Friday, April 29, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

Obsessed with Outlander!
As embarrassed as I am of my goofy face, this photo is a special memory of the night I met author, Diana Gabaldon, back in 2014. (Can you see my excitement?)

My journey with the Outlander books began back in the early nineties; I even have the original cover of the first book. Since that time, I've read most of the books several times, including numerous novellas. As a true bibliophile, it's not just the story, it's Ms. Gabaldon's exquisite writing that I love. (The portrait is of my husband, Michael.)

When the first book of Outlander released as a TV series on Starz, I was skeptical. I refused to subscribe and waited for the DVD. What an idiot! (Diana Gabaldon has been a consultant on all of the episodes.)

While my husband has never read the books (boo!), he is a big fan of the TV series. So, when Sam Heughan released his The Sassenach whisky, I made sure to purchase a bottle for Michael; we drink a dram each Sunday night! While Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) struggle with the challenges on the ridge, I marvel how a novel first written over thirty years ago became such a worldwide phenomenon. Brava, Diana Gabaldon!

While this Sunday night marks the end of season six, dinna fash, Outlander fans: the cast & crew have started filming season seven! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Bughaw - (adj.)
blue; blue-colored.
Example: The bughaw blossoms echoed the blue in the spring sky.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

Emile and the Field
by Kevin Young
illustrated by Chioma Ebinama

Flap Copy Description:
There was a boy named Emile who fell in love with a field.
It was wide and blue - and if you could have seen it so would've you.
Emile loves the field close to his home - in spring, summer, and fall, when it gives him bees and flowers, blossoms and leaves. In winter, though, his beautiful, changing field fills up with other children and their sleds.
This lyrical tale of one boy's love for his favorite field through the seasons celebrates how spending time in nature allows children to dream, to imagine ... and even to share.

My Thoughts:
The imaginative text and unique illustrations in Emile and the Field work in tandem in such a magical way. Themes of nature and friendship beautifully come together in this precious picture book. I highly recommend it to children from the ages of three to seven.

Click here to learn about the author, Kevin Young.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, Chioma Ebinama.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

Happy Earth Day!

Spending time in the out of doors is one of my favorite things to do. Living in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest makes that pastime even more enjoyable than just about any place I've ever been. (However, I'd love to visit Alaska and Scotland again!)

Unless you've been living with your head in the sand, you're aware of the challenges our planet faces. Climate change, as well as onslaughts on our natural resources and wildlife, make it our responsibility to do everything we can to preserve and protect our spectacular planet.

As an author, I'm a bit unique. I don't start a story idea with a character or a plot; my ideas always originate with setting. Which, for me, always means including nature as a prominent feature. The beauty of tall timbers, roiling rivers, and babbling brooks, is what really excites me. 

I hope our planet can withstand the challenges it faces; to do so, it will take the effort of each one of us. If you'd like to join me and support Earth Day, visit the Earth Day Organization for more information.

On a side note, this week is also National Park Week; it would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day by visiting one of our numerous National Parks!

Lake Quinault - Olympic National Park - Washington State

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Sulit (adj.)
something that is worth the effort and/or money you paid for it.
Example: The beautiful sulit garden had taken several days of hard work to achieve, but worth every ache and pain.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

Hello, Puddle!
by Anita Sanchez 
illustrated by Luisa Uribe

Flap Copy Description:
Hello, puddle!
Who's here?
Ducklings and seedlings, mother turtles and baby squirrels - even kids come to the puddle. Some need a drink, others want a bath, and one of them is just curious. Who will visit the puddle nest, and what will they find?

My Thoughts:
Spring is such a wonderful time for children's books; Hello, Puddle is another lovely picture book to savor this season! The author and illustrator take an ordinary puddle and weave a remarkable story around the tiny collection of water - with which every child can relate. I highly recommend Hello, Puddle to children aged three to seven!

Click here to learn about the author, Anita Sanchez.
Click here to learn about the illustrator, Luisa Uribe.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

The Magic of Spring Snow

Like most people in the Pacific Northwest, the onset of spring is a welcome arrival. However, earlier this week, we received a surprise snowfall! 

When I say snowfall, I mean eight inches! This threw a curve into my schedule, causing me to cancel events with family and friends. However, the beauty and magic of snow - in the middle of April - is something that I couldn't help but enjoy. Every story for children that I've ever written, has included nature, trees, and snow! I took the opportunity to spend time on our snow-covered property, savoring the unexpected transformation and listening to the trees creak and crack.

It wasn't difficult to imagine woodland elves, dryads, or anthropomorphic animals, prancing about our property. It was a lovely surprise - and inspiration - to promote my creativity!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Meraki (v.)
to do something with soul, creativity, or love; to leave a piece and essence of yourself in your work.
Example: The artisan's handmade items were obviously made with meraki. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

Alias Anna
A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis
by Susan Hood

Flap Copy Description:
She wouldn't be Zhanna.
She'd use an alias.
A for Anna.
A for alive.

When the Germans invade Ukraine, Zhanna, a young Jewish girl, must leave behind her friends, her freedom, and her promising musical future at a world-renowned conservatory. With no time to say goodbye, Zhanna, her sister, Frina, and their entire family are removed from their home by the Nazis and forced on a long, cold death march. When her father bribes a guard, Zhanna escapes with nothing more than her musical talent, her beloved Chopin sheet music, and her father's final plea: "I don't care what you do. Just live." 

My Thoughts:
This recently released middle grade story is already being touted as one of the very best books for young readers about the Holocaust. I couldn't agree more. (Ironically, its release, unknowingly, coincided with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, it is extremely relevant right now.)  Alias Anna was written in beautiful verse and was co-authored by Greg Dawson - the son of Ukranian-born Zhanna. (Greg Dawson's mother married American, David Dawson, after World War II.) Written like a symphony, the extraordinary story unfolds movement by movement and crescendos in a heartwarming finale. I can't strongly recommend this book enough; fans of history, music, and amazing non-fiction, will love Alias Anna.

Click here to learn about author, Susan Hood.
Click here to learn about journalist and author, Greg Dawson.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

My Spring Break

In addition to being a writer, reader, and blogger, I'm an avid gardener. It was great to spend the last couple of weeks planting flowers, transplanting ferns in our bucolic property, and in general, working in our yard. (It needs so much attention!) 

Below is a brief anecdote of one surprising incident with "our friends" two weeks ago.

We realized that the blueberry bushes (that we love!) would look and do much better in another spot of our property. But with warmer weather, time was slipping away before it would be too late to make the transplants safely.

So, late last month, Michael dug two holes next to our deer feeder as the new home for the blueberry bushes. However, before we could make the transfer, our friends had other plans!
We'd already discovered how friendly and smart our black-tailed deer are, but we didn't know how curious they were. Their presence near the plant site delayed our task for some time.
Michael was finally able to resume his arduous work of digging up the large blueberry bushes with their long, stringy roots. He then transferred them across our yard, to the spot now vacated by the deer.
It's difficult to see the bushes in this photo, but they are now sitting peacefully in their new home. It will be interesting to watch the saga unfold, since deer love blueberries! But that was all part of our plan.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Hodophile - (n.)
a lover of roads; one who loves to travel.
Example: The hodophile was happiest when cruising down a highway in her old VW bug.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

I Begin with Spring 
The Life and Seasons of Henry David Thoreau
by Julie Dunlap

Back Flap Copy Description:
How do we live well, for ourselves and our world, in this time of injustice and climate change?
Begin now, where you are, in spring or any season.
That is the message Henry David Thoreau sends us from his time almost two centuries ago.

My Thoughts: love of nature, 
I Begin with Spring is a beautiful and inspirational book! Ms. Dunlap follows the life of Thoreau through the aperture of plant and animal life as the seasons progress. In addition to Thoreau's love of nature, his strong stand for social justice - so long ago - is a very relevant message for children today. I highly recommend I Begin with Spring for children aged seven to twelve. Brava, Julie Dunlap!