Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fall Cleaning for Samhain

I know most people do their major “big clean” in the spring, but I’m actually a fall cleaning kind of girl. In the weeks leading up to Samhain (Halloween), as it starts to get darker and colder, I am always seized by the urge to do a deep clean of all the rooms in the house, straighten up and rearrange any clutter, and get rid of stuff I no longer use or need.

My minimalist holiday display.

I’m not sure if this is because on some level I know I’m about to be stuck mostly inside the house for the winter, or if it is a more spiritual urge brought on by the ending of one year and the desire to start clean for the next. (Samhain is considered to be both the end of the year and the start of the new year in the Pagan Wheel of the Year).

Either way, I start by dusting and rearranging my altars, and the shelves where I store and display my stones, cute little cat and dragons, and all the rest. Then I go through each room and do a much more thorough clean and neaten than usually gets accomplished in my weekly Saturday house cleaning. Ah! It feels so good to have everything (okay, most things) nice and tidy, at least for as long as it lasts.

The shelf over the couch.

The desk in the dining room and another shelf. Look, you can actually see the surface of the desk!

This is also the time when I do my yearly protection spell on my house and property, preparing it for the seasons to come. Do you do a spring cleaning, a fall cleaning, or something else entirely?

The stone circle behind the barn, weed-whacked and ready for ritual on Tuesday.

Happy fall!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Witch's Broom and a Magickal Broom Giveaway

We're rapidly approaching the most magical holiday of them all, Halloween--or as many Witches refer to it, Samhain. This day is often referred to as the Witch's New Year, when we say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new.

So what better time to welcome in a new cover for one of my favorite books, THE WITCH'S BROOM? Llewellyn has decided to give the entire series new, matching covers, and while I loved the old one (sniffle) I think the new one is very cool too.

As it happens, my pal Robert Skinner, of Blue Moon Broom, Brush, and Besom, just sent me some very cool magickal brooms to give away as I chose. (Isn't he sweet?) So one lucky winner will get a copy of the book with its new cover, and a fun broom to go with it, just in time for the holiday (you know, or close).

As always, just fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter, and you get credit for things you've already done, like following me on Twitter or following the blog here. (You do that, right?) No purchase necessary, but feel free to buy a book, leave a review of one you read and liked, or otherwise spread the word about how fun my books are. You know, unless you don't think they are!

So, do you like the new cover?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 16, 2017

Season's End

It is always a little bittersweet to get to this part of the fall, when I put the garden to bed, put away the outdoor furniture and fountain, and start cleaning the house to prepare for a long winter stuck inside. (I do a "fall cleaning" blitz rather than a spring one, usually.)

On the one hand, it is something of a relief to have one less thing on my plate--and the garden is a fair amount of work. On the other, it provides a bit of therapy and lots of lovely fresh veggies, which I'll miss. Still, this part of the year always rolls around, and here we are again.

Two weekends ago, my sainted friend Ellen (who will work for veggies and beer, bless her) helped me tear out the rest of the garden and put it to bed for the winter. I just left the basil (since we have been having a run of unusually warm weather, and I hadn't made the second batch of pesto yet). All I have left to do now is cover the beds with straw and pull the pump from the new pond.

Ellen taking down the last of the tomato cages.

An amphibian supervisor next to the asparagus bed.

It seems so empty now. The greenery you see is outside the garden. And mostly weeds.
Then I spent much of this last weekend putting up the last of the harvest, turning my bounty of golden delicious apples into applesauce (they're not really the perfect apple for that, being a bit too sweet, but they're ugly little organic apples and aren't great for eating out of hand) and much of the remaining basil into pesto. Everything that's left will probably die in the frost we're expecting tonight, but I've left it for the bees for now.



Applesauce prep. Thankfully, the slow cooker makes applesauce cooking a lot easier than it used to be.

Mystic supervised me in the kitchen.

Magic supervised me as I prepped the basil in front of the TV. It takes a long time.

Pesto ingredients. The flavored sea salt has citrus in it, made by my friend Chris. The garlic is from my garden too.

A fraction of what I ended up with. Pretty, isn't it?
I also had a visit the weekend before last from my pal Princess Alethea Kontis and her friend Lillie (Alethea lives in Florida, but was in the area visiting Lillie), which was lots of fun, and then a brief drive-by visit this last Sunday from pal Karen Buys as she drove from Bouchercon in Ontario back to her home in New Jersey. She brought me chocolate. Really good chocolate.

Princess Alethea!

Plus, I got to spend an unexpected three hours with Magic the Cat at the emergency vet on Saturday morning (we at least got to see her regular vet, who happened to be working, and it looks like it was nothing major), although I still managed to make a dump run with a borrowed truck-and-strong-guy to clear out the barn. YAY!

What have you done these last couple of weekends to celebrate the season's end?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Year and a Day of Everyday Witchcraft Release Day Giveaway

Okay, so the book actually came out in print a few days early, and some people already have it. (THANK YOU so much to those who have posted reviews! SMOOCHES!) But today is the official release date for A YEAR AND A DAY OF EVERYDAY WITCHCRAFT, my latest book from Llewellyn. As you might guess from the title, it is a 365 day book (well, 366) that is part devotional, part daily reminder to put spirit into your life. Here is the description:
Enjoy the Sacred Wisdom of Witchcraft Every Day
Connect with your witchy self each and every day using quick, easy, and fun practices. This handy book features simple yet meaningful ways to integrate witchcraft into your daily life, inspiring you to take your magic to a new level whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner.
Deborah Blake guides you on a journey through the Wheel of the Year, providing witchy wisdom, affirmations, spells, questions to ponder, and much more. From working with herbs and gemstones to connecting with deities, A Year and a Day of Everyday Witchcraft explores a variety of modern Pagan practices to help you get more in touch with your personal path of witchcraft.

It is the #1 New Release in Wicca over on Amazon, which is pretty cool.

 As are the rankings :-)

So of course, I'm going to have to celebrate with a giveaway, right? I have two remaining ARCs (advanced reader copies), which are almost exactly like the actual book, only not quite. Plus a couple of fun witch's shoe pens for Halloween/Samhain. So we're going to have two winners to celebrate, instead of one. Because that's how much I love you people.

Look how cute!

Magic approves.
 As always, no purchase is necessary (although the author would be very happy if you would leave a review, tell all your friends, and such). And you get credit on the Rafflecopter form for anything you already do, like follow me on Twitter. Happy new book day!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

RoberCon with Faith Hunter

One of the best things about being an author (besides writing books, of course) is being able to meet and get to know some of the other authors I like and admire. Many of these folks are people I follow online and become friends with, so it is a great joy when I finally get to meet one of them in person.

My "local" SF/fantasy convention, RoberCon, held every year in the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, NY (a little over an hour from where I live) has done an amazing job the last few years of moving this dream forward, by inviting as Guests of Honor a number of the folks on my "Want to Meet" list. Two years ago it was the amazing Tamora Pierce, last year it was longtime pal Alex Bledsoe, and last weekend it was the fabulous Faith Hunter.

Faith and I had been online friends for years, and I always thought she seemed very nice, but she is even more lovely in person (and her husband Rod is a hoot). As always, my best friend Ellen came along as my driver/tote-r of heavy bags of books. One of these days I am going to get her a badge that says "entourage." We had a great time, I also got to see the lovely Nancy Holzner, the astonishing con chair Crystal Sarakas, who somehow pulled this all together, and a bunch of other lovely folks. I also sat on a number of fun panels (including one on dragons!), met up with my friends Robin and George and their kids Sophie and Nate for a couple of hours on Sunday, and went out to a delicious dinner at the always fab Remlik's restaurant.

I can't share my food with you, but here, have a few pictures from the weekend.

Saturday's book signing

The dragon panel. Yes, I AM wearing a dragon hat.

At Remlik's for dinner. They gave us our own room :-)

Laughing it up with Nancy Holzner and Faith Hunter
 There are lots more pictures on Facebook, but this last one should give you some idea of how much fun we had together. I hope I'll see you (and someone else on my list) there next year!