Monday, November 26, 2012

An Accidental NANOWRIMO

Some of you may be deep into the writing rollercoaster ride from hell that is NANOWRIMO. If so, I hope it is going well! For those of you who aren't writers, NANOWRIMO is short for National Novel Writing Month--November, in which authors are challenged to write a 50K word novel (or a portion of one) in one month. Not impossible, but damned difficult.

I actually did NANO with my novel, Pentacle and Pentimentos, which eventually got me my agent Elaine Spencer. In theory, you're supposed to just sit and write the first draft with no editing along the way, but I can't write that way. Luckily, I had done a detailed outline first, so I still managed to finish.

This year, there was no way I was going to take on NANO, because I was already deep into the end stages of writing THE CURRENT NOVEL (I swear, I'll tell you the name soon). But one of the things I do when I am deep into the process is to write my daily word totals on my white board as a kind of running tally. I find that it really keeps me motivated. This is what the board looked like for the last of this novel:

You can see (if you squint) that it includes the date, the page I'm on, the total word count so far, the number of words done that day, and the guestimate percentage of book done (I started out thinking the book was 90K long and it turned out to be 105K, so my guestimate was way off until near the end).

That first date is 10/14 and I was at about 50K words. The last date is 11/7 and that was when I typed "THE END" at about 105K words. When I stopped to figure it out, I'd written 54,485 words in 25 days.


So I guess you could say I did NANO after all, kinda sorta by accident. *blinks* Mind you, the first half of the book took months, and went slower than usual, so there is that to balance out the gloating.

Now, of course, I still have to do edits based on the notes from my first readers, and the feedback from Elaine. But still, it was kind of cool to see what I'd done. What can I say? When the book decides it's coming out--it's coming out!

Who here is doing NANOWRIMO this year, and how is it going?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving at Casa Deb & Black Friday at The Artisans' Guild

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving (except those of you who don't live in the US and therefore don't which case I hope you had a nice Thursday).

Mine was quiet. I had a nice meal (I roasted a small piece of lamb with some root veggies from my garden, and made my friend Robin's wonderful creamed spinach recipe) with a glass of prosecco. Yum. And lots of leftovers so I wouldn't have to cook on Friday and Saturday, when I worked longer than usual hours at the store.
But mostly I spent the day doing this:
 That's the end result of playing with all these supplies...
And no, you can't see my living room for the beads...why do you ask?

But it was worth it, since the big turquoise necklace sold an hour after I opened the doors on Friday :-)

Besides, my supervisor yells at me if I slack off just because it is a holiday.
I'm happy to say that not everyone spent Black Friday at the mall, since we had a busy and successful day at The Artisans' Guild. I get kind of a kick out of having the store filled with happy shoppers and browsers...

Definitely looking forward to having the day off tomorrow, though. If by day off, you mean "make more jewelry and work on edits."

It's a fun life :-)

So, how was your Thanksgiving? And what did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday: The Jewelry Edition

Let me start by saying that I hate shopping. I know...that's practically un-American, and un-womanly...but there you are. I also really dislike the concept of spending a lot of money on things made in China or elsewhere, when there are all sorts of wonderful gift items made right here. I am a big believer in shopping locally (keeping the money in the community) and buying items made/created by local folks whenever possible. Of course, this may have something to do with why I run The Artisans' Guild, featuring the work of 50+ local and regional artists and craftspeople. Including, of course, my jewelry.

A few folks have expressed interest in buying my jewelry here, rather than through Etsy (which is unwieldy to use from my point of view, although it does a good job of making things simple-ish for the buyer). So here's what we're going to do. I'm probably going to put more jewelry up on Etsy next week sometime (after I survive Black Friday and Support Small Business Saturday at the shop...which actually can be pretty pleasant and much lower key than being at the mall or someplace), but in the meanwhile, I'm going to run my own little Black Friday sale right here.

I've never tried this it is an experiment. We'll see how it goes. Here's how it will work:

I'm going to put up a bunch of pictures of jewelry, with info about the stones, the length, and the original price. Then I'll put up the sale price that will be good through the end of Friday the 23rd. 

If you want to buy a piece, FIRST leave a comment saying so here, so other folks will know that piece is taken. (Almost everything I make is one of a kind, although I can often do something similar.) THEN email me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo to arrange payment and tell me where to ship it. If you want me to make earrings to go with any necklace, I can do that too.

Payment can be made through Paypal (easy peasey) or I'll take personal checks if you don't want to use a charge card there. As soon as the check clears, I'll send out the jewelry. Shipping will probably run about $5.00 for most sales, unless I am sending it out of the country. 

BONUS GIFT: Anyone who spends over $100 will also receive  (if they want one) a signed copy of my new book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (which I will happily sign to you or a friend) or any one of my earlier books. Folks who aren't interested in the witchcraft books can get a free copy of my eBook Witch Ever Way You Can

So, here are the pieces:
 Tree agate leaf necklace with Czech glass beads
22" long, $75

Tree agate leaf earrings (sterling silver earwires) $30

Red Jasper shell necklace/20" long/$75 $62
Red Jasper faceted necklace/16" long/$56 $49 
Red Jasper twist earrings (gold filled earwires) $28 $23 [Note: Red Jasper is great for protection]

 Peach Aventurine leaf w/ white agate necklace & gold filled beads/16" long/$56 $49
(matching earrings available $26 $21 gold filled earwires) {slightly orangy-er than in the picture)
Tree Agate shell necklace/22" long/$75 $62

Pewter twist earrings with green Czech glass & sterling silver wires $28 $23
Carnelian dragon with carnelian, black onyx &pewter beads/22" plus drop/$89 $72
Fancy Jasper circle necklace/22"/$79 $64 Fancy Jasper circle earrings (gold wires) $30 $25
 Turquoise drop earrings with coral (sterling) $32 $26
Pewter lady moon with crystal drop, turquoise and coral necklace/18" plus drop/ $85 $72

Please feel free to ask me any questions about the pieces, and pretty please spread the word if you know anyone who might be interested! Happy shopping...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recommended Reading: The Firefly Witch

As most of you know, I have a particular fondness for stories about witches (good ones, usually, as opposed to the typical evil witch). If fact, many of my own novels feature witch characters of one sort or another. If you liked my book Witch Ever Way You Can and its follow-up short story Witch Upon a Star then you're going to love this collection of short stories about one of my favorite witch characters, the Firefly Witch.

If you've been around here for a while, then you've probably heard me talk about my author pal Alex Bledsoe, author of multitudinous grand and fabulous novels, including my favorites, the Eddie LaCrosse series. But what you may not know is that when he was starting out, Alex wrote a number of short stories about a character called the Firefly Witch, most of them published in the BBI Media magazine that predated the Witches & Pagans Magazine I write for today.

Luckily for those of us who missed them the first time around, Alex has put some of these stories out in eBook anthologies. Check it out:
Don't you love that cover? This is the first anthology, in which you meet Tanna, a woman with very special gifts, and Ry Tully, the man who eventually becomes her husband.
In these three short stories a small-town reporter meets a beautiful witch who shows him how mysterious, and dangerous, the world can truly be.

When small-town reporter Ry Tully meets the woman of his dreams, he has no idea what he's getting into.

Tanna is blind, but when fireflies are around, she can see. She's a graduate student in parapsychology, and psychic herself. She's also a second-degree Wiccan priestess--a witch. And her primary duty is to help those in need, whether living, dead, or otherwise.

Will Ry be able to forge a relationship with a woman so different from anyone he's known? Will Tanna rise to the challenges of both her new love, and her chosen path? And will the dark corners of the world be ready for the Firefly Witch?
The Firefly Witch (Amazon) The Firefly Witch (B&N)
There are a couple more anthologies that follow this unusual couple through their increasingly unusual (and sometimes creepy) adventures. One of the things I love about these stories is the way they show Tanna and Ry's always-steady love for one another, no matter what comes.
Croaked (Firefly Witch Tales)
Back Atcha

I hope you'll go check them out. Alex is also putting up some very cool "Day in the Life of a Writer" videos up on his blog, which I'm really enjoying. Writer's Day #6 Alex Bledsoe

Have you read anything recently that you want to recommend? I'm in the middle of an early novel by Tanya Huff (author of the Blood Ties books, among others) called Summon the Keeper (there's a talking cat in it). Lots of fun.

And I'm thinking of doing my own private "Black Friday" sale here...I'll be working at The Artisans' Guild, of course, and not shopping, but I was thinking of doing a one-day sale on my jewelry. Either putting up a few things with slightly cheaper prices than usual, or adding a few items to Etsy and throwing in a signed copy of one of my books for anyone who spends over $75. What do you think? Silly idea?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mother Nature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As a Pagan, I love Mother Nature. I love oceans and sunsets and the sounds of birds in the morning (except when they wake me up). Of course, living out in the country, nature sometimes can be challenging, like when my garden in invaded by woodchucks. Or deer. Or rabbits. You get the picture.

And I live in Upstate NY, where nature can just be perverse. For instance, this year, the ragweed, which normally kicks my butt from early August until mid-September, STILL isn't dead. We've had a few hard frosts, and even a smidge of snow, but it hasn't been enough to kill of that darned ragweed. *shakes fist at ragweed...and leaf mold, for good measure*

There's the good, which is most of it, really, like how beautiful it is here in the fall

There's the bad, like what the salt they throw on the roads does to an otherwise perfectly good car

(Yes, that is the rust monster, eating away at my lovely Mazda Protege. Sigh. A big chunk of the underneath of the door just fell off the other day.)

And then there is the UGLY, like the sight that greeted me when I went through the mudroom on my way out to work first thing this morning
 Those ugly things are all that remained of about 2/3rds of the beautiful spaghetti squashes I grew (slaved over!) this summer in my garden. I was planning to eat them most of the winter, but clearly, something beat me to it. I've been known to get mice in the mudroom (since the cats aren't allowed in there), but this was no mouse.Unless it was on steroids, and brought 25 of its best friends. I'm guessing a squirrel got in there somehow, although I haven't been able to figure out where the hole in the wall is. I sure as heck found the holes in the squash, though! Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg...there were probably 20+ squashes and I have 6 left.
The critter, whatever it was, also gnawed a hole in my bags of pellets for the pellet stove, even though they aren't edible.

Nature. Yay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winners Past and Present

I am having a "catch up" day today. And one of the things I'm doing it getting a bunch of things ready to take to the post office, including jewelry people have bought and books folks won in recent contests. (Also some books for my mom, on account of she asked--lol.)

Congratulations to the winner of the giveaway over on Goodreads Josie Lajambe of Ontario! (Nice to know I am internationally of the winners from last month's contest was actually from Brazil!) And there were 925 people requesting the book, which is pretty darn gratifying.

I am also finally getting around to sending out the prizes from last month's contest here (sorry...the book ate my brain!).

Cristina Potmesil, you still have to email me with your address so I can send out the copy of the book you won! Contact me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo ASAP, please.

Okay, getting off the computer now and actually going to get things done...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Surprise! The Early Morning Version

Upstate NY weather is nothing if not changeable. There is a saying around here: "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." And it is only partially a joke.

We've had unseasonably warm weather here the last few days. It actually was in the 60's yesterday and Sunday. (Normally, it would be 40's to low 50's at best.) That's kinda nice, except that the ragweed, which normally is killed off by about mid-October, is still hanging around and kicking my butt.

Still, wait a minute...

Here was the sight I saw yesterday morning when I woke up (way too early, because I haven't adjusted to the time change yet). Beautiful, isn't it?

And here was what I saw this morning

(And oops...time to start parking the car in the barn again.) And really, still beautiful, just in a different way.

The snow isn't expected to stick, and the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 20's and low 30's at night and the 40's during the day, which is much more what you'd expect around here in mid-November. Of course, the drastic change has the fibromyalgia kicking up, but on the other hand, hopefully the ragweed will finally DIE.


On a more positive note, the final polished manuscript went off to my agent Elaine Spencer and four special first readers (waves at Skye, Lisa, Alex, and Judy). Whew. More about that tomorrow. Wait until you hear what I did...

So, what kind of morning did you wake up to?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Questions about Jewelry

Most of you follow me here (assuming you do...and hey, if you haven't clicked the "follow" button, why not? and if you haven't signed up to get this fascinating blog sent to your email, why not?) because of my writing, my witchy-ness, or both. Or because you're a Betty. [You know who you are, and I love you all.] A few of you might even follow me because I post a lot of cute cat pictures :-)

But I also make jewelry--in my copious free time, when I'm not running The Artisans' Guild, writing, teaching online classes, and such--and some folks have expressed interest in that as well.

So here's my question for the day:

1) Are you interesting in hearing more about the jewelry and/or seeing more pictures?
2) Would you actually want to buy jewelry from me (either for yourself or as a gift)?
3) If you did, would you rather go through my Etsy shop or just look at pictures here and then pay through Paypal?
4) Or would you rather I just stuck to talking about writing, witchcraft, and cats?

Hmmm...that's four questions, isn't it?

It is fine to just answer in the comments with something simple, like No, no, don't care, Gods yes! LOL
Or you can give me more details if you want.

But it would really help me to know if posting pics of the jewelry (or adding more to the Etsy shop, which is incredibly time consuming) would be a waste of time, or if people are really interested. So if you have a moment, I'd appreciate you letting me know. Thanks!

And happy Veteran's Day. BIG THANKS to those who serve, or who love someone who does.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Feline--The Vet Visit Version

Magic, Mystic, and mom Minerva giving me the evil eye. They must have know I was going to take them to the vet on Wednesday for their yearly check-ups and shots.
Three REALLY unhappy cats, ready to go. You'll note that Mystic has to have an extra large carrier :-)

In general, the visit went well, other than the yowling (them on the 15 minute trip there and back, and me, when I had to write the check) and the discovery that poor Mystic had a broken tooth and some tartar build-up that was causing gum irritation. The tooth doesn't seem to be bothering him much in general (it hasn't stopped him from eating!) but it clearly hurt when the vet pushed on it, and there is always a risk of infection. So in a week and a half, he gets to go back and get the tooth pulled. Cue the yowling.

In the meanwhile, though, everyone was pronounced healthy and looking great for their ages (10 for the "kittens" and 11 for mama). I'd reduced their food a smidge since they aren't as active, and everyone had lost a little weight and was now in perfect form. Mystic, who at his largest weighed over 18 lbs, is down to a svelte 14.8 -- and thankfully, the broken tooth is at the back of his mouth, so taking it out isn't going to ruin his stunning good looks. [And that also explains why I didn't notice it, before the vet pointed it out.]

Now I just have to hope that people start doing some early holiday shopping at the Guild or My Etsy Shop, so I can pay for the $300 kitty dental bill. Sigh....

That's okay. They're worth it.

So what unexpected stuff cropped up for you this week?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



A few minutes ago, I typed two of my favorite words: THE END

(I'm also quite fond of "book contracts" and "chocolate, anyone?")

I actually expected to finish the novel sooner, since I've been pushing to get the manuscript done in time to get it out on submission before the holidays slow the publishing world to a crawl, and I also needed to clear my plate to make jewelry and concentrate on running the shop during the busy season.

But I'd been figuring the book would end up being about 90,000 words...and someone kept moving the ending :-)

As of right now, the book stands at 105,105 words (really...I should play the lottery or something) and 348 pages. Of course, it isn't really finished. I still have to go over the chapters I wrote tonight, and do one last polish edit before sending it out to my agent, Elaine Spencer. (I do serious editing as I go along, so the final so-called first draft is usually pretty shiny.)

And it is out with a few first readers, my main critique partner Lisa and author pal Alex Bledsoe, as well as my pal Skye, and they'll have feedback that will lead to changes, as, no doubt, will Elaine.

But still. THE END.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Inspiration & Perspiration: The Current Novel Saga

Thomas Edison once said, "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Now I'm no Thomas Edison, and the genius part is questionable (an IQ test said so, but hello, have you seen my life?)...but when it comes to writing, I think this quote is particularly apt.

So substitute the word "writing" for the word "genius" and there you are.

I'm almost at the end of the current work in progress, a novel I haven't talked about much in specifics because both my agent Elaine Spencer and I are SUPER excited about it, and as far as I can tell, no one else has come up with the idea...a rarity in publishing. So I'm keeping it under my hat until it is ready to send out on submission.

I can tell you, though, that in the midst of the perspiration part of the process (I wrote over 10,000 words this weekend alone, as the book bubbled up and tried to push its way to those magic words, "The End") I have been thinking a lot about the inspiration that led to it.

Don't get me wrong--the idea is all mine. But the glimmerings that led to it, and in particular the novels that inspired me to use words and tell the story in a way that is different from anything I have done before, that all comes down to three of my favorite authors, and three specific books.

If you know these books, and can put together a few clues, you may get an idea about where my hush hush book is heading. Either way, I recommend these three books as highly as any I have ever read.

I am currently rereading (for probably the 3rd or 4th time) the book that kicked it all off for me, Patricia A McKillip's Solstice Wood . McKillp usually writes what I would consider "classic" fantasy, and her use of words to paint vivid pictures is unparallelled. Solstice Wood is a departure from her usual novels, in that it takes place in a realistic modern setting. More or less...

Another of the books that started the pot stirring (or in my case, you might better say cauldron) was Alex Bledsoe's The Hum and the Shiver . I fell in love with Alex's writing through his fabulous Eddie LaCrosse books, which are a spectacular cross between noir mystery novels and the sword and sorcery fantasy I loved in my youth. Now this guy is definitely a genius. The Hum and the Shiver is a new series set in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee and contains twists and turns and musical riffs that make it a delight to read.

The last (but not least) of the three was The Enchanted Emporium by Tanya Huff (best known for her Blood Ties books that inspired a TV series). This one is set in Calgary, and involves, well, an enchanted emporium (that is, a store filled with magic--in more ways than the obvious). This is another one I will end up rereading over and over.

The book I am working on [insert secret name here] is not really like any of these books. Except in the ways that it is. But if I can come even close to creating the intriguing characters, well-drawn worlds, and sense of tangible magic that these authors achieved in these three books, then all the perspiration will have been worth it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Class Poll Up & Happy NANOWRIMO

Happy November, all! (OY)

I hope those of you who write are busy writing--especially those of you taking part in NANOWRIMO this month--and recovering from the Halloween festivities. [For the non-writers among you, NANOWRIMO is short for National Novel Writing Month, and people try to write a 50,000 word novel in November. I did it one year and it was intense! But it can also be very motivating.] Let me know if you're taking part this year, and what you're working on, and I'll cheer you on!

I've actually been doing an unofficial writing blitz of my own, trying to get my current novel finished up. Hit the 80,000 word mark yesterday (aiming at about 90K), so I'm getting close...

I'm also finishing up my final online class for the year, and trying to decide which classes to teach next year, since I won't have time for them all. It would be REALLY helpful if you could pop over to my online witchy/writing blog and pick up to 4 classes from the poll I have posted there. I promise, it will only take a minute!

Workshop Loop