Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Orphic -

mysterious, magical, or entrancing; beyond ordinary understanding.
Example: The orphic movement of the antique furniture suggested paranormal activity.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Year of Shadows
by Claire Legrand

Flap Copy Description:
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year. Her mother left, her neglectful father - the maestro of a failing orchestra - has moved her and her grandmother into the dark, broken-down music hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
     Just when she thinks life couldn't get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia's help - if the hall is torn down, they'll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
     Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living...and soon it's not just the concert hall that needs saving.

My Thoughts:
I read and reviewed Ms. Legrand's debut middle grade novel The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and loved it. So it is no surprise to me that The Year of Shadows is just as cool and creepy! I really love the character development, especially the protagonist - Olivia. Ms. Legrand has boldly created a twelve-year-old female who is outspoken, angry, quirky, and even a bit rebellious. But guess what? You'll love her! The reason I say that is because of the wonderful writing in this story; we not only see the pain of the protagonist, we feel it. And, as in any good character arc, we also cheer for the heroine when she turns the corner. I would highly recommend The Year of Shadows to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Jessica and David

A Friday to Remember

Today is one of those days that authors write romantic stories about. You know, the ones where the beautiful princess marries a handsome prince?
Tonight my son, David, will marry his fiancée, Jessica.

In honor of their special day (and because I'm just a wee bit nervous) this proud mother is turning off her comments. I'll be back next week!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Logolepsy -

a fascination or obsession with words.

Example: the blogger had a bad case of logolepsy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Real Boy
by Anne Ursu

Flap Copy Description:
     On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven into its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master's  shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
     But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill; something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

My Thoughts:
Anne Ursu - the author of Breadcrumbs, has created another spellbinding middle grade novel called The Real Boy. This well-written fantasy invites the reader into the magical, yet painful world of Oscar - an odd boy filled with fears, insecurities, and an inability to socialize. However, when evil events occur in the enchanted city of Asteri, Oscar's life is transformed by the power of friendship and the pull of compassion. Ms. Ursu has beautifully revealed deep elements within the human experience in this extraordinary novel. I would highly recommend The Real Boy to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

To learn more about the author - Anne Ursu - click here:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

A Sweet Surprise!

Earlier this week I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite online pals - Ruth Schiffmann - had nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award.
Thanks so much, Ruth!

The rules for the Super Sweet Blogging Award are:
1- Answer the following five questions.
2- Nominate five sweet bloggers.

1. Cookies or Cake? Definitely cookies! I can honestly say I haven't met a cookie I didn't like; although peanut butter cookies are a favorite.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? That depends. When it comes to ice cream I am definitely a vanilla fan; if we're talking candy, it's got to be chocolate!

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? For me that's a bit like asking me which molecule of oxygen I prefer! I guess my favorite would be apple pie a la mode - although it seems that the only time I allow myself that indulgence is during the holidays!

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things the Most? It seems that every afternoon around 3 o'clock I get hungry for a surge of sweetness. I finally came up with the idea of placing little chocolates in an empty glass jar. That way I can eat one (maybe two!) and not go crazy with the calories before dinnertime.

5. Sweet Nick Name? Gosh, I call my hubby: sweetie, honey, and even sometimes, pumpkin. But, the nick names that my husband calls me, are derivatives of my actual name: Vic, or V. (Not really sweet-sounding, but heartfelt nonetheless!)

                    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

The five blogging friends I'd like to nominate for this award are:

Kriston Johnson - my critique partner. She's always sweet to me... even when she has to give constructive criticism!
Loree Huebner - She's one of those gals that just seems to embody sweetness.
Carol Riggs - A super writer and a sweet blogging friend.
Debbie Coope - Although she lives "across the pond," she's made me feel like we're close friends.
Elizabeth Varadan - I love her gentle seems to extend to the entire planet.

My candy jar!

     Hope all of my blogging buddies have a sweet weekend!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Word

Cosmogyral -

whirling around the universe.

Example: The weather satellite spun out of control in an unfortunate cosmogyral fashion.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

From Norvelt to Nowhere
by Jack Gantos

Flap Copy Description:
This rocket-paced follow-up to the acclaimed Dead End in Norvelt opens deep in the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis. But instead of Russian warheads, other kinds of trouble are raining down on young Jack Gantos and his utopian town of Norvelt in western Pennsylvania. After an explosion, a new crime by an old crook, and the sad passing of the town's founder, twelve-year-old Jack will soon find himself launched on a mission that takes him hundreds of miles away, escorting his slightly mental elderly mentor, Miss Volker, on her relentless pursuit of the oddest of outlaws. But as their trip turns south in more ways than one, it's increasingly clear that the farther from their off-beat home they travel, the more crazed Jack and Miss Volker's adventure becomes, in this raucous road novel about roots and revenge, a last chance at love, and the power of a remarkable friendship.

My Thoughts:
The last time I laughed out loud while reading a middle grade novel was when I read Dead End in Norvelt, the Newbery Medal winner by the same talented and zany author who wrote From Norvelt to Nowhere - Jack Gantos. He's done it again! As in Dead End in Norvelt, the author whips up a literary delight with the unlikely ingredients of humor and historical fiction creating an insightful, informative, and thoroughly entertaining middle grade novel. Gantos is a genius. I would highly recommend From Norvelt to Nowhere to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

To learn more about the author - Jack Gantos,
click here:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

  Inspired at Wordstock

Last Saturday I attended Wordstock in Portland, Oregon, and had an awesome time. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and have never attended the annual event, you really should check it out. (You might even see Star Wars characters like I did!)
Since it had been three years since I last attended the literary festival I noticed numerous changes. Due to the explosion of independent presses and digital publishing, there were many booths at the book fair offering information on those subjects.
However, what my critique partner and I hoped to do was to hear, and possibly meet, our favorite middle grade and young adult authors present at the four-day event. We were not disappointed!

This panel of authors is the big reason Kriston and I had such an awesome time at the event. Seated L-R: Emma Trevayne, Claire Legrand, and Stefan Bachmann. (We were told that the potted plant was there to represent the children's book author, Katherine Catmull who was unable to attend. I'm thinking they didn't want to admit that she's a shape-shifter!)

This talented company of children's book authors has also collaborated: Next year, Creepy Tales from the Cabinet of Curiosities will be released. It is a collection of dark short stories contributed by each of the four authors - whom you can tell are friends.

On a side note, my critique partner - Kriston, and I later had a chance to chat with the three authors and have them sign their books. Each of them was warm and friendly, and even asked about our own stories.
Thank you so much, Emma, Claire, and Stefan!

This quirky quartet (I say quirky because Katherine Catmull has a scarf wrapped around her pot, and is wearing a pair of sunglasses!) can be found at their website: Cabinet of Curiosities

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Croodle -

to cuddle or nestle together, as from fear or cold.

Example: The lost mountain climbers chose to croodle around the campfire in an attempt to stay warm.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bibliophile's Corner

The Whatnot
by Stefan Bachmann

Flap Copy Description:
Oh, the Sly King, the Sly King, in his towers of ash and wind.

Pikey Thomas doesn't know how or why he can see the changeling girl. But there she is. Not in the cold, muddy London neighborhood where Pikey lives. Instead, she's walking through the trees and snow of the enchanted Old Country or, later, racing trough an opulent hall. She's pale and small, and she has branches growing out of her head. Her name is Henrietta Kettle.

Pikey's vision, it turns out, is worth something. Worth something to Hettie's brother - a brave adventurer named Bartholomew Kettle. Worth something to the nobleman who protects him. And Pikey is not above bartering - Pikey will do almost anything to escape his past; he'll do almost anything for a life worth living.

The faeries - save for a mysterious sylph and a mischievous cobble faery or two - have been chased out of London. They've all gone north. The army is heading north, too. So Pikey and Bartholomew follow, collecting information, piecing together clues, searching for the doorway that will lead them to Hettie.

My Thoughts:
The Whatnot is the recently-released companion book to Stefan Bachmann's, The Peculiar. The sequel not only matches the debut novel's appeal, it surpasses it. With highly-developed characters, awesome old world settings, and a writing style that could be the envy of most writers, the author sets a new standard for children's literature. Mr. Bachmann is a super-talented university student who has been compared to Charles Dickens, J.K. Rowling, and other exceptional authors. Bravo! I would highly recommend The Whatnot to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

In addition to Mr. Bachmann's literary talent, he is also an accomplished musician. To hear from his original score for the novel, The Peculiar, click here:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain

     Middle Grade Magic!

Amidst a children's book publishing industry that is bursting its bindings with young adult novels, I have found upper middle grade books to be what I prefer to write, and, even sometimes, read.
You might wonder why.

Aside from the fact that I've been told on numerous occasions that I live in "my own little world," I learned long ago that I am a quirky, creative soul...even in a room full of writers! So when I began to take my writing seriously, and even set goals to be published, it was to middle grade stories that my imagination wandered. Where else can you relive your own childhood, or write a book you wish had been written when  you were a kid? Where else is a unique imagination rewarded, rather than ridiculed? Where else can you create flying polar bears and magical dryads all while not worrying about romantic scenes?? (That's not to say that I don't enjoy lots of young adult books, because I do! It's just that my own creativity seems to be satisfied only while writing imaginative stories for middle grade readers.)

A huge reason that I read middle grade novels is the same reason all writers are advised to read: It injects my creative juices with awesome writing, while keeping me informed on the current literary trends.
But, I would not be honest if I didn't admit that it is a great upper middle grade novel that excites me most - both as a writer, and as a reader.

So, while I'm a wife, and a mother of three sons, the "secret self" inside me is a quirky writer of MG stories. After all...middle grade is magic!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Whimsical Word of the Week

Brume -

fog or mist.

Example: a wispy brume mysteriously hung over the English moor.