Thursday, April 28, 2016

Birthday Not-Celebration Giveaway!

So, today, April 28th, is my birthday, and I'm not really celebrating.

Don't get me wrong--I have nothing against birthdays. Birthdays are cool. Turning 56 is a little yawnnnnnn... but mostly, I'm just not doing anything in particular, because, well, me.

For instance, my friend John is coming over tonight for a BBQ and to help me out in the garden because my twisted knee is still, you know, twisted. We'll hang out, eat yummy food, and watch a movie. But it doesn't have anything to do with my birthday. We would have done it anyway.

And the closest I came to getting myself a present was to spend money redoing my driveway. Yes, it is distinctly possible I suck at this. (pictures of driveway to follow)

Which is why the closest I am going to come to an actual celebration of my birthday is by giving away stuff to y'all. Just because that's the way I roll. I asked on Facebook if I should do a giveaway with a VEILED MAGIC theme, or a WICKEDLY POWERFUL theme, or one focused on the upcoming first Rider book, DANGEROUSLY CHARMING
and it was a tie between Veiled Magic and Dangerously Charming. (Thanks. Jeez.)

So here is the prize pack:

Birthday giveaway!
 The first few pieces of Dangerously Charming swag, including a notebook and a postcard magnet, plus another notebook and a tote bag for Veiled Magic, and a broom pen just because.

In case you were wondering what I wanted for my birthday (I know you were), I'd really love to get a few more reviews for Veiled Magic and Wickedly Powerful. So if you've read them, pretty please? Let everyone else know that you liked them?

And now, happy my birthday to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 22, 2016

Feline Friday: Lounging Around

It has been a while since I did a Feline Friday post. Clearly, I'm overdue. (No, really--the cats told me so.)

I'm still recovering from severely twisting my knee three weeks ago, and other than having people drive me back and forth to work (I still can't drive, although I did make a very short excursion to the post office down the street on Wednesday to mail off giveaway prizes, so hopefully soon...) I'm basically stuck inside the house.

This has given me a lot of opportunities to cat-watch, as you might imagine. So I took some extra pictures. Here's one of my favorites:

That's Magic the Cat (Queen of the Universe) looking slightly Put Out that her pal Angus has the temerity to touch her tail. But I think it's sweet. Angus has been battling an eye issue (probably viral) one and off since January, and for the last three weeks I've been trying to get antibiotic eye drops into his right eye three times a day. He views this as akin to the tortures of hell, and being a skittish cat to begin with, he has now started running away as soon as I come within five feet of him. Given that he has four working knees and I only have one, this had made the entire thing an interesting challenge... He's now on an oral anti-viral as well, but thankfully my beloved vet was able to get a compounding pharmacy to make it up in liquid form. It was supposed to get squirted directly into his mouth, but not only did that mean catching him an extra two times a day, but it apparently tasted NASTY, since he foamed at the mouth the one time I tried it. Now it is hidden in wet food, and apparently that's working. SIGH.

Magic and Mystic enjoying the sunlight.

Angus, who took over the patch of sun when Mystic got up, looking perfectly happy as long as I didn't make any fast moves.

After the first bad week, I went back to doing my energy healing work on my regular client/pal Julie. As you can see here, Magic often gets up and helps. It's amazing how often she puts a paw on just the right spot. (You can just see Angus curled up on a catnip pillow on the futon in the background.)

Mystic, looking majestic.

Little Luna, who stays in the upstairs room most of the time because she is too aggressive with Magic and Mystic is too aggressive with her, has gotten the short end of the stick since I hurt myself, since getting up and down the stairs is difficult. Some days, doing it twice to feed her is all I can manage. But there have been a few days when I managed to catch Mystic and Magic napping in the bedroom, shut the door, and let Luna come run around for a few hours. Here she is enjoying the first day of open windows.

Happy Feline Friday to you! Anything fun planned for the weekend?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Nine Months Until the Tarot Deck! Guest Post by Elisabeth Alba

This is cross-posted from the blog of Elisabeth Alba, who illustrated the Everyday Witch Tarot I wrote for Llewellyn. Here's what she had to say as we hit the (more or less) nine month mark before the deck is released:

Hi All! Well Deborah and I don’t know the exact publication date yet, nor can we share the packaging design, but at least we have less than a year until publication! We’re so excited! We thought it was time to share another image.

The 5 of Wands… when I first read the description that Deborah wrote, I was dreading working on this image. The description: “Five witches in black hats (some tilted crookedly in the heat of the moment) and various color capes are standing around a cauldron. Each holds a parchment scroll (or a toad dangling by one leg, or some herb) in one hand and a wand in another, and they are clearly arguing about who has the best recipe for whatever spell they’re working on. To the right, five cats of different colors are hissing at each other. Unnoticed by the witches, the potion in the cauldron is beginning to seep over the edge and onto the ground and small flames are springing up. The mood is of unnecessary and unproductive argument among people who truly agree.”

The Wands had a few multi-character cards, AND this one included five cats to boot! A daunting composition to figure out.
Here is my rough sketch. You can see I made a few adjustments from the description:
Then I took reference for the witches, using myself as the model for all five of them because I was in Europe at the time and had no one else I could use. The reference is pretty hilarious…
In the end though, it became one of my favorite cards and I love the colors. Here’s the final image (followed by the full text)!
“I know best! No, I do!”

Sometimes it is hard to work with other people. Other times, it’s impossible.
“These witches are the best of friends and all of them are skillful and knowledgeable. Just think what they could achieve if they could actually cooperate. Unfortunately, each one is sure that she has the best recipe, or knows the most powerful ingredients, or which direction to stir the pot in. Now they’re so busy arguing, nobody is stirring the pot, and you can almost see the explosion that is sure to come. Let’s hope they come to their senses in time and remember that they can achieve much more working together if they can all just stop trying to be the one who is right. Things to consider: If the Five of Wands shows up in your reading, it probably means that you are dealing with some kind of chaotic situation involving other people. Family, co-workers, friends—whoever it is, they clearly aren’t playing nice together. Are you? Maybe you can be the peacemaker, the one who helps everyone to come together in a more productive way. Maybe this is a situation that can’t be resolved, and you would be better off walking away. Sadly, you can’t make other people behave reasonably, but you can make sure that you aren’t making things worse by letting your ego or pride get in the way of cooperation. You wouldn’t do that, would you?”

The deck will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide in January 2017.
Meanwhile, you should consider pre-ordering the Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot, written by Melanie Marquis and illustrated by my husband, Scott Murphy! :D

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Love Fairy Tales Giveaway

As you've probably figured out by now, I love modern retellings of old fairy tales. That's why I ended up writing the Baba Yaga series, based on an updated version of the old Russian Fairy tales of a sometime wicked/sometimes not witch. Of course, like all modern retellings, my version is a little bit different from the original.

Barbara, my modern Baba Yaga, complete with her dragon-disguised-as-a-dog

A rendition of the classic Baba Yaga, riding in her mortar, steered by a pestle. (Barbara's now looks like a BMW motorcycle)
I've been thinking* about just how much I love these kinds of stories lately because my lovely friend Sierra (also my research goddess) recommended a cool book by Naomi Novak, UPROOTED. This isn't an updated fairy tale at all, really, just a new one set in a Slavic world like the one the Baba Yagas come from. There is a poor peasant girl who turns out to have magic, a powerful magician named The Dragon, and, well, it's just wonderful.

You should read this.
I have so many fairy tales, both old and new, that I love. Jim C. Hines did a great series that put an entirely new spin on the traditional princesses, starting with The Stepsister Scheme. Robin McKinley has written a bunch of them. So I thought we'd spend a little time celebrating all of our favorites. Which means a fun giveaway, of course!
I've put together a prize pack including the winner's choice of one of my Baba Yaga books (Wickedly DangerousWickedly Wonderful, or Wickedly Powerful), a cute stuffed dragon, a 3D magnet that says "You say WICKED like it is a Bad Thing" (that one cracks me up), a Wicked Good Beer bottle opener (I found those on Cape Cod last summer and couldn't resist--they're magnetic too, so they can go right on the fridge), a broom pen, and some bookmarks and such. A fun fairy tale kinda giveaway, you might say.

Sorry, black cat not included. She was just supervising, as usual.
 You can enter using the Rafflecopter form, and as always, you get extra points for doing the stuff that makes me really happy, like buying a new book or putting up a review of one of the ones you've read (it has to be a new review, but you can always copy an older one to a different place, like Goodreads). Or you can just leave a comment here, answering this question:

What is your favorite modern or classic fairy tale?

I can't wait to see what you all have to say!

*This is what happens when I'm laid up with a twisted knee.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Don't Try This At Home

So, you might have noticed that things have been a bit quiet over here lately. There's a reason for this. (Those of you who follow me on Facebook probably already know what it is.) Last Saturday, I tried out my new contortionist act, and it didn't go well.

Okay, that's not exactly what happened. It seemed like a simple plan. I ordered a new futon to replace the really beat up hand-me-down twin mattress and box spring in the upstairs guest bedroom (aka "the room where Luna lives"). I cleaned the room, put Luna and her litter box in the other upstairs room, and when the futon arrived, my lovely friend John came over with his truck so he could help me carry down the old mattresses, take them to the dump, and then put together the futon--mostly in preparation for a visit this summer by my daughter Jennifer, but also because Luna had reduced the already crappy mattresses to this:

Gee, I don't know why Jenn didn't want to keep sleeping on these...
So John and I very carefully carried the top of the mattress down the stairs and put it in his truck. Very carefully, because I have steep, narrow, treacherous old farmhouse stairs.

Nice paint job, huh? I did that. That's the landing and the top three stairs.
 Then we went back for the box spring...and things went HORRIBLY WRONG.

I swear, I was being really careful. I've lived in this house for 14 1/2 years and I know how tricky the stairs are. And yet, somehow, while John was at the bottom of the stairs with one end of the box spring, and I was coming down the top with the other end, I missed a step. (Note how tall the steps are. Old farmhouses. They really are trying to kill you.) So my left foot ended up on the landing, while my right foot was still on the second stair up.

There might have been screaming. (John swears there wasn't cursing, but I'm not sure I believe him.) In short, I twisted/torqued/screwed the crap out of my right knee. Ow.

I could tell as soon as I did it that it was Very Bad. Sometimes you just know. We got ice on it right away. I took arnica. Wrapped it with an Ace bandage while we quickly ran to the dump, and stayed off of it the best I could while we put together the futon. [Which wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but after all this, the damned thing is staying. Jenn, you better love it. I'm just sayin'.]

I was pretty sure I hadn't torn anything, although it can be tough to tell. The knee blew up like a balloon (and not one of those fun, party balloons) but didn't turn black and blue, and my former-nurse friend agreed with me that if I went to Urgent Care, they'd basically charge me a lot of money to tell me to R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevate) plus take ibuprofen, all of which I was already doing. So this has pretty much been my week:

Couch, ice packs, borrowed quad-cane, a bunch of pillows. Watching the unseasonable snow come down outside the window.
I can't drive--hell, I can barely walk--so I had to find people to fill in for me at work. (Which they very kindly did.) Friends have brought me food, helped to feed Luna upstairs (I can get up the stairs, but it ain't pleasant), put out birdseed, brought me an Ace compression bandage, even today, helped me wash my hair in the sink, since I can't get in and out of the large cast iron tub that holds my shower.

My friend John took me to acupuncture on Tuesday, where my acupuncturist (who happens to be a neurologist most of the time) confirmed that I was doing all the right things, and that unless it still wasn't improving in a couple of weeks, there wasn't much point in going to the doctor. Mostly, he said, it was going to take time. Probably a lot of time. Bah.

There have been a few compensations:

Kitties to keep me company, and good books to read. Thankfully, I have a LOT of books on the TBR shelf.
I thought I'd get a lot of writing done, but to be honest, the first few days I mostly just lay on the couch and read. Apparently your body doesn't like it when you throw it down the stairs. Go figure.

I'm finally starting to get a little bit of writing done, and my editor loved the manuscript I sent her for DANGEROUSLY CHARMING, so the copy edits are done on that--whew. Now I'm working on Gregori's story, which we're calling DANGEROUSLY DIVINE, and spending a lot of quality time with ice packs, not getting much of anything done. Sigh.

Did I mention? Don't try this at home, kids.

I think I should do some kind of giveaway. (Even though it will be a while before I can get to the post office to mail it out.) How about the signed book of the winner's choice to the person who comes up with the most entertaining/amusing/clever suggestion for what to do with myself while I'm laid up? Keep it clean, people. I'm injured here.