Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018: My List of Accomplishments by Leanne Dyck

I began 2018 with two goals in mind. I wanted the right publisher to find me and I wanted to finish writing my middle-grade novel. I've made progress but... Still, as the last days of 2018 fly by, I'm smiling.

Here's why...

My list of 2018 accomplishments


for children...

In 2018, I wrote 17 stories for children--including picture books, a board book, an early reader book and a chapter book for a total of 53 picture book manuscripts.

I'm currently working on 4 picture book manuscripts.

for adults...

In 2018, I worked on 4 short story collections and 5 short novels

In total, including my YA novel, I have 63 manuscripts waiting for the right publisher.


As of today, there are 24,000 members in my online community
(Linked In, Facebook, Google +, Twitter)


As of today, this blog has received 330,000 page views

Most popular posts...

Wanderlust (438 page views)
Inspired by an online writing prompt

Moving to an Island (310 page views)
Inspired by my move to a small island

Making Writing Pay (256 page views)
Inspired by my change of attitude--from caring for children in daycare centres to my work as a writer.

This month...

This blog has been added to the Top 100 Canadian Book Blogger list. (In 2019, I plan to visit most--if not all--of the blogs listed. I invite you to too.)

Happy New Year!! 

Thank you for your continued support. Looking forward to sharing
2019 with you. (And there's lots to look forward to like short stories, book reviews and--at least one--guest post.)

Something like what I was aiming for, but...

Knitting Project Update...

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Guest Post: Stream of Consciousness Writing, Have You Tried It? by Melissa Chan

Stream of Consciousness Writing, Have You Tried It?

As someone who has tried and not yet succeeded at writing a book, stream of consciousness writing is a narrative style that I attempted a few times. What is stream of consciousness? Every author characterized under this style is different and unique, but in general, it is writing in a continuous flow of thoughts with first-person narration.

available from Literary Book Gifts

When I think of stream of consciousness books, I always think of James Joyce, and in particular his seminal novel Ulysses. Marcel Proust has been said to have pioneered this style in some of his work including In Search of Lost Time.

available from Literary Book Gifts

A more contemporary novel is that of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It's one of my favorite books and the one that made me aware of this way of writing. The book itself is short, powerful, and showcases this unique narration technique and what it is capable of. Creating an honest and simple dialogue between author and reader, the protagonist Holden Caulfield paints us an illustrative picture of his life. His thought processes, the things he questions, and how he interprets situations are shown to us as directly as he experiences them. It's as if we can see directly into his mind. It's hard to image J.D. Salinger writing this book or Holden's character in any other way.

As someone who hopes to one day be an author, I have tried on multiple occasions to get my thoughts down on paper in a cohesive way. With little rhyme or reason to my planning, ideas would find their way onto scraps of paper, digital notes, or the odd sketch on the back of a napkin. Plot, characters, setting, all a disjointed mess that has never really come together. Occasionally I sit down and try my best to 'just get started.' Because of the ease of reading stream of consciousness books, I thought it would be worth my while to give it a try. Unfortunately, I've never gotten far with this, a couple of thousand words at best. I'll talk about a couple of my thoughts about this experience.

Stream of consciousness writing looks easy but is not

The Catcher in the Rye appears as simple as a narrator speaking in a colloquial tone. At face value he is just talking, just like I might talk to someone else. So, in theory, I might be able to just write down what is happening and the story could just emerge from that. I understand now that this is wholly untrue, and for my own writing, stories don't just come about from nothing. Trying to write as quickly as I could think was not making anything easier, only harder. Thoughts become increasingly jumbled, and without direction, the ideas would stop altogether.

I am not sure how authors like J.D. Salinger or James Joyce wrote. Perhaps the chapters were carefully planned or there was at least a simple outline to follow. Maybe there was no outline but they knew the characters and story they were trying to tell so well that the writing followed with ease.

Writing style should go with what is being written

I like to think that authors are able to craft stories that tie in well with their particular style of writing. While trying to write I realized that this was not necessarily the case. I was free to write anything in any way that I chose. The Catcher in the Rye reads well because of its story is the perfect match with this type of narration. The characters, plot, setting, themes, and every other aspect of the novel is completely in tune with the style. This is no doubt one of the many reasons why it is considered by so many as such a masterpiece of contemporary literature.

One day I hope to write, maybe it will be in stream of consciousness, or maybe not. Until then I will continue to read and build my knowledge of books and writing in general.

Written by Melissa Chan, creator of Literary Book Gifts, gift shop for writers, readers, and storytellers. In the store there is a wide selection of book covers on t-shirts and tote bags to help spark some conversation between authors and readers alike.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Book review: Motherhood by Sheila Heti (autofiction)

I highly recommend Motherhood by Sheila Heti to all women--especially those 20 to 40 years of age. Women at this age face many challenging questions, such as--should I continue to focus on my career or shift my focus to family? Should I get married? Have a child?

Published by Penguin Random House UK
Published in 2018

I ordered my copy from Amazon. You can buy your copy from Galiano Island Book on Galiano Island in BC. If you can't find it on the shelf, they will order it for you. And they are hiring--so you could get a book and a job.

Some authors use setting--description--to invite readers into their stories. Others use characters--action, dialogue. Sheila Heti uses a game--flipping a coin--to not only invite us into the story but also into the mind of her protagonist, and this is where we remain. Motherhood is an exploration of ideas rather than a flight of fantasy. 

I like unique books that make me think. I loved Motherhood.

Favourite quotes...
'Happiness and joy are feeling like you belong to the world, are at home in the world, at the level of nature, humanity and time.' (p. 79)
'[L]ife is a beautiful and incredibly rare gift whose debt I will forever be in--and...I must spend my days paying back this debt.' (p. 119)
'A book lives in every person who reads it.' (p. 200) 

For a good definition of autofiction, read this article:  
Fact, Fiction or Autofiction? 

Next Post...

Published on Sunday, December 23
at approximately 5 PM PT

Guest post 
Stream of Consciousness Writing, Have You Tried It?
by Melissa Chan (Literary Book Gifts)

Sharing my author journey...

As a picture book author, the time to develop patience is when

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Book Review: The Birth House by Ami McKay (historical fiction)

Update:  The Birth House is being adapted for TV.

A sturdy square oak rocking chair with padded seat and back took pride of place in my grandparent's living room. The plaque, engraved in Icelandic, was from a grateful community to its midwife, my great grandmother. 
In 2007, when I traveled to Iceland, I learned that my great grandmother had studied--much like a doctor or nurse- the healing science in Akureyri (a seaside city in northern Iceland) before she immigrated to Canada in the 1800s.

I purchased my copy from my local bookstore--Books on Mayne

Published by Vintage Canada, a division of Random House of Canada
Published in 2006

Set on Canada's east coast, The Birth House chronicles the life of Dora Rare. Dora comes of age, tagging after her brothers, during the First World War. Marie Babineau--Miss B--admires Dora's strength of character and teaches her the ancient healing science of midwifery. 

There is much to admire about this well-crafted book:  the poetic language, the captivating plot, the immersive historical backdrop, the characters that breath on the page, the...
'The Birth House also includes many design elements within the text of the book, including advertisements, invitations, old news clippings and an herbal notebook--all circa World War I.' -Ami McKay
Letters also help to bring the story to life. Unfortunately, one letter is dated 'August 11, 1918' (p. 307) and the reply is dated 'August 12, 1918' (p. 308) It would have taken more than a day for this exchange--especially in 1918.

Favourite quote... 
'I know him, have always known him. Same as I know he doesn't like too much sugar, not in his coffee, not in a girl... Same as I know that tonight at midnight or half past one or whenever he sees that the rest of the Bay is asleep, [he] will make his way up the road to Spider Hill and lay his body next to mine again.' (p. 355)

Behind the scenes:  The Birth House (scroll to the bottom of the page)

Ami McKay writes about 'strong women doing remarkable things.' Please visit McKay's website.

Next post...

Sunday, December 16
5 PM PT (approximately)
Book Review:  Motherhood by Sheila Heti

What to read after reading The Birth House
Motherhood by Sheila Heti seemed the logical choice. Both books explore the role of women in society, both share a common theme--motherhood, both step outside the norm of the conventional book, both conclude... Ah, but to tell you more would spoil the suspense of waiting for my review.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sharon's Secret (short story) by Leanne Dyck

photo by ldyck

I went to university with a woman named Sharon. Sharon had an amazing work ethic. If we were asked to do one thing, Sharon always did one thing more--always. She outshone us all. I--and I'm sure I wasn't alone--wondered why she pushed herself so hard. Our course load was heavy enough without any additional pressure--it was a two-year course crammed into eighteen months. Never-the-less, Sharon continued to excel--charged by a never depleting battery. When we graduated, we all crossed our fingers and hoped we would get a job. We all did--except Sharon. Employers pursued her. They crossed their fingers and hoped she would pick them. 

When I choose writing as my career, I followed Sharon's example. And I think I may have learned Sharon's secret. When the rest of us were begrudging the effort we had to put in to make it through the course, I think Sharon fell in love with the struggle.

Next post...

Sunday, December 9 
5 PM PT (approximately)
Book Review:  The Birth House by Ami McKay
Set in Canada's east coast, The Birth House chronicles the life of Dora Rae. Dora comes of age, tagging after her brothers, during the First World War...

Sharing my author journey...

November in writing