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 .

Moosemeat Writing Group Annual Chapbook Readings: June 2, 2017.

Moosemeat Writing Group annual chapbook launch, will occur on June 2d, Friday from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at The Supermarket at 268 Augusta Ave.,Toronto

This event has become a tradition for the Moosemeat Writers. The 14th year of the chapbook! Always a celebratory event and fun for attendants as well with short readings by the writers who have items in the chapbook. And prizes for those who come out and answer trivia questions!!! Chapbooks are for sale at a low and affordable price. I think it is $2.

Come on out and join us. I will be there. And I will be one of the readers.

Image may contain: one or more people and text

Posted on May 29, 2017 .

The Writers' Life. Toronto Events. Spring 2017

If you are in Toronto, please note you are invited to my appearance on May 10th at the Brockton Writers Series (BWS) along with Ayesha Chatterjee, Ian Keteku, Gregory Scofield and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen. The Brockton Writers Series event is on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 6:30 the new home of the BWS, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, (PWYC). If you are not in the area, I thought you would be interested in this event as an update to what I am doing these days.

I did a talk about my writing for the Friendship Force Toronto Club recently as well as reading and speaking  at the Rowers Reading Series and a Toronto book club in the winter. If you have been a follower of the Moosemeat Writing Group annual chapbook launch, or if you are interested in coming out to it, that event will occur on June 2d, Friday from 5:30 - 8:30 The Supermarket at 268 Augusta Ave.,Toronto

And...on a personal note, a new granddaughter was born to Therese and Phil in Montreal on April 23rd and joins my two grandsons, Max (Andrea & Mark) and Maurice (Phil & Therese).

Daniel Perry writes (on the BWS blog): Mary Lou shared a sample from an unpublished memoir ahead of her May 10 visit to Brockton Writers Series. Enjoy!

Excerpt from a chapter titled “Graveyard Shift”

 The mine was twenty miles from town and on the graveyard shift, the bus driver picked me up on the highway near our house and dropped me off on desolate mine property at close to midnight along with all the men who worked underground.

On the first day, I was introduced to Alice, an older woman who would train me. She spoke no English so my facility in French improved quickly. Before the end of the summer, I had started to dream in French most of the time.

On two of the shifts, I often worked with women other than Alice who spoke openly about their lives. They were not much older than me, but they were either involved with boyfriends or married and their conversation was quite lurid, replete with the kinds of jokes and descriptions that most people imagine happen only in men’s locker rooms. I soon learned that women  could also be  crude in their discourse, telling their own off colour jokes, competing over the length of their partners’ penises, using  words like ‘cock’ to  describe them.

“You ought to see it,” one woman was fond of saying in quite a loud voice. “Must be 7 or 8 inches. Never saw anything like it before.”

They exuded pride, a significant sniff with head thrown back, if they could give a measurement larger than the colleague who had just spoken.

At first I was not sure what they were talking about, but I was not going to let anyone know that. Or I did know really, but had never experienced what they were describing and did not have a clear idea of what such a cock would look or feel like, not like the little dinkies I saw in the younger boys like my brother, running to the bathroom trying to hide their private parts.

At the assay lab, I also learned some useful things about mining from testing the samples and even knew the value of what was being dug out under the surface.  In the days and evenings, I always worked with others, probably because there was more work to do then. On the graveyard shift, from midnight to eight in the morning, I was alone. And I was aware that anyone could break into the small building across from the mill on this isolated mine property and attack me. It took a while to stop jumping nervously when I heard any sound. But the only man who ever came to the door that I locked from the inside during those long nights knocked first with a sound that I soon learned to recognize. He always arrived at the same times, twice during each shift. As soon as I opened the door, he greeted me.
Bonjour,” he usually said before handing over small brown paper bags that contained the samples I was to process.
As soon as he left, I weighed out tiny quantities from each bag on an old scale with a pan on one side and the weights to be adjusted on the other and put them into separate beakers. There were precise amounts required, as well as certain acids to test for lead, zinc and copper.
Posted on April 21, 2017 .

Life of a Writer. An Update. Point of View. POV. March 2017

As I prepare for the publication of my next book, a mystery with the title THE WHITE RIBBON MAN (2018), I have been writing short stories. These stories are primarily from the first person point of view, although they are fiction. It is a challenge for me to write from this POV, but I am having fun doing so. Usually when I try it, people in my writing groups suggest that the third person might work better. In many cases, it has done so and I have followed their suggestions. This time I am determined to leave the series I am working on in the POV I have chosen for it, so it will be interesting to see what my colleagues have to say.

One piece was critiqued a couple of weeks ago in my small writing group of women with at least two books each. They actually liked it and never suggested a different POV, but made helpful suggestions to improve it as it was presented. It will be interested to see what the other group thinks of the next story in this series. A group composed of a different demographic, but just as interesting and helpful with their critiques. I don't usually submit the same work to both groups, but I have when I think the feedback might be different and helpful for that reason.

I have been reading short stories again as a prelude to this period of writing. I particularly liked Norman Levine many years ago and went back to his work to see what I thought. Far more complex than I remembered, but still about rather ordinary people in rather ordinary circumstances, if not entirely ordinary nonetheless times and experiences of many people in the days written about. I liked the stories just as much on a later reading! Other writers as well, ones I may mention later in another post. Or not!
Posted on March 6, 2017 .


Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone who happens to drop by. I hope your year has been meaningful and healthy and that the challenges in 2017 you will be able to manage. I look forward to another interesting year and hope that it will include time with grandchildren (the two boys who live in different places, one in Montreal and the other in Blenheim - below), a bit of travel and completion of some more writing projects.  At the moment, a mystery is scheduled to come out in 2018 and I have just submitted a memoir.
Maurice's drawings.


Max and Grammaloutoo
Posted on December 22, 2016 .




24 November 2016

A series of author readings and presentations of books, plays, and poetry

Presented as part of the year-round Programs for 50+ Lecture Series

Date: Friday, December 2, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Location: Ryerson University
Admission is free
Register now:

Join us for a special Literary Talks session as we discuss novels written by two of our very own LIFE Institute members, Kenneth Smookler and Mary Lou Dickinson.

Farr and Beyond: Lawyers for the Otherworldly*

Kenneth Smookler's first book, Farr and Beyond: Lawyers for the Otherworldly, is a wonderfully inventive comic fantasy that applies Ken's knowledge of the law to our most familiar and beloved tales with hilarious results. When Jack chopped down the beanstalk, where might it have landed and could issues of negligence be involved?  Might Captain Hook have had a legal case against Peter Pan for the loss of his hand in their duel?

Kenneth Smookler, Q.C. has practiced law at every level of court, from Magistrate's Court and Small Claims up to the Supreme Court of Canada, written for varied periodicals, and lectured for many decades.  But now Ken has moved on in an exciting new direction as a writer.

Would I Lie to You?*
Mary Lou Dickinson's latest novel Would I Lie to You, is an authentic and moving story that explores the reality of family secrets -- huge issues that are kept quiet under the veneer of polite society and that affect the individuals and families involved for generations.  The novel also raises the question of who is family and how do we create one.

Mary Lou Dickinson studied Arts at McGill University and Library Sciences at the University of Toronto.  She has participated in many workshops and residencies in creative writing and has been a member of the Moosemeat Writers Group since 2005.  Her fiction has been published in the University of Windsor Review, Descant, Waves, Grain, Northern Journey, Impulse, and Writ.

*Available for purchase at event.

Part of the year-round 50+ Lecture Series presented by Programs for 50+ at
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education
For more information contact:
Mena Carravetta
Tel: 416.979.5000 x3850

 The LIFE Institute - 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5B 2K3
telephone: 416.979.5000, ext. 6989     web:
Ryerson Chang School logo

Posted on November 24, 2016 .

An Evening with Author Mary Lou Dickinson. Oct. 25, 2016

An Evening of Secrets and Revelations with Author Mary Lou Dickinson

Tue Oct 25, 2016
7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
60 mins
Join author Mary Lou Dickinson as she reads from her novel "Would I Lie to You?" and discusses her writing process. "Would I Lie to You?" explores the reality of family secrets hidden under the veneer of polite society that can affect families for generations. Who is a family and how do we create one?

Copies of the book will be available for sale.

Posted on September 15, 2016 .

Summer Time on a Northern Lake. Reflections.

Summer is in the throes of passing.Too soon over! It is hot in the city now. It is humid. But to complain is to wish for winter. And I do not really want to experience ice, wind and cold weather yet for quite a while. Although it was not always true, I like summer. The thought of reflecting while feeling the wind blow through my hair as I sit on the edge of a northern lake seems to open as well the possibility of imagining characters and stories that fuel my writing.

Tell me what content you want to find on this blog.  I may meander through my own thoughts and miss telling you something you want to know. Or read about. Are there aspects of writing you are curious about? Are there things about writing you would like to ask? Let me know!
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Please leave your comments below. I appreciate feedback. Indeed, you do me a favour when you let me know what you think, hopefully as well giving me ideas for what to write about here. Sometimes you are the source of such ideas. Really!

Posted on August 12, 2016 .

Life of a Writer: Branding!

I have been struggling for some time with Branding. It is a foreign  concept in my world, but so necessary if fiction is to stand out at all. So I have been playing with it as well as struggling. Life is supposed to be fun as well as a struggle, is it not!
Here is a first attempt. I am more than happy to receive your comments. I need all the help I can get to spread the word and will appreciate any feedback you care to give!

Dickinson enlightens her readers with compassion for and understanding of the human condition. She understands the deeply felt emotions of people longing for communication and connection as they deal with both small and huge problems.  As a former crisis counselor, she uses her experience to create fiction in her novels “Would I Lie To You?” and “Ile d’Or” that is authentic and moving. Through Dickinson’s characters, we understand their difficulties and embrace the possibilities and potential for change in our lives as well as in theirs. Dickinson loves having fun, too, and in spite of approaching a venerable age many consider the twilight zone is often seen on the dance floor cutting some amazing figures in ballroom, Latin and swing!

Note from my website:
The author's fiction has been published in the University of Windsor Review, Descant, Waves, Grain, Northern Journey, Impulse, Writ and broadcast on CBC Radio. Her writing was also included in the anthology, We Who Can Fly: Poems, Essays and Memories in Honour of Adele Wiseman. Inanna published a book of Dickinson's short stories, One Day It Happens,  in 2007, and her first novel, Ile d'Or, in 2010. Her latest novel, Would I Lie to You?, launched in October 2014. A mystery, The White Ribbon Man, has been accepted for publication in early 2018.
Posted on July 4, 2016 .

Always Looking For The Most Interesting Hat For A Writer.

And Doesn't This One Make Me Look Interesting? Ah well, beg as I would, cajole, plead my nephew-in-law was glad to loan it to me at the back yard birthday party where we gathered in Oak Bank, near Winnipeg, to celebrate Diane's 75th. The hat was certainly a conversation piece and a hit for the day and it shielded me from the sun. But no amount of entreaty would convince him to let me bring it home. When I realized what a special hat it was for him, too, as he had bought it on a family trip to Death Valley in the US and it looks good on him also, I stopped begging. I made sure I had photos though, so I could use them for occasions. Such as this post. And who knows what else?
Posted on June 25, 2016 .


Sometimes it takes a while to establish a routine. And then it happens! In the first photo, the reading glasses I spend precious time looking for. The second captures a mood that helps me to write. The third, an attitude that helps also.

Posted on June 7, 2016 .

Belgium Visit! May, 2016

Napoleon. 1815
These three photos capture some of the memorable moments of my trip to Belgium a month ago where I traveled with Friendship Force, Toronto and stayed with people who belong to FF Leuven and FF Belgian Coast in Belgium. It was a privilege and a pleasure to live in the homes of Belgians and to see the country through their eyes. It made for a very rich experience of their country. I have had individual experiences during my travels when I have seen beyond the tourist sights with people I have met, but this experience was different in that the whole visit was like that.

I can't access all my photos, so have chosen these three as reminiscent of very notable moments. Flanders Fields has strong resonance for Canadians as here our country joined in battle in World War I. Ypres and Passchendaele, two sites where Canadians fought. Also it was very moving for me to go to the fields of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) as one of my ancestors was here on the British side. Our family still have artifacts of his. Indeed, my sister has his pistols, shaving kit, journals and a musket ball that caused him injury.
Being there did not lessen my desire to end all war, but when one sees tiny Belgium and understands how it, along with other parts of Europe, were overrun, one knows why our military became  a presence there.
In Flanders Fields

Belgian Waffle

 And then, of course, there were the ubiquitous Belgian Waffles.Some of them were laden down with toppings, but my favourite was a plain waffle dusted with sugar with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Yummy. And I suppose that sounds like lots of toppings, but if you have ever been in Bruges or Brussels and have seen the waffles sold on tourist streets, you know my choice was somewhat Spartan. My host in Leuven liked the waffles with just a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Posted on June 6, 2016 .