Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Slake - (v.)
quench or satisfy one's thirst.
Example: The eggnog didn't seem to slake Santa's thirst.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Sean Hayes & Scott Icenogle

Flap Copy Description:
Plum will not stay glum.

For as long as she can remember, Plum has lived at the Mary Fitzgerald Orphanage, wishing and hoping for a family. When a sudden snowfall threatens a delivery of presents on Christmas Eve, Plum is determined to save Christmas—even for the kids who laugh at her.

Plum’s pure heart grants her an unexpected reward. When she eats a cake left behind by a mysterious magician, she is transported into the Land of Sweets. But Christmas here is threatened, too—by a sourness that is spreading from the center of the land. Plum’s determined to help, and in doing so, she might just find the family she’s always dreamed of, thanks to a good heart—and Christmas magic!

My Thoughts:
Plum is a unique holiday picture book, full of magic and wonder. Its story is a small reminder that maintaining a kind heart - even when others are not so nice - is its own reward. However, in this enchanting tale, Plum is also rewarded in an unexpected way: She becomes a member in a very special royal family! The lovely illustrations by Robin Thompson perfectly bring Plum to life. I highly recommend this holiday picture book for children aged three to seven!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Celebration of Light

During the December holidays, themes of love, kindness, and compassion are all around us. As writers of books for children, we should always strive to include these important themes.
In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"

As I've mused on the ways that our hearts are inspired during the holidays, the idea of Light came to mind. Light is an important element in Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Why is that? While in each celebration light symbolizes something a bit different than the others, one thing they all have in common is the idea that love is light.

In the writing of fantasy stories - or movies - a common theme is: Light will overcome the Darkness. While that may seem like a convenient premise for writers, I believe it's true. If light is love, then Love will overcome Hate is another way to basically say the same thing.

In these dark and turbulent political times, it's more important than ever that our stories reflect a kindness, acceptance, compassion, and love toward all mankind. It is up to us, those who speak to the next generation through our stories, to remind our youth that being of the highest character (being a good person!) is the best gift they can give themselves. Spreading the light of love can be done everyday in big and small ways. It's the only way our society will return to some human decency; if we each strive to shine a bit brighter in our world.

"To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness in yourself." C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Runnel (n.)
1- a narrow channel
2- a small brook, or stream of liquid
Example: A runnel of sweat ran down the athlete's nose.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Wolf in the Snow
by Matthew Cordell

Goodreads Description:
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?

Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts.

My Thoughts:
When I learned that Matthew Cordell's book, Wolf in the Snow had won the 2018 Caldecott medal, I immediately purchased a copy last February. Since it's so special, I waited to feature it until nearly this winter. (I strongly recommend it be read with a big mug of hot cocoa!) It's hard to overstate the beauty of Mr. Cordell's illustrations, and they so perfectly bring his wintertime tale to life. I love the ending of this timeless book; it is sure to bring joy to your heart this holiday season!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Matthew Cordell.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Santa Catalina Arch - Antigua, Guatemala
Inspiration from Locations; Inspiration from Illustrations

While I was in Antigua, Guatemala, an idea for a middle grade novel began rattling around in my brain. (Most of my inspiration comes from a specific place.) I wanted to document my experience not only in photos, but in some sort of creativity. And since I was on a tour with a group of artists, I decided it was about time I try my hand at a watercolor!

As I got into painting the clock tower, I could see right away how boring my painting looked. So, I decided to try the technique made famous by Georges Seurat - painting in small dots of color. It was a good idea, but Seurat was a wizard at creating patterns and textures. Oh well...

Here's the thing: It's not about how well you can paint, draw, or sketch; it's about your rendition of the place you want to remember. Especially if it's meant as a reference for a future story. In that sense, my watercolor was a success. I remember much more about the clock tower & arch from looking at my painting. Because I labored over it, studied the subject, and remember that white cloud that was behind the cross. I feel much more connected to that spot than if I'd just snapped a photo. (Don't get me wrong, I love taking photos!)

My point is, whenever it's possible, attempt to create a sketch, drawing, painting, etc. that will help you connect to a person, place, or thing that is significant in your story. Remember: this exercise is for you, to help you connect with your story. You need not share it with anyone else.

In September I had the most magical experience that ties into this subject. While I was at the SCBWI Fall Retreat in Silverton, OR, several illustrators in attendance were kind enough to sketch or draw a small snippet of stories written by the writers who were also in attendance. The talented artist that sketched a scene from my MG novel, Livvi Biddle - The Secret at Stonehenge, was Erin Hourigan.

Illustration by Erin Hourigan - 9/20/18
What Erin created brought tears to my eyes. I have worked on Livvi Biddle for seven years (I'm now sending out queries), and never seen an actual sketch or drawing of any part of my story. I love what Ms. Hourigan sketched! In fact, she somehow captured the feeling I was hoping to create by the words on the first page of my book. Thanks again, Erin! (Click here to see her work.)

So, whether you create a sketch, drawing, or painting of your story - or you're lucky enough to have a talented artist do it - having a visual rendition of a person, place or thing is invaluable as you work through your manuscript. Besides, it's a great way to take a break & have fun!

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Miscellany - (n.)
a group or collection of different items; a mixture.
Example: The wizard's hut was cluttered with a miscellany of magical items.