Guest Post: Rooted & Winged by Luanne Castle

Hello all. Please join me in giving author Luanne Castle a warm welcome today as she stops by for an interesting guest post relating to the mention of birds in poetry as well as a bird rescue story.

Her book is available at Finishing Line Press and from Luanne Castle’s Bookstore.

Author Guest Post:
When I was a little girl and we would visit my paternal grandmother in Chicago, I would sit by her parakeet’s cage, mesmerized by the little bird so close at hand and unable to fly away from me. Over the years, Grandma must have had several parakeets, one at a time, but they were all named Dickie. When my grandmother moved into a nursing home, she was not allowed to bring her parakeet with her, so we took in the bird. Although I tried to coax it to eat, within a week it passed away, pining for my grandmother.

My association with birds, though, is not just personal. Birdsong has been a metaphor for the voice of the poet for centuries. Scottish poet Don Paterson argues that “birds provide a natural metaphor for the song all poets aspire to. We envy them their ease of expression, as their song provides a bridge into the mysteries of a world the animal in us fondly half-remembers.”*

My favorite poem is Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” a long rhythmic exploration of a young poet’s burgeoning voice as inspired by the singing of a mockingbird. The adult poet reminisces about his poetic awakening as a child when he heard the song of a special bird. He believes that he and the bird have an understanding of life and death that many do not.

Shelley meditated on a skylark; Keats on a nightingale. Whitman on the mockingbird. But are birds still important to poetry and poets?

In the Rooted and Winged poem, “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band,” I mention the “famous poet [who] chastised me / for putting birds in poems.” I was in a workshop led by Richard Siken at Arizona State University’s writer’s conference years ago. He forbade us from putting birds in our poems, insisting that birds have been overused in poetry.

Isn’t it ironic that one of Richard Siken’s poems shared on is “The Language of Birds”? I guess he couldn’t stay away from birds either. But I didn’t know about that Siken poem until after I had written “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band.

Siken’s pronouncement seemed arbitrary to me. After all, if birds are an important part of my life, why can’t I write about them? There aren’t many new subjects explored in poetry—the key is to do something fresh with them. In “Noah and the Middle School Marching Band,” I decided that I wouldn’t listen to Siken.

But you know what? I’m alone
with my paper and who will care
if I lure them in with my baton
-like pen, parading them into place
two by two like Noah and the
middle school marching band.

In addition to their song, birds, along with bats and insects, are unique in the animal kingdom in that they are winged. For the majority of birds, that means that they can fly. The wings of birds and of angels inspire me as I find myself wanting to soar above it all, although I actually have a serious fear of heights. Poetry allows me to go places that are not available to me in “real life.”

But sometimes even birds have limits.

My poem, “Without Flight,” from Rooted and Winged, describes an experience that I had soon after the start of COVID when my husband discovered a red-tailed hawk heart-breakingly earthbound in our yard. The hawk sat underneath the hanging plant on our deck. A female dove was raising two babies in that plant so my husband had to water it very carefully because if he didn’t water it at all, the plant would die and the nest wouldn’t have the camouflage that the mother intended. He called to me when he saw the hawk.
My heart thumped when I thought that the hawk was resting after eating one of the babies. We came to realize that the hawk had not eaten a baby bird and was, in fact, grounded. We put out a shallow pan of water and called Liberty Wildlife, a wonderful wildlife rescue organization. We were told to wait overnight in case the bird was just winded.

In the past, I had taken many quail babies to them when they were abandoned by their mothers. Liberty Wildlife doesn’t have the volunteer staff to come pick up all the small wildlife like quail and songbirds that people find in need of help.

The next morning the hawk had moved to a different area of the deck, but still could not fly, so I called Liberty Wildlife again. They said they would send out a volunteer because we would not be able to catch a hawk ourselves. A woman, experienced with raptors, came out to capture the bird, but our deck hangs over a decent sized wash, and somehow the bird managed to lead her on a merry chase through the wash. Even without use of its wings, the bird was determined not to be caught.

Eventually, the volunteer was able to trap the bird with the help of my husband. She told us that the hawk belonged to the magnificent species of red-tailed hawks. Later, I called to check on the hawk and was told that Liberty Wildlife does not let the public know the condition of the animals they bring in, but they did let me know our hawk was a female. It was tragic seeing her like that, and I appreciated Liberty Wildlife so much. They give advice when I call about our wildlife, and they accept any wild animal brought to them. When they take in an animal I bring them, I always give them a small donation as a thank you. That’s why when I wanted to create a fundraiser for Rooted and Winged I didn’t even have to think about what charitable organization I wanted to benefit. Here is a link to Liberty Wildlife. They often post fascinating videos on social media.


What a great guest post Luanne! I really enjoyed reading it especially the story about the red-tailed hawk that landed in your yard. I’m glad you were able to help her. Organizations such as Liberty Wildlife are so important. Over the years we have called the wildlife rescue in town to come and get birds that have broken a wing and ended up in our yard as well as a baby squirrel who actually followed my son home one summer while he was out riding his bike. This happened right after hurricane Sandy so we figured she was displaced from her mom due to the storm.
I think birds are important in poetry, they are symbolic of freedom and hope. Your post also reminded me of one of my favorite poems, Hope is The Thing with Feathers by Emily Dickinson.

About the poet:

Luanne Castle’s new poetry collection is Rooted and Winged (Finishing Line Press). Kin Types (Finishing Line Press), a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her first collection of poetry, Doll God (Aldrich), won the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Poetry. Luanne’s Pushcart and Best of the Net-nominated poetry and prose have appeared in Copper Nickel, American Journal of Poetry, Pleiades, Tipton Poetry Review, River Teeth, TAB, Verse Daily, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Saranac Review, Grist, and other journals.

Special thanks to Poetic Book Tours for making this possible.

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 15: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (interview)

Sept. 20: The Bookish Elf (interview)

Sept. 28: the bookworm (guest post)

Oct. 4: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog (interview)

Oct. 11: The Book Connection (interview)

Oct. 19: CelticLady’s Reviews (guest post)

Oct. 25: The Soapy Violinist (guest post)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #rootedandwinged @writersitetweet #LuanneCastle

Book/Author Spotlight and Book Giveaway: Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp

Hi everyone, please join me in welcoming author L.M. Rapp as she stops by on virtual tour today for her book A Dreadful Beauty. Read on for an excerpt, guest post, a few interview questions including some gorgeous Notre Dame gargoyle pictures and information on entering to win a copy of A Dreadful Beauty.

About the book:
Nymphosis, a disease that turns humans into Chimeras, is ravaging the land of Gashom.
The More-Than-Pure, determined to protect themselves, have seized power and enacted segregationist laws.
Neria, the daughter of a high dignitary, witnesses more and more of the Chimeras being ruthlessly executed.
When she learns she is afflicted by the very disease her father is determined to eradicate, she’s forced to surrender her privileges. She flees the capital amid her terrifying transformation and traverses the strange wilds to seek refuge with others like her.
But she knows what’s happening isn’t right. Find out how Neria develops the courage to fight oppression in this inspiring and elegantly written fantasy novel that pushes all to look deeper.


A Dreadful Beauty Excerpt

One moment, she had been enjoying the security and comfort of her family home. The next, she was left helpless in a deserted square. An oil lamp rested in Neria’s hand. A clay container, filled with a greenish-yellow liquid. A wick, coiled within its heart, snaked up to the groove that guided it into the open air. A flame danced on its tip, a paltry defense against the darkness of that night, one of those gentle nights that often follow the heat of the day. The moon watched her with a wry smile.

Neria suddenly felt she was going to collapse, crumpling like a sheet that had fallen to the ground. Without the warmth of the hand curled inside hers, she would have indeed done so. She remembered the last time she had seen Arhel’s hand, crimson and reaching out of the covers. Who knew what the disease would do to her? But before she succumbed to it, she would save Anaëlle.

She breathed in, then out, and took a step forward. Her aching limbs strained at first, but after a few minutes, she was walking briskly, her head bowed like a servant, the child in tow. First, she had to find the secret passage her mother had told her about and cross the wall of the High District without going through the ever-guarded gates.

She came to a dead-end and saw the dried-up well and a withered pistachio tree lined with shrubs of rosemary leaning against the perimeter wall. It concealed a narrow, low opening. She went in first, crawled into a tunnel bereft of cobwebs and emerged behind an olive tree, also surrounded by shrubbery. Crouching down, she peeked between the branches. No one was there. She called to Anaëlle in a hushed voice, the child joining her. They emerged from their cover and arrived on the street. Before long, they had made their way to an impoverished part of town they had never been to before. The hovels were huddled together, separated here and there by narrow, randomly arranged passageways. The first on the left… The second on the right…

“Hey there, little lady! Where are you off to in such a hurry?”
Three guards had concealed themselves in a nook to drink to their hearts’ content…

Author guest post:

A Dream Come True
I loved reading and writing from a very early age. In elementary school, I remember writing a poem in which I described, in rhyme, the sunlight shining on the snow… My family complimented me, but I soon realized that writing stories or poetry wasn’t what was expected of me. My aim in school and university was to get a diploma, so I would be able to have a good job and earn a decent living.

So, I stopped all my efforts to develop my writing skills, though I did continue on reading. In fact, I never left home without a book. Even now, since I read on my phone, I carry my library with me everywhere I go. It’s amazing and it gives me an inexplicable level of serenity.
But this thought of becoming a writer was still sitting on the back of my head and I decided to check back in with my abilities. While I was a student, on a long train ride from Toulouse to Bordeaux, I took out a sheet of paper and a pen to brainstorm an idea worthy of exploration. Nothing came to mind. At least, nothing that warranted delving deeper and eventually morphing into a novel. So, I reached the conclusion that I had no talent as a writer and that I would never be skillful enough to pursue this profession.

Years have now passed, I’ve lived in other countries, and have had several jobs. I spent some time painting. This discipline, like any discipline practiced seriously, taught me precision and the search for a harmonious balance. To promote my painting, I kept a blog. At a certain point, I wished a bit like a classical pianist learning to play jazz, to free myself from constraints. Abandoning methods and technical means, armed with a pencil or a ballpoint pen, I started to scribble on scraps of paper.
Monsters appeared for the first time. Unlike humans, who always try to smile in pictures, and showcase ourselves at our best to hide weaknesses and negative emotions, my monsters don’t smile if they don’t feel like it. I decided to write their stories, a short one for each of the paintings. And slowly but surely I began imagining a young heroine growing up in a family of supremacists until the day a disease turns her into one of these persecuted creatures. With just a storyline and a few characters in mind, how did the ideas come to me when I thought I had none?

Well, I sat down at my computer for more than five minutes. Even now I dread that floating sensation, that emptiness, that time of latency during which I look at the screen without knowing if the miracle will happen again. The brain spins, searches, weighs, then the inspiration arrives. And if it doesn’t, I scribble what comes to mind. Anything and everything. Truncated, wobbly and unintelligible phrases… But it doesn’t matter. I have to keep the flow moving and I’ll get it right later.

For three years, I worked alone. I read essays, tried to learn, and went through some typical steps: first the doubt, then the wonder at a short story or a few well-turned sentences I had just written. After a while, I began to realize that I didn’t understand anything. We imagine artists as isolated, and while it’s true that most of the creative process is accomplished in solitude, everyone needs community and support. After three years, determined to find answers, I was fortunate enough to discover an excellent literary consultant on the Internet. He guided me to rework the story, make it denser and improve my style. He often quotes a phrase from Proust: “The main quality of a writer is courage.” The courage to persevere despite difficulties, to admit mistakes and to ask for help when necessary. The rewriting took a year.

Today, I can hold my dream in my hand and I would like to motivate you to pursue yours, not for the money or potential fame, but for the unspeakable joy of seeing it come true.

A few interview questions:
Q: How did you do research for your book?
A: The research took place mostly on the internet. A word I stumble upon while writing can instantly turn into several hours of reading.

Q: Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
A: None of the characters were easy to write about, but certainly the most difficult was the tyrannical father. I read three different books about serial killers before I began to understand the reasoning of a psychopath.

Q: In your book, you describe the gargoyles’ people. What made you use elements of Gothic architecture for creating these characters?

A: During a visit to Notre Dame de Paris, I was able to admire the sculptures of gargoyles that adorn its facade. Their mere presence evoked a fabulous universe and served as great inspiration in my novel.

Q: Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
A: The ideas seem to me to be floating around, in books, events, and encounters, and that it is enough to sit for long hours in front of a computer screen and concentrate on arranging them in a new way.

Q: There are many books out there about chimeras. What makes yours different?

A: The story follows a family and a people through a tone that is both intimate and epic, which is rather unusual in this kind of literature.


About the author:
L.M. Rapp has lived in different countries and practiced several professions: dentist, web developer, artist, aikido teacher, farmer. Eager to learn and discover, she uses her experiences to enrich her stories. She has also written a thriller, Of Flesh and Tears.
Website: Facebook:

Giveaway details: *open worldwide now through September 25th*
To enter to win a copy of A Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp:
1. comment on this post and leave your email address
2. spread the word about this giveaway for an extra entry
That’s it! good luck! I will email the winner on September 26th

*this giveaway is now closed*.

Special thanks to A Marketing Expert for making this possible.

Sunday Post/Mailbox Monday 9/18/22: Book updates and my Halloween blanket

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists….

Hi all, I hope this post finds you well. Another week has flown right by. Mine started with a visit to the dentist for my cleaning and he told me one of my molar fillings is cracked so I’m going back next week for a crown. Aside from that it was an uneventful week, but that’s a good thing. I finished my Halloween blanket and I posted a review and set up a few upcoming blog tour posts. I have 3 blog tour stops upcoming for September.

And I like to bake something from scratch every week because I prefer homemade to store bought. And it’s always nice having homemade goodies available so I baked chocolate chip cookies recently. I offer them to you virtually today. Enjoy 🙂

Onto my updates…..

recently on the blog:

I shared my thoughts on Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell

coming soon:

I invite you to come back on Monday the 19th for a book spotlight and international giveaway for A Dreadful Beauty by L.M. Rapp.

in my mailbox:

Yay, In Her Highlander’s Bed by Lynsay Sands arrived via Avon books.

Recently we watched Last Night in Soho which was actually very good. I recommend if you like paranormal thrillers with dual timelines/flashbacks. Also of note, we watched Beautiful Boy which is based on a true story and was heartbreaking and made me cry so trigger warning for substance abuse, but this was an amazing film. I love Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, they really really deliver here. I feel like this is one of those underrated films. You will need a box of tissues.

Thank you all for the nice comments on my crocheted Halloween blanket. I finished it last weekend. It took me about a month. My daughter and I designed it together. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to find enough different Halloween granny square designs. The granny square is a classic crochet square, so those were easy but most of the other designs I came up with myself. I don’t like to follow other’s crochet patterns, so what I do is if I do follow a pattern I change it up a little bit. I used a pattern for the ghost applique and the pumpkin squares and also for the border. It is my daughter’s blanket so the design choices and layout were mainly hers.

Funny enough, I had all this yarn in my stash already so this was a great stashbuster. I only had to make a trip to the yarn store for one more orange ball.

I freehanded a balloon applique as a nod to Stephen King’s IT.

All done, 28 squares total. I think I’ll do a Christmas one next, I haven’t decided though.

That wraps up my updates for now, how was your week? Happy reading! Are you enjoying the Fall weather?

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is available for download. The photos here are my own and not be to be removed from this post.

Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell

source: free review copy arrived via the author
title: Our Trespasses
author: Michael Cordell
genre: paranormal mystery/horror/suspense
pages: 247
published: October 15, 2021
first line: Ruth stood at her ironing board, working her way though a pile of clothes in the bottomless laundry basket at her feet, mindlessly sweeping the iron back and forth across a blue denim work shirt, breaking her rhythm only to fire shots of steam at particularly stubborn wrinkles.
rated: 4 out of 5

Drowning in a meaningless existence flipping burgers, Matthew Davis suddenly collapses from a powerful psychic connection he shares with his twin brother, Jake. The pain is violent and immediate, and Matt knows exactly what it means… hundreds of miles away, Jake has been viciously killed. But instead of severing their connection, the murder intensifies it and Matt begins to suffer the agony of Jake’s afterlife.

Hell bent on solving Jake’s murder in order to break the connection, Matt travels to his troubled hometown of Hatchett, Nebraska, where an old lover and savage new enemies expose the festering wounds that Jake left behind.

Fans of Stephen King’s The Outsider, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist will find this new paranormal thriller impossible to put down.

my thoughts:
Our Trespasses by Michael Cordell is a great paranormal thriller with plenty of twists and turns that had me hooked from the start.

At the center of the story are identical twins Matt and Jake. The brothers grew up in small town Hatchett, Nebraska and have lost touch since Matt moved way to New York city after high school. These two have a strong psychic connection and this is the reason why Matt moved out of town, in order to get away from this overwhelming supernatural bond he had with his twin.

Without giving too much away, one day Matt feels intense pain and he realizes Jake has just been murdered. After being gone for several years, Matt finds himself back home for his brother’s funeral. While trying to make amends at home with his mother and a few old friends, Matt also tries to find answers as to his brother’s murder which remains unsolved.
He comes to find out that Jake had plenty of demons and was not a well liked person around town. Matt wants to make things right not only for himself but for his brother. He feels that if he can try and right what his brother did wrong, Jake’s soul can be at rest.

This was a fast paced story and with a few unexpected plot twists and terrifying scenes. I find the twin connection to be very interesting. I watched a documentary not loo long ago about the identical twin connection. One of the twins featured were brothers who were adopted separately as infants and had never met, yet the two wound up living nearly identical lives… down to their career choices, the houses they bought and the names they gave their children. How fascinating.

So back to Our Trespasses, I really enjoyed this book. I love it when a story just pulls me along and keeps me guessing like this one did. I can always appreciate scary scenes and this book delivered that in spades. There is a creepy movie theater scene that was a favorite.

The supporting cast of characters added to the storyline as they helped Matt find some answers. In reconnecting with his ex Claire and with his mom, Matt comes to realize what his leaving town abruptly years ago did to his loved ones. I had no idea who murdered Jake until the author revealed it and it made sense. I enjoyed the way the story culminated in an exciting conclusion.

With themes of family issues, addiction, good vs evil and redemption, Our Trespasses was a great thrill ride and I recommend it if you enjoy paranormal stories with a nice dose of horror and mystery.

“The human-shaped form behind the curtain moved again, creating a soft rustle, as if trying to escape the small, dark space between drape and wall. Then the bulge silently glided along the wall toward Matt’s row like a huge, red velvet wave rippling forward, before returning to where he’d first spotted it.” -Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell, 51% Kindle

“I wasn’t just living on my own, I was literally on my own. Jake tried his best to reconnect, but I overpowered it. At the same time, I felt so incredibly alone. I never realized that part of my self-confidence came from the connection. We had always been a team, and even though we fought, he was still part of me, far more than I realized.”- Our Trespasses: A Paranormal Thriller by Michael Cordell, 71% Kindle

about the author:
Michael Cordell is a novelist, playwright and produced screenwriter. He has sold three screenplays to Hollywood, including Beeper, an action-thriller starring Harvey Keitel and Joey Lauren Adams.

Michael currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he has taught screenwriting at the University of Virginia and at Writer House.

You can reach Michael at quoted from Goodreads

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of Our Trespasses came via the author.

Sunday Post/Mailbox Monday 9/11/22 Updates

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog.

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists….

Hi all. I hope you’re having a nice weekend. Thank you everyone for your kind comments last week about my hive issues/allergist appointment. I realized later on how whiney I sounded, I really shouldn’t be complaining about something so trivial like having to wait to see a doctor.

This past week flew by so quickly. I worked fully remote the whole week which is always nice not having to commute to and from the office. The weather has been great this week and I can already feel Fall around the corner with the cooler mornings and evenings. I crocheted alot and am just about finished with the Halloween blanket and I finished reading one book. Today I got a few posts scheduled for upcoming blog tours and I scheduled a review post for this upcoming Tuesday.

I took this pic of the view of the Freedom Tower from the ferry to Liberty Island a few years ago:

onto my bookish updates…

coming soon:

My thoughts on Our Trespasses by Michael Cordell will be up this week.

in my mailbox:

I treated myself to the new Stephen King on release day and I promised myself I’d read it this month.

Crochet Magical Creatures 20 Easy Amigurumi Patterns by Drew Hill came via the publisher. How freaking cute is this?!

The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream by Jeannie Zusy came via Atria books and it sounds both emotional and entertaining.

Also of note…
2022 Fraterfest Challenge
Fraterfest is coming! Will you be reading along? I may or may not make a list, I haven’t decided yet. Making the book lists is half the fun though.

The 28 Halloween blanket squares are complete and I sewed them all together already. I’m working on the border and that will most likely be finished by the time this post goes live so I’ll share the finished pics next updates post.

The weather was beautiful this past week, this is Otis on one of his walks. Enjoy your week! Happy reading.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is available for download. The photos here are my own and not be to be removed from this post.