Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dybbuk -

a malevolent spirit of a dead person, believed able to take over a living person's body. (From Jewish folklore.)
Example: The dybbuk attempted to inhabit the host of the Halloween party.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

The Power of Poppy Pendle
by Natasha Lowe

Flap Copy Description:
"Kibet fallow da or 'Follow your passion and strive for excellence.'" Lavinia Roach, Headmistress of the exclusive Ruthersfield Academy

Poppy Pendle was born on the floor of the Patisserie Marie Claire bakery in the little town of Potts Bottom. When, as an infant, Poppy unexpectedly performs her first bit of magic, her parents, Edith and Roger, know their daughter has inherited the family gift.
But as Poppy grows up she isn't as thrilled about her magical talents. Even though she was born into a long line of witches, has inherited the extraordinary gifts of famed Great-Grandmother Mabel, and is enrolled at the exclusive Ruthersfield Academy, a school for witchcraft, she wants to be a baker instead. Making yummy lemon cakes, buttery almond cookies, chocolate melt-aways, and caramel crunch cookies is Poppy's passion - and it makes her happy. Poppy Pendle has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. Whose life is it anyway? she asks.

Natasha Lowe's debut middle grade novel, The Power of Poppy Pendle, is unique, delightful, and charming. The author turns the tables on the magical plot and has her protagonist long for the normal life of a baker. But for Poppy that life is where the magic really happens. She finds her joy and passion in creating exquisite and extraordinary desserts. This is a wonderful book for the young girl who enjoys magic and fantasy... it also reveals the importance of following your own heart. There is a bonus at the back of the book: ten of the wonderful recipes from Ms. Lowe's story! I would highly recommend The Power of Poppy Pendle to readers from the ages of eight - twelve.

To learn more about the author, Natasha Lowe, click here:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

A Literary Ghost from the Past

My very first manuscript was an adventure fantasy entitled: The Tale of Willaby Creek. Like many first attempts at writing the result was weak at best. However, I still love the premise of the story since it was inspired by one of my favorite places: Willaby Creek in the Olympic National Forest of Washington State. The story's cast is made up of anthropomorphic animals, a dryad, two humans, and a Spirit-Bear.

From time to time I have thought about that first manuscript: like a ghost that keeps visiting me from the past. But is my musing based on a good story, or just sentimental memories of a favorite place?
Over a year ago, I received a critique for The Tale of Willaby Creek from a person in the publishing world that I respect very much. She recognized some talent in my writing, but felt my story may not interest children and would be difficult to market. Since that time I have had a number of ideas float through my mind on how I might give my story a major makeover. But would it be the best use of my time?

Have you ever successfully rewritten one of your old manuscripts?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Tenebrous -

dark; gloomy; obscure.

Example: The towering castle was very tenebrous sitting amidst the ancient forest.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

The Cavendish Home
For Boys and Girls
by Claire Legrand

Flap Copy Description:
Victoria Likes Things Neat and Tidy.

Her hair gleams, her grades shine, and her room is as immaculate as the manicured lawns in her hometown of Belleville. Her life is perfect.
Until her best friend, Lawrence, goes missing.
Without Lawrence, Victoria has no one to walk to school with, no one to reprimand for not doing his homework, no one's life to run but her own. Naturally, Victoria launches an investigation. But Lawrence isn't the only missing kid in town. Beneath Belleville's perfection are dark, deadly, creepy secrets, and Victoria soon realizes Mrs. Cavendish's children's home down the street is behind it all. Kids who go there come out better - or they don't come out at all.
The grown-ups Victoria talks to only feel her lies. But Victoria is not top of the class for nothing. She will have to use her smarts to save her only friend and her beloved hometown from Mrs. Cavendish's evil clutches...even if it means getting a little messy.

My Thoughts:
The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is the extraordinary debut novel for author Claire Legrand. The protagonist, Victoria, endures a heartwarming transformation on her quest to save her friend, her family, and her small community. The story is dark and creepy, but also delightful. The characters are well-developed and the settings are inventive and imaginative. I would recommend this upper middle grade novel to readers from the ages of ten and up.

To learn more about the author, Claire Legrand, click here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

     When Do the Words Work?

As I proceed through the edits for my WIP I am encountering a common question for myself: When do the words work, and when do they get in the way? Due to my love of whimsical and quirky words I tend to use a lot of them in my writing. However, if I am noticing the words alone, and not the story, that's a problem! As a writer, making great word choices is essential; it is no less important than the colors of paint an artist chooses to cover her canvas. That being said, I want to draw readers in, not keep them out by putting up walls with my choice of words. I remember my mentor (Carolyn Rose) saying, in one of my creative writing courses, "Do you want the reader to love your story, or do you want them to notice the wonderful way you write?" I could reply they should be the same. However, we've all read books where we marvel at the author's word choices - but did we love the story too? I know that I have read many books where the words were like stumbling blocks to me - even in a children's book! In the end, I am trying to use quirky and challenging words judiciously, like a good seasoning. (A little salt is great, but too much and the dish is ruined!)

The other part of this dilemma is that as a writer for middle grade readers, I am constantly reminded that the vocabulary cannot be too adult. I must confess that if I challenge the reader a bit, I see this as a good thing. I love learning new words, and I'm betting that young avid readers do too! (However, agents & editors may not agree. ^_^) I am drawn to books such as: The Mysterious Benedict Society - by Trent Lee Stewart, The Miraculous Mechanisms - by Lissa Evans, and Wildwood - by Colin Meloy. All of these middle grade books use a multitude if whimsical and challenging words. Wish me luck!

Have you ever read a book and felt like the words got in the way?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Epistolary -

In the form of a letter or letters: taking the form of a letter or a series of letters.

Example: The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis, is an example of an epistolary novel.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

by Lois Lowry

Amazon Description:
They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn't exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

My Thoughts:
The long-awaited epic finale to Lois Lowry's The Giver series does not disappoint. The master storyteller skillfully weaves the main characters from the previous books - The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger - into her latest dystopian novel. Son just might be the best in the series, and that's saying something... since The Giver was awarded the Newbery Medal! At the back of this amazing book is a guide for discussion and classroom use that is extremely thought-provoking. I would highly recommend Son to readers, students, teachers, and writers from the ages of eight to eighty!
I have attached a link to a recent interview with Lois Lowry - click here:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

      My Library Is On Fire!

Although I purchased my Kindle Fire several months ago, it was only a few weeks ago that I really began to utilize it. (The cost of digital books has skyrocketed so much, that in some cases they are only a few dollars cheaper than a hardback copy!) When I discovered my local library carries digital books to check out for tablets & e-readers I was ecstatic. (My library is on Kindle Fire.  ^_^)

Evidently 75% of U.S. libraries now feature this option for their patrons. However, with all of the drastic changes in the publishing world, the American Library Association is still dickering with some of the big-time publishing houses over discriminatory policies toward libraries.

Here  is a link to a recent article that discusses that very subject:

Do you check out electronic books from your local library?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Squiffed -


Example: The friar of the ancient abbey was constantly squiffed.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Horten's Incredible Illusions
by Lissa Evans

Flap Copy Description:
Trapped in the Beeton Museum inside the Pharaoh's Pyramid, Stuart slotted the star into place. The effect was instantaneous. All four sides of the pyramid fell open. Stuart was in the middle of a desert.

Just when height-challenged Stuart Horten thinks his big adventure is over, he discovers that Great Uncle Tony has left behind yet another mystery: he's hidden his will, and his magic tricks are the clues to its location. As Stuart tries to find the long-lost document and outwit a nefarious newcomer who's also after it, the tricks suddenly transport him (with the triplets April, May, and June in tow) far away from Beeton. The foursome must use their smarts to solve even trickier puzzles to get home - or risk losing everything - in this action-packed, laugh-out-loud sequel to Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms.

My Thoughts:
Author Lissa Evans has penned another brain-tickling middle grade tale - Horten's Incredible Illusions - the sequel to Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms. Magic, mystery, and mayhem abound in this well-written whimsical story. A puzzling plot, colorful characters, and lots of laughs make this book a fantastic find for the readers who enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society or the books by Lemony Snicket. I highly recommend this middle grade novel to readers from the ages of 8 -12.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Storyteller's Journey

Being Your Own Cheerleader

Autumn is here and that means football season is in full swing. This time of year I always muse about my high school days as a varsity cheerleader. (I could write a YA novel and call it: The Unlikely Cheerleader!)

We had an awesome football team my senior year; our quarterback went on to play for Stanford University, and then the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL. However, we did not go to the state playoffs - we placed second in the league standings. One of the experiences I remember the most happened while we were at an "away game." Listening to the home crowd's thunderous cacophony of cheers made our tiny tribe of traveling fans sound like a bunch of wimpy kids. I learned first hand about standing tall while the opponent's cheerleaders led their crowd:
"We've got spirit, yes we do!
 We've got spirit, how 'bout you?!"
When we responded, our weak rebuttal brought on raucous laughing.
(However, we got the last laugh: With two minutes left in the game we scored and beat Olympia High School 7-6.)

As I've  proceeded on my storyteller's journey I've discovered it's essential that I be my own cheerleader. I can't expect family, friends, critique partners, or anybody else to prop up my confidence. When they do, I love it; but, day in and day out I must be my own cheerleader. I try to fill my mind with thoughts such as:
Just keep writing!
Don't give up!
This is your passion!
So and so had one million rejections before getting an agent! (HaHa!)

I am usually quite critical when I evaluate my own writing; but really, I should encourage myself at least as much as I do my writer friends.

How do you cheer yourself up when you're feeling intimidated?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Whimsical Word of the Week

Nyctalopia -

Night blindness; moon blindness.

Example: The pirate's poor diet chronically  lacked vegetables, it thus caused nyctalopia.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bibliophile's Corner

Under Wildwood
by Colin Meloy

Flap Copy Description:
Ever since Prue McKeel returned home from the Impassable Wilderness after rescuing her brother from the malevolent Dowager Governess, life has been pretty dull. School holds no interest for her, and her new science teacher keeps getting on her case about her dismal test scores and daydreaming in class. Her mind is constantly returning to the verdant groves and sky-tall trees of Wildwood, where her friend Curtis still remains as a bandit-in-training.
But all is not well in that world. A hard winter has come and discord reigns in the wake of the so-called Bicycle Coup. Dark assassins with mysterious motives conspire to settle the scores of an unknown client A titan of industry employs inmates from his orphanage to work in his machine shop, all the while obsessing over the exploitation of the Impassable Wilderness. Under a growing threat, Prue is drawn back into Wildwood, where she and Curtis will face their greatest challenge yet: to save themselves and the lives of their friends, and to bring unity to a divided country. But in order to do that, they must go under Wildwood.

My Thoughts:
Under Wildwood is the recently-released sequel to Colin Meloy's critically acclaimed Wildwood - both epic upper middle grade novels. The fantasy world that Mr. Meloy has created for his Wildwood Chronicles was inspired by Forest Park, in Portland, Oregon - the city where the author resides. Anthropomorphic animals, ancient magic and mystics, and a colorful cast of characters make Under Wildwood a book not to miss! In addition to that, the fantasy adventure novel has been beautifully illustrated by the author's wife - Carson Ellis. (Illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society, and Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead, and Dillweed's Revenge.) I would highly recommend this book to readers from the age of nine and up.
To view the Wildwood Chronicles website, click here: