Sunday, February 26, 2017

Book comparisons: why make them? by Leanne Dyck

photo by LDyck

Why prepare a list (one to three) of published books that are similar to your manuscript? Why do a book comp?

-it's an abbreviated way to present your book to an editor or an agent.

-it shows editors or agents that you have your finger on the pulse of the genre you're writing -- that you're current, that you know what's hot, that you've done your homework.

-it shows that there is a potential readership for your manuscript

-it helps the publisher see where your book might fit in their catalogue

-it helps the editor or agent pitch your manuscript

-it helps you locate the right publisher -- they published that book they may be interested in publishing yours.

-finding and reading that other book might inspire you to rewrite your manuscript or may inspire you to write another manuscript

-it verifies that your manuscript is fresh and original

-it keeps you motivated. You get to see, feel, smell a book that is similar to what yours might look like.

Where do you find these potential comps?

-your bookshelves

-your local library

-your favourite bookstore

-publishers' catalogs

-Quill and Quire magazine

-Publishers Weekly


-Other reviewers who read your genre

Heather Ann Burnell (Submissions 101 - Finding Comparable Books) writes:  Use 'titles that are recent [within 10 years] and are in the same category or genre, have the same target audience, and are not so obscure that that the person reading your query has never heard of it' or so popular that you're seen as arrogant or lazy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book review: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

USA Today reports a resurgence of interest in George Orwell's work -- namely 1984. I'd like to call attention to another of Orwell's books:  Animal Farm -- which I believe is equally relevant. 

logline:  Spearheaded by pigs, farm animals rise up against their mistreatment and establish their own government.

If you enjoy (or have enjoyed) reading Animal Farm you'll also enjoy Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis -- published by Coach House.
logline:  Two Greek gods -- Hermes and Apollo -- gift fifteen dogs with human intelligence.

In Fifteen Dogs, Alexis studies society:  its development, what it means to live on the fringe (as an outcast, as an immigrant), and the purpose of art (to reflect, to provoke).

Writing Fifteen Dogs won Andre Alexis the 2015 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2015 ScotiaBank Giller Prize

In his Quill and Quire magazine article (The Key to Success), Nick Patch reports that -- as of November 2016 -- Fifteen Dogs had sold 110,000 print copies and 20,000 ebooks. Also in the article, Alexis is quoted as saying:  Fifteen Dogs ' "touched a lot of people and I'm happy." '

Fifteen Dogs is my Canada Reads pick -- the book all Canadians should read.

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio program Canada Reads runs from March 27 to 30.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Alone with Him (short story) by Leanne Dyck

(early Tuesday morning -- photo by LDyck)

Readers' Reviews

Your story felt like listening to cascading water, impeded by rocks and rerouted back to its origin


Literature made visceral

Can almost feel his touch

Love this headspace! Now I'm thinking is he on my bookshelf waiting?

Alone with Him

He speaks to me, touches me. A cool hand of longing traces down my body and makes me shiver. Why do I feel this way? What's wrong with me? I should stop.

But I don't; I can't. I'm his. He possesses me. I long to stroke his cheek, kiss his lips, melt in his embraces. So there I sit on my bed -- alone with him. My nose buried in the book. I turn each page in eager anticipation. Where will he take me now? My imagination is the world we share. There he lives, he breathes.

I found him in the school library. The book is tattered. It upsets me to think of how many years he waited for me.

But we have found each other. And now that we are together, all I want is him. I find excuses to sneak off.

"I have to brush my hair...make my my homework."

Last chapter -- paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, word by word -- he is slipping away. I'm killing him, us. Still, I can't stop.

The end, I close the book and run a hand tenderly over the cover. My heart calls for him. I feel him in the shadows; he visits me only in my memories. He is gone.

Desperate, I pick up my pen. Imagination fueled by longing, I write. And he returns to me.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Write Faster--or not by Leanne Dyck

Does anyone write with a pen, anymore?

Of course not. Who has that kind of time? All of us are in too much of a hurry to finish that novel and get it published. Did that one, on to the next -- every year...twice a year...every three months.

Fast, faster, fastest -- the fastest wins the race. And this is a race. Right? That's the reason you write, right -- to win.

And if you don't win. You lose -- your readership, your title. You can't call yourself a writer unless you win. You can't call yourself a writer unless you pump out those novels. Writers write -- All. The. Time.

So ditch that pen. It's way too slow. The computer is the only tool to use. You're in this game to win.


I recently received a rejection letter that read more like a pep-talk. The P-u-b-l-i-s-h-e-r wanted me to realize that it wasn't the act of being published that gave my writing value. She wanted me to remember that writing -- the act, the craft -- in and of itself is valuable.

And so I wonder... Could it be true that we don't have to enter the race? Is it possible that you don't even have to be published to be a writer? Maybe there are more important things than speed--like maybe studying the craft. Hmmm...


Giving Up and Giving In by Kathryn Magendie