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Rushmore Publishing Group (formerly Big Sky Press, Mythic Dragon Publishing)

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

aliceshortcake

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Oh, dearie me. Many thanks to the lovely Helix for leading me even further down the rabbit hole:

Juls Duncan's maiden name was Julie Johnson:
https://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Johnson-Duncan/100010469710536

The admin contact for the Big Sky Press website is Julie Johnson. The address provided is that of Dale and Julie Duncan.

The admin contact for Mythic Dragon Publishing is Dale Duncan.

https://whoisology.com/archive_12/bigskypresss.com

There isn't much room in this tangled web for Dakota Castle and Julie Hartwick, is there? Dakota has one post on Facebook dated 15th December 2015 and no life outside Big Sky Press (her friends include Juls Duncan, Julie Duncan and Julie Hartwick). Hartwick also has no life outside Big Sky/Mythic Dragon, but her Facebook posts date back to 2012.
 

aliceshortcake

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More cover-related shenanigans from Big Sky Press:

Jack's Lantern: the spooky background is a thinly disguised but instantly recognisable version of Chown Rocky's copyrighted Dark Night! No credit is given.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KRRWBT4/?tag=absowrit-20

http://www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/image/49509/dark_night_

Reckoning: this picture is all over the place as a free wallpaper, which doesn't give anyone the right to slap it on a book cover. In the original the girl had one blue and one brown eye.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JRPGALC/?tag=absowrit-20

http://www.hdwallpapersnew.net/blue-eyes-girls-hd-wallpapers/

Displaced in Time: the girl with red hair can be found as a free wallpaper on many websites. Again, just because an image has made available for use as a free wallpaper doesn't give anyone the right to use it as a book cover. As for the cowboy on the left, although I couldn't find a source for the image I can't not see him as Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain!

https://www.facebook.com/bigskypres...8381396557278/994906597238085/?type=3&theater

http://wallpaperlayer.com/red-hair-girl-wallpaper-background-7635.html

The Ripper's Hellbroth: I couldn't trace the artist but I swear this villain-in-a-black-cloak-in-Victorian-fog image is used on practically every Jack the Ripper website. The odd thing is that the novel is set in the present day. Big Sky credits the artist as 'ANONYMOUS'.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SZAHQGI/?tag=absowrit-20

https://www.dosomethingdifferent.com/experiences/jack_the_ripper_walking_tour_

All Big Sky book covers are the work of Julie Hartwick and 'book design' is credited to Ryan Cooper.

There are four Big Sky authors other than Juls Duncan. As far as editing is concerned, I couldn't help noticing that the only two Mythic Dragon/Big Sky books that appear to be properly edited are the ones where an editor isn't credited. None of the others, which credit the editor as Richard Williams, have been edited to a professional standard - "steal gray eyes", paintings that "compliment" the furniture, hundreds of examples of incorrectly-punctuated dialogue...you get the picture.

One author was nowhere near ready for publication, and I have no hesitation in saying that if he paid for Juls Duncan's editorial skills he was robbed. Some extracts from his books:

Perched on a slightly mounded rise, a big, relatively new bungalow stood with an attached garage and most definitely an architectural tour de force.

She heard that at the Christmas party they took home spectacularly decorated baskets loaded with impeccable charcuteries and mellifluous cheer.

...[a] pair of stunning ten-foot-tall doors that displayed Byzantine motifs surrounding leaded stained glass design above.

Like two kitten around a bowl of sweet cream, they lapped up each other's words with starry eyes.

When the sun's red glair disappeared, office lights took over.

"How should I know?" Guido replied, aggravated at his partner's constant batter instead of keeping his eyes on the restaurant's front door.

Even the city's garbage dump, reeked better with its sweet sour odor, instead of stale rotting fumes from ancient Easter eggs hunts that crept into office finishes long ago. She glanced at the dark trail around the coffee bar, shuttered, and smiled sinisterly for this was the last day she would ever see such filthy cluttered gas of rancid bouquet again.

Zondair flexed the fingers of her right hand and admiring her recently pedicure design.

He eyed her assesses and every facial feature, but he couldn't help thinking, enjoy your moment of bliss, she could evaporate like donuts in a police station.

*picks up dropped jaw, washes off carpet fluff and particles of cat litter*
 
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aliceshortcake

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I posted on Big Sky's Facebook:

Are Julie Hardwick and Juls Duncan the same person? That's the impression I get from Whoisology:

https://whoisology.com/archive_12/bigskypresss.com
MGP sRHICws9AzPg8MOzpx8VgaoE8qFhgEADLQAoXdonEAkRYQJxySKowJ0DWAPxOPAjEB0OHIBYmSNBUAQzGDAEkhFoT6AjHjzwCaRjTQezSSgEWtFjS6A2ECC4CFSGQhEEVYMsCGQkQIArXwJQCYRnwQInZQUZsJMi0AzHAfIEGtOg9JMcAjNgSWAiEBMIXQLJSUAbRVGWBtAIOBPoQ6AlAoILUFOC4AAEcQhcCHSBgHMCUkKsHDigBogRD7LDcDMEiQKKOyxUDdggJkrEGBQTFiCSPiAAOw==



Also, the Look Inside sample of Juls Duncan's 'The Other Island' (Kindle edition) is in fact the standard 'your book needs extensive editing' letter Julie Hartwick sends to prospective authors...the same letter in which she recommends Juls Duncan's editing service.

These and other issues, including the copyright-infringing artwork on the cover of at least one Big Sky book, have been raised here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php...

Their less than helpful response:

Yes, this is true. We bought two other small publisher and combined all three under one name. This was to make it easier for us and the authors.Julie HartwickBig Sky Press.


My reply:


  • You haven't answered my question. As Julie Hartwick, acquisitions editor, you tell writers that their work needs extensive editing and steer them towards Juls Duncan. How are you making it easier for authors by giving them the impression that Hartwick and Duncan are different people? Have you ever accepted and published work that DIDN'T need a paid edit from Juls Duncan? This is blatantly dishonest. If Big Sky is making money from authors by encouraging them to buy editing services from the owner of the company it's just a thinly-disguised vanity press. And the standard of editing in Juls Duncan's own books is absolutely appalling. If I had over $600 to throw away I would have loved to see what she would have made of Sylvia Townsend Warner's 'The Corner That Held Them', the sting manuscript I submitted a couple of days ago. As for that photoshopped mash-up of Jude Law and Hugo Weaving you used for the cover of 'The Forest of Carren...did you think nobody would notice?















 

deborahbusby

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Oh they probably don't charge for publishing; however, when you are only willing to look at a manuscript if the author pays your in-house editor for professional editing, that is unethical.

I've been published by two publishers and neither charged me for editing.

Is this the place?

From the home page:



That doesn't exactly give me confidence.
 

deborahbusby

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I heard back from Julie Hartwick - who told me to pay Juls Duncan for professional editing. When I told her that I have had my manuscript professionally edited, she emailed me a rejection. Something is fishy.

This kind of stuff makes me so angry...because I have enough experience in the editing world to figure it out, but some author's don't. They just have a dream, and people like Juls/Julie Duncan/Hartwick take advantage of that.
 
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VeryBigBeard

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What's fishy is that they want you to pay them for editing or they reject.

I said this was an author mill in my first post. I was wrong. It's a vanity pub making it worse by pretending not to be while it redirects the whole operation through an editing kickback. Black flag, run away.

As always: if you have a manuscript, give it the best you can. If you want to trade publish, start with agents and work from the top down. Small houses can have benefits, but they shouldn't be the first place you try. Self-publishing can be a good option, too, but you don't deal with middleman agencies or service providers--money still flows towards the writer and the product.
 

aliceshortcake

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Hartwick/Duncan's latest responses on Facebook:

Wait... Have you submitting a manuscript to us? I don't remember your name. We urge an author who needs to seek Ms. Duncan, I don't see this as un, because we know her writing and the care she takes in editing. But an author can seek any editor they choose, and I state this with the first page edit I send them back.We have had a few editor ask us to give referrals, but when I send them a page it edit. They don't know the difference between showing and telling or the standard format for publisher...

As for the cover on The Forest Of Carren, we paid for the right to use the photo.
I went back through all the submissions we have gotten in the last 6 months looking for your name, but didn't find it. Did you submit under another name or are you just adding your voice to other?
https://m.facebook.com/bigskypress/

She doesn't read for comprehension, does she? Mind you, she doesn't write for comprehension either.

Many new writers will interpret Big Sky's one-size-fits-all response to mean "if I have my manuscript professionally edited by Juls Duncan I stand a good chance of being accepted!" Blinded by the prospect of publication, they won't bother looking at Duncan's own (self) published work. And even if they have to shell out hundreds of dollars for editing it's not as if they paid to be published, is it?

As for her claim to have paid for the rights to use the photo (which one? Jude or Hugo?) I can't believe that the owners of these images would have given permission for them to be used on a book cover. It's not as if Jude Law is an anonymous model or New Line Cinema would want Elrond's crown to be associated with non-Tolkien fantasy. Perhaps she's referring to Feathery False Eyelash Girl, which would make sense as the image has been used on two of Duncan's book covers. In which case...she doesn't read for comprehension.

ETA: There's an amusing exchange here in which Duncan does the "just another author singing her publisher's praises" act:

http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.php?/topic/8724-mythic-dragon-publishing/
 
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FluffBunny

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If I type in "bigskypress.com" as the URL, I'm redirected to the Missoula Independent newspaper. If I use "www.bigskypress.com", I get a vast expanse of empty whiteness. Their domain registration looks to be valid until 2021, so.... *voice trails off as she wanders in search of a coffee refill*
 

deborahbusby

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Also, their LinkedIn site which is how I found them is completely gone.

A few days ago, Julie actually posted something on LinkedIn about this discussion and linked from her profile to it. I can see if it was saying nice things and some of her authors were defending her...
 

deborahbusby

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It's bigskypresss.com (three s's). Even more concerning when you can't even spell your domain correctly.

Red flags abound...at least the site is down.

If I type in "bigskypress.com" as the URL, I'm redirected to the Missoula Independent newspaper. If I use "www.bigskypress.com", I get a vast expanse of empty whiteness. Their domain registration looks to be valid until 2021, so.... *voice trails off as she wanders in search of a coffee refill*
 

aliceshortcake

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It's bigskypresss.com (three s's). Even more concerning when you can't even spell your domain correctly.

I think the last 's' stands for 'submissions'. Duncan stressed that it wasn't a typo!
 
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FluffBunny

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Ah, merci beaucoup! Good gad, three esses? I must've been suffering from "S Blindness". Still a vast space of whiteness unless it's meant as a pictorial depiction of the vastness of a winter big sky.

ETA: Checking their Whois data, the site doesn't expire until April 24th this year, but that raises the question: who registers a business domain for only a year? It was created on the same date in 2015.
 
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aliceshortcake

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All that deleting and she missed the "your ms needs editing" letter on Kindle.
 

ctripp

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Thanks Alice, really had fun with the AgentQuery convo! Worse then pretending she was just one of their happy Authors, she started out stating she just found them, doesn't know much about them but recommends them??? It goes down hill fast from there and doesn't take their savvy group long to figure her out:)
http://agentqueryconnect.com/index.p...on-publishing/

And just to add, I can't find them anywhere other then their Facebook page, where the last post is just an ad for the Editor. (and a few poor writers asking if they can submit)
 
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Filigree

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They connected the dots rather quickly and diplomatically, I thought. All the way back on 2012. Sadly, Big Sky/Mythic Dragon seems to be following a standard trajectory for many of the worse small presses: attempt sock puppetry marketing, fail-flail-meltdown, rename itself after being outed, and hope new folks don't put the information together in time.
 

aliceshortcake

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There are some classic sockpuppet reviews on the Barnes & Noble site in which Julie Johnson raves over Juls Duncan's books:

THE MASK OF NOESIS by Juls Duncan is wonderfully written and will spur the imagination of those who read it. My favorite part is where they encounter some creature (no, I won't tell you what they are) and Tristan is pushed over a 500 foot cliff, and plunges into the ocean below. Only Juls Duncan could come up with that...I see the series becoming as popular as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the...n/1114041625?ean=9781490975771&quickview=true

It amazes me that anyone selling editing services could fail to notice the toe-curling errors in their own work. If you're going to employ an editor who's also a novelist wouldn't you want to check the quality of their published work before handing over the cash? At the risk of flogging a deceased equine:

Morgan released her father, only to latch onto her mother in an equal hug. Jumbled words of “Dead-How-Alive.” And something that sounded a lot like “Mrs. Ryan” flowed about the room.

“What do they think they’re doing...” He fought to get his fear under control. “...giving that damn thing to my daughter?”

Morgan was sent to the principle’s office and cited for her refusing to obey the school rules.

“There’s no way, I’m writing a letter to Santa Claus!” A boy said appalled at the very idea.

This assignment was the answer to her prayers, with rising excitement. Her pen flew over the page as she created her very first Christmas letter. Since, she had no one to address it to. She addressed it to Santa Claus.

On the 5th of this month Duncan started a new Facebook group, Authors Seeking Editors:

Authors — This group is for authors seeking an editor. Please do not list your books or any other kind of advertisements.
Editors — Post your website, author testimonials, and email addresses. No other advertisements.

Anyone not following these simple instructions will be band.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/725247837574983/

Which band, I wonder?
 
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bluestreak65

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Hi, thought I'd post an update on what Julie Johnson/Juls Duncan has been up to in 2017:

A friend of mine submitted her query letter to Julie Johnson, who gave her the same bizarre response other people have described: your work shows promise, it needs editing, go see Juls Duncan. After some researching, we came across this website and confirmed our suspicions, which is that Julie Johnson is full of crap. She's been operating under a new publishing house now by the name of Rushmore Publishing Group. Visiting her website brings up webpages full of grammar errors and books that don't seem to exist when you Google them. The Facebook page for Rushmore Publishing Group lists Julie Hartwick as the acquisitions editor (and googling Julie Hartwick brought me here), which connects the dots between Rushmore and Big Sky and Mystic Dragon. Website for Rushmore Publishing: http://rushmorepublishinggroup.com/submission

I'm hoping people doing their research on potential agents/publishers comes across and doesn't fall prey to her scam. People who take advantage of unpublished, hopeful authors suck.
 

aliceshortcake

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Well, look on the bright side - that book apparently doesn't exist. Of the ten "showcased" Rushmore books the only one I can find on Amazon is Robert Courtland's Counterpoint to Chaos, first published by Mythic Dragon (through CreateSpace) in 2012. I can't help noticing that Duncan/Johnson has managed to spell Mr Courtland's surname incorrectly on the list of Rushmore's authors. Honestly, you'd think "A traditional company of literary fiction" could do better than this.

The testimonials page is even more bizarre. Five glowing testimonials are provided by the imaginary authors of imaginary books; Clayton Stone, author of The Pirate, seems to be a fictional character created by Ena Jones; W L Mace (Warship) and Emma Andel (The Witch) are invisible to Google. So is Sean O'Brien, but that didn't stop him waxing lyrical about Rushmore:

"Rushmore Publishing Group is my first publisher and the experience was insightful. When first getting into publishing, one hears the horror stories about novelists whose work has been edited to the point of being unfamiliar. What I enjoy about working with RPG the author is involved in every step of the process and learning your craft is encouraged. RPG isn't like most small publishers—they won’t accept anything less than your best. My manuscript wasn't up to their standards, instead of sending me a rejection letter, they advised me to seek out author and professional editor Juls Duncan. Ms. Duncan is probably one of the best writers I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. She helped me edited my first novel Pearl Cove with nothing less than tough love…her honest and direct critiquing is exactly what a new writer needs when learning how editing and revising their work. I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it without her."
Sean O'Brien—Author of: Pearl Cove

http://rushmorepublishinggroup.com/testimonials

Crikey! It's almost as if Juls Duncan wrote that rave review herself!

On Rushmore's Facebook Julie Johnson provides some helpful advice for new authors;

For those of you seeking an editor...Always go with a Professional Editor.
Top 7 things to look for.
1. Your editor should never be friends or family members.
2. Have edited over 15 manuscripts professionally.
3. Have published (Traditional) three or more novels.
4. Can distinguish between telling a story and showing one.
5. Knows if your manuscript needs formatting.
6. Can write a blurb and/or a professional query letter.
7. Most important of all—can provide references.

Contact us for our recommendations on Professional Editors.
https://www.facebook.com/rpgsubmission?lst=100017378947691:100003977380979:1507278708




Well, that effectively rules out Juls Duncan...
 
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aliceshortcake

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According to their website Rushmore intends to publish only ten novels per year. If Robert Courtland's Counterpoint to Chaos is anything to go by sales won't exactly go through the roof - five years after its release the paperback edition has no Amazon ranking and the ebook stands at 26394 in the Kindle Store Science Fiction/Fantasy/Epic list. The only way the company will make money is by steering authors towards having their work edited by someone who clearly isn't on familiar terms with the English language and/or getting them to buy their own books, which at $17 for a paperback and $28 for a hardback are grossly overpriced.

It's interesting to see that there's an unfamiliar name at Rushmore - Junior Acquisitions Editor Max Grayson:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/max-grayson-394995115/

There's nothing on his LinkedIn profile that isn't on the Rushmore site, and his Facebook is no more informative:
https://www.facebook.com/profile.ph...st=100017378947691:100011400696735:1507314390

Does Max even exist?
 

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