Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lazy Bones (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Once upon a time, my husband and I met a self-made man. He told us how his family, how society saw him before he built his successful life. His story inspired this one...

photo by ldyck

She phoned her mother every week. Even though it wasn't always a pleasant conversation. 

"Doesn't he ever go to work?" 

No, he stays home. He’s writing a nov—.”

"What? All day? Doesn't he have any pride?"

They saw him in the middle of the day, in sweatpants, pushing a shopping cart from cereal boxes to milk cartons.

"What a life. He doesn't even work," one clerk said.

The other replied, "I'd do the same if I had a beautiful woman paying my way. Have you seen his wife?"

Light leaked under the study door, down the hall, and into the bedroom. She pushed back the covers. Barefeet on cold tile, she opened the study door. "Are you still up?"

"Sorry. Did the light wake you? I'm almost finished writing this chapter."

She went back to bed. He joined her two hours later.

Month after month, year after year, until he told his wife, "Let's go for a drive."

She followed him to the car.

He drove them to the expensive part of town. She had no idea why. They came to the house she'd always drooled over. He pulled into the driveway and handed her the keys. This morning I received a contract for my novel. Soon I’ll buy this house for us, for you.”

photo by ldyck

September on this blog

September 2:  I wrote an essay to celebrate Labour Day
September 9:  I wrote a short story--Magdalene College's bell tower--to celebrate those returning to school 
September 16:  Book review:  
The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson
Thomas is flunking out of university, but don't worry he has a plan--or at least an experiment. 
September 23:  In Icelandic (short story) was inspired by something my grandma witnessed on a bus.

September 30:  Do you like illustrated books? I love them too. In this article, I'll recommend 3 of my favourites.

Sharing my author journey...

Fun and games are over. It's time to stand up and be accountable.
Exactly what did I accomplish this spring and summer--historically the most industrial half of the year, for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Book Review: We Are All Made of Molecules (YA) by Susin Neilsen

When their newly-single parents fall in love, Stewart (a nerd) and Ashley (the It Girl) are forced to move in together. Stewart seems to be wise beyond his years. Though he has few friends, he chooses them carefully. Ashley stumbles through life with one concern--herself: how she looks and what others think about her. In short, Stewart and Ashley are polar opposites. And yet, in this feel-good story, they learn that underneath it all we are fundamentally the same--we are all molecules. Nielsen's characters are well-developed, her plot well-crafted, and the ending satisfying.

photo by ldyck

Next Post:  Sunday, August 28th (at approximately 5 PM PST)
Lazy Bones (short story) Okay, so I know to the outsider we, writers may look like we're having way too much fun. We may even look like we're not working at all. But believe me, that isn't true. And in this short story I allow a peek behind the curtain.

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

For book lovers, late August to early fall is a time of eager

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Guest Post: author Susin Nielsen

Update:  Susin Nielsen has won the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People

This award-winning author just won another award--

SUSIN NIELSEN is the award-winning author of Word Nerd, Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom, The Reluctant Journal of Henry K.  Larsen, We Are All Made of Molecules and Optimists Die First. She got  her start writing for the original hit TV series Degrassi Junior High, and has written for over 20 Canadian TV series. Her books have won  critical acclaim and multiple awards both at home and around the world, and they’ve been translated into many languages. Her new novel, No Fixed Address, is out in September 2018. She’s been described as “the John Green of Canada,” and had a dream once that John Green was described as “the Susin Nielsen of the U.S.” She lives in Vancouver with her family and two naughty cats.

Twitter: @susinnielsen
Instagram: @susinnielsen
Facebook author page:

won multiple Young Readers' Choice awards

How/why did you start to write?

I wrote from a very young age. I joke that my first “published” book was when I was 10 – they put the one and only copy of a picture book I wrote and illustrated, called “The Smallest Snipet of Snipeton,” into our school library, and four kids took it out. As for WHY I started to write – it’s always a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? I chalk part of it up to being an only child with a single parent mom – I was a latchkey kid, pre-internet, two channel universe, so I spent a lot of time in my own head, playing imaginary games. We also always had books in the house; my mom and I went to the library a lot, and I remember getting books as gifts on birthdays etc.

won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
longlisted for UK's Carnegie Medal
nominated for the Governor General's Literary Award

How did you become an author?

I was a TV writer first, for twenty years, before I wrote my first original YA novel. So I’ve always been a writer of one form or another. I always had it in my head that I’d like to try to write a YA novel – why that age group, I honestly don’t know, except that I’d written for a number of TV shows for that age group, including Degrassi Junior High, and I think it’s a fascinating time of life – a time of so many firsts. Anyway, at one point about 12 years ago I was really fed up with the TV industry, and always being at the mercy of a handful of broadcast executives – and I realized one day that instead of moping and complaining every day, if I called myself a writer, I should simply WRITE. And write something completely different. The character from “Word Nerd” (my first published novel) had been talking to me for a while. So I set myself a goal of four pages a day, and off I went.

received starred reviews in Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, The School Library Journal, and Quill & Quire
longlisted for the 2018 UKLA Award
nominated for the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults List
an OLA White Pine Honour Book

What was your first published piece? Where was it published? How long ago?

Well, way back in the day I did write four of the Degrassi novelizations, for a flat fee. They just asked if I’d like to do it while I was working as a writer on the show. I wrote Shane, Wheels, Snake and Melanie. It’s a pity it was for a flat fee because those books sold around the world! ☺ But I remember thinking, “This is fun. One day I want to write an original YA novel.”

won the Governor General's Literary Award
won the Canadian Literary Association's Children's Literary Award
won the UK Literacy Award
was Rolling Stone's 27th pick for the "Top 40 Best YA Novels"

Please share your views on censorship--with regards to 
children's literature.

It’s completely wrongheaded. Let kids read what they want to read. I understand that it’s really hard to parent these days (I’m a parent myself). But reading novels – even novels with mature content – this is not going to scar your kids or mess them up for life. Most kids are remarkable at self-censoring, anyway – if something is beyond them, or  boring, or makes them uncomfortable, they put it down. Books are gateways into other worlds, other people’s POV’s – nothing but good can come out of being well-read. My books, especially Word Nerd, get formal challenges against them quite frequently. But the things that happen in my books are real, and happen, and they can either act as cautionary tales, or they can make a kid feel like they’re not alone. This is hugely important. To be honest I think there are so many more things to worry about as a parent – ultra-violent video games, the incredibly easy access to online porn – what is that teaching boys, and girls, about mutually respectful, caring, loving relationships?  Zilch. Empathy? Nada. Novels are all about forming a bond with a  protagonist, no matter how different he or she or they may be from you. Novels are all about empathy building.

won multiple Young Readers' Choice Awards

Why do you think it's important to include humour when writing for children?

I wouldn’t say I think it’s important in general, as every writer is different. It’s important to me, and not really because I’m writing  for children, but I think it’s just my outlook on life. I’d find it very hard to write anything without some humour. I generally, not always, like reading books with some element of humour in them as well.

What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from many places. Sometimes it’s stuff from my own childhood (my parents’ divorce, having half siblings, and now step siblings, a blended family), sometimes I get an idea from something else I read, sometimes an image just pops into my head. For my new novel out in September, “No Fixed Address,” I was in a Kelowna hotel room, between wake and sleep at 5 am, and suddenly thought, “I could write a book about a boy who has to live in a van with his mom.” And I wrote that down when I fully woke up, and that became the basis of my next novel, many months later.

will be published September 2018

Concerning writing for children, do you think it's an asset 
to be a parent? If so, how? If not, why?

No, I don’t think so. I’m a parent, but so many amazing writers for kids aren’t/weren’t. I don’t think either Maurice Sendak or Louis Fitzhugh had children, and they were brilliant at tapping into the kid psyche. I think it’s more about being able to tap into your emotional memories and feelings from that time of your life.

Concerning writing for children, share tips on how to achieve an age-appropriate writing.

I really don’t know how to answer this. I just try to write a good story. I never dumb down. I never try to change vocabulary, unless it’s a specific trait of my character. I suppose what I could say is that I think kids are less forgiving than adults; if you condescend to them, try to shove in a message, try to write a book you think they “should” read, or have long, boring passages of description – they will put it down and move on to the next one (or, god forbid, they WON’T move on to the next one because they’ve just been put off reading!). You have to write a well-paced novel and you have an obligation not to bore your reader. I’m pretty sure Neil Gaiman says that in his book “The View from the Cheap Seats.”

Thank you so much for visiting, Susin. I enjoyed getting to know you and your books.

Buy Susin Nielsen's books by clicking these links...

Susin Nielsen books in the Vancouver bookstore Kids Books

Sunday, August 5, 2018

My Writer's Desk (short story) by Leanne Dyck

So what's a writer's day like? Maybe, like this...

'writing' (circa late 2000s) photo by my husband

My Writer's Desk

All night long something had been percolating in my brain as I slept. I wake with a nagging feeling of unease. Something needs doing, but I have no idea what. My strategy, keep busy. I dust, sweep the floor, vacuum, clean the bathroom--hoping that whatever it is will find me.

"Are we expecting company?" My husband has caught me scrubbing the fridge.

"The house just needs a good going over." I dunk a cloth into a bucket of soapy water.

"I'll say." He chuckles.

I shrug. "I've never been domesticated."

No pen. No paper. Wet hands. That's when my muse finds me. And I know from experience that she won't wait for me--maybe she works with a long line of writers. I immediately stop cleaning and dry my hands on the tee I'm wearing.

My desk is piled high with books and papers and all the pens are buried. I turn on my computer and my email inbox says, "Yoo-hoo, Leanne." I go there first. Then Facebook, Twitter... These days writers can't just write. If you want to interest potential readers or keep existing ones, you have to have an online presence. 

My muse is stomping her foot. "Well, this is boring. I'm going to--"

"No, don't leave." I get out of the social media trap. "I'll--"

I hear a thud in the kitchen. "Why'd you leave this bucket here?" My husband sounds ticked.

"Sorry, I'll--"

My muse, "Leanne?"

"Yes, I--" I sweep my arm across my desk--barely missing my computer--and uncover a pen. I grab the first thing I can find to write on--the first blank page in the paperback I'm reading. "Shot," I tell my muse.

"Finally," she says and a story is born.


Sue Nathan's blog

Next Post:  A couple of months ago, in June, Author Susin Nielsen came to Mayne Island. She conducted a writers' workshop and gave an author talk. And I knew I had to introduce you to her. I'm delighted to tell you that she accept my invitation. And so next Sunday I will publish my interview with Author Susin Nielsen. 

'a knitwear designer (in the raw) writing' (circa early 2000s)-captured by my husband

Sharing my author journey...
I've been sitting at my writing desk for many years. I fell in love with writing in my teens and in 2010 I decided to make it my