Friday, May 31, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Imagine Dragon - by Kent Kraber
Unexpected Inspiration

Last week I was lucky enough to spend a short vacation in Coronado, CA. As my husband and I strolled down the main thoroughfare of Orange Avenue in the heart of the city, we came upon this beautiful sculpture. As we admired the dragon created by Kent Kraber, I realized that we were in front of the Coronado Library. Needless to say, I just had to take a peek inside!

Since I was born in Coronado, during our last two visits to the "Crown City" I've attempted to take in as much culture and history that I can; there is so much that is wrapped around the island paradise. While it's not a huge community, there is so much to see and enjoy. However, what I was about to see inside this historic library took my breath away!

As we walked in, I looked to my left and saw this glass wall of art that welcomes visitors to the Coronado Library Children's section! Inside, there is a great selection of children's books, a display of historic books and artifacts, as well as places for children to read and relax. Just an idyllic place for a young reader to spend a Saturday afternoon.

As we continued walking, we came upon this sign. We had just happened to visit Coronado at the precise time to enjoy an exhibit featuring the art of Dr. Seuss!

Included in the art exhibit are several first edition books by Dr. Seuss. I vaguely recalled hearing that Seuss lived near San Diego, although he was born in Springfield, MA. What's funny, is that while I was attending an SCBWI conference in Springfield, years ago, I visited the Seuss museum - quite by accident. Once again, I had stumbled upon an exhibit of the iconic author/illustrator's work.

And, what fabulous art it is! I was drawn to this painting, in particular. The yellow on blue I found mesmerizing. (Sorry, I failed to record some of the titles of the Seuss artwork.)

By the way, this is no small exhibit! Both sides of a wide corridor feature the art by Theodor Seuss Geisel! Never did I expect to visit an art exhibit - while on my vacation - that is so closely tied to children's books. I had hit the jackpot!

Here's another one of my favorites: I Dreamed I Was A Doorman at The Hotel Del Coronado. Since we were guests at the Del, this one was special on multiple levels.

If you are planning to visit Coronado or San Diego this summer, be sure to check out this fantastic art exhibit - it runs through August 15, 2019. Click here to learn more opportunities to experience the creativity of Dr. Seuss in San Diego/Coronado, California. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Solasta - (adj.)
luminous, shining.
Example: The solasta sea seemed to disappear upon the distant horizon.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

Don't Let Them Disappear
by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Gianna Marino

Flap Copy Description:
Did you know that blue whales are the largest animals in the world? Or that sea otters wash their paws after every meal? The world is filled with millions of animal species, and all of them are unique and special. Many are on the path to extinction.

In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to a selection of endangered animals, sharing what makes them special, and also what threatens them. Taking readers through the course of a day, Don’t Let Them Disappear talks about rhinos, tigers, whales, pandas and more, and provides helpful tips on what we all can do to help prevent these animals from disappearing from our world entirely.

With warm and engaging art by Gianna Marino, this book is the perfect read for animal-lovers and anyone who cares about our planet.

My Thoughts:
This recently released picture book Don't Let Them Disappear, by Chelsea Clinton, is both beautiful and powerful. It would be a wonderful way to teach children about the endangered status of twelve of our most beloved animal species. At the end of this important book there is a  section dealing with why animals become endangered, as well as what each of us can do to help the animals threatened with extinction. I highly recommend Don't Let Them Disappear to children of all ages!  

Click here to learn more about the author Chelsea Clinton.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Champion of Creativity

Margaret Wise Brown

While Margaret Wise Brown is best known for writing such children's books as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, her own story is fascinating. So much so, that I'm featuring her as a Champion of Creativity on her 109th birthday.

Margaret was born on May 23, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York, to Robert and Maude Brown. She attended boarding school in Switzerland and later studied at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 1932. Soon thereafter, she went to work as a teacher at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York City, and then went to work as an editor at the publishing house of William R. Scott. It was while working there that she began to write books for children. In 1937 her first book - When the Wind Blew - was published. Years later, she left that position and devoted the rest of her life to writing over one hundred books for children. (She also wrote verse and lyrics for songs reproduced on children's records.)

In researching the life of this talented woman, I learned that her life was complicated; she had relationships with both men and women, and went by the nicknames of Tim, Brownie, and Goldie. Margaret  was curious, imaginative, and loved adventures. It was while on one of her many adventures, this one a book tour in France, that she required unexpected surgery for an ovarian cyst. Unfortunately, complications ensued, and she died of an embolism on November 13, 1952 in Nice, France. Margaret was just forty-two at the time of her death.

In her short, but illustrious life, she was a prolific writer and an influential editor of children's books. While at the Scott publishing house she attempted to recruit contemporary authors of the time to write books for children. Only Gertrude Stein accepted. Ms. Stein penned The World is Round which was illustrated by Clement Hurd. That association proved important in Margaret's life: Hurd later became the illustrator for both Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny - copies of those books alone have sold millions.

Margaret lived only long enough to write children's books for fifteen years. Yet, she is one of the most prolific authors ever. It's a reminder to be purposeful about what you do and how you spend your time. Obviously, Margaret Wise Brown loved writing stories for children.

While Margaret's studio, Cobble Court, was in Manhattan, the only house she ever owned was in Vinalhaven, Maine - thus, the name.

The Only House on an island off the coast of Maine

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sonder - (v.)
the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
Example: When I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself I sonder about my friends and family.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

How To Become An
Accidental Genius
by Elizabeth MacLeod & Frieda Wishinsky

Flap Copy Description:
Don't be afraid to try! Make connections! Be persistent! Ask questions and never take no for an answer! Learn the secrets and amazing stories of successful inventors!

How to Become an Accidental Genius is full of inspiring tales of famous and lesser-known inventors who have changed the world, from George Washington Carver, Mary Anderson (inventor of the windshield wiper) and inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr to Frank Epperson (of Popsicle fame) and Mary Sherman Morgan (The Woman Who Saved the U.S. Space Race). Readers will be amazed at the inventiveness of these geniuses. The book focuses on inventors from North America but includes stories from around the world. Organized into eleven chapters that highlight the qualities inventors have in common, the book also features profiles of inventive kids and teenagers.

My Thoughts:
Accidental Genius is a non-fiction book that belongs in the hands of every young person! Each of its eleven chapters deals with one necessary principle for children to become a creative and curious person, and maybe even an inventor. I found the 127 page book to be super inspirational for my own journey as a writer of children's books. I highly recommend Accidental Genius to readers of all ages!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Painting by Georges Pavis - May 1886 -1977
Engrossed in Research

One of my favorite parts of the writing process is the research required before one ever puts pen to paper. Right now, I'm writing and researching at nearly the same time. Since a story set in France burst upon my brain, I've been busy penning a first draft. However, I'm at the point where I need a more in depth knowledge of my story's setting and the time it's set in before I go any further.

These two non-fiction books by professor Matthew Cobb are exactly what I need to educate myself about the French Resistance during World War II. That being said, they aren't exactly "light reads." So, I write each afternoon, and read after dinner each night. I love this routine, but I know it's a bit much. Once I've finished these books, I'll get my life back to normal.

These books are just two of the resources I've tapped into so far for my current work in progress. I've also listened to an audio broadcast by the BBC from 1989. In it, adults who were little resisters in WWII, are interviewed. That was a real eye-opener, and extremely helpful. There have also been several online articles that have helped me as well.

Do you enjoy researching when you're working on a new project?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Ataraxia - (n.)
the state of blissful and serene calmness.
Example: After battling - and subduing - the malevolent neighboring kingdom, a state of ataraxia fell upon the archers of the guard.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

Caterpillar Summer
by Gillian McDunn

Flap Copy Description:
Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond--Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a "meltdown" she's the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She's the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn't go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another's shoes.

My Thoughts:
Caterpillar Summer is a spectacular debut for Gillian McDunn. The in depth character development in this beautiful coming of age story makes the middle grade novel especially engaging. The interplay between the young protagonist, Cat, and her little brother, Chicken, is particularly heartwarming. I highly recommend Caterpillar Summer to readers aged eight to twelve; it would make the perfect summer read. Congratulations, Gillian McDunn!

Click here to learn about the author, Gillian McDunn.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Music as Writing Inspiration

While I've penned a post before on how my past experience as a musician has impacted me as a writer, today I want to reflect on how listening to music inspires a writer. Most writers have their favorite tunes to listen to while they craft a story. (As I'm working on the world building for my middle grade novel I'm listening to classical music.) But why do we choose to listen to the music that we do?

While I can't speak to other writers' motivations for their musical preferences, for me, it has all to do with matching the music to the type of story I'm writing. Most days I like to listen to classical; it seems to inspire the drama I'm looking for in my stories. Some of my favorite sound tracks are: The King's Speech; The Lord of the Rings; and Cloud Atlas. While most of my stories are fantasy or magical realism, my current work in progress is historical fiction - it's set during WW II in France. Consequently, I've been enjoying the music of the iconic French singer, Edith Piaf. Listen to her signature song, La vie en rose:

Does music inspire your writing? If so, what genre?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Mardy - (adj.)
moody or miserable.
Example: The mardy matriarch made everyone around her miserable.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Bibliophile's Corner

The King of the Golden River
by John Ruskin - illustrated by Quentin Blake

Flap Copy:
The King of the Golden River tells the tale of the Black brothers: the kind-natured eleven- year-old Gluck and his two nasty older brothers, Hans and Schwartz. For Gluck, play is cleaning the floors, and his education consists of a wholesome quantity of punches. One stormy evening, Gluck is left at home to prepare his older brothers’ dinner when an extraordinary-looking little man knocks at the door. Having been warned not to let anyone in, Gluck watches as the little old man stands drenched and shivering at the door. His soft heart tells him to ignore his brothers’ advice, and so Gluck’s encounter with the mysterious King of the Golden River begins. Appearing at first as a beggar, then the Southwest Wind, and finally as a dwarf, the King of the Golden River issues Gluck a challenge: to climb to the source of the Golden River and throw into the stream three drops of holy water. If he can achieve this, the river will turn to gold.

Ruskin’s Victorian tale—first published in 1842—of good’s triumph over evil is a gripping adventure for all ages, and is brought vividly to life in new, never-before-seen illustrations by the celebrated Quentin Blake.

My Thoughts:
While The King of the Golden River was first published in 1842, I found its message of kindness overcoming greed to be very relevant today. The exquisite illustrations by famed artist Quentin Blake make this Victorian tale, and beautiful book, a wonderful addition to every library. (Due to two references to physical discipline, I recommend that parents of young children read the book first to ascertain whether it is appropriate and acceptable for their child.) I highly recommend John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River to readers aged seven and up!

Click here to learn about the award-winning illustrator Quentin Blake.
Click here to learn about the Victorian writer and art critic John Ruskin.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Storyteller's Journey

Prioritizing My Projects

While I've mentioned before how much I enjoy working on multiple projects, that approach does present a challenge: there's a risk that I'll never fully finish any of them! So, even though I have four projects right now, I primarily work on one at a time. Here's how I prioritize my projects:

#1 - If I'm really excited about one of my projects, that's the one I work on. There is no substitute for passion when you write. You don't always have that luxury, but when you do, it makes writing a dream.

#2 - I always like working on one of our Lindstrom Wintertime Tales during the fall and winter months if I can. Writing a winter story during the spring and summer months isn't nearly as much fun!

#3 - If I'm going to attend a writing conference where I might meet a literary agent, I always hope to have my manuscript ready so I can submit it to her. (Unsolicited submissions aren't usually accepted.)

Currently, I'm working on a new middle grade novel due to point #1 - the concept seemed to magically drop into my mind. I can't seem to think about anything else! Also, since it's historical fiction set in the summer of 1944 during World War II, and this summer marks the 75th Anniversary of D Day, I feel extremely connected to my story.

August 25, 1944 - Liberation of Paris - French Embassy
This vintage photo has inspired me, and my story, so much!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Whimsical Word of the Week

Cudgel - (n.)
a short, thick stick used as a weapon.
Example: An old cudgel was the troll's favorite weapon in combat.