Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day! May Day! or, Happy Beltane 2010!

A few days ago, the author Peter Joseph Swanson interviewed me, Erin O'Riordan, about my erotic romance novel Beltane (Eternal Press, 2008). The original interview appeared HERE.
PJS: How does your story use the May 1st holiday of Beltane?

Erin: It’s the ancient Pagan holiday as it might be celebrated in modern times. The central family in the story, the Kitatani-Van Zandt clan, is a modern Pagan family. They have a big, semi-public party four times a year, at Lughnasadh, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and Beltane. They have a maypole, a feast with venison roasted on an open spit, and some other traditional May Day activities you’ll have to read the book to find out about.

PJS: Who are your main characters?

Erin: Allie and Zen, the Van Zandt twins, are good girls. Allie maybe tries a little harder than Zen to make the right choices, but in the end even Zen’s choices work out for the greater good.

Allie works for an environmentally-friendly architecture firm. As we meet her, she’s getting married to a young lawyer. Zen owns an occult shop and tells fortunes for a living.

PJS: What unexpected thing did you come across in the process of writing a novel based on history?

Erin: I’m still finding out more and more about how people celebrate Beltane now and have celebrated it in the past. Maybe the most surprising thing I’ve come across is that in some parts of Ireland, St. Patrick has been worshiped much like the Pagan horned god of Beltane, who is killed at harvest time and comes back from the dead every year. His Goddess is the Irish mother-goddess Brigid, Christianized as St. Bridget. St. Bridget’s Church in Kildare, Ireland, still has the medieval-era fire pit where Brigid’s priestesses used to worship.

PJS: How has writing about the past enriched how you live today?

Erin: It makes all of my holiday rituals more meaningful, since I understand how they really connect to the changing wheel of the year. The modern, commercialized versions of our holidays can sometimes be very shallow. Looking back at our ancestors’ tribal observances lends these holidays some depth and immediacy.

PJS: Do you have any writing rituals?

Erin: Before I can sit down to write for the morning, I have to get two specific chores (washing the dishes and balancing my checkbook for the day) done. I usually do my workout before I write, too. Then I sit down at the dining room table with my coffee and my laptop and get to work.

PJS: What else have you done in the “world of writing” outside of this novel?

Erin: I’ve written more than 50 published short stories and articles. I write for websites like Clean Sheets, The Erotic Woman, Oysters and Chocolate, and Lucrezia Magazine. I’m a regular contributor to the online journal SexIs.

I’ve been in a few print magazines, too, most notably Playgirl. In March I wrote an article called “The Forgotten Irish Saints” for Irish News & Entertainment…so it’s not all erotica all the time. I’m versatile. I write a column about writing for every issue of Poetic Monthly magazine. (June’s column will be about Selene Skye, whose Crow Woman and Mudgirl I reviewed on Gather. This article will be an expansion of that post.)

PJS: Why is Beltane, as a traditional holiday to celebrate, underrated in the modern world?

Erin: Probably because we’re so squeamish about our sexuality. We think it ought to be a hidden thing. Privacy has its place, to be certain, but there’s something life-affirming about the public celebration of the world’s fertility, the fertility of the crops, of the animals, and of us human animals too. As soon as we as a species urbanized and moved away from farming to sustain ourselves, we’ve sort of forgotten our place in the natural world. Beltane helps us get in touch with that lost side of ourselves.

Peter Joseph Swanson is the author of the Tinseltown Trilogy: Hollywood Sinners, The Joan Crawford Murders, and Bad Movies. His latest book is the Arthurian Merlin's Charge.

DON'T FORGET! Sandra Lopez will be here at Pagan Spirits on May 3rd; stop by and leave her a comment or ask her a question!

This is an affiliate link:

The Wheel of The Year. . by Maureen Murrish. $5.99 from
The Wheel of the Year is a beginner's guide to celebrating the eight traditional pagan festivals of the the year.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sandra Lopez 'Beyond the Garden' Virtual Book Tour and Contest

Dulce Bread & Book Shop
Brewing your sabor for sweet bread and books of color.
Tel. 512.633.4327

Beyond the Gardens
By Sandra C. Lopez
Price: $19.50
ISBN-13: 9781432746988
Published: Outskirts Press

This is the Virtual Book Tour for Beyond the Gardens by Sandra Lopez. One reader who leaves a comment on each of these blogs will be randomly selected to win a copy of Beyond the Gardens!

Monday April 26 Bonnie S. Mata Author of Faith blog

Tuesday April 27 Mayra Calvani Latino Books Examiner

Wednesday April 28 Christina Rodriguez Christina Rodriguez, Children's Books Illustrator website

Thursday April 29 Lori Calabrese Lori Calabrese's children's books blog

Friday April 30 Mary Jo Writers Inspired

Monday May 3 Sandra will be here at Pagan Spirits

Tuesday May 4 Joylene Nowell Butler One Moment at a Time on Cluculz Lake

Wednesday May 5 Terri Lee-Johnson BrownGirl Speaks

Thursday May 6 Romina Tybitt Mama XXI

Friday May 7 Leslie Toledo That Chick That Reads

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Excerpt from 'Beltane' from Eternal Press

Allie took Melissa’s hand and went with her. They sat on the ground, a little too close to the fire for Allie’s comfort. Sweat dripped off her body as she watched Zen swaying along with the other women, dancing around the maypole in time to the music of a circle of drummers. Melissa sat close by Allie, narrating the dance for her.

“The Goddess draws near to her lover,” Melissa said. Her voice sounded far-off,
dreamy. Allie watched the pink and red ribbons intertwine around the top of the pole.
“She lets him inside her, just a bit, to tease the head of his cock with the lips of herpussy.” Zen and the other women twisted and spun, moving their hips suggestively.
Ribbon covered more and more of the maypole.

Allie saw the men on the other side of the maypole. Orlando stood among them,
watching Zen dance.

“The Goddess drives the Horned One deeper inside her,” Melissa continued. “He
reels from the touch of the smooth walls of the Great Mother’s pussy. The beautiful
Goddess holds her hips still, holding her breath, content to feel the solid length of her Consort inside her.” The dance concluded amidst loud cheers from the crowd. The ribbons covered the pole. “He’s inside of her up to the hilt now. Their union is
complete, and now their mating can begin.”

Allie sat there for a moment, taking in Melissa’s words. The words, the dance, the
meat in her belly, and the wine were all having their effect on her. She was alert, but drowsy, content, and more than a little aroused. She wondered where her May King
was. All around her, she saw nothing but women.

Before she knew what was going on, the women held Allie by the hands, taking her
away. They lifted her onto a picnic table. She was aware of them unbuttoning her dress and helping her out of her bra and panties. She was naked, but she wasn’t embarrassed. They left the black lace-up sandals on her feet.

Kameko now came toward her, carrying a silver bowl that Allie recognized. It was
filled with dark blood, the blood of the deer they had eaten. The women dipped their
fingers in the blood and touched it to Allie’s skin. It was cold from being in the
refrigerator, the coolness felt good against her sweaty skin. The blood had a slightly musty, earthy smell. Any other time, it would have made Allie sick. But tonight, she understood the blood had its purpose. The women used it as paint, drawing sacred spirals on Allie’s face and around her breasts. Allie’s nipples hardened in response. They painted designs on her belly and thighs as well. Lastly, they placed the crown of oak leaves on her head, fixing it in place with hair pins.
When they had finished, they helped her off the table. The women clapped and cheered for their Queen.

“Go out into the wheat field,” Melissa whispered in Allie’s ear. “You’ll meet your
King there. Be the Goddess for us. Bless the fields with your fertility; ensure that our crops will grow tall and strong, so that we will eat them and be healthy.” She kissed Allie’s lips as a blessing to close her invocation.

Allie did as she was told. She was thrilled and terrified at the same time. As she
wandered out into the wheat, she heard the sounds of other couples, locked in acts of
passion. Around the maypole, the crowd still roared with laughter, cheering and
clapping. She left them all behind, wandering far out into the wheat. Her heart seemed to beat in time to the rhythm of the now-distant drum circle.

He found her before she saw him. She felt his hand, reaching out for her. She looked
up and saw the May King’s crown of antlers in the dim light of the full moon.

“My Queen,” the Horned One whispered. He wrapped his arms around her. She let
her body fall against his. He was naked except for the crown. He’d been painted with
the blood, just as she had. There were dark spirals on his face and chest, and arrows
painted on his arms and thighs. His body was hard and strong. His touch brought her a
sense of peace. She didn’t think of him as a mortal man, a stranger. To Allie, the Horned One was the living embodiment of the Goddess’s Consort.

“My King,” she whispered back, closing her eyes.

He kissed her, gently, not daring to part his lips. She took his chaste kisses and
turned them into something wilder. Bodies pressed together, smelling of sweat and
farm soil and the exotic perfume of the deer’s blood, they joined in the rhythm of the world around them, kissing fiercely.
Beltane is available as an e-book from Eternal Press, or in paperback.

Take the "Which Beltane Character Are You?" quiz on facebook

Watch the Pagan Spirits novel series trailer on YouTube
Other fun stuff:

Download Brendan Gerad O'Brien's World War II thriller free, now through May 22nd, when you use the coupon code BE86M.

Another free e-book: Marta Acosta, the author of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, offers her young adult novel The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove free at scribd!

This is an affiliate link:

The Wheel of The Year. . by Maureen Murrish. $5.99 from
The Wheel of the Year is a beginner's guide to celebrating the eight traditional pagan festivals of the the year.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

5 out of 5 stars for Donna Grant's Cross-Genre Romance

I recently finished Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant, the first novel in her Dark Sword series. The book was published in paperback by St. Martin's Press in 2010.

I don't usually give five stars to romance novels (though I am a big fan of them), but this one earned my respect early on. By chapter three I was completely hooked on this series. The three MacLeod brothers--eldest Fallon, middle brother Lucan, and youngest Quinn--are simply irresistible.

It's not just that they're gorgeous Scottish Highlanders, either. Thanks to the workings of ancient Druid magic, originally used to fend off the Romans, the three brothers share an ancient god trapped inside them. A madwoman seeks to capture them because of this, and because of their secret, their clan was slaughtered. For three hundred years, the immortal brothers lived alone in the ruins of their castle with only their vengeful god for company. When an innocent young nun-in-training, Cara, ventures near their forbidden hold, she senses there's something magical about the place, but she never expects to fall in love with one of the brothers. This book was the perfect blend of romance and sword and sorcery, with moments of action but also a great heart, great chemistry, and an unforgettable band of brothers.

I took Donna Grant's Dark Sword quiz on FaceBook, and the quiz suggested "my" brother is Fallon. Okay, so Fallon does slightly resemble my husband, but so far I think I like Quinn a little better. I won't really know until I get my hands on the next book in the series, Forbidden Highlander. I plan to do that on my next trip to the bookstore.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter: Why the Egg?

Why is the egg the symbol of Easter?

Hens will only lay eggs when they've received at least 12 hours of light a day. Before electric lights, this meant hens only laid eggs in the six months of the year when the earth gets the most sunlight, from the spring equinox to the fall equinox. Fresh eggs were a natural sign of spring in the time when they were only available during the warm months of the year. Like seeds, the egg is also a symbol of the beginning of life.

According to some historians, the egg was adopted as the symbol of Easter because Christians traditionally abstained from eating eggs during Lent. On Easter, they could break their egg-fast and eat them again. Eggs, according to St. Augustine, are also a symbol of hope, because the egg, like hope, is something that has not yet come to fruition.

Another connection Christians make with the egg is the phoenix. This mythical bird builds a funeral pyre for itself and dies. From its ashes, an egg emerges, and the phoenix is reborn. Because of its death and resurrection, the phoenix became a symbol for Jesus.

Many cultures consider the egg a symbol of rebirth and reincarnation. In Asia, eggs dyed red are given at births and funerals. In some parts of Africa, and also in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, eggs are buried near cemeteries to encourage the souls of the dead to be reborn.

The Easter egg hunt became popular in the United States only during the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln brought the practice to the White House lawn. The practice of hunting hidden eggs in spring predates Lincoln by thousands of years, though. It originated in Asia, where the hunt for the icon of reincarnation symbolized the individual's personal responsibility for his or her own karma. It's emblematic of the hunt for new life for the soul.

In ancient Europe, the custom was to place eggs under the barn to increase the fertility of the animals...or under human beds to increase our own fertility. Planting eggs in a field or garden was also thought to make the plants more fruitful.

Eggs, in many ancient mythologies, played an important role in the creation of the world. In Hindu and Phoenician mythology, the world is formed from an egg which emerges from the primordial waters and splits in two. One half becomes the earth, and the other half becomes the sky. The Finnish creation story tells of the world forming from eggs laid in the lap of the water-mother. Hawaiians also have a legend about the big island of Hawaii forming from an egg laid on the water. It's unknown if there is any historical connection between these early creation stories and the Easter egg, though.

Eggs play a role in the Jewish Passover meal, the seder. They represent mourning for the destruction of the Temple. The Jewish celebration of the ancestors' escape from Egypt may have borrowed the symbol of the egg from Egyptian mythology.

Some European superstitions concern an egg laid by a hen on Good Friday (the Friday before Easter, commemorating the day Jesus died). It is said that such an egg is a powerful amulet against sudden death, or that it protects orchards from blight. The yolk of an egg laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, is said to turn into a diamond.

Other traditions say it's the Easter rabbit that lays the eggs. This custom supposedly arrived in the United States with Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. German children prepared a nest for the "Oschter Haws" (Easter hare) on Easter eve and found it filled with colored eggs the next morning. The association of Jesus with the Easter bunny may have come about because the rabbit emerges from its burrow in the ground like Jesus emerging from his tomb.

Some say the rabbit is also a form of the ancient Germanic goddess of the spring (sometimes called Eostre or Ostara, but this name may not be historically accurate), whose is a shape-shifter and can take on the form of any animals. Like the Greek goddess Artemis, the Roman Diana, or the Eastern European veela, she's the Lady of Wild Things, the huntress-goddess who serves as an intermediary between human beings and their game.

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In Other News
: Between now (April 3) and midnight, April 9, 2010, please help me out by stopping by . My entry is short story #3. Vote by leaving a comment. (You must leave a name; anonymous votes do not count.) Your help is appreciated!

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Lower Price on 'Midsummer Night' Paperback

Have you wanted to buy yourself a paperback copy of my novel Midsummer Night, but been put off by the price at $17.99? I was, too. The first book in the series retails for $9.99, so it didn't seem right that the second book is so expensive. So...I wrote to the publisher, and she got Amazon to lower the price to $12.50. That's more like it!

You can find the paperback version at

For even more savings, buy the e-book version. You can find it for Kindle at Don't have a Kindle? No problem. Neither do I, so I downloaded Amazon's free Kindle for PC application. It took about 2 minutes, and now I can read all the e-books available for Kindle. Check them out; the prices are really reasonable. There are even FREE books available for Kindle!

Midsummer Night: Priestess-in-training and part-time witch Zen Van Zandt loves biology grad student Ramesh Sudhra. Only two things stand in the way of their happiness: his traditional Indian-American family doesn't welcome Zen, and Zen-s training requires a yearlong vow of celibacy. Between Ramesh's stern mother's disapproval, Zen's vow of celibacy, and her assistant's romantic troubles with a wild new witch, Zen wonders if she and Ramesh will ever see their wedding day.

Watch the book trailer on YouTube at