Friday, November 30, 2012

Guest Post Author Vicki Delany

How/why did you start to write?

My writing career essentially began when I decided one year to write a children’s story for each of my daughters for Christmas. I wrote a story with them as the main character, printed them out, tied them in a red ribbon and gave them to the girls.  Thinking I might like to write for children I took a creative writing class at the local community college. I quickly realized I wasn’t interested in children’s writing.   

But I was enjoying the course and I liked the idea of being a writer so decided to try my hand at a few short stories and eventually a novel.   Mysteries, of course, because that’s what I like to read.

How did you become an author?

A lot of hard work, and a lot of rejection.  I did the rounds of trying to get an agent and publisher and eventually I landed at Poisoned Pen Press which published Scare the Light Away in 2005.  The following year, they published Burden of Memory, which was actually written before Scare the Light Away, but they weren’t taking submissions when Burden was first written.  I am still with Poisoned Pen Press and they have just published my eighth book with them, a standalone gothic thriller titled More than Sorrow.  I also write the Klondike Gold Rush series for Dundurn.

What was your first published piece?

A short story titled My Seat.  Which is a mystery story set on the Go Train into Toronto.  My Seat was a runner-up for the Bony Pete contest given out at Bloody Words, the Canadian mystery conference.

Where was it published?

It was first published in a book of short stories titled Bloody Words: The Anthology, a collection of winners of the Bony Pete.

How long ago?

The anthology came out in 2003, but the story was written in 2000.

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

I was a computer programmer and a systems analyst. All of which had no effect whatsoever on my writing.

What inspires you?

Good books!  I am a firm believer, and I try to impress this on my students at the many workshops I give, that if you want to be a writer you have to write. And you have to read. And read a lot.

How many books have you published now? What type of books are
you writing?

I have twelve published novels so far, including a Rapid Reads book. I write crime novels, and I define that much broader than the standard “murder mystery”. I am best known for my Constable Molly Smith series, a police procedural series set in the B.C. Interior (which has been optioned for TV!) but I also write the light-hearted Klondike Gold Rush books, as well as standalone suspense that have been called modern gothic thrillers. 

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

I am not entirely sure what an author platform is.  I often do a blog-post run-up to the release of a new book.  Once a week, for about three months before the release of Gold Mountain, I wrote a short essay on some interesting aspect of the Klondike Gold Rush, with lots of pictures.  I did the same about the Loyalists (refugees from the United States after the American Revolution) in the run-up to the release of More than Sorrow, because that book has a backstory about the Loyalists who settled Prince Edward County, Ontario.  People were interested in the stories behind the books. My personal blog is titled One Woman Crime Wave ( . Drop by and say hi.

Parting words

Read my books!  If you want a peek, or to learn more about me please visit my web page at

Vicki’s newest novel is More than Sorrow, which received a starred review from Library Journal, calling it “a splendid Gothic Thriller.”  New York Times bestselling author Susanna Kearsley said, “Atmosphere as chilling as the subtle roll of mist across a field.”

Once, Hannah Manning was an internationally-renowned journalist and war correspondent.  Today, she’s a woman suffering from a traumatic brain injury.  Unable to read, unable to concentrate, full of pain, lost and confused, haunted by her memories, Hannah goes to her sister’s small-scale vegetable farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario to recover. 
As summer settles on the farm, she finds comfort in the soft rolling hills and neat fields as well as friendship in the company of Hila Popalzai, an Afghan woman also traumatized by war.

Unable to read the printed word, Hannah retreats into the attic and boxes of mouldy letters that have accumulated for more than two centuries.  As she learns about the original settlers of this land, Loyalist refugees fleeing the United States in 1784, she is increasingly drawn to the space beneath the old house.  More than carrots and potatoes, soups and jams, are down in the dark damp root cellar.

Hannah experiences visions of a woman, emerging from the icy cold mist. Is the woman real? Or the product of a severely damaged brain?

Which would be worse?

Then Hila disappears. When Hannah cannot account for her time, not even to herself, old enemies begin to circle. 

In this modern Gothic novel of heart-wrenching suspense, past and present merge into a terrifying threat to the only thing Hannah still holds dear – her ten-year-old niece, Lily.

twitter: @vickidelany

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Writers' Retreat memories by Leanne Dyck

In November (22 to 25), 2012, I attended the Federation of BC Writers writers' retreat. 

Located high on a mountain on Denman Island, this retreat included a blue pencil critique as well as an opportunity to share our writing. It was well worth attending.

Part of the fun was the journey... 

Our first stop...

Lunch with friends
(Gail Woodward, Amber Harvey, Doreen Dyck (our driver and my mother-in-law), me and Robin Spano (who meet us at the restaurant)

Walking the labyrinth (Thanks to Crystal Favel for this photo and the one below)

Back row:  Amber Harvey, Kelly Dycavinu, Patricia Dobie, Rosemary Rigsby, Crystal Favel
Front row:  Pandora Ballard, me (Leanne Dyck), Ben Nuttall-Smith, Gail Woodward

Where the magic happened

Each night we were invited to read our work. I read a flash fiction piece the first night; a short story and poem on the second night. I was delighted to have such a supportive and attentive audience.
(Thanks to Pandora Ballard for this photo and the one below)

I appreciate Ben Nuttall-Smith taking the time and trouble to fine tune my writing. His pencil moved skillfully through my manuscript adding clarity and removing "fatty" extra words. I know I will continue to benefit from his guidance.

Retreat organizer Pandora Ballard and Federation of BC Writers vice-president Ben Nuttall-Smith worked tirelessly on behalf of the group. The retreat was a great success and I look forward to next year.

My room contained a comfortable bed and a large desk. What more could my muse and I ask for?

After four days I missed my husband but really didn't want to leave.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Leanne Dyck's author interview

A friend recently said, "Leanne, I think you should start doing interviews."

Inspired by this comment, I offer this post...

Have I been interviewed?

Yup. I've been interviewed in The Mayne Liner Magazine (Mayne Island's monthly magazine), 

Aqua:  Gulf Islands Living (the Southern Gulf Island's quarterly magazine), 

The Island Independent (the Southern Gulf Island's newspaper)

The Interlake Spectator (Manitoba's Interlake regional newspaper)

and online by other authors. I answered questions such as...

When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?

I realized I wanted to be an author in my teens. However, instead of pursuing this goal, I built an ever-growing list of reasons why I could never fulfill this dream.


In an attempt to attract surfers to my knitwear design website, I began featuring short stories on my blog. I got more hits from these stories than any other post.

Even though, I didn’t know I was an author my readers did.

What do you consider the most important elements of good writing?

As a writer, I enter into a contract with my reader. It is my responsibility to entertain. If I deliver, the reader agrees to keep reading.

Any additional advice for those who are still unpublished?

 Make a daily commitment to write, read and work on your business. Believe in the power of your words and others will as well.

Tell us a bit about your book--something you wouldn't find in the blurb.

Something you won’t find in the blurb, eh? Well, how about this. The Sweater Curse could serve as your introduction to the rich Icelandic-Canadian culture.

What would constitute your own personal happily ever after?

Living on a beautiful island, daily engaged in my passion, I think I may be living my happy ending.

Have you ever battled with any of your characters over their personality traits?  If so, who won – you or the character?

I have. They won. It is, after all, their story.

Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?  How did you handle the rejections?

A rejection isn’t necessarily a devaluation of the story, but rather, sometimes, simply, a declaration of lack of fit. This lacking may be due to a variety of reasons.
It is my job as a writer to craft a quality manuscript and to market it effectively. All I need to find is one yes. Rejection may guide me in this process.
The old maxim rings true—every no brings you closer to a yes.

Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a flexible plotter.
In my teens, I wrote never-ending stories. Fearful of similar outcomes, I like to start with a plan. My muse grants me permission to change this plan as often as I wish.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: Hearts In Atlantis by Stephen King

From the back of the book:
 As the characters in Hearts In Atlantis are tested in every way, King probes and unlocks, the secrets of his generations for us all. Full of danger, full of suspense, and most of all full of heart, Stephen King's new book (released in 1999) will take some readers to a place they have never been...and others to a place they have never been able to leave completely.'

What attracted me to this book:  -the book was written by one of my favourite authors.
-the central theme (1960s)

My thoughts:  Hearts In Atlantis is a cleverly designed story. The four chapters--1960, 1966, 1983, 1999--could read like stand-alone short stories and novellas. What weaves them together are relatable characters. Like the master storyteller he is, King isn't afraid to waltz between first and third person point of view as he moves from chapter to chapter. Chapter one and three read like a Stephen King story. What I mean is that he sets you firmly in reality and then takes you to places you could never go without his help. Chapter two and four have surprises of their own but your feet never leave the ground. Thank you, Mr. King for this entertaining read.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Post: Knitwear Designer/Author Kate Atherley

Who taught you to knit?

My grandmother, Hilda Lowe. Hilda was a life-long knitter. I don’t really remember learning to knit, just that I used to do it at her side. I suspect I learned by osmosis!

What knitting method do you use? Continental? English? Or...?

Predominantly an English knitter, but I work Fair Isle two-handed, and when confronted with large swathes of garter stitch, will often switch over to Continental.

What is your favourite stitch pattern?

I love tricky lace patterns – the more complicated the better.

Why do you enjoy working Fair Isle knits?

It’s like colouring for grown-ups!

What is your favourite yarn?

I have a soft spot for mohair. I love it in sock yarns because it’s so very very warm (and my feet are very very cold), and I love the big fluffy puffy colourful chunky weight mohair.

Is there a needle size that you prefer? Bamboo, plastic or steel needles?

I’m a sock knitter: my favourite needles are my 6 inch 2.5mm Signature DPNs.

What is your favourite item to knit?

As above: socks. If I want something comforting and easy, it’s a stocking stitch sock in a self-striping yarn all the way. If I want something toothy, I love complicated socks: cables, lace, colorwork. I do a lot of knitting out of the house: on public transport, in pubs and restaurants, as a passenger in the car, and socks are very portable.

Where is your favourite place to knit?

Two places: Sitting on the sofa in our basement, the dog snuggled between me and my hubby, watching something good on TV, with a cup of tea at hand. My second favourite place to knit is the streetcar: I have a long commute to one of my regular teaching gigs, and I enjoy very much getting a window seat, listening to music on my headphones, knitting away and enjoying the view as the city goes by. The first is comfier, but the second location has better light!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a set of lace sock and fingerless mitt designs... very excited about them!

Why did you become a knitwear designer?

Because I have small feet. I bought Nancy Bush’s seminal book Folk Socks when it was first published in the late 1990s. Ms. Bush generally only provides one size for a sock pattern, and I found myself needing to make alterations to the patterns to ensure they fit. Here I am, 15 years later, resizing socks for a living!

Tell me about your first pattern.

I’m not sure I remember my first... I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, and I started designing patterns for sale at the stores I teach at. One of my earliest patterns was a Santa Hat, which I still love.

Where did it appear--on your website, in a magazine or ezine?

For the first few years, I published patterns only for sale in the stores I taught at; it wasn’t until Spring 2005 issue of Knitty that I had anything published to a broader audience. My first Knitty article was ‘Socks 101’.  I’ve published a number of articles and designs in Knitty and other magazines since then, including Interweave Sockupied, Creative Knitting and others – and written my own book!
(For details about Kate's book--including a buy link--please scroll down to the bottom of this post.)

Do you attend fibre festivals? 

Living in Toronto, I’m lucky enough to have access to two excellent festivals close by: the Toronto Downtown Knit Collective Knitter’s Frolic in the spring, and the Kitchener Waterloo Knitter’s Guide Knitter’s Fair in the fall. They are both excellent places to see, fondle and purchase knitterly goodies. I’ve also been attending Rhinebeck recently – an incredible event.

Have you taught knitting classes? Where? When?

All the time. I teach five or six times a week at stores, events, conferences and fibre festivals. This fall alone I’ve got a full schedule in Toronto area stores, and I’m off to teach at Toronto’s Creativ (*yes, it is spelled like that*) Festival, at Vancouver’s Knit Social Event, at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago, and Interweave KnitLab in San Mateo. I love teaching, and I believe strongly that it’s made me a better designer and pattern editor. Talking to knitters of all experience levels every day shows me what knitters want to knit, and teaches me what knitters enjoy, what they struggle with, and what they want to do.

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

That I’m doing what I love.


Creativity is challenging; I have to remind myself often that the work itself is difficult. Designing is a process of trial and error: sketch, swatch, knit, examine, adjust and repeat until you have what you want.  The initial idea can be easy: refining it to be something wonderful is the challenging – but very rewarding part. 

Blurb:  Beyond Knit and Purl is designed to be the book that takes you from being confident about your needles to being confident about patterns. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Stone Heart (short story) by Leanne Dyck

An original folk tale about beauty and love.

A Stone Heart

The richest man in the entire world had two possessions he valued among all others. A dome roofed gilded cage contained a gold harp. A woman with a shapely figure, flowing hair and dress was carved on the front of the harp. The harp produced such glorious music that grown men swept and the damned dreamed of heaven. She sat on the fireplace mantle and sang through an open window. Her song was of longing for the world she was unable to explore. And gradually, day after day, the want of sun-lite, green meadows turned her heart to stone.

Across from her on a dark brown mahogany sideboard, angled into the room, stood a tin solider. He wore a uniform of war and in his hands he held a gun. They said that if you gazed upon him with a week mind or heart, a bullet would travel from his gun and pierce your skin. That single shot would kill you instantly. From his vantage point the solider caught sight of the harp and never let her go. Some believed his heart was made of tin. And such may have been the case but never the less it did beat; he did feel--and though the object of his desire was all he saw; he feared he would never possess her. In fact, he feared she would never even acknowledge his existence. He judged her by her song; by her appearance and believed she was beautiful. But it was only an illusion. The beauty he saw was in his heart.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Photos of a Christmas craft show on Mayne Island

November 10 was bright and sunny--a wonderful day to shop local for Christmas...

(Okay, so there's a reason why I'm not a reporter. Two reasons actually. Number one there's were many more booths then photos. Also names have never stuck in my brain. Even names of people that I know well. All I can say is, I'm sorry.)

 (Danielle's healthy treasures)

 (Amber's fun hats and must-read children's books)

 (David's wrap them around my waist belts)

 (Eden's nostalgia inspired purses and totes. Very cool and I want several.)

 (Diane's delicious preserves.)
 (beautiful jewelry. Some day I'm going to purchase one of those striking necklaces)

 (Wayne's wood cravings)

 (Celia's wonderful creations)

(Sonya's Harley Davidson Christmas stocking)

If you missed the sale, don't fret they'll be another in December.
More, more, more...
Mayne Island blogs
Farm Gate Chats