Upcoming Event. Brockton Writing Series. Toronto. May 10th. 6:30 p.m.

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 p.m.in 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 p.m.at The Supermarket at 268 Augusta Ave.,Toronto

And...on a personal note, a new grandchild is imminent and will join my two grandsons, Max (Andrea) and Maurice (Phil) in early May..


Daniel Perry writes (on the BWS blog): Mary Lou shared a sample from an unpublished memoir ahead of her May 10 visit to Brockton Writers Series.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

Posted on April 21, 2017 .

Belgium. Spring 2016

A month ago I traveled with Friendship Force, Toronto to Belgium and stayed with people who belong to FF Leuven and FF Belgian Coast in that country. 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.

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 there on the British side. Our family still has 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.

 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 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 15, 2016 .

Ile d'Or: Review


The actual date of the review is in 2016


Une ville dure sous la surface

// Francesca Benedict - 1 oct. 2011

Numéro : Octobre 2011

Pour cette vingt-et-unième chronique, j’ai choisi de vous présenter une auteure anglophone de la région. Mary Lou Dickinson a grandi à Bourlamaque parmi les familles de mineurs. Elle vit aujourd’hui à Toronto, mais elle a gardé ses liens avec la communauté valdorienne. Avec ce roman, elle signe sa deuxième publication. Son premier titre, One Day It Happens, paru en 2007, rassemble des nouvelles dont certaines déjà exprimaient l’empreinte de cette appartenance.

Quatre personnages se croisent après de longues années. Lucien est resté, Michelle est revenue s’installer depuis un certain temps, Nick et Libby vivent à Toronto et sont en visite. Ils se sont connus jeunes, alors qu’ils grandissaient dans Bourlamaque et ils sont tous rattachés les uns aux autres par Marcel, un enfant qui évolue dans des conditions aussi dures que celles qu’ils ont connues.

Essentiellement, l’auteure raconte la vie de gens qui ont grandi ensemble et qui aujourd’hui doivent composer avec leur passé autant qu’avec leur présent. Elle présente des personnes dans la quarantaine qui traversent les deuils et les bilans occasionnés par les hauts et les bas du quotidien. À cela s’ajoutent les amitiés, les amours, les rêves et les déceptions, opposant la fragilité de la condition humaine à la dure réalité de la vie dans une ville minière – la phrase « It’s a tough town under the surface » revient à quelques reprises, et semble faire autant référence aux gens qu’à la roche. En reflétant les nombreuses divisions de l’époque entre catholiques et protestants ainsi qu’entre francophones et anglophones, le passé révèle la profondeur des déchirures provoquées par le contexte politique et social des années 50.

L’auteure rebâtit la vie des personnages en les laissant raconter leurs propres souvenirs, auxquels elle entremêle le point de vue et les souvenirs des autres personnages ; ce procédé permet d’avoir en même temps une perspective intérieure et extérieure, ce qui traduit bien la complexité de la situation socio-économique entre patrons et mineurs ainsi que le lourd héritage historique et linguistique.

Pour la génération qui a connu le passé de Val-d’Or, les références rendent facile la reconnaissance des lieux et de l’ambiance de cette époque. L’histoire correspond aux histoires qui circulent sur les premières décennies de Val-d’Or. L’intérêt du livre repose aussi sur le fait que Mary Lou Dickinson a su saisir le rythme, le souffle de la ville d’aujourd’hui. \\

Posted on April 16, 2016 .

Brussels Airport Opens On April 3, 2016

April 3, 2016. Three flights out of Brussels airport today. Like the rest of the world, I am watching to see how long it takes to recover from the dastardly terrorist attack that happened there two weeks ago. As I also wonder about another attack in Pakistan. But I have a special interest in Brussels because I have a ticket on Brussels Air to arrive there in the middle of April. Will enough flights be restored by then for mine to take off from Toronto and land in Belgium? I hope so as I still intend to go as part of a Friendship Force Toronto Outbound to stay with the hosts of two clubs in Belgium. One in Leuven, the other in the Belgian Coast area. A new experience for me! I have not traveled with this international club before and am very interested in seeing a country through the eyes of people who live there, from the insider's eyes.

Not much more to say for now. I will watch the daily reports on the status of flights and at some point soon check on the status of mine.






Posted on April 9, 2016 .



 As I work with one of my writing groups on my memoir, Restless, I am drawn back to the place and time where I spent the early years of my life. Years away now and another era entirely. Once upon a time, I thought of it as a novel entitled Frontier Days. That novel later became, Ile d'Or, and it was published fnally in 2010, and was my second published book.That proved to me that dreams are worth following and that the long, circuitous journey of my life had been worth following. Not that there was much choice. When I look back on the journey, I did make choices, but the passion for writing never disappeared. And aside from my family as an ongoing priority, nothing else could ever dislodge it. I am grateful to have lived long enough to see dreams realized - the late arrival of wonderful grandsons and the excitement of published books!


My Books:

One Day it Happens (short stories) 2007

Ile d'Or (Novel) 2010

Would I Lie To You? (Novel) 2014

The White Ribbon Man (Mystery) scheduled for2018

Publisher: Inanna Publications



Children's stories for ages 3 to 7

Big and Little

Bow Wow the Elephant


The New Baby


Posted on March 30, 2016 .



The good news is anotherbook has been accepted for publication. I finally completed a mystery, The White Ribbon Man, which will be published by Inanna Publications, the press that has done my three books thus far. You will have to wait a whileto read it as publication is not scheduled until Spring 2018. There is the possibility that it will get moved to the fall of 2017, so whileI am hopeful that will happen I am not holding my breath. For the publisher, this timeline is an indication of a vital and full program, whereas it is harder for the author who has to wait to experience the satisfaction of holding and sharing the actual book. Nonetheless, it is good to know that Inanna, a feminist press, is now such a well established and respected press.

Also, I now have two thriving grandsons. One in southwestern Ontario is interested in business and Japan and is about to launch out on a university program in the fall. The other, in Montreal, will be 2 in April and is learning to talk in both English and German. French will come later! They both arejoys to have in my life. I value my far flung family and my friends most of all, although the passion for my writing and learning new thingssure takes up a lot of time! All of these ... family, friends and writing as well as dancing and travel and art and culture have given these "retirement" years meaning and purpose beyond expectations and I am grateful.

There is a possibility that my sister and brother-in-law will move from the west to Toronto in 2016 to be closer to their children and grandchildren. And friends in Toronto who are alsoselling their house this year might in the course of their search find an apartmentcloser to me. On both counts, fingers crossed!

The purpose for starting these newsletters was to update you on book and writing developments. But 😀 I suspect 😉 the tidbits around other aspects of life interest many of you just as much. And yes, I do get asked about my travels. I have decisions to make soon about that, depending on both money and time and, of course, health .You may find out what destination/s rise to the top in my next newsletter.

Happy dancing! Happy travels! Whatever you do, enjoy the journey.  Enjoy life.

With all good wishes for your health and happiness in 2016.


Posted on January 14, 2016 .

Coast to coast in the Summer of 2015

Coast to Coast in the Summer of 2015

                                    September4th, 2015

Hello Friends and Colleagues: 

A summer bookmarked by the St. Lawrence River as it becomes wider near Riviere de Loup and English Bay in Vancouver was indeed a good one. It began with the Jazz Festival in Montreal before visiting a friend on the St. Lawrence, a quick trip into Quebec City en route home to Toronto and ended with a West coast family visit. (In the spring, this was preceded by readings in Montreal, Winnipeg and Saskatoon).


On a lovely summer evening in the middle days of July, my friend, Ruby, held a party in Toronto to celebrate my latest book. It was such a treat in itself as well as coinciding with the visit of American friends. So Clare and Jack were also able to be there. People mingled, I read from Would I Lie To You? and a recent children's story (Big And Little) and answered questions. It was relaxed and I thoroughly enjoyed it, as according to all reports, did the guests.


It was after that I came down with pneumonia and spent most of the next four weeks sleeping. I did not expect to make it to Vancouver at all and in fairness to a library where I was going to read, I cancelled the occasion. At the last minute, I found I could fly, but it would have been too soon for a public appearance. Indeed the fatigue lessened very slowly and I paced myself carefully for quite a while. Still, it was a good summer!


Upcoming in Fall 2015:

Oct. 4th. 7:30 pm. Lit Live. Reading. Hamilton, ON (Please come out if you are in the Hamilton area!) 

Oct/Nov. possible. Chatham, ON. Talk and read! 

Nov. 16. Toronto, ON. Book Club Speech and Discussion.


And on it goes! Although at this stage I am able to begin to give more attention to the writing itself again! Happy Days!

I hope your summer was both healthy and enjoyable!

Mary Lou

Thursday, August 20, 2015

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 by Mary Lou Dickinson at 10:16 PM No comments: Links to this post ShareThis

Friday, June 19, 2015





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 by Mary Lou Dickinson at 3:05 PM No comments: Links to this post ShareThis

Monday, June 8, 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 by Mary Lou Dickinson at 5:54 PM No comments: Links to this post ShareThis

Thursday, May 28, 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 by Mary Lou Dickinson at 11:10 PM No comments: Links to this post ShareThis

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

"Would I Lie To You?", my third book, a novel, was launched in October, 2014 by Inanna Publications. "Ile d'Or" my second book, a novel, was published by Inanna in 2010 and a collection of short stories, "One Day It Happened" by the same publisher in 2007. You may order my books through the publisher, in bookstores or at www.alllitup.ca

Posted on September 22, 2015 .

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 .

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 $$$

Postscript: As it happens, I did not win or get onto the short list, but it was a great experience and an honour to have my fiction reach the long list. 

Posted on May 15, 2015 .

Upcoming Events. 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: marylou.dickinson@gmail.com.


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     Tor
onto. 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 TORONTO 2354 Bloor St West.      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. HAMILTON


  * Public events

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

Posted on March 1, 2015 .

Silent Auction Prize: Salsa Lesson and Dinner with...CBC Hosts...at 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 .

E-book now available for latest novel, Would I Lie To You

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...

www.indigo.ca; www.amazon.ca, etc.


I expect the novel will also be available as an e-book download through libraries very soon. My first two books, One Day It Happens and Ile d'Or, have been available in e-book format for a while now.

Posted on February 1, 2015 .

A RANT! On writing! Or on baking an apple pie...

A RANT (of sorts):


What is your process? Someone always asks this question 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 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 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 .

Tagged on FB by prolific, exciting author Lisa Nikolits to write about my writing process:

I've been tagged by the exciting and prolific author Lisa Nikolits to write about  my writing process:

• What am I working on?    

At the moment, I am editing my third book with the wonderful editor of Inanna Publications, Luciana Ricciutelli. A novel,

Would I Lie To You?, it

will be launched on October 9


in Toronto. I have also recently completed a mystery novel. When I have time in the midst of editing, sending out invites for the launch, figuring out how to use my website and the Mailchimp program, I am working on a memoir called ‘


When I am asked how long it took to write the three books that will have been published by October, I wince. All were underway before I retired in 2002, when my goal in my retirement was to see that I actually finally got my books published. (Collection of short stories,

One Day It Happens

2007; Novel,

Ile d’Or 2010).

I also occasionally work on another collection of short stories.

• How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I do not write one specific genre, although I began with short story and novel writing. Mysteries were not in my future, nor was a memoir. But when given an idea for a mystery, I set out to learn how to do that by reading endless mysteries recommended by avid aficionados of the form and review recommendations. The memoir began to unfold when at Banff many years ago I found a manuscript written by a maternal ancestor, who had discovered the Banff Springs, about discoveries in the west during the construction of the CPR railroad. Again I have read endless other memoirs. How does my work differ from others in these genres? I find it difficult to say, but I suspect that my focus to some extent on social justice and that I am a feminist infuse my work. Not that this is not also true of the work of others, just that it always underlies my concerns. I am told that my voice is straightforward and gentle, authentic and honest. I would like to believe that.

Why do I write what I do?

What choice does a writer or an artist have? Some theme or character or situation takes up residence in my psyche and demands that I deal with it. Once I have a story or book finished, I have new members in my family in the form of characters who have become so familiar that they are friends for the duration. And if I disagree with them, they exhort me with the fact that I have created them so I had better pay attention.

I write because it is apparently a call, or so a nun on a bus traveling along the St. Lawrence River many years ago told me. A gentle voice, hopefully, that conveys stories, but also appears to listen and validate the experience of readers. I used to think I wrote to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable, but I don’t think that any more. I just write what I write because the words are what come to me and the circumstances are those that demand to be told. I used also to think that writing is a crazy way to stay sane and that may be what it is for me… my handle on sanity. Creativity as the saving grace in a troubled world. Or something! And hopefully the writing also conveys some level of healing to others.

I also write to understand the world, to figure out what I am thinking, to create a record, to have fun. . It is satisfying to write a good sentence. I hope to be remembered for at least one memorable sentence!

How does my writing process work?

I have been writing since I was 7 and my first book was published when I was 70. This might suggest a very slow process! What can I say! It took a long time and the explanation would be a book in itself. Maybe the memoir I am working on will explain it for me.

Rarely am I facing the blank page (screen) any more, but rather starting with material that needs revision. If you consider that revision might be as much as 90 % of the writers’ work, this seems realistic rather than pathetic. If something simply won’t work, I switch to something else. This is a far cry from the early days when each piece was new and the blank page was an unending terror. Persistence has it’s benefits, I guess, because I often have more material now than I can deal with.

Sometimes the material I am working on is new. Then I am apt to become a dinosaur and find myself writing in longhand in the middle of the night. Once I have entered this into Word, I work with the computer. I recall the days when I had to retype hundreds of pages when I shifted material around. I remember the days of white out. And am eternally grateful for my computer.

I have, for the last ten years, worked with a writing group (Moosemeat) and the critique that has led to has been very beneficial.

I often wonder why I waited so long to see the value of such an environment.

In the last year, I started working with another, smaller, group as well.

I am submitting my memoir to this group, chapter by chapter. The other writers have books published and as well as being good writers who submit segments of their work, they offer very helpful critique.

I don’t have a consistent schedule for work. I have worked in various ways at different times, depending on the circumstances. When my children were in their teens and I took a sabbatical from a job to write, I wrote five days a week during their hours at school. When they left home and I went back to the employment world, I wrote on Mondays (and weekends). Now that I am retired from all of that, I try to enjoy being retired (whatever that is) as well as put in a modest amount of writing a day (it becomes cumulative after a while) and don’t worry about how much that is unless I find that I am procrastinating rather than enjoying the rest of my life.

Posted on September 3, 2014 .

At the Aquarium. Toronto. August, 2014

Visited the new Aquarium today with my grandson. The prices were for Adults, Youth (up to 13) Seniors, Children. How to figure out what to ask for was a dilemma. My grandson figures he is a middle aged teenager. Certainly not an adult. So when I got to the ticket seller I asked for one senior ticket and one ticket for a grandson. The young woman looked us over and saved us $10 by selling us a senior ticket and a youth ticket. And as m grandson said, "No one told any lies." Anyway, it is a splendid aquarium with so much to enjoy and learn. Both of us enjoyed it!

Posted on August 30, 2014 .

A New Novel... Coming Soon to a bookstore or library near you!!

You are invited to the launch of my new novel, Would I Lie To You? at The Supermarket,   268 Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market, Toronto on  Thursday, Oct. 9th  at 6 p.m. Mark the date on your calendar.

If you don't live in Toronto, but know people would like to have me read in your town/city, that can be arranged. There is also Skype, of course!


Would I Lie to You? is a novel about secrets, secrets that even loving couples have been known to keep from each other. After ten years of marriage, Sue and Jerry each harbours a significant secret. In this novel, the son our protagonist didn’t know her husband had and the daughter she had when she was sixteen and never saw. 

When Jerry becomes ill and it’s apparent he’s dying, Sue visits a psychic, Hans, who tells her there is someone like a son in her life... and...


The novel confronts what happened when pregnancies were kept secret many years ago, what happens when mother and birth child look for and either find, or do not find, each other. It also 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 lifetimes, even generations. The novel also raises the question of who is family and how do we create one.


Whether you can make it out to the launch or not, I invite you to read my new book! You are also invited to comment in the comments section of this site. Or you can email me at marylou.dickinson@gmail.com or add a comment to my website at www.maryloudickinson.com  

Please pass the word along. Word of mouth is a powerful way to garner attention for a book!

Posted on July 30, 2014 .