Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book review: Held by Edeet Ravel (YA thriller)

Are you interested in learning how to develop a three-dimensional antagonist? 

I'd highly recommend reading Held by Edeet Ravel. 

A hostage-taker imprisons an American teenage girl (Chloe) in a warehouse in an unspecified country. We never learn his name but we know who he is -- his background, his motives, his humanity.

The focus is kept solely on the hostage (Chloe) and the hostage-taker but Held in no way reads like a minimalist story. Short news reports, interviews with and about Chloe's family and friends, and twitter feeds by Chloe's best friend are sandwiched between the chapters and add depth to the story. Held is a unique tale, cleverly told.

Published by Annick Press
Publishing date:  2011
author website

Book blurb:  Seventeen-year-old Chloe's summer vacation in Greece comes to an abrupt end when she is suddenly blindfolded and whisked away to an unidentified location. Waking up from a drug-induced sleep, she is seized by terror and imagines the worst.
After several days of utter despair, Chloe is relieved when her hostage-taker appears. His revelation that she is being held ransom for a prisoner exchange, however, does little to allay her fears.
Haunted by frightening dreams, and with only her thoughts to keep her company, Chloe fights to remain calm. Will her captor ever let her go? And will she be the same person once she's free?


Held by Edeet Ravel published by Annick Press 

Quill and Quire recommends Held as 'an excellent fodder for discussion and debate among older teens.'

Picture Books in Canada

'Second Story Press was co-founded in 1988 by Margie Wolfe and three other women dedicated to publishing feminist-inspired books for adults and young readers...[The] list spans adult fiction and nonfiction, children's fiction, nonfiction and picture books, and YA fiction and nonfiction
 Second Story Press Submission Guidelines:  Please be advised that Second Story Press focuses on Canadian authors

Sharing my author journey...

The website said:  We don't consider unsolicited queries or manuscripts.
But what does that really mean?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guest Post: Submitting Manuscripts by Jami Macarty

Jami Macarty's workshop Get It Out:  A Writer's Guide to the Submissions of Literary Works for Publication was information-rich and generated more questions for me. So I asked Jami to answer them on this blog and she kindly accepted my invitation. 

How many submissions should you send to a publisher per month?

Jami Macarty: Every writer has her own rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals; because of that, there’s no one submission prescription or quota. What I suggest is that a writer figure out if her goal is to publish her work or not. If it is, then I encourage her to take seriously and commit herself to this aspect of her writing life. That’s step one. The second is to set up a submission schedule that suits her writing rhythms, preferences, timing, and goals. The writer might ask herself: what’s realistic and doable? For some writers, what’s realistic may be to submit once per month; for others, it may be one submission per week. The pace and mode of submissions should flow from, rather than dictate, the work. This approach encourages reflexive engagement and a deepening relationship with writing practices, processes, products, and priorities. Love alliteration!

The rule of thumb is that you should send submissions to more than one publisher. Yet some publishers request that you tell them if you are sending simultaneous submissions. Do you think those publishers view simultaneous submissions in a negative light?

Jami Macarty: First, let me speak to the notion that there’s a “rule of thumb” to simultaneously submit your work. The fact is, some publishers accept simultaneous submissions and some do not. It is the responsibility of the writer to understand the difference and to follow the guidelines of each publisher to the letter. Publishers work hard to bring our art to eyes and ears. They deserve respect for simple requests. If a publisher requests that a writer say whether or not the submission is simultaneously submitted, then give that information to the publisher. The fact that publishers make the space for simultaneous submissions is an indication that they are on the side of the writer. Let writers also be on the side of publishers by providing the information requested. Publishers are likely making this request with intentions to bring more and better work to their readers, not to dampen submissions. If they love a short story or poem and have the knowledge that it’s simultaneously submitted, they’re likely to act more quickly to secure the writing. They may also be collecting information about the practices of writers who submit to them in order to access the importance of simultaneous submissions to the submission process. It may be useful to acknowledge that in many fields simultaneous submissions are strictly forbidden.

If a book is out of print should I still mention it in my publishing history? What if it is my only traditionally published book?

Jami Macarty: Yes to both questions. A publication is a publication—and most are hard won over a protracted period of time. Who’s to say when or if something previously published is no longer valid?

A magazine I was published in is no longer circulating should I still mention it in my publishing history?

Jami Macarty: That depends. If you have other magazines/journals to mention, I’d forgo mentioning one that’s no longer circulating. If the magazine/journal is well-known or recently defunct, my inclination is to include it. To me, it’s all about presenting and re-presenting who you are as a writer, artist, professional, etc. Why exclude any tools for doing so?

Should I include credit for nonfiction in my fiction submission?

Jami Macarty: Yes, absolutely. The idea here is for a writer to support herself as a writer and an artist. To think holistically, to be inclusive of herself, and to share the whole of herself and her artistic accomplishments with a would-be publisher. Let a writer’s biography include all that she writes—whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reviews, a blog, etc., as well as other artistic pursuits, e.g. photography, illustration, painting, musical and expressive arts endeavors, etc. All human gems have numerous facets and we cannot know which will sparkle at a given moment.

Thank you for visiting, Jami. Your answers added clarity to my submission plans. I wish you continued success.

Photo by Vincent Wong

Jami Macarty teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, serves as a Poetry Ambassador for Vancouver's Poet Laureate, edits the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings--Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Drunken Boat. Her poems appear, or will, in 2016 issues of Blood Orange Review, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Minola Review, Prism international, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, and Vallum. Also, this good Year of the Monkey, she's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, won the Real Good Poem Prize, and Landscape of The Wait, her poetry chapbook, has been published with Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What's Wrong with Michelle? (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A short story about three friends.

photo by Leanne Dyck

What's Wrong with Michelle?

Have you heard the one about the three friends who meet in a restaurant? Amanda, Sarah, and Michelle have known each other since they were teenagers. 

They talk the way old friends do--letting their guard down, just being themselves.

Michelle gestures with her hands and bounces around like a beach ball. "It's so lovely to see you again, Amanda. It's been too long. That's such a lovely scarf." Her focus shifts to the window and out to the tree-lined street. "It's such a lovely autumn. The leaves are so lovely at this time of year. Oh, look there's a squirrel. A squirrel. A squirrel."

The squirrel darts out of sight and Michelle goes to freshen up.

"Everything seems to be lovely in her world." Amanda chuckles.

"Yeah, you'd think," Sarah says. "So does she, but I know she's miserable. And it's all because of the shaggy lump on her sofa. She has changed her entire life for him and all he does is growl. He sheds all over the carpet and pittels on the rug in the bathroom. This is the first time she's been away from him since he moved in. She thinks she has got to be there when he barks."

"Oh, when did she get a dog?"

"Dog--exactly. Now, tell me, how do we get rid of the creep?"

Picture Books in Canada

Owlkids Books
'Owlkids publishes entertaining, unique, high-quality books and magazines that nuture the potentials of children and instill in them a love of reading and learning--about themselves and the world around them.'
Owlkids Books titles 

Owlkids Books is currently looking for non-fiction...picture book manuscripts

Sharing my Author Journey...

Every year I cuddle with CBC TV's airing of the Scotiabank 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Marketing 101 (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Once upon a time, I owned a craft supply store on the small remote island I still call home. I filled that store with...

quilt batting, thread in many colours and even a few bolts of fabric for quilters
knitting needles and yarn for knitters
paper, scissors and stickers for scrapbookers
an assortment of beads and  precious stones for jewellery makers
crayons, faster plaster, markers for children
and the list goes on and on...

I sat in the shadows with my knitting and waited for my customers to find me.

Island residents trickled in throughout the year but they were joined by tourists in the summer.

One day, he came in and walked up one aisle and down the other. I didn't recognize him and thought he must be a tourist.

"Wow, I'm really impressed by the diverse collection of merchandise." From his accent, I knew he was an American. "You've done very well." His smile wasn't out of pity or mockery. It was genuine. This stranger was proud of me. "If this was my store everyone within a 10 -- no -- 100-mile radius would know where to find me and what I had for sale."

What I thought at the time was, Americans are good at marketing.

What I do now is, pull that memory out each time I want to hide in the shadows. 

I don't think authors should say, "I have a book. Did you know that I have a book? Wow, my book is so good. Have you heard about my book?"

Hmm, nope.

Marketing is about making connections. 

I connect with readers by saying, "You like to read. Well, on my blog, I review books and share my writing."

I connect with writers by saying, "You want to build your author career. So do I. On my blog, I share what I'm learning about the publishing industry."

Thank you, Mr. American tourist, for coming into my store that day. You taught me to take pride in what I do. And you taught me to share it with those who can benefit from it.

*about the photos:  they were taken by me of my knitting but not in my store.


How to get over your fear of self promotion 

Picture Books in Canada

Established in 1984, Orca Book Publishers is a Canadian-owned children's book publisher that publishes Canadian children book authors. 

Sharing my author journey

Sometimes magic happens...