Sunday, September 27, 2020

Book Review: Hurry Home (thriller) by Roz Nay

'"Some people are wired wrong... And sometimes they end up in your family."' (p. 153)


Can people change? That's the question Roz Nay addresses in Hurry Home. 

Published by Simon & Schuster

Published in 2020

Alexandra Van Ness and her older sister by five years Ruth grow up in Horizon a farming community in North Dakota.

The summer Alex is eight and Ruth is thirteen they devise a game they call "hurry home"--inspired by games like Capture the Flag

This childhood game defines the sisters' lives. Alex becomes the protector and Ruth? Well... 

The sisters' dad tells Alex:  '"You carry on down this road Alex, and you'll be ruined in no time. You're better than that." He turned to look at Ruth momentarily whose face crumpled a  little. "You want to end up like your big sister?"' (p. 132)

The sisters' mom tells Ruth:  '"You're oblivious, Ruth. You don't see the truth. You've created all the trouble this family has ever known."' (p. 143)

At the time of the story, Alex is 25 and Ruth is 30. The sisters haven't seen each other for ten years. Ruth travels from Pittsburgh to reunite with her sister in Moses River on the west coast of the United States.

Embracing her role as protector, Alex works in Family Services as a child protection worker. Among her clients are the Floyds--Frank and Evelyn and their one-year-old son Buster Kevin. Frank and Evelyn have a record of drug abuse and child neglect leading to death. Alex sees them as unfit parents and will stop at nothing to keep Buster safe. Even if it means fighting the system. But are Frank and Evelyn unfit parents or lacking in resources? Maybe it's all in the way you perceive them.

I had to read the last paragraph in Hurry Home three times to let the truth of what was written sink in. Chilling. Haunting. 

On July 22, I had an appointment on Vancouver Island. I left Mayne Island (my island home) with my E-reader but without my charger. Battery depleted, I was in despite need of a book to read on the bus, on the ferry. Hurry Home jumped off the shelf and into my hands. It entertained me right up to the last page which I enjoyed, fittingly, a day after World Book Lover day (August 10). Fittingly because I loved this book. 

photo by ldyck

Online Author Readings this week...

Tuesday, September 29 

Answering Machine

A romantic relationship fizzles away--when you finally let go and move on.

Friday, October 2


A tale of how two brothers gained their independence. 

photo by ldyck

On this blog in October

October 4

Short Story:  Larry

Leanne Dyck

A ghost story

October 11

Short Story:  Leanne Dyck, Blogger (a 3-minute memoir)

Leanne Dyck

To celebrate this blog's tenth anniversary, I take you way back to the beginning.

October 18

Book Review:  People Like Frank 

Jenn Ashton

This newly released (October 17) short story collection seeks to build bridges of understanding with those on the edge of normal

(I think that's me. It could be you.)

October 25

Book Review:  The Guardians 

Andrew Pyper

Traditionally in the last week of October, I treat us to a book from the horror genre. This year's selection will hold you in suspense


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Linked In

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

I'm excited to write that I now have an 'Online Author Readings' page. I plan to...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Author reading on the radio (short story) by Leanne Dyck

One day I took a ferry from Mayne Island to a radio station on Salt Spring Island--it was a short trip, but a huge step forward. Inspired by memories of that day, I wrote this short story.

photo by ldyck

Thanks to radio producer Patricia’s directions I found Salt Spring Island's radio station. It was just a building. The only foreshadowing of the magic that lay within was the call letters—CFSI*.

Patricia met me at the door and showed me to her office. “Are you ready to be recorded?”

I took this as an invitation to read my story to her. As I read, my inner critic screamed, She’s judging you. She thinks you’re pathetic. She won’t let you on the radio. Why should she?

I fought through my nerves and when I was done, Patricia said, “That was good, Leanne. But I think, with a little work, we can make it even better.” 

Did she want me to rewrite my story right then, right there, while I was doing heavy combat against my nerves? Impossible. But if I said no would I blow this opportunity…

Patricia opened a desk drawer and took out a package of markers. Turns out no re-writing was required. She asked for my input as she worked and soon my black and white manuscript was a lot more colourful. Notes reminded me to read slower, identified words to stress, and indicated where to pause.

“Why don’t you read it again and see if those notes help.”

They did—a lot.

“I think you’re ready,” she said and escorted me into the recording room. “This is Leanne. She’s from Mayne Island,” Patricia told the man who sat at a desk of knobs and switches.

“Welcome to CFSI, Leanne. I’m the audio engineer but around here they just call me Bill. Have you been in a radio station before?”

“No, but I’ve always wanted to.”

He smiled. “I’d like to check the levels,” he told me. “put on the headphones and speak into the microphone.”

Patricia found a chair.

“What’s your story about, Leanne?” Bill asked.


“Oh, are you a remedial teacher? Is the story about one of your students?” As we talked, Bill adjusted the knobs and switches.

“No, I have dyslexia. I wrote the story about me.”

Bill stopped working and looked over at me. “Oh, that’s very impressive.” He said that and he hadn’t even heard my story yet.

After the first try, Bill looked at Patricia and said, “That was really good.”

She said, “I think that could be it. What do you think Leanne?”

Hadn’t they heard the word I’d fudged? “I think I can do better.”

I tried again, but there were even more errors that time.

I think the first one was the charmer,” Bill concluded. Clearly, he had more to do then just record me.

I looked down at my watch and realized that if I stayed much longer I’d miss my ferry back to Mayne Island. 

Before I left Bill asked me to repeat the word I'd fudged. He said something about patching it. I wasn't sure what he meant. Maybe he just wanted me to prove to myself that I could say it right. 

Recording the word took seconds.

“Thank you for this amazing opportunity,” I told them both and booted it out the door.

*CFSI was a radio station on Salt Spring Island, BC licensed by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The station broadcast from September 14, 2009, to July 25, 2015. To learn more about the radio station that replaced it on November 28, 2019, please visit Islands Radio

'Smoky' photo by ldyck
On-line author readings
Wednesday, September 23 
Short story:  Wanderlust 
inspired by Tom Paxton's song  Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound

Saturday, September 25 
Short story:  What's Bluegrass?
about my adventures in music

Next Sunday...

Book review:  Hurry Home by Roz Nay (thriller)

Can people change? That's the question Rox Nay explores in 

Hurry Home.

If you're looking for me...

I'm over here...

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photo by ldyck

On-line author readings

I've been recording my short stories since the beginning of August. 
To listen, please visit this blog's Virtual Readings

I'd love to receive...

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Lessons in Icelandic (short story) by Leanne Dyck

How do ensure your culture will survive? What songs do you sing? What stories do you tell? 

This short story was inspired by the Icelandic folklore of the After-Walker--which I learned about in Nelson S. Gerrard's book The Icelandic Heritage.

photo by ldyck

Lessons in Icelandic

On the farm, during haying season, my dad, Uncle Steini, my cousins, and I gathered twigs and built a campfire. Over this fire, we cooked our supper of hot dogs and beans. After supper, Uncle Steini played our favourite songs on his guitar as we sang along... 

"Who is the god of mischief?" my dad asked.

"Loki," one of my cousins cheered.

"The god of art?"

"Bragi," another replied.

"The goddess of love?"

All paused so I could answer, "Freya."

"The father of all the gods?"

"Thor," Uncle Steini roared as we giggled. "He was also the god of war. Sometimes he comes down to Earth and walks among us. When he knocks on your door, what will you do? Will you turn him away?"

"No!" We yelled.

"He could be dressed in rags."

"We'll welcome him."

"He could be dirty, smelly."

"We'll give him food to eat and sit him by the fire."

"Good. Thor is very pleased. Remember what Thor said, children. 'Cattle die, kindred die, you yourself must one day die. The only thing that will not die is the verdict over each man dead.' So live a good life, and do well by all. What is praise-worthy, praise; where action is required, act."

"Tell us a story," we asked my dad and leaned in close, hungry for each word. By the warmth of the campfire, he shared ancient sagas...


Children believe in ghosts. As you lay in your bed, on stormy nights, in the rustle of wind through leaves, listen for the voices of the dead. They will speak to you. 

Olafur's saga is whispered by the north wind. Over the waters, over the sky, over the eons, it flies to your ears. The saga tells of a Viking longboat setting sail from Islandia, headed for the new world Vineland. Aboard this boat was Olafur the Bloodthirsty, your ancestor. The world feared his savage taste for blood.

By day, he was a mighty warrior; his ax never hesitated. As eventide drew neigh, he reached for a mug of mead, his sticks, and wool. He wove stitches; he garments. He was a master craftsman.  

The legend of his skill flew from ear to ear, near and far. The finest garment he ever wove was a hooded cloak with long tassels he wrapped around his neck--the Islandia Hood. It was handsome in appearance, warm to wear. 

Many offered him power, wealth, love to possess it, but he refused all offers. 

He told his brother, Jens, "None shall have the hood. When I die, I will be dressed in it."

Jens swore he would uphold this wish. Death comes to all. Olafur died bravely on the battlefield. Freya came to claim him. 

Olafur reached up to adjust his hood. His fingers discovered its absence. "Where is it?"

Freya tried to soothe him, tried to persuade him to release what no longer served him but... 

Olafur did not enter Valhalla. He is doomed forever to walk. Greed will not let him rest until he finds his hood. He is an After-Walker. 

(The book mentioned is no longer available)


Wednesday, September 16

A short story about the grandpa I never knew.

Saturday, September 19

A humourous short story inspired by island life

Next Sunday...

Short Story:  Author reading on the radio by Leanne Dyck

This short story recounts the day I traveled from Mayne Island to Salt Spring Island to read a story I wrote on the radio--a short trip but a huge step.

If you're looking for me...

I'm over here...

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Please follow me.

The Scotiabank Giller long-list has been announced. 

Sharing my author journey...

Remember back in March when our world got really small? Well, back then, I needed something to get my mind off of things that were beyond my control and so I...

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Book Review: Runaway (short story collection) by Alice Munro

Writing the end of a story can be challenging. Reading Alice Munro's short story collection Runaway is like attending a master class. 

The ends of each of these eight stories fall like heavyweights in this deeply emotional collection. 

Published by McClelland & Stewart
Published in 2004

Alice Munro has carefully chosen the titles to guide the reader--helping us to focus on what is truly important. 

Clara's neighbour Sylvia describes her as 'Naturally happy'. (p. 18) Sylvia tells her friends 'how the girl's presence had come to mean more and more to her, how an indescribable bond had seemed to grow up between them.' (p. 20) So when Clara breaks down in front of Sylvia, she's eager to find a solution. But... 

Runaway is a captivating read right up to and including the alarming ambiguous end. 

On a long train ride a man sits down to talk to Juliet, but he looks boring. Worried that she'll get stuck with him, Juliet makes up some lame excuse and leaves. This is the first time she has acted out of self-interest. Usually, she lets people like him suck her dry. Not this time. But... 

Is Juliet responsible for what happens to the man? 

To comfort herself, Juliet turns to Eric--a man she meets on the train. Juliet falls for Eric but is there a chance he'll return her emotions?

Juliet's mother is dying. So Juliet takes her thirteen-month-old baby home. But...

Juliet isn't married and she wants to get to the bottom of how her father feels about that.

When Juliet's daughter Penelope is twenty-one years old she goes on a six-month retreat. During her time at the retreat, Penelope has no contact with her mother. After the retreat... 

This story draws to this powerful conclusion...
'She keeps on hoping for a word from Penelope... She hopes as people who know better hope for undeserved blessings.' (p. 158)

Grace is more in love with Maury Travers' family than she is with him. Oblivious, Maury makes plans for their future.
On Thanksgiving, before supper, Grace is outside playing with the Travers' children when she cuts her foot. Neil, Maury's brother, is a doctor. He bandages her foot and takes her to the hospital for an anti-tetanus shot. When Maury comes to pick-up Grace at the hospital, Neil sneaks her out a back way. But...

Due to her free-living parents, Lauren knows things most children her age don't. But there are things she doesn't know--who is her mother? What is her birth story? Where can she find the truth? Can she ever?
This is a complex, heavy story.

As a treat, Joanne travels from her small town to attend a Shakespeare play in Stratford, Ontario. During one of these adventures, Joanne meets a man. She envisions a happily-ever-after-ending. But fate loves to play tricks. 

This short story spans the years between the late 1920s and early 1970s. Nancy's friend Tessa has strange powers. Is it Nancy's responsibility to protect her friend from the world?

Runaway reveals Alice Munro's full power over the short story. She bends, twists, and shapes achieving things only a master can. 

Interested to learn more about author Alice Munro, click this link...

80 Things to Know About Master Short Story Writer Alice Munro

Recordings of Author Readings...

Wednesday, September 9, I plan to record Rainbow Ice Cream 
Saturday, September 12, I plan to record What Matters

Next Sunday...

Short Story:  Lessons in Icelandic
What stories would you tell to introduce your culture to others?

If you're looking for me...

I'm over here...

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About my teeth...