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The Quill Blog

Where writers tell the truth

For the Love of a Good Story!

They say the first words are the hardest to write; beginning a thought. Hard to argue that point, but for me, it has always been that way at the beginning of a book. Imagine then my fear when I was asked to begin a blog for an entire group of people. But, with ambition being the better part of fear, I plunge into the challenge in hopes that I do not disappoint those whom I have come to love and cherish.

I would introduce myself, but that isn’t important… not at this moment. Perhaps later we will be acquainted. What I am is ever so much more significant for our purposes here, and it will be within that perspective which I will engage.

It was suggested to me that I endeavor to blog about those things which matter greatly to me. At that notion, my mind exploded, and I was soon overwhelmed. I have a very loving and giving family; the one granted to me through birth, and the one I have acquired through the circumstances of life and living. I could, in fact, devote a post to each of them individually – with the recurring theme that they all seem to possess delusions of adequacy when it comes to me – so while the suggestion came from a fine place, it was of next to no assistance to me.

However, there remained a point of refuge: finding something I wanted to talk about which people coming to this post might want to read. Suddenly the pets, the flower garden, and the family that I adore fell by the wayside and I was able to channel my thoughts. I was reminded of something I have heard coming from one of my cohorts from time to time. It is a saying he is using with greater and greater frequency as his writing evolves. It is also a perspective I believe each Confederate shares and endeavors to demonstrate in their writing: the love of a good story! Relieved that I had at last found my reason for being (with regards to this posting), it was easier to begin at the beginning.

While I was still in the process of getting to know my colleagues – and soon to be brethren – which we now affectionately call the Confederacy of the Quill (don’t be surprised to see the name… it is their blog after all), I stumbled across the SylverMoon Chronicles. The cover was so basic that I found I could not take my eyes off of it. The crescent moon framing the title… the vast space of black between it and the list of authors who had contributed to the work (talking about the original cover here… the latest renovation is indeed quite sleek, but I am allowing myself a taste of nostalgia)… it was somewhat mystifying. I remember how my eye was drawn to the words ‘Volume I’ on the cover.

“How many volumes of these do you have?” I asked.

“Just the one,” Madolyn replied, followed ever so quickly by, “… so far.”

“Ambitious!” I replied. I made the mental note to keep an eye on their progress. So many can promise you the next horizon without ever taking from this one. I inquired further about the book and was informed that it was a collection of short stories. At over 200 pages, I thought that was a good size for a first volume.

“So, with a name like SylverMoon, I suppose these are horror stories.”

“Those too.”

“Too?”

“Four genres,” she said, and by this time G. Russell had joined us with a very evil grin on his face.

“Don’t you think that a bit too broad?” I suggested.

“You think anyone who loves a good story really cares about the genre?” G. Russell asked, and before I could respond he mentioned the Lord of the Rings.

Grrrrrrr.

At the very utterance of the title, I was on the defensive. I swear, if I hear another critique claiming that Tolkien was long-winded there may be a second War for Independence… despite how true the assertion may be!!!

“When you think about it, what’s missing from that story?” he continued. “Action… adventure… intrigue… romance… magic… good… evil… life… death… war… peace… it’s all there!”

“Not much in the way of technology,” I found myself saying, though I do not know where that came from.

“Tell that to the people of Gondor who had to deal with those siege machines,” he countered. “Not to mention the use of explosives at Helm’s Deep. Granted there’s no warp speed, but for the time, there’s some cutting edge stuff.

“A good story can make you read and appreciate a genre you may think you’re not into!”

The perspective was a strong one – do we really care about the genre if the material makes us want to turn the page?

I sat still for a moment and allowed my mind to recollect the pages, the ambiance of Tolkien’s genius and delivery. Genre indeed. I suppose, with everyone adorned in cloaks and capes – and the occasional shirt of chain mail of one ethnicity or another – the word Fantasy is the first to be applied. Still, within its first and final book cover there are several romances, a coming of age story, and the discovery of a mystical world in the midst of a sweeping transition… just to name a few.

Now I have to take a moment… remembering the way The Return of the King ends… and it’s making me emotional.

(I can’t tell you how many times I considered deleting that last paragraph)

So I started reading the SylverMoon Chronicles, and from the very first page I was drawn in. I am not a fan of Westerns so I was a bit taken aback when I read a story mixing that genre in with Fantasy. The only thing missing was the sound-effect of spurs clinging while our lone hero strode down the middle of the street of the dusty township. It was then I recalled how the story of The Seven Samurai was embraced. You may not know it by that title… by the time it reached American audiences it was called the Magnificent Seven with Yul Brener, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, etc., and the sword had been replaced with the gun. The strength of a good story weathered the slight changes (and it can be argued that the story of 300 Spartans preceded The Seven Samurai).

Another example that comes to mind is a new genre which stems from the merging of two older houses. I speak of Science Fantasy. I have to admit, when I first heard the term, I didn’t like it. It seemed to be a slap in the face of what was proper and true. Then I read The Blacke, the prelude to the Seekers of the Locke series, and there it was, a wonderful blend of the Fantasy with Science Fiction – though, admittedly, that is not what I thought when I finished reading it. I was thinking, Where the hell is the next book? (Hint hint hint, Reiter!)

Just ask yourself, do you think it really matters what weapon Inigo Montoya is using to fight his battles? Not as much as it matters that he repeats, “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father… prepare to die!” Just how different are Batman and Egg Shen (Big Trouble in Little China) when you boil them down to the basics? They are both obsessed, gadget-loving men who are about the business of eradicating that which threatens their city. The water-cooler discussion is whether you’d rather have a ten-demon bag or a utility belt. And, just in case you’re curious, bag… always the bag! At least until the perfectly thrown bat-a-rang cuts the strap and it falls from my side. Then I want the belt!

I want to fall in love like Romeo and Juliet (and I truly appreciate the edit my husband has provided – it was a bit of a sticking point that they both died at the end)… I want to run with the wolves and dance with the monkeys like Mogli… I want to race around the planet and see the world like Phileas Fogg… I want to kiss the clouds and explore the wondrous worlds of magic like Harry Potter…

Make me laugh, make me swoon, make me cry, make me cheer, and by all means… make me turn the page.

Oh, for the love of a good story!

 

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