I’ve been—and will continue to be—mostly staying offline in an effort to avoid Star Wars: The Force Awakens spoilers until I get a chance to see the movie on Monday night. But I didn’t want to wait until then to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas. Even as I type that a part of me bristles, not because whoever is reading this might not celebrate Christmas (as an atheist I celebrate the season not as a religious event but as a time we can aspire to peace and goodwill towards our fellow man. I also treasure the lustrous decorations and festive lights that temporarily brighten our long winter nights), but because the pressure to be happy can make the season so difficult—amplify feelings of loneliness, stress and sadness.

Life is not always happy, even on the most beautiful May days when flowers are blooming and the sky is pure blue, even in December when holiday tunes are blaring and work-places are holding ugly sweater contests.

If times are tough right now, I wish for much better for you in the future. I know it’s possible because you and I are still here. Life changes and then changes again. I think what most people really mean when they say Merry Christmas is I wish you well. And that’s what I’m saying here. Peace. Happiness. Health. I wish you all of it.
"Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” ~ Calvin Coolidge 
 “Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.” ~ Pope John XXIII
Joyeux Noël. Je vous souhaite tous mes meilleurs vœux!



It's been a good couple of days for Delicate reviews so if you're thinking of picking up a copy and want to know more about the book, you may want to check out The Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire reviews.

 This is the first time one of my books has ever been reviewed in The Globe and Mail, which is really exciting. Here's a snippet of their review:

"Authentic portrayals of teen sexuality are few and far between...But Ontario author C.K. Kelly Martin unabashedly portrays the hormonal realities of being 16 and 17 in this dual narrative of second cousins Ivy and Lucan. Martin does not shy away from the messier realities of young love, including a laudably prolonged and uncomfortable description of an STI..."

And an outtake from the Quill & Quire write-up:

"C.K. Kelly Martin’s YA writing is the kind you want to give the teens in your life. It’s written for them, not adult crossover readers, and it meets teens where they live. Her latest novel, told in two characters’ alternating voices, is a flinchingly accurate look at the confusion and conviction of adolescence."

If you're in Canada you can pick up Delicate in various bricks and mortar bookstores and online shops right now. Delicate's U.S. release is scheduled for May 16th but I'm currently running  a Goodreads contest (U.S. only) to celebrate the January 16th U.S. release of my previous Dancing Cat Books offering, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing. Each winner will receives a copy of both The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing AND Delicate. Good luck!

C.K. Kelly Martin’s YA writing is the kind you want to give the teens in your life. It’s written for them, not adult crossover readers, and it meets teens where they live. Her latest novel, told in two characters’ alternating voices, is a flinchingly accurate look at the confusion and conviction of adolescence. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/p/ivys-seemingly-perfect-master-of-social.html#sthash.f1Dwpqd2.dpuf
C.K. Kelly Martin’s YA writing is the kind you want to give the teens in your life. It’s written for them, not adult crossover readers, and it meets teens where they live. Her latest novel, told in two characters’ alternating voices, is a flinchingly accurate look at the confusion and conviction of adolescence. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/p/ivys-seemingly-perfect-master-of-social.html#sthash.f1Dwpqd2.dpuf
Authentic portrayals of teen sexuality are few and far between...But Ontario author C.K. Kelly Martin unabashedly portrays the hormonal realities of being 16 and 17 in this dual narrative of second cousins Ivy and Lucan. Martin does not shy away from the messier realities of young love, including a laudably prolonged and uncomfortable description of an STI... - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/p/ivys-seemingly-perfect-master-of-social.html#sthash.f1Dwpqd2.dpuf
Authentic portrayals of teen sexuality are few and far between...But Ontario author C.K. Kelly Martin unabashedly portrays the hormonal realities of being 16 and 17 in this dual narrative of second cousins Ivy and Lucan. Martin does not shy away from the messier realities of young love, including a laudably prolonged and uncomfortable description of an STI... - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/p/ivys-seemingly-perfect-master-of-social.html#sthash.f1Dwpqd2.dpuf


Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing by C.K. Kelly Martin

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing

by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends January 15, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

This week and into next the DELICATE blog tour rolls on. There have been some fantastic tour stops already. Thank you and Liz, Jenn and Amanda for your insightful reviewsthey made last week such a good one! You can read their thoughts here:

• Midnight Bloom Reads

• Lost in a  Great Book

• Brains, Books, and Brawn

Tomorrow Michelle Lynne will be posting her musings about Delicate on

Musings of a Writer. I’ll also be over at

• Bookshipper, being interviewed by the wonderful Tina Avon so if you want to learn more about what makes me, and/or Delicate, tick please drop in to their blogs.

I'll link to additional blog tour stops here as they go up. (Updated December 4th):

The Book Wars: guest post on teen dating violence

•  Books at Dawn review

  Bookish Notions: guest post on putting characters in the driver's seat

Finally, I want to remind anyone who resides in Canada and is interested in contemporary young adult novels to enter the DELICATE Goodreads giveaway.

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/163681-delicate

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/163681-delicate

The Canadian Goodreads giveaway for DELICATE opens November 24th, so if you'd like to know about Ivy and Lucan, and their respective and combined togetherness, you should head over there to enter. In Canada you can also pick up or order paperback copies now. E-books should be available later in the month with the U.S. release date of DELICATE set for May 16th.

The Delicate blog tour will also be happening très soon, but in the meantime I wanted to post some more photos of the stone messages from the rocky beach in Oakville. The below were taken earlier in November and are all different from the messages I captured in October. This time around I noticed someone had gathered many of the stone messages about love together with a few others mixed in. Guess which is my favourite!

But first, some Oakville fall colours.













Last Monday, Election Day, was gorgeous in my neck of Southern Ontario. And what a glorious night it was too, with Stephen Harper's government at last being swept into memory and our next Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speaking of 'sunny ways.'

Hope and light is in the air, even as winter approaches.


The beauty of fall seems to be a rough, wild one - a final glimpse at the natural world before the veil of winter drops and steals it from view.


Fall colours, gentle sunshine, Bronte Harbour,October 25:


By the water's edge, Bronte, October 25:

 

Fall canoeing in Bronte, October 25:


Oakville's Lawn Bowling club lit by golden autumn sunshine, October 25:


Speaking of hope, the dreams, wishes and wisdom of fellow Canadians were jotted down all over the stones of an Oakville Beach this summer and fall. Yesterday I finally made my way down to the water's edge to examine them in earnest. Although some messages were faded and difficult to read the very idea still seems laced with magic. And thankfully whoever is fond of making Inukshuks (half dissembled here) by the lake on a regular basis is still at it too.







Not sure about this one. I can make out the words 'happy' and either 'Canada' or 'Canadian'



Yes it is:


A warning to heed:




John still loves you Lewis!



If anyone can provide an English translation for this, let me know.




Not sure you can read this but it says, 'I wish I could fly."


I wish people were more thoughtful.


Peace to the world


I'm better off for the knowing of you. 



And this last one obviously isn't a stone, but it's a message too. Many of the downtown Oakville benches by Late Ontario feature dedications that tell a story. This is just one of them and is of the infinite variety. 


What are your hopes and dreams this fall? What message do you have for the rest of us? Or perhaps for one specific person?

* See the additional stone messages I captured in November

Unhappy Harper
It's the weekend before Canada's federal election and the Canadian Federal Collectibles series has issued a new Stephen Harper action figure to represent this year's election campaign. But first, let's have a gander at the Harper action figures from elections past.

If you remember, the 2011 figure came with a rolled security fence that could be erected to keep the press at a distance from campaigning Stephen (and which also harked back to the G20 Toronto Summit), a spare set of snap-on hair (in the unlikely event that Harper's gets mussed) and a package of face match software which allows Conservative henchman to scan the crowd at Harper campaign stops and turf those suspected of partisan leanings.


Back in 2008  limited quantities of the Election 08 Harper figure were available to the public. They featured Stephen clutching a chunk of Alberta Tar Sands rock in one hand and the Canadian flag in the other.


Then, of course, there was the Harper duo pack, which included the Darth Harper figure and Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) gripping a Canadian flag which he could wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving failed to placate Canadians, Harper could quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand.
Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) also grips a Canadian flag, which he can wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving fails to placate Canadians, Harper can quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/2009/04/easter-greetings-from-our-pm.html#sthash.OHaSV9YY.dpuf
Statesman Harper (in full ceremonial garb) also grips a Canadian flag, which he can wave vigorously while proclaiming Canada's finances are sounder than any other country in the world. In the event the flag waving fails to placate Canadians, Harper can quickly don the sweater vest he holds in his other hand. - See more at: http://www.ckkellymartin.com/2009/04/easter-greetings-from-our-pm.html#sthash.OHaSV9YY.dpuf


Finally, the brand new Harper figure (released practically on the eve of the 2015 election) features Stephen in decidedly casual wear, not unlike what he wore to a recent Conservative party rally with Rob and Doug Ford. As with the election 2011 figure, this year's Harper collectible comes with a spare set of snap-on hair and some of Stephen's favourite props - the bills tossed around as a game show gimmick at recent campaign stops.

That’s another 600 bucks down the drain,” Harper said, his words accompanied by the loud ‘Ka-ching’ sound of a cash register. “That is what Liberal change means, more money for the government, less money for you.”

Naturally Harper's other favourite prop is fear, which he wields with a heavy hand. Including Darth Vader's mask with the election 2015 figure allows Stephen to quickly switch tactics, moving easily from his Shopping Channel persona to one that incites unrest and provokes anxiety.


Election Harper 2015 is available from vendors across the country.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”
Larry J. Sabato, Pendulum Swing  

See you at the polls on Monday, Canada! 

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