This Sat, Nov 5, Karen’s Book Barn in LaGrange, KY, (click the link for address, etc) is hosting a multi-author book signing, conveniently scheduled to help readers get a head start on their holiday shopping. We’ll all be there on site from 11 am-4 pm. Besides yours truly, many of my favorite author peeps will there, with our full array of titles that cover a spectrum of genres, including romance, ghost stories, superheroes, urban fantasy, steampunk, adventure, children’s, YA, science fiction, fairy tale, horror, fantasy, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Suffice it to say, you have a great chance of finding exactly what you’re looking for and getting it signed and personalized to that special someone (even if that special someone is you…that’s okay, we won’t tell).
Meet The Authors! (click on the name to see their online book catalog)
John F. Allen brings his unique voice to his Ivoryverse books populated with superhero, urban fantasy and Spy-fi fiction tales. Among my favorite titles: The GodKillers and his Knight Ranger series.
Katina French writes stellar science fiction, fantasy and a unique mashup of steampunk fairy tales that I love.
Chris Garrison‘s books come in many favorite flavors, including dimension-hopping SF, Trans-Continental Steampunk pulp-style adventures, and her popular Tipsy Fairy Tales series.
Maurice McKiernan will offer his first horror short story collection Manuscripts of the Macabre in hardback and softcover editions (yes, I still need to read it, can’t you tell?)
Mysti Parker offers an array of romance titles and children’s books and another author whose writing I need to get better acquainted with.
Indiana Comic Con was a great weekend for me, and for us, my partners in vending, John F. Allen, Chris Garrison, and Frank Smith III. We all moved a lot of books. The costumes were thrilling, the conversations stimulating and nonstop, the interest in what we were all about gratifying.
I wanted to get a Wonder Woman comic signed by George Perez, and could not. I blame a lack of coordination between the organizers and the talent that resulted in a line of fans that out-extended that of the Hollywood actors and a support staff that had no idea how to corral them. So with regret, I stepped out of that line and that was disappointing, but not enough to throw off the weekend as a whole. As a result of the crowds, activity, and the overall super-stimulation of the event, I did not return Sunday. it was me, not them. You can see all my photos here.
While I was gone, Commanding the Red Lotus continued to upload, and the ebook and paperback formats are now mostly up and available. I have also added it to my Buy Signed Books from RJ tab. Sales continue to be steady since the launch, and I’m very happy to be sharing this book, one very close to my heart. You can see the dedicated ordering page here.
Next up on my convention tour is Inconjunction on the east side of Indianapolis.
The paperback will be available in a matter of days, but if you have big plans to go to Indiana Comic Con this weekend, I’ll have the first paperback copies of Commanding the Red Lotus available anywhere, which can be signed by me, along with all my books. I brought plenty, but “selection is limited.” I mean, you never know, right? And signatures are always, always free and worth every penny you pay.
I’m very excited to announce that my first novel-length science fiction novel Commanding the Red Lotus has been finalized and scheduled by Seventh Star Press to go live over various formats next week.
Money Can’t Buy Respect
Sayuri Arai, privileged daughter of a corporate mogul, abandons a promising career to find her own path. She invests in a broken-down asteroid mining ship and steps in as the commander of its crew. Every day presents a new challenge just to keep her ship from falling apart and the bitter crew from killing each other. Can Sayuri unite the feuding factions, or will her rivals turn the entire complement against her? Commanding the Red Lotus offers a classic sense of wonder for today’s science fiction readers.
Imaginarium 2015 at Crown Plaza Hotel in Louisville, KY called a wrap on its second year this past weekend, and in a nutshell, the event is going in the right direction. It strives to be a full experience reader-writer weekend seminar and offer guests an array of lessons and memories (not to mention reading material), and in that goal, the organizers pushed forward in several ways.
More attendance (check). More book sales (check). More panels on more topics with higher participation (check-check-check). More publisher and author interactions (check-check). I personally had a panel Friday night that kept me from attending two other events that looked very cool, but that’s what ya’ call a good problem.
What didn’t change was the interactions between authors and the conversations and opportunities to network. People I had met briefly the first year I got to know better in year two. The seeds of future collaborations and business followups were planted and will continue throughout the year. And I met some new readers. What more can one ask for?
I met author peeps John F. Allen and Chris Garrison for breakfast, carpooled with John Friday morning, and we met back up a bit after noon which gave us plenty of time to eat and set up before the vendor room opened at 4. (The hotel burger rocks–I had it again on Saturday). I sold a copy of Haunting Blue to a new reader (more on this later). My evening panel on comic books and the silver screen had a small but enthusiastic group, and we discussed the topic from many angles in that hour.
Then there was hard rock bands in the ballroom Friday night and an active room party hosted by Elizabeth Donald where many of the writers hobnobbed.
Saturday was a very busy day. The vendor hall was pretty hustle-bustle for awhile, and in my area we all moved a few books, met some readers, and had some great times. The noon panel on Space Opera was pretty packed. If there is any question if people are excited about the genre making a comeback, the excitement in the room put it to rest for me. Kat French did a great job moderating and keeping the panel on track. (sidebar, read her Belle Starr Books, they rock, yes this is a link to order them, now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)
Saturday evening in the ballroom down the hall was, I think, a 40 year high school reunion, so since the vendor hall was open to the public, several of them came over to find out what was going on, and more books were sold. (Much later, author peep Jessica McHugh and I happened to be walking by the ballroom at the same moment while an “in memory of” slideshow was playing to the music of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel. We were at the same time torn between tears and an inappropriate giggle fit while ours heads were conflicted over the loss of people we never met, not to mention dogs and cats because of unofortunate connections)
My 9 pm panel on writing as series, although scheduled during the awards banquet, was very well attended by another enthusiastic crowd. I was slotted to moderate, not the easiest thing two days into a convention but it all turned out just fine. The masquerade started at 10:30 pm and I spent the evening going back and forth between that and the room party, night two. Some great costumes were out on display.
The workshop taught by Michael Knost was slotted for 1:30 in which he discussed the various ways and reasons that a writer can and should stay “invisible” to the reader, including, yes, using a chicken hat to demonstrate deep third point of view.
Oh, and about the woman who bought Haunting Blue Friday night? She returned to my booth Sunday morning to say how much she enjoyed it and purchased Haunting Obsession. What author doesn’t love that?
Overall, Imaginarium is growing in all the right ways and is the place where we should all plan to be next year. Everyone involved in the planning and execution can take a big bow (and a couple day nap) for their accomplishments. Already looking forward to next year!
I have a couple of exciting events next weekend, so let’s get right to it.
First, I’m excited about the return of the Paranormal Meet n Greet at the Historic Hannah House on Indy’s south side, back again after a year’s hiatus. I always have a good time here, but the 2012 event where I launched Haunting Obsession was a special time.
This year I’ll be part of the SFG Guild vendor table with John F. Allen, E. Chris Garrison, and Laura Terhune, offering a wide array of ghost story, horror, urban fantasy, and paranormal thriller books. The event runs Noon-4 and is completely free and open to the public. Here’s more info from the event page:
Saturday August 8th 2015
Noon-4 pm Historic Hannah House, 3801 Madison Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46227. It can easily be reached from 465 by exiting US31 North, AKA East Street. The third light down is National Ave – go right. The next light is Madison Ave. The house sits on the corner of this intersection.
“Backstage Pass is, on one hand, a deeply personal story. Released as a “Seventh Star Single” (a 99 cent short story you can still order here, though buying the collection is a much better deal) just a few weeks before Haunting Obsession in 2012, the story was inspired by my encounters through the years steeped in pop music fandom. I tried to channel the general friendliness and surrealism of that group, some of the wacky personalities one can encounter whenever the obsessed gather together to…well…obsess together.
Although I call this a personal story, the tale is full of inaccuracies, exaggerations, and outright lies. The protagonist writes for Rolling Stone, lives in New York, and is part of the publicity staff of the object of his admiration (a southern rock belle named “Fiddle Dee-Dee”).
It was a challenge to capture the tone of these escapades and use those episodes in a sci-fi tale, and I even included cameos of real people by name in what I hope they find flattering representations (“Mary Kay,” whom I told you about in my Fade excerpt, appears in this excerpt) but the story is pure fiction beyond the general truth that people can get lost in their hobbies and obsessions.
However….that said….I thought, for this excerpt, I’d pick the moment from the story that happened very much as depicted (and recalled as best that I could). Though still fictionalized, much of this scene really did happen, with minimal fictionalization to hide the name and identity of the guilty party. I suppose “Tony Stoker” may one day want to speak to me, but probably not. The lesson remains true–don’t act “cray-cray” around a fiction writer. We just can’t help ourselves.
The Setup: In the hours following the brutal murder of pop star “Fiddle Dee-Dee,” avid fan Jared Price discovers, to his horror, that he’d actually met and interacted with her murderer months before. As the realization hits him, Jared flashes back to…
Ten months earlier—Chicago, October 29, 2010
Jared stood near his friends, Mary Kay, Jamie, Rick and Michelle, still seated at the table where they’d viewed the track-by-track live performance, essentially loitering in the club after Dee’s jazz album release party. While Dee handled the official press backstage―such as it was―they waited for the coast to clear to hold a private meet n’ greet with Dee.
Tony Stoker (dubbed by Dee’s fans as “Stoker the Stalker”) also waited, his camera with its telescopic lens hung from one shoulder while he cradled a huge scrapbook against his chest. His gaze darted to their table, around the room, and back again. Tony frequented the newsgroups, so he knew their names. And he knew they had special access.
But they knew his name, too. And they knew he didn’t have special access. At this stage in her career, Dee often showed her few devoted fans incredible consideration, but if she bothered to keep a blacklist, Tony Stoker’s name would occupy the top slot.
Jared knew Tony Stoker by name, but not on sight. As they shook hands, Tony exclaimed, “Oh, you’re Jared Price! I’m Tony Stoker. You’ve been doing her website, right?”
Jared broke eye contact and stared into his drink. Damn! Now what? “Dee … Fiddle Dee-Dee … is just one of my clients. I write a syndicated music column. Recently, Rolling Stone and Billboard invited me to submit some reviews.” He braced for Tony’s next question.
Tony didn’t disappoint. “So … you guys going to meet with her tonight?”
“Nope, definitely not,” Jared answered, hoping he didn’t sound as much a liar as he suspected.
Tony’s arm fell across the back of Jared’s shoulders. “Buddy, can I tell you something?”
Jared flinched at the man’s piercing, brown-eyed stare―the look of someone who operated on a different plane from the rest of the world. “I think Dee-Dee is a goddess,” he oozed. “Her voice has the power to heal, to hurt, to affect our world. Maybe that’s intense, but that’s how I feel.”
Unfamiliar with how to handle whack jobs, Jared hoped understatement was the proper way to go. “Yeah, uh, that comes off a bit intense.”
Stoker the Stalker thrust the scrapbook at him. “I’m a professional photographer, but this book is just my Fiddle-Dee-Dee shots.”
Opening to a random page, Jared saw eight consecutive shots of Dee on stage, virtually an identical pose, taken rapid-shot. Why display so many shots of the same moment? Because he’s a whack job. Still, can I really judge another’s level of fanaticism?
Jared flipped the page. “Here’s one of her coming out of her hotel in Wisconsin last year. I waited in the lobby for six hours.” His finger dropped to a photo of Dee, a large canvas hat over her head and dark glasses hiding her eyes. Tony caught her mouth open in a frozen snarl aimed at the cringing blonde next to her. Lisa.
Jared knew about the fight, but few others did. He wanted to slug the slimy leech.
The Stalker’s voice droned on. “After about four hours, the bellboy asked me if I wanted something to eat. I told him I was fine.…”
“Everything okay here?” His “date,” Mary Kay, wandered over from their table. Though Mary Kay was “very gay,” they play-dated at concerts.
He read the questioning look in her eyes. “Just fine, MK. I was telling Stoker here,” he emphasized the name, “that Dee’s calling it an early night.”
“Yep!” She ran with the lie. “We were talking about hitting a dance club. Chicago’s got a wicked night life, and we wanted to do something positively sinful.” She flashed a mischievous smile.
Jared took her hand. “I like how you think. But first, I need to find the restroom.” He turned toward Stoker, who looked miserable. “Want to go clubbing?”
“No … I don’t think so. Maybe I’ll hang out for a few more minutes.”
“Suit yourself.” He headed for the Men’s Room.
Once alone, he pulled out his phone, found the D. Pat Cell entry and hit Talk. He kept Fiddle Dee-Dee’s name entered under an abbreviation of her little-known birth name, Deana Patterson. Last thing he needed was to lose his phone and for someone to find her name and number.
“Hello?” A familiar southern drawl.
“Dee? It’s Jared. Sorry to bother you.” He always apologized. Fiddle Dee-Dee deserved the proper respect. “We’re down here, but a guy named Tony Stoker latched onto us. He’s not taking the hint. Tony is―”
“The creepy photo guy?”
“Uh … yeah. Should I tell him we’re meeting later?”
He heard her sigh. “Shit, no! I don’t need to deal with him tonight. Look, I’m almost done with the reporters. I’ll send the bouncer down. He’ll pretend to kick everyone out. You wait behind, and after Stalker-man leaves, the bouncer will escort you upstairs. The bouncer’s name is Lenny. He knows your name. I told him he can trust you to point out who’s in our group.”
She trusts me. A childish flush flowed over him. “Sounds good.”
The ploy worked.
So just before I more-or-less vanished from social media for my annual holiday break, my good friend Chris Garrison issued a challenge on my Facebook page of Rebecca as the Mermaid Mug (yes, it’s a real product with art by Nell Williams, and you can order them from the RJ Store here) challenging me to write the story behind the picture.
The moment I saw the picture, the entire story came immediately to mind, and I knew exactly what would happen and who exactly was the cause of putting my series protagonist Rebecca Burton in such an awkward situation. I even knew how to tie it into Backstage Pass and several of my expanded marketing blog pieces.
Over the holidays, I received a generous gift from my family, a new tablet which I am equipping to be a catch-all device, including a writing station easy to carry at meetings, conventions and festivals. I am waiting on the keyboard to arrive in the mail, but as soon as it does, I will “christen” the tablet with the new flash fiction that tells this story. As the keyboard is en route, you can expect the story to post early next week.