Friday, May 30, 2008

Award Winning Latina Author

I'm so very happy to announce that the two years of hard work of writing a reference book, interviewing 75 authors and journalists, and spending more time in libraries than at home, has paid off big time!!

Last night I received the 2008 International Latino Book Awards for Best Reference Book for the Latino Writers & Journalists book. I got a beautiful glass bookend with my name and book title engraved on it. I'm an award winning author now!!!

Just in time too, because now when Rogelia's House of Magic comes out on June 10, this will show how ever so diverse I am. This is better than the Enjoli commercial.

Woo hoo!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blending in with Muggles

Sometimes I get nervous at booksignings when the locations involves a mainstream kind of place. At one of my very first Barnes & Noble booksigings, a woman walked by, looked at me and my first book, The Wicca Cookbook, and said, "Oh goody, how to cook witches."

Ugh. Eight years later and I've yet to release the charge I get from that memory. But I've been gearing up for the those naysayers because mostly they need to be educated, aware of their myopic thinking, preferably before their ignorance hurts another. And this is what happened at the Costa Mesa Scottish Highland Games (where you get a marvelous mix of Catholics and pagans).
A older woman scooted in her wheelchair towards the shortbread pans next to my piles of books and demands to know where the tartan information can be found. While the shop owner scurries off to find her the right book, I smiled serenely at her from where I sat behind the display of my books. A man in his early forties reaches over and begins flipping through The Teen Spell Book. He had just walked by with a teenage girl, so I'm assuming he's glancing through the book to check it out for her. The woman in the wheelchair glances down at my book titles, scowls, and whispers loudly in the direction of her husband. "Wicca, that's Witches." She looks up at me and says "Demonic."
"Oh really?" I reply calmly. "And what have you studied of Wicca? What experience do you have with Wicca and what can you tell me is demonic about it?"
She fidgets in her chair a bit then answers confidantly. "There are good witches and ... the other kind.. bad witches."

To which, I respond, "There are good Christians and bad Christians."

Then without skipping a beat, the man thumbing through the teen book says, "And there are Christians who are in the KKK." He smiles at me. "And some rapists are men, but not all men are rapists."

"You just can't judge a witch by her broom," I replied.

I then smiled at everyone and walked away to float on my little cloud for a spell, so happy to have stood up for myself and magic, to not have shied away or crumbled or fought back with mean words. But to be proud of the mystical, magical faery Wiccan that I am.
Artwork by Jessica Galbreth

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Winners on Blog Tour

The winner from Friday's story is Carol G. Please contact Caridad for your prize.
The answer for my question from the Moonlight Midwifery story is actually the Moon. The moon in this story represents the maiden's council because it is her power, widsom, and source of creativity. However, if you dig deeper, then I believe you have to consider that the moon or her blood is really a symbol, a manifestation of her. So in this case, Amanda is the winner. Please email me at so I can get your address and send you an autographed copy of Rogelia's House of Magic on June 10.
Happy Reading!!
Also, just as an FYI, The Northern California Women's Herbal Syposium is a a real event that happens three times a year, twice in May, once in Late August, early September. Check it out. You'll love it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Women, Wisdom & Words

Welcome to another day of Women, Wisdom, and Words, a Blog Tour. I do hope you enjoy my story/excerpt titled Moonlight Midwifery. The experience below has served as inspiration for my next novel, The Making of a Xicana Goddess, a woman's fiction that follows Eva Ramirez, an overachieving corporate executive, Abigail Moreno-Smith, a neurotic artist-mother, and Moonstone O’Grady, their Crone mentor, who uses women’s magic to reveal and heal the childhood traumas that prevent Eva and Abby from obtaining the one thing they truly want: contentment and self-acceptance.

At the bottom of Moonlight Midwifery is a question. Please post your answers here. The winner receives a signed copy of my debut novel. Rogelia’s House of Magic (released June 10), a coming of age story about three very-different 15-year-old girls who learn about friendship and magic under the guidance of a curandera (spiritual healer/wise woman). The winner will be announced on

Moonlight Midwifery

I came out of my reverie when I heard that we had detoured into Boonville. Seriously, Boonville. We, my cousin Elise and Aunt Judyth, stopped at the Henny Penny for directions and a cup of coffee. We stayed for two pieces of homemade blackberry pie ala mode with a side of whipped cream and a fistful of giggles brought on by those quintessential diner waitresses with the loud laugh and friendly manner that would make anyone feel welcome. I grabbed a couple of creamers for my coffee during our camping trip at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium – it would be my one decadence and only piece of trash I would create, save for the Vitamin water bottle and broken plate, over the next four days.

Back on track and a few hours later, we drove off Highway 101 onto a bumpy dusty road, over the bridge and the bubbling river tumbling over rocks and moss, bordered by a variety of trees, grasses, and plants and visited by dragonflies, looking suspiciously like faeries. A jack rabbit with his long ears watched us drive by, unperturbed by our presence.

We found a parking spot next to the shuttle stop where we could dump our gear and strong beautiful women would load it into a white pickup truck and haul it into the Black Oak campgrounds. We had arrived. I immediately stripped off my bra – an unnecessary obstruction – the reminder that I should strap up, hold back my femininity, so as to not offend the patriarchy and it’s constituents with my lusty, ill-mannered breasts.

I was joining the sisterhood in a grotto, a meadow, a gathering of women and children. Our freedom, our precociousness, our beauty is revered on these sacred grounds.

The smell of bay fills my nostrils as I register and receive the time of the class that I will be teaching: Elemental Magic and Faeries to young women, ages 11-19. The organizers generously offer me a gift, as they did for all to the teachers, a shirt or bookbag featuring an exquisite lily mysteriously opening to a star-strewn Yoni-verse.

“What do you want to sign up for, Mom?” Elise asks Judyth. Everyone must participate – give back to the community here. I think they chose kitchen duty, I was busy deciding between the tank top and v-neck bamboo cotton t-shirt.

As we walked by, a mama sat in the river with her baby, showing him the water. We passed the Crone’s Corner, silk sarongs painted with images of beautiful, multi-racial, varied aged women wave in the breeze. Next are the Bodywork Area and the Wellness Center with its twinkle lights and the gentle warm hands of our caregivers. Dapple light shined through clumps of birch trees. Dark green moss grew on taller, thicker trees, and on other trees a light sage green moss hung from branches like streamers at a birthday party.

We arrived at a circle of ten or so sixty-foot tall tepees surrounding a grass and dirt circular area with a fire pit in its center. Our friends had secured a wonderful tepee in the shade. I found my chair and sat down for a bit. I've been to this symposium before, but there's always a moment when the chaos of your normal life has a bit of trouble slowing down to the calm of camping with women - no testerone to distract or annoy you - no children or husband - no phone ringing. Just a moment to be yourself.

After dinner and filling my coffee mug with an herbal tea called "Love Your LIfe," I joined the others at the firering, where we had our opening circle. “We are all teachers,” intoned our fearless leaders, Terri and Karen, the organizers of the symposium. “Each one of us has something to offer.”

I looked around me and saw women of every shape and size emanating confidence, whether sitting or walking, almost like a runway model who exhibits self-assurance based on the world’s feedback that she is gorgeous (and rail thin) and so should be admired, put on a pedestal in fact.

These women glowed from a beauty that radiated from their core of self-love, self-acceptance, and a deep connection to the earth and her sisters, with little care or awareness of what others may think of her. This is what I came to learn and perhaps to teach. Drumming and singing followed. The bonding of so many women, some friends for years, some recently introduced, was beginning, as it had over the past eighteen years at this gathering of women.

Later I snuggled into my flannel pajamas, slid into my Ugg boots, wrapped myself in a heavy velvet coat that I had purchased at the last conference from a retired belly dancer, and headed down to the meadow for stargazing. The bright moon made my flashlight obsolete as I meandered the footpath through the woods toward the fields. I passed tents covered with Goddess scarves and prayer flags, listening to the sounds of mamas reading to their children, and friends laughing and sharing stories. The field glowed with a piercing light blue light. My moon shadow fell on tall grasses behind me as I made my way to the group gathered in the center of the meadow.

“The astrological sign of Virgo is represented by the Virgin, as many know,” reported our stargazer teacher. “The word virgin originally meant a woman who was not owned by another. How interesting that we would turn Virgos into a neurotic, anal retentive personality, when it just meant a woman who could take care of herself.” She pointed to a bright star with a laser green flashlight. “There’s my favorite star, Arcturus, the harbinger of the seasons. And here is the Milky Way. Notice how it intersects with the path of the planets at the point of Sagittarius’ arrow. In some cultures the Sagittarius constellation is a teapot. And see how the Milky Way bubbles out of the spout like steam. Now come over here, I’ve set up the telescope to show you Saturn.”

And in spite of that glowing, near-full moon, I could see the rings of Saturn. The following night we would be treated to a view of Jupiter and four of its moons.

The next morning, I put on my triple moon Goddess headband of abalone, and met a group of young women by the fire ring whom I led into the woods for a little privacy for our class. Using a chalkboard propped against a great oak tree and colored chalk I showed them how the four directions relate to the four elements, colors, animals, magical creatures, seasons of nature, seasons of life, and a particular energy. I held eye contact with each girl, telling them how magical they are – how powerfully poised they are as the Enchantress in the south, ruled by fire, orange, red, dragon and horse, salamanders, summer, and the embodiment of will, courage, independence, individuality, and creativity. I taught them that magic is emotion, focus, relationships, serendipity, and intuition – connected, woven together as one.

At the marketplace, mothers came to me, expressing their gratitude for teaching their daughters the truth of their power. Most of my students bought both my teen books (The Teen Spell Book and The Enchanted Diary) and I got the chance to talk to them on a more personal level, which I just reveled in. I traded the remainder of my books for amazing handmade creations, such as raw silk bloomers, knitted gloves, a kiln-fired glass plate, a feathered barrette, a CD of woman/life/love-empowering campfire songs, and more. I loved teh bloomers because the hugely pregnant, dreadlocked lady who sold them to me informed me that when bloomers were introduced it gave women freedoms they never had: like the ability to ride horses or bicycles.

After marketplace, Terri approached me and asked if I would participate in the sacred ceremony that inducts the young women who had recently begun to their menses into the sacred circle of womenhood. I was overcome with joy. Chills raced up my arms, my heart felt lighter than air and the tears glistened in my eyes. Of course, I was willing. My deepest desire is to help young women feel supported and loved. It's my way of being part of what I never got as a young woman.

The drumming begins, a throbbing heartbeat, calling the women to prepare for the parade and ceremony. I dressed in a beautiful purple dress with a black velvet moon and stars on my chest, bell sleeves (think Stevie Nicks), and handkerchief skirt. I brushed my hair and placed the crown headband of abalone moons on my forehead.

At the front of the parade several women wave flags of vibrant colors. Behind them is a twenty foot paper mache Maiden puppet held up by one person standing in the puppet itself and two others on her flanks hoisting poles that move the puppet’s arms. Behind her is the Mother, then the Crone puppet. Beside the puppets are the musicians, shaking rattles, banging drums and singing. The crones, the wise women in our group, shake their bells and brooms they made in a special circle with the High Crone Jill.

We circled around the camp to the far end, passing the line of maidens who had recently started their moon. Many of the young women were dressed in red to symbolize their blood. They look nervous but excited. It just breaks your heart wide open to see them standing proud, waiting for their moment to enter the circle of womanhood, chins held high, eyes straight ahead.
Elise and I break rank from the revelers as we pass the fire ring to get our water bottles. It’s hot and sweaty out, even as the sun begins to set. We join up again just as the last of the group walks into the meadow and forms a large circle of two rows. We find our friends’ daughters and hold hands with them until their mothers reunite with us. We are all related now.

The drummers begin to pound again, solitary rhythmic beats and the chant begins.

Holy Maiden Huntress
Artemis! Artemis!
Maidens… Come to Us…

As we chant, the maidens slowly, slowly walk toward us. We reach out to the woman or child who stands across from us and form an arch by holding hands high in the air. When the High Priestess and the maidens reach the beginning of the tunnel, the entire group of four hundred women and children begin singing.

“We are here to tell you that you’re wonderful and beautiful, we are here to tell you that you’re always whole, we are here to notice that your loving is a miracle, how deeply you’re connected to my soul.”*

Led by the High Priestess, the girls walk through the tunnel (hunched a bit, particularly when trying to pass under the arms of two small children). After the girls pass through, those at the end of the tunnel drop hands and walk under the tunnel. As you catch people’s eyes some women are crying, some look shy, others in awe, others bask in the glory of all this love. And still, we repeat this song over and over again. At the end of the tunnel the crones look at you with such grandmotherly love and gentleness that if you didn’t feel like crying at first you do now.
And they’ll hug you or hold you, telling you with their song and the love in their eyes, its okay. I cried myself to near hysterics my first time through the tunnel.

But this time, I had a duty, a responsibility to take in the love and not withdraw from it. It was time to know my worth, my value. I was more than ready. When I reached the end of the crones, the High Crone Jill grabs my hand and held me. “You stay with me,” she said.

The maidens form a small circle in the middle of our ever widening circle. Lastly the women holding the flags walk through the tunnel. The crones break into four groups and walk to the four cardinal points. Many of them are dressed in the colors that symbolize the directions. The entire group turns to face each direction as the crones welcome the energy, the power, and guides of four directions of east, south, west, and north.

I pick up a tray covered in a red scarf, laden with a white transparent silk, small scissors, a dish of rose water, a rose quartz crystal, ten red ceramic crescent moon necklaces and a red crayon and follow the High Crone Jill out to the circle where her daughter, the High Priestess, stands with the maidens. I enter the inner circle holding the tray out.

The High Priestess addresses the first maiden, “Are you ready?”

“Yes,” is her resounding answer.

The High Priestess covers the maiden’s head with the white silk. The girl looks like a cross between Mother Mary and a young bride. The High Priestess considers the maiden for a moment then in a booming voice declares, “You come to us a maiden,” she pulls off the white cloth. She takes a deeply red velvet cape from the High Crone Jill and wraps it around the maiden’s shoulders. “You will leave us, as a woman. But first you must give up your maidenhood, your childhood. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” says the first maiden happily.

The High Priestess takes the scissors from the tray and finds a thin braid plaited near the maiden’s ear. With a loud snip, she cuts the braid and holds it over her head for everyone to see.
The crowd of women burst into jubilant, primal cheering, howling, wolf whistles, drumming, rattling, clapping fills the air. The very ground seems to tremble with the joyful noise. The young woman only has eyes for that small braid, the symbol of her release and entry into womanhood.

The High Priestess tucks the braid into the young woman’s hand and whispers, “Give this to your Mother, or Mother Earth.” Her first choice as a woman – whether to leave the braid in nature or preserve it with her mother.

The High Priestess then dips her hand into the rose water, “I anoint you in the waters of womanhood.” She dips the crayon into the water and uses it to draw a red circle on the young woman’s forehead. “May you always feel the power, strength, wisdom, and creativity that comes from your blood.” She takes the red moon necklace and holds it up to the young woman’s eye level, “May you always remember WHO is your council,” she says as she puts the necklace on the young woman. She steps aside as High Crone Jill steps forward and takes the cloak off the young woman and gives her a kiss.

Then it is my turn to step forward. This is no longer a girl who stands before me, but a woman. You can see it in her eyes, in the way she holds herself. Most of these young women came to my class and bought my book, meaning I had a connection with them. I kissed her on the cheek and whisper a heartfelt “Congratulations, Welcome.”

And so it went, until each maiden had been inducted into the circle of womanhood. At the end of this ceremony, their mothers were asked to join them and out they rushed from all parts of the circle to hug and kiss their daughters. Some gave an extra present. Most were crying or laughing or just plain beaming with joy and pride.

At this point my friend leans over to her ten-year-old daughter and whispers, “Isn’t it great that Jamie got to be in the ceremony?”

The child turns to her mother with a bemused smile, “We’re all part of the ceremony,” she says.

The young women joined the outer circle and then the crones are asked to form the inner circle. I brought forth a black chair. A Crone of Honor was chosen among them to sit in the chair and bestow a bit of wisdom through her tears of gratitude for the love. The crones were presented with a bowl of cordial, which they passed around. Before taking a draft, each woman pronounced with enthusiasm, “I AM CRONE.”

We broke into dancing, leaving the meadows and filtered toward the fire ring where twenty women drummers pounded out songs to which we danced and danced for hours, while the full moon crossed the starry sky.

Question: Who is the maidens’ council?

Post your answers here. Any answer, I want to see what you come up with!! The winner receives a signed copy of my debut novel. Rogelia’s House of Magic. The winner will be announced on

*Adapted by Carol Horwitz

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Phoenix Rising

The last of her ego had gone out in a dancing fire of spectacular flames
Grey smoke emitted from a large smoldering pile of blacken ash

In the silence she did not mind her nonexistence
In fact it was comforting to be sill
Like mist rising off a quiet morning lake
Her exhalation sent another swirling of smoke into
Into the bright blue sky

She watched fascinated as the smoke took form
The ashen pile rustled and shifted
She became aware of herself
It was a strange comforting feeling
to be in a body no longer weighed down by pain or fear

Wings quivered on her back
Nodding and shifting her head from side to side
She blinked with child-like amazement
At the crystal sun washed day
Was the sky always this blue?
She pushed against the ashen waste
Rising above the ground

In that instant she saw others bound to the earth
Unwilling to release their own pain or fears
Sadden she froze

A bird sang out
Sunlight shone clear
A rainbow from a drop of dew
On a spider’s web
The rain is over
“It is not your fate to be small
Nor do you serve or honor others by doing so.”
Whispered the voice of Spirit.

She closed her eyes
Her heart spoke the truth
Pumping her powerful wings
She pushed skyward
Like a bird she flew

The Phoenix Reborn
Honoring my joy honors me
Honoring my truth honors Spirit
Honoring my joy honors me
Honoring my truth honors Spirit
Excerpt from The Enchanted Diary: A Teen's Guide to Magick and Life by Jamie Wood

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Life's Twisty Turns

Recently I accepted my first j-o-b outside of the home and hearth in twelve years. It was not an easy decision. Part of me (the hard-driving Capricorn part) felt like a failure: my writing had failed to sustain me as I had hoped it would from the moment I believed I could actually make it as an author. Afterall, The Wicca Cookbook sold out of it's first printing in three months and soon afterwards Hollywood called and I was off starring in a cooking pilot called The Cauldron for the SCI-Fi station. Then came a string of books - seven in all, with contributions in three others.

What with my debut novel, Rogelia's House of Magic, being released very soon, I wanted to hold on a bit longer. But I have chosen the road of private school for my boys - a place that has a nasty knack for raising tuition every year - and it was time for this faery put her feet on the ground - if only for a moment.

I was scared that the flourescent walls would suck away my life force. That the people at work would be so mundane to turn my brain to mush. I have come to discover that the resistance was actually more draining than the actual job. I not only found a job where I can write about interesting things, I have found a boss whom I knew the last time I walked into an office. She has crystals in her jewelry and on her shelves. She has bought many of my books and is proud of my accomplishments rather than jealous.

Interestingly, the very institution for which I now work, Chapman University, has a guiding spirit who also embraces the very things upon which I find most dear. As put forth by President Jim Doti: '“Truth” also refers to values such as honesty, integrity and courage that form the core of one’s moral development, and to what our university’s guiding spirit, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, called “reverence for life.”'

A reverence for life is the foundation of my work no matter whether four walls or four directions surround and sustain me. I am grateful for trusting and taking this latest leap of faith. Hopefully I will remember this latest fall into grace when I question the Universe and it's twisty turns.