Announcement! Book of Dreams Author Event! Indigo Books Oshawa Centre – October 1st!

My publisher, Chicago Review Books, has informed me that I will be having an author signing at INDIGO BOOKS at the OSHAWA CENTRE on SATURDAY OCTOBER 1st, 2022 at 1:00PM!

I would LOVE to see you there!

I will be signing copies of my young adult novel BOOK OF DREAMS, which is scheduled to release on September 13th, 2022. Due to publication scheduling changes, I will be out of the country when BOOK OF DREAMS actually releases. But I’ll be back to celebrate its launch on October 1st in Oshawa, Ontario!

Saturday October 1st, 2022 @ 1:00pm – Indigo Books – Oshawa Centre!

Book of Dreams is a mixed genre (Contemporary, Horror, Fantasy, Suspense, Paranormal) young adult novel about what happens when a boy discovers a bookstore where no bookstore should be. It is published by Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press.

Indigo Books is located in the south west corner of the Oshawa Centre.

419 King Street West, Unit #1135,
Oshawa, Ontario
L1J 2K5
Canada

Phone: (905) 438-8593

You can click this link to GET DIRECTIONS

 

See you on OCTOBER 1st @ 1:00pm at the Oshawa Centre!

ARC Arrival! Book of Dreams is One Step Closer to its Release!

I received the ARC of Book of Dreams yesterday! For those who are not familiar with the acronym, an ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy. They print these prior to the final (final) (final) edits and before the finished novel goes to print…to send out copies for advance reviews/praise. Those reading the ARCs for this purpose realize that what they are holding is only a near finished copy. Usually they are told not to quote passages, as there is a possibility the words in the passage could change prior to the printing of the final version of the book.

The ARC is one of the next to last steps in the evolution of the Idea-to-Manuscript-to-Novel journey. It’s very exciting for the author to get to hold one in their hand…a realization of the kernel of idea brought to fruition. The ARC comes after a long arduous journey. By the time I get the ARC in my hands, I’ve probably read my manuscript 50, 60, 70 times. That might be a slight exaggeration(?) but it does not feel like one.

At any rate, it is HERE!

The ARC! Book of Dreams is on its way!

This book has had a long and sometimes treacherous journey! It began as nothing more than a TITLE at the onset of the 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon(click here to learn more about the marathon). This weekend novel writing marathon, where Book of Dreams was born, was a full 8 years ago! During the 72 hour marathon, I wrote about 30,000 words of Book of Dreams. One attempts to finish an entire first draft at this marathon (and I have done so on occasion), but as I was writing in a new-to-me genre I was taking it slow and easy.

My manuscript received an Honorable Mention in that year’s marathon. I was well on my way! Then I shelved the book for several years while I worked on more pressing ideas. But the kids in this novel kept coming back to me. I had left them in a perilous situation and after a while I thought maybe they deserved to be written out of that corner they were in. So I dove back in. Books have so many different paths. Sometimes they come all at once and your fingers struggle to keep up with the flow of the book that takes place in your mind. And sometimes they die a slow death or ask to be left alone a while as they percolate.

Last year, I knew it was time to pick up Book of Dreams again. Its characters called to me continuously. So I listened. I finished their story.

And here we are. 8 years have passed since I wrote the title at the top of a blank page one. In just over a month the book I started with the ambiguous first sentence, “I’m trapped in my bedroom again, waiting impatiently for the screaming to end.” will be in bookstores and available for all to read. It’s a scary concept! Putting a book into the world, is putting a piece of yourself into the world. And once it’s out there, it is also no longer yours and there’s nothing you can do about it.

2 books, 2 years apart!

On October 6th, 2020, my first book with Duet Books landed into the world. The Camino Club went on to become the Silver Winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award! It really has been a bit of the little engine that could. It had a nice momentum behind it and I loved seeing it pop up in the world. At the time of The Camino Club‘s release, Duet was the YA imprint of Interlude Press. Interlude has since sold to Chicago Review Press. Both Interlude and Duet are now LGBTQ imprints of CRP. Duet is YA and Interlude is ADULT. Book of Dreams is in extremely good hands! Almost two years apart, my second Duet Books will be out on September 13th, 2022! This date is ALSO my birthday, and I couldn’t think of a nicer birthday gift!

With my ARC in hand, and the final version of the novel already off to the printers, we are all set for the launch!

You can pre-order Book of Dreams wherever books are sold. I’ll leave a few links at the bottom of this post for easy clicking, but you can also order directly from your favourite independent bookstore.

BOOK OF DREAMS (Duet Books/Chicago Review Press, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2022) EBOOK NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER!

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.

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD! Also, put Book of Dreams on your Goodreads shelf!

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

Did Somebody Say Cake? Tarta de Santiago…

“Hey, you know what I’d really like to do?
Say wha’?
I feel like makin’ a cake
Ooh wah, what kind of cake do you want?
Umm, how about, pineapple upside-down cake?
Maybe a chocolate devil’s food cake
Wah, nothin’ like a chocolate devil’s food cake
Ooh, how about an angel cake?
Umm, some cinnamon?” ~ B-52s, CAKE (from the album Mesopotamia, 1982)
Still one of my all-time favourite B-52s albums and it wasn’t even a full album. Mesopotamia was an EP, filled with fabulosity!
But…I’m not here for music right now. I’m here to share a cake recipe. I won’t get angry if you listen to CAKE while making a cake, though.
As part of my Camino de Santiago obsession, I brought home a bit of the Camino with me with the Tarta de Santiago! It’s a little almond cake available all along the Camino route. The original version has only 3 ingredients and is quite dense and squat. You can find that recipe online. Just search 3 ingredient Camino Cake, or something like that.
Stamps, collected on the Camino Frances, 2019.
I bring a lot of things home from my Caminos…
A Camino ring…with the shell, a symbol of the Camino…
I wanted to share the one CAKE I have made several times. It’s a bastardized version that still tastes a little like the memories I carry of the Camino…
Tarta de Santiago

Complete with the St. James Cross outlined with icing sugar!

With the recipe below, you can add slight flavour flourishes of choice to make delicate changes to the end product. Think orange zest, raspberry puree and something to that end. It’s a good recipe to tailor make your own final cake, according to your own personal taste.

Tarta de Santiago(ish)

Recipe

  • 2 2/3 Cup Blanched Almonds*
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • Unsalted Butter (1 Stick)(or 8 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • Powdered Sugar – for Cross Decorating

*Big Asterik Energy! Blanched Almonds. You can buy them blanched. If you didn’t, you can blanche them yourself. BIG alternative option…I buy almond flour at Costco. No blanching, no food processoring.

How to Make your Cake:

  • Almonds: How to blanche your almonds. Honey, the only Blanche I know is Blanche DuBois and she’s as blanchey blanche blanche as they come. It’s 2022, please don’t blanche your almonds. Either buy them blanched or do what I do. Use almond flour. Google tells me that you get approximately 1 ¼ cups of almond flour using 1 cup blanched almonds. You can do the math and use the appropriate amount of almond flour. Let’s do away with the food processor and make things easier. If you do choose to process your almonds, select FINE and grind them down. Then set it aside.
  • Heat the oven to 350° F and grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan. Or, if you don’t have springform, use a regular pan like me.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar
  • Add butter (softened), flour, baking powder and water. Beat with an electric hand mixer (or with the strength of the two hands the good lawd gave ya) until well combined.
  • Slowly stir in and mix the almonds (at this point let’s just call it almond flour…I hope no one actually went through the business of preparing their own almonds!) Slowly stir in and mix the almond flour.
  • Add the lemon zest and blend in thoroughly. Here’s the part where you can substitute. Change the lemon zest to orange zest or another subtle flavour you would prefer to test-drive.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes (my mother would READ ME FOR FILTH and SLAY ME TO DEATH for using the word ABOUT in a recipe, I promise you that!) My oven runs a little on the cold side, so I keep an eye on it. Use a toothpick to test…insert in centre of the cake and if it comes out clean it’s ready.
  • Let cool (This is important if you want to add the St. James Cross flourish.)
  • Find a St. James Cross cutout online. You MUST make this with something heavier than paper if you want an easy go at it. Cut it out in a thin cardboard if possible. Place the cross in the middle of the cake and use a sifter to sprinkle icing sugar all over the top of the cake and the cutout. Very delicately remove the cutout and you should have the cross outlined in the centre of the cake. (You can also use anything your heart desires as a cutout if this is for an occasion.)

There you have it… something along the lines of a Tarta de Santiago. It’s NOT authentic, but it’s still a very nice cake. Not too sweet… just right.

No cross required. You can cover the top of the cake in almonds instead.
or what have you…
Michael and I, while on our 2019 Camino Frances Camino, with the lovely Angela of Albergue A Reboleira in Fonfría!

If you haven’t read my Camino novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, yet… it’s available wherever books are sold. It’s a young adult novel. If you’ve walked the Camino, this book will take you back to the beauty of that walk. If you haven’t walked the Camino, this book will make you place it onto your bucketlist!

Here’s a few links:

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Interlude Press/Duet Books | WalMart USA | Target | Blackwell’s (UK) | Booktopia (Aus) | APPLE Books | Goodreads

 

One More Time for the People in the Back Row! BOOK OF DREAMS is a MIX OF GENRES…

Almost every single time I talk about my upcoming novel BOOK OF DREAMS on here, I make sure to mention that it is a MASH of genres. I think it’s very important for authors to be upfront about stuff like that, so as not to alienate their readers.

Here is one of my receipts> Boy Walks Into A Bookstore That Isn’t There–What’s the Punchline? This was a post I wrote about specifically about the genre mixing I did with this novel.

I wouldn’t want someone to think, ‘Oh, HORROR!’ and pick up my novel thinking that’s what they’re going to get.

First and foremost, BOOK OF DREAMS is for the YOUNG ADULT market. Here’s a list of the genres I navigate with BOOK OF DREAMS:

  • Contemporary

  • Suspense

  • Paranormal

  • Horror

  • Fantasy

I’ve made this clear from day one. I wrote it this way. Just like I did with Half Dead & Fully Broken several years ago, I wanted to write a CONTEMPORARY with a bit of an edge…I wanted it to slide into other genres while keeping its contemporary feel.

If the reader goes into BOOK OF DREAMS not knowing this, they could be disappointed. So this is yet another PSA regarding the book.

Author Blurb from the amazing Danika Stone!

It’s slated to release on Tuesday September 13th, 2022. If you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, you can do so wherever books are sold! (And if you’re LOCAL to the GTA or Durham Region here in Ontario, please consider picking it up at BLUE HERON BOOKS. Here’s a link to the post I wrote about picking it up at BLUE HERON BOOKS.)

Here’s the synopsis for BOOK OF DREAMS:

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 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.

Some pre-order links AND the Goodreads link so you can add it to your Goodreads shelf!

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

Our Day of the Dead in the City of Light

Whoever said you can’t walk everywhere in Paris hasn’t met Michael and I. Last October we proved all naysayers wrong by the power of our own four feet. One of our best days of our week was the one we named our DAY OF THE DEAD.

No, we didn’t die that day. Trust me, it was a thematic name choice.

In Paris, we stayed in the 9th at an unassuming little hotel called Hôtel de Paris Saint Georges. We don’t go big on hotels, because they’re only for sleeping in when your goal is to take in every inch of every city you visit. The hotel is not important, as long as it’s clean.

Our first goal on the Day of the Dead was to make our way to Père Lachaise Cemetery all the way over in the 20th arrondissement. Google Maps told us it was a mere 5.2km away. A walk in the park that would take us 1 hour and 8 minutes, according to Google. Google also doesn’t know us. We knew we could cut that number down to an hour.

My first time in Paris was action packed with Left Bank Writers Retreat stuff, so I didn’t get to see Père Lachaise. The days were too fully planned out to sneak away, and the cemetery was closed at night. Who closes a cemetery at night?! The nerve!

I had several graves on my visiting wish-list, and we booked a walking tour at the cemetery to make things easy for us. It’s a huge cemetery!

Unfortunately, our Day of the Dead was going to begin with a fail. Not surprising, since we were still dead in the middle of the pandemic. The tour didn’t sell enough tickets, so it was cancelled. The worst part was that the tour company didn’t tell us it was cancelled. Michael and I stood by the designated Metro stop waiting for the guide to appear for far too long. After doing several somersaults and finally contacting the tour guide people, we discovered we had been waiting in vain. We were on our own.

Even though we didn’t see everyone on the list, we did manage to see a few of the famous people I wanted to visit. Having waited decades to see this historic cemetery, I was not disappointed. Sure, it would have been a hundred percent better with the accompaniment of a guide, but it was still an amazing morning!

Oscar Wilde

We saw Wilde, Piaf, Proust, Moliere, Balzac, Chopin, and Morrison, among others. Then we accepted our defeat and put Père Lachaise onto the bingo card for our next visit to Paris. Next time, hopefully, we will have a guide. There’s still quite a few people on my wish-list that we missed. Take my word for it, if you’re going to visit Père Lachaise, get a guided tour. You may think you can do it alone, but it is really overwhelming once you’re there. Even with a paper map or Google Maps. I was just too overwhelmed to remember half the names I wanted to visit. And we did some crisscrossing we could have avoided. GET. A. GUIDE.

Marcel Proust

With our mad dash throughout the cemetery over, we were off to our next stop! Did somebody say Panthéon?! And how does the Panthéon work into our Day of the Dead, you might ask if you’re not familiar with the building in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Off to the 5th arrondissement we go!

Panthéon, temple to all the gods. Sitting atop Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon (Built from 1758-1790), once a church, is now a mausoleum for the remains of France’s most distinguished citizens. This incarnation of a mausoleum could very well be the building’s last and eternal purpose.

Once we made the brisk 4.1km walk from Père Lachaise, with a quick stop at a yummy Indian restaurant we stumbled upon along the way, we were ready to meet more of history’s illustrious dead. 

We visited almost everyone resting there. From Voltaire to Zola.

Voltaire!

A highlight of the visit, for me as a writer and reader, was Emile Zola, Alexandre Dumas, and Victor Hugo.

Emile Zola
Alexandre Dumas
Victor Hugo

Since we were in the neighbourhood (the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement), we also visited Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, which is just behind the Panthéon. This church was made newly famous after appearing in the movie Midnight in Paris. I had visited the church back in 2014 when the Panthéon was closed for some restorative work. We took an iconic (to us) photo of ourselves on the church steps where Gil sat in Midnight in Paris, right before he was whisked away into the Paris of the 1920s.

The 2014 Left-Bank Writers Retreat. Look it up, it’s an amazing retreat for writers. Takes place in Paris every year.

And here’s the facade of the church. The steps made famous in the movie are on the left hand side of the photo below.

Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, October, 2021.

After visiting the greatest of France’s late citizens, we were off to visit the bones of some of Paris’s late great cemeteries. Say that ten times fast. Anyway, Catacombes de Paris in the 14th arrondissement were the next stop on our Day of the Dead.

If you can, always get your tickets online in advance. You will avoid a headache, or even the possibility of being turned away at the door.

The Catacombes were another place I missed on my last visit to Paris, and, therefore, a must see during this visit. We made the 2.7km walk in no time, even with the quick detour through the Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th arrondissement! We couldn’t walk by this treasure when we could almost as easily walk through it!

The very modern entrance to a very gothic dungeon-like attraction.

Getting down to the dark underbelly was a feat in itself. The spiral staircase brought back memories of climbing the never-ending staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, or the just-as-deadly staircase to the top of the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre. Paris sure does love the spiral staircase!

Climb down into the underbelly of Paris, via the endless spiral staircase…

The Catacombes were everything we hoped they would be. Death made creepy by darkness and dirt, with a little dripping wetness thrown in for good measure. We were under Paris, surrounded by the bones of millions of long-dead displaced Parisiennes.

Watch your head!

After the staircase comes a very narrow passageway with a low ceiling and damp darkness…

The Catacombes holds the remains of over 6 million people. It is something to see. If you’re visiting Paris and have no problems with mobility issues or claustrophobia, I highly recommend it. I will say, however, that it is probably a one and done. There are many places in Paris I will visit again and again. The Catacombes, incredible as it was to experience, probably isn’t one of them.

You really do become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of bones you see. And what is open to the public is merely the tip of the iceberg.

The crazy wide-eyed expression?!

The parts of the Catacombes open to public are roughly 1km in length. You’ll never guess where one arrives after climbing the almost identical spiral staircase up out of the dungeons of Paris. That’s right! A gift shop! All of the world’s attractions and rides now deposits its adventurers off into the coveted gift shop. A sure sign of Commerce Above All Else!

After our tour of dead things, we capped off our day at my restaurant of choice in the hopes of having a chance encounter with a ghost from Paris’s glorious literary past. Between the Catacombes and the Jardin du Luxembourg, you will come to one of Paris’s most famous literary restaurants. That’s saying a lot, as quite a few of Paris’s restaurants were made famous by the patronage of many of its literary elite from the time of the Lost Generation.

The one I chose was La Closerie des Lilas, which was a mere 850m from the Catacombes.

We had a lovely (if overpriced) meal outside on the patio while I imagined Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald tucked away in a corner making literary chatter and writing away in their battered journals while drinking light aperitifs.

And just like my son Jacob used to do whenever we visited a new restaurant when he was a little boy, I made the excuse to use the facilities so I could snoop around some.

At the bar, if you look closely enough, you will see a tiny brass nameplate screwed into the bar top at one of the available chairs. It says ERNEST HEMINGWAY. This is where Ernest sat at times.

With dinner over, so too was our day at its end. Almost. In Paris, the day is always only almost over…

La Closerie des Lilas, near the end of the daylight…

Now, we only had to walk home! And you bet we made some stops along the way. The dead things may have been behind us, but there was still a lot to see!

The Pantheon at sunset is quite stunning. So majestic.

After stopping to visit the Seine, we decided to make a little side-trip to Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île on the island, where I stayed during my first visit to Paris. Here’s to another 2.5km!

Can one even walk across the famous bridges of Paris without stopping to pay homage to the river that runs through it. Her majesty…

We had our meal at Closerie, but it was time for dessert! Where else but Amorino Saint Louis?! What else, but gelato?!

Amorino Saint Louis

Rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Île will always be one of my favourite places in Paris. When I stayed there in 2014, I loved to wake up early and get out into the tiny street and watch it come to life! Such simple magic!

Next! 750m to The Lady. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. I mean, it was right there! We couldn’t NOT visit. I know it’s closed, but just to walk by it…

Our Lady of Paris…

This concluded our Day of the Dead. After another 3.8km of walking through the nighttime streets of Paris, we were back at our hotel. It was time to sleep, to recoup and prepare for our next day of concurring the streets of Paris one footstep at a time!

My step counter for this day showed 35,173 steps, or 27.6km. Just a stroll in the big scheme of things. How often do you get to wander around the streets of Paris seeking out dead things?!

Our Triangle of Death on the Day of the Dead. (And, yes, all the hearts are places we visited during our week in Paris. All the best places! And not a single taxi, metro, bicycle or uber!)

Unprecedented Holy Year on the Camino! Happy St. James Feast Day!

Happy St. James’s Feast Day to all!

For fans of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes in Spain, today marks a special occasion. It is, after all, St. James who is the rock star of the Camino. They don’t call it St. James Way or The Way of St. James for nothing. Pilgrims walk on different routes that all arrive at the same place… the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela… and ultimately to the supposed bones of St. James himself. And they have done so for centuries.

Michael and I shortly after arriving in Santiago de Compostela in September, 2019, from the Camino Frances. The Cathedral in the background.

The city’s name itself gives clues to the place of worship it houses. Santiago means St. James. With Compostela, there is debate about its meaning, but the one I prefer is that Compostela is derived from Campo and Stella (or the Latin Campus Stellae–Stars Field) and means FIELD OF STARS. (There is also a theory that it is from the Latin compositum and the Galician local bastardized Latin Composita Tella—or burial ground.) I choose St. James in the Field of Stars as the more illustrious and apropos translation, because FUN!

There he is, St. James, resting beneath the altar in a sepulchre in his little cubbyhole home!

As a non-Christian hiker and wanderluster, I have a different view of pilgrimage than those people. I have visited the sepulchre said to contain the bones of St. J. TWICE now. It’s quite lovely in its little cubbyhole home under the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The part that is so hard to believe, even though it’s ultimately fun to do so… After the apostle was executed, his disciples eventually recovered his body and put it in a STONE boat. Then the said STONE boat magically floated its way across the Mediterranean and out to the Atlantic Coast. It eventually came ashore in Iria Flavia (now Padrón), where some of his followers gathered up his body from the STONE boat and took them inland for burial. Eventually, they discovered a place so lovely with the field of night stars shining down upon it, they just had to bury him there and build a monument in his honour.

Every fairy tale has a grain of truth and a brick of salt attached to it. It doesn’t matter what the folklore is, it’s still St. James Day today! And because of the pandemic, the Pope guy in the big house has declared this year 2022 a HOLY YEAR despite the fact it does not qualify to be called one. This papal declaration means that anyone who travels any of the Camino routes this year, making their way into Santiago de Compostela, will find more pageantry than usual.

Credencials or Pilgrim Passports. These ones were issued for the Holy Year (which is 2021 with a special extension to 2022). Michael and I, along with his sister, will be walking the Camino Portugues into Santiago de Compostela this coming September… when we will be able to enter the Cathedral through the Holy Door.

Here’s the breakdown on what a Holy Year is:

The Feast of St. James always falls on 25th July. If July 25th falls on a Sunday, that year is declared a Holy Year. This happens every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years. The last Holy Year BEFORE THE PANDEMIC was in 2010. Then the pandemic hit and there was a HOLY YEAR last year, 2021. Since Holy Years see a considerable increase in the numbers of pilgrims to Santiago, but that increase was stymied by the pandemic, the Pope made a special dispensation and declared 2022 a Holy Year as well. This is the 2nd time in history that a Holy Year has been given the special dispensation to run for two years. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) created a fragile political situation that caused the Church to decide to extend the Xacobean Holy Year of 1937 to 1938.

I believe this is the HOLY DOOR, as seen from inside the Cathedral. I have never been to the Cathedral when the door is open, and it’s so easy to get turned around inside the humongous building, but I think this is it. This door is right across from where you go into the area where the sepulchre is, beneath the altar. So it would make sense…

What’s special at the Cathedral, besides extra special celebrations, during Holy Years? It is the one time that the “Holy Door” at the Cathedral opens. The Catholic Church offers a plenary indulgence during this time to pilgrims who cross the threshold of the Holy Door.

There you have it… the reason why 2022 is not exactly a Holy Year on the Camino de Santiago, but, in fact, IS a Holy Year.

Here’s a shot from when Michael and I walked the Camino Frances in September, 2019. My sandals in the foreground and Michael admiring the facade of the Cathedral in the distance.

I realize I use a lot of tongue in cheek when I talk about the religious aspects of the Camino, but I respect the Camino de Santiago for all it represents while walking its paths. I was raised Catholic, but I consider myself rescued from that organization. I do carry with me its ceremony and pomp…I remember all the rhetoric and liturgy. I don’t walk for religious reasons, but respect those who do. I walk to feel my feet touch the earth and to have moments of reflection and for the beauty and camaraderie. There is room on the Camino paths for people from all walks. And there is room to respect all the people walking.

Happy St. James Feast Year! If it was your hope to walk a Holy Year, I do hope you were able to do so. Enjoy your walk to the field of stars!

Pick Up BOOK OF DREAMS at BLUE HERON BOOKS!

For you local readers who share their favourite bookstore with me and many other local readers, how about PRE-ORDERING your copy of BOOK OF DREAMS from Blue Heron Books!

The iconic UXBRIDGE, ONTARIO bookstore is one of Canada’s most beloved! And we all know why…

Blue Heron owner, Shelley MacBeth, is a champion for all things books, and the authors who write them. Her work with, and for, writers has garnered her national acclaim, making Blue Heron one of Canada’s best known bookstores.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have two book signings at this amazing bookstore. My debut, Summer on Fire, and my most recent release, The Camino Club.

With the always lovely KAREN COLE, at the Blue Heron book launch for THE CAMINO CLUB. Showing the world how to social distance in the middle of a pandemic while having a book signing!

Kevin with Shelley MacBeth (owner of Blue Heron Books), the Blue Heron book launch for Summer on Fire (Circa 2010).

As I will be out of country when my next book hits the shelves, I thought I would send all my local readers to Blue Heron Books for their copy. Please consider shopping local and placing your PRE-ORDER with Blue Heron Books. And let’s face it, you really should mark that order PICK UP so you can give Shelley and her magical store a visit!

The book drops on TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 13th, which is also my birthday! If you pre-order directly from Blue Heron Books, give me a shout out to let me know you did. I might be able to come up with some swag for BLUE HERON SHOPPERS ONLY.

HERE’S A DIRECT LINK TO THE ORDER PAGE FOR BOOK OF DREAMS AT BLUE HERON BOOKS – CLICK HERE.

Once you place that order with BLUE HERON, let me know. Send an email to kevintcraig@hotmail. com with a screenshot and your mailing address. I’ll see what I can do! If you go in person, which clearly would be the best way to place your pre-order, snap a shot and send it along!

Head on over to Blue Heron Books and place that order! And while you’re there, shop around! CLICK HERE FOR THE PRE-ORDER PAGE, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!

The Book.

 

Looking for Volunteers – A Street Team of Sorts!

Hello Readers!

It’s almost time for the release of my upcoming novel BOOK OF DREAMS! It lands into the world in a short 54 days! OMG!

The issue I have with this? You mean besides the fact that I will be celebrating my birthday on my release day and I will be–GASP–56 years old (I can’t even compute! I don’t know how that age milestone is even possible, owing to the fact that I was voted Most Likely to Not Make It both in elementary school and high school. Kids are cruel merciless bitches)? I will be leaving the continent in exactly 48 days as I set off on another Camino adventure, this time with Michael and his sister!

We’re off on an adventure this September! The Camino Portugues!

Because of a shift in the release date for BOOK OF DREAMS (it was originally set to release in May, 2022), I’ve been faced with a disaster in timing. I will be in Europe on the day my book releases to the world. Yes, I will have connectivity, but I will be walking the Atlantic coast of Portugal at the time and literally anything can happen.

Here’s where I ask the BIG favour!

The Book.

I was hoping to round up a street team of sorts, a group of people willing to make announcements, share details, shout about the book, leading up to and ON the release date!

I would love to have others out there TWEETING, FACEBOOK POSTING, INSTAGRAMMING, BLOGGING, TIKTOKING, and anything else you can think of, as the book releases.

I feel guilty not being here at this crucial time and I’d like to get as much of a buzz going as possible, with your help. Please let me know if you would be interested in doing something. Anything will help. RT, SHARE, etc…it all helps. If you need any info, details from me for website/blog posts…I’d be happy to hook you up.

Send me an email at kevintcraig@hotmail.com

To those willing to help me out, the release date is SEPTEMBER 13th. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Author blurbs for Book of Dreams from Shaun David Hutchinson and Danika Stone!

Synopsis for BOOK OF DREAMS:

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 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.

Original Artwork by Jarom Verdonk – Artist’s rendition of Jack Chalek, the villain in BOOK OF DREAMS.

I am STILL sitting on some VERY EXCITING NEWS about this novel! I can’t wait to share it, but I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher on the details before I make the VERY EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT! Please stand by!
In the meantime, you can preorder the book anywhere books are sold! Or, here’s a selection of links:
Hoping to hear from you soon!

The Camino Club ARC Anniversary!

So, two years ago today something magical came in the mail! The Advance Reader Copies ARCs of The Camino Club! It was such an exciting day for me! Though my 7th novel, it’s the first one with a bigger publisher and, therefore, ARCs. And what gorgeous ARCs they were!

From the cover design to the interior, I am still madly in love with what my publisher (CB MESSER, of Interlude Press/Duet Books) did with The Camino Club. Such lovely details. I felt like I was losing my mind with excitement as I flipped through the pages.

I can’t begin to explain how much I love every little thing about the design. It’s still perfect, after two years. What surprises me is that I didn’t keep any of the ARCs for myself. I do have one final copy of the book at home, though.

On this 2nd anniversary of THE CAMINO CLUB ARC arrival, I just know that my next book is soon to arrive. It went out to the printer a while ago and it’s only a matter of time! Book of Dreams is almost here!

Releasing to the world on September 13th, Book of Dreams is destined to arrive on my doorstep any time now. I have such amazing news about this book and I have been sitting on it for so long that it’s burning a hole in my soul! The very second I get the okay to share this news, I will be screaming it from the rooftops.

Have you pre-ordered your copy of BOOK OF DREAMS yet? If you are local to the GTA, you may want to wait for an as yet announced author signing to take place sometime in September. This will be after my return from walking the Camino de Santiago from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I am out of country from Sept 7th to Sept 23rd. Yes, that’s right…I’ll be walking the Portuguese Camino on the day my book releases! This was NOT planned. The original release was May, 2022. The Camino was booked long ago and when the release date changed, my plans were already carved in stone. So look for a book signing sometime late in September or early in October.

You can PRE-ORDER BOOK OF DREAMS wherever books are sold. Here’s some 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 |

Here’s the description for BOOK OF DREAMS:

BOOK OF DREAMS (Duet Books/Chicago Review Press, SEPTEMBER 13th, 2022) EBOOK NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER!

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.

Although I won’t share the cool interior design of BOOK OF DREAMS just yet, I will share the EPIGRAPH and the DEDICATION. Here they are…

EPIGRAPH
DEDICATION

A Snippet Scene with The Camino Club Characters Diego & Shania!

In September 2020, I shared an outtake from my then upcoming novel, THE CAMINO CLUB, with the YOUNG ADULT LITERARY JOURNAL, VOYAGE!

I’m sharing that snippet here today. If you read THE CAMINO CLUB, you will remember the Queimada ceremony my group of teens experienced in Fonfría. What you would not have read was a cute moment that happened with Diego and Shania after the Queimada.

If you haven’t yet read THE CAMINO CLUB, it’s never too late to start! You can buy it wherever books are sold! Or check your local library! OR, there will be some buy links after the outtake which I will share below:

Diego Nelson in Fonfría, after the Queimada

After we drink the amazing potion Rosa and Paulo concocted, we dance our asses off until we’re all glistening with sweat. It’s the best. Even though I know the alcohol was burned off when Paulo lit the cauldron of potion aflame, I feel like I’m buzzing on a high. We all are. Glazed eyes everywhere. High on life, we are.

When I can’t dance anymore, I get Shania’s attention and nod towards the door. The cool night air beyond would be perfect right now. It would definitely douse the drink of fire that banishes evil. Ha.

Shan gives me a thumb’s up and we make our way to the door. People are everywhere, dancing in a conga line, worming their way around the room like an electric current of wonder.

“Whoa,” Shania says as we explode out into the night. “Sweet. That was so much magic, Diego. I want to live here forever.”

I don’t know if she means in Spain, in Fonfría, or in this moment, but to be honest, I’m good with any of the above.

“What is that gorgeous scent? Do you smell it?” She looks around, tries to find the source of the fragrant scent that fills the night around us. She’s hopeless. The entire outside wall of the dining hall is buried in bougainvillea.

“Do you think perhaps it could be the miles and miles of bougainvillea right over there?” I ask. “I don’t know, I mean, it could be something else?”

“Anyone ever tell you you’re a smartass, mister?”

I smile, take her hand and walk her over to the wall of flowers. She’s right. Their scent fills the air. And the moon is still close to full. The clear sky out here still gives us an entire universe of stars.

I break off a small bunch of the flowers and offer them to Shania. She brings them to her face and inhales deeply into the purplish bouquet.

There’s a loud screech from inside the dining hall, followed by cheers, laughter, and clapping. Shania looks at me. “Paulo.” The conga music wafts out into the night. I’ve never felt so electric in my life.

“Dance with me,” I say. I take the flowers from her hand and tuck them in behind her ear. I hold out my hands and Shania laughs. “What?”

“Nothing, Diego,” she says. This is everything I want right now. Out here in the near darkness, half-lit by the moon and bubbling over with all these emotions. Conga beats spill out around us. “I’d love to dance with you.” We dance, and it’s glorious. Better than the heat of the potion, the theatrics of Rosa and Paulo, and the spectacle of the Queimada ceremony combined. I’ll never forget this moment.

Here’s the link to the original posting of this outtake, as it appeared in VOYAGE. Please visit this amazing YOUNG ADULT LITERARY JOURNAL and show them some love!

As promised, some purchase links for THE CAMINO CLUB, along with the GOODREADS link:

Amazon USA | Amazon Canada | Chicago Review Press | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | BookShop | Indigo-Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo USA | Kobo Canada | Interlude Press/Duet Books | WalMart USA | Target | Blackwell’s (UK) | Booktopia (Aus) | APPLE Books | Goodreads

Now be a doll and run along and grab your copy! I’d love for you to read this award-winning book!