Sunday, July 8, 2018

Island Storyteller (short story) (1 of 2)

'trading post--the oldest grocery store on Mayne Island' ldyck

I scanned the row of vehicles parked in front of the grocery store. Some of them looked promising. I ruled out the trucks. They would be too difficult to climb into with my sore hip. I peeked into a navy Sudan. A shaggy face looked back. The dog started to bark so I moved onto the next prospect. A four-door rust covered Pontiac stood like a relic from a simpler time.  The door creaked open. I eased into the passenger seat. The springs were shot. It was like sitting on a gravel road. Next car, the driver came out before I could climb in. The passenger seat of a two-door sports car held a large box. I considered tossing it out but thought better of it. I was too polite to take such liberates. Last car in the row; last chance for a ride. No dog. No box. I wiggled around in the overstuffed, leather seat. It was comfortable enough to sleep in. My eyelids felt heavy. I leaned back and breathed deeply. A sudden breeze caused me to open my eyes. "You don't mind giving me a--."

"What the?" You jumped away from the car--almost slammed the door closed.

I'd scared you. Me? I had to laugh.

When I caught my breath, I said, "I need a ride. I know you won't mind. We live on a rural island; we help each other. It's just what we do."

"I'm heading South." 

"North, towards the ferry, for me. I'll get out before you run out of road."

You sighed--happy to be behind the steering wheel again, I guess. You slipped a disc into a slot, the engine purred. A guitar, joined by a singer filled the car.

Music? We didn't need music. I coughed into my fist. "Do you mind?"

You got the hint and turned the music off.

"This island is woven together by an interlocking web," I began. 

"Webs? Oh, you mean roads. Yes, we do--."

"Everyone knows I'm a storyteller. That's what I do. I tell stories. And that's what I'll do for you--if there are no more interruptions." I breathed out slowly, determined to remain calm, and began again...


"the road home" ldyck

Next post:  Sunday, July 15th (at approximately 5 PM PST)
I'll share part 2 of Island Storyteller. Will you drive me home or drop me off in some bush somewhere? (Who could blame you?) We'll see.


"time to come in from the backyard" ldyck


Sharing my author journey...

This week, I solved the problem that I was having with a

Sunday, July 1, 2018

10 Books for Canada Day



Happy Canada Day!

These old friends have been on my bookshelf for years. It's time that I share them with you.

10 of my most favourite books by Canadian authors



Away 
Jane Urquhart
1993
McClelland & Stewart
historical fiction
A stunning, evocative novel set in Ireland and Canada, Away takes a family's complex and layered past. The narrative unfolds with shimmering clarity, and takes us from the harsh northern Ireland coast in the 1840s to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa at the time of Confederation to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake during the present day. Graceful and moving, Away unites the personal and the political as it explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. 


When Alice Lay Down with Peter
Margaret Sweatman
2001
Alfred A. Knopf Canada
historical fiction
buy this book
Alice falls in with Peter in Orkney in the 1860s and pursues him to the New World. They join the rebellion against the Canadian acquisition of Manitoba and fight on the side of the charismatic Metis leader, Louis Riel. While not Metis themselves, they prefer the company of rebels and outcasts to the men who are invading from the east. Alice participates in the political execution of Thomas Scott, an odious Orangeman who is determined to destroy Riel and crush his followers. Thereafter, she is haunted by Scott's ghost.
Alice lies down with Peter in a storm of lightning and hail, the catalyst for the conception of Blondie, the wry narrator of the novel. Blondie lives for 109 years--much of it in love with Eli the buffalo-hunter-turned-singing-cowboy--and her tale covers four generations, three wars, two rebellions, a couple of labour strikes, and countless insurrections, both political and domestic. She experiences many losses over the years, losses that belong to us all:  the extinction of the buffalo; the deminishment of the environment; and the inevitable attribution of loved ones.


The Way the Crow Flies
Ann-Marie MacDonald
2003
Alfred A Knopf Canada
historical fiction
buy this book
In The Way the Crow Flies, Ann-Marie MacDonald takes us back to a post-war world. For Madeleine McCarthy, high-spirited and eight years old, her family's posting to a quiet air force base in Ontario is at first welcome, secure as she is in the love of her family, and unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in his own web of secrets. The early sixties, a time of optimism infused with the excitement of the space race and overshadowed by the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of a child as Madeleine draws us into her world. 
But the base is host to some intriguing inhabitants, including the unconventional Froelich family, and the odd Mr. March whose power over the children s a secret burden that they carry. Then tradegy strikes, and a very local murder intersects with global forces, binding the participants for life. As the tension in the McCarthys' household builds, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine learns about the ambiguity of human morality--a lesson that will only become clear when the quest of the truth, and the killer, is renewed twenty years later.

A Fine Balance
Rohinton Mistry
1997
McClelland & Stewart
historical fiction
buy this book
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry's stunning internationally acclaimed bestseller, is set in mid-1970s India. It tells the story of four unlikely people whose lives come together during a time of political turmoil soon after the government declares a "State of Internal Emergency". Through days of bleakness and hope, their circumstances--and their fates--become inextricably linked in ways no one could have foreseen. Mistry's prose is alive with enduring images and a cast of unforgettable characters. 

Fox's Nose
Sally Ireland
1997
Cormorant Books
fiction
buy this book
At Lisli Nos, or Fox's Nose, a farm in British Columbia's Fraser Valley, in a wintry attic on Christmas night, a girl named Julia makes love with her children. Afterwards she discovers a grubby exercise book in a trunk--her grandmother's diary of the Siege of Leningrad. She becomes obsessed by the account of the privations her family endured and of their encounters with enemies, both from beyond the city limits and within their own psyches.
Back in Vancouver during the months that follow, the past exerts a continuing and potent force on Julia's schoolgirl life as she and her German friend, Ursula, create a play about the siege for drama class. Meanwhile, Ursula's troubled brother, Willi, looks on from the wings waiting for an opportunity to perform his own destructive role in what proves to be a replay of the violence that so harmed their parents' generation.

Good to a Fault
Marina Endicott
2009
Freehand Books
fiction
buy this book
In a moment of self-absorption, Clara Purdy's life takes a sharp turn when she crashes into a beat-up car carrying an itinerant family of six. The Gage family had been travelling to a new life in Fort McMurray, but bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer rather than remnants of the accident. Recognizing their need as her responsibility, Clara tries to do the right thing and moves the children, husband and horrible grandmother into her own house--then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness.
What, exactly, does it mean to be good? When is sacrifice merely selfishness? What do we owe in this life and what do we deserve?

Room
Emma Donoghue
2010
HarperCollins
fiction
buy this book


It's where he was born. It's where he and Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But to Ma, Room is the prison where she's been kept since she was nineteen--for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven foot space. But these walls can't hold them forever...


Eleanor Rigby
Douglas Coupland
2004
Random House of Canada
fiction
buy this book
 Liz Dunn is 42 years old, and lonely. Her house is like 'a spinster's cell block', and she may or may not snore--there's never been anybody to tell her. Then one day in 1997, with the comet Hale Bopp burning bright in the blue-black sky, Liz receives an urgent phone call asking her to visit a young man in hospital. All at once, the loneliness that has come to define her is ripped away by this funny, smart, handsome young stranger, Jeremy. Her son.

Larry's Party
Carol Shields
1997
Random House of Canada
fiction
buy this book
 Larry Weller, born in Winnipeg in 1950, is like a lot of people. He's never really liked his first name; 'its Larryness has always seemed an imprisonment and a sly wink toward its most conspicuous rhyme:  ordinary... He was just one more citzen of the Larry nation, those barbecuers, those volunteer firemen, those wearers of muscle shirts.' But Larry Weller is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator's perception, irony, and tenderness. Carol Shields gives us a resonant and unforgettable portrait of a man--a sensuously detailed CAT scan of his life. In episodes between 1977 and 1997 that flash back and forward seamlessly, Larry emerges from a dreamy adolescence equipped with a Floral Arts degree from Red River College and journeys towards the millennium. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, he moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties, and the lean, mean nineties, adapting a society's changing expectations of men. Shields' elegant prose turns the trivial into the momentous as we follow Larry through the tribulations of two marriages and divorces, his relationship with his parents and their private tragedy, the birth of his son, the development of his career as a landscape gardener, and his agonizing mid-life crisis.And throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes--so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. From the moment that he first recognizes the man he could be, through to the completion of his quiet, stubborn search of self. Larry's Odysessy mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy, and faultless wisdom.

Fruit:  a novel about a boy and his nipples
Brian Francis
2004
ECW Press
fiction
buy this book
Peter Paddington is a 13-year-old, fat, gay cross-dresser with two selfish, annoying older sisters and an overbearing mother. But his biggest problem is that his nipples keep threatening, cajoling, and teasing him--out loud (or so he thinks). 

More...

Arrival:  The Story of Canlit
Nick Mount

reviewed in Quill & Quire

buy this book

111 book recommendations 
from newly published Canadian authors
link 


'trading post--the oldest grocery store on Mayne Island' ldyck


Next post:  Sunday, July 8 at (approximately) 5 PM PST
Island Storyteller

What's it like to love to tell stories and live on a small island where the opportunity to tell those stories may be few and far between. Well...


'my husband('s) rocks' ldyck


Sharing my author journey...


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Author Susin Nielsen's writing workshop

"at the writers' workshop"  ldyck

On a soggy Friday in June, seven writers met at the Mayne Island library to attend award-winning author Susin Nielsen's workshop on Creating An Authentic Protagonist. I found the workshop challenging, fun and inspiring. 

In the first of four writing exercises, Nielsen challenged us to write about an emotionally-charged event in our lives. We later shared these stories with the group and gained valuable feedback about our writing from Nielsen. Our feet wet, we moved on to explore how we would bring emotion to our characters. In our next writing exercise, we used a list of questions supplied by Nielsen to build a character--what does your character like, dislike and what are the most important relationships in her life. The questions also encouraged us to think of how we would show the heart of our character to our readers. For example, what items does your character carry? In the other two exercises, we were to put our characters in emotionally-charged situations.

During the Q & A that followed, Nielsen told us to pick our favourite book in the genre we're writing. Dissect and analysis the story. What works? What techniques did the author use?

Books Recommended...

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont
On Writing by Stephen King

Following the workshop, the library doors were thrown open and more people poured in. Nielsen entertained us with an author talk reviewing her career and read from her soon-to-be-published book. Nielsen began her career writing for TV shows as 
Degrassi Junior High and Robson Arms. Nielsen has won young reader choice awards--such as the Red Maple--for her middle grade novels.

Much thanks to Pam Withers for organizing and the Mayne Island Library for hosting this event.


"maple leaves"  ldyck

What's in store for July...

To celebrate Canada Day (July 1st), I've hunted through my bookshelves to find some old friends I need to tell you about. So first up for July, I'm writing a post recommending 10 must-read books written by Canadian authors.

Next, I offer a two-part spoof on the life of a writer living on a small island. (Huh, I wonder who inspired that?)--
Island Storyteller 

Then, as a former ECE (Early Childhood Educator), I comment on and review the thriller The Perfect Nanny by French author Leila Slimani.

Finally, I end the month by offering a short story about a walk in the woods--The Woods.


"huh, what's in there?" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This month I...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Book Review: Independent People (an Icelandic classic) by Halldor Laxness

Knowing that my mom's people came from Iceland, a friend lent me her copy of...



"an Icelandic classic" ldyck



first published (in two volumes) in 1934-1935
first published in Great Britain in 1945
paperback published in 2001 
by The Harvill Press an imprint of Random House

Set in rural Iceland before, during, and after World War I, Independent People follows Bjartur of Summerhouses', a sheep farmer, struggle for independence.
Bjartur of Summerhouses:  ' "People who aren't independent aren't people. A man who isn't his own master is as bad as man without a dog." ' (p. 41)
Fell King:  ' "The love of freedom and independence has always been a characteristic of the Icelandic people. Iceland was originally colonised by freeborn chieftains who would rather live and die in isolation than serve a foreign king." ' (p. 79)
This epic tale transcends the written word. Told in the old way, at night, around a campfire, you carefully listen to the storyteller. The old tongue demands your attention.
'Poetry...shows us the lot of man so truthfully and so sympathecially and with so much love for that which is good that we ourselves become better persons and understand life more fully than before, and hope and trust that good may always prevail in the life of man.' (p. 244)
Bjartur fails to achieve his goal of financial independence, but, in the final pages, he learns that there's something more important--being connected to family.

 More...
'If you look at novels from a couple of centuries back, they are full of description, because novel writing evolved from storytelling. Modern readers consider that sort of lengthy description an intrusion by the author and an impediment to the flow of the story.' 
Gordon Long, 6 Key Differences Between Storytelling and Writing


"writers at the workshop" ldyck

Next post:  Sunday, June 24 (approximately 5 PM PST)
On June 8, Author Susin Neilsen visited the Mayne Island library and she... Well, you'll read all about her writers' workshop and author talk next Sunday.

"Abby at one of her favourite places" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

CBC radio and me (2 of 2)

Did you miss the first part of CBC radio and me? Would you like to read it again? Here's the link... CBC radio and me (1 of 2)

Continuing the story...


(click on the image to embolden) ldyck

I still have the acceptance letter. Along with acceptance, I was sent an invitation to the book launch. It would be in a swanky hotel and recorded live for radio. Attending required an overnighter in Vancouver. The bed was comfortable; the room quiet. But I barely slept. I was way too excited.

In the morning, my husband helped me navigate the streets and we arrived earlier than many. Under crystal chandeliers, the tables had been removed to make room for rows and rows of chairs. At the front of the room, two round tables held microphones and other recording stuff. CBC radio magic would happen in this room, in front of my eyes.

As a way of saying thanks, I'd brought a gift for radio personality and host of the book launch, Rick Cluff. But how would I get it to him? The thought of meeting him made me way too nervous.

I noticed a tall woman opening boxes and organizing stuff. 

"I'm an avid fan," I told her and handing her the parcel, added, "This is for Mr. Cluff. It's a toque I knit."

"I'll make sure he gets it," she told me as she pulled a copy of the cookbook out of a box. "And this is for you."






"Thank you, um...er?"


"My name is Shelia Peacock."



What? I'd just meant the co-creator of the cookbook and the show's producer. And I'd asked her to run an errand for me. Red-faced I returned to my husband.


"This is it. This is the cookbook. Isn't it beautiful?" I breathed in that new book smell. A bookmark shaped like a chef hat marked page 130. Mom's recipe sat beside my story. My words were in a book. It blew my mind.

More contributing authors arrived and we all buzzed with excitement at being in that room,  about having that book. 

"I'm on page 10," someone told me.

 "I'm on page 96," someone else said.

The entire room cheered when Mr. Cluff arrived. "Good morning," he said and we were on the air.

During the first break, a man with a microphone wound through the crowd and, to my surprise, came over to me. "I'd like to interview you."

I gulped. "Me?" I whispered. Me on CBC radio?

"Go for it," my husband encouraged. "But remember to speak loudly."

"Yes, speak loudly into the microphone," the man said, and before I knew it, "We're on the air."

He spoke into the microphone, "I'm standing here with..."

I leaned in and said, loudly, "Leanne Dyck."

I must have been too loud because he quickly pulled the microphone away. A moment of dead air. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Leanne. Do you have a recipe in the cookbook?"

I nodded. Then remembered that I was on the radio. "Yes. I submitted my mom's recipe for Vinaterta. Vinaterta is an Icelandic-Canadian prune cake." I was about to tell him that she made it every Christmas, that she was a talented cook, a skilled baker, that she... But I needed to wait for him to ask the questions. So I took a breathe and waited. 

"Your mother's recipe?"

"Yes." Short and sweat.

"When was the first time you made... You used the recipe?"

"Um...er...well, that is to say...um... I never really used the recipe."

"Pardon me."

"I don't cook," I confessed, but quickly added, "But my mom was a good cook. Knowing my skills in the kitchen, or lack of any, she wrote the instructions so that it would be easy for me to follow. She made Vinaterta all the time. Every Christmas. That's how I know it's good."

"Oh, I see." He laughed.

Later, he interviewed Shelia Peacock and her co-creator Joan Cross and they put out the fire I'd lit.

"We carefully test cooked all the recipes," they assured the listeners.

Too soon, Mr. Cluff said, "Dark and early"--and I knew he was signing off. I waited until the path was clear, gathered all the courage I possessed and walked up to Rick Cluff. "I'm a big fan."

"Well, thank you." He had a genuine warmth that put me at ease. "Would you like a photo?"

"You'd..."

"Of course," he said and made room for me at the CBC radio table.

My husband captured the moment...

'notice my stylish haircut--not. I'd just donated my hair to cancer survivors'

On my way back to my husband, a woman stopped me.

"I'm so pleased to meet you," she told me. "I wasn't planning on attending this book launch but after hearing you on the radio I knew I had to meet you."

Later, when my husband and I were alone, I told him about the woman and asked, "What do you think she meant? Why do you think she had to meet me?"

"I have no idea," he told me but grinned like he knew why.

Writing that short story didn't attract a publisher to my writing, but attending Flavours of Vancouver's book launch was an exciting step in my author journey.


photo by ldyck

Next post:  Sunday, June 17th
Iceland Independence Day
at approximately 5 PM PST

Knowing my Icelandic roots, a friend lent me her copy of Halldor Laxness' Independent People. And to celebrate Iceland Independence Day (June 17th) I will publish my book review.


"my dog, Abby"  ldyck

Sharing my author journey

Sunday, June 3, 2018

CBC radio and me (1 of 2)

This short story was written about an event that happened in 2005.

A radio with silver knobs and in a brown vinyl case sat on a shelf beside a potted plant in my parents' kitchen. It was permanently tuned to CBC radio. As a result, my parents raised a CBC radio devotee. And so it's not surprising that I heard the call. Something like...



"my radio" ldyck

"BC is a multi-ethnic province. Nowhere is this more evident than in Vancouver. In celebration, we, your broadcasting network, are writing a cookbook--Flavours of Vancouver. Please send us your family recipes along with a brief antidote."

But, as I've never felt at home in front of a stove, it was surprising that I heeded the call.

What can I say? I was called to represent Icelandic-Canadians. If only to honour my mom. My round-faced, fair-haired mother had been a talented cook, a skilled baker.

A tin box held index card recipes. I'd inherited the collection from Mom. And I knew among the cards I'd find Vinaterta--a seven-layer prune cake. My husband entered mid-search.

He used the same tone you'd use with a serial killer who was searching for a knife. "What are you doing?"

I told him about CBC's plan to write a cookbook--Flavours of Vancouver--and my plan to send them a recipe and a story.

And he said, "The title is Flavours of Vancouver and we live on Mayne Island. See the problem?"

I thought about it for a few minutes. "They'll notice my return address. I'll let them decide. And besides, they want me to write a story. A publisher will read my writing. It could be my big break." I clicked my pen and wrote...

When I was growing up, Christmas was a joyous time of family gatherings, traditions, good cheer and food. Delicious smells poured forth from Mom's kitchen. This was her opportunity to showcase mouth-watering talent. Two desserts were at the centre of these festivities:  English Pud to celebrate my dad's heritage, and my mom's recipe for Icelandic Vinaterta. Not surprisingly, Mom had been given the roots of her recipe from her mother, Grandma Olafson. Grandma's recipe loudly proclaimed its Icelandic heritage with its strong ethnic taste. Mom slightly toned down the recipe to make it more palatable for her husband. I, too, far preferred Mom's recipe. Years passed and I fell in love. Christmas was the test for my Mennonite boyfriend. How would he react to my large extended family? To Vinaterta? To my delight, he seemed at home in the company of my family. Next, he was served a piece of Vinaterta. The first bite was foreign to him. He turned the tastes around in his mouth. Would he finish his piece?

"It's okay if you don't finish it. It's a unique taste," my mom offered.

"Oh no, I like it." He finished it. "May I have another piece, please?"

Later that year we were married. Vinaterta was our wedding cake.

I put my story in an envelope along with Mom's recipe and affixed a stamp...


photo by b dyck

Next post:
Sunday, June 10th at approximately 5 PM PST
 I'll share the rest of the story.


"Abby the beachcomber" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 27, 2018

In the Wind (a poem)


'nature's fragility, nature's beauty' ldyck

Sing to me of trees dressed for autumn,
of spring rain, of summer sun,
of snowflakes dancing in the air 
like fairy princesses.
And I will follow you 
down dirt paths,
through snowbanks,
we will leave footprints in the sand.
We will be children of nature, 
living forever in the wind.

*On April 28, 2018, while on a walk with Abby, this poem flew from some magical place to my ear.


'letting the sun in' ldyck

This June's blog offering...
-a two-part short story on my relationship with CBC (public) radio.
-a book review on an Icelandic classic
-a report on a writers' workshop


'Abby, the beautiful' ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Moving to an Island

Mayne Island, my island home, has a population of 1071 (according to Google).

A map


'Salish Eagle on the water' ldyck

Are you interested in moving to a rural island?

 I'd highly advise you to vacation there. Rent a cabin and experience your future home in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. Befriend islanders and begin to build your network of support. Move to your new home with your eyes wide open. 


What did I do?


Well...



'Salish Eagle docking' ldyck

My mom's death took me to a very dark place. In search of a nest in which to heal, my husband I visited my cousin on Salt Spring Island. After that visit, we thought island life might be the answer. But Salt Spring Island felt too big. My cousin suggested that we island hop. We hopped from Salt Spring Island to Mayne Island.

It had been pouring all day. As we docked, the sun broke through the clouds.

"This is it. We've found our new home," my voice was full of sunshine.

"Don't you think we should finish docking and look around a little, first." Ever the level-headed realist, my husband required more convincing. 


'Abby there to greet you' ldyck

Now, nineteen years later--this very month--our roots are planted deep in sandy Mayne Island soil.



'Nature's beauty, nature's fragility' ldyck

Next post:  'In the Wind' 
--a poem inspired by a walk with Abby (my dog)
Published on Sunday, May 27 at 5 PM PST




'Mayne Island beauty' ldyck
Sharing my author journey...


Sunday, May 13, 2018

A New Reality (short story)

Inspired by Mother's Day, I write...

'a flower for mom' photo ldyck

A New Reality

Emily and I went back and forth--one time our house the next hers. This time it was our house. You kids were outside playing. I poured the coffee and we munched the cookies I'd baked earlier that morning.

"These are good." Emily finished her first and took another.

"It's a new recipe. Do you want it?"

"Sure, but mine won't be this good."

"We each have our talents."

"Did you ever find out what's wrong with Lauren?"

We were usually blunt with each other. We were more than friends, more like sisters. But somehow this time her words stung. "What's wrong with her?"

I guess she didn't catch my tone. "Yeah, ears, nose or--?"

"They think she may have a learning disability. They called it dys-lex-c-a." It was the first time I used that word; it was the first time I assigned that label to you.

"Oh, I'm so sorry."

"Sorry? Why she's not dead." My words were crisp. Embarrassed, I took a breath, forced a smile. "It's just a temporary setback. She'll get help; she'll get over it; she'll be fine."

Emily offered me a smile. "Of course, she will."

I didn't understand. Dyslexia--the whole thing was so new to me. New and different. I didn't want different. I never wanted to stick out. I was worried what other people would think, say. But you are special. You've always been. And special is good, exciting. A mother wants life to be easy for her child. Your life was never easy. But steel is forged by fire.

This short story is dedicated to my mom--and other women like her.


'Mayne Island beauty' photo ldyck

Next post:  19 years ago this month my husband and I moved to Mayne Island. Next Sunday, I share how I found the island, how we decided to move here and tips on moving to a rural island.

'petals under her feet' photo ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Blue Skies (short story)

photo by ldyck

A hand wrapped around my wrist, he started to pull. Down, down, down we went--into his hole.

"Show me the world," I asked.

"This is the world," he said.

Spiders. Worms. Dirt. It was so dark.

"No, the whole world."

"This is it," he told me. "The world is dirty, dark, sad. This is the world."

No, remember, remember, I told myself. There is more--there's blue skies, bird songs, fragrant flowers, buds on trees, soft green grass, sunshine, raindrops. And I tried so very hard to remember but the longer I stayed in that hole, with him, the more I forgot. I had to do something.

I looked up. Blue?

Reaching, stretching, jumping, I wrapped a hand around a root and pulled. I reached even higher and wrapped my other hand around a branch and pulled. Up, up, up. Only my feet remained in the hole. 

"Hey, what are you doing?" I felt his hands around my ankles. "You can't leave me." He dragged me down into his hole. "It isn't safe up there." He cut off one of my arms. "This is where you belong." He cut off the other. "This is the only world you need."

Now I'm trapped. Though I try, I can't get away. This hole is my only world.

But he can't control my thoughts. I paint pictures in my mind of blue skies, green grass, flowers, sunshine. I live in my imagination.

photo by ldyck

Next post:  Sunday, May 13 at approximately 5 PM PST
A New Reality (short story)
What's it like to be the mother of a child with dyslexia?
I don't know. I've never been a mother. But I have imagined the feeling in this short story.

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Valuing my words

"dogwood--I think" photo by ldyck

I finished writing my first book (Novelty Yarn) and thought...

I'm brilliant; it's brilliant.

I re-read it...

It's not bad.

I re-read it again...

Well... Hmm

Again...

This needs work and this and this.

Again...

I can't write. I don't have any talent? I'm a joke. This is a joke.

Listening to this negative self-talk paralyzed me, preventing me from submitting my work to any publisher. I didn't elect to self-publish Novelty Yarn. I hide in self-publishing.

But then came the reviews...


'Novelty Yarn contains a collection of small, tasty morsels that will continue surprise you right up until the last bite... Ranging from childhood memories about 4-H knitting and lessons from Grandma to night dreams about wild women knitting in the forest, each segment evokes a different mood. Many of the stories made me laugh out loud, while others made me pause...to mediate for a few minutes. The stories are separated by brief interludes of acoustic guitar music... The guitar intervals are just long enough to let your mind rest between the stories. The sensation is like cleansing your palate after sampling each vintage at a wine tasting. The total experience was delicious.' Donna Druchunas (Ethnic Knitting Discovery)
This review--and others like it--slowly began to transform me.

Today I submitted a manuscript to a publishing house. Will this publisher validate me? Will they accept my manuscript? Maybe, maybe not. That's not the point. The point is, by submitting my work, I'm validating myself.

*Revised from some a piece written in April 2007.



"blue sky" photo by ldyck

Next post:  Blue Skies (short story) about coping with anxiety and depression. Published on Sunday, May 6th at (approximately) 5 PM PST



"dog and wood--I know" photo by ldyck

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This April I...

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Lure of Yarn (short story)

photo by ldyck

A friend taught me to cast on. I knit a scarf--just a scarf. But, oh... The feel of the yarn as it slipped through my fingers... The soothing repetitive movements of my hands as I manipulated the needles... The singing of the needles... I knit another scarf and another and another.

"Knitting is so relaxing," I said when people asked about my hobby--even when they didn't. "You should try it." I forced yarn and needles at them. Some them walked away. Others ran.

All I wanted to do was knit. I couldn't stop myself. I wasn't myself. Something else had taken over.

Then came the hard stuff--intarsia, lacework, cables:  stitch after stitch, row after row.

"Let's go to a movie." My boyfriend tried to hide his worry. "Dancing? To the art gallery?" He gulped. "To the ballet?"

"Wish I could but I have to work late." That was a lie. I shuck off to my local yarn shop where I bought yarn--more and more yarn. I hide it in every closet in my tiny apartment and under the bed.

It's too late for me. I'm lost to the click, click, click. But you, my friend, there's hope for you. No, don't touch those needles. Stay away from that yarn. Heed my words--never cast on.

*Re-written from a story published in my first book, Novelty Yarn.



photo by ldyck

Next post:  Valuing my words
Published on Sunday, April 29 (at approximately 5 PM PT)



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