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.

RJ to be at Imaginarium 2015

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

Next weekend I’ll be attending the Second Annual Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. Last year’s event was, quite simply, the most fun I had last year. With Seventh Star Press as a major organizer and several Speculative Fiction Guild authors well represented, I’m anticipating bigger, better, and more fun than ever.

What is Imaginaruim? Quite simply, If you love books and the people who write them, or you aspire to write and want an inspiring weekend training seminar, Imaginarium will be the place to be.

First of all, let’s get to a huge change over year one. The change that affects each and every one of you. The dealer’s room, crammed full of authors and vendors, will be free and open to the public. To participate in the programming, you need to buy a one-day or weekend pass, but if you just want to shop for yourself or for people on that list that starts to become relevant very soon, you can come and go as you like, free of charge. Click here to see Imaginarium’s website to read all the details about location, passes, hotel, etc.

11403423_1017912164885713_4460008536803645248_nYou’ll find me at a table with good buddies John F. Allen and Chris Garrison in the Seventh Star Press section. You’ll find my full array of books, which you can buy with cash or credit card all weekend. Autographs as always are free and worth every penny you pay. Here’s my price list:

10468076_813484258661839_5960947186833888854_nHaunting Blue $15
Haunting Obsession $10
Virtual Blue $15
Darkness with Chance of Whimsy $10
Lost Sole Ghosties $5 each or free with any purchase
I’ll also have special deals on multiple title purchases.

I’m on three panels this year, my schedule:

Fri, 7 pm in the Madison Room
Comics and the Silver Screen: Also with Glenn Porzig, John F. Allen, S.C. Houff, and T. Lee Harris

Sat, Noon in the Oldham Room
The Great Space Opera Debate: also with Dave Creek, Kathryn Sullivan, and Katina French

Sat, 9 pm in the Shelby Room
Writing a series: Also with Brick Marlin, Melissa Goodman, T. Lee Harris, and Teresa Reasor

Of course, you’re all coming just to see me, but you should know there’s dozens of panels for readers and writers, a movie screening room, a masquerade ball, and two free writer’s workshops. Hope to see you there! And if you can’t make it, follow my updates on Facebook and Instagram throughout the weekend.

Check out my photo album from Imaginarium 2014.

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.

Whimsy Preview: Starter Kit

DWACOW low rezClick here to read the previous entry of this series: Backstage Pass

“Starter Kit” was my first pro-rate sale, my only connection to an award-nominated collection (Lucy A. Snyder‘s chilling tale “Magdala Amydala” won the Stoker Award for best short story that year), and the first time I ended up in a table of contents with some writers I’d admired growing up and continue to admire. That the anthology came out through Apex Books also makes me unreasonably happy.

For all of these reasons, and maybe more, “Starter Kit” is one of two short stories I receive frequent comments (overwhelmingly positive) from the public (the other one will be discussed Monday when this series resumes after the weekend) so it’s appropriate that these two stories close the collection.

I share a bit more in the actual introduction to the story in my collection, so no need to repeat myself here. And so, without further delay, here’s the first couple hundred words of “Starter Kit.”
___

The cover of the anthology published by Apex Books.
The cover of the anthology published by Apex Books.

Rodget stepped into his foyer after a long day at work. He hung up his coat and gave his waiting wife a quick kiss. Already, he sensed something wrong, and when he saw Little Belljy looking at him with expectant, wide eyes, a sense of dread fell over him.

“It’s the tank,” his wife said.
Rodget squatted down, meeting his seven-year-old son eye to eye. “What’s up?”
“There’s no movement. I can’t see anything. Mom says it’s ruined, but I don’t think so.”

Rodget sighed. “Let’s take a look.” He followed his boy into the bedroom. The pressurized glass tank took up one entire wall. Unlike the tank he grew up with years ago, Belljy’s offered a backlit night monitor, computerized zoom, and other modern upgrades.

Rodget stepped up to the tank and squinted through the glass at the thick, milky white swirl contained within. From here, everything appeared normal. Glowing. Thriving. Hauntingly beautiful in its own exotic way. But the real damage wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye.
Rodget leaned over the tank’s mini-computer and called up the first set of coordinates. Frowning, he pulled the magnifier screen up to eye level and glanced at the numbers on the readout 357, 285, 13—one of hundreds of coordinates identifying growing civilizations. Two days ago, several had progressed to the space-exploration stage. From there it would only be a few more hours to faster-than-light travel. Just yesterday, Belljy ran into the room, excited to tell him that three of his planets had discovered each other and opened negotiations for trade.

Bracing himself, Rodget slid the magnifier left. The screen showed flashes of gas giants, rocky terrain, black holes, blinding suns. He synched the numbers in the upper-left corner of the magnifier to match… 357, 285, 13.
A smoking black ruin of a sphere centered on his screen, and Rodget couldn’t hide his disappointment. He stabbed the magnifier button several more times, closing in on a major city, hovels still smoking from the radiation, the bodies of tiny specks piled atop each other—broken, blackened, torn apart.

Next: The final entry: Robot Vampire
Click here to go to the dedicated ordering page of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy.

“Magi Mall Sale” on Gifts of the Magi

Gifts of the Magi cover by John F. Allen
Gifts of the Magi cover by John F. Allen

Now thru Friday, you can order the paperback edition of GIFTS OF THE MAGI: A SPECULATIVE FICTION COLLECTION at 15% Off, delivered just in time to fill out your Christmas list! Click here to read all the details on the SFG Website!

Red Lotus 2 now live

RL 2 coverYesterday Seventh Star Press launched Red Lotus: Innocence Lost, a “Super” Single short novella ebook at over 17,000 words (longer than a short story, but not a novel) for $1.99. The process started in the afternoon and took all day for all outlets to offer it. As with all my books, I have a devoted “leap” page for each product with all the details and the links that let you pick the outlet and format of choice with a click. All the links are live and you can view that page here.

While I was messing around with the new page, I kept tweaking with some other pages. I added a chronology to the Rebecca Burton Page and a similar list to the Blue Series page. I tweaked the look of the Haunting Obsession page And used John F. Allen’s art to spiffy up an introduction to the Red Lotus series and the first novella page, Fate of the Red Lotus.

So check it all out, look around, and I hope you enjoy Red Lotus: Innocence Lost as much as I enjoyed writing it.