The Happy Retiree!

I do not know if I will ever retire, but I don’t think most artists and writers do. On the other hand, I have learned over many years a great deal about the subject. Especially about all the aspects other than the financial ones which I will leave to the experts. Although I will have some references for those who have not already looked at that well covered topic of how to plan for your finances for retirement. Many of which I have used myself. However, what I am writing is a book about the other aspects of this late stage of one’s life. For instance, what are you going to do with your time? It is a period that has now become far longer for many people than it has been in the past. In this blog, I intend to introduce aspects of the book. Basically this is an appetizer for a book on planning for a creative retirement. Do you have a passion that will provide a thread to connect your days? Who are you?

How about a title? I have a number of working titles. Any comments about THE HAPPY RETIREE; Exploring New Paths. Any other suggestions? Do please let me hear from you. Leave a comment!

Posted on July 29, 2019 .

What A Year!

The White Ribbon Man" was published in May 2018. That was exactly a year ago. Since the Inanna Launch of five of its authors with new books at the Women's Art Association in downtown Toronto, my life has been very busy! Here is a lineup of the events from then to now. You may just want to skim these. If so, don’t miss a paragraph or so that follows that will likely interest you.

May 3, 2018. Toronto. Official Launch of The White Ribbon Man along with 4 other Inanna authors.

Toronto events in 2018.
The Sleuth Of Baker Street Bookstore. June. Reading with Lisa de Nikolits and Sky McKay Curtis.
Queen Saulter Branch, TPL. An hour in July with Mary Lou Dickinson
-A soiree with friends in July. Loren Edizel and I read and answered questions

-The Church of the Holy Trinity. August. Presentation of the book at the church where it is set
Spadina Branch, TPL. An hour in September with Mary Lou Dickinson.
Another Story Books in the fall. A talk about writing groups with me, Ele Pawelski, Heather Wood, Ron Schafrick. Moderated by Jerry Schaefer.

Out of town:
New Liskeard, Chat Noir Books in July. Read with Brit Griffen.
Chatham. An evening with Tri County Literacy Network in August. 
Montreal. Two readings in October in Montreal. Art Centre in Westmount with 8 or 9 others, including Myna Wallin, and Paragraphe Books across from McGill campus with Loren Edizel & Myna Wallin.
Hamilton. Lit Live. I was one of six authors, including Ingrid Ruthig & Ray Robertson as well as Moez Surani, Cameron Anstee & Liz Harmer, who read at this event in early November. 

Toronto events in 2019
Ontario Library Association Superconference. Crime Writers of Canada members presented short pitches on their current books. Feb.
Draft Readings. Read 3 pp. of a piece in progress (Leonard Cohen & Me). Feb.
Writers Union of Canada (Toronto area). A panel on writing groups with Zoe Ray, Allan Weiss, Patricia Westerhof, Heather Wood, and me. Feb.
Noir at the Bar. Read with Christian Baines, Michael Januska, Kim Moritsugu, Jon Sheppard & Jennifer Soosar. Feb.
A Women's club in East York. I was the speaker for the evening. March.
Famous Last Words. Read with Loren Edizel, John  Miller &   Catriona Wright.  March.
Csarn Salon. A short presentation of my work as an author and a description of "The White Ribbon Man." March
Ben McNally Books. Presented short list for Crime Non Fiction at announcement of short lists for Arthur Ellis awards. Short pitch of own book. April.
Crime Writers of Canada presented a panel for Sisters in Crime. Moderated by Des Ryan. Panelists: Sharon Crawford, Lisa de Nikolits, Maureen Jennings and me. On mysteries set in Toronto. Northern District Library. April.
Book Clubs also. Always interesting as most members have read the book

Out of Town:
Novel Idea Books, Kingston. 
Read with Elizabeth Greene (moderator), Lisa de Nikolits, & Ursula Pflug. March.

Time to move on? 
I think it is time to listen to the other projects that are demanding my attention. Of course, an invite to speak at an event with a fee (let's say $100 to $5000!!!) would get a positive response, I think. Don't you? In the meantime, some of you know about the memoir (now complete, or almost, I hope) and the non fiction book on creative retirement I have begun. Also a collection of short stories well underway. And I suppose a good idea for another mystery might start something in that genre. You know, a Jack Cosser mystery series. In any case, there is plenty still to write and to work on. I don't suppose I will be bored!
                In other aspects of my life, there is still dancing. And I have had recent trips to visit family in Montreal and Winnipeg. And went to Halifax for the AGM of the Writers' Union of Canada. Then Friendship Force of Toronto (non profit home stay travel group that receives guests from and sends our own members to other clubs around the world) hosted a group from Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year some members from our group will travel to four cities in Western Canada and next year to New Zealand and Australia.
                In the meantime, lots of reading, catching up with friends and cultural events, seeing grandkids (now 21, 5 & 2), dancing. And am looking forward to seeing many of you. And reading your books that I want to tell you about. Etc., etc.

Posted on June 13, 2019 .

Listen To This!

There is a broadcast of a recent reading I participated in at Novel Idea Books in Kingston earlier in March. Many thanks to Bruce Kauffman. Since it has aired already,  here are some other options for hearing it. I am the second reader on the tape.

Live online: Streams live at, then saved in the station's archives there for up to 90 days.

Blogspace: At  shortly after show airs, will remain there easily accessible for 4 years.

As a podcast: Accessible in iTunes, other apps, and on CFRC’s podcast link at

Automatic weekly podcast downloads: Search 'Finding a Voice' in and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Play. 

Happy Spring (feels as if it is almost on the horizon).
Mary Lou

My upcoming March events include:

  1. Thursday, March 21st 7:30 pm. East York University Women's Club . Speech. 125 Brentcliffe Rd. in Northlea United Church)

  2.  Sunday, March 31st 5:15 pm. JUNCTION READS AND WRITES .at Famous Last Words Books, 392 Pacific Avenue..


Posted on March 16, 2019 .

February to April 2019. Updated List.

(Done) February 1 (Friday). OLA (Ontario Library Association) Superconference. Crime Writers of Canada members present short pitches (2 to 3 min) on their current books -1 to 2 p.m. Metro Convention Centre Toronto. (This event has happened and it was great fun to present to librarians at the Ontario Library Association Conference. The challenge is to stand out enough so that the librarians will remember you pitch enough and follow up with buying your book/s for their libraries).

***(New) February 17th. 3 p.m. I will read at the Draft Writing Series. 450 Broadview Avenue, Toronto (just north of Gerrard). I am one of a group who will each have 4 minutes to read.

February 20 (Weds) The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC). Panel on Writing' Groups. Glad Day Bookshop.  Church & Wellesley. Panel to be announced. Some changes made, but I think I am still on it.
February 28 (Thurs) Noir at The Bar.. 7 pm  Wallace Gastro Pub. Reading (Christian Baines, Mary Lou Dickinson, Michael Januska, Kim Moritsugu, Jon Sheppard, Jennifer Soosar)
1954 Yonge St., at Davisville, Toronto.

March 7 (Thurs.) Novel Idea Books 7 pm (Kingston, ON). Readings and Q&A with Lisa de Nikolits, Mary Lou Dickinson, Ursula Pflug, & Elizabeth Greene

March 12 (Tues)      Book Club (Toronto)  Private

March 21 (Thurs)    University Women’s Club, East York  Speech 7.30 pm

March 31 (Sun)       Famous Last Words (to be confirmed) evening

 April 10 (Weds)     Book Club (Toronto) evening Private

April 18 (Thurs)     Panel 7 pm (Authors from Crime Writers of Canada whose mysteries are set in Toronto at Sisters in   Crime meeting) Sharon Crawford, Lisa de Nikolits, Mary Lou Dickinson, &  Desmond Ryan. With special guest, Maureen Jennings. At Northern District  Library. Open to the public. $5.non members of SINC..


Posted on February 5, 2019 .

Upcoming Events. 2019.

February 1 (Friday). OLA (Ontario Library Association) Superconference. Crime Writers of Canada members present short pitches (2 to 3 min) on their current books -1 to 2 p.m. Metro Convention Centre Toronto 

February 20 (Weds) The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC). Panel on Writers' Groups. Glad Day Bookshop.  Church & Wellesley. Mary Lou Dickinson, Zoe Roy, Jacqueline Valencia, Patricia Westerhof., Allan Weiss, & Heather Wood 
February 28 (Thurs) Noir at The Bar.. 7 pm  Wallace Gastro Pub. Reading (Christian Baines, Mary Lou Dickinson, Michael Januska, Kim Moritsugu, Jon Sheppard, Jennifer Soosas)
1954 Yonge St., at Davisville, Toronto.

March 7 (Thurs.) Novel Idea Books 7 pm (Kingston, ON). Readings and Q&A with Lisa de Nikolits, Mary Lou Dickinson, Ursula Pflug, & Elizabeth Greene

March 12 (Tues)      Book Club (Toronto)  Private

March 21 (Thurs)    University Women’s Club, East York  Speech 7.30 pm

March 31 (Sun)       Famous Last Words (to be confirmed) evening

 April 10 (Weds)     Book Club (Toronto) evening Private

April 18 (Thurs)     Panel 7 pm (Authors from Crime Writers of Canada whose mysteries are set in Toronto at Sisters in   Crime meeting) Sharon Crawford, Lisa de Nikolits, Mary Lou Dickinson, &  Desmond Ryan. With special guest, Maureen Jennings. At Northern District  Library. Open to the public. $5.non members of SINC..


Posted on January 24, 2019 .

The White Ribbon Man. Commentary on Facebook (by Jeffrey Round).

Came home on New Year’s Eve to find this comment by Jeffery Round on Facebook on books he had read and liked over he season.. What a gift as a new year begins! Thanks to Jeffrey!

“The White Ribbon Man by Mary Lou Dickinson (Inanna) – every once in a while you come across a book that has so much heart you just want to hug it. This is one of them, but the surprise is that it’s also an adroitly told whodunit. Dickinson takes Toronto’s famous Church of the Holy Trinity (behind the Eaton Centre) and creates not only an intimate portrait of the community that revolves around it, but also the prickly details of a murder and its suspects, including the church's sleep-walking pastor. A highly enjoyable read, it also offers some perceptive insights into the psychic ills of our times.”

Posted on January 1, 2019 .

The Writer's Life. Writing A New Book.

I am about to venture into my first non fiction title. I am not about to divulge the main title at this point, but the subtitle is:


          "What You Need To Know Now About Retirement."


Any suggestions about what you would like to see included are welcome. Or questions you might have that you think would be beneficial for others. This will be a book that will relate the stories of people who are approaching retirement. Rather than overloading the book with information that is likely out there in the many books published on the subject, my hope is to engage readers with questions that are pivotal for them to have a fulfilling retirement. Good heavens, this might mean that in the years that most would retire if they could, you might choose to go on working, perhaps part time, if you have the option. Or you might decide to travel around the world. The key point is that it will make your own retirement all the more rewarding if you think about it beforehand and deal with a lot of questions you may not have thus far even considered!.


Please let me know what you would like me to consider!

Also if you would like to be interviewed!


My first four books are fiction titles:

   One Day It Happens (short stories) 2007

   Ile d'Or (Novel) 2010

   Would I Lie To You? (Novel) 2014

   The White Ribbon Man (Mystery) 2018





Posted on July 31, 2018 .

Review of The White Ribbon Man. by Edward Brown

Murder in the Church

A Kill, a Cop

and a Sleep Walking Priest


Shoehorned in behind Toronto Eaton Centre—a modern glass and steel edifice where shoppers worship en masse at the altar of consumerism—sits The Church of the Holy Trinity, AD 1847. For more than a century and a half the Anglican Church, the fictional setting for Mary Lou Dickinson’s (One Day It Happens, Ile D’or, Would I Lie to You?) murder mystery, The White Ribbon Man, has experienced more than its share of indignities.   

The old grey church in the square has never had an easy go of it. The Gothic Revival structure was originally constructed on swampy land at the forested outskirts of a fledgling city with funds bequeathed to the Toronto diocese by an English heiress who wouldn’t survive past her twenty-fifth birthday. Eventually situated in a slum neighborhood known as The Ward, Holy Trinity fast became a life raft for an impoverished community drowning in urban squalor.

Throughout its long history and up to the present, Holy Trinity has faced threats from fire, the wrecking ball, expropriation, and bankruptcy. A couple of years ago an arsonist tried, but mercifully failed, to torch the place of worship. If that weren’t bad enough, ongoing construction in the vicinity appears to have caused significant structural damage to sections of the church’s limestone walls.

For 171 years Holy Trinity has taken these abuses in stride. Then along comes Dickinson’s page turner. The novel opens pleasantly enough on a sunny, autumn Sunday morning as regular congregants and strangers alike greet one another in the welcoming, inclusive spirit that defines Holy Trinity. Pleasantries are quickly dashed when, minutes before the service is to commence, a congregant discovers the fashionably dressed corpse of Marni Atchison, an outcast from a religious organization known for sermonizing on porches and crowded sidewalks, her stylish, red heels jutting from under a bathroom stall in the basement.   

Will the indignities ever end?

To solve the crime Dickinson adeptly plugs into the veins of activism that course through the congregation. Parishioners may be alarmed by the heinous crime that has occurred in their house of worship but they refuse to cower. While some make efforts to clear their name, with the assistance of kindly homicide detective Jack Cosser and partner Steve Reid whose sexual orientation is currently in flux, sleuthing members set out to solve the murder.

The White Ribbon Man disposes of predictable mystery novel devices and unlike some authors working in the genre today who revel in scripting pages of gory violence, Dickinson’s approach falls closer to an old school Dashiell Hammett potboiler, minus the hardboiled detective and foreboding mood. Instead of plucking characters straight out of central casting like a gruff, jaded homicide detective or the benevolent and wise clergyman, Dickinson turns these types on their head.

There is no getting around the fact that Detective Cosser is, well, a swell guy. Heck, he’d rather have a soothing spot of chamomile tea over black coffee any day. Cosser’s marriage may have flat-lined, a casualty of the emotional toll his grisly occupation can have, but not once does he trash talk his ex to fellow officers or the couple’s preteen daughter who Cosser loves to bits.  

The author gives Father David, the collarless, blue jean wearing priest a similar refreshing treatment. The man leading the flock is self-absorbed, insecure and suffers from chronic somnambulism. Throughout, the sleepwalking priest struggles to fill sizable gaps in his memory, wide enough to navigate Noah’s Ark through. Is he the culprit? Not even Father David can say for certain.

Rosemary the sleuthing librarian may be the best hope for solving the homicide but admittedly, her crime fighting knowhow is limited to skills gleaned from episodes of Homicide, Life on the Street. Did Rosemary encounter the killer after responding to a personal ad in the classifieds agreeing to a luncheon date with a redheaded stranger, a white ribbon pinned to his lapel? Was she the intended victim? Is the key to tracking a killer lie with Ardith, nonverbal and confined to a wheelchair vis-à-via Jimmy Stewart’s character in Hitchcock’s Rear Window?                 

The plot of Dickinson’s thriller is not complex. She writes with intentionality leaving nothing to chance. The author’s strength lies in fleshing out diverse characters who display the best, as well as the most deplorable aspects of human nature. Although events unfold primarily in the church, in respect to the institution, The White Ribbon Man is not reverential. However, there are moments when the reader is subjected to what feels like mini sermons on Dickinson’s behalf. For example, upon arriving at the crime scene Detective Cosser observes the crowd of homeless milling about and laments, “Soon winter will come and one of these men could die of the cold out there.”

In the end, The White Ribbon Man provides a sobering parable reinforcing lessons on the destructive nature shame can wield over individuals obsessed with hiding past deeds and the blinding influence of hypocrisy.


Edward Brown is an author and freelance writer. His work appears in the Globe & Mail, Torstar, Spacing Magazine and other publications.  



Posted on July 9, 2018 .

Brief Book Review. Judy Rebick's "Heroes In my Head."

What a powerful book Judy Rebick’s “Heroes in my Head” is. Thanks to her for writing it. It’s dynamite. And I’m sure will have an impact. With the #MeToo movement changing the conversation so that women are heard and believed, this book has arrived at just the right time to make waves. A page turner! I kept on turning those pages as if I had nothing else to do. I admire Judy’s courage and am in awe of all that she has thus far accomplished, not least of which is/was the courage to face her childhood abuse and to deal with and integrate her alters. Bravo!

Posted on April 10, 2018 .

BLURBS for "The White Ribbon Man."

These are some of the blurbs I have received for my mystery novel that will be published imminently.  There are likely a couple more blurbs upcoming, but I wanted to get these up and visible to rouse your interest. I am delighted with the comments because they are insightful and honest and come from people whose work I admire.  .

After a woman is found dead in a downtown church basement, nearly everyone becomes a suspect. Dickinson deftly takes us into the world of a social-justice community and their struggles to cope in the aftermath of violence. When a writer and cop unintentionally team up, imagination and evidence blur. This is a page-turner with an unexpected plot-twist that will leave the reader guessing until the very end. 

Farzana DoctorAuthor of All Inclusive, Six Metres of Pavement, Stealing Nasreen


An insightful and contemplative literary mystery that is steeped in religion, lost loves, loneliness, and the desire for companionship and meaning in life. A beautifully written poignant and touching exploration of human hopes and frailties.

Lisa de Nikolits. Author of No Fury Like That, The Nearly Girl, Between the Cracks She Fell & four other novels.

A well imagined story of how a horrible crime not only upends lives, but the trust of a community. In The White Ribbon Man, Mary Lou Dickinson also explores the mental and emotional injuries that children suffer under the unrelenting demands of fundamentalist religion. It’s a book that will leave you thinking.\

Ken Murray. Author of Eulogy (a novel).

NOTE: You are welcome to come to the Inanna Spring Book launch on Thursday, May 3rd from 6 - 8:30 p.m. at the Women's Art Association, 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto

Posted on March 31, 2018 .

Upcoming Launch. May 3, 2018

Fast approaching is the launch of my mystery novel, The White Ribbon Man. It will be held at the Women's Art Association at 23 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto as part of an Inanna Publications Spring launch. So mark the date, May 3rd, and the time 6 p.m . and come out and welcome the new books of five Inanna authors. 



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Posted on March 23, 2018 .


I used to think I knew all there was to know about loneliness. That was a long time ago. What i did know was that then it was like a disease. You could not mention it because the other thought they might catch it or that they were expected to solve it for you. Finally it became clear that if someone would hear the statement, the loneliness would evaporate. In other words, listen! Later I learned that to deal with feeling crappy and alone, if I had three things in a day I would be fine. Some meaningful social contact, even with a stranger on some days. Physical exercise. And for me, learning something new every day, however small. Since then I do not feel lonely most of the time even though what I do in my life is very isolating. I write. Of course, I can also converse with my characters! But real people are more important!!!


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Posted on March 11, 2018 .

Discover My Books!

Posted on March 2, 2018 .

New Book Coming Soon!

Mary Lou Dickinson returns soon (May, 2018) with her fourth book, a mystery, “The White Ribbon Man.” This book, set in Toronto, highlights a city that has become one of the best in the world! Win the appreciation and plaudits of your friends when you suggest, or give, this book to them.

In “The White Ribbon Man,” a woman who walks into a church to use the washroom sees a terrifying scene. On the floor, she sees legs sticking out of one of the washroom’s stalls.

The woman screams!

Others come!

Police are called!

Who is the woman?

No one knows.

There is no identification, just an empty purse.

What happened to her?

Who are the people in this church on a November Sunday morning? And how do they react?

You will soon be able to read Dickinson’s new book to find out.

Cover image: Who is she? What happened to her?

Cover image: Who is she? What happened to her?

Posted on September 18, 2017 .

Mortality and Death.

I am going to write about death. Why? At 80, I think about it. Not a lot, Not as much as you might expect at this age because I am too busy doing what I enjoy. It is, however, an inevitable reality. No escape. I might hope to live another 10, 15, even 20 years in good health, but most would agree that might be unreasonable. And if truth be told, while I used to have goals with 5 and ten year horizons, I take each day as it comes now. I do have goals, but they do not take away from ongoing pleasure, nor are they set in stone. What I get done, or do, I am glad about. If I were to die tomorrow, I would do so without regrets. I have had a good life. I guess I would regret that I would not be here to see my young grandchildren grow up and that they would not have the fun of my presence. Yes, I regret that when I think about it. But the antidote is to love them and see them as much as is possible now when none of them live in the same city. 

This interest in death was spurred on of late after reading the review of a book by Irving D. Yalom entitled "Staring At The Sun; Overcoming The Terror Of Death." I wanted to read it because while I don't feel terror at the thought of death, the thought of dying does plague me at times. The thought of being in pain, of losing my independence, etc., does frighten me because it is a great unknown, but the thought of simply not existing any more does not. I suppose it did when I was young enough to know I would regret some things. But since I have lived my life in such a way as to fulfill my dreams, to have satisfying relationships with my family, to have good friends, to be physically active, I don't know what more I could wish for. I have three lovely grandchildren (ages 5 months to 19),I travel a bit, have books published and another about to come out. All in all, I consider myself amazingly fortunate. 

What is death? Some have the belief that there is life everlasting. Others in reincarnation. Others in total nothingness. I am not sure what it means to die. I will die. I will be gone. But I have made some kind of small impact on the people closest to me. I won't be forgotten easily for a long time. That feels like enough. Perhaps people will go on reading my books. Who knows! But I have written them and they have been published and as recently as today in a yoga class a woman came over to me to tell me she had read my novel, Ile d'Or during the summer. She gave positive feedback. A satisfied reader. 

So, I do not feel that I have to overcome the fear of my own death! I do feel that I will be devastated by losses along the way, another kind of terror of death, I suppose.. But I go on living my life, trying to be a gentle and kind person, loving family and friends, and continuing with my writing. At the moment, that writing constitutes this blog post. Will I write more about death? I don't know. I am a lot closer to the end than I have ever been. When will that happen? How? I hope the people I love know that I don't have regrets and that I love them. I do tell them, but I hope it carries them through in some way to know this. Through my death. And through their own lives as they live them. With the knowledge that while everyone may need to look at the terror of death, it is possible to live without that fear being ever present. Especially if they are living examined lives and have a sense of meaning and purpose. 

These are my words about death today. Maybe there will be more!


Posted on September 14, 2017 .

Life of a Writer: Writing a Memoir. Who Does This?

Apparently a lot of people write memoirs. With some, they can finally tell a story that promotes healing for them. For me, it has been a long journey, often wondering whether my story was/is sufficiently interesting for a memoir. Well, whether it is/was or not, it is now almost finished. Recently, I revised with the aim of cutting at least 30,000 words. It might benefit from more than that, but as I go through it now it has become harder to eliminate further. I have managed, however, to change the focus and to start from the beginning with that in mind. The title has also changed more than once. I like the present one and hope that it will stick.

The most recent title is "Now Or Never." My friend, Michele, in Montreal liked it better than the previous title, "Better Late Than Never," and after some thought, I made the change. Your comments on this are welcome. The title before this massive revision was "Restless." That no longer seemed to fit. So I moved the prologue well on into the manuscript and wrote a new one. I am not ready to share it yet, but probably will at some point.

Such is the life of a writer. Even though the fourth book, a mystery, will be launched next spring, there are (I still have) qualms and questions about the next. C'est la vie.

Posted on July 22, 2017 .

The Writer's Life. Revision #2.

45,000 words to cut. Score card. 22,000 done, 23,000 more to go.

Question: "Can I cut 1000 words before breakfast?"
Answer:   "Done!"

Of course, it is not quite that arbitrary or easy, but once the knife has been sharpened it starts to get easier.

"There, you were a good sentence, still are, but you don't really belong here."
Ruthlessly I draw the delete line  through the words of that sentence and it is gone.

Then : Breakfast!

More to come soon... Or go...

Posted on June 6, 2017 .