First-dates, Cards, and Oatmeal-Lemon Creme Bars

You’ll remember these beauties from this post:

I told you then that I smelt a tutorial, and though it’s not Tuesday, I’m bringing you a “how to” with “How to impress your family and friends with a delicious dessert, sans blood, sweat, and tears.

Woo! That was a mouthful.

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Poet. Poem. Poetry. Prose.

I didn’t realize this, but April is National Poetry Month.

Poetry: the topic is not so much as important, as the freedom to bend and shape it.

For me, writing poetry is an outlet. I go there when I cannot sleep, when my soul is restless and weary, reverent and grateful, or simply inspired to say something that refuses to reveal itself within conventional understanding.

Unlike writing commercial fiction, poetry affords liberties and gratuitous indulgences, allowing the writer to spread those wings hidden beneath the plumage of her everyday attire. The restrictions and confinements are only those the author arbitrates. And in my poetry — whether I be reading or writing it — there no restrictions. All is fair, just so long as what is written is done so with integrity and behooves the reader/writer, alike.

With that said, and lest I shock a few of you, I should tell you that the writing you’ll find below isn’t the norm; though I am the woman who sing praises to the One who loves me Divinely, equally, I am the woman who writes of the one she calls husband. Passion takes many forms; it is impartial, favoring neither the provocateur, nor the christian. I believe there is a misconception that passion cannot share a bed with morality. It can, and I do. There is lust and there is love, and passion fuels them both. I, however, choose to funnel mine through love.

This poem was written for a contest judged by the Poet Laureate himself, Billy Collins. The only precept was that it must start with the sentence “I want to play in a band.”

It received the honor of third place, and I am very proud to share it with you.

Have a wonderful day, everyone.

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I Hear You Knocking

Recently I finished reading “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen. I cannot tell you how good it felt to finish a book in its entirety. The fear I might possibly have resorted to reading the same ten books for the rest of my life was a bit disconcerting. Then again, do Eliot’s or Dickinson’s poems ever grow trite with repetition? Does heroism, true love, adventure, or the defeat of Good and against evil become a burden to read?

As expected, “Garden Spells” was a lovely read, leaving me completely satisfied as the story drew to a savory close; loose ends tied, plot neatly extricated, characters grown and developed people, having risen above what or whom hindered them from love and happiness. This isn’t another post about how wonderful a writer I believe Sarah Addison Allen to be, however. Not directly, anyway.

Do you remember my mentioning Sarah’s penchant for endowing each of her characters with a “thing” ? Well, I reached no further than eight pages before I was introduced to Evanelle (For those of you fretting a spoil, I assure you this will not impair the unraveling of this character’s quirk.) Waverly. Evanelle Waverly is, perhaps, my favorite character in this book; though I don’t believe she would be considered a M/C.

Evanelle is well into her seventies, nearly eighty, and we are told, looks to be about a hundred a twenty. This numerical inconsequent is superimposed by her spunk, tenacity, and a bawdy predilection for firm — male — tushes. *smiling* What’s not to love about a dirty old lady, right? Evanelle is also clever, intelligent, compassionate, feisty, and accursed with urges. We all have been there. In fact, just the other night — or was it morning by then? — I was laying in bed reading, my husband’s snores rustling the picture frames against the walls, and suddenly I was overcome with a compelling desire; one that led me tiptoeing down the hallway, past the doors of my slumbering family-members, and into the pre-dawning kitchen.


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A Wingless Bird

We are a people easily inspired.

Should we be in the mood for something to encourage or uplift, it seems we need not exert ourselves beyond the click of a button. Pictures, music, clothing, food — it’s all there for our immediate access. In youth, inspiration is somewhat of a capacious, ethereal thing; it changes and morphs as rapidly as we do. Chance encounters, unfortunate circumstances, a generous accolade, a supportive parent — these experiences mold, shape, and respectively define what we consider to be inspirational.

What I find exceptionally grand is how, such as a match beneath brush, inspiration can ignite us, propel us upward and onward, all toward something that was otherwise not thought possible or attainable. Haven’t we all seen how even the unlikeliest of candidates found his or or her way after being “inspired” by a person, place, moment or thing. Truth be told  — and this shall be expanded upon in the dedication of Awakening Foster Kelly — I am only a writer only because my husband called me one first. I was given the name Cara at birth, the name Olsen in marriage, and the name writer by someone who saw something in me I never would have seen myself. True story.

For the most part, however, as we grow older, our successes and failures begin to outline a future; our goals align, usually, with what we are capable of achieving. Depending on what gifts we do or do not possess, our innate predilections, and the resources available to us, we will pursue our goals with alacrity, so long as there is enough reason and justification to do so.

Now, of course, there are those dauntless sorts who see steep snowy peaks as welcome challenge and benighted fathomless depths as great adventure; I am not one of these amalgams, though I am very much inspired by you. Write a blogpost and bring back pictures, please. Thank you.

I was inspired by something — or rather, I should say someone — this morning. But before I introduce you to a man you might already know of, I thought I would leave you with a few pictures that I imagine many of you, being the impassioned, focused, dedicated people you are, will endorse with pleasure and agreeability. Hopefully.

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Rescue Me, Literature!

Ask anyone; I am notorious for administering active euthanasia on a weekly basis.

Oh, gosh, no! On books! Not people.

As far as I can remember, it’s always been this way. I’m terribly fastidious — about everything. Usually, I put on hold an amount of no less than three books; that way, when one is a stinker, I can move right into the next. Lately, though, this hasn’t been working so well. Last week, I was thrilled to see the “pick up” notification pop into my inbox. When Dear Michael arrived home from the library with two freshly unread books tucked into the crook of his arm, I got that feeling. You know the one I speak of, yes? Magic. That all over tingling sensation at the anticipation of potential greatness and inspirational prose. The deep pull in the pit of your stomach as you lift the binding to your nostrils and breathe deeply, hoping, praying, that what’s printed inside speaks to your heart and soul, but if not both, let it be at least one, please! Please!

It didn’t happen.

I tried. Really, I did. I forced myself to read three chapters (Normally the quota is 100 pages.) and shifted uncomfortably the whole way through, like fire ants were infiltrating my breeches or something. When I could endure it no longer, it was with a lugubrious heart, I offered a silent and final goodbye as I laid the book to rest in the coffin, er . . . on the nightstand. R.I.P.

Though I hope it isn’t always so, there remains to be only two writers capable of holding my attention throughout an entire novel. Oddly enough, their writing styles couldn’t be more different. Or their genres, for that matter. One writes Historical Romance, the other Magical Realism; however, they both write with color; with a stunning array of textures and dimensions, with a prowess that makes me weep with celebration tears.

This, I say to myself, is how good I must be.

So, just who are these woefully wonderful writers? My ardent love is split equally between the non-quantifiable talents of Mrs. Diana Gabaldon, and the story-weaver provocateur Ms. Sarah Addison Allen.

~ Outlander

~ The Sugar Queen

Diana’s Outlander series has forever ruined reading for me. It is only my opinion, but before encountering her canonical works, never had I the pleasure of reading anything with such depth and devotion. I can say, without one iota uncertainty, that I know her characters better than I do a few member of my own flesh and blood. Every line is vivid, every description complete; sights, sounds, smells, tastes — she gives you all of them, copiously. Overwhelming at times, Diana imparts an arbitrary authorization that often times leaves you wanting to shout “Mercy!” for the sake of gallant Jamie’s viciously bruised body. When she’s not putting one of her characters into imminent danger, she is spellbinding you with an intimacy that leaves no desire unmet, no sensation unfelt. I do not mean this strictly in the lascivious sense; though, none is more qualified to curl your toes and send prickles roaming up your spine than Diana. I simply mean, she is candidly heartbreaking, opulently bestowing on you real, carnal emotions. She saves nothing for the imagination. I love this. This may come as a surprise, but I have a terrible imagination. And . . . you’re . . . a writer? Well, yes, but — reading and writing are not the same things. Anyway. My desire, purely as reader, is to be offered all seven courses at once. Lay it on me. I don’t want to have to squinch my eyes and search out the description in my sleep-fogged state. Thrill me, woo me, and sate me. I don’t want to work for it.

Have you read anything of hers? If so, I would love to hear your opinions.

Now Sarah is less flamboyant and overt in her strategies for captivating an audience; she comes at you at angle not quite familiar. You almost want to hold the book a few inches away and read askance until you can be sure she’s not about to do something horrible in one devastating line. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that lines such as “And then he died.” are frequent patrons in her books. “Wha? . . .” You kinda sit there and goggle stupidly before deciding you’ll keep reading even if you are angry incredibly cross with her. At times, Sarah gets to the point rather quickly; however, she somehow manages to enchant you with the simple but uniquely whimsical details. Other times, she drops a bit of clue here, a dollop of hint there, all to come together blissfully at the end of the story. Every one of her characters has “a thing”. I can describe it no better than that. You’ll just have to read and see what I mean.

I know I’ve enjoyed myself when, after completing a book, I delay in moving for a moment, wanting to prolong the ephemeral content for as long as possible. All too soon, I know that I must emerge from the bathwater gone tepid, with only the hope that another skin prickling submersion into decadence will take place soon.

I adore these women, and even though I purposely buy and don’t read their work until I’m so desperate for something that moves me, I know eventually I will run out of fresh stories to read.

Here is my request: what are your favorite fiction books? Favorite authors? Have you ever been so utterly engrossed in a story, transported to a place where the people are as real as raindrops, and you’re positively mournful when you must say goodbye to these fictional characters? This is the book I want to read.

Have a great day, everyone!