Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Music of Sacred Lakes by Laura Cowan

Every so often, I am asked to review a book.  When Laura Cowan, author of Music of Sacred Lakes, wrote about her book, I didn't hesitate to say yes.  

Music of Sacred Lakes intrigued me on several levels.  First, it is the tale of a young man who has lost his way after a major tragedy.  Second, he finds himself through the guidance of Native American wisdom.  Third, it takes place in a part of the US that I knew well.

As I read this epic, I was touched by how carefully Laura incorporated Native wisdom.  At times, her writing is poetic, especially when describing the mysticism of the Lake.  In addition, her characters are all entirely believable.  I felt I knew them - could recognize them if we ever met.  To me, this is great writing!

There are lessons to be learned in this book; it is not simply a tale to entertain.  Laura weaves wisdom throughout the story that holds true today as it did centuries ago. This is a great book for anyone who is struggling as well as for anyone who wants to read well written fiction.

I am so grateful to Laura Cowan for sharing Music of Sacred Lakes with me! 


Author's Bio:

Laura K. Cowan writes imaginative stories that explore the connections between the spiritual and natural worlds. Her work has been compared to that of acclaimed fantasy and sci-fi authors Ursula K. Le Guin and Ray Bradbury, but her stark and lovely stories retain a distinctly spiritual flavor. Laura’s debut novel The Little Seer was a top 5 Kindle Bestseller for free titles in Christian Suspense and Occult/Supernatural, and was hailed by reviewers and readers as “riveting,” “moving and lyrical.” Her second novel, a redemptive ghost story titled Music of Sacred Lakes, and her first short story collection, The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen, received rave reviews. Laura’s short stories also appear in a number of anthologies, including the charity anthology Shades of Fear, and the upcoming historical horror anthology Sins of the Past, the rather ridiculous soon-to-come PANTS! anthology, and the completely absurd upcoming Faery Tale Therapy. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, or connect with her at laurakcowan[at]gmail.com or on her website LauraKCowan.com.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Painting Words of Hope

As I have said many times before, poetry is painting pictures with words.  Like any art, the more ones practices the better one gets.  Often, my students will tell me that it is too difficult to write poetry; however, I remind them that everything in life can be difficult, until we learn to make it our own.

So, this past month, I had some of my ESOL students write haiku...the results were so beautiful that I created a newsletter with the pictures they used as prompts along side the haiku they wrote.  Needless to say, they were impressed with the fact that they could write something good enough to go into print.  So, begins their personal journeys into creative writing!

This is the poem I wrote for my students - my heroes - who struggle against so many odds to learn English.

Safe Haven
They come beaten and battered by the storm 
of dictatorial lies and systematic cruelty, 
looking for the promised asylum offered by 
the great colossus mother, who stands 
firmly astride the path of freedom. 

They come carrying lives wrapped in pain - 
packed away in fear and folded into memories, 
hoping for a second-chance life in the land 
freedom and justice crafted for those who 
believed in democratic dreams. 

They come to jobs left empty by privilege 
to wash and scrub the plates of entitlement, 
mowing lawns generated by wealth – 
caring for the forgotten, 
until, like those who came before them, 
following freedom’s dream, 
they are proudly wrapped in the mantle 
of star-striped promises and opportunity. 

© 2014 Linda M. Rhinehart Neas 

May we all remember when we were new to this land of opportunity and the struggles that we encountered and may we be brave enough to help those new to those struggles, giving them a hand to raise them up, rather than push them down.


Monday, April 14, 2014

The Power of One

Often, I have thought and written about the power of words as well as the power of one person to make a difference...to change things.  The image of the ripple effect is used to show how Grace can touch one, then, radiate out to touch the multitudes.  

This week, I want to share a story and a poem.  The story was sent to me by my daughter, who is now nurturing daughters of her own. Together with her sisters, we have had many discussions on the recent trend to dress little girls (as young as infants!) in clothes that are totally, to us, inappropriate.  Don't get me wrong, I am not a prude, but seeing an infant in a black sequined diva dress, to me, sends the wrong message, as do the tight short shorts and skimpy tops for seven and eight year old girls. So, the following article was proof that even the little girls know that they are being exploited! (Click here to go to the article.)

Next up is a poem that also talks about the power of one and what I would do, it I had THE power.  This is from the Poem-a-Day challenge with Robert Lee Brewer on Writer's Digest.

If I Were the Power 

Things would be different - 
words meant to heal would turn a phrase 
into balm, washing over the sores caused 
by injustice, disease and pain. 
No one percent in my little world, 
all would equally enjoy the fruits of life - 
liberty and justice for all not merely 
a dream but a reality painted in humanity - 
rich dark chocolate, coffee latte, smooth mocha, 
butte red, buttery buff and vivacious vanilla - 
each tone, each shade unique in its own hue. 
If only I had the power to change hearts 
frozen by ego or greed or lack of tender hands 
gently guiding, the world would spin to the rhythm 
of ethereal music, cruising through space and time 
a shining example of the difference one could make 
if only they were power.

© Linda M. Rhinehart Neas 2014 

May we all see that we make a difference in this life...even when that difference is only to one person. May the ripples of our kindness, our creativity, our willingness to be there touch to the ends of creation and beyond.  Namasté!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vincent and I

 Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
Public Domain - Wikimedia Commons

Those that know me well, know that I have loved Vincent Van Gogh since childhood.  As a little girl, I believed that Starry Night was painted for me.  No one could dissuade me of this fact.

So as an adult poet/writer, it is not surprising that often my work become entwined with his.  Here are a few examples for your reading pleasure.

Alive with Color 
Like Vincent, I too am “alive with color.” 
With the artist’s eyes, 
I see the purple dark, 
Brightened by spiraling gold light. 
No monochrome existence - 
No shade of gray subsistence. 
I am a tropical village, alive 
With turquoise and salmon, 
Buttercup and lilac - 
Tones of singing color - 
Unafraid of my rainbow palate life, 
I paint the world! 

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2014 

Vincent’s Sky 

In a life, long before now, 
you painted swirling lines of fire, 
scattered across a landscape 
of purple and blue. 
Your palate alive with opposites - 
Your brush creating words 
only the heart could read. 
Gifted master of untouched space, 
did you journey into the void 
in order to bring me this canvas 
filled with waking dreams – 
filled with illusory hopes - 
filled with the nomadic contemplations 
of a mind whirling into illusion? 

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © 2014 

Your work forms 
a kaleidoscope of emotions - 
Sunflower joy 
illuminates the soul, 
like a white iris 
in a sea of blue, 
You stand - 
the sweetness of your soul 
hidden by the masses. 
The beauty of your touch 
fills blank space 
with whirling stars of light - 
winding through the groves of humanity.
You capture images of light and dark, 
space and form -
only to free them on canvases 
of perpetual vision. 

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas © York, ME 2000 


I was just a girl 
      when first we met. 
Your blazing Sunflower mornings
       Starry, Starry Nights 
filled my imagination - 

You took me 
      far from the brick 
and pavement of the city-

You opened 
      the door to dreams. 

I was just grown 
      when first I stood 
deep within the Olive Groves. 

Quiet conversations 
       on the Terrace Café at Night - 
             wind swept mountains 
and winding paths 
        led me home -
to you. 
© Linda M. Rhinehart Neas York, ME 1996  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring Fever and the Poem a Day Challenge

 A wee bit of green pushing through 

Well, dear readers, I have to admit that I have had an acute case of spring fever over the past month.  Just have not been able to get out of my own way, but, the good news is...I am over it!

The medicine I used to snap me back into writing mode is the Poem a Day Challenge - Thank you Robert Lee Brewer!  I am so excited to be crafting poems each day that I feel once again the creative juices flowing.

So...Happy, happy Spring!  Here are a few new poems to start off April with...enjoy! 

the beginning was difficult 
water on cement 
nothing getting through 
panic – I begin again 
the middle seemed sufficient 
a spark to kindling 
something was happening 
caution – I continue onward 

the end made my day 
a garden in full-bloom 
thoughts begin connecting 
joy – I end class 

4-1-2014 © LMRN 

To Travel 

Bird song, my whistle - 
The garden, my carriage - 
Spring sun - all the energy I need 
to travel into the land of the bards 

Like a fairy, I fly high into Imagination, 
landing in Possibility, just a breath away from Doubt 
but safe in the Valley of Hope. I 
meander along Love's babbling brook - 
saunter over the sidewalks of Wonder and Awe, 
until I find a bench overlooking the Land of Muse 
where I sit, meditating the dreams of a poet's heart. 

 ©2014 LMRN 

Family history often comes 
 in the snippets found by purest accident. 
Born at sea was what auntie's birth certificate read, 
but, I had never know the story 
that, now, was too late to learn - 
something in my writer's mind won't let it go, though - 
Imagine - 
During the upsweep of wave, 
during the rock and roll of la mare, 
the natal journey begins - a journey within a journey! 
Then, somewhere just off shore, 
the crescendo of wind, water and woman, 
meet to expel a child, who will forevermore 
be a daughter of the Neptune, 
not of Mother Earth. 

© 2014 LMRN