Cranky Bear Wakes Up: Todd and Shawn StJean’s New Children’s Paperback Published by Glas Daggre

cbbackcoverjpegJust in time for the Holidays (wink, wink,) a new “story-sketchbook” suitable for kids, ages 3-10, will be on the shelves this week from Glas Daggre, the independent publisher that makes this website its headquarters.  The illustrated, 8×10″ trade paperback features artwork by my ever-prolific brother,  Todd, and a humanistic adventure narrative in which cute and fuzzy mammals–though initially misguided–learn to make room on our planet for the birds, insects, fish, and other creatures that share it.  It makes ideal reading-aloud before bedtime.

Amazon purchase page (the legitimate retail price should be $13.99:) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1981271864/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512521353&sr=1-1 (or you can search Amazon for “StJean” or the full book title.)  There will be no e-book as yet, but a hardcover should follow next year.

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cranky-bear-wakes-up-dr-shawn-stjean/1127591429?ean=9781981271863

PLEASE REVIEW on Amazon.com or in your favorite venue, should you give this work a try.  It should be turning up in the usual sales channels during the coming months.  Of course, you can contact the publisher directly for a copy with competitive pricing, and, upon request, an author’s signature.

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Only a Few Days Left to Win a PAPERBACK Copy of Clotho’s Loom on Goodreads!

By Shawn StJean

Over 300 folks have already put this 540-page tome on their “To Read” Shelves!

The giveaway link is in the left hand column of the blog, toward the bottom, or here: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/44808-clotho-s-loom-a-novel-of-literary-romance-and-realism, or search for “Clotho’s Loom” on Goodreads!

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Anarchists Recruiting Radicals Leading Liberals: Dominoes Leaning Left

PRESS RELEASE
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Among its failures, luminary Norman Mailer identified in The Armies of the Night that the Left in America was so splintered (writing from the perspective of 1968) that, even though well-intentioned reformers might stand for something worthwhile, they had great difficulty standing together. Too many different agendas: race relations, women’s rights, the anti-draft and anti-Vietnam war movements. Emerson, had he lived to be 150, would have called many of these well-meaning citizens “do-gooders” who should have concentrated, rather, on being good.

Today, it’s well-known that FBI agents, acting on orders, infiltrated some of the many organizations that did exist (Students for a Democratic Society perhaps only the most notorious,) in order to, among intelligence-gathering activities, combat forces that the federal government believed were manipulating the protesters: outside agitators, what Spiro Agnew called “vultures,” intent on destroying our society from within, by turning it against itself. But did these agents provocateurs really exist?

Rochester, NY – 11 August 2012.  The atmosphere of today’s United States may not be as apparently violent in its ideological clashes as that of forty years’ gone, but many believe the rift has simply gone deeper, smoothing only the surface of our native soil.

Shawn StJean’s new novel, Clotho’s Loom (Glas Daggre Publishing, 2012) dramatically personalizes what could happen if these kind of foreign, cold warriors were to penetrate the divisive climate of American society in the 21st century. A former Marine sniper, now college professor approaching middle age and settling into academic “schoolhouse liberalism,” is reactivated: pulled between the demands of the Right and Left, and–due in part to a deep personal ambivalence toward his father, a Vietnam vet–succumbs to the recruitment efforts of the anti-Western border-runners. Meanwhile, his wife, a woman of conservative social background, is semi-wittingly abandoned just at the time when she discovers herself pregnant, at the age of forty.

The book can be interpreted as a cautionary tale on the ease with which a cavalier liberalism can be exploited for anarchic and destructive purposes–the protagonists both encounter a series of increasingly devious characters, both outside U.S. territory and upon it. The narrative spans the globe, from the midwest to the Middle East, and extends to the deserts of both continents.

The female protagonist must come to terms with the extremes of her own right-wing upbringing. The daughter of a failed farmer, she’s nevertheless been taught the values of adaptability in the face of circumstance, and to continue to support the values of marketplace competition, as a lawyer. Wooed by an opportunistic capitalist, she supports his mission to rehabilitate the languishing community into profitability—with himself, however, as benevolent dictator. And although this vision is hardly as chilling as the chaotic alternative—what one villainous character describes as “a deep freeze”–the author takes pains to present it as more likely and real.

Although the parallel structure of alternating chapters tends to evenly distribute the attention of the narrative, not only between the gender issues of men and women, but of Left and Right (with a balancing concluding chapter,) this literary fiction offers occasional symbolic cues toward its author’s ultimate biases. Fortunately, there is also enough ambiguity to accommodate the thematic enjoyment of readers of widely varying ideological temperaments. In either case, the characters find that both the individualistic values of the Left and those of the communal Right, at odds times self-serving, are best acquired not as inherited, youthful idealism, but rather as earned, hard experience leading to maturity.

ISBN: 978-1479271528

List $20.00 paper, ebook $8.99

540 pp.

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Casting Call–Main Characters–Hero or Anti-Hero?

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Will Wyrd before. . .

An anti-hero, in literary parlance, is NOT by definition a villain, but rather a character who occupies the place in a narrative where a hero would traditionally have been, but cannot fill the role properly due to some flaw–physical, emotional, intellectual, or spiritual.  Hamlet would be the exemplar, but Oedipus and Travis Bickle fit just as well (or badly.)  Some readers may not like Will Wyrd very much–he was designed to be representative, not popular.  But, to alter Dickens’ famous phrase, all-too-many of us turn out to be the anti-heroes of our own lives.

This entry wraps up our “Casting Call” series for an imaginary film production of Clotho’s Loom.  For those who have been following this blog from the very beginning in May, my choice for male protagonist/lead William Wyrd should not be surprising, as I hinted as much back then.  Most are familiar with Matt Damon from his comedy pairings with Ben Affleck, or more recently as the ultra-competent title character of The Bourne Identity and franchise.  The photo above comes from a contrasting, lesser-known dramatic role in The Good Shepherd, following a man involved in the original transition of the OSS during World War II, to the CIA during the Cold War and afterward.  I find the narrative fascinating as the chronicle of how human beings with good intentions can go so far down the path of morally questionable acts, that they can never find their way back.  Damon does a superb job of degenerating from innocence to laconic despair over several decades, and I felt this showed the range needed for Wyrd: a man who, like many people, ended up in a much different place in life than he ever planned to go.  Lying, killing, and deception come to define him, and even his wife gets shut out.  How, besides the passage of time, does one get into such a fix?  External circumstances, the will of other human beings, poor or ignorant choices of our own, and chance–all play their parts in taking us there.

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. . .and after.

From E-book to Print Book: One Indie Author/Publisher’s Wild Week with CreateSpace

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Click for a larger image–copies of Clotho’s Loom by Shawn StJean, so hot off the press they could burn your fingers!

First, a disclaimer: in the course of this report, I’m going to mention several products and companies.  I’m not affiliated with them, except to the extent that, like many of you, I use their programs and services.  My purpose is to inform others of some of what’s available, and what works, in late 2012 for indie authors and small publishers wishing to pursue the object of bringing their books to the public, in print form.  And most of it is FREE–as far as CreateSpace goes, I did most of the work myself via software and internet, so I only paid for copies and a modest shipping charge.

Well, you have to savor these moments.  It’s not every day that the delivery man drops 100 pounds’ worth of your own creation on your doorstep.  Though it has happened to me before–that’s my first point.  I have seen two previous [text]books through the press, in 2000 and 2005, respectively.  Wow–much is changing in a brief span of time.  Only twelve years. Seven years.

When I relate the timetable, you may have trouble believing it.  I do, and I’m holding the evidence.

I published my e-book through Amazon’s KDP Select back in August.  Never mind how many years it took me to draft, revise, edit, and format that project.  Suffice to say, many.  But once Clotho’s Loom was out there in electronic format, it quickly became clear to me that there were folks who would love to read it but, despite all my efforts to promote an ebook–a whole other tale–these people just want a physical book.  And I can’t say I blame them.  Even though, as someone who has moved my residence many times in the past decades, I’ve given and thrown away a lot of books I no longer had use for, I have kept a small and treasured collection.

Okay, skip to the very near-present: one week ago, in fact.  I had lain down the raw audio tracks for my planned Audiobook edition, and just as it was becoming clear to me that being an audio engineer would require (another) steep learning curve, I caught a cold.  Funny, huh?  It wrecked my voice for re-dubs.  No choice–I had to convalesce, and turn to another project in the meantime.  So I wondered, even though the original paperback publication was scheduled and announced for mid-January, if I couldn’t possibly finish that business up before the holidays.  I did not dare dream I could have a print edition for sale–I merely hoped to go into the new year with some solid work done.  Winter, after all, is reading season.  Also, I had shown one bit of intelligence by marking all errors and potential late revisions I caught (reading from my Kindle) while recording audio.  This, coupled with another pass through the MS Word’s spell-check, produced a text with far fewer problems. (For clarity’s sake, most of the problems were of a formatting nature.  I have been using WordPerfect and MS Word since the DOS days, and I’ll just say that a program called Scrivener may work better for 21st-century  fiction writers–I’m not sure yet.)

I opened my Createspace account last FRIDAY (a week after “Black” Friday).  My book is here in my hands today (the following Thursday.)  The mind boggles.  My first two books both took one year from acceptance to publication.  And lest you think this must be some little novella–well, no.  This thing is a brick — seriously, you could deck an intruder with the spine.  At 205,000 words, the volume weighs in at two pounds of bona-fide literary fiction, just like we used to read in school.  No cheaty-big margins, no oversized typeface, and only a few blank pages.  A single week.  I’m not going to say it was easy, but man was it fast.

Here’s the rundown.  You’ll need some software.  In addition to your favorite word processor and book files, and a very gamesome attitude, you’ll want an image-editing program (MS Paint works for basic tasks, but I produced the whole wraparound cover myself from CS’s template, using a more advanced prog called Zoner Photo Studio.  Obviously, you Photoshop gurus will be within your wheelhouse.  I, in fact, know very little of either.  You also need a PDF creator, not just a reader.  Adobe Acrobat serves well.  Again, I know little, but was able to learn in the course of a few late nights.

I uploaded my files Friday night–you should pay careful attention to CS’s guidelines, which are clear, and I do recommend downloading the templates.  On Saturday I was shocked to see electronic proofs ready for my approval.  Remember, this was a weekend during the year’s most hectic month.  Now, especially if you’ve never read proof, this vital stage in the process is best done on paper, and you can order old-school paper proofs from CS, or print them yourself on laser.  For those who have done this, you can imagine the next 24-36 hours were long ones for me.  In addition to error-catching, I had technical problems with PDF conversions, page numbers, setting margins, as well as choosing proper fonts and sizes, colors, creating logos for Glas Daggre (my publishing imprint,) and the rest.  You just take one problem at a time, hopefully patiently.  I approved the proofs on late Sunday, and sat back for more waiting.  But every time I thought I’d be going back to the audiobook, something else happened.

A CreateSpace store opened almost immediately for me–technically, the book was for sale!  This takes minimal set-up.  I ordered my own batch of copies, to see the product quality of course, and to distribute to reviewers, giveaway winners, and a few friends, as well as to stock myself up for sales though my website, or even a possible book signing somewhere. I was informed that CL would appear on Amazon in a week or so.  It was there Monday.  For Sale.  I then proceeded to Seller Central, where one can request the “Search/Look Inside the Book” feature.  Several e-mail exchanges and PDF uploads, and about 24 hours later: Done!  (I was also not aware that this feature makes the entire text of your book available to certain search engines, though only to searchers in small bites–obviously a big bonus).  Sometime on early Tuesday, I received an e-mail that my copies shipped out, and were on their way to me.  REALLY?

More promos.  Write on the blog.  A press release would be a good idea.  I can’t seem to get back to actual audio engineering, so I watch Audacity (open source, free) tutorials in preparation.  I also sign up for a Lightning Source account, for extended distribution channels and a possible hardcover edition, but I don’t commit yet.  Their process is slower and more deliberate, anyway, because they deal with accounts of every size, from sole proprietorships like mine, to behemoth companies.  I also don’t go forward yet, because I want to see the CreateSpace copies first. Notice I’ve shifted to the present tense?

Now this may be the news you’ve been waiting for: with that kind of incredible speed, how good could they be?  Answer: pretty damn good.  I’ve scrutinized over a dozen copies so far, and aside from variations that lie within some pretty tight production tolerances, they’re high-quality and consistent.  About 95% perfect, I’d say–and of the remaining 5%, maybe 3.5 is my own fault.  Remember one thing about Print-On-Demand: garbage in, garbage out.  If you submit a cover that looks amateurish, that’s what you’ll receive–so don’t.  And the resolution proved to be quite high (CS asks for 300dpi photos,) so if they have flaws, get rid of them before submission.  I’m very happy with mine, but remember what they used to say about Compact Discs: “the digital format can reveal limitations of the source material.”  Same here.  The color reproduction was excellent, but I allowed few jaggies and one shifted bleed area to slip through, that will get some tweaking for next time.  No biggie–a buyer likely would not blink.  And the beauty is I can submit corrected files NOW–not, as in the old days, when and if a new edition gets tooled up and printed.

If I had one complaint so far, I’d like my interior typeface a shade darker.  A magnifying glass will reveal that my Times-New-Roman was produced via dot-matrix tech of some kind–though again, not enough to disturb buyers, and probably my own fault.  CS and LS both specify that all fonts must be “embedded” in your PDFs–and to show you I was not kidding about not being an expert with any of the softwares this kind of work takes–I still don’t know what an embedded font is.

And, lo and behold, when I logged into my CreateSpace account following delivery, in order to check my balance against the packed invoice, I discovered I had the first of my royalties awaiting me!

So there it is.  Things could not have gone more smoothly, so far (aside from my own learning process, which always seems to hurt a bit).  And well in time for the Holiday season–I’m not sure if, like all the good folks in retail and delivery out there, they’re really amping up during the month of December over there at CS, or if this is now business-as-usual in the POD industry.  I am sure I’ll issue a follow-up report during 2013–but first impression: well done, Amazon/CreateSpace!

in case you're wondering, he's less than two inches tall!

Even the elves at CreateSpace and Amazon recommend Clotho’s Loom–and those little felt-fellas are REALLY BUSY these days!