Clifton Park author releases new book

CLIFTON PARK — Janine De Tillio Cammarata, local author and president of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, is no stranger to writing about tough topics.

But with her latest book, she’s taking them on in a new way.

“The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs,” is the first book in a middle-grade fantasy series and the newest of several books Cammarata has published.

The Clifton Park resident started writing it in 2007 and it began as an adventure story for her children. But things changed when her son was diagnosed with Leukemia.

“I meant it as a memoir to for them, but then Nick passed away in 2008,” Cammarata said. She put the book on the back burner for several years and focused on her work with the Foundation.

But about three years ago, she picked it back up and gave it a new focus.

“11-year-old Luke is in the hospital and he’s hoping for a distraction,” Cammarata said. He starts working on this puzzle, that eventually brings him, his brother and two friends into another world.

Luke is based on her son Nick, and the story even includes a scene from a swim meet taken right out of Nick’s life. The three other main characters are Peter—who resembles Nick’s brother—Rose and Mark, who are based on Nick’s close friends.

In “The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs,” Peter tries desperately to help Luke get better and goes on a dangerous quest with Rose and Mark.

Writing the book was difficult, Cammarata said, but it was also healing. Nick was an avid reader and had a big influence on some of Cammarata’s other works and this one was no different.

“I think it helped me feel more connected with my son,” Cammarata said.

The book takes chances, taking on topics like terminal illness with quests and fantasy adventures. According to Cammarata, a few local teachers and staff members at Albany Medical have given the book to kids with serious illnesses. While stories can be fun to read, they can also be healing, Cammarata said.

“It’s about enduring friendship, never giving up and it’s a book about dealing with anything life-threatening,” Cammarata said.

At 3 p.m on Nov. 18, Cammarata will be at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza for a book signing. There will also be a launch party from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sun. Dec. 10 at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library.

Partial proceeds of the books go to Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, which assists kids, teens and adults who are being treated for cancer. For more information, visit

What's Being Said?

  • The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer's Eggs
    by Janine De Tillio Cammarata
    Highland Mountain Publishing

    "'What is the quest?' Luke asked, not getting pulled into the excitement of an adventure, even if that was what he had just been hoping for."

    Luke is an active 11-year-old who loves to swim—until one day he is sidelined with an illness that has him bedridden in the hospital. His family, including his brother, Peter, would do anything for Luke to get better. One day, upon waking in the hospital, Luke finds a puzzle next to his bed. Thinking it is a gift from a family member, he and Peter put the puzzle together. But this is no ordinary puzzle. Placing the final puzzle piece brings the puzzle to life and transports Luke and Peter into a medieval world of dragons and knights. A princess named Meriwether needs their help and in exchange will grant them each a wish. Longing for his brother to get better, Peter agrees, and Luke is excited about an adventure away from his hospital room.

    The brothers take a journey to a faraway magical land where they must help Meriwether’s dragon, Shimmer, find all her stolen eggs. But that will prove to be more challenging than either brother thought. Each adventure leads them closer to their goal, and they even bring along their best friends, Mark and Rose. But will they find all the eggs in time? Will they get their wish? Will Luke get better and be able to leave the hospital?

    Cammarata has a vision for medieval worlds and dragons and delightfully portrays that world for young readers. This book is perfectly matched to the minds of 8-12-year-olds and will captivate both boys and girls alike. There are adventures, dragons, knights, kings, and princesses, all twisted together in a beautifully told story of hope and determination. It is a tale of adventure and love.

    RECOMMENDED by the US Review


    "Cammarata's action packed storytelling never lets up. The urgency of the pacing draws the reader into Maecha's world quickly, but it is the fierceness of her loyalty and love that defines the narrative. Well-developed details ground the magical elements and make a world where people time travel in their dreams and are friends with gods believable. Jumping from the ancient past to modern day is at first jarring, but as the characters' lives weave together, their complicated relationships deepen the meaning of the story and give it a powerful sense of destiny fulfilled. "

    The US Review of Books

  • "Your book is excellent – a picture of Celtic landscape and adventure remained in my mind long after I completed the novel - I am looking forward to your sequel!"


  • "I SO enjoyed your work, I didn’t want to put it down, and then didn’t want it to end. I am very excited for the next book in the series, to continue my adventure with the sisters."


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Review

    "This well-thought-out course covered the essentials of creative writing in a logical progression. Class discussion and activities as well as assignments were thought-provoking and stimulating."


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • Adult Writing Workshop Reviews

    "Through this class I was finally able to complete something that I am confident about."

    "It bumped my thinking from left-brain to right-brain--a whole new mind!"


  • "I just wanted to let you know that I loved your book. I have been an avid reader of fantasy based novels or most of my life and I found this one refreshing and highly engaging. I truly hope there will be a few more books in this cycle. Thanks!"


  • "I bought The Warrior Within at a fundraiser although it was not the type of book I usually purchase. I have been missing out..! I was immediately hooked and disappointed that it took so long for Eyes of the Goddess to be published. Please know that I purchased Eyes of the Goddess through Amazon and appreciate how quickly it was delivered. I am amazed a the skill of the author in being able to transition from the present to the past without losing the reader in the process. I love the Celtic aspect and the storyline continues to keep me addicted to this trilogy. I am eagerly waiting for the next (and unfortunately the last) book to be published. A whole new world of books has been opened to me though my initial purchase of The Warrior Within"

    Ann Frantti

  • "The girls' best treat yesterday (Halloween) was picking up their personalized copy of Shimmer's Eggs from our favorite author! The girls were beta readers a couple of years ago before it went to press!

    Time travel, enduring friendships, and persevering during hard times...this book is best for midde elementary aged readers...but I loved it too! Heart-warming, an adventure-filled story about childhood bonds that wishstand place and time!"


  • "The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer's Eggs is amazing. Haven't been able to put it down. What a wonderful magical adventure!!"


  • "Eyes of the Goddess, Book Two of the Fianna Cycle, takes up where Warriors Within left off. Present-day New York City is entwined with 3rd century Ireland by their respective inhabitants, Michaela Sommers and Maecha Ruadh Mac Art, heiress to the throne of Tara. Michaela is involved in a search for the drug lord who killed her father, Police Narcotics Officer Jack Sommers, while Maecha is about to embark on a voyage to Alba (ancient Scotland) to free her father, King Cormac, who had been kidnapped by the Picts. The two worlds are connected by the dream travel of Michaela, the chief druid Finnius Amergin, and Natalie, a child who exists in NYC but is destined to save ancient Ireland from ruin. Cammarata's keen knowledge of Celtic lore and skill in martial arts combine to create an exciting story of ancient battles, gods and magic, honor, loyalty and love. Young adults who love a good adventure story will certainly love this one. While Eyes of the Goddess can be read as a stand-alone, readers will want to start with Warriors Within to experience the full epic tale."

    Joan Weiskotten

    Young Adult Librarian
    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library

  • Adult Journaling Workshop Reviews

    "Being able to take time to journal and focus on myself has been an incredible experience."

     The Writer's Journal School Program

    “Janine Cammarata, a natural teacher of her craft, is able to ignite a spark even in your most reluctant writer!” 

    --Marcy Philo, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY



    "Thank you so much for visiting! My kids truly enjoyed your lesson. I've never had so much fun or participation during an author visit. We were all excited to continue working on our pieces!"

    --Shannon Race, 4th grade teacher, Karigon Elementary School, Clifton Park, NY

  • "I usually read mysteries or non fiction. Every once in a while I like to try something different. If you like J.R.R. Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia this is a good fit. I enjoyed the story line and the character development. I wonder if and when book 2 will be available?"


  • "I really enjoyed this book. I love Celtic stories. I really enjoyed the dreaming aspect to the book as well. How in our dreams we can go anywhere . The characters in this book , knew that and took advantage of it.

    I had read "Warriors Within", which was her first book. I looked forward to reading this sequel (Eyes of the Goddess) and was not disappointed. I look forward to her next book!!"

    V. McCarney

Events & Workshops



    Rose and her growing band of knights get the chance to save Atlantis during their next puzzle quest. When Rose attempts to save this world on her own, her team is thrown into danger and the safety of Atlantis and her friendships are compromised. Will Rose see the value of working as a team before she is trapped in Dragonia forever?

    Saving Atlantis is the second book in The Puzzle Quests’ series of adventures that span across time and generations. No matter where you are, there is hope.


    Ages 8-12



    PRE-ORDER HERE: Free poster to first 100 orders online or at events.

    Book Events:

    Market Block Books
    Saturday, September 22 from 11am-1pm
    Arts Center of the Capital District
    Business of Art--Extended Series
    Public Reception: Friday, September 28 from 6pm-8pm
    Albany Book Festival, SUNY Albany Campus
    Saturday, September 29 from 10am-4pm
    The Writer's Journal: School Writing Program
    Berlin Middle School
    October 23
    Berlin High School Featured Presentation
    October 23
    The Writer's Journal: School Writing Program
    Mechanicville Elementary School
    Grades 3-5
    November 13, 14, 15
    Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza
    Saturday, November 3 from 3-5pm
    3-3:30 collaborative writing event
    3:30-5 chat and book signing
    The Glens Falls Chronicle Book Fair
    Queensbury Hotel
    Sunday, November 4 from 11am-3pm
    The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library
    Book Release Beach Party!
    Sunday, December 2 from 1-3:30pm
    Northshire Bookstore Saratoga
    Saturday, February 16, 2019 from 1-2:30pm
    1-1:30pm collaborative writing event
    1:30-2:30pm chat and book signing
    If you would like me to come to your school or bookstore for a writing workshop or book signing, please contact me!


  • Write Stories to Save Atlantis

    MONDAYS, October 29, November 5, 19, 26 from 3:30-4:30pm

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, Piracci Board Room

    Join author Janine De Tillio Cammarata as she shares excerpts from her latest middle grade book, The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis, and provides prompts for you to change or expand the story. Learn to create characters to write your own story. No experience necessary. Bring a notebook.

    For children in 3rd-5th grades, registration required and is for the four date series.



    Register Here

    Fan Fiction and Other Creative Writing

    MONDAYS, October 29, November 5, 19, 26 from 4:30-6:00pm

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, Piracci Board Room

    Join Janine De Tillio Cammarata as she shares excerpts from her latest Middle Grade book, The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis, and provides prompts for you to change or expand the story. Plus, create characters to write your own story or other fan fiction. No experience necessary. Bring a notebook. 

    Please register to attend this four date series. Registration opens August 27 at 9:30am

    Register Here


    Must register for each workshop separately:

    WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15--Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19--Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17--Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 - Piracci Board Room

    WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5 - Piracci Board Room

    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library from 6:30-8:30pm

    Adults 18+

    Whether it's in a notebook, blog, or sketchpad journaling can help you lead a whole and fulfilling life. It's a way to keep track of goals, life activities, dreams, and is very fun! Learn the many ways to express yourself! Each workshop will be different so come to them all!

    Bring your own journal! We have the rest!



    Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library: PIRACCI BOARD ROOM

    WEDNESDAYS, September 19 and October 17 FROM  4:00-6:00 PM

    For teens in grades 9 to 12 or home school equivalent.

    Writing is necessary for school and life, but it doesn’t have to be boring! Join Janine De Tillio Cammarata as she explores different types of journaling that can be woven into narrative and descriptive essays. No experience necessary. Bring a notebook and an essay that you are working on (optional). Please register to attend.

    Register Here