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Pat's NEW book

A Compendium of Journal Jottings:
A Sourcebook for Writers

While John Steinbeck, in his JOURNEY of a NOVEL (EAST of EDEN) wrote his feelings, his ideas, his prejudices, his biases; Henry David Thoreau wrote about the conflict between scientific observation and poetry, reflections on abolition, transcendental philosophy, and other concerns in his voluminous journals; other writers note their inner-most thoughts with directions that the book be burned upon the writer’s death. Of many others who kept and keep journals, day-books, and diaries, in A Compendium of Journal Jottings, Pat Laster has chosen to jot down those things from her reading that she either did not know, had forgotten, or that piqued her imagination. Especially intriguing were the euphemisms for “dying“, and the information she calls “mini-biographies“ from obituaries.
For several of her stories, and even in her novel, she used word banks of surnames to direct her focus. Included is a poem derived of surnames. Since she has been involved in mainline church music all of her life, the puzzle of how so many of the modern “churches“ were named was fascinating.
Although this is not a 'how to' volume, writers, including poets, of course, might mine this compendium for ideas, and possibilities.
Occasionally poems and essays appear throughout as examples. Her published books also include a novel and It’s sequel, A Journey of Choice and Her Face in the Glass, plus a book of short stories and long poems, Hiding Myself Into Safety. Pat has been writing for 35 of her eighty-something years. She has a memoir in progress, a book of poetry after that, and has applied to earn an online M.F.A. in poetry.

Cahaba Press • 483 County Road 231 • Eureka Springs, AR • 72631 • CahabaPress.com.
224 pages.  6" x 9".  ISBN: 9781079080025

Copyright by Pat Laster.  *Cover illustration by Stephanie Gilbert.

Pat's Amazon web page for this book:

Pat's Second Novel

Her Face in the Glass

Sequel to "A Journey of Choice", Pat's first novel.

"A must read! This book was a wonderful read. I could not put it down until the final word."  Lydia Cheatham, September 11, 2015.

Liddy Coursey-nee Underhill’s tumultuous ten years in the Ozark Highlands of Missouri finally came to a happy ending when she was given the baby she helped deliver. Promoted to editor of The Banner, a weekly newspaper, she married Tom Grindle, the boardinghouse owner, who became a stay-at-home dad.
In this sequel––during World War II––former Editor Redd found retirement lonesome. She visited the paper, and when the receptionist walked into a passing vehicle, she stepped in as a replacement staff writer.
A new superintendent of schools, Louis Hooser, thinking he’d hoodwink another small town, was caught by The Banner in gross chicanery. Shortly, he and his abetting wife left his office smoldering and fled the town.
The Grindle’s hosted a Christmas party. The Hoosers came to the party in disguise. Presented a gift by the rogue marked, “Open when you are alone,” Liddy notified the sheriff, who notified the fire steward. The gift was opened outside, Liddy was hurt, and the culprits were jailed, charged with attempted murder.
Will the war’s end bring the story to a satisfying close?

Pat's Amazon web page for this book:

A Journey of Choice

"Written with elegance, imagination, and historical savvy, Pat Laster's
A Journey of Choice grabbed me from the beginning and drew me into the life and travails of Liddy Underhill ..." -Sandy Raschke, Fiction Editor, Calliope, A Writer's Workshop by Mail In 1932, young Liddy Underhill, just graduated from high school, lands a reporter's job in an adjacent town and hitches a ride with
a peddler who lives there. From the first night of her journey throughout the next decade, Liddy is beset with challenges.  She marries and begins a life with her husband, Heth.  When tragedy changes the course of her life, though,
Liddy must find a way to reclaim her life and find happiness, Along the way,
she becomes the victim of a womanizer, a controlling doctor, and an arsonist.  She suffers abandonment and an emotional breakdown. Set in the Missouri Ozarks of the 1930's, A Journey of Choice tells the riveting tale of an enterprising young woman dealing with events beyond her control and the message of hope that emerges from her story.

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Hiding Myself Into Safety

Short stories and long poems, plus an occasional essay.

Pat delights the reader with a collection of short stories, poems, and an occasional essay, portraying the unique atmosphere and culture of the South. The collection is a reflection on the past as well as the modern world, with each selection told from a different point of view. From the eyes of the young to a fascinating cast of adult characters, the author never fails to delight or surprise the reader. Her short stories and essays are an example of the Southern storytelling tradition at its best. An award winning poet, her poems cover a broad range of topics, setting a mood ranging from the nostalgic to the humorous that will make this a difficult book to put down. Unforgettable is not an overstatement.

The characters and the settings will continue to linger in the mind's eye for a long time to come.

20th Annual CALLIOPE Fiction Contest FINALIST
     Ash Wednesday
        By Pat Laster
Last year at this time, the church was full––especially when the choir came down and filled the front pews. After the imposition of the ashes, it was time for the passing of the peace. I announced that if there was anyone in the room who needed forgiveness from anyone else, this would be a good time to ask for it.
Apparently one person took my admonition to heart. She rushed back to an older woman, hugged her neck and whispered in her ear, “Thirty years ago, your husband and I had an affair. Please forgive me.” And then she dashed out the back door never to be seen or heard from again.
How do I know this?
            Soon after—but before Easter––the affronted wife poisoned her husband and herself. She left a note for me saying, “See what you’ve done? Don’t ever ask people to atone for their sins in church.”
                So this year, I decided to do it differently. The pastoral team discussed it, and we decided to staple a slip of paper into each bulletin.
             The friendship pads of attendance were passed (except to the choir and Praise Band), the scripture read, the sermon preached, followed by the ceremony of the imposition.
               After all were “ashed,” I asked the congregation to tear off the paper slip from the bulletins and each one write down one sin they needed forgiveness for. No names, of course. But I would read each one after which the congregants would chant--from the screen--a verse adapted from Psalm 51, “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                While the Praise Band played Chris Tomlin’s “I Lift my Hands,” the ushers collected the papers of sins. The congregation stood and sang the song while I held the collected slips in a basket. Oh, Lord, if I am making a big mistake by doing this, please forgive me. 
“You may be seated. After the readings and responses, I will pronounce the benediction. Please leave the service in silence.”
                I began. “A boy who likes me gave me a gift and I haven’t thanked him. It’s been over five years. May he forgive me, wherever he is.”
                I heard a slight titter, but led the response, “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                Next. “Today in school, I told a girl she was fat. Please forgive me.” A snicker.
                Miss Delley’s children’s sermons had hit home. “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                “I shoplifted a wristwatch from Wal-Mart. Please forgive me.”
                A slight hesitation. “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                People were beginning to fidget. Were they trying to imagine who that sinner was? Did anyone wish to leave, but knew if they did, the onus of guilt would be on them?
Next. “My wife and I tried to set a house on fire and then we fled to the safety of this state. Please forgive us.”
                Murmurs. “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                “Once I posed as a marriage counselor just to get names and addresses of lonely women. Please forgive me.”
                One man had heard enough. He stood. “Preacher, it’s getting late and it’s also hot in here. Why not read all of them and we’ll forgive everyone in a wad—like a lake baptism.” His wife pulled him by the coattail back to the pew.
                “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and be cleansed from your sin.”
                “Only one more,” I said. “I am hiding a prostitution ring behind a jewelry business. Please forgive me.”
                Before the response could begin, the outside door opened and a booming voice from the back said, “Hold it right there, preacher. Don’t anyone move. Man the doors,” he said, and a uniformed policeman ran up each outer aisle to the side entrances. We didn’t know it at the time, but two more officers had secured the rest of the building and were standing in the back hallways.
                “I’m the police chief around here, and preacher, you’ve just helped me solve a bunch of crimes. Pardon me, sins. Boys, get all those sign-in pads. And preacher, hand me those papers. This is gonna be the easiest raid I’ve ever made. I’ll very likely get promoted.”
                The hulking monster of a chief had been texted by a congregant and had gathered his minions
for a surprise visit. “Here’s fair warning—you who have committed crimes and helpfully released this information in the name of sins, stay where we can find you. Inside this sanctuary I won’t touch you, but you’ll be hearing from us very soon. And we don’t look kindly on absconders. Goodbye.”
                After they left, I moved closer to the congregation for the benediction. “There’s a Judas among us, Lord. Please forgive him. Or her. Children of God, go now in peace; if not in peace, in fear of your neighbors, your friends and the police. Let us recite our litany one more time.”
                But I had to lead it myself. No one else moved or spoke. “May you be washed thoroughly from your iniquity and cleansed from your sin. Amen.”
                And Bishop, this is why I ask you to reassign me to another pastorate. I am giving up Ash Wednesday for Lent.                                                     
About the Author
Pat Laster is a long-time SIG member and has been Calliope’s Poetry Editor since 2013. She was awarded Calliope’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. She taught music in the public schools for 27 years and retired in 1994 to concentrate on writing. She began her writing career as a poet, and has edited two newspaper columns of poetry; she currently writes a weekly, general interest column for The Amity (AR) Standard.
                Her interest in writing expanded from poetry to essays, short stories and novel writing. She used her residency at the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow to work on her first novel, A Journey of Choice, published in 2010. A sequel is in progress
                She invites readers to visit her at: pitty-patter.blogspot.com (poetry) and pittypatter-pittypatter.blogspot.com (prose); her new website: www.PatLaster.com; and on Facebook: Pat Couch Laster.