Sunday, February 28, 2010

Online writing workshop time!

Hi All!

Don't forget--you only have until March 2nd (Tuesday!!!!) to register for my online writing class, "Beyond Fangs: Creating New and Interesting Paranormal Characters"

For more info and to register, go to

Hope to see you there!

A great review!

There is very little that can make an author happier than receiving a great review for one of her books. In the newest edition of WITCHES & PAGANS Magazine (used to be newWitch and Pangaia), there was a terrific review of my second book, EVERYDAY WITCH A TO Z.

And I have to tell you, reading it made my day!

If you are a pagan, you should be subscribing to this wonderful magazine. It covers all approaches and a wide variety of belief sets, and I look forward to seeing it in my mailbox. (And yes, I have written a few articles for both the original two magazines, and also sister magazine SAGE WOMAN--but I would recommend it even if I hadn't!)

Below you will find the link for the magazine, as well as a copy of the review, which editor extraordinaire Anne Newkirk Niven was kind enough to send me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

One little note: the reviewer refers to me a couple of times as "Lady Onyx." Onyx is my magical name, but I don't use the title "Lady." This was a fairly common practice in the earlier forms of Wicca (such as Gardnarian and Alexandrian) and some folks still follow it--but I'm just plain "Onyx."

Everyday Witch A to Z
Deborah Blake, Llewellyn, 2008
4/5 Broomsticks

At first glance, this seemed a very "fluffy" book. However, after
giving Lady Onyx's book, Everyday Witch A to Z, an honest read, I
changed my mind. My pointy hat is off to Ms. Blake (aka Onyx) for a
work of fabulous diplomacy and the friendliest introduction to the
world of Witchcraft that I have encountered. Organized into short,
alphabetized categories, this graphically-pleasing book explains all
the basics of Witchcraft in a forthright, non-threatening manner.
Everything from the philosophy of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust to
Sabbats and Esbats, elementals, basic spellcraft, herbology, gem
magic, and more are covered. Do you have a relative, friend, or
neighbor who thinks Witchcraft is evil? This is the book to give them!

Beginning witches will find a wealth of information in these
pages. The layout of the book demonstrates a great deal about the
culture of Witchcraft. From the copious use of pretty graphics and
color to the casual mismatch of jokes, quotes, "advice columns," and
helpful hints, Everyday Witch stays true to the eclectic, practical
tendency of witches to use what works, when it works. Like the
fabric of our lives, there is a lovely balance of mirth and reverence here.

Lady Onyx, it is not an easy thing to create a beginner's guide that
holds the interest of more advanced practitioners, but I think you've
done it. A blessing in your general direction for a job well done.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snowtacular 2010

I was going to post about the rest of my trip to CA today, with pics of the fam and the lovely San Diego beach I was on. Instead, I'm going to give you a peak at the upstate NY Snowtacular, with a beach scene for ironic contrast!

Let me just say that it was wonderful to visit with my parents, my sister Becky and her husband Nick and my nephew Stamo (12) and Athena (14). Not to mention my grandmother, who will be turning 99 in April! And I loved the day on the ocean, where we collected shells and pretty rocks (which my sister will be shipping to me in a set-price Post Office box...sorry about the box of rocks, dudes!) and I soaked up the sun and warmth to get me through the rest of the NYS winter.

Turns out I was going to need it.

We got 6" of snow a couple of days ago, and another 2 FEET or so yesterday. They declared a "no drive" state of emergency in both Delaware Cty where I live and Otsego Cty where I work. So I closed the store and stayed home to clear off the roof and hunker down until it is over. Mostly light snow now, thankfully, and the sun is coming out in patches. But lots of wet, heavy snow threatening to take down power lines, and wind gusts of over 30 MPH making even the plowed roads rough.

Is it spring yet?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Witches and Wiccans and Pagans, Oh My!

Witches and Wiccans and Pagans, Oh My: A Report from Pantheacon

Last week I crossed the entire width of the country, leaving behind my beloved cats (and my internet connection) and travelling from snowy upstate New York to sunny San Jose. I made this same trek two years ago for the same reason: to go to Pantheacon.

If you are a Pagan, going to Pantheacon is a little like going to Mecca. There are many (over a thousand, I believe, and maybe multiple thousands) Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and other cool spiritually-oriented folk who decend on the Doubletree Hotel in downtown San Jose in February for four days of workshops, rituals, parties, and socializing, all with a Pagan slant.

If you like that kind of thing, you will love Pantheacon.

I have a confession to make; I am not a social person. (Yes, I hear you all gasp in amazement.) I tend to be overwhelmed by crowds and over-loaded by all the psychic energy that goes with them. You will never find me at a rock concert. But thankfully, Pagan gatherings are an acception to this rule. And Pantheacon, for whatever reason, is the uber-exception. I always come away from it with more energy than I went in with.

There are probably a couple of reasons for this. The first is simple: I get to meet my fans. As an author, I tend to sit and write in a vacuum (no, not an actual vacuum…that would be very difficult). Other than the occasional email or Twitter exchange, I rarely know whether or not my books are having a positive impact on those I write them for. But all that changes at Pcon.

This year, I gave two workshops, one on “Crafting and Casting the Perfect Spell,” and the other on “Witchcraft on a Shoestring.” Both went really well, and I had the great pleasure of meeting a number of folks who read and enjoyed my books. I sold a bunch of the books that are already out, and signed them for people until my hand went numb—an author’s dream! And hopefully, some of the people who came to my workshops who haven’t read my books will now be curious and go take a look. As an author, there is nothing more satisfying than shaking the hand of one of your readers.

But there were other highlights as well. I got to have breakfast with my wonderful editor from Llewellyn, Elysia Gallo (we were supposed to have dinner the night before, but she had problems with her flight—a lot of folks had a hard time getting in because of bad weather across the country). We caught up on personal things and also spent some time discussing the cover colors for book number five, coming out in September. I adore this woman, and we only get to meet in person at Pcon, so I was really jazzed to be able to spend time with her.

Another highlight of the event was my invitation to a surprise 70th birthday party for one of the founders of modern witchcraft, Z. Budapest. (I would have blogged about this earlier…but it was a SEKRIT.) Z’s partner Bobbie had asked me and Elysia to lure Z. away from their room with an invite to have a drink at the bar, so Bobbie could get everything set up for the party. And then, of course, Elysia didn’t make her plane and had to catch a later one, leaving it all up to me. The pressure! But thankfully, I managed to pull it off, and when Z. and I walked back to her room an hour later, she was completely surprised! And Elysia even got there in time to get a piece of cake. Whew. It was a huge honor for me to be included in the company of many of the movers and shakers of the Pagan community, and it was all a lot of fun. (And, of course, there was cake.)

One of my goals this year was to try and attend a ritual workshop. I love my group, Blue Moon Circle, and our rituals are satisfying and magical. But there is something truly wonderful about a LARGE gathering of Pagans all creating magic together, and I hoped to attend a group ritual while at the convention. I decided to go to a Brigid Healing Ritual given by Selena Fox, another major Pagan leader (she spearheaded the fight to get the armed forces to allow the pentacle to be used on gravestones at the Arlington National Cemetery). I have written articles for her CIRCLE magazine, but I’d never had the chance to meet her or see her work.

Let me tell you—the ritual more than met my expectations. Selena did a wonderful job of tying together many different styles and approaches, even going so far as to invite a few other folks (including me) to invoke the Goddess in their own particular way. We did healing work for self, then for others, and then for the planet, and followed up by sending lots of energy to a man who is currently involved in a six-year legal battle for Pagan rights. The whole ritual was fabulous from start to finish, and by the time we were done, I was tingling from head to toe. Afterward, I went up and introduced myself and complemented her on the ritual, and she was wonderfully gracious and kind. (And then I got to hang out with her at Z’s party later, which was a bonus. A very nice lady.)

I also went to an interesting workshop on the dark side of fairy tales, given by new Llewellyn author, Kenny Klein. Kenny was a great speaker, and I got some interesting ideas for possible future novels. Later, I went to the vendors room and bought a copy of his book, THROUGH THE FAERIE GLASS, which he was kind enough to sign for me. I also picked up a few gifts for the Blue Mooners at home, including an ABC Book of Shadows for pal Robin’s kids, and a few cool stones in the shapes of cats and bats and such.

One of the greatest pleasures of Pantheacon for me is sharing the event with my step-daughter Jennifer, also a Pagan (and a member of Blue Moon Circle, although she moved to Miami 5 months ago). Jenn flew out from Florida and met me there, and we got to hang out together when we weren’t doing our separate things. As usual, she helped me with my presentations (I always refer to her as “My Entourage”) and made the entire trip easier and more fun. This year I left early to go visit with family in San Diego, so I missed some of the workshops I would have gone to, and didn’t get to meet everyone I’d hoped to. But all in all, it was a wonderful trip.

I highly recommend Pantheacon to anyone who can make it there. People come from all over the country to learn and laugh and love together in the company of those who feel and believe as they do. I truly believe that it is something that every Pagan should experience at least once in his or her lifetime. And hey, maybe you’ll meet me there some year. Blessed be!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And the winner is....

Congratulations to Tawania, who was the lucky winner of the Candace Havens book! I will contact you and arrange to send the book as soon as I get back from California. Thanks to everyone else for taking part!

And thanks for Candy for stopping by!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Candace Havens book giveaway!

One thing that most writers have in common is that they are also AVID readers. That is certainly true for me. I read anywhere from two to four books a week, usually, and have lots of favorite authors I follow, reading anything and everything they have published.

This month my writer pal Candace Havens ( a new book out, called TAKE ME IF YOU DARE. Here's the thing: all of Candy's previous books have been paranormal romance, and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED them. But the new one is a Harlequin Blaze...a romance romance, if you know what I mean. And I don't usually read straight romance, so I wasn't sure what I'd think.

Ha! I think it is great, that's what I think! Hot, hot, hot, and full of great characters, action, and um... hot, hot, hot. Think BURN NOTICE with more heat. Smirk. This is not your mother's romance. (Although I have to wonder where she learned all that stuff about Bangkok massage parlors...)

And it occurred to me that there were other folks out there who THOUGHT they didn't like romance, just like me. So I'm having a contest to give away a copy of TAKE ME IF YOU DARE to one lucky winner. (Besides, it gives me a chance to spread the word on this funny, smart, very cool lady.)

Here is all you have to do: go say hi to Candy at any of the places she hangs out online. Then come tell me you did it.

Or check out her free writing loop at

That's it--just say hi. If you don't already follow her, you might want to consider it...she's WAY cool. But you don't have to. Then come back here and tell me where you *waved* at her. At the end of the day on Tuesday the 9th, I'll pick one lucky winner [USA or Canada only, please] and contact him or her to arrange mailing of the book.

Here is a message from Candy, and a little bit about the book to pique your interest:

Hi Gang, I want to thank Deborah for letting me hang out with you today. I hope you'll all celebrate the release of Take Me If You Dare with us. I have lots of fun contests going on, and I know Deborah does too. So let's have some fun!

Take Me If You Dareby Candace Havens

For Mariska Stonegate, the gorgeous guy she's now met is everything she's looking for in a man—hot, hot and…oh, right. Hot. And just because every pore of his body screams danger and sex doesn't mean she's getting herself into too much trouble….

But Mr. Thomas isn't who he says he is. In fact, his real name is Jackson—no last names, please—and he's a burned CIA agent on the run. And he'll do just about anything to stay alive…including seducing Mariska one hot, steamy night at a time!

Let's all show Candy a little love for her new book!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My upcoming online workshop

For those who didn't get a chance to check out my guest blog earlier this week at the textnoveldivas site, here is some of the basic info on my next upcoming online workshop. Feel free to spread the word, if you are so inclined.

Beyond Fangs—The Tale of an Online Workshop

As writers, we strive to constantly hone our craft and improve our skills. Preferably without spending too much money or taking a lot of time away from our current manuscript. Online writing classes are the perfect solution. Most of them are fairly inexpensive, and you can devote as much or as little time as you chose. (Candace Havens even hosts a number of fabulous FREE workshops on her WriteChat loop. Check it out!)

I’ve taken a number of great workshops, many of them from the Low Country RWA chapter. And last year, they asked me to teach one based on my nonfiction witchcraft books from Llewellyn. The result was “Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author.” The class was fun to teach and went really well, so they asked me to teach it again this year, along with a second workshop.

At the time they asked me, I’d spent months working on the world and character building for my current urban fantasy, PENTACLES AND PENTIMENTOS. I started out by asking myself a simple question: What kind of paranormal characters can I use to people this world, without resorting to those that are currently somewhat overused. In short, NOT VAMPIRES.

Don’t get me wrong; I love vamps. And werewolves, and such. But I wanted to create a world that was completely different from anything already out there. And that meant coming up with unusual paranormals. Hence, the workshop—

Beyond Fangs: Creating New & Interesting Paranormal Characters
By Deborah Blake

Class Description:
Want to write a paranormal romance or urban fantasy, but don’t want to be just another Vamp in the crowd? Yearning to create a completely original paranormal character, but don’t know where to start? Author Deborah Blake moves beyond Vampires to delve into a wide range of paranormal folk who don’t need to hide from the sun. From Witches to Weres, Fae to Phantasms, this class will explore the alternatives to over-used supernatural stereotypes and help you to create your own unique paranormal character. The class will include a discussion of current trends, suggested reading, hints for character building, and an overview of authors who have successfully gone beyond the traditional.

The class will cover what’s already out there and a few ways to make the more common your own. It will also explore some alternatives, as well as suggest a few helpful resources for creating something new and different. And it will give an example or three from PENTACLES AND PENTIMENTOS, in case you’re curious.

If you want to know more, feel free to join me for this class. Check it out at

Happy writing!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm guest blogging!

Check out my guest blog at and find out how working on my latest novel led to the cool new online class I'm giving next month!

Pantheacon plans

In about 10 days, I will be flying (by plane, not broomstick) out to California. This rare cross-country trip has two purposes: visit my family in San Diego, and go to Pantheacon.

Pantheacon, for those of you not familiar with it, is one of the biggest Pagan conventions in the country [maybe the biggest indoor one]. It is held every year around the time of Presidents' weekend in February. This year, that means Feb. 12-15. Pantheacon takes place in San Jose at the fabulous Doubletree Hotel (although I think the location is changing as of next year). The convention itself is quite inexpensive; $75 for 4 days of workshops, rituals, and fun, fun, fun. If you live in the area and have any interest in any aspect of Paganism, you should definitely go check it out.

I will only be there for part of the long weekend, since I am combining my visit with a journey to San Diego to see family (6 days is the outside of my comfort zone for being away from home and kitties). I'll be getting in at around noon on Thursday the 11th, and leaving around 3 PM on Saturday. If you're going to be there, I hope you'll come looking for me!

The easiest way to find me will be to come to one or both of the workshops I'm giving. [When I went to my first Pcon 2 years ago, after only having one book out, I had over 60 people come to the workshop I gave. Man, did that rock!] The workshops are as follows:
"Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft without Breaking the Bank" Friday at noon, in the Silicon Valley room (2nd floor)
"Crafting and Casting the Perfect Spell" Saturday at 9 AM in the Santa Clara room (1st floor)
I hope you'll come join me! Both workshops are based in part on the books I have coming out this year, and I'll be giving away coupons for those books, and even a few free prizes! You can also get a copy of one of my current books, signed by me!

On Friday night, I will enjoy one of the highlights of the trip--having dinner and hanging out with my wonderful Llewellyn editor, Elysia Gallo. After dinner, we have "sekret" plans... I'll have to report about that after I get back. I've also promised to write up a report for pal Rebecca at The Magical Buffet.

One of the best parts of this trips--besides hanging out with cool witchy folks, buying cool witchy stuff, and generally having a great time--will be spending some time with my step-daughter, Jenn. Jenn went with me the last time, and we had a blast together. Now she is living in Miami, but she'll be flying out to join me for the Panthecon leg of the trip!

More on the trip later...I hope to see some of you there!