Sunday, January 31, 2021

Book Review: Red Fox Road (MG) (wilderness adventure) by Frances Greenslade

 Won the 2021 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing

Red Fox Road asks the question what do you do when someone you love leaves?

Buy this book

Published by Puffin Canada

an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers

Published in 2020

In March, to celebrate her thirteenth birthday, Frances Fox's parents--Leonard and Adele--give her a wilderness adventure. One early morning in April, the family leave their home in Pentiction, BC to hike the Grand Canyon in Oregon. These plans are upended when their truck stalls leaving them stranded.

Leonard is a mail carrier for Canada Post...

'If there was one thing Dad was good at, he always said, it was walking.' (p. 126)

So he sets off to find help leaving Frances and Adele behind.

This isn't the first time Frances has been left. Her twin sister Phoebe died five and a half years ago. Her beloved grandma died two years ago. Frances's mom Adele has been hospitalized more than once due to mental health crises.

 Frances is a survivor. In the opening scene of Red Fox Road, we see Frances in the backseat of the truck with a survival guidebook open on her lap.

Frances dreams about living in her grandma's cabin on Gem Lake --'like Grandma did, all by herself, all summer long.' (p. 17)

However, Frances soon learns that surviving in the bush requires providing for her basic needs--food, water, shelter--as well as maintaining a positive attitude. Is Frances up for the challenge?

'My mind...can be my best friend or it can be my worst enemy, Fierce Frances said, "Don't hang out with your worst enemy. Who does that? Hang out with your best friend."' (p.96)

Red Fox Road is a hopeful, thoughtful story with a relatable character. Once you start reading you'll root for "Fierce" Frances and won't be able to leave her. Once you start reading Red Fox Road you'll keep flipping those pages until...


February on this blog...

Book Reviews

Two books about being Muslim in North America...

Sunday, February 7

How It All Blew Up

by Arvin Ahmadi

Sunday, February 21

The Parkour Club

by Pam Withers and Arooj Hayat

A Poem and a Short Story

Sunday, February 14

St. Valentine's Day

The Crush (poem)

by Leanne Dyck

Sunday, February 28

Who's Bigger? (short story)

by Leanne Dyck

Virtual Author Readings

Wednesday, February 3

Something Good to Eat (short story)

inspired by Icelandic folklore

Wednesday, February 10

Island Storyteller on Stage (short story)

inspired by my love of reading my writing to a supportive audience

Wednesday, February 17

Storytime (short story)

to celebrate I Read Canada Day

Wednesday, February 24

Ice Angel (short story)

about meeting a magical child on a dark night

Sharing my author journey...

Some times I think, I really have no idea how to write this scene.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Confession (short story) by Leanne Dyck

If you live with your spouse long enough you learn everything about them--right? ...until one stormy night on my island home.

photo by ldyck

A Confession

It was a typical Mayne Island winter. The wind blew; the line snapped, and the power was cut. My husband and I sat at the dining room table, staring at each other through candlelight. We'd just finished a two-hour game of Scrabble. He'd won—of course. Together, we collected the letter tiles and tossed them back into the small blue cloth bag. I drew the cords closed and placed the bag in the game box.

Facing untold hours of nothingness, I grew determined to strike up a conservation. "I don't like yellow."

Henry reached for the magazine that lay abandoned on the table.

Second attempt, "Sarah left Bill."

He stared at me with hard eyes. "Does that concern us?" He flipped open the magazine, skimming from one glossy ad to another.

Some people may have given up at that point, but I didn't. "Listen."


"Look at me. I have to tell you something."

His focus shifted from the half-dressed women straddling the motorcycle to me. "What?" Back to the woman.

"I'm a thief."

"You?" He chuckled. It sounded like a hiccup. "Really?" He flipped a page.

And so I confessed...

Back when I was about eight or maybe nine, my parents took me grocery shopping. In the car, they told me I couldn't have a treat. They explained that it was too close to dinnertime. I told them I understood, but in the store, I couldn't stop thinking about my stomach. It growled and I fantasized about coating my tongue with chocolate; about my teeth crunching the nuts. But I didn't beg. I was determined to comply with their wishes. Silently, I followed my parents to the counter and waited as they paid for the groceries. But then I made a tragic error. I looked over at a shelf full of chocolate bars. I stuffed my hands into my pockets and looked away. But I heard the chocolate bars calling to me. A chocolate bar jumped off the shelf and into my pocket. I tried to put it back on the shelf, but it was stronger and refused to budge. So I had no choice, I carried the bar to the car and climbed into the backseat.

My parents poured praise on me. “You’re such a good girl,” they told me, “You didn’t even ask for a treat.”

The chocolate bar called to me, promising deliciousness and so I unwrapped the bar. I stuffed it into my mouth.

My parents must have heard the tearing, the chewing. They looked at me in the backseat. They froze me in time. They saw my chocolate lipstick. Their disappointment was thick, suffocating. “You need to go back into that store and confess what you’ve done.”

I begged them to go with me, but they refused.

In a fog of shame, fear, I stood in front of the grocer. "I'm a bad girl," I told him and tears slid down my face. "I stole a chocolate bar."

Maybe it was my tears... Maybe it was my honesty... Whatever it was, he gave me a yo-yo.

The pages of the magazine flew in the air like bird wings and landed on the table. "You got a toy for stealing?"


"And so began your life of crime."

"It did actually. You know those pork chops we had for supper? I stole them. But I only steal what I...what we need." I gestured at the window. "Like those curtains." I ran my hand across the table. "And this tablecloth." I stood and directed his attention to my sweater, my pants, and my socks.

In a hushed tone, he asked, "You stole everything?"

I'd clearly upset him but...

The corners of his mouth slowly formed a smile. He began to laugh.

"I'm not trying to be funny. I stole all of it—even you. I knew you were dating someone else when we met."

He placed his hands on the table, leaned forward, and glared at me like he was a judgeme a criminal. "Prudence, this has to stop. Now!"

"I know. I know," I told him.

He didn't need to know that I'd deposited an 'E' letter tile into my pocket. I was certain that I would need it the next time we played.

Wednesday, January 27

Virtual Author Reading

The pitter-patter of little feet

What do you do when a dream dies?

Sunday, January 31

Book Review

Red Fox Road

a wilderness adventure story for readers of middle grade fiction

photo by ldyck

Are you following me?

Linked In

photo by ldyck
Click on the picture to embolden. It's worth it to see a seagull scrolling across the road that leads to the ferry terminal--only on Mayne Island (BC), my island home. 

How the seagull crossed the road...? No, why the seagull crossed the road...? No, wait. Oh, yeah.

Sharing my author journey...

I wasn't sure what else to do with this so I thought I'd share it with you... 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

West Meadows Detectives: The Case of the Berry Burglars written by Liam O'Donnell illustrated by Aurelie Grand (mystery)

 Someone has been stealing strawberry plants, but don't worry the West Meadows Detectives--Myron and Hajrah--are on the case in this first chapter mystery.

Published by Owlkids Books

Published in 2020

The reader is introduced to the crime when Hajrah arrives at school and leads Myron (the protagonist) over 'to the far side of the yard.' (p. 9) The school garden has been damaged and not only that but strawberry plants have been stolen. Simone, the senior student in charge of the strawberry plants, becomes their client.

Myron and Simone learn that they have something in common. They are both autistic. For this is not only a mystery but the story also serves to increase the awareness and understanding of autism.

Young readers learn that people with autism don't like changes to their routines and feel, as Myron explains, like their senses are 'on overload all the time.' (p. 59)

Readers also learn that some people with autism use gardening to help them cope with daily stressors.

This story has a well-developed plot and employs writing techniques to ensure a positive reading experience. For example, Myron reviewing the case with Hajrah is a good way to share information with the reader. Reviewing the case also helps to summarize what has happened in the story. Chapter ten ends with a cliffhanger which gives the reader yet another reason to keep reading. My only concern is that the overabundance of characters in this book may be confusing for some readers.

West Meadows Detectives:  The Case of the Berry Burglars is an engaging and intriguing mystery. And the best news yet, it's part of a series.

Wednesday, January 20

Online Author Reading...

photo by ldyck

Byron Did

a poem in praise of poetry


What do you think I should record?

You input is encouraged, welcomed and appreciated.

Sunday, January 24

Short Story

photo by ldyck

A Confession

If you live with your spouse long enough you'll learn everything about them--right?

photo by ldyck

Are you following me?

Linked In

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Last week I stopped writing my manuscript and the world fell apart

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Writing Stories (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Something lurks in my bedroom. I'm unaware of it until... Da-da-da

photo by ldyck

Writing Stories

I was reading in my bedroom the first time I heard it. I thought I was alone but...

"Hello." I leaped in the air, about a foot off my bed. There was no one there--that I could see.

"Hello?" The voice wasn't coming from the kitchen or living room or any other part of the house. It was close. The voice was in my bedroom with me.

"It's just my imagination," I told myself and returned to my book.


I felt silly, but I asked, "Is someone...something... Are you here?"

"Of course, I'm here. This is my home."

I hid behind my pillow. "Are you...?" I gulped. "Are you a...a...? Are you a ghost?"

"No, silly." It giggled. "I'm alive."

That giggling comforted me. "Where are you?"

"Look in the top drawer of your desk."

"The top drawer of my desk?" Now I knew my brother was playing a trick on me. I knew what was in that drawer--a walkie-talkie or a tape recorder or a cell phone or a...

I opened the drawer. All I saw was a pen.

"Where are you?" I asked. "I can't see you."

"Yes, you can, silly." It giggled. "My name is Pen. Pick me up. I have amazing stories to tell you. You're a writer."

"Me? I'm not..."

"Oh, yes, you are."

And that's how it happened. That's how I began to write stories.

Wednesday, January 13

Virtual Author Reading

This short story was inspired by my writing journey.

(by popular demand. Thank you for your input. This is fun.)

Sunday, January 17
Book Review

West Meadows Detectives
The Case of the Berry Burglars
written by Liam O'Donnell
illustrated by Aurelie Grand

a first chapter book

Are you following me?

photo by ldyck

Sharing my author journey...

Current Manuscript
Word Count:  24,633 words
Goal:  40,000+

We're on the home stretch now

This week as I worked on my manuscript, my muse softly whispered, "Remember, Leanne, 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Guest Post: Karen McBride (writer/illustrator)

 Of all the books I reviewed in 2020, Crow Winter by Karen McBride earned the most page views. And so I invited Karen McBride to be a guest on my blog. I loved reading Crow Winter and I look forward to learning more about Karen McBride...

Karen McBride

How/why did you start to write?

I've always been drawn to writing. When I was a kid, my friends and I would create very elaborate pretend worlds with vivid and dramatic storylines that pretty much consumed our lives to the point where we'd get in trouble in class for continuing games started at recess. As I got older, playing "pretend" wasn't really an option anymore so I drifted into writing fan-fiction and then on to my own fiction from there. Creating worlds, characters, lives, and lore has always been a huge passion of mine -- one that I hope to continue. 

-How did you become an author?

Honestly, I still feel strange calling myself an author. It still doesn't quite feel real. But I suppose my journey to getting published began when I took a writing workshop during my undergrad. I got the chance to work with Andre Alexis and he saw something in me that I didn't even think was possible. I still remember how excited I was the first time he told me my writing was good enough to be published; I screamed in the elevator after leaving his office! 

From there I found my way to the Masters of English in the Field of Creative Writing program at the University of Toronto and was matched with the uncomparable Susan Swan as my mentor, who also believed strongly in my work. Then I suppose I sort of just fell into it. Not without any shortage of hard work though! 
-What did you do before writing full-time? Did it help your writing, how?

I'm trained as an intermediate/junior teacher, so I've worked teaching grades 5, 7, and 8. I think being a teacher really helped me to understand how people -- not just kids! -- learn and experience their world. This knowledge has allowed me to better hone my characters and shape their motivations. 

-What inspires you to write?

I write for Indigenous Peoples. I write stories that show our joy as well as our hardships. There's no shortage of stories that delve into the tragedies of our collective past, so I want to write books that play with our present and our future. I want to create characters that kids from the Rez can see themselves in and can be proud of. So I guess, in a way, I write for that little kid who played wild games of pretend at recess, in her backyard, and beyond. 

-Reflect on your writing process

I feel like my writing process is very haphazard nowadays. I write whenever I can find time, but I tend to write on weekends for the most part and even then not consistently. However, when I do carve out time for writing, I'll clear off my desk, light a candle, find some music that fits the tone of the piece I'm working on and dive in.

-I was very impressed with your novel Crow Winter--especially with the many-layered plot and beautiful imaginary. Please share tips that may help me develop these aspects in my own writing...

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the novel. I love the natural world and representing it in my work, so a lot of my writing will be steeped in earth imagery and teachings. I suppose my tip for achieving this sort of thing would be to be present in the world that's around you. Notice big things like the way the wind sounds in the trees in your backyard or in the park near your house. Notice little things like the taste of fresh honey in a cup of tea.  

-What are you currently working on?

A few things. Some nonfiction, some new art, and a new novel. Lots of magic, some mystery, and, of course, Indigenous truths. Stay tuned!

-Please share advice for new authors

Read, listen to, and watch as much as you can. I find creativity is sparked in me when I see the brilliant creativity of others.