Monday, September 29, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Most Magnificent Thing
written & illustrated by Ashley Spires

Amazon Description:
Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. "She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!" But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits...

My Thoughts:
The beautiful, whimsical artwork; the themes of perseverance and creativity; as well as the character development - all in a 32-page picture book - make The Most Magnificent Thing a very special picture book indeed. As I read this imaginative little story, I couldn't help but think: This is the perfect book for all writers to read! The book just so happens to be one of those extraordinary picture books that would speak to anyone with creativity in their bones, laughter in their soul, or a desire to be inspired in their heart.

To learn more about author-illustrator, Ashley Spires, click here:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Book Blitz
My dear friend, author, and blogger, Kriston Johnson, offered to organize a book blitz for me. Below is her invitation to participate:

"One of my favorites things to do as a blogger is recommend new books to readers in hopes that they will enjoy a story as much as I did. Well this is one such story. I am organizing a week long blitz for the whimsical yuletide tale, The Scandinavian Santa. This delightful storybook is a unique collaboration between husband and wife team, author Victoria Lindstrom, and artist Michael Lindstrom. If you would like to be a part of the blitz the link is below. There will be prizes for the readers and the blitz hosts as well!"

The Scandinavian Santa written by Victoria Lindstrom
paintings by Michael Lindstrom

Publication date: Sept 16th 2014
Published by: Deeds Publishing
Genre: animal fantasy, Christmas.

Journey to the enchanted land of Scandinavia, where, nestled in the Nordic Forest, lives Santa Swanson. Each winter, this nephew of St. Nicholas has his own Christmas Eve delivery to make - but what that is and to whom has long been hidden. With the help of two mischievous flying polar bears, Gunnar and Ludvig; a rescued golden eagle, Lars; and a host of other whimsical creatures; Santa Swanson prepares for his annual sleigh ride down Viking Valley!

Delight in this yuletide adventure complete with a fanciful ice skating party, a rustic holiday feast, and an unexpected reunion with Santa Swanson's famous uncle. In the midst of all tis wonder, he forest friends learn a heartwarming secret from a Christmas angel revealing the magic of generosity.

This will be a week long blitz running from October 20th through October 24th. You can post anytime during that window. All hosts will be able to offer a blitz wide Rafflecopter giveaway to their readers. Prizes include a $25 Amazon gift card, a signed hardback copy, and ebook. (Provided by the author) Blogger html will be provided for those who prefer a pre-made post.

But wait, there's more! All participating hosts will be entered into a separate drawing for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. It is our way of saying thank you for helping spread the word about The Scandinavian Santa.

Post information will be emailed October 10th.

Click here to sign up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Incalescent - (adj.)
growing hot, or more ardent.

Example: The severe fever caused the infant's entire body to become incalescent.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Memory of an Elephant
An Unforgettable Journey
written by Sophie Strady
illustrated by Jean-Francois Martin

Back Cover Description:
An elephant never forgets...
In the memory of a very, very old, left-handed, helicon-playing elephant named Marcel, you'll find an aye-aye, the Empire State Building, cornes de gazelle, macarons, a Japanese macaque, a Komodo dragon, a Great Hornbill, a butterfly stool, a Japanese sable, a combo organ, an electric guitar, a giraffe piano, the seven seas of the world, a fenne fox, a desert rat, an ibis, the eight planets of the solar system, an ant chair, fruit sorbet, Ziggy hummingbird, a gecko, a boater hat, an edelweiss, an orangutan, a baobab, a black velvet mask, a tailcoat, the Agbar Tower, dozens of presents, a Viking longship, a caravel, thousands of knots, a balalaika, a fabulous party, and enormous bunch of bananas!

My Thoughts:
There is SO much to love about this over-sized (11" X 14") imaginatively illustrated picture book; first published in France in 2012, and released in the United States this year. Themes of valuing life-long learning, and special friendships, are woven throughout the book, but what I most took away from Sophie Strady's story was: Live. Live as big as an elephant! Facts about elephants are also included throughout the book, as well as Marcel's taste in clothing - and seemingly everything else. The author also made extraordinary word choices in The Memory of an Elephant - something I always enjoy. I fell in love with the encyclopedia-writing elephant named Marcel, and you will too. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, and for coffee tables in the most fashionable of homes.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

This Author's Acknowledgments

Due to the fact that my recently released children's storybook -
The Scandinavian Santa - is in a picture book format (only 32 pages in length), there was not enough space to thank everyone within the book. So, I've chosen to send my heartfelt thanks and appreciation via this blog. Listed below are the numerous individuals who inspired, supported, and assisted me along my arduous path to publication.

Since The Scandinavian Santa was a collaborative project with my husband ( he contributed the paintings for the book), I was inspired early on by other married couples who had traveled the path to publication together. They include: H.A. Rey & Margret Rey who penned and illustrated the classic Curious George children's books; Berta & Elmer Hader who collaborated on The Big Snow - winner of a Caldecott Medal; and Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire who created Children of the Northlights. (Their book was especially inspiring to me since the subject matter was so close to our own.) Creating a book with one's spouse is invigorating, and at times, challenging. Knowing that the three couples listed above collaborated to create such beautiful books for children was immensely inspiring.

Thanks to my dear parents: Don and Sheila Cardon. The principles of perseverance and independence you taught me have served me well in life, and in becoming a published author. I'm looking forward to seeing you both again in January! Love you, Mom and Dad.

To the Cardon and Lindstrom Clans: Thanks for understanding (or at least attempting to) our passion for creativity. Lots of love to you all.

To Kriston Johnson - author, writing partner, and friend: What can I say, kiddo? For years we joked that when one of us was Frodo Baggins, the other was Samwise Gamgee, and vice versa. Thanks for padding the path to publication with me. Your friendship, support, great critiques, and techie abilities helped me finally get there.

To my close friend, Laura Johnson: Having a friend to share the secrets of one's heart is a rare thing; thanks for being that friend. I've so enjoyed our chats on life, literature, and loss. And while you were still grieving over the death of your dear husband Dave, you offered to edit my work. There are few souls on our planet like you, Laura.

To a dear friend and a fantastic librarian, Amy Lee: Your support of me, and of Michael, means so much. Your friendship is the kind that warms the heart. Your commitment to literacy has informed and inspired so many people in our community. Thanks for being my hero on so many levels, Amy.

To a magnificent mystery author, and my mentor: Carolyn J. Rose:
Little did I know when I first walked into your creative writing class at Clark College so many years ago, that you'd be the person who would become my teacher, mentor, and friend. You probably didn't know just how low I was at that time, but your humor in teaching the craft of writing was the perfect medicine for me. I'll be forever grateful that you kindly pointed out more than a few errors in my writing without making me feel embarrassed. Quite the contrary, you treated me, and the rest of your students, like published authors. And, you're still supporting me now that I'm actually published. You're simply the best, Carolyn!
(Do I hear Tina Turner in the background?)

To my first critique group: The Magic Pen Critique Group: Those early days when we were all students in the Clark College creative writing classes and, thus, novice writers, will always remain in my heart as cherished memories. The critique group we formed was a joy to attend. It was wonderful to watch each other grow and develop in our abilities as writers. I hope we all stay in touch for a long, long time.

To my present critique group: Anna Craig, Deb Cushman, and Kriston Johnson: Why you three (an MFA student, a veteran educator, and a published author) agreed to create a group with a former dental hygienist, I'll never know, but I'm so glad you did. Your critiques in the latter stages of this book - just prior to publication - were invaluable. I look forward to many more critique nights, with the appropriate refreshments, of course. ^_^

To The SCBWI Tribe: To all the writers, illustrators, agents, and editors I've met in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators who supported me with your friendship and kind professionalism: thank you so much. Although someone might not be meant to remain in your life long term, they can certainly act as a guiding light along the lengthy (and sometimes tortuous) trail, that is the life of a writer. A special thank you to the founders of SCBWI for providing an extraordinary place for creators of children's books to be supported and inspired.

To Deeds Publishing: Thanks for putting up with me and my bad case of "debut author anxiety." Your professional edits, layouts, formatting, and marketing truly allowed The Scandinavian Santa to take flight. Bob, Jan, Mark, and Matt: I'm SO grateful for your wonderful work. If we ever make it down to Atlanta, Georgia, we'll stop in and say hello.

To the Webmasters at Xuni: A HUGE thank you to both of you, Maddee and Jen. You two designed (and now manage) my author site with all the creativity, professionalism, and efficiency I ever could have imagined. On top of that, you're both super nice ladies to work with; you treat a debut author (like me) as if I was a best-selling celebrity. Thanks for creating a website that reflects my style as a writer; I love it.

Cover to Cover Books & Expresso - A big thank you to bookstore owner Mel Sanders (Author, Mel Sterling) for your support of not only me, but of numerous other authors. Michael and I also appreciate your kind offer to host our book launch party - it's getting close now!

To MVP Video Productions: Thanks to videographer, Jim Martin, for your wonderful work on our interview video - we love it. Best of luck to you with your singing/comedy gig; we still need to get down to Tommy O's and see you perform.

To Art on the Boulevard: Thanks to the gallery director, volunteers, and artists at AOTB for including us in your awesome art community. Creative types are, by nature, a bit quirky, and it's such a strength to us to have your support. A special thank you to Kevin and Kristy Weaver for your commitment not only to the arts, but to so many different facets of our fantastic community. You're both so inspiring to Michael and me, and we're honored to have you as our friends.

To the Columbia River Art Group: Hosting your monthly critique group in our home has been an amazing experience. Listening to oil painters discuss composition, craft, and even voice, reminds me just how much the different branches of the arts intertwine. Thanks for your support of my writing and, specifically, of The Scandinavian Santa. Celeste, Dave, Camila, Nila, Eric, and Michael: You guys are great!

To my Blogging buddies, Facebook friends, and Twitter peeps: Some days your posts & comments, quips & quotes, and tweets & retweets, are what really pick me up, make me smile, and keep me going. It's amazing to me that folks I've never met before could play such an important and inspiring role in my life. Thanks ever so much.

My Great Gang ~

To my son and daughter-in-law, David and Jessica:  Thanks for all our chats on life, literature, education, travel, and faith. You two are so inspiring to me. Your support of Michael and me, and of our creative ventures, means so much. Best of luck with your own creative goals down there in Southern California. Love and miss you both.

To my son, Kevin: Your commitment to excellence is something I've always admired. Whether in life, or academics, you've never settled for less than the best. Consequently, that included your edits of my work. Thanks so much for the key role you played in those early days when I was crafting this book, Kev. Good luck with your own writing back there in NYC. I miss you so much.

To my son, Brian: Our chats on creativity, and how the different arts contain numerous similarities in that regard, are always so inspiring. Thanks for arranging the musical vignette for my interview video, and composing those for my current writing projects as well. I miss you so much, Brian. See you at NYU for your graduation next spring.

To my husband, Michael: It would take several pages to thank you for all you've done and all you mean to me, Lindy. You're my soul-mate, my best friend, and the one who won't let me get away with anything!
I love you. If my words are the heart of this book, then your paintings are its soul. What a collaboration. Many times over the years we both thought we were wasting our time to think our unique little book would ever see the light of day. I'm extremely glad we stuck it out. It gave
The Scandinavian Santa time to finally find his true identity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Riposte (n.) -
a quick, clever reply to an insult or criticism.
Example: The new homeowner wished she could give a riposte to the rude neighbor's nasty remarks, but the proper reply always came to her too late.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

My Book Birthday!
The Scandinavian Santa is special to me in many ways. It was a heartfelt collaboration with my talented husband, and was inspired by the memory of my great-grandfather Peter Swanson, to mention just two.

Now that it's really our book's birthday, in some ways it's hard to believe. I've scheduled a special blog post for this coming Friday to take the time to properly thank all those fantastic folks who contributed SO much along our challenging five year path to publication.

If you're interested in purchasing a copy of The Scandinavian Santa, a portion of the proceeds from hardback copies sold through the end of this year will be donated to the wonderful conservation group:
 Polar Bears International. Here's the link to purchase a hardback copy:

This is one of those special days in my life that I'll always remember.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Reading Promise
by Alice Ozma

Amazon Description:
When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundredth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they call "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college.

My Thoughts:
I found this remarkable story - based on true events - to be extremely inspiring, unique, and with a message that is sorely needed in our society today: You're never too old to be read to. Although the novel's characters were a bit quirky, I found them to be quite delightful. It is always encouraging as a reader to learn that you're not the only one in the world that doesn't have a stereotypical spectacular life that is portrayed in some children's books. I would highly recommend The Reading Promise to bibliophiles of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author Alice Ozma.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

"A Beautiful Place"
Last week I was honored to receive the Very Inspiring Blogger Award from a dear friend: the author Elizabeth Varadan. She is super inspiring herself! Elizabeth enjoys writing mysteries, historical fiction, and children's books. Be sure and visit her wonderful blog: Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish.

I love the phrase at the lower left hand corner of this blogger award:
Keeping the Blogosphere a Beautiful Place. I think that's why I enjoy blogging as much as I do. There are so many wonderful blogs, of all kinds, that have the ability to beautify my life. (Elizabeth's blog is definitely one of them since she regularly shares about her travels to Spain and India.) Besides the numerous writers' blogs that I follow, I also follow a few blogs hosted by a variety of artists. That brings me back to the criteria for this wonderful award: The recipient is required to reveal seven things about herself, and then pass it on to seven other bloggers who she finds inspiring.

So, here are seven things about myself that you might not know:

1- My hair is so naturally kinky that I get a Brazilian blowout every three months.

2- My favorite meal is: cheese, bread, wine, and chocolate...of course!

3- I've had three gardening accidents (two of which required stitches!), but I still love it.

4- I make a to-do list every morning, otherwise I'd never get off my computer.

5- I manage the business side of my husband's art career. Lately it's been tough to keep up.

6- Walking in the woods, or along the beach, is my favorite thing to do.

7- My all-time favorite adult novel is A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. It doesn't get any better than that for me.

Next, here are the seven blogger nominees who inspire me:

Kriston Johnson -
Celeste Bergin -
David Burbach -
S.P. Bowers -
Ruth Schiffmann -
Loree Huebner -
Grace Lin -

These wonderful folks inspire me with their blogs, and with their lives.

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Varadan for honoring me with this award.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Fabulist - (n.)
1- a person who composes or relates fables.
2- a person who invents elaborate, dishonest stories; a liar. Example: To be a fantastic novelist, an author must be a bit of a fabulist.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

by Raina Telgemeier

Back Cover Description:
Three weeks. Two sisters.
One car. A True Story
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years. But when a baby enters the picture, and later, when something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.

My Thoughts:
Sisters is the second graphic novel in Ms. Telgemeier's Smile series. The author uses a true story from her own childhood to reveal just how complex life with a sister (and a snake!) can truly be. The colorful comic illustrations make this book the perfect read for a reluctant reader, a comic book lover, or anyone who just loves to laugh. If you've ever been on a family road trip that went bad (like I have) you'll definitely relate to this hilarious story.

To learn more about the multi-talented Raina Telgemeier, click here:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

        It's That Time of Year!

With our part of the Pacific Northwest recording one of the hottest summers in history, it's difficult to believe that it's that time of year when children are back in school.

At this time last year, I posted about buses rumbling down our rural road, about me writing in my creative cave, and about the Seahawks vying for the Super Bowl. (For those of you who have been in a vacuum since February, the Hawks pulled it off! Yeah - the 12th Man!)

As for me, this September brings with it the excitement of the release of my debut children's book. The Scandinavian Santa will be released on Tuesday, the 16th of this month, and with it all the marketing events involved with promoting a book. If you're a published author, then you're already aware of the balancing act required of you. Writing your current project, promoting your book, and back and forth. It seems that I'm either promoting too much, or not enough. Clearly, I feel more comfortable in my creative cave, than soaring through cyberspace proclaiming the good news of my book. However, the internet is by far the best way to let readers know about a book's release.

So for those of you who live in the Vancouver, WA - Portland, OR area, I'd love to see you at my book launch party on Saturday, Sept. 27th! Here's the flyer for the event with the details:

Hope you all have had a sensational summer. I don't know about you, but September always signals a time to really get back to work, for me. So, I'm working on the second book in my proposed MG series, and preparing to submit the first novel to some awesome agents.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Jargogle -

(v.) to jumble; confuse.
Example: The passenger failed to turn off his laptop which caused the jet's electronic system to jargogle.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Julian Chapter:
A Wonder Story
by R. J. Palacio

Amazon Description:
From the very first day Auggie and Julian met in the pages of the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder, it was clear that they were never going to be friends, with Julian treating Auggie like he had the plague. And while Wonder told Auggie's story through six different viewpoints, Julian's perspective was never shared. Readers could only guess what he was thinking.

Until now The Julian Chapter will finally reveal the bully's side of the story. Why is Julian so unkind to Auggie? And does he have a chance for redemption?

My Thoughts:
The Julian Chapter is a powerful and poignant look inside the life of the boy that brought Auggie so much pain. Julian, like nearly all antagonists, has plenty of pain of his own. In this latest Wonder story, Ms. Palacio reveals Julian's own back story, and with it, a reminder that life's challenges are never as simple as they seem. While not condoning the bully's action, this novel does bring about a change of heart for Julian, and with it remorse, and ultimately redemption. The author skillfully brings Julian to that revelation by weaving a forgotten family secret, with ties to World War II, into her masterpiece. If ever there was a middle grade novel that encouraged a path of peace, it would be The Julian Chapter. I would highly recommend R. J. Palacio's latest Wonder story to readers of all ages.