Friday, December 15, 2017

Season's Greetings!

Wintry Shed - 12X16 oil on panel - Michael Lindstrom
Christmas will feel a bit different this year since my father fell last month, broke his hip, and had surgery. Unfortunately, my father's health is tenuous right now. Also, two of my three sons will be unable to join us since they live on the East Coast. Thankfully, our eldest son, David, and his wife, Jessica, will be in the PNW. (Our entire immediate family will get together in January!) As usual, I'll be taking a break from blogging for the next two weeks; I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy in 2017.

If you'd like to read my recent quarterly newsletter, click here.

Wishing you and yours the joy, peace, and love of the season.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Tidings - (n.)
news; information.
Example: The church choir proclaimed glad tidings to the parishioners on Christmas Eve.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler

Amazon Description:
Lonely Hannah is delighted to discover a warm black boot as she gathers kindling in the forest. A poor woman, she doesn't have proper shoes on her cold feet. "Glory be! I only wish I had your mate," she says to the boot, and the next morning, to her great surprise, there is not just one boot but two sitting by her bed! More wishes bring even better gifts—but the best is still to come: A visitor arrives at her door—a man with a big white beard, wearing a red suit and only one boot. Who could this magical visitor be? Santa Claus, of course! And he has one more surprise in store for Hannah: She wakes up the next morning to find a new puppy waiting for her! 

My Thoughts:
This beautiful picture book is a must read for children during the Christmas season! The lovely illustrations, coupled with the imaginative text, reveal the need for not only appreciating life, but for being grateful. The Christmas Boot is a truly entertaining tale for the holidays. I highly recommend it for readers aged four to seven!

Click here to learn about the author, Lisa Wheeler.
Click here to learn about the illustrator Jerry Pinkney.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

"Snow Before Christmas" - Tasha Tudor
My Love for Winter Tales

At one of my recent book events I was asked: "Why do you like to write stories set in the snow?" At first I thought I'd have a ready answer for the woman, but then I replied: "You know, I'm not sure why."

Since that day I've been pondering that very question. Here is a partial list of reasons for my fondness of stories set in the snow:

*Snow transforms the world into a different, fresher version of itself. A place where building snowmen and sledding with friends can happen.

*Due to my love of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, the fantasy winter world he created is a place I'd love to visit.

*You'd think that living in the Pacific Northwest I'd see plenty of snow each winter. However, we live in a valley, so snowfall is a somewhat rare occurrence. Consequently, I yearn for it during the winter months.

*Since the holidays - and my birthday - occur in late fall and winter, that magical time of the year is always special to me, as it is to so many.

All these reasons , however, still don't answer the question:
Why do I like to write stories set in the snow?

The real answer is that I have loads of wonderful memories of spending cold, snowy afternoons with my friends. (For some reason we received more snow in the Pacific Northwest when I was a kid.)
In any event, I believe I'm attempting to recreate those magical, whimsical times in the snow that I enjoyed as a child. In addition to that, it's a ready way to collaborate with my husband to create a beautiful holiday story. Christmas/Winter children's books are the best!

Here are our two Lindstrom Wintertime Tales:

How about you? Do you also enjoy stories set in the snow?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Shoshin (n.)
the practice of seeing life with wonder.
Example: It is easy for young children to abide in a state of shoshin.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

by John Rocco

Amazon Description:
Blizzard is based on John Rocco's childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought 53 inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island.

Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the book opens with a boy's excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood's immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street. In between the boy watches his familiar landscape transform into something alien, and readers watch him transform into a hero who puts the needs of others first.

My Thoughts:
This wintertime story, based on a true childhood experience of the author/illustrator, should not be missed! John Rocco's simple, yet profound, story of his memory of the Blizzard of 1978 will warm the hearts of children of all ages. The lovely illustrations in this picture book perfectly illuminate the text. Grab a cup of cocoa and enjoy!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator John Rocco.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Books on the Big Screen

As a writer, it's always exciting to see one of your favorite children's books come alive on the "big screen." During the fall, and now into the holiday season, several successful books have been adapted into major motion pictures. Here are just a few, listed in random order:

Released in the U.S. on October 13, 2017

Released in the U.S. on October 20, 2017

Released in the U.S. on November 17, 2017

Due to release in the U.S. on December 15, 2017

Due to release in the U.S. on December 15, 2017

Released in the U.S. on November 22, 2017

I don't know about you and your family, but visiting a local movie theater is one of my family's favorite things to do during the holidays. (I'm always curious to see which scenes from the book are included, and which ones are excluded.) Don't forget a bag of popcorn & a soda!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Eccedentesiast (n.)
someone who hides pain behind a smile.
Example: Over time, the mother of the fallen soldier had become an eccedentesiast.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Wonderling
by Mira Bartok

Flap Copy Description:
Have you been unexpectedly burdened by a recently orphaned or unclaimed creature? Worry not! We have just the solution for you!Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name -- a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck -- it is the only home he has ever known.

But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home's loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: a real name -- Arthur, like the good king in the old stories -- and a best friend. Using Trinket's ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur's true destiny.

My Thoughts:
This middle grade novel by Mira Bartok is amazing! The Wonderling is a whimsical tale that includes anthropomorphic "groundlings," fantastic pencil illustrations, and themes of hope and friendship within its 450 pages. Its imaginative plot and protagonist were truly heart-warming. I highly recommend the The Wonderling to readers aged eight and up!

Click here to learn about the talented author/illustrator, Mira Bartok.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Thoughts on this Thanksgiving Weekend

In past years I've posted a Thanksgiving message, and in most cases, I've discussed the importance of being grateful for family, friends, and for just being alive. Those are constants that I'm always grateful for. This year the thing I'm most thankful for is my storyteller's journey. If you've followed this blog for a while, you know that embarking on my storyteller's journey didn't just bring me joy, it's been a life line.

All those writers, artists, & musicians that I've met along the way have contributed to my journey, and so it is about those creative souls that I am thinking about this weekend. (Also, those shop owners that have welcomed me so warmly into their establishments for book signings!)

Thanks to all of you! (To Facebook and Twitter friends as well!)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend & a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Esperance - (n.)
Example: In the midst of the country's extreme chaos, its citizens were bereft of esperance.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Whiz Mob
and the Grenadine Kid
written by Colin Meloy
illustrated by Carson Ellis

Flap Copy Description:
It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseilles, a group of pickpockets pulls off an amazing robbery. As the young bandits appear to melt into the crowd, Charlie realizes with a start that he himself was one of their marks.

Yet Charlie is less alarmed than intrigued. This is the most thrilling thing that’s happened to him since he came to France with his father, an American diplomat. So instead of reporting the thieves, Charlie defends one of their cannons, Amir, to the police, under one condition: he teach Charlie the tricks of the trade.

What starts off as a lesson on pinches, kicks, and chumps soon turns into an invitation for Charlie to join the secret world of the whiz mob, an international band of child thieves who trained at the mysterious School of Seven Bells. The whiz mob are independent and incredibly skilled and make their own way in the world—they are everything Charlie yearns to be. But what at first seemed like a (relatively) harmless new pastime draws him into a dangerous adventure with global stakes greater than he could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts:
It was a thrill to meet the author and illustrator of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid - Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis are awesome! Since I'm a huge fan of their series The Wildwood Chronicles, it came as no surprise that their recent middle grade release is just as fantastic.
The setting for this story is the south of France, Marseilles to be specific; since a great setting is something I always enjoy, I was not disappointed. In addition to that, this well-written and entertaining tale is wonderfully illustrated. I highly recommend The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid to readers aged eight and up!

Check out the cool interview with this talented couple!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Make Your Story Extraordinary

Recently I discussed how a story can have a serendipitous origin. In this post, I hope to shed some light on what each of us can, and must, do to create extraordinary stories. It's not about character development. It's not about a fast-paced plot. It's not about beautiful writing, or sensational settings, or any number of other much-needed elements to create a viable novel. While a story MUST include those items mentioned above, they alone will not make a story extraordinary.

I believe the special element to make your story extraordinary is YOU.

Your heart. Your experiences. Your wounds. Your successes.

Why do I believe this so strongly?

It's because our authentic selves speak a specific truth into our work that no amount of education or effort could ever create. Our personal stories make our fictional stories extraordinary. While our lives might share similarities, no one has a story exactly like yours, or mine. 

That being said, this type of "magic" comes at a cost. We must be vulnerable. That is a decision of the heart, not the brain. We must bring our whole selves to our work in a way that most of us never dreamed would be necessary. If we do so, our stories will do more than just entertain our readers: They will inspire and strengthen our youth.

While writing this post I kept thinking of the quote below:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Resfeber (n.)
the tangled feelings of fear and excitement before a journey begins.
Example: The travel blogger had lost her sense of resfeber long ago.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine
by Mark Twain and
Philip Stead, with Erin Stead

Flap Copy Description:
In a hotel in Paris one evening in 1879, Mark Twain sat with his young daughters, who begged their father for a story. After the girls chose a picture from a magazine to get started, Twain began telling them the tale of Johnny, a poor boy in possession of some magical seeds. Later, Twain would jot down some rough notes about the story, but the tale was left unfinished . . . until now.

Plucked from the Mark Twain archive at the University of California at Berkeley, Twain’s notes now form the foundation of a fairy tale picked up over a century later. With only Twain’s fragmentary script and a story that stops partway as his guide, author Philip Stead has written a tale that imagines what might have been if Twain had fully realized this work:

Johnny, forlorn and alone except for his pet chicken, meets a kind woman who gives him seeds that change his fortune, allowing him to speak with animals and sending him on a quest to rescue a stolen prince. In the face of a bullying tyrant king, Johnny and his animal friends come to understand that generosity, empathy, and quiet courage are gifts more precious in this world than power and gold.

My Thoughts:
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine took me to that rare place that transcends space and time; it was as though Mark Twain was telling this tale directly to me! The iconic American author has been gone for over a century, but Philip and Erin Stead are very much alive...and so are their incredible literary gifts. It's hard to imagine how Mr. Stead could have created a more intriguing text, and one that flowed so perfectly and seemed to embrace this quote by Twain:

Narrative should flow as flows the brook down through the hills and the leafy woodlands, its course changed by every boulder it comes across and by every grass-clad gravelly spur that projects into its path; its surface broken, but its course not stayed by rocks and gravel on the bottom in the shoal places; a brook that never goes straight for a minute, but goes, and goes briskly, sometimes ungrammatically, and sometimes fetching a horseshoe three-quarters of a mile around, and at the end of the circuit flowing within a yard of the path it traversed an hour before; but always going, and always following at least one law, always loyal to that law, the law of narrative, which has no law. 

In addition to being a well-told tale, the artwork by Erin Stead was magnificent. There couldn't possibly have been better illustrations to illuminate this extraordinary tale. They were reminiscent of a bygone era, and yet felt extremely avant-garde as well. Consequently, I highly recommend The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine to readers and art lovers of all ages - and, especially to fans of of the great Mark Twain.

Click here to check out a recent interview with  Philip & Erin Stead.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Author Rebecca Skloot - Vancouver, WA
Networking Locally

Authors are constantly admonished to work on their platform. Be consistent on social media. Network, network, network! What I've learned - over the years since I embarked on my storyteller's journey - is that following the above advice is important, but without local networking it's worthless. Yes, a writer must be skilled at online networking, but without person to person contact your platform has no foundation.

Earlier this week I attended the annual FVRL Authors & Illustrators Dinner in my community. It's a fundraiser for our local library with its thirteen branches. I usually donate a basket of my books (with chocolate & coffee!). The formal event is a  highlight of the year for me!

This year's keynote speaker was Rebecca Skloot - author of the New York Times bestselling book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I was completely unaware of the book, and its subsequent movie starring Oprah Winfrey! (A signed copy now sits near my desk waiting to be read.) Listening to Ms. Skloot - as well as other authors over the years - reminded me that each writer's path to publication is as individual as the books she pens. It's always extremely inspiring to hear the challenges other authors encountered along their own storyteller's journey. Ms. Skloot spent over ten years researching and writing the true story about Henrietta Lacks! I look forward to reading it.

In addition to being inspired at this local event, I reconnect each year with several library friends, make new friends, and maintain my commitment to literacy in my community. It's always a win-win!

While I realize not everyone has events like this library fundraiser in their hometown, there are always ways to network locally - even if it's volunteering. That's how I met most of my library friends; I volunteered once a week for two years - assisting in an ESL program at the local branch of the library. I definitely received much more than I gave from the wonderful international group of adult students - and their children!

My local platform is the foundation of my overall networking. The library, local shops, and the art community in general have my back. And I have theirs. Having personal contact with these friends and colleagues provides me with a strength that I could not survive without.

I encourage all writers/authors to connect with their local community!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mizzle (verb)
to rain in fine drops; drizzle; mist.
Example: After the mysterious man departed the enchanted forest it began to mizzle.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

by Katherine Applegate

Amazon Description:
Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . . .

Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"—people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with her crow friend Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this "wishtree" watches over the neighborhood.

You might say Red has seen it all. Until a new family moves in. Not everyone is welcoming, and Red's experiences as a wishtree are more important than ever.

My Thoughts:
Rarely does a middle grade novel make a statement with its point of view - but that's just what Ms. Applegate's recently released Wishtree did! Since I'm a bit of a nature buff, reading a tale from the perspective of an oak tree was wonderful. Who knew an oak tree could be so wise, or so warm? In addition to that, the Newbery Medalist once again brought her beautiful storytelling style to this extraordinary novel.
I highly recommend Wishtree to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about the author, Katherine Applegate.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Motivated by the Multitude

It's been six years since I participated in NaNoWriMo, and while I am not joining the multitudes of writers who are officially hoping to reach 50,000 words this month, I do use NaNoWriMo as motivation for my own writing routine. For those not familiar with the National Novel Writing Month, here is their mission statement: National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

I believe every serious writer should participate in NaNoWriMo at least once in her career. It gives a scribe an idea of the level of discipline it takes to be a career author. It was in 2011 that I first began to write according to a set schedule; the first time I realized what it would take to be a published author. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful tool for writers.

Since I'm working on a short story - another Lindstrom Wintertime Tale - I'm hoping to complete a solid first draft by the end of the month. However, writing 3500 words is a lot easier than 50, a month!

Good luck to all the NaNoWriMo paricipants!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dysania (n.)
the state of finding it hard to get out of bed.
Example: After returning from his trip to Europe, the student experienced a bout of dysania for days.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Ghosts of Greenglass House
by Kate Milford

Amazon Description:
Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

            *     *     *     *     *

My Thoughts:
This companion novel to Greenglass House is entertaining and complex - a great read for anyone who loves a good ghost story! Ms. Milford has created a well-written fantasy tale with a mysterious plot and a diverse cast. (Milo is a super likeable protagonist!) I highly recommend Ghosts of Greenglass House to readers aged eight to twelve.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
A Serendipitous Story Origin
While I'm normally inspired by a specific setting prior to writing a story, the Lindstrom Wintertime Tale that I'm now working on came about by my desire to include a snowy owl in my next short story. (Illustrated by fine artist, Michael Lindstrom.)

When I began researching natural habitats of the large white owl, I learned that the Shetland Islands was once a popular habitat for the beautiful bird during the winter months. (In recent decades they have only rarely appeared. But since my story is set in the 18th century that was no problem.) It dawned on me that the subarctic archipelago in Scotland is also famous for Shetland ponies - my family had two when I was a child! Things got even more exciting when I discovered that the island of Unst - the northernmost in Scotland -  has strong ties to Norwegian culture. BINGO! (I'm 57% Norse.) Since writing a story set in the Shetland Islands would touch on many of my own interests and personal history, I felt like I had hit the jackpot. Then, when I learned that the island of Unst is home to the Muness Castle (which was abandoned during the era when my story is to be set) the wheels in my head began frantically spinning around with numerous plot ideas. Ultimately, those tidbits I mentioned above prompted the idea for a protagonist. I'm excited to create another story with a female heroine!

After that initial research, I wrote an outline for The Whim of Winter.

I wanted to write this post to reveal just how a story can have a serendipitous origin. I'm not sure if I'd have chosen to set my next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale on the island of Unst, in Scotland, without these unexpected discoveries:

*Unst has a rich culture that includes their Norwegian heritage.
*Shetland ponies. (So many fond memories of Gidget and Goliath!)
*The island of Unst is famous for its stunning natural beauty.
*The Muness Castle quickly gave me an idea for an interesting plot.
*The sea cliffs of Unst are the natural home to over 120,000 birds.
  (As mentioned above, a snowy owl even occasionally appears.)
My husband & I have visited Scotland! (Just not as far north as Unst.)

As you can see, this story idea originated from my desire to include a snowy owl, but quickly found "steam" once other interesting points jumped out at me during my research. This is not the first time that has happened. While I'll not go into details, many times my initial research has dictated the direction of a story even before I created an outline.

My point is: Follow your own interests; don't follow what's popular!

You never know when serendipity will step in and lend a hand!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Eleutheromania - (n.)
an intense and irresistible desire for freedom.
Example: The student read books to assuage his eleutheromania.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

On A Magical Do-Nothing Day
by Beatrice Alemagna

Flap Copy Description:
All I want to do on a rainy day like today is play my game. My mom says it’s a waste of time, but without my game, nothing is fun! On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong about that…

While reading On a Magical Do-Nothing Day, one gets the sense that the illustrator became lost in her drawings, and as a reader, you will want to do the same. Perfect for fans of picture books by Julie Morstad, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, and Tomi Ungerer.

From the creator of The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy and A Lion in Paris! “Hands down, Beatrice Alemagna is my favorite contemporary illustrator," said the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street, Christian Robinson.

My Thoughts:
My soul seemed to sprout wings as I read the extraordinary words, and savored the whimsical artwork, in On A Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna! As a person who loves to walk in the woods - even on a rainy day - this little book was a breath of fresh air. Young readers will be challenged to drop their digital devices and romp around in their own backyard, or corner park, after experiencing this exceptionally beautiful picture book. I highly recommend On A Magical Do-Nothing Day to writers, illustrators, librarians, teachers, and readers of all ages!

Click here to learn about author/illustrator/artist Beatrice Alemanga.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Creative Book Marketing

It's been such a pleasure to have numerous creative friends in my life; we've had so many interesting discussions about making art, the life of an artist, and also several conversations about marketing art. Without exception, my creative circle of friends much prefer making art, as opposed to marketing art. For a variety of reasons, most creative types feel somewhat uncomfortable promoting their own work.

But, what if we authors used our creativity to promote our books?

I love the above photo of the "book wagon." It's a great example of a creative way to sell books. While I don't plan on purchasing a book wagon any time soon, it does remind me that authors can use unconventional - and even quirky - ways to promote their work.

If you're a writer of children's books, toy stores, gift shops, and galleries are all possible ways to push your work. I've discussed on Writ of Whimsy before how the Holiday Festival, SCANFAIR, in Portland, Oregon, is one of the best places for me to sell my books.

If you're a member of SCBWI, another great opportunity to promote your books is through an online site called BOOKSTOP. My book, JOURNEY TO SNOWDONIA, is currently featured on the site, as well as numerous other great reads for children.

Check out the HOME page for the SCBWI BOOKSTOP for a wide variety of books for kids:

Please check out my page; I'd love for you to sign my guest book!
Here is the link for my SCBWI BOOKSTOP page:

Happy Reading...& Marketing!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Escaladeur - (n.)
mountaineer; a mountain climber.
Example: The eclectic group of hikers included an escaladeur from France.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Some Kind of Happiness
by Claire Legrand

Amazon Description:
• Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
• Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
• Never having met said grandparents.
• Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real--and holds more mysteries than she'd ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.

My Thoughts:
Some Kind of Happiness is yet another magnificent middle grade novel by Claire Legrand! One of the things I love about Ms. Legrand's books is their ability to convey strong messages, while keeping the reader on the edge of her seat anxiously turning the pages. She used an alternate POV in the fantasy world of Everwood as a unique way to craft her story. I loved it! In addition to that, this MG  novel gently addresses issues of divorce, family secrets, and mental illness. I highly recommend Some Kind of Happiness to readers aged eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Claire Legrand.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

My son and daughter-in-law: David & Jessica
Finding Balance

For the last five weeks my son & daughter-in-law have lived with us while they readjusted to being back in the Pacific Northwest. In two weeks they move into a quaint little house a few miles east of us.

It's been 15 years since my son, David, lived at home full-time. In the last several weeks I've felt like I've been able to get reacquainted with my son...the adult version. I am so, so proud of both of them!

One thing I didn't expect to encounter was just how much I've changed since those days 15 years ago. It wasn't just the fact that at that time I was working full-time as a dental hygienist, I was also a full-time mom. My identity, at that time, was wrapped up in being the best parent I could be, which meant lots of music recitals, sporting events, and awards assemblies to attend. If you're a parent of a school aged child you know what I mean. Your life is full of your child's activities. In fact, I'd say that during those days I rarely made myself a priority.

Since 2002 my life has changed in numerous ways, ways that I have mentioned here on Writ of Whimsy before. When I became a full-time writer my life took a 180 degree turn! What I'm now learning (since my life is full of writing, book events, art events, etc.) is that I must WORK to make time for my family. It's a task I'm embracing, one that David and Jessica have helped me with immensely - just by being the cool people that they are! It's been another lesson in BALANCE.

Whether you're a single person, a partnered person with no children, or a partnered person with children, it's so important to work at making your family a priority. If that is easy for you, then don't forget to work at making yourself a priority. It's always about BALANCE in your life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Litterateur - (n.)
a person who is interested in and knowledgeable about literature.
Example: An author who wants to be taken seriously, should also be a litterateur.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Beyond the Bright Sea
by Lauren Wolk

Amazon Description:
Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift on a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.

Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

My Thoughts:
Beyond the Bright Sea is a beautiful middle grade story set in the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts in 1925. It includes a wonderfully written and well-crafted plot, complex & salty characters, and the talented voice of award-winning author, Lauren Wolk - a master storyteller. You can almost smell the sea and taste the lobster! (Ms. Wolk won a Newbery Honor for her novel, Wolf Hollow.) I highly recommend Beyond the Bright Sea to readers aged eight and up!

Click here to learn more about author Lauren Wolk.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
The Story Behind the Story

Along my storyteller's path I've labored to create magical characters, mysterious plots, and charming settings. One thing I never anticipated was the twists and turns my own story as a writer would take. If I had, I'm not sure that I would have so unwarily proceeded! My own character development has transformed, my emotions have ridden a roller coaster, and I've visited places that I never would have otherwise. I never dreamt that my life would change so much!

But, those unexpected experiences have brought to my life insights, wisdom, friendship, joy, knowledge, confidence, and on and on.

We're taught as writers to place as many challenges in the path of our protagonists as we can. Since most of us grow close to our characters, sometimes we cringe at having to do that - even though we know it's a necessary part of creating a complex and viable story. Maybe one way to understand & implement tension is to experience our own troubles.

Learning lessons from life's challenges is something I've discussed on Writ of Whimsy before. While we'd probably all agree with that idea, when challenges come to my door I'm not thinking of learning lessons. Dealing with the pain of the situation takes a lot of effort just to get by.

I know we ALL deal with life's trials and tribulations; here are a few challenges I've dealt with since embarking on my storyteller's journey:

A wrist injury that ended my dental hygiene career.
Loss of substantial stock value, investments, 401K, etc.
The death of our two dogs - one in 2005 and the other in 2008
I gained several pounds due to a bout of deep depression.
The youngest of our three sons left home for college.
Multiple rejections - of all sorts. (Aren't those fun? Not.)
In the spring of '16 I injured my knee; in the fall of '16 I had surgery.
My sister sadly passed away on 11/7/16; I'm still dealing with grief.

We all have a story behind the story. It behooves us to learn from it - not only personally, but as writers. That way we make good use of everything (even the tough stuff) that we experience. ~ All the best.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Coruscate - (v.)
(of light) flash or sparkle.
Example: The face of the impish elf seemed to coruscate with enchantment.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Blue Songbird
by Vern Kousky

Flap Copy Description:
A little blue songbird longs to sing like her sisters. But whenever she tries, she cannot get the tune right. Her mother encourages her to leave home and find a song that only she can sing.
With courage and tenacity, she travels the world, seeking advice from a crane, an owl, and a mean-looking crow, and other birds, hoping they will lead her to her special song.

My Thoughts:
The Blue Songbird is super special! This book's tiny protagonist packs a punch as she goes on a journey to find her own song. Her story will speak to children of all ages with a desire to hit the right key in their own lives. I highly recommend this lyrically written and whimsically illustrated picture book to young readers from the ages of four and up.

Click here to learn about author/illustrator, Vern Kousky.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Story Super Structure

Whether you prefer to construct your story from a character-driven origin or a plot-driven origin, it's important that when the manuscript is complete that your novel is strong...on both counts. When I think about my favorite novels, they're all complex and balanced - I can't tell where the author began her journey when creating her wonderful tale.

So, how do we all accomplish this literary feat?

While I can not claim to have a corner on creating such a well-written novel, I have learned a technique (through trial & error!)  that I am attempting to implement all the time. It's a matter of weaving strong plot and character elements together. Since I am primarily a character-driven writer, here's how I attempt to "balance" my manuscripts:

In a nutshell, I begin with the Hero's Journey (which deals with the protagonist) when writing my first draft. When that is complete, I go through the draft & size it up with the Three-act Story Structure (which primarily deals with plot.) Usually lots of my scenes get moved!

As I mentioned above, I approach my stories as a character-driven writer, so the Hero's Journey has been familiar to me for quite some time. However, it was when I began to implement the Three-act Story Structure to my work that I felt my manuscripts began to feel more "balanced." Weaving the two together is not easy, but the result is well worth the effort. Since I needed to better understand the Three-act Story Structure, I drew a dummy sheet that I'm constantly referring to:

Are you a character-driven writer or a plot-driven writer?
Hope this helps!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Bluestocking - (n.)
an intellectual or literary woman.
Example: For the most part, to be called a bluestocking was an insult during the nineteenth century.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

A Girl Called Vincent
The Life of Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
by Krystyna Poray Goddu

Flap Copy Description:
There was never anything calm about Vincent. Her sisters used to say that she had a bee chasing her. Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950), known as Vincent, was an acclaimed American poet who came to embody the modern, liberated woman of the Jazz Age. From the fiery energy of her youth to the excitement and acclaim of her early adulthood in New York and Paris, to the demands of living in the public eye, Vincent’s life was characterized by creativity, hard work, and passion. A Girl Called Vincent traces her incredible journey from a unique and talented girl to an international celebrity and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet.

            Raised in poverty in rural Maine, where she was often the sole caretaker of her two younger sisters, the rebellious, creative, red-haired Vincent always found time for writing, acting, singing, and playing piano. She became a sensation in young adulthood, bewitching audiences with her words, voice, and luminous appearance. She mixed with the literary figures of her time and broke many hearts. Her volumes of poetry were enormous bestsellers and audiences nationwide went wild when she recited her works onstage. In addition to poetry, Vincent’s body of work includes plays, translations, and an opera, and ranges from love sonnets to antiwar propaganda.

My Thoughts:
This biography on one of America's most beloved poets, Edna St. Vincent Millay, is scrumptious! Packed full of the details of her extraordinary life, the book also includes vintage photos and a timeline of the Pulitzer Prize winner's life. Evidence of extensive research appears on every page; readers will feel like they actually knew the iconic poet whose "candle burned at both ends." I highly recommend
A Girl Called Vincent to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!