Friday, May 31, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Summer Sabbatical

Summer is always a busy time at our house, I'm sure that most of you can relate. This year is especially so with our youngest son moving to the East Coast, our eldest planning his wedding, and my parents arriving from Arizona for a visit. Consequently, I'll be taking a break from Writ of Whimsy for a few months with the hope that I won't lose any of my precious writing time. However, before I go I thought I'd leave you with a summer reading list comprised of my favorite (recent) middle grade novels, in random order. They are all worth your time to read! Click on the title that you're interested in to see the book review that was featured on Bibliophile's Corner!

* Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool

* The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver

*The Peculiar, by Stefan Bachmann

*Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin

*The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech

*Son, by Lois Lowry

*Under Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

*Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage

*Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie, by Julie Sternberg

*The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

If middle grade novels are not your cup of tea (WHAT?!) there is a list of young adult and adult books that I have read so far this year listed on the right; I would highly recommend each of them.

I'll be posting on Twitter and Facebook so if we're not already connected on those sites, and you'd like to stay in touch, please click on the respective buttons posted on the sidebar. I'll also be visiting your blogs from time to time to keep up with what's going on with you!

Hope you each have a fantastic summer! I'll be back in September!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Gongoozler -

an idle spectator.

Example: The private detective was no more than a gongoozler amongst the cacophonous crowd at Churchill Downs.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

House of Secrets
by Chris Columbus
& Ned Vizzini

Amazon Description:
The Walker kids had it all: loving parents, a big house in San Francisco, all the latest video games...but everything changed when their father lost his job as a result of an inexplicable transgression. Now the family is moving into Kristoff House, a mysterious place built nearly a century earlier by Denver Kristoff, a troubled writer with a penchant for the occult.

Suddenly the siblings find themselves launched on an epic journey into a mash-up world born of Kristoff's dangerous imagination, to retrieve a dark book of untold power, uncover the Walker family's secret history, and save their parents...and maybe even the world.

My Thoughts:
When you pick up a book by the screenwriter of the movie, Goonies, you expect to read an action-packed and hilarious tale...Chris Columbus (with Ned Vizzini) did not disappoint. In addition to that, J.K. Rowling wrote the blurb for this upper middle grade novel, which is, as far as I know, the first time the author of the Harry Potter books has done so. (Although, Chris Columbus did direct the first two Harry Potter movies.)

The imaginative and magical story takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of twists and turns, with a variety of quips and quibbles by the Walker children along the way. In fact, the dialogue is stellar - which isn't surprising given the author's background. House of Secrets may be a bit weak in its character development, but it more than makes up for it with its humor, dialogue, and unpredictable plot. I would highly recommend House of Secrets - Book I to readers from the ages of eight to fourteen.

Learn about the creation of House of Secrets, by Chris Columbus:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

         Introvert Alert!

I don't normally review adult books on my blog, but since so many writers are introverts, I thought I'd mention Susan Cain's New York Times bestseller - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
When I returned from my trip to the East Coast I picked up this book and couldn't put it down. Ms. Cain has written an inspired and informative text about introverts living in a predominantly extroverted world. The way introverts survive (or sometimes thrive) in that world is explored with some examples of a few successful introverts of our time. Since I fall into the introvert camp myself, I found this book extremely enlightening.

Here is a snippet of the Amazon synopsis:
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society - from Van Gogh's sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

If you'd like to learn more about this book, or the author - Susan Cain, click here:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Graustark -

an imaginary land of high romance.

Example: The romance novelist was so in to her characters that she lived in a perpetual graustark most of the time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Flame in the Mist
by Kit Grindstaff

Amazon Description:
Fiery-headed Jemma Agromond is not what she thinks she is, and when secrets and lies behind he life at mist-shrouded Agromond Castle begin to unravel, she finds herself in a chilling race for her life. Ghosts and misfits, a stone and crystals, a mysterious book, an ancient prophecy - all these reveal the truth about Jemma's past and a destiny far greater and more dangerous than she could have imagined in her wildest fantasies. With her telepathic golden rats, Noodle and Pie, and her trusted friend, Digby, Jemma navigates increasingly dark forces, as helpers both seen and unseen, gather. But in the end, it is her own powers that she must bring to light, for only she has the key to defeating the evil ones and fulfilling the prophecy that will bring back the sun and restore peace to Anglavia.

My Thoughts:
Kit Grindstaff has created an Old World magical tale full of twists and turns in a magnificent medieval setting. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this upper middle grade adventure fantasy, I would have liked to have seen the heart of the protagonist, Jemma, developed more. That being said, this story is well-written, and has a unique plot that I believe readers from the ages of eight to fourteen will enjoy immensely.

To learn more about the author, Kit Grindstaff, click here:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Free Public Domain Photo
Conquering Challenges

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time, you know that in the past I featured quotes on Sundays. However, since discontinuing that practice I have realized how much I miss researching awesome quotes. I thought I'd feature a few awesome quotes on the subject of conquering challenges, since that is a topic with which everyone can relate. Here we go...

The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he's dead.
Bette Davis

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people.
Randy Pausch

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein

The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience, but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.
Martin Luther King

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Robert F. Kennedy

Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven't half the strength you think they have.
Norman Vincent Peale

I've learned that success comes in a prickly package. Whether you choose to accept it or not is up to you. It's what you choose to do with it, the people you choose to surround yourself with. Always choose people that are better than you. Always choose people that challenge you and are smarter  than you. Always be the student. Once you find yourself to be the teacher, you've lost it.
Sandra Bullock

Accept challenges, so that you many feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton

It is not whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get up again.
Vince Lombardi

Life is  either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
Helen Keller

Do you enjoy quotes? If so, do you have any favorites?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Funambulist -

a tight-rope walker.

Example: The travelling circus fired the freeloading funambulist.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie
by Julie Sternberg

Amazon Description:

I had a very bad August.

A very bad August.

As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.

As bad as a spider web on your leg.

As bad as the black parts of a banana.
I hope your August was better.

I really do.

When Eleanor's beloved babysitter, Bibi, has to move away to take care of her ailing father, Eleanor must try to bear the summer without Bibi and prepare for the upcoming school year. Her new, less-than-perfect babysitter just isn't up to snuff, and she doesn't take care of things like Bibi used to.  But as the school year looms, it's time for new beginnings. Eleanor soon realizes that she will always have Bibi, no matter how far away she is.

My Thoughts:
This delightful novel in verse is a wonderful story about change. The reader is invited into the whimsical world of Eleanor in a tale that was written in first person - that made this beautiful story magical for me. Although this book was written for the middle grade reader, I found the prose to be so charming that I'm sure I'll read it again. I would definitely recommend Like Pickle Juice On A Cookie to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the author - Julie Sternberg - click here:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sentimental Serendipity

   Grand Giveaway Winner!

For those who participated in the Book Blast for Kriston Johnson's debut YA novel - Awakened, today is the day that the lucky winner of a free e-copy, a $25.00 Amazon gift card, and a signed bookmark is announced! So without further ado, the winner is....drum roll, please...
       ******Emmi Visser! ******
I will forward your information to the author, Kriston Johnson and she will send your gifts to you. It appears that the giveaway is about to travel to Europe! Congratulations, Emmi! 

For those of you who would like to purchase a copy of Awakened, here are the links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.
Congratulations to Kriston Johnson, and thanks to all who participated in the Book Blast - I hope you all have a chance to read Awakened!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Springfield, MA - Free Public Domain Photo
Inspiration in Springfield

Attending the New England SCBWI Conference last weekend was a learning experience on multiple levels. Beyond the great information I received in the workshops, just traveling alone so far from my home was a bit of a challenge as well. Thankfully, the members of NESCBWI that I met were so friendly and helpful that it made my visit something I'll always remember. (The Sheraton Hotel where the conference was held is in the middle of the photo - the tan building with the dark band at the top few floors.)

Author, Sharon Creech
One of the main reasons I chose to travel so far to this conference was the chance to hear Newbery Medal winner, Sharon Creech...boy, am I glad I did. Listening to Ms. Creech describe how she approaches her writing from a somewhat organic place was music to my ears! She was quick to remind the attendees in the workshop that she was a professor of literature prior to becoming a writer, so she already had a great understanding on the craft of writing.

Author, Grace Lin

When I first began to write seriously I decided to begin blogging. I researched blogs of published authors and discovered the blog of Grace Lin, and in so doing, discovered her book: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - a Newbery Honor book. The book was, and is magical. I became a huge fan not only of her work, but of her level of professionalism and warmth online. When the opportunity to hear her speak at the NESCBWI Conference came up my husband said, "Go hear Grace Lin! I've heard you go on and on about her; it's about time you actually meet her." Well, my husband doesn't understand how SCBWI conferences work - one does not just meet a keynote speaker in person. But, guess what? After her keynote address I was wandering around the foyer outside of the Ball Room and who should walk toward me but none other than Grace Lin! I did actually meet her and had a lovely chat. She seemed genuinely touched that hearing her speak was a big reason why I had travelled so far from the Pacific Northwest to the conference.

I know that some writers might see my desire to hear accomplished authors speak as a somewhat "groupie" mentality. However, for me, I seem to learn as much (if not more) from hearing keynote addresses as I do from laboring over dozens of books on the craft of writing. Because, like Sharon Creech, I write from an organic place. Thanks to the New England chapter of SCBWI for putting on one whale of a conference!

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Care to share any of your experiences in attending writer events?