Mythical Monday: The Moon Woman of New Zealand by Mae Clair

I’ve been fascinated by the moon and the heavens in general ever since I was in grade school. I can still recall how excited I was when in second grade we learned the names of the planets and I was able to recite them in order. At six years old (I started school early) I was apt to share this little gem of information with anyone who’d listen. I’m sure my parents probably got tired of hearing me recite them, but they never let it show.

When I was seven my dad bought my older brother a telescope, which opened a brand new door of wonder to the heavens (despite my brother trying to convince me he’d seen little green men dancing on the moon). Eventually, a few years later, my father bought me my own telescope seeing my interest in stargazing wasn’t just a passing phase. I remember going out at night with a sketchbook and trying to replicate what the surface of the moon looked like after I magnified it through the lens. That telescope lasted through the years into my late thirties. As an adult I didn’t use it nearly as often, but there were still occasions when I dragged it into the back yard and angled it to capture a glowing moon.

mysterious worldMaybe it’s because I love that silvery orb so much I find it hard to believe anyone would curse it, but that’s exactly what the Moon Woman of New Zealand did. A Maroi girl by the name of Rona, she made a habit of trekking from her village to collect water from a nearby stream each day. One day she forgot to complete her task during the hours when the sun was high, and had to venture out at night.

The chore wasn’t trying at first for the moon shone brightly, lighting her way. But as Rona neared the stream, it slipped behind a cloud plunging her into darkness. In the sudden nighttime shadows, Rona tripped and fell. Perhaps she skinned her hands and knees; perhaps she hurt herself badly or broke her water pitcher in the fall. Whatever the reason, she grew horribly angry and began hurling insults at the moon for concealing its light.

Incensed by such blatant disrespect, the moon swept down to the Earth and attempted to carry her away. Realizing her danger, Rona wrapped her arms around a tree, refusing to let go. But the moon was so angry with the girl it ripped the tree from the Earth, roots and all, and carried it off with Rona still clinging to the trunk.

According to legend, when the moon is full, Rona, the tree, and her water pitcher are visible on the surface of the moon. Look closely and you will see the Moon Woman of New Zealand still lamenting her fate.

Mythical Monday: When the Sky Had a Tail by Mae Clair

It’s Mythical Monday, and as you read this post I’m relaxing on a nice beach on the eastern seaboard (don’t worry, I’ll be checking in later). There’s nothing mythical about that, just a long over due vacation and highly anticipated. :)

Since I’m officially in vacation mode, I’m recycling an old post from June of 2012 that only three people saw. It was before I started Mythical Monday, but it definitely falls into the category. Take a look:

~ooOOoo~

If you scroll down the sidebar of my blog you’ll see “Twelve Facts About Me.”  Check out #3, “I saw a UFO when I was six.” No eye-rolling please!

ufoIt was a warm summer evening with twilight in full bloom. My father and I relaxed on the front porch together, watching as the evening ebbed to the darker shades of night. He and I often relaxed there, especially if there was a thunderstorm brewing.  My memory of that evening is spotty, but some moments are crystal clear forever cemented in my mind.

My father fell asleep, probably tired after a hard day of work. Shortly afterward, something large and green trolled across the sky. I remember it as a semi-cloud, the color of algae-rich seawater. Light spilled from the bottom drenching the street, front lawn, and half the porch in an eerie green glow. The light swept over me in a brackish halo, but didn’t touch my father who remained tucked in the shadows.

I don’t know why I didn’t wake him. When you’re a kid you tend to accept the unusual. The ‘cloud’ moved past, and soon people were walking up the street, jabbering excitedly. My dad woke up and I followed him down to the sidewalk where a woman stopped to chat. She told my father “the sky looked like it had a tail.”  I remember those words vividly.

Had I seen a UFO?

Earlier this year while reading The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, I found a few paragraphs referencing the area in which I live, and how the “skies were busy” with UFOs. Amazing, because that was decades ago! I was a kid, and this was confirmation I’d seen something! There was even a reference to someone observing “the sky had a tail.”

I’m still kicking myself because I thought I had highlighted that section and can’t find it now, but I remember excitedly pointing it out to my husband just three months ago.

What exactly had I seen? A hot air balloon?  Some freak weather anomaly?

No.

As an adult I can’t reference anything even slightly similar. Given the woman on the sidewalk confirmed something odd has happened that night, it will forever live as a goose-bump memory in my mind.

Have you ever seen something you thought was a UFO? Would you want to? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A Pen Pal Welcome to Christina Cole and Summertime!

bigstock-Stacks-of-old-letters-on-woode-43415203I’m thrilled to turn my blogging pen over to Christina Cole today as she shares her new release SUMMERTIME, along with some amazing memories of summers past. Oh, how I wish I had my very own catalpa tree and could “go down to Frank’s” in Indian Grove!

Please welcome Christina and enjoy these wonderful memories!

~ooOOoo~

Memories of Summertime
by Christina Cole

With the recent release of Summertime, my latest historical romance from Sweet Cravings Publishing, I’ve been talking to readers a lot about their favorite summer memories from childhood. Today, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my own.

First, I have to point out one fact. I’m old. Ancient, is the way my kids put it. I’m old enough to remember when houses were cooled with window fans, and the few stores with air conditioning bragged about it in their advertisements. Oh, how refreshing it was to walk into a “dimestore” that featured that latest, and greatest technology. The unfortunate thing was that you couldn’t stay there forever. Once you’d finished your shopping, you had to step back out into the sweltering heat. Needless to say, shoppers dawdled as long as they could.

Another sweet summer memory was going to the Dari-B. It wasn’t a big, fancy place like today’s Dairy Queens or Baskin-Robbins, just a little wooden building with a sliding window at the front. You stood outside, placed your order, and when the window opened you could feel a rush of cold air from inside. Your only choice was vanilla or chocolate, but those cones sure tasted good on a hot summer’s evening. You had to lick fast though, because a single scoop could melt away in minutes. Going to the Dari-B became even more of a thrill when I was about thirteen and had a gigantic crush on one of the boys who worked there. Nothing came of it, but I sure ate a lot of ice cream cones that summer.

One of my favorite summer places was the old catalpa tree. It was in Dick Moore’s yard, several houses down the street from where I lived. Dick Moore was an oddity in the neighborhood, a single man living among a dozen families with children. He was a lawyer, and I always had the idea that he made a lot of money, but that was all I ever knew about him. I remember how everyone in the neighborhood poked their heads out of their doors to gawk the one time Dick Moore brought a lady home to his house. We probably scared her away!

All the kids loved the old catalpa tree. We climbed it, held club meetings beneath its branches, and we girls used its huge, heart-shaped leaves and fragrant flowers to design fanciful hats and bracelets. Mr. Moore would sometimes come home to find a dozen of us either in the branches, underneath, or scattered about his catalpa tree. He’d wave or nod and go inside. Never once did he ask us to leave.

On really hot days, we’d beg and plead for someone to drive us to Lake Maurer, a public swimming pool and recreational area on the outskirts of town. If all else failed, we’d gather our swimsuits, towels, and suntan lotions, and set off on foot. Usually some kind soul would take pity on us and give us a lift. Back then, there were no strangers, and nobody had ever heard the term “stranger danger”.

We’d swim in the pool all day, splashing and kicking, shrieking and laughing, and when evening came, we’d finally crawl out of the water, exhausted and waterlogged. Next we’d play a round of miniature golf, or ride the Lake Maurer Special, a wooden train that took us around the bend and back.

Farmhouse DrawingThe best memory of all was “going down to Frank’s.” Frank Zungs was my great-uncle, although I hardly knew him. He passed away when I was very young. He’d bought a huge old farmhouse in a little place called Indian Grove. The population of the Grove was about 12, which included Frank, his widowed sister, Nina, and his brother, Mike. My grandfather would take my sister and me “down to Frank’s” every summer. Even after Frank was gone, we still called it “going down to Frank’s.” It was always fun to read the “society pages” of the newspaper from the nearest town, because we were society! Yes, in a little place like Indian Grove, it’s news when somebody sneezes, and having relatives come to visit was worthy of several paragraphs. We really thought we were important!

I have a lifetime of beautiful memories from the summers I spent in Indian Grove, and many of my thoughts and feelings found their way into Summertime.  As I wrote the story, I thought about that old farmhouse, about sitting on the porch in the evenings, about listening to the sounds of the bullfrogs as I fell asleep.

Summer is always a special time. Thanks for letting me share a few of my memories with you.

~ Christina

Beautiful sunset over a field with podsolnuzami

Don’t you just love this gorgeous cover?

About Summertime:
Linn Sparks wanted all life had to offer. Fame, fortune, glamour and excitement. She found it as a star of the stage at the Crown Theater in San Francisco.

For Ed Ferguson, life was far less complicated. All he wanted was Linnie Mae, but she’d left him standing alone at the altar seven years before when she’d run off to pursue her dreams.

Now, Linn has come home to Brookfield, Kansas.

You can find Summertime at the following online booksellers:
Secret Cravings Publishing
Amazon
Bookstrand
All Romance Ebooks

Welcome Summer by Mae Clair

Today feels a bit like a holiday. It’s Friday, the end of the work week, gorgeous outside, and it’s the first day of summer!

beautiful girl enjoying the summer sun

As a kid, summer started for most of us the moment the afternoon bell rang on the last day of school. Remember the giddy exhilaration you felt as you burst through the doors and raced from the building with your friends? A glorious world awaited, full of trips to the beach, ballgames, swimming and exploring.

I’m old enough to remember when the pinnacle of summer fun included splashing through creeks, riding bikes, chasing butterflies and dancing with the wind. At night, my friends and I played hide-and-seek, told ghost stories and slept out beneath the stars.

Summer was also a time when the local Fireman’s Association sponsored a carnival in my small town setting up food tents, prize booths and an assortment of rides in the community ballpark. My friends and I couldn’t wait to clamber into the brightly-colored seats of the Ferris wheel, hoping to get stuck at the top for a bird’s eye view of everyone milling below (the adult in me shudders to remember that).

We gobbled up hot dogs, pizza, cotton candy and snow cones; spent the money our parents gave us on silly games like the dime-pitch, ring-toss, and duck pond. I remember trotting home with a goldfish in a plastic bag, a baseball-sized glass bowl, and some fish food. I’m sure my parents didn’t expect “Lucky” to last seven years, but he more than lived up to his name.

Years later, I still cherish the magic of summer, although I look at the calendar differently than I did when I was ten. Now the season starts for me with the summer equinox, the longest day of the year. In 2013, that occurs today (or did at 1:04 AM for those on the east coast of the U.S.).

When four o’clock rolls around, it won’t simply single the start of my weekend – it will also mark the beginning of a season of enchantment. Just thinking about it resurrects the same giddy sense of exhilaration I felt as a kid.

What about you? How do you plan to mark the day or celebrate your summer? Do you have any fond memories from childhood that still resonate with summertime magic?

Mythical Monday: The Ghosts of Time by Mae Clair

ZeitverlaufWe’ve often heard the expression “time stopped.” But can it really? As much as I love time travel novels and speculating about traversing centuries, time flows in a single direction–forward. Despite cold facts and scientific data, generations of writers, philosophers, artists and musicians remain bewitched by the abstract elements of time.

Consider me one. In the past, I’ve done several blog posts about what I call “betwixt moments,” but I’ve never shared where my fascination with time originated. I can easily trace it back to my father who had a passion for antiques, especially old clocks. I grew up in a house filled with them. I have memories of a large white captain’s clock, several squat mantle clocks, and a pointed steeple clock that would have been at home in a Sherlock Holmes novel. But the star of my dad’s collection was a grandfather’s clock he found at a garage sale. Built in 1902, the clock was his baby.

He pampered it…winding it, oiling it, adjusting the chimes, polishing the pendulum. It had a prime spot in our living room, its chimes resounding throughout the house on the hour. As a kid, I created multiple stories with clocks and would often lay awake at night listening for the deep bass bong of the grandfather’s clock.

When my husband and I bought our second home, the first piece of furniture I purchased for the formal living room was a grandfather’s clock. Never mind there wasn’t a couch or chair, the clock came first. That’s the romantic, impractical side of me. Every time I look at that clock, I think of my dad.

As kids he’d often tell us that when he died, if there was a way to come back, he’d find it. If the grandfather’s clock was running he’d stop it, and if it was stopped, he’d start it. I don’t think my dad intended on dying early—maybe he’d knew he’d have a short life—but the afterlife fascinated him. When I was thirteen, he passed away from colon cancer.

bigstock-Abstract-Time-Piece-1101466Sometime after that, the whole family was gathered in the living room. My father passed away in early September, so I believe this must have been Thanksgiving, because my married sisters were there with their spouses. My mom was the only one not in the room. I think she might have been in the kitchen. Someone went to note the time and realized the clock had stopped. There was a moment of goosebump-silence as we absorbed the impact. My sister immediately told her husband to “start it, before Mom sees it.” We never told her about that incident until much later in life, fearing it might upset her.

Was my dad there? Had he stopped the clock as promised?  I still wonder. Many people would chalk it up to happenstance, but it’s far too coincidental to me.

Today, the grandfather’s clock no longer works and is too old to be repaired. My brother took it to a few different clockmakers without success. Although it no longer runs, he displays it proudly in his home. One hundred eleven years after it was built, it has become an intricate part of our family history. We’ve passed the tale of my dad and his promise to the younger generation, a story often reflected on at family gatherings. The clock–like my father–is still touching lives, a testament of time and memory.

Is there a spooky story in your family history—one that has been passed down to you or that you’ve passed to your kids? Sometimes we don’t have to look beyond our own bloodline to find inspiration for a legend!

Mythical Monday: The Lore of the Leprechaun by Mae Clair

Top ‘o the morning to you! My friend, Christina McKnight, is splashing my cover for TWELFTH SUN on her blog today. Given I’m so besotted with it, I had to make sure everyone knew it was available for another gander. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

And yes, I know St. Patrick’s Day has passed, but I couldn’t let a Mythical Monday slip by without a tip of the hat to such a momentous celebration. Enjoy a virtual green beer on me while I trot out a much beloved figure from myth.

Leprechaun Sitting on ToadstoolRemember when you were a kid, and you wanted to catch a leprechaun? If you were like me, it had nothing to do with that legendary pot of gold. What was gold to a kid? The allure was the idea of a magical wee creature who could move between worlds. Spying a leprechaun meant maybe, just maybe, the veil between everyday reality and a hidden otherworld grew thin enough to cross over. What child wouldn’t want to explore a fairytale realm where enchantment was king?

Shoemakers by trade, Leprechauns were mostly solitary, but they enjoyed a good reel with the fiddle and tin whistles at night. Kindred to the Fair Folk, they were descended from the great Tuatha Dé Danann, and squirreled their gold away in buried pots. If you were crafty enough to catch a leprechaun and kept your eye fixed on him, he’d have to reveal the location of his gold when asked. One blink, however, and he quickly vanished from sight.

When I was a kid, there was a huge open field across the street from where I lived. It backed up to the rear yards of the houses on that side and stretched the entire length of the neighborhood. It was a magical place fully of whimsy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an enchanted realm all its own. There were walnut trees and wild flowers, clusters of honeysuckle and patches of sun-sweetened strawberries. When dusk settled, my friends and I gathered to watch bats launch from the tops of snarled dark trees. In the winter we donned skates and glided on frozen ground water beneath the full moon. Autumn was perfect for gathering acorns and trekking to the ‘big hill’ that sprouted from the earth like a mythical fairy mound.

Pot of GoldI never did find a leprechaun in that magical kingdom, not that I ever put any great energy into the search. I preferred to imagine one of the wee folk watching from beneath a shaded leaf or a plump toadstool. The problem with magic is that when captured, the enchantment fades. Perhaps that is why leprechauns and pots of gold only exist at the end of rainbows. Rainbows have no end.

I don’t have a drop of Irish blood in my veins – - I’m Italian and German with a smidgen of Brit mixed in – - but I think all of us feel a connection to the Emerald Isle, especially during the month of March. So whether you’re Irish (Hi, Emma!) or just honorary for the day like me, here’s hoping your day is filled with rainbows and the blessings of the wee folk.

Was there place that held magic for you as a child?

Mythical Monday: The Boogeyman and Other Childhood Monsters, by Mae Clair

Childhood days are filled with fun, a time of delight and discovery. But children also have vivid imaginations for conjuring the denizens of make-believe. Like most otherworldly elements, the fantastical is inhabited with beings of light and dark.

Full moonMost of us remember the boogeyman under the bed, a malevolent creature born from the blood of midnight, dust and shadow. When darkness settled, the boogeyman left its realm, oozing to life through the floorboards beneath a child’s bed. We knew better than to dangle a hand or foot over the edge of the mattress. The temptation was a blatant invitation for the boogeyman to “get us.” Although it was never really clear what that amounted to, we knew it would be terrifying.

Trying to convince an adult of the boogeyman’s existence was pointless. Once a light switch was activated, or a parent peered under the bed to reassure us, the boogeyman retreated, seeping back through the floorboards before it could be spied. Clever and ghastly, it wasn’t the only menacing creature to haunt our bedroom.

Kindred of the boogeyman, the closet monster was every bit as sinister. Like the boogeyman it appeared at night, summoned when a closet door was left standing ajar. That crack, no matter how minuscule, summoned it with the lure of slipping into our world. Shut the closet and the monster would be trapped inside. For all its menacing presence, it was powerless to open the door on its own.

bigstock-Silhouette-of-branches-19396952With the closet monster contained and the boogeyman prowling beneath the bed, that left only the dark enchantment born from the night. Wind, moonlight and shadow had the power to turn everyday tree branches into writhing snakes and skeletal fingers. When those same grasping fingers tapped against night-blackened window panes, we knew the danger lurking outside actively sought a way indoors.

In the morning, the touch of sunlight banished all dark creatures to their shadow-draped warrens and we could almost believe the danger wouldn’t return. Almost. In the bright wash of daylight, darkness and the denizens that inhabited its realm held no power.

We rode bikes, raced across open fields, picked wild strawberries and climbed trees. When dusk fell, we danced with fireflies, told ghost stories and played hide-and-seek. Twilight was magical, nothing to fear. But night eventually settled, forcing us to crawl into bed, certain the boogeyman had returned.

Somehow, despite all the ghoulish creatures that wanted to “get us,” we emerged from childhood unscathed. In time, we reached an age where they no longer existed, and ceased to trouble our sleep.

Maybe it’s just me, but dangling my hand over the edge of the bed is something that still gives me pause. Even as logic tells me there is nothing down there, I get that shivery sensation that has me snatching my hand back to safety after a short time. Silly? Yes. But a writer’s imagination is every bit as vivid as a child’s. How about yours?

Bet honest. How comfortable are you dangling a hand or foot over the edge of the bed? What nighttime creatures frightened you in childhood?