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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Fabulous Wonderful Day with Nancy Holzner

I took a rare day off for fun yesterday, and went to see Madame Butterfly at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown with writer pal Nancy Holzner (a fellow Berkley writer, and author of the terrific Deadtown series). Nancy lives in Ithaca, almost two hours away, so we only get together a couple of times a year. You might remember that earlier this year we went to the Butterfly Conservatory...so I guess we have a butterfly theme going this year!

Nancy is a huge opera buff, and we went to the renowned Glimmerglass Opera near me a couple of years ago. We had such a good time, we decided to repeat the experience. And I am so glad we did.

Yesterday was one of those fabulous wonderful days that don't come along very often, and shine in your memory like a star. The weather was pretty much perfect,  a tad warm, but hey, it's summer. We enjoyed a lovely meal at Glimmerglass before our matinee, and then the opera itself was really terrific. And we got to catch up, and also spend lots of time talking writing, which is always a treat all by itself.

I didn't get any writing done yesterday (or anything else, really), but I did recharge my batteries by taking the break, and the fabulous wonderful day was a joy beyond measuring in hours. Thanks, Nancy!

The view from our lunch table

The view from our seats

The opera house

We're already making plans to go back next year, when they will be presenting Verdi's MacBeth.

Did you do anything fabulous and wonderful this summer?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Witch's Broom: Magical or Mundane?

As some of you may know, I wrote a book called The Witch's Broom. Recently, as a result of that, I got a message from a lovely man named Robert Skinner, who has a business called Blue Moon Brooms. (Yes, my group is called Blue Moon Circle, so how fun is this?) He said he loved my book (yay) and very kindly offered to make me my own broom for the price of one penny plus shipping (double yay). These are some gorgeous brooms, people.

And then he asked me a very interesting question: did I want a magical broom, or a mundane one?

I actually had an easy answer, because I got two magical brooms in the last year (I bought myself one from a fabulous broom maker on Etsy, and got one as a gift from a former member of Blue Moon Circle) and my favorite handmade mundane broom had in fact kicked the bucket after twelve years of use, and I hadn’t been able to find an affordable one to replace it locally. I hated the crappy mass-made one I’d had to buy from the grocery store. It didn’t sweep well, and the handle didn’t feel right in my hands. So I told Robert that I would love to have him make me a mundane broom.

Generally speaking, for witches at least, brooms are either one or the other. A mundane broom is used for regular day-to-day housecleaning. A magical broom, on the other hand, is saved for ritual use only, and never used to actually sweep a floor. (Any sweeping done with it is usually energetic, not of physical dust or dirt.) I definitely believe that it is a good thing to have a broom that is reserved as a magical tool, if you are going to use one in rituals.

On the other hand, it suddenly occurred to me that there was no reason not to incorporate magical elements into an everyday mundane broom, especially if you were having one made for you by someone who specialized in making the magical sort too. After all, much of the power of our ritual/magical tools comes from our intent when using them, as well as the focus of our energy. So why not take advantage of that and add a little extra magical spark to the broom I was going to use every day?

Robert and I talked about this, and he carefully chose a handle that felt just right (he thinks it is maple, which is a great magical wood) and added a few special touches while he was creating it, including some beautiful feathers hanging from the top, some runes carved into the handle, and binding in the colors I asked for. When it arrived, I blessed and consecrated it to cleanse the energy of my home as it sweeps up dirt (and mounds of cat fur large enough to make another cat out of) and my new broom is now the perfect hybrid of mundane and magical.

I will still keep my purely magical brooms for ritual use only, like clearing the energy of the ritual space before casting the circle, or cleansing energy as part of the ritual itself. But my new broom will add a little magical boost to my everyday housecleaning, adding a little class and beauty to a task that otherwise can be a bit of a drag.

And what could be more magical than that? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WICKEDLY MAGICAL in Three Weeks! Yikes!

It suddenly occurred to me this morning that the Baba Yaga prequel novella, WICKEDLY MAGICAL, comes out three weeks from today yesterday. (There might have been some panicked shrieking, and possibly someone running around flailing their arms and yelling, oh my gods! oh my gods!)


The novella is only available as an eBook, like most novellas, but don't forget that you can get it through Amazon and download a Kindle app to your computer, if you don't have an eReader. And you don't HAVE to read it to enjoy the two novels, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS and WICKEDLY WONDERFUL -- it is just a nice way to meet the characters you'll get to know better later on.

The novella from Penguin
The novella from Amazon
The novella from B&N

Anyway, I said to Magic the Cat, I said, "Maybe we should have a contest to celebrate the upcoming release. Do you think I should give away one of the Advanced Reader Copies for Wickedly Dangerous?"

Apparently, she didn't think this was good enough. Here is what she suggested:

And as we all know, there is no point in arguing with Magic when she has her mind made up. So three copies it is. I'll even sign them.

Of course, I would love it if you would all run out and preorder the novella, the books, Magic's forthcoming autobiography (just kidding...I think I've bribed her not to write that)...but you don't have to. You can help spread the word, or just leave a comment here. Easy peasy. Because that's the way we roll around here. The contest starts at midnight tonight (July 15th) EST and ends Saturday night (July 19th) at midnight. (Sorry, USA residents only. If you live outside the US and you win, I'll send you something else cool.)

Okay, I'm going back to running around and flailing my arms now.

Addendum: Are people having a hard time using the Rafflecopter for some reason? There are a lot fewer entries than usual, despite the large number of page views. If something is going wrong, y'all would tell me, right?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Circle, Coven & Grove on Smashwords!

For all you folks who have been waiting patiently to be able to read the eBook version of Circle, Coven & Grove on your Nooks and other non-Kindle devices, the lovely Sierra has finally gotten it up on SMASHWORDS. I believe you can get the Nook version, as well as a bunch of others there. Sorry it took us so long! (We've been wrestling with the B&N site directly, but apparently the formatting issues were just insane. So Smashwords it is.) It is also up on iTunes...but the price is showing up in Euros, so we're not exactly sure what's going on there. iTunes (If anyone has an idea about this, feel free to let me know. I'm new to all this self-publishing jazz.)

It's still just $2.99 on Smashbooks,  the same as on Amazon (where, remarkably, it is still at #25 on Kindle in Witchcraft and Wicca, and #47 in Witchcraft overall). Don't forget that it really helps me if you leave a review, no matter how simple or brief. Enjoy! And thanks for your patience.

I still love the new cover, don't you?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Day with Rebecca, or Let Them Eat Cake!

One of my favorite people came to visit on Saturday. I first met Rebecca Elson through her blog The Magical Buffet and other online venues, and then finally in person when she came to visit me one year at the local Spiritual Arts Fair, which I took part in at the time.

Addendum: Rebecca scolded me for not putting up the picture of Magic the Cat's "Oh, no, it's HER again" face. This is the look Magic gave Rebecca when she walked in the door:
Rebecca, me, and author Gail Wood, another one of my favorite people
She lives just far enough away that we don't get to see each other nearly as often as we'd like to, but HURRAH! she came to visit for a few hours on Saturday, and we had a wonderful time together as always.

Mostly we just sat and talked, catching up on life stuff, career stuff, and the rest. But of course, she had to try out the new desk.

 Hey--get your feet off of there!

And I made us one of my signature uber-salads (this one had chicken and corn I'd roasted on the bbq, plus avocado, tomatoes, and lettuce, spinach, and herbs out of the garden) and my new favorite discovery, sparkling pomegranate juice. Firefly fans, please note the cool "Brown Coat" hat she is wearing.

As usual, Rebecca and Magic had a serious discussion about whether or not Rebecca gives cats tidbits off her plate. (Magic is in favor. Rebecca is not. Hence the look.)

We had to have a salad, because afterwards we ate some of this, which Rebecca brought with her from her (and now my) favorite bakery, Dolce & Biscotti in Albany.

It is apparently called "Ultimate Chocolate Indulgence Cake" and the name is not an exaggeration. It was fabulous and sweet...just like the company.

Of course, being the silly folks we are, this led to a hearty round of "Cake or Death" jokes. (Eddie Izzard, for the few of you who haven't heard this stuff yet.)

I hope you had fun this weekend too, and that you got to spend at least part of it with someone special. And just a suggestion, but if someone offers you "Cake or death," pick the cake. Just saying.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feline Friday: The Coming Weekend

How the heck did it get to be Friday? For that matter, how the heck did it get to be July 11th? *blinks*

On the other hand, I have fun plans for this weekend--I'm REALLY looking forward to a visit on Saturday from one of my favorite people, Rebecca Elson of the The Magical Buffet blog, which is less about magic that it is about life. (Although she did just do a review of a book on goddesses that sounded so amazing, I went right out and bought it. Thanks a lot, Rebecca.)

I plan to cook up a simple BBQ for us, and as usual, we will probably just sit around and talk for hours about anything and everything. Rebecca will undoubtedly have her usual argument with Magic the Cat about whether or not cats should be allowed on people's laps at the table. And then, of course, Saturday night is full moon, which I'll be observing by myself because everyone in Blue Moon Circle is off doing something or other.

Then Sunday will be all about catching up with the yard, garden, and writing. Big surprise, right?

So what are you doing this weekend? I suspect that around here, we'll have a lot more of this:

 Reading (That's the new Donna Andrews book, The Good, the Bad, and the Emus)
 Napping (not on Saturday, since Rebecca will be here, but hopefully on Sunday)
 And checking out the new desk

I hope you have plans to do something fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"The New Normal" Podcast Tonight!

Guess what! I'm going to be on The New Normal Podcast tonight (Wed. the 9th) from 8-9 pm EST. You can listen right from your computer (or probably any other fancy electronic gizmo).

Here's the info from the lovely woman who hosts the show:
To listen live on Wednesday: open a window on your computer to www.Liveparanormal.com, sign in, and click on Shows, and the New Normal to listen. To listen later at your convenience, shows are archived by date on LiveParanormal.com, and they’re organized by date, topic and guest on Tchipakkan.com .

We’d love you to call in 619-639-4606, with any questions for Deborah Blake, or you can share them in the Liveparanormal chat room and I’ll pass them along for Deborah to answer.

I hope you'll come join us!

(PS--I'm going to be putting up another giveaway contest on my blog in the next day or two, so be sure to check in!)