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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

International Day of Peace

Each year on September 21st, the holiday dedicated to world peace is observed. Click here to learn more.

As writers of children's books we are constantly admonished to include themes in our stories that resonate with young readers. I've been working on a fantasy series for years in which the overarching theme is peace. I believe that the only way we can possibly attain a measure of peace in our world is to find peace in our individual lives. Thus, my MG character Livvi Biddle (whose first name means peace), must discover how to make peace with her own set of circumstances and in so doing, ultimately makes an impact on the world, ushering in an era of peace.

At this time in history where we find ourselves in what seems like constant chaos, it's more important than ever to work at finding peace in our own lives, and in our relationships. Happy World Peace Day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Insuperable - (adj.)
(of a difficulty or obstacle) impossible to overcome.
Example: The babysitter found the task of keeping the children under control insuperable.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Ocean Meets Sky
The Fan Brothers

Flap Copy Description:
It’s a good day for sailing.Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float.

Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!

And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

My Thoughts:
A stunningly beautiful picture book by the Fan Brothers. The magical Ocean Meets Sky will inspire little ones to dream and imagine. A delightful wonder to add to your child's library; it's now in mine!

Click here to learn more about the talented Fan Brothers.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Storyteller's Journey

The Columbia River Gorge from Hood River, Oregon
What a Summer!

The last three months for me included: A writer retreat; a book signing event; a backyard write-out; and hours in my creative studio working on my current project!

(The photo above is from a weekend trip I took with my husband, Michael.)

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter.

Hope you have a fantastic fall season, full of writing and reading!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hegemony (n.)
leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.
Example: The king was known for his malevolent hegemony over the simple subjects of his empire.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bibliophile's Corner

Almost Autumn
by Marianne Kaurin

Flap Copy Description:
As Autumn approaches Ilse Stern is thinking about her infatuation with Hermann Rod, and whether his determination to be a painter will interfere with their romance -- but the reality of being Jewish in occupied Oslo is about to turn her whole world upside down, as the deportation of Norwegian Jews begins. 

My Thoughts:
This evocative young adult novel offers a riveting story set in Norway during World War II. It's a unique tale of historical fiction about the Holocaust; one of shadows and secrets, love and loss. The lyrical prose and character development by Ms. Kaurin are exquisite. I highly recommend Almost Autumn for readers aged twelve and up!

Click here to learn more about the author, Marianne Kaurin.