Starting Over in Oregon

Fiction - Womens
336 Pages
Reviewed on 08/09/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography


Susan Carnes grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm on the south shore of Great Lake Superior, and already at age 10 could turn square corners with a tractor while cutting hay, gentle and race horses, play Rachmaninoff on the piano, and get some blue ribbons for her artwork at the fair. An avid skier and skater during the winter months, her best times were on the rivers, canoeing, fishing and swimming. She loved to read stories and direct plays. After a degree from Iowa State University, she married, taught school and earned two Master's Degrees while farming and raising three sons. Susan counseled in addiction programs, practiced art therapy and biofeedback in chronic pain centers, and later became a school counselor in Oregon. When she moved toward retirement in Washington State, Susan coordinated 4-H on 5 islands, went back to school, mastered stained glass techniques, continued hobbies of dancing and white water rafting, and then she got busy.

While spending winters in Mexico, Susan joined the Mazatlan Writers Group and wrote her first book, My Champion, about a 10-year-old girl who didn't appreciate what she had. She illustrated it with 21 oil paintings and used her grandchildren as models. "Writing for me is like putting together pieces of my own life and making sense of it," Susan says. The book won a Golden Moonbeam Award and an Honorable Mention in competition at the Hollywood Book Festival. Her second book, The Way Back is a novel chronicling the struggles of a World War 1 vet to deal with PTSD. Susan's father and several of the men he hired to run his dairy were veterans of the "War To End All Wars." Because of her experiences growing up with them and later counseling with veterans in treatment centers, she felt compelled to write their story, wanting to provide hope, and to honor those who fight our wars. The story begins as the old dairy barn on Susan's home-place is being demolished; it ends with personal insight giving meaning to a saying Susan had used playfully: "My barn burned down and now I see the moon."

Epiphany. Starting Over In Oregon is the story of a woman wrestling personal demons while seeking romance and a meaningful life. Set in Oregon's wild places, she collaborates with extraordinary characters to enrich the lives of school children, and discover herself.

Go to http://www.susancarnes.com This blog centers on creativity as a tool to self discovery. Susan has showcased some of her art at www.skcarnes.com, including pictures that were used as 10 covers for the "Pacific Pearl" magazine at http:www.pacificpearl.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Susan Carnes’ Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon reflects the soul of a woman. At the height of success, Lori Meyers leaves her marriage of twenty-six years and her family farm in Wisconsin. Tapping into her dormant spirit of adventure, Lori heads west to Oregon, searching for a place of refuge. When her car spins out of control on an icy road in Montana, Lori realizes her life is a gift and she shouldn’t waste it. An “aha” moment! Riddled with guilt and shame, Lori seeks an escape, a do-over in life. Her desire for peace and solace is interrupted by a stranger. Gayle is a man of mystery, charisma, and provocative charm. This unexpected meeting lures her into the essence of her surroundings. Lori finds herself falling in love again, putting together the pieces of her broken life. Oregon, with its raw beauty and rare and unusual folk, wins her over. Out of the darkness of the unknown, Lori finds her way to freedom.

Epiphany: Starting Over in Oregon is a story of endings and beginnings, heartache and humor, confusion and enlightenment. Odd, amusing, frightening and real, the narrative is strangely entertaining. Susan Carnes reveals the fierce fragility locked within her heroine’s mind. The theme, repeated several times within the story, of “one teaches best what one most needs to learn” links the heroine to her destiny. The female protagonist portrays strength, vulnerability, innocence, and wisdom. On occasion, the point of view switches from the main character to a supporting character, and when this occurs, the character’s soul and intent surface, reflecting the depth of individual persona. This unique writing style creates a balance in the characterization.

Carnes’ descriptions are romantic and sensory. She invites you into the panorama of Oregon’s landscape by including historical tidbits and vivid word illustrations. Carnes inserts poems within the prose, and although beautiful and profound, not all the poetry flows. I would love to read an anthology of this poetry in a separate book, as deep thoughts are expressed in her poetic words. The conclusion is refreshing and positive, leaving the reader with hope for tomorrow.