This weekend, I launch into convention / book fair season with a fun gathering in Madison, Indiana. The Book Fair hosted by That Book Place is going on its sixth year (I hooked up in year two and haven’t missed it since). Although the store is no more, the event continues at the Madison National Armory (1533 Clifty Drive, Madison, IN 47250) and through the store’s owner, Frank Hall. Click here to join the Facebook event. I will be there Saturday only.
The event has grown every year, and this year it is bursting at the seams. Food vending (cash only) will be available onsite for authors and guests. Credit card payment will be accepted for author’s books, and they will be offered at a discount from regular price. The event is free to get in, and with it now indoors in a convention hall, there’s no reason not to check it out.
I am attending Saturday 10 am-6 pm only. Festivities continue through Sunday. John F. Allen and I will be roaming the space as The Two Towers Talk Show doing short interviews with authors as time permits.
Just a quick note to announce the very exciting news that the interview that John F. Allen and I did as the Two Towers Talk Show with Agent Carter Staff Writer Brandon Easton has gone live on YouTube. In it, we learn Brandon’s struggles as an up-and-coming writer, what it’s like to be part of a modern TV show staff, and lots laughs mixed with life lessons.
So this past Monday morning John F. Allen and I got together to film the first episode, and the show ran long enough to become two. In one, we discuss Deadpool the movie in detail and go over the latest movie news. The part of the show in which we talk about the Oscars got trimmed off and turned into its own show, a good call and nice piece of editing by John.
Next week we’re filming another show, our first interview episode, and we’ve got a great one. I’m a big Marvel’s Agent Carter fan, and we’ve landed one of the writers of the program, Brandon Easton. I’m super-psyched for John and I to talk to him. Watch this space for updates about this and other Two Tower Talk Show events.
It’s time for an R.J. Friday Update, meaning, I have an update and it happens to be Friday.
Commanding the Red Lotus, my first official novel-length collection into spaceship sci-fi, has a tentative target release window. Seventh Star Press is closing in on the week of April 22 to launch the ebook and paperback. It might shift a bit sooner, but it lines me up to premiere the title at Indiana Comic Con the weekend of April 30th as the first event where I’ll have copies on hand!
At the same time as the release of the novel, Seventh Star Press will re-launch a revised edition of the first novelette of the collection, Fate of the Red Lotus, as a perma-free ebook download. That means you can check out the first 12K words of Commanding the Red Lotus at no risk whatsoever. Then you can purchase the novel to continue the story after you already know you love it.
I’m super-excited about getting this book out to my readers. In the meantime, after considering the choices among my basket of ideas, I’ve picked my next project and am rolling up my sleeves to settle back into drafting mode. I’ll say more about that in the months to come.
And while I’m writing, I’m also partnering with my TV and movie loving buddy John F Allen to launch the first few episodes of our YouTube program The Two Towers Talk Show. Watch for a post linking you to the first show, coming in a week or so. I’m also prepping for the start of convention season and one of my favorite annual events, the That Book Place 6th Annual Authors Fair in Madison, IN for Saturday, April 2nd.
I sat down in the midst of the holiday insanity of last December to Skype with Kim Smith, the charming hostess of the Writer Groupie Podcast, and talked about my favorite topic for 40 minutes: me. Specifically, she asked about my ghost stories, my love of science fiction, and asked about my upcoming release, Commanding the Red Lotus. She also asked what advice I’d give to an aspiring writer.
Hello, and welcome back! I hope everyone had a great holiday and is staying warm through the dreariest time of the year for us Hoosiers. Indiana winter weather always poses challenges; it affects schedules and vehicles in negative ways and always brings a bit of a letdown after the optimism of the holidays. This winter is no exception.
Typically, the holidays and the first couple weeks of January are the time I stop writing and try to recharge in anticipation of returning to my regular schedule when the view out my window is a tad less gloomy. That didn’t happen this year. I took on a new short story project over the holidays, which I completed last week. I also wrapped on the draft of the third Red Lotus story. Let’s look at those one at a time.
First, last fall, Pocket Books and Paramount announced a Star Trek Strange New Worlds Contest, requesting original Star Trek fiction to be considered for an upcoming anthology in 2016 to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. I swore off fan fiction some time back in high school, but, Star Trek (and by Star Trek I mean Captain Kirk and The Original Crew) is not only one of my favorite TV shows, but probably one of my favorite anythings, and it certainly served as the gateway to a larger appreciation of SF. My love for Star Trek continues undiminished to this day.
On the one hand, I fully understand that my chances of earning one of the twelve coveted slots are only slightly better than my chances of successfully riding a unicycle down the street without losing my balance. Over a sheet of ice. During a wind storm. But on the other hand, the chance to contribute an “authorized” tale of the Starship Enterprise proved too great an attraction to ignore. If I didn’t do it, I realized, I’d always wonder what might have happened.
And so, two days before the January 15 deadline, I turned in “The Fittest,” a first contact tale in which Lt. Uhura gets into a heap of trouble during a planetary scouting mission.
And if it doesn’t get picked for the contest…well…it just might show up as a free download somewhere, someday.
Prior to the Star Trek contest throwing off my plans to take it easy (or as easy as I ever can during the hectic holidays) I managed to bring my third Red Lotus SF tale to a conclusion and get the draft out to a few pre-readers for their evaluation. That process is going forward, and should wrap up in a couple of weeks.
The result of that will be my first novel-length entry into the spaceship SF genre, Commanding the Red Lotus, to be released by Seventh Star Press. The book will include all three Red Lotus tales gathered into one volume and released as a softcover paperback for the first time: Fate of the Red Lotus (a previously released novelette available in ebook only) Red Lotus: Innocence Lost (a previously released novelette available in ebook only) and Mutiny on the Red Lotus (a 30K word novella which will be new to this collection).
In the meantime, Seventh Star is pushing forward with the production. I have just signed off on the cover to the release, and it’s pretty amazing. Enggar, the same SSP artist who created the cover for Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, has a knack for space opera, and he channeled that talent to create an incredible cover for Commanding the Red Lotus. Watch for a follow-up post in a few days where I’ll unveil the art in all its glory. We are still aiming for an April release.
Speaking of April, keep the Indiana Comic Con in mind, as that’s a new event for me, where I hope to have all of my titles on sale, including Commanding the Red Lotus. Indiana Comic Con is at the Indiana Convention Center the weekend of April 30-May 1. It’s going to be the biggest event I’ve participated in as a vendor, a pretty star-studded event–and I’ll be there, too. Details to come.
I think that’s it for now. Just wanted to let you all know I’m still here and things are pushing along behind the scenes, and 2016 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting yet!
I’m pleased to be able to host a stop on the blog tour of my good friend and awesome author John F. Allen. As part of his critique group, I’ve read Codename: Knight Ranger as he was writing the various components of it. If you like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Six Million Dollar Man, you need to see how John plays with similar ideas and makes them his own. That’s why for this guest post, I asked him to pick the heroes that had the biggest impact on his writing. Let’s see what he said….
List the top genre heroes when you were growing up that influenced your writing today.
Batman I fell in love with Batman from as far back as I can remember. Before any other heroes, there was the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight Detective and the senior half of the Dynamic Duo. I could say it was his humanity that drew me to the character, and I suppose that is in part the truth. However, I must admit that the dark, tragic origins of the character were equally as influential to me. I love flawed, human characters. Batman was a tragically flawed human, who used his means to become the protector of the streets in his city of Gotham and a terror to the criminal element.
Shaft John Shaft was my hero. He was the street smart, charismatic, sarcastic ladies man on the surface, but he was also the intelligent, courageous and selfless hero who stepped up to the challenge when he was called to it.
Spenser I read my first Spenser novel, by the late, great Robert B. Parker back in 1980. I was drawn to the character’s morality, veracity, wit and compassion. Sure, he was a tough guy in the mode of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, but he was also an intellectual and gentleman.
From the first time I read about the adventures of V.I. Warshawski, the tough as nails female private eye created by Sara Paretsky, I fell in love with her wit, swagger and propensity for getting into harrowing situations. However, the one thing that stood out about her the most was her self reliance and autonomy. She wasn’t the typical “Damsel in Distress” and could roll with the fellas, but still be a lady.
Wonder Woman was the strong, beautiful and wise heroine who embodied hope and peace. As a fan of the comics and the 70’s TV show, I was drawn to this larger than life female who could juggle cars, but was also compassionate to the weak and downtrodden, who sometimes were at best an afterthought to others.
Black Panther was the epitome of the positive depiction of a black male in comics. He was a King, he was a genius, he was extremely wealthy, brave, benevolent and strong. Growing up during the 70’s, the depictions of black males and black people in general were largely stereotypical at best. Black Panther served as an inspiration of what black characters should be.
1) Conan the Barbarian/Tarzan of the Apes
2) Steve Austin (Six Million Dollar Man) – he almost made it, but is in the Top Ten.
3) The Shadow/Doc Savage
4) Sherlock Holmes
5) Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Jean Luc Picard and Captain Benjamin Sisko
About the author John F. Allen is an American writer born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a member of the Speculative Fiction Guild and the Indiana Writers Center. He began writing stories as early as the second grade and pursued all forms of writing at some point, throughout his career. John studied Liberal Arts at IUPUI with a focus in Creative Writing, received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force and is a current member of the American Legion. John’s debut novel, The God Killers was published in 2013 by Seventh Star Press.
John currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife, son and daughter.
Codename: Knight Ranger: Captain Alexandre Cornelius “Neal” Du Bois is a US Army Ranger and decorated war hero. When his unit is ambushed by supernatural hostile forces while in Afghanistan, only Neal survives. When he wakes up in a secret government facility, Neal discovers that his whole life has changed forever.
A shadowy government agent named Elijah Bishop arranges for Neal’s brain to be transplanted, without his permission, into a bio-engineered body capable of amazing feats. Armed with advanced body armor and weaponry, he becomes the epitome of the Ultra Soldier.
To protect his family and those closest to him, he must let the world and everyone he loves believe he is dead. With assistance from Dr. Avery Clarkson–the scientist responsible for his new body–Neal reluctantly utilizes his superhuman abilities to work for Bishop and his organization called G.E.N.E.S.I.S. (Global Espionage Network of Elite Supernatural Intelligence and Surveillance), in order to track down those responsible for the slaughter of his unit and keep the world safe from supernatural terrorist forces.
Tour Schedule and Activities
11/2 On Cloud Eight-and-a-Half Guest Post
11/2 A Charmed Life Review
11/3 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Author Interview
11/4 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
11/4 Book in the Bag Interview
11/4 RJ Sullivan Top 5 List
11/5 Darkling Delights Interview
11/6 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
11/6 Sheila’s Blog Guest Post
11/6 Bee’s Knees Reviews Review
11/7 The Infamous Scribbler Review/Interview
11/7 Vampires, Witches, & Me Oh My! Top Ten List
11/8 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Guest Post
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!
Next weekend I’ll be attending the Second Annual Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. Last year’s event was, quite simply, the most fun I had last year. With Seventh Star Press as a major organizer and several Speculative Fiction Guild authors well represented, I’m anticipating bigger, better, and more fun than ever.
What is Imaginaruim? Quite simply, If you love books and the people who write them, or you aspire to write and want an inspiring weekend training seminar, Imaginarium will be the place to be.
First of all, let’s get to a huge change over year one. The change that affects each and every one of you. The dealer’s room, crammed full of authors and vendors, will be free and open to the public. To participate in the programming, you need to buy a one-day or weekend pass, but if you just want to shop for yourself or for people on that list that starts to become relevant very soon, you can come and go as you like, free of charge.Click here to see Imaginarium’s website to read all the details about location, passes, hotel, etc.
You’ll find me at a table with good buddies John F. Allen and Chris Garrison in the Seventh Star Press section. You’ll find my full array of books, which you can buy with cash or credit card all weekend. Autographs as always are free and worth every penny you pay. Here’s my price list:
Of course, you’re all coming just to see me, but you should know there’s dozens of panels for readers and writers, a movie screening room, a masquerade ball, and two free writer’s workshops. Hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it, follow my updates on Facebook and Instagram throughout the weekend.