Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Autogolpe - (n.)

a coup organized by the government itself to take extra powers.
Example: The people who participated in the autogolpe were being arrested and brought to justice.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Peacemaker
by Joseph Bruchac

Flap Copy Description:
Twelve-year-old Okwaho's life has suddenly changed. While he and his best friend are out hunting, his friend is kidnapped by men from a neighboring tribal nation, and Okwaho barely escapes. Everyone in his village fears more raids and killings: The Five Nations of the Iroquois have been at war with one another for far too long, and no one can remember what it was like to live in peace.
Okwaho is so angry that he wants to seek revenge for his friend, but before he can retaliate, a visitor with a message of peace comes to him in the woods. The Peacemaker shares his lesson tales - stories that make Okwaho believe that this man can convince the leaders of the five fighting nations to set down their weapons. So many others agree with him. Can all of them come together to form the Iroquois Great League of Peace?

My Thoughts:
Joseph Bruchac's recently released Peacemaker is a compelling story for middle grade readers. It's a coming-of-age tale with themes of friendship and family, but also a more universal theme of humanity. I thoroughly enjoyed Peacemaker, and recommend it to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Joseph Bruchac.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Rewrite, Revise, Repeat

Since I began writing full time over a decade ago, I've slowly but surely found the process that works best for me. You might say, "isn't there one best way to write?" For me, the answer is "no." Beyond the question to outline or not (which I do), there's also the question of how many drafts it takes to complete your novel. I've completed four middle grade manuscripts, but only one is published. Two are completed first drafts, and the fourth has been rewritten six times since I began working on it nearly a decade ago.

The question of how many rewrites and revisions is necessary to complete a finished novel varies from author to author. My middle grade manuscript with six rewrites is a story that has had a metamorphosis as I've matured as a writer over the years.

The one thing I do know is that no one completes a novel in one draft.
After the initial draft is complete it's a matter of rewrite, revise, repeat.
(This is the method that works best for me, as well as many others.)

Right now, my dilemma is which manuscript to work on. I had thought I'd be rewriting my NaNoWriMo project from last November. However, other projects are calling out to me. If I'm lucky enough to have extra motivation for a particular story (which is not always the case), I tend to enjoy writing more - and am more productive - than when I'm working on a project like it's a job. I need to select from these four stories:

The Rabbit of Rouen - An historical fiction novel for middle grade readers. It's set in WWII France. (Only one draft is completed; it's my recent NaNoWriMo project.)

Cloud Mountain - A magical realism middle grade novel. It's set in the Guatemalan Highlands and was inspired by our trip there in 2018 - as well as the amazing young girl, Catarina, that we sponsor. (Only one draft is completed; it's my 2019 NaNoWriMo project.)

Livvi Biddle - A middle grade fantasy novel that has been my main focus for the last decade. After six rewrites, numerous revisions, multiple critiques, and a number of rejections by agents, for some reason I still have hope it might become an actual book. At some point I need to get it published (traditionally or independently), or shove it in a drawer and lock the key! The thing is, it's the only project I've completed that is even remotely ready for the eyes of an agent, and I still hope to gain agent representation someday. We'll see.

The Winter Wayfarer - A collaborative project I'm working on with my husband; it's the upcoming fourth story in our series of Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. This fantasy short story is set in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and has been rewritten three times, but still requires editing. The project also needs most of the paintings to be completed by Michael. We're both a bit weary from our last project together, although we're very pleased with the result of The Night of the North. (See the sidebar to check out the cover.) We are committed to publishing these stories independently to retain control of the artwork.

As you can see, while I've had four books independently published, I also have four manuscripts still sitting on my shelf! Then too, there are several more ideas rattling around in my brain. While it's tempting to begin a new story, I feel I must complete one of the above projects.

I'll make my decision very soon, and when I do, I'll blog about it.
No matter what, I'm in for a rewrite, a revision, and possibly, a repeat!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Inauguration (n.)
-the formal admission of someone to office.
-a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.
Example: The inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President was a welcome event for the U.S. citizens.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Cinders & Sparrows
by Stefan Bachmann

Flap Copy Description:
In a witch's house, nothing is as it seems.
When a scarecrow climbs over the garden wall, delivering twelve-year-old orphan Zita Brydgeborn a letter saying she has inherited a distant castle, she jumps at the chance of adventure. But little does she know that she is about to be thrust into a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Blackbird Castle was once home to a powerful dynasty of witches, all of them now dead under mysterious circumstances. All but Zita. And Zita, unfortunately, doesn't know the first thing about being a witch.

As she begins her lessons in charms and spells with her guardian, Mrs. Cantanker, Zita makes new allies - a crow, a talking marble head, two castle servants just her age named Bram and Minnifer, and the silent ghost of a green-eyed girl. But who is friend and who is foe? Zita must race to untangle her past and find the magic to save the home she's always hoped for. Because whatever claimed the souls of her family is now after her.

My Thoughts:
This middle grade novel by the talented author, Stefan Bachmann, is a magical tale told in the same stunning literary style that has made the 27-year-old a sensation in the world of children's books. (I had the pleasure of meeting him several years ago in Portland, OR.) Needless to say, I loved Cinders & Sparrows; it's a spellbinding story that you just can't put down. I highly recommend this recently released fantasy to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Stefan Bachmann.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Words Matter; Words are Seeds

In the last four years we've all heard the phrase, "words matter," from news anchors, political leaders, and others, many times. Another related phrase is, "you reap what you sow."

Since the tragic events on January 6th, I've pondered the power our President's words have had on the minds of many of our fellow citizens. It's sad; it's frightening, it's dangerous; and it should be a wake-up call to everyone on how and why the words we utter matter.

As a gardener, when I plant a tomato seed, I'm hoping to have a tomato plant grow from that seed. I don't expect a pumpkin to grow from a tomato seed, or a sunflower to grow from a tomato seed. 

The fir tree pictured at the center of this photo, is a volunteer. (If you're not familiar with what a volunteer tree is, it's a tree that grew from a seed that took root on its own.) As you see, the tree is now quite large. Since we built the fence to accommodate it twenty-four years ago, we've enjoyed it.

My point is, even though we didn't know the sapling had taken root, it had. Seeds have a life of their own, just like words have a life of their own. Words can take root in a heart, even without our knowledge. Understand that the words that you speak have power - for good or for evil.

Finally, I would say that as children's book authors we have a particular responsibility to not only be honest, inspirational, and entertaining, but most of all (in my opinion), to provide some hope to our young readers. Choosing our words thoughtfully, and wisely, is always essential.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Chatelaine (n.)
1- a woman in charge of a large house.
2- a set of short chains attached to a woman's belt, used for carrying keys.
Example: The Speaker of the House was a champion chatelaine, indeed.