Sunday, December 27, 2015

Putting a bow on 2015

2015 whished passed in a blur. One minute I'm sitting in the sun, the next I'm walking my dog in the frosty air. It's time to examine the year the blur.

In 2015, I was published in this anthology.

Thanks to your support, 2015 was amazing. I began the year with apprehension due to a decision I'd made concerning this blog. The decision:  No more guest post Fridays. No more -- (link)  On January 4th, 2015, I explained this decision. I wrote...
As my own writing career demands more and more of my attention, I'm finding less and less time for everything else. And thus I've been forced to make a difficult decision. Effective January 16, I will no longer publish guest posts.
Yes, I worried. I worried that you would abandon this blog.

Boy, did you prove me wrong. In 2014, this blog reached 234,000 page views. And now it has over 251,000. That's an increase of over 17,000 page views. (In 2015, I published 52 posts. So that's approximately 327 page views per post. You rock!)

The most popular post in 2015 were...

How-to live a dream (320 page views)

The most popular book reviews...


Sing A Worried Song (mystery) by William Deverell (194 page views)


Every Word (YA/mystery) by Ellie Marney (149 page views)

The most popular creative writing (short story/poetry) posts...


Irene's Reading by Leanne Dyck (122 page views)


The Poem My Husband Inspired by Leanne Dyck (109 page views)

The most popular 'writing tips' posts... 


On Writing and Illustrating Kids Books (99 page views)

This is a yearly free event--well worth attending. In 2016, it will be held in the Vancouver Public Library from 7 to 8:30 P.M.


And Then: Writing Transactions (93 page views)

In 2015, I made a personal goal of making 100 submissions. I'm pleased to report that on December 15, 2015 I'd sent 103 submissions. That's 1.5% more submissions than I made in 2014. 

What are my blogging plans for 2016?

This blog will offer one new post every week. I will review books, share writing tips and publish my own short stories. I'm looking forward to spending 2016 with you. Best wishes for a healthy and happy new year.

In 2015, our beloved cat--Ticky--passed away, from old age. We took the love he gave us and adopted...

a nine year old miniature poodle/Maltese cross

What else does 2016 have in store for you?
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 is the year of the red monkey. Click this link, to read more. 

Next Post...
Just write. This post explains why.

Sharing my author journey...
What's an arch?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blessed be (poem) by Leanne Dyck

A short poem of meditation for growth and to give comfort

photo by L Dyck

There was a time
when I didn't feel the energy of the moon
when I feared the dark
when I forgot the magic of the rain

That time has passed

Now, I say...
teach me more
open my eyes
fill my heart

Blessed be

photo by L Dyck

More writing to celebrate solstice...

My Magic Garden by Gail Woodward (photos by Crystal Favel)

bear energy

Sharing my author journey...

My writing desk is like a private jet.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christa's publisher -- not by Leanne Dyck

photo by L Dyck

Christa was proud of her story. She believed it was her best work; she believed it was important; she believed it would be easy to find a publisher.

But I have to find the right publisher, she told herself. 

Finding the right publisher required Christa to do some detective work. She poured over the books in her home library and those at her local library and bookstore.  She sought out books that were similar to her own -- in subject matter and theme. Once found, she recorded the publisher's name and web site in a small notebook she carried. She bought Quill and Quire and read reviews of other books newly released by other publishers. 

One publisher stood book cover and type face above the rest. Christa spent hours on their web site. She closely studied their submission guidelines. Christa was advised to query first and then wait six months for a reply.

Christa carefully crafted her query letter and, hoping -- dreaming -- for the best, she sent it to the publisher.

Seven months later, the publisher contacted Christa and asked for three sample chapters.

"Oh, my gosh," she sang. "This is it. They want me."

It was love at first reply. Christa didn't even look at any other publisher. All the books she bought bore her publisher's  logo.

One's good, but more manuscripts will sweeten the deal, she told herself. So Christa revved up her computer and plowed through manuscript after manuscript.

She emailed her publisher and asked...

I have more manuscripts. Can I send them to you?

Her publisher wrote back...

Sure. Why not. Send us a sample...

So Christa sent more pages to the publisher and her dreams grew richer and more vivid. 

Not only will they accept my manuscript but they'll treat me like a rock star, she told herself. They'll send me on an all expenses paid vacation to their province. They'll rent me a room in a five star hotel. They'll give me a VIP tour of their publishing house. They'll see me for what I am -- a valuable prolific author.

A few days before Christmas -- three years after Christa's first contacted them -- her publisher (not) sent her a letter in the mail. It wasn't full of Christmas cheer. 

Thank you for sending us your work but...

Christa's relationship with the publisher was over before it had really started.

I asked Christa if she had any advise for other authors.

She said, "It's okay to get excited if they ask for a sample. But a sample isn't a manuscript. If they ask for a manuscript, it's okay to get even more excited. But a manuscript isn't a contract. Wait until after you've signed the contract to celebrate. But even then things can and do go wrong. Don't get carried way by your dreams. Keep writing and submitting. Don't put all your money on one pony. Submit to more than one publisher, at a time. And remember, just because one publisher sends you a rejection letter doesn't mean another one will."

To date, Christa has yet to sign a publishing contract for any of her novels. When asked if she is still writing, Christa smiled and said, "Yes, of course. Writing is my passion."

When asked if she was still looking for a publisher for her novels, Christa said, "I am working on new projects but I'd never trash my old manuscripts. I believe in them. They are good. I will find a publisher for them. I. Will."

And with an attitude like that, I know she will achieve her goal.

photo by L Dyck

More on publishing...

For me, publishing with a small press was a positive experience. I know working with them took my writing to the next level.

To learn more about this route, read Anne Goodwin's article:  Making Small-Press Publication Work For You

Sharing my author journey...

This week I've been playing detective.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Review: Cider House Rules by John Irving

From Life According to Garp to A Prayer for Owen Meany, I've loved John Irving's twisted sense of the world. And so it was only a matter of time until I meet and fell in love with Homer Wells (the protagonist of The Cider House Rules). 

Publishing date:  December 1993
Published by:  The Ballantine Publishing Group (an imprint of Random House)

My attempt to summarize the plot:  Boy is born in orphanage. Boy tries to be adopted -- fails three times. Boy finally leaves orphanage. Boy returns to orphanage.

Homer Wells, twenty-one, breathing in the steam from the hot tea; was waiting for his life to begin (p. 303)
My attempt to summarize what this book is about:  In one word -- waiting. The orphans are waiting to be adopted. Homer is waiting to begin his life. Wally is waiting for the war to start. Dr. Larch is waiting to see what the new board will do to the orphanage. The fruit pickers are waiting to pick apples. Candy is waiting to see if she will become Wally's bride or...

Yet it's so much more. It's a 'big idea' book...

Dr. Larch about Nurse Caroline...

He had heard her say, so many times, that a society that approved of making abortion illegal was a society that approved of violence against women... He had heard her say so many times, that abortions were not only a personal freedom of choice but also a responsibility of the state--to provide them. (p. 473)
Dr. Larch...
Always, in the background of his mind, there was a newborn baby crying... And they were not crying to be born, he knew; the were crying because they were born.
Why The Cider House Rules? What does this book have to say about rules?...
Homer:    "Some rules are good rules... But some rules are just rules. You just got to break them carefully." (p. 467)
Dr. Larch:  "I have no quarrel with anyone at prayer... It's when you start making rules." (p. 472)
Nurse Caroline:  "It's because even a good man can't always be right that we need a society, that we need certain rules -- call them priorities." (p. 473) 
Bottom line:  The Cider House Rules is a feel good book. And in my books, that makes it a perfect December read.


On Tuesday evening December 1st, I, like all the other members of the audience, rested comfortably in palm of Mr. Irving's hand. He charmed us; he enlightened us; he made us laugh; he made us think. What was of most interest to me was what he said about how he writes. Here's what I heard...
-his books are ending driven. He doesn't begin a project until he has written the ending and several sentences leading up to it.
-he writes with his audience in mind; he believes in characters; he believes in plot.
-momentum for the story comes from his interest in creating challenges for his characters
-he wants to create characters that his readers will fall in like/love with and worry about.
-his writing is influenced by very old sources -- Shakespeare and 19th century novels
-he always writes about what he fears will happen
-he didn't become a full-time author until his fourth novel.
He asked us, "What type of practice does a doctor or lawyer have if they only practice two hours a day?"
By the time he wrote Cider House Rules (his 6th novel), he had learnt how to write 8 hours a day/seven days a week. He said that the key to writing a well-crafted book is to write slowly.

Next post:  Christa got an education when she submitted her story to a publisher. Now she has some advice for you.

Sharing my author journey...

Me:  Last week, I was thrilled to receive a rejection letter.
You:  You were what? Thrilled? Why?
Me:  I'll explain...