Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Reading 2014
My publisher Jolly Fish Press is doing a Summer Reading Promotion this week. Maybe you've seen the hashtage #SummerReading2014. I hope you have.

ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN is being featured Friday August 1, 2014. It'll be promoted as hard as possible. Feel free to help. It'll be on sale on Amazon for only $1.99. Less than a side of fries.

I was asked to consider what Summer Reading meant to me as a kid. This article is co-hosted on The Jolly Fish Blog.

 Summer Books

Summer reading is a magical experience for me and always has been. I still get chills when on a hot summer day, I find a shady spot and open a new book. It’s happiness.

Looking back, I can identify three things that let me steer the slow boring days of summer into cherished summer reading time. What put a book in my hands so many years ago in those long hot days should still resonate with kids today.

The first was an organic reading group that sprang up when one of my friends found a new title. They’d talk about it and get us excited. We’d borrow it or get our own copy from the library or bookstore,  and join them in the adventure. We’d talk about plot twists and nasty villains while we played D&D or divvied up sides for ultimate frisbee. It was important to read then. I remember feeling like an outsider if I hadn’t read a book the others had. It wasn’t like I was ostracized. It was more like being at the ball field without a glove. – so much more fun if you can join in. I have my friends to thank for Tolkien and Thomas Covenant.

The second was a personal secret pleasure. I had some favorite topics of non-fiction I’d pour over all summer: game related stuff, history, philosophy, science and hobby manuals, books on painting or wood carving. But then there was Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Someone had given me complete editions of both authors and after a good day I read the stories like they were dessert. When the house was quiet, I’d read the adventures, the horrors and the poetry, and then I’d turn off my light and fall asleep swimming in the rich language and exhilarating stories. Not having a bedtime or a reason to wake up at any particular time the next day, I’d sometimes lie awake for hours, turning over the tales, seeing the pendulum swinging lower or imagining the secret code Holmes had deciphered to foil the plot. It sent me off to dream in classical style.

The third thing that sent me between the covers of a summer book was decidedly subversive. My family didn’t exactly shelter me, but they had rules. Being young and curious, I discovered that though I couldn’t get into R rated movies, the bookstore would sell me anything that didn’t have pictures on glossy pages. I found books on taboo subjects, titles that if they were movies my parents wouldn’t let me near. These I read in secret, seeing the controversies, exploring worlds that most kids never saw. It did me no harm and, in fact, I think it made me a much better person. Being a reader had prepared me to explore these new worlds. My personal experience was greater than most adults by virtue of my reading. I had a foundation of experiences and points of view that was far greater than my years. This influences me today as an author. I am careful to respect young readers. I do not “dumb down” my writing or steer clear of controversy. Having been a young reader myself once, I know how sophisticated they are.

A friend of mine once said that he reads because some of the best memories of his life never actually happened to him. He was speaking about living vicariously through books. This is the magic of reading. It allows you to live more than just your one life. As a kid in the summertime, without the pressures of school, books became for me a treasured personal treat, just the thing to make a dog-day of summer into a life changing experience.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


My book launch last month was a huge success. I sold out twice the usual number in two hours. So naturally, I'll tempt fate and have another event.

  Author Signing
— Saturday August 9th, 2014 — 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers (West Jordan)
Jordan Landing
7157 Plaza Center Drive
West Jordan, UT 84084

Come out and visit me. Just milling around is fine. No pressure. Just say "Hi." If you want to buy a book, or several for your friends, I will sign them all for you.

Remember to drop a review on Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Goodreads to spread the word. It helps me a lot. Eleanor might not want to be noticed, but her book should be.

Check out my Events Page for other upcoming events. Like Fandemonium, August 1-3 in Boise!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SLJ/Book Verdict Review of ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN

The School Library Journal printed a little review about ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN it lifted from Book Verdict. It's in their print version - old school, magazine, but it goes to all the schools. You have to dig a little to see it online, and sign up for website and all that. I decided to just post it here to make it easier because it makes me so happy.

WORTHEN, Johnny. Eleanor. 356p. (The Unseen: Bk. 1). ebook available. Jolly Fish Pr. Jul. 2014. pap.$14.99. ISBN 9781939967343.

Gr 7 Up–This is a fast-paced paranormal story of love and family, remembrance and survival. Eleanor Anders lost her family at a young age due to a tragic incident. As the sole survivor, she fled into the forest for safety. When she was finally saved by Tabitha, she was not quite certain how long she had been in the woods. All she knew was that she needed Tabitha and miraculously, Tabitha needed her. Ten years later, Eleanor is in high school in the small town of Jamesford, Wyoming. She is shy and withdrawn and hopes to go mostly unnoticed. Tabitha is close to death from cancer and Eleanor is petrified of a future alone. Tabitha is the only person on earth that she can trust, and the only person that knows her true secret. When the tall, dark, and mysterious David Venn comes back into Eleanor’s life, Eleanor doesn’t understand why she’s so drawn to him and almost risks exposing her secret to stay by his side.

This first installment of the three-part series is based on a Navajo legend. Worthen’s handling of the volatile issues of racism, societal inequalities, gossip mongering, peer pressure, bullying, death, and abandonment will provide readers with numerous opportunities for in-depth discussion.–Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA.

I love how the reviewer identifies themes for discussion. She really got it. One of my favorite reviews.

For the purists, here are the links:

SLJ (School Library Journal) - mention of the review in the July 2014 print edition

Book Verdict, The place it sends you eventually to see the review online.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

FantasyCon 2014 – 10 Awesome Things in Pictures

It's been a whirl of excitement around the ol' Blog Mansion this summer. Right after a SELL OUT launch of ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN, I turned around and spent three awesome days at FantasyCon in downtown Salt Lake City.

Out of the blue, Salt Lake City has become a sudden mecca for geekdom. Last year we had or first ComicCon and it was intantly the 3rd largest in the country. Last April we had a ComicCon redux called Fan-X which blew the doors off ComicCon. Then within a year of the first one, we had a third like thing called FantasyCon.

I know something of the history and structures of all these Cons. Fan-X and ComicCon are the same people. They exploded out of nowhere. FantasyCon has had billboards around the city for months and months and months. They had their promotion in order very early.

Everyone is wondering if the city can sustain three cons. Lots of electrons and paper has been spent talking about this. Check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

I won't pretend to understand the economics of a convention. I will say however that I damn well hope they can stay because they're all freakin' great. Time spent at a convention like this is time well spent. Money spent there is money well spent. It is an experience and I hold experiences highly in my rank of what is about.

I had a great time!

Enough background. In the tradition of internet lists, here are

10 Awesome Things about FantasyCon 2014 in pictures.

1: Dragons

2: Costumes
3: Fire

4: Shows

5: Art

6: Interactive play

7: Fans

8: Celebs

9: Friends

10: Chillin' with my boys

 Bonus –This kind of thing...