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Friday, August 29, 2014

Two Guest Blogs and Feline Friday: The Helpful Cat Version


I'm all over the Interwebs today :-)

Come visit me at Maria V. Snyder's Blog, where she asked me the best interview questions ever (you might even learn a few new things about me) and where we are giving away a signed copy of Wickedly Dangerous to one lucky commenter (including international readers).

Then pop over to see the fun (and very positive, thank goodness!) review at Talk Supe, where I answer the question: What are the 5 Top Fun Fact about Baba Yaga?

Any guesses?

As you can tell, the pre-release promo has moved into high gear, and I really appreciate the author friends and bloggers (including many I don't know at all) who have invited me to visit, or are otherwise spreading the word. Not to mention all of you! I hope you'll go visit some of these blogs, and keep spreading the word.

I'm not doing many book signings, but there will be one at my local Indy bookstore, The Green Toad on Saturday, September 6th from 1-3. If you live anywhere nearby, I hope you'll come say hi! [I will also be at a SF Con in Binghamton, NY the last weekend in September--more info to follow.]

Can you believe that the book comes out in FOUR DAYS????

I'm thinking about doing one more giveaway on release day itself--what do you think? Are you bored with contests, or do you want one more shot at winning a signed book and some Baba Yaga swag? Inquiring minds want to know.

Now--Feline Friday pics! The theme for this week: Cats being helpful. (And if you have cats, you know that this is sarcasm...)

Magic the Cat, helping me take a picture of the two posters Berkley sent me for book signings

Magic the Cat helping me make the bed. (It is a little tough to put on the top sheet and comforters this way...)

Magic the Cat helping me to package up giveaway winnings. Yes, Magic is UNUSUALLY helpful, even for a cat.

Samhain helping me write. At last, something really useful! If you like to read gibberish.
I hope you all have a fabulous 3-day weekend (those in the USA that have one, anyway). I'm actually going to have a small Book Release Celebration Party at my house on Sunday. I wish you all could come!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This and That

Congratulations to contest winner Paula! She won a signed copy of Wickedly Dangerous -- yay!!

There haven't been as many entries to the contests I've given lately, so I'm assuming people are tired of them and I'm going to stop doing them for a bit. Don't worry, I'll get back to them eventually.

I'm a guest today over at Manga Maniac Cafe, where blogger Julie asked me a fun question:
"What 5 Things Would You Never Find in Baba Yaga's Airstream Trailer?" I'd love to know what your guesses would be...then go see what the real answers are.

For those not on Facebook, as requested, here is a picture of the Necklace of the Week:
Fancy Jasper Stars

Have a great day? So really, what do you think would never be found in Baba/Barbara's Airstream?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Authors Do So Much Promotion: An Apology & an Explanation (And a Giveaway)

Note: We're only a week away from book release day! Oy! This is a long explanation about all the book promo, and worth reading (I hope)...but feel free to skip it and just enter the contest at the bottom!
 


You’ve probably noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time over the past months talking about my books, rather than my garden, the writing process, the practice of witchcraft, or the antics of my adorable felines. I hope you’re not getting bored! I do try to keep it fun and amusing, and periodically reward people for sticking around by giving out goodies…but I thought it might be time to explain why I—and lots of other authors—do so much promotion when they have a new book coming out.

You’re still free to skip all the promotional stuff, of course, and wait for me to get back to putting up cute cat pictures and the occasional spell, but I figured that I might give y’all some insight into the realities of the modern publishing world, and why there is So Damn Much Book Promo.


Reason One: Publishers Don’t Do Much Promotion Anymore
In the good old days, an author could sit at home and write in his skivvies, and his publisher would take care of most of the promotion. If the author went on a book tour, the publisher paid for it. Not anymore. These days, if your book is coming out from one of the major publishers (like Berkley), they will do some promotional things—find you a few guest blog spots, maybe, put your book up on their website and include it in their newsletter for those who have signed up for it, even make you some bookmarks (yay! Giveaway!). But not much. For those authors who are self-publishing, like my friend Mindy Klasky is these days, it is all on the author. So if you want people to find out about, and hopefully buy, your book, it is up to you to spread the word.


Reason Two: Fewer Bookstores
Back in said ancient days of yore (you know, ten or fifteen years ago), most people found new books and new authors in one of three ways—at a bookstore, at the library, or through a friend’s recommendation. Sadly, there are fewer brick and mortar bookstores these days (I miss you, Borders!), and many people are buying their books online, where instead of competing against thousands of books to be noticed, you are literally competing against millions. Mind you, many of those millions are crap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not completion. Thankfully, there are still libraries, and Indy bookstores are making a comeback, and now your friends can recommend your books on Facebook and Goodreads. But still, it is tough to ensure that people even know a book exists. Hence the promo. (Even the big name authors have to do it to alert their fans that the long-awaited sequel to Kinky Sex with Steampunk Zombies is finally out.)


Reason Three: It is Harder than Ever for an Author to Make a Living
I know, I know—everyone thinks that authors get rich once they have a book published. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “So, do you make a lot of money as a writer?” well, I’d have a lot more money than I got from my last royalty check. Just sayin’. There certainly are authors out there that are doing quite well for themselves (Stephen King, I’m looking at you, dude), but for most of us, the income is simply a supplement to the day job we have to keep to put food on the (cat’s) table. Not that I’m complaining—nobody makes me do this wacky job—but don’t be fooled; most authors need to sell a lot of books to make anything resembling a living wage.
Most people think that if a book sells for, say, $16, that the author makes that much every time one is sold. Oh, har. Yes, you heard me. I said HAR. First of all, even the publisher only makes about half of that (because after all, the book seller has to make money too, although if you buy directly from Llewellyn, they make more than if you buy one of their books from a bookstore or Amazon, for instance). So on that $16 book, the publisher might make $8. That’s not so bad, right? But the author only gets the percentage they agreed to in their contract—usually 6% to 8%. Maybe 10%, if they’re very lucky. And that’s out of the money the publisher makes, not the cover price of the book. So for my Llewellyn books, I might average .60 cents or .70 cents on each book that’s sold. No, don’t ask me to multiply that by anything in my head. I’m a word person, not a math person. Ah, NOW you’re beginning to see why promoting books is so important to an author, yes?


Reason Four: In Matters How Many Books Sell and When They Sell
It isn’t just about the money. (Okay, it is, but not how you think.) When you buy a book can make a big difference. The reason most authors pile on the promo right before a book comes out (and encourage people to preorder), and also as the book is actually released, is because some important decisions are made based almost entirely on the sales of a book in its first WEEK. (Preorders count towards those.) All those best seller lists you see? Based on early sales or preorder numbers.

A publisher may also determine whether or not to contract for another book from an author based on early sales, and will certainly do so based on sales numbers in general. For instance, Berkley will probably make a decision on whether or not to give me a contract to write Baba Yaga 3 at some point in late September or early October—based entirely on the early sales numbers for Wickedly Dangerous and the preorders at that point for Wickedly Wonderful. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying this is a bad way to do things. After all, it they’re going to invest money in a third book in a series, they’re going to want to see that the first two are succeeding…but there isn’t much time allowed for that success to happen. So I need to do anything I can to make those numbers as impressive as possible, because darn it, I want to write that third story!


So, hopefully you can see now why so many authors can be found all around the Interwebs casually dropping the title of their upcoming book into conversations about just about anything.
“You had pizza for lunch? That’s great! Did I mention that my protagonist in the upcoming Mary Does Lunch eats pizza almost every day?”

All of which is a very long-winded apology for spending so much time lately promoting MY UPCOMING BOOK, OUT SEPTEMBER 2nd. And if it is any consolation, I would much rather be writing the next one. Or reading Kinky Sex with Steampunk Zombies, which I hear was really good. On the bright side, soon the book will be out, and I’ll go back to posting cute pictures of my cats. You know, until book two comes out in December.

Here, have another giveaway. You guys are the best.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Guest Blogs and Upcoming Events

We're heading into the last week before the book release and things are gonna get a little crazy :-) I hope you'll all ride this roller-coaster with me. I need someone to hold my hand!

First off, congratulations to the folks who won the Book Release Celebration Blow Out CONTEST. I sent an email to everyone who won, and the names are also listed at the bottom of the contest form. Don't worry if you didn't win this one--I'm planning to give things away almost every day between now and the release of Wickedly Dangerous on September 2nd, either here or on my Facebook Author Page (you've "liked" me there, right, and then clicked on "receive notifications" underneath the like option...right?) So you're probably going to check back often, since some of these contests will be only one-day affairs.

Secondly, all sorts of lovely people have been kind enough to invite me to be a guest on their blogs in the next few weeks to help spread the word about the book. I hope that my WONDERFUL readers will take a moment to pop over to these places and say hi. You know, so it looks like someone likes me :-)

Today, Raymond Bolton did a seriously in-depth interview of me over on his blog The Write Stuff -- damn, I wish I'd thought of that name -- you might be surprised by some of my answers.

The lovely Karen Rose Smith is talking up the book on her blog. If you go there, be sure to read her earlier posts about Halo, the stray cat she took in recently, and see the progress of Halo's pregnancy and KITTEN PICTURES (warning: the cute may kill you). Karen and I had a great chat on the phone before the kittens were born, since she'd never helped to birth cat babies before, and I'd done it a number of times.

Here's a quick question for y'all:
I am going to be doing a live event online at Bitten by Books on the actual day of the book release, starting at noon PST/3pm EST. Since I'm going to be pretty much glued to the computer that day anyway, I was thinking about having a live event to on Facebook too, where people could ask me questions, say congrats, and win prizes. What do you think? If I did such a crazy thing, would you come?


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to My MUCH Younger Sister!

Just a quick reminder--the Book Release Celebration Blowout Giveaway ends at midnight tonight Saturday the 23rd, EST). If you're having trouble leaving a comment, try again, or just say so in the contest form.

I want to wish a big happy birthday to my "little" sister, Becky. I love her a whole lot, even though she is ridiculously gorgeous and smart and stuff. *blows kisses*

(I'd tell you how old she is, but she has promised to hurt me if I do. Let's just say that she is MUCH younger than me, and leave it at that.)



This was the last time I was in San Diego, on the beach with my wonderful brother in-law Rich, which is married to my other gorgeous, smart, and younger sister Sarah.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Fabulous Review from RT Book Reviews!

Official reviews are starting to come in for Wickedly Dangerous

This is always a tense time for an author, and because this is my debut novel, I am even a bit twitchier than usual. What if no one loves my baby? Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case. One of the more important sources for reviews in the romance industry, RT Book Reviews, gave me an absolutely glowing four star review (since they only go up to 4 1/2 stars, I'm pretty darned happy with that!)

Check it out~

Book Review

 

WICKEDLY DANGEROUS
by Deborah Blake
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Sensuality: MILD
http://www.rtbookreviews.com/images/star-4.pngRT Rating
Looking for a fresh take on paranormal romance? Your search is over! Blake, who has previously self-published paranormal tales, makes her traditional publishing debut with a terrific spin on the Russian legend of the wicked witch Baba Yaga. In Blake’s universe, Baba Yaga is not an individual but rather a job title for a very chosen few who are selected to help guard the balance of nature and the borders between worlds. Wickedly Dangerous is innovative and fun, introducing some lesser known mythological characters and giving them a 21st century makeover. This reviewer is eager to see what else this talented newcomer has to offer!
While on the surface she appears to be an herbalist and researcher, Barbara Yager’s true calling is that of the magical Baba Yaga. Older than she appears, Barbara travels the country in an enchanted Airstream along with her companion, dragon-turned-dog Chudo-Yudo, who guards the Water of Life and Death. At the moment, Barbara has been summoned to Clearwater County in upstate New York by the family of a young girl who has gone missing. Sheriff Liam McClellan is hunting for three missing kids, so he is suspicious of Barbara’s sudden arrival. To save these children, Barbara and Liam must work together, but is this sexy sheriff prepared to learn of the existence of magic and magical creatures? (BERKLEY SENSATION, Sep., 352 pp., $7.99)
Reviewed By: Jill M. Smith
Publisher: BERKLEY SENSATION

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ALS Icebucket Challenge August 2014




Alex Bledsoe challenged me to do the ALS Icebucket Challenge. I said no, of course. And yet, here I am, doing it anyway. Of course, things didn't turn out quite the way I expected...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Release Celebration Blowout

OMG. OMG. *tries not to hyperventilate* Two weeks. The book is out two weeks from today, on Tuesday, September 2nd. I guess that means that this is as good a time as any to start the celebration. I hope you'll celebrate with me.

I got this from my publisher, Berkley...isn't it pretty?


So I thought, "Gee, I should give away a book." And then I thought, "Well, heck, that's not much of a giveaway, is it? Not for such a HUGE and momentous occasion." So instead, I thought I'd give away, well, this...


The mug, pictured above. A big tote bag (it has Wickedly Dangerous on one side, and SURPRISE! Wickedly Wonderful, book two, on the other).


And a few swag packs, including some dragon temporary tattoos, a couple of mini-notebooks, postcards, and a magnet.


 And a cool notebook with a few surprises of its own. (I won't tell you what they are, but I swear, you'll like it.)

 And of course, a signed copy of the book.


PLUS (because what's a party without someone getting carried away?) a $25 B&N gift card--which you can use to buy a copy of the book, or anything else you are in the mood to read.

*Note: This contest is open to my international fans too, but I reserve the right to substitute a lighter-weight prize (such as the swag package) if you win a heavier one (like the tote bag) that would cost too much to ship. *smooches*

So, who wants to celebrate with me? Tell me, are you as excited about this book as I am?

If you want to, you can pre-order it here:


Penguin
B&N

And now, with no further ado, I present the BOOK RELEASE CELEBRATION BLOWOUT GIVEAWAY!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Hopping with Maria V. Snyder

 Author pal Maria V. Snyder invited me to take part in a blog hop. Each author thanks the person who invited them (thank you, Maria!) and then answers a few writing related questions, then passes the "hop" on to someone else.

Here is Maria's contribution (I love her books--she's one of the people who inspired me the most when I got serious about my own writing, so if you haven't read her yet, you might want to start!)

Maria's blog hop post
And here is mine...

Question One: What am I working on?
Answer:
Well, there's the Sekrit Project I can't talk about yet (soon, I promise), but mostly I am working on a new novel, which I am provisionally calling One Born Every Minute. It is a complete departure for me, since it is a humorous contemporary romance, rather than a paranormal romance or an urban fantasy. I love writing with humor (there's always at least a little bit, no matter what I write) and I'm having a ball writing something that is out and out funny.

Question Two: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Answer:  My paranormal romance books (the Baba Yaga series) aren't quite as grim or sexy as a lot of the books out there now (not that I have anything against grim and sexy--it's just not what I write), and there is always a hint of humor. The Baba Yaga books are loosely based on a bunch of Russian fairy tales, which isn't exactly the norm either. Also, I have dragons disguised as dogs. Go ahead, find someone else who has THAT.

Question Three: Why do I write what I do?
Answer: I suppose that the simple answer is that I write the kind of books I love to read. I adore books about witches (especially ones that break the normal stereotypes) and I really like modern retellings of old fairy tales. (Check out Jim C. Hines Princess Books to see what I mean.) I like kickass female protagonists who mostly rescue themselves, with maybe just a little help from the good-looking guy who shows up. Not to mention dragons that turn into dogs. Or is it the other way around?
I also write what I do because that's what shows up in my head. I might say to myself, "Gee, I'd like to write a humorous romance next." But what shows up after that it pretty much out of my control.

Question Four: How does your writing process work?
I always love reading other authors' answers to this question, since no two authors I know work the same way. My friend Alex Bledsoe tend to get up very early, to write before his kids are awake. Maria said in her post that she works from 10 pm to 3 or 4 am--if I tried that, all you'd get would be drivel!

Every book is a little different (they all want to be written in their own particular way, believe it or not--some can be outlined in detail, others prefer to be mostly made up as I go along...it's very annoying). In general, I tend to start with an idea (what if there is a woman who is the only honest one in a family of thieves, who is forced to work with an uptight cop and pretend to be a thief?), then create the main characters, figure out the basics of the plot, then delve deeper into the protagonists, which usually introduces me to the secondary characters. I try to write up a "blurb" for the story (like the one you would find on the back of a book jacket), to sum things up, then write up detailed character studies and a basic outline before I start actually writing.

Once I'm into the story, I write almost every day, usually from about 6:30-7pm to about 9:30-10:30 pm. At which point I clean a bunch of litter boxes and stagger off to bed. When things are really rolling, I often do two stints on the weekend days. (No, I don't have a life. And your point?) I aim at producing at least 1,000 words a day, although on a good day I can get two or three times that much, and on a bad day, I'm happy to produce a page (about 300 words). In theory, I can write the first draft of a novel in about 3-4 months, then I send it out to a few folks, including my fabulous critique partner Lisa, and my equally fabulous agent Elaine. Revisions take about a month, not counting waiting-for-responses-time. Then, if the book is already sold, it goes off to my editor, then I do MORE revisions. Oh, the joy. Then I have a glass of wine.

And eventually, the finished book comes out, and I celebrate!





Next up on the blog hop, be sure to check out the lovely and talented Nancy Holzner, author of the Deadtown books (which I LOVE). Nancy has had a tough year, with the loss of her husband, and hasn't been blogging at all. Hopefully this little blog hop will be a easy way for her to hop back to it. (Yes, I did that. I'd say I'm sorry, but of course I'm not.) She'll be posting her piece of the puzzle sometime next week.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Ongoing Giveaways and Feline Friday

Hey all--I'm running late (and if I'm late to work, I have to fire myself, which would suck) so I'm just going to throw up a couple of quick updates:

My publisher Berkley is giving away TWENTY copies of Wickedly Dangerous on Goodreads, but the giveaway ends next Tuesday, August 19th! Hurry over and enter.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20821001-wickedly-dangerous?ac=1

I got wild and crazy and threw a quickie giveaway up on my author page on Facebook--but that ends at midnight tonight. Quick as a bunny, go enter! Giveaway on Facebook Just look for the "giveaway" tab at the top of the page.

REALLY excited to see my name show up at the Bitten By Books Weekly Poll -- I went to go vote in this week's "Pick your most anticipated upcoming release" poll, and there was Wickedly Dangerous! What a great surprise! Of course, it isn't anywhere near the top of the voting, because there are authors like Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs, but thankfully, you can vote for three. The poll closes on Sunday, so if you are so inclined, and my book IS one of your most anticipated, I'd love it if you'd go vote for me so I don't look completely unloved. Snort.

And keep an eye out, because I think I'm probably going to put up the mother of all giveaways starting next Tuesday, when it will be TWO WEEKS before Wickedly Dangerous comes out. (*faints*)

In the meanwhile, I hope you are doing something fun this weekend. Here is your Feline Friday amusement... Mystic (and friends) helping me to work on revisions. Or, you know, not.

I printed out all 160 pages, spent an hour and a half brainstorming with my CP Lisa and scribbling notes on the manuscript. Too bad I couldn't read it through the large gray mass sitting on top of it. No, I never did get the revisions done that night. Guess what I'm doing this weekend...

A rare picture of all five cats at once. SEE, I really do have five!


You're welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Revealing My Secret Identity

It's been an interesting week so far. My Supermoon Love Spell post post went viral on Facebook with almost 9,000 views (holy crap). Yesterday, I put up a post about the fairy tale and mythological origins of Baba Yaga HERE. And of course, I got a box of books from Berkley, which means I'm pondering my next giveaway contest.

Do you think I should
A) Have one massive blowout giveaway with a bunch of prizes starting soon and running until the book comes out in LESS THAN THREE WEEKS (eek!)? or
B) Have a series of smaller giveaways, each only lasting a couple of days?

Speak now or get whatever my fevered brain comes up with on its own.

On Facebook, there has been a recent trend called Throwback Thursdays, or #TT. So in honor of that, I'm going to reveal my secret identity. No, really, I  have one. (And NO, it's NOT Crazy Cat Lady.) I found this picture when I was looking for something else. This was me, on the back porch of a house on a lake I was renting in 1989-1990. This would have made me 29 or 30.


Here's the cover of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS


 I got kind of a kick out of this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Meet Baba Yaga




 As some of you know, I have written a series (a novella and two novels so far) about an updated version of the Baba Yaga tales. The novella came out recently, and the first book will be released on September 2nd. But not everyone is familiar with Baba Yaga, so I thought I would introduce her to you. Here—let me fill up the samovar with tea, and we call gather around the hearth fire while I tell you a story…

Most people are familiar with the standard fairy tales (many of which were written down by the Brothers Grimm, and then prettied up into the versions we know today…the earlier stories were, well, grim). You know Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, of course. But when I set out to write an updated fairy tale, I wanted to use a story that hadn’t been done quite so many times. There are some fabulous modern rewrites of all those classics, as well as things like Beauty and the Beast, but I wanted something completely different. I wanted, as it turned out, Baba Yaga.

When I was growing up, I loved fairy tales, and read as many as I could get my hands on, including a fabulous series of old tales compiled by editor Andrew Lang into The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book, and so on. I’m guessing that it was there that I first encountered the Russian witch known as Baba Yaga. (I am of Russian Jewish descent; I don’t recall this being a story told at home, although my mother says that my grandfather would have known it, and loved Russian culture, so it is also possible I heard it from him.)

Unlike many of the more conventional fairy tale heroines, the Baba Yaga wasn’t pretty. Nor, for that matter, was she weak, or sitting around waiting to be rescued by a prince. If anything, she rescued them. Or, you know, ate them. Baba Yaga wasn’t a princess, you see—she was a witch. Ah, now you’re beginning to see why I decided to write about her.

The Baba Yaga tales all agreed on a few things: She was a powerful witch, and not to be trifled with. She usually appeared in the guise of the “old crone” type of witch, and sometimes traveled with a dragon named Chudo-Yudo. She lived deep in the woods in a hut on long spindly chicken legs, which could move through the forest, or turn its back to any passing journeyer. Unlike most witches, she didn’t fly through the air on a broom; instead, she rode in a mortar steered by a pestle, and used her broom to sweep away her tracks behind her. She was sometimes cruel, but could also grant help or wisdom to a worthy seeker. She was often associated with the three riders: White Horseman, the Red Horseman, and the Black Horseman. She calls them, “My Bright Dawn, my Red Sun, and my Dark Midnight.”

Then we get to the really fun stuff.
You see, there are deeper layers to the Baba Yaga than you might find in your average fairy tale. There are those who consider her to be much more than simply a witch. According to Judika Illes, who wrote about Baba Yaga in her books, Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses (HarperCollins 2009) and The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft (HarperElement 2005), the Baba Yaga started out as a goddess of birth and death, and only over time did she devolve into the witch whose name was used to threaten children who didn’t eat all their dinner.

It was in part what Illes wrote which inspired my modern version of an immensely powerful, neither moral nor immoral witch who was not exactly good nor essentially evil, but in fact, had the potential to give great gifts to those she finds worthy, or kick a little ass for those she does not.

“She is an underworld goddess who controls the forces of life and death…She performs miracle cures. On the other hand, according to fairy tales, personal encounters with Baba Yaga are often fatal; whether this was meant literally or shamanically is unknown. Either way, she is potentially very dangerous.”
And this:
“In some legends, she is completely solitary, but in others, she is a midwife spirit who is the mother of three sons or three dragons. Sometimes there is one Baba, sometimes there are three: three sisters…”

In The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures, by John and Caitlin Matthews [yes, I have a lot of pagan/witchy/mythical reference books—and your point?], I found some more intriguing information about Baba Yaga:

Although Baba Yaga has become the archetypal bogey-woman with which to frighten children, she is actually a primal goddess whose knowledge of the world is unequalled. Baba Yaga can also appear as a peasant woman of kindly disposition…she is helpful to women and a guardian of good order and behavior, punishing those who outrage it.”

And what became some of the major components of the story:
Baba Yaga confers upon Koshei, the dragon in human shape, his immortality. She also controls the fire-breathing dragon Chudo-Yudo, who guards the Water of Life and Death. Baba Yaga’s house sits between the world of everyday and the Otherworld, where it acts as a guardian to the land of the dead.”

Yes, there are three Babas in my tales, each with her own Chudo-Yudo. Koshei shows up (looking, in my mind, a lot like Rufus Sewell, but hey, you can imagine him any way you want to). The riders are in there too, although they have traded in their horses for motorcycles, just as my modern Baba’s wooden house on chicken legs is now an Airstream trailer, and her mortar and pestle have been transformed into a classic BMW motorcycle. After all, even the most powerful of witches needs to keep up with the times.

My Baba Yaga may not be a goddess, but she is mightily magical, with strong connections to the elements. You definitely don’t want to get on her bad side. She might just let Chudo-Yudo eat you.

There is something to be said for taking ancient mythology and fashioning it into something modern that is easier for us to connect with—after all, isn’t that what many of us do with our spiritual paths, too?

For more information on the legends of Baba Yaga, you can look here:
For an interesting take on using Baba Yaga in a modern witchcraft practice, check out this great blog post by Gail Wood: http://rowdygoddess.com/2014/02/25/celebrating-the-hag-baba-yaga-the-hag-of-winter/ (and yes, she mentions my book—how cool is that?).

And if you are so inclined, you can find up what Baba Yaga has been up to lately, at least in one writer’s imagination. I hope you’ll be pleased when you finally meet her.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Supermoon Spell for Love

 

As you probably already know, the full moon this Sunday (August 10th) is going to be what they call a "Supermoon." A Supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the time in the moon's orbit when it is closest to the Earth. This makes for a full moon that looks larger than usual--and the one this coming Sunday is going to be that biggest Supermoon this year.

Beyond the fact that it will be pretty glorious to look upon, you might wonder if a Supermoon is more powerful for doing magical work than any old regular full moon. I'm going to go with: yes.

Think about how much energy a regular full moon has (I have a hard time sleeping for a few days around the full moon for this very reason), and then think about it being closer, and more visually and energetically present. In short, if it seems more powerful, it probably is.

What does this mean for those who practice the magical arts? It's a good time to pull out the spells that mean the most to you; the ones you really want to work. And since here in the Northern hemisphere it is the height of summer, with all its attendant heat and late nights, I thought I'd share a love spell for you to use this full moon, if you are feeling the need for a little more love in your life.

I'm not a big believer in using love spells, per se. I think it is too easy to interfere with someone's free will that way, and I'm definitely a "free will is the law" kind of witch. But this is a different kind of love spell. I first used it in The Goddess is in the Details, and I liked it so much, I put it into The Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook too. It's a spell not to cast on a particular person, or even with someone special in mind--instead, it works only on the one who casts it, because it is a spell to open yourself to love. (This doesn't have to be romantic love, either. It can be friendship, which in its truest form is most certainly a kind of love.)

So if you want something powerful to recite under an extra powerful moon, here it is, my gift to you. After all, couldn't the world use more love?

I ask the moon and stars above
To open my heart to perfect love
Striving not, nor chasing after
But open wide to love and laughter

Hopeful am I and willing, too
To open myself to lover’s woo
But while I wait for love that’s meant
With myself I’ll be content

I wish for love that’s true and right
Filled with joy and shining light
I release all that which blocks my way
And open my heart to one who’ll stay


I hope the moon brings you something (or someone) fabulous.

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