The Contract by Sheila Grinell

“How do you encourage curiosity in a place where thoughts are policed?”

Joanna Dunhill knows just how difficult it can be working with family, and now that she has an opportunity to finally, in mid-life, achieve professional and financial success, family—and Saudi Arabian culture—stand in the way. Author Sheila Grinell flawlessly depicts female empowerment and cultural dissonance in this story about the difficulties of owning and growing a small business. Her new novel, THE CONTRACT (She Writes Press, October 2019, Original Trade Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-63152-648-0, $16.95), explores the many “contracts” we enter in our lives, implicitly in marriage and with siblings, as well as explicitly on the job.

Joanna and her husband, Ev Dana, operate a museum design company to which Ev supplies brawn and creativity in an abstracted, laid-back way that irks Jo no end. Given her drive and management skills, though, she’s convinced they can win a much-prized deal with the Saudi Arabian government. The mission: to create a new children’s museum focused on renewable energy.

When Jo’s competitor and archrival, Phil Owen, becomes involved in the deal, Jo must find a way to look past their personal drama and join forces. Harder still, she must probe the limits of what she will be allowed to accomplish in Saudi Arabia as she seeks to expand opportunities for the mothers and daughters who will patronize the future museum. Meanwhile, it seems Ev would rather pass on the entire project and explore one of his own at a local art gallery. Will Joanna’s over-ambitiousness and Ev’s side-gig get in the way of both their business and their marriage?

“The test was about to begin. Not the presentation she and Ev would make to the review committee–they knew how to present their qualifications. No, the test would be learning the ropes of a society that repressed women yet where the potential client, the deputy director of the agency that had summoned them, was female.”

 In THE CONTRACT, Grinell draws complex characters who share many of the struggles Americans face in business, especially when confronted with gender and cultural differences. Even here, where we enjoy the freedom to choose our own paths, we are often unsure how to take the next step.

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sheila Grinell spent forty years developing science centers in the US and consulting on museum projects around the world, including in Saudi Arabia. She turned to literature in her sixties, publishing a debut novel, Appetite, in 2016. The Contract is her second work of fiction. Born in a taxi in Manhattan, she studied at The Bronx High School of Science, Harvard University, and the University of California at Berkeley. She lives in Phoenix with her husband and their dog.

Meet the Bobs and Tweets: Scout Camp by Pepper Springfield

BOBS AND TWEETS

Book #4: Scout Camp!

by Pepper Springfield

Illustrated by Kristy Caldwell

The Bobs and Tweets are back for a whole new summer adventure. Their next destination: camp! In Pepper Springfield’s latest book BOBS AND TWEETS: Scout Camp! (Scholastic; August 1st, 2019; Original Trade Paperback; ISBN: 9781338355406) illustrated by Kristy Caldwell, readers join the Bonefish Scouts as Bus Driver Joan leads them on a trip filled with sing-songy hikes, breathtaking views, tippy canoes, smores, and more camp fun!

But when Scout Leader Mike splits the group in two for a “team-building” exercise that forces them into survival mode, the Bobs and Tweets must work together in order to overcome some serious challenges. Will the scouts be able to pitch a tent, build a fire, and boil water before the ominous storm clouds keep them from finding their way home?

 Scout Camp!  flawlessly demonstrates just how far a little teamwork and problem-solving can go when learning new skills and having fun along the way!

The Not-so-Sexy Side of Book Publishing

People think what I do is glamorous and super cool – publishing.  When I was a recruiter we used to use “Publishing” as a headline to attract talent for our open positions that were basically secretarial jobs or filing clerks. There used to be editors and publishers who were almost like celebrities in the New York scene.  Books were launched with parties at trendy venues, lucrative deals were made at Book Expo, and everyone was looking to discover the next Salinger, Hemingway, Roth, Asimov, Morisson, Kerouac, or any other writer you admire.  Sounds like fun, right?

What I’ve said so far is what the audience sees.  Most people in the industry don’t expose the magic by showing you what happens backstage.  It’s not all that interesting, but these things must be done to publish professionally and competitively.

In the indie publishing world, I see repeats of wasted opportunities and misinformation about how things work that can be cleared up by remembering a few details and rules.  As a publicist, and, now, a publisher, I’m going to wear both of my hats and dish the dirt on what you need to know.

Publishing Tips

  1. Format: Proper formatting is a very basic aspect of putting a book together.  When I was an editorial assistant we called it front and back matter.  I don’t know if that’s what the managing editors are calling it these days, but it still works for me.  These are the pages at the front of the printed book including a title page; copyright page; dedication; acknowledgments; author’s note; and predetermined blank pages.   The title page and copyright page are mandatory, while the others will or won’t be added depending on the author.  My advice is to look at books from traditional publishers to see what they are doing with their pages and copy the format.
  2. Identification: There are identifiers your book needs.  Without them, it doesn’t exist in the market and can’t be sold.  They are ISBNs, bar codes, and a Library of Congress number.  Most everyone seems to know how to get the first two, but the latter is still often missing.  I was taught that it is necessary, especially if you want libraries to find, recognize, and shelve your title.  Check out this site for information on how to get your number(s).
  3. Accessibility: If you choose to publish exclusively with Kindle Direct, independent bookstores, and probably the chain stores as well will not know about your book, nor will they want to stock it.  When you sign up with Amazon’s publisher only, your sales channels are those that Amazon covers.  To have your book recognized in the trade market, you need to upload it with a national wholesaler such as Ingram, which is now the only wholesaler that distributes to independent stores.  You can also try to solicit wholesale orders through your website, but that still won’t give you the credibility you need with the trade market.  I recommend doing all of the above.
  4. Credibility: Bookstores and publications will look to see if your book is listed in Ingram’s database.  I’ve had conversations with editors at publications who will look up the book and if they don’t see it in Ingram they won’t cover it.  Why?  Because some bad apples in the indie publishing world convinced these people to review books that never made it to publication.  The quote I’ve heard is, “I’ve been burned before”.

Book Marketing and Publicity

Regarding promoting a book, there are two major issues I keep coming across.

  1. You have to consider timing.  I won’t belabor the point here because I’ve said it many times before.  If you have written a novel or memoir, you will need three to five months ahead of your publication date to send out review copies and allow for publications and bloggers to read and schedule reviews of your book.  For a prescriptive non-fiction title that has “news you can use” there is a bit more flexibility, especially if it is tied into your career or field of expertise.
  2. Printed review copies are necessary.  In indie publishing, we often use the finished book as a review copy and have it stickered or printed in a way that indicates it is a preliminary version.  The publication date is printed on the book or sticker so that it is clear when it will be for sale.  You can register with Net Galley, offer a watermarked pdf, -mobi file or ebook, but 90% of the reviewing public wants a hard copy.  I know it’s an added expense but you will be better off in the long term doing it the correct way.

For more resources and information I recommend the Independent Book Publishers Association website.  It’s not that expensive for a membership, which will give you full access.  Also, I suggest visiting Jane Friedman’s website.  She is a veteran in the industry, a professor, editor, and a published writer.

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
― Mark Twain

 

 

Mirador by James Jennings

Epic New Novel Set to Release with 25th Anniversary of Zapatista Revolt in Mexico  

NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. in the early 1990s, was billed as a pathway to growtNew Book h and prosperity for the people of the member nations. Not so for Mexico’s indigenous people. Their agrarian way of life received a death sentence when their own government canceled land reforms, ended communal land holdings, and opened their homeland to multinational corporations. The day the treaty took effect an army of peasants rose up, calling themselves Zapatistas and demanding a voice in their own affairs. They refused to be forgotten. In his new novel MIRADOR (Greenpoint Press; August 1, 2019; Original Trade Paperback; ISBN: 978-0-9906194-4-4; $20.00), Oklahoma native James Jennings tells the story of Nate Hunter, an ordinary man unwillingly thrust into the heart of the Zapatista struggle.

Nate and Sarah Hunter are a golden couple. Nate is established in an upwardly mobile career; and Sarah is a nurse, determined to make a difference in the world by helping people in need.

When Pastor Tom, a Dallas minister, looks for volunteers to join a mission trip to the village of Mirador in Chiapas, Mexico, Sarah quickly decides she’s going. Nate won’t let her go alone. It is only supposed to be a simple two-week trip, but Nate and Sarah are oblivious to the unrest brewing below the surface calm. Nate soon discovers that the cost of choosing to accompany Sarah rather than trying to stop her from going will be high.

MIRADOR is written in the historic tradition, taking a relatively unknown event and enlarging it in human terms through the lives of its characters. Jennings has traveled extensively throughout Mexico, including Oaxaca, Mexico City, and Chiapas, where he has seen the poverty of the local people first-hand. 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of NAFTA and the Zapatista uprising – a perfect time for an epic story depicting the passions of people fighting to protect their way of life and a man who joins their struggle and sees their heroism up-close.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Jennings is a writer and trial lawyer who practices in Oklahoma City and lives with his wife, Vicky, in Edmond. He is a fifth-generation Oklahoman and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. MIRADOR is Jim’s second novel. His first, The Light Most Favorable, was published in 2012. His third, Blue Wild Indigo, is nearing completion, and his fourth, Travertine Rim, is in progress.

Dark Data: Control, Alt, Delete by Douglas J. Wood


DARK DATA
Control, Alt, Delete
Douglas J. Wood
_________________________________________________________________________________________

“If you can identify a person’s desires, then you can also exploit their weaknesses, both physical and mental, through algorithms that serve up alternatives as subliminal tools for behavioral manipulation.”

Paula Janković is no ordinary hacker. With the ability to access any system at any time, Janković utilizes the principles of the “Selfish Ledger” to profile individuals through their emails, social media accounts, and online activities; unleashing a superstorm of dark data and fake news and manipulating people to do her bidding. But who is really behind such operations? Meet Constantine Petrenko, a seasoned Russian criminal and financial oligarch whose hunger for world domination takes center stage as he enlists a myriad of talented felons, like Janković, to coordinate a series of terrorist attacks intended to bring the international business community to its knees.

Meanwhile, as Janković does her part for Petrenko, ISIS leader Abu al-Badri teams up with the Russian and his minions to devise a plan intended to wreak even greater havoc upon innocent victims throughout the world.

With hopes to thwart the oncoming death and destruction, rookie journalist Rebecca Taft— the only person who might have a lead on al-Badri and Petrenko’s master plan— is working with the CIA. Together they decode an ominous list of dates in efforts to learn where and when the imminent attack will be. Can they solve this puzzle of pandemonium before it’s too late?

“No one is immune from being off social media.”

In his new thriller, DARK DATA: Control, Alt, Delete (Plum Bay Publishing, August 13th, 2019, Original Trade Paperback/Hardback, ISBN 978-1-7335253-1-2/978-1-7335253-2-9, $16.99/$25.99), award-winning author Douglas J. Wood transports readers to a world where privacy is just an illusion and using data for the targeted advertising and marketing we see today is nothing compared to what is truly possible. Experts Wood interviewed while writing DARK DATA warn that the reality of this books’ scenes could be just one “click”, “share,” “tweet,” or “like” away.

DARK DATA is not only a thrilling novel, but also serves as a cautionary tale that sheds light on the dangers of social media and the mystery that is the Selfish Ledger. Involving questionable characters in positions high and low, Wood brilliantly portrays what could happen if the wrong people control information that has the potential to destroy us all.