This upcoming weekend marks my fourth year as a local author with InConJunction, a general SF/F con with a long and distinguished history in Indianapolis, and not for nothin’, the first con SF I ever attended waaay back in 199*mumble*.
All of my panels are in Indianapolis Ballroom C
Friday @ 9 PM @ Writing Dialog with Matthew Barron
Saturday @9 AM Small Press Publishing and Writer’s Expectations
Saturday @ 5 PM Building Your Brand: Promoting Your Work on Social Media
Inconjiunction is always a good time. I’m looking forward to seeing many old friends and making many new ones. Inconjunction will also be the first place ever that you can get a signed copy of my brand-new release Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy.
All of my books will be priced to sell,and the more you buy, the more you save.
Fade was directly inspired by an obscure, quirky song by Cyndi Lauper, released on the obscure, quirky album Blue Angel. At the time, the release was difficult to track down (this was the 80s, it’s easy to find now) and I did so only after years of searching. Here is the song posted on YouTube. So inspired, I wrote the story for a college assignment, stuck it in a drawer, and forgot about it for several years.
Advance to 2001. I met one of the most amazing ladies in the universe, by which I mean Mary Kay Woolsey, not Cyndi Lauper, though I met her, too, because of this. MK was battling cancer, and, frankly, a number of shitty circumstances in her life. Several fans banded together to launch an archaic and labor intensive version of what would now be a Kickstarter campaign, about a decade before the platform was in place to make it easy. For my contribution, I partnered with artists Kathy and Roberto Campus and “self-published” Fade to fans as a “gift with purchase” to anyone who donated $25 or more.
By “self-published,” I mean I took a few sheets of paper, folded them in half and stapled the middle. (Hey, free gift with donation, whaddaya want?) Dig that booklet with snazzy Kathy Campus (now Kathy Sweeny) art. In any case, our combined efforts raised $1,600 for MK (Cyndi herself donated some autographed 45 singles because she’s awesome that way) MK recovered and she’s alive, well, and still one of the most amazing ladies in the universe.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the short version. So anyway, back to why you’re here.
The setup: Anna Blue is visiting her parents over Thanksgiving break. She brings the boyfriend home to meet the parents, and is also hiding a recreational drug habit. Said boyfriend Spencer Blake is floundering about being loyal to her or holding an intervention. During a fight about this very issue, Spencer and Anna literally fall into her father’s basement laboratory.
Her eyes opened. “Ohhhh … what happened?” She tried to rise.
Spencer placed a hand on her shoulder, pressing gently. “Wait. Make sure you’re not dizzy.”
“Honestly, I’m all right.”
He helped her to her feet. She smiled and put her arms around his neck.
“My hero,” she murmured. She pulled his face down to meet hers. He gave her a quick kiss, then pulled away.
“No, you’re not all right.” He pulled her hands apart and stood, separating them.
“What’s wrong? Why are you angry?”
“Why shouldn’t I be?” He turned and glared at her. “This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for your antics.”
“I’m sorry, okay? What do you want from me? I just needed something to take the edge off.”
Spencer swore and turned back toward the steps.
“Don’t tell my parents, Spence. Please. Just give me a little time and help me.”
He turned toward her. “I’m trying to help you. I just don’t know if I can keep doing this by myself.”
Anna nodded, dismissing the subject. She glanced around the shop, eyeing the tools. He waited for any indication she really cared about herself, that she knew she was in trouble. But instead she simply looked distracted.
“Y’know, I’ve only been down here once or twice. Weird he left it open. He’s usually careful about locking it.”
“If that’s the case, we should go. They’re expecting us, and I don’t think you want to be caught down here.”
“Hey, what’s this?” She reached down and picked up a helmet made of reflective blue metal from the edge of the workbench. It resembled some sort of hardhat, complete with a dangling chinstrap. As Anna shifted the helmet in her hands, Spencer noted some sort of circuitry on the inside casing.
Seeing her rummage through her father’s private work sent a new surge of anger through him. “Let’s go.” If she wasn’t allowed down here, she was going too far. He considered tossing her over his shoulders and bodily carrying her upstairs.
Shrugging in obvious defiance, she raised the helmet and placed it on her head.
He rolled his eyes at her petulance, and wondered if she’d actually taken some of the drugs before he caught her.
She stared back at him, a silly grin on her face. Maybe she hit her head after all.
He sighed, biting back words of mounting frustration. “There. Happy now? You’re wearing it. It’s too big for you anyway.”
“But what is it? Is Daddy inventing a new game, or a tool to punch holes in the wall—” She stabbed her finger at the drywall behind her. A sharp popping noise assaulted their ears, and a moment later they both stared, dumbfounded, at a wide gaping hole in the wall.
Now that Darkness with a Chance for Whimsy has been released in various eBook and paperback formats (click here to see the page with all the order links) I’m starting a seven-part series of blog posts to offer a “taste” of each story (minus the flash fiction).
Most posts will be “enhanced” with trivia and images not possible to include in the collection. (Ever wonder where Assurance Salesman first showed up? Ever wanted to see my little “Fade” booklet? Sure you did)
And kicking us off is an “enhanced” post of the introduction by Debra Holland, and you didn’t even have to wait for it!
—- I met R.J. Sullivan when I joined my very first Yahoo group for the fans of a science fiction author, back when I still used a dial-up connection. R.J. and I discovered we were both science fiction and fantasy authors and formed a friendship—my first online friendship. We exchanged our books to critique. I gave him Sower of Dreams—Book One of the God’s Dream Trilogy. At the time, Sower was a stand-alone book. It was R.J. who suggested he could see the story developing into a trilogy.
I critiqued Haunting Blue, a paranormal thriller with an edgy young female protagonist. I did think he should take out some of the horror elements, but wisely, he didn’t listen to me.
When we first started critiquing each other’s work, we still had a lot to learn about the craft of writing (not that an author ever stops learning the craft). Publishing our books was just a distant dream, and we had a lot of years of work and submissions and rejections before each of us followed different paths to success.
Science fiction, fantasy, paranormal thrillers, space opera– R.J’s talents are remarkable and diverse. After a few years, our writing output grew too much to keep critiquing each other, although from time to time, one of us might ask the other to look at a short piece.
Last year, R.J. invited me to join a speculative fiction anthology to benefit Indy Book Reads, a literacy organization, and it was good to work together on Gifts of the Magi.
Umpteen years later, we still have never met in person, but I consider R.J. a good friend. I’ve watched his career with pride, and I’m honored to introduce this collection. Some of the works have had my fingers on them, others have not. I hope you enjoy the stories as much as I have.
[Check out a novella from Debra’s award winning Montana Sky series–totally free!]
— New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Debra Holland wears several hats. As a psychotherapist, she writes nonfiction books. Debra also writes fiction–Historical Western Romance, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy Romance, and Science Fiction. Her Montana Sky series, sweet historical Western romances, is published by Amazon Montlake. The Gods’ Dream Trilogy (fantasy romance) is available on Kindle.