1st Professional Review

I’m happy to announce we received the first professional book review for Searching for Fire published July 2019. It is a great review and comes from The Midwest Book Review. This review will show in the Midwest Book Review December Issue online under the California Bookwatch.

Searching for Fire reaches young adult fantasy readers with a vivid story of a battle between gods that places a young pregnant woman in the middle of danger and conflict during the rebirth of the world.

If this premise sounds more adult in its complexity, be advised that Searching for Fire is recommended for mature teens, and is quite accessible to this audience. A prologue sets the stage for the characters and action that draws readers in (“This is not our first world. In the beginning, the Sun Spirit created our land and established the Elemental Code for our existence. All the living creatures inhabited this world for the benefit of the Great Spirits in the sky. When the hearts of the land’s inhabitants decayed, these same Great Spirits rained fire down from the sky. Among the smoke and ash, a second world was reborn. It prospered, but as with the cycle of the first, the decay returned. The Great Spirits chose this time to bury our world in ice. As to the third world, our people were gifted with the presence of the fire bringer named Ahiga.”).

Having this succinct review of the premise and environment offers readers an immediate ability to absorb the concerns and revelations of the story, which moves from the introduction to the crux of affairs when, generations later, a baby is rescued from a shapeshifter wolf pack. This event leads a young boy, his sister, and a wise medicine man on a journey to find a legendary Fire Spirit to save their village from destruction.

As the story unfolds, the clash between ordinary heroes and evil forces becomes a compelling investigation of not just the motives of those who undergo a quest, but the perceptions of those they leave behind: “Charles continued after drawing once more on his pipe. “There comes a time in a young man’s life when he must set out on his own … to set his own path through life.” Again, more silence. “You’re going with them, then?” Charles motioned to the closed entrance door to the cabin. Sam looked at Charles sadly at this point and said, “Yes, they need my help.” Charles just nodded. He thought sadly to himself that there are some things which must be set free.”

From windows of opportunity that open and shut to personal struggles with fear and threats (“He did his best to be at ease. Be like Charles. He kept saying this over and over in his head. He didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be back on the barge with the barge master, back in Stoney Creek. He was beginning to feel deeply afraid.”), J. Speer’s story goes beyond a fantasy quest to probe the feelings and evolution of those who journey through an unfamiliar, frightening world.

It should be noted that some conflict descriptions are explicit, which further reinforces the recommendation that the best audience for Searching for Fire will be mature teens to new adults and adults. These readers will find such descriptions tasteful and in keeping with the overall story, and will appreciate the inspections into motive, good and evil forces, and psychological growth that blend into the adventure and action. The story even ventures into realms controlled by the legendary Ahiga and the gods in a quest for balance, victory, and salvation from the threatening forces of darkness.

The result is a compelling, involving tale that excels in revealing the growth of all characters as they confront higher purposes and challenges than their individual daily lives. “

Book Reviews

Searching for Fire is my first book I wrote. Sometimes I feel like quite the rookie trying to navigate all the ins and outs of the publishing world. There are a few things I learned that I wished I knew before starting the process.

One thing to consider is the importance of professional reviews. You must have professional reviews to even be considered for most physical bookstores or libraries. In addition, I was not aware until this week that several professional review companies require you to submit your manuscript prior to publication for a review. Dang….missed that. The good news is that there are other professional review opportunities and I’ll list them briefly here:

Clarion and BlueInk offer a 2-for-1 review package at $695.

Kirkus offers a review as well at $425.

Midwest Book Review will set you up with a reviewer. You email Midwest Book Review and they send you the reviewer name. You send 2 copies of the book to the reviewer and the fee is about $50.

The Washington Post says that they do book reviews as well. Just mail them a copy of the book with a cover letter.

Bookreporter.com also does book reviews and requires a copy of the book and a cover letter as well.

I also spoke to my sister who works at a library and she recommended The Library Journal but you must submit your manuscript for this one prior to publication unless your book falls into a short list of book types such as a graphic novel.

One other unique area to consider submitting a book for review………..this one was suggested to me again by my sister at the library………….send a letter and book copy to O magazine or even Reese Witherspoon’s new book club, Hello Sunshine. These websites are hugely successful and a good recommendation from either one would be a major boost to any author’s aspirations.