Friday, August 31, 2012

PaganSquare Blog! And Feline Friday

As some of you know, I have an ongoing column in the Witches & Pagans Magazine (next issue coming out soon, so if you don't have a subscription, run out and get one).

The magazine now has a new online blog site, called PaganSquare -- and my first blog post is up. I'm going to be blogging on the reoccurring theme of "Walking Your Talk." Go take a peek and come back here to tell me what you think. Is there anything in particular you'd like me to cover in future posts there, on ways to integrate your spiritual path with your (hectic and busy) everyday life? Inquiring minds want to know!

[You should also be able to find a link to subscribe to the magazine there, should you be interested.]

Coming soon...I have a surprise cover reveal for you. Do you want it tomorrow, or should I wait until Tuesday when the holiday weekend is over here in the US?

Here's your Friday Feline pics to get you through... And happy Blue Moon! Did you realize that there won't be another one until July of 2015?!

Angus being cute, as usual.
Magic the Cat. She's got an eye on you, so don't try to pull a fast one. (And no, technically she's NOT supposed to be on the table. And your point?)

Have a great Friday! And don't forget to tell me what you think of the blog post. I'm a little nervous people won't like it...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DARKBEAST: A Recommended Read

My friend Mindy Klasky just released her first middle-grade fantasy book under the name of Morgan Keyes. I was fortunate enough to read it in manuscript form, and it was one of the best books I've read in ages. (Don't let the "middle-grade" tag fool you; it is wonderful for younger readers, but also entertaining enough for folks like you and me. And if you're like my friend Lisa DiDio, who likes to read the same book her kids are reading, so they can discuss it, this is a perfect choice.)

Here is a copy of the review I put up on Amazon and B&N:
I grew up reading classic fantasy stories by such authors as Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Lloyd Alexander, and of course, Tolkien. I loved books that had strong female protagonists I could identify with, intriguing new worlds for me to get lost in, and an adventure I wanted to follow until the end (or beyond).

Author Morgan Keyes gives us all of those in her debut novel, Darkbeast. Keara is a believable, feisty, and courageous heroine, whose dedication to her companion Caw makes me root for her even when she makes mistakes. The world-building is fabulous, and reminds me of the classics of my youth, when authors created new lands I wanted to return to over and over.

This book is called a "Middle Grade" novel, and in fact I would recommend it highly to anyone looking for a good read for the younger set (it's a fast and easy read, perfect for the kid who doesn't "like" to read). But as an adult, I also found it satisfying and fun; I think it would suit anyone from 10 to 100.

If you like fantasy, you won't want to miss Darkbeast! (And if you have a favorite animal companion of your own, I'm sure they'd agree.)
Mindy/Morgan just found out today that B&N has chosen not to carry the book in its brick and mortar stores, although it will be available online and by special order. And, of course, it is on Amazon. For an author, this is a tough break, since that means that people can't just stumble across the book in a store--they have to know it exists and go looking for it. (Gives B&N a stern look.) So I'm trying to help by spreading the word. And I'd appreciate it if you would too, if you know of people you think might be interested.

 Mindy is going to guest blog here on September 21st (yay!). I'd love it if you'd run out and buy the book, then come back here (and to B&N or Amazon or Goodreads) and say how much you loved it :-)
DARKBEAST by Morgan Keyes

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shoestring Class YaHell Issues

YaHell is living up to its nickname and giving us some problems getting people signed into the Witchcraft on a Shoestring class that started this morning. *headdesk*

Heather is doing her best to help the folks who have contacted her, but if you are supposed to be taking the class and haven't gotten an invite, or haven't received a post about the first lesson yet (which went out about an hour ago), please contact either me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo or Heather "heathervlong at" and we will make sure you get into the classroom ASAP.

We're also considering a move to some other venue--anyone have any suggestions?

Sorry about the problems, if you're one of the folks having them. Remember that I always post the lessons in the "Files" so you can easily download them from there, too.

Happy Monday *headdesk again*

Friday, August 24, 2012

Feline Friday

We did it! The blog is now over 40,000 page views AND I've gotten a few new followers, which is fabulous. Thanks to everyone who helped!

And a quick reminder: you only have until 6 PM EST on Sunday to sign up for Witchcraft on a Shoestring Class

Now, to the kitty pics!
Mystic is exhausted from so much lounging around. (That's a catnip pillow he's sleeping on, made by a woman at the shop I run.)
 Magic and Mystic look like they're getting a little annoyed at me always taking pictures of them. Maybe I should stop?
Mama Minerva giving look-alike Mystic a bath. She's always been the most amazing mother cat.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Anyone have exciting plans? (I'm going to be putting up tomatoes...)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Sisters and Celebrations

Believe it or not, this glamorous, gorgeous woman is my kid sister, Becky. Today is her birthday, and she is 40-something still younger than me. (Pardon the fuzzy picture, I stole it from Facebook.)

I am blessed to have two sisters who are smart, funny, beautiful, warm, wise, and talented. Also, they both beat me at Words with Friends on a regular basis.

Happy birthday, Becky. I hope the coming year brings you new and wonderful gifts to unwrap. You deserve them.

We're going to be celebrating around here, too. Sometime today or tomorrow, this blog should hit 40,000 views
Holy crap. 

I am so grateful for everyone who comes and shares this space with me. You all rock.

So let's celebrate in style. Tell me which book of mine you would like to have and why (in the comments here) and one commenter will win a free book of their choice. You have until midnight EST tomorrow (Friday the 24th). YAY!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some Happy Thoughts

Here are a few things that made me happy in the last couple of days:

A reader posted a lovely review of Witch Ever Way You Can over on  [Here's the GREAT REVIEW if you're curious.] It completely made my morning. And reminded me that I don't really promote this book enough. Have you read it? If so, what did you think? And did you spread the word?

Yesterday afternoon, my editor at Llewellyn, the amazing Elysia Gallo, sent me the cover proof for the upcoming mini eBook, A Witch's Dozen. This is the one that is coming out as a companion to the new Everyday Witch Book of Rituals, due out in October. [Holy crap--October is soon!] The cover for the eBook was so cool, I can't wait to show it to you. I think you're going to love it as much as I did!

Clearly I need to start thinking about promotion for the new book. Anyone have any suggestions? (That don't involve travel or large expenditures of money...)

Speaking of promotions, for the first time I am doing a Goodreads giveaway for a new release. I wasn't sure if there would be any real interest in a witchcraft book, so I was really happy when I went to check on the contest yesterday and discovered that 321 people had already entered! *insert happy author dance here* If you want to win a free copy of the ritual book, be sure to enter. The contest runs until October 1st.

In general, I'm also happy that the sun is shining, it isn't 90 degrees out anymore and I am slowly clearing my desk of all the nonfiction obligations (articles, guest blogs, and such) so that I can back to work on the super sekrit novel project.

What's making you happy today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Men I Love: Recommended Reading

A quick reminder: the next online witchcraft class, "Witchcraft on a Shoestring," starts next Monday, August 27th. Registration closes on the 26th at 6 PM EST, and the class is starting to fill up. I hope to see a few of you there Witchcraft/Writing Workshop blog

I have a stack of books I want to put up in a Recommended Reading post (long overdue), but I just finished reading two that particularly knocked my socks off, so I thought I'd put them up in one post right away, since they just came out.

I realized some time ago that I seem to read a lot more women authors than men. I've never counted, but I'm guessing it is at least 65/35...maybe more. I'm not sure why this is, really. I do have some male authors I have been reading for years, like the late Dick Francis (British mysteries) and the fabulous Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files). And then there are the two men I am currently madly in love with [don't tell their wives!]--

Alex Bledsoe and Jim C. Hines

If you are a regular reader here, you have probably seen me mention Alex before. I even put up a picture of Magic the Cat hogging the new book when it first arrived that blog post. He is an incredibly imaginative and original writer, with a number of different series out, but my favorite has always been his Eddie LeCrosse books. Eddie is a sword jockey--like a cross between a 50's private detective and a sword and sorcery hero. His adventures started with The Sword-Edged Blonde and continue with his 4th Eddie book, Wake of the Bloody Angel. There are pirates (including a mostly-retired pirate queen who is one of the best female protagonists I've seen in years), monsters, and well as Eddie's unconventional and enduring love story. This was undeniably the best of them all: gripping, funny, and smart. You're going to want to read this book.

Jim C. Hines is another one with a couple of different series. I adored his Princess series, with kick-ass heroines based on fairy tale princesses like Snow White (but not like any Disney princess you've ever seen, I promise you!). He just started a new "Magic Ex Libris" series, beginning with LIBRIOMANCER in which the hero is a magic user and a librarian. Oh, man--you had me at librarian! This book sucked me in from the first page and didn't let go until I finally put it down at 2 in the morning. (*shakes fist at Jim*) This is another one that featured a female side-protagonist who was completely original, likeable, and fascinating. Hines creates an entire world of magical use involving books; it is unlike anything I've ever read before and will appeal to the reader-geek in everyone. I can't wait for the next book in this series, and to find out what happens with love affair that was revealed at the end of this one. I'd give this book six stars, if I could. 

So here are two more books I can recommend highly. What are you reading now that you recommend?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today's Harvest OMG CARROTS

Most years I struggle to get my carrots to grow. I'm not sure why. But I tend to throw a LOT of seeds into the ground in the hope of getting a few. For some reason, this year...
They seem to be doing pretty well :-) That's about 2/3rds of what's out there, maybe a bit less. And no, you're not imagining it...some of them are purple. They're a kind called "Purple Haze" and they taste sweeter than a regular carrot and have extra beta carotene. Also, they're pretty. I think that's important in a carrot, don't you?

Of course, not all carrots are pretty. Some are kind of...perverse looking. LOL
So--anyone have any good carrot recipes???

Here's today's Frog Prince picture
And the rest of today's harvest
Three kinds of potatoes, a few tomatoes, two scrawny ears of corn (not a good corn year, alas) and also, a huge bunch of edamame (soybeans) that I need to take off the plants and cook.

I'd forgotten I put a copy of the upcoming Everyday Witch Book of Rituals up on a Goodreads giveaway last week, and was amazed to discover that there were almost 300 people entered already! You can enter HERE.

And don't forget that the new online class, Witchcraft on a Shoestring class is going to start on August 27th over on the workshop loop. Registration is open now, and one lucky participant will be gifted with a signed copy of the new ritual book as soon as it comes out!

So, about those carrot recipes...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Day at the Opera

I went to the opera today.

It was pretty damned cool.

Mind you, I have very wide and eclectic tastes in music, thanks primarily to my parents who also had wide and eclectic tastes in music, and went out of their way to expose their children to everything from classical, to jazz, to folk, to rock and roll. [Side note: Dad, you still have my Santana album...] But I don't really go out of my way to listen to opera much these days.

Still, a few months ago, when my writer pal Nancy Holzner (who is a huge opera fan) suggested that we go to see Aida at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, I responded with an enthusiastic, YOU BET! For one thing, I really enjoy Nancy's company, and since we live about 2 hours away from each other, I rarely get to see her. For another, I am working hard at getting out of my work/write/garden/chores rinse and repeat rut, and this seemed like a perfect excuse for a day out.

And you know what? It was! We had a lovely day; the weather cooperated (which was questionable), the food was good, the company was great--we got to catch up on each other's lives and talk writing, writing, and a little more writing--and the opera itself was just fantastic. The singers who played Aida (Michelle Johnson) and Amonasro, Aida's father (Eric Owens) were simply stellar, and overall the production was terrific, although we both agreed that a few of the modern touches were a little jarring.

Still, a terrific day out, as you can clearly see:

It helps that the setting is so lovely. The elephants, a nod to the occasionally over-the-top productions of Aida, are the work of a local artist and being used as a fundraiser.

Big thanks to Nancy for coming up with such a great idea, and for spending such a great day with me! (And signing my copy of her latest book while she was here...)

What have you all done recently to get out of your usual "same old same old" rut?

And did you notice that the blog is almost at 40 THOUSAND PAGE VIEWS??? Holy crap! I'll have to do something to celebrate when we hit the big 40K!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Feline Friday: Magic the Cat Version

Yes, cat lovers, it is that time again. Well, Friday, of course, but also a day when I am so exhausted (from thunderstorms all last evening and on and off all night) that the only way I can manage a post is to simply put up cute cat pictures. Thankfully, I have a never-ending supply...since Magic the Cat is happy to sprawl all over the house being photogenic.

Here ya go, and happy Friday!

Here is Magic lying on my shiny new copy of Alex Bledsoe's Wake of the Bloody Angel which I finally wrestled away from her so I could read it. And man, was it worth it. This book is GREAT!

So, what do y'all have planned for the weekend? I'm going to be out in the garden and yard (once the next batch of thunderstorms passes through this afternoon and evening--gah), going to the dump, and working on some nonfiction projects so I can clear my plate and get back to the current novel. Yes, my life IS glamorous, isn't it ?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Harvest from the Garden

I'm still waiting for the BIG harvest from my labors (you know, that book deal for my novel...coming ANY DAY NOW). In the meanwhile, I'm still working on my more mundane harvest--fruits and veggies from the garden.

I love my garden: it's beautiful, I get amazing (organic) food to eat out of it, and often it acts as a kind of therapy. There is nothing like digging in the dirt to ground and center your spirit in the midst of an often chaotic world. And if you happen to be able to eat a tomato afterwards, that's nice too :-) On the downside, of course, it is a hella lot of work and I never quite feel like I'm keeping up. So on my Wednesdays off from the shop, I can often be found outside, trimming and weeding and harvesting. Here's what came in from the garden yesterday:

 This is what it looked like when I dragged it all in (seriously, the basket was HEAVY). Basil, the last of the yellow and red onions, carrots, potatoes, a few strawberries, and one tiny red pepper. The long green stuff in front is the first few stalks from the soy bean patch. I grow them for edamame (eaten fresh, like peas--just throw them into boiling water, pop them out of the pods, then eat).
 Cleaned up, don't these look great? Three kinds of pototoes: Yukon Gold (they keep well, so I'll be eating them all winter--that's the big white ones), small red (some of which got pretty large), and my favorite, French fingerling. You'll probably think the carrots look funny. I grow a kind called "Purple Haze" that is actually purple and not only has extra antioxidants but tastes sweeter.
 Here's the basil, a bit more neatly put together in water, waiting for me to make it into pesto today. YUM.
This is the final, cleaned garlic harvest. Do you think I have enough? Actually, the largest half of that batch will get replanted in the fall for next year's harvest. The rest...well, I'm going to be eating a lot of garlic!

If you have a garden, what are you harvesting now? If you don't have one, what would you grow if you could pick any three edible plants? (I'd love to have blood oranges and Meyer lemons, but they don't grow here in the Northeast, alas. My parents, on the other hand, have an amazing lemon tree in their back yard in San Diego. Jealous!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

NEW CLASS: Witchcraft on a Shoestring & GIVEAWAY

As many of you know, my last book from Llewellyn was a little treasure called Witchcraft on a Shoestring which was full of suggestions for ways to practice Witchcraft without breaking your budget. It included all sorts of Craft crafts (heheheheh) and recipes, and a lot more.

Because so many people seemed to like this topic, I've added it as a class over on the Witchcraft & Writing Workshop Loop. The class runs August 27th-29th and only costs $15. Registration is open now, so why not make my day and run over and sign up now? No, really...I'll wait :-)

As a special bonus, since we're getting close to the release date of my next book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (official release date October 8th, but I will get a few author copies some time in September), I am giving away a copy of the new book to one of the people who takes this class!

That's right, you read that correctly: one of the folks who takes the Witchcraft on a Shoestring class will receive a pre-release, signed copy of my new book. And what's more, I don't care where you live. I'll send the book to whichever class attendee is chosen at random, even if she/he is one of my Australia fans.

So go sign up now. And if you get a friend to sign up, come back here and let me know, and I'll enter your name TWICE.

Yes, it has been very hot here and I'm a little punchy...why do you ask?

[If you want a chance to win a copy of the new book, and aren't interested in taking this class, don't despair--I'll be doing more giveaways between now and October, I promise.] 

I hope to see you in class. We always have a great time!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Recommended Reading: DARKLANDS by Nancy Holzner

They call it Deadtown: the city’s quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its border—but Victory Vaughn, Boston’s only professional demon slayer, isn’t exactly human…

Boston’s demons have been disappearing, and Vicky’s clients are canceling left and right. While fewer demons might seem like a good thing, Vicky suspects foul play. A missing Celtic cauldron from Harvard’s Peabody museum leads her to an unwelcome conclusion: Pryce, her demi-demon cousin and bitter enemy, is trying to regain his full powers.

But Pryce isn’t alone. He’s conjured another, darker villain from Vicky’s past. To stop them from destroying everything she loves, she’ll have to face her own worst fear—in the realm of the dead itself.
I have been reading Nancy Holzner's "Deadtown" series since the first one came out a few years ago. The novels (Deadtown, Hellforged, Bloodstone, and now Darklands) have grown better and better with each release--the characters more compelling, the action more exciting, the romantic subplot more, well, romantic. Vicky is a believable and likable protagonist, despite her flaws, and Kane, the werewolf lawyer she in involved with, literally walks through Hell to be with her.

Holzner not only provides nonstop action from page one, she also accomplishes a feat that most writers find nearly impossible: summing up the important information from previous books so well, you can pick up book four and read it without having read any of the previous novels. (Although I highly recommend them all, and once you get hooked on this series, I promise you will want to follow Vicky's journey from the very beginning.)

She also accomplished the impossible in creating an unusual and sympathetic zombie character--something I (not a zombie fan, usually) would have bet against. This author is one not to miss. Highly recommended. 5 Stars! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Feline Friday: The Pirate Book Version

I was going to post a cute cat picture, and then a picture of the new Alex Bledsoe novel, Wake of a Bloody Angel [follow this link for more info and some cool music], which he was kind enough to send me.

But Magic the Cat very kindly decided to combine the two:

What can I say? She loves a good Eddie LaCrosse book, especially when it has PIRATES. Arg!

I love this series sooooo much. Alex is one of the cleverest authors around, and his combination of noir detective novel and sword and sorcery fantasy is the most original thing I've ever read. Since Magic clearly isn't willing to share, I guess you'll have to get your own :-)

the book on Amazon

Have you read any of Alex's books yet? I'd love to know what you think. If not, what book would you recommend for Magic to read next?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Barn Roof: Before and After

You might remember back in May when I posted this picture of my barn roof:

Thanks to the fabulous George, it now looks like this:
And this (from the other side, in brighter light):
Happiness is a new barn roof :-)