Writer, poet, and critic Elizabeth Gauffreau has written a magnificently brilliant review of my new chapbook Our Wolves. Her reviews are as engaging to read as any poetry or fiction.
Category Archives: Fairy Tales
This week, Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt is to write a syllabic poem inspired by your Celtic tree. I had never heard of this before. It seems similar to an astrological sign in that your birthday determines the tree. My tree is holly, which I had never thought about before. I mean, I know the holly berries and leaves design for Christmas decorations, but that is about it. I discovered:
HOLLY – THE RULER
JULY 8 – AUGUST 4
Among the Celtic tree astrology signs, the Holly is one of regal status. Noble, and high-minded, Holly signs take on positions of leadership and power. If you are a Holly sign you take on challenges easily and overcome obstacles with rare skill and tact. When you encounter setbacks, you remain vigilant to obtain your end goals. People look up to you and follow you as their leader as you are rarely defeated. You are competitive and ambitious even in the most casual settings. You are quite generous, kind and affectionate. Highly intelligent, you skate through academics where others may struggle. Holly signs may look to Ash and Elder signs for balance and partnership.https://onetreeplanted.org/pages/what-kind-of-tree-are-you
No doubt these descriptions are set up to flatter, but there are aspects of this description I can relate to. Taking on challenges, (trying to be) kind, things like that. But the ruler? My husband would laugh himself silly because we both agree that while some are leaders, some are followers, there are those like me that are neither. I don’t like being a boss as in: do this, do that, don’t do that, I’ll judge you, etc. I do like the “noble and high-minded” thing, though. Whether it’s simple flattery or something more, I can take a guess 😉 but one of my literary role models (and here I use literature to mean Broadway musical haha) is King Arthur in Camelot. He has to choose between the legal choice for the good of the country (meaning lots of people) or his love for his wife. Really really admire that character.
I thought I would try a tectractys today, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. So here it is:
must come from tact
and the ability to see both sides.
Tectractys is a five-line poem with this syllabic configuration: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10.
The literary journal Does It Have Pockets? has published a Red Riding Hood story of mine that is darker than anything found in my chapbook Our Wolves. “Why I Always Wear Red” is flash fiction that finishes with a tectractys, making it a hybrid genre. You can read it here:
If you missed my reblog of Rebecca Budd’s podcast interview of me, here is the Spotify link. You can also find it on Soundcloud.
You can also follow Rebecca’s Tea Toast & Trivia series for more author interviews.
Here are reviews of some non-poetry books I’ve read recently. If you’re one of the authors, feel free to drop your website and/or blog links in the comments!
SEXY ROMANCE & MYTHOLOGY
Heart of a Warrior, by Eden Robins, is the super steamy romantic adventure of a mortal contemporary Arizona woman, Dora, who meets an immortal from the time of Greek mythology and is awakened to knowledge of a past life she never knew she had. Dora, or Pandora, as she once was called, needs all her empathic healing powers and strong warrior qualities to deal with the evil Silvers. The immortal, Philoctetes, joins forces with Dora—or does he? Is their relationship destined for war or will their ignited passions result in the love-making Dora fantasizes? A question is implicit throughout: What if loving someone could kill you?
The contrast of the realistic Arizona setting that includes cacti, caverns, cars, and computers with the mores and ethics of the gods and goddesses, past intrigues, and the evil machinations of the Silvers makes every plot event and character trait believable. The plot moves quickly, but a sense of suspense kept me engaged throughout. In fact, the suspense is whether or not Dora and Phil will achieve success against the Silvers, but also what they will do about their outlawed attraction for each other. I was surprised by a cliffhanger ending, and then I realized that this is the first in the Gold series planned by Robins. I can’t wait for book 2!
D.L. Finn’s middle-grade short story collection, Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories, is a charming read. I think young children would be able to understand, as well, and this adult reader certainly loved it. The tree fairy world that Finn has created is delightful, the characters–both fairy and human–are well-drawn, and the environmentalism that underlies the book is important to the health of humans, animals, and our planet. I’m so glad I read this book, and in my imagination I can still see the fairies flying in the forest and visiting the Wise Trees!
MURDER MYSTERIES WITH A UNIQUE TWIST
I always enjoy reading Carol Balawyder’s books. The Lilac Notebook is no exception. In fact, it might be my favorite. When I first heard that it was a mystery, and that the “detective” character at the center of the book was a woman, Holly, with early onset Alzheimer’s, I was intrigued but not sure that the book could really work. After all, if Holly was losing her memory, how could she put together a proper answer to the question “who done it?” Well, Balawyder imagination, knowledge, and knowhow accomplished the seemingly impossible. I was fully enmeshed in the tragedy of Holly’s life, watching her go through the agony of starting to lose pieces of herself all the while she had to create a new life for herself after her husband left her. I cheered for her when she joined a poetry class and began to do what she wanted, rather than what her husband wanted. I cried for her when she couldn’t remember—and most especially when she didn’t know if she was missing a memory or if someone wanted her to think so. Ultimately, Holly does solve the crime, although perhaps not in the manner we expect out of a murder mystery. This book, though, is so much more than a murder mystery. It is a caring, compassionate look at early-onset Alzheimer’s and a person faced with it. It is bound to generate more compassion in its readers for future encounters with those suffering memory loss. You won’t want to miss this wonderful book by Carol Balawyder.
Fractured Oak: This hybrid genre of fantasy and murder mystery is well-written, engaging, and a joy to read. I don’t know how Dannie Boyd (Carrie Rubin) does it, but she manages to have a tree as a detective! This is no ordinary tree, though, but a 19th century woman who has turned into a tree. From her vantage point she witnesses murder, and she does all she can to try to bring the murderer to justice. Another aspect of the book I really liked is that the tree-woman was the first female medical school student at her school in Ohio. This brings in the author’s medical training and adds to the realism and intelligence of the novel. The writing is sensitive and lyrical, but smart and, when needed, even tough. I have enjoyed several books by the author under her own name, and this one is my new favorite.
ADVENTURE AND FANTASY
John Howell’s novel The Last Drive, the sequel to Eternal Road, well satisfies my curiosity in the continued journey of Sam and James as they try to accomplish their heavenly tasks amidst interference from the powerful and disgusting Lucifer. In this narrative, the angelic duo enlists the help of Eddie Rickenbacker (a historical figure) to save the soul of his charge, the newly dead Ryan. The four time travel between historical events, such as the Holocaust, the sinking of the Titanic, and WWI. As in Eternal Road, Howell is adept at merging the fantasy of time travel with the details of history. Sam and James are adept at following God’s plan for Eternity and his angels. This book is a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging, and rewarding read.
What happens when you’re given a diagnosis of a very rare and fatal cancer, but there is a horrible experimental treatment being offered to you? In The Winding Road, we learn what Miriam Hurdle decided–to undergo the grueling chemo and radiation schedule–and how she copies with it. She set her daughter’s still unfulfilled life mileposts of marriages and children as a goal–she wanted to see her daughter married and to meet her future grandchildren. The reader knows from the beginning of the story that Miriam will overcome the cancer because she has written her memoir about it. But life is in the details, and this book provides many. I loved getting the inside information on how her illness affected her job, as well as seeing the loving support she got from friends and fellow church members. Because I lived for over twenty years in the same general geographic location, I could picture all the hospitals and other places she talks about. But that knowledge isn’t necessary because we all know what hospitals and medical care can be like. When a doctor ignores a referral for three weeks when Miriam has no time to lose, it is so easy to imagine her visiting the office, being completely ignored by the fools at the counter, and sitting there in the waiting room until someone takes pity on her after hours and tries to help her. This is a short book, and you will want to read to the finish in one or two sittings.
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested writing a syllabic poem inspired by an art meditation video posted by Rebecca Budd on her chasing art.com website. https://chasingart.com/2023/06/02/the-national-gallery-5-minute-guided-meditation/
You see a cup on a pewter dish and a thornless rose. Actually the rose looks like more of a fantasy rose whereas the cup and dish are realistic. I found watching the video to be an amazing experience.
I wrote a haibun.
The Realism of Winter, The Fantasy of Spring
In this portrait of a cup of water, I find my mind focusing on the slivers of light on pewter and pottery. I have to be directed to see the large shadow on our right that is so obvious once pointed out. Then I note its power. The water looks refreshing enough to dive into if only I could make myself smaller like Alice. In fact, I feel myself becoming both smaller as the scene looms bigger in front of me and also larger as the space in my mind that this painting inhabits grows. Eventually I have to recognize the two aspects that poke at me, pay attention to me, they say. One is the fantasy flower with petals so curvy they could be dying or so unreal as not to include thorns. The other is the handles of the cup are misshapen. They don’t match, and only a child’s fingers could enter their spaces. Only a fantasy child like Alice.
Shadows of winter
once greeted bring forth treasures
of fantastic spring.
My girl Kana is the Box Queen. She is the one of my five cats who finds a box or bag the minute it enters the house. The other day she went one better. I set a buckled belt I am using for an exercise on the couch. When I turned back to it she had climbed in it.
On another note, I had a banner/header made with my two full-length poetry books and my two chapbooks made by someone who knows what they are doing because I clearly don’t. It’s for this blog and my social media. What do you think?
A big thank you to Sally Cronin at Smorgasbord Book Promotions for featuring Our Wolves today on Summer Book Fair 2023.
Our Wolves has received some lovely and “interesting” attention that I thought I would share with you.
There are some wonderful reviews on Goodreads (and Amazon), including those by veteran reviewers Elizabeth Gauffreau, Suanne Schafer, a couple of Library Things reviewers, etc. I also received my first one star rating ever!!! Yes, “Donna” wrote: “An interesting take on Red Riding Hood. Dark and shades of abuse. Might be someone else’s cup of tea but not mine.” Apparently, even though it’s an interesting take, because it’s not her cup of tea, it warrants a one star.
Read the reviews here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/111018194-our-wolves
You can purchase a copy here for $10.99: https://www.amazon.com/Our-Wolves-Luanne-Castle/dp/B0BTKNP31D/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1Q5U4FV04LXCI&keywords=our+wolves&qid=1683584909&sprefix=our+wolves%2Caps%2C142&sr=8-1
Our Wolves has been given a lovely review by Robbie Cheadle! A big thank you to Robbie!
“If you like interesting and thought provoking poetry, you will love Our Wolves.“
On another note, I looked for an African-American Red doll for my collection and found a gorgeous one on ebay by artist Stacy Bayne: $250! Here’s a link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/225374443246 While I can’t justify that (hah), it’s certainly beautiful. Here’s one of my $20 antique mall goodies.
Marie A. Bailey had written a review of Our Wolves that looks at the autobiographical nature of some of the poems. This is what I love about poetry: how it can be specific and universal, as well as open to different interpretations. Read what she has to say here: https://1writeway.wordpress.com/2023/03/23/in-the-company-of-wolves-bookreview-poetrycommunity/
The wolf dressed up as Grandma:
A bookstagrammer, Books Parlour, has posted a review of Our Wolves as well:
Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested this prompt today: to write in response to this Monet painting of his garden in Giverny. I decided to write a haibun as I had a story to tell.
Not Meant for Humans
The walkway seems to have no beginning, and so I tiptoe through the purple and blue blossoms to reach the rough path, feeling naughty and bold but safe for its proximity to a well-painted building. I circle the garden of Iris, the rainbow herself. Round I go three times and then spy a spot of bone under the willow. The sun ray has moved, so now I can see what I have missed. Or did it just appear? I step closer, into the flowers, careful not to crush the blossoms themselves, aware I might be harming stems. My curiosity draws me in. As I bend toward the ground, I part the plants and see a very small skeleton, as of an excruciatingly tiny human. Her shredded wings are faded with age, but once must have been the blue of Iris with yellow dots like bright and miniature suns. Perhaps she fell from the branch above when she was asleep. I understand now why the path repeats itself, an endless spinning trail, meant as it is for those with wings to fly above the garden and to rest in the shade of the well-nourished trees. Still, being human, I invite you to share in my experience.
Watch for tiny wings
hidden by goddess Iris
and her endless path.
I’ve been intrigued by fairies lately. And by the notion of fairy skeletons because, after all, what is left of them after they die?
As you can see from the poem, I also constantly worry over our human enjoyment of and curiosity about nature because we are such destructive creatures, even when we don’t mean to be.
Deborah Brasket has written a very smart review of Our Wolves. I love how she notices the “slippery, slantwise versions” of Red Riding Hood in the book. You can find her review here (and check out her beautiful blog while you’re there): https://deborahjbrasket.com/2023/03/19/red-the-wolf-slant-wise-and-slippery/
True Book Addict has also written a loverly review of Our Wolves. http://www.truebookaddict.com/2023/03/our-wolves-by-luanne-castle-review.html The reviewer says: “I don’t think I’ve ever read a collection quite like this. I have an extensive poetry collection and I know I will be returning to this volume again and again.”
Yesterday a Bookstagrammer named Genia Blum @bookscarves shared Our Wolves with a gorgeous Hermès scarf.