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.