Friday, February 15, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Childhood art by our sons.
Creative Chaos

You would think that since our three sons are now either on their own or in college that  my husband and I would have loads of luxurious time to relax - nothing could be further from the truth.

Although I am in a post-professional phase of my life (due to injury), I am attempting to jump start a second career in writing, as most of you know. My husband, Michael, on the other hand, still has a full-time job as a business manager; but he too, is attempting to transition from the business world to the world of the arts. Consequently, I am the manager for his art career (ordering, matching paintings to frames, etc.). And, like most women, keeping a somewhat clean house, with clean clothes, and home-cooked meals on the table is important to me too. In addition to that, volunteering at our community library is an important part of my life, as is staying connected to local writer friends.

Last weekend, Michael had the opportunity to visit another art gallery on the Oregon coast for possible additional representation. It was important to him that I view the gallery's show Saturday night so that I could give him my opinion of the quality of the art they represent. One problem: I had plans to meet with a good writer friend for lunch to discuss our middle grade manuscripts on Saturday- I was not willing to give that up. Consequently, we took two vehicles to Astoria, Oregon which allowed Michael a few hours of painting while I kept my appointment with my writer friend.

There are times in life as a writer, artist, or musician, that to follow your dreams means that your life must take on a quality of creative chaos - especially prior to the point when you have received a measure of success or validation from your respective art community. I speak not only from my own experience, but from walking with my husband on his own art hasn't always been easy. There have been friends, and even family members, whom we have unintentionally offended by remaining focused on our passions. There are only a set number of hours in the day, as the saying goes.

Then there are those times when you know that your own plans must be set aside, at least temporarily, to support your family or friends. On Wednesday of this week my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, consequently Michael and I will be heading to Arizona tomorrow to see my folks and celebrate with them their marriage milestone. Finding a balance between our own lives, and the lives of our loved ones, is not always easy...this trip to honor my parents, however, was an easy choice to make. I'll be taking a blogging break and be back on Writ of Whimsy on Friday, March 1st.

Do you ever experience creative chaos in your life as a writer?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Panjandrum -

a self-important or pretentious person.

Example: He was a real panjandrum in the pickle-making business.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate

Flap Copy Description:
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he's seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home - and his own art - through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it's up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

My Thoughts:
The One and Only Ivan is this year's Newbery Medal Award Winner! To say that Katherine Applegate's middle grade novel is unique and wonderful, would be a gross understatement. The talented Ms. Applegate is a master storyteller, writing with a poetic and lyrical style. The author bravely tells her tale (inspired by true events) in the first person through the eyes of Ivan - a silverback gorilla. Issues of love, hope, and friendship more than outshine the darker issues of loss, loneliness, and animal neglect that make this remarkable novel a must read. I would highly recommend The One and Only Ivan to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the author, Katherine Applegate, click here:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Aspens' Edge - Oil Painting - by Michael Lindstrom
Texturing and Layering

Last Friday night my husband had his debut art show at the gallery where he is represented - it was a huge success. One of the things I overheard from a person perusing the art was:

"He uses so much paint...lots of textures and layers." That person was absolutely correct. It is something that Michael does consciously - the technique has become a bit of his trademark.

Using textures and layers is not a technique exclusive to oil painters. I have had many in-depth discussions with my middle son - Kevin (an aspiring author), about this very subject with regard to our individual manuscripts. Somewhere between revising and editing is that place where a writer textures and layers his/her story. You know what I mean: Tweaking word choices, embellishing character development, expanding a setting description, polishing the text, and on and on.
The thing about texturing and layering is that it takes a lot of time!

One of the things that I have recently vowed to avoid is to place a time limit on a finished manuscript. Up until the time I fully began to value the texturing and layering approach, my feeling was X amount of hours writing would = a set time for completing my manuscript. Wrong!

As with any form of art, the process should flow from one's spirit, it is the revelation of one's soul - whether it is on a canvas, a sheet of music, or a page from a novel.

If you and I are Facebook friends then you are well aware of the inspiring quotes I like to feature on my timeline. Those posts are not chosen randomly. They are just as much for me as they are for my friends!

"The process of writing a book is infinitely more important than the book that is completed as a result of the writing, let alone the success or failure that book may have after it is written...the book is merely a symbol of the writing. In writing the book I am living. I am growing. I am tapping myself. I am changing. The process is the product."
Theodore Isaac Rubin

Do you texture & layer? Any thoughts about the writing process?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mellifluous -

smooth and sweet, usually describing music or voice.

Example: The mother's mellifluous song lulled the child to sleep.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Navigating Early
by Clare Vanderpool

Flap Copy Description:
After his mother's death at the end of World War II, Jack Baker is suddenly uprooted from his home in Kansas and placed in a boys' boarding school in Maine. There he meets Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as an unending story and collects clippings about sightings of a black bear in the nearby mountains.

Feeling lost and adrift, Jack can't help being drawn to Early, who refuses to believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the great Appalachian bear, timber rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as the Fish, who was lost in the war.

When Jack and Early find themselves alone at school, they set out for the Appalachian Trail on a quest for the great black  bear. Along the way, they meet some truly strange characters, several of them dangerous, all  lost in some way, and each a part of the pi story Early continues to reveal. Jack's ability to be a steadfast friend to Early will be tested as the boys discover things they never knew about themselves and others.

My Thoughts:
Clare Vanderpool is the winner of the 2011 Newbery Medal for her debut novel, Moon over Manifest. In her second book - Navigating Early - Ms. Vanderpool again mesmerizes the reader with her astounding storytelling style. Weaving her 1940's adventure novel with twists and turns that only reveal their significance as this beautiful story comes to a close, the novel definitely has cross over appeal. I would highly recommend Navigating Early to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To visit the website of the author, Clare Vanderpool, click here:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sentimental Serendipity

Cartoon courtesy of Dave Walker

Celebrating Two Years in Blogosphere!

You can see by the cartoon I chose to feature on this momentous occasion, that topics to blog over the last two years were not always easy to come by!

Questions have rolled around in my mind like: Should I review this book? Should I participate in another blog tag? What is happening on my writing journey that others would find interesting? Then of course the biggest question of all: What whimsical word should I feature this week?! It would be easy to go on with a myriad of tongue in cheek comments, but the truth is my blogging experience over the last two years has been nothing less than extraordinary.

Here are a few of the benefits I have received from blogging:

Encouragement, enlightenment, inspiration, & the list goes on.

However, the biggest benefit by far is the opportunity to not only meet writers, but to become friends with so many. Since it is my two-year blog-anniversary I am excited to issue the blog award that I designed last year:
This award is given to a writer/blogger who possesses these three attributes:
1- The writer has been recognized for the excellence of her "quill" by being agent-represented and/or published.
2- She has reached out and generously encouraged others in blogosphere, while maintaining a quality blog.
3- The integrity of her character is of such a high level that her very life inspires others.

(Note: I chose to design this award because I was so encouraged by last year's winners; not because I in any way possess the traits mentioned above.)

The very first winners of the Queen of the Quill award were two wonderful writers, bloggers, and friends: Julie Musil & Carol Riggs.

I am happy and thrilled to announce that the two very special people who have been chosen to receive the 2013 Queen of the Quill award are...(Can you tell I enjoy a bit  of drama?)

Loree Huebner and Ruth Schiffman! Each of these writers has enlightened, encouraged, and inspired so many. Congratulations, ladies! In addition to the blog award, each of the winners will receive a $25.00 gift card to either Barnes & Noble, or Starbucks.

If somehow you have not visited the blogs of these special writers, be sure to do so. The names of this year's winners, as well as last year's winners, have been linked to their blogs.

Thanks to every one of my blogging buddies - you're all awesome!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Connecting with Community

This past Monday I was anxiously awaiting the Newbery Awards announcement, thinking I'd discover the list online sometime that day. However, as I tootled through my Facebook feed, I noticed a post by a well-known children's book editor with the link for the live webcast of the ALA Youth Media Awards from Seattle. So, as I sat in front of my laptop, wearing my jammies and drinking my morning coffee, I had my first glimpse at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting. WOW! Here it was in my own backyard and I never thought to attend - even though I have local peers whom I know did attend.

As a long list of various and illustrious awards was announced, I realized I was getting a broad overview of the children's writing community. And, even though I am a very small fish in a very big pond, somehow I felt I was a part of that community, and was connected to it in a way that I had never experienced.

In addition to that, as the names of the award-winning authors, illustrators, and book titles were read I was introduced to a wide array of wonderful books - and the names of their creators, that I might never have encountered. A few of the honored books were winners in multiple categories. I also learned a lot about various, lesser known awards that gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the community I have grown to love.

Now back to the exciting news I anticipate every year -
The Newbery Awards! In case you haven't heard, here is the list of the 2013 winners:

Newbery Honor - Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz
Newbery Honor - Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage
Newbery Honor - Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal -
                              the World's Most Dangerous Weapon,
                              by Steve Sheinkin (Multiple winner)

Newbery Medal Award - The One and Only Ivan,
                                            by Katherine Applegate

After I heard the exciting news I was off to my local bookstore just as fast as my ten-year-old car could safely travel to pick up my copy of
The One and Only Ivan!

Have you ever attended or followed the ALA Midwinter Meeting?
Do you look forward to hearing the Newbery Awards announced?

(Be sure and visit Writ of Whimsy tomorrow when I will honor two special writers!)