Friday, June 19, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

It's Time for Summer Vacation!

The last few weeks have been super busy with completing the preparations for my soon-to-be released children's book: THE NIGHT OF THE NORTH. Consequently, I'm looking forward to soon relaxing in the warm summer days - social distancing, of course!

Click here for my summer reading list for kids.

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Check my website for upcoming news on my autumn book launch!

I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy this fall; have a sensational summer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Apricate - (v.)
to bask in the sun.
Example: The author hoped to apricate all summer long!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Merriam-Webster Children's Dictionary

Goodreads Description:
A must-have children's reference source with more than 35,000 words and 3,000 full-color illustrations specially created by DK's celebrated design team and Merriam-Webster's renowned language experts. 

My Thoughts:
This recently released dictionary for children is fabulous! If your child is a "word nerd," this book will entertain her for endless hours during this summer season, especially at this period of social distancing. The colorful illustrations also bring the words to life in an exciting fashion. I highly recommend this tome; it's a welcome addition in my library!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

My Annual Summer Reading List!
Once again it's time to feature my favorite middle grade books, that I've read since last fall. Merely select a title, click on it, and read my review. Enjoy!

The following fantastic books are listed in random order:

On the Horizon - by Lois Lowry

Echo Mountain - by Lauren Wolk

The List of Things that Will Not Change - by Rebecca Stead

Gold Rush Girl - by Avi

Here in the Real World - by Sara Pennypacker

White Bird - by R.J. Palacio

A Slip of a Girl - by Patricia Reilly Giff

Song for a Whale - by Lynne Kelly

Gittel's Journey - by Leslea Newman

Women in Art - by Rachel Ignotofsky

There's something for everyone on the list; enjoy reading this summer!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Vituperative - (adj.)
bitter and abusive.
Example: The protester shouted a vituperative attack upon the war veteran.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

Flap Copy Description:
In September of 1941, Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history - two and a half years of bombardment and starvation. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, the relatives of the dead having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Desperate citizens burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and - eventually - even one another to stay alive.
Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens - the Leningrad Symphony. This testament of courage was copied onto microfilm, driven across the Middle East, and flown over the deserts of North Africa to be performed in the United States - where it played a surprising role in strengthening the Grand Alliance against the Axis powers.
This is a true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power - and layered meaning - of music in beleaguered lives.

My Thoughts:
This superbly researched account of the life of Dmitri Shostakovich was informative and inspirational. It's also timely: Learning about the journey of the Russian composer from his birth through his death, at the most tumultuous times of the 20th Century, was entertaining, as well as eye-opening. What the brilliant musician endured throughout his life, just to continue creating, was heartbreaking. The portion of his story that included the Siege of Leningrad, was extraordinary. I highly recommend this work of non-fiction to readers aged fourteen and up.

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, M.T. Anderson

Friday, June 5, 2020

Storyteller's Journey


The day has finally arrived to reveal the cover and synopsis for my next children's book: THE NIGHT OF THE NORTH - painted in oils by my artist-husband, Michael Lindstrom!

Here is a synopsis of the illustrated short story, in flap-copy style:

In 1927, Nolan Soderstrom and his father depart Minnesota to learn the life of naturalists in the Territory of Alaska. But when they visit Mt. McKinley National Park over their winter holiday, Nolan finds himself lost & alone at the base of Denali, deep in the uncharted wilderness. 

Dangerous animals, a mighty winter wind, and even a mesmerizing display from the Northern Lights, are a few of the events twelve-year-old Nolan experiences on his daring adventure in the wilds of Alaska. It will take courage and conviction to find his way back to civilization.

Here's the fun book trailer for THE NIGHT OF THE NORTH:

THE NIGHT OF THE NORTH  will release this autumn! 
For more details over the summer, please check my website here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Augur - (v.)
(of an event or circumstance) portend a good or bad outcome.
Example: The success of the book event seemed to augur well for the author.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern

Flap Copy Description:
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable certainty that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library, he begins to read and is entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly, a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood, impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade-party dances and whispered backroom stories to the headquarters of a secret society, where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for.
Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores, Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place, and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and one another, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

My Thoughts:
While I usually review books for children and young adults, The Starless Sea is a novel too good to miss! Erin Morgenstern has penned a spellbinding tale full of magic and timeless wonder. You'll feel as though you've dreamt it, rather than read it. The only comparable novel that comes to mind is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, but The Starless Sea is much more a fantasy. I highly recommend this recent release to adult readers who enjoy elements of time travel and magic.

Click here to learn about the author Erin Morgenstern.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Art is a Light in the Darkness

I ponder a lot on the process of writing and making art; this is a quote I've composed that resonates for me:
"Creativity ignites the soul and illuminates the path."

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I've noticed a plethora of responses, by all sorts of people, during this trying time. While many, if not most, artists are financially challenged during the best of times - right now, finances are even tighter. Despite that, those who have a passion to create art seem to fare better - at least from what I've observed.

Why is that?

Having a passion that emanates from one's heart, is like a candle that lights our way. Without that, a life is merely a series of superficial activities. While, I too, enjoy traveling, dining out, the theater, and so on, what really fulfills me is writing and reading. Consequently, my life - and the lives of my close friends - has changed very little during this time of social isolation. (I've stayed busy by working on my next book!)

Recently the award-winning children's book author and illustrator, Mo Willems, said this about the current challenges we face: "Science is going to get us out of this, but art is going to get us through this."

I couldn't agree more with that quote. While obtaining a vaccine may rescue our society from the Covid-19 Pandemic, the fact is, that each of us, individually, needs to find our way forward until then. But more importantly, we need to jealously hold on to our right to create, lest we lose it. Our world is not only sick biologically, it's also sick politically. 

Additionally, enjoying art during these challenging times - whether it's music, literature, sculpture, visual art, movies, or any number of other modes of creativity - is also extremely beneficial to our mental health.

Here is an inspirational video on why we need art, by Alain de Botton:

May creativity light your way and give hope to your heart!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plisky - (n.)
a mischievous trick, prank, or practical joke.
Example: The wizened old woman would occasionally play a plisky on the neighborhood children.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

On the Horizon
by Lois Lowry

Flap Cover Description:
Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry reflects on her own in this moving account of the lives lost and forever altered in the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.
Drawing on the stories of real people at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, as well as her own memories, Lowry introduces readers to the only set of twin sailors aboard the USS Arizona, a Japanese child folding origami cranes in the wake of the unfathomable horror of the atomic bomb, and even her own grandmother. Through each vignette, this stunning work in verse contemplates humanity and war, sings with pain and truth, and emphasizes the importance of empathy in bridging cultural divides.

My Thoughts:
While I loved Lowry's Number the Stars and The Giver (both novels won the Newbery Award), On the Horizon is my new favorite from the legendary storyteller. When I pondered upon why I felt so strongly about the book, it was clear to me that the memories of Lowry's own childhood have seasoned the beautiful vignettes in verse in an extraordinary way. At this challenging time in history, her pen has offered hope to young readers by reminding them of our country's past of both horror and heroism during World War II. I highly recommend this remarkable book to readers of all ages - it's a must-read.

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Lois Lowry.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Motivated by iMovie!

As I've mentioned recently, I have a new children's book due to release in the near future; the cover reveal and synopsis will be posted here in two weeks. Consequently, I've been working on a book trailer for my next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale.

With my previous three book releases, I had a professional videographer create the videos for me. With the Covid-19 Crisis upon us, I decided I'd see if I could learn to create a book trailer via iMovie.

While it wasn't difficult, it wasn't easy. Here are some things to know:

1- To create a book trailer via iMovie you must use an Apple product. 

2- Two options are offered: Movie (which refers to custom), 
    or Trailer (which refers to using templates).

3- If you use Movie to create your custom trailer, like I did, you need 
    text/script, images/videos, and sound/music. (The process draws 
    images or videos via your iPad or iPhone from your photo album.)
   I learned that the app tends to crop the images quite a bit, so I used 
   another app - Pic Collage - to minimize each image before 
   beginning to make my video. Pic Collage also gave me the ability to 
   add a colored background and text to my image, so I accomplished 
   the look I was hoping for! (Horizontal images work best.)

4- Use YouTube tutorials to familiarize yourself with iMovie.
    There are videos for nearly every step of the process.

The trailer for my new book will be posted on my website soon!

Here's a practice iMovie video I made with images from my garden. The music is from my playlist, but for my actual book trailer I've purchased the right to use a piece of music from BeatSuite.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sockeroo - (n.)
a notable success.
Example: The debut author's book release was a sockeroo.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The List of Things that Will Not Change - by Rebecca Stead

Flap Copy Description:
When Bea's dad and his wonderful partner, Jesse, decide to marry, it looks as if Bea's biggest wish is coming true: she's finally (finally!) going to have a sister.
They're both ten. They're both in fifth grade. Though they've never met, Bea knows that she and Sonia will be perfect sisters. Just like sisters anywhere, Bea thinks. But as the wedding day approaches, Bea makes discoveries that lead her to a possibly disastrous choice.

My Thoughts:
Rebecca Stead's recently released The List of Things that Will Not Change is a remarkable book. Not only is the author's signature spot-on dialogue for kids on full display, her story features the important subject of gay marriage - from the perspective of a fifth grade child. The inner life of the protagonist, Bea, is also a powerful element in this extraordinary middle grade novel. I highly recommend The List of Things that Will Not Change to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Rebecca Stead.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Animals of Alaska

Since embarking on my storyteller's journey I've learned what most inspires me is an interesting setting, and the creatures that reside there. Alaska was extraordinary.

By the end of our 2017 trip to Alaska, and Denali National Park in particular, I knew that one day we'd create a children's book inspired by the park and its beautiful animals. That book will soon be published!

During our time in Alaska we took a bus tour deep into the Denali National Park. Our guide told us that she'd not led a more successful tour in many years; we saw so many animals, some of them are rarely seen.

The Willow Ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska. We saw several near our cabin on Tonglen Lake, outside the park. These birds, like the Snowshoe Hare above, turn white in winter.

This Caribou created a lovely photograph against the snowy hillside. Michael (my artist/husband) has thoroughly enjoyed using oil paints to compose our illustrations.

By far the most thrilling thing we saw were these Dall Sheep. It's not easy to capture a photo of the elusive creatures, but as I mentioned above, we were extremely lucky on our tour through Denali National Park. This species of sheep is a big reason that the park was established in 1917. The naturalist Charles Sheldon, was so taken with them that he lobbied Congress to establish Mt. McKinley National Park. (Now Denali.)

That bit of history, as well as the amazing animals of Alaska, is what inspired the story for our next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale set in 1927. 
(All photographs copyrighted by Victoria Lindstrom or Michael Lindstrom.)

Check in here on Writ of Whimsy for more details soon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Lollapalooza - (n.)
an extraordinary or unusual thing, person or event; an exceptional example or instance.
Example: The charitable response to the crisis was a true lollapalooza of generosity.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Dancing Hands
How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln
by Margarita Engle
and Rafael Lopez

Flap Copy Description:
As a little girl, Teresa Carreno loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals.
Then a revolution in Venezuela drove her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too - a Civil War.
Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa's music bring comfort to those who needed it most?

My Thoughts:
This beautiful picture book is the winner of the Pura Belpre Award - and no wonder: Margarita Engle's text tells the inspirational true story about a determined young Latino girl, and the book is wonderfully illustrated by Rafael Lopez. I found the book extraordinary with its setting in both Venezuela and the U.S. during the Civil War, and even including President Abraham Lincoln. I highly recommend Dancing Hands to readers aged four to ten! (Piano teachers would love it too!)

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Margarita Engle.
Click here to learn about the award-winning illustrator, Rafael Lopez.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Collaborating during Covid-19

For the past two months I've been staying at home like most of my fellow Americans. During this time of Covid-19 I've attempted to see silver linings whenever, and wherever, I can.

One big silver lining has been the extra time my artist-husband, Michael, and I've had to collaborate on our next illustrated children's book. While his day job still keeps him busy (he's considered an essential worker), our weekends have offered much more time at home together; prior to the pandemic he would have been out and about painting plein air landscape scenes on Saturdays and/or Sundays.

Here, he's painting a scene of the Fairbanks Train Station in 1927. It's part of a story that was inspired by our trip to Alaska in 2017. While I won't reveal any more details regarding the book right now, we'll have a cover reveal next month, including the title and an illuminating synopsis of the new Lindstrom Wintertime Tale!
I'm so incredibly thankful that Michael has agreed to be the illustrator for this collection of our children's books. The illustrations are nearly complete!

Have you discovered any silver linings during your time of isolation?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Holus-bolus - (adv.)
all at once; altogether.
Example: The residents of the community seemed to contract the virus in an almost holus-bolus fashion.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk

Flap Copy Description:
When the Great Depression takes almost everything they own, Ellie's family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy, even for Ellie, as her family struggles with the aftermath of an accident that has left her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie.
Determined to help her father, Ellie will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as "the hag." But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal and, with them, a fresh chance at happiness.

My Thoughts:
Since I'm a fan of Lauren Wolk's previous novels for young readers (Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea), when I learned of her recent release - Echo Mountain - I couldn't wait to purchase a copy. I wasn't disappointed! Ms. Wolk's characters are, once again, multi-faceted, flawed, and unforgettable. Her plot is woven in an unpredictable pattern that is both entertaining and satisfying. The rural mountain is a remarkable setting for her extraordinary tale of courage, healing, and restoration. I highly recommend Echo Mountain to readers aged eight to twelve, & to anyone who enjoys a good read set in the natural world.

Click here to learn about the author, Lauren Wolk.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Flowers as our Friends

"The earth laughs in flowers."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends." Okakura Kakuzo

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."
Lady Bird Johnson

In the midst of social distancing this spring, I've found joy and comfort spending time in my garden. While I always enjoy my garden, my flowers seem to mean more to me during this Covid-19 Pandemic: They seem to offer hope and inspiration on my storyteller's journey.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Flubdub - (n.)
pretentious show, speech, behavior; airs.
Example: The Southern belle swirled her hooped skirt around; her entire behavior was nothing more than a flubdub.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

In My Garden
by Charlotte Zolotow

Flap Copy Description:
IN THE SPRING what I love best in my garden are the birds building nests.
In the spring what I love most to do is fly kites.
In this quiet story, a young girl and her older companion describe the garden they love as it passes gently through the seasons. Originally published in 1960, In My Garden, by beloved picture book author Charlotte Zolotow, has been freshly reimagined by acclaimed author/illustrator Philip Stead as an homage to nature, friendship, and the passage of time.

My Thoughts:
The text of this recently-released picture book shares a timeless story, and it is freshly illuminated by the exquisite illustrations of Philip Stead. It's the perfect book for young readers this spring and summer, or really anytime. I highly recommend In My Garden to children aged four to eight, and to lovers of beautiful books and gardens everywhere.

Click here to learn about the life and career of Charlotte Zolotow.
Click here to learn about the illustrator Philip Stead.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

A Zest for Zoom!

During this Covid-19 Pandemic, social distancing is a part of our new normal, and may be for some time to come. While the inconvenience of self-isolation is frustrating, it's also offered opportunities to learn a new skill. For me, that's been using ZOOM to meet with my awesome critique partners.

While my partners are super tech-savvy (in part from their experience at their places of employment!), I on the other hand, have always considered myself technically challenged! Thankfully, both Deb and Kriston were able to walk me through the process during our first ZOOM meeting.

While most writers are introverts, it's still important that we remain connected to those friends who have always offered their support.
We all need to continue with our creative lives as best we can.

Click here to learn how to make community using ZOOM - by SCBWI.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Psithurism (n.)
the sound of rustling leaves.
Example: The enchanted forest felt even more magical due to the psithurism in the maple trees all around.
Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 20, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Beverly, Right Here
by Kate DiCamillo

Flap Copy Description:
Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. Now that's she's fourteen years old, she figures it's not running away.
It's leaving.
Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, whos has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn't want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn't want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can't help forming connections with the people around her - and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes.

My Thoughts:
While I prefer middle grade novels in the fantasy genre, when Kate DiCamillo writes another book, I wouldn't think of missing it. Beverly, Right Here is another masterpiece from the two-time Newbery Medalist! Beverly, who is friends with Louisiana Elefantes and Raymie Clarke (each featured in her own DiCamillo novel), is the stubborn, gritty protagonist with a chip on her shoulder. Ms. DiCamillo weaves a tale - as only she can - where Beverly meets an unusual cast of characters who ultimately help her begin to trust people, if only a few. I highly recommend Beverly, Right Here to readers aged eight and up!

Click here to learn about the legendary storyteller, Kate DiCamillo.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Writing in a Time of Crisis

During this time of the Covid-19 Pandemic, I've been reminded of why I began writing so many years ago. First, I journaled, then I penned poetry, and then, twelve years ago, I began writing stories for children full time. In each of those endeavors, a challenging time was the impetus for my writing. It's the same now.

Whether or not this is common among all writers, I don't know. But in this time of isolation, allowing my spirit to be transported through writing - and reading - has been a source of comfort. It's also enabled me to maintain a bit of normalcy, since writing and reading have been an integral part of my life for over a decade. Being an introvert is a great strength right now. (My sister, who is very much an extrovert, has had a very different experience during this time of crisis. Being around people is a must for her.) I'm reminded that I was born to be a writer.

Writing during this time of crisis seems to pull courage from my soul. When I write (or read) my mind is unable to wander down paths of fear, worry, and impatience. There is a sense that I'm conquering this horrible situation by staying creative and maintaining a normal life.

Good luck with your writing during this Coronavirus Crisis!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mugwump - (n.)
a person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, especially in politics.
Example: The leader of the country is nothing more than a mugwump when it comes to the current crisis.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Gold Rush Girl
by Avi

Flap Copy Description:
Life in 1848 in Providence, Rhode Island, isn't terribly exciting for a girl like Victoria Blaisdell. Barred from going to school and forced to borrow books secretly from the library, Tory longs to live a life as adventurous and independent as that of her heroine, Jane Eyre.
Then Tory's father loses his job and becomes so desperate to restore his family fortunes that he decides to seek a share of the newly discovered gold in California. Tory, eager to seize control of her own destiny, stows away on the westbound ship carrying her father and younger brother, Jacob.
Though San Francisco is mud-caked, frenzied, and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory quickly finds friends and independence until her father leaves for the gold fields and the care of Jacob falls to her.
But then Jacob vanishes, kidnapped, perhaps hidden among the hundreds of ships - called Rotten Row - that have been abandoned in the bay. If he is there, Tory must find him in a treacherous search.

My Thoughts:
The master storyteller, Avi, has spun another wonderful tale for middle grade readers! His strong female protagonist, Tory, is just the sort of girl that young readers need today. Additionally, the historical details in Gold Rush Girl bring this period of American history to life in an entertaining and exciting way. I highly recommend this novel to readers aged eight to fourteen!

Click here to learn about the Newbery Award winning author, Avi.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

A Time of Renewal

In difficult times the human heart invariably turns to spirituality (and prayer) with its multitude of beliefs and religions.

As I mentioned in my post last Friday, I've had a renewed interest in my own faith. Tapping into my spirit, and pondering upon what's really important in life, has strengthened me and given me important insights.

As we all continue to create our stories, our art, our music, may we do so with a renewed awareness of the importance our creativity plays to reveal life's truths - in whatever art form we pursue. May these challenging times remind us all of the need for gratitude, perseverance, and joy. May our creations reflect the "better angels" of our humanity.

Wishing each of you love, hope, and peace at this time of celebration.

Happy Easter!  Happy Passover!

Iglesia y Convento de las Capuchinas - Antigua, Guatemala

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!

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Wishing each of you a Happy Spring!