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Joy of Storytelling

I've just returned from my summer vacation, which, as many of you know, I typically take once a year, to the White Mountains. My home-away-from-home inspired my debut series, and it often serves as a place where I can gather my thoughts, recharge and reflect on the past year. In this secluded paradise of pine trees, rocks, rivers and lakes, I can relax and concentrate in a way that is nearly impossible to do at any other time throughout the course of a busy year. I cherish my opportunity to be in this place and I often use it to focus on something I love more than almost anything else in the world - a good book! This year, cruising the book sale at the Naples Public Library, I stumbled upon a title by Cassie Edwards, an author whose work I've greatly enjoyed in the past. I enjoy Ms. Edwards's stories, not only because of her amazing characters and dynamic plot lines, but because she creates a world completely unlike the ones in which I create for the characters in my own stories. Reading Sun Hawk, a Native American romance, I was taken back to a time and place I know well, both from the descriptions provided in Cassie Edwards's novels, and in those of other historic romance authors. While I was immersing myself in the story however, my mind was not entirely focused, as more so than the fun of Sun Hawk's and Summer Hope's romance, I was reminded of the joy of storytelling, something I haven't experienced for myself in quite some time, something I long to experience again, yet, for a wide variety of reasons, life as of late has taken me in other directions.

Storytelling, by definition, is the activity of telling or writing stories. Whereas fantasy, though similar in concept, is described as the activity of imagining things, especially those that are impossible or improbable. In a world of readers and writers who are drawn to different genres and subgenres, I find this subtle distinction to be very interesting, as it labels fantasy (the precursor to storytelling, if you will) as being particularly geared toward the impossible and the improbable. It was these very elements that drew me to the world of fiction, first, as a child, watching soap operas with my mother, viewing stories that often focused on larger than life circumstances and situations and then as an adult watching Smallville, a TV show that centers around the teenage life of Superman, a scifi drama with enough romance to qualify as a soap opera in its own right, but also, paranormal and suspenseful elements, including but not limited to the appearances of aliens, mad scientists and danger at every turn. Danger excites me. Romance and passion excite me! (They make a killer combination, too!) I've heard other writers say that other fiction often inspires their own writing, and I am no exception to this rule. I think the reason why this method works is simple - inspiration fuels inspiration. When I'm engrossed in a larger-than-life universe that is full of romance and suspense, I feel as though I've come home.

I've participated in many discussions with other writers, both panel-style as well as informal, conversations dissecting the differences between writers who pre-plot their stories and those who fly by the seat of their pants, so to speak, jumping right into the fire and putting the pieces together as they come naturally, with no strict guidelines to restrict their creativity. The difference between these methods is a discussion in and of itself, but I will simply make mention of the fact that working against one's own instinctive method may stifle creativity, whereas going with the flow can jumpstart it - for me, fantasizing about a story through the practice of outlining it can turn a simple idea into a full blown novel, or at least the blueprints for one. It is not surprising then, that when a burst of inspiration strikes, my mind gets right to work on an outline, working out the beginning, middle and ending of a story even before my fingers hit the keys. I call this fantasizing, and the fact that I also happen to love the impossible and improbable - that's a plus! If I'm creating an outline in my mind, (as it began to, in between reading chapters) there's an excellent chance a novel will follow!

Time is a luxury few of us can afford in a busy world, packed daily with that which we love to do and that which we have to. But when reading a favorite author's work, a world of ideas can come into one's mind, and it can inspire an infinite number of stories. I can't promise it will always work this way, but for me, reading in a different genre than the one I write in often fuels my creativity, and I have learned to take inspiration from where it comes. As we kick off September, a time many of us consider a new beginning, I hope to once again make storytelling an integral part of my life. Thank you, Cassie Edwards, and all of you, my reader and writer friends, for your encouragement and inspiration. My muse is infinitely grateful!

My Review of Cassie Edwards's Sun Hawk:

This wasn't my favorite story by Cassie Edwards, but I'm always up for one of her Indian romances! The story stands out among her titles, as the hero, Sun Hawk, is born white, but is raised by the Ojibwa and grows up to become their chief. Though the romance occurs rather quickly, I enjoyed watching him fall in love with Summer Hope, who is so much like Sun hawk in so many ways. A lot of telling occurs where I would have preferred things be shown, but I couldn't help falling in love with Ms. Edward's characters, all of whom are strong and easy to relate to, sans villain Pierre. I especially enjoyed one of Sun Hawk's greatest surprises as he stumbles upon someone he definitely wasn't expecting to. I won't spoil the story for you, so if you'd like to escape with a good Indian romance, give this title a read and see for yourself! 

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Playing with words and meaning.