Friday, April 13, 2012

National Poetry ... Month?

It's become personal tradition to recognize National Poetry Month only when half of April is already over. Nothing subversive on my part, although that would be a nice pun.

The lack -- half-lack? -- of recognition comes from a very busy life.

Busy in a way that feels as unbound as free verse, lush as a sonnet, and metered by the rhythms of growing boys.

While I still think setting aside one month for heralding poetry is ridiculous, thirty days is more honor than love's one-day in February. Perhaps the time allotted speaks volumes about our culture.

But today, as National Poetry Month dawned on me once again, I pulled out one of my favorite poets. W.H. Auden first crossed my path in college, in particular, "As I Went Out One Evening." The words hit me like granite. I was a geology major, and Auden was weaving into his verse elements such as stones, tectonics, and glaciers. Better: he was using those elements correctly, even from a scientific perspective.

When I became a Christian, his verse expanded even further. That reverential Catholic perspective of his, dyed by profound personal trials, reached into every twisted chamber of my heart.

Here's the great poet reading the words which today still feel like a death-to-life blow.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is Cara Putman for Real??

Cara Putman is smart, pretty, and a second-generation homeschooler. She's also written fourteen books and is a practicing attorney.

If she wasn't so kind, we could hate her.

While running full speed, I caught up with Cara long enough to ask her some questions about her life and her latest release, A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island.

Quickly, here's an overview of the novel: Attorney Alanna Stone vowed long ago to avoid her hometown of Mackinac Island. Too many painful memories. But after an exhausting high-profile case and an urgent plea from her parents, Alanna heads home and winds up living next door to Jonathan Covington -- her first love, and her first lesson in betrayal. Alanna is trying protect her privacy and her heart but secrets intersect with a murder, and sudden controversy turns public opinion against her, and possibly her family. Jonathan, meanwhile, has stubbornly refused dating advice from his family and friends, believing he’s already found the perfect woman. But with Alanna’s return, he starts wondering if he’s waited for someone who isn’t the right one after all . . . .

Cara, certain places bite writers and infect them with curiosity. Did that happen to you with Mackinac Island? 

Mackinac Island is a magical place. It’s one of those rare places where you can step back in time without leaving this century. The first time we visited the island I wondered if the long drive could possibly be worth the destination. It’s a long 11 hours from where I live. But once we stepped on the ferry, leaving our car behind, I knew we were headed somewhere special. Boy, was I right. At that time I hadn’t started writing but when we returned in 2009 I was well on the way to writing with several books out. So this time I walked around looking for story ideas. I found them…so much so, I’m surprised the police chief let me leave after asking him how his department would handle a murder.

What kind of story -- mystery, romance -- is"A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island"? 

Definitely contemporary romance. But this book also includes strong mystery threads with a teeny touch of suspense. The heroine is an attorney who grew up on the island but left as soon as she could after high school and never returned. Now she’s forced to go home to help her family and confronts the questions from her past…and then someone’s murdered and the past collides with the present.

 You're a lawyer. A homeschooling mom of four kids. And you've just published your fourteenth book in seven years. Will you place one hand on a Bible and swear you are not dashing into phone booths and emerging with the giant S on your shirt?

 You know, some of my closest friends have threatened to find some Wonder Woman bracelets. I think her plane would be even more fun. I like the idea of an S though – flying without a plane would rock! In reality I’m just a mom who doesn’t get a lot of sleep at certain seasons of the writing cycle. I’ve been blessed to weave together a life that allows me to keep my fingers in law and teaching, but focus on my kids and writing for this period of my life. It’s a lot of work, but worth it. Maybe those bracelets would help!

 What key elements have you learned in balancing writing, law and life? 

 One key has been to learn to ask for help. My husband and I have had to have a few periods where we talked about the need to have people come help with the kids when I’m under deadline. It helps keep some of the midnight hours not quite so long. But there are great seasons where I don’t have consistent help. I’ve also gotten better at trying to schedule moments of rest. When I don’t, God has a habit of building them in for me. I tend to wind up like the Energizer Bunny and forget how to slow down. 

What's your favorite reader comment? 

 My favorite reader comments have come with my World War II novels. With Stars in the Night several readers wrote blog posts letting me know which classic movie stars they would pick for different characters. That was such fun. But I also treasure the comments where a reader says I have hope now that I’ve read your book and your heroine lived through a trauma like one I experienced. Bottomline, I want people to close one of my books with a sense of hope that God is always with us no matter what we’re going through.

Because I'm a homeschool mom and novelist, people often ask what our days are like. But I've found no day is typical -- which is one reason writing, and homeschooling, is so enjoyable. How about you, are the atypical days typical?

 Atypical-as-typical is the order of business. Schooling happens first. But even that has fluid weeks. For example the last week of March many of the local schools were having spring break so we did school in the morning and then the kids had friends over most afternoons. I try to build in those times with friends. But like you, I love the chaos of writing.

 To get your writing done, you've limited yourself to one TV show a week. Which show did you pick, and why?

 Right now it’s CASTLE. I love the interplay of the characters. And even though I know it’s not realistic I love the idea of a crime writer helping the police. Who can’t admit that Beckett and Castle have great chemistry, too. As a fan of the classic movies that focused on pairing leads with great chemistry, I love that aspect.

 What's up next for Cara Putman?

 This summer my family is going on an adventure while I teach a class for Purdue. I am so excited to have this extended excursion…and I have the feeling book ideas will jump out at me as we’re traveling. I can’t visit a new place without wondering what books are waiting to be written.

 Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney and a teacher at her church as well as lecturer at Purdue. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. She loves bringing history and romance to life.
An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara left small town Nebraska and headed to Washington, D.C., to launch her career in public policy.  

Cara is an author chasing hard after God as she lives a crazy life. She invites you to join her on that journey.