Monday, October 31, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Thickety
Well of Witches
by J. A. White

Amazon Description:
The third novel in the Thickety series, Well of Witches, is an epic quest on the edge of a magic crusade, into an enchanted kingdom with new kinds of magic, old enemies, and only one way out.

Kara and Taff know that only Grace Stone has the power to reverse her terrible Last Spell on their father and in order to save him, they have to rescue their foe from the Well of Witches first. Forgiving Grace should be the hardest part of their journey…but soon the children are confronted by creatures called the Faceless, mysteries as old as magic, and an ancient secret that threatens their very lives.

Back in the World, a war against magic is brewing that endangers everyone they care about. Can Kara and Taff find Grace, find their way out of the Well, and make it back to their father in time?

My Thoughts:
J. A. White has penned another well-written and entertaining novel in The Thickety Series. Well of Witches includes compelling characters, an Old World setting, & a quintessential fantasy plot, making this upper middle grade novel a must read for lovers of enchanting, magical tales. I highly recommend Well of Witches to readers aged eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, J. A. White.

                       Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
         Why I Believe in Ghosts

Ghosts have fascinated me for a long time. The intrigue has nothing to do with Halloween, it has to do with my own paranormal encounter. Really!

Many years ago, right after my maternal grandmother passed away, I purchased her small home. (I was extremely close to my grandmother and had lived with her in that house while attending Clark College.)

One autumn afternoon, not long after I'd moved into the quaint house, I found myself in the throes of a personal crisis. I'll not go into it here, but suffice it to say, it was a monumental time in my life. I was lying on the very bed that had been my grandmother's, in the bedroom that a few months prior to that day had been hers, when I saw her - my dear grandmother! Her spirit was standing in the corner of the room. Her appearance filled my soul with love and peace. Somehow, I knew I would get through the difficult situation I was experiencing - which I did.

Since that day, decades ago, she's appeared to me one more time - in the house where I now live. Again, it was an emotional time, and again, her presence encouraged me with peace and love. I truly miss her.

Psychology was a course I enjoyed while in college. I know a bit about what psychologists say regarding these sorts of experiences. Stress, mental illness, etcetera can contribute to a person seeing an illusion of a lost loved one. What I saw was no illusion - it was my grandmother.

My belief in ghosts has only added to my already fertile imagination, and helped immensely when I sit down to create a story. It's no coincidence that the protagonist in my middle grade novel, Livvi Biddle, has supernatural powers and also sees ghosts and angels.

It is often said to aspiring authors, "write what you know." As you can see, writing about ghosts is something I feel I know a little bit about.

Men and women have long pondered over the possibility of an afterlife, time travel, and even ghosts and angels. On this Halloween weekend I've chosen to share my personal paranormal encounters with you!

                            Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Bugwhiffle - (n.)
a silly or unimportant idea.
Example: It mattered not how creative the apprentice's ideas were, his master considered them all bugwhiffles.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

Flap copy Description:
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.

My Thoughts:
The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an incredibly intricate tapestry of character, plot, and setting. However, the heart, or theme, of the story takes center stage on every page: Love. Ms. Barnhill has created a timeless tale for children that is not only captivatingly fantastical, but heartwarming and inspirational. I highly recommend this upper middle grade novel to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

NOTE! In January 2017 this enchanting novel won the Newbery Medal!

Click here to learn more about the author Kelly Barnhill.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
     Consistency as a Scribe

As I mentioned in last Friday's post, I was scheduled for arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday of this week - all went well. However, I do have to take it easy for several days, which means staying off my feet for as much as possible. It would have been a great excuse to take a break from writing, but I felt if I went down that path I might lose the momentum I've worked so hard to maintain.

I believe it's important to write every day. But there are a variety of ways to do that. Here's my list to maintain consistency as a scribe:


*A blog post

*A magazine article

*A poem

*A journal entry

*A short story

*A chapter for a new project

*A letter to a friend

*A to-do list

*A comment on your favorite blog

*A new bio

*A synopsis

*A query letter (Which is one of the items I worked on this week!)

The possibilities for the scribe to maintain a daily writing regime are endless. But, why is it important to write in a variety of ways?

Because sometimes location, commitments, or physical predicament require us to pursue our writing in a different fashion. Then too, it's good to just mix up our routine occasionally - it can rejuvenate creativity. (In my case, my routine got mixed up for me!) It can also ensure a scribe's passion for writing remains fresh, not humdrum.

Woody & Stick have been my constant companions this week. I was doing so well that, unfortunately, I overdid my post-op exercises and strained my left leg. Must adhere to my surgeon's instructions better!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Biffsquiggled - (adj.)
feeling puzzled, or confused.
Example: The schoolmaster left the young boys biffsquiggled with his rambling lessons.
(From the Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary)

Reminder! Click here for the link to my current giveaway. One lucky person will win a signed copy of my book: The Scandinavian Santa!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Gallery
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Flap copy Description:
It's 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?

My Thoughts:
When I discovered that the award-winning author of Under the Egg had penned another children's novel I purchased my copy that day! And while an author's previous publishing record doesn't always assure a reader of another tantalizing tale, The Gallery delivered big time. This scrumptious blend of genres includes one part historical fiction, one part art history, and one part mystery, with plenty of pure entertainment throughout its 300+ pages. Laura Marx Fitzgerald's middle grade novel is written with all the expertise of a master storyteller and is one not to miss. I highly recommend The Gallery to readers - and art lovers - from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Laura Marx Fitzgerald.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
  Is It a Setback...or a Surprise?

As I've padded down the path of my storyteller's journey there have been numerous bumps along the way. Like all writers, the challenge has been to pick myself up and keep going. One way I've been able to do that is to try my best to view unexpected obstacles as surprises, not setbacks.

Like most of us, over the years I've heard my share of motivational messages. However, like so many things in life, those inspirational ideas must be diligently worked at...even when we don't feel like it.

For a writer it is imperative to view the bumps along the path to publication as surprises, not setbacks. If she doesn't, she runs the risk of being knocked off the path and never proceeding any further.

I've lived long enough to have a great perspective from my life's "rear-view mirror." What I now see, is that the most difficult times in my life have taught me the most, made me the strongest, and created in me a passion for life. I'll admit that it's now easier to view obstacles as surprises because I've seen how even the most painful life experiences have become part of my story; they've made me a more interesting and compassionate person. (Due to a career-ending  injury nearly ten years ago, I found the courage to finally become a writer!)

Life can set us back, or surprise us. It's our choice. 

Note: My current "surprise" is that I'll be going in for arthroscopic knee surgery next week. (Several months ago I injured the meniscus ligament of my left knee and have been hobbling around ever since!) My sweet  husband has offered to stay home with me for a few days until I am literally back on my feet. We'll also be collaborating on the illustrations for our current picture book: Journey to Snowdonia. 

"It will be messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you."  ~ Nora Ephron

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Werifesteria - (v.)
to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery.
Example: Since the writer felt the forest was her muse, she spent much of her time in the act of werifesteria.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Skeleth
by Matthew Jobin

Flap Copy Description:
In a vast kingdom divided by power-hungry lords, land equals power. With the Nethergrim now awake, her limitless wellspring of evil means opportunity for those willing to do her bidding. One ambitious Lord, eager to overthrow his counterparts and rule the north, succumbs to temptation, helping to let loose the Skeleth, forces of energy that absorb whole anyone who attempts to kill them. In this way the slain end up as slayers, a vicious cycle that never ends.

Yet that will not stop young Edmund--an apprentice wizard--and his friends Katherine and Tom, from trying to stop the evil threatening to overtake their kingdom. Together, they team up with the legendary Tristan in a battle of courage, brains, determination, and sacrifice to stop the Skeleth and save the Barony of Elverain from being conquered.

My Thoughts:
The Skeleth is the much anticipated sequel to Matthew Jobin's The Nethergrim - I found it to be fantastic! The author has penned another captivating medieval tale, one with vivid settings, multiple points of view, and a plot that keeps you guessing right up until the last page. One of the attributes I most admire about this companion book is its complexity. The characters have matured since the debut book, and the author has revealed their growth with a more textured and poignant prose. While the first book was upper middle grade, The Skeleth is a true young adult novel. I highly recommend The Skeleth to readers aged twelve & up. (Mature readers aged ten or eleven will love it too!)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Champions of Creativity

Photo Credit: Public Domain
R. L. Stine

It seems appropriate to feature the author who has been called "the Stephen King of Children's Literature" during this Halloween month. R. L. Stine is a true Champion of Creativity, in part since he has worn so many creative hats: American novelist, children's book author, short story writer, T.V. producer, screenwriter, executive editor, & actor, to name just of few!

His Twitter bio probably describes him best: My job: to terrify kids!
(You can follow Mr. Stine on Twitter at: @RL_Stine.)

Robert Lawrence Stine was born on October 8, 1943 in Columbus, Ohio to Jewish parents. When he was nine-years-old, he began writing after discovering a typewriter in his family's attic. Following his graduation from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in writing.

I'd say it worked out pretty well for Mr. Stine - he has sold over 400 million books. (Any author who gets that many children to read books is a champion!) He has also been honored with numerous awards in his long career as a best-selling author. One of his most familiar and successful children's book series - Goosebumps - went on to become a popular television series, and in 2015 a feature film starring Jack Black, with a cameo appearance by R. L. himself. Mr. Stine's freaky & frightening books have made a profound impact on American culture.

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story is his most recently released book for children, and it's just in time for the holidays!

Click here to visit the spooky website of R. L. Stine.

Happy birthday, Mr. Stine!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Whimsical Word of the Week

Petrichor - (n.)
the scent of the earth after rain.
Example: The naturalist loved to wander through the woods in autumn, enjoying the petrichor.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Bibliophile's Corner

The Storyteller
by Evan Turk

Flap Copy Description:
Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together.

But as the kingdom grew, the people forgot the dangers of the desert, and they forgot about the storytellers, too. All but one young boy, who came to the Great Square for a drink and found something that quenched his thirst even better: wonderful stories. As he listened to the last storyteller recount the Endless Drought, and the Glorious Blue Water Bird, he discovered the power of a tale well told.

My Thoughts:
There is so much to savor in the picture book, The Storyteller by Evan Turk! His imaginative illustrations vividly bring the country of Morocco and the Sahara Desert to life in a time long ago. That setting is wondrously woven together with a tale of magical generosity - a much needed message for all of us. Mr. Turk is quite a master storyteller himself; this exquisite tale reads like lyrical poetry. I highly recommend this beautiful book - The Storyteller - to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about author/illustrator, Evan Turk.