Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mazer -
(n) a large cup or bowl made of hardwood.
Example: Before they set out for battle, each troll drank from the ancient mazer before passing it on to his brother in arms.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Boundless
by Kenneth Oppel

Flap Copy Description:
Will Everett Has Always Wished For An Adventure.

Little does he know his adventure starts the moment he boards the Boundless. There is a murder, and now Will protects a key that can unlock the train's hidden treasures. Villains are fast on his heels and strange creatures are lurking outside the windows, as the Boundless hurtles across the country. Together with Maren, a gifted escape artist, and Mr. Dorian, a circus ringmaster with amazing abilities, Will must save the Boundless before someone else winds up dead. His adventure may have begun without him knowing...but how it ends is up to Will.

My Thoughts:
Kenneth Oppel, an award-winning Canadian author, has penned a wonderful adventure story for boys and girls alike. As I read this recently released middle grade novel, I must admit, I saw the entire saga play out in my mind; so vivid are the characters, the settings, and the train ride across North America. (I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Oppel speak last year at our local community, and found him to be not only entertaining, but a staunch supporter of literature for young people. He shared in presenting the awards for a writing competition to local teens.) I would highly recommend The Boundless to readers from the ages of eight to twelve!

To learn more about the author, Kenneth Oppel, click here:

Friday, April 25, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

This Writer's Thoughts on Websites
                       Part I
Since my picture book/storybook - The Scandinavian Santa - will be released in September, I finally hired a website designer. However, now that I'm busy with marketing and networking activities, I wish I'd started thinking about a website a year ago.

Because of that epiphany, I thought I'd share a few things that I've learned from my research on websites. Much of my knowledge on this subject was gleaned from visiting numerous author sites while writing book reviews; I gained the remainder of the information while recently researching web designers for my own website.

Here are several tips that I've learned about websites for writers:
(Note: These tips are not related to specific recommended content in a writer's website.)

* Secure your domain name early. I secured my domain name a few years ago, from - but you can choose from numerous hosts on the Internet. Although it might seem silly to purchase a domain name if your book is years away from publication, if you have a common or semi-common name, like I do, it's essential. (I found that out a long time ago when I had trouble getting an email address due to the fact that there are at least a dozen females named Victoria Lindstrom in Sweden!) My domain name is:; my website launch is scheduled for late July.

* Use your blog (and the additional pages it can provide) for as long as possible before you launch a website. Doing that provides at least five advantages: 1) It allows you to get accustomed to being consistent and professional; 2) It also allows you to hone your writer's skills; 3) Maintaining a blog allows you to connect with a core group of writers; 4) Being a consistent blogger will help you to be a more confident writer; 5) Until a writer has a book deal, a blog can serve to relay her thoughts, news, and current events, quite nicely. (I plan on using my blog in tandem with my website to share news and events.)

* It's time to start thinking about website designs when you start sending out query letters. I failed to do that, and now I'm in "catch up" mode. Since I'm collaborating with my publisher to create my book, there are numerous phone calls and emails between us. I'm also exploring book signing opportunities, connecting with independent children's bookstores, and I've even placed my name on a list for a book booth at the SCANFAIR in Portland, Oregon next December! All this while I'm committed to maintaining my blog, cleaning my house, making my husband home-cooked meals, and finishing my work in get the idea. Even though I hired a fantastic web designer, I still need to make choices in regards to images, photos, videos, and text for the pages on the website.

* Obtain the most professional website that you can. It's important to have a professional presence as a published author. Obviously that concept is important for a blogger and pre-published author too; but, in my opinion, once people are looking to purchase the writer's books, the level of professionalism must go even higher. Also, it's important that the website reflect the type of books the author writes: fantasy, historical fiction, contemporary fiction, etc. Middle Grade and Young Adult authors often have crossover readers, but a writer of middle grade stories must keep in mind that besides the young readers that will visit her site, there will also be teachers, librarians, and parents checking out the website too. I found it necessary to hire a web designer because I could not find a way to create a website that would meet the needs of the educators and parents, and still be an attractive website for young readers. If you, or someone you know, has graphic design and technical skills, you may be able to develop a professional design independently. (My web designer/manager is .)

As you can see, I have numerous thoughts on the subject of websites for writers. I'll share Part II on this subject next week.

Do you have any thoughts to add? Do you have an author website?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Fernweh -

(n.) an ache for distant places; the craving for travel.
Example: As the sojourner shared stories from his travels, a fire of fernweh was kindled within the heart of the peasant boy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Nethergrim
by Matthew Jobin

Flap Copy Description:
The people of Moorvale put their faith in the legend: The knight Tristan and the wizard Vithric, in an epic battle, had defeated the evil Nethergrim.
     That faith is shaken when livestock go missing, only to turn up as piles of bones. But it's when a group of children disappear that they know for sure: The Nethergrim has returned.
     Edmund's brother is one of the missing, and Edmund knows he must do something to save his life. But what? Though a student of magic, he struggles to cast even the simplest spell.
     Still, he and his friends swallow their fear and set out to battle an ancient evil whose powers none of them can imagine.

My Thoughts:
Matthew Jobin's adventure fantasy novel, The Nethergrim, is full of magic and mystery, and is a story you'll not want to miss. This Old World tale is set in a place with shabby huts and hovels amidst mystical moors; a place where strange evil creatures could be lurking around every corner. The author skillfully weaves a tale of friendship and heroism in this upper middle grade book with well developed characters and a plot full of twists and turns. I would highly recommend The Nethergrim to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the author, Matthew Jobin, click here:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Rejuvenation and Renewal

It always amazes me the way my path as a writer seems to mirror the seasons of the year. Since spring brings with it the Easter and Passover holidays, it's a good time to talk about ways to rejuvenate and renew not only our writing, but ways to maintain our level of inspiration in life.

Here are just a few creative ways that I've discovered to help me rejuvenate and renew my own storyteller's journey:

Write a short story or a poem - At the start of this year I vowed to write several short stories (in addition to working on my W.I.P.) as a way to keep me inspired. Although I'm behind on the number of short stories I've completed, the one I've finished did indeed add a sense of freshness to my journey as a writer.

Volunteer - As we all know, volunteering usually blesses the volunteer as much, if not more, than those receiving our help. Here I'm pictured with Sophie the reading river otter - the mascot for our local library. Sophie was a great ambassador for the library at a recent children's fair in our community. My job was to help her get around, take her head off during breaks, and to be her translator (she speaks otter!).

Sophie the River Otter and Victoria
Mix It Up - Recently I found myself in a sort of literary limbo. Right after I decided to independently publish my picture book, it took me several days to get back in the swing of my writing routine. While I was in this funk I began doodling with a cover design for another story I'd written. I showed my husband, and asked him if he thought he could paint it. It turned out so well, I might just use a revised form of it for the cover design if The Tale of Willaby Creek goes an independent path to publication. I found this activity extremely rejuvenating, and it even reignited my interest in this old animal fantasy manuscript. (Making a collage, a book cover, or a WANTED poster for your protagonist or antagonist, are all great ways to stir up the creative juices!)

Written by Victoria Lindstrom - Painting by Michael Lindstrom

Join a New Group - Last week I had the opportunity to meet up with a new writers' group called Northwest Writers Shoptalk. The meeting was held at McMenamins Back Stage Bar, behind the Bagdad Theatre in Portland, Oregon. It was the inaugural meeting for the group, and the featured guest speaker was Peter Fogtdal, a Danish novelist.
Peter Fogtdal - Novelist
Peter shared humorous anecdotes, as well as helpful information for aspiring authors and published authors alike. With twelve novels to his credit, his advice was invaluable.

At the end of the evening, there was a drawing for the one novel (so far) that Peter has had translated into English. Since my husband escorted me to the event, wouldn't you know, he was lucky enough to win the lovely book and have the author sign it! Peter had read an excerpt from his novel earlier in the evening, and it was fantastic. I can't wait to borrow The Tsar's Dwarf  from my husband, Michael.

What I found from interacting with this new group for writers, was that although I believe I was the only writer of children's stories, it was one of the most inspiring events I've ever attended. That experience was a great reminder to keep an open mind to new and unusual ways to network in the literary community. Thanks, Northwest Writers Shoptalk!

Get Culture - Since my husband is an oil painter, I have numerous opportunities to visit art galleries. However, attending a symphony, a play, or a poetry reading would all be great ways to get inspired too. (I need to schedule a date for a concert with the hubby!)

Walk with Nature - Most of you know I love being in the out of doors. A walk - in the woods, along a lake, or at the seashore - is a wonderful way for me to clear my mind while I appreciate the natural world. I almost always come away with new ideas for stories, too.

Watch a Movie - It may seem counter productive to watch a movie, but I've found it to be a great way to be inspired, and even uplifted. Whether it's watching Miss Potter (for the umpteenth time!), Finding Forrester, Midnight in Paris, or some other film, I love watching movies with a literary story or subplot.

Attend a Writers' Event - As I mentioned a week ago on Writ of Whimsy, I attended the WWA SCBWI Spring Conference in Redmond, WA. last weekend. Here is a photo of the illustrious agent/editor panel.
 Pictured here, seated, from left to right:
Justin Chandra, publisher/editor (Simon & Schuster imprints)
Claudia Gabel, editor (Katherine Tegen Books)
Susan Hawk, agent (Bent Agency)
Holly McGhee, agent (Pippin Properties)
Alexandra Penfold, agent (Upstart Crow Literary)
Lauren Rille, associate art director (Simon & Schuster)
Although the panel looks proper and professional in the photo, they had just danced and paraded their way into the ballroom to the tune, Happy, by Pharrel Williams. It was a definite sign of good things to come...I had a blast! During the panel's opening remarks they seemed to strongly agree on two suggestions for aspiring authors: 1- Polish, polish, polish your manuscript before submitting it. 2- Be patient; take the time required to make sure your manuscript is "fully baked."
The breakouts and keynote addresses during the conference were stellar. I came home with loads to think about, and lots of work to do.
Do you have a tip to add to this list of ways to rejuvenate your writing?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Zemblanity -
the inevitable discovery of what we would rather not know; the opposite of serendipity.
Example: The student got an introduction to zemblanity after not studying for the final test and failing it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

House of Secrets #2
Battle of the Beasts
by Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini

Flap Copy Description:
Since their last adventure, life in the Walker household is much improved. Dahlia Kristoff (aka the Wind Witch) has been banished. And now the Walkers! The kids are at a new school, Bay Academy Prep, surrounded by the children of bankers and CEOs. But this change in their fortune hasn't brought them happiness. Brendan is having a hard time making friends. Cordelia's worried that her adventures in Denver Kristoff's books have warped her mind - and even her body. And Eleanor just wants things to go back to how they used to be.

But while the Walkers are dealing with their issues, Denver Kristoff is looking for his daughter, Dahlia, and no Walker will be safe until she is found. Summoning her to San Francisco will mean bringing all the danger that comes with her and putting the Walkers back in the crosshairs of a mysterious journey through Kristoff's books. Old enemies will make shocking choices and new friends will prove themselves as the Walkers travel from ancient Rome to World War II to Tibet. They'll learn that The Book of Doom and Desire isn't the only thing that can corrupt. And they'll be tested in ways that cut deeper than before, by Denver Kristoff, the Wind Witch, and each other.

My Thoughts:
It's was no surprise to me that House of Secrets Book 2 - Battle of the Beast is another wild ride of an adventure fantasy from Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini. As I mentioned in my book review of the first installment of the House of Secrets series, Chris Columbus has numerous credits to his name -  including having directed the first two Harry Potter movies, among others. Ned Vizzini was the award-winning author of several books; sadly, he passed away last year. While the character development is a bit weak in both upper middle grade books, the pace, plot, and humor seem to make up for it. I would highly recommend House of Secrets, Book 2- Battle of the Beasts to readers from the ages of eight to fourteen.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Taken from an overpass on the I-5 Freeway in Washington State
This Writer's Road Trip

Although I'll not be travelling this rural road tomorrow, I will pass by it on my way to the Western Washington SCBWI Spring Conference in Redmond, WA.

It's been just about a year since I last attended a major writers' event, so I'm super excited to hear the gifted authors, agents, and editors at the  SCBWI conference. I'll be sure and give you an update on my experience here on Writ of Whimsy next week.

It always amazes me how much I glean from attending a conference, retreat, or workshop. Obviously there is a ton of great inspiration and great information to be had by attendees at these events; but for me, they always seems to offer a sort of "jump start" to my writing. Seeing all the committed professionals in the Kidlit world reminds me that I'm not the only one who's received rejection letters, worked hard, or struggled with feelings of doubt and despair. Although that might sound like misery loves company, it's really more of a feeling of camaraderie: almost like soldiers with a similar tale to tell of their days in battle.

(Reaching my goal of acquiring a publisher for my picture book
The Scandinavian Santa was a milepost, not a destination. I hope I have many more mileposts along the way on my Storyteller's Journey!)

Are you planning on attending a writers' event in the near future?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Selcouth -

unfamiliar, rare, strange, and yet marvelous.

Example: The young woman's colorful ensemble was a selcouth choice of clothing for the wedding.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

Dust of Eden
by Mariko Nagai

Flap Copy Description:
Imagine your country is at war.

Now imagine everyone around you thinks you're the enemy. Mina Tagawa is just like any other American girl in middle school, sharing secrets with her best friend. But all that changes in December 1941 when Pearl Harbor is attacked. Suddenly her classmates are calling her a Jap, her father is arrested by the FBI, and newspaper headlines in Seattle and throughout the West Coast warn people not to trust Japanese Americans.

Within weeks, Mina's family is forced to leave their home and sent hundreds of miles away to an internment camp. For the next three years they live under armed guard - Americans treated as enemies.

My Thoughts:
Although I have read numerous novels in verse, Dust of Eden touched my soul like none other. To say that it is well-written, has beautiful prose, and is a story everyone should read, is all true; but it was the raw truth of how the American government and society treated its own that was so poignant and powerful. I hope Ms. Nagai's novel becomes a recommended book for middle grade students. Its thought-provoking message is something well-worth being reminded any age. I would highly recommend Dust of Eden to readers from the ages of eight to eighty.

To learn more about the author, Mariko Nagai, click here:!about/c786

Friday, April 4, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
       Creative Confidence

My journey as a writer has taught me numerous truths about literature and life. One of the most profound facts I've learned is that the more creative you are, the more confident you become; and the more confident you become, the more creative you continue to be...and on and on.

This concept of repetitive creativity feeding one's confidence is not quite the same as "practice makes perfect," since what I'm referring to is not so much about the quality of my writing only, as it is about how I feel about my writing.

I know numerous creatives who have pursued their chosen art form for years, and yet, they still feel extremely insecure about their work. We're all aware that creative types are prone to a plethora of insecurities, but we should feel good about what we least some of the time!

I've had Creative Confidence listed on my blog schedule to write for weeks. However, just this morning, I discovered a link that takes this topic and discusses it further. Here's the link from Ira Glass:

Do you have any thoughts to add to this topic of creative confidence?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Waldeinsamkeit -

woodland solitude; the feeling of being alone in the woods.

Example: The writer found the feeling of waldeinsamkeit inspiring as she walked beneath the tall timbers.