Eclipsed, a Poem by Randy Evans

How easily the sun star

Leaves the earth

(At the simple passing of the moon)

Dark.

 

There is no reason

That requires us

 

(Masters of forgetting)

To turn our tender balls

Skyward to the blinding

Light.

 

There is no reason

For tears

 

But tears appear

(From the fiery brilliance)

From the down deep within us, we

Grieve

 

The tick tock of eternity,

Sitting in the sunshine like a weed,

When we could sing through the day with

Joy.

 

There is no reason

To fall heavy on the ground

 

To moan (for everything about us),

Missed sunrises, sunsets, changes in the weather,

And a thousand saints (invisible to us) in plain

Sight.

 

There is no reason

We fail to feel the wind,

 

The woods tattered with fallen leaves,

The slow cooling of the lakes,

And every detail spooling out from the visible

World.

 

There is no reason

To wait for the next eclipse.

 

Stand up and look alive,

(Pack your plans in a suitcase.)

Wake up un-blinded to the waking

Day.

 

There is no reason

To wear dark glasses to filter out

 

The people who love you,

The faces of children,

And overhead the wild geese

Flying.

 

There is no reason

For the real world to need us,

 

But we need what we fail to see.

(Box your dreams for a bit.)

Go out into the dark and lie lightly on the

Earth.

 

There is no reason

Not to share each star

Circling in its own season.

 

 

Evans’ Novel a ‘celebration…’

Evans’ novel a ‘celebration of what it’s like to live up here’
Glen YoungSpecial to the News-Review 14 hrs ago (0)
Evans’ novel a ‘celebration of what it’s like to live up here’
Randy Evans
Evans’ novel a ‘celebration of what it’s like to live up here’
Randy Evans says, “A lot of people come to Northern Michigan to rebuild their lives.”

This theme therefore is in the foreground of his new novel “When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow.”

Evans brings together a cast of strangers, ranging from a lonely Vietnam veteran to a worried Egyptian surgeon and others in the spaces around Devil’s Elbow on the region’s Inland Waterway to demonstrate how the solitude, the silence and the serenity of Northern Michigan allow for such rebuilding.

When Liz Randall loses her quality control job at a Kalamazoo paperboard factory, she decides to head north to see her father Nick, the aging veteran whose comfortable home leans over the river where the elbow bends.

Liz also encounters Stretch, a twice-divorced Texan who settles near Nick, whom he quickly befriends, after discovering comfort food at the Moose Jaw Junction. And Zizi, the Egyptian surgeon who escapes a life of poverty and brutality thanks to an education and an invitation to practice in Petoskey.

“I decided to write a book about how these strangers come in and meld with local people,” Evans says of his first novel but third book.

His previous books include the memoir “Out of the Inferno: A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland,” as well as the compilation “Red Sky Anthology: Reading Aloud in Northern Michigan.” The first several chapters of “When Strangers Meet” are included in the “Red Sky Anthology.”

Evans says he maintained the local geography in his story because “it’s a local book for local people.” He says he considered altering the landscape, but insists, “I want local people to relate to these places and their own experiences with these places,” he says.

And though there’s plenty of fiction in his “Red Sky Anthology,” Evans says the novel format provided a new appreciation for the genre, as well as a new joy. “It was like working in a big sandbox,” he says of writing fiction.

“I could write anything I wanted.” Evans understands, however, that the writing required purpose.

“Every word counts, every sentence must work, you can’t relax,” he says of choosing fiction.

Evans says once he determined to write the novel, the process demanded his full attention, but the story gained momentum on its own. The novel is about 85,000 words, but “after the first 10,000 words the novel started to write itself,” he explains.

What develops is a strong narrative arc turning Zizi and Nick, Stretch and Liz and others toward one another, where the characters find both new purpose as well as friends on whom to count.

Liz discovers again how Nick’s independence guides her to a new understanding as they both are also still healing from the loss of Nick’s wife and Liz’s mother to breast cancer.

Zizi falls over herself in every way when she firsts meets Nick at a benefit dinner, though she’s never far from the terrible experiences of her early years in Cairo. And though her life “now had a few cracks to let the loneliness in,” she is drawn to Nick.

The daughter of Japanese internees, Mikage runs a small diner in Kalamazoo, but laments when Liz leaves town as the two have grown close. Mikage is also running from a painful past.

In her diary from 2007 and beyond, Mikage recounts her backstory, explaining from May of that year, “‘Our marriage ended on a festive day,’” she writes about her brief marriage to Axel, a brutish German raised by his mother after his father, an SS officer, was mysteriously murdered in the aftermath of World War 2.

Their relationship heats up quickly, but cools soon after they leave California for Axel’s native Germany, where his demeanor turns mean. Mikage, like the others, is damaged but guarded.

The quiet and comical relationship between Stretch and Nick is also a key component in the story, as the two often spend long silent hours fishing or exploring together, one of the story’s high points is when the two hatch a plan to derail a couple backwoods meth dealers, Salt and Pepper.

By novel’s end, the many characters come apart and together in ways both expected and unpredictable, offering insights into both the healing processes of friendship, as well as the balm of the natural surroundings of Northern Michigan.

Evans says he thinks of the many ways the storylines intersect as “a celebration of what it’s like to live up here.”

In addition to the themes in his books, Evans is also creating other good will with his new book, donating a portion of the proceeds to the Petoskey Rotary Club’s Strive Program, which partners adult mentors with local high school students.

When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow is locally at Local Flavors in Boyne City, Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, and McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, or through Evans’s website at http://www.randyevansauthor.com

Latest customer review on Amazon

5.0 out of 5 starsA Great and Worthwhile Read
ByJSEon August 7, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
A very delightful novel that is both entertaining and thought-provoking from beginning to end. I felt as though I had taken a virtual tour from Egypt to Alaska with numerous locations in between as the story developed. The author is well-traveled, has done significant research, or both. The author also has an uncanny ability to project the reader into the mind and experiences of each character. They have strange personalities that are nonetheless authentic, bringing to mind certain people met in real life. The novel’s overriding message is that there is always hope for change and renewal, no matter what one’s current life circumstances and sordid history might be. The final convergence of the characters in Northern Michigan and associated life transformations make for an interesting and heart-warming story.

When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow, A Novel by Randy Evans

Below is a starred review excerpt about my first novel, When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow.  The book will be available on Amazon or from your favorite online or retail bookstore within the next 30 days.  I’m very exciting about this new book!  Much of the action, romance, and mystery take place on the Crooked River in northern Michigan.  And thanks to all the readers of my first two books:  Red Sky Anthology and Out of the Inferno

“Small heart warming coincidences bring together a group of people who find love outside their comfort zones…an uplifting tale about human connection, random acts of kindness, America’s heartland, and love.  When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow shines in empathy and grace through well-crafted characters.”

 —IndieReader

 

Crooked River Book Cover
Crooked River Photo by Al Sevener

Actuary, a poem by Randy Evans, Author, Red Sky Anthology and Out of the Inferno

Herman loved numbers.

IMG_1618He dreamed digits in his slumbers.

As a child no larger than an elf,

He loved things smaller than himself

As a man he studied actuarial science,

A field to which he gave perpetual reliance.

He predicted his death the day his teeth fell out,

The day after his final treadmill workout.

He would not spend more time on bodily health,

For he died on the day he outran his wealth.

His wife discovered him dead, “Herman, what happened?”

When she found his obituary on a paper napkin.

He wrote, PS save the spreadsheets!

But she burned them all, along with his bed sheets.

The newspaper printed four paragraphs on Herman,

But readers flipped the page after reading the lead in,

“Herman loved numbers his whole life,

He leaves behind his calculator and his wife.”

Building Suspenseful Sentences

IMG_4937

One of the best ways to keep readers turning the page is to keep them wondering about what will happen next.  The storyteller’s secret is the cat’s nemesis, curiosity.  In addition to a suspenseful storyline, build suspense into your sentences.  If a sentence is a message, handing over the message at the beginning of the sentence can result in a loss of interest.  The reader says, I get it so why are you wasting my time with more words?  If you deliver the goods at the back end, readers wait for a payoff, like searching for a surprise plastic cowboy in the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box.  More examples:  “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”  “Looking back on my thirty years of work in business, knowing what I intended and the results, meditating on all the fads that came and went, and the state of the field today, I see clearly that I achieved practically nothing.” So you place words or phrases at the end of the sentence that no one could have predicted.  Here’s another example from my memoir (available on Amazon), Out of the Inferno:  A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland:  “And in perpetual loyalty to the entire family, in the last package of photographs, Laurene included a snapshot of our larger-than-life cat, Brother Butterscotch.”  Take a front-end-loaded sentence from your own writing, and back-end-load a surprise ending.  This technique will 1) add variety to your writing, 2) emphasize your most important ideas, and 3) sustain reader interest.