Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Finding a publisher for your short story by Leanne Dyck

(google image)

Seeking the all-powerful wizard, I climbed the mountain. I confronted the ferocious dragon and won. All so that I could ask my question, “Oh, great wizard who will publish my short story?”

Great wizards...

The New York Centre for Independent Publishers

Canadian authors 

There are three types of submissions…
Traditional:  the publisher pays you so they may publish your story
Contest:  In most cases, you pay an entry fee. If you win the contest, your story is published.
Contribution: No money changes hands. Your story is published and promoted.

One publisher may accept one, two, or three types of submissions.

A word of caution:  ensure that the publisher is legitimate by purchasing their publication and, or inspecting their web site.

Monday, February 27, 2012

knitting: easy children's sweater by Leanne Dyck

This cute sweater is easily knit by most with basic knitting skills. 

Chest:  20 (22, 24, 26) inches
50 [55, 60, 66] cm
Length: 10 inches [25 cm]
Sleeves: 8 inches [20 cm]

Knitting needles
4.5mm/US 7/UK 7 OR size to obtain gaugeeight

worsted weight
approximately 400 yards [365.76 metres]

4 stitches = one inch over garter stitch

garter stitch
Knit every row

Note:  Sweater is knit from bottom up.
Sleeve is knit from top to cuff

Cast on 48 (56, 60, 64) stitches
Work in garter stitch for 10 inches [25 cm]
Cast off

Follow instructions for Back

Sleeve (make 2)
Cast on 40 stitches
Work in garter stitch for 8 inches [20 cm]
Cast off loosely

Attach Back to Front at Cast off row by sewing a 2-inch [5.08 cm] seam from edge of knitted body to centre.
Attach sleeves
Sew side seams
Weave in ends

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#writing: Ponderings...

A writer's duty is to write and submit for the sake of those who will follow, for our readers, and for the power of our words.
Next post:  discussing Slow Dance

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ending your career in knitwear design by Leanne Dyck

(photo from Google images)

In January 2011, I had over twenty designs in my collections and my knitting needles were loaded with stitches. In fact, the only thing that had changed was that, with the publication of The Sweater Curse, I had become an ebook publishing house author.

So, why did I close my knitwear design business?

I can answer this with one word—focus. I was determined to focus on building my writing career.

Back in October 2010, I had made a pact—with myself—to submit one story every month. That strategy had helped me place The Sweater Curse. While I was scaling this mountain I continued to work on my knitwear design career. Serving two masters was exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The decision to close my business wasn’t easy. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed. It’s silly what junk a self-conscious can feed you. However, whether or not I bought into this falsehood was up to me and—after giving my head a shake—I decided that I couldn’t afford to.

I didn’t fail, I told myself. I’ve evolved. I’ve grown from a knitwear designer who writes to an author who knits.

I’ve benefited from my years as a knitwear designer. I've amassed a fortune. These riches include...
-a supportive community
-knowledge about the field
-a popular website which has evolved with me
-ten years of knitting-themed writing

I hope you will travel with me as I continue to evolve.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

#photos: murals

I found them in Winnipeg, Manitoba

and in Eriksdale, Manitoba

 as well as on Mayne Island

They hang as a proud tribute to the place, the people and the artists.
Next post:  Please welcome author Lorraine Nelson

Monday, February 13, 2012

Establishing your career in knitwear design by Leanne Dyck

Congratulations you've reached the middle of your career.

By this time...

1. You've built or are building a website, blog, and social network
(By social network, I mean a twitter id and Facebook community, etc.)

2. You are doing at least one thing every single day to promote your business

3. You wear your own designs
Wearing your designs is important for three reasons
a)it's a good way to market your designs
b)it helps you find designs flaws
c)it helps you envision new design directions

4. You always carry a business card and distribute it freely. 

5. You sell online
a)over your own website
b)a third party website (i.e. Etsy)
c)Your patterns are featured on knitting ezines (i.e. Knitty)
6. You've made connections with the editors of in print knitting magazines (i.e. A Needle Pulling Thread, etc.)

7. You have a three-prong approach to your business
a)you sell knitting patterns
b)you conduct workshops
c)you sell your knitting through galleries

8. You're mentoring with a knitwear designer you meet at a workshop

9. You're assisting a local wool producer by developing designs with her wool

10. You're continuing to build your community of support

11. You do a monthly assessment of your business to determine what's working and what isn't. (By working I mean you enjoy it and it makes you money.) After your assessment, you make necessary adjustments to your business plan.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Post: Author Robin Spano

How/why did you start to write?

I started writing when I was a kid. I think it's always been my favorite way to make sense out of human traits that baffle me, like greed or pettiness or people acting out of short-sighted self-interest. Whether the confusing trait is in myself or in someone else, I've always found fiction a good way to explore it in a safe – and generally entertaining – way.

How did you become an author?

I wrote a book from start to finish – as in, I found a premise that compelled me forward and kept me at my desk, because it was fun to write. I then connected that manuscript with a publisher – a cool and quirky guy at the other end of an email in Toronto.

What was your first published piece?

Dead Politician Society. (My first novel.) I know you're supposed to start with short stories and literary journals and stuff, but I never got that memo. I was clueless about the writing industry until I had to dive into it.

Where was it published?

ECW Press – a Toronto publisher I really like working with.

How long ago?

September 2010

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

I waitressed and bartended for years after dropping out of university. This was a good job for me – it got me out of my introverted shell and taught me how to interact with a huge range of people. To do the job well, you have to find real things to like about the people you're serving and working with – genuine points of connection go a long way toward making people comfortable. I credit this with helping me write multiple point of view characters with a range of ages and backgrounds.

What inspires you?

Morning. I wake up excited to get to my computer, to check in with my characters in that half-fresh, half-still dreamy brain state. I get pretty grumpy if someone gets in my path to my computer first thing. Though if my husband is around I will make him a latte first. He's worked hard to help me create this writing life; I like to send him off to work feeling well looked-after.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Playing cards for Death Plays Poker. I give cards away at signings and events, and I'll mail packs to people who post honest reviews online.

They're a popular gimmick because they're both useful (people play with them) and relevant to the book. And they're a promotion that keeps on giving – ideally, when a reader cracks out the deck to play cards with them, their friends will say, “Hey, what's that book about?”

Parting words

If you're in Toronto on November 24th, consider yourself invited to the launch party for Death Plays Poker, hosted by ECW Press at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St. 6-8 p.m.

And if you'd like a pack of playing cards, feel free to get in touch!

Author links:

Twitter: @Robin_Spano

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reading with Dyslexia by Leanne Dyck

Dyslexia doesn't need to be overcome. I don't need to be cured. There's nothing wrong with my brain. It doesn't need to be fixed.
It took me (too) many years to come to this realization. As a young writer, I felt my ability to write or even to navigate through life was reliant on someone else. I didn't trust my own abilities to find solutions or to adapt. This is ironic because problem solving is where dyslexics excel.
Dyslexia isn't a disease--it's a way of thinking. We have abilities and limitations. An area of frustration is language, are words. It takes me, on average, about three months to read a paperback.
Why do I bother?
I read because...
-I love stories
-I enjoy exploring concepts and ideas
-I like meeting and getting to know characters
-I like connecting the dots of plot

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How do you spell disabled? by Leanne Dyck

As a young writer, I would often ask, "Mom, how do you spell ___?"
She'd happily spell the required word.
It wasn't until I meet my husband that I learnt most words were spelt, 'd-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-y'.
He wanted me to find my own solutions. He believed I could.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beginning a career in knitwear design by Leanne Dyck

Recently, I led a discussion regarding The Beginning, Middle and End of a career in Knitwear Design.

Where did I acquire my knowledge on this topic?

Well, my career began in August, 2002 and ended in January, 2011. During this time I was a member of the Canadian Knitwear Designers and Artisans as well as the Knitwear Designer Association. I have over 25 designs in my collection. I sold patterns to knitters from Canada, USA, the UK, Japan, Israel and Australia. Designs were featured in A Needle Pulling Thread craft magazine, Accord Publishing's Knitting Calendars and Knit Together (a knitting magazine no longer being published).

Some tips for beginning a career in knitwear design

think of yourself as an apprentice
-learn as much as you can about the craft from a variety of sources
one-on-one from other knitters/knitwear designers/yarn producers
-develop a system for recording and collecting your design ideas
-gleam inspiration from a variety of needlecrafts
-assemble resources (books, websites)

as you attend workshops
 -network with knitters/knitwear designers/yarn producers/magazine publishers
-have a 'community building' or win-win mindset
-take note of the most popular workshops
file this information away for the future when you will be offering your own workshops

When you begin to write your patterns seek the assistance of knitters. They are invaluable resources to proofread your patterns.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Guest Post Author Mary Sharratt

How/why did you start to write?

I was just out of college and living in Innsbruck, Austria, teaching English at a girls’ boarding school run by Ursuline nuns. It was very Sound of Music: alps, nuns, kids, and me. Alas, it was very quiet in the evenings and I didn’t have a television and I soon ran out of books to read, so I started writing the first draft of my very first novel longhand in a spiral notebook I kept in my sock drawer. Twelve years later, the much edited draft was published as my first book, Summit Avenue, in 2000.

How did you become an author?

I fell in love with writing and I couldn’t stop. It took over my life. I’m not happy unless I’m writing. If you do something long enough, with enough passion and commitment, you will reach your breakthrough. It was a long hard road to publication but I’ve never looked back.

What was your first published piece?

I wrote short stories for the feminist journal Hurricane Alice, which has sadly ceased publication. Lots of my early fiction was published in these “little magazines” that flourished before the internet took over everything.

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

I taught English as a foreign language in Austria and later in Germany, in the Munich area. I worked very odd hours, teaching at firms like Agfa and Siemens very early in the morning and then teaching evening classes at the local adult education facilities, so I had this huge gap in between when I could write and dream. Living in a foreign country helped, too. As an expat, everything was always new and strange and it made me very mindful about all aspects of life and human behavior.

What inspires you?

Social history, how ordinary people lived in the past, how they related with the landscape they lived in, what mark they left behind. A lot of historical fiction centers on lords and ladies, kings and queens, but I want to write a more inclusive historical fiction, about common people and their lives and yearnings.

In writing Daughters of the Witching Hill, about the Pendle Witches of 1612, I wanted to take these maligned women who suffered and died on account of other people’s ignorance, turn the tables around, and allow them to tell their own story. I wanted to give these historical cunning women and healers what their own world denied them—their own voice.

I truly believe in story-telling and historical fiction as a conduit for ancestral memory.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Blog tours have been successful. I also love going on old fashioned book tours and meeting people live and in person in real brick-and-mortar indy bookstores. I love going out and meeting my readers face to face. Visiting book clubs in person is really fun, much more intimate and interactive than the average reading. You get to hear what readers *really* think and if they get behind your book, it’s the best advertising you can get.

Parting words

If you want to have a career as a published writer, never give up. The only failed writer is the one who stops writing! Love what you do. The process of writing is everything and no one can take that away from you.

Mary Sharratt is an American writer living in the Pendle region of Lancashire, Northern England. Her acclaimed novel of the Pendle Witches, Daughters of the Witching Hill, is now out in paperback. Illuminations, her new novel exploring the life of visionary abbess and polymath, Hildegard von Bingen, will be released in 2012. Visit Mary’s website: http://www.marysharratt.com/ and don’t miss her six minute video docudrama on the Pendle Witches, shot live on location around Pendle Hill. 

Link to six minute video docudrama about the Pendle Witches, shot live on location around Pendle Hill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT-In065-gA

Book description:

“What an original voice Mary Sharratt has. She brings a haunting, ancient story — part of the local legend and history of where she lives — into life with vivid characters and a gripping plot. Old, lost, long-ago ways are made real.”
—Karleen Koen, author of Through a Glass Darkly and Before Versailles

Daughters of the Witching Hill brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching account of a family sustained by love as they try to survive the hysteria of a witch-hunt.
Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow living in Pendle Forest, is haunted by visions and gains a reputation as a cunning woman. Drawing on the Catholic folk magic of her youth, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future. As she ages, she instructs her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft, as well as her best friend, who ultimately turns to dark magic. When a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate, eager to make his name as a witch finder, plays neighbors and family members against one another until suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights.
Sharratt interweaves well-researched historical details of the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt with a beautifully imagined story of strong women, family, and betrayal. Daughters of the Witching Hill is a powerful novel of intrigue and revelation.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

#photos: on the ferry

I continue to wheel my camera with abandon. Recently, my camera and I were on one of the BC ferries' smallest--the Mayne Queen.

I was heading home after a fun day off island. Where had I been? What did I do?
Ah, my friend, all will be revealed on Monday.
Next post:  Please welcome Author Mary Sharratt