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See all my books at AllThatChazz.com.

It’s official: Despite my weight loss, I’m an Editor-at-large

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In addition to my regular projects, I’m editing books for Five Rivers. This was posted on the Five Rivers Facebook Page today by the publisher, Lorina Stephens:

This year marks a pivotal year for Five Rivers, with four books due for release, and the possibility of an additional two, many from debut authors, some from recognized and beloved experts.

Because of increased editorial demands, we’ve sought out another editor for our team, and are pleased to present our Editor-at-large, Robert Chute.

Robert “Chazz” Chute graduated from The University of King’s College with an honours degree in Journalism. After working in daily newspapers, he graduated from the Banff Publishing Workshop (Books and Magazines) and moved to Toronto to work in book publishing.

He has been a proofreader and slush pile evaluator (Harlequin), a publicist and senior editor (The Canadian Book Information Centre) and a book sales rep (Lester & Orpen Dennys and Cannon Book Distributors.) During that time he was also a co-founder of The Point, The Newsletter of Newsletters and junior editor for Film Canada Yearbook. He also vetted fiction manuscripts for authors.

After 16 years working in the alternative health field, he writes the regular back page column for Massage & Bodywork Magazine for which he was recently nominated for a Maggie Award. These days Chazz is writing and polishing manuscripts again full-time. And now part of Five Rivers’ editorial team.

We are thrilled to add Chazz to our masthead.

Filed under: Books, Editing, Editors, publishing, What about Chazz?, , ,

Author profile: Alicia Hendley’s Subtle Thing

Alicia Hendley’s book A Subtle Thing tells the story of Beth, a young woman who attempts to navigate through life while experiencing recurrent clinical depression. Throughout the novel, Beth copes with life’s difficulties. Beth’s trials may resonate with many readers, especially those related to education, career, parenthood, and relationships.


Alicia Hendley, author of A Subtle Thing


Alicia was born in Kitchener, Ontario in 1970. She completed a B.A. at Wilfrid Laurier University in psychology. Then she progressed to her Master’s degree and PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Windsor. Alicia’s a psychologist in the Counselling Centre at the University of Waterloo. She’s on maternity leave with her fourth child. She lives in Guelph with her husband (a journalist.)

CW: Alicia,when did you first know you wanted to be an author?

AH: That’s a good question, but a hard one for me to answer. I can’t remember a time in which writing and reading stories were not integral parts of my life. When I was growing up, my mother was a librarian and my father was a philosophy professor so books were fundamental to family life. When I was about ten, my parents gave me an old manual typewriter. From then on I spent much of my free time pounding out stories and poems. My writing continued and became a welcome stress reliever for me. I count on writing to ground me, no matter how busy or pressured the rest of my world. Now as a psychologist and mother of four, writing is something separate that just belongs to me. It’s vital for maintaining my sense of self.

CW: Tell us about A Subtle Thing. How did you get the idea for your book?

AH: Indirectly, the idea of writing a book about depression likely came from my job. I’m a clinical psychologist, so thinking about mental health is normal for me. I’ve always been interested in the more complex side of human experience. What probably drew me to psychology in the first place was my interest in more existential stuff: the importance of meaning, resilience, and authenticity in people’s lives.

CW: What’s your writing process?

AH: While I don’t have a formal writing process, per se, the way I start writing something new (whether a poem or a story) is often the same. Basically, I jot ideas down whenever they strike. Ideas seem come at me rather than me sitting down and consciously thinking about what I want to write. I wrote much of A Subtle Thing while on maternity leave with my third child so I had limited time to devote to it. Parts of the book were written on the back of receipts and paper bags, whatever I had handy at the time. I then used the small breaks I did have in the day to develop those ideas.

I perfected writing in spurts when trying to finish my dissertation in grad school. I was a single mother of two then, with very limited time to research or write. I was forced to learn how to immediately take advantage of free time when it became available, be it a half-hour nap period or early in the morning. Writer’s block is not a term known to single mothers, at least not to me)!

CW: How long did it take you to write the book and find an agent and publisher?

AH: I’d say that the book took about a year to write. The short stories upon which The book is based on short stories I wrote during lunch breaks in my office. I completed the rest of the book on my maternity leave.

CW: And your path to publication was…?

AH: After I completed the first version of A Subtle Thing, I sent it to a few small presses. I received positive feedback from one, but they rejected it. I then learned from my brother Nate (who is also an author) about a fairly new, independent publishing house (Five Rivers Chapmanry.) He encouraged me to send my manuscript to them. The feedback I received from Five Rivers was encouraging. They suggested I lengthen the book and resubmit it.

CW: What’s the most surprising thing you discovered writing this book?

AH: A Subtle Thing struck me as an odd little book, something I thought might be considered too dark, too out of the mainstream for most readers to embrace. Since it’s been published, however, I’ve learned that a lot of people do connect with it. For example, I know of a men’s book club that recently read my novel and gave it positive feedback. I like being surprised!

CW: What were the obstacles you faced getting the book out? 

AH: I guess the biggest challenge now that it’s published is getting exposure for the book, getting the word out. As a previously unpublished, unknown author, this can be really tough. I had assumed all books were on a level playing field with regard to getting book reviews. That’s not necessarily true, which can be frustrating. To me, negative feedback is much better than indifference or silence.

CW: Publishing can be a hard road. Did you doubt yourself along the way? 

AH: I’d say that the hardest part of the publishing process is maintaining your motivation level and belief in yourself in the face of rejection. As a psychologist, I’m used to pretty instant feedback in my work—I learn very quickly if what I’m doing with a client is helping or hindering them. What I most enjoy is hearing feedback from readers. After a lifetime of writing mainly just for me, this is exhilarating.

Sending out manuscripts to publishers is a different beast altogether. For about three years I sent out one manuscript (a memoir) to publishers. I received a number of standard rejection letters, but was able to get over the first “hump” a few times, with the manuscript being sent out to readers. I would then learn several months later that the manuscript had again been rejected. In hindsight, the memoir did need revision. I found the process equal parts discouraging, humbling, and frustrating.

CW: What advice would you give unpublished writers?

AH: My advice would be twofold: be tenacious but also be open to constructive criticism. When a professional writer or publisher has taken the time to actually give me feedback about my writing (rather than a standard rejection letter), I listen. At the same time, what one publisher might not like another could, so writers need to lick their wounds, rework what needs reworking, and then try, try again.

CW: Have changes in the book industry forced you to change how you published or marketed your work?

AH: I am still very naïve when it comes to the book industry so I haven’t changed anything I’ve done. That said, following the advice of my wise publisher, Lorina Stephens, I have done things that, as a fairly shy person, I would not have believed possible, such as blogging and tweeting.

CW: What can you tell us about your next book?

AH: I recently completed a book about childhood female bullying and the impact such aggression has years later. Tentatively called The Bystander, it’s not the story of a victim or a victimizer, but rather that of an observer who, through silence and distancing, may imply tacit approval. I attempt to raise various ethical questions for the reader, including questions related to goodness, accountability, responsibility, and tolerance of differences.

I’ve also just started writing a new story, which may become a book. The main character is an 11-year-old boy who was inadvertently the cause of his twin’s death. We’ll see where that goes.

CW: Thanks telling us about your work, Alicia!

A_Subtle_ThingA Subtle Thing is Alicia’s debut novel, published by Five Rivers Chapmanry Visit their website at http:www.5rivers.org. A Subtle Thing is available at Amazon and www.chapters.indigo.ca.

Find her on Twitter (@AliciaHendley) and visit Alicia’s blog at http://aliciahendley.blogspot.com. 

Filed under: Author profiles, author Q&A, authors, publishing, writing tips, , , , , , ,

Author Q&A: Lorina Stephens and her book From Mountains of Ice

ABOUT LORINA STEPHENS In 1980 Lorina Stephens picked up the pen professionally and never looked back. She has worked as editor, freelance journalist for national and regional printFrom mountains of ice media, is author of six books both fiction and non-fiction. She has been a festival organizer, publicist, lectures on many topics from historical textiles and domestic technologies, to publishing and writing, teaches and continues to work as a writer, artist, and publisher.

Lorina has had several short fiction pieces published in Canada’s acclaimed On Spec magazine and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fantasy anthology Sword & Sorceress X. Her books include: From Mountains of Ice, And the Angels Sang, Shadow Song, Recipes of a Dumb Housewife among others. She lives with her husband of three plus decades, and two cats, in a historic stone house in Neustadt, Ontario.

 LS: That didn’t happen until 1980 after I had to take a short leave of absence. While I’d always crafted stories, I’d never actually committed anything to paper, and when I suddenly had all this time on my hands I found myself recording those stories.


Chazz: Tell us about your book. How did you get the idea for your book?

LS: The genesis for From Mountains of Ice came about because I wanted to write a story about an unlikely hero, someone who wasn’t all beauty, youth and brawn. In fact, I wanted a middle-aged man who reluctantly takes up the mantle of responsibility. That, combined with a fascination for the myriad funeral and death rituals around the world, made for the foundation of the novel. In particular, I found the Romano-Celtic legend of the cucullati of interest, and that legend plays a fundamental role in the culture of the novel, and the development of the plot.

Chazz: What research was involved in your book’s development?

LS: While there wasn’t research specifically undertaken for this particular novel, I did rely on research I’d previously done simply as part of my own interests; that is, study of Renaissance Italy; the history of the longbow as well as bow and arrow construction; death and funeral rituals, in particular the legend I mentioned previously, as well as the Indian festival that takes place annually on the River Ganges; study of historical dress; the Byzantine Empire; study of the historical basis for tattoos and their cultural impact; study of psychopathic behavior. The list really is quite expansive, and some of the resource material I used is listed in the afterword.

Chazz: Tell us about your writing process.

LS: I pretty much always begin with a concept surrounding a vehicle, usually an individual placed in an extraordinary situation. What seems to have developed over the years is that I write my first three chapters first, sometimes the ending, to get a feeling of where I want to go with the novel, to familiarize myself with the characters and milieu, and once I have that in place I write myself a fairly detailed chapter outline. I don’t always adhere to that outline, but it acts as a map.

I do try to be disciplined about my writing, working every day except for weekends, but with this current novel I’m finding that a bit difficult, partly because I’ve also taken on the role of publisher, but partly because I’m challenging myself with this novel.

Chazz: How did you arrive at the decision to self-publish and what did you have to learn and do to accomplish that task?

LS: From Mountains of Ice took about 18 months to write, although I’d had the concept slumbering for about a decade.

I decided to self-publish partly because of the changing culture of publishing, and partly because of what I write. As to the first part, so many large houses have not only shut their doors to unsolicited manuscripts, but have cut their  authors (many of whom are actually bestsellers), and that has resulted in agents closing their doors because they’re scrambling to find homes for orphaned authors. What chance would an unknown author like me stand in the face of that?

And then there’s the reality of what I write. I don’t write easily pigeon-holed stories. Moreover, I don’t write feel-good stories. My work tends to cross genres, being neither speculative, science fiction, fantasy, historical or mainstream. That makes me a difficult sell.

Given the ease with which a person can now self-publish (and I’m speaking of true self-publishing, not vanity press), and reach a market, I decided to jump into the deep end. The learning curve was interesting, but not overwhelming, given I already had some background in publishing. The most challenging thing was learning software (InDesign and Photoshop). The channels and rituals of the long tail of publishing was pretty simple. And I’m good at polite persistence.

All of that led me to expand my publishing venture and give voice to other Canadian authors so that we now have four authors (including me) publishing, and will present another four in the next two years.

Chazz: What was the biggest challenge you experienced through this book?

LS: Perhaps my biggest challenge has been overcoming lazy readers, and I know that sounds disgustingly arrogant. There was one reviewer who was convinced I’d written a knock-off of Gladiator because I had the soundtrack listed as inspirational music. Didn’t matter that I explained to him the majority of the music I listened to while writing From Mountains of Ice was in fact by the group Dead Can Dance, and even listed which tracks underpinned which scenes. I think this is how Paul Stookey must have felt when academics insisted Puff the Magic Dragon was actually a song about drugs.

I also had two reviewers trash the novel because they insisted there was a glaring error when in fact what they read was correct, heraldic terminology. I know if I read something I don’t understand, I first go and look it up before assuming what I’ve read is incorrect.

Chazz: What was the hardest part of the publishing process?

LS: For me the hardest part of publishing is convincing people my work is worth reading, worth the investment of their time. In short, it’s difficult overcoming the stigma of self-publishing, with good reason I might add. But I love what I do. I love every moment, the high and lows, the triumphs and tragedies.

Chazz: What advice would you give unpublished writers?

LS: This is perhaps not wise advice, given society’s propensity to create clones: be true to yourself. Write with your own voice, from your own heart, adhering to standards of excellence.

Chazz: Have changes in the book industry forced you to change how you published or marketed your work?

LS: Absolutely. One of the reasons I self-published, and also one of the reasons I rely heavily upon internet social networking.

Chazz: What’s your next book project and what can you tell us about it?

LS: My next book is called The Rose Guardian, and deals with a woman coming to terms with the death of her mother, and her own search for lost innocence. It is in fact three stories which occur simultaneously. I must say this is the most difficult piece I’ve written. It has been hard to find just the right tone for each of the three main characters, and to link them together in a cohesive fashion without sounding too dark or cynical. I think I’ve finally conquered that problem, and am now making headway.

Thanks, Lorina! If you want to know more about Lorina and fancy buying her books, here are several ways to find out more:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lorina-Stephens/136091476870

For Five Rivers: email: info@5rivers.org

Twitter: 5rivers

Website: http://www.5rivers.org

Blog: http://5riversnews.blogspot.com/

Filed under: Author profiles, author Q&A, authors, Books, self-publishing, , , , , , , , , ,

Bestseller with over 1,000 reviews!
Winner of the North Street Book Prize, Reader's Favorite, the
Literary Titan Award, the Hollywood Book Festival, and the
New York Book Festival.


Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

Available now!

Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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