WIP Progress Meter

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

COVER REVEAL! Wickedly Spirited

I'm so excited! I can finally share the cover up the upcoming Baba Yaga novella, WICKEDLY SPIRITED! The novella will be out September 19th, and features Bella's protege Jazz, who we first met in Wickedly Powerful. I had so much fun writing this one, and I hope you enjoy reading it. (It's only available as an eBook because of its length, but on the bright side, it is only $1.99!) The novella is up for preorder now. Just sayin'.

And with no further ado, here is the cover! Look, Koshka the dragon disguised as a giant Norwegian Forest Cat is on it too.

If you need to catch up with the Baba Yaga series, now is your chance! I'll be putting up a giveaway in the next couple of days...I haven't decided exactly what is going to be in it, but there will definitely be a signed copy of Wickedly Powerful. So be sure to check back.

Here are some buy links for Wickedly Spirited:
Books a Million

So, what do you think of the cover?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Pond Rebuild Report

Every year I pick one or two projects to do around the house (and by "to do" I usually mean "pay someone else to do," although there are no end of things I do myself). This year it was the bedroom closet, which I posted about earlier, and the garden pond.

I actually built the pond myself, about 15 years ago when I first moved into the house. It was a pretty good job, if I say so myself, but it wasn't perfect, and man-made ponds don't last forever. It had already started going downhill in the last few years (the plastic liner was starting to crack, the water lilies had seriously taken over, and it was filled with sludge at the bottom) but last year's knee issue made it even harder to keep up with it, and pushed it passed the point of no return.

In theory, I could have rebuilt it myself, but A) the knee is still messed up, and not up to the task and B) OMG, those rocks are heavy! So I got a couple of stellar recommendations for a guy named Pat Ryan, a stone worker, and he spent five days taking the entire pond apart and putting it back together again. The end result was beyond my wildest dreams, and I consider it to be an investment in my mental health, because the sound of the waterfall is so lovely.

Here's a glimpse at the process.

This was what it looked like when we started. Not terrible, but clearly overgrown. That's Pat in the corner, planning what he's going to do.
What it looked like with the water and fish out. UGH.
 This was not a job for the weak of heart (or muscles). At this point, I was REALLY glad I'd decided to have someone else do it.

Emptying the last bits.

The few fish that were left were rescued and put into this big tub to wait for the pond to be done. The frogs evacuated on their own, and I'm still waiting for them to come back.

And so it begins.
 The old pond used a filter and fountain combo that sat inside the pond and were a pain to keep clean. Pat decided to build me a waterfall instead, to aerate the water better, with an external filter that will require a lot less maintenance.

Test fill to make sure it didn't leak.

Fountain in, plants back, almost done!

Pat was absolutely meticulous, even going so far as to build a surround to disguise the electrical post.

I treated myself to some new fish!

Here's the finished project. Isn't it amazing? I need to figure out how to upload a video, so you can hear the fountain. I love this so much. What do you think?

Ta da!!!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

What I'm Writing Now

Sorry I've been a little quiet here, but on top of trying to get the garden in, dealing with a sick cat, and another major project around the house (report coming soon), I have had a LOT of writing tasks on my plate.

To be honest, I do a lot better when I can focus on just one project--put my head down and write, write, write. But once you are published, especially if you are juggling more than one publisher, as I do with Berkley (the fiction) and Llewellyn (the nonfiction), it rarely works that way. I often have to jump from one project to another, which hopefully I'm getting better at, although it will never be my best thing.

So here's what I've been working on and what's on my plate for the next few months:
  • I just finished the first draft for VEILED MAGIC #3 and sent it off to my Berkley editor.
  • Started work on THE BOOK OF CAT MAGIC for Llewellyn, due Sept. 1st
  • Got revision notes from the independent editor I am using for the SEKRIT PROJECT (which doesn't have a deadline, since I am doing it myself, but I'd like to get it out soon)
  • Got the revision notes from my Berkley editor for the next Baba Yaga novella, WICKEDLY SPIRITED, which features Jazz (the teen from WICKEDLY POWERFUL). Those are due on the 6th--Tuesday--so I spent most of Saturday finishing them and sent them off.
  • Got the proof edits for A YEAR AND A DAY OF EVERYDAY WITCHCRAFT from my Llewellyn production editor, the lovely Rebecca Zins. They're not due until the end of the month, but I need to get them off my plate and out of the way, so I spent all weekend working on them and finished them Sunday  night.
    Proof revisions for A YEAR AND A DAY
  • I also need to write up a synopsis and the first three or four chapters of a new fiction project to show my agent, so we can be sure we're both on the same page with it. Pretty much yesterday.
  • Plus I need to come up with a few ideas to submit to the Llewellyn annuals editor for the Magical Almanac. Also yesterday.
Not on this list, but arriving at some point will be the revisions for the second Rider novel, copy edits for it and the novella, and proofs, ditto.

Plus writing cover copy for the Sekrit Project and organizing the cover, etc.

And somewhere in there, I should be making some more jewelry!!!! *falls over with a thud*

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Mystic the Cat Update

Some of you have been asking on Facebook how my cat Mystic is doing, so here is a quick update. The short answer is: Not great, but as well as can be expected. The long answer is as follows...

Basically, he's dying. Thankfully, he is--for the moment at least--doing it slowly and without a great deal of discomfort. In fact, he mostly seems pretty content.

Not feeling well is exhausting.
 He has lost a LOT of weight, though, which is never a good sign with a cat. He used to weigh over 18 lbs, back in the day, and for many years was stable at about 16.8 (after changing his food). At his checkup a couple of weeks ago, he weighed 12.7 lbs. That means he's lost about a quarter of his body weight. Not good. So a big part of the struggle these days is getting him to eat. While he still nibbles on his prescription dry food, mostly he is eating Friskies and Meow Mix wet food, which he thinks is grand. Although the cats as a whole get fed twice a day, he now gets lots of small meals in between.

If he is interested in eating, he gets food.
 He's on a number of meds, including prednisone, Miralax and a stool softener to deal with his chronic constipation, and an antacid (a liquid he hates) that he gets right before bed because his tummy gets upset when it gets too empty. The last couple of nights I've actually gotten up and fed him in the middle of the night, but I'm not sure how often that's going to happen. Yawn.

To be fair, ONE of these is Magic's Cosequin for her arthritis.
When we went to the vet in January, his blood tests showed the beginnings (just stage one, not even worth doing anything about) of kidney failure. The tests last time showed it was much more advanced, so he is now getting subq fluids at home every other day, or whenever I can get someone to come over and hold him. He may be down to 12.7 lbs, but all of it is stubborn muscle :-)

Essentially, what it comes down to is that his system is slowing down/breaking down. Some of this is the end stage of years of irritable bowel syndrome, and some of it, perhaps, is due to something we haven't found--my vet thinks it is possible that there is some sort of underlying cancer, like leukemia. To be honest, the cause doesn't matter, since all we can do is treat the symptoms and keep him as comfortable as possible.

It is, needless to say, heartbreaking to watch him go downhill. When we lost his mom last year, it was pretty drastic over the course of a couple of months. This is more of a downward slide, and as always, unless something truly drastic happens, the hard part will be figuring out when it is no longer fair to him to keep fighting. Until then, however, he is worth all the time and effort, and we will keep fighting the good fight until it isn't good anymore.

He may be 15 years old, but he is still my kitten.

Believe it or not, he wasn't more than a few months old in this picture. Look at the size of his paws!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring Tra La

One of the great things about my property is that when I moved in, a lot of my favorite flowers were already here, including a bunch of lilac bushes. Most of them bloomed this week, and I thought I'd share. Sorry you can't smell them!

I've also got all sorts of birds nesting in bird houses, and in one case, on top of a bird house (apparently it didn't like the house itself, go figure).

Plus I put in a new flowerbed where there used to be strawberries (they're in the main garden now). This year it has annuals in it, but I'm planning to plant some perennials for next year.

What are your favorite spring flowers?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Closet Construction Chaos

It has been a fun few days at Casa Deborah...

As some of you know, I live in an approximately 130 year old farmhouse. It's not large--only 1,200 square feet, and most of it has been added on to the original even smaller structure over the years. Usually by people whose ambitions clearly exceeded their skill sets. In short, there are lots of crooked walls, slanting floors, and odd bits and pieces.

Take my bedroom closet, for example. This is what it looked like Monday morning.

The outside
 It looks like a small closet, right? (And it is short, only about 68" high instead of the normal 80".) But in actuality, the closet runs the length of the wall to the left towards the dresser.

The inside
Of course, the problem was getting at anything shoved in that far side, since you kind of had to sidle in sideways and pray the giant spiders didn't get you. It was, in short, a pain in the patootie. The door was also sort of jury-rigged and only half attached. I put up with it for 15 years, since I moved in, and finally hit the wall this spring. Or maybe hit the closet. Anyway, I decided to have it redone. I also discovered that the overhead space was actually empty--a continuation of the cupboards on the bathroom wall on the other side, so I figured I'd get them cut out too, so I could actually access the whole space.

Easy, right? [Any of you who have ever had work done will be laughing at this point.]

So the Guys Who Do Stuff came in and did the work yesterday, and it was sort of right, with a lot of not so right mixed in. (Also, the cats were very indignant about having to be locked in the upstairs room so they wouldn't accidentally get out while the Guys were running in and out.)

This is what it looked like when I got home yesterday.

Two of the three Guys Who Do Stuff

The mess, to be expected
 Even Magic, when she got to come take a look at the "finished" project, was not impressed.

That's not right.

The doors didn't line up

Seriously? WTF is this?

Nails coming through on the inside of the door for me to get snagged on
I'm a pretty easy going person, in general (stop laughing, people who know me) but if I pay for a job, I expect it to be done right. Also, HELL NO.

So the Guys came back today and fixed it. It's not perfect, but that's at least in part because nothing in my house is straight, including the walls, ceiling, and floor in that room. But it is a lot better.

Much, much better!
 I still have to paint it (or maybe stain it, I haven't decided). Probably paint. But now I can actually access the whole closet, so I get to reorganize All the Things, and hopefully move some stuff from other closets into this one. I'll probably get a few organizer thingies to help with that. I love organizing messy things and making them neat. Even though I know it won't stay that way. I call it my "Organizational Neurosis." LOL.

Look, I can get to the whole closet now!!! (Don't look at how ugly it is in there. There are limits to what I can fix.)

Of course, now I have to take the original contents of the closet and put them back in. I'm pretty sure I have too many clothes. My plan is to look at each one as I get ready to put it back, and hope that about 20% of them will go to the Salvation Army. Do I really need 8 black sweaters? (The answer to that, of course, is YES. They're all different!)

I have too many clothes.
 Still, at least one of the things that has been bugging me since I moved in is finally fixed. Only 527 left to go...

What construction project have you ever lived through? Did they go well? Or did you want to kill the Guys and bury them in the back yard?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Birthday Bonanza Giveaway

My birthday is this week--Friday the 28th. I'm kind of in a funk, so not feeling terribly celebratory (nothing terrible, just life and stuff). It's my 57th (eek!) so not really a big deal. Other than a traditional lunch with a couple of friends, one of whom has a birthday on May 2nd so we always do a group thing, I'm not really observing it at all.

Which seemed kind of sad, so I decided to celebrate with all of you the same way I did last year: by giving away a gift to someone else!

Some people have asked me what I'd like as a gift. Pretty much what any author would like for his or her birthday, probably. Buy a book, or put up a nice review, or spread the word about a book you read that you liked. I admit, I'd love to see a spike in my book sales on my birthday :-) [Plus Berkley is about to make a decision on whether or not to contract for the 3rd Rider book, and it may not be going well, so a jump in book sales would be helpful.]

But it doesn't have to be my books. Buy any book by an author you like, even if it is just a .99 cent Kindle eBook. All book sales are a good thing. Review anyone's book; it doesn't have to be mine. Positive reviews help authors sell books, and as I might have mentioned, book sales are a good thing. (What can I say--I have a lot of friends who are authors too!) Or just tell someone about a book you read recently that you loved. Be pro-book, mine or anyone else's. Heck, go support your local library. That's what I want for my birthday. (Although cute cats and dragons are always on my list too...)

In the meanwhile, here's what I'm giving YOU for my birthday. A chance at one of three prize packs--winner's choice. With the help of Magic the Cat, I give you:

The Tarot Package
 A signed tarot deck with a limited edition tin, plus a broom pen.

The Signed Book Package
 A set of all three Baba Yaga books and the first Broken Riders book, all signed by me.

The Dragon Package
A cute stuffed dragon, a broom pen, and the signed book of your choice, fiction or nonfiction.

And really, you don't have to buy one of my books to help me celebrate, although you know I'd love that. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. As always, no purchase is necessary to enter, and you can get credit for things you have already done, like following the blog or following me on Twitter. Spread the word, since it's a party! I'm looking forward to spending the next year with all of you.

a Rafflecopter giveaway