Southern Yellow Pine Publishing has announced that St. Nic, Inc. will be issued in an audio book format. So, for all those people that spend a lot of time on the road–in cars, on trains, and in planes–there’s not excuse for not reading my newest novel!
One of the great benefits of Beta Readers–those brave souls willing to read drafts of your work before presenting it to the world or a publisher–is their insight into your writing style. Sometimes we resist these comparisons–as happened in this case–but they often yield a useful perspective that helps us define our own style and gives us a marketing angle as well.
This came home to me recently while my Tallahassee-based critique group was reading an early draft of St. Nic, Inc., my fourth novel released in August 2014. After reading the opening chapters, critique group member and aspiring novelist Emily Timm said “Your book reads like a Clive Cussler novel.” After a few chuckles from the other members, she added, “and I mean that in a good way.”
Now, at this point, I was a bit embarrassed. I had never read a Clive Cussler novel, although I knew he had sold a lot of books. In fact, he’s sold millions, and his books have been on the New York Times best seller list twenty times. But this information was really useless to me as a writer, and I didn’t know how to process it. I wasn’t sure if this really was a good comparison.
Then, another reader (but not a critique group member), Mark McNees, said St. Nic, Inc. “artfully combines the action of a Tom Clancy novel with the insightful social commentary and multiple levels of experience as George Orwell’s Animal Farm.” Two more great cites. The contrast in writing styles between these now deceased writers was potentially significant: Orwell wrote in a class literary tradition while Clancy wrote action-adventure-technology thrillers.
While I am very familiar with Orwell’s work, I wasn’t well versed in Tom Clancy’s, except for watching a few movies based on his novels. Tom Clancy was a genre buster and one of the few writers to have their inaugural novel (The Hunt for Red October) shoot to best seller status. Still, I understood the genre pretty well, and I was curious how my writing style compares to Clancy’s.
The only way to find out was to read their books. What I found was quite revealing.
Of course, my writing style is different–neither Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, or George Orwell. In part, this is the result of my focus on writing for young adults and middle school readers for the first three novels. St. Nic, Inc. is written for the general fiction market although it is accessible to young adults. These readers want fast plots, plenty of action, and a gripping story. The rule is the less description, the better. In this way, Clive Cussler’s style, although he is geared toward adult markets, is well suited to my approach.
But I also included layered characters with arcs that peak at different times based on the trajectory of the main plot and subplots. Thus, my stories aren’t as straightforward as Cussler’s, and my characters experience significant life changing events that influence how they view the world. Like Clancy, I strive to make my fiction authentic. The Pirate of Panther Bay attempts to stay true to the real world of pirates and the historical context in which the characters live. The Path of the Warrior series attempts to ensure the martial arts self-defense skills are authentic and realistic, set within the context of middle-school bullying and violence. These values permeate the stories and books.
So, where does St. Nic, Inc. fall? Of course, it’s a little bit of each. I admire the lean writing style of Clive Cussler even if it won’t earn him accolades from the literary elite. (Of course, readers love it.) While I would like a little more flourish when reading Cussler’s novels, the action and pace keep me engaged, and I’m not sidetracked by subplots or thinly disguised attempts to be classic fiction. The characters and stories are straightforward, and that suits his fans (and publisher). These are very easy reads, the epitome of escape literature. I like Clancy’s commitment to keep the adventure-thriller grounded in reality and the characters more layered and complex. This also has turned out to be a highly successful strategy, and it probably reflects his own personality as a writer. While still escapist in its approach, Clancy’s novels require a bit more patience and enjoyment of the journey.
Based on the comments I’ve received from readers, St. Nic, Inc. seems to reflect a happy evolution of my writing style, one that embraces a lean writing style with layered stories. I am pleased to embrace comparisons to all three highly successful (for different reasons) literary giants. I’m not sure I would have made these connections, and become more confident in my own writing style, if hadn’t been for the prodding and candid observations of my beta readers, friends and critique group.
With the launch of St. Nic, Inc. just days away, managing the anxiety surrounding the launch of my fourth novel it becoming more difficult. (I’ll just have to rely on my ninja training.)
A few critical links to the book and promotional material can be found here:
- Official book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-YFLKDsWfU
- Endorsements: http://www.srstaley.com/St.html
- Sam’s author facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/srstaleyfiction
- Sam’s official SNI bio: http://www.srstaley.com/uploads/SRStaleyBio_StNicInc2.pdf
Pre-orders available from:
- Southern Yellow Pine Publishing: http://www.syppublishing.com/st-nic-inc/
- Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/St-Nic-Inc-SR-Staley/dp/194086920X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407423884&sr=8-1&keywords=sr+staley+st+nic+inc
- Barnes & Noble (bn.com) link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/st-nic-inc-sr-staley/1120036909?ean=9781940869209
- Books-A-Million link: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/St-Nic-Inc/Sr-Staley/9781940869209?id=6074240341243
My friend Tracy Lawson is launching her newest dystopian thriller, Counteract, the first of a series, on Wednesday, August 6th, and we’ve got a sneak peek! Tracy’s book is a fast-paced adventure examining how we might act in a world in which terrorism has defined every element of our relationship with the government.
With the population under tight restrictionssupervised by the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, the government uses the threat of bio terror via chemical weapons to keep us under their control via an “antidote.” Would you have the courage to resist? Is it too late to recapture our freedom?
Win chances to win in her special giveaways by leaving a comment on this blog post or clicking here!
Here’s the press release:
Ripped from the headlines…The year is 2034, and the United States as we know it is no more. In thefuture, the concept of “Big Brother is always watching” has taken on new meaning.
NSA drone flyovers and government surveillance of citizens’ emails and phone conversations are the least of anyone’s worries. With the rampant threat of terrorism a constant presence, the government has had to take extreme measures to ensure the public’s safety.
The Office of Civilian Safety and Defense (OCSD) has been enacted as an offensive against terrorist attacks. And make no mistake, attack is imminent. Citizens in 2034 now live in carefully monitored quadrants, with regulations governing food distribution, driving, entertainment, and much more. For college student Careen Catecher, and recovering accident victim, Tommy Bailey, life is far from carefree and easy.
Anyone who loves a good dystopian thriller will find a new favorite in Counteract. Lawson joins the ranks of authors like Aldous Huxley, and his Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984, as she questions whether the government should be allowed to usurp personal freedoms under the guise of doing
what’s best for the people.
Readers will find themselves eagerly turning the pages as Careen and Tommy uncover the enemy in their own backyard and discover just how far they are willing to go to fight for a freer way of life.
On Tuesday, August 5th, novelist Tracy Lawson launches her new novel Counteract. Check out this blog for an interview with Tracy about her writing process and the importance of her new novel.
As prelude, here’s a quick bio:
Tracy Lawson knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she could read. While working toward her Bachelor’s degree in Communication at Ohio University, she studied creative writing with Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. After short stints as a media buyer and an investigative analyst, she settled into a 20-year career in the performing arts, teaching tap in Columbus, Ohio, and choreographing musicals. Though her creative energies were focused on dance, she never lost her desire to write, and has two non-fiction books to her credit: Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More, winner of the 2012 Ohio Professional Writers Association’s Best Non-fiction History Award (McDonald & Woodward), and Given Moments (Fathers Press). Tracy’s love for writing new adult fiction is sparked by all wonderful teens in her life, including her daughter Keri, a college freshman. Counteract is Tracy’s first novel.
St. Nic, Inc., my fourth novel, is set to officially launch on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Check out the trailer here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-YFLKDsWfU
I am pleased to announce that I signed a multi-book deal with Tallahassee-based Southern Yellow Pine Publishing two publish two novels: St Nic Inc, which will be published in fall 2014, and Tortuga Bay, which will follow in 2015. The complete press release can be found on my website (www.srstaley.com) and here.
“I was inspired to write St Nic Inc when my children were young,” says Staley. “I asked myself, what if Santa Claus was real? What if Santa Clause was not fantasy, with flying reindeer and a sleigh, or even a person. What if Santa Claus was a concept or an idea, or a vast secret organization
capable of delivering millions of gifts and toys to adults and children across the globe? What would it look like? How would it work? The story and characters in St. Nic Inc explore this tension between idea and reality in unexpected and challenging ways.”
The second book is the sequel to the The Pirate of Panther Bay, an action adventure featuring a female pirate captain and ex-slave prowling the waters of the Caribbean in the late 18th century. Tortuga Bay is slated for publication in 2015. Readers (www.pantherbay.com)
have called The Pirate of Panther Bay, “a great adventure romance,” “an engaging swashbuckler,” and “a fun and exciting adventure book that the whole family can enjoy reading.”Reviewers say that novel is “a grand high seas adventure any teen would love; many adults as well” and a book “that remains true to the real world of pirates and Spain’s desire to reign over the New World.”
John Lehman, founder of the literary magazine Rosebud, writes Staley puts “plenty of zip into the action sequences” while exploring “some interesting pyschological implications about control in male-female relationships.” Tim Bete, director of the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop at the University of Dayton says The Pirate of
Panther Bay will forever change the way you think about buccaneers.”
Tortuga Bay continues Isabella’s saga as the Spanish viceroy continues his quest to purge the Caribbean of her presence. In the midst of high-seas battles and swashbuckling escapes, Isabella
confronts the true meaning of a prophecy told by her mother and finds herself immersed in a budding revolution and slave revolt in western Hispaniola (modern-day Haiti).
Both books are part of Southern Yellow Pine Publishing’s expansion into fiction. Known for its investment in Tallahassee and Big Bend history, including books such as The Leon County Heritage Book, a history of the turpentine industry, and, most recently, the history of the Tallahassee fire department as told through the biography of the “Dean of the Fire Service,” William Earl Levy, Sr., SYP Pub began publishing fiction in 2013 with the release of Saundra
Kelley’s Danger in Blackwater Swamp.
“We love working with new
and aspiring authors,” says SYP Pub owner Terri Gerrell. “We believe SR Staley’s eclectic characters
and stories will broaden our fiction audience, and we look forward to working
with him to further develop a regional and national readership for his work.”
Here’s the annual round up for the most popular blog posts for 2013:
- Anatomy of a successful New York Times Pitch (4 May 2013)
- Suzanne Collins on writing novels (28 Aug 2011)
- Secret (literary) agent math (15 June 2011)
- What Danica Patrick and Denzel Washington tells us about character (23 February 2013)
- Does the New York Times Boost book sales? (7 May 2013)
Every once in a while a contrast in styles and approach provides productive food for thought, and this happened to me after going to see the films Saving Mr. Banks and 47 Ronin. I’ve written before how I believe films, and screenwriting in particular, can be helpful in understanding effective storytelling. The contrast in these two films shows why.