Thursday, January 31, 2013

PaganSquare Blog

I've put up a new post at my PaganSquare Blog (run by the lovely folks behind the Witches & Pagans Magazine, where I have a regular column), talking about how becoming a Pagan cured my winter depression.

If you live in a part of the country where the winters are long, cold, and gray, like I you get the blues? If so, how do you cope?

You can find some of my answers at the blog. The other answer, of course, is hot chocolate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Guest Post at The Magical Buffet

Magic the Cat and I are given 10 questions to answer at one of my favorite blogs, The Magical Buffet.

Go check it out, and tell Magic you said hi!

The Magical Buffet

Friday, January 25, 2013

BOOK GIVEAWAY and Feline Friday

Happy Friday! (And is it just me, or did it take a loooonnnnnggggg time to get here this week?)

After getting the news yesterday that my first book Circle, Coven & Grove was going out of print, and getting such a heart-warming and supportive response to my announcement, I decided to run a contest and give away one of my few copies (which are now going to become a collector's item!). There are only 3 left on Amazon, and a couple at Llewellyn, so they are going to get pretty hard to find.

You can see that I am still mastering this Rafflecopter you'll have to click on the "create your own option" buttons to see what they are. It's like being on a scavenger hunt :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will run until Tuesday. Good luck...let's send this book out with a bang!

And just because it's Friday...

Mystic, Minerva and Magic in a BIG OL' PILE O' CATS

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Circle, Coven & Grove: A Bittersweet Goodbye

I will never forget the day, back in 2005, when I got an email from a woman named Elysia Gallo, an editor at Llewellyn Worldwide, telling me that they were going to buy my first book, Circle, Coven & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice . The book came out in early 2007, and the moment I  held that first copy in my hands was probably one of the best experiences of my life.

There have been five other Llewellyn books since, then (working on #7 right now), and a bunch of novels still trying to find their way in the world. But there is nothing like your first.

I got an email today, telling me that Circle, Coven & Grove is going out of print. People are still buying it, but just not in enough numbers to justify another print run. So the few that are still out there are all that there will ever be. I'm a little sad, to be honest. I know this happens to authors all the time, and my other books will still be available. But not my first, treasured child.

Circle, Coven & Grove is in some ways the most personal of all the books I've written for Llewellyn, since it was based on the first year of practice of my coven, Blue Moon Circle. (Mind you, all the books are based on that, in one way or another.) I hadn't even planned to have a writing career at that point, and if I had, I would have assumed it would only be fiction. But this book yelled at me to write it, and so began a journey I am still happily following today.

So...a big thanks to Elysia (who is the best editor on the planet) for believing in me, and CC&G. Thanks to all those who have bought it over the years, and to everyone who told me how much they loved it. As far as I know, the book will still be available as an ebook, at least for a while. But for now, if you've been thinking about getting a copy and haven't gotten around to it, you can check your local Pagan stores, ask your local bookstore to order it, or get one of the few copies left at Amazon (they had 11 left when last I checked). B&N didn't have any online, but it is just possible that your local store might have one. (The link above takes you to Llewellyn themselves. They have 19 copies; any of them left by Monday I will be buying myself.)

And so we bid a fond farewell to my first book... Thanks, baby. You were swell.

That sound you hear? That's my heart breaking--just a little bit.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Sabbats Class YAY!

We're going to be posting the information for the first of the Sabbats for the new year-long Sabbats class in a few days!

This class is something new Heather and I are trying over at the Witchcraft & Writing Workshops loop. Instead of a class that runs for 3 to 5 days (like most of the ones we give), it is going to be ongoing for the entire year. The class will consist of a post for each Pagan holiday, starting with Imbolc (which falls on February 2nd). Each class post will consist of general information about the holiday, as well as a ritual, and maybe even a recipe or two. There are eight Sabbats, so there will be eight posts in the class, but I will be available to answer questions about the holidays both leading up to the days and afterwards. The information for the earlier holidays will still be accessible until after the last one is posted in December, for Yule.

All this for only $40! How cool is that? You can register here: Sabbats class registration

You can also join in at any point in the year, if you don't have the time or money to do so now, although of course it will be too late to celebrate some of the holidays if you join in later. Still, they do come around every year :-)

I hope you all are as excited about this idea as we are! It's an experiment, so if there isn't much enthusiasm for it, we just won't do it again next year. But I hope you'll join us...I think it's going to be fun!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

And the Winner Is: Kimberly S!

Kimberly S. is the winner of the Llewellyn Witches' Calender!

She said:
Congrats! I would love to win this calendar, as I am late in buying one this year! Flu is bad and knocks you out this year even more than it normally does. Wishing all the luck in the world with future writing and try to stay healthy!

I guess this is your reward for recovering from the flu :-) Hope you're feeling better now. Contact me at magicmysticminerva at yahoo dot com and tell me where to send it!

Congrats, and thanks to everyone who entered and left such nice comments.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Feline Friday, the Brrrr Version

It was 7 degrees out here when I woke up this morning. Brrrr...... I does not loves the cold, I does not, Precious.

And don't forget that today is the last day to leave a comment at the 2-days ago blog post (not here) to be entered to win a copy of the new Llewellyn Witches' Calendar that has my articles on 3 of the months

And with no further is this week's FELINE FRIDAY!

Magic, resting up from the exhausting work of being a cat.

Feeding time at the Zoo. This is what it looks like when three cats are waiting for you to get their food out. (The other two are in their room upstairs, or it would look even worse.)

A quiet moment, with Samhain ignoring the fact that Magic is sitting right next to her, and Angus just being Angus.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday! Doing anything interesting this weekend?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My New Book: The Big Reveal

As some of you know, I have been working on a new novel forever for the last four or five months. This one followed a different pattern than most of my previous manuscripts, with more complicated use of language (which made the writing go more slowly) and numerous revisions based on feedback from my first readers and my agent, Elaine Spencer.

From the very beginning, Elaine and I were both really excited about this one; it was an idea no one had come up with yet (that we could find, anyway), and yet fit beautifully with the popular trend of modern fairy tales and fantasy romances. So I have been pretty secretive about the book, not wanting someone else to say, "Hey! What a cool idea! I'll write one of those." (Not that a book by someone else would be anything like a book by me, but still...)

Now, however, the book is going out on submission (meaning it is being sent to editors at the various publishing companies), and I think it is finally safe for me to share with you...


 The Baba Yaga
For those of you who aren't familiar with the name, Baba Yaga is a figure from Russian fairy tales--usually portrayed as the "wicked witch" kind of witch, but also sometimes as a guide, or even a goddess figure. I took the character and updated her, making her into a not-quite-human kick-ass modern heroine. 

Here is the "blurb" (like what you'd find on the back of the book) for The Baba Yaga:

Baba Yaga

You may think you know about Baba Yaga: the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales who lives in a hut that moved about on chicken legs, rides in a mortar and pestle, and eats small children if they misbehave. But you’d be wrong. For Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather, a title carried by a chosen few whose job it is to guard the borders between our world and the Otherworld and keep the balance of nature.

Barbara Yager is a Baba Yaga; trained since childhood by the previous holder of the title. Older than she looks, powerful beyond measure, and so far removed from the life of normal mortals, she has little in common with the human life she was born to. She travels through the country in an Airstream trailer, riding a classic BMW motorcycle and masquerading as an herbalist and researcher while she fulfills her duties. When she is summoned by a woman who is desperate to find her missing child, Barbara finds herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit, battling human enemies and Otherworld creatures, and most unexpectedly, her own heart.

Liam McClellan is the Sheriff of rural Clearwater County. Since a tragedy tore his life to pieces years before, he has dedicated himself to his job; protecting and serving the people who look to him to enforce the law. But after five children disappear in four months, without a trace or clue, Liam is beginning to wonder if he should hang up his badge. The sudden appearance of a beautiful woman with a dubious background and a curious habit of turning up where he least expects her makes him place her at the top of his suspect list, despite her uncanny gift for helping those in need. But as the danger mounts, and weird and inexplicable occurrences beset Liam and those he vowed to keep safe, he has to wonder if Barbara Yager is his enemy—or his only chance to save the lives of innocents in a world he no longer recognizes.

Natural gas drilling, political shenanigans, grieving parents, three mysterious motorcycle riders, twisted beasts out of nightmares, and yes, there are dragons. Because when Baba Yaga comes to town, nothing will ever be the same again.

You have probably heard of Baba Yaga—the archetypal wicked witch of Russian tales who lived in a log hut that walked about on chicken legs, rode through the forests in a giant mortar that she steered with a pestle, and ate small children if they didn’t behave. According to legend, Baba Yaga usually appeared as an ugly old crone, although she also wore other faces, and sometimes gave aid to a worthy seeker, if such a one could pass her tests.
You probably think you know who Baba Yaga is. But you’d be wrong. Because I am Baba Yaga, and this is my story.

What do you think? 

Anyway, wish me luck as my baby goes out into the world. And don't forget to enter the contest (found on the previous blog post) to win a Llewellyn Witches' Calender with my work in it. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Llewellyn Witches' Calendar Giveaway!

Llewellyn's 2013 Witches' Calendar
Isn't it pretty?

I have been writing books for Llewellyn Worldwide since my first one, Circle, Coven & Grove, came out in 2007. I also have articles in many of their fabulous annuals and almanacs. But this year is the first time I have ever been featured in one of my favorites of all their products: the Witches' Calendar!

I'm a little excited :-)

You can find my essays and spells on the February, June, and October months, and the calender itself is available online from Llewellyn and Amazon, if you can't find it in a store near you.

There are a few other kinda cool things going on, including the fact that my latest novel is now out on submission! [And that means I can tell you what it is all about...stay tuned.]

To celebrate, I am going to be giving away a copy of the new calender to someone who comments here by the end of the week (Friday, midnight EST). This one has to be for USA residents only, I'm afraid, since sending the calendar elsewhere would cost more than it is worth.

And as always, I would REALLY appreciate it if you could take a moment to write a review for any of the books you've read and liked, and post it on Amazon, B&N, and/or Goodreads, as well as clicking "like" on Amazon. I was looking up a book by fellow Llewellyn author Tess Whitehurst (a sweetie!) and discovered that one of her books had over 200 reviews! I'm beginning to develop a complex...

Anyway, leave a comment here about the calendar, the books, or, heck, the weather, and one lucky winner will get to see my first-ever calendar appearance! Good luck.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Feline: Happy birthday Magic & Mystic!

Today my "kittens" turn 11! It seems like just yesterday that I went to the pound to get one kitten to keep my remaining geriatric cat company, and *somehow* ended up coming home with two kittens and their skinny, scared teenaged mother. But look at these faces--could you have resisted?

Look at the size of Mystic's paws...I should have known he was going to end up being huge. And Magic the Cat already had plenty of attitude.

Happy birthday, babies. You'll always be kittens to me!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Year! New Classes! New Schedule!

New Year! New Classes! New Schedule!

Happy New Year all! After much discussion and consultation with students, the fabulous Heather Long and I have hammered out the workshop class schedule and while it is still subject to change, we have also opened registration on the first two classes of the year.

The first: Celebrating the Wheel of the Year is based on the special request for a year long class that looks at the 8 major sabbats. This class has a one time registration fee, but once you are registered, you will receive updates around the major sabbats, including information, rituals and more. This class will include some info from my books, a ritual for each holiday, and extras like decorating suggestions and more. There will only be one post per holiday, but you can ask questions both before and after the sabbat.

The second class kicks off in February - a week long class combining Witchcraft 101 and 102. This is a great class for beginners, curiosity seekers, writers looking for research material and will have more in depth information for practitioners and more!

Registration and more info are available on the workshop blog here: Witchcraft and Writing Loop 

 Coming up later in the year will be other classes, including a few new ones by popular request. Here is the tentative schedule:

January – Exploring the Wheel of the Year – Ongoing class with updates for each major Sabbat (8 total) – Begins with Imbolc (February 2)
February - Witchcraft 101/102
March – Witchcraft 201
April – Spells & Spellcasting
May – Herbal Magick & Kitchen Alchemy
June– World Building for the Paranormal Author
July – No Class
August – Pre-Writing Workshop
September – Crystals & Gemstone Magick
October – TBA
November – No Class
December – No Class
 We had a great time with the classes we gave last year, and I hope you'll join us this year and spare your questions, knowledge, and enthusiasm! And I'd REALLY appreciate it if you'll spread the word to your witchy and writing friends, and anyone else you think might be interested. The more popular the classes are, the more likely it is that we'll continue with them in the future.
If you are planning to take a class, which one are you looking forward to the most? If you took one last year, which was your favorite?

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Visit from the Fabulous Jenn

Normally, I try to make the weeks after the holidays as low key as possible: I catch up on paperwork at the shop (usually lots of it, since I'm too busy to do it while we're in the middle of the busy season), start planning the next book I'm going to work on, but otherwise just rest up and try to catch my breath.

This year, I got something even better...a visit from the fabulous Jennifer Holling-Blake.

That's the two of us, a few minutes before she left on Sunday morning, on her way home to San Jose, where she now lives (via a lovely visit with my sister, BIL and their girls in Schenectady). She got in the previous Sunday with her pal Jonah, who lives about an hour and a half from here and was kind enough to get her at the airport, drive her to Oneonta, and then spend the week ferrying her around to see all her various friends and relatives.

Yes, very clever--you noticed that we share the same last name. You probably also noticed that she doesn't look a bit like me. That's because she's my step-daughter, one of the few good things that came out of my brief marriage to her father back in the mid-80's. I met her dad when she was 1, so she doesn't remember a time when I wasn't in her life, and our relationship was so important (to both of us) that I fought to keep it even after the divorce when she was 5. Needless to say, that worked out pretty well. Here's a not very good scan of two pictures from the distant past... No laughing at my bangs, people. It was the 80's.

These days, Jenn and I are closer than ever; she was a member of my coven, Blue Moon Circle, back when she still lived here, and actually ended up moving to San Jose after attending Pantheacon there with me a few years ago.
Jenn goofing around with my editor Elysia. I don't know which one is cuter.

We still talk on the phone at least a couple times a week, but I miss having her here, so it was wonderful to have her visit and stay for a bit. We celebrated her birthday, which was on New Year's Day, along with her mom Jo, our friend Ellen, and Jonah. And spend lots of time just hanging out and playing games (she and Jonah are both serious gamers). And eating, of course. [That's Jenn, Ellen, Jo, and Jonah. You can't see her in this picture, but Magic the Cat is sitting in the chair towards the front, which she stole as soon as I got up to take the photo.]
Now she's gone back to CA, and while I'm not sorry to have my house back (and be able to get back to work), it does seem just a little bit empty around here...

Jenn may not be the child of my body, but she is the child of my heart, and I am lucky to have her.