Friday, October 29, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

The Autumn Moon & Forest Monsters

Since moving onto our wooded rural property, my sense of connection to nature has impacted my imagination greatly. Then too, it's not just my imagination. 

With screaming coyotes, screeching owls, and howling winds through the tall timbers, it doesn't take my imagination to believe there are dangers lurking not far from our home. While I've mentioned numerous times the black-tailed deer that make our property their home, there have also been reports of coyotes very near some of our neighbors' homes - as well as a bear! Thankfully, our sightings have been mostly deer, owls, squirrels, and other birds & small critters.

The exciting news is that I have a story for children banging around in my brain! It would be a short story, so probably become a Lindstrom Wintertime Tale. I won't mention any details, other than it features a deer. (No surprise there!) Other ideas have floated through my mind, but only the short story has taken any shape at all. However, who knows. With Halloween upon us, my eerie surroundings might just take my writing in an entirely different direction than it's ever gone before.

Have a safe and happy Halloween! 🎃

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Logolepsy (n.)

an obsession or fascination with words.
Example: Many authors have lived with the condition of logolepsy all of their lives.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

Change Sings
by Amanda Gorman 
illustrated by Loren Long

Flap Copy Description:
In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes - big and small - in the world, in their communities, and, most importantly, in themselves.

My Thoughts:
Like many, if not most, Americans, I recall the inauguration of President Joe Biden, not because of his speech, but because of Amanda Gorman's poem! So when I learned she'd written a book for children, I purchased it immediately. As you'd expect, it's wonderful on so many levels. Her poem is uplifting, inspirational, and seems to challenge everyone to do more in the world. The illustrations of Loren Long perfectly illuminate Ms. Gorman's text - and bring to mind images of the decade of change: the sixties. I highly recommend Change Sings to readers of all ages. Bravo, Amanda Gorman!

Click here to learn more about the poet, Amanda Gorman.
Click here to learn more about the illustrator, Loren Long

Friday, October 22, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

My Love of Libraries

On many occasions I've blogged about libraries; they're sacred chambers of creativity, and have been for me since I was a young child. However, it's only been in the last couple of months, that I find myself once again looking to my local library for support. 

Support, not of the emotional kind, but of the technical sort. I won't belabor the issue of me lacking internet service at our home. I've come to accept the situation. In large part due to the local library that I visit once a week. The librarians are ( as you'd expect) kind and efficient; they leave me alone unless I've needed assistance. What's sort of ironic, is the fact that for a short period of time I actually volunteered to work with children in this very branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library in Battle Ground, Washington. It was a heartwarming experience, as it always is when I work with children. I also recall attending an author presentation (in the very room where I am now sitting) featuring the hilarious Newbery Medalist, author Jack Gantos. 

It feels healthy, for some reason, that I'm now back at the place that has so many times offered me opportunities, information, and even inspiration. It's also a lesson in humility. I have a need, and the library is reaching out to me with a helping hand. In this age of internet, it behooves us all to remember that not all U.S. citizens have internet service - for a variety of reasons. 

Remember to thank your local librarians!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Abditory (n.)
a place into which you can disappear; a hiding place.
Example: When Anne Frank and her family first moved into the Secret Annex, they had no idea it would be their abditory for twenty-five months.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Edge of Strange Hollow
by Gabrielle K. Byrne

Flap Copy Description:

Poppy Sunshine isn't like everyone else in Strange Hollow. She's not afraid of the Grimwood, home to magical creatures like shape-shifters, faeries, witches, and even a three-headed dog.
Banned from the wood by her parents, Poppy longs to learn everything about it and imagines joining her mother and father as they hunt the forest's cursed magical objects. So when her only family disappears on a routine expedition, she and her friends must break every rule to save them. But Poppy soon discovers that things in the Grimwood are rarely what they seem...
And the monsters who took her parents may not be monsters at all.

My Thoughts:
If your child loves stories featuring magical creatures, then The Edge of Strange Hollow is one not to miss! This enchanting adventure seems to jump off the page, and no wonder with the master storytelling skills of Gabrielle K. Byrne. Like most great middle grade books, this one includes themes of family and friendship, while leading the reader into a world of fantasy. I highly recommend The Edge of Strange Hollow to readers aged eight and up.

Click here to learn about the author, Gabrielle K. Byrne.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Artwork: Public Domain
October Obstacles

Last week I discussed the unexpected joys I've experienced since moving to a rural area. As I sit here in my small community library (which I'm so grateful for!) I find myself feeling frustrated. After living in our new home for seven weeks now, we are still unable to obtain internet, TV, or even a landline telephone. Add to that, that I just finished up a week of being on call for jury duty; somehow it was my first time being summoned as a juror. I won't describe the experience since we're sworn to secrecy. Let's just say I won't be in the witness (or juror) protection program anytime soon.

These obstacles have reminded me of just how much of a creature of routine and ritual I really am. It feels like I'm the little engine that could...that has fallen off the tracks! Now, I'm the little engine that can't. In any event, I've been aware for a very long time how repelled I am by change. Even though there are personal blessings at our new home, as a writer, it's been tough. Had not life aligned the stars in a miraculous formation, I'd probably still be attached to the woodwork of our old home.

So how can I regroup and get my writing momentum back?

By placing one foot (or finger) in front of the other. My new normal may just well include the library as my office for a while. 

Another thought is that the journey is always more important than the destination. (Or daily wordcount.) That's why, years ago, I began calling my Friday posts, Storyteller's Journey. This, too, is part of that journey.

Living life, with all of it's unusual experiences is essential for a writer's relevance. If everything was always easy, what would we have to say? 

These obstacles have also reminded me of the importance of appreciating the little things in life: The autumn breeze through the trees around our property, the ever-present black-tailed deer that share our land, and on and on. However, this will be a laborious process of transformation: from being a city girl to becoming country gal.

What are your thoughts on regaining momentum when it's lost?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Polypody (noun)
a genus of chiefly epiphytic ferns.
Example: The tiny woodland elf skipped and skittered from mushroom to  polypody.


Monday, October 11, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Scarecrow
by Beth Ferry illustrated by 
The Fan Brothers

Flap Copy Description:
All the animals know not to mess with old Scarecrow. But when a small, scared crow falls from midair, Scarecrow does the strangest thing...
Bestselling author Beth Ferry and the widely acclaimed Fan Brothers present this tender and affectionate tale that reminds us of the comforting power of friendship and the joy of helping others.

My Thoughts:
Ms. Ferry has woven a wonderful tale of unexpected friendship; for as we all know, people - and scarecrows - are not always what they seem. This beautiful picture book was exquisitely illustrated by Terry Fan and Eric Fan. (I must admit, when I saw the words, The Fan Brothers on the cover, I knew I had to purchase it!) I highly recommend The Scarecrow. If you have a small child, this is the perfect book for autumn - or to read with the family leading into Thanksgiving. 

Click here to learn about the author, Beth Ferry.
Click here to learn about the illustrators, The Fan Brothers.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

A New World

It wasn't a snap decision when my husband Michael and I decided to move to the rural backwoods of our county. However, even though we knew that the change would be challenging, we didn't realize all the joys that would also come our way. 

* The "quiet" that you hear is awe-inspiring. Just that one element of our new world is enough to calm the mind and inspire the soul.

* We both expected that the rural country would be full of crazy right-wing conservatives. (I hate to admit that, but it's true.) At least where we live, nothing could be further from the truth. While people are more independent, for the most part they are "middle-of-the-road" folks, as are we. It's been a reminder as to why it's best not to pre-judge.

* Learning to be more independent is invigorating. Whether it's the utility trailer we purchased to haul away our own yard debris, or staying warm next to the pellet stove in our country kitchen, living away from the hubbub of city life causes you to be more engaged in your personal day to day existence.

* We also figured that to enjoy a night out we'd need to return to the big city. Again, we were wrong! Vineyards, pubs, and restaurants are not only prevalent, but some are quite chic. Like the restaurant that is attached to its vineyard; where they have live music playing on the weekends - cool music too!

* I even recently met a fellow writer. While she doesn't write for children, we have so much in common. I'm sure I'll be spending time with the lovely lady again.

All in all, Michael and I are asking ourselves: "Why did we wait so long to make the move?" Probably because we're both firstborns and getting us to choose to change is a major feat.

While we are basking in these blessings, it's not all been positive. Next week I'll touch on a few of the unexpected challenges I've faced so far.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Whimsical Word of the Week

Lachrymose - (adj.)

tearful or given to weeping.
Example: The little child was distraught and  lachrymose.


Monday, October 4, 2021

Bibliophile's Corner

The Sisters of Straygarden Place
by Hayley Chewins

Flap Copy Description:
Seven years ago, the Ballastian sisters; parents left them in the magical Straygarden Place, a house surrounded by tall silver grass and floating trees, with a warning:

Do not leave the house.
Do not go into the grass.
Wait for us.
Sleep darkly.

The house has taken care of Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine - feeding them, clothing them, even keeping them company - while they have waited and grown up and played a guessing game:

Think of an animal, think of a place.
Think of a person, think of a face.

But when the eldest, fourteen-year-old Winnow, does the unthinkable and goes into the grass, everything twelve-year-old Mayhap thought she knew about her home, her family, and even herself starts to unravel.

My Thoughts:
Middle grade novels are some of my favorite books to read, and The Sisters of Straygarden Place was no exception! It's a magical tale, written in a poetic style, and set in an imaginative dark world full of secrets and mysteries. If you're a fan of fantasy books for young readers this one by Hayley Chewins is one not to miss!

Click here to learn about the author, Hayley Chewins.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Storyteller's Journey

Lessons from a Lengthy Summer

As I recently mentioned on this blog, my summer provided me with not only an education in home renovation, but offered insights to life in general.

These similarities between creating a home and creating a manuscript seemed to come to my mind: 

* "Cutting in" before applying paint to the large portions of a room, reminded me of the importance of doing thorough research and an outline before I begin a major writing project. 

* Sanding again and again on my hardwood floors until they were super smooth, reminded me of the importance of editing again and again until my story begins to really sing.

* When I chose the incorrect color for our master bedroom, I was tempted to just say, "oh well, I'll live with it." But I knew I wouldn't be happy with the room or myself, so I repainted it the correct color. That reminded me of that awful time when I'd completed a draft of a story only to realize it was awful, and just needed to be deleted.

Even the photo above is an example of needing to go the extra mile to achieve the result I wanted. While it looks like the birdbath and bench were just plopped into place, it took nearly an hour for my husband and I to get them level. All in all, what I realized this summer is that lessons I've learned as a writer, are really lessons about life. Persistence, perseverance, discipline, and a desire for excellence will serve a person well, no matter what their endeavor. Something to keep in mind.