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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Faucets Ate My Wednesday


I had plans for my day off on Wednesday. Lists of things to do. Long lists. Including writing, plus a bunch of household chores. The list started out with: replace bathroom and kitchen faucets. This should have been a fairly easy task. (Really, just read the boxes the faucets come in.) I've done my own minor plumbing for years--I can fix a toilet like nobody's business. And the REALLY OLD pipes had been cleared away after I moved in (and, you know, broke them trying to replace the bathroom faucet the last time).

But NO.

The bathroom faucet took about 5 hours. FIVE HOURS, people. Most of that was trying to get the old faucet off. Things were stuck. There was copious use of WD40. I consulted the Interwebs (someone sent me a great link to This Old House, which said use a hammer...which actually worked). Wrestling, then walking away, then more wrestling. There might have been cursing. But in the end, there was this:

This was the old faucet. See that drain thingy lying there? Broken. Also, it was a crappy faucet.

Everything got taken out from under the sink. No, it didn't all fit back underneath after. I don't know why.

After four hours, the old faucet finally decided to give up. The hammer might have had something to do with that.

Bare naked sink. I almost left it that way.

Look--the new faucet is so pretty! (The sink however, is filthy. I'll clean it tomorrow.)
 Like a sensible person (okay, a sensible person would have called the plumber after hour two, but nevermind), I gave up on the idea of doing the kitchen sink on the same day. I was tired, dammit. And the kitchen faucet was only sorta broken (it was supposed to rotate, and it had stopped doing it a year ago, which was inconvenient over a double sink, but obviously not impossible, because A YEAR AGO).

And then my pal Glen (you remember him, he built my new desk for me) came by to rescue me from the bathroom sink. Which I'd literally finished five minutes before he got there. So he said, "Let me take a look at the kitchen sink. It doesn't look that bad..."

Really, I should have known better. It mostly came apart easier than the bathroom faucet (it helped that there were two of us, and you know, he had the right tools--note to self: buy more tools). But when we had it put together, the LAST connection kept leaking, and we couldn't figure out why. We tried everything. Silicon tape. Plumber's putty. Filing down a rough spot on one of the connections. Finally, Glen thought to try using a washer (those little black rubber thingies that usually go inside a faucet--thankfully, although I don't have all the right tools, I have a wiz-bang collection of washers in every size and shape imaginable). It shouldn't have worked, but it did. Which is good, because by then it was 6pm, and I'd started on the first faucet at 10 am. *headsink*

The spiffy new black faucet and soap dispenser. It's a crappy picture. I was tired. So sue me.



So that's what happened to MY Wednesday. What did you do on yours? Do any good household repairs lately?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fabulous Review of Wickedly Dangerous

*doing the happy author dance*

Author Jim C. Hines read an advanced reader copy of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS and reviewed it on his blog HERE (spoiler alert: he LIKED IT!).

I'm thrilled that Jim liked the book, not just because I love his writing and really respect him as an author, but because his Princess novels -- fabulous, original, kick-ass updates of some classic fairy tale characters -- are part of what inspired me to write the Baba Yaga series in the first place.

Go read Jim's review, then come back here and happy dance with me.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Fabulous Wonderful Day with Nancy Holzner

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

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



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

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


The view from our lunch table

The view from our seats

The opera house

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

Did you do anything fabulous and wonderful this summer?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Witch's Broom: Magical or Mundane?



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what could be more magical than that? 





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WICKEDLY MAGICAL in Three Weeks! Yikes!

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

Yikes.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway







Circle, Coven & Grove on Smashwords!


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

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

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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Day with Rebecca, or Let Them Eat Cake!

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

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

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

 Hey--get your feet off of there!


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

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

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


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

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


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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feline Friday: The Coming Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you have plans to do something fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"The New Normal" Podcast Tonight!

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

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

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

I hope you'll come join us!

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

The New Desk Declaration

Most Americans spent this weekend celebrating the 4th of July, when the Declaration of Independence was signed (still love you Britain, with your Doctor Who and your Sherlock...friends?). I, on the other hand, spent most of my weekend declaring my independence from my old desk.

Don't get me wrong--it was a lovely desk, and served me well for years. But its configuration really didn't work for the way I am writing these days. Most of the actual writing is done on the laptop, sitting in my magic red recliner (which is much easier on my back and the tendonitis in my arms). The main desktop and office is now primarily used for the business side of writing: emailing, organizing projects, and keeping track of obligations.

Samhain practicing thinking writerly thoughts.




The high profile of the desk also made the room seem smaller and more crowded. So I commissioned a new desk from one of the woodworkers at The Artisans' Guild (the shop I run). Naturally, since I had planned to spend the long weekend relaxing and working on the novel in progress, I got a call on Thursday saying that the desk was ready. Most of Friday was spent installing the new desk (with Glen, who made it) and the rest of the weekend was used for reorganization and perfecting the space. It was well worth it!

Here is the old desk being dismantled. (Mystic looks like he is saying, "What the heck is going on?")






Here is the new one:
Naturally, Magic the Cat had to claim it right away. We witches call that the "butt blessing." (Okay, I just made that up.) Isn't the wood beautiful? It is hickory, to match the counter top on the other side of the room (between the dining room/office and the living room) Glen built for me a number of years ago. The desk is actually two separate tables, in case I decide I don't want to use the whole thing somewhere down the road.

Here's the desk, all set up, with the wall boards reorganized (multiple times), plus an emergency run to Office Max to get new organizer thingies for the desk.


I finally got back to the writing and copy edits on Sunday night, but I'm pretty happy with the end results of how I spent my weekend. The room seems so much more open and airy, and for the next five minutes, anyway, everything is organized and neat.

How did you spend your weekend? And what is your work area like?

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