Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Rusticate - (v.)
to go to the country.
Example: While the woman hunkered down in her home, she wished she could rusticate, like she was accustomed to each spring.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

In a Jar
by Deborah Marcero

Goodreads Description:
Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars - ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things - like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they've seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection - and their special friendship - from afar?

My Thoughts:
This recently released picture book by Deborah Marcero is just beautiful! Its story is heartwarming and sure to inspire the imagination and curiosity of little ones everywhere. And, with a cast of rabbits, In a Jar would make a fantastic spring gift for Easter, or Passover. I highly recommend this picture book for children aged three to seven.

Click here to learn about author/illustrator Deborah Marcero.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Insights from Self-Isolation

Today marks three weeks since I've been in self isolation-sheltering at home. On March 13th I chose to begin a self-quarantine since I was feeling a cold coming on; experts were already encouraging social distancing due to Covid-19. As the days passed by, my symptoms included: coughing, difficulty breathing, tightness in my chest, etc. Needless to say, I was definitely frightened.

After listening carefully to medical experts, I realized that staying home (unless my symptoms worsened) was the best course of action for me. Besides the fact that to obtain a test was nearly impossible at that time. Thankfully, I can say that my condition improved; I'm much better now, though I have a residual cough, and little energy for physical work. (Until there's an antibody test, I can't know if I actually had Covid-19.)

Insights from my illness, and during my current self-isolation: 

1) Family - My family members stepped up big time! My husband took on all the duties that I usually handle. Things like grocery shopping, paying bills, etc., in addition to still working at his place of employment. We also agreed that we should isolate from each other, which we did. My sons (two of whom live in New York City) have reached out to me, checking up on me. Their kind concern means so much right now. (I'm also concerned for them.) My eldest son, David (who lives nearby), and his wife, Jessica, have also stayed in contact. They even tracked down a new theremometer for me after going from store to store and finding none available. Our family members have definitely grown closer together than we already were. I've been reminded of not only how much I love each of them, but how much I need each of them.

2) Gratitude - The doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel that are putting their lives on the line are incredible. I'm in awe of their sacrificial efforts to save our fellow citizens; they are the true heroes. (I'm also appreciative to those Americans who continue to work to keep our society afloat; they are also putting their health in jeopardy to do so.) When I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself, I think of those selfless heroes - a reality check. I'm reminded I have so much to be grateful for.

3) Faith - During the period of solitude, managing my fear, loneliness, and melancholy, seemed to steer me back to my faith. Years ago, I stopped attending church - for reasons I won't go into right now. That being said, I never lost my faith, and belief in prayer. Consequently, I've done more praying in the last three weeks than I've done in the past year. It has brought me a lot of comfort, peace, and inspiration.

4) Simplification - When you can't go to your hair stylist, manicurist, bookstore, or favorite eatery, you find ways to get by. You also realize that what makes your life one of substance isn't those items. It should be comprised of the precious things that we can't touch, things like: kindness, tolerance, generosity, and love. They're what really matter. Gazing upon the signs of spring, like daffodils in my flowerbeds and blossoms on the trees, has also brought me comfort. Simplification.

5) Self Care & Reflection - Early on in my illness & self-isolation, I attempted to continue doing my regular routine. Things like walking five miles a day (back & forth in my basement), writing, cleaning the house, cooking, etc. What a mistake! Not only did my condition not improve, it worsened slightly. (Until my son's girlfriend, Caity, strongly encouraged me to stay in bed.) Once I heeded that advice, I began to feel better. Allowing others to assist me has always been difficult for me to do. As I accepted help from others, I felt so much love. I know it strengthened me and helped me heal. I've always been extremely independent. However, this was a time to humble myself and to be a bit dependent. 

6) Releasing Control - In addition to accepting help from others, I was confronted with the need to let go of thinking I could control anything. Coronavirus is not something we can really control. The financial challenge we're all facing is not something we can control. Being separated from our family and friends is not something we can control. That being said, "letting go" can be a liberating exercise. As we are all attempting to "flatten the curve," it's become apparent that the best thing we can all do, in some ways, is to shelter in. Especially if you are adhering to "Stay Home - Stay Healthy" like our governor here in Washington State instructed us to do. We're all learning that what we do has significant repercussions on our families, friends, and communities.

7) Creativity - My husband and I have been able to continue working on our current collaboration - albeit, while distancing from one another. (It's the third illustrated book in our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales series.) I can already see how this crisis might affect my writing: It's definitely increased my levels of gratitude, compassion, empathy, and insight. As writers, we can only create meaningful stories if we have our own tough experiences to draw upon. May each of us create imaginative tales for young readers that offer encouragement and inspiration.

) Personal Growth - When you're isolated alone in your home you have a lot of time with your own thoughts. I realized that I could either sink into a depression (which is something I've previously battled), or I could grow. To be honest, I think that so far I'd give myself a C+. While I haven't sunk into a deep depression, I've not spent my time in the best way possible either. Yes, I've been reading and writing, but I've also allowed my mind to wander down paths of fear. Still, just being aware of the need to stay focused on positive thoughts has helped me in this difficult time. I'm finally learning to adapt to this temporary new normal in small ways. My hope is that we'll all come out of this horrible pandemic with greater amounts of patience, kindness and resilience. It might even cause some of us to bloom in ways we never imagined!

Public Domain Photo

Wishing each of you courage and strength as we battle this Coronavirus Pandemic. We'll all get through this together!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Spring is in the Air!

After what felt like an extremely long winter (especially with the Covid-19 Pandemic), it's great to see the sunshine and the flowers appear. I'm looking forward to spending time in the outdoors, as well as catching up on my reading. Consequently, I'll be taking a break from Writ of Whimsy until early April. 

During the health crisis we're all dealing with, I encourage each of you to take a walk, read a book, or explore a possible new hobby. With a little bit of effort, the required social distancing will not only keep the majority of us healthy, but will also yield a newfound inspiration. May it also promote kindness, humility, and remind us of our need for one another. Stay connected to your loved ones, but stay home if possible.

I'm self-isolating, and have been for a week, with a cold & cough. Since I reside in Washington State, I'll admit I'm a bit frightened. Sadly, three people have died in our county. Please, take this pandemic seriously!

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Wishing each of you a Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whuffle - (v.)
to make a low snuffling or blowing sound.
Example: The elderly man seemed to whuffle as he shuffled with his walker.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Imaginaries
by Emily Winfield Martin

Goodreads Description:
Emily Winfield Martin, shares her "Imaginaries": paintings from over the last ten years, captioned with one sentence.
From mermaids and giant flowers to magical robes and mysterious characters, each image is given a one-line caption - the beginning of a story, or maybe the middle - you imagine the rest. The captions are hand-written on vintage scraps of paper, envelopes, postcards and more.

My Thoughts:
Whenever a writer creates a book in a unique format, I'm always curious. Ms. Martin's latest contribution is extraordinary! Her art is whimsical; the accompanying captions are illuminating, and the book will inspire imaginative souls of all sorts. I highly recommend The Imaginaries - Little Scraps of Larger Stories to readers of all ages!

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

Friday, March 13, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Another Creative Collaboration!

While we were in Alaska in May of 2017, I spent a significant amount of time taking notes and doing research for another possible Lindstrom Wintertime Tale. Michael and I recently began working on another one of our illustrated short stories!

While I've completed the text for our tale set in the Alaskan Wilderness, Michael has been so busy that he only recently found time to begin working on the illustrations done in oil paints. This process is very time consuming, so I can't promise when our creation will be published and available.

Here is the initial sketch-in of his first painting. Every oil painter has his own way of creating a composition; this is how Michael begins. Since this illustration will also serve as the cover, we spent a lot of time discussing what would best represent our storybook. (We've yet to pin down a title.)

Here is the finished painting-illustration - I love it! Once it's photographed with a high-resolution camera, I'll send it to my talented cover designer/book formatter, Kriston. Having the book cover completed will allow me to use it for marketing while Michael completes the rest of the illustrations.

All of Michael's illustrations have a timeless, almost fairy-tale feeling to them. They work well with our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales since all of them take place decades ago. (This latest one is set in the 1920's.)

As I've mentioned on Writ of Whimsy before, I like the flexibility that working on multiple projects at once affords me. While I enjoy the freedom that publishing our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales provides, I also have a middle grade fantasy novel - Livvi Biddle - that I am submitting to agents, with the hope of being traditionally published.

As I mentioned last week, while a writer waits for a response from literary agents, she must continue to create! In fact, that's how our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales came to be. I felt like seeing any of my stories come to life was completely out of my control. However, when Michael and I embarked on creating and publishing illustrated short stories, I was able to better accept the outcome of my submissions to literary agents and keep on writing. For me, this approach works well.

Keep writing and honor your creativity!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Odious - (Adj.)
extremely unpleasant; repulsive.
Example: The university student displayed odious behavior at the fraternity party.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Girl who Speaks Bear
by Sophie Anderson

Goodreads Description:
Found abandoned in a bear cave as a baby, 12-year-old Yanka has always felt out of place in her small village. When she wakes up to find that her legs have become bear legs, she sets off into the forest to discover who she is, on a journey that takes her from icy rivers to smoldering mountains, with an ever-growing group of misfits alongside her. Interwoven with traditional stories of bears, princesses, and dragons, Yanka's journey is a gorgeously lyrical adventure from the best-selling author of The House with Chicken Legs.

My Thoughts:
The awareness of this whimsical fantasy novel for young readers came across my path on Twitter - I'm so glad it did! It features a cast of anthropomorphic animals, a shapeshifting protagonist, and a puzzling plot. My copy arrived from Great Britain, but I've learned that it was also recently released in the States. The talented storyteller, Sophie Anderson, has spun a middle grade tale not to be missed! I highly recommend The Girl who Speaks Bear to readers aged eight to twelve.

Click here to learn about the author, Sophie Anderson.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Treasure Your Time

One of the challenges I've faced on my storyteller's journey has been maintaining my momentum as a writer - especially when I've sent out submissions for one of my projects.

The process of sending out query letters to literary agents is not only nerve-wracking, it requires a lot of patience. Then, if you receive a rejection, managing your disappointment is an additional challenge.

Early on in my writing career, I was not only sidelined with a rejection, I would sometimes even doubt my desire to be a published author. This is not an uncommon sentiment among many aspiring authors.

So what's a writer to do?

While each writer must find her own way, I firmly believe you must treasure your time. Don't allow yourself to waste your time. Here are the ways I manage my time while waiting to hear back from agents:

Keep writing! Whether it be a new project, or something completely different like journaling, keep writing. It's a perfect time to "cross-train your creativity" by penning a poem or a screenplay. (Click here to read one of my recent blog posts on this very subject.)

Catch up on your reading list. All writers are aware of the unanimous advice from literary professionals that a writer must read. Pick up a new book and crack the spine!

Research a new project. I absolutely love doing research. (I could blog on that subject alone!) Most writers have several story ideas bouncing around in their brains. Take your free time, and learn more about your possible new project.

Attend a writers' conference. Learning from professionals and networking with other writers is always a great way to maintain your momentum and inspiration. While certain times of the year have fewer events available, there are always podcasts, blog posts, and articles you can catch up on. Feed your creativity!

The belief in treasuring my time (by keeping busy), has given me the chance to create several stories for children in the last twelve years:

The Scandinavian Santa - Completed & Published (Independently)
The Tale of Willaby Creek - Completed & Published (Independently)
Journey to Snowdonia - Completed & Published (Independently)

Livvi Biddle and the Sibylline Scroll - Completed - submitting
Livvi Biddle Series outlined for additional books
The Whim of Winter - Completed text; illustrations incomplete
Cloud Mountain - Completed first draft of a MG novel
Untitled MG Novel - Work in progress

(Visit Writ of Whimsy next Friday to learn about my new project!)

In addition to writing-related activities, it's important to nurture your entire being. Here are a few ideas:

Exercise, garden, connect with friends, catch up with your family, get a massage, see a new movie, take a weekend trip, and on and on.

However, remember: Your time is a treasure. Keep writing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Chanteuse - (n.)
a female singer of popular music.
Example: The chanteuse crooned old favorites from the forties. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Here in the Real World
by Sara Pennypacker

Goodreads Description:
Ware can't wait to spend summer "off in his own world" - dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for the dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called "normal" kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon he starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.

Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer - he doesn't live in the "real world" like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge.

But when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware looks to the knights' Code of Chivalry: Thou shalt do battle against unfairness wherever faced with it. Thou shalt be always the champion of the Right and Good - and vows to save the lot.

But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?

My Thoughts:
The first middle grade novel I read that was penned by Sara Pennypacker was Pax; it was extraordinary. So when I learned of her most recent book, Here in the Real World, I was anxious to read it too. I loved it! Her character and plot development are phenomenal, and I appreciated the way she included aspects of art and nature. Since the story is set during the summer months, Here in the Real World would make a fantastic summer read for kids! I highly recommend it to readers aged eight to twelve, and to fans of Kate DiCamillo's books.

Click here to learn about the author Sara Pennypacker.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

What an Exciting Event!

Last weekend I participated in an online children's book conference called Write On Con - it was wonderful. What I most enjoyed about it was my ability to attend the event from the confines of my rustic studio, while wearing my jammies and drinking a big mug of coffee!

All joking aside, for a modest fee I listened to podcasts and vlogs, read pertinent articles, and was just generally inspired. I also connected with some awesome authors, writers, and other industry professionals.

The event offered different types of registrations, so since I opted for an extended ticket, I'll be able to view the presentations I'd like to revisit, or missed, through 3/22/20. A big thumbs up to Write On Con!

I highly recommend you all participate next year!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sidereal (adj.)
something related to the stars.
Example: The ancient sidereal prophecy remarkably came to pass.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Saving the Countryside
The Story of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit
by Linda Marshall and Ilaria Urbinati

Flap Copy Description:

Growing up in London, Beatrix Potter felt the restraints of Victorian times. Girls didn't go to school and weren't expected to work. But she longed to do something important, something that truly mattered. As Beatrix spent her summers in the country and found inspiration in nature, it was through this passion that her creativity flourished.

There, she crafted The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She would eventually move to the countryside full-time, but developers sought to change the land. To save it, Beatrix used the money from the success of her books and bought acres and acres of land and farms to prevent the development of the countryside that both she and Peter Rabbit so cherished. Because of her efforts, it's been preserved just as she left it.

This beautiful picture book shines a light on Beatrix Potter's lesser-known history and her desire to do something for the greater good.

My Thoughts:
Being a Beatrix Potter fan myself, I'm always anxious to read another book focused on the amazing children's book author/illustrator. Saving the Countryside is a fantastic addition to books about the British icon! What I most like about it (besides the wonderful illustrations by Ilaria Urbinati), is the focus it places on Ms. Potter's philanthropic efforts in saving the Lake District by donating acres and acres to the National Trust of Great Britain. Readers of all ages will learn not only about Peter Rabbit, but about the generosity of his extraordinary creator.

Click here to learn about author, Linda Elovitz Marshall.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Ilaria Urbinati.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Cross-Training My Creativity

Recently, my son David and I started working on a screenplay for my first book, The Scandinavian Santa. Our purpose is to play around with the idea of bringing the book from page to stage - or film. Since David is a screenwriter I'm learning a lot!

While it's fun to dream of my book coming to life in a theatric fashion, we are well aware that this project is most likely a learning exercise for both of us. Cross-training one's creativity is always so beneficial.

David has stated it's been interesting to see the differences between a book and a screenplay - like the way a written story must paint a picture with words. Whereas, a screenplay is more like a picture book: it counts on the images (the actors' performances) to tell so much of the story.

One huge place where we connect on our creative paths, is the concept of Save the Cat! - written by Blake Snyder. That screenplay formatting has also been adapted for novelists. (Jessica Brody's Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.)
In the end it's all about story and story structure, no matter what medium you write in.
The Scandinavian Santa was inspired by Peter Swanson, my Norwegian great-grandfather - David's great-great-grandfather. In addition to David, my middle son Kevin helped in the early stages of the book by assisting with editing. My mother also added to the book by sharing her memories of her grandfather, Peter. Everything about this project has been a family affair!

Because this book has involved so many family members, it's brought us all closer together. (I even reconnected with a cousin who I'd not seen for decades soon after The Scandinavian Santa was released!) 

Do you enjoy cross-training your creativity?

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Moonbow (n.)
a nocturnal rainbow made from the light of the moon.
Example: The moonbow was an angelic sign of hope to the world.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

by Alan Gratz

Flap Copy Description:
June 6, 1944: The Nazis are terrorizing Europe, on their evil quest to conquer the world. The only way to stop them? The biggest, most top-secret endeavor ever, with the Allied nations coming together to storm German-occupied France.
Welcome D-Day.
Dee, a young US soldier, is on a boat racing toward the French coast. And Dee - along with huis brothers-in-arms - is terrified. He feels the weight of World War II on his shoulders.
But Dee is not alone. Behind enemy lines in France, a girl named Samira works as a spy, trying to sabotage the German army. Meanwhile, paratrooper James leaps from his plane to join a daring midnight raid. And in the thick of battle, Henry, a medic, searches for lives to save.
In a breathtaking race against time, they all must fight to complete their high-stakes missions. But with betrayals and deadly risks at every turn, can the Allies do what it takes to win?

My Thoughts:
Alan Gratz has woven several intriguing stories into one fast-paced saga in his most recent release, Allies. Character and plot development are hallmarks in his style, and his in-depth research always makes his tales so believable. Mr. Gratz has a long list of award-winning books for young readers; Allies is definitely another success to add to his list. I highly recommend this book to readers aged ten and up, as well as to World War II fans of all ages!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Alan Gratz.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

A Loving Reminder

While Valentine's Day is typically thought of as a day for romance, it's worth remembering that what our world really needs right now is the sort of love that is exemplified by kindness, compassion, and tolerance.

As writers and illustrators of children's books, it's even more important for us to keep those rare qualities of our better nature in mind. After all, our young readers are looking to the adults in their lives as role models. Unfortunately, right now, what they see is a polarized world full of bickering, bullying, and selfishness. This unbecoming behavior can be found in every religion and political party, despite the fact that children look to those exact communities for guidance. It's frightening.

Children's books have long been a haven and a refuge for kids who find themselves in situations that are challenging. It seems that living in the world we do, every child would benefit from reading a story where they see kindness, compassion, and courage; wonderful tales set in all sorts of settings, and with a diverse cast of characters. We need to provide all the children of our world with a refuge, now more than ever.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Grimoire - (n.)
a book of magic spells and incantations.
Example: The evil goblin sat beside a bonfire reading his grimoire.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Evil Princess vs. 
The Brave Knight
by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Flap Copy Description:
SHE casts terrible spells. HE fights dragons. SHE is always making trouble. HE is always rescuing people. SHE is the Evil Princess. HE is the Brave Knight. TOGETHER they are... Well, they are a brother and sister who really need t learn to get along. I mean, seriously.

My Thoughts:
What pair would be better-suited to pen a humorous tale about sibling rivalry than sister and brother, Jennifer & Matthew Holm? Their text and illustrations are witty and wonderful. If you are a parent who has your own princess and knight (who are constantly battling), The Evil Princess vs. The Brave Knight would be a great book to try!

Click here to learn about Jennifer Holm.
Click here to learn about Matthew Holm.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Kidlit at the 2020 Academy Awards

Each year, I'm curious as to which Oscar nominees have a connection to books/comic books for children or young adults. Those 2020 nominees with such a connection (according to my research) are listed below. (From those movies, I've only seen Little Women so far - I absolutely loved it!)

Little Women received six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture; Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score & Best Costume Design.

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World was nominated for one Academy Award: Best Animated Feature Film.

Avengers: Endgame was nominated for Best Visual Effects.

Hair Love was nominated for Best Animated Short Film. 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil received a nomination for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. (Connection to the Grimms' Fairy Tale "Snow White.")

Frozen II received one Oscar nomination: Best Original Song. (Connection to "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.)

Joker received an incredible eleven Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, & Best Costume Design. (This film is not suitable for children since it's a psychological thriller.)

Congratulations to all these Oscar-nominated films from 2019, and for their amazing homage to children's literature!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Kaput - (adj.)
broken and useless. No longer working or effective.
Example: Unfortunately, the power of the presidency had gone kaput.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Women in Art
50 Fearless Creatives Who Inspired the World
by Rachel Ignotofsky

Amazon Description:
A charmingly illustrated and inspiring book, Women in Art highlights the achievements and stories of 50 notable women in the arts - from well-known figures like painters Frida Kahlo and Georgia O'Keefe, to lesser-known names like 19th-century African American quilter Harriet Powers and  Hopi-Tewa ceramic artist Nampeyo. Covering a wide array of artistic mediums, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about artistic movements throughout history, statistics about women's representation in museums, and notable works by women. Women in Art celebrates the success of the bold female creators who inspired the world and paved the way for the next generation of artists.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely love Women in Art! The women featured in this book range from those with famous names to those with names that were totally unfamiliar to me. It was a joy to learn about all the talented artists - both past and present. Additionally, the enchanting illustrations seemed to bring the inspiring women alive. In today's world I feel this book is a must-read for not only children, but for anyone who supports the arts. It is also a lovely reminder of the diversity that has always been present in female creative circles - it just hasn't been told. I highly recommend Women in Art to readers aged eight & up. Bravo, Rachel Ignotofsky!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Rachel Ignotofsky.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Celebrating My Ninth Blogiversary!

This coming Monday will mark my ninth Blogiversary; how has that much time elapsed? Through good times and bad, Writ of Whimsy has recorded my journey - and I hope, has offered a few helpful tidbits along the way.

Many thanks to all those bloggers, writers, & authors who have supported me over the years. Wishing you all the best in 2020!

In honor of my Blogiversary, I've donated to Reading Is Fundamental.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Quandary (n.)
a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.
Example: The politician was in a quandary over what decision to make.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Home in the Woods
by Eliza Wheeler

Flap Copy Description:
A small tar-paper shack deep in the woods doesn't look like much of a home to six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom, but it is all they have.
Starting over in this new place feels like a struggle at first, but each season in the woods reveals marvelous delights and blessings. The children find ways to work together and make it fun. As the days pass, they and their surroundings are transformed, and Marvel's family discovers that good things do indeed take root when nurtured and given time to grow.

My Thoughts:
There's always an added magical element when a story is based on true events; Home in the Woods is based on the childhood of the author's own grandmother. It's a beautiful book of family, fortitude, and finding unexpected treasures. Set during the Great Depression, this recently released picture book reveals its story season by season as the fatherless family finds a way to not only survive, but thrive. I highly recommend Home in the Woods to children aged four to seven!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Eliza Wheeler.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

My Main Writer's Goal for 2020

"The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun." Benedict Cumberbatch

That's my main writer's goal for 2020: to step out of my comfort zone.

If you're a writer you might be thinking, I'm always outside of my comfort zone. Being a writer is not an easy path to tread. Obviously, you'd be correct. We are all on a long lonely road; hopefully the journey is exciting. What I'm referring to is changing the way I've approached my career. It's time to make choices that previously I've avoided.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.   Anonymous

Next month will mark the twelfth year since I began writing full time. In that time I've had so many extraordinary experiences - some positive and some negative. However, they have all provided me with much needed knowledge and wisdom. That being said, early on, like most writers, I received numerous rejections. Thereafter I discovered a crazy way to minimize the pain:

Submit my manuscript only on rare occasions, and with a ridiculous hope, expect agent representation to come my way. Seriously, that's what I've done for several years now. According to my records I've only queried twelve agents in the last eight years. Confessing that fact here on my blog is one of the ways I'm leaving my comfort zone this year.

I'm well aware of the familiar advice to query several times a month. I just couldn't take the pain. However, since self-publishing my books I've received so much positive feedback, that I believe I'm finally ready to jump back in the fire and begin submitting my MG novel on a monthly basis. That doesn't mean I won't be bothered by rejections; it means that I'm now confident enough to receive rejection and not take it personally. It turns out that publishing my own books was beneficial to my growth as an author. I love the control I have over our series of Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. However, I've always felt I'd like to be a "hybrid author," and it's now time to move forward with my MG novel.

It's time to step out of my comfort zone and begin querying again.

Are there ways you can grow this year by leaving your comfort zone?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Spelunking (n.)
the hobby of exploring caves.
Example: The college student spent his summer spelunking in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum
by Dr. Seuss and Andrew Joyner

Flap Copy Description:
Your tour guide will show you how different artists SEE horses and how those different visions create unique ART. With reproductions of over thirty pieces of artwork, this is an exhibit you won't want to miss! 

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is based on a manuscript and sketches by the beloved Dr. Seuss (aka Ted Geisel). Illustrator Andrew Joyner studied the sketches and created illustrations that pay homage to Seuss's line, characters, and artistic energy, while being uniquely his own. Also included are endnotes on the artists and artworks featured, as well as how this book came to be!

My Thoughts:
Like so many, I have been a Dr. Seuss fan for decades. When I heard of the release of a new book by the iconic author - based on a manuscript and sketches discovered in 2013 - I couldn't wait to pick up a copy. Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is sensational! This book will inspire young readers to create art, and learn how to appreciate it, as well. Also included are easy-to-understand descriptions of Realism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstract art. I highly recommend this never-before-published book to Dr. Seuss fans, and budding artists, everywhere!

Click here to read a previous Writ of Whimsy blog post on Dr. Seuss.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Andrew Joyner.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Lindstrom Wintertime Tales
Unexpected Validation

Since my first book's release in 2014, I've received consistent support for my stories, especially for the Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. It helps that my illustrations are from the fine artist, Michael Lindstrom.

That being said, most of my sales - and positive feedback - come in a face to face fashion. My most successful event is always the annual holiday festival, ScanFair, held in Portland, Oregon, each December.

It's probably not surprising, since the holiday event focuses on Christmas - which is always featured in my Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. (I've also released a middle grade novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek, that is a fantasy tale featuring anthropomorphic animals.)

However, I was completely taken aback when last month we had several return customers visiting our booth. They all asked, in various ways: "When will your next book be released? We thought you might have a new one this year." I felt encouraged and frustrated at the same time. How exciting is it to have a fan give you that validation, when it was completely unexpected? I felt like I'd received a kick in the behind. It's not that I haven't been writing, I have. I have a complete manuscript of a third tale, and am presently writing a fourth. However, my husband's art career has kept him very busy of late, so the illustrations for the books are lagging behind. We hope to remedy that this year.

As 2020 begins to unfold, I'm not only working on a fourth Lindstrom Wintertime Tale, I'm revising the work I completed during NaNoWriMo, as well as another MG novel set in WWII France. I'm also still hoping to continue querying my longtime completed project, Livvi Biddle.

Keeping a fan base happy is something I'd never thought about! 

Next Friday, I'll discuss my main goal for 2020. Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whangdoodle (n.)
an imaginary creature.
Example: The writer used her childhood whangdoodle as inspiration for her children's book.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

White Bird
by R. J. Palacio

Goodreads Description:
A Wonder story.

In R. J. Palacio's collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, Grandmere. This is Grandmere's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II in graphic novel form.

My Thoughts:
This recent release from Ms. Palacio is a wonderful addition to her world of Wonder. While it is a tale of fiction, it was totally believable, set against the true life events of World War II in Nazi-occupied France. I especially appreciated the author addressing the Nazis' treatment of physically challenged persons during their reign of terror; it's the first book for children that I've read that does so. The novel shines a light on the courage that is sometimes required to show even a small act of kindness. I highly recommend White Bird to readers aged eight & up.

Click here to learn about the author, R. J. Palacio.