Friday, March 19, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Welcome Arrival of Spring

This year the onset of spring seems even more welcome than usual. Maybe it's because we've all endured a dark winter of isolation, and it's exciting to see the colors of spring. Then too, the Covid-19 vaccines are beginning to give us our lives back. (Although I'm still not vaccinated.)

I'm anxious to spend time out in my garden, so I'll be taking a spring break from blogging for a few weeks. Enjoy the sunshine!

Click here to read my recent quarterly newsletter!

Cat tails on Swofford Pond by Victoria Lindstrom

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Craic - (n.)
News, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation; a term used primarily in Ireland.
Example: The dinner party included good food, good brew, and a good amount of craic for everyone.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Elephant
by Peter Carnavas

Flap Copy Description:
When Olive's dad drags himself to work in the morning, the elephant goes with him. When he comes home again, so does the elephant. It's always there, heavy and silent, casting a shadow of sadness over him. Olive can't stand to see her father burdened like this. With help from her grandfather and her best friend Arthur, she hatches a plan to rid her family of the elephant once and for all. Before long, she'll learn that while happiness isn't that simple, small things can move mountains - or elephants.

My Thoughts:
This lovely little book takes on a big subject - depression - in a very subtle way. Mr. Carnavas has penned a story that gives children a peek at mental illness, without frightening them; he uses an elephant as a metaphor for depression. The protagonist, Olive, learns how little acts of love and kindness can make a real difference in the life of her father. I highly recommend The Elephant to children of all ages!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Creating and Consuming Content

One of the many things I've learned during the last year is how easy it is to consume too much online content. The pandemic, and the isolation it has brought upon us, has left us searching for ways to keep our minds occupied and our hearts inspired. It's easy to set our eyes upon the nearest screen.


However, it seems to me, like so many things in life, that a balance is essential when it comes to content. We must create, as well as consume content if we're to be healthy. Heaping large amounts of knowledge into our brains, without generating any creativity, I believe, is dangerous. We've all met people who act like experts on a subject because they read a book about that topic. It's easy to do. Grappling with today's challenges, and determining what is most important to us, is essential. Otherwise we'll simply become human sponges, soaking up the most prevalent content. (I wonder if that phenomena contributed to the epidemic of conspiracy thinking that's everywhere right now!)

Creativity seems to flow from a person's soul, as well as their mind. There is ownership involved when we create anything of an original nature. That process engages our whole being, and contributes to our overall health. In the midst of the still-lingering chaos and disease, it's a good reminder that creativity can be a balm to our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Paean (n.)
a song, or thing, that expresses enthusiastic praise.
Example: The poem was a paean to nature's beauty.

 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom &
Michaela Goade

Flap Copy Description:
Water is the first medicine. It affects and connects us all...
When a black snake threatens to destroy the Earth and poison her people's water, one young water protector takes a stand to defend Earth's most sacred resource.
Inspired by the many Indigenous-led movements across North America, this bold and lyrical picture book issues an urgent rallying cry to safeguard the Earth's water from harm and corruption.

My Thoughts:
I first discovered this book on a Facebook post from author Carole Lindstrom (we are not related), and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it had won the Caldecott Award for the artwork by Michaela Goade. We Are Water Protectors also won the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. Needless to say this picture book is extraordinary for not only its text, but its illustrations. It's an important book to add to a child's "to be read list" if you're hoping to teach them about the importance of our planet's natural resources and climate change. I highly recommend We Are Water Protectors to children of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author, Carole Lindstrom.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, Michaela Goade.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Rewards of Research

One of my favorite things about being an author of children's books is the research that is needed. Whether it's a fiction or non-fiction story, to pen a compelling tale requires research. What I've discovered is that without exception, I've always learned new and unexpected bits of knowledge that not only seasoned my stories, but made the process of researching feel like I was on a treasure hunt.


Another benefit of researching is that I'll inevitably discover an essential tidbit that was absolutely necessary to my story. Sometimes it takes the plot in a totally different direction, and sometimes it confirms an important portion of my story that really needed verification.

Below is a photo by Roger Viollet LAPI Copyright - June 1940.


This is the profile picture for the article: Eighty years after millions fled the German army, revisiting the 'Paris Exodus' by Charlotte Wilkins

This article confirmed the fact that there was an exodus from Paris during WWII; something I'd not been able to previously verify. (Even though I was well aware of children being sent away from London.) It was the exact piece of information I needed to authenticate the premise of my historical fiction novel. (My protagonist had been sent to the countryside of France from Paris when the Nazis invaded that city.)

Needless to say, the day I discovered this article was a wonderful day in the process of crafting my story. (It was surprising to me that it had been so difficult to verify the fact that Parisian children, as well as adults, had departed the city.) There were additional tidbits in this article that were helpful with regard to clothing, transportation, etc.

While a novel is a work of fiction, elements in any story must ring true. To reap the rewards of researching, a writer must have a curious mind.

"Curiosity is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Larrikin - (n.)
a boisterous, often badly behaved young man.
Example: The little boy was rapidly becoming a larrikin with his misconduct and bad attitude.

 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Arnica the Duck Princess

written by Ervin Lázár
translated by Anna Bentley
illustrated by Jacqueline Molnár

Goodreads Description:
Princess Arnica is so sweet and gentle that when she smiles even wolves and bears forget their fierceness. Everyone loves her, but she loves only Johnny. Luckily, he loves her too, and even more luckily Arnica has a very sensible king for a father, who is happy for her to marry whomever her heart desires. So, no problem then?

Well, maybe just one - The Witch with a Hundred Faces has cast a spell on Arnica and Johnny which means that one of them, at any one time, must always be a duck, and the other human! Only the Seven-Headed Fairy can help them, but will they be able to find her in time?

My Thoughts:
I discovered this enchanting children's book while perusing the website of Pushkin Press; I'm so glad I did! Arnica the Duck Princess is one of those wonderful European fantasy tales (specifically Hungarian) that doesn't seem to lose a whit in the translation. It was first published in 1981 so a few items might seem a bit politically incorrect, but I found the entire story - and illustrations - delightfully entertaining and original. I highly recommend this whimsical tale to readers aged seven and up!

Click here to learn about the life and works of author Ervin Lázár.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Winter Inspiration!

Last weekend I "attended" the SCBWI Winter Conference via its ZOOM links; what a wonderful way to be inspired - right in my own home!

In addition to inspiration, attending the annual event is a great way to make connections. There are always those writers, illustrators, and industry professionals that I've never heard of before; this year was no exception. In years past (pre-pandemic), I've attended a variety of SCBWI conferences and retreats in person. While I miss those trips I've made to Los Angeles, New York City, and other cities, the content offered by the Society of Children's Book Authors & Illustrators this year was just as pertinent to my journey as a storyteller as ever. In fact, because of Covid-19, the variety of ZOOM meetings I've participated in may have been even more important, since they have served as a lifeline. The life of a children's book author is a solitary one, but that doesn't mean that we don't still need time with our peers - I know I do.

In the middle of this dark winter, the event was extremely inspirational!

12 X 16 oil on panel "Nocturne Snow" by Michael Lindstrom
Speaking of inspiration this winter, Michael Lindstrom (my fine artist husband), painted multiple oil compositions while standing out in the freezing, snowy weather we recently received. The lovely abstract landscape above was painted one evening out on a nearby street. Michael's commitment to his craft always astounds and challenges me.

Where have you found your inspiration this winter?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Quire (n.)
a collection of 24, or sometimes 25, sheets of paper of the same size and quality: one twentieth of a ream.
Example: The items sitting upon the scribe's desk included: a bottle of ink, several quills, and over a quire of parchment paper.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Flight for Freedom
by Kristen Fulton

Flap Copy Description:
Peter was born on the east side of Germany, the side that wasn't free. He watches news programs rather than cartoons and wears scratchy uniforms instead of blue jeans. His family endures long lines and early curfews. But, Peter knows it won't always be this way. Peter and his family have a secret. Late at night in their attic, they are piecing together a hot-air balloon - and a plan.

Can Peter and his family fly their way to freedom?

This is the true story of one child, Peter Wetzel, and his family, as they risk their lives for the hope of freedom in a daring escape from East Germany via a handmade hot-air balloon in 1979.

My Thoughts:
I always enjoy non-fiction picture books, and this one is no exception! Kristen Fulton has penned a compelling story for young readers - one that will inspire and intrigue children of all ages. Torben Kuhlmann's illustrations - including a wonderful map - make this unforgettable true story truly come to life. I highly recommend Flight for Freedom!

Click here to learn about the author, Kristen Fulton.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Music as My Muse!

Last Christmas my husband gave me the best gift ever: a set of Bose headphones; I've wanted a pair for a long time. I've always listened to music while I write, but wearing the headphones cancels the external noise that can inevitably bother me. While some writers prefer ear buds, I really enjoy the "hug" that my headphones give me; it further takes me out of my own home, and places me in the setting and/or the genre of my story. I specifically choose music that inspires the theme of my story. 

Here I'm listening to the iconic French singer, Édith Piaf. (Click here if you're not familiar with her legendary talent.) Since I'm working on a WWII historical fiction novel set in France, an album of Édith Piaf's best-loved songs is on my playlist.   

If you don't already use music as a muse, give it a try!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Alacrity (n.)

brisk and cheerful readiness.
Example: The new teacher took on her duties with sincere alacrity.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Snail with the Right Heart: 
a true story
by Maria Popova and Ping Zhu

Flap Copy description:
Based on a real scientific event and inspired by a beloved real human in the author's life, this is a story about science and the poetry of existence; about time and chance, genetics and gender, love and death, evolution and infinity - concepts often too abstract for the human mind to fathom, but more accessible to the young imagination; concepts made fathomable here through the concrete, finite life of on tiny, unusual creature dwelling in a pile of compost amid an English garden.

My Thoughts:
One of my favorite online writers, Maria Popova, has just released her first children's book, called The Snail with the Right Heart - published by Enchanted Lion Books. It's an extraordinary true story, with threads of love, science, and serendipity, that takes the reader into a curious labyrinth of life, in of all places, the shell of a snail! Additionally, the vibrant artwork by Ping Zhu is the perfect partner for the text. I highly recommend this picture book for readers aged seven and up!

Click here to learn about the multitalented author, Maria Popova.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Children Long for Love

When we ponder the reasons that children choose to read fiction, entertainment would probably be high on the list. I would however argue, that while children may not fully realize it, what they're also really longing for is a sense of being loved and accepted. I know that was the case for me when I was a child.

During these dark days filled with medical, political, racial, and economic  challenges, it's even more important for writers to reflect on being relevant in our writing - children need and want it so much.

While the children's book community has made real progress with regard to diversity, I believe that it needs to be expanded upon - in a more broad sense - to include love, kindness, and empathy, in every story we write. I'm not talking about pushing our pens to preach to children; I'm talking about creating characters that discover the importance of love, kindness, and empathy as our stories unfold. Because our country - and really the world - is in such a state of turmoil, children are receiving numerous negative examples of human behavior, whether it's online or via their television sets. Quality children's books can be important examples of honest, healthy, human behavior for young people, especially right now amidst all the chaos.

Our task is to offer them positive stories that inspire and inform.

So, while Valentine's Day is a day that we celebrate romantic love, I would offer that it's also a good day to remind ourselves - as writers - that children are reading books to find a sense of love in our stories.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Piffle (n.)
nonsense.
Example: The child's excuse for his foul play was utter piffle, and nothing more.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Bear Island
by Matthew Cordell

Flap Copy Description:
Louise and her family are sad over the loss of their beloved dog, Charlie. "Life will not be the same," Louise says, as she visits a little island that Charlie loved.
But on a visit to the island after Charlie's death, something strange happens: She meets a bear. At first, she's afraid, but soon she realizes that the bear is sad, too. As Louise visits more often, she realizes that getting over loss takes time. And just when she starts to feel better, it's time for Bear to bed down for the winter.
Once again, Louise believes that life will not be the same. But sometimes, things can change for the better. Here is a poignant story about loss and healing that will bring comfort to even the youngest of readers.

My Thoughts:
Award-winning Matthew Cordell has created another beautiful picture book for children, and frankly, adults as well, to enjoy. His whimsical illustrations and insightful words perfectly come together to create a story that will touch the hearts and minds of anyone dealing with loss right now. I highly recommend Bear Island to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Matthew Cordell.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Tenth Blogiversary!

It boggles my mind that it's been a decade since I first set out on the journey of blogging. So much has happened since 2011! In that time I've met so many wonderful people: writers, artists, musicians, agents, editors, librarians, and on and on. 

While I met most of them online, many of them I had a chance to later meet in person, even though our first connection was through this blog. Each and every encounter worked to season my development as a storyteller; I am so grateful for each of these generous professionals.

In the last ten years I've not only blogged, I've attended numerous retreats, conferences, and critique groups. In the process I grew as a writer, and have actually had four children's books published. While I'm still seeking agent representation, it's not nearly as pressing an issue as it once was. It's all about just writing, and being a part of an eclectic, creative network. Even though we're all still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, it's been a blessing to have a vibrant online community.

Many thanks to all of you who have connected with me over the years!

In honor of my blogging milestone, I've decided to donate to a local library. The Woodland branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries is in the process of building a new facility. Over the years, FVRL has been extremely supportive of me and my journey as an author. 

If you'd like to support the Woodland Library, click here to donate!

"The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Guttersnipe (n.)
a scruffy and badly behaved child who spends most of his or her time on the street.
Example: The author's protagonist was a colorful guttersnipe, with a wonderful character arc.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Elephant's Girl
by Celesta Rimington

Flap Copy Description:
An elephant never forgets...but Lexington Willow can't remember her past. When she was a toddler, a tornado swept her away from everyone and everything she knew and landed her near an enclosure in a Nebraska zoo, where an elephant named Nyah protected her from the storm. With no trace of her family, Lex grew up at the zoo with her foster father, Roger; her best friend, Fisher; and the wind whispering in her ear.
Now that she's twelve, Lex is finally old enough to help with the elephants. But during their first training session, Nyah sends her a telepathic message of the woods outside the zoo. Despite the wind's protests, Lex decides to investigate Nyah's message and gets wrapped up in an adventure involving ghosts, lost treasure, and a puzzle that might be the key to finding her family. Can Lex summon the courage to discover who she really is - and why the tornado brought her here all those years ago?

My Thoughts:
Celesta Rimington has crafted an intriguing middle grade novel using magical realism - with a wonderful result! For me, it was like a cross between The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo; needless to say, it's a fantastic and entertaining novel. Not only does it have a unique storyline, it includes a great cast of characters. In addition to Lexington Willow, her friend Fisher, and her foster father Roger, are important roles that make this story not only an adventure and mystery, but a tale of friendship and family. I highly recommend The Elephant's Girl to readers aged eight and up!

Click here to learn about the author, Celesta Rimington.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Rouen Cathedral - June 2014
  A Normandy State of Mind

Last week I mentioned that I was dithering over which of my projects to focus on this year; well, I've decided: my middle grade historical fiction novel entitled: The Rabbit of Rouen - my 2020 NaNoWriMo manuscript.

When we visited Rouen, France, in 2014, it was with the purpose of allowing my husband, fine artist Michael Lindstrom, the opportunity to paint the iconic cathedral that Claude Monet so beautifully captured many times. Michael was thrilled to stand right where Monet stood. 


However, I found the quaint, cobble stone streets of the historic city (the place where Joan of Arc was martyred) to be inspiring as well. I had intended Rouen to be the setting for Book II of a middle grade series entitled, Livvi Biddle, but somehow it ended up being perfect for The Rabbit of Rouen - set in WWII France. Here's a brief description:

While eleven-year-old Gigi had been born in Paris, after the Nazis occupied the City of Light in 1940, her parents had sent her to live in the Normandy region of France on her grandparents' apple farm outside of Rouen. But in April of 1944 - after Grandpère and Grandmère had been killed in the bombing of the Rouen Cathedral - Gigi was on her own. So she set out for Paris, to once again live with her parents. But the eighty-mile journey was fraught with danger and death, and when she finally arrived in Paris she discovered her parents were not the people she remembered - they're resistance fighters. Learn how Gigi finds the courage, amidst France's darkest days of World War II, to become one of the youngest resistance fightersThe Rabbit of Rouen. Then in August 1944, despite the power and prevalence of the Third Reich, she helped the Allies liberate Paris.

Revising this will keep me busy for much of 2021 - I'll keep you posted.

By the way, here is Michael painting the cathedral in Rouen in 2014:

michaellindstromartist.com 

Here is his finished plein air painting of the Rouen Cathedral:

The Rouen Cathedral - 16X12 - not for sale

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Autogolpe - (n.)

a coup organized by the government itself to take extra powers.
Example: The people who participated in the autogolpe were being arrested and brought to justice.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Peacemaker
by Joseph Bruchac

Flap Copy Description:
Twelve-year-old Okwaho's life has suddenly changed. While he and his best friend are out hunting, his friend is kidnapped by men from a neighboring tribal nation, and Okwaho barely escapes. Everyone in his village fears more raids and killings: The Five Nations of the Iroquois have been at war with one another for far too long, and no one can remember what it was like to live in peace.
Okwaho is so angry that he wants to seek revenge for his friend, but before he can retaliate, a visitor with a message of peace comes to him in the woods. The Peacemaker shares his lesson tales - stories that make Okwaho believe that this man can convince the leaders of the five fighting nations to set down their weapons. So many others agree with him. Can all of them come together to form the Iroquois Great League of Peace?

My Thoughts:
Joseph Bruchac's recently released Peacemaker is a compelling story for middle grade readers. It's a coming-of-age tale with themes of friendship and family, but also a more universal theme of humanity. I thoroughly enjoyed Peacemaker, and recommend it to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about the award-winning author, Joseph Bruchac.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Rewrite, Revise, Repeat

Since I began writing full time over a decade ago, I've slowly but surely found the process that works best for me. You might say, "isn't there one best way to write?" For me, the answer is "no." Beyond the question to outline or not (which I do), there's also the question of how many drafts it takes to complete your novel. I've completed four middle grade manuscripts, but only one is published. Two are completed first drafts, and the fourth has been rewritten six times since I began working on it nearly a decade ago.

The question of how many rewrites and revisions is necessary to complete a finished novel varies from author to author. My middle grade manuscript with six rewrites is a story that has had a metamorphosis as I've matured as a writer over the years.

The one thing I do know is that no one completes a novel in one draft.
After the initial draft is complete it's a matter of rewrite, revise, repeat.
(This is the method that works best for me, as well as many others.)

Right now, my dilemma is which manuscript to work on. I had thought I'd be rewriting my NaNoWriMo project from last November. However, other projects are calling out to me. If I'm lucky enough to have extra motivation for a particular story (which is not always the case), I tend to enjoy writing more - and am more productive - than when I'm working on a project like it's a job. I need to select from these four stories:

The Rabbit of Rouen - An historical fiction novel for middle grade readers. It's set in WWII France. (Only one draft is completed; it's my recent NaNoWriMo project.)

Cloud Mountain - A magical realism middle grade novel. It's set in the Guatemalan Highlands and was inspired by our trip there in 2018 - as well as the amazing young girl, Catarina, that we sponsor. (Only one draft is completed; it's my 2019 NaNoWriMo project.)

Livvi Biddle - A middle grade fantasy novel that has been my main focus for the last decade. After six rewrites, numerous revisions, multiple critiques, and a number of rejections by agents, for some reason I still have hope it might become an actual book. At some point I need to get it published (traditionally or independently), or shove it in a drawer and lock the key! The thing is, it's the only project I've completed that is even remotely ready for the eyes of an agent, and I still hope to gain agent representation someday. We'll see.

The Winter Wayfarer - A collaborative project I'm working on with my husband; it's the upcoming fourth story in our series of Lindstrom Wintertime Tales. This fantasy short story is set in the Shetland Islands of Scotland and has been rewritten three times, but still requires editing. The project also needs most of the paintings to be completed by Michael. We're both a bit weary from our last project together, although we're very pleased with the result of The Night of the North. (See the sidebar to check out the cover.) We are committed to publishing these stories independently to retain control of the artwork.

As you can see, while I've had four books independently published, I also have four manuscripts still sitting on my shelf! Then too, there are several more ideas rattling around in my brain. While it's tempting to begin a new story, I feel I must complete one of the above projects.

I'll make my decision very soon, and when I do, I'll blog about it.
No matter what, I'm in for a rewrite, a revision, and possibly, a repeat!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Inauguration (n.)
-the formal admission of someone to office.
-a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.
Example: The inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President was a welcome event for the U.S. citizens.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Cinders & Sparrows
by Stefan Bachmann

Flap Copy Description:
In a witch's house, nothing is as it seems.
When a scarecrow climbs over the garden wall, delivering twelve-year-old orphan Zita Brydgeborn a letter saying she has inherited a distant castle, she jumps at the chance of adventure. But little does she know that she is about to be thrust into a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Blackbird Castle was once home to a powerful dynasty of witches, all of them now dead under mysterious circumstances. All but Zita. And Zita, unfortunately, doesn't know the first thing about being a witch.

As she begins her lessons in charms and spells with her guardian, Mrs. Cantanker, Zita makes new allies - a crow, a talking marble head, two castle servants just her age named Bram and Minnifer, and the silent ghost of a green-eyed girl. But who is friend and who is foe? Zita must race to untangle her past and find the magic to save the home she's always hoped for. Because whatever claimed the souls of her family is now after her.

My Thoughts:
This middle grade novel by the talented author, Stefan Bachmann, is a magical tale told in the same stunning literary style that has made the 27-year-old a sensation in the world of children's books. (I had the pleasure of meeting him several years ago in Portland, OR.) Needless to say, I loved Cinders & Sparrows; it's a spellbinding story that you just can't put down. I highly recommend this recently released fantasy to readers of all ages!

Click here to learn more about the author, Stefan Bachmann.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Words Matter; Words are Seeds

In the last four years we've all heard the phrase, "words matter," from news anchors, political leaders, and others, many times. Another related phrase is, "you reap what you sow."

Since the tragic events on January 6th, I've pondered the power our President's words have had on the minds of many of our fellow citizens. It's sad; it's frightening, it's dangerous; and it should be a wake-up call to everyone on how and why the words we utter matter.

As a gardener, when I plant a tomato seed, I'm hoping to have a tomato plant grow from that seed. I don't expect a pumpkin to grow from a tomato seed, or a sunflower to grow from a tomato seed. 

The fir tree pictured at the center of this photo, is a volunteer. (If you're not familiar with what a volunteer tree is, it's a tree that grew from a seed that took root on its own.) As you see, the tree is now quite large. Since we built the fence to accommodate it twenty-four years ago, we've enjoyed it.

My point is, even though we didn't know the sapling had taken root, it had. Seeds have a life of their own, just like words have a life of their own. Words can take root in a heart, even without our knowledge. Understand that the words that you speak have power - for good or for evil.

Finally, I would say that as children's book authors we have a particular responsibility to not only be honest, inspirational, and entertaining, but most of all (in my opinion), to provide some hope to our young readers. Choosing our words thoughtfully, and wisely, is always essential.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Chatelaine (n.)
1- a woman in charge of a large house.
2- a set of short chains attached to a woman's belt, used for carrying keys.
Example: The Speaker of the House was a champion chatelaine, indeed. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Ickabog
by J.K. Rowling

Flap Copy Description:
Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes-of-Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them.
But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks, Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands...the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it's just a myth...
And when that myth takes on a life of its own, casting a shadow over the kingdom. Two children - best friends Bert and Daisy - embark on a great adventure to untangle the truth and find out where the real monster lies, bringing hope and happiness to Cornucopia once more.

My Thoughts:
During the lockdown of 2020, Ickabog was first published online for children to enjoy. While J.K. Rowling has dealt with professional issues due to her political views, that's not what this review is about; it's about this fantastic book, that was illustrated by the winners of the Ickabog artwork competition. The artwork from children in both the United States and Canada, is nothing less than spectacular, and the talent of the iconic British author, jumps off every page of this original fairy tale. I highly recommend Ickabog to readers of all ages!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Children's Book Collection

My collection of old children's books grew significantly this Christmas, thanks to my generous family and friends. Vintage books have become an obsession, but I only seldom allow myself a purchase. I figured out that the allure, at least for me, is not only due to the wonderful children's stories within the spines of these old books, or even the beautiful illustrations that grace their pages. It's that these little tomes reflect a bygone era that makes each acquisition a treasure.

I've found that these rare editions not only bring me joy, they inspire me too. While children's books and the stories within them have changed much over time (as has our world), the idea that a child can learn and grow while enjoying a book is still just as true today as it was decades ago. During these difficult days, children need stories that provide hope and inspiration - with characters of integrity - now more than ever. That's enough motivation for me to keep writing in 2021.

Wishing each of you a wonderful year of writing!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Epiphany - (n.)

1- a moment of sudden revelation
2 - a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
3 - the festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.

 Happy Day of Epiphany!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Serpentine
by Philip Pullman

Flap Copy Description:
The world-changing events of The Amber Spyglass are behind them, and Lyra Silvertongue and her daemon, Pantalaimon, find themselves utterly changed as well. In Serpentine, they journey to the far North once more, hoping to ask the consul of witches a most urgent question.
This brand-new story, a beguiling must-read for Pullman fans old and new, is a wonderful companion to His Dark Materials and a fascinating bridge to The Book of Dust.

My Thoughts:
The magic of Philip Pullman's pen is just as present in this seventy-four-page book as it is in all of his other wonderful books. I found myself savoring a word, a phrase, a sentence, as though - all by themselves -  they were works of art. Additionally, the illustrations by Tom Duxbury seem to perfectly illuminate this new, whimsical little tale featuring the much-loved characters of Lyra and Pan. If you're a fan of the books by Philip Pullman, Serpentine is a must-read!

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