Gene’s Jealousy – Why Do You Write?

I often wonder why writers write. What was it that brought you to the place of writing?

When I try to answer this question myself, so many moments in my early reading life come to mind. From Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women to Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids. But I always rush forward in my reading trajectory to a boy on the outstretched limb of a tree, being caught off guard when his friend gives the branch the slightest jostle, sending him crashing to the ground beneath.

Looking back, I now see that moment of I WANT TO BE A WRITER forever entwined–entangled?–with Gene’s jealousy of the almighty perfect-in-every-way Phineas.

Though some of the themes in John Knowles’s of A Separate Peace hold no interest to me whatsoever (I always shy away from any story centered around war and sports are, well impenetrable and uninteresting), it is the relationship between these two main characters that enthralled me so much. From the first pages of this story, I could see what the writer was doing. It was as though I was locked into the story while at the same time capable of bearing witness to the scaffolding behind the story. The scaffolding, in this case, was a simmering jealousy that was effortlessly displayed by the author through the narrator’s gaze. This jealousy boiled throughout the story more powerfully than a screaming tea kettle. I was fascinated by the way the author was manipulating the reader. I wanted to do that. Such duplicity, and such a way of making me, the reader, feel solidarity simultaneously with both characters.

The way Gene, right from the beginning of the story, prayed for his best friend’s failure and comeuppance. And assumed–wrongly, because he was incapable of thinking in any way other than his own–that Finny felt the same way about him.

That relationship and the way it thrilled me as a young reader, that right there was what I wanted to capture as a writer. I savored that moment Gene realized Finny had not a scrap of jealousy for him…that Finny actually wished nothing but the best for him and was, in fact incapable of thinking mean things about him! That was such a sharp slap, such a quick burn to Gene’s psyche. The way Gene tried to fit Finny’s thinking into the way he himself thought was so telling! And that moment it all came crashing down and Gene realized he was just a mean person whereas Finny was incapable of meanness? It was such a fascinating look into friendships and the duplicitous simmerings that sometimes boiled just beneath the surface of them. By making the narrator, Gene, a small, arrogant, mean, and jealous person, John Knowles started me off on my path to wanting to be a writer.

What’s your Writer Origin Story? I know it’s never as simple as one thing. There’s always this leads to this, leads to this, leads to this, leads to this. It’s kind of like in Stephen King’s book The Tommyknockers. Remember? When Bobbi Anderson was walking with her dog, Peter, in the woods and one of her elderly hiking boots fetched up against something…fetched up hard? She thought it was a tree root until she saw a gleam of metal. Roughly three inches…just enough to trip over. Then she thought it might be a tin can. As she began to dig it out, her thoughts went to bigger and bigger possibilities. A piece of logging equipment? A car? If you read The Tommyknockers, then you know what Bobbi found was much much bigger than a car. Like a sliver of the world’s biggest iceberg, that three inches she tripped over was just the beginning of the colossus she would uncover.

What made you trip over writing? It’s hard to pinpoint that magical moment, but if you think about it, you’ll find it. I might answer differently on another day. I may dig a little deeper to unearth more and realize that it was not Gene’s jealousy and smallmindedness that made that final click with me. But today, that’s what I’ve uncovered. My origin story. Jealousy is as good a reason as any, I suppose. All the emotions fascinate writers, don’t they?


Find my books here: MY AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Where is My Ending – Where is Ethan Sinclair…

When we were young, it was such an easy fix to go from malaise to happy. “When your get up and go has got up and went…”

One merely had to reach for a hunk of cheese.

When you’re an old writer who just can’t seem to find their way anymore, there’s more to it. I’ve been trying for the past year to restart my writing life. It’s been all but dead, to be honest. I thought that reading all the right books would be the cure, but nope. I thought that reading my own works would help, but nope. I thought that sitting down and forcing myself to write would help, but nope. I thought that editing my work would help, but nope. I long for the days when everything would be fixed by a good ole hunk of cheese. Those were the days.

I have a deadline with my next (ALREADY CONTRACTED) novel. In truth, I’m over a year past my deadline. My publisher is being really supportive in even allowing me to still strive for a submission date sometime in the uncertain future. Charitable doesn’t begin to describe it. I have been struggling to figure out how to finish this book for 2 years. With no end in sight.

I keep going back to the beginning and editing my way through to figure out an escape, an ending. The struggle is REAL.

Where is Ethan Sinclair. That’s the name of the novel. I don’t f*cking know!? That’s the problem. Where is my ending?! I need an ending. This book is literally killing my desire to write. It’s STOPPING me from beginning other projects, thus completely murdering my writing path. I am now a writer who keeps circling back to the beginning of the novel that won’t tell me its ending.

How’s your writing life going? How about this pandemic?! Really not a good thing for creatives, is it?

Where is my ending?

I think I’ll go and eat some cheese…


If you want, you can pick up my latest book…I wrote it myself, back when I was a writer!


Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not. It’s bought and paid for and there are no returns. The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape. Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from a previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet teen also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the book of dreams.

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press Print | Chicago Review Press Ebook | Barnes & Noble | Interlude Press | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | IndieBound | Blackwell’s | Booktopia | Book Depository | APPLE Books | Goodreads

And, hey, stay tuned…WHERE IS ETHAN SINCLAIR just might find a way to end itself. Watch for it (hopefully) in 2023…if there is a god.



It’s #IReadCanadianDay and, HEY, I’m CANADIAN!

Today’s the day! You can read my books today while participating in #IReadCanadianDay. LKF— I’m Canadian! Yes, some of my books are published in USA, but I assure you I am 100% Canadian. Born and raised in and around Toronto, I also spent as much of my childhood summers as was allowed in New Brunswick. Full on Canadian.

So make today the day you pick up one of my books!

Eight titles to choose from! In order of publication, they are, SUMMER ON FIRE, SEBASTIAN’S POET, THE REASONS, BURN BABY BURN BABY, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN, PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, THE CAMINO CLUB, and most recently, BOOK OF DREAMS.

I will share my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE HERE. But you can purchase a few of these titles wherever books are sold. Easiest to get your hands on are THE CAMINO CLUB and BOOK OF DREAMS, which you can pick up wherever books are sold. I’ll add here that the ebook for THE CAMINO CLUB is currently on sale for just under or just over one dollar, depending on the country you shop from.

Guess what?! Americans can also participate in #IReadCanadian day! Here’s the American AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE. And if you’re in the UK, here’s the UK AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE.


Read Canadian today! If not me, another Canadian author out there will also appreciate the read! Learn more about I READ CANADIAN DAY HERE. “I Read Canadian Day is a new nationwide initiative that celebrates the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature. Taking place for the third year on November 2, 2022, this celebration will empower families, schools, libraries, bookstores and organizations to host activities and events by reading Canadian books for just fifteen minutes. For more information, visit and sign up for free to participate. Help get the word out on social media by following @IReadCanadian and using the hashtag #IReadCanadian.”

Haunting Stories a Blast AND a Reminder that Writing Community is Essential!

Last night was the “HAUNTING STORIES WITH LOCAL AUTHORS AT TOWN HALL 1873” event at the Port Perry Townhall 1873 Theatre. So much fun!

From left to right: Tobin Elliott, Connie Di Pietro, Kevin Craig, M-E Girard

I really enjoyed reading an excerpt from my latest young adult novel, Book of Dreams. There was a great supportive crowd of listeners there to hear the 5 authors read from their latest novels.

It was also amazing to see my fellow writers. We all realized how much we’ve been missing literary events and each other. Until just prior to the pandemic, the writing community in the area was vital and vibrant. In fact, it was a creative lifeline for a great many writers…myself included. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was once again around my people last night.

The other four author/readers, as they appeared last night…

The Author: Tobin Elliott, reading from both Bad Blood and Out for Blood, the first two of his 6-book series.
The Book.


The Author: Maighread MacKay, reading from Murder at Mother’s, Book 2 of her Lake Scugog Mystery Series.
The Book.
The Author: Jordan Murray, reading from her novel, I Did it For You.
The Book.
The Author: Connie Di Pietro, reading from In the Shadow of the Stones, Book 1 of her 3 book series The Shadow Witches in Time.
The Book.

All of these four readers did tremendous jobs! You could tell by the hushed leaned-forward attitudes of all those in attendance, that they held a captive audience. Such great readings!

Here’s some purchase links for those authors in attendance and participating in the reading:


Amazon Canada

Amazon USA


Amazon Canada

Amazon USA


Amazon Canada

Amazon USA


Amazon Canada

Amazon USA

In the audience last night was Girl Mans Up author M-E Girard! It was M-E who brought up the need of community that we have been missing since the writing community of Durham Region (WCDR) events slowed down in the pandemic years. We all mourned the loss of our creative community gatherings and opened a discussion for getting back together and reigniting that spark.

M-E has a new book coming out in just a couple of months! On the heels of the highly successful Girl Mans Up, look for their highly anticipated sophomore novel THEN EVERYTHING HAPPENS AT ONCE…coming January 31st, 2023!

Click the image below:

All in all, it was a fun night! It was good to be back in the literary lane for a bit! Hopefully we’ll get together for some writing in the future. It would be great to get back to some of that creative energy that came about from being around the WCDR crowd!

(Proceeds from this event went to the theatre’s Reshaping The Future fundraising campaign.)

Book of Dreams Featured at!

My latest young adult novel Book of Dreams made an appearance at yesterday! In the article from Alex Brown titled Mean Girl Werewolves and Evil Arcade Games: The Thrill of Queer YA Horror, Brown called Book of DreamsCreepy and disconcerting and wonderfully queer.

Here’s the link to the article: BOOK OF DREAMS featured in TOR.COM

I’m so thrilled my novel shared space with some of this year’s most anticipated reads! What an honour!

The Book.

If you haven’t picked up BOOK OF DREAMS yet, you can get a copy wherever books are sold! Here are a few links for the paperback/ebook:

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press Print | Chicago Review Press Ebook | Barnes & Noble | Interlude Press | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | IndieBound | Blackwell’s | Booktopia | Book Depository | APPLE Books

You can also pick up an audiobook copy, narrated by the phenomenal CJ Heineman!

Some Audiobook Links:

KOBO USA | KOBO CANADA | KOBO UK | Audible Canada | Amazon USA | Amazon Canada



The Year of Reading Dangerously

This writer just spent most of their year READING. Don’t come here and tell me that reading is not a part of the writing process, because I promise if you do I will slap you. But also, I should have found at least some time to devote to writing during this manic year of reading. It was definitely a year of reading dangerously…

But I do feel the return of writing. It’s there. About to burst forth from the shadows. And just in time. I’m way overdue on the deadline for my next contracted novel. I just… somewhere in the back of my mind I knew how important the heavy reading was this year. I was getting reacquainted with words, if that makes any sense. The dry-spell was a refueling time. I needed to read all of these books in order to get back into writing.

My Goodreads Challenge for 2022 was set at an impossible (for me) goal of 30 books.

Today, I just closed the cover on book number seventy-five for 2022. Looking back at my choices, I can really see how much Paris was in my thoughts this year. Having returned from my favourite city in October, 2021, I was ready to devour any and all books I could find based on, set in, about all things Paris. I began with two books I picked up at Shakespeare & Company prior to leaving the city of light.

But I also had a strong drive this year to read memoir. I jumped from musicians to actors to comedians to everyday people with a life story to tell. I’ve always been a huge fan of memoir. I’ve even dabbled in short memoir pieces in my writing life. I’ve had memoir appear in Globe & Mail, and I also recorded memoir that aired on CBC Radio 1. I really fall hard for memoir as a reader.

The books below are my 2022 reads. The first one pictured was my last read and the last one pictured was my first read of 2022. I’m reeling at the moment, realizing how many of the anxieties and fears I share with serial memoirist Augusten Burroughs. Wow…it was shocking and eye-opening. I’m not the only catatrophist in the world, constantly imagining the worst case scenario and taking situations to dire endings in my imagination at every turn. A passage in Lust & Wonder about his worry of losing his dogs if they were unleashed could have literally be written by me. I know this scenario has played out in my mind time and time again. Spooky!

Anyway, for what it’s worth…I read SO many books so far this year. I consider this an amazing accomplishment. I always hated the speed with which I read. I see other people reading two or three or more books in the time it takes me to read just one.

This year, I needed to lose myself in reading. I knew there was something going on with my writer side… I needed some kind of refueling that wasn’t happening with a forced doubling down on writing. I knew I had to surround myself with words. And that is exactly what I did. I even threw in a couple Natalie Goldbergs, as she helped me in my writing life so many times over the years. Such a great year for reading!

What did you read this year? Any must-reads?



Porto – Before and After the Camino! Part 2: After

We thought we would be returning from the Camino bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We were wrong. All three of us had foot issues. There wasn’t a non-limper among us. But we were still up for continuing our adventures in Porto. Maybe just a little more slowly…

The Half Rabbit! Little ole’ me at the Half Rabbit, R. de Santa M.nha 5-39, 4400-290 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.


  • Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Half Rabbit
  • Port Wine Tasting
  • Eat With
  • Livraria Lello
  • Burmester
  • 6-Bridge Douro River Boat Tour
  • Douro Valley Wine Tour

One of the first things on this nerd’s list was the HALF RABBIT! I just had to see it! In person!

We walked across the bridge and entered the world of Gaia. The Douro separates the city of Porto from the city of Gaia. And we quickly found out that Gaia was just as happening a place as Porto! It was in Gaia that I needed to find my half rabbit.

If you look at the pic above, you’ll see just how huge this sculpture truly is. I can hardly see myself in the photo. I wanted it for perspective. This rabbit is HUGE. Ever since I first discovered the Half Rabbit, it has fascinated me. It’s made from trash and recycled goods collected by the city of Gaia. Created by Portuguese artist Bordallo II (animal art out of repurposed materials is their thing), the Half Rabbit serves as a critique of society’s wasteful ways. I think it’s fair to say it’s also a call to sustainability.

Makes you think. It’s beautiful, but it really makes one think about the amount of trash we accumulate, the landfills filling up all over the world.

The Half Rabbit is in the same neighbourhood as all the Port wine companies that dot the riverside on the Gaia side of the Douro. Our next stop, of course, was a quick tasting…

You can get tastings at various different restaurant patios in Gaia. This one we had was 5 for 5 Euros deal, which, come on…is exceptional value. You really can’t beat that. And the Port was fantastic.

On to the next thing! Wherever you go in the world, do yourself a favour and check out what’s happening there on EATWITH. Eatwith have everyday people in the cities you visit offering to host you at their house for a meal. It’s also a great place to check out other eating related events in the area you’re staying, like food tours and special offers, etc. I’ve been excited to try them for a while now. I was not disappointed! We booked an evening called THE PORTO STORIES: ON CITY, COD AND PORT with hosts Manuel and Jelena. Our hosts were entertaining and gracious. They made a fabulous meal and told wonderful stories about their city, cod, and much more. It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, accompanied by wonderful food and drink. So glad we booked it! Wherever you go, if EATWITH is available in the area, you will find so many interesting things to do. Check it out!

My only wish is that we had given ourselves another day to recuperate from our recent travels prior to booking this evening. We were all walking zombies by the time we arrived at Manuel and Jelena’s house. We thoroughly enjoyed it, but the exhaustion had us dragging a bit at the end of the evening.

The next day…drumroll please! The moment I’d been waiting for! Livraria Lello! Such a beautiful interior in this historic bookstore. And I had only been able to see it on Instagram and YouTube. I’m a huge fan of bookstores in general, and if you’ve read any of this blog you will know I have a favourite and that it’s in Paris and a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame. But this one? I’ve been dying to get inside.

Even if you book a time online prior to your arrival, you’re going to have to wait in a line. The frenzy to get into this one is even more grand scale than it is at Shakespeare & Company.
An historic plaque outside the bookstore.
The stained glass ceiling. “Decus in Labore”, which means “Dignity in Work”

The store, as seen from above at the top of the staircase.
It was almost impossible to get a shot that wasn’t a little bit blurred. It was constant motion in that store. Such a different vibe than Shakespeare & Company. People are here to SEE the store. People are at Shakespeare to FEEL the store.

Bookstore selfie!

It was a wonderful store and I grabbed a couple of books. One for myself as a souvenir and one for the grandboys because that’s what I do…I buy them books.

I got myself a special Livraria Lello edition of one of my favourite books, Gatsby.

After the bookstore, we decided we were not yet finished with Gaia. We had a Port wine tour booked and we needed some lunch. The riverside on the Porto side is filled with restaurant patios. But it’s good to remember that so is the riverside on the Gaia side. We had seen some nice restaurants over there and wanted to give them a go!

First! It was time to once again attempt to save the world. I did this in Lisbon in 2019 and nothing seemed to happen. Thought I’d try again…

Off to Gaia!

A quick stop at the FANTASTIC WORLD OF PORTUGUESE CAN made me realize maybe us Canadians don’t put enough stock into our canned goods?

Oh, and did I mention the Casa Portuguesa Pastel Bacalhau? Once you’ve had one of these lovelies, you will understand the need to have a huge emporium erected just to showcase their yummy goodness. Step inside and have a bite! There’s a LOT to see in Gaia!

For lunch, I highly recommend Faberninha do Manel.

I’m not going to suggest which of the plethora of Port cellars in Gaia you should visit. Do the research and decide which one you should go to. Or go to two or three or many. It’s up to you. We chose Burmester, which is the first one you come to after you cross the bridge from Porto (it’s right at the foot of the bridge if you cross over on the bottom span). The tour guide was lovely and we had a great time.

We arranged our Burmester tour with the 6-bridge Douro River boat tour. Get both together in a package with a discount.

The 6-bridge tour was next and we had to return to the Porto side for that. It was nice…I’m glad we did it. It wasn’t the Seine, but it was well worth it for the experience.

The last planned event on our itinerary was an all-day affair. We booked a tour of the Douro Valley that included lunch, a vineyard tour and tasting, and a boat-ride. Before we even set out, I have to say I was feeling a bit over-vacationed. I think we were all feeling a little exhausted and warn out, but we kept on trucking. This was to be a highlight of our trip.

Only, it wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great. We just didn’t anticipate how mind-numbingly over it we were when it came to travelling. By travelling, I mean…we spent a lot of our day in a bus. Do the tour. It’s great, really. But be prepared for bus time.

The Douro Valley is beautiful, and worth seeing. Maybe do it at the beginning of your trip when you’re still fresh.

Photos from our day in the Douro Valley:

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For all intents and purposes, that was the end of our Porto (and beyond) adventures. We had the next morning, but then we were off. It was time to return home to Canada.

These were just a few of the things you can do while in Porto. It’s an amazing city and it shouldn’t be overlooked when planning your European vacation.


Porto – Before and After the Camino! Part One: Before

As the city of Porto is one of the beginning points of the Caminho Português, we decided to stay a couple of days here prior to setting out on our Caminho. We would check out the city a bit while getting over the flight and adjusting to the time change. We stayed at Hotel Peninsular. It seemed to be in the heart of the city, but far enough away from the river that we wouldn’t be gauged for the views.


  • São Bento Train Station
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Sandemans Free Tour
  • Francesinha
  • Livraria Lello
  • Dom Luís I Bridge
  • Centro Portugues de Fotografia


Turned out it was about three minutes away from one of the places on our Porto bucket list. The São Bento Train Station was just down the street.

The station’s walls and ceilings are covered with 22,000 tiles – azulejos – by Jorge Colaço, painter, caricaturist and potter. It has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful stations in the world.

It was a nice surprise to accidentally stumble upon the station immediately after leaving the hotel.

It really is quite stunning. And finding it just like that gave us hope that the rest of the city would just as easily open up to us. And it did.

Once we oohed and awed over the gorgeous tile work inside the station, we were ready to continue our First Day walk. And right outside the doors of the station, Porto Cathedral (Sé do Porto) came into view! It was just another short walk away. This historic cathedral is the starting point of the Caminho if one is starting in Porto (you can actually begin the Caminho Português in Lisbon). There’s a rough and confusing history of the Roman Catholic Cathedral itself, but if you dig for it you will find that they broke ground on it in 1110 and it was completed in 1737. But you will also notice that there were changes well into the 1700s, the 1800s, and the 1900s. Not quite the work in progress at the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, which has literally been under construction since the mid 1800s and is not yet completed. Porto Cathedral is more of a fixer upper project that has undergone changes. Whether you’re in Porto for the Camino or as a tourist specifically to see the city, you shouldn’t miss the cathedral.

A quick heads up, though. This is not your typical cathedral. It would not be difficult to get turned around and find yourself lost in and around this sprawling cathedral.

We toured around the periphery for a while, climbing stairs, coming out into courtyards, finding room after room to explore. We even found a tower to climb up into, where we discovered the first of many perfect locations to find the breathtaking views of the city we discovered on social media prior to our visit.

We arrived in this location from a series of walkways and stairs found within the cathedral.
The cathedral quickly became a series of arches, stairs, and passageways…each opening onto something new and exciting. Finally, we found a tower to climb…

The views from the tower made us excited to get down there, and into the city…into the lively riverside neighbourhood we already knew to be bustling with excitement… but we hadn’t even seen the ‘church’ part of the cathedral yet. Where was the narthex, the nave, the transepts, the apse, the ambulatory, where was the ‘church’ in all of this rambling architecture?

A few more twists and turns, and we were there. And then it was time to continue our walk throughout the city. Our First Day walk of discovery. The city was opening up and letting us in. It was so much more than a starting point on an adventure that would have us walking away from it. I was glad we had decided to spend a few days here AFTER our Camino was over. You can tell at first glance that a day or two wouldn’t be enough time to give to Portugal’s second largest city.

We quickly got ourselves down to the river, where we knew we would find places to eat. We were famished.

It was time to finally try the sandwich created in Porto and made internet famous on YouTube and Instagram. It was francesinha time! After watching YouTubers diving into this sandwich for months on end while researching the city, it was finally our turn! 

What is the francesinha sandwich? Ham, steak, two types of homemade sausage, bologna, and cheese between two thick layers of bread. It’s often topped with a fried egg. THEN it’s smothered in a beer gravy and served surrounded by fries. Basically, it’s literal heart-attack on a plate…and worth the trip to Porto for. I don’t even like steak!

Plus, whatever outdoor patio you choose to eat at…you’ll have a great view of Dom Luís I Bridge and the Douro River. Built from 1881 to 1886, this double-decker bridge is a gorgeous work of art…and the views from the top are stunning (just be careful when you get up there–the city metro line crosses through the centre of the open top span…right beside the pedestrians…without a safety barrier between them)!

There is a lot to see in Porto. Having just arrived from our trans-Atlantic flight, though, we were ready to call it a night. One more day of discovery ahead of us before waking up the following morning and heading out on our journey along the coast and up into Spain.

Does every city in the world have these signs now?
Just a quick walk past Livraria Lello this time! We would save the inside for after our Camino, when we were back in the city for a longer period of time!
Clérigos Tower. We never did go inside, but quite the sight to see it.

It was in this neighbourhood, near the Clérigos Tower, that we found a fun free museum. It was a building just standing there with the door open. I had to walk inside, I had to see what it was…

Centro Portugues de Fotografia

It was the museum of photography, and it was absolutely free to enter. The Portuguese Centre of Photography is found inside an old prison, and it has a spectacular collection of cameras dating back to the 19th century.

It’s rather foreboding as you enter in past the reception, all cells and iron bars and repression. But it opens up into several floors of fascinating photographic memorabilia! If you love cameras, it’s a MUST SEE stop on your Porto visit. FREE!

Wherever we are in Europe (Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, etc), we plan for at least ONE Sandemans tour, the FREE one. We’ve never been disappointed. It gives you a great sense of the city you’re visiting, the tour guides are ALWAYS spectacular, and they give you an overview of the paying tours that they have on offer. Please note that the FREE tour is technically free…but that tipping the guides is encouraged. Once you finish your tour, no matter the city, you will happily tip your guide. PORTO FREE TOUR.

The guide walked us throughout the city, entertaining us with historical facts and showing us some of the awesome little side-streets and architecture.

We enjoyed the FREE tour so much, we booked for another tour immediately following it with the same guide. This one cost a nominal fee, and took you through a different part of the city. We always want to see as much as we can!

We ended our second day by the river, with food and drink…

In the morning, we would leave for our Camino adventure. We had a really good sense of the city we would return to after our Camino adventure was over. We still had a huge Porto bucket list, but it would have to wait a couple of weeks for our return!






A New Author Event! Haunting Stories with local authors at Town Hall 1873

I will be taking part in an author reading event in Port Perry, Ontario, on Sunday October 30th! And all for a good cause, too! Really looking forward to this one! It’s at the beautiful Port Perry Town Hall Theatre and proceeds from the event go to benefit the Town Hall 1873 “Reshaping the Future” fundraising campaign!

From the website:

“Haunting Stories with local authors at Town Hall 1873”

Sunday, October 30th in the theatre.

Time: 7 – 9pm

Price: $15 – General Admission

The following local authors will take the stage to read parts of their hauntingly dark novels that will raise the hairs on the back of your necks, after which, you’ll get the chance to meet and chat with the authors who’ll have their books for sale:

Connie Di Pietro

Tobin Elliott

Jordan Murray

Kevin Craig

Maighread MacKay

Proceeds to benefit the Town Hall 1873 “Reshaping the Future” fundraising campaign.

I will have a few copies of BOOK OF DREAMS (DUET BOOKS, the YA imprint of CHICAGO REVIEW PRESS) for sale at the event, and I look forward to reading from this latest of my novels and chatting with the audience!

Hope to see you there!

To learn more about RESHAPING THE FUTURE, click HERE.

For tickets to the HAUNTING STORIES event in Port Perry, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about the book I’ll be reading from, read below:


Gaige’s curiosity gets the better of him when he discovers a bookstore on an abandoned street where no bookstore should be. He steps inside and is immediately enthralled by its antiquarian sights and smells. But one book in particular calls to him. It isn’t long before he gets a bad feeling about it, but it’s already too late. The store’s aged bookseller gives him no alternative: once he touches the book, it’s his—whether he wants it or not. It’s bought and paid for and there are no returns. The book leads Gaige on a horrific descent into the unknown. As he falls into the depths of its pages, he loses blocks of time, and his friends become trapped inside ancient cellars with seemingly no means of escape. Gaige soon learns that the ancient bookseller is a notorious serial killer from a previous century, and fears that he has fallen into a predicament from which he may not escape. When all seems lost, he finds the one person he can turn to for help—Mael, a sweet teen also trapped inside the book who didn’t fall for the bookseller’s tricks. Together, they race against time to protect Gaige from joining a long string of boys who vanished without a trace inside the book of dreams.

You can buy BOOK OF DREAMS wherever books are sold. Here’s some purchase links:

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press Print | Chicago Review Press Ebook | Barnes & Noble | Interlude Press | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | IndieBound | Blackwell’s | Booktopia | Book Depository | APPLE Books | Goodreads

You can also listen to BOOK OF DREAMS on AUDIOBOOK.

Narrated by CJ HEINEMAN


KOBO USA | KOBO CANADA | KOBO UK | Audible Canada | Amazon USA | Amazon Canada


There’s Something About Paris – Remembering the City…One Year Out.

It’s been almost a year now since we last visited Paris. An entire year! Each time I go, it becomes more dear to my heart. More than any other of my sacred places in this world, Paris is the closest to my heart. I know, without even contemplating it all that much, that I could live there in an instant.

Hamming it up atop the Arc de Triomphe at the end of Av. des Champs-Élysées, Paris, France. (Oct. 2021)

Despite my oft repeated promise to myself that I would not visit a place more than once because there are too many places to visit, I find myself planning for the next Paris trip. Having just returned from there in October, 2021, we are indeed going back in 2023.

Paris truly is a moveable feast!

What we saw of beyond the city last year has me wanting to tour the entire country of France. Even as I dream of my next hike on the Camino de Santiago, I consider the pilgrimage path known as Chemin du Puy. Le Puy looks as stunning as the rest of France. To begin a walk in Le Puy-en-Velay? The mere idea is dreamlike. Walking through all those tiny French towns? Heaven.

I guess all of France has me. I’m still living the memories of our quick visit to Giverny to visit Monet’s home and gardens. Even in October, the blooms were plentiful. The house was a fairy-tale one can easily imagine falling into and never leaving.

Monet’s kitchen…a wonder of its own.
Just to peek out a window in Monet’s house, to see what he saw? The colours of the rainbow. It was sheer magic!
Though not in Paris, I cannot think of Paris without also thinking about the fascinating locations just a short ride away from the City of Light.

In 2023 we plan on staying in the Marais. We merely skirted this historic district of Paris during our 2021 visit. With so much to see, you always miss something…you always have a reason to go back.

We raced to see all that we could in the week we allotted ourselves to see it. From my favourite neighbourhood of Montmartre…

…to my favourite bookstore in all the world, Shakespeare & Company…

The facade of the world famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore (the second incarnation).
Shakespeare’s cat…

There’s just something about Paris. I feel comfortable there, more myself. The way it’s a walkable city, the way it’s a city of cafes and museums and art galleries. The way even the dead have their place and relevance… significance. The way a bonjour is expected and a picnic is encouraged. The way history can be found in layers upon layers as you walk its streets. It’s just fully mine in a way that no other city is.

Paris is a city that belongs fully and completely to all of its adoring fans. It is so multifaceted that there’s enough to go around, enough for everyone to love and feel a special connection to. There are as many Parises as there are people who adore Paris. Or, without bastardizing the English language by attempting to pluralize Paris, your Paris is different from my Paris.

We’re currently planning all the things we will visit that we missed–or walked right past–on our last visit. But we’ll definitely be revisiting a lot of places. There are places in Paris that I can’t imagine not visiting every single time I’m there.

These must visit places include, but are not limited to, Shakespeare & Company, Rue Saint Louis en l’île, the Tuileries, Jardin du Luxembourg, and more. These are necessary places in my Paris. Even the overpriced La Closerie des Lilas feels like a necessary stop for me. Even with the indifferent waiter we had during our last experience there. My Paris just needs to include certain places.

Can we go to Paris without going to the Daru Staircase at the Louvre, where Audrey Hepburn iconically posed in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace?! I think not!

We’ll be making a list over the next year, and checking it twice. If you have any favourite places in Paris that are off the beaten path…something you might think travelers overlook…drop the info in the comments section. I’d love to discover something new that’s not already on my radar. The list of places we haven’t visited yet is surprisingly quite extensive, considering the places I’ve already checked off the list during previous visits. But I’d love to find something new to love about my favourite city!

The places we visited in 2021 are favourited on this Google map. We covered a LOT of ground, but not enough. We still have so much to see!

Drop your suggestions in the comments!

Come on, 2023! —– Paris or bust!