I’m thrilled to announce the re-publication of my first novel and Book One in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer. After six months of being out of print, the 2020 DarkWhimsy Books Revised Edition of Haunting Blue is now live at most online stores in both paperback and various ebook formats (as of this writing, Nook has not gone live but should happen in the next day or two.) I’ve heard enough, take me to the order page.
But we also premiered two new YouTube videos in support of… all of the above, but which mainly showcase the talents of my fabulous audiobook narrator and her hitherto hidden paperdoll performance talents. Danielle Muething not only created these videos and props herself, but she did so within hours of the event.
So here you go! First, enjoy Danielle performing as Paperdoll Maxine Marie singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”
Next, Danielle took both paperdolls, built some sets, and created something new. It’s… well, you’ll see.
RJ’s Obsession (Or, seriously, what’s with the constant Cyndi Lauper posts?)
This blog was originally written and posted in 2012 on the awesome Kriss Morton blog Cabin Goddess as part of my Haunting Obsession Book Tour. Through the years, sharing the link to that article would be my go-to answer to anyone who’d ask me about my “Cyndi Lauper Story.” Sadly, Kriss took down Cabin Goddess and has no plans at this time to bring it back. That article is re-posted here (lacking her graphic awesomeness) with her permission. Tweaks have been made to update links and information.
SinceHaunting Obsession features a thinly veiled homage to Marilyn Monroe, and is the story of someone who takes his fandom way too far, it’s easy to assume I’m an over-the-top fan of Monroe. And yes, I do fixate on many things Marilyn. But she is not the person I am most obsessed about.
I also love pop music of all eras. But I am a child of the 80s. I was in the tenth grade in 1983, a couple years after M-TV debuted, so the woman who stands above everyone else in my pop music universe is Cyndi Lauper.
Yes, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, She-Bop, Money Changes Everything, and the most awesome ballad of all time Time after Time. [Edit: I considered linking each song, but come on, kids, Google them. I can’t do EVERYTHING for you.] THAT Cyndi Lauper. Her rendition of Unchained Melody performed live in 2003 in a small Chicago dinner theater is the only time this six-foot four inch man ever swooned. Were I not already sitting down, it could have been embarrassing.
I see you. Yes, you. Hovering your pointer on the back-button, ready to bail out of this post. I know what you are thinking. I will say it for you. Cyndi Lauper. What a kook. RJ’s hopelessly stuck in the 80s. Isn’t she just for girls? See, I’m psychic that way.
I remember in 1983 the first time I heard Girls Just Want to Have Fun. My exact thoughts: “Wow, fun song, too bad it will never catch on.”
New Seventh Star Superstar Carl R. Moore wrote this spiffy new review of Haunting Obsession and asked me a few questions about it. I was pleased and honored at the kind words and the attention Maxine continues to draw after all this time. Check it out. Carl’s article follows:
I’m very excited to announce my new review series, Review-Interview, a combination of a book review and short interview with the book’s author. It is in part a continuation of my blog’s original “Is that an Old Book?” review series. Adding a dialogue with the author brings in an exciting new element. The first featured book is Haunting Obsession, and the interview is with its author R.J. Sullivan. Without further ado, please enjoy the first installment of Review-Interview, brought to you by Carl R. Moore and Seventh Star Press:
A gifted young computer programmer has a passion for collecting movies and memorabilia featuring his hallowed idol—the elegant and alluring Maxine Marie. His colleague and girlfriend, Loretta, tolerates his obsession, but only to a point. When Daryl pays a high price for an old rent check signed by the famous actress, not only does he push his hobby and his girlfriend too far, he also summons an entity that is beautiful and dangerous, electric and evil, arousing and voracious—the ghost made flesh of Maxine Marie herself.
In Haunting Obsession, author R.J. Sullivan crafts a novella about a supernatural love triangle that draws its power primarily from its well-wrought characters. Flawed, somewhat geeky heroes likeable for their brains and sense of humor, protagonists Daryl and Loretta come across as a couple you might know and root for. You can see the attraction between them, Loretta’s affinity for the “mind behind the Star Trek posters”, as it were, and Daryl’s understanding that the woman he loves has the right combination of brains and easy-going tolerant spirit to be long-term material.
Effective immediately, all my titles are available at a new local brick-and-mortar store!
You can now purchase all books RJ at The Eclective, a consignment gift shop on Indy’s south side dedicated to handmade,vintage, artsy, and …well…. eclectic gifts, products and art by local vend0rs of all sorts. My work is featured as part of a bookshelf display alongside my local author co-op peeps at the Speculative Fiction Guild, a shelf we are creatively calling the SFG Store.
The Eclective is located at 2915 S. Meridian St.Indianapolis, IN 46225. You can check out their website and Facebook page by clicking the links. But none of this will help you experience the Eclective. To truly appreciate its unique vibe, you need to visit the store for yourself. The Eclective is divided into booths and rooms, loosely organized into kids and teens, health and beauty products, handcrafted and re-purposed items, and The Geekery. SFG’s books are part of The Geekery (he said, surprising no one). There are original paintings, handmade soap (including Mother Nature’s Bath and Body by my good friend Sharilee Gray who clued me in about the store) and a stage for exhibits, demonstrations and special events (more on that later).
The SFG Store features all of my titles, priced to sell and competitive to Amazon. You’ll find my paranormal trilogy:
I have pre-autographed each book at the SFG Store, and as always, signatures are totally FREE and worth every penny you pay. Stock will vary week to week, but the store is close enough that I should be able to keep all titles in stock most of the time. And if you’ve already read my books, the SFG Store also features books by my talented friends and peeps J0hn F Allen, Matthew Barron, E. Chris Garrison, and Maurice McKiernan. And there’s plenty of vendors to shop besides us (not that we want to discourage you from spending all your time at the SFG shelf).
And to launch things properly, SFG is holding a grand opening kickoff event Friday, March 24 @ 6 PM. SFG is partnering with the Eclective resident artist Sarah Rae Cote for a fun evening of readings and paintings …the authors do the readings, and you do the painting! Whether you’re directly inspired by our images-in-words or your imagination takes you somewhere else, it’s just you, the canvas, the brushes and a couple of h0urs to paint whatever pops into wonderfully warped brain, and we can’t wait to see what that might be.
Guests can listen to readings and shop until the store closes, and we’ll all be around to personalize those signatures; participation in the painting activity costs $25 for supplies, which includes the canvas and access to brushes and paints. You get to keep your creation when you are done. The store closes at 7 PM but will remain open for painters only. Click here to sign up via the event page, or just stop in the night of the show. This is the first of many special nights in the planning stages. Hope to see you there!
The larger world shared by E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan (they even co-wrote this blog post)
E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan: two great tastes that taste great…
Let’s start over.
Chris and R.J. met at an author’s retreat in 2011. At the time, Chris had released her first editions of the Road Ghosts Trilogy and Blue Spirit, and RJ had released the first edition of Haunting Blue. Through discussion and the group readings that happen during author retreats, they found that they tend to think in similar ways on such topics as character archetypes and styles, which made them fast friends.
Chris’ skills as a brewmaster may have also had something to do with this.
Their first venture into “crossing their universes” was a character to character fictional interview blog that proved a lot of fun. Eventually, they decided that using each other’s characters and settings in a shared universe made sense dramatically in certain instances. Over time, they found that telling tales that affected a larger world also made for a fun marketing ploy to coax sales. They drafted a simple agreement between themselves to work it out, and they have been trading characters and building upon a shared universe ever since.
Having set the stage, let’s look at how Restless Spirit, Chris’ latest release and the reason you’re here, is part of that world.
This second book in Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy (written under a previous byline) marks the debut of Skye MacLeod, a cheerfully drunken gamer girl involved in a vampire live-action roleplaying game. The main cast encounters her as they attempt to save a poor little lost tween ghoul from a greedy opportunist who’s in league with a demon. Skye literally stumbles into trouble as she is possessed by the demon and forced to do its bidding. While this possession is temporary, Skye’s life and destiny are changed forever.
When the Trilogy ended, Garrison wanted to do something different. Skye was the first character she thought of to star in a spin-off series.
Set in 2010, the first novel by R.J. introduces flamboyant punk girl “Blue” Shaefer, her computer savvy boyfriend “Chip” Farren, and Chip’s best friend Phil Jenson. Against the backdrop of a creepy Indiana small town with a legendary secret, Blue and Chip meet, fall in love, and try to solve that legendary secret. Their efforts end up releasing a ghost and dark hi-jinx ensue.
The aforementioned spin-off of Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy, this first book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales features Skye telling the story from her own point of view. She tells us a tale of her misadventures as a transplanted gamer girl whose life is permeated with the supernatural fairy world only she can see. Having grown up in Chicago, Skye never needed to learn to drive, so she takes the IndyGo buses or bums rides to get everywhere she needs to go. On one such bus, on an especially bad day, Skye meets a short, scruffy, gnome-like person who calls himself the Transit King. Skye sees past his sketchy appearance and recognizes him as a fairy lord. He proceeds to offer his assistance (in return for a promised favor) that further tangles Skye in high stakes supernatural politics.
In many ways, this first encounter not only drives the rest of the Tipsy Fairy Tales and provides Skye with a mentor, but introduces the Transit King as an unlikely favorite character from this book among readers and author peers. Chris was surprised and honored when later asked by R.J. if he could “borrow” the mysterious character for his own books.
In this sexy ghost story, frustrated geek girl Loretta Stevens boards a bus while fuming over how rudely she’s been treated by her boyfriend. She and Daryl had come to the local mall to shop for a birthday present and possible engagement ring for her, only to watch as Daryl instead buys a piece of overpriced Hollywood memorabilia connected to the long-dead gorgeous 50’s icon Maxine Marie. Disgusted, Loretta leaves him standing in the store, and she must now rely on public transportation to get back to her car.
On the bus, as she reflects on their relationship, a strange, creepy fellow with a thick accent advises her to wait for Daryl at his apartment. “Normally, I just…get travelers to their destinations…I’m just the Transit King, after all. …Follow yer instincts, not yer pride.” Yes, this is the same Transit King who plays such an important role in Garrison’s Tipsy Fairy Tales, making his “debut” in the R.J. verse.
Loretta ignores this good advice, to her regret. She learns that her boyfriend has been ensnared by the ghost of Maxine Marie herself. Maxine, now a sort of super-specter, is strengthened by the energy generated by her millions of fans, especially Daryl. The ghost is feeding off him, and he’s fading fast. Desperate, Loretta seeks aid from Rebecca Burton, an investigator of paranormal phenomenon who wields mysterious powers. Loretta learns that Rebecca’s role as a government agent is a cover that allows her to move about freely as she prepares to play a major role in an upcoming battle with the forces of evil.
The year is 2013, and Chip Farren and Phil Jenson are now students at I.U., roommates living off campus and ambitious game programmers. They’ve released a beta of Fantasy Free-Form, their multi-player heroic fantasy computer game. Blue travels to Bloomington over Thanksgiving weekend to sort out her complicated feelings with Chip about their relationship.
The three of them are unaware that the game has been targeted by a cult of demon worshipers who think they can use the game’s virtual environment as a focal-point to summon a demon, creating a portal from their dimensional prison in hell to the video realm and then from there into the real world. Fortunately, Rebecca Burton is already aware of the situation, and she’s employed a talented young woman to assist her–Skye McLeod. Before the night is over, Blue will nearly lose her life and her sanity, and Skye will have to find the inner strength to confront Rebecca and force her to do the right thing. Phil and Skye will also begin an unusual friendship that continues in…
In the following summer of 2014, Skye finds herself still underemployed and dependent on her girlfriend, Annabelle. Phil Jenson has taken the step of promoting Fantasy Free-Form at Big Con, an enormous gamer convention in Indianapolis, and has hired Skye on to use her charm to draw con-goers to try out the game. She’s delighted at her apparent good luck when Rebecca Burton calls her. Rebecca has heard rumors of supernatural activity at the convention, and she wants to hire Skye to watch out and report on anything suspicious. Trouble soon finds her, in the form of one of her gamer friends somehow amassing a zombie army, some meddling trolls, and an ancient horror lurking underneath the center of Indianapolis. She goes to visit her old mentor, The Transit King, who has become far more powerful after the events of Blue Spirit, and he gives her some cryptic direction and magical aid–with his usual price tag. Unfortunately, Skye gets pulled into the supernatural events more than any of her employers care for, and when one problem crashes into another, she feels forced to set them against each other, unleashing a type of hell into downtown Indianapolis in the process. She loses the support of Rebecca and the Transit King, and puts other relationships at risk, but Phil sticks with her to the very end, helping her make slightly more sober choices to undo what she’s done.
The story doesn’t end there. Garrison reports that Phil, Blue, and Rebecca return for the climactic third book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales series, Mean Spirit! So stay tuned for future Garrison/Sullivan character crossover fun!
About the author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.
This Saturday marks my fifth consecutive appearance at the Paranormal Meet and Greet at the Historical Hannah House on the south side of Indianapolis.
My first appearance was as a new author in 2011 with my then-brand new first novel Haunting Blue.
My second appearance was for the book launch of Haunting Obsession, where reader / fan Nikki Howard enthusiastically cosplayed my sexy ghost Maxine Marie on a cosmic lineup of events–the book came out the year of the 50th anniversary of the real Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the event took place 50 years and within a day or two of her death. (And if I told you I had no idea that things would align the way they did when I started planning it, I wouldn’t believe me, either.) It was a lot of fun and we sold a lot of books that day.
Since then, I’ve been a part of the Paranormal Meet and Greet every year it’s taken place (they took a year off in 2014). It’s a fun day, pretty easygoing, at a truly unique and lovely landmark, and the people there are kind and enthusiastic about real-life paranormal investigations. I hear some incredible stories every year.
This year, I’m sharing a booth with other SFG Booksellers, where we’ll have plenty of horror and ghost story books to choose from. And Maxine Marie is going to “haunt” the grounds of the Historical Hannah House. This time she’ll be “channeled” by local model and reader Madison Kae Scroggin, who’ll be mingling with the crowd and posing for pictures while she puts the “boo” in boo-boop-be-doo. (Yeah…I don’t know what that means, either, but you don’t want to miss it).
You’ll find plenty of copies of my paranormal trilogy and my short story collection. (I’m temporarily out of stock of Commanding the Red Lotus)
Cash and Credit Card payments accepted. Autographs as always are completely FREE and worth every penny you pay.
The 10th Annual Paranormal Meet and Greet is a FREE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC EVENT Sat, Aug. 13 with extended hours from previous years: 11 am-6 pm in the lawn of the Historic Hannah House at 3801 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46227. Click this link to go to the Facebook Event Page. I hope to see some of you there!
This year marks my fifth consecutive year at one of my favorite science fiction conventions, InConJunction, on the east side of Indianapolis, and I’m super-excited! For one thing, this will be the first time I’m bringing a science fiction book to a science fiction convention!!
Yes, that’s right, I’ve been doing just fine all these years selling ghost story and scary stories to a crowd that’s much more in tune with spaceships and laser guns, so now for the first time I’m bringing those, too. I’ll have plenty of copies of Commanding the Red Lotus on hand along with my back titles of ghost stories and my short story collection. I’ll be there with my Speculative Fiction Guild buddies as well, mingling, talking SF, dancing badly, and taking pictures of great costumes. Joining me in our space will be John F. Allen, Matthew Barron, E. Chris Garrison, and convention newcomer Maurice McKeirnan.
I’m please to announce that Seventh Star Press has organized a blog tour to run all next week, June 27-July 3, in support of Commanding the Red Lotus. I am busy working on new anecdotes and inside stories to share with my readers in support of the book.
Those who have been around awhile know how this works. Below is the full listing of blog stops and dates. As each one goes live, I will turn each listing into a live link, creating a list so you can come back here and review the entries for posterity.
Also note that Seventh Star is holding a Giveaway on Goodreads in which they are … uh… giving away two free copies of Commanding the Red Lotus. The giveaway is going on now and runs through June 30. Click here to enter the giveaway.
It’s my pleasure to host a special blog interview on the eve of a new release by one of my favorite storytellers, editors, and publisher entrepreneurs, Mr. D.L. Russell. Almost a decade ago, he started the e-zine Strange, Weird and Wonderful when the idea of delivering magazines via an electronic file download was still new and not in wide use. D.L. used SWW to explore that potential and built SWW’s reputation as a place to find new, talented voices in dark fiction and as an outlet that discarded word count in favor of giving storytellers the room they needed to tell their story. I am proud to be counted among the new voices that first appeared within its electronic pages.
D.L. has since shut down SWW and branched out into themed anthologies under the publishing label Black Books Publishing. It’s first release, 21st century Black Erotica, sets the tone for how D.L. intends to push boundaries and offer his press as an outlet to examine all realms of subject matter.
His latest anthology shows a return to dark fiction with Illuminati at My Door, an exploration of secret societies and those who dare to find them and draw their attention.
Hi, D.L. On the surface, secret societies have been a part of speculative fiction for a long time. Can you tell us why you felt that now is a good time to return to this particular idea? Perhaps it, maybe, seems particularly appropriate to the time we live in?
The main reason is because I don’t feel these stories have been told from an accurate perspective of the common man. This anthology has nothing remotely related to the “last honest man,” constantly looking over his shoulder as he attempts to tell the truth before it’s too late. There are no Fox Mulders in this anthology. In fact, it’s just the opposites, with the main requirement of each story being believe-ability and a straightforwardness usually bypassed in such stories.
In some ways, editing a short story magazine and editing an anthology would be very similar experiences. What makes anthologies a different experience for you? Do you have a different mindset when you consider the submissions? What priorities do you have to consider that differ from magazine fiction?
When we were doing Strange, Weird, and Wonderful, each issue needed to have enough variety to please readers of several of the Spec Fiction Sub-genres. We never had a problem getting the scary stuff, but there were times when it’s all we had to go with and I had to make calls to writers I’d worked with on earlier issues to see if they had any Fantasy or Science Fiction pieces.
With anthologies, it’s the basic or detailed theme of each story that ties the book together. With Illuminati at my Door, the basic theme was if an individual was approached by a member of a secret society, how would they handle it? Especially in today’s world, where secret societies and conspiracy theories are everywhere; almost every major and minor event is branded with its conspiracy element.
Talk about your stable of authors. I know you maintain contact with your SWW contributors. On a new anthology like Illuminati at My Door, how many new names appear in the collection and how many are talents you knew from before who stepped up for you? Did any of the “old guard” surprise you in new ways, or did you discover a new talent that appears in your pages for the first time?
One of my goals as an editor and writer is to maintain good relationships with people I’ve worked with, including other editors, writers, and even artists. We’re all at different stages of our careers, but I think by maintaining those positive relationships, we’re able to cross those career barriers.
There are a couple SWW alums that came on board the Illuminati at my Door project; one was Mary Patterson Thornburg, who is a retired Ball State University English Professor, not only supplied the Foreword, but also has been Copy Editor for every title Black Books Publishing Inc. has done to date. I’d have to say my relationship with Mary is the best example I could give a young editor to keep your professional relationships positive at all cost.
The other is Matt Adams, who’s an Indy native and appeared in SWW with a story I fell in love with called “Old-Fashioned Police Work.” When I contacted him about the theme of Illuminati at my Door, he liked the concept and wrote “What the Network Wants” relatively quickly.
As for new talent, Ronder Scott, Melanie Williams, Rosie Maureen, and Natasha Cage all had limited publishing experience but their stories show no signs of inexperience. The hardest part about working with a newer writer is getting beyond any hang-ups they may have as far as an editor requesting changes to their work, but every one of these women kept an open mind until we had stories they could live with as writers, and I could accept as a publisher putting together an anthology.
In all honesty, I feel this is the best group of writers I have every worked with on an anthology. I’m very proud of the job everyone did and the professionalism they all showed throughout every stage of the project.
What prompted the changeover from the magazine to standalone anthologies? Was it a personal decision or was it something brought on by a shift in the industry?
It was simply a financial decision. Strange, Weird, and Wonderful was a free ezine, our payments to writers and artists weren’t being covered by the minimal advertising we were generating so Sharon Black and I made the decision to start SWW Publishing. Two years later I wanted to do a few projects that didn’t quite fit under the SWW umbrella, and Sharon had a few things she wanted to work on, so we parted ways, and shortly after that, Black Books Publishing Inc. was born.
The more I think about it, it was publications like SWW that helped put our industry in the financial pit it can’t seem to get out of. Readers have come to expect their stories for free and their novels for 99 cents. We created that monster, and now small publishers and self-publishers don’t know how to fix it. I’ve seen publishers give away thousands of copies in a given advertising campaign and never recoup those sales through actual purchases.
We are the only form of entertainment battling this issue and I think publishers should band together and agree to certain standards when it comes to pricing, and giveaways. If we could guarantee a high quality standard for our work, I think readers would embrace it.
What is the long term vision for Black Books Publishing? The website indicates a couple of exciting imprints coming in the near future.
Long term, I would like to amass a library of books that are well written and entertaining. I’m being picky on purpose, with the titles I publish and there’s a reason you haven’t seen a novel from us yet. The saying, about 1st impressions is true. I don’t know if we’ll ever be a prolific publishing company, but I do know each book published will be the best we could accomplish at that time.
This is defiantly a marathon for us, not a sprint.
When you recall what you had in mind for Illuminati at My Door and considering the finished book, how close did you come to hitting your expectations for the collection?
I think its spot on! I wanted strong writing, good stories, and no “last honest man, looking over his shoulder while trying to get to the truth,” kind of stories. Again, I think this is the best anthology I have ever put together.
Yes, I hope the next one is even better, but this is my best work as an editor and selector of stories to date.
Give us some short one-sentence teasers to some of the stories contained within Illuminati at My Door.
I would rather just tell you each story is based on an actual secret society rumor. Most have been around for years, others have not, but each is based on something that’s already floating around out there. Readers who follow those rumors will easily recognize where the ideas came from and those who don’t follow them will simply be entertained.