Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishes for 2013

I'm blown away by how supportive you've been throughout 2012. You were there as I meet new authors and traveled to writing events. Together our needles clicked through skein after skein. You read my short stories and viewed the photos of my island home. 

I'm looking forward to continuing our friendship in 2013. 

Here are my wishes for the coming year...


That A Long Way From Her and The Sweater Curse:  a novel will find a home with a publishing house that will love them as much as I do.


When I started this blog, in October 2010, I wasn't sure. I didn't know who would read it. I didn't know what a great opportunity it would provide. 
Over these last two years you've taught me a bunch of things.(Like what works and what doesn't) And this blog has grown strong thanks to your gentle guidance. We now receive over 100 page views per day. Do you believe it? 100.
What are my plans for 2013? More of the same... Why fix it? It ain't broke...
-more free hand knitting patterns
-more scenes of Mayne Island and reporting about island events
-more on my author journey
-more visits with talented authors such as...

Joanne Wadsworth, Meg Wolfe, Theresa K. Anthony and Robert Hough in January.

Donna Shepherd, Johnny Ray, Andrew Demcak and Darlene Foster  in February. 


Crystal Favel aka Digital Storyteller

CBC radio described her as one of the 'Top five Aboriginal electronic acts to watch for in 2012' 

Oh, yes, we are going to have tons of fun in 2013. 
Next post:  Have a chuckle
I need to find a photo to accompany this post. I wonder if... Oh, yeah, of course...

Also on Thursday I'll be visiting Melodie Campbell's blog
I hope you can join me there.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Guest Post: Author Sharon A. Crawford

How/why did you start to write?

I have to blame it on that essay writing contest in grade 7. Haven’t a clue what I wrote about but the contest was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, I came in second, and for that my parents and I got a free dinner. After that I dabbled in poetry in high school but also wanted to be a journalist and go to J-School at Ryerson University in Toronto. However, life got in the way. My father died when I was 16; my mother, who had returned to work, had to quit because of her arthritis. So, somebody had to go out to work fast. After grade 12 I went to business school for a year and worked as a secretary/clerk during the day. By night (evenings, actually) I took journalism and creative writing courses at Ryerson and learned from one of the great journalists there – the late Paul Nowak. I still remember his two favourite comments on my manuscripts – “Who he?” and “So what?”

How did you become an author?

I’m presuming you mean “writer” as from what I understand “author” refers to book author and that came much later than freelance writer/journalist. My then husband and I were living in Aurora, Ontario and in those days (mid to late 1970s) community newspapers were thriving independents. I had sent a humorous personal essay to a local weekly, Topic, in Bradford, Ontario. My husband convinced me to pitch a story about a noisy Aurora ratepayers group to Topic. Me pitch a story? I hadn't stored up any nerve back then. So, with my husband standing over me for encouragement I phoned the editor and pitched the story. When he expressed interest, I got a little courage and mentioned the humorous piece. Both got published.

What was your first published piece?

The ratepayers group story and the humorous essay – what the latter was about escapes my memory as it started a series of more humorous essays for the same publication.

Where was it published?

Bradford Topic

How long ago?

1976, so 36 years ago (Ouch!)

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

In my secretarial/clerk career I worked for the Toronto Police Services (then Toronto Police Force) in Morality, Planning and Research and at the Police College. Yes, it was a big help in that it helped inspire me to write in the mystery/crime area and years after I left the force I had valuable contacts for research. This helped a lot with the four linked stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point.  I did a lot of interviewing of police officers in Toronto and in York Region (which Cooks Region in those linked stories is very loosely based on). For York Region I had no police connections but I was well known as a local journalist. Also I learned shorthand at the business school and used it in my secretarial career. However, it didn’t transfer over well to note-taking for stories as I found out when covering my first Aurora town hall meeting featuring a panel of six. When the panel took a brake, I checked my shorthand notes . And couldn't read most of them. I quickly learned to use my own version of speed writing. Typing skills also came in handy

What inspires you?

Lots – good and bad. On the “bad” (or negative side, if you wish) I get upset at a lot of the injustices in the world, some of them personal. A few examples of the former are when young people die before their parents whether through disease, murder or suicide, and murders and other crimes in real life give me ideas. But so do the absurdities in life. For example, when I originally wrote “The Couch” the first story in Beyond the Tripping Point,  I had been reading several mystery novels where the protagonists always seemed to have trouble getting enough well-paying clients to make ends meet. So, I went to the opposite, a young private investigator with too many clients who tries to downsize by conventional means and when that doesn't work, resorts to crime.

I guess that brings in the personal. I’m inspired by some of the things that happen in my own life –they give me story ideas. “No Breaks” came from travelling with a friend to her family cottage when her breaks failed and she had to use the parking break. We tried to find a gas station with a bay to get the breaks fixed. The breaks were fixed but that’s where reality ends. The two friends, Millie and Jessica, in “No Breaks” are not my friend and I. The story is told from Millie’s point of view – she is the driver. And (confession time here) I don’t drive. Many of my stories have driving and cars. I just do my research.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

Writing groups and organizations – I’ve joined several and started a writing critique group – The East End Writers’ Group – after I moved back to Toronto.  I am and have been on the executive of most of these groups and have mixed with and talked to many other writers. There is often a cross-over of writers from some of the groups. Writers love to help other writers, especially in Crime Writers of Canada members (including you) and the Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch where I am currently Writer in Residence. Talking with other writers, helping them and just getting yourself out in the writing community – both in person and through social media works. It also helps to talk to publishers and literary agents in person at workshops, panel discussions (and getting yourself on writing panels is good, too) and conferences. It’s that personal touch and trying to build a relationship. That helped me get the publisher, Blue Denim Press, for Beyond the Tripping Point. The editor there used to come to my East End Writers’ Group – at one point we even traded manuscripts (a memoir in my case; short stories in his) for evaluation. He was familiar with my work when I submitted some of the short stories earlier this year. However, the writing also counted.  So, bottom line, you may not get publishers and literary agents you talk to to publish or represent your book, but they will look at your manuscript faster. Also from all these writing connections, I get referrals, not just for writing but for book editing and teaching writing. That’s how I got my gig teaching fiction and memoir writing workshops with branches of the Toronto Public Library, which in turn has led to a recommendation in both the proposal to read from Beyond the Tripping Point at library branches and a recommendation in the cover letter going around to library branch heads. Again, the personal touch and building personal relationships.

Any regrets about your writing career?

Yes, and I have to paraphrase something Rick Blechta (The Fallen One, Dundurn Press, 2012) said to me at the Toronto Word on the Street last month – what took me so long and it was about time. But the need to earn a living and pay the bills was at the forefront, so the creative side of my writing often had to get squeezed in.

Parting words

Don’t give up – even with a lot of rejection slips – they make good wall decorations for the den. If you are time-challenged, make time to write. Don’t stop writing – the  more  you write the more your writing evolves and the more you evolve and get creative satisfaction.

Book blurb:

Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, fall 2012) is the debut mystery short story collection by Sharon A. Crawford. Four of the stories provide the kick-off for a series of mystery novels featuring fraternal twin private investigators, the gay Bast Overture and divorced mouthy Dana Bowman, their quirky friends, family, colleagues, assorted enemies and villains, and of course, crime. Nine more short stories feature frenetic detectives, diabolic villains, and other eccentric characters. The situations bounce from hilarious to macabre, and the pace is always unrelenting in this collection by a master crafter of the genre.

“Crawford’s witty writing style is crisp and savagely funny, chronicling segments of a blasted world where husbands and wives, mothers and children, sisters and brothers, psychos and sadists—with cops never too far behind—sandstorm through the potholes of life.”
Bianca Lakoseljac, author of Summer of the Dancing Bear

Author Links:


Christmas Angels on Salt Spring Island (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story was recently published in the literary journal Canadian Stories...

I'd like to offer it to you today with a little Christmas cheer...

Another Christmas Eve quickly approached and I knew my entire extend family would gather—as they did every year. They’d talk, laugh, exchange gifts and enjoy delicious food. They would—I wouldn’t, not any longer. My husband and I had moved from Manitoba three provinces away to British Columbia.

That first year I thought I’d be okay until I started hearing Christmas tunes everywhere. I’ll phone my cousin Susan, I thought. After all she’s alone too.

“Why don’t you and Brad come and have Christmas here on the Island?” she suggested. And I was determined to stick to this plan.

A few days later I heard the weatherman’s prediction. “We’re guaranteed to have a white Christmas this year.” He pointed to a low-pressure system that was sweeping across our province. “Tons of snow will make traveling hazardous.”

Unfortunately, Brad saw the weather report too. “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.”

Clearly he doesn’t understand, I thought. “No we have to…” My voice choked up. “It’s Christmas. We need to be with family.”

Not wishing to disappoint me, he said, “We’ll try.”

We made reservations with the ferry that would take us from the Mainland to the Island. I packed my bags and started the count down.

The day came and proved the weatherman’s prediction was accurate. It began snowing early in the morning and grew worse with each passing hour.

“I think we should phone Susan and cancel,” Brad said.

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

So grumbling to himself, against his better judgment and led only by his selfless desire to see me happy, Brad drove us to the ferry.

There was hardly anyone in the ferry terminal. The BC Ferries workers kept asking, “Are you sure you…”
Not allowing them even to finish their sentence, I defended my plan. “Yes, we’re sure.” We can’t be alone. It’s Christmas. We need to be with family.

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.

“You see we made it,” I said feeling triumphant.
Brad turned to me with steel eyes. “The ferry was only half the battle. The other half is that steep hill.” He pointed with his chin. “And it’s not going anywhere.”

“But…but you said we would try.”

“Yes, Shelley. I did.” By the way he said my name I knew he wasn’t filled with the Christmas spirit.

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

He did try. He tried three times, in fact, but the farthest he got was halfway up the hill. I visualized my three brothers pushing us up that hill.

“This time you’ll make it,” I heard them promise—I forced back tears.

But they weren’t there; Brad and I were alone. And I feared we would remain alone.

“You got any more brilliant ideas?” He asked after driving backwards over a 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’m not happy. But I got us into this mess. And I have to get us out. I know I’ll phone Susan. She’ll know what to do. I punched her number into my cellphone.

“I’d go and get you myself but my Toyota doesn’t like the 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 voicemail message wished me a Merry Christmas. The taxi driver laughed in my ear.
Brad was beginning to swear which I didn’t think was very Christmassy but had to admit was justified.

Desperate, I phoned Susan again. After all, she was older and wiser. I knew she’d have a solution. And she did.

“Hitchhike,” she said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. “What?”

“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 enough horror movies. But I had. And I knew what would happen if I followed her advice—Brad and I would end up dead or worse.

What’s that noise? I looked for the source. It was Brad. His teeth were chattering. I have to do something. Now. But what? We’re a steep hill away from Susan, a hotel, a restaurant and almost everything. I looked across the street. Everything but that grocery store. I saw three large trucks with snow tires parked in front of the store. One of those drivers will give us a ride.

“I’ll be right back.” I opened the car door.
“Wait. Where are you going?”

“To the grocery store.” I climbed out of the bucket seat.

“Why? We have chocolate bars.” He found his backpack behind his seat. With frozen fingers, he fumbled with the zipper but finally won. He pulled out the bars.
“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. I have no choice.

Large sleigh bells hung on the store’s door, they jiggled as the door closed behind me. It made me think of Christmas angels. I said a silent prayer, “Please, this has to work.”

I surveyed the store not for groceries but for an angel. A few aisles away a mother was talking with her teenage daughter. If anyone will help me, she will

“Please you have to help. My cousin is expecting me for Christmas but my car won’t climb the hill.” I was embarrassed that tears were rolling down my cheeks.

She didn’t know me. She’d never even seen me before. But it didn’t matter. It was Christmas. She made room in her truck for our luggage, my husband and me. And she drove us right to my cousin’s door.

Work in progress

No, Smoke the Other End

Goal:  12 - 20 k words
Current word count:  7,066 words

Excuse:  I'm slowing down to enjoy time with family and friends. : ) 
To write (well) you have to live.
Next post:  Please welcome Author Sharon A. Crawford

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Christmas Eve #photos

A Christmas eve in the life of Leanne Dyck
 I spent too much time here today. But what can I say? I love it.

 After a little decorating...

  it's time for a walk
The blue sky wears a thin, grey veil

 There's no snow
However, there is a chill in the air--just enough to wake me up, make me aware...

 that Christmas will so be here
(The deck of a local business is decked in spruce and bow)

 Holly grows in a neighbours yard

 A BC Ferries truck becomes a reindeer

 My friends and neighbours gather at the 'communal' Christmas tree
(I got about seven hugs this year. More next year I hope)

 The fire dies down so it's on to church

 Beautiful music provided by talented musicians

We all leave much wiser
and full of the Christmas spirit
Next post:  Christmas Angels on Salt Spring Island (a short story)

Reporting from the Yule Log

Here I am enjoying my second Christmas.

Christmas Eve 2010

Yule 2011

This holiday season I'm filled with such a sense of support. What I need surrounds me. All I have to do is ask. All I have to do is be present. And enjoy the opportunity to grow. And be at one with the wonder of it all.

Stay save
Be warm
Look for love
Look for acceptance
It's out there
It's waiting for you

Later tonight:  Photos shared of the day
Next post:  Christmas Angels on Salt Spring Island (short story)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Writing Comedy for Rapid Reads -- a Perfect Fit! by Melodie Campbell

“I had the flu once.  It was terrible.  I couldn’t eat a thing for three hours.”

I hope you giggled at that line.  I think it’s one of my best.  And yes, I am a tad fond of eating.  In fact, you could list it as my major hobby.

My name is Melodie Campbell, and I write comedies.  I got my start writing stand-up, and that led to a newspaper humour column and then fiction.

Sure I’d like to kick the habit and write a ‘real’ book with literary merit.

Okay, so that’s a lie.  Leave The Goddaughter behind?  Not write a sequel?  I’m starting to hyperventilate.  Actually, I love writing comedies.  It’s in my blood.


It’s true, usually.  Smart comedy is quick – it dashes in and out and takes you by surprise.

My latest book, The Goddaughter, is a Rapid Read from Orca Books.  Topping out at 19,000 words, it is technically a novella. 

Rapid Reads are a new and innovative line of paperbacks.  These are short novels for adults with specific guidelines: plots must happen in a linear fashion with no flashbacks. Language must be accessible - in fact, ‘plain language.’  This makes Rapid Reads perfect for adults who are learning English (ESL), reluctant readers, or anyone who wants a fast read.

Don Graves from The Hamilton Spectator calls the Rapid Reads line, “Go-train books.”  Other people take them on planes.

So when Orca publishers decided they wanted to add comedy to the line, I was invited to submit.  I had a reputation for quick, fast comedy that turned out to be perfect for the Rapid Reads guidelines.  I wrote several chapters of The Goddaughter and sent them in to the editor.  He came back with a contract, and I completed the book by last December.

Rapid Reads are books with a lot of plot.  It was a perfect match.  Why?

Comedy writers take a situation, and ask themselves ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now?’  And then, what’s the funniest?

What’s the worst thing that could happen to The Goddaughter when she is recruited to carry hot gemstones over the border?  Predictable would be: she gets caught at customs.  But I don’t want predictable.  I want funny.

Instead, they get stolen. By a complete amateur! It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. What the heck is she going to tell her uncle, the crime boss?

Nothing, of course.  She’s going to steal them back.  Or die trying.

And hopefully the audience will die laughing.

Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications and was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards. She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Library Journal says this about Melodie`s third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books):
``Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.``


Gina Gallo would like nothing better than to run her little jewelry shop.  Unfortunately, she’s also The Goddaughter, and, as she tells her new friend Pete, “you don’t get to choose your relatives.”  And you can’t avoid them when you live in Hamilton, and they more or less run the place.

When Gina is reluctantly recruited to carry hot gemstones across the border, the worst happens: they get stolen.  By a complete amateur!  It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.  Pete and Gina have no choice but to steal them back, even though philandering politicians, shoe fetishists and a trio of inept goons stand in their way. 
It’s all in a day’s work, when you’re The Goddaughter.

Short Excerpt from THE GODDAUGHTER

We got through the border with no problem at all.  Of course, it`s much easier to get through borders without a semi-frozen dead body pretending to be asleep in the back seat.

THE GODDAUGHTER is available in Chapters/Indigo stores and on Amazon

Follow Melodie’s comic blog at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Book Review: Mayne Island Skeletons by Amber Harvey

Mayne Island Skeletons is not only a fun read for children 9 to 12 years of age but it also teaches many valuable lessons—such as how to be a good friend.

Mary Magdalene Sommers’ mother is attentive and reliable; whereas, Brent Green is the son of a neglectful parent. Despite these differences, Magda values Brent’s friendship. She continues to believe in his good character even in the face of negative public opinion. In fact, she works tirelessly to prove his innocence and to secure his safety.

Through Magda’s example children are empowered to solve their own mysteries and resolve their own problems.

Thank you Amber Harvey for this uplifting read.

Author links

Amber's website:  Tree with Roots

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Free knitting pattern: ebook pocket designed by Leanne Dyck

Pat's eBook reader pouch
(I hope Pat likes it)

Fits standard eBook reader

A perfect project for new knitters. 

Knitting needles:  6.00 mm/ US 10 or size to obtain tension
and two double pointed needles to make I-cord loop
Yarn:  worsted weight (I recommend wool, wool/acrylic blends or acrylic--I used acrylic) approximately 50 grams
Stitch holder

Gauge:  4 stitches x 7 rows = one inch worked over Stockinette stitch

Double stitch pattern
(this stitch pattern is explained here)

seed stitch (worked over even number of stitches)
row 1:  knit one, purl one--to end of row
row 2:  purl one, knit one--to end of row
repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

Cast on 40 stitches
Work in double stitch pattern for 8 inches (20.32 centimeters)
Transfer all slipped stitches onto stitch holder
Cast off knit stitches
Transfer stitches onto needle.
Work in seed stitch for 2.5 inches (6.35 centimeters)
Cast off stitches, loosely

I-cord loop
(how to make I-cord explained here)
work I-cord until it measures 2 inches (5.08 centimeters)

Attach button and I-cord loop. Weave in ends.

Thank you, Pat, for inspiring this pattern.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Post: Author Joan Boswell

Creative writing began for me when I volunteered to keep organizational minutes and discovered that I had to creatively fill in the gaps when my attention left the room for long periods. A friend, a member of a mystery writers’ critiquing group, suggested I should join them and also become a member of Capital Crime Writers. I can’t emphasize how important the critiquing group was to me. Without their carefully considered comments and encouragement I would not have grown as a writer.

The critiquing group morphed into the Ladies’ Killing Circle, six women eventually responsible for editing seven collections of Canadian women’s mystery short stories.
This past summer at Scene of the Crime on Wolfe Island, the Ladies’ Killing Circle received the Derrick Murdock award honouring their contribution to Canadian women’s mystery writing. My first published story, ‘One Cold Cookie’, appeared in 1995 in the first volume, The Ladies’ Killing Circle.

Later I co-edited the last four anthologies. Reading submissions provided excellent training in recognizing good writing and pin pointing why some stories didn’t make the cut. Applying this to my own writing was very helpful. I also had short stories published in each anthology and in many other magazines and anthologies. In 2000 I won the $10,000 Toronto Star Short Story prize. This story in on my web site

As our group matured as writers some of us tried our hand at novels. My first, Cut Off His Tale, was published in 2005 by Napoleon RendezVous as were the next two, Cut to the Quick and Cut tothe Chase. The fourth book in the series, Cut to the Bone, is published by Dundurn.

I spent many years in university earning a BA, MA and PhD before returning and completing the course work for a Fine Arts Degree. I have had more than 10 solo shows and continue to paint and to work with textiles although for the last few years writing has taken more of my time.

For a few years I worked for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs as a researcher but once I returned to university to study fine arts I focussed on being creative.

I am a very visually oriented person and I see the scenes in my stories and books before I write them. In each of my books I deal with different social issues. In the most recent book the plight of Aboriginal women and their marginalization concerns me. Mysteries give me the opportunity to deal with social issues while always trying to entertain.

Cut to the Bone

It’s happened again! Hollis Grant, who has fashioned a new life for herself with a foster child, a puppy and a job as resident super of an eight story apartment building finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation when a fifth floor tenant, a woman working for an escort agency is murdered.  The detective in charge is Rhona Simpson a police officer with whom Hollis has crossed swords in the past. Hollis’s life is further complicated by the disappearance of an Aboriginal tenant who leaves her young niece behind and a message asking Hollis to care for her. Her search for the woman places her in grave danger. Meanwhile a woman’s body dumped in Lake Ontario leads back to the apartment building. Hollis narrowly escapes being the third victim and her quick thinking leads to a surprising solution to the case.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book Review: Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen

I enjoy reading award winning literature. This book won the Governor-general's award for fiction in 1998. 

I read this book, for the first time, approximately ten years. After reading it, I placed it on my bookshelf. There it waited until, one day, it called to me. 

"Re-read me," it said.

And, so, I did.

From the dust jacket:  'On an apparently typical Monday morning in April, a middle-aged writer goes into her living room to water the plants and finds a woman standing in front of the fig tree. The woman is wearing a navy blue trench coat and white Nikes. She has a white shawl draped over her hair and she is holding a large leather purse and a small black suitcase on wheels. She is the Virgin Mary. Invited to stay for lunch, Mary explains that, after 2,000 years of petition, adoration, and travelling, she is tired and needs some R&R. She ends up staying for one extraordinary and illuminating week.

So begins Diane Schoemperlen's profound and original novel.'

Our Lady Of The Lost and Found is about Jesus' mother Mary but much more than that. It's about the recounting of history--the fuzzy line between fact and fiction.

'[T]here is more to history than facts, more to truth than reality... [T]his is a piece of knowledge that will change your life if you let it.' (p. 118)

And more.

'I finally understand that my uncertainty and my doubt where gifts that made me the perfect candidate for faith... When faced with all these mysteries and questions, I wanted to be able to admit that I did not know how to make sense of it all that, in the end, my not knowing did not matter.' (p. 253)

It's about the writing process.

'Although I had written these lines just twenty-four hours earlier, they now made no sense to me at all. I remember being excited by them. But now I could not remember where I had imagined they might be leading, what I had thought they might eventually amount to.' (p. 276)

Possibly this book is like a wading pool. Kneel down, peer in--what you see depends on where you direct your eyes.
Work in progress
I'm still working on revisions for The Sweater Curse:  a novel. But I've also made some headway on some of my other projects...

A Woman Like Her (sequel to A Long Way From Her)
Goal:  50 k words
Current word count:  1,149 words

No, Smoke the Other End (mystery/comedy)
Goal:  12 - 20 k words
Current word count:  1,797 words

Baby steps. : )

Next post:  Please welcome author Joan Boswell

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas surprises

Christmas blessings... Christmas miracles...

Each year I wait for them. Each year I'm not disappointed.

This year is no different. Two have already happened and it's only December 10th.

I'll call the first occurrence:  room for me. The seeds were planted last month when I emailed the editor of the literary journal Canadian Stories

You see, I'd written an account of an island adventure that I thought he might be interested in. 

He wrote, I'll try and stuff your "Christmas Story" in somewhere.
The magazine is actually at the first draft stay but I'll work it. What's an editor for?

Canadian Stories arrived in the mail last Friday. I flipped through the pages, hunting for my story. I was thrilled when I found this...

 on page 63.

Thank you, Ed!

The second occurrence happened to my husband. But I planned a key role.  

You see, I wanted to participate in the Christmas Craft Fair but it was my turn to serve as church usher. That's right. Basically I wanted to be two places at one time. What to do? 

Hubby to the rescue.I asked him to fill in for me at the Craft Fair from 10 to 11 AM. 

(delicious preserves)

Now, he's never sat a booth before. And he wasn't thrilled about the idea. But I needed him and he said yes. 

(fashion-forward felt hats)

10 AM rolled around, I kissed him and promised that I'd be back as soon as I could.

(beautiful art)
How revealed do you think he was when I re-appeared fifteen minutes later?
(fun felted toys)
"What happened?" he asked.

"I got the dates wrong," I said. "I usher December 16th not 9th."

(well crafted leather work)
Christmas miracles. Watch for them. They'll happen to you, too.

(stylish pottery)

The merry marketers will be on the grounds of the Agricultural Society Hall on Mayne Island all summer long. Come to Mayne Island for the beauty. Shop for the must-haves. 
Next post:  Discussing the book Our Lady of the Lost and Found

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guest Post: Author Brenda Chapman

Brenda Chapman is author of the Jennifer Bannon mystery series for young adults. Hiding in Hawk's Creek, the second in the series was shortlisted by the Canadian Library Association for children's book of the year in 2006. Brenda has published several short stories in magazines, including Canadian Living, and in 2010 released In Winter's Grip, an adult murder mystery that the Globe and Mail calls "A fine debut for a talented writer". In 2011, Orca published The Second Wife in its popular Rapid Reads series for adults (Orca 2011); it was shortlisted for a Golden Oak award by the Ontario Library Association in 2012. Second Chances is a standalone young adult novel was published in September 2012 and Cold Mourning, the first in an adult mystery series will be published fall 2013, both from Dundurn.  Brenda recently signed a two-book contract with Grass Roots Press for a mystery series for adult learners. The first will be released fall 2013.

Brenda is a former teacher and currently works as a senior communications advisor in Ottawa. She is past president of Capital Crime Writers and continues to be active in the crime-writing community. For the past three years, she has been a judge in the Ottawa Public Library's Awesome Authors contest and received their Order of Friendship in 2010 for her volunteer work.

How/why did you start to write?

Like so many authors, my favourite subject in school was always writing class. I went on to study English literature at university and took a third-year creative writing course that focused on poetry and short story-writing. I absolutely loved it, but didn’t think I could make a living in creative writing. I went on to teachers’ college and worked in the special education field for about fifteen years before I found my way back to writing.

How did you become an author?

I had a difficult time reconciling in my psyche that I actually was an author. It’s not like there is one defining moment when someone gives you a degree or a plaque with your new job description. I thought  I’d automatically feel like an author when I became published, but even after seven books, I’m still sometimes surprised when someone introduces me as one. Writing was always such a personal endeavour for me, and I’ve been doing it all of my life, whether it was school assignments, a diary, poems or letters home. I also read voraciously throughout my life and in retrospect, believe that this was all part of my apprenticeship.

What was your first published piece?

I wrote a series of humorous short stories about being home with my two young daughters for a local publication called Homebase. There was no money involved, just a lot of personal satisfaction. My first paid piece was in the magazine Canadian Living in 2001. I was paid $300 and signed a contract.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

My English lit studies, including research and essay-writing were a great training ground. Teaching taught me to prepare lesson plans and to organize a project, all helpful in laying out a manuscript. Around the same time I began writing novels, I started as a writer/editor in the federal government. This involved relearning all the high school grammar and learning to write in a tight, precise style. I currently work as a senior communications advisor, a job I would not have gotten if I hadn’t been able to write and communicate effectively.

What inspires you?

Good writing and novels that keep me reading long into the night are my best inspiration. I also become reenergized talking to other authors and people who love books. Another source of inspiration is music. Music can move me and listening to some of the music from my youth brings back memories and feelings that I can bring into my writing.

You’ve written for both young adult and adult markets. Recently, you published The Second Wife, a mystery for adult learners. Is it hard to write for different markets?

I enjoy the challenge of writing in different formats for adults and youth. It’s a way of stretching my writing chops and growing as a writer. Sometimes, a story idea will better suit one age group over another, and I’ve been lucky to be able to successfully switch back and forth. The difficulty comes in marketing and it would be easier to establish myself in one area.  Luckily, I have a base of readers who welcome everything I produce!

What are you working on now?

I’ll be sticking with adult mysteries for the foreseeable future. I currently have contracts for three novels – Cold Mourning is a full-length mystery set in Ottawa and will be released by Dundurn in fall 2013; My Sister's Keeper is a shorter mystery for adult learners or those wanting a quick, fun read and it will be published by Grass Roots Press, also in fall 2013. I’m currently working on sequels for each series.

Please share one of your successful author platform building techniques.

Social media is key to building a platform and getting people to notice your work. My efforts go into Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and a blog. I’ve also hired my colleague at work who works in the creative services to make videos of some of the events I’ve been involved in. He’s currently putting together a video of my launch for my latest release Second Chances.

Parting words

The moment I knew I had to try writing a book came when a friend was telling me about somebody they knew who published their first book. I felt such an overwhelming jealousy that they’d written a book that I realized how much I longed to do the same thing. I wrote without worrying about being published and still do to this day although having my manuscript accepted is an objective, certainly. The important thing to remember though is that writing in and of itself is a reward. The rest is just icing.


Second Chances is a coming of age story set against the historical backdrop of “peace, love, rock and roll” and the Vietnam War. It is a tale of family loyalties, lost innocence and the teenage search for meaning in a world increasingly difficult to understand.
Follow this link to learn more about this book

Author links:

Twitter:  brendaAchapman

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Marketing Achievements by Leanne Dyck

One of my duties as an author is to work in partnership with my book publisher to develop and implement a marketing plan. I have experience marketing my books and find it, on the whole, to be a fun and rewarding endeavour.

(These photos were taken while I was on Bowen Island)

As a self-published author, I...

-Planned and implemented a book launch that combined local musicians with author readings.
-Organized and conducted a book tour to Manitoba
-Sold directly to readers and booksellers
-Developed and delivered lectures and author readings
-Participated in radio, in print and on-line promotional activities
-Developed promotional material

As an author published through a small e-publishing house, I...

-Planned and implemented an on-line book launch
-Participated in a virtual blog tour
-Developed and ran a series of podcasts
-Created a blog 
-Sat on panels for the Crime Writers of Canada
-Helped sit a booth during Vancouver's Word on the Street
-Developed a book club reading guide
-Developed and delivered a lecture based on my book

I believe it is my responsibility to develop my marketing skills. To this end, in 2011 I attended a Writers Union of Canada seminar on How To Be Your Own Publicist. I continue to seek out opportunities to develop my marketing skills.

My experiences have taught me that the best way to build an author platform is through social media. When you use the search words 'Leanne Dyck' all first-page references pertain to me.

Contrarily, participating in live events is the most effective way to sell books. I sold the largest volume of books after giving an author reading. 

The most effective marketing plan includes both live and online activities.