RJ at Imaginarium this Weekend

MainPromoBanner-1_FacebookPageThis weekend I’ll be wandering the panels, parties, and workshops of the Fifth Annual Imaginarium Convention at Louisville , KY! What makes this year different from previous years is a lack of a vendor table base of operations. My  books will be available at the Seventh Star Press table and I’ll check in frequently, but I’m using this weekend to network and learn, so just keeping it real, finding me may be a bit tricky if you are shopping for books and doing little else. Continue reading “RJ at Imaginarium this Weekend”

RJ at Karen’s Book Barn Nov 5

 

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Me, John F. Allen, Chris Garrison, Mysti Parker

 

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Reece McKiernan at Inconjunction earlier this year

This Sat, Nov 5, Karen’s Book Barn in LaGrange, KY, (click the link for address, etc) is hosting a multi-author book signing, conveniently scheduled to help readers get a head start on their holiday shopping. We’ll all be there on site from 11 am-4 pm. Besides yours truly, many of my favorite author peeps will there, with our full array of titles that cover a spectrum of genres, including romance, ghost stories, superheroes, urban fantasy, steampunk, adventure, children’s, YA, science fiction, fairy tale, horror, fantasy, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Suffice it to say, you have a great chance of finding exactly what you’re looking for and getting it signed and personalized to that special someone (even if that special someone is you…that’s okay, we won’t tell).

Meet The Authors! (click on the name to see their online book catalog)

John F. Allen brings his unique voice to his Ivoryverse books populated with superhero, urban fantasy and Spy-fi fiction tales. Among my favorite titles: The GodKillers and his Knight Ranger series.

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My favorite photo of Katina French because Batgirl

Katina French writes stellar science fiction, fantasy and a unique mashup of steampunk fairy tales that I love.

Chris Garrison‘s books come in many favorite flavors, including dimension-hopping SF, Trans-Continental Steampunk pulp-style adventures, and her popular Tipsy Fairy Tales series.

Maurice McKiernan will offer his first horror short story collection Manuscripts of the Macabre in hardback and softcover editions (yes, I still need to read it, can’t you tell?)

Mysti Parker offers an array of romance titles and children’s books and another author whose writing I need to get better acquainted with.

And then there’s your humble blog host R.J. Sullivan (name listed for SEO purposes cuz I want ALL the hits!)   SF, fantasy, and ghost story titles which you can learn all about by clicking here.

All my titles are priced to meet or beat the internet. Autographs as always are FREE and worth every penny you pay! Karen’s Book Barn is just a couple hours away from Indianapolis, so come on down! What else have you got to do but stress about the election? Here’s a link to the official Multi-Author Book Signing Facebook Event Page.

Many thanks to Mysti for agreeing to let other authors “invade” her book signing.

 

Imaginarium 2015 Recap

I make this look good!
I make this look good!

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.

Your devil bartender Elizabeth Donald will serve you now.
Your devil bartender Elizabeth Donald will serve you now.

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)

Don't Panic! Arthur Dent and co. at the masquerade.
Don’t Panic! Arthur Dent and co. at the masquerade.

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!

Click here to see my complete photo album of the weekend.

Writing Tips Continued: Changing your Point of View

Point of View, part 3

In Point of View Part 2, I touched upon the magic of writing your stories from a point of view character and how this can make your stories come to life. (If you don’t remember, that was back in September, so check it out here) We’ve only scratched the surface of the intricacies and potential mistakes inherent of this sort of writing. It’s time to dig a little deeper. The summary first:

Once you begin a scene in a specific character’s point of view, stay in that character’s head at least until the scene concludes and you’re ready to start the next scene.

No exceptions. Read the above paragraph as many times as you need to until it sinks in. If you think about breaking the rule, smack yourself. Then read it again.

No. Really. Don’t ever do it. I know when I have posted other rules, I have, without exception so far, followed up with examples of when it is okay to break that rule. But there is no exception to this rule.

Well….that is…..

Okay, okay, okay!! There is one exception that I know of, and that applies to romance and erotica intimacy scenes, where “head hopping” (further defined below) to a certain extent is permitted, but  since I’m not the person to talk about this, watch for a future guest blog from the current president of the Indiana Romance Writer’s chapter. (THAT should keep people checking my page daily for awhile.)

So let’s dig a little deeper.

First, it’s a generally accepted rule of thumb that a short story should start in, and stay in, a single character’s point of view from beginning to end. And yes, you’ll find many exceptions to this (including stories that open with an omniscient voice as discussed here), but generally, editors take a dim view of short stories that shift the point of view during the narrative. Too much shifting in a short story will cause an editor to add your story to the reject pile. And unless there is a clear and obvious reason for doing so that benefits the story greatly, a short story should stick to one point of view.

A novel, because it is a longer narrative, offers more opportunity to shift points of view. In thrillers and similar genres, a storyteller can ratchet up the tension by jumping from the hero to an occasional scene with the villain, with a blatant or understood “meanwhile”.   In fiction with romantic elements, a scene with Him, followed by a scene with Her, certainly makes for a pleasant reading experience. Several ambitious novelists can weave an epic story shifting between six, eight or even more characters (but the rule of changing the character point of view only between scenes or chapters still applies). Stephen King’s epic THE STAND is one of the better-known of this sort of storytelling.

AN ASIDE: I’ve seen an interesting new form of “first person from multiple points of view” used in commercial epic fantasy. The change of point of view takes place every chapter, heading the chapter with the name of the character, followed by a first person narrative from that character’s point of view. Then the next chapter is named after another character, and the narrative proceeds in the first person, but in that new character’s point of view. If you want to read something pretty cool in such a style, check out the epic fantasy series by Daniel Abraham.

Now, returning to point one: Never ever, ever, switch points of view in the middle of a scene–at least, don’t do it on purpose. This is called “head-hopping.” It’s a common mistake for beginning writers, and so far, it seems no matter how “good” or experienced one gets, it’s still easy to do on accident, even after years of practice.

What do I mean by head hopping?

A quick and obvious example:

      Tom walked into the bar. He looked around and saw the gorgeous blonde sitting at the bar across the room.

     Tammy noticed the burly man approach. She shook her head and released a sigh. The last thing she needed was another slimeball trying to pick her up.

The first paragraph presents Tom’s point of view, then the second paragraph “hopped” to Tammy’s point of view. The presents a number of problems in storytelling, not the least of which is, there is no dramatic or story-related reason to change heads.

Here’s something for new writers to look for. If the responses to your story from trusted pre-readers is that “it was just okay” but no one can tell you why they weren’t into it, or why it didn’t move them, check to see if you were head hopping. Chances are, you were.

Even if a reader can’t articulate what was “wrong” with a scene or story, head-hopping, because of its flip-flop structure, causes a mental fatigue and affects a reader’s ability to “escape” into a story. (That, plus too much emphasis on the visual approach as discussed here are two big signs of a beginner)

Plus, head-hopping blows great opportunities for drama. Take Tom in our example. Suppose he considers himself a charmer with the ladies and decides to approach Tammy. Written from his perspective, he would be oblivious to her attitude, and his surprise when she tells him to buzz off becomes the reader’s surprise at the same moment.

So how to choose a point of view? The first thing a writer should do before composing any scene is determine: who is the central character of the scene? Sometimes this is obvious. If Tom talks to Tammy, then Tammy leaves, and Tom continues to talk with the bartender, then compose the entire scene from Tom’s point of view. Otherwise you need to break the scene and resume the action from the head of another character. Just think the scene through. The answer is not always that simple, but more often than not, it is.

Why does this work so well? Because as human beings, we live life confined to our own head, and sticking with one character best re-creates our life experience. It’s a view readers are most familiar with because they live it every day.

So whether we’re talking about deep third or first person, all a writer needs to do is compose each scene from inside the head of a single character’s POV and stick with it. Easy, right?

Wrong.

Because there are several ways this can get fouled up, and we’ll look at some examples in the next blog.