Friday, April 24, 2015

Celebrating the Active Pass Festival

The Active Pass Festival celebrated the beauty and inspiration of my island home. 

Opening ceremonies...
 Michael Dunn, master of ceremonies and head organizer

 an excited and supportive crowd

Mayne Island community choir

There was truly something for everyone...

-sailing tours

-walking tours

-studio tours

-craft shows

-art exhibits

-music concerts

-author readings

and more

Many times during this three-day festival I wished that I could split myself in half and in half and in half again. I figured that way I wouldn't have to miss anything.

The highlight for me were the author readings. These readings were offered on Saturday and Sunday. 

Saturday, I was entertained by two powerful female authors who were driven to tell their truth. 

The first, Adrienne Brown (memoirist), fell era to her artist parents' story. Ms. Brown took on this challenge even though she was not an artist herself. She read from The Life and Art of Harry and Jessie Webb

The second, Cathy Ford (poet), felt compelled to make the world remember the women who were killed during the Ecole Ploytechnique massacre. Ms. Ford took on this challenge even though, at the time of the shooting, she lived several provinces away. She read from her long poem Flowers We Will Never Know the Names Of.

Sunday, the day began with...

9 AM author reading by Pam Withers. Pam offered writing tips and talked about her author journey and the research she did in order to write her latest book -- Andreo's Race. This research included a trip to Bolivia.

10 AM author Amber Harvey. Amber spoke about the inspiration for her writing -- to entertain and leave a legacy for her grandchildren. She read from her soon-to-be published book, Magda's Mysterious Stranger

11 AM author Leanne Dyck 
I invited singer, songwriter and actor Georgia Johnson to perform with me.

Georgia performing on the main stage on the Ag Hall grounds

My recipe:  3 short stories
2 songs
musical accompaniment
audience involvement
Blend together and offer to a room full of supportive friends.
Result:  an amazing author high

Noon with Governor-General award winning children's writer, Kit Pearson. Ms. Pearson read from her newly released books The Whole Truth and And Nothing But the Truth. She told us that the books had started out as one but her publisher suggested that they become two. Ms. Pearson is a prolific, well-established (over 30 years) author. I'm looking forward to talking with her on May 17th...

(Please click on the image to embolden)

By this time, my brain was exploding with information and inspiration. So I took a small break. I returned to the library for...

Governor-General award winning poet and fiction author, Arleen Pare. Ms. Pare read from her newly released poetry collection Lake of Two Mountains. I enjoyed listening to Ms. Pare's poetry, but I am a huge fan of her fiction. Here is my review of Ms. Pare's last novel -- Leaving Now.


Mayne Island web site 

Mayne Island news blog

Writing contest...

Room's Poetry and Fiction Contest is Now open
Deadline:  July 15, 2015
contest guidelines

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Errors in published books

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Anna set the book down on the end table beside her reading chair. It was an engaging tale written by a skilled author. "But I found yet another typo," she told her husband, with a sigh.

Was Anna reading...
A) a self published novel
B) a novel released by a publishing house

A) There was a time most people would have guessed that the book was the work of an independent author. An author working alone, it was reasoned, can't produce a quality book. They don't know the importance of employing an editor nor how to find one. So, of course, their work will suffer. 

But independent authors such as Joanna Penn have kicked this reasoning to the curb. She shares the knowledge she's gained from her career as an independent author on her blog.

B) is the less popular answer. After all, it is reasoned, publishing houses employ an army of editors -- line editors, copy editors and proofreaders.


I recently read The Pillars of the Earth (Here's my review) It was a fine tale, written by a skilled author (Ken Follett) released by an established publishing house (Penguin). Yet I found more than one error. The most glaring, found on page 699, 'Philip found it hard to imagine Philip in that state.' It should have read:  Jack found it hard to imagine Philip in that state.

I've found similar mistakes in books written by Stephen King and...and... Well, it's a long list. In fact, I don't think I've read a mistake-free book. (If you have, please leave the title in the comment section of this blog.)

And why do these mistakes remain in traditionally published books?

In his book  Writing the Breakout Novel , Donald Maass offers an explanation

'It is not that editors cannot see these flaws, they can. Frequently, there is just not enough time available to pull a book from its "slot", send the author back to work and subsequently critique several additional drafts. In particular, I have noticed that second novels suffer from inattention. So do third novels in trilogies and novels in series that are on a one-a-year schedule.' (p. 22)
Anna picked up the book and continued to read.
"Oh, so, you're still enjoying the book?" Her husband asked.
"Well." Anna peeked up from the page. "If the book was riddled with mistakes and, or  if the story wasn't captivat..." Anna's attention was gobbled up by the book.
Let's give editors the last word, shall we... link


This survey results indicate that authors appreciate their editors. link

Why do published books have errors by Ally E Machate 

The Price of Typos by Virginia Heffernan

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book review: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Recently, a friend asked me to help her reduce the size of her manuscript. Cutting words while retaining the strength of the story is a skill I'm developing. But working the other way, adding words, that's challenging. My longest manuscript, to date, is 68,000 words. I was amazed and impressed by this total. However, it pales in comparison to the 973 page book The Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThis book could be used as a weapon. Learning how to build to size is one of the reasons why I read...

Book blurb...
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect -- a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame...and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.

Tips for writing a large book...

-Have several protagonists. (Here's some advice on working with a large cast of characters.)
-Follow each protagonist's story line. Then weave the characters together and untangle them, over and over again.
-Conduct extensive research and include it to lengthen and enrich your tale.
-Delve deeply into each scene. Bring them to life by incorporating sensory details.

Ellen is one of favourite characters. A young mother alone in the woods, she not only raises her fine son but also saves Tom the Builder's entire family. And when accused by the monks of being a sinner for sleeping with Tom, she tells Tom...

' "What about you? Don't these monks know that it takes two to fornicate?" ' (p. 278)
Thank you Mr. Follett for creating this strong, independent woman.

Life Lesson from The Pillars of the Earth... 
Just when everything has hit rock bottom hope springs eternal.

The Pillars of the Earth is a rich tapestry woven together by a skilled craftsman, but is not without its flaws. And in my next article, I will comment on these mistakes in literature.


Oprah loves the book

Next article:  Mistakes authors make in their books

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How the best writing teacher teaches

This article was inspired by Roz Morris' blog post:  Can writing be taught? And what do writing teachers teach?

I was an Early Childhood Educator (a.k.a. Day Care Worker, a.k.a Child Care Provider) for over fourteen years. I saw my role as a play facilitator. Children are driven to work. They seek to master today what they couldn't yesterday. That's how the infants in my care learnt to walk, to talk, to feed themselves. We, adults, call this important work play. 

I guided, encouraged and nurtured, but I didn't say, "Today, you'll learn to walk."

Instead, I followed their led. Close observation revealed what they were most interested in learning and what level of mastery they had. Once this information was obtained, I enhanced the environment to aid them in further development.

I didn't give each child a checklist on how-to walk properly. I didn't insist that they led with their right foot. The outcome was far more important to me than the process.

The children did learn some principals along the way. For example, they learnt in order to walk they had to use their feet, to eat they needed to use their hands.

The best writing teachers teach the same way. Led by my desire to improve my writing, they guide me to growth. They don't insist that I wait to edit my manuscript until I'm finished my first draft. They don't insist I write a character sketch, when that doesn't fit with how I work. 

Instead they nurture my environment by suggesting good books to read and helping me to equip my writing toolbox with, for example, a good understanding of grammar and punctuation. Once they have equipped me with this information, they watch as I progress from writing short stories to writing novels. They celebrate my triumphs and provide me with supportive feedback on how-to improve.


Becoming a Student of Your Own Creative Process by Dan Blank

Next Monday:  Review of the Active Pass festival on Mayne Island

My author journey...