Sunday, May 31, 2015

Laureen's Manuscript (short story) 2/4 by Leanne Dyck

(Link to part 1)

photo by Leanne Dyck

Continuation of Laureen's Submission...

Laureen's submission arrived at Acquisition Editor Cora Green's laptop at 5 AM on a Monday morning. Cora's padded wall cubical was sparsely decorated--a notepad and a small glass jar full of pens sat on the corner of the desk. Cora's purse was in a drawer. She'd obtained the job two months ago--celebrating by drinking and dancing too much at a pub with a few friends. The next day she'd paid for the fun with a headache.

Because the submission was one of too many, it sat unread, unnoticed until 9 PM Saturday night. It would have waited longer but Cora's boyfriend of three weeks stood her up with some lame excuse of coming down with the flu.

"Sure. I understand," she'd told him, over the phone. But she hadn't.

I should dump him, she told herself. But she knew she wouldn't. He was just too cute--sandy blond hair, large green eyes, and a dimple. It was the dimple that melted Cora's heart and made her think that he was a sweet guy.


Monday morning, Mr. Thomas Knight leaned over his desk in his corner office, jotting notes regarding an upcoming marketing campaign into his overstuffed suede-bound Day-Timer. Swiveling in his chair, Thomas faced his computer, strolled through his emails, and discovered that Cora had forwarded a submission. His mood darkened. 

Cora, you know I prefer a hard copy. Please deliver this submission to my office, he typed.


After reading Mr. Knight's email, Cora immediately set to work, and moments later, the printer spits out the last page. Times like these she felt like a golden lab playing fetch. I should have told him to print his own copy. I should have... Cora fumed as she headed for Knight's office. But she knew she'd never complained--she was too intimidated by him and enjoyed her job too much to make waves.

Mr. Knight's voice drifted through the crack between the door and the doorframe. "Just calm down. Calm down."

Cora poked her head through the gap.

Mr. Knight waved her in. "Just a second, please," he told the caller and cupped his hand over the phone. "Thank you, Cora. Please leave it on the desk."

Cora did as instructed and then left quickly.


What Does An Acquisitions Editor Do? by Joyce Gram (editor)

Acquisitions Editor from the Inside Jobs web site

I published an article with Acquisitions Editor, Sunny Frazier (link)

Next post:  Part 3 of Laureen's Submission (Focus on Thomas Knight, publisher)

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Laureen's Manuscript (short story) 1/4 by Leanne Dyck

I hope you enjoy part one of this four part metafiction short story. 

"Flower in my pond"
photo by Leanne Dyck 
This suburb of Victoria on Vancouver Island had no shortage of fascinating characters. And they existed in the most unlikely of places. The house was grey stucco with a concrete walk that led to a white door. Neighbors would never have guessed the adventures that occurred within its walls. People were born, lived and died--sometimes at the hands of a murderer. Laureen Torgelson witnessed it all. Some would have said that she and her pen created it all. The adventures had begun shortly after Laureen had been laid off from her teacher-librarian postion at the local High School.

Even though Laureen was well over forty, she looked much younger. Retaining youth was hard work; she wore night cream and in the morning plucked grey hairs from her temples. That is to say, she used to. Lately other people's lives had taken over her. She loved spending time with these people. She didn't want their relationship to end but she'd known from the start that this was the desired outcome. In fact, she'd religiously worked to achieve this goal. Still it was with no shortage of trepidation that she'd told herself, today is the day.

Laureen leaned towards her computer screen. She read the email she'd been writing-- checking for verb tense, spelling accuracy and clarity of meaning. "Please accept the attached ten pages or should it read please find?" Laureen wondered, aloud--talking to herself, that too was new.

She'd read the attached pages half a dozen times. And she recited words, phrases and paragraphs in her sleep--annoying her husband. But he knew how much stress she was under so he'd rolled over and tried to ignore her.

Jon often told his air traffic control co-workers. "I'd never be a writer. It's way too stressful."

Laureen rubbed the belly of the Buddha doll that sat on the window sill beside her desk, kissed her fingers and ran them across the computer screen before she pressed send.

"Oh, no. I shouldn't have done that. Not yet. I wasn't... It wasn't ready," she moaned five seconds later as she paced the length of the back bedroom that had become her writer's den. It's all too late, she thought and crumpled into a tight little ball in her chair.

She breathed out slowly and visualized her email travelling in cyberspace past grey granite mountaintops and through golden yellow wheat fields to a glass and steel office tower in Canada's largest city--Toronto, Ontario.

"Beauty in my front yard"
photo by Leanne Dyck

Next post: Part two of Laureen's Submission (focus on Acquisitions Editor, Cora Green)

What is metafiction? 
Answer:  click this link

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Review: a chapter in The Holy Man by Susan Trott

I'm a member of a book club that is currently reading The Holy Man by Susan Trott.

Each week, one of us delves more deeply into a chapter and presents our thoughts to the group. Here is my summary of a chapter...

This chapter is appropriately named 'heart' because heart is the central theme of this chapter.

We are told how much Joe (the holy man) enjoys the talents of each member of the hermitage, equally.

Helena's passion is cooking wholesome, delicious food. She (quote) 'had established a chain of cheap nutritional restaurants in poor areas that were also cooking schools.' (end of quote) And thus in this way, she shares her passion with those who can truly benefit from her knowledge.

Hail and hearty Kim enjoys moving rocks. He does this to build his upper body strength, but Joe is unclear of any additional plan. I think this eludes to the passion of simply being.

All the monks seem to truly enjoy living in the hermitage because they are often heard whistling, singing and laughing.

The monks are already upset about Joe's decision to spend the winter alone in the hermitage, so he doesn't tell them about his heart troubles, but, instead, tries to deal with this problem by himself by popping heart pills. He worries that he is growing dependent on these pills. 

All the monks are affectionate towards Joe, but Daniel watches these interactions and grows jealous. He thinks Joe shares (quote) 'intimate moments with them and not with him.' (end of quote)

Joe understands how Daniel feels but realizes that if he does anything to try and solve this problem, it would only worsen things. (quote) 'He knew that Daniel was troubled. He seemed to be feeling resentment, as well as jealousy. Joe considered resentment one of the worst of the evils, worse than envy or hate or egotism, although all the feelings were kin. But resentment was insidious; it ate up your vitals. It alienated you from your comrades. You felt wronged, a victim. And you wanted to get even.' (end of quote)

This resentment partly steams from Daniel being forced to redefine himself. His passion is dance and yet, as he ages, his body is failing him. The level of success he has been able to obtain wasn't good enough for him, and he worries that the days he can devout to his craft are numbered. Joe wishes that there was a pill Daniel could take to control his bitterness.

The chapter ends with Helena returning to the kitchen and Daniel and Joe, together, laughing at Kim's accident. This laughter vaporizes (quote) 'the creatures inside them' (end of quote). End of chapter.

My thoughts regarding this chapter...

At one time or another, I think we all have reached the point where Daniel is. I know I've reached it over and over again in my life. My passion has led me from my dreams of being a journalist to a fourteen year career caring for children in day care centres to becoming a small businesswoman to a knitwear designer to a writer. As I traveled down this path, I discovered more aspects of who I was, I uncovered new talents. If I could sit down with Daniel, I would say grieve the loss but don't dwell in it. One dream may die but you're not dead. Celebrate the opportunity to discover a brand new you.

Last week I talked about The Holy Man in my article:  Are book clubs too confining? (link)

Next post: Laureen's Submission
A metafiction short story with multiple points of view--a writer, an acquisitions editor, a publisher. The main character is Laureen, a pre-published author.

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are book clubs too confining? by Leanne Dyck

My husband working on his Mother's Day present

Mine is the path of the full bookshelf, not the way of the book club.

If you are a member of a book club, you must commit to a book, like you do a wedding ring. And the book may not even be chosen by you. It may be an arranged marriage. You must find meaning, even if the page is drool or foggy. You must be entertained, even if the tale doesn't capture you. You must, for the purpose of a book club is to discuss a book. How can you do that if you haven't read the book cover to cover? How can you do that if you haven't discovered the truth that waits between the pages?

But if your bookshelf is full of must-reads the choice is yours. The power is yours.

"Entertain me," you say to the author. And you read the first few pages of one book and then the other. You continue to audition one author after another until you find one that speaks to you, that entertains you, that has written his story for you. 

Mine is the path of the full bookshelf.


I've started attending a book club. Do you need to read that again? Here:  I've joined a book club. 

We read the same book. One book to entertain, edify, enlighten all readers. One book to bind them all.

The Holy Man 
Buddhism and insomnia led novelist Susan Trott to invent an alternative to counting sheep. She counted a line of people waiting to see a holy man. This mental game, unresolved each night as sleep arrived, inspired The Holy Man.
Each chapter of this charming book tells the tale of a pilgrim and his problem. There is a man who is incurably jealous of his wife, the grandmother who never receives thank-you notes from her grandchildren, the war veteran who can't forgive himself for the lives he took. As their stories unfold, we come to realize that we're all in here, somewhere, with our wounded egos, insecurities, bad tempers, impatience, and ambitiousness.
These simple and beautiful tales help us unravel the knots of everyday anxieties with profound ease, humor, wisdom, and elegance. Through them, we understand that a guru's cures never really cure us; they simply show us the good things we are but cannot see. "If you look on everyone as a holy person," the Holy Man advises, "you will be happy."

I didn't choose this book. 

Chapter by chapter, we dissect it. We cut deep. Wisdom like blood flows. Our fingers are stained with it. Wisdom -- about the individual, about humanity. 

Within the pages of this book, I see myself. Within the pages of this book, I find those who people my world. And the discussion that the book generates points the way to growth, to healing. 

Would I have found this book on my own?


Would I have delved this deeply, engaged in this dialogue, gained this rich insight?


Mine is the way of the book club.

You need to be on Mayne Island this weekend.

May 17th
2 to 3:30 PM
ten author meet and greet
Miner's Bay bookstore
Mayne Island, BC

Next Monday: I review a chapter of The Holy Man

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Learning from other authors at New West Lit Fest by Leanne Dyck

Early Saturday morning, I sailed from Mayne Island to Vancouver Island, my destination was Douglas College -- the setting for New West Lit Fest...

I had planned to take the last ferry on Friday night but misread the ferry schedule. Hey, it happens.

I attended three workshops:

The Art & Engineering of Making a Living in the Writing World by Sylvia Taylor

Here's what I heard...

-the difference between an amateur and a professional author is that a professional never gives up.
-the more successful you are the more you need others in the publishing industry

Add to your To-do list...
-connect with your writing society
-you have to do stuff for free in the beginning and continue to do so

-there is room for everyone
-be open-hearted
-be focused
-continue to educate yourself
-stick with it
-be authentic
-building a successful career in the publishing industry isn't a race

Fundamentals for your author business
-web site
-business card

My takeaway: You can make a living as an author if you stick with it and are resourceful.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My Laptop by Neil McKinnon

Here's what I heard...

Resources for generating funny ideas:
-out of date practices or laws

What makes something funny?

uniting two things that don't normally go together (the Pope on a skateboard)
interpreting something in two ways (knock, knock jokes)

This type of humour is generally cruel -- racial jokes

3)The Forbidden

My example of this type of humour...
Jack and Jill went up the hill
And we all know why
nudge, nudge 
wink, wink

Writing humour is hard because humour is subjective. 

What will affect whether or not you find something funny?

your age
your sex
your background/culture
how you feel at the time

This is why it is important to know your intended audience.

Remember that you will never satisfy everyone.

If the reader takes offense, it's like offering candy to a diabetic. If the diabetic eats the candy it's her problem.

It's easier to write a publishable piece by adding humour

Time makes things funny

It's easier to write your story (article) first and then add the humour later. 

All jokes need a beginning, middle, and end--like all stories.

My takeaway:  It's easier to be a writer who adds humour to her writing, than a stand-up comedian.

Connecting with Children -- in print and in person by Lois Peterson

Here's what I heard...

To write for children... 
-you have to connect with children. Find out what they are interested in and what books they are reading 
-you have to remember the child you were, write for that child.
-you have to like children and want to be with them
-be honest about emotions
-find common ground
-share who you are 
-know that you will have manuscripts that remain in the drawer and never become books

Don't start by wanting to teach your reader something -- morals, values, etc.

Storytelling is powerful. Children need it.

Why do presentations for schools and libraries?

Because you want to get your book in the hands of teachers and librarians.

To visit schools and libraries...
-prepare by learning how to tell a good story
-don't send out mass mailings. Instead, focus on the contacts you already have -- could be friends of friends of friends who are teachers or librarians
-make it as easy as possible for them to invite you.
-send them a letter of proposal for your presentation. A week before your presentation, send them a follow-up letter
-be very clear as to what you will need during your presentations. Express these needs to the teacher or librarian
-it's very helpful to know the curriculum. You are far more likely to get an invitation if your book fits into something they are currently studying.

During the presentation...
-go in prepared, but be prepared to be flexible to children's needs
-create a theme for your presentation (i.e. begin at the beginning or where ideas come from or how I grew up)
-use visual aids--but not technology, too stressful. These visual aids can serve as an anchor for presentation. They can also be conversation starts -- something to ask questions about, for you and the children
-engage the librarian or teacher
-do far more talking than reading
-talk to them about the process of writing a book. Make writing a book seem doable. Explain that it takes luck, skill, and hard work. Give them a realistic view of what it means to be an author.
-we are part of a culture, refer to other authors.
-invite them into the process by asking them 'what if...' questions
-be interested in them
-allow the children to be honest about your book. If they don't like your book explain that that's why there are so many other books.
-ask the children to sign your book

A children's fiction author doesn't make money by visiting schools and libraries. You make money by having your books nominated 
for example...
-the Forest of Reading Festival

This festival 'is Canada's largest recreational reading program of its kind. More than 250,000 Ontario children read and vote for their favourite book in eight age-specific award categories every year.' --from the Forest of Reading of Festival of Trees website

My takeaway:  A children's fiction author is an advocate for reading. 

And if this is true and you are a children's fiction author, you probably will be interested in this link: Reading Link Challenge

As you can see it was an information-rich festival. Well worth the expense and time (this year it took me two and a half hours) of getting there. Oh, yes, and the festival is free.

Sharing my author journey...