Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Metanoia (n.)
the journey of changing one's mind, heart, self, or way of life.
Example: After the mother's children had all left home she embarked on a difficult metanoia.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

by Claire Legrand

Flap Copy Description:
Orphan. Thief. Witch.

Twelve-year-old Quicksilver dreams of becoming the greatest thief in the Star Lands. With her faithful dog and partner-in-crime Fox, she’s well on her way—even if that constantly lands them both in trouble. It’s a lonesome life, sleeping on rooftops and stealing food for dinner, but Quicksilver doesn’t mind. When you’re alone, no one can hurt you. Or abandon you.

But the seemingly peaceful Star Lands are full of danger. Witches still exist—although the powerful Wolf King and his seven wolves have been hunting them for years. Thankfully, his bloody work is almost complete. Soon the Star Lands will be safe, free of the witches and their dark magic.

Then one day a strange old woman and her scruffy dog arrive in Quicksilver’s town and perform extraordinary magic. Real magic—forbidden and dangerous. Magic Quicksilver is desperate to learn. With magic like that, she could steal anything her heart desires. She could even find her parents.

But the old woman is not what she seems, and soon Quicksilver has to decide—will she stay at home and remain a thief? Or will she embark upon the adventure of a lifetime and become a legend?

My Thoughts:
Over the past several years I've become a fan of the books by Claire Legrand. First I read Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, and I followed that novel up with The Year of Shadows. Both were brilliant! Now, in her recent middle grade fantasy novel, Foxheart, she treats the reader to the same excellent storytelling as in her former books. In fact, I would say this novel is even more complex and entertaining. (A good sign that an author is continuing to develop her craft!) I highly recommend Foxheart to readers from the ages of eight and up!

Click here to learn more about the author Claire Legrand.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Make It Matter

As writers of fiction, we spend much, if not most, of our time considering such things as plot, setting, dialogue,  & strength of scenes - not to mention the issue of character development!

There are other elements to crafting a quality story, but one that is not stressed enough is the importance of a strong & meaningful theme.

Does my story matter? Is there an underlying message in my story that matters to me personally? Would it matter to my potential readers?

Writing "what we know" can also mean writing "what matters to us." What has deeply touched us in our lives? What has wounded us?

There is an endless list of experiences that may have touched us.
Here is a short list of examples:

Loss of a job, a dream, a friend, etc.
Raising a child with challenges
Dealing with a chronic medical condition
Lack of finances

Then there are the numerous stories we all see everyday in the news. War, famine, sickness, political strife, etc. There are also accounts of inspirational heroism and sacrifice. Stories that touch our hearts.

A great example of a story that was created by an author who was moved with compassion is the middle grade novel Wonder.

Ms. Palacio was moved to write her novel by this experience:

"Palacio wrote Wonder after an incident where she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with facial birth defects. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation. Natalie Merchant's song "Wonder" made her realize that the incident could teach society a valuable lesson. Palacio was inspired by Merchant's lyrics and she began writing." (Wikipedia)

As you can see the experience Ms. Palacio had with her son grabbed hold of her heart and wouldn't let go. Thankfully she was moved to write her inspirational novel that has touched so many in our society.

The important thing to remember as writers is to connect with our hearts and create a story from there. It is not enough to evaluate possible themes without being personally affected by them. Each of us is touched by a wide array of meaningful subjects everyday.

We all need to have the courage to create the story only we can write.

Make It Matter.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Coddiwomple (v.)
to travel purposefully towards a vague destination.
Example: The hiker slowly realized that he was lost as he coddiwompled around the woods.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

The Crows of Pearblossom
by Aldous Huxley
Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Flap Copy Description:
Written in 1944 by Aldous Huxley as a Christmas gift for his niece, The Crows of Pearblossom tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who live in a cottonwood tree. The hungry Rattlesnake that lives at the bottom of the tree has a nasty habit of stealing Mrs. Crow's eggs before they can hatch, so Mr. Crow and his wise friend, Old Man Owl, devise a sneaky plan to trick him. 

My Thoughts:
When I learned that Aldous Huxley had written a children's book, I immediately ordered it. What a delightful discovery! While the story is a bit dark - not unlike some fairy tales of that era - the plot does not suffer unduly, and I found this beautiful book to be a rare find. The whimsical illustrations by Sophie Blackall perfectly illuminate the tale of the two anthropomorphic crows, as well as their friend, Old Man Owl. I highly recommend The Crows of Pearblossom to all young readers!

Click here to read the biography of Aldous Huxley.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Your Book
Part III
Last Friday I discussed the different ways I've marketed my books after their publication. This week I'll share other fun and creative ways to market your books. (Some of these ideas involve a bit of financial investment, so I consider them optional.)

Bookmark for my soon-to-be released children's book!
Bookmarks are a great item to include when a person purchases your book. You can also use them as swag for people who attend your book event, even if they do not choose to purchase one of your books.

Hand-made slate "amulets" make great swag.

Use your imagination to create an item that relates to your book. In Journey to Snowdonia the two children featured in my tale receive magical slate amulets from a mysterious woman in the woods. Some ideas to create or buy include: fairy wands, pencils, buttons, etc. An item that relates to your story is best!

                          Book trailer for my upcoming book: Journey to Snowdonia

Whether or not book trailers sell more books is something I cannot say. What I do know is that they create a fun and entertaining medium for young readers. I've received comments from parents & kids, stating how much they enjoy them - but they're definitely an optional item.

This is the third and final post regarding marketing. The points I've made during the past few weeks have been ideas that have worked for me. However, marketing is something that can be tailor made for each author. Your book, your personality, and your location, all contribute to the marketing style that will work for you. But whether you're published traditionally or independently, get ready to do a lot of work!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ignominious - (adj.)
deserving or causing public disgrace or shame.
Example: The Independent politician experienced an ignominious defeat.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Monet Paints a Day
Written by Julie Danneberg - Illustrated by Caitlin Heimerl

Flap Copy Description:
In November 1885, impressionist painter Claude Monet vacationed in √Čtretat, France, where he spent his days outside, painting scenes of the seaside village. One morning he rose early and carried all of his supplies and half-finished paintings out to the cliffs and rocky beach, finally stopping to paint the arch called Manneporte. Eager to capture the scene before him, and aware that he must work quickly to catch the light, Monet became so engrossed in his work that he forgot to watch the incoming tide. Based on a true incident, MONET PAINTS A DAY introduces readers to the life and nature of this illustrious impressionist.

My Thoughts;
Since I love impressionist paintings - and admire those of Claude Monet in particular - Monet Paints a Day was a winner for me! Additionally, I've outlined a middle grade novel that includes the iconic French artist as a secondary character, so this little book served as a reference as well. Its text and paintings are meant to introduce children to Impressionism, and to Claude Monet - it succeeds on both counts. Beautiful water colors - done in Monet's color palette - transport the reader back to Normandy France where the "Father of Impressionism" lived, painted scenes, and spent most of his time. I highly recommend Monet Paints a Day to readers from the ages of eight to eighty!

Click here to learn more about the author, Julie Danneberg.
Click here to learn more about the artist, Caitlin Heimerl.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Your Book
Part II
Last Friday I posted an introduction to "Marketing Your Book" prior to the release of your novel. Today I'll share different ways you can promote your book once it's been published. These techniques are those I've found to be valuable in marketing my own books.

After the release of your book make sure to continue to employ your online sites to promote your novel as was mentioned last week.

In addition to those online techniques, a number of other book events can be held, since you now have your books in hand:

*Book Launch Events - Can be held at a bookstores, libraries, etc.
*Readings of your book - At a local library, elementary school, etc.
*Book Events - Can be scheduled at all sorts of shops, galleries, etc.
*Festivals & Fairs - Many festivals & fairs can be possible venues for your book. (My biggest sales for The Scandinavian Santa have come from ScanFair in Portland, Oregon!)

Make sure to continue to network with your writer/author friends. Some of them might make great resources for book promotion opportunities.
Remember to return the favor when you can. While my friends are faithful to attend my book events, I always try to do the same for them.

Next Friday: Other fun and creative ways to promote your book!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plaudits - (n.)
Example: The production company received plaudits for its groundbreaking cinematography.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

Princess Cora and the Crocodile
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrated by Brian Floca

Flap Copy Description:
A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an over scheduled princess a day off and a wicked crocodile a day "on."

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She's sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She's sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won't let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn't expect help to come in the form of a crocodile, a crocodile who does not behave properly.

My Thoughts:
The beautiful writing of Ms. Schlitz is brilliantly brought to life by Mr. Floca's whimsical illustrations, making Princess Cora and the Crocodile a must-read for children! I loved how the princess executed her mischievous plan to change the hearts of her parents (and nanny) with a bit of help from a clever crocodile. I highly recommend this illustrated chapter book to readers from the ages of six to twelve!

Click here to learn more about author Laura Amy Schlitz.
Click here to learn more about illustrator Brian Floca.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Storyteller's Journey

Marketing Your Book
Part I
As I've mentioned here on Writ of Whimsy before, my next children's book, Journey to Snowdonia, will be released in September. Since I'm in the early stages of marketing that book, I thought I'd blog about how I do the marketing for all of my books.

In this post I'll address the steps every author should be taking to promote her book(s). On the following two Fridays I'll post additional - and creative - techniques that I have employed to market my books.

As writers, we are each aware of the importance of creating our author platform. Facebook, Twitter, a blog, a website, are the most common ways to create an online presence, but there are other ways as well.

Hopefully your platform is in place before your debut book releases!

Beginning to tweet, post, or share only when your debut book releases is not a good idea. Having an online presence prior to your book's release allows your followers to become familiar with you & what you're interests are. Otherwise, your platform is really only a way to advertise your work. It sends a message that you're only interested in pushing your publication. Become acquainted with your friends/followers.

Prior to the release of your book there are a number of online techniques you can employ. Here are just a few effective possibilities:

*Cover Reveal - On your Facebook page(s), Twitter, Instagram, etc.

*Blog Tours - These are particularly successful if your books are YA.

*Contests/Giveaways - A great way to generate interest in your book.

If you're unsure on how to begin organizing these online events, there are numerous Book Promotion services you can employ. Be careful! Make sure to receive several recommendations before hiring a service.

Next Friday: Marketing your book once it's been released!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Whimsical Word of the Week

Oblate - (adj.)
(of a spheroid) flattened at the poles.
Example: The planet is not truly a sphere; it's has more of an oblate shape.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Bibliophile's Corner

We're All Wonders
Written & Illustrated by
R.J. Palacio

Flap Copy Description:
Auggie Knows He's Not An Ordinary Kid.
He does plenty of ordinary things. He feels ordinary. He just doesn't look ordinary.

Growing up as an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face isn't easy, but Auggie is a wonder. He and his trusty sidekick, Daisy, play ball, eat ice cream, and use their imaginations to soar through their days together. They know it's not just Auggie who's different. Everyone is different, and everyone is a wonder - if only they could see it.
Featuring the beloved hero from the worldwide bestselling sensation Wonder, this original adventure taps into every child's longing to be seen for who they truly are.

My Thoughts:
As with Ms. Palacio's other Wonder books, We're All Wonders is fantastic! This picture book brilliantly conveys to younger children the same message of kindness and tolerance as the previous books that inspired the "choose kind" movement across the county. Written with truth & compassion, and exquisitely illustrated, We're All Wonders is a keepsake in my house. (A great title to read to young guests.) I highly recommend this powerful little book to readers aged four to seven!

Click here to learn more about author R.J. Palacio.