Entries in 711 Press (62)


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co. Bankrupt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt HeadquartersAnother one bites the dust! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., the publisher behind renowed authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain, have begun bankruptcy proceedings, thanks to mounting debt that hovers around $3 billion to date.

I have long said that the traditional publishing model is too expensive and archaic to continue in its current state, and eBooks are on the rise. According to the Association of American Publishers, from 2010 to 2011, sales of adult paperbacks and hardcover books fell 18 percent. Meanwhile, Amazon has reported stellar sales of eBooks during its busy holiday season; sales that have since eclipsed those of the benchmark hardcover.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a Boston-based company, lists assets of $2.68 billion vs. $3.53 billion in debt in Chapter 11 documents filed in a Manhattan U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Some 20 other affiliates started bankruptcy proceedings as well, among them Classroom Connect, Inc and Broderbund, LLC.

Part of the problem stems from Houghton's reliance on state and federal funding, since they are in the schoolbook business, and states and school districts continue to slash budgets on a weekly basis. More than this however, the bankruptcy was fueled by a leveraged buyout, as investors were allowed to buy into the company with hordes of borrowed money. That money has since evaporated into "thin air"; the kind of air creditors breathe.

A major change is coming, and that change will see the destruction of many publishers and booksellers who hold to an outmoded publishing model. The future is here, and 711 Press is embracing it full on.


Order of 5ive The Complete First Season Now Available

Relive the adventures of the Order of 5ive by snatching up your copies of the complete first season, available in print from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or Kindle and ePub format for Nook and Google Play. And look for the library editions in about two weeks, via OverDrive!

The Kindle UK Edition is also live, with more versions rolling out over the course of the next two weeks. This is in preparation of our big season 2 launch, which kicks off Monday, July 2nd with an explosive season 2 opener that picks up right where season 1 left off. The landscape may have changed somewhat (along with a few enemies) but the quirky, charming, and fun-loving teen heroes are back with a vengeance, as they are pitted against more hairy, mythological monsters and wild creatures of the night. The conspiracies deepen as well, and old enemies evolve into even greater threats as they amass power, raising the stakes for election year 2012!

This omnibus features all 13 action-packed episodes from the first season, including the bonus episodes "Origins," which details the beginnings of the Order Project and "Vacation," which shows yet another unique side to our teen heroes, this time in the beautiful Bahamas.

You can also visit the official Order of 5ive product page.


My Thoughts on John Grisham's The Litigators

So I'm reading John Grisham's The Litigators, and I have to say, while it's not his best work, it's among his funniest, thanks to quirky characters that come in the form of two Odd Couple ambulance chasers lawyers who seem to always be at each other's throats or their legal secretary's. Owing to 711 Press, however, and their unique approach to storytelling, I'm somewhat spoiled by quick, to-the-point fiction nowadays. Grisham's book tends to drag out details and load the narrative with extraneous info that need not take up precious story space. I'm finding that to be true of much of what I read though, from various authors in the industry.

The truth is, someone, long ago, came up with a set of publshing rules that dictated the "average" length of a novel, and when all the big houses came on board, well, authors had to toe the line in order to get published. Now you have books that have to fall above 75,000 or 85,000 words in order to be considered full length, despite the story the author intended to tell (and maybe that story was 150 pages long originally, before being stretched to 400+ pages). Whatever, all I'm saying is, it's starting to wear on me, and I'm finding myself more partial to 711 Press's more lean and direct storytelling methods. I seriously think they're redefining the storytelling form; repackaging it for the current, on-the-go generation, particularly the one beset by all these modern day distractions and competiting entertainment mediums.

Yeah, Grisham's book has my interest for the most part, but it is a long slog, I gotta say, and at the end of the day, my time is very precious. But to each his and her own.


Going Green With Solar

Being in Nevada, sunshine is plentiful, and since we have a south-facing ranch/rambler, I figure it's time to go solar. I've contacted two local companies and gotten estimates and I am floored at how much going "green" can suck green from the wallets of conscious folks. Sure, there are solar power rebates, tax credits and incentives and so forth, but that up front cost is something that has to be considered. At this point we'll probably go with a smaller setup: a few solar panels, trickle charger and a smaller battery bank, which I can probably figure out myself--doesn't take a rocket scientist after all. But just thinking about spinning that meter backwards has me and the wife salivating. However, we also plan on putting on an addition so Elena could have her prized hobby room (she sews, knits and does other crafts, which is wonderful).

Well, if we do end up going big and contracting with a solar energy company to do the installation I'll keep you posted, but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

If Kill Factor becomes a runaway bestseller, then this will be a whole nother conversation, as they say.

- R. Vallon


Which Band Influenced the Chapter Titles of Long, Cold Winter?

I have to admit, I'm a real music girl and I love my 80s bands. Because of my love of music, I try to slip in a little nostaliga here and there in a weird way. For Long, Cold Winter, I did it through the chapter titles.  I'll give you a freebie before I ask the big question... The book title, Long, Cold Winter was taken from the second album release by rock band Cinderella. However, as I began to write the book, I discovered that another one of my favorite bands had album titles that easily fit into the plotting of Long, Cold Winter. This was purely accidental, but after naming several chapters, it clicked. I reviewed this band's entire catalog and stuck to the names of their albums to complete each chapter in the book.

Though this band didn't inspire the story, my affection for them will be forever hidden at the beginning of each chapter of Long Cold Winter. So, what's your best guess?

PS: Flight 666 was not a reference to Iron Maiden's video. That one was purely coincidental, though I do admit, those guys rock ;)


HBO's Game of Thrones

I think HBO is doing wonders for the fantasy genre. Not only have they taken source material and lifted the possibilities of the storytelling to new heights, but they've done so through the medium of television, perhaps eclipsing what has been done on the big screen (my apologies, Peter Jackson). Game of Thrones is high art in my view. The show manages to capture the essence of George R. R. Martin's books while adding a unique flavor to the mix each week. Characters are a bit different in the show and chart a slightly different course than their literary counterparts but ultimately they share the same fate, thus far anyway. We're nearing the end of season two and it is getting HOT!!!

I love Tyrion and the loyal and fearless Brienne; Arya is a rare treat and Daenerys is wonderfully portrayed, but her blasted dragons aren't in the show enough (blame it on the budget). For those who haven't read the books (I have yet to complete the newest books myself) you're in for major surprises and more shocking deaths, but I say, bring 'em on!

I gotta tell you too, this show has me pining for Ronald Coleborn's Legends of the Dread Realm series, which launches in August, supposedly. I've only read bits and pieces of it thus far, thanks to monthly meetings, but what I've seen has surely whetted my appetite.

You can tell by now that, though a sci-fi writer I am, I have a strong affinity for fantasy. Love the stuff!


James Bond Mania

So I've been watching the James Bond series all over again beginning with Dr. No, and I have to say, I LOVE the series. Brings back so many memories for one thing, but mainly I'm gearing up for Skyfall and gathering inspiration for my own Kill Factor series (which, as it's shaping up so far will probably run as long as the James Bond film saga, which currently stands at 23 entries, yikes). While I love Sean Connery, Roger Moore brought a more subdued and debonair aura to the role, infusing it with a unique touch that was all his own. I'll comment on the other three blokes once I get back up to them, but stepping one man back, I think folks have been entirely hard on George Lazenby. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was superior to some of Connery's entries, to be fair, and I preferred it over Moore's debut film.

All told, I'm like a kid in a cany store with this series though, and I'm glad I'm only 9 films in. 

Let the James Bond mania continue.

P.S. - Gotta love those beautiful Bond girls, and what variety. The spice of life, they say.