WIP Progress Meter

Friday, May 30, 2014

Feline Friday: Cats Who Read

One of the things I do when I get a book by a favorite author (besides jump up and down for joy) is post  a picture on Twitter. With a cat, because otherwise it's kind of boring. Here's a few of my recent "happy" reads.

I just got Jim Butcher's newest Harry Dresden book! I've been waiting for this one since the minute I finished the last one! YAY!

But I have to finish reading this first. (I know--no cat. Sorry.)
 Other things I've read this year (you'll see I love a wide variety of genres, from fantasy to paranormal romance to urban fantasy to woman's fiction to contemporary romance, plus a few not represented here). All these are by authors I like so much I buy (not just read) every book they put out.



And, of course, there was this :-)

 Now that I have a Kindle, it makes putting these pictures up a little more challenging at times. But when author (and Betty) Tawna Fenske put out a call for pictures of her newest release in the wild, I decided that Samhain would have to be wild enough.

Who are your favorite authors? What are you reading now?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

COVER REVEAL!!! Wickedly Wonderful

I just got the final cover art for WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, the 2nd book in the Baba Yaga Series. It isn't even up at Amazon or Penguin yet, so I get to share it with you here first!

Remember, there is a different Baba Yaga protagonist in each book, so the Baba Yaga for Wickedly Wonderful looks completely different (as does her Chudo Yudo, a magical dragon disguised as a Very Large dog). Unlike the first book, which took place in upstate NY, this one takes place in CA, on the Monterey Bay.

Meet Beka and Chewie!




What do you think--do you love it as much as I do?

The book isn't out until December 2nd, but you can preorder now at Barnes and Noble and Amazon

Here's the book summary:

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…
Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…
A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.
While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life…
 Are we excited yet? (I feel a giveaway coming on...)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What I Did on my Summer Vacation


Okay--it isn't technically summer, and three days isn't actually a vacation, but it is likely to be as close to one as I get this year, so here's what I did over the three-day Memorial Day weekend...

Saturday was Work Day. First I cleaned the house (including the upstairs cat room, which doesn't get much attention over the winter when it is cold up there). I always clean on Saturday mornings, but I did a deeper job than usual this time and managed to get some of those "clutter spots" cleared up too. I'm getting ready to start work on a new novel, and I do my best work when the house is clean and free of too much clutter (it is never perfect). Then I went to the locally-owned garden center and picked up the last of the plants for the garden, including tomatoes to replace the tomato plants that got walloped by a late frost (BOO), along with some herbs.


With my friend Ellen's help, I got the last of the garden in (except for the broom corn seeds and some flower seeds, which I still have to figure out placement for).

And I discovered about a gazillion pollywogs in my garden pond!

Sunday was another work day. I finished writing up a Mystery Proposal for a New and Different Project. (I could tell you what it is, but then I'd have to kill you.) I can't go into specifics until I find out if the proposal is accepted or not, but I can tell you that it is for something I have never done before, and I'm kind of excited by the possibility...

Then I went outside to rescue the front flower beds from the weeds. Here's the large bed on the right, after it got cleared out. (If you look closely, you can see my supervisor sitting in the window.)
 Here's the smaller bed on the left (which, ironically, actually has a lot more real plants in it, although a lot of that greenery is weeds, too). I ran out of steam, so that one is still waiting for me. Oh, the joy.

Here's a close-up of Angus, doing the tough job of keeping an eye on me while I work.

The rest of Sunday was spent making jewelry, since I wanted to get a bunch of new items in for the summer before I dive into the writing.
Freshwater pearls, mixed gemstones, fluorite with a chaorite dangle, sugalite, rose quartz & cloisonne

Fluorite chunks, aventurine, lapis, and lots of lapis earrings
It probably doesn't look like much, but that's about ten hours of work there. (A little bit of it got done Monday night.)

Monday was mostly a fun and relax day. I did take care of a few small tasks in the morning, but then I went over to my friend John's house and he cooked us up an amazing BBQ (he's a great cook--can I just say "bacon-wrapped onion rings"?) and we both ate WAY too much. The weather was just perfect; sunny and high 70's with a little breeze, and it felt wonderful to sit outside and enjoy it after the long, bitter winter. The we went inside to digest and watch Frozen, which he's seen  multiple times and I hadn't gotten around to yet. It really was a lovely as everyone had been telling me.

All in all, it was a good weekend. Yes, I worked my butt off for much of it, but a) many of the things I worked at were things I enjoy doing and b) I was able to tick some pretty major items off my "to do" list, which means I feel way less overwhelmed. I got to spend time with friends, and be outside. All in all, I have no complaints.

I hope you had a nice weekend too (whether or not it was a holiday where you live). Tell me, what did you do this weekend?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Feline Friday: Not Happy


SIGH. For some reason, the poll doesn't seem to be working--I don't know why. So have a look at the list of possible prizes I might give out to promote the Baba Yaga books, and tell me which ones you'd like the most. (I'm NOT happy with you, Blogger.)

Happy Memorial Weekend to those in the USA, and happy weekend to everyone!
 Magic, not happy at being disturbed in her hiding space under the table

 Samhain, not happy that she had to have her subcutaneous fluids (to treat her chronic renal failure)

 Minerva (with Mystic further down), not happy about me bothering our breakfast relaxation with picture taking (they're lying on my stretched out legs)

Angus, who is just confused.

I hope you have a happy and undisturbed weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

New Poll, Baba Yaga Book Promo Questions, Reminders

Okay, folks...it is hard to believe, but the Baba Yaga novels will be out before we know it (the novella comes out August 6th, Wickedly Dangerous will be out September 2nd, and Wickedly Wonderful on December 2nd. So I'm starting to plot and plan how I'm going to handle promo and giveaways and contests, OH MY!


Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

If you look at the top of the page, you will see that I put up a new poll, asking people what kinds of contest prizes they would like the best. You can choose more than one, and if whatever you want (bookmarks, for instance) isn't up there, you can add it in the comments here. Obviously, I will only have a few Advanced Reader Copies to give away (I think I might get 10 or so, but I'm not sure) and it will be some time before I get copies of the actual book. I'm not sure how soon I'll start the actual giveaways, but I'm trying to figure out what goodies to order now...

Also, I will be taking down the "Buy Now" button for signed copies of The Witch's Broom on May 26th, at the end of the long weekend, so if you want one, this is your last chance. Thanks to all those who ordered one from me already. Of course, you can always just use the link above to buy one from Amazon. (And, you know, boost my sales back up in to the top 100... Just sayin'.)

Don't forget to join me on the radio on Thursday 22nd, 9-10 pm EST at Blessed Be Gardens where you can call in and chat with me, or join us via chat room (the link is on the page) and/or listen via computer. I'll be giving away a signed copy of The Witch's Broom to one lucky listener!

I hope to talk to some of you then!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Big Happenings: Radio Event and Giveaway on Bitten By Books

I'm going to be on  the radio live this Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST at Blessed Be Garden's Radio Show -- you can join in by calling in or using the chat room Here ya go--the chat room!

Blessed Be Garden is a cool shop and so much more, run by a couple of very nice ladies named Krista and Andrea.They're strangely excited by the idea of having me on their show... I hope a few of you get a chance to stop by and say hi--you can actually hear my voice and everything!

Here's the event poster
Next Thursday on BLESSED BE GARDEN.......

I'm also taking part in a HUGE giveaway for Rachel Smith's amazing blog Bitten By Books. It is the blog's six year anniversary and she is doing six big days of giveaways, including prizes from really cool authors like Jim Butcher, and smaller (but also cool) folks like me. Today's prizes include a KINDLE FIRE! And I believe that you have 4-5 days to enter each day's contests, so it isn't too late. I don't know exactly which day she'll be giving away my prize pack, but I can tell you that I sent her...(wait for it)
Signed copies of the new Witch's Broom book, Everyday Witch A-Z, Everyday Witch A-Z Spellbook, and Everyday Witch Book of Rituals PLUS one of my handcrafted necklaces. You don't want to miss a prize pack like that, do you? No, I didn't think so!

Rachel was kind enough to invite me to do TWO events later in the year to celebrate the release of the two novels, so I definitely wanted to help her celebrate the anniversary of my favorite review and contest blog. Go check it out!

What an exciting week!

Addendum: As requested, the Necklace of the Week that I posted on Facebook, for those of you who aren't on there. (The stone is aventurine, in case you were wondering.)
 

A Reader's Broom


No, this is not a special broom covered with books. (Although, HEY!)

One of my readers sent me a note last week, telling me that she was enjoying her copy of The Witch's Broom but...
I've been reading your wonderful book about broom lore, but I suddenly came across something that is disturbing to me. "Never carry a broom across running water." Why??? The reason I ask is because I live on a sailboat for 6 months each year and traverse the coast of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. The water runs fast in the ocean. I was going to make myself a small besom for the boat, but then I read this broom lore in your book and now I don't know if I should?
 I wrote Sharon back and told her not to worry--all those bits of old lore are just that, old lore--many of which contradict themselves. I certainly didn't see any reason why she couldn't have a special besom for her boat. I also added that I'd love to see pictures of the broom when it was finished, and she kindly sent me pictures of the entire process, along with permission to share. Thanks, Sharon!

Here's what Sharon said about making the broom:
 I will be making my new boat besom from aged Sable Palm leaves (I live in Florida when I'm not sailing) on a piece of bittersweet vine (collected on my sister in law's 200 year old Mass farm).  I love the twist of the vine and it's a very dense, hard wood.







I just LOVE the fact that my book inspired Sharon to make her own broom (since that was one of my goals, to inspire people) and that she made it out of materials and based on a theme that suited her own particular needs. Thanks for sharing, Sharon!

Has anyone else been inspired to make a broom? If you haven't made one yet, are you planning to? If so, I'd love to see it what it is done!

In fact...maybe I should have a contest. People could send me pictures of brooms they make, and the one I like best could win something cool...what do you think?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Everyday Food Magick: A Magickal Spring Salad

When I was asking people what they wanted to hear about here, Ekaterina said she'd like to see some "nice and easy recipes with magical elements inside." Here you go, Ekaterina!



Most of us have issues finding time to do much serious magickal work in the midst of our hectic lives (me included, alas). One way to get around the problem is to integrate magick into some of your everyday activities, and one of my favorite ways to do that is with food.

I’m pretty sure that this is something our witchy ancestors did, too. That picture you always see of a witch stirring a steaming cauldron? You probably thought she was concocting some kind of exotic potion, right? Nope—stew. Or possibly porridge. Of course, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t muttering a spell over the cauldron anyway.

How to you take your regular food preparation and turn it into something magickal? The same way we do any other magick: with intent, focus, and belief.

Say you want to add a little prosperity magick to your breakfast and you have oatmeal in your cauldron—er, pot. As a savvy witch, you know that oats are associated with prosperity. So as you stir them, you concentrate on your intention to bring out that quality in the food, focusing on imbuing the oatmeal with prosperity-drawing properties with each swirl of the spoon. Believing that your magick will work just makes it more powerful. Adding a little maple syrup will give it an additional magickal “oomph” and also as a bonus, make it taste even better.

One of my favorite spring salads uses fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs of the season, many of which are great for prosperity work, with a little love magick thrown in (because who couldn’t use  more love?). It is fast and easy to make, pretty to look at, and very good for you. Plus it is delicious. It is one of Blue Moon Circle’s most requested spring feast dishes, and I often eat it a few times a week when the spinach and strawberries in my garden are ripe.

The ingredients include baby spinach (prosperity), topped with sliced strawberries (love), basil and/or parsley (love and protection), sunflower seeds (luck and success), and a sprinkling of candied pecans or almonds. All it needs then is a little light vinaigrette (I just use olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but you can use whichever dressing you prefer), and voila! Magick on plate!

 

I would like to read more about some nice and easy recipes with magical elements inside. - See more at: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2014/05/curious-about-my-readers.html#sthash.6mplvsRq.dpuf
I would like to read more about some nice and easy recipes with magical elements inside. - See more at: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2014/05/curious-about-my-readers.html#sthash.6mplvsRq.dpuf
I would like to read more about some nice and easy recipes with magical elements inside. - See more at: http://deborahblake.blogspot.com/2014/05/curious-about-my-readers.html#sthash.6mplvsRq.dpuf

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Little Light (Blog) Housekeeping

First, thanks to everyone who took the blog poll. If you haven't done it yet, there are still a few days left. I'm mostly just trying to get an idea of what I should be writing about the most (although I'm still going to talk all over the place, probably). So even if the poll doesn't seem to apply to you, feel free to give me your two cents in the comments.

Second, if you remember, when The Witch's Broom first came out at the end of March, I put up a link on both the blog and my website so people could buy a signed version directly from me if they wanted to, and said that I would take it down after I'd sent out 100 copies. We're not there yet, but we're getting close, so if you wanted to order a signed copy from me, you should probably do it now. Just sayin'. Addendum: Reminder, this is for USA folks only. Anyone outside the USA can contact me for special arrangements to get a signed book, but be aware that postage outside the country has gone up dramatically. I think Canada is about $6-7 and overseas is anywhere from $10-$18.

Also, not a blog thing exactly, but I posted some pictures on Facebook of some of the jewelry I took to last Saturday's book signing, and people got kind of excited. (That is to say, I sold three of them to people who said "I WANT THAT." Lol. That wasn't the plan, but it was fun.) I got a bunch of requests to put up pictures of the jewelry on a regular basis, so from now on I am going to do a "Necklace of the Week" on Facebook...probably on Mondays, but maybe Wednesdays. Just so you know. Do you want me to post it here too, or all you all following me on FB?

And now a couple of quick questions:
  1. One of the folks here asked for an occasional post on "magical recipes"--food that also has magical properties. Is that something other folks would be interested in?
  2. How many of you own/buy tarot decks?
  3. How many of you are interested in the writing "how the writing biz works" posts? (As opposed to the "this is what I am working on" type.)
Okay, that's it. Back to your regularly scheduled programming...and thanks in advance for taking the time to answer!

xxx Deborah

Monday, May 12, 2014

Curious about My Readers

I'm getting ready to write up some new posts--I have a few ideas spinning around in my head--and it occurred to me to wonder about the core interests of those who follow this blog or show up regularly. After all, I blog about all sorts of things, including writing, witchcraft, and of course, cats.

So if you look to the left at the top of the blog, you will see I have put up a new poll. If you are a writer (or interesting in writing topics, I suppose) click that option. Pagans and witches, there's one for you too. If you only show up for the cat pictures, click that. [MAGIC, step away from the computer!]

You can also choose any combination of answers. If none of them suit you, or if you have something to add, you can say so in the comments. Don't worry, there's no wrong answer. The poll will be up for a week.

So, tell me...who are YOU?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Imagicka Book Signing Report

As some of you already know, I did a rare book signing at my pal Robert Wandell's shop in Binghamton yesterday. I thought I'd let those of you who couldn't be there get a taste of what it was like.

GREAT. That's what it was like. Okay, that's the short version. Here's the long one.

Rob has been asking me to do a signing at his shop for years, but it is about an hour and 15 minutes from me (which doesn't seem like much, but I don't do long drives because I have an unfortunate tendency to get drowsy behind the wheel after about half an hour) and frankly, book signings tend to be kind of a hit and miss affair unless you are famous. Which I'm not, for all that Rob likes to call me his favorite BNP. [Big Name Pagan.] Snort.

Still, The Witch's Broom has been generating a lot of excitement [side note--it's down to #50 on Amazon now. Pout. Someone go buy a book!], and Rob moved the store to a new location that I hadn't seen yet, and frankly, it's good to get the heck out of town every once in a while. So I said yes, enlisted my best friend Ellen to do the driving--in the new Honda Fit, which she enjoyed--and our pal Jo went with us. Rob suggested I bring some of my jewelry too, so I packed up a box of books, picked out a few pretty pieces of jewelry, and hit the road.
(Here's what's left)

The weather was a little crappy, but the atmosphere inside the shop was warm and lovely. And filled with temptation, since a Pagan/New Age/Cool Stuff store is My Kind of Place. But more on that later.

I was really thrilled with the turnout. Not only were there lots of enthusiastic folks, I got to meet a few people in person who I had only talked to here or on Facebook. The lovely Sarah Mawson drove FOUR HOURS with her family to come see me, because that was all she wanted for Mother's Day. That just made my day. (Waves at Sarah.) Caitlin Disler brought her mom Kathleen Livingston for Kathleen's birthday.

My friends Robin and George, who live nearby, stopped in with my goddess-children Nate and Sophie. That alone made the trip worthwhile! (You can see Jo guarding my table while Rob sells things on the right. Look at all that cool stuff!)

Nate found something he liked. Luckily for his sister, he didn't get to take it home. But he looks like his ready to take on the ravaging hordes, doesn't he?

We had an impromptu tattoo show-and-tell among my fans. (No, I don't have any.) This was my favorite. It was definitely the most relaxed and fun book signing I've ever done! I have the best fans on the planet. Just sayin'.

Rob was really happy I'd finally made the trip. And so was I.

I sold lots of books (including almost all the copies I brought of my older books, which I didn't expect) and a few pieces of jewelry. And everyone had a great time, which is even more important.

Of course, in the end, I did succumb to a few treasures for myself. (Hey--I worked hard! Besides, he had a store full of amazing stones, and I have a major weakness for stones.) I get this fabulous chunk of celestite, which is good for serenity (OY, could I use more of that!) and a wonderful little dragon bowl. I have always been fascinated by dragons, and they are the only thing besides cat-themed items that I could be said to collect. Now that I'm publishing the Baba Yaga books, which all feature dragons (in different forms), I am using that as an excuse to get a few more. Check it out.

Eventually we had to pack everything up and head home, but a great day was had by all.

Well, maybe not all. The cats were a little put out because dinner was late.

Truly, it was a fabulous day.

And speaking of days and fabulous, happy Mother's Day to my fabulous mom, Judy. Love you the most, mom.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Booksigning Reminder!

Just a quick reminder that I'm going to be at Imagicka (a very cool Pagan and New Age and neat stuff shop) at 75 Court Street in Binghamton, NY on Saturday May 10th from 1-4.

I'll have a stack of the new Llewellyn book The Witch's Broom of course, as well as a couple of copies each of all the previous books (including hard-to-find copies of the now out of print Circle, Coven & Grove and The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction).

And owner Robert Wandell asked me to bring some of my jewelry too (which isn't exactly typical at book signings), so I put together a few pieces to bring, including these:






I know a few folks who frequent this blog are planning to be there. I hope if you live anywhere nearby you'll come in and say hello!

Of course, I'll report back here on how it went. You know, as soon as I recover. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Back in the Garden(s)

As usual, I am already about 3 weeks behind on the garden. This time, however, it can mostly be blamed on the weather, which has been unrelentingly cold and rainy. At least on the days when I had the time to be outside. Thankfully, yesterday was sunny and 60 degrees, and since it was Wednesday, I wasn't working. So I went back out to the garden. Well, gardens, really. Yay!

I started by planting new herbs (rosemary, lavender, dill, and lemon thyme) in the herb patch I started last year by the back door. All of those are perennials, and I should have still had them from last year, but the brutal winter killed off everything except the chives and the chocolate mint. Still, I was pretty happy when it was done, and I pulled my Mickie Mueller magical cat flag out of the mudroom an "planted" it too.





Then I moved on to the main garden, where I finally got peas and onions into the ground.
 If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see the tiny green shoots of the onion plants. Of course, the peas below just look like an empty bed. But I know it's not!
That's one of the things about gardening that reminds me of writing. In the beginning, a garden is all about potential and hope. You put the seeds in the ground, and they don't look like much. Hell, to anyone other than you, they don't look like anything. But if all goes well, four or five months down the road, you will have a bounty of vegetables (or words) to reap. And maybe even share with others.

Speaking of others, I had some company out in the garden. The goldfish in the little pond are feeling perky (and got even more agitated when I started cleaning the pond and stirred things up).
 I also had a garter snake hanging out by the pond. (Did you know snakes can swim? Yes they can.) I'm not a big snake person (they still make me jump if I come across them unexpectedly) but garter snakes are actually very useful in the garden and outside, keeping down small pests and loosening the soil. 
[Look away if you don't like snakes!]


I was out there for about 2 1/2 hours (which is as long as I can manage without falling over) and feel like I got a reasonable amount accomplished. Now I'm only two weeks behind :-)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Signs of Spring

It's the first week of May and in theory, we are solidly into spring. The reality at my house is a little less...springy. It was 35 degrees out when I woke up this morning, and my heat had kicked on. Between the cold and the constant rain, I've barely gotten anything done in the garden. Lettuce and spinach went in a few weeks ago, and are barely showing bits of green above the soil. Last weekend I put in about 180 strawberry plants, thanks to my friend JC. Other than that, I've done a little clean up, but that's it. I don't even have peas in yet. (Hopefully this afternoon after work.) If it wasn't for the garlic, planted last fall, it wouldn't look like a garden at all.

But slowly, I'm starting to see signs of spring, so hopefully it will really show up at last. (They're calling for warmer temps by the later part of the week and weekend...along with chances of rain every day. Sigh.)

Still, there's this, seen out the living room window. I have lots of rabbits in my yard, and I often see them chasing each other around at this time of year. They're playing, right? Right?

 And chives, poking out of the ground through last year's leaves.

 The first crocuses.

Frogs in the garden fish pond.

 The return of a couple of last year's beautiful kestrals (a kind of small hawk). I had a family nesting in a hole in the side of the barn, and it looks like I may get a repeat this year.

 And then there is the ultimate sign of spring...shedding cats.

I spent about 20 minutes brushing Magic the Cat (Queen of the Universe, Shedder Extraordinaire). You can see the result. That's A LOT of fur. (She clearly thinks I did a sloppy job grooming her, and is finishing up the rest herself.) And no, you're not seeing things--my black cat sheds gray fur. Hey, she's MAGIC. Her brother and mother are both gray, and Magic has a gray undercoat, which is most of what she sheds in the spring.

This makes it official...spring really is here.

What signs of spring are you seeing?

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