Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pagan Festivals in Strange Sabbats

As in Nature’s Pentacle, I’ve returned to my delightfully lusty, supernatural witches in today’s Loose Id release Strange Sabbats (Buy Link and Excerpt). Strange Sabbats is structured around seasonal festivals celebrated by the witches in my story--festivals which are dear to my pagan heart.

I’d like to share a bit more about the Sabbats celebrated by Aileen, Bryan, and Sylvie in Strange Sabbats, but first, here’s the blurb from my new release:

Aileen sacrificed her power for the sake of her marriage, only to see her husband die in a car crash. When childhood friend Jon appears on the scene for a Yule celebration, the sex is scorching. But jealousy gets in the way of true love, until Aileen's power returns--and so does Jon.

Aileen's brother, Bryan, still carries a torch for Jon, and fears revealing himself to humans. But when he includes his human friend Dallas in an erotic Beltane ritual, it's clear who holds the whip in that relationship.

Jon's Aunt Sylvie has the erotic relationship of a lifetime with Ty, a younger man--until she's offered a CEO position in New York. On the night of the summer harvest festival, Ty makes Sylvie's most wanton fantasy come true by inviting another woman into their bed.

For three witches related by blood and common circumstances, finding the men of their dreams is a supernatural ride through love, jealousy, kink with a touch of magic, and fierce, red hot witch sex.

Strange Sabbats starts with a Yule celebration, and concludes with a wedding reception on the Autumn Equinox (not telling which couple ties the knot, though!). The pagan calendar is called The Wheel of the Year, to represent the circular progression of the seasons. Here’s a bit more about the festivals, or Sabbats, celebrated by the witches in my story:

Samhain, October 31. A time of serious reflection, when the boundaries between the physical and spiritual world are thinnest. This is a day to honor ancestors, often marked with feasts in their memory.

Yule, around December 21. The shortest day of the year, the solstice marks the point when darkness will soon give way to the return of the light. Celebrations focus on the beauty of winter, and the introspection befitting a season of quiet and snow. Candles or bonfires symbolize the movement back toward the light half of the year.

Imbolc, February 2. This festival celebrates the first hints of spring, returning light, and fertility. The earliest flowers or budding branches are used to symbolize the movement into the light half of the year, when growing things will again cover the land in shades of green. Imbolc is Brighid's day, and the Celtic goddess is honored during seasonal rituals.

Ostara, around March 21. The spring equinox celebrates the greening of the land. It is a time of balance, when light and dark are equal. Symbols include flowers, eggs, baby animals, and the soft colors associated with spring.

Beltane, May 1. Beltane celebrates the fertility that comes with the warmer months, when the sun is high in the sky and days are long. Flowers, maypole rituals, bonfires, feasts, and joyous celebrations are associated with Beltane.

Litha (also Midsummer's Eve), around June 21. On the longest day of the year, festivals celebrate the bounty of the earth and bonfires mark the sun's highest ascent. Celebrations are playful and magical, for Midsummer's Eve is a time of myth, fairies, and dancing.

Lughnasadh, August 1. A harvest festival marked by festive meals featuring seasonal foods. Grains and breads symbolize the plentiful harvest.

Mabon, around September 21. On the autumn equinox, harvest festivals mark a time of balance, when light and dark are equal, and preparations begin for the quieter months of the winter ahead.

Happy Reading!
Eden Rivers
Buy Link and Excerpt for Strange Sabbats
Buy Link and Excerpt for Nature’s Pentacle

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Keeping My Head above Water

Some weeks, it’s harder to swim with the current than others. Some people seem to have captured the secret of getting through weeks like that with grace. I’m not one of them. I thrash around, spitting out mouthfuls of water, go under a few times, and then start swimming again, out of pure, obstinate determination. I also yell at my husband a lot.

Lately, I’ve been wondering how authors of 15 or more published books keep from experiencing burn out. I’ve completed four full length manuscripts, two novellas, and three short stories in the past three years. Promoting my first book (first out, third written) has been a job in and of itself. And while I’ve been promoting, I’ve completed the sequel and written an unrelated novella.

May 27, my paranormal erotic novella, Strange Sabbats (another story about lusty witches) will be released, so I’m heading into the promo cycle for that one now. At the same time, I’m working on a synopsis and cover letter for the recently completed sequel to Nature’s Pentacle (Broken Pentacle, Sky and Alec’s story), and editing that manuscript so I can turn it in to my editor.

So, how do authors who’ve published 15 or more books keep from losing the creative spark among the hustle and bustle of writing, publishing, and promotion? Because bottom line, the current moves quite fast, and authors have to swim in several directions at once.

And of course, many romance authors (yes, even erotic romance authors) are also moms. This week, one of my daughters fainted at school, so I rushed out to pick her up mid-synopsis. Today, the younger one’s home with a stomach bug. And then there’s my husband, who’s a constant work in progress (aren’t they all?). Social groups, errands, paperwork, appointments, household chores, homework help, and heck, my to-be-read pile, all take up their respective chunks of time.

With the sequel to Nature’s Pentacle finished, about ready to turn in, I’m mentally moving on to my next project already, swimming in yet another direction. Which is why I’m wondering, for all you multi-pubbed authors out there, how you keep up the pace year after year after year.

Okay, I know, we write because we love it. We write because we have to. But I’m curious about flotation devices for when we hit white water. Any thoughts?


Thursday, May 8, 2008

In-laws, Erotic Writing, and Paganism

My in-laws are about to descend for a four-day weekend. So my husband and I have been scrambling to get the house clean, pick up extra groceries, and all the usual in-law type preparations. Fresh tulips on the mantle, fresh lilacs on the coffee table, and all that.

But as usual, I’ve put off the most important tasks till last. My husband’s parents don’t know I write erotic romance, or that our entire family’s pagan. They’re old. My mother-in-law has heart trouble. My father in law has cancer. And as my teenage daughter said when she took her Teen Witch and Living Wicca books off her shelf earlier: “I’d better put these away before grandma and grandpa get here. Grandpa’s such a snoop, and although I feel so ick hiding my books, I don’t want to give them a heart attack or anything.”

Like my daughter, I’ll put away my books on paganism, as well as the erotic romance and erotica titles in my to-be-read pile, and the dry erase board by the computer which includes a hefty amount of information about my writing. Incriminating details such as book titles, and all that. And like my daughter, I’ll feel “ick” when I put things out of sight till after the visit.

That’s why I always leave the task till the last minute. And I wonder how bad it could really be to just come out and tell them what I write. Well, not the details, of course. No one from their generation really needs to know the gritty logistics of m/f/m ménages with double penetration, or the art of including m/m sex within the context of a ménage scene. But I wonder if their hearts might just be strong enough to handle the erotic romance bit. And wow, as for being pagan, it would sure be nice not to get Christmas cards every December.

But they’re old. And sick. And stressed. So instead, I’ll put away my incriminating dry erase board, and make sure the manuscript my husband’s reading for me is tucked securely into a drawer. I’ll put away my erotica titles, along with my dog-eared copy of Circle, Coven and Grove and any other books likely to make a pair of devout Catholics fear for their grandchildren’s souls. And I’ll remind myself that they live far away, and we only see them once a year.

But I’ll still feel ick, because I'm an open sort of person, and don't make a habit of hiding either what genre I write in, or my spiritual inclinations.

So what about all of you? Anyone have personal details they feel they can't (or shouldn't) share with relatives?