Not exactly what I was expecting

I follow a few BookTubers and enjoy their typically enthusiastic reviews.  They seem to mostly read YA which is great for me, as I write YA.  So when I notice the same book popping up time and time again, I pay attention.  Such was the case with “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs.Blog - Miss P

It looked quirky and creepy, so needless to say I was sold.  I ventured out to my local bookshop and procured a copy.  I fully expected to plow through it in a weekend, but soon discovered it wasn’t going to be that easy.

I love the photos and can assume that I had the same question as everyone else.  Which came first?  Was the story based on the photos or did Ransom Riggs hunt down photos to support his characters?  The answer?  Both!

As it happens, I also have a fondness for old photos.  When I went to my grandmother’s home to help her prepare for her move into an assisted living facility, she let me keep some of the things she didn’t need/want anymore.  Some of those were photos.  I don’t know the story behind all of them.  I just took the ones that were interesting.  It’s an odd sort of voyeurism, isn’t it?  Taking a moment in time that you have no connection with and simply imagining what lead up to it.

Blog - old photos

I love the unconventional format of old photos.  Just look at all the different sizes, boarders, and paper used.  Not to mention some of the interesting choices with regard to subject matter.  

This book is quite unique and very creepy.  The main character, Jacob Portman, was older than what I thought he would be.  The story was also a bit darker than I expect.  That may sound odd, as I knew was I was getting into but in spite of that I found the story to be dark in an emotional way.  The black and white photos enhance that gloomy feeling which isn’t altogether unpleasant but instead wraps itself around you like a cozy but odd-smelling blanket and invites you to stay.  The creepiest part for me is the fact the photos are real, not simply created to support the story.

Knowing this was the first in a series made it a bit easier to understand why the story was a bit slow-moving.  I sense that there is quite a bit more to the tale than what was revealed.  While I was unsure how I felt about this book until the very last page, I can now say that my interest in “Hollow City” is piqued.  With a 3rd book on the way, I definitely do not want to be left behind.

 

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The “D” word

Deadlines

That word strikes fear in the hearts of writers everywhere.  Well, most writers.  I write commercials and work with deadlines every day.  I am very lucky.  I set most of those deadlines.  So if I look at my “to do” list and notice that a particular date is looking rather popular among my clients, then I adjust the deadlines.  That way, I can be sure that the actual deadline (the one the production/traffic teams care about) is met.

I think I speak for most writers when I say that procrastination is a constant struggle and can be deadly.  So, we often set deadlines for ourselves to keep us on track.  With regard to my own writing, I don’t micromanage myself.  I don’t bother with daily or even weekly deadlines.  I like to keep the process as organic as possible.  But I do believe in setting a reasonable deadline to keep me on track.  Otherwise I think I’d stay in “daydream mode” and never get anything actually written down.

I had a pretty firm idea as to when I wanted my next book to be released.  Again, being an Indie author, I can set my own schedule.  But this year got off to a rather unfortunate start and I found myself unable to write for a while.  So that original schedule has been amended a bit.  To be honest, I was quite worried for a while and am just happy to be able to write at all.

Another snag in the process has been that I am actually researching and working on the story outlines for not one… not two… but three projects.  At once.  That’s not a horrible problem to have, admittedly.  But it really makes it difficult to focus and commit.  To choose just one story seems to me like I am abandoning the others.  Thankfully, they’re patient.  For the most part.

My sister and I are going to head to the coast for a girl’s long weekend.  Unfortunately, it’s not until August.  So I decided that a great way to help pass the time would be to get the first draft finished.

MeetingWhen the characters start to show up unannounced, that’s when I know that I am on to something.

I spent the better part of two days trying to coax a villain out of the shadows.  He doesn’t have a name but I do know a bit more about him, which is usually how it goes.  A character appears and introduces themselves in their own way.  I silently observe to determine if I should push for more information or let them divulge whatever they feel comfortable revealing.  Then I dive into my pile of reference material and try to find a name that suits them.  It’s a process that I really enjoy.

How do you deal with deadlines?  Are you comfortable or do they simply serve to stress you out?  Do you procrastinate?  Looking forward to your thoughts.

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Protection and Prosperity are like peanut butter and jam

Ellen Dugan is one of my favorite Pagan authors.  She’s published 15 books on Witchcraft thus far, with another currently in the works.  “Natural Witchery” remains my favorite and I recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the Craft.

Paganism is an umbrella term that includes many different traditions.  Witchcraft falls under that umbrella and also branches out to include traditions from across the world.  From the Appalacian (or Granny) Tradition to Celtic Witchcraft to Strega (originating in Italy).  The most commonly known are Wiccans, however you do not have to be a Wiccan to be a Witch.  Some like to label themselves in order to further identify their practice.  There are Kitchen/Cottage Witches, Solitary Witches, Eclectic Witches, and Ceremonial Witches.  Those who work with herbs tend to refer to themselves as Green, Garden, or Hedgewitches.  At the end of the day, it matters not what label you use to identify your Tradition.  What matters is that you incorporate the Spiritual and Magickal into your daily life.  Walk the walk, so to speak.

PPM - Blog July 2014

“Practical Protection Magick – guarding and reclaiming your power” was released in 2011.  Now, there is a companion book – “Practical Prosperity Magick – crafting success and abundance”.

You cannot manifest anything if you are coming from a place of lack or fear.  So it makes sense that “Practical Protection Magick” came first.  The lessons inside regarding setting boundaries, shielding yourself from negativity, warding your home, herbs and crystals for protection are the foundation from which you can build a more prosperous life.  Release the fear, express gratitude, welcome abundance.

Chapter Five, entitled “Physical Fitness Equals Magickal Strength” is especially interesting.  It makes sense when we think about it, but how many of us stop to consider it?  I attended a few “open circles” while deciding if I wanted to join a particular group.  I noticed an odd pattern.  After the Circle, there would be a potluck and some socializing.  But the items some brought to share were a bit… concerning.  A lot of junk food was present.  Chips, cookies, pop, that sort of thing.  But very few brought healthy food.  It lead me to wonder, how does this lack of respect for our bodies translate into our Magickal lives?  How can we hope to have success with our intentions if we fill our bodies with what we already acknowledge as “junk food”?  I am definitely not the perfect model of health and fitness, not by a long shot.  But these questions definitely gave me pause.  This internal dialogue is prompting me to read the book through again and see what new information comes forward.

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Both books contain a list of Moon phases, Deities, colors, herbs, and crystals specific to protection and prosperity.  These are tools which enhance the work you are doing.  Nothing is worse than figuring out the reason something isn’t working is because the Moon was void when you set your intention.

The Law of Attraction, The Power of Intention, Manifestation – these terms are becoming more and more known in all circles.  People from all backgrounds are putting these concepts to work in their lives and seeing the results.  “Practical Prosperity Magick” takes these Universal Laws and presents them from a Pagan perspective.  This enables those who are observing a Pagan Tradition (whatever that may be) to incorporate them in a way that is in alignment with the other work they are doing.   A way that speaks to them.

I love candle magick!  I find candles the easiest way to focus my intention, combining color/scent to intensify that focus.  In my opinion, there is nothing more magickal than a candle, flickering with purpose.  Chapter Three is entitled “Fire – Illumination, Transformation, and Manifestation” and discusses candle magick in detail.  The section “Be careful what you cast for” is illuminating (pun intended).

For the Blog - Witchy Shoppe - candles

Need a candle?  You’ve come to the right place!  

I have never done any work with coin or metal magick, so that section was really interesting.  I can’t believe I didn’t consider using coins to manifest before.  It seems so logical and straight forward.  But like so many, I tend to overthink and end up getting stressed.  I have to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be complicated.  One of the things I love about Ellen Dugan’s books is that she is a big fan of “Witchery on a Budget”.  You don’t need matchy-matchy, expensive tools or expensive ingredients (contrary to what some metaphysical shops will lead you to believe).  Everything you need is most likely close at hand, if you relax and take the time to look.

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 Did I mention I also have a thing for spell jars?

 Both “Practical Protection Magick” and “Practical Prosperity Magick” are available in Kindle and traditional format from Amazon.com.

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Book Haul – the Witchy Edition !

I have been waiting for Ellen Dugan’s latest book “Practical Prosperity Magick” for about a year.  Now… the wait is over.  IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!

When it comes to ordering books online, I can’t seem to stop at one.  I figure that if they’re shipping out one, they may as well ship out 2 or 3 or 4 (depending on what mood I am in and that silly little thing called a “budget”).  So when the time came to place my order, I decided to see what else I could find.

Book Haul - the Witchy Edition

Several months ago, a friend posted a list of authors who were featured at a Pagan conference she was attending.  One of them was Stephanie Woodfield.  The cover for her book “Celtic Lore and Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess” caught my eye.  I looked it up on Amazon and decided to order it.  The Morrigan keeps coming up, so there’s obviously something there.  She is not a part of the Avalonian Tradition, however I feel that if the pull is there it’s worth looking into.  I only briefly flipped through the book and it does look interesting.

I love working with crystals and have found them to be extremely helpful in a multitude of ways.  Now that I have been working with them for over a decade, I can’t imagine not doing so.  Ember Grant happens to be a friend of Ellen Dugan’s and I heard about her book through Ellen’s Facebook page.  It looks really interesting, so I decided to add that to my order.

I have to admit, I have already plowed through “Practical Prosperity Magick” and will certainly post a review as soon as I get a chance.  With the Law of Attraction and the Power of Intention becoming more and more widely known, it’s great to see a book that focuses on these concepts from a Pagan perspective.

Now the question is… which (or is that Witch?) book to read next?

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Tradesies!

Almost a month ago, I wrote about my major purge in “Distractions, procrastination, and releasing my past.”  Through that process I let go of a LOT of things that I no longer needed, wanted, used, and never really wanted at all but was guilted into taking.  I also found some things I’d completely forgotten about, like this book :

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“The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration” was a chance find in the bargain section at Chapters about 14 years ago.  I picked up two copies, one for myself and one for my yet-to-be born nephew.  I tucked it away and promptly forgot about it.

I was wondering what to do with it, since I didn’t think it would appeal to him.  Fast forward a few weeks.  My Mom and I had a discussion about artists whose work was featured in old books.

I, of course, started going on about Arthur Rackham.  He was a huge influence on both Alan Lee and Brian Froud, who collaborated on the book “Faeries” back in the 70′s.

I am also a huge fan of Beatrix Potter, whose work is also featured in this book.  Her work has a certain charm that seems to call out to people, no matter how old they are.

Tradesies 2 Ah!  Book plates!  I love them!  They’re so much more than just “illustrations” but rather a work of art.  A snapshot of a moment in the story, beautifully framed and able to stand on it’s own.  This book is a treasure and I am so happy that I had the presence of mind to get it.  But I certainly don’t need two of them.  So I offered one to my Mom, who gave me this in return.

Tradesies 3  I have flipped through it a few times at her house but hesitated to borrow it because I didn’t know when I would be able to get it back to her.  The similarities between Druidry and the Avalonian Tradition have always been of interest to me, so I look forward to taking the time to sit down and read through it.

Have you ever traded books with family or friends?  Do you find it difficult to part with a book if you can’t find it a good home?  Have you ever been given a book out of the blue?

 

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Solstice Blessings !

I can’t believe it’s already June 21.  Summer Solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year.  A time when people gather to celebrate the Sun.

Midsummer Eve is a truly magical time.  The Faeries venture to the human world, many of them for the sole purpose of causing havoc and taking great delight in doing so.  It is said that the Selkies come ashore, shedding their skins so that they can be human for one night.  The gather and dance on the shore, but if disturbed or discovered they will grab their skins and head back out to sea.

Let’s look at the Midsummer card from the “Fairy Ring” oracle deck.  We can spot Robin Goodfellow and his friends, gathering for a celebration in the human world.  In the distance, but closer than at any other time of year, is a Faerie island.  It is said that on this day, humans are able to travel to the Faerie Realm.  But be warned.  They journey there can be straightforward.  The journey back, however is not.

Midsummer Card

“The Midsummer card ushers in joyful energies of magic, enchantment, consummation, culmination, celebration, delight, fun, light, illumination, and clarity.”

This is an excellent time to seek the guidance of the Fae in your own life.  To ponder the questions that you have been asking yourself.  To connect with Nature and take a moment to truly appreciate your surroundings.  If you are in an urban area, try to seek solitude wherever you can.  Find a way to plant your feet on the grass or the soil.  Take a walk through the woods or sit by the lake.

It’s a bit gloomy here and looks like we’re in for a wet summer.  I don’t mind the rain, but we had such a long, cold winter that I was hoping for a lot of sun, especially today.  So let’s look at the bright side.  It’s a perfect day to snuggle up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book.  I hope to finish “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and get back to work on my next novel.

Summer Solstice framed

What are your plans (or non-plans, as the case may be) for today?

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Dear Amazon, look what ya made me do…

I have been impatiently waiting for Ellen Dugan’s new book for MONTHS.  As I always do, I figured that if Amazon was going to go to the trouble of shipping me a book, I should probably make it worth their while.  So I ordered two more.

Unfortunately, they haven’t shipped yet.  Yes, I do have about 17 books on my “to be read” pile.  Thank you for the reminder.  But after catching up on a few Booktuber’s videos, I decided that I needed a new book to pass the time. Besides, it’s been so long since I felt like reading anything I wasn’t going to let this slide.  So off to the bookstore I went.

My first pick and a book that I have been wanting to get since I heard about it months ago is “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs.  For those who have never heard of it, here is a little taste.  Book Haul June 14 1

“A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.”

It has been getting rave reviews from Booktubers and looks really interesting.  So that was the book I knew I was getting.

Ariel Bisset posted a video called “Mermaid May”  that I found quite interesting.  One of the books she recommended is “Fathomless” by Jackson Pearce.  This is the third book in the “Fairytale Retellings” series, however as I understand it each book is a stand-alone.  So you can read them in whatever order you wish.  I am intrigued by the books, but sadly they were not available at the store.  (insert sad face here)  So I may have to break down and just order all 4 of them online.

Ariel also did a video called “Summertime Madness” where she talked about a book that sounded intriguing but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name of.  I searched through her videos and just found it, so I will be on the hunt for “Inland” by Kat Rosenfield.

“The psychological labyrinth of a young woman’s insidious connection to the sea…”

Can’t wait!!!

I wandered over to the bargain section and found “Lies Beneath” by Anne Greenwood Brown.  I picked it up and read the synopsis, then put it down and continued on.  But I was really craving a mermaid story so I went back to it and read the first chapter.  I liked what I read so far, so I decided to give it a chance.

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At the time of this writing, I’m on Chapter 13 and intend to read a bit more before I go to bed.  I predict that by the time I publish this, I will have finished it.  I enjoy YA Fiction and was looking for a way to sort of ease myself back into reading with something fairly light.  So this is perfect.

I have a fascination with Joan of Arc, so when I saw “The Maid and The Queen” by Nancy Goldstone, I was drawn to it immediately.  It seems a bit dry, so I will have to wait until the mood strikes but I skimmed through it and found it rather interesting.  I think it’s going to surprise me and am looking forward to that.

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The best part about today’s trip to the bookstore is I spent less than 30 dollars!  So I don’t feel the least bit guilty (not that I would have).

I will post a “Book Haul” once the three titles from Amazon arrive.  Hopefully they won’t take too long.  I am also hoping I can resist ordering the Jackson Pearce books for at least a few weeks.  Unfortunately, once I get a bee in my bonnet I tend to obsess.  Hard to believe, I know.  But it’s true.  I blame Amazon.

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