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.