Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016-on-this-blog list

In many ways, 2016 was a unique year. You couldn't call this year 'Ann' or 'Mary'. You'd have to call it 'Pathan' or 'Sarren'. 

Snow on Mayne Island? Honestly? Snow on Mayne Island that lasts more than a couple of days? Really? But it sure does did  look pretty...

(LDyck 2017)

Okay, back on topic. 2016-on-this-blog list.

What did you like about this blog in 2016?

The 6 most popular posts...

1. (205 page views) Book review:  Shimmer by Paula Weston

2. (200 page views) Interview with Maggie de Vries
on being a multi-genre author

3. (174 page views) short story: Sarren's Curse:  part 1

4. (159 page views) workshop review:  Maggie de Vries' workshop

5. (149 page views) book review:  Burn by Paula Weston

6. (127 page views) article:  It's All Good
(127 page views) short story:  Lasting Love

What did I accomplish in 2016?

My skill level and confidence increased thanks to the input of my first readers and the information I gathered at workshops given by 

Maggie de Vries 


Jami Macarty

and from books such as Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

For example, from Writing Picture Books, I learned to write short stories from the child's perceptive, that captures the reader's attention from the first paragraph.

My author journey is not always smooth. I get my fair share of rejection letters. Reading books such as Big Magic:  Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert helped me maintain a positive attitude.
If destiny didn't want me to be a writer, I figure then it shouldn't have made me one. But it did make me one, and I've decided to meet that destiny with as much good cheer and as little drama as I can--because how I choose to handle myself as a writer is entirely my own choice... My ultimate to always approach my work from a place of stubborn gladness. -Elizabeth Gilbert

But the star of my writing year was Bim...

Dear Reader,

Thank you for spending this year with me. Wishing you a cozy holiday. Looking forward to visiting with you in 2017.

Next post

Published on Sunday, January 1st (New Year's day) at approximately 5 PM PST
2017 a year of possibilities
A post that answers the question:  What one essential ingredient do make next year what could and should be?

Picture Books in Canada

The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers (a program on Canada's public radio station) makes 15 great book recommendations for young readers--including picture books.

Sharing my author journey...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas with Family (3 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

Based in the UK, Jolabokaflod Book Campaign seeks to support an Icelandic tradition--giving books on Christmas eve.

If you want to support this tradition, why not give the anthology In the Moment:  Real Life Stories of Hope & Inspiration. It's a collection of 27 stories by authors from Canada, the United States, Spain, China, Oman, and Australia. I'm proud that Christmas with Family was included in this fine book. Proceeds donated to Children's Wish. To order In the Moment, please email Gary Doi (

('it snowed again' LDyck Dec 13, 2016)

Summarizing the story so far:  Lead by my desire to celebrate Christmas with family, my husband has ignored the weatherman and BC Ferries' warnings and we are now on Salt Spring Island but... 


Christmas with Family (3 of 3)

“You see we made it,” I said, trying to be cheerful.

Byron fixed me with steel eyes. “The ferry was only half the battle. The other half is that steep hill.” He pointed with his chin.
“But…but you said we would try.”

“Yes, Leanne. I did.” By the way he said my name I knew he'd lost his Christmas cheer.

“You’re a good driver. I have faith in you.”

Byron did try. He cranked his neck to peer out the side window and turned the steering wheel. We started to slide. He cranked his neck the other way to peer out that window. We began to fishtail, he turned the steering wheel and kept us on the road, barely. Then he started the whole neck thing again. He looked like he was watching a tennis match. Over and over again, he tried, but the farthest he got was halfway up the hill.

I closed my eyes and visualized my three brothers pushing us up that hill. “This time you'll make it,” I heard them promise. But they weren't there; Bryon and I were alone. I forced back tears.

Byron yanked the gear shift into park and glared at me. “You got any more brilliant ideas?” He asked after driving backwards over that three-mile steep, curving hill. “We could be safe and warm in our apartment. But no you had to drag us all the way out here. And now… And now… It’s pitch black. We’re stuck in a blizzard. And we don’t know anyone who can help us. Happy?”

No, I wasn't happy. I'd gotten us into this mess; I had to get us out. I typed Susan's number into my cellphone.

“I’d go and get you myself but my Toyota doesn’t like snow. I’m afraid I’d only end up stranded too. Try a tow truck or a taxi?” She gave me the numbers. The tow truck driver’s voice mail message wished me a Merry Christmas. The taxi driver laughed in my ear. Byron was beginning to swear which I had to admit was justified.
Desperate, I phoned Susan again.

“Hitchhike,” she said.


“Ask for a ride. Someone will help you.”

By the tone of her voice, I knew she was serious. She wanted me to ask a complete stranger for help. Clearly, she hadn’t watched those horror movies. I had; I knew what would happen if I followed her advice—Byron and I would end up dead or worse.

What’s that noise? I looked over at Byron. Were his teeth chattering?

I have to do something. Now. But what? We’re a steep hill away from Susan, a hotel, a restaurant—almost everything. I looked across the street. Everything but that grocery store.

Three large trucks with snow tires were parked in front of the store.
“I’ll be right back.” I unclipped my seat belt.

“Wait. Where are you going?”

“To the grocery store.” I opened the door. “I’m going to ask for a ride.”

“What? You can’t. We don’t know any—

I closed the door on the rest of his sentence.

Large sleigh bells jingled as I opened and closed the door. The sound made me think of Christmas angels. I said a silent prayer, “Please, this has to work.”

I surveyed the store—not for groceries—for an angel. A few aisles away a woman was talking with a teenager who I thought must be her daughter. “Please, can you help? My cousin is expecting me for Christmas but my car won’t climb the hill.”

“Of course,” she said, “I'd be happy to.”

Just like that, our problem was solved. She made room in her truck for our luggage, my husband and me. She drove us right to my cousin’s door. There we had a very merry Christmas.

Next post:  Goodbye 2016
Published on Christmas Day (or a few days before) at approximately 5 PM PST this post is about you and me.
You:  what posts did you like the best?
Me:  what did I do ('writerly-wise') in 2016?
Comments, reflections, and... on the year that was.

Picture Books in Canada

Kids Can Press
'the largest Canadian-owned children's publisher'
Picture books 

Submission guidelines


Sharing my author journey...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas with Family (2 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

Christmas is not always merry. If you are--for whatever reason--separated from loved ones, it can be depressing and lonely. But you don't have to be a victim of these feelings. You can save your Christmas. This is a true story of how I--with help--saved mine.

Link to Christmas with Family (1 of 3)

(Snow 12/09/16)

Christmas with Family (2 of 3)

Weeks later, I was at the breakfast table listening to the radio.

“We’re guaranteed to have a white Christmas this year,” the weatherman predicted.

“What does he know? It's all guesswork.”

Byron waved his hand to silence me.

“Tons of snow will make traveling hazardous,” the weatherman concluded.

“I think we should postpone our trip to Salt Spring. Our sports car isn’t equipped for driving up snow-covered hills. We can always visit Susan later when the weather’s better,” Byron said.

“No, we have to…” My voice choked. “It’s Christmas. We need to be with family.”

He patted my hand. “We’ll try.”

Days before it was necessary, I made reservations with the ferry that would take us from the Mainland to Salt Spring. Time trickled by until finally, the day came.

I eased out of bed, crept over to the window, breathed out slowly, crossed my fingers and pushed back the curtains. A light dusting of snow covered the ground. Large, fluffy snowflakes continued to fall. It looks so pretty, just like C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s... No! We have to...

Byron rolled over and faced me. “How's it look?”

I pulled the curtains together. “Fine. Just fine.”

He crawled out of bed and pushed back the curtains. “I think we should phone Susan and cancel.”

“No, we can’t. It’s Christmas. It’ll ease up. I know it will.”

He snorted. “So now you're a weather forecaster?”

“Please, we have to try.”

Grumbling, Byron loaded our luggage into our car and drove us to the ferry.

A short line of cars lead to the ticket booth. The BC Ferry worker slid back the window. “Are you sure you—

“Yes, we're sure.” We can't be alone. It's Christmas. We need to be with family.

Another BC Ferry worker directed us onto the ferry, but not before saying, “Are you sure you—

I cut him off too.

We boarded the ferry. A routine two-hour trip ended up taking eight hours as we were diverted and re-diverted. But eventually, we docked at Salt Spring Island.

Next post:  (Could be a few days earlier--depending on weather conditions) Sunday, December 18th around 5 PM PST
The conclusion of Christmas with Family

Picture Books in Canada

Tundra Books

About Tundra Books including how to submit your picture book manuscript.

Sharing my author journey...

Lessons from my largest writing project to-date:  a novel for young adult readers...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas with Family (1 of 3) by Leanne Dyck

I'm proud to write that this short story is included in the anthology In the Moment. To order copies, please email:  Gary Doi ( Book proceeds donated to Children's Wish. 

(My husband and me at the time of the story--
before we moved to Mayne Island
photo taken by a friend)

Christmas with Family (1 of 3) 

November wasn't even over and already the rush had begun. My neighbourhood mall was packed. Everyone had a shopping bag. Some carried two. I sped past shop after shop escorted by Christmas tunes. Deck the halls with lots of presents. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. Now's the time to be shopping. Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.. The music was supposed to make me happy, but all I felt was blue.
I pictured my extended family's Christmas Eve celebration. Year after year, we gathered to talk, laugh, exchange gifts and enjoy delicious food. This year, they would—I wouldn't, not any longer. My husband and I had moved from Manitoba three provinces away to British Columbia.
I entered the food court, searched and found my husband, Byron, sitting at a table, flipping through a magazine. “I'm sorry I'm late,” I said. Byron doesn't like to wait.
He shrugged off my apology.
The thought of spending Christmas here in BC—the two of us alone in our lonely apartment—made me want to cry.
“I want us to go home for Christmas,” I said trying to steady my voice.
“We are home,” he replied.
“No, I mean—”
“Manitoba? Freezing cold. Snow. No, thanks.”
But we have to be with family for Christmas. That thought haunted me all the way back to our apartment. I know, I'll phone my cousin Susan. After all she's alone too.
“Why don't you and Byron come and have Christmas here on Salt Spring?” Susan suggested.
I was so happy I wanted to sing, dance, but all I did was thank my cousin for saving my Christmas.  

Next post: Monday, December 19th
The continuation of Christmas with Family
Of course you know it won't be that easy. Stay tuned for the complications.

Picture Books in Canada

Pjama Press

Sharing my author journey...

Wishing you an information-rich, fun-packed retreat.