Sunday, November 29, 2015

How to build an online community by Leanne Dyck

photo by Leanne Dyck

We, writers, think we are working alone but, in reality, we heavily rely on others for support. We hope our readers will find our work and tell others about it. We hope publishers will accept our submissions. We connect with other authors for information and inspiration.  

How do we build this supportive community?

During Word Vancouver, I attended
Getting Started and Staying Motivated as a Published Children's Book Author with panelists D.R. Graham, Janet M. Whyte, Mark David Smith and Aleesah Darlison
Establishing and Growing Your Digitial Footprint with Trevor Battye and Suzanne Norman

Here's what I heard...

Before being published...
-join professional organizations
-build your social network. Be active on 2 to 4 social media platforms. There are many to choose from. Pick what works for you.
-immerse yourself in your chosen genre and in the publishing world

After being published...
-with regards to social media, follow who your publisher is following
-create an author bio on Amazon and Goodreads

Some writers balk at being on social media. They view it as wasting time. They insist that their time is better spent working on their writing. But discoverability is the biggest problem in publishing, today. And your (potential) readers spend1 in every 5 minutes online. Readers want to connect directly with authors. Online is the new word of mouth. The best way to start is to build 
an author web site that has your own domain (for example, Build a website even if the only thing on there is your blog. But don't build a blog and forget about it. Anything you do online should be consistent.

Rules for blogging
-link, tag, acknowledge (acknowledge comments, etc.)
-minimal wordage posts
-site quotes
-keep information accessible
-use images
-engage with your followers

Hierarchy of fan involvement
-connect with you through social media
-read your blog
-subscribe to your e-newsletter
-attend your events
-buy your books

More info:  Kevin Kelly and 1000 true fans

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times it's getting harder and harder to attract a publisher. 
You've got a great book that you know readers want. What do you do?
Crowdfunding, is one way.
Wikipedia defines crowdfunding as 'the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.'
Through crowdfunding you can...
-demonstrate that you have an audience for your book
-pre-sell your book
-self-publish your book

Examples:  Seth Godin raised over 280,000 dollars before writing the book.


How to Create A Kick Ass Crowdfunding Campaign and Make Your Dreams Come True

You can build a supportive online community. But it requires time and a consistent effort. 

I know it works because, due to a consistent effort, I have been able to build a community of over 5,000 followers (on Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). If this "Luddite" can do it, you can too.

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Sharing my author journey...

Something cool has been added to this blog.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book review: Every Word (YA/mystery) by Ellie Marney

I took a bite of my breakfast omelet. 

Knock. Knock. Knock. 

I chewed quickly but not quick enough. Bim, our self appointed guard dog, beat me to the door. He barked a greeting that sounded more like a threat. My translation:  Don't bother her; she's eating. 

I reached the door, turned the knob and... 

My husband stood there with a package in his hands. "I was outside cleaning eavestroughs when this was delivered. It feels like a book." 

Days before I'd signed up to participate in the Tundra blog tour for Ellie Marney's new book - Every Word. Could this be her book?

One envelop removed. Then another. Finally... Yes!

James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents without saying good-bye to this partner in crime, Rachel Watts.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior -- not that Mycroft's ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. Unable to resist, Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.
The theft of a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator and the deaths of Mycroft's parents... Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of these events -- or will she lose him forever?

Bim transformed from guard dog into reading companion. 

Time was I read for entertainment. That all changed when I decided to become a writer. Sure, I still want to be entertained but now I also want to collect how-to tips for my own writing. I want to learn what works and what doesn't. So, now, I always take notes while I read...

The Prologue
There's a theory being passed from new author to new author -- publishing houses don't like prologues. Well, obviously Tundra doesn't mind them. 

Together we take in the crinkling underexposed world that will soon become the day (prologue)
The descriptions are delicately handled and sensory-rich. Marney's bio explains that she writes short stories as well as YA. Did she learn how to craft such fine descriptions by writing those story stories?

The Beginning
I'm immediately plopped into the story with no establishment of setting. I find this jarring. And I wonder why Marney choose to begin these chapters with dialogue. She's already demonstrated her command of description.

The Middle
Marney has found a solution for the saggy middle--action. She writes nail biting scenes very well.

Marney skillfully weaves references to her first book into her second -- not enough to upset me (a newcomer to her work), just enough to make me wish I had read book one. (Hmm, could there be a trip to the bookstore in my future?)

The End
The cliff hanger in the second to last chapter made me devour the final chapter in a single gulp. 
The story ends with a surprising reveal -- it explains a lot and at the same time leads the way for even more mysteries in book three.

The setting
Much of Every Word is set in England -- a country I long to visit and thanks to Marney I feel like I have. The London she describes is like a comfortable old shoe.

The main character (protagonist)
Rachel Watts flies half-way around the world to support the guy who she thinks may still be her boyfriend. Pathetic? Right?
Rachel is resourceful, compassionate, intelligent and courageous, but never pathetic.

Sure there is a intriguing mystery. But that's not what makes me read on. No, I'm hooked on Rachel and Mycroft's relationship. (This from a reader of mysteries, never hardly ever romance.)
My mind goes on vacation, and my breathing catches, so I'm gasping every time he does simple things -- putting his arm around my shoulders, or touching his lips gently to mine, like now (p. 13)
Favourite quotes
I enjoyed Marney's Australian turn of phrase...
'I pull up my drooping footy socks.' (p. 4)
'I'm so bush-whacked.' (p. 40)

And her prose that reads like poetry...
'[The moon] swims in a halo of golden light, like an egg yolk floating in a pale sway of foam.' (p. 62)
'We sink lower and lower, our eyes closed together, the warmth at each shoulder, and we wait for this ride to end.' (p. 334)

The Author

Ellie Marney was born in the tropical northeast of Australia, and has lived in Indonesia, Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about kids' literature and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go, her partner and four sons still lover her. 
Ellie's short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Word is her second novel for young adults. 

Visit Ellie Marney's author website. (Link)


Click this link to visit the other bloggers participating in this blog tour.

Next post:  (Monday, November 30th) 
You understand that it is important to build an on-line community. But your question is how...
How to Build an On-line Community

Sharing my author journey...

Quotes from my latest published story...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Character Development by Leanne Dyck

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Have you ever received comments like...

Your characters sound the same, act the same, think the same. They're all the same.

Each writer faces the same problem -- to develop distinctively different characters. It's tricky because all of your characters are the product of your imagination. They are of you but they can't be exactly like you nor can they be exactly like any of your other characters. The goal is to create realistic, complex characters.

How do you do that?

What makes a character unique? 

During Word Vancouver, I attended Bennett R. Coles' presentation

What are the Outside Influences on Your Character? 

Here's what I heard...

No character exists in a vacuum.

Outside influences can be overt or covert

Overt influences are easy to spot (attended Harvard, grew up in Toronto, etc.)
A writer must work hard to elude to a covert influence. Details must be wove in over many chapters. But a covert influence maybe the strongest influence.

Outside influences can interact with each other 

To incorporate outside influences, a writer must... 

identify what they are and determine what effect they have on the character.
a)nature of the influence (what effect)
b)strength of the influence

Determine what effect influences have on each other

Show don't Tell

To develop you character collect the following information...

Core personality:
Profession influence:
Family influence:
Relationship influence:
Societal influence:
Other influence:

Despite the fact that your character has turned her back on family, socio-economic status, education, etc. they still influence her.

Get into your character's heads. Of course, there is a piece of us in each of our characters. But they have to be themselves.

Next post: This Friday (November 20) I will be reviewing Every Word (YA mystery/romance)

The Every Word blog tour begins on Monday, November 16th. Here's the link for more information.  

Sharing my author journey...

How did I become a contributing author of...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Book review: Day of the Bees by Thomas Sanchez

Publisher:  Vintage Books 
first edition:  July 2001

back cover blurb:  Day of the Bees celebrates passion and creativity as it explores the lives of a famous painter, Zermano, and his beautiful muse Louise during World War II. A novel of obsession, art, and war, it reveals the sacrifices made for love--of person and country.

An American art historian is seeking to discover why the painter abandoned Louise during the war. Visiting Provence after Louise's death, the scholar finds letters that piece together a tempestuous affair with startling revelations about her wartime experiences--her participation in the French Resistance, her struggles to elude a sadistic officer, and her intimacy with a mystical beekeeper. Spanning a panoramic landscape of fifty years, Day of the Bees is a haunting and lyrical portrait of the complex emotional chasms that can separate even the greatest of loves.

The opening chapters read like a tour guide's introduction to a foreign land.  

A pleasure to read...
Most of the story is told in letters. They convey secrets an artist shares with his muse--the longings, the dangers, the history, the passion. This is a quick compelling read. It an ideal book to escort you on your commute to and from work. 

Writing tip...
Letters are such a clever writing device. Through them you can get deep inside your character and also pull back to report on the actions of other characters.

To love takes courage. It leaves one vulnerable to a brutal world and yet it also offers protection and gives you strength. 

How many men have gone into how many women and felt another man there? (p. 231)
Heaven has no value unless hell exists. (p. 279) 

(my dad in uniform circa 1940s)

Please click this link 
Remembering Them on Remembrance Day
to read the article I published on this blog last year

From the Heart is an uplifting book. Proceeds support needy and deserving High School students. To order, email Gary Doi (

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Slow Writing Movement by Leanne Dyck

Are you gearing up for NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month)? Are you beginning to sweat after reading that last question? Are you dreading the sleepless nights and the too short days? Is your stress level through the roof? Are you beginning to hate writing?

Well, you could read Ruth Harris' blog article on how to write faster. In it, Ruth not only gives you advice on how to write faster but also includes a list of resources.


Why put yourself through all that stress? Why divorce yourself from your life to sit alone with your computer? Why?

There is a better way...

You could buck the tread to go faster. Instead of increasing your stress level... Instead of starting to hate writing... Instead of the MacDonald's fast food writing you could join the slow writing movement. 


Do what I do. I don't put any pressure on myself to achieve a certain word count or page goal. And yet I'm very pleased with my productivity level. I currently have sixteen manuscripts in publisher slush piles.


The key for me is not to write fast but to keep writing. I often write more than one manuscript at a time and always (usually) am working on a project. But all you have to do is keep writing -- word after word, page after page. By doing this, you will finish your writing project. And instead of increasing stress, you'll increase your skill level and your passion for writing.

Bottom line...  

You can write faster or... You can just keep writing. Choose what works for you.

On the other hand...

The Glorious Insanity That is NaNoWriMo by H.E. James

Next week:  Book review:  Day of the Bees (historical fiction)

Sharing my author journey...

I'm proud to be one of the contributing authors...