Friday, June 28, 2013

COVER REVEAL! The Witch's Broom

I have a new book coming out from Llewellyn next April. That's a long time to wait, I know, but in the meanwhile, here's this :-)

*author happy dance*

What do you think? Do you like it? It is based on an old postcard (really old) that my editor Elysia found, and that one of Llewellyn's fabulous artists then created a cover from, and I just adore it. Needless to say, so does Magic the Cat!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Guest Blogger: C.S. MacCath

I have been dealing with the Zombie Apocalypse since Saturday night (okay, it is just a really bad summer cold, but since it has eaten my brains, I feel that I can call it a Zombie Apocalypse with reasonable accuracy). I meant to put up a "Weedy Wednesday" post with pictures of the flowers from my yard, but it just didn't happen.

Luckily, I had a secret weapon waiting in the wings...a guest blog post by my author pal C.S. MacCath, who has just put out an amazing collection of Pagan poems and tales. Months ago, as she was preparing it for publication, she asked me if I would consider writing the introduction, and I was delighted to do so. Here is what I said:

I first met C. S. MacCath when we both took part in a Pagan short story contest put on by Llewellyn Worldwide and BBI Media. The winning entries, including ours, became part of a first-ever collection called The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction: 13 Prize Winning Tales. The book was filled with Pagan-centric stories of every style imaginable; contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, even a western. Some of the authors went on to become successful multi-published authors. Others, no doubt, are still stirring their cauldrons of creativity, somewhere out there. 

But none of the writers I met impressed me so much as one: C. S. MacCath. Not only did I love her story, but I found the woman herself to be charming; warm and clever, witty and wise, earthy and larger-than-life. In the years that passed since that chance meeting at Pantheacon, where the awards were presented, I have followed her career with great interest.

My first impressions proved to be true, as both her real-life adventures and her writing endeavors continued to impress and amaze me. A Pagan who truly walks her talk, C. S. spends her time working for the betterment of our natural world, rescuing orphaned and injured wildlife, learning and advocating for the Scottish Gaelic language and of course, writing. Unceasingly supportive of other writers and Pagans, she walks her path with courage and conviction I have seen in few people and writes with a gift that is even rarer.

That anthology where our stories came together was intended to be the first of many. But alas, that particular dream did not come true. Sadly, there is very little out there in the way of fiction specifically written by Pagans for a Pagan audience or for those who are interested in learning more about us and catching a glimpse into our hidden ways. There are many nonfiction books on modern Witchcraft (some of which I’ve written), but until now, the lyrical, magical, spiritual voice of the Pagan author has gone largely unheard.

Thankfully, this collection changes all that. With C. S. MacCath’s vivid poetry and evocative, sometimes heartrendingly beautiful tales, Pagan fiction finally has a shining star to guide us to new worlds and give us a clearer look at the world in which we live. And that’s what I call magic.

Below, you will find her guest post; I hope that you will give her the usual warm welcome I have come to depend on from my fabulous readers. As a reward, I will give away a copy of The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction (where you will be able to read the short story that won me 3rd place, and which led to the novel, PENTACLES & PENTIMENTOS, that eventually got me signed with my lovely agent, Elaine Spencer) to one random commenter.

Hit it, Ceallaigh--

Thank you Deborah, for your flattering introduction of my collection and for inviting me into your blog space! I’m delighted to be here.
Before The Ruin of Beltany Ring, there was The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction and the purpose for its publication, the first and only Pagan Fiction Award. They sparked a conversation about literature by and for Pagans, and the term ‘Pagan fiction’ was coined. But even the anthology editors weren’t entirely certain what it meant, if Diana Paxson’s introduction is any indication, and those of us who write it continue to wonder whether or not our work can or should be classified as such. However, we do seem to agree that storytelling is integral to the preservation of a culture, and so the part of our writing that might be classified as Pagan fiction is an effort to tell stories that resonate with Pagan readers.
I write speculative fiction and poetry, which draws upon fantastical motifs to do its job. However, my Pagan writing takes its faith seriously; there are no cliché witches in my work. So while I might write a Pagan science fiction story like From Our Minds to Yours, the characters’ approach to the central conflict of the tale is not fantastical. Rather, it’s the sort of approach any Pagan might take, and the story invites the reader to have respect for it. Even when the bumbling Pieter Heinle brings the good word of the eddas to a new world in my alliterative poem Bringing Woden to the Little Green Men, the transformation that results does not diminish the value of Heathen belief and practice (though I confess to a bit of good-natured poking at Heathen lore hounds in the piece). Ultimately, whether a story or poem in my collection is speculative, its references to Pagan Gods, rituals and beliefs are not. They’re spiritual, and they speak to a part of the Pagan ethos that is not at all fictional.
Of course, not every poem and tale in The Ruin of Beltany Ring is specifically religious. All of the stories were written with Pagans in mind, and each of them first appeared in Witches & Pagans, PanGaia, newWitch and similar publications. The poems range a little farther afield; from the spiritual disconnection of Fetters to the divine melancholy of Hephaistos in my poem by the same name (Ηφαιστος), and most of them were published in speculative poetry journals. Still, wherever I’ve handled the cultural artifacts of my faith, I’ve endeavored to do so with care, even when I’m offering a critique. It’s a commitment I’m carrying forward into Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom, my novel series in progress, where Wiccans and Heathens alike will come to redefine their faith among an alien species and a powerful artificial intelligence on a new world.
And perhaps that’s the definition of Pagan fiction after all, that whatever the genre of the piece, the Paganism it presents is authentic and true to its own nature. At least, it’s the definition I work under, anyway. Thank you all so much for your time. I hope you enjoy The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales, and I hope it prompts you to seek out other Pagan fiction.
Blessed be.
The Ruin of Beltany Ring may be purchased at:
C.S. MacCath may be found online at:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice, all! (Except for my southern hemisphere peeps, of course, who are just entering their winter period.) I will be celebrating tomorrow evening with a ritual and BBQ/feast with Blue Moon Circle, but I'll also do something today to observe the occasion on my own.

The Summer Solstice, also known as Midsummer or Litha, is the official first day of Summer. It falls on or around June 21st, and is the longest day of the year, with the most light and the least amount of darkness. The energy of the sun is at its height now, and the crops are growing fertile in the fields. Life is filled with life and light and growth. I like to use this day to tap into the abundant energy and use it for positive forward movement. But I also believe this is a good time for celebration and appreciation of all the good things we already have in our lives. A mini spiritual vacation for the soul, if you will.

Here are a couple of 5 minute rituals you can use to celebrate the marvelous energy of summer, if you don't have the time or inclination to do something more complicated.

Sit outside (or in a sunny window or patch of floor). Close your eyes and feel the heat of the sun on your face. Visualize the light of the sun as golden rays, carrying with them energy, prosperity, abundance, and the potential for growth on every level. Open yourself to all that potential, and draw it into yourself until you can feel it overflowing from every pore. Then say thank you, and open your eyes, moving onward into summer.

Find a piece of summer fruit--a handful of berries, sweet cherries, or a nice juicy peach. Visualize that fruit as a concentrated holder for all the joy and potential of summer, and eat it slowly, being mindful of the gifts that the summer can bring.

Happy Summer Solstice to you! And don't forget to look for the supermoon on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Visit with the Family

Sorry about the lack of blog posts in the last week, but in part that is due to my being gone Friday-Sunday on a rare visit with some of my family. My parents came in from San Diego to attend my Boston-based aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary party, then went to Maine for a few days, then to Schenectady where my sister Sarah, her husband Rich, and their 20 year old daughters Addy and Brianna live (when Bri isn't off at college). Here's everyone gathered around the table one night when we went out to dinner.
I adore my family, and don't get to see them nearly as much as I'd like, so I took a few days and went up to Schenectady to hang out with them all. We had a pretty good time not doing much of anything (in part because of scheduling issues and in part because my poor parents caught a cold from someone at the party, and my mom felt crappy).

In news that will surprise...absolutely no one...the high point of the trip for me (besides being with the fam) was a trip to a huge Barnes & Nobles nearby. I love my local Indy book store, but being able to wander around a giant store filled with books was just heaven. I only got a little carried away...
(And the gift book I bought for Addy isn't even in the picture, since it stayed with her.) In my defense, the big grilling book was $12.99, down from $29 when you bought something else. Which I clearly did. And the Indie band book is for my friend Chris's son, and the Hello Kitty dress-up doll fridge magnet is for my wonderful editor Elysia, who loves Hello Kitty. So really, it is almost like I just bought three books :-) And two of them were research for the current Baba Yaga novel. Oh, nevermind. Where was I?

Right, family. My nieces are twins, but you would never guess it by looking at them or talking to them. They are as different as two sisters could be, although they are both beautiful and talented and amazing in their own ways.
That's Bri on the left and Addy on the right. Bri is studying Fashion Merchandizing at Marist College, and Addy is doing a culinary degree (oh, the things she can cook!). On the side, she creates incredibly complicated and detailed costumes for Cosplays based on Manga books (Japanese Anime). This is the one she wore to our last breakfast, because she was going to the Albany Comicon right afterwards.

See what I mean? How cool is that?
Here's one of my favorite pictures of the weekend--my gorgeous sister Sarah, me and Addy, camping it up in the Robin jacket she also made.

My family isn't perfect, but I love them all more than I can say. It was a real treat to be able to spend three days with them. Of course, now I have to play catch-up with everything else! I hope you had a weekend as good as mine was.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Weedy Wednesday: In the Garden

As requested, here is my first "Weedy Wednesday" post about the goings on in my yard and garden. It has been raining all week, and is likely to rain tomorrow and Friday, so it might more accurately be called "Wet Wednesday," but hey, at least I don't have to haul out the hose and water.

When I was house hunting 11 1/2 years ago, on of the "required" items on my list was space for a garden. I was fortunate enough to find one (finally) where the women who had lived here before me gardened extensively, and added compost yearly to the otherwise clay-heavy (and rock infested) soil. The fall I moved in, one of the first things I did was have someone come and rototill the space, and then I built the first of many raised beds so I could get the garlic in right away. (For those of you who don't garden, garlic is planted in the fall, grows all winter, spring, and summer, and is harvested around August.)

Since then, my garden has expanded to encompass a large section to the right (blueberry bushes, elderberry and cranberry shrubs, and some apple and cherry trees...none of which have ever given me fruit, dammit) and one to the left for herbs. More on them some other day.

This is the entrance to my garden--doesn't it look welcoming and magical? (That's a golden delicious apple tree hovering to the right. It does give apples.) To the left is a giant lilac. If you want, I can post a picture of it in bloom, which it is right now.
Here are some of the beds, planted with this year's veggies.
That's lettuce, spinach and dill in the front left, peas behind them, and the aforementioned garlic to the right. You can see how large it is, because it gets such an early start.

In the middle of the garden, there is a fish pond. Yes, I carried every one of those rocks from someplace on my property. (New York State grows rocks almost as well as it grows weeds.)
Behind it, you can see the beds which are planted with soy beans (too tiny to see from here), onions, and broccoli/cauliflower/cucumbers. And here is one of the guys who hangs out and keeps me company out there. Yes, I talk to them--and your point?
Speaking of gardens, since this is the only day this week when it isn't supposed to rain, I'd better get out there and do some weeding. We don't call this "Weedy Wednesday" for nothing, you know. Any questions? Requests for future WW?

Do you have a garden? Big, small, windowsill? If so, what do you grow there?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

If you ever watched Monty Python, you now have the spam song going through your head. I apologize.

I also apologize in advance for the pain-in-the-tush of having to fill in a Captcha word in order to post a comment. Those things drive me crazy, but I've suddenly been hit by masses of spam (which Blogger eventually catches and removes, doing a fabulous job, but it is still quite irksome), so it was either enable the word verification or set the blog so no one could post as "anonymous."

Is one of these options less irksome than the other, do you think?

I've had this happen in the past, and usually after a bit the spam dies down (probably because they can't get through) and I can take the annoying dingus off. In the meanwhile, I hope you'll still leave your lovely comments anyway.

Tomorrow--the first gardening post! (Or maybe today, if I get to it...)


Friday, June 7, 2013

Feline Friday: The Sorry I Vanished Version

Sorry I've been scarce lately... Between the multiple days that got eaten by the "replace the desktop" reboot, and working on THE BABA YAGA'S SISTER (Baba book 2), and teaching my online writing class, and trying to get the yard into some kind of shape and the garden in..well, I think you see my point. Time? What time?

Speaking of gardens, I've been thinking of adding a Garden Tuesday, or something, with pictures of the garden and yard (it doesn't sound as good as Feline Friday, but it isn't my fault there's no day of the week that starts with G). Would this be boring to y'all or is it something you'd enjoy?

I have a treat coming up soon...a cover reveal for the next Llewellyn book. Wait until you see this one--it's gorgeous! (Yes, there is a black cat. Magic insisted.) The picture was done by one of Llewellyn's fabulous artists based on an old postcard. Very cool. As soon as I'm given permission to share it, I'll be sending it out in the newsletter (you can sign up on my website if you want to get it) and then a day after that, I'll probably post it here. *bounce bounce bounce*

Now, with no further ado, the feline stars of this week's Feline Friday!

Every once in a while, I actually manage to get four of the five cats in one shot. You'll notice that Mystic is off to the left, studiously ignoring little Samhain, who seems quite happy about that. No, he's not floating in mid-air (despite his name, he is decidedly un-magical); he's perched on top of a cat tower that has a comfy catnip pillow on top.

On a different day. Magic is curled up on the futon,Minerva is on the cat tower, and the two boys are sharing the couch. You can't see her, but off to the right, Samhain is perched on the back of my red recliner, waiting for me to stop taking pictures of cats and get back to the writing. My living room isn't anything special, really, but isn't the morning light wonderful?

Here is a shot of Magic and Samhain sitting by the desk. Notice something missing?
(Here's a hint...see that bunch of wires, including the bright blue one? That's where the desktop normally sits. On that day, there was only the cable modem and my network router, waiting in lonely splendor for the new computer. Clearly, the cats had figured out I was going to be needing either the desk or the chair that day.)

I hope your summer is going well, and that the sun is shining through your windows with glee. (At the moment, it is raining here--but that's okay. The garden needs it.)

So--question of the day: Garden pics, writing progress updates, or both?

Happy Friday from me and the Furball Gang!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author Reminder

Just a quick reminder that I am giving my most popular class, "Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author" starting this Monday and running through the 16th. It's over at the FFnP RWA loop (you don't have to be a member to take the class). I probably won't give it again any time soon, if ever, so here's your chance if you wanted to take it!

Hope to see some of you there!