Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book review: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

USA Today reports a resurgence of interest in George Orwell's work -- namely 1984. I'd like to call attention to another of Orwell's books:  Animal Farm -- which I believe is equally relevant. 

logline:  Spearheaded by pigs, farm animals rise up against their mistreatment and establish their own government.

If you enjoy (or have enjoyed) reading Animal Farm you'll also enjoy Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis -- published by Coach House.
logline:  Two Greek gods -- Hermes and Apollo -- gift fifteen dogs with human intelligence.

In Fifteen Dogs, Alexis studies society:  its development, what it means to live on the fringe (as an outcast, as an immigrant), and the purpose of art (to reflect, to provoke).

Writing Fifteen Dogs won Andre Alexis the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2015 ScotiaBank Giller Prize

In his Quill and Quire magazine article (The Key to Success), Nick Patch reports that -- as of November 2016 -- Fifteen Dogs had sold 110,000 print copies and 20,000 ebooks. Also in the article, Alexis is quoted as saying:  Fifteen Dogs ' "touched a lot of people and I'm happy." '

Fifteen Dogs is my Canada Reads pick -- the book all Canadians should read.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio program Canada Reads runs from March 27 to 30.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Alone with Him (short story) by Leanne Dyck

I've been working on this short story (flash fiction) for years. Recently, I found the ending and I wanted to share the newly re-written story with you.

(early Tuesday morning -- photo by LDyck)

Alone with Him

He speaks to me, touches me. A cool hand of longing traces down my body and makes me shiver. Why do I feel this way? What's wrong with me? I should stop.

But I don't; I can't. I'm his. He possesses me. I long to stroke his cheek, kiss his lips, melt in his embraces. So there I sit on my bed -- alone with him. My nose buried in the book. I turn each page in eager anticipation. Where will he take me now? My imagination is the world we share. There he lives, he breathes.

I found him in the school library. The book is tattered. It upsets me to think of how many years he waited for me.

But we have found each other. And now that we are together, all I want is him. I find excuses to sneak off.

"I have to brush my hair...make my my homework."

Last chapter -- paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word -- he is slipping away. I'm killing him, us. Still, I can't stop.

The end, I close the book and run a hand tenderly over the cover. My heart calls for him. I feel him in the shadows; he visits me only in my memories. He is gone.

Desperate, I pick up my pen. Imagination fueled by longing, I write. And he returns to me.


Once on the CCBC website, please scroll down to Amy's Travels in Teen Fiction for a list of Amy's hunky literary heroes.

Happy Valentine's Day

Next post:  Sunday, February 19 (at approximately 5 PM PST)  
I review my Canada Reads pick. Hit:  'Dog' is in the title. 
Looking forward to your visit.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Do you write with a pen?

Does anyone write with a pen, anymore?

Of course not. Who has that kind of time? All of us are in too much of a hurry to finish that novel and get it published. Did that one, on to the next -- every year...twice a year...every three months.

Fast, faster, fastest -- the fastest wins the race. And this is a race. Right? That's the reason you write, right -- to win.

And if you don't win. You lose -- your readership, your title. You can't call yourself a writer unless you win. You can't call yourself a writer unless you pump out those novels. Writers write -- All. The. Time.

So ditch that pen. It's way too slow. The computer is the only tool to use. You're in this game to win.


I recently received a rejection letter that read more like a pep-talk. The P-u-b-l-i-s-h-e-r wanted me to realize that it wasn't the act of being published that gave my writing value. She wanted me to remember that writing -- the act, the craft -- in and of itself is valuable.

And so I wonder... Could it be true that we don't have to enter the race? Is it possible that you don't even have to be published to be a writer? Maybe there are more important things than speed--like maybe studying the craft. Hmmm...


Giving Up and Giving In by Kathryn Magendie