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Posts Tagged ‘Beatrix Potter’

Andrew 2 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Andrew McDowell. Andrew McDowell wanted to be a writer since he was a teenager. He studied History and English at St. Mary’s College, and Library & Information Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and an associate nonfiction editor with the literary journal JMWW. Andrew has also written and published poetry and creative nonfiction.

Andrew McDowell’s book, Mystical Greenwood, is a fantasy novel filled with magic and adventure. A quick summary for my readers:

Dermot is a fifteen-year-old boy living in the land of Denú who has always longed for something more in life. His life changes when he encounters a gryphon and a mysterious healer. Drawn into a conflict against one determined to subjugate the kingdom, Dermot and his brother Brian are forced to leave their home.

A legendary coven must now reunite, for they are Denú’s greatest hope. In the course of meeting unicorns and fighting dragons and men in dark armor, Dermot discovers a deep, sacred magic which exists within every greenwood he crosses through, but his own role in this conflict is greater than he suspects. Can he protect those he loves, or will all that’s good be consumed by darkness?

andrew's book Where did the idea come from for your book, Mystical Greenwood?
It started out as a horror story actually, which I began writing by hand before I took a keyboarding class my freshman year in high school. However as I continued to develop the story, especially once I was able to type, I realized it was leaning towards fantasy. So I went with it. Later on, I was searching for an overarching theme and I remembered my childhood love of wild animals and my respect for the environment. So I conducted research into natural magic and earth/Nature-based spirituality and faiths as well as Irish and Celtic myth and folklore.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?
Dermot and Saershe tie for the spot of my favorite character. I see Dermot as the nature lover in me. Saershe is ultimately an embodiment of Mother Nature, and I’m glad to have her as the mentor who takes Dermot and his brother Brian on their journey.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?
Mystical Greenwood was published by Mockingbird Lane Press, an independent press based in Arkansas. I was able to query them directly without an agent. Previously I had queried agents, and those who responded always said no. Mockingbird Lane Press was the first to offer me a contract. I was able to work directly with them during the editing process, and they developed the cover art and a book trailer. The book is print on-demand, and available in paperback, Kindle, and Nook, but it’s non-returnable. The marketing is on me.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?
I’m far more of a pantser than a planner. I do try to keep some plot notes and points in my head, but it’s much easier for me to write as I go, so that I don’t contain myself and at times can enjoy surprises when they come and help build the story.

What was your favorite book as a child?
This was a hard question because I liked so many books when I was little. Goodnight Moon was one. My love for it made my Dad buy it as a baby book for others. I also enjoyed the stories of Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter (according to my parents I could recite The Cat in the Hat). One nonfiction book that did have a huge impact on me as a child was A Whale is Not a Fish and Other Animal Mix-ups by Melvin Berger—it spurred my interest in learning about wild animals.

What writing project are you currently working on?
I’m working on a couple different projects at the moment. One is the sequel to Mystical Greenwood. Another is a book I started in college about abused and neglected dogs. In addition, I have a number of smaller unpublished materials, including poetry, essays, and short stories.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
That would be the advice my Dad gave me early on: the important thing to remember is to tell a story well.

Want to learn more about Andrew McDowell and Mystical Greenwood? Check out his: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, Google+, and Tumblr.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Mystical Greenwood.

Thanks to author Andrew McDowell for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Rebecca Buchanan on January 10, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Beatrix Potter “This looks like the end of the story; but it isn’t.” – Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

I love this quote, because in the best books, you think you know the end of the story. But you don’t! Everything you need as a reader to figure out the conclusion of the book is there, but the writer has woven the tale so masterfully, you don’t see the finish line until you’re nearly upon it.

Of course, there are times I want a happily-ever-after ending, and I know by the final page characters will die, dreams will collapse, and wars will be lost. Like in the movie, Atonement. We think the joyful story of young lovers reunited is true, but alas discover the soldier was killed and never returned to his beloved.

How about you, do you always recognize the “real” end of a story

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On Easter, most readers are thinking of Beatrix Potter’s rabbits, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, Peter, and their cousin Benjamin Bunny. Instead, I thought of CS Lewis today. Why? For starters, a writer friend sent me a video featuring a pair of beavers repairing their home during a warm spell.

It is still winter, and ice remains. A warm wind has caused a bit of a thaw, so the beavers are out and about. They ignore the photographer, and go about their beaver business. Which would be interesting enough, but about 2 minutes into the video – one of the beavers stands on his hind feet and carries a load of sticks.

This wild beaver suddenly reminded me of Mr. Beaver and his wife from CS Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many of you will recall the first encounter with Mr. Beaver from the movie – how he startles Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy by speaking, and seeming quite comfortable standing on 2 legs.

In the book, after staying at Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s home for a bit, the three children and the Beavers rush into the night and try to keep ahead of the White Queen and her forces who are in pursuit. As they trudge through the winter woods, Lucy becomes tired.

CS Lewis writes: “And she stopped looking at the dazzling brightness of the frozen river with all its waterfalls of ice and at the white masses of the tree-tops and the great glaring moon and the countless stars and could only watch the little short legs of Mr. Beaver going pad-pad-pad-pad through the snow in front of her as if they were never going to stop. Then the moon disappeared and the snow began to fall once more…”

But CS Lewis fans know that spring and Aslan are on their way. Most CS Lewis fans also know Aslan will sacrifice himself for Edmund’s bad behavior, be killed by the witch and her followers, then, be reborn.

And so, Easter is indeed a perfect time to not only think of  Beatrix Potter and her Tale of Peter Rabbit, but also to think of CS Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

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Beatrix Potter I’m back at Whimsical Words after a 2-month hiatus. And I’ll re-start blogging with a new Quotable Wednesday feature.

Beatrix Potter, author-illustrator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other charming animal tales, was born in London, England, July 28, 1866. One of my favorite quotes of hers: “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.”

For me, and many other writers, these words hold true.

(As to where I got this photo and many more I’ll be using this year – I purchased a collection of author postcards many years ago. I used them as bookmarks! It was fascinating to look at the face of the writer as I read his or her work).

 

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On July 28, 1866, English author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, was born in London, England. Most of us read (or had read to us) The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which Beatrix self-published in 1901. In 1902, Frederick Warne & Co. published a 3-color edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Miss Potter’s charming vision of English country life and animals would soon become childhood favorites. Though I must mention, her second book, The Tailor of Gloucester, was also initially self-published!

We don’t usually think of Beatrix Potter as a fantasy writer, yet she is one. Her careful study and sketching of her pets, including mice, rabbits, kittens, and frogs, and vivid imagination helped her build a magical world of talking animals rendered in soft watercolors. But even the children who read and love her stories know that Peter, Benjamin, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, Jemina Puddle-duck, Squirrel Nutkin, and their friends don’t really wander about England’s Lake District dressed in tiny jackets and shoes. Such foolishness is mere fantasy!

So Happy Birthday, Beatrix Potter! Thank you for your delightful books that introduced so many of us to a magical world where bunnies drink chamomile tea for stomach aches and farmers make scarecrows out of tiny rabbit clothes. And for those of you who haven’t seen Miss Potter, I recommend this movie about Beatrix’s life.

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