Two readings from Close Your Eyes
Hi everyone - I have an online event coming up that I thought I would shoot a couple readings for, and I've posted them below.
I tried this on Saturday afternoon as well. I had my 9 year old film me, keeping me in the shot as I read, but something about the glare of the mid-day sun and me on camera the whole time was just boring. So I got out at sunrise this morning and did the readings a bit more informally, holding my device myself as I did the reading.
I think - mostly showing the sunrise as I read - is a lot nicer than seeing me the whole time anyway! :)
Here's reading #1 - this is the Joan of Arc scene, which shows up in one of Tycho's brief journal entries. This is past the 1/2 way point of the book, and is when Tycho is somewhat in distress about what he's meant to be doing with his life.
And this one below is the picnic scene.
The context here is that 16/17 year old Tycho has been chasing, lustily, after Agnieszka (who is about 20) for months prior to this scene - but increasingly, his feelings have become conflicted about what exactly he feels for his friend.
I hope you enjoy these!
Best wishes everyone!!
and back to nature
It is spring in central Ontario, and over the last several days, I've gotten out for my first bike rides and even paddle (kayak) of the season. And, these photos below show why I find it so hard to stay indoors and (god forbid!) write, in the good weather months in Ontario.
I think this main photo below was from kayaking on the local lake on Saturday April 15. The two videos below are from the same morning.
These three photos in this small gallery are from walks to work during the week of Monday April 10. For the photo of the two geese standing on the edge of the thin ice - I actually got a photo where the light was better, BUT, the goose on the left had tucked his head and neck down against his body so overall, this photo is slightly the better one of the two.
I will admit that I rushed onto the water in the kayak a bit early this past weekend. The water temperature would still be pretty darn cold, so if you actually fell in you'd be in danger of hyptothermia or worse, but I couldn't resist - especially as boating season hasn't begun yet and so no matter how long I may have wanted to stay out there, there would have been zero chance of any boats zooming around and I knew I was going to have the entire lake to myself.
This first video is what it is like to be out there before the sun has crested the horizon.
And this one with the thin ice would have been 30 minutes or so after I took the previous video. I hadn't expected to encounter any ice out there - but there was actually one large patch of ice extending south below the main island in the local lake. It was thin enough that you could have paddled through it a bit if needed - but it wasn't something you would want to do for any distance at all.
I did eventually find my way through the ice to get around the island, and as that day continued to be very warm, I'm sure that the ice melted through the course of the day.
As I paddled near this thin ice (not INTO the ice as shown in the video), the slight waves from my kayak hitting the ice made this really interesting sound... it was like someone pouring sand almost endlessly down onto a hard tiled kitchen floor.... a "shooooosssshhhhh" sound. It was really pretty blissful :)
After you publish / self-publish a book, there are ebbs and flows to "news" about your book - the reviews trickle in here and there, and as the author, you try this and try that to get your book noticed.
Within the last few days, I've had two bookstagrammars show some kindness for Close Your Eyes, and I wanted to sincerely say "thank you" to them.
Before I do though - I'm realizing that I met both of these wonderful human beings through Lola's Book Tours, so Lola a huge thank you to YOU as well. And while I'm at it, I found out about Lola from Mareli at Elza Reads, who just happened to be the reviewer who reviewed my book for the Reedsy site - a review I've always been incredibly grateful for. So Mareli thank you for your lovely review, and thank you for introducing me to Lola :)
Bibliophile in Egypt reviewed the book in early March, but recently did a 2nd post on her bookstagram account, trying to convince her followers to read Close Your Eyes. Thank you so much Bibliophile!
Shreya in India also reviewed the book recently, and we have now done an author interview as well, which ran to over an hour. I'm not sure how much of that interview Shreya will use for her YouTube channel, but I had a wonderful time talking to her - and very much appreciate her kindness both to me, and to Close Your Eyes.
As we head towards Easter 2023, there is also a book blog tour for Close Your Eyes happening. The tour was organized by Cathie at the Coffee Pot Book Club, and over the next five days, the tour will involve numerous book blogs (generally with a focus on historical fiction) posting excerpts from the book. The Coffee Pot Book Club's own blog is one of the tour stops, and I happen to quite like the excerpt from the book which is posted on their page.
And this below is just a photo I realized i quite like. It's from Thursday March 30 here in Ontario, where spring seems reluctant to come thus far. Best wishes everyone.
Into whose dream did you walk?
As I begin a post about the nature of travel literature / travel writing, I'm listening to Dark Angel by Canada's Blue Rodeo. Into whose dream did you walk? is a line from this song, but also makes me think of certain qualities of travel literature.
I've been reading a lot of Polish WWII history recently, as background reading for my Within This Darkness young adult series. But I've taken a break from the WWII history here and there for some other titles - two of which I'd call classic travel literature: Coming into the Country by John McPhee, and currently The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. I used to read a lot of travel literature in my 20s, and some of those books had a big impact on me at the time. Reading McPhee and Matthiessen recently, I've been reminded of something that always amused me - sometimes travel writers just put down, on paper, the most beautiful prose I've ever seen. No fireworks, no attempts at grandeur, just effortless and elegant writing.
Here is Matthiessen on page 22 of The Snow Leopard:
A luminous mountain morning. Mist and fire smoke, sun shafts and dark ravines: a peak of Annapurna poises on soft clouds. In fresh light, to the peeping of baby chickens, we take breakfast in the village tea house, and are under way well before seven.
Here is McPhee on page 35 of Coming Into the Country:
Last night, in forest, we were close by the sound of rushing water. Sound now has become inverse to the space around us, for we sit in the middle of an immense and almost perfect stillness.
In a way, it's not fair :) This is the kind of sublime writing that should be in novels, and most novelists would be lucky to write this well.
On the other hand - travel writers do have certain advantages over writers of fiction. With fiction, due to the need to tell a story, there's a certain amount of artifice involved. A certain amount of "making stuff up and hoping people find it is interesting" etc.
With travel writing it's just you, your journey, and what your eyes see as you travel through these remote places. And it strikes me that travel writing really lends itself to reflection and self-reflection - not only what I'm seeing, as I travel through the wilds of Alaska (Mcphee), or the mountains of Nepal (Matthiessen), but who am I out here, as an individual human being? and who are we, as humanity, both in the place I am now on my journey, and back "home", wherever I'm from?
I think the best travel writers let you see some remote corner of the world through their eyes, but also, make you feel part of something vast and fragile - this planet of ours, this civilization of ours, this "now" and this "what was before". And the best of them do it, as I mentioned above, in just gorgeous prose.
I've never really written travel literature myself, but for years I wrote a cycling blog (and also a veggie / vegan blog). I suppose my cycling blog was a form of travel writing, and I just remembered this post from the last day of my bike-camping trip in Pennsylvania in 2017. As I was cycling back into Pittsburgh at the end of that very thoughtful, meditative, dream-like solo cycling trip, I was thinking, and would later write, this... and... i guess this passage below, is a good way to end this post:
And so, journey's end.
I should re-read On the Road. See how that epic road trip comes to an end. I think Sal Paradise remembers his friend Dean Moriarty, lost somewhere in the swells and rolls of the prairies and rivers of America.
Dean was Sal's friend, but in some ways a ghost. And I think I was searching for some ghost on my way back into Pittsburgh. Scanning the faces of the cyclists coming by me. Wondering who they were. Perhaps the ghosts in our lives are ones that we need, and so we create them. Haunting us and keeping us company.
The miles rolled by on this trip of mine. And I enjoyed every pedal-stroke.
To everyone I met out there. To everyone whose hand I shook. Safe travels.
This was my wrap-up video from that trip :)
Festival giveaway! (Canada)
Hello and happy mid-winter everyone! At least midwinter where I am, in central Ontario, Canada.
I noticed that Goodreads was offering a small discount on their giveaways program right now, so I decided to give Festival some love, and offer a Canada-only giveaway of this book via Goodreads.
(starts on Feb 18 on Goodreads).
Goodreads Book Giveaway
by Chris Tomasini
Giveaway ends March 10, 2023.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Festival is a coming of age novella, set in 1990s London, England, and Toronto, Canada.
It may not surprise anyone to know that I ...err... lived in London for two separate summers in the 1990s, and had two long stints in Toronto, so it is a fairly auto-biographical book.
After submitting it to nearly every publisher in Canada back in the late 90s (the old school way! snail mail, with sample chapters and a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope!), I ended up putting it in my infamous filing cabinet, and sitting on it until deciding to self publish it in 2015 - and it has been on Amazon ever since, but I've not really tried to promote the book.
When I sent Close Your Eyes to the Readers' Favorite company though, I decided to ask for a review of Festival from them at the same time - and wow - their review of Festival really knocked my socks off. It was pretty amazing to know that a book that was so personal to me, and which I'd written such a long time ago, was still able to mean so much to a reader in 2022.
And if you check the Goodreads reviews - all of which are relatively recent - it does indeed seem to have an impact on the modern reader, despite being set in the 1990s.
To be honest, I like that it is set in the 1990s... just prior to the internet era and emailing and texting etc. It actually makes all the "goodbyes" in the book more poignant (the characters not being able to say "do you have Insta? do you have What's App"?). And when Peter says his last words to Anne... it's via a hand-written letter, which he wistfully puts in the mail to her.
Anyway - Festival! If you're in Canada, enter the giveaway!
And if you're not - it's enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so the ebook is free if you're in that program.
I'm Chris Tomasini.