Friday, April 20, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Strength from Nature

While recently working in my backyard, I was again reminded that Nature is one of my greatest inspirations. (I actually like to weed my flower garden!) As I nestled down in the moist earth, the sights, sounds, and smells permeated my soul. I was strengthened as the cares of my life fell away.

I heard a flock of geese flying overhead, then saw them glide through the air in perfect formation. Later, our neighborhood eagle squawked as he soared over my head and then landed lightly atop the evergreen where he's nested for over a decade. (His view of the Columbia River from that tree upon the hill must be magnificent!) My life is always refreshed and rejuvenated when I commune with the natural world.

As a writer, it is imperative that I have a clear conscience and a clear mind when penning my stories for children. Spending time amongst God's creation is not only inspirational, it cleanses my soul. My being is centered and I am better equipped to tap into my creativity. But more than that, I'm reminded of what is truly important in my life. Living each moment is easier to do when my hands are in touch with the soil of our planet. Trees, flowers, and birds have become my family, my friends. It's not surprising, then, that every story for children that I've ever written includes the flora and fauna of the settings in each of my tales.

This quote helps me during the current climate of chaos in our world:

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Trouvaille - (n.)
something lovely discovered by chance.
Example: The metal trinket was a trouvaille found in an antique shop.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Alan Gratz

Flap Copy Description:
Three different kids.
One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

My Thoughts:
Author Alan Gratz has written a must-read novel for young readers! Refugee intertwines the escape stories of three youths that have surprising similarities even though they all hail from different parts of the world. While I was reading this masterpiece penned by Mr. Gratz, all I kept thinking was that everyone - especially tweens and teens - needs to read this book. The knowledge and understanding it bestows regarding the plight of refugees - no matter what their country of origin - is something so important to the future of not only our country of the U.S., but to the entire world. When I read the conclusion to this well-written and engaging novel I wept tears of sorrow. While the three protagonists' stories are fictional, their extraordinary tales are based on true events. I highly recommend Refugee to readers of all ages. 

Mr. Gratz is generously donating a portion of his proceeds from the sale of Refugee to UNICEF to support their relief efforts with refugee children around the world. You may donate here: UNICEF

Friday, April 13, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Gift of Solitude

It's been ten years since my youngest son left home for college and subsequently settled in Brooklyn, New York. That was the same year our little dog, Robin, passed away. Since my husband still has a day job, it's been pretty quiet around here since then. At first I struggled with the change of dynamics in our home, and dealt with depression, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. However, as the months and years have passed by, I've come to appreciate the fact that I have a quiet place in which to write my stories.

In fact, I realize that I'm actually lucky! Many writers have told me they struggle with day jobs and/or the schedules of their children. Since I'm an introvert, the solitude has allowed me to read, blog, and grow as a writer. Having so much free time has enabled me to do extensive research for my manuscripts - which made my stories so much better. I've even published two of my three books, which taught me so much about the world of publishing, and marketing, books for children.

However, the biggest benefit I've realized from my solitude is the ability to reconnect with my own soul. After being a full-time health care professional for many years - and a hands-on mom of three boys - like many women, my own hobbies and desires got lost along the way. We recently joined an athletic club which has allowed me to participate in yoga and meditation again. It's added a sense of peace to my life. I've also picked up other long lost hobbies - like playing my flute.

All this started by being alone - by having the freedom and solitude in which to explore my creativity. Solitude allowed me to reinvent myself.

This process hasn't been easy. In fact, is was one of the toughest things I've ever done. Like many difficult tasks, once they're completed they often offer the most satisfaction. This journey has been worth it. Now all I have to do is keep creating stories to inspire young readers. In fact, it's time for this scribe to get back to blissful solitude!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Whimsical Word of Week

Coddiwomple (v.)
to travel purposefully toward a vague destination.
Example: The hitchhiker began to coddiwomple in a southerly direction.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

La La La
by Kate DiCamillo
and Illustrated by Jaime Kim

Amazon Description:
This nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend.
"La la la . . . la." A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds -- but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last.

My Thoughts:
When you're as gifted an author as Kate DiCamillo, you can create a masterpiece with just one word! That's just what the two-time Newbery Medalist did in La La La, along with the extraordinary illustrator Jaime Kim. This powerful picture book reminds us all to have courage enough to speak, and the faith enough to believe that someone, somewhere, will respond. I highly recommend La La La to children of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Kate DiCamillo.

I was lucky enough to hear Ms. DiCamillo in Portland, Oregon at the Alberta Rose Theatre during one of her book signing events. She's not only a talented author, she's a pretty good comedienne, as well!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Power of Books

Since the Parkland, Florida shooting, I've come across a few comments like:
"I'm not sure why people are so surprised that the students are rising up - we've been feeding them a steady diet of dystopian literature showing teens leading the charge for years. We have told teen girls they are empowered. What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation."
Tweet by teacher, Jennifer Ansbach

The tragedy those high school students of Margory Stoneman Douglas experienced was horrific, and something no human being - anywhere - should ever endure. That being said, the response from those brave teenagers stunned the world, and is still impacting society by their March For Our Lives two weeks ago in Washington D.C. and the "NeverAgain" movement. Their courage has caused me to ponder just what I can do, as a writer. Believing that the power of books may have played a small part in the way the MSD students responded is no little thing. It's a reminder that the role we play, as children's book authors, is abundantly important. Whether you're an author of picture books, middle grade novels, or books for young adults we all need to remember that we're speaking to the generation that will carry on long after we're gone. If one child finds solace, strength, courage, or inspiration from a book I've written, it will have been worth all my toil and effort to bring my words to life. That knowledge makes my task a responsibility, realizing that books can truly impact not only the lives of young readers, but the entire world.