Monday, January 30, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

A Collection of Winnie-the-Pooh Stories
A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard

The Best Bear in All the World
by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, & Kate Saunders
Illustrated by Mark Burgess

Amazon Description:
For the 90th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, a sequel featuring new stories from the Hundred Acre Wood.

The Trustees of the Pooh Properties have commissioned four authors to write in the timeless style of A.A. Milne to create a quartet of charming new adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall: take a trip back to the Hundred Acre Wood with a collection of tales sure to delight year-round.

My Thoughts:
The recently released collection of new Winnie-the-Pooh stories - The Best Bear in All the World - is delightful! I thoroughly enjoyed the imaginative tales with their accompanying whimsical illustrations. There is a story set in each of the four seasons - and even one new character introduced.(Inspired by one of the real Christopher Robin's stuffed animals.) If you're a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh, this little book is a must read. I highly recommend The Best Bear in All the World for children - and book collectors - of all ages!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Dummy Book title page for Journey to Snowdonia
Dummy Books and Other Aids

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale - Journey to Snowdonia - is scheduled to be released in the fall.

One of the steps along the path to publication was to create a dummy book for our yuletide tale. Since we publish these illustrated short stories independently, this one via our small press, Thistleberry Books, we are not required to make a dummy book. However, there are several advantages to creating one. I like seeing images pertaining to the tales I pen, it helps me have a sense of the flow of the story. It's also a great way to share the vision of your story with fellow writers, and in some cases, agents and editors. If you plan to write & illustrate a picture book and have it traditionally published, a "dummy" is a must.

The "one sheet" for my MG novel: Livvi Biddle.

Another great way to present your work is a "one sheet." It's a printed page with your pitch, an image that represents your story, and your contact information. While it's true you should be able to recite your elevator pitch in a moment's notice, having a "one sheet" is a bit of security. Also, if an agent is interested in your idea, you can simply give her the page.

Finally, there are endless ways you can inspire and inform yourself with regard to your stories. A "Missing Person" poster for your protagonist; a "Wanted" poster for your antagonist; or even a collage of interesting images that represent your plot, setting, &/or characters.

Be sure to save these fun and creative crafts. I failed to keep a couple for my very first novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek; I'm really bummed now. It's nostalgic to look back on your storyteller's journey!

Note: If you're a member of SCBWI, be sure to read the wonderful article in the recent Winter Bulletin by author, Candice Ransom. She creates a dummy book for her novels. I think I'll give that a try!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Circumlocution - noun
the use of unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea.
Example: The author was guilty of circumlocution in her writing, making the word count in her manuscript much too high.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Secret Keepers
by Trenton Lee Stewart

Amazon Description:
Eleven-year-old Reuben spends his days exploring, hiding, and practicing parkour among the abandoned buildings of the Lower Downs as a way to escape the rough times that have befallen him and his mom--but his discovery of an extraordinary antique pocket watch changes everything. When Reuben finds that the watch has the power to turn him invisible, he's propelled on the adventure of a lifetime.
Now Reuben is being pursued by a group of dangerous men called the Directions, and someone--or something--ominously called The Smoke. They all want the watch, and with the help of new friends, it's up to Reuben to unravel the mysteries surrounding it and protect the city from evil.

My Thoughts:
Trenton Lee Stewart - the author of The Mysterious Benedict Society Series - has penned another amazing novel for middle grade readers! The Secret Keepers is full of adventure, mystery, and magic; its characters are highly developed and riveting. The complex plot will keep readers of all ages guessing, right up to the last paragraph. I highly recommend The Secret Keepers to readers aged eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Trenton Lee Stewart.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Questions for America

This post is in honor of the 2017 United States Presidential Inauguration.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

A Fervent Wind

A fervent wind meanders through the forests, over the mountains, and across the prairies.

It creeps into every church, every mosque, every synagogue.

It wends its way through every window, every door, in every corner of the land.

The wind whispers into each ear, asking each heart:

Who is your brother?

Who is your neighbor?

Who is your responsibility?

The fervent wind is noble; its purpose is just.

How will we answer the wind, America?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Denouement - noun
the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.
Example: The author had difficulty with the denouement of her novel.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Finding Wonders
by Jeannine Atkins

Amazon Description:
A novel in verse about three girls in three different time periods who grew up to become groundbreaking scientists.
Maria Merian was sure that caterpillars were not wicked things born from mud, as most people of her time believed. Through careful observation she discovered the truth about metamorphosis and documented her findings in gorgeous paintings of the life cycles of insects.

More than a century later, Mary Anning helped her father collect stone sea creatures from the cliffs in southwest England. To him they were merely a source of income, but to Mary they held a stronger fascination. Intrepid and patient, she eventually discovered fossils that would change people’s vision of the past.

Across the ocean, Maria Mitchell helped her mapmaker father in the whaling village of Nantucket. At night they explored the starry sky through his telescope. Maria longed to discover a new comet—and after years of studying the night sky, she finally did.

My Thoughts:
Finding Wonders makes you look at the world and see the magic in everything around you. It's a book that every child would enjoy and benefit from, but especially young girls. The fact that Ms. Atkins wrote her novel in verse, makes it all the more enchanting. I highly recommend Finding Wonders to readers aged eight to fourteen.

Click here to learn more about the author, Jeannine Atkins.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Creating an Illustration
Over the holidays we finally completed the illustrations for my upcoming book: Journey to Snowdonia - it's set to be released in autumn.

While I say "we" it's really my husband, Michael Lindstrom, who is the artist. However, I am also involved since I ask him to create specific compositions. The photo shown above is a still life we set up to compose a painting that displayed two magical amulets and a vintage can of cinnamon. (The two main characters, who are siblings: Henry & Harriet, receive the amulets as a gift in the spice tin.) Since it's such a specific concept, we set up the still life with the appropriate objects so Michael would have something tangible to see while he painted.

Prior to setting up the still life, Michael had to drill holes in the slate tiles that would make our amulets. (Home Depot was a great resource. Since slate is a component in my Welsh holiday tale, the tiles were perfect.) I then added the red ribbon to create a necklace. (Red is the main color in this story's art.) Why he doesn't have his safety glasses on in this photo, I do not know!

I like the result so much that I may have him make more "amulets" to give away as swag. However, I couldn't assure the recipient that there is any magic in the amulet!

8x10 oil on panel - Michael Lindstrom - Copyright 2017
Here's the finished painting. Since each composition is photographed in high resolution the image we will use for the book looks much more vibrant and clear - but this helps give you an idea of what the process entails.

I am so grateful for having my husband, Michael, create the artwork for my books - it's such a blessing! I'm extremely busy right now working with the book's formatter, printer, and of course, its illustrator.

More updates on our next book, Journey to Snowdonia, soon!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mellifluous - adj.
(of a voice or words) sweet or musical; pleasant to hear.
Example: The writer was hoping the literary agent would find her prose mellifluous.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

by Tone Almhjell

Amazon Description:
Something strange is happening to the woods and water around Niklas Summerhill’s home: Animals are dying, Niklas’s grandmother doesn’t seem like herself, and his uncle is suddenly lost in grief over his sister, Niklas’s mother, who died seven years ago. When Niklas discovers an ancient key, he and his talking lynx companion, Secret, leave home behind to travel to a different realm. But this realm, populated by animals, is in danger as well: A tribe of evil trolls is wreaking havoc, a mysterious enemy called the Sparrow King is bringing his wrath down upon the animals, and the Rosa Toraquata, the root that connects this realm to Niklas’s own, has developed a dark twist that is infecting the land. Can Niklas and Secret save the animal realm—and their own?

My Thoughts:
Thornghost is the wonderful companion book to Ms. Almhjell's debut fantasy novel, The Twistrose Key. I'm a big fan of middle grade novels that include talking animals, and when a book is well-written - like this one - well, I'm a happy reader. Thornghost is magical, mysterious, suspenseful, and heartwarming; it's an adventure tale about courage and friendship. I highly recommend this novel to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Tone Almhjell.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Photo Credit: Public Domain
Obstacles Offer Opportunities

Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ~Michael Josephson

While many Americans are frustrated, fearful, and even full of anger following the U.S. Presidential Election, 2017 was a tough year for me in another way, personally. As I've already mentioned here on Writ of Whimsy, my younger sister, Karla Snider, unexpectedly passed away in November. So while I, too, am upset by the election results, losing a loved one is an even more painful experience, to say the least.

So how can we all make the best of 2017?

For me, it comes back to a principle I learned years ago after a devastating life experience - faith. Now to those of you who do not adhere to any kind of religion, or philosophy, I'm not speaking of the "go to church" kind of faith. I'm speaking of something very different.

Over the holidays my husband and I happened to have an insightful conversation with our son, David, and his wife, Jessica. Somehow we got on the subject that our lives, and the life of our nation, experience seasons, just like the natural world. It would be ludicrous to believe that we'll always experience sunny weather - especially in the Pacific Northwest! So why do we think our lives should always be full of ease and happiness? We must have faith in each season.

Seasons are a part of every aspect of life, whether we like it or not. Understanding that concept is the key to staying afloat through the tough times. During the challenging times it's important to find the positive amidst the pain. Every season presents us with gifts.

Finding opportunities amidst the obstacles in life is not easy, but it's the only way we can continue to move forward. Otherwise, the first storm we encounter will submerge us in doubt and depression.

If you're particularly politically minded, the current state of our country might be causing you severe stress right now. But it's important to understand that we were all put on this planet for a purpose. If you're a writer, make your writing so shine that the readers of your books will be uplifted and inspired. If you're an activist, by all means, march; protest; stand up for human rights. But, be sure to be who you are.

This scripture from Ecclesiastes/Kohelet says it best:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The thing is, it might be my time for one behavior, but for someone else, a time for a different behavior - or approach - to what we're experiencing. Let's support one another, and be at peace with one another this year - as much as is possible. Speak with kindness.

Look for opportunities amidst the obstacles - it is possible.

Photo Credit: Power of Positivity

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Maudlin - adj.
self-pitying or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.
Example: The young man became quite maudlin at the New Year's Eve party.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Ordinary People Change the World
by Brad Meltzer
We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this lively, collectible picture book biography series from New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer.
Kids always search for heroes, so we might as well have a say in it, Brad Meltzer realized, and so he envisioned this friendly, fun approach to biography for his own kids, and for yours. Each book tells the story of one of America’s icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, those who aren’t quite ready for the Who Was series. Each book focuses on a particular character trait that made that role model heroic. (Amazon description.)

My Thoughts:
This inspiring picture book series is the perfect way to begin the New Year! I was lucky enough to meet the author, Brad Meltzer, last fall when he signed the above books for me at a library fundraiser. (I would have purchased the entire series, but some of the titles were sold out!) The reason I quickly became a fan of Mr. Meltzer is due to the keynote address he gave at the fundraiser dinner. He spoke about  "Leaving a Legacy." He used the same philosophy in his speech as he used in his children's books: We can all be heroes. He spoke about his humble childhood beginnings and how the quality of his own family life left a profound impact upon him. He has never forgotten ordinary people.
Each book introduces the young reader to amazing heroes. I read the above group: I Am Martin Luther King; I Am Abraham Lincoln; I Am Helen Keller; I Am Jackie Robinson; I Am George Washington; I Am Rosa Parks; I Am Albert Einstein; I Am Lucille Ball; and I Am Jane Goodall - they were all written with wit and beautifully illustrated!

The New York Times bestselling author, television host, and friend to two U.S. Presidents is an extraordinary man. Click here to check out his website to learn more about Brad Meltzer - and his books.

Brad Meltzer signing my books!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Last year was extremely challenging, but a mere turn of the calendar page will unfortunately change nothing. I'll share my thoughts on Friday for how I hope to make my own 2017 as positive as possible.
Here's to a great year of writing - and reading - for all of us!