Are you ready to start writing?! Grab your favorite pen! Fire up your computer!
Writer Site’s Rooted and Winged Writing Contest opens today, Monday, June 27.
Dates: Submit from June 27-July 27
Eligibility to enter: Preorder Luanne’s forthcoming poetry collection Rooted and Winged, cost $19.99, link below (if you already preordered the book, you are exempt from this requirement) by July 15. You may enter as many times as you wish, but a preorder is necessary for each submission.
Award: $250 to contest winner. Finalists will receive Rooted and Winged swag.
Rooted and Winged explores the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. The human imagination will always strive for flight, even as we feel most comfortable close to the earth. Brainstorm images of flight and falling, earth and sky, then write a poem or flash prose inspired by this activity.
Guidelines: Must respond to the prompt; flash prose (fiction and nonfiction) or poem up to 800 words, no name on the piece itself, identify genre in upper case at the top left of the first page (POETRY, NONFICTION, FICTION), identify word count underneath genre.
How to submit: Email doc, docx, or pdf submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Do not include any identifying information on your prose or poem. In the body of the email please include your full name (same as used to preorder Rooted and Winged), as well as your email address. If you wish your writer name to be different from your preorder name, please include that as well. Submissions will be passed on to judges anonymously.
Additionally, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who preorders my book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center. Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener (my partner in crime) and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years. Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.
K.E. Ogden is a two-time judge for the Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Prize and a two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets Henri Coulette Memorial Prize from Cal State Los Angeles. Her debut collection of poems, What the Body Already Knows, is winner of the Finishing Line Press New Women’s Voices poetry prize and is in presale now [[https://tinyurl.com/keogdenFLP]]to be released September 2022. Her poems, essays, and fiction have been published in Kenyon Review Online, Brevity, anderbo, Claudius Speaks, Louisiana Literature and elsewhere, and her plays have been staged at several university theaters. A typewriter lover and avid book artist, her digital quilt piece “My President: A Politics of Hope” was published by writer Gretchen Henderson as part of the “Unstitched States” project [[https://unstitchedstates.com/]] . Ogden lives in Los Angeles where she teaches at Pasadena City College and in the Young Writers at Kenyon program each summer in Gambier, Ohio. Visit her on the web at kirstenogden.com [[https://www.kirstenogden.com]]
Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. BIRDIE looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenage girl committed to an insane asylum. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as freelance editing. Follow her on https://twitter.com/SuanneSchafer, https://www.instagram.com/suanneschafer/ and https://sanneschaferauthor.com.
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Recent fiction publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Her debut poetry collection, “Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance,” was published by Paul Stream Press in September 2021. Learn more about her work at https://lizgauffreau.com.
The beautiful South 85 Journal has published my essay, “Family History,” in the new issue. This creative nonfiction piece is about a violent crime that occurred within my extended family. Writing this has been so difficult, but also necessary. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what happened, so I explored it in this way. I hope you read this piece because the sharing of it also helps me process it all. But a warning: it is about violence and family.
Yes, I’ve been up to my kitty ears with kittens and cats this week. Eight of them. Yesterday, the two smart little hamsters kittens went home with their fully vacationed parents. The two senior cats will be living with us indefinitely. More on those two later. For now, I am exhauserbated.
The poems of Rooted and Winged explore the emotional and physical movement of flight and falling. They are of the earth, the place of fertile origins, and of the dream world we observe and imagine when we look upward. Golems and ghosts that emerge from the ground, as well as the birds and angels that live above us, inhabit the collection. We will always be striving for flight, even as we feel most comfortable closest to the earth.
There are poems about Arizona, California, and the lakes of Michigan. My maternal grandparents are the characters that most inhabit this book.
The poems of Luanne Castle’s Rooted and Winged are embedded in land and weather. “Bluegills snap up larvae in slivers of illusory light,” she writes early in the collection, hinting at the sensibilities of the companionable speaker who will usher us through the book.
—Diane Seuss (2022, Pulitzer for poetry)
Cover art: Leonard Cowgill
If you pre-order . . .
How the book gets distributed is contingent on pre-order sales! SO for the pre-order period, I am donating $5 in the name of each person who pre-orders the book to Liberty Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation center. Two months into the pandemic, we had a red-tailed hawk in our yard. She was unable to fly, and a volunteer from Liberty Wildlife came out to rescue her. I wrote a poem about the incident, which was published in The Orchards Poetry Journal and is in Rooted and Winged. The gardener and I have brought many smaller injured and orphaned birds to Liberty Wildlife over the years. Some of the poems in the book are about the wildlife in our area.
If you place an order for the book, please let me know with your name and email address. That way I can keep track of the pre-orders to make sure my list matches that of the publisher. When the pre-order period is over, I will give the list of names and emails to Liberty. You will then receive an acknowledgement by email of your donation for the birds and bunnies.
As always, I am available for blog interviews and guest posts and would particularly love to set things up for fall when the book is in our hands!
Some of my biggest heroes are people who work in animal rescue. Those who provide sanctuaries or care of cat colonies might be my favorites. Ruth Rawls, who I met years ago when we were both blog posting regularly about genealogy, founded and operates a sanctuary for cats in Georgia. I think you might want to hear about it, so I interviewed Ruth to find out what it’s like taking care of the cats. Listen to how Ruth did what a lot of people say they would like to do if “only” . . . .
Ruth, can you describe the environment and lives of the cats on your property?
The environment is lovely. It’s an acre and a half of mature trees. There are climbing platforms and shelters and feeding stations. The cats spend their days lounging and waiting on the next meal.
What do you know about the backgrounds of the cats?
Originally, I released two cats there in 2007 to start the colony. Those two cats came from a McDonald’s restaurant about 13 miles away, and they and other cats were depending on food from the dumpster. A friend of mine who is also an animal rescuer/rehabilitator delivered newspapers, so she was always out in the wee hours of the night and would stop for coffee. She noticed the cats, called me, she set traps, I transported to the spay/neuter clinic, and then released at the new colony. I named them Catkin and Catnip. They were truly wild, and I rarely saw them again. At the time I also had another cat that I had trapped and named Sylvia because she was going to be sylvan, even though I trapped her at a convenience store. Sylvia was semi-feral, in that you could pet her, but when she was finished with pats, she would grab your arm with all claws extended and hold on, never breaking the skin. Sylvia was heavily pregnant when I trapped her, and after her kittens were old enough, I vetted them and found homes.
Other cats have come and gone in the almost 15 years of the colony, which I named Catcatcher Corner.
There are 8 cats living there now, and the group dynamics have changed from a feral colony to a more domesticated group.
Currently, the oldest cat and oldest resident is Georgia, who came from upstate New York when her owners moved to South Carolina in 2008. They were cat lovers whose income didn’t match their desire to help cats. They moved south with approximately 12 cats, and most of them weren’t spayed or neutered. I took 4 of her female cats, had them vetted, and found homes for the two kittens and kept Georgia and her sister Cali. I estimate Georgia is about 15 years old.
Next we have Jersey and Joey, littermates who came from a litter of six that were left in a cardboard box on a local walking trail in 2012. They were so newly born that their umbilical cords were still attached.
Sue’s mother brought her litter here about 8 years ago. There were 6 in that group. I had to trap them all with the exception of Richard Parker, who seemed to be the runt of the group and could be scooped up. Richard Parker and several of the kittens were rehomed. Sue is the remaining member of that group.
Pop-Up was a stray at a friend’s house. He’s probably about 4 years old.He was friendly but was having trouble integrating with that group, so we brought him here. He is super-friendly, but has issues with social cues, and he offends the other cats by ignoring the social greetings and being over-friendly. He currently lives in an outdoor condo with Tortie, a long-haired tortoiseshell, probably about 3 years old, who came from my place of work. She showed up there about two years ago, very semi-feral, but the vet discovered that she was already spayed. She and Pop get along really well. She’s still semi-feral, so the outdoor condo is the best for her with that long coat. She needs regular brushing, and there’s no way I could keep the mats at bay unless she’s confined.
The last two are The Butter and Basil Cowper. The Butter, maybe 6 years old, showed up at the same friend’s house about 2 years before Pop-Up. Butter also has issues with social greetings. He has a head-tilt and a concentrated state, and, although he’s friendly, he doesn’t send that message to other cats. Basil came to live here in the woods about the same time as Pop-Up. I set the trap for two years before he finally went in. I can’t know how old he is, but he seems to be geriatric. My friend named Butterscotch but called him The Butter. I named Basil Cowper for a historical figure during the revolution who actually owned property about 20 minutes away, but it was confiscated after the revolution because he was a British subject. He was from Scotland, so let’s guess he was a redhead, and Basil the Cat is also a ginger.
How did you come to provide this space for the cats?
In 2002, I started working part-time for a luxury boarding kennel. I worked all the positions, including the front desk. I met so many people who would moan that they loved animals so much, and they wanted to have a farm or a bit of land in the country where the animals could run and play. So I would reply, “Then you should do that.” They would respond with something like, “Oh I can’t”, or “My husband is allergic”, or “I’d have to sell my house”. So I’d pop off back to them something like “Why not?” or “Your husband can take allergy shots” or “So sell the house if that’s your dream to help animals.” You can imagine that this didn’t sit well with some people.
In 2006, my father died, and I got a little inheritance. I thought I should put my money where my mouth was, and buy a bit of property with that money. I didn’t want to spend that money on bills or a vacation because that money was the result of a lifetime of my dad’s work. I wanted to honor him and that money. I looked for a bit of property for months, not a house lot in a subdivision, with specific wants, like trees, few neighbors, in the country, with room to start small and develop if possible. I found 1.52 acres facing south, all wooded, in a rectangular shape with road frontage on east, south, and west. The south and west frontage is a dead-end road about a mile long with maybe 7 little houses. The east frontage is also a two-lane with a little more traffic but not much.
Another concern in this area is hurricane evacuation. The money went towards the down-payment on the property, five-foot-high chain-link fencing for the eastern ½ acre, septic tank, well, electric connection, and a 25-year-old RV to use for evacuations if needed. I also had a large, house-like 12’x18’ shed built for storage.
What is their routine like?
They live their best life. They are fed twice a day. Early on, I fed them dry like Friskies or Nine-Lives, and wet like canned Friskies pate. As they got older, I was able to upgrade their food to ProPlan, both canned and dry, but occasionally I use Merrick or another mid-range food.
They do cat stuff, like lounge around and wait for meals. The cat condo with Pop and Tortie have lots of climbing shelves so they have vertical space, plus outdoor furniture.
Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey eat at the picnic table inside the fence. There’s a mid-size dog crate there with the food bowl inside to protect the food from the elements. The picnic table is near the well and water connection, so I wash their dishes there and store them in a dish drainer.
The Butter and Basil basically live at The Treehouse, which is a platform with a roof over it between two mature pine trees outside the fence. Their platform has water and food bowls, and a smallish dog house with hay. They can climb up to the roof, which is nothing more than a sheet of metal roofing, and lounge up there.
Who else lives on the property and how did that happen?
Right now, only the cats and any wild animals like raccoons, opossums, and birds live there. There was a flock of chickens that moved through here almost every day, eating all the food in The Treehouse. They couldn’t be touched, and I don’t know where they came from, but we started buying chicken scratch and chicken feed to put out. They are voracious feeders, and the cats stay out of their way.
Also, randomly, a lone black hen moved in inside the fence last year. I named her Robirda. She started laying eggs, and we learned a lot about hens and egg production.
Last year, I was diagnosed with DCIS, a form of breast cancer, and I moved in with a friend to help take care of me. After a lot of treatment, I’ve just had my first annual post-op checkup, and things look fine. The cats have managed really well, doing what cats do best, and I’m planning on staying with my friend.
What is the funniest thing the animals have done?
The Butter and Basil are the funniest without even trying. Their platform is like a little stage where they have “conversations”. Admittedly, the conversations are created in my head based on photos that I take of them. Sometimes, The Butter lies on the platform and hangs his head over the side like he’s recovering from too much catnip. One time The Butter and Basil were on the roof of The Treehouse looking over the edge, like they were getting ready to water-balloon the chicken gang.
What is the most surprising?
The most surprising and interesting thing is how they separate themselves into groups. The Butter and Basil took over The Treehouse, which was started as just a safe place for cats to go if they ventured outside the fence. Pop-Up and Tortie live in the condo because that’s where they need to be for their own safety. The last four, Georgia, Sue, Joey, and Jersey, live in the general area of the picnic table. There are multiple places for them to sleep, inside and outside the fence. We made what I call the Dormitory outside the fence in the woods about 15 years ago. Sometimes the wild animals sleep there, but the kids here now don’t use it any more.
I take those large Rubbermaid totes, cut a hole in the end, and stuff them with hay or straw for sleeping quarters, so of course they like to lounge on the tops of those. There’s also nesting boxes in the shed, and they have access to the old RV.
Sometimes Jersey, Joey, Sue, and Georgia come outside the fence to visit The Treehouse, but that’s usually just at feeding time because I tend to feed The Treehouse first, and they try to snag a bite and encourage me to hurry to the picnic table to feed them. I have a car trunk full of dry and canned food, and other supplies.
What about your background prepared you for all this?
I’ve always been interested in animals. When I was in 4th grade, I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was not to be in my future, but I have had vet tech training and worked for several vet practices.
Working at the luxury boarding kennel showed me that some animals get better treatment than others. I’m interested in group health and shelter environments and creating a place where animals can exist.
I have a degree in business management, and I hope to create a non-profit status in order to help more cats/dogs/people.
Ruth will stop by here in case you have any comments or questions for her. I’ll be here, too. Right now I have eight cats in the house, but it’s just temporary because I’m babysitting the feline grandkids.