Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Tautology - (n.)
the saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style.
Example: The author's work was an unfortunate lesson in tautology due to her redundant writing.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

An Interview with Kriston Johnson
Author of The Legends of Elyndia

It is with great pleasure that I feature the author Kriston Johnson as my guest author today. Kriston's most recent novel - Ensnared - in her Legends of Elyndia Series, just released earlier this month.

Before we get to my interview, here is the gorgeous cover and flap copy description of the latest book in her young adult fantasy series:

Facing monstrous demons, a ravenous dragon, and a malicious faerie queen are the least of Jade’s worries.

It has been a fortnight since Jade confronted Draven, and he has emerged from the battle more terrifying than ever. Armed with a new plan and fueled with unrelenting determination, Draven casts a dark spell and calls forth new players that no one ever expected, bringing him one step closer to opening the portal to The Fathom.

Jade vows to bring an end to the madness she feels responsible for and works to harness her elemental power, but unforeseen consequences arise. Her power is growing beyond what she can control, and it’s on the verge of destroying her from within.

Was learning to use her magical ability the beginning…or the beginning of the end?

                                         *     *     *     *     *

VL - Welcome to Writ of Whimsy, Kriston! Before we proceed with the interview, I feel we should let our blogging buddies know - if they don't already know - that we've been writer friends for years. That being said, I couldn't be more excited to have you as my guest author today.

KJ - Thank you for having me, Victoria. It’s been quite a journey since we first met and were both aspiring authors, yet we lived to tell the tale!

VL - What inspired you to write The Legends of Elyndia Series?

KJSeveral years ago I witnessed my husband receive an antique knife as a gift. The knife is of Egyptian origin with a copper colored blade covered with a tattered sheath. He carefully grasped the sheath and slowly pulled it off of the blade. As he did this I imagined a glowing light emanating from the blade, filling the entire room as if a wave of magic had been released. From that moment on the world of Elyndia came to life, and I focused the story around a magical dagger and the young lady who controlled it.

VL - You seem to have a passion for writing (and reading) fantasy, Kriston. Where did that originate?

KJ I have been fascinated by fantasy stories since I was a young child. I cannot remember a time that I was not drawn to magical and make believe worlds. As a young person I would always beg my mom to rent The Dark Crystal and The Last Unicorn. I’d watch them over and over until they had to go back to the rental store. I can’t ever remember a time that I was not obsessed with Star Wars, and these obsessions have just followed me t
hrough life.
VL - What is one of the most important things you've learned on your storyteller's journey?

KJ – One of the most important things I’ve learned is the balance between writing life and family life. So I guess I’d have to say…to always be in the moment. If you're writing, don’t feel guilty about what you're missing out on. And when you’re relaxing don’t feel pressed to go write. Otherwise you will fail at both. Make a schedule and stick to it.

VL - What is your work in progress, Kriston?

KJ – I am working on a story about a young woman who is falsely accused of killing her father, the Chieftain of her clan, and finds herself tied to the mast of a warship set ablaze. She narrowly escapes and we follow her journey while she tries to prove her innocence, and looks for a way to save the people she was forced to leave behind.  We actually meet her in Ensnared. Her name is Linnea. 

VL - That sounds like a fascinating story! What advice would you give to a novice writer?

KJ – I would tell them not to let another writer’s success, or failures, keep them from following their dreams. It is so easy to watch someone that you feel is successful sell tons of books, and interact with legions of fans, then wonder why you don’t have the same thing yourself. It is also easy to watch someone fail, then think if they can’t do it, how can you expect to. Everyone’s success comes at different times in life, and sometimes it take years to get established, or write that special story that is going to catch on. Don’t get discouraged, if you quit, you’ll never know what could have happened. You must persevere!
VL - Great advice, Kriston. Thanks for being my guest author today on Writ of Whimsy!
       Here are the online sites where you can visit Kriston Johnson:
                  Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  Amazon

Kriston is also the founder and owner of an interior book design and formatting company called Tattered Page Ink.  Facebook  Twitter

Friday, September 25, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

A Writer's Voice

If you've been a serious writer at least a few years, you are well aware of the importance of discovering your own voice, your own style of writing. That being said, it's not as easy as one might think!
(Photos: Public Domain)

Here's a definition of a Writer's Voice: The writer's voice is the individual writing style of an author, a combination of their common usage of syntax, diction, punctuation, character development, dialogue, etc., within a given body of text (or across several works).

While that definition seems easy enough, if you're a new writer (like I was eight years ago), then you're constantly thinking of the rules of writing; it feels like you don't have the luxury to discover your voice just yet. Consequently the quote above could have seemed frightening to someone like me, having only started seriously writing in 2007.

The thing I did have at my disposal back then was time. Time to write as fast and as frequently as I desired. So that's what I did. I wrote like I had to make up for lost time, which in a sense was true. (But that's a topic for another post.) In the process I began to see that just because someone says they've been a writer for umpteen years, doesn't mean they're an expert writer - we're all on our own storyteller's journey. As that truth dawned on me, I felt less frustrated at being a "late bloomer."

What has happened in the last eight years, is that while I am by no means a veteran writer, I do feel comfortable with the rules of writing. (One of them is to have an editor!!) Only recently do I feel I have begun to see my voice emerge on the pages of my manuscripts. It has taken years. The thing is, I believe my writer's voice will keep evolving over time. However, I no longer find myself thinking of rules while I write; I'm thinking about my protagonist's thoughts, her challenges, her journey.

       This quote sums up the journey all creative souls should take:

Have you discovered your writer's voice yet?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ambit - (n.)
the scope, extent, or bounds of something.
Example: The ambit of the enemies' aggressions went on for years.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

Can You Say Peace?
by Karen Katz

Flap Copy Description:
Children everywhere wish for peace.

International Peace Day is September 21. On this day and every day throughout the year, children all over the world wish for peace. Karen Katz takes readers on a bright and colorful journey around the globe to meet some of these children and learn about the many ways to say peace!

My Thoughts:
The inspiring Can You Say Peace? was written and illustrated by Karen Katz - what a find! This delightful little book would be perfect for parents or teachers to introduce the topic of peace to little ones.

           Happy International Peace Day!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

The Rhythm of a Literary Life

As summer officially draws to a close I find myself ready to hunker down and feverishly write.
It seems I feel the same way every autumn. Why is that?
When I reflect upon the months and seasons of a year, I find that certain behaviors seem to occur during certain months. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the moon, or maybe it's the fact that I am part of Nature and am more affected by the seasons of life than I realize.
Photo courtesy of the Public Domain.

Here's a list of the seasons and my corresponding behaviors:

Autumn - Staying indoors in general, which includes: Reading, researching, and writing. (Usually I'm writing a new outline and first draft at this time.) For my non-literary activities: cleaning the house and entertaining guests seems to occur most this time of year. And of course, watching the Seahawks on TV!

Winter - My behavior during this season is much the same as in the fall, with the exception that we tend to seek out a warmer climate during the winter. This is usually the time we visit my family in Arizona. Celebrating during the holiday season is something I thoroughly enjoy. I also make a plan for the following year during the month of December for not only my life as an author, but for our personal life.

Spring - Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I anxiously anticipate the end of the cold and rainy months - which means I can get out in my garden! Planting new flowers, weeding, and tidying up the yard in general are all activities I enjoy immensely. As far as writing goes, it seems I usually find myself finishing up a project, or at the very least, a predetermined writing goal, this time of the year.

Summer - Ah, the season that is just concluding. Since becoming a published author I've discovered that this is the very best time to market my books - at least in person. There are numerous book fairs and festivals in the PNW; in fact, I was so busy this summer that I had a couple of opportunities I passed on. Other than the annual writers' retreat on Mt. Hood that I attend (where I usually get in 5000-6000 words), summer seems to be the season that I write "hit and miss." That being said, I accomplish a variety of things (like meeting other authors and selling books!) that are just as important to an author. And, since I read so many children's books during the year, summer seems to be the time that I catch up on reading books written for adults.
(The Wright Brothers by David McCullough was wonderful!)

When I viewed my writing habits in this manner, I realized that like the seasons, there is a rhythm to my literary life. Once I embraced that truth, I was more fulfilled and seemed to accomplish more as a writer than ever. It also relieved me from any guilt for not writing the same amount in the summer as I do in the fall. In addition to that, I never feel like I'm in a rut as a writer. It allows me the time to respond to my family, friends, and hobbies. That all contributes to making me a more happy and healthy individual.

                  Do you recognize a rhythm to your literary life?

~ Click here if you'd like to read my most recent quarterly newsletter.~

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ugsome - adj.
frightful; horrid; loathsome.

Example: The strict stepmother's treatment of her adopted daughter was ugsome.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

The Whisper
by Aaron Starmer

Flap Copy Description:
Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary has washed up on shore. But where? It seems to be Aquavania, the magical realm where children create entire worlds from their imagination. There’s something wrong, though. The creators have disappeared and the worlds are falling apart.

All Alistair wants is to find his friend Fiona Loomis and go home. Easier said than done. Animals made of starlight, a megalomaniacal boy king, and astronauts who peddle riddles are hard enough to outwit, but they’re only the beginning.

To find Fiona, Alistair must travel from world to world. He must confront the mistakes of his past. And he must face countless monsters, including the soul-stealing stalker that some people call the Riverman, the merciless but misunderstood servant of Aquavania who refers to himself as the Whisper.

My Thoughts:
The recently released The Whisper is the second book in Aaron Starmer's Riverman trilogy. The author again employs the wiles of his quirky protagonist Alistair, but the story is written in a much more abstract and imaginative style than the first novel. Multiple narratives, flashbacks, a complex plot, and a somewhat unresolved conclusion, make for a challenging, but satisfying read. What I truly love about this book is the way that Mr. Starmer respects his young readers to "get it," and refuses to explain every detail. I would recommend The Whisper to readers aged ten and up, and anxiously await the final book in this Riverman series.

Click here to learn more about the author Aaron Starmer.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Storyteller's Journey

      Stolen Sacred Stories
 Remembering Sept. 11, 2001

Last spring my husband and I traveled to New York City; while we were there we visited the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Like most Americans, I can vividly recall that tragic morning and what I was doing. What made it worse was the fact that we had family living in NYC. (After a very stressful day of being unable to get through to them, we later learned they were fine.)

Before entering the museum we walked around the sacred grounds, circling the twin reflecting pools with their beautiful waterfalls. As I ran the palm of my hand over a few of the names, what came to me was the fact that each victim had had their own unfinished story... it had been stolen.

By the time we entered the museum and found our way to the Memorial Hall I was already wiping the tears from my eyes. This quote by the poet Virgil reminded me that in the hearts and minds of the victims' families and friends - and all Americans - they will never be forgotten: No day shall erase you from the memory of time.

This is the Last Column that was removed from Ground Zero. It is thirty-six feet tall and weighs fifty-eight tons. It was removed from the World Trade Center recovery site on May 2, 2002 in a solemn ceremony. It had been signed by numerous first responders, recovery workers, volunteers, and victims' relatives. The heartfelt words inscribed on the column are a poignant tribute to the lives that were lost.

However, what hit me the hardest was the Slurry Wall that is next to the Last Column in the museum's Foundation Hall. It is a retaining wall from the foundation of the original World Trade Center that survived the devastation on Sept. 11, 2001.
This monument was extremely moving to both my husband and to me. Its raw beauty, and the knowledge that I was standing on sacred ground, was something I'll never forget.

As we began to leave the memorial grounds, we walked over to The Survivor Tree. This pear tree was something I'd learned about and was anxious to see. I was surprised to discover its diminutive size. After being severely damaged on that horrendous day, how had it managed to recover? For me this tree represents not only resilience and rebirth, but the strange way that in a catastrophe there are almost always extraordinary stories of survival.

Since last May I've had time to reflect on my visit to the 911 Memorial Museum, and what still stays with me is the fact that there is tremendous, abiding pain for the families and friends of the victims to endure - that they will always endure. However, the victims are gone forever. Their lives - and stories - will never be fully realized. When I ponder on the fact that I am still alive, able to love my family and friends, and can scribble down my stories, I feel so incredibly grateful.

Whether or not you are a writer, you still have your own human story. It might seem boring, or stressful, or unimaginably painful, but you're alive; you have the ability to choose your path - your story - everyday.

As writers, we have the right, and the responsibility, to allow the ink to flow from our pens onto the pages of our manuscripts. If you have trouble getting motivated to write, think of the victims of 911: Choose a name and write in their honor. Remember: their stories were stolen. Maybe if we all do that we are honoring them, and in a spiritual way, they are still becoming our muses for the tales we tell.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Whimsical Word of the Week

Haimish - adj.
possessing the warmth, comfort, and informality associated with somebody's own home.
Example: The medieval maiden kept a simple, but haimish home.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly

Flap Copy Description:
Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this charming follow-up to Newbery Honor–winner The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.

Callie's younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother's critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

Whether it's wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine.

My Thoughts:
The long-awaited sequel to Jacqueline Kelly's Newbery honor book - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - arrived in July, and what a masterpiece! The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate is every bit as phenomenal as its predecessor. Once again we are treated to the wit and wonder of Callie Vee - one of my all-time favorite female protagonists. Her brother Travis, as well as the rest of the remarkable cast of characters, add to the fun, making this book a must read for everyone. In addition to that, Ms. Kelly writes in a "voice" that would be the envy of any author. I highly recommend The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Jacqueline Kelly.

Friday, September 4, 2015

An Interview with Author Carol Riggs

I've chosen to feature an interview with my dear author friend, Carol Riggs, as my first blog post following the summer season. Carol's extraordinary young adult novel - The Body Institute - was just released this week!
But before we get to the interview, here is the awesome cover and description of Carol's debut young adult novel:

The Body Institute
Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute. 

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl’s body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body—leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches…

For one, Morgan won’t remember what happens in her “Loaner” body. Once she’s done, she won’t recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she’s been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it’s all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start…

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan’s mind. She’s feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti–Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she’ll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul…

Are we our minds...or our bodies? 
                                           *     *     *     *     *

VL - Welcome to Writ of Whimsy, Carol! It was wonderful meeting you at the SCBWI Oregon Fall Retreat in 2011. I'm so glad we've been able to keep in touch since then via the Internet.

CR - It was wonderful meeting you back then, too! The SCBWI is a perfect place to meet other writers and develop great friendships.

VL - Carol, how long have you been writing?

CR - Over 12 years. I took classes in high school and college, but I didn’t start writing steadily until 1993 when both my daughters started school. I wrote short stories, picture books, and novels; I amassed over 300 rejection slips and joined the SCBWI. Life intervened from 1999-2009, but I’ve been writing steadily since then.

VL - Is this your first novel?
CR - This will be my first published novel, but it’s about the 14th I’ve written. It’s the first novel where I really learned to revise, however. My first version of the manuscript was in third person, for instance, and my agent had me rewrite it in first person, which I’d never written in before. I also rewrote the entire ending over at least 3 times. The title even got changed; it used to be called SHAPERS.
VL - What inspired you to write The Body Institute?
CR - I’ve always been fascinated by Before and After photos, whether depicting weight or makeup or whatever. Built like a toothpick myself, I never had to try to lose weight. I found myself wondering how difficult it would really be. I wondered if I could lose weight if I were in someone else’s body—specifically, could I lose weight for people when they couldn’t? Would it really be as easy as I thought, or were other challenging factors involved? The germ seed of the novel was thus born.  
VL - What kind of research was necessary to create this story?
CR - A fair amount of articles on dieting, exercise, self-image, and weight. I used my techy husband as a resource for the science fiction aspects of being able to download one mind into another person’s body, but I did some online research on the geekier tech stuff, too.
VL - What is your current work in progress?
CR - I’m actually trying my hand at an upper middle grade novel for kids 11-13, a “contemporary fantasy,” which is a fancy way of saying it’s a real life story with a twist of magic or the bizarre. I’m having a blast with it; it’s letting me experiment with more zany scenarios and dialogue.
VL - Carol, do you have any advice for pre-published writers?
CR - Keep trying, never give up if it’s important to you. Never compare yourself to other writers or their journeys. Develop a thick skin as far as critiques go; write rough drafts close to your heart and emotions—then, when it comes to revision, learn to separate yourself from your creation and see the work more objectively.

Thanks so much for stopping by Writ of Whimsy today, Carol.
We really enjoyed learning more about your debut YA novel,
                           THE BODY INSTITUTE.
Here are the online links where you can visit Carol:

        Website - Blog - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads


Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Powell's Books - Indiebound

I recently had the opportunity to read Carol's novel; THE BODY INSTITUTE is definitely a book you don't want to miss!