Archive for August, 2013


August 23, 2013

Artists and authors are the recipients of critiques by viewers and readers. Sadly in our modern era of speed and technology we seem to be in such a hurry that we react to something and do not allow ourselves the slow time to ponder why and to examine the meaning of the reaction. The Waldorf method of education emphasizes the creative arts. A student I knew was an excellent poet. She told me that they were also learning a separate class on critique and that was a third of their final grade. In the lightning quick reactions with technology we are not only losing literacy and competence as tool users of our languages, we are forgetting how to think. Because that is what critique is for. It teaches you how to think. Don t we want our children to grow up able to think their ways through tough situations?  To make informed choices and decisions? Then there are the critics who simply want to be mean and cause pain. Unfortunate as that is we can still learn from these experiences. A literary colleague was chagrined when a reviewer posted a negative review. Book was so awful the reader put it down. Then picked it up, read some more and then put it down in public disgust again. Then did this a few more times till the book was finished. The author had this very mature response to share: ” I m keeping that Review. This reader disliked my book SO MUCH, they had to finish it.. So, made ya read!” 

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, this was a true way to “turn a frown upside down. “So the reviewer didnt like it. What do authors want? We want readers to read our books. It applies to art , too. My first art show, the first person who approached my table picked up a photo composition I had done in an old cemetery of a crumbling headstone of a little boy. I draped the stone with an antique baby gown and tipped a small Tonka truck over in front. I developed it in sepia tones.  The viewer picked it up, stared into it intently, set it down as she muttered under her breath, ” Oh, I hate this. It is so sad.” So as artist and viewer we did make an emotional connection after all. I didn t sell that piece but I still show it sometimes.

God Considered the Horizon by Rachael Ikins

August 20, 2013

This is the revised title of my upcoming chapbook collection Finishing Line Press has available to pre- order on their website at this time. This book is a memorial to my friend the late Yolanda Tooley, in both content and cover artwork. If you ‘re interested in ordering the unique and emotive collection, please visit Finishing Line today. The print run of actual chapbooks is determined by the number of pre- orders, so obviously, the more readers who order now, the larger the number of available books will be. It is from this collection of poems, which has an actual release date of November 2013, that I’ll be choosing  to read at Lismore Castle, Ireland in December. I was invited by publisher Leah Maines of Finishing Line to attend the conference, to study and to read.

I look forward to meeting some of the Elbow Lane poets from FaceBook and Fermoy, Ireland while there, as well as perhaps other Elbow Lane poets, relatives from Cambridge UK, and also authors I have read and admired.

The chapbook cover will be in color of the photograph in this blog, ” Yolanda and the Dancin’ Shoes: Stepping’ Out.” If you scroll down to earlier posts on this blog you can see it. Author photograph by Donna J. Ward. As soon as the art department at FLP sends me a cover mock up and I approve it, I will post on my blogs and FBs and website and FLP will have it on theirs as well. Finishing Line also offers on their website a chance for readers to write reviews of the poets they have read and whose words inspired them. Please check that out, too. Feedback from readers is a good thing. You may also post reviews on my FB. As soon as the print edition is available, FLP will list it on, where readers can post reviews, too. It will be on my Amazon author page along with my other FLP chapbook, “Transplanted.” You can also learn more about the collection by going to where Pat recently posted a feature about the book under its former title. If you are a blogger and enjoyed reading this, please feel free to re blog! Thank you! 

The title is part of a line from one of the poems in the book, “When King David Discovered Poetry”

My Newest Release

August 9, 2013

This is re-blogged from a colleague’s great publication yesterday about my newest book ” Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Sun: a Pocketful of Showers.” As the title implies, it is about hedging your bets, keeping all options open because even when you do everything right, surprises can happen. Please enjoy. and see what her blog has to say about my book. The cover art is shown as well. We are doing a book giveaway. Please leave a comment. At the end of the time period all the comments will be pooled and whomever is chosen out of a hat I think, will receive a signed copy of my chapbook TRANSPLANTED by Finishing Line press.

The Summer of 2013

August 7, 2013

It has been a wonderful, interesting adventure, not without pain this year and this summer in particular. I’ve lost 3 good friends and another’s spouse is seriously ill. I find myself remembering last summer, right before I summoned the courage to ” throw myself out of the plane.” I laid on the carpet each morning, fully dressed wondering how my life could’ve sunk to a sad miasma of paralysis. Glad that is behind me.

Sometimes, you have to throw yourself out of the plane. It doesn’t matter if you know there is a parachute or if the ground is near or if there is nothing to catch you. You just have to face fear and have faith that something better awaits, if only you can take a chance. Last summer I had no novels under my name on Amazon. This summer I have one and just completed the re-write for Book 2.

i have traveled to strange places this summer  wonderful road trips. I’ ve reconnected with several very dear friends met along the way, through the years. There is nothing quite as amazing as rekindling an old friendship, especially when I assumed from the depression that plagued me, that any and everyone I liked from my past was no longer a friend to me 

because of me. Not true. Life is never perfect but parts of it are fabulous. Their warmth is enough to carry me over the slow days. I have new friends from FaceBook and met at book signings and art events. I have a full schedule ahead of me.

i am looking forward to my new gig as a cover artist for Finishing Line Press and the new chapbook they re publishing of my work this year. All set to take advance production orders so step right up. I know a piece of my artwork has been chosen as a part of a postcard PR for a show with the CNY branch of the Penwomen.  Am  looking forward to readings from the Complete Tales in Oswego at River’s End bookstore and at Westcott Community Art Gallery, and Liverpool Library as well as appearing as a guest on various blogs and the release of a new anthology of poetry  by Codhill press of women writers of the Hudson Valley that  includes my work.

i never understand why people want to seek out psychics. If I ‘d known some of what was in store for me, I would ‘ve checked out long ago. Luckily I weathered it and if I’d known what was in store for me in a good way, I would ve denied myself the wonderful surprises and pleasure of discovery and achievement.

In conclusion I would like to add, as many wonderful memories of times in history as there are, as if preserved in amber, you truly cannot go back. This minute is all you own and it owns you. Treasure the limitless possibility within it. Fly.



Fantasy Author Terry Brooks

August 4, 2013

check out this post !

Whimsical Words

Usually, I have a guest author on Mondays, and decided to do so this week through the magic of links and videos. As you can imagine, as both a fan and writer of fantasy adventure tales, one of my favorite authors is Terry Brooks. I own many of his Shannara books, and have read most of the others.

The World of Shannara One of the favorite books on my bookshelf is The World of Shannara by Terry Brooks and Teresa Patterson. (I own the 2001 version with a white cover, the newer blue cover version is the updated edition). It presents not only an informative guide to places, people, and events having to do with Shannara, but includes lots of wonderful illustrations. And as an illustrator, I admire the many beautiful pieces of artwork between the covers of this volume inspired by the fantasy world of Terry Brooks.

Terry Brooks has a great…

View original post 43 more words

Angels, Intuition, and Experiences with the After Life

August 4, 2013

Pain lanced around my body from the small of my back to meet near my navel like a thin steel  belt. I could not breathe. “So, this is labor pain. They’re NOT like menstrual cramps at all.” I thought. Sun brightened the world along the canal. I watched my husband’s back receding into the distance as he rode his bike away from me, too far for my voice to carry. Besides with this pain I couldn ‘t catch my breath.

When I was 47 years old we decided to try in vitro fertilzation. My husband had had radiation and had recovered from prostate cancer. We looked online for a sperm bank and pored over the characteristics of donors.  We tried several times, each occasioned the arrival of FedEx with a CO2 smoking tank with in that contained a tiny vial of precious sperm.

After several attempts at home we ended up at a fertility clinic. Because my own body had been through much chemical disruption during my 30s, we chose donor eggs as well. Then began the routine of Lupron shots to knock out my own monthly cycle. Followed by the daily injections of progesterone and estrogen tablets to create a new lining. Progress of the lining’s thickening was closely monitored at the doctor’s clinic with a wand of an ultrasound.

Finally the day came when the eggs and sperm were united in the lab. The doctor phoned me that afternoon to let me know we had four really healthy exuberant embryos.  Of all the mistakes I’d made in my life and all the paths not taken, the one I regretted most was not having children. That had been the only thing I remained consistent about my whole life. I wanted a houseful of kids, screen doors slapping in summer, the thud of barefeet on the grass, shouts of laughter and bad dreams rocked away.

The previous year my favorite cat had died unexpectedly. In trying to cope with the grief,

I decided to try at long last for a baby. I hoped that my cat’s spirit was wherever souls go in the afterlife, that she would help.  In due course with the treatment room’s lights dimmed, my husband held one of my hands, my other guided the ultrasound so I could see. Enya sang “Wild Child” over the stereo speakers, two of the embryos were planted in a particularly rich area of my uterine lining. I assured the doctor I would be religious in following all instruction. Not long after we got home, I was overcome with the most delicious lassitude. I could barely rouse myself from the wonderful drowsiness. The next day a pregnancy test came back positive. I was reacting to human growth hormone. The babies were already affecting me.  We were ecstatic.  Unfortunately, the one detail that bothered me had not been researched by any medical staff. I have a heart rhythm disorder and take medication for it. Nobody thought it would have any impact on a pregnancy.  But, it did. Two days later there I stood, faint, on the canal, birds singing all around me, butterflies flitting through heavy milkweed heads and a trickle of blood slowly dripping out of me.

The doctor confirmed the pregnancy was over. I had experienced so much loss in my life. The idea, at my age, of the carelessness causing the loss was unbearable.  I was pregnant for 2 days. Talk about a roller coaster of emotion. I wanted to die.  My husband and I held each other in our bed that night. The windchimes softly tinkled in the breeze from the fan as we cried ourselves to sleep, arms wrapped tightly around each other. It was our only chance, and we both knew it. 

I’ve long believed that souls’ energies can communicate with us from wherever it is they go after they leave their earthly bodies. I ‘ve believed there are several kinds of events that happen during sleep. I think during a certain stage of sleep we are paralyzed and our resistance to things outside of our ken is lowest. I think that that is when spirits speak to us if they can. Regular dreams that process the daily flotsam of life and others I call ‘sendings’ which feel different than dreams though both may contain some of the same elements.

I found myself seated in a comfortable place. The light was rosy and dim and most of what I could see was lost in shadows. It was a safe and good place. I was not allowed to turn around to look behind me. I just knew this. A voice which was female and projected the most indescribable marvelous other-ness spoke to me. I did not hear Her in the conventional way. She told me, “I know your heart is broken for the loss of your children. I have delayed their souls’ passing due to the dangerous depths of your grief. I would like you to meet them. You may only have a moment together and then they must go on. You must promise me that you will choose to live as well.” It wasn’t really words, I just understood I was going to hold my babies in my arms. Suddenly, a tiny boy lay against my chest. He was translucent but his hair was dark and tufted. He faded quickly. It was understood he had been the smaller of the twins. Then he was gone. A larger infant now rested against my heart. She was pink with damp dark hair. I pushed my finger into her small fist. She gripped it. In that moment she opened her bleary baby eyes. I can’t describe my feelings in words at that moment. No sooner had her eyes opened than the Voice said “She must go now.” As I watched, the baby faded to translucency in my arms and disappeared. “Thank you!” I called out. I woke up.

I told my husband of all of this. I don’t know if it was an angel who spoke to me or if it was God. If it was God, I managed to think some people would be quite upset to learn God was female…I had absolute conviction that for whatever reason–sometimes you just accept a gift and don’t ask questions–Spirit had noticed my agony and despair and granted me that one brief union with my children.  I felt so comforted.

 In truth, life is very short though we humans think otherwise. It had to be enough, the brief look into my daughter’s eyes. I keep my word. I choose to live as they continued on their spiritual journey. The truth of the matter is all we ever get is a brief glimpse. We named her “Willow” for that tree has first leaves after winter, bends easily, and if it breaks in a storm, roots where it touches the earth. All qualities a human can only benefit from. We named him, too, another tree name, which I can’t recall at this writing.

I will always remember that Voice and my gratitude that Someone noticed my pain, granted me a tiny fraction of what I’d wished for. It was enough.