Sunday, December 27, 2020

2020: My List of Accomplishments by Leanne Dyck

So much about 2020 sucked but still, as I look back on the year, I'm smiling. Here's why...



photo by ldyck

Virtual Author Readings

Last July, I was invited--by a company called Allears--to record my short stories for my blog. It was a generous offer but I was reluctant to accept. I'm dyslexic and so doing recordings of me reading... I'm not computer savvy and so learning to do something new on my computer... 

But I'm so glad that I did try because I've been having so much fun, challenging myself, and learning a lot.

So far, your most favourite reading has been...

A Stone Heart

The complete (so far) list of my virtual author readings.

Writing

Ever since I heard about The Fold Festival I've wanted to attend, but it's held in Brampton, Ontario--and I'm all the way over here on the west coast. So I... 

But in 2020--like many literary events--The Fold was held online. (Very good news for me!) I was especially interested in participating in a pitch session. For a fee of thirty dollars, participating authors sent excerpts from their manuscripts in hopes of--if selected--having their words read by either a literary agent or book publisher. 

You did read that I wasn't computer savvy, right? Well... I had some trouble completing the application form. Fortunately, thanks to the help I received from one of the members of The Fold team (much thanks to you, Ardo) my application was accepted.

On August 26, Fold sent me an email of congratulations--I had been chosen to participate. Well, I was over the moon.  Even better news, the fee of thirty dollars had been waived. 

I waited to be contacted by an agent or a publisher. 

On September 1, I was sent an email from one of the biggest publishing houses. I was blown away--and, of course, nervous. But it does help to know that a publisher has liked your work enough to want to speak with you about it. 

The publisher was warm and helpful. She gave me tons of notes regarding my manuscript. As it turns out, the manuscript I sent her was too short but... I mentioned another manuscript that I was thinking of starting to write and she expressed an interest in reading it.  That's the manuscript I've been working on ever since. 


 Blog

At 10:59 a.m. on Sunday, September 13, 2020, this blog received its 500,000-page view. 

Thank you for your continued support. Without you, these words would simply be sent into the atmosphere. A story isn't a story without a reader to read it.

And regarding next year, I have big plans...



'Abby taking her human for a walk' photo by ldyck

2021 on this blog...

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Office Party (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Sometimes wonderful things can happen when you step out of your comfort zone.


photo by ldyck

I've never worked in an office. But... My husband's office parties are always so much fun. This one year they planned a night full of sketches. I was asked to participate by writing and performing a short skit.

The banquet hall was full--some people I knew in passing, others I didn't. I took a few sips of something strong left my husband at our table and went backstage. 

I came onto the stage wearing a red cow print robe with a hand-knit Santa hat.

Backstage voices:  "Is that my husband?"

"Is that my wife?"

On stage, I addressed the audience:  "It is I, the spirit of your better half. And I'm here to say... God bless you, each and every one!"

I'm pleased to write that there was much laughter. And I learned, once again, that night, that sometimes it's fun to step out of your comfort zone. 

photo by ldyck

Join me here on Sunday, December 27 and we'll be a bow on 2020 with...

2020:  My List of Accomplishments



"Snowdog" made by bdyck on Monday, December 21, 2020

photo by ldyck


Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In


Very seldom do we on Mayne Island, BC get to enjoy the typical 

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ice Angel (short story) by Leanne Dyck

A short story of hope in times of darkness.


                                                                             photo by ldcyk

Ice Angel


Tears trickled down my cheeks. The cold air froze my damp skin, and it hurt like knives. Words had been said that I couldn't take back--and neither could he. I walked on in the only direction I could--away. The snow crushed under my boots as I grew closer to the lights surrounding the outdoor rink.

I'd left all I knew behind to follow him to this province where I didn't know anyone and barely understood the language. And now... And now...

You aren't alone. You are my precious child. I love you; I always have; I always will. When you need me, I will always be here for you. The voice was coming from inside of me--deep inside, near my heart. I have a plan for everything, for everyone. I have a plan for you. You can't see the "whys" or the "whats" or the "wheres", but there is such beauty and much joy there. Just believe. Dark times will come, but I will carry you through them. I will. For you are my precious child

I wanted so badly to believe the words, but with my whole life in pieces, I wondered how I could. 

Boots replaced by skates, I walked through the snow to the ice. Two skates on the ice, I pushed myself forward and fell hard onto my knees. I didn't belong there. All I wanted to do was leave but... 

Something floated over the ice. She sparkled. Was she an angel? She spun and leapt. Was she a ballerina? She could have been my little sister. All I wanted to do was watch her but she skated over to me. She said something in French and stretched out her hands to me.

I shook my head. "Non."

But she was determined. And she gave me such a sweet smile that I knew I had to try. So I held her hands and she slowly skated backward, pulling me along. I couldn't believe it, I was skating. Sailing over the ice. Capturing sunlight on that dark night.

"Sylvie," a woman's voice called from somewhere beyond the snowbanks.

"Ici, Mamma," Sylvie replied.

The moment was over and I knew I had to leave. "Merci." I waved good-bye to Sylvie, scrambled to the snow, tore off my skates, and walked out of the ring of lights before Sylvie's mom could see me. 

But the memory of that magical moment remained with me, buoyed me up. The joy I felt skating with Sylvie gave me hope that tomorrow could be a brighter day.

Next Sunday...
December 27

2020:  My List of Accomplishments

Facing the challenges of 2020, many turned to the Internet for solutions. This presented unique opportunities for many--including me. Log on next Sunday and I'll tell you more about my year.


Next Thursday...
December 24


Happy Holidays!
From Me
To You

Log on this coming Thursday to receive your special holiday present. It's a...a...

Office Party (short story)
by Leanne Dyck

I hope you like it.

photo by bdyck


Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In


photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...


I watched a helpful podcast on editing this week...

While working on my manuscript, I've found it helpful to ask myself--how does (character) know this?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book Review: The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane (MG) by Julia Nobel

 Emmeline "Emmy" Willick is happy kicking balls and scoring goals on the soccer field in Connecticut until her mother sends her away to Wellsworth--a boarding school in England. 

'making friends had never been [Emmy's] strength. That would involve talking to people.' (p. 4)

How will a timid introvert like Emmy survive living with her peers?

Emmy's life is one big question mark. Why did her mother choose to send her to Wellsworth? Does it have anything to do with her father? Emmy's father left when she was three-years-old. One of the only things she knows about him is that he meet Emmy's mom in England. She doesn't know if he's alive or dead. So if he's alive, she wonders where he is? If he's dead, how did he die? 

The mystery is like a frayed thread the more she pulls on it the longer it gets. 




Buy this book

Published by Sourcebooks Young Readers

Published in 2020

Won the Silver Birch Fiction Award



I choose to read The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane because I'm currently writing a novel for readers of middle grade fiction and wanted to learn more about the genre. I was rewarded with not only an intriguing mystery but also with an enduring, relatable character--Emmy--who grew through the course of the novel.


Next Sunday...
December 20
at approximately 5...um...er...4:30ish PM PT


Ice Angel
Leanne Dyck

...Something floated over the ice. She sparkled. Was she an angel?...
 


photo by Terrill Welch

Wednesday, December 9
Virtual Author Reading
by Leanne Dyck

This short story was inspired by the Christmas--several years ago--when I forced to throw all my seasonal traditions out the window--much like this year. Ah, but, I learned... Well, to say more would spoil it. I'll just read it, shall I...?

photo by bdyck


Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In



photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...


word count:  19,221 words
goal:  40,000+ words

Sometimes when the words lie lifeless on the page and the story has 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The End (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Many things can go wrong with a manuscript. It's a miracle really when you reach the end.


photo by ldyck

The End

She holds a stack of paper--the collection of a year's worth of work. "Would you like to read it?"

I remember hearing the clicking of keys, all those late nights, I can't say no.

She hands me her manuscript and just stands there waiting.

"I will," I tell her, "just not right now and not in front of you."

She gives me an understanding smile.

I do find the time. I flip the title page over and begin--. But...?Flipping through the stack of paper all I find are two words repeating and repeating--The End.

Next Sunday...
December 13
at approximately 5...um...er...4:30ish PM PT


The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane
Julia Nobel
is a mystery for readers of middle grade ficion

The mystery is like a frayed thread the more she pulls on it the longer it gets. 


photo by Terrill Welch

Wednesday, December 9
Virtual Author Reading
by Leanne Dyck

Christmas from Mrs. Clause's point-of-view

photo by bdyck


Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In


photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Have you heard? Audible has made a collection of audiobooks free to enjoy. 

Also...


included my review of MASH in their collection of articles--and included a link to this blog. 


word count: 17,629 words
goal:  40,000+

I love to (just a second, my husband is telling me something)...

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Book review: MASH by Richard Hooker (historical fiction)

 Augustus Bedford "Duke" Forrest and Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce spend eighteen life-changing months serving in the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in South Korea in the early 1950s--during the Korean war.


(Because I bought the ebook version I don't have any fancy book jacket to photograph--just one reason I love paperbacks)

Buy this book

Published by William Morrow

an imprint of HarperCollins

Publishing in 1968


The book opens, in the middle of November 1951, with Radar O'Reilly's comment that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake 'is trying for two new cutters'. Enter Duke and Hawkeye. The "boys" quickly endear themselves to their new Colonel by doing the best and most work.

Hawkeye and Duke devalue (undervalue) rules in favour of compassion, skill, and humour. (I laughed out loud.)

Most chapters are utilized to introduce new characters--until we meet a camp full. The character that shows the most growth throughout the length of the story is "Trapper" John McIntyre. In chapter three we meet the 6 foot 130-pound chest surgeon from Winchester, Boston who hides in his parka.

Duke says of Trapper:  '"That...is the strangest son-of-a... I ever did see. If he wasn't the best chest-cutter in the Far East Command, I'd kick his ass out of this here tent."'

The chapter concludes with Hawkeye introducing Trapper to everyone in the mess hall by saying... 

'"Gentlemen, this here is Trapper John, the pride of Winchester, Dartmouth College, and Tent Number Six, and if any of you uneducated b... don't like it you'll have to answer to Duke Forrest and Hawkeye Pierce."'

Thanks to the support he receives from Hawkeye and Duke, Trapper emerges from his parka to become the 4077's chief surgeon. 



from Google images

I was attracted to this book because I was a devoted fan of the TV show (One of my first crushes was on Hawkeye.) The book lent itself very nicely to being developed for TV. In fact, some of the chapters reminded me of episodes. The book format allowed room for backstory that TV couldn't afford. However, I found some of the language and attitudes expressed in the book dated, but that didn't stop me from loving this book. As well the book is lacking the anti-war sentiment that the TV show champions. William Hornberger told a New York Times journalist that his father 'hadn't intended to write an anti-war book. "My father was a political conservative, and he did not like the liberal tendencies that Alan Alda portrayed Hawkeye Pierce as having."' (Why the Real-Life Hawkeye Pierce Hated MASH by Erin Blakemore)

MASH is a raw look at army life.

Author Richard Hooker writes in the Foreward...

'Most of the docotors who worked in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War were very young... [T]hey acheived the best results up to that time in the history of military surgery...

The various stresses...produced behavior in many of them that...seemed inconsistent with their earlier, civilian behavior patterns. A few flipped their lides, but most of them just raised hell.'  

 *My husband--in the name of being more environmentally conscious--persuaded me to buy MASH as an ebook. It was an interesting experiment, but I far prefer paperbacks. For one, I missed the pretty book cover.  

About the author...

Hiester Richard Hornberger Jr. was born in Trenton, New Jersey. He died seventy-three years later in Waterville, Maine. In between times, he studied medicine, became a surgeon, and served in the 8055th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean war. To deal with the trauma Hornberger experienced during the war, he began to write MASH. It took him twelve years to complete the book and five years to find a publisher. In 1968, MASH was published under his pseudonym Richard Hooker.



Virtual Author Reading

Wednesday, December 2


a short poem to fills us.

And for your listening pleasure, I will also read...


a short story that gives an example of how NOT to participant in a writers' group.


photo by ldyck

December's offerings...

Sunday, December 6
Short Story
The End (horror? humour?)
by Leanne Dyck

Will writers view this short story as horror? Will non-writers view it as humour? I wonder... I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.
And I couldn't resist beginning the book with The End

Wednesday, December 9
Virtual Author Reading
Blue Christmas (humour)
by Leanne Dyck

Christmas from Mrs. Clause's point-of-view

Sunday, December 13
Book Review
The Mystery of Black Hollow (mystery)
by Julia Nobel 

A mystery novel for middle grade readers. American Emmy Willick moves to England to attend Wellsworth--a boarding school.

Wednesday, December 16
Virtual Author Reading
Christmas with Family
by Leanne Dyck

A short story about how my husband, my cousin, and a kind stranger saved my Christmas.

Sunday, December 20
Short Story
Ice Angel
by Leanne Dyck

Inspired by a true story about meeting a little girl who added magic to my life--and uplifted me when I was feeling lost and alone.

Wednesday, December 24
Short Story
Office Party
by Leanne Dyck

Inspired by a true story about attending my husband's office party.
This is my Christmas present to you. I hope you enjoy your gift.

Sunday, December 27
2020:  My List of Accomplishments
Leanne Dyck

photo by bdyck


Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In

  

photo by ldyck


Sharing my author's journey...

In a month when many in the writing community have pumped out 50,000 words...

word count:  15,119 words

goal:  40,000+ words 

The more words I add to this manuscript the clearer the story 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Book Review: All We Left Behind by Danielle R. Graham (historical fiction romance)

 Set on Mayne Island, from 1941 to 1945, All We Left Behind is a sweet romance between Hayden Pierce and Chidori Setoguchi.




Buy this book

Published by One More Chapter

a division of Harper Collins Publishers

Published in 2020


'You didn't go and get sweet on that Jap girl now, did you?' (p. 15)

Prejudice is always there, around every turn, doggedly following Chidori--framing every tender moment with Hayden.

Chidori writes in her diary:  'Hayden is the only thing that truly brings joy to my heart during these harrowing times.' (p. 130)

Things go from bad to worse when, on Tuesday 21 April 1942, fifty Japanese Canadians are forced to leave Mayne Island. Frustrated because he is unable to prevent this injustice and enraged at being separated from his sweetheart, Hayden enlists with the Royal Air Force. And he faces the horrors of war--but he keeps Chidori's picture in his breast pocket. Memories of her buoyed him up at times of greatest peril, at times of greatest tragedy. 

In her Author Notes, Danielle R. Graham explains her reason for writing this novel...

'if [we] truly understand history [we] will be able to acknowledge the mistakes that were made, recognize prejudice when it is being repeated, stop messages of fear and bias from spreading, and have the courage to stand up for what is right.' (p. 350)

Graham uses a delicate hand and remains faithful to the era while writing funny and tender moments between Hayden and Chidori.

I can't imagine a better book to read during this month of remembrance. 

In All We Left Behind, Graham repeats this quote from Albert Camus, French philosopher and writer...

'In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me there's something stronger--something better, pushing right back.' 


Virtual (author) Reading...


Wednesday, November 25

I'll once again record two reads...

Gloves in My Pocket (poem)

a silly poem--my attempt at brightening things up a bit.


What's Wrong with Michelle? (short story)

Sarah thinks she knows and wants Amanda's help to correct things in Michelle's life.


Next Sunday...


Sunday, November 29

Did you know that this popular TV show was inspired by a book? What book? What is the book like? Is it similar to the show--in what way? Is it different? All these questions and more, hopefully, will be answered next Sunday. Well, at least I'll supply my answer to these questions. 





The only thing All We Left Behind is lacking (IMHO), is a word or two at the 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Is She Me? (short story) by Leanne Dyck

This short story is intended as an anthem for women of a certain age.

                                                                photo by ldyck

Is She Me?


Tonight was such a blast. My head is still buzzing from the music, from the beer. I kick off my high heels, hang up my mini skirt, and crawl into bed. I'm so tired that I could sleep for years.

I wake to sunlight pouring through the window. My bladder is going to burst. Stiff cardboard legs down the hall to the bathroom. 

I look in the mirror. Wrinkles. Who's she? Grey hair. Wait! Wait, is she me? 

Back in my bedroom red numbers on my alarm clock--3:33 AM. Too early! But I flick on the light. No kicked off high heels. All I can find is 'comfortable' shoes. I search through my closet. The mini skirt is only a memory. My heart hurts. I grieve the loss of time, of youth. But I refuse to crumble.

I look in the mirror again. Those are my mom's laugh lines. I remember seeing those wrinkles on my aunt's neck. Wise compassionate women who I modeled myself after. Why should I stop now?  

Virtual (author) Reading...


Wednesday, November 18

Leanne Dyck

Before facing a particular number of candles on my birthday cake, I considered mourning but instead gathered a group of wise women. Women who I knew I could rely on to help me celebrate the passage of time. We meet at the Mayne Island labyrinth. As we walked the labyrinth we recited Mother, May I. Before, during, and after the informal ceremony, I felt supported and uplifted. It was an amazing way to celebrate. 

And also
A Star (short story)
Leanne Dyck

This is one of the first stories I recorded. Unfortunately, a glitch forced me to remove that recording. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to rewrite the story. Revisions are done, it's time to re-record the story.


Next Sunday...


Sunday, November 22

Book Review:  
All We Left Behind
Danielle R. Graham

A war-time romance between Chidori and Hayden. Set on Mayne Island--a remote island off Canada's west coast (my island home).

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

This week I...

Watched an informative YouTube video...
Thanks to author Pam Withers who shared this link with me.


Watched a fun YouTube video with 
and learned about his new book Clan--a novel set in the ice age

WIP
word count: 10,611 words
goal:  40,000+

A rough draft of the introduction to my manuscript is complete. Hooray!

As I work on this manuscript, I've been fighting my natural inclination to write short (short stories, novellas) by discovering ways to write long.

For example...

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Book Review: How to Pronounce Knife stories by Souvankham Thammavongsa (short story collection)

Congratulations to Souvankham Thammavongsa for writing How to Pronounce Knife which won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize


How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of 14 short stories. All but two of the protagonists are immigrants Canadians from Laos. They are children, a factory worker, a senior citizen, an ex-boxer, small businesspeople, farm labourers, a cleaner. They are disempowered people. Even if, like Mr. Vong (from the short story The Universe Would Be So Cruel), they hold a position of respect in their community they discover that they are still powerless against outside forces. 

Many of these stories are tinged with sadness. Many are earthy, gritty stories. 

Following in the tradition of authors such as John Steinbeck, Souvankham Thammavongsa uses her considerable talent to champion the underdog. People that many of us may not have known existed if not for her. 




Buy this book

Published by McClelland & Stewart

an imprint of Penguin Random House

Published in 2020


Virtual Reading...

Wednesday, November 11 

Remembrance Day


I will read my short story "Remembering Him"

--and oh boy will this be a challenge for me to read.


Next Sunday...

November 15

Short story:  

Is She Me?

Leanne Dyck

This short story is intended as an anthem for women of a certain age.



'found art' photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

WIP
word count:  8,555 words
goal:  40,000+ words

I reached a new high with my manuscript. After days, weeks 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Bedtime Story (short story) by Leanne Dyck


photo by ldyck

Reading books can make memories that will last a lifetime. 

A Bedtime Story


In my footie pajamas, I crawl onto my dad's lap and snuggle up close to his flannel shirt. Soap and water can't hide his farmer's cologne--a  blend of sheep, hay, and soil.

He always begins my stories in the same way, "In the land of here and now and right away, lived a little girl named Gwen, or was it Amy?

"Her hair was golden blonde or black. Does it matter?

"She was your age. Or was she older? Or a little younger? Oh, you know, it doesn't really matter.

"She lived a humdrum life, in a ho-hum way, but one day, one day..."

He recounts one of my daily adventures and makes it magical. I'm rocked to sleep by his words. My dad is a magnificent storyteller.

Virtual Reading...

Wednesday, November 4


This short story was inspired by my years working as an Early Childhood Educator caring for children in daycare centres.

(Thank you for your input on this--I truly appreciate it.)

Next Sunday...



Book Review:  How to Pronounce Knife 
Souvankham Thammavongsa

Short story collection

Short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize





Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In


Sharing my author's journey...

WIP:  
word count:  6,917 words
goal:  40,000+ words

How often do you send manuscripts to publishers?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review: The Guardians by Andrew Pyper (horror)

Would you like to learn how to create suspense and build on it? Andrew Pyper teaches you how to pick up that hot potato and never let it go in The Guardians.  


The Guardians by Andrew Pyper is a haunted house story. The Thurman house keeps dark secrets within its walls--but for how long? They want to get out.



Buy this book

Published by Doubleday Canada

an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada

Published in 2011

Forty-year-old Trevor is watching his life slip away as Parkinson's claims his body. He's alone but he wasn't always. In 1984, Trevor and his three friends Randy, Ben, and Carl played hockey for the Grimshaw Guardians. Flash forward twenty-four years to 2008 and Ben's death brings Trevor back to his hometown of Grimshaw, Ontario. It brings him face-to-face with that which haunts him--the Thurman house and his once girlfriend Sarah. One offers him death, the other life--which will Trevor choose?

To help Trevor cope with Parkinson's, doctors advise him to keep a journal. He takes this advice but he doesn't write about Parkinson's. He recounts the events that transpired in the winter of 1984 when he was sixteen. This dual timeline kept me on the edge of my seat. 

In fact, if I were, to sum up, The Guardians in one word that word would be suspenseful. 

New release by Andrew Pyper--The Residence



Virtual Reading...

Wednesday, October 28
just in time for Halloween

Larry 
a ghost story


November on this blog...





Sunday, November 1

Short Story:  A Bedtime Story 
Leanne Dyck

A sweet story about a child's bedtime ritual with her farmer father.

Sunday, November 8

Book Review:  How to Pronounce Knife (short story collection)
Souvankham  Thammavongsa

Nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
The Scotiabank Giller Prize ceremony will be held tomorrow--Monday, November 9

Sunday, November 15

Short Story:  Is She Me?
Leanne Dyck

An anthem for women of a certain age.

Sunday, November 22

Book Review:  All We Left Behind (historical fiction)
Danielle R Graham

A war-time romance between Chidori and Hayden--set on a remote island off Canada's west coast (Mayne Island)

Sunday, November 29

Book Review:  MASH (historical fiction)
Richard Hooker

This novel about doctors servicing in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean war became the popular TV show MASH starring Alan Alda.






Are you following me?

Facebook
Twitter
Linked In


Sharing my author's journey...

Thanks to the Vancouver Writers Festival, I had an opportunity to visit with Oliver Jeffers

'On this pale blue dot, everyone you love, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives... Every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there, on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam'

 

-Carl Sagan

Word count:   5,742 /40,000

This week was all about planning and filling in the blanks. For example, naming some of my key secondary characters. Often