Friday, May 26, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Make It Matter

As writers of fiction, we spend much, if not most, of our time considering such things as plot, setting, dialogue,  & strength of scenes - not to mention the issue of character development!

There are other elements to crafting a quality story, but one that is not stressed enough is the importance of a strong & meaningful theme.

Does my story matter? Is there an underlying message in my story that matters to me personally? Would it matter to my potential readers?

Writing "what we know" can also mean writing "what matters to us." What has deeply touched us in our lives? What has wounded us?

There is an endless list of experiences that may have touched us.
Here is a short list of examples:

Death/Grief
Betrayal
Loss of a job, a dream, a friend, etc.
Raising a child with challenges
Dealing with a chronic medical condition
Lack of finances

Then there are the numerous stories we all see everyday in the news. War, famine, sickness, political strife, etc. There are also accounts of inspirational heroism and sacrifice. Stories that touch our hearts.

A great example of a story that was created by an author who was moved with compassion is the middle grade novel Wonder.



Ms. Palacio was moved to write her novel by this experience:

"Palacio wrote Wonder after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with facial birth defects. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation. Natalie Merchant's song "Wonder" made her realize that the incident could teach society a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant's lyrics and she began writing." (Wikipedia)

As you can see the experience Ms. Palacio had with her son grabbed hold of her heart and wouldn't let go. Thankfully she was moved to write her inspirational novel that has touched so many in our society.

The important thing to remember as writers is to connect with our hearts and create a story from there. It is not enough to evaluate possible themes without being personally affected by them. Each of us is touched by a wide array of meaningful subjects everyday.

We all need to have the courage to create the story only we can write.


Make It Matter.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Coddiwomple (v.)
to travel purposefully towards a vague destination.
Example: The hiker slowly realized that he was lost as he coddiwompled around the woods.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Crows of Pearblossom
by Aldous Huxley
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Flap Copy Description:
Written in 1944 by Aldous Huxley as a Christmas gift for his niece, The Crows of Pearblossom tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who live in a cottonwood tree. The hungry Rattlesnake that lives at the bottom of the tree has a nasty habit of stealing Mrs. Crow's eggs before they can hatch, so Mr. Crow and his wise friend, Old Man Owl, devise a sneaky plan to trick him. 

My Thoughts:
When I learned that Aldous Huxley had written a children's book, I immediately ordered it. What a delightful discovery! While the story is a bit dark - not unlike some fairy tales of that era - the plot does not suffer unduly, and I found this beautiful book to be a rare find. The whimsical illustrations by Sophie Blackall perfectly illuminate the tale of the two anthropomorphic crows, as well as their friend, Old Man Owl. I highly recommend The Crows of Pearblossom to all young readers!

Click here to read the biography of Aldous Huxley.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Your Book
Part III
Last Friday I discussed the different ways I've marketed my books after their publication. This week I'll share other fun and creative ways to market your books. (Some of these ideas involve a bit of financial investment, so I consider them optional.)

Bookmarks:
Bookmark for my soon-to-be released children's book!
Bookmarks are a great item to include when a person purchases your book. You can also use them as swag for people who attend your book event, even if they do not choose to purchase one of your books.

Swag:
Hand-made slate "amulets" make great swag.

Use your imagination to create an item that relates to your book. In Journey to Snowdonia the two children featured in my tale receive magical slate amulets from a mysterious woman in the woods. Some ideas to create or buy include: fairy wands, pencils, buttons, etc. An item that relates to your story is best!
Video:


                          Book trailer for my upcoming book: Journey to Snowdonia

Whether or not book trailers sell more books is something I cannot say. What I do know is that they create a fun and entertaining medium for young readers. I've received comments from parents & kids, stating how much they enjoy them - but they're definitely an optional item.

This is the third and final post regarding marketing. The points I've made during the past few weeks have been ideas that have worked for me. However, marketing is something that can be tailor made for each author. Your book, your personality, and your location, all contribute to the marketing style that will work for you. But whether you're published traditionally or independently, get ready to do a lot of work!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ignominious - (adj.)
deserving or causing public disgrace or shame.
Example: The Independent politician experienced an ignominious defeat.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Monet Paints a Day
Written by Julie Danneberg - Illustrated by Caitlin Heimerl

Flap Copy Description:
In November 1885, impressionist painter Claude Monet vacationed in √Čtretat, France, where he spent his days outside, painting scenes of the seaside village. One morning he rose early and carried all of his supplies and half-finished paintings out to the cliffs and rocky beach, finally stopping to paint the arch called Manneporte. Eager to capture the scene before him, and aware that he must work quickly to catch the light, Monet became so engrossed in his work that he forgot to watch the incoming tide. Based on a true incident, MONET PAINTS A DAY introduces readers to the life and nature of this illustrious impressionist.

My Thoughts;
Since I love impressionist paintings - and admire those of Claude Monet in particular - Monet Paints a Day was a winner for me! Additionally, I've outlined a middle grade novel that includes the iconic French artist as a secondary character, so this little book served as a reference as well. Its text and paintings are meant to introduce children to Impressionism, and to Claude Monet - it succeeds on both counts. Beautiful water colors - done in Monet's color palette - transport the reader back to Normandy France where the "Father of Impressionism" lived, painted scenes, and spent most of his time. I highly recommend Monet Paints a Day to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Julie Danneberg.
Click here to learn more about the artist, Caitlin Heimerl.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Your Book
Part II
Last Friday I posted an introduction to "Marketing Your Book" prior to the release of your novel. Today I'll share different ways you can promote your book once it's been published. These techniques are those I've found to be valuable in marketing my own books.

After the release of your book make sure to continue to employ your online sites to promote your novel as was mentioned last week.

In addition to those online techniques, a number of other book events can be held, since you now have your books in hand:

*Book Launch Events - Can be held at a bookstores, libraries, etc.
*Readings of your book - At a local library, elementary school, etc.
*Book Events - Can be scheduled at all sorts of shops, galleries, etc.
*Festivals & Fairs - Many festivals & fairs can be possible venues for your book. (My biggest sales for The Scandinavian Santa have come from ScanFair in Portland, Oregon!)

Make sure to continue to network with your writer/author friends. Some of them might make great resources for book promotion opportunities.
Remember to return the favor when you can. While my friends are faithful to attend my book events, I always try to do the same for them.

Next Friday: Other fun and creative ways to promote your book!