Witch Lit Wednesday: Love in the Forest

Love in the Forest by Janina Grey; book surrounded by pinecones, acorns, evergreens, stone, moss, and dandelions. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2023.

I pride myself on being a Pagan author writing authentic Pagan fiction in Upstate NY. Imagine my surprise and delight when I learned I wasn’t alone! Janina Grey and I “met” on an online group devoted to Witch Lit, and I knew I had to start reading her Earth and Sky Series set in the nearby foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

The series is named after a fictional therapeutic camp that employs a number of open-minded, Pagan-friendly healers. They usually provide a safe space for children to readjust to life after loss and trauma with activities like group sessions, yoga, kayaking, crafts, and drum circles. Brooke Meadows, the female lead, is the camp photographer, but she has an unofficial role as well and is affectionally known by her colleagues as a “deathwalker” – someone who can communicate with the dead. She’s also a practicing witch.

In the first novel, Love in the Forest, everything changes when the owners of Earth and Sky decide to accept a group of adult clients as a trial. Brooke encounters Josh Quinn, the CEO of a successful online dating site. Though wealthy, Josh is grieving the tragic death of his wife and children a few years ago. His work performance is suffering, so his board insists he attend the camp and turn things around or else he’ll be forced into an early retirement. Meanwhile, Brooke has her own scars. Josh makes her feel things she thought were long out of her reach.

Worlds collide as nature-loving Brooke and big-city Josh grow closer in this hurt-and-comfort style romance. There are sexy and flirty moments, funny scenes, magical descriptions, but also references to painful pasts. Big trigger warnings for death of spouse and children as well as references to a past rape. Grey doesn’t linger on graphic details and instead focuses on emotions as well as moving toward healing. The ending was both happy and satisfying.

Pagan readers will enjoy relating to Brooke. This story isn’t about coming to terms with one’s religious identity. Brooke is already an established Pagan who prays to the Goddess, spends time in nature, dreams of the dead, and practices rituals with another colleague under the light of a full moon. Something is missing in her life, and the dead help her find it. Part of Josh’s journey is accepting the reality of Brooke’s spirituality and the healing power of nature. The book is slightly inconclusive as to whether or not he “converts,” but I’m definitely looking forward to gleaning more details about each in the rest of the series. The synopses reveal that the following books (Life is for Living and Lost in Your Rhythm) focus on other couples related to Earth and Sky, but I’d be shocked if Brooke and Josh don’t make appearances.

I recommend Love in the Forest to Pagan and earth-centered readers looking for a sweet to spicy M/F romance with great character development, realistic settings, a touch of paranormal, and authentic portrayals of modern witches. It’s available as an ebook or paperback through Soul Mate Publishing via Amazon.

Witch Lit Wednesday: The Moon, The Stars, and Madame Burova

An unfortunately blurry photo I took of the audiobook cover beside my earbuds, some tarot cards, and my crystal ball on a black and silver striped background.

Honestly, I should describe this novel as “Witch Lit Adjacent” since the titular character is Romani and not a practicing Pagan or Witch, however she has a talent many of us in those communities strive toward. Madame Burova, also known as Imelda, is a clairvoyant who reads tarot and palms. Also of interest is her ability to communicate with the dead to help her clients.

The author, Ruth Hogan, handles the topic of divination with respect. When I first started the audiobook and heard the g-word used (something I’ve learned is now considered a slur), I started to research the author out of concern. I found Hogan was inspired by a well-known Romani tarot reader, Eva Petulengro. Hogan read her autobiographies and then worked with another tarot reader to further research the culture and practice. I can’t say for sure, but it’s possible the choice of words was based on their usage as well as the historical setting of 70s England. All I can say is that it was used infrequently and usually by the Romani characters themselves. Still, I know many will appreciate the warning.

Racial and cultural inequities do come up in the book, as well as chauvinism, and the characters meet and overcome those obstacles. There’s definitely something to be said about the power of supportive family and friends in helping a person find and embrace their identity. And pets. Several very special, emotionally-healing canine companions in this book!

Imelda was both an interesting and loveable lead. Not as crotchety as her mother, she was independent and fiercely protective of herself and others. As her story went on, I kept wishing she would use her gifts to get more insight into her own situation. Her argument for not reading the cards for herself was sound and something many of us should keep in mind: our own biases, hopes, and fears can obscure the message we need to read. If her uncertainties could have been solved with a simple Celtic Cross spread, she wouldn’t have experienced her journey, ultimately leading to truth, closure, and a poignant final scene.

Billie’s story is less magical in the witchy sense, but there’s still a connection to the dead and all the things left unsaid. It’s not a spoiler to say she learns she was adopted after the death of her final parent. Billie goes on a low-stakes quest to learn more about herself which brings her to the beachside Brighton where Madame Burova and a charming cast of characters reside. Billie eventually warms to the idea of tarot cards and there’s an implication that she may try to learn more.

Trigger warnings include short scenes of animal abuse, characters experiencing racial injustice, and some sexual harassment.

Despite those, I recommend this title to anyone who enjoys more contemporary stories in which magic and divination are represented in an authentic, realistic way. There’s mystery without any scary bits. Fans of historical fiction may also appreciate the frequent flashbacks to the 1970s. There is romance, but I will warn you this is not a romance novel. Not everyone gets the happily-ever-after some may hope for, but I felt the ending was both satisfying and beautiful. Madame Burova charmed me.

“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” – The Book I Needed After My Grandmother’s Death

A photo of the audiobook on my phone beside my earbuds. They are surrounded by dried flowers leftover from one of my grandmother’s funeral arrangements. Everything rests on a fuzzy gray and white blanket. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2023

At the end of January, my grandma passed away. She was my last living grandparent, and probably the one I was closest to if I’m honest. My maternal grandfather passed before my birth, and my grandmother when I was eight. I spent many happy childhood and adolescent days at my paternal grandparents’ home which was conveniently the next street over from where I lived. Papa often worked out in the shop where he fixed tractors, so Grandma B usually watched my sister and me. She supervised many arts and crafts sessions on the kitchen table, and I followed her around the garden while she tended her plants and taught me how to identify and care for several types.

Her health started to decline when I moved away from home, and the deterioration increased when I became a mother. Raising a baby, maintaining a new career, and leading a young Druid group often made it difficult for me to travel to see her, and then the pandemic put some high obstacles between us. Truthfully, visiting her the few times I did, especially toward the end, was painful. Seeing the once proud artist and gardener hooked up to machines, palsied, and bedridden, broke my heart. I’m so grateful to my uncles who stayed with her to the very end. Having been largely absent from her death, I made sure I was there for her wake and funeral service. The burial will come later once the ground thaws.

Death on my mind, I turned to a favorite content-creator: mortician, author, and activist Caitlin Doughty. I already watched her fascinating and entertaining Youtube channel and listened to her podcast, but I decided it was time to dig into her books, starting with her first.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory was as intriguing as her other content, perhaps more so because it gave me greater insight into both the author and the funeral industry. I listened to the audiobook which I highly recommend, especially if you’re already a fan of Doughty since she narrates! The humor, compassion, and frankness I’ve grown fond of were all there, and I now have even more appreciation for her journey to death-positive activist on a mission to reform modern funeral practices.

As someone mourning the death of my grandmother, listening to this book was strangely comforting. When Papa died, I was too wrapped up in caring for an infant to truly process it, and with Grandma B lingering on, I suppose there was an incompleteness to his passing. One half of him remained, made further evident by Grandma’s name and birth year etched on their shared headstone. Nearly a decade later, the last of my grandparents has physically gone, and I am left to process what that means. I wondered what happens to their bodies, what will I do when my own parents follow, and what do I want to happen to me?

One of the last chapters really resonated with me even though it made me weep. Doughty recalls the death of her own grandmother then dives into an uncomfortable topic for many of us in the Western world: end of life care involving an aging Baby Boomer population, crowded nursing homes, and something my own Grandma dealt with – bed sores. It’s difficult for me to explain why hearing all this helped me, but I suppose it’s because I wasn’t there yet was aware of my grandmother’s final days. They assured me she felt no pain; she was on morphine. Even so…it all made me wonder–still makes me wonder–about the tradeoff between length of life and quality of life. Doughty’s earnest invitation into the conversation helped me feel less alone with my concerns, and gave me hope that there are people out there trying to solve these issues and improve everyone’s lives.

I highly recommend “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” to all readers*. Knowledge is power, and if you haven’t started thinking about and discussing end-of-life plans with loved ones, it’s never too late. From a Pagan standpoint, I think our communities are already moving toward death-positivity with our ancestor work. I think we’re making important progress in changing mentalities about our relationship with the dead, but we have a long way to go. I think we should be on the frontline of pushing for more eco-friendly burials and family involvement in preparing the dead both for care of the land and our own well-being. I also believe the Pagan community could do a better job supporting our oldest members. I won’t lie; I feel a twinge of guilt that I wasn’t there for my grandmother in her final days. How many elder Pagans are without anyone? Who is there for them? Who is advocating for them to have end-of-life rituals that are meaningful and calming? Who is helping Pagan families navigate a largely Christian-dominated funeral industry? Who will advocate for us when it’s our turn?

*I’m not sure I’d recommend the book to everyone who is actively mourning. I’ve been learning from Doughty for a couple years and already have a novice’s understanding of the death-positive movement. The very real and raw narrative surrounding the preparation of diverse dead bodies may be too much for some readers until they’ve had more time to process.

Witch Lit Wednesday: Looking Ahead to Undiscovered

One of my goals in the New Year is to revive my attempts at Witch Lit Wednesdays. I’d like to post, at least once a month, anything having to do with fiction appealing to modern witches and Pagans. Book reviews, of course, but also an occasional cover reveal or, in this case, an interview with the author! I’m starting out with Undiscovered.

Full disclosure, Ashley Anglin is a fellow Shadow Spark Publishing author. Since I’m also a writer enamored with aquatic legends and Celtic lore, I’ve been intrigued and increasingly excited about her debut novel since she signed her contract. Ashley is not a practicing Pagan, but I think her story will appeal to anyone who walks an Earth-centered path. Keep reading to see what I mean!


Sometimes truth is stranger than folktales.

Bilingualism and plate tectonics were the only kinds of shapeshifting Arden Araujo’s troubled geoscientist dad prepared her for. But it turns out, the outlandish prediction that wrecked his career–a devastating North Sea tsunami–might not be the unlikeliest truth he took to his grave.

In the 2097 tsunami’s aftermath, environmental first responder Arden expects her mission in hard-hit northeast Scotland to involve the usual grunt work, maybe a little freediving if she’s lucky. Instead, she stumbles upon a critically endangered species of Orkney and Shetland legend, hiding in plain sight among the refugees.

They trust that she can help restore their kind, despite storms, aftershocks, and policy decisions way beyond her pay grade. Increasingly at home on the shores of their life-giving sea, she may have found her calling; true love might not be a mere children’s story either. Yet the deeper she’s immersed in their tale, the less sure she feels that she’s the right hero to protect the hidden treasure of their existence.

UNDISCOVERED is a unique sci fi/fantasy fusion: climate fiction, hopeful fabulism, and a feminist hero’s journey, told in lyrical prose (and occasional Spanglish).


The Interview:

MAP: How has folklore influenced both you personally and your writing in particular?

AA: The first real novels I ever read were by CS Lewis and Tolkien, who were scholars of fairytales, folktales and myths, and I was hooked forever. I love the way folklore evolves and endures, and how certain figures and tropes appear across different cultures. They feel bigger than other kinds of stories. So, even though my work is generally set on Earth and in the present or near future, there’s always a mermaid, selkie, phoenix, dragon, and/or Indigenous mythical figure in there somewhere.

An early spark for Undiscovered came when I saw the Marvel series Jessica Jones (quite the non sequitur, I know). Before her superhero origin was revealed/explained, she appeared to be an almost-regular person walking around doing a normal job, hiding her inhuman abilities in plain sight. I reflected that although I’m not superhuman, I’ve always felt I’m a shade or two off from other people–too eerily akin to that fantasy-reading little girl in my speech, interactions, and worldview. Like, instead of a super-strong private investigator, a fairytale creature who happens to be a professor and suburban mom. I wanted to explore telling that kind of story, but with a climate fiction angle. I still have the very early “idea dump” document I wrote, before I even knew what kind of creatures or where they lived… it’s called “They kinda walk among us,” haha.

MAP: Your story explores concepts of energy and our connections with nature. These ideas are central to certain branches of Paganism. Could you expand on that without spoiling the plot? 

The story is set in 2097, when people and nations have chosen strategies to mitigate and minimize the damage done to the environment between the industrial revolution and our present day. The restorative “magic” left in the world, if we want to call it that, remains only in places where nature remains relatively untouched. Arden, the protagonist, has always felt a strong connection to the ocean; nearly everywhere she ever works is coastal. When she arrives in the Shetland Islands, that connection amplifies in a big way. (I mean, look up some photos. That’s no ordinary seawater!)

MAP: Stories of selkies come from Irish and Scottish culture. Have you been able to visit these places? What other research did you do to respectfully portray these beings? 

AA: The setting I first saw in my mind was an island on a crumbling edge of civilization–which, during a deep and twisty-turny initial research and brainstorming dive, turned out to be Shetland after a tsunami. Only then did the nebulously magical people I’d been envisioning reveal themselves to be selkies. So, the setting chose them for me! I haven’t been to the British Isles yet, but someday when I get to set foot on Shetland, I will probably tear up with joy. Meantime, I did a lot of research, reading as well as re/watching all the lovely selkie movies I could get my hands on. (Dozens of hours on Google Earth, the BBC Shetland series, and other photo galleries/videos as well, trying to immerse myself in the feeling of the place–because their kind of magic is so tied to their habitat.) 

One thing I find striking is how versions of ancient oral stories such as these, which were never set down in anything as culturally permanent as the Mahabharata or Metamorphoses, will contradict one another. Orkney finfolk legends often seem darker than Shetland ones, for example. So I felt it was okay to make an informed choice of my favorite elements. I also reimagined some things. Many selkie tales are honestly patriarchal and depressing–about trapping the woman in her human form, or creepy ugly finmen who impregnate human girls and abandon them. Without giving too much away, you won’t find anyone’s sealskin hidden in the rafters in Undiscovered. These ladies have agency (and don’t get me started on the gently sexy lads).

MAP: I know you’re coming from a different religious perspective, but what would you like potential Pagan readers to know?

AA: Someday I might write open-minded, trippy, woman-forward Christian speculative fiction, à la Madeleine L’Engle (whom I consider one of my literary fairy godmothers)–but today is not that day. Still, writing climate fiction for me is a kind of faithful act, as someone who believes we should care for the world we’ve been given. I’ve learned from interacting with you and your characters that Pagans also treasure the Earth! The organization where Arden works is a Star Trek-like mix of people from all over the world, coming together for a common cause. Although she’s not of any particular religion, her friends and coworkers represent a variety of cultures, faiths, and walks of life. Undiscovered is a hopeful story of interconnectedness, humility, and respecting nature (or creation) and the planet we share. So I hope it’s approachable to readers of all beliefs, and not too environmentally preachy either. 

MAP: I love that response. I think it’s good to find bridges of commonality and work together to help others, human or otherwise. It’s a major theme in some of my work as well. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I’m even more excited to dive into the special world you’ve created and see beloved legends expressed in a new, exciting way.

Currently, you can pre-order Undiscovered in eBook format. Paperback will be available on the release date: February 4th. You can also find some of Ashley Anglin’s short stories and poetry here.

How I’m Observing the Winter Solstice this Year

The altar I set up for my grove’s virtual Winter Solstice ritual on Saturday. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2022

The Winter Solstice is officially tomorrow at 4:47 PM EST in the Northern Hemisphere where I live. It marks the longest night of the year, but it’s also on a school and work night! How can we mark the occasion?

Like other religious minorities in the US, I weigh my options each year. Honestly, it’s something I think about for all our holy days. Over the last few years, I actually took time off from work and let my daughter stay home from school on the Winter Solstice. This year, the timing is especially awkward.

As tomorrow is the longest night, we will have a more subdued evening. I plan to make cookies with my child, contemplate darkness, and pray for the renewal of light. I’ve decided to only take Thursday morning off of work so we can drum the sun awake and make offerings as we’ve done for years. It’s such a special moment for us, one we all look forward to. Then I’ll take my kiddo to school so she can enjoy another holiday party, and I can help manage festive activities in the building where I work.

When we go home, we’ll continue our Yuletide celebrations with dinner, exchanging gifts, and merriment knowing we can relax because December break will have begun!

Some Pagans choose to hold a vigil from sundown to sunup. I would love to do that one day, but it doesn’t work with my current sleep habits or obligations. Honestly, I think I’d either fall asleep the night of or the next day at work! If this describes your situation, let me be the first to reassure you that it is okay! A vigil is a beautiful way to honor an occasion and perhaps have some very deep spiritual experiences, but it isn’t the only way. Find a special activity that works for you and your family. Staying up all night may not be feasible, but waking up a little earlier for a special drumming session could be the perfect tradition, especially with little ones!

Honoring the seasonal cycles can be tricky while navigating life’s other demands, but it can be done. How are you celebrating the Winter Solstice this year?

Rethinking Holiday Gifts (AKA – The Gift I Want More Than Anything This Year)

It’s been too long since I last posted on my blog. I spent much of October sick or helping take care of sick family members. I thought we were all doing okay for Samhain, and I enjoyed a lovely celebration with my grove, but then the crud crept back up on us and extended a little into November. Suddenly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and everyone is talking about the holidays…

Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about Winter Solstice, Yuletide, and, yes, even Christmas. Specifically, I’ve been ruminating on the gift-giving associated with this time of year. (Of course, I could include a lot of other holidays that include exchanging presents, but these are the only ones that directly impact my family traditions.) I really want to make a change. So much of my religion is about reconnecting with nature, ancestral roots, and the spiritual. It’s not really about separating myself from the material or treating objects as somehow more profane. No, Druidry celebrates art and the act of creating tools and beauty. Material objects and heirlooms are fine to a point, but the consumerism really gets to me. (And trust me, as an author selling books…I have a lot of complicated feelings about it.)

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have too much stuff. I really do. I love and appreciate many of the items I have (heirlooms, art made by friends and family, items carefully selected for me by loved ones who really get me), but I also have a lot of random junk. Knickknacks given for the sake of giving something. Clothing given to fill a box yet doesn’t really reflect who I am. That may come across as unappreciative, but I know I’ve given similar things for a similar reason. Everyone is under pressure. We want to make people happy, add to that holiday cheer, and ensure everyone has lots of fun things to open!

But behind all that? Stress. So much stress! There’s the financial stress of obtaining gifts, then the stress that comes with figuring out where to put all the new stuff. Perhaps stress related to demonstrating to gift givers that you appreciate it all. It’s exhausting! Can we all just admit that it’s ruining the actual spirit of the holidays, whatever you celebrate?

In the past, I’ve written similar things here and elsewhere about how I want to focus more on experiences. I really want to return to that, especially for people beyond my home. I’ll continue to give a few carefully selected “fun things” to my daughter and other children in my life, and I know what my husband wants and needs (as well as what will actually fit in our home. This is key.). He and I are also picking out something together that we know we both want anyway. It keeps things simple but no less special. For all the other adults in my life? I’m thinking more about the experience of eating and drinking. Good food and beverages to be enjoyed. Maybe a small item to add comfort in the cold. Nothing that will break the bank or take up a lot of space. Or maybe we could all agree that the simple act of gathering and sharing a meal is gift enough? Maybe sing some seasonal songs together. Read a poem or excerpt from a favorite winter story? Stop giving stuff entirely! It would be a wonderful, magical thing, in all honestly. Honestly, in a society facing extreme environmental breakdown and financial ruin, it would be transformative; truly magical.

To family and friends reading this: honest to goodness, I don’t need more stuff. Especially large stuff! I’m sure you don’t either! Gods know I spent way too much time the last couple months lounging on the couch, feeling miserable, wishing I were out experiencing life instead of staring at the mess of stuff around me.

Can we please all make this change?

(And please, stop giving my child so many things! Her room is bursting at the seams! Give her a gift card to the zoo or art store. No more toys. Please.)

Book Review: Metal Never Lies

Photo of ebook cover on a slab of rock resting on grass. The phone is surrounded by metal allies made by author Sam “Bo” Thompson. Photo by M. A. Phillips

As someone who honors and serves the Irish goddess, Brigid, you’d think I’d have a greater interest in blacksmithing due to her connections to the anvil. You’d think I would have read more on the topic or perhaps taken a workshop, but you’d be wrong. Well, you would have been wrong up until recently when I delved into an ebook of Metal Never Lies by Sam “Bo” Thompson.

I first learned of Thompson’s work through a fellow Pagan acquaintance online. She shared a photo of a metal tool she’d purchased from a polytheist blacksmith. I’m always keen to support other Pagan artisans, so I naturally started following Raven’s Keep Forge on social media. When he updated that he’d made and stocked small copper offering bowls and anvil dust, I was moved to purchase the items for my Brigid shrine and devotionals. Later, I purchased an iron hair stick with a swirl at the top. It doubles as a wand with which to write sigils into candles. Beautiful and twice and functional? Sign me up.

Then Thompson wrote and published his book, Metal Never Lies. I was interested in deepening my understanding of metal lore, and he serendipitously offered me an ARC copy to read and review.

Metal Never Lies is a great primer on incorporating metal into your magical practice. The author’s friendly voice shines through as he shares stories, insight, and wisdom on the ins and outs of metallurgy, folklore, and working with the medium from a Pagan point of view. It’s both insightful and very accessible to newcomers.

If you aren’t a metalsmith, I promise you’ll get something from this book as I did. Thompson shifted my perspectives on incorporating metal in my own spiritual path as a Druid and animist. Each chapter contains reflective exercises, and I soon realized I’m not paying enough attention to my metallic allies.

The author himself states that he’s not an expert in the lore, but he offers a multicultural list of deities and myth associated with metallurgy. I was a little surprised and saddened he didn’t spend more time discussing Brigid or Goibniu in the section on Irish lore, but they at least get a mention. Once more, Thompson never asserts his text is definitive, and the bits of info he supplies is enough to get a seeker on the right path.

I would have liked some more images or photos to go along with the text, especially when he speaks about tools or Ogham. Though I have enough knowledge of the ancient Irish alphabet, anyone unfamiliar to the folklore may be taken out of Thompson’s narrative flow wondering what he’s describing. That’s a very minor critique, however. As long as the reader goes into this book knowing it’s a very informal introduction, they will glean a lot of knowledge and perspective. I definitely recommend this book to any polytheist seeking to explore new avenues of magic.

You can find Metal Never Lies through Raven’s Keep Forge or Amazon. Don’t forget to check out Sam “Bo” Thompson’s many beautiful pieces available to purchase from the forge!

Let Me Show You Around My Rose Garden

Happy (almost) Lúnasa!

As the first major harvest festival, it’s a great time to be a gardener. My veggie beds are producing some beautiful food for us already in the form of beans, tomatoes, and eggplant. The squash are just starting to develop flowers and fruit. Hopefully we’ll enjoy harvesting them closer to the Autumn Equinox.

Today, I thought I’d share a different part of the garden with you all. More of a spiritual and emotional harvest at this point, my ever-evolving rose garden has become a spiritual centerpiece in the backyard. The goal is to one day harvest blossoms and hips for herbal workings, but while everyone establishes themselves, I mostly work with this area for cutting the occasional offerings, moonlit rituals, and for meditation.

If you didn’t already know it, I started to share some amateurish videos of my garden journey. Perhaps they will inspire you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions, and I’d also like to see how you’re co-creating your own magical areas.

Make Room on Your Witch Lit Bookshelves!

A year ago, I was basking in an authorly glow after rapidly publishing three Rituals of Rock Bay novels with Shadow Spark Publishing over several months. The exhaustion had subsided some, and so I set out to once more participate in Camp NaNoWrimo with the very relaxed goal to start plotting a new novel. An idea had taken seed–something unrelated to Lacey, Cian, and the others. Slowly, a fresh set of characters grew, and Plant Lady blossomed into a manuscript I couldn’t set aside. 

Here we are, July again, and I have exciting news! I’ve happily contracted with Shadow Spark Publishing to bring Plant Lady to life for everyone to enjoy! 

Not the official cover.

Plant Lady by M. A. Phillips – Coming in 2023!

Plants are easy. People…not so much.

Fern is a practicing witch with a green thumb. She’s earned an enchanting reputation for helping people improve their fortunes at her tiny plant shop in Utica, NY, but she’d trade it all to reclaim her grandparents’ garden nursery.

Her life takes an unexpected turn when an ex-boyfriend suddenly appears at her Pagan circle’s meetup as they plan for their annual witches’ ball. Will he uproot this Plant Lady’s plans, or will new opportunities bloom?

After a relatively long rest, I’m so excited to be in this position again! Keep your eyes peeled for snippets, character art, and eventual giveaways as we get closer to the release of Plant Lady.

As always, thank you to everyone who supports me. I wouldn’t be here without readers!  


Happy Mermay Authors & Artists Appreciation Week!

The official Mermay Authors & Artists Appreciation Week graphic by Papaya.

I’m delighted to participate in author D. H. Willison’s first (hopefully annual) Mermay Authors & Artists Appreciation Week! This is a virtual tour to celebrate mermaids and other denizens of the deep who inspire so many of us. As an author who features a mermaid-type creature in my novels, I simply had to join in on the fun.

Ready to dive in with me?

The River Spirit from my Rituals of Rock Bay series. Commissioned art by immabunni.
  • Which historical myths did you draw from when creating your story/artwork?
    Long-time blog readers know how I look to Irish lore and mythology for guidance and inspiration. You may be surprised to know that the idea for the freshwater mermaid / River Spirit did not come from a specific Irish legend, but I did read about merrows and selkies as I considered who would haunt the shore and Lacey’s dreams. Ultimately, I decided against a selkie (which are not mermaids as we know them, but fairy-women who wear seal skins). There aren’t any seals in this region of the Saint Lawrence river. I briefly considered something similar with an otter, but it just didn’t feel right to alter established myth, and I instead drew on my first encounter with a sturgeon. The River Spirit of my novels remains in the water just like the ancient fish, but she can shapeshift. This quality was very much inspired by another dangerous water creature found in Scottish lore – kelpies. The Sturgeon Spirit is not a kelpie, though, but her form changes depending on who sees her and how she wants to influence them. And like many old stories about mermaids, the River Spirit can be dangerous, especially to those who cross her or her allies.
  • Do you have any personal connection to any particular body of water? Tell us about it.
    Of course! I think all mermaid fans must have a special bond with water somewhere. The Rituals of Rock Bay series takes places in a fictional town along the very real Saint Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands region of Upstate NY. It’s the state’s longest river and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. It has a very old history with the Haudenosaunee people (which I’m still learning more about), and remains an important part of our state’s history and culture. I adore the waterway, and feel the sacredness whenever I’m there. As part of the Irish Diaspora, I love knowing that the river connects me to the ocean which touches Ireland. I sometimes feel the sea god, Manannán mac Lir, strong in the waters, mingling with many other spirits. It is a holy place, but there’s a lot of other magic too. From ancient fish like the sturgeon, to ship wrecks, pirate legends, ghosts, and even castles.

Curious to read more from me? Come explore the mystical side of the Saint Lawrence River and the fictional town of Rock Bay.

A fresh-water, shape-shifting river guardian dwells in the waters along the town of Rock Bay in my Rituals of Rock Bay series. It all starts in River Magic when Lacey Moran encounters a mermaid both in and out of her dreams. As she strives to better understand what this means for her blossoming intuitive skills, Lacey joins a group of local Pagans and navigates life and love along the Saint Lawrence River. Perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen who crave realistic portrayals of folk magic and modern Pagans.

I hope you’ll join these other fine authors and artists to learn why merfolk inspire them and their work!

D. H. Willison (22 of Mermay)
D.N.Frost (23 of Mermay)
C. Willison (24 of Mermay)
Rosalyn Briar (25 of Mermay)
M. A. Phillips (26 of Mermay)
Papaya (27 of Mermay)
S D Simper (28 of Mermay)