Tomorrow Comes Media has arranged for an intense week of blog posts in support of my new release Virtual Blue, with contests and reviews, plus several guest blogs from me: new interviews, in-depth thoughts about writing, insight into the creative process and lots of observations about my characters and stories.
We have an exciting week ahead, so how appropriate that the tour straddles Halloween! Check back frequently for new links as they go live. Fans of Blue and Rebecca Burton will find much to love here this week, and we should snag plenty of new readers as well. Check out the full schedule here and don’t be shy about telling everyone you know!
We’ll also hold an all-day raffle at our canopy for a “Spooky Book Bag” of our work–$1 per ticket gets you one chance to win a set of books valued at over $60 without signatures–and the authors will sign and personalize each book on request.
This way, you can personalize a book for every horror reader on your gift list–or have all the books signed to you and keep them–we won’t tell.
To enter, find the Horror Authors Canopy. Raffle tickets are $1 each. Enter as often as you like. For each ticket you buy, we need your name and phone number (preferably a cell phone number you will be carrying with you at 5:30 that day, the time of the drawing) on the half you leave in the raffle.
Everyone who participates in the writer workshops earns one free ticket for the raffle. Children must have the ticket filled out by a parent.
100% of all proceeds go to MAP.
We’ll draw the winner following the 4 p.m. workshop, so some time after 5 p.m.
All tickets will be discarded responsibly. Tickets are to contact the winner. The rest will be destroyed.
Books will be “flat signed” unless the winner requests personalization. This will allow the authors to personalize books intended as gifts.
Parents take note: The books in the raffle and at the vendor tent contain adult content. We’ll do our best to sell responsibly, but we’re not going to card, nor will we judge what you let your kid read.
The Spooky Book Bag in detail. Links take you to the Amazon page:
I’m very excited to announce an upcoming event taking place in my local community during the Arts in the Park festival at Pioneer Park Saturday, October 12, 2013. Several loccal local peer authors are joining me to serve as instructors during a series of free community workshops on crafting thrilling fiction. You’ll find us among dozens of community artists and performers who will sing, dance, and display their unique creations during the all-day festival. The event is free and open to the public.
We’re planning three one-hour sessions, aimed at, but not limited to, late elementary school through high school aged-writers-in-the-making. Adults who have recently caught the writing bug or who have put off their aspirations are also welcome. If you are interested in getting feedback from a professional author at no cost to you, you need to be here—don’t let the word “horror” scare you! We have an instructor to advise any beginner with a passion for writing thrilling tales of any genre.
The suggested format will be “flash fiction,” and the suggested theme will be “The Creature of Pioneer Park,” though writers are free to compose within their comfort zone. Writers can use the pens and paper provided, bring their own, or bring their laptops. Participants will spend the first half hour composing their work. During the last half hour, the authors will review the drafts and offer individualized instruction on how to best sharpen their writing skills. Writers may, alternatively, submit a pre-composed sample of their work for a critique (limit 1000 words).
The authors will strive to pair you with an instructor that best fits your style, and you will receive individualized instruction on your submission.
What is Flash Fiction? The unique challenge of flash fiction is to compose a “complete” story of roughly 1000 words. With fiction coming to readers on their pads, cell phones and reading devices, flash fiction has grown in popularity in recent years. It’s also ideal for a workshop. Not up the challenge? Don’t worry–writers may instead compose part of a larger story for review. To respect everyone’s time, instructors reserve the right to limit their review to roughly 1000 words per writer.
The Arts in the Park is an all-day event. The Artists’ Shelter will offer books by the instructors, who will be happy to sign and personalize every purchase. The free workshop sessions are courtesy of the Mooresville Arts Partnership, a non-profit organization that provides instruction in dance, tumble, visual arts, music, and drama to children and adults in the greater Mooresville area. Learn more at the MAP Website.
John F. Allen is an American speculative fiction author of Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Paranormal Mystery. He resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and two children. The God Killers, an urban fantasy, is his debut novel.
Matthew Barron spends his days mixing and analyzing human blood as a medical technologist in Indianapolis Indiana. His writing ranges from children’s books and short comics to robot erotica. His books The Lonely Princess and Secular City Limits are available now, and his short fiction has appeared in House of Horror, The Welcome to Indiana Comic Anthology, and the Roboterotica anthology.
Nicole Cushing is an author of weird, dark fiction. Her debut novella, Children of No One, received praise from several prominent genre outlets (Famous Monsters of Filmland wrote: “If you read one debut this year, this should be the one you read.”) Forthcoming books include The Choir of Beasts and The New God.
Crystal Leflar is a blogger book reviewer, previously with Fantasy magazine and Afterthoughts.com, now for Horror Novel Reviews. She’s a promotion specialist and slush reader for Nightscape Press. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies and she has several projects in the works.
R.J. Sullivan (you’re on his website!) writes paranormal thrillers and is expanding into science fiction. He is known locally as the story editor for the Morgan County Business Leader and as business writer “Copybob.” His books include Haunting Obsession, Haunting Blue, and Virtual Blue. His short fiction has appeared in the acclaimed anthologies Dark Faith Invocations and Vampires Don’t Sparkle.
This year marks my fourth consecutive year attending Context, each one a special memory for me. I attended my first Context in 2010, a newly signed author with Haunting Blue still a few months off from becoming a reality. I met up with fabulous author and Haunting Blue artist Ash Roland (this link takes you to her art gallery, in her guise as Ash Arceneaux) and had my first-ever conversation with Michael West.
In 2011, I spent a lot of time with Stephen Zimmer from Seventh Star Press, the year which led to the legend of the Shagin’ Wagon–I’ll let him explain–and which led in a very serious way to my deciding who I wanted to handle my next several stories. By 2012, it was like coming home to big family reunion. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store.
This year, I’m taking my first workshops ever, both the amazing Gary A. Braunbeck, who will be challenged to see what he can do with me. I’m looking forward to it, though I’m not not sure if he feels the same way. 🙂
The full RJ-schedule:
6-8:pm–Wright Room: (Workshop) Self-Editing and Diagnostics (As a student)
So over the weekend I opened the two-story lounge where I will be hosting a big party over the next couple of weeks.
No, I didn’t rent a ballroom. There, obvious joke over.
Two of my stories are going live within a few days of each other and I’m super-stoked. The release dates are extremely fluid because Seventh Star is a sort of crunch mode after some unavoidable delays earlier this summer, and both of my books post Very Soon Now. We just don’t know….exactly when. So I said “what the heck” and decided to host an interactive party on Facebook.
Okay, it’s more like a virtual lounge. In fact, that’s what I call it, the R.J. Sullivan Two-Story Release Party Lounge. I’m so clever. Essentially it’s a temporary public group on Facebook where fans, friends and peers can drop in and out and see the latest news, play some trivia, and I’ll raffle for all sorts of prizes, thanks to my author buds.
Plus–its primary purpose–to make it easy for you to track the release of my new science fiction Singles novelette, the Fate of the Red Lotus, due out mid week. And of course, capping off with the long-anticipated follow-up in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer–Virtual Blue! We’ll have excerpts and art reveals before it goes live.
And with the convenience of being in a group, the update posts won’t scroll several pages off your feed in a couple of hours. So even if you can only check in once a day, you won’t miss any updates.
Oh no, you’re thinking, I can’t bear to hear RJ talk about himself for days and days. To which I say–FREE stuff! You love to read, don’t you? (Yes, RJ, why else would we be here, duh!) So I’ve asked several of my talented and generous author buds to help make it worth your while to stick around, including Eric Garrison,John F. Allen, Chantel Noordeloos, Debra Holland, Kat French, and James W. Kirk, and that’s just the folks I reached out to on short notice.
The list is growing. We’ll have lots of ebook giveaways–mainly because ebooks are so easy to handle in something like this, but don’t be surprised if some “actual” things may need to be boxed and mailed before it’s over. Wow, I have a way with words.
So why are you still reading this? The party’s already started and going on without you. Click here already!
What: The 7th Annual Paranormal Meet n Greet When: Saturday, August 10, Noon- 4 PM Where: The Historic Haunted Hannah House, 3801 Madison Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46227 How Much: This event is 100% FREE! FREE for vendors and FREE for patrons! No registration required! Just show up!
Did we mention it’s free?
The 7th Annual Paranormal Meet n Greet is like an art festival across the lawn of a haunted house. Scratch that, it IS an art festival across the lawn of a haunted house. The event is set up primarily for local and regional ghost investigation groups to meet, network, exchange information, trade stories and otherwise hang out. Click here to join the Facebook event.
There will also be vendors of all sorts, and this will be the third annual appearance by the Indiana Horror Writers, with our huge selection of ghostly and ghastly tales to tempt you. I’ve been privileged to attend all three years of the IHW’s involvement with this, first as a new author promoting my first-ever novel, and now returning on the eve of my third book.
Last year it was the debut event of Haunting Obsession. And although I won’t be debuting anything new this year, I’ll [plenty of copies on-hand at the Indiana Horror Writer’s table, where we’ll have a LOT of new releases on tap between us.
Michael West will have a wide selection, including the just re-released Wide Game and the popular anthology Vampires Don’t Sparkle.
Eric Garrison is bringing the new edition of Four ’til Late, the first of his road ghosts trilogy.
John F. Allen makes his first appearance to this event as a published author with his urban fantasy The God Killers.
Crystal Leflar is bringing her own stories of horror and the supernatural as well as a variety of selections from Nighscape Press.
Kathy Watness is bringing a wide selection of anthologies that cover a range of the strange and fantastic.
Whether you prefer your scares ghostly or ghastly, you’ll find much to love at the Indiana Horror Writers tent. Hope to see you there!
The Hannah House is located at 3801 Madison Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46227. It can easily be reached from 465 by exiting on the US31 North exit, also known as East Street. The third light down is National Ave – go right. The very next light is Madison Ave. The house sits on the corner of this intersection.
But that’s not a lot, and the wait has been long, but I hope well worth it. In early 2013, with deadline approaching and a long way to go, I took a few month writing sabbatical (not entirely, but mostly) to finish Virtual Blue, the second book in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer. Add to that, some unavoidable delays that are the reality of small press publishing, we were pushed back probably another month. And so, without yet committing to a release date, I can announce with confidence that Virtual Blue is coming out next month.
The story picks up with Chip and Blue two years after the events of Haunting Blue, carrying on an uneasy long distance relationship as they attend colleges in different parts of the country. For reasons obvious at the end of Haunting Blue, things are not going well for them. Things are so bad, that Blue arranges to fly back to Indiana to break up with Chip over Thanksgiving break. She thinks she’s in for a miserable weekend, and she’ right–but she doesn’t know the half of it.
“Hell Just Went Digital.” That’s the tagline and hints of things to come. The many people who loved Rebecca Burton, my paranormal investigator from Haunting Obsession, will be happy to know she will play a big part in the next installment, and I include a few other surprises and characters from other Seventh Star authors.
At 90,000 words, Virtual Blue is my most ambitious project (certainly my longest). There’s ghosts. Also demons. And psychopaths. And warriors. And sorcerers. And swordfights. There’s a bathroom sink, but in retrospect, I should have made it a kitchen sink.
If you enjoyed Haunting Blue and the relationship between Blue Shaefer and Chip, you will find much to love here. That said, by design and based on pre-reader feedback, you don’t need to have read the first book to enjoy the second (more on that below).
Virtual Blue will not be out in time for the Paranormal Meet n Greet. It’s a choice between rushing production or taking the time to make it right. Seventh Star has been supportive times a million. Hyperbole aside, I took extra time with this. I wanted to make this the best effort I could. It’s what my readers deserve, and what you’ll always get. It just might not always be as fast as I’d like it.
So all that said….after I turned in Virtual Blue, I had some time on my hands, as well as a desire to stretch my genre muscles and to explore strange new worlds, so to speak. So I started messing around with a sci-fi spaceship idea I’d had for awhile, and before I knew it, I’d drafted The Fate of the Red Lotus, the first of a series of space opera novelettes. I grew up reading the spaceship fiction of Andre Norton, Elizabeth Moon, and of course, watching certain tales on TV created by Gene Roddenberry, and finally put my own slant on the classic genre. The first Red Lotus story will hit later this fall, as a Seventh Star Single, and if you love it as much as my pre-readers, we might see a new series before too long.
But wait, there’s more! As the year wraps up, Seventh Star is scheduling a re-printed, authorized version of Haunting Blue, the first book in the Adventures of Blue Shaefer, featuring a new cover and interior art by Series Illustrator Bonnie Wasson, giving my three novels a unified series look for the first time ever.
So this year, FandomFest in Louisville, KY, has, among other superstar guests, William Shatner, Stan Lee, Gillian Anderson, Colin Baker, Gene Simmons, some Walking Dead people, and others along those same lines.
Not that you care about that. You’re showing up to stalk me. It okay. I feel ya’, and I got ya’ covered.
I’ll be at the Seventh Star Table with…well, Seventh Star Authors, including my TCQ (The Corvus Quartet–Google Corvus Constellation) buddies, John F. Allen, Eric Garrison and Michael West. TCQ is a foursome of authors and friends who belong to the same publisher and all live in the Indianapolis area. We’ve combined our powers to brainstorm ideas, trade resources and in other ways support each other’s efforts for the greater good of the whole. Or something like that.
In any case, Seventh Star will have a strong presence again this year, and the regional author tract will include a full weekend of panels and opportunities to learn how we authors do our authorly thing so you future authors can figure out how you can become a future author also…but sooner. Or something like that. Yes, I get paid to do this, what’s your point?
When I’m not here, I’ll be at the Seventh Star author’s table hanging out with my TCQ peeps, plus other Seventh Star authors, such as D. A. Adams, Steven Shrewsbury, Selah Janel, and I imagine Ali Justice and Stephen Zimmer will be coming by, too. Okay, I might sneak away to get some food, check out the other awesome authors and publishers, and photo-bomb Stan Lee so it looks like he’s holding a copy of Haunting Obsession (if possible).
Bottom line, it’s going to be a great weekend! Don’t miss it!
Three authors are offering brand-new releases exclusive to this event first! When I say brand-new, I mean you can’t even purchase these books though normal retail or internet outlets for a few more days. I mean the first print run in still the mail to the authors and will get here just in time. Bookmama’s will be the very first place in the galaxy you can buy these books!!
Let’s break down the new stuff.
New voice John F. Allen will be offering the first book of the Ivory Blaque trilogy through Seventh Star, The God Killers, here BEFORE HIS OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH NEXT WEEK, featuring cover and interior art by Enggar Adirasa!
Eric Garrison will release Four ’til Late, the first book of his Ghost Roads Trilogy, with new cover and interior art by Bonnie Wasson!
Michael West is bringing the highly anticipated re-issue of The Wide Game, with new cover and interior art by Matthew Perry!
There will be author readings. And snacks. And temporary tattoos. A good time is guaranteed. Hope to see you there.
A complete listing of books available:
The God Killers by John F. Allen; Blue Spirit*, Four ’til Late, and Reality Check** by Eric Garrison; Haunting Blue*** (Limited copies!) and Haunting Obsession by R.J. Sullivan; Cinema of Shadows, Poseidon’s Children, Spook House, The Wide Game, and Vampires Don’t Sparkle! (Limited copies!) by Michael West.
Books are $15 per title except Haunting Blue, $20.00. All titles are Seventh Star Press releases unless otherwise indicated.
Congratulations to my friend Eric Garrison on his two book publishing deals, one with Hydra Publications for his recently released science fiction dimension hopping thriller, Reality Check. The other for a multi-book deal with Seventh Star Press.
Shorty after Eric and I met, we discovered pretty fast that our writing shares much in common. We decided to embrace the similarities and write in a “shared world.”
So ignore all that, because Reality Check is something else entirely.
Reality Check is Eric’s genre-bending, dimension-hopping science fiction thriller, the first of a planned trilogy. You can meet Eric along with many other awesome authors *koff-koff me too koff-koff* at the That Book Place Book Fair, Saturday, March 16, the first place on the planet where Eric will appear, armed with the paperback of Reality Check.
“When a quantum supercomputer’s ‘reality simulator’ program causes temporary insanity in its beta-testers, Lee Green rolls up his sleeves and dives into a virtual world to debug the problem. Only he discovers that place is more real than anyone imagined.
He finds alternate versions of his friends in that mad science reality, their lives and relationships very different from those in the ‘real’ world. Quantum entanglements become romantic entanglements as he meets his love again in each new dimension.
Lee must save these other lives, decide which destiny is truly his, and what he’s willing to sacrifice to get there.”
For those that can’t make it, click here and here to see the book’s Amazon links.
There’s something both classical and yet new to this story. When it comes to science fiction, are you drawn more toward the classics or to the more modern stories? Which authors inspire you, particularly with this work?
I suppose if I had to pick just one of those, I guess I lean toward the classics. Even the modern authors I read, Stephen Baxter, John Varley, Dan Simmons… these guys write about spaceships and exploration and how humans change and still remain human.
Looking at my bookcases for science fiction authors, I see a lot of Asimov, Niven, Simmons, and Gibson. But if I think about the forces that formed Reality Check, I’d have to give credit to Robert Heinlein, Neal Stephenson, and John Varley. Whatever else you may say about Heinlein, he was the master of social science fiction… that “what if” being applied to how people adapt to technology and alien situations. Neal Stephenson, on the other hand, is the master of science fiction at breakneck, breathless pacing. I always strive to keep the momentum in my novels going. John Varley follows in Heinlein’s footsteps in his treatment of individuals and relationships in science fiction, but he’s also amazing at cranking things “up to eleven” in intensity, taking the story through twists and turns that make you afraid to put his books down.
I’m going to give a nod toward Jack Chalker too, since absolutely no one writes body swapping stories like he does. There, I said it, I love Jack Chalker’s novels. We all have to have guilty pleasures, right?
What work would you most directly compare this story to?
That’s a tough one. It’s part Matrix, part Quantum Leap and part Star Trek TOS: Mirror, Mirror. I take a techie geek from our world and put him in alternate worlds, where he finds his own life still intertwined with his friends’ in different ways, despite the changing backdrop and genre.
When you first discussed the concept of this story, what struck me was how difficult, potentially, keeping track of your plot points might be. Yet everything falls into place quite nicely. Discuss the approach you took to keeping the plot from getting away from you.
Without giving too much away, I think the symmetry of the story was what held it together. Sure, three characters across three-and-a-half worlds did get confusing. Those three became nine individuals, but despite local differences, each triplet has great similarity to his or her alternate counterparts. It could have gotten all sorts of crazy, dealing with three main worlds, each with its local crisis, and all those characters’ motivations, but in the end, I told the story in first person for a reason: This is Lee’s story. Seeing it all through his eyes, we follow just his thread through the warp and weave of the novel. Writing it that way, I could concentrate on his wants and feelings and actions, even as everything changed around him, including his own body.
Let me throw a couple of thoughts at you that occurred to me as I read your book, and get your response. Reality Check follows a protagonist, unsure of himself, unhappy with his life, who finds within himself hidden potential as his exterior environment radically shifts. Reality Check may be seen as a study on how our environment directly affects us as a determining factor on how much of our potential we can find within ourselves.
I think this is a valid way to look at a theme in the story. Lee’s in the doldrums in his own life, but when he’s thrown into alternate versions of his life, he meets the challenges he finds there, doing more to fix those lives than than his own. Change is difficult, but it’s being put outside of our comfort zone that makes us grow and shine. Lee could have continued happily enough in his rut, but so could Bilbo have sat at home in his hole. And like Bilbo, Lee makes that first choice to step outside of himself to become so much more than he would have otherwise.
Try this one: A core theme in Reality Check seems to be that some people are destined to be together and will always find each other, no matter their life circumstance or position in life. With each reality shift, Lee continues to have a close relationship with his two best friends, even though the realities have little to nothing to do with each other geographically or, in many ways, the professions and organizations the three of them are associated with. (Dancing around spoilers). Do you embrace this destined viewpoint between individuals as a personal philosophy?
I think the idea of a soulmate is overused. I absolutely do not believe the “romantic” notion that there’s one true person for each of us in this world. I don’t see that concept as romantic, I see it as depressing. Only one person out of billions that really gets you? What if you pick wrong and meet your real soulmate later?
I prefer the idea of kindred spirits, in the sense that some people, you just know right off the bat, like you’ve met them before. Like we’re all just characters in some massively multiplayer online game, and we’ve played other games with the same folks another time. I do think we’re drawn to certain people, and I like to think that would be true no matter what universe.
Just to be contrary, I’ll relate that Reality Check doesn’t actually imply this. One of the Dionnes comes out and says that the only way the reality hopping works for Lee is because he’s swapping with people in other universes enough like him to be essentially who he is, despite all other factors. She goes on to say that the reason he’s surrounded by his closest friends, even in other universes, is because he can’t be who he is without those people as a part of his life.
But it’s really just a chicken-and-egg sort of thing. Can they travel between dimensions only because they are together, or would they be together in any universe? They’re simply not the same people without each other, so it doesn’t matter which is the real reason. We are who we are, in part, by who we choose as friends.
This is your fifth completed novel and your first venture into science fiction. Discuss your journey as a writer. Is this a novel you could have written at any point in that journey or did you have to build up to it? Why did you feel that now was the right time?
I wrote Reality Check for two main reasons. One, I had this idea, in some raw form, rattling around in my head for many years beforehand. It’s been sitting in my “Story Ideas” file in Google Docs all this time. It was going to be a short story, originally, but I couldn’t think of a plot to go with the concept that would fit that format. Two, I’d written four urban fantasy novels already, one trilogy and one spin-off, and I felt I wanted to stretch myself by writing all new characters and a different genre.
I really don’t think I could have written this as my first novel. It was a huge challenge. I quit writing it out of frustration halfway through the first draft. I did, I quit, I shouted I was done with it. I felt overwhelmed, and I wasn’t sure how I wanted to end it. But some good friends told me the idea was too compelling to abandon, that I had to finish it. With that external motivation, I sat my butt down and redid the outline, in greater detail, and finished a rough draft. Which I got feedback on; I was right, the ending wasn’t very satisfying. So I made it a sort of false ending and kicked the plot back into gear toward a new goal, which ended up rewriting and expanding it quite a bit. Even that ending wasn’t quite satisfying, so I tweaked it until I was satisfied and added an Epilogue so the ending didn’t come to such an abrupt halt.
There’s no way I would have had the discipline and drive to retool, rewrite and polish this book before the time I wrote it. It took having the other four books under my belt to have the confidence to finish what I started, with a little help from my friends, and the patience that came with the experience I gained over time.
Because “it’s complicated,” can you discuss what’s coming up from Eric Garrison?
It really is complicated! Toward the end of last year, I had a choice of working on a sequel to my urban fantasy spin-off, Blue Spirit (which I’ve already started), or following up on the adventures of Lee, Dionne and Cecil with a Reality Check sequel. Mean Spirit or Sanity Check. But a few things happened. First, Reality Check got picked up by Hydra Publications, which meant spending quality time with an editor (shout out to Martha Swanson!) to further refine that work. Then, I pitched my self-published Road Ghosts trilogy to Seventh Star Press, and they’ve decided to pick it up and publish it, along with Blue Spirit, as part of a six book deal.
So, my first novel, Four ’til Late, will be my next novel to come out in late spring or early summer of 2013. It will be followed by Sinking Down, the second book in the trilogy in mid to late summer. Blue Spirit will come out right on that book’s heels, for complicated reasons… mainly so that it doesn’t have to stay out of print as long, but partly because its protagonist, Skye, is introduced in Sinking Down and doesn’t have a role in the third book in the Road Ghosts trilogy.
So that means I will be working on a sequel to Blue Spirit in order to have it come out by the end of the year or early next year. But I think it won’t be Mean Spirit; I’ve decided more has to happen between those two books, so my working title for Skye’s next adventure is Restless Spirit.