Sunday, March 25, 2018

Other People's Memories (short story) by Leanne Dyck

I never knew my paternal grandpa--he died before I was born. But I was told stories about him by lots of people--including strangers like...

photo ldyck

Other People's Memories

One of my summer jobs during High School was a tour guide at the Eriksdale Museum. I enjoyed losing myself in other people's memories.

Maybe locals came in but I don't remember them. Tourists are the ones who stood out. They wanted to learn about us and the museum was their introduction. Most traveled from other parts of Manitoba or Canada or from the United States. A man came from England. I don't remember exactly where from, but I do remember that he used four place names in his address. And I remember a woman. I'll always remember her.

I said, "Hello, I'm Leanne Willetts."

And she said, "Willetts? Your grandfather was Mr. J.H. Willetts. He owned a Red and White store that sold groceries, dry goods, and cattle feed.

"The depression was hard on farmers like my dad. He needed feed for our cows, but he didn't have any money. Those cows were the only things keeping the wolf from our door. So, he swallowed his pride and asked your grandfather to loan him the feed.

"Mr. Willetts was a businessman. He needed to make money--his family needed to eat. But you know what your grandfather did?" Her eyes were wet when she told me, "He gave my dad the feed--gave it to him."

Yes, I'll always remember her.

*Footnote:  When I worked as a tour guide, the museum was housed in the old Anglican church.

photo ldyck


I love museums. Some of my favourites are...

the Vikings in Newfoundland

Toronto's Castle

I visited L'Anse aux Meadows and Casa Loma in the 1980s when I was a Katimavik volunteer.

in Winnipeg

I volunteered at the Manitoba Museum in the 1990s--before moving to BC.

in Hofsos, Iceland

While visiting relatives in Iceland, I toured The Icelandic Emigration Centre--and lived close by, heaven.

Castle in Victoria, BC

Even though Craigdarroch Castle is just a ferry ride away I don't manage to get there as much as I would like. 

photo ldyck

Next post:  A poem to celebrate April Fool's Day.
Published on Sunday, April 1st at 5 PM PT
(this is not an April Fool's joke)

"the tail end of the month" photo ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This March I...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Book review: Precious Cargo (memoir) by Craig Davidson

Abled -- Disabled
I'm interested in the weight these words carry. And so is author Craig Davidson.
Early in his career Davidson accomplish the kind of success we authors dream of (with a short story collection) but then his next book (a novel) bombed. Unable to write, he searched for a means to feed himself. He was so desperate that he took a job as a school bus driver. But not just any school bus--the short bus. Davidson explains that in school bus driver circles driving that bus made him the poor cousin. He took the job and drove his special needs passengers to and from school five days a week, four hours a day. Driver, passengers:  they became more than simply friends. In Precious Cargo, Davidson recounts his year as a driver. He shares the laughter; he shares the tears. He explores what it means to be disabled in Canada. Driving a bus was just a job but it changed Davidson's life forever. 

Publisher:  Alfred A Knopf Canada
Published in 2016

Will this be the book all Canadians should read? Only time will tell. 
Click this link to learn more about Canada Reads 2018.

calendar from my grandfather's store
(accompanying smaller photo:  my grandfather in front of his store with a friend)

Next post:  Other People's Memories--a short story based on my days as a tour guide in rural Manitoba.

Sharing my author journey...

Last week, an earworm (The Monks' I've Got Drugs In My Pocket)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A pep talk from Leanne Dyck's dad

March was my dad's birth month. To celebrate his memory, I'm sharing a letter he sent several years ago. I've read and re-read this letter so many times over the years--when  I've needed that extra little bit of courage. 

Dear Leanne

There is an old saying--There is no fool like an old fool--to while I would add the line--"and the older the fool the bigger the fool and I am old--"71".

All this refers to the reception you received from me when you told me that you were going to try selling as a career.

I remember putting up all kinds of arguments against it. Finally, I have gotten around to thinking about it in a quieter manner and following is what I have come up with.

In the first place, I remember saying, "This is a poor time to change jobs--things are tough--we are in a recession" and so on.

The answer to that-- Well try as I might I just can't figure out what I would consider a good time to change-- you have heard all about the depression--but how many people picked that time to change or to start a new career--lots of them--And the ones that worked at it and gave it their best shot--they were the ones that were ready and when the depression ended--they rode the wave to the top--nothing worthwhile comes easily.

And then I told you that in my day if you had a job you hung onto it.

That's what I did! And I was a Postmaster for 32 years--nothing wrong with being a Postmaster for 32 years except it was in the same office and the same position. 

I lacked the nerve or self-confidence to change--to bid on a bigger office--because as I told myself "there would be a lotta hassle to change," and many other excuses, now I know that if you try something and it doesn't work out you learnt something and you are more knowledgeable and experienced than someone who didn't try.

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all! says the wise saying by someone who had lived life.

The prize goes to the winner and the winner is the one who gives it the old college try--the winner is the one who takes a chance, the one who has self-confidence.

And then when you told me your intentions and I gave you all my arguments against them--I forgot, Leanne--that you can think as well as I--you know your situation better than I--you know what your goal is--How dare I tell you how to think and what is best--

And lastly--How could I doubt that you will do just fine -- You -- the girl who left home to join KATIMAVIK--who served her time--that was as much an experience as joining the army and one certainly learnt from that.

So after thinking all this out and mulling it over--I apologize for my negative attitude--for my hasty decision that you were wrong--I'm truly sorry and now I say to you.

GO FOR IT-- GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT you will win!

Here I will end my homily. I just hope I can always remember that you have a wealth of determination and are perfectly capable of paddling your own canoe.

All my love!

May all daughters. everywhere, receive such a letter.

Next post:  
Book review:  Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson (memoir)
A heartfelt look back at a man, a bus, and his special needs passengers.


Sharing my author journey...
Isn't it funny how life works? It makes more sense when you look back on it. I spent a lot of time wishing that the 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The author-reader contract by Leanne Dyck

The author of the novel promises to entertain. If the author upholds this side of the contract the reader promises to keep reading.

"on a clear day" ldyck

You, as the author, stated your intention on the back of the book. In short, you promised to entertain me. Bookstores and libraries are full of books. Congratulations on getting your book into my hands. I flipped open the book and I read... 
I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice--not because of his voice, or because he was the instrument of my mother's death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany. John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

This opening sentence not only introduces me to the topic of the book--Owen Meany--but also briefly underlines why he is so special--he caused a mother's death and lead the narrator to God. After reading that sentence, I have to read on. 

'A good hook will not only create interest, but also set the mood, tone, atmosphere, and create expectations for the reader.' Read the entire article

'Strong characters draw readers into your plot. This dynamic is called the bond.' James Scott Bell, Plot & Structure

'[M]ake the hook and text integral to each other...I'm not advocating bland hooks; the challenge is to have the provocative hook but at the same time not have the discrepancy.' Noah Lukeman, The First Five Pages:  A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

More examples of good first lines and why they work.

And wow. After writing and re-reading this article, I, as a writer, feel the pressure to carefully craft my opening sentence, paragraph, chapter, book. Of course, we can't all write like John Irving--but we must be entertaining, we owe it to our readers.

Reading this article will help you write your hook 
Writing a Hook First Line 

My dad and me visiting BC

Next post:  Sunday, March 11 (at approximately 5:00 PM PST)
27 years I was considering a career change; 27 years ago my dad (AJ Willetts) sent me the letter I'm going to share with you. 

"Abby inspiring story" ldyck

Sharing my author journey...