This blog recreates a post that originally went up as part of a blog tour in support of the 2016 launch of Commanding the Red Lotus. It was an original marketing short story in script form and appeared on a host site that is no longer live.
[RJ stares at a blank page on his laptop and wonders what to write about for the Cover2Cover entry of his blog tour. He doesn’t notice the gorgeous ghost Maxine Marie appear behind him]
MM: [Leans forward to whisper directly in his ear] Hello, RJ.
RJ: Yikes! [wheels around] Maxine!
MM: [flashes sexy smile] Doing anything fun?
RJ You shouldn’t be here.
MM: [her smile shifts to a pout] Well….that’s not a very nice thing to say. It’s just that you haven’t asked me about my ghostly existence in months. I was afraid you’d quit writing or something. I mean, I still remember all the success I brought you with Haunting Obsession, and now… [she folds her arms across her chest] now you never call!
RJ: Sorry, Maxine. It’s just I’ve been writing spaceship adventure stories in my Red Lotus universe, and I’ve been having a good time…. I guess I haven’t thought about you—
[Maxine’s eyes widen]
RJ: GHOSTS! I MEANT GHOSTS! I haven’t thought about GHOSTS in a long time.
MM: A likely story. And what’s this Red Lotus? Sounds like a lady ninja assassin I should be jealous of.
The larger world shared by E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan (they even co-wrote this blog post)
E. Chris Garrison and R.J. Sullivan: two great tastes that taste great…
Let’s start over.
Chris and R.J. met at an author’s retreat in 2011. At the time, Chris had released her first editions of the Road Ghosts Trilogy and Blue Spirit, and RJ had released the first edition of Haunting Blue. Through discussion and the group readings that happen during author retreats, they found that they tend to think in similar ways on such topics as character archetypes and styles, which made them fast friends.
Chris’ skills as a brewmaster may have also had something to do with this.
Their first venture into “crossing their universes” was a character to character fictional interview blog that proved a lot of fun. Eventually, they decided that using each other’s characters and settings in a shared universe made sense dramatically in certain instances. Over time, they found that telling tales that affected a larger world also made for a fun marketing ploy to coax sales. They drafted a simple agreement between themselves to work it out, and they have been trading characters and building upon a shared universe ever since.
Having set the stage, let’s look at how Restless Spirit, Chris’ latest release and the reason you’re here, is part of that world.
This second book in Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy (written under a previous byline) marks the debut of Skye MacLeod, a cheerfully drunken gamer girl involved in a vampire live-action roleplaying game. The main cast encounters her as they attempt to save a poor little lost tween ghoul from a greedy opportunist who’s in league with a demon. Skye literally stumbles into trouble as she is possessed by the demon and forced to do its bidding. While this possession is temporary, Skye’s life and destiny are changed forever.
When the Trilogy ended, Garrison wanted to do something different. Skye was the first character she thought of to star in a spin-off series.
Set in 2010, the first novel by R.J. introduces flamboyant punk girl “Blue” Shaefer, her computer savvy boyfriend “Chip” Farren, and Chip’s best friend Phil Jenson. Against the backdrop of a creepy Indiana small town with a legendary secret, Blue and Chip meet, fall in love, and try to solve that legendary secret. Their efforts end up releasing a ghost and dark hi-jinx ensue.
The aforementioned spin-off of Garrison’s Road Ghosts Trilogy, this first book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales features Skye telling the story from her own point of view. She tells us a tale of her misadventures as a transplanted gamer girl whose life is permeated with the supernatural fairy world only she can see. Having grown up in Chicago, Skye never needed to learn to drive, so she takes the IndyGo buses or bums rides to get everywhere she needs to go. On one such bus, on an especially bad day, Skye meets a short, scruffy, gnome-like person who calls himself the Transit King. Skye sees past his sketchy appearance and recognizes him as a fairy lord. He proceeds to offer his assistance (in return for a promised favor) that further tangles Skye in high stakes supernatural politics.
In many ways, this first encounter not only drives the rest of the Tipsy Fairy Tales and provides Skye with a mentor, but introduces the Transit King as an unlikely favorite character from this book among readers and author peers. Chris was surprised and honored when later asked by R.J. if he could “borrow” the mysterious character for his own books.
In this sexy ghost story, frustrated geek girl Loretta Stevens boards a bus while fuming over how rudely she’s been treated by her boyfriend. She and Daryl had come to the local mall to shop for a birthday present and possible engagement ring for her, only to watch as Daryl instead buys a piece of overpriced Hollywood memorabilia connected to the long-dead gorgeous 50’s icon Maxine Marie. Disgusted, Loretta leaves him standing in the store, and she must now rely on public transportation to get back to her car.
On the bus, as she reflects on their relationship, a strange, creepy fellow with a thick accent advises her to wait for Daryl at his apartment. “Normally, I just…get travelers to their destinations…I’m just the Transit King, after all. …Follow yer instincts, not yer pride.” Yes, this is the same Transit King who plays such an important role in Garrison’s Tipsy Fairy Tales, making his “debut” in the R.J. verse.
Loretta ignores this good advice, to her regret. She learns that her boyfriend has been ensnared by the ghost of Maxine Marie herself. Maxine, now a sort of super-specter, is strengthened by the energy generated by her millions of fans, especially Daryl. The ghost is feeding off him, and he’s fading fast. Desperate, Loretta seeks aid from Rebecca Burton, an investigator of paranormal phenomenon who wields mysterious powers. Loretta learns that Rebecca’s role as a government agent is a cover that allows her to move about freely as she prepares to play a major role in an upcoming battle with the forces of evil.
The year is 2013, and Chip Farren and Phil Jenson are now students at I.U., roommates living off campus and ambitious game programmers. They’ve released a beta of Fantasy Free-Form, their multi-player heroic fantasy computer game. Blue travels to Bloomington over Thanksgiving weekend to sort out her complicated feelings with Chip about their relationship.
The three of them are unaware that the game has been targeted by a cult of demon worshipers who think they can use the game’s virtual environment as a focal-point to summon a demon, creating a portal from their dimensional prison in hell to the video realm and then from there into the real world. Fortunately, Rebecca Burton is already aware of the situation, and she’s employed a talented young woman to assist her–Skye McLeod. Before the night is over, Blue will nearly lose her life and her sanity, and Skye will have to find the inner strength to confront Rebecca and force her to do the right thing. Phil and Skye will also begin an unusual friendship that continues in…
In the following summer of 2014, Skye finds herself still underemployed and dependent on her girlfriend, Annabelle. Phil Jenson has taken the step of promoting Fantasy Free-Form at Big Con, an enormous gamer convention in Indianapolis, and has hired Skye on to use her charm to draw con-goers to try out the game. She’s delighted at her apparent good luck when Rebecca Burton calls her. Rebecca has heard rumors of supernatural activity at the convention, and she wants to hire Skye to watch out and report on anything suspicious. Trouble soon finds her, in the form of one of her gamer friends somehow amassing a zombie army, some meddling trolls, and an ancient horror lurking underneath the center of Indianapolis. She goes to visit her old mentor, The Transit King, who has become far more powerful after the events of Blue Spirit, and he gives her some cryptic direction and magical aid–with his usual price tag. Unfortunately, Skye gets pulled into the supernatural events more than any of her employers care for, and when one problem crashes into another, she feels forced to set them against each other, unleashing a type of hell into downtown Indianapolis in the process. She loses the support of Rebecca and the Transit King, and puts other relationships at risk, but Phil sticks with her to the very end, helping her make slightly more sober choices to undo what she’s done.
The story doesn’t end there. Garrison reports that Phil, Blue, and Rebecca return for the climactic third book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales series, Mean Spirit! So stay tuned for future Garrison/Sullivan character crossover fun!
About the author: E. Chris Garrison writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories. She used to publish as Eric Garrison, but has since upgraded.
This Saturday marks my fifth consecutive appearance at the Paranormal Meet and Greet at the Historical Hannah House on the south side of Indianapolis.
My first appearance was as a new author in 2011 with my then-brand new first novel Haunting Blue.
My second appearance was for the book launch of Haunting Obsession, where reader / fan Nikki Howard enthusiastically cosplayed my sexy ghost Maxine Marie on a cosmic lineup of events–the book came out the year of the 50th anniversary of the real Marilyn Monroe’s death, and the event took place 50 years and within a day or two of her death. (And if I told you I had no idea that things would align the way they did when I started planning it, I wouldn’t believe me, either.) It was a lot of fun and we sold a lot of books that day.
Since then, I’ve been a part of the Paranormal Meet and Greet every year it’s taken place (they took a year off in 2014). It’s a fun day, pretty easygoing, at a truly unique and lovely landmark, and the people there are kind and enthusiastic about real-life paranormal investigations. I hear some incredible stories every year.
This year, I’m sharing a booth with other SFG Booksellers, where we’ll have plenty of horror and ghost story books to choose from. And Maxine Marie is going to “haunt” the grounds of the Historical Hannah House. This time she’ll be “channeled” by local model and reader Madison Kae Scroggin, who’ll be mingling with the crowd and posing for pictures while she puts the “boo” in boo-boop-be-doo. (Yeah…I don’t know what that means, either, but you don’t want to miss it).
You’ll find plenty of copies of my paranormal trilogy and my short story collection. (I’m temporarily out of stock of Commanding the Red Lotus)
Cash and Credit Card payments accepted. Autographs as always are completely FREE and worth every penny you pay.
The 10th Annual Paranormal Meet and Greet is a FREE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC EVENT Sat, Aug. 13 with extended hours from previous years: 11 am-6 pm in the lawn of the Historic Hannah House at 3801 Madison Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46227. Click this link to go to the Facebook Event Page. I hope to see some of you there!
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.
With Halloween approaching, Seventh Star Press is offering a scary low price on my sexy ghostly bestseller Haunting Obsession! From now until…?, new readers can download my most popular work and gateway story into my paranormal thriller series for just 99 cents!
Haunting Obsession, a top 100 ghost fiction bestseller during a previous 99 cents promotion, has been called “a page turner to the very last word.” by Renee Graham, Dead Speak Paranormal Radio show host. Bitten By Books praised its world building and character development in their 4/5 star rating. Eva’s Sanctuary proclaimed “The story line is well written and may actually make you believe in ghosts.” One Amazon reader posted “With Halloween coming, this is a book you will not want to miss. ”
If you’ve never yet met Loretta, Daryl, the elegantly seductive ghost and Hollywood icon Maxine Marie, or the mysterious Rebecca Burton, now’s your chance. The Haunting Obsession ebook is downloadable for 99 cents on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobobooks sites. Or, if you’d prefer to get a signed paperback copy directly from the author (for more than 99 cents,but autographs are always free and worth every penny you pay) click here to go to the dedicated page with all the links.
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.
I’m pleased to announce the ebook for Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy is set to launch Tuesday, June 16, with the paperback going live a couple of days later. Watch for up to the minute updates on Facebook and an update of links on the book’s dedicated page though0ut the day.
I will also begin a series of 500 word story preview blogs to begin as soon as all formats of the book have gone live. The series will highlight and preview one short story from the collection per day for seven consecutive days.
Those looking for autographed copies will find me at these events throughout the rest of the year. As always, signatures are free and worth every penny you pay.
Collected for the first time since their initial publications, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy presents ten tales from the imagination of R.J. Sullivan. Thrills and chills await you, but you may also get blindsided by the absurd. This volume includes a pair of stories featuring Rebecca Burton, the mysterious investigator of R.J.’s acclaimed paranormal thriller series. Among the ten stories, you’ll find:
“The Assurance Salesman” shows five strangers more about themselves than they ever guessed.
You don’t want to venture into Daddy’s basement in “Fade.”
Rebecca Burton tries to talk someone out of a bad idea in “Backstage Pass.”
A bullied police detective finally defeats his rival in “Able-Bodied.”
A desperate father finds the “Inner Strength” to save his young daughter, “Becky” Burton.
A child seeds his aquarium with a most unusual “Starter Kit.”
A brilliant robotics engineer creates a “Robot Vampire.”
Also includes:“I remember Clearly … “, “Do Better,” and “Grammetiquette 2030.”
“Science fiction, fantasy, paranormal thrillers, space opera– R.J’s talents are remarkable and diverse.” ~ New York Times And USA Today Bestselling Author Debra Holland, from the introduction.
“From a universe in a fish bowl to robotic vampire pop stars, R.J. Sullivan takes you to fantastical places that will chill your marrow and make your imagination soar.” ~ Michael West, bestselling author of Spook House and Cinema of Shadows.
“A short collection but with great depth and variety, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy is a coffee-with-bourbon collection: a pleasurable slow burn. R.J. Sullivan is a patient wordsmith, never rushing, always building suspense and tension. None of these stories are alike, except in having realistic characters and ample plots. Sullivan breaks stylistic “conventions” well, plays with form, and, yet, still feels like a throwback author, one who loves the authors he grew up reading. A highly-rewarding batch of stories!” ~ Brady Allen, author of Back Roads & Frontal Lobes
With the release of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy now just a couple weeks away, I wanted to do something new and interesting with my author photo. In a way, I see the short story collection as the end of an era, the time when I was finding my voice and discovering who I was as a writer and what I have to say. While this question will never entirely go away, I feel like I’ve started to get a handle on this in the past five years, and I wanted to celebrate the moment alongside my most popular creations that have been so important in growing my readership.
Darkness with a Chance for Whimsy is a collection of ten short stories and is on track to come out in ebook and paperback by Seventh Star Press in mid-June. I will definitely have copies of the book for sale in time for Inconjunction in Indianapolis over Fourth of July weekend. Stay tuned for more details.
This Saturday from 10 AM to Noon I’ll be with many other local authors at the Brownsburg Public Library at 450 S. Jefferson Street, west of Indy, for their second annual author fair! I’ll be signing and selling my paranormal trilogy. 10% of all sales during this event goes to the Brownsburg Public Library Friends of the Library Group.