Change. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

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LIFE IS CHANGE. GROWTH IS OPTIONAL. CHOOSE WISELY.

Anonymous

We’ve all heard that there are two things we can rely on in life: death and taxes. Well, for writers, there is another.

Change.

Change is all around us and it is a part of life. We see change in the seasons and the weather. People come and go in our lives, jobs change, our health changes, new businesses spring up, others fall victim to the economy. Or even the death of an owner (our town’s yarn shop) can cause unwanted and sad changes.

Sometimes change is good, other times, it is not welcome. Either way, it is a part of our daily lives whether we want it or not.

Most people do not like change because change is scary but I have always embraced change whether it is a new home or rearranging my house or even a new job. Change freshens my life. It is a renewal of heart, mind and soul–a breath of fresh air to chase away the stale and stagnant.

For writers, it is a part of our careers for if we do not change, then we dry up and fade away like a pile of autumn leaves. In the publishing world, what’s selling now will eventually fade away to be replaced by something new and fresh. Or perhaps something old will be reborn. Like historicals, angels, time travels and ghosts. Think of the writing world as a big circle with cycles and seasons. Nothing remains the same.

I, as a writer, must be open to not just riding the winds of change, but to grow as a writer and a person. While writing White Vengeance, book 11 in my White Series, I felt as though I was slogging through muck. Each word, each scene was a struggle. I loved the characters, loved the story, but something was happening to me as a writer–I was growing and changing yet my White books were not. At least not much.

My stories all had a bit of the mystical with the use of visions, gifts of sight and other aspects of Native American culture. As the series grew, I wanted as a writer to explore the mystical aspects of Native American beliefs and go deeper into the mystical world yet my books were historicals, not paranormals. Suddenly, I had a choice: continue to fight the change happening within me as a writer or give in and grow as a writer.

So I gave in and let myself write what I wanted for that last White book. And I had a blast. Writing was fun again. Things were happening that I never imagined. I allowed

myself to listen to that inner need to change and it revitalized the entire book. I loved the book, the characters, the writing. The change in me, my writing attitude was a wondrous feeling. I knew then that as a writer I had to embrace change–let myself grow. I gave myself permission and the freedom to grow and change. It was a scary step but one I have no regrets in taking.

I also realize in writing this, that Change was responsible for the birth of the White Series. When I wrote White Wind, I didn’t have a series in mind. Just one book. My next book was set on the Oregon Trail. I had the Jones family all set to head west and I needed a wagon master. For Jessie of course.

Enter a half-breed with issues who needed a past, reasons for his conflicts and of course, I turned to his family. Well, I decided to give Golden Eagle & White Wind (Sarah) a second son and named my wagon master, White Wolf. Okay, so now I have two connected books. Still not really a series.

But it became clear that Wolf’s family needed to make a showing in White Wolf. I already knew that Wolf had a powerful warrior brother named Striking Thunder as this was revealed in White Wind. Then I, in my “Godly” role of Creator, gave the two brothers, two sister. Nice even number of children for my original hero/heroine.

Well, it became quite clear that these children all need some major changes in their lives in order to grow and become the adult characters I envisioned! A series was born with the simple act of allowing myself to be open to change.

Change is still happening in my writing. My SpiritWalker series was born of the changes that took place in writing White Vengeance. I’m currently nearly done with my second SpiritWalker book that demanded many changes in my writing. I’ve also taken this new series to contemporary settings and surprise, it changed again.

There are more than just SpiritWalkers in this world. My SpiritWalkers are at the top of the “myth” chain of special humans but there are a whole host of other beings walking my world. Some good, some bad and some truly ugly beasts. None of any of this would have been possible if I had stuck to the same old thing.

Today, change has made me a better person. Even the disaster of losing my retail business is revealing the good. That change wasn’t just bad. It was ugly in so many ways yet due to my positive outlook and my belief that change is ultimately good even when it looks horrid, I’ve come out ahead.

So what is changing for you? Is it a good change? If it’s bad or ugly, is there good that you can see and hold onto? How do you view change? Is it refreshing or something you resist? If you resist change, why? I believe we should all think about change, see and analyze changes around us and allow change to make us better people.

What are your thoughts?

Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards ~ Magic, Myth & Wonder

White Series

SpiritWalker Series

http://susanedwards.com

http://susanedwardsauthor.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/susan_edwards

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Edwards/40226247104

DISCOVERIES

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Susan Edwards ~ Myth, Magic & Wonder

Covers White SeriesA couple days ago, I redesigned my banner for my website and sent it to my son who deals with my website.  I loved what I did but knew he’d find fault.  After all, he’s a programmer, which makes pleasing his sensibilities with my creativity nearly impossible.  And <sigh>, I was right.  He vetoed most of what I did which set me to wondering what happened to that creative little boy who along with his younger sister were responsible for me discovering my own writing talent.

You see, I haven’t always been a writer.  Unlike so many authors who say they’ve always loved writing, I had never wanted to write anything, except maybe chatty letters to friends or my great-grandmother (who loved receiving mail) or notes to pals in class.  Okay, I’ve dated myself here because I grew up without computers, emails, social media or text messages!  Writing entailed pen & paper or typewriter, neither of which works with my creative process.  Anyway, growing up I absolutely hated writing, did not excel in English and thought history the most boring subject on earth!  So it’s rather strange and ironic that not only am I a writer but I’ve published 12 historical romances.  Well, back to my little story here.

When my son was in grade school, his teachers were very impressed with his writing and his creative storytelling.  Same thing happened with my daughter.  Both kids were very creative and did very well at writing and telling stories.  I was mystified at where they got their talent but glad they enjoyed the writing experience.  Of course, we as a family were big readers so I figured that helped.

In that same time period, I was reading historical romances.  Mostly Native American/Westerns.  And I was getting bored with what was out there and had read most of what appealed to me.  Why wasn’t there more of what I want to read?  It was very frustrating, especially when I had this great idea for a story that I wanted to read and couldn’t because it wasn’t written.

And here it comes.  You see, I had two things going for me that led to my current writing career. First and foremost, I was, and still am, an avid reader of romance (write what you know). Second, I am a natural-born storyteller.  I can still remember using my dolls and stuffed animals to create stories and “situations” for them.  As I grew up, my need for storytelling did not fade away.  I had stories in my head day and night.

However, I did not think of them as stories or write them down or tell them to others.  I figured I was an oddity, that no one had scenarios playing in their heads that demanded that I pay attention to them.  But it turns out they were stories.  I created them, scene by scene.  I rewrote them then went back to individual scenes and rewrote again and again until I was satisfied.  Once a “story” was perfected, another story would take shape and the process would repeat.  Many times, an old story would return with the clarity of story in a book.  I could “re-read” it and make changes.  Even years later this could happen.

Of course, I figured I was just an incurable daydreamer.  My teachers and parents certainly thought so!  :-)   It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s and had already sold my first book that I discovered that my daydreaming was actually storytelling!  All the elements we writers require for our books were in my dream worlds.  I had the good guys, the bad guys, the conflict, the black moment and the happy-ever-after.   Does all this sound like a writer? Yep.

So here I am in those before-I-became-a-writer days, consuming books about strong heroines and handsome warriors like an ocean swallowing a beach until that idea came to me, that book I wanted to read and couldn’t.  There was a heroine who meets a young, virile Native American hero at stream.  This “story” kept intruding on my thoughts—more so than normal.   Also, I could not move this story forward to “the end” which was very strange as I could see these two characters so clearly: she was running away from an evil uncle, and my hero was a troubled young warrior.

Before I knew it I had a nice little scene going of these two people so in love and so right for each other.  And it was the perfect place to put them into a nice hot love scene.  But something was wrong.  First, this couple wanted more from me.  They were so insistent that I did something I’d never done before:   I took them out of my head and gave them life on paper (good thing I had a computer by this time).  Okay, I thought. I’ll write a nice, steamy love scene. I could see it, feel it, so no problem, end of story, right?

Wrong! Before I could write about these two people falling in love and having their happily-ever-after, I had to know more about them.

  • Why was my heroine alone in the wilderness?
  • Why was she fleeing her uncle? What did he want and how bad did he want it?
  • What troubled my warrior and why was he in the same vicinity as my heroine?
  • Why was he drawn to my heroine aside from her blonde hair? Why her and only her?
  • Was he willing to risk it all for her?

Before I knew what hit me, I had four chapters of back story.  I was shocked.  But it couldn’t possible be any good.  So I gave it to a couple of people to read.  One of my closest friends looked at me after she finished those chapters with awe in her face (I still remember that look) and she said two words that sealed my future:  Finish It.  The rest they say is history! The writer within was set free and an author was born!

I choose this topic for this blog because I never, ever considered writing to be a hidden talent.  I would have loved to see the looks on some of my old teachers faces, especially a couple of past high school English teachers as I’m pretty sure (as sure as there is always death and taxes in life) that none of them would have predicted that I would become a writer, let alone a published author.  And perhaps things would have been different had I not listened to that inner voice telling me to step out of my comfort zone and put that first story down on paper and take a chance that someone might read it.  Yes, it was scary to let others read it, and see what went through my mind.  But it was well worth it for I made an amazing discover about myself.

The path I set upon started with committing a story to paper.  But that was only one step of the process (aside from letting others read it).  It took me 3 years to finish the story between all the aspects of life, husband and children.  Add another 4 years of writing and rewriting and learning the craft of writing and submitting and getting rejection after rejection before an editor asked for a full manuscript. Add another year before I had my first offer, then yet another year before that first book, White Wind was on the bookshelves in 1996. Nine years total!   Wow!  It should come to no surprise to learn that I can be very stubborn and determined.

It’s now about 15 years later and once again I’m anticipating seeing my first book hit the shelves with a new cover in its new digital format with Carina Press. The excitement and anticipation is the same, as is the worry–will readers like my baby! Some things do not change!

So in retelling this story, it is my hope that someone reading this makes a self-discovery of their own.

Are you harboring a writer within? If so, what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your “writer within” stories.

  • Have you discovered a hidden talent during your adult years?  If so, what and how do you feel about it.
  • Have you discovered something about yourself through your children?
  • What do you read, why and how does that genre make you feel?

Check out my website http://susanedwards.com where I have a contest running.  Sign up for my mailing list and I will enter you into a separate contest for a tote bag filled with goodies.  Winner will be drawn January 1st.    There 7 separate contests, each added to my website.

Book Trailer

Social Sites

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http://twitter.com/susan_edwards
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Edwards/40226247104

The Making of CAPTIVE SPIRIT

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CAPTIVE SPIRITScience fiction world-building, as my fellow Carina Press author KS Augustin pointed out in her post about IN ENEMY HANDS, must feel natural to the reader, almost like you could slip into it as easily as walking inside your own house.  With historical novels, it’s no different.

In order to get the setting just right for CAPTIVE SPIRIT, including descriptions of things like the clothing or food that the Hohokam Indians prepared over 500 years ago, I spent many an hour at the Phoenix Heard Museum, trying to make my story as authentic as possible.  The Heard has one of the world’s largest Native American history collections.   I’m fortunate that it’s only about a thirty-minute drive from my house.

Not much is known about the Hohokam Indians, but if you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy and Alex Trebek asks you that daunting $1000 category question, know this: After establishing a thriving community, the Hohokam Indians vanished from the Sonoran desert around 1500 and no one knows why.  Cool, huh?   To me, there are about a million stories in that fact alone.   And it’s also the piece of history that inspired me to write CAPTIVE SPIRIT.

Despite my good intentions, Carina Press editor Elizabeth Bass and I had an amusing time trying to come up with the right words for time because, let’s face it, 500 years ago, a girl wasn’t pulling out her Blackberry.  What would a “year” be to the Hohokam?  A day? A minute?  So, we used terms like a moonrise or a sun to mark the passage of day or days.  Harvests, since the Hohokam Indians were farmers, would mark the passage of seasons and years.   If you read the story, know that great care went into making sure every detail felt right, including the time of day!

Aiyana might be from the dawn of the sixteenth century in CAPTIVE SPIRIT but she is one kick-butt, savvy heroine.  I figure you’d have to be as clever to survive during that period in some of the most unforgiving terrain you’d ever want to see.   Much of it is still pretty rugged today, as you can see from this photo of Four Peaks, just east of Phoenix.  Like the history of the Hohokam–or lack thereof–the mountains that surround Phoenix also inspired me to write CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  The landscape is very much a part of the story.

There is a line in the first chapter of CAPTIVE SPIRIT where I talk about “boulders as jagged as Grandfather Eyota’s front teeth.”  I’m talking about Four Peaks in that sentence, a gorgeous mountain range that I’ve hiked and admired for a long time.  I could picture Aiyana gazing at those mountains, wondering what surprises waited on the other side.

It was hard for me to write the words “The End” to CAPTIVE SPIRIT because I had become so attached to their world.  For about one year, Aiyana, Honovi, Eyota, Chenoa–they were all that I thought about, dreamed about, and sometimes even talked about.  And now I feel so privileged to be able to share their world with you.

What makes you become so attached to a book that you can’t let go–or, even better, what makes you want to read it over and over?  Is it the writing? The characters? The setting?  The love story? Inquiring minds just gotta know! :-)

Thanks so much for spending time with me today.

Don’t hesitate to connect with me on Twitter, Facebookmy blog, or my web site and let’s dish about books and writing and LOST reruns.  Whatev!

Remember that you can win a free copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, just for making a comment on this blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  CAPTIVE SPIRIT releases on June 28, 2010.  Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will also enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. How cool is that?!

Chasing a CAPTIVE SPIRIT

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So there I was, minding my own business this past January when a tweet flashed across my laptop from a seemingly nice editor lady named Angela James. “Send your historical novels to Carina Press!” she tweeted. “Our editors are hungry for historicals!” CAPTIVE SPIRIT

Historicals? I thought. I’ve written one that I love.  Maybe this Angela lady will love it, too? What the heck? I’ll give it a shot.

And off flew my manuscript into cyberspace and so began my hopped-up-on-steroids but memorable publishing journey with the very cool and hip Carina Press.

Hey, book lovers!  My name is Liz Fichera and I am thrilled to be one of the Carina Press launch authors.  Formerly from Chicago, I now call the American Southwest my home.  And the historical novel that I sent to Angela earlier this year is CAPTIVE SPIRIT, although it was originally called VANISHED.   More on that in a bit.

CAPTIVE SPIRIT takes place in the Sonoran desert at the dawn of the sixteenth century.  It’s about a young Hohokam Indian woman named Aiyana who isn’t like the other girls of her White Ant Clan. Instead of keeping house, she longs to compete on the Ball Court with her best friend Honovi and the other boys. Instead of marriage, she daydreams of traveling beyond the mountains that surround her small village. Only Honovi knows and shares her forbidden wish, though Aiyana doesn’t realize her friend has a secret wish of his own.  When Aiyana’s father arranges her marriage to a man she hardly knows, she takes the advice of a tribal elder: Run! In fleeing, she falls into the hands of Spanish raiders and finds herself being taken over the mountains against her will, putting Aiyana on a quest to return to the very place she once dreamed of escaping. And she’ll do whatever it takes to survive and find her way back to the people she loves.

I’ll share more details with you later today about the story and what inspired me to write it.  And, no, it did not come to me in a dream.

But first I wanted to share my Carina Press experience because it’s been the kind of experience you hope for as a debut author.  Not only have I had the chance to work with the fab Elizabeth Bass, Kimberly the copyeditor extraordinaire, and Aideen O’Leary-Chung and her uber-talented book cover artists, but I’ve been able to connect with so many great writers who share a passion for rich storytelling. Thanks to them, my TBR pile has not only grown it’s exploded.  Also, thanks to the support of my fellow Carina Press authors, it’s  become very Sisterhood of The Writer Traveling Pants, although no one has suggested that we share a pair of faded bluejeans. Yet.  

Like most authors, my full-fledged publishing journey has been neither quick nor easy but it’s never been dull.  There have even been moments when I wanted to throw my laptop out the nearest window, burn all my rejection letters, and take up basket-weaving. But I’ll always be grateful to Carina Press as well as their readers for taking a chance on this writer hidden amongst the saguaros and coyotes in the wild, wild West who likes to tell tall tales.

Before the next post, I invite you to check out my web site for the first chapter and book trailer for CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  I’ve left a few clues in the book trailer that will help me to explain the inspiration behind CAPTIVE SPIRIT later today in my next post.  Can you guess which ones?  :-)

And if you tweet, friend, blog, or are just plain obsessed with social media like me, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Facebook, and My Blog.

Be back later! Rock on, Carina Press!

Remember that you can win a free copy of CAPTIVE SPIRIT, just for making a comment on this blog, Twitter, or Facebook.  Commenting on any of the Countdown entries will also enter you into the big giveaway for a Carina Press promo prize pack. How cool is that?