Friday, February 27, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

An Amazing Gift

Last Christmas we received a copy of The Writer's Brush from a dear friend. Little did I know how much that book would inspire me. The amazing artwork of famous, iconic authors is included in the beautiful book.

For example: Hans Christian Andersen, Rudyard Kipling, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and Mark Twain just to name a few. What so inspired me was the fact that while there are many drawings and paintings in the book that highlight real artistic talent, many do not. What the book reveals is that the creativity of these authors could not be confined to their words alone - they felt compelled to paint, draw, and sketch.

As many of you know, my husband is an oil painter; we host a monthly meeting for artists in our home - the Columbia River Art Group. I've grown very fond of each member of the group, and have learned a lot just by being a casual observer. However, after receiving this book I thought: Why not participate? It's not like I intend to become a professional oil painter, but surely I can sketch, doodle, and scribble. What a great way to leave a visual diary of my creative journey.

So, I mentioned my desire to the group and they were thrilled with the idea. One of the members of CRAG is also not an oil painter (he's married to one), but he is a professional photographer. He recently began sharing his photography with the group, so that also gave me the motivation to make my own request. We've hosted this group for a couple of years now, so there is a lot of trust between each of us.
I'll be sure to show you a few of my creations in the coming months.

Below is the flap copy description for The Writer's Brush
by Donald Friedman - With essays by William H. Gass & John Updike

"The itch to make dark marks on paper is shared by many writers and artists," begins John Updike in his essay in The Writer's Brush, and this stunning collection will amaze lovers of the literary and fine arts alike. Author Donald Friedman has gathered 400 paintings, drawings, and sculpture--many from private collections, never before published--by more than 200 of the world's most famous writers, including 13 Nobel laureates.

The result is astounding. Whether viewing the beautiful landscapes that Hermann Hesse credited with saving his life, the manuscript sketches that Fyodor Dostoevsky made of his characters, or the can-can dancers secretly drawn by Joseph Conrad, readers of The Writer's Brush will gain new insights into the lives and minds of their favorite writers and the nature of the creative process itself.

Accompanying the artwork are fascinating biographies that provide little-known details of the writers' lives in the visual arts and offer the writers' own observations on their art and the relationships they saw between word and image. While written for a broad audience, The Writer's Brush is also an essential reference work, with alphabetical and chronological listings of its subjects and an extensive bibliography.

As Friedman notes in his introduction, for many of the writers anthologized here, a coin toss could have determined whether to spend the day standing in a smock or seated with a pen. The Writer's Brush brings together for the first time--in one unique, affordable volume--both worlds of these writers in the definitive work of the writer-artist.

May this post inspire you to pursue your creativity - wherever it leads!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Cathect - (v.)

to concentrate psychological or emotional energy on something such as an object, idea, or person.
Example: The reclusive man chose to cathect with his collection of books, rather than venturing out to meet people.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Amazon Description:
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

My Thoughts:
Since Brown Girl Dreaming won a National Book Award in 2014, and recently won the Coretta Scott King Award, a Robert F. Sibert Honor, and a Newbery Honor as well, there is little left to say. Whether you read or write, are black or white, aged eight or eighty, Ms. Jacqueline Woodson's novel in verse is one that should not be missed. The complex history of our country, as well as the heart of the protagonist - Jacqueline, will be something you'll not soon forget.

Click here to learn about the author, Jacqueline Woodson.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

  Unexpected Inspiration

Ever since my husband and I returned from our trip to Europe last summer, completely new story ideas have been meandering through my mind. And of course, they include anthropomorphic animals!
Then, last December when we received the lovely holiday card shown on the left, one story idea began to truly take shape; or in this case...shapeshift.  The working title for my W.I.P. is Journey to Snowdonia.

This new story, set in Wales, is slated to be another picture book, similar in format to my debut book, The Scandinavian Santa.

I'll not yet reveal anything else about the story since it's still somewhat "in the cooker," but suffice it to say, that the holiday card provided me with an amazing amount of unexpected inspiration. It was a great reminder of how important it is to keep your eyes and ears open - you never know where you just might receive inspiration for a new story.
Here's a short list of ordinary, & extraordinary, sources for inspiration:
* Books
*Childhood memories
*Strange or inspiring experiences
*Your favorite passion (Music, knitting, etc.)
*Museums and art galleries
*Department, boutique, or grocery stores
*Holiday cards
*Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
*An apple core (Or other object.)
*Etc. Etc. Etc.
You get the idea...a writer's inspiration can come from anywhere!
What unusual sources have provided you with unexpected inspiration?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Velleity (n.) -

a wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.

Example: The athlete's desire to go to the Olympics was really nothing more than a velleity since he declined to train appropriately.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
by Leslye Walton

Amazon Description:
Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

My Thoughts:
This extraordinary YA novel by debut author Leslye Walton was recently honored as a William C. Morris finalist. It's been a while since I've read a book from cover to cover not wanting to put it down, but The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was one of those novels! Its imaginative, poignant plot was only surpassed by the author's lyrical, whimsical writing. I highly recommend The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender to readers aged twelve and up.

Click here to learn more about the author, Leslye Walton.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

How Do You Write the Word LOVE?

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, my mind has wandered to synonyms for the word Love. When I opened my thesaurus, I was surprised to see a shorter list than I would have expected for such an important word.

As I perused down the page I realized that English can be a somewhat limited language for a writer when it comes to available choices for certain nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.

Here's the list of other words a writer can use for the word Love: 

Nouns: accord, affection, beloved, benevolence, endearment, friendship, liking, regards, sexuality, virtue.
Verbs: be fond of, desire, enjoy, have deep feelings, savor.

I have a difficult time believing that the English language is limited to the above choices for the word Love - and they're not even synonyms! However, according to my Roget's International Thesaurus, that's it.

This is a great lesson as to why we're admonished to show, not tell: We have so few choices anyway! But seriously, the feelings we each have when we give, or receive love, are as individual as the candies in a box of chocolates. (Excuse the cliché.) Penning the sensory feelings that change in a person's being when she experiences love will always be the writer's best method to infuse emotion into her manuscripts.

And lastly, just in case you're wondering how to write the word Love
in another language, click here for one hundred translations.

               Happy writing, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Cordiform -

(adj.) heart-shaped.

Example: The young mother baked cordiform cookies for her children on Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

Rain Reign
by Ann M. Martin

Amazon Description:
Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

My Thoughts:
This wonderful novel by Ann M. Martin recently won the Schneider Family Book Award - a high honor. The protagonist Rose, is a young girl with high functioning Asperger's syndrome, and boy did the author nail the voice. At times this well-written novel was difficult for me to read - I could feel the protagonist's pain so deeply. I highly recommend Rain Reign to readers from the ages of eight to twelve, and also to anyone who has a family member or friend who deals with Asperger's.

Click here to learn more about the author, Ann M. Martin.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

   Four Years!

It's hard to believe that this weekend marks my blog's fourth anniversary. As anyone who's blogged for a lengthy amount of time knows, it takes a lot to just keep going.

My motivation to blog has changed through the years, but one thing still holds true: I blog just as much for myself, as for others.
Writ of Whimsy really has been a record of my storyteller's journey.

On my first couple of blog anniversaries I gave out small gifts to a few blogging buddies. Last year I decided to discontinue that practice (even though I appreciate my fellow bloggers) and make a donation instead. This year in honor of my milestone I again decided to make a contribution to a charitable organization. This year's worthy recipient is: Ventana Sierra. This amazing nonprofit service aims to help young people in need and was founded by the NY Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins. Click here if you'd like to join me in making a donation.

Thanks so much to all the wonderful bloggers I've met over the years! Your friendship, support, and wisdom have kept me going on my storyteller's journey, and also helped me become a published author.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sweven - (n.)

a dream or vision experienced in sleep.

Example: The young maiden awoke in a sweat after experiencing a most frightening sweven.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

The Way to Stay in Destiny
by Augusta Scattergood

Flap Copy Description:
When Theo gets off a bus in Destiny, Florida, he's left behind the only life he's ever known. Now he's got to live with Uncle Raymond, a Vietnam War vet and a loner who wants nothing to do with this long-lost nephew. Thank goodness for Miss Sister Grandersole's Rooming House and Dance Academy. The piano that sits in Miss Sister's dance hall calls to Theo. He can't wait to play those ivory keys. When Anabel arrives, things get even more enticing. This feisty girl, a baseball fanatic, invites Theo on her quest to uncover the town's connection to old-time ballplayers rumored to have lived there years before. A mystery, an adventure, and a musical exploration unfold as this town called Destiny lives up to its name.

My Thoughts:
Augusta Scattergood's recently released middle grade novel - The Way to Stay in Destiny - is fantastic. The author has a beautiful storytelling style that reminds me of the great Kate DiCamillo. I lost myself in this novel with the heat of Florida, the smell of the Gulf Coast, and the culture of the seventies. What was most amazing was the way Ms. Scattergood hooked me on Theo - her main character - with his pain, his shame, and his tenacious spirit. I highly recommend The Way to Stay in Destiny to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Augusta Scattergood.