Sunday, April 24, 2016

For a Warmer World (short story) by Leanne Dyck

all photos taken by Leanne Dyck on Mayne Island (unless otherwise stated)

Once upon a time, women wore gloves and below-the-knee-length skirts. Men wore fedoras and ties. We all knew what was expected of us. We knew because our mothers had bounced us on their knees to the rhythm of... 

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails
That's what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That's what little girls are made of

Puppy-dog tails always seemed to be a lot more fun than being nice. Especially when this nursery rhyme was used to justify why my male cousins, in their dress pants, could run around, screaming at community gatherings while me in my dress couldn't.

The world was a lot simpler back then, but it was a lot colder. People hid certain things. They had to.

I attended an author reading, not that long ago. One of the authors didn't wear a skirt or a fedora. His well-written short story was about three witches. The story revealed the author's inner strength. He was on the way to becoming herself

After the reading, I saw the author standing with friends, waiting for a ride. 

I'm shy, but I had no choice--I had to say, "Excuse me. I'm sorry for bothering you, but I had to tell you how much I enjoyed your story." I received a warm smile and kind words, so I continued, "The courage you showed in claiming your truth has encouraged me to try to claim my own."

Share your truth, you don't know who needs to hear it. Share your truth and the world will grow warmer. 

Next post: (May 1st--published around 5 p.m. PST) May Day! May Day! I've been learning a lot lately about writing picture books. The danger is that I won't remember this information when I need it. I solved this problem by creating a checklist. Want to see it? You will in my next post. 

Sharing my author journey...

The rejection letter read, in brief: 
 'you have an excellent way with words, we feel, with regret...'

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Book Review: Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Some writers don't read while they work. They use the excuse that they don't want their writing to be influenced. But influence has long tentacles. You can be influenced by something you read months or even years ago. I need to read to prime the pump. Not only do other authors influence me, they also teach me. And I need to learn to develop my own voice. I need to read, I need to write, daily. It's a deep hungry. Writing is my voice. 

I wrote this after reading the third chapter of Cat's Eye. Can you tell that Atwood is influencing me?

The artist in Cat's Eye is staging a retrospective of her work, but by way of vivid memories she shares a retrospective of her life.

What stands out for me in Atwood's work is her use of language. 

It is poetic...
We are survivors, of each other. We have been shark to one another, but also lifeboat. (p. 17)
I hadn't yet encountered the foreign hairpins left in the bathroom like territorial dog pee on snowy hydrants. (p. 190)
It is political...
An artist is a tawdry, lazy sort of thing to be, as most people in this country will tell you. (p. 15)

Atwood is teaching me how to weave the senses into narrative... 
 Around me is the scent of newsprint and floor wax, the bureau drawer smell of my itchy stockings mingled with that of grimy knees, the scratchy hot smell of wool plaid and the cat box aroma of cotton underpants. (p. 59)

And as I read, I am learning to develop my own voice.

"Scene from my outside writing area"
Photo by L Dyck

On her head is the felt hat like a badly done-up package that she used to wear on Sundays. (p. 358)

The felt hat she use to wear on Sundays is on her head--like a badly done-up package.


A felt hat, she use to wear on Sundays, is balanced on her head--like a badly done-up package.

Does she influence me?

Yes, but many things do.

Swallowed by my eyes. Bent, stretched, blended, transformed by my brain. Pouring out of my pen. 

Next post (Sunday, April 24th approximately 5 p.m.)
For a Warmer World:  What makes you tick? What is your narrative? When you share your truth it makes the world stronger. If you're scratching your head over all this don't worry just (please) read my next post.

"Bim:  my inside/outside reading and writing buddy"
Photo by L Dyck

Sharing my author journey...
This week I've been learning how to start chapters. I've learned that...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to introduce your child to picture books by Leanne Dyck

"A work in progress"
Rock art by my husband; photo by me.

Let's start at the beginning... 

Why is it important to read to babies?

-helps with language acquisition 
the more opportunities to hear words being spoken, the more likely it is that your child will repeat these words.
-helps increase attention span
but remember the book is there for your child, not visa versa
-helps build a bond between mother and child
-helps instill a love of books

A link to an article I wrote on the importance of reading to infants and toddlers--and the conclusion to this article. 

On the web:  10 Reasons Why You Should Read to Your Kids

Board books are especially designed to appeal to babies.
Pictures are the most important element in board books. [They help to keep the young listener engaged.] There might be one sentence on a page ... sometimes just one word. (Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul p. 7)

The main difference between board and picture books is the number of pages. Picture books, for children two to five years of age, are typically 32 pages long.

An article on the importance of reading to your 2 to 3 year old child.
On the web:  Literacy Skills:  Ages 2 - 3

How do you help your child make the transition from board to picture books?

First read the picture book the way you would a board book--by focusing on the illustrations. Then try reading some of the text. Is your child engaged? Does she sit still and seem interested? Continue reading. If at any time your child disengages--shows any signs of being uninterested in the text, stop reading and refocus on the illustrations. Remember the books is there for the child--not visa, versa. Your goal is to keep storytime fun. 

Next post:  (Sunday, April 17th -- around 5 p.m. PST) Do authors influence you? How? Who? I will discuss this topic as I review Margaret Atwood's novel Cat's Eye

Bim sporting his new sweater--hand knit and designed by me.
First time in a long time that I returned to my knitting needles.
But, hey, Bim was cold--so it had to be done, and it was fun. 

Sharing my author journey...

Some people love to sleep. Some authors have a strict no writing in 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Storytime (short story) by Leanne Dyck

How do you make children listen to you read books--you don't. You invite those interested to listen.

(all photos by Leanne Dyck)

by Leanne Dyck

Updated June 9, 2020

I was young; I was naive; I was just another practicum student passing through that Day Care Centre.

The staff tried to warn me. "These kids don't like books. They won't sit still."

But I didn't listen...

I walked over to a group of four children who were colouring at a small table. 

"A little mouse went creeping, creeping, creeping." I chanted as I crept two fingers across the table. "A little mouse went creeping across the kitchen floor.

The great, big cat went stomping, stomping, stomping." I hit the table like a drum and the children joined me. "The great, big cat went stomping across the kitchen floor."

"The little mouse ran away." I ran my fingers off the edge of the table and the children laughed. "Would you like to hear a story?"

One of the children said, "Yes." and followed me to the library corner. She was joined by two other children. 

The girl who'd accepted my invitation forced a book into my hands. "This one. Read this one."

I held the book in the air and called. "Storytime."

Most of the children ignored me, but a boy who'd been playing with a car parked it and came to the circle. He pulled a book off the shelf. "Read this book."

"I'll read this one first and then I'll read yours," I told him.

"Sometimes it looked like split milk but...," I began--that brought a few more children to our group.

"I have a bunny," a girl said, loudly.

"No, you don't," another girl said.

"Yes, I do."

Their debate drowned out my reading.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the staff exchange a smile. 

"What do you think this is?" I asked the girl who thought she had a rabbit.

"An airplane," she guessed. 

"No, it's not," a boy said. "It's a bird."

We continued to tell the story together and more and more of the children were drawn into the circle until they all were engaged in storytelling. 

I flipped from one page to another, until... "Sometimes it looked like split milk, but it wasn't split milk. It was a..." 

I waited for the children to call out the answer and I was rewarded with a chorus. 

"Read another one," the children said and I'm still reading.


Toddler Story Time (YouTube video)

Why Story-Time Rocks

And in 2015 I wrote an article about my most recent experience sharing books with a group of children. Here's the link.

Next post (Sunday, April 10th -- published after 5 P.M. PST):  Your preschooler loves board books and you're wondering when and how you should introduce your child to picture books. I was an Early Childhood Educator working with preschoolers in Day Care Centres for over fourteen years. I read tons of picture books to groups of children and I'm delighted to share my tips in my next post.

Sharing my author journey...

Some writers love to do research.