Final Countdown: 4 is for...

    I’ve decided to do a different kind of countdown. For each of the four remaining days, I’ll post that number — and how it relates to the novel in some way. Think of it as Sesame Street for romance readers.

    There are four days till Naked Edge hits bookstore shelves, so today’s blog is brought to you by the Number 4.

    Four is for...

    The Four Directions and Native ways of life

    Native traditions and culture make up a big part of this story. If the love story between Kat and Gabe is the beating heart of the story, then Native traditions and ways of life are its soul.

    This image above depicts a medicine wheel, representative of many things — among them, the circle of life; the hoop that ties all living things together in existence, and the Four Directions. Different Indian nations have different meanings for each of the Four Directions, and I've seen different spiritual leaders assign different colors to every direction but one: East.

    East, which is always yellow, is sacred to many Native culture. Among the Navajo, East is a sacred direction. When they awake in the morning, many traditional Navajo offer a bit of corn pollen to the East or say a prayer or sing a song to the east. Some run toward the east. During her kinaalda (puberty rite), a young woman runs to the East every day. Hogaans are "sung into being" with the door facing east. When women give birth, they face the East. When offering of tobacco is made to the Four Directions, it is first offered to the East.

    The heroine of Naked Edge, Kat James is Navajo and grew up in her grandmother's hogaan on the reservation near K'ai'bii'tó in Arizona. She had no electricity or running water and spent her time when she wasn’t in school helping her grandmother by herding and shearing sheep, planting and harvesting corn, and carding wool. She lives a traditional Navajo life — with her share of hardship and heartache.

    When she leaves the reservation and moves to Denver to work on the I-Team, she's far away from the songs and ceremonies that are a part of traditional Navajo life. But she's taken under the wing of a Hunkpapa Lakota medicine man and joins in Lakota ceremonies, like so many other displaced Native people of all Indian nations.

    Kat's beliefs guide her actions in life. She wants to walk a good path, to walk in Beauty, even though living a good life isn't necessarily easy. She plans to remain a virgin until she meets her true "half-side" — her perfect matching male half.

    From the moment she sees Gabe until the last page of the epilogue, Kat holds true to her beliefs, perhaps one reason why she is, in my opinion, the strongest heroine I've ever written. She's not a "kick-ass" heroine, but in her own quiet way she is utterly indomitable, drawing her strength from a deep knowledge of who she is.

    It's this very quality that Gabe senses. A man who believes in nothing, he is drawn to her rock-solid goodness and her spiritual strength. In the end it is her inner strength that saves him.

    Tomorrow, we look at Number 3... and the power of three friends — Gabe, Marc and Julian — and how they come together to save a woman who is special to all of them.

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