Sunday, August 30, 2015

Finding The Right Word by Leanne Dyck

I've always been able to express myself better through writing. Verbally, I grasp for words, use an incorrect word or mispronounce words. The problem worsens when I'm addressing a non-supportive audience.

For example...

I was a member of a group for a while. Two members of this group were really smart. They had the pieces of paper to prove it. (But I suspect, even with their degrees, they suffered from low self-esteem.) I made the mistake of telling them that I was hoping to become an author. I could see and hear them judging me. They openly made fun of the way I spoke. I'd hoped that this type of bullying would end when I become an adult, but sadly it didn't--at least not in that group. And, although they didn't come right out and say it to my face, I knew they thought I was diluting myself with my dreams of becoming an author.

If something similar is happening to you or someone you love IT NEEDS TO STOP!

Here's what helped me...

-Realize that the power is yours to give. If you are around people who don't support or respect or empower you, end the relationship. Or, if ending the relationship isn't possible, minimize your time around these people.

-Realize that you can play the victim or the hero in your life. If you want to be the hero, act like it; see yourself as one. Believe in your abilities. Believe in your dreams. Don't ask for validation from an outside source. Draw from the strength within you.

To be honest, I had strong doubts that I could fulfill my dream. If I hadn't, I would have been able to ignore the bullying. My biggest concern was that in order to be an author I had to sound like I was smart. My biggest fear was that I didn't sound that way. My biggest fear was that I wasn't smart enough.

But, with restored believe in myself, I sought out those who would support my dream. I found them in my community and I found them in books. 

I bought and listened to the audio book version of Stephen King's On Writing. And he said, 

'Put your vocabulary on the top shelf of your toolbox, and don't make any conscious effort to improve it. (You'll be doing that as you read, of course...but that comes later.) One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed. Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you'll never use 'emolument' when you mean 'tip'... Remember that the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate and cogitate, you will come up with another word--of course you will, there's always another word--but it probably won't be as good as your first one, or as close to what you really mean.' 
That's what he said. And what I heard him say was that I was good enough. Me. I.  And so are you. Don't let anyone stand between you and your dream.


Kristen Lamb wrote an interesting article on self motivation. Here's the link.

Next Monday: Book review:  When Everything Feels Like the Movies 

Sharing my author journey...

On Monday, August 24th, Louise Penny (mystery author) was The Vancouver Writers Fest featured author.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book review: Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (part two)

Part two of a review written by me (while in middle school). And in case you missed it (or what to re-read it), here's the link to part one.

Alec versus Angel (continuation)

“Prosecution, please state your case.”

“Your Honour, we, of the Prosecution, are going to bring to light a bond and a special love between two persons: a love so strong that it withstands all. The love that is evident between Miss Tess Duberfield and Mr. Angel Clare. To illustrate this bond I shall call one member of this party to the stand. Prosecution calls Mr. Clare to the stand.”

“Will Mr. Clare take the stand?”

“State your full name.”

“Angel Clare.”

“Place your right hand on the Bible.”

“I swear by almighty God to tell the truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.”

“Do you remember the night that Miss Tess Durberfield told you of the abuse which she had suffered at the hands of Mr. d'Urberville.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Do you remember how she reacted when she heard your tale of the affair you had in London?”

“Yes, she excepted it with... Her love was unconditional.”

“I submit to your Honour that it was unconditional love in the relationship between Miss Durberfield and Mrs. Angel Clare that guaranteed that the woman, Miss Durberfield, would never be cold heartedly mistreated. A guarantee missing in the relationship Miss Tess Durberfield had with Mr. Alec d'Urberville.
How did you feel when she told you about the unfortunate affair she had with Mr. d'Urberville?”

“Well, I suppose I felt anger not so much at Tess as the man who tampered wth my perfect image of womanhood. I was so naive.
I suppose I even felt that I had been deceived by her. I felt that she had simply used her respectability. It was in the heat of the moment I was insane with suffering. Her honesty cut so deep.
If she had only somehow made me listen. I would have understood. I would have.”

“Do you remember what brought you back to her.”

“I suppose it was while I was away in Brazil I came to realize that my love for her was not based on labels but on the woman.”

“I submit to you, Your Honour, that at the hands of Alec d'Urberville Tess Durberfield suffered more than she could have ever suffered at the hands of Angel Clare. The witness is now yours.”

“Mr. Clare, the member of the Prosecution did touch on the flight you took away from Miss Tess Durberfield, but not to my satisfaction. I would like to ask you if you loved Tess as much as you profess you do what would motivate you to pick up and leave the woman you loved? Furthermore, what would cause you to stay away for one year during which time the woman you supposedly loved fell on such hard times that she unable to do little else but to return to the only man who seemed to care enough for her take her in—Mr. D'Urberville?”

“I suppose, sir, that I fled out of anger. Yet, the anger swiftly turned to sorrow as I realized fully what I had done to the woman I loved.
However, I stayed away one year to give her a chance to really come to terms with what she wanted to do.”

“One year for such a decision?”

“I too feel on hard times thus it was beyond my capabilities to return to her.”

“The Defense rests, your Honour.”

“The Prosecution rests, your Honour.”

“In light of the evidence that has been brought forward to me in this court of law the court has no other choose but to find in favour of Mr. Angel Clare.”

Next post:  What do you do when others don't believe in you?

Sharing my author journey...
How do you remain excited about writing?
One way I do is by reading good books and listening to authors I admire.

I've reviewed not one but two mysteries penned by Louise Penny:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Book Review: Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (part one)

In middle school, I was assigned the task of reviewing Tess of the d'Ubervilles. To complete this task, I wrote a short story--and my creativity won my teacher's praise. 

In Tess of the d'Ubervilles, Tess' family are desperately poor. So poor, so desperate that they cling to one hope--that their rich relative will save them. They send Tess off to elicit his help. How she was treated is the subject of my short story.

Alec versus Angel

“All rise the right Honourable Judge Past Judgment presiding.”

“State the case.”

“Mr. Angel Clare versus Mr. Alec d'Urberville.”

“Defense call your first witness.”

“Your honour we, of the defense, are going to prove that it is not Mr. d'Urberville who is at fault in this case but rather the person of Mr. Clare. To prove this point I shall call one witness your honour and only one. Your Honour we, of the defense, call Mr. Alec d'Urberville take the stand?”

“Will Mr. d'Urberville take the stand?”

“State your full name.”

“Alec d'Urberville.”

“Place your right hand on the Bible.”

“I swear by all mighty God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God.”

“Now, Mr. d'Urberville do you recall the conversation that you had with a Miss Tess Durberfield the day after that fateful night?”


“Do you recall the promise that you made her?”


“Will you please state this promise the the Judge?”


“I said: 'Upon my lost soul, I won't be bad toward you again, Tess. And if certain circumstances should arise—you understand—in which you are in the least need, the least difficulty, send me one line, and you shall have by return whatever you require.'  (p. 106)

“Thank you, Mr. d'Urberville. Do you also recall the action that you took when Miss Tess Durberfield came to you broken hearted and alone?”

“I invited her into my home.”

“I submit to you, Your Honour, that these are the actions, pure and simple, of a man taken so badly with the the seductive beauty of one woman that he can not help but love her.”

“Love, ha! Lust is what it was! You should be hanged.”

“I, at least, do not hide under the disguise of a gentleman. I told her once that I was 'a damn bad fellow. I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability.'” (p. 106) “This is far more than your cowardly voice could ever utter.”

“Mr. d'Urberville and Mr. Clare if you persist in this childish behaviour you will be found in contempt of court. Do you understand?”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Then can I gather from this that there will be no more disruptions in my court?!”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Yes, your Honour.”

“Then the defense may continue with his case.”

“Thank you, your Honour. My client, in a rude way, perhaps, has brought to light an important point. It is simply this, that he never lied to the girl. He was always quite honest with her in all respects. All that was done to Miss Tess Durberfield was done out of love and honesty. With these points well made, the defense rests. The witness is now yours my honourable associate.”

“Mr. d'Urberville is it not true that Miss Tess Durberfield did once state her puzzlement towards your supposedly honest actions in the form of this statement: 'I didn't understand your meaning till it was too late.' ?” (p. 105)

“Yes, but...”

“A simple yes or no is all that is required Mr. d'Urberville.”


“Is it not true, that this sort of behaviour has taken place before.”

“I do not understand your meaning?”

“Is it not true, Mr. d'Urberville, that you have got young maidens in the family way before?”

“I do not make a hobby of it if that is what you mean.”

“A simple yes or no.”


“Is it not true, Mr. d'Urberville, that Miss Tess Durberfield did once stat that she did not return affections in the form of this statement: 'My eyes were dazed by you for a little, and that was all.'  (p. 105)


“How did this comment make you feel Mr. d'Urberville? And may I remind you that you are under oath.”

“A little hurt that she did not return my affections. A little envious of the man she may choose to love.”

“Is it not possible such feelings could lead you to take actions that later you had cause to regret?”

“I suppose it may.”

“Could this possibly be the reason that Miss Tess Durberfield bore your child. Could you have possibly felt that the fact that she did not desire you justified your molding her life so that no man would want her?”

“Surely, your Honour can see that my client can not possibly answer such a question?”

“Your Honour, I withdraw the question.”

“Defense, have you finished presenting your case?”

Sharing my author journey...

Two truths that I discovered (or re-discovered) about writing this week...

"Makes an islander proud"
Mayne Island's fall fair 
photos by Leanne Dyck

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Irene's Reading (short story) (humour) by Leanne Dyck

How NOT to act during writing group. 

photo by Leanne Dyck

At 11 AM on the last Monday of the month want-to-be authors met at the local community centre to lend each other support in the development of their craft. That is to say, most gathered to lend support. At least one participant had another reason for her faithful attendance.

Irene stormed through the door to claim the chair at the head of the table. Her glasses had thick black arms that coiled over her large elf-shaped ears. Short cropped wiry, salt and pepper hair framed those ears that stood at sharp angles away from her head. Two fuzzy, grey caterpillars had crawled across her forehead but stopped in the middle to do battle and, mid-melee, had permanently frozen there, to form eyebrows.

“Would you like tea? It's finished brewing,” someone offered.

“Thank you. Yes, I'll have a cup.” Irene waited to be served. She smiled at the volunteer when a cup and saucer appeared on the table in front of her. “Cream and sugar?” Irene took a sip, but, before swallowing, rolled the liquid around in her mouth. Slosh. Slosh. Slosh. She spit it back into the cup.

“Sorry, I forgot. I'll... Well, I'll try again.” The serf fled and quickly returned.

Others left the table to help themselves to tea but returned when Irene said. “It's time.”

Irene rose and unbuckled the straps of her briefcase. Like a knight from Camelot preparing to display the Holy Grail, she slowly revealed a folder. She withdrew several sheets of paper and after distributing them, explained, “This is my submission. It's entitled The Word Artists. It's a... Ah, well, to say more would spoil it. I'll just read it. Shall I?” Prepare to be entertained and amazed, Irene thought as she added, “Are you ready to listen?”

Those sitting around the table assured her they were. They were a mixed group—mostly female, mostly over fifty years of age.

Pleased at their eagerness, Irene moved to the edge of her chair. “The Word Artist.” She savoured the words. “Sometimes while in quiescence, other times while engaged in some menial task my mind.” Irene paused to slurp her tea. “My omniscient mind absorbs, manipulates, conceives.”

She set the paper on the table, placed her hands palms down on either side and lowered her voice. “Inspiration.” Irene bounced in her seat at the rhythm of her words. “Cerebellum fires/Angels whisper/Creation begins.”

“Is this prose?” someone asked.

“I think it's a poem.”

“Oh, but it didn't start out that way.”

“Yes, but this part here does seem to—.”

Irene's heavy sigh was deafening.

But, she thought, I must be patient with them. They have a lot to learn and who better to teach them. “This composition,” Irene ran a hand lovingly across the paper. “soars above restrictions of genre. This. Is. An Experience.” Irene frowned at her audience. “Now, please don't interrupt again.”

``Yes, of course. We're very sorry,” someone offered, smoothing feathers.

Irene coughed into her hand, rustled the paper and continued. “I sit at my ship of journey, computer screen window, pen my magic wand.

“Pen on Paper/The keys click/Words, words, words flow/Worlds are created/Characters breathe on paper/Plot unfolds/Readers captured/Brilliance achieved/Genius manifests.”

Irene placed her creation on the table, laced her long fingers together, smiled to herself and waited for compliments.

Revised on May 13, 2020

Next two Mondays:  two part review of Tess of the D'urbeville by Thomas Hardy

photo by Leanne Dyck


My friend and fellow author, Amber Harvey, is releasing a new book...

Magda's Mysterious Stranger

book launch
Miners Bay Books
Sunday, August 16
noon to 2 PM

Sharing my author journey...

You should always submit your best work but...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Book review: Sing A Worried Song by William Deverell

I meet Arthur Beauchamp in my aunt's living room. He looked interesting so I picked him up. He was engaging, entertaining and clever. I knew I wanted to further our relationship and looked forward to our next meeting.

I meet Mr. Beauchamp's author, William Deverell, at a Crime Writers of Canada event -- Bloody Words

Recently, I meet Mr. Deverell again on Mayne Island. He brought Mr. Beauchamp with him -- all wrapped up in a shiny new book. So, of course, I bought a copy.

I flipped open Sing A Worried Song and Mr. Beauchamp charmed me from page one. Even though, at times, he seemed more superhero than human. 

Before beginning his author career, William Deverell was a lawyer. The first half of Sing A Worried Song focuses on one of his court cases.

Though I practised mainly as a criminal defence counsel, I was on occasion retained by the Attorney-General of British Columbia to prosecute homicide trails, some of which attracted wide public attention.
The trail featured in the opening section of this novel roughly recreates one of them, an alleged thrill killing in Vancouver of a lonely down-and-outer.  
Mr. Deverell makes excellent use of his font of knowledge regarding the Canadian judicial system. And I welcomed his light touches of humour. 

The second half of the book takes place over twenty years later and is set on a Gulf Island. Island culture is depicted with warmth, humour, and intrigue. Mr. Deverell introduces the reader to mysterious island activities -- such as everyone seeming to know your business before you do.

Interesting to note, one of the points Mr. Deverell made at Bloody words is that author's should write what they know. He certainly does this in Sing A Worried Song. As well as having been a lawyer, Mr. Deverell also resides, half the year, on a remote Gulf Island.

The only difficulty I had with the book was the overabundance of names. Through the course of the book a single character may be referred to by three separate names -- surname, first name and nickname. This forced me to re-read more than one passage several times to find clarity.

Book blurb from dust jacket...

This sixth novel in the acclaimed Arthur Beauchamp series.
For Arthur, the prospect was a challenge, something different:  a sensational murder case, with its dark irony of a happy-faced clown being bumped off by an alleged thrill killer. It was a chance to see things from the other side, to work with the vaunted Homicide section of the Vancouver police. A chance to demonstrate how a prosecution should be run:  transparent and even-handed, without guile or hostility.


What book does William Deverell recommend?

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant

Worried Man Blues sung by Woodie Guthrie

Submit here...

Room (Canadian women's literary journal) asks:  Have you submitted to the Women of Colour issue yet?

Here's the link to their submissions page.

Deadline:  Saturday, August 9th

and/or here...

The Malahat Review's 2015 Creative Nonfiction contest
Deadline Tuesday, August 4th

For details, click here.

Attend this...

The Vancouver Writers Fest offers an evening with Louise Penny (popular Canadian mystery writer)
Monday, August 24
The Vancouver Playhouse
doors open at 6:30 PM

Sharing my author journey...

Another month has come and gone and this is what I did with it...