Friday, May 29, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Art is a Light in the Darkness

I ponder a lot on the process of writing and making art; this is a quote I've composed that resonates for me:
"Creativity ignites the soul and illuminates the path."

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I've noticed a plethora of responses, by all sorts of people, during this trying time. While many, if not most, artists are financially challenged during the best of times - right now, finances are even tighter. Despite that, those who have a passion to create art seem to fare better - at least from what I've observed.

Why is that?

Having a passion that emanates from one's heart, is like a candle that lights our way. Without that, a life is merely a series of superficial activities. While, I too, enjoy traveling, dining out, the theater, and so on, what really fulfills me is writing and reading. Consequently, my life - and the lives of my close friends - has changed very little during this time of social isolation. (I've stayed busy by working on my next book!)

Recently the award-winning children's book author and illustrator, Mo Willems, said this about the current challenges we face: "Science is going to get us out of this, but art is going to get us through this."

I couldn't agree more with that quote. While obtaining a vaccine may rescue our society from the Covid-19 Pandemic, the fact is, that each of us, individually, needs to find our way forward until then. But more importantly, we need to jealously hold on to our right to create, lest we lose it. Our world is not only sick biologically, it's also sick politically. 

Additionally, enjoying art during these challenging times - whether it's music, literature, sculpture, visual art, movies, or any number of other modes of creativity - is also extremely beneficial to our mental health.

Here is an inspirational video on why we need art, by Alain de Botton:

May creativity light your way and give hope to your heart!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Plisky - (n.)
a mischievous trick, prank, or practical joke.
Example: The wizened old woman would occasionally play a plisky on the neighborhood children.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

On the Horizon
by Lois Lowry

Flap Cover Description:
Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry reflects on her own in this moving account of the lives lost and forever altered in the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.
Drawing on the stories of real people at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, as well as her own memories, Lowry introduces readers to the only set of twin sailors aboard the USS Arizona, a Japanese child folding origami cranes in the wake of the unfathomable horror of the atomic bomb, and even her own grandmother. Through each vignette, this stunning work in verse contemplates humanity and war, sings with pain and truth, and emphasizes the importance of empathy in bridging cultural divides.

My Thoughts:
While I loved Lowry's Number the Stars and The Giver (both novels won the Newbery Award), On the Horizon is my new favorite from the legendary storyteller. When I pondered upon why I felt so strongly about the book, it was clear to me that the memories of Lowry's own childhood have seasoned the beautiful vignettes in verse in an extraordinary way. At this challenging time in history, her pen has offered hope to young readers by reminding them of our country's past of both horror and heroism during World War II. I highly recommend this remarkable book to readers of all ages - it's a must-read.

Click here to learn about the award-winning author Lois Lowry.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Motivated by iMovie!

As I've mentioned recently, I have a new children's book due to release in the near future; the cover reveal and synopsis will be posted here in two weeks. Consequently, I've been working on a book trailer for my next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale.

With my previous three book releases, I had a professional videographer create the videos for me. With the Covid-19 Crisis upon us, I decided I'd see if I could learn to create a book trailer via iMovie.

While it wasn't difficult, it wasn't easy. Here are some things to know:

1- To create a book trailer via iMovie you must use an Apple product. 

2- Two options are offered: Movie (which refers to custom), 
    or Trailer (which refers to using templates).

3- If you use Movie to create your custom trailer, like I did, you need 
    text/script, images/videos, and sound/music. (The process draws 
    images or videos via your iPad or iPhone from your photo album.)
   I learned that the app tends to crop the images quite a bit, so I used 
   another app - Pic Collage - to minimize each image before 
   beginning to make my video. Pic Collage also gave me the ability to 
   add a colored background and text to my image, so I accomplished 
   the look I was hoping for! (Horizontal images work best.)

4- Use YouTube tutorials to familiarize yourself with iMovie.
    There are videos for nearly every step of the process.

The trailer for my new book will be posted on my website soon!

Here's a practice iMovie video I made with images from my garden. The music is from my playlist, but for my actual book trailer I've purchased the right to use a piece of music from BeatSuite.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sockeroo - (n.)
a notable success.
Example: The debut author's book release was a sockeroo.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

The List of Things that Will Not Change - by Rebecca Stead

Flap Copy Description:
When Bea's dad and his wonderful partner, Jesse, decide to marry, it looks as if Bea's biggest wish is coming true: she's finally (finally!) going to have a sister.
They're both ten. They're both in fifth grade. Though they've never met, Bea knows that she and Sonia will be perfect sisters. Just like sisters anywhere, Bea thinks. But as the wedding day approaches, Bea makes discoveries that lead her to a possibly disastrous choice.

My Thoughts:
Rebecca Stead's recently released The List of Things that Will Not Change is a remarkable book. Not only is the author's signature spot-on dialogue for kids on full display, her story features the important subject of gay marriage - from the perspective of a fifth grade child. The inner life of the protagonist, Bea, is also a powerful element in this extraordinary middle grade novel. I highly recommend The List of Things that Will Not Change to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Rebecca Stead.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Animals of Alaska

Since embarking on my storyteller's journey I've learned what most inspires me is an interesting setting, and the creatures that reside there. Alaska was extraordinary.

By the end of our 2017 trip to Alaska, and Denali National Park in particular, I knew that one day we'd create a children's book inspired by the park and its beautiful animals. That book will soon be published!

During our time in Alaska we took a bus tour deep into the Denali National Park. Our guide told us that she'd not led a more successful tour in many years; we saw so many animals, some of them are rarely seen.

The Willow Ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska. We saw several near our cabin on Tonglen Lake, outside the park. These birds, like the Snowshoe Hare above, turn white in winter.

This Caribou created a lovely photograph against the snowy hillside. Michael (my artist/husband) has thoroughly enjoyed using oil paints to compose our illustrations.

By far the most thrilling thing we saw were these Dall Sheep. It's not easy to capture a photo of the elusive creatures, but as I mentioned above, we were extremely lucky on our tour through Denali National Park. This species of sheep is a big reason that the park was established in 1917. The naturalist Charles Sheldon, was so taken with them that he lobbied Congress to establish Mt. McKinley National Park. (Now Denali.)

That bit of history, as well as the amazing animals of Alaska, is what inspired the story for our next Lindstrom Wintertime Tale set in 1927. 
(All photographs copyrighted by Victoria Lindstrom or Michael Lindstrom.)

Check in here on Writ of Whimsy for more details soon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Lollapalooza - (n.)
an extraordinary or unusual thing, person or event; an exceptional example or instance.
Example: The charitable response to the crisis was a true lollapalooza of generosity.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Dancing Hands
How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln
by Margarita Engle
and Rafael Lopez

Flap Copy Description:
As a little girl, Teresa Carreno loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals.
Then a revolution in Venezuela drove her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too - a Civil War.
Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa's music bring comfort to those who needed it most?

My Thoughts:
This beautiful picture book is the winner of the Pura Belpre Award - and no wonder: Margarita Engle's text tells the inspirational true story about a determined young Latino girl, and the book is wonderfully illustrated by Rafael Lopez. I found the book extraordinary with its setting in both Venezuela and the U.S. during the Civil War, and even including President Abraham Lincoln. I highly recommend Dancing Hands to readers aged four to ten! (Piano teachers would love it too!)

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Margarita Engle.
Click here to learn about the award-winning illustrator, Rafael Lopez.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Collaborating during Covid-19

For the past two months I've been staying at home like most of my fellow Americans. During this time of Covid-19 I've attempted to see silver linings whenever, and wherever, I can.

One big silver lining has been the extra time my artist-husband, Michael, and I've had to collaborate on our next illustrated children's book. While his day job still keeps him busy (he's considered an essential worker), our weekends have offered much more time at home together; prior to the pandemic he would have been out and about painting plein air landscape scenes on Saturdays and/or Sundays.

Here, he's painting a scene of the Fairbanks Train Station in 1927. It's part of a story that was inspired by our trip to Alaska in 2017. While I won't reveal any more details regarding the book right now, we'll have a cover reveal next month, including the title and an illuminating synopsis of the new Lindstrom Wintertime Tale!
I'm so incredibly thankful that Michael has agreed to be the illustrator for this collection of our children's books. The illustrations are nearly complete!

Have you discovered any silver linings during your time of isolation?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Whimsical Word of the Week

Holus-bolus - (adv.)
all at once; altogether.
Example: The residents of the community seemed to contract the virus in an almost holus-bolus fashion.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Bibliophile's Corner

Echo Mountain
by Lauren Wolk

Flap Copy Description:
When the Great Depression takes almost everything they own, Ellie's family is forced to leave their home in town and start over in the untamed forests of nearby Echo Mountain. Ellie has found a welcome freedom, and a love of the natural world, in her new life on the mountain. But there is little joy, even for Ellie, as her family struggles with the aftermath of an accident that has left her father in a coma. An accident unfairly blamed on Ellie.
Determined to help her father, Ellie will make her way to the top of the mountain in search of the healing secrets of a woman known only as "the hag." But the hag, and the mountain, still have many untold stories left to reveal and, with them, a fresh chance at happiness.

My Thoughts:
Since I'm a fan of Lauren Wolk's previous novels for young readers (Wolf Hollow and Beyond the Bright Sea), when I learned of her recent release - Echo Mountain - I couldn't wait to purchase a copy. I wasn't disappointed! Ms. Wolk's characters are, once again, multi-faceted, flawed, and unforgettable. Her plot is woven in an unpredictable pattern that is both entertaining and satisfying. The rural mountain is a remarkable setting for her extraordinary tale of courage, healing, and restoration. I highly recommend Echo Mountain to readers aged eight to twelve, & to anyone who enjoys a good read set in the natural world.

Click here to learn about the author, Lauren Wolk.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

Flowers as our Friends

"The earth laughs in flowers."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends." Okakura Kakuzo

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope."
Lady Bird Johnson

In the midst of social distancing this spring, I've found joy and comfort spending time in my garden. While I always enjoy my garden, my flowers seem to mean more to me during this Covid-19 Pandemic: They seem to offer hope and inspiration on my storyteller's journey.