Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dark Trails, our imprint for certain books, stories, poems, and art.

Years ago, before Raven Publishing began publishing novels, we published a monthly newsletter for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. It was called, "Alone Together." We finally had to quit publishing it for financial reasons, but we still get submissions once in a while. The latest offering is a sweet and poignant story that we thought should be heard.  It is about child abuse, but it is more about the healing power of love and kindness. With the authors permission, and since we can no longer offer the print magazine, we are publishing it in our Dark Trails Press blog.

We invite and welcome submissions of poetry, art, stories, and even books with a theme related to abuse and healing to be published on the Dark Trails Blog. Please send them to, or mail to:
Dark Trails Press
c/o Raven Publishing
PO Box 2866
Norris, MT. 59745

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Introducing and explaining our imprint: Dark Trails Press

Raven Publishing created Dark Trails Press to publish a book that didn't fit the genre already published by Raven.  Raven Publishing originally specialized in "True Fiction" for the middle-grade reader, and gradually expanded to include young adult and adult "true fiction,"  memoir, and historical fiction including some legal murder mysteries set in Montana. The question asked in deciding whether to publish a book, story, or poem under Raven or Dark Trails comes down to this: Is there a reason we would not want a young Miranda and Starlight fan, someone in the under-12 age bracket to read it? If the answer is yes, it goes under Dark Trails, an imprint for adults and older teens. At Dark Trails, some stories, because they are true to life, may contain a some language, sex and/or violence when deemed necessary to the story or characters. Please don’t get us wrong. Dark Trails, or any imprint of Raven Publishing, past, present or future will not publish anything pornographic, racist, sexist, or demeaning and hurtful.

The first book published at Dark Trails was an e-book, Caught at the Edge, by Raymond Storm. It is a book with an important message; it is a Christian book; and it is also terribly violent. It is the story of a young man who grows up in abusive homes, is rescued by an uncle with ties to a drug cartel, and is trained to do the dirty, dangerous work for the mob. He also becomes a recruiter for other young boys, L. A. street gang members, to risk their lives for the cartel in exchange for guns, drugs, and women. This book alternates chapters between flashbacks to the young man I just described, and the grownup he becomes after an intervention converts him to Christianity. The author’s hope and intention in writing this book is to show the dark side—the true side—of the life of organized crime and street gang violence, and to lead young people to a better way.
More about Dark Trails next time.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Page-turning novel confronts controversial issues

As promised in yesterday's post, here is information about the novel we published electronically, but not as a print book yet. Because it is more controversial and for an older audience than children's books by the same author, we published it under our imprint, Dark Trails Press, which to date, has only published e-books. As I am the author, let me explain.

I write to explore important contemporary issues that come to my attention. I develop characters based on real people who confront said issues in their daily lives. Then I give the characters the conflict or dilemma inherent in the issue. I let the characters teach me how it feels, the problems it creates for them, and their natural reaction to it. They show me how they cope and eventually, hopefully, triumph. As the issue is thus clarified for me, I hope it will do the same for the reader as well as offer them support, comfort, hope, and courage.

I could list the various issues I've written about in each of my books, but I'm here to talk about this one: Danni's Choice, or maybe a better name would be Danni's Secret, since in some regards, Danni was given no choice at all. Perhaps, if you read it, you can help me decide. This issue, which has been in the news a lot, is surrounded by controversy and imbedded in politics. Danni's Choice confronts the issues of rape and abortion.

Like the teen protagonist, Danni Beaumont, (she was the supporting character in my book, The Body in the Freezer) I thought I knew my position on the issue. By the end of the book, both Danni and I learned that we were wrong. We hadn't known, and our minds were changed—even though we started out on opposite sides of the issue.

And I think—hope—that if everyone examined both sides closely, they'd change their ideas on the issue, too, regardless of the position they started with. For as Danni said in a heated speech to her college class, it's not a black and white issue.

Those who have read Danni's Choice and commented on it found it to be a compelling read as well as an important one—a book they couldn't put down until finished. I'd like to hear more feedback, for I cannot expect everyone to agree. If you are interested, you can find the book here and here. And, if you don't mind, let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Catching up on Old News.

I was shocked to see that it's been over a year and a half since I posted any news from Raven Publishing. Do I have an excuse? No, but I'll just say, it's been quite a busy nineteen months since the last post. With my mind on the books being published, it seems I forgot all about this blog. I plan to do better, but I'm not making promises.

We published six books in 2014 and two—well, three, counting one that is only available as an ebook—in 2015. Here are the books and a bit about each.

The Whole Nine Yarns, by Jim Moore, is an attractive little book that will fit nicely in your hand, purse, or pocket—or someone's Christmas stocking.  Mind you, that's YARNS, not yards—and delightful yarns they are, some humorous, The Proposal, for one; some poignant and sad, Jerry Brayed and Swamp, just to name a couple; some with lessons learned the hard way, like Cut Fence, but all tales about life in the west.

Starting the Colt, by Jan Young is a sequel to her first book, The Orange Slipknot. Ben, the twelve-year-old son of a cowboy on a large cattle ranch in the Great Basin region of Nevada is being taught two conflicting methods of starting a colt. It is up to him to decide what he believes is best (not just in horse training, but in life) and to decide whether to follow his convictions.

Starting the Colt Curriculum Unit, by Jan Young give teachers and home-school parents a comprehensive lesson plan that covers several disciplines and is based on her novel. It includes an answer key.

Joe Henry's Journey, by Marcia Melton is a well-researched, historically accurate, exciting novel about the adventures of a young boy and his Pa as they escape war-torn Kentucky and travel up the Missouri River to Fort Benton, Montana, and then on to the gold fields on Grasshopper Creek, near Bannack, Montana, in 1862.

The Body in the Freezer, by Janet Muirhead Hill, explores homelessness through the eyes of a smart and arrogant rich kid who meets a homeless girl while he’s doing community service. She has a secret that he give anything to find out. It’s a story of life, hard times, and transforming circumstances.

The Dishwater Tree, a novel by Angela Janacaro, in which the old willow tree on a lonely, windswept hill outside of Miles City, Montana, saw three generations of women—and kept their secrets. But when 80-year-old Worthy learned that she hadn't long to live, she was ready to unlock the secret of her heritage if she could. Why was she left upon the doorstep of an orphanage in Williston, ND as a newborn? Who was her mother? What was her story? Worthy's daughter comes home from San Fransisco to help her find out, and finds herself as well.

That covers it for 2014. Here are our 2015 titles:

The Jenny, by Jim Moore, is a legal murder mystery set in central Montana in 1920. Young, attractive, independent, and adventuresome Merci Bruce brings a WW II biplane to her parents' ranch near Two Dot. Merci is of the next generation of the Bruce family  that was introduced in Ride the Jawbone. When the mechanic who came with Merci from California to assemble the plane is found dead on the Two Dot sidewalk, there is a note pinned to his chest with a German bayonet. The question, of course, is, "Who committed the murder?"

The Horse and the Crow, by Janet Muirhead Hill, is a Miranda and Starlight story. The six-book series about the young girl, Miranda, and Starlight, the horse she loved, was completed in 2005. Miranda was ten years old in the first two books and fourteen at the end of book six. Young readers have been asking for more ever since. Finally, in 2015, Ms. Hill answered with The Horse and the Crow, in which Miranda loses a horse and almost loses her life. Teddy Hungry Horse, a young Crow Indian boy, saves her—three times. Fans of Miranda will be interested to know that Laurie Langley, and especially, Christopher Bergman continue to play a big part in Miranda's life.

More about the e-book, Danny's Choice, by Janet Muirhead Hill, in the next post. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Confessions of a Frustrated Editor

Sometimes after editing and proofreading manuscript after manuscript, time after time, it all runs together and the pesky punctuation rules get jumbled in my mind. I recently ran across a poem I penned a long time ago, apparently in a moment of frustration.

by Janet Muirhead Hill

Commas are such pesky things,
They sometimes get me down.
When editing I must scrutinize
Every adverb, verb, and noun.

Commas pop up everywhere
In places they shouldn't be,
And in places where they're needed,
The line is comma-free.

The manuals piled on my desk
With pages of comma rules
Sometimes seem inadequate,
So I look for online tools.

And when I'm sure I have them down,
Each rule I apply,
Until a sentence doesn't seem to fit
Any rule. Then I cry.

The rules are there, however opaque,
And we must have commas for clarity's sake
But to avoid insanity, I find I must take
This rule to avoid a worse mistake:

When you can't find a sample,
This rule is ample:
"When in doubt, leave it out!"

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Body on the Floor of the Rotunda, latest review


Following is a review that was published in the "About Books" section of the November/December 2013 Montana Art's Council's "State of the Arts" newspaper: 
The Body on the Floor of the Rotunda 
by Jim Moore 
Published 2013 by Raven Publishing, Inc., Norris, MT 

$26.00 Hardcover 

Jim Moore
In his latest novel, Jim Moore immediately grabs the readers' attention with the description of a body falling from the fourth floor balcony in the Montana State Capitol, ergo, the title. 

Readers are introduced in short order to Senator Lynn Bruce, an attorney from Roundup, who becomes central to the story when he is enlisted to defend the prime suspect in what eventually is determined to be a case of murder. 

The author's background as a former state senator and lawyer give him the credentials to pen an intriguing murder mystery, set in the midst  of a busy legislative session, where both the accused, Senator Audrey Welter, and her defender, Senator Bruce, are trying to fulfill their elective duties while grappling with the elements of an impending with the elements of an impending trial. 

The murder victim was a trusted aide to the governor with a checkered past, working her way up the social and political ladder. More than one person would have appreciated her demise.

Untangling the details and solving the crime brings the accused and her attorney in close contact, which spices the story with romance. 

One of Moore's strong points in his work is his familiarity with courtroom scenes and dialogue. It lends his tales the authentic feel that you get from someone who has "been there, done that." Cindy Younkin, attorney and former Majority Whip for the Montana House of Representatives, agrees: "The intertwining of the legislative process, cross party politics, unscupulous politicians, murder and a senator/attorney/rancher who helps the damsel in distress makes for a great story," she writes. 

Moore is a retired lawyer, cattle rancher and former Montana Senate Minority Leader, who lives near Bozeman. His previous books include Ride the Jawbone and Election Day

—Judy Shafter

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Book Covers

People judge a book by the cover, at least at first glance, so covers are very important to us. Our cover for Election Day was created by the very talented author, book designer, and editor, Craig Lancaster, who worked closely with me to give me just what I asked for. We wanted something to go along with both the title and the theme of the story, but more than that, something that would catch the eye of potential readers and hold their attention, and I believe this cover with the White House in stormy weather does just that. The book is about a fictional presidential election and a VERY stormy race for the White House—so it fits. As someone commented, on seeing the cover, "It's dark, foreboding, intriguing in the mist of storm. You can expect just about anything to happen as the story unfolds. Awesome!" And you'll be amazed and thrilled at all that does happen. 

Craig Lancaster also designed the cover for another of Jim Moore's amazing thrillers. A cover that invites you in to read more. 

I recommend Craig Lancaster's work, talent, and professionalism in creating a cover and/or designing a layout for anyone wanting an attractive book. He is also great to work with. 

 Janet Hill, president, Raven Publishing, Inc.