Saturday, October 31, 2015

Giveaway Plus Flash Fiction Story Featuring Donata from Veiled Magic

I'm taking part in a flash fiction Halloween event for the Coastal Magic Convention over at the Books Make Me Happy blog!

Not only do you get to read a short short story featuring Donata, the protagonist in VEILED MAGIC (seen here for the first time), but I'm also doing a Halloween giveaway!

Quick, run HERE to read the story and enter the contest! And tell all your friends to do the same.

Here's the prize pack:

Painted wooden cat, tote bag, black cat magnet, broom pen, and swag!
Happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain to all who celebrate!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween-Themed Giveaway!

We're at three weeks to release day for Veiled Magic, so it must be time for another giveaway! Big congrats to Diane P. of Canada, who won the last one. And be sure to check back next week, because IT'S GOING TO BE EPIC. Just sayin'.

This week's giveaway has a Halloween theme, as befits the season. Whether you celebrate it as Halloween or Samhain, you'll probably like this week's goodies. I have to admit, I had a LOT of fun putting together this prize pack.

The winner gets his or her choice of The Witch's Broom (Llewellyn nonfiction) or Wickedly Dangerous plus a cool "You say wicked like it's a bad thing" magnet, a witch ornament, a broom pen, some small twisted black beeswax candle (for magic or everyday use), a magical black cat magnet, plus some misc. swag. And also, this little guy!

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below. As always, you can do one or all of the options, but to get credit for a review it either has to be a new one (you can always review a different book of mine) or posted in a new place (if you put a review up at Amazon, you can put it on B&N or Goodreads, for instance). The Tweet about the Giveaway option can be done every day. No purchase necessary and the giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere.

So tell me, how do you celebrate Halloween or Samhain? Is it a religious or spiritual holiday for you, as it is for me, or just a fun day? (Nothing wrong with that!) Are you dressing up? Do you carve a cool pumpkin? Inquiring minds (and our tiny friend above) want to know.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 26, 2015

Goddities Website and Lucienne Diver!

I have a cool new website to share with y'all! It is called GODDITIES and it is done by my author/agent friend Lucienne Diver, based on her Latter-Day Olympians books (which are a hoot, by the way). It is a kind of tongue-in-cheek faux blog by one of the quirky characters in the books. There are pictures and descriptions of lots of Greek gods and goddesses...and some of these folks are seriously hot! I'm just saying.

Not only is it cool and fun, but since Lucienne got a bunch of her friends to dress up and pose for the pictures, you might just find someone you know featured on the website. If you're curious, check out HECATE. She might just look familiar...

The Kindle version of the first book in the series, BAD BLOOD is on sale right now for .99 cents, in case you want to catch up. Even better, the most recent BLOOD HUNT comes out tomorrow! (I'm just finishing up the one before that, and it rocks!) I'm so getting it.

Here's a blurb about the first book, to give you an idea of what the series is about:
The gods play…and mortals pay.
Latter-Day Olympians, Book 1
Tori Karacis’s family line may trace back to a drunken liaison between the god Pan and one of the immortal gorgons. Or…maybe it’s just coincidence that her glance can, literally, stop men in their tracks. While her fear of heights kept her out of the family aerobatic troupe, her extreme nosiness fits right in with her uncle’s P.I. business.
Except he’s disappeared on an Odyssean journey to find himself. Muddling through on her own, she’s reduced to hunting (not stalking, because that would just be weird) brass-bra’d Hollywood agent Circe Holland to deliver a message…only to witness her murder by what looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Suddenly, all of her family’s tall tales seem believable, especially when Apollo—the Apollo, who’s now hiding out among humans as an adult film star—appears in her office, looking to hire her. She knows the drill: canoodling with gods never works out well for humans, but she’s irresistibly drawn to him. Maybe it’s her genes. Maybe not.
Given her conflicted feelings for one hot and hardened cop, it’s a toss-up which will kill her quickest. The danger at her door…or her love life.
Warning: Contains pot-boiling passion between a heroine who may—or may not—be a descendant of Medusa, and a hot god and a hunky cop with the…equipment…to handle her, even on her worst bad-hair day. Beware of killer kisses, trickster gods and bearded grandmothers Who Know Everything.
And just to tempt you to go visit the new website, here's Apollo!

paul loganYou're welcome, ladies.

And for the guys, here's Lucienne herself, in her guise as Artemis. I've always loved the Greek gods and goddesses, so this website is so much fun. I hope you think so too!

artemis3 Lucienne, I mean Artemis!

Do you have a favorite Greek god or goddess? Go check out the blog and tell me which one is your favorite. There might be a prize in it for someone who comments!

Magical Monday: A Samhain Ritual

Since Samhain (Halloween to you non-witchy folks) is coming up at the end of the week, I thought I'd share a ritual I wrote for my book, Everyday Witch Book of Rituals (Llewellyn). I hope it inspires you to do a little sabbat magic of your own. As always, with a few alterations, this ritual can be done by an individual instead of a group.

SAMHAIN: Grief and Rejoicing at the New Year
If there is any one holiday that epitomizes the Witch, it is Samhain, the Sabbat from which the modern Halloween originated. Also known as The Witches’ New Year, October 31st marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one. The Wheel of the Year has completed another cycle, and begins to turn again, as it always has and always will.
Samhain can be a bittersweet day, for we mourn all that we have lost over the last year at the same time we look forward to the blessings we hope we’ll reap in the year to come. On this night, the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, and we say our final goodbyes to people and animals who have moved on to the lands beyond the veil. Some use this time for prophecy and prediction, looking ahead or communicating with the spirits. Others use it to honor their ancestors with a special altar or a Dumb Supper, in which places are set at the feast table for the dead, and food is eaten in respectful silence.
This night is a special magical time, with particular meaning to Witches. And so this Samhain ritual has two parts; one which looks back towards the year passing away and allows us to mourn all we’ve lost, and the second which focuses on the future, welcoming in the new year with celebration and hope.

Tools needed:
  • Fire-safe cauldron or plate
  • Tea lights OR sand to fill cauldron and small tapers (which are then stuck in the sand)
  • Optional: small second altar table to put cauldron/plate with candles on [if your main altar is large enough, you can put the cauldron/plate there]
  • Small bowls filled with confetti (you can buy this, or cut up colored paper into small pieces) OR noisemakers OR small instruments like whistles, kazoos, clappers, etc. [note: the confetti will make a mess, so you may only want to use it if you are going to be outside]
  • Black pillar/taper candle in fire-safe holder
  • White, red, or silver pillar candle in fire-safe holder
  • Table to use as an altar, and a cloth to cover it
  • Copies of the spell for all participants
  • Sage smudge stick
  • Optional: a large feather for wafting the sage
  • Cakes and ale (corn muffins are good, or any apple bread or cake, or apples sliced in half to show the pentacle in the middle, and wine or cider)
  • Four quarter candles (1 each yellow, blue, red, and green, or 4 white)
  • Goddess and god candles (cream and yellow, silver and gold, or both white or yellow, or two black if desired)
  • Matches and candle snuffer
(HPS = High Priestess and HP = High Priest, but this can be done by any individual)
Before starting:
If you can be outside (and I recommend it for this night if it is at all possible), a bonfire is a wonderful addition to a Samhain celebration. It is good to have torches or other lights so you can see to read the spell. If you must be inside, dim the lights and add some extra candles for atmosphere, if it is safe to do so. This ritual should start out solemn and quiet for the first half, then become lighter and more cheerful during the second half. The energy can be quite intense, so it is wise to only include children if you are sure they will not be overwhelmed. Since this is the Witches’ New Year and the third and final harvest festival, it is nice to have an especially bountiful feast afterwards, if you can. [I recommend a pot luck, where everyone brings their favorite dish to share.] NOTE: Samhain is pronounced SOW-WEN

If desired, you can have people process into the circle (start on the outside and go into the circle one by one, usually down a path or from another room) and then be anointed by a member of the group as they enter the circle. If so, the person greeting should say something like: Welcome and blessed be, or Welcome to our Samhain celebration. Participants can be given copies of the spell now, or it can be handed around the circle later if desired.
Otherwise, simply have everyone assemble in the circle. If you have particular people picked out to lead or call quarters, they should stand in the appropriate spots. 
Cleanse and consecrate the circle and those within it by having someone walk around the outside of the space with the smudge stick (you can use a large feather to waft the smoke inward, if desired) OR pass the sage from person to person clockwise around the circle. Each person should then waft the smoke over them from feet to head.
Cast the circle. The HPS or HP can walk around the circle clockwise and point an athame towards the ground, saying: I cast this circle round and round, from earth to sky, from sky to ground. I conjure now this sacred space, outside of time, outside of place. The circle is cast, we are between the worlds.
ALTERNATELY—the circle can be cast “hand to hand,” in which case the leader takes the hand of the person to his/her left and says: I cast the circle hand to hand. That person then takes the hand of the person to his/her left and repeats, and so on around the circle until all are holding hands. Then the HPS/HP will say: The circle is cast; we are between the worlds.
Call the quarters. (This can be done by one person, or by four. Face the proper quarter and point in that direction with an athame or your finger. All present should also turn and point in that direction. Or people can hold their hands up, palms open to receive the energy.)
East: I call the Watchtower of the east, the power of Air, to protect our circle, blowing out the old year and welcoming in the new. (light yellow candle)
South: I call the Watchtower of the south, the power of Fire, to protect our circle, bringing the warmth and light of an autumn bonfire. (light red candle)
West: I call the Watchtower of the west, the power of Water, to protect our circle and wash away sorrow and regret. (light the red candle)
North: I call the Watchtower of the north, the power of Earth, to protect our circle and keep us grounded on this magickal night. (light the green candle)
HPS/HP invokes the goddess by raising arms to the sky and saying: Great goddess, Hecate, Lady of the Crossroads—we find ourselves at the crossroads of another year and look to you for guidance and comfort. Welcome, and blessed be. (light goddess candle)
 HPS/HP invokes the god by raising arms to the sky (hands may form the “horned god” sign by folding down three middle fingers, leaving pinky and thumb pointed up) and saying: Great Horned God, who rules the forests and the fields—keep us safe and strong on this dark night. Welcome and blessed be. (light god candle)
HPS/HP SABBAT INTRO: We have gathered here to celebrate Samhain, the third and final harvest festival of the year. It is the Witches’ New Year, and we have come through another cycle of the Wheel of the Year, and can look forward to the blessings of the days to come. Tonight, the veil between the worlds grows thin, and before we move on we must look back, letting go of all that we have lost in the last year. This may be a person or an animal who was dear to you, it may be a task at which you did not succeed, a wish that did not come to fruition, a job, a relationship, or anything else that causes you sorrow with its loss. Even things we have given up or walked away from voluntarily or those we lost in years before, whose loss still haunts us. All those people and things we will now say goodbye to, leaving us free to move on, at peace, without regrets.
[HPS/HP carries black pillar or taper candle over to table with tea lights /smaller candles, lights the candle and then lights a smaller light off of it] 
 HPS/HP: Each of us will now say goodbye—you can do this aloud or silently, as you chose.
[HPS/HP says goodbyes, then next participant steps up and lights candle, moving clockwise around the circle – IF DESIRED, DRUM QUIETLY IN THE BACKGROUND AS THIS IS HAPPENING]
When all have finished, have a moment of silence. [drumming should stop]
HPS/HP: Now we have put the past and our sorrows behind us, and we move on to our celebration of the New Year. We start clean and fresh, with eager hearts and lighter spirits. And so we will say a spell together to turn our pain into joy, and our losses into limitless potential, for within darkness there is always light, and the turning Wheel brings new possibilities for those who are open to them.
[HPS/HP lights white/red/silver candle and drumming can start again, pass out confetti, noisemakers, or small instruments if using, and copies of spell if not given out before]
Hecate, Hecate, Hecate
Bless us with your light
Hecate, Hecate, Hecate
Let the year be bright
Horned God, Horned God, Horned God
Keep us safe and strong
Horned God, Horned God, Horned God
Send joy the whole year long
Hecate! Horned God!
Bless us one and all
Hecate! Horned God!
Bless us one and all!
Throw confetti, make loud noises, or simply clap and cheer.
Have cakes and ale. Pass around circle, saying, “May you never hunger” (cakes) and “May you never thirst” (ale).
 Pass speaking stick, if using, and let each person have a moment to speak.
Dismiss the quarters. Each person who called a quarter should dismiss it, starting with north, then west, south, and east. Say: Power of ________, I thank you for your attendance in our circle. Stay if you will, go if you must, in perfect love and perfect trust. So mote it be. (snuff out candle)
Thank the god and goddess. HPS/HPS says: Great god, we thank you for your strength and energy, shared with us this day, in this sacred space. (snuff out candle) Great goddess, we thank you for your wisdom and love, shared with us this day, in this sacred space. (snuff out candle)
Open circle. If circle was cast hand to hand, all should grasp hands and then release with a yell, throwing hands up into the air. HPS/HP can also formally walk counter-clockwise around outside of circle, reversing their actions casting the circle. Otherwise, HPS/HP simply says: The circle is open but never broken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!
 Feast, if you’re having one!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Organizational Neurosis at Work

I have what I like to call (laughingly, but relatively accurately) an organizational neurosis. What this really translates to is that I like things neat and orderly. Which is not, mind you, to say that you will not find plenty of places in my house where things are chaotic. But still. I make my bed as soon as I get out of it. My books are alphabetized by author if they're fiction and shelved together by subject if they're nonfiction. (I did grow up in a library, with a librarian mother, so that may have had some influence there). Most things have their places. Whether they end up in them is an entirely different matter, of course.

My organizational neurosis actually works quite well for running a shop with 50 artists in it. The scheduling alone requires it. But I also find that I can tell A) when winter is coming and B) when I'm stressed by how much rearranging and organizing I start doing.

Apparently I don't do spring cleaning and clearing out nearly as much as I do it in fall. Probably because I know that I'm about to be stuck in my house with all the crap all winter long. *snort* But lately I've been really wanting to reorganize some of the trouble spots, including the space in my office/dining room where the swag and giveaway supplies had outgrown the shelves I'd been keeping them on, and the upstairs "craft/crap/catchall" room where I need to make a clear enough space for the guys who are installing the new windows to actually reach said windows.

So I started out by bringing an extra shelf unit down from upstairs and arranging all the swag on it and the shelf that was already in place.

It didn't work perfectly, but it worked. Good, right? Nope. Here's where the "neurosis" part comes in. Not only were things not fitting on the shelves quite right, but the two units didn't match and the black metal one didn't go with all the other wood things in the room. It kinda made me twitch. If this had been back in my "I'm broke so I'll suck it up and make do" days (you know, last week), I would have just learned to live with it. But I got a nice royalty check, so instead I ordered two new matching shelf units and redid the whole thing.

Luna and Angus helped, of course. If by helped you mean got in the way and made an even bigger mess.
 Look at it now. Isn't that better? Ahhhhh.

The unit on the left side has my "brag selves" with all my own books on them, plus some bundled goodies ready to give away. The bottom shelf is my Llewellyn-related giveaway items. Then the unit in the right has all the giveaway stuff and postcards/bookmarks/magnets, etc. for the Baba Yaga books and Veiled Magic.

Yes, I AM going to be doing a lot of giveaways, why do you ask?

Now all that leaves is the room upstairs. Oh, brother..

The boxes are all empty and waiting for me to use them to send things out. The rest of it is just...stuff.

The heaps are semi-organized. Not really. Save me.
Hopefully soon I'll be reporting back with pictures to show you how this space has succumbed to the organizational neurosis. And a new window.

In the meanwhile, check back on Tuesday, because that's when my next giveaway will go up, three weeks before the release of VEILED MAGIC. Since we're at that time of year, this one will have a Halloween theme. Here's a sneak peek at one of the prizes...

Hi! Aren't I cute? Boo!
So tell me, do you prefer things organized and neat or are you happy with chaos?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Veiled Magic Giveaway #1!

As you can see from the nifty counter up above, Veiled Magic's release date is fast approaching--4 weeks from today on Tuesday, November 17th! To celebrate (and hopefully get y'all to help me spread the word), I'm going to be doing a giveaway every Tuesday between now and then, including this one. (I'll also be doing some guest blogs with exclusive excerpts and a few other fun things, and they'll all have giveaways on them too. So make sure you check in often!)

Here's a picture of this week's Veiled Magic giveaway prize pack:

Prize Pack #1
There's a Veiled Magic tote bag, and inside will be a notebook, a mouse pad, a broom pen, some assorted swag (postcards, bookmarks, and the like), and a cute stuffed dragon!

Is there a dragon in the book? Well, I guess you'll have to read it and find out...

All you have to do to enter is use the Rafflecopter form below. You can pick some or all of the options, but the more you pick, the better your chances of winning. A few of the options can be done every day, too.

So tell me, are you as excited as I am about how close we're getting to Veiled Magic being out and about in the world?

(And be sure to check back, because in a couple of weeks the prize is going to be HUGE!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Free Short Story! (A Veiled Magic Short)

In case you didn't get the last newsletter, this is part of what was in it:

As I’m sure you all know, my next book, VEILED MAGIC is coming out on November 17th. (EEK!) This one isn’t part of the Baba Yaga series, although it does feature a witch. In fact, it is one of my favorites of all the books I’ve written and the one that got me my agent. Since the next Baba Yaga book, WICKEDLY POWERFUL, isn’t coming out until February, Berkley decided to buy VEILED MAGIC and put it out as an eBook to tide people over. If it does well enough, they might put it out and print and continue the series. We’ll have to wait and see. But in the meanwhile, I have a surprise for you. You see, there is a short story.

In fact, the short story, Dead and (Mostly) Gone is where the idea for VEILED MAGIC came from in the first place. The story was published in THE PAGAN ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT FICTION: 13 PRIZE WINNING TALES back in 2008, and many of the folks who read it said, “You should write a novel about that character.” So I did.  Sadly, the Anthology is out of print (although I have a few copies I’ll be giving away soon), so you can’t read the short story that started it all. Or CAN YOU????

In fact, you can. As a gift to my lovely readers, I am going to put it up on my website for free. (It’s not a very long short story—I just didn’t feel right charging for it. Besides, y’all have been so wonderful. You deserve a reward!) If you want a first look at Donata, the protagonist from VEILED MAGIC, you can go read the story HERE. Enjoy!

VEILED MAGIC: Barnes & Noble |Amazon |Penguin

I’m going to be doing all sorts of giveaways leading up to the publication day of VEILED MAGIC (and then the next Baba Yaga novella in January and the novel in February) so you might want to follow the blog by email so you can be sure you don’t miss a thing. There’s a place to sign up at the left side of the blog

In fact, I'm going to be doing giveaways every week until the book comes out. Are you excited NOW?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Audio Books!!!

For those who have been asking (and who missed the announcement in this week's newsletter), YES, VIRGINIA, WE HAVE AUDIO BOOKS!!!!

Working with Tantor Media, Berkley has put out audio versions of both Wickedly Dangerous and Wickedly Wonderful. They are available as either audio CDs or MP3-CRs (Hint: both are on sale right now on the Tantor website!)

Here are some links, in case you have been waiting for them:

Wickedly Dangerous: Amazon - B&N - Tantor - iTunes
Wickedly Wonderful: Amazon - B&N - Tantor

Interestingly, the audio books have completely different covers. I really like them, although I'm not sure I like them as much as the originals. What do you think? Which covers do you like better? And do you listen to books on audio?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Newsletter Alert!

Just FYI, I'm going to be putting on my quarterly (more or less) newsletter tomorrow. If you want to make sure you don't miss it (or any other important announcements), you can sign up at the big white form at the top left of this blog.

Or, you know, just wait a couple of extra days for me to get around to announcing the news here :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's Fall, and That Means...

It's fall, and that means...

Mother Nature is putting on a beautiful show.

The hills behind my house. The view from my house is actually blocked by pine trees, so I have to walk next door to see it.

I'm getting the last of the harvest in and putting up pesto (before the basil gets frosted, since it is the most delicate thing in the garden) and applesauce (since my trees are loaded with apples this year).

Pesto ingredients and one small cat who is not allowed on the counter. Yes, that's Luna. Yes, she's still here. That's a discussion for another blog post. The lemon is my secret ingredient.

Finished pesto. Most of it will go into the freezer to bring a spark of summer glory in the midst of winter.

The apples on the right are Golden Delicious. The apples on the left are a mystery apple. The trees long predate my buying the house--14 years ago--and this tree never gave me apples until this year. Go figure.
And tearing down the garden. That means dismantling the pond fountain and filter (a slimy, wet, and unpleasant job), planting next year's garlic with the help of pal Ellen, and clearing and covering the beds.

Dying tomato plants on the left. They'll come out soon. Brussels Sprouts. More tomatoes to the right mixed in with the asparagus ferns which still have to be clipped back.

The pond

This guy was supervising.
Fall also means that it is time for another newsletter! If you haven't signed up yet, you should do it right away, since I'm hoping it will go out at the beginning of the week. There is going to be all sorts of fun news that my newsletter readers get to hear first. You can use the form at the top left of the blog, or this link: NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

I usually only send out about four newsletters a year (seasonally, more or less), although there may be a few extra in the coming months as the new books come out. Did you realize that it is only five weeks until VEILED MAGIC comes out on November 17th? Eek! If you want, you can preorder and it will be automatically delivered to you on the day! (It is an ebook only, but if you don't have an ereader, you can download a free app and read it on your computer.)

Also, be sure to check back here often in the next five weeks (or, you know, sign up to get email notifications when there is a new blog post) because I am about to go into SUPER GIVEAWAY MODE. And you don't want to miss what's coming up...

Happy fall! What's it like where you are?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Giveaway and News About a Short Story

As many of you know, I have a novel coming out in mid-November called VEILED MAGIC. This one's not part of the Baba Yaga series, although it does feature a completely different kind of witch... Veiled Magic is coming out as an eBook only for now, to tide y'all over until WICKEDLY POWERFUL comes out in February.  In fact, Veiled Magic has a very special place in my heart, because it was the book that finally got me my wonderful agent, Elaine Spencer.

What you may NOT know is that the idea for Veiled Magic came from a short story I wrote for The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction, which came out back in 2008 as a combined effort from Llewellyn and BBI Media (which puts out the Witches & Pagans Magazine, where I now have a regular column, although back then they didn't know me from Adam). Sadly, the book didn't do as well as they'd hoped, and is now out of print. But I happen to have a couple of copies stashed away, and I thought that it would be great to give one away so that one lucky winner would be able to read the short story that started it all. [There are also some very cool stories from my friends Alex Bledsoe and C.S.MacCath, both of whom I met through that project.]

In truth, Veiled Magic would never have been written at all, if so many people hadn't read my short story, Dead and (Mostly) Gone and said, "Hey! You should write a book about that character!" I still love that title (grin). Thankfully, I have the rights to the story, so I will be putting it up online soon at a whopping .99 cents in case anyone else wants to read it. But for now, I'll be giving away a copy of the anthology, plus a couple of little extras. (The cat stays, I'm afraid.)

The book, a broom pen, and a cool postcard.

A rare copy of The Pagan Anthology of Short Fiction
 As always, it is easy to enter by using the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to everyone. No purchase is necessary (although if you want to preorder the book, I will certainly allow it). Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway