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.