Sunday, September 30, 2018

3 picture books for adults chosen by Leanne Dyck

Illustrated books aren't just for children. Here are some of my favourite reads--that creatively combine words with pictures.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Written by Richard Bach
Photographs by Russell Munson
Published by Avon Books
Publishing date:  January 1973
127 pages

A classic. It's a story about a seagull, but Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary seagull. 
'For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight.'

The Tattooed Map
Barbara Hodgson 
Published in Canada by Raincoast Book Distribution Ltd.
Published in 1995
(no page numbers are given)

'A traveler to North Africa is shocked to discover that the mysterious marks on her hand have developed into a detailed and macabre map spreading across her skin. In The Tattooed Map, we follow Lydia's journal entries as she becomes increasingly drawn into the mystery of the map traced over her body. When Lydia disappears and her traveling partner, Christopher, takes up her journal, the situation becomes even more puzzling--until the book's bizarre resolution.'

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer
Published by Mariner Books
Published in 2005
Houghton Mifflin Company
 326 pages

'Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhiliarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.'
My review 


And newly released by Penguin Random House 
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
48 pages
'An illustrated book on the refugee crisis.'

'Dementia-friendly' picture books
so cool!

A Brief History of Book Illustration

Why I Write Graphic Nonfiction by Jonathan Hennessey

photo by ldyck

On this blog in October...

Sunday, October 7 
A Writer's Journey (short story)
This blog wouldn't exist without your support, dear reader. So it's appropriate that the blog anniversary is so close to Thanksgiving. I wrote this short story to celebrate our 8th year anniversary. I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, October 14
Canada's Best Books 2018 (list)
The Man Booker, G.G., Rogers trust, the Giller... It's award season. One of the most exciting times of the year to be a reader of books by Canadian authors. So what are the best books in Canada? 

Sunday, October 21
Art Class (short story)
What's it like to be a twelve-year-old student with an undiagnosed learning disability?

Sunday, October 28 
Book review:  Super! by Jennifer Chen (middle-grade novel)
magical realism

'Abby' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This summer I took a break from submitting manuscripts, but now

Sunday, September 23, 2018

In Icelandic (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story was inspired by something my Icelandic-Canadian grandma saw on a bus.

photo by ldyck

In Icelandic

The elderly women were already on the bus when the young man climbed on. The minute he sat down they started talking--in Icelandic.

"He's so handsome," said one of the women. 

"Yes," the other agreed. "I wonder if he's married."

Her friend nudged her arm. "Oh, go on. You're much too old."

"Not for me--for my granddaughter. But if I were forty years younger."

They shared a giggle.

The subject of their attention pulled the cord requesting the bus driver to stop. The young man offered them a smile as he passed their bench. "Have a good day, ladies," he said--in Icelandic.

Next Post:  Books with pictures aren't just for children. On Sunday, September 30, I share my favourite illustrated books for adults. 

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

You:  It's summer's end, Leanne. How did you do with your spring and summer projects?
Me:  Well...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Book Review: The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson

Published in 2017
Published by Simon and Schuster Canada

Thomas is a medical student specializing in the brain, and his life is falling apart. He's flunking out of university and has trashed his romantic relationship. But don't worry, he has a plan--or at least an experiment. 

I enjoy entertaining books that make me think. I read The Shoe on the Roof, it made me think and then I wrote...

If (big if) religion no longer has relevance in our society, what has replaced it? Science? Some may say, good riddance--citing the horrors done in the name of religion. But what of the horrors done in the name of science--especially in the treatment of the insane?


This summer I also read...

Published in 2007
Published by Penguin Canada

What if a self-help book worked.

Target reader:  Writers building their career
'Joy is supposed to be fleeting and transitory, because it was never meant to be permanent.' (p. 267)

I bought Happiness from my local bookstore Books on Mayne
You may find it at your local bookstore or on Amazon.

photo by ldyck

Next Post:  Sunday, September 23 (at approximately 5 PM PST)
In Icelandic (short story) was inspired by something my grandma saw on a bus.

'Abby patiently waiting to continue her walk' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

I remember telling a supervisor, "I wish my skills were transferable." (Telling your boss that you want a different career isn't the smartest move, but you know.)

I didn't know then what I know now...

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Magdalene College Tower (short story) by Leanne Dyck

(me completing my studies circa the 1980s)

I've never traveled to Britain, but I long to go. And when I do, I hope to visit Magdalene College Tower. In fact, the tower inspired this short story.

That day, the sky was full of sunshine but rain fell like diamonds making the world sparkle. A monkey's wedding is what her father called it, Violet remembers. 

Chest out, head held high, he led her from one flower bed to the next. "I planted those and those. I'm working there. Watch your step."

Going to work with him was a rare treat.

Her chestnut hair woven into braids, pleated skirt, penny loafers, she walked cautiously with her head down.

"I'm not an educated man. It wasn't mine to have. Working class that's my station. But you, my girl, things will be different for you." He grabbed her hand, held her in place and they looked up at Magdalene College's bell tower. "Construction of this tower began in 1492. It was completed in 1509. Many, many years ago. Long before you or I were a mere whisper in the wind. It will continue to exist long after your body has turned to dust. Of this, you can be very sure." 

He made her understand, using more than mere words, that the tower stood for knowledge.  Ancient, overpowering, righteous, sacred--her adult mind scrambled to describe what she as a child had barely grasped. 

Now, sixty years later, Professor Violet Green crossed the ocean to once again--perhaps for the last time--stand on that spot and look up.

Next post:  Sunday, September 16 (at approximately 5 PM PST)
Book review: The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson
I use "book review" rather loosely. It's more a reflection after reading.

'Abby enjoying the dog days of Summer' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

As writers, we get all wrapped up in our own worlds. It's 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Making Writing Pay by Leanne Dyck

(me and my friends playing 'row, row the boat' photo by a co-worker, circa the 1990s)

That day's guest lecturer had been in the field of child day care for many years. No doubt, she shared a lot--the highs, the lows. But what hit me was:  "After graduation, as a child care worker, you'll earn less than a general laborer."

I pipped up with, "Money doesn't matter to me. I want to give quality care to the children who need me. I want to support families."
Early Childhood Educators 'work is undervalued and they in effect subsidize the service they provide through their low pay.' (Beach, Costigliola, 2004)
'Across all national surveys, low wages have been consistently identified as the primary reason for leaving the field.' (Halfon, 2014)
'The high turnover rate in child care creates instability and negatively affects the quality of child care.' (Beach, Costigliola, 2004)
I graduated from the University of Winnipeg's eighteen-month program and sought work in rural Manitoba--because I thought that was where I was most needed. I quickly became aware that many people viewed me as nothing more than a glorified babysitter. Because I focused on intangible rewards, I had a fourteen-year career--only retiring when a family tragedy forced me to make lifestyle changes. 

And now I write...
'Don't write to become famous or to make a lot of money. Write because you love it.'
-Joe Beernink
Wait a second. What's wrong with writing for money? Love--money, can't you have both? Most writers start with at least one (love). Why can't you dream of attaining the other (money)? What's wrong with dreaming. Sometimes it makes for an excellent motivator. 

Some may say, "But what if you don't achieve the type of success that you dream of?"

What if you do?

And we're all grown-ups. We've had our dreams dashed before. We've learned how to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.

Dreaming of success shouldn't stop us from celebrating the small successes we make daily. Turning on the computer... Picking up that pen... Writing that sentence, paragraph, chapter, book.

Yes, I'm writing to build my readership. Yes, I hope my books sell. No, this doesn't make me a sell-out.
'Real art has positive value, which means it has Commercial value. We perversely define artists as those who Don't create for money (as opposed to nearly every other vocation, where skill, experience and quality for a craft would boost your income), based on the idea that great work transcends commercialism.' -Derek Murphy 


In 1985, broke and depressed, Jim Carrey wrote himself a cheque for 10 million dollars for "acting services rendered". The cheque deteriorated but Carrey eventually made it. 

Read the entire story here.

(me completing my studies, circa the 1980s)

Next Post:   Sunday, September 9th
(at approximately 5 PM PST)
To honour those who have returned to their studies, I wrote Magdalene College's bell tower--a short story. I hope you enjoy reading it.

(my husband and me waiting for a parade, our dog wondering, what? photo by T Hobley 2018)

Sharing my author journey...

I know it looks like I have a demanding workload, and I do--especially this summer. But I do aim for a balance between work