Dear readers – I’m working on a new series of posts celebrating writing, inspiration, and my love of middle grade and young adult literature that will debut this summer – but in honor of the day, please enjoy one of my older posts featuring a bit o’ green and a nod to the importance of storytellers. Sláinte.
In honor of my Irish heritage, I keep a few long-standing St. Patrick’s Day traditions alive in our house: corned beef and cabbage, a pint or two of Guinness, Chieftains music and required viewing of Darby O’Gill and the Little People – a classic piece of Disney cinema based on the books of books of Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.
If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend Darby O’Gill. Film critic and historian, Leonard Maltin in his book The Disney Films, states, “Darby O’Gill and the Little People is not only one of Disney’s best films, but is certainly one of the best fantasies ever put on film.”
There are surprises in the movie (Sean Connery singing!) and fiery Irish romance (between Connery and Janet Munro). And the main character, Darby, is an authentic, storytelling Irishman played by well-known Irish stage and film actor, Albert Sharpe.
I’ve been indulging in a kind of communications sabbatical over this past pandemic year. Somehow, the thought of blog posts and promotions was a bit too much for my quarantine- and worry-weary mind. Instead, I concentrated on self-care, private writing, and revising of existing projects. But I’m ready now for some positive change: spring is here: flowers, warmth, sun–and hope for better times ahead for all of us.
To mark my emergence from communication hibernation, I’m celebrating the second anniversary of the publication of Dragon’s Truth by teaming up with The Book Fairies for their Indie Author Day on April 15.
Yes, they ARE real! The Book Fairies is a worldwide organization that launched on International Women’s Day in 2017 with a clear and simple mission – read good books and share them with others by “hiding” them in public places.
A few weeks ago, copies of Dragon’s Truth were sent out to Book Fairies across the United States. So, keep your eyes open on April 15! You may find a copy of my book – or another Book Fairy gift waiting just for you.
Interested in learning more about The Book Fairies and their awesome projects? Visit their website and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Want to order your own copy of Dragon’s Truth to read and share? Visit my favorite independent bookstore: Oblong Books and Music.
Wishing you all a happy spring, a better world, creative joy, and plenty of good things to come.
It’s a strange, strange world for all of us right now.
I’m not on the front lines in a hospital, grocery store, emergency service, or government crisis center, etc. But I so appreciate and care about all of those who are doing their best to help us through this time and provide accurate information and much-needed resources, and those who are often risking their lives to aid and protect our neighbors and loved ones. God bless.
Like many of you, I’m doing my part by staying home and flattening the curve. I’m writing to you from the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State. I’m safe and well. I have my hubby and best friend here with me. I have a full pantry. I have a dog. I have my computer, pen and paper, and I have about three thousand books.
Still, I feel a bit isolated and I miss–and am worried about–my family and friends — we’re strung across the U.S. and Canada from coast to coast and live across oceans in other countries that are also facing this hardship. But we’re staying in touch through video and phone calls, social media, and shouts from driveway to driveway.
I know many of you are doing okay, but struggling, too. And some of you are facing daily dangers and anxiety. Please take care of yourselves. Try to stay connected in whatever way you can. We’re going to make it through this.
March 30 is the one-year anniversary of the publication of Dragon’s Truth. I’d hoped to celebrate with some special in-person events and an appearance at a local bookfair, but those plans are no longer viable.
Instead, I’d like to send some book love out to the universe.
I’ll be giving away 5 signed copies of Dragon’s Truth (purchased through my favorite indie bookstore, Oblong Books, in preparation for a now-canceled event). To enter, simply click the entry link at the bottom or top of this post, provide your full name and email address (I will only use your address to contact you about this contest and will not share your information with any other entity or person). If you choose to follow me on Twitter, or already do, you’ll be given a second entry.
Since there may be a delay in shipping/receiving physical copies of Dragon’s Truth, I’ll also be sending winners an e-copy for Nook or Kindle (I’ll purchase and send the copies myself – please wait to see if you are a winner before providing a Nook or Kindle address )
Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my writing journey!
It’s hard for me to believe that September 30 will mark the
six-month anniversary of the publication of Dragon’s Truth! The weeks
have flown by and I have truly enjoyed sharing Rhyan Kember’s story and connecting
with readers at libraries, bookstores, and festivals, and I’m looking forward
to upcoming school events and classroom visits.
To celebrate this six-month milestone, I’ll be running another #followblitz promotion throughout the month of September. New blog followers on leannepankuch.com, and new followers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will receive TWO entries to win an autographed copy of Dragon’s Truth and a map of Rhyan’s world. Already following me in all of these places?—You’ll receive one entry.
Check out the right-hand column on this page for easy blog sign-up and links to my social media accounts.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this fantastic journey!
Every time I attend an author event, this question is asked. I’ve answered it and I’ve heard other authors answer it. And, frankly, I think most of us have been doing some very creative fibbing.
Seriously. I’ve come to believe that anyone who answers this question in a straightforward, I-have-the-answer-you-are-looking-for way isn’t being entirely truthful. I rehearsed an answer to this question before my very first author event because I wanted to sound like I had this writer thing down and knew exactly what I was doing.
But I don’t.
And it isn’t just me, other more famous—and braver—authors have
come right out and admitted the ambiguity surrounding the idea-getting process.
Gaiman has a great post about the idea question on his site. Not only does
he discuss the origin of ideas, but he also stresses that ideas themselves are
just the first step in the marathon process that is writing. In other words,
you need much more than a great idea to be a great writer.
King participated in a writing Q&A where he says he can only tell where
his ideas come from about 50% of the time, and, even then, ideas need to be
nurtured and developed. He uses the analogy of a little piece of grit (the
idea) that eventually, with time, becomes a pearl.
In her book, Take Joy, Jane Yolen includes an essay titled, ‘The Mystery that is Writing’ where she addresses this “simple, yet infinitely tricky question.” She says that every story begins in two places—”the physical, touchable, knowable” (what readers and aspiring writers want to know when they ask the idea question) and “the hidden recesses of the heart” (the intangible characteristics unique to each writer). She describes the moment when the two places touch as being like when a mother hen taps on the outside of an egg and a baby chick responds with a tap on the inside. They tap and respond until they come together, the egg cracks open, and life emerges. Yolen says:
“It’s just that way a story begins, with a physical tapping on the outside: a line of a song that won’t leave your head, an article in the newspaper that strikes a chord, a fragment of conversation that loops endlessly…a repeating dream.
“And then, the answering emotion that taps within…
“The moment they come together, the story starts.”
Why does one idea move an individual to write, while others
don’t. Why does one particular forest path, history book, conversation, fairy
tale, gravestone, stranger, abandoned house, etc. get my writer’s mind churning,
while another doesn’t? Why do I wake up with a scene from a recurring dream in
my head some mornings, but not others?
I don’t know. I only know that I will continue to read and
watch and explore and live and be open to ideas and inspiration whenever they
decide to tap-tap-tap…
It’s a little over a month since Dragon’s Truth released. I want to sincerely thank my family, my friends, my readers, and my publisher for helping to successfully launch my first book into the world.
The initial two weeks were an absolute whirlwind–I spent a ridiculous amount of time on social media promoting the book, updating information, and responding to congratulations (rough, right?). We celebrated the launch on March 30 (my birthday!) in a couple of local venues, traveled to Los Angeles, and returned to the Hudson Valley just in time for the first ever Poughkeepsie Library District’s Kids Read Book Festival where I presented on the use of maps in the fantasy writing process, met dozens of dragon lovers, and gratefully sent signed copies of Dragon’s Truth home with readers.
As each subsequent week began, I thought the activity would become more manageable–but it really didn’t. And, as excited and grateful as I am to be fulfilling my dream of being a published author, I continue to hate to be away from writing. Storytelling is in my DNA. I have to create…
To survive, you must tell stories. – Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before
So, I need to do a better job of balancing my time between the business of being a published author and my need to live out my vocation as a writer (you have to actually write to be a writer…!) I’m devoting the next few weeks to getting myself back on track. Send mojo and perseverance my way, if you can. #amwriting
End Note: I’ve got two great local Dragon’s Truth events coming up! Check out my Events page for all the details. I’m also scheduling events for the 2019-2020 school year, so please reach out through the Contact Leanne tab if you are interested in scheduling an event for your group or class.
The countdown begins! Dragon’s Truth releases on Saturday, March 30 and I’m a bit overwhelmed by all the last-minute release details. Seriously–it is a little like having a baby…
While I’m dithering about, well–EVERYTHING–check out this fantastic review of Dragon’s Truth from Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub:
Fourteen-year-old Rhyannon dreams of dragons, wizards, and magic. She feels constrained by her ordinary life and overshadowed by her beautiful sister Elspeth. When Elspeth is kidnapped, Rhyan embarks on a journey to save her sister and face the evil threatening her world. She finds friendship, love, and the magic and power she’s been craving–but she also discovers a growing darkness within herself. Will she save Elspeth? Can she control her abilities? Will she choose the path of light? Or will she slip into the dragon’s darkness? (taken from Amazon)
Many thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this ARC, in exchange for my honest opinions.
I loved this book! It was obviously influenced by works such as The Hobbit, as well as Celtic myths, yet was completely its own. This took me on an adventure and was written so skillfully that I was immediately invested in the characters. And what…
No, this isn’t a promo for the much-anticipated premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones. Although–like many of you–I am counting down the days until April 14!
In only 17 days, my debut young adult fantasy novel, Dragon’s Truth, will enter the real world and Rhyan Kember’s story will finally be available to readers all over the planet. Adventure, love, friendship, dragons, magic–I’m so excited to share!
Thanks to all of you who have pre-ordered Dragon’s Truth. The value of pre-orders and their effect on a book’s success in today’s industry can’t be overstated. Publishers and booksellers make future decisions about a book based on pre-orders and pre-publication interest.They spend more money promoting books that launch with solid pre-sales. Better pre-order numbers can mean expanded access and distribution–the difference between success and obscurity.
Like all authors, I am very appreciative of pre-orders. So, I’m inviting anyone who orders (or has already ordered) Dragon’s Truth before the official launch date of March 30, 2019, to share a picture of their favorite dragon or dragon book on social media with the hashtag #dragonstruth and be entered to win a map of Rhyan’s world. Entries will be accepted through midnight on March 29.
Haven’t yet ordered? Love to read stories with dragons and adventure and want to be one of the first to enter Rhyan’s world? Here’s the info:
As those close to me know. I am a collector of tales. Not just physical books—although I do have an ever-growing personal library—but the stories themselves. As a child I was a voracious devourer of text. I read constantly! Forbidden to bring books to the table during meals, I sneakily read cereal boxes and mayonnaise jars. On too-cold or rainy Saturdays, I’d curl up in a quiet place with the dictionary, the Lives of the Saints, Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia, Bulfinch’s Mythology, or a torn old volume titled A Fairy Book, illustrated by Arthur Rackham.
One of the first stories I remember re-reading was the fairy tale of Frost in The Fairy Book. Rackham’s art was frightening and beautiful—and so was the story! Sure, Marfa, the good daughter, is sent home with furs and riches, but the other sisters are left to cruelly perish in the snow after being rude to Father Frost. I shivered, but I loved the juxtaposition of darkness and light. This was the beginning of my realization that, for a story to be truly great, it can’t be all rainbows and butterflies, but must also be shadows and monsters.
I’ve struggled to capture this idea in every piece of my own writing—the constant dance between darkness and light. And I’ll keep struggling, because that is where the truth lies in story.
My fascination with the Frost tale has continued. My original copy of The Fairy Book was lost in a house fire when I was a teenager, but I found an old copy at a yard sale a few years ago. And I’ve collected other versions—including the “original” published by Alexander Afanasyev, the Russian counterpart of the Brothers Grimm—I’ve also acquired illustrations, and even a 1964 Russian movie, Morozko, based on the story. Most recently, I finished reading The Winter Witch, the final installment of the amazing Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy. I highly recommend the series and am avoiding spoilers for those who’ve added it to their reading list—suffice it to say that Frost—Morozko—is a key player in the tale.
What is your favorite fairy tale? Did it make your heart pound? Give you nightmares? Make you laugh? Make you dream of adventure? Inspire you to write your own?