Category Archives: Business

State of the Lupa Address

It’s been over a year since I wrote a brand new blog post with anything other than a bit of promotion. Truth be told, I needed a break. I started my first blog in 2007, I think? Earlier if you count Livejournal as a blog. For a few years I even had multiple blogs going at once, and that just got exhausting.

But it gave me time to work on other things. As you may remember, four years ago I moved my art studio out to the coast to a farm owned by a friend of mine. I gradually moved my entire life out here, and I’m now a full-time resident. I’m still self-employed, with my art and writing joined by a small contract doing a bit of environmental education locally, and selling eggs from my chickens.

Yes, I have chickens! Twenty of them! And a tank of guppies and platies, and a dog. And there are other animals I get to take care of here, too, so that keeps me pretty busy. I also spend what little bits of free time I have outside, whether I’m hiking, taking the dog for a walk, or fussing around on iNaturalist.

Like so many other people, my life has been shaken down to the core the past few weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic. Because I already live a pretty isolated life (but not in a bad way) I’m at fairly low risk of contracting the disease, though I’m still careful. However, all of my streams of income have either been severely cut or evaporated entirely within the past month, which has meant I’ve had to adapt quickly. It’s going to be a lean year for sure.

On the one hand, there’s the stress of not knowing what my future will hold (no matter how good I am at divination!) On the other, the shifting around of responsibilities and priorities, and so many things now being put on hold, has left me the opportunity to move some projects up the to-do list. For instance, I have a few books that are either out of print or just about to be that I’m moving over into my self-publishing efforts; hopefully the first of those will be available later this week (and yes, I will post here.) This involves doing an entirely new interior layout and cover for each manuscript, plus whatever minor edits are needed. I don’t like to rewrite my older works entirely, partly because the information is still good, and partly because I’m in a very different place in my life now.

But that also means I have room to write new books, too! I mean, I have other things going on right now, but I’m making time to work on a manuscript that I actually started a couple of years ago, and then had to back-burner due to life happening (and needing to get Vulture Culture 101 out the door.) The working title is Coyote’s Journey: Deeper Work With the Major Arcana, and while it will be based on the animals of the Majors of the Tarot of Bones, it will be useful for anyone studying Tarot in depth regardless of what decks they use. Each chapter will explore some of the messages and concepts associated with each card in detail, followed by exercises and meditation ideas, all written within the story of Coyote (the Fool) going to meet each of the animals associated with the other cards.

I have no idea what the timeline is for publication. A lot depends on how well I’m able to keep paying the bills on an even thinner shoestring over the next several months, and what other side gigs I manage to scrape up to keep things afloat here. But for now, once I get my OOP/almost OOP titles squared away I intend to put a lot more focus on Coyote’s Journey, and hopefully do a little blogging on the side, too.

On that note, I’d just like to remind you dear readers that art and books are still the backbone of my income, and while I have always appreciated every single sale (seriously, I still sometimes squee when I get notification of a sale in my inbox), they matter even more now. If you’d like to help support my work, here’s how:

You can find my books on my website here!

You can find my artwork on Etsy here and some non-Etsy artwork on Storenvy here! I’m still making plenty of hide and bone ritual tools and other art, but I’m also customizing Breyer model horses, too.

You can be my Patron and get art, books, and sneak peeks every month here!

Or you can just tip me on my Ko-Fi account here!

Many thanks, and it’s nice to be back. Be well, and I’ll check back in soon.

How I Store More Art Supplies Than I Know What to Do With

So I had a special request from one of my Patrons over on Patreon. They wanted to get some advice on storing art supplies, which sounds simpler than it actually is. See, if you’re an artist, you probably have a tendency to buy way more supplies than you actually need in the moment, often spurred on by creative impulses that say “Hey, look at this neat thing–you could TOTALLY make something out of it!” Which is how, over the years, I have ended up with everything from a vintage floorstanding radio to a full-sized taxidermy hyena to way more tchotchke shelves than anyone has any business owning.

Having been a hide and bone artist for two decades has at least given me the opportunity to figure out how to best store lots of big, bulky supplies like fur coats and antlers. Now, I am not one of those people who has an entire basement floor to work with, with walls full of shelves holding a hundred identical plastic tubs, each neatly labeled in legible handwriting. You won’t see my studio in a magazine extolling “Twenty Enviable Artists’ Spaces.” But I’ve made do with a whole bunch of living situations for me and my stuff.

Not everything may fit perfectly, and that’s okay. As long as you can keep everything within a certain set of boundaries without stuff falling over regularly, you’re good to go.

The first thing you need to think about when stashing your art supplies is the space you have to work with. My living quarters have ranged from a single bedroom to a spacious two bedroom apartment. Storage has been everything from tiny closets to the laundry room. These days my current studio includes not only part of a house but a loft in a barn for storage as well. (I am incredibly spoiled, believe you me.)

You’re going to have to be realistic about the space available to you, especially if you live with other people. It’s tempting to just let it all hang out, so to speak, but that’s not really fair to anyone besides you in your creative moments. So assess what space you can reasonably have for your supplies. It’s best to focus on out of the way spots like closets, shelves, and back rooms that don’t get that much traffic. This isn’t just to keep things out of the way, but also because these spaces are good for keeping things more or less contained.

Next, you need things to keep things in. I am a big fan of plastic bins and milk crates. They’re boxy, easy to stack and easy to move around, and are often abundant in thrift stores. I mean, if you really need all your bins to match you can go to any general-stuff store and pick up a bunch of the same type, but I have poached mine from all sorts of sources, even free piles on the side of the road after someone has moved. They’re mismatched, but they work pretty well.

Soft, squishy things lend themselves well to being stuffed in bins, like the ones in the picture at the beginning of this post. Most of mine are full of fur and leather scraps of varying sizes and sorts. I also have a few that are full of assorted smaller odds and ends, like shells and feathers and so forth. Keep in mind that the bigger the bin the more stuff you can fit, but the more you also have to sort through to find that one tiny thing that inevitably has fallen to the very bottom. You can also put hard, awkward things like antlers and bones in bins, though you may have to play a little Tetris to get them to fit right.

This part of my studio is a work in progress. These are bins that either haven’t made it into the barn yet, are full of really fragile art, or have things I need often enough that they need to stay at the house. Note also the stacks of milk crates.

Crates work well for smaller hard, awkward things. However, my favorite use for them is as storage for stacks of jewelry organizing boxes. These are those shallow tray-like boxes with little dividers in them that are perfect for beads, fishing lures, hardware, and other teeny little easily-lost items. One milk crate will typically hold a stack of five, and then you can stuff some baggies of other stuff in along the side. Make sure that you don’t put things in above the top edge, or else they won’t stack properly. I use the very top crate in a stack for stuff that won’t fit neatly and might stick out the top. I don’t like to stack more than four crates up as they can get tipsy otherwise. (Plus it’s a pain having to unstack and restack them every time you want something from the bottom crate–which is a great reason to put the things you use the most in a crate higher up the stack.)

Not everything is perfectly neat, of course. I also have a shelving unit full of oddly-shaped cardboard boxes, and stacks of more boxes, and bags of packing materials, and so forth. But I make everything more or less fit, and since a lot of that stuff is either packing materials or destashed art supplies just waiting for someone to buy them, most of what’s there is temporary. (Don’t feel bad if you can’t make everything you have fit into neat boxes, so long as you can keep it basically contained.)

I also am fortunate enough to have a decent work bench. I have some small benchtop shelves for things I use a fair amount like adhesives and tools. The rest of the bench….well…the condition of that depends on how busy I’ve been. But having a flat surface that is reserved for my work helps keep it somewhat contained. If you can have a table that isn’t shared with other things (like, you know, meals) make the best use of it you can. Otherwise, put your stuff away as soon as you’re done working so that you stay in the habit of keeping things neat.

One more thing: it’s really important to reorganize and declutter on a regular basis; you can either sell or donate whatever you cull. If you watch the supplies section of my Etsy shop, you’ll notice that I destash stuff several times a year. That’s just the stuff that I think my customer base may be interested in. I donate even more than that every year to SCRAP, a Portland-based nonprofit that resells art supplies and uses the money in art education and other community projects. Not only does this help me make space for more art supplies (or, you know, things that aren’t art supplies) but it also lets me revisit what I already have in hand. One of my biggest challenges when sorting is not getting distracted by “Ooooh, a shiny thing…let me just stop a minute and start making it into something.” Usually the workbench ends up with a pile of projects-to-be by the time I’m done sorting and reorganizing.

Of course, this is just the art supplies. My personal animal skull collection, on the other hand, isn’t so neatly contained. But that’s another post someday…

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When You Steal a Book From an Author

So yet another admin of a Facebook group has decided that copyright doesn’t apply to them; a particular group has over 2000 pdfs of pagan books, including a LOT that are still under copyright. I mean, for pity’s sake, some of them even have “no-drm” in the file name, denoting that someone originally knew that book had digital rights management software attached to it, which means DON’T STEAL IT. My publisher for my books that are affects is already dealing with the DMCA takedowns, so I am here being unhappy that in 2017 this sort of thing is still happening.

Let me tell you something: when I write a book, I put literally hundreds of hours of my time into writing, editing and research, and that’s before the manuscript even goes to the publisher. If I’m self-publishing, I put in even more time with re-editing, proofreading, layout and interior design, book cover layout and design, file preparation, marketing and promotion and, of course, direct sales. The Tarot of Bones deck and book? Easily has a four-digit number of hours attached to it, and still counting since I am the sole distributor and marketer for it.

And unless I’m fortunate enough to get an advance from a publisher or have a successful crowdfunding campaign for a self-published project, I’m doing all this up-front work unpaid. Once I do get paid, tallying up the royalties and the income against the expenses? I’m not even making minimum wage. We authors have to play the long game, hoping that our books stay in print long enough to keep selling enough copies to maybe break even. I don’t know of a single pagan author who makes a living solely on book sales. Everyone has either a side hustle or a day job–or both.

Just because you legitimately bought a copy of the book doesn’t entitle you to ignore copyright. People who pirate have this idea that sharing ebooks is exactly the same as loaning a hardcopy version to a friend, or making photocopies of a few pages and giving them to a handful of students. Wake-up call, chum: sharing ebooks is not the same as passing a paperback around your coven. It can take months for that one paperback to work its way around thirteen people (longer if one of them “just needs a little more time, honestly!”) An ebook posted in a Facebook group, on the other hand, is going to hundreds, if not thousands, of people who can access it instantly.

It’s also not the same as getting a book from a library. Your average library book is only going to get checked out a dozen or so times a year, maybe a little more or less. Again, this is nowhere near the same as sending the PDF to thousands of people at once. Nor is that PDF the same as someone buying a secondhand copy at a thrift store; again, it can only go so far, so quickly. Sure, maybe a few of those people who read the pirated PDF might buy a new copy of the book, but the vast majority won’t. I’ve had my books pirated before, and if those people were all buying paperbacks from me I’d have a hell of a lot more money.

If I wanted people to be able to have access to a work that I put hundreds of hours of effort into free of charge, I would have released it into the wild myself, not chosen to enter it into an arrangement where I get an agreed-upon amount of compensation for it. So when some entitled individual decides that they have the right to ignore copyright and post entire PDFs online without my and/or the publisher’s permission, you know what that person is saying?

They’re saying that copyright doesn’t apply to them. They’re saying they are above the law. Sorry, but there is no way to legally justify sharing the ENTIRE book without permission. Fair use applies to a few hundred words, that’s it. “Educational use” is only within certain educational establishments, and again is piece and part, not the whole damned thing. Sharing a bunch of PDFs to random strangers on Facebook? Sorry, your educational defense doesn’t work.

They’re saying that I don’t deserve to decide how I will disseminate the book that I put hundreds of hours of work into. They’re saying “Fuck you, I don’t care what you want, and I don’t care how much work you put into this, because what I want is more important.” They ignore my choice to go through a publisher or to self-publish or to otherwise decide how to share what I’ve created.

They’re saying they don’t think my work is worth what I say it’s worth. When you give away an ebook of my work for free to thousands of people without permission, you are ignoring the price that I or my publisher put on that work. Again, few people who read the free version will actually buy the book after because they’re already got what they want, and all of that is lost potential customers. Which also means…

They’re saying that they don’t care whether I can afford to keep writing or not. As I said, I don’t make that much money off my books, certainly not enough to pay all my bills. A good month is one in which sales might pay one or two bills, or buy me some groceries. I have to do a lot of other things to make sure I can stay afloat. And at this level, the loss in revenue from lost book sales due to pirating hurts. Any pagan business owner, whether author or artist or shop owner, can tell you that the margin between paying the bills and not is pretty damned slim, so whether it’s piracy or shoplifting, theft makes it harder to get through each month.

They’re saying they’re entitled to my work. If you don’t respect my ability to be compensated for my work, but you think you should have access to it no matter what, you’re being entitled as all fuck. You wouldn’t expect your mechanic or your accountant or yourself to work free of charge. But somehow authors and other creatives are expected to create for free, and when we complain about theft we’re told we’re the ones in the wrong.

The sad thing is, there are people who will still feel that they have every justification for pirating books, whether pagan or otherwise. They’ll come up with excuses as to why they should be the exception. And they’ll keep wallowing in their ignorance and entitlement.

So as a way to counter that just a little, here’s my little bread and butter speech:

Consider supporting this self-employed author and artist by buying my books, or checking out my Etsy shop, or purchasing the Tarot of Bones! You can also get exclusive content, art in the mail, and more by being my Patron on Patreon! Thank you 🙂

A Thank You To Everyone

It’s been an incredibly busy few months here at the Green Wolf! Since April, I’ve moved my studio to the Washington coast, been to two Midwest festivals that required me to be away from the studio for a week or more, and tried to adjust to bouncing between two separate homes (Portland, OR and Long Beach, WA) while maintaining a foothold in each. Along the way I’ve made new friends and business contacts, fallen in love with new lands and spoken with their spirits, and discovered strength I didn’t know I had that can balance out my all-too-human challenges.

Thank you to those who have supported my work along the way, whether that was boosting the second Tarot of Bones IndieGoGo campaign, coming to Still Death sessions in Portland, buying art and books online or at venues, coming to my workshops at events and elsewhere, supporting me on Patreon, and otherwise making sure I could keep the lights on in my homes. I know I’ve sometimes been a bit tough to get in contact with because of the busy-ness (and occasional internet blackouts thanks to poor cell signal.) Know that I will always try my best to get caught up once I’m back to a more settled location, and I intend to keep working hard to create awesome things and get them out to y’all.

So what’s on tap next? Well, after a long weekend of vending and doing a serious overhaul to the Portland apartment, I am back in the studio getting caught up on sending out orders and finishing Patreon goodies for the month. I’ll be announcing the next few months of Still Death sessions soon, and getting the ball rolling on Curious Gallery 2017. I should have the layout for the Tarot of Bones companion book done soon and can send the file in to create a test copy (no, the book won’t be released til the deck is later this summer.) And, of course, artwork. Lots and lots of artwork!

With great appreciation,


…I Think I Just Leveled Up.

So for months I’ve been alluding to a Big Secret that I’ve been keeping. Now, I hate keeping secrets, at least the sort that I know I can eventually reveal. I’m impatient and it takes me oodles of willpower to not just blab the news everywhere until the time is right. But right now? I get to tell one of those secrets.

I would like to officially announce that Jaida Temperly of New Leaf Literary has formally offered to be my agent, and I have not only accepted but signed the contract to boot! Yes, the agency website still has her listed as “literary assistant”, but she recently became a full-fledged literary agent for New Leaf after three years of building up a ton of experience there. I think we’re going to be a great team. We’ve had some really productive conversations via email and phone, even when I was asking eleventy billion questions, and I feel confident that she’s going to be bringing both expertise and enthusiasm to her representation of my work.

Of course, that brings us to another Big Secret: I can’t yet tell you what we’re working on together, other than it is not the Tarot of Bones, which is still my baby to self-publish. I know, I know–you want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, I want to tell you! But it’s another one of those things that needs to wait til the timing is right.

Still, I am absolutely thrilled about this opportunity. I’ve worked pretty hard over the years to get my writing out there, first at Immanion Press, and then at Llewellyn, and with some self-publishing side quests along the way. Now in addition to my current publishing partnerships there’s the potential for even more great possible avenues for my work, and let me tell you–I have ideas. And now I have someone who can help me get even more of those ideas out into the world.

…did I mention I’m kind of psyched about this whole thing?

So, Lupa, How Was the Mall?

So I spent October 5-11 selling my art in a pop-up shop at the Westfield Mall in Vancouver, WA.

Yes, you heard that right. I sold my art made of hides and bones and my books about nature spirituality in a mall. So how did it go? Read on.

First of all, the Westfield Vancouver isn’t your usual mall. Instead of a bookstore they have a branch of the county library. They have a ton of activities for kids, rather than just a couple sad coin-operated cars monitored by a bored-looking teenager. And they actively recruit artists to sell their work for limited periods of time in their foyers and kiosks. The coordinator of this particular program headhunted me at a local art event I was vending at, said she loved my work and wanted to invite me to try the mall for a week. A bit incongruous, to be sure, but after months of festivals and faires, I was up for a bit of a venue change.

I do have to say the vending staff are some of the nicest people I’ve met, easy to work with, quick to respond to correspondence, and they were even willing to work directly with my insurance agent to make sure I had the correct level of coverage, since they asked for a couple of changes not on my usual business policy. I got a full tour of the mall, to include a good look at the in-house set dressing they have (including all those tables and the hat tree in the pictures of my booth). So I was pretty positive when I got done with all the paperwork.

deerplanter2Setup on Sunday night was easier than I had feared. I was setting up solo since my usual help was occupied that weekend. And the booth was near one of only two doors that stay unlocked after the mall closes but before the theater is done for the night (there’s 24 hour security). So I didn’t have too far to haul things, and since I wasn’t using gridwall there was less crap to schlep back and forth from the car. (No, seriously–we have a LOT of gridwall and accessories in our usual setup.)

Since I was working with less space than my usual grid-lined 10 x 10 booth, I had to be selective in what I brought with me. I tailored my stock away from the more overtly unusual things like headdresses, and emphasized jewelry and assemblage art more. This worked pretty well; people did tend to give more attention to the less furry, more shiny things. Well, okay, let me clarify: they looked at the more fur and bone creations with curiosity or “Oooooh, how weirrrrrrd!” responses, but sales tended to be mostly tamer things.

The retail week pattern was pretty typical–slow during the week, picking up more toward the weekend, and Saturday being by far the best day sales-wise. As is usual, a lot of people simply stopped by to take a look; I went through a lot of business cards, especially as some folks wouldn’t get paid til after my week was up. It was a pretty low income to investment ratio compared to my usual venues, but at least I had fun and pretty much paid my expenses for the week.

I am always a little nervous vending in a more mainstream venue. I’m more likely to run into people screaming at me about “Poor dead animals!” or fundamentalist Christians taking issue with my books on that evil, evil paganism than at my usual round of alt events. Surprisingly, I only got two of the former (and they did less screaming and more running away), and none of the latter.

Regardless of venue, we tend to get repeats of the same jokes that stopped being funny after the first time. I am pleased to say that during the entire week only twice did someone look at the various fox tails and such in the booth and say “What does the fox say?” which means only twice did I have to give my stock response “The price goes up five bucks every time we hear ‘ding’.” (If we enforced that literally someone sang the entire song once while looking at my art, I could ostensibly add $75 to their bill. Maybe it’d be worth it after all….)

Shoplifting is a reality in any large group setting. People were pretty well-behaved with few exceptions. However, I’m seriously irked that someone ran off with one of my tapestries that I use to cover the tables. They took one I’ve had for over a decade! Grrrrrr.

bobcat1So would I recommend this to other artists? Yes–with conditions. If you make more niche/nerdy work, like my hide and bone art, I’d recommend passing this by, since this really isn’t a crowd for more unusual wares, even with the existence of Hot Topic and Spencers in the same mall. A lot of my business came from existing customers who came by specifically to see me and my work. Also, if your work tends toward canvases and other fine art, it may be a tough crowd for you. However, if you have something more crafty and mainstream-friendly, like clothing, jewelry, candles, knitted scarves and the like, give it a shot!

I couldn’t find any online brochures for the program, and I am not comfortable giving staff email addresses out on a public forum, so if you’d like me to help you get in touch, just email me at lupa.greenwolf(at) – I’ll let them discuss pricing and other details with you since I don’t know if the numbers are the same as when I arranged my time slot earlier this year.

Why Self-Employment Is Like the World’s Longest Job Interview

One of the biggest challenges my fellow creatives have to face is self-promotion. A lot of people who excel at creating art, music, writing, performance and so forth, who can express themselves beautifully through their chosen media, freeze up like the proverbial deer when it comes to promoting what they do. Sometimes it’s an acute case of introversion, something I had to work hard to overcome. And it’s no secret that there’s a high correlation between creativity and low self-esteem and/or excessive self-criticism. Plus when it comes down to it, most of us would rather be making cool stuff than telling people about it; we like to show, not tell.

However, if your art is going to end up being anything more than a hobby–and it’s okay if it stays that way–you have to be good at getting the word out and talking up your creations. Or, to put it in more blatant terms: you have to be able to sell yourself. (Cue dramatic scary music.) This, of course, bothers a lot of people. We’re taught not to brag, and that anyone who stands out will end up getting knocked off their pedestal soon enough. And, sadly, many of us have had people in our lives telling us that we were worthless, or that our art wouldn’t go anywhere. Years of that can really do a number on your confidence.

Even among creatives, there’s this narrative that if you promote yourself and your work you’re narcissistic, selfish and only in it for the money. I tend to think that’s rather a sour grapes sort of attitude, but it’s also symptomatic of that ongoing tendency toward self-devaluation, in this case projected outwardly onto more active promoters.

But you know who else has to be self-centered and all about the money? Job candidates. Nobody complains about them talking about themselves, or negotiating a higher pay rate. Hell, those things are encouraged and praised! They’re signs of a real go-getter that you should totally hire for your company! It’s just another way in which self-employed people, especially creatives, are held to unfair standards in this society.

What if you thought of yourself as being a job candidate every time you promoted a new show you were doing, or a new piece of artwork, or story or book or article? You’re putting your best foot forward, fancy outfit and all. Okay, maybe in some cases the outfit is actually a book cover, but you get the idea: first impressions are important. And you have a limited amount of time in which to engage your potential employer, convince them of your skills and qualifications, and keep your fingers crossed that you get hired. “Being hired” may mean selling a concert ticket or a book or a print, but it still comes down to someone considering what you have to offer of sufficient value for them to compensate you for it.

Really, the main difference is in scale and timing. In a day job, you interview with one or more people at a single company, and if they accept, then you either sign on for a contracted time, or you stick around until either they get sick of you or you get sick of them. Either way, a successful interview means you get to stop interviewing for a while. With self-employment, every day has interviews, and that will always be a permanent part of my work. My day is full of them–with potential art customers, potential publishing allies, potential event venues, potential reviewers, even potential artistic patrons. On the bright side, I can get a lot of these interviews done in one fell swoop. My blog post earlier today about preorders being available for my newest book reached lots of blog subscribers, and will continue to catch the attention of people who come across my blog. The only further communication necessary is if someone either contacts me with specific questions, or make my day and buys the book.

And you know what? Interviews are just a normal part of my job–and yours, too. It doesn’t mean you’re a narcissist, even if you *gasp* enjoy the promotional end of things. Nor does it make you a money-grubbing sell-out; as detailed here, it’s totally okay to want to have a roof over your head so your art supplies and computer don’t get wet in the rain.

If you still have misgivings about that whole promotion thing, that’s okay. But you can at least lay to rest the worries that putting yourself out there somehow makes you less moral than someone with a day job.