Friday, September 28, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

In Pursuit of Two Paths

Several weeks ago, while I was at a writers' conference, my husband - Michael, received some great news. His gallery director invited him to have a solo show of his oil paintings at the Art on the Boulevard where Michael is represented. As great as this news is, it requires us to do a bit of traveling in our neck of the woods, since the title of Michael's show is: "Moods of the Pacific Northwest."  (Scheduled - February 2013.)
Every once in a while the two of us must go different directions as we pursue our two separate paths. However, sometimes things come together in a wonderful way. In Michael's attempt to include me on his "artist's journey," he has reserved a cabin for us at a wonderful retreat center next week, where he can paint - and I can read, hike, and write! But, the thing is...there is no T.V. reception, no cell phone reception, and no WiFi! The nearest place to get on the Internet is the town's General Store - I'm not kidding! So, I will continue blogging next week, but I may be slow to get back to you if you leave a comment.

If you're curious about the bucolic setting where we'll be staying,
here is the link to the Mt. Adams Lodge:

Do you ever incorporate your writing into your family's activities?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Chthonic -

dwelling in the underworld; under the earth.

Example: The chthonic creatures made their way to the surface of the planet after living thousands of years underground.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

School of Fear
Class Is Not Dismissed!
by Gitty Daneshvari

Flap Copy Description:
After discovering that each of her former students has secretly regressed, eccentric headmistress Mrs. Wellington demands requests the presence of Madeleine, Theo, Lulu, and Garrison for a mandatory summer of retraining. Facing their fears was terrifying enough, but when the foursome learns they'll be joined by a fifth student, things start to get even scarier.
To make matters worse, the students quickly find themselves tasked with saving the school. And because failing means spending the rest of their lives with unresolved phobias, this is one test they all plan to ace.

My Thoughts:
Class Is Not Dismissed is the second delightful book in Ms. Daneshvari's series: School of Fear. This middle grade novel contains awesome dialogue, amazing character development, and a huge amount of humor. The author commences each chapter with the definition of a peculiar phobia - a great way for the reader to stay grounded in the book's theme. Don't be afraid to pick up this well-written novel for your child or student! I would recommend Class Is Not Dismissed to readers from the ages of 8 - 12. (The third book in the School of Fear series is entitled: The Final Exam.)
To view Ms. Daneshvari's wonderful website, click here:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sentimental Serendipity

For those blogging buddies who enjoy my Sunday posts under the title of "Incredible Inspiration," there has been a change in my format. The make-over of my blog has been an attempt to streamline and update things - and to focus on only literary topics. So, I have started a new blog that will carry my nature photos. I will primarily post on Sundays - merely taking the type of photos from my old format, and posting them on the new site. The title of that blog is -
The Shy Shutterbug. If you would like to visit me at my auxillary blog, I'd love for you to be my guest!
Here is the link :

Friday, September 21, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

         The Road Uncertain

Earlier this week I drove my eldest son up to Seattle to return to university for his Master's degree. As we proceeded up the I -5 corridor David read a book, while my mind wandered to the winding path my own life has taken.

Being a writer is a multi-faceted vocation; to be successful one must be accomplished at navigating a number of skills:
Writing; editing; marketing; organizing; networking; management; being disciplined; able to persevere - and on and on. I have met a few writers who seem to have found a way to balance these tasks, but for most of us, it's a whole different kind of work in progress!

There is no road map for the storyteller's journey. Sure, there are some guidelines - but every one's road is a bit different. A few principles I have discovered pertain not only to my writing journey - but to life in general:

1- Asking for directions is a great way to chart a course; especially from someone more experienced than ourselves. (However, this is no guarantee of making the correct choices for one's career.)
2- Turning around when you realize you've gone down an incorrect road is something nobody wants to do - but it's part of the progress. (Lots of learning can be gained by going down bunny trails!)
3- Being able to find your way when you're truly lost takes perseverance - a lot of it. (I believe writers are some of the most persevering people I've ever met!)

As we neared the Seattle Metro area, I realized that the tough part of the trip was ahead - driving in a major city is not high on my list of favorite things to do! The last leg of any journey is usually the most difficult. I thought about how I wouldn't take my son back to our hometown if I couldn't reach our destination immediately - I would figure it out. The same holds true for my own journey as a writer - turning around and giving up is not an option. It seems that no matter how uncertain our road is, the commitment to reach our goal (no matter what) ultimately is what will bring us success.

(I did deliver my son successfully to his new residence for the next three years, without a problem - and I don't even have a GPS system!)

How do you navigate your writing career when your road is uncertain?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Welter -

confused mass: a confused or jumbled mass of something.

Example: The writer had a welter of crazy characters in her mind.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

The Search For WondLa
by Tony DiTerlizzi

Flap Copy Description:
"Don't you get it, Muthr?"
Eva said, affronted. "Look at the girl and her parent. Look at their robot. See how happy they are?"

Eva Nine had never seen the actual sun before, or walked outdoors. In fact, she had never seen another living person in all twelve years of her life. That changes when a marauding huntsman destroys her underground home and sends her fleeing for her life. She is desperate to find someone else who is like her, and a single clue gives her hope: a crumbling picture of a girl, a robot, an adult, and the word WondLa.

My Thoughts:
Tony Diterlizzi has written and illustrated a wonderfully imaginative contemporary fairy tale - The Search For WondLa - the first in his science fiction triology. The world (Orbana) and the Orbanian alphabet and language that Mr. DiTerlizzi created bring a believability to this adventure story. Through this unique tale we are invited into the trials and tribulations of the feisty protagonist - Eva Nine. I would highly recommend this 466 page middle grade novel to avid readers from the ages of ten and up.

To learn more about Tony DiTerlizzi, and the second book in his trilogy: Hero For WondLa, click here:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

Start where you are. Distant fields always look greener, but opportunity lies right where you are.

Robert Collier
American Author

Friday, September 14, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

       The Heart of a Student

It's been unusually warm here in the Pacific Northwest for the prelude to autumn, still, the seasonal events arrived right on time: the start of the school year, football games, and falling leaves. Autumn has always been my favorite season, primarily because I so thoroughly loved my school days. It wasn't just the school supplies, my new school clothes, and seeing my school chums was the thought of learning.
When I began seriously writing several years ago, I realized that I was back home. Home meaning a new field of learning, new goals put upon myself, and a new level of excellence to hope to attain.

My husband and I have many friends who are artists, musicians, and writers; we really enjoy their energy because they seem to stay creative and they keep striving to learn. Several of them are published, or accomplished in their field. One of Michael's artist friends has received national awards and has several oil paintings hanging in European galleries. But guess what! He is the most humble man, and is always learning from artists older and more experienced than himself; he's a great guy and a great family man. He has maintained a heart of a student.

To help me keep learning, and hopefully to maintain a heart of a student; I'm looking forward to broadening my knowledge base by attending the following events:

* SCBWI Oregon Open House tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 15th in Portland, Oregon. The event is entitled: Got Genre? Several authors will chair different tables dealing with various genres. It should be a great place to pick the brains of published authors! (This event is free.)

* SCBWI Clark County Schmooze - Saturday, Sept. 22nd in Vancouver, Washington. This quarterly event is mostly a place to network, and meet new writer and illustrator friends. However, the first two meetings folks shared news on upcoming workshops, contests, their agents, etc. It has already been a wonderful place to get great information, as well as have fun! (This event is free.)

* The Toad Hall Writers and Illustrators Retreat - This regional retreat is scheduled for October 19th-21st in Turner, Oregon. Toad Hall is primarily made up of a group of crazy writers and illustrators from Oregon. ^_^ However, Oregon has such a strong representation of wonderful writers and illustrators that the group has attracted children's book enthusiasts from all over the Pacific Northwest. (I can't wait to see some of the friends I made from last year again!)

* Authors and Illustrators Dinner - sponsored by Fort Vancouver Regional Library. This annual event will be held on Wednesday, November 14th in downtown Vancouver, Washington, at the Hilton Hotel. I'm so excited, and my husband has agreed to join me! This year's guest speaker is Nicholas Sparks - the author of numerous novels, including The Notebook. (I guess I'll have to wear make-up that day! ^_^)

As you can see, my autumn is shaping up to be a busy one. And, I still haven't decided if I will participate in (dare I say the word?) NaNoWriMo!

If you are in the Pacific Northwest region and would like to check out the Oregon chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) here is the link:

How do you keep learning - to maintain a heart of a student?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week


A long scarf or cord attached to and hanging from a hood.

Example: The villain grabbed the liripipe from his victim's graduation gown and tied her hands securely behind her back.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Liar and Spy
by Rebecca Stead

Author's Description:
When seventh grader Georges (the s is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy.

Georges becomes Safer's first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

My Thoughts:
Rebecca Stead's most recent middle grade novel, Liar and Spy, is a delightful and quirky tale. The author weaves little insights to life into her story that are both humorous and helpful - this book would be a great read for young boys who are trying to fit in and find their way. I would recommend Liar and Spy to readers from the ages of 8 - 12.

Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Medal Award for her novel,
When You Reach Me.
To learn more about the author, click here:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
American Poet and
Pulitzer Prize Winner

Friday, September 7, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

     Climbing the Story Ladder

In my attempt to compose a more complete and textured manuscript I was reminded of using a Story Ladder from a good writer friend of mine. I had first learned of this writers' aid last fall at a SCBWI retreat - however, at that time the concept seemed too complicated to be practical. I have taken the model my friend shared, and personalized it to fit my needs. Wow, has it been a helpful format to organize my plot  line. I plan on using this aid for my subsequent manuscripts. However, next time I will fill it out as I complete each chapter!

Below is a photo of half of the Story Ladder for my WIP.

On the left, down the side, is the number of each chapter. Across the top is a space for four scenes/events, characters in each chapter, a summary, and a few blank columns for specific items I want to track in my story. Using this guide has allowed me to see places where I should include a secondary character again, where specific characters are included in the story, where specific events take place, and a variety of other details - all at a glance. As I have worked to create a more polished MS to submit, this aid has shed light as to where it still needs work. I'm hoping to send off query letters by the end of October - wish me luck!

Do you use a Story Ladder, or have a favorite way to track your story?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Fugacious -

fleeting, transitory; difficult to capture.

Example: Seeing a faerie in flight was quite fugacious; she appeared so infrequently.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

by Aprilynne Pike

Flap Copy Description:
Tamani looked at her gravely, and reached up to tuck her hair behind her ear. He hesitated for an instant, then his hands found the sides of her face, pulling her to him. He didn't kiss her, just held her face close to his, their foreheads resting together, their noses almost touching.
She hated how much it felt like good-bye.
Laurel now knows the truth: Yuki is a rare Winter faerie, the most powerful - and deadly - of all, and Klea plans to use her to help conquer and destroy Avalon. But Klea's reach extends far beyond one wild Winter faerie. With Tamani, David, and Chelsea by her side, Laurel prepares to face what may be Avalon's final days, in the stunning conclusion to the Wings series.

My Thoughts:
Destined is the conclusion to Ms. Pike's Wings series - it is by far the best book in her quartet of novels. In this fourth book, we learn the choice that the protagonist, Laurel, makes between her two male admirers, Tamani and David. We also learn if she will live in the Redwoods of California, or the faerie world of Avalon. However, where this book really shines is in the surprising and suspenseful finale. Aprilynne Pike weaves together all of the seemingly minor points of the previous three books to reveal the secrets that lead to an enchanting ending. Since all of the books in this magical series have a bit of innocence compared to most YA novels, I would recommend this book to readers from the age of twelve and up.
To learn more about the author, Aprilynne Pike, click here:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

Often my creative life has seemed like a long tunnel, dark and damp. And sometimes I wondered whether I could live through it. But I did!

Ai Qing
Chinese Poet and Political Activist