Sunday, June 28, 2020

Independence (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A tale of how two brothers gained independence.

This short story was inspired by Canada Day (July 1st) and Independence Day (July 4th).

photo by ldyck


Elizabeth had two sons Ulysses and Cameron. She loved both of her sons equally.

Finances were merger for the single-parent household. So, in addition to his schoolwork, Ulysses contributed financially first by doing odd jobs around the neighbourhood and then by getting a part-time job at a local fast food joint. He brought every cent home to his mom. Elizabeth, alone, paid the bills and managed the cash flow.

"If I'm old enough to earn it, I'm old enough to manage it," Ulysses told his mom.

"We need to eat not buy new sneakers," Elizabeth told him. 

The two of them fought. It got so bad that one day, Ulysses told his mom, "That's it. I'm out of here." He couldn't stand to think of his little brother being raised by such a control freak so he added, "And Cameron is coming with me."

Fighting back tears, Elizabeth shot back, "Go, but your brother is staying with me."

Though tons of people just called Cameron "lil bro" and thought the best compliment they could give him was to tell him that he was just like Ulysses, it was plain to Elizabeth how different they were. Cameron was a gentle spirit. Instead of fighting for independence, he choose quiet moments to talk about it with her. And eventually, she did let him move away to attend university but she couldn't stop worrying about him. So she phoned or texted everyday and visited him once a month. She brought care packages, tidied his dorm room and did his laundry.

After work one night, she was waiting for a bus when a skinhead with hate tattoos grabbed her purse. She'd just been paid. It was stupid, but she held onto the straps. He drew a knife.

"Help," she screamed.

Out of the shadows, her baby boy, Cameron leapt to her defense. Just because he choose not to fight didn't mean he couldn't. With a well placed blow, Cameron knocked the knife out of the assailant's hand and saved his mother. 

From that day forward Elizabeth's respect for her youngest son grew. She stepped back more and more to allow Cameron to deal with his own affairs. And in this way, Cameron earned his independence. 

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Canada Day Celebrations

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On this blog in July...

Two short stories and two book reviews

July 5
short story:  A Fish on the Hayfield
how I became a writer

July 12
book review:  Room
Emma Donoghue
One of my favourite books

July 19
short story:  Maybe Me (romance)
slightly odd but, you know, isn't love like that

July 26
book review:  My Sister, the Serial Killer
Oyinkan Braithwaite
darkly comic thriller

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Book Review: Crow Winter by Karen McBride

Recent university graduate Hazel Ellis is grieving the loss of her father. To cope, she moves from Ottawa back to Spirit Bear Point First Nation reserve and rediscovers Algonquin spirituality.
'The reserve exists outside the boundaries of regular time.' (p. 80)

Published by HarperAvenue
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Published in 2019

What attracted me to this book? 

A devoted listener of The Next Chapter on CBC radio, I heard Shelagh Rogers interview Karen McBride and I thought, I've got to learn more about that book. I typed Crow Winter into a search engine, read an excerpt and was hooked. I bought the book at an independent bookstore--Tanner's Books on Vancouver Island.

My Review

Reviewing Crow Winter is a heavy weight because it is so rich with many layers

-how to heal from grief


-the importance of culture--ethnic and familial


-an introduction to Algonquin culture--including a glossary of Algonquin words


-comments on settlers' exploitation of reserve land


-an introduction to life on a reserve


-the importance of nature and why we must do our part to protect and heal it


All of these layers are piled up in an unputdownable read. I walked into the world Karen McBride created and didn't want to leave. The imaginary was just so beautiful. I felt this story.

And on top of all of that there's an intriguing mystery. In fact, there are two. One is solved. And the other... How involved is Hazel's mother Nora in Hazel's relationship with Nanabush? 

Oh and also...

Well, I could go on and on and still not feel like I did justice to this book. You'll just have to read Crow Winter

'Gifts of sunshine from my neighbour's garden' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

A few days ago--Wednesday, June 17--I re-wrote this short story (originally written in December 2005) and because it's about you I wanted to share it with you...

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blogging: What You Need to Know (article) by Leanne Dyck

Wow, you knocked my socks off in May. 16,000 page views. 16,000 page view in one month. Wow! Oh, said that before. But wow. Thank you for your support. 

photo by ldyck

I've been blogging since 2005. I created this blog in 2010.

From my home on a rural island, this blog has helped me connect with those in the publishing industry--readers, authors, editors and publishers. 

I enjoy blogging and consider it to be part of my writing practice.

I hope you find this collection of articles helpful as you create, build and maintain your own blog. 

An Introduction to Blogging

Should Writers Blog?

The Benefits of Blogging

Secrets of Successful Blogging

Tips on Writing Blog Posts

How to Write Popular Posts

Do You Suffer from Blogger Fatigue? Here's the Cure...

Why You Shouldn't Change Your Blog Address


Social Networking Q and A

Marketing Tips For Authors

The Best On-line Marketing Strategy


Here's an excellent article from a blogging pro

How to Start Blogging:  A Definitive Guide for Authors 
by Jane Friedman

I haven't bought these books or course but I do follow these author blogs.

The Author Blog:  
Easy Blogging for Busy Authors
Anne R Allen

Rise of the Machines--
Human Authors in a Digital Age
Kristen Lamb

And Kristen Lamb's three-hour on demand course

Spilling the Tea
Blogging for Authors

Next Sunday... 

June 21st

book review:  Crow Winter by Karen McBride

I loved this book and next Sunday I look forward to telling you why.

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

Follow, follow me...

from a neighbour's garden
photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

I wrote this poem as it happened--at 9 Am on Friday...

For six months, from January to June, I've been captive. The only place I've gone is to a park and up and down my street--occasionally stopping to visit my neighbours, while remembering physical distancing. And this captivity, I think it's having an effect on my brain...

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Book Review: Reproduction by Ian Williams (2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner)

I found your latest book club read. Believe me, Reproduction is sure to generate lots of discussions.

Most notably for me, questions regarding the line between consent and sexual abuse.

In the late 70's...

A nineteen-year-old woman is grieving the recent death of her mother. A much older man comforts her. This comforting leads to sex. Did the man prey on the woman?

In the mid 90's...

A young woman takes the drug her boyfriend offered her. Is she responsible for what happens next?

Present day...

A young man makes sexually explicit art. Is he responsible for those who view it? Is he a 'sexual terrorist'?

Reproduction is a novel for our times.

Published in 2019
Published by Vintage Canada
a division of Penguin Random House Canada

Reading Reproduction won't teach you how to write a novel. Master storytellers can take chances those learning the craft cannot.

Dialogue needs action. Right? You need to take time to place your reader in time, in place. Right? 

Ian Williams threw out the writers' rule-book.

At times I found myself wondering where I was and who was speaking. But I cared so much about the family of characters that I had no choice but to keep reading. And besides this book just worked.

Ian Williams is a brave and creative author.

Next Sunday evening...

June 14th

Blogging:  What you need to know

How do you build a popular blog?

I built 'The Sweater Curse' blog in 2010. I renamed the blog 'Author Leanne Dyck's blog' a few years after that. It's not advisable to name your blog after your book. And it's definitely not advisable to re-name your blog. But I hung in there and this blog grew (450,000 page views). Next Sunday I'll share with you what I've learned.

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

Follow, follow me...

A project that I completed this spring was to sort through my