Susan Edwards: Getting Down and Dirty

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 survival.  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).  Check out my website in a week or so to see progress of my Medicine Wheel Garden.  Also, news of a new contest coming soon.

Susan Edwards

Coming April 2012

White Dove, White Deception, White Vengeance & Summer of the Eagle

Find more about Susan and her books on her website: http://susanedwards.com or her blog http://susanedwardsauthor.blogspot.com/ .  Or you can follow Susan on Twitter http://twitter.com/susan_edwards or on her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Edwards/40226247104


 

Susan Edwards: Myth, Magic and Wonder

DISCOVERIES

A couple days ago, I redesigned my banner for my website and sent it to my son who designed my website.  I loved what I did but knew he’d find fault.  After all, he is a programmer, which makes pleasing his sensibilities with my creativity nearly impossible.  And <sigh>, I was right.  He vetoed most of what I did.  I have to wonder what happened to that creative little boy who along with his younger sister helped me discover my own creative writing talent.

You see, I was not always a writer, unlike so many authors who say they’ve always loved writing.  Me?  I 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!

I also 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 beginnings.

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 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 historicals.  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.  At the same time, I had an idea for a story playing in my head.

And here it comes for 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 remember using my dolls and stuffed animals and creating stories and “situations” for them.  As I grew up, my need for storytelling did not go away.  I had stories in my head day and night.

However, I did not write them down or tell them to others.  My stories were in my mind.  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.

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 this little story of my road to becoming a published author starts when I was married with two young children in the late 80′s as I consumed books about strong heroines and handsome warriors like an ocean swallowing a beach! One day, in my typical “daydreaming” or “story creation mode”, I came up with a heroine who meets a young, virile hero at stream. Hero was Native American and this “story” kept intruding on my thoughts–more so than normal.   Also, I could not move this story forward to “the end”.

It 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, 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, and my past English teachers faces 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 along published.

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.  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’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?

I would love to read your comments and hear of your own discoveries.  I can’t begin to list the many things I’ve discovered about myself since those awful school days and guess what?  It doesn’t stop.  The list just continues to grow as we grow.

Add your comments and I’ll enter you into a contest for a free copy of White Dawn in epub format.

Check out my website:   http://susanedwards.com  for excerpts and reviews on my White Series and news of upcoming releases.  The first 4 books in this series is out Nov. 21st.  I also have contests going on-info for that is currently being updated.  Check back this weekend.

Preorder your copy in E-Format at the following sites:

White Dawn
Carina Press
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
White Dusk
Carina Press
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
White Shadows
Carina Press
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
White Wind
Carina Press
Amazon Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook