Friday, March 30, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

My Quirky Confession

Since embarking on my storyteller's journey ten years ago, my path to publication has taken me from coast to coast as I've attempted to learn from numerous accomplished authors. Some of those trips coincided with visits to my sons. (Two of them - Kevin & Brian - reside in Brooklyn, NY, and my eldest, David, lived in Los Angeles, CA, with his wife, Jessica from 2014-2017. David & Jessica recently moved back to the Pacific Northwest.) Photo credit: Public Domain.

Invariably, while attending workshops and conferences, I'm asked (like many writers) the question: "How long have you been writing?" My response has usually included an explanation about being a former dental hygienist who sustained a wrist injury and turned to writing. Fellow writers are always polite, but a few have looked at me like I'm an alien who has landed on their exclusive planet where only talented writers, authors, illustrators, and industry professionals can survive.

I don't blame them.

I entered the world of children's literature late; my college degree is unrelated to writing; and I approach my craft as a mission, not a business. Why, then, do I spend my time writing stories for children?

Here's my quirky confession:

After my wrist injury, that left me unable to continue in my dental hygiene career, I plummeted into a multi-month depression. Since I've always been a believer that "everything happens for a reason," I did a lot of soul searching. I did a lot of whining. I did a lot of praying. I realized the only other talent I remotely possessed - that might become a second career - was writing. (I'd been told by a high school English teacher that I should consider being a writer. I had also had two poems published in a poetry anthology in my twenties.) However, I had no idea how to become a serious writer, and I had no idea what to write.

Then, while spending time at a cabin in the Olympic National Forest, a story dropped into my mind. A complete outline for a children's book! A novel about anthropomorphic animals. I returned home and enrolled in two creative writing college courses. Years later, my outline became an adventure fantasy called: The Tale of Willaby Creek. (See sidebar.)

So, while I have every reason NOT to write, I CHOOSE to write.
Writing stories for children has saved my life. Yes, I hope to become a successful author, but no matter what the future holds, I will write. My deep love of reading and writing has found an outlet to blossom at last. I hope to inspire young readers with my stories, the way books inspired me as a youngster. Since my husband is a professional oil painter, and my illustrator, we thoroughly love  pursuing our passion for the arts together. We each hope to make the world just a little bit better by the creations we leave behind. What better way to spend one's life?

This quote by J.K. Rowling has become one of my favorites:

Happy Easter!  Happy Passover!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

It's Time for a Break!

With the spring season just around the corner, I've decided to take a break from Writ of Whimsy for a couple of weeks. (We'll be heading to Cincinnati, Ohio for a working vacation!)
Click here to view my recent quarterly newsletter.
Wishing you a great Spring Break!

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hobbledehoy (n.)
an awkward teenager; one who is perpetually ungainly and uncertain.
Example: While the high school student was a hobbledehoy, he was also a wizard with words.
Happy Pi Day!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Silent Days, Silent Dreams
by Allen Say

Amazon Description:
James Castle was born two months premature on September 25, 1899, on a farm in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was deaf, mute, autistic and probably dyslexic. He didn't walk until he was four; he would never learn to speak, write, read or use sign language.

Yet, today Castle's artwork hangs in major museums throughout the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened "James Castle: A Retrospective in 2008." The 2013 Venice Biennale included eleven works by Castle in the feature exhibition "The Encyclopedic Palace." And his reputation continues to grow.

Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say, author of the acclaimed memoir Drawing from Memory, takes readers through an imagined look at Castle's childhood, allows them to experience his emergence as an artist despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced, and ultimately reveals the triumphs that he would go on to achieve.

My Thoughts:
Since my husband is an artist, an oil painter, I always enjoy children's books about art. Silent Days, Silent Dreams is one of my very favorites. Learning about not only the creativity of an artist, but their life, is something I truly value. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I was surprised to discover that I'd never heard of James Castle - what an amazing and talented man. The illustrations by Mr. Say are stunning, and truly honor the life of the unique artist. I highly recommend Silent Days, Silent Dreams to readers of all ages, and also to those who love art!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Allen Say.
Click here to learn more about the artist, James Castle.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

It's a Book Giveaway!

In anticipation of kids being in the "Great Outdoors" this summer, I'm featuring a book giveaway of my middle grade fantasy novel:
The Tale of Willaby Creek.
To enter simply leave a comment below on this blog; tweet this post; or leave a comment here on my Facebook Author Page.
I'll be giving away three signed copies of the book with matching bookmarks. The winners will be announced on Friday, June 1st!

Here's the flap copy description of my novel:

A magical tale of amazing sacrifice...
When a violent windstorm strikes an enchanted rain forest many of the woodland creatures of Willaby Creek are stranded, injured, or lost forever to the frenzied force of the tempest. Basil, a black bear full of doubt and fear, becomes the unlikely leader to head the woodland creatures' rescue. He is joined by Daphne, a spunky blue dryad; Oliver, a wise horned owl; Elbert, a noble elk; and a host of other creatures that inhabit the enchanted rain forest.

Dangerous twists and turns in this animal adventure fantasy cause Basil to discover a courage, and a conviction, he never knew he had. The answers to the ancient mysteries in this magical tale emerge in an extraordinary finale under the tall timbers of the hidden hinterland.
Good luck!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Dysania (n.)
the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning.
Example: The daily ring of the alarm clock did little to alleviate the young man's dysania.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Vincent and Theo
The Van Gogh Brothers
by Deborah Heiligman

Flap Copy Description:
The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend, Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the love of the Van Gogh brothers.

My Thoughts:
It's extremely difficult to give an objective review for this book since I love it so much! I'll just say that it would speak to readers of so many backgrounds. Here is a list of subjects dealt with within this award-winning tale:

1- Art, obviously! 
2- Mental illness
3- Spiritual journey
4- Battling health issues
5- Family bonds
6- The importance of perseverance
7- Living life with a passion

However, to list those topics is to totally miss the beauty of this book. Deborah Heiligman painstakingly read hundreds of letters written by Vincent Van Gogh during her research. The depth of her character development and dialogue takes the reader back in time - to the very lives of Vincent and Theo. I was in tears. I'll never view a painting by Van Gogh in the same way - and I've seen a few originals. (I hope to see several more during my lifetime.) I highly recommend Vincent and Theo to readers who have a connection to any of the subjects listed above. (Isn't that everyone?) This extraordinary book is a must-read!

Click here to learn about the author, Deborah Heiligman.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

Kidlit Goes to the Oscars!

Like most movie fans around the world, I always anticipate the arrival of the Academy Awards - especially those given to films based on books for children and young adults!

There are many categories that feature films based on books; here are a few that were nominated for the award for Best Feature Animation
Based on the book by Robert Lawson

Based on the book by Deborah Ellis

Based on the book by Marla Frazee

Allow your imagination to walk the red carpet this Sunday night!