Monday, May 30, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

The Last Mapmaker
by Christina Soontornvat

Flap Copy Description:
Sai has a secret.
As Assistant to Mangkon's most celebrated mapmaker, Paiyoon Wongyai, she plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a low-life con man - and in a kingdom where the status of your ancestors dictates your social position, no one can know that Sai's connection to the past is a single tarnished link. So when Sai is given an opportunity to join Paiyoon on an expedition to chart the southern seas, she jumps at her chance to sever that link and start a new life.
Soon she realizes that there is more to the expedition than meets the eye and that she's not the only one on board who has secrets. When she learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands - a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagination - she has to decide exactly what she's willing to risk to chase after her dreams. 

My Thoughts:
I found Ms. Soontornvat's new middle grade novel to be imaginative and unique. Whenever there's a female protagonist, I tend to be a bit more excited to read the book; Sai didn't let me down! Additionally, The Last Mapmaker is a novel that will inspire readers to be true to themselves and follow their dreams. I highly recommend this book to readers aged eight to twelve!

Click here to learn about author, Christina Soontornvat.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

Claude Monet's home in Giverny - 2014

A Writing Update

Since my husband and I continue to upgrade our "new" home - and as I continue to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery a few weeks ago - my daily writing routine had been pushed off track. 

But recently, I've been inspired to put my writing as top priority once again, so I thought I'd post an update on my current work in progress.

As I've mentioned on this blog numerous times, I've completed a middle grade time-travel novel some time ago; it is the first book in a proposed series. Each novel sets my protagonist in a different country and meeting a famous inspirational character. (The first novel found my protagonist in England, and meeting Winston Churchill.) So, while I continue to query literary agents for the first book, I've decided to begin drafting the second novel in the series which is set in France, and in which Livvi Biddle and her friends meet Claude Monet at his home.

When we visited Giverny in the Normandy region of France in 2014, I took copious notes. (When we returned home, I continued my research by reading several books on Claude Monet and his home and gardens.)

So, now all these years later, I am finally ready to put pen to paper to create the second book in my Livvi Biddle series. While I've outlined the entire seven book series - and roughly outlined this book set in France - it's been exciting to find myself back in the time-travel world I created and to spend time with my characters - my old friends.

I had thought I'd wait to write this story until the first book was published. However, I now believe I should just proceed with the second book and maintain my momentum.

Wish me luck, as I go back in time to converse with Claude Monet!

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Rame - (adj.)
something that is both joyful and chaotic at the same time.
Example: Giving birth to her first child was a rame experience for the young mother.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

Osmo Unknown 
and the Eightpenny Woods
by Catherynne M. Valente

Flap Copy Description:
Osmo Unknown hungers for the world beyond his small town. With the life that Littlebridge society has planned for him, the only taste Osmo will ever get is his visits to the edge of Fourpenny Woods where his mother hunts. Until the unthinkable happens: his mother accidentally kills a Quidnink, a fearsome and intelligent creature who lives deep in the woods.
None of this should have anything to do with poor Osmo, except that a treaty was once formed between the Quidninx and the people of Littlebridge that neither group would harm the other. Now that a Quidnunk is dead, as the firstborn child of the hunter who killed her, Osmo must embark on a quest to find the Eightpenny Woods - the mysterious kingdom where all forest creatures go when they die - and make amends. Accompanied by a very rude half-badger, half-wombat named Bonk and an antisocial pangolin girl called Never, Osmo will need all his bravery and cleverness to survive the magic of the Eightpenny Woods to save his town...and make it out alive.

My Thoughts:
Award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente has done it again; Osmo Unknown is the latest in her long list of fantasy creations - I loved it! Her dark fairy tale takes the reader on a wild and imaginative journey, where strange beasts abound! I highly recommend this middle grade novel to readers aged eight to twelve.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

Under the Umbrella
Though I'm a Pacific Northwesterner through and through, using an umbrella is something I rarely do. However, the phrase "under the umbrella" is something I think of quite often. Especially in relation to how my writing fits into my life as a whole.

Many years ago, when I was in a very dark period of my life, a wise person gave me some invaluable advice: "You need more parts in your daily routine that pertain not only to your family, but things that pertain to you - personally. Friends, interests... possibly, a new profession. You need more under your umbrella." I took that advice and found a way through the darkness to see that an entire new life was waiting for me.

Since that time, writing has become my new profession. And though it doesn't pay as well as my former occupation, I've never been happier. However, part of the reason I'm so content is that I have always remembered to have several interests under the umbrella of my life. Beyond my family and friends, I enjoy hobbies: time in the out of doors, traveling, music, reading, and a passion for a variety of the arts.

So, while this blog is about children's literature, from time to time you may notice topics that don't quite fit into that category. 

But they do fit under the umbrella of my life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Liberosis - (n.)
the desire to care less about things - to loosen your grip on your life.
Example: The new father felt a sense of liberosis welling up inside his soul, as the love for his infant son seemed to replace his own concerns. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

My Own Lightning
by Lauren Wolk

Flap Copy Description:
It's been several months since the tragic events set in motion by bully Betty Glengarry, and the routine of daily life in Wolf Hollow has slowly returned. But for Annabelle McBride it's hard to move forward and make peace with what feels like thread-bare justice.
Newly warm summer days are about to bring a jolt of change on the winds of a powerful storm. In its wake, the search for her brother's missing dog will set Annabelle on a new path that brings her to unfamiliar doorsteps and reunites her with a too-familiar adversary - Andy Woodberry, who was complicit in Betty's most terrible acts. Growing up and blazing her own trail will soon force Annabelle to reexamine deeply felt truths - about people, about justice, about herself - that had once seemed so uncomplicated. 

My Thoughts:
With a touch of magical realism, author Lauren Wolk's My Own Lightning is a worthy sequel to her Newbery Honor winning novel, Wolf Hollow. This poignant tale includes a protagonist that is kind and courageous, and brave enough to examine her own prejudgments of others. Set in Pennsylvania during World War II, this lyrical slice of Americana is historical fiction at its finest. My Own Lightning is a middle grade novel not to miss. I highly recommend it to readers aged eight to eighty!

Click here to learn about the author, Lauren Wolk.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

Friday the 13th!

If you're a writer of fantasy for children, myths, legends, and superstitions are critical elements in the drafting of your magical storyline. Long-held superstitious beliefs are important.

They can offer the writer a premise from which to launch her plot. Whether it's werewolves and a full moon, vampires' aversion for sunlight, or the proverbial black cat and our fear to cross its path!

For me, the myth (or is it?) that one can time-travel through the portal at Stonehenge (near Salisbury, England), prompted me to spend the last decade working on a middle grade novel in which my female protagonist unexpectedly travels through time while visiting the famous Standing Stones. My husband, Michael, and I were lucky enough to visit the World Heritage Site in 2014, on our three-week trip to Europe.

Michael, me, and a shapeshifting bird?
So, if you're a writer of magical stories for children, it behooves you to utilize strange and superstitious beliefs to your advantage. 

Whether you're superstitious, or not! 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Perfidious - (adj.)
deceitful and untrustworthy.
Example: The schoolmaster couldn't trust the perfidious pupil not to cheat on his examinations.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

The Ogress and the Orphans
by Kelly Barnhill

Flap Copy Description:
Maybe, the Ogress thought, this was a place where she could belong.
Stone-in-the-Glen, once a lovely town, has fallen on hard times. Fires, floods, and other calamities have caused the people to lose their library, their school, their park, and even their neighborliness. The people have put their faith in the Mayor, a dazzling fellow who promises he alone can help. After all, he is a famous dragon slayer. (At least, no one has seen a dragon in his presence.) Only the clever children of the Orphan House and the kindly Ogress at the edge of town can see how dire the town's problems are.
Then one day a child goes missing from the Orphan House. At the Mayor's suggestion, all eyes turn to the Ogress. The Orphans know this can't be: the Ogress, along with a flock of excellent crows, secretly delivers gifts to the people of Stone-in-the-Glen.
But how can the orphans tell the story of the Ogress's goodness to people who refuse to listen? And how can they make their deluded neighbors see the real villain in their midst?

My Thoughts:
Kelly Barnhill has written several novels for children; her best-known is The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which won the Newbery Medal in 2017. Her most recent release is The Ogress and the Orphans; once again, Ms. Barnhill has penned an extraordinary middle grade novel! Clean, crisp text bring the author's exquisite storytelling style front and center. The diverse cast of characters and old-world setting add to the mystique of this enchanting tale featuring themes of generosity and love. I highly recommend The Ogress and the Orphans to readers aged eight to twelve.

Click here to learn about the author, Kelly Barnhill.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Storyteller's Journey

An Author Interview with Deb Cushman

It's been a long time since I've interviewed a visiting author about her own storyteller's journey. So, today I have a very special guest with me: one of my critique partners, Deb Cushman!
Deb's middle grade novel Frigg's Journey to Anasgar will release in September.
Welcome to Writ of Whimsy, Deb! 

Deb: Thank you so much for having me, Victoria. I'm excited to be here.
WW: So, Deb, before we discuss your exciting new fantasy middle grade novel, I thought I'd ask you about your own journey as a writer. When did you first begin writing stories for kids? 
Deb: I've been writing stories since 2nd grade when we stapled together small journals and filled them with our tales. When I was in the 3rd grade, I wrote a historical play which was performed by my classmates for our parents. In 6th grade I wrote stories with my spelling words, that often included original songs and commercials. I guess you could say I've always enjoyed writing and was lucky to have teachers who fostered creativity.
WW: That's amazing! You're definitely a born writer. Since you've been writing for so long what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?
Deb: Never give up. That's rather cliché but it has been true for me. I've worked hard at my craft, found supporting writers, joined writing organizations, and kept writing. I've had success having short stories published in magazines, but the competition is strong, and you have to keep going when you feel the urge to give up.
WW: That's great advice, for sure. Deb, would share one or two obstacles you've encountered on your path to publication?
Deb: I've had many agents and editors tell me, "Your writing is good, but your story is not quite what the market is looking for right now." The "market" is a tough obstacle to get past. No matter how creative your story, if the gatekeepers feel it is too much like something else or is something that isn't the most popular trend right now, they don't think they can sell it. I do understand. Writing is a business, and they must look at the bottom line, but often my debut book is compared to The Hobbit because it is a quest and has dwarves and elves. People love The Hobbit and I think they will love Frigg's Journey to Anasgar as well.
WW: So, what inspired you to write Frigg's Journey to Anasgar?
Deb: I'm a great lover of adventure fantasy and I noticed that in most stories with dwarf main characters, the heroes are always male. I began to wonder what a female dwarf hero would be like. In Frigg's Journey to Anasgar, a young dwarf named after Frigg, the Norse goddess of all things domestic, dreams of adventure and wants to be able to do all the wonderful, active things that the boys do in her patriarchal society. I was a lot like Frigg when I was younger, so it wasn't a hard choice to imagine her story!
WW: I didn't even know about all that. Thanks so much for the interview, Deb!
Deb: You're very welcome. I appreciate the opportunity to share story.

Below is the cover and a short summary of Frigg's Journey to Anasgar, as well as the social media sites where you can connect with the author, Deb Cushman. I know she has some special activities and events planned for her book's release, so you won't want to miss following Deb's author sites. Enjoy!

Is there such a thing as too much adventure?
Captured by ogres! Exhibited in a freak show! When Frigg dreamed of adventure, this is NOT what she expected. After trolls attack Frigg's colony, the young dwarf and her friends escape and embark on a perilous journey to locate the legendary dwarf colony Anasgar for help. Blundering Bloodstones!
Can a dwarf, a faery, an elf, and a unicorn convince the defiant dwarves of Anasgar to help fight the trolls, or will her friends and family be enslaved forever?

Frigg's Journey to Anasgar is the first book of an exciting new middle-grade fantasy series, Chronicles of Nadavir, that will follow a group of magical friends on journeys of adventures and discovery. It will be released in September 2022.

I've created a set of FREE activities for children aged 8-12 to enjoy when you join my Nadavir Kids Club on my website. There are games, puzzles, crafts, stories, and other fun activities. Each month I will add a new activity and announce it in my newsletter!

Congratulations, Deb Cushman!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Whimsical Word of the Week

Droid - (n.)
a robot, especially one with an appearance resembling that of a human.
Example: The Star Wars convention was full of attendees dressed as jedis, droids, and stormtroopers.
May the Force be with you! 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Bibliophile's Corner

The Big Book of Blooms
by Yuval Zommer

Back Cover Description:
What does a Venus flytrap eat?
How strong is a giant water lily?
Do flowers bloom at night?
You'll find the answers to these thorny questions and many more inside, along with everything you need to know about how botanists are helping save the planet, and how you can grow your own garden!
As you meet all kinds of colorful, carnivorous, weird and wonderful flowering plalnts from around the world, you can play search and find in the pictures, too. Can you spot the special bulb?

My Thoughts:
This extraordinary book is both beautiful and big! It's full of Mr. Zommer's exquisite illustrations, as well as loads of information about everything to do about flower and plants. I highly recommend The Big Book of Blooms to gardeners (and gardeners-to-be) of all ages!

Click here to learn about the author/illustrator, Yuval Zommer.