Monday, October 5, 2009

Welcome Ellen Dugan, Garden Witch!

By Jeanne Adams

As most of you know, October is my absolute FAVORITE month. Fall is my favorite time of year, Halloween’s my favorite holiday, pumpkin’s my favorite pie.

So, what better time than October to bring out the brooms and get a clean sweep start at some cool writing-craft tools?

My guest today is none other than the multi-published author, garden authority and one fabulous witch, Ellen Dugan. Author of eleven books on garden and natural witchery for Llewellyn Books, Ellen has no doubt winced over some of the methods and materials fictional witches utilize. (I’m hoping she’ll clue me in on some Coven things for a new series I’ve proposed), and I hope you’ll take advantage of having a wonderful witch “on call” to answer your witch-and-garden questions.

So, welcome Ellen!

Good morning everyone, happy October!

Jeanne: When did you first get into witchcraft, and the natural methods of connecting with the Earth through witchcraft? Tell us too, about your gardening background.

Ellen: First, I have always been interested in the Craft from the time I was a girl. I think I checked out every book on magick, mythology and faery tales as a kid. As my psychic abilities grew when I hit puberty it landed me in lots of trouble with my very conservative and disapproving parents. But I had no control over the things I saw and felt and could do. I was always in trouble and often harshly punished for this. (You would think that the fact that I was wicked accurate with my predictions would have clued the folks in….)

Jeanne: Well, yep. That's usually a good indicator! I'm sure that was not only confusing but a real challenge to make sense of things.

Ellen: Absolutely! As I hit high school I became desperate for information and finally a kind, open-minded, teacher took pity on me and suggested I do my term paper on psychic phenomena. That opened up worlds for me.

Now, I had information and I could put it to use and try and gain some control. As time went on I started running into the idea of magick and witchcraft and how it complimented psychic abilities. I was still a teen and I’ve been studying and exploring the Craft ever since. I formally began to study the Craft after my first son was born back in the early 1980’s.

I love how witchcraft connects you to the cycles and seasons of the earth. Nature is revered and how the Craft encourages you to be strong, to think for and to be true to yourself.

Jeanne: I think many people are attracted to it for that reason. Of course, it's also what editors are looking for in modern heroines which may be why witches, vampires, and all things paranormal are so popular. If you're among the "differently minded" you pretty much have to be strong, think for yourself and follow your own path, right?

Ellen: Yes, indeed. As to my gardening background. When we bought our house I was twenty years old and eight months pregnant with our first son. And I did the stereotypical gardening thing and killed just about everything - planted sunny plants in the shade and vice versa… I could grow roses, and vegetables but other flowers not so much.

As my kids grew older and were in elementary school I was friendly with a woman whose mother had grown up in England and she had the most amazing perennial gardens I had ever seen. I complimented her on her gardens, and she told me to bring every bucket, and pot over that I owned and she would give me baby perennials for my own garden.

That got me started and so I went to the library to research the plants- I did not want to kill those new perennials! And I had so much fun that I kept going. Later that spring I picked up a part-time job at a local nursery and learned even more. So for the next several years I picked up a seasonal job at a different nursery, greenhouse, landscaping company, or tree farm. I kept learning and experimenting. Gardening is like a sickness. If you are bit by the gardening bug- you are incurable.

Jeanne: That is SO true! We have that gardening bug in common. My DH despairs of the "plant projects" I'll dream up next. Grins.

Ellen: An added plus for me was that many of those herbs and plants in my gardens had magickal properties… I had free magickal supplies!

Jeanne: Even better. Ha! So what made you decide to stop planting long enough to write a book about Garden Witchery (2003), your first book with Llewellyn?

Ellen: It was my frustration with a lack of magickal gardening and flower and herb magick information. I kept saying to myself. “Why doesn’t anyone write a book like I would want to read?” I was bored with encyclopedias. Nobody ever talked about how to plant or grow those herbs and flowers with intention and to use them in your own magick…. And I thought to myself, “Well, hell. Why don’t I just write the book?” So I sat down and taught myself to write a book.

I followed the number one rule for both fiction and non-fiction. Write about what you know, and write about what you love. It took me about 6 months to write. I sent for and followed the writers guidelines and sent it in. Six months later, in spring of 2002, I was mailed a contract for Garden Witchery.

Jeanne: Garden Witchery was quickly followed – less than 2 months later – by Elements of Witchcraft, Natural Magick for Teens, which has been one of your most popular books. Was it challenging to meet those two deadlines so close together?

Ellen: Well while I was waiting to hear on Garden Witchery, I had been speaking to an acquisitions editor who had enjoyed a “Teen Witch survival guide article” I had written for Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac. She asked me if I would consider writing a book for teens. (Since at the time all three of my kids were teens I thought it sounded like fun.)

So I put the focus on natural magick and the four elements and while I was nervously waiting for 6 months to hear about the first proposal, I wrote Elements of Witchcraft: Natural Magick for Teens. I sent my second finished book proposal in right after they contracted the first book. Llewellyn snatched it up. Nobody was more surprised than me when they released those books back-to-back.

And I was off and running.

Jeanne: You had that same issue this year, with Garden Witch’s Herbal coming out in August, and the latest, Book of Witchery, Spells, Charms and Correspondences for Every Day of the Week which JUST came out. Was it a massive headache to get two books in so close together?

Ellen: I can’t remember. I was too busy trying to survive the writing, editing and proof pages…. Not to mention going on an east coast tour for Garden Witch’s Herbal. All while remaining calm, and professional and totally unflappable. (That was sarcasm)

Jeanne: Uh-huh. I hear you on that sarcasm. I'm feeling a bit of the unflappable right about now myself, with my deadline looming. I'm just eating bon-bons, you know. No worries.

(Yes, that was more sarcasm, and from me this time! Hahah!)

Anyway, you also just began offering classes too, didn’t you? Your website indicates three of your classes are available online, using your books as texts. I’m deep into the Autumn Sabbats Class and loving it.

Ellen: I decided to offer online classes because there was such a demand from folks all over the country to take a class of mine. I had many requests to do a series of online classes. A few summers before I had done a 16 week course on Witchery and those were well attended so I took a look at my “live classes” notes and started to put together an online class.

Holy cats! It took forever and was much more involved than teaching a class “live.” But the response has been very positive and I know all too well what it’s like to want an affordable class and not have access to one, because of where you live or because you need to keep a low profile. Keeping the classes affordable is very important to me, and I stick to that. Also the classes are self paced.

We are all grown ups here the only person who should be “grading” your studies in the Craft- is yourself.

Jeanne: Ellen, you and I have had several conversations about fictional witches and both laughed and winced over some of the errors authors make. (I have the same issue about body disposal too, as most of our readers know!) Who are some of the authors who get it “right”?

Ellen: Fiction authors? (Sigh) There are a few… but I understand that they need to push it a bit and take their readers to the edge of fantasy, so I can overlook the more fantastic scenes. I adore the positive slant Nora Roberts takes with her fictional witches. Actually I have had many readers and the general public walk up to me and happily announce that, they "...know what Wicca and real Witchcraft is. Because they read about it in a Nora Roberts book.”

You just have to smile at that, because their hearts are in the right place. Goddess bless them.

Jeanne: We all enjoy that about Nora. She does tend to make things accessible. Grins. Including playing the cello and doing archeaology and police work in addition to magic. Ha! You bring up and interesting point, however. What's the difference between witchcraft and Wicca?

Ellen: A Wiccan may or may not refer to themselves as a Witch. And just to keep you on your toes a Witch may or may not refer to themselves as Wiccan. Confused yet?

Jeanne: Totally. *VBG*

Ellen: Wiccans strictly adhere to the “harm none” law. Some traditional Witches do not follow the harm none rule. They believe that if they have to defend themselves or their loved ones… then all is fair.

Do Witches run around looking for a fight? Absolutely not. But they realize that “sending love and light” to a problem is not always a practical solution. Witches have no qualms about defending themselves with magick should the need arise. So they live as ethically as possible, trying to maintain neutrality while keeping the rule of karma in mind.

Jeanne: Very interesting dileneation. I don't think I've ever heard it explained quite so succinctly. Thanks!

Another incredibly cool book of yours is How to Enchant a Man: Spells to Bewitch, Dazzle and Beguile. As Romance Writers and Readers, that's a title to make you sit up and take notice.

What kind of feedback have you gotten on that book? I know you love Romance and I know this book has been monumentally popular with your readers. I think our Romance Bandits and Bandit Buddies would like this one too! Tell us a bit about it…

Ellen: This book gets the strongest reactions of any book I have written to date. I have had women pounce on it squeal with delight and get a glazed look in their eyes as you can see the wheels start to turn. They laugh and get excited and tell me how much fun it is.

And to my surprise, I have had gay men snatch it up with similar reactions. They and their partner look at it together, laugh and then buy it for themselves. I have also had straight women go off on me and tell me how offensive they feel the book is to them personally. Typically while the unkempt, frumpy woman is on her tirade- her poor man is just standing there waiting for her to wind down.

What happens next is that he picks up the book, starts to peruse the pages and smiles. Then he tells her that he wants her to buy a copy- while she gets even more irate. Then he typically starts to stare at any other woman who is in the vicinity. I can’t tell you the number of times I sat there and tried not to laugh as a this scenario played out.

If they would get off their soapbox for a moment and actually look inside of the book, they would see that the way to “enchant” a man is to be confident and happy with yourself. The magick you do for transformation is always on yourself. Because when a woman is confident and happy she attracts men into her life with out even trying.

Its all about self empowerment with a dollop of witchcraft and sexy, saucy magick stirred in!

Jeanne: I like it! Again, it really speaks to what most of us strive to portray - strong women, finding security in themselves and finding the love of their lives because they believed in it and in themselves.

(And of course, I had to add my delicious CSI Nick Stokes as an enchanting man there...just for visual aid, you know!)

One other thing, I’ve beguiled you into coming to the Washington Romance Writers Retreat, “In the Company of Writers…” next April to give us the full-bore lowdown on how to portray modern witches in fiction. Are you looking forward to that as much as I am?

Ellen: I am so-o excited about that! I can hardly wait. I wonder if they all talk as fast as I do?

Jeanne: Well, I don't know about "as fast" but they sure can talk! Ha! I'm also hoping some of our cool readers today will jump into the fray and ask about their works-in-progress, or about witches, Wiccans, herblore and so on to keep it hoping today.

So, to wrap up, Ellen, what’s your advice for writers and readers of Romance when it comes to witches?

Ellen: Do your homework. And remember there are NO demons or devils in the real Craft- ever. We raise our families, work our jobs, take care of your homes and gardens, and are regular people. Keep that in mind.

Jeanne: So last but not least, who’s your favorite TV Witch? Movie Witch?

Ellen: Tv Witch Samantha Stevens from Bewitched- (What can I say? I grew up watching the show.)

Movie Witch: Kristina- from Sleepy Hollow

Okay Banditas and BB’s, you've read a little about who got it "right" in the world of fiction, witch-wise, tell us who's witchy books YOU liked, who's your fav TV/Movie witch and fire away (oooh, bad witch pun) about what you'd like to know about plants, herbs, and witches, oh, my!

One lucky poster today will get a copy of Ellen’s latest book, Book of Witchery along with chocolates and a copy of Dark and Deadly from me!


flchen1 said...

Ooh, wow, what a neat post and topic, Ellen and Jeanne! I'm quite admittedly terrible at growing things, but do enjoy gardens other people grow :)

MsHellion said...

My favorite "witchy" book is Jill Barnett's BEWITCHING, which I think she wrote because she loved BEWITCHED when she was a kid. *LOL* Hilarious stuff....

Favorite witch movie: Practical Magic, of course...

Virginia said...

Congrat flchen1 on nabbing the rooster today! Have fun with him. He had and easy day yesterday so I am sure he is ready for some work now!

Oh Ellen from the looks of your garden you have a green thumb or you are using witch craft for sure. I just don't have that much luck with flowers. Around here they either get to much water or not enough, this year I think everything got to much water!

Your book sound like a fantastic read and I can't wait to read it. So please pick me and maybe I can become a witch and grow flowers too!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Fedora! Great nab on the Golden Rooster. Grins.

I did explain ye olde chook to Ellen - the first poster gets him for the day - and how everyone would probably be congratulating you all day on snagging him. Ha!

I'll bet you'd do better than you think at gardens, Fedora! Just a little magic, you know...Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Ms. Hellion! You just missed the GR by a tail feather. :>

I've not read Jill's book, I'll have to add it to the Towering Pile Of TBR. :> If its anything like Bewitched, it should be fun.

Practical Magic. Great movie!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Virginia! You showed the bird a good time, I hope he'll not be too contentious for Fedora. :>

Ellen's gardens are beautiful. I've seen pictures of them. I posted the azaleas as an example, but Ellen's garden is wilder and in many ways more beautiful. More accessible, anyway! Ha!

Its hard, isn't it, with the uneven rainfall, to keep flowers alive. THis year in DC we stayed pretty steady on rainfall. I didn't have to water too much. A couple of dry weeks, but not too bad. Last year though? Dry, dry, dry.

limecello said...

Ooo witch books? I think I have this right- but the Dragon Quartet by Patricia C Wrede. Cimerone was a witch, right?
And then - the Secret Circle books by LJ Smith. Totally read those and loved those around the time they came out. Er... and who can forget the Dark Jewel(s) [Trilogy] by Anne Bishop.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Ellen!
Congrats on the GR, Fedora!

Virginia said...

Sorry I forgot to answer your question. I always enjoyed watching Bewitched as a child! I have always enjoyed reading about witches in books. I read Lisa Childs, The Witch Hunt series and it was a great read! As far as movies go it would have to be Practical Magic, great movie! I need to hunt up a good witch book to read right not because its that time of the year!

flchen1 said...

Hmm... I wonder if the GR is any good at gardening... Maybe I could put him to work today ;)

Because I just enjoyed seeing this recently with my husband, I think one of my favorite witches is Elphaba from Wicked. She comes into her own in a good way :)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Lime! You read Patricia Wrede too! Wow!! I've never met anyone else who enjoyed her work. And yep, Cimorene was a witch.

Did you read any of her other stuff? A lot of it's filed in YA now, no idea why, but I find her work really fun.

*note to self: look up Anne Bishop's books and LJ Smith's books*

Hear the TBR pile groan under the weight of it's own staggering stackage? Sigh.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Virginia, you're adding to my TBR pile! Jeeeeeez! :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Fedora, the GR can garden. Just watch carefully to be sure he's actually GARDENING and not doing some manuvers P226 taught him. Grins.

Isn't Wicked wonderful? I love the music. Defying Gravity is one of the "most played" on my iPod.

Linda Henderson said...

My favorite tv witch was definitely
Samantha and my favorite movie was Practical Magic. I guess my favorite witch books would be Nora Roberts Donovan series. I live in an apartment now so I don't have a garden but I used to have a beautiful herb garden. I always enjoyed growing herbs. Especially mints and basils.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Linda! Welcome! When I lived in an apartment, I used to do the mints, basils and a lot of chives and parsleys too. Now that I'm in a house, it's a flower-power riot, but I still have the herbs, right by the grill. Grins.

I think everyone likes Practical Magic. Great chemistry with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. And then there's Aidan Quinn...yummmmm. Hey, I looked it up and realized that's the first thing I ever saw Mark Fuerstein in. He's the "new guy" in Prime Time, playing the lead in USA's Royal Pains.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Forgot to say that Nora's Donovan series is one of my favorites. Another fav is the Dance on Air series. Love that one.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay...I'm off for my dream-time. Pretty late here on the East Coast. I'll let our Oz pals and you early risers keep things going for Ellen. Grins.

Virginia said...

Also check out Jennifer Lyon's Blood Magic, I had forgot about this one, its a great read too!

Tawny said...

Loving it!!!! GREAT interview, great question, and OMG what an awesome picture to wind up the blog with *g* Gotta love anything Johnny, of course.

Ellen, welcome to the Lair. I've read a few of your books and have really enjoyed them.

I'm with Ms. Hellion on the Jill Barnett's BEWITCHING. It was the first 'witch' romance I'd ever read and I loved it. Of course, I'm also a major fan of all of Nora's witch stories. She incorporates so much magic (of many kinds) into her books, in wonderful ways. Like Jeanne says, she just makes it accessible.

Ellen, have you ever considered writing fiction as well as craft books?

Helen said...

Congrats Fedora have fun with him

WOW what an interview I loved it although I must confess I am not good in the garden I do have some lovely roses and some hibiscus a great flowing red gum and a beautiful lily pily tree and a crepe myrtle and that is it I am afraid.
I do love admiring other peoples gardens and am in awe of how the keep them so beautiful here in Australia with so little rain most of the time (although not this weekend it is still raining).They must have witches to help them maybe I need some here at my place.

Favourite TV witch would have to be Samantha from Bewitched I loved that show.

Thank you Jeanne for inviting Ellen along today very interesting.

Have Fun

mariska said...

My favorite tv witches will be All the 'Charm's sisters :)
i enjoyed the interviews and really praying that i can win those fabulous giveaways! Coz both are from new Authors, err, for me ^_^v

Laurie said...

Favorite witch books- Anita Blair

Movie -The good/beautiful witch Glenda? in the Wizard of Oz.

Tv- Loved Bewitched growing up. Samantha's mother was hilarious!
Her husband, Darin was such a dork.

michellewillingham said...

My non-traditional favorite witch book would be The Mists of Avalon. Loved that portrayal of Morgaine. Nice.

And I love Nora's books, too!

As for movies, that's a tough one. I don't get to watch as many movies as I'd like.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Oh yeah, this is going to be a great blog and I won't get to know what is happening til late this evening.
What witchy book have I read? Uh Nora Roberts Sister's Island Trilogy was the first Nora Roberts I read and I go back and read it as a comfort read when my brain gets tired.
My questions for Ellen is all about the healing properties of the craft. I know there are a lot of herbs and natural elements involved in that aspect and I was wondering if they are hard to grow and can they be grown anywhere?
Had I known these books were out there (Once again thank you Banditas for opening yet another door for me) I would have had them a long time ago!

Ellen Dugan said...

Good Morning everyone,
I am up before dawn- thats usual for me and just let myself outside to get a peek at the setting full harvest Moon. (Happy sigh) So gorgeous.
You know I LOVE "Bewitching" by Jill Barnett its one of the books on my "Keeper" shelf. I read it whenever I am down in the dumps and need a good chuckle. Its so damn cute- with a fabulous story.
Glad you all enjoyed the interview-blog. Ill be on here a lot today answering questions.
Blessed be (BB) Ellen

Minna said...

Dance on Air and The Circle by Nora Roberts are my favorites. Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the only tv witch I can recall watching right now.

Indica: Vuorien Taa

Mikko Kuustonen - Taikuri

CCR-I Put a Spell On You

ELO-Strange Magic

Ellen Dugan said...

In answer to Tawny's question about writing fiction.... why yes thats in my immediate future. As soon as I finish non-fiction book #12 for Llewellyn. Its about halfway finished. Then Im diving into fiction- like Ive been wanting to for years.
I promised myself before my daughter finished college I would pursue this so wish me luck!

Minna said...

Queen - A Kind Of Magic

Kate Diamond said...

I loved Practical Magic! Severely underrated movie.

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Ellen, welcome to the lair. Great interview, Jeanne. I really enjoyed it.

I especially loved the difference between a Witch and a Wiccan. I've never heard that explanation but it made so much sense!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Morning Tawny! (Altho I believe you posted last night!) I'm working on Ellen to write some fiction....*elbows Ellen* See? See? I'm not the only one who thinks its a great idea.


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Good Morning Helen! At lest its morning here. Ha! I loved how you said you weren't good, then rattled off 5 or 6 really great trees. ;>

Glad ya'll are getting some much-needed rain after the weird red-cloud and so much dry.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Mariska! Welcome! Ellen's books are great. I've almost all of them now.

Ellen, if I bring the whole stack to WRW will you sign 'em for me? Heehee.

Glad you stopped in.

Merry said...

Thanks so much to both Jeanne and Ellen for such an interesting interview. I am SO looking forward to meeting and hearing more from Ellen at the WRW retreat! What a great idea to ask Ellen to join us, Jeanne!
I am very excited to pick up Ellen's gardening book -- I've always loved the idea of being able to actually use the things I grow in my garden -- or should I say, attempt to grow as they don't always thrive as I would want them to.
Thanks again!

Ellen Dugan said...

Of course Im always happy to sign books. I figured if someone spent their hard earned cash on one of my books I am always available to chat them up, and to sign their books.
Of course I get approached in unusual places, outside of author events- and that still surpirses me... at the park, the airport, random stores while Im shopping, whe one of my kids was getting a Senior picture taken- the photographer recognized me and whipped out one of my books out of their tote bag for me to sign. last year at the St. Louis Witches Ball last year while standing in line to get a formal pic taken of the Hubs and myself another photographer approached me....
But you know, I'm always happy to sign a book- thats the BEST part of my job!

Ellen Dugan said...

Start out with "Garden Witchery" and my "Herb Magic for Beginners" then read "Garden Witches Herbal"... Those will keep you busy for a long time!
happy enchanted gardening

Barbara Monajem said...

Jeanne, Hallowe'en is my favorite holiday, too. As for my favorite witch, I'm a huge Hermione fan.

Ellen, the cover art on your books is simply sumptuous! They must jump out at readers from the shelves. I could use some garden witchery, as I have a very brown thumb.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Mornin' Laurie! I like Annette Blair as well. Her stories are cute and fun.

Ahhh, Glenda. Have you seen Wicked? I like that Glenda best, I think.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Michelle! Ellen, Michelle's a WRWer so you'll probably meet her in person next spring. Grins.

Michelle, I know what you mean about not watching many movies anymore. Between writing and family stuff...

Well, I see KID movies. Just not adult movies. Wow that doesn't read right. I should say movies for adults, shouldn't I? Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Dianna! Great question!

I stumbled on Ellen's first book and as I said, I've bought just about everyone since. Grins.

Love the Sisters Island ones too and like you, they're a comfort read for me.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Bright blessings of the morning to you, Ms. Ellen! I saw that big fat moon high in the sky when I went to bed last night. So gorgeous on these clear nights, isn't it?

Looks like we're going to have a rockin' day today!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Minna! Another Nora/Dance on Air fan, I see!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Kate Diamond! Welcome!

I so agree that Practical Magic was underrated.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Christie! Wasn't that a great distinction? I'd never heard it put quite that way and it made so much sense.

Maureen said...

I love the topic! I adored watching "Charmed" and the movie "Practical Magic" though I know neither may be close to 'reality' :)
Thank you for the great information.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Merry! Great of you to stop by. You'll love Ellen's books, and I think she's going to be a fun addition to WRW's Retreat. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ellen that story about the photographer always cracks me up. Hey, great photo, and by the way, will you sign my book? grins.

Joan said...

Good morning Ellen and welcome to The Lair.

Your post was timely as I was looking for a "magic word" this past weekend :-)

I've been making very baby steps in the gardening arena using my friend who does have the magic touch with landscaping, nurturing and growing. (Yes, I had to pick her up off the floor when I told her I didn't own a hose for watering)


Ellen? Ellen?

As to favorite cinema witches I'd go with the ladies of Charmed but Samantha was my first...I occasionally have dreams of twitching my nose and making things happen.

And yeah, the full moon was pretty but those of us in the medical community CRINGE when we see it.

Nancy said...

Ellen, I've read several of your books, and they are excellent!

I've studied The Craft here and there, but tend to blend the discipline with the Native American and Huna belief systems.

Fav witch of all time is Samantha Stevens, tho I loved Practical Magic. I don't have a fav witchy book, but Kelley Armstrong's witches and their defensive magic might hold a bit of an edge. And Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden. :)

Thanks for being in the Lair!

Nancy Haddock

Joan said...

Oh, and have to jump in and add a YES to Nora's Donovans!

Ellen Dugan said...

Hi Nancy,
Just back from the dentist... got treated for dry socket- (sigh) all of this is from a root canal that got infected and then had to end up getting pulled anyway and now this.... I have a dream NOT to see my dentist for 6 months... He is damn lucky his office is not invaded with toads... (Mwha ha ha)
Which might explain why they were so-o nice to me today.... hmmmm
Anyway, I am thrilled that you are enjoying the books.
And like you I too LOVE the Dresden files the tv show was fun-- but the books are BETTER!
have a great and magickal day!
BB, Ellen

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Ellen! So sorry to hear about the tooth. Grrrr on the dry socket.

Had to snicker about the toads though. Glad they WERE nice to you and fit you in to get that checked out. Toads are so hard to get rid of....heehee

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy, so great to have you stop by!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Barbara! Another Hallowe'en lover! Yeah! :>

I like Hermione too. And Ellen's cover art is just mag isn't it? I particularly like the cover on the new one, all those rich jewel tones. Beautiful!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Joanie T, you crack me up.

Ellen, have you recovered from Joan's remark that she is only now buying a garden hose? Heehee.

We'll get her straightened out and on the green path here before too long

Donna MacMeans said...

Yay Fichen1 on nabbing the rooster!

I'm with MsHellion on Practical Magic. Love that movie. I think my fav witchy book is a Theresa Medeiros one - but I forget the title :-( It's a time-travel with a modern magic debunker up against a witch with some unexplained powers.

Ellen - your gardens are to die for. I thought Jeanne must have posted some magazine pics - but to know those were your azaleas - OMG. Absolutely beautiful. Hey - is that your cat as well?

Which begs the question - what about familiars?

jo robertson said...

What a fascinating topic and interview, Jeanne. Welcome to the Lair, Ellen.

Donna MacMeans said...

Michellewhillingham - I forgot about the Mists of Avalon as a witch-book. Nice. Loved the whole presentation of Druids/fairies and earth magic. Good call!

Beth Caudill said...

I like Kelley Armstrong's Paige character, Anne Bishop in her Black Jewels series has a different take on witches, and a historical take is Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle.

I like to garden, but dislike the weeding aspect of it. Anything which flowers is good. Now if I could only get my kids to not be afraid of bees.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hello Ellen and welcome to the Lair!

Very informative post and I may have hope for my garden hidden in your books.

My favorite witch...I'm a Samantha Stevens fan, too! I so wanted to be her when I was growing up.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna said: Ellen - your gardens are to die for. I thought Jeanne must have posted some magazine pics - but to know those were your azaleas - OMG. Absolutely beautiful. Hey - is that your cat as well?

Nope, Donna...all photobucket garden and cat pix. :> Like I said, Ellen's gardens are very pretty and I'm sure she has gorgeous azaleas too, but that was a stock photo. Sorry for the confusion.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Beth! How odd about the kids and the bees. My boys are afraid of them too. Sigh.

Great set of books you've mentioned, more for the TBR!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Suz, there's a lot of hope for anyone's gardens in Ellen's books!

Sasha White said...

Great interview! I'll be bookmarking it to come back to again and again. Thank you.

Ellen Dugan said...

Glad you all enjoy the cover art so much- Ive been very fortunate in my cover artists up at Llewellyn Worldwide. If you want to see more photos of my actual Witch's Gardens hop over to my Myspace page and click on the photo albums on the profile!
Now to go fix lunch for the Hubs and the son.

Amy said...

I'm so happy you had Ellen on your blog today! I've been recommending Ellen's books to my Witchcraft and Herbal students since her first book came out. I've taught Astrology for Character Building, Intro to Herbs and Magic for Romance Writers, "Hexing Writer's block" a tongue in cheek look at sparking your muse, and spell writing for fiction in different writing conventions. Ellen's books are featured in all of my "further reading" sheets for these events. :D

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Sasha! Welcome! We'll look forward to seeing you when ever you pop in. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Amy! Great to have you pop in. I see you've made great use of Ellen's work as well.

Amy said...

Some of my favorite witchy characters, Emerald O'Brien (Yasmine Galenorn 'Chintz and China series), Ruby Wilcox (Susan Wittg Albert, although Ruby calls herself a "new ager" I won't hold that against her.) Amelia Broadway (Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series), and I really enjoyed Practical Magic the book.

The movie was a good watch, and still fun to this day, but I enjoyed the book better.

I enjoyed the LJ Smith books as a teen as well!

My all time favorite "witchy book"?

Cat Magic by Whitley Strieber.

He spent a good deal of time with Circle Sanctuary for researching this novel, and I adore it.

It's out of print, but if you can track down a copy IT'S WORTH IT.

MsHellion said...

Donna, Touch of Enchantment is one of the TM books. There were two. One with the daughter as well, where she goes back in time (and the mother had come forward in time.) It's a toss up which one I liked better--they were both wonderful.

MsHellion said...

BREATH OF MAGIC. That was the other one. I had to google it. I hate not remembering titles, especially when they're titles that don't actually include the word "duke" or "wicked" or one of the other buzzwords that are frequently used.

My apologies to anyone published with the words "duke" or "wicked" in their title--but you know what I'm talking about...

Tawny said...

Ellen said: I promised myself before my daughter finished college I would pursue this so wish me luck!

Oh wonderful!!!! Sending you lucky vibes and happy fictional writing thoughts *g*

I'm always in awe of those who can write both non-fiction and fiction. I've never been able to quite wrap my brain around the idea that I might have enough facts and knowledge about any single subject to fill a book (or that I could format those thoughts into the book --pretty soon I'd have characters waltzing through, stirring up trouble and inevitably falling in love LOL)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Great list, Amy! I think I've read that Whitley Streiber book. I'll have to look it up on Amazon or B&N and see.

Tawny, I feel exactly the same way! Hahah! I'd be halfway thorugh and start including bodies and mysteries and love stories and SOMEBODY would end up HEA. Happens every time. Heehee

~Sia McKye~ said...

What an interesting journey your writing has taken, Ellen. I enjoyed reading about it.

I always loved Samantha Stevens, of Betwitched too. :-)

Anna Sugden said...

Sorry I'm late - I obviously need some of Ellen's charms to help me with organisation and creativity!

Anyway, welcome to the Lair, Ellen and thanks to Jeanne for hosting you!

I'm with you on Samantha in Bewitched. I loved that show! I'm another huge fan of Practical Magic (the movie - didn't like the book at all!)

I love 'witch' books because I like light woo-woo. I agree about Nora's different series - the Three Sisters trilogy is one of my absolute favourites, but I love the Donovans and the Key series.

I really enjoyed Annette Blair's Kitchen Witch and My Favourite Witch. And, despite a major mistake to do with autographs *g* (my area of 'expertise'), I liked Liz Ireland's Charmed, I'm Sure.

I've got Linda Wisdom's witch series on my TBR pile - when I finish my current wip!

Anna Sugden said...

Major sympathies on the dentisit's visit, Ellen - hubby has just come back from the dentist too (abcess - ick!). *shiver*!

Kathryn Anderson said...

Jeanne, thanks for arranging this fabulous interview. Ellen, I look forward to hearing you speak in April at the WRW retreat.

I enjoyed reading all the comments, but am surprised no one mentioned Willow from Buffy. She's probably my favorite recent witch character on TV. Of course, I loved Samantha (and little Tabitha, too) from those Bewitched episodes I watched as a child.

Cassondra said...

Hi Ellen! A huge and warm welcome to the Bandit lair!

I love your book Garden Witchery. It has a spot on my garden bookcase (and yes, it's an entire bookcase, not just a shelf). Looking forward to getting more of your books. fav movie witch is Sandra Bullock as Sally from Practical Magic . I love Samantha from Bewitched of course.

And okay....this is SO wrong....but I liked the Wicked queen from Snow White....but I have to qualify that one. I don't like what she DOES necessarily--the poison apple and ordering the death and all that--that's just nasty and is bound to reap horrible returns.
But I like her as a CHARACTER far more than Snow White because Snow White is entirely too perky and sweet. The Wicked Queen has FAR more personality and is way more interesting. (evil grin).

Okay I will now slink off into the corner and hide from the flying fruit because I like the Wicked Queen more than Snow White.

Jeanne, thanks so much for bringing Ellen to us!

Cassondra said...

Flchen, CONGRATS on the rooster!

He's been escaping you lately, hasn't he?

Cassondra said...

OOOOOOO, Wicked!

I just saw the play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. OMG, WHAT a production! I would have paid all that money just to hear those two women sing. It was AMAZING.

p226 said...

I don't recall ever reading a "witchy book." But thanks to you guys, I'm going to have an Eagles tune stuck in my head all day.

p226 said...

Just watch carefully to be sure he's actually GARDENING and not doing some manuvers P226 taught him...

Oh... uh... yeah. Tripwires would be really hard to see in a garden. Look for olive drab thin wires just above ankle height.

And you might want to run a metal or density detector anywhere he's been working. Or anywhere he's been and the soil's been disturbed.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Cassondra said: But I like her as a CHARACTER far more than Snow White because Snow White is entirely too perky and sweet. The Wicked Queen has FAR more personality and is way more interesting. (evil grin).

And now you know, Ellen, why Cassondra and I are Evil Twins seperated at birth. Snork. I feel the same way, Cassondra. Snow is just waaaaaay too cheerful. I love the parody of her in Shrek w/ the singing to the birds. Heeheeehee. Evil of me I know... But she's like some High School Cheerleader or aerobics instructor.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Cassondra said: I would have paid all that money just to hear those two women sing. It was AMAZING.

Oh, so true!! I didn't hear your two sing it, but OMGosh, to hear Idena Menzel sing it from the Broadway production? Heaven.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Sia! Great to have you stop in!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Anna! Hey Kathryn! Thanks for stopping by!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

P226 said: Oh... uh... yeah. Tripwires would be really hard to see in a garden. Look for olive drab thin wires just above ankle height.

See, see Fedora? I told you.

Tawny said...

Cassondra said: Okay I will now slink off into the corner and hide from the flying fruit because I like the Wicked Queen more than Snow White.

OMG ROFL. Hey, no fruit here. But did you ever see The Tenth Kingdom? What a fab take on the Wicked Queen and her backstory. I loved it *g*

Ellen Dugan said...

Favorite cartoony movie villian? how about Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping beauty she was such a bad-ass.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ellen said: Favorite cartoony movie villian? how about Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping beauty she was such a bad-ass.

Totally. And SUCH a great wardrobe too! Not to mention the ability to transform into a dragon. I could go there....

Kate Carlisle said...

Wow, fascinating and fantastic interview, Jeanne and Ellen!! Your books look wonderful. I love all the covers.

I agree with a lot of others who named Practical Magic their fave movie. I really loved it, maybe because of the midnight margarita scene ... or maybe it's because of Aiden Quinn ... :-)

I also love Nora's Donovans and the Three Sisters Island trilogy. And my new absolute favorite book featuring witches is Jennifer Lyon's BLOOD MAGIC. I think the sequel comes out next month. Can't wait!

Congrats, Fedora! You snatched the magic bird! ;-)

Cassondra said...

Tawny said:

OMG ROFL. Hey, no fruit here. But did you ever see The Tenth Kingdom? What a fab take on the Wicked Queen and her backstory. I loved it *g*

I have NOT seen the Tenth Kingdom. I will have to look this up.

I did find another Cinderella story yesterday on sale for $3 at the DVD store. It's a previously rented one or some such. (Ellen, you don't know this of course, but I've been on a quest for Cinderella stories. Not sure why, so I'm following my muse, and I've been seeking out all kinds of Cinderella take-offs, and have found some fun obscure foreign ones. I keep running into ones I have not seen.)

I'm hoping this one does not feature a sicky-sweet Cinderella. :0/

Minna said...

Ellen, could you borrow me some of those toads? I have to wait for 2 MONTHS until my dentist has the time to fill a gaping hole (the fillings fell off) in my tooth. I'm lucky it's not aching.

"Weird Al" Yankovic: Bad Hair Day - Cavity Search

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, what a party this is! Ellen, I'd say welcome to the lair, but clearly you've made yourself completely at home here! Lovely to see. Jeanne, what a fabulous interview. And how interesting to talk about something outside our usual range - not that I don't love our usual range, I do. In fact, I run around singing, "Blog, blog in the range..."

What a fascinating list of publications and experiences you've had. A couple of years ago, I inherited a garden and I'm still finding my feet with it. Strangely, I can grow roses too - my late mother loved them and they get most of the TLC in the place as they always make me think of her with love.

Ellen Dugan said...

Minna- toad are on the way...
I aim to please.
As to Cassondras Cinderella thing... thats cool. I always liked the darker old timey Cinderella stories- you know where they clap the wicked step-mother in the iron shoes and make her dance till she drops.... Also Im trying to remeber something I saw once about one of the "ugly" stepsisters who gets a prince of her own..
Thats gonna bug me till I figure it out.
BB, Ellen

Ellen Dugan said...

you probably have prime conditions good soil and light for those roses. Try tucking some herbs and perennials around your roses so they dont get lonesome in the garden. Coneflowers, lavender, tall garden phlox... that would be enchanting!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Kate! Yeah, another Three Sisters fan.

Cassondra, Cinderella stories? Hmmmm. Have you seen the one with Drew Barrymore? Or read the book Mercedes Lackey wrote for Luna? It's called Fairy Godmother. Very cool. You'll have to let us know if this obsession continues...heehee

Hi Anna! You would know from blogs, my dear. :> Did you just post you were going to change your name to Blogga Bloghat or some such? Grins.

Becke Davis said...

Wow, I've been away from my computer for awhile -- out of town, family reunion, spotty internet connection at hotel. What a fun surprise to see Ellen Dugan as your featured guest today! Ellen's books are gorgeous, and they totally fascinate me!

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Ellen, what a nice idea. I can already picture it. What do you recommend for a very shady area? Preferably low maintenance. I've got a rather sick looking garden bed that the council's grevilleas have completely overshadowed (there's a small public easement next to my place with landscaping). The problem is the council's grevilleas are gorgeous and attract the native birds so I'd rather a bad bed/nice trees but a nice bed/nice trees seems preferable.

Anna Campbell said...

Yes, Jeanne, today I am writing blogs. Well, that's the plan. So far, I haven't been able to tear myself away from the internet. So Blogga Blogbell is my new moniker.

Ellen Dugan said...

Shady low maitenence? Go for the hydrangeas I love those look at the oakleaf varieties too they have gorgeous fall foliage. Nikko blue, endless summer there are pink, purples, and creams and BLUE.
Also Id try hostas in various colors of greens and patterns- stripes, etc. there are fragrant varieties of hostas too. Coral Bells come in orange purple and lime green, and tuck in some impatiend for color in the spring summer months.
Happy Planting.
Oh I also have suggestions for a Shady Sorceress garden in my books. "Garden Witchery"- and even more shade garden suggestions in my "Garden Witch's Herbal".
Happy planting!

Nancy said...

Ellen, welcome! I admire your cultivation (no pun intended) of your gardening skills. The story of your first garden resonates with me. I'm not good for or with plants and have never fixed that, so the fact that you did impresses me.

I've always had herbals on hand for historical fiction, and these books sound very interesting.

Favorite witch movie? The Wizard of Oz, and I also like Practical Magic and enjoy Charmed on TV.

Nancy said...

Fedora, congrats on taking home the rooster!

Nancy said...

For witch novels, I like Patricia Rice's Magic series.

Jeanne, you an add me to the Patricia Wrede list. The ones Limecello mentioned are great YAs.

Nancy said...

Ellen wrote: Favorite cartoony movie villian? how about Maleficent from Disney's Sleeping beauty she was such a bad-ass.

A friend of mine has the sig line on her email set at "Maleficent was misunderstood." :-)

And I like Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan, speaking of book witches as I was a bit ago.

And Raine from Robin McKinley's Sunshine.

Ellen Dugan said...

Here is one of my favorite snarky witch sayings...."Things just haven't been the same since they dropped that house on my sister..."

Another saying thats very popular with my sister-witches in my Coven "There is no problem that sisters cannot confront, combat, plot against, ignore, make fun of, drown in choclate sauce or run over with the car..."
BB, Ellen

Laurie said...

I'm with the commenters that like NR's Three Sisters Island Trilogy, and Practical Magic. I think my favorite TV show was Charmed in the first couple of seasons. I loved Bewitched too.

I'm starting a workshop on Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author tomorrow and am looking forward to the class. I need to know where the line is in my world building and to give the books some kind of reality.

Wonderful interview Ellen and Jeanne! I love the rhythms of the earth and nature, and want to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing!

Tawny said...

Also Im trying to remeber something I saw once about one of the "ugly" stepsisters who gets a prince of her own..
Thats gonna bug me till I figure it out.

Disney's Cinderella II: Dreams Come True :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, Ellen! I'll give them a go. Still loving the thought of fragrant roses in a bed of fragrant lavender!

p226 said...

Shady low maitenence?..

For a minute there, I thought you were going to describe a woman.


Low maintenance...

You had my attention.

ddurance said...

The Harry Potter books are fabulous and Christine Feehan did a great job with her Drake sisters books. As far as favorite movie/tv witches, I love the Charmed ones and The Craft is a favorite movie.


Ellen Dugan said...

Laurie- Id Be interested to know who is teaching that class and what their credentials are...
it sounds intersting and I hope you get good and factual information. If you have any questions drop me an emial later.
BB, Ellen

Ellen Dugan said...

You had a question about familiars?
In my book "The Enchanted Cat" I address this question. Basically a "familiar" is a pet that shares a psychic connection with a Witch. The Witch and the pet work togteher like psychic partners of a sort.

However you can't force a pet to become your familiar...
They either are or they are not. Over the years, out of all of the cats I have owned- My first old orange tabby was my familiar. She was the mosdt intersted in magick and my spellcasting.

The rest of the cats we have owned down to our current goofy calico "Brie" have been loving and magickal in some way... but they were not all familiars.
Hope that helps!
BB, Ellen

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Ellen! What a fun interview with you and Jeanne! I've been fascinated with witchcraft and wicca for some time. I have several books about them. Fascinating reading! I particularly liked your explanation of the difference between a witch and a wiccan. And your garden pictures....gorgeous!

We have so many deer that come through our yard, not all of my plants survive their grazing. Grrr. Our hydrangeas WERE beautiful, but the deer find them quite tasty. I have an abundance of lavender--I guess the deer don't care for it. *g*

Favorite TV witch: Samantha Stevens, of course. When I was little, I wished I could wiggle my nose and make things happen. It would still come in handy. LOL

I also watched Charmed for the first few years. For movies, add me to the fans of Practical Magic.

I also love Nora's take on witches--all of her books are on my keeper shelves. As is Jill Barnett's Bewitching. I love that book. Always makes me laugh.

catslady said...

Annette Blair's - My Favorite Witch was the last witchy book that I enjoyed :) And I grew up with Samantha! It's a fascinating subject and I think all things are possible!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: Jeanne, you an add me to the Patricia Wrede list. The ones Limecello mentioned are great YAs.

Should'a known! Ellen, Nancy is my other Evil Twin, esp. when it comes to sci-fi-fantasy stuff. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ellen wrote: Another saying thats very popular with my sister-witches in my Coven "There is no problem that sisters cannot confront, combat, plot against, ignore, make fun of, drown in choclate sauce or run over with the car..."

OMGOSH!!! Spewing Diet Coke! Hahahahah!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

P226 said: For a minute there, I thought you were going to describe a woman.
Low maintenance...
You had my attention.

SNORK!!! P226, you crack me up.

Ellen Dugan said...

I have truly enjoyed blogging with you all today. I'm as Jeanne says "Cooked". If you have any other witchy questions please drop me an emial at
Or Visit my website at and please stop by my cafe press Store- at

Also post your Q's here and I'll check them tomorrow.
Blessed be and happy Autumn!
Ellen Dugan

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

It was great to have you with us today, Ellen! I know that with that dry socket thing you're worn out. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Everyone, do go ahead and leave questions here and check back tomorrow if you want too. Ellens' one of those dastardly early risers, so she'll be up at the crack o' dawn to answer anything else that gets posted. :>

In the meantime, we'll continue to discuss good Witchy Books and Movies! :>

Liza said...

What a fantastic post, gorgeous books by Ellen Dugan, I shall have to hunt them down! Who knew there was romance for Wiccans! Thank you for directing me here Jeanne, great blog, time for some romance for me I think!

Brightest Blessings,


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Liza! Thanks for stopping by. There's allllllll kinds of romance 'round this place. And Ellen's books are helping - me, at least - to write it! Ha!

So who's your fav TV and Movie Witch?

Pat Cochran said...

I agree with Ellen, TV show witch-
wise that is! I loved Samantha,
Endora, & all the visiting witches.
My favorite, though, was Tabitha!
She was so cute!!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Ellen, you've been a fantastic guest. Come back and see us again!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pat, Bewitched seems to have hit the top of the Favorites List!

Endora was always my fav. She was so openly sly and trying to subvert Darren and Tabitha. Heehee. Beside, I loved the actress who played her.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hasn't this been fun, Anna!?

Amy said...

Blogger Laurie said...

I'm starting a workshop on Witchcraft for the Paranormal Author tomorrow and am looking forward to the class. I need to know where the line is in my world building and to give the books some kind of reality.

Laurie, is that the class being offered by Deborah Blake?

October 2009 — The Real Witch: Witchcraft Basics for the Paranormal Author
Presented by Deborah Blake
Dates: October 6-29
Deadline: October 4

Laurie said...

Amy said: Laurie, is that the class being offered by Deborah Blake?

Yes, Amy, that's the one. :)

Amy said...

Amy said: Laurie, is that the class being offered by Deborah Blake?

Yes, Amy, that's the one. :)

Laurie, can you message me at my blog? I'd be interested to hear how it's going. I missed the deadline to register.