Friday, December 14, 2018

Season's Greetings!

Parkdale Cottage - Oil on canvas - 24X36 - Michael Lindstrom

Christmas will be extremely special this year since not only will we have our eldest son David, and his wife, Jessica, home for the holidays, but Brian will be here from NYC, and Kevin will return to the States from Peru! A big holiday celebration is sure to be in store. That being said, our thoughts will also be on those family members (my sister, & my father), whom we lost within the last two years. Be sure to cherish your loved ones, and to hold them close. 
If you'd like to read my recent quarterly newsletter, click here

(I'll be back on Writ of Whimsy in January.)

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


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Slake - (v.)
quench or satisfy one's thirst.
Example: The eggnog didn't seem to slake Santa's thirst.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

by Sean Hayes & Scott Icenogle

Flap Copy Description:
Plum will not stay glum.

For as long as she can remember, Plum has lived at the Mary Fitzgerald Orphanage, wishing and hoping for a family. When a sudden snowfall threatens a delivery of presents on Christmas Eve, Plum is determined to save Christmas—even for the kids who laugh at her.

Plum’s pure heart grants her an unexpected reward. When she eats a cake left behind by a mysterious magician, she is transported into the Land of Sweets. But Christmas here is threatened, too—by a sourness that is spreading from the center of the land. Plum’s determined to help, and in doing so, she might just find the family she’s always dreamed of, thanks to a good heart—and Christmas magic!

My Thoughts:
Plum is a unique holiday picture book, full of magic and wonder. Its story is a small reminder that maintaining a kind heart - even when others are not so nice - is its own reward. However, in this enchanting tale, Plum is also rewarded in an unexpected way: She becomes a member in a very special royal family! The lovely illustrations by Robin Thompson perfectly bring Plum to life. I highly recommend this holiday picture book for children aged three to seven!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Celebration of Light

During the December holidays, themes of love, kindness, and compassion are all around us. As writers of books for children, we should always strive to include these important themes.
In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!"

As I've mused on the ways that our hearts are inspired during the holidays, the idea of Light came to mind. Light is an important element in Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Why is that? While in each celebration light symbolizes something a bit different than the others, one thing they all have in common is the idea that love is light.

In the writing of fantasy stories - or movies - a common theme is: Light will overcome the Darkness. While that may seem like a convenient premise for writers, I believe it's true. If light is love, then Love will overcome Hate is another way to basically say the same thing.

In these dark and turbulent political times, it's more important than ever that our stories reflect a kindness, acceptance, compassion, and love toward all mankind. It is up to us, those who speak to the next generation through our stories, to remind our youth that being of the highest character (being a good person!) is the best gift they can give themselves. Spreading the light of love can be done everyday in big and small ways. It's the only way our society will return to some human decency; if we each strive to shine a bit brighter in our world.

"To defeat the darkness out there, you must defeat the darkness in yourself." C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Runnel (n.)
1- a narrow channel
2- a small brook, or stream of liquid
Example: A runnel of sweat ran down the athlete's nose.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Wolf in the Snow
by Matthew Cordell

Goodreads Description:
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?

Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts.

My Thoughts:
When I learned that Matthew Cordell's book, Wolf in the Snow had won the 2018 Caldecott medal, I immediately purchased a copy last February. Since it's so special, I waited to feature it until nearly this winter. (I strongly recommend it be read with a big mug of hot cocoa!) It's hard to overstate the beauty of Mr. Cordell's illustrations, and they so perfectly bring his wintertime tale to life. I love the ending of this timeless book; it is sure to bring joy to your heart this holiday season!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Matthew Cordell.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Santa Catalina Arch - Antigua, Guatemala
Inspiration from Locations; Inspiration from Illustrations

While I was in Antigua, Guatemala, an idea for a middle grade novel began rattling around in my brain. (Most of my inspiration comes from a specific place.) I wanted to document my experience not only in photos, but in some sort of creativity. And since I was on a tour with a group of artists, I decided it was about time I try my hand at a watercolor!

As I got into painting the clock tower, I could see right away how boring my painting looked. So, I decided to try the technique made famous by Georges Seurat - painting in small dots of color. It was a good idea, but Seurat was a wizard at creating patterns and textures. Oh well...

Here's the thing: It's not about how well you can paint, draw, or sketch; it's about your rendition of the place you want to remember. Especially if it's meant as a reference for a future story. In that sense, my watercolor was a success. I remember much more about the clock tower & arch from looking at my painting. Because I labored over it, studied the subject, and remember that white cloud that was behind the cross. I feel much more connected to that spot than if I'd just snapped a photo. (Don't get me wrong, I love taking photos!)

My point is, whenever it's possible, attempt to create a sketch, drawing, painting, etc. that will help you connect to a person, place, or thing that is significant in your story. Remember: this exercise is for you, to help you connect with your story. You need not share it with anyone else.

In September I had the most magical experience that ties into this subject. While I was at the SCBWI Fall Retreat in Silverton, OR, several illustrators in attendance were kind enough to sketch or draw a small snippet of stories written by the writers who were also in attendance. The talented artist that sketched a scene from my MG novel, Livvi Biddle - The Secret at Stonehenge, was Erin Hourigan.

Illustration by Erin Hourigan - 9/20/18
What Erin created brought tears to my eyes. I have worked on Livvi Biddle for seven years (I'm now sending out queries), and never seen an actual sketch or drawing of any part of my story. I love what Ms. Hourigan sketched! In fact, she somehow captured the feeling I was hoping to create by the words on the first page of my book. Thanks again, Erin! (Click here to see her work.)

So, whether you create a sketch, drawing, or painting of your story - or you're lucky enough to have a talented artist do it - having a visual rendition of a person, place or thing is invaluable as you work through your manuscript. Besides, it's a great way to take a break & have fun!

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Miscellany - (n.)
a group or collection of different items; a mixture.
Example: The wizard's hut was cluttered with a miscellany of magical items.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Little Man Little Man
by James Baldwin
Illustrated by Yoran Cazac

Flap Copy Description:
Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a "Little Man' with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin's only children's book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.

My Thoughts:
This unique children's book by one of America's greatest writers is just as relevant today as when it was first published in 1976. This new edition includes a foreword by Baldwin's nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. I absolutely loved reading Little Man, Little Man! The colloquial language used by Mr. Baldwin is wonderful, and the story (in vignettes) provides an authentic look at life in Harlem from a black child's perspective. Additionally, the book's 96 pages were charmingly illustrated by the Parisian artist, Yoran Cazac. I highly recommend Little Man, Little Man to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn about legendary writer/intellectual, James Baldwin.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Reflections on Thankfulness

As the years in my life have elapsed one by one, I've slowly realized that I'm really thankful for everything. Yes, everything. 

Those experiences, situations, or even people who have seemed negative at first, I now see that they were sent to teach me, strengthen me, and/or humble me. Once I realized that, it became clear to me that relaxing, and going with the flow, was what I needed to work on - the rest will be what it will be. God and his universe will have His way.

That being said, family and friends will always be what I am most thankful for. This holiday season Michael (my husband) and I will be joined by all three of our adult sons, as well as our amazing daughter-in-law, for Christmas. It's been a while since we've all been home for the holidays. (Last year, we were in Arizona for my father's funeral.)

L-R: Michael, Victoria, Kevin, Brian, Jessica, & David 

Whether you have family close to you or not this holiday season, reach out to your friends. They need you just as much as you need them. My extended family is a typical American family: Different political parties and different religions, all combined together into a beautiful blended family. Maybe that's the way it was supposed to be: To teach us about a deeper love, a more enduring bond, and a better understanding of one another. May this holiday season find you closer to those you love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Orison - (n.)
a prayer.
Example: The father began his family's Thanksgiving dinner with a brief orison.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider
by Barbara Herkert

Flap Copy Description:
When young Elwyn White lay in bed as a sickly child, a bold house mouse befriended him. When the time came for kindergarten, an anxious Elwyn longed for the farm, where animal friends awaited him at the end of each day. Propelled by his fascination with the outside world, he began to jot down his reflections in a journal. Writing filled him with joy, and words became his world.

My Thoughts:
The recently released A Boy, a Mouse, and a Spider by Barbara Herkert is magical on multiple levels! For fans of Charlotte's Web, learning about the life of that book's author, E. B. White, will add to their knowledge of the classic children's book. For lovers of beautiful illustrations, readers will be entranced by the artwork of Lauren Castillo. For writers, learning about the journey that Mr. White took on his way to becoming the author of some of America's best-loved classics will be inspirational. Finally, for children with health issues or insecurities, learning that E. B. White had his own health challenges - and battled fears for most of his childhood - will be relatable and encouraging. I highly recommend this extraordinary picture book to readers aged four to seven. Ms. Herkert has penned another beautiful biography!

Click here to learn more about the author, Barbara Herkert.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Lauren Castillo.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Yuly Hoffens Elis receives my book donation at Xela Aid in San Martin, Guatemala
An Amazing Adventure!

My trip to Guatemala was beyond anything I ever could have imagined! There are many reasons for that, but the main reason was the Guatemalan people, for sure.

Prior to registering for this extraordinary trip (which was a collaboration between Art Ambassador for a Colorful World and Xela AID) we began sponsoring this little girl. Her name is Catarina. When we decided we wanted to pledge to support a child in Guatemala, Catarina's biography stood out to me because she stated she liked to read, and wanted to become a teacher so that she could provide for her family. The other factor in making our decision was that we were hoping to support a girl - since we have three awesome, grown sons already! To say that we hit it off with Catarina would be a gross understatement. She's absolutely wonderful in so many ways: Kind, considerate, appreciative, and so intelligent. We're honored she is in our lives.

Since Catarina likes to read, we gave her these two books in Spanish: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle and An Old Gray Cat, by Tono Malpica. (I bought the latter book in a tiny bookstore in Antigua, Guatemala.)

While Catarina loves to read, she discovered for the first time that she also loves to paint! My husband Michael, is so smitten with this lovely little girl - and so am I. We hope to return to Guatemala in 2019 to see her.

I was honored to be pictured with these women & little girl who live in San Martin.
The Mayan people are hesitant to be photographed, believing that a piece of their soul might be stolen. However, I was able to "visit" with these three for some time, while Michael painted nearby. They were actually anxious to be photographed!

All of the beauty, color, and love of the Guatemalan people filled my senses while I was there. I have completed an outline for a middle grade novel inspired by Catarina. The picture on the left is of me writing the very first sentences of the new book (albeit it the first draft), while sitting in the Xela AID center in San Martin, Guatemala.

I did more research for the proposed MG novel while we were at Lake Atitlan in Jaibalito, Guatemala. If you are interested in receiving updates to this current project, click the link, then scroll down that page to register to receive my author quarterly newsletters:  

Lake Atitlan - Jaibalito, Guatemala

There are so many positive things I took away from Guatemala, far more than I gave. (If you've ever done any volunteering, you know what I mean.) However, during this season of thanksgiving I'm reminded that not only do I have so much to be thankful for, but so do the people of Guatemala. Their dignity, work ethic, kindness, and love brought me to tears while I was there. Prior to actually meeting a person we all sometimes make negative prejudgments - I know I did about Guatemala. However, I now see that country as a hidden jewel among other more affluent nations. I was honored and blessed to meet so many extraordinary people while we were there. The Mayans of Guatemala, in there traditional colorful clothing, are the most stunning people. We're already planning to return to that beautiful country, with its deep valleys, soaring volcanic mountains, and historic cathedrals and architecture. Then, too, there is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua! All in all, Guatemala truly is the Land of Eternal Spring.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Embarking on an Art Adventure!

As I mentioned on Monday, I'll be travelling to Guatemala with the non-profit organization Art Ambassador for a Colorful World next week. The opening sentence of the organization's mission statement is something I whole-heartedly support: "We believe art has the power to change the world." While my husband is an oil painter and will contribute his talent, I plan to donate the books on the left to the school in the remote Guatemalan Highlands that educates the Mayan children living there. We are over-the-top excited for this trip!

I've also volunteered to promote literacy with the children and to work with ESL students (through an interpreter). In addition to those activities, I'll keep busy by: learning to weave a basket, taking loads of photos, hiking in the highlands, and writing and sketching in my journals. (Maybe Guatemala will even inspire me to write a new story!) This unique trip is an extraordinary opportunity to grow, and to give.

The organization Xela AID is the group that has partnered with Art Ambassador for a Colorful World to host the participating artists. They are committed to the people in central Guatemala and have worked there tirelessly for 25 years. Since they're so familiar with the Guatemalan Highlands we are confident we'll have a great experience.

Because we won't return from the trip until the middle of November, 
I'll be taking a break from blogging - but I promise to post a lengthy account of my trip, including several photographs, after I return! 

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Pasquinade - (n.)
a satire or lampoon, originally one displayed or delivered in a public place.
Example: The senator delivered a political pasquinade of his opponent at the rally.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

The Only Road
by Alexandra Diaz

Flap Copy Description:
Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead.

Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Ángela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico.
Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life.

My Thoughts:
When my husband and I began planning a trip to Guatemala (scheduled for October 29th - November 13th), I immediately started searching for a middle grade novel that was set in that Central American country. I couldn't have discovered a more remarkable - or relevant - story than The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz! The extraordinary book tells a tale of sacrifice, courage and danger as a young boy and his cousin leave Guatemala after being threatened by their town's resident gang, The Alphas. While the book takes the reader on the children's journey through Mexico and finally into the U.S., the culture and condition of Guatemala is felt with every turn of a page. In 2017 The Only Road was a Pura Belpre Honor book. This middle grade novel is a must-read for young readers, especially in light of the struggle our country currently faces regarding immigration reform. No matter who you are, you'll see the subject of immigration in a whole new light. I highly recommend The Only Road to readers aged eight to twelve!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Champions of Creativity

Ursula K. Le Guin

This Sunday would have been the eighty-ninth birthday of the iconic author, Ursula Le Guin. I was lucky enough to hear her speak at the Wordstock Book Festival in November of 2015, in Portland, Oregon.

Since Ms. Le Guin and her husband, Charles, moved to Portland, Oregon in 1958, her legion of Pacific Northwest fans consider her their own. However, the truth is, Ursula had a colorful tapestry of places where she resided and experienced life. She was born on October 21, 1929 in Berkeley, California. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother a writer. Consequently, she grew up in an intellectual environment that included family friends that included: scientists, writers, Native Americans, and college students. Ursula had stated that her dynamic childhood was something for which she was extremely grateful. She wrote her first fantasy story at the tender age of nine!

After graduating from Berkeley High School, she studied at Radcliffe, Columbia, and then won a Fulbright grant to continue her education in France. From 1951 to 1961 she wrote five novels - all of which were rejected by publishers! During that time she also wrote poetry and short stories, some of those stories were published. It wasn't until 1964 that she had the first story of her Earthsea fantasy series published: "The Word of Unbinding." She went on to write and publish numerous fantasy works, becoming an iconic fantasy children's book author.

When she was asked about what had influenced her writing, she responded: "Once I learned to read, I read everything. I read all the famous fantasies - Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows, and Kipling....this stuff is so beautiful, and so strange, and I want to do something like that."

Indeed she did just that.

Ms. Le Guin's literary works often blended fantasy with science fiction, but she always bristled at being pigeon-holed into any one genre. She was a tough-minded feminist whose works often included themes of environmentalism and anarchism. She wrote numerous titles during her long life, not only for children, but for adults as well. Ursula won numerous awards during her illustrious career - too many to mention.

Ursula Le Guin died on January 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Naif - (n.)
a naïve or ingenuous person.
(adj.) naïve or ingenuous.
Example: The newspaper reporter was nothing more than a naif regarding his account of the story.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

When You Grow Up to Vote
by Eleanor Roosevelt
with Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Grace Lin

Flap Copy Description:
In the voice of one of the most iconic and beloved political figures of the twentieth century comes a book on citizenship for the future voters of the twenty-first century. Eleanor Roosevelt published the original edition of When You Grow Up to Vote in 1932, the same year her husband was elected president. The new edition has updated information and back matter as well as fresh, bold art from award-winning artist Grace Lin. Beginning with government workers like, firefighters and garbage collectors, and moving up through local government to the national stage, this book explains that the people in government work for the voter.
Fresh, contemporary, and even fun, When You Grow Up to Vote is the book parents and teachers need to talk to children about how our government is designed to work.

My Thoughts:
Reading the words of our nation's most extraordinary First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, was extremely inspirational. When You Grow Up to Vote was a reminder that our most sacred duty as U.S. citizens is to VOTE! What a wonderful way to educate children about the local, state, and federal positions that they will be called upon to vote on one day. The lovely artwork by Grace Lin perfectly illustrates the book; it is contemporary and classic at the same time. I highly recommend this unique book to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to read a biography about Eleanor Roosevelt.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Grace Lin.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
A Writer's Up & Down Life

Last Friday I discussed the importance of just "jumping in" at some point along your storyteller's journey. That being said, there is no way to avoid the "ups and downs" that come with being a writer.

So what's a scribe to do??

In this post I'll share some techniques to deal with a writer's up & down life; much of which I learned the hard way along my rocky road as a writer. Here are just a few:

* The first thing I learned was that no one escapes the ups and downs - they're both exciting and excruciating.

* The journey is best shared as you experience it with friends.

* Have other interests besides writing. I love gardening, reading, traveling, and spending time with my family & friends.

* Understand you've signed up for a marathon, not a sprint. It will take a long time to realize your goals.

* Take an occasional break from writing, or at least from social networking. (I always take a summer break from blogging, but I continue working on my current project.)

* Keep your eyes on a goal. Whether it's reaching a daily word count, finishing a manuscript, or participating in NaNoWriMo - make sure the goal is attainable. While gaining agent representation is a great goal, it's so important that you have goals that are more in your control. Meeting some smaller goals will be a powerful fuel for your journey.

*Finally, have fun! Like a roller coaster ride, your journey can be exhilarating or traumatic. Be courageous and embrace the experience.

Treading my storyteller's path has taught me so much about life!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Maw - (n.)
the jaws or throat of a voracious animal.
Example: The peasant man peered down the maw of the monster just before he stabbed, and killed it.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

They Say Blue
by Jillian Tamaki

Flap Copy Description:
Caldecott and Printz Honor-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know — she hasn’t seen one.

My Thoughts:
Ms. Tamaki has created a colorful masterpiece of a picture book! The text and illustrations are both exquisite. One of the elements of They Say Blue that I most admire is the movement and rhythm of the story. The book felt like a wonderful waterfall I was traveling upon. It's not surprising that the art of Jillian Tamaki, a 2015 Caldecott Honor winner, is simply spectacular. 
I highly recommend They Say Blue for children aged three to seven!

Click here to learn about author/illustrator, Jillian Tamaki.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Public Domain Photo
Jumping In!

Each month we host a get-together for a small group of artists in our home. Last month we happened to land upon the topic of how important it is to just "jump in" as an artist.

Since that meeting I've mused about what jumping in has meant to me as a writer. For every creative (professional) endeavor, one must have a great working knowledge of the craft. But, might it be possible to get so caught up in the rules that a writer fails to ever just jump in?

I believe so.

It's much easier to continue to study one's craft, than to ever just jump in. Fear is an obstacle that must be overcome before we can ever grow into our potential. On the flip side, impatience can sometimes be a writer's obstacle. If she doesn't want to take the time necessary to learn her craft, she might jump in prematurely, setting her career back.

I've been both impatient and fearful at different times along my journey.

How does one determine if it's time to jump in? Each writer must answer that question for herself. A  storyteller's journey is as unique as each writer. A good rule: Be professional every step along the way.

Jumping in was the key to my progress. After taking two college writing courses from an excellent author, I decided that no matter what, I, too, was going to be a published author. I began making choices like a published author. Here is a list of some of my choices:

* I set aside writing time that was non-negotiable
* I began attending as many writer events as possible
* I read loads of books on the craft of writing
* I began blogging regularly
* I began networking on social media sites regularly
* I have friendships with other writers
* I had a professional website created
* I purchased business cards
* I hired a professional editor
* I regularly attend a writers' critique group
* I send out quarterly newsletters
* I ultimately independently published three books
* I've had my own book signing events.

For me, I came to a "brick wall" and felt that to continue learning, I needed to keep moving forward. But to move forward, the next step was to publish my book independently. So, I jumped in.

When I jumped in, I was quickly overwhelmed. However, I also soon learned how to swim the waters of the publishing industry. Acquiring book formatting/a book cover/ISBN numbers, communicating with a major printing company, and scheduling book events, are just a few of the experiences that I am now confident I can do. (Also, since I'm an introvert, I believe that having my own book events was invaluable to my growth as an author.) Along the way, I also "learned the lingo" of the KidLit world. (Like all professions, we have our own language!)

The reason I say all this is that many of the *items in the list above are things that some writers would be afraid to do - like maintaining a website. I've heard so many writers say, "I've never had a book published. Why do I need a website?" (At least you need to obtain a domain name.) When you have your first book published, learning to navigate a website and other social media sites is not what you should be thinking about; it should be about marketing your book and starting another! There is so much work you can do prior to being published.

Jump in!

Remember: There's no substitute for writing on a daily basis.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Obstreperous - (adj.)
noisy and difficult to control.
Example: While the daycare worker claimed the children were obstreperous, all they needed was some kindness.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Tiny, Perfect Things
by M.H. Clark
Illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

Flap Copy Description:
The whole world is a treasure waiting to be found. Open your eyes and see the wonderful things all around. This is the story of a child and a grandfather whose walk around the neighborhood leads to a day of shared wonder as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together. With rhythmic storytelling and detailed and intricate illustrations, this is a book about how childlike curiosity can transform ordinary days into extraordinary adventures.

My Thoughts:
This recently released picture book features a lovely story with whimsical illustrations. (I love the artwork by Madeline Kloepper!)
Tiny, Perfect Things encourages children to not only see the wondrous things all around them - especially in nature - but to use their imagination and engage their curiosity to think about what they're seeing. I highly recommend it to readers aged three to seven!

Click here to read an interview with author, M. H. Clark.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Madeline Kloepper.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

A Fantastic Kick-off to Fall!

The first day of fall kicked off for me with the SCBWI Oregon Retreat in Silverton, Oregon. Lots of excited writers and illustrators gathered together for three power-packed days.

The participants received lots of great information - and inspiration - from a faculty of four awesome agents (L-R): Jill Corcoran; Christy Tugeau Ewers; Adria Goetz; and Jenna Pocius. (Ms. Corcoran has accepted a new position with the Smithsonian - beginning on 10/1/18.)

The retreat was held at the Oregon Garden; the 80-acre botanical garden includes a whimsical children's garden - so wonderful for kids! Below are a few images from that lovely little garden:

This blue door pays homage to the classic children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden. (The door opens into a lovely secluded garden of its own!)

The Children's Garden even includes this hobbit door! While I didn't see either Bilbo, or Frodo Baggins, the door did bring J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to mind.

The second day of the event I took a break with my critique partner, Kriston; we took a tram on a tour of the beautiful gardens. As we passed these two "clay people", the tour guide said, "And here we have Mr. and Mrs. Potts!" The quirky pair seemed to be saying, "Welcome to our little corner of the garden."

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Oregon Garden; spending time in the out of doors is one of my favorite things to do! L, Kriston - R, Victoria   Photo by Deb Cushman

While my visit to the Oregon Garden was wonderful, the main purpose for my visit to Silverton, Oregon was to attend the SCBWI Fall Retreat. I had a fantastic time! Learning from the four prominent literary agents - and making new friends - was extremely inspirational. Many thanks to the Oregon Regional Co-Advisors: Laura Byrd and Kimbra Kasch - and to Robyn Waters, Regional Illustrator Coordinator - for all the time and effort they put in to create such a successful SCBWI Fall Retreat! 🙂

Wishing everyone an awesome autumn season!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Cavil - (v.)
to make petty or unnecessary objections.
Example: The politician chose to cavil on and on during his filibuster.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Hawk Rising
Maria Gianferrari
Illustrated by
Brian Floca

Flap Copy Description:
In the companion to Coyote Moon, follow a red-tailed hawk in his hunt to feed his family in this picture book, from Maria Gianferrari (Coyote Moon) and illustrated by Brian Floca. Complete with back matter containing more information about how hawks hunt, nest, and raise families, as well as further sources.

Early morning and a ruffle of feathers,

A shadow gliding through the backyard.

High above your house Father Hawk circles, sharp eyes searching for prey. From the front porch, you watch.


He dives after chipmunks, crows, sparrows, squirrels.


The sun sets low in the sky. What’s for dinner?

My Thoughts:
Since I love to watch the hawks & eagles near my home, I was anxious to read Hawk Rising by Ms. Gianferrari. I was not disappointed! This beautiful picture book - with exquisite illustrations by Brian Floca - will engage little children and encourage them to get out into nature. (One scene in the book shows Father Hawk grabbing a squirrel, and later carrying it away. Parents should read that portion prior to reading the book to their very young children to determine if it's appropriate.) I highly recommend Hawk Rising to readers aged five to seven.

Click here to learn about author, Maria Gianferrari.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Brian Floca.