Barnes & Noble’s Dirty Little Secret: Author Solutions and Nook Press


Shady is as shady does. Has B&N finally lost their friggin minds? It would seem so.

David Gaughran

NookPressAuthorSolutionsNook Press – Barnes & Noble’s self-publishing platform – launched a selection of author services last October including editing, cover design, and (limited) print-on-demand.

Immediate speculation surrounded who exactly was providing these services, with many – including Nate Hoffelder, Passive Guy, and myself – speculating it could be Author Solutions. However, there was no proof.

Until now.

A source at Penguin Random House has provided me with a document which shows that Author Solutions is secretly operating Nook Press Author Services. The following screenshot is taken from the agreement between Barnes & Noble and writers using the service.

NookPressAuthorServicesBloomingtonopt

You will see that the postal address highlighted above for physical submission of manuscripts is “Nook Press Author Services, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, Indiana.”

Author Solutions, Bloomington, Indiana. Image courtesy of Wikimedia, uploaded by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0 Author Solutions, Bloomington, IN. Image from Wikimedia, by Vmenkov, CC BY-SA 3.0

There’s something else located at that address: Author Solutions US headquarters in Bloomington…

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Writers Journal Vol. 2:2 (2015)


4460976042_a1c8902046_oCharacter Arch’s & What Do We Do About Them?*
by SSpjut

I recently came across an article by Kyoko M entitled. Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing. Well, being the Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden fan I am, I hopped over and read it. The gist of M’s post has to do with why Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character is so likable – and I whole heartedly agree. Harry Dresden is your average ‘Joe’ who just happens to be a wizard and has as many hang ups as everyone else. Quite literally, the guy next door.

But here’s where I want to add my two cents worth – its the arch of Butcher’s character development that really does it for me. That and the fact Harry’s down hill slide into the dark arts isn’t because he chooses evil over good, its because he’s determined to do whatever it takes to save those he cares about – even if it means he pays the price. And lets face it, Harry always pays the price.

 

TRUE CHARACTER is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure-the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature. Robert McKee

 

So what has this have to do with what I am currently working? 

In The Remnant series, which is all about post-apocalyptic-dystopian Seattle, where the supernaturals out number the naturals, I love being able to explore multiple aspects of character development and the emotional/situational challenges they’re faced with. Those that are flawed and those who don’t know they are – like Sariel, and Count Moleach. With such a wide range of character types, I’m given an opportunity to approach each one just a little differently, blending motives and inherent species traits, with the cultural challenge of what happens when the monsters we’ve created, become our worst enemies?

Are All Character Arch’s The Same ?

What about about my Keys of Destiny series? Am I using the same approach in helping Serac, Ziana and Idduu search for the Tablets of Destiny, as I am in ‘The Remnant’s’ bid to get out of post-apocalyptic Seattle?

Yes and no.

Yes, my characters have challenges they are being made to face, and yes they will need to overcome many of them if they are to succeed in their quest. On the other hand, ‘Keys of Destiny’, unlike ‘The Remnant’, has its roots in history – namely that of the Patriarch Abraham.

Shocker, right? But true nonetheless.

Several years ago, while researching ‘covenants’ for a non-book I had intended to write (blame H. Clay Trumbull’s ‘Blood Covenant’ for my fetish on such things)I came across an interesting passage in the ‘Book of Jasher’ concerning Abraham and his great-great grandfather ‘Serug’ (or Serac in Akkadian). Long and short, it is the lack of information that actually gave me the idea of writing the story of ‘Abraham’ from a historical/fictional point of view, rather than a religious one.

Which also means I don’t have the same creative license in this novel series, as I do with ‘The Remnant’.

Why? Because religious-history, not me, has determined who the good guys and bad guys are, and how they got from point A to point B.

Or does it?

See, that was the question I asked when I began to write the story and realized the only thing the Christian Bible and Jewish text say about Serug and his grandson Terah is, they did evil in the site of the Lord. Not a single word about what it was they did that earned them that epitaph, or why?

Now remember what I said about Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character, and how Harry’s descent into the dark arts is because he’s made a conscious choice to choose evil over good, but rather, in his determination to do whatever it takes to save his friends, he’s made choices which  have resulted in less than desirable consequences?

So what if Abraham’s great-great grandfather Serug’s epitaph ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord’, wasn’t because he set out to chose evil over good. But rather, like our wizard Harry Dresden, life and circumstance only gave he and Terah so many choices, and unfortunately, some of the ones they made, had less than desirable consequences?

As much as I love writing ‘The Remnant’ and all the creative freedom that comes with that particular genre, I find writing an historical novel, where I’m forced to stay within the guidelines of certain events and cultural truths, just as exciting.

So whether the stories we tell are based in truth or in fiction, we need to keep in mind that, even though all characters must have an arch in their development, how we approach it can be as diverse as the stories themselves.

Sharing the journey
SSpjut

*From Reigning Press January 2015 Newsletter – Writer’s Journal

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut; All Rights Reserved.

Writers Journal Vol 2:1.1 (2015)


Subscribe Here Plug 2

Character Archs

What To We Do About Them?

I recently came across an article by Kyoko M entitled. Things The Dresden Files Taught Me About Writing. Well, being the Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden fan I am, I hopped over and read it. The gist of M’s post has to do with why Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character is so likable – and I whole heartedly agree. Harry Dresden is your average ‘Joe’ who just happens to be a wizard and has as many hang ups as everyone else.

Quite literally, the guy next door. But here’s where I want to add my two cents worth – its the arch of Butcher’s character development that really does it for me. That and the fact Harry’s down hill slide into the dark arts isn’t because he chooses evil over good, its because he’s determined to do whatever it takes to save those he cares about – even if it means he pays the price. And lets face it, Harry always pays the price.

So what has this have to do with what I am currently working? 

In The Remnant series, which is all about post-apocalyptic-dystopian Seattle, where the supernaturals out number the naturals, I love being able to explore multiple aspects of character development and the emotional/situational challenges they’re faced with. Those that are flawed and those who don’t know they are – like Sariel, and Count Moleach. With such a wide range of character types, I’m given an opportunity to approach each one just a little differently, blending motives and inherent species traits, with the cultural challenge of what happens when the monsters we’ve created, become our worst enemies?

Are All Character Arch’s The Same ?

What about about my Keys of Destiny series? Am I using the same approach in helping Serac, Ziana and Idduu search for the Tablets of Destiny, as I am in ‘The Remnant’s’ bid to get out of post-apocalyptic Seattle?Yes and no. Yes, my characters have challenges they are being made to face, and yes they will need to overcome many of them if they are to succeed in their quest. On the other hand, ‘Keys of Destiny’, unlike ‘The Remnant’, has its roots in history – namely that of the Patriarch Abraham. Shocker, right? But true nonetheless. Several years ago, while researching ‘covenants’ for a non-book I had intended to write (blame H. Clay Trumbull’s ‘Blood Covenant’ for my fetish on such things)I came across an interesting passage in the ‘Book of Jasher’ concerning Abraham and his great-great grandfather ‘Serug’ (or Serac in Akkadian).

Long and short, it is the lack of information that actually gave me the idea of writing the story of ‘Abraham’ from a historical/fictional point of view, rather than a religious one. Which also means I don’t have the same creative license in this novel series, as I do with ‘The Remnant’. Why? Because religious-history, not me, has determined who the good guys and bad guys are, and how they got from point A to point B. Or does it?

See, that was the question I asked when I began to write the story and realized the only thing the Christian Bible and Jewish text say about Serug and his grandson Terah is, they did evil in the site of the Lord. Not a single word about what it was they did that earned them that epitaph, or why? Now remember what I said about Jim Butcher’s ‘Dresden’ character, and how Harry’s descent into the dark arts is because he’s made a conscious choice to choose evil over good, but rather, in his determination to do whatever it takes to save his friends, he’s made choices which  have resulted in less than desirable consequences?

So what if Abraham’s great-great grandfather Serug’s epitaph ‘and he did evil in the sight of the Lord’, wasn’t because he set out to chose evil over good. But rather, like our wizard Harry Dresden, life and circumstance only gave he and Terah so many choices, and unfortunately, some of the ones they made, had less than desirable consequences? As much as I love writing ‘The Remnant’ and all the creative freedom that comes with that particular genre, I find writing an historical novel, where I’m forced to stay within the guidelines of certain events and cultural truths, just as exciting. So whether the stories we tell are based in truth or in fiction, we need to keep in mind that, even though all characters must have an arch in their development, how we approach it can be as diverse as the stories themselves.

Sharing the journey.
SSpjut


Want to be the first to read the latest ‘blog-to-book installment of ‘The Exodus’ (Book Two ‘The Remnant’), as well as new of up coming book releases, writer’s journal, character short stories and profiles?  Click Here

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com © SSpjut; All Rights Reserved.

Cyber Monday Madness


.99 Cyber Monday

@Smashwords  Coupon Code: FD37M

Thru December 8th

Cyber Monday Dec 1-8 The Gathering.

 

Writers Journal Vol 2:1


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Two Things I’ve Learned Writing A Novel

 

 

“To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” ― Michael Jordan

Now that I’m almost finished with my second novel, I can admit there are two thing I ‘ve learned during the journey; write the first draft, and nothing is perfect.

Maybe its just me, but these were, and still are, the most challenging aspects of writing – be it novel, story, or otherwise.

Why so hard, you ask? Doesn’t every book have a first draft? – And shouldn’t an author wait until their MS is perfect, before sending it out to an agent/publisher, or self-publishing?

Doesn’t every book have a first draft?

Depends. If you’re a ‘planner’ (someone who has most of the book outlined before they start. IE: scenes, characters, story arch, conflict, world building, etc.), then the answer is YES. The first draft is actually a more comprehensive version of your outline – which you’ll then go on to flush out even more.

But if you’re a ‘pansier’ (someone who has only a vague idea of what the story will be about when they start, and the thought of outlining anything will only a)encourage prolonged video gaming b)numerous tequila shots c)’Lord of the Rings’ movie marathon), getting that first draft down can be a real bugger. Especially if you have an over active imagination, then its like trying to herd cats – the story and characters invariably take off in random directions at will, leaving you to try to get through fifty different versions of same scene.

Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on the day of the week and how many ‘cuppa joe’s’ I’ve imbibed) I am a creature of both worlds – half planner, half pansier. I love order and tend towards chaos or, as in the case of writing, I start out with a pretty good idea of what I want (even an outline of the beginning, end, and the major scenes in between), but find myself expanding and elaborating in too many directions before I can get the first draft written. And don’t even get me started on world building (OMG I lose entire days with this one.).

My solution? Learn to except that it is what it is, and don’t beat myself up because I like herding cats. Sure I keep trying to color between the lines, but even that can be time-sucking. So I outline when I can, and let the muse have enough rope she can do what she wants, without hanging us both.

“We Have to Continually Be Jumping Off Cliffs and Developing Our Wings on the Way Down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Shouldn’t all MS be perfect?

There are no perfect MS. That’s right. Anyone who tells you their finished MS is perfect is either a liar, or delusional. Not even a book published by a well-known author/publisher team is ever perfect.

How can I make such a blasphemous statement?

Because I’m an avid reader, and the longer I spend perfecting my own craft, the more I recognize the mistakes other authors make in theirs – which in turn helps me remember that writing is learned, practiced, and executed, over and over again. Authors are always building on what we know, while encouraging ourselves in the reality that we will get better with time and effort.

For Type A personalities like myself, that can be a loaded gun, since I will spend hours, even days, re-writing a scene – sometimes a sentence. Drives my editor nuts. So one of the things that I try to employ when I recognize myself climbing up onto the hamster-wheel-of-perfection is, leave it for a couple of days, then come back with fresh eyes. If it still looks like it needs work, I’ll hammer away some more before asking one of my beta readers to take a look. But if after all that I still get that warm fuzzy feeling, I’ll do the happy dance and move on.

Is it perfect. Nope – but it is for now.

So what is it that challenges your writing ability, and what have you done to over come it – or not?

Be sure to visit my new publishing site – reigningpress.com

© SSpjut; All rights reserved.

 

The Gathering (Book 1 The Remnant)


Book Promo Sheets Post Seattle apocalypitc

The Gathering

(Book 1 The Remnant)

Available @ 

Amazon  Smashwords  Nook Kobo iBooks 

The Gathering | Book OneThe Remnant


The Gathering Ad Promo Full Book Cover 1

Seattle – ‘City of Demons and home to vampires, werewolves, wizards and humans alike. In other words, some of the most dangerous predators in the world, living in the same city, competing for the hottest commodity in town—food, be it human or otherwise. Which is why Spider, leader of the Damphirs, has decided its time for he and his people get out of town – dead or alive.

 eBook available @

Amazon   Nook   Kobo  Smashwords  iBooks

Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day


Since I am in the final editing stages of “Mark of Shamash” as well as “The Gathering: Bk 1 of The Remnant: A Dystopian Paranormal Story”, I thought this post rather apropos. Enjoy

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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The Review: Skin Games


19486421 Skin Game; Jim Butcher, 2014

Hi, my name is Shawn Spjut and it’s been 3 days, 6 hours and 45 seconds, since I read my last Harry Dresden novel.

There. I freely admit to being completely addicted to the White Wizard-Dark Knight-best-of-intentions, but-my-choices-just-keep-getting-me-further-and-further-into-trouble, Harry Dresden. A character who welds magic like a bull in a china shop, has so many vulnerabilities its like reading Swiss Cheese, and is completely lovable – smartass mouth and all.

My only question is, if wizards really do live long lives, how in heck will Harry make it to a hundred and fifty, without some series prosthetics, and a lot of pharmaceuticals? No man, wizard, or supernatural being (outside of were’s, vampires, and shape shifters), can get beaten up, thrown down, stomped on, broken or bruised as often as he does, and still keeping moving like a young buck for long.

If my calculations are right, this guys only in his thirties, maybe early forties, and he’s already in need of some serious mojo to keep from feeling the pain.

Just sayin . . .

Now before I rave any further, I have to admit, after reading Ghost Story, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to keep going (the only book in the series I didn’t care for). But then along came book #14, ‘Cold Days‘, and my faith in the world of Harry Dresden, Wizard at large, was restored. What better conundrum, than to put a well-intentioned wizard at the beck and call of an evil Mab, and then stick around to see if good really does prevail?

As for the plot? Lets just say, Butcher continues the fight for good and evil with old friends and enemies alike – as well as bringing in a few new twists to do what he does best; fight bad guys, create chaos and mayhem, tease us with romance, then leave us begging for more.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Skin Game 3.99999 stars for being a great read, and Jim Butcher 4, for knowing where to let the curtain fall.

The Review: Blood Rights


9571401BloodRights; Kristen Painter, 2011

Hand over heart – or maybe I should say, hand over jugular – when I first picked up Blood Rights, I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to read. First, it’s by an unknown author (at least to me). Second, it was on a subject that has been written to death (forgive the pun). And third, I had just finished reading the latest book in Jeaniene Frost’s ‘Night Huntress’ series, and didn’t feel like reading some other authors rendition of the same genre – at least not for a week or so.

Face it, sometimes a reader can get so caught up in the characters in one series, to read about someone else in another, just feels like cheating. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I doubt it.

With that said, I finally bit the bullet, asked Cat and Bones to forgive me, and began reading Kristen Painter’s Blood Rights (House of Comarre). It only took a couple of pages and I was hooked. Whatever emotional attachment I had going for my previous fav’s, had to make room for the new kids on the block – Chrystabelle and Malkhom.

So much for fidelity.

Fast paced. Interesting characters. Plot twisting. Unique addition to an already well established genre. In other words, because of ‘Blood Rights’ there were several days I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done on my own novel.

As for spoiler alerts, I’d say it was like reading the modern-day version of Frankenstein meets Electra meets Cruella De Vil meets the Volturi, with Casper the Ghost and Kitty Kitty thrown in for good measure. An interesting crew of characters that hate to love and love to hate, with enough vampiric mystery and suspense to compel its readers to keeping turning the pages until their done.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Blood Rights 3.5 stars for a great read, and Kristen Painter 4, for proving to readers that there is always a new way to skin an old genre.