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

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sword and Shadow, Book 6: The Rune Blades of Celi releasing March 1, 2015

The sixth book in Ann Marston's epic and enchanting Rune Blades of Celi releases March 1, 2015.

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

The tale continues generations after the initial Kingmaker's Sword, and now the bold Celae have lived in exile, banished from their enchanted isle of Celi by the Somber Riders, whose leader, a dark sorcerer, cast an evil spell no trespasser can survive. But a glorious legend promises victory for the exiles. Two twins — princes of royal blood and secret birth — will take the Celae back home.

This is a beautifully drawn tale, with characters who rise off the page, a perfect novel for a cold winter's cuddle in your favourite chair, or a summer haunt in the shade of a whispering tree.

The cover is by Five Rivers' artistic director, Jeff Minkevics, 

Now available for pre-order.


Monday, 5 January 2015

Thus the marathon begins

Here we are; first Monday of 2015. Robert and I have been hard at it from the first bell of the year.

Robert's working on several manuscripts, a few of which are new offerings from Dave Duncan. I'm presently finalizing the layout for the third book in the Shakespeare for Slackers series, this one a weird and wonderful interpretation of Macbeth. 

Later in the week I'll be reading a fascinating SF submission, finalize the last tweaks to the sixth novel in Ann Marston's Rune Blades of Celi series, Sword and Shadow, and then set to the layout of that.

Just as a tease, here's the cover fresh from the genius of Jeff Minkevics.

If there's time left in the week, I'll be turning my attention to Alicia Hendley's sequel, Type2. 

Of course all that doesn't encompass the myriad details of daily work here at Five Rivers. So, busy week, my lovelies. Best get to it.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

From Five Rivers to you, this festive season

One of the joys I've had in my life is singing carols with a group of friends in the past. We'd gather in the pub in Mono Centre called Peter's Cellars (I know, cute, kitschy name!), which truly was a cellar, all parged, random stone walls, wonderful hewn beams, great food, fabulous libations. Our troupe, often some 20 or so of us, would deck ourselves in medieval costume, bring along flutes, bodhrans, guitars and other tim-tammy-jingle-whistle thingies, and let our voices free in gleeful, joyous abandon.

Time goes by, the venue was no longer available. The group evolved, as is the wont of life. But those memories of harmonies, music, rhythms, joy will always remain.

So, instead of prodding Five Rivers' patrons to go out and purchase any of the books in our fabulous catalogue, I thought I'd introduce to you a group of remarkable, amazing singers only recently become familiar to me, the Pentatonix, singing one of my favourite carols.

And in that spirit, all of us at Five Rivers wish you joy this festive season; peace, prosperity and good health in the new year.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

In preparation of our next reading period

Five Rivers’ reading period opens up again February 1 to 14, 2015. 

With the hope of creating clarity for writers who are considering submitting to us, we strongly recommend you view our guidelines in order to save yourselves and us a lot of angst.

To give you some idea of how our selections went in 2014, Robert and I have put together some semblance of analysis, which may or may not be significant of anything, but is most assuredly an accurate view of what occurred in 2014. Beyond that, well, you might try casting knucklebones, or scrying in a bowl of water in a silver dish, or staring at clouds.

Our acceptance rate

Robert's Acceptance Rate: 53% were rejected outright

Lorina’s Acceptance Rate: 46% were rejected outright

Robert comments: Relatively few of the submissions I rejected were badly written. Most were competent, but generic. A few showed real potential, but would have taken more work to edit than I have time to commit to them; or they had potential, but I was the wrong editor for that manuscript. (A rejection is not always about the manuscript being weak; sometimes it is a perfectly good manuscript, but not right for that publisher. I won't take on a manuscript if I don't love the book, because I'm not going to invest a month of my life in a project I won't enjoy, or to one that's outside my expertise. Indeed, the hardest manuscripts to edit are the ones that are competently written, that have no obvious flaws, but just don't seem to sing. One needs to find the editor that can hear the song that could come from that manuscript. One of the manuscripts from a new author I rejected subsequently sold to another press (so a rejection is not necessarily the end of the world).

Lorina comments: I would have to say of the manuscripts which I rejected outright, most were badly written, with clumsy writing, cardboard characters, cliché phrasing and plot. Given I read for both work and pleasure about nine books a month, my tolerance is likely lower than Robert’s. On the other hand it could simply mean I’m just hard to please and suffer from a dose of hubris. One thing Robert and I do emphatically agree on is the work needs to sing. As I’ve said in previous blog posts, write me a story, tell me a tale, be Shcheherazade and bewitch me.

For Robert, 30% of the manuscripts he received are still under review; for Lorina, 1%. Why the difference? Five Rivers is very lucky to have Robert’s time, in that although semi-retired as a professor at the University of Lethbridge, his time is still very much in demand, and so whatever he affords us we gratefully accept. For Lorina, Five Rivers is her main occupation and so manuscripts tend to flow through her hands faster.

The 'under review' category are solicited manuscripts that came in outside the official Feb review period, usually through personal contacts or pitches at conventions. The longest a manuscript has sat with Robert in 2014 is three months...but those are manuscripts that have already passed through the first screening; they're books he’d like to acquire if he could work them into his editing schedule, but in the end, he’ll have to reject most of them because Five Rivers only have so many slots in our publishing schedule.

Of the manuscripts Lorina received, the longest a manuscript has sat is about eight weeks, and in those cases were also screened through a query process. It is likely those remaining for Lorina to read will be accepted, as if an author makes it through that first vetting, it’s likely a publishing agreement will be reached, but not always guaranteed.

Of the submissions Robert received in 2014, 17% received contracts, while Lorina’s resulted in 23%.

It's hard to resist a brilliant manuscript, but we're developing a backlog, so that figure is likely to go down in 2015, especially in light of the fact we are committed to releasing 29 books.

Identifying what we're looking for in a manuscript is difficult. Great book obviously, but even we don't always know what we will like. For example, Robert opened a submission last month of a genre he doesn’t read, set in a locale he hates, on a topic that bores him, fully expecting it to be a fast reject, something he could get off his desk quickly. He had already started the "thanks for letting us see this, but this really isn't what Five Rivers publishes" letter in his head, but damn if the writer didn't catch his attention on the first page and keep him riveted through the first six chapters. There was this scene about castor oil…. He was forced to move the manuscript into the 'will have to read closely, because am thinking seriously about buying it' stack. Who could have predicted that? Robert says, “How do I ask to see more manuscripts that surprise me with a castor oil scene? I mean, that would solicit entirely the wrong sort of book.”


Of the submissions Robert received, 63% of submissions were by males, and 37% female; for Lorina 58% male versus 42% female.

The acceptance rate, however, was closer to fifty-fifty (exactly 50/50 if you count titles rather than authors, because we negotiated a couple of two and three book contracts in there.) Gender doesn’t really play into the decision at all, including alternate orientations. And frankly we have no idea what is anyone's ethnicity, so as long as the manuscript is in English, none of this is an issue for Five Rivers.

36% of all submissions were from professional writers in Robert’s year, whereas 99% were for Lorina.

16% of submissions were from writers that have already had five or more books published by major presses; of those, Robert rejected 40% outright. The other 20% were from professional writers/editors with short fiction, magazine, or technical writing credits; of those 33% were rejected outright, and 67% remain under review (see above). 7% were submitted through a literary agent. Having an agent probably did force Robert to get around to reviewing the manuscript slightly sooner than he might have otherwise, but since Five Rivers doesn't offer advances, there is not a lot else an agent can negotiate that would be worth their 15%. Since Five Rivers is open to unsolicited manuscripts the first two weeks of every February, one really does not need an agent to submit.

Of the manuscripts we viewed, Lorina received 35% from previously self-published writers, while Robert received 7%.

All of those were rejected, but that's not policy, just what happened in 2014.


7% of submissions were nonfiction.

Of the 93% of submissions that were fiction:
  • 40% YA
  • 28% fantasy
  • 20% mystery/thriller/spy
  • 5% historical
  • 5% Canlit
  • 5% other
  • 2% science fiction
Of the books we bought in 2014:
  • 20% were nonfiction
  • 20% were CanLit
  • 40% were fantasy
  • 10% were science fiction
  • 5% were historical fiction
  • 5% were YA fiction
But that just reflects what happened to come our way in 2014; as long as the manuscript matches our general guidelines (see we'll take a look at whatever you have.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Looking back, looking forward

Michelangelo's Dawn and Dusk sculpture
Medici Chapel
It's December and time for reflection on what we've achieved and where we're going. In the past year, Five Rivers has seen our catalogue expand from 34 books to 46.

The 2014 titles are:


Of the authors published in 2014, two of the nine authors made their debut. And of the many submissions we received this year, only 0.31% resulted in a publishing contract. In a later post, we’ll discuss the problems we frequently encounter with manuscripts, what we look for, what we don’t, and what will often result in a quick acceptance or rejection.

This year there have been setbacks as well as growth. We terminated our agreement with Iambik Audiobooks because of their lack of timely reporting and payment. Not to be daunted, we continue to investigate avenues for audiobook production of our catalogue and hope to have a solution to that in 2015.

We were also pleased to welcome aboard our intern, Jill Cabrera, who oversees some of our social media, as well as maintenance of our metadata.

Looking forward, 2015 will see our catalogue explode with the release of 29 books.

The majority of those are part of the Prime Ministers of Canada series we’re publishing, a project of which we’re very proud. When Nate Hendley came to us in 2012 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.

And so, we are pleased to present to you the lineup for 2015:


Sword and Shadow, Book 6: The Rune Blades of Celi, by Ann Marston
Shakespeare for Slackers: Macbeth, by Aaron Kite


King Kwong: Larry Kwong, the China Clipper who broke the NHL colour barrier, by Paula Johanson
The Tattooed Rose, Book 3, by Susan MacGregor
Shakespeare for Readers’ Theatre, Book 2: Shakespeare’s Greatest Villains: The Merry Wives of Windsor; Othello, the Moor of Venice; Richard III; King Lear, by John Poulsen
The Prime Ministers of Canada: John Diefenbaker, by Lanny Boutin
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Lester B. Pearson, by Gordon Gibb
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Pierre Trudeau, by Paula Johanson
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Robert Borden, by Dorothy Pedersen
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Alexander Mackenzie, by Elle-Andra Warner
Eye of Strife, by Dave Duncan
Hunter's Daughter, by Nowick Gray 


Tower in the Crooked Wood, by Paula Johanson


Chronicles of Ivor, by Dave Duncan


The Prime Ministers of Canada: John S.D. Thompson, by Elle-Andra Warner
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Charles Tupper, by Paula Johanson
Hawk, by Marie Powell


Cat’s Pawn, by Leslie Gadallah


Type2, by Alicia Hendley
Bane’s Choice, Book 7: The Rune Blades of Celi, by Ann Marston
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Arthur Meighen, by Dorothy Pedersen
The Prime Ministers of Canada: William Lyon Mackenzie King, by Nate Hendley
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Joe Clark, by Lanny Boutin
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Jean Chretien, by Nate Hendley
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Paul Martin, by Elle-Andra Warner
Beyond Media Literacy: New Paradigms in Media Education, by Colin Scheyen
The Prime Ministers of Canada: John A. Macdonald, by Mark Shainblum
The Prime Ministers of Canada: Wilfred Laurier, by Mark Shainblum

We hope you will find our 2015 offerings of interest, and continue to journey with us on this never dull, always fascinating voyage on the good ship, Five Rivers.