Friday, 5 February 2016

More cover The Mermaid's Tale

This summer we'll release a profoundly disturbing and brilliant novel from D.G. Valdron, The Mermaid's Tale. Part grimdark, part literary parable, Valdron has created a story you won't soon forget.

In a city of majesty and brutality, of warring races and fragile alliances, a sacred mermaid has been brutally murdered. An abomination, a soulless Arukh is summoned to hunt the killer. As the world around the Arukh drifts into war and madness, her search for justice leads her on a journey to discover redemption and even beauty in the midst of chaos.

The design concept for this one presented our team with quite the conundrum. Should the cover reflect the wars and violence of the novel? Should it focus solely on the murder of the mermaid? We were going to go down the road of gore and splatter? Or were we going to reach for a restrained concept that conveyed the eerie and suspenseful tension Valdron created in his devastating novel?

And then were we going to go with darkness and moonlight? Text-based? What?

Jeff Minkevics admittedly struggled with this one, but eventually a concept coalesced, and he sent us the preliminary sketch of that vision floating about in his head.

He explained there would be lots more hair floating up over her face, with text and byline in the negative space at the top. We were so impressed by the concept we gave him the go-ahead and asked if he would mind doing another version with her eyes gouged out as they were in the story.

Jeff came back to us with these:

We all felt this concept had no manna, lacked any true emotional impact.

While this cover did convey creepy, it also lacked manna.

And this one, like Goldilocks' bears' third choice, was just right. Jeff said, "Of the three, I like [this] one the best. For some reason that look she's got is something just a little beyond sad, or tired. It's something a bit undefinable, and I really like it. Plus there's a cool Botticelli Birth of Venus thing going on there with the eyes, and the head-tilt, and the hair."

We agree. All left to do was get Den's byline right, and we're good to go.

The Mermaid's Tale, by D.G. Valdron, will be available late this summer in both print and eBook. It's a story, and cover, that will haunt you. We guarantee it.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Take 5: Five Rivers Publishing Submission Tips

Hello, writers!

Five Rivers Publishing’s submission period is only a few days away! If you haven’t marked your calendars yet, it’s February 1 to the 14 every year. Manuscripts submitted this year will be considered for publication in 2018.

Five Rivers is fully booked (pun intended) for 2017, and our publisher and editor are looking for 12 cream of the crop from this year’s submissions. It’s going to be a stiff competition, and we’re sure you already checked our Submission Guidelines, but to give you a better chance, I asked our publisher, Lorina Stephens, to tell us five important manuscript turn- offs because, you know, you always want your readers turned…um…not off.

We want you to succeed! We really, really do. So here, before you submit, come and Take 5:
  1. Research: Make sure you do your damned research. Nothing aggravates me more than to read about a whole ox roasting over a tavern fire for that day’s patrons, or of people skipping along merrily in the dark of a forest, taking note of the colours of clothing and flowers when you can’t see a damned thing let alone a colour at night. You ever walk in a forest at night? A forest far removed from any human daylighting of the darkness? It’s bloody dark! Equally, if you’re going to write about sailing, make sure you can write convincingly about life aboard ship. Or if your novel is set in the early 18th century or Roaring 20s, make sure you have all the proper clothing on your characters. Don’t assume. Know your material. Intimately.
  2. Please don’t send your manuscript in anything but DOC or DOCX format with ABSOLUTELY NO SPECIAL FORMATTING beyond italics. If you ignore that, this year we’re going to be very, very cranky and return manuscripts unread which don’t adhere to that specification.
  3. Please no eyes rolling across landscapes, or staring at other eyes, or being windows of the soul. Gazes CAN roll across landscapes and stare. But sorry, there are still no windows of the soul.
  4. Nothing’s going to make me say no faster than rehashing a known trope. Don’t try to send me the next 50 Shades (did I just hear retching?), or Hunger Games or any other bestseller. DO send me something about which you’re passionate, know intimately, write convincingly and from the heart. Share with me something you’ve drawn up from your deepest imagination. That will likely captivate my attention. Cloning won’t and is sure to be a death sentence.
  5. So what am I looking for? I’d love to see more by way of magic realism, well-researched historical fiction that doesn’t devolve to the neo-pagan or bodice-ripper, and I would like to see mystery. Canadian themes will be received favourably.
Did that help? We hope it did! We are looking forward to reading your most polished work! If you have any questions or comments, send it our way.

PS: If you’re feeling extra nervous, I found you this jazz piece by Paul Desmond “Take 5”, which became an unlikely hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever. Give it a listen, Take 5 and be inspired!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016 of a cover: A Town Called Forget

Five Rivers' Art Director, Jeff Minkevics, has once again been beavering away creating some truly amazing covers for some of our forthcoming releases.

We thought you might find it of interest to explore the creative process that has gone into creating one of these.

A Town Called Forget is a tender and often hilarious debut novel from Alberta writer, C.P. Hoff. It presented a few intriguing opportunities to explore from a cover design perspective. The novel is Anne of Green Gables turned on its head. But in this tale it is not an over-imaginative redheaded orphan that takes center stage but the off-beat town itself, full of individuals that should be restrained if not medicated. And the poor heroine of this yarn, banished to live with her Aunt Lily whom her parents have never publicly recognized, has to navigate the delicate balance between her aunt’s sanity and neuroses. Amid adventures and misadventures, she learns about patience, tolerance and even love.

So how to convey that? You're primarily dealing with concepts, although certainly Jeff could have explored the geography of a town set under Saskatchewan's endless skies. His initial concept aimed at simplicity and our heroine's arrival in Forget.

At this point we discussed moving the title circle further up, removing the off-shoulder neckline, and perhaps going with a more Art Deco background to reflect the time period. Perhaps even her dress needed to be changed from something seemingly afternoon dress to a more conservative travelling suit. In other words, change just about everything. Jeff, ever patient with mere mortals, explained why his design worked and said if we wanted change, then perhaps we needed to go in a completely different direction with something like this:

...which was of course was evil genius on his part, because the flapper concept was so far removed from where we wanted to go that it was untenable. Jeff, ever the master, sent us back his original concept but with an Art Deco design for the background, thus:

Movement of the title circle worked well in the overall flow of the design. And certainly the dress with a boat neckline rather than off the shoulder was a great improvement. The background, however, was static, without the organic, whimsical impact of Jeff's original design. So, egg on our faces, we told Jeff the original background worked perfectly well, and so the design morphed to this:

Genius! But in order to keep period details correct, we needed to switch up some of the pieces of luggage, thus:

That's it! Ah, but we forgot our dear Connie Penner was writing under C.P. Hoff, and so with one more tweak, Jeff had the perfect cover for the perfect novel.

Thank you, Jeff Minkevics!

A Town Called Forget will be available in print and eBook later this year. You won't want to miss this one. Honest. Side-splitting humour, at times tissue-worthy. And a whimsical cover that captures it all.

Monday, 18 January 2016

An exciting year ahead in 2016

If you think 2015 was a dynamic year for Five Rivers, wait till you see what's ahead in 2016.

We presently have in production some truly exciting titles, both fiction and non-fiction. And we're also giving you a sneak peek at some of the fabulous covers Jeff Minkevics has designed for our 2016 catalogue.

In addition to what we're previewing below, we will also release several more books in the Prime Ministers of Canada series.

Fans of Mik Murdoch will be pleased to know Michell Plested is beavering away at the revision of the third installment in the series with Crisis of Conscience. You won't be disappointed.

Ann Marston, author of the much-beloved Rune Blades of Celi series, will have a new release which will take her and her fans in a new direction with the debut of A Still and Bitter Grave, a compelling paranormal crime-mystery which makes its spectacular denouement in the northern reaches of Alberta, Canada. Aviation enthusiasts will love this one.

The third and final book of Susan MacGregor's The Tattooed Witch trilogy will release later this year with the dramatic tale of The Tattooed Queen. Nefarious designs at sea, expanding power struggles, and a struggle for identity and home will keep fans riveted.

And then off in an adventurous and delicious tangent we're pleased to present the mammoth and glorious work of Michelle Enzinas in the Annotated Henry Buttes Dry Dinner. Lovers of experimental archaeology and Elizabethan cuisine will revel in this highly detailed and painstakingly researched presentation of Buttes' theories of nutrition and balancing humours, combined with Enzinas' research into and redaction of Elizabethan recipes, all in glorious colour and hardcover.

For now, however, take a look at the titles which are presently in production....

May 1, 2016

Canadian Police Heroes, by Dorothy Pedersen.

Superlative bravery, humble heroism, selfless dedication: these are just some of the qualities that informed the actions of the people featured in this collection of Canadian police officers. These heroes did not hesitate to put themselves in the line of fire — from high-speed car chases down busy city streets to perilous rescues in flame-engulfed houses to protect from harm the members of their communities. For this, they are rarely thanked. This book highlights in appreciation their achievements.

7 x 9 trade paperback, 108 pages $16.99
eBook $4.99

July 1, 2016

Eocene Station, by Dave Duncan.

K. N. ‘Cannon’ Ball and his superstar wife, Tempest, are running for their lives. Cannon has exposed a fraud so huge even heads of government are implicated and determined to keep Cannon from ever testifying. Nowhere is safe, so they step out of time to a research station fifty million years in the past. The dinosaurs died out eons ago and there aren't any people around, so they ought to be safe then, right? Wrong, very wrong!

A new Dave Duncan novel is always a reason to celebrate, and his trademark blend of high adventure, hard science, and wry humour makes Eocene Station a must read.

6 x 9 trade paperback

August 1, 2016

The Mermaid's Tale, by D.G. Valdron.

In an age of dreams before the memories of men, the first city is divided by mistrust between the separate races. When a sacred mermaid is found brutally murdered, the elders summon an Aruhk—a creature of violence—to track the killer. Nameless, soulless, but not without intelligence, the Aruhk becomes obsessed with the murder no one else believes concerns them. As the Aruhk begins to piece together the mermaid's tale, the fragile alliances holding the city together begin to unravel.

6 x 9 hardcover

The Great Sky, by D.G. Laderoute.

The first time Piper Preach died he was ten years old. But the Anishnaabe spirits thought otherwise.

Now, six years later, Piper struggles with the hard realities of life in a big city. The ancient ways of his people are a distant memory. But the spirits aren’t done with him.

Pulled into their bizarre world, the place the Anishnaabe call The Great Sky, he’s plunged into the middle of a brutal war raging just a step away from reality. And this time there may be no escaping death – or even worse.

6 x 9 trade paperback

Convoys of WWII: Dangerous Canadian Missions on the North Atlantic, by Dorothy Pedersen.

Nine men tell their personal stories of life at sea during World War II. In extreme danger, they battled seasickness, injury, and less than comfortable living conditions while avoiding floating mines and torpedoes in their efforts to guide ships safely across the Atlantic Ocean.

6 x 9 trade paperback

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.

Shakespeare for Readers’ Theatre, Volume 2 contains four scripts with some of the greatest villains from the world’s best playwright. This book abridges into Readers’ Theatre format the plays Othello, Richard III, King Lear, and Merry Wives of Windsor, with memorable lines the likes of Richard III who states straight up “I am determined to prove a villain.”

Volume 2 holds 20 minute and 45 minute versions of each play as well as a director’s version with suggestions for making productions more audience ready. This book is built for individuals or groups who want to examine or perform Shakespeare in a condensed and dynamic format.

7 x 10 trade paperback

November 1, 2016

The Empire of Kaz, Book 1: Cat's Pawn, by Leslie Gadallah.

The Kazi Empire is slowly, inexorably, expanding up the arm of the Galaxy. Only the Oriani see the danger, and only Ambassador Talan recognizes the need to include humans in the alliance to oppose the Kaz. Unfortunately, in the chess of interstellar diplomacy, humans make terrible pawns.

6 x 9 trade paperback

A Town Called Forget, by C.P. Hoff

A Town Called Forget is Anne of Green Gables turned on its head. But in this tale it is not an over-imaginative redheaded orphan that takes center stage but the off-beat town itself, full of individuals that should be restrained if not medicated. And the poor heroine of this yarn, banished to live with her Aunt Lily whom her parents have never publicly recognized, has to navigate the delicate balance between her aunt’s sanity and neurosis. Amid adventures and misadventures she learns about patience, tolerance and even love.

A tender and often hilarious debut novel from Alberta writer, C.P. Hoff.

6 x 9 hardcover

Friday, 15 January 2016

Five Rivers Recommends: Good Books and Warm Drinks Part III

Hello, readers. Welcome to the weekend! You did a good job working your way to some nice free time, and we’re here to provide you with some options for your entertainment. Here at Five Rivers Publishing, we are a strong advocate for Canadian voices, so we think you’d appreciate a book about a sport about which Canadians’ voices are especially loud—hockey.

We want you to build up your hockey-enthusiasm endurance for Hockey Night(s) in Canada, and Paula Johanson’s King Kwong is up to the challenge of keeping interested and informed about hockey. King Kwong is about Larry Kwong, the China Clipper who broke the NHL colour barrier. King Kwong will take you to the NHL ice of 1948 where he became the first man of colour to play for NHL. It will last a brief one minute, but the moment is as full as the life Larry Kwong lived before and after the game. King Kwong will tell you a story of a boy skating on a frozen pond, playing with siblings, and dreaming big about racing through life in hockey skates with hockey stick swinging. It’s a familiar story for children who grow up in Canada, but for King Kwong who pursued his professional hockey aspirations prior to the Multiculturalism Act of 1988, it was quite the challenge.

Enjoy King Kwong this weekend for some hockey and the continuous pursuit of a truly Canadian goal of inclusivity and multiculturalism. For your warm drink pairing, may we suggest some tea? Going with the theme of multiculturalism, we’re giving you five teas from around the world to choose from:

Maghreb Tea from Morocco. Green Tea + Mint leaves = Refreshing

Chai Tea from India. Sweet + Spices + Cream = Yum

Oolong tea from China. Dark + Simple = Subtly Delicious

Matcha Tea from Japan. Full-bodied + Sweet = Interesting Nutritious Taste

British Tea. Black Tea + Milk = Classic

If you’re not quite the tea drinker, we won’t judge you if you opt for a cold beer. You can pick up your copy of King Kwong at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, Kobo and Indie Bound.

Check out Paula Johanson’s blog for author updates. Let us know how you like King Kwong, how your hockey team is doing this season, how you enjoy your tea, or other things you want to share with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Print price increase and we're sorry

We apologize for any stuttering of the heart our Canadian fans and readers may have experienced recently when perusing the prices for our print books.

But truly, it's not our fault. While there has been a slight increase in printing cost which took effect January 1, the real problem is our falling Loonie.

In its most simple analysis, it would seem world markets seem to think the Canadian economy is in tight tandem with the oil market. Which of course is just plain stupid. 78% of Canada's GDP is derived from service industries. Not oil. But, hey, when did the greedy idiots on any stock exchange ever pay attention to common sense and facts?

And so, as of today, our beloved Loonie is trading at 1.43US. What that means is Five Rivers' book prices of 2012, when our currency was often on par with or above the Yankee Dollar, now only buys about 3/4 of what it did. Employing that good common sense which is the benchmark of the Canadian way of life, it becomes abundantly clear Five Rivers cannot continue to offer our print books at the same retail price as the US market. Well, not unless we want to close our doors forever.

That's right. The silver lining. The lemonade.

So if Canadian print books are going to cost more, why not make that extra cost count, and offer something truly worthy of those extra hard-earned Loonies. Here's what we're planning for the upcoming year.

We're all bibliophiles here. We love books. We love reading them, looking at them, fondling them.... Ahem. Yes. Well. We do love the old artform of print. And it is our mission this year to explore that nearly-lost art-form and offer a new vision of that to our fans who wish to still have print in their homes.

Some of the titles we're releasing this year will not only be available in digital, but in hardcover, some with either specially commissioned B&W or colour original artwork and imaginative layouts, some with quality photographic reproductions. Our theory is if we're going to go to the trouble to create a print book, make it something that will last, become an heirloom.

And in the meantime our digital offerings will also have all that wonderful illustrative content, but remain affordable for those who just simply want a good read and have no wish to collect and enter the uncharted territory of the bibliophile.

So yes, price increase for print. But we're working on making that extra cost worthy of your loyalty.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Five Rivers Recommends: Good Books & Warm Drinks Part II

Another weekend is approaching and we’re here to equip you with quality R&R tools. Your favourite blanket is a staple, and for your adventure this weekend, we recommend a trip to 13th Century Gwynedd courtesy of Marie Powell’s Hawk.

Hawk will let you experience the tumultuous time in medieval Wales from the perspective of two Welsh youths. This book is rich in Welsh culture, tradition, history and myth. Join Hyw and Cat as they live through the last days of Llywelym ap Gruffudd, also known as Llywelyn the Last, or in Welsh Llwelyn Ein Llyw Olaf “Llywelyn, Our Last Leader”, and aid the Prince in the resistance against Edward I (think Braveheart’s Hammer of the Scots). Both children have a special ‘gift’ that would help them in their legendary quest!

Hawk delivers you to a historical past full of historical personages and events and with a bit of magic thrown in you’re sure in for a treat.

Speaking of treats, may we suggest you pair this adventure with a richer, more indulgent version of the classic hot cocoa, even though the use of cocoa wasn’t in use in 13th century Wales. Similar to Hawk’s rich roots this drink uses rich hot chocolate and the rich dollop of salted caramel is nothing short of magic. Recipe is by the aptly named Sugarhero.

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Picture from Sugarhero


1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
4½ cups room temperature milk (I used 1%—any fat percentage you enjoy drinking should work)
8 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
Big pinch salt
Whipped cream and caramel sauce, to garnish (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and the lemon juice, until the sugar is damp and fragrant.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and let it preheat for several minutes until the pan is hot. Once the saucepan is hot, add the sugar. Begin stirring immediately and continuously. Because the pan was preheated, the sugar will start cooking very quickly. Soon after it liquefies it will start to take on color. Cook, stirring constantly, until it is a medium amber color.
  3. Continue to stir while you stream in the milk. The caramel may seize and form small chunks of sugar, but continue to stir and heat the mixture, and by the time the milk is piping hot, the caramel will have melted and you will have a smooth liquid.
  4. Once the milk is at a simmer (small bubbles forming along the sides of the pan) remove the pan from the heat. Don’t let the milk come to a boil! Add the chopped chocolates to the pan and whisk until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of salt, taste the milk, and add more salt if desired.
  5. Serve Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with whipped cream and caramel sauce. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove top.

This book is recommended for young readers, but a more mature crowd can surely appreciate this historical fiction as well! The salted caramel hot chocolate can also be amped up with a bit of tequila for the more mature taste buds, or so we hear.

Pick up your copy of Hawk and enjoy! Copies of Hawk is available in print and as an eBook. You can purchase Hawk at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indigo, Kobo, IndieBound.

Check out Marie’s blog for more insights about Hawk and Welsh history and tradition. You are always welcome in our comment box to tell us about your adventures, your questions and your recommendations.