WIP Progress Meter

Friday, April 17, 2015

Midsummer Sabbats Book Giveaway

Llewellyn has a new series out, covering all eight Sabbats (Pagan holidays) including Ostara/Spring Equinox and Beltane, already out, and Midsummer/Summer Solstice, coming in a couple of weeks. The rest of the books will be out before the end of the year. The series was written by different authors, and Midsummer is the one I did. I just got a couple of advance copies, so as always, I will be giving one away!

Here is the blurb for the series:
Llewellyn's New Sabbat Essentials Series
With rituals, recipes, lore, spells, crafts, correspondences, and more, the books in the new Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series explore the old and new ways of celebrating the seasonal rites that are the cornerstones in the witch’s year.
I had a lot of fun writing this one and can't wait to collect them all. Can you believe this is my nineth book for Llewellyn? *faints*

Obviously, Magic the Cat approves...

Llewellyn was kind enough to send me a few cover flats too, suitable for framing. I'm going to pick two winners, and they will have their choice of a book or a cover flat. (This is for the folks who have already ordered the book, although this one makes a nice gift, too.)

If you want to take a more detailed look or order the book, you can check it out here on Amazon or here at Llewellyn.com

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here (tell me which your favorite Sabbat is, if you celebrate them, or what your favorite thing about summer is) and/or post on Twitter or visit (and hopefully "like" and "get notifications") my Deborah Blake author page on Facebook. Easy peasy!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

A Spring Prosperity Spell

Snowdrops in my yard

Spring is the perfect time to do prosperity work for the rest of the year. Nature is beginning to grow and burst into bloom, at least in most places, and we can use that energy to work towards positive increase in our own lives.

Keep in mind that prosperity doesn’t just mean having cash money in your hands (although that’s not a bad thing). If you ask for prosperity with an open mind, it may manifest in unexpected ways: a gift or aid from someone else, an unforeseen opportunity, or a situation that looks grim that turns out to be less so than expected.

For instance, I recently got a flat tire. While I was waiting for AAA to come and put on the spare, I asked the goddess to make the situation turn out as well as possible. You’ll note I didn’t specify “please don’t make this cost me any money.” There was a giant bolt in the side of the tire; even the goddess couldn’t fix that. But when I got to the place where I’d bought the tires, it turned out that there was enough tread on all the other tires that I only had to buy one, instead of two. And it also turned out that there was a road hazard warranty I didn’t remember, so the replacement tire only cost me $64 instead of $112. So in this particular case, prosperity meant that I was only out a little bit of money instead of the larger amount it could have been.

As another example, I was expecting a check from one of my publishers (an advance for the books I just sold, not huge, but enough to make a difference) and found out it was going to be delayed, possibly for months. My finances are precarious enough that this could have been something of a disaster, at least temporarily. Then I got word that I was getting an unexpected payment for books that had sold better than I’d thought. Again, not a huge amount of money, but enough to carry me through until the other check finally shows up. Ta da! A gift from the gods!

In this case, my own hard work was paying off in unanticipated prosperity. That’s an important thing to keep in mind, since Witchcraft isn’t just about “wishing” for something better, but also doing the practical work that will enable it to manifest when the time is right.

Now that spring is here, be sure to start planting the seeds for your own prosperity in actions and intentions. And while you’re at it, you may want to say this spell, just in case you need a little extra help.

Note: You may want to put a vase full of lush flowers in full bloom on your altar as an offering, and/or place a coin in front of you to represent the prosperity you ask for. If you are using a candle, green is a good color for this. For an added boost, try doing the spell on the night of the full moon. If you are at all concerned about your prosperity coming at a cost to others, you can always add “For the good of all and according to the free will of all,” at the end of any spell.

God and Goddess, hear my plea
Bring abundance now to me
Let the blessings overflow
And good things come to all I know
Send me that which I desire
Help me lift myself up higher
Steer my path so I might gain
And true abundance now attain*

*Originally published in Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook: Wonderfully Witchy Blessings, Charms & Spells (Llewellyn, 2010)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Owning Your Success

It occurred to me recently that I've had the same basic conversation a number of times over the last few months. Maybe even years. It goes something like this:
Other person -- "I'm impressed by how well your books are doing. Congratulations, you're a success!"
Me -- "Uh, no, not really. I mean, I'm doing okay, but I wouldn't call myself a success."
When I had this conversation with my mother recently, she scolded me. "Of course you are," she said. And you know what, she was right. (Duh, she's my mother. Of course she was.)

After all, I've published nine books with Llewellyn and I'm working on a great tarot project with them that will be out next year. (If you're thinking you missed a Llewellyn book, #9 is the Midsummer book in the Sabbats series, and it will be out soon.) My Baba Yaga series with Berkley seems to be doing well. I just found out that I've earned through the advance for the first book (which is a good sign) and both the novels seem to be doing reasonably well as far as I can tell. The most obvious sign of success is probably the new book deal with Berkley for three more books and a novella in the series, as well as an eBook version of the first book in a new series. But I was also on the front cover of Witches & Pagans Magazine recently, which was pretty damned cool.

So that brings us to the question of why it is so hard for me to own my success. I know it isn't just me, either, which is why I'm bothering to talk about it here. Many of the writers I know are quick to downplay their success, no matter where they fall on the spectrum of number of books published or awards won. But this issue isn't limited to authors. How many of us have a hard time accepting a compliment or admitting to success in one form or another? Quite a few, I suspect. Maybe almost all of us.

There are probably a number of reasons for this and they are likely to vary from person to person and situation to situation. Culturally, we are taught that bragging is bad. Saying, "Yes, I'm successful," can feel a little bit like bragging. Maybe we're afraid to jinx things. If we admit to success, the universe might punish us by coming to take it away again.

For those of us who had critical parents or partners who put us down for year after year, it can be hard to see ourselves as successes no matter how well we are doing. It just doesn't feel like it could be true, no matter how much evidence there may be to prove it. After all, if you know you are just not good enough, how can what you do--whatever it is--be successful?

Then there is "imposter syndrome." This one is so common among authors, you'd be amazed to find out who suffers from it. Imposter syndrome is that horrible suspicion in the back of your mind that no matter how successful you are, any minute now people will figure out that you are an imposter (you can't write, your art is actually dreck, your achievements at work were all flukes) and they will make you leave the room with your tail dragging as they all laugh and point. If you say you are a success, then later when everyone figures out you actually suck, it will feel all that much worse.

And of course, success is a moving target. What seemed like success at one point (getting an agent, selling that first book, getting one positive review, earning a certain amount of money, getting a raise or a new position at work, achieving a goal) doesn't seem all that impressive once you've done it. Most of us keep adding new goals--and that's a good thing, since positive forward movement is part of what helps us to grow as human beings. But if we are too focused on the next achievement, moving the bar always higher, the things we've already achieved may no longer seem like success, just the steps on the way to the next goal.

I think all of these things are part of why it was so hard for me to say, "Why thank you, yes I am a success." I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, and frankly, it all seems kind of impossible, like maybe it is happening to someone else and any second now it will all be snatched away again and someone will say "Whoops, just kidding!".

And, of course, if you are a success, then there is the expectation that you will continue to succeed, always doing as well if not better at your chosen path than you have done already. No pressure, right? Yikes! This is especially true for authors, who are expected to make each book better than the one before. Oy. Who the heck can live up to that?

But here's the other side of the coin. I worked REALLY hard to get to this place. Wrote all the books, including a number that never saw the light of day (and yet still took months to write). Pursued agents until I finally got one. Honed my craft with practice, practice, practice. Learned to roll with the blows from repeated rejections, bad reviews, and years of waiting for someone to say yes instead of no. Spent virtually all my free time for the last nine years working towards this point in my life.

So what does it mean if I finally achieve at least some measure of success and then deny it? Doesn't that belittle all that hard work? At what point is it okay to finally say, "I am good at what I do. There is a lot for me to be proud of"?

I'm calling that point today. And not just for me. Do you do something well? Are you good at your job, a hobby or craft, caring for your family, surviving in the face of life's difficulties? If so, you're a success. You may or may not have money or fame, but success means a lot of different things to all of us. I'm willing to bet that you're a success at something...probably a bunch of things. We can probably all come up with a long list of the things we're not good at or haven't achieved, but just for today, let's own our success.

I will if you will.

So, I am a success at writing. I am good at my job running The Artisans' Guild. I take good care of my cats. I keep my house from falling down around my ears, despite its best efforts. (Snort.) And the bad review of Wickedly Dangerous I read earlier today hardly made me twitch at all.

What are you a success at? Come on, tell me. I want to know. Own your success--you earned it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tarot Deck Progress Report Part Two


Deborah: As most of you know, I have been working on a great tarot project for Llewellyn with illustrator Elisabeth Alba. We thought it would be fun to make some blog posts dedicated to the process, showing how I begin by writing a description, to Elisabeth's final painted result. Last time we did the Six of Swords (http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2015/02/tarot-deck-progress-report-and-giveaway.html). Today, we're looking at the King of Pentacles.

The description for this one was:

Picture: An older sage with gray-streaked dark hair sits on a throne-like chair outside; he looks powerful and strong. Behind him in the distance, you can see a prosperous looking manor house. To his left stands a bull wearing a garland of flowers, and to his right, a white hound reclines at his feet with a large bone. He is holding a chocolate cake with a pentacle on top in one hand, in the other hand is a goblet filled with wine. Grape vines are growing up his chair. He wears a green cloak over brown tunic and pants that are decorated with green ferns or leaves and a simple circlet crown with a pentacle in the front. The mood is one of strength and prosperity.

Deborah: I send the description to Elisabeth, and then she starts the magic of transforming my words into art!

Elisabeth: I usually begin with very rough small pencil sketches, trying to work out the overall composition.

Elisabeth: I scanned those, and place the sketch I like best into the card template. I then digitally create a better, more detailed sketch! I send this to Deborah; the art director, Lynne Menturweck; and the acquisitions editor, Barbara Moore. This one didn't require any revisions! Sometimes they do.

Elisabeth: Once the sketch is approved, it's time to take photo reference. My husband Scott (he's also an illustrator) posed as the King of Pentacles.

Deborah: Scott is so cute! I love the way Elisabeth uses him (and sometimes herself) to create poses for the cards.

I work on the finished drawing using my reference. In the background, the manor house had to look like the one included in the Knight and 10 of Pentacles cards, so I had to design a house and make sure it looked like the same house in each! Here is the finished drawing and a digitally colored version. I like to figure out how I'm going to color and shade it before painting it.

Once again, I make sure to get approval on the drawing before I paint it. I print the drawing lightly on watercolor paper and ink it with a dip pen. I watered down the ink a bit so that the background line work would be grey and more atmospheric. Then I start painting, using my digital color version as a guide!

More painting progress...

Once it's painted I scan it, color correct it, do any minor digital touch-ups, and send it off for approval. Here's the final result!

Here is the Rider-Waite version, for comparison:

The process all in one!

Here is the text that will go along with the card in the book, written by Deborah:

“The world is your oyster. Or possibly, your chocolate cake.”
Work hard, do good for others, and all will be well.

The King of Pentacles represents prosperity and abundance, but more than that, his strength comes from being strongly rooted in his own success and the success of those around him. The King can represent your own financial situation or he can indicate a strong male figure who is willing to help you achieve prosperity and security, whether on the job or at home.

Things to consider: The Kings are all strong male figures, but that doesn’t mean that a King card can’t represent a woman, although it is less common. If this card falls at a place in the reading where it stands for you, it indicates that your focus is on success and money. This isn’t a bad thing, but be careful not to let your desire for security or nice belongings sweep you away. If there is a King figure in your life—husband, father, boss—are you taking full advantage of the gifts he is offering you? And is what he offers truly what you want?

Deborah: Well? What do you all think? Are you enjoying seeing our progress? Do you like the cards? If you use tarot, do you think you would find these useful? Inquiring minds want to know.

(And don't forget to enter the current giveaway for a print copy of Circle, Coven & Grove plus a great candle sconce by Mickie Mueller! It's still on for a couple of days. http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2015/03/circle-coven-grove-giveaway-anniversary.html

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Circle, Coven & Grove Giveaway, Anniversary and Announcement!

I was on Amazon the other day, checking on something else, and I was astonished to discover that today is the one year anniversary of my rerelease of my first book Circle, Coven & Grove as an eBook. How time flies!

As some of you might know, CC&G was my first book with Llewellyn, so of course it holds a special place in my heart. They stopped printing it a couple of years ago (the only one of my books to go out of print) and so I put the book out myself with a fabulous new cover by Mickie Mueller.

Here is the new cover:

And here is the original print cover.

I want to thank everyone who was so supportive of this little book--you guys really amazed me! Plus I have good news! I've been talking to the publisher at Llewellyn (the fabulous Bill, who I got to hang out with at Pantheacon in February) and it looks as though they are going to put Circle, Coven & Grove BACK OUT IN PRINT! Yayayayay!

We're still ironing out the last few details, so I can't promise anything and I don't know when it will happen, but it looks pretty likely.

So to celebrate the anniversary of the new ebook edition (which will still be available) and the probable rerelease of the book in print, I'm having a fun giveaway for the next couple of days.

I'll be giving away one of my treasured print copies of the book (signed, of course) and Mickie has very generously included a very cool candle sconce from her Etsy collection. Check it out!

And tune in tomorrow, because Elisabeth Alba and I will be posting another report on the Tarot Project!

(Sorry, but this giveaway is for USA only, since these items are heavy to mail. But as usual, if an out-of-country winner is chosen, I'll send them something else cool but lighter weight.)

So, do you have a copy of Circle, Coven & Grove? If so, do you have the ebook or the print one?

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Everyday Witchcraft Celebration Giveaway!

I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately (see previous post for explanation). But I'm going to make it up to you by doing another big giveaway! Do you forgive me now? I thought you would.

In fact, I'm going to do two giveaways in a row, so be sure to check back at the end of the month to see what the second one is. (I have a surprise for you. No, I won't tell you what it is. That would ruin the surprise!)

This is a celebration giveaway, because I'm happy to say that it looks like my new Llewellyn Worldwide book,  Everyday Witchcraft: Making Time for Spirit in a Too-Busy World  is doing quite well, even though it was released almost a month ago.

Can I get a huzzah?

 In fact, here is what I saw when I looked on Amazon yesterday:

That's right--that says #1 New release!

At the bottom of the page, it looked like this:

Insert more "huzzah-ing" here.

Yes, I know that's not a real word. Never mind.

Those numbers are great for a book in its first week of release. For the end of a release month, they're fab. Of course, I only have five reviews so far, and I'd love to get some more (HINT, HINT, SUBTLE HINT), but over all, I'm very happy. I've also had lots of people writing to me and saying how much they love the book, which of course, makes me happier still.

So now I'm going to spread the happy by doing a giveaway! I'm going to give away one big prize pack with a double-sided tote bag (just one bag, but it has Everyday Witchcraft on one side and The Witch's Broom on the other), plus a notebook, postcard, and magnet, and a cool broom pen. Sorry, Magic the Cat is not included. She was just supervising.

PLUS, I'll be giving away TWO signed copies of Everyday Witchcraft!

As usual, it is easy to enter. You get extra points for doing things like buying a copy of the book and posting a review (which this time you can do every day of the contest, as long as you post it in different places each day, like Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble ). Or you can just comment and tell me if you are excited about the book, love the cover, or just think Magic the Cat is the best prize-putting-together supervisor evah.

And of course, I'd love it if you'd spread the word. On account of you are all teh best readers evah.

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cute Kitty in the Midst of A Horrid Week

Those of you who follow me on Facebook may already know that it has been a tough week here. Last Sunday night at 11:15 I got a call from my beloved step-daughter Jenn to tell me that her mom Jo had suffered a massive heart attack and gone into cardiac arrest at the local hospital. After seven minutes of CPR, they managed to stabilize her and send her to the Bassett Hospital in nearby Cooperstown, which is set up for cardiac patients. Jo has been in the ICU there ever since. Jenn flew out from San Jose late on Tuesday and we have been spending most of our days there since she got here. (Hence the radio silence here.)

Jo is also a friend of mine and a frequent guest at Blue Moon Circle events, as well as being my best friend Ellen's other best friend. (Basically, we are a strange modern family.) And of course, this has been especially rough for Jenn. Jo is slowly improving every day and we are hoping for the best, although it will be a long road to recovery.

But in the meanwhile...I decided I needed to do something to cheer Jenn up.

Again, if you follow me on Facebook (and clearly if you don't, you are missing out on all the News), you will know that as I was returning from my visit to San Jose in mid-February, my friend Ellen, who works as a dog groomer at our vets' office, called to tell me about a little cat someone brought in who reminded her of my recently lost Samhain.

This little cat, who they think is about six months old and only weighs 4 1/2 lbs, was found in a snowbank, almost dead. She's apparently pretty tough though, since she made a full recovery. They were looking for someone to adopt her. I fought it...I swear I did! But it kept feeling like Samhain had her paw in this, and eventually I caved and said I'd take her. But I had to wait for her to be spayed, and for a second feline leukemia test to come back negative.

When I called on Friday to see what they thought about me bringing her home temporarily, I was told that the second test had been done, she'd been given her booster shots, and was ready to go! So I brought her back home (I'd had to skip the hospital for the day to catch up with things at work, so Jenn was coming in later with a friend) and surprised Jenn with a buddy to hang out with in the upstairs bedroom at night. There may have been happy squealing :-)

Here's the newest member of the family: Luna (so called because it looks to me like she has a partial lunar eclipse on her face, and when I was trying to decide whether or not to take her, I pulled The Moon tarot card)

What do you think?

For the moment I am trying to keep her upstairs with the intention of introducing her to the other cats slowly. But she is affectionate and full of beans and has already made a break for it once, so something tells me that isn't going to work. I'll keep you posted.

In the meanwhile, I'd intended to do an overdue giveaway to celebrate the four book deal from Berkley, but it is going to have to be a little more overdue, since I'm pretty much on hospital duty until Jenn goes home on Thursday. (And then I'm going to be madly playing catch-up.) But don't worry, I haven't forgotten about it, and soon enough, there will be another fun batch of goodies up for grabs.

Did I mention I also had to replace my furnace unexpectedly? Oh, the joy.

Here is a fun picture from the wonderful Christmas Day we all had together in December.

Jo, Ellen in the back, Jenn, and me on a much happier day
So, that's life, really. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, and always, cats. Thanks to all those who sent their good wishes on Facebook--they were all much appreciated.