Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sensational Scribe

        BOOK BLAST!

My close writer friend - Kriston Johnson - has just released her first young adult novel: Awakened. In honor of her debut novel I am participating in her book blast...including a grand giveaway of one e-copy of Awakened for Kindle, Nook, or even your laptop to one lucky winner who leaves a comment. In addition to the book, the one lucky participant will receive a $25.00 Amazon gift card, as well as an Awakened bookmark - which Kriston will sign!

But first, the excerpt from Awakened, by Kriston Johnson:
Jade was an expert at ignoring everything and everyone around her - except when there was a demon hovering at the doorway. It was supposed to be the time of her life, but so  far junior year sucked. Day after day she spent her lunch in the school library, sitting at the same table in the back corner. The farther away she was from everybody else, the better. It was the easiest place to escape the scrutinizing stares and smart remarks she received from the wonderful students she was supposed to consider her peers. Jade's clammy hands gripped armrests on her chair until her fingers turned white, her chest frozen mid-breath while other students moved around the room with careless ease.

Why don't they see him? He's right there. She moved only her eyes and scanned the room. If anyone else acknowledged it, she would know she was not as crazy as everyone accused. She just needed one other person to see him. Just one. The demon stood upright like a human, hunched over with a slight hump on its back. She didn't worry about fighting back tears; those had dried up a long time ago.

After watching it for what felt like an eternity, she saw Sadie Baker strut through the doorway; followed by her boyfriend Seth. For half a second, Jade wasn't sure what surprised her more:  the demon or that Sadie even knew where the library was. She breezed past the demon as if he weren't there, because to  her he wasn't.

Sadie caught the demon's attention, and he watched as she sauntered across the room. His face was partially hidden beneath his draped hood, but Jade could see it was barely more  than a skeleton. His cheeks were sunk in, his skin was practically white, and his eyes were nothing more than solid black orbs. He slithered from side to side like a serpent as he glided across the tile floor, following her as the tattered shreds of his charcoal gray cloak  rippled behind  him. Mr. and Mrs. Perfect plopped down one table over from Jade and dropped their backpacks on the floor. Sadie wore Seth's class ring on a chain around her neck, and she played with it often to make sure everyone could see it. She loosely held the ring in her fingers and slid it back and forth along the delicate silver link chain. The demon honed in on the ring, his head swaying to and fro like a cobra, saliva dripping from its mouth.

Jade wished the demon would get bored and move on, but something about the ring had him mesmerized. More than anything, she just wanted to grab her things and pretend none of it was happening. Despite the fact that Sadie was cold-hearted, thought she was better than everyone else, and had made Jade's life a living hell every school day for the last five years, Jade didn't want her to suffer the unholy wrath a demon could inflict on a person.

Cautiously, Jade stood. The demon hissed, exposing blackened, jagged teeth, and reached out with gnarled hands toward the unsuspecting Sadie. Jade rushed over and grabbed the ring out of Sadie's hand. She yanked down hard on the chain, breaking it free from Sadie's neck.

     "What the hell?" Sadie screeched, rubbing the back of her neck.

The demon jerked his head and lunged for the ring. Jade threw it across the room. Clinking across the tile, the ring slid in front of the window and down into a grated vent in the floor, the chain trailing behind it. The demon gave chase and hovered over the ring's resting place. Before dematerializing into vapor, he faced Jade, a sadistic smile spreading across his pale face.

                                     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Be sure and leave a comment if you'd like to have a chance at winning the grand giveaway. If you'd rather just go ahead and purchase Awakened, here are the links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.

I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy on Saturday, May 11th to announce the name of the grand giveaway winner!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Eastward Bound!

Next week I will be flying to New England to attend the NESCBWI Conference. The decision to travel so far from my home in the Pacific Northwest was not an easy one. However, when I learned that Sharon Creech, Grace Lin, and a number of other well-known veterans in the KidLit world would be in attendance, I just had to register. I have made it a point to read as many novels by Ms. Creech and Ms. Lin as possible; hearing them speak will be something truly special, I'm sure.

Consequently, I'll be taking a two week blog break; I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy on Saturday, May 11th. Tomorrow I'll be participating in the Book Blast for Kriston Johnson's debut YA novel - Awakened. I'll leave that post on my blog until the 11th, so be sure and check it out and leave a comment to be eligible for the grand giveaway.

Wish me luck...with all of the flight delays this could be interesting!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Callithump -

a noisy, boisterous band or parade.

Example: A callithump filled the city's main street following the championship victory by the town's baseball team.
Note: This word has a different meaning in British English, and has a variety of spellings.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Book of Story Beginnings
by Kristin Kladstrup

Amazon Description:
Oscar Martin was fourteen when he mysteriously disappeared from his Iowa farmhouse home in June 1914. His sister claimed Oscar had rowed out to sea - but how was that possible? There is no ocean in Iowa. When, nearly a century later, Lucy Martin and her parents move from their city apartment to that same farmhouse in Iowa, it is not long before Lucy discovers the strange and dangerous BOOK OF STORY BEGINNINGS. And it's not long before Oscar reappears in a bizarre turn of events that sends the two distant relatives on a perilous journey to save Lucy's father.

My Thoughts:
There is so much to like about this delightful middle grade novel: great character development, an intriguing plot, enchanting setting descriptions, and the subtle message about the importance of choosing to be happy. Although the pace of the story slowed a bit in the middle, this book is a wonderful read for both boys and girls from the ages of eight to fourteen!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Willamette Writers House
Who, What, When, and
Where to Write

I'm one of those introverted writers who usually likes to write in solitude. However, when one of my good writer friends invited me to join her at the Willamette Writers House this Saturday, I jumped at the chance. The house appears to be very small, but in fact, it has six writing rooms, a kitchen, and even a library. Each writer rents their own room for the day, but usually the members of the group get together for lunch and a couple of breaks during the day. It sounds like a great way to accomplish some writing while also having a chance to meet with fellow writers. I've attached the link to the facility it you're interested in checking it out. There are also photos of each of the rooms; I'm hoping to rent either the Bloomsbury Room or the Narnia Room!

Do you have a special place you enjoy writing at other than at home?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Meraki -

the soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.

Example: the artist's painting reflected an abundance of his meraki.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Stop Pretending
what happened when my big sister went crazy
by Sonya Sones

Flap Copy Description:
One night her sister goes crazy
One night her world falls  apart
It really happens just like that, in the blink of an eye. An older sister has a mental breakdown and has to be hospitalized. A younger sister is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief, and friends who turn their backs on her. But worst of all is the loss of her sister, her confidante, her best friend.

My Thoughts:
This novel in verse is a poignant and painful true story of the author's experience when her big sister does in fact experience a mental breakdown. The difficult passages to read are countered with the author's own transformation, as she slowly regains her own balance in life after the family is turned upside down by the unfortunate disease of Manic Depression. The raw and honest truth of this story is sure to help many young people who have a friend or family member dealing with mental illness. I would highly recommend this novel in verse to readers from the ages of twelve and up.

To learn more about the author-poet - Sonya Sones, click here:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Parlez-vous Francais?

Since my middle grade manuscript has been completed, but not yet fully edited, I decided to proceed with the research on the second book in the proposed series of Livvi Biddle. Much of the second book takes place in France, so I registered for a conversational French class to brush up on my high school French. Unfortunately, the instructor for the class ONLY speaks French.

My French was more rusty than I expected, so I decided to invest in a couple of digital language courses to get at least a bit brushed up. Once I can speak at a level that I won't embarrass myself, I'll return to the French class!

As I research Claude Monet, Giverny, and Paris in the 1920's, I'm hoping that immersing myself in the language will put me in a French frame of mind. Recently I watched Les Miserables... AGAIN!

Do you do anything special to enhance your approach to writing?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mundungus -

foul-smelling tobacco.

Example: The scent of mundungus permeated the crowded pub packed with cigar smokers.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Unfinished Angel
by Sharon Creech

Amazon Description:
Peoples are strange!

The things they are doing and saying - sometimes they make no sense. Did their brains fall out of their heads? And why so much saying, so much talking all the time day and night, all those words spilling out of those mouths? Why so much? Why don't they be quiet?

In the ancient stone tower of the Casa Rosa, in a tiny village high in the Swiss Alps, life for one angel has been the same, for as long as she (or he?) can remember. Until Zola arrives, a determined American girl who wears three skirts all at once. For neighbors who have been longtime enemies, children who have been lost, and villagers who have been sleepily living their lives: hold on. Zola and the angel are about to collide. Figs start flying, dogs start arfing, and the whole village begins to wake up. Zola is a girl  with a mission. And our angel has been without one - till  now.

My Thoughts:
This delightful novel in verse was written with a big dose of humor and whimsy; and yet, like all good novels, packed a powerful message as well. The Unfinished Angel includes the beautiful themes of love and peace, and the idea of allowing life to miraculously unfold. I would highly recommend this book to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the author, Sharon Creech - click here:

Friday, April 5, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

A Familiar Setting

It has been said to aspiring authors: "Write what you know." If that is true, then I am definitely on the right track...

The above photo of the historic hatchery just down our rural road is not only in my middle grade novel, but in my memory: I remember riding my bicycle to this destination in the fifth grade with my Camp Fire Group. (Since we here in the Pacific Northwest had some decent weather recently, I decided to take a few photos. The second book in my proposed MG series also takes place along this country lane!)

Down the road a bit is Mimsi Marsh. This murky marsh also found its way into my middle grade manuscript.  Including the setting descriptions of familiar places not only added texture to my story, but I'm hoping, believability.

My protagonist actually rides her bicycle down the road to visit the grave of her deceased mother, buried in this cemetery. It was established in 1852 and contains the remains of many prominent founding fathers of our town.

This is the school I attended in junior high. Back then its name was Shumway Junior High School; since then it has become a private school for the arts. In my novel, the school is called: Chilcott's Academy of Creativity.

It has been fun to use some local sites in my own hometown as a setting for my story. However, in my middle grade novel I did change the name of our city, for various reasons. And, like many writers, I took a bit of liberty with the accuracy of the details in regard to my setting.

How do you develop the settings for your stories? Any familiar sites?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Biloquist -

one capable of speaking with two dinstinct voices.

Example: The thespian's broad range of talent included his skills as a biloquist.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

by Raina Telgemeier

Back Cover description:
Family, Friends, Boys...
Dental Drama?!

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached(!). And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. Raina's story takes us from middle school to high school, where she discovers her artistic voice, finds out what true friendship really means, and where she can

My Thoughts:
The cover of Raina Telgemeier's delightful graphic novel is what caused me to purchase this book. Being a former dental hygienist, I was curious about the true story of the author's dental drama. What I found was not only a very accurate depiction with a variety of dental terms and treatments, but an amazing story of one girl's transformation from the life of a middle school kid, to that of a maturing high school student. Humor, sibling rivalry, and even bullying are all part of this entertaining and enlightening story set in San Francisco. I would recommend this book to girls from the ages of eight to twelve, and to anyone who is experiencing a dental drama - especially orthodontic patients!

To learn more about the author/illustrator, Raina Telgemeier,
click here: