I have always been a storyteller.

Growing up in Mississippi if someone said, “You’re telling a story,” by story she meant an elaborate, embellished lie dressed up to look like truth. I was full of stories, even back then. They poured out as I walked home with friends from school and flowed through my head as I lay on my back in my yard watching the stars when the world was asleep.

I honed my skills by listening. Eavesdropping on my mother and her friends as they straightened each other's hair in the kitchen or shelled peas on the porch, I listened to them narrate the events of their lives to each other. I listened to the stories they concocted to teach us lessons in life. And I read every kind of story I could get my hands on, from fairy tales to my mother’s Book-of-the-Month Club selections to the 300-page classics I checked out from the library in spite of the librarian who couldn't resist raising an eyebrow at me over the rim of her cat-eye glasses.