Friday, September 26, 2014

DIVINITY by Michelle L. Johnson Blog Tour: Top Ten Things Writers Should Know About The Publishing World

 Today, I am taking part in the blog tour for Divinity (released September 23-Spence City) by Michelle L. Johnson. Michelle was kind enough to answer questions about the publishing world.
"When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she's left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel. With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart. Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A'nwel and protect the family she never knew she had. What she doesn't know is that Archangels have secrets too."

Top Ten Things Every Writer Should Know About the Publishing World
Michelle L. Johnson

1)      There is no right way and wrong way. Top five, self-pub, indie press… none of these choices are wrong. If this is a decision you are trying to make, research them all, see what the pros and cons are to each, and make an informed decision. But don’t assume that because you went one way that everyone who went the other is wrong.
2)      Just because Stephen King does it, doesn’t mean you should. (Also read: Just because Danielle Steele does it, or Stephanie Meyer, or Anne Rice, or Dan Brown, or any author who sells millions of books). Learn the rules first so that you know how to break them properly.
3)      Agents and editors don’t look through their submissions seeking something to make them reject. They look through their submissions seeking a reason to say yes.
4)      It is one of the last remaining professions you can get into with an apprenticeship.
5)      The waiting happens for a reason. There is a huge process once a book is sold and it takes time to get from signed contract to book-in-hand. The part that seems to fly by because authors are a part of it is the editing. There are usually several stages of editing – three with the content editor, then usually at least three more with the copyeditor, then the proofreading. This takes several months but because it’s back and forth with the author it feels faster. This is where the waiting really begins. Because the sales team starts working and the marketing team starts working and they’re doing a lot of things that authors don’t see so authors tend to get frustrated and all like “where’s my cover?” Have faith. Write another book while you’re waiting.
6)      Selling your book will not make you enough money to quit your day job. Even if you get a good advance, you will still need an income. Those advances break down and are given over time and are usually still not enough to get you through the year without an income. And if you do get through the year, where is next year’s income coming from?
7)      Unless you self-publish, the chances of having your cover done just the way you want it is slim to none.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, and as creative people authors tend to think they could do it better, but a good publisher has a design team that knows what they’re doing, that knows the science behind fonts and colors and photos and placement. Trust them to know what they’re doing. Some publishers will work with you, but by and large they have the final say.
8)      Every author absolutely needs critique partners. That means other people who write also, who can look at your work with a clinical eye and pinpoint what needs work and what works well. That does not mean your family, close friends and neighbors. Those people lie. They mean well, but they lie.
9)      Agents and editors DO Google authors. All the time. It is always wisest to be professional out there.
10)   The publishing industry is waist-deep in an era of change and the footing isn’t sure in any direction. There are news sources that you should follow in order to keep informed. Here are my top 5:
Publisher’s Marketplace
Publisher’s Weekly
Digital Book World
Cindi Meyers Market News Blog
Bonus thing every writer should know about the publishing world: If you have a passion for writing, then don’t let anything stop you. Read and write and read and research and write some more. Keep at it and one day you will have a book in your hand. Perseverance will get you there.

Flash Questions for Author Michelle L. Johnson

1.. Pantser or plotter?

Pantser for Urban Fantasy, plotter for Mystery.

2.. Favorite genre to read?

All the genres. One does not simply choose one genre.

3.. Plot driven or character driven?

Character with a heaping side of plot.

4.. Write style: marathon or sprint?

Sprints. Unless I’m marathoning.

5.. Favorite author?

Stephen King. (Closely followed by about a hundred more…)

6.. Morning or night person?

What is this morning you speak of?

7.. Beach or mountains?

BOTH. Right now, the beach.

8.. Beer or wine?

Where does whiskey fit into that question?

9.. Summer or winter?


10.. Fancy hotel or a tent in the woods?

Fancy hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I like the woods a lot, but given a choice on a vacation, I would have to go with the one with running water. And a bed. And a coffeemaker.

Author Bio:
Michelle L. Johnson was born in Ohio and adopted by Canadians. They traveled all over North America, and when they weren't on the road Michelle could be found with her nose buried deeply in the pages of a book. With all of her travels and adventures, she hopes to bring some of her unique perspective to the pages and to entertain others the way all of her heroes have for her. When she's not hanging out with her feathered friends, she's busy being a literary agent with Inklings Literary Agency. She says wherever she hangs her coffee mug is her home, and right now that's a toasty warm Jacksonville, Florida with her happy Cocker Spaniel and her small family.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review of The Beast of Seabourne by Rhys A. Jones

The Beast of Seabourne (Book Two of The Artefact Quintet)
Rhys A. Jones

Oz Chambers has a wonderful secret; the obsidian pebble, gifted to him by his dead father, is an artefact of astonishing power. The sort of power that makes the year eight science project a hands-down walkover thanks to the the pebble's genius avatar, Soph.

But, there are sinister forces abroad who will do just about anything to get their hands on the pebble, and when fellow pupils start being attacked,  Oz finds himself in very hot water.  Soon Oz and his friends, Ruff and Ellie, are caught up in a centuries old mystery involving a missing ring, lava toothpaste and a murderous monster known as the Beast of Seabourne

My review:
Last year, I was swept away by The Obsidian Pebble (Book One in The Artefact Quintet.) Before I go into my review, let m just say that it makes my heart do all kinds of jigs and reels to know there will be two more books in the series.  The world building and the characters from The Obsidian Pebble stayed with me long after I was finished with the book. Now, Rhys A. Jones has worked his considerable magic and created the next book in the series, The Beast of Seabourne.

It was a pure delight to return to Oz’s world. His friendship with Ruff and Ellie make the three of them quite a team. Each has their own strength, and, boy, were those strengths put to the test in this adventure! As the trio continued their search for the other artifacts, they were also faced with a beast, a loony lady, a science fair competition, and the sinister group that would stop at nothing to gain control of the artifacts. A typical school year, eh? Jones did a superlative job blending enough background from book one that this book could easily be read as a stand-alone. (But, trust me, you will want to read The Obsidian Pebble. I donated a second copy to my local junior high library and will do the same with The Beast of Seabourne.)

One of the best things about these books, beside the blend of adventure and magical realism, are the relationships. Certainly, the bond of friendship between Oz, Ruff, and Ellie is the most explored and most richly realized.

But the secondary characters as just as three-dimensional. Oz’s mom is terrific, although there were a few times I want to shake some sense into her head. *cough* Rowena Hilditch? Really? You would let her in your house? *cough*.  However, Jones makes up for her with two delightful characters: Mr. Gingel and Ms. Arkwright, two teachers at Oz’s school. I am keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Another terrific thing about these books are the real day-to-day issues that are addressed. From a family’s money problems to sibling rivalry (and love), these are real characters with real problems that children and teens can relate to.

Magic realism to delight the soul, adventures to keep the pages a-turning, and characters that continue to speak to the reader long after the book is finished—The Beast of Seabourne has all of these.

Five Stars! Highly recommended.

Rhys A Jones was born in 1955 and grew up in a mining village in South Wales with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He managed to subdue his imagination long enough to carve out a career in medicine, writing whenever the chance arose.
In 1994, writing as Dylan Jones, he published his first scary book for adults, a thriller, which was subsequently made into a two-part film by the BBC. Other scary books followed.
A growing desire to move away from adult thrillers and write for children is what currently preoccupies him. The Obsidian Pebble is the first in a quintet featuring eleven-year-old Oz Chambers whose family inherits a ‘haunted’ house. His mother wants to leave, but Oz wants to unlock the house’s mysteries and uncovers a secret that will change his life forever.
Rhys A Jones has three grownup children who have emerged remarkably unscathed into adulthood. When not writing, he practices medicine and lives in darkest West Wales with his understanding (very) wife and two dogs. Visit the author at

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shamrocking Trivia: The Legend of Llyr or Lir

One of my favorite sites is Wild Eyed Southern Celt .
Recently, they posted this great summary of the legend of Llyr (or Lir), which was the inspiration for one of my favorite characters: Gideon Lir of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen fame.

From Wild Eyes Southern Celt:
In Celtic mythology, Llyr* was the leader of one of two warring families of gods; according to one interpretation, the Children of Llyr were the powers of darkness, constantly in conflict with the Children of Dôn, the powers of light.
In Welsh tradition, Llyr and his son Manawydan, like the Irish gods Lir and Manannán, were associated with the sea. Llyr’s other children included Brân (Bendigeidfran), a god of bards and poetry; Branwen, wife of the sun god Matholwch, king of Ireland; and Creidylad (in earlier myths, a daughter of Lludd).

Hearing of Matholwch’s maltreatment of Branwen, Brân and Manawydan led an expedition to avenge her. Brân was killed in the subsequent war, which left only seven survivors, among them Manawydan and Pryderi, son of Pwyll. Manawydan married Pryderi’s mother, Rhiannon, and was thereafter closely associated with them."

*Llŷr-pronounced Ll-ee-rrr (rolling the r at the end
~art by Mariana Viera on deviant art-

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: Hunt for Valamon by DK Mok

Another great read coming from Spence City! I had the good fortune to read a draft of this book and it charmed me to no end! Put it on your TBR mountain.

Hunt For Valamon 
by DK Mok.
(April 7, 2015 from Spence City)

Deep in the heart of the Talgaran Empire, Algaris Castle has been breached. No one knows how, why, or by whom. The only thing taken is twenty-eight year old Crown Prince Valamon.
Seris—a young cleric caring for the ramshackle and happily book-infested Temple of Eliantora—finds himself unexpectedly recruited to the rescue mission. His sole companion is Elhan, a cheerfully disturbed vagrant girl with terrifying combat skills, who is rumoured to be under a dangerous curse.
Far out of his depth, Seris has no fighting ability, no survival skills, and no charisma, as Elhan keeps pointing out. All he has are a stubborn streak and the conviction that unless he returns with Valamon, dire consequences await his foster family.
Chasing rumours of rebel camps and rising warlords, cursed fates and the return of the vanished sorcerers, Seris and Elhan discover a web of treachery and long-buried secrets that go far beyond a kidnapped prince.
As enemies rise from both beyond the empire and within it, Seris and Elhan must confront their own bloody pasts, and rescue Valamon, before simmering tensions in the empire erupt into war.
Here is a link to DK Mok's website:

Author bio:

DK Mok lives in Sydney, Australia, and writes fantasy, science fiction and urban fantasy novels and short stories. DK's debut urban fantasy novel, The Other Tree, was released in 2014 by Spence City (an imprint of Spencer Hill Press), and her short story 'Morning Star' (One Small Step, FableCroft) was shortlisted for an Aurealis Award.
DK grew up in libraries, immersed in lost cities and fantastic worlds, populated by quirky bandits and giant squid. She graduated from UNSW with a degree in Psychology, pursuing her interest in both social justice and scientist humour.
She’s fond of cephalopods, androids, global politics, rugged horizons, science and technology podcasts, and she wishes someone would build a labyrinthine library garden so she can hang out there. Her favourite fossil deposit is the Burgess Shale.