Friday, September 21, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

International Day of Peace

Each year on September 21st, the holiday dedicated to world peace is observed. Click here to learn more.

As writers of children's books we are constantly admonished to include themes in our stories that resonate with young readers. I've been working on a fantasy series for years in which the overarching theme is peace. I believe that the only way we can possibly attain a measure of peace in our world is to find peace in our individual lives. Thus, my MG character Livvi Biddle (whose first name means peace), must discover how to make peace with her own set of circumstances and in so doing, ultimately makes an impact on the world, ushering in an era of peace.

At this time in history where we find ourselves in what seems like constant chaos, it's more important than ever to work at finding peace in our own lives, and in our relationships. Happy World Peace Day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Insuperable - (adj.)
(of a difficulty or obstacle) impossible to overcome.
Example: The babysitter found the task of keeping the children under control insuperable.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Ocean Meets Sky
The Fan Brothers

Flap Copy Description:
It’s a good day for sailing.Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float.

Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!

And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

My Thoughts:
A stunningly beautiful picture book by the Fan Brothers. The magical Ocean Meets Sky will inspire little ones to dream and imagine. A delightful wonder to add to your child's library; it's now in mine!

Click here to learn more about the talented Fan Brothers.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Columbia River Gorge from Hood River, Oregon
What a Summer!

The last three months for me included: A writer retreat; a book signing event; a backyard write-out; and hours in my creative studio working on my current project!

(The photo above is from a weekend trip I took with my husband, Michael.)

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Hope you have a fantastic fall season, full of writing and reading!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hegemony (n.)
leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.
Example: The king was known for his malevolent hegemony over the simple subjects of his empire.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Almost Autumn
by Marianne Kaurin

Flap Copy Description:
As Autumn approaches Ilse Stern is thinking about her infatuation with Hermann Rod, and whether his determination to be a painter will interfere with their romance -- but the reality of being Jewish in occupied Oslo is about to turn her whole world upside down, as the deportation of Norwegian Jews begins. 

My Thoughts:
This evocative young adult novel offers a riveting story set in Norway during World War II. It's a unique tale of historical fiction about the Holocaust; one of shadows and secrets, love and loss. The lyrical prose and character development by Ms. Kaurin are exquisite. I highly recommend Almost Autumn for readers aged twelve and up!

Click here to learn more about the author, Marianne Kaurin.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

It's Time for Summer Vacation!

Like most of you, I'm excited to spend some time outside in the sunshine this summer. So, I'll be taking my annual summer break from blogging. I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy in September. Have a sensational summer season!

Click here to view my recent quarterly newsletter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Fernweh - (n.)
a longing to travel, missing a place you've never been.
Example: The writer's sense of ferweh caused her to spend the summer months traveling to remote locations.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Blexbolex

Goodreads Description:
Time moves slowly on vacation. And for someone who has spent a long time entertaining themselves and has had the garden, the kitchen, forest paths, the lake, and even Grandpa all to herself, it can be hard to invite another in on the fun. So when a young girl’s grandfather brings an elephant home to stay, she is not pleased at all. Nostalgic and often dreamlike, this wordless story is about interrupted solitude, learning to be together with another, and how the choices we make deeply affect our lives.

My Thoughts:
The art and simple messages in this extraordinarily beautiful book took me back to those carefree days of my childhood. This story needs no words to convey the joy of a young girl on her vacation. The need for a child to embrace her imagination while reading this work of art is what I love most about it. And, if your child loved Babar, then Vacation will surely resonate in her young heart since an elephant is a featured character. I highly recommend Vacation to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the multi-talented artist, Blexbolex.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

My Annual Summer Reading List!
Once again it's time to feature my favorite novels for children that I've read since last autumn. Merely click on the title to read my review. Enjoy!

These ten fantastic books are listed in random order:

Beyond the Bright Sea - by Lauren Wolk

Refugee - by Alan Gratz

The War I Finally Won - by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The Wonderling - by Mira Bartok

The Librarian of Auschwitz - by Antonio Iturbe

The Whiz Mob - by Colin Meloy

Hello, Universe - by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Lifters - by Dave Eggers

Bronze and Sunflower - by Cao Wenxuan

Nevermoor ~ The Trials of Morrigan Crow - by Jessica Townsend

Grab one of these great novels and a glass of cold lemonade. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whelve (v.)
to bury something deep; to hide.
Example: The warrior troll decided to whelve his treasure for safekeeping. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The Wonderful Things You Will Be
by Emily Winfield Martin

Flap Copy Description:

Caring, bold, and clever.
What will you grow up to be?

This book is a celebration of possibilities and the love parents feel for their children...whoever and whatever they may become.

My Thoughts:
 I loved The Wonderful Things You Will Be. This picture book brought to mind some of the books I read to my three sons (who are all now adults) when they were little boys! The rhythmic rhymes and beautiful illustrations in Emily Winfield Martin's book convey the loving message that every child is loved...and special. I highly recommend it to children aged three to seven! (It would also make a great baby shower gift!)

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator Emily Winfield Martin.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Cover art by Michael Lindstrom
The Book Giveaway Winners!

Last March I posted a Book Giveaway Contest featuring my book The Tale of Willaby Creek. Here's the list of the lucky winners:

* Marcie Mallory
* Za Vue
* Tim Young

I'll be sending a signed copy of my middle grade novel with a matching bookmark to each of these winners.
Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who participated!

Be sure to check out my blog next Friday, June 8th; my annual Summer Reading List will be posted here on Writ of Whimsy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Faileas (n.)
Example: The hiker savored the faileas of the towering trees in the tranquil lake.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The World Is Round
by Gertrude Stein
Illustrated by Clement Hurd

Flap Copy Description:
Written in her unique prose style, Gertrude Stein's The World Is Round chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Rose—a whimsical tale that delights in wordplay and sound while exploring the ideas of personal identity and individuality. This stunning volume replicates the original 1939 edition to a T, including all of Clement Hurd's original blue-and-white art printed on the rose-pink paper that Stein insisted upon. Also featured here are two essays that provide an inside view to the making of the book. The first, a foreword by Clement Hurd's son, author and illustrator Thacher Hurd, includes previously unpublished photographs and sheds light on a creative family life in Vermont, where his father and mother, author Edith Thacher Hurd, often collaborated on children's books. The second essay, an afterword by Edith Thacher Hurd, takes readers behind the scenes of the making of The World Is Round, including the numerous letters exchanged between Hurd and Stein as well as images of Stein with the real-life Rose and her white poodle, Love.

My Thoughts:
While Gertrude Stein's book, The World Is Round, is categorized as a children's book, it's just as much for adults as for young readers - maybe even more. Ms. Stein's deep insights regarding identity were penned nearly eighty years ago and give the reader much to ponder. I loved the 75th anniversary edition which once again featured Clement Hurd's beautiful blue artwork on pink pages - like the original edition. I highly recommend The World Is Round to readers aged ten and up!

Click here to learn about the multi-talented poet/author, Gertrude Stein.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
How Birds Inspire Me

In each of the three books I've written and had published a bird is prominently featured. In The Scandinavian Santa it was Lars, a golden eagle; in The Tale of Willaby Creek it was Oliver, a great horned owl; and in my most recent creation, Journey to Snowdonia, it was Gwendolyn, a shapeshifting European bullfinch.

So, why do birds inspire me?

Of course, one of the reasons is my lifetime dream of flying. (A desire I probably share with many people!) However, it's much more than that. The fact that birds have a sky-high view of the world is a feature that I believe gives them a quality of being wise. They see the big picture; they can make quick decisions made on the overall situation they're in.

Another reason that birds inspire me is that their ability to fly makes them seem almost magical; a feature that works quite well when writing a fantasy story for children, and why I always include them.

By the way, 2018 is being celebrated as The Year of the Bird since this year marks the centennial of the landmark conservation law the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Unfortunately, billions of birds are at risk due to the United States Department of Interior recently reinterpreting the MBTA, slashing safeguards for birds. Click here to learn more.

A seagull gazes out upon the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast.

To those of you in the U.S., have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Obsequious - (adj.)
obedient or attentive to a servile degree.
Example: The tyrannical queen's castle was full of obsequious servants.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Brave Red, Smart Frog
by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason

Flap Copy Description:
There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them. Many said witches lived there -- some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites -- and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl's heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks. With empathy and an ear for emotion, Emily Jenkins retells seven fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories. Charming illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason add whimsical details that enhance every new reading.

My Thoughts:
This enchanting collection of retold fairy tales is wonderfully illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason in a whimsical style. The charming little book would be a great way to introduce classic stories to a budding reader - or used to real aloud to a child at bedtime. I highly recommend Brave Red, Smart Frog to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author, Emily Jenkins.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Rohan Daniel Eason.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Hitting the Right Note

Since I have a bit of a musical background ( I played the clarinet in school & years later, the flute), I've often thought about the similarities between a music composition and a novel. I've realized that both the composer of a concerto and the author of a novel use specific rules to compose their creations.

Are there elements I can learn from the music world to create a story that sings?

I believe so.

Here's a short list of music terms & the corresponding literary term:

Movements (three in a concerto; four in a sonata or symphony.)
Acts (three in most literary novels.)
*   *   *
Soloist (an individual instrument that is featured to play the melody line.)
Protagonist (the leading character through which the reader understands the story.)
*   *   *
Time Signature (beats per measure; one beat per particular note.)
Pace (Simply stated, how fast a story unfolds and proceeds.)
*   *   *
Practice, practice, practice!
Write, write, write!

As you can see these two art forms have some interesting similarities.
But, how does that help me hit the right note when writing my story?

As I've pondered this question I realized that when I was an active member of an orchestra I'd never have thought to disregard the rules. I knew that my ability to properly play my clarinet according to the notes, etc. on the page directly affected the success of our performance. All musical notations had to be adhered to - no exceptions.

Do I pay the same attention to the rules with regard to crafting a story?

I believe I do when it comes to the big elements of writing. But, do I pay the same attention to elements that are a bit harder to evaluate? Like dialogue, character development, the use of humor, etc. If I'm honest, I believe I can do better. This quote is simple, yet so powerful:

"It's the attention to detail that makes the difference between average and stunning."  Francis Atterbury

If this is the Golden Age of publishing (as I've read), then only the very best manuscripts will get noticed. Those that are not only well-written & heartfelt, but those to which their authors have paid attention to detail.

I need to always attempt to hit the right note as a writer, like I did as a musician. The right word, the right scene, the right chapter ending, etc.

(Recently I picked up my flute again; that's what prompted this post!)

In an outline for a future middle grade novel, the famous composer and violinist Antonio Vivaldi is featured for my story. Above is a video of his Spring Concerto from "Four Seasons." Listen and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Prevarication - (n.)
a spoken or written statement that is evasive; a lie.
Example: The politician's explanation for his misdeed was nothing but one big prevarication.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The Lifters
by Dave Eggers

Flap Copy Description:
When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly but surely sink.

When Gran's friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to underground, he knows that she is extraordinary and brave, and that he will have no choice but to follow wherever she leads. With luck on their side, and some discarded hockey sticks for good measure, Gran and Catalina might just find a way to lift their town--and the known world--out of danger.

In The Lifters, critically acclaimed author Dave Eggers establishes himself as a storyteller who can entertain and inspire readers of any age.

My Thoughts:
At first glance The Lifters looks like a light-hearted middle grade read...Wrong! This chapter book is fantastic on many levels - primarily for budding or reluctant readers. Here's a list of features that make the well-written and engaging story by Dave Eggers a winner:
*It is super funny!
*Quirky characters
*Short chapters
*Large font
*Small pencil illustrations on about half of the pages
*A map inside the flap cover (viewable when it's removed) - so cool!
*Most importantly: It's a fantastic story!

While it may seem that this book is not challenging enough for an avid reader, that's not the case. Due to the great character development, satirical humor, and puzzling plot, it's complex enough for all readers. I highly recommend The Lifters to readers aged seven to twelve.

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Dave Eggers.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Salmon River - Wildwood Recreational Area - Brightwood, OR 
Writing Retreats

The photo on the left was taken in the summer of 2014 while I was on a writing retreat with a critique partner. I'm so excited to be going back to that area in July with my critique group!

The benefits from a writing retreat, especially one that is near a natural setting, are endless. They not only inspire your creativity, they refresh and invigorate your soul. Since I always include natural settings in my stories, spending time in the out of doors is invaluable. (It's perfect when I can do it near my story's actual setting for inspiration and accuracy.) Without exception, the personal summer writing retreats I've been on have been the most productive creative time I've ever spent.

There is no shortage of spectacular places in the Northwest to plan a retreat. (We'll be in one of the lovely rental cabins available on Mt. Hood in Oregon.) However, you can plan a retreat anywhere. 

My two critique partners - Kriston & Deb - in my backyard last summer
Since summer is on the way, now is the time to plan a retreat with your writer friends. Whether it's out in the woods, in a park, or in your own backyard, the benefits are well worth the time it takes to coordinate your retreat. Best of all, you'll no doubt have a blast, like we always do.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sycophantic - (adj.)
behaving or done in an subservient way in order to gain advantage.
Example: The servant's sycophantic response to the lord of the clan, triggered laughter from the bystanders.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Nevermoor - The Trials of Morrigan Crow
by Jessica Townsend

Flap Copy Description:
A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world--but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

My Thoughts:
This entertaining novel recently crossed my path quite unexpectedly; I'm so glad it did! Jessica Townsend's Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a delicious debut. While her story brings to mind some current fantasy classics, Ms. Townsend has her own voice and style as well. I particularly enjoyed the humor of Jupiter North - the protagonist's patron. If you are a fan of fantasy don't miss this well-written and exciting middle grade novel. I highly recommend Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow to readers aged eight and up!

Click here to learn about the author, Jessica Townsend.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Writing Dual Points of View
There have been many books I've enjoyed that were written with dual points of view. So much so, that when I first imagined my middle grade novel Livvi Biddle The Secret at Stonehenge I knew I hoped to craft it in that format.

Here are a few great novels by authors who used dual points of view:

Lauren Oliver used dual points of view to perfection in Requiem - the finale of her Delirium Series. In this intriguing novel readers are treated to the perspectives of both Lena and Hana - I absolutely loved it!

*     *     *     *     *

Kimberly Derting is a Pacific Northwest author who I was lucky enough to meet several years ago. In The Body Finder Ms. Derting gives us a peek inside the head of not only the protagonist, but also the head of the antagonist. She used this format to enhance the drama and suspense. (This awesome novel was a great reference for dual POV.)

*     *     *     *     *

The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech, is one of the few middle grade novels that is written in dual points of view that I've come across. However, it was extremely successful, receiving the award of Newbery Honor Book in 2001. This epistolary novel gave me the courage to use dual points of view in my own middle grade novel. I was lucky enough to attend a rare workshop taught by Ms. Creech in 2013 - so inspiring!

Sharon Creech - NESCBWI Conference in Springfield, MA.
*     *     *     *     *

One thing I quickly realized was that if I chose to use dual points of view (which I did), I needed to make sure it served my story and was not just a format that I enjoyed reading. Not every story is meant to be written from two perspectives. Since I wanted to get into the head of not only my protagonist, but my antagonist, I felt it would make my story more complex. Lastly, I use "mini-chapters" for my antagonist. The reader learns just enough about the villain to be worried about my heroine. Since my protagonist is a strong character I've never felt like the antagonist was stealing the show.

One benefit to using dual points of view (if done well) is that there is a type of weaving of story threads that occurs. While it might seem like the two perspectives are disconnected in this format, as the story progresses, it can actually make for a more powerful novel.

Do you enjoy reading novels written with dual points of view?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Rhapsodic (adj.)
extravagantly enthusiastic; ecstatic.
Example: The poet penned rhapsodic verses celebrating the coronation of the new queen.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Bronze and Sunflower
by Cao Wenxuan

Flap Copy Description:
When Sunflower, a young city girl, moves to the countryside, she grows to love the reed marsh lands - the endlessly flowing river, the friendly buffalo with their strong backs and shiny, round heads, the sky that stretches on and on in its vastness. However, the days are long, and the little girl is lonely. Then she meets Bronze, who, unable to speak, is ostracized by the other village boys. Soon the pair are inseparable, and when Bronze's family agree to take Sunflower in, it seems that fate has brought him the sister he has always longed for. But life in Damaidi is hard, and Bronze's family can barely afford to feed themselves. Can the little city girl stay here, in this place where she has finally found happiness?

My Thoughts:
The author, Cao Wenxuan, first became known to me when I learned he had won the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2016. Then, earlier this month I read an amazing interview by Publisher's Weekly with the award-winning author (see below) and decided I just must read his middle grade novel. Bronze and Sunflower is a literary delight with complex characters who must overcome great obstacles - I loved it! The lyrical prose penned by Cao Wexuan is beautiful; it slowly weaves an epic tale between two unlikely friends - set during the Cultural Revolution of China. At 380 pages, I highly recommend Bronze and Sunflower to avid readers aged eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the extraordinary author, Cao Wenxuan.
Click here to read "Bologna 2018: A Talk with Cao Wenxuan."

Friday, April 27, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain

The Courage to be Confident

Most creative souls I've met struggle to be confident. Who would want to presume to be talented in their chosen field if they are not sure they have the abilities needed to back up that belief?

This has been a subject I've thought a lot about. However, after the difficult work of penning several stories for over a decade - and reading hundreds of children's books - I think I've finally found my own confidence. That being said, it doesn't mean my writing couldn't benefit from the experienced eye of a great agent, editor, or publisher. It just means I have the knowledge and ability to be in the game. It still takes courage every day to hold my head up as a writer.

In fact, in the last two years I've submitted my middle grade manuscript a total of two times. While I have claimed that I'm still revising my story, my critique partners have said it's time to consistently submit. (After all, my story has been rewritten three times, revised numerous times, and has been scrutinized by two independent editors.) The real reason for my hesitancy, is that the pain of rejection is something I've never been able to easily accept.

No one can. But for me, it has previously thrown me into an emotional ditch. Only recently have I arrived at a place where I know that with or without an agent I will write. There is freedom in realizing that fact. I know that I'm in the world of children's literature not for the destination, but for the journey. The writing is more important than the publishing.

That being said, today I'm sending my manuscript off to a few agents.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Philocaly - (n.)
the love of beauty.
Example: The poet was inspired by her intense philocaly.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

A Different Pond
Written by Bao Phi
Illustrated by Thi Bui

Amazon Description:
As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. A successful catch meant a fed family. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.

My Thoughts:
This beautiful picture book recently received the award as a Caldecott Honor Book; it will touch every young heart with its message of love and family. It is a window into the world of a Vietnamese American refugee family - a father and son in particular - who must make ends meet in the United States. Bao Phi's story is brilliantly understated; it allows the illustrations by Thi Bui to perfectly illuminate his lovely text. I highly recommend A Different Pond to readers aged four to seven! 

Click here to read an interview with author, Bao Phi, and the illustrator, Thi Bui. It's a fascinating discussion on why they became artists.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Strength from Nature

While recently working in my backyard, I was again reminded that Nature is one of my greatest inspirations. (I actually like to weed my flower garden!) As I nestled down in the moist earth, the sights, sounds, and smells permeated my soul. I was strengthened as the cares of my life fell away.

I heard a flock of geese flying overhead, then saw them glide through the air in perfect formation. Later, our neighborhood eagle squawked as he soared over my head and then landed lightly atop the evergreen where he's nested for over a decade. (His view of the Columbia River from that tree upon the hill must be magnificent!) My life is always refreshed and rejuvenated when I commune with the natural world.

As a writer, it is imperative that I have a clear conscience and a clear mind when penning my stories for children. Spending time amongst God's creation is not only inspirational, it cleanses my soul. My being is centered and I am better equipped to tap into my creativity. But more than that, I'm reminded of what is truly important in my life. Living each moment is easier to do when my hands are in touch with the soil of our planet. Trees, flowers, and birds have become my family, my friends. It's not surprising, then, that every story for children that I've ever written includes the flora and fauna of the settings in each of my tales.

This quote helps me during the current climate of chaos in our world:

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Trouvaille - (n.)
something lovely discovered by chance.
Example: The metal trinket was a trouvaille found in an antique shop.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Alan Gratz

Flap Copy Description:
Three different kids.
One mission in common: ESCAPE.

Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…

Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…

Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…

All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end.

My Thoughts:
Author Alan Gratz has written a must-read novel for young readers! Refugee intertwines the escape stories of three youths that have surprising similarities even though they all hail from different parts of the world. While I was reading this masterpiece penned by Mr. Gratz, all I kept thinking was that everyone - especially tweens and teens - needs to read this book. The knowledge and understanding it bestows regarding the plight of refugees - no matter what their country of origin - is something so important to the future of not only our country of the U.S., but to the entire world. When I read the conclusion to this well-written and engaging novel I wept tears of sorrow. While the three protagonists' stories are fictional, their extraordinary tales are based on true events. I highly recommend Refugee to readers of all ages. 

Mr. Gratz is generously donating a portion of his proceeds from the sale of Refugee to UNICEF to support their relief efforts with refugee children around the world. You may donate here: UNICEF

Friday, April 13, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Gift of Solitude

It's been ten years since my youngest son left home for college and subsequently settled in Brooklyn, New York. That was the same year our little dog, Robin, passed away. Since my husband still has a day job, it's been pretty quiet around here since then. At first I struggled with the change of dynamics in our home, and dealt with depression, as I mentioned a few weeks ago. However, as the months and years have passed by, I've come to appreciate the fact that I have a quiet place in which to write my stories.

In fact, I realize that I'm actually lucky! Many writers have told me they struggle with day jobs and/or the schedules of their children. Since I'm an introvert, the solitude has allowed me to read, blog, and grow as a writer. Having so much free time has enabled me to do extensive research for my manuscripts - which made my stories so much better. I've even published two of my three books, which taught me so much about the world of publishing, and marketing, books for children.

However, the biggest benefit I've realized from my solitude is the ability to reconnect with my own soul. After being a full-time health care professional for many years - and a hands-on mom of three boys - like many women, my own hobbies and desires got lost along the way. We recently joined an athletic club which has allowed me to participate in yoga and meditation again. It's added a sense of peace to my life. I've also picked up other long lost hobbies - like playing my flute.

All this started by being alone - by having the freedom and solitude in which to explore my creativity. Solitude allowed me to reinvent myself.

This process hasn't been easy. In fact, is was one of the toughest things I've ever done. Like many difficult tasks, once they're completed they often offer the most satisfaction. This journey has been worth it. Now all I have to do is keep creating stories to inspire young readers. In fact, it's time for this scribe to get back to blissful solitude!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Whimsical Word of Week

Coddiwomple (v.)
to travel purposefully toward a vague destination.
Example: The hitchhiker began to coddiwomple in a southerly direction.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

La La La
by Kate DiCamillo
and Illustrated by Jaime Kim

Amazon Description:
This nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend.
"La la la . . . la." A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds -- but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last.

My Thoughts:
When you're as gifted an author as Kate DiCamillo, you can create a masterpiece with just one word! That's just what the two-time Newbery Medalist did in La La La, along with the extraordinary illustrator Jaime Kim. This powerful picture book reminds us all to have courage enough to speak, and the faith enough to believe that someone, somewhere, will respond. I highly recommend La La La to children of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Kate DiCamillo.

I was lucky enough to hear Ms. DiCamillo in Portland, Oregon at the Alberta Rose Theatre during one of her book signing events. She's not only a talented author, she's a pretty good comedienne, as well!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Power of Books

Since the Parkland, Florida shooting, I've come across a few comments like:
"I'm not sure why people are so surprised that the students are rising up - we've been feeding them a steady diet of dystopian literature showing teens leading the charge for years. We have told teen girls they are empowered. What, you thought it was fiction? It was preparation."
Tweet by teacher, Jennifer Ansbach

The tragedy those high school students of Margory Stoneman Douglas experienced was horrific, and something no human being - anywhere - should ever endure. That being said, the response from those brave teenagers stunned the world, and is still impacting society by their March For Our Lives two weeks ago in Washington D.C. and the "NeverAgain" movement. Their courage has caused me to ponder just what I can do, as a writer. Believing that the power of books may have played a small part in the way the MSD students responded is no little thing. It's a reminder that the role we play, as children's book authors, is abundantly important. Whether you're an author of picture books, middle grade novels, or books for young adults we all need to remember that we're speaking to the generation that will carry on long after we're gone. If one child finds solace, strength, courage, or inspiration from a book I've written, it will have been worth all my toil and effort to bring my words to life. That knowledge makes my task a responsibility, realizing that books can truly impact not only the lives of young readers, but the entire world.