Door of the Day: The door to happiness

Door of the Day: The door to happiness

This door is from the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.  It is one of many beautiful doors and door details that I photographed during our exploration.


This place holds a special memory for me. We visited Meiji Shrine when adopting our son in 2018; Hiro was only six weeks old at the time of our visit. Outside of the shrine, we stopped to get some takoyaki (a battered seafood ball—often octopus) for our lunch and the elderly man behind the stall scurried out front to see our new son cradled against Marcie’s chest in the baby carrier. He was so effusive: “Happy, happy, happy!” he cried, beaming ear to ear. We felt very welcomed!





I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone! 🚪🗝️

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Door of the Day: The Door to Buddha

Door of the Day: The Door to Buddha

This is a door detail from the Kamakura area of Japan. We saw many doors and sites there, including the famous big Buddha. We didn’t go inside it, but apparently you can! Which mean that there is obviously some sort of secret door to enter him. The next time I go to Japan, I will find that door!



I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone—and the paperback version of The Secret of Zoone!

I was going to stop posting doors yesterday, since that was official book release date—but I have SO many doors still kicking around. So, I’ll keep going for another week. You’ve been warned!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.

Guardians of Zoone - Galaxy

Door of the Day: In Golden Gai

Door of the Day: In Golden Gai


Here is an imperious door knocker, glaring from a metal door in the Golden Gai district of Tokyo. We stayed in the city for two months in 2018 while we were adopting our son and had a fun time exploring the various parts of the city.

So many of the doors that intrigue me are made of wood, with old peeling paint and rusty keyholes encrusted with spiderwebs—this one is very different!

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on February 25!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.



Door of the Day: the door and the station

Door of the Day: the door and the station


This Medieval-style door is from Koyko Gaien Park in Tokyo, Japan. We visited these stunning grounds in 2018, when we adopted our son. This door features a door within a door, with the smaller gate set within the bottom quarter.

Nearby, is the magnificent Tokyo Station, which was just one of many places that served as inspiration for Zoone Station, located at the nexus of the multiverse, where a thousand doors lead to a thousand worlds.





I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate the release of The Guardians of Zoone on Feb25!

You can find order links for the books of Zoone HERE.


Door of the Day: The wyvern on the waves

Door of the Day: The wyvern on the waves

This is an exquisite dragon door I found in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Alas, I could not get the perfect photo because the light was awkward and the dragon itself was above my eye line.

I call it a wyvern in the headline because a wyvern is typically a dragon with no forearms—just wings, which is what seems to be the case with this creature. However, wyvern is a European word, and I’m sure there is a Japanese word to describe the specific dragon with wings (if you know, please make a comment below)!

Asian dragons, of course, are the opposite of European dragons, representing benign fortunes and positive notions. It’s not often you seem them depicted with wings.



Kamakura is a magical realm where you can explore parks and temples, with many statues or carvings peeking out from the stands of bamboo or the gardens. I found a lot of inspiration in this place.








Of course, Japan holds a special place in my heart because our son Hiro is from there. He was just a few months old when we explored the beautiful temples in the Kamakura area.

I’m posting my door inspirations from around the world to celebrate releases of The Secret of Zoone (pb-Jan28) & The Guardians of Zoone (Feb25)

Purchase and preorder links for both Zoone books can be found HERE.


In search of the nine-tailed fox

In search of the nine-tailed fox

This past summer, I led a summer camp in Korea with the theme of magical creatures. I have plenty of magical creatures in my own books—some of them borrowed from mythology (dragon, unicorns, perytons, etc.) and some are completely made up (like Tug the skyger, who is a main character in The Secret of Zoone).

But there is a creature I’ve been becoming more and more interested in, and that’s the fox spirit, which is prominent in Asian folktales and myths. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time in Korea, or maybe because so many of my creative writing students in Canada come from Chinese or Korean backgrounds. And, of course, my son being adopted from Japan has something to do with it.

The fox spirit in myth and legend

Legends about the fox spirit vary from country to country, story to story, but a common theme is that it is depicted with multiple tails—often nine. In Japan, it is called kyūbi no kitsune (literally fox with nine tails), in Korea it is called kumiho or gumiho (also, literally, fox with nine tails), and in China it’s called húli jīng or jiǔwěihú. Sometimes the foxes are seeking to gain all nine tails, which will take a thousand years (gaining a tail every hundred years) and allow them to transcend to a greater wisdom or being. They are sometimes associated with being evil (especially kumiho in Korea)—they can shapeshift into beautiful women and are often portrayed trying to seduce young men, even desiring to eat their livers!


Last summer, when we first met Hiro, I encountered many fox effigies at the temple sites throughout Japan. When we returned to Tokyo this summer with Hiro, I made a point to seek out one of the temples in the city featuring the fox.

These are the benign versions of the fox spirit. Kitsune is associated with the God Inari, who is worshiped for fertility, rice, tea, sake, agriculture—essentially prosperity and success. That is why kitsune can be found at so many Shinto sites.

A trip to Toyoa Inari Betsuin

On a sweltering morning in Tokyo, we headed to Toyoa Inari Betsuin to see the many kitsune assembled at the shrine. It’s not always easy to make the trek across the city with a one-year-old in tow, especially when it comes to navigating the subway system. Actually the Tokyo subway system itself is easy—finding ways in and out with a stroller aren’t, especially at the older stations.


But that minor inconvenience was offset by the beautiful shrine.


When it came to finding foxes, we weren’t disappointed—there were countless ones at Toyoa Inari Betsuin.

Here are just a few of the many photos of the kitsune . . . such delightful creatures! Many of them were wearing a red bib (a symbol of good luck).









To provide a bit more information about the shrine, I transcribed the information from the welcoming sign, which is also in the photo below:

The Toyokawa Inari is in reality the Toyokawa Dakini Shinten, one of the many Buddhist saints who were Protectors of the Buddhist doctrines. This saint has a beautiful countenance mounted on a white fox, carrying the ear of rice, and is called Toyokawa Inari. It has been enshrined in the Myōgon-ji, a temple in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture, since the first founder Kangan Giin received an inspiration, enshrined it about 700 years ago. Since then, it has been worshipped by peoples of all walks of life, bringing them happiness and saving them from the suffering through the generations to this day.


I’m pondering the idea of incorporating a magical fox with multiple tails in one of my upcoming middlegrade books. I think my many students with Asian backgrounds (not to mention my son!) will like it, though I know my magical fox won’t be an antagonist, but rather a helpful character.

The multiple tails also seem to match up very nicely with another main idea I’m developing for the book. I don’t have much else to say on it at this point, but let’s see how it goes . . .

Year in review ~ some of my favorite doors

I was very blessed to be able to travel a lot in 2014, so I thought I would recap the year’s journeys by showing some of my favorite doors that I discovered.

I’ve talked a lot about each of these doors in past blog posts, so all you get this time is the photos.

Tokyo, Japan ~ February

tokyo_sensoujitemple_door_gold_detail02 sensoji-bike&door yasakuni_door_florette yasakuni_door_staffonly yasakuni_door_florette_below yasakuni_door tokyo_sensoujitemple_door tokyo_sensoujitemple_door_gold_detail01 sensoji-reddoor

* * *

England, June 2014

york-devildoorknocker york_tigerdoorknocker yorkminster_door_flourish york_doorknocker_hand york_church_door alnwick-barbicondoorhandle yorkminster_door_studded alnwick-dungeondoor

* * *

Scotland, June 2014

dunning-highupdoor dunning-fadeddoor royalmile-door02 royalmile-reddoor01 sterling-door01 sterlingtown-door02 royalmile-door04 edinburghcastle-dungeondoor01 royalmile-door08 pitlochry-reddoor

* * *

Korea, August 2014



Korea - temple

* * *

Hawaii, November 2014

Hawaiishackdoor Hawaii-purpledoor

* * *

And here’s one final door, from Steveston, BC, just to prove that you can sometimes find interesting doors near your own backyard . . .


Just a few more doors from Japan

Here’s the last few doorways I managed to snap during my trip to Tokyo. All of these come from the Sensō-ji temple and the nearby market.

I found this quaint doorway in a side alley to the main market. I usually focus only on the doors in such scene, but the bike and the color of the walls were too good to pass up.


I liked the following door because it felt like a modern version of a traditional Japanese door.


My favorite doors are old, weathered ones . . .


This was a large set of doors at the temple . . . unfortunately, this was as close as I could get; I would shave liked a detail shot of the key hole.


Same with this door; it was protected by a barricade, so I couldn’t get closer.


This door had a nice set of colors.


. . . and I loved the scratches and wear-and-tear around the handle.


Presumably this is to an apartment. I liked the patterns on the facade.


And, finally, here is a nice detail of a red temple door. I particularly liked the hinges.


More doorways from Tokyo

While exploring Tokyo yesterday, I added two more doors to my collection. This first one is quite impressive in size and comes from the Yasakuni shrine.





This door is also from Yasakuni.


As for this door, it’s not normally ones I collect, but I found it in a back alley of Shinjuku and it just caught my attention. I actually passed it by, then went back to it.


I’m not sure where this door leads . . . but I have a feeling it guards more than it suggests by its simple, austere exterior.

Inspirations from Tokyo


I’ve stopped off in Japan on my way home from leading the Monsters & Mythology camp in Korea. I always love to visit new places, especially those with traditional or ancient architecture.

As such, it was with great zeal that I visited Sensō-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple in Asakusa. There were many details to fill me with inspiration.





Anyone who knows me, knows I love to “collect” doors. I found a few more to add to my gallery.






This doorway I came across in Asakusu, where I’m staying. I was amused that it was protected by two stone threshold guardians—and a real one.


More adventures await tomorrow!