Friday, October 31, 2014

Guest Post: Ronsdale Press

Thanks to Leanne for giving us the opportunity to post on her blog!

(It's my pleasure. I'm looking forward to learning more about Ronsdale Press.)

Ronsdale Press was founded in 1988. We are a literary publishing house that publishes fiction, poetry, regional history, biography and autobiography, and books for young readers.

-This is a challenging time to be a publisher. How is Ronsdale Press uniquely equipped to meet these challenges?

It’s a challenging time, but also an exciting time. The expansion of ebooks and online vendors is certainly changing the publishing landscape, and it’s interesting to be a part of it all. I think that mindset—that we are eager to find ways to not just “cope” but to excel in this new era of publishing—is essential.
We publish almost all our new books in ebook format, stay active on social medial and embrace sites like 49th Shelf, All Lit Up, and Goodreads. Our staff routinely takes part in professional development seminars to further our education in these areas. We are also in the process of working with a print on demand company to more efficiently print and ship our titles to customers abroad.
And while the medium may be shifting, the content largely remains the same—and readers want good content. Publishing prominent writers like Jack Hodgins, and award-winners like Pamela Porter and Richard Wagamese, is a giant first step in meeting these challenges.

-I understand that Ronsdale press is a Canadian publisher, what unique benefits and challenges do this present?

An obvious challenge is that many great Canadian writers don’t receive the same “buzz” that an American author might, limiting our exposure to the casual reader. But that just means we have to work a little harder promoting our authors, and groups like the Literary Press Group and others are making progress on that front.
An enormous benefit is the wealth of amazing writers here in Canada. We’ve published a great many non-fiction books and biographies, too, which would not be possible without Canada’s fascinating stories and story makers. 
-How does Ronsdale Press market its books? Does it have a global reach?

Essentially, with the internet and technology of today, we have achieved global reach. While we focus our marketing efforts in North America and the United Kingdom, we do provide direct sales to customers from anywhere (anywhere we can ship to, that is). A few recent examples include India, South Africa and Korea. Printing on-demand in foreign countries will greatly help this effort.
-How do you market your books?

We advertise in both local and national media, and send review copies to reviewers across Canada and the United States (and sometimes abroad). We are active on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our own website, as well as with our monthly newsletter. Ronsdale and our authors participate in book launches, fairs, festivals, signings and readings.
-Please describe a typical workday at Ronsdale Press.

Like many independent publishers in Canada today, we have a small office with a limited staff. A “Publishing Assistant” in today’s industry wears many hats: secretary, marketing co-ordinator, copy editor, publicity manager, head of the shipping department, and many more.

-Do you publish print, ebooks or both?

We publish both print copies and ebooks of almost all our new titles. We have also converted a great many of our backlist titles to ebook format and continue to do so.

-Please lead us through Ronsdale Press's author submission process...

We accept manuscripts from Canadian writers, both emerging and established, as per our submission guidelines. We review all manuscripts that arrive and strive to reply within 2-3 months. Our readers review the submissions and make their recommendations to the acquisitions editor, who makes the final decision. We will then reply to the author with our decision and include any relevant feedback regarding their work.

-How do you choose the authors you publish?

First and foremost, the manuscript must good fit for Ronsdale and one that we can promote successfully. We need the author to be able to promote their own work, too. As the face of Canada changes, we are increasingly looking out for multicultural writers. And as our mandate states, we are “dedicated to publishing books from across Canada, books that give Canadians new insights into themselves and their country.”

-Please walk us through the process of publishing a book...

After accepting a manuscript, we work with the author to edit their book to a publishable standard. Our designer creates for us a cover and bookmark for the title. When editing is complete, we send it to the typesetter. We proofread the typeset copy very carefully at least once more before sending it to the printer. Meanwhile, early promotion is underway and we communicate with our sales reps about how many copies we should print. The book is then printed and distributed to the bookstores, where we hope they sell, sell, sell!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book review: Bag of Bones by Stephen King

I can think of few better ways to celebrate this special time of the year than by reading a book by Stephen King.

Blurb form the back of the book:  Four years after the sudden death of his wife, forty-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan is still grieving. Unable to write, and plagued by vivid nightmares set at the western Maine summerhouse he calls Sara Laughs, Mike reluctantly returns to the lakeside getaway. There, he finds his beloved Yankee town held in the grip of a powerful millionaire, Max Devore, whose vindictive purpose is to take his three-year-old granddaughter, Kyra, away from her widowed young mother, Mattie. As Mike is drawn into Mattie and Kyra's struggle, as he falls in love with both of them, he is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of the ghostly visitations and escalating terrors. What are the forces that have been unleashed here--and what do they want of Mike Noonan?

What stood out for me, while I read, were the comments about a writing life. Mr. King spells out an easy road to success--write a book, attract a well established publisher, keep writing. This is the road to success that protagonist Michael Noonan followed. He kept writing--producing one book a year and storing other manuscripts as a safety net. And I wondered could I do that? Could I squirrel away manuscripts like nuts against a cold winter? Could I wait to save my words instead of sharing them with you, my reader? At this point in my career, that's the position I've been forced into. I'm not storing my manuscripts. They are being stored for me in slush piles. And it feels like I'm existing in purgatory--will I get the reward of a good writer and be published or pay for my sins by being rejected? 

'This is how we go on:  one day at a time, one meal at a time, one pain at a time, one breath at a time... If you write books, you go on one page at a time.' (p. 361)

Thank heavens for this blog. Thank heavens that I have this outlet for expression.

'The writing had burned off all thoughts of the real world, at least temporarily. I think that, in the end, that's what it's for. Good or bad, it passes the time.' (p. 492)

And yet, even in paradise there can be trouble. Michael Noonan built a successful writing career but four years ago the love of his life died. Now, he is alone living in his own purgatory. He finishes writing the book he started while his wife was alive and then... and then... 

'And except for notes, grocery lists, and checks, that was the last writing I did for four years.' (p. 34)

I wonder if non-writers can feel the full weight of the sorrow expressed in those words?

2014 has been a very productive year for me. I have made over 50 submissions to publishers. 1 play, 11 short stories, 4 short story collections, 2 novellas and 2 novels have been slipped into envelopes and deposited into mailboxes. I can't imagine not being able to write--I don't want to. It would be like not being able to speak or losing the use of my left arm. 

So, maybe, that's the lesson. Instead of yearning for what is yet to be. I should embrace and celebrate what I have. I should celebrate my creative, fertile mind.

'[I]n dreams, perhaps everyone is a novelist.' (p. 54)

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest Post: Little Fiction

  1. What is Little Fiction's mandate?
I never really thought of us having a mandate, but our reason for being is to give indie / up-and-coming writers another vehicle for their work and to introduce our readers (who are also mostly writers) to some new works and new talents. Since we started, we've seen a handful of our authors land book deals and release debut collections that their LF stories have been a part of, and that's really the end goal for now. I don't know if that constitutes a mandate, but it's something we're damn proud of.

  1. How/why did you decide to be a publisher?
I was trying to get some work published years ago (surprise, I'm also a writer) and the best advice I received was to do it myself. So I started an indie label called Instrumental Press. I published one title (mine) but struggled to get good distribution. And money. Many years later, technology allowed me to try again and Little Fiction is the result.

  1. When was Little Fiction established?
As an idea, it was mid-2010, but the official launch was October 2011.

  1. Share some of Little Fiction's challenges and victories…
Every new title is a victory. Every new author, every returning author. Every twitter follower, every retweet and every download / read of a story. Those are the victories and they'll never stop being the victories. It’s amazing that we have a few thousand people keeping up with the site regularly, but it’s just as amazing that even one person cares about what we’re doing. That’s something I think every writer, publisher, blogger — anyone looking for an audience, really — should never lose sight of.

On a more specific note, getting stories from Shawn Syms, Andrew F. Sullivan and Leesa Cross-Smith very early on was huge. All three have since landed deals for debut collections.

As for the challenges, keeping up with submissions is tough, trying to establish ourselves enough so that our writers can start to win awards for their LF stories has been a little challenging. Finding a model that allows us to pay writers is an ongoing exploration / challenge.

  1. This is a challenging time to be a publisher. How is Little Fiction uniquely equipped to meet these challenges?
Being digital only helps. It keeps overhead low. Not relying on grants that could disappear one year after the next helps. Likewise not worrying about investors / outside sources for funding. We're just kind of doing our own thing, but I don't think that makes us uniquely equipped — there are plenty of awesome indie journals and publishers who can claim the same thing.

  1. What do you see as the benefits of being a publisher?
It's a labour of love, so you have to be into what you're doing, and that's the benefit for me — getting to do something that I love to do.

  1. What genres do you publish?
We don't really get into genre — it's just literary fiction, for lack of a better term. And literary non-fiction, I guess, for our essay / memoir / creative non-fiction label, Big Truths.

  1. I understand that Little Fiction is solely an epublisher. Do you have future plans of establishing a print imprint? Why or why not?
No concrete plans at the moment, but we would at least love to do a print anthology. The bigger idea is to find the right model that would allow us to maintain a print component, and not just do it once in a while.

  1. Who pays the publishing costs--the author or Little Fiction?
We do.

  1. Do you work with literary agents?
We haven't yet, but we're not completely against it. What I like about what we have going so far is the opportunity to build relationships with so many talented and awesome writers.

  1. Does Little Fiction pay royalties and advances?
No, we don't. But we don't charge for our stories either — everything is available for free. If that ever changes we will definitely be sharing any profits.

  1. Please lead us through Little Fiction's author submission process…
It's an open / rolling submission, so writers are free to send stuff whenever (but only one story at a time, please). When we accept a piece, we'll work with the author on edits and a cover design leading up to the pub date.

  1. How do you choose the authors you publish?
Just from reading submissions. We haven't done much soliciting of work yet — because we don't pay it doesn't feel totally right to ask someone for work. But we have reached out to a few writers we love — we did that when we launched Big Truths last year with stories from Angela Palm, Liz Windhorst Harmer, Jessica Nelson and Ayelet Tsabari.

  1. Please walk us through the process of publishing a book…
It's pretty simple. We like to work closely with our writers on edits and we seek their input on cover ideas (within our design aesthetic). We format the ePub files and then send some digital proofs for the authors to check out. After that we're good to go.

  1. How do you market your books?
Social media. Twitter is the biggest one for us, but we also have Facebook, tumblr and Pinterest. accounts. We have a newsletter that goes out monthly when new stories are released, and we've been fortunate to have some of our stories recorded (which you can find on SoundCloud) by the amazing Xe Sands, so there are plenty of channels being used right now for marketing our stuff. We're looking into doing some merch as well (currently we have desktop wallpapers available on the site — people seem to dig them).

Website: Little Fiction

Monday, October 20, 2014

Joey (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Joey purred her way into my life just when I needed her the most.

photos by Leanne Dyck

I was exhausted from pouring energy into my career, my volunteering, my studies, my... All of that coupled with the death of my mom left me a mere shadow of my former self. 

Did Joey sense how much I needed her soothing presence?

Searching for a place to heal, brought me to Mayne Island, to a house on Wood Dale Drive. As my husband was working on the mainland, I meet with Barb--my potential landlady. The house was spacious and well-constructed. Tour over, Barb led me back into the living room. She offered me a seat on the chesterfield. 

"How much are you asking for rent?"

A voice plummeted down the stairs. "Where's my...? I can't find my...? Ugh!"

"Just a sec." Barb climbed the stairs.  

"But Mom..."

Mom--that name conquered memories and... I felt so alone. 

A fluffy grey cat pranced into the living room.

"Oh, hello. Aren't you beautiful," I told her.

She looked at me as if to say, Why yes I am beautiful. How nice of you to notice.

"Here, kitty. Come here," I softly called.

With regal flare, the cat claimed my lap and curled up into a clump of purring grey fur. And I was no longer alone.

Barb came back and sat down beside me. "Joey is usually very shy around strangers, but she chose you."

Sam and Joey on our porch

First Joey and then her brother, Sam, joined my husband and me in that house on Wood Dale Drive. Adults, they taught us how to live with cats. 

A skilled hunter, Joey introduced us to an array of Mayne Island wildlife--mice and birds, even a hummingbird. Most of them became additions to her diet. 

A patient sister, Joey attempted to teach her brother to hunt. She'd bring him a half-dead mouse. She served it like a mother cutting her child's meat. Sam toyed with the poor little creature, but he just didn't have it in him to kill. The mouse limped away. And the look Joey sent me, Honestly, males! I just can't teach him anything. 

A devoted companion, Joey helped me heal. I folded her into my arms and wet her grey fur with tears. She never seemed to mind; she never left my side; she was always there.

On August 21st, Joey slipped out of my life as gracefully as she had slipped in. 

"She has lived such a long life," I told the vet. "If she were a human we would celebrate it."

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest Post: Interviews by Judee Fong

I love doing interviews. When I’m assigned a person, I do my usual Google search and do as much background as I can, figure out a list of questions and off I go. Some interviews are fabulous. I hardly have to look at my list of questions because the interviewee has so much to say and has given lots of anecdotes. These are my favourite interviews because the article practically writes itself. Then, there’s the flip-side. Answering questions is like picking blackberries from a very dense, prickly bush—it’s done slowly and carefully. All this caution came from an abstract artist, not at all talkative and whose artistic endeavours are colourful, murky and filled with symbolism.

The artist waits for my comments on his art. Ignoring my lunch-time hunger pangs, I look at one of his paintings, which looks like a dark puddle of something brown. I stare at it again. “Wow,’ I say to him. “What do you call that?” He answers succinctly, “Mud.” I reply, “That’s very powerful.” And, praying that a bolt of lightning doesn’t strike me dead—blame my hunger pangs, I add, “It  looks like silky, sexy chocolate—dark, smooth and flowing.” Mesmerized, he stares at the canvas and slowly smiles. “My wife had given me some chocolates but it melted in the heat. I had “brain-block” so I just painted what I saw. Maybe I should change the title back to “Chocolate.” Relaxed, he began to talk about a few other abstracts in his studio—all with some little tidbit behind each canvas. For an interview that started slowly, it was filled with anecdotes and a fascinating insight of the artist, himself.

My interviews have been conducted in many places. Artists, writers and potters often have studios attached to their homes. I have “Offices”—actually coffee bars--scattered strategically about the city. I still use a real microphone attached to a book-size recorder that runs on 4-C batteries and regular recording tapes. My old-fashion equipment often elicits fond smiles and amusement. For some strange reason, people feel more relaxed seeing the actual microphone on the table rather than something the size of a matchbox with a hidden microphone inside. I’ve carried my recorder in my backpack and held the microphone while I trudged behind the Head Groundskeeper at Royal Road’s Hatley Gardens. I’ve carried out interviews on a Search and Rescue vessel; over a Sidney fish-n-chips lunch at “Fish at Fifth;” at a Symphony rehearsal, at the local CHEK TV station, at a horse farm and my all-time favourite, at Victoria’s famous Rogers Chocolates factory.
I love doing interviews because we are an incredible human race made up of so many entertaining and fascinating people who all have stories to tell. The challenge is to condense my 4000 word interviews into 800-1000 words!

Judee Fong’s Bio:

I am one of the freelance writers for Senior Living Magazine, aimed for 50+ active people and
 younger. I enjoy meeting new faces and subjects who have taught me a lot about art, music 
and writing. I have been assigned topics I knew nothing about and came away learning 
something new. I am a member of “Crime Writers of Canada” as I enjoy reading well-crafted 
mysteries/thrillers/adventures/historicals and try to write what I like to read. I am in the process 
of writing a historical YA mystery as well as several short stories.  In between writing my stories,
 I blog on and also on 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why you shouldn't change your blog's address

A couple of months ago I acted rashly to solve what I perceived as a glaring problem. 

Initially (four years ago) this blog was created to help promote my (at the time) newly released E-book--The Sweater Curse. (Please don't search for it. It's no longer available.) I used the address

Sweater Curse? Does that sound like a knitting blog to you?

Yup, that's what I was afraid of. And you aren't alone. Many wondered if it was a knitting or writing blog. And this confusion really bothered me.

When I bought back the rights to The Sweater Curse E-book I thought I could make-over this blog as well. I'd start with the confusing address. But can I change it?, I wondered. And what would happen if I did? 

Very bad things, blog gurus told me.  (Blog gurus like Kristen Lamb)

But as the confusion continued so did my unease. 

Then... Then one day I was snooping around in the inner bowels of my blog and I found a magic button. This magic button offered to grant me one wish. If I pressed it I could change my blog's address. Like Cinderella looking at the Witch's juicy red apple, I didn't think twice I pressed the button and instantaneously I killed I didn't feel anything but relief as I created my new address:

Yes, I was happy until I woke up the next day. Realization found me with the morning light. As usual, I logged on to my blog and checked my stats. The number of page views was down, dramatically. And I knew what was happening. I visualized people trying to log on to and instead of seeing the home page they were being informed that the blog they were looking for no longer existed.  

No, it's not true. I'm still here, I wanted to scream. But I was helpless. My hands were tied. I'd killed and there was no way to bring it back. The only thing I could do was wait for you to find me. 



Happily ever after, you did find me.

What about WordPress?

Well, I found this link.

Changing my blog's name was no biggie. But ideally you'll find a name and address that you love and stick with them.

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Guest Post: Why edit? by Amy Haagsma (EAC-BC)

 Because it matters. 
By Amy Haagsma 
on behalf of EAC-BC, the BC branch of the 
Editors’ Association of Canada

Who are editors?

Writers and editors share many traits, including a love of language and the desire to engage their audience through the written word. Although editors work alongside writers, they perform very different functions. On a basic level, editors help improve, clarify, and correct errors in written work. Their mediums may include book manuscripts, magazine and newspaper articles, technical documents, reports, speeches, press releases, and websites. Editors work in a variety of sectors, including publishing, corporate, government, and not-for-profit.

Editors are generally drawn to their profession by an interest in language and a passion for detail and accuracy. Editors delight in finding the perfect word, untangling a complex piece of prose, and smoothing language until it rolls effortlessly off the tongue. To call an editor a stickler is, in fact, a compliment. While generally mild-mannered, editors will not hesitate to fervently defend their position on important matters such as the Oxford comma. 

Most importantly, however, editors are advocates for the finished work and its intended audience. Often the first critical reader, an editor brings a second set of eyes and a different perspective. An editor is both an unbiased critic and an unwavering fan, helping you see what is succeeding in your work and what may warrant another look. Editors appreciate good writing and are content to take on the role of best supporting actor, casting the spotlight on the writer and their work.

What do editors do?

Editors work in partnership with writers to create documents that are clear, accurate, interesting, and engaging. Prior to publication, a written work will typically undergo four main stages of editing: structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading. The following descriptions are from Professional Editorial Standards, produced by the Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC): 

Structural editing is assessing and shaping material to improve its organization and content.

Stylistic editing is editing to clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language.

Copy editing is editing to ensure correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness.

Proofreading is examining material after layout to correct errors in textual and visual elements.

If you are not sure what type of editing you need, an editor can generally provide guidance in this area. Some editors offer multiple levels of editing, while others may specialize in one or two. However, even if a single editor is undertaking all four editing stages, they will be done separately (for the most part). Stylistic editing is commonly combined with either structural editing or copy editing, while allowing for at least two rounds of editing before design and layout. Proofreading is always undertaken as a separate task after design and layout. Editors may also provide additional services such as manuscript evaluation, developmental/project editing, rewriting, fact-checking, indexing, and more. For more information on many common editorial services, please see EAC’s Definitions of editorial skills.

Why do you need an editor?

Editors are invaluable to the writing process, and professional editing is essential to the success of your work. Many authors are now choosing self-publishing over traditional publishing, which means taking on many of the editorial tasks typically assumed by publishers. One of the most common themes in negative reviews of self-published works is a lack of editing. Even with traditional publishing, many agents will only accept a manuscript after it has been professionally edited. 

Self-editing is not advised: as a writer, you are too close to your own work to see it objectively. After months or even years of writing and rewriting, you will read the text according to its intended meaning. It is far more difficult to know how a reader would perceive it. You may be tempted to enlist the help of a friend, family member, or fellow author; however, there is no substitute for an editor’s trained eye.

How can you find an editor?

If you have not worked with an editor before, you may be wondering how to find one. A good starting point is to ask for referrals from other writers whom you know personally or through professional associations. The Internet can also be a valuable resource, as many editors have personal websites. EAC also provides a number of tools to help you find and hire an editor, including an online directory and a national job board. Individual branches also offer job announcement hotlines. 

When seeking an editor, you will want to consider the degree of editing needed as well as the genre. Look for someone who is professional, competent, and a good fit with your writing style and goals, and whose strengths complement your weaker areas. Membership in professional associations demonstrates that an editor is invested in the industry and committed to professional development. EAC has also recently introduced a certification process for structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, and proofreading. To become certified, editors undergo rigorous tests, which are based on EAC’s Professional Editorial Standards.

Once you have shortlisted one or more editors who you feel would be a good fit, contact them to discuss your project and their availability. Ask for references, work samples, and rates. Fees will vary based on the industry, the deadline, the type and complexity of editing required, and the editor’s experience and training. You can expect to pay between $35 and $100 per hour for a professional editor. The number of hours required can be estimated based on a representative sample to give you an idea of the total cost. 

What is the Editors’ Association of Canada?

 EAC is a federally incorporated, not-for-profit organization representing editorial professionals across Canada. EAC-BC, the BC branch, is one of 12 regional branches and twigs. EAC offers professional development opportunities for editors, provides resources to assist with hiring and working with an editor, and promotes and maintains high standards in editing and publishing. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book review: Blush by Shirley Hershey Showalter (memoir)

After I took my husband's surname things started to change. I started receiving questions like, "Do Mennonites...?" or "When Mennonites...?"

"I don't know, I'm not Mennonite," I answered and watched facial expressions change from interest to disappointment.

"But your surname is Mennonite," I was told.

It is possible to look like a tree and not be a tree.

Dyck is Mennonite. But my mom was Icelandic-Canadian and my dad was British (English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish)-Canadian. I can field questions like, "What languages do they speak in Iceland?"
(Icelandic and English)
or "What's Yorkshire pudding?"
(It's kind of like puffed pastry. Served with meat, adds this vegetarian.)

Blurb at the back of the book:  Little Shirley Hershey grew up in a plain Mennonite home, yet was named for a movie star. With her nose pressed to the window of the glittering world, she felt intensely the gap that existed in the 1950s and '60s between Mennonites and the larger world. This is the story of how a rosy-cheeked, barefoot Mennonite farm girl prepared to enter the glittering world and learned how to do so on her own terms. 

This engaging childhood memoir tells the story of a Mennonite girl who might have left the church but found another way.

My desire to read Blush was driven by a longing to understand a culture that was foreign to me. But I was surprised to discover many similarities between Shirley and I--church membership alienated me from my peers and I blushed easily, to name but two.

And as Shirley writes in the closing chapters of Blush, 'I now know something about my ancestors I didn't know when I was young. I'm connected to a limestone trail that leads back not just to Germany and Switzerland, to mountains and caves and cowbells and memories of martyrs--but also to Celts who found God in trees and skies and all living things. My ancestors' path leads all the way back to Africa and there connects to all other lives in the birthplace of the human race.' (p. 250)

I flipped the book open searching for information but it was this invitation -- 'I'm heading down into the arch cellar of memory now. Come along.' (p. 15) -- that I found irresistible. 

Shirley's writing is conversational and engaging, like chatting with a friend around a kitchen table. She generously shares details about her church and her family. Her relationship with her supportive, loving mother helped mold her strong personality and shaped her dreams to explore all of life's wonders. Later, when Shirley grew old enough to attend school, she benefited from dedicated teachers who ignited her passion for learning.

Did I learn more about the Mennonite faith?

Yes and, thanks to a glossary at the back of the book, this information is easily accessible.

However, I also learned that there are culture differences between Mennonites. The mouthwatering dishes my mother-in-law serves were not included amongst the pages of recipes in this book. I wondered why and then realized that whereas Shirley is Swiss-German, the family I married into is Russian-German.

Thank you for writing this book, Shirley. I'm sure Owen and Julia will treasure it. And I have a request, please transform those four binders you and your mother kept while you were in university into another book. 

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, October 3, 2014

Guest Post author Mary Jane Maffini

This morning, my daughter sent me a photo of a great hooded T-shirt she found online. It said, I KNIT SO I DON’T KILL PEOPLE. 

It was such a simple and yet powerful message.  Words to live by.  I do knit. However I still have to kill people, if only on the page.  
The sentiment made me think about the therapeutic value about not only knitting, but also bumping people off – on a highly selective basis, natch.  You readers are probably quite safe. 

Way back in the dim mists of time when I was in the library biz, I attended what felt like gazillions of meetings.  There was often someone who’d seem to get a charge out of resisting whatever was planned or who lived to highjack the agenda or play political games. As the hours ticked by, I’d feel the steam rising from my collar and on really bad days, I’m sure that flames shot out my ears.  Luckily, around that time, I discovered the soul-soothing power of writing.  I messed around with several forms until I eventually came to realize that mystery was the vehicle for me. I loved reading them and I knew I’d love writing them.  Not only that, but the genre gave me a ‘dumping ground’ for all those pesky people who lived to make trouble at work and elsewhere.

In real life, I could smile and make nice, but sure enough, there was always some jackass who would try and cut me off with a big honking SUV.  But at night, there was the thrill of fitting the troublemakers for cement overshoes and then giving them a small push off the boat. In the case of the Caddy Escalade, it plunged into a ravine.  Very satisfying. Oh yes.

In fact, now after so many years, many of my friends are also mystery writers. I meet many more at conferences and through mystery organizations. Some are my buddies on mystery blogs such as and

The one thing that most of them have in common? They are lovely, kind, congenial people. They support each other’s efforts.  And why shouldn’t they?  They’ve learned to get rid of frustrating people on the page. That allows them to smile and be happy in the rest of their life.

As therapy, I highly advise it.  The price is right too. And it there are aspects of life that can’t be solved by a dab of poison, length of rope, or push from the top of a staircase, then I still have my knitting to keep me sane.  If worse comes to worse, those size 4 needles would make a wonderful weapon. 

Leanne, thanks for inviting to visit your blog.  I feel honored to be here. (I'm delighted that you came for a visit, MJ)  Of course, you are very nice indeed and I promise not to be dangerous. (And thank you for that. : ) )