Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bright Fire-Beltane

Deprived of root and branch and rind, 
Yet flowers I bear of every kind: 
And such is my prolific power, 
They bloom in less than half an hour

Who am I? 

I have to say this is my favorite time of year. Even if it weren’t almost time for my birthday, and Mother’s Day wasn’t just around the corner, I would still be happy, because it is time for Beltane. 

Beltane is my favorite holiday. It heralds the advent of summer, the time of growth. Beltane is the third of the four major holidays in earth based belief systems. Celebrated either on May Eve (April 30th) or May Day (May 1), Beltane, along with its counterpart Samhain (October 31st), divides the Wheel of the Year into its two main seasons, summer and winter.

There are countless May festivities. The making of May Dolls can be traced all the way back to the Roman celebration of the goddess Flora. The Mummers’ play directly descends from traditions of ancient Greece. In pre-Christian Europe, the crowning of the Queen of the May was the highlight of a young maiden’s year. And as late as the eighteenth century, on the Isle of Man, the Queen of the May and the Queen of Winter met in mock battle for the rite to rule the season. 

 May is the time when magical creatures like fairies and gnomes come out to play and work their magic, growing flowers and fruits and bringing bounty to us non-magicals. Many cultures take the time during the May celebrations to encourage the bounty. Herds of livestock were driven between the Beltane bonfires to bless them and make them fruitful. Taking a bit of the Beltane flame to kindle the fire in your home hearth brought blessings and bounty to your home.

Did you know that the hobbyhorse is a creature of the May? The original hobbyhorse was a man dressed in a stylized horse costume who rode out to greet the summer. This festival usually started at the tavern (as all good festivals do) and the horse rode about town giving his blessing to women. A blessed woman who was single would marry during the year and a married woman would have a baby within the year. 

I suppose the most famous May tradition is the Maypole. 

Deprived of root and branch and rind,
Yet flowers I bear of every kind: 
And such is my prolific power, 
They bloom in less than half an hour.

This is how Jonathan Swift described the Maypole. 

The symbol of the return of the spirit of vegetation and the renewal of life, the Maypole was traditionally topped with a wreath representing the fertile power of Nature. Ribbons, an ancient protection talisman, were attached to the pole to ensure the safety of the new season’s growth. The traditional Maypole Dance is both circular and spiral in nature. Male and female dancers circle in and out crossing their ribbons over each other as they go around. It’s not as easy as you may think (Believe me, I know from personal experience).  

In old times, Beltane often ended in a great drinking festival followed by an orgy in honor of the fertility goddess who blessed the land. As Christianity moved through Europe, things got toned down quite a bit. In some places, it even became illegal to put up a Maypole. Yet, in most areas, the customs of May celebrations never died out. In many Celtic lands, the Beltane traditions have been maintained in an unbroken line from ancient days to the present.  

These days, more and more communities in the UK, Canada and the US are holding Beltane Celebrations. If you have the inclination, find a Beltane Festival near you. They are great fun and nearly all are calm enough that you can take the kids along, but check with the coordinating group to make sure. A couple here and there still do end in the ancient style (orgiastic).

Leave a comment about any May experience you’ve had (attending Beltane, meeting with fairies, marching in a May Day Parade, Cinco de Mayo, anything that happened in May) and I will enter you in this week’s contest to win this bag of fiery stones (Amber, Red Tiger's Eye, Citrine, Bifurcated Jasper, Pyrite, and Red Jaspar). 

The winner of the Dragonfly Trinket Box is...


Phyllis please contact me at with an address where you would like your prize sent.

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rose City Romance Writers 2009 Reader's Luncheon

Last Saturday, the Rose City Romance Writers, the Portland Oregon chapter of Romance Writers of America, held their annual Reader’s Luncheon. Each year we donate the profits from the event to a worthy organization that promotes adult literacy. This year we chose The Portland Literacy Council.

Our guest speaker was best-selling author, Lucy Monroe. Since 2003 she has published over 40 books with Harlequin Presents, Berkley , Kensington Brava and Samhain Press  among others. She shared with us a moving speech on how Romance is Educational Inspirational and Entertaining. In a year when our industry is shrinking, our genre is not just strong, it’s growing. 

And not just more women are reading romance, but more men as well. Nearly 22% of male readers, now admit to reading romance. (I think they always did, but are more willing to admit it these days.)  


In a time when everything is taking a downturn, Lucy reminded us that we don’t just entertain, we give hope. More people are turning to the Romance genre to get the feeling of hope that there can be a happy ending. That’s enough reason for me to keep writing, and I’m sure for my talented fellow Rose City Roses as well.

The Portland Literacy Council helps many of the 12,000 adults in the Portland area who can’t read, by finding and supporting tutors willing to help them learn to read. The Council also has a program that helps prepare newly literate adults to take the GED and a scholarship program to help pay the testing fees if that person is unable. Lucy Monroe graciously agreed to make a considerable donation to the Portland Literacy Council Scholarship fund. Thank you, Lucy, for stepping forward to lead the way in tough times.

I attended this luncheon last year and had a wonderful time, but this was my first year as an actual published author. I was so excited. That's me grinning from ear to ear, sitting next to smash hit debut author Delilah Marvelle. Even though I didn’t yet have a book, I signed my promotional materials and I made a special limited edition $15 Visa gift card with the cover of Widow’s Peak on it. I only made 50 and each comes with an autographed special edition greeting card. For each one purchased I am donating $5.00 to the Portland Literacy Council. If you would like to purchase one of these special keepsakes, please contact me at

This week’s prize is a bit special so the contest involves a little bit of research. Name two heroes and their heroines from any of Lucy’s “Agents", "Mercenaries", or "Bad Boys” series.


You can find a list of her extensive catalog on her website at Leave a comment on this post with any two sets of hero and heroine and I will enter your name in this week’s contest to win this beautiful Jeweled Dragonfly Filigree Trinket Box that I got while I was in Wales. Contest ends at 11:59pm on Tuesday, April 28th.


Make sure that I can contact you either through your profile or by leaving an e-mail address. The winner will be announced next Wednesday.


The winner is...

The winner of the Faberge style egg is Kaye Manro. 

The winner of the Dragon Package is Raonaid Luckwell. (I guess being born in the year of the fire dragon does help.)

Congratulations ladies! Please contact me at with an address where you would like your prize sent.

Thanks for following and commenting at Never Too Late For Love


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dragon Lovers

If I could have any pet in the entire Universe, it would be a…DRAGON! As a teen and young adult, I read all of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books and spent many hours sketching dragons during “boring” lectures. I imagined riding at great speed on dragon backs and wrote poems and stories about my own dragon friends. As I became older, my focus turned to business and the outside world and my dragons “disappeared” into the background.

I discovered that dragons have played an important part in history all over the world. In the east, the dragon is a symbol of strength and good fortune. Children born in the year of the Dragon are considered to be specially blessed and destined to do special things. 

The Ming Emperors built the Great Wall of China along a line where a great dragon is supposed to be sleeping. It apparently worked, because China remained unconquered for hundreds of years after the wall was completed. Even today, when building a house in China you might have the chi master come and determine where on your property the dragon sleeps. That’s where you want to build your house.

In Japan, the enchanted sword, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (The Grasscutter Blade) sprang from the tail of Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight headed dragon, when the god Susa-no-o killed the dragon to save Kushinada-hime, the princess with whom the god had fallen in love. According to legend, the sword from the dragon’s tail has been passed from Emperor to Emperor to this very day.

In the western world, the dragon has represented both evil and good. To the English, St George is a national hero. Every school child knows how George slew the dragon. And St George’s day is a holiday where children go to school in fancy dress (that’s costumes for us Americans) and hold a medieval style pageant. 

Fairy tales told of evil dragon’s who ate children for breakfast and guarded vast treasures. Heroic Knights were able to kill them or trick them into giving away their treasures. But some dragons were wise and helpful if a knight could get up enough courage to ask a question or was smart enough to listen to what the great beast said.

Many countries have chosen to be represented by the Dragon.  Henry Tudor (VII) brought the red Welsh dragon to prominence when he took the crown of England 

and the flag of Richard III was blazoned with three golden dragons. In modern day, the flags of Bhutan and Wales carry dragons, as well as the flags of many of the world’s rulers. Emperors, Monarchs, Barons and Earls all want the strength of the dragon to represent them.

My love of dragons waned over the years, but never really went away. In the eighties and nineties, any movie with a dragon in it got me into the theater. Some were great, others were barely worth the time and money. But in the last ten years, my dragon friends have reasserted themselves. 

Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon and I was totally hooked again. (As a writer, I decided not to go see the movie because it would ruin the image of that world I had held in my head for so many years.) Shows from companies as wide ranging as animation studios to the History Channel have focused on dragons. 

At a local swap meet, I “accidentally” found four dragon friends who just had to come home with me.

And when I got mauled by my insane Bengal Cat, who turned out to be the perfect tattoo to cover the scar that went all the way around my leg? A dragon of course. 

Every so often they appear in my dreams. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time for me to pull out that tale about a dragon shape shifter I started a few years ago. 

Tell me about your experiences with dragons (real or fictional) and I’ll enter you in this week’s contest to win this Medieval style Dragon Pendant and Celtic Dragon Bookmark.


Monday, April 13, 2009

I've found it!

Here's this years addition to my spring egg collection. You can win one just like it by leaving a comment on one of the Egg related posts.

Since it took so long to find this beauty, I'm extending the contest deadline to 11:59pm on Friday, April 17th.

Plus check out the new contest starting on April 15th. In honor of my first month of blogging, I am running contests each week in April. Check back to see what I'm rambling about and maybe win a cool prize too.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter is just a few days away, so I thought I’d chat about one of my favorite topics, Eggs.

Since I was very young I’ve been fascinated by eggs. I can recall at the age of three or four finding a bird’s nest that was blown from a tree during a storm. The nest held two pale blue robin’s eggs.  

They were so beautiful that I wanted to keep them, but my grandmother explained to me that they were somebody’s babies and that Momma Bird was probably sad and worried that they were missing. I climbed up in the tree and grandma handed me the nest to put back safely on a secure branch. Right around Easter time, I heard the high pitched cheeping of newborn baby birds. I thought of them as my babies too. Since then, Easter time has always been my favorite holiday and I started collecting eggs.

Over the years, I have learned a lot about eggs. Nearly every ancient civilization venerated the egg as the birthplace of both gods and men. Whether they called it the Cosmic Egg, the World Egg, or the Womb of the Great Mother, the egg shape represented creation in both Eastern and Western belief systems. To the Egyptians, the golden egg represented the sun, laid each morning by the goddess Hathor (in Western cultures she became the goose).  In the Old Ways, eggs represented rebirth and renewal. 

Ostera, the celebration of the Spring Equinox was an important holiday in the Celtic tradition. The festival not only celebrated the returning light of the sun, but also honored the egg goddess Eostre (after whom the Christians named their spring holy day). Strange though it may seem, it was during the ancient Ostera festivals that bunnies (which I also collect) became attached to eggs. The myth goes that the March Hare wanted to impress Eostre, so he painted a beautiful egg and presented it to her at her festival. The goddess was so pleased with the gift that she wanted all the children to have one also. She put the March Hare in charge of creating the beautiful gift eggs and thus the Eostre Bunny was born.

Decorating eggs can be as simple as dipping warm eggs in natural dies such as beet juice, blueberry juice, or saffron water to create a range of pastel colors. On the other end of the spectrum are the beautiful jewel encrusted Faberge style eggs. I have all kinds of eggs. Crystal. Wood. Paper. Metal. Glass. Ceramic. Plastic, Stone. All kinds. I even have a dinosaur egg that I found on an archeological dig I did one summer. I try to find at least one new egg every year.  Some years they are plentiful and I have to stop myself from buying them all. Other years, like this one, the one that belongs in my collection doesn’t show up until the very last minute. I’m still looking for this year’s prize. But here are a few more from of my current collection.

I love spring because of the sense of renewal I feel when plants start to bloom and birds start nest-building to lay their eggs. Leave a post about what this wonderful season means to you? I would love to hear some of your favorite springtime memories whether they are related to flowers, bunnies, or eggs. Leave a post about spring and I will enter you to win an egg just like the one I add to my collection this year. I’ll pick a winner next Wednesday, April 15th. Someone will have good news on tax day!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

And the winner is...

Jessa Slade!

Thanks everyone for taking this wonderful trip with me. I learned all kinds of interesting information about, castles, Wales, the history of the UK...

From now on, I'll be blogging weekly with new posts on Wednesday. I'll share what I found out (historical and more) as well as talking about some of my favorite things. And you never know when a surprise guest might show up. 

As an added bonus of my trip, until I run out of souvenirs from my travels, I will run a monthly contest around some holiday or event in that month. 

So check back weekly to see what I'm musing about. Maybe win a cool prize. Maybe meet someone interesting.   

Next Time: One of my favorite things-- Eggs