Monday, February 28, 2011

Knitting tutorial: Hank's having a ball by Leanne Dyck

Okay, so, you walk into your favourite local yarn shop. Look around, and find it. The perfect yarn. Trouble is it looks like this... You can't knit with it in this state. Question: how to transform a hank into a ball? Step 1: untwist Hank and lay him on your lap. Step 2: Find an end.
Step 3: Make several loops.
Step 4: Begin to form a ball.
Step 5: continue winding...
Don't stop until you have a ball.
Web Tour
I'm being featured on Charlene Wilson's blog. Please visit me here
An article has been added to the site. I'm one of the Guest Writers.
Shayne Leighton's Playlist Of Light and Darkness is featured on the Decadent Publishing blog
Work in progress
Word count: 31, 043 words
A new sentence: I swallowed my fear and stepped off the curb.
Next post: Free Tuesday: The saga of my overbite

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Leanne Dyck's books by Laurie Kay (The Islands Independent)

This article (written by Laurie Kay) was on the front page of The Islands Independent (a newspaper that was distributed to most of the southern gulf islands) on Friday, February 11th (Issue #59)

Mayne author releases second book

Mayne Island's Leanne Dyck plans to store her knitting needles in the very near future as she embarks on her new career as a full time writer. Dyck has just released her second book, The Sweater Curse, described as a paranormal, contemporary thriller, about a young and aspiring knitwear designer who must re-examine her life to escape her potential destiny in hell. Dyck's first mystery, released in 2009 is an exercise in character analysis and intrigue set in the islands off the BC coast. Maynely A Mystery has a 'read to the end feel' that's particularly inviting to islanders who can relate to the unique lifestyle with a taste and thrill of the paranormal woven in.

Though released after Maynely A Mystery, Dyck had actually started writing the darker toned The Sweater Curse first. Along with tossing in a lure of the paranormal, the latter provides readers with another twist; it's an ebook.

Also known as digital books, ebooks are image-based productions readable on computers or other digital devices. Dyck says there are many benefits to being an ebook author including speed of publishing, and world wide readership.

During an online interview with The Islands Independent Dyck added that though Decadent Publishing has the right to publish The Sweater Curse as an ebook, she retains the right to publish her work traditionally, either through a separate publisher or as a self-publish endeavor. Authors are also paid a percentage of the sales for books on line.

Dyck says The Sweater Curse has allowed her to include her thriller within an already existing body of knitting-themed literature. Her recent ebook also lets her explore character in depth yet again, something that is emerging as a keynote element of her style. And like The Sweater Curse, now Maynely A Mystery is available as an ebook.

Dyck is definitely excited and confident about her new career that represents a bold step up in her own character development. She says she keeps daily business hours, a level of discipline not always easy for writers or islanders.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take Note (short story, plus tips to keep writing) by Leanne Dyck

Me: Recently, I've been engaged in life and have little time to write.

You: Sounds like an excuse. If you want to write, you find the time.

Me: Yes, but, what if it's something more. What if, it's writers' block. What...Do. I do. Then?

You: Why don't you read this article you wrote...

Take Note

He found the note on the breakfast table. There it was beside his scrambled eggs and toast. He picked it up and read it over slowly. It was Sunday--he had the time. 

    Piss off! You heard me. Leave. I don't want you around. I don't anything for you--no money, no booze, no nothin'. Isn't it bad enough that I'm trapped in this tin piss can without you tormenting me? I don't need you. I don't need anyone. I'm just fine on my own, thank you very much. I don't need your help. I don't need your pity. If you stay, one of the two of us is going to get hurt and I can guarantee it won't be me. So get the hell out of my house! Why are you still here? Are you deaf, dumb, and stupid!

He smiled. Smiled--at such a note? Was he insane?

Maybe. He did, after all, love a writer. That required some degree of insanity.

Yes, he smiled. He smiled because he knew her writer's block was over. Thor had found his hammer. The angels had found their harps. And his wife had found her muse. All was right with the world; she was back at work.

As if she were dancing on sunbeams, she floated into the kitchen. "Did you read it?"

What did he say? What could he say? "Um, yes. Yes, I did."

"Well, what do you think?"

"It's rather...ah...strong."

"I know." Her entire face shone like the sun. "I'm not sure where it fits yet. But that doesn't matter. I've started. That's the hardest part. Starting." She joined him at the table, her hand smoothing the paper. "Sometimes it's like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Only you don't have to find all the corner pieces first. You just have to find a piece."

Yes, he had to admit, it did help to be a little insane.

Oh, yes I'm very familiar with writers' block. So familiar am I, in fact, that I've devised ways and means to overcome it. These strategies have worked for me--I hope they work for you.

Release: One word leads to another. So grab a pen and write the first thing that comes to your mind--how cute your boyfriend looks in jeans; what you love about your new job; the weather. Write.

While you write, don't worry about word count, grammar, or spelling. Simply allow words to pour out of your pen uncensored. The only goal here is to relax and release.

Pep talk: It's often beneficial to seek the advice of others who've faced the same obstacle. So, talk with or read the books of fellow writers to discover their strategies.

Books that have helped me, include...
Steven King's On Writing
James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure
Nancy Lamb's The Art and Craft of Storytelling.

Make a habit of it: Writing every day will lead to wanting/needing to write every day. 

Be publically accountable: As a member of a critique group, my self-imposed expectation is that I have something to share at each meeting. If I don't, my peers will know. For me, this external means of accountability is a strong motivator.

Give yourself time:  It could be that the sentence you're currently unable to write is simply beyond your writing skill level. What helps me is giving myself time to read good books. Learning how others craft a sentence helps me find my author's voice. 

Change of scenery: Sometimes unblocking can be as easy as going for a walk. Physical exercise allows my brain to work, while the rest of me is otherwise engaged.

Create:  If the words aren't coming, I pick up my knitting needles and cast on stitches. Creating something physically often leads me to put words on paper.  

All writers face it, you will overcome it--believe in yourself.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Knit, Knitting, Knitted tutorial--tails

Did you know that your knitting has a tail?
Yup, it does.
Once you've finished putting your stitches on your needle, you will have two ends of yarn trailing from these stitches. One of these yarn ends will lead from the stitches to the ball. This is your "working yarn". The working yarn will be used while you knit. The other yarn ends will not be attached to anything. This is the "tail". The tail seems only to be around for the ride and it's not to be trusted. Indeed the tail is sly. It needs to be watched. If not closely supervised it can create all kinds of mischief.
It can make stitches disappear.
It can disguise itself as the working yarn.
The first problem can be avoided by ensuring that your tail is long enough not to pop through the last stitch. Leave a nice long tail. 
Unfortunately, this long tail can create the second problem. You see, it is easy to mistake a long tail for the working yarn. 
Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem as well.
Put an anchor on your tail.
I tie my tail in a figure 8.
Web Tour:
I want to spin yarns--not dance with grammar.
I've done a few interviews. One interview question I've encountered is what time period would you like to visit. I've answered the 60s.
Yesterday, I changed my mind. Now I want to visit Shakespeare's England.
Ah, you think a romantic time.
Um, yeah, but that has little to do with it. What appeals to me is the freedom with English. Shakespeare was able to play loose and easy with English. This delights me.
I've been in and encountered many discussions lately about grammar...maybe too many.

Work on work in progress
Word count: 29, 869 words
A new sentence added: I have to agree, to do otherwise would expose my jugular vein.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freedom In Chains (short story) by Deena Remiel

Human Trafficking is a global, insidious crime. Everyday a child, a woman, a man is sold into slavery--whether for work, drugs, or for sex, it is happening all around us. Even to families we know. One young woman has been rescued from her years of captivity by a brave champion, Dottie Laster of Laster Global, Inc. To commemorate the 6 months anniversary of her freedom, and to bring about awareness, I present her today, FREEDOM IN CHAINS, a short story. Blinders off.
--Deena Remiel

by Deena Remiel

I am born. Without forethought. Without intention. Without love. I am thrust out of a darkness so warm, sheltered, and secure. Thrown into another kind of darkness so cold, exposed, and depraved. I cry and reach out, instinctively, for a mother's love that should be there, instinctively, and is not. I learn instead to reach inward. I learn to design my own world in a corner of my mind. I learn not to cry.

Bad things happen when I cry. Bad things happen always...when you're not intended.

In my world, it's best to be invisible. If She can't see me, I'm forgotten for a while and safe from the brutal attacks on my fragile heart. I know She can't help herself yet, and I forgive her...over and over. She is Mother. If He can't see me, my body is safe from unwanted, unwarranted intrusions. I just can't be invisible long enough, though. I know He can't help himself. He tells me so as He hurts me and cries...or laughs.

No longer a person, but a receptacle for other people's basest desires, I exist. I am pissed on and passed on to innumerable faceless people who don't see me, a precious child, but see me, a thing to be exploited. This is not my choice, but I have no voice. It was stolen sound by sound, thread by thread, each day sucked up more and more by the vacuum my family surrounded me with, veiled as "protection".

My name is Freedom, and it was my birthday, once.

Freedom's not my real name, but I chose it on that one birthday. The one that was actually remembered. The one that made Mother angry at remembering, angry at me. My birthday dinner was Rice Toasties and milk. My birthday gift? I got visited by Him and his friends. As my body was repeatedly invaded, I made plans for my revolution, my escape.

To freedom.

Today is the dawn of my revolution. Mother isn't home, and He's too doped up to lift his head when I walk into our apartment. So I gather my few belongings and walk right back out, never looking back. The streets have to be safer than where I have been for the past fourteen years.

I walk along the bustling city streets of my town, seeing everything just a bit differently than I had only minutes before. I see, for the first time, because my head is up and not turned down in shame. The store windows sparkle brilliantly in the sunlight, just for me. In upstairs apartments, window shades are pulled down and then up to let in more light. But I know they're really winking their approval at my decision. My heart is light, my cheeks lift, and I touch them. I am smiling. What a strange feeling.

Awareness and attention to detail assault my brain like a battering ram. There's an old lady with wrinkled tissue paper skin pushing a shopping cart, but I know she's not shopping anywhere. I see her lips moving but nothing's coming out. There's a pack of boys, acting as if they owned the corner they were hanging out on, whistling after pretty girls walking by. Some of the girls give them nasty looks, while others ignore them altogether.

I notice the smells. The sweet, succulent aroma of the flowers from a flower shop is tucked away in a little box in my heart labeled "sweet things". Next, I smell pizza. I know pizza. I eat it a lot. My nose wrinkles in defiance of the familiarity. No more pizza for me! I smell garbage. I know that smell, too. It perfumes my apartment. It creeps into my nostrils and lingers. I put my hand to my face and smell my skin. Anything is better than the smell of where I came from.

Darkness is inevitable. Hours fly by in a dizzying swirl of sights, sounds, and smells. More swiftly than I would think, the insipid darkness descends upon the city. I am tense, anxious. My stomach grumbles. I haven't considered where or what I might eat. I haven't considered where I might stay. I haven't considered how I might pay for anything. I simply haven't considered. My thoughts wander as I stand frozen in the middle of the sidewalk. I am now one of those people, the street people, who lay on benches or cardboard boxes on the ground. It's still better than who I was before.

An unnatural breeze, sour and rank, wafts over my face. I know that smell, and a shiver snakes its way up my spine and clenches hard at my neck. It is Him, and my stomach roils in abject humiliation. My revolution, only in its infancy, has been suppressed. I am tugged and pulled and squeezed by his cruel hands. And he smiles at the people we pass on the way to his car that He left parked in the middle of the road. He calls me an incorrigible teenager to mollify the onlookers while shoving me into the front seat, and they respond with an understanding glance. But they don't understand! I scream that I'm being kidnapped and they shake their heads disbelieving me, believing Him instead. How can they believe Him instead of me? His right hand forms a manacle around my wrist as He drives one-handed all the way back to the apartment. I am barraged with insults and curses and threats meant to intimidate me.

They will work...for a while.

A closest, a very dark closet with some matted carpeting, becomes my home, and I am chained by my ankle to the floor. But not before my whipping, not before cigarettes are burned into my flesh, and not before I am reminded of what my only purpose is on this earth. I don't know what day it is. I only know day from night when the door opens and I'm given a sandwich and water. And when They come to fetch me.

In the darkness I hear them scheming. I know they have to send me to school. It's the law. But they won't until I'm healed. Mother told me she called me out sick so the police won't come. They've told stories to everyone at school about how difficult I am at home and how I'm a habitual liar. Mother told them she's getting me into counseling because I hurt myself intentionally. My teachers don't believe them. Do they?

I am scheming, too.

I am finally set free to go to school. I have no clue what's going on in my classes and no friends to ask. I'm never there enough to string concepts or friendships together. My stomach is cramping, so I ask to see the nurse. Denied. I 'm only allowed to have stomach cramps in between classes. I see my assistant principal at lunchtime and decide to approach her. Maybe she can help me. We go to her office and she leans back nonchalantly in her seat and stares blankly at every tale I tell. I even show her the scarring from the cigarette burns and the chain marks around my ankle. I'll look into this, she says, as she walks me out. I turn around to see her shaking her head and tossing her notes into the wastebasket. She doesn't believe. They've gotten to her. She's one of Them now.

The end of the school day brings no relief, as He is there, waiting for me in his car. He waves me on and I can do nothing but obey. Mother's gone. On and on, my days blend together. Every day the same routine--chains unlocked, get ready for school, go to school, go home, chains locked. Sometimes He comes, sometimes his friends, sometimes it is people he doesn't even know. I am His meal-ticket. I am His drugs.

I am His.

He has a computer on the table in the kitchen, right next to the pizza boxes and dirty paper plates and cups and empty beer bottles. While in my closet I have been busy. I have found a way to get out of my chains and back in them again. Malnourishment has its advantages.

The front door slams shut and I wait. I listen. There is silence. Boldly, I remove the chain from around my ankle and I stretch. Reaching up for the doorknob, I hesitate. What if He's testing me and He's really laying in wait, ready to pounce? What if the door is locked and I can't get out? Enough of the what-ifs, I scold myself. What if you just open the Goddamn door?

I do, and I am alone.

Energy hums through my body as I rush to the computer. Now what? I search for freedom. I had been in Civics class once where the teacher taught us about human rights violations around the world. He had mentioned human trafficking and children being sold into slavery as a couple of examples. I remember hyperventilating and being sent to the health office. I retched and dry-heaved for a while and then she sent me back to class. Only other people get to go home when they're sick.

Human Trafficking brings up 9,000,000 pages to view. I only need one to confirm that I am what is called a victim. It takes a couple more clicks and I find my savior. Someone actually saves people like me, victims of unspeakable human rights crimes. I quickly write down a phone number, put it in my pocket and return the computer to exactly the way it was before.

I hear loud cursing and laughing coming from the hallway. He's back, and he's got company. Scurrying like a mouse, I scramble to my closet, close the door, reattach the chain to my ankle and curl up in a ball. I say my nightly prayer, "Please make me invisible tonight." Tonight, it works. His company is female. Poor woman.

At school today, I skip out of English. I borrow some kid's cell phone. Okay, I steal some kid's cell phone and race outside to make the call. The call of freedom. My finger trembles as it pushes each number. It knows this is my last effort to be free. The thrumming of my heart threatens to drown out the voice on the other end.


I am born. Again. It is a long row I hoe with many ruts and boulders in my way. Nightmares and depression replace my former reality. But I have people in my life now who help me plant the seeds of strength and trust and happiness. People who show me what it is to be treated with human kindness. People who show me I am deserving of such. The evil that bought me when I was but a child has his own shackles to wear now in his own "closet" for the next forty years. It should bring a smile to my face, but that's still hard to do.

My name is Freedom, and I had a birthday once. I named it my Freedom Day. My Freedom Day dinner was a real steak, a baked potato, green beans and a Coke.

My Freedom Day gift? My new life.

(c)Deena Remiel, 2010. All right reserved.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Way of It (short story romance) by Leanne Dyck

Big sister Arabella tries to get her little sister Elizabeth to listen to reason, stop her silliness, and go home.

Reader's review:  'I can see the room, the sisters and the lover in your poetic words and phrases'

The Way Of It 

Dawn's light sneaks through a wood-framed window. The light reveals a humble but practical kitchen--warmed by a wood stove. A table with two coffee mugs and a vase of flowers stands in the middle of the room. 

Two women enter the kitchen and find sturdy wooden chairs. Liz, in humble dress, picks up her knitting. Her hands fly masterfully through the stitches. 

Arabella is in silk and lace, her hands bejeweled. "Only say the word and I will rescue you from this...this... place."

Needles click.

"Elizabeth, you can't be happy here. We were not born for this."

Yarn dances.

"He's so very course...uncultured...crude--an awful man. I can't believe he brings you joy. He labours in the fields. In. The. Fields." Her voice pierces. "His clothes smell of it. You deserve better." Her words tear down the humble cabin setting it ablaze.

Liz lays her knitting on her lap. Her eyes are full of love when she looks across the table at her sister.  "Dear Bell, I know you want the best for me, but your ways are not our ways."

"What?! Now you enjoy poverty. You're deluded."

"Please, listen. I know our way of life must seem strange to you. You know fancy dress balls but not the passion of a kiss shared under the harvest moon."

"Like a common labourer. I would not stoop so low."

"I'm proud to work side by side with my man in our fields."

"What has this man's work brought you? Look at your hands--hands which once danced over ebony and ivory. Look at them. They're...they're gnarled and...and..."

"We work hard. We are building a future. You think he is crude, but you don't know him. The way he makes me feel. I am free. I can breathe. He wakes me early to share in such delights: the birth of a wee lamb, the tuneful singing of the birds, the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, the warm glow of the first light. He gives me gifts of finery--the wild flowers that grace our table. He is faithful, kind, hard working and he loves me. You should find such joy, such love."

"If you won't listen to reason. I can't help you." Arabella storms out of the room.

Liz bows her head. The needles click and the yarn dances.

Rewritten February 24, 2021

Friday, February 11, 2011

Guest Post: Knitwear Designer Holli Yeoh

Interview with Knitwear Designer Holli Yeoh

Who taught you to knit? 

I was taught to knit by my mother when I was five years old. I remember carrying my knitting around the neighbourhood that summer while I was working on my first project--a baby pink scarf. I don't honestly remember if I ever finished it but I do remember that several of the rows were a dirty grey because I must have been knitting with grubby hands. I also remember counting my stitches at the end of every row and then running home to have my Mum fix my dropped stitches. 

What knitting method do you use? Continental or English? 

I was taught to knit in the English method. I've marvelled at how quickly Continental knitting can knit and I've tried to change my style a few different times, but I'm too impatient to put in the practicing time while my hands are getting used to the movements. I do sometimes purl in the Eastern manner--wrapping the yarn around my needle in the opposite direction while holding the yarn in my left hand. This twists the stitch on the needle, but I fix that on the next row by knitting into the back of the stitch. I find this combination knitting results in better tension but it does slow me down.

What is your favourite stitch pattern? 

For production or mindless knitting (like when I'm watching a movie or I'm at the playground with my son) I like simple stocking stitch. I don't have to look at what I'm doing so I'm freed up to concentrate on other things. I enjoy almost every kind of stitch through the simple process of knitting gives me such a sense of peace and fulfillment.

What is your favourite yarn?

I love working with wool. I like the really squooshy soft ones for their tactile sensation. I love yarns with a nice twist to them and the stitch definition they provide. Tweedy yarns are lovely for the little flecks of unexpected colour. I've been working with fingering weight or 4-ply yarns for the past several years and I really love the drape and hand of the fabric they create.
Is there a needle size that you prefer to work with? Bamboo, plastic or metal needles?

Addi Turbo circular needles are my go to knitting needles. I have over 30 of them and it's never enough. I use both the standard and the lace tips depending on what I'm knitting. Because I like knitting with lightweight yarns that means I use small sized needles. A 3 mm size (approx. US 2) is my favourite size. I have 13 of them in my needle inventory. And yes, I do keep a needle inventory because I have so many ideas, samples and projects on the go. I can't remember where all my needles are at any give time.

Why did you become a knitwear designer?

I've always created. I majored in crafts (jewellery, ceramics and textiles) in art college and received my degree in Fine Arts. I was working as a jeweller, both teaching and designing, and was feeling uninspired. We wanted to have a baby and I felt that the toxins I was exposed to at the jewellery studio were just too risky. Knitting was my passion though and it was consuming all of my free time. I decided that it was time to apply my design skills to knitting.
It didn't occur to me that I had no instruction or experience in knitwear design. My art college education gave me a good grounding in design in a general sense and I applied that and my common sense to figuring out how to design knitting patterns. There were few resources at the time although now there are many books on designing your own knits.

Tell me about your first pattern?

Because I was completely consumed with my new found motherhood and babies, it was natural that my first design was a baby sweater. At a knitting retreat in 2001, one of the knitters introduced me to self-patterning sock yarn. I was smitten, but I wasn't interested in knitting socks.

Because I was pregnant and had babies on the brain, it occurred to me that a baby sleeve is about the same circumference as a sock. The computer-generated striping sequence of the yarn should work on a sleeve and also cardigan fronts which were again used a similar number of stitches. Self-patterning sock yarn would look great knitted into a tiny sweater. That's how Candace, my first published pattern came into being. It was designed as a present for a friend's baby who was born six months after my baby was born.

Where did it appear?

I first published Candace myself in 2003 and it's available for purchase on my website. Ravelry and I wholesale it to yarn shops. It also appeared in the 2005 Accord Knitting-Pattern-A-Day calendar.

Since then I've had patterns published in the online knitting magazine, and Twist Collective as well as in print in Amy Singer's No Sheep For You. I've designed on commission for yarn companies as well as self-published several more patterns myself.

Do you attend fibre festivals?

I've attended the Victoria Fibre Festival several times and a local event at Surrey Museum called Pic-Knit. I really enjoy the opportunity to interact with the knitting public. I would love to attend some of the major events and festivals in the United States, but family obligations have made it difficult to manage.

Have you taught knitting classes?

I love to teach knitting workshops and share techniques and tricks. I've taught locally in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island and every summer when we visit my parents in Edmonton I reach at the local yarn shop, River City Yarns. I would really like to travel and teach more. Meeting new knitters and sharing what I know with them is very gratifying. It also provides me with an opportunity on what knitters need help with in patterns and how they think.
I'm also encouraging a whole new generation to knit by teaching classes at my son's school as part of their noon-hour programs.

What are you currently working on?

I'm juggling a lot designs at the moment and they're all competing for my time. Unfortunately that makes me less productive! I have four children's sweaters in various stages of completion. All of the calculations are done, most of the writing is done, the samples are almost finished, they still need to be photographed and tested. I have several adult designs that need to make it from the sketchbook to the spreadsheet to the needles.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer?

It's exciting to see knitters' reactions to my designs to see if they understand what I'm trying to communicate with them. Being able to spend my days immersed in the knitting--both the physical knitting and the planning and making it work part--are immensely rewarding.


Marketing and paperwork are definitely challenging for me. I would love to be able to just create and have someone else swoop in and spread the word for me and do my books.

Thanks so much, Holli, for visiting me today. I wish you much success with your career.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Sweater Curse reviewed by Lou Allin

The Sweater Curse: A Modern Edda
Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen's. Her novella begins in a Ship-of-Fools fashion, with a bitter voice in some mysterious waiting room beyond the grave. The speaker, Gwen Bjarnson, returns us to her childhood years in Bloudous, a small town in northern Manitoba with a major Icelandic population. Her sweet and easy-going father is a simple farmer, but her mother is an ambitious doctor bent on pursuing her career.
Gwen finds solace in the love and care of her Auntie Oli, who shows her the art of crafts. "Knitting wove us together." But dark forces will take the family from their safe haven to Vancouver, where her storyteller dad falls quickly into alcoholism. Stubborn but vulnerable Gwen is torn between two worlds, the tradition of her common-sense, hardworking forebears and the demands of the modern life with its soul-crushing and superficial definition of success. To marry? To go to university? To become a fashion designer and master of wools, colours, and patterns? Or to drown one's sorrows with liquor and the "sweet breath of Mary Jane"? In the creative atmosphere of Kitsilano, where "anything goes", love may come to Gwen, but is she ready to receive it? Temptations come at a price.
Overhanging this brooding and complex story is the time-honoured tale of the Sweater Curse. Knitting a sweater for a man who is not yet a husband will bring tragedy. Creating modern characters against the fateful background of the sagas, Dyck gives them free will to choose their own destinies. This book defies genre definitions as it finds its unique place on the fiction shelves. Here's hoping Leanne Dyck returns many times to the intriguing roots of her family's past.
Lou Allin
She Felt No Pain (RendezVous Press, Oct. 2010)
That Dog Won't Hunt (Orca, Oct 2010)
On Kindle: A Little Learning and Man Corn Murders
Tracie Bell wrote an interesting blog about Symbolism in Fiction, read it here
Work on work in progress
Word count: 27, 569 words
A new sentence added: My face fell; she picked it up and we went for a walk.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Author Leanne Dyck is interviewed

Flipping through the MayneLiner Magazine, I found this article written by Mayne Island resident Bill Maylone.

Art On Mayne
Knitting to Novels

In January, Leanne Dyck, a long time Trincomali Community Arts Council member, published her second novel, The Sweater Curse. Leanne is well known for her original knit designs which are often seen in exhibitions or comfortably wrapped around herself or other Mayne Islanders. Writing and knitting are lifelong passions for Leanne, but since 2003, when she had her first article published in a Canadian knitting magazine, she's gradually focused more on writing than knit design.

She explains the differences between the artforms: "Knitting is expensive--the cost of wool, and especially the time and materials you waste in correcting mistakes adds up. I still love to knit, but writing is just a pen and a piece of paper."

"It's also a profession I can do while I'm sleeping. I sometimes dream parts of a book I'm working on--literally the words become clear in a dream. Then I have to wake up, grab a notebook and record the ideas, otherwise they'll be gone in the morning. I'm very self-critical, but when I'm asleep, the critic inside me is asleep too. It makes it easier to express myself, because I'm not restraining myself at all."

"I like writing because it's a way of thinking about things that are important to me and analyzing personal issues. There's a lot of myself in my new book, especially what it's like to be an artist and how that's perceived by society."

For Leanne neither knitting or writing came easy. "I've struggled with dyslexia all my life. Reading and writing are difficult. Also in social interactions, I have to really think about what's an appropriate response in a given situation--what are the right words? As an author, I'm grateful to have beta readers, critique partners, and a team of editors. Even though it's taken me many years to fully understand my disability, I now view it as an advantage in my creative pursuits."

In a book called, The Gift of Dyslexia (written by Ronald D. Davis, an expert in the field), there's a chapter called 'Creativity'. Davis explains that the creative drive is stronger in persons with dyslexia. They possess enhanced creativity and curiosity. While dyslexics have difficulty learning to read or interpret words, they think visually, intuitively and multi-dimensionally.

When Leanne was eight years old, her mother started to teach her to knit, but she realized she wasn't the right person for the challenge, so Leanne's grandmother picked up the stitch, so to speak. With her grandmother's patience and encouragement, a warm bond was formed, as well as the groundwork for success. When Leanne was eleven, she join 4-H and was happily surprised to discover that with her skills at knitting, she was accomplished at something other kids struggled with.

Leanne had to develop strategies for confidence. For example, "When I'm in front of a group, I become a different person--it's hardly me at all. I can actually feel my father, who died ten years ago, standing behind me. I speak the way he would speak in the situation. It's almost like I'm channeling him, that he's speaking through me."

When she and her husband, Byron, moved to Mayne in 1999, she was happy to be welcomed and accepted by the island's artistic community. Besides being a dynamic member of TCAC, she's found lots of helpful criticism and encouragement from the island writing group. Other inspirations? "I love John Steinbeck and John Grisham." On teaching: "I wouldn't teach writing, and I don't like criticizing other people's writing. I feel like I still have too much to learn, but thanks to the writing group, I'm becoming more comfortable in supporting other writers with their work."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Knit, Knitting, Knitted tutorial: cast on by Leanne Dyck

My favourite cast on is the double tail or Contential cast on. Other people may call it other things, but that's what I call it.
Why do I like it?
Oh for so many reasons, let me count the ways.
Just kidding.
One reason is because it stretchy. I love a stretchy cast on.

To add more stitches just repeat this process.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow like ocean waves against the shore, or stitches caught by my knitting needle.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Time Together (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Time Together

Male meets female--the air drips with estrogen and testosterone. The chemical mixture ignites. Nothing exists but passion.

His muscles flex with each movement. Hot steamy sweat collects on his brow. In and out, in and out, his movements excite her.

"That's right! Very good! Now...oh, that's right in there...very good."

Encouraged by her words he continues. 

"This is hard."

"It gets easier," she promises. "With time, the stitches will slip off your needles. You really are a natural."

"Should be, after watching you for years." He grins.

He knows how to make love to a knitter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

9 Author reading tips by Leanne Dyck

I began reading my writing on stage shortly after I published my first book--in 2006. Back then, I was accompanied on stage by a friend who sang. I've read my writing on my remote island home as well as off-island at places such as the Abbotsford Trade Ex. I've also read my writing on local radio and you can find my readings on YouTube. I'm currently enjoying doing podcasts of my readings.

1) Carefully choose an appropriate story--consider the venue and the audience.

2)Practice--it's key
practice in front of a full-length mirror
practice with a timer
practice with noise in the background
practice without noise
practice in front of a select audience
do a dress rehearsal--alone and with others
You get the picture...practice until you almost have it memorized. However, if you're presenting a short story, read from cue cards or better yet a notepad. If you're presenting a newly released book read from the book. 

3)Use coloured pens to fill your manuscript with notes-- reminders to read slower, highlighted words that need to be stressed, and places to pause and look up at your audience.

4) The night before your reading, get a good night's sleep.

5)Arrive early to the event.

6)Take time to check-in. How are you feeling? Are you nervous? Take something for your nervousness--rescue remedy or... Are you excited? Great. 
Excitement creates positive energy. 

7) Step on to the stage and find a friendly face. Exchange a smile. This will give you more confidence and put you at ease. 

8)As you read, project to the people in the last row. 

9)Have fun.  Remember, you're there to entertain--not do heart surgery.
If you make a mistake, try not to let it throw you. The audience won't even notice if you stay calm, cool, and collected.