Maxine Marie introduces Virtual Blue

Lily from the videoCheck out the new promotional trailer in which my movie star ghost Maxine Marie introduces Virtual Blue and explains why it’s really all about her!

Special thanks to Lily Monstermeat for all her hard work and for again channeling Maxine so “elegant”ly!!

View the video here!

The Blog Tour So Far…

We’ve hit the two-thirds mark of the Virtual Blue Blog Tour, a great time to post some link updates. Highlights include:

an ongoing Rafflecopter contest for a FREE copy of Virtual Blue and two Seventh Star books of your choice at Jess Resides Her; an analysis of Virtual Blue at Jorie Loves a Story; An overview of reading my series at Come Selahway With Me; Sheila Deeth and Armand Rosamilla host two blogs on Blue Shaefer; I’m interviewed by a fictional character on the John Allen site; Two fictional characters interview each other with entertaining results at Library Girl Reads and Reviews, and Rebecca Burton’s secret journal entry gets intercepted at Spellbindings! Click each link to see its entry.

October 28     Jess Resides Here                               Contest

October 28     Jorie Loves a Story                            Review

October 28     Come Selahway With Me                 Guest Post

October 29     Sheila Deeth Blog                              Character Interview w/ Blue

October 30     Armand Rosamilia                             Guest Post

October 30     A Haunted Head                                Special Post Tba

October 31     John F. Allen                                       Ivory Blaque Interview of RJ!

October 31     Spellbindings                                     Character Post with Rebecca Burton

October 31     Library Girl Reads and Reviews        Character Interview of Rebecca Burton

Blog tour day one!

Here are the live links for the first day of my blog tour!

Jess Resides Here has a contest: http://frellathon.com/2013/10/28/virtual-blue-rj-sullivan-book-tour-mega-giveaway/

Jories Loves a Story reviews Virtual Blue: http://jorielovesastory.com/2013/10/28/blog-book-tour-virtual-blue-by-rj-sullivan/

Come Selahway with Me has a great guest post: http://selahjanel.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/tcm-presents-virtual-blue-by-rj-sullivan/

You can see the master schedule here!

Yesterday my blog hit new high numbers,three times more than I’ve ever seen. A very cool surprise. Thanks, everyone.

Thanks to everyone sharing and participating.

 

Full Virtual Blue Blog Tour schedule now posted

RJ VB banner

Tomorrow Comes Media has arranged for an intense week of blog posts in support of my new release Virtual Blue, with contests and reviews, plus several guest blogs from me: new interviews, in-depth thoughts about writing, insight into the creative process and lots of observations about my characters and stories.

We have an exciting week ahead, so how appropriate that the tour straddles Halloween! Check back frequently for new links as they go live. Fans of Blue and Rebecca Burton will find much to love here this week, and we should snag plenty of new readers as well. Check out the full schedule here and don’t be shy about telling everyone you know! 

Vampires Don’t Sparkle True Blood auction now live!

FINALVDS_coverIt’s been a privilege and honor to have the story Robot Vampire included in the anthology VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE because all proceeds go to cancer research. The collection is a labor of love by editor Michael West and features a table of contents of some of the most talented (and kindest) authors in the field.

Cancer has affected so many of us in so many personal ways, and we all hope for the day when it will no longer have that power over our lives again.

For this one volume, cast members of True Blood have offered their help by signing one copy of Vampires Don’t Sparkle, and publisher Seventh Star Press has put up for bid on Ebay. As with all sales of the book, all proceeds will go toward cancer research. To read all the details and place a bid on this special volume, click here!  

Spooky Author Book Bag Benefit Raffle to benefit MAP during Arts in the Park

DSCN1678This Saturday, the Mooresville Arts Partnership is re-launching Arts in the Park, an annual all day festival exhibiting and celebrating all aspects of art expression in the area. Local author R.J. Sullivan  has ask for “a little help from his friends” and gotten it from, dark fiction authors John F. Allen, Matthew Barron, Nicole Cushing,  and Crystal Leflar to instruct beginning-level writer’s workshops for all ages. Read all the details and sign up for a workshop time here!

We’ll also hold an all-day raffle at our canopy for a “Spooky Book Bag” of our work–$1 per ticket gets  you one chance to win a set of books valued at over $60 without signatures–and the authors will sign and personalize each book on request.

This way, you can personalize a book for every horror reader on your gift list–or have all the books signed to you and keep them–we won’t tell.

To enter, find the Horror Authors Canopy. Raffle tickets are $1 each. Enter as often as  you like. For each ticket you buy, we need your name and phone number (preferably a cell phone number you will be carrying with you at 5:30 that day, the time of the drawing) on the half  you leave in the raffle.

Some notes:

  • Everyone who participates in the writer workshops earns one free ticket for the raffle. Children must have the ticket filled out by a parent.
  • 100% of all proceeds go to MAP.
  • We’ll draw the winner following the 4 p.m. workshop, so some time after 5 p.m.
  • All tickets will be discarded responsibly. Tickets are to contact the winner. The rest will be destroyed.
  • Books will be “flat signed” unless the winner requests personalization. This will allow the authors to personalize books intended as gifts.
  • Parents take note: The books in the raffle and at the vendor tent contain adult content. We’ll do our best to sell responsibly, but we’re not going to card, nor will we judge what you let your kid read.

The Spooky Book Bag in detail. Links take  you to the Amazon page:

The God Killers by John F. Allen; Secular City Limits by Mattthew Barron; We Are Dust and Death to the Brothers Grimm, both with a story by Crystal Leflar; Haunting Obsession by R.J. Sullivan–and maybe more! Plus bookmarks and other doodads.

These books and more can be purchased all day at the vendor tent! Authors will be around to sign all day.

Indiana Horror Authors to offer workshops at Mooresville Arts in the Park

1017475_596956940325736_1669991594_nMooresville Arts in the Park
All Day Arts Festival Saturday, October 12!
Pioneer Park–Link to directions and park website
Flash fiction workshops and product tent!
Preregistration preferred, walk-ins welcome
Mooresville, IN
Website and Facebook

I’m very excited to announce an upcoming event taking place in my local community during the Arts in the Park festival at Pioneer Park Saturday, October 12, 2013. Several loccal local peer authors are joining me to serve as instructors during a series of free community workshops on crafting thrilling fiction. You’ll find us among dozens of community artists and performers who will sing, dance, and display their unique creations during the all-day festival. The event is free and open to the public.

We’re planning three one-hour sessions, aimed at, but not limited to, late elementary school through high school aged-writers-in-the-making. Adults who have recently caught the writing bug or who have put off their aspirations are also welcome. If you are interested in getting feedback from a professional author at no cost to you, you need to be here—don’t let the word “horror” scare you! We have an instructor to advise any beginner with a passion for writing thrilling tales of any genre.

The suggested format will be “flash fiction,” and the suggested theme will be “The Creature of Pioneer Park,” though writers are free to compose within their comfort zone. Writers can use the pens and paper provided, bring their own, or bring their laptops. Participants will spend the first half hour composing their work. During the last half hour, the authors will review the drafts and offer individualized instruction on how to best sharpen their writing skills. Writers may, alternatively, submit a pre-composed sample of their work for a critique (limit 1000 words).

Pre-registration is preferred, but walk-ins are welcome as long as we have the space. Click this link to pre-register.

The authors will strive to pair you with an instructor that best fits your style, and you will receive individualized instruction on your submission.

the-god-killers-cover SSPWhat is Flash Fiction? The unique challenge of flash fiction is to compose a “complete” story of roughly 1000 words. With fiction coming to readers on their pads, cell phones and reading devices, flash fiction has grown in popularity in recent years. It’s also ideal for a workshop. Not up the challenge? Don’t worry–writers may instead compose part of a larger story for review. To respect everyone’s time, instructors reserve the right to limit their review to roughly 1000 words per writer.

The Arts in the Park is an all-day event. The Artists’ Shelter will offer books by the instructors, who will be happy to sign and personalize every purchase. The free workshop sessions are courtesy of the Mooresville Arts Partnership, a non-profit organization that provides instruction in dance, tumble, visual arts, music, and drama to children and adults in the greater Mooresville area. Learn more at the MAP Website.

Here is the Facebook Arts in the Park event page and the Mooresville Pioneer Park Website.

The local author/instructors will include:

John F. Allen is an American speculative fiction author of Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Paranormal Mystery. He resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and two children. The God Killers, an urban fantasy, is his debut novel.

Matthew Barron spends his days mixing and analyzing human blood as a medical technologist in Indianapolis Indiana. His writing ranges from children’s books and short comics to robot erotica. His books The Lonely Princess and Secular City Limits are available now, and his short fiction has appeared in House of Horror, The Welcome to Indiana Comic Anthology, and the Roboterotica anthology.

children_of_no_oneNicole Cushing is an author of weird, dark fiction. Her debut novella, Children of No One, received praise from several prominent genre outlets (Famous Monsters of Filmland wrote: “If you read one debut this year, this should be the one you read.”) Forthcoming books include The Choir of Beasts and The New God.

*

Crystal Leflar is a blogger book reviewer, previously with Fantasy magazine and Afterthoughts.com, now for Horror Novel Reviews. She’s a promotion specialist and slush reader for Nightscape Press. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies and she has several projects in the works.

R.J. Sullivan (you’re on his website!) writes paranormal thrillers and is expanding into science fiction. He is known locally as the story editor for the Morgan County Business Leader and as business writer “Copybob.” His books include Haunting Obsession, Haunting Blue, and Virtual Blue. His short fiction has appeared in the acclaimed anthologies Dark Faith Invocations and Vampires Don’t Sparkle.

Going, Going, Gone

A look at gerunds.

We’ll conclude my trilogy of common words and phrases a new writer needs to eliminate by taking a look…er…with a quick look at gerunds, otherwise known as those pesky “i-n-g verbs.”

In a nutshell, gerunds are considered weak verb choices because they reflect “the act of being in the act”–which is why so many editors frown upon seeing so….er…frown so much when they see so many. To repeat myself a bit, we’re not talking about…er…the problem is not the use of gerunds, but the overuse.

In looking at…er…when I review my own rough drafts, I see i-n-g verbs sneak into my own narrative more than any other “prolific no-no.” In fact, while rereading….er….as I reread my digital copy of Virtual Blue, I see, in some passages, more i-n-g verbs stayed than I care for. The rule of thumb here is the same as the rest, a couple per page is okay. If you have a few per paragraph, things get ugly.

As you can see, rewriting…er…you can rewrite around most gerunds pretty easily during your…er…while you review your second draft. With few exceptions, there’s no reason to keep a gerund if you have other choices. All that said, there’s something to be said for a little variety, and like any other fine seasoning (not the same thing, it’s a noun), sprinkling a few….er…you’re okay if you  sprinkle in a few.

So, to review the basic no-nos (with links to the original articles)

Minimize passive verbs
Minimize adjectives and ly adverbs
Minimize gerunds

Next time, we’ll dig a little deeper into the art of storytelling (shut up) and the finer points of point of view.

Strictly, forcefully, authoritatively, kill your ly adverbs…mostly

The ly adverb stands as one flag to many editors that a writer lacks confidence. Stephen King makes the case in On Writing that if a scene is set well enough, if the characters are well-presented, a reader will know from context if a person shuts a door forcefully or gently or spoke harshly or any of these other unattractive adornments.

I’m inclined to agree, though like my previous blog on passive tense, I propose that weak prose comes from overuse rather than any use at all.  The overuse of ly adverbs results in “purple prose,” a melodramatic stew of hack writing hell.

Richard Sherman, the fictional book editor in the classic comedy The Seven Year Itch, describes purple prose as “All that inwardly downwardly pulsating and back with the hair spilled across the pillow malarkey!” And I don’t think I can say it better myself. Every ly verb breaks the fiction rule that “less is more”.

Like passive verbs, ly adverbs should be high on a writer’s extermination list. 9 times out of 10–no, 99 times out of 100–the ly occurrence in a rough draft can be phrased better without it. That said, in spite of King’s claim, even he has snuck in the occasional adverb when it best suits his purpose, as do many other pros.

Here’s a topic for another blog that I need to touch upon now–one difference between a beginner and a pro is that the pro learns and masters the rules. They are aware of the rule, and may make the occasional, conscious choice to break the rule when they know it best serves the story.

RJ’s rule of thumb: Once a chapter, a few times in a novel, those instances can stand as deliberate choices if the writer can defend them to him or her self. Several times a page, sorry, that’s weak writing, and the writer has some work to do.

There’s a second conversation about where the ly should go in sentence, and the most famous split infinitive of pop culture, Roddenberry’s “…to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Yes, I love it too, as much for The Shat’s delivery as the actual words, and having grown up with that phrase, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Written correctly, (see what I did there?) the phrase should be “….to go boldly where no man has gone before.” But no, I wouldn’t dream of changing it.

Another blog topic I may or may not tackle is on acceptable standards from long ago. (Beware the bad habits you can acquire from classic literature–like parenthetical asides, oh my!) So rather than quibble about the exceptions and the famous goofs, let’s just move forward and do better.

To Be or Not To Be–with apologies to Hamlet

The first of a new series on prose fiction do’s and don’ts for new writers.

The passive verb, the state of being, that is, those words your grammar teacher taught you: am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had–and for this conversation, mostly “was“–should be shunned from your prose, often and with prejudice.

I could have picked many topics to start this series, but if I had to point to the first I.D. card of the amateur writer, it is the proliferation of the word “was” sprinkled all over a manuscript draft.

And I’m not judging. This was my major crime against literature when I started out, until my mentor pointed it out and eventually broke me of the habit (Hi, Debra Holland).

A few simple reasons, with examples:

1. The active tense just plain sounds better.  

I was running to the store. vs
I ran to the store.

2. Passive tense lacks needed specifics.

He was tall. He was average looking. vs
He stood head and shoulders above his peers, though not many of them bothered to notice.

3. Passive tense shields accountability–the reason your local providers love it so much in those special snailmail deliveries.

Your cable was disconnected last Tuesday. (by… someone–your neighbors, aliens, terrorists, even! We surely don’t know) vs the far more accurate and damning
We disconnected your cable last Tuesday.

If you find one of your manuscripts is littered with passive verbs, take the time to rewrite it. You’ll be shocked at how much the same story “pops” when you’re done.

A word of caution: you can go overboard with this line of thinking. In fact, for awhile, I tried to remove 100% of any state of being from my prose. The dubious good news. It can be done, but such a path will make you a bit twitchy at parties, so years ago I made my peace with the passive tense and let a few slip back in. Sometimes “I am done with this topic” says it all, and that’s okay.

If you are one of these passive verb offenders, don’t beat yourself up. The good news is that it’s not too late to begin the training.

R.J’s rule of thumb, if you see four or five passive verbs in a paragraph (and we all slip, even those who are years beyond knowing better) you need to rework those sentences. If you’re seeing two or three per page, that’s probably fine.