It was my pleasure to write the introduction to the first short story collection of the talented author and my good friend John F. Allen, released last month. I could tell you why, but I explain it in detail in the introduction. So without any further delay, here is the foreword in full.
I’m pleased and honored to write the foreword in this collection, though also a bit intimidated. For many of you readers, this may be your introduction to the imaginative world of John F. Allen, and introducing you to that is quite a task to take on in a few hundred words. John and I have been through a lot together in the last half decade or so, both as storytellers trading and refining ideas, and as independent authors trying to launch our respective careers and take over the world one book at a time. We have bonded like brothers and have frequently feuded in the same manner. But ultimately it is our love and admiration for each other that keep us together on the journey. I think there’s a 70s song by Captain and Tennille that fits here (Google it, kids).
Old songs frequently come up when hanging out with John. Love songs. Dance songs. Great songs of passion. Because if there’s one word that I would use to describe John, it’s passion. John is passionate about writing, and, as these stories show, he is passionate about life.
…if there’s one word that I would use to describe John, it’s passion.
This makes my fourth Imaginarium Convention (because that’s how many there have been), a terrific readers and writers con in Louisville, KY, started by Seventh Star Press partly in response to some odd and disappointing trends at other conventions in the area (which this year became all too apparent, but never mind). From the start, it’s been a great con to surround myself with people of immense talent, to mingle, gossip, and just generally pretend I belong there. Catch up with friends, hang out with buddies, and stand in the corner in amazement at being in the same room with still others.
Without breaking it down into those sub-categories, some of the authors I’m particularly excited to see are: John F. Allen, E. Chris Garrison, Matthew Barron, Kat French, Sela Carsen, Selah Janel, Elizabeth Donald, Lucy Snyder, Gary Braunbeck, Mchael Knost, Michael West, Dan Jolley, Dave Creek, Arlan Andrews, Ericka Kahler, Armand Rosamilia, Stephen Zimmer, Demetrius Witherspoon, Bishop Stevens, Jason Sizemore, Janet Hariett, Tony Acree,and many, many, many more. (No, I am not linking these names because I want to have this done before the event itself, but you should Google them all).
I may have name-dropped a bit in that last paragraph. It’s all good.
Now, since I know a lot of you will be taking the trip specifically to see me (or let’s just pretend that’s the case, okay? We authors have gigantic but fragile egos), here is my panel schedule:
Sat, 5 PM in the Cumberland Room: Exploring Today’s Universe of Science Fiction
With Dave Creek (Moderator), Bethany DJ Kesler, Eri Nelson, Gerald L. Coleman, Sarena Ulibarri, and Dr. Arlan Andrews.
Sat, 6 PM in the Goldenrod Room: Paranormal Literature
With Lori Roberts (Moderator) Barb Jones, Jacob Floyd, Monica Corwin, and Lorena Reith Jr.
Sun, 11 AM in the Derby Room: Finding the Right Critique Groups
With Carma Haley Shoemaker (Moderator) Kristi Bradley, Juanita D. Houston, Marian Allen, and Geoffrey Mandragora.
And did I mention, the vendor room is completely free to visitors all weekend long! That’s right, there’s no charge to show up and shop a room chock full of talented Speculative Fiction authors and their books. I’ll be there in the Seventh Star section not too far from John and Chris most of the time. So come find us and say hi. I’ll be fully stocked with my catalog of titles, and as always, autographs are FREE and worth every penny you pay.
Imaginarium is an awesome author and reader con that continues to grow every year. From Indy, it’s an easy day trip. If you’ve never been, you need to check it out. I hope to see some of you there!
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!
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.
I’m a proud author with Seventh Star Press, and Imaginarium is, in great part, the brainchild of SSP Editor-In-Chief Stephen Zimmer. And so, I was there for Imaginarium’s first and second year and saw the convention grow from a great idea to an expanding community where readers and writers meet, joke, party, and exchange ideas in a nurturing environment all weekend long. Imaginarium 2016, year three, looks to be the best year yet, and you can be sure I’m not missing out on this one.
Imaginarium is the weekend of Oct 7-9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Louisville, KY (near the airport). It’s about a two hour drive from Indianapolis, perfect for a day trip or for staying the weekend. The programming requires a membership badge, but the vending room is free and open to the public. Genres include but are not limited to science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, and graphic novels.
If seeing me isn’t enough reason to go (and that’s fine, just don’t tell me to my face, we writers have tender egos), there’s a film festival, masquerade ball, panels, and workshops for readers and writers of all levels and interests.
So ends my fifth InConJunction in the last six years. So what are my thoughts?
Looking back, I sold plenty of books this year, though I may have sold more in past years. I photographed plenty of costumes, though I may have photographed more in past years. I talked to many authors, but I may have talked to more in past years. All that said, this was the easily the most relaxed, best “all around” con I’ve ever been a part of. InConJunction has been sliding into place as the most easygoing “hangout” con weekend on my calendar, and this time it solidified itself as such.
I’ve done a number of these weekends by now and I’ve gotten pretty good at them. If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that something is gonna go wrong. Every time. Sometimes it’s a goof on the part of the organization that throws the event, sometimes it’s confusion among the peers I partner with, sometimes it’s traffic, sometimes it’s just fraying nerves from a long weekend (“What?” you say. “Writers can be moody and emotional? I’m shocked, SHOCKED!”). The point is, there’s always something.
But not this time.
Everything went off exactly as planned and better than I had any reason to hope. We all showed up where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. We had each other’s backs. I can’t recall a cross word between us all weekend. And look, some straight talk–when we spend most of 72 hours together, it’s NORMAL to exchange a cross word or two. It just happens.
But not this time.
My very highest praise to everyone on the Inconjunction staff (with special shout-outs to Mike and Lynette Cowper for being the keepers of the vendor registrations, setting up a vendor soda cooler, and checking in with us frequently to make sure all was well–and it was!) Again, just some straight talk without laying any blame–there’s always something amiss at every con. It may be a layout that goes awry. A disorganized con suite. Badges get misplaced. A cross word can cause misunderstandings. Most cons are run by volunteers and as such, it’s perfectly normal that Things Go Wrong, even if, in the end, they’re hardly worth mentioning later.
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.