Monday, February 27, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

A Poem for Peter
by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by Lou Fancher &
Steve Johnson

Amazon Description:
A celebration of the extraordinary life of Ezra Jack Keats, creator of The Snowy Day.

The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’s greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book.

For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his — and Keats’s — neighborhood.

Andrea David Pinkney’s lyrical narrative tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers.

My Thoughts: It was a thrill to meet the author of A Poem for Peter - Andrea Davis Pinkney - at the recent SCBWI Winter Conference. Her beautiful book is full of inspirational history, as well as being an entertaining tale for children. This enchanting picture book is a must-read for fans of Ezra Jack Keats. I highly recommend A Poem for Peter to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Andrea Davis Pinkney.

My signed copy of A Poem for Peter!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Bringing Your Beloved Story to Life
You've written, rewritten, and edited your story. You've sent out a multitude of queries, then more queries, but still, no agent representation. You have a decision to make: Should I shelve this story? Or, is the content of my story begging to be published?

Before you make your decision there are a number of additional questions you should ask yourself:

* Have I written the best manuscript I can?
* Do I view my story as a reflection of my values?
* Is my manuscript up to market standards?
* Am I open and ready for the work it takes to publish and market my book independently?

While there are other questions to ask yourself before you dive into the ocean of self-published authors, those listed above are some of the most important. If your answer to any of them is "no," then you're probably not a great candidate to publish your story independently.

A broader question is: Why do I want my story published? Is it for fame, or wealth?  If it is, you'll be sorely disappointed. Rarely do either of those coveted experiences visit the self-published author.

If, however, you view your beloved story as being something important for your target audience to read, then you'll have a better chance of being satisfied with self-publishing. (It should be a reflection of your soul, something you're proud of - a story you want to see come to life.)

If you come to the conclusion that, indeed, you plan to publish independently, you have more questions to ask yourself: Those that have to do with the process. E-book only? Paperback? Hardback?

If you have no knowledge on how to publish you have a lot to learn!

In the next two weeks I'll be sharing the information I've learned from publishing independently. If you're also thinking about publishing independently, be sure to check out my Friday posts!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Limn - verb
depict or describe in painting or words.
Example: The artist was asked to limn a caricature.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping:
The stories, characters, and inventions of Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Amazon  Description:
An interactive introduction and fresh new look at Roald Dahl's world and characters!
A brilliant extension to Dahl's wonderful stories, this book gives fascinating insights into the characters and events from Roald Dahl's writing in a humorous, exciting and downright gloriumptious way. For the very first time, the stories behind the stories--like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and more--are brought to life in this brand new title. Inside, Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations are combined with imagined letters, artifacts and news clippings, and editing notes from Dahl himself, to bring all of Roald Dahl's characters alive. Whether you have read all of Roald Dahl's stories, or are just beginning to enjoy them, this is a great companion book that will help you delve even deeper into Roald Dahl's worlds!
Includes 4 booklets, 3 flaps, and 1 pull out letter.

My Thoughts:
After purchasing, and enjoying, the Roald Dahl Oxford Dictionary, I was anxious to peruse Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping... it's whoopsy whiffling! If your child enjoys whimsical illustrations, extraordinary words, and loads of laughter while reading, then this book would be a perfect choice. Whether a child was introduced to the stories of iconic author Roald Dahl through his books, or through blockbuster films, she will love Wonderful, Wicked, and Whizzpopping!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

View from my Grand Hyatt hotel room in Manhattan.
Flurries of Snow & Inspiration!

Last week I traveled to New York City to celebrate my sons' birthdays, and to attend an SCBWI Conference as well. While the weather was fantastic when I arrived (62 degrees), the following day it snowed! However, the winter weather didn't dampen my time with my sons, Kevin & Brian, nor my time at the conference. I had a wonderful stay in Manhattan - personally and professionally.

It was my first time at the New York SCBWI Winter Conference, and what a conference it was. I attended workshops given by agent Beth Phelan, editor Andrew Harwell, and author/poet Sonya Sones - all were amazing. I heard an assortment of awesome panels, and  super keynotes: from illustrator Bryan Collier, and author Tahereh Mafi.

Sara Pennypacker is welcomed by SCBWI co-founder, Lin Oliver.
However, it was the closing keynote from award-winning author Sara Pennypacker that brought the house down. She gave an informative & inspirational speech for the ages. Extraordinary!

What I gained from this conference was invaluable: information and inspiration in abundance. So much so, that it will take me weeks, if not months, to process through it all. But I wouldn't have it any other way!

By the time my plane was landing in the Pacific Northwest last Monday night I was completely spent. I'd been in an airport or airplane for nearly 12 hours. What an adventure! As always, it was great to be back home.

If you ever have a chance to attend the SCBWI New York Conference, or the L.A. Conference, find a way to do so. In addition to the great information & inspiration you'll receive, you'll also realize that while you spend hours laboring alone over your own manuscript, you're really part of an enormous community of writers & illustrators just like you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ersatz - adj.
made or used as a substitute, typically an inferior one; fake, not genuine. Example: The mother realized her son had only ersatz remorse for his disobedience.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

XO, OX - A Love Story
Written by Adam Rex
Illustrated by Scott Campbell

Flap Copy Description:

"Dear Gazelle,
For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running away from tigers.

I think that what I'm trying to say is that I love you.

And so begins an epic, if initially unrequited, love affair between a graceful gazelle and a clumsy, hapless ox. Romance will never be the same.

My Thoughts:
Rarely does a children's picture book make me laugh out loud, but that's just what I did while reading XO, OX - A Love Story, by Adam Rex! (In addition to the wonderful text, the whimsical illustrations by Scott Campbell are delightful!)The correspondence the seemingly simple Ox has with the narcissistic Gazelle is not only hilarious, but insightful. It's a reminder that none of us is perfect - not even close. This little book is one of those rare children's books that would also work for adults - I loved it. A big thumbs up for XO,OX - A Love Story!

Click here to learn more about the author, Adam Rex.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
How Hemingway Helped Me

When I asked my personal editor (my son) to take another look at my rewritten middle grade novel, he was glad to do so. However, prior to sending it to him we had a long chat about what I needed from him. (I love our "literary chats;" it's one of the things that has strengthened our relationship.) After a long discussion about my novel, Kevin mentioned that using the "Hemingway" app might be beneficial for us.

That writer resource was unfamiliar to me, but I said, "sure." By the way, if you've not heard of it either, and would like to learn more, click here for an informative article about the app from The New Yorker.

To put it mildly "Hemingway" has really helped me! If you, too, would like to check out this writer resource, click here to download the app.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Depredation - noun
an act of attacking or plundering.
Example: The abandoned castle experienced depredation from the desperate villagers.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Fate of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen

Amazon Description:
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed...

My Thoughts:
Very few novels in a series make me record on my calendar when the sequel will be released - The Fate of the Tearling was one of them! In this thrilling conclusion to her story, we see yet another complex adventure from Erika Johansen. What I think I love best about Ms. Johansen's novels (The Queen of the Tearling & The Invasion of the Tearling were the first two in the series) is that her characters are extremely authentic, and her plot is too. She doesn't create perfect people or wrap up her stories with tidy endings. They seem real. I'm not the only one who feels this way, either. Famed actress, Emma Watson, has signed on to not only star as Kelsea, the protagonist, in the film adaptation, but as the producer as well. (Click here to learn more.) I highly recommend all three novels by Ms. Johansen to young adult readers - of all ages - who love tales of magic and adventure!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Celebrating My 6th Blogiversary!

As the years have slowly passed by on my Storyteller's Journey, one of the many things I've learned is that while nothing comes easy in a writer's life, we all still have so much to be thankful for - like friends and family.

However, there are many in our world who lack the simplest of necessities. So, this year I've chosen to mark my blog's milestone by giving to a charity that helps meet the most basic needs of children:
UNICEF. If you'd like to join me in making a donation, merely click on the link I've attached. We are all aware of the amazing work they do around the world for kids, and this year I had the children of Syria in mind. UNICEF is actively working right now to help Syrian refugees.

Many thanks to all my friends for your support over the years!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Stolid - adj.
calm, dependable, and showing little emotion or animation.
Example: The student took stolid steps as he walked forward to receive his diploma.