Sunday, August 30, 2009


The Big Bad WolfI’m a huge fan of storytelling. My mother used to read stories to the children at my elementary school, my parents read nightly to me growing up, and I read to my own children.

Reading aloud from books helps them come alive. But I also enjoy oral storytelling (Isn’t all storytelling oral? I never understood that...) Beowulf is a favorite of mine (recorded after many years of being told by firelight), the Grimm Brothers wrote down stories that had been handed down through generations, and folk tales like Paul Bunyan had their genesis with families telling stories.

My singing is wretched, but I always sing to my daughter (and did for my son when he was younger). Their favorites are old American folk songs like “Oh, Susanna,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” and “She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain.” They also loved hearing nursery rhymes set to music.

Alice in Wonderland was penned after Lewis Carroll had been telling his young friend Alice story after story about her made- up adventures in a magical place.

My children love for me to tell stories without using a book. Sometimes they like to hear my renditions of fairy tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk,” but frequently they’re happy to hear stories about the day they were born, or funny stories from when they were toddlers.

It’s amazing how fast the story comes when there’s someone asking “What happens next?”

Wednesday, I’ll start writing my second book for the Memphis Barbeque Series (due April 1.) Right now I don’t even have a concept for the book.

One thing I do know is that I’ll be muttering aloud to myself. My cats and dog will stare oddly at me, but no humans are at home during the day on Wednesday. It’s the perfect time to work out a primitive story outline and see if I have a good enough concept for someone to wonder “What happens next?”

Reading aloud helps me with my revision process, too. I find so many errors that I’d otherwise never have noticed.

With any luck, by the time my kids get off the school bus, I’ll have a foundation to work with. After all, my mysteries are basically, “Once upon a time, someone was murdered….”

Does anyone else talk to themselves when they’re plotting? Or am I the only nutty one out there? :)