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Monday, December 31, 2012

Endings & Beginnings

Wow--I can't believe it is the end of another year. 2012 was a challenging one for many of us, but it had its fair share of blessings as well.

I could dwell on the negative: the physical and financial frustrations, the things that broke unexpectedly, the bad news, or the difficult weather. But frankly, there is no point in wasting your time or energy on regrets or complaints. I'd rather talk about what was wonderful about 2012.

I had a new book come out (Everyday Witch Book of Rituals), signed a contract for another one, and finished two novels, one of which is currently out on submission, and the other of which will be going out shortly. Things are going reasonably well at The Artisans' Guild, despite the crappy economy, and I still like my job most days. Samhain, the cat with chronic renal failure, is hanging in there (yay for stubborn cats!) and is just as feisty as ever, and the other cats are all doing well despite a few bumps in the road.


I got to visit with family this summer, when my sister and her kids came in from San Diego to spend some time with me and our other sister (and her hubby and kids) who lives in Schenectady. And my step-daughter is here from CA right now, so we can celebrate her New Year's birthday together for a change. I don't get to spend nearly as much time with my family as I like, so this is a great blessing indeed.

Blue Moon Circle celebrated another turn of the Wheel of the Year together, and as always, brought great joy to my life. And my friends, both actual and online, brought light where there was darkness, and laughter when there might otherwise have been tears.

I thank you all for sharing this journey with me, and I hope to see you often in the new year. Here's wishing you a fabulous, prosperous, healthy, joy-filled 2013. Here's a "New Beginnings" spell for those who want one, and I'd love to hear about the best things that happened to you in 2012!

Bless this new beginning
A gift from the gods
Which I accept with gratitude and appreciation
Let it be productive like the earth
And nurtured by the warmth of the sun
Let it flow smoothly like the water
And carry me in a positive direction
Like a seed blown on the winds
Bless this new beginning
That it may broaden my horizons
Strengthen and enlighten me
And help my spirit to grow and blossom
So mote it be

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Today is the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. It is the longest night (the most dark) and the shortest day (the least light) of any day of the year. It is also the origin of almost all of the commonly celebrated Christmas traditions, including putting up trees and greenery (which represented life in the midst of the death of winter) and decorating them with lights (which used to be actual candles) to show light shining out in the darkness. Caroling began as a rather rowdy movable door-to-door party, where people sang and drank their way from neighbor to neighbor. If you listen to many carols even today, you will hear them talk about "making the Yuletide merry."



I have a confession to make: Christmas is not my holiday. Never has been. I grew up Jewish, and the only time I ever celebrated Christmas was the couple of years I was married, way back in the 1980's. And these days, as a Pagan who runs an artists' cooperative shop (and sells her jewelry there), I am mostly just grateful that it isn't my holiday, so I don't have to feel guilty about focusing all my energy on making money...

This doesn't mean I don't celebrate at all, though. Every year, my group, Blue Moon Circle, gets together for a Yule dinner party at my house. This year, it will be held tomorrow. We don't do a ritual, so it is a "safe" time for people to bring the husband who isn't comfortable with witchcraft, or the kids who don't sit still well. We usually invite a pagan-friendly friend or two, too. BMC is really one big family anyway, so for us it is a time to gather as an extended tribe and enjoy being together and celebrating the light in the midst of the darkness.

We always have a big feast. Everyone brings a dish to share, all of them made with love (and no little cooking talent). Unlike the post-ritual feasts we normally have at the other sabbats, where we tend to sit around the living room with paper plates on our knees, we actually put all the leaves in the dining room table and sit down together. There are often over a dozen of us, so it can be kind of crowded, but nobody minds.
We usually exchange gifts in one way or another; sometimes we play a silly gift-stealing game, and this year we're each pulling one name and getting a gift for that person. (The kids get gifts from everyone!)

I keep the decorations simple, since I haven't got the time or inclination to put up a big tree (see "not my holiday" above, plus I have 5 cats). I have a couple of lovely evergreen and juniper swags (about 6' long) that a local artisan made, and I hang them up, along with strings of white lights to symbolize the light of the Yule holiday. I may put up a few shiny ornaments here and there, but otherwise, that's enough to give the house a festive look.
Here is this year's Yule altar in the living room.

If I'm really feeling the desire to go all out, sometimes I dig a small volunteer pine tree up from my yard, where they tend to sprout up where I least expect them. They're always a little "Charlie Brown" looking, but that's okay.
I don't think Magic the Cat was very impressed with this previous effort...

Sometimes we light candles on a Yule log we've made, and talk about our wishes for the year ahead. Mostly, we just enjoy being together. Friendship is the greatest light in the dark there is.

I hope that you get to share Yule (or whichever holiday or holidays you celebrate) with people you love.
Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A "Thank You" Giveaway!

I've been doing this blog for a few years now, mostly as a way to reach out to and interact with those who read my books, and talk about the writer's life. It took me a while to really get into the swing of things, but this year, I think I hit my stride. Or rather, you all did.

The blog hit 50,000 page views not too long ago, which knocked my socks off. I can't believe that many people actually thought I had something interesting to say! I've got a bunch of great followers (I hope you'll be one too, if you're not already) and people seem to be starting to pass the word along, which is wonderful. And I've had all sorts of fun contests to give things away--including copies of my new book--with a truly enthusiastic response.

In short--damn, you guys ROCK!

You've made me really happy by coming here and sharing my world, whether you show up for the contests, to hear about my writing, or just to see the cute cat pictures. I wish I could give you each a big hug. But since I can't, I'm going to give one lucky person a $25 Amazon gift card. You can use it to buy yourself a copy of one of  my books, or anything else your little heart desires.

Here's how it is going to work:
All you have to do is tell me what your favorite part of the blog is, or which was your favorite post, or anything else about why you come here. On December 31st, I'll end the year by pulling one random commenter's name to be the winner. And one lucky person will start out the new year right...with FREE BOOKS!

If you feel like it, you can do something nice for me: go click "Like" for one or more of my books (they're all conveniently listed on THIS POST ). I read somewhere recently that the "Like" button on Amazon makes a big difference...but only once you hit 50 Likes, which none of my books has yet. Or put up a review on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads.

But you don't have to. All you have to do is tell me what you like about my little blog, and you'll be entered into the contest. My way of saying THANK YOU for all your support, encouragement, and friendship this year.

Damn, you guys ROCK!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Yearly Yule Dinner Party



I have a confession to make: Christmas is not my holiday. Never has been. I grew up Jewish, and the only time I ever celebrated Christmas was the couple of years I was married, way back in the 1980's. And these days, as a Pagan who runs an artists' cooperative shop (and sells her jewelry there), I am mostly just grateful that it isn't my holiday, so I don't have to feel guilty about focusing all my energy on making money...

This doesn't mean I don't celebrate at all, though. Every year, my group, Blue Moon Circle, gets together for a Yule dinner party at my house. We don't do a ritual, so it is a "safe" time for people to bring the husband who isn't comfortable with witchcraft, or the kids who don't sit still well. We usually invite a Pagan-friendly friend or two, too. BMC is really one big family anyway, so for us it is a time to gather as an extended tribe and enjoy being together and celebrating the light in the midst of the darkness.

We always have a big feast. Everyone brings a dish to share, all of them made with love (and no little cooking talent). Unlike the post-ritual feasts we normally have at the other sabbats, where we tend to sit around the living room with paper plates on our knees, we actually put all the leaves in the dining room table and sit down together. There are often over a dozen of us, so it can be kind of crowded, but nobody minds.
We usually exchange gifts in one way or another; sometimes we play a silly gift-stealing game, and this year we're each pulling one name and getting a gift for that person. (The kids get gifts from everyone!)

I keep the decorations simple, since I haven't got the time or inclination to put up a big tree (see "not my holiday" above, plus I have 5 cats). I have a couple of lovely evergreen and juniper swags (about 6' long) that a local artisan made, and I hang them up, along with strings of white lights to symbolize the light of the Yule holiday. I may put up a few shiny ornaments here and there, but otherwise, that's enough to give the house a festive look.
My "tree" from 2010. Magic the Cat seems a bit dubious about my decorating efforts. And rightfully so :-)

If I'm really feeling the desire to go all out, sometimes I dig a small volunteer pine tree up from my yard, where they tend to sprout up where I least expect them. They're always a little "Charlie Brown" looking, but that's okay. (See picture above. Yes, it is okay to laugh.)

Sometimes we light candles on a Yule log we've made, and talk about our wishes for the year ahead. Mostly, we just enjoy being together. Friendship is the greatest light in the dark there is.
Blue Moon Circle and friends in years past.

I hope that you get to share Yule (or whichever holiday or holidays you celebrate) with people you love.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Books: The Gift of Knowledge, Entertainment & Escape

This will probably not come as a shock to anyone...but I LOVE to read. I have since I was a kid, when I spent my time curled up in a corner with Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein, exploring fabulous new worlds and ignoring my mother when she said, "Get up and GO OUTSIDE." [To be fair, I got my love of reading from my mother, so she has no one to blame but herself. *waves at mom*]

And I still love to read, although my interests have expanded to encompass not only SF and fantasy, but urban fantasy, romance, mysteries, women's fiction, and of course, various nonfiction books. I always take the time to read with my breakfast and before bed, if nothing else. I feel that as an author, I learn more from reading good books by other authors than I could by taking classes or reading books about how to write. Also, they're FUN. I learn new things, am entertained, and for the space of an hour or two, I get to escape from my own issues. Whew. What's not to like?

Books are among my favorite gift-giving items, too. I'm giving one of my friends a book on how to make wine at home, along with some of the supplies to get him started. My niece is getting some books on Witchcraft, since she shares my interest in it. And cookbooks are a favorite gift for many of my foodie friends. If I'm lucky, I'll reap the rewards in the form of yummy meals somewhere down the line...

I also like to share my favorite authors--both because I know that my friends will enjoy the books, and because I try to support the authors I like the most. Call it enlightened self-interest: if they keep selling books, they'll keep writing more, and I'll get to keep reading them!

I hope that you will be giving a few books as gifts this year (or, if you don't know which ones to give, you can use an Amazon or B&N gift card, or a gift certificate to your local Indy book store, should you be lucky enough to have one). Ebooks can be given as gifts too, as long as you have the email address of the recipient.

And in case you need a few ideas...feel free to give one of these :-)
[Note: if you want to personalize a gift, I will be happy to send a signed bookplate to you if you send me a self-addressed stamped-envelope. Just let me know who you want it signed to.]

Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (All the books are currently ON SALE on Amazon!)
Witchcraft on a Shoestring
Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook
The Goddess is in the Details
Everyday Witch A to Z
Circle, Coven & Grove: A Year of Magical Practice
The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction (This has a short story of mine in it, along with 12 other cool Pagan-themed tales)
Witch Ever Way You Can (paranormal fantasy novel, eBook)
Witch Upon a Star (the accompanying short story, also eBook form)
[to give to a friend, click on the button to the right that says "give as a gift"]

Also, if you look on the left-hand side of this blog, you'll see a button that says "Buy a Signed Copy" for the newest book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals, in case you want a signed one for you or a friend.

Soon I'll put up a post with books I recommend. Which books, fiction or nonfiction, are your favorites to give as gifts?

Addendum: If you don't have anyone on your list who wants a book--which I suppose could happen--then don't forget that you can give the gift of a reader to the writers you like by recommending their books, writing and posting reviews, and clicking "like" on Amazon. You have no idea how much this helps authors, but it does!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Witchcraft/Writing Poll & BOOK GIVEAWAY

As many of you know, this year (after much nudging...ahem...encouragement) from fans, readers, and other interested folks, I started a new endeavor, my Witchcraft & Writing Class Loop . With the help of my Tech goddess and occasional guest-teacher Heather Long , I began giving classes on witchcraft and writing. I think it went pretty well! Lots of people seemed to enjoy the classes we offered, and I had a good time giving them.

It is time consuming, however, so we're trying to narrow down our offerings for the coming year, so we give only the classes people are most interested in taking. I've put a poll up here, and I would really really really appreciate it if anyone who might want to take a class in 2013 would take a minute to let me know which ones they want the most. And spread the word to anyone you know who might be interested.

You can vote for as many different classes as you want, and the poll will be up until December 8th. You'll note that some of the classes are mostly about witchcraft (although many of those can be useful for anyone writing a witchy character) and a few are aimed specifically at writers. The ones that Heather teaches have her name next to them, otherwise you can assume I'll be giving the class.

To reward y'all for helping me out with this, I'll be giving away a signed copy of the new Everyday Witch Book of Rituals to one person who comments (you can just say you took the poll, or you can tell me which class you would most like to take). If you aren't interested in taking a class, you can spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else you lurk online, and tell me you've done that, and you can still be in the contest. Or click on the link to the new book and go click "like." That's always helpful too.

And thanks so  much for all your support and encouragement in this new endeavor--I really appreciate it!


Monday, November 26, 2012

An Accidental NANOWRIMO

Some of you may be deep into the writing rollercoaster ride from hell that is NANOWRIMO. If so, I hope it is going well! For those of you who aren't writers, NANOWRIMO is short for National Novel Writing Month--November, in which authors are challenged to write a 50K word novel (or a portion of one) in one month. Not impossible, but damned difficult.

I actually did NANO with my novel, Pentacle and Pentimentos, which eventually got me my agent Elaine Spencer. In theory, you're supposed to just sit and write the first draft with no editing along the way, but I can't write that way. Luckily, I had done a detailed outline first, so I still managed to finish.

This year, there was no way I was going to take on NANO, because I was already deep into the end stages of writing THE CURRENT NOVEL (I swear, I'll tell you the name soon). But one of the things I do when I am deep into the process is to write my daily word totals on my white board as a kind of running tally. I find that it really keeps me motivated. This is what the board looked like for the last of this novel:

You can see (if you squint) that it includes the date, the page I'm on, the total word count so far, the number of words done that day, and the guestimate percentage of book done (I started out thinking the book was 90K long and it turned out to be 105K, so my guestimate was way off until near the end).

That first date is 10/14 and I was at about 50K words. The last date is 11/7 and that was when I typed "THE END" at about 105K words. When I stopped to figure it out, I'd written 54,485 words in 25 days.

Yoinks.

So I guess you could say I did NANO after all, kinda sorta by accident. *blinks* Mind you, the first half of the book took months, and went slower than usual, so there is that to balance out the gloating.

Now, of course, I still have to do edits based on the notes from my first readers, and the feedback from Elaine. But still, it was kind of cool to see what I'd done. What can I say? When the book decides it's coming out--it's coming out!

Who here is doing NANOWRIMO this year, and how is it going?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving at Casa Deb & Black Friday at The Artisans' Guild

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving (except those of you who don't live in the US and therefore don't celebrate...in which case I hope you had a nice Thursday).

Mine was quiet. I had a nice meal (I roasted a small piece of lamb with some root veggies from my garden, and made my friend Robin's wonderful creamed spinach recipe) with a glass of prosecco. Yum. And lots of leftovers so I wouldn't have to cook on Friday and Saturday, when I worked longer than usual hours at the store.
But mostly I spent the day doing this:
 That's the end result of playing with all these supplies...
And no, you can't see my living room for the beads...why do you ask?

But it was worth it, since the big turquoise necklace sold an hour after I opened the doors on Friday :-)

Besides, my supervisor yells at me if I slack off just because it is a holiday.
I'm happy to say that not everyone spent Black Friday at the mall, since we had a busy and successful day at The Artisans' Guild. I get kind of a kick out of having the store filled with happy shoppers and browsers...


Definitely looking forward to having the day off tomorrow, though. If by day off, you mean "make more jewelry and work on edits."

It's a fun life :-)

So, how was your Thanksgiving? And what did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday: The Jewelry Edition

Let me start by saying that I hate shopping. I know...that's practically un-American, and un-womanly...but there you are. I also really dislike the concept of spending a lot of money on things made in China or elsewhere, when there are all sorts of wonderful gift items made right here. I am a big believer in shopping locally (keeping the money in the community) and buying items made/created by local folks whenever possible. Of course, this may have something to do with why I run The Artisans' Guild, featuring the work of 50+ local and regional artists and craftspeople. Including, of course, my jewelry.

A few folks have expressed interest in buying my jewelry here, rather than through Etsy (which is unwieldy to use from my point of view, although it does a good job of making things simple-ish for the buyer). So here's what we're going to do. I'm probably going to put more jewelry up on Etsy next week sometime (after I survive Black Friday and Support Small Business Saturday at the shop...which actually can be pretty pleasant and much lower key than being at the mall or someplace), but in the meanwhile, I'm going to run my own little Black Friday sale right here.

I've never tried this before...so it is an experiment. We'll see how it goes. Here's how it will work:

I'm going to put up a bunch of pictures of jewelry, with info about the stones, the length, and the original price. Then I'll put up the sale price that will be good through the end of Friday the 23rd. 

If you want to buy a piece, FIRST leave a comment saying so here, so other folks will know that piece is taken. (Almost everything I make is one of a kind, although I can often do something similar.) THEN email me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo to arrange payment and tell me where to ship it. If you want me to make earrings to go with any necklace, I can do that too.

Payment can be made through Paypal (easy peasey) or I'll take personal checks if you don't want to use a charge card there. As soon as the check clears, I'll send out the jewelry. Shipping will probably run about $5.00 for most sales, unless I am sending it out of the country. 

BONUS GIFT: Anyone who spends over $100 will also receive  (if they want one) a signed copy of my new book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (which I will happily sign to you or a friend) or any one of my earlier books. Folks who aren't interested in the witchcraft books can get a free copy of my eBook Witch Ever Way You Can


So, here are the pieces:
 Tree agate leaf necklace with Czech glass beads
22" long, $75
$62

Tree agate leaf earrings (sterling silver earwires) $30
$25 


Red Jasper shell necklace/20" long/$75 $62
Red Jasper faceted necklace/16" long/$56 $49 
Red Jasper twist earrings (gold filled earwires) $28 $23 [Note: Red Jasper is great for protection]

 Peach Aventurine leaf w/ white agate necklace & gold filled beads/16" long/$56 $49
(matching earrings available $26 $21 gold filled earwires) {slightly orangy-er than in the picture)
Tree Agate shell necklace/22" long/$75 $62

Pewter twist earrings with green Czech glass & sterling silver wires $28 $23
Carnelian dragon with carnelian, black onyx &pewter beads/22" plus drop/$89 $72
Fancy Jasper circle necklace/22"/$79 $64 Fancy Jasper circle earrings (gold wires) $30 $25
 Turquoise drop earrings with coral (sterling) $32 $26
Pewter lady moon with crystal drop, turquoise and coral necklace/18" plus drop/ $85 $72

Please feel free to ask me any questions about the pieces, and pretty please spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested! Happy shopping...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recommended Reading: The Firefly Witch

As most of you know, I have a particular fondness for stories about witches (good ones, usually, as opposed to the typical evil witch). If fact, many of my own novels feature witch characters of one sort or another. If you liked my book Witch Ever Way You Can and its follow-up short story Witch Upon a Star then you're going to love this collection of short stories about one of my favorite witch characters, the Firefly Witch.

If you've been around here for a while, then you've probably heard me talk about my author pal Alex Bledsoe, author of multitudinous grand and fabulous novels, including my favorites, the Eddie LaCrosse series. But what you may not know is that when he was starting out, Alex wrote a number of short stories about a character called the Firefly Witch, most of them published in the BBI Media magazine that predated the Witches & Pagans Magazine I write for today.

Luckily for those of us who missed them the first time around, Alex has put some of these stories out in eBook anthologies. Check it out:
Don't you love that cover? This is the first anthology, in which you meet Tanna, a woman with very special gifts, and Ry Tully, the man who eventually becomes her husband.
In these three short stories a small-town reporter meets a beautiful witch who shows him how mysterious, and dangerous, the world can truly be.

When small-town reporter Ry Tully meets the woman of his dreams, he has no idea what he's getting into.

Tanna is blind, but when fireflies are around, she can see. She's a graduate student in parapsychology, and psychic herself. She's also a second-degree Wiccan priestess--a witch. And her primary duty is to help those in need, whether living, dead, or otherwise.

Will Ry be able to forge a relationship with a woman so different from anyone he's known? Will Tanna rise to the challenges of both her new love, and her chosen path? And will the dark corners of the world be ready for the Firefly Witch?
The Firefly Witch (Amazon) The Firefly Witch (B&N)
There are a couple more anthologies that follow this unusual couple through their increasingly unusual (and sometimes creepy) adventures. One of the things I love about these stories is the way they show Tanna and Ry's always-steady love for one another, no matter what comes.
Croaked (Firefly Witch Tales)
Back Atcha

I hope you'll go check them out. Alex is also putting up some very cool "Day in the Life of a Writer" videos up on his blog, which I'm really enjoying. Writer's Day #6 Alex Bledsoe





Have you read anything recently that you want to recommend? I'm in the middle of an early novel by Tanya Huff (author of the Blood Ties books, among others) called Summon the Keeper (there's a talking cat in it). Lots of fun.

And I'm thinking of doing my own private "Black Friday" sale here...I'll be working at The Artisans' Guild, of course, and not shopping, but I was thinking of doing a one-day sale on my jewelry. Either putting up a few things with slightly cheaper prices than usual, or adding a few items to Etsy and throwing in a signed copy of one of my books for anyone who spends over $75. What do you think? Silly idea?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mother Nature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As a Pagan, I love Mother Nature. I love oceans and sunsets and the sounds of birds in the morning (except when they wake me up). Of course, living out in the country, nature sometimes can be challenging, like when my garden in invaded by woodchucks. Or deer. Or rabbits. You get the picture.

And I live in Upstate NY, where nature can just be perverse. For instance, this year, the ragweed, which normally kicks my butt from early August until mid-September, STILL isn't dead. We've had a few hard frosts, and even a smidge of snow, but it hasn't been enough to kill of that darned ragweed. *shakes fist at ragweed...and leaf mold, for good measure*

There's the good, which is most of it, really, like how beautiful it is here in the fall




There's the bad, like what the salt they throw on the roads does to an otherwise perfectly good car

(Yes, that is the rust monster, eating away at my lovely Mazda Protege. Sigh. A big chunk of the underneath of the door just fell off the other day.)





And then there is the UGLY, like the sight that greeted me when I went through the mudroom on my way out to work first thing this morning
 Those ugly things are all that remained of about 2/3rds of the beautiful spaghetti squashes I grew (slaved over!) this summer in my garden. I was planning to eat them most of the winter, but clearly, something beat me to it. I've been known to get mice in the mudroom (since the cats aren't allowed in there), but this was no mouse.Unless it was on steroids, and brought 25 of its best friends. I'm guessing a squirrel got in there somehow, although I haven't been able to figure out where the hole in the wall is. I sure as heck found the holes in the squash, though! Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg...there were probably 20+ squashes and I have 6 left.
The critter, whatever it was, also gnawed a hole in my bags of pellets for the pellet stove, even though they aren't edible.

Nature. Yay.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winners Past and Present

I am having a "catch up" day today. And one of the things I'm doing it getting a bunch of things ready to take to the post office, including jewelry people have bought and books folks won in recent contests. (Also some books for my mom, on account of she asked--lol.)

Congratulations to the winner of the giveaway over on Goodreads Josie Lajambe of Ontario! (Nice to know I am internationally read...one of the winners from last month's contest was actually from Brazil!) And there were 925 people requesting the book, which is pretty darn gratifying.

I am also finally getting around to sending out the prizes from last month's contest here (sorry...the book ate my brain!).

Cristina Potmesil, you still have to email me with your address so I can send out the copy of the book you won! Contact me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo ASAP, please.

Okay, getting off the computer now and actually going to get things done...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Surprise! The Early Morning Version

Upstate NY weather is nothing if not changeable. There is a saying around here: "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." And it is only partially a joke.

We've had unseasonably warm weather here the last few days. It actually was in the 60's yesterday and Sunday. (Normally, it would be 40's to low 50's at best.) That's kinda nice, except that the ragweed, which normally is killed off by about mid-October, is still hanging around and kicking my butt.

Still, wait a minute...

Here was the sight I saw yesterday morning when I woke up (way too early, because I haven't adjusted to the time change yet). Beautiful, isn't it?

And here was what I saw this morning

SURPRISE!
(And oops...time to start parking the car in the barn again.) And really, still beautiful, just in a different way.

The snow isn't expected to stick, and the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 20's and low 30's at night and the 40's during the day, which is much more what you'd expect around here in mid-November. Of course, the drastic change has the fibromyalgia kicking up, but on the other hand, hopefully the ragweed will finally DIE.

Bwahahahahaha.

On a more positive note, the final polished manuscript went off to my agent Elaine Spencer and four special first readers (waves at Skye, Lisa, Alex, and Judy). Whew. More about that tomorrow. Wait until you hear what I did...

So, what kind of morning did you wake up to?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Questions about Jewelry

Most of you follow me here (assuming you do...and hey, if you haven't clicked the "follow" button, why not? and if you haven't signed up to get this fascinating blog sent to your email, why not?) because of my writing, my witchy-ness, or both. Or because you're a Betty. [You know who you are, and I love you all.] A few of you might even follow me because I post a lot of cute cat pictures :-)

But I also make jewelry--in my copious free time, when I'm not running The Artisans' Guild, writing, teaching online classes, and such--and some folks have expressed interest in that as well.

So here's my question for the day:

1) Are you interesting in hearing more about the jewelry and/or seeing more pictures?
2) Would you actually want to buy jewelry from me (either for yourself or as a gift)?
3) If you did, would you rather go through my Etsy shop or just look at pictures here and then pay through Paypal?
4) Or would you rather I just stuck to talking about writing, witchcraft, and cats?

Hmmm...that's four questions, isn't it?

It is fine to just answer in the comments with something simple, like No, no, don't care, Gods yes! LOL
Or you can give me more details if you want.

But it would really help me to know if posting pics of the jewelry (or adding more to the Etsy shop, which is incredibly time consuming) would be a waste of time, or if people are really interested. So if you have a moment, I'd appreciate you letting me know. Thanks!

And happy Veteran's Day. BIG THANKS to those who serve, or who love someone who does.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Feline--The Vet Visit Version

Magic, Mystic, and mom Minerva giving me the evil eye. They must have know I was going to take them to the vet on Wednesday for their yearly check-ups and shots.
Three REALLY unhappy cats, ready to go. You'll note that Mystic has to have an extra large carrier :-)

In general, the visit went well, other than the yowling (them on the 15 minute trip there and back, and me, when I had to write the check) and the discovery that poor Mystic had a broken tooth and some tartar build-up that was causing gum irritation. The tooth doesn't seem to be bothering him much in general (it hasn't stopped him from eating!) but it clearly hurt when the vet pushed on it, and there is always a risk of infection. So in a week and a half, he gets to go back and get the tooth pulled. Cue the yowling.

In the meanwhile, though, everyone was pronounced healthy and looking great for their ages (10 for the "kittens" and 11 for mama). I'd reduced their food a smidge since they aren't as active, and everyone had lost a little weight and was now in perfect form. Mystic, who at his largest weighed over 18 lbs, is down to a svelte 14.8 -- and thankfully, the broken tooth is at the back of his mouth, so taking it out isn't going to ruin his stunning good looks. [And that also explains why I didn't notice it, before the vet pointed it out.]


Now I just have to hope that people start doing some early holiday shopping at the Guild or My Etsy Shop, so I can pay for the $300 kitty dental bill. Sigh....

That's okay. They're worth it.

So what unexpected stuff cropped up for you this week?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

DONE!

Booyah!

A few minutes ago, I typed two of my favorite words: THE END

(I'm also quite fond of "book contracts" and "chocolate, anyone?")

I actually expected to finish the novel sooner, since I've been pushing to get the manuscript done in time to get it out on submission before the holidays slow the publishing world to a crawl, and I also needed to clear my plate to make jewelry and concentrate on running the shop during the busy season.

But I'd been figuring the book would end up being about 90,000 words...and someone kept moving the ending :-)

As of right now, the book stands at 105,105 words (really...I should play the lottery or something) and 348 pages. Of course, it isn't really finished. I still have to go over the chapters I wrote tonight, and do one last polish edit before sending it out to my agent, Elaine Spencer. (I do serious editing as I go along, so the final so-called first draft is usually pretty shiny.)

And it is out with a few first readers, my main critique partner Lisa and author pal Alex Bledsoe, as well as my pal Skye, and they'll have feedback that will lead to changes, as, no doubt, will Elaine.

But still. THE END.

BOOYAH!


Monday, November 5, 2012

Inspiration & Perspiration: The Current Novel Saga

Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Now I'm no Thomas Edison, and the genius part is questionable (an IQ test said so, but hello, have you seen my life?)...but when it comes to writing, I think this quote is particularly apt.

So substitute the word "writing" for the word "genius" and there you are.

I'm almost at the end of the current work in progress, a novel I haven't talked about much in specifics because both my agent Elaine Spencer and I are SUPER excited about it, and as far as I can tell, no one else has come up with the idea...a rarity in publishing. So I'm keeping it under my hat until it is ready to send out on submission.

I can tell you, though, that in the midst of the perspiration part of the process (I wrote over 10,000 words this weekend alone, as the book bubbled up and tried to push its way to those magic words, "The End") I have been thinking a lot about the inspiration that led to it.

Don't get me wrong--the idea is all mine. But the glimmerings that led to it, and in particular the novels that inspired me to use words and tell the story in a way that is different from anything I have done before, that all comes down to three of my favorite authors, and three specific books.

If you know these books, and can put together a few clues, you may get an idea about where my hush hush book is heading. Either way, I recommend these three books as highly as any I have ever read.

I am currently rereading (for probably the 3rd or 4th time) the book that kicked it all off for me, Patricia A McKillip's Solstice Wood . McKillp usually writes what I would consider "classic" fantasy, and her use of words to paint vivid pictures is unparallelled. Solstice Wood is a departure from her usual novels, in that it takes place in a realistic modern setting. More or less...

Another of the books that started the pot stirring (or in my case, you might better say cauldron) was Alex Bledsoe's The Hum and the Shiver . I fell in love with Alex's writing through his fabulous Eddie LaCrosse books, which are a spectacular cross between noir mystery novels and the sword and sorcery fantasy I loved in my youth. Now this guy is definitely a genius. The Hum and the Shiver is a new series set in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and contains twists and turns and musical riffs that make it a delight to read.

The last (but not least) of the three was The Enchanted Emporium by Tanya Huff (best known for her Blood Ties books that inspired a TV series). This one is set in Calgary, and involves, well, an enchanted emporium (that is, a store filled with magic--in more ways than the obvious). This is another one I will end up rereading over and over.

The book I am working on [insert secret name here] is not really like any of these books. Except in the ways that it is. But if I can come even close to creating the intriguing characters, well-drawn worlds, and sense of tangible magic that these authors achieved in these three books, then all the perspiration will have been worth it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Class Poll Up & Happy NANOWRIMO

Happy November, all! (OY)

I hope those of you who write are busy writing--especially those of you taking part in NANOWRIMO this month--and recovering from the Halloween festivities. [For the non-writers among you, NANOWRIMO is short for National Novel Writing Month, and people try to write a 50,000 word novel in November. I did it one year and it was intense! But it can also be very motivating.] Let me know if you're taking part this year, and what you're working on, and I'll cheer you on!



I've actually been doing an unofficial writing blitz of my own, trying to get my current novel finished up. Hit the 80,000 word mark yesterday (aiming at about 90K), so I'm getting close...

I'm also finishing up my final online class for the year, and trying to decide which classes to teach next year, since I won't have time for them all. It would be REALLY helpful if you could pop over to my online witchy/writing blog and pick up to 4 classes from the poll I have posted there. I promise, it will only take a minute!

Workshop Loop

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Simple Samhain Rituals for the Witchy and not Witchy

The bulk of this was originally posted over at the PaganSquare Blog (the Witches & Pagans Magazine site--check it out if you haven't been there yet!) but I thought I'd share it here too, for my regular readers.

Samhain (the pagan holiday that Halloween was taken from) started early here, with my friend and fellow Blue Moon Circle member Ellen coming over to help me carve pumpkins that we're going to use to hold the quarter candles for our ritual tonight. Fittingly, Samhain the cat (so named because of her black and orange colors) insisted on helping.
Well, she seemed to think it was helping. I'm not so sure Ellen agreed.

Tonight, we will gather in circle to celebrate the holiday, but you don't have to be a witch to tap into the energies of the night...



Samhain is the Witch’s New Year; both the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. It is a time for letting go of all the things that no longer work for us, and saying goodbye to those we have lost in the last year. It is said that the veil between the worlds is thinnest on this night, and so we pay respect to our ancestors and those who have gone before us. You can see how the “ghosts and things that go bump in the night” aspect of the holiday came about!

It is also a celebration, and as the final of three harvest festivals in the Pagan Wheel of the Year, it is often used as an excuse to gather with like-minded friends and feast on seasonal foods like corn, squash, and apples. You don’t have to be a Witch to bring some of the more relevant Pagan aspects of the holiday into your life, either. Here are a few small, simple rituals you can do, no matter what spiritual path you follow, that will help you to tap into the special energy of this singular night.

Set up an ancestor altar: Take a small table or your mantle top (any place that is safe from children and pets) and spread a pretty cloth on it. The holiday colors are black and orange, but you can also use something with sparkly moons and stars, or a cloth that has particular meaning to you. (For instance, my grandmother was a weaver, so I tend to use something she made.) On the altar, place photos or representations of any deceased family members, friends, or pets. For each one, light a black or white candle (tea lights will do) and set it in or on a fire-safe holder. You can say a prayer, talk to the deceased one, or simply take a moment of silence to remember those you have lost. This doesn’t have to be sad! Focus on the positive aspects they brought to your life, and what you still carry in your heart. Leave the candle burning, if it is safe, or say a quiet goodbye and blow it out.

Celebrate the harvest: Take some time to appreciate the gifts of the season, and all that you have harvested in the year now behind us. You can make a harvest feast for yourself, or invite a few friends over to share it with you. Be sure to use seasonal foods (I’m a big fan of apple pie, in case you were thinking of inviting me) and either go around the table or sit down before hand and talk about the things you are grateful for, and what you anticipate harvesting at a later time.

Tune in to the dark: Samhain is a great time to ask for guidance from your ancestors, the spirits, or the universe (however you want to look at it). You don’t have to be a professional tarot card reader to tap into the openness of the night. If you have a tarot deck or a set of rune stones, you can form a question in your mind and then pull a couple of cards or stones to try and get an answer. Remember, this is more about gut feelings than intellect. You can also meditate on a candle flame, or look into a dark bowl filled with water. Open your mind, and see what comes.

Whether you do a ritual or not, I hope you have a fun and not-too-spooky Halloween!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

We have four lucky winners for my Biggest Giveaway Ever! Congrats to

Marilyn K. who won the necklace (email me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo and we'll talk specifics)

Autumn Raine who won the free class registration (if you want to take the current one, let me know ASAP! Otherwise you can take one of the ones we're giving next year)

Cristina Potmesil who won the signed book (email me to let me know where to send it)

Aphrodiasties LeFay who won the $25 gift card (I'll need an addy for you too)

Thanks so much to everyone who took part, and spread the word about the new book. I wish I had enough prizes to give one to each of you!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

This Saturday

I've got a busy pre-Halloween Saturday coming up. I'm doing a book signing at my local (fabulous) Indy book store, The Green Toad at 198 Main Street in Oneonta from 1-3. If you live in the area, I hope you'll stop in and say hi, and get a book signed! (I am bringing candy...)

The Green Toad

And later that evening, I'll be a special guest on a new paranormal podcast from 9:30-10:30 EST. You can even call in and ask me a question if you want. You can listen on your computer or any ol' fancy device at Podcast to the Mysterious Realms show. It's going to be fun!

I hope you'll join me at one place or the other this Saturday!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BIG NEWS!

Hey all!

Just a quick note to let you all know that I just signed a contract with Llewellyn for BOOK #7! Huzzah!!!!!

Thanks to my lovely editor Elysia Gallo (who suggested the idea) and my lovely agent Elaine Spencer (who takes care of all that tricky paperwork so I don't have to), I will soon be hard at work on:

A Broom for Every Witch: The Legends, Lore, and Craft of Broomstick Magic
(Keep in mind, this is just a tentative title, and may change before the book comes out.)
The book will probably be coming in some time in Winter of 2014

Of course, I would usually do some sort of big giveaway to celebrate the news...but er...I'm already doing one :-)

So here's a little something special to add on top of that one!

I will give away a copy of the new Everyday Witch Book of Rituals book to someone who does the following:

1) Buys the book and/or tells me they've already bought it and/or emails me a picture of themselves with the book (this can be in a bookstore, if you don't want to purchase the book). Send the pictures to me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo (I will probably put them up here, so let me know if you don't want your picture up, or send me one of your cat with the book instead--lol)

OR

2) Signs up for the upcoming Celebrating Samhain and Ritual Basics Class or tells me they've already done so.

OR

3) Puts up a review of the most recent book or any of my other books (nonfiction or fiction) at Amazon, B&N or Goodreads

4) Follows this blog, if you don't already

Note that it is not required that you purchase anything to take part in this giveaway.

And don't forget to comment here to tell me about 1, 2, 3,or 4 so I'll be sure to enter you! This giveaway is only good until Sunday at 6 PM, when the registration for the class closes. I'll announce the winner then. 

YAY! BOOK # 7!!!!!!! 
     

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Last Workshop of the Year!

I can't believe it, but this month's class over at the Witchcraft and Writing Workshop loop
is the LAST ONE FOR THE YEAR! When Heather Long and I started this endeavor at the beginning of this year (mostly as an experiment, because people had been asking me to give classes on witchcraft for Wiccans and authors for ages), we weren't sure if there would be enough interest to keep it going.

To which I simply say...boy, were we wrong! The participants have been enthusiastic, fun, smart folks, and I have been having a great time giving the classes. But we are heading into my crazy time of year, when I need to focus on finishing the current novel, making jewelry to sell at the holiday season, and running The Artisans' Guild. So the upcoming class, which starts on the 29th, is the last one for the year. Based on how many people sign up for this one, we'll decide how many workshops we want to try to give next year.

Registration closes at 6 PM sharp, EST on Sunday 28th, so go to the link above and register NOW. *taps foot* No, really, I'll wait :-) I'd love to see the class fill up by the end of the day.

Oh, and did I mention that I'll be GIVING AWAY a signed copy of the Everyday Witch Book of Rituals to one lucky class participant? (Considering that the book costs more than the entire class, that's a pretty good deal!)

And don't forget, you still have a few days to enter my BIGGEST CONTEST EVER. You can come back every day and click on a couple of the options more than once. (And that one lucky person will win a free class registration. If you are waiting until the end of the contest to register, don't--we'll either refund your registration fee if you win, or give you a free class next year.) And pretty please, I'd love it if you would spread the word about the contest, the class, and the book. Thanks--you guys are the best!

Here is the info about the class:
For: Practicing Wiccans, witches and more. (If you are writing a witchy character, or one who associates with witches, there will probably be some helpful info here.)

Time: 3 Days
Dates: October 29-31
Cost $15
Optional Texts: Everyday Witch Book of Rituals


Day One –
Samhain, Halloween, and All Hallow’s Eve: Celebrating October 31st past & present
The Witch’s New Year: Saying goodbye to the old and welcoming in the new
Mourning the dead, ancestor altars, and the dumb supper
Q & A
Day Two—
Ritual basics: circle casting & purification, creating sacred space, elements of ritual
Staying safe and keeping focused: what to do and what not to do during ritual
Ritual etiquette for practicing with others
Q & A
Day Three—
A Samhain ritual
A Full Moon ritual
Giveaway of Deborah’s New Book!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Biggest Givaway Ever!

I've been promising to give away another copy of the new book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals, and as you can see from the giveaway taking up half the blog above, I might have gotten a little carried away.

I'm not only giving away a signed copy of the book, but I'm also giving away a free registration for the next online class, a piece of my handcrafted gemstone jewelry (perfect for yourself or to give as a gift for the holidays), as well as a $25 Amazon gift card. Which, of course, you could use to buy yourself a copy of the book, if you don't already have one :-)

I'm experimenting with "Rafflecopter" which I've seen other people use, and which seems to make participating easy, on whichever level you choose. You can do one thing or many, and add up points as you do it. And some of the options can be done every day until the contest ends next Saturday the 27th.

The prizes will be given to randomly chosen winners. I hope you all take part and have fun! 

Here are links to the book on
Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Goodreads

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jewelry, Jewelry, Jewelry

When I used to do the Farmer's Market with my pal Ellie (a potter who started The Artisans' Guild with me), we would do what we called "the jewelry chant" under our breath as people looked at my things.

"Jewelry, jewelry, jewelry" *lalalalalala*

Okay, maybe you had to be there.

But you don't have to be here to see some of the pretty new things I've made. You can check them out on Etsy My Etsy Shop or at my (rarely used) Pinterest account Deborah on Pinterest. I also posted a few on Facebook, if you happen to follow me there.

There is one particularly stunning traditional witch's necklace made of amber and jet, just in time for Samhain/Halloween...

Anyway, if you like jewelry, feel free to take a peek (not too soon to think of present-buying, after all). Remember that all my jewelry is one-of-a-kind, so when it's gone, it's gone.

If you do go look, come back here and tell me which ones are your favorites!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Guest post at Llewellyn blog

Oopsie.

I forgot to mention earlier that I have a guest post up on the Llewellyn blog, talking about the changing season.

If you're in the mood, how about going over there and leaving a comment, so those lovely people don't think nobody read it.... (sniffle)

Llewellyn blog post

Thanks! Did I mention how much you folks rock?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Very Important Poll! (About contests)

No, this has nothing to do with politics. (I like you people, I wouldn't do that to you.)

I'm going to be doing another giveaway/contest here, and I was wondering what y'all would like to have as prizes. I think I will do more than one, so check out the poll above, and pretty PLEASE vote and tell me what you'd like best!

And pass the word to anyone you think might want to take part.

Thank you!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feline Friday

Yes, it's Friday again! And I'm rushing to get out the door for a long day spend at the store, culminating in a party to celebrate our 13th anniversary at The Artisans' Guild! (If you're in the Oneonta area, come join us at 148 Main St from 5-7...I'll be there signing copies of my new book. Also, we're having a Brewery Ommegang beer tasting!)

In the meanwhile, I got an email from my mother saying: I've been reading your blog...where were the cute cat pictures last week? Since it was her birthday this week, here you go, mom.





Monday, October 1, 2012

Kate George Guest Post: Crazy Little Thing Called Dead

One of the best parts of being an author is that (if you're lucky) you end up with a lot of author friends. I first "met" Kate George when we were both part of a great online group started by Lani Diane Rich (another fabulous author)--The Betties. Raise your hand if you're a Betty! [My nickname was Witchy Betty, for obvious reasons.]

Later on, Kate and I got to be roommates at the New England Chapter RWA Conference in Salem, where I discovered that not only was she a terrific writer, but an all-around cool chick. Since then, I've gotten to read some of her work in progress, and of course, her first two published books. The third in the series is out now, and I asked her if she'd like to come share a little bit about it with all the cool people who hang around here :-) Isn't that a great cover? (And I love the title...)




Crazy Little Thing Called Dead: The Song and Dance

When Deb asked me if I wanted to guest blog I asked: “What would you like, a blog post, an interview, song and dance?” 

Deb wrote back “I’d like the song and dance…” [Deb's note: really, she should know better]

Luckily the song and dance is what I’m best at.

The publisher of my first two paperbacks, Moonlighting in Vermont and California Schemin’, didn’t do much editing. I wrote the book the best I knew how and if she liked them she published them. She had a copy editor go through them, but there were no major revisions.

I decided to do things a little differently this time. I’m going Indie – releasing both the paperback and the e-book myself. That being the case I hired an editor to do a read through for content, plot line, character, stuff that’s really important for a good book.

And because I hired a good editor, who is tough and wants me to improve my game, I found myself in revision hell for the first time in my life. I’d never had to seriously alter a book after it was finished before. At one point in the process I seriously doubted I’d be able to make it work. But I carried on, slogging through, cutting scenes left and right. Crossing my fingers that I wasn’t totally destroying the story. I probably re-wrote half the book.

I took two days off from the day job when it was clear I wasn’t going to finish in time if I didn’t.
And I did it. I revised that sucker to within an inch of its life. I think it’s a stronger story. I know the characters’ motivations are stronger, clearer and they have a reason for everything they do, and it’s not just because it makes the story work.

The problem is with all that revision I might have missed something. Some odd plotline may not have gotten resolved. Some name change that might have got missed. I have a copy editor; I’m not worried about that. But what if, in all the cuts and moves and do overs I left something that should have been cut, or cut something that should have been left. It’s a little intimidating.

There’s one other thing. I did something in this book that could make readers hate me. That scares me a lot. It had to happen, in order for Bree to get mad enough to take revenge it had to happen. But some readers are not going to like it. I may lose readers over it. That’s kind of scary for me.

I know Donald Maass says to take your characters and put them in the worst possible scenarios. Make them survive horrific things. I did that, and now I’m scared. Readers might decide I’m not reliable. But the story is strong. The motivations are strong; the writing is clear and to the point.

This is where the song and dance comes in. If I tap dance loud enough, sing well enough maybe I can distract my readers just enough that they forget I committed a heinous act and put my characters through hell.


From Deb: So, what do you think? Is it okay for an author to do terrible things to her characters? 

If you want more info about Kate, you can check her out here:

Here's her author page on Amazon Kate George Author Page 
And here's where you can find the new book! Crazy Little Thing Called Dead



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