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[Publisher] Crimson Sparrow / Academic Warriors

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read2live

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Well, first see the link about Big Bend Productions, because that information is related. (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?327874-Publisher-Big-Bend-Productions-Marfa-House)

Then please take a moment to peruse this particular Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Crimson-Sparrow-367161234011627/about/?ref=page_internal
The website they are operating as part of https://www.academicwarriors.com/

Many of you will remember me from the Big Bend thread. I outed myself as the former Vice President of Operations. I had the great pleasure of being accused of a lot of things there. I even admitted some of it was true, but most of it was baseless and an attempt for them to save face in the middle of the storm.

But this, this new turn of events and the company attempting to prey on special needs persons is appalling. Especially with it coming out in the middle of Autism Awareness month, this is just not okay. They are explicitly saying, "we publish autistic, gifted and special needs authors."

To me, this seems like it is an attempt to prey on people who aren't going to know any better, based on the track record of the owner of the company. For further info, see this link, https://absolutewrite.com/forums/sh...ain-Springs-House-Mountain-Springs-Publishing which was the owner's first (as far as we know anyway) publishing company. So Crimson Sparrow makes the third.

I think part of the reason this bothers me so much is I have high functioning autism and my youngest child has classic autism with savant syndrome, so is profoundly gifted as well. This specific marketing on their part, to me, seems like preying on people just like her, with the express purpose of taking advantage of the fact that they are trusting and accepting and take things at face value because to them the world is black and white; there is no grey area. It is disgusting, and someone needs to stand up to them and say something, to put a stop to it before it goes too far.

The link to the FaceBook page was first posted on the Big Bend thread, and someone said there should probably be a new thread for Crimson Sparrow, so here I am. Hopefully, if enough of us who had these experiences with the previous companies stand up and make sure our voices are heard, something will happen. Or at least we can warn enough people off anyway.
 
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Maryn

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I thank you for starting a thread any search will find easily, including generalized searches for the words "crimson sparrow" conducted outside AbsoluteWrite.

Man, there's no depth someone can't sink below!
 

read2live

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I thank you for starting a thread any search will find easily, including generalized searches for the words "crimson sparrow" conducted outside AbsoluteWrite.

Man, there's no depth someone can't sink below!

I opted not to pursue action when they unceremoniously fired me and terminated my contract and refused to pay me money that was owed. I decided after a while of fuming to be the bigger person, put it behind me and let it go. And despite the fact that I knew, and advised them on several occasions, that their NDA wouldn't hold up in court and was not worth the paper it was printed on, especially in my case (not a single one of my papers was notarized), I actually stuck to it. At least until I finally decided to speak out on the previous thread. But this, this is too much for me. I actually do some work as an educational consultant and parent advocate for special needs children and am sitting here wondering if maybe I shouldn't warn my client/audience base about this particular... I do not even have the right words for what to call them right now. It just makes me very angry.
 

read2live

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Wanted to share this that I just found also, as it is relevant to both this and the previous discussions relative to the owner, and even more so now with her targeting this specific demographic. Previously, it was used as a defense that the owner was a teacher who worked with special needs children. She is not in fact a licensed special education teacher. She is licensed as a generalist, early childhood through grade four. https://secure.sbec.state.tx.us/SBECONLINE/virtcertdisplay.asp?spid=111099&mode=C

Teachers' license status is a matter of public record. There is no evidence that she holds the proper license to teach either special education or gifted students in the state of Texas. I also did a quick check in both Ohio and Kentucky, other states where Mrs. Espinosa had claimed to me that she had taught. And there is no record of a license. In fact, she had even claimed to have run a brick and mortar private school for the gifted students in one of those states, though I do not recall which at this time.

As an education major myself and an autism advocate, this is a particular sore spot for me when someone misrepresents my chosen profession and tries to further use that misrepresentation as a way to prey on people who are not as able to advocate for themselves and defend against predators such as this.

I do now feel as if I have no choice but to publish the post on my educational and advocacy site that advocates toward families impacted by autism to serve as a warning that this is out there.

Another thing to keep in mind with the status of her teacher’s license is you will notice it just says generalist and not highly qualified, despite the fact that she has been licensed for 13 years. That distinction usually does not take that long.
 
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aliceshortcake

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Thanks for that info, read2live. Might it be worthwhile to share it with the Autism Society of America? This is blatantly obvious exploitation of vulnerable people by a bunch of amateurs posing as a professional publisher.

More about Bruning's claim to have run a private school:

"I had worked in a private school for the gifted and then started my private school for the gifted the following school year in Indianapolis." https://www.academicwarriors.com/ourfounder

Also, on the 8th of June last year Bruning started a GoFundMe campaign for Academic Warriors. Sadly it fell rather short of its $10,000 goal - so far eight people have contributed $175!
 
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read2live

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Thanks for that info, read2live. Might it be worthwhile to share it with the Autism Society of America? This is blatantly obvious exploitation of vulnerable people by a bunch of amateurs posing as a professional publisher.

More about Bruning's claim to have run a private school:



Also, on the 8th of June last year Bruning started a GoFundMe campaign for Academic Warriors. Sadly it fell rather short of its $10,000 goal - so far eight people have contributed $175!

I am a very outspoken advocate in the autism community and have a fairly large following in that arena, as well as having some others with 20K+ followers who further retweet and share things that I post as well. I am not quite as familiar with The Autism Society of America, but I do have contacts with the ASAN and some others. (Not Autism Speaks... I am not a fan of THAT organization).

I actually have been doing a fairly large hashtag campaign for #flipthestigma and have been pretty active this month in particular, especialy since I have a speaking engagement next week as well. I am going to be posting a blog post on my website this week pointing all of this out.

I have been cautioned by a few friends because of the whole NDA thing and the fact that there could be some significant backlash, but I would not be an effective advocate if I did not warn against this blatant explotation and preying on these children.
 

aliceshortcake

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I've just noticed that Bruning's LinkedIn page includes as 'Honours and Awards' not only the meaningless 'Who's Who Among American Educators' and 'All American Scholar' but also 'Third Place Winner Best Short Story Contest Judge's Award'.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/allisonbruning/?locale=de_DE

Elsewhere (https://www.prlog.org/12034477-author-wins-short-story-contest.html) we learn that the competition was actually the Erika M Szabo Best Short Story Contest of 2012. Erika M Szabo's books are published by Golden Box Book Publishers, a company owned by Erika M Szabo, whose "self-publishing" packages range from $295 to $495. Editing isn't included:

Editing: Your book must be fully edited. If your manuscript is not edited, we can recommend one of our trusted editors to you or you can find and editor before sending your book to us to help you with publishing. https://www.goldenboxbooks.com/book-publishing.html
 
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aliceshortcake

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Let's have a closer look at the Academic Warriors Young Authors Program: https://www.academicwarriors.com/youngauthor#!

[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]
Academic Warriors provides the opportunity to experience what life is like as an author working with a publishing house through our Young Authors program. Students enrolled in the Young Author program learn the writing process, techniques used by authors to organize their thoughts and how to work with a publisher. At the conclusion of the program, students would have published at least two novels, a children's book and have stories in two anthologies. Marfa House, our publishing house, will release their books via Amazon, Smashwords, Google, iBooks and more. Students can earn prizes via The Climb program for the amount of books they sell for a single title.
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[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]

Firstly, the page hasn't been updated to reflect the fact that Marfa House has been rebranded as Crimson Sparrow. 'The Climb' page no longer exists - it was a bizarre scheme by which authors were rewarded with gifts, such as backpacks, for achieving good sales figures. From what I can remember the targets were outrageously high for self/vanity pubbed books.

Cost - $67 deposit due upon enrollment, 1st month $67, Monthly Membership $134 per month, Program Length 98 weeks or 1 year 10 months

WHAT? Have I read that correctly? Parents are expected to pay $2881 for a course which cannot possibly teach children "what life is like working with a publishing house" or "how to work with a publisher" because Crimson Sparrow is no more than an amateur POD outfit? Financial aid is apparently available via charter schools, personal payment plans and vouchers, but I have to wonder how many parents have done this successfully. The GoFundMe for Academic Warriors was intended to set up four scholarships, but as we've seen it failed dismally.

[/FONT]
[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Steps 1 - 3 (38 weeks)[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Stories are published in an anthology. [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Students may have the option to have their stories published as children's books. [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]If the parents decide to sign a publishing contract, the student will have the option to use professional artist or use their own artwork within the children's book. [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Students will experience working with a professional editor during the editing process.[/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496][/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Step 4 (8 weeks) [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]The story is published as a children's book in print and ebook. [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Students will have the option to use professional artist [FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]or use their own artwork. [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Students will experience working with a professional editor during the editing process. [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Steps 5 - 6 (40 weeks) [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Two stories are published as novels in print and ebook. [/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Students will experience working with a professional editor during the editing process.[/FONT][FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496][/FONT]
[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]Certificates and progress reports are provided at the end of each step.[/FONT]

Who are these 'professional' editors and artists? I can't see much evidence of either at work in Marfa House's books, which now appear under Crimson Sparrow's imprint. Nor can I make any sense of how stories - presumably short stories - can be published as novels.

Then there's the five-week 'Young Editor' course, which can be yours for a mere $150:

https://www.facebook.com/367161234011627/photos/a.367567663970984/367567403971010/?type=3&theater

It's truly shocking to know that at least some parents may be paying almost three thousand dollars so their kids can proudly display a couple of books they could have published for practically nothing via Amazon... and that these kids are led to believe that they've learned how to have "a writing career".




[FONT=avenir-lt-w01_35-light1475496]
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aliceshortcake

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Crimson Sparrow's Facebook is a hoot. It's basically a string of posts congratulating Allison Bruning because "her books have been chosen as the books of the week for having the highest Amazon rankings out of all Crimson Sparrow books". She's also pushing Camp Write Right for children aged 8 to 14 - for $15 they can "learn how to write a novel and have it professionally published!" I hope a parent of one of these aspiring novelists will ask allegedly best-selling author Bruning exactly how many books she's sold and what qualifies her to give writing advice, given that none of her own books were professionally published and most of them barely qualify as pamphlets!
 

C Alberts

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Crimson Sparrow's Facebook is a hoot. It's basically a string of posts congratulating Allison Bruning because "her books have been chosen as the books of the week for having the highest Amazon rankings out of all Crimson Sparrow books". She's also pushing Camp Write Right for children aged 8 to 14 - for $15 they can "learn how to write a novel and have it professionally published!" I hope a parent of one of these aspiring novelists will ask allegedly best-selling author Bruning exactly how many books she's sold and what qualifies her to give writing advice, given that none of her own books were professionally published and most of them barely qualify as pamphlets!

Wow. One of those books is ranked 1.8 million (ebook) and 4.2 million (paperback). The other is 1.2 million (ebook) and 1 million (paperback).

And they're drawing attention to the fact that these are their bestsellers.
 

aliceshortcake

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Does it ever occur to the parents whose children are being enticed into the Crimson Sparrow/Academic Warriors programme to examine the quality of the company's published books, or ask themselves why so many of them were written by Bruning and her husband Delfin Espinosa? Espinosa's books in particular are so riddled with errors they read like straightforward text dumps:

Marys' dad was John, and he was a detective. Her mom was Karen, and she worked in a dentist office. She was a dental assistant. Mary was not too sure about looking in peoples' mouths.' Mary thought that being a detective was the coolest thing ever. She had made up her mind, that is what I want to be when I grow up.

I recently came across two other books by a British author which obviously received the same professional care from Crimson Sparrow. A few examples:

Morag belonged to an ancient family of witches and warlords, who have been raised to protect and fiercely guard the village of MacDuff.

Recently Morag has required numerous consults with her mother more than usual as her training was incomplete; she hadn't fully accepted her gifts.

Warlords? Shouldn't that be warlocks? And I think the author means consultations, not consults.

“Sorry Albie you're still too short. I am sorry them the rules.”


There was a huge sign which said Renegrove Height 10 luxury apartment coming spring/summer2017 “Oh no those poor trees and what about my friends!!!!!!.” shrieked Albie, who was shocked to see several men with large chain-saws cutting down trees.

Words fail me.
 

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