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Friday, April 30, 2010

50th Birthday Report, Part Deux

Thanks so much to everyone who sent me birthday wishes on Wednesday. I was positively overwhelmed by the outpouring of love. You all ROCK. Heck, if I'd known it was going to be so much fun to turn 50, I would have done it years ago :-)

On Wednesday evening, three of my best pals took me out to a wonderful dinner. Here we are:



That's Bobbie, Ellie, the birthday girl, and Chris. We had a fabulous time (even though the waiter knocked over the wine!)

Here is my beautiful meal:



The girls gave me some amazing prezzies:



The roses are from Chris, and Bobbie made me the adorable frog prince (so I'd have a date).



Chris also gave me a lovely assortment of "foodie" gifts, to go with the fabulous local beer one of my artists gave me. And Bobbie knitted this gorgeous scarf.



Ellie, who is my "partner in crime" (she and I started The Artisans' Guild together) is a potter, and gave me some pottery of hers I'd been eying (in my usual subtle fashion, she said pointing and nudging)



After dinner, we went back to my house and shared a bottle of champagne, some wonderful dark chocolate-chili cookies Bobbie made, and watched a hysterical tape of a Robin Williams HBO special from a few years ago. We laughed until we cried.

In the end, we had a wonderful time. And we may have gotten just a little silly...



All in all, it was the best birthday I ever had. Thanks to everyone!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest blogging at GenReality

Hi Guys!

I am guest blogging over at GenReality, a great multi-author blog, as a favor to my pal Candace Havens (she was hard at work on finishing her latest book!).

I'm talking about my journey to finding an agent. Please come comment so I won't look like the kid as school that has no friends... Pretty please?

http://www.genreality.net/

THANKS!

And later...50th birthday joy, 2nd installment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

A GIFT FOR ME

Yes, today is my birthday. My 50th, to be exact. So people are making a much bigger fuss than usual...which is turning out to be a lot of fun.

Yesterday I got a mystery package from my publishers, Llewellyn. On the front it said : DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOUR BIRTHDAY. Argh! Torture. I rattled it...nothing. But I was good, and waited until this morning to open it.

Woke up to snow (ah, upstate NY in April), but this cheered me right up!

Here is the front of the card I got--



And on the inside were SIXTEEN signatures and personal messages, from all the folks I've worked with--editors, publicity folks, the lots. I almost cried!

And here is the present that was inside --



And here's what was inside THAT --



50 pieces of chocolate, a wonderful and heartwarming (and only occasionally snarky) A to Z of me, and a cute little kitty.

Not bad for a day that started with snow!

Thanks so much to Elysia Gallo, Becky Zins, and all the other wonderful folks at Llewellyn for making me feel so loved and appreciated. What a wonderful gift!

A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ELSE

I am so overwhelmed with the amount of love I've received; gifts, and cards, and emails, Twitter and Facebook... I decided I want to do something special for everyone who has been so supportive of me. So here's a birthday gift for my readers and fans (you know who you are):
Anyone who goes to www.Llewellyn.com or Amazon and orders one of my books, or preorders one of the two coming out this year--and comes back here and tells me about it--can get a signed copy of Circle, Coven & Grove, my first book, for $5. I'll even pay for the shipping myself. [USA only, please.] You can pay on paypal, so it's easy. So if you've wanted a signed book but haven't been able to make it to one of my events, here's your big chance.

Happy birthday to me, and thanks so very much to everyone for the good wishes!

Check back tomorrow for reports on the rest of today's celebrations,and a link to my guest blog for Candace Havens at GenReality.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Being a Professional Writer

Don’t let anyone kid you: writing is hard work.

But even harder than the writing itself is keeping your focus, so you can actually get the writing done. I can’t count the times someone has said to me, “I don’t have enough time to write.” The thing is, if you’re a writer—you write.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy to find the time and the focus to maintain a steady writing schedule. Here are some of the things that get in the way of my writing every day, just as an example:

The Day Job (running an artists’ cooperative shop)
Making Jewelry (the day job part deux)
Other Misc. Professional Work (giving tarot readings, energy healing session, even occasionally officiating at a wedding)
Editing & Promoting Already Finished Books – Working on proof edits, consulting on covers, getting blurbs, doing promotion for each new book, and continuing to do things that keep existing books in front of readers.
Blogging
Maintaining An Online Social & Professional Presence (Twitter/Facebook/MySpace) – this one can be a particularly treacherous time-suck…but if you think it is optional, ask any publisher. Mine insisted this was part of the Author duties (and I don’t disagree).
Keeping Up With Other Authors (Networking) – this means checking in on blogs, being supportive by doing things to promote author friends online, emails, etc.
Emails in General – I get as many as 100+ emails a day, about half of which require some kind of response, no matter how brief.
Reading and Editing Work for Critique Partners – my CP’s are amazingly helpful with my writing, but that means I have to be willing to set aside time to help them when they need it.
Misc. Other Writing Tasks – writing articles, giving workshops, maintaining the new loop, doing guest reviews and blogs, etc. – all stuff that helps to keep my name out there…but eats time.
Real Life – You know: cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, eating, taking care of the cats, planting a garden, fixing the house, yardwork…all that groovy stuff we all have to do every day.
Social Life – Okay, I don’t have much of one. But I do gather with my Circle twice a month; occasionally get together with friends for dinner, a movie, or a game of scrabble.

As you can see, that’s a pretty long list. And it doesn’t include the unusual events, like a week-long trip to a convention, which only happens once or twice a year. Now. As my career grows, this will become more prevalent.

Most authors have some variation of this list. Many of them have day jobs that take more time than mine. Most have husbands and kids that demand attention. And yet, they still get the writing done.

How? You might ask.

BICHOK.

Candace Havens introduced me to these 6 important letters, but you can see writers all over the interweb talking about them. BICHOK stands for Butt In Chair Hands On Keyboard.

The only way to be a professional author is to treat it like a job. That means you show up to work every day, put your butt in your chair (or on your couch) and you WRITE. No excuses. No whining.

I probably write, on average, six days a week, for 2-4 hours every day. It doesn’t sound like much. But by doing that, I get most books written in three months, and edited in another. In theory, this means I could produce three books a year. In reality, I usually write two, since other writing tasks end up taking up so much time.

But the point is—I write. I’m a writer; that’s what I do. No excuse. Just BICHOK.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Creativity Cauldron!

A strange thing happened on the way to my last workshop...

Well, really, it happened with my first workshop too.

We had a great bunch of folks for the "Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author" class I gave last October at the LowcountryRWA loop. Enthusiastic, willing to help each other, lots of intelligent comments...just wonderful. And when the class was ending, a number of the people who took the workshop asked if I would consider starting a loop to keep things going.

I said no.

Well, what I said was, "No, thank you so much--but I'm really too busy."

And then as the end of the "Beyond Fangs" class was drawing near, I got the same request. People said they loved the way I interacted with the class and facilitated the conversations. They said it was a great bunch of people--helpful, all working on improving their (paranormal) writing. That there was something here that they hadn't found on other loops. Pretty please.

So I thought about it, and finally said, "Yes, if someone will agree to administer the loop." And the fabulous Holly said yes (with a little help from Mary in Oz). And so the Creativity Cauldron was born.

It is a place for those who write any form of paranormal (we have a few SF folks, too, and even Middle Grade and Ya writers) who want to work on improving their writing skills, have others to bounce ideas off of, and generally be supportive and supported by a small but enthusiastic community. We have those just starting out, and those who are multi-published. We do mini-workshops, writing challenges, exchange critiques and information about things like workshops. The only real rule is "play nice."

If you think the Creativity Cauldron might be the place for you, feel free to send me a note or leave a comment saying so. It is by invitation, so you can go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CreativityCauldron/?yguid=373532748 to apply.

Come stir the creativity cauldron with us, if you dare :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Supporting a friend: Glee and Parker Havens

Hi All!

Just a quick note to say I'm trying to support my friend Candance Havens' fabulously talented son, Parker. Parker is trying to get a spot on Glee!

http://bit.ly/9fcOQT

If you'd like to help out, you can go here and watch his video--then vote for him if you are impressed. (And you will be--he's AMAZING!)Hi All!


Thanks!
Deborah

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spell Sundays

I'm celebrating the upcoming release of my fourth book from Llewellyn, EVERYDAY WITCH A TO Z SPELLBOOK by sharing a few of the spells from the book on Sundays here and there. (The book will be out in July.)

Since we are about to enter Mercury in Retrograde, an astronomical time when things (especially mechanical and electrical things) tend to go awry, it seemed like a good time post the spell I wrote to deal with M in R. Hope it helps!

And in the meanwhile, if you're doing anything important on the computer, don't forget to back it up!

To do the spell: fill a bowl with water, and light a black candle (white is okay if you don't have black).

If possible, say the spell the day before Mercury enters retrograde (I think it starts Tuesday, this time around). The idea is to divert any negative or chaotic energy in the bowl of water--and thus, away from you. When Mercury comes out of retrograde, flush the "dirty" water or pour it out somewhere where it won't hurt anything.

Mercury in Retrograde
Trouble in a clear blue sky
Bringing chaos in your wake
Who knows where and who knows why

Mercury in Retrograde
Stay away from me and mine
Confine your energy to this bowl
Until the planets realign

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Newsletter

I have been promising for some time (er...a year?) to start sending out a regular email newletter--probably on a quarterly basis, or so. This newletter would contain news about my writing: new releases (and coupon codes, when I have them), cover art, agent news, workshop dates, appearances, etc.

I am FINALLY getting around to doing this, so if you would like to receive this no doubt *fascinating* missive, please go to my website at www.deborahblakehps.com and register.

And yes, there will be some kind of giveaway involved, of course :-)

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Cover Art for Witchcraft on a Shoestring!




My editor at Llewellyn just sent me the final cover art for the upcoming Witchcraft on a Shoestring book (out in September, after the Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook comes out in July). Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And we have a winner!

Lady and Lion is the winner of the Mindy Klasky book! If you contact me with an email addy, I will get your snailmail address from you to give to Mindy.

She has a book with your name on it!!

Thanks to everyone who commented. If I don't hear from Lady and Lion by next Monday, Mindy will pick a replacement winner.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sexual Assault Awareness Month & Spell Sunday

Support rape crisis centers and enter to win an Advance Copy of Red Hood’s Revenge, by Jim C. Hines.



Jim C. Hines (fabulous author of fantasy and all-around cool guy) is running a contest on his blog. He asks, although does not insist (take that, Michigan Charitable Gaming Office) that you make a donation to a rape-crisis center. If you feel like it. But either way, do by all means go to his blog and enter the contest for a free copy of his new book, RED HOOD'S REVENGE.

As my contribution to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, today's Sunday Spell from MY upcoming book, EVERYDAY WITCH A TO Z SPELLBOOK will be a "Rape Recovery Spell."

I would hope that none of my blog readers would ever have to use such a spell, but sadly, since the statistics say that one in every four women will experience some form of sexual assault in her life, I doubt such a thing will be true.

If you do have a need for this spell (or know someone who does), I hope it brings you peace.

Optional Extras: Blue candle, bowl of water, soft cloth, sage smudge stick
Notes: This spell is not about revenge or justice (for a good spell aimed in those directions, look in Z. Budapest’s book, The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries)—rather it is a spell for healing spiritually, physically and mentally. If you are comfortable doing so, you can cast the spell naked. You can even have friends there to help you if you like, and do the spell in a bath or pool. As you say the spell, use the cloth to wash yourself clean of pain, fear and distrust. If other women are helping you, they can each have a cloth, or some soothing lotion, or if you are immersed in a pool or bath they can just scoop up water and pour it over you. This spell can also be used by men – simply change the first lines to read: I am a man, made in the image of the god.

I am a woman
Made in the image of the goddess
I am strong
In the face of adversity
I have been violated
But I will triumph in the end
And rise like a phoenix
From the ashes of violence
I wash myself clean
Of the anguish and fear
I wash myself clean
Of the negative energy
And I emerge from the water
Clearer, wiser, stronger than before
I am a woman
Made in the image of the goddess
No one can steal my power
I am whole again

Afterwards: Take some time to simply sit and feel yourself healing. This may be a very emotional spell to say—allow yourself to cry if you need to do so. The sage can be used before or after the spell, or both.

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