Tag Archives: Ty Johnston

Review of EBOOK More Than Kin by Ty Johnston

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As Ty guested on my blog on 22nd November, I uploaded his book More Than Kin from Amazon for the princely sum of £2.15 – and I have to say that other than Terry Pratchett’s Snuff, it is the cleanest and least error-pocked text I’ve yet encountered.

morethankinWalt Johnson has been a rolling stone most of his life, moving from town to town and living on the edges of homelessness. Now he has run out of time as lung cancer has left him only months to live. Walt then begins a quest to find the son with whom he lost contact decades earlier. Out of money, he lands a job at a small-town restaurant in an attempt to save enough to buy a bus ticket to the last known whereabouts of his son. The friends Walt makes at his new job soon become family for him, especially 14-year-old Danny who is emotionally paralyzed at the loss of his own father in Iraq. Faced with Danny’s struggles to grow up and the struggles of his other new friends, Walt comes to realize he is not only on a journey to find his own son, but he is on a journey to find himself worthy of being a father.

As you may have gathered from the blurb, while Johnston is principally a Fantasy writer, this offering is set in contemporary America. So, an elderly dying man befriends a troubled teenager and gets side-tracked from his quest to track down his son. Does Johnston manage to evoke the sense of urgency and regret expected from a man with only months to live – without lapsing into sentimentality?
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-fuelled slice of escapism, this isn’t it. The writing effectively evokes Walt’s failing strength as he still yearns for the next cigarette and cup of coffee as soon as he pitches up in yet another small town on his constant wanderings. I’ve never been to America, but had no problem envisaging the setting thanks to Johnston’s slick writing and assured characterisation of Walt. It would have been easy to have put a Disney spin on this tale – especially given the forename of the protagonist – but I’m glad to say this didn’t happen. The gentle pace is deceptive as it doesn’t prevent Johnston dealing with some gnarly issues – concerns that globalisation is swallowing up small town values, is one of the recurring themes. I found it fascinating that a spokesman for smalltown America – a country often perceived as purveying many commercially crass values around the globe – should also share the worries I regularly hear voiced here in Britain.

In addition, Walt’s regret at his lapsed relationship with his own son wasn’t ducked. I was impressed at Johnston’s ability to draw out the poignancy of a life wasted on too much booze. It seemed a terrible shame that an intelligent man with the right instincts had ended up living on the edges of society for so long. Johnston’s depiction of a young teenager devastated at the loss of his father didn’t pull any punches, either – and the fact that his father died in Iraq added teeth to the situation. Other social issues were also addressed, such as the seeming growth of gangs of disaffected youngsters who spend their spare time causing trouble.

The only aspect of the book that got a bit treacly for my taste were the passages featuring Libby. Other than that, I feel that Johnston adroitly avoided the temptation to coat this thought-provoking storyline with a layer of sentiment. I’m conscious that so far I may have given the impression that this is a slow-paced trudge through a worthy subject – and it’s nothing of the sort. While no zombies or aliens make an appearance, there is still plenty of narrative tension to keep readers wanting to turn the pages – I devoured the book in two sittings. Overall, this is an accomplished exploration of some of the issues bedevilling contemporary society in a story that still manages to deliver its message with charm and lack of judgement. I’m certainly going to be uploading the first of Johnston’s Fantasy offerings – if City of Rogues is written as well as this, it’ll be well worth reading.
8/10

Ty Johnston’s Guest Blog

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Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of Rogues, morethankinBayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle(http://www.amazon.com/Ty-Johnston/e/B002MCBQRU/ ), the Nook (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/ty-johnston ) and online at Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/darkbow )  and online at Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/darkbow ). His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, is available for e-books in all major formats. To find out more, follow him at his blog tyjohnston.blogspot.com.

As I’m out and about on the blogosphere this month promoting my new epic fantasy e-book novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, I’m finding I’m writing a lot about writing, or elements related to my own personal path as a writer. Each day I’m appearing on a different blog, which means I have had to come up with 30 different topics to write about. Oh, once or twice I’ve gotten off easy by simply having to answer questions or by providing an excerpt from my new novel, but otherwise, I’ve been pretty busy working on guest blog posts.

One might think this was an easy task, especially for a writer, to write 30 guest blog posts. But keep in mind, I still continue to write some at my own blog, I also am beginning work on my next project, and as of the time I am writing this (late October) I am still working on final edits to Ghosts of the Asylum.

No, I’m not complaining. I simply wish to point out to other writers that doing a blog tour is a lot more work than it might seem. Coming up with all these ideas is easy enough at first because most who have been writing for a while will have some standard issues worth discussing, ideas they’ve probably written about to some extent or other at some point. Then there are the familiar questions from readers, other writers and fans. Where do you get your ideas? How do you come up with the name of your characters? Who is your favorite character? What do you read? What is your next book?

Eventually, after a fiction writer has been blogging and/or answered enough questions, he or she has ready answers. After all, there’s only so many times one can hear, “Who is your favorite author?” before the answer is slipping off your tongue before the question is even finished. My ready answer to that question is, Alexandre Dumas. But that’s not the truth. It’s not a lie, either, as Dumas is regularly one of my favorite authors. The truth to that particular question is much more complicated, in my case. Who is my favorite author? It depends upon my mood. Often it is Dumas, but sometimes it’s Stephen King or Steven Erikson or Max Brooks. Sometimes my favorite author is Hemingway or Homer or Capote. I could name another dozen just as easily. Margaret Mitchell comes to mind.

But complicated answers don’t usually make for good reading material in articles. The last thing a writer wants is for a reader’s eyes to glaze over from boredom, so we try to answer questions as briefly and succinctly as possible. Which is why my favorite author is Alexandre Dumas, he of The Count of Monte Cristo fame.

Now, back to blogging and guest posting.

When some writers attempt a blog tour, they only appear on a blog a week, or a blog every few days. Some, like me, prefer to appear an a blog each day of the month. As I’ve mentioned, this can be a lot of work. First you have to try and find others who will host your for a day, and you might not know well everyone you contact. You also have to keep up with a schedule. What day of the month are you appearing on a particular blog? And, of course, you have to write your guest post.

All that might sound easy, but it’s not. Making contact through e-mail is probably the easiest part, though not everyone will e-mail you back in return. Keeping the schedule straight starts off easy because the month is wide open, but once you’ve got half or more of your guest posts schedule, then things can become a little tricky, even a little tight. Lastly, you’ve got all those guests posts to tackle, and coming up with fresh ideas can start grinding on you after a while.

It’s work. But guess what? It’s also a lot of fun.

By appearing as a guest on other blogs, you get to meet and chat with writers and readers with whom you otherwise might never interact. You have the opportunity to discover new books, to make new acquaintances, and yes, to introduce yourself to others.

The initial goal of a book blog tour is promotions, to hopefully sell a writer’s books or e-books, but that goal can quickly give way to discovering new friends.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ty Johnston is a former newspaper journalist and the author of City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb, More Than Kin, and his latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum. His e-books are available for the Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/Ty-Johnston/e/B002MCBQRU/ ), the Nook (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/ty-johnston ) and online at Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/darkbow ). When not busy writing and reading (which is most of the time) he enjoys traveling with his wife, drinking quality beer and walking the beagle. To find out more, follow him at his blog tyjohnston.blogspot.com.