This Might Explain Why It Has Been So Long Since I last Posted Anything!

It was a beautiful day on Saturday when the family of my children's father bid him farewell. RIP Gordon. The three adult children, the first two mine, the third Joanne's, were all amazing. Their father would have been so proud. Perhaps surprising for a writer, I have very few words. Just a succession of images -miso soup, seeing a childhood friend in the church, a photo of Gord as a child, blue skies when rain and thunder were forecast, vignettes of people. As a series of disparate paintings I sometimes have pass inadvertently before my eyes that I have never tried to put into words, these images are beautiful. It was a very moving day when all the children and many relatives gathered around their father, uncle (Leslie, Michael, Susan)...(it was a shock to have a woman greet me warmly as Aunt Mary Lou and to have no idea who she was. Soon became clear!) with much insight, sharing and love. Phil arrived in Montreal from Germany the evening before, put his family in a taxi (his 15 month old son very upset and baffled) to their home in Montreal and flew onto downtown Toronto.(He will be happy to be home again). He appeared in his most casual attire (another image), was a pall bearer and spoke very movingly. My older grandson was also a pall bearer. My son in law spoke and then my son did, both with much insight into a complex man and father they brought once more to life in their words, and with contrasting style and content, the two men were the central and focal and unusual part of a very traditional Anglican service that, at Gord's request, his younger (half Jewish) daughter, Thea, had arranged. Andrea, my daughter, was there, often long distance, helping her out at every step and she wrote the lovely obit that appeared in the Globe and the Star. A procession right to graveside after the service. A gathering afterwards at a home in North Toronto. Joanne and I were so very proud of all three children.

The fatigue in the aftermath of the pneumonia lessens so very gradually, but each day is slightly better than the one before. I have not yet made the decision about going to Vancouver, but I did ask the publicist to cancel the one reading the publisher had arranged, a nice one, too , at a library I have been to in North Vancouver. It did not seem fair to keep them on hold or to have to cancel at the last minute. It would have been just a bit too much pressure for me right now, too. I will see the doctor tomorrow to ask some questions, as I am still really tired and sometimes a bit shaky. Even so it feels as if the trajectory is in a positive direction. And I do have a suitcase out!
Posted on August 20, 2015 .

Life of a Writer: The Book Goes On Tour.

View this email in your browser

Hello Friends and Colleagues,

I thought you would be interested in hearing about recent venues where I read from and talked about my novel, Would I Lie To You? As well as meeting new people, it was a real bonus to see so many family and friends there.

Paragraph Books in Montreal on April 15, 2015
Yellow Door Reading Series, also in Montreal, on April 16, 2015.

McNally Robinson Books in:
Winnipeg on June 2, 2015 and in Saskatoon on June 4th, 2015. The photo was taken in Winnipeg.

These are all wonderful bookstores and series that support and promote Canadian authors. I was very pleased to have an opportunity to read at all of them.
And to meet and share the podium with interesting authors. Loren Edizel in Montreal, Pam Galloway in Winnipeg and Joan Spencer Olson in Saskatoon. Each author came from somewhere else, including Toronto, Regina and Vancouver. Great fun to learn what writers across the country are doing. Something I also did at the Writers' Union of Canada AGM that took place in Winnipeg just prior to the western readings. 

What's coming next? I like surprises so if you have ideas for an event, e.g. your book club or discussion group, please get in touch. In the meantime, I will read at Lit Live in Hamilton on October 4th and in Chatham on a date yet to be determined. Oh yes, there is a private celebration of friends in July in Toronto. I have also just been asked to speak at a book club in Toronto in November. And then there are the dreams ... the Provence garden and a cruise are still possibilities on the horizon.

At the moment, it will soon be summer holiday time! I am going to the Jazz Festival in Montreal with friends for a few days and then on to visit another friend on the St. Lawrence in rural Quebec.

Have a wonderful summer!

Mary Lou

p.s. If you have a moment, check out the video. Created by John Lofaso and posted on the Inanna Publications website.
Posted on June 19, 2015 .

Life of a Writer. Reading Tour. Heading Home.

Heading home from Saskatoon. Sitting in the airport pondering the last few days when I attended the Writers Union AGM in Winnipeg and read at McNally Robinson Books in bothWinnipeg (with Pam Galloway) and Saskatoon (with Joan Spencer Olsen). A very full and satisfying time when I also saw family and friends. There were many highlights including hearing my friend, Dianne, deliver an inspiring homily on non violence and peace. She used the example of Jesus being labelled as having 'lost his mind' when he preached unusual views  difficult for many to accept. And in this context revealed that any violent, militaristic approach left her deeply troubled as well as angry and that she would not conduct any future services that honoured these symbols. Another highlight...a cruise on the river that divides Saskatoon (the bridges join it) on what turned out to be the first event for Gay Pride in Saskatoon. Such a joyful event when we were welcomed when we turned up to find the cruise we were hoping to take had been reserved by Gay Pride for the opening event of Pride week there. Not part of the group, we enjoyed the welcome invite that eventually was extended to us to join the trip and once aboard, were also invited to share food. As well as some conversation with the party-goers, we enjoyed the views and highlights of Saskatoon.

In Winnipeg I was able to visit my brother's grave. This was a journey I wanted to take. As well as to visit all his family who live in the area. Lovely that most were also able to come out to my reading there, as did my friend in Saskatoon.

Posted on June 8, 2015 .

The Writers Union AGM. 2015.

I arrived in Winnipeg at noon for the AGM of The Writers Union of Canada. It promises to be interesting with a joint meeting with the League of Canadian Poets. The Keynote intro to the conference was very movingly presented by Gregory Scofielf, a Metis poet, in the form of a long poem. Many upcoming meetings in the next two days or so. Looking forward to...

 Also walked to the Forts today. Feel as if I am in Winnipeg now.

June 2. Indeed it was an interesting time! Perhaps I will write about it in more detail when I get back to Toronto. At the moment, I am preparing for readings in Winnipeg and Saskatoon, both at McNally Robinson Bookstores.

Posted on May 28, 2015 .

Great News! Contender for the Exile Writers CVC Short Fiction Contest. 2015

Just learned that I am on the long list for the Exile Writers Carter V Cooper Short Fiction Contest prize, one of the EmergingWriters so honoured! Such a thrill. Fingers crossed that my story, Oh, the Stars! makes it to the shortlist. All shortlisted stories get published. And, what the heck...T'would be nice to win, too. There is not only honour associated with this prize, but also $$$.
Posted on May 15, 2015 .

Oshawa Book Club. 2015

What a delight to read and discuss my book with a book club where all the members had already bought and read it! My friend, Gloria, belongs to an Oshawa book club in the city where she used to live. Although she now lives in Toronto, she continues to be a member. The other women traveled into Toronto for the meeting, hosted by Gloria, where we all ate a superb lunch before talking about 'Would I Lie To You?'

The women wanted to hear me read something from the novel, so we started with that. I could skip around because it would not give away the plot. So I did, interspersing that with asking them questions and answering theirs. It is fun when the readers know the book intimately and have opinions. For instance, one or another expressed dislike for Emily in the early pages. I said I hadn't liked her either until later. She seemed somehow snobby to one woman. I asked what she/they had thought as they encountered what she thought of the main character later. By then, they could see why she had not initially liked Sue.

Oh yes, they agreed. Emily had actually been very perceptive. They wanted to talk about the secrets each partner had concealed from the other. And how these secrets had been preserved in the past through generations, but were coming out in this one.

One woman did not like the psychic. Not because she did not like psychics, but she did not appreciate that as a married man, he was having an affair.

"Men!?" I said somewhat facetiously. But then, "What did you think later?"

And once again, he seemed to appeal to her more by then. Once they knew him better and the situation, he became more likeable. Although I don't necessarily think readers ought to like my characters. There are times when I don't myself. They are who they are. After a while, they develop in spite of me. As do stories!

Just thought I'd let you know! 
Posted on March 16, 2015 .


Hello Friends and Colleagues:

If you are living in or visiting the town/city of any of the following readings, please come out to hear me read from my new novel, Would I Lie To You? I look forward to seeing you there.  And let's chat!

I enjoy doing readings, meeting with book clubs and just generally meeting with people, answering questions, exchanging ideas, etc. Please feel free to contact me at:

I have listed a couple of private events without any details just to let you know you can organize something similar if you wish. Just get in touch and we will go from there.

The events:

[Tues. March 10.  Oshawa Book Club meeting in        

                             Toronto. Private]

*Weds. April 15     6 p.m. Paragraphe Books,
                             2220 McGill College Avenue,

*Thurs. April 16  6:30 p.m. Yellow Door
Reading Series.
                             3625 Aylmer
                             (bet. Pine and Prince Arthur).
                             MONTREAL  $6 at the door.

*Saturday. May 2  day time. BookCity.

Bloor West  Village,
                              2354 Bloor St West.                                    TORONTO
                         More details to follow.

[Weds. May 12th   TORONTO  Private home celebration of friendship and the book] .  

*Tues. June 2      7:30 p.m. McNally Robinson,
                             Travel Alcove, Grant Park,
                             1120 Grant Avenue

*Thurs. June 4     7 pm. McNally Robinson,
                              Travel Alcove, 3130 8th St East

*Sun. Oct 4th       7:30 p.m. Lit Live Reading Series 

                             Hamilton Home Grown

* Public events

When further events are scheduled, I will update and resend the list.

Posted on February 28, 2015 .

Why Would You Join A Writing Group?

There must be at least ten reasons for joining a writing group. So why haven't you done so? Or if you have,  have you taken stock to see if the reasons you joined are being fulfilled?

I can't imagine now that I resisted such a 'call' for so long, but am glad I finally took the plunge. Read on to find out why it was such an important step for me and why it could be for you, too.

1. Unbiased critique of my work. Funny how people I know want to read what I have written and they usually tell me that they like it. However, they don't tell me why. I guess it is difficult to articulate. So if they don't like it, they night say nothing. Whereas my colleagues in the 3 (yes 3 now) writing groups I belong to don't hesitate to critique the work because that's why we all joined these groups. This feedback can, and usually does, help us move to the next stage in our short story, novel or...

2. Colleagues who understand the difficulties not only of writing, but also of finding a publisher, using social media to create a platform, using websites and social media to promote our books. All of this is difficult and the information shared when we meet is invaluable. As is the support offered around all of this.
3, Social life. We often go out to a pub after two of the groups. The third is small and we take the first and last parts of our time to chat over the spectrum.
4. Suggestions of places to submit.
5. Suggestions of places to promote and present our work.
6. Sharing industry gossip.

This is just scraping the surface, so please add your comments below if you have other suggestions. These will benefit others, but also me.  And many thanks.
Posted on February 22, 2015 .

Silent Auction Prize: Salsa Lesson and Dinner with...CBC Lula Lounge

In December, the CBC raised funds for the Food Bank at Sounds of the Season, a day of programming with special guest artist appearances, when donations were accepted and there was also a silent auction. I was one of the 'winners' in the auction in Toronto of a package that included dinner and a salsa lesson and dancing hosted by Mary Ito of Fresh Air and David Chilton of Dragon's Den. There were six of us who enjoyed the evening at Lula Lounge with our two
gracious hosts. It was great fun. All in a good cause!
Posted on February 11, 2015 .

Would I Lie To You? News!

For those of you who prefer reading on your tablet or e-reader, my most recent novel, Would I Lie To You?, is now available in e-book format and can be purchased from various outlets...;, etc.

I expect the novel will be available as an e-book download through libraries also very soon. My first two books have been available in e-book format for a while now.

Posted on February 1, 2015 .

Life Of A Writer. What's In A Name?

Yes, what's in a name? In this case, the name for a character. Just think, the writer needs to remember the names of the characters in his/her novel. Especially that of the main character, wouldn't you say!

Well, I wrote a mystery that is now complete and is in the circuit, looking for an agent and a publisher. While in progress, people would ask what the name of the detective was. I would tell them and then come home to find I had given the wrong name. So I would change it to something I was sure to remember. Then I would forget again. Finally I decided to give this man, yes the detective in my feminist mystery is a man, my maiden name.

So when the book breaks the surface and you read it, this detective's name is Jack Cosser. It was a friend who convinced me to change the first name from Alistair or Simon to Jack. So, eventually I did. At the same time the other cop became Simon.

At the moment, the title of the mystery is The White Ribbon Man. And the main character is Jack Cosser. Jack Cosser is the main character's name!
Posted on January 25, 2015 .

Life of a Writer. 2015 Readings

I am delighted that I will be reading from my new novel in Montreal in mid April at Paragrahe Bookstore (April 15) and at the Yellow Door Reading Series (April 16th). 

Also in Winnipeg at McNally Robinson Booksellers on June 2d. 
In Chatham in the spring, date yet to be determined.
In Hamilton in the LitLive Series on October 4th.

In Toronto/Oshawa a book club has invited me to a meeting on March 10th. 

A signing is upcoming at the Manulife Centre, date yet to be pinned down.

Other possibilities will arise and I will circulate them in the New Year. Just wanted to give a heads up to everyone now!

Posted on December 23, 2014 .


A RANT (of sorts):

What is your process? Someone always asks this question of authors says the host, Antanas Sileika, informing the audience that the question someone has just asked is also on his list. If he had had time to get to it before turning the floor over to questions, he undoubtedly would have. As it was, there was a varied array of responses from the panelists. This led me to ponder about my own process that has varied so much at different times in my life.            
            Why did I bake an apple pie in the middle of the night recently? Maybe because in doing so I would realize the children’s story I had felt compelled to write of late would hinge on such a pie. Somehow any story I conjure up about a mining town with a gold mine in it has a cookery where the underground miners eat stews and pies and whatever else Sam cooks for them. Yes, the real Sam all those years ago when I was a child in a northern mining community baked pies that melt in my mouth at the thought of them even now, decades later.
            My process? At the moment, I am writing on the back of an envelope on the subway going from Union Station north on the University line. I will type from this onto my computer when I arrive home, after I have eaten something and looked at an odd email from a woman I scarcely know. I rode first on a street car that took me from IFOA (International Festival of Authors) at Harbourfront and the session hosted by Antanas Sileika in the Studio Theatre to Union Station.
I could have answered the questions. I went to hear others, but also wonder why I don’t get invited to forums to answer some of what was posed to these authors. What is the tipping point that recognizes I, too, belong in such a context? Of course, I did get to answer some of them at the recent launch of my third book, but at IFOA I am still invisible. One of the writers talks about being influenced by an author who had her first book published at 62. The implication is that this is amazing. I didn’t really expect anyone to jump up and down when my first book, a collection of short stories, was published when I was 70. And no one did.  It could have been regarded by some as a ‘flash in the pan.’ It did receive a good review in the ‘Globe and Mail’ and on this basis was purchased by the Toronto library system. Some good things did happen. Now here I am at book #3, published in the year I turned 77. I am not sure what I expect, but it almost seems the ‘tipping point’ is still just out there beyond my grasp. One man said, “So you’re a serial writer now.” Yes, I am. I no longer feel like a fraud, but it seems in the wider world of writers, I am still invisible. All the same, if I manage to live longer in reasonable health, there will be more books and that is what I set out to accomplish!
In the session I attended today at IFOA, one question posed to the writers asked for a comment on what they would say now to a young writer, to their younger selves, someone beginning at whatever age, to help them. Karen Connelly, Nino Ricci, Wayson Choy, Kevin Barry and Valerie Martin. What a variety of responses.
What would I say? Why did I make an apple pie in the middle of the night? Two of the five spoke of starting their writing day without waking up entirely to the outside world in an attempt to stay close to the dream state “where the best writing happens.”
What is there to say about someone as old as I am who may even miss the dream state when I wake up so often at two or three in the morning and grasp at a story floating by, trying in the attempt to quell the anxiety of the night. A time when there are no answers to the pressing questions of mortality, to how quickly the remaining time, however long that is, is shrinking.
So, I make an apple pie. The first one isn’t perfect, not like the ones Sam baked in the cookery at the mine. It seems important to get it right because Sam has turned up in a children’s story I have been writing recently about a family who live in a mining town in contemporary time. And among them are some of the characteristics of the family of my childhood. In this story, called “Big and Little,” where the miners go underground, there are two sisters so named by their father. In this tale, Little can hear the men in the tunnels under the earth talking every night as she drifts off to sleep. It is the only time she hears them and it is possible she thinks she is already asleep and dreaming.
I like these thoughts. It clears my mind of everything else, including all thoughts of mortality.
Since the first pie is not perfect, I decide a few days later to bake another. After riffling through a looseleaf binder of collected recipes, I find my grandmother’s for pastry. She was the food editor for the Toronto Telegram for twenty years and her pies were as good as Sam’s. No one else I knew could claim that, except Mina who worked for the manager at the mine. Yes, both my grandmother’s and Mina’s apple pies were excellent.
The second pie is better. The pastry is flaky. The filling is spiced perfectly with ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It is a lot easier to outline the process for making pie than that of writing, although I do know what mine is. It is erratic and requires me to write only an hour a day (often it turns into a much longer period of time) at any time during that day. It may turn out to be a lot longer, but it does not have to be. I have followed this regime ever since I retired over ten years ago from working at the Assaulted Women’s Helpline. I may not be asked to talk about writing fiction, but I was recently asked to speak along with two colleagues about violence against women.  I can still do that, though by now I know a lot more about writing fiction than I do about responding to crisis calls. Maybe that is not true, maybe that kind of ability one never loses. But aside from isolated presentations, my days as a counsellor are over. I write fiction and in this hour every day, done consistently day after day, sentences and passages begin to cumulate and stories and books actually emerge. But I can’t tell anyone how to write, only offer some comments here and there and wish them all the best. And tell them most of all to follow their hearts. Encourage them to get going after they have their fill of IFOA. That’s what it takes in the end, to face the screen or page on my own and overcome the isolation and create my own world of stories. As it turns out, I can’t tell anyone much about how to write, but if you want the recipe for apple pie, just ask me!

Posted on October 29, 2014 .

Book Launch. Would I Lie To You. October 9, 2014

The launch took place at The Supermarket in Kensington Market in Toronto, Ontario. It was a most exciting evening with a stellar turnout. The books of two Inanna authors were launched, Mary Lou Dickinson (moi) and Loren Edizel.


Preparing for the launch. Daughter took photo and you can see her in the mirror.
Mary Lou Dickinson at the microphone reading from her new novel
The Audience.

Mary Lou Dickinson & Loren Edizel. Q&A


Two Inanna Authors. Dickinson and Edizel. Q&A


Posted on October 12, 2014 .

Sigma Mine, Bourlamaque, Quebec. 1940s or 1950s.

This is the mine where my father worked from 1935 to 1962. It no longer exists in this configuration. It all disappeared when the mine became an open pit operation many years later. Even the highway from Val d'Or to Montreal was moved. Gold motivates decisions, not town planning! That head frame was designed by my father as was the hoist. Memories!

I have posted this because the most popular post on my blog has been one on Sigma. Perhaps those people will find a photo of the actual buildings on surface in the early days of interest!
Posted on September 24, 2014 .