RJ at Imaginarium 2017 Next Weekend

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Serious workshops at Imaginarium require my serious author face.

Another year, another Imaginarium!

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.

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Awesome author Kat French at the first-ever Imaginarium. She might also be Batgirl. Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

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.

11998829_1053001998043396_2971187345309656722_n.jpgAnd 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!

New Author Photo Reveal

With my science fiction novel Commanding the Red Lotus due out in a couple of months, I wanted to take an author photo that reflected my love of the genre as well as the content of the book. I tend to take themed author photos anyway, something Seventh Star Press peer Michael West and I have in common.

In any case, I had an opportunity to pose in front of a green screen while local A/V guru Frank Smith III was filming John F Allen and I for the opening credits of our upcoming Two Towers Talk Show. I asked him to take a few still shots and drop a background behind me, and wham, bam, a near-instant author photo was created.

It speaks to my love of SF, and also has a not-entirely-intended callback to The Adventures of Superman, and what the heck, that ain’t a bad thing.RJ Color Cmmndng Red Lotus Author pic

The official black and white version to be used in the novel:RJ B&W Cmmndng Red Lotus Athr Pic.jpg

I must say, I do rock in this, and my super-power of gut-suck was used to great effect.  So another component has fallen into place. The manuscript is with an editor, and soon Seventh Star Press will officially reveal the awesome artwork created by Enggar, and the book will be out in time for convention season. I can’t wait to share it with you all…well, actually, I guess I can. But I’m very excited for that day to come. Stay tuned, there’s lots of excitement ahead!

Whimsy Preview: Robot Vampire

DWACOW low rezClick here to view the previous entry “Starter Kit”
Click here to read the 8-part blog series of previews from the beginning

“Robot Vampire” has gotten a lot of good attention since its release in 2012 as part of Vampires Don’t Sparkle, an anthology edited by Michael West. I suspect that the story being a fundraiser for cancer research helped, not to mention its amazing table of contents, with story contributions from Lucy A. Snyder, Maurice Broaddus, Tim Waggoner, Gary A. Braunbeck, Bob Freeman and Stephen Zimmer, to name a few, all helped to bring attention to the story my way. I’m certainly proud to be in such  company.

I recall the germ for the story came about on a long family drive, one in which you find yourself playing nonsense games with each other. Anyway, for reasons I can no longer remember, we started pairing up monster types and giggling over the results because when you’re slaphappy, you’re also the most hysterical people in the world. And so, someone shouted “zombie robot!” (giggle) “werewolf zombie!” (giggle) “vampire werewolf!” (giggle) “robot vampire!” And while I giggled, a part of my brain already started to wonder “how could I make that work?”

Less than a month later, Michael West and I were talking and he asked if I had any ideas to submit to his anthology. Before I could think it through, my mouth responded, “Robot vampire”. Michael smirked that awesome Michael West smirk and said, “If you can make that work, I will buy it.” “You got it,” I said, even though I had no idea beyond the title.

Must brainstorming later, I turned in a story, one I’m pretty durn proud of, and still am. And so, apparently, was Michael.

The Setup: Jinan is an experimental robot who appears as a dark-haired Japanese girl and who emulates the agility of a human dancer. Moments before her premiere exhibition, Jinan is given a last-second programming tweak. The unintended consequence is that the robot achieves sentience, and the performance that follows wows the audience beyond almost everyone’s wildest expectations. Toshio, the show choreographer, is the one person who is not happy. In fact, he is furious over Jinan’s improvisations. The moment Jinan is alone, Toshio expresses his anger.

FINALVDS_coverWith their absence, something changes in my internal processes, a discordant flow of energy, again beyond my parameters to analyze. A response on the opposite side of the spectrum of the positive response I experienced earlier. I search my vocabulary for an appropriate word.
Dread. Is this dread?

Toshio yells in my face. “I know what you’re doing. Showing off for your masters. They programmed you too well, you little Diva bitch in the making.”
I file a conclusion about Toshio in a heuristic subroutine and speak my conclusion out loud. “I don’t like you, Toshio.”
Toshio’s face changes; his lips curve the opposite of a smile. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that! You don’t like me? You think I give two shits if you like me?”

Toshio walks to the toolbox in the far corner, opens the lid and examines its contents. “Gentoshu says you can learn now. To me, that’s great news. And very bad news for you, little Diva.” He turns toward me. One hand grips a screwdriver. He waves it in the air, the end pointed toward my face. “That means you can now respond to being punished, doesn’t it? But how?” Toshio looks upon me for several seconds. “I’d backhand you if you were a real girl. But I’ll bet I can come up with a way to make you respect me.”

You don’t need to listen to him, my special friend.
I detect a voice, speaking directly to me, in my head, but outside myself. The experience, so unexpected and without context, causes me to speak out loud. “What?”

Toshio looks at me. “I said it’s time to make you understand your place.”
From his tone, I conclude that Toshio has not heard the voice.
As I consider this, the voice speaks again. I can help you, special one. I can protect you now. He cannot see me, he cannot hear me, but you can. Do not give me away, and in return I will help you.

A new thought forms in a subroutine. The voice could be caused by a splinter in my thought processes that formed a separate thought entity within my own. The idea intrigues me. But the words keep me silent.
The voice in my head laughs. A real laugh, not a simulated one. I am not in your head. I am a spirit from outside you. Do you know what a guardian angel is?
____

Thank you for reading through this series of previews. I’m very proud of this collection and hope that this gives you a better idea of what you will find inside.

Click here to go to the dedicated ordering page of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy.

Book Launch Set!

DWACOW low rezI’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:

DWACOOW author low rez b&W“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

RJ’s Post Imaginarium…uh…post

Eric Garrison, me, John F. Allen
E. Chris Garrison, me, John F. Allen

Here’s where I brag about what an awesome time I had, that you didn’t have, because you chose to do something other than go to Imaginarium in Louisville, KY, last weekend. Ready, here we go.

With perfect weather and essentially a one highway route, the drive from Indy to Louisville could not have gone better. John F. Allen and I made the drive in a tad over two hours. The hotel was easy access off the highway exit.

Speaking of easy access, I need to praise the layout of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. As someone restricted to walking short distances, the public accessible doors next to the showroom were terrific, and the elevator access to the rooms was great. Very compact and convenient all around. These things are a concern for me, and the floor plan was definitely created with convenience in mind.

Registration was fast and smooth. We were given immediate access to our tables to set up. Con buddy Eric Garrison (AKA E. Chris Garrison) joined us and we were set up before con start with time to mingle.

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Fire drill posers.

At any convention, something has to go wrong, and at least this time it happened early with0ut serious consequences. I was never clear if what happened was a planned fire drill, a prank, or perhaps a lit cigarette, but whatever happened, the fire alarm went off, and the room full of vendors found themselves herded out the back doors into the parking lot for the next several minutes. I tucked up by the loading dock doors and waited it out.

I displayed my paranormal trilogy, plus my Lost Soles and Akira LacquersVirtual Blue nail polish. Everything received some love and attention, but the Lost Soles–the hand-stitched stuffed ghosts created by Mrs RJ and our three nerds in the making–were the big winner for my sales. How awesome is that?

Troll Under the Bridge tries to thumb-slap me.
Troll Under the Bridge tries to thumb-slap me.

Food, like other services, was easy and convenient. The hotel served an exceptionally large and yummy burger, dressed for a night out. Next to it was a nice grab-n-go kiosk. Friday night a group of us gathered at the local favorite Troll Under the Bridge Pub, and we even found a McDonald’s and Taco Bell for a convenient bite.

Networking opportunities were tremendous. I have been a fan of indie author Kat French for about a year, so meeting and talking with her was a highlight. The workshop run by Tim Waggoner was stellar. Touched base with Jackie Gamber, J.L. Mulvihill, Selah Janel, Amy McCorkle, David Mattingly, Jason Sizemore, Maurice “The Imaginator” (“Don’t call me the Imaginator”) Broaddus, Michael West, James O Barnes, the always awesome Janet Harriett….so many more. It was great to see D.A. Adams doing fairly well following some health concerns, and spend some time catching up with him.

Ash Arceneaux, A.D. Roland, Ash Roland, Audra Steia, and me...wait, what?
Ash Arceneaux, A.D. Roland, Ash Roland, Audra Steia, and me…wait, what?

I had two other special moments I need to mention: I was also reunited with Ms. Ash Roland, an author buddy who goes back early in my publishing journey. Ash was instrumental in securing my first publishing deal, created the first cover, the book trailer, and who I shadowed at Context in 2010 to learn the whole vending process. She’s a talented horror writer, artist, and friend, and it was terrific to see her again after a four year gap.

Also, through a happy coincidence, my brother and his wife traveled from Indy to Louisville to accompany my niece to visit a nearby college. They just happened to make reservations at the Crowne Plaza, and we had dinner together Saturday night.

I met a LOT LOT LOT of new people….so many, that if I attempted to name them, I would embarrass myself, so let’s just leave it at, you know who you are.

I did my best to impart whatever wisdom I could at my panels, and I know I learned a lot at the workshop.

What followed after was the masquerade dance, a room party, more at the dance, more at the room party, Otters were mentioned in inappropriate conversation, things got late, things got fuzzy. During the dance, Jordan Bell requested Cyndi Lauper (Goonies R Good Enough, whoop-whoop) on my behalf and several people chanted “Oh Awjay.”

Bottom Line: Imaginarium was a blast!! For a first year event, organization and efficiency far above expectations–perhaps the most well-run con I’ve been to. Kudos to Stephen Zimmer and Susan Roddey for that. Imaginarium was well worth the trip. It was an amazing networking and educational experience. They threw a great party. Sales were low, but that’s normal with any first year event. Make your plans now. This is the place to be next year.

Click here to view my overstuffed photo album from Imaginarium Weekend.

PS: I regret to announce that due to many circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to attend Context this year.

UPCOMING EVENT: RJ at Inconjunction: A Stalker’s Guide

So the Inconjunction Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention on the east side of Indianapolis (or as I call it, the old hometown) happens Fourth of July weekend, an awesome event celebrating all things speculatively geeky, and it’s always a highlight of my year. This year I’m attending as part of the Speculative Fiction Guild (SFG) and we’re hitting the con in a big way.

photo 2We’ll have a vendor’s booth with all of our titles, where I’ll have the Seventh Star collection of my paranormal thriller trilogy together in paperback for the first time. Convention pricing is: Haunting Blue: $15; Haunting Obsession: $12; Virtual Blue: $15.

Autographs are free and worth every penny you pay.

Also at the SFG booth: John F. Allen, Matthew Barron, and Eric Garrison. Directly next to us is SFG member Crystal Leflar, who’s running her OWN vendor booth as event marketer for Nightscape Press, so check out their array of titles along with her own books.

Inconjunction was the first con I ever attended over 20 years ago as Mrs. RJ’s date. The authors were my heroes and I always wanted to be where they were. Now I’m dpoing just that for my third time. Unreal.

So it turns out, the awesome people who throw Inconjunction (the Circle of Janus) moved their monthly meetings to a few miles down the road from where I live. I opened my big mouth and said “sure, the SFG will do as many panels as you want.” So they got us hopping this year!

Here’s your Stalker’s Guide to finding me.

Friday, July 4th

4 pm–Main Programming Room: Book Trailers–what are they good for? With: Eric Garrison and Author Co-Guest of Honor Kat Falls.

7 pm–Grand Ballroom 7 and 8: What are your favorites in genre television, and why? With: Mike Suess

8 pm–Grand Ballroom 7 and 8: Analyzing the History of the Comic Book Movie With: John F. Allen and Mike Suess.

Saturday, July 5

11 am–Indianapolis Ballroom D: SFG Writer’s Workshop: Point of View: Why it’s Better to Have One With: the SFG: John, Eric, Matt, and Crystal, plus Rosemary Laurey

1 pm–Room name coming: Discussion on genre television, title forthcoming: With John F. Allen

4 pm–Grand Ballroom 7 & 8: Making the Jump to a Series With: John F. Allen and Mike Shepherd.

7 pm–Harrison Room: SFG Writer’s Roundtable: Making the most of local settings in genre fiction With: The SFG:  John, Eric, Matt, and Crystal.

10 pm–Grand Ballroom 7-8: Candlelight Horror Reading With: John F. Allen, Crystal Leflar and Jeff Seymour.

At this time, I have no plans to return Sunday.

While you’re there, say hi to Michael West, James Barnes of Loconeal Books, local filmmaker Kate Chaplin of Karmic Courage Productions, and check out the show by Five Year Mission.

WOW! How’s that for a packed weekend!

Spring Fling Titles by RJ and Peeps go to 99 cents!

FINALVDS_coverThe Seventh Star Press Spring Fling has been going for several days now, in which a few titles at a time from the press’s catalog drop to 99 cents for a limited time. During those price drops, the press has hit some new bestseller highs. Michael West had his terrific haunted theater title Cinema of Shadows (click here to read my 9-Arjay Review) hit the top ten in horror.

Even more exciting, Michael was the editor of Vampires Don’t Sparkle, which also became four til late SSPa top ten bestseller…and that title includes my story Robot Vampire. I am now a contributor to a bestselling anthology! How cool is that?

It’s also been a delight to see Michael Knost’s Writer’s Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy chart so well this week, along with D.A, Adams’ Brotherhood of the Dwarves!

Haunting Obsession Lo RezAs we head into next week, author peep Eric Garrison‘s book, Four ‘Til Late–the first book in his road ghost trilogy–gets the 99 cents treatment March 31-April 2, and my popular paranormal thriller, Haunting Obsession, goes on sale April 1-April 3. That’s all e-options, including Amazon and Nook, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, that’s the time!

The Seventh Star Press Spring Fling continues through mid-April, with a Facebook event devoted to telling everyone about it. Click here to go there! There’s a lot more deals by terrific authors available. Thanks for your support and please spread the word!