Monday, November 29, 2010

The Artisans' Guild

As some folks know, in my "day job" I run an artist's cooperative shop featuring the work of 50 local and regional artists, located in Oneonta, NY. In case you were wondering, this is what we're doing in December:

The Artisans’ Guild, located at 148 Main Street in Oneonta, will be hosting their first ever “Customer Appreciation Day” on Sunday, December 5th, from 12-4. Refreshments will be served, and there will be a 10% off sale of almost everything in the shop. During the Downtown Open House on Saturday December 11th, the Artisans’ Guild will have free gift wrapping, thanks to the local food pantries. Bring in a nonperishable food donation and volunteers will wrap your small or medium sized gift from 10 to 3. From 3 to 5 on the 11th, come in and sample the wonderful beers of Brewery Ommegang! The Artisans’ Guild’s 50 local artists hope that you will shop locally and support your community, and thank you for your ongoing support. Happy holidays!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Duck! Or, it's all research when you're a writer.

I spent all day Thanksgiving cooking, even though it was just me (and the cats). But I figure that since I'm working on a "foodie" romance, it's all research :-)

Here is the duck that was the centerpiece of dinner.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

I try to give thanks every day, but on this day--Thanksgiving--I thought I'd share a few of the things I'm grateful for...

I'm grateful for my wonderful family (all of whom, alas, live too far away for me to spend the day with them), my amazing friends (who keep putting up with me, year after year) and my beloved cats--Magic, Mystic, Minerva, Angus and Samhain (who was kind to me today and sat very still for her fluids, even after I stuck her twice with the first, dull, needle).

I am grateful especially for the ladies of Blue Moon Circle, who make my life extra magical, and to the fabu Lisa DiDio, Queen of the Critique Partners, who has brought more to my life than I can ever put into words, much of it having nothing whatsoever to do with writing. Thanks for everything, including bringing out the Uggs when I need my butt kicked :-)

I am grateful for the writers who stir the cauldron with me at Creativity Cauldron--thanks for liking my online classes so much that you never wanted them to end. You make me feel very special.

Thanks too, to the Betties at for all the FGBV's, the bacon, the sex, and OMG, the Old Spice Guy. [For everyone not a Betty, and currently confused, well, all I can say is, it makes sense if you're in on the joke.] And I am uber-grateful to Lucy herself, for the community, and for the personal support. You rock, Lucy! (And your little bald Betty, too. And Jenny, whose writing inspires me.)

I am thankful for home, and health, and a job I like (mostly)--in fact, in these days, I'm thankful to have a job at all. Thankful for the food on my table, and those who work and sacrifice to put it there.

Thankful for the creativity that allows me to follow my dreams.

And REALLY, REALLY thankful for my agent, Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency. Together, we're going places.

I hope that whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving, you will take a moment out to say thank you for whatever good things you have in your life. And know that I am thankful for you--my readers, fans, friends, and followers. You people rock, big time.

Here's wishing you a lovely, relaxing day.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jewelry Making

I don't have just one job. My "real" job, as Executive Director and manager of The Artisans' Guild is part time (due to the limitations of a not-for-profit's budget, and my own desire to have the time to do other things). So I do a bunch of "jobs" all of which, taken together, more or less make up one reasonably manageable income. As long as I don't go crazy buying books. Or, ya know, food.

As most people know, these days my second--and often first--job is writing. Currently I am working on two novels and one nonfiction proposal, along with the usual blogging, keeping up with networking, and The Creativity Cauldron.

But from now until the end of the holiday season, my OTHER main job gets priority: jewelry making.

I'm been making gemstone jewelry for over 20 years (man, how did THAT happen?)and selling it professionally, both at the shop and at various craft shows and other stores. And yes, I do special orders, on occasion :-)

For those who have asked, here are some pictures of some of the jewelry I've made:

And you thought I was just sitting around doing nothing...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe sings the "Elements" song!

I have been very bad about blogging lately, I know. It is coming into the crazy time of the year when I try to juggle writing and jewelry making and holidays and extra hours at the shop.

So to hold you over until I can do a real blog post (hopefully tomorrow), here is a YouTube clip of the adorable Daniel Radcliffe (from Harry Potter, for all of you who have spent the last 10 years living in a cave) singing Tom Lehrer's "Elements" song on a recent episode of the BBC's The Graham Norton Show.

(click on the title to get an easy link, or copy and paste this:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guest blog at AzureGreen!

As many of you know, in addition to my work as an author and a shop manager, I also make jewelry. (And I used to sell a few Pagan items in a friend's shop, to boot.) I have been buying supplies and books for a bazillion years from a company called AzureGreen that specializes in Pagan, Witchcraft and New Age supplies, books, and generally cool stuff. They are a small company, run like a close-knit family, and have always been super-supportive of my writing, even though I have never met any of them in person. (And the goods they sell are fabulous, and the customer service is second to none.)

So I was particularly honored when they started a new blog, and asked me if I would kick things off by writing the first blog post.

I hope you'll go read it, and leave a comment to show them they picked the right Witch for the job :-)


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guest post with author Tia Nevitt

As some of you know, I do a guest book review from time to time on Tia Nevitt’s fabulous site, DEBUTS & REVIEWS. She is a terrific supporter of both new and established authors, and a great cheerleader for the writing community in general.

What you may not know is that Tia herself is an author. Her first book, THE SEVENFOLD SPELL,a completely original retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, has just come out from Carina Press in ebook form. Yay Tia! (Ahem.)

One of the things that fascinated me about this book was the cover. I mean, it’s an ebook, right? So why have a cover at all? And it is one of the most beautiful and eye-catching covers I have ever seen, to boot. So I asked Tia if she would come to my blog and talk about covers, and her experience.
Take it away, Tia:

A Cover Art Story

Over the summer, just after I finished the final copyedits for The Sevenfold Spell, I received an unexpected email. It contained what was called a “Carina Press Art Fact Sheet” and it was my chance to give input to my cover art. I had, of course, heard horror stories about cover art, but as in all other aspects of working with Carina Press and Harlequin, those stories did not apply.

I had no idea how much detail they wanted. So I erred on “overkill”.

The artist for my cover art is Frauke Spanuth, a German artist who runs a company called CrocoDesigns. She has a vast portfolio of cover art, print ads and websites.

Here are some direct quotes from that form that Frauke actually used.

“SETTING COMMENTS: I think a dark setting would work for this story, perhaps with some subtle fairy magic where appropriate. See the question on visual elements below for more details.”

And here is the section I referred to.

2) What interesting visual elements (either object or place) have great significance in this book?

The spinning wheel is the most important visual element, followed by the fairies’ spells.

From my research, I’ve learned that spindles aren’t particularly sharp. They are simply a thin dowel of wood with a base, which spins and collects the yarn onto a bobbin. If the spindle/bobbin assembly was partially empty, it would be possible to slam your hand through it only if accompanied by great force (which is what happens in my story).

This one has a visibly sharp spindle, but I’m not sure how historically accurate it is:

Fairy magic is an important visual element. I describe the fairy magic as the typical dancing sparks you’d see in a Disney movie. However, Disney overdoes it nowadays; I much prefer the vision of fairy magic from Fantasia. Here is a fairy working her magic from the Nutcracker sequence in Fantasia.

Check out the blooms of magic at the bottom of this image:

Love these understated magic effects:

Here’s another one with the fairies:

Frauke granted my wish when it came to the melancholy mood and the magic effects, and I just love the bobbin. The astronomical effects, the girl covered by the leaves, and the book all came from Frauke and the artistic team.

The open book along the bottom, in my mind, was an inspired idea. Aideen, who emailed me the cover, said that she envisioned it as a continuity look for future volumes. And when they had a big ad on Carina Press the week The Sevenfold Spell released, the book was a prominent element.

The cover was nothing like what I envisioned, but my first thought was that it was beautiful. And a lot of reviewers are having the same impression; many of them say that they just love the cover. One person said she saw it at Dear Author, and wanted to read it because she fell in love with the cover.

Therefore, the cover is doing its most important job—it is selling books.

Have you ever fallen in love with a cover and bought the book because you hoped the story within lived up to the promise without? In the comments, I’ll share about a book that disappointed me in this aspect.

Thanks for joining us, Tia!
Check her out at -- and don't forget to run out and get a copy of her book!