Friday, December 19, 2014

Season's Greetings!

Michael Lindstrom - 18 X 24 - Oil on Panel


Every year I take a winter break near the Christmas holiday. This will be my last blog post of 2014; I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy in January.
                       Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

              (Click here to view my recent quarterly newsletter.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Snig (v.)

to drag something heavy, especially a log, by means of ropes or chains.

Example: The farmer and his friends had to snig a Christmas tree through the drifts of December snow, back to their church.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

My True Love Gave To Me
Twelve Holiday Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins

Flap Copy Description:
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms, and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you're going to fall in love with My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by the international bestselling Stephanie Perkins. Whether you enjoy celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or New Year's, there's something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons this season to stay indoors and fall in love.

My Thoughts:
While I've not yet read all the holiday stories in this fantastic anthology, I've read enough to know that My True Love Gave To Me is a book worth recommending - especially before the holidays have faded away. So far, my favorite story is: Polaris Is Where You'll Find Me, by Jenny Han; but with authors like Holly Black, David Levithan, and other well-known writers, I'm anticipating great stories all around. And who wouldn't enjoy an anthology this time of year? You might be too busy with all the festivities of the season to finish an entire novel, but everyone has time to read a short story!

Click here to view the anthology's Amazon site.

NOTE: Today I'm over at Loree Huebner's blog discussing my book, The Scandinavian Santa. She has posted an author/illustrator interview featuring myself, and my husband - fine artist Michael Lindstrom.
Click here to pop over to Loree's great blog. We will be giving away a signed copy of our magical yuletide tale to one lucky commenter!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Strategy

Sometime within the last several months I stumbled upon a valuable truth: Writers must be just as creative with their marketing strategy as they are with their plot development!

This is true not only for independently-published authors, but traditionally-published authors as well. Gone are the days when book signings and author visits were set up for the writer...unless you have celebrity status, of course. However, this doesn't have to be a bad thing. Since the author knows her book better than anyone, and also the geographic area she lives in, there are numerous opportunities, if she does just a bit of research.

Ways to help you be creative with marketing strategy:

Genre - What is your book's genre?  Is it fantasy? Look into promoting your book at one of the Faerie World or Renaissance Fairs. Is it a Sci-Fi? Look into promoting your novel at one of the numerous annual events that cater to Science Fiction buffs. You get the idea.

Location - What is the setting for your book? If it's a real place, would it serve as a good location to promote your book? Is it set in a ski resort? Look into selling your book in ski lodge gift shops. (My W.I.P. is set in a National Park. If the novel is published, I hope to get it into the gift shops in numerous National Parks.)

Sports/Hobbies - Is your protagonist an ice skater? Well, what about getting your book featured in a magazine that targets that sport? Obviously any sport would do. Hobbies would work the same way. Is your protagonist an avid knitter? Musician? Artist? Be creative and use your imagination as to where you might find readers who have those interests. Then contact the appropriate club, fair, magazine, store, school, etc.

Event - Does your story occur during a set event or holiday? Christmas? Fourth of July? Summer Solstice? Major sporting event? Aligning the release of your book to occur with an event that's included in your story is a great way to create a buzz. You might even find an event (like a county fair for the Fourth of July), where you could market your book.

Culture - If you follow my blog, then you're well aware that my children's book The Scandinavian Santa was recently published. A few months ago it dawned on me that I was not limited to bookstores and libraries to promote my book, so I began connecting with shops and organizations that identify with the Scandinavian culture. I had no idea what a wealth of opportunities were available to me within the Scandinavian community right here in my own area. Before I knew it, I had a number of events lined up - all generated from researching the Scandinavian culture here in the Pacific Northwest. Last weekend, my husband and I were vendors at the Portland ScanFair. We set up our booth, and basically had a two-day book sale and signing.

Here are some photos from our time at the Portland ScanFair:
Prior to ScanFair, the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation issued their regular newsletter. Unbeknownst to me, someone had a clever ten-year-old (Elden Parker) read and review The Scandinavian Santa!    
I couldn't have asked for a better promotion. I did not request this, or pay for it, but I'll accept it!
If you're a published author, being creative with your marketing strategy is a must - but it can be a ton of fun, too!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hiemal - (adj.)

of or relating to winter; wintry.

Example: Although it was still early December, the weather in the Pacific Northwest was quite hiemal.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

by Michelle Houts

Amazon Description:
Christmas has come, and with it a sparkling white winterfrost over the countryside. But twelve-year-old Bettina's parents have been called away unexpectedly, leaving her in charge of the house, the farm, and baby Pia. In all the confusion, Bettina's family neglects to set out the traditional bowl of Christmas rice pudding for the tiny nisse who are rumored to look after the family and their livestock. No one besides her grandfather ever believed the nisse were real, so what harm could there be in forgetting this silly custom? But when baby Pia disappears during a nap, the magic of the nisse makes itself known. To find her sister and set things right, Bettina must venture into the miniature world of these usually helpful, but sometimes mischievous folk.

My Thoughts:
WinterFrost is the latest middle grade book written by Michelle Houts - it's just delightful. Since I enjoy Scandinavian culture, it was a real treat for me to read this imaginative Nordic novel. The whimsical world of the nisse that the author has created is in keeping with the legends of Lapland, but whether or not you're Scandinavian, this book would be a great read this holiday season. I would highly recommend WinterFrost to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Click here to  learn more about the author, Michelle Houts.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

A Heart of a Child

During the holiday season, children dream of sledding in the snow, making snowmen, and opening Christmas or Hanukkah presents. Many adults ponder: Oh, to be young again!

When was having fun with simple pleasures meant only for children? It wasn't. But when an adult trades in their imagination for the pursuit of an income, part of the price they pay is losing their heart of a child.

Maybe that's why writers and other creative types love to lose themselves in their craft. It's a way to cling to their childlike self  by way of their imagination. However, once the writer becomes a published author, she also becomes a business woman. Thus, she's thrust into the world of marketing, promoting, and networking. It's not that making money from our creativity is bad; it seems it can be a wonderful way to make a living. But, if when we cross over to being a professional author we lose our heart of a child, that is a bad thing. If that happens, we're no different than a company CEO concerned with nothing more than the making of money. Therein lies an extraordinary challenge:
How to keep the heart of a child even when you're a business person.

I've thought a lot about this challenge the last several weeks, since I've been busy marketing my children's book. What I've learned is that like so many things in life, if something is a priority to you then you'll make the time to see it happen. Whether it's spending time with family and friends, exercising at the gym, or even writing on a regular basis.

Here are a few ways I've discovered to maintain my heart of a child:

1- Learn to say NO! I've already had to say "no" to a number of  social or marketing activities - it can all be just too much. I've had people say: "But you could sell a lot of books there." Oh, well. I would rather spend time with my family and friends, than to sell a few more books and become a nervous wreck in the process.
2- Be Smart/Be Selective - Being able to say "no" becomes a bit easier when I do my homework: Where will my time be best spent? Where is the vendor/shopkeeper the most excited to host/feature me?
If I must struggle to set up a book signing with someone, then they're probably not really that interested. If they're not that interested, it will probably just be a waste of my time to be there. By being selective with how to spend my time, I seem to end up with marketing opportunities that are not only profitable, but fun as well.
3-Maintain Time with Family & Friends - This is so important. In the midst of the holidays and marketing my book, my life could be spinning out of control right now - but it's not. My husband and I still take time to have date nights, and I've maintained my attendance in the writer/artist groups where I'm a member. Basically, I didn't give up my life's routine. I didn't give up myself when my book was published just to make a buck. You might be thinking: It sounds like she doesn't even care if she sells that many copies of her book. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's like so many things in life: What you grasp will always remain just our of your reach. I believe that by maintaining my sense of self I will draw the right people and opportunities to me - at the right time. I can't tell you how many times people have contacted ME to sell my book at their store/library/etc.
4-Have Fun! Whether it's taking a little trip, going to a movie, or sledding down a snowy slope, it's important to remember to smile and laugh - and to cause others to do the same.
5-Flex Your Imagination - I love the scene in Miracle on 34th Street, where "Santa Claus" encourages the cynical little girl Susan, to use her imagination: "...You've heard of the French Nation, well, what about the Imagi-Nation?" Below: Actor Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus) demonstrates to Natalie Wood (Susan) how to be a monkey.

While it might seem silly to be so light-hearted as an adult, it will not only add quality to your life, I believe it will add quality to your writing.
By the way, I highly recommend watching Miracle on 34th Street as a wonderful way to give your "heart of a child" a big boost!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Vermillion (n.)

a brilliant red color.

Example: The historical house was adorned with decorations of vermillion and viridian for the holidays.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Winter Horses
by Philip Kerr

Flap Copy Description:
Kalinka is in danger.
She is an orphan, with no family or friends. She is alone on the vast Ukrainian steppe, in the dead of winter in 1941. She has no idea which direction might lead to safety. But the biggest danger for Kalinka is the yellow Star of David embroidered on her coat.
Then she meets two horses on the snowy plains, horses from another time. Untamable, cunning, and wise, the Przewalski's horses have endured all the cruelness of the world since the era of cave paintings - but the current evils of World War II are beyond anything they've ever witnessed.
These horses may be the last of their kind; should they become two more casualties of the war, the race could be extinct. They recognize in Kalinka a kindred spirit, and a hope for survival, as they flee the fast-approaching Nazis, intent on killing all three of them. Will she be able to save them - or will they save her?

My Thoughts:
The Winter Horses is the first novel by Philip Kerr I've read, but it won't be the last! Mr. Kerr has penned a well-written story that is part historical fiction and part fairy tale - it's just fantastic. This extraordinary novel features a fourteen-year-old female protagonist who is both tender and tough, and who loves animals. Bravo! If you enjoyed The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, or The Dogs of Winter, by Bonnie Pyron, then you'll love this inspiring tale. I would highly recommend The Winter Horses to readers from the age of ten and up.

Click here to learn about the author, Philip Kerr.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Storyteller's Journey + Book GIVEAWAY!

Gratitude -  (n.)

Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

During this Thanksgiving weekend, Americans across the country are remembering all the blessings they have been given. Family, friends, freedom, and faith are gifts that I am so grateful for, among others.

This year, the story I wrote over six years ago - The Scandinavian Santa - finally came to life. It was an experience that I can only compare to that of giving birth (which I did three times!). The labor pains were horrendous, but seeing my little creation after so many months was sublime. The response I've received from all types of people has been overwhelmingly positive. And I've met so many fantastic folks that I never would have met had not I been marketing our children's storybook. I'm grateful for the entire experience.

Therefore, it's a great time for a giveaway! Two signed copies of The Scandinavian Santa will be given to two lucky people who comment on this blog post. The winners will be announced next Friday, 12/5,  here on Writ of Whimsy.

(Be sure to leave the name of your blog, a link to your website, a twitter tag, etc. so I can contact you if you happen to be a winner!)

    Best wishes for a holiday season filled with hope and joy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Raconteur - (n.)

a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way.

Example: Every year during the holidays, Grandpa Joe becomes a real raconteur of tales from his childhood.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

Greenglass House
by Kate Milford

Amazon Description:
It's wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler's inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo's home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House - and themselves.

My Thoughts:
This well-written middle grade novel has complex character development and a plot with lots of twists and turns. The settings Ms. Milford created in her wintertime story - including the creepy old inn, and a cliffside tram - are wonderful. I would highly recommend Greenglass House to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Click here to learn more about the talented author, Kate Milford.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Back to Basics

In this digital age that offers all of us so many ways to save time, sometimes I find the old fashioned ways of crafting a story more to my liking. (Art by Michael Lindstrom - copyright 2014)

Pictured above is a dummy book for my middle grade fantasy novel: The Tale of Willaby Creek. I assembled my manuscript inside a "view binder" with the thought that jotting down notes and comments would be easier for my awesome beta reader - since she can do so on the blank sides of the pages. I'm hoping that the mock cover will give her a sense that she is reading a real book. (I "borrowed" this idea from a writer friend; I acted as one of his beta readers several years ago.)

While I have someone who acts as my editor, he uses the software that makes changes/comments in red directly on the electronic copy of my manuscript. I've never liked it, or gotten used to it, but I work with it. However, I'm well aware that I need to get on board with the current software available to writers today as I continue on my writer's journey.

The thing is, prior to sending it to an editor, I really enjoy the hands on approach to crafting a story. From penning a handwritten outline, to creating 3 X 5 inch character cards, to sketching a cover design that my talented husband brings to life after I've completed a manuscript. I find I'm much more in touch with my own story by doing these tasks, and it's great fun. Sometimes going back to basics is the best way!

Do you ever use old fashioned techniques when crafting your stories?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whiffet - (n.)

an insignificant person; a whippersnapper.

Example: The schoolmaster treated William like a little whiffet; he planned to prove the pompous man wrong.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

West of the Moon
by Margi Preus

Flap Copy Description:
When her aunt sells her to a cruel goat farmer, Astri is separated from her little sister for the first time since their father left to seek his fortune in America. Treated not much better than the goats she tends, Astri makes a daring escape and retrieves her sister, and together they set off, bound for a ship to reunite with their father.
Armed with a troll treasure, a book of spells and curses, and a possibly magic hairbrush, their company soon includes a mysterious companion who can spin straw into gold. With the malevolent "goatman" in pursuit, the threesome head over the Norwegian mountains, through field and forest, and in and out of folktales and dreams as they steadily make their way east of the sun and west of the moon.

My Thoughts:
West of the Moon has already created a buzz in the Kidlit community, so I wasn't surprised that I loved it. The award-winning author Margi Preus, has skillfully woven an enchanting tale that is part fiction, part folklore, and completely fantastic. One of the things I admire most about the book is the complexity of its main character: Astri. It is always a powerful element in a story to see how the protagonist transforms from the first act to the last. Bravo, Margi Preus!

To learn more about the author - a Newbery Honor Winner - click here:

Friday, November 14, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Diversity Questions

One of the most talked about topics in the Kidlit community these days is the need for diverse characters in children's books. I couldn't agree more. Whether it's diversity with regard to ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical challenges, or neurological conditions, young people need and deserve to see themselves in the books they read.

That being said, as writers it isn't as simple as it might sound to accomplish that in our stories. It brings to mind several questions:
1- Is it appropriate to write/create a Black, Asian, or Native American protagonist (or any other person of color) if you're not of that ethnicity?
2- If you do attempt to include a character with one of the diversities mentioned in the first paragraph, how do you avoid stereotyping?
3- Is it beneficial to young readers to create diverse characters in our stories just to be politically correct?
4- Shouldn't the story dictate what kind of character we create?

These are just a few of the questions that come to my own mind.

However, just because there are a plethora of issues as to how and when to include diverse characters in our stories, that doesn't mean we shouldn't take the path to enlightenment with regard to this issue. Since one of the middle grade novels I've written includes a secondary character of Chinese descent, I am personally interested in learning as much as I can about this issue. My goal is to create a character that will very much resonate with girls of Chinese descent. The last thing I want to do is to represent an ethnic group in a stereotypical fashion.

One of my very favorite children's authors - Grace Lin - is a member of an advisory committee for We Need Diverse Books. Check out their official campaign site: This wonderful website offers resources, news, interviews, and other opportunities to educate ourselves about diverse books, as well as ways to get involved.

If we are truly committed to accomplishing the goal of giving young readers books that effectively reflect their own individual experiences, then we must support this movement and learn as much as possible.

As a writer, what are your thoughts on this important subject?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Solivagant (n.) -

a solitary adventurer; someone who wanders or travels alone.
Example: The young solivagant found solace in the long quiet hours of his journey.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Deep and Snowy Wood
by Elwyn Tate

Amazon Description:
A deer, a squirrel, and a mole know a secret.
They know that once a year a very special person pays a brief visit to the Deep and Snowy wood. Who could this special person be?
My Thoughts:
This beautifully illustrated picture book is told in rhyme and tells the tale of three animals that journey through the wood. The rest of the forest friends are curious, and so, follow the three main characters to discover what they know. The Deep and Snowy Wood is the perfect holiday/winter tale for any little person in your life.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
   The Feat of Finding Balance

Finding balance as a writer is not a new topic for me - I've discussed it on this blog before. However, as I mentioned on Writ of Whimsy a couple of weeks ago, now that I have a book to promote, the feat of finding balance has just become that much more difficult! It's not just a matter of finding a balance with my time, but finding a balance inside myself. Writing, for me, comes from the dominant introverted side of my personality. Marketing is definitely an activity for an extrovert, and something with which I have little experience.

Here is a list of strategies I've come up with to help me find balance:

1- Take baby steps. Many well-meaning people have given me numerous suggestions on when and where to market The Scandinavian Santa. If I attempted to accomplish all the tips I've received I'd be a nervous wreck! Thankfully, since our book is meant for Christmastime, we'll have the opportunity to promote it each year. Consequently, even though I've scheduled several book signings, many opportunities will just have to wait until next year. Taking baby steps with the promotion of my book, is helping me to stay inside myself.
 2- Enjoy the journey. Even though the whole idea is to sell my book, I still want to savor this special time of my life. Therefore, I'm attempting to schedule activities that will include the presence of family and friends whenever possible. It's more important to me that I have quality of life, than to sell a few more books, and then feel frazzled.
3- Maintain "life as usual" as much as possible. This point is the one I'm finding difficult right now. I'm a person that likes living with a routine (I'm also a plotter - no surprise there!), so the new tasks that have been added to my life have challenged me. However, I'm already realizing that it's just another opportunity to better utilize my time. Reading and blogging are activities I'm committed to maintaining. They not only enhance my life as an author, they seem to give me a sense of satisfaction, and keep me up to date on children's literature.
4- Maintaining "fun time" in my life. Since my husband has a full-time day job, and is also extremely active as an artist, making time for evenings out can be difficult. However, we both know how much we need it, even if it's just a trip to Starbucks. Our time together is not only great for our relationship, it also helps each of us clear our mind, and to feel rejuvenated.
5- Write, write, write! While it would be easy to tell myself that now is the time to market, and that I can write later, I know that would not be healthy. My word counts have gone down, but I know I must keep moving forward. I've worked too hard at gaining my "writing muscle" to let it atrophy. It's more about writing every day, than turning our huge word counts.
6- Find time for friends. This too is a challenge. I'm just beginning to realize that contrary to my pre-publication days, when it was easy to see my friends, now I must find the time and make them a priority. It's imperative that I do, or I could risk losing touch with the very people who have supported me in my personal life, as well as my life as a writer. As mentioned above, maintaining a quality of life - which includes my friends - is more important than selling a few more books.
7- Meditation and Prayer. Although  I don't believe I've ever mentioned meditation or prayer on my blog before, they have been a part of my life for decades. I'll not get into religion on this blog, but suffice it to say, we each need a method of centering ourselves - whatever our belief systems might be.

While the tips I've listed could easily require more of my time, I'm finding that attempting to fulfill them is forcing me to just make better use of my time. (We've all experienced accomplishing more on an already super busy day, than on a day that had empty spaces of time when we could have done more.) Even the challenges of working at typically extroverted tasks - like marketing - are becoming easier.

Albert Einstein said, "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." I first heard this quote years ago, and have been attempting to implement its truth into my life ever since. So many challenges in our lives could be overcome just by continuing to move forward - even when we don't feel like it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Pericope - (n.)

a set of verses that forms one coherent unit or thought; an extract from a text.
Example: The preamble to the United States Constitution is a powerful pericope.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

Mister Max -
The Book of Secrets
by Cynthia Voigt

Flap Copy Description:
Who is setting fires in the old city?
Who is smashing store windows? And breaking down doors? And overturning carts?
Why won't the shopkeepers talk to the police?
What's the big secret?
These are the questions the Mayor of Queensbridge puts to Mister Max, Solutioneer.

Max understands that where there are secrets, there's usually trouble. He's keeping quite a few secrets himself. (Like the fact that he's really a twelve-year-old detective in disguise. And that his parents are still missing.)
The Mayor's problem will be the most dangerous one Max has taken on so far, but Max thinks he can find a solution. The trick will be to catch the vandals before they catch him...

My Thoughts:
This is the second book in Cynthia Voigt's middle grade trilogy about Max Starling. Ms. Voigt is an Newbery Medalist and her talent as a master storyteller is once again on display in this entertaining and well-written novel. While the first book - Mister Max ~ The Book of Lost Things - dealt with the protagonist's struggle to survive after the disappearance of his parents, in the sequel we see Max come into his own as a young detective. I would highly recommend Mister Max ~ The Book of Secrets to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

To learn more about the award-winning author - Cynthia Voigt - click here:

Saturday, November 1, 2014


The book blitz that was featured last week for my debut children's book, The Scandinavian Santa, was a rousing success. Thanks to all the host bloggers and participants for creating a buzz about my book!

Without further ado, here are the winners:

$25.00 Amazon Gift Card: Kelly McCord

Signed copy of The Scandinavian Santa: Amanda S.

Electronic copy of The Scandinavian Santa: Ana Duarte

$10.00  Amazon Gift Card for a Host Blogger: Jill O'Sullivan

Congratulations to all the lucky winners! A super special thank you to Kriston Johnson for organizing the book blitz - you're the best! Thanks to all the other book lovers that participated too. I'll be featuring at least one more giveaway of The Scandinavian Santa in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter pages if you'd like another chance to win a copy of this magical holiday tale!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Reflections on Fear
Fear can take hold in the heart of an otherwise courageous soul. Whether it creeps in as a dark creature, the threat of danger, or just a feeling that causes tremors to trickle up and down your spine, fear can find you.

For me, it's usually something much more mundane. The fear of failure or the fear of rejection can buckle me at the knees and cause my bones to quake quicker than any horror movie I've ever seen. (Not that I like horror movies, they freak me out too!) You might be thinking to yourself: Failure and rejection are just part of the territory for an author. What is she doing being a writer? Believe me, I've asked myself that very question many times. Prior to pursuing a life as a full-time writer I had created a life for myself that I thought contained the least amount of risk for failure and rejection. But guess what...I experienced both dilemmas anyway. So when I set out on my storyteller's journey I was already aware that I was embarking on a path that would probably present the deadly duo of failure and rejection again. The thing is, somewhere along my journey as a writer I realized that I was developing an emotional muscle I'd never ever had. I also learned that I was not alone in my phobias; if not most, at least many writers share the same fears. I've tasted failure and rejection as a writer many times (duh!), but becoming a master weaver of whimsical tales for children is how I want to spend the rest of my life. However, the biggest reason I continue my storyteller's journey amidst fear-laden challenges is best conveyed by this quote:

      "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."  
                                                                      Joseph Campbell

Public Domain Photo 
The fact that fear is the gatekeeper to anything worth having, is made spooky when we realize that almost without exception, the "scary monster" standing at the door to our dreams seems to always be the one that frightens us the most. That is one of the real mysteries of life.

   May you vanquish all the ghouls and goblins in your own life.
                                       Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Lycanthrope - (n.)

a werewolf.

The wise old professor was not only a werewolf, he was the leader of the lycanthropes.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

Mercy Watson
Princess in Disguise

Amazon Description:
Can visions of treats entice a porcine wonder to wear her princess costume? Hold on for some Halloween havoc, Mercy Watson-style!

When the Watsons decide to zip their porcine wonder into a formfitting princess dress for Halloween — complete with tiara — they are certain that Mercy will be beautiful beyond compare. Mercy is equally certain she likes the sound of trick-or-TREATING and can picture those piles of buttered toast already. As for the Lincoln Sisters next door, how could they know that their cat would get into the act and lead them all on a Halloween "parade" of hysterical proportions? Kate DiCamillo’s beguiling pig is back in a tale full of treats, tricky turns, hijinks, and high humor.

My Thoughts:

When I looked for a book to feature for Halloween week, I knew I'd found a winner with Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson - Princess in Disguise. In this illustrated short story we are once again entertained with one of the funniest characters Ms. DiCamillo has ever concocted: the imprudent pig, Mercy Watson. Kate DiCamillo's use of fun and interesting animals in her numerous tales for children is something I love and admire. Suffice it to say, Mercy Watson - Princess in Disguise is the perfect Halloween read for any little ghoul or goblin in your life!

To learn more about Kate DiCamillo - multiple Newbery Medal winner and the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature - click here:

Monday, October 20, 2014


Hello, book lovers. My friend and critique partner, Kriston Johnson, is promoting the event listed below. We'd love for you to participate!

Thank you for stopping by The Scandinavian Santa book blitz. This yuletide tale was written by Victoria Lindstrom, and illustrated by her husband, Michael Lindstrom. Be sure to check out the giveaway below!

Publication date: Sept 16th 2014
Published by: Deeds Publishing
Genre: Animal fantasy, Christmas.

Journey to the enchanted land of Scandinavia, where, nestled in the Nordic Forest, lives Santa Swanson. Each winter, this nephew of St. Nicholas has his own Christmas Eve delivery to make—but what that is and to whom has long been hidden. With the help of two mischievous flying polar bears, Gunnar and Ludvig; a rescued golden eagle, Lars; and a host of other whimsical creatures; Santa Swanson prepares for his annual sleigh ride down Viking Valley! Delight in this yuletide adventure complete with a fanciful ice skating party, a rustic holiday feast, and an unexpected reunion with Santa Swanson's famous uncle. In the midst of all this wonder, the forest friends learn a heartwarming secret from a Christmas angel revealing the magic of generosity.

Available to purchase from Amazon and Apple Ibooks.
You can add it to Goodreads.
Visit Victoria's website.

Victoria Lindstrom was born in Southern California and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. In 2014, her first book, The Scandinavian Santa, was published with artistic contributions by her husband, fine artist Michael Lindstrom. Prior to becoming a full time writer, Victoria earned a degree in Dental Hygiene from Clark College in Vancouver, WA. She and her husband live in Washington State where they are active advocates for the arts in their community.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 17, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo by Lilla Frerichs
Bend in the Road

When I began blogging over three years ago I was a novice writer who had only been seriously writing for a few years at the time.

I chose to call my main post/meme of the week Storyteller's Journey to signify I would be blogging about my experiences as a writer, and not necessarily my abilities as an aspiring author. In retrospect, I'm really glad I had the foresight to do that since even though I've now had a book published, there is still so much to learn, and so many ways I can improve. I've discovered that consistent blogging helps me to stay disciplined, which for me, is a big part of being a writer. Writ of Whimsy has become a journal not only of my life as a writer, but in some ways, my personal life as well. The word storyteller seems to span the experience of writer and author alike. It also reminds me of the reason I began this journey in the first place: my passion for creating whimsical tales for young readers - but also, my own lifelong love of children's books, and the stories and poems they contain.

That being said, my storyteller's journey is at a bend in the road. Adding the new role of "published author" to  "writer in the trenches" is already presenting challenges to an introvert like me. The need to speak publicly, sign books, and promote The Scandinavian Santa, are all social activities. While I truly love people, I also require large amounts of time in my creative cave not only to write, but to recharge my soul. Consequently, finding a balance between writing and marketing will be an ongoing process. Finding that balance is only one of the many new challenges that are crossing my path right now. Therefore, in the coming weeks I'll post about the numerous other challenges I'm sure I'll encounter as a newly-published author.

My posts in Writ of Whimsy will continue to reflect my experience as a writer, but now, also as a published author. If I had to pick one thing that I've learned so far with regard to marketing, it would be the importance of having a great online presence prior to publication. While we've all heard that advice numerous times, now that I'm published I see why it's so often recommended. Once my book was released on September 16th, I immediately began marketing it. Our local library, bookstores in the area, and individuals in the Kidlit world, looked not only at my book, but at my website. The reason I know that is because they told me! I've received several invitations for book signings and/or author visits. In nearly every case, the contact person has mentioned my website - (my web designer is Since I have decent Facebook and Twitter accounts, they, too, have proven to be beneficial in getting the word out about my book. (Since The Scandinavian Santa is a holiday tale, I have no time to waste!)

While obtaining agent representation and/or publication may be somewhat out of a writer's control, there are numerous other things we can do to prepare for life as a published author ahead of time. Gaining a great online presence is just one of the many things a writer can work on prior to that time. (Obviously an aspiring author would never want to neglect writing and reading!)

And, since I'm talking about a writer's online presence, be sure and check out Writ of Whimsy next week. My friend and critique partner, Kriston Johnson, has organized a book blitz with other bloggers for The Scandinavian Santa with lots of opportunities to win prizes.

As always, thanks to my blogging buddies. Happy writing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dilettantism - (n.)

a lack of the level of skill associated with an expert or professional.

Example: The talented artist was wrongly accused of dilettantism since he'd not attended art school.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

The Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier

Flap Copy Description:
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its inhabitants are not quite what they seem. Soon, the children are confronted by a mysterious stranger - and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives.

My Thoughts:
If you're looking for a creepy Victorian ghost story to read before Halloween, The Night Gardener just might be the book for you. I was delighted to discover this well-written upper middle grade novel with shades of Stefan Bachmann, Charles Dickens, and even Edgar Allan Poe. Since the protagonist of Mr. Auxier's novel is a storyteller, it was no surprise that the author is himself a master bard. I'm anxiously awaiting the next novel by Jonathan Auxier and I highly recommend The Night Gardener to readers from the ages of eight to eighty.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

Great-grandfather Peter Swanson
A Door to the Past

When I set out to write my children's book, The Scandinavian Santa, I was inspired by the stories I remembered hearing from my mother about Peter Swanson - her maternal grandfather, my great-grandfather, who immigrated to the United States from Norway.

However, like many Americans, my family tree has branches that originate from a number of places. My mother is Norwegian and Welsh, while my father is French and Italian. I have always identified most with my French-Italian heritage - I suppose since my family name, Cardon, is French. Another reason is that although my Norwegian grandmother lived only a few miles away when I was growing up, most of my other Norwegian relatives lived hours away in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. I had lost contact with those family members in my early twenties. Consequently, when I began to write the first draft of my yuletide tale, I realized very quickly that even though I was one quarter Norwegian, my knowledge of the Scandinavian culture was limited. I needed to do major research to make my short story, set in the land of Northern Lights, rich with believable details.

After the release of The Scandinavian Santa on September 16th, I decided to take a day trip to Poulsbo, Washington - known as "Little Norway." The small community was the place that my great-grandfather had settled when he came to the States. I knew that I probably still had relatives in the area, but I had not been in touch with any of them in over thirty years! My mother informed me that my cousin Jill still lived there. That was great news, since Jill and I had birthdays just two months apart, and had once been close when we were very young girls. I also wanted to contact a wonderful independent bookstore in Poulsbo - Liberty Bay Books - since they feature a section of Scandinavian books in their shop.

So I nervously contacted Jill and we set up a luncheon date. We would meet after I had spoken to the owner of Liberty Bay Books. Little did I know that meeting with Jill would have such a dramatic effect upon me.

Victoria (L) and Jill (R)
When we met at J J's Fish House in Poulsbo, she was already seated in a booth waiting for me. I recognized Jill immediately, even though I had not seen her for decades. The last time I can recall actually visiting her, was when I was twelve years old.
(I did attend her wedding years later, but only to extend my congratulations.) Life had taken twists and turns for both of us, and strangely, our lives had taken similar paths. We'd both been married, divorced, and then married to the love of our lives. We both have children who we are extremely proud of, and we both love to travel.

The time went by much too quickly, but in the short time we had that afternoon, we laughed, and cried, and shared memories. I had not only reconnected to my Norwegian side of the family, I had reconnected to a very special cousin. I could lament the time I've lost not maintaining a relationship with Jill, but we both agreed: life has its own perfect timing.

Jill and I are now contemplating a pilgrimage to Froyo, Norway - the village that was once home to our great-grandfather, Peter Swanson.

As writers, we know that writing a story can often open a door to another world for our readers. However, I never ever would have imagined that writing a book would open a door to my very own past.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Whimsical Word of the Week

Vagary - (n.)
an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone's behavior.
Example: When her husband returned from the war the woman had to adjust to the vagary in his personality.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bibliophile's Corner

Frank Einstein
and the Antimatter Motor
written by Jon Scieszka and
illustrated by Brian Biggs

Amazon Description:
Frank Einstein loves figuring out how the world works by creating household contraptions that are part science, part imagination, and definitely unusual. After an uneventful experiment in his garage-lab, a lightning storm and flash of electricity bring Frank's inventions - the robots Klink and Klank - to life! Not exactly the ideal lab partners, the wisecracking Klink and the overly expressive Klank nonetheless help Frank attempt to perfect his Antimatter Motor...until Frank's archnemesis, T. Edison, steals Klink and Klank for his evil doomsday plan!

My Thoughts:
Mr. Scieszka has created a fun and zany middle grade novel where science and robotics take center stage. As I read this hilarious book - with awesome illustrations by Brian Biggs - it reminded me of the 1999 movie, Inspector Gadget, starring Matthew Broderick. This well-written and extraordinary story contains enough scientific terms to satisfy the most committed nerd, while being so entertaining it will entice even the most reluctant of readers. I would highly recommend Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

The Bliss of Beautiful Books

During the process of collaborating with the publisher of The Scandinavian Santa, I discovered that the look of my book was just as important as its story. I know most authors are super excited to see their cover, as was I, but it went beyond that. I wanted the quality of the paper to be just so, I wanted the fonts & colors of my book to be just so, and on and on.

I've always enjoyed having books displayed in nearly every room of our home. I use them like an interior decorator would use expensive sculptures. One thing I've discovered is that some of the most beautiful books I own, came not from a bookstore, but from a museum or specialty shop. Museums treat an entire book like a piece of art, and rightfully so. Specialty shops sometimes carry beautiful gems not found in chain bookstores.

The Race of the Birkebeiners, by Lise Lunge-Larsen was illustrated by Mary Azarian. I found this book in a small Scandinavian specialty shop, and fell in love with it. The story is a retelling of a Norwegian event from the eleventh century. However, I'll admit, I purchased it because the entire book is just so beautiful! It also would be considered a comp book for my children's book: The Scandinavian Santa. This book sits in our dining room.

The Barefoot Book of CLASSIC POEMS was compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris - I purchased it at the Portland Art Museum. This is one of my very favorite books for a number of reasons: 1- It's a children's book,
2- The illustrations are some of the most beautiful I've ever seen,
3- It's a book of poems. This book sits next to Lise Lunge-Larsen's book in our dining room. I pick it up and peruse through it at least once a week; it is that extraordinary! The first poem in this beautiful book expresses a lovely truth:

                                                      A Book

                                     There is no frigate like a book
                                     To take us lands away,
                                     Nor any coursers like a page
                                     Of prancing poetry,
                                     This traverse may the poorest take
                                     Without oppress of toll;
                                     How frugal is the chariot
                                     That bears a human soul!
                                                                              Emily Dickinson

Children's books have the unique ability to blend fine art with literature in a way that can create an extraordinary object that is not only lovely, but inspiring. The bliss of beautiful books.