Sunday, March 26, 2017

Caterpillar (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Do you find change or transitions difficult? I do--and to help me try to overcome, I wrote this short story...

(photo by LDyck)

One fine day in early spring an ant met a caterpillar. 

"When are you planning to spin your cocoon?" The ant asked.

"I'm not," the caterpillar told him.

The ant just stared at him. "Pardon me?"

The caterpillar spoke louder. "I'm not!"

"I heard you. I just don't understand. Why would you continue crawling in the dirt when you can fly up there in the beautiful blue sky, among the fluffy white clouds?"

"I like it down here in the cool black soil," the caterpillar said.

A bird perched on a branch overhead flew down to the caterpillar. "Ever since I broke out of my egg there's nothing I'd rather do than fly. Caterpillar, you have a right to be apprehensive. Change is scary, but don't let that fear limit you. Listen to your friend, the ant. Embrace your destiny," she sweetly sung to him. "Close your eyes."

The caterpillar closed them.

"Imagine the sun shining on your beautiful wings. Imagine the wind carrying you. All that can be yours if you only believe in yourself--in your potential."

The caterpillar felt the sun on his face, the wind on his wings. He spun his cocoon; he rested; his wings grew and then he flew.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

book review: Note to Self by Laurie Buchanan

Have you ever felt a little off and wished you could talk to someone wise? I know, who hasn't--right?

Note to Self not only helps you puzzle through what may be wrong but also gives you solutions on what to do about it -- including visiting your doctor. The large solutions require lifestyle changes. The small ones include incorporating certain colours into your environment. 

(Only suggestion for improvement:  colour photos of the colours suggestions)

This book demands to be read slowly. You need time to digest it. I received Note to Self in November, as a birthday gift. I tore open the wrapping and cracked open the book and am still reading it--and I plan to never stop. It's a book that can address different aspects of your life--or different selves--as the need arises. 
Note to Self is divided into seven selves:  Self-Preservation, Self-Gratificaiton, Self-Definition, Self-Acceptance, Self-Expression, Self-Reflection, and Self-Knowledge. As Sheila Glazov wrote in the foreword:  'The whole essence of Laurie Buchanan's book is timely and timeless....This book helps readers understand how they can easily unpack the emotional baggage they persistently pack and cautiously carry on their journey through life.'

Note to Self by Laurie Buchanan is a must-read -- as good for you as kale, but reads like chocolate -- smooth, rich, and fun. It's sure to leave a good taste in your mouth. 

("Spring in Paris on Mayne Island, photo by LDyck)

Next Post:  Sunday, March 26th (at approximately 5 PM)
Are you an ant or a caterpillar?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How to get an unsolicited manuscript read

 Some authors are fortunate to have the assistance of a literary agent. But I'd wager that the majority of us don't. So we are left to navigate the publishing industry labyrinth by ourselves.

rock art by my husband, photo by me

Since I started keeping careful records, in 2014, I've sent 400 submissions to publishing houses. Over the years, I learned some valuable lessons. One of the most important was how to properly address a cover letter. 

Dear Sir or Madam
To Whom It May Concern

This is the equivalent of standing on the street corner, waving your arms in the air and shouting, "Hey, you!"
Someone may hear you. But the chance that she will be the right person are slim.

Dear Publisher
Dear Editor

Visit the publishing house website and carefully study the submission guidelines. (Some submission guidelines give you all the information you require. Others don't.)

Small publishing houses may tell you to send your submission to the publisher. All publishing houses have at least one editor. So there is a chance that your submission will get to a publisher or an editor. But there's no guarantee that it will get to the right publisher or editor. Moreover, addressing your submission in this manner shows that you didn't do your homework and that you may not even know who the right publisher or editor is.

How do you find the name of the right publisher or editor?

Roll up your sleeves and click those computer keys. You want to find not only the contact's job title but also her name
'If [the publishing house] has multiple editors, approach an assitant editor, associate editor, or senior editor (Generally avoid managing editors, who oversee the daily operations but often don't read unsolicited manuscripts)' -How to stay out of the slush pile

Other reference sources...

-books in your genre -- read the acknowledgment section. Sometimes authors will thank their editors. 

-join genre associations or genre specific writing groups -- members may be able to supply you with the name and job title

Dear Kathlene Witherspoon, Assistant Editor

"Bim" photo by ldyck
Next Post:  March 19 at approximately 5 PM PT 
Book review:  Note to Self by Laurie Buchanan (self-help) 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Guest post: Linda Marshall, children's author

First, thank you very much for inviting me to participate in your blog. What a joy the universe of children’s literature is! I’m so enjoying this new career. I didn’t start out as a writer. In fact, I started out as an Anthropologist with a strong interest in children’s development across cultures and in folklore. Prior to going to college, I’d spent several summers working with developmentally delayed children. That work inspired many questions, one of which was questioning how various cultures handle children who are different from the norm. In college, I studied cultural anthropology and early childhood education. Then, spurred by the nascent women’s movement, I began teaching in - and advocating for more - childcare centers. It was then that I discovered the joy of picture books. Wow! What an eye-opening. That’s when I met Swimmy, who helped all his friends work together to chase away the big, bad fish. And I met Max, whose mother still loved him - and kept his dinner warm - while he was angry and chasing wild things. And I met Frederick who, like me, wanted to gather sunbeams.

I continued teaching small children. Then, with children of my own, I began teaching parenting education. Writing came late - very late! I’d pursued (but didn’t quite finish) a Ph.D. in Anthropology. I opened (and closed) a bookstore. I raised (to completion, if the job can ever be considered complete) four children. I also had a flock of sheep, chickens, rabbits, cats, and dogs. 

My writing grew from all of my experiences…and from the world around. I’m curious about almost everything…and I like to explore. I also love words. My article below, which first appeared in last summer's SCBWI Bulletin, describes my love of picture books…and how they can be used. 

 (Please click on image  to embolden)

I can be reached via my website: or 

Twitter (which I rarely use) @L_E_Marshall