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It’s hard for me to top yesterday’s big announcement, but I hope this week’s edition of Three Things Thursday also inspires you.

Seedlings:

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Bean plants reaching toward the light. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020.

The seeds I started on March 20th are doing well for the most part. The beans are most vigorous as you can see from above. The tomatoes and squash have sprouted, which is always cause for celebration. The habanero… Well, I still have hope. Two types of basil and parsley are also reaching toward the light. I’ve since started lettuce, leeks, and some other herbs. It’s amazing to see their progress each day, and it helps me feel closer to the goddess Airmed.

Meditating with Plants:

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Dried mugwort from a previous year’s garden. Photo by M. A. Phillips

Speaking of plants and gardens, it’s time for a bit of a throwback to when I took part in the“Plant Spirit Ally Challenge” with Hagstone Publishing last May. I wrote about meditating with a specific plant (mugwort) to better know them. Even when you live in a northern climate where plants are just popping out, there are ways to make a connection. Why not start now? Are you going to work with any new herbs this year?

Writing Update: Camp Nanowrimo:

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Graphic says, “Camp NANOWRIMO 2020 Writer”

I’ve never been one to rest on my laurels. Sure, I have moments where I laze about, but I’m always working on something. As I wait for the next steps toward River Magic’s publication, I’ve decided to take advantage of Camp Nanowrimo and work on a sequel! Due to yesterday’s excitement, I didn’t make a huge dent in my goals, but every story starts somewhere, right? I’ll document some of my progress on Instagram with another writing challenge. My plans for this story? Another otherworldly being, but more kitchen magic this time!

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Yes, this is a photo of me! At long last, I’m revealing my face. Photo by my husband.

If you follow my instagram, you saw my cryptic post yesterday that I had a secret about my novel River Magic, but I couldn’t share it yet. Well, now that it’s official, I can! Shadow Spark Publishing is going to bring River Magic to life! You can see my official bio on their author page here! I am so excited to join a team that is enthused about my manuscript and shares a similar vision for publication. I want to thank everyone who has supported me so far, especially my family and readers. I have so many emotions and thoughts swirling around my head about this, but I’m too excited to stitch them all together. Stay tuned for updates as I enter the next phase of my journey as a writer!

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My publisher’s announcement on Twitter! It says, “We’ve signed another one! Please welcome M. A. Phillips to Shadow Spark Publishing! Her Magical Realism Novel, RIVER MAGIC, had us staying up late at night to finish reading, and we look forward to bringing it to the world soon! @ditzydruid, Welcome Home, lady!”

 

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Welcome to Three Things Thursday – your weekly dose of three mini posts in a larger post.

Virtual Vernal Equinox:

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A view of the ritual space in my back yard. I tried to make it as festive as possible with a green tablecloth, pastel bunnies, colored eggs, and an Airmed flag I sewed a couple years ago. Photo by M. A. Phillips 2020.

Life changed quickly due to Covid-19, and my grove adapted with an online ritual. Unlike other instances when we did virtual rites, I did all the parts. I wanted to make it as stress-free as possible, so I streamed what I did online and left quiet moments for those joining in to speak to the Kindreds at their own home altars. When I called to the Nature Spirits, a red squirrel shimmied really close, stared at me, then chirped! Online rituals are always awkward, but I tried to make it peaceful and simple. People from out of town took part or viewed it later. I’m glad that I helped others find some comfort in a scary time. It was certainly a learning experience!

Devotionals with my Daughter:

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Like many of you, I’m groping through this whole social distancing experience. As I figure out how to balance teaching my students online and keeping my daughter on some sort of educational routine, I decided to include her in morning devotionals. I usually do them on my own before heading to work, but lately I felt it was important to make it more of a family affair. She cuddles up and hugs me while we take three calming breaths. I’ve had to shorten my ritual a little, and I let her choose who she makes offerings to. I think she’s finally at a perfect age to appreciate the added comfort.

Writing Update:

As I wait for feedback on RIVER MAGIC, I’m doing my best to keep busy and improve my craft. A sequel is taking shape in the form of an outline, and I’m working on a flash fiction inspired by the Adirondack Center for Writing’s prompt. Stuck at home, writing is even more important to me. It’s an outlet and escape. It’s another way to connect to others. I’m so grateful for Brigid’s inspiration.

How are you creating and connecting to others while staying inside?

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Once more, I’m squishing three mini blog posts together into a big one for your viewing pleasure! Here you’ll find some musings on the Spring Equinox, an activity for you to do with the little ones during isolation, and a new excerpt from an upcoming short story!

Growing Food

 

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Lettuce I’m regrowing. The CSA I got it from included the root ball, so I just plopped it back in a pot and watered. Now it’s regrowing! Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

My seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds arrived a couple days ago, promptly followed by the grow lights I ordered to improve my success. With everything shutting down, the shortages, and uncertainty, growing some food at home seems more important than ever. Each little seed is a packet of hope for the future. I enjoy blessing the seeds and planting them as part of our family Spring Equinox observations. If you’re new to gardening, there are plenty of resources online, but some of the easiest plants to grow in my experience are lettuce greens, peas, and chives. Chives will flourish year after year as they are self-seeding  (and quite invasive if you let them have their way). They’re a harbinger of spring in my garden, and even thrive left in pots left out over the winter. I enjoy snips of chives in my salads, potatoes, soups, and stews.

An Equinox Scavenger Hunt

Equinox Scavenger Hunt

My daughter is sad that she’s not able to celebrate the spring with our grovies. She always enjoyed doing an egg hunt and running around outside with the other kids. When the news reported that the virus reached the West Coast, I started buying one treat each grocery visit to ensure I had a basket for her. I also plan to do a scavenger hunt. I made a graphic using free clip art on Canva.com and am including it here for you if you like! I designed it for either hemisphere, and I emphasized the three realms in a kid-friendly way. It’s meant to be open-ended. Your child doesn’t have to find a bee, for example. It could be any insect flying in the sky. Any water will do – whether you go on a nature walk, look out your window, down from your balcony, or search for pictures and videos online. The important thing is you’re having conversations with your children and reflecting on seasonal changes.

A New Excerpt

Invasives excerpt

I push down the urge to utter a curse. My mind is too rattled to fuse words coherently without causing more harm than intended.
Invasives
by M. A. Phillips

I shared a sneak peek into an upcoming short story called “Invasives” on my instagram. I’ll talk about it more as we approach Bealtain, but I’m really excited for you to see it in issue three of Stone, Root, and Bone magazine! As always, I like adding excerpts to my Three Things Thursday posts since not all of my readers use that social media. Speaking of Stone, Root, and Bone, issue one is available for free this month! Just enter the promo code SRB1FREE when you check out. You’ll be able to read my short story “Lemon Balm Tea!” Let me know what you think.

Stay well everyone.

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Once more, three mini posts inside a big one! Trying to remain positive in light of a lot of anxiety at the moment.

A Low-Key Full Moon

I had plans for the full moon, and they collapsed, much as I did into bed, that night. The impact of losing an hour is amazing (on top of coming out of an intense Mercury in retrograde). This is unusual for me as full moons find me more energetic! After some reflection, I realized it’s okay. Listening to our bodies is important, after all. I altered my plans and did a simple folk charm during my devotional, and I prepared a bone to join the nature shrine. While I lacked the energy for my initial plans, I think everything turned out in the end.

Tree Spirit!

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Plush oak tree spirit made by M. A. Phillips 3/12/20 (Forgive the appearance of my sleeping garden.)

Writing has been my main focus for a few years now, but if you’ve been with me since the beginning, you know I also love to sew. I used to make (and sell) tree spirits at craft fairs, Pagan Prides, and on my now shuttered Etsy. Last year, a friend from a local artisan co-op approached me about adding some to their stock. I wasn’t ready last year, but I’m making some for this summer! The best part? Unlike before, this lovely little guy is made without plastic. That’s right! The felt and stuffing are wool, the thread is cotton, and the eyes are glass. Mindfully choosing materials that are less detrimental to the environment is very important to me, and I think it adds to the magic of these little sprites. Making him sure added a spot of sunshine to my week!

A New Excerpt!

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Lidia spread her arms wide. “Presenting the yet-to-be-named boutique of magic and shenanigans!”
Cian and Lacey chuckled in admiration. Not even Mark’s skepticism could deflate her plans.
“It must have shenanigans if you’re involved,” Cian pointed out.
“It must,” Lacey agreed. “It wouldn’t be Lidia’s store without it.”
The other woman flashed an impish grin. The streetlights shimmered in her green and blond hair. She twinkled like a shooting star. Lidia seemed to have everything figured out, and it transfixed Lacey.
RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

I’m still participating in the Dark and Light Author Challenge over on Instagram. Check mine out for more insight into my novel, RIVER MAGIC. The above excerpt gives a little glimpse at one of my favorite secondary characters, Lidia. She’s an eclectic solitary Wiccan who opens a metaphysical shop in their community. She’s also one of Lacey’s best friends and confidants. One day, I will write a whole story focused on her.

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  • Take Care – 
    Although “self-care” has become entangled with commercialism, I still find value in the original essence of the concept. Pausing to make time for ourselves and our spiritual, creative, or physical needs is important, especially when so much weighs us down. Between the news, some stressful situations at work, and such, I left my exercises on the back burner. Tonight I decided to fit in some belly dance and yoga, and I’m so glad I did. I feel much better, and I’m energized to practice more.
  • Feral Witchcraft
    I mentioned some stress at work. I love my job, but I definitely had to unleash my inner mama bear this week! When I got home, I learned that a very generous person gifted me with access to the upcoming Feral Witchcraft Course from Althaea! My dear, anonymous benefactor saw a tweet that I’m interested yet unable to afford it this time around. I am simultaneously shocked, humbled, and extremely grateful for the present! This is a timely gift given how I’m digging my feet in to stand up for those who need it in my community, and bringing my dreams to fruition on my own terms. There’s still time to sign up if you’re interested! Althaea is an amazing witch and teacher. I. Am. Hyped!
  • Writing Update – 
    I decided to join in with another writing challenge on instagram. Just one this time. Two became a bit much for me some days, especially once February break ended. I do so enjoy these, though. They spark inspiration and I appreciate an opportunity to share and connect with other writers and readers. Here’s the latest excerpt I posted featuring Lacey’s want as the story opens.

    ch 1 Lacey excerpt (1)

    “The old kayak dream is back,” she wrote. “I wish I could steer my dreams with a paddle and figure out where to go from here.” Lacey tapped the end of a pen against her lips. “There was a tune this time. I recognize it from somewhere.” From RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

     

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Lacey

“Woman in White Lace Crew-neck Cap-sleeves Top” -by Valeria Boltneva (free use from Canva, slightly edited to include character’s name)

Those of you who follow my Instagram know that I’ve been sharing excerpts from my RIVER MAGIC manuscript. Expect to see more and more about my novel in the coming months. I know many of you who follow this blog initially came here for information on Druidry, Paganism, and related topics, but I promise you have nothing to worry about. Just as with my short stories published in Stone, Root, and Bone, the main characters are contemporary Pagans!

I will post more about this soon, but for now, as part of the #darkandlightauthorchallenge over on Instagram, I’m going to share the story behind my main character’s name because it’s part of my Pagan genesis*.

Lacey is a clairvoyant young woman. To be specific, she has prophetic dreams, but only about those closest to her. She doesn’t dream about major world events or strangers unless they directly impact her, her family, or dearest friends. When we meet her in my story, she is fresh out of college and trying to figure out why an old dream has returned to repeat night after night. Her visions, and their elusive meanings, are a major draw to the metaphysical. Since her powers budded in adolescence, she’s delved deeper and deeper into Paganism.

Many of us come to polytheism, witchcraft, and the occult when we are teens, myself included. I spent my childhood going to mass with my family, but as I learned more about the world, I grew curious about mythology and esoteric subjects. Like attracts like, and I found myself with an equally curious circle of friends. I went to a lot of sleepovers in middle school, and one friend was particularly fond of activities born out of the Spiritualism movement. We had seances, explored tarot, and, yes, played “light as a feather, stiff as a board.”

During one such gathering, a girl named Lacey joined us. My character doesn’t look like her, but the name and our attempts to commune with the Otherworld stayed with me all these years. I never met another person with that name, and when I was considering what to call my character, Lacey instantly came to mind.

(As an aside, Lacey shares the maiden name of one of my Irish ancestors.)

So there you have it! My beloved character was born out of my own early dabbling and a chance encounter with a kindred spirit. I hope you’ll get to learn more about Lacey in the future.

*Pagan Genesis should totally be a band name.

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