Here’s a little something to help you plan ahead for Monday, Dec. 1, when Haunting Blue goes on sale for one day only. If you already know it and love it, make sure to tell your friends. As most of you know, this is the first book of the series, so “hook”ing new readers with this one is what it’s all about. (Yes, I went there.)
Yep, I made a new video. I learned the limitations of the program and took on something less ambitious. My first project, the book trailer for Gifts of the Magi, took a day and a half. This one took half an hour. Progress! That means there may be more of them.
For those who follow me on Facebook and social media, you know that my R.J. Sullivan page features a sort of mascot with some regularity. It started off as a one-post joke that drew such positive attention that I made it a regular thing.
I am not a morning person, so paired with that, is the fairly standard need to write in the mornings which leads to the also standard need for morning coffee and lots of it. Among our eclectic collection of mugs is one of The Little Mermaid, with images of Ariel from the Disney movie. I believe it was a lark gift, but since I am a fan, I worked into the collection. So as social media allows, I took a photo and posted something along the lines of “real men aren’t afraid to drink from Little Mermaid mugs.” The string of comments that followed told me I was onto something, so I made a comment whenever the mug came up in the rotation.
Soon the mug developed a sort of cult following among my readers, with requests to bring the talisman to conventions, speculation of the magical powers it must have, and more.
Thus is the origin of the Legend of the Magical Mermaid Mug.
It was an honest accident. While I ran an errand outside the house, Mrs. RJ accidentally elbowed the mug, which resulted in a fatal fall. I came home to the bad news, took a photo of the remains, and posted them for the mourning to begin. Comparisons to a certain leg lamp in a certain holiday tale were inevitable and amusing. Posts of shock and horror echoed on the social media sphere for days (well, maybe only in my head).
Even as I was preparing a virtual funeral for the beloved mug. a miracle occurred. Well, okay, hardly a miracle, but kidding aside, a really cool thing happened.
A Facebook follower and fan of the Magical Mug by the name of Michael James Oetting took the time to examine the photos of the mythical Mermaid Mug, and search ebay until he found an exact duplicate (shiny white, without the wear and tear). He purchased the mug and had it shipped to my address.
He can expect some very nice autographed things coming his way in the near future.
In any case, what started out as a wake has turned into a dedication ceremony, as this Friday, we put Magical Mermaid Mug II to full active duty, brewing the potent broth of magical muse-coffee that keeps me composing (or something). To make the most of it (like I haven’t already) we’re throwing a virtual party, and you’re all invited.
So Friday, noon to 6 pm, We’re giving away FREE ebooks all day, awesome titles donated by my talented author peeps. Unlike most contests, you can’t just raffle your way to a win, you need to know your Little Mermaid. We’re playing Little Mermaid Trivia all afternoon. All questions and answers will be pulled from the Disney classic. I rewatched the DVD last night and think I’ve come up with some stumpers, so KNOW YOUR LITTLE MERMAID.
Here, re-posted for your consideration, is a writing exercise I composed this morning in one of my writer’s groups. A bit of metafiction whimsey and proof that while Haunting Obsession has been out for several months, Maxine isn’t done haunting me yet. (Yes, at the mentioned moment, two men stood just outside our open conference room door and proceeded to have a conversation.)
I stared at the laptop screen; the blank white surface stared back, screaming intimidation.
I glanced at the clock, mulling over the exercise, thinking, Wow, Steve, that’s a bit of a tall order. An evocative scene, using all five senses, simple words, and you want us to read it at the end of the hour? Really?
Behind me, I felt her lean against my shoulders, her breathy whisper in my ear sending a responsive shiver down my spine. “So, what’cha doing R.J.?”
I turned and looked behind me. There was Maxine Marie, the glamorous Hollywood ghost, the late great shapely gorgeous blonde, grinning for me and only me.
Still, I didn’t appreciate the timing. “Maxine, what are you doing here…now?”
Her bottom lip protruded, and she looked down at her feet. “Oh, look at Mister Serious Author, turning all grumpy-puss. As if I have any control over when I enter your mind.”
She turned and sat on the table, seated on her shapely bottom between myself and the new woman. Her body phased right through the chair, as ghosts tend to do.
It was fine, I could still see through her to the end of the room. A hint of vanilla lavender perfume drifted toward me. (Vanilla lavender? Sure, why not.)
“So,” said Maxine into the air, her nails tap-tap-tapping a quick rhythm on the tabletop. “You’re supposed to write to the five senses. What can we write about?”
I glared down, her nails, still ticking out their rapid tempo, the rhythm rapidly ratcheting on my last nerve. “Would you stop doing that please?”
She looked down, flashed an abashed grin, and folded her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”
“So how many have we covered?” she asked. I started looking over my draft. “Not sure. I wish those two guys out in the hallway would stop talking so we would concentrate on the assignment.”
Maxine nodded. “No kidding. Hey!” She offered a mischievous grin. “Want me to go out and scare them?”
I considered. I knew I should be filled with alarm, the very idea jolting my body so I could describe all sorts of abnormal sensations for this writing exercise, but my heart just wasn’t in it.
Truthfully, the thought of her walking through the wall, appearing between them while donning thick black glasses, hissing a librarian-like “shhhhh……” and then vanishing into thin air gave me the giggles.
But…I shook my head. “No, better not.”
“Oh, poo. You’re no fun.”
I reached for my blue travel coffee mug and took a sip, the tepid liquid, two hours past its prime, left a bitter aftertaste.
Maxine nodded. “Nicely done, sneaking in the sense of taste.”
I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks!”
I drummed my fingers lightly across the black keys in a repetitive motion, trying to think where else to take this scene.
“Hey, Mister,” she chastised. “Now who’s being annoying?”
I stopped. “Sorry.”
Maxine’s gaze lifted, settling on the clock, which showed quarter ’til.
“Think you have enough?”
“Sure. Thanks, Maxine.”
“Don’t mention it. Talk to you soon, RJ.” And she vanished.
Clutching a bright blue trade paperback book in her hands, the punkish teenage girl steps through the door of the Café Expresso in Broad Ripple and looks around.
Her gaze falls on the willowy young woman already seated and waving a dark green book back at her. Breaking into a grin, Fiona “Blue” Shaefer heads over to the table and shakes hands with Skye MacLeod before taking a seat across from her.
Blue: Hi there, Skye! [Blue points to the Blue Spirit paperback in her hands] Thanks for answering my email.
Skye: How could I refuse? I mean, I get to talk about myself, right? [laughs]
Waitress: What can I get you?
Blue: Medium Mocha, please, extra syrup.
Skye: [nods at her cup on the table] I’m good, thanks.
Blue: [to Skye] So, it’s been so long since I moved away, I wasn’t sure if you still remembered waiting on me all those times at the Starbucks. It’s been almost a year!
Skye: It’s good to see you again, without a counter between us this time. Wow, you’re not a kid anymore, are you?
Blue: N-no… [nods at copy of Haunting Blue in Skye’s hands] I guess you could say I’ve grown up a bit. I’ve been through a lot since the last time I was in ‘The Ripple’. I always think of you at Starbucks, it’s weird to see you here in the Café Expresso.
Skye: Well, I still go to the Broad Ripple Starbucks sometimes, but after they fired me up in Nora, I just kind of prefer independent coffee shops.
Blue: And the coffee you have there…is that…uh…just coffee?
Skye: [rolls her eyes] You know, I’m not always boozing it up, kiddo. Just unleaded coffee today for me! I, uh, kinda had to promise Annabelle I’d cut back. Being a Vampire Noble in the game is awesome, but it doesn’t, like, pay the bills, you know?
Blue: Yeah, I hear you there. So… [looks around the room] If I understood what you wrote, you have a little guardian fairy named Minnie you have to be tipsy to interact with. Is she around now? Or can you tell?
Skye: [shrugs] I see her more without alcohol these days, but she’s also more independent of me, too. I haven’t seen her today. She’s becoming much more her own person. It’s good for her, but kind of sad, since I’d gotten used to always having her around, watching out for me. So, I’m going through two separate types of withdrawal, sort of. Three, really… [sighs] But I have Annabelle and my gamer friends to help me get by.
Blue: Oh, yes, Annabelle. [fans herself with paperback] I read all about you two. Only boy I can attract is the small town computer nerd but you…you land a firefighter. Every girl’s dream. Well…sorta.
Skye: [smiles and sighs] Actually, I adore nerdy guys. Stuart was the biggest nerd. Annabelle… well, she’s a bit like you, kiddo; adorable but a lot tougher than she looks.
[Waitress deposits Blue’s coffee, looks back and forth between Blue and Skye, winks at Blue, and returns to the counter]
Blue: (turning pink) Well, uh, thank you, Skye. And I’m not a prude, but it is a little weird. For months, all you used to talk about was Stuart this and Stuart that. Then he goes off with another woman, so you turn around bring in your own other woman. I’d call that sweet revenge if I thought you did it on purpose.
Skye: Stuart really betrayed me, Blue. He was the love of my life, then he sold me out. Blamed me for the fire in our apartment. Meanwhile, Annabelle saved my life. She was there for me when I’d lost everything. And, well… we can’t help who we fall for, right?
Blue: Don’t I know it? I would never thought I’d fall for a guy who plays Dungeons and Dragons. Speaking of roleplaying, tell me more about the Live Action Roleplaying game you’re into. I never played myself. Never really wanted to, then when I moved to Perionne and of course Chip talked me into it. But that was paper and dice. The live action vampire roleplaying thing seems like a whole other level, with costumes and the improv in character thing. Do players really take staying “in character” as seriously as you say in your book?
Skye: Oh definitely! Some people hate to break character, like, ever. I have a lot of fun with it, it’s good to get to be someone else for a while. And, for most of us, our pretend lives are a lot more glamorous than our actual lives. It’s like living in a story, and some days, you just don’t want the fantasy to end. Which, I know is funny coming from a girl who sees fairies. [laughs]
Blue: So… speaking of Fairies, I guess Indy has its own gnome-like Scottish Fairy who calls himself the “Transit King”? What’s up with that?
Skye: [laughs] I know, right? He’s actually pretty formidable, even if he seems to be a batty little old bum on the surface. He’s older than dirt and claims dominion over the bus system. I wonder if IndyGo knows about him? He’s mostly friendly, though I get the feeling you wouldn’t to tick him off!
Blue: Well, I didn’t see him on the bus on the way up, but then again, I try not to look very closely at the other passengers. It can get you in trouble. Speaking of colorful characters, tell me about this fella Leslie? The huge costume designer guy with the great vampire fashion sense—does he just make people look great for roleplaying vampires or can he work similar miracles for a prom or something?
Skye: [laughs] Oh yes, he’s larger than life! He wouldn’t turn you away, doll, not if I introduced you first. He specializes in costumes, nothing all that durable. But I guess a prom’s all about costumes, isn’t it? So… does this mean prom is close for you? So, I’m guessing you’re going with Chip?
Blue: No, I just meant any kind of party. [trails off] I don’t know, a big costume party would be great about now. Just dress up like someone else and…forget about everything for a few hours. Yeah, that would be nice.