Monday, 23 February 2015

It's the third Slackers!

Continuing in the madcap, shredded, reconstructed, irreverent, hang-on-to-your seats series Shakespeare for Slackers, Aaron Kite and Audrey Evans have delved into the boiling, toiling, troubling pot of Macbeth and created a dastardly delightful modern take on The Bard's dark and legendary work.

ISBN 9781927400739 7 x 10 Trade Paperback $17.99
eISBN 9781927400746 $4.99

We give you the Slackers version of Act 1 Scene 1:

The place: Scotland and England. Though, I guess that’s two places, actually....

Act 1 Scene 1 — Some desert with really sucky weather.

(Three hags in pointy hats show up).

First Witch
So, when are we going to do this thing? Or are we just here to enjoy the weather?

Second Witch
We’ll have to wait until those silly boys are done fighting.

Third Witch
They’ll be done today, I think.

First Witch
Good, my broom is getting soaked. Where should we hook up?

Second Witch
How about that other place in the middle of nowhere?

Third Witch
Good call. That’s where Macbeth will show up.

First Witch
Ooo, do I hear an impatient kitty meowing over there? I’m coming, Mister Greymalkin! Does woogums want a treat?

Second Witch
Let’s wrap this up. My frog’s getting hungry.

Third Witch
Good idea.

White is black and black is white,
Grant us now the power of flight.
(They zip away on broomsticks)

Shakespeare for Slackers: Macbeth releases March 1, 2015, and is now available for pre-order.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Presenting the Prime Ministers of Canada series.

In 2012 when crime-writer Nate Hendley came to Five Rivers with the view to finding a home for the orphaned Prime Minister books from now defunct JackFruit Press, we were pleased to undertake breathing new life into the incomplete series.

The original series had been targeted to early primary school students, more of a graphic novel approach. We decided to expand the demographic for the series so the books would be readable by, and appeal to, senior primary through young adults, with more of a journalistic, biographical tone than a graphic novel, thereby giving the Prime Minister’s office the dignity and respect it should command, while still retaining engaging readability.

Anyone who thinks Canadian history is boring should read this series. There’s enough triumph and tyranny, subterfuge and noble (or Nobel) enterprise to interest even the most jaded reader.

So it is with great pride we're releasing on March 1, 2015, the first book in the series, which is, in fact, Volume 14: Lester B. Pearson.

ISBN 9781927400838 6 x 9 Trade Paperback $14.99
eISBN 9781927400845 $4.99

Canada’s 14th Prime Minister was a statement in contrasts. He was an academic, and an athlete. He was a politician who hated politics. He had powerful friends throughout the world – and he was an everyman who preferred the quiet solitude of home and hearth, and intimate gatherings with friends. He spoke with a lisp and favoured bow ties. And yet when he spoke, the entire world listened.

Lester Bowles ‘Mike’ Pearson never aspired to the mantle of Canadian government. And yet, when fate intervened and he found himself first as Leader of The Opposition and then later as Prime Minister, Pearson and his government achieved a remarkable number of significant reforms that went a long way towards shaping the country we know today. These include universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, official bilingualism, and the adoption of the distinctive Maple Leaf flag. Remarkably, the Pearson government achieved all this and much more with two, successive minority governments.

Prior to becoming Prime Minister, Lester Pearson’s background was in the Canadian Civil Service. He was present at the founding of the United Nations, and his vision for a UN Peacekeeping Force played a major role in averting the Suez Canal Crisis in 1956. Subsequently, Pearson was the first Canadian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in concert with his international diplomacy.

Throughout his academic and political life he remained on a first-name basis with world leaders, and was easily the best-known Canadian on the world stage. And yet he was not given to the trappings of fame or status, and in tandem with his professional accomplishments he maintained his love for sports, and especially baseball.

A man of simple tastes, Pearson was selfless and unquestionably dedicated. His career required constant air travel, and yet he didn’t fly well. He preferred understated homes over opulent addresses. And while he would view the implementation of the Canadian flag as his proudest achievement, in most respects he viewed himself as little more than a regular guy, just doing his job.

He was also one of the best Prime Ministers of our time….

Gordon Gibb

The author of Pearson's biography is Gordon Gibb, a broadcaster and author based in Peterborough Ontario, a city where a young Lester Pearson and his family once called home.

A seasoned radio host, Gordon is in his 39th year at Corus Entertainment’s HITS 100.5 FM. Over the course of his writing career, Gordon’s byline has appeared in MacLean’s, Canadian Living, Chatelaine, Reader’s Digest, Cottage Life, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, the Peterborough Examiner and Peterborough This Week. ‘Gibberish: Tall Tales and Domestic Disasters from Beyond the Microphone,’ released in 2014, is a humorous collection of slice-of-life essays. 

Along with this book, Gordon plans to release his first novel later this year. Gordon also serves as the in-arena announcer for the storied Peterborough Petes Canadian Junior hockey franchise in the winter months, and the Peterborough Sr. Lakers lacrosse franchise in the summer. 

In his spare time, Gordon is an active volunteer and tinkers with online netcasting. Married with four grown children, Gordon divides his time between Peterborough, Ontario and a summer cabin in Haliburton. This is his third book.

The cover is by Five Rivers' Art Director, Jeff Minkevics. Jeff undertook to create a look for the series which would lend a sense of gravitas to the biographies of Canada's Prime Ministers. He chose a simple red and white motif to reflect our flag, along with a simple framing for black and white, almost Karsh-like, portraits. 

There are a total of 21 books in the series, which will expand as Prime Ministers retire from office. 

2015 will see the release of:

Pierre Elliot Trudeau, by Paula Johanson
Robert Borden, by Dorothy Pedersen
John S.D. Thompson, by Elle-Andra Warner
Charles Tupper, by Paula Johanson
Alexander Mackenzie, by Elle-Andra Warner
Arthur Meighen, by Dorothy Pedersen
William Lyon Mackenzie King, by Nate Hendley
Joe Clark, by Paula Johanson
John Diefenbaker, by Paula Johanson
Jean Chretien, by Nate Hendley
Paul Martin, by Elle-Andra Warner
John A Macdonald, by Mark Shainblum
Wilfred Laurier, by Mark Shainblum

2016 Five Rivers will release the remainder of the series:
R.B. Bennett, by Paula Johanson
John Abbott, by Dorothy Pedersen
Mackenzie Bowell, by Dorothy Pedersen
John Turner, by Dorothy Pedersen
Brian Mulroney, by Dorothy Pedersen
Kim Campbell, by Paula Johanson
Louis St. Laurent, by Dorothy Pedersen

Lester B. Pearson is now available for pre-order. School, library and bookstore inquiries welcome.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ann Marston Talks about Wordsmithing the World of The Rune Blades of Celi

Five Rivers is happy to announce: Ann Marston’s sixth book of The Rune Blades of Celi: Sword and Shadow will be re-released March 1, 2015. 

Ann Marston
In this edition, Ann Marston worked closely with editor and publisher, Lorina Stephens, and designer, Jeff Minkevics to bring readers a re-sharpened Celtic Fantasy. 

Anne Marston talked about the experience of writing, publishing, and republishing to bring a world from imagination to reality. 

JC: First off, congratulations for the re-release of Sword and Shadow. How would you differentiate the experience between the initial release and this upcoming re-release?

ISBN 9781927400166    $37.99
eISBN 9781927400173     $9.99
Trade Paperback 6 x 9, 504 pages
AM: Kingmaker's Sword was my first novel sale, and HarperPrism offered me a contract for the first three books—the first complete, the second about two-thirds done and the third "vapour-ware" as we said then. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed at actually selling the novels, and spent a lot of time floating around saying things like, "Wow," and "Good gracious heavenly me," and stuff like that. Signing with Lorina for the re-release wasn't quite so breathtaking, but I'm finding it an extremely satisfying experience. With the first publisher, I had little or no say about what the covers of the books should look like (although I must say I lucked out in getting an artist like Yvonne Gilbert to do them.) With Five Rivers I've been working very closely with the artist, and among the three of us, Lorina and Jeff and me, we've produced some truly impressive covers for these new editions—mostly their work, not mine. Also, there isn't as much pressure with the re-releases. All of them have been somewhat revised, updated and tweaked to be better, so it wasn't a matter of creating the stories from whole cloth. I've actually really enjoyed the process this time, and Lorina is an absolute sweetheart to work with. We've gone round and round on a few things, most notably word usage; it's been a process of give and take, and I think we've managed to produce a product that is better than the first. I also really like the trade paperback format, and I've been told by people that the larger format is so much easier to read as the print is not as small. 

All of them [the books] have been somewhat revised, updated and tweaked to be better

JC: The Rune Blades of Celi is a Celtic fantasy; what inspired this fusion? 

AM: I have always been fascinated by the Celts and Celtic history. I realize a lot of it has been thoroughly romanticized but that what makes good stories. In university, my minor was history and I tried to specialize in the period that used to be called the Dark Ages, or sometimes even the Arthurian Age. (So very many books out there about tracing the REAL Arthur—but that's a whole 'nother story.) I have read tons of fiction and non-fiction about Arthur and Merlin, and one of my objectives with this series was to write an Arthurian type of story where Arthur didn't act like an idiot, and actually won in the end. That's how The Western King came about, book two in the series. The Scots, the Irish and the Welsh have a marvellous wealth of myths and legends dealing with magic and music and I wanted to incorporate some of that flavour into my books—that ideal of the larger than life hero who struggles against the odds and in the end manages to win despite losses and pain. I'm also a fan of Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces, and his interpretation of the journey of the hero. As well, most of my books are "coming of age" stories, and that usually lends itself very well to the fantasy genre. 

... one of my objectives with this series was to write an Arthurian type of story where Arthur didn't act like an idiot, and actually won in the end.

JC: Did you grow up reading fantasy? Who would you say is your greatest influence? And how did this author influence your writing? 

AM: I grew up reading every-and-anything I could get my hands on. Until I reached high school, I wasn't even aware that fantasy was a separate genre from anything else. I was lucky because my parents never put any limits on what I could or couldn't read. They figured that if the subject matter of the book was too mature for me, I'd probably not understand it and be no worse off for the reading of it—and they were right. (I read Lady Chatterly's Lover when I was about ten. Hardly understood a word of it.) If I had to pick one author whose writing influenced me most, I'd have to say Mary Stewart and her Merlin TrilogyThe Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment. I love the way she uses words; I love the stories and I fervently wish I could write that engagingly. There was a time when I not only wanted to emulate Mary Stewart, I wanted to BE her. Even now, I bring out the books on average of once every couple years and re-read them. It's like visiting old friends. I have a set of battered hardcover editions of all three books and not long ago I acquired them for my Kindle. Makes them a lot easier to carry around. However, I think it was Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana that showed me that a fantasy (Mary Stewart's books seemed to me to be almost historical fiction rather than pure fantasy) could be one thumping good story as well as wielding a lot of magic all over the place. Before I read Tigana, I had been writing mostly suspense-adventure books (three of them, all unsold). After Tigana, I tried a fantasy, which eventually turned into Kingmaker's Sword, and the rest, as we say, is history. 

JC: Fantasy novels always seem to have a distinct authorial “voice”. Did it take you long to develop the diction for your story telling? 

AM: That's a really difficult question to answer. I've been scribbling most of my life. I wrote my first novel in high school (and it was so bad it's a blessing nobody knows where the heck it went) and kept scribbling on and off forever. I got side-tracked by university—hard to read anything extracurricular then—and then started raising kids and working. I had about five minutes to myself a day and in twenty years, managed to sell three short stories and write those three suspense-adventure novels, which I never considered to be good enough to try to sell. It wasn't until I began to work as a Duty Manager at the Edmonton Municipal Airport that I actually had time to really write. I worked an eight-day cycle, two twelve hour day shifts, two twelve hour night shifts, then four days off—and no family obligations. For the first time, I had lots of time to write, and about then I read Tigana and started the Rune Blades series. I don't actually remember thinking about an authorial "voice." I had written enough by then to understand that some things worked better than others for me, and seemed to get incorporated more as an automatic process than by any conscious manipulation. Also, I try to change the "diction" of the story to suit different characters, mostly because I want the character to tell the story in his or her own voice. (I sometimes sit down with my characters and demand they tell me all about themselves, and I listen to the way they express themselves. Sometimes it works…) 

  I sometimes sit down with my characters and demand they tell me all about themselves.

JC: How did you create the world for your books? Did you use actual topographical information of Scotland and integrate it with your story? 

Harrison Lake, British Columbia
AM: It sometimes seems to me that the world sort of created itself. I know the province of Skai on the Island of Celi (and that's pronounced Keli with the Celtic hard-c) is very much based on the lower mainland of British Columbia as far as fauna and weather and even terrain is concerned, with a lot of the British Lake District thrown in for good measure. The Highlands of Scotland are beautiful in their way, but I've not been there since I was very young, and it's hard to get the atmosphere of a place from just pictures and the blurred, sometimes confused, memories of childhood. I used to teach a writing course at MacEwan for The Writing Works, and one of the things I tried to get into the heads of new writers that no country and especially no continent is homogenous. I've tried to vary the countries of my world so they're different from each other. I had fun inventing things to go into the world, such as the magics and the religions and the economic systems. I tried not to be pedantically determined to set out every single detail because leaving a lot to the imagination of the reader can work pretty well most times. And again, as for Scotland, well you just have to admit that there's certainly something about a man with a well-turned knee in a kilt with a honkin' big sword (think claymore) strapped to his back…. just have to admit that there's certainly something about a man with a well-turned knee in a kilt with a honkin' big sword (think claymore) strapped to his back…. 

JC: How long did it take to write The Rune Blades of Celi? What would you say was the hardest part? What was the easiest? 

AM: It took about a year, plus or minus, to write, re-write and edit each book. The hardest part was starting, the second hardest part was keeping on going. I usually knew where the story began, and I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to end, but there were times when I wasn't sure how I was going to get from that Point A to Point B. Sometimes I had to come to a screeching halt, back up and try to get the story back on track because it seemed to be kiting off on a track to nowhere. After I finished writing the books, I began the editing process. This might take a month or so, but I belong to a great writers' group and they're all tremendously good with critiques. This part can be almost as frustrating as the actual writing of the book. The easiest part? Getting up from the desk chair, turning off the computer and finally, finally getting to bed just before the sun comes up. 

JC: How does it feel finishing a writing project? 

AM: Wonderful. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Depressing because "Now what do I do…?" Discombobulating occasionally as I think, "Wow. Did I do that?" Relief that it's over for now. All of these mixed in with satisfaction, trepidation and the need for sleep. 

As Ann Marston catches up on sleep and worry about her next project, you can all check out The Rune Blades of Celi: Sword and Shadow on March 1, 2015, and let us hear what you think about it. 

ISBN 9781927400814
6 x 9 trade paperback, $31.99
eISBN 9781927400821

If you have any questions for Ann Marston, or any of our authors, we’ll be happy to hear them, just scroll down to the comment box and stay in touch.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Marie Powell guest speaker at Regina St. David's Day banquet

Award-winning author, Marie Powell, will be the guest speaker at the Regina Annual Saint David's Day Banquet.

Marie Powell

Powell is an experienced professional writer and author of 15 books, as well as fiction, poetry, and articles in regional, national, and international magazines. Her many interests include writing, photography, walking, exploring nature trails, visiting museums, laughter, and laughing. She has two adult children and one cat. Her talk will focus on her research through the countryside of the last true Prince of Wales, to write her young adult fantasy novel, Hawk, which releases August 1, 2015.

Entertainment will be provided by Alison Purdy. Purdy is rehearsal accompanist for the Regina Philharmonic Chorus, as well as a performer on the piano and harp. She began studying harp while attending the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where she obtained a Bachelor of Music Honours Degree. Alison is active in the local musical community as an accompanist and church organist. She frequently accompanies at recitals and at the Regina Music Festival.

Annual Saint David's Day Banquet: St David's Welsh Society of Regina
Date: Saturday, February 28, 2015.
Place: Emerald Room, Executive Royal Hotel Regina. 4025 Albert Street.
(Former West Harvest Inn).
Time: Reception: 6:00 - Buffet: 7:00.
Price: $35 per person - Children 4-10 half-price. Children under 4 free.
* Note: All Tickets MUST be purchased by 19 February. *

Further information and updates can be found on the Facebook event page. 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Hunter's Daughter, by Nowick Gray, releases March 1, 2015

ISBN 9781927400777 6 X 9 Trade Paperback $24.99
eISBN $4.99

We are pleased to announce the release of a fascinating murder mystery, Hunter's Daughter, on March 1, 2015, by British Columbia author, Nowick Gray. But to say Hunter's Daughter is a mere murder mystery cannot begin to encompass what impressed us with this novel: the sharp writing, tense plot, deliciously detailed cultural and environmental surround. This is a tense novel that speaks with authority about the ambiguities of culture and region.

The Premise

Northern Quebec, 1964: Mountie Jack McLain, baffled by a series of unsolved murders, knows the latest case will make or break his career. Eighteen-year-old Nilliq, chafing under the sullen power of her father in a remote hunting camp, risks flight with a headstrong shaman bent on a mission of his own. Their paths intersect in this tense mystery charting a journey of personal and cultural transformation.

Nowick Gray

The Author

Nowick Gray has contributed short fiction and essays to a variety of periodicals and anthologies since 1976, when he received his MA in Canadian literature from the University of Victoria. His first book-length literary publication, the time-loop adventure novella Rendezvous, was released in 2013, followed by three more titles in 2014: PsyBot, a speculative novel of virtual reality, and two collections of shorter works infused with magic realism, Strange Love / Romance Not For Sale and My Country: Essays and Stories From the Edge of Wilderness.

Much of Nowick's writing draws from his two decades homesteading in the interior mountains of British Columbia. Other adventures include teaching for three years in Quebec Inuit villages -- an experience from which the forthcoming mystery novel Hunter’s Daughter arose -- and indulging a lasting passion for West African drumming, as a student, teacher and performer. Nowick currently works as a freelance copy editor and makes his home in Victoria, BC, with winter travels in warmer locations.

Connect with Nowick through his writings website,, or through social media: Facebook | Twitter | Blog.

The Cover

Again the genius of Jeff Minkevics shines through in this cover. The Ungava region can be very bleak, particularly near pack-ice. As a contrast to that we have the passionate subject of this novel, Nilliq, who often refuses to wear the traditional bird-skin tunic of the Inuit women in the correct fashion: feathers in, for warmth, and in this way the tunic becomes a metaphor for Nilliq's rebellion. And so it is Jeff chose to reveal Nilliq beneath the tradition of the feathers of the bird-skin tunic, and against the harsh, unforgiving background of Canada's far north.


Hunter's Daughter is now available for pre-order in both print and eBook. 


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

King Kwong, by Paula Johanson, releases March 1, 2015

A revealing and fascinating biography about Larry Kwong,  King Kwong: the China Clipper who broke the NHL colour barrier, releases March 1, 2015, written by British Columbia author, Paula Johanson.

ISBN 9781927400753
6 x 9 Trade Paperback, 92 pages, $11.99
eISBN 9781927400760 $4.99

Who is Larry Kwong? He is the Canadian player who broke the colour barrier in the NHL. A man whose professional hockey career statistics include leading the senior leagues for scoring and for low penalty minutes – and a single shift on the ice in an NHL game. He was scouted three times by NHL teams before that game, and courted away from the NHL to a powerful role in three different leagues before retiring.

He is Larry Kwong, a Canadian of Chinese descent born in Vernon BC in 1923, a hard-working man and World War II serviceman who played hockey most of his life.

Paula Johanson explores the life and accomplishments of the China Clipper, Larry Kwong, whose story is one of an indomitable spirit who triumphs in the face of adversity and social discrimination.

Chad Soon, Director of the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives and Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, says of the biography:
Author Paula Johanson brings justice to Kwong’s extraordinary life.  All the elements of classic fiction are here, and yet this is riveting history. We follow the ultimate long shot as he chases the 'impossible'…and triggers a shift in his society.
 The striking cover is by Five Rivers' Art Director, Jeff Minkevics.

King Kwong is now available for pre-order.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Marie Powell appearing at Regina Public Library Film Theatre

Marie Powell
Marie Powell, author of the forthcoming historical fantasy, Hawk, (releasing August 1, 2015) will be appearing at the Regina Public Library Film Theatre, Saturday, January 24, 2015, 1:00-2:00 PM.

Powell will be presenting a talk on northern Welsh castles, ranging from the English castles of Edward I to Welsh castles pre-dating 1282. This is part of RPL's Travel Weekend. For all ages. Location: Regina Public Library Film Theatre, Central Adult branch. * Registration required.

Conwy Castle