of old fairy tales. (Check out Jim C. Hines Princess Books to see what I mean.) I like kickass female protagonists who mostly rescue themselves, with maybe just a little help from the good-looking guy who shows up. Not to mention dragons that turn into dogs. Or is it the other way around?
I also write what I do because that's what shows up in my head. I might say to myself, "Gee, I'd like to write a humorous romance next." But what shows up after that it pretty much out of my control.

Question Four: How does your writing process work?
I always love reading other authors' answers to this question, since no two authors I know work the same way. My friend Alex Bledsoe tend to get up very early, to write before his kids are awake. Maria said in her post that she works from 10 pm to 3 or 4 am--if I tried that, all you'd get would be drivel!

Every book is a little different (they all want to be written in their own particular way, believe it or not--some can be outlined in detail, others prefer to be mostly made up as I go along...it's very annoying). In general, I tend to start with an idea (what if there is a woman who is the only honest one in a family of thieves, who is forced to work with an uptight cop and pretend to be a thief?), then create the main characters, figure out the basics of the plot, then delve deeper into the protagonists, which usually introduces me to the secondary characters. I try to write up a "blurb" for the story (like the one you would find on the back of a book jacket), to sum things up, then write up detailed character studies and a basic outline before I start actually writing.

Once I'm into the story, I write almost every day, usually from about 6:30-7pm to about 9:30-10:30 pm. At which point I clean a bunch of litter boxes and stagger off to bed. When things are really rolling, I often do two stints on the weekend days. (No, I don't have a life. And your point?) I aim at producing at least 1,000 words a day, although on a good day I can get two or three times that much, and on a bad day, I'm happy to produce a page (about 300 words). In theory, I can write the first draft of a novel in about 3-4 months, then I send it out to a few folks, including my fabulous critique partner Lisa, and my equally fabulous agent Elaine. Revisions take about a month, not counting waiting-for-responses-time. Then, if the book is already sold, it goes off to my editor, then I do MORE revisions. Oh, the joy. Then I have a glass of wine.

And eventually, the finished book comes out, and I celebrate!

Next up on the blog hop, be sure to check out the lovely and talented Nancy Holzner, author of the Deadtown books (which I LOVE). Nancy has had a tough year, with the loss of her husband, and hasn't been blogging at all. Hopefully this little blog hop will be a easy way for her to hop back to it. (Yes, I did that. I'd say I'm sorry, but of course I'm not.) She'll be posting her piece of the puzzle sometime next week.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ongoing Giveaways and Feline Friday

Hey all--I'm running late (and if I'm late to work, I have to fire myself, which would suck) so I'm just going to throw up a couple of quick updates:

My publisher Berkley is giving away TWENTY copies of Wickedly Dangerous on Goodreads, but the giveaway ends next Tuesday, August 19th! Hurry over and enter.

I got wild and crazy and threw a quickie giveaway up on my author page on Facebook--but that ends at midnight tonight. Quick as a bunny, go enter! Giveaway on Facebook Just look for the "giveaway" tab at the top of the page.

REALLY excited to see my name show up at the Bitten By Books Weekly Poll -- I went to go vote in this week's "Pick your most anticipated upcoming release" poll, and there was Wickedly Dangerous! What a great surprise! Of course, it isn't anywhere near the top of the voting, because there are authors like Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs, but thankfully, you can vote for three. The poll closes on Sunday, so if you are so inclined, and my book IS one of your most anticipated, I'd love it if you'd go vote for me so I don't look completely unloved. Snort.

And keep an eye out, because I think I'm probably going to put up the mother of all giveaways starting next Tuesday, when it will be TWO WEEKS before Wickedly Dangerous comes out. (*faints*)

In the meanwhile, I hope you are doing something fun this weekend. Here is your Feline Friday amusement... Mystic (and friends) helping me to work on revisions. Or, you know, not.

I printed out all 160 pages, spent an hour and a half brainstorming with my CP Lisa and scribbling notes on the manuscript. Too bad I couldn't read it through the large gray mass sitting on top of it. No, I never did get the revisions done that night. Guess what I'm doing this weekend...

A rare picture of all five cats at once. SEE, I really do have five!

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Revealing My Secret Identity

It's been an interesting week so far. My Supermoon Love Spell post post went viral on Facebook with almost 9,000 views (holy crap). Yesterday, I put up a post about the fairy tale and mythological origins of Baba Yaga HERE. And of course, I got a box of books from Berkley, which means I'm pondering my next giveaway contest.

Do you think I should
A) Have one massive blowout giveaway with a bunch of prizes starting soon and running until the book comes out in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS (eek!)? or
B) Have a series of smaller giveaways, each only lasting a couple of days?

Speak now or get whatever my fevered brain comes up with on its own.

On Facebook, there has been a recent trend called Throwback Thursdays, or #TT. So in honor of that, I'm going to reveal my secret identity. No, really, I  have one. (And NO, it's NOT Crazy Cat Lady.) I found this picture when I was looking for something else. This was me, on the back porch of a house on a lake I was renting in 1989-1990. This would have made me 29 or 30.

Here's the cover of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS

 I got kind of a kick out of this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet Baba Yaga

 As some of you know, I have written a series (a novella and two novels so far) about an updated version of the Baba Yaga tales. The novella came out recently, and the first book will be released on September 2nd. But not everyone is familiar with Baba Yaga, so I thought I would introduce her to you. Here—let me fill up the samovar with tea, and we call gather around the hearth fire while I tell you a story…

Most people are familiar with the standard fairy tales (many of which were written down by the Brothers Grimm, and then prettied up into the versions we know today…the earlier stories were, well, grim). You know Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, of course. But when I set out to write an updated fairy tale, I wanted to use a story that hadn’t been done quite so many times. There are some fabulous modern rewrites of all those classics, as well as things like Beauty and the Beast, but I wanted something completely different. I wanted, as it turned out, Baba Yaga.

When I was growing up, I loved fairy tales, and read as many as I could get my hands on, including a fabulous series of old tales compiled by editor Andrew Lang into The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book, and so on. I’m guessing that it was there that I first encountered the Russian witch known as Baba Yaga. (I am of Russian Jewish descent; I don’t recall this being a story told at home, although my mother says that my grandfather would have known it, and loved Russian culture, so it is also possible I heard it from him.)

Unlike many of the more conventional fairy tale heroines, the Baba Yaga wasn’t pretty. Nor, for that matter, was she weak, or sitting around waiting to be rescued by a prince. If anything, she rescued them. Or, you know, ate them. Baba Yaga wasn’t a princess, you see—she was a witch. Ah, now you’re beginning to see why I decided to write about her.

The Baba Yaga tales all agreed on a few things: She was a powerful witch, and not to be trifled with. She usually appeared in the guise of the “old crone” type of witch, and sometimes traveled with a dragon named Chudo-Yudo. She lived deep in the woods in a hut on long spindly chicken legs, which could move through the forest, or turn its back to any passing journeyer. Unlike most witches, she didn’t fly through the air on a broom; instead, she rode in a mortar steered by a pestle, and used her broom to sweep away her tracks behind her. She was sometimes cruel, but could also grant help or wisdom to a worthy seeker. She was often associated with the three riders: White Horseman, the Red Horseman, and the Black Horseman. She calls them, “My Bright Dawn, my Red Sun, and my Dark Midnight.”

Then we get to the really fun stuff.
You see, there are deeper layers to the Baba Yaga than you might find in your average fairy tale. There are those who consider her to be much more than simply a witch. According to Judika Illes, who wrote about Baba Yaga in her books, Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses (HarperCollins 2009) and The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft (HarperElement 2005), the Baba Yaga started out as a goddess of birth and death, and only over time did she devolve into the witch whose name was used to threaten children who didn’t eat all their dinner.

It was in part what Illes wrote which inspired my modern version of an immensely powerful, neither moral nor immoral witch who was not exactly good nor essentially evil, but in fact, had the potential to give great gifts to those she finds worthy, or kick a little ass for those she does not.

“She is an underworld goddess who controls the forces of life and death…She performs miracle cures. On the other hand, according to fairy tales, personal encounters with Baba Yaga are often fatal; whether this was meant literally or shamanically is unknown. Either way, she is potentially very dangerous.”
And this:
“In some legends, she is completely solitary, but in others, she is a midwife spirit who is the mother of three sons or three dragons. Sometimes there is one Baba, sometimes there are three: three sisters…”

In The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, by John and Caitlin Matthews [yes, I have a lot of pagan/witchy/mythical reference books—and your point?], I found some more intriguing information about Baba Yaga:

Although Baba Yaga has become the archetypal bogey-woman with which to frighten children, she is actually a primal goddess whose knowledge of the world is unequalled. Baba Yaga can also appear as a peasant woman of kindly disposition…she is helpful to women and a guardian of good order and behavior, punishing those who outrage it.”

And what became some of the major components of the story:
Baba Yaga confers upon Koshei, the dragon in human shape, his immortality. She also controls the fire-breathing dragon Chudo-Yudo, who guards the Water of Life and Death. Baba Yaga’s house sits between the world of everyday and the Otherworld, where it acts as a guardian to the land of the dead.”

Yes, there are three Babas in my tales, each with her own Chudo-Yudo. Koshei shows up (looking, in my mind, a lot like Rufus Sewell, but hey, you can imagine him any way you want to). The riders are in there too, although they have traded in their horses for motorcycles, just as my modern Baba’s wooden house on chicken legs is now an Airstream trailer, and her mortar and pestle have been transformed into a classic BMW motorcycle. After all, even the most powerful of witches needs to keep up with the times.

My Baba Yaga may not be a goddess, but she is mightily magical, with strong connections to the elements. You definitely don’t want to get on her bad side. She might just let Chudo-Yudo eat you.

There is something to be said for taking ancient mythology and fashioning it into something modern that is easier for us to connect with—after all, isn’t that what many of us do with our spiritual paths, too?

For more information on the legends of Baba Yaga, you can look here:
For an interesting take on using Baba Yaga in a modern witchcraft practice, check out this great blog post by Gail Wood: http://rowdygoddess.com/2014/02/25/celebrating-the-hag-baba-yaga-the-hag-of-winter/ (and yes, she mentions my book—how cool is that?).

And if you are so inclined, you can find up what Baba Yaga has been up to lately, at least in one writer’s imagination. I hope you’ll be pleased when you finally meet her.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Supermoon Spell for Love


As you probably already know, the full moon this Sunday (August 10th) is going to be what they call a "Supermoon." A Supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the time in the moon's orbit when it is closest to the Earth. This makes for a full moon that looks larger than usual--and the one this coming Sunday is going to be that biggest Supermoon this year.

Beyond the fact that it will be pretty glorious to look upon, you might wonder if a Supermoon is more powerful for doing magical work than any old regular full moon. I'm going to go with: yes.

Think about how much energy a regular full moon has (I have a hard time sleeping for a few days around the full moon for this very reason), and then think about it being closer, and more visually and energetically present. In short, if it seems more powerful, it probably is.

What does this mean for those who practice the magical arts? It's a good time to pull out the spells that mean the most to you; the ones you really want to work. And since here in the Northern hemisphere it is the height of summer, with all its attendant heat and late nights, I thought I'd share a love spell for you to use this full moon, if you are feeling the need for a little more love in your life.

I'm not a big believer in using love spells, per se. I think it is too easy to interfere with someone's free will that way, and I'm definitely a "free will is the law" kind of witch. But this is a different kind of love spell. I first used it in The Goddess is in the Details, and I liked it so much, I put it into The Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook too. It's a spell not to cast on a particular person, or even with someone special in mind--instead, it works only on the one who casts it, because it is a spell to open yourself to love. (This doesn't have to be romantic love, either. It can be friendship, which in its truest form is most certainly a kind of love.)

So if you want something powerful to recite under an extra powerful moon, here it is, my gift to you. After all, couldn't the world use more love?

I ask the moon and stars above
To open my heart to perfect love
Striving not, nor chasing after
But open wide to love and laughter

Hopeful am I and willing, too
To open myself to lover’s woo
But while I wait for love that’s meant
With myself I’ll be content

I wish for love that’s true and right
Filled with joy and shining light
I release all that which blocks my way
And open my heart to one who’ll stay

I hope the moon brings you something (or someone) fabulous.

Feline Friday: The Busy Summer Version

Is it just me, or is this summer just whizzing by? Maybe it is because I am trying to juggle writing and book promo and household repairs and the Sekrit Project...or maybe the space-time continuum really is changing. You know, just at my house. What do you think? Is your summer whipping by at the speed of light?

Here's some of what's been going on this week, besides the (OMG!) release of the Wickedly Magical novella and accompanying celebration giveaway.

I got a new fridge, because the old one tried really hard to die on the Friday evening of the 4th of July 3-day weekend. Of course, I bought the new one on July 6th, they couldn't deliver it until this last Wednesday...and by the time I got the new one, the old one seemed to be working perfectly again. Sigh. I keep telling myself that if I hadn't bought the new one, the old one would have died for sure. Interestingly, I got exactly the same model, so it is almost as though nothing changed. Except this:

See how CLEAN and organized it is? That will never happen again. (If you look closely, you can see a bottle of champagne on the far right of the bottom shelf on the door. I'm opening it on September 2nd. Who's going to join me?)

Things are blooming like crazy in my yard and garden. No, I am not even remotely keeping up with it.

 The garden.
 Black-eyes Susans in the yard.
The perfect summer dinner: sauteed new potatoes and onions with homemade pesto (all out of my garden), corn, cukes, and tomatoes (a few of which were mine, although most of them are still green) and my own basil and parsley. Yum.

I've got a Guy, who is helping out with the yard and garden, and also staining the decks (I tried doing it myself last year, and my tendonitis was Not Happy). He explained to me this morning that when he was staining the side deck earlier this week while I was at work, he had to reach the top bits by standing in my wheelbarrow. (WTF?) It turned out he had a good reason not to use the ladder. (Don't worry; I showed him where the step stool lives.)

 Yes, some bird built a nest on top. Silly bird. (No, we didn't touch it.)

Of course, cats REALLY know how to spend the long summer days.

And relaxing, preferably in a patch of sun:
Mystic. No, the window isn't small. The cat is just very large.

Minerva, enjoying the patch of sun on the couch

Mystic and Magic, napping on the bed. More sun.

Magic wanted to know why I was disturbing her nap.

Of course, at night, they have to supervise my writing. It's not as though I could do it without them.

I hope your summer is going well, and that you are finding time to read and relax, with or without cats. Are you doing anything fun this summer? The cats wanted me to ask you. So, are you?