Monday, August 29, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

Walk Two Moons
by Sharon Creech

Flap Copy description:
Thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle, proud of her country roots and the "Indian-ness in her blood," travels from Ohio to Idaho with her eccentric grandparents.Along the way, she tells them of the story of Phoebe Winterbottom, who received mysterious messages, who met a "potential lunatic," and whose mother has disappeared.
Beneath, Phoebe's story is Salamanca's own story and that of her mother, who left one April morning for Idaho, promising to return before the tulips bloomed. Sal's mother has not, however, returned, and the trip to Idaho takes on a growing urgency as Salamanca hopes to get to Idaho in time for her mother's birthday and bring her back, despite her father's warning that she is fishing in the air.

My thoughts:
This is the second book by Sharon Creech that I have reviewed - the first was The Wanderer. In both stories the author's unique voice, character descriptions, and distinct dialogue are truly inspired. In this middle grade novel, Walk Two Moons, Ms. Creech weaves her magic in this touching, funny, and mysterious story. I would highly recommend this 1995 Newbery Medal Award winning book to readers of all ages.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Incredible Inspiration






Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance - order, rhythm, and harmony.


                   Thomas Merton

Friday, August 26, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

When I began to write a cover letter to the agent who will be critiquing my work in a few weeks, I decided it was high time I pinned down the exact genre of my story, The Tale of Willaby Creek. I have been referring to it as an "Animal Fantasy" - a common reference to a children's book wherein the animals talk and have some human characteristics, they are anthropomorphic.
However, when I began to research the broad genre of "fantasy" I discovered there are a multitude of sub genres that I was unaware existed. In simplest terms there are two large classes of fantasy stories:
High fantasy - The story is set in a fictional, sometimes parallel world. It is epic and grand, with a large cast of characters. J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a great example of this type.
Popular/Low Fantasy - The story is usually set in the real world with some magical elements. The focus, however, is usually on the characters or plot, rather than any fantasy elements. Stephenie Meyer's, Twilight series comes to mind as fitting in this classification.
So, when my husband tells me, "You live in a fantasy world!" I can reply: "Would that be high fantasy or popular fantasy?" I know, I drive him crazy. By the way, I have decided to stick with calling my story "Animal Fantasy."
For a more detailed list of fantasy sub genres - Check out this link:
http://www.bestfantasybooks.com/fantasy-genre.php

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Writer in the Woods

With the unofficial end of summer rapidly approaching, visitors are desperately trying to fit in one last warm weekend visit to Lake Quinault - I know we are. Memories of Yogi and Boo-Boo discussing "pic -a - nic baskets" come to mind! Maybe a pie made from this week's featured plant...

The huckleberry bush has a pink-colored flower in the spring that develops into either a red or blue colored berry. Unless you're a botanist you have to wait for them to bloom to know for sure which is which. Whether red or blue these little berries make delicious pies and jams.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Giver
by Lois Lowry

Flap Copy description:
"It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened."
     Thus opens this haunting novel in which a boy inhabits a seemingly ideal world; a world without conflict, poverty, unemployment, divorce, injustice, or inequality. It is a time in which family values are paramount, teenage rebellion is unheard of, and even good manners are a way of life.
December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve year old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man - the man called only the Give - he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.
     Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

My thoughts:
     Lois Lowry's, The Giver, is a soft science fiction novel set in a futuristic society. In the beginning of the story this society has a utopian sense to it; as the story progresses it becomes more and more dystopian. The main character, Jonas, is wonderfully written; through his heart and mind we are presented with subjects that call into question - what do we value? This book has already attained classic status; it was the 1994 Newbery Medal Award winner.
(I would not recommend this book for children under the age of ten. An infant is euthanized by the protagonist's father.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Incredible Inspiration




If you have a mind at peace-

a heart that cannot harden,

go find a door that opens wide

upon a lovely garden.



                                Unknown

Friday, August 19, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

After finalizing my registration to attend the SCBWI Fall Retreat; I am now facing a task-filled seven weeks ahead. There are a variety of items to attend to - including:
Revising my manuscript
Editing my manuscript
Writing my pitch(es)
Writing a flap copy
Et cetera, et cetera
As I proceed (trudge) through my last push to the Summit in Sublimity (Writers' Conference is in Sublimity, Ore.) I will allow you to peek in on my progress from time to time. This is not without some trepidation since the outcome of all my efforts is yet to be seen! Wish me luck as I go forth on my adventure of becoming a published author.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Writer in the Woods


Lake Quinault has roads on both its north shore and its south shore; these are connected by a bridge across the river in the upper valley.
This allows the sightseer to enjoy a beautiful drive around the entire lake. Be aware - the eastern portion of the loop is frequently closed during the winter months.





With only two remaining weeks on this "tour" of the Olympic National Forest, the Lady Fern is our last featured fern. It can grow to five or six feet high, and like all rain forest ferns, prefers a moist shady spot to grow. This delicate specimen has lacy green leaves that are easily bruised or broken; because of its fragile beauty it is a popular subject in poetry.





Monday, August 15, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Bronze Bow
by Elizabeth George Speare

Flap Copy description:
After witnessing his father's crucifixion by Roman soldiers, Daniel bar Jamin is fired by a single passion: to avenge his father's death by driving the Roman legions from the land of Israel. Consumed by hatred, Daniel joins the brutal raids of an outlaw band living in the hills outside his village. Though his grandmother's death slows his plans by forcing him to move home to care for his sister, he continues his dangerous life by leading a group of boy guerrillas in spying and plotting, impatiently waiting to take revenge.
     In nearby Capernaum, a rabbi is teaching a different lesson. Time and again Daniel is drawn to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, only to turn away, disappointed and confused by Jesus' lack of action in opposing the Romans. Devoid of tenderness and forgiveness, headstrong Daniel is also heedless of the loyalty of his friend Joel; the love of Joel's sister, Malthace; and the needs of his own disturbed sister, Leah, dragging them down his destructive path toward disaster.

My thoughts:
As I read the middle grade novel, The Bronze Bow, it brought to mind images of the Bible stories made into epic motion pictures in the 1950's. Deeply spiritual lessons of love and forgiveness are challenged by the more prevalent forces of anger and hatred.
The author, Elizabeth George Speare, weaves this historical fiction with colorful characters and dramatic dialogue. The pace of the story slows a bit at times - but the overall narrative has a powerful message that is just as relevant today as it was in 1962 when Ms. Speare won the Newbery Medal Award for this beautiful work.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Incredible Inspiration




There is nothing in which birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.

              Robert Lynd

Friday, August 12, 2011

Storyteller's Journey


         Getting on the Twitter Train

One of those unexpected blessings, on my journey as a writer, has been getting to know literary types on Twitter. When I opened my account I felt I was doing something that would benefit me "down the road." However, I have conversed with intelligent, humorous, and inspirational folks on Twitter that I would have otherwise never met. This network of writers, agents, and publishers has not only given me a feeling of belonging; it has actually enriched and educated me as an aspiring author as well. Just this morning I received a "direct message" from a published author in the UK requesting I participate in a poll he was conducting as to which of three book covers voters preferred for his new release. Although this may seem minor, being treated as a peer in the literary world, is like fuel to the fire of my passion as a writer.
If you are not on Twitter, I encourage you to give it a try - All Aboard!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writer in the Woods

This time of year the Olympic National Forest is inundated with visitors from around the world. Its vast network of hiking trails extends many miles into the surrounding mountains. Whether you are an experienced hiker - or a nature lover desiring a brisk walk - there are trails suitable for everyone.




Skunk Cabbage is this week's featured plant. It loves low lying wetland areas; its large broad leaves are a familiar sight not only in the Olympic National Forest, but throughout the Pacific Northwest. It derives its name from the distinctive "skunky" odor it omits.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Slave Dancer
by Paula Fox

Flap Copy description:
Jessie Bollier was thirteen when he was kidnapped, bound in canvas, and carried across the ocean to the coast of Africa.
One day in 1840, Jessie was living with his mother and sister in New Orleans, where he earned pennies, playing his fife on the docks. The next day, he with his fife was on board The Moonlight, a slave ship, with a hateful duty awaiting him. The making of music seemed to Jessie to have no rightful place in the business of trading rum for black men, women, and children; of driving them through the dangerous heaving surf to a long boat; of chaining and bringing them to a waiting ship, and carrying them to a place where if they survived, they would be sold like cloth. But Jessie - his heart sinking - played his fife. He had to, for Captain Cawthorne would have the slaves "danced" to keep their muscles strong, their bodies profitable.
And the men of the ship accepted the custom. They would get their share of the profit, and so did not heed the horrors of the trade which every day grew more vivid, more inescapable to Jessie.
The Slave Dancer is Jessie's story of his voyage, of four months of his life and near death, in the unforgettable company of Purvis, Grime, and Stout of the crew and young Ras of the cargo.

My thoughts:
The Slave Dancer is the deeply moving story of a young boy, who after being kidnapped, must scratch and claw for every shred of courage he can muster, just to survive the voyage of the slave ship, The Moonlight.
Although this text is for middle grade readers, the depth of human experience and emotion would captivate adult readers as well. The author, Paula Fox, won the Newbery Medal Award in 1974 for this piercing and poignant tale.
(The treatment of African slaves is extremely graphic - I would not recommend this book for readers under ten years of age.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Incredible Inspiration



I have seen the sea when it is stormy and wild; when it is quiet and serene; when it is dark and moody. And in all its moods, I see myself.


Martin Buxbaum

Friday, August 5, 2011

Storyteller's Journey

My self-imposed deadline to complete the rewrite of my MG fantasy novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek, is fast approaching. Why is it in life that just before you cross the finish line, reach the summit, or even graduate from college that many times one last group of obstacles attempts to thwart you in your goal? This past week my computer was hacked, we developed a major plumbing problem, and I decided to take a hard tumble on our brick terrace! After my husband issued the obligatory sympathy, I brushed myself off and am limping around with dark purple bruises as a sign of my lack of coordination. If these wounds had been acquired in some sort of true 'hero's journey' or were badges of courage somehow, I would rejoice - however, they're not. They only serve as one more distraction - and as another reason for me not to wear shorts!
     The good news is that I just finished my manuscript yesterday! Now it's time for revisions and editing. I'm still on track to submit my query letter to an agent, with my first ten pages, sometime in October. Stay tuned... I'll let you  know!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Writer in the Woods

Lake Quinault is fed by the Quinault River from the east, this river continues from the lake west, to the Pacific Ocean. Many visitors from around the world come to this paradise every summer - not only for the beauty - but for canoeing, kayaking, and swimming. However, no loud motorized watercraft are allowed - thank goodness!




This week another fern is featured - the Deer Fern. This beautiful fern is actually my favorite; it is pictured here in the front yard at our cabin. These ferns can also be used as house plants, when kept well-watered. The dried center shoots of the fern are said to resemble deer antlers, hence the name. This fern is a tough little specimen; it survives year round, although it is most vibrant in the spring and summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Potpourri of Poetry



The Rising Sun

The rising sun reminds us all,
that every day brings new possibilities.
And when tests and trials get in our way,
they're only the gateways to new realities.
So, remember still - the sun will rise,
on each new morn - a day of opportunities!

                                                         V.L.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bibliophile's Corner

The Midwife's Apprentice
by Karen Cushman

Flap Copy description:
On a frosty morning sometime early in the fourteenth century, in a village somewhere in England, a girl known only as Brat was sleeping in a dung heap.
     "You girl. Are you alive or dead?"
When she opened her eyes, she saw an important-looking woman with a sharp glance and a sharp nose and a wimple starched into sharp pleats.This woman was Jane the Midwife, and she needed a helper...
Thus begins the funny, wise, compassionate story of the homeless waif who became the midwife's apprentice - a person with a name and a place in the world.

My thoughts:
Karen Cushman's, The Midwife's Apprentice, is the poignant tale of an orphan girl and the challenges she faces in finding her place in the world of medieval England. Her compassionate heart ultimately reveals to those around her, the kind of person she really is and what she was born to do. This beautifully written book won the 1996 Newbery Medal Award - I highly recommend it.