Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Rusticate - (v.)
to go to the country.
Example: While the woman hunkered down in her home, she wished she could rusticate, like she was accustomed to each spring.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

In a Jar
by Deborah Marcero

Goodreads Description:
Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars - ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things - like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they've seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection - and their special friendship - from afar?

My Thoughts:
This recently released picture book by Deborah Marcero is just beautiful! Its story is heartwarming and sure to inspire the imagination and curiosity of little ones everywhere. And, with a cast of rabbits, In a Jar would make a fantastic spring gift for Easter, or Passover. I highly recommend this picture book for children aged three to seven.

Click here to learn about author/illustrator Deborah Marcero.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Insights from Self-Isolation

Today marks three weeks since I've been in self isolation-sheltering at home. On March 13th I chose to begin a self-quarantine since I was feeling a cold coming on; experts were already encouraging social distancing due to Covid-19. As the days passed by, my symptoms included: coughing, difficulty breathing, tightness in my chest, etc. Needless to say, I was definitely frightened.

After listening carefully to medical experts, I realized that staying home (unless my symptoms worsened) was the best course of action for me. Besides the fact that to obtain a test was nearly impossible at that time. Thankfully, I can say that my condition improved; I'm much better now, though I have a residual cough, and little energy for physical work. (Until there's an antibody test, I can't know if I actually had Covid-19.)

Insights from my illness, and during my current self-isolation: 

1) Family - My family members stepped up big time! My husband took on all the duties that I usually handle. Things like grocery shopping, paying bills, etc., in addition to still working at his place of employment. We also agreed that we should isolate from each other, which we did. My sons (two of whom live in New York City) have reached out to me, checking up on me. Their kind concern means so much right now. (I'm also concerned for them.) My eldest son, David (who lives nearby), and his wife, Jessica, have also stayed in contact. They even tracked down a new theremometer for me after going from store to store and finding none available. Our family members have definitely grown closer together than we already were. I've been reminded of not only how much I love each of them, but how much I need each of them.

2) Gratitude - The doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel that are putting their lives on the line are incredible. I'm in awe of their sacrificial efforts to save our fellow citizens; they are the true heroes. (I'm also appreciative to those Americans who continue to work to keep our society afloat; they are also putting their health in jeopardy to do so.) When I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think of those selfless heroes - a reality check. I'm reminded I have so much to be grateful for.

3) Faith - During the period of solitude, managing my fear, loneliness, and melancholy, seemed to steer me back to my faith. Years ago, I stopped attending church - for reasons I won't go into right now. That being said, I never lost my faith, and belief in prayer. Consequently, I've done more praying in the last three weeks than I've done in the past year. It has brought me a lot of comfort, peace, and inspiration.

4) Simplification - When you can't go to your hair stylist, manicurist, bookstore, or favorite eatery, you find ways to get by. You also realize that what makes your life one of substance isn't those items. It should be comprised of the precious things that we can't touch, things like: kindness, tolerance, generosity, and love. They're what really matter. Gazing upon the signs of spring, like daffodils in my flowerbeds and blossoms on the trees, has also brought me comfort. Simplification.

5) Self Care & Reflection - Early on in my illness & self-isolation, I attempted to continue doing my regular routine. Things like walking five miles a day (back & forth in my basement), writing, cleaning the house, cooking, etc. What a mistake! Not only did my condition not improve, it worsened slightly. (Until my son's girlfriend, Caity, strongly encouraged me to stay in bed.) Once I heeded that advice, I began to feel better. Allowing others to assist me has always been difficult for me to do. As I accepted help from others, I felt so much love. I know it strengthened me and helped me heal. I've always been extremely independent. However, this was a time to humble myself and to be a bit dependent. 

6) Releasing Control - In addition to accepting help from others, I was confronted with the need to let go of thinking I could control anything. Coronavirus is not something we can really control. The financial challenge we're all facing is not something we can control. Being separated from our family and friends is not something we can control. That being said, "letting go" can be a liberating exercise. As we are all attempting to "flatten the curve," it's become apparent that the best thing we can all do, in some ways, is to shelter in. Especially if you are adhering to "Stay Home - Stay Healthy" like our governor here in Washington State instructed us to do. We're all learning that what we do has significant repercussions on our families, friends, and communities.

7) Creativity - My husband and I have been able to continue working on our current collaboration - albeit, while distancing from one another. (It's the third illustrated book in our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales series.) I can already see how this crisis might affect my writing: It's definitely increased my levels of gratitude, compassion, empathy, and insight. As writers, we can only create meaningful stories if we have our own tough experiences to draw upon. May each of us create imaginative tales for young readers that offer encouragement and inspiration.

) Personal Growth - When you're isolated alone in your home you have a lot of time with your own thoughts. I realized that I could either sink into a depression (which is something I've previously battled), or I could grow. To be honest, I think that so far I'd give myself a C+. While I haven't sunk into a deep depression, I've not spent my time in the best way possible either. Yes, I've been reading and writing, but I've also allowed my mind to wander down paths of fear. Still, just being aware of the need to stay focused on positive thoughts has helped me in this difficult time. I'm finally learning to adapt to this temporary new normal in small ways. My hope is that we'll all come out of this horrible pandemic with greater amounts of patience, kindness and resilience. It might even cause some of us to bloom in ways we never imagined!

Public Domain Photo

Wishing each of you courage and strength as we battle this Coronavirus Pandemic. We'll all get through this together!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Spring is in the Air!

After what felt like an extremely long winter (especially with the Covid-19 Pandemic), it's great to see the sunshine and the flowers appear. I'm looking forward to spending time in the outdoors, as well as catching up on my reading. Consequently, I'll be taking a break from Writ of Whimsy until early April. 

During the health crisis we're all dealing with, I encourage each of you to take a walk, read a book, or explore a possible new hobby. With a little bit of effort, the required social distancing will not only keep the majority of us healthy, but will also yield a newfound inspiration. May it also promote kindness, humility, and remind us of our need for one another. Stay connected to your loved ones, but stay home if possible.

I'm self-isolating, and have been for a week, with a cold & cough. Since I reside in Washington State, I'll admit I'm a bit frightened. Sadly, three people have died in our county. Please, take this pandemic seriously!

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Wishing each of you a Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whuffle - (v.)
to make a low snuffling or blowing sound.
Example: The elderly man seemed to whuffle as he shuffled with his walker.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Imaginaries
by Emily Winfield Martin

Goodreads Description:
Emily Winfield Martin, shares her "Imaginaries": paintings from over the last ten years, captioned with one sentence.
From mermaids and giant flowers to magical robes and mysterious characters, each image is given a one-line caption - the beginning of a story, or maybe the middle - you imagine the rest. The captions are hand-written on vintage scraps of paper, envelopes, postcards and more.

My Thoughts:
Whenever a writer creates a book in a unique format, I'm always curious. Ms. Martin's latest contribution is extraordinary! Her art is whimsical; the accompanying captions are illuminating, and the book will inspire imaginative souls of all sorts. I highly recommend The Imaginaries - Little Scraps of Larger Stories to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn about author/illustrator, Emily Winfield Martin.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Another Creative Collaboration!

While we were in Alaska in May of 2017, I spent a significant amount of time taking notes and doing research for another possible Lindstrom Wintertime Tale. Michael and I recently began working on another one of our illustrated short stories!

While I've completed the text for our tale set in the Alaskan Wilderness, Michael has been so busy that he only recently found time to begin working on the illustrations done in oil paints. This process is very time consuming, so I can't promise when our creation will be published and available.

Here is the initial sketch-in of his first painting. Every oil painter has his own way of creating a composition; this is how Michael begins. Since this illustration will also serve as the cover, we spent a lot of time discussing what would best represent our storybook. (We've yet to pin down a title.)

Here is the finished painting-illustration - I love it! Once it's photographed with a high-resolution camera, I'll send it to my talented cover designer/book formatter, Kriston. Having the book cover completed will allow me to use it for marketing while Michael completes the rest of the illustrations.

All of Michael's illustrations have a timeless, almost fairy-tale feeling to them. They work well with our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales since all of them take place decades ago. (This latest one is set in the 1920's.)

As I've mentioned on Writ of Whimsy before, I like the flexibility that working on multiple projects at once affords me. While I enjoy the freedom that publishing our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales provides, I also have a middle grade fantasy novel - Livvi Biddle - that I am submitting to agents, with the hope of being traditionally published.

As I mentioned last week, while a writer waits for a response from literary agents, she must continue to create! In fact, that's how our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales came to be. I felt like seeing any of my stories come to life was completely out of my control. However, when Michael and I embarked on creating and publishing illustrated short stories, I was able to better accept the outcome of my submissions to literary agents and keep on writing. For me, this approach works well.

Keep writing and honor your creativity!