Tag Archives: peak experience

An Oregon Kind of Love


As my new novel, Epiphany is being edited, I read and re-read it and let myself sink back into my own experiences that are the basis for what my character, Lori does and feels. My love poem to Oregon  appears on the last page. I wrote it to thank God, Oregon, and the friends and enemies I met, for teaching me more about love. Here are the last two stanzas of

“Love is too Small A Word”
For the gift of riding
Bucephalus unbridled
Singing quicksilver music
Soaring astride freedom
With no strings at all
No strings at all

Love is too small a word
For the light that shatters aloneness
And sets the universe spinning
Desire completing the circle
With no end at all
No end at all


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.


Invictus: An Epiphany For Holy Week

Photo by Mega Mike  https://www.flickr.com/photos/topick/6342953521


I am the Master of my fate. I am the Captain of my Soul.”

An unconquerable soul! Now there’s a theme especially appropriate for Easter time! In my new book  Epiphany, (presently being edited) Lori our protagonist, struggles with this larger than life concept. And, in the light of forgiveness, she glimpses the meaning. Sometimes that moment when it all makes sense passes us by, but we remember that it is there—waiting for us to be ready to know it. And so, Lori, obedient to my writing, prints out a card:  I am the Master of my fate. “I am the Captain of my Soul.” and keeps it with her.
Consider this: she has printed out the last two lines, but there is more to this poem and a story about the Author, William Ernest Henley.  At age 12, Henley had a leg amputated just below the knee due to arthritic tuberculosis and his other foot barely saved by surgeries. He lost his father as a teenager.  And so, his poem begins:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Before he knew his real strength, he had been brought down and severely tested. The façade we all live behind, trying to protect our weakness, was broken by the “bludgeonings of chance.” This same sort of thing has happened to many of our great spiritual teachers. Shamans and healers often have suffered near-death experiences before they find their power. Notice the dreaded tarot card the Tower depicting this soul level journey.
It is useful to remember that the Tarot is divided into Major Arcana (the journey of the soul) and Minor Arcana (the drama of the embodied).
The horrific happenings in Henley’s life gave him the experience to  write about his own unconquerable soul, found at the depth of his pain.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Like the captain of a ship is responsible for his decisions: the course he charts, the skills he learns and uses, he must also surrender to the mood of the ocean, the tides, the storms and catastrophes that befall him. But can these things destroy him? Henley says no.
If I were to distill all I have experienced, thought, and written, into a single sentence, the last two lines of Invictus would be it. Indeed, my character Lori keeps these words with her. Yes, the experience that spurred Henley to write this poem is profound, and is still beyond my grasp except as a glimpse. I can thank my own suffering of wrath and tears for this illusive epiphany.  But, I shrink and shiver at the idea of Christ’s crucifixion to rise again. Maybe at the end of days for me,  I can wrap my mind around it. Let it flow through me to hold it tight to me. Ah—the paradox we call life.

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.

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.

Blog Tour

image: http://www.growingagreenfamily.com/move-childhood-back-outside-this-summer/

TIME OUT! Time to look at how we write, what we write and WHY WE WRITE!  PJ Reece, author, speaker, writer of the Meaning of Life Blog, and inspiration to all of us in the Mazatlan Writer’s Group, writes about his process at http://www.pjreece.ca/blog/wordpress/category/blog/   PJ, author and adventurer, uses his Blog  to invite us on a journey led by desire to the heart of the story.  Like Garth Brooks who claims that
Life is not tried, it is merely survived, If you’re standing outside the  fire,”
PJ’s protagonists are those “who have to dance within the flame, who chance the sorrow and the shame, that always comes with getting burned.” 

Garth Brooks and Jenny Yates, December 1993.

But wait. How connected is a writer to his protagonist? Is PJ proposing that author and protagonist enter the dark heart of the story together?  And what about the reader?  Just as my mind opened to the dimension of that idea,  PJ tagged me to be next to answer the 4 questions posed on a Blog Tour—to have the next  dance within the flame.
I worked at accumulating and keeping things most of my life—not at writing. But looking back, I realize there have been moments of transcendence that couldn’t be earned, made to happen, scheduled, or be deserved. Like Magic Doors, they are passed through, perhaps without being noticed. Called “insightful, spiritual, meaningful, transformative, or “peak” experiences, I decided to write about these “watershed moments”-yours, mine and ours, since they cross over the ordinary into another realm. How exciting is that!! Magic! This Blog called “Portals to the Unforgettable” is at www.susancarnes.worpress.com .You are reading it now. My other blog is about the healing power of creative expression. Go to http://www.skcarnes.com to find my paintings, books, and some poetry. If creativity has brought you healing, solace or joy, consider signing up and sharing.
What am I working on?   Leaving my Midwestern farm life behind, I crossed the Continental Divide westward, even as I crossed the boundaries of guilt, shame and fear into a new life of risk. Discovering the pot at the end of the rainbow makes a great story and I am presently writing it. Yes, another novel! Although it is essentially my story and true from my point of view, I do digress, so a memoir it isn’t! But this new historical novel, nameless at present, is aiming at being a love story, a mystery, full of action, danger, regret, joy, you know, all the spices of life presented in my voice which I am presently honing on my blog. Do you like poetry that doesn’t make you feel ignorant, but wiggles in sideways, and calls out your understanding almost by accident? I hope so. I seem to use the Taro archetypes everyone relates to. Also, I am aware of being carried along. Sometimes, I just sit down and the words come. Then I get to rewrite and that is so much fun. It is like painting a picture, choosing the colors by what feels right.

  1. How does my work differ from others of its genre?   I think I have spent so much of my life alone or in the company of animals that I cook up punch that is flavored by the wilderness, impassioned by stallions, mournful as the cry of a sheep stuck in the briars, has a touch of awesome like the Northern Lights, is barren and windswept and sometimes lush as a pool in the rainforest. Of course it is different, for it filters through me, and I am practiced at not fitting in, having long kept my own company. But to my astonishment, when I read my work to my Writers Group, they nod in understanding. Could it be my punch is made from waters we all tap into, like a deep-down brook that runs through us? Listen to John McCutcheon’s “Water From Another Time”, and you will discover this wellspring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUeEvMSlpFI

Why do I write what I do?   I have this idea/dream that we are all on this ship together and looking at the passing scenery, but only from our own porthole. Now, when we share what we see, the view gets bigger.  Maybe the word I should use is “compelled.” I am compelled to write it down, to share my view just as Garth Brooks has in this centermost stanza of his hit song, also quoted above.http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/garthbrooks/standingoutsidethefire.html 

There’s this love that is burning
Deep in my soul
Constantly yearning to get out of control
Wanting to fly higher and higher
I can’t abide
Standing outside the fire

  1. How does my writing process work?   I wake up in the night-sometimes at 2:00 sometimes at 5, and instead of going back to sleep, I get up and write. Then with daylight comes chores and obligations, but during the day things come to me and I jot down ideas to chew on. Sometimes, when I am out walking, I get a notion and it sort of marinates, but if it doesn’t go away, I have to write on it. Getting it out in words satisfies the muse, but so far, I hear her calling me onward over a new Continental Divide to the unknown. I have always loved exploring.

An introduction to C.Michaels who joined our Mazatlan Writer’s Group, and soon began sharing her knowledge of self publishing and networking, all the while finishing her three suspense novels.  She now writes a column for the Pacific Pearl along with her blog. Keeping the reader guessing, Michaels is currently writing a smart thought provoking novel, the first of a series, called Casual Women, in which Maddy encounters some merciless characters in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. How will C.Michaels answer the 4 questions of the Blog Tour? Ahh-tune in for a revealing session with the empress of intrigue in one of Mexico’s most fascinating cities.

cover of The Way Back
New novel: The Way Back

Order the Historical Novel by S.K. Carnes,  The Way Back, recently released in all e-book stores.     To find it on Amazon, go to http://bit.ly/SoldiersJourney



Once upon a time, I accompanied my sons to a community dance. There was a young man taking tickets; I gave him mine, smiled and sat down.  No one asked me to dance of course, but I danced with each of my boys—embarrassing them. He walked over. He stopped alongside, met my eyes-green to blue, leaned close, and said three words, “you are lonely.” I was stunned. It was 37 years ago, so out of place in those days, and so out of character for him; why he was shy and younger then me by 14 years. I said nothing, but his empathy changed my life.
Empathy opens up the door
To “not alone” any more.
What bliss, what joy, and what a ride
When feelings become verified
I saw it happen sometimes in treatment for alcoholism. Using an “old style” the counselor, with the tenacity of a bulldog, shakes the man by the throat with harsh truth, shattering his wall of pretenses, leaving him lying broken, weeping and defenseless. This particular time, when he was satisfied that his client’s facade of denial was broken, the counselor nodded at me and left the room. When I spoke, it was not me speaking but something through me; using words I didn’t think of, I whispered to the man what he needed to hear.  He cried in my arms, begging me to “say it again,…tell me again.” It was the beginning of his recovery.
Empathy sets feelings free
When someone cares enough to see
The shameful thing you’ve tried to hide
Takes your hand, stands by your side
The doctor in charge of the Chronic Pain Center asked each of his therapists to assist him in his “special procedure,” choosing between us as he saw fit. When he asked me for the first time and I agreed, it was a trip to another dimension. The patient was lying on a table; Dr. Neil began with therapeutic touch as if it was to be a massage. But Neil was practiced in knowing, and when he reached a place—different for each patient—a place where some memory lay sleeping, he woke it with sensitive fingers and words that called it by name. How did he know? Neil could not have explained that. But with the touch and empathy, feelings, long locked away, burst forth in shouts and screams that terrified me, and then came sobs of shame and grief. Captivated, I helped by speaking what needed to be said, although I didn’t know any such words. When it was over, the patient left much relieved. I was trembling and white. Neil said, “shake the energy off-it does not belong to you,” and he showed me how to do just that—for my sake, and so that he could get back to being himself.
Overcome by senseless pain
Despairing to be well again
Who would think that he could be
Healed with words of empathy


I defy fear to look over the edge
from my high climb,
Gripped tight by the spell that turns my courage
into a pillar of salt.
A breeze riffles the surface of the drowning pool
below me.
“Listen”, it whispers.
I hear only my wildly beating heart.
“Breathe”, it sighs,
and my legs stop their melting.
Unreasoned fear dissipates,
and I take a step forward
on the balance beam of life.
“Stay with me I cry-hold my hand.”
But like quick silver you are gone even as I try to catch on to you.
Shed joyful tears of knowing,
Gladly given,
Freely flowing,
From the everlasting wellspring of the Grail.
Sweat stings my eyes.
The work is almost more then I can bear:
dirty, tedious, heavy, and cruel.
Til a spring rain comes washing out my winter of “too hard.”
Hear the sun singing in a puddle of snow,
beaming a song I know but can’t recall.
Round rolls the melody with the words,
spinning a memory
just beyond my reach.
Come the tears of joyful knowing,
Gladly given,
Freely Flowing,
From the everlasting wellspring of the Grail.
Sometimes, in a watercolor world of happenstance,
the shapes run together just right,
as if a magic hand was arranging them.
And I know, because I can’t repeat it when I try.
And sometimes, in a wide open smile,
or in the passion of the dance,
there is this flame that flickers,
and I know, because I cannot light it,
nor can I warm myself by its elusive fire,
for it is too uncommon,
like the reflection of stars across the midnight of my aloneness.
Sweet the tears of joyful knowing
Freely given,
From the everlasting wellspring of the Grail.