Sunday, December 10, 2017

Book Review: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson (magical realism)

Happy Jolabokaflod (Yule Book Flood), everyone.

In this article by Sue Carter written for Quill and Quire, Eden Robinson reveals that she started working on a follow-up to Blood Sports but lost interest in that project and then in writing altogether. But writing Son of a Trickster rekindled her passion for the craft. And on November 7, 2017, at the Writers' Trust of Canada's black-tie gala, Eden Robinson was awarded $50, 000. So in Son of a Trickster, you read the work of an author at the height of her game sharing what she loves.

Publisher:  Knopf Canada
Published in 2017

Son of a Trickster is about the effect the residential school system has on three generations. The first generation turns their back on their culture. The second generation is angry and destructive. The third generation is lost but struggles to reclaim their culture.

Son of a Trickster is...


Jared's mom and her boyfriend 'took turns firing into the trunk of one of the target trees, which quivered until it creaked, cracked, then fell over.
"Tim-ber!" they yelled together.
"Normal people buy their trees from the Boy Scouts," Jared said, "Normal people don't hunt their Christmas tree down and kill them." ' (p. 66)


'In the sudden silence, the trees shushed in the breeze, a thousand small whispers.' (p. 237)

At times, dark

'His tiny, tightly permed maternal grandmother, Anita Moody, had never liked him... "Wee git," she'd say if his parents left them alone. "If you hurt her, I will kill you and bury you where no one can resurrect you. Get, you dirty dog's arse."
"I'm Jared," he'd said.
"Trickster," she'd said. "You still smell like lightning."' (p. 1)

The mystery of why Jared's grandmother thinks he is a trickster is solved on page 68 when Jared's mom tells him, ' "The nuns messed her up. They made her think everything Indian was evil. And that includes you and me." '

Thank you for this haunting book, Eden Robinson. So glad that it's the first in a trilogy. (I wonder will Jared grow older or will minor characters--such as his girlfriend and his parental grandmother--have their stories expanded?)

David Stouck writing for BC BookWorld concludes his review with:  '[W]hat this novel does for the non-Indigenous reader is to make totem poles, masks, and legends come alive. This remarkable novel accordingly takes Indigenous writing to a new level.' 


Click this link to listen to Shelagh Rogers (Host of The Next Chapter on CBC radio) interviewing Eden Robinson about Son of a Trickster.

'Abby on a walk' by ldyck

Next post:  Sunday, December 17
at approximately 5 PM PST
Supper Guest (short story)
I try my hand at writing middle grade fiction. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Dyslexia--what's your problem?

'kelp' by ldyck

When I hear that someone has lost a limb or lost their health to cancer I aim for empathy but sometimes fall short at sympathy. But those of us who are born with disabilities haven't lost anything. We'd rather have your understanding. 

You've probably been told that dyslexia is a reading problem that some kids face. You may think that once they learn how to read they overcome this disability. 

But reading difficulties can persist into adulthood. I'm an adult with dyslexia.

I have difficulties with...
(problem spelling challenging words as well as everyone, ordinary words. I had to ask my husband how to write challenge, for example.)
-understanding what I've read
-pronouncing words when reading aloud
-learning a foreign language
-reading quickly and still understanding what I've read
-"sounding out" words in my head
I think this list is long enough 

You may think:  Okay, so if dyslexia is a problem with reading I'll just communicate verbally. 

And this strategy could work for some, but not for me.

I can get lost in verbal communication. Instead of focusing on your words I try to read you. Are you losing patience with me? What's your body language saying? Are you stiff? Am I frustrating you? Are you shifting your weight from one foot to another? Am I making you uncomfortable? What are you think?

Definitions such as...

What is Dyslexia

are helpful introductions. But the challenges a person with dyslexia faces vary. Are all people with physical, visual, hearing, and... impairments the same? We are individuals facing unique challenges. You need to get to know us before you can figure out how to help.

'Abby content' by ldyck
Next post:
Sunday, December 10th
Book Review:  Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
A Scotiabank Giller finalist

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Interviewing Maxine Sylvester, children's picture book author

"A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN" and the name is "Ronaldo”

Ronaldo is a young flying reindeer cadet who someday dreams of becoming one of Santa's reindeer, just like his hero, Vixen. With the love and support of his friends and family and the great advice of his grandpa, he can face his greatest challenge yet, the Endurance Challenge. Ronaldo doesn't have a "traditional" reindeer name (like Dasher) so he faces some bullying from his peers. In the end, this little underdog gets to be a big-time hero. And despite all his slap-stick humour style clumsiness he gets to enjoy his success with pride.

1) How/why did you start to write?

I wanted a reason to illustrate; so I created a character; a young reindeer called Ronaldo and decided to write a short story about him going to flying school. Only thing was, once I started writing, I couldn’t stop! It turns out I had quite an imagination (courtesy of a lifetime of watching Disney movies). I now love writing as much as illustrating and enjoy flitting between the two. I feel my strengths are illustration and imagination, not grammar, so I use a professional editor on all my books. A good one is worth their weight in carrots.

2) How did you become an author?

In a very long-winded way! I loved art when I was younger but got sidetracked by travel. In my teens, I abandoned a career in art to work in Greece as a travel representative. I then sailed the ocean waves working in the gift shop and casino onboard cruise ships. I loved the exotic destinations but found my work uninspiring. I met my partner Mark onboard and after 10 years on ships, we decided to try our luck on land and accepted positions at a casino in Jericho, Palestine. It was a fascinating project but after two years the casino had to close due to political unrest.

Mark accepted a job in Moscow so we left the desert heat and relocated to minus 20 degree winters. By this time I had become very disillusioned with work. I never enjoyed any job I did and felt like I had missed my calling in life. I must have been a nightmare to work with as I never stopped moaning!

In Moscow, I took time out and went back to my roots – art. I enrolled in The College of Cartoon Art and was mentored by British cartoonist/caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. I then did an additional course in children’s book illustration. My passion for art was still there just like when I was a child and I was drawing round the clock and loving every minute.

Mark eventually decided to quit casinos and bought into a scuba diving business in Bali. This is where we are now and it’s where I wrote my first book.

3) What was your first published piece? Where was it published? How long ago?
I self-published the first book in the Ronaldo series, The Reindeer Flying Academy, three years ago on Amazon. I followed up with The Phantom Carrot Snatcher one year later. The third book in the series, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, was published last month.

Reviews have been amazing. I am so grateful to everyone that reviewed my books; the comments have been so positive. A few reviewers for The Reindeer Flying Academy mentioned they would have preferred colour illustrations, so I took the advice onboard (important to listen to your readers!) and am now adding the final touches to the colour version. I am looking at publishing a colour edition of The Reindeer Flying Academy in November, ready for Christmas. I think children are going to love the colour illustrations. I had such fun bringing the characters to life. Thank you, reviewers, for your suggestions!

You can check out the first chapter of The Reindeer Flying Academy (colour edition) on the Ronaldo website.

4) Reflect on your writing process
I usually have an idea in my head and write notes each day as if I don’t write them down I forget. I tend to think of funny incidents that have happened to me or my friends over the years and weave them into the story.  I then sit at my computer and write. I do a very rough draft. I then find that once I get into writing more ideas keep flooding into my head. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because my head is buzzing with ideas. I then fine tune the manuscript until I am happy with it. The last book, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, took about one month. I then forward the book to my editor and wait for her comments. All three books have taken three edits.

I remember my first book, my editor pointed out that there were no strong female characters in the story, something publishers are very hot on at the moment. I am not a very girly female; I love football and rock music, so I naturally put male characters into the story. After careful thought, I changed Wing Commander Blitsen to a female and it totally changed the dynamic of the book. Now I can’t imagine her any other way.

5) What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing?

My last job was as a Pilates instructor and it’s one of the best things I ever did. I’ve had back problems over the years and Pilates strengthens the muscles that support the spine. It’s brilliant! The body isn’t designed to spend long periods sitting at a computer, so I practice Pilates three times a week. I wouldn’t be able to write and illustrate without it. So, in answer to your question, Pilates is an asset to my writing.

I also did a lot of jobs over the years which I didn’t enjoy, working if shops, casinos, offices, etc. I don’t think I would appreciate what I do now as much as I do if I hadn’t have done those jobs. I really love being creative and am so grateful to have found a career that brings me such joy.

6) What inspires you?

Inspiring people! I love biographies about people I admire. I recently read a book about Walt Disney. He had so many setbacks but just kept going. I also love that he wasn’t perfect and made mistakes. He was a creative genius and had an incredible belief in himself. Disneyland is my favourite place on earth and it came from his vision.

I also love Dolly Parton’s attitude towards life. She’s renowned for being a very smart businesswoman, but her humour always shines through and she never forgets where she came from.

If ever I feel down, I read Dr Wayne Dyer. He had a difficult childhood but never doubted his books would be published by the right people and at the perfect time. I find his words caring and inspirational. I think he’s an essential read for any self-published author.

7) Please share one of your successful author platform building techniques

I am very fortunate with social networking as my partner, Mark knows way more about it than me! He has helped me so much over the last three years. As a self-published author, it is essential to get reviews. Mark found Twitter a very useful platform for finding people kind enough to review my books. He looks for ‘book bloggers’ and ‘book reviewers’, reads their reviews, checks if they have reviewed children’s books before or if they have children themselves, and then decides whether to request a review or not. That is the short version he said.

Maxine Sylvester was born in London, England. She grew up with a passion for Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear. She also loved anything Disney and enjoyed drawing the characters.
Maxine's love of 'fun' art grew and she had the privilege of being mentored by cartoonist and caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. She completed further studies in children's book illustration with talented artist and illustrator, Jan Nesbitt.
Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, the third in the Ronaldo series, was released 29th Sept 2017. She is now working on a colour version of The Reindeer Flying Academy in time for Christmas


Twitter:      @flyingronaldo

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Rainbow Ice Cream a true story by Leanne Dyck

(I was always a wanderer)

My mom let me go. I'm not sure I would have had I been the mother. I was so young crossing that road--a major highway, semis sped down. But Mom let me go knowing it was a child's rite of passage. I never remember her taking me. I do remember her calling, "Be careful crossing the road."

I headed to a white building with a sign that read:  'Hav-A-Keen Lunch'. Keen was like cool, back then. The business--a mom and pop truck stop--was shared by the Havards and the Keens, hence the name.

A bell rang when the screen door slammed shut behind me.

Sometimes she popped out of the back, where she lived. Sometimes she was wiping the counter. She always greeted me with a smile.

"Hi, Mrs. Havakeen."

Maybe she tried to correct me. Maybe she said, "Just call me Mrs. Keen." Maybe she added a dear to show me she wasn't mad. I don't remember. I do remember her asking, "What'll you have?"

I dumped a handful of coins on the counter--pennies, dimes, nickels, and a quarter. "What will this buy?"

"A chocolate bar, pop, an ice cream cone..."

"A rainbow ice cream cone, please," I said spring, summer, fall--never winter, the road was too slippery.

Mrs. Keen dipped the spoon in a bucket of water and then into the pail. A large box with a child holding a triple scoop cone hung on the wall. She pulled a cone from the box, filled it with ice cream and handed it to me.

Rainbow ice cream:  swirls of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and mint. Why choose one favour when you can have them all? Rainbow. It was like eating a better tomorrow.

I always made it home safe and sound. Sometimes with rainbow ice cream dripping down my arm--melting under the hot sun.

Did Mrs. Keen know how important she was to me? Did she know how special she made me feel? I like to think she did.

This short story was inspired by something my husband found. Here's what my husband found:  link

Next post:  Published on Sunday, November 26th at approximately 5 PM
Interview with children's picture book author Maxine Sylvester 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Guest Post: A. J. Willetts (my dad) on Remembrance Day

After my dad's death (on December 11, 1999), I searched for his writing. I found one speech and carefully tucked it away in a journal. Just this week, I was hunting for something else and found my dad's words--and I knew I had to share them with you. He delivered this speech on November 11, 1996, to veterans, members of the legion and guests.

My dad wrote...

(my dad giving a speech--circa the 1980s)

The closing words of every legion meeting.

At the going down of the sun
And in the morning we will
Remember them.

We will remember them--for they were our schoolmates. They were the kids we played with--the people we worked with.

After fifty years we remember them and the debt we owe.

We remember not only those who gave their lives but those who came home broken, wounded, scarred--both on the inside and the outside.

We remember our comrades and the price they paid for us and for Canada--

And we remember the thousands and thousands of others who paid--

The mothers and babies
The little kids
The young people
Mothers and fathers
And the old people
the grandparents

All those who died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They paid--they paid the price for us. They bought our freedom.

Don't think about the horrible price they paid--it's too awful, too terrible.

But remember them we must--and in our remembering let our hate and revulsion for war grow stronger and stronger until we join with all the people of the world to end this terrible curse of war--until that great day dawns may we ever pray

Lord God of Hosts
Be with us yet
Lest we Forget, Lest we Forget

(the radar base in northern Newfoundland where my dad served during WWII)


Please click this link...

Remembering Them on Remembrance Day

to read my Remembrance Day inspired short story as well as more of my dad's writing.

Next post:  Sunday, November 19 at 5 PM PT
Rainbow Ice cream (short story)
Think back to your childhood. Where did you first go all by yourself? What did you spend your allowance on? How did it make you feel? Reminisce along with me.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Book Review: Pride (non-fiction middle grade) by Robin Stevenson

Published by Orca Book Publishers
Published in 2016

Thanks to its colourful book cover design and the skilled author Pride:  Celebrating Diversity & Community sings out loudly about a world-wide community of people who are proud of their history and their future. 

History such as...

When police continued to harass and arrest frequenters of one of New York's popular gay bars--Stonewall--the gay community rose up in protest. The Stonewall Riot occurred on the evening of June 28, 1969. And Robin Stevenson writes:  'Although it wasn't called Pride Day, most people agree that the first Pride parade was held a year after the Stonewall Riots, on June 28, 1970.'

To personalize the history, Robin Stevenson draws on personal insights from those in the LGBTQ community--including her own. 

She points out that:  'For Pride to truly represent all LGBTQ people, Pride events need to take a stand against not just homophobia and heterosexism but against all forms of oppression.'

This is a powerful book that concludes with a call to arms. Robin Stevenson wants us (supports of Pride) to be heard and she offers ways and means to make this happen.

I seldom review non-fiction books, but I'm so glad I made an exception this time. Though written for children, I firmly believe that everyone would benefit from reading Pride.


My interview with the author of Pride:  Robin Stevenson

You may also enjoy reading...

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

Next Post:  Sunday, November 12
at approximately 5 PM PT

(my dad giving a speech--circa the 1980s)

Go back in time with me to 1996 and listen (well, actually you'll be reading his words) as my dad (AJ Willetts) gives a Remembrance Day speech.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book review: The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

Question:  What scares you more the evil you discover in those you label as other or your dark side?

Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
Published in 2017

Author:  After listening to Andrew Payne contribute to a panel discussion, I quickly added his name to my list of must-read authors.

Horror:  One of the brutalist scenes is in the opening chapters--the killing of protagonist Dr. Lily Dominick's mother.

Monster:  To create his monster, Payne borrows from three pioneers of the horror genre--Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), Bram Stoker (Dracula), Robert Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).
'A two-hundred-year-old man who believes he personally inspired Frankenstein, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula.' (p. 59)
' "Three novels, each dramatizing an antagonist bearing a unique mental deformity. The Creature:  a being made of dead parts, a soul tortured by solitude. Hyde:  the psychotic with dissociative identity disorder, one half the responsible physician, the other an escaped patient beyond control. And Dracula, a projection of insatiable lust darkened by sexual anxiety.' (p. 159-160)
Plot:  Following Steven King's formula, Payne introduces us to his protagonist Dr. Lily Dominick and her seemingly ordinary life. Charmed, we follow her down the rabbit hole to the stuff of horror.

Favourite quote:  'Writers are a strange breed. Magpies, scavengers. So fearful of the world they would prefer to describe it than live in it, yet brave to the point of idiocy when in pursuit of inspiration. The real ones will slip their heads into the noose and pull the lever themselves if they think a hanging would make a good tale.' (p. 155)


If you enjoy reading The Only Child by Andrew Pyper, I know you'll enjoy reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova--I did.

Next post:  

Book Review
Sunday, November 5 at approximately 5 PM PT

Sunday, October 22, 2017

short story: Awakening by Leanne Dyck (2 of 2)

Did you miss part one? Do you want to re-read it? Please click this link.

"Ocean cruise" by LDyck

Awakening (part 2)

The doorbell rang. A man in blue coveralls stood on my porch. "Excuse me for disturbing you." His embroidered name tag read Dan Conner. "But I think you accidentally threw this out." Dan held up my monster.

"I don't want that," I told him.

That was the last time I thought about my novel, until, years later, when I flipping through the pages of Quill and Quire:  Canada's magazine for book news and reviews, and noticed, a glowing review for a new mystery--Murder Island by Dan Conner. "This intriguing mystery will soon be a movie starring--"

I'd read enough, I threw the magazine across the room...


I woke with a start. It was all a daydream. There was no Dan Conner. I still had my manuscript. I raced outside to the recycling bin to reclaim it.

Finally, I was able to look at my manuscript with fresh eyes. What did they like about my manuscript? Anything? I found positive comments and read those over slowly. All agreed that the beginning was captivating and the dialogue was strong. So they didn't think the whole thing was garbage, they just thought it required revision.

Ann wanted me to work on the middle. I searched the Internet and found an article on building suspense--like ending each chapter with a cliffhanger--and another article on "red herrings"--information designed to mislead the reader. John wanted me to work on my main character. I searched my bookshelves and learned that the main character needs to solve her own problems. If she doesn't, it's cheating. And in Suzanna's feedback, she'd circled a sentence in a tone that she suggested I maintain. I typed in 16 point text, printed the page and posted it by my computer. That way it would be easy to refer to as I worked on revisions. My first readers had invested a lot to time and effort in helping me improve my manuscript, I emailed them my thanks.

Sure, I have a lot of work to do on my novel. But, instead of letting it overwhelm me, I'm focusing on how much I will learn. That's the thing about writing there's always something to learn. That's why I love my craft.

"Heading home" photo by LDyck

This concludes my short story Awakening. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Next week... Ah, next week. Each October I like to read a horror novel to get me in the mood for Halloween. This year I found The Only Child by Andrew Pyper. Next week it will be my pleasure to share my book review with you.

"Abby"  photo by LDyck

Next post:  Book review:  The Only Child by Andrew Pyper
Sunday, October 29th at approximately 5 PM

Sunday, October 15, 2017

short story: Awakening by Leanne Dyck (1 of 2)

photo by LDyck

Short stories are a breeze to write. I can pop one of those off in an afternoon. But everyone knows real writers write novels.

One Saturday morning, I woke very early full of inspiration. Thankfully, I keep a notebook by my bed. I couldn't write fast enough. I thought it was just another short story, but it didn't take me long to realize that the plot was too detailed. I was writing a novel.

Day after day after day, I wrote before I went to bed and the minute I woke. I thought about the story when I was shopping, at work and in the shower. I focused on the same characters, the same plot, the same story question. My life wasn't mine, I was living to write that story. It was exhausting.

I don't know how but somehow I finished Murder Island--a murder mystery set on the rural island where I have a vacation home. My writing group congratulated me and recommended that I get at least three first readers.

"First readers are the first to read and give feedback on your novel," they explained.

I selected John, Ann, and Suzanna. John is in my writing group. He has had a short story published in a literary journal and even self-published a novel. Ann, I know from work. Every lunchtime her nose is in a book--usually a mystery. Suzanna and I have been friends since university. She teaches middle school Language Arts.

They all gave me their feedback. My manuscript came back riddled with it,

Ann's comments stopped in the middle of the manuscript. She explained that she hadn't read to the end because of what she called "the saggy middle".

"It was too predictable. All the clues pointed to the same person."

I wonder if John read my novel backward. He complained about the weak ending. He didn't like the fact that my main character--Julianna, an amateur detective--was unable to solve the case and hired a detective, Nick. Nick solves the case but isn't that what detectives do? Nick is a professional, doesn't it make sense he'd have more resources?

Suzanna used red ink to circle what looks like every second word. She said the narration had an inconsistent tone--ranging from informal to formal.

I showed up to writers' group with tread marks across my forehead. "What do I do first? How do I solve these problems? I can't re-write the whole thing, that would take days. I thought it would be fun to write a novel, but it's just a ton of work. And how do I know that it's not just a waste of time?"

My writing group advised me to work on something else for a while and come back to my novel when I was feeling stronger.

Put it away for a while--yeah, sure. The thing screamed at me from the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. So, I pulled it out every couple of weeks and poured myself some wine. The wine didn't help. The feedback still stung. I stuffed the thing back into the drawer. Into the drawer, out of the drawer--this waltz continued for four months until I decided to look at it one last time. Nothing had changed I still had no idea how to fix my glaring errors.

I frowned at my collection of writing books.

"What a waste of money," I mumbled.

I thought of all the writing workshops I'd attended.

"What a joke. I'm not now and never will be a writer. I'm a fraud."

photo by LDyck

I put the wordy monster in the recycling bin and carried it to the curb. That felt so good that I went back inside and deleted all the computer files until not a scrap of my novel was left.

"Time for a new hobby." I picked up a pair of knitting needles and coiled yarn into stitches. I didn't know what I was knitting and didn't care. I turned on some relaxing music and poured myself a glass of wine. The chair was so comfortable...


Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever abandoned a writing project? Have you ever abandoned the writing life? For how long? Did you ever return--to writing, to a project? How?

the beautiful Abby sporting her new collar
photo by LDyck

Next post...

Does the protagonist remain a knitter? Are her words lost forever? Or...?
Find out next Sunday (October 22)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

After 7 years, why keep writing?

Seven years ago on October 10, high from finding a publisher, I decided to document my rising success as an author by starting this blog.

Ever since I've been giving it all I have. I've written 36 picture books, 5 short story collections, and one novel for young adults. I'm very proud of this work. It's the best of me.

And yet...

And yet, none of this work has found a publisher. And I still haven't earned the success I seek. I still haven't broken into the publishing industry.

Why keep trying?

At times, I have to admit, this has been a hard question to answer. At my lowest, I think maybe I can write but that I'm just not cut out to be a writer. Maybe I should just hide all my pens and do something else.

Why I keep writing?

Writing fulfills me. Stories excite me. I still have something to say. I still have a lot to learn.

I'm so close I can taste it. I know I am because publishers are making comments like...
'Your writing is immersive and inspirational.'
'we applaud you for taking what you have learned form your struggles and applying it to an art form that you are clearly passionate about'
 'Our...editors were highly interested in these stories, and the strong characterization work and suprising humour in them.'
And you. Week after week, you keep logging on to read my writing. For this, I only have two words--Thank You!

And I promise I'll keep writing until my dream becomes reality.

Looking back...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Tips on Writing Blog Posts

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What did I learn this year?

Seeking positivity...

And this blog has a new mascot...

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Canadian Literary Prizes: write and read

Update:  Each year I wait with eager anticipation for CBC TV to air the Scotiabank Giller gala. I love to listen to authors discuss writing. This year I heard...

'[W]hen I sit down to write I can do anything. It's incredibly empowering.' -Michelle Winter (I Am A Truck)

'[T]o be part of an imaginary world for a time is very enlivening.'
-Michael Redhill (Bellevue Square)

'I think you have to daydream a lot when you are a writer. I think that's one of the job descriptions.' 
-Ed O'Loughlin (Minds of Winter)

"a spark of inspiration" 

photo by LDyck


Sharpen that pencil, click that pen, punch those keys, there's still time to enter these short story contests...

Freefall:  Annual Prose & Poetry Contest
Deadline:  December 31, 2017

PRISM International:  Jacob Zilber Prize
Deadline:  January 15, 2018

The Mayne Island library
One of the places you might be able to get one of these books
photo by LDyck


Reading prize-winning novels and short story collections is an excellent way to study the writing craft.

Governor General's Literary Award


Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize
'For over 20 years the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize has recognized the best Canadian novel or short story collection.' --from the website

Brother by David Chariandy
McClelland & Stewart
'supremely moving and exquisitley crafted portrait of [Scarborough, Ontario]' -Mark Medley

Watch the video featuring the finalists. Here's the link

Scotiabank Giller Prize 

 Scotiabank Giller

'In a statement, the jury categorized 2017 as "a year of outliers, of books that were eccentric, challenging or thrilling strange, books that took us to amusing or disturbing places. In fact, you could say that the exceptional was one of 2017's trends. It gave the impression of a world in transition:  searching inward as much as outward, wary but engaged." ' -Sue Carter


Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
Doubleday Canada

November 20
Winner announced at a gala--aired on CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Next post:  Year 7:  Why keep writing?
A post that recaps the 7th year anniversary of this blog. Oh, yes, and tells you where I'm at as a writer.
Published on Sunday, October 8th (at approximately 5 PM)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Story Questions

Which would you rather carry--a notebook or a paperback? Do you want to be told a story or tell it?

Where do your stories come from? Do you write in response to other authors or do you dance to your own inspiration?

Why do you write--to connect, inform, entertain or...

How do you choose what story to write? Do you consider where your words will do the most good? Do you consider if the story is yours to tell? Do you share your family's stories with courage? What about cultural appropriation? Does every story that comes into your head deserve to be written? Do leave some stories for other authors to write? Or do you think distance gives you perceptive? Do you allow someone else's opinion to censor your creativity? Do you let the story choose you?

Some authors say they write the same story repeatedly throughout their career--only changing plot and character? Are they stuck or obsessed or driven or...?

Next post:  Canadian Literary Prizes
Autumn is the season for literary awards.
One of the cool things I did for this post is to make my own short list from the newly announced Scotiabank Gillar long list. Log on to see if you agree with my selections.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Research: no wasted words

photo by LDyck

To date, I've written 35 picture books for children (5 for babies 0 to 24 months, 23 for children 3 to 7 years of age, 7 for children 6 to 9 years of age), 4 short story collections for adults, and a novel for young adults. I'm currently looking for the right publisher for these projects.

My autumn writing projects include a short story collection and a middle grade novel.

As you can see, I've mainly been working on short projects. But I have written--and will continue to write--longer pieces.

When working on longer pieces, I begin by developing a plot outline. However, this plot is only meant as a guide. I allow inspiration to direct my writing. Of course, it's very difficult to plan for inspiration. So this means I may craft scenes and conduct research that won't be used for the novel.

Wasted words?


Scenes may become short stories. Research may become articles. The short stories may be woven into collections. The articles can be published on this blog to help promote the novel. Or I may choose to publish these short pieces in magazines.

Short stories may be submitted to these Canadian magazines...

The Fiddlehead



PRISM international

Prairie Fire

The New Quarterly

Malahat Review



Antigonish Review

You may be able to use your research to write an article for Writer's Digest

In the past, I've developed presentations from the research I've conducted. For example, my first novel--Maynely A Mystery--required me to conduct research on the history of Mayne Island. To promote sales, I gave author readings. One of the on-island short talks I presented was called Fact or Fiction. I read short passages from my book and asked my audience, "Is this passage based on history or inspired by imagination?"  I was very pleased with how interested the participants were and how fun the talk turned out to be.

Never think of writing as being a waste. Every word you write brings you closer to the story you are driven to write.

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Published on Sunday, September 24 (at approximately 5 PM)
A meditation on finding story from this writer's mind.