Friday, December 9, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
         A Holiday Update!

Since it has been a while since I last mentioned any specifics regarding my current projects, I thought it was time to post an update. (I'll also post my quarterly newsletter next week.)

The whimsical illustration below is just one of the lovely paintings my husband - Michael Lindstrom - has created for our next holiday picture book for children:

                                     Journey to Snowdonia

Victorian Singers, by Michael Lindstrom
10X8 oil on canvas - Copyright 2016
While it won't be released until September 2017, I was anxious to give you a "sneak peek" at the book projects we've been collaborating on!

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For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you may recall me mentioning, some time ago, that our debut book - The Scandinavian Santa - was slated to be brought to life on the small stage in a multi-media production. Those production plans have been cancelled.
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I also recently completed the first draft (text only) for a third children's holiday picture book we'll be collaborating on: The Whim of Winter.

Synopsis: (Protagonist's name XXXXXX not yet determined.)

In a century long ago, in a stone,
croft cottage, lives a ten-year-old girl
named XXXXXX. She and her father dwell
on the island of Unst where the North Sea
crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. They used 
to survive by selling their salted mackerel
to the merchants who came from far and
wide for the seafood delicacy. But ever
since the stingy English Parliament
placed a heavy, and unfair, tax on the fish
trade, XXXXXX and her father barely get by.

In desperation, the peasant girl whispers
a plea to the darkened sky over Scotland.

A fortnight before Christmas, a snowy owl
appears outside the loft where XXXXXX sleeps
and persistently pecks at the wooden shutter.
The young girl opens the shutter and receives
a message from the mysterious owl. In so doing
she and her Shetland pony, Duffy – along with
the snowy owl - embark on an extraordinary
journey that takes them far from the croft
cottage, to an ancient castle high above the
craggy cliffs of the angry North Sea. The secret
XXXXXX ultimately uncovers there will change
her life, and the life of her father, forever.

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As you can see, I have an affinity for books that occur in winter! The Whim of Winter is one I'm really excited about. It's set in the northernmost reaches of Scotland where the population is a blend of residents with Scottish & Norse heritage - Shetlanders. (We will again feature our Scandinavian background in a book!)

Note: All three of the "picture books" mentioned above are really illustrated short stories. (If you're a writer you know the difference!) We've referred to our "Wintertime Tales" as picture books since the dimensions of our books, and the number of pages in each, are so similar to a typical picture book format.

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Lastly, my MG manuscript, Livvi Biddle, will soon be with my amazing beta readers. The plan is to attend the SCBWI Winter Conference in February; hopefully I might meet an agent that would like to champion my fantasy novel. As you can see, I've got plenty to keep me busy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plexicated - (adj.)
complicated or difficult to do or  make.
Example: The adolescent gave his parents a plexicated excuse for his behavior.
(From The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree
by Lori Nichols

Flap Copy Description:
Maple and Willow love trees—and now they are getting their first real Christmas tree. It is going to be the best Christmas ever! After a snowy expedition to pick out the perfect tree, it’s time to decorate. But whenever Maple gets near the tree, she starts sniffling and sneezing. Could she really be allergic to the perfect Christmas tree? And if so, how will the girls find a way to make this the best Christmas after all?

My Thoughts:
This lovely little picture book addresses a problem that many families experience during the holidays: An allergy to Christmas trees! (My own son, David, has an allergy to them, and while he can be around the sweet scent for a while, too much time is dangerous.) The delightful remedy that Willow discovers to deal with her sister Maple's allergy is both fun and whimsical, and could, in fact, be a real option to families struggling with this problem. Maple & Willow's Christmas Tree is a good reminder to all children that some people have real health issues when it comes to the holidays. I highly recommend this picture book to children aged 3-5 years. (It will be part of my holiday d├ęcor this year!)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Champions of Creativity

Walt Disney

Since next Monday marks the 115th birthday of Walt Disney, I've chosen that amazing man as the focus of Champions of Creativity today. He was an iconic pioneer in animation, the founder of one of the largest and best-known entertainment companies, and the creator of the Disneyland amusement parks. Walt Disney's imaginative films have entertained children and adults for decades. 

Walter Elias Disney was born on December 5, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up loving to draw and took art classes as a boy. By the time he was eighteen he was already a commercial illustrator. Soon thereafter, he moved to Hollywood and began the Disney Studios with his brother Roy. In 1928 Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse - his most beloved creation - and was also the voice of the iconic cartoon.

Disney went on to create ground-breaking technical developments in cameras. That ultimately allowed him to produce such memorable movies as: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Fantasia; Pinocchio; Dumbo; Bambi; and later, in 1964, Mary Poppins, which won five Academy Awards.

By the time Walt Disney died of lung cancer on December 15, 1966 his Disney Studios had won 26 Academy Awards; two Golden Globe Awards; and an Emmy Award. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Walt Disney left behind numerous informative and inspiring quotes. Here are just a few of my favorites:

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

"That's the trouble with the world. Too many people grow up."

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

"If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing started with a mouse."

"That's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again."

Pictured with my husband, son, & daughter-in-law.

I had a wonderful time in the Magic Kingdom last summer!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plussy - (adj.)
Someone who is plussy is full of life and energy.
Example: The puppy was plussy and playful in the morning, but exhausted in the afternoon.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Poet's Dog
by Patrician MacLachlan

Amazon Description:
Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

My Thoughts:
The Poet's Dog is one of my favorite children's books of the season! Written from Teddy's (the dog's) point of view, we see and feel the thread of love that binds all of us together. The simple, poignant text took me by surprise with the depth of its emotion. Grab a cup of hot cocoa (and a tissue) and enjoy the magic spun by award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan. This small, yet mighty book is truly special. I highly recommend The Poet's Dog to readers of all ages!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Living a Life of Gratitude

While families around America are celebrating this Thanksgiving weekend, my family is in a more somber mood. On the eve of the U.S. Presidential Election my younger sister, Karla, unexpectedly passed away. She had entered a Montana hospital with pneumonia, and due to a pre-existing health condition, her body could not withstand the attack to her system. She was only 59.

That being said, I've had a bit of time to reflect on this tragedy and have found comfort in the warm memories I have of my dear sister.

I'm reminded that even in times of trouble it is important to stay in a posture of gratitude. It's a choice. That's not always an easy thing to do. If it was easy to maintain a life of gratitude, everyone would do so.

So, I'm choosing to be grateful for the last time I saw my sister - it was at a 2015 family reunion. My husband took this special photograph.

We sat side by side chatting, laughing, and just catching up, in general. I am grateful that she was such a sweet sister. I already miss her so.

Karla is survived by three wonderful sons. I'm pictured here with two of them - Isaac (L) and Samuel (R) the morning of my sister's memorial service in Missoula, Montana. We vowed to stay in closer contact.

Be sure to give your family and/or friends a hug this weekend.

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Note: The winner of the signed copy of The Scandinavian Santa is Lee Blaylock. Congratulations, Lee!

                        Have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend.