Friday, January 29, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

    A Writer's Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property - (noun)
a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.
Photo Credit: Public Domain

Recently I visited an attorney, who specializes in intellectual property, regarding our book The Scandinavian Santa. (Thankfully, she had only kind comments for our book, unlike the poor fellow in the graphic!)

We have been presented with an exciting opportunity for the book, but before we proceed with it, I felt it prudent to receive some legal advice. (I'll share more information about this new opportunity if and when it's finalized.) While I'll not share specifics of what I learned, I will say that every published author should have legal counsel available to her - preferably a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property. I received a plethora of information regarding copyrights, contracts, trademarks etc.

While I'm laboring on a new manuscript I'm hoping my story will work out to be something worthy of publication. Rarely, if ever, have I allowed my mind to wander on other possibilities for my creation. However, it is something that every writer should consider - at least as far as rights, residuals, and trademarks go. If nothing else, have an attorney in mind that specializes in intellectual property. (Believe it or not, unless you live in L.A. or NYC, those attorneys are few and far between!) That way, you won't be caught off guard if you have the opportunity to bring your story to life in another form, besides a book.

I wrote this blog post primarily to raise the issue of a writer's need for legal counsel. It is in no way meant to be legal advice, or even a recommendation on when to seek legal counsel. This post is merely me musing after consulting a great attorney specializing in intellectual property. I'm really glad I met with her; I learned a lot!

It's dangerous to make assumptions about your intellectual property!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sisyphean - (adj.)
(of a task) such that it can never be completed.
Example: Sadly, the woman's goals, like her housekeeping, were somewhat Sisyphean.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The War that Saved my Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Amazon Description:
An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson's Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

My Thoughts:
You'll forget you're reading a middle grade novel as The War that Saved my Life wraps you with a rich tapestry set in England during World War II. Its poignant plot, complex settings, and exquisite character development are brought vividly to life by the pen of Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. If you're a fan of historical fiction this novel is one not to miss. Shortly after I completed reading this special novel, I learned it had won a Newbery Honor! I highly recommend The War that Saved my Life to readers from the ages of eight to eighty.

Click here to learn more about Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Why I Love Middle Grade Books

When I noticed this campaign to spread the love for middle grade books, I just had to participate! Then it got me thinking: Why do I love middle grade books so much? First, I should say, that not only do I enjoy writing middle grade, I also enjoy reading middle grade! (I guess I just never grew up!)

One  reason I enjoy writing middle grade stories is that since the readers in that age bracket - eight to twelve (or even up to 14) - are in the process of learning who they are, they're more interested in reading a variety of genres. That gives a writer a better chance to sell whatever genre it is she writes.There is some gratification, as a writer, knowing that the young people who read my books might be positively influenced by something in my stories. I enjoy writing light fantasy books about animals and childhood - with a bit of coming of age thrown in - those elements in a book won't fly with a young adult! These are the main reasons I love writing middle grade books so much.

The reason I enjoy reading middle grade stories is that they're more about a young person spreading her wings - and using her imagination -  as she learns about the world. Whereas young adult and adult novels sometimes rely too much on the romantic element for the characters. Too many times the romance element in a YA story causes the protagonist to draw her strength from that relationship. Since I like being inspired, and strengthened by a book, I find that I usually enjoy middle grade books much more - especially those that include animals. Besides, as I mentioned above, I think I just never really grew up!

This seems like a good time to remind you that my middle grade animal fantasy novel is still being featured on a Book Launch Party hosted by SCBWI. If you'd like a chance to win a signed copy, click here to visit the launch party and then merely sign my guest book on the sidebar. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 1st.

(By the way, if you'd like to participate in the I Love Middle Grade campaign on Twitter, don't forget to use the hashtag: #iLOVEMG.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Morass - (n.)
1- an area of muddy or boggy ground.
2- a complicated or confused situation.
Example: The child's explanation for his bad behavior was nothing more than a morass of clever excuses.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

Night On Fire
by Ronald Kidd

Flap Copy Description:
Thirteen-year-old Billie Simms doesn't think her hometown of Anniston, Alabama, should be segregated, but few of the town's residents share her opinion. As equality spreads across the country and the Civil Rights Movement gathers momentum, Billie can't help but feel stuck--and helpless--in a stubborn town too set in its ways to realize that the world is passing it by. So when Billie learns that the Freedom Riders, a group of peace activists riding interstate buses to protest segregation, will be traveling through Anniston on their way to Montgomery, she thinks that maybe change is finally coming and her quiet little town will shed itself of its antiquated views. But what starts as a series of angry grumbles soon turns to brutality as Anniston residents show just how deep their racism runs. The Freedom Riders will resume their ride to Montgomery, and Billie is now faced with a choice: stand idly by in silence or take a stand for what she believes in. Through her own decisions and actions and a few unlikely friendships, Billie is about to come to grips with the deep-seated prejudice of those she once thought she knew, and with her own inherent racism that she didn't even know she had.

My Thoughts:
The award-winning author and playwright, Ronald Kidd, has penned a powerful story that should be read by not only all children, but by all adults, too! Night On Fire is a well-written historical fiction novel set during the turbulent days of the Civil Rights Movement, but it is the thoughts and struggles of the protagonist, Billie, and her new-found friend, Jarmaine, that are so riveting. You'll see the issues of that time in a whole new way, no matter who you are. This novel swallowed me up whole; I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend Night On Fire to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Ronald Kidd.

                   In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

While Journey to Snowdonia won't be released until the 2017 holiday season, I still thought I'd give you a sneak peek of the synopsis - as well as a few of the illustrations - for our latest storybook/picture book:

Henry and Harriet are proper children, who live in a proper house, on a proper street in Victorian London. But when their father, Mr. Charles W. Smithwaite, decides to take the family on a winter holiday in Wales, the siblings go on an outing that is anything but proper. Whilst their father and mother are busy with their society friends, Henry and Harriet venture away from the country inn, deep into the ancient Gwydir Forest, in the legendary land of Snowdonia. Then, when a mishap occurs in the mysterious old woods, they discover the magical powers of the amazing creatures that live amidst the misty mountains of Wales. But most importantly, they learn about courage, and about kindness, and about the necessity to sometimes believe in a thing... even though it makes no sense at all.

Oil paintings by Michael Lindstrom - Copyright 2016

These four oil paintings are a small sampling of the illustrations that will be needed for our picture book/storybook Journey to Snowdonia.

The manuscript for Journey to Snowdonia is complete, but will still require a final edit. However, I'm keeping very busy with a rewrite of my middle grade novel Livvi Biddle - The Secret at Stonehenge.
(Michael asked me where all the British inspiration was coming from and I had to remind him I'm not only Norwegian, I'm also French, Italian, AND Welsh!)

Over the holidays my mom and I perused over old family photos. My mother's maiden name was Tuson; here's a photo of one of my British ancestors (we're trying to confirm he's my great-great grandfather):

Tuson ancestor from Middlesex England

I hope my ancestor was a nicer fellow than Charles W. Smithwaite!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Broigus - (n.)
a bitter dispute or feud.
Example: The two brothers were in a big broigus over what each of them would receive from their parents' estate.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

City Atlas - Travel the World with 30 City Maps
Illustrated by Martin Haake
Written by Georgia Cherry

Back Cover Description:
Go on a global adventure with this illustrated book of 30 cities from around the world.
Spot famous people, iconic buildings, cultural hotspots, and child-friendly destinations in these detailed city guides that offer hours of fun for children and adults alike.

My Thoughts:
This beautifully illustrated and well-written picture book is not only fun, but informative. Famous and not so famous facts about each of the thirty world cities included in this book make it a rare find: the book will fuel the young reader's imagination, as well as offer new facts to adults - I know it did that for me! Whether you want to offer your child a "window to the world" or an extra resource to plan your next major trip, City Atlas - Travel the World with 30 City Maps is a great find.

Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Martin Haake.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

     Why Setting Goals is Grand
I've been setting serious goals since I was a ten-year-old, and while I've not achieved all of them, I have achieved most of them. So when it comes to approaching a new year, I've never made any resolutions - goals just work better for me. Photo Credit: Public Domain

That being said, I take goal setting very seriously, and always make a step by step plan to hopefully reach a goal in a set amount of time. Life changes, a change of interest, and other factors have occasionally derailed me. However, looking back I can honestly say that setting a goal, and following steps to reach it, is what makes me happy and how I run my life. That's not to say I've already reached all my goals. Some take a lot of time. Some are lifelong dreams, like leaving a legacy.

Since becoming a published author I have discovered that goals work really well for a writer. I would go so far as to say I believe it's very difficult - if not impossible - to get published without making a goal.

Here are just a few of the goals I made on New Year's Day:

* Complete a rewrite of my middle grade novel - Livvi Biddle - by May.
* Work with Michael (my husband and illustrator) to complete the
   illustrations for Journey to Snowdonia.
*Write the first draft for another picture book I have outlined.

So, I made a step by step plan to hopefully accomplish these goals.
I want to reach all three of them - at different times - during 2016.

I believe one of the things that makes setting goals so grand - besides the fact that they work - is that each step that's accomplished in the process can be celebrated and savored for its own significance.

I hope your dreams come true; wishing you a great year of writing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Afflatus - (n.)
a divine creative impulse or inspiration.
Example: The writer always hoped to receive an afflatus before beginning a new project.

NOTE: Congratulations to the winners of my recent Rafflecopter giveaway! Listed below are the names of the lucky winners:

Tisha Gerlack - Grand Prize: One signed copy of each of my books - The Scandinavian Santa and The Tale of Willaby Creek - with matching bookmarks.
Candace Redinger - One $50.00 Amazon Gift Card.
Danielle Meek - One signed copy of The Scandinavian Santa with matching bookmark.
Becci Long - One signed copy of The Tale of Willaby Creek with matching bookmark.
Christine Simons - One electronic copy of The Scandinavian Santa.
Latisha DePoortere - One electronic copy of The Tale of Willaby Creek.
Thanks to everyone who participated in this fun event.
Wishing you all peace, love, and health for a Happy New Year!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
by Jackie Morris

Flap Copy Description:
From the moment she saw him, she knew the bear had come for her. How many times had she dreamt of the bear…. Now, here he was, as if spelled from her dreams.
“I will come with you, Bear,” she said.
It is the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the girl. First to the bear’s secret palace in faraway mountains, where she is treated so courteously, but where she experiences the bear’s unfathomable sadness, and a deep mystery…
As the bear’s secret unravels, another journey unfolds… a long and desperate journey, that takes the girl to the homes of the four Winds and beyond, to the castle east of the sun, west of the moon.

My Thoughts:
While I've read two other versions of this familiar fairy tale, but East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris is by far my favorite. This story is usually set in Scandinavia, but Ms. Morris wrote a tale that includes countries from around the globe. In so doing, this story is much more complex, and should appeal to a more diverse audience. In addition to the well-written text, Ms. Morris has included her beautiful illustrations; I have admired her amazing art for some time. I highly recommend East of the Sun, West of the Moon to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author/illustrator, Jackie Morris.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Words for 2016

Making resolutions has never been my thing, they just don't work. I'm more of a goal kind of gal, which I'll blog about next week. What really gets my attention are WORDS. Listed below are the words that seem to come to mind for 2016:

Breakthrough - Wow! Wouldn't we all love that, in so many areas of our lives.

Excitement - Since a writer's life is so full of dedication and discipline, a bit of excitement thrown into the mix might be nice.

Magic - While this word seems to be used quite a bit - by all sorts of creative types - it's still one of my favorites. Whether you call it inspiration, creativity, divine intervention, or something different altogether, as writers we must have magic in our work.

Epiphany - It's always a big deal for me when I learn something in a new way, or even better, for the first time.

Connections -  Since the word networking seems a bit like it has ulterior motives, I like the word connections much better. It implies the possibility of new friends, new experiences, and new ways of thinking.

Harmony - This word not only implies peace, but a sort of "working peace." Love it!

Evolve - For me, each new year offers the opportunity to keep evolving as a writer, a friend, a spouse, a parent, and so much more.
I hope to see myself continue to evolve and mature in 2016.

On Monday I'll begin a rewrite of my middle grade novel Livvi Biddle. I'm hoping to have it completed by May so my beta readers can take a look before it's edited one last time. There's also a new opportunity for us regarding The Scandinavian Santa. It's too early to share, but if this opportunity pans out I'll be sure to share an update. One thing I've definitely learned in my time as a professional writer is to tread my storyteller's journey with a measure of magic and a pound of patience!

Wishing you peace, love, and laughter in 2016. Happy New Year!