Friday, March 29, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Free Public Domain Photo
Entwined Chapters

As I send off my cover letter, synopsis, and pages to the editor I mentioned last week, it is with this thought: what will she think of using alternating POV chapters?

After having read and enjoyed numerous novels where the author chose to alternate chapters with different points of view, I decided to implement that method for my story.

These books are great examples of writing with this method:

The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech. In this middle grade novel the author alternates chapters between the female protagonist's point of view and the male secondary character's point of view. Ms. Creech skillfully revealed important points (and secrets) in her plot to the reader that each of her characters was not always aware. The author was also able to reveal each character's back story to the reader, but kept it from the other character. By doing so, she drew the reader in as the third (all-knowing) member of the story - awesome! (I also like this example since The Wanderer is a Newbery Honor winner - clearly alternating POV chapters can work in a middle grade novel.)

The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting. In this young adult novel the author alternates chapters between the female protagonist's point of view and the male antagonist's (murderer's) point of view. In my mind, Ms. Derting's book is the best example of creating tension with this approach that I have personally read. Since I alternated chapters in my MG manuscript with the protagonist and the antagonist, this example has been of great value to me. (It was a thrill for me to meet Kimberly Derting last year!)

Requiem, by Lauren Oliver. This recently-released young adult novel is an excellent example of successfully alternating chapters. Ms. Oliver alternated chapters between two characters that in essence were both main characters/protagonists. Using this method allowed the author to create suspense and tension, and also to propel her plot. Requiem became more textured and fully developed as each chapter was woven into the next, creating a dynamic finale to her Delirium series.( Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors not only because she is so talented, but because she also writes middle grade novels: Liesl and Po, and The Spindlers.)

The reason each of these authors was able to use the alternating chapter method so successfully (in my mind) was because each of them also entwined the chapters. What I mean by that, is that the chapters were metaphorically braided together, so that by the finale it was one, fused, super chapter, if you will. That was the real challenge for me in writing my novel with this method: writing entwined chapters, not just parallel chapters. That is one of the aspects of my novel that I am anxious to receive feedback on.

What is your favorite novel featuring alternating POV chapters?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Obnubilate -

cloud over, darken, or obscure.

Example: The teenage boy's bangs may have been in style, but they also served to obnubilate his vision.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
by Steve Sheinkin

Flap Copy Description:
IN DECEMBER OF 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a uranium atom split in two.

That simple discovery, dealing with the tiniest of particles, launched a cut-throat race that would span three continents. The players were the greatest scientists, the most expert spies, hardened military commandos, and some of the most ruthless dictators who ever lived. The prize: military dominance over the entire world.
This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

My Thoughts:
Steve Sheinkin's remarkable account of one of the most top secret U.S. government projects in history won him the 2013 Sibert Award (Non-fiction for Children), the 2013 YALSA Award, and a 2013 Newbery Honor Award! Whether or not you are a history buff, this book will keep you riveted from the first page to the last. I have read books on Oppenheimer, Einstein, and Truman, but this book shines the light on these historical figures (and many more) in a fresh and informative way. Although there are so many positive points to this book that could be mentioned, one thought stands out to me: Our youth of today need to hear this story. The detailed accounts of the devastation on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the U.S. dropped atom bombs must always be remembered. Mr. Sheinkin does not shy away from the truth regarding the government of the United States during the tumultuous time of World War II in 1945. I would highly recommend BOMB to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the talented author - Steve Sheinkin, click here:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

 Inevitable Change

The arrival of spring is always a welcome event in the Pacific Northwest - with it comes the promise of warmer, brighter days ahead after months of gray, wet weather.

Change is inevitable in nature: we are all  aware that without it, plants and animals can not grow, thrive, or even survive. The same can be said for just about anything - including the life of a writer.

Last Saturday I interviewed my good writer friend - Kriston Johnson. (She is the author of the soon-to-be-released young adult novel - Awakened.) Kriston mentioned the need for writers to have their work professionally edited prior to self-publication. She and I have had long discussions about this very topic. There is a growing trend in the publishing world where writers are having their work professionally edited even before sending out query letters.

After having my middle grade manuscript reviewed by beta readers and partially edited by a retired editor friend, I have come to the conclusion that my story deserves something special...but what? Since I'm a firstborn, Type A individual, it has always been difficult for me to ask for help...but the time has come.

I have completed a cover letter and a synopsis for my middle grade novel, and will be sending them off next week with a request to obtain the services of an East Coast literary editor/consultant. I came to this decision for many reasons - here are a few:

1- The expertise that a veteran children's book editor can offer is just what I need to make my story shine.
2- The particular editor I will be contacting is known to me through a number of her clients...she has a stellar reputation.
3- I have seen talented writers either not gain representation, or if they did, their manuscripts never seemed to progress further than the agent's desk.

If you really knew me, you would know how difficult this decision has been. Obtaining the services of a professional literary editor/consultant is not only a professional investment, but a financial one as well. As I have proceeded on my storyteller's journey, I have learned so much about the world of publishing. I believe my best chance to gain representation is to catch the attention of an agent right from the start.

Change. This journey has brought about so many changes in my life. This next step represents crossing over a shaky bridge with uncertain waters lurking below. There is no guarantee that the editor I mentioned will agree to accept me as her client. The intense desire to see my story traditionally published has brought me to this place.

I'm hoping for new energy and a positive change in my life as a writer.

Have you experienced any recent changes on your writing journey?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Vernal -

in spring: appearing or happening in the season of spring.

Example: The vernal equinox was much anticipated after a particularly harsh winter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Out of the Dust
by Karen Hesse

Back Flap Description:
"Dust piles up like snow across the prairie..."

A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo's life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better - playing the piano - is impossible with her wounded hands.

To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm and all the farms nearby. While others flee from the dust bowl, Billie Jo is left to find peace in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma - and in the surprising landscape of her own heart.

My Thoughts:
Although Out of the Dust was written over fifteen years ago, this poignant novel in verse is just as powerful today as it was in 1998 when it won the Newbery Medal Award. Ms. Hesse's eloquent, poetic style coupled with her amazing and accurate descriptions of the Great Depression of the 1930's, make this novel a true work of art. The author presents a protagonist who must deal with more than her share of life's harshest miseries; the beauty of this story is that the reader ultimately sees the young heroine transcend her pain with strength, dignity, and courage. I would highly recommend Out of the Dust to readers from the ages of eight to eighty.

To learn more about the author, Karen Hesse, click here:

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sensational Scribe

           COVER REVEAL!

Today marks the first time I have revealed a book cover on Writ of Whimsy; it couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, since Awakened is the debut YA novel for my writing partner and good friend - Kriston Johnson!

Here is a summary of the fast-paced and fascinating story that was a pleasure for me to see come to life over the past few years:

Can fighting for the right side be the wrong thing to do?

Draven, the tyrant ruler of Elyndia for the last one thousand years, searches for the one who can fulfill his prophecy.

The Paladins, an elite band of warriors sworn to protect their way of life at all costs, search for the one with the ability to bring their world crumbling down.

An innocent girl, tormented by demons only she can see, lives on the brink of insanity and longs for a life of peace.

When seventeen-year-old Jade Rosenberg reads from an antique book, she has no idea that she has read an incantation awaking her inherited power; she learns she has descended from an enchanted realm and is a member of a powerful race thought to have been hunted to extinction.

Ripped from her world, Jade is forced to seek refuge from those who want her dead. She is given one of two options and the time has come for her to make a choice:
assassinate their sworn enemy...

Or sacrifice her soul.

                                           *   *   *   *   *   *   *

And now, it is my pleasure to welcome Kriston Johnson to
Writ of Whimsy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Kriston.

"Thank you for having me on Writ of Whimsy, Victoria."

Kriston, where did the idea for "Awakened - The Legends of Elyndia" originate?

"A few years back my husband was given a family heirloom passed down to him from his father. It was an antique knife with a curved blade and tattered copper sheath. When the knife was handed to my husband he held it with great respect, as it was obvious that it was very old. Not long after he held it, my husband carefully pulled the sheath from the blade and held the knife out in front of him for everyone to in the room to see. As he was holding the knife I pictured a wave of powerful magic wash across the room as if the beholder just awakened an ability they never knew they had. Thus, my story was born."

I've heard that story before, but I still find it so amazing. Could you tell me a little bit about your journey in creating your debut novel?

"I literally started at ground zero. It had been twenty years since I had been in school and I had not written anything longer than a grocery list since. The first thing I did was enroll in a few classes at the community college. When I started taking my writing more seriously I started blogging, attended a conference, joined the Willamette Writers and SCBWI. I wanted to be fully immersed in the writing community."

Do you have any tips about self-publishing that you'd like to share?

"Yes, hiring a professional editor is a must. Awakened had two rounds with an editor and one with a proofreader. Beta readers are extremely helpful, but an editor will always catch more, and force you to dig deeper. Self-published authors should also hire a professional cover designer. I know we are told not to judge a book by its cover, but let's face it, a lot of people do. If a cover looks like it was thrown together at the last minute, a reader may think the book was too."

What does your life outside of your literary pursuits look like?

Gets husband
Me - "Honey, what does she mean by this question?"
Husband - "She wants to know what you like to do when you're not writing."
Me - "Are you telling me...there is a life beyond my book?" tilts head and blinks
Husband - cautiously walks backward out of the room
Me - total Kermit flail

Now there's the Kriston I know, folks! Last question, Kriston:
What advice would you share with aspiring authors?

"Be in the moment. Balancing my precious free time is always a delicate task. Working full time and spending quality time with the family leaves a very limited time to squeeze in a decent writing session. I spent the first three years of my writing life in constant turmoil. When I was with my family I was irritated that I was not writing, when I was writing I was ridden with guilt that I was not with my family, so time with either was full of distractions and never as rich and fulfilling as it could have been.

Take the time - make a schedule so neither is neglected. That way you are sure to get the most out of each moment."

Thanks again, Kriston. Good luck with "Awakened!"

Kriston Johnson
Kriston Johnson lives in Southwest Washington with her husband, teenage son, and miniature Australian Shepherd. Her home rests at the fringe of an old growth forest that she insists is the home of Jason Voorhees. Her husband thinks that that's a ridiculous assumption, because everyone knows it's really Bigfoot. Every summer Kriston participates in the annual pilgrimage to Faerieworlds, a real life faerie realm here on Earth; she has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars, The Vampire Diaries, and Iron Man. Awakened is her first novel.
You can visit her online

Hope you all enjoyed meeting the author of "Awakened."
I'll be a host for Kriston's book blast in April that will feature giveaways!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Free Public Domain Photo
Unexpected Research

I spent a considerable amount of time during the summer of 2011 researching the British Prime Minister - Winston Churchill. He is featured in a small, but significant role in my middle grade work in progress. The biographies I read were time consuming - sort of like reading your high school world history textbook! While I do not consider myself an expert on the historic politician, I do feel I have enough of an education on Churchill to be accurate in the context of my story.

Earlier this month I finally found the time to read a book I've been anticipating - Prague Winter, by Madeleine Albright. Ms. Albright is a woman I have long admired. While I knew her memoir included the World War II period, I never imagined there would be so much information about Winston Churchill! I didn't learn any information that will change my story; but it did give me a deeper understanding of Churchill's character. It was a great reminder to me that reading from a variety of genres is not only healthy, it can be helpful.
What type of books do you read outside the genre you write in?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Monomania -

obession with one idea or interest.

Example: Getting her book published had become a monomania for the aspiring author.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Three Times Lucky
by Sheila Turnage

Flap Copy Description:
Meet Miss Moses LoBeau -
rising sixth grader, natural born detective, borderline straight-A student, and goddess of free enterprise. Mo washed ashore in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, eleven years ago during one of the meanest hurricanes in history, and she's been making waves ever since.

Mo's summer is looking good. She'll take karate with her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III (whose daddy believes in naming for the famous), and plot against her sworn enemy, Anna Celeste (aka Attila). She'll help out at the cafe run by the Colonel and Miss Lana, and continue her lifelong search for her Upstream Mother.

But when the cafe's crankiest customer turns up dead and a city-slick lawman shows up asking questions, Mo's summer takes an unexpected turn. With another hurricane bearing down on Tupelo Landing, Mo and Dale set out to save those they love and solve a mystery of epic proportions.

My Thoughts:
Although Ms. Turnage has been previously published, this is her debut middle grade novel. What a beginning: Three Times Lucky is a 2013 Newbery Honor book! This exciting, entertaining, and well-written novel displays, without doubt, the storytelling skills of Sheila Turnage. The author's voice, humor, and complex plot come together in a unique blend, making this novel truly special. Three Times Lucky is also a great book for both boys and girls, since the female protagonist (Mo) has a constant companion (Dale) - an insecure, but kind-hearted male best friend. However, the story is not just a feel good tale since life issues of family, friendship, hope, and love are all woven throughout this complex novel. I would highly recommend Three Times Lucky to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Free Public Domain Cartoon
Extraordinary Emotions!

There are only so many ways a writer can show her characters expressing happiness, anger, love, curiosity, disappointment...well, you get the idea.

While revising my middle grade WIP, I have attempted to be more creative in my word choices with regard to my characters' emotions.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi has proven to be of immense value when tackling this challenge. The authors host The Bookshelf Muse, an award-winning online resource for writers, and they are both members of the SCBWI. If you have not yet purchased a copy of this valuable guide, I would highly recommend it. It helped open my eyes to new ways of revealing my characters!

What reference books do you use in your descriptive writing efforts?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Walla-walla -

the unintelligible sound made by many people talking at once.

Example: A walla-walla arose from the excited stockbrokers on Wall Street.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

May B.
by Caroline Starr Rose

Flap Copy Description:
I watch the wagon
until I see nothing on the open plain.
For the first time ever,
I am alone.

May is helping out on a neighbor's homestead - just until Christmas, her pa promises. But when a terrible turn of events leaves her all alone, she must try to find food and fuel - and courage - to make it through the approaching winter.

My Thoughts:
This novel in verse by Caroline Starr Rose has a number of elements to admire: character development, setting descriptions, and a lovely rhythm to the writing. While I have not always been a huge fan of stories set on the prairie, this little book is well worth the read. The author was wise to write it in verse: that's what made it a winner for me. I would highly recommend May B. to female readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

To learn more about the author, Caroline Starr Rose, click here:

Friday, March 1, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

The Grand Canyon
   Recent Tidbits

We returned from our trip to Arizona after having a wonderful time with my family; we had also visited Sedona and the Grand Canyon. The snow at the World Heritage Site made the setting even more beautiful.

The bad news is that I picked up a sinus infection/flu just before we departed Arizona. (The plane trip home was not one I would want to repeat!) Evidently this awful illness is going around and takes some time to run its course. I'm still taking all kinds of pills to battle the annoying symptoms.

I have been spending my time this week (in between resting & sneezing) catching up on laundry, paying bills, reading, and of course, writing. Next week's post will be writing related - I promise!

On a brighter note: Our son - Brian, was just awarded First Place (co-winner) in a Regional Choral Composition Competition. His piece will be performed by the Seattle based group, Opus 7, on Saturday, May 11th, at St. Mark's Cathedral in downtown Seattle. Since the competition takes in college students from six states this is quite a big deal. Needless to say, we are so proud of him! may remember me posting about my "Dog Dilemma" several months ago: after traveling more than usual in the last few months, I have conceded to my husband that it's probably not the best time to acquire a dog right now. However...while viewing a trio of programs on elephants that aired on PBS earlier this week, I took the plunge and am now sponsoring an orphaned elephant in Nairobi, Kenya.

Here is the lovely Lima Lima (Lindstrom) whom we adopted only two days ago! She was rescued on February 20th, 2013 after her mother was killed by poachers for her ivory tusks.

There are many other baby elephants that need assistance in the wake of the out of control poaching problem that is taking place in many countries of Africa. If you would like to adopt/sponsor an elephant, rhino, zebra, or other animal, here is the link to the David Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi, Kenya:

When my husband saw me sitting at my computer with a credit card in hand he knew he was in trouble. When I told him, "I just adopted a baby elephant!" he rolled his eyes and smiled. We always wanted a baby girl.

Care to share what's been going on in your neck of the woods?