WIP Progress Meter

Monday, January 28, 2019

Cover Reveal! Everyday Witch Oracle Deck


As many of you know, illustrator Elisabeth Alba and I have been working on The Everyday Witch Oracle Deck, which will be out on September 8th from Llewellyn. We had such a blast working on the Everyday Witch Tarot (which, incidentally, I just saw was on sale on Amazon for only $19.82 instead of its usual list price of $29.99) that we just had to find another project to work on together. If anything, this one was even more fun!

One of the best parts is being able to do the cover reveal. Llewellyn picked two cards that were both of our favorites, so we're especially excited. So with no further ado...

The kit cover:


The book cover:


And here is a picture of the back of the cards. Four cats, each representing one of the four elements. Which one is your favorite?


 And as a bonus, a picture of Elisabeth with all forty finished original paintings!
(If you look closely at her, you will see that she is busy creating something else...a little human being. Whoo hoo!)


We are both so proud of this deck, and we can't wait for it to come out. We hope you'll all love it too. What do you think of the covers?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bittersweet Anniversaries

Today is a strange kind of day. (Okay, around my house most days are strange, but you know what I mean.)

It is the one year anniversary of losing my beloved Mystic, only eight days after losing his sister. He was a gentle giant, my big Pooh Bear, and I still miss his weight at the end of the bed.


But it is also the anniversary of the day I brought home Harry Dresden (the cat, not the wizard...we're not going to talk about THAT day). I had already found Harry--then named Ocean, which I thought was a sign, since I love the ocean--and was just waiting to bring him home until Magic and Mystic were gone. They needed and deserved all my attention there at the end.

After I got home from the vet, it was just brutal walking into a house with only one cat in it, after having had five for so long. So I called up Harry's foster and said, "PLEASE can I come get him this afternoon?" and she was happy to let me do so. Blessings on all those who foster animals. Having him there (the other two weren't going to be able to join us for three weeks, while we were waiting for Ember to be spayed by the rescue I was getting them from) was all that got me through that first couple of really tough weeks, since Angus isn't much of a snuggler.

So thanks for coming to live with me, Harry Dresden. I'm awfully happy you did.

I looked terrible, because I'd been crying for days, but look how cute he was.

The first time I went to see him, he crawled into my coat. I guess he wanted to go home with me!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Starting the New Year Off Right (Calendar Giveaway)


I don't know about you, but I'm already behind on 2019...

Which is why this calendar giveaway is going up today, instead of on the 1st of the month. Snort.

One of the things I like about starting a new year is picking out new calendars. I usually get some kind of cat calendars for my main one (all the birthdays, important appointments and convention dates, etc.) and for the small calendar that goes on the wall by my desk. This year it was a black cat calendar, just because, and cute kittens for the small one. I also get the Llewellyn Witches Calendar every year, to keep track of magical things, and whichever almanacs I happen to have articles in, because they send each contributor two free copies. (The spare copy of each one is usually given to a friend as a Yule gift.)

This year I spotted something fun on one of my friend's pages on Facebook and couldn't resist ordering myself one. It is a calendar with hunky Australian firefighters with cute animals. Hey, it's for charity! (Don't judge me.) In fact, it was so cool, I got an extra one, figuring I could give it away. I also have one copy of the 2019 Llewellyn Magical Almanac (with my article on Magic and Cats). So, ta da, GIVEAWAY TIME!

(I love that the colors on the covers just happen to match. It's like I was MEANT to give them both away.)
I'm trying to build my newsletter list, in part because my new publisher, St. Martin's Press, asked me how many people were signed up for it, and I'd kind of like to impress them. It only goes out about four or five times a year, usually with important announcements, and I would never sell or give away anyone's information. So please sign up, okay? Pretty please? You can either use this LINK 
or you can fill in the form at the top left of this blog. Then use the Rafflecopter form to say you did it. Ta da! (Note: If you already get my newsletter, that counts too.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Besides getting new calendars, I'm also trying another cool thing I found on Facebook (YES, I spend too much time on Facebook). This is a simple way to focus on the positive in your life, which after last year I really needed. Plus simple, which is about all I can handle. Just take a jar and a bunch of pieces of paper, as colorful as you want to make them. Then every week, write down something good that happened, or something that made you happy, and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, pull out all the slips and read them, to remind yourself of how much good there is in your life.


Pal Ellen and I started our jars on New Year's Day (the slip of paper already in there says, "Spent New Year's Day with Ellen--Chinese food, Doctor Who, and Scrabble") but everyone in Blue Moon Circle is going to do one. We're hoping to get together for a girl's night in sometime in January to decorate the jars. If not, we'll probably do it as part of our Imbolc ritual.

One last things I'm doing to get the new year started off right is to do something a little different over at my Patreon. The folks who follow me there at the $25 level have as one of their rewards the chance to attend my monthly live online classes, or watch a recording of them later if they can't make it to the live one. I usually do a witchcraft class and/or ritual, but sometimes I talk about writing, or just do an open chat. They're a lot of fun. So this month I'm going to throw it open to everyone, even if they aren't one of my patrons. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to do it on Monday the 21st for the full moon and lunar eclipse, or on Tuesday the 22nd for just a general chat. If you have a preference, say so in the comments! And be sure to check out my PATREON PAGE to find out when the open class is going to take place. I'd love to have you join me!

Tell me, what are you doing to start your 2019 off right?


Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Year Without Magic


No, the title of the post doesn't mean I didn't practice magic at all this year, although I did a lot less than usual, to be honest. Today marks the one year anniversary of the day I lost my beloved Magic the Cat, Queen of the Universe. (And then her brother, the gentle giant Mystic, eight days later on the day after their 16th birthdays.) It has been a tough year in many ways, but probably the toughest was that she wasn't here to comfort me when things were bad.

Mystic and Magic as kittens, soon after they came home with me
 I have been fortunate to have many wonderful cats in my life, but the relationship I had with Magic was unlike any I've ever had before. I doubt I'll find it again, although one can always hope.

They got bigger. Especially Mystic.

She was my nearly constant companion--sleeping by my head at night (and nap time),  and was the only true familiar I have ever had. She came to every ritual we did inside.

She looked like a completely black cat, but in the sun you could see she had darker stripes and a gray undercoat. She was so beautiful.

She also supervised my writing, sitting next to me at the computer with her head on the edge of the keyboard (or right in front of the screen, as you can see here), and sitting either next to me or behind my head on the couch when I used the laptop. I haven't written as much or as well since I lost her.


I got the kittens along with their mother Minerva, who I lost the year before, from a local shelter. I went in for one gray kitten, but Magic insisted on coming home with me (and the shelter folks begged me to take Minerva, who was terrified and sickly and completely unadoptable, but loved her kittens more than any mother cat I've ever known). She bossed me around then, and for almost another sixteen years.

The whole family
 As a kitten, she used to leap from the floor to my shoulders (especially so she could supervise me in the kitchen) and continued to do so as an adult until the last few years of her life when arthritis made it impossible.


She was as magical as her name, and I have missed her every day of the past year. The new cats, and 13 year old Angus, are great. But she left a void no other cat can fill. I expect to continue missing her (and her brother) in every day of the year to come, another year without Magic.

Miss you, baby.
 (I should add, lest this seem too sad, that I am beyond grateful that I had them at all, and that I got almost 16 years with them. It was one of the greatest gifts of my life. I can still feel her presence very strongly, mostly in bed at night, which is the only place I also sense Mystic, and sitting behind me on the couch. No doubt she is still supervising me. I'm grateful for that too.)


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Updates, Thank You, and an End of Year Blow-Out Giveaway


Well, it has been a hell of a year, hasn't it?

Raise your hand if you're glad it's almost over...

I won't kid you--this was a tough one for me. I lost Magic the Cat and her brother Mystic in early January, then my friend (and stepdaughter's mom) Jo in February, my friend Bethany in October, and one of my favorite artists, Gail, last month. And a friend lost his 10 year old son. Plus I had some unexpected health issues, and frustrations with my writing career, and you know, stuff.

But don't get me wrong. There were a lot of good things too. Time spent with family and friends, including a fun trip to Coastal Magic in February and to Stuart, Florida in September to hang out with my friend Terry (and do research for a book). And I got three new kitties!

On the writing front, I've had a blast working on the upcoming Everyday Witch Oracle Card deck with illustrator Elisabeth Alba, and of course, just signed a contract with St. Martin's Press for a goddess empowerment book for women that I will be starting work on in the new year. I'm hoping to write and self-publish another Baba Yaga book in 2019, too.

I am blessed with great friends, and readers who support me here, and on Facebook and Twitter, and over on my PATREON. I can't even begin to express my gratitude to you all. Authors are nothing without their readers. (Speaking of which, if you've read one of my books this year and liked it, I would be REALLY GRATEFUL if you could zip over to Amazon, Goodreads, or B&N and leave a brief review. Especially for the Little Book of Cat Magic, which only ended up with nine sad little reviews, probably because of the mess that occurred when it came out in October, and for Dangerously Driven, my most recent Riders novella. Pretty please? Thanks in advance!)

As a thank you, I'm going to do one more big blow-out giveaway to end 2018 on a positive note! There are going to be not one, not two, but FIVE prizes, so more people will have a chance to win. Check out this pile of goodies.

All the prizes!
The grand prize is a Fire Tablet! (You know, so you have something to read my books on...). There is also a $10 Amazon gift card (so you can buy more books), and signed copies of A Year and a Day of Everyday Witchcraft (to start your year off right), Circle, Coven & Grove (my first book), and Reinventing Ruby (my contemporary foodie romance). Plus some fun bookmarks and things.

But wait, you might say, two of those covers look different! Good eye. Thanks to my assistant Sierra, we've finally got Circle, Coven & Grove out in PRINT (I got my rights back from Llewellyn when it went out of print, but we hadn't gotten around to putting out a print version with the new cover by Mickie Mueller until now), and changed the cover of REINVENTING RUBY to something we thought better reflected it's romance themes. Don't they look great?


Ta da!

What do you think?

Tell me what the best part of 2018 was for you--and I hope to see you in 2019. Thanks again!

(To enter, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, December 17, 2018

Lucienne Diver Talks Revision Hell

Some of you already know my friend Lucienne Diver, who is both an author and one of the agents at The Knight Agency. Needless to say, she's a very busy woman, but she was kind enough to come share her experiences with revisions, and give you a sneak peek at her new book, THE COUNTDOWN CLUB. (Hint: It sounds amazing.) Be sure to let us know what you think (either about revision, or the book, or both) in the comments! Lucienne will be giving away a copy of the book to TWO lucky commenters.

Take it away, Lucienne!



My Prolonged Process

So, the demented little DJ in my head wants to rewrite songs from musicals today rather than be productive. For example, “How Do you Solve a Problem Like Maria?” from The Sound of Music:

“How do you solve a problem in revisions?
How do you catch a flaw and pin it down?”

It’s a curse. If only I could rewrite books with the ease of lyrics. Unfortunately, I have a horrible love/hate relationship with revisions. I adore first drafts – writing practically stream of consciousness, having a plan, but not knowing exactly how I’m going to execute it. You see, I was an inveterate pantser (a writer who flies by the seat of her pants, winging it) until I started writing mystery/suspense…and then my wings needed a lot more bolstering to get me off the ground. With my first YA suspense, FAULTLINES, I created a murder board, just like you see in all of those television showsThe Closer, Major Crimes, Without a Trace, Castle, and I’m sure a million more. It had the suspects, clues as to motive, means and opportunity, timelines, connections and all that jazz. It still didn’t quite tell me how I was going to weave these into the storyline. For that I drafted. And redrafted. And drafted again. I wish I could say that I learned from the experience and that my novels are now tightly plotted and then swiftly and seamlessly executed, but that would be a lie.

I maybe can get away with calling myself a plotser now (half plotter, half pantser), but that might be overselling things. What I am is willing to make mistakes and go over and over and over and over my work ad infinitum until it’s really there. Or at least, so I think. When I turn my novel over to my critique partner or readers, it’s absolutely as good as I can get it at that moment. I’m proud of the bright, shiny work I’ve done. Otherwise, I’d never let anyone see it.
And then they burst my bubble. 

All for the best. They make me work. Spot flaws I secretly suspected were there but was hoping no one would notice. Suggest fixes or improvements I never even considered. Or in some cases, cheer me on and give me the confidence to keep going. They make me better.
I make all the improvements, embarrassed that anyone ever saw the manuscript in the condition it was in, but I soldier on. I whip it into shape, and send it off to my agent, cross my fingers and toes and hope she’ll get back to me before I lose all circulation in them.
And receive another set of notes. 

Then, after those are handled and the manuscript is absolutely amazing, it goes out on submission…and perhaps there will be further suggestions, like a revise and resubmit from an editor. Or perhaps someone loves it and buys it and gives it a good home. But, of course, there will be more edits—content edits, line edits, copyedits.

So what am I saying here? That I’m a slow learner? That it takes a village? Well, no, and yes. This is just my process, and I’m willing to put in the work, as aggravating as it sometimes is, making every draft better and better until I hit best. (Always with the realization that I could tinker until I die and still never reach perfection.)

I guess this has been on my mind a lot lately, because, as some of you may know, I’m an agent as well as a writer, and I represent over forty authors, which means I’m always offering critiques, making suggestions, driving my authors—hopefully to greater heights rather than to madness, but I understand that it can be a fine line! But I understand their pain first hand. And shared pain is supposed to be lessened, right?
Right?
______________________________________

The latest product of Lucienne’s blood, sweat, and tears, THE COUNTDOWN CLUB, is available now! (Barnes & Noble, Amazon)

About the Book:
“Mysterious and cleverly plotted, The Countdown Club is a must read for fans of One of us is Lying.” ⸻Amy Christine Parker, Author of Gated, Astray, and Smash and Grab

Making her way through high school in her art geek bubble, Rayna Butler is used to being largely ignored by her classmates. Sure, she marches to her own beat—her Kool-Aid dyed hair and her edgy paintings make that perfectly clear. So when she arrives at school one normal Monday morning and finds a handwritten note in her backpack that reads “Six days to die,” she’s sure that it’s just a friend playing a prank on her.

Jack Harkness is one of the toughest guys in school, a loner hiding his painful home life. When he also receives one of the threatening notes, he doesn’t take it for anything he can’t handle.

Rayna and Jack soon discover that even more students have received threatening notes, although each has a different expiration date. “Six days to die”. . . “Two days to die”. . . “Twelve days to die”. . . there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. And none of the kids appear to have anything in common.

The students take the threats with varying degrees of seriousness . . . until the first murder. Class salutatorian Liam is the first to go, when his house mysteriously burns down around him and his mother as well. Certain that their days are numbered, Rayna and Jack convince the others to join together to track
down the killer before their time is up.

About the Author:

Lucienne Diver spends her days agenting and plotting murder. Luckily, she limits the actual execution to fictional characters…so far as you know. She’s the author of the popular Vamped series of young adult novels (think Clueless meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the Latter-Day Olympians contemporary fantasy series of myth, magic and mayhem, and young adult suspense, including FAULTLINES, also from Bella Rosa Books.  Her short stories have been included in the STRIP-MAULED and FANGS FOR THE MAMMARIES anthologies edited by Esther Friesner for Baen Books, KICKING IT edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price for Ace, and TRIBULATIONS, a Rogue Mage anthology, edited by Faith Hunter for Lore Seekers Press.

She lives in Florida with her husband and daughter, the two sweetest pups in the world, and an overflowing library under the mistaken impression that death is not allowed to take her until she has read ALL THE BOOKS.

More information is available on her website, www.luciennediver.com.

Lucienne and friend


Friday, December 14, 2018

Big News Announcement and Holiday Greetings



I know I have been a little scarce lately, but things have been crazy this year. Crazier, I should say. And December is always something of a wild ride, between running The Artisans’ Guild (50 artists, retail in December, ‘nuff said), making jewelry, and all the regular holiday stuff. Plus upstate NY winter and sick cats. But I’m going to try and catch up on all the news, starting with the big announcement I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks.

NEW BOOK CONTRACT!

In Friday’s Publishers Marketplace, there will be this announcement:
Non-fiction: Religion/Spirituality

Deborah Blake's A MODERN WITCHCRAFT PRIMER: GODDESS EMPOWERMENT FOR THE KICK-ASS WOMAN, a comprehensive guidebook to witchcraft as a female-focused religion, including detailed instructions on how to practice self-care in today's society through goddess worship and magic, to Daniela Rapp at St Martin's Essentials, in a nice deal, by Elaine Spencer at The Knight Agency.

That’s right; I signed a contract for my first mainstream nonfiction book, with St. Martin’s Press. This is really exciting for a couple of reasons. It will allow me to reach an entirely new audience, and hopefully help a lot of women who are trying to find ways to feel more empowered in an increasingly overwhelming world. Don’t worry, though—this doesn’t mean there will never be another Llewellyn book. This is simply a fork in the road, not an entirely new path. Still, it is VERY cool, and of course, I’ll be celebrating with a giveaway! 

Celebration Giveaway!
 Check it out: A Fire tablet, a signed copy of The Little Book of Cat Magic, a broom pen, a regular pen, a stuffed dragon, a black cat bookmark, and an assortment of other bookmarks!

We’re also shopping a contemporary women’s fiction book, and I’m working on the next book in the Baba Yaga series, which I hope to self-publish in the new year, other contracts allowing.

For those of you who are still holiday shopping for Yule and/or Christmas, I’ve got a bunch of fun things up on my (mostly moribund for the last few years) Etsy shop. There’s some jewelry (Pagan and otherwise), some signed books and tarot decks (usually with other goodies), and due to numerous requests, I’ve also created some spell kits for Opening to Love, Protection and Strength, Healing and Peace, and Prosperity. The kits are available in either lovely carved wood boxes or pretty organza bags, with or without signed books. You can check it out here:
Keep in mind that we’re getting close to the holidays, and even with priority mail, I’ll need a few days to get things to you. So if there is something that strikes your fancy, order it soon.


 

 What the spell kits look like.

I’ll be doing an end-of-year wrap-up in a couple of weeks, but in the meanwhile, I wish you all a Blessed Yule, a Merry Christmas (a belated Happy Hanukkah) and all the joy in the world.

And now to the giveaway! As usual, all you have to do to enter is fill in the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Maybe you'll end up with an extra gift for yourself this holiday season.

 
 

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