Sunday, December 29, 2019

Your favourite short stories of 2019 (list) by Leanne Dyck

In 2019, I clicked my pen and wrote humour, magical realism, women's fiction, metafiction, a narrative poem, historical fiction, and creative non-fiction. In total, I wrote 17 short stories and one poem for this blog. (I also wrote 25 manuscripts for young children. This includes finishing my middle grade novel. A project that--at times--I never thought I would finish. And at other times thought I was silly to have even started. But it's amazing how much pleasure I had writing it.) Here are the stories. If you click on the title it will take you to the story so you can re-read it. Under each title is a brief description of the story. At the end of the list, you'll find the three stories that earned the most page views. Thank you for your interest in my writing. Stories are listed in the order they were published on my blog.

"Sun" by ldyck

Short Stories


Island Artist

a humourous near-visit to a notorious fine artist who residences on a small island


Answering Machine

moving on from a failed romantic relationship


Authors in a Pub

three mid-list authors discuss how hard it is to write--inspired by Monty Phyton

Let the Sunshine in

in this magical realism narrative poem, a granddaughter journeys through the woods to visit her grandmother



birth stories--some of us are given them; others of us have to find them


Baby Rescuer

An Early Childhood Educator gains employment at a Day Care Centre for young parents and gets an education.


driven by an overwhelming need for a baby, an Early Childhood Educator crafts plans to make her dreams reality.


Playing with Your Muse
part 1 
part 2

a muse gifts an author a story about a senior citizen who knits


Sharing Your Writing

a wife shares her writing with her non-writing husband and asks for his feedback

The Toy

an abandoned toy longs to find a child who will play with him


The Invisible Woman

a middle-aged woman confronts invisibility


part 1
part 2

inspired by true events, this is the story about sharing my story about my afi (grandfather) with my Amma (grandma)--one of the first times I shared my writing with my family

My First Writers' Group

the feelings that I confronted when attending my first writers' group meetings


The Craftsman

this story about a Settler meeting a Native American was inspired by my first published story--published when I was in elementary school


On Stage with the Island Storyteller

a silly fictitious story that provides a venue for me to thank all those who helped me grow as an author--including you


Christmas Secrets

about my mom's naughty kid

A Christmas Present

it's not the present. It's what you do with that counts.

Christmas with Family

in which I long to spend Christmas with family and my husband endeavours to make that happen

Your Favourite Stories

or at least the stories that received the most page views

(drum roll, please)

Authors in a Pub
Island Artist
Let the Sunshine in

Thank you for each and every clicked link.

"moon" by ldyck

In 2019, I reviewed 18 books. I read historical fiction, literary fiction, horror, a middle grade novel, and short story collections, short novels and a book of linked stories. Oh, how I love shorts. Publication dates for these books spanned the years from 1891 (not my copy, but the book) to 2019. That's 128 years. Wow! And I loved each and every one of them. And to think I was once a reluctant reader (many, many years ago). Not no more, sister. If you click on the title it will take you to my review. Under each title are the author's name, the genre, and a brief description of the book. Books are listed in the order the reviews were published on my blog.

Book Reviews


Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
(middle-grade historical fiction)

set in England, Sweep is about a girl, a chimney sweep and a lump of coal


The Saturday Night Ghost Club
Craig Davidson
(literary fiction)

a nephew discovers the dark secret that haunts his uncle


Washington Black
Esi Edugyan
(historical fiction)

born a slave, a boy grows up to be an adventure, an inventor

A Wake for the Dreamland
Laurel Deedrick-Mayne
(historical fiction)

about enduring friendship and surviving war


Bluebird's Egg
Margaret Atwood
(short story collection)

reflections on the relationships women have with the men in their lives

Something for Everyone
Lisa Moore
(short story collection)

all stories are connected in some way to Newfoundland


Bellevue Square
Michael Redhill
(literary fiction)

a woman hunts for her twin

Anna Burns
(literary fiction)

set in Ireland during The Troubles, an adolescent girl is followed by the "milkman"


Fox 8
George Saunders
(short novel)

a fox learns to speak human

The Time I Loved You
Carrianne Leung
(linked stories collection)

about the Ontario suburb Scarborough


An Ocean of Minutes
Thea Lim

a time-travelling love story


The Quintland Sisters
Shelley Wood
(historical fiction)

set during the depression, a young woman learns about nursing and life as she cares for the Dionne quintuplets

The Princess Dolls
Ellen Schwartz
(middle-grade historical fiction)

during the Second World War, two girls--one Jewish and the other Japanese-Canadian--bond over their mutual adoration of Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret


Bunny:  A Novel
Mona Awad
(literary fiction)

a writer is bullied by a group of writers

The Pearl
John Steinbeck
(a short novel written as a parable)

a poor family's struggle to survive


The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde
(gothic horror classic)

explores what can happen to a man's life when he is manipulated by the wrong influence


Emma Donoghue
(literary fiction)

a son investigates what his mother did during the Second World War

The End of the Affair
Graham Greene

set during and after World War Two, The End of the Affair is about three self-obsessed people and their struggle for love


The Little Paris Bookshop
Nina George

after 20 years, a middle-aged man learns to live and love again

Your Favourite Book Reviews
or at least the reviews that received the most page views

A Wake for the Dreamland by Laurel Deedrick-Mayne
Bluebird's Egg by Margaret Atwood
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

I know I'm a midge early but, I just can't wait.

Happy 2020!!

January on this blog will be positively

(January 5) 2020  Meditation 


(January 12) Book review:
The Call of the Wild by Jack London

(January 26) Book review:
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Let me list the ways

(January 19) List
2010s:  Your Favourite Books


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas with Family (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story is about a year when I was forced to abandon cherished family Christmas traditions. 

photo by ldyck

Christmas with Family

November wasn't even over and already the rush had begun in my neighbourhood mall. I navigated around shoppers as holiday tunes played. 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.

Christmas memories spent with my family filled my mind. Aunts, uncles, cousins—we’d all gathered around a Christmas tree year after year for decades. But this year my husband, Byron, and I had moved from Manitoba to British Columbia.

I found Byron in the food court—sipping coffee and flipping through a magazine. “I want us to fly home to Manitoba for Christmas,” I told him.

Freezing cold. Snow. No, thanks,” he told me.

But we have to be with family for Christmas,” I explained but he refused to budge. I worried about the problem all the way back to our apartment.

Then I remembered that I had a cousin on one of the tiny islands not that far from the mainland. I phoned Susan.

Being a good cousin, she invited Byron and me to spend the holidays with her on Salt Spring Island. Problem solved.

But, weeks later, both Byron and I heard the weatherman’s prediction that snow would make travelling during Christmas hazardous.

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

But he was completely missing the point. “We need to be with family for Christmas,” I reminded him.

And he promised me that we would try.

The day of our ferry trip, I woke before Byron, crept over to the window and pushed back the curtains. A light dusting of snow covered the ground. Large, fluffy snowflakes continued to fall. 

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’ll ease up. I know it will.”

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

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

“Yes, we're sure,” I told him.

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

I cut him off too.

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.

“The ferry was only half the battle.” Byron told me. “The other half is that steep hill.”

But not easily defeated, he tried to conquer the hill. 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.

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 phoned Susan.

“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. 

Desperate, I phoned Susan again.

“Hitchhike,” she said.


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

She wanted me to ask a complete stranger for help. Didn’t she realize how dangerous that was? Byron and I would be abducted or worse.

But it was cold and getting colder. I had to do something.

I looked across the road to the grocery store and saw three large trucks with snow tires.

“I’ll be right back. 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.

Sliding from one patch of ice to the next, I made it to the grocery store. Large sleigh bells jiggled as I opened the door. I noticed a woman with a teenager and figured that she had to be a mother. 

Mustering up all the courage I could find and hoping I was trusting the right person, I asked for help. And she... She drove up the hill like it was flat; plowed through the snow like she was driving a tank. She drove us right to my cousin's door. And she saved my Christmas.


Who are the people in your life who would drive backwards on a 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A Christmas Present (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Think back. What was one of your most favourite childhood presents--of all time; ever. What happened to that present? Do you still have it? This is the story of one of mine.

December on Mayne Island photo by ldyck

A Christmas Present

She came into my life on Christmas day. How old was I? Maybe nine; maybe younger. I tore off the wrapping paper and she captivated me with her long silky hair and pretty dress. When I pulled the cord she spoke with a pronounced British accent. "What's playing at the cinema?"

She balanced on her tip-toes until I pried her legs apart to make her sit on a plastic horse. After that, there was no more balancing on tip-toes for her. 

In my carefully crafted tales, she was a bed-ridden, though devoted mother to a brood of Dawn dolls. Married to Ken, she lived happily-ever-after.

Barbie was my favourite Christmas present until many years later my boyfriend gave me an engagement ring. 

Christmas day...

Short Story:  Christmas with Family
in which I desire to be with family for Christmas and my husband endeavors to make that happen.

Sharing my author's journey...

This week I continued to work on my directory of contacts. This time turning my attention to universities and colleges.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (contemporary romance)

Set in France, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is about enduring, transcendent love--for people and books.
'"Books are my friends... I think I learned all my feelings from books. In them I loved and laughed and found out more than in my whole nonreading life."' (p. 71)
Jean Albert Victor Perdu falls in love with Manon Morello (married name Basset). Love for her consumes him. Unfortunately, their love affair is cut short when Manon dies of cancer. Without her, Jean becomes numb. 
'"All the love, all the dead, all the people we've known. They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls. If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up too."' (p. 227)

Jean's memories of Manon are behind a door he cannot open. But he is still a compassionate man. Concern for others propels him to find a solution for their problems by matching books to readers.
He 'wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors.' (p. 23) 
Jean opens a bookstore--the Literary Apothecary is a barge moored on the Seine.

One day, twenty years after Manon's death, when Jean is fifty, he hears a woman crying. He finds the perfect book for her. But the feelings Catherine awakens in him he is ill-equipped to face. So Jean jumps on his book barge and sails away...

But this is just the beginning of the story.
'"We have to live the important things, not read them."' (p. 316)

I picture you reading The Little Paris Bookshop as you sip eggnog, munch shortbread cookies, and roast chestnuts on an open fire. It's a feel-good read.

Nina George
Translated from German by Simon Pare
Published in the United States by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House
Published in 2015

photo by ldyck

Next Sunday evening...

A Christmas Present
It's not the present. It's what you do with it that counts.

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author's journey...

I've been giving author readings since the early 2000s. I've read at festivals and over the radio. 

Sharing my writing on stage is something I enjoy doing. But...

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas Secrets (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A short story inspired by my mom's naughty kid.

Magical Christmas Reindeer in the woods photo by ldyck

Christmas Secrets

I knew I would find it if I looked hard enough. Dad was at work. Mom was busy baking shortbread cookies and other Christmas goodies. The coast was clear. As quiet as a mouse, I crept into my parents' bedroom. I searched high--balancing on my tiptoes, climbing on a chair. I searched low--flipping back the bedspread, crawling under the bed. 

And...I...found it.

Unable to suppress my joy, I ran into the kitchen singing, "Mom, do I really have to wait for Christmas to play with that sleepy-time doll?"

 Did you do that too? Or am I the only one?

Next Sunday evening... 

Book Review:  The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (contemporary romance)
After 20 years of hiding, a middle-aged man learns how to live and love again.

Sharing my author's journey...

This week I worked on my 'Planning my success' binder.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Hmm... a list of book quotes collected by Leanne Dyck

photo by ldyck

December can be a challenging month for many, including me. So I thought I'd help us start the month on a positive note with this list of quotes--collected since 2012 from the books I've reviewed for this blog. I invite you to select a quote to act as an affirmation. Click on each book's title and the link will take you to my review.
'"Never be so focused on what you're looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find."' State of Wonder, Ann Patchett
'"It's what you learn after you think you know it all that counts."' Short, Holly Goldberg Sloan
 '[A] man finds what he looks for, and he who believes in a ghost will surely find a ghost.' Independent People, Halldor Laxness
'"Parents owe their children everything, always and unconditionally."' The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Craig Davidson
'Many hearts beating together make us stronger.' Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese
'[N]ormal is just a setting on the dryer.' Short, Holly Goldberg Sloan
'It's never the differences between people that surprise us. It's the things that, against all odds, we have in common.'  
ShortHolly Goldberg Sloan
'Do all the good you can/By all the means you can/In all the ways you can/In all the places you can/At all the times you can/To all the people you can/As long as you ever can -John Wesley's Rule' Wonder, RJ Palacio 
'The old us is a new us every day, and we have to accept that we will have a beginning and a middle and an end.' 
ShortHolly Goldberg Sloan
'We are saved by saving others.' Sweep, Jonathan Auxier 
 '"You can't have courage without fear."' SweepJonathan Auxier 
'The goal to be reached and the determination to reach it are brother and sister, and slumber in the same heart.' Independent PeopleHalldor Laxness
'No matter what happens, the past has a permanence. The past is safe.' An Ocean of Minutes, Thea Lim

 Next Sunday evening...

December 8:  Christmas Secrets (short story)

I wasn't always this fine example of a human being. Next Sunday I'll reveal what a truly horrible child I was. Please don't judge me too harshly.

Sharing my author's journey...

Yesterday, November 30, I entertained a room full of people with my writing during a Storyteller Evening.