Friday, March 30, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

Spring Break in the Southwest

It had been too long since I visited my parents here in Arizona; I decided I would fly down and visit them while my husband attends an oil painting workshop in our hometown.

The Poisoned Pen (Photo - Wikipedia)
Yesterday my Mom and I had lunch in the Old Town part of Scottsdale. I had an ulterior motive for visiting that part of the Phoenix metro area - I wanted to check out The Poisoned Pen Bookstore! It did not disappoint. While its specialties are mysteries and Southwest literature, it did not lack for a wide selection of books by various local authors.
I was overdue for a bit of rest and relaxation; unfortunately, I'll be leaving the Valley of the Sun soon.

To check out their website, click here:

Do you have a favorite independent bookstore in your community?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny -
Detectives Extraordinaire!
by Polly Horvath

Flap Copy description:
Madeline's parents have gone missing. Her only clues? A note tacked on the fridge from someone call The Enemy, a file card covered in a squiggly secret code, and dozens of red eyes staring out the blackened windows of a car she saw speeding down her driveway. And Madeline could swear the driver was a fox...
Luckily Madeline encounters two bunnies who have decided to take up detective work (detectives get to wear fedoras!) and are willing to come to her aid - pro bono. And if her parents' kidnappers are foxes, who better than rabbit detectives to sniff them out?

My thoughts:
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! is Polly Horvath's most recent MG novel - it's delightful! A likeable protagonist, quirky parents, and lots of laughs, make this tale a great read - especially for young girls. The beautiful black and white illustrations, done by Sophie Blackall, add a whimsical charm to this lovely book. (Ms. Blackall's art is featured on the current cover of the SCBWI Newletter!) I especially enjoy stories with anthropomorphic animal characters, this book did not disappoint. I would recommend Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! to readers from the ages of 8 -12. Check out the following links:

To learn more about the author, Polly Horvath - click here:
To learn more about the illustrator, Sophie Blackall - click here:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sentimental Serendipity

And the Award goes to....

My good blogging buddy, Carol Riggs at Artzicarol Ramblings, recently passed on two of her many awards to me. Thanks so much, girlfriend!
The Liebster Rules:

1. Give to a blogger with less than 200 followers.
2. That blogger will pass it on to 5 followers.
3. According to Babelfish, Liebster means Dearest.

Congratulations to the new Liebster Award winners:
Debbie - Bookworm Bites Back
Tina - Capable Garnet
Sandra - Conversations about Characters
(Unfortunately, I was unable to find two more bloggers who fulfilled the requirements.
If you do meet the rules, please receive this award as one of the other two winners!)

The Lucky 7 Meme Award Rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy the next 7 lines on your blog as they're written. No cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers to pass this meme on to.

My Excerpt:
From page 77 of my historical fiction/fantasy MG novel,
Livvi Biddle - A Most Extraordinary Girl:

"Time travel?" asked the emotionally exhausted granddaughter.

"Why, yes. It's the only explanation for my experience sixty years ago, and your experience today.

If we're both telling the truth, then you indeed were transported back in time -

I just wish I knew why," elaborated the elder Olivia.

"So, let me get this straight. You believe in all this...magic stuff?" Livvi asked.

Congrats to these Lucky 7 winners who get to do the same:

1. Kriston - Words Escape Me
2. Tanya - Life's like that
3. Tara - Tara Tyler Talks
4. Elizabeth - Chandara Writes
5. Marcy - mainewords
6. Linda - Writers Do Laundry, Too
7. Brandi - Brandi Boddie - Penning Praises

You Lucky Seven have been officially tagged!

Thanks again, to my blogging buddies. Happy Writing!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

Heading off to Hunger Games!

The day has finally arrived! My good writer friend, Kriston, and I can hardly wait. Rather than brave the midnight crowd earlier today, or the Friday night crowd later this evening, we are attending the matinee this afternoon.

If you are in to the YA novel by Suzanne Collins, and see the film this weekend, let me know what you think of the blockbuster. What did you think of the acting, the costumes, and the special effects? It will be fun to compare your take on this much anticipated cinematic event. I'm off to root for District 12!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Equinoctial  -

Occurring at equinox: happening at or near either of the two equinoxes.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

by R. J. Palacio
Flap Copy description:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school - until now. He's about to enter the fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid, then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

My thoughts:
Wonder is the debut middle grade novel by R.J. Palacio - she has truly written a remarkable book. Ms. Palacio has stated that this story was inspired when she, and her young children, saw a child with a severe facial deformity; that experience inspired the main character, Auggie, and ultimately this amazing story. I found it to be uplifting, funny, and entertaining. The character development and descriptions of middle school life are exceptional. I would definitely recommend this book to readers from the ages of 8 - 12. Congratulations to R.J. Palacio on her wonder-ful debut novel!

Check out this great trailer for Ms. Palacio's book:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

I believe in communication; books communicate ideas and make bridges between people.

Jeanette Winterson

Friday, March 16, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

 Middle Grade...and Beyond!

Having spent a good deal of time meeting and chatting with writers, both online and in person, I am aware that we all write for a variety of different reasons. Some of those I've heard include:

1 - I've always wanted to write; I've written my whole life.
2 - I have a great story that I really feel needs to be told.
3 - I enjoy reading a certain genre; I want to see if I can write too.
       (These are just a few reasons I've heard for writing - there are many more.)

Obviously, there is no right or wrong reason to write - but it does affect how we write, what we write, and how well we write. The main reason I write is because books played an important part of my early adolescent period. If I hadn't had the works of Charles Dickens, Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, and a multitude of others in my life, I really wonder where I would be today. Those well-known literary giants inspired my imagination to dream, and to deal with a difficult time in my life. Consequently, I have an affinity to the genre of middle grade books, as well as middle grade kids themselves. It is such a tough, transitional time that if family and friends cannot provide fully the support needed, a child can really struggle. The thought (dream) of writing a book that might help a youngster, like books helped me, is something that really lights my fire! I have spent many hours reading awesome MG novels (old & new) to give myself a good basic knowledge of the genre. Those books are featured weekly in my Monday post entitled: Bibliophile's Corner.

That being said, I was recently encouraged by a good writer friend to mention on my blog that I also read a lot of YA and Adult novels for my personal enjoyment, since I do. For that reason, I have added another gadget to my blog entitled: YA/Adult Books Read - 2012.

What are your thoughts? Do you read in the same genre that you write?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Flap Copy description:
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mother loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with an unusual chore - typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels...and possibly murder.

My thoughts:
This year's Newbery Medal Award winner is today's featured book -
Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos. Rarely do I laugh out loud while reading a book; I have never laughed so hard I cried while reading a book...until now! The quirky, surprising, dry wit of the author will take you on the comical literary ride of your life. While this MG novel is hilarious - it would be easy to miss the amazing character development, great setting descriptions, and perfect pace.
Mr. Gantos wonderfully wove into the story historical events and famous figures which added a rich tapestry to his novel. Obviously, all this did not go unnoticed by the Newbery Committee! I would highly recommend Dead End in Norvelt to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To check out this amazing author - click here:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

The Japanese Gardens - Portland, Oregon

the spring wind -

the skirts of the thatcher

are blown about

Kobayashi Issa
1762 - 1826

In honor of those victims who lost their lives in the earthquake /tsunami one year ago today.
Our thoughts and prayers are with their families & friends, and with the people of Japan.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sentimental Serendipity

Yikes, I'm tagged again! This time byValentina. If you are not already following her blog, you're missing out on the wit of a wonderful writer!

Here are the questions she asked of me:

What is the title of your WIP? Tell us about it. My MG story is called:   Livvi Biddle - A Most Extraordinary Girl. Here is the synopsis in flap copy style:
     Livvi Biddle has never believed in fairy tales, magic, or hocus pocus of any kind. All she knows is that she's grieving the loss of her mother, dealing with her demented granny, and resisting the rude remarks of the neighborhood bully - Mortimer Muench.
     But this young girl's life does become quite magical when she travels to Great Britain and receives a mysterious locket from her paternal grandmother. Then, while Livvi and her father visit the prehistoric monument Stonehenge, the astonished American is thrust back in time where she meets a remarkable historical figure. The supernatural journey into the past is the catalyst to help Livvi deal with the present.
     Convincing her family and friends that the bizarre encounter actually happened, will take more than tenacity - it might just take another trip through time!
(I have had a bit of a setback - more revisions are needed before the beta readers!)

When did you start blogging and why? I began blogging in February 2011. I wanted to begin to build a writer's platform, but I was a bit apprehensive since I'm normally quite introverted. Blogging has been so much more than I would have imagined. While I am building a platform, I have also met a multitude of wonderful writers, and have had to come out of my shrinking violet mode!

If you could do anything tomorrow, what would you do? Take my husband and our three sons to Europe. I would love to see all of the historical sites, visit the museums, and browse through the quirky bookstores in the U.K. (I think I know a writer who lives in London! ^_^ )

Describe your happy place. It is definitely Quinault, Washington, U.S.A. We own a small cabin in the old growth rain forest which is a World Heritage Site - it is just magical. While it is very remote, there are miles of paths, a view of the lake from our deck, and an historic lodge just down the path that FDR visited in 1938, when he designated the Olympic National Park. A great place to go for an Irish coffee! ^_^)

What was your first happy memory? When I was very young we lived across the street from my maternal grandparents. I remember many, many special times with my grandmother. The first one I can recall was one summer gathering dozens of ladybugs off of the screen door, and placing them in a Mason jar that Grandma had provided.

What was the scariest thing you've ever done? Attending my first SCBWI Writers' Retreat. I went to the event not knowing even one person; I frequently wanted to stay in my room due to my social anxiety. However, I made a conscious effort to reach out and found everyone very accepting and welcoming. I wouldn't be surprised if they thought I was an extrovert due to my focus on reaching out to overcome my fear.

What is the funniest thing you did today? I purchased a pair of lavender-colored rubber boots! They are so quirky, and they should come in handy here in the Pacific Northwest!

What is the strangest place you have ever got an idea for a story. It would have to be our cabin. The Tale of Willaby Creek (unpublished) was inspired by a storm that occurred there in 2006. The MC is an anthropomorphic bear. No, not Yogi, or Smokey - Basil! I've heard all the jokes!

Where do you write? I write in our basement studio that I share with my husband - he's an oil painter. While he labors at his easel, I am across the room on my laptop which sits on a writer's table. Every once in a while there are some conflicts. However, we had most of our trials when we collaborated on my PB entitled, The Scandinavian Santa (Unpublished.)   I would tell him what I wanted, and he would reply: I'm the ARTIST! All in all it was a great experience, one we laugh about now.

If you just won a ticket to anywhere in the world and you had to take me, where would you take me and why? The alternate world of Wordlandia, where every writer is published! HeHe!

Thanks for your friendship Valentina Hepburn - this was great fun!
Look out blogging buddies, you just might get tagged!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

  Arts and Culture Summit

Last Saturday, my husband and I attended the first annual Arts and Culture Summit in our community. The purpose of this event was to reignite our city with a passion for the arts, and to tour the Military Post Hospital which will be renovated into a Community Arts Center.

Timothy D. Leavitt - Mayor of Vancouver, Washington
It was very encouraging to see the mayor of our city- Tim Leavitt, there to open the summit with his remarks. In addition to hearing wonderful local and regional community leaders, we also had a time for small groups to brainstorm on how we can make a difference in our community for the arts. My husband and I are on two committees: The Military Post Hospital Project, and also The Arts for Social Change. We are very excited to be a part of this grass roots movement, with the hope of someday soon having a city that is known for its Arts and Culture! For more information on the Military Post Hospital Project - click here:

Is your city a cultural community? If not, what changes would you like to see made? Does it even matter to you as a writer? Thanks so much!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

The House Without Windows
by Barbara Newhall Follett

Back cover description:
Everyone at one time or another wants to get away from the everyday world, and this is the story of a girl who did so. She fled from her family to the meadow, then to the sea, and then to the mountains. Where she next journeyed and what happened to her there is a mystery filled with wonder.

My thoughts:
This might be the most unusual children's books I've ever read - for a lot of reasons:
First, it was written ninety years ago by a child prodigy named Barbara Newhall Follett - she was nine years old. (It was published three years later, in 1927.)
Secondly, it would be amazing for any child of that age to write something worthy of publication; the young Follett's work has stood the test of time as one of the most remarkable children's stories of all time.
Thirdly, the most unfortunate of circumstances caused the strange and still unsolved mystery of the author's disappearance in 1939. Some have said it was not surprising, given the finale of this book!
I would recommend this book to readers of all ages, but it is nearly impossible to find. Thanks to my editor friend, Laura Johnson, for loaning me her copy of this rare and valuable book.
To learn more about the story of the enigmatic Barbara Newhall Follett - click here:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Incredible Inspiration

Ruby Beach - Washington State
There is no drop of water in the ocean, not even in the deepest parts of the abyss, that does not know and respond to the mysterious forces that create the tide.

Rachel Carson

Friday, March 2, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

  Story, Structure, and Style

At the last meeting of the Magic Pen Critique Group that I host in our home, my friends/members encouraged me to blog some of what I shared with them - here is a summary of my recent musings:

As I continued revising my WIP, I began wondering just what was I attempting to accomplish - I mean specifically. (It had dawned on me that I could revise my manuscript into oblivion!) It wasn't that I was opposed to the time and work necessary to be a writer; I just wanted to make sure I was making the best use of my time. Contemplating all of the information I have received over the years regarding the craft of writing, I decided I needed my own personal format to writing a manuscript. I always make an outline before I begin writing - however, it occurred to me that each draft should serve a specific purpose, not just random revising. Here is what I came up with for my personal format to writing a manuscript in three drafts:

1 - Story. We have all heard it - just get the story down! This is something I've struggled with; I tend to want to begin revising as soon as I see poor word choices, grammar, weak characters,etc. Thankfully, I recently had a breakthrough and can now just get my idea down in the first draft.

2 - Structure. This second draft is where most of the real work occurs. Character development, setting descriptions, scene progressions, etc. etc. It seems that at least two-thirds of my time is spent on the second draft.

3 - Style. The third draft is something I've always tried to fuse with my first draft - wrong! It completely slowed me down, and had me focused on things that were not important at the beginning of crafting my story.
This is the draft that deals with polishing my manuscript - hopefully making it shine with style. (This is also the step I acquire the aid of beta readers, and have the option of employing an editor to make my manuscript market-ready.)

These steps are nothing new, but the simple three-step alliterative list is something I can easily remember. Within each draft there are obviously a multitude of tasks to tackle, but now I at least know what I'm trying to accomplish in a broad sense. Each draft serves its own necessary and specific purpose; no longer do I feel I need to have a stellar story after the first draft!

I am presently re-working the third draft of my WIP with a local editior and I have beta readers waiting in the wings. I may also elect to hire an editor with specific skills dealing with children's literature - wish me luck!