Monday, September 30, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root
by Christopher Pennell

Flap Copy Description: Every night Carly stayed in her room, drinking hot tea and sitting in her chair by the little brick fireplace she felt so lucky to have. She read books, waiting for the sun to rise so that she could finally go to sleep and leave the lonely, wakeful hours behind.

Strange things abound in the town of Whistle Root: a little girl named Carly Bean Bitters has never been able to sleep at night, rats make music in the moonlight, and friends are found in the unlikeliest of places.
     When a wicked creature hatches deep in the woods, Carly must uncover a secret legacy of magic and music. Will she save herself and her new friends before it's too late?

My Thoughts:
Christopher Pennell's debut middle grade novel is delightfully creative and the illustrations by Rebecca Bond are just wonderful. The author included mysterious settings, awesome word choices, and imaginative characters. While I found the plot to be a bit confusing, overall I found The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root to be well worth recommending to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Delving Into the Dark Side

Since beginning the second story in my MG  series, I have realized the need to feature my antagonist much more in the sequel. While I introduced the villain in small snippets in the first novel, this next tale will include him as a primary character. Consequently, I have been developing a more detailed back story and character arc for my heroine's nemesis.

During this process I have found that "delving into the dark side" has made me feel quite creepy. One night I even had a nightmare in which I was my story's antagonist - it felt awful! Although this process has been unpleasant, it has given me a better understanding of my villain, which I'm hoping will enable me to write a more textured antagonist. After all, the strength of a story rests, in part, on the challenges placed upon the protagonist. Creating a well-developed antagonist is one way to attain the tension that so intrigues the reader.

Have you ever felt a "darkness" while developing your antagonist?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Pluviophile -

a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace during rainy days.
Example: Since the writer lived in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it helped that she was a pluviophile.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Lightning Dreamer
by Margarita Engle

Amazon Description:
"I find it so easy to forget / that I'm just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts." Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula.

In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.

My Thoughts:
Margarita Engle educates the reader not only on the life of famed poet, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, she also enlightens the reader to the travesty of slavery in Cuba during the nineteenth century. This well-written novel in verse is packed with poignant and passionate prose - another great example of the talent of Margarita Engle. I would highly recommend The Lightning Dreamer to female readers from the ages of ten and up, and to anyone who enjoys history or poetry.

To learn more about Margarita Engle, click here:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo

Fall's Fresh Start

"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
F. Scott Fitzgerald.

You might think that living in the cold and rainy Pacific Northwest that I would look forward to the warmer seasons of spring and summer. You'd be wrong. Maybe it's because I've lived here nearly all of my life that autumn is, without a doubt, the time of year when I feel nature mirrors back to me my own soul. Writing, reading, walking in the woods, and visiting the stormy Pacific Ocean, are just a few of the things I love to do in the fall, but there are many more.

In addition to that, being a student at heart, I always start a new project in the fall. There's just something about September that calls to me for a time of fresh learning and creating. This year is no exception. After completing a rewrite of The Tale of Willaby Creek, and sending out another query letter for Livvi Biddle ~ The Secret of Stonehenge, I have decided to proceed with Book II in the series: Livvi Biddle ~ A Garden in Giverny.  Learning more about France, Paris, and Claude Monet and his garden in Giverny, has kept me busy for the last three weeks. Although I've been a long-time fan of the art of Monet, it was essential that I learn the details of the master's life (like the name of his gardener; and when he had eye surgery) to create a believable tale.

For me, fall is truly the time when I return to "the cauldron of creativity."
So, while the school buses rumble up and down the nearby country road, and the Seattle Seahawks make their bid for a Super Bowl slot, I'll be lost in the whimsical world of Wordlandia inside my studio!

Have you started a new project recently? What's your favorite season?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dibble -

a pointed gardening implement to make holes in soil, especially for planting bulbs or seedlings.
Example: The angry autumn sky brooded over the gardener as he wielded his dibble to plant the bulbs.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

Story's End
by Marissa Burt

Flap Copy Description:
Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story...
During the reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all  kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles.
     Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And a ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan.
     Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story's past - and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story's only hope for survival.

My Thoughts:
Story's End is the sensational sequel to Marissa Burt's first fantasy book, Storybound. Again we follow the protagonist, Una Fairchild, on her quest to overthrow the evil forces that threaten the alternate world of Story. Weaving three points of view, Ms. Burt keeps the reader intrigued all the way to the end of Una's adventure. All the elements you expect in a well-written children's book are found in Story's End. However, it is the subtle heartfelt lessons that the author sprinkled into this delightful tale that I found so endearing. I would highly recommend Story's End to readers from the ages of eight to fourteen.

To learn more about the author, Marissa Burt, click here:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Why We Write
edited by Meredith Maran

Amazon Description:
Anyone who's ever sat down to write a novel or even a story knows how exhilarating and heartbreaking writing can be. So what makes writers stick with it? In Why We Write, twenty well-known authors candidly share what keeps them going and what they love the most - and least - about their vocation.

My Thoughts:
Although I usually post reviews for middle grade books, I do occasionally feature an adult book when it's had a major impact on me as a writer. Why We Write is awesome! Learning from successful writers about what makes them "tick," so to speak, was both informative and inspiring. The reasons these writers write are as different as the genres of their books. However, it was reading about their doubts, insecurities, and even frustrations that reminded me that every writer deals with these things...even after they're published. I highly recommend Why We Write to all writers...wherever they're at on their storyteller's journey!

If you'd like to purchase Why We Write, here's the Amazon link:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Necrology -

a list of people who have died during a specific period.
Example: A necrology of those persons who died in the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 is inscribed in bronze at Memorial Plaza in New York City.   Never Forget

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

America Is Under Attack
by Don Brown

Amazon Description:
The events of September 11, 2001 changed the world forever. Don Brown narrates the events of the day in a way that is both accessible and understandable for young readers. Straightforward and honest, this account moves chronologically through the morning from the plane hijackings to the crashes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania; from the rescue operations at the WTC site to the collapse of the buildings.

My Thoughts:
This award-winning non-fiction book is the best children's book I've seen chronicling the events of 9/11. Its water color paintings perfectly illustrate the powerful and poignant text. If you are a parent, or teacher of young readers, this book is a must. I would highly recommend America Is Under Attack to readers from the ages of eight to fourteen.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Summer of 2013

This blog post reminds me of the back-to-school assignment: "What I Did On My Summer Vacation!" Here I'm hamming it up with my critique partner, Kriston Johnson. (L-R: Victoria and Kriston.)
In early June my hubby and I found ourselves in Bend, Oregon tootling through bookstores and art galleries. We took a nature walk around Mirror Pond - a familiar landmark in the artsy community.
The last Sunday of June we hosted a small family reunion at our home. Pictured from L-R: our youngest son, Brian; our soon-to-be-daughter-in-law, Jessica; our eldest son, David; and our middle son, Kevin.
Since our son, Brian, had moved home for a couple of months before moving to NYC, we spent several weekends taking him to some special spots in our area. In July we visited the Portland Japanese Gardens.
Later in July I spent time on Mt. Hood with Kriston Johnson for our writers' retreat. Here I'm pictured at Wildwood Recreational Site; we spent a couple of hours there walking around the amazing trails.
A few days after I returned from the writers' retreat, my husband, Michael, and I went back to Wildwood for a picnic...with some oil painting and writing on the side. That is our favorite thing to do on a free summer weekend.
In the midst of all this summer fun, I was actually able to accomplish my goal of rewriting an old manuscript! I'm still trying to decide whether or not to pursue beta readers, editing, and sending out query letters.
(Original copy pictured.)

I hope you all had a sensational summer. It feels good to be back in blogosphere after a much needed break. Happy writing, dear friends!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Riffle -

A rocky shoal or sandbar lying just below the surface of a waterway.

Example: The young salmon discovered a rich food supply in a riffle of the river.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

by Palmer Brown

Back Cover Description:
Grandfather Clock makes a lovely home for a family of mice - if you don't mind the occasional clang. And here Hickory lives with his parents, his brother, Dickory, and his sister, Dock. But Hickory is a restless, fearless mouse, and he longs to be on the move, to breathe the sweet air and nibble on the wild strawberries of the fields. So one day in early spring, with the smells of honeysuckle and clover guiding him, he strikes out on his own. Soon he discovers that a meadow can be a lonely place, even with all its beetles and caterpillars. It's not until Hop the grasshopper comes around that Hickory finds a true companion. Hop warns him, though, that when the days get shorter and the goldenrod begins to fade, the "song she sings will soon be done." How Hickory and Hop confront and eventually accept the end of summer forms the core of Palmer Brown's poignant story.

My Thoughts:
I discovered this delightful little book while perusing through a local bookstore. How I had previously missed it is amazing since it's compared to Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and E. B. White's Charlotte's Web. The book is loaded with illustrations just as lovely as those shown on its cover. The book is also considered a field guide to some common spring, summer, and autumn plants and flowers. Written in a poetic style, Hickory will have a place of honor in my library of children's books. I would highly recommend this forty-two page chapter book to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about Palmer Brown and his books, click here: