Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016-on-this-blog list

In many ways, 2016 was a unique year. You couldn't call this year 'Ann' or 'Mary'. You'd have to call it 'Pathan' or 'Sarren'. 

Snow on Mayne Island? Honestly? Snow on Mayne Island that lasts more than a couple of days? Really? But it sure does did  look pretty...

(LDyck 2017)

Okay, back on topic. 2016-on-this-blog list.

What did you like about this blog in 2016?

The 6 most popular posts...

1. (205 page views) Book review:  Shimmer by Paula Weston

2. (200 page views) Interview with Maggie de Vries
on being a multi-genre author

3. (174 page views) short story: Sarren's Curse:  part 1

4. (159 page views) workshop review:  Maggie de Vries' workshop

5. (149 page views) book review:  Burn by Paula Weston

6. (127 page views) article:  It's All Good
(127 page views) short story:  Lasting Love

What did I accomplish in 2016?

My skill level and confidence increased thanks to the input of my first readers and the information I gathered at workshops given by 

Maggie de Vries 


Jami Macarty

and from books such as Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

For example, from Writing Picture Books, I learned to write short stories from the child's perceptive, that captures the reader's attention from the first paragraph.

My author journey is not always smooth. I get my fair share of rejection letters. Reading books such as Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert helped me maintain a positive attitude.
If destiny didn't want me to be a writer, I figure then it shouldn't have made me one. But it did make me one, and I've decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can--because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice... My ultimate to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness. -Elizabeth Gilbert

But the star of my writing year was Bim...

Dear Reader,

Thank you for spending this year with me. Wishing you a cozy holiday. Looking forward to visiting with you in 2017.

Next post

Published on Sunday, January 1st (New Year's day) at approximately 5 PM PST
2017 a year of possibilities
A post that answers the question:  What one essential ingredient do make next year what could and should be?

Picture Books in Canada

The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers (a program on Canada's public radio station) makes 15 great book recommendations for young readers--including picture books.

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas with Family (3 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

Based in the UK, Jolabokaflod Book Campaign seeks to support an Icelandic tradition--giving books on Christmas eve.

If you want to support this tradition, why not give the anthology In the Moment:  Real Life Stories of Hope & Inspiration. It's a collection of 27 stories by authors from Canada, the United States, Spain, China, Oman, and Australia. I'm proud that Christmas with Family was included in this fine book. Proceeds donated to Children's Wish. To order In the Moment, please email Gary Doi (

('it snowed again' LDyck Dec 13, 2016)

Summarizing the story so far:  Lead by my desire to celebrate Christmas with family, my husband has ignored the weatherman and BC Ferries' warnings and we are now on Salt Spring Island but... 


Christmas with Family (3 of 3)

“You see we made it,” I said, trying to be cheerful.

Byron fixed me with steel eyes. “The ferry was only half the battle. The other half is that steep hill.” He pointed with his chin.
“But…but you said we would try.”

“Yes, Leanne. I did.” By the way he said my name I knew he'd lost his Christmas cheer.

“You’re a good driver. I have faith in you.”

Byron did try. He cranked his neck to peer out the side window and turned the steering wheel. We started to slide. He cranked his neck the other way to peer out that window. We began to fishtail, he turned the steering wheel and kept us on the road, barely. Then he started the whole neck thing again. He looked like he was watching a tennis match. Over and over again, he tried, but the farthest he got was halfway up the hill.

I closed my eyes and visualized my three brothers pushing us up that hill. “This time you'll make it,” I heard them promise. But they weren't there; Bryon and I were alone. I forced back tears.

Byron yanked the gear shift into park and glared at me. “You got any more brilliant ideas?” He asked after driving backwards over that three-mile steep, curving hill. “We could be safe and warm in our apartment. But no you had to drag us all the way out here. And now… And now… It’s pitch black. We’re stuck in a blizzard. And we don’t know anyone who can help us. Happy?”

No, I wasn't happy. I'd gotten us into this mess; I had to get us out. I typed Susan's number into my cellphone.

“I’d go and get you myself but my Toyota doesn’t like snow. I’m afraid I’d only end up stranded too. Try a tow truck or a taxi?” She gave me the numbers. The tow truck driver’s voice mail message wished me a Merry Christmas. The taxi driver laughed in my ear. Byron was beginning to swear which I had to admit was justified.
Desperate, I phoned Susan again.

“Hitchhike,” she said.


“Ask for a ride. Someone will help you.”

By the tone of her voice, I knew she was serious. She wanted me to ask a complete stranger for help. Clearly, she hadn’t watched those horror movies. I had; I knew what would happen if I followed her advice—Byron and I would end up dead or worse.

What’s that noise? I looked over at Byron. Were his teeth chattering?

I have to do something. Now. But what? We’re a steep hill away from Susan, a hotel, a restaurant—almost everything. I looked across the street. Everything but that grocery store.

Three large trucks with snow tires were parked in front of the store.
“I’ll be right back.” I unclipped my seat belt.

“Wait. Where are you going?”

“To the grocery store.” I opened the door. “I’m going to ask for a ride.”

“What? You can’t. We don’t know any—

I closed the door on the rest of his sentence.

Large sleigh bells jingled as I opened and closed the door. The sound made me think of Christmas angels. I said a silent prayer, “Please, this has to work.”

I surveyed the store—not for groceries—for an angel. A few aisles away a woman was talking with a teenager who I thought must be her daughter. “Please, can you help? My cousin is expecting me for Christmas but my car won’t climb the hill.”

“Of course,” she said, “I'd be happy to.”

Just like that, our problem was solved. She made room in her truck for our luggage, my husband and me. She drove us right to my cousin’s door. There we had a very merry Christmas.

Next post:  Goodbye 2016
Published on Christmas Day (or a few days before) at approximately 5 PM PST this post is about you and me.
You:  what posts did you like the best?
Me:  what did I do ('writerly-wise') in 2016?
Comments, reflections, and... on the year that was.

Picture Books in Canada

Kids Can Press
'the largest Canadian-owned children's publisher'
Picture books 

Submission guidelines


Sharing my author journey...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas with Family (2 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

Christmas is not always merry. If you are--for whatever reason--separated from loved ones, it can be depressing and lonely. But you don't have to be a victim of these feelings. You can save your Christmas. This is a true story of how I--with help--saved mine.

Link to Christmas with Family (1 of 3)

(Snow 12/09/16)

Christmas with Family (2 of 3)

Weeks later, I was at the breakfast table listening to the radio.

“We’re guaranteed to have a white Christmas this year,” the weatherman predicted.

“What does he know? It's all guesswork.”

Byron waved his hand to silence me.

“Tons of snow will make traveling hazardous,” the weatherman concluded.

“I think we should postpone our trip to Salt Spring. Our sports car isn’t equipped for driving up snow-covered hills. We can always visit Susan later when the weather’s better,” Byron said.

“No, we have to…” My voice choked. “It’s Christmas. We need to be with family.”

He patted my hand. “We’ll try.”

Days before it was necessary, I made reservations with the ferry that would take us from the Mainland to Salt Spring. Time trickled by until finally, the day came.

I eased out of bed, crept over to the window, breathed out slowly, crossed my fingers and pushed back the curtains. A light dusting of snow covered the ground. Large, fluffy snowflakes continued to fall. It looks so pretty, just like C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s... No! We have to...

Byron rolled over and faced me. “How's it look?”

I pulled the curtains together. “Fine. Just fine.”

He crawled out of bed and pushed back the curtains. “I think we should phone Susan and cancel.”

“No, we can’t. It’s Christmas. It’ll ease up. I know it will.”

He snorted. “So now you're a weather forecaster?”

“Please, we have to try.”

Grumbling, Byron loaded our luggage into our car and drove us to the ferry.

A short line of cars lead to the ticket booth. The BC Ferry worker slid back the window. “Are you sure you—

“Yes, we're sure.” We can't be alone. It's Christmas. We need to be with family.

Another BC Ferry worker directed us onto the ferry, but not before saying, “Are you sure you—

I cut him off too.

We boarded the ferry. A routine two-hour trip ended up taking eight hours as we were diverted and re-diverted. But eventually, we docked at Salt Spring Island.

Next post:  (Could be a few days earlier--depending on weather conditions) Sunday, December 18th around 5 PM PST
The conclusion of Christmas with Family

Picture Books in Canada

Tundra Books

About Tundra Books including how to submit your picture book manuscript.

Sharing my author journey...

Lessons from my largest writing project to-date:  a novel for young adult readers...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas with Family (1 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

I'm proud to write that this short story is included in the anthology In the Moment. To order copies, please email:  Gary Doi ( Book proceeds donated to Children's Wish. 

(My husband and me at the time of the story--
before we moved to Mayne Island
photo taken by a friend)

Christmas with Family (1 of 3) 

November wasn't even over and already the rush had begun. My neighbourhood mall was packed. Everyone had a shopping bag. Some carried two. I sped past shop after shop escorted by Christmas tunes. Deck the halls with lots of presents. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Now's the time to be shopping. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.. The music was supposed to make me happy, but all I felt was blue.
I pictured my extended family's Christmas Eve celebration. Year after year, we gathered to talk, laugh, exchange gifts and enjoy delicious food. This year, they would—I wouldn't, not any longer. My husband and I had moved from Manitoba three provinces away to British Columbia.
I entered the food court, searched and found my husband, Byron, sitting at a table, flipping through a magazine. “I'm sorry I'm late,” I said. Byron doesn't like to wait.
He shrugged off my apology.
The thought of spending Christmas here in BC—the two of us alone in our lonely apartment—made me want to cry.
“I want us to go home for Christmas,” I said trying to steady my voice.
“We are home,” he replied.
“No, I mean—”
“Manitoba? Freezing cold. Snow. No, thanks.”
But we have to be with family for Christmas. That thought haunted me all the way back to our apartment. I know, I'll phone my cousin Susan. After all she's alone too.
“Why don't you and Byron come and have Christmas here on Salt Spring?” Susan suggested.
I was so happy I wanted to sing, dance, but all I did was thank my cousin for saving my Christmas.  

Next post: Monday, December 19th
The continuation of Christmas with Family
Of course you know it won't be that easy. Stay tuned for the complications.

Picture Books in Canada

Pjama Press

Sharing my author journey...

Wishing you an information-rich, fun-packed retreat. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book review: Held by Edeet Ravel (YA thriller)

Are you interested in learning how to develop a three-dimensional antagonist? 

I'd highly recommend reading Held by Edeet Ravel. 

A hostage-taker imprisons an American teenage girl (Chloe) in a warehouse in an unspecified country. We never learn his name but we know who he is -- his background, his motives, his humanity.

The focus is kept solely on the hostage (Chloe) and the hostage-taker but Held in no way reads like a minimalist story. Short news reports, interviews with and about Chloe's family and friends, and twitter feeds by Chloe's best friend are sandwiched between the chapters and add depth to the story. Held is a unique tale, cleverly told.

Published by Annick Press
Publishing date:  2011
author website

Book blurb:  Seventeen-year-old Chloe's summer vacation in Greece comes to an abrupt end when she is suddenly blindfolded and whisked away to an unidentified location. Waking up from a drug-induced sleep, she is seized by terror and imagines the worst.
After several days of utter despair, Chloe is relieved when her hostage-taker appears. His revelation that she is being held ransom for a prisoner exchange, however, does little to allay her fears.
Haunted by frightening dreams, and with only her thoughts to keep her company, Chloe fights to remain calm. Will her captor ever let her go? And will she be the same person once she's free?


Held by Edeet Ravel published by Annick Press 

Quill and Quire recommends Held as 'an excellent fodder for discussion and debate among older teens.'

Picture Books in Canada

'Second Story Press was co-founded in 1988 by Margie Wolfe and three other women dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers...[The] list spans adult fiction and nonfiction, children's fiction, nonfiction and picture books, and YA fiction and nonfiction
 Second Story Press Submission Guidelines:  Please be advised that Second Story Press focuses on Canadian authors

Sharing my author journey...

The website said:  We don't consider unsolicited queries or manuscripts.
But what does that really mean?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Submitting Manuscripts by Jami Macarty

Jami Macarty's workshop Get It Out:  A Writer's Guide to the Submissions of Literary Works for Publication was information-rich and generated more questions for me. So I asked Jami to answer them on this blog and she kindly accepted my invitation. 

How many submissions should you send to a publisher per month?

Jami Macarty: Every writer has her own rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals; because of that, there’s no one submission prescription or quota. What I suggest is that a writer figure out if her goal is to publish her work or not. If it is, then I encourage her to take seriously and commit herself to this aspect of her writing life. That’s step one. The second is to set up a submission schedule that suits her writing rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals. The writer might ask herself: what’s realistic and doable? For some writers, what’s realistic may be to submit once per month; for others, it may be one submission per week. The pace and mode of submissions should flow from, rather than dictate, the work. This approach encourages reflexive engagement and a deepening relationship with writing practices, processes, products, and priorities. Love alliteration!

The rule of thumb is that you should send submissions to more than one publisher. Yet some publishers request that you tell them if you are sending simultaneous submissions. Do you think those publishers view simultaneous submissions in a negative light?

Jami Macarty: First, let me speak to the notion that there’s a “rule of thumb” to simultaneously submit your work. The fact is, some publishers accept simultaneous submissions and some do not. It is the responsibility of the writer to understand the difference and to follow the guidelines of each publisher to the letter. Publishers work hard to bring our art to eyes and ears. They deserve respect for simple requests. If a publisher requests that a writer say whether or not the submission is simultaneously submitted, then give that information to the publisher. The fact that publishers make the space for simultaneous submissions is an indication that they are on the side of the writer. Let writers also be on the side of publishers by providing the information requested. Publishers are likely making this request with intentions to bring more and better work to their readers, not to dampen submissions. If they love a short story or poem and have the knowledge that it’s simultaneously submitted, they’re likely to act more quickly to secure the writing. They may also be collecting information about the practices of writers who submit to them in order to access the importance of simultaneous submissions to the submission process. It may be useful to acknowledge that in many fields simultaneous submissions are strictly forbidden.

If a book is out of print should I still mention it in my publishing history? What if it is my only traditionally published book?

Jami Macarty: Yes to both questions. A publication is a publication—and most are hard won over a protracted period of time. Who’s to say when or if something previously published is no longer valid?

A magazine I was published in is no longer circulating should I still mention it in my publishing history?

Jami Macarty: That depends. If you have other magazines/journals to mention, I’d forgo mentioning one that’s no longer circulating. If the magazine/journal is well-known or recently defunct, my inclination is to include it. To me, it’s all about presenting and re-presenting who you are as a writer, artist, professional, etc. Why exclude any tools for doing so?

Should I include credit for non fiction in my fiction submission?

Jami Macarty: Yes, absolutely. The idea here is for a writer to support herself as a writer and an artist. To think holistically, to be inclusive of herself, and to share the whole of herself and her artistic accomplishments with a would-be publisher. Let a writer’s biography include all that she writes—whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reviews, a blog, etc., as well as other artistic pursuits, e.g. photography, illustration, painting, musical and expressive arts endeavors, etc. All human gems have numerous facets and we cannot know which will sparkle at a given moment.

Thank you for visiting, Jami. Your answers added clarity to my submission plans. I wish you continued success.

Photo by Vincent Wong

Jami Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, serves as a Poetry Ambassador for Vancouver's Poet Laureate, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings--Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Drunken Boat. Her poems appear, or will, in 2016 issues of Blood Orange Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Minola Review, Prism international, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, and Vallum. Also, this good Year of the Monkey, she's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, won the Real Good Poem Prize, and Landscape of The Wait, her poetry chapbook, has been accepted for publication (forthcoming in 2017) with Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What's Wrong with Michelle? (a short story)

photo by Leanne Dyck

What's Wrong with Michelle?

Have you heard the one about the three friends who meet in a restaurant? Amanda, Sarah, and Michelle have known each other since they were teenagers. 

They talk the way old friends do--letting their guard down, just being themselves.

Michelle gestures with her hands and bounces around like a beach ball. "It's so lovely to see you again, Amanda. It's been too long. That's such a lovely scarf." Her focus shifts to the window and out to the tree-lined street. "It's such a lovely autumn. The leaves are so lovely at this time of year. Oh, look there's a squirrel. A squirrel. A squirrel."

The squirrel darts out of sight and Michelle goes to freshen up.

"Everything seems to be lovely in her world." Amanda chuckles.

"Yeah, you'd think," Sarah says. "So does she, but I know she's miserable. And it's all because of the shaggy lump on her sofa. She has changed her entire life for him and all he does is growl. He sheds all over the carpet and pittels on the rug in the bathroom. This is the first time she's been away from him since he moved in. She thinks she has got to be there when he barks."

"Oh, when did she get a dog?"

"Dog--exactly. Now, tell me, how do we get rid of the creep?"

Picture Books in Canada

Owlkids Books
'Owlkids publishes entertaining, unique, high-quality books and magazines that nuture the potentials of children and instill in them a love of reading and learning--about themselves and the world around them.'
Owlkids Books titles 

Owlkids Books is currently looking for non-fiction...picture book manuscripts

Scary my Author Journey...

Every year I cuddle with CBC TV's airing of the Scotiabank 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Marketing 101: make connections (true story and...)

Once upon a time, I owned a craft supply store on the small remote island I still call home. I filled that store with...

quilt batting, thread in many colours and even a few bolts of fabric for quilters
knitting needles and yarn for knitters
paper, scissors and stickers for scrapbookers
an assortment of beads and  precious stones for jewellery makers
crayons, faster plaster, markers for children
and the list goes on and on...

I sat in the shadows with my knitting and waited for my customers to find me.

Island residents trickled in throughout the year but they were joined by tourists in the summer.

One day, he came in and walked up one aisle and down the other. I didn't recognize him and thought he must be a tourist.

"Wow, I'm really impressed by the diverse collection of merchandise." From his accent, I knew he was an American. "You've done very well." His smile wasn't out of pity or mockery. It was genuine. This stranger was proud of me. "If this was my store everyone within a 10 -- no -- 100-mile radius would know where to find me and what I had for sale."

What I thought at the time was, Americans are good at marketing.

What I do now is, pull that memory out each time I want to hide in the shadows. 

I don't think authors should say, "I have a book. Did you know that I have a book? Wow, my book is so good. Have you heard about my book?"

Hmm, nope.

Marketing is about making connections. 

I connect with readers by saying, "You like to read. Well, on my blog, I review books and share my writing."

I connect with writers by saying, "You want to build your author career. So do I. On my blog, I share what I'm learning about the publishing industry."

Thank you, Mr. American tourist, for coming into my store that day. You taught me to take pride in what I do. And you taught me to share it with those who can benefit from it.

*about the photos:  they were taken by me of my knitting but not in my store.


How to get over your fear of self promotion 

Picture Books in Canada

Established in 1984, Orca Book Publishers is a Canadian-owned children's book publisher that publishes Canadian children book authors. 

Sharing my author journey

Sometimes magic happens...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Do you read scary stories to children?

(witch = wise woman. Something I endeavor to be.)

Happy Halloween!

I recently wrote a scary picture book for children ages 6 to 9 years old and I brought it to my writing group for feedback. 

A fellow member asked, "Why would you want to scare children?"

This is my answer...

Yes to sharing scary stories with children...

We all want to believe that childhood is a time of endless bliss. That worries and fears are foreign to the mind of every child. But this desire may leave your child unequipped to deal with their fears--great and small.

Few times in life are you as vulnerable as you are in childhood. Where you go, what you do, who you meet are largely beyond your control. Your parents go to work and leave you in the care of an adult you just meet. You're outside playing and your neighbour's snarling dog confronts you. What do you do?

 'It's a spooky time to be a kid... let's give them some tools to cope with it.' -writes Greg Ruth  in his article Why Horror is Good for You and Even Better for Your Kid  

Sharing scary stories with your child allows the two of you to name her fears and  talk about effective ways to deal with them.

As Heather Shumaker writes in her article Why We Should Share Sad and Scary Stories with Kids'Books are a safe place for children to learn about the world and their own tough emotions.'

'Being frightened by a book, said [psychologist] Kenny, "helps forge resilience." ' -One third of parents avoid reading scary stories, study finds

(from my days caring for children in day care centres)

Years ago, as a University student, I participated in a heated discussion regarding Bruno Bettlehelm's The Uses of Enchantment.

"Why would you want to traumatize children?" I asked my classmates.

No to sharing scary stories with children...

Literature is a powerful tool that must be used wisely. We must always be conscious of the messages it is sending to children.

Some children are ready for scary stories. We are told that it gives the child an opportunity to work through their fears with the promise of a happy ending.

However, some children are not ready. Instead of helping them deal with real fears, it creates horrors of its own that the child's mind cannot escape.

'[W]hile scary stories are terrific, they shouldn't be forced on a child who doesn't want to read them.' -Scary Stories:  Are They Good for Your Child?

How can tell if your child is ready for scary stories...

Start with a mildly scary story such as The Monster at the end of this Book (this link takes you to a YouTube video reading of this book). Watch your child's reaction. If he shows signs of being afraid, check in with him by asking questions about the characters and the story.

Proceed with caution, at your child's pace.

I was a sensitive child easily frightened by books such as Sleeping Beauty and The Red Shoes, but as an adult, I enjoy reading horror novels. One of the scariest novels in my collection is...

On a remote island off the coast of Seattle, a man lies buried alive. Miles away, his captor--the elusive killer known only as Mephisto--listens through a transmitter to his victim's dying screams, waiting for him to reveal a secret only he knows. But learning the secret is only the beginning of Mephisto's maniacal game...
Tracking the madman are two detectives. In Canada, Superintendent Robert DeClercq, a man who has experienced horror up close. In America, Jenna Bond, a young detective who has never know true horror--until now.
Together they will uncover a trail of clues that will lead them to Mephisto, and into the bloody past in which he exists. Because the most terrifying secrets are buried, lying admidst the bones of the dead... 
Do you read horror? What's the scariest story in your collection?

Next post:  November 6th (published at approximately 5 pm)

Marketing 101
How exactly do you market yourself, your work, your book? What do you say to attract readers? Over the last six years, this blog has received 268,000 page views. What did I say to attract you to this blog?

Picture Book in Canada

Peanut Butter Press is a Canadian children's book publisher based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We have found our niche in creating quality picture books that children enjoy because of their interesting content and engaging illustrations.
And this in from the Children's Book Council... 

Sharing my Author Journey...

It's hard to believe that I worked this hard this month but...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Encouraging everyone to read Books

"I can't remember the last novel I read," he told me. "I can read but I don't."

Questions:  What do all these books have in common?
(Please scroll down to the very bottom of this post
--under the heading Sharing my Author Journey--for the answer.)

We have a problem that I'm hoping you can help me work towards solving...
'The percentage of American adults who read literature--any novels, short stories, poetry or plays--fell to at least a three-decade low last year, according to a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts.' -The long, steady decline of literary reading
'The Pew Research Centre reported...that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year.' -The Decline of the American Book Lover
'Work by the Pew Research Centre and other outfits have confirmed the testimony of teachers and parents and the evidence of one's eyes. Few late teen-agers are reading many books.'  -The New Yorker 
 '80% of American families buy percisely zero books per year, a proportion which no doubt is echoed elsewhere in the western world.'   Too Many Writers, Not Enough Readers
If you enjoy reading... If you love books... You and me--writer and writer, writer and reader, reader and reader--we are on the same team:  team reading.

Our team has a goal, a mission, a mandate--to spread the love of reading to everyone, everywhere.

Why is this issue so important to me?

Because I have known life without books. I was a reluctant reader; I have dyslexia. But thanks to dedicated teachers and caring parents, I won that fight and learned to read. And believe me, life with books is much, much richer.


Books open your eyes to new ideas.

Books answer questions.

Book make you think.

Books build bridges.

Books prove that you're not alone.

Books allow you to walk in someone else's shoes.

I could go on and on, but you get it. I know you do. We're on the same team.

How can we promote reading?

-give books as gifts

-read aloud to those who can't read or even to those who can

-discuss what you've read

-let them see you reading

-make books and magazines available to be read at your place of work or in your home

-talk about your favourite authors

-make your local bookstore your meet-up place

-don't judge. It doesn't matter if they are reading old classics, bestsellers, graphic novels or comics. All that matters is that they are reading.

-recommend a good book

-write reviews of your favourite books

-become a literacy advocate (World Literacy Canada) or the learning lab

-participate in pro reading events, such as Read Local BC

Can you add to this list? Please leave a comment.

all photos on this site were taken by Leanne Dyck--unless otherwise stated.

Next post...

For some October 31 marks the beginning of a new year. For others, Halloween is a time to indulge in all things spooky. 

The Walking Dead is rocking the boob tube (TV). Why? Why do we want to scare ourselves? 

Recently, I wrote a spooky story for children. 

A friend/author asked, "Why do you want to scare children?"

Years ago, as a University student, I participated in a heated discussion regarding Bruno Bettleheim's The Uses of Enchantment

"Why would you want to traumatize children?" I asked my classmates. 

Why read scary stories to children? On the eve of All Hallows' Eve (October 30th at approximately 5 pm), I will publish a post that explores both answers to this question.

Picture Books in Canada

'Tradewind Books has been publishing prize-winning picture books, novels and poetry for children of all ages for over 15 years... Tradewind Books is a small publishing house with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia.'

Sharing my author journey...

This week I received another rejection letter. Correct, it wasn't just 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Reviewing: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

Back in September I reviewed Louise Penny's first Inspector Gamache novel and made plans to review her latest one. But wait Louise Penny writes faster then I can blog, it appears. A Great Reckoning is newly released but today I will review The Nature of the Beast.

Buy this book

(I bought my copy during The Nature of the Beast's book launch in Vancouver, BC)

Published by Minotaur Books 
an imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group
Published in 2015
Book blurb:  Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn't cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. Including Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache, who now live in the little Quebec village.
But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true.
And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an odd crime, leads to an old betrayal. Leads right to the door of an old poet.
And now it is now, writes Ruth Zardo. And the dark thing is here.A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, Ruth knows, it is back.
Armand Gamache, the former head of homicide for the Surete du Quebec, must face the possibility that, in not believing the boy, he himself has played a terrible part in what happens next.

I took notes as I read (I've chosen not to include spoilers.)... 

Chapter 1

I finish this chapter in a state of confusion. Who is he? Where is he? The story is hidden from me and I wonder why.

Chapter 2

This chapter starts with dialogue. Description is sparse. The reader is given little information about the setting. The story trickles like a tap turned low. The chapter is packed with characters--all coming at me, at once. Where do I look? Who do I listen to?
Reine-Marie 'saw...a pretty, but dull backwater. While [Armand] saw a shore. A place where the shipwrecked could finally rest.' (p. 89)
Chapter 3

Clara:  ' "It's as though I've never painted in my life. Oh, God, suppose I can't?" ' (p. 26)

How may artists have wondered, mumbled or uttered this sentence? I know I have.

Chapter 4

Reine-Marie:  ' "Do you think a work should be judged by its creator? Or should it stand on its own?" ' (p. 30)
Armand:  ' "The creator and the created are one." ' (p. 31)

Leanne:  Are the criminally insane the only one who twist reality and spread hatred through words? Should there be controls on who can create art, on who can write? And, if so, who judges? What guidelines do they use?

Chapter 5

How can Gamache condemn a play he hasn't even read?

Do you recall the book The Last Temptation of Christ? Some Christians strongly objected the author's humanizing Jesus Christ. A friend of mine did. And she planned to join the public protest. When I asked if she had read the book, she said, "No!"
I think it's dangerous to be so closed minded to art. Art is meant to provoke. 

Chapter 8

This is one of the richest chapters.

Beautiful language:  'The leaves overhead were changing, and with the bright sun on them it felt like they were walking under a massive stained-glass dome.' (p. 63)

Fine touches of humor:  'She looked like an escape from a Dr. Seuss book. On the lam from green eggs and ham.' (p. 64)

Thought provoking:  '[T]hey...knew that words were weapons too, and when fashioned into a story their power was almost limitless.' (p. 117)

Excellent brief character sketches of minor characters:  'The woman's hair was obviously dyed at home, and due for another treatment. And the man's hair was combed over, in an attempt to hide what could not be hidden.' (p. 111)

The transition of another character entering a scene is handled too lightly for me--forcing me to re-read that section. 'she led them inside just as Beauvoir arrived' (p. 112) How did he arrive? What was he wearing? More description would help to strengthen the transition.

Chapter 15

Armand:  ' "As a play? It's not bad at all. In fact, Annoinette was right. It's brilliant." ' (p. 129)

Chapter 24

Louise Penny isn't scared of the fractured sentence. In fact, she seems to embrace them. For example:  'She hide nothing. Not wrinkles, not flawed eyesight, not even the hole in her pantyhose.' (p. 210) An em-dash could transform the two sentences into one complete sentence. She hides nothing--not wrinkles, not flawed eyesight, not even the hole in her pantyhose.

Sometimes a character is called 'Evie', other times 'Evelyn'. There is no apparent reason for the change and it creates confusion. 

Final thought...

The reader certainly gets her money's worth--there are mysteries within mysteries within mysteries.


Louise Penny talks about 

Picture Books in Canada

The Acorn Press takes as its particular goal and mandate to help encourage the flourishing literary culture of Prince Edward Island by publishing "Books about Prince Edward Island by Prince Edward Islanders."  -from the website

Sharing my author journey...

With help from friends, I entered the Writers Retreat in Iceland contest to win full sponsorship.