Friday, March 16, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

It's Time for a Break!

With the spring season just around the corner, I've decided to take a break from Writ of Whimsy for a couple of weeks. (We'll be heading to Cincinnati, Ohio for a working vacation!)
Click here to view my recent quarterly newsletter.
Wishing you a great Spring Break!

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hobbledehoy (n.)
an awkward teenager; one who is perpetually ungainly and uncertain.
Example: While the high school student was a hobbledehoy, he was also a wizard with words.
Happy Pi Day!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Silent Days, Silent Dreams
by Allen Say

Amazon Description:
James Castle was born two months premature on September 25, 1899, on a farm in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was deaf, mute, autistic and probably dyslexic. He didn't walk until he was four; he would never learn to speak, write, read or use sign language.

Yet, today Castle's artwork hangs in major museums throughout the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened "James Castle: A Retrospective in 2008." The 2013 Venice Biennale included eleven works by Castle in the feature exhibition "The Encyclopedic Palace." And his reputation continues to grow.

Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say, author of the acclaimed memoir Drawing from Memory, takes readers through an imagined look at Castle's childhood, allows them to experience his emergence as an artist despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced, and ultimately reveals the triumphs that he would go on to achieve.

My Thoughts:
Since my husband is an artist, an oil painter, I always enjoy children's books about art. Silent Days, Silent Dreams is one of my very favorites. Learning about not only the creativity of an artist, but their life, is something I truly value. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I was surprised to discover that I'd never heard of James Castle - what an amazing and talented man. The illustrations by Mr. Say are stunning, and truly honor the life of the unique artist. I highly recommend Silent Days, Silent Dreams to readers of all ages, and also to those who love art!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Allen Say.
Click here to learn more about the artist, James Castle.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

It's a Book Giveaway!

In anticipation of kids being in the "Great Outdoors" this summer, I'm featuring a book giveaway of my middle grade fantasy novel:
The Tale of Willaby Creek.
To enter simply leave a comment below on this blog; tweet this post; or leave a comment here on my Facebook Author Page.
I'll be giving away three signed copies of the book with matching bookmarks. The winners will be announced on Friday, June 1st!

Here's the flap copy description of my novel:

A magical tale of amazing sacrifice...
When a violent windstorm strikes an enchanted rain forest many of the woodland creatures of Willaby Creek are stranded, injured, or lost forever to the frenzied force of the tempest. Basil, a black bear full of doubt and fear, becomes the unlikely leader to head the woodland creatures' rescue. He is joined by Daphne, a spunky blue dryad; Oliver, a wise horned owl; Elbert, a noble elk; and a host of other creatures that inhabit the enchanted rain forest.

Dangerous twists and turns in this animal adventure fantasy cause Basil to discover a courage, and a conviction, he never knew he had. The answers to the ancient mysteries in this magical tale emerge in an extraordinary finale under the tall timbers of the hidden hinterland.
Good luck!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dysania (n.)
the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
Example: The daily ring of the alarm clock did little to alleviate the young man's dysania.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Vincent and Theo
The Van Gogh Brothers
by Deborah Heiligman

Flap Copy Description:
The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers.

My Thoughts:
It's extremely difficult to give an objective review for this book since I love it so much! I'll just say that it would speak to readers of so many backgrounds. Here is a list of subjects dealt with within this award-winning tale:

1- Art, obviously! 
2- Mental illness
3- Spiritual journey
4- Battling health issues
5- Family bonds
6- The importance of perseverance
7- Living life with a passion

However, to list those topics is to totally miss the beauty of this book. Deborah Heiligman painstakingly read hundreds of letters written by Vincent Van Gogh during her research. The depth of her character development and dialogue takes the reader back in time - to the very lives of Vincent and Theo. I was in tears. I'll never view a painting by Van Gogh in the same way - and I've seen a few originals. (I hope to see several more during my lifetime.) I highly recommend Vincent and Theo to readers who have a connection to any of the subjects listed above. (Isn't that everyone?) This extraordinary book is a must-read!

Click here to learn about the author, Deborah Heiligman.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Kidlit Goes to the Oscars!

Like most movie fans around the world, I always anticipate the arrival of the Academy Awards - especially those given to films based on books for children and young adults!

There are many categories that feature films based on books; here are a few that were nominated for the award for Best Feature Animation
Based on the book by Robert Lawson

Based on the book by Deborah Ellis

Based on the book by Marla Frazee

Allow your imagination to walk the red carpet this Sunday night!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Mary's Monster
Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein
by Lita Judge

Flap Copy Description:
A young adult biography of Frankenstein's profound young author, Mary Shelley, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of its publication, told through free verse and 300+ full-bleed illustrations.

Mary Shelley first began penning Frankenstein as part of a dare to write a ghost story, but the seeds of that story were planted long before that night. Mary, just nineteen years old at the time, had been living on her own for three years and had already lost a baby days after birth. She was deeply in love with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a mad man who both enthralled and terrified her, and her relationship with him was rife with scandal and ridicule. But rather than let it crush her, Mary fueled her grief, pain, and passion into a book that the world has still not forgotten 200 years later.

Dark, intense, and beautiful, this free-verse novel with over 300 pages of gorgeous black-and-white watercolor illustrations is a unique and unforgettable depiction of one of the greatest authors of all time.

My Thoughts:
Ms. Judge has created a dark and painful vision of author Mary Shelley in the recently released Mary's Monster. Readers of young adult novels will be swept up by the art and language in this beautiful book; it is surprisingly relevant in today's turbulent times. This intense and heartbreaking story is a testament to the strength and perseverance of the iconic author's life. I highly recommend Mary's Monster to readers aged twelve and up.

Click here to learn about the amazing author, Lita Judge.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Quote by author/scholar Okakura Kakuzo
A Whisper of Spring

Every year, about this time, most denizens of the Pacific Northwest get a bit tired of the dreary weather. Last week we had a few sunny days, so I ventured out to my soggy backyard.

It's always a pleasant surprise to see a new sprout from a perennial plant - like a whisper of spring to come.
As I deadheaded a few blossoms I'd missed last fall, it occurred to me that new life is better able to blossom after the old life has fallen away. Are there old beliefs, habits, or grievances that are holding back new life in my creativity?
I thought of a few and vowed to myself to work on letting go of those this year.

As I wandered across the yard to a flower box I was surprised to see a tiny alyssum blossom. While we've had a mild winter (until just recently), the delicate flower usually doesn't bloom until May! 

It occurred to me again the multitude of  metaphors we use that are derived from nature - like early, or late, bloomer. Here's a great quote:

Hope you're having a wonderful winter, with even a whisper of spring!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Apricity (n.)
the warmth of the sun in winter.
Example: Any apricity on the mountain slopes was appreciated by the skiers.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The Librarian of Auschwitz
by Antonio Iturbe

Flap Copy Description:
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz.

My Thoughts:
This recently released novel was written by Antonio Iturbe and translated by Lilit Thwaites. It is not only a well-written historical fiction, but a must-read for those interested in the Holocaust. The poignant plot and detailed character development draw you in to this riveting story. I found myself thinking of Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel as I learned about the life of Dita Kraus in The Librarian of Auschwitz. I highly recommend this YA novel to readers aged twelve and up.

Click here to learn about the author Antonio Iturbe.
Click here to read an article about Holocaust survivor, Dita Kraus.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

A Creative Collaboration!

Since I recently completed a revision of our next book, it was time to begin the arduous task of creating the illustrations. (I'm the designer of the art, while Michael is the talented oil painter!)

Once we had finalized the still life arrangement, Michael began the first of twenty oil paintings necessary to complete our next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale - The Whim of Winter.

Here is the almost-complete painting. (Michael just informed me he wants to work on the wool tartan scarf.) We need to complete two illustrations a month to be on schedule to begin formatting next January!

From time to time throughout this year I'll post an update on the progress of our collaboration for The Whim of Winter!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ardor (n.)
enthusiasm or passion.
Example: The couple's trip to Paris only enhanced the ardor on their anniversary.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Matt de la Peña ~ illustrated by Loren Long

Flap Copy Description:
"In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.
A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life."

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that's soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

My Thoughts:
Love is a powerful picture book revealing the different faces, and places, where a child might find love. The diversity depicted by Loren Long's beautiful illustrations, as well as the text, is a refreshing message to add to the current discussion in the world of children's books. Matt de la Peña, once again, reveals his passionate heart through his extraordinary storytelling style. I highly recommend Love to readers of all ages!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

A Few Words About Love

At this time of year (at least in the States) our hearts and minds turn toward love, especially on Valentine's Day. However, due to the current state of our country with its unrest and divisiveness, it's a good time to remind ourselves about the need for not only love, but kindness.

No matter what your perspective during these turbulent times, most people would at least agree that we all need to be a bit kinder to one another. We also need to stand up for what is right. Sometimes being loving and kind seems to be at odds with raising our voices for justice. So what's a person to do? I've tussled with this dilemma myself; I believe it's a very personal issue that we each must resolve in our own way. Not every one will march. Not every one will pen their opinions. Not every one will run for office. However, we can each do something that suits our passion & personality. If nothing else, we can each choose to be kinder to the people we come in contact with each day.

As writers of books for children and young adults, it's important that we pen words that not only inspire, inform, and entertain, but that we create stories that encourage and empower our young readers as well.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Faodail (n.)
a lucky find.
Example: The family photograph was a faodail for the woman since it had been lost for years.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh
by Kathryn Aalto

Flap Copy Description:
Delve into the home of the world’s most beloved bear! The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh explores the magical landscapes where Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends live and play. The Hundred Acre Wood—the setting for Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures—was inspired by Ashdown Forest, a wildlife haven that spans more than 6,000 acres in southeast England. In the pages of this enchanting book you can visit the ancient black walnut tree on the edge of the forest that became Pooh’s house, go deep into the pine trees to find Poohsticks Bridge, and climb up to the top of the enchanted Galleons Lap, where Pooh says goodbye to Christopher Robin. You will discover how Milne's childhood connection with nature and his role as a father influenced his famous stories, and how his close collaboration with illustrator E. H. Shepard brought those stories to life. This charming book also serves as a guide to the plants, animals, and places of the remarkable Ashdown Forest, whether you are visiting in person or from the comfort of your favorite armchair. In a delightful narrative, enriched with Shepard’s original illustrations, hundreds of color photographs, and Milne’s own words, you will rediscover your favorite characters and the magical place they called home.

My Thoughts:
This book by Kathryn Aalto is both informative and inspiring! If you're a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh, and/or the English countryside, it's a must-read. Since I'm an author who is inspired by settings to write my own stories, seeing the surroundings that inspired A.A. Milne was amazing. When I learned that the author, who now lives in Great Britain, lived and worked in Washington State for many years (my home state), I had one of those moments where you really wish you could meet the author. Needless to say, I highly recommend this beautiful & collectible book to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Kathryn Aalto.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Celebrating My 7th Blogiversary!

When I launched this blog the first Friday of February 2011 I had no idea it would still be up and running seven years later - but I am so thankful and happy it is! I've posted numerous writerly tips over the years that I hope have been helpful. Writ of Whimsy has also been my weekly journal, a great platform for my work, and a place where I've met online friends.

Thanks so much to those extraordinary writers who have supported me with their friendship and comments! Wishing each of you all the best!

In honor of my blogiversary I've donated to Reading Is Fundamental.
(RIF is a wonderful organization - click on the link to learn more!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Coruscation (n.)
a brilliant flash of wit.
Example: The stand-up comic was seemingly blessed with a coruscation, constantly.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos
by Monica Brown
Illustrated by John Parra

Flap Copy Description:
The fascinating Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her dramatic self-portrait paintings featuring bold and vibrant colors. Her artwork brought attention to Mexican and indigenous culture with images renowned in celebrating the female form.
Brown's story recounts Frida's beloved pets—two monkeys, a parrot, three dogs, two turkeys, an eagle, a black cat, and a fawn—and playfully considers how Frida embodied the many wonderful characteristics of each animal.

My Thoughts:
There is so much to love about this beautiful picture book honoring the iconic artist, Frida Kahlo! The whimsical art, done in colors reminiscent of Ms. Kahlo's own paintings, perfectly illustrates the story of her extraordinary life. One element I particularly liked was the way the author featured Kahlo's irrepressible spirit when dealing with her health challenges - something sure to inspire children. I highly recommend Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos to children aged four to seven!

Click here to learn about the author, Monica Brown.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, John Parra.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Image Credit: Public Domain
Tax Time...a Taxing Time!

With January 31st looming as the deadline, last Saturday my husband and I sat down and calculated our business/excise taxes - it took us four hours! (While we have an accountant who processes our personal taxes, our creative business is still small enough that we can handle our state taxes.) Still, every new year we dread the day that we always set aside to sit down and do this unpleasant task.

Over the last four years that I've had a business license, I've learned - little by little - a few small techniques to ease the pain of calculating my taxes. While each state has its own requirements for the information they request from writers, artists, and musicians, the process that all creatives go through at tax time surely must be much the same.

As a writer, these are the ideas I implement to prepare for tax time:

1- Record receipts and payments with each transaction in a book. (Place miscellaneous receipts in an envelope and tuck it in the book's pocket.)

2- Keep all receipts for each book event in a labeled envelope.

3- Keep receipts for each workshop, retreat, etc. in a manila envelope.

Take all of the above envelopes and place them in a labeled folder.

Place the ledger book with the folder & keep it in a drawer of your desk or a file cabinet. Repeat this process each year as the months go by.

These steps better prepare you to pay your taxes as a writer.
Wishing each of you all the best at this taxing time!

NOTE: I am not an accountant or a financial adviser. These are merely simple steps that help me. If you have questions about paying your own taxes you should seek professional advice.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ballycumber (n.)
one of the many books lying near your bed.
Example: The ballycumber of books was stacked like a tower near the writer's bed. (Yikes! That's me.)

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Sarabella's Thinking Cap
by Judy Schachner

Amazon Description:
From the bestselling creator of Skippyjon Jones, a heartwarming story about the importance of imagination and creativity.
Sarabella is always thinking--conjuring, daydreaming, and creating new worlds from her imagination. There is so much going on in her head that it can barely be contained. But there are times when daydreaming is decidedly not a good thing--like when you're supposed to be doing multiplication tables. Luckily, Sarabella has an understanding teacher and with his encouragement She comes up with her own idea to show everyone who she is.

My Thoughts:
Loved, loved, loved this latest picture book by Judy Schachner! What an encouragement to children, who, like Sarabella, find spending time in their daydreams far superior to spending time in the classroom. In the end, Sarabella discovers a way to do both! I highly recommend Sarabella's Thinking Cap to readers aged four to seven! 

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Judy Schachner.
(I was so lucky to briefly chat with Ms. Schachner - what a lovely lady.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

By Frances Trego Montgomery - 1903
Vintage Children's Books

I'm not sure when it started, or why, but I'm obsessed with vintage children's books. You might say, "Duh! You write stories for kids!" Well, I was bitten by the bug for these books long before I began to write my own children's books.

The book pictured above, is one in a series of books about a mischievous and short-tempered goat, named Billy Whiskers. It's on record that as a child, JFK couldn't get enough of these books. The prolific author, Ms. Montgomery, was an extraordinary lady who died on a cruise liner while on an around-the-world tour. She had planned to write a book about her travels, but died quite unexpectedly.

As with most vintage children's books, it is the colorful and captivating illustrations that catches the collector's eye right away; Billy Whiskers Kids is no different. I was delighted to have received it for Christmas!

Last month I also received this trio of tiny books, for my birthday, from my dear daughter-in-law, Jessica. (Does she know me, or what?)

From left to right: The Happy Prince, by Oscar Wilde; Fifty Best Poems of England; and The Gold Bug, by Edgar Allan Poe

While only The Happy Prince is what you'd call a children's book, it is the unique size of each leather-bound book (2" X 3"), published in the 1920's, that makes the set so special.

One past time that I thoroughly enjoy is wandering through vintage bookstores seeking for yet another treasure to add to my collection. This past month, I was truly blessed with the above books.

The reason I felt led to blog about this subject is due to the fact that I find perusing through these vintage books inspirational, as well as informative. As authors, it is imperative that we educate ourselves to the history of children's books. While some of the subjects featured in decades past may seem surprising, they actually reflect the norms of society at the time. It behooves us, to be relevant - to reflect the state of our world.When you learn how the subjects featured in books for kids has evolved over the last century, you quickly realize that the positive changes the Kidlit industry is currently going through also reflect the changes our world is going through.

I ask myself frequently, "Am I relevant as a writer?" The truth is, I know I can do better. How about you? Are you relevant in your writing?

Then there are those classic books that stand the test of time:

Heidi is the first novel I ever read - it holds a special place in my heart!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hamartia (n.)
the tragic flaw that leads to the downfall of a hero or heroine.
Example: The famous politician's hamartia was his penchant for pretty girls.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The War I Finally Won
By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Flap Copy Description:
When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?

World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton—along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

My Thoughts:
This companion book, The War I Finally Won is just as captivating, as the Newbery Honor Book, The War That Saved My Life. One of the elements I most appreciate in Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's books is the authenticity of the settings - it's obvious she does her research. Additionally, the character development and voice are wonderful. I highly recommend this middle grade novel to readers of all ages!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Redeeming the Time

When I began writing full time, ten years ago, I realized quite quickly the importance of managing my time. I set up a schedule of writing, blogging, social networking, reading, etc. I knew that to be an author would take more than just "putting pen to paper." In addition to that, since writing is a solitary activity, it was important that I keep disciplined & busy - the way I had for so many years in my healthcare profession.

In the last three years (since having my books published) my time has become even more scheduled. No one tells you that once you're a published author additional demands will be placed upon you. Some of these necessary activities further your career as an author, while others, even though well-meaning, merely serve to steal your time.

How can we, as full-time authors, make the most of our time?

This might sound a bit bizarre, but for me, listening to my intuition is key. The further I go along my journey, the more I realize that every writer's path to publication is unique. Attend any SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) workshop, retreat, or conference, and you will be sure to hear all sorts of amazing accounts from talented authors as to how they finally received representation from a literary agent, or had their book published independently.

Some wait twenty years before landing a book deal.
Some are published soon after completing their manuscript.
Some get published traditionally; some independently.
Some have a degree that pertains to their writing; some do not.
Some have known their entire lives they want to be an author.
Some, like me, found their calling after years in a previous profession.

My point is, there is no one road map along the path to publication. Consequently, the choices we make each day might seem strange to another writer. That's why I rely so much on my intuition. I learned many years ago, the hard way, that not to trust my gut was unwise.

And, whether you write in the morning, or write in the afternoon, or write in the middle of the night, stay on a schedule. Then, once you're published, make sure you're strong enough to say "no" when you must.
Guarding your creative time - and the time with your family & friends - is the only way to be happy, productive, and successful as an author.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Bibliosmia (n.)
the smell of a book.
Example: Bibliosmia wafted from the library's bookshelves up to its beams.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by John Lennon
Illustrated by Jean Jullien

Flap Copy Description:
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

Join one little pigeon as she sets out on a journey to spread a message of tolerance around the world. Featuring the lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song and illustrations by the award-winning artist Jean Jullien, this poignant and timely picture book dares to imagine a world at peace. Imagine will be published in partnership with human rights organization, Amnesty International.

My Thoughts:
What better way to kick off 2018 than by featuring the powerful picture book, Imagine. While John Lennon wrote his immortal lyrics over three decades ago, the message is one that is timeless, & deeply resonates today. I highly recommend Imagine to readers aged four to seven!

Enjoy Imagine, as performed by the legendary John Lennon.

Click here if you'd like to make a donation to Amnesty International.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Life Goes On

The grief and pain I felt when my sister passed away a year ago, was a sadness I'd not felt for a long, long time. Unfortunately, last month I experienced that same pain when my father passed away the day before my birthday. What I've come to realize is that it's important to embrace that intense pain as a part of life. For a person of faith, believing you'll see your loved one again does bring a bit of solace. Because whether I'm ready to proceed or not, life goes on.

Recently, I had the epiphany that grief can be a gift. Yes, a gift. Never before in my life have I valued each new day the way I do now. Or valued my family and friends in the way I do now. I acted like there would always be a tomorrow; like my loved ones would always be there; that life as I know it would endure. It's an easy trap to fall into, and one that each of us must battle.

This insight naturally pertains to my life as a writer, as well. Last week, while on a working vacation in the Columbia River Gorge, I was barely able to type as fast as my story's scenes appeared in my mind. (No wonder: A father and his young daughter are the main characters in my work in progress.) I am so thankful that the very last time I spoke with my father, on 12/7/17, I was able to tell him a bit about my book. I also informed him that it would be dedicated to him, and my mother. It was the last time I would ever see my father smile.

While I only recently realized that grief can be a gift, other authors - more enlightened than myself - have known it, and embraced it for a long time:

So, while I've never been a proponent of making New Year's resolutions, I have added an item to my list of goals for 2018:

Live each day, and love each, like it will be my last.

Happy New Year!