Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Natalie Zaman and Magical Destinations of the Northeast

As most of you know, I live in the northeast USA, so you can imagine how happy I was to discover that Llewellyn was putting out a book called MAGICAL DESTINATIONS OF THE NORTHEAST, by Natalie Zaman. They sent me an early copy to look at so I could blurb it, and man, is this book fun! So I asked Natalie to stop by the blog and say hello, and tell us what kind of cool magical places one might find in New York State in particular.

Are you as thrilled as me that the new Harry Potter film is set in America? And in New York!!!

Personally, I can’t wait to look for all the magical spots as they’re portrayed in the movie…

But wait.

New York—and not just NYC—is already a magical place. I’m delighted that Deborah Blake (insert fan girl moment!) invited me to do a guest post on her blog about this very subject—so in honor of her (she is a New Yorker!), Harry Potter and all things beasty, here are some places where you can really find Fantastic Beasts in the Empire State (and some are totally free!):

If you find yourself east of the Hudson River near the Connecticut border (South Salem, NY), you can run with the WOLVES at the New York Wolf Conservation Center.

MOOSE—not just in Maine anymore! Visit Adirondack Park for a potential moose sighting. They’ve been in the park since 1980!

Narrowsburgh, New York is the EAGLE Capital of the northeast. In addition to the 20 pairs of nesting eagles who are current residents, up to 200 birds winter here from points north in Canada. Visit Narrowsburgh is January and February to see eagles flying overhead.

Visit all sort of other BIRDS at Berkshire Bird Paradise—the largest avian sanctuary in the state.

New York state is home to several FARM SANCTUARIES, places where animals of all shapes and sizes, some abused and abandoned have found forever homes where visitors are welcome. Check out the Catskills Animal Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.

ADOPT a pet in/from New York? I did! Check out Time Out NY’s picks to adopt a pet in New York City. The New York Humane Society has been helping animals for over a century, and Rescue Me maintains listings of rescue agencies and shelters by state.

And of course, the Big Apple is home to many fantastical creatures…

  • Take an OWL or BAT tour in Central Park, the city’s largest green spot. 
  • The Cloisters is home to the famed UNICORN tapestries. 
  • Rub the snout of the BOAR in Sutton Place Park for good luck! 
  • Strike a pose with the Library LIONS at NYPL’s main branch on 53rd Street. 
  • BULLS and BEARS—Oh my! Visit these icons of tenacity and strength on Wall Street in the Financial District. 
  • Suspend expectations as you gaze at “Gran Elephandret” in Union Square between 14th and 17th Streets, an ELEPHANTINE rendition of The Hanged Man. 
  • Visit the Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn to see the wildlife (there’s lots), and pay your respects to Henry Bergh, the founder of the ASPCA (there are also several beloved pets buried in the cemetery as well). 

  • Find more fantastic beasts near you by visiting Animal Tourism—there are listing by species and state Visit the Ephemeral New York blog to find more animal sculptures and art scattered throughout New York City.

    With love from the Wandering Witch

    Natalie Zaman is the author of Magical Destinations of the Northeast and co-author of the Graven Images Oracle deck (Galde Press). A regular contributor to various Llewellyn annual publications, she also writes the recurring feature “Wandering Witch” for Witches & Pagans Magazine. When not on the road, she’s busy chasing a flock of free range hens around her magical back-garden. Visit Natalie online at

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    Holiday Gift Specials from Yours Truly!

    So, I've had a few requests for signed books for people to give as holiday gifts, and of course, Elisabeth Alba and I have been playing around with some ways to allow people to give the EVERYDAY WITCH TAROT as a gift even though it isn't actually out until January here's what I've come up with. Feel free to email me, or message me on Facebook with orders, special requests or questions. Some of the additional goodies are in limited supply, so if you're interested in them, let me know right away. (The best email to use for this is or Facebook message me.) Or you could leave me a message here, but if you do, make sure you leave an email for me to use to get back to you.

    I will happily send out any signed book (although with a few little goodies like paper bookmarks, and such) for the cost of the book plus shipping. In addition, here are a few specials just for the holidays:

    A full signed set of all three Baba Yaga books plus the new Rider book, Dangerously Charming, plus the simple goodies mentioned above. If you get the full set, I'll throw in FREE SHIPPING. (So the set would be $32.)

    The Complete Set!
     For an extra $10, I'll throw in one of the following:
    A Dangerously Charming notebook (only one available)
    A Wickedly Powerful notebook (only two available)

    Notebooks! With lined paper.
    A motorcycle bookmark (5 available)
    A pentacle bookmark (1 available)
    A dragon keychain (5 available)
    or one of the two remaining limited edition etched keychains (they say Dangerously Charming) with motorcycle dangles.

    Bookmarks and keychains!
    Any of these options would be $42. The free shipping options are for the USA only, alas, although I will happily send any of these anywhere if you don't mind paying whatever the shipping is for International. I'll be taking payments through Paypal, which is easy to use.

    If you want to give the tarot cards as a gift, I've got 40 gift cards that I'll send out for free (but when they're gone, they're gone) so you can give the recipient something to show them what they'll be getting. Elisabeth also has a downloadable option if you'd rather do that or if you're outside the USA. It has a picture of the Strength card on the cover, along with "A Gift for You," and the inside has a gift note. The back has a holiday greeting and signatures from me and Elisabeth.

    Gift cards front, middle, back
    Plus, of course, I have all the jewelry I've made. I don't know if I'll have time to get anything much up on Etsy (it annoys me), although I do have a shop there -- but you can also check out the pictures I've put up on Facebook, or email/message me if you are looking for something made from a particular stone.

    So, there you have it; a few holiday gift specials from yours truly. I've never tried doing this before, so I guess we'll find out together if it is something people are really interested in. Let me know if you think of something clever I've forgotten! Happy holidays.

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Less Than Two Months Until Tarot Release!

    Elisabeth and I are totally pumped about the upcoming publication of the Everyday Witch Tarot! What a long process… to finally see the finished product and hold it in our hands will be amazing. We’d like to share two more images from the deck, as well as throw another GIVEAWAY!!! See bottom of post for info about the giveaway.

    It’s been a tough few months. We thought the Tower and Strength cards from the Major Arcana would be appropriate cards to share during this time.

    “Chaos and destruction—things go boom.”
    Sometimes things have to crash and burn to make room for something new and better.

    Deborah writes, “The Tower is one of the cards people find most frightening, since it always denotes some kind of chaos and major change (usually one that doesn’t show up in a positive manner). My take on it is a little different, as you can see from what I wrote in the Everyday Witch Tarot book. I’m not saying that things don’t look BAD when this card shows up…just that we need to look past the obvious “towering” that’s going on, to see if there is a glimmer of light visible through the smoke.”

    From the book: A fairy tale tower lies in smoking ruins. To one side is a witch with a mischievous look on her face, a wand hidden behind her back with tiny sparks shooting out of it. A black cat peers cautiously out from underneath some nearby bushes. The witch is wearing a black pointed hat and a black cape, and both the cape and her long dark hair are blowing in the wind created by the explosion. The feeling of the card is wild and chaotic, but not depressing. In fact, you suspect that perhaps this witch has purposely blown things up. You just can’t for the life of you figure out why.
    Life rarely runs smoothly, but there are times when it seems as though our entire existence is crashing down around our ears. Jobs are lost, relationships implode, we lose friendships that we treasured. Some of this is just Life. After all, as everyone knows, Stuff Happens. But much of the time, that chaos and destruction has to occur to make room for something new and better. Take heart. Try to see the positive in even the worst situation. You can survive the blast.

    Things to consider – Depending on where this card falls in the reading, the explosion may already have happened, you may be in the midst of the chaos, or disaster may still be on its way. If the tower has already gone boom, what can you learn from the experience? What new and positive things can rise out of the ashes of what you have lost? If you are in the midst of the mess, how can you cope better or who can you ask for help? If the crisis is on the horizon, how can you prepare better, now that you know it is coming? Look deep and you may find that you already knew there was something you had to let go of, no matter how difficult the process might be. What can you build out of whatever remains?

    “I am power, hear me roar.”
    You are stronger than you think.

    Deborah writes: Strength is one of my favorite cards in any deck, and especially in ours (I just love the way Elisabeth drew it). It is a good card to get along with The Tower, since it shows that you have the strength you need to deal with whatever is going on.”

    A witch in a black hat points the wand in her right hand off to the side, pushing away a powerful storm. Light is streaming out of the wand, and a funnel cloud can be seen moving away, taking darkness with it. The rest of the card is light, and the witch is so confident in her magic that she isn’t even looking in that direction. Instead, her attention is directed at the giant lion to her left, which she is feeding a cookie to with her other hand. At its feet sits a black cat, looking proud, as if it is saying, “It followed me home, can I keep it?”

    There is a lot of power in the Strength card, but it isn’t because the witch has more magic than anyone else, or can turn you into a toad without a second thought. (Although both of those may be true.) Her power comes from confidence in her own abilities, and knowing that the universe makes all things come right in the end. Even her cat has that kind of confidence, and views the huge lion as just a slightly larger member of the family. The Strength card reminds us that we have what it takes to triumph, no matter what comes our way.

    Things to consider: If this card appears in a reading, it is almost certainly there to remind you of your own inner strength. It is saying, “Yes, yes you can.” You may feel overwhelmed or uncertain, but whatever you are facing, you have the strength to endure, and in the end, triumph.

    Take heart, everyone!
    And now, finally, THE GIVEAWAY!!!

    We’ve got two items for two lucky winners! Deborah is giving away the mini Tarot to Go! set, and Elisabeth is offering a lined hardback notebook featuring the art for the 9 of Pentacles on the front! Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    Lucienne Diver and Faultlines

    I'd like to welcome my friend Lucienne Diver to the blog. I fell in love with Lucienne's writing through her lighthearted paranormal romances, but she has a book out today that is a complete change of pace--and it looks truly amazing. So I invited her here to talk about what it took to do such a major shift of her writing gears, and ask her why she felt the need to write this book in particular. I hope you'll give her a warm, Writing the Witchy Way welcome.

    Lucienne: Shifting Gears
    I've been writing since I was eleven years old. At first it was a lot of wish fulfillment, like my story about the girl in the forest who tamed the unicornoh, how I wanted that to be me! (Yes, I was one of those girls, the unicorn girls. There was hardly a space on my walls that wasn't taken up with their images.) 
    And thenwell, as I write, it occurs to me that there wasn't really an and then.  Not for a long while.  The two series I've written, Vamped and the Latter-Day Olympians, have featured snarky heroines who are tough enough to take on anything life throws at them. They're special. They have powers, not the least of which is thinking of that perfect one-liner I'd only ever come up with after the moment had passed.  I love these girls. I want to be them when I grow up. Well, maybe not Gina so much, since I do like my tanning options, but certainly Tori from the Latter-Day Olympians series with two hunky guys falling all over themselves for her and the ability to quite literally stop men in their tracks.
    But with Faultlines, I'm writing about things I wouldn't wish on anyone, yet teens deal with them on a daily basis. Sure, I put my issues into a suspense plot, but that only ups the tension and stakes rather than lessens them.  I couldn't wisecrack my way through this book.  My tone had to change.  This was difficult for me at first. As my critique partner could tell you, my first few beginnings were too light in tone. Too flippant or distant for what was going on.  My character, Vanessa, needed to be wrecked.  Really and truly. Her best friend Lisa had just committed suicide, and she didn't know why. Lisa had pushed her away, pushed everyone away, a few months prior to her death. Vanessa blames herself for letting it happen, for not fighting harder for the friendship and for not seeing the signs. She's dealing with horrible guilt on top of her loss and gets herself through things by finding a purpose, the search for answers about why Lisa did what she did. Unfortunately, that search brings danger to her door. 
    This was the hardest thing I've ever written. To tap into Vanessa's emotions, I had to tap into my own. Books don't develop in a void. They're spawned from our own experiences, and this book came from a deep, dark place within me.  I was afraid to access that place, afraid that rather than me illuminating the void, the darkness would reach out to snuff my light. I needed a very strong and powerful light as a talisman against that dark, both for Vanessa and for myself.  That talisman came in the form of her little sister Ari, who she dubs the "tiny terror".  Ari is alternately irrepressible, troublesome and sweet.  She's a force of nature, and she will not be denied.
    With all the sorrow in the worldthe terrible stories of bullying and harassment, suicide and other violence turned inward or outwardit's vital that we all find our light, that thing that banishes our darkness, whether it's people who love us, furbabies (or scaled or feathered babies) who count on us or art that refills our well.  When you find your light, shout down any voice, internal or external, that tells you that it's frivolous or a unacceptable or anything else. Especially, don't bully yourself. It's self-care, and it's crucial.
    I love my strong, snarky heroines, but I want to speak for others as well, just as in Faultlines, where Vanessa needs to speak for Lisa when she can no longer speak for herself.

    I love this cover, don't you? Deborah
     In case you're interested in learning more about the book or (yes!) getting a copy for yourself, here are a couple of recommendations, the book blurb, and a couple of links. If you have any questions for Lucienne, go ahead and ask them! She's going to be GIVING AWAY A SIGNED COPY to one lucky commenter!

    “Vivid, suspenseful, and charming, Diver creates a world where anything can happen in this must-read page-turner.” —Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Need series
    “Faultlines blew me away! A tense, suspenseful read that will break your heart and keep you guessing right up until the very end.” —Amy Christine Parker, author of GATED and ASTRAY

    Six months ago Vanessa Raines lost her best friend.
    Lisa had changed, pushing away everyone close to her, even Vanessa. She had quit soccer. Started wearing dark and dismal clothes. She refused every offer to talk and suffered whatever she was going through in silence. Now she’s really gone. Suicide they claim, but Vanessa knows that isn’t right. It can’t be.
    Vanessa blames herself for letting Lisa chase her off. She wants answers, so that she can put to rest the rumors surrounding Lisa’s death and so that she can move on, heal. But Lisa left no note and the journal she was always scribbling in—which might tell all—is mysteriously missing.
    As Vanessa struggles to come to terms with the loss of her friend and to reconstruct the last months of Lisa’s life, someone calling themselves “Poetic Justice” begins taking revenge against those he or she thinks drove Lisa to suicide. Everyone at school believes Vanessa is this mysterious “Poetic Justice”. It’s easy to blame the former best friend, and Vanessa makes an obvious target.
    Struggling with her own guilt, Vanessa is determined to ignore the threats and allegations aimed her way. But as Poetic Justice’s vengeance takes a darker turn, retaliation against Vanessa begins to escalate, from cyber bullying to violence, putting both her and the little sister she adores in the line of fire. To protect them both, she has to find out who’s behind the attacks before things turn deadly. And hope she can survive the truth.

    Pre-order links:


    Thursday, November 3, 2016

    A Knee Update

    For those of you who have been following along with the saga, here is an update on the knee I injured back on April 1st. It has now been seven months, and while it no longer looks like this:

     From missing a step while coming down these:

    It also hadn't improved as much as my physical therapist would have liked after three months of rest and more than three months of PT. I've mostly stopped limping, but the knee still doesn't bend very far, and it is still sore. (The not bending knee means I can't do most forms of exercise, which is a pain in other ways.)

    So I finally broke down and went to the orthopedic specialists, saw a lovely PA named Brinn (who happens to be married to one of the vets at the practice I take the cats to, which made me feel strangely at home). She said I probably had torn the meniscus, and would have to have surgery, and sent me for an MRI.

    I went back today expecting to be given a surgery date (which on the down side, would have been expensive and tough to manage during the busy season at the shop, but on the up side, would presumably have fixed the problem, with some additional PT).

    But, SURPRISE. No surgery. No tear, actually. (SEE, I was right all along. There you go.) But, and this is the big butt (no smartass comments, since I actually have a big butt after 7 months of no exercise, dammit)...the issue is apparently a bone contusion. Plus arthritis, but since that no doubt existed before I threw myself down the stairs, probably isn't really the problem here.

    So the good news is, no surgery. (Yay) But the bad news is that even after 7 months, the bone contusion is taking a very long time to heal, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. (Boo.) No quick fixes. I had a steroid shot, in the hope that it will take down the inflammation enough so that I can make more progress with the PT exercises (I've actually gone backwards in the last couple of months, although no one is really sure way). And other than that, all that I can do is keep working at it and be patient.