Category Archives: St. Nic Inc

How dwarves ended up in St. Nic, Inc.: An unexpected journey

Little people figure prominently in my newest novel, St. Nic, Inc.  Moreover, the climax hinges on the role of little people. In popular culture, little people are commonly associated with elves of myth, and some people have wondered if this why I included them as characters. Ironically, the mythology surrounding little people and elves is one of the reasons they didn’t end up in the story at all!

I completed the manuscript in 2000, and I didn’t know any little people personally at the time. St. Nic, Inc. is intended for a mainstream audience. So, as I began mapping the Santa Claus myth over the contemporary, reality-based world I was creating, I was trying to create practical analogues that would also be consistent if a North Pole operation actually existed. I purged fantasy elements from the back story. Elves didn’t figure into it, in the same way that the story doesn’t have reindeer, or flying sleighs, or a rotund Santa Claus (who is sometimes referred to as a “jolly old elf”). So, the early drafts tried to avoid little people altogether because I thought little people and elves would be conflated, detracting from the contemporary and reality-based setting I wanted to create.

For more on little people, check out the Little People of America (LPA) website here.

To watch the St. Nic, Inc. trailer, click here.

To buy St. Nic, Inc., click here and help out LPA at the same time!

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St. Nic, Inc: “quirky, fun and very clever.”

A 5-Star review is in from Jack Magnus at Readersfavorite.com! (I have added the emphasis in bold.)

“St. Nic, Inc, is an action and adventure thriller written by SR Staley. Peter Peary is a washed-up explorer in his early twenties. He excelled in school, graduated on a fast track and was making waves as the consummate explorer until the fateful trip to Mount Everest where a squall claimed the lives of his group as well as his mentor and father figure. The trip up to the North Pole with his friend Sheila Livingston was hard to fund as no one wanted to trust him anymore, but Sheila was finally able to procure sufficient funds for their sled and dog team. When Peter regains consciousness, he’s in some sort of hospital room, and his head is throbbing. His nurse, Jeff, is kind and considerate and is, Peter notices, rather short. Quite a few people in this hospital, or medical facility, are little people. Peter has difficulty remembering the circumstances that led his being here, and his attempt to leave the facility leaves him totally confused and under guard.
SR Staley’s action and adventure thriller, St. Nic, Inc. is quirky, fun and very clever. Peter, descendant of the famed Arctic explorer, finds himself embarking on a grand adventure indeed, as he attempts to understand just what he’s landed himself in this time. Nic Klaas, the driven CEO and computer genius, is a great foil for Peter, and I enjoyed watching as the two damaged psyches work at establishing rapport. I’ve never read anything like this book. You know where it’s going based on the modern mythology, but Staley takes you there via a marvelous and exciting thriller that has some pretty unpredictable turns. I enjoyed St. Nic, Inc. It’s especially bound to appeal to those of us who’ve never quite gotten the hang of growing up, and it’s highly recommended.”

 

 

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Why Write a Reality Adventure About the Santa Claus Myth?

My newest book, St. Nic, Inc., takes on one of America’s most cherished children’s myths, Santa Claus, and places it into a fast paced adventure that readers have compared to Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler. (Watch the trailer here.) Many people have asked what prompted me to write this book, so here’s my answer:

My story’s origin begins with the question every parent dreads: Do you believe in Santa Claus? As parents, we worry over how our children will react to the “truth” that Santa Claus is a myth. The overwhelming majority of our kids, of course, do fine. They may feel a period of betrayal and a sense of injustice, but they get over it. I think, however, many people underestimate how difficult this conversation is for parents and adults. We perpetuate the myth because we believe in its spirit and the core value of giving as an unconditional act of generosity. In this way the values are very secular. We are afraid that if our children realize that the myth is not real, the value of the principle is somehow degraded. I believe strongly in the importance of unconditional giving and charity. I think its a critical element of any sustainable society or community. As a novelist and storyteller, I wanted to reinvigorate this idea for adults. That’s why St. Nic, Inc. is not a children’s book. It’s a story with characters that gives us the space as adults and parents to believe if we choose to believe.

 

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“St. Nic, Inc.” and Dwarfism Awareness Month

October has been designated as Dwarfism Awareness Month, and Little People of America (LPA) has kicked off a series of activities geared toward raising the profile of little people. Of course, little people are critical to the plot, setting, and story of St. Nic, Inc., so we have created a few pages to help in the effort. So head over to www.srstaley.com and check out these pages:

You also can help out the efforts of LPA by buying St. Nic, Inc. from their website. It’s the first book listed under “Resources” and “Fiction with dwarf characters.” LPA gets a cut of every purchase made at amazon.com starting from their website.

Over 30,000 people in the U.S. live with one of the 200 types of dwarfism. Read St. Nic, Inc. and you just might kindle a new belief in Santa Claus through the little people that make this story so interesting.

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“St. Nic, Inc.”, “Pirate of Panther Bay”, top amazon rankings

Southern Yellow Pine Publishing ran a special on the kindle e-book versions of St. Nic, Inc. and The Pirate of Panther Bay on September 11th and 12th, and the results were phenomenal! Both books climbed to the top of amazon’s kindle ebook rankings in their respective categories:

  • Both books reached overall rankings in the low and mid 30s for action adventure.
  • St. Nic, Increached #5 under “suspense” and #6 under “thriller/adventure” in the kindle ebook rankings.
  • The Pirate of Panther Bay reached #1 under “sword & sorcery” for children kindle ebook rankings and #5 for “action/adventure”.

Thank you to everyone who made this promotion so successful!

(Now, feel free to write a review at amazon.)

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St. Nic, Inc. Makes It to Audio Book!

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!

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Lessons in Writing Styles: Cussler vs. Clancy vs. Staley

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.

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St. Nic, Inc.: Book Trailers, and Other Cool Links

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:

Pre-orders available from:

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Ready…set…launch–St. Nic, Inc. takes off on August 19th!

St. Nic, Inc., my fourth novel, is set to officially launch on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Check out the book trailer!  Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-YFLKDsWfU

Also, check out my website for reviews and other links! (http://www.srstaley.com)

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SR Staley Signs 2-book Deal with SYP Publishing

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.

Here is the essential text:
St Nic Inc is an update to the myth of Santa Claus with a twist involving a rogue agent working for the Drug Enforcement Agency, a twenty-something MIT trained engineer, and a washed out winter explorer looking for redemption. While contemporary in setting, the novel is a technology-oriented action-adventure novel that Staley says may well convince readers that Santa Clause does indeed exist.

“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.”

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