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!