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Friday, September 28, 2012

A Full Moon Ritual

As you know, I have a new book out, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals. I thought for this Friday (since the full moon is coming up on Sunday), I'd give you a taste of the book. So here is the September full moon ritual from the new one! I hope you enjoy it.



SEPTEMBER: The Beat Goes On
Pagans have been using drums since the beginning of time for connection with the gods and with each other. Almost every culture in every country has some kind of drum or percussion instrument, from rattles to hollow logs, to ornate carved drums with heads made from the skins of sacred animals.
The beat of the drum mimics the beat of the human heart, as well as the living pulse of the world around us. It can connect us with spirit, draw us deep within to help us find the path to our inner journeying, and take a scattered group of strangers and turn them into a cohesive and connected whole. It can sooth and create trance states or inflame our bodies in a frenzy of passion. There is much power in drumming, whether done on your own or in a group.
The purpose of this drumming ritual is simple: to connect us with our ancestors—the Pagan folk who went before us—and to connect us with our own inner wisdom and the power and pulse of the universe around us. If you chose to do this ritual with others, it will connect you with them as well.
If you don’t have a drum, you can use a drumming recording and clap your hands or stomp your feet instead. But I believe you will find this traditional Pagan activity so addictive, you will almost certainly want to get a drum of your own.

Tools needed:
·        A drum (any kind—you can even make your own from materials you find around the house, although the sound from home-made drums is rarely as deep and rich as that from a real drum) or a drum CD if you don’t have a drum
·        Sage smudge stick

Before starting:
This is as simple a ritual as there is. You don’t need to cast a circle, unless you want to. Simply sit outside under the full moon, or inside in a darkened, comfortable space if you can’t be outside, and open your heart and spirit to the beat of the drum.
  
 Cleanse yourself before starting by wafting the sage over your body. You can sage your drum as well if you wish.
 Hold the drum loosely in your hands and close your eyes. Feel the moon overhead, and sense the presence of the goddess. Reach back through history and think of all those other folks whose hands beat upon a drum—hands of different colors, and sizes and shapes, but all with the same intent as you have on this night.
Start beating the drum slowly (you can leave your eyes closed or open them) or start the music and begin clapping. As you drum, feel the echo of your drumbeats in the rhythm of the world around you. Feel your heart beating in time with the drum and matching the pulse of the natural world beneath you. If you are drumming with others, reach out your inner senses to feel them too. As you beat the drum faster, you can sense the beating of the goddess’s heart, filling and surrounding you. Go as fast or slow as feels right to you, feeling the beat of your drum carrying your spirit out into the universe to connect with everything.
When you are ready, slow down your drumming gradually until you are only beating once or twice a minute, then stop and take a deep breath. Come back to the mundane world, but take a moment to internalize that feeling of connection, so you can carry it inside yourself from this point onward.
Magic’s Mischief, Meddling, and Merriment—
To go a step beyond, try attending a local drumming group. These can be found in many areas and even those which are not specifically Pagan can help you connect with that primal energy.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Writing: What I'm Working On (Shhhhh...)

I haven't been talking much here (or anywhere) about my current Work in Progress (or WIP, as us professional author types call them). But don't let that fool you into thinking I'm not writing :-)

I have been busy catching up with the non-fiction (articles for next year's Llewellyn annuals, my regular column in Witches & Pagans Magazine, stuff like that), and trying to keep up with the garden, which sucks a lot of time in the summer. But I'm also about a third of the way through the next novel. It has already made one trip to my agent Elaine Spencer for comments and input, and been revised in response. I've finished a full outline and I'm at the point where I'm going to dive back in and finish this sucker.

So why haven't I been talking about it, you ask? Is it that bad?

On the contrary....it's that good. Seriously. I am LOVING this story. Elaine is LOVING this story. Lisa, my critique partner and Judy, my first reader/editor all LOVE this story. I am more excited about writing it than I am anything I've written in ages, even though it is in many ways a tougher manuscript to work on, and much slower going than usual. [That's not bad--each book is different. This one uses language and layering differently than any of the others, which is part of why the pages are going more slowly.]

One of the reasons I haven't mentioned the title or any specifics is because we haven't seen anything like this out there yet, and I don't want to give away the idea. (It's a tough world, publishing. Very competitive.) But more than that, I guess, I just don't want to jinx it. Not quite ready to share. But when I am, I promise you'll hear about it here first.

In the meanwhile, I'll just keep updating the word count and talking about the garden, jewelry, and putting up cute pictures of my cats. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Guest Post: Morgan Keyes DARKBEAST Giveaway!
















If you are a regular reader here (and you are, right?) then you have probably heard me mention one of my favorite authors, Mindy Klasky. Mindy is not only a fabulous author, writing everything from humorous paranormal romance to traditional fantasy to contemporary romance, she is also an amazing editor (who helped me become a much better writer, back in my early days) and an over-all sweetheart.

She is also, as of this year, an author named Morgan Keyes. (Writing is the only business where they encourage you to have a split personality!) With her newest venture, a middle-grade book called DARKBEAST, written as Morgan Keyes, Mindy has given us yet another author (and book) to love.

This book is perfect for the younger reader, but make no mistake, this book is great for the adult reader too. I hope you'll help me to encourage Morgan in her newest endeavor, and spread the word about DARKBEAST. Just as we did with my contest last week, go spread the word online or click "like" on Amazon, and come back here and tell me you did it, and I will give away a book to one lucky reader. And Morgan is giving one away too--let's see what she has to say!
*



Many thanks to Deborah, for allowing me to visit and tell you about my middle grade fantasy novel, Darkbeast.  Due to the generosity of my publisher, Simon & Schuster, I will give away a copy of Darkbeast to one commenter chosen at random from all the comments made to this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight.

In Darkbeast, twelve-year-old Keara runs away from home rather than sacrifice Caw, the raven darkbeast that she has been magically bound to all her life.  Pursued by Inquisitors who would punish her for heresy, Keara joins a performing troupe of Travelers and tries to find a safe haven for herself and her companion.

When Keara strikes out on the Great Road, she doesn't have a lot of survival skills.  She isn't a warrior, capable of holding her own in any physical encounter.  She isn't a shrewd merchant, able to negotiate her way in any fiscal transaction.  She isn't cloaked in the mystery of her religion, protected by sacred vows (quite the opposite, in fact!)

But Keara has a secret stash of knowledge, information so basic to her life that she scarcely thinks of it as an asset.  Keara knows herbs.  She knows which plants can heal and which can poison.  She has mastered harvesting methods and drying techniques.  She has memorized growing seasons, even for rare plants that thrive far from her home.

Keara's herblore is a gift from her strict, demanding mother.  Even though Keara would be hard-pressed to admit the truth, she has absorbed her encyclopedic knowledge through hard work and constant repetition.  Handling herbs has been necessary for most of Keara's life; it's the only way her widowed mother could support herself and her three daughters.

Throughout Darkbeast, Keara walks a narrow line about the power of herbs.  It is never precisely clear whether her plants work because she has some magical powers, or because she retains ancient, practical lore.  Keara might be reaching out to supernatural strength, or she might succeed merely because she has mastered old, forgotten ways.

While writing the novel, I reveled in this ambiguity.  I did not want to give my heroine the "flash" of magical powers – specific spells that she could recite, concrete potions that she could brew.  I wanted a greater air of mystery, a resonating note of the unknown.

To that end, I varied the herbs I mention by name.  Some, like feverfew, are very real.  Others, though, are entirely made up, with properties different from any plants in our real world.  Readers unfamiliar with herblore might not know what is real and what is created.

And that's the way I like it.  Uncertainty is one of the essential flavors of Darkbeast.  As a twelve-year-old fugitive, Keara does not have all the answers about her world.  (Sometimes, in fact, she barely knows the questions to ask.)  I enjoy putting my readers in the same circumstances, at least part of the time.

So?  What about you?   Do you find it intriguing when an author creates magic tangential to real witchcraft as it is practiced today?  Or do you find it frustrating because it runs counter to your own experience?


Morgan can be found online at:


Darkbeast is for sale in bricks-and-mortar and online bookstores, including:  Amazon | B & N | Indiebound

Morgan Keyes grew up in California, Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota, accompanied by parents, a brother, a dog, and a cat.  Also, there were books.  Lots and lots of books.  Morgan now lives near Washington, D.C.  In between trips to the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Art, she reads, travels, reads, writes, reads, cooks, reads, wrestles with cats, and reads.  Because there are still books.  Lots and lots of books.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Witchcraft 201 Class Starts MONDAY

Good grief! I've been so distracted by the new books coming out (you might have heard about that...) I forgot to talk about this month's online witchcraft class over at the Witchcraft and Writing Class Loop. And it starts Monday the 24th. Oops.

This is going to be a really special class, given jointly by me and Heather Long (author/Pagan/Tech Goddess for the loop). There will be in depth discussion and a deeper look at the practice of modern witchcraft, so we are limiting the class to twenty people. There are some folks signed up already, so if you're interested, run...quick like a bunny to sign up (at the link above)! The class is going to be 5 days, instead of our usual 3, and it is aimed at those who are looking to practice The Craft, but will also be suitable for witchy authors who want to get their characters right.

I hope to see some of you there! (Registration closed at 6 PM EST on Sunday the 23rd.)

Just a note: This is the second-to-last class for this year. I will be giving a class in October (29th-31st) on Ritual Basics and Celebrating Samhain (Halloween). Then we'll be closing up shop until the new year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mini-eBook is out now too! DOUBLE SUPRISE WEEK

Holy crap! What a roller coaster this week has been! (And yes, it IS only Wednesday.)

First, I found out the my new book from Llewellyn, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals came out, three weeks early. And today, I discovered that it's companion/bonus mini eBook is now out too!

A Witch's Dozen

Isn't that the coolest cover ever? It's available at Amazon, B & N, and iTunes, among other places. This one will only be an eBook, I'm afraid, because it is just a mini, with thirteen rituals for practical stuff like prosperity, love, and protection. But the good news is, it is only $1.99!

I hope you'll show my tiny baby a much love (and "likes") as you do my full-sized books.

Happy book release week AGAIN!


Monday, September 17, 2012

IT'S OUT! (Surprise!)

The anticipated release date on EVERYDAY WITCH BOOK OF RITUALS wasn't until October 8th, but apparently it got sent out earlier than anticipated. So that when I checked Amazon and Barnes & Noble, there they were!

The book is out!!!!
Amazon even already has a note that says "ONLY 6 LEFT"!
B & N will have it at some brick and mortar stores in their New Age or Spirituality sections, and also online, of course. And both Amazon and B & N have it on sale, although I don't know how long that will last.

If you would rather support your local Independent bookstore, any store can order it for you, too.

Or you could get it right from Llewellyn

And if you live near Oneonta, NY there are a few at The Artisans' Guild (I know, because I brought them in this morning.)

OMG--I'm so excited! What should I do to celebrate this unexpected early release day? (Besides shouting about it everywhere?) I hope you'll all celebrate with me by spreading the word that...IT'S OUT!

Happy book release day to me!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Winners!

Wow. Just...wow. I am over the moon about the great response to the giveaway of the new book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals -- thanks to everyone who entered, and who helped to spread the word about the book. You all ROCK. I wish I could give each and every one of you a book :-)

I said I was going to give away one of my author copies of the new book, and one of the very cool cover flats that Llewellyn sent me (like a poster form of the entire cover, back and front). But I was so blown away by the amazing enthusiasm everyone showed, I'm going to give away TWO books and TWO cover flats.

And the lucky winners are..... (drumroll, please)

Bert Hansen (a book)
Carrie Trimble (a book)
Anna Lipari (a cover flat)
Anne (who said that a copy of one of my other books brightened her week) (a cover flat)

These folks were all picked randomly, and should contact me either on FB if they know me there, or by email at magicmysticminerva at yahoo to tell me the address they want their prize sent to, and who if anyone they want the book signed to.

If you didn't win this time, don't despair! I'll be doing at least one more contest in a couple of weeks, closer to the official release date of October 8th. (Although bizarrely enough, I was just checking Amazon, and it actually looks like the book is available NOW. And there are only 4 left already!!)

I'm going to be asking people to come up with more ideas for unusual or fun ways to spread the word about the book, so start thinking about that... And I might give away a piece of my handcrafted jewelry in addition to a book, if people think that would be fun.

Thanks again for making this author feel so loved. You guys made my week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

That New Book Smell! GIVEAWAY!

Look what I got today!
*insert happy dance here*

Hot off the presses, the first copies of my new book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals along with a few cover flats (one of which I will frame and add to the collection on the wall...but the others...)

The book looks AMAZING. And it is huge; lovely and thick, and filled with cats. (And rituals, of course.) The official release date isn't until October 8th (although if you order them directly from Llewellyn, you will probably get it sooner, since obviously, they have copies in their warehouse already!) but I'm going to give away one of my precious early copies to one of my readers. Because hey--why should I be the only one doing a happy dance? I'll also give away one of the cool cover flats, too.

Here's all you have to do to win: spread the word about the book somewhere, then come back here and tell me what you did. This can be as simple as following the link above and "liking" the book on Amazon (or you can go to B & N instead, if you'd rather--they even have a "repin" option for Pinterest). Or you can post about it on Facebook or Twitter or your blog, or anyplace else where someone else might see it. Then be sure and leave a comment saying you did it, so I'll enter you. Let me know if you're rather win the book or the cover flat, or either one. The contest will run through the end of the week (ending at midnight EST on Friday) so you've got plenty of time to enter.

YAY--I love that new book smell!

Harvest at Summer's End

This is a bittersweet time of year for gardeners. The harvest is in full swing, and each time I walk out to the garden, basket over my arm, I come back with loads of things to put up for later or eat right now. That's a mixed blessing, of course--lots of work, and things that can't wait (or you end up throwing away your summer's labor because it rotted on the counter before you could get to it). And much in the garden is dead or dying, the leaves withering and turning brown.

I'm always somewhat relieved at this point--every year I reach exhaustion with that garden chores right about the time they peak :-) There is still much to do, of course, but the nights are turning cold, and soon I'll be watching the weather channel for warnings of frost, running out to rescue the last tomatoes and squash, clipping the delicate basil and making it into pesto before the cold turns it into nothingness.

Here are a few pictures of recent harvest hauls. Do you feel bittersweet about summer turning into fall, or are you relieved to have the heat behind you and the kids back in school?





Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blue Moon, Summer's End, Celebrations

I meant to post about the blue moon earlier, but, you know...life :-)

Did you get to see it? Here in upstate NY, it was amazing. I gathered to do ritual with Blue Moon Circle (it was our night, after all) and it was wonderful.

Then on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I got to spend some time with one of our original Blue Mooner's, the lovely Robin, and her family. If you have been coming here for a while, you have probably heard about Robin, hubby George (who put a barn roof on for me this summer, bless him), and my two goddess-children, Sophie and Nate. Nate is going off to pre-K today for the first time! And Sophie is in first grade. Wow. Since the family moved about 45 minutes away, we don't get to see each other nearly as often as I'd like, so it was a real treat to drive up with pal Ellen and spend the day hanging out with the Wrights.
We had a fabulous BBQ with foods from the garden (and the kids made the best deviled eggs I'd ever had, with eggs from their own chickens). It was the perfect end of summer day.



That's ice cream and fresh strawberry rhubarb pie the kids are eating, sitting by the pool. See what I mean?

And a belated happy 50th birthday to my wonderful sister Sarah, who's big day was yesterday. And happy anniversary to my parents, who have been married for 54 years. Freaking amazing, all of them.




So, did anyone else do anything worth celebrating last weekend? And did you see the moon?





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