Friday, January 31, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Celebrating My Ninth Blogiversary!

This coming Monday will mark my ninth Blogiversary; how has that much time elapsed? Through good times and bad, Writ of Whimsy has recorded my journey - and I hope, has offered a few helpful tidbits along the way.

Many thanks to all those bloggers, writers, & authors who have supported me over the years. Wishing you all the best in 2020!

In honor of my Blogiversary, I've donated to Reading Is Fundamental.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Quandary (n.)
a state of perplexity or uncertainty over what to do in a difficult situation.
Example: The politician was in a quandary over what decision to make.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Home in the Woods
by Eliza Wheeler

Flap Copy Description:
A small tar-paper shack deep in the woods doesn't look like much of a home to six-year-old Marvel, her seven siblings, and their mom, but it is all they have.
Starting over in this new place feels like a struggle at first, but each season in the woods reveals marvelous delights and blessings. The children find ways to work together and make it fun. As the days pass, they and their surroundings are transformed, and Marvel's family discovers that good things do indeed take root when nurtured and given time to grow.

My Thoughts:
There's always an added magical element when a story is based on true events; Home in the Woods is based on the childhood of the author's own grandmother. It's a beautiful book of family, fortitude, and finding unexpected treasures. Set during the Great Depression, this recently released picture book reveals its story season by season as the fatherless family finds a way to not only survive, but thrive. I highly recommend Home in the Woods to children aged four to seven!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Eliza Wheeler.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

My Main Writer's Goal for 2020

"The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun." Benedict Cumberbatch

That's my main writer's goal for 2020: to step out of my comfort zone.

If you're a writer you might be thinking, I'm always outside of my comfort zone. Being a writer is not an easy path to tread. Obviously, you'd be correct. We are all on a long lonely road; hopefully the journey is exciting. What I'm referring to is changing the way I've approached my career. It's time to make choices that previously I've avoided.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.   Anonymous

Next month will mark the twelfth year since I began writing full time. In that time I've had so many extraordinary experiences - some positive and some negative. However, they have all provided me with much needed knowledge and wisdom. That being said, early on, like most writers, I received numerous rejections. Thereafter I discovered a crazy way to minimize the pain:

Submit my manuscript only on rare occasions, and with a ridiculous hope, expect agent representation to come my way. Seriously, that's what I've done for several years now. According to my records I've only queried twelve agents in the last eight years. Confessing that fact here on my blog is one of the ways I'm leaving my comfort zone this year.

I'm well aware of the familiar advice to query several times a month. I just couldn't take the pain. However, since self-publishing my books I've received so much positive feedback, that I believe I'm finally ready to jump back in the fire and begin submitting my MG novel on a monthly basis. That doesn't mean I won't be bothered by rejections; it means that I'm now confident enough to receive rejection and not take it personally. It turns out that publishing my own books was beneficial to my growth as an author. I love the control I have over our series of Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. However, I've always felt I'd like to be a "hybrid author," and it's now time to move forward with my MG novel.

It's time to step out of my comfort zone and begin querying again.

Are there ways you can grow this year by leaving your comfort zone?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Spelunking (n.)
the hobby of exploring caves.
Example: The college student spent his summer spelunking in the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum
by Dr. Seuss and Andrew Joyner

Flap Copy Description:
Your tour guide will show you how different artists SEE horses and how those different visions create unique ART. With reproductions of over thirty pieces of artwork, this is an exhibit you won't want to miss! 

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is based on a manuscript and sketches by the beloved Dr. Seuss (aka Ted Geisel). Illustrator Andrew Joyner studied the sketches and created illustrations that pay homage to Seuss's line, characters, and artistic energy, while being uniquely his own. Also included are endnotes on the artists and artworks featured, as well as how this book came to be!

My Thoughts:
Like so many, I have been a Dr. Seuss fan for decades. When I heard of the release of a new book by the iconic author - based on a manuscript and sketches discovered in 2013 - I couldn't wait to pick up a copy. Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is sensational! This book will inspire young readers to create art, and learn how to appreciate it, as well. Also included are easy-to-understand descriptions of Realism, Impressionism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, and Abstract art. I highly recommend this never-before-published book to Dr. Seuss fans, and budding artists, everywhere!

Click here to read a previous Writ of Whimsy blog post on Dr. Seuss.
Click here to learn about illustrator, Andrew Joyner.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Lindstrom Wintertime Tales
Unexpected Validation

Since my first book's release in 2014, I've received consistent support for my stories, especially for the Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. It helps that my illustrations are from the fine artist, Michael Lindstrom.

That being said, most of my sales - and positive feedback - come in a face to face fashion. My most successful event is always the annual holiday festival, ScanFair, held in Portland, Oregon, each December.

It's probably not surprising, since the holiday event focuses on Christmas - which is always featured in my Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. (I've also released a middle grade novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek, that is a fantasy tale featuring anthropomorphic animals.)

However, I was completely taken aback when last month we had several return customers visiting our booth. They all asked, in various ways: "When will your next book be released? We thought you might have a new one this year." I felt encouraged and frustrated at the same time. How exciting is it to have a fan give you that validation, when it was completely unexpected? I felt like I'd received a kick in the behind. It's not that I haven't been writing, I have. I have a complete manuscript of a third tale, and am presently writing a fourth. However, my husband's art career has kept him very busy of late, so the illustrations for the books are lagging behind. We hope to remedy that this year.

As 2020 begins to unfold, I'm not only working on a fourth Lindstrom Wintertime Tale, I'm revising the work I completed during NaNoWriMo, as well as another MG novel set in WWII France. I'm also still hoping to continue querying my longtime completed project, Livvi Biddle.

Keeping a fan base happy is something I'd never thought about! 

Next Friday, I'll discuss my main goal for 2020. Happy writing!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Whangdoodle (n.)
an imaginary creature.
Example: The writer used her childhood whangdoodle as inspiration for her children's book.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

White Bird
by R. J. Palacio

Goodreads Description:
A Wonder story.

In R. J. Palacio's collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, Grandmere. This is Grandmere's story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II in graphic novel form.

My Thoughts:
This recent release from Ms. Palacio is a wonderful addition to her world of Wonder. While it is a tale of fiction, it was totally believable, set against the true life events of World War II in Nazi-occupied France. I especially appreciated the author addressing the Nazis' treatment of physically challenged persons during their reign of terror; it's the first book for children that I've read that does so. The novel shines a light on the courage that is sometimes required to show even a small act of kindness. I highly recommend White Bird to readers aged eight & up.

Click here to learn about the author, R. J. Palacio.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Near Hood River, Oregon
My Need for Nature

It's been thirteen years since the idea for my first story meandered across my mind. It happened while we were staying in a rustic cabin in the Olympic National Forest following a severe windstorm.

That story later became my MG novel, The Tale of Willaby Creek.

As each year has come and gone, I've been inspired to write a number of stories - so far, three of them have been published. In each case, the natural world has been a key component for the inspiration of each story. For whatever reason, the setting of a story is almost always the driving force to motivate me to write a specific tale. It's probably due to my lifelong connection to the natural world. That being said, I also find it extremely important that I make time to spend quality time out in nature - not only for inspiration, but also for my personal well being.

Spending more time in the natural world is one of my goals for 2020. Just as I find it essential that I make time to read, it's also essential that I spend time communing with nature - wherever I happen to be.

For the next few Fridays I'll be posting my thoughts on those important elements that I'll be focusing on this year for my storyteller's journey.

Where do you most often find your creative inspiration?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Salubrious - (n.)
something that is enjoyable and good for your health.
Example: The writer's resolutions for the new year included many that were of a salubrious nature.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Keep Going - 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad
by Austin Kleon

Goodreads Description:
The creative life is not a linear journey to a finish line, it's a loop - so find a daily routine, because today is the only day that matters. Disconnect from the world to connect with yourself - sometimes you just have to switch to airplane mode. Keep Going celebrates getting outdoors and taking a walk (as director Ingmar Bergman told his daughter, "The demons hate fresh air"). Pay attention, and especially pay attention to what you pay attention to. Worry less about getting things done, and more about the worth of what you're doing. Instead of focusing on making your mark, work to leave things better than you found them.

Keep Going and its timeless, practical, and ethical principles are for anyone trying to sustain a meaningful and productive life.

My Thoughts:
Austin Kleon has done it again. His most recent release, Keep Going - 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad, is informative, inspirational, and as usual, humorous. In this book, he speaks to all artistic souls, and discusses the seasons of the creative life, the importance of down time, and basically, says, 'give yourself some slack.' It was just the message I needed to hear after realizing I couldn't maintain the same pace I set during NaNoWriMo. I highly recommend Keep Going to anyone who is leading a creative life.

Click here to learn more about the bestselling author, Austin Kleon.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

NASA Free Photo
What Stories Will 2020 Write?

While 2020 will be marked by the Mars 2020 Mission, which is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, other exciting events, such as the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo are on this year's calendar. Then, too, there is the highly-anticipated United States Presidential Election in November.

However, what other stories will be written? What stories for children will each of us write? Do we believe our stories even matter?

Over the holidays I spent time reflecting on these questions. I thought about the books that mattered to me as a child. There were those with classic names everyone would recognize. However, there were many I loved, whose titles I can't recall. All those Scholastic Books my mother ordered for me nearly every month provided me with almost constant entertainment and encouragement. Their names? Other than one of my favorites - Pippi Longstocking - I can't recall most of them now.

Several years ago I read an article about the books President Kennedy had enjoyed as a child. (Click here if you'd like to read it too.) While many of the books are famous classics, one book stood out to me:

I'd never heard of this book, and so I looked up a synopsis of it:
At the Back of The North Wind was serialized in the children's magazine Good Works for the Young beginning in 1868 and was published in book form in 1871. It is a fantasy centered on a boy named Diamond and his adventures with the North Wind. (Diamond flies together with the mysterious Lady North Wind through the night on her many adventures to help mankind.)

When you couple the George MacDonald book together with another of Kennedy's favorites, J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, a similarity comes to mind:
Both books feature a boy who is given the ability to fly away on an adventure.

I doubt that either MacDonald or Barrie ever dreamed that their books would be a favorite of a future U.S. President.

The reason I mention these books is that a book has a life of its own. While J. M. Barrie died in 1937, and George MacDonald in 1905, their books may well have inspired, at least unconsciously, President Kennedy to dream of sending the first men to the moon. While I've never learned of that possibility, it only makes sense, since the idea of flying to a faraway land was intriguing to President John F. Kennedy.

What impact might our books have - even long after we're gone? Even though our books might not inspire something as extraordinary as space travel, they might inspire a child to believe in her dreams.

So, as 2020 sets off on its journey through time, I'm reminded that my writing matters. My books matter. In my short career I've already had positive feedback to that effect by several readers. So, I write on.

Best of luck with your writing in 2020. It matters!