Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Just said "yes" to an offer for Books 3 and 4 of the Witchcraft series...is the world ready for more witchy mayhem and mystery? I sure hope so because book two is with the publishers.
Also, I gave a little interview about Secondhand Spirits over here. Check it out!
Did I mention that I am also going to be starting a new series? Not sure who will be signing her name to that one... check me later on that one. More details to come.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I’m happy to announce that Secondhand Spirits,
the first in my new Witchcraft Mystery series,
will be released July 7!
I hope you’ll be able to join me at an event near you…I’ll be visiting Southern Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, and the Phoenix/Tucson area…see below!
“An enchanting mystery that enables the audience to believe in the supernatural…a terrific urban fantasy.” –Genre Go-Round Reviews
Four Stars – Romantic Times
“SECONDHAND SPIRITS is an excellent blend of mystery, paranormal, and light humor, creating a cozy that is must-read for anyone with an interest in literature with paranormal elements…SECONDHAND SPIRITS has an air of authenticity that leaves many other similar novels in the dust.” --The Romance Reader's Connection
*And please stop by www.awitchcraftmystery.blogspot.com for more information on the series, and witchcraft all over the world*
Tuesday, July 7, 7 p.m.
M is for Mystery
86 East Third Avenue
San Mateo, California
With Ann Parker and Rhys Bowen
Thursday, July 9, 6 p.m.
Barnes and Noble Redding, CA
Churn Creek Rd.
Redding, CA 96003
Friday, July 10, noon
Klamath County Public Library
126 South Third Street
Klamath Falls, OR 97601
Thursday July 16, 6-8 pm
San Francisco Litquake Fundraiser Event: Bodies in the Library
Mechanics Institute, 4th Floor
57 Post St, San Francisco
Bookshop West Portal
80 West Portal Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94127
With Rhys Bowen and Ann Parker
ComicCon, San Diego, Room 10
10:00-11:00 Escapist Fantasy Panel: Juliet Blackwell (SECOND HAND SPIRITS); Marjorie Liu (DARKNESS CALLS); Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge (BLACK & WHITE); Diana Rowland (MARK OF THE DEMON); Sina Grace (CEDRIC HOLLOWS IN DIAL M for MAGIC); and Harry Connolly (CHILD OF FIRE).
130 E. Napa St.
Sonoma, CA 95476
With Rhys Bowen and Ann Parker
August 13, 7 p.m.
The Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Boulevard, Suite 101
With Sophie Littlefield and Ann Parker
August 14, 6:30 p.m.
Changing Hands Bookstore
6428 S. McClintock Dr.
Workshop: Action in Every Scene: Keep Them Turning the Pages
With Ann Parker and Sophie Littlefield
Saturday, August 15, 2 p.m.
Velma Teague Library
7010 N. 58th Avenue
Panel: Strong Female Heroines in Crime Fiction
With Ann Parker and Sophie Littlefield
Sunday, August 16, 12 noon
3146 East Ft. Lowell
Tucson, AZ 85716
Brown Bag Lunch talk with Sophie Littlefield and Ann Parker
The Deadly Combination Tour: SoCal with Anne Parker, Margaret Grace, Sophie Littlefield, and Juliet Blackwell
August 21, 7 pm
Mysterious Galaxy Books
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
August 22, 12 noon
Mysteries to Die For
2940 Thousand Oaks Boulevard
Thousand Oaks, California 91362
August 22, 3 pm
Los Angeles Mystery Bookstore
1036-C Broxton Avenue, Los Angeles (in Brentwood) 90024
(310) 209 0415
August 23, 2 pm
1118 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030
August 29, 2 p.m.
San Francisco Mystery Bookstore
4175 24th Street
San Francisco, California
With Tim Maleeny, Ann Parker, and Sophie Littlefield
Bouchercon, 2009 World Mystery Convention
Thursday, October 15 to Sunday, October 18
Bouchercon World Mystery Convention 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Now that you know all about the Salem Witch Trials, try your hand at Salem Witchcraft Trials Jeopardy.
Find more information on the Salem Witch Museum here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Called the Salem Witch trials probably because the most famous happened in Salem Village, there were actually trials in four towns in the province. Salem Village had the distinction of being a town in turmoil. Only recently allowed to have their own church, there seemed to be some struggle for leadership.
So, take a town in the middle of a province with changing leadership, hostilities with the natives and a growing shortage of land with a growing population and mix in some religious fervor and a mysterious affliction and you get the Salem Witch Trials. Frenzy usually feeds on the baser of human emotions like greed and jealousy. It just may be that land, deeds and inheritance motivated the witch hunting more than a desire to expel the devil.
At the center of the drama is the Parris family. Reverend Samuel Parris is the newly elected minister of the new Salem Village. He wasn't the unanimous choice and there were those who were not pleased that he was given the deed of the parsonage as part of his compensation. Just a few years later, his daughter and niece were the first to be afflicted with some sort of bewitching.Given the laws and a propensity to general anxiety in the province it is not difficult to understand how the most vulnerable became the first accused. The majority of "witches" were unmarried or recently widowed land-owning women. If a land owner died, his/her land passed back to the previous owner. If that owner could not be determined, it passed to the church.
The first three women accused were women with few defenders: Sarah Good, a poor woman known to beg for food; Sarah Osbourne, a woman marked for having sex with her indentured servant and for not attending church service; and Tituba, a slave of undetermined ancestry. Sarah Good's daughter is also one of the accused. Her testimony is used to convict her mother even though Dorothy Good was only four years old. Someone had to be blamed for the affliction of the minister's family.
After the frenzy started, it didn't take long for the land-owning citizens (male and female) to become targets. Of course, there were those that were just named due to the hysteria. Anyone who didn't quite fit in would be a perfect target. Being a witch could explain any oddity or non-conformity with the rest of society. Either people believed these men and women were really witches or they participated in the naming in order to not be named. It was a good way to rid yourself of an annoying neighbor as entire families were named as witches.
In a relatively short period of time, from March 1692 through July 1692, over 70 people were arrested or warrants for their arrests were issued. The accusations and trials lasted through May 1693 with the last cases resulting mostly in acquittals. All in all over 150 people were accused, twenty nine were convicted and nineteen of those were hung. One man who refused to enter a plea was crushed to death. At least five more died while in custody.
As for the four mentioned above: Dorothy Good, the four year old, was released on bond; her mother, Sarah Good, was found guilty and executed on July 19, 1692; Sarah Osbourne died in custody; and, Tituba was never indicted.
O Christian Martyr Who for Truth could die
When all about thee Owned the hideous lie!
The world, redeemed from superstition's sway,
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.
Wikipedia's Salem Witchcraft Trials Page
University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law Professor Douglas Linder's site: Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692
Salem Witch Museum
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Anyway...I'm guesting on two different blogs this weekend! (Which explains, in part, why I haven't written a new post for my own Witchcraft blog!)
Please stop by Poe'sDeadlyDaughters to read a bit about haunted houses and world-building in Urban Fantasy....and drop on by MakeMineMystery to read about hopping vampires!
And on Wednesday, as always, I'll be blogging on PensFatales.
This week's topic is Summertime, and I'll be writing about a cabin in the woods, where I'm not, but I'd like to be....
Friday, June 26, 2009
Um... still need to get my blog posts for this blog out of the drafts pile.
But, in other news, in lieu of a release party for Secondhand Spirits, I will be signing books on the release date (July 7, 2009) -- get your advance copy today! The signing will include Rhys Bowen and Ann Parker at M is for Mystery in San Mateo (California). Rhys and Ann are also releasing books this summer.
Details will be up at the Facebook fan page by Monday. Hope to see some of you there!
Did I mention that there is another review of Secondhand Spirits out there? Take a look.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Maybe three blogs, two facebook fan pages, guest blogging and two manuscripts due at the end of the summer is catching up with me.
The book tour is shaping up: SF Bay Area, Arizona, Southern California so far. You can find all the info here or over at the FB fan page.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Still, I had never before known feline love. Oscar doesn’t take to just anyone, and though some of his love and devotion may have been rooted in the little bits of smoked ham I started feeding him, I choose to believe that he came into my life for a reason.
Interestingly, in the book Secondhand Spirits I had already named my character’s familiar Oscar. Now does that seem like a coincidence as well?
One major difference, though: Lily’s familiar in Secondhand Spirits is a goblin/gnome-like critter who transforms himself into a miniature pot-bellied pig.
Who ever heard of a piggy familiar?
Three witches riding a pig (The Witches of Northamptonshire 1612)
Pigs have been identified as powerful witches’ familiars throughout much of the world. Pigs are smart, live close to homes in traditional villages, and “go wild” easily even if raised in captivity.
Also, pigs “root” in the earth, turning over dirt, rocks and sod to find their treasures. According to Judika Illes’ Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, root-working is an ancient form of magic associated with great botanical knowledge:
The term “root-worker”…implies power and knowledge and a special relationship with Earth and her protective spirits…once upon a time, it was not considered safe to disturb the Earth, unless one knew proper rituals and had received permission to dig.
In Greek mythology, Circe lived on the island of Aeaea and was known for her knowledge of botanical potions. She was fond of transforming her enemies, or those who had offended her, into animals. Notably, she turned Odysseus’ men into swine.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The Nagual, then, can be an animal familiar that lives a parallel life to your own. In Rodolfo Anaya’s beautiful novel Bless Me, Ultima, the elderly curandera character named Ultima has an owl as her “guardian spirit” that was born at the same time, and who will die when she herself passes over.
Interestingly, the nagual is often a creature of the night: the owl, the toad, the coyote. Some believe that when one dreams, it means one’s nagual is traipsing about on adventures.
Things can take a sinister turn, however: some communities believe that powerful (and maleficent) practitioners of witchcraft can transform themselves at will into familiar animals or spirits and adopt forms such as donkey, turkey, or dogs.
Nahualism is linked with ancient pre-Columbian shamanistic practices through depictions of humans with animal features, found in the surviving art and books of the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec peoples.
Emergencia del Nagual (the nahual coming out). Códice Nutall
In some parts of modern rural Mexico the position of the Nagual is an integrated part of society, as the local “witch doctor” or curandera. The community tolerates or fears and respects them, sometimes hiring their services in healing, spellcasting, or to remove curses from other naguals.
In other communities the accusation of nagualism may result in violent repercussions-- a modern example of the religious bigotry and hysteria that begat the witch-hunts of renaissance Europe. The 'nagual' is often considered synonymous with 'witch' or 'brujo', because they are thought capable of shapeshifting into animals at night. They are sometimes accused of sucking blood from innocent victims and livestock (see also Chupacabras), stealing and causing disease and disharmony.
[Dr. Jorge Klor de Alva is my ex-husband as I mentioned in yesterday's post!]
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Check it out, and while you're at it scroll through posts about all kinds of hobbies... from knitting to miniatures to murder.
Monday, June 8, 2009
A black cat is the typical image that pops into one’s mind when discussing witches’ familiars. Oscar, my neighbor’s cat, came into my life around the same time as I started writing the Witchcraft series. Coincidence?
It has been pointed out that old women—those most likely to be accused of witchcraft—tend to be fond of cats and often live on their own with only feline companionship.
But cats aren’t the only candidates for witches’ familiars. Some of the common familiars are pigs, toads, owls, dogs, and even mythical creatures. Below: two witches and a familiar.
The concept of companion animals assisting their magical masters is not unique to Europe. In what is now Mexico and Central America, the concept of the Nagual or Nahual (both pronounced [na'wal]) remains powerful, as does the idea of an animal associated with one’s birthdate, called the Tonalli.
When in need of arcane information about Mesoamerican beliefs, I did what I always do: I dialed my ex-husband.
Find out what he said tomorrow!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Burning witches ... or putting them on trial is not just a thing of the past. This week, I am going to take a look at the historic witch trials in Salem, but let's take a look at what's going on right now. Here are some news items from last month.
From the Bay Area News Group on May 15, 2009. Two women were arrested for ritual sacrifice of chickens. Here is what one professor at Berkeley had to say about it:
"Rory Little, a San Rafael resident and law professor at the University of California, Hastings, said religious belief is usually not a defense for a "generally applicable crime," but that the issue gets more complicated based on the specifics of the case.Read the whole article here.
'It's a controversial area,' he said. 'It is not a simple question.'
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that animal sacrifice is a constitutionally protected religious freedom in a Florida case involving practitioners of Santeria, a blend of Catholicism and African and Caribbean faiths."
From ABC News and Nightline on May 22, 2009. They visited the Congo where poor children are suspected of using witchcraft. Pastors are exploiting the villagers by taking money for exorcising the children. Unfortunately, the government is doing nothing to protect these children. See the video here.
When I went to search for that video, I found that it wasn't the first time in the past year that ABC News had covered the issue. For more witch burning, see this video about a young man who tried to burn his teacher who he accused of being a "witch" in Detroit last year.
Also, last March, in this video a woman was attacked in India after being accused of using witchcraft.
These are just a few modern day examples of witchcraft on trial. Tomorrow, we return to Salem for the infamous witch trials.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
In 1931, psychic researcher Harry Price invited Helen and her husband Henry Duncan to come to London in order to have her skills “scientifically” tested.According to David Edwards in an article on “Britain’s Last Witch Trial” in the UK edition of the Mirror, 6/12/2006, Harry Price wrote: "She was placed in the curtained recess. In a few seconds, the medium was in a trance. The curtains parted and we beheld her covered from head to foot with cheese-cloth!
"Some of it was trailing on the floor, one end was poked up her nostril, a piece was issuing from her mouth. I must say that I was deeply impressed - with the brazen effrontery that prompted the Duncans to come to my lab, with the amazing credulity of the spiritualists who had sat with the Duncans and with the fact that they had advertised her 'phenomena' as genuine."In a bid to reveal the contents of Helen's stomach, Price asked if she would undergo an X-ray. "She refused. Her husband advised her to submit. But that seemed to infuriate her and she became hysterical. She jumped up and dealt him a blow on the face.
"Suddenly, she jumped up, unfastened the door and dashed into the street - where she had another attack of alleged hysterics and commenced tearing her séance garment to pieces.
"Her husband dashed after her and she was found clutching the railings, screaming."
Despite Harry Price’s alarming account of the séance, Helen Duncan continued with her successful practice into the forties.
On November 25, 1941, HMS Barham, a 29,000-ton battleship in the Mediterranean was hit by three German torpedoes. The ship went down and 861 lives were lost. Already reeling from the Blitz, the British government decided to keep the news under wraps – believe it or not, they went so far as to forge Christmas cards from the dead to their families.
But just days after the attack, Helen Duncan held a séance during which she saw a sailor with the words HMS Barham on his hatband. According to Helen the apparition said: "My ship is sunk."
Two years later, in January 1944, amid fears that Helen would somehow reveal plans for the upcoming D-Day landings, Britain’s Admiralty arrested the psychic and charged her with witchcraft, alleging that she intended "to exercise or use human conjuration that through the agency of Helen Duncan spirits of deceased dead persons should appear to be present".
The trial lasted seven days. Mediums and believers of all sorts rallied to her defense and set up a defense fund which allowed her barrister to call 44 witnesses to testify she wasn't a fraud.
Ironically, it was precisely their fear that she was NOT a fraud that led to her conviction and sentencing.
Years later, in 1956, Helen Duncan gave a seance in Nottingham. Though the Witchcraft Act had been repealed five years earlier and spiritualism had been recognized as a bonafide religion, Helen was once again arrested and subjected to a strip search.
She never got over the shock and remained hospitalized for the next five weeks, until passing over to the next dimension on December 6.
Was Helen Duncan a gifted seer able to communicate with other realms, or a skilled charlatan who exploited grieving families? Whatever she was, she scared the British government enough to become the “unfortunate victim of Britain's last witch-hunt”.
You can find more information here and support the call for Helen's pardon.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
In 1944, professional medium Helen Duncan, affectionately known as “Hellish Nell”, was arrested during a séance in Portsmouth, Hants, and charged under section four of Britain’s 1735 Witchcraft Act.
Examination of a Witch, by T.H. Matteson 1853. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum
The jury deliberated only half an hour before declaring her guilty. Happily, though the court used a law written in 1735 to convict Duncan, at least the punishment for witchcraft had been reformed. Her sentence was nine months in London’s Holloway prison…a step up from the traditional Scottish burning or hanging of witches.
But how in the world did Helen Duncan end up on trial for witchcraft as recently as 1944?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Lily Ivory is a bona fide witch; a powerful mage who can feel the vibrations emitted from old clothing, can smell and sense auras, and can cast spells through brewing. She has been on the run for most of her life; hiding her “witchiness” skills by never allowing anyone to get to close to her so that one would think she is a freak. However, now thirty-one Lily feels a need to settle down so she moves to San Francisco assuming she can fit in best in the City on the Bay. There she opens up a vintage women’s clothing shop Aunt Cora’s Closet.
Her friend Maya takes Lily to the home of Frances Potts who has a ton of beautiful vintage clothing. Lily senses evil directed at Frances by the demon La Llorona. Late that same night Lily returns to Frances’ home to cast a protection spell against La Llorana. The next day the woman is dead and a child is missing presumably by La Llorona who feeds on the souls of children. The magical community rallies around Lily who uses her skills to hopefully bring the child back and send the demon back to the Texas/Mexico border where she came from.
Readers who anxiously await the next works of Victoria Laurie or Madelyn Alt will appreciate SECOND HAND SPIRITS, an enchanting mystery that enables the audience to believe in the supernatural. A mysterious male witch Aiden welcomes her to the neighborhood by giving her a familiar, a goblin disguised as a pot bellied pig. Lily is a great character; a strong woman who believes in doing what she feels is ethically right though it might cost her. Juliet Blackwell provides a terrific urban fantasy with the opening of the Witchcraft Mystery series.
Obsidian, Jul 2009, $6.99
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
But anyone who’s ever done research for a book knows that only a tiny fraction of the fascinating stuff you dig up ever makes it onto the printed page. This blog is my forum to share some of the interesting history of witchcraft; an occasional spell or book review; some specialized terminology; and occasional excerpts or deleted scenes from my Witchcraft Mystery Series, the first installment of which, Secondhand Spirits, will be released July 7, 2009, from Obsidian (a Penguin imprint).
I invite you to correct me when I’m wrong, elucidate further on subjects of interest, ask questions about my posts or my books, and fill us all in on anything witch-related that you might know about.
Soooo, What the Heck is a Witch, Anyway? According to the third edition of the American Heritage Dictionary:
Witch [wich] n.
1. A woman claiming or popularly believed to possess supernatural powers and practice sorcery, and often believed to be aided by spirits or a familiar.
2. A believer or follower of Wicca; a Wiccan.
3. A hag.
4. A woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing.
5. Informal A woman or girl considered bewitching.
6. One particularly skilled or competent at one's craft: "A witch of a writer, [she] is capable of developing an intensity that verges on ferocity" Peter S. Prescott.
Dontcha just love the juxtaposition of #5 with numbers 3 and 4: A charming woman might also be a spiteful hag….
But as Walt Whitman would say: Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
Women in general and witches in particular are no stranger to the concept of duality.
Throughout history and across the globe, witches have been treated with reverence and adoration for their skills in physical and mental health and healing, as well as their talents for “seeing” into the future or other realms. But those very same witches have also inspired fear and loathing, often rooted in fear of their rare abilities. In a later post I will discuss the direct link between the suppression of witches as lay healers in Europe and the creation of the male-dominated medical profession. For now, suffice it to say that powerful women are scary to many male-centered social structures, especially during times of social and economic stress and upheaval.
Most recently, followers of the Wicca religion have taken on the moniker of “witch” in an attempt to reclaim the label so often association with the negative. As is the case with most religions, the practice of Wicca has many different interpretations and I wouldn’t presume to try to define the various belief systems here. But in general, Wiccans may or may not lay claim to particular supernatural powers, but they do tend to practice a pre-Christian, female-centered tradition that worships nature and the seasons, pagan goddesses, and the beauty of humanity. Their coven meetings might include rites such as drawing pentacles, casting a cone of power, and invoking the Lady and Lord – but they are in no way Satanists, and typically do not even believe in the concept of Hell or the Devil. Their beliefs are pre-Christian rather than anti-Christian,
From Secondhand Spirits:
In the old days –the burning times—there was a distinction made between sorcerers and witches. It was said that a sorcerer learned magick through training, while a witch was born with innate talents and connections to the spirit world. The latter was true in my case, to an extreme degree. I hadn’t chosen this path; it had chosen me. One of the many curses my status bestowed was a near-perfect memory, and I could recall every alienating episode, every isolating incident, of my thirty-one years.