Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Elysian - (adj.)
beautiful or creative; divinely inspired; peaceful and perfect.
Example: The little lake cabin in the woods had an elysian effect upon the writer.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

by Henry Cole

Flap Copy Description:
Brambleheart is beloved illustrator and author Henry Cole’s charming animal fantasy about a young chipmunk who stumbles upon a magical secret that helps him discover the meaning of friendship.
Twig has always wondered who he will become. In the Hill, everyone studies a craft and becomes a master’s Apprentice, but first you have to be good at something.

Twig tries very hard in all his classes, but his imagination wanders to his favorite books or the delicious mayapples growing beyond the scavenge yard...and then he loses his focus.

Unsure he’ll ever amount to anything, Twig sets out on a journey to discover himself. However, instead of finding answers, he stumbles upon a strangely colored globe that contains a curious secret.

Protecting his secret is all Twig wants to do. But when he learns that his secret might hurt others, he’s forced to make a choice between his place in the world and the feelings in his heart.

My Thoughts:
Brambleheart is a whimsical and inspirational middle grade novel that just recently released. Henry Cole is not only the author, but the illustrator - and what delightful pencil drawings he's created! If you know a reader who loves stories featuring anthropomorphic animals, Brambleheart would be a great book to suggest. I highly recommend this light fantasy novel to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Click here to learn more about the author/illustrator Henry Cole.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Spring Has Finally Returned!

When you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, the arrival of spring is something of an event. It marks the end of the dark, dismal days, and the onset of more light - even if it's still cloudy and we still receive an onslaught of more rain.
Then too, it's my favorite time to be out in my yard. So far I've weeded and fertilized the soil for my vegetable garden. Now it's time to plant tomatoes, onions, lettuce, carrots, and herbs.

"Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems."
                                                                             ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

This rabbit planter in our back yard always reminds me of Beatrix Potter. Hope your spring brings you a sense of new life & rejuvenation.
                                (Click here if you'd like to view my recent quarterly newsletter.)

                                         Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Loquacious - (adj.)
tending to talk a great deal; talkative.
Example: The little boy didn't talk until he was three-years-old, but then he was quite loquacious.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Odds of Getting Even
by Sheila Turnage

Flap Copy Description:
The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale's daddy--confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale's nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn't mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction--if everything goes as expected.
Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon's on the run, Tupelo Landing's in lockdown, and Dale's brother's life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client--one they'd never want in a million years.

My Thoughts:
When an author takes on a series she always runs the risk of not being able to deliver stories quite as good as the first, especially if it was an award-winning book like Ms. Turnage's Three Times Lucky, which was a Newbery Honor book. However, in both her second book (The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing), and now in this third book in the Mo & Dale Mystery Series, Sheila Turnage delivers big time. The Odds of Getting Even is fueled by high-octane humor, while leading the reader down a road of mystery and adventure. The serious themes of friends, family, and fathers make this middle grade novel more than just a fun ride. I highly recommend this book to readers aged eight to twelve; it would also be a great book for a young teen who is a reluctant reader.

Click here to learn more about the author, Sheila Turnage.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Friends with Fictional Characters?

Is it possible to have a friendship with a fictional character? I believe most writers would reply "yes!" But if so, why...and how? Since I've been working on my middle grade story of Livvi Biddle for nearly five years, I know for me, my eleven-year-old protagonist is definitely my friend.
"Livvi Biddle" Digital Art: Victoria Lindstrom

Why did that happen? And maybe more importantly, how? The answers to those psychological questions are not too difficult to determine, at least not for me.

While I have three sons: David, Kevin, and Brian, the three of them each know that if they'd been born a female they would have been named Olivia - Livvi, for short. So you might surmise that maybe I'm just treating my protagonist like the daughter I never had. I believe that's part of why I feel close to her, but there's more...

I've discovered that when I create a character there's a bit of me that goes into her/his personality, especially the protagonist. Maybe it's familiarity, but I believe it's also a latent desire to connect with someone that understands me, and whom I understand. Maybe that's how the seed of friendship takes root. I subconsciously create a character I'd like to have as a friend. A sort of literary BFF.

When you've been a bookworm as long as I have, at some point along the way you become honest with yourself and admit that safety is a big reason why you're friends with fictional characters: They're always there; they never change; they're usually inspirational; and they never betray you. (Not to worry, I have lots of human friends, too!)

On a side note: You might wonder about the fact that I've been working on this story for so long. That was also a concern of mine. So, when I enlisted the editorial services of Chris Eboch last December, I specifically asked her to be honest with me and tell me if it was time to put my pal Livvi Biddle to bed. Thankfully, she said I should continue.

While I have major work to do with my plot, Chris also made these comments: "Setting - not much to say here. You generally describe places well..." and "Characters - This is also a strong area." The one that meant the most: "As I said, you are a strong writer overall..."

That was all great news, since I hope to see Livvi Biddle come to life at some point. For now, I'm busy strengthening the plot in my story.

When I reflect on my proclivity for befriending my protagonists, I'm reminded that one reason I began to seriously write was the hope that children might connect with my stories and my characters. (Like I did with so many books as a child.) Offering a young reader a novel, a magic lantern, during a challenging time in her childhood, can illuminate her uncertain path and even give her hope for the future. Maybe the reader will find that my fictional friend is her friend, too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Burdock - (n.)
a large herbaceous plant of the daisy family.
Example: An overgrown bunch of burdock grew along the side of the bluff.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

Appleblossom the Possum
by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Flap Copy Description:
Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney!
The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they're about to find out!

My Thoughts:
This delightful middle grade novel features anthropomorphic possums who end up learning a lot about family, fear, and how to "fake it 'til you make it." While on the surface this story might seem merely entertaining, woven into its text are themes of perseverance, diversity, and even some fun facts about marsupials. I highly recommend Appleblossom the Possum to readers from the ages of eight to twelve.

Click here to learn more about the author, Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Thistleberry Books

If you have had the chance to read my middle grade novel The Tale of Willaby Creek, you may have noticed on the copyright page that the publisher is Thistleberry Books - that's me!
Within the last couple of years I've learned a bit about who I am as a writer. One of the things I've discovered is that I not only enjoy writing, I enjoy seeing a book come to life: Its cover, its format, its chapter headings, etc. Consequently, I purchased the domain name of Thistleberry Books for those projects that I already know I'll want to publish independently. The name, and small press, will be used solely for my books, or those of my family members who'd like my assistance. Click here to view the website I created for Thistleberry Books.

While I still hope to be traditionally published, I know there will always be some projects where I will want most of the control. I've mentioned it before here on Writ of Whimsy: I see myself as a hybrid author.
(If you're unfamiliar with what that is, click on the link for information.)

You might ask, why the name Thistleberry Books? The answer to that lies in my maiden name: Cardon. In Old Norman French, it means thistle. In addition to that, due to its pointy, prickly spikes it symbolizes endurance and fortitude. (All writers can relate to needing those traits!) Besides, I just like the rhythm of the name - Thistleberry Books - it sounds like it might have something to do with children's literature.

As I mentioned above, I was the publisher for my middle grade novel The Tale of Willaby Creek. The book launch party for that novel - hosted by SCBWI - will only be online for three more weeks. If you'd like a chance to win a free signed copy of my middle grade novel, click here. Merely sign the guest book on the sidebar. The winners will be announced 3 weeks from today here on Writ of Whimsy. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Liege - (adj.)
concerned with or relating to the relationship between a feudal superior and a subject. Example: The poor peasant girl bowed before her liege, the nefarious lord of the kingdom.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Iridescence of Birds
by Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated by Hadley Hooper

Flap Copy Description:
If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France, what would your life be like? Would it be full of color and art? Full of lines and dancing figures?

My Thoughts:

Since my husband is an oil painter, and we're both active in the art community in our city, children's books about artists are some of my very favorites. The Iridescence of Birds is an exquisite book, both for its insightful text, and also for the inspirational illustrations. Ms. MacLachlan captured those childhood experiences of Matisse that no doubt led to him becoming an artist; she's penned a lovely story that will delight little readers everywhere. Ms. Hooper's extensive research of the multi-talented artist of sculpture, collage, printmaking, and of course, painting, echoes on every page of this beautiful book. I highly recommend The Iridescence of Birds to children of all ages.

Click here to learn more about the author, Patricia MacLachlan.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Champions of Creativity

Kenneth Grahame

While so many books have inspired and influenced me over the years, the children's classic The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, is by far the one that most touched me as a child and later, as a writer. For that reason Grahame is the focus of Champions of Creativity today.
(I know that Mole, Ratty, Mr. Toad, and Badger would be pleased that their creator is being remembered so close to his birthday!)

Kenneth Grahame was born on March 8, 1859 in Edinburgh Scotland. He, his parents, and siblings lived in Inveraray near the shore of Loch Fyne in the Scottish Highlands. When Kenneth was five his mother died due to complications in childbirth. It was at that time that the boy's alcoholic father sent the children to live with their maternal grandmother in Cookham Berkshire in England.

The setting was idyllic with the nearby River Thames and Quarry Woods, and was to become the inspiration for Mr. Grahame's most famous children's book: The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth spent much of his childhood exploring the grounds and fishing with his uncle, David Ingles, thus learning about boating, as well as the animal life in the river. He attended St. Edward's School in Oxford, where he had the freedom to not only explore the quaint city, but also its countryside.

Kenneth longed to attend Oxford University, but due to lack of funds was unable to do so. He went to work at the Bank of England in 1879. He met Elspeth Thomson and was married in 1899; they had a son, Alistair, the following year. While still working at the bank, he wrote several light stories, one of which was The Reluctant Dragon. It was while Alistair was a young boy that Mr. Grahame told his son the story that was to later become a children's classic. Mr. Grahame retired from the bank as its Secretary and returned to the countryside of Cookham, Berkshire where he finally wrote down The Wind in the Willows. His son, Alistair, later attended Oxford University, and while he was an undergraduate committed suicide just before his twentieth birthday.

Kenneth Grahame died on July 6, 1932 in his beloved Berkshire.
His epitaph reads: "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time."

The life of Kenneth Grahame is extremely inspiring to me. The fact that he was able to become a successful writer without ever attending a university, and while working at the Bank of England, seems to reflect his perseverance to pursue his passion. Millions of readers around the world - of all ages - are fortunate that Grahame put pen & ink to paper.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Peripatetic (adj.)
traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods of time. Example: The circus performers led interesting, but peripatetic lives.