Change. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

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LIFE IS CHANGE. GROWTH IS OPTIONAL. CHOOSE WISELY.

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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

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GETTING DOWN & DIRTY

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Okay, get your mind out of the gutters! Or perhaps I should tell you to put your mind in your garden for a few minutes while we chat. I’m embarking on a huge gardening project–a 26 foot medicine wheel garden–which has taken me a couple of years of planning and researching. What I decided on was to incorporate elements meaningful to me. As I love outdoors, nature, etc. I planned my space to use the themes of Earth. I have sections for the four elements (Air, Earth, Water, Fire), the four seasons (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer), the Sun, Moon, Stars. I have herbs, and lots of just plain beautiful flowers on order.

I also pulled into the design the aspects of Native American research from my writing which I’ve adopted into my own life. The number four is an important number in many NA cultures as well as the number 7 which I also have plans to use. Then there are circles. I have an outside circle 26 feet of hedge. Inside that, is another circle–a pathway to walk around. Inside that there is yet another circle. This circle is split into 4 areas with paths (4 of them) leading to a smaller circle in the center which will be close to a grassy knoll. And yes, there is yet another much smaller circle inside that where we’ll have a small fire pit to enjoy in the evenings and maybe roast marshmellows!

Circles have so many meanings. Life travels in a circle such as the seasons from birth of Spring to death in Winter to life reborn once again in spring. Our lives travel in circles, meeting and merging then separating and one of my favorite that I live by: What goes around, comes around.

I should also mention that around my garden area, my husband will have his vegetable garden.

Okay, so how does this tie in with writing? Aside from being a wonderful place to take my laptop and write (when done of course), it made me think of my characters in my newly re-released books (White Wolf, White NIghts, White Flame, White Dreams).

First, in the mid 1800’s, growing your own food was part of survival. Jessie and her brothers (White Wolf) would most certainly have grown some of their own food. They lived by the goodwill of the land. And on the Oregon Train, Jessie, Wolf, along with James and Eirika (White Nights) ate what they could find along the trail. Unlike Native Americans though, living with the land, on the land and surviving their trek across the land was new to many if not most of the travelers looking to start anew in Oregon. Those who understood the land and nature, the good, bad and ugly were the ones to survive and/or lead others on their westward trek.

The Lakota Sioux on the other hand were very well versed in survial. Unlike many other tribes and cultures, the Sioux didn’t “garden” for their food but instead harvested what Mother Earth provided. They understood the seasons, the circle of life. And even though they didn’t ‘work’ the land, they honored and respected and took care of the land–their mother. After Emma arrives in the village of Striking Thunder (White Flame), she learns to love and respect not only The People, but the land which provides for them. Raised in a city, living outdoors at the whim and mercy of nature is an eye opener.

In White Dreams, Star Dreamer leaves the land she’s known all her life for the city, turning her back on all that she’s ever known. But even in a city, she realizes that nature and all that she holds dear is close at hand.

In our past, we depended on the land for the animals raised, crops and food grown and also for travel–those who left their homes and bravely set out without knowing what was in store for them. Today, we don’t notice the land in the same way–we drive on asphalt, see buildings, houses and shopping malls instead of crops (most places) and gardens. We don’t barter what we grow for what someone else grows. If the weather turns bad and ruins crops, prices might go higher but we are not truly affected. Our ancestors went hungry or went without money if their crops were destroyed.

Having a garden isn’t part of our survival now. We go to the local supermarket for our fruit and vegetables. We want flowers? Again, supermarket or other store-bought sources. We travel and pay money to view gardens or go on the internet or buy books. It’s a fact of life. But it’s also sad.

There is nothing so rewarding or even calming than digging in the dirt, letting the life-giving dirt fall between your fingers. The feel, the smell, the connection is still there I believe but life is so busy, even crazy, that we forget to just stop and smell the flowers or touch the leaves, or admire the textures of Mother Earth. Our yards if we are lucky to have a yard are planted to be “care-free” and sometimes planted with conforming to the neighborhoods instead of our own hearts.

Tomorrow, a 40 odd square foot of my backyard goes under the blades of a rototiller and then my journey of getting down and dirty begins. And as I spend time with Mother Earth, I’ll think often of my ancestors who didn’t ‘garden’ for a hobby but depended on what bounty they grew for their survival.

So let’s hear from you. If you could have any type of garden (food, herb, English Country, formal, etc.) what would choose and why? What would you plant? And what would a garden of your choosing represent to you. Do you think that working in the soil means anything to people in this day and age? Does it meet some kind of instinctual, emotional, or ingrained need inside us or have we as a race (those who don’t grow food commercially) gone beyond the need of connecting with our Earth Mother. And of course, any other comments are welcome.

Happy Reading (and Gardening).  You can also check out my website in a week or so for progress pictures of my medicine wheel garden along with covers of the latest four White books and other news.   A new contest will be up soon as well.

Susan Edwards

http://susanedwards.com

http://susanedwardsauthor.blogspot.com/

http://twitter.com/susan_edwards

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White Dove, White Deception, White Vengeance

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.

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