Friday, November 28, 2014

Guest Post: The Conversation (short story) by David Burrowes

The first part of this three part short story was published last Friday. Here's the link to it. Read on for the second part. 

Photo of the author David Burrowes
Photo by Joel Harvey

Johnny placed a box of elongated bolts on top of his truck hood, took a bite out of his bologna sandwich and sipped on a soda. He flipped his Yankees cap backwards and slid his sunglasses back on. He was at the hardware store on his break. Just chilling. It was a sunny day, finally, after three straight days of downpour.  So good to be outside again talking to friendly people, Johnny thought.

Then Johnny spotted him. There he was. It was that old man again with his little dog in his arms. Johnny hadn’t forgotten. How could he? All that man had done was glare at Johnny that day. No explanation. He hadn’t said anything at all back then…and he was doing it again.  Staring at him. It was kind of spooky. What was with this guy? Johnny wondered.

That particular day was a while ago. Last spring some time.  At the gas station, was where they first met. Johnny remembered what started it off. The old man had been driving like an old lady. He had somewhere to be, Johnny did. And he was late he remembered. He had passed the incredibly slow car on the road. That’s what set things in motion.

Johnny brashly approached the man with his little dog. “Your name--Sheldon? And that--your dog?” “What’s it to you?” Sheldon snapped back.  His head bobbed a little in recognition, “Oh, so you remember me. I’ve heard your name is Johnny.” Sheldon placed his dog Maxine on the ground. Maxine loved to sniff other people, especially new smells, and Johnny was that. Maxine stopped suddenly at Johnny’s feet and started to growl. ”I know what it is.” Johnny grinned, “Your dog detects my cat’s odor on my clothes.”

Johnny awkwardly continued: “You’re not wearing your other coat?”
“This is my winter coat.” Sheldon bristled then looked up.  “Hey, you don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me.” Sheldon emphasized. “All you care about is yourself and your crummy little job. Everyone get out of the way. I’m important. I’ve got important things to do.”

 “People are so damned impatient!” Sheldon roared. Then he focused on the surprise and concern on Johnny’s face, thought better of it and his demeanor melted quickly into a broad smile. Sheldon was an ornery type for sure. However, once he got to know you, he warmed up.

Sheldon had his good days. He liked to drive to different places nearby and park his car. There, he and Maxine would go for walks. It was a pleasant break and he got to see what people were up to and what they planted in their gardens. Daffodils in the early springtime and geraniums and snapdragons were his favorites later in the year. Sheldon really enjoyed gardening and Maxine loved smelling the fragrances.

Johnny thought for a moment. He looked back at Sheldon who was still there: “So, what you are saying is that one day, probably sooner or later, I’m going to be something like you?” Sheldon began to stride away, then turned to one side and responded curtly, “That’s about it.”

David Burrowes has lived on Mayne Island since 2004 enjoying the single lifestyle and hiding out from those big city ways. Dave was originally brought up on Vancouver’s North Shore. He moved to Victoria, where he ran a rooming house for 15 years taking many people off the street. Previous to that, he had his own small business representing a group of a dozen artists selling various greeting cards and gift enclosure cards around BC. Dave began writing his first novel in 2010, fulfilling a lifelong dream of embarking on a writing career.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Playwriting by Leanne Dyck

Written on Friday, November 21st...

I'm leaning against a wall but I feel like I'm sitting on pins. All is dark but just ahead of me is light. Through the curtains, I see the backs of heads. My words are being voiced by others. Laughter. The scene ends and I scramble to place props. Don't forget, I remind myself. I work silently, in the shadows, like a rat, and flee quickly before the light catches me. All is set. I flip the flashlight's switch  -- signalling the lighting technician -- and the stage is once again lit. The actors, my team, my friends skillfully work through the play I've written. Last scene. Applause. Sweet applause. 

What is a prop mistress?
'the person in charge of all the props and who usually works with them during a show'

One of the essential characteristics of a good prop mistress or master is a good memory. But what if you have a poor memory? What if you're like me? Can you still be a prop mistress?
Well, I was. To help me perform my duties, I...

Used visualization. I drew a map in my brain of the steps I would need to take to place and clear the stage. (i.e. I need to do this and then I need to dot that, etc.)
Carried an index card with notes on what I needed to do, when. This kept me focused.

Written on Saturday, November 22nd...

MILT (Mayne Island Little Theatre) is my favourite theatre group and so I knew I was going to accept this opportunity to flex my writing muscles. But I didn't know how fortunate I would be. I worked with a talented cast -- friends, old and new.

A playwright writes a play. A director interprets this play for the actors. Actors breathe life into the characters. Georgia, Deb, Mary, and Mike did far more. They gave Aster, Kate and Kjartan an identity on stage. 

But wait there's more...

I wrote a five scene play. Working together, this team of friends, we added a sixth scene. Working together, we gave Aster a happily ever after ending.

On Friday night I was sad that this odyssey was ending. But tonight I feel like partying.

After every ending, comes a new beginning. 

Would you like to run away and join the theatre? Well you may not have to run too far. Why not consider volunteering to work with your theatre group. Amateur theatre needs our support. Your reward:  fond memories and new friendships. Of course, you could answer the casting call and take an on stage part but there are also many positions to fill off stage -- stage manager or prop manager or house manager or director or producer or... or... playwright. 

These last few months I've been living a dream as I make my debut as a playwright. I share more about this journey here.

All three nights were very enjoyable and at the end of every night the audience got to vote for the play they felt deserved to represent Mayne Island on a five island tour. Well, the votes are now in and The Audition won.

Brian Crumblehulme (the playwright and director) describes The Audition as 'a satire about life on an island. Not all aspects of course, but enough to include most of us from over-serious directors, volunteers, local politicians, tourists, kids, nerds, rural urbanites, old f--ts, and Oh, I forgot -- audiences too.

Congratulations to the playwright, director (Brain plus Michele Steele), cast (Shaye Steele, Haylee Stobart, Mark Smith) and crew (Stage Manager, Sarah Noyes).

Look for them on a stage (or near a stage) near you in February. 

PRISM international's creative non-fiction contest has been extended for another week. The new deadline is this Friday (November 28th). Learn more about this contest here.

Friday's Guest:  David Burrowes will share part two of his three part short story -- a look at island life, through the relationship of two men. If you missed part one don't worry just click this link.

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Guest Post: A Fractious Incident (short story) by David Burrowes

Photo of the author David Burrowes
Photo by Joel Harvey

The temperature was beginning to rise. Sheldon could sense it in the breeze around him. Everything and everyone had a degree of perkiness and one could feel anticipation. Trolling down the road with both hands on the wheel, Sheldon was oblivious of Maxine, his little dog, who was licking at his fingers nervously. The car was purring and a few drops landed on the windshield. Then it happened. A truck sped disrespectfully past him.

“Aaah! What are you doing? Idiot! What the hell is wrong with you?
I can’t believe that you are frigging doing that here and now to me. Don’t you care about anybody else? Are you drunk or on crack? Are you out of your freeking mind?!!”

Likely yes, Sheldon thought. He grabbed the top of his own head and shook it around but it stayed on. Saliva was dripping down his lips onto his neck. His retinas had an orangeness about them and steam was escaping from his nostrils. His dog was shaking and whining at a high decibel.

Sheldon’s eyes were shining lasers. If he turned them up on high level--the  other guy would be zapped into some unrecognizable goo.  Possibly the young man would be reduced to an ash with a putrid stench mimicing the flavour of Sheldon’s sister Emma’s latest home made potage. Ugh! It was a frightful thought that only a reluctant sigh would be necessary to blow the ensuing residue away.

Why Sheldon hadn’t totally flipped out at this point, one may never know.
It was unsettling and unnerving but most of all it meant a sudden alteration to his prescribed manner and usual method of activity.

Further down the road, Sheldon exited his vehicle and stood motionless for a long while.  He focused on the other fellow, trying to digest the audacity of his new found opponent. Each had their own mindset. One was dressed for success and was chasing it around. The other was a stumbler and wore a rumpled coat with one shirt collar out and the other not.

Sheldon wasn’t that far away but nothing was spoken between them. Nothing was even muttered amongst themselves. This young fellow was parked next to a gas pump. He was proceeding to gas up. He was aware of the old man with the little dog peering at him but he tried vehemently to ignore him, not understanding him at all. Sheldon, holding his little dog, just stared as he heard the gas pump twitter across the way. The young man kept shaking his head.

The gloves were off, and usual appearances and attitudes were temporarily in suspension. In the moment, none of this mattered or could be noticed and yet it was all there.

The two men had communication without any verbal exchange. Both were different in all ways you could imagine. One was young, the other old. One was quick thinking, flashily dressed, had his hair slicked back nattily; the other contemplative, slapped together, his hair matted and he grew a scruffy beard.  Sheldon had a dog, the other didn’t. The other was a cat man.

The day had evolved into an enigma or possibly a conundrum but it was definitely now a dilemma and Sheldon felt badly about it all. He seemed one more step removed from the reality he craved. Sheldon and Maxine reluctantly got back into their car and drove away. He parked his car where it often rested for days and he felt more at ease upon stepping out back into his world.

They were tall, way above his head and swaying toward him then away…the trees. Lost in his sensibilities, he purposed his steps down the lane toward the hillside where he lived, his little dog trailing behind him. Over his left shoulder, the trees tried to calm him, soothe his embittered soul as he tried desperately to return to the set pattern of his life…

…where Sheldon believed he was a true Mayne Islander.

David Burrowes has lived on Mayne Island since 2004 enjoying the single lifestyle and hiding out from those big city ways. Dave was originally brought up on Vancouver’s North Shore. He moved to Victoria, where he ran a rooming house for 15 years taking many people off the street. Previous to that, he had his own small business representing a group of a dozen artists selling various greeting cards and gift enclosure cards around BC. Dave began writing his first novel in 2010, fulfilling a lifelong dream of embarking on a writing career.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Leanne Dyck's Writing Group Interviewed

As a group activity, my writing completed this series of questions... The questions were written by the Writer's Digest editors.

Left to right:  Amber Harvey, Gail Woodward, Leanne Dyck (me), David Burrowes and Susan Snider

  1. Tell us the name of your group, where you are located and how large the group is.

Name:  The Mayne Island writing group
Location:  Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
How large:  six members—although all six members are rarely attended, usually about four or five.

  1. Summarize your group in 1 – 3 sentences

We are a group of writers with diverse writing styles, genres, and goals. We are devoted to developing our craft and try to be open-minded and attempt to leave our egos at the door. Together we have supported each other through many challenges and victories.

  1. What works for you in terms of format? Have you tried formats that don’t work so well?

Submissions are usually limited to approximately 1,500 words. We distribute our submissions, by email, at least a week before meeting. Our submission is critiqued during a round table discussion where we each contribute. Submissions are read aloud by the writer. This allows the other writers to notice oral nuances that might get missed on the written page.

  1. How often do you meet, and what do you do during meetings?

We meet, once a month, 10 months of the year. We send out an agenda and one person is designated the timekeeper. Our two-hour meeting begins with a general check-in. An individual critiquing of submissions follows. We conclude with a discussion regarding group business and/or personal reflections.

  1. What do you do between meetings?

Between meetings we may meet on an informal basis—but rarely. Usually, we work independently on our own writing projects. At times we’ve read each other’s complete manuscripts and made helpful suggestions. Some members email links to writing-related resources. As a group, we’ve attended writing retreats, workshops, and festivals. We’ve also supported one and another by attending group member events such as book readings.

  1. What are the most important ways you support each other?

We support each other during the meetings by offering constructive feedback, lending support and listening carefully.

  1. What have you learned as you’ve grown together?

We’ve learned effective ways to support each other’s work, for example by offering and receiving constructive feedback.

  1. Do you have any tips for creating and maintaining a successful writing group?

Meet in a mutually supportive environment where all members feel listened to and understood. Check-in before and after offering feedback. What type of feedback is being requested—construction of the manuscript or overall sense of the story? Was your feedback received in the manner you intended—where you understood?

The person at whose house we meet is no longer “host” once everyone is welcomed. Coffee and tea are available and we help ourselves. The host becomes just one more member of the group. No demands are placed on any member. We acknowledge that everyone grows at her own rate, in her own time. The group is there for the members, not visa versa. Keep it fun. Enjoy each other as you build your group.

More information regarding critique groups...

Why You Should Ignore Most of the Advice from your Critique Group by Anne R. Allen

More information regarding how to acquire feedback about your writing...

5 Ways To Get Honest Feedback on Your Manuscript

And there is some humour in critiques, thanks to Writer Unboxed...

Dear Dwight:  A Critique Letter

Friday, November 14, 2014

Guest Post: Teresa Karlinski (Tess Kann)

I’m tickled to be here, Leanne. Thanks so much for the invitation to visit your wonderful site.
(I'm delighted you're here, Tess. I look forward to learning more about you and your writing.)

Contact information:

Teresa Karlinski lives in a multigenerational household in Ontario, Canada with her cat, Lady Gaga. She is a grandmother and a student of life with a passion for cooking. Although retired, she’s annoyed she can’t keep up with her overwhelming collection of unread books. Daily life consists of writing, reading, blogging and looking after her two grandchildren. Her stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Life is too short not to enjoy it. If you have a dream, grab it for it will nourish you. 

How/why did you start to write?

At age 10, I’d entered the Fire-fighters’ Week Writing Contest, a challenge between the two schools in town: Catholic and Public. I entered without a second thought and won. The prize was a whopping $12.00 which held no interest for me and was given to my parents’ safe-keeping anyway.  I won? I won! 
Afterwards, until I retired, I occasionally wrote stories, but filed them away. I dreamed someday I’d make time to write as much as I wanted.

How did you become an author?   

I registered for writing classes at our local college and met a magazine publisher who invited me to make a submission. The singular theme was inanimate objects that talk. I wanted to accept the offer but the subject was foreign to me. I didn’t think I could manage it but I did. Afterwards, I submitted stories to other magazines, which were sometimes accepted.
I began life online as Tess Kann because I was unsure of the internet when I started blogging. Now that I am publishing, I use my legal name, Teresa Karlinski.

What was your first published piece? Where was it published? How long ago?

My first published piece (Friends?) appeared in an on-line magazine called Perspectives in July of 2012. It was one of the most stunning electronic publications I had ever seen. The invitation to contribute to such a glamorous masterpiece had me awestruck. 

Reflections on your writing process

If confession is good for the soul, here’s my truth. I’m disorganized, but while I’m writing, I hate interruptions. My morning begins at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. with a large pot of coffee and the local newspaper. Afterwards, I clear my inbox, catch up on all the newsletters and blogs I subscribe to, and respond to comments on my blog. Poof, the morning’s gone. After lunch I concentrate on writing, editing, and searching for magazines to which I might submit my stories.
Another confession: I am a slow writer and only rarely—maybe once—wrote anything I polished in one day. My story, Friends? wrote itself—well, almost.

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

My entire working career took place in an office environment. Writing correspondence on my company’s behalf kept up my grammar and punctuation. After I retired and my mom died, I decided the time had come to take writing classes, and now I spend most of my day at the keyboard.

What inspires you?

Inspiration is everywhere: the way someone does something, how they respond to a situation or it can be a specific word. I don’t know the people in my stories, but I do get to know them once I write and they introduce themselves. They inspire me as well.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

I hadn’t put any thought into author platform building as I don’t have a book published. I started my blog three years ago in the hope of meeting other writers, to learn about writing, and to nurture my life-long passion of writing. I learn something new every day from the fascinating people I’ve met in the blogging world, and am astounded at the number of readers I’ve acquired.

Palpable Imaginings (published July 2014) is an anthology in which I’ve had the extreme pleasure of being included. Russ Towne of A Grateful Man is behind this collection.

Slice of Life, (published September 2014) is an anthology of selected non-fiction short stories.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Stephen King's Misery taught me about writing by Leanne Dyck

What would you do to learn from a master storyteller?

I'd highly recommend doing what I did.

What would you do to watch your favourite author work?

What Annie Wilkes did will make your skin crawl.

How did I learn from a master? Who is Annie Wilkes?

The answers to these questions stem from the same source--Misery by Stephen King.

Usually when I read one of Stephen King's books I'm left wondering, is this horror or a thriller? (I also wonder if such genre categories matter, but that's a discussion for another time.) But Misery is a thriller from start to finish--a dark thriller. In place of a ticking bomb, we hear the clicking of typewriter keys.

If horror and thrillers aren't your thing, don't worry. I'm happy to share what I learnt--quote after quote, comment after comment.

1)Some of you develop complex outlines and are frustrated that, as you continue to write, your writing veers far off this careful path.

Author, protagonist, Paul Sheldon:  'Having a novel end exactly the way you thought it would when you started out would be like shooting a Titan missile halfway around the world and having the payload drop through a basketball hoop.' (p. 279)

And so... Learn to loosen your grip and enjoy the ride. You can still start with an outline, I do. But imagine it written in chalk on a blackboard not craved into stone.

2)Engage your readers senses--don't tell them. For example, instead of telling us that Paul opened his eyes, Mr. King describes what Paul saw when he opened his eyes. 

3)We forget, I forget, that even though we writers create the characters, they are also owned by the readers who love them.

4)I found it appalling that Annie made Paul burn the only copy of his manuscript. Now I know what to call it when my computer crashes and I lose the only copy of my manuscript.
I'll scream out, "I've been Annied", just before my husband asks, "Well, did you back it up?"

5)Playing storytelling games nurtures creativity, inspires creation as well as sharpens writing skills. Stephen King includes a storytelling game in Misery. To play this game, you need three or more players. The first player begins a story and puts her protagonist in a life or death situation. The next player's task is to successfully solve this dilemma within a ten minute time frame. If the time elapses without a successful solution, 'it' loses. When a successful solution is offered, the other players vote on how valid this solution is. If 'it' fails (time runs out or solution is deemed invalid), he must leave the game.

6)Writers are able to write because they think they can. There's no secret formula--just hard work. Writers think they can because they've put in the time. They think they can because they've done it before. They think they can regardless what obstacles they have to overcome...

In Misery, the keys of the 'Royal' typewriter keep falling out like a baby teeth. First the 'n'; then the 't'; then the 'e'. Regardless, Paul keeps on writing. If you are a writer you write.

7)What does it look like to write? Is it simply typing on a computer keyboard or is there something else involved?

One part of Paul is just sitting there. 'There was sensory input, but he was not doing anything with it--not seeing what he was seeing, not hearing what he was hearing.

Another part of him was furiously trying out ideas, rejecting them, trying to combine them, rejecting the combinations. He sensed this going on but had no direct contact with it and wanted none. It was dirty down there in the sweatshops...

He understood what he was doing now as Trying to Have an Idea. Trying to Have an Idea wasn't the same thing as Getting an Idea. Getting an Idea was a more humble way of saying I am inspired.

Trying to Have an Idea...was nowhere near as exalted or exalting, but it was every bit as mysterious...and every bit as necessary. Because when you were writing a novel you almost always got roadblock somewhere, and there was no sense in trying to go on until you'd Had an Idea...

He recognized walking as good exercise, but it was boring... But if you needed to Have an Idea, boredom could be to a roadblocked novel what chemotherapy was to a cancer patient.' (pp. 119-120)

8)Authors must tell wonderful bedtime stories and who better to take on a long-distance car trip?

[Annie Wilkes]:  ' "If you're such a rotten story-teller, how come you have bestsellers and millions of people love the books you write?"

[Paul Sheldon] "I didn't say I was a rotten story-writer. I actually happen to think I'm pretty good at that. But as a story-teller, I'm the pits... The two things are like apples and oranges." ' (p. 247)

So if you can't tell jokes or your antidotes become a tangled mess, fear not. You could still become a skilled author of a captivating story. 

9)Minimalist writing is a fine art. To keep your readers interested, many authors create character after character or take their stories from setting to setting.  But, Stephen King's Misery, all 338 pages of it, focuses solely on two characters--Annie Wilkes (reader) and Paul Sheldon (author)--and one setting--Annie Wilkes' remote farmhouse.  

10)It is tempting for me to interpret Paul's comments, thoughts and dialogue as belonging to Stephen King. But there are many reasons to create a character beyond being an author's soapbox. 

If, on the other, like me, you enjoy reading dark thrillers...

Paul Sheldon. He's a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader--she is Paul's nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated houses. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work--just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don't work, she can get really nasty...

Misery appeared on screen in 1990. Here's the original trailer

If you enjoyed reading Misery, you may also enjoy reading Room by Emma Donoghue.

If you'd like to learn from a skilled storyteller, travel to Saskatchewan for Sage Hill Writing Experience 
(That's why I'm now dreaming of endless prairie skies.)

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Guest Post: My Mystery Career by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

My favourite books to read have always been mystery novels and after ten years spent travelling and writing the seven books of my Backroads Series, I decided to write a mystery. Since one of the mantras of writing is to write what you know I made my main character a travel writer. In 'Illegally Dead' Elizabeth Oliver was headed to southern Alberta to do research for a magazine and was drawn into the mystery of a skeleton found in a septic tank. When I was finished I sent it out to a few publishers. One wrote back that they liked it but my travel background was coming out and I had too much travel information in it. I was asked to remove some. So I did and resent my manuscript. Again, I was asked to cut back on the travel info. Again I did. The third time I was told that this was a mystery and I should stick with the mystery and leave out the travel stuff. I wrote back and said that the main character is a travel writer and is working on an article. She is not going to drop that and concentrate on the mystery. So needless to say we parted ways.
       I sent out the manuscript again and another publisher said they were interested in publishing it. They had one stipulation and that was that I should add in more travel information.
       I sent the second manuscript titled, 'The Only Shadow In The House', to the same publisher. After about a five month wait I received a letter that told me the publishing house had been bought out by another one and that my manuscript and all my information had been sent to them. I waited a few  months then emailed the new publisher to find out what was happening. A couple of days later I received an email stating that they had no record of my manuscript. My heart sank. But a few days after that I received an email from another editor at the publishing house that they had found my manuscript and they wanted to publish it.
       However, in the time between that email and the publishing date for my novel, the publishing house was sold again. The new owner was going to honour my contracts, but in the future wasn't going to publish mysteries. I knew there was no use sending, 'Whistler's Murder', the third manuscript of what I was calling The Travelling Detective Series to that publisher and after checking around I sent it to Books We Love Ltd. They immediately accepted it and e-published it. After two years of talking with my old publisher I was able to get the rights to my first two novels of the series and now all three are published with Books We Love Ltd. as e-books.
       This fall Books We Love Ltd. decided to bring many of their e-books out in print and my series is now available in a boxed set through Amazon or through me at

This is a captivating mystery from new-to-me author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey.  Illegally Dead is the first book in a series that also includes The Only Shadow in the House and Whistler's Murder.  This book is not only a murder mystery but also a travelogue of the Crowsnest Highway in Southern Alberta.  I have actually never been to this area so that aspect of the book was incredibly interesting to me.  Who wouldn't want to learn more about a place called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. And it was interesting to learn the story behind the name of the city of Medicine Hat.
Besides all of the interesting travel information there is a riveting mystery that kept me guessing until the conclusion.  The story abounds with interesting characters.  I love that older people were consulted when our sleuth and travel writer Elizabeth Oliver was conducting her research...people often forget that the older generation has plenty of stories to tell and have often kept quite a few secrets over the years. 
Great Canadian mystery!!! I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
Kathryn Poulin

The Only Shadow In The House
I like how author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey sets her books in obscure places in Alberta.  This time it is Redwater...a small town outside of Edmonton that not many people have heard of...I only have because the company I worked at for many years built a cogeneration plant there.  This is the second book in her Sumach Travel Mystery series.  It is an enjoyable read particularly if you want to learn more about Alberta.  The author is a travel writer and her experience and expertise about the area shines through.
Good story filled with interesting characters. The mystery had me guessing until the end. I'm looking forward to the next Elizabeth Oliver adventure.
Kathryn Poulin

Hi Joan;  I’ve been wanting to tell you that I absolutely love your book – The Only Shadow In The House. I have a hard time putting it down and find I am reading too late into the night! I am almost finished it. I cannot wait to find out who is responsible for the other murder. It’s an excellent book that is so full of suspense! I can’t wait for your next one. Marie K

I really like your Traveling Detective books and just wondering if there is a fourth book out?
Thank you

Hi Joan, I took the Kindle version of  Whistler’s Murder with me on holiday and really enjoyed it. The perfect mystery beach book! You have likeable, resourceful characters and kept all the threads of a pretty complicated plot woven together nicely. Sherry

Dear Joan,
 I met you when you were in Lethbridge at Chapters signing books. I just finished Illegally Dead last night and I have to say I LOVED IT!! If you continue to write like this you will go very far with your talent. It grabbed me from the first paragraph and wouldn't let go..LOL I have told a lot of people they should go and buy this book as it is SO good. Even though I just finished reading it.. I want more!! Loved the characters.. especially the twists and turns especially the final chapter. Please keep me informed as you write more!
 Your new friend and number 1 fan!

 I have just finished reading your second book and I have to say it was GREAT! Quite possibly better than the first one..LOL  The sad thing is now I have to wait for the next one ..LOL But I am patient

I finished the book last night. It was a really good read. Kept me guessing right up to the end. Joan
did a really good job. Waiting for the next one. Gwendoline
They are a great series. I loved every one of them.

Hey there
 - I received the book last week and have read it and I’m impressed. You should be very proud of yourself – you’ve come such a long way as a writer. I think you have a series on your hands there. Maybe you’ll get your series on TV when you’ve got a few more under your belt!  Cheers and congratulations!  Sylvia

Hi Joan - I just finished your book and really, really enjoyed it. Hurry up with the second one please! Judith

Monday, November 3, 2014

Are writing contests a waste of money? by Leanne Dyck

(Photo by Leanne Dyck. Rock art by Byron Dyck)

Simply by affixing a stamp or clicking send you've won--because you're showing pride in your work; you're proving you're in this writing game; and you're ensuring that at least one other person will read your work (the judge--who could an established author, a literary agent or a publisher. All these people can help you further your career.)

I've entered the  Women on Writing contests and The Rising Star award The winner of these contests was announced and my name wasn't on the list but... I have won invaluable feedback and encouragement from judges.

For example, one judge wrote:  This author's work displays many favorable attributes. The author has an eye for detail. She weaves emotion throughout. It's noted in the synopsis, the story is based on a true story and I suspect that contributed to the strong story world created in this manuscript. I think this author has great potential. 

I also entered...
Quattro Books' Ken Klonsky Novella Contest
Room's Fiction contest
The New Quarterly's The Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award
The winner of these contests has yet to be announced --fingers crossed.

So, in closing, I know there are many reasons to invest your money in writing contests. But do your homework and avoid scams. One way to do this is to enter contests run by well-established literary magazines--such as Prism International contests. I'd also advise you to read contest rules carefully and closely follow their guidelines.

Good luck

Sharing my author journey...