Category Archives: Preview of Epiphany

Out of Place: Starting Over in Oregon

Place is a major character in many books-certainly in my book, Epiphany. As I look at the themes, the plot and the characters I have written into this book, I discover that the place where it all happens, Oregon, is the melody around which I am fashioning the words. It is the essence of the experience. Here resides excitement, fear, passion, romance, pain, majesty and the stuff dreams are made of. With that in mind, what would a cover for this book, set in Oregon, look like?
Since the book is about a modern day pioneer, I thought the image of where the Lewis and Clark expedition, and also the Oregon Trail,  ran smack into the Pacific Ocean—trails end for “Westward Ho” —was perfect for a cover!
A good cover for Epiphany would depict an insurmountable challenge. Aah, like a huge rock? And also, this cover needs a recognizable symbol of Oregon. How about the heft of Haystack Rock at Canon Beach?
The cover would suggest passion and mystery. How about lightening over the Pacific Ocean? Such a scene would feel wet and wooly and wild.  Aah yes. Western Oregon in all its glory!
Remember, “no matter where you go, there you are. “ Starting over  can be daunting. No wonder the lettering for “Starting Over in Oregon looks shaky, jagged and is obscured by dark clouds in places. Indeed, the font is called “Quake.”
Starting Over in Oregon
And with her back to us, we have our protagonist dressed in a flimsy, old fashioned, straight-laced dress looking at all of this drama. She is out of place! How perfect. And so, here is the cover I envision. I am finishing a review of each chapter, and then it will be edited.
Small Epiphany Book
Are you ready to feel the conflict, the pain of letting go, the fear of the unknown, the romance of the far west? Clearly, if our heroine, out of place as she is, can survive, she will need an Epiphany!
While I chip away at the rock of editing and revising Epiphany, please consider downloading The Way Back from any e-book store, written by S.K. Carnes, me. Here is a review:
“The Way Back: A Soldier’s Journey has something to please any reader – romance, history, adventure, drama, poetry, a quietly epic feel, a magnificently rendered landscape, and eclectic characters unlike any of the ‘ho-hum’ heroes of lesser fiction. Having once entered John Chapman’s world, readers will want to linger, holding close one of the most pure-of-heart and earnestly crafted narratives in recent memory.” —Writers Digest

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.


When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears

I have written Epiphany all the way through, and am currently editing and polishing it. It is easy to see themes in this novel. “Kiss Yourself Goodbye,” is the first line. Certainly the very word “goodbye” elicits visions of letting go and moving on.
Often in my life, I have gotten lessons dealt to me when I most needed them.  Sometimes, my teacher is an image. In the following excerpt,  Lori, the protagonist in my story, choses an archetype from the teachings of Tarot, the Queen of Wands that symbolizes the qualities and strengths she needs to go forward. Notice the pictures on these cards and follow her thinking as she recognizes her own creativity, and begins to use it to inspire her students to use their talents.


Lori looked at what had once been her first choice, the Queen of Cups.  Solitary. Reigning from  a throne embellished by shells, she seemed almost transparent, for  her face was reflective as the sea at her feet, and she gazed with expectation at the golden cup she held, enchanted by its sweet potion. Lori did not wish to drink from her chalice of love. Not today. The aloof Queen of Swords, her blade cutting the air as she coldly contemplated truth did not tempt Lori,  and not even the splendidly adorned Queen of Pentacles, luxuriating in the riches of the earth, interested her. Indeed, having tasted abundantly of the elements of  water, air and the good earth—Lori looked to the fourth queen-the Queen of Wands and the element of fire. She faced forward to the ready, opposing lions of  fire and strength guarded the sides of her throne, and she held sunflowers. Sunflowers bloomed all around her. Why even the wand was coming into bloom.  And the black cat at her feet mirrored magic! “Today,” Lori said, ” This queen is my symbol. The sunflowers, vibrant with the colors of fall, are the harvest I have planted. It is time to shine.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.


The Art of Life: How to Channel Inner Knowing

Above Image: Trees by Mondrian

The first day Lori (our protagonist in my almost finished novel Epiphany) spends in Eugene, Oregon, she purchases a used copy of Magic Doors by John Pearson. The images in his book of photography are all about entering another dimension, perhaps not even noticing the portal passed through to get there. Art is like that.
Next, Lori took lessons in building stained glass and began putting the pieces together that she cut. How did she know what glass to use? What colors? What patterns? She felt her way along and that became her way forward. Life is like that, an art project she could create, and she wanted it to be a masterpiece. Against the advice of her teachers, Lori chose to do a Tiffany designed lamp for her first ever project in stained glass. Why not? How hard can it be—The teachers are present, and the student is ready! And that is the theme for my next blog.
In the meantime, arrange things, put an outfit together, paint a picture, order The Way Back and get to know your inner knowing!

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.


You Teach Best What You Most Need To Learn

How satisfying to help youth dodge some of the obstacles that block the way forward.  And with every triumph, the teacher takes heart. It is a vicarious blooming that happens, a win-win for everyone fueled by the teacher’s need to get it right, and the student’s need for clear headed guidance. But the teacher is drawn to a subject of interest to both of them.  Let me illustrate my point:
Jenny wants to ski the big hill, but is stuck on the bunny slope until she can ski safely, and not be a hazard to others. Lori (our protagonist) never had mastered this skill, but now, working with the Special Olympics, she must teach this child with Downs Syndrome how to ski in control, and in doing so, she learns the very thing she most needs for her own freedom on the slopes. Funny how fate works isn’t it? It is like someone is up there pulling our strings so that we get to overcome shortcomings. Here is an excerpt from Epiphany that tells about the moment it all makes sense:
Lori smiled, remembering Jenny’s face, her pink cheeks wet with melting snow, her wide set blue eyes dancing with insight as she looked at the skiers traversing the slope and said “Oh- Oh I SEE.” It was an epiphany.  Being able to turn and stop meant freedom on the slopes!
Perhaps that is why Lori has become a school counselor helping Elementary School children overcome fear. Could it be that is what she most needs to learn? Have you experienced this phenomena in your own lives? Please comment.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.


The Law of the Universe

“Take What You Want And Pay For It.”

I don’t remember where I first heard this idea, but it was a game changer. When I wrote Epiphany (presently being revised) I realized how much my protagonist, Lori Moyer, believed this phrase. It really says it all and I count it as a major theme for Epiphany. To show the way the Law can work, I made the below image a subtitle for the book.  Here it is fresh out of Photoshop:
BylineStarting over in the West, leaving almost everything and everyone behind, Lori paid dearly. This book is a mixture of humor and angst as she comes to understand the ramifications of the bargain she made. It wasn’t pretty. She had to come to terms with illusion and reality, with who she was, and who she was becoming. What an adventure! Following the Law, she came to realize that payments were not just financial, but emotional, physical and spiritual as well. And so was the path taken, lighted by the notion that she was in charge of her own life. Adopting that understanding can be terrifying. Watch for another theme for my newest book .

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Chronic Guilt: Theme

The above image from

Novel Revision

The first draft of Epiphany is done, and now I am attempting my revision. I wrote Epiphany for me, and it was great fun to write. I laughed and cried allot writing this book. Truly, it showed me the “Epiphany” that freed me, informed me, and sent me off to proceed with my life. But this time, as I go through revising it, I am writing for you, the reader. Hopefully, I will succeed and make this book  both entertaining and meaningful.
Of course, I am identifying some themes in this book. I spent 6 years counseling in a Chronic Pain Center and learned some fantastically useful ideas. This first idea, well, here it is in a poem I spun off this morning. Maybe this is not a great poem, but it gives the jist of one theme I identified in Epiphany. Writing in prose,  guilt is going to be present with choices that break or bend family rules. I don’t mean that the old familial rules are wrong.  But as circumstances change and time passes, rules change too. Of course I am not talking about killing someone or breaking the rules of  society in a radical way like that. But the guilt involved in finding one’s own truth should not go on forever. And if it does, well there is a lie in there somewhere.  It is the same with chronic pain if there is no physical cause.
This poem hints at the theme for my next blog.  Watch for it. And please comment if you have experienced chronic guilt, or succeeded in disarming it.

Chronic Guilt

You must, you should, you have to do
Believe and be and stick like glue
To family ways, the family tree
Tall and clean
Straight and green
You belong to us and not to you.
If you should stray, don’t show your face
We wont allow you to disgrace
Or bring us shame
Our name defame
Or you’ll be banished from this place
When reasons needing rules has passed
Still ball and chain of guilt holds fast
Release the tie
Disarm the lie
Free yourself to learn at last
Create yourself! What lines what hue?
What space defines? Yes think anew!
Be unique
Learn what you seek
And most of all, love your –  you.
It doesn’t happen in a day
Try to learn what you have to say
Art will free
You and me
When you’re all wrong, try another way.
The path you take exacts a price
Pick your road and don’t pay twice
No excuse
To not cut loose
Pay the toll and roll the dice

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

What Does It All Mean?

Image is modified from:

Hoorah! I finished the first draft of Epiphany, my third book and second novel.  That was an accomplishment! Granted, it is full of passionate extremes and lush places to wander and wonder, but it’s entitled Epiphany. Does it live up to it’s name? Did I end up where I was going? Should I smooth out the bumps and delete the detours? Was it worth it? What was this journey like, and what will it be like writing it over?

It takes time.

I know I could have written this faster. But, rereading letters, making contact with friends from my Oregon adventures, musing on long walks, and sometimes, sitting at the computer at 4 AM, putting notion and inspiration into words—all of that and more, takes time. Like saddle breaking a horse, like baking a cake, like learning to play the violin, like listening to music.  I listened to Garth Brooks singing The River.

Trying to learn from what’s behind you
And never knowing what’s in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores…and
I will sail my vessel
Till the river runs dry…

Yes, trying to learn from what was behind me was worth it. Revisiting the haunting beauty of Oregon, and tying up the strings that brought me through heart stopping fear and mountaintop joy, going crazy, stretching the limits of my creativity, seeing clearly now and then. Wow. What a trip! Now I get to do it again, and find better words to honor all those that I met along the way. BTW, as I struggled through the first draft, I learned new wordplays. Here: I’ll show you. First, a simple poem about what I learned in the

 Game of Love.

Take what you want
And pay the price
Give it a shot Come roll the dice

You play the game
And steal the prize
Dodge the blame And pay with lies

Well, here is news
For when you cheat
Yourself you lose
In troubles deep

At the San Miguel Writers Conference, I learned an old form of poetry called a Villanelle. It is also simple—sort of lilting like the pastoral countrysides of Oregon. I wrote this villanelle about the same subject-love gone wrong.  That sounds “country like” doesn’t it?

“Come, lean on me, and warm—my—bed
Embrace my heart and hold my hand,
I’ll love you—forever,” he said.

“You could be hurt, or even dead
But I’ll keep you safe in this wild land
Come, lean on me, and warm—my—bed.”

“We’ll visit sites of which you’ve read,
Nothing’s too big, nothing’s too grand.
I’ll love you—forever,” he said.

“Abandon fears and take instead
My promised golden wedding band.
Come,  lean on me, and warm—my—bed.”

He filled her hands and filled her head
With all she and her God had planned.
“I’ll love you—forever,” he said.

He lied,  and bitter tears she shed
Ore cherished words, like fool’s gold panned:
“Come, lean on me, and warm—my—bed
I’ll love you—forever”, he said.

Oregon itself begs to be a poem.  Have you been there? Can you dream of such a place?

Lions, bears, possums, raccoons
Ravens, eagles, quails and loons
Mountaintops, valleys, cliffs and caves
Waterfalls, pools ‘n ocean waves

As I rewrite Epiphany, a journey into passionate extremes and lush places to wander and wonder, I want to take you along. It turns out this book isn’t about finding the love of my life-it’s about learning to love.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.

Together—Hand in Hand

As I write Epiphany, my third book, I think about the children I met in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains where I worked as an Elementary School Counselor. A 4th grader by the name of Fawn comes to mind. One afternoon she was crouched, rocking herself back and forth outside the Principal’s office, wailing like her life was ending. I scrunched down to be on her level, feeling every sob tear at my heart. What could be so wrong?
“I did it to be pretty,” she sobbed. “I wanted to look just fine.”
“Why Fawn, you are pretty,” I said cupping her wet little face in my hands. And you are just as fine as you can be. What did you do that seems so awful? Did you burn down the school?”
“No,” she sniffled.
“Did you shoot your teacher Fawn?”
“No, she shook her head shedding tears all around, with the slightest smile showing that she wasn’t THAT bad.
“Well, what did you do then?” I asked, mopping her face and the collar of her dress with my handkerchief.
“I stole earings from Marsha Jane. She had ‘em hid and was showin’ off to the other girls in the washroom. So when she went out to recess, I stole ‘em— only Judy saw me. And now I have to see the Principal! I needed them earings to be pretty for my Grandpa.”
“Oh— well come on, I’ll hold your hand and we will go together to see our Principal Marshall Wayne,” I said. “Be brave. Let’s own up to this and take the punishment. Are you ready?” And so, I entered into Fawn’s world of fear and doubt, and found out all about needing to be pretty. After the experience —both horrifying and terrifying— I used the song “Where, I Can’t Find” that Lenore, Fawn’s sister wrote. We wrote it into  an original play we put together and performed. It was about feeling powerless, and not knowing what to do, until—well, sometimes being brave, strong, and hopeful comes only with an epiphany. And that is what we can help to happen for one another—together, hand in hand.

 Where I Can’t Find

When I want to feel like I’m pretty
When I want to look just fine
I’ll find my reflection in the eyes of my someone
Who lives only in my mind
In some far-away place I can’t find.
When I want to do great things
When I want to mend what’s broke
Miracles circle  just out of my reach
That call to me in my mind
From some deeper place I can’t find.
When I want to know the answers
When I want to feel like I’m smart
Bright bubbles of knowing blow by in the wind
That burst when I call them to mind
Float off to where I can’t find.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,

recently released in all e-book stores.

The Novel as Framework for Memories

image cropped from c-hicane-tumblr-com.jpg

Insight About Writing Down Memories

 I find the characters I write about have changed me.

As I write the folks in my novel
Yes, it’s all coming back to me now.
Each one has traits so familiar
Don’t ask me the why or the how.
But each one has stamped me with something!
Time’s passed and they are afar.
Sure’n the writing is making me find in myself
Some part of who they all are.
How did this come round to happenin’
I guess cus we followed our vibes.
And they say we get changed and are different
When we let others into our lives.
We’ve tangled and jumbled each other.
I knew them, their love and their pain.
I felt their sunshine and laughter
And we all got drenched in the rain
‘Cus of them I found my direction
They’re apart and within just the same.
We meet up again in my writing.
My novel sets round them a frame.
When I write, we’re together again.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,

recently released in all e-book stores.

Write Yourself

image is a composite from and other sources

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O’Connor

The Dame in Chapter 23

Life it seems is like a play
Sing and dance and act away.
But, step outside, and it comes clear
The highs, the lows, the sad, the dear.
I write these down, my goings ons
The rights I did, the good, and wrongs.
I make a plot and structure too
For my novel, I think it through
Until at last its polished prose.
A page to start and one to close.
So here it is, my life between
Down to the long lost smithereen.
I agonize in guilt and shame
But through it all I am the dame
Found in Chapter 23
Hiding here-the clue to me.
Find yourself in here too
Write yourself and find your you.

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back,

recently released in all e-book stores.