To those that have been paying attention, the only thing less surprising than announcing an audiobook adaptation of Commanding the Red Lotus is that I have secured the fabulous Danielle Muething to work her narration magic. Danielle has done a fantastic job on all the other titles. Call me crazy (I am, but not for this reason), but I see no reason to mess with success.
Now Seventh Star Press and my imprint DarkWhimsy Books have partnered to secure Danielle’s narration talents to bring the rest of the trilogy to audio! Danielle is already in the sound booth laying down tracks and voices for Haunting Blue, my first novel and the start of the paranormal adventures of punk girl Blue Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Haunting Blue will likely be out on Audible and other popular audiobook options well before summer!
I’m super-thrilled to announce that my Amazon top-40 bestselling sexy ghost story Haunting Obsession will have an ACX (Amazon) audiobook version released later this summer. The new format release is in partnership with Seventh Star Press as one of their first titles being adapted to audiobook.
I’m super-excited about this development for a couple of reasons, the first is that I’ve been hoping to adapt Haunting Obsession to audiobook since the initial book release in 2012. I think the novella length and finding the right voice talent to take on the Maxine Marie / Marilyn Monroe voice will elevate the drama to new heights. It will also open the material to an audience that just plain prefers audiobooks over print (Something I am coming to understand in recent years).
The other story is a science fiction comedy presented in its play manuscript form; a Christian faith story with a cover that makes this aspect clear, so no potential buyer is blindsided. So without further ado, check out this awesome “Christmas Card with a Spaceship” front cover by Ash Arceneaux! Ash is the cover artist of the original edition of Haunting Blue (long out of print after I yanked the rights back from that disreputable-entity-whose-name-I-do-not- speak-and-not-JUST-because-its-name-is-literally-a-mild-curse-word-though-that-doesn’t-help.). Ash also created the slides for the very ambitious Haunting Blue Book Trailer. Ash is an amazing artist and talent (and truly a good friend). I’m thrilled to have her work represented in my titles once again. Link to the current edition of Haunting Blue.
“The Beacon” follows the three-person crew of the United Galaxy Corps Scoutship Starprobe: brave but hotheaded Captain Remmer, the logical but clueless cyborg engineer Gault, and the frequently panicky pilot Lanson. The ship arrives in orbit around planet Earth to investigate why a bright glowing star-like beacon has lit up the planet’s skyline.
Their ship barely has time to scan the horizon before they’re attacked by a renegade space pirate. Their incompetent captor, Ted the Merciless (because it sounds better than Theodore the Merciless), hoped to steal the treasure that the beacon represents, only to find he’s attacked the Starprobe way too soon. Can this group of misfits find a way to work together long enough to solve the mystery and message of…The Beacon? (Spoiler: It’s baby Jesus).
Next Tuesday, I’m offering my email update newsletter subscribers an early sneak peek at the front cover of my next release, Commanding the Red Lotus. Frankly, it’s a pretty stunning cover, and if you dig spaceship artwork that captures a sense of wonder, you’ll love this.
The cover was created by Seventh Star Press staff artist Enggar, the man behind last year’s Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy cover. Though he humored my odd request for that one (and knocked it out of the park) science fiction space opera images are in his wheelhouse, and he created a great one for me. Which is why I want to share it early. Just…only with my special people.
“That’s a bummer, RJ,” you might be saying. “I’m not on your RJ Fans Email Updates list. And what’s in it for me?”
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.