Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Holiday Weekend

How was your holiday weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Saturday was mostly spent doing gardening and housework, but Sunday was a relax and have fun day (although it was, in part, research for my current series, which features a hero who is a Seneca Indian). My best pal Ellen and I went to the Fenimore Museum in Cooperstown, NY--they have a fabulous collection of Native American art, including, at the moment, the Thaw Collection, which has been traveling the country. If you live anywhere near there, I highly recommend it.

Ellen and I went for the day's event, an Iroquois Festival. (The Seneca are one of a number of tribes who are collectively known as Iroquois, in case you didn't know.) There was amazing Native singing and dancing
And the folks doing it were lovely and friendly, besides being talented. In case you can't tell, I'm the one second from the right, with my arm around the cute guy :-)
I got to see a genuine bark longhouse, one of which I used in my book, SEEDS OF CHANGE. And was happy to see I got all my facts right :-)

And there were a lot of Native American vendors selling truly beautiful crafts and art--including this barrette, which I couldn't resist. (Because I have long hair, I tend to collect cool hair doodads...and this not only was my colors, but it had stars!)
Not only did I get to enjoy the museum, the Festival, and do research at the same time, and spend the day with one of my oldest friends, it was one of those rare *perfect* upstate NY days...low 80's, not too humid, sunny, and hardly any bugs. All in all, a wonderful day.

Then on Monday, I came back to reality, and spent some time in the hot & muggy morning, pulling massive amounts of weeds to reclaim the sort-of flower beds at the front of the house. I should have taken a "before" picture--but it would just have looked like a mess of overgrown unidentifiable greenery. This is what it looked like "after."

As you can see, once the heaping wheelbarrow full of weeds was removed, there wasn't much left...guess I need to buy some perennials to plant there. It gets full sun, and of course, it is Zone 4, so not much survives the winter. Any suggestions?

I hope you had a lovely weekend too. Anything you want to share about what you did?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Broken Barn Blues--Part One "Before"

This is the barn where Deb lives:
No, I don't live IN the barn. The house is off to the right, where you can't see it. That box is a strawberry bed, in case you were wondering. And my permanent ritual circle is up behind the barn. The downstairs of the barn is a garage, where I park my car and store all my gardening stuff.

This is the roof of the barn where Deb lives:
No, it's not supposed to look like that. In case you don't know much about barns, or roofs, what you are looking at is rolled roofing (as opposed to shingles) which was put on right after I moved in, ten and a half years ago. Rolled roofing can last anywhere from five to fifteen years. In upstate NY...well, let's just say that I was lucky to get ten. You can see that it is starting to buckle and pull up. This is, in professional roofing terms, Not Good.

I got a couple of estimates from professional roofers to replace it. You might have heard the screaming and sobbing from where you are. Luckily, my friend George (the husband of my friend Robin, who I often "rent" to do jobs that are too big for me to handle or require skills sets I the ability to use power tools without slicing off an important body part) was willing to tackle the project, which included some fairly substantial structural repairs inside the barn roof as well. It is still going to cost a Crapload of Money (multiple thousands) to put a new metal roof up there, but once I do, it won't have to be redone again.

And the metal for the roof comes in different colors :-) Anyone have a guess which color I picked?

In the meanwhile, the amount of money I'm having to spend (after having to put a new roof on the HOUSE last year!) is making me twitch a little. So if the gods could see their way clear to sending me a nice multiple-book publishing contract for my new novel, which is about to go out on submission, I would really appreciate it.

So--what color do you think I am putting on the barn roof? And if you had one, what color would you use?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Russians are Coming! And Timely Reminders

I got something cool in the mail yesterday from my publishers, Llewellyn. Check it out:
Don't worry if you're having a hard time reading it--it's not you :-) What you're looking at is the Russian version on my third book, The Goddess is in the Details You can click on the link to see what it looks like here.

How cool is that? (Giggle.)

Also, a quick reminder: I will be on the radio (an online podcast, too, or you can listen through your phone at 1-858-683-1309) Saturday night, 9-10 PM EST at

And my next online witchcraft class (also useful for those writing witchy characters) starts Monday morning. But registrations closes at 6 PM EST Sunday night, so if you wanted to take it, better go sign up now!
 Workshop Info and Sign Up

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend,
Deborah heading out to the garden

Monday, May 14, 2012

Live from New York, It's Me...

New York State, that is. No, I'm not going to be on Saturday Night Live (I wish). But I am going to be on the Dr. John radio show, where he discusses all sorts of paranormal and unusual stuff. Any guesses which category I fall under?

I'll be talking live with him this Saturday night, 9-10 PM, EST. You can tune in and listen online, if you've got nothing better to do with your Saturday night. Feel free to wear your jammies and have a glass of wine!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Cat for Every Window

Now that the weather is warming up and I can finally open windows again after a long (and stuffy) winter, I am amused to see that the cats have apparently been as eager for this event as I have been.

Of course, each cat has his or her favorite window--and gods help the other cat who dares to try and sit there.

 Minerva prefers the bathroom window.
 Mystic likes the living room window. Probably because it is large enough to accommodate his bulk.
Samhain, on the other hand, insists on the kitchen window, despite the fact that she has to cross the (off limits) counter to get there. Still, it does keep her safe from Mystic, so I let her get away with it. There's no way Mystic would fit up here!
Of course, there are cats who don't care about Angus, who decided to stretch out on the dining room table, despite the "no cats on tables" rule. When I scolded him, he gave me a look that I'm pretty sure meant, "But MOM, this is where the sun is!"

I hope you are all having as much fun with your "kids" as I have with mine.

Oh, and don't forget, there is only a week left to sign up for the next online class. Herbal Magick & Kitchen Alchemy -- it won't be given again until next year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Murmuration: The Magic of Nature

I've seen this a few places online before, but a friend sent it to me again, so I thought I'd share.

– here’s another mystery of nature:
No one knows why they do it. Yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland. The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter’s frigid bite. Scientists aren’t sure how they do it, either. The starlings' murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence, which in different contexts is practised by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants. As far as I am aware, even complex algorithmic models haven’t yet explained the starlings’ aerobatics, which rely on the tiny birds' quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions—and predators—in the giant flock.
Despite their tour de force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a decline in suitable nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain’s rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after their evening ballet.
Two young ladies were out for a late afternoon canoe ride and fortunately one of them remembered to bring her video camera. What they saw was a wonderful murmuration display, caught in the short video - URL is below. Watch the variation of colour and intensity of the patterns that the birds make in proximity to one other. And take a look at the girl in the bow of the canoe watching the aerial display. Enjoy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Writing Biz: Why Writers Write

I get questions all the time about the writing business and what it means to be a professional author. I thought I would start discussing a few of the basics know, in between pictures of cute cats. Let me know if you have any particular questions, and I'll try to answer them.

Here's the one I've been pondering this week: why do writers write?

Obviously, I can answer that question for myself. But I also have a LOT of friends who are writers, and read the blogs of many of the authors I admire but haven't as yet had a chance to stalk get to know. And actually, it turns out that on this subject, we all agree.

Let me tell you: it's not for the money. I have a few friends who are actually more or less making a living writing, but almost everyone I know has a day job, a significant other with a day job, or both. [I'll talk about the money part more on a later blog post.] Contrary to popular belief, VERY FEW authors get rich. Or even make a living wage.

The fame? Well, not so much. I am finally getting to the point in my career where some people know who the heck I am--if they're Pagans, and if they read. Famous, I'm not. (Although I do get a kick out of it when my grown step-daughter calls me and says she met another Witch, told them who her mother was, and they said, "You know Deborah Blake! Wow." Giggle.)

So why do we do it? Why spend hour after hour writing, when there is a good chance that no one but your first readers, your mom, and some agents will see it (you know, before they reject it)? Or, for the published and reasonably successful folks, why do it when you could make a lot more money doing something else? And have paid vacations that aren't spent scribbling some idea that popped into your head just as you started to relax.

Because you can't NOT write. That's why.

As some of you know, I've been working on my latest novel for about 4 months (not counting the prep time pre-holidays, which was another month or two). I finally finished revisions a week ago and sent the manuscript off to my agent with a huge sigh of relief. I was going to get my life back!

My plan was--and still is--to take a couple of weeks off from writing so I could catch up on the jewelry making, the garden, the yard, and some social obligations...all of which NEED to be done, and I'm way behind on every single one.

And yet...I started thinking about what happens in the next book in the series (following the one I just sent to Elaine), and jotting down a few notes, so I don't forget them. My acquisitions editor at Llewellyn had an idea for a small, fun book that she passed along to me in case I was interested. So I started doing a little research, pondered an outline, and took some notes on that too. And there is the humorous paranormal novel I started at the time I was fighting the beginning of Seeds of Change, purely as comic relief. I'd REALLY like to get back to that one...

I need to stick (mostly) to my plan to catch up with the rest of my life. But the voices in my head are getting louder...

If you write, do you find it is hard to NOT write? If you're not a writer, is there anything you get obsessive about doing? (And no--playing Angry Birds doesn't count. Something creative, like knitting, or making music, or cooking...)

Deb, getting ready to go to her day job (and thinking about the theme for her next Witches & Pagans Magazine column)

Oh, and since it is Friday, here's a Feline Friday picture, just for the heck of it.

That's Mystic, who somehow still manages to look cute and adorable, even though he's huge. (Seriously, look at the size of those paws!)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Class: Herbal Magick & Kitchen Alchemy

Registration is now open for my next class at the Witchcraft & Writing loop--and this one is going to be FUN! 

Run and tell everyone you think might be interested, then go sign up. Or sign up, then tell everyone. Whichever works for you :-)

Hope to see you there! I'm off to stir up something magickal in the kitchen...

Herbal Magick and Kitchen Alchemy 
For: Anyone interested in the use of herbs and food in magick, whether for a witchcraft practice or a witchy character in a novel—or even just for fun. Recipes included!

When is a cup of tea not just a cup of tea? When it is magick! Herbs and food have been used for centuries to augment a magickal life. Whether it was the wife who “sweetened” her husband’s temperament by adding special herbs to his dinner, or the village herbalist/wise woman who cured the ills that beset body, heart, and spirit, herbs and food as an easy, inexpensive, and unobtrusive way to work magick into your everyday life.
The class will include suggestions for the safest, easiest ways to use herbs and food for magickal purposes, as well as simple recipes, reading recommendations, and more. So fix yourself a cup of tea and come join us!

Time: 3 days
Cost: $15
Date: May 21-23
Optional Texts: Witchcraft on a Shoestring


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cool News in Publishers Weekly--Llewellyn and Yours Truly

Some of you have heard me talk about my (not so) sekret project -- something new coming out from Llewellyn right before the next book.

So you can imagine how tickled I was to find out that I was mentioned in a Publishers Weekly article about the new cool thing!

Llewellyn launches eshorts program

Look ma, I'm *famous* :-)